The Chip Quips Repository

 

 

Chip Quips is the highest rated chip-based Instagram show in which I review different kinds of chips. I like chips! All of the episodes are posted here.

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Episode 1: Humpty Dumpty All Dressed Party Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 2: Ketchup Doritos

 

 

 

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 2: Ketchup Doritos. It's a brand new episode of Chip Quips, y'all! #chipquips

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Episode 3: President’s Choice Turkey Stuffing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 3: PC Turkey Stuffing #chipquips

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Episode 4: Ruffles Mozzarella and Marinara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 4: Ruffles Mozzarella 'n Marinara #chipquips #mozzarellaandmarinara #ruffles

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Episode 5: Hawkins Cheezies

 

 

 

 

Episode 6: Hostess Hickory Sticks

 

 

Episode 7: No Name Regular Ripple Cut

 

Episode 8: Doritos Roulette

 

 

 

 

 

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 8: Doritos Roulette #chipquips

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Episode 9: Our Compliments Extraaa! Flavour Barbecue

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 9: Our Compliments Extraaa! Flavour Barbecue. #chipquips #banff

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Episode 10: Kettle Maple and Bacon

Episode 11: Krispy Kernels Corn Chips with Flax (Bad Lip Reading Edition)

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 11: Krispy Kernels Corn Chips with Flax. Bad lip reading edition. #chipquips

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Episode 12: Nongshim Shrimp Cracker

Episode 13: Miss Vickie’s Sour Cream and Caramelized Onion

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 13: Miss Vickie's Sour Cream and Caramelized Onion #chipquips

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Episode 14: Ketchup Pringles

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 14: Ketchup Pringles. Kids Song Sing-A-Long Edition. #chipquips #pringles #ketchup

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Episode 15: Kettle Hawaiian BBQ and Kettle Moscow Mule

Episode 17: Old Dutch BBQ

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 17: Old Dutch BBQ #chipquips #olddutch #bbq #csimiami

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Episode 18: Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot

Episode 19: Burts Guinness

Chip Quips, Season 1, Episode 19: Burts Guinness Chip #chipquips

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Episode 20: President’s Choice Poutine

Episode 21: Covered Bridge Atlantic Lobster

Episode 22: Pizza Pringles

Episode 23: Torres Selecta Caviar

Unauthorized Episode by my Nephews and Niece: No Name Ripple

Episode 24: Lay’s Dill Pickle

Episode 25: Humpty Dumpty Ketchup Ringalos

Episode 26: Club Supreme Dollarama Party Mix

Episode 27: Frank “Brings the Wings” Buffalo Chicken Wings

Episode 28: Chester’s Corn Twists

Episode 29: Lay’s Bolognese

Episode 30: AH Excellent Zeezout & Rozemarijn

Episode 31: Frit Ravich Onduladas Jamon

Episode 32: Risi Risketos Original

Episode 33: Frit Ravich Churreria

Episode 34: President’s Choice Smokin’ Stampede Barbecue

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The 1994 Junior High Awards

Good evening fellow students, teachers, parents, family and friends. Welcome to the 1994 Junior High awards. It’s my great pleasure to be hosting such an auspicious event under the bright lights of the school cafeteria that has been hastily converted into a banquet hall for the night. Some of you may know me as “that kid from home room last year” or “that kid who wears the Mondetta sweater with the Swiss flag on it” or “that kid who walks laps around the hallways during lunch hour with a purposeful gait to appear as if he’s going somewhere even though he’s just trying to kill time and not have to sit alone.” When I was asked to host tonight’s ceremony, I was both honoured and intimidated. I mean, who would have thought they’d enlist an unassuming 14-year-old in Grade 8 whose two main interests include Sega Genesis and, more recently, swimsuit model Kathy Ireland? I’m not exactly the triple threat of Billy Crystal but I’ll do my best.

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A lot has been going on in the world so far this year, hasn’t it? NAFTA came into force at the beginning of the year. Shout out to NAFTA. Us students, of course, have no clue what that is as we’ve been too busy in Social Studies class trying to memorize the provincial capitals for our final exam next week. Mr. Murdoch – is he here tonight? – you aren’t going to trip us up again on that whole Saint John versus St. John’s thing – we all know the apostrophe “belongs” to Newfoundland. You old dog, you. Or should I say, you old Labrador? Our Language Arts teacher, Miss Hall, would call that wordplay.

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In other news, it’s been over a year of Bill Clinton as the President of the United States. Slick Willie seems alright. He’s no Jean Chrétien though, is he? Now that dude is a straight up gangster. When Chrétien followed through on his Liberal Red Book promise to put six billion dollars into an infrastructure program, I was like, “Whaaaaaaat?!” No doubt we had our own wild year in school politics. It was a tumultuous election for next year’s student body president with Sandy losing narrowly to Andre with a record 5% of students casting a vote. However, scandal ensued when it was discovered that the current president, Paul, was propping up his buddy Andre as a Manchurian candidate so that he could continue his mandate to have Pogs recognized as official school currency. After it was revealed that Paul promised several students a pack of Sodalicious fruit snacks if they voted for Andre and sworn testimony from Andre that he “didn’t even wanna be ‘presented’ (sic),” Sandy was awarded the presidency. Good luck to her next year!

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But enough about politics. It’s been an interesting year so far in sports. The New York Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup. Then those crazy Canucks fans nearly burned their city to the ground in a riot. Damn. Not a great look for Canadian hockey fans but sometimes you have to make mistakes so that you don’t repeat them. On a similar note, in local sports our junior varsity girls volleyball team made it all the way to the city championships where they lost three sets to two in the semi-finals. One of the parents had to be forcibly removed from the gymnasium after threatening the referee’s life. Charges are pending but we all support Elsie’s mom. That net violation call was borderline at best.

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In entertainment, we’ve seen a lot of great movies. Ace Ventura is simply the greatest thing that’s ever been put to film. Who would have thought that pretending to talk out of your butt would be so funny? The answer is everyone who goes to junior high. Literally all of us. The movie Blank Check delighted teens everywhere with the story of a 13-year-old kid who forges a check for a million dollars which, of course, is the most amount of money possible. He spends the million frivolously on a castle-style house and extravagant toys until he’s forced into debt, teaching us the important lesson that it would be mind-blowingly awesome to have a million dollars. Meanwhile, our drama department was no slouch when it came to putting on an entertaining show. The showcase this year was a production of the Gilbert and Sullivan musical H.M.S. Pinafore. Nothing draws in the junior high-age crowds like a 120-year-old operetta about marine romance. Leading man Drew put in a tour de force performance as The Captain, although some would question Mrs. Abernathy’s decision to cast a pubescent mezzo-soprano boy in a role intended for a baritone. Regardless, the arts critic (Mrs. Abernathy) raved in the Monday morning newsletter.

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So now let’s talk about what we’re all here for. Tonight is the night we hand out awards for excellence in a wide range of fields. And seeing how it’s a packed house, you’re all clearly just as excited as I am to recognize the amazing accomplishments of our students and teachers. I see that Alison and Darryl are here – they’re nominated for best couple for the second year in a row. They’re sitting together so I assume they’re back on good terms. How many times have you two broken up this year? Half a dozen times? I’m just funning you two, you’ll always be together. There’s Tanis – her nod for boldest fashion statement is not without controversy as these nominations were made a few days after she was the first person to wear a pair of overalls with one of the straps undone. Two weeks after she started this fad, Tanis was actually one of the most vocal opponents of the “posers” who followed her lead. That stuff is too wild for me. Give me a No Fear shirt with some trash talk written on the back and a pair of heavily pleated Buffalo jeans and I feel like Zack Morris. By the way, you’re looking rad tonight in that Hyper-Colour tee, Tanis. Arthur’s here to accept his award for coolest dance moves. He won by acclimation as he’s actually the only person to have ever busted a move at a school dance. And I’m pretty sure he was dancing sarcastically.

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We will pause in the middle of the traditional categories to recognize Grade Niner Terry who will receive the first annual Thinking Outside the Box Honour which will henceforth be awarded to a student who uses creativity and innovation to excel scholastically. I myself owe a debt of gratitude to Terry for his landmark idea to look up the volume of the encyclopedia for the capital city of the country on which a term paper is based when the volume for the country has been checked out or stolen from the library. I found myself in quite the bind last month when my paper on Peru was due and I couldn’t find the P in the library. How else would I possibly learn anything about Peru without that section of the encyclopedia? It would be physically impossible! But then I remembered Terry’s sage advice – find the capital city and you can still turn in a decent paper! Fortunately, “L” was available and I managed a B+ paper based on the information I found on Lima. God help you if you’re assigned a country like Belgium whose capital is Brussels and the “B” is missing. But the idea is brilliant, nonetheless. Thank you Terry!

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While it’s nice to recognize students, we would be remiss if we didn’t hand out a few awards to faculty. Mr. Halpern, the computer teacher, is here – everyone give him a hand. He’s nominated for best vocational teacher. I can attest to his effectiveness as an instructor as he taught us Grade 8s how to create two-dimensional images on a computer screen of all places. Only 10 months and roughly 2000 lines of code later, I managed to create a computer image that resembles Fido Dido. It would’ve looked better but I ran out of memory on my 8-inch floppy disc. He’ll be in tough against Mrs. Belltram who teaches home economics – surely none of us will forget how to stitch together a plush toy after taking her class. And while that’s a vital skill, there may be no expertise more invaluable than the ability to develop our own film in a dark room as taught by our third nominee, Mr. Mooney.

fido

Now, before we start handing out these awards, I just want to reiterate what an honour it is to be a part of this prestigious ceremony. And I think it’s important that we all reflect on how lucky we are to be here in this moment celebrating the positives. Sure, we have our flaws. There are things that we’d all like to change about ourselves. And, at times, we might think that being in junior high is the absolute worst. And sometimes we dream of days to come when everything is different. And easier. And just better. But I have a feeling that one day we’ll look back fondly and reflect on how these halcyon days were some of the best times of our lives. Or, at the very least, they made us into the people we will become. Once again, thank you for being a part of it all.

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So let’s get the festivities started, shall we? Our first presenter is Bradley who will be handing out the award for student with the most obscure sports team on their Starter jacket…

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Expedia Fails to Reason

When teaching Intro Psych an important topic covered in the chapter on Thinking is deductive reasoning. This form of reasoning involves taking general premises and coming to specific conclusions. A good way to demonstrate how deductive reasoning works is to use syllogisms which are logical arguments that use deductive reasoning to come to a conclusion based on propositions assumed to be true. Here’s one I like to start with:

Proposition 1: All professors are awesome.

Proposition 2: Will is a professor.

Conclusion: ?

I ask the class to say in unison the conclusion that can be drawn. I ask them to shout it out loud. And then I ask them to repeat it. And again. And again. And as they chant “Will is Awesome!” I’m popping and locking. The chants become louder and more organic and suddenly I’m garnering millions of views on Snapchat – “Yo, check out my awesome prof!”

prof

Trust me, we’ll get to Expedia in a minute.

We all use deductive reasoning on an informal level. It is often very intuitive. Suppose you’re a carny (a respectable one, not those filthy scam artists who run the impossible-to-climb rope ladders) and you’re running a roller coaster and you know that riders must be at least five feet tall to be allowed to ride. Now suppose Paul and Alice show up to the ride. Alice is taller than Paul. If Paul stands by the measuring stick and demonstrates to you that he’s tall enough to ride, Alice doesn’t have to go stand by the measuring stick for you to figure out whether she’s tall enough to ride. It’s not like you would say, “Well I’m stumped. Alice, go stand by the measuring stick. God only knows whether you’re tall enough.” No, you wouldn’t do that. Because you’re not an idiot. You use deduction. It’s not complicated.

Let’s try one more.

Proposition 1: Lukin is the only 14-year-old dappled miniature dachshund in Halifax.

Proposition 2: Will lives in Halifax with a 14-year-old dappled miniature dachshund.

Conclusion: ?

It’s pretty clear that Will’s dog is Lukin. Right? Yeah, you get it because you’re not an unreasonable asshat. You can use deductive reasoning.

Okay, now to the point of this post. A couple weeks ago I booked a return flight through Expedia (technically Expedia For TD which is my Visa card rewards program). The flight was booked on Tuesday and on Wednesday the cost of the flight went down. Expedia has a best price guarantee where if you find a lower price for your flight within 24 hours of your purchase you can send in a screenshot of the lower price for the same flight and Expedia will reimburse the price difference.  I sent in a price match guarantee form with a screenshot of the lower price and 4 days later they sent an email rejecting it with the only reason that my screenshot didn’t show the flight numbers.

flight

My first thought was, “Oh shit, that was silly of me. Of course they’d need the flight numbers to know that I was making a claim for the same flight. What an incredible dumb-dumb I am.” And then I went to look at the screenshot that I sent in to verify that the pertinent information was indeed not provided. And this is what I had sent in:

hfx-cgylowerpricesheada

Let’s just look at the first flight. The screenshot indicates the date (April 6, 2017), the airline (Westjet), the departure time (7:45 AM), the airports (YHZ-YYC), and the fact that it’s a non-stop flight.

Alright, let’s look on the Expedia website to see how many flights match those criteria:

oneway

Hmmm, what do you know? It appears that there is only one flight matching those criteria – flight WestJet 229.

Time for a syllogism!

Proposition 1: The only non-stop flight on Thursday, April 6, 2017 from Halifax (YHZ) to Calgary (YYC) leaving at 7:45 AM is WestJet 229.

Proposition 2: Will has a ticket for a non-stop flight on Thursday, April 6, 2017 from Halifax (YHZ) to Calgary (YYC) leaving at 7:45 AM.

Conclusion: ?

The ONLY conclusion that can be made here is that Will has a ticket for WestJet 229. There is no other possible conclusion. The premises are true. Therefore, the conclusion is correct.

So the flight number was not in the screenshot but I provided the flight number indirectly. I figured this could be cleared up easily so I gave Expedia a call. What followed was a torturous hour long phone conversation with multiple people at Expedia whose only reply to my explanation was that I didn’t follow the terms and conditions so I would not be getting the price match. I asked to speak to supervisors and supervisors of supervisors and each one simply said that I didn’t qualify for the price match because of the missing flight number. I tried repeatedly to explain the reasoning and they either ignored the explanation or outright denied the logic. My breaking point was when I asked “Monica” to at least acknowledge that there is only one non-stop flight on Thursday, April 6, 2017 from Halifax (YHZ) to Calgary (YYC) leaving at 7:45 AM and that flight is WestJet 229. She refused to do so. They were basically gaslighting me at that point. I couldn’t take it anymore so I hung up.

I subsequently posted my concerns on the Expedia page on Facebook and it was deleted. I tweeted at Expedia and they told me to reply to the email from Expedia rejecting my claim. I reposted my concerns on their Facebook page and they sent me a message saying it was being handled via Twitter. I replied to the email rejecting my claim. Several days later I received a reply:

Please note that it has been mentioned on our website that your screen shot “Must be “Apples to Apples” Comparison.

The Best Price Guarantee is available only for exact itinerary matches, for example, specific carrier or provider (including class of service), hotel (including room type), cabin category, rental car company and vehicle class, applicable refund policy, and the exact same dates and times of travel or service as booked through ExpediaForTD. For any stand-alone product booking (for example, a hotel room), the comparison must be to the same product purchased stand-alone through another website (i.e., not part of a hotel + air travel package). Except as noted below, the Best Price Guarantee applies only to the cost of booked travel, as presented in the ExpediaForTD search results, without including any taxes and fees.

That form email is nonsense and basically ignores all of the arguments I made in my email. The itineraries are exact matches. As I’ve explained over and over the flight number can be easily deduced based on the information provided in my screenshot. I took my concerns back to Twitter and the following DM conversation took place with “AS” at Expedia. It’s almost too absurd to believe.

twitter

The most frustrating part of this experience is that through all of these interactions nobody at Expedia will acknowledge that the flight number can be deduced from the information in the screenshot I provided. They just flat out refuse to do it. They cannot possibly be that dumb, can they?

Can they?

I understand the purpose of Terms and Conditions. Companies need to put these conditions in place to prevent unscrupulous customers from taking advantage of them. If Expedia didn’t require a screenshot with the flight info, they would have to rely on the customer’s word that they found a lower price and obviously that would leave them open to exploitation. So, by all means, they should strictly enforce their rules in cases where someone is trying to pull a fast one. But what about individual cases in which it is determined that there is no underhandedness involved and it can be easily verified that the screenshot submitted is for the same flight?

Unless Expedia thinks I’m up to something here. But I mean, what scam could I be pulling here? What elaborate ruse have I concocted in which I’ve provided a screenshot containing all the information necessary to deduce a specific flight number to dishonestly claim that a lower-priced flight exists? What Ocean’s Eleven-type heist have I dreamed up to grift $60 from the Expedia coffers?

How is it that Expedia’s customer service cannot use discretion to overrule the claim denial with a reasonable assessment of the situation? In my job, I have terms and conditions as well and I use discretion when interpreting whether those conditions have been met. For example, it is written in my course outlines that if you miss an exam and don’t notify me in advance and provide supporting documentation for your absence, you receive a zero on the exam. So if a student were to miss the exam and several days AFTER tells me that she was attacked by a rabid honey badger on her way to the exam but was able to provide a note signed by the doctor who treated her for honey badger-related injuries as well as a fellow student’s YouTube video posted before the exam of her being attacked that morning by a honey badger, I would absolutely make an exception. Because although she didn’t exactly follow the terms and conditions from my outline by not notifying me before the exam, she provided irrefutable proof that she was not physically able to make the exam. When she approached me with her evidence, I didn’t do this:

I let her retake the test. Because I’m reasonable.

Expedia, on the other hand, seems to be a lot like the honey badger. And we all know the honey badger doesn’t give a shit.

Here’s a customer service lesson. Stop making overly strict interpretations of the rules. It pisses us off. Treat us like human beings. Use discretion. Use reason.

Now at this point, I realize I’m not going to be getting the $60. I’m sure the Expedia shareholders are ecstatic about this amazing fiscal coup. But I’ve taken away a lot from this experience. And I look forward to sharing my negative Expedia experience with as many people as possible. I might only be one person and I might not be all that powerful but I’m going to do my best to let as many people as possible know how Expedia treats its customers. For the approximately 100 Intro Psych students I teach each year, I will use this experience as an example (hypothetical, of course) of how deductive reasoning works. Note that I would never instruct students to use or stay away from specific companies. It’s my job to teach them critical thinking skills so that they can make their own decisions. So I’ll do just that.

Maybe this would be a good exam question:

Using deductive reasoning, which conclusion can be drawn from the two propositions provided?

Proposition 1: I only do business with companies that are reasonable when dealing with customers.

Proposition 2: Expedia has a history of being unreasonable when dealing with customers.

Conclusion: ?

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Montreal Canadiens @ Winnipeg Jets

Tonight the Montreal Canadiens visit the Winnipeg Jets in NHL action. It wasn’t too long ago that it seemed we would never again see the Canadiens and Jets face off in an NHL regular season tilt. When the NHL returned to Winnipeg in 2011 after a 15-year absence (albeit as the reincarnated Atlanta Thrashers rather than the original franchise that relocated as the Phoenix Arizona Coyotes), fans were once again able to see the Habs play hockey in Winnipeg. This game holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. The most obvious reason is that I’m a lifelong Habs fan despite growing up in enemy territory. While most of my friends naturally liked the Jets, I bled Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.

You might wonder how I became a fan of the Canadiens in the first place. And I might explain by lifting a paragraph from my okay-selling memoir “The Smoked Meat Diaries” (now on sale)When I was 5 years old my parents asked me which hockey team I liked because they wanted to know which NHL jersey to get me for Christmas. I told them that I liked “The Horseshoe Team.” This response befuddled them because, as it turns out, there is no NHL team known as “The Horseshoes” nor has there ever been such a team. “Maybe it’s a ‘farm’ team” my dad probably punned. They later discovered that I was actually talking about the Montreal Canadiens and I had somehow confused the C-H on their jersey for a horseshoe. Whatever. It sort of looks like a horseshoe. I was always saying uber-cute things like that when I was a child. That’s where my nickname, “Cute Willy” comes from. Everyone is always calling me that. That and “Devastatingly Handsome Will.”

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Truth is my love of the Canadiens was instilled in me by my godfather Wilf (whom I affectionately call Uncle Wilf). He’s a Canadiens superfan and I no doubt saw him wearing that “horseshoe” and I wanted to be just like my Uncle Wilf. He must have spawned my request for that Canadiens sweater and it’s been a match made in heaven ever since.

The “Canadiens @ Jets” matchup also has great significance for me because it’s my first memory of attending a National Hockey League game when I was 9. Technically, my first NHL game was a Jets vs. Islanders game the season prior, but I don’t remember much about that game. However, you can be damned sure I remember my first Montreal Canadiens game, when I saw them play the Jets on Friday, December 8, 1989.

Each year, when the Habs came to town it was always a hot ticket. No matter where you go in North America, you’re going find a ton of Montreal Canadiens fans. Take a gander at the stands during a Canadiens’ away game and you’ll see a disproportionate number of fans wearing the C-H proudly. Many Canadiens players have remarked that they always feel like they’re playing a home game no matter where they go. We’re a passionate bunch.

Of course, similar sentiments could be said of Jets fans. During my two-year tenure in Montreal I recall a beautiful moment while attending a Weakerthans concert at Le National. The show was largely attended by Winnipeg transplants who were eager to watch the band from their hometown. It warmed my cockles when, at the conclusion of the Winnipeg ode “One Great City,” the audience broke out into a spontaneous chant of “Go, Jets, go!” This was around 2009, a couple of years before the rebooted Winnipeg Jets were even a twinkle in Mark Chipman’s eye. And in spite of John K. Sampson’s lament, “The Jets were lousy anyway,” we chanted all the same.

Back to 1989 and my first Canadiens game. I remember being super psyched. I was on pins and needles all day knowing that I was going to see my heroes play live that night. Of course, I couldn’t experience this event without Uncle Wilf. We had been in the trenches of Habs fandom together that prior May when we lived and died with every play of the Canadiens vs. Flames Stanley Cup Final. Probably my favourite Canadiens memory is when my dad, sister Ruth, Uncle Wilf, and I watched Game 3 on a tiny black-and-white TV with crappy reception at Wilf’s cottage in Lester Beach. The Canadiens were down 3-2 with under a minute left. Patrick Roy was pulled for an extra attacker. Joe Mullen of the Flames had a clear shot at the empty net to seal it but missed by a mere foot. The Habs brought the puck into the offensive end and after a failed clearing attempt by the Flames, the puck squirted out into the high slot and my favourite player, Mats Naslund, blasted a one-timer top cheddar to tie the game with 41 seconds remaining. The fans at the Montreal Forum were going ballistic and the 4 fans in the kitchen of that Lester Beach cottage crowded around a fuzzy 12-inch screen were losing their minds. “Terry Crisp, is looking a little Crisp!” remarked Uncle Wilf which was just about the funniest thing I had ever heard. Ryan Walter would eventually score the winning goal in the second overtime and win the game for the Habs which sent us over the moon. It’s the most exciting hockey game I’ve ever watched. Unfortunately, that would be the last game that the Canadiens would win in the series as the Flames went on to win the Cup, but I’ll never forget that game.

If watching the Canadiens on TV was that much fun, imagine how much fun it would be in person? By some miracle, my dad managed to get 4 tickets for the game and they came at a pretty penny, let me tell you! $17 a pop? Are you kidding me? Perimeter Highway robbery, I tells ya! That’s a heck of a lot more than the $10.75 we had paid for our Islanders tickets the year before. But I suppose this was the Montreal Canadiens!

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I attended the game with my dad, Uncle Wilf, and Wilf’s uncle Elmer. Elmer was a kind soul with special needs who lived in a care home in Selkirk. Elmer’s physical and mental difficulties certainly didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for hockey. He was over-the-moon excited about seeing that game. Uncle Wilf noted that Elmer had phoned him several times throughout the day to confirm that we were still going and to make sure that we wouldn’t forget him! Truthfully, I’m not sure whether Elmer or I was more excited about the game.

I’ll always remember three things about that game. First, it ended in a 6-6 tie. 80s hockey, baby! Goals galore! Both goalies, including Hall of Famer Patrick Roy, put up a six-spot and didn’t get pulled. I mean, in the 90s onward you’d most certainly pull a guy like Roy after 5 at most, lest you risk embarrassing him. Right?

But this was the 80s, when guys like Hakan Loob (Gesundheit!) could score 50 goals in a season. And a tie?! What’s that?! I almost forgot about those things.

The second thing I’ll remember, is that my hero, Mats Naslund, a notoriously gentlemanly player (he won the Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship two years earlier) took a high sticking major early in the game and was ejected. It’s probably the first and last major penalty he ever took. It was also the first and last time I got to see him play in a real NHL game. I did get to see him play in the Alumni Game at the 2016 Winter Classic in Boston, but it wasn’t the same.

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The last thing I’ll remember is an incident between periods involving Elmer. The old Winnipeg Arena was quite the dump and the main concourse was a bleak circular hallway of cement and generic concessions. You could still smoke inside at the time (imagine!) but there was a designated section which didn’t really do much to prevent a nasty plume from enveloping the entire concourse between periods. Go figure. I remember Elmer finding a seat that was outside the designated smoking section and lighting up a cigarette to get his fix shortly before the next period was to begin. An arena security guard immediately came by and demanded that he put it out. He was really rude and aggressive about it. Uncle Wilf calmly explained that Elmer was a man with disabilities just taking a couple of quick puffs while taking a load off. Besides, we were only a few yards outside the smoking area. The security guard did not waiver and rudely restated his command that Elmer put out the cigarette. And that’s when Uncle Wilf got mad. I had never seen Wilf get angry and haven’t since. He’s a sweet person. But he took great exception to this bully abusing his authority to boss around a helpless man. I can’t remember the exact words (many of which were 4-letters and unfamiliar to my virgin ears) but Wilf tore a strip off that security guard for being cruel, unreasonable, and disrespectful. That stuck with me. Maybe I didn’t totally understand the circumstances at the time but I wouldn’t forget, in that moment, the hockey game took a back seat. To Wilf, the abuse of a vulnerable person and a family member was not to be tolerated. And he risked getting tossed from the Winnipeg Arena and not being able to watch the Canadiens to make that point clear. Soon after, we were back in our seats watching the game so nothing major came of it. But that moment when Uncle Wilf stood up for Elmer is etched in my memory. In this post I’ve used terms like “bleeding red, white, and blue” and “my heroes” and “being in the trenches of Habs fandom.” Those war metaphors are silly hockey hyperbole. Sometimes we need to step back, take some perspective, and prioritize what truly matters in our lives. I’ve been very fortunate to have people who have instilled in me these important lessons. Thank you to my Uncle Wilf, for being one of those people.

And tonight, although I’ll be catching the action on TV, I’m thankful that I can watch the Montreal Canadiens play the Winnipeg Jets. I hope it ends in a 6-6 tie.

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Belligerent Recipes #7: Cauliflower Pizza

So my inbox blew up yesterday with my fans clamouring for another installment of Belligerent Recipes. If you’re not familiar with this series, I reveal the secrets to making my award-winning dishes to you, the reader, FOR FREE. The only catch is that you have to endure my vitriol while I do it. Some folks do their best cooking while they’re in a good mood. I create food magic while I’m pissed off. I’m going to use foul language, I’m going to belittle you, and you’re going to like it. Because when it’s all over you’re going to stuff some tasty morsels into that disgusting soup cooler you call a mouth. So listen up you overly sensitive jagoffs, trigger warning: Shut your stupid face…and let’s get cooking.


Summer was great. But let’s face it, four months of poor nutrition have turned you into an abomination. A few too many pops on the back porch, one too many hotdogs off the grill, a cookie-eating competition with your nephew that nearly resulted in a trip to the ER for a stomach-pumping — I’ve heard it all before. You’ve got some work to do. Buckle up, buttercup, it’s time to get your diet back on track.

It all boils down to one simple rule: you’re going to stop eating so many damn carbs. I know, I know. They’re delightful. I’m sure you all had the same experience I had this summer of going back to Manitoba for a weeklong visit and seeing Old Dutch chips being sold in boxes at a gas station and thinking, “Hot damn! I remember chips in boxes!” and before you knew it you were balls deep in a box of onion n’ garlic chips.

But bread is the biggest carb culprit. And given that pizza is bread topped with mostly bullshit, pizza is now officially off limits, lardo. You’re not 16 anymore. You can’t come home after school and eat an entire frozen pizza as a “snack” and not gain a pound. Carbs go straight to your old, blubbery ass. But wait?! Does that mean you can’t eat pizza anymore? No dummy. Read the title. We’re going to make pizza but we’re going to fool the shit out of Mother Nature (because she’s an imbecile). This is low carb pizza that actually tastes great. Don’t believe me? Go to hell.

If you’re still reading, well then let’s get to work.

Once you’ve added this super pizza to your diet, you’re going to be on the fast track towards being in the kind of shape it takes to score goals like this:

Let’s take another look at that goal:

Notice how I never quit on the play? I drove to the net like a champ. Not like a chump who’s stuffed with Chicago deep dish. One more time:

Okay, okay. Don’t be hatin’. It’s literally the only proof that I’ve actually scored a goal in organized hockey.

Enough dilly-dallying in the valley. Let’s get our fake pizza on.

First off: buy this stuff.

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Notice we have a head of cauliflower front and centre. This will become our dough…don’t question me, prick. I know you’ve probably tried all the low carb pizza dough recipes. Zuccini pizza crust – crumbly horseshit. Spaghetti squash pizza crust – disintegrating dumpster fire. Hell, most cauliflower pizza crusts dissolve like cotton candy as soon as you take a bite. Well, my non-friends, this is a game changer. We’re about to change the low-carb pizza game. Shut up and follow my instructions to a T.

Take the cauliflower and cut it into florets. Hmmmm, florets is too dainty a word. Let’s call them “rugby ears.” Cut your cauliflower into rugby ears.

Now take your rugby ears and throw them into a food processor with the chopping blade. I recommend the Ninja Ultima System food processor. We’re always looking for sponsors here on The Smoked Meat Diaries, so let me pause for a moment to say how much I enjoy the Ninja Ultima System. Its sleek design and efficient chopping action make the Ninja Ultima System the best food processor on the market. It cuts through food like a ninja star slicing through the jugular vein of an unsuspecting enemy. Ninja!

Pulse the cauliflower until it has been chopped into a consistent pulp. Now you have to steam the pulp, asshole. Get a large pot and fill the bottom with about an inch of water. Heat it to a boil. Place a fine screen over the pot (I use a large bacon splatter screen). Put the cauliflower pulp on top of the screen and allow the pulp to steam for about 8 minutes.

While that’s steaming, take large bowl and beat an egg in it. Then add about two tablespoons of goat cheese.

Add a couple of pinches of oregano and a pinch of salt.

Now take the steamed cauliflower and place it in a clean dish towel. It’s going to be hot as balls. Just leave it there for about 10 minutes and stir it occasionally to help cool it down.

img_1044While it’s cooling, cut up your toppings.

First and foremost, you’re going to need some Halifax-style pepperoni. There are some purists out there who only eat the original Brothers pepperoni. Now I’ve had long debates with folks about which is the superior Halifax pep. But a colleague and I (we’re both scientists so we must be correct) decided that “Chris Brothers” pep is better than “Brothers” pep. Let’s not get into the whole sordid and confusing history of Brothers-based pepperoni but I’m sure we can all agree that if you’re eating any flavour other than TNT, you’re a giant tampon. To use the proper nomenclature of the Trailer Park Boys to measure units of pepperoni, you’ll need about one half to three-quarters of a cock of pepperoni.

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Next, you’re going to need onions. Preferably, red onions. If you don’t like onions, we’ve been through this before. You’ll eat onions, and you’ll like them.

img_1047You need more meat on this thing. Grab some pork shoulder you smoked last week and cut it up into pieces. While you’re at it, cut up some red pepper, mince some garlic, and grate some mozza. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Alright, your cauliflower pulp should be cool enough by now. Be careful, dipshit. If you haven’t waited long enough you’ll burn your hands (unless you’re my mom who, judging by how hot she makes the dishwashing water, can dip her hands in molten lava and not break a sweat).

Here’s the key part in the process. Twist up your dishtowel to squeeze out all of the moisture from the cauliflower. There will be a shit tonne of water. Squeeze. Squeeze you sonofabitch! And when you’re done squeezing, squeeze some more. Get out every last drop. The more water you eliminate, the better the crust stays together.

Now take the drained cauliflower and add it to the bowl with the egg and goat cheese. It should look like mashed potatoes. Mix it all together to form a dough.

Form into a ball and let it rest in the bowl for 5 hours to allow it to rise….I’m joking you dolt. It’s not real dough. What a dipshit you can be.

Okay, now you’re ready to cook the crust. Put a sheet of parchment paper (very important) over a pan and spread the “dough” into the shape of a pizza crust. Put it in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

While it’s cooking, take your weiners for a walk. THAT’S NOT A EUPHEMISM ASSHOLE!

img_0687The crust should be slightly browned and crispy on the edges. Take it out of the oven to add the toppings.

Put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

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Now here’s the advanced play that’s probably too advanced for you fools: once the cheese is melted, put it on broil for about 3 minutes and 37 seconds. That will crust up the cheese on top. One second too few and it’s a gooey mess. One second too many and it’s a burnt clusterfuck. As you can see below, I timed it perfectly.

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Alright, you’re ready to dig in, even though you don’t really deserve it. Serve with a frosty brew (light beer, of course). One might argue that the cheese and beer kind of defeat the purpose of a low carb recipe, and I might argue that those people can eat shit.

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Rating: Five Golden Goals out of Five.

goal

 

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The Dark Canuck

One weekend in the summer of 2002, my friends, Nicholas and Todd, and I drove down to Minneapolis to see our favourite band, The Tragically Hip.

We planned the trip on a whim. During the second weekend of July, Nicholas mentioned that there was a show the following weekend. So we bought the tickets. $20 each (plus fees). The following Friday afternoon we packed up Todd’s truck and headed south from Winnipeg.

firstaveticket

In Violet Light, the Hip’s 8th full-length studio album (9th if you include their 8-song eponymous debut), had been released the previous month. The CD was inserted into truck’s CD player and played on a loop for the entire 7-hour trip.

violetlight

We dissected the album during the drive. We made fun of the cheesy opener “Are You Ready.” We debated which song should be the follow-up single to the first single of “It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.” We agreed that it would definitely be “Use it Up” (it was actually “The Darkest One”). We sang along with the abstract poetry of Gord Downie. I declared my favourite song to be album’s closer “The Dark Canuck” – a beautiful, meandering song that abruptly morphs from a twangy stutter step into a hard-driving rock ditty. Nicholas and Todd laughed at me. They didn’t think they would even play that song.

We knew that album inside-out by the time we reached our hostel in Minneapolis. It was already quite late by the time we arrived and found the hostel owner getting high out back in the hostel’s courtyard. He fished a couple of keys out of his pocket and directed us to our room, saying he’d grab our payment for our two-night stay later.

The next day we met about 20 other hostel guests representing half a dozen countries. We quickly became known as the crazy Canadians who had driven 7 hours to see a band that none of them had heard of.

So much has been discussed about how The Tragically Hip are Canada’s band. How we can’t understand why The Hip haven’t really caught on anywhere else. How that’s the very thing that makes them ours. How we’ve figured it out, and no one else has. We played some of the Hip’s biggest hits for the group of international backpackers and they remained nonplussed.

Fucking hell. If hearing “Poets” for the first time does nothing to your soul, then maybe you don’t have one. If “Courage” doesn’t send electricity to your toes, then you must be made of rubber. If “Ahead by a Century” doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, then you are a jellyfish.

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That night we went to the show at First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The venue has a capacity of about 1500 and it was general seating. We got there early and positioned ourselves near the front row on the floor. 80% of the crowd must have been Canadians. Maple leaf flags and hockey jerseys were everywhere. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you who the opening act was. We weren’t there for opening acts. We were there for The Hip.

They opened with “Are You Ready”. We laughed having incessantly made fun of that song on the drive down. It was fucking awesome. They played “Silver Jet”. It was awesome. They played “Dire Wolf”. It was awesome. They played the entire In Violet Light album, plus a few other hits from earlier albums. It was so awesome.

It was the dead of summer. It was probably 30 degree Celsius outside. There was no air conditioning in the venue. It. Was. Hot.

We were almost too wrapped up in the music to be uncomfortable. Before long, everyone was soaked to the bone in their own sweat. The entire band was drenched. They looked like they were playing in the rain. Gord Downie’s button-up cotton shirt clung to his skin like he’d just jumped in a pool with his clothes on. We were close enough to see the sweat beading off him in a continuous stream. It was torturously hot. Almost unbearable. The bouncers sprayed water on the crowd to prevent people from passing out. But the band played on.

This was 2002 so we didn’t have cell phone cameras. I seriously brought a disposable camera with me (you know, the kind you had to wind for every shot and develop the film afterwards). At one point Todd, a very tall man, snapped a few photos of the band. Gord saw him taking the photos and posed mid-song. It’s an awesome picture. I’ve searched high and low for that photo but I can’t find it. I know it’s somewhere. As a placeholder I’ll insert an amazing photo taken by my friend at the Winnipeg show on the Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour.

gordryan2

To conclude the show, they played my song, “The Dark Canuck.” I’ve never figured out what it means. It’s all over the place. It’s vintage Gord Downie poetry. “Or pretend all understanding, turned out to be pretense. Then pretend the pretense of understanding. How long does it take? Depends.”

In the second half of the song when it changes course, there’s reference to a drive-in double feature, beginning with “Jaws” followed by the fictional film “The Dark Canuck.” In my mind it’s a superhero film in which the protagonist fights impolite maple syrup bandits with a hockey stick.

After the show, we returned to the hostel for one more night. The next morning we packed up the truck to return to Manitoba. As we were about to leave we realized that we still hadn’t paid for our two nights at the hostel. The hostel owner hadn’t collected from us and wasn’t chasing us down that morning. “I guess we got a free stay,” it was remarked as we pulled away from the hostel. In Violet Light continued to play on the CD player. We found a nearby restaurant and ate a greasy American breakfast while recapping the previous night’s show. Goddamn, what a show.

But something wasn’t sitting right. We knew it. After our meal we got in the truck and returned to the hostel to pay for the two nights we nearly skipped out on. We walked into the courtyard where the hostel owner was lounging. “Hey, there they are! I knew you’d come back to pay. You’re Canadians!”

In hindsight, I feel like Gord Downie was sending us a message telepathically. He used his superpowers — the hostel owner was his medium. I could almost hear Gord’s addendum, “Yep. Good Canadian kids. Don’t forget!”

We sat with the hostel owner and the contingent of international backpackers and shared a few beers before getting back in the truck for the 7-hour drive home. We made the trip back with our hearts full and our consciences clear. All thanks to the Dark Canuck.

gord

 

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A Letter to My Twelve-Year-Old Self Who is About to Begin Junior High

Dear Will,

Hey kiddo. How ya doing? I know, I know. You’re nervous about starting junior high this week. These last few weeks of summer have been ruined by that uneasy pukey feeling you’ve carried around as the clock ticks down towards doomsday. Meanwhile, you’ve tried your best to project a hard exterior. You’re telling anyone who will listen that you’re excited. But this façade of confidence is in direct contrast to your genuine terror. Classic reaction formation. You’ll never be big on Freud but he had this one nailed. Methinks the tween doth protest too much.

So now is when I tell you that there’s nothing to worry about and this whole junior high business is going to turn out swell, right?

*Shudder*

*Shudder*

Wrong.

I’m going to go ahead and just rip off the band-aid: the next three years are going to be hell. In fact, you will always look back on junior high as the worst three years of your life.

I know, I know. Super shitty story, bro. That represents a full quarter of the life you’ve lived so far. So basically it feels like you’re facing an impossible hurdle. But that’s the harsh truth. Junior high is no joke. Willy, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in elementary school anymore.

You have a few things working against you. First of all — and I don’t think I need to tell you this – you are a tiny little man. You’re barely four-and-a-half feet tall and 75 pounds soaking wet. Such an unimposing stature does not exactly lend itself to adolescent self-assurance. But don’t worry, you’re going to have a growth spurt and one day…hahahaha…I can’t even. You’ll always be short. On the other hand, at this point you’re SO small, you’re basically too small to physically torment. Even junior high bullies have some integrity.

Sooo miniature.

Sooo miniature.

No, most of the turmoil you experience over the next three years will be self-inflicted. Which brings me to your next flaw – you’re a self-centred little prick. Don’t be offended. It’s normal for kids your age to be full of themselves. One day you’ll even teach a university course on adolescent development and cover this stuff (oh, right… I hope you’re sitting down – you’re not going to be an NHL superstar. But being a university prof is a pretty sweet gig). So here’s the thing – there’s a special brand of egocentrism that adolescents develop as social scrutiny ramps up in junior high. First, you’re going to assume that others are more concerned about what you’re doing and how you look than they actually are. This imaginary audience will reinforce your self-consciousness about your height. It will also drive you insane as you primp and preen yourself each morning to try to “look cool.”

On the first day of school you’ll put enough Dippity-Doo in your hair to fry a turkey in an effort to plaster that wicked cowlick to the back of your scalp. Within 10 minutes of your first day of junior high, a grade niner will ruffle your hair as he walks by and will shout, “Ewww, look at all this grease!” You will be mortified and subsequently spend each morning trying meticulously to strike a balance between hair gel and your unruly locks.

But guess what? That grade niner forgot about his gentle ribbing 15 seconds after he did it. And absolutely nobody gave a shit about your hair. But you’ll act as though there is some kind of weekly newsletter about your hair. You sir, are ridiculous.

Nice hair, brah!

Nice hair, brah!

Now let’s talk about your clothes. Obviously, you’re going to start wearing jeans. After six years of wearing sweatpants, a ratty t-shirt, and a mesh cap to school every single day throughout elementary, your wardrobe must change. You’ve been put on notice by your older sisters who, despite having moved on to high school, still have reputations to uphold and can’t have their little brother romping around the neighbouring junior high dressed like a plus-sized spinster settling in for a Days of Our Lives binge watch. The first day of junior high will literally be the first time you ever wear a pair of jeans. Not much to say here. If there’s ever a time in which it is okay to conform, this is it.

Honestly, the early 90s are a terrible time for fashion. There’s a lot of neon and denim and baggy everything. Apparel for college sports teams that nobody watches is immensely popular. You’ll get a New Orleans Saints winter coat (Starter, of course) even though you don’t even know the Saints are a football team. You’re going to wear T-shirts that are too big for you tucked into Bugle Boy jeans and layered with a whole lot of flannel for some reason. Whatever. Frankly, it’s tough to look ridiculous amongst some of the fashion choices your peers will make. I shit you not there will be a week or so in which some kids at your school will wear their jeans and baseball shirts backwards to resemble the rap group Kris Kross. Those kids should never stop hitting themselves for the rest of their lives. There will also be a short-lived trend of wearing denim overalls with ONE of the two straps undone. Face palm. Thank your mom because she’ll actually talk you out of buying a pair of overalls when she takes you shopping at The Bay in a couple of months.

So. Much. Flannel.

So. Much. Flannel.

It won’t help that you’re going to experience a lot of changes this year. You’ll notice hair where you haven’t seen it before – like on the bodies of your peers. Haha, did you think I meant you?! No. You’re going to be smooth as a sphinx cat for another year or two. At least you don’t have to worry about all that manscaping (I guess that’s not a thing yet in 1992).

Wait, I don't remember breaking my arm. Oh right - that was the month I discovered

Wait, I don’t remember breaking my arm. Oh right – that was the month I discovered “self love.”

The imaginary audience will turn you into a selfish dick. Even though you are rarely the brunt of the joke, you will relish the moments when any sort of negative attention is directed elsewhere because when everyone is laughing at someone else, it means they can’t be laughing at you. And you’ll laugh right along with them (you fucking coward). One day you’ll figure out that the best people are the ones who can laugh at themselves. But your head is way too far up your own ass to realize that right now.

In conjunction with this imaginary audience, you’re going to develop a personal fable, believing that you’re the focus of a momentous drama. You’ll be certain that your thoughts and feelings are truly unique, that every challenge you face is a monumental disaster, and that nobody understands what you’re going through. News flash, bud – everyone around you feels the same way. You’re not that special. So stop giving your parents so much shit.

There will be a revolving cast of girls that you have crushes on. You will write embarrassingly bad poems about them that I implore you to never show to anyone…ever. You won’t understand why these girls don’t show any interest in you, despite the fact that you never gave them any indication that you were interested in them. Besides, you wouldn’t know what to do with them if they did, by some miracle, happen to spontaneously pursue you.

You won’t completely strike out with the ladies. You will have your first kiss (there’s just something about a band trip to Regina, a game of truth or dare, and the song “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men that really brings out the romance in you). You will attend school dances and sway to “November Rain” with a cute girl while mentally pleading with “Little Willy” to not get too excited. Speaking of school dances, you will wear silk shirts and dress pants (and, for reasons that still escape me, silk boxers, which are just the absolute worst).

Look out ladies!

Look out ladies!

You’ll spritz yourself with Colors cologne and hang out on the bleachers and wonder why school dances are nothing like how they are in the movies. Instead of a full dancefloor the bleachers will be stuffed with wallflowers during the upbeat songs as everyone waits around for the slow dances that occur every 8th song or so. Techno music is huge right now so you’ll suffer through thumping Eurotrash ditties by Snap! and Real McCoy and Technotronic until the dulcet tones of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” play on the gymnasium speaker system. When you hear that opening line, “If I….should stay….” you’ll know it’s time to find that special someone. Get used to that song, by the way. It’s like the biggest song ever. It’s such an important song because if a girl agrees to slow dance with you to this particular song you are TOTALLY IN (note: you will never slow dance to this song – sorry).

I realize I might be painting a bleak picture here. But I mean, it really isn’t all that bad. You’ll meet great people, many of whom you’ll continue to be friends with decades later.

G8piggy

You’ll figure out that you’re really good at taking tests. You’ll get a lot of A+’s. There will be that time you tell your Grade 8 homeroom teacher that you and your cousin in that same class are twins (thinking it is too laughable to believe) and she’ll actually think it’s true and when she meets your parents at the first parent-teacher conference she will hilariously ask them if they are the parents of “the twins” (a story which mom will gleefully retell for years to come).

Honestly, in what world does these two people come out of the same womb?

Honestly, in what world would these two people come out of the same womb?

There will be annual canoe trips which will be the highlights of your junior high years.

G9canoe2There will be summer camp. There will be a paper route. There will be video games on the Sega Genesis. There will always be hockey.

That reminds me, for god’s sake, please pay attention to the Habs this year. Because it’s going to be another 23 years and counting before you see anything like this again.

Woo hoo! I look forward to many more years of Patrick Roy getting along well with management and bringing home several more cups!

Woo hoo! I look forward to many more years of Patrick Roy getting along well with Habs’ management and bringing several more Stanley Cups to Montreal!

Junior high is not the end of the world but no doubt your three worst years. I suppose if these are going to be the three worst years of your life, you’re going to have a pretty damned good existence. And one thing that could be worse than looking back on junior high with horror is to look back on junior high with wistful longing. Imagine if this is where you peak? No. You have a lot to look forward to. The best is yet to come.

It’s funny. I’m not even sure if you’ll get this letter. Based on my understanding of the time-travel paradox, it would seem I should remember having read a creepy letter from a 35-year-old man just before entering junior high. So why bother writing this letter?

Around this time each year, when I see kids returning to school, I think back to that scared little boy about to embark on three awful years. And then I try to forget you. Push you out of my mind. I want to distance myself from that goofy pre-teen who barely resembles what I am today. But that’s not fair. I shouldn’t let you flail in the throes of adolescence. This estrangement has gone on too long. So I’m writing this letter to say that I’m with you, buddy.

It’s going to be okay.

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