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It’s So Hard to Say Good-bye

Before what could be Teemu Selanne’s final NHL game, Bake Shop readers ask: Where are all of his rocking chairs? Plus, questions on summer TV, wedding planning, and Sunday Demons in this month’s mailbag.

Last year, most MLB teams gave Mariano Rivera parting gifts on his farewell tour, and it seems like more of the same is in store for Derek Jeter this season. Is this something that you think would ever happen in the NHL? If it didn’t really happen for Teemu’s final season, can you see it happening for any other current player?
—Liz L.

First of all, the full list of items given to Mariano Rivera will make you laugh, it’ll make you cringe, it’ll make you wonder what on earth a guy does with not one but two rocking chairs made out of broken bats. (He’s also got a glut of bad paintings of himself now, and if he ever needs to ride a beach cruiser while holding a surfboard he’s set.) Who gives worse gifts: baseball teams or the Greek army? As for Jeter, we can only hope that the parting gifts he receives are as generous as the ones he allegedly doles out himself.

One reason Teemu Selanne1 probably hasn’t gotten more of a farewell tour is because he’s such a retirement tease. The man has been retiring since 2006! But even Wayne Gretzky kept it low-key in his day, though that was specifically by design. (The paragraph near the end here about the Ottawa Senators all coming over to shake his hand is pretty great.)

I think in the near future, if there were to be any NHL player who might get a real spotlight in his final season, it would be Jaromir Jagr. Not only is he a hockey icon who has been in the league for more than two decades, he’s also spent time with so many organizations, he could build a farewell tour around his former clubs alone. I hope something happens, just to be able to see someone tee up Jagr with “Could you just talk about what it means to you that the Nashville Predators gave you this rhinestone-studded guitar?” At Jagr’s current pace, you can expect this conversation to take place sometime in the 2020s.

Which YouTube video of JD & The Straight Shot best represents your sadness about Steve Kerr and the Knicks right now?
—Sarah L.

If you saw Knicks fans burst into maniacal, desperate laughter this week, you may have wondered what the big deal was about Steve Kerr anyway. The man’s never coached an NBA game, after all. But it’s not about Steve Kerr, not really, in the same way it was never about Timofey Mozgov three years ago. It’s just about this being one more silly incompetence, one more public reminder that the Knicks have a fraction of the cachet and influence that they’ve always thought they did.

Phil Jackson was supposed to be a personification of that lofty self-image, but instead, he’s become a reflection of the reality. Knicks fans can’t even really delude themselves into thinking that he’ll make a Willis Reed–style last-minute appearance to just coach the team himself, because his health issues have been so well documented. He was hired to be a fixer, and now he’s just a guy trying to parse the universe of coaches like any other front-office sap.

Which is all to say that, first of all, this is a cruel assignment, and second of all, I’m torn between “Fall From Grace,” “Can’t Make Tears,” and “What Do We Do Now.” As if things weren’t bad enough, now he has to troll us with these titles.

By the way, was Dolan’s involvement in, of all things, the August: Osage County film adaptation soundtrack something that’s been discussed? Because it’s news to me, but it’s always fun to see “Written by James Dolan” on a list that also includes hits like “Push It” and “Sanford and Son Theme.” Reddit confirms this news:

Slightly off-topic but I recently spit out a mouthful of Coke while watching August: Osage County

About 5 mins into the movie we see Julia Roberts lying on a bed with the radio on listening to generic blues music. Right before she yells at her daughter, you can hear the DJ say something along the lines of “and that was JD and the Straight Shot with …” The DJ gets drowned out by dialogue after that.

August: Osage County was produced by the Weinstein Company and I remember hearing that Harvey Weinstein and James Dolan are good friends.

I actually … I don’t hate this one. What do I do? Is this Stockholm syndrome? I say we bring D’Antoni and Timofey Mozgov back.

I’m now 26 and a working professional in the financial services industry. I’ve found that my cases of the Sunday Demons are exponentially worse than they were in college. The hangovers aren’t necessarily worse, but the paranoia/cold sweats that come during Sundays are much more acute than they were in college and my early 20s. Is this due to getting older, having more responsibilities, or something else? Is there a cure?
—Will K.

One of my stranger obsessions is the Wikipedia page for sleep paralysis. I’ve never suffered from this horror, in which, basically, your brain wakes up before your body, and oh yeah also: “is often associated with terrifying visions, such as an intruder in the room, to which one is unable to react due to paralysis.” (Here’s where I do my best Owen Wilson: “OK so, scariest environment imaginable. Thanks, that’s all you had to say. Scariest environment imaginable.”) Sleep paralysis is so fascinating to me because of how the phenomenon manifests itself through other cultures and languages. In China, the phrase for it translates into “ghost pressing on body.” In Vietnam, it’s “held down by a shadow.” In Mexico it’s subirse el muerto, or “dead person on you.” In Turkey, it’s karabasan, or “the dark presser/assailer.” (This all comes from Wikipedia’s gold-mine “folklore” subsection.)

Anyway, I say all this because your use of “Sunday Demons” made me think about all the various iterations of the phrase I’ve heard over the years, ranging from the Sunday Blues to the Sunday Panic to the Sunday Monster to, most ominously, The Dread. One friend of mine refers to himself as “dark and stormy” when in this mental state, and I know exactly what he means. It’s such a universal thing that I have to think that there are terms for this in other languages. A 1991 New York Times article called it “the blahs”2 and had this soothing thing to say:

Mary Aloe, a 29-year-old publicity agent in Los Angeles, gets it too. “People need to know they’re not alone in this,” she said. “I’ve mentioned to my friends what happens to me on Sundays and they say: ‘Oh my gosh, is that what it is? I’ve got the same thing.'”

We’re all in this together, but that doesn’t paralyze us any less. In my experience, the worst of it comes sometime in mid-November, when you go to the bar to watch the early NFL game and when you leave it’s already dark out and your team probably lost. Actually no, the worst of it comes when you stay up past your bedtime to watch another highly depressing episode of Mad Men. I’m calling it the Sunday Draper from now on.

I need to know everything there is to know about Bandy immediately. So far, I can gather that:
(a) It’s played with a ball and a shelale on an ice rink the size of a regulation soccer field
(b) The goalie wears full hockey pads but has no stick, and has to defend a goal 3 times the size of a hockey goal
(c) There is no checking
(d) Completely unrelated to Item C, Russia seems to enjoy a lot of success
(e) Somalia apparently has formed a team and it is confusingly getting a lot of Cool Runnings buzz
(f) Santa Claus is Swedish
Have you seen any references to this sport bandied about? (Sorry, I had to.)
—Kurt R.

The best thing about all of this is the YouTube description on Item E: “In France, the film ‘Cool Running’ is called ‘Rasta Rockett.’ So, welcome to the incredible … ‘Rasta Hockey’! Viva Somalia!” Also, I initially read Item F as “Santa Claus is Jewish” and I’ve never clicked on a link faster. (Despite not being that, it did not disappoint.)

The first time I ever saw bandy being played was, of course, in Minnesota; I was on a bus and looked out the window and saw what I just figured was an enormous game of pond hockey until I noticed the huge nets. The sport has early roots in both the U.K., where it got its distinctively British name, and Russia, where Peter the Great’s court used to play the game on the frozen Neva River back in the 1700s.

Tragically, bandy was a demonstration Olympic sport back in 1952, but has never officially been included in the Games. We came so close! This is the saddest I’ve felt since finding out about another erstwhile demonstration sport: SKI BALLET.

Any recommendations for summer TV shows? I can’t accidentally watch six hours of HGTV with my wife anymore. Between Love It or List It, House Hunters, and one about rich people buying freaking islands I understand why terrorists hate us.
—Kirk H.

Watching those HGTV shows is like being in a relationship: everything is fantastic at first, you wonder how you ever lived without this new light in your life, and all you want to do is spend hours upon hours together. You learn so much. You start thinking about crown molding and “income properties.” You see the world differently.

Then you start to notice their disgusting habits or catch on to their annoying tells, and then suddenly, it’s impossible to look at them in the same way. I read once that featured House Hunters couples always pick the unfurnished house because they’ve usually already bought it, and now the show has never been the same. Sorry, spoiler alert, I guess. I love Property Brothers, but it didn’t take long before I stopped being able to suspend my disbelief about certain things. Just ONCE, I would like to see an episode where:

A. The couple cuts the bullshit and quits pretending that they don’t know that the first house they’re taken to is gonna be twice their budget.

B. The major dramatic arc is NOT based on potentially having to put a beam in the middle of an open-concept floor plan.

C. A couple that has been living in a parent’s basement for three years says “Oh, the project might run a day or two over? That’s cool, we’re not paying rent right now anyway, take your time.”

D. I don’t hate everyone involved by the end.

So let’s end this relationship once and for all and find someone new. My summer is going to be a time for me to catch up on some old shows I’ve been meaning to see: The Shield, for one, and maybe, finally, Breaking Bad? I’ve been enjoying Season 1 of Orphan Black lately. I’m outrageously excited for HBO’s The Comeback, which is, well, coming back.3 (The original one-and-done season, starring Lisa Kudrow, was brilliant and hilarious and definitely before its time.)

Is there any other team in North America that offers advancement opportunities for failure more than the Philadelphia Flyers? Go to the Cup final in 2010, then you trade away the core of the team. Then early-round exits, followed by a complete playoff miss, followed by a Round 1 exit to a big rival … Hey! You get a promotion! Congratulations Homer!
—Alex K.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans are shaking their heads in resignation right now. Speaking of which …

Two things …
(1) In the Game of Coaches, you win or you … get stuck in Toronto, maybe? Does the NHL have a Littlefinger? Is it Bettman?

(2) The San Jose Sharks lawn gnome would be tremendously improved if it had a shark hat/was in any way dressed for hockey, y/n?
—Jennifer M.

Could the NHL’s Littlefinger be … Brendan Shanahan?! (I see Bettman as more of a Tywin Lannister.) Think about it: He has dirt on everyone yet generally remains above the fray; he’s got some battle scars, he’s currently engaged in a somewhat unsavory alliance that will raise his power and profile but could easily end in bloodshed and massacre, and CHAOS IS A LADDER. In this scenario, Phil Kessel is Sansa Stark.

As for those lawn gnomes, I can only hope and assume that the outfit on the Scuba Sharks gnome is a glorious callback to the dude who handcrafted a chain mail Sharks jersey a few years ago. (This is the finest sentence I’ve ever had the privilege to type. Thank you, Jennifer M.)

Weddings over holiday weekends: an imposition on people wanting that time for themselves or courteous for travelers and such?
—J.P. R.

My rule of thumb is that holidays like Presidents’ Day and Columbus Day are all pretty well suited for weddings. (I’m not even sure if I’ve ever gotten Columbus Day off, anyway.) As for the other big holidays, proceed with caution, and be as thoughtful as you possibly can, which is general wedding and life wisdom anyway.

Want to have your wedding on New Year’s Eve? Go ahead, but it better be a kickass party befitting both occasions, not one where you scrimp on the bar and the band stops at 11. Have your heart set on a Fourth of July affair? Make sure your guests have enough fun (and, ideally, enough sunlight) that they won’t be thinking about the annual beach house BBQ blowout bash that they’re totally missing out on. Remember that while a three-day weekend may afford more time to travel, it also tends to be more expensive to fly on certain high-volume days.

If you’re getting married on Halloween, smash a pumpkin and have your officiant dressed as some sort of mohawked punk zombie. (OK, that might not be universal advice.) And if you want to get hitched on Labor Day, just remember two things: (1) Your guests may be suffering from wedding fatigue by late August, so try to liven things up, and (2) the end of Labor Day weekend is the Sunday Draper of the entire year, so don’t be offended if there are a bunch of people popping Klonopin and staring blankly into the middle distance at your farewell brunch.

Just watched the Wild lose Game 6. Would you rather have your team be clearly better for that game, and much of the series, and lose, or just get killed by a clearly superior team? Last year’s loss to Chicago didn’t hurt this much. And this after the Gophers lost both national championship games. Make it stop.
—Jerrod N.

I didn’t think I really cared about the outcome of the Chicago-Minnesota series, but as soon as Chicago ended it, I realized I had secretly been rooting for Minnesota — at least to win Game 6. (The home team should always take Game 6: If you’re up 3-2, you win in front of your fans and clinch the series early; if you’re down, you force a seventh game and everyone is left with generally happy memories.)

But you are basically asking a variation on that age-old question that has long plagued sports fans — is it better to have loved and lost, or to never have loved at all? I used to say in the 1990s that the problem with the New York Knicks was that they were just good enough to completely break your heart; that I’d sometimes rather they just missed the playoffs altogether. Now, after a decade of garbage fires, sexual-harassment suits, abject failure, monstrous personalities, and almost zero postseason success, I take it back. I TAKE IT ALL BACK!

Sometimes the series sweep is best for everyone; you start rationalizing the loss by the end of Game 2, and when it finally ends, you’re already on to other things. An OT loss at home off a bad bounce when you’ve been surprising the entire hockey world against the defending Stanley Cup champs is the opposite. Still, if the Blackhawks had crushed the Wild, you’d never have those thrilling highs like Game 4 at Xcel, and sometimes in sports, you have to hoard all the highs while you can.

For a team like the Wild, this was the kind of postseason that can and should be galvanizing for a franchise. When Ryan Suter and Zach Parise were signed, it was partly in anticipation that several young Wild prospects would emerge at the right time, and that began happening in these playoffs. It was a coming-out party for guys like the unsung Erik Haula, the embattled Nino Niederreiter, and the hotly anticipated Mikael Granlund. (Charlie Coyle ain’t bad, either.)

I’ll end on this note: Patrick Kane should be miked up, always. I want to stitch a sampler out of his words to Jared Spurgeon in the handshake line and look at it whenever I’m feeling down. “You’re a hell of a player, buddy, you’re gonna be sick in this league, keep it going” could be applied to the whole Wild team, really.

So I have this girl I’ve been casually talking to for a few weeks now. Her body language and the frequency of our texts give off serious interest. We recently had our first date, and during it we exchanged Instagram accounts. I scroll through and discover that she has a seriously unhealthy fixation with the late River Phoenix. As in, “I died 20 years ago and only did like 3 good movies” River Phoenix.

She has two German Shepherds named River and Phoenix, has a tattoo of a quote on her rib. She literally posted dozens of pictures on her Insta on the anniversary of his death, went and visited his grave, and relates all of his quotes to her life in some way. This girl is EXTREMELY attractive and otherwise normal, but aren’t some things just deal breakers?
—Brian P.

This all hinges entirely on which River Phoenix quote she has on her rib. (And also, come to think of it, on which rib.) Here are a few possibilities and some thoughts on what they may mean:4

“In simplicity there is truth.”
Run far, far, away. This is the River Phoenix Quote equivalent of having what you think is a tattoo of the Chinese character for “wisdom” except it actually says “mediocrity.”

“We were constantly moving to different countries and adjusting to new things. It was such a free feeling. I’m glad I didn’t have a traditional upbringing.”
Your lady is actually Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.

“I can’t on my own change the regime in South Africa or teach the Palestinians to learn to live with the Israelis, but I can start with me.”
Oh hi there, Miss Teen South Carolina! We’ve missed you.

“Commercials were too phony for me. I just didn’t like selling products I didn’t believe in.”
This girl really likes reading Catcher in the Rye on her iPad.

“Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on.”
Theater geek alert!! Check to make sure she doesn’t have “All the world’s a stage” tattooed on her ass before proceeding.

“I’m really normal. I play football, go to the beach, drive. We have dogs. I can imagine people calling me a character, but I’m Joe Straight.”
If you find a girl with this permanently imprinted anywhere on her body, marry her. And have dogs. You can name them Chambers and Chris. 

Filed Under: Bake Shop, mailbag, Katie Baker, Steve Kerr, NHL, Teemu Selanne

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Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes

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