Apr 07, '14 : The Impressionist

Filed under: Based on true events

I’m the kinda guy who’s fairly easily impressed by others. I may not always say it, or show it to the person in question, but in my heart I know it.

I look up to those people and I try to emulate them. Maybe I’ll start to dress like them, or I try to walk like them, or – just something. As a kid I taught myself how to fake Wayne Gretzky’s autograph, and I put a photo of Wayne over my own photo in my bus pass. When somebody told me I walked like Esa Peltonen, a Team Finland star, I made sure to keep walking that way.

When I was ten, or eleven, and read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to be Mark Twain. He's still my literary hero and one day I will have a mustache like that, too.

The red one.

» Continued

Apr 04, '14 : Me, superhero

Filed under: Based on true events

I was only ten years old when I realized the first of my superpowers. I was sitting in the backseat of our car, in a parking lot somewhere, waiting for my father to come back from the store or the hockey rink. For some reason, I wasn’t reading comics, or a book, but instead just looked out the window – like kids used to do back in the day.

As I was staring out the window, possibly trying to see if Dad was on his way back, I realized that I was actually looking right through a lamp post.

R.

» Continued

Mar 18, '14 : Tommy's mistake

“Hey, Jack,” said the young man with the aviator glasses.

“Hey, Tommy,” replied the man named Jack. He was sitting at a small round coffee table, with a paper cup and a newspaper in front of him.

Neither one said anything for a while as Tommy poured himself a cup of coffee, and then some milk, and sat down at the table.

Jack turned the page, then another, and when he finally had read the newspaper, he folded it up and threw it back on the table.

They sat at the table silent.

Then Tommy slammed his clipboard on the table.

“Here they are,” he said with a big grin on his face.

“Who’s here?” said Jack, and then barked:

“What are you doing here, Tommy?”

You can check out but you can never leave.

» Continued

Filed under: True story

One recent late night, when I should have been writing, and was instead scrolling up and down my Facebook page, I saw the status of an acquaintance of mine - a Formula One reporter on Finnish TV - in which he wrote: “Heard that a version of my name may have been used in the Donald Duck magazine. Can anybody confirm that?”

A couple of days later, I asked him if he’d heard anything. He hadn’t. Then I asked him why he had asked that. 

“It’d be a great honor to be featured in the Donald Duck magazine,” he said. 

Going places. Like Finland.

» Continued

Feb 22, '14 : My boy

Filed under: True story

Before Kurt Russell became Herb Brooks, the coach of the US hockey team in “Miracle”, the story of the team that beat the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, he was Elvis. And if you think he was a great Herb Brooks, I’m here to tell you he was an even better Elvis.

I saw “Elvis” with my best friend in a Saturday matinee in 1979, in a movie theatre a little outside the city, close to the store where Dad worked. Interestingly enough, when I looked up the movie right now, it’s listed as a TV movie, but I’m positive I saw it in a theatre. Or maybe we just had a huge TV, after all, Dad always made sure we had the latest TVs and VCRs.

Elvis.

» Continued

Feb 21, '14 : The diaries of a loser

Filed under: Hockey

And so it was over. I sat in the armchair, and watched the Swedes pile up into a huge blue and yellow ... painful lump of yuck!

I knew all the stories of the Swedes' golden generation, how Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Daniel Alfredsson "never got to win anything together in a big tournament."

I've always like Mats Sundin, and I was probably the only person in the stands during the World Championships final in 1997 to cheer for the Swedes over Canada. (Canada won). I think Peter Forsberg is an amazing player, and I even said before the tournament that Henrik Lundqvist is the goalie that can lead Sweden to Olympic gold.

I knew that. And, in a way, I wanted their stories to get the fairytale ending.

Sundin and Forsberg

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Ask a Finn about the “recent rise of great Finnish goaltenders” and he or she will be baffled.

The younger generation doesn’t understand the question because for them, Finland’s always produced great NHLers, such as Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Niklas Backström, Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask. Older fans think back to previous generations – Urpo Ylönen, Jarmo Myllys*, Kari Takko**, Markus Mattsson***, Jorma Valtonen, Hannu Kamppuri – and wonder what the fuss is about.

He shoots … he scores?

» Continued

Feb 03, '14 : The ugly duckling

Filed under: True story

If there ever was a grayer person, I had never seen him. He was so grey that the first time I saw him, I didn’t see him. But he must have skated past me. Now, I was standing on the sidelines, my eyes on Daughter out there learning to skate, so I didn’t pay attention to any other people on or off the ice.

I was also listening to music, so if the grey man had said something to me, I hadn't heard a word.

I don’t know how many times he skated past me, but at some point, the fact that somebody was regularly blocking my view of the ice did register, and I had a good look at the guilty party. Having read this far you already know that he was the grayest person I’d ever seen, but let me try to describe to you just how grey he was.

He's out there somewhere.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Here's an excerpt from This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles, Bernd Brückler's memoir of his three seasons in the KHL.

You can find the book on Amazon: English / German.

This excerpt is from the chapter called "Medicine Men".

This is more than sixteen pills.

» Continued

Jan 27, '14 : Make plays, not war

Filed under: Random

I don’t remember ever having been fascinated by war. I was never that kid with a big plastic bag full of toy soldiers, or the kid who wore camouflage pants weeks on end. I knew both those kids, and I also knew a third kid, who wore camouflage pants when he made short war movies, and taped firecrackers to his toy soldiers.

But not me.

I only had three toy soldiers, and mostly I made toiler paper parachutes for them, and threw them down the balcony. Or, to be honest, I threw them from my parents’ bed, but I always wanted to throw one down from our second-floor balcony to see how they’d fare. I knew I wasn’t supposed to throw stuff from the balcony so I didn’t. The only did I ever threw down was a brown, six-month-old Xmas tree which I didn’t want to carry down the stairs, but instead I just lifted it over the rail and let it drop onto the backyard parking area.

By then, I was already almost thirty.

This is what I think a professor of Soviet history looks like.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Here's a collection of excerpts of This is Russia: Life in the KHL - doctors, bazas, and millions of air miles:

The Hockey News: Money, and Brucks's accident
ESPN: Money
ESPN: Baza
This blog: Lokomotiv
This blog: Tarasenko
This blog: Medicine Men (Or why you need to take 16 pills a day)

Hey, governor!

Photo: Brucks meets the governor.

Jan 09, '14 : Tarasenko

Filed under: Hockey

Here's another excerpt from "This is Russia", Bernd Brückler's KHL memoir I co-authored. This is from the chapter in which he talks about the characters he played with and against in the KHL: Vladimir Tarasenko, an Olympian in about a month: "Vladimir may be the best player I’ve ever played with," says Brucks.

Just like Misha in Nizhny, Vladimir “Vova” Tarasenko is a homegrown star in Novosibirsk, and just like in Misha’s case, Vladimir’s father Andrei had been a national team player.

Vladimir grew up in Novosibirsk, and at 16 he played in the Superleague. Of course, “Vova” learned the game from his dad, who had been a great forward. Andrei was also our coach — he was the head coach first, but then switched places with former Toronto Maple Leafs player Dmitri Yushkevich and became assistant coach.

The St. Louis Blues had drafted Vlamidir in the first round in 2010, but he had stayed in the KHL for another year because Andrei thought it was best for Vladimir’s development. Vladimir wanted to stay so that he could play for his dad, the new head coach of Sibir.

Tarasenko.

» Continued

Jan 01, '14 : Year upgrades to 2014

Filed under: Lighter side

NEW YORK – It was worth all the hype. Just hours after its launch, “2014”, the latest version of Year, a life experience interface, has collected over seven billion users, making it the most popular Year in history.

Year has managed to add new users in most of its existing markets, a feat not many analysts thought was going to be possible. Also, while Year has dominated the global marketplace, it hasn’t always been embraced by the Chinese, leaving one of the biggest markets untapped, but “2014” seems to have broken that barrier.

The new Year is built on the same platform as the previous version, the “2013”, but users now can make slight modifications, such as opt for better nutritional and workout habits, a feature that the 2013 also initially had, but that disappeared mysteriously in early February in what is suspected to be an attack by the Anonymous.

» Continued

Dec 30, '13 : Top 10 entries of 2013

Filed under: Flashbacks

The moment you've been waiting for: The Top 10 entries on 2013. Here they are, by category, but in no particular order. Enjoy, and see you in 2014. Happy New Year!

Happy new year!

» Continued

Filed under: Random

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for using Santa Claus™ Global Services (SCGS). We hope you had a Santastic™ experience, and that we’ll see you again soon. Before that, though, we’d kindly ask you to fill in our customer satisfaction survey so that we can make your next experience even merrier.

The survey takes only three minutes to complete. Thank you, and ho, ho, ho.

Everything we do is dedicated to improving your customer experience

» Continued

Dec 24, '13 : Free Santa

Filed under: True story

A few weeks ago, Son told me that he’d started a little support campaign for Santa Claus at school. Some of the kids had teased him about believing in Santa - “come on, you’re a fifth-grader” - so he had walked around the schoolyard with signs that said something like, “Santa’s real”, and “Free Santa”. And while he may have walked in support of a 300-year-old man, he did it in a 21st century style, with hashtags #freesanta, and #gottabelieve written on the bottom of the signs.

On our way home that day, after he’d told me about his campaign, he asked me if he was being silly.

“I mean, you believe in Santa, right?” he asked me.

Ho, ho, ho!

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Here's an excerpt from This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles, Bernd Brückler's memoir of his three seasons in the Kontinentalnaya Hokkeynaya Liga (KHL), founded and financed by Russian oligarchs.

In 2011, "Brucks" signed with Sibir Novosibirsk, and succeeded Team Sweden goaltender Stefan Liv as the team's goaltender. A few months later, the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl perished in a plane crash as the team was on their way to their first regular season game of the season. Below is Brucks's story from the inside.

This is Brucks in a Torpedo Nizny Novgorod sweater.

» Continued

Dec 06, '13 : This is a book

This past fall, I helped Bernd Bruckler write a memoir of his time in the KHL. This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles finally appeared on Amazon today, so it's been a good day. Here's that link.

Wanna read a small sample of the book's "Money makes the world go 'round" chapter? Maybe? Here it is.

Oh, here's ThisIsRussiaTheBook.com.

And here's the cover:

This is Russia: Life in the KHL - Doctors, bazas and millions of air miles<br />

Nov 27, '13 : Monika

Filed under: True story

My first best friends were girls. The first of them all was S, the daughter of one of Dad’s best friends. She was born exactly a week after me, so having known her all my life, I guess she’s my oldest friend. She was the princess, I was the prince, her baby brother was the horse, as we got ready to live these lives of ours happily ever after. Just not together.

Then there was M, a girl I played with at Grandma’s place when I was maybe three or four, and us being friends seemed to be a big deal for Grandma who used to often bring it up years later.

“Oh, I remember how you guys used to play here, in that sandbox over there,” she’d say.

Or, “You were so cute, you and your friend M.”

Monika just outside of the photo.

» Continued

Filed under: Random

BRUSSELS – A big step towards world peace was taken today in the capital of Europe, as world leaders began the process of planning a special peace summit to discuss important matters in a wide range of topics, from financial to geopolitical to educational to philosophical and moral matters. Those unable to participate can join for parts of it via Skype, and those without a broadband Internet connection, can take part in the conference in spirit.

According to the confidential reports leaked to this reporter, representatives of all parts of the world, of all religions and faiths, and of all races and cultural enclaves will be invited to be in attendance.

The UN.

» Continued

Nov 14, '13 : A bunch of cool amateurs

Filed under: Hockey

These days when I’m bored and have nothing to do, I go on Facebook or read my Twitter feed - seems to me I’m bored way too much - but in another time when phones had cords and rotary dials, and the Love Boat was still roaming the seven seas, my options were to go outside and play hockey or stay at home and read a book.

Now, fortunately, Dad got bored even more than I did, and when he had nothing to do, we went for a drive.

“Wanna go for a drive?” he’d ask Mom and me, and if Mom said yes, we’d drive to friends, but if she didn’t, we almost always drove to a hockey rink. Maybe there was a game, maybe just a practice, or maybe we’d bump into some friends, and have a Coke and a donut at the cafeteria.

Or, maybe, if we were lucky, we’d see something better.

 salesmen, painters, students, pilot, doctor, cook

» Continued

Filed under: Random

They say we learn something new every day. Even I say that every once in a while, mostly when I realize I really have learned something new, often an unexpected fact. Then there are the things you learn and keep telling forward even though you really can’t explain them, not really, and even though you can’t be really sure if they’re true.

I have two such stories. I still keep telling them to people, even though I have no idea if they’re true or not, and if pressed, would probably guess that they’re not true.

In fact, I told one of them to our neighbors just the other day. We were sitting at a restaurant on the ferry to Finland, having met there by coincidence, and as we talked while the kids were in the playland, the ferry moved sideways a little. Not as if in a storm, but just a little so that people stopped walking on the decks, and grabbed a hold of the tables in the restaurants, leaning back, trying to figure out if the problem was the ferry or their heads.

Noooo!

» Continued

Oct 31, '13 : Special K

Filed under: True story

Son was at a Halloween party last week. It was a major milestone in his life - and mine - as it was the first after-school party he went to that wasn’t a birthday party. It was a Halloween party so they were asked to dress up in a costume.

Son decided he wanted to go as a Russian soldier.

Pumpkins.

» Continued

Oct 30, '13 : Down on the corner

Filed under: True story

On our way up to my Dad’s on the kids’ fall break, we stopped at a gas station to get some gas, sandwiches, and to go the bathroom. Son walked in, looked around the place, and the few people hunched over their cups of coffee and their donuts, and he said, with sunshine in his voice: “Dad, this is a typical Finnish hangout.”

And it was. The gas stations used to be where people hung out and back when I was a teenager, we only had two real coffee shops in town. One of them was across the street from my Dad’s store, the other next to a bank, and being a block away from the market square, a little too far for me. So, if I ever went to a café - which I hardly ever did - I’d pick the one across the street from Dad’s store.

My hangout was the cafeteria at the hockey rink. That’s where I always found buddies, but not having a cup of coffee, but playing Pac-Man or another arcade game.

And this is what the street used to look like

» Continued

Oct 28, '13 : First Euro NHL GM

Filed under: Hockey

COLUMBUS – Eight months ago, history was truly made in the NHL. Only, it wasn’t a scoring record, or a new champion, but instead, an off-ice move in which the Columbus Blue Jackets made Jarmo Kekäläinen the first European GM in the league’s history.

At the time, Kekäläinen was in the third year of his five-year contract as the GM of Jokerit Helsinki in the Finnish league, back on home turf after over a decade of traveling around Europe scouting for the Ottawa Senators and the St. Louis Blues.

“My dream has always been to become a GM in the NHL, and I never gave up that dream when I moved back to Finland to become the GM of Jokerit,” Kekäläinen told IIHF.com.

Kekäläinen in Stockholm in 2006. Photo: Susanne Kronholm.

» Continued

Oct 24, '13 : Rockface

Filed under: True story

For a short while, Son’s favorite song was one about a man on a polar expedition gone wrong. In the song, the man - his name is Alfred Pesonen - falls through the ice, but somehow gets back up and survives. The setback frustrates him, though, and he decides to go for an African expedition instead. While there, he sees elephants and, impressed by their size and strength - “that would beat even a walrus” - he decides to take a few of them with him to another polar expedition.

Unfortunately, the African elephants, not used to the arctic conditions, die, even though Alfred covers them with fur coats. Alfred gives up, and goes hunting for a white whale.

Years later, when scientists find them, they take them for mammoths.

Well, I can’t be entirely sure it was Son’s favorite song, because he was just a few months old when I sang it to him daily, but it’s one of the top songs on one of my favorite albums of all time: Kake Singers debut album from 1979.

Album back cover

» Continued

Oct 22, '13 : Nano, nano

Filed under: True story

A few weeks ago after dinner, Sister-in-law told us about a fun game she had played at work. Or, maybe it was a work-related event, because while guessing TV themes is no brain surgery, I wouldn’t want the actual brain surgeons humming the X-files tune when they ask for the scalpel.

She had her iPhone in her hand, and she played the tunes one by one. And Wife, me, and Brother-in-law shouted out our guesses.

“Twin Peaks!”
“Friends!”
“Seinfeld!”

And then, after the first few bars of another tune, while I was still trying to put the familiar tune together with the show, Brother-in-law yelled: “ALF!”

And I kicked myself under the table. Alf! I should have got that one. After all, I still quote jokes from Alf. Oneliners like, “Noses run in my family,”, “I kill me”, and “I guess you had to be there … I WAS!”

But out loud, I said, “Oh, of course … Alf … for Alien Life Form, but he was really Gordon Shumway from Melmac,” I said, in an attempt to show off my vast Alf knowledge, because, yes, my dinner companions just had to know that one 1980s orange puppet was “really” from “Melmac”.

Raised on television.

» Continued

Oct 07, '13 : Fool me once

Filed under: True story

Just like “there are times when the Phantom leaves the jungle and walks the streets of the town like an ordinary man”, you can sometimes spot me jogging a little around the neighborhood. Not very often, never far from home, but still, out there, with my lazy eye of the tiger.

Yesterday was one such day.

This is Litmanen, not me.

» Continued

Sep 24, '13 : Anticipation

Filed under: True story

Long before I had moved to Sweden, or met Wife, and long before there was Son and even longer for Daughter, I sat on a train. It was a red train, a commuter train, so you know it was a long time ago because it was when the trains were red, and the seats were blue, before the red-and-white and the green-and-blue-and-white trains, and before the platform at the Helsinki train station had got its roof.

Helsinki.

» Continued

Sep 09, '13 : Scar tissue

Filed under: Based on true events

“How come you don’t have any beard over here, where you have that scar?”
– Son, one recent Saturday


Right on the edge of my chin, on the left side, there's a scar. It's not a big one, just a couple of centimeters long, and since it is where it is, you don't really see it, especially if I'm clean shaven. But then I make a funny or scary face, or grin, the scar travels a little further up, and it’s there for you to see it.

And every once in a while when someone realizes I have a scar on my face, she asks me about it.

“How’d you get that scar?” she’ll say, and I’ll smile and say:

“You should see the other guy.”

And then I tell her the story.

This is some other scarface.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

Eight years ago, a young Finnish goalie name Tuukka Rask was excited because he had just been drafted into the NHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was only 18 years old, but his career plan was right on schedule. He had won the Finnish junior championship, recording six shutouts in 10 playoff games, and he had played in the IIHF World Junior Championship.

Today, Rask is the Boston Bruins' starting goaltender. His name is on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Bruins' championship team in 2011, and he might well have won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP had the Bruins beaten the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final in June.

And eight years from now? Rask hopes he's still wearing a Bruins sweater. Right after the Stanley Cup Final he said he wanted to play in Boston "forever," and in July he got his wish, "forever" with an asterisk, as he signed an eight-year, $56 million contract.

Tuukka in 2003.

» Continued

Aug 31, '13 : Glove is in the air

Filed under: Based on true events

Ever since I realized it was cool to have parents who have done extraordinary things, I’ve told all my friends that my father won a Finnish championship as a young man. It was a major ace in the hole when other kids were bragging about their parents’ successes.

Now, my Dad was no longer a player, like Lare’s father - who played Division II soccer - and my Dad wasn’t a candy wholesaler like Pekka’s, but he sure had won that Finnish title.

Except that he won it in pesäpallo, which while being Finland’s national sport, was, and is, also a small and rural sport, and therefore, not the coolest of sports.

Also, he only sort of won a championship. That he was on the team that won can’t be disputed and never will be disputed, because I have the evidence right in front of me. On my desk there’s a photo, a newspaper clipping, in which he’s holding the trophy and his teammates are all around him, beaming.

Proof!

» Continued

Aug 27, '13 : Lessons in style

Filed under: Random

If Richard Nixon could leave the White House for the last time in style, looking like a winner, after he’d been run out, forced out, after he’d lied to the nation, and had faced impeachment, you can emerge from your little adversities looking like a winner, too.

And that’s more than half the battle. If you look like a winner, you are a winner.

(Of course, results may vary).

Here are a few examples of situations you may find yourself in, and the proper response.

1. You go to an all-you-can eat tex-mex buffet, and just as you’ve loaded your plate with nachos and salsa, and guacamole, and cheese - a lot of cheese - and meat and beans, and just as you’re about to get some more nachos with your right hand, while balancing the tray with your left, you realize you forgot to get a glass, so you take a few steps back, then trip on the bag you left on the floor, and while trying to hold onto your food and the glass, you fail miserably at both, and drop everything on the floor.

As you get up and see the entire food court staring at you, you stand up, brush the nachos and the cheese - a lot of cheese - off your shirt, and you do this:

Nixon.

» Continued

Aug 11, '13 : Go [team]!

Filed under: True story

As I type this, every once in a while I catch a glimpse of something orange hovering over my keyboard. It's the plastic bracelet with the New York Mets' logo on it, together with their slogan, “Ya gotta believe!” I've been wearing it around my wrist for two weeks now.

I’ve been trying to become a fan for years. A fan of … anything, really, but mostly a team of some non-hockey sports team. My method has aways been the same: I first make up my mind about the sport, then go about deciding which team to choose – then buy that team’s fan merchandise.

Just a couple of Mets fans.

» Continued

Filed under: Letters

Dear co-rider,

In the spirit of John Lennon, a one-time New Yorker, I say: yes, yes is the answer. “Yes” is the answer to the question on everybody’s minds earlier today: “Do you smell something weird?” And “yes” is the answer to the question, “is that short fella standing in the middle of the car the source of said smell?”

So I say to all of you, yes, yes I did smell something weird, and yes, the smell seemed to be coming off that man –– and yes, I was that man.

Innocent people.

» Continued

Filed under: True story

My first trip to New York City was a 30-hour layover on my way from Montreal, Canada to Helsinki, Finland. I had been at a sports fair in Canada, and had somehow managed to convince my boss that it was a good idea for me to travel through JFK, and, well, did it really matter if I stayed there for three hours or thirty? He didn’t think it did.

That’s how I arrived in New York City late on a Friday night. I was going to stay at a friend’s place in New York, and not only had he welcomed me to his home, he had also arranged for a driver to greet me at the airport.

Ain't that America.

» Continued

Filed under: Story archives

One recent late night, when I should have been writing, and was instead scrolling up and down my Facebook page, I saw the status of an acquaintance of mine - a Formula One reporter on Finnish TV - in which he wrote: “Heard that a version of my name may have been used in the Donald Duck magazine. Can anybody confirm that?”

A couple of days later, I asked him if he’d heard anything. He hadn’t. Then I asked him why he had asked that. 

“It’d be a great honor to be featured in the Donald Duck magazine,” he said. 

We go back a long way. This is the oldest toy I have left.

» Continued

Jul 06, '13 : Smalltown, Finland

Filed under: Flashbacks

The gulls have taken over the market square. They’re everywhere, feasting on the remains of the day on the ground. There’s peas, strawberries, cloudberries, potatoes, Vietnamese food, pancakes. Donuts. Or parts of them, tiny parts of them.

The market square, the heart of the city, is now asleep. One of the cafés on the square has closed for the day, their red chairs stacked up outside their little house a sure sign of it, leaving nothing for interpretation. The other one is only half-full, when just two hours earlier they both had been packed and people had shuffled the chairs in new constellations as everybody wanted to fit under the shade.

The square.

» Continued

Jul 01, '13 : Ma MacGyver

Filed under: True story

One of the things I remember best from my time in the business school is how our law professor, who apparently was very famous in Finland, told the packed classroom that “a lawyer’s best friend is the telephone.”

Now, I’m no lawyer, but I always thought it was a clever thing to say, and I’ve always remembered it. Especially when I’ve had car trouble.

I know nothing about cars, so my best friend has been the phone. Most often the call has been placed to a person I like to call “Dad”. The car doesn’t start? Dad walks me through it.

“OK, give it gas, reeeeeally pump some gas, and then turn the ignition,” he’d say.

There’s a weird noise? Dad knew the cause.

Oh, and if the car still wouldn’t start? Dad always knows a guy who can come and tow me.

This is not the actual cable.

» Continued

Jun 24, '13 : Tarasov's life lessons

Filed under: Hockey

When I heard - or most likely read - somebody talk about the “five-hole” for the first time, I had no idea what it meant. I knew it was a hockey term, and I did know it was the goalie’s weak spot, but since the five-hole isn’t called “five-hole” in Finnish, I had to figure it out on my own.

And to me, the goalie’s weak spot number five was not between his legs, but instead, next to the post on the [left-catching] goalie’s glove side.

Not top shelf, and not under the glove, either, either, but next to the post, just stroking it on the way in. Top shelf was number 4, a low shot to the glove-side number 6. I had those numbers memorized, because I had seen a photo in a book, and the caption under it said that “scientific research has revealed goaltenders’ weak spots.” It even says, “hard shots to spot number five are difficult to stop even if the goalie has a quick glove hand.”

1, 2, 3...

» Continued

Filed under: Lighter side

The Tale of the Four-Eyed Medicine Man
By John H. Watson (MD)

What I am about to tell you is a true story, and the fact that I am here to re-tell it to you, is sufficient proof of its authenticity if a gentleman’s word isn’t enough.

As my practice has dwindled away in recent years, and with a gold-digger of a daughter-in-law circling around my humble house like a vulture, I have decided to do what I vowed I would never do. It is with a very heart I reach deep, deep, deep down to my archives, and dust off the last remaining stories I have buried there.

While I dislike bringing too much attention to myself, bear in mind that I do this only for financial gain, so pray send me a pound or two upon finishing these tales. After all, memories of Holmes are all I’ve got.

Yes, Sherlock Holmes.

Mr. Holmes, I presume.

» Continued

Filed under: Hockey

In 1977, after Boris Kulagin coached the Soviet Union to a World Championship silver medal for the second year in a row, he was relieved of his duties as the bench boss, and a new boss was called in. Viktor Tikhonov, a Moscow native, and a former Moscow Dynamo defenseman, rode back into his home town to take over the Red Army team, and the national team, which was practically the same thing.

By then, Kharlamov was 29, and one of the veteran players on the team. He was a two-time Olympic champion, and a six-time World Champion, and a national hero. None of that mattered to Tikhonov, already famous for his discipline and tough love towards his players.

Or, at least, tough something.

Jim Craig and Valeri

» Continued

Jun 18, '13 : The Discoverers

Filed under: Based on true events

Wife looked at me, and raised her eyebrows.

“You gotta do what you gotta do. There’s no other way,” I said.

“You’re right,” she said, got back on her bike, and kept on riding through the overgrown grass and some bushes. We were discovering things, and nobody said it would be easy.

X marks the spot.

» Continued

Filed under: Lighter side

Dear friends,

A few years ago, world’s leading scientists realized that due to some cosmic changes, our astrological signs weren’t valid anymore. At least one sign was missing completely and there was some confusion about the Sun’s place in the house.

We at IKEA, as you know, can’t stand any confusion in any house. According to our new strategy, we will become the “Google of the analog world”, and will help you organize, systemize, and simplify your life.

That’s why we’re proud to introduce to you the new, improved horoscopes, or IKEALOGY. No longer will you have to figure out the cutoff dates between two signs, because for simplicity - one of our key values - we kept the number of Ikealogical signs at twelve, but the new signs will align with the calendar system we’re so used to anyway.

Simple.

TARVA.

» Continued

May 31, '13 : You've got nail

Filed under: Random

Last weekend, I gave Son a task. A job to do. It was one of those bogus jobs you give to your kids so that they’d stop listening to mindless Minecraft parody songs while building Harry Potter scenes out of Lego, come out of their room and say hello to the sun. You know what I’m talking about.

So, I asked him to hammer all the nails on our porch stairs, and the deck, and make sure none of them stick out. (This, obviously, turned into a power struggle between Son and Daughter.) Just as obviously, Son was fast, and even more obviously, once the feeling of the honour of being chosen by Father wore off, he got bored.

He decided he needed a bigger hammer, so he ran back inside, and rummaged through the toolbox we have. One look at the toolbox would tell you that I’m not much of a handyman – if the fact that I told Son to “ask Mom” when he couldn’t find a hammer wasn’t already a dead giveaway.

Here he is.

» Continued

May 23, '13 : Cool? Me?

Filed under: True story

My Dad is, and has always been, a joker, a real prankster. He was also my hockey coach, so he knew all my friends, and sometimes that led to situations in which I didn’t think he was as cool as he thought he was – or as cool as my friends thought he was.

He was the guy who stuffed candy bars with salt and then gave them to kids on the team, or filled somebody’s pockets with a half dozen eggs when they didn’t pay attention.

My friends still tell me stories like that of my Dad, and while I laugh at the stories now, I also know I didn’t always laugh at them then.

It may be hard to be saint in the city, but I’m sure even The Boss would agree that it’s just as hard to be a cool Dad. It’s a moving target at best.

Joe Cool hanging around the student union

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May 21, '13 : Kings of Sweden

Filed under: Hockey

STOCKHOLM – Apparently there were a handful Swedes who had full confidence in their team before Sunday’s final. One of them was Carl Gustav XVI. The real king of Sweden.

“I was pretty calm,” His Majesty told the players when the newly-crowned world champions paid a visit at the Royal Palace in central Stockholm just 12 hours after they had beat Switzerland 5-1 in the final.

As the team presented the royal family with an autographed sweater, the players probably already heard the Poodles play their official tournament song - “En för alla för en”, or “one for all for one” - in the background because meanwhile, thousands and thousands of people gathered in Kungsträdgården, a recreational park that can be seen from the castle.

Kungsträdgården, “King’s garden” has in recent years become the new place for such events. Back in 2006, when Sweden won both the Olympic gold and the World Championship, the Olympic team had their parade end at Medborgarplatsen, a square on the south side of town, and the World Champions in Kungsträdgården.

Weeeeeee are the champions..

» Continued

May 08, '13 : El Guano

Filed under: Random

Right now, if I lift my eyes off the screen and stop typing this, I’ll see one of the most beautiful views over Helsinki. I’m sitting at an outside café on a hill, overlooking the bay, with the National opera, the Finlandia Hall, the National museum, the House of Parliament, the museum of modern art, and my old gym to my right.

And one lonesome swan slowly swimming across the bay from north to south.

Finlandia.

» Continued

Apr 24, '13 : Undercover agent

Filed under: True story

Had they not rebuilt the Joensuu rink the way they have, I’d be able to show you exactly where I was when I realized I wasn’t going to become a hockey star, down to an inch. It was the middle of the night, and my team had just got back from a road trip to the west coast of Finland. I had probably not played a lot so for me, it had mostly been a 12-hour bus ride across Finland, with Twisted Sister playing in my Walkman.

I got my hockey bag from the trunk of the bus, and as I lifted it on my shoulder and started to walk towards the arena entrance. And that’s where it finally dawned on me. I wasn’t going to be the next Gretzky, or even Matti Forss, my big idol in the Finnish league.

Show me the … door.

» Continued

Apr 18, '13 : This man's best friend

Filed under: True story

I lay in the backseat of our car, seemingly sleeping, but secretly eavesdropping on my parents’ conversation in front. Back then, kids could do that, and I usually sat in the back, on my knees on the hump that runs through the middle of the car, but my head between the two front seats – if I wasn’t reading comics, that is.

We were on our way home from my aunt’s place just outside Helsinki. We didn’t visit her often, and I didn’t really know her, which made me dread those trips a little, but that one time I almost didn’t want to go home, because in the back of her yard, behind a chicken netting fence, my aunt had a half a dozen German shepherd puppies.

Riku.

» Continued