Wednesday, October 26, 2016


As Mekkar grew and became further advanced for his age, both in body and mind, he was required to experience integral certain cultural rituals. One was such that occurred when Mekkar reached the age of 4. Mekkar felt he was ready for the induction ceremony, as he had seen a previous similar one beforehand. This ceremony existed for a few reasons that he couldn't figure out. Mekkar would fully understand later on in adulthood, that this ceremony began an experience and process for cultural and "self-life preservation". While at the same time, come out of a need for practical reasons.

The feeling was that in a nomadic culture, if one, no matter how small, young, or insignificant they thought a person seemed - that individual had to contribute to the tribe, in a physical manner, as part of a whole. The thinking was that if each part “pulled their weight" the whole would go with increasing smoothness. Otherwise, non-contributors would become a burden to entire group and negatively affect the collective.

Thus, the reasons behind why those who are so physically or mentally challenged, the infirm, and those too old to contribute are left behind. Usually, left to freeze to their last breath in the winter or sent to any relatives outside the region that can accommodate them. This selective Darwinism is according to the nomadic cultural thinking necessary for survival of the whole tribe. Otherwise, like a domino effect, those who cannot pull their own weight can put the whole group in grave danger and cause unnecessary suffering.

Although this application of selective Darwinism is considered cruel by modern society, the opposite affect could be total annihilation for the whole group. The reasoning behind this was that the surrounding Arctic environment is so fragile. It is quick to reattribute against such problems such as over-population through lack of food supply. Mekkar listened to, but did not comprehend, these words during the nightly sauna discussions by the leaders of the tribe.

Many methods of action, carried out by a collection of a certain society's members, are attributed through their cultural beliefs and environment. Another basic belief by the tribe was that you only take what is needed at the current time. So, that the environment could resupply the tribal members the next time they journeyed through a specific area. This is due to the slow recovery, and possible irreparable damage that could be done if over-used.

Added to the belief was the agreement that no modern technology could change this state of affairs. Possibly, because of the massive expense and potential of little profitable gain to justify the investment. Also, there is the notion that the more advanced the technology used - the more havoc would be created. This presumption is based on a degree of further distancing itself from the original provision of nature. An example referred to is the 20th century situation in Antarctica.

These were biases that would influence and shape Mekkâr's thought processes for the rest of his life. He would understand, at a later time, the purpose for this ceremony. Additionally, match it with the conversation pieces he had heard during the past few days leading up to the event.

It was seven days prior to Mekkâr's birthday. The place was in a valley near a semi-iced over river. The river, was more a large stream, was beginning to flow a bit, next to the bank. The top layer of ice, in the center, continued to thin out. This region was "caught" between the big hills and small mountains, to the north and south. No one had a map of the area, as the tribal leaders had been through this place many times, and so knew their way.

All the members of Mekkâr's family were present - his mama Sirga, father Henrik, and little brother Alf. Others on this trek were Sirga's parents, the village chief Raauno, the shaman Aslak Mekkar, and of course, other members of the group.

For this important event, Mekkar appeared in a brand new winter costume. The tunic was in a deep blue and had brightly colored stripes on the shoulders. The pants were made with still tough reindeer skin and needed to be stretched or broken in a bit. The shoes were warm, dry and full of fresh, matted straw-grass in them. They were water-proof and made with an upward curve on the toe to slip-on cross-country skis, if desired. The hat straight, and standing tall - even slightly dwarfing the inductee's head. These special clothes, as well as, all of Mekkar's clothes were made by his mama or grandmama.

A few ditties were sung by the surrounding group, at the same time one preformed by Mekkar himself. After that, the shaman proceeded over the event and carried out specific duties that were required. Rituals, such as the sprinkling of the reindeer blood on and around the altar. Another instance was the recipient wearing the "helm of horns" as he approached the altar to the rythmatic beat of the shaman's drum. The altar itself was made of stone and was a permanent structure. Various tribal symbols surrounded the outdoor shrine. In a short period of time the ceremony was completed. Mekkar now was treated differently as a result of graduating to this stage. Then, his working career had begun.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Then, one day, Bam! Out of nowhere and unexpectedly, Mekkar overhears a young lady tell another that they hear that Mekkar's mama is pregnant and about to have another child. This was a dramatic turn of events "floored" little Mekkar, who was young himself. He was surprised and bothered about this news and its possible affect on him. He thought, "How could this happen to him!" and was disappointed that nobody warned him ahead of time.

He was confused about how he should react to the news of this event, as well as, how he would have to help care for the young sibling. Also, he felt that he wasn't old enough to do this and be a "big brother". He was furthermore upset that no one would pay as much attention to him anymore, since he currently was "the cat's meow". It seemed to Mekkar that his upcoming brother would become the "new special one" and that Mekkar would be the forgotten one.

Later on, when the little brother had arrived, Mekkar was still jealous and even a little bit resentful of Alf. This is where the competition begins between the brothers. Mekkar attempted to take care of his little brother from time-to-time, but didn't always know how to make this small creature understand and relate to him. Mekkar was thought to be mature for his age, but his "real immaturity" was revealed in these situations because Mekkar would get easily frustrated with Alf.

No matter what Mekkar believed, he couldn't comprehend that infants were not able to communicate in a similar manner as fully developed individuals. Added to the fact, that even though Mekkar was learning many languages at this time - he still was not even close to being "fully evolved" yet. However, eventually in time, Mekkar would come to appreciate his sibling and Alf's affect on him!

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Alf was known as the go-between on both sides since he was the only one there who had a full command of both spoken tongues at the fiesta and inebriation session. Alf translated for Mekkar a comment made about him by one of the Russians as, “At least Mekkar is too drunk off to dish out anymore punishment right now like he did at the rink. That crazy dude! He (Mekkar) got worse when the score became lopsided and had gotten out of hand. He didn’t care and played tonight like one of the vicious Canadian squads of past tournaments.” However, Alf’s translation abilities were hit and miss at this point because the youngster was also greatly affected by the spirits he had consumed. Alf was at the same time laying on the floor right next to his brother. One could hear Mekkar only sometimes acknowledge his sibling with a murmur or an undecipherable sound. The older one, Mekkar, was in his own dream-like state and was fortunate to drink the good vodka this night and thus avoiding the homemade alcohol. Despite that, even in this frame of mind Mekkar would have gulped down that booze too, if that is all there was available.

After the blowout of the last match and the drinking episode at the dacha, Mekkar thought the poor treatment and mind games on the part of the host authorities actually improved somewhat. Even so, it would have been better if they had not confiscated the last shipment of alcohol from home some of the Selects’ players had arranged to tide them over. It was about then, Mekkar and those in his little clique among the squad began to overhear biting comments regarding his team. Government officials, police, and others on the street would make statements like, “We don’t have to worry about them too much since they are young and not good competition for our players and teams. This showed when the Red Army kicked their butts so bad the other night.” Of course, this is how Alf interpreted it for the guys. “At least, they gave us a break and less hassles since the drubbing,” positively quipped Mekkar. Still, the Arctic Warrior was still not amused.

The Native from the North had an inkling that the result could have been much more lopsided regarding the score. Mekkar was of the opinion the host Russian club let up a bit in the latter part of the game. He thought they started to eventually use the match as an opportunity to get some work in against live competition. In other words, shore up and focus on some weaker aspects of their game strategy and tactics for future tougher opponents.

Lasse and Mekkar had a discussion at the beginning of this world wide tour about the perception regarding the Selects as a squad. The Selects were aptly described as a collection of misfits, trouble makers, rebel rousers, and cast offs which in a way fit Mekkar. There was also a sense on Mekkar’s part that their skilled opponents could see those aspects as well. In his mind the Russians saw that Mekkar’s squad was hastily put together and they took advantage. The Soviets always used the opportunity to show that their sports system and clubs were superior in every respect as compared to the rest of the world. Mekkar distinguished this same haughty attitude as being displayed in major international tournaments, as well as, the annual World Championships and The Olympics.

Alf’s older brother, Mekkar was not the only one on the team who felt that the leadership of his nation’s hockey federation sought to find out if this group could jell as a team. However, it was a hard thing to ask for a lot of successful cohesion in such a rapid manner. The Selects executives and their bosses wanted to observe any individual examples of responsiveness and the ability to thrive under pressure. It was determined that those factors would go a long way to decide who does and doesn’t participate in other pursuits with various hockey possibilities at higher echelons. Mekkar thought that it was just another exhibition of position where head honchos always want to assert their power and influence on any given situation.

The Selects next opponent was no slouch either. Dynamo Moscow was usually looked at as the second best hockey club in the whole of the Soviet Union. They had talented athletes who also performed admirably against the professionals and squads from Canada and the United States. Since the Red Army first string team only had a limited number of slots available some of the other similarly talented Russian hockey players would land here. Other squads that called the capital their home would absorb talented individuals also. Alexander Maltsev and Valeri Vasiliev were two of the better known players that dotted this Dynamo roster. They were well known for their participation in the 1972 Summit Series versus Canada [;;; Wikipedia]

Due to his Russian language skills, Alf warned his Selects teammates and especially his maniacal brother Mekkar about this matchup. Alf mentioned that this club was related in some manner to a security apparatus or organization like the police or the infamous and dreaded KGB. The young Alf said that most, if not all, Dynamo squads are set up in this way. Alf flatly said to his older sibling, “Don’t get too outrageous or do something really stupid in this game against this team or they might throw you in jail here in Russia. I would feel sorry for you. They could also still later on banish you to a gulag in the eastern part of the country. Good luck ever getting back home, if that happens. Many World War II prisoners from the German military never made it back home following the war, if you are familiar with past history.”

Not that Alf realized it or not but his comments unintentionally screwed up the Selects in their game preparation for this match. Due to their lack of aggressiveness as a team the game plan execution was lacking also. Mekkar was even less effective as well because his game relies so much on his drive and aggressiveness factors for success. The result ended up with the Selects being stomped nine to one and it could have been much worse.

Even though the Selects were not scheduled to face off versus a more talented Moscow Spartak club, they did have to have to square off against a younger and hungrier team. The Soviet Wings squad was not short on skills or ability either. The Wings would achieve an overall winning record when matched against pro franchises in North America during this era. Despite not being as well known as some other Soviet star players, the Wings’ roster still was represented by players who donned the USSR jersey in international play. Alexander Bodunov, Yuri Shatalov, Yuri Lebedev, Yevgeny Zimin, Alexander Sidelnikov and more filled in at times, on those powerhouse squads, versus the world.

Mekkar remembered the ice surface that day as being more conducive for speed. The Wings took a decided advantage of their speed and experience over the Selects by running away with a ten to three victory. Mekkar didn’t feel that the Soviet Wings club were very physical but he exclaimed, “Boy they could skate and were fast too!” Mekkar thought that weariness of his team contributed to the shellacking they received. Since Mekkar hated to lose the only positive he could see was the barometer of what he needed to do and continue to develop. There were many more lessons for him to learn to elevate him to higher levels in the hockey world. Now the trip home would give him some time to heal up the bumps, bruises, and that shattered hand to prepare him for future battles on the ice. Unfortunately, Mekkar wouldn’t get as much time as he hoped.