Friday, June 30, 2006

Okay, how freaking long is this damn FIFA World Cup? I am glad we are getting into the quarter finals which means this tournament is coming to an end. Despite incredible ratings both here in Canada and across the world, I just can't watch it. Every game runs into each other. Every score feels like it is 1-0.

Top 5 things I want to change about soccer.
1. Eliminate offsides. Why is their a rule in a sport which has lower scores than any other sport that inhibits scoring? I realize this will change the way the sport is played but it will certainly be more interesting.

2. Decrease penalty severity. For us non-soccer fans, the diving by offensive players who are near defenders just makes us nuts. As reported by Coglero on Tuesday, the Italy/Australia game featured a call by the ref with seconds remaining in the game that was a borderline dive. This resulted in a penalty kick that Italy was able to convert to score the one and only goal of the game and allowed them a spot in this weekend's quarter final.

3. All passes must be forward or lateral, no back passes. Again, this will increase offense and allow teams to set up more scoring chances.

4. Add a shot clock. This wouldn't be a time limit for getting a shot on goal. But a time limit to get across the centre line. Again increasing offense and allowing teams to set up more scoring chances.

5. Make the goal crease smaller. The goalie has way too much area to come out and grab the ball from offensive players. I suggest that the goalie is forced to hang back more and allow the offense to take more shots.

I know that my friends who are soccer fans, both Coglero and Wee Scunner will be against these changes and will explain to me that as a North American I just don't get the sport. And they're right. I just don't have this world cup fever. Even my friends at CBC who I am in a baseball pool with have caught the soccer bug.

Ironically, Coglero has entered two teams in my office's World Cup pool. One is under his name while another is under mine. The team under my name is currently tied for fourth place in our pool. People at work keep asking me how I could possibly be doing this well. They walk by my desk while every tv in our office is on a soccer match, mine is on a repeat of Law & Order. As a matter of fact, the quarter final match between Germany and Argentina will be starting shortly. I think I will be watching Rachel Ray on the food network instead.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Previous posting deleted by accident (and that is probably a good thing)

I had written a posting that talked about public speaking, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's retort during the 1988 VP debates to Dan Quayle where he said "you are no Jack Kennedy" and the tree dedication ceremony for my Dad last year. In other words, it was all over the place with no rhyme or reason. My computer issues at work ended up deleting that posting which is probably for the best.

The one part I will keep is the fact that Moose, the dog who played Eddie on the show Frasier recently passed away. He was 16. Very sad as his role on the show is the only time I have ever seen animals used as comic relief and it actually being funny.

If you ever want to be updated on celebrity deaths as soon as they happen. I recommend It is a service that automatically sends you an email when a celebrity dies. They currently have over 15, 000 subscribers. For those of you in a death pool, this is a valuable service.

As my original posting mentioned that scene in Great Balls of Fire where Jerry Lee Lewis (Dennis Quaid) is upset about having to open for ChuckBerry so he lights his piano on fire during the last song of his set and then walks off stage casually mentioning to Berry "Try and follow up THAT", my Top 5 list is as follows:

Top 5 Dennis Quaid Movies
1. The Big Easy
2. Any Given Sunday
3. Frequency
4. In Good Company
5. Far From Heaven

Wow, the bulk of that work is after 1999. Never really was a fan of early stuff he was in like Enemy Mine, DOA and Inner Space. Though I did like him as Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp. That may have been his best performance ever. But, gun to my head, I would rather watch those other five films on my list first.

Here is a funny World Cup story about certain "disabled" fans who were ejected for jumping. These three fans from Argentina, purchased wheelchairs and bought special cheap seats for disabled fans for a sold out World Cup match. However, they got a little too excited during the Argentina/Holland match, jumped up and down and their ruse was quickly found out.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's a bird, it's a's, wait, why do I care?

So there is a new Superman movie being released this week and the buzz for it appears to be lukewarm. Lukewarm absolutely describes my feelings about this whole franchise. Put it simply, I just don't get it.

My Top 5 issues with the Superman franchise.
1. Okay, why does no one recognize that Clark Kent is Superman. I mean he is just wearing glasses. Come on!!!! He works at a newspaper with reporters! You telling me that none of these so called journalists can't figure it out?

2. Wouldn't the events of the first Superman movie from 1978 with Christopher Reeve make Superman realize that he can be pretty lazy? If you don't remember, things start to go to hell so he flies around the earth spinning it backwards on it's axis. This forces time to go backwards so he can still end up saving everyone. To me, the only good Superman movie is Superman II. That's where the three criminals imprisoned by Superman's father Jor-el end up escaping and land on earth to kill the "son of their jailer" (imagine that said by Terence Stamp). They each have the same powers as Superman and they team up with mastermind criminal Lex Luther. Superman 3 was an embarrassment as Richard Pryor is a computer conman who steals from the bank he works for by having all parts of a penny rounded off interestn calculations and deposited into his own account. This was memorably spoofed in the film Office Space. The fourth Superman movie was even worse as they went for a movie that was an allegory about the nuclear arms race.

3. Exactly how powerful is kryptonite? Kryptonite is supposed to be part of Superman's exploded planet. The theory being that if he is around it, he loses all the power that the earth's gravitational pull is supposed to give him. But it should just make him as weak as an average human. Why is it sometimes it makes him so weak that he is almost dying. It's like what ever the plot needs him to do to overcome it, that's how strong the kryptonite is.

4. Do we really ever believe Superman can lose? I mean he is the strongest man on the planet. His arch enemy is no tough guy in Lex Luther. He is just a weasel bent on world domination? So if we know he is going to win, why am I watching the movie.

5. Why do all these bizarre things happen to actors who have played Superman. First there was George Reeves who played Superman in the 50s TV show The Adventures Of Superman. His death was ruled a suicide but many have maintained that the circumstances seem a bit odd and believe that he was killed. This is story is about to be made into a film called Hollywoodland starring Ben Affleck. Then there is the Christopher Reeve and the fact that he fell off a horse in 1995 and was paralyzed from the neck down. If I was current Superman actor Brandon Routh, I would be very nervous.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Let's play ball (again, again and again)

So my slo-pitch team played in its first tournament this past weekend in Ajax, Ontario. This tournament was the first one our team had ever been involved in and the first one I had played in since I was a teenager.

Worst 5 Baseball Movies of all time
1. Major League: Back To The Minors
2. Summer Catch
3. Mr. 3000
4. Ed
5. For Love Of The Game

Tournaments are always an intense affair as your team is forced to play short games sometimes back to back, sometimes a couple hours apart.

For this tournament, in disgustingly hot weather, we played a game at 10:15 (we won) and then another right after at 11:30 (we lost).
We then had a couple of hours to kill before our next game. As is the standard for some reason with tournaments, our team chose to have some cold refreshments (eg. cold beer) at a nearby watering hole.

The third game of the day proved to be another loss but it was clear that we were still going to qualify for the semi finals the next day. The final game of the day was right after. Not a lot of effort was put into that as we were all exhausted from the strain of playing and the heat. As the team's manager I rested whoever needed it and made sure people didn't get hurt.

The drama was saved for the semi final game the next day at 1 pm. Our team started off slow and were down 4-0 after the first couple of innings. The team we were playing were a rather nasty bunch. Everytime one of our players was getting ready to catch a popfly, they would yell "no glove, no golove" over and over. Our team prides ourselves on being good sports and we were rather shocked by this display. Equally nasty comments were directed at our hitters. But this seemed to incite our team as we exploded for six runs in the fourth and another 4 in the fifth.

Going into the last inning, we had a fun run lead. However, it was not to be as we gave up 6 runs to lose a chance at the finals. I am not sure our team had enough energy for another game. We pretty much gave it our all and would not have had much left to play an even better team an hour later.

This tournament that we entered was a rather last minute decision and meant that J-Mac and I missed out on the Polo for Heart. We usually go every year and it is a lot of fun and not as snobby as you would think. Really, it is just hockey on horses. Plus it is on private property which means you can bring your own food and drinks to enjoy during the games.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Why do I not care about music videos anymore

I grew up in the age of Toronto Rocks, Video Hits, Good Rockin' Tonite and finally Much Music. For anyone over the age of 30, you know that this was how we were introduced to the art of music videos.

Living outside of Toronto without cable, I did not often get to see Toronto Rocks, but I would always rush home to watch Video Hits on CBC around 5:30 and stayed up until 11:30 pm on Friday night to watch Good Rockin' Tonite with first Terry David Mulligan and later Stu Jeffries.

I used to be fascinated by them until I began to realize that they really serve no function other than to promote the artist. They are not really an art form representing the song. And like listening to pop radio, if the song is a hit it just gets played over and over. Whether the actual video is any good or not. And like Canadian pop radio, a certain percentage of the videos they would show would have to be Canadian (which meant endless Bryan Adams, Corey Hart and that awful Jane Sibbery video for Mimi On The Beach.

My Top 5 Favourite Videos
1. Cloudbusting (Kate Bush)
2. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (Ultravox)
3. Tomorrow's Girls (Donald Fagan)
4. Ashes To Ashes (David Bowie)
5. Brilliant Disguise (Bruce Springsteen)

I'll be honest, other than the first two, I did not give that list much thought. I don't normally like performance videos and that Springsteen one is sort of a performance one. But it is shot in this stark kitchen with the camera slowly moving towards him as he sings the song and plays guitar. The contrast of the term brilliant disguise matched with the visual of him figuratively naked is really cool. There's a Queen video called The Miracle that first has these kids performing the song dressed like the members of Queen and then the real members show up at the end. I am making it sound cheesy, I actually thought it was kind of heartfelt.

Anyway, if you are in the mood to watch videos, the website pitchfork has posted a list of the 100 Awesome Music Videos with youtube links for each so you can check them out. As well, here is a another website featuring dozens of videos from the 80s.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

High School Memories

So through my job, I received an email from someone who had a name matching an old friend of mine who I went to High School with. His name always stuck with me because it is the same name as a famous singer. But based on the email address, I assumed it wasn't either of these people. I responded with the business info he was looking for and he then responded asking if I went to the same high school as him.

We then got to talking and he apologized for something he did when he was drunk around the time of graduation. If you can imagine, he made it sound like some sort of scene between Andrew McCarthy and Judd Nelson in St. Elmos Fire. I had no idea what he was talking about but his apology sounded all step #8 of the 12 step program. It turns out that he is now a minister living in northern Saskatchewan. He is about to move his family to Mexico to help with an orphanage. It was just nice to hear about someone I went to high school with actually trying to make a difference. I actually felt guilty about the irrelevance of my own job.

Top 5 Movies about High School
1. The Breakfast Club
2. Say Anything
3. American Graffiti
4. American Pie
5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Speaking of high school, I am still torn about this "marriage" between Mary Kay Letourneau and her student-now-husband Vili Fualaau.

If you remember they first met when he was in her grade 2 class, he was 8, she was 28. She was again his teacher when he was in grade 6 and they started a sexual relationship when he was 13.

At first, I was thinking like Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labour Robert Reich said, "where were teachers like her when I was in school?" But now, as I am older, I see it purely as manipulation of a child by an adult woman who must have some serious problems.

But now, I am even more confused. So she was arrested for statutory rape and was sentanced to over 7 years in prison. The term was suspended and she only had to go to a county jail for six months. After that smaller term was up, against the terms of her probation, she was found in her car with Faulaau again. She was then sent back to prison for the full sentance.

She was released on parole in August 2004. Literally, that same day, the now adult aged Faulaau applied to the court to lift the no-contact order and it was granted. They married in May 2005. So this is either a sad, sad tale that continues and effects her four children from her original marriage (that she has no contact with) or the two kids they now have together. Or maybe this is the greatest love story in the history of the planet. Something that will be written about centuries from now.

Anyway, they recently had their one year anniversary and their PR machine has been in full swing lately and they have been interviewed by everyone from Larry King to Dateline. I am not usually fooled by such obvious public relations tactics...but for me...this time it worked.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Prison Break News

As many of you would remember from an earlier posting of mine. I am a big fan of charactor actor William Fichtner. Well, after the failed show he starred in last year called Invasion, he is about to star in the new season of Prison Break. He will play the federal agent on the trail of the escaped convicts from last year. An even bigger reason for me to be happy about the new season of this stellar show.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lefty is still all right with me

Having discussed yesterday about the sport event I didn't watch. I thought I would touch on a sport I did watch this past weekend. The US Open. The Masters and the British Open are events I prefer but the US Open holds a certain fascination for me. The reason is that the course is usually so difficult that every year, certain top players do not make the cut and the golfer who wins usually has a score closer to what I get on a good day. This just makes me feel like maybe I am not as bad as I think.

Of course, what everyone was talking about was how Mickelson lost it on the 18th hole. Yes, he had a one stroke lead and yes he should have played it safe. But he didn't, and I respect that. Like Ted Williams in 1941. Going into the final game of the season, his batting average was .400. Despite being offered the day off, he played both games of the double header going 6 for 8 and raising his average to .407. To this day, he is the last hitter to end a season with a batting average over .400. Like that copy guy says to Jerry Maguire after he gets his mission statement printed off, "That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there!"

Top 5 underrated lines from Jerry Maguire.
1. Jerry Maguire. "I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens. I'll give you fifteen minutes to call me back."
2. Jerry Maguire. "Have you ever gotten the feeling that you aren't completely embarassed yet, but you glimpse tomorrow's embarrassment?"
3. Rod Tidwell during an argument with Jerry where Jerry seems like he is about to lose it. "You are hanging on by a very thin thread and I dig that about you!"
4. Dorothy Boyd after her son asks her what's wrong as they are both sitting on a plane. "First class is what's wrong. It used to just be a better meal, now, it's a better life."
5. Chad the Nanny talking to Jerry outside Dorothy's house. He gives him a cassette and says "This... is Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Stockholm. 1963... two masters of freedom, playing in a time before their art was corrupted by a zillion cocktail lounge performers who destroyed the legacy of the only American artform -- JAZZ."

The worst choke in golf history, to me, is still Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters. He had a six stroke lead going into the final day. He shot a ridiculous 78 and lost to Nick Faldo by five strokes. Do that math in your head for a second and you see how badly he actually messed it up. It's a choke that still defines him to this day. My prediction right now is that he finishes second in the upcoming British Open. Second only because Tiger Woods will be on a mission at that time and should win it easily.


Carolina on my mind (well, no not really)

So it was game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last night. Carolina won 3-1. The winning goal was scored off an Oilers' defenceman's butt as he attempted to block a shot. This doesn't mean I was actually watching that much of the game, I just felt like I was supposed to watch it.

Top 5 reasons why I don't watch hockey (even with the new rules)
1. Well, my home town team is the Toronto Maple Leafs and they are a wreck of a franchise.
2. The insistence that fighting is still a viable part of the game. If it is, why is their no fighting in the playoffs. How is it other sports like football, basketball and baseball can get away with not having fighting as a regular on-field occurence.
3. The lack of multicultural-ness among the players. The league needs more Anson Carters's and less Darcy Tuckers.
4. Too many teams. I still am shocked that their are NHL franchises inCarolina, Columbus, Phoenix, Atlanta (again!) and the most mind-numbing Nashville.
5. The regular season means nothing. Too many teams still end up making the playoffs which forces the playoffs to go way too late in the year.

Wee scunner also wrote about the NHL in a blog entry last week. So it is pretty clear she wasn't watching that game. However, her sister probably did. The irony being that she currently lives in Japan and watching the game requires her to go to the Maple Leaf Sports Bar in Shibuya at 9 am local to see it.

I work in the sports media, the talk during the day of the game was about where you were going to watch the game. When my boss asked me, I told him that I had just bought Shaun Of The Dead on DVD and was planning to watch it that night. The look on his face was intended not only to question me as a Canadian but to also question me as a man as well. The fact is, I was looking forward to seeing that movie again. So, yes, I rewatched a British zombie movie as opposed to watching game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Though I did click over to see what ended up being the winning goal and to watch the last minute of the game. Though as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart started at 11 pm, I stopped watching the celebration in order to catch up on a fake US news program. If that means I need to revoke my Canadian citizenship, so be it.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

"Now, you know we don't have a sure way to fight a fire over the seventh floor, but you just keep building 'em higher and higher."

So as mentioned in my blog entry yesterday, I purchased the new 2 disc DVD version of The Towering Inferno. The DVD includes tones of extras, probably more than this movie deserves with commentaries by film historian F.X. Feeney and scene-specific commentaries by Mike Vezina (X Men 3) and Branko Racki (The Day After Tomorrow). As well as nine featurettes, 30 extended/deleted scenes. As well as smaller features too numerous to mention.

Sure the movie is cheesy, but it's not as bad as any other disaster movies from the 70s like Airport, The Poseiden Adventure or Earthquake. Why? Because, as I kept reminding J-Mac as I was convincing her to watch it last night, it freaking stars Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.

Top 5 Paul Newman Movies
1. The Hustler
2. Cool Hand Luke
3. The Sting
4. Hud
5. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

There is no way The Towering Inferno should have worked. Essentially, two different movie studios were rushing to film disaster films set inside buildings. One was to be based on The Tower by Richard Martin Stern and The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson. The two studios, instead of competing against each other pooled their resources and created one big epic film.

Watching this film with a more critical eye post 9/11, the film was clearly inspired by the making of the World Trade Center and watching the film get destroyed, people get trapped above and below the fire, watching people jump to their death as opposed to dying of smoke inhallation is sad and the connection to what happened to those poor people in the world trade centre is obvious.

What kills me about the film is that there are no less than 4 weasles in the movie and most of them do have an appropriate death. The best of the weasels is Richard Chamberlain. His performance is even more interesting now that we all know that the actor is gay. Throughout the movie who knows that his wife, the daughter of the building's owner, does not believe he is enough of a man. He uses shoddy wiring to help get the approval of his father-in-law and to receive kickbacks. His living room features a large gun on the wall and a tartan spread over the couch but the room still feels like someone who is trying to look masculine, not someone who actually is masculine. However, near the end of the movie, he finally tries to assert himself which eventually leads to his own death.

Robert Wagner and Robert Vaughn, two classic movie slimeballs, are equally weasally in this film. Both find an appropriate fate by the end of the film. William Holden, whose character is probably most implicit in the building's eventual fate does survive but probably the guilt in what happened to all those people is much worse for him than actually dying.

Of course the film's most bizarre casting is OJ Simpson as the building's head of security. In this post Bronco era, seeing Simpson on screen is now just plain icky. This is probably one of his first roles and his lack of skills is obvious. He has a scene where HE has to yell at Paul Newman and despite the fact that his character should be the more dominant one in the scene, Newman ends up communicating more by not saying anything.

I really love McQueen and Newman in this film. Though, their performances are so good, it is almost like they are in a different movie. McQueen was originally supposed to play Newman's character, the building's architect. While Ernest Borgnine, would handle the role of the fire chief. When the producers saw they could get Newman, they jumped at the chance. Though, at McQueen insistence, they had to have EXACTLY the same amount of lines during the film.

The combination had been worked on in the past, they almost did Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid together years earlier. But when McQueen dropped out, Robert Redford joined the cast and the rest is history.

The true hero of the Towering Inferno is probably the writer Stirling Silliphant. He is the one who melded the two books together taking 7 characters from each book as well as the climax from each of them the lifeline across to the other building and the blowing up of the water tanks to drown out the fire.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ruebens and zombies

So we are getting to that time of year where the weather is so hot I can't even think straight during the day. Friday was one of those days so I took a long lunch from work and had lunch at an outdoor patio with Emo.

He had wings. The man eats more wings than any other human. I see him and I want to go yelling to all the chickens telling them HE IS THE ONE! HE IS THE ONE WHOSE MURDEROUS APPETITE FOR WINGS IS KILLING ALL YOUR BRETHEREN. But then I realize that considering every bar on the planet has chicken wings specials, obviously there are thousands and thousands of chickens being bred just to satisfy our insatiable need for chicken wings. Well, not mine personally. I really try to only eat wings if I am in Buffalo, NY and at the Anchor Bar. Seriously, the best wings I have ever had are served there.

But on this day, in Toronto, I had a reuben for lunch. This has taken over from the clubhouse as my favourite sandwich. Even when a reuben is bad, it is still pretty good. At it's best, it's corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, russian dressing served on pumpernickle bread. When it's bad, it's still beef and sauerkraut with mustard on bread. In the movie Quiz Show, a character talking about the reuben, says it is the only entirely man-made sandwich. I guess this is because all of it's ingredients do not appear in its natural state. Still, no matter where I am, if a reuben is on the menu, I am ordering it.

It's a Friday payweek so J-Mac and I were out for dinner. We are currently working on a three restaurant rotation and this time, it was our time to go for japanese at Nami on Adelaide. I got downtown early and went to HMV to see if there was anything interesting to buy. As part of their two for $30 DVD sale. I bought a special edition of The Towering Inferno and Shaun Of The Dead.

Top 5 Zombie Movies
1. Shaun Of The Dead
2. Night Of The Living Dead
3. Army Of Darkness
4. Dawn Of The Dead (1978 not 2004)
5. 28 Days Later

I realize Shaun Of The Dead is just a zombie movie but it was #2 on my list of top 5 movies of 2004 (Sideways the obvious #1) and it is absolutely hilarious with references to other zombie movies, Star Wars and a little wink for fans of the British version of The Office. If you haven't seen it (Emo, who was complaining that there aren't any great movies being made these days) you should give this a try.


Friday, June 16, 2006

For Pink Floyd fans (who happen to like the film It's A Wonderful Life)

After writing about It's A Wonderful Life yesterday, I found a website that details the synchronicity when watching that film while listening to the 1975 Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here.

It includes 20 connections between watching the film and listening to the CD over and over at the exact same time. Things like during the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond, when the line "Remember when you were young", the scene in the movie is a close up of George Bailey as a young lad.

Furthering this connection, if you look at this cover of Wish You Were Here, it clearly is a the backlot of a movie studio. Is this a hint or just a coincidence?

Top 5 Jimmy Stewart movies

1. Vertigo

2. It's A Wonderful Life

3. Rear Window

4. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

5. Winchester '73

We are now into day 8 of the World Cup and I found a funny joke about it. Though I am pretty sure it was originally about the Chicago Cubs in the World Series but you get the point.

A man had great tickets for the World Cup Final. As he sits down, another man comes down and asks if anyone is sitting in the empty seat next tohim."No," he says. "The seat is empty." This is incredible!" says the other man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the WorldCup Final, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?""Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. My wife was supposed to come with me, but she passed away.This is the first World Cup Final we haven't been to together since we got married in 1966 in London.""Oh ... I'm sorry to hear that. That's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?"The man shakes his head. "No. They're all at the funeral."


Thursday, June 15, 2006

My first birdie

So my golf career continues to go forward in leaps and bounds as I scored my first birdie last Friday. True it was on par 3 but still it was something. Using a 9 iron, I hit it over water the full 98 yards to the hole and about 15 feet to the right of it. Having rained all morning, I had already found that the greens had been spongy all day, I hit it a little harder than normal and it went straight in.

J-Mac also scored her first ever birdie on the same course earlier but her shot was much more impressive. It was about 120 yards off the top of a small cliff. It was a slightly shorter putt than mine but considering she had to wait to finish off the hole as my shot off the tee went way right over some trees near the next tee. For her to wait for me to finally get on the green and then finally sink it, it was an impressive display.

The American Film Institute has come up with another one of it's Top 100 lists. This time it is the Top 100 Most Inspiring Films. The top three were prime examples of film list cliches. First was It's A Wonderful Life. I do like watching it every Christmas but, as my Mom says, don't you just want to smack Jimmy Stewart's character after a while for being so damned selfless? Though, since it co-stars the lovely Gloria Grahame, I can never complain about it. Number 2 was To Kill A Mockingbird. You knew that had to be there. And #3 was Schindler's List. Again, as could be expected. Obviously, that was the winner of Best Picture at the Academy Award in 1993, though I would have prefered The Remains Of The Day.

Top 5 Least Favourite Recent Best Picture Academy Award Winning Films.

1. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

2. Unforgiven

3. The English Patient

4. The Silence Of The Lambs

5. Gladiator

In movie casting news, first the good news. John Cusack looks to have signed on to play Harvey Dent aka Two Face in the next Batman film. Hopefully he will be better than Tommy Lee Jones in that awful Batman sequel from the 90s. I still don't understand how Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent (in a small part) in the original Tim Burton film but then when he played a fully developed bad guy in the third Batman film, it all the sudden became Tommy Lee Jones.

Now the bad. Instead of George Clooney and his gang, it looks like Ben Affleck will be playing Thomas Magnum in the upcoming Magnum PI movie. It sounded like George Clooney playing Magnum was going to be a done deal with I imagine, Brad Pitt playing Rick Wright, Don Cheadle playing TC and, possibly, Ricky Gervais from The Office playing John Hillerman.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I don't know karate...but I know car-azy

Entertainment Weekly has a list of the top 10 car chases in the history of film. They have the top 3 dead right (but in the wrong order) with #1 being The French Connection, #2 Bullitt and #3 Ronin. Personally, I would take Bullitt because of the realism of McQueen who clearly is doing all the stunt driving. And, if you remember, the person who is doing the chasing at the beginning of the car chase actually becomes the chas-ee by the end of it. No other car chase has that.

My Top 5 Car Chase scenes
1. Bullitt
2. The French Connection
3. Ronin
4. The Blues Brothers
5. Die Hard With A Vengeance

The French Connection was amazing under the elevated subway as Gene Hackman grits his teeth and yells at everyone to get out of his way. But nothing beats Bullitt.

Also on the list is The Blues Brothers (too low at #7) and Charlie's Angels at #9 (yeah, I don't remember that either). Die Hard With A Vengeance should be on the list and it's omission clearly hurts the list's credibility. I would put it at #5. The whole movie is one long chase scene with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson commandeering vehicles from taxis to private citizens vehicles as they search around Manhattan for clues by madman Simon Gruber (brother of Alan Rickman's character from the first Die Hard).

I am a little concerned about the in production sequel to Die Hard tentatively called Die Hard 4: Die Hardest. The early details on the plot is that Willis' character comes out of retirement to defeat an internet based terrorist organization. They will obviously put his family in jeopardy since the cast will include his son and daughter. The daughter was almost played by "shudder" Jessica Simpson and the son may be played by Justin Timberlake. Plus, the director is Len Wiseman whose only other credits are the Underworld movies (which I have seen neither of but doesn't help lessen my worry in the least).

Speaking of concerns, apparently, Eminem is going to star in a film version of the western Have Gun, Will Travel. Don't worry, it won't be an actual western. He will actually be a modern day bounty hunter. Not sure if that makes it better or worse.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tuesday Musings

So I spent another Monday night watching Canadian Idol. I still don't know why they have four judges. The funny thing is they are all basically mean. Even Sass Jordan, the nice one, can be a little harsh. The one thing this foursome does do is actually try to make a difference. They do offer advice to help people, even in the tryout stage. One poor guy who had a decent voice last night, kept doing this Mariah Carey over-singing, stretching out the vocals thing. They advised me him how to tone it done, he did it during the same audition and ended up going to "Hollywood"...well Toronto anyway.

Cogs of The Cogs Tabloid is currently touring Europe having just left Amsterdam and is currently in Germany to watch some world cup matches with his brother. His postings while there are pretty funny. He is sounding like Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction talking about what is different over in Europe compared to North America. Speaking of John Travolta, it's funny that his scientology beliefs haven't made him as wacky as Tom Cruise. Though, judging by his movie choices, maybe they have.

Top 5 John Travolta Movies

1. Pulp Fiction

2. Saturday Night Fever

3. Get Shorty

4. Blow Out

5. Primary Colors

My sister in law Tokyo Lola has also jumped in on the blog bandwagon. She is currently living in Japan and her postings are a fascinating look at Japanese life. Plus the pictures are cool.

Have you read the sordid sex stories of Heather Mills (nee McCartney). Fascinating stuff. Makes you wonder the reason behind the recent ending of her marriage to Paul McCartney. Maybe it was based on her feelings on his weaker songs like Freedom or (shudder) Pipes of Peace.

Still not catching World Cup fever yet. As J-Mac is a soccer fan, I am stuck watching this tournament every four years. I get that this is the best soccer in the world but I never know who to cheer for. And do I really care. I can't get into it. And why must people in the city of Toronto whose parents were born in some place in Europe get into fights with other people from the city of Toronto whose parents were born in some other place in Europe?


Monday, June 12, 2006

Good news, bad news

Okay, here's the good. Oregon State University researchers have identified an ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer. Apparently the compound xanthohumol, found in hops helps guard against cancer cells that can develop in the prostate gland.

Okay, here's the bad. There is such a minute trace of this compound in hops that you would need to drink more than 17 beers to get the benificial effect. However, the Germans (ooo the Germans) have developed a beer with a more concentrated version of xanthohumol.

Top 5 of my favourite beers
1. Sam Adams Boston Lager
2. Smithwicks
3. Guiness
4. Sleeman IPA
5. Mill Street Tankhouse Ale

As long as I can remember discerning good beer from bad, I have always liked Sam Adams. Getting it in Canada, is quite a chore. Here in Toronto, the Bier Markt had it on draught years ago but they stopped. Good thing as I hate going there anyway. Too pricey and too snobby. They probably still have it in bottles as well as other establishments that advertise as having hundreds of beers like Smokeless Joes and the Beer Bistro. But it feels like I am the only one in Canada who actually cares about drinking this amber goldness.

But in the US, they have it everywhere. Last time I was in Chicago, we went to this italian restaurant called Maggiano's. I asked the bartender for a Sam Adams and he said something that still brings tears to my eyes, "which kind?". You see there are dozens of kinds from summer ales to lagers that just are not available in Canada.

J-Mac and I were stuck in Plattsburgh, New York one night. The town looked almost deserted but we were still able to go to the store and get some beer. They practically had a wall of different Sam Adams. However, we drive an hour north to Ottawa and you can only get the basic version and even that is only in bottles.

As a matter of fact, we were in St. Pete's beach earlier this year. We went to this nasty bar just off the beach and even THEY had Sam Adams on draught. AND when we went to this tennis club for the family reunion, even THEY had it on draught. In other words, what I am saying is that if Samuel Adams is still around and needs a head of public relations here in Canada, I am willing to take the job. It's the least I could do if it helps our people drink more xanthohumol.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Waiting for tannens

I am not a huge wine drinker. Frankly, I only started over a year ago and that was only because it economically made sense. J-Mac is a wine drinker but can't finish a bottle every night (for obvious reasons). We used to end up throwing out wine because she would never finish it, it would sit around for days and end up being no good while I stuck with drinking beer or rye and gingers. I decided to jump on the wine bandwagon and from a monetary point of view, it has made sense. No wine ever went to waste.

As discussed in a previous blog entry, we drove down to the Niagara region a couple of weeks ago and went to a number of wineries. There is a lot to know about wine, and I have to admit, I have no freaking clue. There is too much to learn. What wine to drink with what food. What regions are good. What wine do you drink right away and what wine do you store as it will get better with age. How long do you let it breathe? The list goes on and on.

And the internet is no help when it comes to wine. Do you realize there are actual blogs dedicated just to wine. Here is one that seemed pretty good. But then again, what do I know. I am writing this after splitting a bottle of wine with J-Mac that was a bordeaux (or was it a cabernet?). We had it with chicken marinated in a mole sauce. Should we have had coronas instead?

With the upcoming summer, thoughts of music come to mind. Reggae sounds like summer more than any other music. And nothing says reggae like Bob Marley. Of course, Bob Marley's CD Legend is in everyone's CD collection which really takes away from the meaning of the music. If I hear Stir It Up or One Love one more time, I will lose my mind.

Top 5 Bob Marley songs1. Iron Lion Zion2. Redemption Song3. Buffalo Soldier4. Three Little Birds5. Simmer Down

It's funny that reggae has also been appropriated by people not of Jamaican descent. Early songs by the Police, The Tide Is High by Blondie and Led Zeppelin's D'yer M'aker have all taken advantage of that reggae style. The latest example is by, god help me, Paris Hilton. She actually has an album out and the lead single is Stars Are Blind which has that breezy reggae beat. I hate to say this, and J-Mac disagrees, but I think it is actually listenable. Many people have careers with voices worse than hers (hello Madonna, Paul Abdul, Jennifer Lopez). If you go to her official (and quite safe) website, the track plays as soon as you log on. As well, you can see the video for the song (still relatively safe). Though the footage does seem ripped off of Janet Jackson's video for Love Will Never Do.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wild Man Blues

So the trailer for Woody Allen's new film Scoop with Scarlett Johanssen, Hugh Jackman and Ian McShane. It is Woody's second british production in a row as last year's Match Point which also starred Scarlett Johanssen.

Despite all the praise heaped on Match Point, I have yet to see it. This is a rather sad fact as I have always considered myself a huge Woody Allen fan.

Top 5 Woody Allen Movies
1. Annie Hall
2. Crimes And Misdemeanors
3. Love And Death
4. Manhattan Murder Mystery
5. Play It Again, Sam

As you can see from this list, the films are from between 1969 and 1989. Despite the fact that Allen continues to release films once per year. With each one, i get less excited. Some feel gimmicky...this one's a musical...this one's shot like a German expressionist film...this one has a greek chorus.

And then seeing these films in the theatre is even more of an "experience". The threatre is always filled with Woody Allen fans only and they laugh and laugh like it is the funniest thing they ever saw when in fact the bulk of his latter films are just sad comparisons to his earlier work.

Top 5 Worst Woody Allen films
1. Hollywood Ending
2. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
3. Alice
4. Melinda And Melinda
5. Anything Else

Having said that, this Scoop trailer makes the film look really good. I love anything with Ian McShane. Not that I am a fan of the western HBO series Deadwood. But Ian McShane plays a brothel/saloon owner Al Swearengen. An ironic name as his character swears like no one else ever has in the history of television.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Some Tuesday Musings

Why are there four judges on Canadian Idol? Does the foursome really trump the American Idol threesome?

Maybe I really am not a sports fan. The Stanley Cup finals are on, last night was game one and I watched about 5 minutes of it. The NBA playoffs are in full swing and I have not watched a second of it. I don't believe I have watched an NBA playoff game since Jordan sank that last minute basket to win the Bulls their last championship. The FIFA World Cup is about to start and I can't see me watching much of that either.

What is the deal with Deal Or No Deal. How are people watching it? Seriously, nothing much actually happens, it is just a chance for Howie Mandel to keep that career going. A recent SNL skit really hits home about what is wrong with that lame game show. And why was Canadian songstress Celine Dion on the show last night?

Whatever happened to Anna Chlumsky from the My Girl films? Some website I have never heard of has an article written by her that is borderline interesting but is really more self-serving than anything.

Why do I continue to be fascinated by the career of Mariah Carey?

Why does actor John Cusack continue to do movies that if I was an actor, i would want to star in or wish I had written? Okay, Con-Air is the one exception.

Top 5 John Cusack films that (sort of) mirror or mirrored my life at some point.
1. High Fidelity
2. Grosse Pointe Blank
3. Say Anything
4. The Sure Thing
5. Hot Pursuit

If you are interested, Cusack sometimes writes on The Huffinton Post.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Katrina and the waves (or Do You Miss New Orleans)

This month's Vanity Fair magazine has a number of articles that deal with last year's Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath in Louisiana. The first of which details exactly what the local mayors and governers did just before, during and after that helped make the situation worse.

The second is an excerpt from Anderson Cooper's new book Dispatches From The Edge which details his own reaction to Katrina as well as dwelling on the suicide of his brother while he was in college.

The third of which is a photo montage of ex-Paris Hilton playmate Nicole Richie which I guess shows the effect of starvation which a number of New Orlean's residents had to go through in the wake of Katrina.

Reading all of this reminded me of that great telethon that was produced after Katrina. I was only watching it as Harry Connick Jr and Wynton Marsalis were playing together. But, a fascinating thing happened as various celebrities were on screen asking for viewers to donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

For some odd reason, Kanye West and Mike Myers were paired together. Myers spoke first and talked about the devesation in New Orleans. Kanye West spoke second and it was clear he was adlibbing as Myers looked like he wished he could disappear as West spoke. Myers spoke again and his words were completely unrelated to what West had just said. The funny part is that he then threw it back to West and West made his famous "George Bush hates black people" line. What was even better was that the camera (finally) cut him off and showed Chris Tucker (the first black person they could find?) backstage grabbing something out of the fridge. He looked even more uncomfortable than Myers as he mumbled some pre-written speech about Katrina.

If you haven't seen the video, check it out on Or, even better, Chris Rock's spoof of that speech.

In reference to Mike Myers, Top 5 films featuring cast members from Saturday Night Live.
1. Wonder Boys (with Robert Downey Jr.)
2. The Blues Brothers (with Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi)
3. When Harry Met Sally or City Slickers (with Billy Crystal)
4. Tootsie (with Bill Murray)
5. Fletch (with Chevy Chase)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Does Phil Mickelson have these problems?

I, your faithful narrator, would just like to advise you of my experience at a big box golf store called Golf Town this past weekend. I am just starting to learn golf and I need some clubs. I only want to spend around $300, nothing to crazy.

Apparently, because I golf lefthanded, this process is not as easy as I thought. I found numerous sets I liked in their store in Scarborough on Friday. However, the procedure to try and purchase them was lengthy. The salesperson would have to go in the back and see if they had any for lefties. They would then come back 5 minutes later and explain they only have righthanded versions. I would then find another set and the process would begin again. After 6 seperate tries, I finally gave up and walked out.

The next day, I went to the Golf Town in downtown Toronto on King Street. I found a set that I liked. Again, the process began. The salesperson gives me a smirk, goes to the back, saw they didn't have lefties, and came back to give me the bad news. Rest assured, having spent an hour doing the same thing the previous day, I didn't even bother looking for any other sets.

I understand lefties are rare in golf, however, salespersons should be able to recommend certain clubs, in all price ranges, that they know they have lefthanded versions readily available. I don't know if the issue is the store itself or customer service in general in Canada. Having spent some time in the US over the past year, I realize they take customer service more seriously there. Stores in Canada are filled with 20-somethings who are just filling out their shift and cashing their paycheque. Stores in the US are filled with professionals who are there to ensure you spend money in their stores.

All this hassle has given me two choices. Either drive down to Buffalo to try Dick's 's Sporting Goods or simply buy clubs on ebay. The latter option is probably the way I am going to go.

To make me feel better from all that shopping stress. Top 5 David Bowie albums.
1. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars
2. Hunky Dorey
3. Young Americans
4. Aladdin Sane
5. Station To Station


Friday, June 02, 2006

Is he still the boss?

For many years, since 1984 to be exact, I have been a Bruce Springsteen fan. I own every CD and count his 1975 breakthru release Born To Run as one of my favourite albums of all time.

Top 5 Bruce Springsteen albums.
1. Born To Run
2. The River
3. Darkness On The Edge Of Town
4. Born In The U.S.A.
5. The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

If you are a Springsteen fan, you will notice one thing from that list. All of these releases are Bruce Springsteen AND The E Street Band. I realize now that I am not a Springsteen fan, I am an E Street Band fan. I own both Nebraska and Tom Joad but I never really listen to them.

I want the big loud drums of Max Weinberg, the bashing piano playing of Roy Bittan. I want the sing along styles of songs like "Cadillac Ranch" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out". I want the lone piano playing at the beginning that has the band join in later like "Thunder Road" and "Growin' Up".

I can appreciate Nebraska. The song "Atlantic City" is really good though I prefer the version by The Band from the 1993 Band CD Jericho or Springsteen's live version from MTV Plugged. However, it is just too morose for me.

After the success of 1984's Born In The USA, Springsteen disbanned the E Street Band and started recording solo albums with other musicians. I like 1987's Tunnel Of Love though it seems dated to me now. I really do not listen to it much anymore.

Then came the release of two simultaneous CDs in Lucky Town and Human Touch. To this day, I do not understand this marketing strategy. There seems little difference between the two and had Bruce just combined the best from each, he would have come up with a solid album. Instead, people only remember a couple of good singles from each. I have since taken the best songs from each and burned them onto one disc.

1. Human Touch
2. 57 Channels (And Nothin' On)
3. Roll Of The Dice
4. All Or Nothin' At All
5. Man's Job
6. Better Days
7. Lucky Town
8. Local Hero
9. If I Should Fall Behind
10. Leap Of Faith
11. Living Proof
12. Beautiful Reward

Looking at that track list I made, this is still a pretty uninspired CD that was really a step backwards for the Boss.

His next CD, The Ghost of Tom Joad is even more of a downer than Nebraska. I have literally listened to it twice. The only song I can even recall is the title track and that is only because of it's references to one of my favourite movies The Grapes Of Wrath.

I know I should really like his next release (as it is with the E Street Band), The Rising. But I really don't that much. There are good songs like Lonesome Day, the title track, Waitin' On A Sunny Day and Countin' On A Miracle but there are some un-E Street sounding songs like Worlds Apart and Let's Be Friends that just creep me out.

Currently, my dilemma is his new solo record (without the E Street Band) entitled We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. As much as I wish this was an album of him covering Bob Seger songs like Katmandu and The Fire Inside, it is actually Pete Seeger songs that he covers. I am told that the album is not a sombre affair like the aforementioned Nebraska and Tom Joad, it still doesn't interest me that much. The comparison many critics are making is to The Band's early recordings with Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, unless the names Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Little Stevie, Clarence Clemons, Gary Tallent, Danny Federici and Nils Lofgren are included, I just don't care enough to go out and buy it.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

From Airplane to Starship to Nothing (or The Worst Things Ever To Happen To Music Vol. 2)

I recently watched The Family Stone with Sarah Jessica Parker and Luke Wilson. It's good but not as good as it could have been. It suffers from amateur-ish direction and a little too mannered of a performance from Parker.

Anyway, during the closing credits they played a song from the 70s called Count On Me. Trust me, you know it. I found out later that is was by Jefferson Starship. You know after their incarnation as a southern California psychadelic band called Jefferson Airplane and before their incarnation as just Starship who released that god awful song that can be considered one of the worst things to happen to music We Built This City.

I always liked Jefferson Airplane, their album Surrealistic Pillow with the songs White Rabbit and Somebody To Love is one of my favourite albums of all time. When they became Jefferson Starship, I lose interest. Though I always thought the song Miracles had nice harmonies and wicked sax solo.

Top 5 sax solos in rock.
1. Urgent-Foreigner
2. Young American-David Bowie
3. Brown Sugar-The Rolling Stones
4. Bad To The Bone-George Thorogood
5. Shotgun-Junior Walker and The All Stars

But hearing Count On Me as well, made me realize I should purchase a GH of Jefferson Starship. I got this at HMV yesterday along with a GH of Lynyrd Skynyrd (I know Cogs, I should have done that years ago) and The Moody Blues. They were all part of the 3 for $20 deal at the store so I figured it was worth it.Lynyrd Skynyrd is an interesting band as I was never really a fan. I think it was their symbolic use of the Union Jack flag that made me uncomfortable. I mean their big hit Sweet Home Alabama is good but their only other song I knew "Freebird" was terribly overplayed on classic rock stations. But when you listen to the lyrics of Sweet Home Alabama and realize that it is an answer to Neil Young's criticism of the politics of the American south in Southern Man that you realize Skynyrd is just a band proud of their southern heritage.