Scandalous, Get a Whiff of This Miss

October 10, 2009
Rugby Blood Capsule Scandal

Rugby Blood Capsule Scandal

These say that any publicity is good publicity. But I am still trying to sort out my feelings towards a recent condemnation of my sports writing for McGill rugby. I merely want to be recognized for wit and maybe a little bit of cheek. Recently I have been reviled as “a disgrace to McGill University, the QSSF and the sport of rugby in Canada…classless, disrespectful and ignorant,” in quite a public manner.

In retrospect, I suppose some of my phrasing was slightly (to use an apt, sport’s related expression) offside. My reference to the Ottawa club as “an unimpressive bunch of hydrocephalic thugs” was, I suppose, aimlessly venomous. And describing the “puppy dog tears leaking through the eye patch of a dejected” Concordia player might come across a little bit raw, seeing as the guy might be seriously hurt.

I am just a little bit ticked off about the strong use of language in the critique of my work. Sure, criticize it for being disrespectful. But realize that in the world of satire, lines can sometimes be crossed unknowingly. It is ironic to be called ignorant by an individual who can’t tell the difference between a tone that is more self-deprecating than outwardly offensive, more playful than abusive. That he wants to suffocate creativity just because I implied a few people were born with a skull swishing with cerebrospinal fluid and no grey matter seems a little extreme to me.

I was inducted into the tradition of McGill game write-ups long ago and I distinctly remember the instance of the word ‘troglodyte’ (brutish cave dweller) that inspired me to apply my literary panache in this forum. It’s sad to feel the yolk of bureaucratic PR fall once again upon my shoulders.

Here are the original versions for your non-McGill affiliated reading pleasure:

McGill V Bishops Preview:

What do you do when life gives you alligators? You make purses. The McGill Rugby Redmen hope to improve on a 48-0 drubbing and skinning of the Bishop’s Gators the marked the beginning of the 2008 season. Many of the McGill players who starred in last year’s contest are back this year and looking to further humiliate a team that chooses to wear purple. Josh Reznick, awarded Man of the Match last year for his penetrating runs, will be starring at scrumhalf. Last year’s MVP Mike Davis – a velociraptic winger emerged from the primordial muck of Missisauga, ON – will look to extend a try-scoring run that, as far as the author knows, may have started against Bishop’s on Sept. 5th 2008. The return of rugby sensation Alistair Crow at 15 – along with the indefatigable propping of James ‘the legend’ Stellick and Dave ‘creepy history teacher or sexy lifeguard – you decide’ Tontini – complete the veritable Germanic war-machine that is the 2009 Varsity McGill Rugby Redmen. Need an image of the carnage to come? Think back to when Happy Gilmour savaged that alligator that ate his coach’s hand.

Half a decade ago, Bishop’s had the audacity to paint the McGill rugby posts purple the night before the finals, bus in 400 heckling, classless fans, and steal away a QSSF final victory. That memory has buried beneath wheelbarrowfuls of McGill scoring since, but the swampy stench lingers on.

The match will take place in Lennoxville, at Bishop’s University, this Friday, September 18, 2009. Kickoff is at 6pm. McGill 2nds kick off at 8:00, hoping to improve on a 46-17 win on their season opener last year. Let the interment continue.


Cold and darkness set on Lennoxville Quebec. The McGill Redmen take the Bishop’s field beneath Friday night lights. Hands rub together with murderous intent.

First half: the Gators manage to frustrate a disjointed McGill side. The backline glimmers with greatness but passes are lost in translation. Winger Mike Davis grows agitated waiting for an opportunity to break. He fondles his yellow LiveStrong bracelet on the wing like a religulous NFL player. He breaks and draws a penalty. Fullback Alistair Crow takes his first attempt at goal.

He stares up at the posts from 30 yards out. A belligerent heckle questioning his sexual orientation and mother’s fidelity swells up from the crowd. Perhaps he is rattled by some germ of truth in the imprecations: he shanks his first kick wide.

The Gators are putting together a string of respectable phases to push the Redmen deep into their end when rookie Mike Maloon, complete with aerodynamic Maori haircut, picks off a pass. Quebec may have its new intercept specialist. 60 yards later, with touching rookie humility, he dishes off to an equine Mike Davis who gallops in for McGill’s first score. Crow makes good on the conversion.

The inexorable McGill momentum starts to take hold. Prop James Stellick starts hitting rucks like a human bowling ball. One kid is thrown back 10 yards and actually loses his shoe. Flanker Jon Lee poaches so much ball, the WWF is notified. Second row “Dennis” Roderick is mathematically disruptive in the line-outs. Flyhalf Matt Sidoti breaks and dishes to Crow who glides in for the try with the intimate velocity of a fighter jet. He tallies two more points on the convert.

Bishops earns a try early in the second half with the trusted but uncreative battering ram maneuver: 14-5. But before Bishops has a chance to feel hopeful, the ball floats into the hands of inside center Sam Skulsky. His first touch of the game has the air of a preordained event. With calculated violence, he absolutely ruins the man across from him. Before he is brought to ground, he floats a parabolic pass to Alistair crow for try time. Alistair gets the 7-10 split on the conversion, bouncing the ball off both posts and in.

Then it’s Crow again. A human samurai blade, he slices through the line. It’s one goose step after another to the try line. He is the consummate Arian. A genocide of broken ankles lies in his wake.

The vast disparity in talent starts to crystallize in the score line. 8-man Anton Nestle scores in the corner. Skulsky’s continues rhinoceric charges through gaps in the centers. Oxpeckers start to circle above his head. Evan Strait shows no disappointment for being displaced to the wing: he hurdles a tackle and two Bishop’s tacklers collide cartoonishly beneath him. He wins the footrace to the corner for another score.  Josh Balloch, subbed in at flyhalf, breaks and dishes. Davis gets another score in the corner.

Skulsky rumbles on to score another monstertruck try between the posts. Not finished even in the dying moments, Skulsky gets the ball again and plays a sympathetic grubber into the hands of Mike Davis for the final try. Forget Rosh Hashana. This try-scoring affair is a out-an-out  Bar Mitzvah.

Final Score: McGill 57, Bishops 5; This Saturday, McGill plays Bishops again in Molson Stadium. Buenos dias Gators, bienvenido al fábrica de carteras…


There are events in the course of human history whose immensity no scintillating outpour of prose can fully capture. Take Redmen v.s. Bishops 2009 part deux, for example. This match was a bitter 69-0 lambasting that will linger on many a Gator’s tongue well into the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. I will spare you the exact, rapacious details.

To add further perspective to the win, it was rumored that the McGill side actively stemmed their own scoring after 11 tries. According to McGill winger Mike Davis, “[we] just want to preserve the scoreline’s aesthetic.”


This is the way a Stinger defends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.

The first McGill – Concordia collision of the year is a highly anticipated affair. Following rumors of Concordia’s recruitment of nationally capped forward Dave Biddle, many predict a close margin. But there is a faint hint of ozone in the air as the satellitic opening drop kick launches from the deft boot of Fullback Alastair Crow. One can sense any remaining flicker of Stinger hope start to fizzle.

A salvo of pummeling penetrations from flanker Cayse Reuter and high-octane loops from winger Kyle Buckley pepper the opening minutes like buckshot. Flyhalf Matthieu Sidoti floats a graceful chip into the corner that is almost swallowed up by Buckley’s hungry, hypertrophic arms. Rookie hooker Keelan Chapman, freshly rescued by from a Beijing opium den, repeatedly Bangarangs ( into scurvied Concordia forwards.

After a rare 1st half penalty by McGill, Concordia gets a look at goal. Their fullback, a French import with quite probably the worst mustache of all time, makes good and gives the Stingers an unlikely 3-0 lead. Alastair Crow goes down with an unfortunate ankle injury during his first African-American penetration of the Concordia back line. Centre Sam Skulsky, showing no apparent weakening without his Victoria, BC symbiote Alastair on the field, pinballs through in the centers. His secret? A grotesque turf wound on his Peroneus whose miasmatic stench sends defenders reeling. Call it separation by suppuration. Meanwhile, Mike Davis is starting to find gaps in the Concordia defense. Unfortunately his mind is awash with highlights and he wastes his breaks with ineffectual centering kicks.

Resistance is futile against the higher lifeforms that form the McGill backline. Flyhalf Matthieu Sidoti threads a penalty kick between the posts. The counterattack grows sharp under the generalship of replacement fullback Evan Strait. Kyle Buckley roars through on a set play to run a sprinting clinic in the Concordia backfield. He jinks the fullback before floating a gift-wrapped pass out to his better half Mike Davis. Try-time corner. Sidoti converts.

Flanker Cayse Reuter gets the glory after a technically flawless forward maul. Despite a great game and a string of highlight reel tackles, he still feels the need to threaten the writing staff with violence to assure publication of his try in the prestigious annals of McGill game write-ups.

The Stingers push deep into the McGill end but their threat to score is stymied by a huge defensive scrum, no doubt inspired by the uncompromising tenacity of Captain James Tiberius Stellick.

The second half starts up with Prop Dave Tontini isolated on a pick and go. He fends off tackle after tackle with the intensity of a cornered mammoth before accelerating into open space with cartoon elegance. There is no better way to describe his run than a 35 yabadabadoo to the try line. It’s an epic front row score. Gideon Balloch converts.

Then comes one of the prettiest McGill tries of the year. Gideon Balloch weaves though the backline wide right. He pops to Evan Strait in support. Lightning quick transfer through the silken Geisha hands of Keelan Chapman switches the point of attack to the far left side. Kyle Buckley makes another impressive finish.

Keelan Chapman earns his first try for McGill after several phases of respectable forward play. Then Concordia drives to the McGill goal line and receives a stale Food Bank handout penalty try from the referee. Cayse Reuter takes it right back at them. He burrows through, carrying five defenders on his back with his Atlas-like shoulders. Good hands from the backs get the ball once again out to Kyle Buckley who surges through the Bounty Soft ™ Concordia defense. Gideon converts.

8-man Anton Nestle and wily scrumhalf Josh Reznick crash blindside like Rocky and Bullwinkle. In one particular break, Anton lays a devastating stiff arm on Canada World Cup player and Concordia ringer Dave Biddle that provokes a rumble of sideline commentary including: “Now I know why Canada did so poorly in the last World Cup.”

Rugby pundit, credit card holder, and seconds fullback Roy Voigt gives the Concordia flyhalf some constructive criticism after a series of poor kicks, “Change out of those silly yellow boots!” Someone on the sideline remarks that they are the same color as his teeth. The Concordia defense continues to implode. Buckley mixes up goose steps with dangerous grubbers through the line. Arachniod second row Roderick McKenzie scores on an 8-man pick that inspires great jealousy in a sidelined Anton Nestle.

Mike Davis snaps up a cheeky intercept and takes off. After forty yards he finds himself face to face with James “the best winger in Quebec” Acker. But just when Davis looks gassed, he manages to somehow choke slam the approaching Acker and then float a long pass over to gentle giant Graeme Kempthorne for a much deserved try between the posts. Unruffleable, Gideon Balloch slots yet another convert.

The game ends with one last break from Kyle Buckley. But his tongue-wagging, epileptic head fakes are not enough to evade the Lilliputian second string Concordia scrumhalf who somehow manages to wrestle Kyle out of bounds.

The post-game imagery is splashy and gay. Dave Tontini devours a well-deserved box of Timbits. Jon Lee celebrates in the stands with the Korean Student Society. Puppy dog tears seep from the eye patch of an injured and dejected Dave Biddle. And the scoreboard glows with unbiased honesty across the dispersing crowd on Percival’s field: 57-10.

Next game: McGill @ Concordia; Sunday Oct. 18th.


The McGill club team fell to an unimpressive band of hydrocephalic thugs from the University of Ottawa this past Sunday, Oct 4th.

Where the McGill side made a big 1st half impression was goal line offense. In the first half, Ottawa pushed over the goal line three times but only amounted 5 points for their efforts. One would-be try was held up by a flocculating mass of Red defenders. Big hits from forwards Devon “Red 2.0” Howard and Mike Meehan kept McGill in the game. Later on, a rotund Ottawa winger with surprisingly good speed and surprisingly abysmal hands was forced to knock it on just moments before he could do what fat men do best and fall over in the endzone.

Eventually Roy Voigt was forced to kill a ball close to his own goal line to halt a breakaway series of Ottawa grubbers. Chris Pam, pedant referee extraordinaire, decide to call it a penalty try. A conversion and a penalty kick before half put Ottawa up 10-0.

A few snapshots of the sidelines: Varsity players loiter on the sidelines and prepare for their match against Concordia. Rookie center Mike Maloon ruminates [fig/lit] over a Nutrigrain pastry bar. Alastair Crow gets tantric with his Styrofoam stretch noodle. Mike Davis starts the electricity flowing amongst his teammates with his homoerotic hellos. Anton Nestle looks out on the field with iPod earpods dangling messily around his ears, a blank stare that many a college floozy has mistaken for emotional and intellectual depth…

The second half showed a bit more McGill vivacity. Second half sub, Ed “L.B.” Cottingham aka Leg-Breaker aka The Real Slim Shady, added his gangster panache in the centers. Fullback Roy Voigt (infamous for his habit of interrupting practice to kick drop goals from impossible angles, bowing to marginally impressed club players, and declaring “that gentlemen, is why I play rugby.”) blotted out the sun with an impressive series of up-and-unders. Hassan Akbar attacked the line with the screeching bloodlust of a Persian spider monkey. Added to his efforts were good penetrations by Tim Ruban and leggy wing JM Lacourciere.

McGill conceded a late try to lose 15-0. Expect a better show from a disappointed but determined club side gets their rematch October 18th.


When a swarm of red tracksuits climbed out of a rumbling blue van in Verdun, many thought they were witnessing a remake of the A-Team: ( Instead, it was the McGill Club B-team taking to the trenches against Dawson College, in Verdun, Montreal.

Hooker Nitai Ben Schach, a recent graduate of the inner-city CEGEP, was adamant to make an impression on his former team-mates. Under the phosphorous lights of Crawford Park, the McGill Players rallied around Nitai’s Pétainian pregame speech: “Courage! On les aura!”

The Dawson side was ill-disciplined but not without ferocity. McGill had to work for hard yards, but managed some impressively consistent phase play. Dawson struggled to relieve the pressure as McGill’s little-fullback-that-could Ryan McDowell proved impervious to pressuring kicks and shifty on the counterattack.

Nitai, Jon Minz, Alex Vujicic, and Kevin ‘Sherpa’ Thiruchelvam earned hard forward yards off the breakdown to allow indefatigable flyhalf Trevor Clarke and serpentine center Clement Bisserbe to score first half tries.
The Dawson loosehead, a veritable Butterbean, laid the pain on Tim Ruban early in the half. But Prop Allan Leary delivered a Herculean dump tackle on the adipose prop as payback later on.

Tim Ruban, indistinguishable from alumni Matt Ruban in the 13 jersey, had a blinder. He passed up an overlap and burned in for the 3rd try of the contest. Not to be outdone, Clement Bisserbe made a stellar effort to block a kick and chase down the bouncing oval, scoring in the corner.

Lawrence de Pilato, out of the pleather jacket and into his Samurai jersey, continued to establish himself as a dynamic, soft-handed forward. He was instrumental in the attacking phase play that allowed scrumhalf Dan “Bright-Eyes” Levine to scramble in for the final score of the game.

In the last ten minutes, the colossal Jon Minz was moved to open side wing. Jon Minz – the Jewish man’s Jonah Lomu. But an unfortunate knock-on ended his career on the wing as quickly as it had begun.

Trevor Clarke went 0 for 5 on the conversions. Poor guy didn’t have a tee. So McGill ends up with 25 points and five hard fought tries to win over the Dawson Blues.


Woodland Ode to Michael Jackson

October 2, 2009

I was slumped in passenger seat of a dilapidated Suburban, scarfing down a messy sandwich, when the news broke. Normally, channel 16 on the radio is reserved for logging industry emergencies. So when I heard Solara’s voice crackle to audible life to proclaim that Michael Jackson was dead, my mind came to a complete halt. Even my concerted efforts at mastication froze in mid-molar grind.

Parking lot dance party

Parking lot dance party

Treeplanting reduces the human experience into tiny, manageable physiological moments. The world is bordered by aching bone and muscle. Little extend past the horizon of hunger. So my paralysis was completely understandable: I had been yanked out of the mire of a moment and cast by a tornado of socio-cultural meaning. A semiotic tidal wave of death, celebrity, music and dance crashed over the soiled furrows of my brow.

Let me hear you say.

Let me hear you say.

Sometimes it’s hard to rank the importance of your friends in a meaningful order. Likewise, in the suburban, I had no sense that this was the most important celebrity death of my generation. Multiply this by the disconnect of bush work – any news is big news to a tent-dweller with a bug mask and a full beard.

Whiter than Michael.

Whiter than Michael.

It wasn’t until I was entrapped in the wild gyrations of an afternoon dance party that I intimated the wondrous importance of Michael. That dance can be an answer to so much. To the weighty convolutions of human meaning. To the vertiginous implications of death. To our collective failure to treat a troubled man compassionately during his life. Dance was our answer. Our apology. Our absolution.

Dance party essential: a toothbrush.

Dance party essential: a toothbrush.

The King of Pop

Is dead

Long live the Sing.

Bush people

Gather around

This antiquated audiotape

Of thrift store providence:

This is Thriller.

Rhythm is our obelisk

And Liz knows all the moves.

Her face contorts,

Her feet footloose.

Billy Hackett

Is not my lover.

But he walks the moon

Like no other.

Wood chips, gravel

Scuff spinning toes.

Clasp your crotch,

Fling your feet

To reckless angles.

Stretch your falsetto

To octaves of joy.

And don’t stop

Til’ you get it on.


Sexy raised to the 6th power

Sexy raised to the 6th power