Sweater Weather

“To see the three Chiefs make a scoring rush, the bright colours of their jerseys… flashing against the milky ice, was to see a work of art in motion.” – Dickie Dunn


Ah, October. You’re almost here. I’m sleeping with the windows open, waiting on Orion to take his rightful place in the sky, keeping an eye out for the first hint of russet colors, oranges, scarlets, and golds amongst the leaves. I can smell wood smoke in the air, and gods help me: it’s hockey season.

The NHL may still be a few weeks away, but, ah…we’re in the midst of the best preseason in recent memory. The World Cup of Hockey is back, and tonight the best-of-three final gets underway, leaving about a week and a half of pre-season before an opening night rife with overlong ceremonies and banner raisings and such.

This year’s incarnation of the World Cup has been exemplary. From the inclusion of two “all-star” teams…North America, featuring skaters from the US and Canada no older than 23 years of age (a Young Stars team) and Team Europe, made up of all the NHL players from countries that would never be able to field a full team of NHL-caliber players (there’s like one guy from France playing in the show this season, and he’s on Team Europe.) The games have been exciting, the commentary stellar, and the uniforms…oh, baby…the unis are phenomenal. The company that owns Reebok and CCM happens to be none other than globally-known sports clothing manufacturer Adidas, and this year they decided to let the big boys design the sweaters for all the teams in the tournament. They all look amazing. Not just the design, but the drape, the cut, even the materials have looked modern, while being a vast improvement over the Rbk EDGE uniforms which have gradually evolved since 2007.

But now as the underdog Europe take on the unfairly stacked Canada, it’s time to see what’s what. Here’s my ranking of this year’s World Cup of Hockey national uniforms.


8. Czech Republic


They’re not terrible. They’re just…I dunno…do they look like a Southern Professional League outfit or what? Too many stripes and I don’t like the two-color sleeves. The yoke thing is weird, and there’s this big white rectangle on the bottom that looks like there’s supposed to be an advertisement there. But there isn’t. Maybe, since it’s Adidas, they thought they were making American football jerseys and that’s that thing a quarterback wears around his waist to keep his hands warm in.


7. Russia


Poor Russia has had uniform trouble since the dissolution of the USSR in the early-90’s. Remember the “Unified Team?” How about the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)? I recall a tournament when, I swear, they wore their regular Olympic CCCP sweaters, but they took the letters off, so they were just blank, like uncrested  practice jerseys. Anyway. This almost looks like the Czech uniform, but it’s better for a couple of reasons. One, the Russian red is a tad darker. I also prefer the stripes on the sleeves and those clean, square shoulder yokes, especially on the white jerseys. Plus, Russia’s crest is just better and more recognizable than the Czech one. That cool, old-school, czarist font is a nice touch, too. Overall, a pretty solid jersey, even if it sort of looks like something they’d wear in the original Rollerball movie or the NES Blades of Steel game. I guess there are worse comparisons.


6. U.S.A.


“Aw, come on!” You yell. “You’re an American! You gotta love our uniforms!” No. No, I do not. I ain’t gotta do shit, pal.The problem with these uniforms is, and really any Team USA outfit, is that it’s always going to be compared to the classic teams from 1980 and 1996. I honestly love the darker blue color scheme, and dig that white jersey’s stripes and yoke. What I don’t like is the “crest” on both versions. The shield on the blues is trying too hard to be “vintage.” They’ve tried this sort of thing before, and I’ve never been a fan. Then again, maybe it’s better than the weird font they used on the white jersey’s U.S.A. monogram. That lettering looks more like NES Ice Hockey than Blades of Steel, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Overall, these sweaters aren’t terrible…but much like the team that wore them, just not good enough for this tournament.


5. Finland


Oh, Finland. Good ol’ Finland. The Fightin’ Finns. Great hockey players. Proud history. And of late, they’ve been kicking all sorts of ass in international tournaments. So I’m not sure why they decided to wear soccer jerseys this time. Maybe they got confused by the “World Cup” in the title. I do love the clean looks, great colors, and simplicity. The Finns have used the “Suomi (Finnish)” word mark in years past, but I’m not crazy about it in the Montreal-style band across the chest. Maybe I just don’t like that lion crest, both the smaller one on the blue sweater and the larger one on the whites. Not sure why, though. Maybe it’s that they’ve got that sweet, clear, blue and white…and the lion’s red and gold is too much? Anyway, middle of the pack outfits this year.


4. Sweden


Damn fine uniforms, boys. Clean. Simple. No frills. I love the cuffs on each jersey, and really appreciate how they just flipped the color schemes. That gold has always been, well…gold, baby. The blue sets it off perfectly. The ONLY reason these babies aren’t ranked higher is, again, that weird stripe thing at the hem. I think on a normal sweater, it would wrap all the way around…but because of the trademark Adidas stripes up the sides, it doesn’t work. This feature is really the only thing I don’t appreciate overall regarding these Adidas uniforms. Sometimes the drei Streifen get in the way.


3. Team Europe


Boy, do I love the color schemes on the Europe uniforms. It’s so very mid-1990’s. It’s like you expect them to be playing beach roller hockey on ESPN2. The logo is brilliant.The only thing I’m not totally crazy about is, again, that weird soccer jersey aspect to the dark shirts. It looks like something a court jester would wear, divided down the middle like that. But the colors work, and it’s not totally crazy, but I still prefer the whites. And it’s totally contradictory to say this, but I love the way the colors are split up between the cuffs on the white sweaters.Navy blue on the left, that gorgeous aqua on the right. It’s a nice touch, and shows off the crazy-quilt, hodgepodge nature of the team itself.


2. North America


At the height of this tournament’s knockout round, you literally could not purchase a North America sweater from NHL.com, as they were completely sold out. I haven’t seen the figures, but I’ll bet these shirts have outsold all the others by like 3-to-1. That’s because everything about this team is so seriously badass. Essentially the farm club for the next edition’s Canadian and American teams, these kids showed grit, determination, and incredible, blinding, unbelievable speed. They represented the future of the sport, quite literally. And the uniforms were just as slick, just as deadly. I love almost everything about them. The color scheme, including that weird brushed-metal grey color. The crest is brilliant for so many reasons. The NA almost looks like N/A, like “Not applicable” or “Not available” or whatever, and the Roman numeral “23” represented as XXIII is such a cool touch, as it’s a nod to the maximum age of the players. I appreciate that little bit of built-in history. It’s a mark of pride. It says “We’re the kids, and we’re here to mess things up.” Even the triangle shape of the crest looks like some sort of Bizzaro Superman logo. There are only two things that I dislike about these beauties. One, the aforementioned weird stripe thing at the hem of the dark jerseys. What makes that bit even more frustrating is that they have a thinner version on the whites that goes all the way around the bottom! How hard was that, guys? And then there are the numbers. I don’t know, maybe they’re supposed to look like they were stenciled on or something. But they’re confusing, especially on the dark versions. Hard to read. So, two minor complaints. Just enough to keep the kids out of the top spot. But you knew who Number One was gonna be when you first started reading, didn’t you?


1. Canada


No hyperbole: these are the best Team Canada uniforms I’ve seen in ages. Maybe ever. Now, notice I didn’t say the best sweaters: I said uniforms. Top to bottom, the best. (Although, c’mon…the jerseys are the best in many years all by themselves.) The reason is simple. They’re the best reboot in history. Quick backstory here, and full disclosure. I own a replica Phil Esposito Summit Series sweater, and it’s one of my favorite jerseys. As an American, I was nevertheless fortunate enough to have plenty of access to Canadian TV. I watched the Ken Dryden’s Home Game mini-series wherein he covered the 1972 Summit Series. Then I watched the CBC special mini-series Summit on Ice. Years later, it was the NBC Sports “Cold War on Ice” that was a more concise, less-Canada-centric version of events. Anyway, seek all of these programs out if you truly want to understand the way hockey looked and felt back in the Cold War days, the Soviet days, the days when we all worried about nukes (instead of ISIS) and nobody wore helmets (except Paul Henderson.) Okay, I’m getting off subject. The point is those iconic Canada uniforms…the black pants and gloves, the big, stylized maple leaf making up the zig-zag front of the shirts and the cuffs…it was all perfect. And when you see Sid the Kid flying down the ice today, you can almost squint and imagine it’s Yvan Cournoyer. But nostalgia aside, the maple leaf crest on the 2016 jerseys is perfectly modern, yet reverent. Same for the maple leafs on the cuffs. Dig the simple black piping around the collar and outlining the crest. The black helmets and pants set it all off and bring it all together. I wish Canada would keep this look for the foreseeable future, just as I wish USA Hockey would simply update the old 1980 Miracle on Ice jerseys the way Canada has modernized a classic look from their history. Once again, the on-ice product from Canada trumps the USA. And so do their uniforms.



Q & A, Part Two

**Cracks knuckles.  Sips Scotch.  Exhales.  Turns to keyboard.**


Into part two.  Moar questions answered!  (And thanks for liking my Facebook page.  Seriously, it means a lot.  If you haven’t yet, feel free to visit it on the right-hand margin over there. I’ll wait.               Got it?  Good!)

Leslie asks “Is you mother still writing?”

Leslie and I are old theater cohorts, and she’s asking, literally, about my mom’s writing career.  Many people don’t know that my mother used to write romance novels.  She started out at Harlequin Romance, doing those monthly soft-core romances that you mom likes.  She dabbled with other publishers, and actually had a few books out with her name above the title.  In other words, her books said “LYNN TURNER” and then “NAME OF STORY” underneath.  And yes, Lynn Turner was a pen-name.  She took my middle name (yeah, so?  Lynn is just as masculine as…as…like, Dale or something) and first name, transposed them, and BAZINGA!  Fun fact:  later on, as the internet became “a thing” mom would do Alta Vista searches (remember AltaVista?  It was the Google of the mid-90’s) for “Lynn Turner” and found out that…SURPRISE!  Lynn Turner was a 90’s porn star.  Anyway, sadly, it’s been a  while since mom published anything.  She contributed a few items to anthologies and such for old editor friends, but nothing of late.  Perhaps she should start blogging…giving tips to aspiring writers and such.  Hint-hint, mom.  (Then again, she could be my editor, as I just finished a damned manuscript and have no self-control…)

This is actually still available for your NOOK reader!!

This is actually still available for your NOOK reader!!

A very special query from my dear friend Joe:  “Why do you do this on a weekly basis after our hockey games … Stand like Captain Morgan while holding a beer wearing ONLY your birthday suit or if I’m lucky you’ll throw on a shirt, but that’s it ?!?! I’ve seen your hog more than I’ve seen my own. Welp, see ya later.”

For those of  you that don’t know, Joe is one of my very best and dearest friends ever.  And I’m 43 years old, so that’s saying something.  Anyway, Joe is also the drummer in the band RAINS and my linemate on our beer-league hockey team.  Next to Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum, he’s the most famous guy I’ve ever shared the ice with.  But his distress comes from the fact that, yes, I often throw my “hog” out for display.  See, my “hog” has gotten me attention in the past (due to its shimmering, glistening beauty…and a purplish vein on the side that spells out ‘radiant’ in cursive and OH GOD, STOP TYPING!!)  Anyhoo…ol’ Joe’s penis has been known to cure blindness and make the crippled walk.  It also, ironically, has crippled non-believers who won’t accept that it is the ultimate power in the universe and STOP TYPING!!  NOW!! THAT IS AN ORDER!)

Rather than post a picture of my "hog" I decided to remind you that 'Back in the Day' is available right now on iTunes.  Ahem.

Rather than post a picture of my “hog” I decided to remind you that ‘Back in the Day’ is available right now on iTunes. Ahem.

Daniel (or, as we call him in da Fort ‘Porch’) has a good ‘un:  “Why are you a closet case for your love of Batman over Spider-man.. or.. what attracts you to Spider-man and when did you first feel that chub?”

I intend to do an entire blog about Spidey, who is the super-hero with whom I most identify.  He really does deserve his own blog, so deep are my affections for ol’ Web-Head.  But my Batman love isn’t closeted in any way.  I love Batsy. In fact, Batman and Ambush Bug are my all-time favorite DC Comics characters.  And if you don’t know who Ambush Bug is, please do yourself a favor and run (RUN, I SAID!! MOVE YOUR GODDAM FEET!) to your nearest (local) comic book store and inquire.  They’ll steer you right.

Ambush Bug: the ORIGINAL Deadpool.

Ambush Bug: the ORIGINAL Deadpool.

Time for one more?  Okay.  One more.

Finally, this question from Jess:  “How do you balance family/real life with the bear?”

She’s referring, of course, to my primary job, which is hosting the midday show on 98.9 the Bear in Ft. Wayne (but with online listenership spanning the literal globe!  Wae’aye, Newcastle!)  The thing is, the radio side of my life is part of my “normal” life and vise-versa.  See, nowadays radio guys are just like audio bloggers.  We use our lives as show-prep.  By that, I mean that what happens to us away from the radio station informs upon the show itself.  Follow?  John the Mexican talks about his new house during his show, Barry Thickk talks up his latest blowjob adventure (SPOILER: it was with a LADY!)  Hell, I just had my kids in to do a show with me AGAIN.  This, because I am sick and tired of trying to find childcare during this hellish winter that we’re having in the midwest. The point is that if you have a family, and you’re going to do radio, well…they’d better just get used to the idea.  This isn’t TV or movies.  You don’t get to shoot the scenes and go home.  You work at it, constantly.  24 hours a day.  Your life is show-prep, and radio is your life. That’s just how it is.  Concerts, remotes, appearances, guest-judging wet t-shirt contests…it’s all part of your life, and the other way around.  It’s why radio is so trying, demanding, and exhausting.  It’s also why it’s so blissful.  If you’re gonna stay in this biz…and I’ve been doing it for over twenty years…you learn that there’s no other way.  Radio = your life.  And the other way around.

Of course, sometimes your life demands that you hang with Corey Taylor.

Of course, sometimes your life demands that you hang with Corey Taylor.

Ooo, That Smell…

Mmmmm!  Cookies!

There aren’t really any cookies, mind you.  It was a trick.  A ruse.  I wanted you to start imagining fresh-baked cookies.  Sugar cookies, chocolate chip…those peanut butter ones that mom used to kind of press down on with a fork to make the crisscross hashmarks…doesn’t matter.  Because odds are you did think of cookies and there’s a chance that you thought of specific cookies.  That’s because the sense of smell is one powerful motherfucker and we totally take it for granted.  Also, smart people claim that it’s the sense most keenly tied to memory.  That girl you fell for that one crazy spring break?  You know her smell.  And it’s not just perfume and hair conditioning cream and fabric softener…it’s the sum of all of that and more.  It works the other way, too…that bitch from accounting that thought Obsession was the greatest fragrance EVAH?!?!  ERMAHGERD!!  You know, the one who you could literally smell as she got out of her car in the goddam parking lot?!  Yeah.  Now, no matter who’s wearing that particular perfume, you somehow know upon meeting them that you hate them a little bit.

Unless they look like this. I mean, c’mon…it’s just horrible, eye-burning, nostril-scorching perfume, right?

It works for things, too.  Things like tequila. You have a bottle of it, puke your guts out, and then the next time you’re out someone offers you a shot and you respond with (all together now!) “Dude, no.  I can’t even SMELL that stuff without puking.”    See, it’s science!  Your body has conditioned itself to avoid certain harmful substances, and tequila is certainly a harmful substance.  You’ll smell it before you taste it or even see it, because your sniffer works pretty damn good despite being less important now than it was six million years ago.  Good job, nostrils!

So here, then, are some of my FAVORITE smells.  Good ones.  Happy ones.  Scents that take me immediately to a happy place.  Like the beach, for example…

Surf Wax

Specifically, Sticky Bumps original surf wax.  Sure, Sex Wax is the one everyone talks about because the 80’s.  But this is the stuff, along with the occasional Mrs. Palmer’s, that made it onto my deck all the time, especially on the longboard.  The way it bumped up (hence the name) without having to go over it again and again was, well…magic.  But the SMELL!!  Imagine a tropical drink that featured coconut, vanilla, and blueberries.  Imagine your truck being filled with that awesomeness on the way to the beach, and then on you after laying on it and rubbing against it all day.  Wow, I just turned myself on a little bit.  Awesome.  I had some friends send me a few bars of this stuff a year or so ago even though I am currently land-locked with NO chance of surf.  But when I want to take a break and hit the beach, I take a good long pull off o’ one of these babies and I’m instantly there, even if only for a moment. 

Seriously, these stickers and that ‘Oakley Thermonuclear Protection’ shit…everywhere. The 80’s kinda sucked.

On the other end of the spectrum…

Ice Rink

This is one of those “greater than the sum of its parts” deals.  Yes, the actual ice itself is amazing.  Remember Doug Dorsey smelling the ice in The Cutting Edge?  That shit is legit, yo.  But it’s more than that for me.  The mouldy foam flooring, the hockey pucks…a new roll of hockey tape…the slightly sickening burning smell of someone heating up their stick blade along with the singed smell of the glue as it pops free…beer…all of it.  Any hockey player knows how comforting it is to get to a new rink in a new town and instantly know you’re at peace as soon as you walk in.  It’s a little like heaven.

These, however, smell HORRIBLE.

Patchouli (Yes, Patchouli) and Leather

I know.  Trust me, I know.  Hippies have ruined this for sooooo many people.  That’s because hippies don’t know that you’re only supposed to put a tiny pinpoint of this stuff on each wrist then rub them together.  That’s it.  That’s plenty. Those dirty bastards ladle it on by the gallon.  When so applied, it smells much like I imagine the Devil’s asshole must.  Horrible.  However, when I was a lad, it was the general scent of the counter-culture.  You’d smell it at punk shows, at Lollapalooza, the cool alternative bookstore (COUGH! The Abyss COUGH!) and so on.  The cool thing is, we all wore the standard Ramones-issue black leather motorcycle jacket.  Now, leather smells really good, especially new black leather.  Add just a hint of that hippie-juice and marinate for a few shows and smell your jackets wrist-holes.  Holy Mary, but that shit’s good.  It also happens to be the perfect example of how two different cultures can compliment each other in the right proportions.  But seriously, fuck you, hippies.

I seriously had to scour Google images to find a stock photo of a hippie and a punk together. Now to crop out the confused sick boy…

Murray’s Pomade

Let’s just address the elephant in the room right now.  This smells like black folks.  It does.  I’ve always loved this baby-powder-meets-honey-and-vanilla scent, but until I got older and started actually using it, I was just always envious of black folks and how good most of them smelled.  (Like any of us need to be any MORE envious of the fact that our Nubian brothers and sisters will ALWAYS be cooler than white folks, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins excluded.)  But man, I don’t care if I’m using this stuff on short hair to mess it up (like white folks do) or part or pomp it up (like white folks used to do) I love the smell.  No lie, I’ll sometimes open the orange tin (a lifetime supply!) and get a big whiff of it to carry me through the day.  There are other great-smelling hair care products…Dax Wave-n-Groom smells a bit like Murray’s, and if you add a topcoat of Tres Flores Brilliantine, you get a sublime mish-mash of powdery, waxy, wonderful-smelling awesomeness.  Good God, I want to eat my own hair now.  It’s that fucking good.  I’m waiting on a response from Jan Hella over at The Rebel Rouser to hear what his favorite pomade scent is.  If Murray’s doesn’t finish in the top-three, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

Ladies and gentlemen, something most of us will never see: the bottom of a tin of Murray’s. It’s…it’s beautiful…