Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage on April 12, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
A version of this blog originally appeared on White Cover Magazine.
Blame Facebook if you want, if you're afraid to take responsibility.
Blame the Internet...
It's not enough to say that Jon Stewart was a pioneer -- that he completely invented a new form of comedy, of political satire behind a mock TV news desk, that he changed not only how politicians answered questions and handled the media, but how the media asked questions and...
White people suck.
We ruin everything. We suck the authenticity out, rip out the roots, and leave a Jamba Juice behind. Then we slap a 'Fair Trade' sticker on the front and say, "Hey, look, we're into the earth and hippy stuff, too. And that shot of liquified grass will...
I'm the owner of the few unpopular opinions.
Among the most serious -- I like ketchup on my fries, not on the side, I don't care if you do up your suit buttons, and I'm really starting to hate this new do-gooder Internet. (Maybe those are popular opinions,...
I started to get better at writing in my final year of university. Not even that I was good -- just that I started to get better. Really useful, eh? I get a four-year degree and I don't know what I'm doing until it's far too late to matter, until...
The Toronto Maple Leafs say they didn't mean to "snub" their fans last week, after a surprise 5-2 win over the Stamkos-buoyed Tampa Bay Lighting.
Whatever. If I'm a Leafs fan, I hope they did.
This team -- or any Canadian club, for that matter -- only plays...
Was it all just a dream?
Remember that, a couple years ago, when even David Stern was singing the Canucks' praises. David Stern. That basketball guy who gave us a team, left the car in the rain with keys in the ignition, and then watched Memphis steal our...
Thanks, party poopers.
The price tag for Vladimir Putin's Winter Olympics, (exaggerated but) reported to be around $51 billion, has apparently scared away any viable, desirable candidate for the IOC's next yet-to-be-decided Games.
Krakow, Poland withdrew from consideration for the 2022 Winter Olympics this week, following...
So Michael Sam is a distraction... and Johnny Manziel isn't?
They both have last names that splatter across the back of sold-out jerseys for their respective, new NFL teams -- Sam with St. Louis and Manziel with Cleveland. They're both known - both loved, really -- for being themselves and for being themselves in very different ways. Both of them had their first professional moments broadcast to all of America - Manziel for nearly all of the first round, Sam for a groundbreaking second in the seventh.
But when Sam's moment came, he kissed a man. And when Manziel's came, he massaged imaginary dollar bills.
Manziel's cockiness is seen as a boon to the Cleveland Browns, a franchise without a championship and usually without confidence. But Sam's issue -- he's the first openly gay player drafted into the testosterone-y, always-over-compensating-for-something National Football League, although he's not the first gay player in it -- is apparently a negative. Why else would the SEC's defensive player of the year have to wait until the 249th pick to finally be selected? Was it because the Rams knew that 31 other teams wouldn't take a chance on a guy who can polish a piece of hardware nobody else earned over the past year? And why did 31 teams turn their backs on Sam? Was it because they're not sure whether his game will translate to the NFL?
If Sam's distractions aren't seen as a negative, then why are they even referred to as distractions? Because it's really so terrible for someone known for who he is to bring added attention to his team?
I wonder, was Deion Sanders and his ridiculous, over-the-top personality a distraction when he won his two Super Bowls, with Dallas and San Francisco? What about when Deion was playing baseball, as well, during the summers? A two-sport athlete dividing his time between leagues that, supposedly, demand 100% of your time all the time... that was kosher, and Sam isn't?
Charley Haley won five Super Bowls. He referred to himself as "The Last Naked Warrior" and would routinely masturbate in front of his teammates. (You read that right. And Sam kissing a dude on live TV was too gay for the NFL's viewers to handle?)
Michael Vick murdered a bunch of dogs, went to jail, then returned to the league and was signed by Philadelphia. He's now quarterbacking the New York Jets and mentoring Geno Smith, another potential first-rounder who's stock collapsed -- Manziel-style -- during last year's also over-televised first round.
Were these players distractions? Certainly. But what football fan with a brain wouldn't want them on his team, or her team?
Didn't their play dictate their value? And why isn't Sam -- who hasn't done anything but come out of the closet, probably while Haley was again climaxing in public -- afforded the same equality?
And doesn't Manziel's college resume inspire the same sort of doubt as Sam's, perhaps even more so?
Johnny Football's fall to No. 22 on the Draft's first day was seen as some sort of shocking tumble. The 2012 Heisman winner watched as another quarterback, Blake Bortles, was selected at No. 3, and the room erupted with disbelief. Us television viewers had to look at Manziel's mug every time any other player was chosen from then until three-quarters through the first round... Manziel was the star of the Draft, even though he clearly was not the star of the Draft.
Manziel is, of course, a distraction. He will be a distraction in Cleveland. He'll certainly be a distraction to Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer is the Browns' current quartberack. What was he thinking, I wonder, when Manziel was chosen... when Manziel walked on stage like Caesar, I assume, first walked into Rome... when ESPN showed Browns fans exploding into cheers, high-fiving and probably crying out of joy, like their city had just been selected to host an Olympics?
Another guy already has the job Manziel covets and, apparently, is being groomed for. Cleveland must expect Hoyer to train the guy and coax another player for the gig he's done everything to earn for himself. And they must expect every receiver, offensive lineman, and running back on that team to take a ticket in tutoring the kid.
So, Manziel is certainly a distraction. But he isn't described as a distraction, and Michael Sam is.
I heard it today while driving to work in my car, as Dave Pratt (on Vancouver's Team 1040) questioned whether or not it was worth it to take a chance on a guy like Sam. You heard it when Sam came out a couple months ago. You heard it so much that Dallas's Dale Hansen had to deliver an impassioned editorial in support of Sam on WFAA, praising the defensive star and also vilifying anyone who dared stand in his way, symbolically or physically, to the NFL.
Calling Sam a distraction, or questioning whether his talent is soured by his admission... it's a way for ignorant people -- and, make no excuse, we are ALL arrogant about most things, almost everything, and certainly about whatever Sam has gone through and will go through -- to discuss his announcement without feeling as if they're saying anything offensive while doing so. They don't mean to be offensive, but they still are. (Well, some of them mean to.)
When has the National Football League ever had a problem with attention? When has it ever hated cameras?
The NFL has its own network... it's called the NFL Network. The guys who started and ran NFL Films are in the Hall of Fame. HBO runs a documentary about one team every year called Hard Knocks, where players are followed and interviewed during training camp. The Super Bowl is the most-watched television event in America every year, and it ain't even close.
And you want to tell me that Michael Sam's sexuality is a distraction? You want to tell me that his presence in the National Football League deserves to be questioned, while Manziel sprays Cleveland with champagne and Blake Bortles, a Central Florida kid, rides in and takes over Jacksonville?
Of course you do. Because the NFL is about all brotherhood, unless you're not like them.
*This was originally published on White Cover Magazine...
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:...
It's a joke. It really, truly is. But unfortunately, not everyone gets it.
Pushers for Trinity Western and its faith-based law school -- which is an oxymoron up there with civil war and old news -- would like you to believe this whole deal is about religious freedom....
I have feared (as a fan, not as a citizen of the earth) nights like last night since a very specific date: May 18, 2011.
That was the night that Vancouver beat San Jose 7-3 and opened up a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. It was also the night that Ben Eager -- the bushman goon of the Sharks who, when he choses a wiser route, is actually a pretty skilled player -- threw Daniel Sedin into the boards from behind, a good two feet off the wall and not far from the penalty box that Eager would inhabit moments later.
Daniel was unhurt, remarkably.
Eager got two minutes or something cheap and post-coitus like that, then challenged everyone in blue to a fight from behind the glass he put himself in. Eager went out and scored a late goal, cutting the lead to four.
Before the next match, all the talk was about whether Eager would play. His temper had cost San Jose a chance to contend in Game 2, they said, and Canucks fans gloated loudly that, "Hey, let him play! Our boys will just go around that talent-less sack and score!"
But I was in fear, as a fan. Daniel could have easily been carted off that night, like he was on Sunday when Calgary's Paul Byron -- an everyday AHLer who wanted to show the hockey world he existed in Game 82, a meaningless affair between two teams who collapsed long before the league's season season -- completed his check in the worst way possible, planting each of his hands on Daniel's 22 and slamming the two-goal twin into the end boards.
(And what if it wasn't Game 82 for Vancouver... what if they actually were heading to the playoffs? Wouldn't you be even more pissed off then, Canucks fans, if Sedin had to miss another first round or more because of a conscious cheap shot to your star player?)
I feared, way back in 2011, that the league's castoffs had figured out what they apparently now have: it doesn't matter if you do anything illegal in the NHL.
You'll get a refreshing, short suspension and the other team you just crippled will still be suffering from it when you get back.
Byron claimed he wasn't trying to hurt Sedin and I, of course, believe him.
Any other day, it's a pretty routine collision. But it wasn't any other day -- it was the last game of the season and Byron should know better.
If Byron expects to be an actual, 24-7 professional hockey player and not just a 5'7" on-loan mite from Abbotsford, he better learn to know better.
Then again, who says he has to?
That hit by Byron last night was a perfect showcase of the problems Brendan Shanahan has created and then left for this league going forward.
I realize being the NHL's disciplinarian is a thankless job, blah blah blah... But don't all of us have thankless jobs?
Under Shanahan's watch, the memo basically went out that the only way to take out star players was to do it illegally, and your repercussions were minor and temporary.
Like when Zdeno Chara slammed Max Pacioretty into the bench's stanchion in 2011 and then claimed it was a freak accident, like somehow the big Slovakian -- who had been playing hockey all his life, for 30-or so years -- didn't know where the benches were or what the danger was.
Like when Duncan Keith -- the dirtiest star playing the NHL -- savagely elbowed the same Sedin in the head a month out of the 2012 playoffs.
Keith got two games, which is a pretty typical length for the Shanahan regime - uninterested and unwilling to punish anyone who's last name isn't Torres. (That guy has been serving everyone else's suspensions since 2010.)
Pretty much the same thing happened with Keith in last year's playoffs, when he slashed Jeff Carter in the face in the Western Conference Final and got one game. I repeat... he slashed Jeff Carter in the face and got ONE game.
The fallout from that was minimal, because Carter wasn't hurt. I mean, I'm sure the slash in the teeth hurt, but he didn't miss any action. But still... Duncan Keith slashed another player in the head, with a full around-the-world swing, and he pled guilty for a shorter sentence, doing it all like he was the victim.
That stick was half an inch from things going a lot worse for Keith's soon-to-be Canadian Olympic teammate.
How about when Shea Weber slammed Henrik Zetterberg's head into the boards in their quarterfinal series in 2012? Zetterberg's helmet broke -- again, only chance kept him from spending months without the lights on. But Weber didn't receive a game, just because he had never been suspended before, and because Shanahan didn't feel like stepping up.
Does the league really care about concussions, or does it just care about them when somebody else is watching?
That is the danger, of course, with idolizing and then canonizing guys like Shanahan... terrific, Hall of Fame players who themselves had a hard-nosed edge to their style, who would have made the hit Byron made last night or would have tossed some guy's head into the glass when given the chance, and then they would have pled out the Canadian way - "I didn't mean it... I hope he's okay... I really didn't mean it..."
My favourite excuse is one that Byron gave last night: "You never like to see that stuff."
You never like to see that stuff?
Then why'd you do it?
But the league has always been careless about its priorities. It's not the United States or Sunrise, Florida that spoiled its brand, it was the NHL on its own. And when CONCUSSION reared its head as the newest PR buzzword for the league to pretend to cater to, the NHL went all Joe McCarthy on it and they witch-hunted the easy targets and left the Keiths and the Charas to feast on the finer things.
The league pulled itself up from its own mess and then blamed it on the janitor.
Like when Bud Selig watched baseball's biceps balloon and then pitchforked steroid users to save his own tush.
And so when I hear that Byron won't have a hearing for last night's hit, I know Canucks fans will be upset, but I don't care anymore.
What are they going to do? What if they gave Byron a hyperbolic 82-game suspension? What would that even do?
Byron's absence wouldn't hurt Calgary, it would only hurt Abbotsford. Bob Hartley would just have more to whine about. And Daniel Sedin still would have aged five years in half a second. Pundits will say the twins are getting older, that the best Canucks are past their primes, and maybe they are. But we'll never know if that's true, just like we'll never know what Paul Kariya could have been if Gary Suter hadn't rammed the Anaheim star's brain into 1936.
(*This was originally published on White Cover Magazine...)
That's the NHL right now. And it won't change until the players...
It was, honestly, a bittersweet symphony.
Because the Vancouver Canucks have plenty to crow about. Their comeback win over the Winnipeg Jets -- a comeback that didn't just continue but somehow picked up steam after Ryan Kesler collided with Jim Slater and left the game, possibly left his season, with a limp -- was as inspiring as any of their late-game collapses have been depressing.
On a night that Winnipeg poured it on when it could and nearly ended it at least twice -- an Andrew Ladd backhand that trickled through Eddie Lack's crease in overtime and an Evander Kane penalty shot that just barely whistled over the goalie's glove hand and protective post -- it was these Canucks that finally celebrated a "double-you."
This win was a little more fulfilling than their Saturday trumping of Calgary, somehow.
This win perhaps comes a lot too little, much too late. The playoffs are a dream now, not a chance... Vancouver making the playoffs is, at this point, as much of a mathematical possibility as you hitting snake eyes on the roulette table tonight.
This win comes with John Tortorella softer and quite likeable, even if his debut year coaching in Canada has gone as well as one of his interviews with Brooksie.
This win comes off the hands of Chris Higgins, of course, who is second to Ryan Kesler in the team's goal-scoring race. Higgy, as he'll be affectionately known for one night, put the winner away in the shootout, on a beautiful little, Patrick Kane-ish move that the easily confusable Ondrej Pavelec was quite clearly confused on.
This win comes off the persistence of Alex Burrows, the former go-to goal guy who somehow went 35 games without a marker until tonight, when he potted two and did so quite pretty-like -- one in his typical Burrows fashion, driving for a rebound he then flicked home like it was ball hockey, and the other by baseball-ing it past Pavelec at the side of the net.
It truly is incredible that Burr could go half a season squandering so many empty nets, so many decent efforts and one-timer from the slot, and then end up putting this goal in:
It was a vintage Burrows performance tonight in Manitoba, and it was a vintage Henrik performance, too.
Captain Sedin had enough to celebrate, with his 1,000th game and all. (He'll surely get a warm reception and some sort of shiny stick when he gets to Vancouver, along with a trip to Whistler for two or something.)
But Henrik the Hart was flying tonight. He sliced through the Jets in overtime, turning their teal and blue into some sort of bubble gum-like Picasso. You couldn't knock Henrik off the puck tonight, just like you couldn't through 40 minutes on Monday.
But the Canucks blew that one, as you know. Seven third-periods goals, inexplicably surrendered to a New York Islanders team that just as inexplicably scored them.
A 3-0 lead evaporated like Vitamin C on a stove. The hard-fought two-thirds from Henrik, Kesler, and Lack didn't matter when it mattered most, and Vancouver threw away their season -- for the final time -- in front of a home crowd that just wanted to get out of the building before traffic swelled.
That, really, is how it's gone this year in Vancouver. One night to symbolize them all.
And our fans' reaction to everything -- including their early flee for the inPark lots around Rogers Arena -- makes me think, regardless of how much you've hated the move of GM Mike Gillis or the style of coach John Tortorella, that firing them is a consequence and not a solution. It's all knee-jerk right now, because there's no way any of this was planned.
The fans have checked out. They're angry, but they've checked out. Hell, they checked out in June 2011, just after they put down the Molotov cocktails.
The players have checked out, and they look exhausted. It's not Tortorella's ice time that's killing them... it's the Luongo deal, the Schneider deal, and everything that's happened in the past three seasons.
They're chewing old gum, pretending they're still sucking sugar.
Kesler wants out, either reportedly or very realistically. Injuries have taken their toll and the players haven't paid the fee. The Canucks themselves are as much to blame for their downfall as Martin Hanzal is.
But there was life tonight. There was something that didn't let them bag that third period when it would have been -- finally -- understandable.
The Canucks haven't surprised anyone all season, but they've shocked them.
And on Wednesday, it was nice to see them playing hockey. It was nice to see them win one for themselves -- for Burrows, for their coach, and for that ugly Orca on the front of their sweaters.
Originally published on White Cover...
Here's the problem.
Everyone's talking about Sochi. It's mostly negative. But nobody's really there... including me. All I have to go on are the testimonials of a few privileged -- well, maybe not, if you've seen the photos or heard the tales --journalists, jet set super...
Full marks to Los Angeles, full marks to its fans, and full marks to the NHL.
We've only seen two Stadium Series games so far, and they're easily my favourite. Sure, I get a kick out of the Winter Classic and I'll enjoy the Heritage game when it comes to...
In my younger and more vulnerable years, I spent my summers in Manitoba, at our small cottage on Lake Winnipeg. Our summers were quiet. They were especially quiet when you were a kid, because you didn't have a lot besides arts and crafts and video games. Of course,...
I'll be that guy. I'm the wet blanket.
Sunday was probably just great for Saskatchewan. Just grrrreeeeaaaaaaat. I'm sure they were really happy. I know they want the Grey Cup every year. (But don't we all?) I know we have to celebrate them because they celebrate our Canadian game unlike...
I watched Kill Bill twice last weekend. I was sick and in bed the whole time and I didn't have a lot to do but drink green tea and hide my eyes.
Kill Bill came out in 2003 (on October 10, so this isn't exactly a "to the day" type...
I stumbled across an interesting piece of hyperventilated literature this week. It's the typical blog post: someone with a poor grasp of punctuation rambles on, finally getting something off his or her chest, something they just couldn't possibly leave alone. Until the next day, of course, when they're onto something...
Last Sunday, I spent Jesus's apparent day -- for the first time in nine weeks -- without Breaking Bad. Without Walter White or any of his tics, tendencies, or tacky style.
It was always that style -- that nerdy, so middle aged, so reluctant soccer dad style -- that I...
Think of that much-overused (and sometimes incorrect) line, "It's not personal. It's business."
Well, the Edmonton Oilers could learn a lot from it. Both Alberta teams, really. It's always seemed like the Flames and the Oil believe the only ones to hire are the ones from their backyard, from their past, or from their families. To hold onto your job as a coach, general manager, or player of either one of the Wild Rose Country's only NHL clubs, you have to have won a Cup in either city.
How else can you explain the firing of now-former general manager Steve Tambellini, especially since Kevin Lowe still holds his position as president of hockey operations?
They replaced Tamby with former Oilers player and coach Craig MacTavish, of course. MacT's been in Edmonton before, and for a long time. He won a few Cups, like, 20 or 30 years ago.
The Oilers knew what they were doing then. They don't anymore.
Just listen to this trade of Q & A between Edmonton Journal columnist John MacKinnon and Lowe from Monday's press conference, courtesy of the EJ:
Kevin Lowe: "We have two types of fans. We have paying customers and we have people that watch the game that we still care about, but certainly the people who go to the games and support, we spend a lot of time talking to them, delivering our message. I would, uh, I think it's safe to say that half the general managers in the National Hockey League would trade their roster for our roster right now. And in terms of the group that messed things up (voice rising) you're talking about the group that had the team one period away from winning the Stanley Cup."
John MacKinnon: "Seven years ago."
Lowe: "And you know the cycle of that. You know we chased the dream a few years for our fanbase. Like a lot of teams do. And then at some point in that time frame we realized that's a bad plan and we made a change. We're finishing year three of that plan. Now you say to me you're getting impatient after three years?"
MacKinnon: "It's not me. It's the fans that are getting impatient."
Lowe: "And lastly (talking loudly now) I'll say that there's one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there's ever a concern."
Have you ever seen a more imposing example of industrial-grade denial? In Lowe's world, dissent does equal disloyalty.
Even in the video above, listen to MacTavish blubber on about how the Oilers are still paying for the five Stanley Cups the Oilers won. He alludes to the cyclical nature of the sport and how you always follow a lot of winning with a little bit of losing.
It's as if the entire management group forgets just how long ago their glory days were. It's been 23 years since the Oilers last won the Stanley Cup. It's been 25 years since Gretzky was last an Oiler. It's been a very long time since either Lowe or MacTavish played in the NHL, and even longer since they were a part of that Oiler dynasty.
If I'm an Oiler fan -- and, I really don't mind them at all -- I got even more worried watching that farce of a press conference today. I've just realized that everyone in charge of my favourite hockey team has as much value as Tim McGraw's character from Friday Night Lights.
Lowe and MacT aren't just getting jobs because of something they did a quarter century ago. They actually believe in themselves because of it.
These guys talk about hockey like daily newspaper columnists talk about print journalism.
This is a team that still has Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff on its books. Lowe has his job seemingly because he's always been an Oiler -- except for all those years when he wasn't, which kind of makes him the Michael Ignatieff of hockey -- even though he no doubt had a hand in or approved in every move Tambellini made as general manager.
Lowe also bobbled two successive offer sheets to then-restricted free agents Dustin Penner and Thomas Vanek. One worked out, and it was a terrible experiment. The second didn't work out, and Lowe got lucky with that one. Without Vanek, the Oilers saved themselves some very vital draft picks and prospects -- draft picks and prospects who are now the only reason this team has a heart beat, even if it's restricted to life support and a hospital bed.
In fact, Lowe's been around for all of Edmonton's recent years, and don't go thinking he's some kind of mad genius because of a flukey playoff run in 2006 (even if he does). I don't see the Canucks bringing back anyone from 1982 -- or 1994 -- and I don't remember the Habs hanging onto Guy Carbonneau for longer than they needed to.
The Flames, for their part, have just stopped turning to anyone with the last name Sutter. They seem to think everyone from Alberta should be a Flame, and they've been playing pre-Lockout hockey ever since the Lockout.
(And, I'm talking about the 2005 lockout.)
Say what you will about the Leafs, the Canucks, the Senators, or the Jets, but at least they seem to draft and sign players because of how well they play hockey, not because of where their birth certificate was issued.
Even the Habs have finally gotten over drafting players just based on whether they're bilingual -- a tactic that hasn't worked out since before Guy LaFleur was a Viagra spokesperson -- and now they're finally in contention for a Stanley Cup. Their captain (Brian Gionta) is American, their best two rookies are British Columbian and the Belarussian-American (Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk) and their goaltender is from a small town in Western Canada (Carey Price).
The Habs have also finally stopped listening to their fans, at last realizing that democracy isn't at its best when it's truly a democracy.
The Oilers and Flames, meanwhile, continue to talk about their futures without any concept of what a future is (although I'll give Calgary a lot of credit for finally trading Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester).
Sure, Edmonton's had some success lately with No. 1 picks like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov, and Lowe is no doubt pretty proud of himself ("I think it's safe to say that half the general managers in the National Hockey League would trade their roster for our roster right now").
Of course, they had to finish last -- or second last -- every year to get those picks, and all three of them were consensus Number Ones.
That's not called skill. It's a silver lining.
When this season's over, both Calgary and Edmonton will have gone playoff-less since 2009.
That's not Tambellini's fault. It's Alberta's.
This was originally posted on White Cover...