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Bullet points from the rink, Dec. 13–14, 2014…

  • The jury is still very much out on these Vancouver Canucks. Despite a pretty solid 18-10-2 record, the Orcas are stuck in a four-game losing streak and it’s terrifyingly reminiscent of last year’s collapse – that one occurred half a month later, post-New Year’s, but the Sedins stopped scoring, the goaltending dropped off into erratic, Eddie Lack was applied like crazy glue to an open wound, and I’d honestly be surprised if you told me the Canucks even won one game in the year’s final four months.

  • Patrick Kane is either the most dangerous or more exciting player in the NHL. And in highlights like this, he’s both…

  • Who can figure out the San Jose Sharks? While the Kings are doing their annual ‘rode-a-dope until April’ thing and the Ducks are cruising along atop the Western Conference, the Sharks are either thrashing around in their own crease or they’re shutting out a for-real Predators team. And Antti Niemi’s bipolar-ness is off the charts, again.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from scraping sweaters off their home ice to a five-game winning streak, which includes impressive wins over impressive Western teams like Vancouver, Calgary, and Los Angeles, plus familiar Eastern foe Detroit (twice). So, who wants their jersey back?

  • Chris Johnston is correct – the NHL and its clubs have sort of dropped the ball on taking mumps seriously. But it’s funny that nobody else took it seriously until Sidney Crosby got it, isn’t it? Sort of like how nobody cared about Liberia’s Ebola outbreak until it hit Dallas.

  • Canada has trimmed its World Junior camp by five players, some of them you might actually know – and the most surprising is Chris Bigras, who was on the U20 team last year (when the red and white finished fourth for the second straight year). Highly touted defenceman Travis Sanheim and Calgary Flames first-rounder Morgan Klimchuk were also given a plane ticket home. These aren’t insignificant cuts, and it’s good to see… not that you want any of these teenagers to fail, but because Hockey Canada is quite obviously taking the 2015 tournament desperately serious.

  • Every day, Tyler Seguin scores. It seems, anyway. The former second-overall pick has 23 goals through 29 games, which means he’s on pace to score 65 this year. He probably won’t get there, but just the fact that he’s gone from a Boston reject to the NHL’s goals and points (38) leader in 16 months is damn impressive, if not inspiring.

  • Finally, the Calder Trophy race is a legitimate one to watch for the first time in a while. It’s normally either a blowout (last year, with Nathan MacKinnon) or it’s a battle between several default picks. But this season, Filip Forsberg is a star with 29 points through 29 games, Johnny Gaudreau has wowed with limited ice time, and Aaron Ekblad has been every bit the player the Panthers thought he’d become when they drafted him No. 1 in June. Toss in a couple goalies – Jake Allen in St. Louis and Michael Hutchinson, who’s keeping Winnipeg alive with a 93.7% save percentage – and it’s not a race to the middle, but one where candidates are rising to fight atop the mountain.

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by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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I started to get better at writing in my final year of university. Not even that I was good – just that I started to get better. Really useful, eh? I get a four-year degree and I don’t know what I’m doing until it’s far too late to matter, until it’s already set in stone that I’ll be moving on at the end of the year and I won’t be an A student when I do.

Anyway, in my first semester I got back this research paper and my mark was something just slightly above average – probably a 76. The final paragraph of this six-page paper was circled in red and the comment read, “This final paragraph should be the first paragraph to a truly great essay.”

It was a compliment but also a shot fired. Although the criticism was positive, the mark meant the essay was missing something, that it wasn’t the “truly great essay” he was hoping he’d read.

Question: Is it worse to just not have the talent, or worse to have it and ignore it?

And do you see where I’m going with this?

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by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine

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You’ll have to watch it twice. Because Inside Llewyn Davis is, at first viewing, boring. But the second time, it’s subtle. Subtle is an artistically conscious way of saying boring, but it’s a compliment – in the way someone who’s short can be the biggest person in the room, like Napoleon, something boring can actually be riveting, captivating, and definitely oddly exciting.

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Come on, Hollywood.

Can’t you let me go one day without tossing out some epic trailer? And then I have to sit down here and write some blurb about it, or else I’ll feel like I haven’t fulfilled my “journalistic” responsibility to drop a few paragraphs whenever something breaks the Internet once every 12 hours. And it’s not just the remakes like Jurassic Park or Star Wars – it’s Inherent Vice and it’s Bill Murray singing Bob Dylan with a hose or something to do with Better Call Saul.

And again, today, it’s Mad Mad: Fury Road. Didn’t we just do this dance a month or two ago?

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by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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Are there spoilers ahead?

Of course. So only read on if you’ve seen it, or if you’re looking for that sort of thing. I know plenty of you out there like to watch TV without keeping the ending a surprise, just like plenty of you like to know what you got for Christmas before December 25th. We can’t all take the unknown. It’s okay.

I’ll begin: I never thought Sons of Anarchy was perfect, but I loved it. Now, I’ll explain.

It was always too violent to be considered dramatic. Other shows about crime and the families who profit from it – like The Sopranos or Breaking Bad – knew what subtlety was and what its value was. SOA? Not too sure. Because those other shows also seemed aware of how evil their leads were, the Walter Whites and Tony Sopranos, and the criminal organizations they ran and founded. Those show’s runners also knew how evil nearly everyone in the script was, and so it was enjoyable to root for the bad guys because, well, everyone’s a bad guy in some way. Game of Thrones and True Detective have been great examples of that lately – both shows’ heroes Tyrion Lannister and Rust Cohle are, really, not very terrific people.

Even canonized cartoons like The Simpsons and The Flintstones marketed themselves by making an overweight, pretty dumb dad into the hero. His dutiful wife was the dutiful wife, his kids were named Bam Bam or Bart, and his best friends were dim-witted and simple, but loveable.

Sometimes, though, it wasn’t clear whether Sons of Anarchy‘s faults were intentional or not. The show constantly preached for family and put Jax Teller and SAMCRO on a pedestal they very often hadn’t earned. SOA was always passing off vigilantism as a suitable substitute for real ethics, to the point Kurt Sutter’s words sounded like what a hunter says when he goes out and shoots deer and bear and then tries to convince you he wouldn’t be able to eat without doing it himself. As if the violence in Sons was going to happen anyway and Teller and Co. were Charming’s most trustworthy men to carry it all out.

This is fine, but it’s different when the show believes too obviously what it’s selling. Community is clearly a religiously agnostic show, but it takes shots at Britta’s Atheism and Shirley’s Christianity in healthy, evenly split doses. The Godfather was fixated on turning Michael Corleone into the enemy, not the saviour. It was a tragedy, not a call to arms. True Detective got where it was going by laying bare all of Marty’s and Rust’s problems and errors, and then it brought it home with lines like, “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”

Shows must always be conscious, not converting, and too often it seemed like Sutter and Hunnam and the rest actually believed they were telling the story of Batman, not ruthless killers. (Nothing against ruthless killers, though.)

And maybe Jax really was the best evil out there, but it got a little tiring. S’all I’m saying.

We were supposed to hate characters like Clay and Gemma and the Nazis and the IRA, but we weren’t supposed to realize how Jax would look from the other side. What if the show was instead called Mayans of Anarchy? Then it would be a sort of U.S. War on Terror deal – you know, how can the most militaristically obsessed country on earth fight a war on fire and scorched earth and the scary emotions they cause?

But see, all those paragraphs above, they’re why Sons of Anarchy was actually sort of perfect.

Because SOA was perfect for itself. It was contained and it was honest to its message and mission. It was a fitting haircut on an oddly shaped head, and even a thickly accented Englishman like Charlie Hunnam could pull it off with a long runway and an excellent script.

It was white trash opera but it was real opera, too.

And on Tuesday night, boy was that finale perfect.

Jax rides off into nothingness, his hair flowing and a Flying V of police cars behind him on that beautiful, beige northern California highway, and he smiles and opens his arms wide as he ploughs head-on into a semi truck.

The soundtrack was gorgeous, as were the montage of shots that wrapped up each remaining character’s storyline nicely but not finitely. (We never really like things to end all neat and concrete-like, after all. We say we do, but we never would have been able to take a properly defined conclusion to The Sopranos and we would have hated to see Bryan Cranston’s eyes close in Bad‘s last shot.

In SOA‘s closing moments, we were given the same freedom Jax Teller was. If the rest of the series was a properly tended-to crew cut, the last 10 minutes were a quick and clean buzz. Sutter shaved it all off and let the wind and the sun take over.

And so perfectly, it was all wrapped up with a bunch of touching scenes – Jax visiting his father’s roadside grave, Chibs holding back tears at the table he now heads, and Wendy and Nero taking the Teller boys to safety – shoved side-by-side with some crude ones, which started early in the episode with Lyla shooting a porno called ‘Fat Asses’ (or something like that) and ended with crows picking apart a piece of bread while Jax’s blood flowed towards them.

And we got to hear Michael Chiklis’s gargley voice yell ‘JESUS!’ (seriously, that was the last word of the series, wasn’t it?) and Jax even referenced the show’s sometimes split personality early on in ‘Papa’s Goods’ when he told a porn-watching T.O. Cross, “We like poetry” (or something like that, it’s hard to remember word-for-word).

When it wanted to be goofy, Sons of Anarchy could never resist getting serious and emotional. And when it wanted to be something more, it couldn’t help being funny, over-violent, or cheap. And like any good show meant for binge-watching, it was never afraid to kill someone off.

And that includes itself.

Bravo, Kurt Sutter and Kompany, on a job well done.

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by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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I had never heard of Zoe Sugg – Zoella – until last week, when news broke that the young Brit’s first novel was the fastest-selling debut scribble ever, beating out the breakthrough books from J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and EL James. Maybe you’ve heard of them. But like Zoella, chances are you hadn’t heard of them until they were already famous – until your kid was on the third Harry Potter book, until your girlfriend or wife (or mother) was on the second Fifty Shades sequel, or until The Da Vinci Code had pissed off the Vatican. And like those situations, I had no idea who Sugg was until the entire world (the under-20 females of it, at least) had already ordered her latest creation off of Amazon.

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*This was originally posted on Black Press’s B.C. network by Kolby Solinsky…

Let’s keep it short and sweet. I believe that’s how these things are meant to be.

Mr. Beliveau, I never saw you play. All I have to go on are the crackling black-and-white films from your day – when the gloves were brown and cardboard stiff, when the goalies would fling and dance in the crease, making saves as if by accident. So I’m afraid I have nothing close to a personal testimonial, a real eye-built obituary (like Gare Joyce’s), a signed hockey card, or anything from my childhood to offer.

But I know you were great, Mr. Beliveau. Because it’s all anyone talked about.

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by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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A full day later, it seems the confetti has been swept away. The circus has left town.

Now, I don’t live right in Vancouver. I’m about 45 minutes away, south down Highway 99 and nearly in White Rock. But even way down here – you could draw a shorter line between Italy and France, I’ll bet, than you could from end-to-end of Metro Vancouver’s sprawl – I can gauge the temperature and I can hear the rumble and the road of the crowd.

And for the Grey Cup, it came loud and left silently. The game is over, the party’s way past midnight, and Calgary is celebrating hours east of here. Hamilton’s sorrow drowned out their parade though, all Sunday night on social media. The story from the game became the punt return that wasn’t and the flag that dropped – that Brandon Banks touchdown would have been the perfect way for Hamilton to win the game, and it was (turns out) the perfect way to lose it, too.

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*This was originally posted and published by Kolby Solinsky on Black Press’s B.C. network

Jon Cornish didn’t have the chance to deliver the grail himself, but it didn’t matter.

“They kept me pretty quiet, but that’s the key – we’ve got too much talent on this team,” Cornish said Sunday night, as Grey Cup confetti fell over Calgary’s champion Stampeders on the BC Place turf.

“I knew going into this game, that I wasn’t going to be Grey Cup MVP. I wasn’t going to get all these accolades or whatever, but I knew we would win.”

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by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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I like to think every person, nearly every individual thing, goes through cocaine years.

You know, like the middle scenes in Goodfellas or Blow or Casino or The Wolf of Wall Street or… any movie like that, really. There’s always some long, drawn-out drive to the bottom, punctuated by a montage of white powder going up noses, red eyes, and (in a Scorsese film) the last know Rolling Stones song the director hasn’t already used earlier in that same movie.

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