words are all i have

A morning thought…

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Rachel Homan should be the automatic choice as Canada’s athlete of the year

Sometime in the next week, Canada’s top jock for 2017 will be identified as someone not named Rachel Homan.

And that’s a mistake. Also a shame.

Rachel Homan

I mean, no homebrew has dominated her or his sport this year like Homan. But, hey, she’s a curler and, based on 77 years of snubs, curlers need not apply as our country’s athlete of the year. Which is also a mistake and a shame.

Think about it. In no sport—not even hockey—have us hosers experienced greater global glory than curling. We’ve hurried hard to 52 gold medals (36 men, 16 women) at world championships and another five Olympic gold (three men, two women). That’s a lot of glitter. Like 57 carat worth of glitter.

By way of comparison, we’ve won 36 world puck crowns and 13 Olympic gold. Total: 49. In figure skating, we have 38 world and Olympic titles (men’s and women’s singles, pairs and ice dancing).

Yet not once since the Lou Marsh Trophy’s inception in 1936 has anyone from the hurry-hard crowd earned a salute as this country’s top jock. There’ve been figure skaters and synchronized swimmers, kayakers and bobsledders, harness racers and weightlifters, speed skaters and jockeys, wrestlers and rowers, auto racers and golfers. But never a curler, despite an unparalleled history of international success that, if you were to include our juniors, totals 86 world championships/Olympics gold.

Thus, were I a betting girl, I’d place a wager on baseball player Joey Votto getting the nod as the Lou Marsh winner this year, because the Cincinnati Reds batsman/first baseman put up some rather gaudy numbers in a team game largely defined by individual numbers that captivate and influence the people (read: mainstream sports media) whose task it is to choose our country’s Jock One.

If my guess is wrong and voters dismiss Votto, then surely the top jock will be Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby, based solely on their body of work during the first six months of the year. McDavid, of course, finished the 2016-17 National Hockey League season as the leading point collector and most valuable player, while Crosby put more pucks in the net than anyone else and captained his Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup title.

Other names have been mentioned for consideration. Like rapidly ascending tennis player Denis Shapovalov, who had an inspiring, one-month gush of success during the late summer but, ultimately, compiled a losing record and failed to win a tournament on the main circuit. There’s also the totally hugable Brooke Henderson, a delightful young woman who twice finished atop the leaderboard on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.

Olympics bound are, left to right, Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney and Lisa Weagle.

But Homan isn’t feeling the love. No one is, or has been, pumping her tires.

And that makes no sense, except that it could be the lords and ladies of the Fourth Estate still look upon curling as jockdom’s red-headed stepchild. They don’t see a legitimate sporting endeavor. They see a social gathering. They don’t see athletes. They see school teachers, accounts and sales reps enjoying a hobby. Or they see beer-swilling, pot-bellied practitioners of the Ed Werenich ilk. Seriously. We deliver our highest athletic hosanna to wrestlers, rowers, kayakers, harness racers and sync swimmers but never a curler who’s won world and Olympic championships? In 77 years?

That isn’t just a snub. It’s giving them the finger. Donald Trump gets more respect from the Little Rocket Man in Pyongyang.

Rachel Homan and her gal pals emerged from the Roar of the Rings on Sunday as our female curling reps at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, so she should be a no-brainer for the Lou Marsh Trophy.

Homan led her team to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, with a 12-2 record. She ran the table at the world championship, going 13-0. She won the season-ending Champions Cup on the Grand Slam of Curling circuit, finishing 6-1. Add to that her record at the just-concluded Olympic Trials in Ottawa, 9-1. Do the math. That’s 40-4. Against the best in the world. Who in sports does that? Serena Williams and Rachel Homan.

Make no mistake, Canada’s 2017 athlete of the year was curling in Ottawa last week…I just wonder if Lou Marsh voters were paying attention.

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Angela Lansbury: Stupid, She Spoke

At first blush, the inclination is to brush off Angela Lansbury’s victim-blaming as the harmless, nonsensical natterings of a doddering, old fool who can hide her own Easter eggs.

Angela Lansbury

I mean, hey, she’s 92 years old. So let’s cut the Murder, She Wrote star some slack, right?

But no. Lansbury didn’t say what she said because she’s 92 years old. Telling us that women “must sometimes take blame” for sexual assault and sexual harassment is not about the horse-and-buggy generation. It has nothing to do with the numbers on the award-winning actor’s birth certificate.

After all, didn’t fashion designer Donna Karan say much the same? Didn’t American gymnast Gabby Douglas?

Let’s compare…

Lansbury: “There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us—and this is where we are today. We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say, we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”

Donna Karan

Karan: “To see (sexual harassment) in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and how women are acting by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”

Douglas: “It is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”

So, don’t give Lansbury a free pass because of her birth certificate, not when a 69-year-old woman (Karan) and a 21-year-old woman (Douglas) are singing from the same sheet in the song book.

Stupid knows no age, and everything this menage-a-victim-blamers said was stupid. Also dangerous.

(It doesn’t matter that both Karan and Douglas were quick to beat a hasty retreat from their words. Karan’s comments were “taken out of context” and “not representative of how I feel and what I believe” and she was sleep deprived, don’t you know? Douglas’s comments, meanwhile, were “misunderstood.” Spare us the empty rhetoric, ladies. Once you’ve blamed sexual assault/harassment on the victim because she wore five-inch stilettos instead of flats, you don’t get a do-over.)

I know what it’s like to be sexually harassed and assaulted. I’ve been groped. In public. I’ve been subjected to lewd, crude comments about my body parts, in public and on social media. I’ve been hounded on the street. I’ve been stalked. I’ve been forcibly detained and confined.

I wish I could say that makes me an exception, but it doesn’t.

Cate Blanchett

I haven’t asked all of my female friends, but I would submit that each of them has had similar experiences. Probably worse. And much, if not all of it, is likely locked away in a vault they keep hidden behind closed doors in the deepest recesses of their minds.

That’s why women who read and hear about the recent avalanche of sexual harassment/assault accusations in Hollywood and politics nod knowingly. Been there, had that done to them. They had their own Bill Cosby. Their own Jian Ghomeshi. Their own Harvey Weinstein.

If they didn’t put out for a work supervisor, chances are they lost a promotion. Or their job. If, out of paralyzing fear, they involuntarily surrendered to the advances of a sick, predatory father or another male relative, they were intimidated into silence with threats of dire consequences. Like abandonment or death.

The horror stories are plentiful, endless and ongoing. That’s why Angela Lansbury’s remarks are shameful. I don’t care how wrinkled she is. Shameful is shameful is shameful by any age. And whether we wear low-cut tops or button ourselves up to the neck, sexual assault/harassment isn’t our fault.

It’s as actor Cate Blanchett put it at the InStyle Awards in October: “We all like looking sexy but it doesn’t mean we want to fuck you.”

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Harrison Browne is sending a mixed message by playing women’s hockey

patti dawn swansson

I must confess that I’m conflicted about Harrison Browne.

I’m delighted for him, because he’s begun to live his truth, but I’m mildly disappointed in him because he’s sending mixed signals by living only a portion of his truth.

For those of you who haven’t been formally introduced, Browne is a transgender male on the roster of the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League. Yes, he plays with the girls. Still. That’s why the question he most oft fields is this: If you identify as a man, why are you still playing women’s hockey?

“It’s either I continue playing a sport that I love, and be a professional athlete, or I start living as myself to everyone and start being who I am on the inside reflecting in the mirror,” he explains in the well-done TSN feature The Shift. “Both of those outcomes are so enticing to me, but I have to choose.”

He has chosen women’s hockey over testosterone hormone therapy and surgery.

“Hockey is everything to me,” he says.

“I feel that my message is more important now than ever and I feel that it’s more powerful as an active athlete. You might be thinking, ‘Will he ever physically transition?’ Yes, but not until I’m done spreading as much awareness as I can as an active athlete and as a pre-transition trans man.”

Therein lies my conflict.

Exactly what message is Browne sending about transgender individuals? That we’re confused? That we’re so messed up mentally that we don’t know who we are? I mean, he’s asking us to call him Harrison, not his birth name (or, to use a transgender term, his ‘dead’ name) Hailey, and he’s asking us to use male pronouns when referencing him. I get that. It’s hugely significant. It’s vital to most transgender people.

Harrison Browne

Two years ago, for example, one of my dearest friends asked if she could call me by my ‘dead’ name.

“Would you take offence?” she asked. “In no way would it be disrespectful.”

“Yes,” I told her, “I’m afraid I would be very offended. I would also be hurt.”

I haven’t seen or heard from her since, but losing friends and/or family is not uncommon for transgender individuals. It’s a price we sometimes pay, like it or not.

Anyway, Harrison is Harrison, and to call him anything else is a rejection, offensive and, depending on the person, the circumstance and the intent, it can be cruel and crippling. Trust me. Been there, had it done to me. It can hurt like hell.

Having said that, I have difficulty with Browne’s message because, by playing in the NWHL, he’s contradicting himself. He presents as a 24-year-old man (he looks like a teenage boy) in his everyday, walkabout life, but he chooses not to begin his physical transition. Taking testosterone would render him ineligible to play women’s hockey. Such an inconvenience. So, here’s how some might read his message: He wants to have it both ways.

Which invites criticism, cynicism and confusion from beyond the transgender sphere.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Browne says once he takes his first shot of testosterone, hockey, which is his “everything,” is over. Well, no, it isn’t. Women’s hockey would be over, but there’s this thing called men’s leagues. I know, I know. He’s only 5-feet-4 and 120 pounds. So what? I was 5-feet-5, 128 pounds when I played in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and I was only an inch taller and still 128 pounds when I participated in the Winnipeg Jets’ inaugural National Hockey League rookie camp. I was a sprig.

But, as I said, that’s the devil’s advocate in me saying those things.

I will emphasize this: There is no road map for transitioning. We all do it on our own clock and on our own terms. The last thing Harrison needs is for dozens of people, myself included, telling him how and when it’s supposed to be done. That’s why I’d never suggest that Browne is betraying some perceived transgender cause. It’s his call.

Still, he’s sending a very mixed message, and I’m not convinced that’s helpful in our cynical and skeptical world.

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Kaep is Citizen One, Blake Shelton is the Sexy One, but will Donald Trump be Time magazine’s No. 1 or will it be fake news?

So, GQ has decided that none of the United States’ 323.1 million citizens has better cred than Colin Kaepernick, thus he’s the magazine’s Citizen of the Year.

Well, okay. Let’s all take a knee. Or not.

I mean, GQ’s anointing an out-of-work football player as America’s preeminent person has earned nods of approval yet, at the same time, the salute has tweaked some beaks, including that of a lass named Britt McHenry, an out-of-work Sideline Barbie who harbors the misguided notion that we should care what she thinks.

A joke,” was the former ESPN gab girl’s rebuke of Kaepernick as Citizen One.

That barb, in turn, inspired author and New York Daily News columnist Linda Stasi to describe McHenry as the “whitest woman on the planet” and, upon further review, the ruling on the field is confirmed—Britt McHenry is Caucasian.

All of which tells me that we have officially arrived at the silly season, during which various publications laud notables and bestow upon them high hosannas, earned or otherwise.

GQ declared Kaepernick to be Citizen One due to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s kneeling stance against social/racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S., writing, “His determined stand puts him in rare company in sports history: Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson—athletes who risked everything to make a difference.”

Yes, I agree, comparing Kaepernick to Ali and Robinson rates extremely high on the silliness scale.

Ah, but silliness knows no limits and, for confirmation, we need only peek at the cover of People magazine where, staring back at us with a goofy grin, is Gwen Stefani’s main squeeze and buffoon-in-residence on The Voice, Blake Shelton.

The cowboy crooner, whose record sales far outstrip his talent, is People’s choice as the Sexiest Man Alive (we can assume that Miranda Lambert didn’t get a vote). Imagine that, approximately 3.8 billion men on earth and not one of them has a higher sexy quotient than a hillbilly who walks and talks like he got lost on his way to the set of Hee Haw. If Shelton was a character from the old Andy Griffith Show, he’d be Goober or Gomer, the witless gas jockeys. Or he’d be part of the banjo-pluckin’, jug-blowin’ Darling clan from back in the hills. Every time I hear him speak, I want to order a jug of moonshine. But, hey, apparently that’s sexy. Who knew?

Blake Shelton would fit in nicely with this bunch—the Darlings.

When people think of Blake, they don’t focus in on abs or a pretty face or what not, like a typical sexy man, but what really wins you over with him is about how down to earth and funny and how sweet he is,” says People staff scribe Melody Chiu. “He’s really exactly what you see on TV. He’s so relatable and he’s so friendly. He just really wants people to love him.”

Aw shucks and gosh darn. If our Blake ain’t just the sweetest boy you ever did see. Doesn’t he just want to make you reach out and pinch his dimples and have his babies, girls?

So what does Shelton think of his coronation as Sexiest Man Alive?

I can’t wait to shove it up Adam’s ass,” he says.

Oh, my. And, to think, sexy Blake kisses Gwen Stefani with that mouth.

At any rate, we now await the Time magazine Person of the Year declaration and, depending on which bookie you go to for your betting odds, the latest lines list Donald Trump, Kaepernick and French President Emmanuel Macron as the favorites. Should U.S. President Trump get the nod, he’ll be the first repeat winner since former White House crook-in-residence Richard Nixon in 1971 and ’72.

If either Kaepernick of President Macron win, it’s fake news.