It is the second week of April and most Canadian males' minds have turned to one thing and one thing only: hockey playoffs. The stereotype of the beer-guzzling, hockey-worshiping, loudmouth drunk Canuck is so appropriate and true, especially at this "crucial" part of the year. I witnessed at least eight tables of eight guys readying their playoff pools at the tavern every day last week during my daily three-pint lunch breaks. For those that don't follow the sport, or won't admit to liking it because they have to portray that played-out "I like music and art so I hate sports and jocks" routine (psst, the days of clinging to your high school mindset is over), it is a particularly difficult time of the year, because it is the beginning of a period where partners get the chance to see a whole new suck-hole side to their worse halves.

It would be hypocritical of me to pretend I'm any different from the retread brethren that I would ordinarily loathe to share air with or sit next to on the bus at this time of the year. I secretly love playoff hockey and all that it brings. Expert opinions and stats about the great game spew from the most unlikely of mouths (thanks for the percentage of face-offs won and the corresponding series win ratio, Sheila from the Accounting Dept.!), conversations dissecting minute gameplay ("picking pucks out of mid-air is a science; protecting the puck along the dasher boards is an artform... get it right!"), and grand nonsense statement making ("if so-and-so don't pull out this game 2 win, I'm literally going to set his whole place on fire and then piss it out!") are standard EVERYDAY in any Canadian city that has a pro team lucky enough to have made it into the "second season." As is the chance you will see someone come close to kicking in a flat screen bar TV after a rough loss. Aye, aye, these are truly golden days.

This year, there is something different in the air. I'm still excited to meet up with friends and watch a game, but the fire is subdued and smoldering, not passionate and fiery. Something is beckoning me to spend more time alone, at home, in my bedroom working on more creative pursuits and listening to far-out psych-folk masterpieces (preferably sung in foreign tongue). I keep having visions of distant Nordic lands and have spent an inordinate amount of time reading works by Aleksis Kivi, Mika Waltari, and Väinö Linna. This spring marks the return of Islaja, and that is surely more important than any sporting past-time!

Islaja is Merja Kokkonen and Ulual Yyy is her third solo outing for Fonal. It contains nine tracks of cottage industry-created, multi-tracked, outsider loveliness that the Finnish folkie furnishes. I am not sure what the songs below mean, but I love to rock the umlauts! It is a pity that most of the Scandinavian and German players lose 'em from their names before they hit the National Hockey League.

1. Kutsukaa sydäntä
2. Sydänten ahmija
3. Pete P
4. Laulu jo menneestä
5. Pysähtyneet planeetat
6. Muusimaa
7. Varjokuvastin
8. Muukalais-silmä
9. Suru ei

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