Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

The Plastic Podcast

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Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.

Our obligatory movie-related content, but Slap Shot and Paul Newman deserve separate posts of their own
*Well not exactly. Four NHL teams actually opened their season this past weekend with games in Europe. It was a publicity stunt designed to get people talking about hockey. Did it get you talking about hockey? Didn’t think so. — JRP

The National Hockey League season kicks off tonight*. For most people, that “news” elicits something between a shrug of the shoulders and a furrowed brow. Hockey in the second week of October? Isn’t football still on? At least people aren’t asking whether hockey players are still on strike.

I’ve been a hockey fan as long as I can remember. I joke with friends that growing up white and lower class in Michigan requires that you be a Detroit Red Wings fan, but I’m only half-joking. My childhood years coincided with the worst stretch in Red Wings history. In the first 16 years of my life, they only made the playoffs twice. And this was in a league where 16 out of 21 teams made the playoffs. Yeah, not good. Yet, still I rooted and hoped, believing as all true believers do that success was just around the corner, that my team would eventually shed the “Dead Things” nickname.

Eventually, they did, in large part because of two people: Mike Illitch, the owner who bought the team in 1982 and has run the organization with dignity ever since; and Steve Yzerman, who was drafted in 1983 and quickly became The Captain. I won’t bore you with my man-crush for Yzerman (and I am not alone, let me assure you). But I’m not embarrassed to say that I cried the day two years ago I heard Yzerman was retiring.

Nowadays, rooting for the Red Wings is like rooting for the New York Yankees. But like many hockey fans, my love of the game goes beyond just a connection with my boyhood team. I even enjoy cheering for my adopted hometown Blackhawks, though not when they’re playing Detroit, obviously.

I think I can trace my love of hockey to watching Hockey Night in Canada with my family. You haven’t heard a crowd roar till you’ve heard Montreal score a goal at the old Forum. A staple of Saturday nights at my dad’s house was watching those games on CBC. I can still remember Guy Lafleur rushing down the wing. That was enough to send a chill down my spine when the Canadiens were playing the Wings.

In between hockey periods, my dad, brother, and I would play whatever weird game we’d just invented. Except when Don Cherry came on. You didn’t want to miss the “Sharp-Dressed Man” rant about fighting and European players (Cherry has always been pro on the former, con on the latter). By the way, almost all true hockey lovers are fans of fighting on the rink. One day, I’ll write a long post on the subject, railing against all the milquetoasts who think it should be curtailed, but for now I’ll just mention the old saw that nobody sits down when a hockey fight breaks out.

Whenever I talk to people about what a great sport hockey is, their inevitable first response is that they don’t understand the game, that it’s hard to follow the puck. And that’s true to a point. My response, though, is that it’s hard to follow a football, too, but once you’ve watched several football games you learn how to follow the action based on how the players are moving. It’s the same in hockey. To follow the puck, you just have to watch the players, and soon you’ll be jumping out of your seat as you watch the puck clank off the post (one of the greatest sounds in sport). And hockey combines the toughness of football with the fluid grace of basketball and the speed of racing.

Not that I’m expecting to convert any Plastic readers, but don’t be surprised if I throw out an occasional hockey post or bore you with the triumphs of my fantasy hockey team (this year, the Severed Heads are going for our third straight Milhouse van Houten trophy). And if you feel like sharing any of your favorite hockey stories, well the comments section is your friend. I’d love to hear ‘em.

The puck drops tonight! Woo hoo!

5 Responses to “Hockey Puck-Drop”

  1. Mike Stemle says:

    Frankly, I'm shocked on two rather major fronts. J. Robert, this post has changed my vocabulary and expanded my understanding of you...

    I've never heard the term "milquetoast" before, but now I know a milquetoast to be "a person who is timid or submissive." What a colorful word, perhaps I'm exposing my uncultured or otherwise ignorant side (more than usual) but that's just a fun little noun which I've never heard of before.

    The other thing this post has changed is that I never would have thought of you as one who would name their fantasy team "the Severed Heads." I never thought that I knew you well enough to guess your fantasy hockey team's name, but that choice of name just tickles. I guess you can't really be a hockey fan without being at least moderately amused by senseless violence... I suppose I'm just impressed.

    By the way, I invite you to come downstate and join me for a UIUC hockey match where the Fighting Illini engage in some lively hockey, and the entire student body in attendance joins in with some moderate-to-severe verbal abuse of the opponents. While they certainly do not permit alcohol at sporting events, I do believe the convention is to come pre-drunk... or at least to come prepared to shout obscenities and phrases such as "it's all your fault" at opposing goalies when the Fighting Illini get the puck in the net.

  2. Ha! I wondered if I should include my team name, since it's a bit lurid. I even woke up this morning and decided to delete it, I but I guess I'll leave it now. :)

    My original fantasy team name was the Skrapheap (Parks spelled backwards). But my brother and I joined forces a few years ago and needed to come up with a name we both liked. That's a bit like choosing your child's name, so we went around and around. We finally settled on Severed Heads, which is a reference to a long-standing and very funny inside joke in our fantasy league. Explaining the joke would ruin it, so I won't, but it's nowhere near as violent as it sounds. But I like that phrase "being moderately amused by senseless violence," even if I'm not sure it really applies to me.

    And, yes, I do need to get downstate and see you guys. Whether that involves college hockey, we'll have to see.

  3. Bob Turnbull says:

    "Isn’t football still on?"

    Hell, BASEBALL is still on!

    I have to admit, I've fallen out of very much hockey viewing over the past 5 years or so (or any sports for that matter). But it's posts like this that make me think I should get back into the whole day to day grind of the season...

    Like you I had my hometown team (the Habs!) and now my adopted team (the Leafs - which honestly don't inspire much excitement these days). The Habs will always be number one with me. Of course, I grew up as my team won 4 Cups at the end of the Seventies, so I have very vivid memories of Lafleur flying down the side of the rink with his hair fluttering behind him. Peter Mahovlich was always a fave, but damn what a team that was - losing only 8 games during one of those seasons.

    I didn't attend that many games at the old Forum, but enough to agree with you about your comment about the roar when the Habs scored. It wasn't the most deafening cheer, but probably one of the most passionate. And just the look of the old Forum - those lit up crossing escalators viewed from outside was just a beautiful site (of course I have great memories of the concerts I saw there too).

    I'm mystified by other sports fans that don't get hockey - as you said, it's not hard to follow if you watch the players. And I can't think of another sport that provided so much white-knuckle tension and jump out of your seat moments. Dammit man, you're gonna make me start watching again...I don't have time to get sucked into a whole hockey season! I have movies to watch! B-)

    Oh, and Stevie Y is one of my all time favourite players too. One of the classiest athletes ever.

  4. Mike Stemle says:

    Well, I suppose I'll go ahead and be honest with everybody, I do enjoy mild senseless violence in appropriate venues (e.g. hockey, contact sports, cartoons, sketch comedy, blooper reels, funny video shows, politics [ just kidding ]). Matter of fact, I love it. I'm usually an anti-violence guy, I don't like wars, real fighting, I don't even like shows like punked where sometimes folks jump others in feeble attempts at comedy.

    But when nobody's really getting hurt, or when it's not on purpose, or when it's willing participants, I can't get enough. Illini hockey is a great outlet for me on that front, as are Warner Bros. cartoons and other contact sports such as football and rugby. Maybe I'm a hypocrite, but what fun is there in consistency?

    I'd be delighted to hear from you about a possible visit, I'd love to introduce you to my son, my dog, and show you my house and my neighborhood. Give me a call some time and we can talk about it.

  5. Bob, I agree that the regular season can be a grind. That's why I'm in a fantasy league. Then almost any game can be exciting. Of course, that eats up even more time, so that might not be a solution.

    I am envious, though, that you got to see some games at the old Forum. That and the old Chicago Stadium are the two places I wish I could've gone to. Apparently Chicago Stadium was a great old barn could be positively deafening.

    And, Mike, I agree that violence in the appropriate venue can be an important alternative for our violence-obsessed culture. The question is how influential those venues (video games, sports, etc.) are in creating violence in the larger culture. I know that's the standard line against violence in entertainment. I find myself torn.

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