Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Punishment should fit the crime, not the damage - Liambas vs Fanelli

Earlier this week, an OHL hockey player was injured after a crushing bodycheck from an opponent.

I hadn't seen the hit until just now, but I'd heard about it from others.

I don't know the players involved, but from what I can tell through a brief search, the hitter - Michael Liambas - is a bit of a douchebag on the ice as this ridiculously dirty hit on John Tavares demonstrates.

The recent incident resulted in a match penalty for boarding to Liambas and a trip to the hospital for Ben Fanelli, who was upgraded from critical to serious condition at last report.

Today, Liambas was suspended by the OHL for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. This would make it one of the harshest suspensions ever handed down.

And it is completely b.s.

The hit was devastating, no doubt about it, but it should have resulted in a two minute charging penalty at most.

With all due respect to Ben Fanelli - and I'm sure EVERYONE wishes him a speedy recovery - the injury (skull and facial fractures) was a result of his head hitting the glass and the metal divider and not from the hit itself. Liambas did not leave his feet, nor was this a "head shot" (not every head injury is a result of a "head shot", the expression-du-jour in contact sports these days). Minus the debatable charge, the hit was clean.

Boarding is typically the result of a hit from behind, and some will argue that that is the case here. Bull. Liambas catches Fanelli in the back shoulder, but only because Fanelli turns to fire the puck the other way and possibly to protect himself at the very last moment.

As any experienced hockey player will tell you, this is exactly what NOT to do. Bracing yourself against the boards is the best way to minimize the impact of a hit. Turning your back is suicidal. It's hard to tell from the video if Fanelli protected himself at all or was simply getting rid of the puck.

Unfortunately, Fanelli's positioning resulted in him being spun violently into the boards where his head hit the glass and divider. The force of the impact with the glass knocked him unconcious and he fell to the ice, his helmet having been dislodged in the process.

Lesson number two in this situation is that players should be required to have their chin straps secured firmly.

It appears the OHL is not punishing the hit, but rather the damage. If Fanelli gets up, there's likely no match penalty, never mind a suspension. But when a player is seriously hurt, there's this sense that something drastic has to be done to balance the scales of justice - even when no crime was committed. The suspension is often in proportion to the injury, rather than the act.

Why is that?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: attempted murder should be punishable in the same way as murder. It isn't because you failed in the attempt that you should be "rewarded" with a lighter sentence. In other words, we should judge the act and intent, not the damage. In this case, the hit was essentially clean, though devastating.

So why the massive suspension?

The league talks about "respect" and "sending a message". But what's the message? What's the lesson to be learned here? Since there was nothing really wrong with the hit, and hits will happen in the future, what "message" does the league hope to convey and have heeded by the players?

This is a punishment based on politics and perception, and not on the facts or the acts.

It's tragic that Fanelli was injured on the play, but it isn't Liambas' fault.

I hope Fanelli has a full and speedy recovery.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Correlation Without Causation

Ever heard that expression? (or "Correlation does not imply causation"?) I heard it in Psych 100, I think. I remembered it because it was so true of so many statements one reads in the press, especially when it comes to scientific studies and the like.

Don't get it? Ok, here's a simple example:

Red car sales increased last year.
The police issued more speeding tickets than ever last year.
Therefore, owning a red car causes a person to speed.

That's a retarded statement, and yet I can't tell you how many times I've read something similar in a newspaper or somesuch. There are any number of reasons the number of speeding tickets increased that have nothing to do with the colour of the cars on the road (though there's always the possibility that it IS caused by just that).

I came across this today and it made me laugh:

I'm such a geek.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tradition! (of the egg nog variety)

I have an annual tradition. Every year, I buy the first carton of egg nog that I see.

I like egg nog. Some people think it's revolting, but those people are ugly.

Egg nog with rum? YUM!!! I look forward to that every Christmas. Of course, I usually have way too much and need a year to recover.

So guess what I saw when I dropped by the grocery store the other day? Sure enough, there was a shelf full of egg nog. This year, it was the "Irresistibles" version. I quite like the President's Choice Premium egg nog (in the black carton) but the tradition doesn't care - whatever's first wins.

So I picked up a carton, went home, and enjoyed my first egg nog of the season. OCTOBER!!!!!!!!

What the fudge?!


I used to think having my first egg nog in November was a bit odd. I'm gonna be sick of rum & egg nog before Hallowee'n!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Get off the phone!!

Jim Kenzie is a columnist for The Toronto Star and a tv personality who works the automotive beat.

He's a smart guy and I often agree with his points of view.

Perhaps that's a redundant statement. :P

Anyhow, his latest article tackles the recent legislation effectively banning the use of cell phones while driving.

Or, rather, the use of hand-held cell phones.

Note the problem here?

See, while the legislation is no doubt a step in the right direction (though Jim seems to think it actually makes matters worse if people think it endorses the hands-free option), it doesn't quite address the issue. The act of holding a cell phone to one's head is no doubt dangerous. I have seen drivers nearly collide with me and/or other objects because they had limited their field of vision. The ban will help curb this occurence. But, see, this approach has cellphone apologists using the same old ridiculous argument that radios and the like are just as distracting. I mean, they're all items that require physical dexterity and keep our hands off the wheel, right?


You would have to be a complete moron not to agree that the real danger of cell phones is not the physical presence of the item but the mental distraction they cause.

And no, you putz, a phone conversation is not at all the same as listening to the radio.

See, listening to the radio is passive. Sometimes you don't even notice the song playing - it's ambience. But when you're on the phone, engaged in a conversation, it's a completely different use of the mind and draw on your attention. Do I have a science degree? No, but what I do have is half a brain. It's as obvious as obvious can be that when you are participating in a phone conversation, you "retreat" mentally, even if just a little. There's no way that you are as aware of your environment. That's a dangerous frame of mind when operating a vehicle in traffic.

If you haven't seen it yourself, then you either don't drive enough or your lack of perception skills has me thinking - cell phone or no - you already shouldn't be driving. I've been in cars with people who go absolutely retarded once they pick up the phone. They slow down, miss exits, lose track of cars around them, or even become panicked and edgy.

A hands-free device will not cure this. Drivers will still be distracted as they retreat psychologically in order to converse intelligently. Yes, even the "good" drivers.

I have long refused to talk to friends on the phone if I know they are driving. The fact they they may be using a hands-free device will not change that.

The legislation does not ban hands-free communication because, as I understand it, it would be difficult if not impossible for an officer to determine that someone is using a hands-free device. The legislation should not be seen as an endorsement of hands-free. My solution? Ban all cell phone communication while driving. Pull over the folks who use hand-held devices, sure, but add a charge for people caught using a hands-free device when involved in an acident. Determining that a hands-free device was being used in that instance would not be impossible to prove and just might discourage some use.

Wanna make/answer a call while driving? Pull over or get off the phone!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Viewpoint Film Challenge

My friend Russ is a very talented artist. You may have seen some of his work on some PC video game boxes or on the Canadian version of Monopoly.

About a year ago, he started a mini film fest called the Viewpoint Film Challenge. The premise is fairly simple: give filmmakers a script that they more or less have to stick to (just dialogue) and see how each one interprets it differently. The script, of course, is purposely vague.

The rules are simple:
- You cannot add dialogue.
- You can remove dialogue.
- You can move dialogue around, but not words or letter within dialogue.
- The film has to be under 10 minutes.

The first time around, the entries included not just the standard stuff, but animations and films filled with green screen effects. You can see them here.

Based on what I've seen of the second incarnation, recently holding its screening at the Arcacia Centre in Chinatown , the films are even more ambitious. Russ's film in particular is unbelievably awesome with its special effects.

It's incredible that you can do this kind of film on a home computer!

The films from the second screening should all be posted soon, so keep an eye out. Viewpoint Film Challenge 3 seems to be a given, so if you're interested keep an eye on the site or join the VFC Facebook group.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stop crime, get arrested II


Another one of these.

So let me get this straight: guy gets his place burglarized TWICE IN ONE DAY. He catches the guy in the act the second time and, in the process, kills the guy and the police are debating whether to charge the burglary victim?


This is bullshit.

The article says:

University of Maryland law professor David Gray said prosecutors must weigh
whether Pontolillo thought he was in danger or became the aggressor. If he
thought he might be severely harmed, then he was within his rights to protect
himself, Gray said. "It doesn't matter if he used a gun, a sword or a frying

How about the right to defend your property? I mean, I'm big on that myself, but I thought they were really big on that in the States. I thought you could shoot trespassers down there.

A friend of mine recently had his place broken into in the middle of the night. The burglars(s) clearly did not realize he was home, asleep in the basement. My friend (wisely) escaped out the side door and ran to a neighbour's to call police.

Now, let's imagine that my friend had a kid. Let's imagine that the kid is asleep in another room and that my friend cannot escape with the child unnoticed. Can he confront the burglar with a weapon then? (the fact that the burglar dies from their wounds should never be a consideration - you either believe in defending something with force or you don't - you can't always control the outcome of using that force)

You can bet your ass that I'd be standing there with my samurai sword or Ginsu knife or rocket launcher. Whatever I could get my hands on.

Honestly: fuck the burglar.

What? The guy was supposed to let the guy just walk off with his stuff? No? Then how the hell was he supposed to stop him? By threatening him with force? What if he had to actually USE that force to stop the guy? Is that ok? He had a SWORD. How many different ways are there to use a fucking sword?!

And, besides, does he really have to give the guy the opportunity to surrender before using the force to incapacitate the burglar? I mean, isn't losing the element of surprise just increasing the odds the burglar will do you harm? Just because the guy hasn't seen you yet doesn't mean you aren't in danger. This guy could have run the sword through the burglar's back and I still wouldn't have a problem with it.

Bottom line: the burglar isn't the victim. You break into someone's house, you take your chances.

John Pontolillo shouldn't get arrested, he should get a pat on the back.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Music Video Awards

Another video awards ceremony, another Kanye West outburst.

I hate it when tv is predictable.

I didn't see the ceremony, actually. I watched maybe 5 seconds of it, just as Serena Williams, fresh of her own outburst at the U.S. Open, got a somewhat mixed welcome.

So I missed the "lowlight" of the show when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video for "You Belong To Me" to announce to the crowd that, while he was happy for Taylor and would let her finish, Beyonce had made one of the best videos of all time.

You stay classy, Kanye.

Swift, understandably, didn't finish her speech - not until Beyonce invited her up on stage to do so when she herself won Video of the Year for "Single Ladies".

Ok, so I think we can all agree that Kanye is a complete douche. Here's the part I don't get: Kanye thinks this was one of the best videos of all time and should have certainly beaten this. Am I missing something? A video where three ladies do a choreographed dance on a bare set is one of the best videos of all time - in this day and age - and is leaps and bounds better than a video with an actual story to it?

Now I'm not saying Swift's video is great. It's pretty cliche and simple, really. I think it's depressing that it would win a video award. I mean, what happened to innovative videos? Don't we live in an era of CGI where incredible artistic visions can come true? What happened to pushing the envelope and making cool/original works like this or this or this? Is choreographed dancing all we need these days?

It's best video - not best SONG.

And while we're at it, can someone please explain to me how Beyonce can not have the Best Female Video and yet have Video of the Year? Isn't Beyonce female? Or does she have a sprinting career I don't know about?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tag! You're a douchebag.

Ok, so I'm kinda bored - it's the calm before the storm - so I thought I'd kill a minute or two by throwing up another post. I'm tired of all the Bryant-Sheppard bull and wanna get that post off the top of this page. :P

So here's something I came across on Boingboing : "Daredevil LA tagger 'Buket' of YouTube fame gets nearly 4 years in jail".

Four years seems more than a bit much but I don't know the circumstances of the charges. A little jail time to sober this moron up doesn't seem extreme to me, though.

Some people may say I'm getting old, what with my beard and all, but the truth is that I have always detested graffiti and "tagging". It's juvenile, rude, inconsiderate, ugly (usually), disrespectful and mean - and in this jerk's case, dangerous.

If you think this guy is anything but a "reckless egomaniacal douchetard", then I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Michael Bryant vs. Cyclist Darcy Sheppard - Facts Before Acts

Something been's bothering me the past couple of days.

It isn't a new theme, but it's rearing its ugly head again: People who protest or condemn without having the facts.

On Monday night there was some sort of incident between a cyclist, Darcy Sheppard, and former Ontario MPP Michael Bryant who was driving his Saab convertible. What we know is that at some point after this incident and shouting match, the vehicle moved down the road and that, at some point, Mr. Sheppard clung to the driver's side. The vehicle traveled erratically down Bloor Street and, at some point, Mr. Sheppard fell under the rear wheels, suffering injuries that proved fatal.

That's it.

That's all we know.

Reporters and police have been trying to fill in the rest using eye witness accounts, but the fact is that the only people who know exactly what happened from begining to end are the two occupants of the vehicle, Mr. Bryant and his wife.

It has been alleged that there was a minor collision involving the car and bicycle, which took place either before or was bookended by angry exchanges between the two men. It's alleged that Mr. Sheppard slammed his bag onto the hood of the car. It's alleged that Mr. Bryant began to drive off and that Mr. Sheppard pursued the vehicle on foot and then grabbed the driver's side somehow. It's alleged that Mr. Bryant yelled at Mr. Sheppard to get off as he continued along Bloor. While it is indisputable that the car traveled westbound along the eastbound lane, it is not a given that this was done intentionally by Mr. Bryant and while it appears to be a fact that the vehicle brushed plant holders and other obstacles along the eastbound curb, it is not known if this, again, was intentional. Some allege that Mr. Bryant was attempting to "shake off" Mr. Sheppard.

What interested me right off the bat is that Mr. Bryant was not immediately charged. He was not charged until the next day, and he was not charged with manslaughter or somesuch, but rather criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. One legal source says that, if convicted, Bryant would likely face two years in jail. Two years. Conspiracy theorists were quick to jump to the conclusion that Bryant received preferential treatment because of his former status as Ontario's Attorney General. Bryant left the post a while back to lead Invest Toronto.

But was it preferential treatment or are the facts as presented to the police by witnesses and Bryant such that the police think there may have been some extenuating circumstances?

Sheppard is a former (?) bike messenger and his colleagues were quick to stage a protest on Tuesday afternoon with plans to protest again during the Wednesday afternoon rush hour. Since they chanted "murder" at one point, I assume they are protesting the charge, rather than staging some sort of traffic-blocking memorial. But I don't know for sure. Do they know? Do they know what they are protesting? I don't have all the facts of the case - do they? What exactly is the issue here? Bike lanes? Crazy drivers? Mourning? Police corruption?

From the start, Mr. Bryant has been painted as the guilty party with Mr. Sheppard portrayed as the victim of road rage. When incidents arise involving a bicycle and a car, the automobile is often portrayed as the big bad wolf.

I don't buy it.

Let's say, for argument's sake, that you're in a car, a convertible, and some guy who is angry as hell for whatever reason starts attacking you or that you feel they are about to attack you. What would you do? Lock the door? It's a convertible. Try to get out? By the time you undo your seatbelt the guy may have already punched you in the face and knocked you silly - or worse. Yell for help? Good Samaritans MAY come over if you're lucky, but by then, again, you may be unconcious - or worse. Do these things even occur to you in the split second that you're threatened? Guess what I'd do. Hit. The. Gas. I'm in a car. The best way to get away from a guy who may be a complete psycho (for all I know) is to reach 60km/h. I don't have a taser. I can't defend myself - nor my wife - from a seated, restrained position. I have very very limited options. If the guy is crazy enough to latch onto my car as I drive away do I stop and chat? Eff that. Now I might hit the brakes hard and hope he goes flying, but maybe that doesn't occur to everyone. Maybe they keep driving in the hopes that speed and common sense will convince the guy to simply let it go. Then again, maybe he doesn't. Maybe he hangs on either out of anger or fear. Then maybe he falls.

I'm not saying that's what happened in the Bloor Street case, but it's something to consider. What was going through each person's mind? Why did they do what they did? How much did anger, fear and lack of time to think play a role? Is the car's operator still the big bad wolf in this scenario?

You'll have to forgive me if, without having all the facts, I'm not willing to crucify Mr. Bryant.

It's come to light that Mr. Sheppard is a recovering alcoholic single father of three who has 61 warrants for his arrest in Alberta. An hour before the incident on Bloor, Mr. Sheppard was involved in another incident at his girlfriend's residence where he showed up having been drinking (there seems to be some qestion as to whether he was drunk) and apparently caused enough of a ruckus to warrant police presence. Friends who heard of his passing said things were looking up for the man who had had some rough patches, saying that things were improving for him "just last week". Yup - looks that way. You'll forgive me if, not knowing the man personally and knowing only his criminal and alcohol-related issues, I hesitate to put a halo on him and brand him the upstanding victim in the Bloor Street incident.

(On a side note, hearing testimonials from friends of victims has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves with news coverage. The victim can be a crack dealing gang banger who has 20 convictions for gun possession and the story is always that their death is a "tragedy" and the victim was "a great guy" with a "bright future". STFU.)

So we have some facts, but not many. On the surface, it would appear that Mr. Bryant was driving recklessly in an effort to rid himself of Mr. Sheppard.

But do we know that for a fact?

I mean, isn't it at least possible that Mr. Sheppard played SOME role in his demise? Is it possible that Mr. Bryant feared for his safety and that of his wife? Is it possible that Mr. Sheppard overreacted to the minor incident in which, for all we know, he was 100% in the wrong? Is it possible that the incident an hour prior impacted Mr. Sheppard's state of mind at the time? And why in the world would someone purposely try to shake someone off their driver's side by driving down the wrong side of the road and into objects along the curb? Isn't it possible that this was NOT Mr. Bryant's intention? Isn't it possible that it was Mr. Sheppard's presence on the driver's side door that caused the car to swerve left (either through contact with Mr. Bryant or the wheel itself)? But why didn't Mr. Bryant simply hit the brakes? Is it possible that he feared for his safety so much that the idea of stopping and perhaps giving his "attacker" a chance to regroup was not an option? Or is Mr. Bryant 100% guilty?

Who knows?

I don't. And that's the point. If you don't know the facts for certain then at least keep your mind open to the possibility that things are not as they appear.

Wait for the facts before you condemn and stage your "protests". Otherwise, don't expect to get my sympathy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Craziest Film Cast EVER!

I came across this link after visiting the UFC website.

Did you know about this?

This is quite possibly the craziest cast for an action flick you will ever see:

Sylvester Stallone
Dolph Lundgren
Jet Li
Jason Statham
Mickey Rourke
Randy "The Natural" Couture (UFC)
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin (WWE)
Eric Roberts
and a cameo by... Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Apparently Lundgren was hired after JC Van Damme turned it down. Wesley Snipes then Forest Whitaker then 50 Cent were supposed to play the role now taken by Terry Crews of "Everybody Hates Chris". Bruce Willis is rumoured to play the as-yet-uncast Mr. Church which had been offered to Kurt Russell.

Clearly, the idea is to make this movie as much an 80s action movie junkie fest as possible.

Of course it's gonna suck, but who cares?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Beach Boys a capella

Came across this link on Boingboing.

I didn't know this existed: it's the voice tracks from some Beach Boys tunes. Remove the music and you can really appreciate their harmonies - which were great to begin with.

I've always liked the Beach Boys, but this has boosted my appreciation for their talents and style of music.

There isn't supposed to be any instrumental music, but if you listen carefully, particularly to the "Sloop John B" track (and the not-so-great "Caroline No"), you can clearly hear the tune. perhaps it was sound bleeding from someone's headphones into the mic.

Regardless, it's a great piece of music. The second half of "God Only Knows" made me think of a wedding procession tune.

...There's that word again....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random Excursions

I came across a post on Boingboing that led me here.

I quite like this idea. I've always liked taking road trips and especially visiting new places.

Trips these days seem to be "destination trips" - you drive via the quickest route, usually a highway, to get to your destination fastest. Not very scenic.

I live in Toronto, yet I find that I don't know as many of the towns surrounding the city as I'd like.

Coming back from Dan's wedding reception last (?) summer, I avoided the highway and instead took a more scenic route (yet still on a major road so that I wouldn't have to twist and turn too much - I still had to get home!) which led me through St. Thomas, Ontario, a place I'd never been. It's a nice little town, which I now know is the site of the unfortunate passing of Jumbo the elephant, who was struck by a locomotive while visiting with the circus. A tour of the town would be incomplete without a visit to the statue of Jumbo. It may not have been the quickest way back from Windsor, but it was certainly more enjoyable and pleasant than the 401.

As the post says, I think establishing rules would be important. I like the idea of not being allowed to take the same stretch of road twice, but I'm not sure about following a direction beyond what the road allows (see the bit about using the GPS). Seems to me that when a road ends, that's when you use the die. But if you end up on a major road, how else do you determine when to roll again? Do you have a time limit for travel between rolls? Maybe you roll whenever you see a ________?

I think I'll come up with a plan and hopefully I'll be able to execute it sometime in the near future. (I'd have to rent a car!)

I think putting your trip in the hands of fate could be fun.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Remember: the terrorists haven't won

"Just as disheartening, it underscores how the desire for security continues to override the spirit of openness that is fundamental to a functioning democracy."

The USA has been dysfunctional ever since 9/11.

This is just one more small example of how the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is gone.

The terrorists have not only won, they've spent the last 8 years f***ing the prom queen while Homeland Security has been worried about protecting the scoreboard. The USA lost the "War on Terror" when they misplaced the Constitution and forgot what the country was supposed to represent.

...What? You expect me to talk about weddings forever?


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wediquette Part III

I’m totally and utterly bored, so more posts for you folks!

Seems my recent posts have friends wondering about my intentions – but I must admit that the subject lends itself to so many arguments/debates/discussions that it’s easy fodder for a blog. Heck, I could start my own blog on the topic and I’m not married!

So, continuing on our theme of “wediquette”…

(By the way, I see that name is being used for at least one blog already – oh well)

More questions and thoughts:

1. Invitations

I, for one, do not understand the self-addressed stamped envelope RSVP in this day and age. You’re just gonna track the confirmations on a separate medium anyways (even if you just jot them on a piece of paper) so why do you need them? Are people that shallow that they need to receive an overpriced card to feel they are truly invited to the event? It’s not like you need the invite to get in, anyways – who checks these things at the door? I’ve never been asked for my invite and I don’t always know the groomsmen at the door. It seems to me that a cool electronic invite (no, not an “evite" – those don’t work for my email address, by the way, for some bizarre reason) would be better, coupled perhaps with a cool postcard-type hard copy just to be sure. Recently, I’ve seen friends use variations on this, with full size posters folded up or interesting fold-out cards with all the deets – including how to RSVP by website or email. Please don’t try to make the argument that a formal invite is more personal – it really isn’t. I don’t need fancy paper – just date and time. Besides, I always felt that they were worded awkwardly. What do you write where it says “Philip Sullivan will _______ attend”? “…Definitely” attend? “Maybe” attend? And what about “Number of guests: _____”. Including me? Does this mean I can bring a guest? I’m sure the “experts” would say that if a guest is invited the invite would read “Philip Sullivan and Guest”, but that’s not obvious to everyone, so don’t be surprised if Uncle Jed brings his hooker date.

2. Guests

Ok, so I’ve always figured that I’d have to limit the number of folks I invite to the reception (assuming it was a catered dinner at a hall) – but what about after dinner? I mean, can I tell some folks to come by at, say, 10pm to celebrate with the happy couple or is that gauche? Is it an insult to invite someone post-dinner? Surely people understand that halls have limits on guests for dinner and that inviting them for the party half of the night is better than no invite at all, no? It’s like a night out at a fancy bar for them. I always thought I’d invite the world to my wedding – hey, if we have history and you care enough that you wanna come see me get married and have a drink with me afterwards, that’s awesome – but of course I can’t have the world for dinner. I probably could invite the world if it were an evening service with cocktail reception as suggested in my previous post… I always thought a wedding would be nice excuse to have a “this is your life” gathering of old, long lost and new friends – probably the only time you’ll be able to do it before they gather for your funeral! If I have to limit it to, say, 100 then, hell, 90% of my Facebook friends wouldn’t make the cut! :P

3. Cake

Is this a big deal? Really? I mean, I have to say that at 75% of the weddings I’ve been to, the “cutting of the cake” is an afterthought and probably the most wasteful expense of the whole day. Personally, I don’t need it. Is there symbolism or importance behind it that I don’t know about or is it literally just a dessert tradition? I’d rather have ice cream. :P

4. Photos

I’m a fan of having the wedding and reception close together. I think it’s kind of nuts to expect guests to attend a ceremony, take 3 hours off, and then show up somewhere else for a reception. If you’re from out of town, it can be downright inconvenient. I attended a wedding once where the four of us from out of town went back to the motel and napped between events! Kinda takes the wind out of the sails, don’t it? But I understand that half the point of this is to allow the bridal party to take the time to go to a park and have photos taken. See, the idea is that you can’t take photos before the wedding because the groom can’t see the bride before the ceremony. That’s actually one tradition I like and plan to uphold. But what to do about photos? Well, for some, the photos taken at the reception would be enough. For some, you don’t even need a photographer or formal photos – the snaps people take at the reception from, say, disposable cameras on the table are enough. I’m a fan of doing some quick shots while people settle in at the reception venue or even taking the shots at the venue itself if suitable. I don’t need a lot of fancy group shots – just a few of the wedding party, family and the big group. What do you do with them afterwards anyways? Sure, it’s nice to have a few shots, but the best shots, in my mind, are not the posed shots, but the candid ones. I prefer a natural shot than one that looks like the poster for The Usual Suspects. And there’s no effing way I’m having a photographer hover around the ceremony like I see at some weddings. What’s the point of taking pictures of an event if the photographer is PART of the event? At times, the guests can’t even see because the photographer is at the front, 5 feet from the priest, shooting flash shots with a super loud super sized camera. WTF? No way. If I have a photographer, they better have a telephoto lens. There’s no way a photographer or videographer stands in front of a guest. What for? So I can show the guests afterwards the ceremony that they missed?

5. Gifts

As I’ve said before, for Pete’s sake, GIVE MONEY. I just don’t understand the idea of having a gift registry. Sure, it takes the guess work out of giving gifts and ensures the couple won’t get doubles, but there are just too many issues with it. Does the couple choose the premium item they want or the sufficient item? What happens if you don’t get a complete set of dishes or whatever (that comes in pieces)? How do I get my gift to the reception? What if I don’t have a car and want to take TTC? What do I do with it during the service portion? (who wants to carry an item all day while dressed up and then show up all hot and sweaty?) If you just give money, then the couple can examine their finances after the event and take stock of what they can and can’t afford to do with it. What’s the point of having fine china if you can’t afford a table? The top priority for me is to break even on the day. If everyone covers the cost of their plate then the rest is gravy. Starting off a marriage in debt would suck. If you have some left over, then great – now you can put that money towards a down payment on a house. You can’t do that with embroidered linen. So now that we agree that guests should give money instead of a physical gift, how do the couple make this known? An invite might normally include the fact that the couple are registered at The Bay, but how do you say “don’t bring gifts, bring money”?

6. Centrepiece

Look, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass less about the bloody centrepiece, but it seems that for some folks, “winning” the centrepiece is the highlight of the night. I’m all for giving the guests a little gift/souvenir (a.k.a. bonbonniere), but it doesn’t need to be elaborate and it shouldn’t spark riots. I’ve seen all sorts of contests run (and their “trick” variations) to see who would get it and it usually drags on way too long and seems mighty lame by the end. Besides, if people really care about it, you’re just disappointing 90% of your guests – the ones who don’t win. But if you do insist on running a contest, then arrange to have the centrepieces set aside with the winners’ names. You’d be shocked at the number of times people who did not win the centrepiece will walk off with one, just because it’s sitting on a table unattended as they exit (heaven forbid the winner is dancing).

7. Bar service

This is a pretty big one and can really polarize opinions. Open bar or cash bar? The open bar is obviously a treat for the guests and the most welcoming, but it can lead to a big expense for the couple, potential scamming by the hall (if they do the billing by “measuring” thing) and issues with crashers and sobriety. The cash bar might come off as cheap, but it does allow you to have more guests (see item 2) and allows for some control over their intake (they can’t drink if they run out of cash) and your expenses. I’d prefer to have an open bar, but I can see the merits of a cash bar.

Hm… Ok, I think that’s enough for today. Don’t wanna freak Dan out too much.

So what do you guys think?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Unusual Weddings

Okay, so sticking to our wedding theme from the other day, let me show you this link to a neat wedding procession I came across on Boingboing.

This is awesome and, apparently, lots of fun. It was a big hit, it seems, and shows how you can have fun even when life as you know it is coming to an end.

...I mean on the happiest day of your life.


To pull this off, though, you'd need to have the right circumstances: a non-traditional couple; parents that can check their ego and don't insist on walking you down the aisle; extraverted friends; and understanding guests with a sense of humour.

I know a number of people who would be mortified by this sort of thing.
I'm all for it.

I've long said that I don't particularly need or want a traditional wedding. I'm happy if there's a duly empowered officiant, a nice venue, and lots of guests/witnesses. I don't need (or necessarily want) a church, flowers, rose petals, a wedding cake and a flock of doves. To me, the day should be special - for you and your guests - so that you mark the occasion with a suitable amount of ritual and pomp. So if you want non-traditional, go for it.

But let's face it: we've all been to weddings (though more likely receptions) that have been a Whether it's the sub-standard venue, or the meal or the DJ, we all have our preferences and limits.

So what are your limits? I once attended a pot luck reception. Yay/nay? What about a BBQ?

Does a reception have to involve a meal? What if it's an evening wedding with a cocktail reception? I actually kinda like that idea. I like this "event theatre" in my neighbourhood, but they charge by the hour so a long reception isn't really a great idea. I'd love to have a party or reception there with the marquee and wedding-related movie posters. I think that'd be fun. (There's also this similar venue and this article that seems to reflect my idea. At $95/person base menu, though, I don't think I can afford it!)

If it were a theme wedding where the couple asked that guests try to wear suitable attire, would you participate? To what extent? What if the theme were "black tie" or "Star Wars" or "Roaring 20s"? I could see this being a lot of fun if people participated and a big bust if you had too many introverts in the crowd.

Personally, I like excuses to dress up but I wouldn't wanna be the only one in a wookie costume, you know?

So how far can you go out of the box before you start imposing on your guests? Is it a matter of "my guests should play along or eff them"? It's a matter of cost and convenience, sure, but also attitude.

Even within the wedding party there can be issues. I mean, the fun wedding procession is cool - but only if everyone agrees to it. If you have one person clearly not enjoying the idea, well, that ruins it for everyone.

I better start vetting my friends for their "cool factor"...


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stag & Doe or Slag & Dough

A co-worker and I were having a discussion the other day about weddings and invites and etiquette and finally moved on to the idea of “fundraising” for weddings. She had attended a bridal shower the weekend prior, and we debated the merits of holding such an event.

See, I’m not a fan of the bridal shower. It seems to be a cash grab to me. You invite people over and expect them to bring gifts you picked out on a registry? Seems…crass.

A baby shower I can understand. When a kid is born, it makes sense that the community would sort of come together and help out – but even in this case, I think bringing second hand stuff would be fine. I mean, people buy or obtain things they need for a kid that they won’t need at other times. The kid grows out of stuff so quickly that the clothes or stroller that will be useful for a few months or years will soon be collecting dust in a garage – it might as well go to someone who could use it. The recipient will then give them away as they see fit when their kids have grown - and the cycle continues.

But what’s the purpose of the bridal shower? What gifts are “unique” to this situation? Lingerie? Really?

Now while this co-worker and I agreed bridal showers were a bit odd in this day and age “sans dowry”, we disagreed on stag & does. See, I think that where a stag & doe differs from a bridal shower is that a S&D usually offers something in return. It’s a fundraiser where attendees receive a good or service in exchange for their money. Usually, a S&D involves buying tickets and getting access to an open bar or meal or paying for a casino night – that sort of thing. If you invite me to a S&D at a hall where they serve alcohol and offer a meal and some games and a silent auction or draw, well, I’m way more agreeable to paying $75 or so. The couple pocket the profits, sure, but at least it isn’t a flat out cash grab. I may even think I’m getting my money’s worth! And even if I don’t, then at least I console myself thinking that the couple will put it to good use, rather than the less practical stuff people tend to put on gift registries.

As a side note, I don’t believe in gift registries for weddings, either. I have been converted, I suppose, by my Italian friends. If you wanna give a gift at a wedding (which of course you should), then for Pete’s sake GIVE MONEY. Not only is this far more portable than the crockery set, it also is more useful (it would suck to get half a tea service set, wouldn’t it?) and flexible (the couple can figure out what they wanna do with whatever amount they receive). It just makes sense. Carrying a wrapped gift into a wedding reception is so mangiacake. :P

Back to pre-wedding activities: I think bachelor/bachelorette partiers are absolutely on side. This is a fun night out with the members of the same sex and I’m all for them. How far they go in terms of fun is up to the parties involved. Strippers? (for either party or sex) They’re ok as far as I’m concerned, provided of course it’s JUST strippers not anything involving parts of the body other than the eyes. You know? The guests, of course, are welcome to do what they want. Heck, a bachelor party is often as much an excuse for them to act out. For some, it’s customary for the bride/groom to “dedicate” the “entertainment” to one of the wedding party members and to live vicariously through them. Sounds good to me. It also acts as a thank you to the wedding party member. :P There’s a perception out there that the bachelor parties are wilder than the bachelorette parties, but if my experience is any indication, it’s the other way around. Bachelor parties pretty much only get “wild” in terms of going to a strip club and drinking. Bachelorette parties sometimes involve accosting attractive strangers in the street and requiring various forms of physical contact or flirting. You’re also far more likely to see a bachelorette party dance drunkenly on the tables at the local bar – not only would guys not do this, they’d get their elbows re-arranged if they did this at the peelers.

What do you guys think? Bridal showers, stag & does, bachelor/bachelorette parties, gift registries: yay or nay?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

By Request: Garbage Strike

My blog buddy Diane sent this one in to me:

"The garbage strike (Toronto, Windsor, or both - your choice): A righteous cause,
or just downright ridiculous? Discuss."

You know, I can’t say I know too much about the issues surrounding the City of Toronto strike that includes garbage collectors. People don’t tend to care too much about the details, just “what’s being done?” and so the media don’t often break it down into clear negotiation issues.

Yes, there’s the 18 sick days an year that can be banked. We’ve all heard about that. That’s the one issue that the media loves to talk about and the City likes to throw out as an unreasonable benefit "in these tough economic times".

Here’s the thing: unlike most people, I don’t have a problem with it. Not, at least, based on what I’ve heard. In a previous negotiation, the union secured a benefit whereby any unused sick days can be rolled over year after year in such a way that a person may actually “bank” sick days. When they retire, an employee may cash in unused sick days up to a max of six months’ pay.

What you get is workers not calling in sick on a whim or when they don’t feel like going to work – instead they show up. What’s wrong with that?

In companies where sick days DON’T roll over, the temptation is to use them all before year’s end – but, of course, that would look suspicious on an annual review and the employee would perhaps suffer the consequences. So what was the point of negotiating those sick days? Why would you negotiate sick days and NOT take them - since they're a fixed cost to the employer (you get paid the same whether you take them or not), aren't you just ripping yourself off by NOT taking them? Aren't you just working MORE than the employer expected for the salary they're paying you?

Hell yes you should use them.

Of course the EMPLOYER doesn't want you to. Nor should they.

You WANT people showing up. You WANT sickness to be unusual. If everyone’s worried about using up sick days, you end up with offices that always have a staff member or two absent. That’s not good production-wise. Companies shouldn’t have to have an extra staffer or temps to account for missing folk.

The problem is that the City should never have agreed to it in the first place. It was silly and now they can’t afford the back end payouts. But you can’t remove it now (unless you pay those folks out – even then you’d have issues ‘cause it’s supposed to be paid out at salary at retirement, not current salary).

What should be done is that the salaries should be slightly higher but NO sick days given. Don’t show up? Don’t get paid. That would keep people coming in. If they truly are sick, ok, they take a day or two. If the sickness is 3 days or more, you’d need a doctor’s note and you’d go on some kind of subsidized leave (NOT fully paid - why does the employer have to pay for your sick ass? You're not doign anything for them. Let the government take care of health care. If you ARE that valuable to an employer that they'd pay for your sick leave, then that should be because your're special not because you belong to a mob). Why do we need paid sick days? That sounds like some lazy fucker’s initiative.

Don’t get me started on the laziness of some union members…

The thing is, this strike has to end. The garbage is piling up in parks, for Pete’s sake (side note: why aren’t people dropping off their trash in the dumpsters behind apartment buildings instead of going to these transfer stations? Apartment buildings tend to have private companies remove their trash – I don’t even notice the garbage strike in my neighbourhood). But the real pain in the arse is the fact that daycares are closed, too (this isn’t just a garbage strike – it’s a City employee strike) which can REALLY mess up families and their daily routine. Things like that.

So the sides have to come together.

And the argument from the union that they want "what others got" is bullshit. You want what they have? Go work there. Your job is your job, their job is their job. If the job in Mississauga gets paid more than the job in Toronto, maybe that has something to do with the nature of the place where the job is performed.

Unions always want more than what they had before while employers want the strike to last long enough that they’ll be able to afford the concessions they’ll eventually give (why are we paying for these services that aren't being performed, btw?). That’s why unions should always work to rule before going on strike. They get paid while making their presence (or lack thereof) known to the public who will complain to the employer. That’s assuming, of course, that anyone notices that they weren’t just working to rule in the first place. With some lazy union fuckers, you never know.

So what do I think of the garbage strike? It's garbage, of course.

And tax payers are paying for it - literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ask me questions - I will tell you no lies

I said I would take requests and some of you have taken me up on it. Alison, it seems, is preoccupied in getting to know me better rather than hear me vent on some topic of political or social importance (she’s shallow that way), but I can certainly indulge her (mostly ‘cause she’s pretty).

Here goes:

1) What is the most exciting thing you've ever done?

Well, I haven’t climbed Everest or jumped out of a plane, so I’ll go with the time I went on as an understudy in a professional show in Toronto with no rehearsal (and having never been on the stage or having met the cast), after getting a call from the director that afternoon. It was exciting and terrifying, not knowing if I would be able to pull it off. I stumbled with the first couple of lines but then got through the rest of the show flawlessly.

Side note: I was going to link to Wikipedia for The Mousetrap but, unbelievably, they give the ending away! There's a whole page devoted to the debate of whether or not to reveal the ending, but I gotta say - anyone who argues in favour of revealing the ending is ignorant when it comes to theatre tradition. This is a whodunnit and after every performance the audience is asked not to reveal the ending. You can find it in various places if you look, I'm sure, but to list it on the main page in Wikipedia for all to see at a glance (as I did) is silly. There should be a separate link.

2) If you were a comic book hero, who would you be?

Existing? I would choose to be Superman ‘cause, let’s face it, he can do everything (which actually makes the comic a boring read). This is a different question of course from “if you could only have one superpower, what would it be?” or choosing between specific superpowers.

3) Who was your favourite band in 1992?

In 1992, I was in grade 12 moving into OAC (13). I was a Led Zeppelin fan for a while around then, but was probably moving on by 1992. That was actually a REALLY bad year for music, which explains my retro outlook. Good musicians like Phil Collins and Eric Clapton were getting hella-cheesy, and others like Def Leppard were clearly on the downside of their careers. The Billboard Top 100 for 1992 is a collection of crap. So the short answer is…I have no idea.

4) Where do you hope to travel in the next five years?

Hawaii, Ireland, Austria/Germany/Netherlands, Great Britain …and Haliburton.

5) Can you remember the names of the brother and sister on Alf without googling it?

No. That show was after my time. Yes, I am that old.

6) Would you rather be told you're funny, smart or good-looking?

Good looking. If you have that in spades, the rest won’t matter so much. :P I mean, so long as you aren’t completely deficient in the other categories. You ought to know how smart you are, and have an idea about your sense of humour. Beauty, though, is in the eye of the beholder and so to be told you’re good looking is a greater compliment as it is furthest from your control. It’s nice to know you have that, too. Note that the question says “would you rather be TOLD” not “would you rather be”. Dunno if my answer would change, but… (sometimes I think dumb people are better off! :P )

7) Name five things you never eat.

Puke (unless puking into my own mouth a little counts)
Live animals
My words

8) In what ways are you like a chipmunk?

I can sing.

9) Who are three famous people you'd like to have dinner with (all at once)?

This is always a tough one – it’s a question of curiosity vs mix. Living or dead? Jesus of Nazareth, King Arthur, Abraham Lincoln (lives and times I think would be fascinating). Living only? Dana White, Sam Jackson, Monica Bellucci (good laughs and eye candy).

But I probably just haven’t thought of better choices…

Will you answer these now?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bored stupid

So I'm bored.

No, no. I mean I'm REALLY bored. Like super duper bored.

Normally, I'd use this opportunity to vent about something here, but, frankly, I'm so bored I don't even have the motivation to come up with a topic.

So I'm accepting requests.

Wanna read my take on something?

Ever wondered what makes me tick? Or ticked off?

Wanna quiz me on some topic?

Go ahead: shoot.

I'll be here. Half asleep.

Someone wake me up.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Twitter in the News

This just in!

News “tweets” may come from unreliable sources!



Ok, look: a while back, I didn’t know what to make of Facebook. At first, it seemed like a sad popularity contest, but now it has essentially replaced,, MSN Messenger and my email account. So I guess you could say it’s pretty useful.

Twitter, though? The jury’s not in just yet, but right now I’m leaning towards “Eff that!”.

It would appear that the main purpose of Twitter is to send out tweets and track tweets sent out by people you care about. At 140 characters (I think), these are essentially the equivalent of Facebook status updates (chalk up another “replaces” to Facebook).

I don’t know about you, but status updates are just about the most annoying aspect of the Facebook experience (next to news feeds that include quiz results as to what vegetable your friend is most like. Wtf?! Stop with the stupid quizzes already!).

Yes, I know there’s more to Twitter than that, but it seems to me that Twitter is best used by those who are involved with marketing/PR and who care to follow strangers’ thoughts on their product or field.

Me? I couldn’t care less.

For years I’ve been arguing with people about the place of blogs in society. Blogs are one person’s opinion, venting out into cyberspace, with little or no responsibility. I wanna say that Cory Doctorow needs a bitchslap? I can do that here.

But don’t – I repeat DO NOT – try to tell me that bloggers are the same as reporters or on a par with mainstream news outlets.

The difference is simple: accountability.

Twitter, for the most part, is simply micro-blogging.

Boingboing had a post today about tweeting in Iran during all this protesting of the recent general election, and it boils down to this: people can’t make heads nor tails of what the heck is going on because there’s so much chaotic, unorganized, unreliable info coming their way.

Via Twitter?



The post reads in part:

“Several fellow passengers agreed that one of the feelings shared around the
Iran story is the sense that so much information from new, unfamiliar sources
seems to be flooding us, without good filters, or many trusted, authoritative

If only there were companies willing to organize this chaos for us and who would be held accountable for misinformation…

Wait…you mean like…this? Or this? Or this?

Just because you don’t trust your doctor 100% doesn’t mean you should be running to a shaman, folks. Carry some salt with you and you’ll be ok.

The tragedy is when these news folks start drinking the Twitter Kool-aid, as Boingboing points out:

“And overall, cable news is doing a lousy job anyway. Blowhard anchors reading
random tweets, and logging on to Facebook groups? Thanks, but I can do that
myself -- without the theatrics.”

The sad part is that in their quest for instant news, the old reliable news organizations are starting to regurgitate the unreliable stuff. And, so long as they say, “it’s being reported that…” well, they’re off the hook now aren’t they – since THEY weren’t the ones reporting it, they were just reporting that it was being reported.


You know, with all this unreliable stuff floating around via Twitter, it can’t be too long before someone tweets something irresponsible enough to warrant a lawsuit for libel.


Would tweeting to millions that a famous musician assaulted you when in fact it was someone else count?

And if you have time to tweet, dumbass, you have time to dial 911. At the very least the guy should be charged for tying up emergency phone lines.

Can we start calling irresponsible tweeters "twits"?

Yeah, you're right: "attention whores" works too.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pet Peeves: TTC

To pick up on Alison’s lead, I thought I might vent on one (several) of my pet peeves:

The TTC and how we use it.

Some of my complaints include:

1. Morons who stop as soon as they enter the subway car. If there are people behind you, you’re blocking the way and making it harder to get on before the door closes. I know you may be getting off at the next stop but - don’t worry – you’ll be able to get off even if you move into the train. Right now you're just being rude.

2. Morons who use stairs at busy stations when there’s an escalator right next to it. If you are at a busy station like Bloor or King and you are going up, say, and there’s an up escalator next to a set of stairs, you’re not being lazy if you use the escalator; you’re being considerate. If you use the stairs despite the escalator going your way then you’re just going to create traffic issues for the people coming DOWN who have no choice but to use the stairs. Use your head and take the escalator.

3. Morons who are paranoid about being able to get off at their stop. Whether you’re taking the bus or subway, there’ll be lots of time for you to get off once the vehicle stops. Pushing your way to the doors while the vehicle's in motion just creates the possibility you’ll lose your balance or knock someone over. Keep calm – you’ll get off. I’ve only seen one person miss their stop because they couldn’t get to the door in time and that was at Rosedale at rush hour in a packed car. But who gets off at Rosedale?

4. A$$hole jerks who rush to take seats ahead of women, children and the elderly. Give me a break. I give these guys the death stare and will occasionally confront them if it’s particularly egregious. Is this a cultural thing? Are these people from patriarchal societies or somehow raised not to respect others? This is perhaps the worst offense in my mind. I’ve simply gotten used to not sitting if the car is busy. Even if there is the odd seat available, it’s quite likely a lady will step on at the next stop or two, so I just keep standing.

5. Clueless morons who talk on their cell phones on the TTC. If you get a call, make it quick and speak quietly. Just because you’re having a hard time hearing the other person because of the ambient noise around you does not mean they can’t hear you perfectly fine if you speak softly.

6. Oblivious morons who walk while using cell phones. This applies anywhere. People tend to walk with cell phones the way they drive with cell phones: not well. They get distracted, slow down, don’t watch the flow of traffic and just become a nuisance. If you need to use your phone, move off to the side and let others continue on their way.

7. Distracted TTC drivers. I’ve seen drivers use cell phones, talk to attractive passengers and even do Sudoku puzzles while operating the vehicle. This is beyond silly and dangerous. If you see this, tell the driver off. You have my blessing.

8. Inconsiderate morons who use inadequate headphones while listening to their crappy music. Ear buds are not headphones. They are for use while you’re jogging outside, not while commuting between Eglinton and Bloor. You might as well take out the buds and crank the speakers ‘cause we can all hear the music anyways – you might as well let us hear it at full quality. Jerks.

9. Litterbugs. Seriously; throw your crap in the garbage/recycling. What are you – five?

10. TTC drivers who pump the brakes. Someone needs to train TTC drivers to drive as if people are standing inside their vehicles ‘cause – guess what – they ARE!!! Stop driving like “gas” and “brake” are your only two options and you must alternate between them as often as possible.

11. Streetcars. ‘Nuff said.

12. Space wasters. Look, chimps can put building blocks together. Why can’t we stand inside TTC cars in such a way as to maximize space and capacity? I see people sitting and standing at the oddest angles and worst positions, preventing people from getting on at rush hour. Move your ass into the train and stand shoulder to shoulder. How hard is that? You’ll be helping others get to their destination and helping to ensure our position at the top of the food chain.

13. Lack of communication. In New York City, if the train is delayed for 10 seconds (no exaggeration) an announcement is made apprising passengers IN THE CAR of the situation. In Toronto, not only are announcements rarely made, they are often only heard on the station platforms and not in the car. The people in the cars need to know, too, so that they can get off at the next station and walk if the delay is severe enough. Besides, even if they can’t get off, having some information will keep them calmer than if they’re left in the dark.

14. Drivers who don’t know how to stop. The bus posts are there for a reason. They tell the driver where to stop. If they don’t stop in the right place, the back door (where you’re SUPPOSED to get off) may open to a trash bin or bus shelter, thus preventing people from getting off. This can especially be a pain if you have a suitcase with you. Happened to me? You bet.

15. Paranoid morons who insist on going out via the front door of the bus. Not only is this inconsiderate towards the people trying to get on, but it defies the sign at the front of the bus telling you to please exit via the rear doors. I’ve seen people literally push their way to the front from their seat at the back of the bus just so that they can use the front door. Why are these people afraid of the back door? Were they traumatized by a back door as a child? Speaking of back doors, guys, think of the bus as your body – front for in, back for out. It’s meant to be one-way traffic; like your @$$hole, @$$hole.

I’m sure I have more complaints…but I hate complainers – they’re one of my pet peeves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When news isn't news: Sosa took steroids

Seriously: is ANYONE surprised by this?

Probably not. Ain't that sad?

(If you are, you clearly haven't seen before and after pics of the guy.)

And if none of these guys gets elected to the Hall of Fame (which they shouldn't), then shouldn't we also put a big fat asterisk next to their records and formally apologize to the Maris family for all the hooplah in 1998?

The saddest quote comes from Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry who said:

"To just speculate from an era of how many years it was of who did and didn't do what, it's impossible. It's just time to put that whole era behind us and move on."

Yup. Let's forget the era that saw all sorts of home run records fall and saved baseball from the post-strike slump.

And we thought the STRIKE was bad.

Doesn't Pete Rose seem like an angel now?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Election fever

Seems elections are in the news again. We here in Canada may be facing one soon if the opposition ever gets up the nerve.

Iran recently held an election, too.

Which prompts this question:

Why is it that whenever one of the "bad" countries holds an election - with or without international observers - there's all sorts of news coverage about the possibility of election fraud and how it should not be allowed to stand?

...This coverage largely from a country that quite possibly allowed George W. Bush to steal an election that changed the face of world politics. (Maybe two.)

'Cause, you know, if people are protesting they must be right...right?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Good karma: Darrelle London

Ok, you know me: I rant. But I'm thinking that maybe if I take a little time to try to spread a little good news I'll have a little come my way, too.

Or at least maybe I'll avoid being reincarnated as a cockroach.

I was at the Peter James Project cd release party at Clinton's last night to support the lovely and talented Alison Jutzi who was one of the opening acts.

If you have not checked this gal out do it NOW.

I'll wait.

Anyhoo, while I was there, I heard some good stuff. Dan Mclean Jr started things off well with a kick-ass re-imagined rendition of Bad Company's Feel Like Making Love.

Alison was up next and had the audience laughing along to her tunes about second-best friends, Facebook and racist grannies. (W00t!)

The headliners were solid, too, with Irish ex-pat Peter James Fox and his band belting out enjoyable reggae-infused rock tunes.

But the delight of the night - other than the aforementioned goddess of folk - was Darrelle London, a blonde waif of a gal who played catchy, whimsical tunes while playing the keyboard. Her set was really fun - "light with a bite", I'd call it. I was trying to think of who she reminded me of and I think her website gets it right - Chantal Kreviazuk (especially "Before You") - mixed, I'd say, with a dash of Bjork. From "Sure, you broke her heart but she’ll put you in your place with a wink and a smile."

So after you're done checking out Alison's music, pop by Darrelle London's site and see if you like what you hear. She'll be opening for Amanda Mabro at The Rivoli tomorrow night (June 10th).

Then, for good karma's sake, write your own blog post about how neat I am.

The world has enough cockroaches.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Archie + Veronica - Betty = "Ideal"?

A little fluff for you.

Much ado was made last week of the news that Archie Andrews had finally made a decision between Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge and chosen…Veronica.

Many were shocked, many were saddened, many cheered, many people said “Archie who?”

But let’s not get too carried away. They once killed Superman, too, you know. It remains to be seen if this thing will ever really play out. I mean, judging by the faces of not only the heart-broken Betty but the best pal Jughead, this seems like an unlikely path for the long term.

There can be little doubt that interest in the comic will rise over the coming months as the six-parter unfurls. Is this just a marketing ploy? Maybe. But it’s a dangerous one.

Whether it’s Moonlighting, Scarecrow & Mrs. King or Spider-Man, we’ve seen time and again that having your romantic storylines “settled” can be a bad thing. Where does the story go from here? What becomes of Betty now that she can no longer pine for Archie without looking like a home wrecker? Does she hook up with Jughead to drown her sorrows?

If the storyline does end with an incomplete nuptial, where does that leave our heroes? I mean, Veronica and Archie may have some lingering tension, but surely Betty would be forced to move on. I mean, if THIS is not a sign she should get her sh*t together and stop being a doormat…

Let’s face facts: Archie could never end up with Betty unless the strip was coming to an end. I mean, THERE’s a storyline that has nowhere to go. At least with Archie & Veronica you still have the relationship with Mr. Lodge to play with. What good is a happily-ever-after ending with Betty?

The article I read on the subject bothered me, though. One part reads:

“People who vote for Veronica-Archie are the idealists, the people who say, ‘I'm voting for the glitz, the glamour, the high energy, the sexiness, the ideal [and] they might not even care so much that it'll only last five years,'” says the Toronto-based registered family, marriage and sex therapist.

Those who yearn to see Archie and Betty get hitched take a more realistic, traditional view, she says. They're more grounded, are thinking long term and have more of a sense of “for always and forever.”

Um, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I happen to think the “always and forever” IS the ideal. Who in their right mind thinks “Ideally, I’d marry a rich, sexy, glamourous person and maybe get divorced in 5 years after it all fizzles.”

Huh? No thanks.

Good thing I’m not glitzy, glamourous, nor high energy so I don’t have to put up with shallow Veronica lovers.

(Sexy, I can’t deny. I am that.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Two things: Death and access

This is fascinating.

I’ve often wondered about this myself. I keep telling myself I need to get this sort of thing in order (I used to work at the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, so I know how bad it can be not to have a Power of Attorney or Will).

What would happen to your stuff if you were to tragically die (or become incapacitated) unexpectedly?

These days, “stuff” refers not only to your physical belongings but your computer/online stuff as well.

Do you simply give someone your computer password and keep all your important details in a file? Sounds risky.

Do you split clues/passwords up amongst people so that more than one person is needed to get access to your stuff? More secure, but perhaps overly complicated and who knows where all of these people will be when you get hit by a truck – hopefully not with you!

I imagine most Boingboing posts draw a number of comments, but this is one of the very few times I ever felt a desire to check them out. Most of them are innocent enough; some playful (#38), some more nerdy (#16) and some just have too much time on their hands (#41). They get more and more elaborate as people come up with password protecting schemes (holy crap are these people paranoid) until someone deflates the debate with a simple “pen, paper, safety deposit box” solution.

But as we discover, no solution is flawless (#62) and there are a lot of ignorant people out there who think they have the answers (#32…I’m looking in your direction…).

Comment #51 had me laughing at work.

In a world where people keep so much info stored on their computers or online, what method is best to ensure someone can access this stuff after you die – but ONLY that someone?

And who should that someone be? As #64 points out, perhaps it ought not to be the person closest to you, but someone who will be more detached.

Here’s something that I sometimes think about: if I were to die, how would people find out? I have many circles of friends and some of my close friends have never met and do not have each other’s contact info. Some of them are on Facebook (an email to each of the people in my friends list would take care of many – the issue was more complicated in the dark period b.fb.), some are not, some I only have emails for (but who else does?) or a phone number. Should I give someone the means to access my email account in the event of my untimely passing? Who? (Hey man, I’ve got dirt in there!) :P

Do you have a plan for this stuff?

Stop crime, get arrested


I can’t believe this.

Ok, so: let’s play “let’s imagine”.

Let’s imagine you own a store. A small, independently run store. It doesn’t matter what you sell, but let’s say it’s…flowers.

You’re trying to make an honest buck. You display your wares inside and outside your store for passersby to notice and browse through.

Now, let’s imagine some guy comes by on his bike – with an empty cardboard box – and pulls up in front of your store. He goes directly for the goods. He puts down the box in front of the goods and re-positions his bike. He looks from side to side. He starts loading up his box with your goods. When the box is full, he repositions his bike again, gets on, reaches down, picks up the box and rides off.

Now let’s imagine your security camera caught all of this on tape.

Now let’s imagine this douchebag has the balls to come back to the same store on the same day on the same bike wearing the same clothes.

What would you do?

Let’s imagine you go up to the guy and confront him. How would you handle that?

Let’s imagine you talk to the guy calmly, inform him that you recognize him and that he should stay put while your co-worker calls the police to deal with the matter.

Let’s imagine the guy bolts. He drops his bike and runs down the alley away from your store.

What would you do?

Let’s imagine you chase the guy. You’re a pretty fast runner and you’re not a small person. You catch the guy.

Now what?

Let’s imagine the guy puts up a struggle and maybe even takes a few swings.

Now what?

Well, if you’re David Chen, owner of a flower shop in Chinatown, you tie the guy up and put him in your delivery truck until the cops show up an hour and a half later. Somewhere in between, you may or may not have given the thief a shot or two for your troubles.

If you’re me, you’re applauding Mr. Chen for his actions. A job well done, I say. Although I wouldn’t suggest the shots he and his associates may or may not have given the thief, I don’t exactly blame him.

Problem is that when the cops showed up – eventually – the ride-by flower enthusiast was charged with theft and released on $1,000 bail while Mr. Chen and his coworkers were charged with assault and kidnapping and released on $7,500 bail.

Somehow fighting persistent petty crime doesn’t seem worth it.

So what’s a guy to do?

The icing on the cake is that the thief’s son (forget “alleged thief” – it’s on tape) actually had the nerve to come by the store two days later and angrily confront Mr. Chen for “beating up” his dad. Mr. Chen informed the young man that his father struck him first. Thief jr. apparently claimed he didn’t care if his dad stole something. If not for the crowd of patrons who backed up Mr. Chen, who knows where that confrontation might have gone?

Seems the kid is every bit the douchebag his dad is. Isn’t that sweet?

So let’s imagine this all happened to you. What would you have done?

I'd like to think I would have done pretty much the same thing.

Maybe I should start saving up bail money, huh?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Phil's Travel Guide to: New York City

Holy f**k I’m bored. Things are a little slow, which means I feel more compelled to keep my brain working via this blog.

You lucky bastards.

Anyhoo, I was contemplating what was worth writing about when I remembered I had promised a friend I would tell her about my recent trip to New York City and give her pointers for a potential trip later this summer – what’s good, what’s not, what’s hot.

So, here it is - Phil’s Travel Guide to: New York City.

I’ve been to NYC three times over the years; once for a day trip (we parked below the Twin Towers), once for a week about 5 years ago, and of course for a week just this month.

Timing – New York City is very humid. In the summer, it can be almost unbearable. Some people think Toronto is humid…not even close. The most uncomfortable place to be in NYC in the summer is on a subway platform. Ugh. I’d suggest NYC in the spring, but if you really wanna go in the summer to try to avoid the rain, be prepared to pay in sweat.

LayoutNYC is pretty easy to navigate because it’s based largely on a grid system. Avenues run north-south and are relatively far apart while streets run east-west and are pretty close together. So the distance between Times Square (42nd Street) and the Empire State Building (34th Street) is not a bad walk and about as far as walking from 8th Avenue to 5th Avenue. Or so it seems. Downtown (Lower Manhattan) is at the south end and includes sights such as the Statue of Liberty, the former World Trade Center site, Wall Street, the South Street Seaport, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Moving northward, you run into areas with shops and cafes like Tribeca (“Triangle below Canal Street”), Greenwich Village, SoHo (“south of Houston Street”) and Chinatown. Further north you start running into Midtown with its big lights and big buildings, where you’ll find Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Station and the Ed Sullivan Theatre. North of that is Central Park along with the Upper East Side and Upper West Side (relative to the park, of course) where you’ll find the Met, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Natural History. North of the park is Harlem (I haven’t been). Walking within each neighbourhood is certainly doable, but if you’re going to be going from Midtown to Downtown you’ll wanna take the subway unless you feel like wearing out your shoes. It’s a nice walk, but I wouldn’t do it more than once.

Where to stay – It depends what you wanna do, but I think Midtown is best. It’s the area around Times Square between, say, the Empire State Building (34th Street) and the park (59th). It’s convenient walking distance to lots of stuff but also features main subway hubs if you’re going more than 10 blocks. It’s certainly where the tourist action is at with lots of bright lights, restaurants, theatres and gift shops. You can find quieter and cheaper places elsewhere but be prepared to take the subway more often. I stayed at the Milford Plaza during this last trip. It doesn’t get much respect from TripAdvisor or other sites, but my understanding is that it recently came under new management and has cleaned up a lot. It’s not fancy, but if you just want a clean bed and bathroom that is central, I don’t think you can top this for convenience. The decent complimentary breakfast saved us a good amount of dough and the plays we saw were literally around the corner.

Getting around – The Milford is a couple of short blocks from the Port Authority Bus Terminal (42nd & 8th), so we found the airport bus service a better deal than taking a cab. It depends which airport you fly into, but basically you’re looking at $22 each for a roundtrip. Not bad at all. Figure on spending about $40 for a cab ride each way. In town, you can walk a great deal and there’s lots of stuff to see as you do. If you’re going a fair distance, though, do yourself a favour and take the subway. It’ll save you time which you can spend on activities or browsing as opposed to “destination walking”. Fare is $2 per ride or you can spring for a week pass for $25 (worth it if you take 13 rides and don’t wanna bother with buying a fare each time).

Attraction deals – I bought an Entertainment Book a week before leaving. This is basically a coupon book with lots of 2-for-1 deals inside. It’s $30 normally, but $15 come the springtime (book is valid from November to November). The book didn’t seem as good this year as it was 5 years ago, but it was still worth it. It included a 2-for-1 for the Circle Line Island Cruise which is a nice way to appreciate the island. We used the book for a couple of restaurants, ice cream treats and museums. But if you’re gonna hit the highlights, the City Pass is the way to go. It offers admission to the big boys (Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Met, Natural History Museum, Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art) for $79US, which is almost half price. It also allows you to skip ticket lines at each of these venues, which is a big plus. The Empire State Building line can be a bitch, especially in the summer.

Theatre – we saw a few shows this time which featured tv/film stars such as Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden, Joan Allen, Jeremy Irons and others. They were good shows. Tickets for Broadway shows are normally $60-120. Off-Broadway tix are about half that and Off-Off-Broadway is half of that. For Broadway shows (around Times Square), you can pay full price to guarantee a seat in advance or you can try the TKTS booth in Times Square (or South Street Seaport) the afternoon-of to get what’s left at half price. My advice is that if you are seeing a “straight play” (as opposed to a musical) that you shell out for the big tickets whether it’s in advance or at TKTS. For musicals it may not be such a big deal to be in the nosebleeds, but otherwise you wanna be able to read the actors’ faces. The long shot option is to try a lottery. Some shows will have a lottery at around 6pm, offering a pair of tix (likely front row) for big musicals for $25 a pop if your name is one of, say, ten chosen out of a hat. I got to see Wicked that way and can no longer say “I never win anything”, ‘cause there must have been 300 people in that lottery and my name was the first one called. Oh, we also took in a one-man show by John Leguizamo in a small theatre in Greenwich Village which was a highlight of the trip. You don’t have to break the bank to find these gems – it was $20. I just happened across the theatre as I strolled down 7th Avenue, but I imagine some websurfing would yield results, too.

Museums – I still have not been to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which is the one gaping hole in my NYC experience. I’m not particularly a museum person, though, so I’ll live. I did the Louvre in an hour and a half, stopping only twice, so that gives you an idea of how much time I think is necessary to drink in what a museum has to offer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) is the big daddy. Located about halfway up the east side of the park, it has all the sorts of stuff you would expect from an all-encompassing art museum. Its size can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have the energy to spend 4 hours walking around looking at statues, artifacts and paintings. It’s pay-what-you-can, but $20 is suggested. The Guggenheim is just up the street and, in my opinion, is highly overrated. The admission price was about $18 from what I recall but offers a fraction of what other museum have. The building itself is the main attraction with its spiral atrium. Collections change regularly, I imagine, but my experience was less than satisfying. The Museum of Natural History is pretty massive and covers 4 floors. The dioramas are interesting enough, but you’d have to spend a week there to read all the accompanying text. The City Pass gets you into the planetarium as well, but don’t sweat it if you can’t squeeze in the only so-so show. Still, the museum is a great place for families and the dinosaur exhibit alone makes it worth a look. The Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum is located on the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier moored at 46th and the Hudson River (close to where that plane landed in the water). For history buffs or gearheads, this museum offers sights such as fighter aircraft, helicopters, flight simulators and the opportunity to crawl around the tight quarters of the Intrepid herself. I spent two hours there, browsing around. It’s one thing to look at history behind a display case, but another thing entirely to walk around within it. The Museum of Sex was a last-minute adventure we squeezed in on our last days. The Museum featured three main areas – the exhibit on sex in the animal kingdom was fascinating, but was quickly contrasted by the crassness of the “history of porn” room which featured clips from porn films over the years including recent celebrity sex tapes. Standing in that room with a bunch of strangers watching porn somehow made me feel like Paul Reubens. The third area was a sex art/toy display that was more what I had expected going in, and was meh.

Empire State Building – pretty much a must-see. The view of the city is spectacular. Most people will aim for a sunset viewing, so lines can be long in the late afternoon. We checked it out after a show and were delighted to find no lines. The observation deck is open until 1 or 2am, so if you don’t mind seeing lights instead of brick, this is the time to go. The City Pass also included an audio tour of sorts which was actually a nice bonus, though certainly not necessary.

Central Park – make time to stroll through the park either on your way to one of the museums or on its own. There are lots of winding paths, so you’ll likely not cover the whole thing, but each path has its own sights. Highlights include the bridges, merry-go-round, and Belvedere Castle (near 79th Street on the wets side).

The Village – Definitely worth a stroll. Lots of nice cafes and shops and atmosphere. I’d recommend a day of strolling the whole area encompassing Greenwich Village, SoHo, Tribeca, etc.

World Trade Centre – It’s now a construction site with boarding. There really isn’t anything to see other than this big expanse of open space amongst downtown buildings.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island – If you wanna visit inside, book in advance (like a week or more) since you can’t buy tix on the island itself and I imagine getting them last minute is dicey. You can’t go up into the crown (thanks, terrorists) but that’ll change come the fourth of July 2009. Still, I imagine getting tix for that portion will be super difficult since admission is quite limited (150/day, I think). We settled for walking once around the statue from the outside, which was fine. We then moved on to Ellis Island which has a fairly interesting (if sparse) museum chronicling some of the hardships new arrivals to the United States faced many moons ago. The museum starts off with some rather weak statistical displays and a shitty cafeteria, but picks up upstairs once you get to the picture galleries.

Brooklyn Bridge – some may argue it, but I think this is a walk worth taking. Take the subway across to Brooklyn and walk back to Manhattan before taking in some of the downtown sights. The bridge offers nice views of the city but is a beauty in and of itself. Just watch out for the morons who can’t seem to grasp the walkway/cycle path divide.

5th Avenue – I’d recommend walking this route to the park or the MoMA so that you can take in Rockefeller Centre and the fancy-dancy shops like Tiffany & Co and FAO Schwartz. Don’t plan on recreating that shot of Audrey Hepburn, though – the windows are covered by displays.

United Nations – Located on the east side near Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building, this might be worth visiting if you’re a politics nut. The General Assembly is only viewable if you take the $18 tour, which also features strange gifts from various countries as well as some naïve displays on how to solve the problems of the world. Still, a visit to the building is pretty useless unless you pony up for the tour. If you just wanna see the building, you can do that while knocking off the boat cruise or strolling by Grand Central.

Madison Square Garden – I had time to kill alone, so I took in the tour of “the world’s most famous arena”. Notice it is not “the best”. I’d have preferred to see it during a game or event, but nothing was going on while I was there (thanks, Rangers and Knicks). Can’t say I’d recommend the tour unless you’re a hard core sports fanatic. Not much to see, especially for $20.

Hot dogs – I’d generally avoid street meat, but at the very least don’t expect Toronto-style sausages. These New York dogs are strictly the thin Schneiders variety. Check out Papaya Dog at 42nd and 9th for a super-cheap hotdog/burger meal...if you dare.

What else…? Dunno.

If you have any questions, I’ll either respond or edit this post.

I’m hungry. I’m gonna go eat.