Notes On (Training) “Camp”

With Apologies To Susan Sontag

Oh sure, we know how it is. Just because you’ve been sitting around playing (and losing) NHL 13 with some smart-mouth punk in Winnipeg, you think you’re ready and in shape for the 2013 hockey season. Truth is: you’re not. None of us are.

"Is party now!"

“Is party now!”

Since being spurned last year by the owners and players, we now all find ourselves suddenly, gleefully running back to them with open arms and big hopes, eager to erase the hurt and pain like the battered spouses we are. So forgive me for noting this one time that nothing has really changed, and before you know it, we’re all gonna be in the same dysfunction all over again: same old bad trades (Sasha) and bum calls, same stupidy stinky Devils, same arguing about salary caps, same incoherent Bryzgalov tweets – the whole megillah.

The NHL is set to return Sunday, just in time for Barack Obama’s inauguration giving him a second term as President and a second chance to completely ignore hockey yet again by failing to even once drive the 10 measly blocks from the White House to the Verizon Center and check out a Caps game from Ted’s lux box I mean you could at least get some Dippin’ Dots to go for Heaven’s sakes MEAN FACE. But I digress.

Joan knows camp.

Joan knows camp.

The point is that we, all of us, need our chops back if we’re going to be ready for this abbreviated season, and soon. The players, who we hope have not become like the MLB walruses of yore, lumbering about Spring training 40 years ago; the fans, who must immediately begin brushing up on their taunting and victory bro-handslaps; and especially we humble and demure bloggers.

Yes, while it may seem effortless for us LGBT types to be amusing and catty and dazzlingly insightful all at once, it’s really the result of hard work and training. Do you think snark just writes itself? No, it does not, people. It takes lots of sweaty practice and gin to sledge away at someone and still retain a puckish charm.

So that’s why we’re announcing, beginning immediately, the PuckBuddys Training Camp (heh heh.) Think of it as something like a gay blogging hockey combine, where we do the writer’s equivalent of sprints and vertical leaps and timed drills and all that but look much, much worse than when the hockey players are doing it.

Participation is mandatory for the entire PB’s team, and because it would do you good (it couldn’t hurt) we’re inviting everyone else – looking at you RMNB – to join in, whether you feel you need it or not. Shirts off, and do try and keep up.


Wit Wind Sprints: We begin with the basics: two-minute compulsories on any topic. Start easy; Don Cherry for example. Something to inspire barbs, but nothing that leaves you whipped. Think Tim Gunn at a “Dress Barn” – appalled but not too acidic. Advanced tip: take a hit off that Bloody Mary and watch a few minutes of Paul Lynde on “Hollywood Squares.” Now you’re ready for…

Actually Martin Brodeur

Actually Martin Brodeur

Venom Vaults: Time to add a little Gore Vidal bile to that regimen. For example, we all know that Martin Brodeur is nearly as old as John McCain. Not too many laughs there. Try: “Brodeur remembers when dirt was invented.” Closer. Tim Thomas is a fat plug, sure. What would Quentin Crisp say? “Congratulations on your pregnancy” works. You’re gonna have to work harder to fling your bad caustic self over that wall. Advanced tip: work in an obtuse cultural reference (say, Martha Graham or Downton Abbey) and something low (“fart” generally works) to really land that jab.

Equilibrium Test: The last few months have been dizzy-making, so we need to regain our feet. Put on some old footage of your team in 10X fast-forward, crank some Lady (stick tap to @adamkno), then get ready.

Puckbuddys combine, actual footage.

PuckBuddys drills, actual footage.

Leap up and shout when they scoar, then shake your fist and yell when they pan the owner’s box. Gurgle with anger and roll onto the floor when some goon scores a bad hit on one of your guys and ninja-kick the air when the zebras blow a call. Scream at your TV, arms flailing madly, while listening to Mike Milbury’s inane prattle. Basically, prepare for the rush of emotions you’ll soon be feeling by making yourself as nauseous and flushed as possible. Advanced tip: quickly down a beer and raw egg then do a fast minute of jumping jacks. We promise immediate results.

It's funny because it's sad.

It’s funny because it’s sad.

Groin Lunges: Granted, this isn’t really for everyone. Or anyone, perhaps; like we’re doctors or something? But players around the league, and the Capitals in particular, have had a bad groinage run of late, so to speak. First there was Greenie’s glass groin, which is supposedly all better but who knows, then Tomáš Vokoun, last seen hobbling around the landfill we call Pittsburgh, and now human exemplar Brooks Laich have all been so afflicted. It makes us wonder what exactly is going on in practice, all these groin pulls…yes, makes us wonder…what’s going on…

Hmm? Was I saying something? Moving on:

Search "hockey blowhard" and you get this.

Search “hockey blowhard” and you get this.

Standing Lingo Jump: Do you know your dipsy doo from your shnedberdoink? Remember the difference between a Snow Angel*  and a snow snake? Trolley tracks and a Spinorama? If so, you have wasted your life. Otherwise, we suggest a YouTube regimen of Doc Emrick, Craig Laughlin and Mike Lange clips. Advanced training tip: no more than two minutes of Rick Jeanneret daily. Otherwise it’s a Kabong to the Coconut for you.

One Last Thing.

Of course, we’re only just beginning. Complete camp training takes years to complete. Hell, just look at John Waters (Hooo!) But we don’t have years, or even months; it all starts this week. Too bad, as we’ll now only likely be getting back into shape by the time this hatchet-job season ends. Haha, like I’m ever getting back into shape again.

What’s important is that, while we actually have something like a season again, we’re all still a little bruised from what happened – or didn’t happen – this fall. It’s not so much our place to forgive, but we definitely aren’t going to forget.

Even the dog is ambivalent about the NHL.

Even the dog is ambivalent about the NHL.

We’ll still joke and post pics of hot players that make you uncomfortable and generally jape around like chimps because we love the sport, we love the teams, we love our communities and we love that everyone agrees Jaromir Jagr is still a jerk.

We can’t wait to see Eric the Fehr back at Verizon and watch Locker, Joe B. and Smokin’ Al mix it up. We’re prowling for tickets – you don’t want to know what we’ll do for tickets – and already are counting the ways Tampa Bay blows.

7prep0108.jpgBut we won’t be spending like drunken Secret Service officers on the NHL merch for a while. We’re gonna cheer, but feel a little less cheery about the league. At Verizon this season, we’ll proudly sport a different set of red-and-white sweaters, those of Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights, rather than the Capitals. The courage of Jack Jablonski heartens us considerably more than Donald Fehr or Gary Bettman.

We’ll be distrustful of the NHL for a while, ambivalent to the sordid business practices, likely in a passive-aggressive manner. It’s going to be a short season of dizzying highs, terrifying lows, and no time to recover from either. And to no one’s surprise, we’re still suffering from a bit of post-Sasha ennui. Our emotions are already spinning, almost enough to make even Martha Graham want to puke. Drop the puck already.

*In our book, there is only one Angel on the ice. We call him Nicky 19.

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