Friday, March 05, 2004

A Canadian Story

My weekday drive to work has a structure. A structure is needed as I am driving 70 mph after being in bed, snoring to my nose's delight, just 20 minutes earlier. Without the dependable boredom of a Monday to Friday morning routine, I may end up in Philly, which is 180 degrees from where I should be. The ever-loving wife gathers herself out of bed 10 minutes before me and brews the special Joe. I take it out of the house at 6:55 am in its aluminum bullet-shaped container, along with my daughter. My coffee sits in my Camry cup receptacle. I drop off my daughter at school, whip a quick "U"-ey on the street and head south to my place of employment. The radio is usually on, unless a CD has come into my life that requires an immediate audience that morning.

In the morning, NPR is just too depressing. Bob Edwards seems to be a nice enough guy, but the drone of his voice lends a heaviness even to the lightest of stories.

I still think he hasn't gotten over the death of Red Barber, a fellow Kentuckian, who called in almost every Friday to "Morning Edition". Or maybe being from Kentucky, Mr. Edwards just has the natural mournfulness of the hollows. Whatever the reason, I can't take it in the morning, even with scalding coffee to burn away his ennui. On the retreat back home @ 5:00, I'll tune in "All Things Considered" or "The World" to hear what terrible things have happened during the work day that I had the good fortune to have missed.

But in the morning, I tend to listen to a Philly sports talk station, 610 WIP. Once in a while, sports is discussed, and then usually only in the rabid possessed tones that a Philly sports person is capable of. Most times, however, the conversations tend toward politics, religion, and money...the most incendiary of topics and the ones that draw in the most calls.

One of the morning show's hosts', Al Morganti, take on "The Passion of the Christ" was a gem, summarizing the attitude of a lot of Catholic grammar school-nuns-Stations of the Cross-religion drumming experience-marching for Jesus traumas into this exchange with co-host Angelo Cataldi.
Angelo: "Going to see the movie?"
Al: "No."
Angelo: "Why?"
Al: "Why deliberately and purposefully bring up any connection to unpleasant experiences? I've done the Stations of the Cross (in my grammar school in Rhode Island) until my knees were bleeding. I can empathize with the pain; I don't need to see it as done by someone who has a questionable grip on reality along with a scattershot aim on the facts."

Most times, it's not this serious. Sometimes, Keith Jones, ex-hockey Superstar, shows up. Being Canadian, the tone of the show changes tending toward understatement, one of Canada's main exports. Having gone to college North of the Border, I was pretty familiar with a lot of Canadian expressions. "Bite my shorts" is still my all-time favorite for expressing frustration and angst without resorting to cursing or mentioning of body parts. In today's lesson on Canadianisms, Mr. Jones came up with one that I was not acquainted with, "Go out there and get a job". His introduction of this phrase is timely in its six-degrees-of-seperation relationship with Comcast & Disney & Eisner.
Here's his story.

When he was not an ex-hockey Superstar, he was icing himself down after one particular game. This involved being in a whirpool for a while and then sitting in a low chair with icebags taped to his knees and his waist. He was in the late stages of his career, when most of his body was hurting after each game. As anyone who has been through a whirlpool treatment knows, your body is agitated and pounded with jet streams of water. A "bubble" or two will build up in your stomach and intestines. Sometimes these bubbles can be released when you're in the whirlpool and they are not noticed, as all of the water in the tub is roiling about. Sometimes, the release can't be made until you're out of the tub and stumbling about.

Well, on this evening, Mr. Jones had had a particularly bad night of it on the ice and then in the tub. As he hobbled back to the dressing room, the "bubble" was sizable. So, he passed the "bubble" out, while muttering, "Go out there and get a job. As he did so, out of the corner of his eye he saw that there had been someone who was following closely behind.

He dressed himself and went back to the training room to gab about additional treatments. In the room with the trainer was the fellow who had been walking behind him when he "put out a ten gun salute". The trainer introduced him to Keith as,"Hey, you know Brian Roberts , CEO of Comcast (which owns, among other things, the Flyers and the Sixers)??!?". To which Mr. Jones responded, "Hey Brian, how's it going? I'm Chris Gratton". Less than a week later, Gratton was traded from the Flyers to Tampa Bay. Keith Jones stayed with the team until he retired the following year.

Lessons to take from this? Michael Eisner should pass no ill wind in Brian Roberts' direction or the poor voting results he had this past week in Philly at the Disney stockholder's meeting will pale in comparison with the results of his body airings. However, if Mr. Eisner unexpectantly has a Fast Repetitive Tick, he has some options available to him.

1) He can introduce himself to Mr. Roberts as Mickey Mouse. Poor Mickey will soon be looking for cheese elsewhere.

2) He can convince Mr. Roberts that he actually communicating with him...and he has the Science of Tooting on his side.

But then again, Mr Roberts will also have an option. He may remember that downwind walk he had behind Keith Jones and simply say to Mr. Eisner, "Go out there and get a job.

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