Friday, December 31, 2010

LATER 2010

LATER 2010

First off, I want to wish everybody a terrific New Year. 2011 is going to be one heck of a great year, ehh. You can count on it.

A not so famous back woods New Years chant, “May you walk with wood in the morning and may you walk with wood at night. Morning, noon and night you’ll play the whole year long s’long as those splinters give you no fright.”


You guys got me on that one. Don’t have a clue what it’s supposed mean.

I figure that by the time you guys get around to reading this it’s already gonna be some time into the new year but just the same I’m gonna relate this story to you.

Unlike most years, I managed to stay up until the wee hours of the night this year which enabled me to ring in the New Year with an atrocious amount of drinking. Ah yeah the honey too. Just the two of us really tied one on this year hanging out here at the cabin. Snowed in and who gives a fuck. Cable was still working (no lines down) and best as I can remember we watched one of those shows that gets piped in from Times Square in New York City. Maybe it was a Dick Clark affair, but I suspect it was hosted by one of those weenies from an ‘80’s or ‘90’s boy band. Don’t really know, don’t really care.

I had set the alarm clock to wake me up in time to see the “Winter Classic”. No matter how hung over I was gonna end up being, I sure didn’t want to miss it – so I planned accordingly and had set this early in the day. This, in my opinion, is the best damn thing that has happened in the hockey world since day one. I live for this game! And this year it’s gonna be a hell of a rivalry. Penguins versus the Capitals. Crosby against Ovechkin. All of this being played on outdoor ice, the way the game is supposed to be played. Original roots. Original sportsmanship.

I love it. Just hope that I hear the alarm go off and manage to get my fool ass up.



Oh shit my head hurts. Throbbing like maybe both temples have been hit by slapshots. Need some aspirin. Need to take a piss big time. I lift my right hand to my forehead and, and, and I’m falling.

Beer cans scatter. My elbow and chin smoosh off of something gooey. Ummm – smells like pizza. Damn, it is pizza. I push my face up from the floor and note that its mushroom and sausage. Yuck what a mess. I just about hurl on the spot, cover my mouth and fall back into the mess again.

Now I’m aware of laughter and maybe the voice of a sportscaster.

Shit! Am I missing the game? Hope not.

“Good to see you finally got up, Jasper. Oh, I mean fell down again.”

Ha, ha … more laughter. More voices. Different voices. Sheesh my head hurts.

I roll out of the pizza box and can see a gold colored sofa beside me. Musta been sleeping on it ehh? Not in my house. We don’t own one like that. We musta gone to the neighbors or something.

I’m a little dazed but things are getting clearer.

The razzing was Mikey’s voice. Positive of it. But I haven’t seen him in years. My onetime defensive partner.

Yup. It’s him. Sitting on a hassock in front of the TV. A mug in his hand – must be coffee. Need some, but shit I’ve got to pee.

I finally stand up and look around. Nope not my place. I look down at the sofa and there’s a crashed out lady laying there with her face buried into the cushions. She’s there, I must a been there too. Skinny, raunchy, gold sofa. Snug. Both of us sleeping there. Doesn’t look like the honey though. I lean over her and gently lift up some of her red hair to see who she might be.

Mike whispers with force, “Whoa Jasper. Don’t wake her up. She seems to have a real attitude – hates hockey.”

“Who? What?”

“Ha, ha. You are so wasted. You brought her over from the bar last night. You two seemed pretty tight, but I was dang ass glad when she passed out. Got wholly quieter around here.”

Now this is totally tripping me. Where’s my honey? She’s going to be soooo pissed.

I look around, head’s still pounding. What in the world is going on? Where the hell am I?

Daggone if this doesn’t look like the house on Randy Lane. Yupper. I’m sure it is. I’m looking into the kitchen and out through the sliding glass door and see that old refrigerator on the patio. It’s gotta be. No doubts now.

“Is there some more coffee? Aspirins?”, I ask of Mike.

Why am I thinking aspirin and not Advil?

“Yeah, there’s a fresh pot on the counter and aspirin in the medicine cabinet of the upstairs bathroom.”

I mumble, “Thanks, I’m on that. Gotta take a whiz though first.” I stretch - damn something’s not right down there. My crotch itches like crazy. I look over at the sofa and hope I didn’t get the crabs from that redhead nodded out there that looks like a pile of dirty laundry.

Stumbling, I climb the stairs and find the john. The lid’s up so I don’t have to bend over – my head would have exploded. Oh shit. I unzip and reach into my fly to dislodge the little monster in my shorts. What a mess! Some kind of something; foreign, slimy, lumpy, is in my shorts and it ain’t my Johnson. Whatever it is I’ve got to get it out and get it out now. I’m about ready to piss myself already. Come-on! I unhitch my jeans and shove everything down past my crotch and piss all over my hand. My hand and shorts are all bloody. Crapola! What the fuck happened to me. My crotch is really burning but I don’t see any damage to my package. Just all bloodied up. I push my britches down further – have to clean this mess up.

What the hell is that in my shorts? There’s a orangish red mass in my shorts. I grab some toilet paper and pick what looks like a bloody turd out of my shorts. And drop it in the toilet. Before I flush the turd gets washed clear and I see that it’s a fucking chicken wing. A hot wing no doubt. How the hell did it get in my pants? Who knows? No point in asking anyone else cuz I’ll get the shit for sure.

I push back the shower curtain hoping to find a washcloth and discover a young lady sleeping in the tub on top of a pile of towels. She had one leg hanging over the edge of the tub but it had been hidden by the curtain so I hadn’t had a clue that she was in there until then. Weird. She was clutching a washcloth in one had so I reached to grab it from her.

Damn! It woke her up. She looks up at me and sees my mess.

“Oh … my … God. What happened to your little thingy?”

I respond in desperation, “Fuck you. Nothing. Go back to sleep.” And pulled the curtain back. Freakin embarrassed, I’m a mess, my head’s killing me and I ain’t even at my own place.

I put the lid down and sit on it. My shoes are still on (never do I ever sleep with my shoes on) so I take them off. Snoring now on the other side of the curtain. I stand up and remove my pants, throwing my shorts in the trash can. Suds up the wash cloth in the sink and wash the hot wing sauce from my midsection. Wring out the rag and use it to dry off. Re-dress, find the aspirin and head south. Need to try to forget this shit.

I get down stairs and find a clean coffee cup in the cupboard and pour myself a cup of joe. I ask Mikey if they’ve got any sugar. He gets up and points me to some. Three heaping teaspoons and the aspirin. I’m set.

“Hey Mike, you know you got a female sleeping in the tub upstairs?” I ask as I sit down on the end of the sofa and check out the red head again. Nice ass. Hmmm

“No shit!?” and Mike’s bolting up the stairs two at a time. A minute later he’s back down.

“Sorcelli brought her back last night. They were going to crash on the couch but you guys were there. I thought they left. He must be crashed out front in his car again. Most nights he sleeps on the couch cuz he doesn’t have anyplace else to go.”

“Hmmm, what in the world went on last night? I can’t remember a thing.” Gosh, I’m telling you guys I’m still a bit confused.

Mike starts out, “Well I didn’t drink as much as the rest of you guys, but just about everybody from the team showed up at Tweeds to see in the New Year. We closed the place and a few of you came over here afterwards to watch Strange Brew on the VCR. So there you are sweet and true. And the game’s just about ready to start. Caps against the Pens on outdoor ice. Me, Dave and Charlie skated on outdoor ice when we went back to Detroit once with Gavin last winter. It was bitchin.”

“Ahh, Tweeds, huh?” I say with hesitation. “It’ll come to me. You know I learned how to play hockey on ponds and the high school I played for had two outdoor rinks. Today’s game should be good.”

The announcers are still covering pregame crap when Gavin comes down the stairs scratching his crotch. He’s wearing stained boxers and a tank top. “Game on yet? Damn, I think that wench tried to cut that wart off my pecker last night. She was studying it pretty good for a while and now look at my shorts. They’re all bloody and my pecker is on fire.”

Mike says “What? Just about ready to start.”

My response, “I’d rather not and maybe you should look for hot wings instead of warts.”

He turned around on the stairs and headed back up mumbling some shit under his breath.

Player introductions were beginning and it was pouring down rain in the stadium where the game was to be played. Damn this was going to be a disaster. The puck won’t move well on wet ice. And if the rain freezes up then the rink will be like some bad ponds that I’ve skated on. Not good. Easy to break an ankle.

Gavin comes back down, wearing sweats now, pours himself a cup a coffee and plops down in a blue rocking recliner.

“Jasp, I didn’t remember until you said that shit … that the girls dared us last night to stuff hot wings down our drawers. Dang what a mess and that hot sauce burns like crazy.”

“Uh, huh – glad you remembered that cuz I didn’t have a clue why I was such a mess. Did you see the girl in the tub?”

“Yeah, Sorcelli’s date last night. What’s with the rain in Pittsburgh?”

“Oh, it’s just pouring buckets. They say it’s gonna be socked in like this for the whole game back there. I think they’re probably gonna cancel the game,” Mike fills us in.

“Well, fuck that shitolla!” Gavin spits out. “I played in worse weather than that back home before. Many a times, I have.” He pumps out his chest. “They aren’t going to puss out on us like that. Man look at all those fans in the stadium. They will just fucking riot or something.”

He leans forward in the recliner and coffee spill all over the carpet. No problem, the place is a rental. The security deposit is long gone by now.

Some guy that sounds like Jim McKay but is dressed like Don Cherry with his freaking high collar and foolish coat and tie, is walking out to center ice and making announcements for new sponsors for today’s game.

The coffee and aspirin are starting to work a bit so I listen intently so as to focus on something besides the still underlying headache.

“We are proud to announce two new sponsors to today’s activities that have stepped forward and provided support and equipment as a contingency in order for the game to continue. We believe that without their input today’s game would be a total washout disappointing millions of viewers. Ladies and gentlemen it is our pleasure to recognize Baden Sports of Federal Way, Washington, USA and G&K Manufacturing Limited of Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada.”

He’s clapping and the crowd’s applauding as the players stand on their bluelines tapping their sticks. In the background you can see that the arena’s staff is moving benches out onto the ice and lining them up behind the players.

“I would now like to ask the players to be seated on the benches as one of our sponsors brings out brand new equipment for today’s event.”

Ovechkin looks back over his shoulder, sees the benches and then skates into center ice. The showman that he is drops his stick and holds out his hands as the camera zooms in, portraying one of his best what the fuck expressions. He spins around so that all in attendance can see his put on.

Meanwhile the rest of the players are beginning to sit down. And it’s still pouring.

Out of the shoots come about a hundred sweet little honeys dressed in bikinis and carrying boxes and they step through the gates of the rink and position themselves in front of each of the now seated players.

The camera zooms in on one of the boxes and a very nice pair of tits. What I can see on the box says “Forest Traction”.

The girls kneel and begin to unlace each of the players’ skates. Some having to unwrap bands of tape to get to the laces. Mind you taking off hockey skates is not such an easy task. Goalie skates is requiring a team of two.

This is some pretty sweet videography and Gavin is whistling while Mike makes cat calls. I shoosh them hoping that they won’t wake the unknown red head on the couch.

Soon enough all the skates are off and a drum roll comes out of the tv’s speakers as simultaneously the bikinied babes open the boxes and proceed to take out what looks like pairs of high top tennies. Blue ones for the Pittsburgh bench and red ones for the Washington bench.

At the same time about another hundred or so babes come out of the bowels of the arena dressed in French maid attire and each of them acting like they’re sweeping with some sort of broomstick that is either blue or red at the sweeping end. They proceed unto the ice and march up to each player and hand one of these broomsticks appropriately colored to each player with a several bundles more being dropped off at each team’s off-ice bench. They gather all of the hockey sticks from the players and the benches and head back to warm places of the arena.

By this time all of the players are now laced up in high top tennies and the Jim McKay/Don Cherry dude is now again announcing some more shit. “Ladies and gentlemen again please provide a warm round of applause for G&K Manufacturing Limited for providing Forest-Ice broomball products the Forest Traction top of the line broomball shoe and their aluminum shaft ultra elite Pro 4500 broomball brooms with a molded poly/rubber head.”

The camera zooms in on Crosby now and you can see that he’s flabbergasted. They pan down the bench and all of the Penguins appear to be dumbfounded.

So am I! Mikey and Gavin are now screaming things that I won’t repeat here. The red head is waking up and Sully is coming down the stairs scratching at his crotch too. Don’t ask!

The camera pans the crowd and everybody is on their feet throwing beers, hot dogs – you name it.

McKay/Cherry starts talking again as the camera zooms in on some official looking document titled “The International Rules of Broomball”.

“Today’s game, which the network and your hockey organization, has been transformed for safety and the utmost level of entertainment into a modified version of the international rules of broomball. Three balls, as provided by our new sponsor, Baden Sports, will be used at all times during the game. The bluelines and the center ice redline will be ignored. Faceoffs will occur after goals, penalty infractions, and to reintroduce a ball into play after it leaves the rink. Running time will ensue, meaning that play is continuous with no stoppages other than to end a period, with each period lasting thirty minutes and twenty minutes between periods. Both benches with their entirety will be allowed on the ice at all times except where a penalty is being served. All on ice officials shall act as referees with the power to assess penalties. In event a team has players that are injured and cannot play then that team may provide a substitute from these staff members only: assistant coaches, trainers and equipment managers provided adequate safety apparel is worn. Without further ado let’s remove these benches from the ice and let the game begin.”

The players from both teams crowd around the boards in front of their benches with curious expressions on their faces. Byslma is just shaking his head. The camera zooms in on Boudreau who’s had some difficult times as of late. He’s mic’d and you can hear him telling his players that this one counts for the books so they better give it their all.

The three balls are set down along the center ice redline and the buzzer blows to begin play.


What’s that freakin buzzing? Oh shit. It’s the alarm clock. The winter Classic – I’ve got to get up to watch it. Rain or shine it’s gonna be a great game.

I roll out of bed, look back at the honey still sleeping – so peaceful. My head is pounding. Too much liquor last night for shit for sure. I stumble around to her side of the bed and give her a kiss and a squeeze.

“Honey, you better get up if you want to watch the Rose Parade on TV. She mumbles and rolls on to her back and puts her arms around me as we kiss again. “I love you jasper Wheats, I surely do. Happy New Year. I’ll get up in a few.”

“Ditto”, I return. “ Gonna jump in the shower and get some fresh coffee going. Need some Advil really bad. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. Now go. Hurry up with the shower cuz I’ve need to clean up too.”

I kiss her one more time and still stumbling I head to the bathroom, scratch my balls and wonder about the weird dream I had last night.

2011 is going to be a good one. Later 2010.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Twisted Hockey 2010

Summer comes to a close, by popular belief, today here in America. But scientifically it doesn’t end for a couple more weeks. It’s been a fortunate summer for me but not necessarily sweet. Last year at this time I was unemployed however this year I’ve had only three days off since the beginning of summer.

Not all good.

Late July the company I was contracting for let me go, but the next day my subcontractor hired me to continue running the project. The same shit goes on in the NHL I’m sure. Pro scout today and assistant coach for the farm team tomorrow. Keeps ya busy but pay cuts chase these moves. Wish I was an “in demand” player that could negotiate the big bucks.

Yeah, those days are past for this little old crooked puckster. Shoot! I was working with some beginners last year but I haven’t even been on the ice for a few months now. It’s not even all the work but maybe effects of the work – or maybe the last time on the ice. Who knows what causes this crap. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got a torn rotator cuff in both shoulders. The right shoulder, that I tore first, is probably from picking up the engine for my 1957 Fiat 600 (yeah that was more than a year ago but the sucker still hurts) and the left shoulder was fine until after my last skate with the kids.

Is it the cause?

Hell I don’t know but the timing lines up.

Let me relate:

I was skating with the kid’s practice and I took a couple of the kids (a boy and a girl) down to the far end of the ice. They couldn’t keep up with the drills. So I had them passing to each other and I’d chase the puck for them.

No problem.

As the net at this end was good and empty, the father of one of the other kids skated down and started taking slap shots. They weren’t quite as a swift as those of some of my NHL heroes but they had a little more oomph than my shots. He skated by after a couple of shots and said that I had to try his stick – a composite. He said that he waits until the sticks are at the end of production and just a few are left in stock; buying them for about half price. Now that’s a deal if you look at the list price these days. Dang near amounts to a days worth of take home pay to cover leaving a skate shop with one of these babies . Ehh?

So I borrow his stick for a few shots. Kinda hurt that he didn’t want to use my old wooden Sher-Wood P.M.P. 5030 SC, Bellows model (you know you guys it’s been a while since I had my hands on a Coffey “curve” model). Yeah it hurt, cuz I always figure that I’m walking with wood and this dad aint. Wassup widat? But I ding a few and it feels like the old days where I could pick a top corner from the blue line.

But later that evening my friggin left shoulder is killing me.

Was it the composite?

Or was it work?

Sheesh! Who knows.

Now some of you puck heads know that I teach a bit of college for an Illinois university. One class that I taught over the summer included subject matter on the manufacturing and processing of composite products. So, I, of course had to talk to the students about the design of hockey sticks both wood (definitely) and composites (reluctantly) and the relationship to consistent results from well designed composites used by pros today. I also included some minor diversions to aluminum shaft sticks – yahdy, yahdy, yahdy.

Maybe I should be a stick designer????

I’d really like to not be in pain and have enough time to get back on the ice with these little youngsters. It is so rewarding to see these kids not give up on our sport and to actually show improvement.

I’ve helped some of their families out financially by recycling equipment through my connections. As we all know, hockey ain’t cheap. Whatever I can do I do.

Back in the day I bought gear for Jingles and Bronzy to keep them in the game. I’d like to think I’m still doing the same thing to promote our great sport.

In February I bought a whole bunch of new youth sticks that I planned to distribute this year. Through a buddy I got these at wholesale price. Really a great deal and it didn’t set me back too bad. Nice little sticks from Bauer with your typical Nike logo (are these guys into everything now?)

But here’s the bitch of the deal: The pretty little sticks got recalled (March 18, 2010 by Health Canada and April 1, 2010 by US Consumer Product Safety Division – release #10-189). The lead in the undercoat paint and decals on these sticks exceeds the limits for children here in the US and Canada.

Nuts, what do they figure? Are the kids going to eat these sticks or something? Oh yeah, high stick to the choppers and your eating my paint boy. Not going to happen. All these kids wear face cages any more until they’re eighteen or something. Right?

What’s wrong with a little lead? It was in almost all light colored paints when I was kid. And I turned out ok, didn’t I?

Well, some may disagree but that’s beside the point.

Umm …. disagree about the problem with lead paint or disagree with my well being and sanity?

Ha, ha, ha!

I ate the damn sticks. I mean I ate the costs because I had to trash them because the return costs would have been almost as much as my purchase price. What a waste. Huh?

I just didn’t feel right in giving them away.

Maybe there was a “midget” league I could have given them to. You know, guys that are shorter than me – not a lot shorter but shorter by golly. I looked for such a league but had no luck. The sticks would have been ok for adult midgets since the recall was based on exceeding lead limits for kids. To be so lucky.

Twisted summer. Twisted hockey.

My father in law passed away this summer too.

That kinda sucked. Great guy – the father of my honey. If he had played hockey in his youth I bet he would have had the skills of the Pocket Rocket. Same build, same intensity in all that he did. He’s missed so badly. God bless Jack’s soul.

Then there’s the Blackhawks, Stanley Cup winners. Is half their team traded away already? Salary caps be damned! Can they even make a show of it this coming season? We’ll see, we’ll see.

And Stevie leaving behind his Michigan heritage to join a Florida organization. Kudos to the south, ehh!

And damned if Mr. Chris Chelios didn’t finally hang them up. My hero of heroes. What am I going to do now for Pete’s sake? I was hoping that the dude would at least skate until he was my age or at best until he reached legal retirement age and could draw social security benefits. Detroit gets him for some sort of youth development dude. What a contrast ehh? Well he walks with wood until the day he dies and the “kids” better appreciate that.

My bud, Jamie, summed up the whole situation with foolishness on facebook, “Sad day today. Chris Chelios retired. My dream is probably dead. He was the only player in the NHL that is older than me. The NHL scouts will probably stop coming to my men's league games.”

Yupper! Twisted summer. Twisted hockey.

What’s your story?

Season’s almost here, so skate hard and walk with wood.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yo – Penalty Shots

Word is that a couple of NHL teams played last night and one team was awarded two penalty shots and scored on both of them.

True, true. The Sharks beat the Capitals last night 5 to 2 and two of the Sharks goals were scored on penalty shots. At 16:37 of the second period Clowe scored his tenth goal of the season on Neuvirth and Thornton later got his eleventh of the season on him at 8:08 of the third. Both shooters went high on Neuvirth. Bet he’ll work on that in his next practice.

Ohhh, you betcha!

Even still, I thought Ovechkin’s twenty-sixth goal of the season, scored in the third was just dynamite. This guy is something unbelievable and I love the way he plays. All balls and nothing held back. I watch him skate and it’s reminiscent of a kid that Jingles and Bronzy skated with back when they were Bantams (Bronzy was still PeeWee age but played up that year) for the Garden Grove Americans. The Americans wore the old gold and purple sweaters like the LA Kings at the time. The kid’s name was Tim Sirotta. Don’t know what happened to him, but his skating style was so much like Ovechkin’s – yet I see him on the ice every time I watch Alex.

Tim had a younger brother or two. One skated as a goalie for me. He also had two older brothers. Mike was the younger of these two and was a heck of a goalie himself. One of the private high schools around the Twin Cities had him play for them. I played some senior puck with him later and could usually beat him five-hole because he was so skinny – there was that spot above his pads that when pulled together was still just a nasty little gap you could pound the puck through.

But back to the game last night. That was something pretty good for the Sharks, ehh? And that is tough for me to spit out because, as you know I’m a die-hard Kings fan. The last time that an NHL team scored two penalty shots in a single game was on February 11th of 1982. While in Detroit playing the Redwings, the Canucks scored two. Both were scored in the third period of that game on Detroit’s goalie at the time - Gil Gilbert. The first was scored by Thomas Gradin at 5:55 and the second was scored with a half a minute left to play by Ivan Hlinka who was shooting for Stan Smyl that had been injured in the penalty shot call. Smyl, even to this day, yields a ton of respect in Vancouver. The game ended up in a tie, 4 to 4.

Remember “ties”? Crazier than shit but I kinda wonder if we’re gonna remember “checking” in a couple of years.

Two penalty shot goals in a game is something. And to be scored by just one of the teams is even more impressive. It’s something that pretty much only shows up in the record books. Most of us never saw the last time it happened back in that game in Detroit in 1982. Hell, over half of ya reading this probably weren’t even born yet. Who knows how many of us saw last night’s edition to the record books. A bunch more than in 1982 thanks to cable broadcasts; that’s for sure.

But I can remember a game that was even more outrageous. A beer league game that I played in, it was. And how I can remember it is beyond me – duh – beer league. We definitely spent more time in the bar than on the ice. Too many nights where I didn’t have a clue how I ended up where I was in the morning. Ha,ha! Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Shit for sure this game was something else. It had to have been sometime between last night’s game and 1982. Couldn’t tell ya what year for sure or even who the heck we were playing against. And I’ll be damned if I could tell you what the final score was. But it was high scoring for both teams; like 15 to 19 or something like that.

There were about eight or nine of us sitting in the dressing room getting dressed. We’re all shooting the shit and gagging because of how bad the room stunk. It wasn’t surprising that it smelled that way because the flu was going around and guys had been spewing their dinner in the trashcan and corners over the past couple of weeks. I’m sure I was under the weather myself but even so, back then, I’d always dose up on Sudafed, aspirin and highly sugared coffee before games when I was sick. (Yeah, you guys are thinking, “Jasper, you are just one sick mofo anyway.”)

We had the first game slot that night after the public session and we’re sitting in there and hear the Zamboni getting off the ice and – NO GOALIE. Damn, I think that we carried two at that time but neither had shown up. Nobody had gotten a phone call and this was before cell phones and texting, so you couldn’t just buz or text somebody to find out what the deal was.

Kenny, who was running the team at the time and had just been to the head chucking his cookies, suggested that we ought to forfeit the game but skate anyway. We were scratching our balls and mulling this around – didn’t have a goalie and didn’t even have two full lines and defensive pairings.

Well shit howdy!

We had already paid for this month of the season and we sure wanted to skate, but to take a forfeit was such a friggin waste. Time was running out – we needed to get on the ice for warm ups.

Before we could make a decision one of the refs came in and said that our opponents were without a goalie and asked if we still wanted to play. He didn’t know that we were also missing our netminder.

Kenny, let him in on our dilemma and said “Let’s talk with them.”

We all met out on the ice down by their bench and decided that we’d play and neither would take a forfeit. Somebody said that the rink’s back room had a couple of old blockers and catching gloves that could be used by somebody in the nets.

So it was decided, some gear was found and each team posted a player in the crease as we got underway.

Jingles, one of the leading scorers in the league decided to act as our goalie. That might hurt us, but he was nuts enough to stand in the nets trying to stop shots and nobody else would. I don’t know who the idiot was at the other end but neither of them had face protection, pads, or goalie sticks. You know the drill if it was pickup – no slappers and no lifts; but huh-uh – not here - everything goes. It was for two points, ehh!

We were underway and Jingles was trying to act like a real goalie. You know crouching and holding his stick just so while staying in the net. It wasn’t helping – about five minutes in they had already scored three goals on him. Ditto at the other end. It was pathetic.

Jingles (and his opposite) started coming out of the net and acting like a third defenseman. One time he even skated up with the puck all the way past the redline leaving our net wide open. It was still a disaster. Goals were being scored by either side at will.

Before the second period we decided that we’d just start tripping anybody that went to the net with the puck. Our opponents must have decided the same thing because pretty soon penalties were being issued as frequently as goals. Quite a few calls were for penalty shots too. Jingles alone must have drawn about five penalty shot calls. He was snarling and pissed; chasing people around our end of the ice hooking at will. The last half of the game (running time) he spent more time in the crease trying to prevent penalty shots from scoring then he did for preventing goals during normal play. It was hilarious! Neither goalie stopped a single penalty shot. The two guys working the game would just laugh at us as we took another center-ice faceoff after each goal was scored. Must have been the most “fun money” they had ever made. Shitters!

How many penalty shots were there in this game? Damned if I could tell you but it sure as shit was more than two per team.

Did we make the record books that night? Oh, hell no. Beer league record books? Are ya fuckin kidding?

Was each team laughing stock to those who heard about this fiasco? Oh you betcha!

Did Jingles want to play in the nets again? Probably – but he’s absolutely nuts sometimes and yeah that means the dude walks with wood. Right?

The year is coming to a close in just few hours and I just want to wish all my puck buddies (that’s dudes and dudettes) a really great crazy-ass new years. Hope 2010 treats ya a-ok.

Tip one for ol’ Jasper tonight. Ehh.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

That Place (no. 1)

So you’re thinking right now that you’re the hottest dangler on the ice.


The best back-checker?


The hardest hitter?


A brick wall in the nets?


Goal scorer extreme?


Ok …

A really nice person?


A really attractive individual?


Poof! Me neither, but I walk with wood every day. I hold my head high by my accomplishments but am humbled by my failings. Shit, I’m only human. Ehh?

I don’t just judge myself by my physical form and capabilities, but also by my emotional spirit. Does that mean that underneath it all, under all that rabble-rousing – on and off-ice shenanigans, I’m just a weak-kneed pantywaist?

Ha! I don’t think so. No sirree! And you shouldn’t think that way of yourself either.

I’d guess that if you’re reading this than more than likely you’re a puckster like myself. Or maybe you’re just one heck of a hockey fanatic. So … that aspect of our lives is one of our attributes. There is something chivalrous about our sport and I think God made it that way.

This past week another great group of guys were inducted into the hall of fame. Watching these activities and games this past week also allowed the sportscasters to talk to us about how the bigwigs feel about the current injuries plaguing players these days. It seems as though head bashing – high hits – are taking guys out. What’s the cause of all of this? What is an equitable remedy? You know, I don’t know. Skate with your head up? That would be my first suggestion. Don’t take hitting away from the game. It makes the game. Are too many players coming out of the ranks of playing with face cages and that facial protection it provides. Have these players also habitually had to look down more because of the restrictive visibility near their feet? Possibly.

I remember playing some lunch time pickup some years back. During a rest on the bench one of the young pups that was there with me said “You play full check don’t you?”

I said, “Yeah, I used to. Why do you ask?”

He said, “Cuz you never look down.”

Hmmmm … could our old yell at the refs ‘pull your head out’ be now updated to a yell at our favorite players ‘get your head up’? Could be, could be. Let’s just not over-regulate this vigorous game.

Good stuff – hockey! I love it. I live it. And I’ve been beat up by it. Where do we go from here?

I know a place. I like to think that it’s a secret spot. Some place that nobody else knows about. It’s in the back woods, all protected by a berm and heavy brush. You normally can’t see the berm because the brush is so thick. I don’t think it’s natural. Probably dug out by a bulldozer years ago – or maybe even earlier by Native Americans. It could be a glacial pot hole, but I don’t think so because of the fully surrounding berm.
So, it’s sort of a pit that fills up with water. More than a pond, almost a lake. Heavy stands of trees shelter and shade its edges from the north and west. But it gets the morning sun just fine.

It isn’t very deep so it doesn’t support fish. Dang! But frogs call it home and deer visit it quite a bit. I see their trails more than I see them.

I don’t know if it’s the gravel bottom or what, but there is very little vegetation growing in the water. There aren’t any reeds growing in it and no muskrat mounds to be seen. I’m pretty sure that during a good winter that it freezes up right solid.

I’ve skated on it a few times.

That place, you see, is about a half hour hike in from a dirt road up the other side of the river from here. I came upon it while doing some soul searching quite a few years back.

My grandpa had died. He lived too far away for me to afford getting to his funeral. I was just a young adult and still pretty wet behind the ears. Green? Yeah, real green, that was me.

It was my first encounter with death. Or at least the death of someone I really knew. We weren’t real close, but I loved the man deeply. He let me taste and test his home brews when I was just a kid. He showed me how to pitch horseshoes back in the alley. He was a good guy and enjoyed his port wine while sitting at the kitchen table listening to sports on the radio and talking to his parakeet Petey.

I guess my emotions had gotten the best of me as I parked the car and started walking into the woods. I was deep in thought trying to contemplate the meaning of his death. He was my dad’s dad. And I wasn’t the oldest grandson but I was the oldest that carried the Wheats name. It made me wonder what my obligation was to my name. There aren’t a lot of us Wheats in the world and surely my debt would be due.

So I walked and I walked. I stumbled over deadfall tree limbs and protruding rocks. Yeah, I had my head down a lot trying to keep from falling, but when I’d come to a clearing and the sun would hit me I’d look up and cry to my Lord with questions I couldn’t voice. There were tears, yes, and I’d wipe them away with my soiled hands. My face must have been a grungy mess as I think back now.

There wasn’t any real path, just deer trails I’d follow until I’d come to a clearing then head out again trying to keep the sun to my left so that I’d eventually find my way back. Eventually I stood at the bottom of the berm and thinking that it was a small hill I climbed up it seeking a spot fully in the sun to sit and try earnestly to pray with some sense of mind. Fat chance of that happening as I was now just fully torqued.

But I climbed up and discovered the pit of water on the other side. I was in awe of its beauty and the solitude of the spot. I knelt down and tried to talk to my grandpa and God I guess. They didn’t talk back. I was calmed by the one-sided conversation just the same and later laid back and looked up to the sky. Pale blue with wisps of high clouds like goose down blowing from a torn jacket.

I fell asleep only to wake up with very large ants crawling all over me including my grungy face. They startled the crap outta me. Don’t really favor insects, you know you guys.

I jumped up and ran on out of there. No revelation, no answers – some peace and some satisfaction in discovering a secret silent place.

A place that I could visit again if I needed too.

But a place that I wouldn’t want to share.

Why is that? That we sometimes become so selfish of our places of refuge?

I don’t know, but I went back a few times over the years. A couple of young ladies broke my heart along the way and I had to visit that place and really quiz the Big Guy why life had to be such a big bucket of cold piss. Oh yeah, I was hurt and definitely bent outta shape. Again I did all the talking. Nuts!

And then I met my honey and I didn’t have much reason to traipse off into the backwoods again for lots and lots of years. Although she gave me reason to sit on that berm again but it was to praise and rejoice as she survived her second bout with cancer and the chemotherapy treatments. Yes, God is good!

But somewhere in between these visits, my ma died. I didn’t deal with it well. My grief was suppressed and I was more angry than sad. She passed away in late March and it wasn’t until the following January that the grief crippled me and I finally had to go visit that place. Dad suffered greatly and now finally his sadness was mine also.

You know, she used to come with Dad to watch Jingles, Bronzy and me play hockey. She loved those Outlaws – didn’t like our drinking so much – but loved us just the same. She’d holler at the refs and opposing players. She was a good fan. God bless her. She was there when I broke my arm and she was there when my eye almost was poked out. Somebody else gave her a ride home, cuz I remember Dad took me to the hospital both times.

She beat me as a kid. But what the hey? I deserved it I’m sure. She worried up a storm after the hospital called that time I had my motorcycle accident. I moved back home for a while after that one.

The year after her death, sometime around Christmas my emotions just started taking over more and more. My work was suffering – I was turning into basket-case.

So, early one Saturday morning I decided that I’d go out to that pit in the woods. There was somebody that I needed to talk to. It was a brisk, cold morning and I decided that I’d try to go for a skate while I was out there. Maybe it would make me feel better. I grabbed my Bauers, a stick, stuck a puck in my coat pocket and hit the road. I didn’t figure that there’d be an easy place to park out there so I threw a shovel in the truck – there’d be snow to shovel in order to get off the road.

The old dirt road had been plowed maybe once during the season and the going was slow. I got to the other side of the river and decided that I probably didn’t need to do any shoveling. It looked like no one else had been on the road for weeks so I just pulled as far over to the right as I could. The off road tires would get me out of here later.

I think, ‘Gee, there’s no deer trails visible now.’

The woods were all snow covered. I had to figure out how to get out there strictly on memory. Help me out here Ma.

It took most of an hour, but I found that place eventually. I fell down a bunch of times and used my stick as a poking feeler to probe for deep snow and buried limbs that would have trapped my feet. But I was here – at the base of the berm.

And damn it, I was mad. I screamed, “Ma, why’d ya have to die. Why do I have to feel so guilty about it? God this just isn’t right!” I ranted and I raved and eventually just sat down in the snow and cried my heart out for a good fifteen minutes or so. She had always made me feel so mad at her when I was younger, but I had loved her just the same. It was so much conflict.

Again, it was just me talking. I got no response.

Finally I got a grip on things and decided that I felt much better and should give the ice a skate. I used the stick to help me struggle up the berm. When I got to the top I screamed out in anguish.

What in the world was I thinking? There was no exposed ice – it was all snow covered. I swore and threw my stick and skates back down the slope, sat down on my butt and slid back down myself. I swore some more and picked up my gear and started walking back out via the tracks I made coming in.

I hadn’t taken more than ten steps when I got hit with a wind. A hot wind. I kept walking. By the time I had taken ten more steps the snow wasn’t crunching anymore. It was all mush but only as I stepped. Everywhere else ahead of me was crisp undisturbed snow, but my tracks and my steps were melting right down to fall leaves and dirt.

I stopped and pulled my stocking cap off because I was getting really hot. I unzipped my coat too. I’m thinking that this is just too weird. I took my mittens off and while stuffing them in my pockets I glanced over my shoulder back towards the berm I had just slid down. All of the snow on the berm for as far as I could see was melted and gone. What in the world was going on?

Curious, I walked back to the berm and climbed up it and looked down into the pit below. Damned if all the snow was gone. I could see a skim of water on top of the ice below. What had just happened? There is snow all around and I’m in the middle of some sort of focused heat wave.

I ponder the situation – quite confused. Why is it so hot? It’s freakin January for Pete’s sake. It was twenty below last night and now all this snow around me is melting. Melting? Phooey, it’s gone!

I do a spin-o-rama atop of the berm there and just sit my ass right back down again. As butt meets berm my nose tingles. The moisture in my nose just crystallized. There was a snap and all the sweat in my hair froze too. I think my right hand had frozen to the rock that it lit upon.

Oh my rolly jolly sweet cookies! Have I been smokin rope again or what? Did someone slip me a hit of Sidney Australia cuz I must be dreamin? The sky was pink and then it rippled rainbow before ending up back to that brilliant blue of winter. And I’m friggin freezing.

I looked down into the pit and there was a sheet of unmarred glaze ice. Pristine. I stood up again and the puck dropped out of my pocket. It rolled down and slid out onto the ice.

Oh my goodness I’ve got to lace em up. God bless this place! Ma, this skate’s for you!

I sit back down and unlace my boots – one at a time and replace them with a Bauer. I grab my stick and butt scoot down the slope to the ice. I kneel on one knee checking the ice to make sure it is what it is then get up on both feet as I whistle and stride off after the puck. Crisp, sweet ice. And so quiet out there I could hear the edge of each blade cutting the ice. So surreal. Like one of those scenes in an action movie where everything stands still except the action hero, or the bullet, or whatever.

I don’t have any nets to shoot at so I skate and I stick handle. I cut left, I cut right, I cut right again. Perfection! I switch to backwards winding up to the right and drive into forward with all cylinders firing. I’m on fire. This is the greatest skate ever. I’m ecstatic, I’m in the zone and the sky is going all rainbow on me again.

A few minutes later, while about as far away from my boots as I can get on this sheet of ice, I turn hard to the left and kick the puck up from behind me and lose it for a second. I look down and I get bumped.

Whoa! Some big bruiser just came up along side of me and leaned in. Where did he come from?

He didn’t say a word. Neither did I. But he skated off with the puck and I wanted it back. A game of keep-away ensued. A test of our skills? Or was it just a test of my skills? I could never quite get it. So frustrating. He’d deftly handle the puck within my reach to taunt me and then pull it away before I could touch it. And skate? Like the wind, he could. But silent – I couldn’t hear him cutting the ice. Was this dude supernatural? Mon Dieu! Is this God on ice? Or maybe one of his angels? Who is he, Viz Clortho, the keymaster of Gozer or what?

He came out of nowhere. He skates in silence. And his skills are more than superb.

This whole morning has been totally bizarre. I needed the healing from the death of my ma but this was something else. So much more. My mind went into overdrive and I started hyperventilating. I got whoozy and passed out.

When I came-to he was standing spread eagle over the top of me and said, “You doing ok Wheats?”

I tried to lift my head off the ice and whispered, “Who are you and how do you know my name?”

He chuckled and said, “Well I’ve been sent to help you out. My names Mark L’Ours,” as he reached a hand down to help me up.

“L’ours?” I said. “What does that mean?”

“Ha, ha!” he laughed again. “It means the bear. And you’ve had enough for the day. Let me help you up and get you back over to your boots. I’ve been listening to you and now it’s time for you to go home.” It was more a command then a suggestion.

No more was said until I had my boots back on. He had stayed on the ice and now asked if I minded that he hung onto the puck.

I said, “Sure why not, you hung onto the dang thing nearly the whole skate anyway. Yeah go ahead, keep it.”

He turned and skated off yelling back over his shoulder, “See ya around Wheats. Maybe the Outlaws could use me, ehh?” And chuckled some more.

About fifty yards out he just vanished. I’m baffled. What in the world just happened to me. I began to shiver and looked to the heavens as snow started to fall. It was a long walk back to the truck. I guess I’ll walk with wood. I’ve been to that place and back.

Friday, September 4, 2009

THUG ZAPPER (no. 5) The Conclusion

The Conclusion

Ok, so this whole tale of now five episodes began back right after Easter of 2009. It started with me making my picks for the 2008/2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

To recap events so far:

No. 1

I hooked up with Rup Iverson, NHL rep – Enforcement Technology in Oakland, CA while on a job hunting trip to the west coast. He was in the middle of a secretive test of a method to control fighting in the NHL via use of a taser type apparatus. Needless to say the test was a complete fucked up mess. One of the on ice officials that was supposed to zap a player involved in a major tussle accidently shot the fool thing right into his own face. It gagged me something fierce the way a smoldering decaying dead moose will when you come across it in the woods prior to wolves finishing their cleansing of the carcass.

Yup it convulsed me at the damage done and even the inclination of an idea to end fighting in hockey. Whoa! What a shame.

Anyway, Rup realized that his test was a rip and before I left he asked me to look into developing something better. He hinted that I could make a lot of money if something successful came out of my workings. You know, he gave me all that bullshit that he really respected me for what I’ve done for hockey and that I was walking with wood …. blah, blah blah.

No. 2

It’s mid May now and I’ve already revised my picks for the Cup. Wishy-washy on my part? Yeah, well so what. I got to watch more good-hockey on Versus this year than any ever previous. (Ahh, yah – we can thank unemployment for that, ehh?)

Well I flew back home from the west coast and even though I can’t stand the thought of no fights in hockey – I spent much of the flight thinking about ways to do this and make some money. Strange how not having an income drives your thought processes. Some will give up their religion to earn a buck, ehh?

Once home and back in the saddle with my honey I schedule a meeting with my crew to see if they buy into this shit for Rup and the NHL. We watch a game, drink beers and eat heated up frozen pizza. Its my usual buds: bros Jingles and Bronzy, Stinky and D-Pity. A good assortment of scroungers, moneybags, tech-geeks and foolhardy risk takers that love hockey. Yeah maybe Rup is right; me and my boys do walk with wood. We can be the shit, ya know.

Our plan is to come up with something like remote controlled dog training collars. Salvaging stuff from Stinky’s junk yard, some returns from Bronzy’s work and Jingles’ ingenuity we ought to piece something together on the cheap. If it works out then D-pity can fund us to go into production.

The best memories that I’ll take from this meeting is the recollection we had of Jingles’ old junior coach referring to his son’s girlfriend being about as handsome as a can of smashed assholes. What a hoot Bif was!

No. 3

Now it’s already late June and the Stanley Cup finals are behind us and the Penguins have taken it all. Way to go boys! That was some great hockey played this year. I can’t wait until season.

We held another little pizza and beer soiree. The pizza was fresh this time thanks to Bronzy. And the brewskies were some of Jingles’ home-brews – that stuff will just torque your ass. D-Pity, Wayno Studholm, couldn’t make it this time due to his planned development on his farm property for an ice rink. Jingles had managed to piece together one working system of collar, charging system and remote control.

Jingles gave us just a shit load of techno-crap that just went right over our heads but said that he and his youngest, Dilbert, had done some testing on it at home down in the basement. He thought that it worked just fine even though the test had been through his jeans on his calf instead of around his neck.

With this info we set up an on-ice test in a game situation with some of the guys that skate pickup and some of the Nightmares. Jingles is going to wear the collar, I’ll zap him remotely from off-ice and Stinky will videotape the whole thing. The whole idea was for the opposing players to take as many chances as possible to instigate a fight with Jingles.

It comes down to a pretty good sized young pup named Joshy that finally got Jingles ticked off. I let them each throw a few punches and everybody else is backing off letting the fight develop fairly. Ehh? I zap him once and all he does is growl like wild cat. I let the system recharge for five seconds then hit him again.

Jingles comes unglued and picks the kid completely up and throws him over the net. Stinky goes bananas trying to film the whole scene. Bronzy jumps over the boards and skates up to Jingles to calm his ass down.

Finally, checking things out, Joshy is okay and Jingles leaves the ice and comes up into stands and sits with me. He says that he doesn’t think it works. All it did was make him lose it and get angrier.

We chug some beers after the skate ends and all plan to meet again in a week or so.

No. 4

We have the meeting at Jingles’ place for a big old barbeque. More home brew than you can imagine and Jingles has to give us a tour of his little brewery. Long necks all around. Yupper!

Since his debacle on the ice last I mentioned, he had dicked around with the collar some and amped it up a notch so as to give a stronger initial shock. In the course of our drunken discussion we sort of came up with the idea that we’d name our device the Thug Zapper (hence the name for all of these foolish little tales, ehh).

We all about suffocated as Stinky regularly cut the cheese. Sure glad that Jingles had installed a top of the line ventilation system down there for his brewing processes or we all might have died.

We basically now have two complete Thug Zappers and D-Pity agrees to wear one besides Jingles in our next test session. I reiterate that the damn device has to break up a fight or we aren’t going to get one red cent from Rup and the NHL.

Before we depart from the basement Jingles pulls out something resembling the nuclear briefs that I gave to him as a joke Christmas gift when he was a kid. The dang thing is a wired up electrified jock strap. After all the “No ways!” had settled down, he explained that it was only a back up idea if our current version doesn’t work out.

So its time for another test and to move on with this story.

No. 5

We made arrangements and bought the ice that was usually for the Friday night pickup. The regular pickup guys didn’t know the difference except that we charged them a few bucks less than normal because they might lose a little ice time due to us trying to test something. (Ha, ha!)

Prior to the skate and since Jingles’ barbeque he said that he had spent a little more time fine tuning the equipment and told us that it was all going to work great. “Going to be no problems tonight. No sirree!”

Since word had gotten around about the test that we had already done. Jingles explained to everybody what was going on and that if there was any disgust with his or D-Pity’s play to not hesitate to drop the gloves and ”start pistoning our immaculately perfect faces.” He explained that I’d be in the stands controlling the remote of the Thug Zappers and then he showed them the collars.

Joshy was part of the group and he moaned, “Oh no … not this royal shit again.”

Jingles apologized to him again and said that the system should work much better this time and that he expected to drop immediately upon getting zapped tonight. Totally and instantly disabled.

Well that was the plan.

I could see that Wayno, old buddy, old pal, was getting a little fidgety. He signed up for this at the barbeque so I hoped that he wouldn’t back down now. His new girl friend, the architect, was in attendance so I went to talk to her and told her that she had to convince him to head-on strong for the team cuz we needed him to not back out now. Ehh?

So she yells at him to come over and when he gets there she cozies up to him, rubbing her body all over his gear and giving him little love pecks. Then she turns to me and gives me a wink.

Shit if that did him a lot of good. Like he could feel her through his gear, ehh? Maybe she got something out of it other than gear odor. Whew!

Anyway it did the trick and old D-Pity was ready to roll.

We got the skate underway and like a usual pickup game we weren’t using any officials. You police your own game cuz it’s just for fun. Right? Each team had almost enough guys for two complete line changes. It probably would have better if we had more on each side; that way everybody would have more energy and the tempers could flair a little better.

A decent, no, let me say a great goalie was in each net. One will be a first year midget this year, normally too young to skate in late night pickup but goalies are an exception and never have to pay either. I’m glad that they showed up. So were the other guys. It always makes for a better skate if ya have netminders. Everybody plays like they would in a game (ha, ha – except for the shift durations, ehh) if they aren’t tipping the nets over or playing pipes only.

I’ve got the clicker for each Thug Zapper collar. Left hand is holding the one that D-Pity is wearing and my right hand has Jingles’. Stinky is running the video camera again sitting right next to me in the stands.

So you ask “Jasper Wheats, why the hell aren’t you skating too?”

Shit all mighty. Ever-since I had the friggin brain injury, I haven’t played a single shift. I’ve even turned over Norris’ Nightmares to be coached by Bronzy and Jingles. It’s only recently that I have been on the ice at all and that has only been to help coach beginners that are just learning to keep their feet below their asses. And I’ll tell you that my own sense of balance sometimes isn’t a whole lot better than theirs.

Satisfied? Ehh? Well I’m still walking with wood anymore – only it just might be little wood. Ha, ha!

Moving on here and getting back to the action on the ice, it’s obvious it’s going to be a good skate. To keep Jingles an Wayno from fighting with each other they played on the same team. Bronzy joined them too cuz he said he didn’t want to fight with either one of them. Joshy Joined them too cuz he didn’t want to tangle with Jingles again. They had a couple other hot skaters and a couple of weekend warriors about Bronzy’s age.

Goalies switch ends about half through the skate, whereas the teams don’t during pickup. So each team had equal chance based on the goaltenders and their skills. I’m telling you that young kid was limber enough to bend like a pretzel and had one quick glove hand. The other guy has a reputation of being a brick wall. Just solid as a rock, plays the angles well and is no-go everywhere while he gets his body behind every shot. He’s also known for some dirty shit if ya plant your ass too near to the crease.

He could cause some excitement later. Who knows.

The other team had about four or five guys in their late twenties that I know had played juniors and were still good strong skaters. One of them, Zach, had my back in a bar fight a couple of years ago when my bros weren’t with me. It was against some cousins or associates of Tidwilly. Happened while he and the Wanker boys were in the slammer for jumping us Wheats out in the parking lot one night. So I figure that Zach can hold his own on the ice. They also had one big old bruiser that I wasn’t familiar with. Built like a freakin lumber jack – all shoulders and upper body. Had a kinda nasty little pirate look to him too – kinda reminded me of Wild Bill – for those of you that remember him. I guess this lumber jack of a dude was one of the other guys’ cousin and had come down from Hibbing for the summer. I heard him talking to his cousin and he had a French accent. I would have guessed that he was from somewhere north of Grand Mere in Quebec rather than a rust head from Hibbing. They also had a couple of The Nightmares skating for them and then some guys closer to Bronzy’s age filling in the rest.

You look at the group out on the ice for the start of the game and it looks like a normal ragtag bunch of guys. No new gear standing out except on the young goalie and pairs of gloves here and there – mainly on the juniors you know. My guys are wearing white or light colored jerseys (some blood stains that didn’t wash out are dark brown spots and drips) and the other guys are wearing dark sweaters. Helmets are all required but face protection is an option. I generally don’t approve of cages unless all are wearing cages cuz they can be used as a weapon by going into another guys face. Oh well, there were only two on the ice tonight. Not gonna complain.

Bronzy takes the puck and fires it into a far end corner to get the game under way.

Game on boys! Let’s see what happens.

Joshy is centering our first line with Bronzy on right wing. Some kid is on left, Jingles and some older dude are playing defense. Joshy forces the play coming out of the zone and the other kid gets beat coming out of the zone on the left boards. Bronzy sweeps back through the center while Jingles and his partner are backing up. The kid with the puck is one of the Nightmares and he likes to hot dog it a bit during pickup and forgets that he’s got teammates. Bronzy and Joshy focus on him as he dekes to his left and then straddles the blue line stopping at the point on the far boards, finally, waiting on his team mates. No checking, so he would have been glommed in a regular game at this point. He’s on Bronzy’s side of the ice so he takes the play and reaches for a sweep to take the puck away while Joshy backs off to pick up the guy breaking across the center. The dude pivots and rolls away from Bronzy and hits the third guy coming into the zone,

Shit we look like a bunch of hacks out there getting beat right and left. Their right wing takes one stride with the puck and turns it into a give and go dropping a soft pass back to the first guy into the zone who one times it high over the net.

Jingles’ partner pulls it in quick and circles behind the net with a quick pivot and comes back out the way he came in hitting our left wing on the half boards who then takes three hard strides out of the zone and hits Joshy who is crossing over center into the left lane. He goes in hard along the boards with an anchor on him the whole way going behind the net and backhands a sneek to Bronzy who tries a tip back at the net. No strength and their goalie, the young pup, covers it up.

End to end! That pretty much defines pick up. Occasionally we’ll see the puck change hands in center ice, but that takes up too much energy and we’re all running long shifts. Not the best hockey in the world – but hell it’s probably the most fun next to pond hockey where you might have two on two or three on three and half your game is focused on not breaking an ankle on the bad ice. Right!

Lines change and the lumber jack is on the ice now. He’s not fast but skates very protectively. Hadn’t noticed it before but he uses a short stick and because of that he skates all scrunched over with the puck underneath his tented body if he so desires. Very defensive offense if I say so myself. He’s strong in the corners and you don’t want to get in his way if he comes up the boards. Poke checking is about all you can do. During his first shift I never saw him make a forward pass. Just some drops as he used his body to clear a path for the follow-on guy. Interesting – a strategy that seemed to work well although he did get hit twice from behind with shots by his own team mates. Ouch!

So far we were about twenty minutes in and nobody had gotten real pesky yet. Their goalie was stumping us totally and they only had scored twice on us. Once on a deflection on slapshot from the point and another five-hole tweeners from about twenty to twenty-five feet out.

Only an hour long skate so in ten minutes we’d get the kid in our nets.

The dude from Hibbing that was all shoulders had been coming up the boards every time so far until Jingles had stumbled on their blue line and fallen down right in front of him. The big old goose swept left of dipshit Jingles and continued straight up the ice towards our net. Luckily D-Pity was playing dee with Jingles and had already shifted further back to cover for a break out (that didn’t happen – just puck hogging, ehh) and was lining him up the whole way back into our zone. Finally someone from our bench yelled at Wayno to stop backing up and force the play.

At that point Mr. Wayno D-Pity Studholm put on the breaks and planted himself like a small tree trunk and Mr. French accent lumber jack plowed right into him knocking him for loop continued to the net and smashed our goalie while shoving the puck into our net.

Our goalie was back at him in a flash swinging his stick at his calves and then up in a second getting into his face with his blocker.

D-Pity left his gloves right where his hands had landed on the ice and was up and jumping on the lumber jack from behind landing a right to the goon’s right jaw.

Ole Frenchy lumber jack pushes the goalie back into the net with his left hand and use this same energy to rotate to his right back into D-Pity who completely missed with a left because of the move. He swung right and caught the top of lumber jacks helmet as he lowered his head and charged into D-Pity again.

D-Pity jumped up a bit and grabbed the dude under the chin with his left forearm and wailed on his left cheek with is right.

Everybody else had backed off now including our goalie.

Stinky is yelling at me, “I’m getting this, I’m getting this! Are ya gonna zap him or what? Come on Jasper we gotta see if this works this time.”

The choke hold on the dude from Hibbing plus Wayno’s pummeling is taking its toll. He drops a little lower trying to shake Wayno off while he’s grabbing Wayno’s jersey at the neck.

The advantage is still Wayno’s so I figure that I better zap him. Left hand or right? Left hand I remember and I press the big button on the clicker.

Wayno screams “Wooooooaaaa!” as his legs come out from under him and he starts to drop it seems like in slo-mo.

Mr. Lumber jack had his hand touching the collar while grabbing D-Pity’s jersey and got a zap too pulling his hand back fast and faded to the ice slowly too.

With that done everybody else on the ice made sure the shit was over and helped both skaters off of the ice.

Stinky and I went down to interview them.

Wayno was cool but still shaken up. He said that the damn Thug Zapper worked like a charm. Said it was like a massive spasm from his head to his toes and everything went loose. He thought he might have peed himself and that he’d better go check. Basically he pronounced it a success.

Now Mr. Hibbing dude, that we found was named Stefan Boucher, was actually from Quebec originally but had been in Hibbing for only the last couple of years. Said that the hockey up there was great but you could only skate in the fall, winter and spring. He was very glad to get in a summer skate. Anyway, he said that he had felt the zap go up his arm and down one leg. He explained in his French accent that the muscles went all weak and his fingers felt like they had hyper-extended causing him to lose his grip on the jersey. Said that it was really something.


By this time it’s now past the halfway point and time to trade ends for the goalies. The brick wall that was in our nets was a bit more than a little pissed off at Stefan but he’d calm down after he and his fellow netminder switch ends.

We were down now four to one and were counting on the young kid in net to balance the scoring or maybe even tip the scales our way.

Whoa dogs! I’m getting way off base here and sounding like I’m more concerned about the outcome of the pickup game than I am about our test of our Thug Zapper.

In addition to interviewing D-Pity and Stefan about the physical results all of us involved pow-wowed for a few minutes off of the ice. Stinky ran back the video record for us all to watch and then we made a quick assessment.

Had the first zap tonight on D-Pity not gone well then we probably would have called it a night and gone back to the drawing board so to speak. Bronzy hinted that it maybe worked too well and was now glad that he never made it into the NHL. Wasn’t looking forward to ever getting zapped. Stinky thought it looked great and commented on how quickly the fight stopped after I hit the clicker. It was less than a second he figured. Jingles was all pumped up and started talk techno-crap again and at that point I said, “Good. It works good. Or maybe even great. Now get back out there and see if we can get another trial zap or two yet before the skate is over. Wayno, can you handle another one if it comes to that?”

“Shit yeah Jasper! I’m feeling just fine now. Let’s go guys!”

Stinky and I climbed back up into the stands as play was already under way and the guys snuck back onto their bench.

After about ten minutes into the goalie switch our side still hadn’t managed to score. Jingles at this point in time decided that instead of playing defense that he’d skate up.

Now you guys know that have been following my stories that that brother of mine just sometimes acts like a complete fool lunatic when it comes to competitive endeavors. The years that I’ve played hockey with him I can vouch for that emphatically. So what’s he do on this first shift up on forward?


(And don’t I just love the way Mr. Avery plays? Yes sirree!)

Stinky is filming this and he whistles and yells, “Sweet, Jingles is getting ready to ring some bells!”

I respond, “That stupid shit! He’s just gonna get his own bell rung!”

He’s pestering the goalie big time and getting him ticked off – swinging his stick and jabbing the edge of his blocker at him.

The puck’s still in their zone and Jingle’s turns back to us for an instant while Stinky has him zoomed in.

“Oh Jasper, Jings has got his shark face smile on. Something’s going to happen soon.”

“Keep the camera on him. I know what you mean. How many times have we seen that smile before? Right when all hell is about to break loose.”

Old Stefan the lumber jack looking dude was pressing the play out closer to the blue line when he notices the shit that Jingles is pulling down in the slot. Before you know it he’s making a beeline to his own net.

Jingles is back side to him as he clobbers him from behind with a full speed cross check. The jolt pushes Jingles straight into the goalie who has his blocker out aimed at Jingles’ jaw. All three bounce back across the cross bar which keeps them from falling over.

Jingles pushes the goalie in the face using that as leverage to turn back into the guy that hit him from behind dropping his stick and gloves along the way.

Stefan didn’t know what was coming as Jingles began pummeling his guts a few times which caused him to bend in towards Jingles at which time Jingles grabbed his jersey at the neck opening drops his own head to give Stefan nothing but helmet to swing at and began pounding rights just above where his left was holding the jersey. Yup, blind punching of one hand at the approximate location of your other hand – teach ya that in fight school boys.

Jingles is just pounding this guys face. You couldn’t see his hand it was so fast – easy comparison to the dukes of a light weight instead of an overweight aged puckster.

At that point I hit the button on the clicker in my right hand. Nothing happened.

Then Stinky said, “Jasper I think you just dropped Wayno.”

Oh fuck I must have changed hands with the clickers during our little pow-wow.

I immediately hit the left clicker button.

Jingles screams bloody murder and jumps about four feet straight up in the air. He drops completely lifeless looking. And the fight is over. Quick as shit!

Success again I’m thinking. Yes!

Stinky, at this point in time says, “Whoa, Wheats! I don’t think something’s right. It looks like the collar came off of Jings way before you zapped him. Let me run the video back.”

He does real quick like and then does a computer enhanced zoom on the laptop that he’s connected to and sure enough you can see that when Jingles runs into the goalie’s blocker from the initial cross check, that the blocker hit’s Jingles in the neck and knocks the collar off.

Well, what the fuck?

At this point in time Jingles is moaning intensely while laying flat on the ice. I’m running down from the stands, opening a gate, jumping onto the ice and running over towards where my little brother is laying on the ice. I slide up to a stop while dropping on one knee and crash right into Jingles’ left knee and roll over him planting my right hand on his mid-section to try to keep my balance.

He lets out another blood curdling scream, “Oh my fucking balls!!!”

I immediately flash to the thought of the nuclear briefs. Jingle you didn’t? Oh no!

I kneel over him and calmly ask, “You didn’t wear that wired jock strap did you? Please tell me you didn’t and that you’re only suffering a hernia or something.”

He forces his shark smile back on his face and says “Yeah, the nut cracker. Ahh, ouch. I had to try it. Shit! I disabled the collar cuz I didn’t want you to know. Oh fuck does this hurt. But it did the trick didn’t it?”

“Jingles, you are one fucking asshole. This is probably a major mistake on your part. We better get you to the hospital. Can you stand up?”

“Whoa, I think so. Oh fuck me this hurts.”

I yell for some help, “Couple of you guys help me get him up and skate him off the ice. I’ve got to get him to the ER.”

He spent two days in the hospital. Somehow when he wired up this jock thing-a-ma-jigger he got the circuit wrong and instead of it being a high voltage low current shock he got a medium voltage but high current shock and it just about fried all of his equipment. The result being kind of a fried weenie sandwich.

Thank goodness he had great medical insurance and a forgiving wife.

He told me that he’d be using ‘Depends’ for a few of months and that if he could ever do the nasty again it would be via the benefit of some prescription little blue pills and some shit implant device that ya gotta pump up.

Well right now he needs to concentrate on healing the burns. His catheter comes out in a couple of weeks. What a pisser.

Yesterday we had another meeting at Jingles’ place to discuss the Thug Zapper some more.

We came to the conclusion that it was a bust. We like fighting in the NHL. That’s that! Enough said.

I’m calling Rup on Tuesday and telling him that Old Jasper Wheats and his crew couldn’t come up with any good ideas and that our best idea was for him to tell the NHL upper management dudes that we like fighting and if the superstars can’t handle that then may they really aren’t hockey super stars anyway.

Oh by the way, I’ve included a photo (might be copyrighted – who knows? if the image doesn't come up try this link: that I lifted off the internet of some dude that pissed on an electric fence. The damage to his equipment is horrendous! Jingles’ was not quite this badly sizzled but it gives you an idea of just how bad it was. Poor guy! I hope that he can walk with wood again someday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009



Yup, Jingles had been “testie number 1” on the ice with the zapping collar device. This is supposed to be our piece of miracle hockey gear to help the NHL, through Mr. Rup Iverson – Enforcement Technology Rep, control fighting.

The NHL ran an unsuccessful test of their idea on some Oakland ice and we’ve run one less than successful test on our local ice up here in the back woods.


After closing the bar at the conclusion of our skate, Jingles had invited us all over for a barbeque at his place on the next Saturday afternoon. This was to be a good time but also a chance to troubleshoot and brainstorm possible improvements or changes to the idea we had already formulated and tested once.

Families and all are gathered out at Jingles’ place. D-Pity brought his architect girlfriend and I got to meet her for the first time. Nice lady and as opposed to what the other guys had picked on him about, I found that she was mildly attractive and not the horse’s ass as I was led to believe. She and I chatted a bit about construction practices and the new “green” edicts that our government is tasking us with. She’s a firm believer in global warming and I had to take an opposing view recommending that she read some of my writings on the subject and my proposition that we’re getting reading for a shift of the polar axis. Yes, that the North Pole will be soon positioned just above the Mexican border near Del Rio, Texas. This she found absolutely hilarious but said that she’d try to find time to read my shit.

Well, it was apparent that Jingles was running the show. He had two big old wash tubs just jammed packed with chipped ice and bottles of his home brew; tall necks. Yup! He had wine, iced tea, and a couple of coolers full of pops for the kids.

He’s got a couple of redwood decks out in the back yard with one of them next to a big old above-ground pool with a ladder wide enough for two people to step into it or out of it at once. It was a nice hot humid day and the skeeters weren’t half bad. Jingles says that he uses some sort of high frequency speaker system, beyond the range that we can hear, to repel them fool bugs. Must work.

At the other deck he’s got a built in six foot wide barbeque setup. And like I said earlier he was running the show. Flipping burgers, turning hotdogs and smoking ears of corn. Good shit! But I think he’d already had a handful of those brews before anyone got there because the pattern for flipping burgers kinda went: two on the grill and one on the deck. He’s a flipping fanatic. Damn sure his dogs ate well that afternoon. Stinky even gathered up some of the dirt burgers and took them back for his junkyard mutts.

After we all sat around eating and doing the usual chat, yelling at the kids and helping clean up; Jingles lead us dudes down to his basement workshop.

Smelled like a friggin brewery down there. He had two separate batches of his home brew fermenting in a couple of 5 gallon crocks under cover of some wet towels. He also had an old book case filled up with capped off long necks. Must a been a couple hundred bottles of beer sitting there on the shelves.

D-Pity said, “Jingles, old buddy old pal, why are these delectable bottles of ale extraordinaire not being refrigerated? Ehh, you king of brew-meisters?”

Damn, we’re all pretty cocked.

Stinky added, “Yeah, Jings, you old fool, why aren’t these chillin? Not sure there are many left in the tubs out on your deck.”

Jingles extends his hand at Stinky and curls his index finger a couple a times without saying a word and turns walking away from us around the bench into another little room.

Shit, there’s two refrigerators and three more crocks. He opens one and it’s completely filled with brown bottles and he opens the other with equal contained capacity.

“Damned, all right! That’s a lot of beer Mr. Wheats,” exclaimed D-Pity. “But, still why aren’t those others refrigerated?”

Jingles, all proud of his beer making expertise explains, “I found that when I first started doing this, that I’d give a six pack or two away to somebody and they wouldn’t have room in their frig to put it all away. After a couple of days some of the bottles occasionally would burst. Sometimes, ya know, I bottle a little green and the yeast keeps working. Gets a little stronger but also makes a little more pressure and busts the bottles. I wasn’t happy that the beer I gave away went to waste so now I bottle it and let is sit at least a week before cooling it down. If the bottles are going to explode – at least most of the time it will happen here before I give it away.”

I said, “I get it. But dab-nab if you don’t have a lot of beer here. Isn’t there some sort of legal limit on what your allowed to brew?”

“Ahh, yeah,” Jingles gagged out, “but we don’t need to get into that. Come on back to the bench and let me show you guys what I worked on this week.”

“Looks to me,” piped in Bronzy, “that all you had time to work on was brewing. And I shit for sure ain’t complaining none. Uh uh, not one bit.”

Then he belched from the deepest regions of his gut and Stinky immediately followed by lifting a leg and ripped a fart that could have only been churned up from a perditious tomb of torment. We almost evacuated the workshop as Jingles pulled an overhead cord turning on a high velocity exhaust fan.

“Got ya covered,” he whispered to Stinky. And then in a louder voice, “The wife made me put this in to keep the fragrances from permeating the livable regions of our humble domain. Either that or I had to quit making beer. Ha-ha! And you know where that would go. Ehh?”

“Here. You guys check out these ideas I’ve got here on the bench. I amped up the original collar and also fixed up another one so that they will zap at a higher voltage. Both Ry-Ry and myself have tested it in the heat of staged but protracted arguments. I wouldn’t let Dilbert try it at this level. You know, he’s just a kid. But he sure wanted to again and he laughed his ass off watching what it did to both of us. He pushed the remote to do the zapping. Both times it just knocked us on our asses. Ry-Ry said it was fuckin intense. Called it quite the thug zapper. He said that’s what we ought to name it and that he’d check on whether that was already copyrighted. Said that he found something that might indicate it was assigned in Australia, but was part of a security system and we might be able to get away with it here in the US and Canada. He’s still doing research so we’ll see.”

Jingles wasn’t slurring his words so much now and seemed to have sobered up some in the excitement of showing us these revisions to the design.

D-Pity barked, “I like that, ‘Thug Zapper’. Maybe we could get Dave Shultz to endorse the suckers. Kinda like ‘bug zapper’ but more oomph to it. Tell Ry-Ry that I think that that’s the shit, ehh.”

Stinky ripped another one and we all gagged for a bit while the fan cleared the air.

“So anyway,” Jingles bragged, “we’ve got two of these now that I’ve fixed up and they’re tuned to about the same zapping output power. I think we should give them another try, maybe at the Nightmares’ practice again this week. I’ll wear one again but we need to get someone else to try it.”

“I’m not so sure that we can legally get one of the kids to try it,” I stated. “Well, I mean we could probably talk a couple of them into trying it out but if they decided to sue afterwards for some stupid shit reason then we’d be toast. Ehh. It’s got to be one of us. You guys agree?”

Bronzy dekes to the left and says, “I don’t know about that Jasper. I’ll be damned if I want to get zapped. I try to avoid fighting anyway – you know I get just as pissed as any other guy but I’m still just barely pushing one-sixty and that usually puts me on the losing end of any kinda physical altercation. Besides that, my pain threshold has never been on par with Jingles. Brother or not, he’s crazy and’s always been that way. Remember how he used to play ‘red zone’ and we’d try no nail that red tee shirt that he’d tuck into his shorts and hang in front of his nuts. Uhn-uh, no sirree, I don’t want to test one of those puppies out!”

“Well fuck you dude. I’ll give it a try,” said D-Pity. “I’ve probably got twenty pounds on Jingles so maybe it will be more tolerable. Of course that isn’t what we want is it guys?”

I responded, “No, no. It’s gotta knock a guy on his ass, without permanent or long lasting injury. You’re gonna want the guy to probably be fully recovered after serving five minutes though. Right? You guys agree? Right? But still it’s gotta break up the fight or Rup ain’t gonna be interested in it.”

“So everybody agrees that we’ll try it again, the same scenario as last time but Jingles you and D-Pity both will be wearing a collar. I’m sorry guys, you’ll be wearing a ‘Thug Zapper’. OK?”

“Sure, sure Jasper,” Jingles conclude. “You and Bronzy run the controls and camera. Stinky, I think you should play this time and help create the agitation. Ok. Just put on a prick attitude like you did that time when those guys were trying to steal shit from the junk yard. Ehh!”

“Can do!”

Well Jingles wasn’t done yet.

“Just in case this doesn’t work,” he said, “I’ve got a back up device that I’m working on. Jasper, you remember those ‘nuclear briefs’ that you made for me as a Christmas present when I was a kid?”

“Yeah. No way Jingles! You can’t charge up and zap a jock strap. Shit ass man! You might make someone sterile or toast their friggin dick. What the hell? After you use that and the trainer comes out to check on his fighter, what’s he gonna do stick his hand down the guy’s shorts and ask him how his package is doing? No way! Fucking no way!

Mr. D-Pity – Wayno Studholm, is laughing his ass off. “Jingles, you’ve electrified some Bike or whatever brand of jock strap? Show us this crazy-ass crotch cradle. Will ya? I gotta see this thing.”

Jingles opens up a shoe box on the bench and there the damn thing is. You could see wires woven into the ball sling and a battery pack with a remote receiver attached to the back of the waist band. A definite torture device if I ever saw one.

Bronzy is moaning, “Oh shit, I ache already just thinking about that thing. Ohhhhh.”

Jingles defends himself by stating, “Look you guys, it’s only a back up plan. I’m sure it will work. It’s detuned from the original dog collar that we tested, so it won’t be as strong a zap. But shit you guys. It’s gonna zap the most sensitive part of a player’s body. And if that won’t break up a fight than I don’t know what will. It’s only a back up. Ok? Ya know, only if these two don’t work. I thought you guys would think I had done my homework and would appreciate an alternate device. Who wants another beer?”

He beered us all and we went upstairs and back outside. Jingles went over to the deck by the pool and jogged across it leaping and doing a cannon ball just missing Bronzy’s little girl, Chatisha. What a little sweetie but it scared the crap outta her and got him yelled at by just about everybody.

Well, pucksters, somebody’s walking with wood and right now I’m not sure it’s any of us. There’s more to follow so as they used to say “Stay tuned folks!”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Well, as usual nothing goes as planned.

I originally wanted the Red Wings to win the Cup this year even though I picked the Bruins to take it all. Instead the Bruins fall by the wayside and I end up liking the way the Penguins play and hope that they take it all – which they did. Dem boys is walkin with wood! Ehh?

Do I sound a little wishy-washy? Sure. Probably. But heck I’m a Kings fan and they weren’t anywhere near a playoff spot; so I figure that I’m entitled to cheer for anyone I want. Mainly though, I really, really enjoyed watching Pittsburgh play. For the most part, it’s like watching a whole team of Alex Ovechkins.

His post season awards should help to appease the Caps fans. Tim Thomas’ Vezina and Chara’s Norris should appease the Bruins fans. And hopefully, but probably not, Datsyuk’s double wins will mollify the Red Wings devotees.

But getting back to things “not as planned”, me and the boys didn’t get together on the following Saturday to discuss the zapping dog collar doodads. Too many interfering activities came up and it finally came down to all of us getting together at my cabin again for beer and pizza on Friday night, game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Bronzy brought fresh pizza from town this time so it was considerably better than the frozen cardboard pies that we had at the last meeting. It’s absolutely amazing what these small little differences make when you’re in your ninth month of unemployment and kinda living on the edge.

Wayno Studholm, D-Pity, didn’t make it to our little gathering. He, the suck-buttin rich fool that he is, had gotten tickets to the game and was down in Detroit. We looked for him while watching the game but never saw anybody even closely resembling his sorry ass. Said he took his architect to the game and wrote it off as a business expense. I think the dude is finally saddled, but we’ll see.

As last I explained, Jingles was going to stop by Stinky’s to pick up some salvage components and Bronzy was going to snag some returned garage door openers from his work. The major tasking since our last meeting was on Jingles to fiddle about with this stuff on his bench down in his basement.

So when Jingles shows up, besides having a couple of sixers of his home-brew, he’s got a Dairyland milk crate full of zapping apparatuses. Seems as Bronzy had dropped off the garage door clickers sometime along the way and Jingles had kluged up a test sample with some documentation to back up his test results.

We’re watching the game, munching the pizza and chugging the home-brew. That’s some good shit he brews up. I really like it. Jingles is trying to relax and enjoy the game but I can tell that he’s all amped up over the gear that he brought over. At the end of the first period he starts pulling stuff out of the milk crate, spreading it out on the floor and pulling paperwork out of folders.

“Ok”, Jingles starts in explaining. “Of the stuff that Stinking gave me, only one collar was repairable and now functions. It will give a fairly good zap and runs on a nine volt battery. It will recharge for a secondary zap at around 70% initial strength in 5 seconds and about 50% for the third jolt in another 5 seconds. The testing that I did indicates that a full charge requires about 2 minutes connected to the battery. The zap is created by discharging a capacitor from a collapsing LC circuit.”

Whatever the fuck that meant????

He pulled out charts and calculations and I could tell he wanted to do an in-depth explanation. I had to nip that shit in the bud – right here and right now.

“Good, good,” I said. “I knew you’d make some headway. How about the remote control?”

“Right, Jasper. All of the remotes that Bronzy got me were repairable and I was able to get them all to work with a little dickering and a couple of component replacements. I went to the manufacturer’s website and got the transmit frequencies from the codes that were marked on them. They weren’t so revealing in how they tagged the frequency or applied the protocol for transmitting the commands to the receiver. I had to put the puppies on a digital scope, lock in the phase and then capture the signal when I pressed the buttons. I won’t get into the details,” he was definitely trying to keep from wetting his britches cuz he was getting so excited explaining this shit to us, “but anyway I got one system to work just fine. I had to spend a little money making a receiver/decoder that could trip the zapper. But it wasn’t bad.”

“Hang on to your receipts so that you can get reimbursed,” I said. “How about your time? Did you keep track of that? Hey everybody, keep track of your time and your expenses that you spend on this. I want it all on the up and up. If this pans out then we’ll consider all of this as accrued business expense being reimbursable when we get funding. Plus it can help provide the data for developing a budget, schedules, etc. If Rup thinks that there’s a lot of money to be made at this then I want us to do it right.”

That’s me, all business minded as opposed to Jingles being all tech’d out.

Jingles starts telling us how he ran a little test at home using the zapper. He said that he had wrapped it around his calf, over the top of his jeans, and had his son Dilbert control the remote. He said he just walked around in the basement and told Dilbert to zap him unannounced.

“This little sucker spasmed my calf and shot a jolt up into my hip area, I guess. I stumbled, while Dilbert started cracking up, and bounced off of the washing machine but didn’t completely fall. It worked pretty damn good, if I say so myself, even through my jeans.”

“Well, why the hell didn’t you try it around your neck like it’s designed to be used, you stupid dumb-ass?” Bronzy piped in.

Stinky added, “Yeah Jingles, what’s up with that? All your bench testing and shit and then you do a dry run on your calf? Sounds to me like some sort of wimp-ass test if you asked me.” Then he belched a wretchedly righteous burp. “Damn, you do brew some good beer though!”

“Look you guys. I was just trying to be a little precautionary. I didn’t know what the final effect would be. You didn’t want me to fry my brain or something. Shit, you guys wouldn’t be able to continue development without me. Besides, I bet none of you would even have volunteered to test it on yourselves, calf, hah, not to speak of even on your own fool-ass scrawny necks!”

“And Dilbert loved it. He laughed so hard he had to sit down on the floor to catch his breath. Then that little tike, that must have 100% plus of my DNA, said that I had to try it on him. Well I did, a couple of times, but I told him that he couldn’t ever tell his mom.”

The second period started up and Bronzy told us to shut up and watch the game. Seems as though he had a bit of money riding on the outcome.

A few minutes later while I’m beginning a long draw on my brew, Stinky yells, “Shit, Crosby’s gonna get a penalty for that!”

I look over my bottle and see Crosby all over his opponent but instead of a whistle he gets spun at the same time and is just torqued into the boards something ugly. Due to the nocuous effect it had I commented that it looked like one of Jingles’ late hits from back ten years ago or so.

Jingles of course defended himself saying those weren’t late hits, he was just applying what Biff taught him in Juniors. “Finish your check, take your man out!”

“Right Jingles. You’re always trying to put somebody in the hospital,” Bronzy piped in.

“I don’t care what you say, Jingles has always helped the team, playing the way he plays,” as Stinky defends Jingles. “You Wheats brothers each have your own special hockey skills that have added to our successes. Now I wonder what the fuck happened to Sid, play didn’t even stop. Those yack rappers said he was slow getting back to the bench. Shit there he is and looks like he’s in some kinda hurt.”

“Big deal”, Bronzy snipped. “My money’s riding on the Wings.”

I added, “Well I think he’s a great player. A hero for today and the great game of hockey. So I hope it’s nothing too serious.”

The game continued through the period and we didn’t see Crosby on the ice again until the third. And even then he came off in pain.

Jingles’ home brews ran out and we had now switched to the cheap commercial stuff that I buy at the market down in town. No-name, three-two. It tastes like beer and during the summer it sweats like beer. Didn’t really matter cuz Jingles’ home brew is probably on the upside of eight percent alcohol and three bottles each just about had us all knocked on our asses. Well, at least I was. You get used to three-two and I guess you just become a friggin light-weight. Ehh?

The second period ended and for the life of me I can’t remember what the score was. I mean, I know the Pens won 2 to 1. But for the life of me, I can’t tell you much else about the game from somewhere in the middle of the second period on. Just seemed like they shook hands afterwards really quickly. “Yeah, let’s get to the Cup!”

But I do remember that we talked about the zappers again and Jingles told us how it went when he zapped Dilbert.

Dilbert’s big into Legos and told his dad to zap him the first time while he was laying on the floor setting up some sort of battlefield. Zapped him and he spasmed and the Legos went flying everywhere. He got up to the couch and laughed hard telling Jingles to do it again. Told him to zap him while he was looking at a magazine on the couch but to try it around his waist this time instead of his calf.

Jingles said that Dilbert tried to act like he didn’t know it was coming but was giggling the whole time. When he hit the button on the remote, Dilbert arched his back and lifted off the couch about six or eight inches. Ripped the magazine in half and pissed his pants. Again he stated laughing and said to his dad to do it again.

Jingles was a little concerned, especially because of the uncontrolled urination, and decided that it was enough and reiterated to Dilbert to not tell his mom a thing.

We discussed a game plan and decided that we had lost a couple of weeks of schedule time and that we should try the zapper in a game environment at pickup the next night, Saturday. It was actually the continuation of the Nightmares’ off season practice schedule but was pretty much open Ice and a lot of those kids and the Outlaws come out to skate. Jingles decided that he’d wear the collar, as intended, around his neck and I’d sit in the stands with the remote and Stinky would videotape with the microphone on me doing narration of what’s happening on the ice.

To try to get Jingles really riled, after the teams were picked up for the evening skate, I talked to the guys on the opposing team. I explained to them that we were testing something that Jingles’ psychiatrist had prescribed and we really needed them to push him around, talk in his face, etc. and really rile him up. Since Jingles was gonna being playing defense I said the best bet was to park in the slot and then talk some shit. “Tell him he skates like a jackass and that he should stay off the ice – he’s just wasting some good ice time.”

That ought to get him all jacked up. He’s never been one that was slow to drop the gloves and talk the shit real good himself. This should work out real good if the zapper does as promised.

The skate was pretty good. The kids from the Nightmares looked really hot. The season had been good for them and they were playing with intensity. Jingles was getting beat pretty good in neutral ice during the start but later started backing up sooner and was giving them more ice but able to take the guys out pretty good in the slot. One long legged forward, Joshy, had taken my advice to heart and was regularly parked just outside the crease whenever they came into the zone. Jingles was working him pretty good – cross checking and putting his stick between his legs and shit like that.

I could see that Joshy was talking trash at him most of the time too.

It must have been about twenty minutes in or so when Jingles turned away from Joshy to watch a guy coming out of the corner when Joshy gave Jingles a shove from behind while hooking his left leg. Jingles went down and was up in flash back into Joshy’s face. Joshy shoved him away again and Jingles gloves went flying. Joshy’s fell to the ice like feathers in the wind but grabbed Jingles’ jersey before they hit the ice and was already letting go with a roundhouse. Jingles ducked back his head while swinging to Joshy’s gut with one hand and knocking his helmet off with the other.

Joshy is torpedoing on Jingles’ face with his rights. And Jingles is now getting in close applying his old wrestling moves now to stifle the punches. He drops a little bit and grabs Joshy with a bear hug – picking hip up off the ice.

Joshy is now two handing the back of Jingles’s helmet and neck but can’t dislodge the bucket.

I’m watching all this and talking into the microphone as Stinky is videotaping.

“Zoom in Paul! I’m going to zap him in just a sec!”

Everybody is letting them go – nobody is trying to break it up. I’ve got some open ice between us and them so I push the button on the remote.

Jingles lets out a retching sound like the combination of a cat’s growl and the howl of a yeti. A couple of Joshy’s teammates move in closer now and Jingles hasn’t dropped yet. I count out loud, “One, two, three, four, five,” and press the remote again. In the meantime Jingles’ helmet had been knocked off and one more guy had managed to grab his jersey and Jingles had spun around into the crease. I don’t know where the goalie had moved off to but the zap hit Jingles again. That same freakish scream echoed in the rink.

Jingles flinched by picking up Joshy all the way over his head and pitched him over the net like he was just a ten pound bag of potatoes. He growled some more and got in the other guys face and you could hear him scream, “You want some too?”

I can hear Stinky quietly saying “Oh fuck, oh muther fuck. Jingles is unglued. Oh fuck.”

I said to Stinky, “Did you get all that?”

“Yeah, yeah. You know Jasper, I don’t think this worked. Not one fucking bit. I think it just juiced Jingles up even more. I hope that kid is ok.”

In the mean time everybody backed away from Jingles and about then Bronzy jumped over the boards and was skating up to the mess telling Jingles to calm down.

It took a few moments and everything got back to normal. Joshy was ok and Jingles skated over to the gate and climbed up into the seats and sat down next to me. You could hear some of the guys on the ice saying that whatever the shrink had given Jingles it wasn’t strong enough.

“Jasper, I don’t think this works,” Jingles whispered to me in a raspy voice. “I felt two zaps pretty good. Did you try a third? All they did was make me madder and amped me up pretty good. I think we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board. Ehh?”

“No I didn’t try the third time. Things were pretty much over by then. Everybody backed away when you tossed him. How’d it feel? How are you feeling now?” I asked.

He whispered again, “It’s a pretty good jolt. Both times. But it just seemed to instantaneously pump me up with adrenaline. I went Hulk on that dude, Jasper. I mean hair-brained Hulk on him! I hope he’s ok. Yeah, and I feel pretty exhausted right now – kinda winded, but it’s coming back ok. Paul, I’ve got to see the video.”

Paul played it back on the camera’s little screen and Jingles just kept saying “Oh shit! Shit! What a mess.”

We let the guys finish their skate. Jingles didn’t think it would a good idea to go back out with them, though he was feeling ok, so he went to shower and changed.

After the skate we went over to the bar where Bronzy joined us.

“Shit!” Bronzy exclaimed as we sat down at a table. “Jingles you went absolutely berserk out there! Reminds me of the time when I was kid around Christmas time and Jasper picked me up and threw me into the junipers over at Mom and Dad’s. The zapper didn’t seem to stifle you at all. Did you feel it?”

“Oh yeah, I felt it alright. It just got me more pumped rather than debilitating. I think we’re going to have to rethink this thing. In an idle mode it probably does what we want but when you’re already juiced up and getting ready to dance it just seems to invigorate you even more.”

We pounded some more beers and closed the place. But before we left I said that I wanted everybody to think about this and come up with some more ideas. We’d meet again next Saturday afternoon. Jingles said he’d throw a barbeque so bring the families.

Well, as you can see – this is to be continued. It doesn’t seem to be ironed out yet. I hope that we can figure something out that works. Something that we can show to Rup within the month. It’d be nice to have something in “production” in time for next season.

Hope that all of you are walking with wood – I sure figure that Jingles is. But damn he’s always been a little crazier then the rest of us and I’ve got to give him credit for being the testie.

Later dudes and dudettes. Skate hard!

To be continued ….