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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Clear The Track - Here Comes The Cat

Back when I was a kid, one of the most famous hockey players was a guy named Eddie Shack. He may not have been the most skilled hockey player, but he sure was entertaining. It's why his nickname was The Entertainer.

Eddie (I can't call him Shack) was fun to watch on the ice and off the ice, as in both instances one never quite knew just what The Entertainer was going to get up to next.

He helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967, was a three-time All Star... and sadly I only caught him towards the end of his career.

Here’s an example of what life with Eddie on the ice was like, however:

“I didn’t need an excuse, I’d had a thing going with Eddie Shack for a long time,” recalls Philadelphia Flyer Eddie Zeidel recounting a 1967-68 hockey game between his Flyers and Shack's Boston Bruins.

“The last time we were in Boston, the two of us had bumped during the warmup.  I figured it was time to balance the books. So I went to the game like a kamikaze.”

See... another Japanese connection! Kamikaze!

In the opening minutes of that particular hockey game, Eddie Shack and Zeidel collided and traded insults. Later in the first period, they again came together along the boards and Zeidel swung his stick and opened a three-stitch cut on The Entertainer’s head. Enraged, Eddie began to swing his stick at Zeidel’s head—some seven times. Zeidel, in a defensive posture held his stick horizontally in front of his face, somehow managing to escape the frenzy with only a three-stitch cut on his scalp.

Hockey aside, I did see Eddie do TV commercials.

The one that sticks out (and maybe this is the only one he did). it was to show the toughness of a Glad home garbage bag.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a video of it.

In a mock kitchen, a filled garbage bag is suspended via rope from the ceiling (like it is in everyday life). Eddie, besides his skills in carving up the opposition with his hockey stick, was also a renowned pugilist (fighter). 

The commercial called for Eddie to come out and punch at the garbage bag as though it was something akin to what you might find at a boxing gym…

There he is in the commercial, trying to beat the crap out of a full garbage bag (because obviously a tough guy like Eddie Shack wouldn’t have a problem in tearing a new one in a plastic garbage bag, right?

Eventually, after punching the bag multiple times, he gives up, but returns with a frenzied kick (I believe - maybe it was a stupidly hard punch) finally tearing a hole in the bag, as the garbage falls to the ground.

It was funny… as the commercial pretty much says it’s tough enough for whatever the average joe can throw at it without dumping a mess, but maybe we shouldn’t attack it or have Eddie Shack around.

I am working off 40+ years of memory here...

Before his commercial uprising, Eddie was the inspiration for a rock and roll pop song called 
Clear The Track, Here Comes Shack a catchy tune by Douglas Rankine and The Secrets in 1966.

That song is why I created the title for this blog article above...weird how some things stick in your head. Or my head, as the case seems to be.

Oh yeah, and if you look at the image at the very top of this article, you’ll see a pink shinkansen (bullet train).

The West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) will launch a Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen on its Sanyo Shinkansen Line between Osaka and Fukuoka this summer (2018).

The Kodama train will feature Sanrio Co.’s popular kitten character who can be purchased by companies looking looking to better market whatever product or brand they want to market. Hello Kitty don't care... she just wants the money.

Its design was inspired by Hello Kitty’s trademark red ribbon, which describes JR West’s desire to enhance ties between regions with shinkansen services in western Japan, the company said.

The train will pull eight 500-series cars... but a unique feature - besides being plastered with Hello Kitty graphics, is there will be a grand total of zero passenger seats in car No. 1, which will be dedicated to sales of local specialties. Car No. 2 will have full Hello Kitty decorations. I believe Cars 3-8 will have the standard bullet train seating.

I would imagine that if you are sitting in Car No. 2, not only will you get to pay extra for your seat, but you will also have access to Car No. 1 and its "local specialties"... what do you suppose "local specialties" are... I mean the freaking distance between Fukuoka and Osaka is a stunning 613.3 kilometers (381.1 miles), as it crosses the west coast of Japan.... which local specialties will it be? Food, drink, Kit Kat bars? Does the locality of it all encompass one of the following cities: Osaka? Kobe? Hiroshima? Kitakyushu? Fukuoka? Parts in between? Will it all have a Hello Kitty branding to it?

I guess we'll have to wait and see...

By the way... that image showing the bullet train at the top of this article... that's NOT what the train will look like. At this time, it is merely a conceptual image representing what the Hello Kitty shinkansen may look like.   

In the mean time, JR West put out this sorta promotional animated video:

So yeah... clear the track, here comes the Cat.

Andrew Joseph

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