ICE HOCKEY SELF DISCIPLINE AND EASTER: RANDOM THOUGHTS

By Skeptik Sinikian

I need to start off with an apology to all my readers. Last week I introduced a new idea called Skeptik’s New Rules and the abbreviation throughout the piece appeared as "SNL" instead of "SNR." Now my editors are supposed to catch mistakes like that but God bless them–they actually took my word for it this time and left it as it is (If only they’d practice that behavior more often). So I’m claiming my own mistake and admitting that the L in SNL stands for Loser. I had a momentary lapse in spelling and grammar which is not too uncommon in my creative realm but which usually slips under the radar undetected. Not this time however? and my readers made sure of that. So one more collective "I’m sorry" and "Thank you." There. We are done. Let’s move on.

I almost forgot that there was one more unrelated portion of this week’s column. This is a plug for a loyal reader known only as "Hrair" who asked me to promote the Armenian Ice Hockey Team’s fundraiser this weekend at the Pickwick Ice Rink in Burbank. I have to admit that when I read his headline of "Armenia v. Turkey in Iceland" I didn’t know what to think and thought it was one of the many SPAM emails I receive and get ticked off about. But sure enough–this was an actual email from a reader and he is part of an Armenian Ice Hockey Team trying to raise funds to go and participate in a showdown against the Republic of Turkey. Here’s a portion of his email:

"Hey Skep–Before I tell u the reason for my e mail–I just want to say that I love seeing ur editorial on the pages of Asbarez every Saturday. Thanks for vending the frustration of many Armenian Americans. I just want to let u know about a fundraiser this weekend at 10 pm at Pickwick Burbank. It’s a $5 fundraiser to help the Armenian Ice Hockey team have enough funds to fly to Iceland. The International Ice Hockey Federation is having its annual Ice Hockey games in Reykjavik–Iceland beginning on April 24th. The first game is between the countries of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey on April 24th at 4 pm. I don’t know about this year–but last year Armenia ranked # 45 out of 45 countries that participated in the games. I hope you will can post this on your blog and maybe make your readers aware of the upcoming fundraiser and game."

Hrair jan–consider it done! Tell Bjork I say "hello" when you see her in Iceland and as for the game–kick some Turkish butt for all of us! If anyone has any questions about the details (like which day this weekend the event will be) just email Hrair at Mario_00_00@yahoo.com.

By the way–can anyone tell me when it will stop raining? This is Southern California and it’s supposed to only rain three days out of the year here! What is going on? I’m sorry–that was the sugar high that took over. I’ve been eating nothing but Cadbury Easter Eggs for the last three days straight because one of my coworkers blackmailed me into buying boxes of candy from her daughter’s Elementary school fundraiser. Right now–I’m sitting in front of my computer–eyes completely glazed over–unshaven–disheveled–and my mouth area covered in chocolate stains like some sort of insane clown. It’s not a pretty sight. I’m really jittery and have the attention span of a hummingbird on three double shots of espresso! Let’s seriously try to move on?

I was at a loss for a topic idea this week. I didn’t know what to write about or comment on. I always reach this literary impasse every April as I’m faced with the challenge of saying something that hasn’t been said in the last 91 years or trying to be clever with the obvious. Neither of these are challenges that I feel quite up to. I asked some of my readers during an online session what I should write about. I got some great ideas and some you’ll see in future articles. (The Church came up more than any other topic and pretty soon–we’ll have to talk about the white elephant sitting in the middle of the room.) But in the meantime–I thought I’d digress and write about something that had to do with tolerance–temperance–and self discipline. After all–it is April and that means Easter and April 24–both days that signify rebirth and commitment to eradicating evil from our lives. Both are days that require us to focus on Christian values like self discipline–temperance and such.

In spite of their thematic similarities–all too often Easter takes a back seat to the more immediate–Armenian-specific Genocide recognition efforts. That’s too bad considering the message that Easter bears for Christians and seeing as to how Armenia’s were massacred by the Turks in large part but not solely because we were Christian. There’s a greater connection here and one that we need to focus on and apply to our April 24 rituals of demonstration and activism. Easter is preceded by Lent–which when I was a kid–thought it was called Lent because all we ate in our house was Lentil soup or "Vospi abour." I still don’t know where Lent comes from nor do I understand why Good Friday is called Good Friday but I DO know that Lent is marked by depriving yourself for 40 days from something that you derive pleasure from. It’s a way for men and women to control their desires and for at least a month or so walk in the steps of Jesus Christ.

This idea of deprivation during Lent is an interesting concept and in a lot of Armenian traditional homes–it means going completely vegan for forty days. That means eating NOTHING that comes from an animal for forty days. That’s insane! If I go more than a week without eating cheese–I start feeling like I should move to Santa Cruz–start growing an "herb garden" in my basement–listen to Grateful Dead albums and change my name to something like "Moonbeam" or "Morning Dew." But alas–this has been a tradition that’s been followed for centuries amongst Armenia’s. Or it was? until? Well–let me paint a clearer picture for you–if you were to come to Glendale–home of the largest Armenian population outside of the former Soviet Republics and you were to say–I don’t know? go to ANY Armenian banquet hall during the 40 days preceding Easter–you would find that NO ONE follows the vegan ways of the Armenian ancients. What you will find is bands of chubby cherub like men with five o’clock shadows–drinking themselves silly with vodka (that’s still vegan I guess) and stuffing their sweating jowls with barbecued pork or chicken or beef. AND JUST IN CASE anyone is even THINKING of getting on their high horse and blaming this on the most recent immigran’s (this is a code word for our poor blame-them-for-everything Hayastantsis) then just go visit Raffi’s Kebab (Glendale’s own Iranian Armenian Social Club) or Carousel Restaurant (The Beirutsi–Hallebtsi–Western Armenian equivalent) and you will find the same problems.

The reason I bring this lack of self discipline up is because I am noticing it more with the older generation of Armenia’s. This year–more than any previous year–I am noticing younger kids take on the daunting 40 day gauntlet known as "Lent" or "Bak" or "Bas" or whatever the heck people call it nowadays. Two years ago–if I asked someone why they weren’t eating meat during the month of March or April–they would have responded to me that they haven’t eaten meat in 2 years since that special on Oprah on beef or that they are on some sort of modified reverse Atkins diet. This year–I had at least seven people tell me that they were actively trying to adhere to the Armenian Christian traditions. And the response I’ve heard from most people hasn’t been "Oh my God–are you insane? Why are you doing that to yourself?" but rather an inquisitive desire to find out more about these time honored centuries old traditions. That’s good news. Let’s just hope that our Church doesn’t just take that to mean that there are more suckers willing to make large donations to the church coffers.

We need to embrace all the strengths of our Christian faith if we’re going to make it through another year of Turkish denial and fight for justice. So this weekend–when you’re playing your egg games and having your Easter lunches or dinners and finally breaking your Lenten fast–remember that you’ve come out of this stronger and that leading by example is the best way to lead. Those are my thoughts for this week–from self-discipline to ice hockey and back–until next time–stay classy!

Skeptik Sinikian is an aspiring couples ice-dancer who hopes to translate his grace on ice to the hockey rink and participate in next year’s Ice Hockey tournament in Iceland. Plus–he’s always really really wanted to go to Iceland. If you have any questions–you can email him at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com or visit his blog at www.sinikian.blogspot.com.

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