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The Colonel poses for a photo in his Dōtonbori domicile with a friendly undersea invertebrate. Did you know the plural of "octopus" is NOT "octopi?" David sure didn't! Technically speaking, "Octopuses" is the correct plural agreement, though certain linguists (read: assholes) hold "Octopodes" as closer to the etymological Greek. Graphic by David King.

Dear David: Help! I've Been Cursed

Written by
David King
and
and
November 22, 2023
Dear David: Help! I've Been Cursed
The Colonel poses for a photo in his Dōtonbori domicile with a friendly undersea invertebrate. Did you know the plural of "octopus" is NOT "octopi?" David sure didn't! Technically speaking, "Octopuses" is the correct plural agreement, though certain linguists (read: assholes) hold "Octopodes" as closer to the etymological Greek. Graphic by David King.

Dear David,

I’m not doing so well this time of year, and I’m convinced I’ve been hexed. Do you have any solutions to share? Even a mere potion/elixir to take my mind off of the horrors? 

Best, 

Bedevilled on Brock

Howdy, neighbour!

Out of all the Trivial Pursuit knowledge I have jam-packed into my little rat brain, curses and superstitions are definitely within the Top Ten areas of David expertise. Unfortunately for you, they are all sports-related, because that’s all boys like to talk about: vaping, sports, and Fiona Apple. 

I hope to soothe your aching soul with the balm of suffering sports fans. As someone who is somehow compelled to follow failing teams, I too veer to the supernatural to explain the bedevilments of mismanaged multi-million dollar franchises. Just look at Oakland Athletics! They are clearly experiencing a cosmic punishment for their Moneyball hubris. I think schadenfreude is rather healing, so take a seat in the Arthur therapist’s chaise lounge, lay back, and let the misery of others wash over you. I’m definitely qualified. 

Speaking of the ball game, baseball is chock full of superstitions and bespoke lore, because us fans love to blame outside forces for human error and hold grudges for decades at a time. My favourite among this absolute swath is the Curse of the Colonel, a curse that befell Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team Hanshin Tigers for almost 38 years. 

In 1985, the Colonel’s ghost damned the team to an eighteen year playoff drought that would forbid the Tigers from another Pennant win (NPB’s version of the Division Series) after a statue of the KFC founder was chucked into the Dōtonbori river by fans before the Tigers’ last Pennant win. Even after the statue was fished out in 2009, it was only this year that the curse was fully lifted with Hanshin’s first title win in 38 years. The curse was so bad that Tigers fans took to throwing a Colonel Sanders cosplayer into the same river in sacrificial celebration. Go Tigers! 

On the topic of sea creatures, this brings me to my next favourite sports tradition: the Legend of the Octopus, an infamous ritual performed by Detroit Red Wings fans whenever the hockey team has home playoff games. Fans would throw dead octopodes onto the ice, with the invertebrates' many tentactles initially signifying the eight games it would take for the team to win a Stanley Cup. This number later changed to sixteen, so fans started throwing more dead molluscs onto the rink. 

There’s a wild compilation of equally notorious Don Cherry–in what looks to be in his heel era–grabbing a sopping wet octopus and hollering unintelligibly about the Wings. It’s really something to behold.

The NHL hated this one so much that they started to punish perpetrators, even going as far as to charge the Red Wings a $10,000 fine when then-ice manager Al Sobotka twirled an octopus above his head in 2008. 

All this to say that I personally loved the NHL’s Attitude Era. During this period, my favourite hockey player, Peterborough Petes alum Tie Domi, solidified his place in NHL history by getting into 333 spats over his career, making him the all-time leader for fights. Make a wish! This statistic brings positivity, spirituality and mental peace, as well as abundance in life. 

Enough about you. As a kid, I would frequently try to emulate Domi in my short-lived hockey career, throwing off my gloves in spectacular frustration whenever I would be slighted by another player. It’s safe to say I easily rivalled Domi’s leadership in penalty minutes, as I spent most of my ice time in the box for this behaviour. My dad loved to film these instances: there is a very infamous home video of me tearfully beckoning the ref over to “tell my dad to stop filming.” 

Needless to say, my heel turn was reversed when my parents threatened to cut me off from postgame Tim Hortons hot chocolate. I am truly a creature solely guided by treats. 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Unfortunately, not all curses, urban legends, or lore made it into this iteration of my column. I would like to make note of the following bedevilments for their notoriety, but not enough to make the cut for Dear David

  • Bill Barilko’s Bones: Best eulogised by Gord Downie, the Toronto Maple Leafs did not win a Stanley Cup until they found the player’s remains after he went missing on that fateful fishing trip with his dentist. I didn’t include this one because I e-dated a guy that looked like Bashin’ Bill.
  • Curse of the Bambino: After the Babe was sold off in 1920, the Boston Red Sox had an epic 86-year championship drought. It’s not a particular favourite of mine, but I respect its longevity, and my life-long enemy Pete Rose got tombstoned by Kane at Wrestlemania XIV because he made light of the curse. 
  • The Montreal Screwjob: Guys love to talk about this and how The Undertaker threw Mankind off Hell In A Cell and plummeted 16 feet through an announcer's table in 1998. The Screwjob refers to the outcome of a WWE championship match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart in 1997, where WWF officials (including the despicable Vince McMahon) tampered with the predetermined results of the match, which saw Michaels win without Hart’s knowledge. This has haunted the legitimacy of WWE for over 25 years, so it absolutely qualifies as a curse.

Here’s one last bowl of cosmic chicken noodle soup for your spirit’s consumption: you should be grateful you are afflicted with just a regular curse. Just go see a soothsayer or something. Figure things out for yourself, you degenerate liberal! 

Dear David is a monthly advice column that posits itself as the alpha and omega of knowledge; the absolute last bastion, where all questions go to die, but not if David has anything to say about it. Arthur Journalist David King is the expert, the vanguardist pillar of this endeavour, and your question will be answered, but at a cost.

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