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1999 November 21 : November means football playoffs

I am on the plane again, getting back from a week in Boston, where I lived revbox for a week. revbox has this sort of awkward structure where the main office is in SF, but all the techies but me are in Boston -- accident of history -- and so the purpose of my visit was to get to know the people I'm working for and with. To this end, I learned that Steve (our CTO) loves to play Santa Claus and can easily be tempted into an impromptu lecture on Fourier analysis; that HB (my team leader, I suppose you would call him) has a keen sense of obligation and a honed expertise at Starcraft; and that the people I'm working with are pretty sharp generally. It was a good week. <% cr_cdots %> I met Michael and Nomi for dinner while I was in Boston, and afterward we browsed a bookstore for a bit. I found what has to be the perfect book: The Complete Idiot's Guide to: Being Psychic. <% cr_cdots %> I visited Mark last night, stopping off in Toronto on my way back from Boston to SF. We wound up watching a couple of football games -- a CIAU semi-final yesterday (Laval beat Saskatchewan), and the CFL Eastern Final today (Hamilton beat Montreal). Two really good games.

It was interesting to see the Canadian game again, after many years of nothing but American football. It's much more of a big-play game -- the field is ten yards longer, ten or fifteen wider, the end zones are twenty or twenty-five yards deep, and there's only one extra player on the field to cover all this space. At the same time, you get only three downs, not four, which means drives either charge forward quickly or not at all. I like the rhythm -- at least, I like it when teams are playing well, like they were this weekend.

That, and I get a nostalgic kick out of hearing penalty calls like "illegal procedure" (ie, offensive offside) and "no yards" (failure to give the punt receiver room to catch the ball -- there's no wussy "fair catch" rule in Canadian football).

The CFL seems to be doing better these days. The weird story is that just maybe a U2 concert saved Canadian football. A couple of years ago, after the Alouettes first returned to Montreal, they made the playoffs, and somehow failed to have reserved Olympic Stadium for the date of the game: U2 was playing. So instead they moved up the hill and played the game in the open air on top of Mount Royal in the McGill university stadium -- and so instead of playing to a crowd of maybe 15,000 in a cavernously half-empty arena, they played to 12,000 in a sold-out, jam-packed one. They haven't gone back to Olympic Stadium since, and Montreal has gone from being the sick man of Canadian football to the best venue in the league, and now Toronto and Vancouver are considering similar moves. Funny how things change.

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