Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Your Annual Chronicle Guide to Christmas Gifts for Fans of the Hockey! Part I

To be honest, I'd still highly recommend all of the stuff we recommended last year (see here, here, and here). But there are always new hockey items to introduce to our decaying global market (which is comically just as bad now as it was a year ago). Here are some of them.

Another Donald Duck Hockey Figurine!

Why, hello there, angry duck! We recommended a Donald Duck hockey figurine last year, but this one is much more menacing and aggressive. You can use the likes of this to add macho vibes to your emasculated Bed, Bath, and Beyond-furnished apartment. It's well known that Donald likes the Hockey, so you could also treat your nearest and dearest to a viewing of the not-strictly-Christmas-but-hey-it's-a-winter-classic The Hockey Champ.

What else?

Why, it's Wayne Gretzky's wine collection!

Bourdeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, northern California, southern Australia, the part of Chile between the Andes and the coast, and now Niagara, Ontario. The greatest hockey player of all time, I've just learned, has his own winery in good old Niagara, just across the falls from that other place. No. 99 Esates, he calls it, for mysterious reasons. He seems to have all kinds of stuff on offer, and between you and me I think I'll be ordering a bottle of the 2006 Shiraz Cabernet for Big Shooter.

Having trouble finding someone to drop the puck at your beer league or street hockey games? Try this:

It's always difficult to 1) find an impartial official to actually drop the thing, and 2) drop it without giving one of the centers some kind of edge. Well, mesdames and sirs, an enterprising Rear Admiral has found a purpose for all of the U.S. military's bitchin' bomb-defusing robots when our various exciting wars come to an end: digitally-programmed, ultra-precise referees. Red Wings fans will complain about their calls. Get ahead of the curve and buy one for your league now!

And finally, a bunch of hockey-themed books that I'm just cold stealing from Joe Pelletier's invaluable website Hockey Book Reviews.

Do you like autobiographies? Your editor must admit he doesn't have a whole lot of time for them, though there are always exceptions: Goethe, Stendhal, Ben Sonnenberg...actually I'm full of shit; there are a ton of interesting autobiographies. I like lurid Hollywood ones especially. ANYWAY, do you have any interest in reading about the life and times of Bruce Boudreau? Thought not, but if you know anyone who does you can give them his autobiography, all about his rise from minor league player then coach to coach of (arguably) the best team in the NHL. Disappointingly, the book is said to be "PG-13."

And then there's Canadian journalist Stephen Brunt's Gretzky's Tears, which everyone has been raving about since it came out. This one, I must say, I'd be much more interested to read. It's about the big Gretzky trade, when Peter Pocklington shipped #99 from Edmonton to Niagara, to make wine.

Odes to great athletes have been a feature of poetry from Pindar to Marianne Moore. With that in mind, several people who should know have advised you and me to check out Randall Maggs' book Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems. It's a cycle of poems all about, as you might imagine, the great Terry Sawchuk. I have to admit that I'm not as knowledgeable as I could be about current Canadian poetry, so I'd never heard of Randall Maggs before this book appeared. But these lines, which paint a picture of the goalie (all goalies, not just Sawchuk) as a lonely, solitary figure with a monk-like devotion to his work---strike me as pretty damn good indeed:

Denied the leap and dash up the ice,
what goalies know is side to side, an inwardness of monk
and cell. They scrape. They sweep. Their eyes are elsewhere
as they contemplate their narrow place. Like saints, they pray for nothing,
which brings grace. Off-days, what they want is space. They sit apart
in bars. They know the length of streets in twenty cities.

More later.

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