OK, so it's the Olympic break.
There's no NHL hockey on television and frankly, you're worried about going a little squirrely. Sure you could watch some tapes of old hockey games or rebuild that relationship with your kids by playing some street hockey, but we both know that's not likely to happen.
First off, the tapes are Beta (idiot) and your kid hasn't forgiven for you for the last time you beaned him in the head with a slapshot (four year olds just aren't that tough these days).
You could round up some friends and catch some of the action from Torino (chug one every time the announcer says Â“LiechtensteinÂ”), but men watching other men in tight spandex can do something to a guy and you don't want to go there again.
So what's a hockey fan to do to fill up his free time?
Well, you could read.
No, don't laugh it off. I know, for most of you, reading ended sometime soon after Curious George was apprehended by The Man in The Yellow Hat, but remember it's a lot like riding a bicycle. Speed and comprehension improve the faster you pedal.
There are lots of hockey books out there with enough of a subject range to satisfy even the most discerning fan. And to help guide you through this puzzling maze of written material, I have prepared you a little recommended list.
You might find it more interesting than what you first thought. At the very least, read the dust jacket, check out the author's bio and dog-ear a couple of pages.
The mere fact you physically picked up a book will win points with your wife or that cute chick who frequents that coffee shop you're too cheap to buy from.
Two Dicks, by Dick Irvin Jr.
The heartwarming biography of Dick Irvin and his famous father Dick Sr., who coached the Montreal Canadiens in the '30sÂ…or was it the '40s? The two travel across America on motorcycle taking in the sites and learning a lot about the difference between a tailpipe and a Buddhist tailpipe.
Bruce McNall's Guide to a Better You, by Bruce McNall
Although it was first printed in 1990, the advice is still prudent today. Learn how to buy real estate with only 31 cents and a paper clip. Discover why a dark suit and a wad of cash is more slimming than simply a dark suit. And why tech stocks are foolproof investments. (Also see his 1998 book, Smokes and Roll Call: Poetry from The Heart and The Pen)
Ron Duguay's Big Book of Hair Design, by Ron Duguay
Have you always been a blonde trapped in a brunette's body or do you think there is such a thing as an Afro Comb Over? Former Ranger Duguay's first journey into publishing is entertaining, informative and yes, very funny.
Where Have All The Flappers Gone? A Memoir by Bill Wirtz
Wirtz reminisces romantically about his days of yore. Relive the first five centuries of his life and his longing for simpler times when men were men and large rocks killed Pterodactyls.
Play Hockey My Way, by Dave Schultz
For a three-page book it certainly leaves you with something to think about. I think my favorite part is his advice about fighting and how hockey sticks aren't that much different than spears. There's also something in there about punching and knuckle maintenance. I was lucky enough to get a drooled on copy but I haven't been able to verify its authenticity yet.
Hockey's Wild Animal Adventure, by various authors
The NHL's first venture into National Geographic and Audubon territory. A huge reference manual to life in the animal world. Go searching for weasels with Ulf Samuelsson and Mike Ribeiro. Check out Alexei Yashin's interesting guide to the elusive white elephant. And Patrick Lalime provides an invaluable resource to those (like me) who have trouble telling their goats apart.
Where's Mikey, by Mike Keenan
A really fun Pop-Up Book. Think Mike's in St. Louis? Try checking Vancouver. Still can't find him? Try looking a little East (but you didn't hear that from me!)
Year of the Acorn, by James Frey
In this purely fictional tale, a hockey team named The Acorns, complete a heavenly season by winning their fans a championship after almost forty years of waiting. Led by their Swiss captain Mattias Sunbeam, the Acorns complete the impossible and bring supremacy back to the hockey-mad city. A compelling story, although you may have to fight that gag reflex occasionally, especially when team ownership vows Â“we may not make money but you can't put a price on winningÂ”. Of course with Mr. Frey we've come to expect a little fluff.
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Tuesday and Thursday, only on thehockeynews.com.
Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org