At least one good thing happened in 2011

by Michael Bérubé on December 31, 2011

On the home front, the year opened with the inexplicable rupture of a whole-house water filter on January 2, a mishap that left four inches of water in the basement, ruining a bunch of Jamie’s books and DVDs; it closes as I return from visiting my father, who is intubated and unconscious after triple-bypass heart surgery.  We didn’t know he would be unconscious for my entire visit — I learned that via a phone call from my sister only after Nick, Jamie and I had gotten halfway through a seven-hour drive.  Our assumption was that at some point he would be conscious but unable to communicate, which is why I did what any dutiful son would do, namely, bring a copy of <i>A Year on Ice</i>, Gerald Eskanazi’s chronicle of the New York Rangers’ 1969-70 season, to read to him at his bedside.  When that plan fell through, we videotaped a bunch of messages for him (including my rendition of the final game of the Rangers’ regular season, April 5, 1970, which was the most exciting thing a nine-year-old kid could possibly hope to see — thanks for taking me, Dad!) and I’ll go back when he’s back home, which should be in a few weeks.

And oh yes, in March Lucy the Dog died after thirteen and a half years of faithfully guarding the house, playing with Nick, tending to Janet whenever she had migraines, and talking to Jamie when no one else would understand him.

But there was one good thing about 2011, and it was a world-historical event.  I refer, of course, to <strike>our family’s decision to topple Qaddafi and plunder Libya</strike> a milestone we had been anticipating for approximately twenty years:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

And they pronounced his name correctly!

At least since 1994 I have promised Jamie I would cry at this event.  At least since 2003 he has responded to this promise with great exasperation and annoyance (<i>”Michael!</i> You will not cry”).  And in the end, he was right — I did not cry, largely because it was all I could do to operate the zoom at maximum zoom-power and keep my focus on the right kid.

The year is almost behind us.  Jamie has completed his first semester at LifeLink PSU, in which he took courses in meteorology, dinosaurs, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  He also declared himself the Assistant Director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, on the grounds that he does in fact assist me.  Everyone in the immediate household is well, and my father is improving.  As of six weeks ago we have a new dog, a rescued six-year-old Jack Russell/beagle mix.  So, dear readers, here’s hoping your 2012 is much better than your 2011, wherever and whoever you may be.



marcel 12.31.11 at 10:59 pm

Sounds like the world historical event outweighed all the other tsuris. Much as we may wish, I doubt that you could have a 2012 better than 2011.

Congratulations and Happy New Year.


Dr. Hilarius 12.31.11 at 11:28 pm

Best wishes for your father’s recovery, deep condolences on the death of a pet, and congratulations for adopting an older shelter animal.


christian_h 12.31.11 at 11:32 pm

A happy 2012 to everyone – hoping this is the year the revolution finally happens somewhere in the imperial core :)


Michael Bérubé 01.01.12 at 12:15 am

Just as long as the revolution in the imperial core doesn’t involve that rave from The Matrix Reloaded, I will welcome it.


Michael Bérubé 01.01.12 at 12:16 am

Oh, and happy new year to this blog, and to everyone on Greenwich Mean Time.


shah8 01.01.12 at 12:23 am

The only notably good thing that happened to me in 2011 is getting lots of great tea cheaper than I ought. Otherwise, being frozen at home for a week in Jan ’11 pretty much fortold what the rest of the year would be like.

I would like a better 2012, please.


Colin Danby 01.01.12 at 12:38 am

Thanks for the Jamie update! — I’d been missing them. Let’s all hope for a happier new year.


Bill Benzon 01.01.12 at 1:08 am

Congrats to Jaime, Michael. Hope your father is recovering well. & I hope the passing of the sekret key goes well at MLA.

Found this page on LifeLink PSU, with this story from 2010:

The benefits to both Penn State students and LifeLink PSU students are vast; and now, the scope of helping has spread overseas. After saving $12,000 for a trip to the Bahamas, the students of LifeLink PSU have decided to donate this and more to earthquake relief in Haiti, thus forgoing their much-anticipated vacation. After watching a video about the devastation, student Joey Nelson got teary-eyed and thought to himself, “Whoa, we should do something about this!” For student Kiki Malik, seeing Haitians without food or water helped her make her decision.

The group has a fund-raising goal of $30,000 that they hope to reach through their additional fund-raising this semester: The Soup-er Bowl, which raised an additional $12,000, and Dance Battle Royale, which will be held on Friday, April 30. Besides giving up their own vacation, the group seeks to send a message to others. As Teri Lindner, Learning Support Teacher at LifeLink PSU said, “These students sacrificed something very valuable to themselves, and want to challenge others to do the same.”


Tom Hurka 01.01.12 at 1:53 am

OK … didn’t the Red Wings throw that last game against the Rangers in 1969-70, allowing 9 goals to let them into the playoffs and keep out the Habs, who won the Cup in 1969 and would win it in 1971? It’s one of the low points in NHL history and led to a change in the rule for tie-breaks at the end of the season, so it’s no longer done by total goals for.


Michael Bérubé 01.01.12 at 4:05 am

Tom — the short answer, for dying 2011, is no and no. The Red Wings didn’t throw the game, and the rules changes in 1970-71 had to do with the imbalance between the Eastern and Western divisions (with another rule change, the following year, requiring 1-4 and 2-3 matchups in the playoffs instead of 1-3 and 2-4, because of Chicago’s move to the West). The longer answer will be yours in … 2012!


laura 01.01.12 at 3:34 pm

Congrats to Jamie!


Barry 01.01.12 at 4:29 pm

My best wishes, Michael. I know what you’re going through.


Eleanor 01.01.12 at 5:30 pm

LifeLinkPSU sounds wonderful. (I just Googled it.) Congratulations to Jamie.


Michael Bérubé 01.01.12 at 7:03 pm

Thanks, everyone — and I should have put up one of those hyper-links to LifeLinkPSU. As for the Detroit-Rangers game: yes, the Red Wings had nothing to play for, since Chicago and Boston had tied for first and the Rangers and Canadiens were nearly tied for fourth. But they weren’t trying to avoid the Habs, because they were going to get either Chicago or Boston in the first round anyway, and no one would have picked Montreal to get past the first round. (Yes, Montreal beat Boston in the first round in 1971 — in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the game. Boston was clearly the stronger team.)

So Detroit played their backup goalie, Roger Crozier, and didn’t skate all out. But they didn’t rest any of their stars, and they weren’t happy to go into the playoffs on a 9-goal embarrassment. The Rangers’ 65 shots on goal — an incredible number — were largely the Rangers’ doing.

In 1971, after Chicago had been moved to the West (where they were vastly superior to any of the expansion teams that made up the rest of the division), the Minnesota North Stars lost a string of games at the end of the season, slipping from third to fourth — allegedly in order to avoid playing the Black Hawks in the first round. The following year, the first-round format was changed so that the fourth-place team in each division would play the first-place team.

True NHL fact: from 1971-74, Vancouver played in the Eastern division, while Pittsburgh and Philadelphia played in the Western.


Lee Hartmann 01.01.12 at 7:56 pm

And another good thing – passing from 2011 to 2012 – is that you’re still posting.


JP Stormcrow 01.01.12 at 9:11 pm

‘Grats to the grad. At the party I was at last night, the theme was “nothing bad in 2012″*. Something like that–for some reason it’s bit fuzzy today.

*Although if Tebow leads Denver to a Super Bowl win with a series of 4th quarter comebacks, all bets are off, and the Mayans were probably right and sucks to be us. Or if Sidney Crosby retires. Or other unnamed incendiary events.


Tom Hurka 01.01.12 at 9:18 pm

Michael: You think the Rangers’ 65 shots were their own doing, with no help or helpful lack of resistance from Detroit? Come on. I shouldn’t have suggested that the point was to keep the Habs out of the playoffs, though that wasn’t a team to underestimate in the postseason. Whatever the motive, though, the afternoon game smelled.

And the rule change I mentioned was in how tie-breaks in the standings are resolved at the end of the season. Up till 1969-70 it was by total goals for, which is why the Rangers had to score a bucketfull in the afternoon and the Habs, to their shame, pulled their goalie in the second period that night in Chicago to try to run up their total (they failed). I don’t know what they changed the tie-break to or what it is now — maybe which of the two teams has the better record in head-to-head play. But they changed it from total goals for after the double fiasco of the last day in 1969-70.

And yes, once the Hawks moved to the West they pretty much had a guaranteed place in the Cup final for next few years — though they never won. It’s they the Habs beat in game 7 in 1971, starting with a Jacques Lemaire slapshot from around centre ice that somehow fooled Tony Esposito. Ah, the days.


Larkspur 01.02.12 at 12:11 am

Way to go, Jamie. Dude looks good in a mortarboard.

Best wishes regarding your father. I hope his recovery is uneventful and is followed by many good healthy years.

Same for your new Jack Beagle Terrier. I love that you adopted an older dog. If I had a bunch of money I’d buy a medium-sized bungalow with a large, well-fenced yard, and I’d take in senior dogs – as well as dogs who are not seniors but who are merely in their prime, like your JBT.

All the best to everyone for 2012. 2011 pretty much sucked except for the fact that I survived long enough to see it in the rear-view mirror. I hope to survive 2012 as well, with much less suckitude.


mcd 01.02.12 at 12:40 am

Shallow of me I know, but I’ve wondered, have you ever told anyone your name, and they say “oh I love your vocal work!”


Michael Bérubé 01.02.12 at 2:34 am

have you ever told anyone your name, and they say “oh I love your vocal work!”

Why, yes! Just last night I went to a New Year’s Eve party at which everyone was asked to do something they’ve never done before in public, and I sang “Cruel to Be Kind” a cappella, whistling the rudimentary guitar solo. I really can sing a little bit, you know. Not like that other guy, but still.

JP, the Broncos are on a roll. Making the playoffs at 8-8 is just the Gethsemane before the, er, how you say, resurrection. Tom, I agree that the Red Wings showed up hung over and disinterested. But (a) 65 shots is an insane number (40 or 50 would have suggested that Detroit was hung over; 65 suggests that Detroit was hung over and the Rangers were insanely desperate), and (b) the Wings weren’t happy to be humiliated in the Garden, and they proceeded to cough up four straight hair balls against the Black Hawks. About the tiebreaker, yes, you’re right — and the “goals for” metric made no sense to begin with. Head-to-head should have been the tiebreaker after wins, and for the record, the Rangers went 3-4-1 against the Canadiens that year.

As for adopting an older dog: our vet told us that people prefer to adopt puppies because they’re puppies, and because they want to shape their dog’s personality. Our attitude is that dogs come with personalities all their own, and that it’s just a question of giving an older dog time enough to adjust to a new family with new idiosyncrasies and new smells.


Anderson 01.02.12 at 3:11 pm

Look, if you chose to pass up a perfectly good opportunity to sack Libya, the fault is entirely your own. You might’ve come away with Qaddafi’s album of Condi photos!


Tedra Osell 01.02.12 at 11:05 pm

That’s a hell of a year.

Congratulations to Jamie!


JP Stormcrow 01.03.12 at 12:38 am

MB@20: Making the playoffs at 8-8 is just the Gethsemane before the, er, how you say, resurrection.

I was trying to that mapping myself–I think being destroyed by Buffalo the game before last maps to being mocked by Herod. But Tim Tebow’s God is a just one as evidenced by the Flyers not scoring on the penalty shot after the messed up open empty net interference/stick hold call a bit earlier.


Clare 01.03.12 at 3:06 am

Hurray for Jamie! Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful 2012. Hope your dad is feeling better very soon.


CJColucci 01.03.12 at 5:00 pm

Congratulations on Jamie’s graduation and my best wishes for your father. I lost my beloved Buster in 2011 after nearly 15 years, so condolences for your loss of Lucy.


Maria 01.05.12 at 9:30 am

Wow! Well you may not have shed a tear making the video, but I certainly did watching it. Congrats to Jaimie and best wishes for your Dad.

+ good luck with the new bow wow.


spyder 01.05.12 at 11:26 am

Well after watching the new Nova on deadly volcanoes (and realizing that two of the ugliest are within a couple of hundreds of miles of me), and then reading about the meteor shower in which no less than 300 of them came within 50 miles of the surface of the planet, i was much relieved to find a fine Michael post on 2011 which included hockey memories. All will be okay. Congrats to Jamie, the new puppy, the year of Michael in the MLA, and other good things. May 2012 be….


Puzzled 01.07.12 at 1:57 pm

Never mind all that ice stuff. For those of us who follow real sport (there is only one), the St. Louis Cardinals’ miracle win of the 2011 Series is the highlight*. The fact that I’m from St. Louis has no influence on this purely objective judgement.

*And God knows it needed at least one.

Comments on this entry are closed.