Many years ago, I was instructed by one of my first newspaper gurus that a headline should sell, tell and fit. That is, it should sell the story, tell the story and fit the layout.
It was with this in mind that I read a head/drop head in the Winnipeg Free Press sports section on Monday:
Jets better than they look
At least…well…unless they really aren’t
Huh? Say what? What are they telling us here? That the 1-4 Winnipeg Jets really don’t suck unless the 1-4 Winnipeg Jets really do suck? What a dumb headline, right? Nope. Kudos to the editor who wrote it, because it matched the criteria—it fit the layout, it sold me on the article because I now absolutely had to read it, and it surely summed up the accompanying piece which, in this case, was most unfortunate.
We’re talking about a Gary (La La) Lawless essay, an 846-word lump of nothing from a scribe who, as the Freep’s main sports columnist, is expected to deliver opinion. Insightful opinion. Knowledgeable opinion. Opinion with a biting edge. Opinion with wit. Opinion with humor. Opinion that will stir discourse in the pub. So, with the Jets in full free-fall to start the National Hockey League season and the rabble looking for answers, what did our intrepid, all-seeing, all-knowing word-pusher deliver?
“The Jets aren’t this bad. Unless they really are.”
I see. In other news, the sky is blue. Unless it isn’t. Brad Pitt is a babe. Unless he isn’t. A pint of Blue is cold. Unless it isn’t. Tiger Woods likes blonde women. Unless he doesn’t. Kevin (The Possum) Cheveldayoff is a hockey genius. Unless he isn’t.
Well, now that we have all that sorted out…
Actually, I think I know what Lawless is up to here. If he rides the fence, there’ll be no need to later perform his customary flip-flop on the issue. You know, like how he flip-flopped on the matter of roster adjustments for the Jets. In June, he used his 800-word allotment to crusade for a major trade. This month, he insisted status quo must be maintained. In June, he wrote, “It doesn’t smell like crap in Bomberland anymore,” and more recently he wrote about “the stink of failure” still filling the air in Bomberland.
I’ve noticed that La La often writes about bad odors. I suppose that’s understandable, though, because his main subject matter is either a bottom-feeding hockey team or a bottom-feeding football team.
Unfortunately, he has chosen to write down to their level and that really does stink…unless it doesn’t.
I’m uncertain who piddled in Rosie DiManno’s Corn Flakes, but the Toronto Star columnist, who makes cameo appearances on the sports pages, went off her nut recently.
It seems Rosie takes a dim view of patrons who hurl hockey sweaters on to the ice in an expression of displeasure for what they have been witnessing. There have been two such incidents at Toronto Maple Leafs matches this season, the first of which inspired DiManno to launch into a tantrum of epic loft.
She begins by evoking the memory of former Leafs head coach Pat Burns, for whom Rosie harbors an affection that flies dangerously close to the idol worship orbit. She mentions how the first commandment in the Gospel According to Burns was “Thy sweater shalt not touch the ground. Never. Ever. Or else.” Thus, when a customer at the Air Canada Centre lobbed his Leafs linen to the ice during a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rosie stomped her feet and did the diva thing.
She labeled the guy a “moron who pulled a little hissy-fit.” He was a “drama queen” who “got ‘look-at-me!’ theatrical.” He was an “exhibitionist idiot.” And others like him were “stinky scuz in the stands.”
She wondered, “Whatever happened to just booing?”
Yo, Rosie! Someone surely had a hissy-fit, but it wasn’t the guy who tossed the sweater. So boooooo to you.
This doesn’t belong in the Fish Wrap file, but I couldn’t pass it up.
During the second intermission of City’s telecast of the Jets-Calgary Flames joust on Sunday night, host George Stromboloupoulouplouplouploupos made reference to our girl Jennifer Jones, the Olympic curling champion, telling viewers that she plays out of the “Vittle” curling club in Winnipeg.
A “vittle” is something Granny Clamplett used to serve Jed and Jethro for supper. It’s the St. Vital Curling Club. That would be Vital as in Va-tell.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg hockey and the Jets for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of hockey knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old, comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she doesn’t know when to quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for literary contributions to the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C.