Maxed out 

All gravy, all the time

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Whew. Made it. Barely.

In its 14-year run, there has never been a year when the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival rollin' into view has been a more blessed relief. This season needs a kick-out-the-stops wrapup party like no season before. Bring it on.

While not given to prognostications - exception: there's gonna be a stink about the profligate, drunken sailor spending at muni hall that'll make Kenny wish he was still an environmental crusader instead of... whatever it is he's morphed into - I'll confidently make this prediction. This year, this WSSF: all gravy, all the time, baby.

If that makes even less sense than most of what I write, congratulations. You are so completely tuned out of popular culture that you're probably leading a righteous life. Two weeks ago - dare I say, actor - Billy Bob Thornton pissed Canadians off from coast to coast to coast when he drew on all his skills as an actor to play a sullen, possibly deranged four-year-old throwing a tantrum on CBC radio. Among his other cultural transgressions, Billy Knob claimed Canadian audiences were like mashed potatoes without gravy.

Context is everything. Billy Slob was birthed in Hot Springs, Arkansas (Motto: Whatcha'll starin' at!). Being of the South, where hospitality is held in at least as high regard as inbreeding, a woman would be thought of as trailer trash if she denigrated her guests or family by serving mashed potatoes without gravy. Put another way, gravyless taters in the South are up there on par with shoe-tossing at visiting dignitaries in Iraq... except committing this particular transgression wouldn't make you a folk hero around the world.

The uncomfortably sad reality lost in the ensuing national outrage is this: With few exceptions, Canadian audiences can, in fact, be a great deal like mashed potatoes without gravy. Now before you go all viral on me and start lobbing icicles my direction, let me just say I love mashed potatoes without gravy. I mostly eat mashed potatoes without gravy. Holding the gravy is way healthier for you and will dramatically cut down on your dry cleaning bills and consultations with cardiac surgeons.

I have learned that Canadian audiences are, how shall I say this, somewhat composed, restrained even. Naturally, I learned that the hard way. When I was still a raw, somewhat obnoxious American, I spent a whole summer wallowing gloriously within the tomblike confines of Montreal's Big Owe. When I moved there in 1979, the Expos were a pretty hot baseball team. The frigid right field seats were a buck. The subway stop was underneath the stadium. And, best of all, stadium security didn't care what you brought in with you. So for a subway ticket, one dollar and a knapsack full of beer and peanuts, I would waste an afternoon watching baseball. Hog heaven for an unemployed illegal immigrant.

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