Interview with Actor and Voice Artist James Horan

James Horan is a man of many talents—with more than 120 film, television, and video game acting credits to his name, it is difficult to know where to begin. Well, for me, he is Colonel Arthur Cummings from Gods and Generals, a character that holds distinction as the first of many officers to order a charge, when he reluctantly does so in the battle of First Manassas. But to others, he is the voice of their favorite video game characters, as James is mainly a voice artist, supplying anything from actual character dialogue, to narration, and even singing; I hear he does a killer Elvis impersonation!

When I contacted him about his filming experiences in G & G, he agreed to share them, and as you will read below, he even discussed what it was like being on the set the day of 9/11, something that the actors in the Extended Director’s Cut on-stage panel talked about briefly back in July. James has also appeared in television shows such as Star Trek: Enterprise, and more recently, in the films Flags of our Fathers and Dying God. I would like to thank him for taking the time to conduct this interview, and sharing such great stories!

GC: What did you do to prepare for your role as Colonel Cummings in G & G?

JH: Basically not much–I had long hair at the time, which the director felt would be fine for the character, and I thought it was an interesting look.  I did do some research online that Arthur Cummings had been a lawyer in Abingdon, VA before the war, and after his service to the Confederacy, he returned to being a lawyer there.  He seemed like a decent man who was fighting for a cause in which he believed, and a way of life that he felt was being threatened.  I of course had seen the original Gettysburg, and re-watched it a couple of times  to immerse myself in the period.

GC: Did you have any knowledge or interest in the Civil War prior to filming? 

JH: I had seen Ken Burns amazing documentary on the Civil War, and had seen several other films, including the aforementioned Gettysburg. Of course, being from Louisville, Kentucky, I had heard stories about the war and it’s effect on Kentucky as a “border” state, and how the war forced families to take sides, sometimes causing brother literally to be fighting brother.  I went to school in Danville, Kentucky at a small college called Centre College, which was founded in 1819, and one of the oldest buildings on campus had been used as a hospital by the Union army for a time.  The Perryville battlefield was near the school, and I’m sure many skirmishes took place around those parts.  But I wouldn’t describe myself as a “buff”, no.

GC: Can you tell us what your overall filming experience was like?

JH: It was great.  I was only there for one week, I think, but I made quick friends among my fellow actors.  I met Stephen Lang, who has gone on to do some amazing work, most recently of course in Avatar.  He told me he would have liked to have me around longer in the movie, as he felt too many of the actors around him were a little on the younger, greener side.  He said he wanted someone around him with more “mileage”, and I took that as a compliment!  The director was also very cool to work with, and the overall experience was wonderful.  Except for the fact that my last day of shooting was Sept. 11 of 2001, the day of the great tragedy in New York City.  Many of the cast and crew were based in New York, so of course they were deeply personally touched with concern for their family and friends.  One of the actors told us his father worked in the World Trade Center, but he didn’t know which tower, so he was nearly beside himself, understandably.  Thank God we later learned his dad had followed his instincts and got out of the building once the attack had taken place, even though he had been told not to leave by security.  It was very surreal to be watching the destruction on the one television at our location, which was in the middle of a huge field in Virginia.  All of the cast and crew huddled around the tv, watching what looked like Jerry Bruckheimer special effects.  All filming stopped, and after a time, the director summoned everyone together, and asked if we wanted to continue shooting or take the day off. It was nearly unanimous that everyone wanted to keep making the picture, because they felt they were telling a great story about an important part of American history, and history had certainly been made that day.  I remember thinking that the toppling of those buildings in New York was probably the worst attack on the American mainland since the Civil War had wrought such destruction on so many town and cities.

GC: You have supplied the voices for many characters in video games over the years. What is that like? Is it easier than acting in a movie?

JH: I’ve voiced characters in over seventy video games, and yes, I find it very challenging and fun.  Having been trained for the theater, I particularly enjoy creating characters with just my voice, as I’ve always felt the voice is an integral part of any role I create.  It is “easier” than acting in movies, since no one cares what you look like in a game, but I like to bring the same level of professionalism and care to the voice work as I do to the on-camera stuff.

GC: Do you have any upcoming film/TV/video games projects coming up? Please tell us about them.

JH: I’ve just finished working on several voices for the upcoming game Diablo 3, which I know many of the fans are eagerly awaiting.  Can’t reveal details, as I’m sworn to secrecy, but I’m sure the game won’t disappoint, and hopefully my voice acting won’t either!   Recently I contributed several voices for Batman, Arkham Asylum, and I also worked a lot on Dawn of War in its various incarnations.  If you visit my IMDb page, you’ll find a full list of the games I’ve done with details on who I voiced—I can’t remember them all.  And that’s a good thing—I’d hate to have done so few I knew them all!

Once again, I would like to thank Mr. Horan for conducting this interview! You can check out his official website here.

Disappointment from the History Channel…Again

Let me just point out that it is no longer the History Channel, just “History” by itself, but to avoid confusion, I am going to refer to them by their older name.

Just last week, when I ripped into the Emmy Awards for giving the History Channel’s latest bust-documentary, Gettysburg, the award for outstanding non-fiction special, I mentioned that although this channel is slipping each and every day in regards to the quality and ideas behind their programming, at least one of their sister-networks was still around for us die-hards to relive the glory days of the mid-1990’s and early 2000’s. This network, as I have written about and lauded on several occasions, was History International, a network that replayed the older shows that put the History Channel on the map, before their obsession with aliens, the apocalypse, and reality shows took hold. However, just the other day, I realized that this channel has been renamed, changing to H2, and the amount of older programming has been almost all cut out.

Mornings on H.I were very enticing for me, as I would DVR most of the shows to watch later in the evening when I had free time. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Leonard Nimoy narrate Ancient Almanac from 1995 and a few years after, as the show covered various mysteries and amazing tales and stories from the ancient world. Next came Vanishings, a story about famous disappearances, then one of my favorite shows, the informative and quirky Naked Archaeologist, which made history and archaeology fun for everyone, no matter what their educational background. Lastly, History’s Mysteries, one of the main network’s most popular shows when they aired more than 150 episodes between 1996 and 2004, has been pretty much narrowed down into one day. The one thing I could never understand about that show, is that of all the episodes filmed, only the same 20 or 30 continued to air. Maybe this is something they can fix, if they are indeed going to keep them on the air. There were other shows too, a lot to name here specifically, but you can see how disappointing it would be if this lineup were to come to an abrupt end with almost no warning.

Just when I couldn’t get anymore closer to stop watching this network completely, they pull this stunt. Perhaps I am overreacting, but maybe I prefer the older greatness to this newer crap. The first show I just happened to view on this new network? Mega Disasters. Terrific. Want to know what is airing on Friday night at 8pm? Gettysburg!

I really hope that these old shows will make their way back, and that this new lineup is just a way of ushering in the new channel. I am tired of apocalypse and how the aliens built everything on ancient earth. I am tired of all the speculative nonsense. I want straight-up history; is that too much to ask for? Please, give us back our network, and know that not everyone is captivated by Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People (see one episode, you’ve seen ’em all), and not everyone is in a paranoid frenzy like Ancient Aliens.

Two for Tuesday: Idiots of the Week in my Computer Class!

If you all can think back to some of my initial “Week in Review” columns, you might remember a certain math class I had that was so overrun with fools it made for such a horrific educational experience. I can now say, that after four weeks of Computer Logic and Design at the college that will not be named, not only has it eclipsed the previous class, but it has led to a lowering of my stupidity tolerance—give me another month or so, and I’m sure I will be completely allergic. My escapades through life, liberty, and the pursuit of technical literacy began the very first week, when I was asked by an odd-looking fellow, whom I will refer to as the “politician”, to sign his petition, which would allow for him to be some kind of representative to the student body for the college. Not thinking anything of it, I indeed signed it, as did everyone else later on in the class, after he asked the professor for permission to make a short speech after the break (he’s learning the trade of being a BS-artist rather fast). I would just like to point out, that I have no quarrels with the professor, who is very calm, soft-spoken, and has the patience of a saint (if you keep reading, you will realize how important that is).

But before this happened, that is, before I even signed anything, he did something that irked me, which I unknowingly cast aside as I put pen to paper. With the room pretty much empty about twenty minutes before class, I was sitting in the back row of computers (there are desks in the middle, and rows of computer on the two sides and back walls) all by myself, and of course, he sits right next to me. After lobbying like only a used car salesman could, he told me that if he gets onto the student board, he can get us anything we want. Me being who I am, said we should get a hockey game going. He looked at me and responded, “Come on! How about something realistic?” to which I said, “Oh, its realistic.” After I said this, something in him snapped and he started to get angry with me. “How?! Where can we get a rink? We can’t have a game!” he sneered at me. Now it was my turn to be snippy, “Well, actually we tried last year to have a game on foot in the gym, or on skates outside on the basketball court, we just didn’t get enough sign ups. I planned it with the head athletic director [John Smith], but as someone who is so involved in student government, I figured you must have known that already.” Not able to say anything, he made a humming sound, and walked away to another student who had just walked in. Did I say I was referring to him as a politician?

The next week, he did something else that annoyed me slightly. The class was just about to begin, and was pretty full, when I hear a, “Hey, that’s a nice shirt!” comment. Considering the possibility that he was referring to me and my Williamsburg Civil War shirt, I continued to look straight ahead, figuring that if I ignored him, maybe he would go away. Well, that doesn’t work with a bad infection, so in the end, it didn’t work here either. Again, blaring across the room, “That’s a nice shirt! Williamsburg!” With everyone in the room now staring at me, I turned my head slowly and gave him an unenthusiastic thumbs up, so he would stop making a fool of himself.

Later in week two, though, would be the funniest, and strangest, moment of my two-year college career, one that puts the exclamation point on my experiences at the college which will not be named. In fact, this is something that had never even happened to me in high or middle school either. It is so astounding that I can only hope to be able to describe it well enough so that your eyes will widen too, and of course, start to chuckle at how humanity has degraded to such a feeble level. Class begins at 1:30, and we are now about ten minutes in. There are two doors in the front of the room, one on each side, with the whiteboard in the middle, which was where the professor was standing when the moment of all moments occurred. With both doors shut, I see this creepy looking fat kid, who had become a nuisance along with his political partner in crime a week earlier, attempt to open the door, which I saw through the small window at head level. The door, which must have accidentally locked itself, refused to open. Puzzled, I heard a loud thud as he punched the door and walked away. The professor is oblivious to what happened. Now, rather than calmly knock and wait for a kind Samaritan to come to the aid of this monumental task, he leaves all together. Thirty seconds later, we all jumped as we heard what sounded like cries and screams of agony. No, it wasn’t crying, it was wailing—earth shaking exertions of insanity, screams of torture and pain. The professor is still oblivious and continuing with his lecture. Then we hear a lady ask, “What’s wrong? What happened?” followed by his shrieking of, “I’ve never been late to a college class before! Aaaah! I can’t get in! Aaaah! I’ve never been late! Waaah!” The professor is still talking about computers.

Probably wanting to get this obviously mentally unstable character out of the hallway, there was soon silence. Everyone in the class was now staring at each other. Then, all of a sudden, the climactic moment! The professor, who had been calmly reciting his lecture while chewing gum stopped chewing, turned his head to the left and said, “Is something going on?” I nearly burst out laughing because it was so perfect (probably had to be there to find it funny). After being informed of what happened by a lady outside the door, he entered the classroom with a smile on his face that he was trying to hide, and continued on like nothing happened. Just days later, I found out from a friend that this same kid was nearly arrested in the admissions office for threatening to kill himself and the lady at the desk because he had to withdraw from the class. It was so severe, apparently, the police came, and when he reached into his bag for something, they jumped on him, in case it was a weapon. Well, I don’t know what the hell that was about, cause he’s back! It’s been two classes since, and he continues to take up space and breathe my air, while asking stupid questions and colluding with you guessed it, the politician! The two of them sit in their own little world together.

Now on to last week, I was able to find a friend in someone with a low tolerance for stupidity, as well as being a Rangers fan. We hit it off great, and I will deem him the only sane person in the class until someone else proves otherwise. We sat together on the side row of computers to do a lab, when the politician sat to his right. For the entire class, all I heard was, “I’m not getting this! It’s not working!” followed by incessant tapping, humming, and “Oh, oh!” every time he moved around in his chair. He sounds like an old man sometimes, because whenever he sits or stands, his exhale is so loud everyone knows it. I felt like saying to him, “Maybe if you stopped being such an obnoxious little prick, you would understand the lessons.” Actually, anyone with a half a brain would do well in the class. The professor does the algorithms on the board and we copy it into our editing program—that is all. There is no thinking involved. Instead, there was an hour and a half of tapping, humming, and whining. This week, it was my turn to feel it firsthand.

Someone took my seat, so I had the misfortune of sitting next to him. It got so bad a half hour in that I looked at him and rather loudly said, “Do you have a problem?” to which he mumbled something. Then he had to strike his keys so loud it echoed across the room. The Ranger fan and I just looked at each other and laughed, to keep from crying of course. When we were on our break, I was reading an article on last night’s Rangers-Flyers game when he asked me what I was reading. I did not even look at him, and just mumbled back. But he kept pressing, until I actually had to speak with some clarity. Asshole.

Later in the class, it continued as he complained and asked questions to himself. Because I actually understood the work at hand, I was beginning to enjoy myself. Finally, minutes from the end of the class, he exclaimed, “I got it! I finally got it!”. Not being able to stop myself, I stretched my arms out behind me, yawned, and said, “Yeah, that’s what happens when you stop humming and tapping and actually pay attention.” I don’t think he got the statement cause he asked, “What? What did you say? Tapping?” then an abhorrently fake laughter as only a politician could, bordering on cackling, “Ha! Tapping! Hahahaha!”

The day ended with me storming out aimlessly, numbed from the ordeal. This award goes to the two fools mentioned in this article, and covers the entire four weeks we have sojourned together through the logic (wow, how ironic that’s what this class is teaching) and design of computers. If the next eleven weeks are anything like the last four, the author of this blog might not be around to write about it.

NHL Players and Discipline: Are They Really That Stupid?

The ensuing scuffing in last night’s Rangers-Flyers preseason game, after Tom Sestito (PHI) nailed Andre Deveaux (NYR) from behind.

Since the end of last season, the NHL has made it clear that they are going to crack down on head shots and illegal hits. They have amended the rules, and even hired former player and future hall-of-famer Brendan Shanahan to be the new disciplinarian. All summer long, it was absolutely drilled into everyone’s head that there would be a zero tolerance policy for these kinds of activities. They might as well call it a policy against stupidity.

We are only in the preseason, and have seen four suspensions, with probably another coming along to Tom Sestito of the Philadelphia Flyers, for boarding Andre Deveaux in last night’s matchup against the New York Rangers. I could not help but scream out loud, “Are the players really that stupid?!” This is even more relevant when it comes to the Flyers, past acts aside, because they have already lost Jody Shelley this season for 10 games, due to one of Shanahan’s first suspensions. The new disciplinarian is making a name for himself early on, with a slew of no-nonsense decisions. One can hope that he will stick to it during his entire tenure, and continue to judge fairly no matter what team or player is involved. Anyway, getting back to what I asked earlier, it is almost as if these players are doing it intentionally, saying, “I am going to play on the edge and hurt people. I don’t care what is going to happen.” Now that they know they are going to get punished, it is as if they are daring Shanahan to suspend them.

I ask again, are they really that stupid? I hope these goons keep on doing what they’re doing, leveling people face first into the boards and elbowing players in the head. Maybe if they do it enough times, the suspensions will be a little more permanent, and there will be no room left for idiots who continue to spit at the rulebook with their ignorance. Hockey is a gritty game, and hitting and fighting are two things that make it exciting. However, the line is there for a reason, and we have seen it crossed far too many times already, before the season has even started. How many more times will it happen? How long will it take before the new and improved ideology of NHL discipline is ingrained in the heads of players who want to skate along the slippery slope? One can hope sooner, rather than later, because as each suspension is doled out, I cringe at the stupidity at hand—they cannot say there weren’t warned.

Have Fun and Win Prizes at Our “Hockey Cares!” Fundraiser

This event and all that has led up to it in the last few days is proof that one idea can lead to a snowball effect, making things happen that you never imaged would. Mother Teresa Regional School, where I coach hockey and teach the Civil War elective, is having a fundraising event to support the American Red Cross for hurricane relief in our immediate area. The school, which is located in Atlantic Highlands, has many students from nearby towns that were effected by Hurricane Irene a few weeks ago, and this is our way of giving back to the community. Originally, we were just going to have a special Saturday night event for our regular hockey games, but then I made the suggestion that we should charge a dollar or two and donate it. From there it took off, and Vinny and Ann Margret  Duminski began to work the phones, and now, we have this massive event planned for Saturday night, September 24, from 4-8:30pm.

The New Jersey Devils, who sponsor our league, are kind enough to send us former player Jim Dowd for an autograph session, as well as donations of autographed sticks of Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise for us to put up for auction. They are also bringing pucks, posters, magnets, and pre-season tickets against the Islanders and Flyers for a free giveaway, and the team’s mascot will be on-hand for entertainment and photo-ops. However, other local businesses have stepped up to the plate. When we asked if we could leave a flier, they not only allowed us to do so, but offered donations of gift items. Below is our current list of available prizes. A decision has not been made in regards to what will be auctioned and what will be door prizes, but these are some great items! We are currently in talks with other local restaurants and businesses, and hope to have an updated list by Saturday night with even more (it’s been updated three times already since I published this, so there is definitely hope for more!):

New Jersey Devils (Newark)

  • Jim Dowd autograph session
  • Martin Brodeur autographed hockey stick
  • Zach Parise autographed hockey puck
  • Pre-Season tickets to games on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1
  • Pucks, posters, and magnets

Park East Bar and Restaurant (Hazlet)

  • $50 gift certificate

The Wine Bar (Atlantic Highlands)

  • $25 gift certificate

Tab Ramos Sports Center (Aberdeen)

  • Two $50 gift certificates

Denino’s Pizza Place (Aberdeen)

  • $25 gift certificate

The Hobby Shop (Aberdeen)

  • $25 gift certificate

Eli’s Hot Bagels (Aberdeen)

  • Certificate for a dozen bagels

Pinebelt Nissan (Keyport)

  • Certificate for one auto detail service

Angela’s Pizza (Hazlet)

  • Certificate for two large plain pies

Shore Cafe (Hazlet)

  • $30 gift certificate

We also have a lot of fun events planned, including some that will give participants a chance to win prizes. There will be a skills competition as well as a “Score-O” contest. Later on in the evening, the teachers and older students will play against each other in a game. Other games, broken down by age level, will be scheduled throughout the night.

How you can help: We invite anyone and everyone to come on down and participate in this fun night. Adult admission is $2 and children are $1. Every single dollar earned that night will be donated, so your attendance and participation will help us as it is! If you own a local business or restaurant and would like to donate a gift card, no amount is too small, and please contact me at or Vinny Duminski at If you cannot make it, and would like to send a donation, please make the check payable to the American Red Cross, and send to:

Hockey Cares

Mother Teresa Regional School

55 South Avenue

Alantic Highlands, NJ 07716

Thank you very much, and have a great day!

Travesty to History: Gettysburg Documentary Wins Four Emmys

This poster is currently selling on Ebay for $4.99.

When I read that the History’s Gettysburg documentary from this past May was nominated for six Emmy Awards, I wanted to laugh. Today, when I found out that they actually won four, I wanted to cry. Okay, so maybe tears did not really well up in my eyes, but that does not make me any less upset or angry that this travesty to American Civil War history was lauded on a world-renown platform, an Awards ceremony that is supposed to recognize the absolute best in American television. Gettysburg, as I noted when I reviewed it the night it aired, came with so much hype and promise, and it not only failed to deliver, but left history buffs and experts at a loss for words at how laugh-out-loud horrible the facts were. Special effects aside, because they were very good and their Emmy win was deserved, this documentary did more harm than good for those who knew little or nothing about the battle that changed the tide of the Civil War, and thus the nation, as a result.

When I spoke to historian and Gettysburg battle expert J.D Petruzzi back in August, I asked him about how it was possible for a major production to be so flawed, with so many resources available. This is an excerpt of his answer:

How something like that can air?  I think much of it has to do with marketing and trying to appeal to an audience which today is pretty inflicted with ADD.  And I also know that the writers and producers didn’t consult with the historical advisers and consultants beyond just their few minutes of speaking throughout the episode.  If they had – consulted with knowledgeable folks like Garry Adelman and such – most or all of the garbage that aired wouldn’t have seen the light of day.  It was filmed in South Africa literally on the cheap, so the terrain looked nothing like Gettysburg (unless Gettysburg is comprised mainly of acres and acres of sand and pine stands and I’ve somehow missed that).  If you read my review of the show, you’ll see that I point out an error committed just about every minute, and I actually didn’t include most of them.  The show was very, very hard to watch, and my wife kept running into the room thinking that I was screaming in physical pain rather than mental… All the CGI and graphics done by the Scott Brothers studio – which was brought onto the project only at the very last second in order to do the CGI and attach their names to it – couldn’t save that show from making everyone’s eyes bleed.  The History channel can only do the right thing by burning all copies of that program and never allowing it to see the light of day ever again.

So, not only was the film not destroyed, but it actually won the award for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special, which is pretty ironic considering some of the scenarios they presented were either so distorted or misinformed that they could have been the work of a master fiction author. What they did not tweak to fit their own little docudrama, they made up out of thin air, my favorite part being when one of Rick Harrison’s “experts” from Pawn Stars came on the screen and told the audience with a straight face that the impact of firing artillery for long periods of time would cause the ear drums of the artillerymen to explode, and send blood oozing out of their ears, among other things that I have never heard of before (it is best to read J.D’s blow-by-blow description).

This is definitely my disappointment of the day, because this was a show that quite literally deserved to be disposed of. I have grown ever critical of the History Channel in recent years, because of their shying away from actual history and movement towards endless Doomsday and Apocalypse shows. But what upsets me here is not how bad this show was, but because it had the chance to reverse the nonsense coming from what used to be my favorite channel, and one that earned worldwide respect. This could have been the beginning of a new era of real programming, but instead, it just serves to insult historians even further, as if being told that every accomplishment in world history was because of aliens and flying saucers is not enough. I am thankful History International is still around, because they show the older, better shows, but as for History (as they are called now, omitting the word “channel”; it should be the other way around, I think) it is safe to say that all hope is lost. They do not care about facts, they care about money and awards, and that is evident after last night.

What scares me here is something that I have only recently thought about—the main reason why I hated this show is because I know enough about the Civil War to see how bad this was. But what about all the other documentaries we have watched over the years that we don’t know much about? How many facts did they get wrong with those that just went unnoticed? I watch a documentary to get the right information, and I don’t want it to be a guessing game. Thanks to this trash, I have this in the back of my head the next time I sit down to watch one of their programs…if I ever do again.

What I Learned While Coaching Hockey Vol. 1: Shirt-Stealing, Question-Asking Mayhem

Well, we’re back again for another street hockey season at MTRS, one with the same cast of characters as the spring, so you know exactly what to expect. We have made some changes this season, both adding ties due to the time constraints of shootouts, and moving the 5th graders up to the senior division, going through the 8th grade, while making the junior division only grades 1-4. We have only had two full nights of hockey, totaling four games for each team, and already, stuff has happened that just cannot be made up, including something that has never happened to me before. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, yours truly had his shirt stolen from him on Friday night…while he was wearing it! No, games are not being played in a bad neighborhood, rather, the theft happened out of necessity by a dear friend.

I am coaching two teams this time, one in each division, and because my senior team is orange, I thought it would be cool if we showed some solidarity and I wore orange with them. This fateful decision led me to wear a bright orange San Francisco Giants t-shirt on Friday night. It seemed as if there would be no drama, until Ann-Margret came to me with the horrifying news that one of my players, a girl who missed the first two games due to a broken foot, had forgotten her shirt at home. No problem, right? The kids know each other and we could survive a couple of games without her wearing a jersey? No! Because we decided to adopt a strict policy that players must have their own shirts, which led us turning away someone else on the first night for the same reason, we could not bend the rules this one time. Okay, there is still an easy solution: take an orange shirt from someone on one of the junior teams and let her borrow it. Well, a complication arises, since this girl is the female version of Goliath. A search ensued, as adults with college degrees scoured the school for an elusive orange shirt, but alas, it was all to no avail. Enter yours truly. Who is the only person in the building wearing an orange shirt big enough to fit her? Voila! Me! I knew there would be trouble when Ann-Marget came over and said, “You have another shirt under that, right?” Knowing immediately where this was going, and trying my best to save my shirt, I told her that it was a sweaty, wrinkled undershirt (which was the truth) and that I would not wear it by itself. This annoyed her, which sent her on another hunt for the next twenty minutes.

A little while later, I was confronted by she who will not be named, whose complexion had turned crimson. She pulled me outside, and after some convincing (and threats to do bodily harm), she magically pulled a black shirt from behind her back. It belonged to one of the other mother’s brothers (try saying that five times fast), who left it in her car. Problem solved yet? Sort of. The shirt, which was marked a men’s XL, was so tight that I felt as if I was a woman from Victorian England slipping into a corset before afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches. I was scolded, severely, by multiple parties, for caring so much about my appearance when I said that it did not fit. “You’re fine!” all of these mothers told me, no doubt enjoying my plight. I looked at myself in the mirror and thanked God that I had lost 35 pounds since January, or else this thing that they called a shirt would not have fit around my arm. It was so tight, I told them, that I could smell what this gentleman had eaten for breakfast, which probably was not much because of how damned tight it was.

Anyway, the night was saved as I bit the bullet and wore the shirt. The girl went on to play very well, and they all lived happily ever after and sang Kumbaya when it was done. Now to the real stuff, the reason why we are here: hockey. Let’s just say my two teams are complete opposites of each other. My juniors, the Checkers, do not know a blue line from a clothes line, and I sometimes wonder if they even know what planet we are on, save for three players who were on the team last year when we won the championship. At 0-3-1 with 11 goals against and only 2 goals scored, I think it is safe to say we are playing the rest of the season for fun (though they tell me that is the only reason why are playing to begin with). I don’t understand all this, “It’s just a game” nonsense. Yes, as coaches we are supposed to take it seriously, but you mean to tell me the players don’t care? They do, and they want to win, but my problem is that I have a very good shooter and a very good goalie who can also shoot. Because I have no backup, that means he stays in net, and therefore, we have only one person that can score. As you very well may gather, it is hard to win a game by yourself. So essentially, we do not score and therefore, we cannot win. I’m pretty sure Confucius said something about that.

My seniors, who are named the Wolfpack, meanwhile, are 4-0-0 with 15 goals scored and only 1 goal allowed, my leading scorer having 11 goals himself. The team is so good, that we actually made a trade to shake things up a bit and even the teams, which sends Vinny’s son, who I had last season when we tore it up, to another team. I did not like this move, but it was something that needed to be done, and I am waiting to see who I will be getting. They do everything I ask of them, but still need a little bit of work. I can see a good season ahead, I just hope they can keep it up when the playoffs roll around. Now it is time for some observations that I have gathered in the four games I have coached this season. By the time this all ends, I fully believe I will have enough material to write a book:

  • Never answer a 3rd grader’s question with, “It depends”. It will only create an onslaught of further questions asking, “On what?” that won’t stop until your head explodes. Remember, these children are clever and will get what they want in the end. Your best bet is just to lie.
  • Small children cannot understand the concept of pulling the goalie for an extra attacker. Telling them, “He needed to take a nap.” will only prompt further intrigue.
  • Teaching a history class to a group of your hockey players allows them to indeed discover that you know words other than “Shoot!” and “Clear it!”.
  • When a 1st and 4th grader accidentally collide, the 4th grader will get up first every time.
  • The sport of hockey makes people do extraordinary things. Just ask a girl on my senior team who had a broken foot on Monday and played on Friday.
  • Confucius say, “Score no goals, win no games.”
  • Conversation of the week: George: “Why is she crying?” Me: “I don’t know.” George: “That’s okay, I cry every night too.” Me: “If we don’t score a goal in the next five minutes, I’ll be joining the both of you.”
  • Sarcasm works in practice for a struggling team, but only if you are a 50-year old Brooklynite named George: “Ooh! Ooh! A puck! Somebody want to play hockey? Nobody played on Monday night!”
  • Allowing a 5th grader to be an assistant coach on your junior team will ensure that he is yelling louder than you by the end of the game.
  • Words of wisdom between me and my little assistant: Steve: “What do I do?” Me: “You’ve heard me coach before. Just yell random words when we have the puck.” Steve: “Okay…elephant!” Me: “You might want to try ‘Get it to the net’ next time.”
  • On to a more serious note, the New Jersey Devils have once again come through for us, this time sending us Jim Dowd for our Hockey Cares! event that will take place on September 24. The area surrounding the school was hit pretty hard by the hurricane, and all proceeds (which include admission and various contests) will go directly to the American Red Cross. Please stop by—you don’t need to be a member to get in!