Saturday, October 16, 2010

Canadian Spy: The Next Step

I’m taking this espionage thing to the next level, by learning French. Below is an excerpt of my first assignment en la cours de français, my first foray into introducing myself to francophones.

A Propos de Moi

Salut, mes amis. Je m’appelle Jim, mais ma famille et mes amis de hockey m’appellent Jimmy. Tout le monde pense que je suis Canadien. Je viens de Colorado—ou trois de mes quatre frères et mon papa habitent—mais je habite avec ma femme à Maynard. Je étudie le français parce que deux de mes amis de hockey parlent français, j’aime bien la musique de Céline Dion, y parce que ma femme et moi voyageons souvent a Canada. Nous adorons la Ville de Québec. Nous ne somme pas fans de l’équipe de hockey de Montréal, mais j’aime bien Patrice Bergeron, qui vient de Québec et qui joue pour les Bruins de Boston. Nous aimons les Bruins et le entraîneur, Claude Julien.

J’adore aussi lire les livres de Jacques Falla, Frank Delaney et George Plimpton; écouter et chanter la musique de les artistes canadiens comment Great Big Sea, Bryan Adams, y Les Ténors Canadiens; manger les beignes les démanche; et écrire de tout ces expériences.

Un de ces jours j’aimerais publier mon mémoire, Gloire AMHL: Une passion pour le hockey du matin (et beignes); écrire autres livres, et voyager à Nouveau Zélande—bien que ils ne pas parlent français allé.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

CanadAmerica and Beyond: Amiable Exchanges, Part II

Continued from Part I
(image courtesy of Gooslane Editions and BTC Audio Books)
Sunday, May 30
US/New Brunswick Border

An hour after crossing the border (and then the road leading to St. Andrew and the safe house by the sea), my wife/driver nudges me awake. “We’re in St. John,” she says.

“We won’t be arrested this time,” she says as we approach the toll booths before the bridge. (She exaggerates as she recalls an incident at the same bridge: A few years ago, we deposited the proper coinage, but the payment didn’t register. We kept driving, thus triggering sirens to alert provincial officials that track us to this day.

After a nice meal at East Side Mario’s (I recommend the Tuscan Chicken Salad) and a friendly conversation with our waitress (whose favourite donut at Timmy’s is the Boston Cream), Indigo Books and Music beseeches us to indulge our benevolent curiosity in all things Canadian. So we drive up Westmoreland Road, and then enter the bookstore atop the hill.

An author sits at a table near the front of the bookstore. She’s ready to engage in discussion about or sign a copy of the book she has written: Don Messer: The Man Behind the Music.

“Who’s Don Messer?” I ask her and then wince with regret as I anticipate the response. I should know this.

Johanna Bertin is surprised that someone, who sounds as Canadian as I do, does not recognize the name of such an endearing iconoclast. Yet, in True North fashion, she is happy to forgive my faux pas and engages in a friendly dialogue about the subject of her book.

“He was more popular than Hockey Night in Canada,” Bertin explains.

What prompted her to write the book?

Bertin paraphrases what she has written in the acknowledgements I will later read, “Thirty years ago, when I first moved to Harvey Station, New Brunswick, I considered writing a biography of Don Messer. A friend of mine lived in his boyhood home in Tweedside, just a few kilometers from my home, and as we spoke of Don’s accomplishments, it seemed to me they warranted recognition and celebration…”

I say I’m going to return the book I had selected off the shelf for Ms. Bertin’s book, and she becomes gleeful.

Always happy, she says, to learn what another writer thinks.

Back at the stateside safe house: From what I’ve read so far, I’m glad I swapped books. Ms. Bertin has written a superb story about a man whose legacy will hopefully become more recognized and celebrated south of the 49th parallel.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

CanadAmerica and Beyond: Amiable Exchanges, Part I

June 4, 2010

Escaping the authorities in their governmental grey and canteen green vehicles now a fait accompli, the AMHL Photographer/driver/reluctant accomplice and I are harboured at the stateside safe house. So I now transmit the following report—the first of three—about the friendly and free-flowing dialogue in CanadAmerica and beyond.

Sunday, May 30
US/New Brunswick Border

(Image courtesy of US Mission Canada at )

“Destination?” the Canadian customs officer asks.

“St. Andrews,” my driver responds.

How long are you staying?

"Until Tuesday."



Did you bring any plants or weapons with you?


“Mace?” he asks. “Pepper spray…surface-to-air missiles,” he concludes, his upper lip bending to complement the upward curve of his lower lip.

"No," my driver says, laughing.

The gatekeeper chuckles, not knowing that my driver will soon zoom past the road leading to St. Andrews and the safehouse by the sea.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics: Eh to Zed

Image courtesy of A Time to Blossom at

Inspired by Shane Koyczan’s “We Are More”, a poem about what it means to be Canadian (hint: more than saying “zed” instead of “zee”), I hope to highlight the defining memories—as they pertain to my mission—of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Games.

And in the spirit of the
Opening Ceremony, I invite you to participate in this endeavour. You—no matter the side of the 49th parallel in which you reside—don’t have to wear a white poncho or wave a penlight, but you’re welcome to help fill in the blanks below.
AAerial views and Alexandre Bilodeau: The video shown during the Opening Ceremony depicts Canada’s diverse geography, from Signal Hill atop the cliffs of Newfoundland & Labrador to the jagged majesty of mountains in British Colombia. And how about that lad who landed Canada’s first homegrown gold medal?

BBobby Orr and “Bang the Drum”. To the sixty-two-year-old kid from Parry Sound who helped usher in the Olympic flag and to the catchy tune by Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado. Well done.

CChris “Wheeler Dealer” Lord and Curling. Chris, in a story by Kevin Paul Dupont wrote, reminisces about the Olympic bus he loves—and is ready to sell. Curling (some say the sport the English invented and that Canadians mastered) is fantastic if not yet widely understood—all those rocks, skips, and ends.

DDavid Atkins and his team. Atkins, the mastermind behind the opening and ceremonies, delivered a dynamite opening night. Resplendent imagery evoked imagination and emotion. I marveled especially at the spouting whales swimming across the “floor.”


Fiddlers and First Nations. Merci to the opening ceremony performers—the frenetic fiddlers and the footloose First Nations members really cut a rug (French translation anyone?)

Gretzky lights the lamp, er cauldron.

Hannah Kearney. The American skier, whose mother grew up in Montreal and who has Canadian cousins, won gold in the freestyle mogul event. She defeated Canada’s Jenn Heil, but the gold medalist was humble (in true Canadian fashion) when she said on NBC that silver is nothing to be ashamed of.

Most Canadians are proud of their athletes, but maybe not as proud as they are of those who have lost their lives overseas. NBC honoured, with piece more than two years and then again in on the first night of Olympic coverage, these soldiers’ sacrifices by mentioning the Highway of Heroes.


Jon Montgomery: Gold medal around his neck and joy presiding on his face, the skeleton sledder from Manitoba sings O Canada.

KKennedy’s quote. NBC, in its coverage of the Opening Ceremony re-introduced Canada to America by way of JFK. Almost fifty years ago, in a speech to Canadian Parliament, he said, “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder. What unites us is far greater than what divides us.” Amen.

MMikey “Says He Wasn’t Good Enough to Play So He Becomes Part Owner of the Vancouver Giants” Bublé, Matt “Five-hole Goal” Lauer, and Mary “Mountie for a Day” Carillo. Mikey, whose hometown is Vancouver, gave NBC’s Today Show’s Matt a tour of the soulful singer’s favourite places, including the rink. The two lads “laced ‘em up” for a shootout during which Lauer flicked a nice wrist shot between the goalie’s legs.

Mary Carillo (NBC’s Canadian spy) donned the Red and Black and Stetson hat to learn more about how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) train. She spent a good chunk of her day marching in boots, running the obstacle course, and firing a weapon. She even drove a squad car. Although, some will say these short segments enforce only stereotypes of Canadians, I believe this feature focused on the commitment it takes to join the RCMP and the pride many Mounties demonstrate in performing their jobs.

PPatrice Bergeron: The Boston Bruins’ lone representative to Team Canada played only a handful of minutes, which baffled many a Black and Gold fan until we learned that he was hindered by a groin injury incurred in the first game. We’re proud of you, Patrice.


SStanding ovation. The home crowd, who had just witnessed its women’s hockey team rout (18–0) the Slovakia squad, rose to its feet to cheer the losing team. Talk about embracing the Olympic spirit, eh?

Sounds of Vancouver: From "Fire on the Mountain" to "Ordinary Miracle" to "the Olympic Flame", this CD is a testament to all those who prepared for, participated in, or witnessed the splendor of the 2010 Olympic Games.

Sid the Kid: Sensational skills that stoked a nation, priming Canadians for a celebratory closing ceremony.

U“USA! USA! USA!” the crowd—and not just Americans—shouted as the members of the Team USA women’s hockey team, received the last of their silver medals.

“We hope you loved the hockey. We hope you loved Canada. We did both.” –NBC’s Mike “Doc” Emerick as he concluded NBC’s broadcast of Team Canada’s gold medal victory over Team USA.

William Shatner: Crickets, canoes, and the Final Frontier

“You Gotta Be There,” says Michael J. Fox as he concludes the commercial. Amidst the host province’s natural splendor, the actor/writer/hockey player shares the stage with other BC natives: Ryan Reynolds, Erick McCormack, Kim Cattrall, Steve Nash, and Sarah McLachlan.

Zach Parise: The American scored the game-tying goal with 24.4 seconds to go in regulation, as his Canadian/Canadienne father, J.P., probably stifled a nationalistic groan in favor of a paternalistic cheer. Or maybe vice-versa.

Zed, Zee: Both are okay with me.