Q. During a recent Blues hockey game, Kelly Chase and Chris Kerber played a CD by "Stompin' Tom" Connors, a Canadian singer-songwriter. They said this song, called "The Hockey Game," is played at all Toronto Maple Leafs games. They said Connors had passed away the day before. How could I get this CD?
-- Marie Haney, of Highland
A. Music fans across Canada today may be secretly hoping that "Stompin' Tom" Connors died unhappy March 6.
While that sounds like a terrible thing to wish, they may be remembering what the popular folksinger once said: "I think people should die without their dreams being fulfilled, so maybe they can have an excuse for coming around again."
Because if there's one musician many would like to see come back, it's Stompin' Tom, a dyed-in-the-wool Canadian who proudly wrapped himself in the Maple Leaf as he wrote more than 300 songs for 50 albums that have sold 4 million copies.
He probably is best known in the U.S. for "The Hockey Game," his paean to Canada's official national winter sport. At many NHL rinks, you can hear him sing, "Now the final flick of a hockey stick, and the one gigantic scream: 'The puck is in!' The home team wins the good old hockey game!"
But Connors never was interested in extending his popularity outside his native land. Instead, his songs celebrate the struggles of average Canadian Joes, such as "Sudbury Saturday Night": "The girls are out to bingo and the boys are getting stinko and we'll think no more of Inco (International Nickel Co.) on a Sudbury Saturday night." After his death, members of Parliament gathered in Ottawa to sing "Bud the Spud," his tribute to truck drivers.
He had lived what he wrote. Born to an unwed teen, Tom was bounced around during his early years until finally being adopted. But at 15, he took his guitar and spent the next 13 years hitchhiking across Canada, often literally singing for his supper.
In his autobiography, "Stompin' Tom: Before the Fame," he wrote that he welcomed vagrancy arrests because he would have a warm place to sleep. At one point, he felt so despondent that he considered freezing himself to death in a Quebec snowbank.
His break finally came in 1964. According to the legend he told, he was at a hotel in Timmons, Ontario, and was a nickel short for a beer. The bartender offered to trade him a drink for a few songs. He says that led to a 14-month engagement at the hotel and a chance to make records at the local radio station.
His career soon started taking off and, on July 1, 1967, a waiter at the King George Tavern in Peterborough, Ontario, introduced him as "Stompin' Tom" Connors because of his penchant for loudly pounding his left heel to keep rhythm in noisy halls.
He was so proud of the nickname that he later auctioned off his "stompin' boards" for charity. (At least one brought in $11,000). And he became so disgusted over the Americanization of Canadian music that he quit for nearly a decade after 1978 in protest.
You'll find plenty of his music to keep your own foot stompin' at amazon.com, including "Stompin' Tom and the Hockey Song" and "25 of the Best." You'll also find a wide array of books and CDs at his website, www.stompintom.com.
Q. Why is the movie "The Impossible" not playing at theaters in our area?
-- Lois, of Red Bud
A. Reminds me of a funny skit the late comic "Brother" Dave Gardner did.
There was a big show coming to town, so they put up a billboard saying "It's coming!" The following day people saw "Don't miss it!" The next day it read "It's phenomenal!" The fourth day came and the sign said, "Almost here!" Then, the very next day before anyone ever saw it, the sign read, "It's gone!"
Seems to me that movies are becoming more and more like this. Hollywood buries us for weeks in a publicity blitz about some blockbuster coming down the pike. Then, before it finishes a two- or three-week run, we're already gearing up for the Next Big Thing.
Remember when "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with Harrison Ford played for more than a year at the old Ritz Theatre in Belleville? From June 12, 1981, to July 1, 1982, it was shown every single day. In April, Barbara Kobe received hundreds of dollars in prizes for being the 50,000th viewer to attend here.
That won't be possible for "The Impossible." After opening around the country Jan. 11, it played at The Edge in Belleville from Feb. 1-14. Now, it's no longer even in St. Louis so you'll have to wait for the DVD -- or drive to Chicago.
The name of what material comes from a French phrase meaning "cloth of the king"?
Answer to Saturday's trivia: A tip of the Answer Man brain to Joy Roberts for correctly knowing that High Street is the most popular street name in England. It's usually the most commercial street in a town -- the equivalent of Main Street in the U.S.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org.