Saturday, June 13, 2009

Great game

Terrific hockey game last night, watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Redwings. The score was low (2-1), but there was lots of drama starting in the second period, when Pittsburgh lost Crosby to a knee injury. When he came back in the third, that just raised the anxiety level, because we were so worried that he SHOULDN'T be playing, but just couldn't keep out of the game. Thankfully, he realized after a short shift that he wasn't able to play at his peak, and sat down for the rest of the game. It must have been hard for him, but it was the right thing to do, putting the team first. But then, who expected Pittsburgh would play so well without Crosby? Those last 2 minutes of the third period were absolutely nerve-wracking, as Detroit poured on the pressure to tie the game, and Pittsburgh looked right at the end of their strength. If it had gone on another minute, I think Detroit would have scored. Dean and I were screaming "END!! END!!!!" as the final seconds ran out.

So that's it for hockey for this season. Now we'll have to watch baseball in the evenings. I was reminded of the famous Shakespearean Baseball Game by Wayne and Shuster, and was delighted to find it's on YouTube - two versions, as a matter of fact. There's a very early 1958 b&w version, which I believe I saw as a kid; I remember certain lines that were changed or edited out in later versions - "Is this a slugger I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee!" But the later version had its improvements, particularly the closing line, and the delivery was sharper and faster.

I don't suppose too many non-Canadians, at least under 40, would know who Wayne and Shuster are, but I've been surprised to read interviews of current comedians who list them as a formative influence - their timing was legendary. As a matter of fact, we believe that Wayne and Shuster were responsible for getting Dean his job in the Foreign Service. During one of the many rounds of interviews and tests he had to undergo, he had to do a role-playing game. He was told to pretend that he was an attaché at the Canadian Embassy in Bonn (this was pre-reunification), and his task was to put together a cultural show in order to present a portrait of Canada to the Germans. He was allowed to invite 10 famous Canadians to take part - whom would he choose?

Well, of course he was furiously calculating how to build a "balanced" group, so he started listing names: Margaret Atwood - she'd be good for the "artist" category (and she's a woman); Wayne Gretzky - sportsman; Rene Levesque - a Quebecer and a politician. He said he would have chosen Healey Willan to represent the musical side, but he had to choose LIVE Canadians - I think he chose Gordon Lightfoot instead. Finally he'd gotten up to 8 and was drawing a complete blank. So in desperation, he blurted out "Wayne and Shuster". The panel was highly amused at this, and told him that they'd been doing these interviews for years, and no one else had EVER suggested Wayne and Shuster! But the mere fact of doing something unexpected and original might have been the point that put him over the top, so ever since then, we've said that he owes his career to Wayne and Shuster.

With gratitude and affectionate remembrance, here is the Shakespearean Baseball Game:


Anonymous Bill in Ottawa said...

It was a great game to end a great series, even if the wrong team won. :-(

Ah well, draft day in just over a week and new plans and new hopes for this Senator fan.

I was pleasantly surprised to find such a wide variety of Wayne and Schuster video available on YouTube. My 14 yr old really enjoyed Question Time and the economy class vs first class skits.

As an aside, US residents of a certain age will remember Wayne and Schuster from the Ed Sullivan show. They were the most frequent non-regular act to appear (52 times between 1957 and 1970, with a whopping 13 appearances in 1959. I think that the Muppets were next with 23 appearances.

5:39 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Of course you're right; the team that SHOULD have won was...Ottawa. But failing (and I mean FAILING) that, I was rooting for Pittsburgh just because they were the underdog in the contest.

Ed Sullivan was a great fan of Wayne and Shuster, and that's probably where Americans would have seen them. But that's 40 years ago now, and I would think a person would have to be 50 to actually REMEMBER those shows. A lot of their stuff still holds up very well; even the topical sketches can make me laugh, although the topics they were spoofing are long gone. There's one they do about current commercials; I remember a few of the commercials, but even the forgotten ones are funny:

You don't drink booze 'cause it's smooth as silk,
You don't drink booze 'cause it tastes like milk.
You don't drink booze 'cause it makes you strong,
You don't drink booze 'cause it rings a gong.
You don't drink booze just to toast the Crown,
You don't drink booze 'cause it's your first down.
You don't drink booze just to show your spunk -
You drink booze 'cause you're a drunk!

What were they advertising? I have no idea. But it's still funny.

10:24 am  

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