Friday, October 21, 2016

et ceteras

Eventually I will...
...opine about the election. But it's depressing because Clinton and Trump are both pretty much 100 percent guaranteed to be, um, deplorable as president. So, unable to make a case for either the GOP or Libertarian candidate (we'd have to go back to 1960 for me to make a case for a Democrat), I am choosing to write about things that aren't depressing.

Love Life
Several years ago I mentioned Steve Fugate in one of my blog posts. He walks across these United States -- literally, to the tune of 43,000 miles on eight walks through all of the Lower 48 -- imploring people to embrace and cherish the gift of life. It is a gift we've all been given but far too few of us appreciate.

I saw Mr. Fugate in the flesh on one occasion, more than 15 years ago, well before he thought of the mission that has become his calling. The occasion was the funeral of his son, Steve Jr., who took his own life. I semi-knew Steve Jr., having met and talked to him a couple times because he went to high school with Erika and, like many of her classmates, made his way from Vero Beach to Tampa after high school was over.

Some time after his only son deliberately perished, Mr. Fugate's only daughter accidentally perished at the feet of prescription drugs.

How is this not the most soul-crushing story ever? Well, Mr. Fugate decided to dispense love to strangers and friends across the fruited plain rather than poison his heart with bitterness. With less than $600 per month on which to live (a government check that, if my memory is accurate, owes to his prior military service) he hoisted his belongings on his back and in a cart; propped a sign atop his shoulders that says "Love Life"; and set out to wander our beautiful land and engage with people he met along the way.

His thoughts and anecdotes are insightful, original, and true, and some of them can be perused in his newly published book Love Life Walk. Go here to order it for yourself... and if you like what you read, leave a review on Amazon because the word on the street is that their algorithms steer more people to a title after it receives 50+ reviews (as of right now, his book has 42).

More Hockey, Part One
My October 14th post talked about a great rivalry being possible north of the border between the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers and Auston Matthews-led Toronto Maple Leafs. I went so far as to say it "could be similar to the Celtics/Bird vs. Lakers/Magic showdowns of the 1980's NBA."

But I should have also mentioned another team/player outfit north of the border, one I can't believe I overlooked because it involves my favorite NHL franchise from up there. I am talking, of course, about the Winnipeg Jets and Patrik Laine, the 18-year-old Finn they took with the second pick in June's draft.

Nine days ago Matthews blew the roof off by scoring four goals in his very first NHL regular season game. Then, two night ago, in the first head-to-head game between June's top two picks, Laine got the nod by recording a hat trick to lead the Jets to a 5-4 overtime victory over Matthews's Leafs. His heroics included the game-tying score in the final minute of regulation followed by the winner midway through OT -- a winner that came shortly after Matthews fired a would-be winner only to see Michael Hutchinson block it with a nifty save.

So coming off the first season in 46 years in which not a single Canadian franchise made the playoffs, what we have here is this: Three Canadian franchises, one from the eastern part of the country and one from the west and one from smack dab in the middle, all have hopeful futures and are led by teenagers who seem destined for superstardom.

And in a testament to one of the things that makes hockey the greatest sport going, those three teens come from three different nations, with Matthews hailing from Scottsdale, Arizona, Laine from Tampere, Finland, and McDavid from Richmond Hill, Ontario.

More Hockey, Part Two
It was announced yesterday that ESPN The Magazine named my Tampa Bay Lightning the number one franchise in all of professional sports (defined as the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB).

Amen!  And Yes!

I am obviously biased, but I do objectively believe the mag got it right. The Bolts play in one of the world's finest arenas; have sold out 69 straight games; are enormously fan- and family-friendly; are philanthropic and heavily involved in the community; have a right-minded and open-hearted owner; have made deep playoff runs the last two years despite having a young roster; are not cheapskates when it comes to salaries; and they do it all while having an average ticket price that is in the league's bottom fourth.

Thanks to the quality of the Lightning franchise, my burg on Florida's west coast is a true hockey town, as much as some places in Canada and a many places in New England and the Upper Midwest. Again I say: Amen! And Yes!


Leonard Cohen is still churning out material at age 82.

If you have to ask who Leonard Cohen is, that's fine. I'll just say that he wrote one of the greatest sings ever and it was performed most brilliantly by k.d. lang here.

And since we're talking about music, here is arguably the most haunting and goosebumping song ever. Largely because it's a true story. The writer/singer is Colin Hay, and if his voice sounds familiar it's because you are over 40 and he used to be the front man of Men At Work.

The fact that the great Charles Krauthammer's thoughts about Trump vs. Clinton echo my own warms the cockles of my heart.

Why Hillary Clinton should never be allowed close to the presidency.

Why a segment of Trump voters should never be allowed in polite society.

And now...'s time for a break. See ya later.