Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In a galaxy really really really far far far far away.

Lost in the marketing maze that Star Wars has become since 1977 is the little known Star Wars Holiday Special. It has aired only once on TV on November 17, 1978 and George Lucas has since refused to even discuss it's existence.

He obviously gave the okay to this oft-ridiculed TV special but he literally had nothing to do with the production itself. The storyline is basically about Chewbacca and his family getting ready to celebrate "Life Day". Chewie and Han Solo are rushing to get there and all the other main characters from Star Wars (Luke, Leia, C-3p0 and Darth Vader) are all involved. The show lists them as starring in it but really they are just cameo appearances.

To lend some weight to the production, Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll and Harvey Korman also appear. Really, all they do is make the show seem like more of a variety show. Oh wait, Jefferson Starship IS also there!!!!!! Google has posted the first half of the special. Please, I implore you to watch some of it, you really need to see how bad it is.

Top 5 bizarre things about this special

1. It is the first ever appearance of Bobba Fett.

2. Carrie Fisher, visibly on some sort of alcohol or drugs, trips over a piece of the set at one point.

3. Despite the fact that Lucas has refused to even discuss this production, he used a similar set for Chewbacca's home planet that was in the Holiday Special in Star Wars III: The Revenge of The Sith.

4. The special includes 4 songs, This Minute Now peformed by Diahann Carroll is presented as a virtual reality presentation watched by Chewbacca's father. Light The Sky On Fire, sung by Jefferson Airplane and watched by one of the Imperial Guards. Bea Arthur, playing a bartender at the Mos Eisley canteen sings Good Night, But Not Goodbye and for the finale, Carrie Fisher sings a Life Day song to the tune of the Star Wars theme song.

5. Many internet website have posted details of a DVD release of this TV special. All have turned out to be hoaxes. According to George Lucas, if he had the time, he would take a sledgehammer to all the different copies of this special.


Yes, but were Mick and Mimi on the grassy knoll?

I have to admit to having an ongoing fascination with magic bullets. It started with the Magic Bullet theory regarding the John F. Kennedy assassination. You know, the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald's second of three shots that hit Kennedy in the back, then throat then hit Texas Governer John Connally below the right armpit, than his wrist and then landed in pristine condition in Connally's thigh. This is material for a future blog entry as my current magic bullet obsession is the infomercial for the Magic Bullet blender seen all across the cable dial.

As an aside, there is something comforting about informercials involving things that chop. It just lets you know, whether you need to cut the sole of an old boot, a tomato can or angel food cake, you can buy the product that will help you do it. Since J-Mac is a trained chef, I have found out that it has nothing to do with those knives that you can buy for $29.99, it has to do with the fact that trained chefs know how to cut correctly.

Anyway, the Magic Bullet informercial is absolutely incredible. There are more storylines going on than the average episode of Friends.

To start, Mick Hastie and Mimi Umidon are pretending to be this married couple showing off this Magic Bullet appliance that can help them make breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and drinks. And, as is the rule with most informercials, the man is really the expert on the product while the woman pretends to be dumb and for some reason, the man always has a British or Australian accent.

As they run through all the things this product can do, all their "friends" have their own storylines. There is Berman, who is clearly hungover. Hazel, wearing an ugly housecoat and always has a have smoked cigarette just hanging on the edge of her bottom lip. She never actually smokes it and there is no smoke in the air, it is just a prop. There are also two other couples where the men don't seem to care one way or another about the product, they just want food while the woman keeps trying to convince them.

So as this clearly fake married couple runs through all the things they can make with the Magic Bullet, you begin to realize, the stuff isn't that great. The omelettes are overcooked, a huge no-no for me. The pasta sauces look unimpressive. The coffee grinder option is good, but since anyone who cares ALREADY HAS A COFFEE GRINDER, this doesn't mean too much. The "sorbet" they make with it looks blah. Really, I don't watch it to see the quality of the food, I just find all the story lines fascinating.

I spoke to someone who already has one. He says there is one big problem with it that you do not see on the informercial. The stuff that you put in it becomes to wet. The magic bullet just sucks the water out of things like tomatoes or what have you so whatever mix you have in there, it will be too watery.

Having said that, I've been told the cheapest place to get the Magic Bullet is on E-bay. I may be heading there later today to see how much it costs. I will let you know how it goes.

The new season of Prison Break is already two episodes in and I am completely hooked. As discussed in previous blog entries, William Fichtner has been amazing as the FBI agent tracking our heroes. If you found the first season kind of boring, trust me, this second season is much much better.
Jayman and I have been discussing this new TV season and we both agreed there are a lot of new shows that look like they may be pretty good this season.
Top 5 New Shows I am looking forward to seeing
1. Shark (with James Woods)
2. Smith (with Ray Liotta)
3. Kidnapped (with Delroy Lindo, Timothy Hutton and "gasp" Dana Delaney)
4. Studio 60 at the Sunset Strip (produced Aaron Sorkin who did Sports Night)
5. 30 Rock (with Alec Baldwin)


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Most memorable boner

Been thinking a lot about baseball history this week. It started at the CNE when one of our volunteers (remember he is choosing to volunteer FOR A SPORTS NETWORK!) was shocked to find out that Babe Ruth was a pitcher. Based on this, I told him maybe he should look into getting into other medias other than sports. Yes, this may have been harsh, but to be honest, he is a bit of a dick anyway. I just think anyone with an interest in sports should be aware that the game's greatest player was originally a pitcher. I am sorry, just as no one can be considered a movie fan unless they have seen Godfather Part 1 and 2 (Coglero's theory, not mine), no one can be considered a sports fan who does not know Babe Ruth was originally a pitcher.

Top 5 Reasons why Babe Ruth is the greatest player in the history of Baseball.

1. He has the third most home runs in the history of the game with 714.
2. As a pitcher he has the fourth lowest career World Series ERA with 0.87 AND has pitched 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series.
3. In the 1920 season, he personally hit more home runs (54) than any other TEAM in the Majors other than the Philadelphia Phillies (64).
4. When he was sold to the Yankees from the Red Sox 1918, the Red Sox would not win another World Series until 2004. It was called the Curse of The Bambino.
5. Ruth singlehandedly saved the sport of baseball after the The Black Sox scandal. After the White Sox almost ruined baseball by agreeing to throw the 1919 World Series. Attendance and interest in the sport went downhill. Ruth reaching legendary status as a home run hitter for the Yankees brought attendance and interest back to the Majors.

So J-Mac has recently been trolling on E-Bay for old baseball pictures. The one she recently tried to purchase was a picture of the umpire's debating on the field after the famed Merkle's Boner. One of the biggest mistakes made by a player in the history of the game.

If you are not aware of this, it occured in 1908. He is best remembered for a baserunning error, which led to one of baseball's greatest controversies, while playing for the Giants in a game against the Chicago Cubs at New York's Polo Grounds.

With the score tied in the bottom of the 9th inning, with two outs, and Moose McCormick on first base, Merkle singled, advancing McCormick to third base. The next batter, Al Bridwell, also singled, apparently allowing McCormick to score and ending the game as a victory for the Giants.

However, Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers noticed that Merkle, thinking the game was over, walked to the Giants' clubhouse without touching second base. Evers shouted for the ball, touched second, and appealed to umpire Hank O'Day to call Merkle out. By the strict letter of baseball rules, Merkle's not touching second meant that when Evers did, Merkle was out on a force play, and that McCormick's run did not count.

What Merkle had done was actually common practice at the time for players in games ending in that fashion. In previous similar situations, there had been other appeals to umpires from the losing side to apply the rules strictly against the winning team, declare the negligent baserunner out, and thus nullify the would-be winning run. Those previous appeals were denied, including, ironically, an occasion earlier in that same season between Evers and O'Day. On that previous occasion, O'Day called the runner safe. But this time, perhaps being more prepared after the previous incident and with the magnitude of the situation, O'Day enforced the letter of the law upon Merkle and the Giants.

For his part, Merkle maintained until his death in 1956 that he had only started to walk off the field without touching second base, but that he had realized his error, turned around, and touched second after all. The umpires did not see it that way, however, and ruled him out.

With the run nullified, the Giants' victory was erased and the score of the game remained tied. However, the game could not be continued because by the time that ruling was made, there were thousands of fans on the field. Consequently, the umpire ruled the game a tie. When the Cubs and Giants finished the season tied, the game was replayed. The Cubs won this makeup game and thus the National League pennant.

To this day, this play is referred to as Merkle's boner. Personally, I think Mitch Williams throwing Joe Carter a fastball when Carter was clearly not able to touch his slider in the 9th inning of game 6 of the 1993 World Series was a bigger error, but what do I know.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

From Left to Right

So while trying to pass the time working at the CNE, I went to the driving range located in the same building as our booth on Thursday night. I grabbed a left handed 7 iron and wacked away. There was a golf pro there who watched a couple of my swings and said, "You are not a left handed golfer."

I turned to her and said I have only ever golfed left handed, hit a baseball lefthanded and shot a hockey puck left handed. She responded by saying she understands but that based on my flexibility in my left handed backswing. I am probably a right handed golfer.

Now, you have to understand what she looked like and what her voice sounded like. You know the movie Snatch, that scene where Sol and Vinny who try to rob a bookie.

Sol...Give us all your money!
Female bookie...All bets are off.
Sol...I am not here to make a bet!!
Female bookie...I appreciate it, but ALL...BETS...ARE...OFF. If all bets are off, then there can't be any money can't there?
Sol...I am not fucking buying that!
Female bookie...Well, that's handy because I ain't fucking selling it.

She looked and sounded like that female bookie (without the low class british accent). Anyway, she gave me a right handed club. Confirmed her theory that I would be a better right handed golfer by showing that I have better flexibility in my backswing going right handed. And I took a couple of swings. Hard to tell, the distance but the drives I hit certainly were straight.

Top 5 Brad Pitt Movies
1. Twelve Monkeys
2. Snatch
3. Fight Club
4. Ocean's Eleven
5. Sleepers

So, despite this, I spent Friday morning golfing LEFT HANDED at the golf course Innisbrooke outside of Barrie. Having played there in mid-July. I found I ended up with the exact same score of 105. Kind of depressing. Though I should be happy that I had some better shots though I find I am hitting for more height than I am length. Probably something to do with my tee being too high and me scooping the ball as opposed to hitting it.

We then spent the rest of Friday with my sister and her kids Courtney and Troy. We took them out for dinner at Old Firehall Pizza at the base of Blue Mountain. The food was okay, Courtney had some nice fettucine alfredo which wasn't too creamy. Laura, J-Mac and I all had pizzas. Troy stuck with some minced carrots and scraps from all the other dinners. What was surprising was the service. Our waiter was probably the nicest, most professional, friendliest waiter I had ever seen. I was almost suspicious because he was so nice. I mean he wasn't a tip hound. He was just genuinely great and terrific with Courtney and Troy. It certainly made for a great night.

Oh well, off to the CNE for the next two days. Somebody shoot me.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cruise control-ed

Hollywood was rocked this week with news that Paramount Studios have dropped Tom Cruise and his production company after a 14 year releationship that has included the Mission Impossible films and War Of The Worlds.

Paramount spokesman, and current winner of fakest name in Hollywood Sumner Redstone says they severed ties with Cruise because "his recent conduct has not been acceptible for Paramount."

Redstone went on to say that "as much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal."

Not sure if Redstone is referring to his coach jumping on Opera (later repeated on the Tonight Show and The View like Cruise was trying to pretend that he was in on the joke), his argument with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, his ongoing battle with Brooke Shields regarding post partum depression, the declining franchise that is Mission Impossible, the weird relationship with Katie Holmes and "their" baby Suri, the whole Scientology thing...should I keep going?

Cruise's production partner Paula Wagner, in an interview with LA Times, responded by saying, "It is graceless. It is undignified. It's not businesslike,"

In a separate interview with Daily Variety, she pointed out that during the last six years, Cruise/Wagner movies have accounted for 32 percent of Paramount's theatrical revenue.

Even Paramount can't seem to be in agreement on this whole Cruise fiasco. The LA Times article states that Paramount and Cruise/Wagner had been negotiating for a renewal deal that would have made the studio's commitment to pay them $10 million in overhead and development costs.

Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said that Paramount had sent them a counter offer of $2 million a year plus a $500,000 discretionary fund for each of two years. When Cruise/Wagner turned down that offer, Paramount Chairman Brad Grey prepared to announce an amicable end to the relationship. Grey and Viacom CEO Tom Freston were then suprised and reportedly upset when they heard Redstone's comments about Cruise. They told the newspaper's sources that Redstone had not discussed his views about Cruise during the negotiations.

In a separate interview with Daily Variety, Wagner pointed out that during the last six years, Cruise/Wagner movies have accounted for 32 percent of Paramount's theatrical revenue and that his films have totalled about $2.5 billion for the studio. On the flip side, Paramount sources believe that Cruise's antics cost the studio about $150 million in box office receipts for Mission Impossible 3 alone.

Jon Bonne of MSNBC wrote an article that details his five theories behind this whole Cruise/Paramount divorce.

Top 5 Phoniest Tom Cruise Character names
1. Cole Trickle (Days of Thunder)
2. Mitch McDeere (The Firm)
3. Frank TJ Mackey (Magnolia)
4. Vincent Lauria (The Color Of Money)
5. Nathan Algren (The Last Samurai)

Also, looking at Cruise' bio, he actually made an appearance on the show Third Rock From the Sun in April 1998. His character's name? No joke, "Guy on couch"!!! Who knew Third Rock was that prophetic of a show.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006


As most of you know, my schedule in late August always includes managing a booth my company has at the Canadian National Exhibition. It's not my favourite thing in the world as the CNE is quite crazy and that coupled with still having to do my regular job and my slo-pitch team getting ready for the play-offs, this isn't my favourite time of year.

The biggest problem is the lack of decent and healthy food for me to eat when I am there. The Food Building is one of the biggest attractions at the CNE, but to be honest. It is really just a glorified food court. However, this year, I have finally found salvation. And it's name is The Falafel Hut.

They have chicken shawarma. Yes there are a lot of shawarma places in Toronto but they usually do not come close to what they have in Ottawa. In Ottawa, shwarma places are as plentiful as pizza places in Toronto. But in Ottawa, they add one ingredient that Toronto places do not and that is beets. Imagine, a pita filled with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot sauce, garlic sauce and tahini...then top it off with the crunch of pickled turnips. Many a time, Coglero and I, after a night of drinking in Ottawa have headed to Shawarma King for a late night snack of Shawarma. This one place we go, near the Byward Market has a guy who clearly could pass as the Shawarma nazi. Super nice guy, but if you move to slow, he will let you know. One time he was there and he yelled at this young couple in line in front of us because they were too busy smooching as opposed to moving forward. You do not want to mess with this guy.

Anyway, the fact is, most Toronto shawarma places do not have turnips. I went to one place in Scarborough and they looked at me like I was crazy when I even dared to ask if they had them. Now that I am basically stuck at the CNE until Labour Day, the employees of the Faleful Hut are going to get to know me very well.

Getting back to the CNE, I tell you, that place is filled with degenerates. Couples with way too many kids and way too much time on their hands. Our booth serves a nice function, it's free and it's a good branding opportunity for our network. But rest assured, I will be happy when it's over. To make things even worse, we are stuck in the only non-airconditioned building in the CNE so on hot is almost unbearable in there.

The CNE feels so representative of my whole life. I remember being in public school and we would always get a free kids' pass to go to the CNE with our final report card. I remember my Dad taking me and my cousin Dave every summer. Then as I got older, I would go with friends as it was easy to find places to drink where they would not ask you for ID. But now that I am in my 30s, it just feels like a waste. An opportunity to spend money to get in and then get to spend even more money once you are there. In other words, a big ugly money grab. If J-Mac and I are going to go there, we might as well head up to Canada's Wonderland where at least you can get much better rides.

By the way, J-Mac wrote a much better blog entry about the Ex yesterday. It is a fascinating read about the history of the place with some great pix.

Snakes On A Plane only made 16 million in it's opening weekend. This means, despite the pre-advertising for it, it will not make it's money back during it's theatre run. Rest assured, it will clean up once it is on video. However, it proves that no matter of how much pre-release buzz you get going for a movie, you still need to put out a decent product in order to get people to go.
Interestingly enough, during a screening of the movie in Pheonix, Arizona last weekend, two pranksters released a couple of venemous diamondback rattlers causing widespread panic. Snake wranglers had to be called in to collect them. No one was injured during the incident and the culprits have not been caught. Officials believe the snakes were smuggled into the theatre in backpacks.
Top 5 Best Samuel L. Jackson movies
1. Pulp Fiction
2. Do The Right Thing
3. Die Hard: With A Vengeance
4. Goodfellas
5. The Long Kiss Goodnight


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Me And Wynton

Thanks to Jayman the ticket guru, J-Mac and I are going to see Wynton Marsalis once again. He is the ticket guru because he has memberships at all the different venues in Toronto such as the Hummingbird Centre, Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall.

For Marsalis' show in March of next year, he was able to get tickets before they went on sale to the general public, so we are talking sixth row centre. And if you know Massey Hall, sixth row centre is pretty darn close.

Here is the very good Itunes ad featuring Marsalis from 2005.

Two of my 10 favourite concerts of all time, would have to be the last two times that I saw Wynton Marsalis. The first of which was at the Hummingbird Centre. This was with his big band orchestra, Jazz At Lincoln Centre, of which Marsalis is the Musical Director.

What I love about jazz show's is the sponteniety of it all. And this show had plenty of it. One of the horn players, looked like British actor Richard E. Grant. And throughout the show I kept watching him because he was just so into it. If someone did something strange or different, you could tell right away because he would react to it. The look on his face during a piano solo that all the sudden broke into Bobby Darin's I'm Beginning To See The Light. Plus, they had this old saxaphone player. I mean, he looked so old that I thought they just had him on as a veteran presence, not that he really had the chops anymore. Well, I could not have been more wrong. About 3/4 through the show, he got his own solo. And it was really good. And you could see the rest of the band get ready to break in and finish the song, but even from our seats, we could hear Wynton yell, "No, let him play!". That solo went on for another three minutes and literally, it was one of the greatest things, I'd ever heard in my life.

About a year later, Jayman was able to arrange front row centre seats for the Marsalis family concert at Massey Hall. Literally, it was Wynton on trumpet, his father Ellis on piano, and brothers Branford (saxaphone), Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums). I don't know if you have ever been to a concert in the front row, I have never but wow you almost feel like you are invading their space. You could hear them talking to each other. You can hear them make fun of each other. It might have been the coolest concert I have ever been a part of.

Top5 Favourite Concerts I have ever attended.
1. David Bowie, 1997 The Government
2. Bruce Springsteen, 2000 The Air Canada Centre
3. David Bowie, 1990 The SkyDome
4. Paul Simon, 1991 The SkyDome
5. The Marsalis Family, 2004 Massey Hall

Believe it or not, the long delayed movie version of Wonder Woman has finally been cast. This has been going on since the early 90s when Sandra Bullock was first thought of for the role. It now looks to be going to Kate Beckinsale fresh from her success (??) from the two Underworld movies. Movies, as of yet, unseen by me.
Also, and getting back to talking about tours, Steely Dan is clearly bored during their current tour. First they wrote a nasty letter to OwenWilson over starring in the movie You, Me And Dupree. They have now written a letter to Wes Anderson, director of the films Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Acquatic. Of the letters many issues with Anderson, the biggest is that his movies seem to be going downhill. My thoughts are that Steely Dan should stop writing letters and start figuring out a way for their current tour to come to Toronto. However, without Michael McDonald opening because if I hear to hear Ya Mo B There I am going to Yamo burn this place to the ground. (Yes, I like to quote lines from the 40 Year Old Virgin whenever appropriate).


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nothing but blues and Elvis

So today is the 29th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Think about that for a second. 29 years since he died. That's a lifetime ago but I remember it like it just happened. I remember it being a big deal but I was way too young to understand why it was.

My father was always bitter about him. Saying that he had the talent to do anything but pissed it all away. At this point Elvis has basically become either a punch line for people who just remember the fat, cheesy Elvis or focus on people believe that he was a racist by taking black music and making it palitable for white people.

Really, this was the brainchild of Sam Phillips and his record company Sun Records. Phillips saw something that he could turn into something that white people would like and he could make money on.

The funny thing is that Phillips should be considered a moron as he sold Presley's contract in 1955 for the sum of $35, 000. To me, this was an even stupider decision than the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees for money to finance a broadway play named No No Nanette.

If you want a good early memory of Elvis. Here is him on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show in his first television appearance doing a version of Ray Charles' I Got A Woman.

I highly recommend picking up any version of his Sun Sessions recordings from that era. As long as it has Milk Cow Blues, Baby Let's Play House and Mystery Train, you will have all the early Elvis music you need.


Top 5 Elvis Movies
1. King Creole
2. Jailhouse Rock
3. Frankie And Johnny
4. Viva Las Vegas
5. Flaming Star

I know King Creole is not a movie many people think about it when it comes to Elvis but it is easily the best looking of his films and features his best performance. Shot in crisp clear black and white, it is directed by Michael Curtiz, best known for directing a little known film called Casablanca (he also directed Errol Flynn's best movies Captain Blood and The Adventures Of Robin Hood). Plus the cast of King Creole includes Walter Matthau (was he ever actually young looking in his career?) and Carolyn Jones (you know her as Morticia Addams from The Addams Family TV show).

Here is a clip from Elvis singing the title theme from King Creole from the movie.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a huge Elvis fan. I just thought a note about his passing and a memory of what was good about him was something important to write about on this day.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Kevin Smith is God (sure he is, just ask him)

My feelings on Kevin Smith have been discussed in previous postings, so I won't bother you by repeating them. Here is a link to a blog entry on his website (a site where you can find more pictures of him than you thought humanly possible) where he talks about his upcoming guest appearance.

However, this week he guested on the show Ebert & Roeper as a fill in for the still ailing Roger Ebert. They reviewed World Trade Centre (they both liked it), Step Up (Smith liked it and Roeper hated it), Scoop (they both regretfully gave it thumbs down) and Half Nelson (they both loved and especially loved Ryan Gosling's performance).

As an aside, I always hate seeing Ryan Gosling do well. He is a Canadian actor about the same age and same looks as another Canadian actor named Cameron Graham who I used to work at the faux mexican restaurant Chi-Chi's with. Gosling is probably getting the movie roles that Graham could have got if he had a little more luck.

The interesting part of the show, aside from Smith chiding Roeper for not liking Jersey Girl (like he was the only one!), was during the Thumbs Up Video segment. In this regular segment, the show's hosts usually highlight new DVD releases or personal faves from their own collection.

Roeper highlighted The Godfather Collection, the new unrated version of Wild Things and the long forgotten (but highly underrated) Jack Lemmon comedy How To Murder Your Wife.

Smith first highlighted The Talented Mr. Ripley (strange choice but a film with great performances by Matt Dillon, Jude Law and Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the first season of the Lisa Kudrow HBO series The Comeback. But here's the part that made me gasp out loud. He recommended An Evening With Kevin Smith.

You can hear the audio from this portion of the show from this link.
Just click on the weekend of August 12-13.

Essentially this is four hours of himself talking to and answering questions and basically pontificating about the art of film with a college crowd. All the films in the world he could have chosen to recommend, he chose one he didn't direct but is on camera for hours. My respect for Smith has progressively gotten lower post-Clerks but he is now at the point where he could direct a group of my favourite actors like Dustin Hoffman, Alec Baldwin and Don Cheadle in a movie together and it still wouldn't be enough to gain back any of my respect.

Top 5 Don Cheadle films
1. Crash
2. Out Of Sight
3. Devil In A Blue Dress
4. The Family Man
5. Rosewood

This guy, Kevin Smith, has taken over from Quentin Tarantino as the director who most needs to shut the hell up and start getting back to work that befits the promise of his early films. And playing off characters, ANY CHARACTERS, from Clerks just does not count!!!!


Fest o' Beer

Well another Festival of Beer at Fort York in Toronto has come and gone and as usual it was pretty fun.

As I many of you are aware, we had a wee bit of drama getting tickets this year. Coglero was originally coming down from Ottawa for the festivities. Because of this, we all decided we would head down on Saturday as opposed to our usual Sunday appearance.

I bought tickets in advance for myself and Coglero and advised everyone else to purchase them in advance as well as Saturdays usually sell out. Unfortunately, no one headed my warning and by Thursday, only two of us had tickets. Coglero had to bow out due to health issues and I sold his ticket to Jayman. Seven and his friend were still struggling to get tickets through other means up until 24 hours in advance of the festivities. Rickie B. was also hoping to go but was having no luck either. Seven ended up getting one ticket in advance and he made the choice to come down and see if they could pick up a single from someone else. They did but ended up paying a $15 markup. Rickie B chose to avoid the whole thing. So in the end, there was just the four of us.

The weather was good but the crowds were enourmous. We got there 15 minutes before opening and the lineup was already out the door, spilling on to Bathurst and heading south on Bathurst almost to Queens Quay.

Once inside, it was just a matter of sampling all the wears. Over the years, the bigger breweries have begun to take over. One area was actually referred to as "Molson Lane" as they had all their different beers over about 4 different booths situated beside each other. We decided to avoid that area.

I always look at this event as an opportunity to sample as many small breweries as possible. Though, after a while, they all begin to taste the same. Also, the first rule of beer fest, the better looking the women at the booths, the worst tasting the beer.

This was definately the rule at the Tuborg tent which featured, for reasons that really make no sense, go-go dancers (see picture below). The funny thing is, they probably had the biggest lineup out of all them. A nice surprise was Robert Simpson breweries which I had enjoyed only once before at a golf course in Penatang but found it even better on this day. And Coglero, this is where I realized that you and I should have made that bet we discussed earlier. Oh well, c'est la vie.

As usual, the worst aspect of this event is the state of the bathrooms. For the first time ever, they had no bathrooms near any of the tents. You could only find them near the two gates. So, after a couple of hours, between the four of us. We were essentially walking from one end to the other and back over and over, picking up our little glasses of beer along the way each time. And by 3 pm, going to the bathroom meant at least a 5-10 minute wait. Ah, the price of beer fest. Oh well a good time was had by all. The plan for next year is to go on the Friday. It opens at 2 so we all can either work a half day or simply take the day off in order to enjoy the festivities.

Countdown to SoaP (the cool acronym for Snakes on A Plane) is 4 days. The promotional machine is in full fource as Samuel L. Jackson will be on Letterman tonight. I have a feeling that despite Letterman's best attempts, Jackson will be discussing nothing but the greatness of the movie. He will probably even be wearing a Snakes kangoo. Hopefully, the movie will not be making this list
Top 5 Worst Samuel L. Jackson movies
1. Star Wars Episode II - Attack Of The Clones
2. Sphere
3. Deep Blue Sea
4. Basic
5. Amos & Andrew


Friday, August 11, 2006

Chili Peppers (no longer red hot but still not bad)

With not much on TV last night, I spent a little time watching Much Music. A video that they have been playing non-stop for weeks is the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Dani California. It's a decent song, a little too poppy for that band. But the viusuals read like a history of rock as the band throughout the song appear dressed as bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s etc etc.

What's interesting is that the video was directed by Tony Kaye. He got his start directing beer commercials and ended up with a gig directing American History X with Edward Norton.

Top 5 Edward Norton films
1. Fight Club
2. 25th Hour
3. The Italian Job
4. Primal Fear
5. The Score
(don't knock this list, ask me tomorrow and it could change drastically)

Norton didn't like the final cut of the film and re-edited it. Kaye was so upset by the re-edit that he demanded his name be taken off the film and it be credited to the fake pseudonym Alan Smithee. The Directors Guild of America refused. Kaye's name has since been mud and has not gotten a film project since.

The new Christina Aguilera video is also getting a lot of play. Honestly, I know who she is. I remember the whole Christina Aguilera/Britney Spears debate for Best New Artist Grammy in 2000. I guess the more viable artist has been made more clear in the years since. This new song isn't bad, it has a jazzy feel and she has a pretty good voice, though, I have no idea what she actually sounds like live.

Then there is always the video for Paris Hilton video Stars Are Blind. Not sure what to say about that. Still looks like that Chris Isaak video Wicked Games from 1989.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

14 seconds to glory (and some Snakes on a Plane talk)

The Emmy Awards have always ran a distant second to the Academy Awards in terms of importance and an even more distant third in entertainment value to the Tony Awards.

However, this year's Emmy Award nominations has created a huge scandal with regards to Ellen Burstyn's nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Mini-series for the HBO movie Mrs. Harris. The scandal is the fact that Burstyn is in one scene, for a total of 14 seconds speaking two lines totalling 38 seconds. Her character does not even have a name. In the films credits, her character is named "Ex-Lover #3".

It is obvious that people who nominated her clearly did not see that movie. They clearly voted for her as she is one of the most respected actresses in the history of the cinema. She has been nominated for 6 Academy Awards. Her in the 70s reads like a top 10 list.

Top 5 Ellen Burstyn films
1. The Last Picture Show
2. The Exorcist
3. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
4. Same Time, Next Year
5. Requiem For A Dream

You may be asking yourself, why did she allow herself to be nominated? Keep in mind, nominations can be suggested by the studio, the actor's agent or even the film's producer. However, as Ray Richmond mentions in his blog Past Deadline, considering Burstyn is an ex-President of The Actor's Equity. She should do the right thing and publicly step out of the running for this award.

Rest assured, Samuel L. Jackson will be in the upcoming movie Snakes On A Plane for more than 14 seconds. However, more important than that, the marketing machine behind Snakes On A Plane is already in overdrive.

Blogs much more interesting than mine have been abuzz about this film for months. The roar has been so loud that film producers did re-shoots this past March to help the film become closer to fan's expectations and a line was added to the script that fits in with Samuel L. Jackson's normal movie persona. The rumour is that the line is something like "Get these motherfucking snakes off this motherfucking plane."

Jackson, no stranger to helping promote a film, even talked about it at the MTV Movie Awards in June of 2006 when he was presenting the award for Best Movie.

"I'm here tonight to present the award everyone's been waiting for: best movie. Now, this award holds a special place in my heart because next year I'll be winning it for Snakes on a Plane. Now I know, I know that sounds cocky, but I don't give a damn. I am guaranteeing that Snakes on a Plane will win best movie next year. Does not matter what else is coming out. The New James Bond... no snakes in that! Ocean's 13... where my snakes at? Shrek the Third... green, but not a snake. No movie shall triumph over Snakes on a Plane. Unless I happen to feel like making a movie called Mo' Motha-fuckin' Snakes on Mo' Motha-fuckin' Planes."

By the way, youtube has a very funny Snakes on A Plane clip called All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us

which is a very funny spoof of the early internet sensation called All Your Base Are Belong To Us

And for those of you who need more than just Snakes On A Plane, a B-movie called Snakes On A Train will be released straight to DVD a couple of days prior to the plane movie. Other than the title, there is no other connection between the two films.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

KISS meets the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Believe it or not, the KISS army is still alive and well. Over the weekend, they protested in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio over the fact that their favourite band has still not been inducted.

To be honest, I agree. I honestly believe that KISS was the most underrated band of the 70s. Everybody remember the make-up, the stage shows, the bad movies, the over commercialism etc etc. But in the end, before they reinvented themselves in the 80s, they still had some good music.

Top 5 KISS songs
1. Detroit Rock City
2. Do You Love Me
3. Hard Luck Woman
4. Calling Dr. Love
5. Sure Know Something

The issue of KISS in the Hall of Fame has been going on since 2005 when members of the KISS army had been sending letters and petitions to them demanding they induct the iconic 70s band. In August of last year, they received a letter from Hall of Fame President Terry Stewart who advised them, "candidates are reviewed and discussed relative to their impact on this music that we broadly call rock and roll."

The co-chair of the KISS army Paul Carpenter found this answer "unacceptable", talking about his favourite band. “Look at their impact on the music industry! Artists from Lenny Kravitz to Garth Brooks have said on record that KISS were the most influential musicians in their lives. The fact that year after year the Hall has failed to place KISS on its list of finalists is not just an oversight but a disgrace.”

Of course, the funniest part of their protest this past weekend is that the voting committee is located in New York City, not Cleveland. So, in essence, all they did was annoy people trying to get in to see the Hall of Fame.

As this picture shows, I have been to the Hall of Fame myself. We went there two summers ago for Jayman's bachelor party. It was a weekend of the Hall of Fame, dinner at the Cleveland Chop House, extracarricular activities at The Circus and an Indians/White Sox game at Jacob's Field.

For those of you excited about going to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, remember, in the end, it is still just a museum. Of the group of us, some wanted to stay all afternoon. Myself and Rickie B, we were done after an hour and a half. After strolling through the exhibits, plaques etc, we headed to the gift shop and finally ended up walking back to the hotel bar for some cold beers (i.e. Samuel Adams, god bless America).


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Not exactly grace under pressure

As it was a holiday Monday, I spent the latter part of the evening watching TV. Of interest was Nancy Grace's CNN show. She spent the hour long show dealing with new released video of OJ Simpson. I have never witnessed a sadder display of journalism than I did for this hour.

Don't get me wrong, in general, I like Nancy Grace. I would not like to be interviewed by her. I would not like to go against her in court. But for a television legal analyst, she makes me laugh. She has such strong opinions and makes no effort to hide them. I can respect that.

Her reputation when she started on CNN was that, as a lawyer, she never lost a felony case at trial. However, since then, a number of her convictions have been overturned on appeal and her professional ethics have been called into question by higher courts. As a matter of fact, a March 2006 article in the New York Observer has suggested that Grace lied about the details of the 1979 murder of her fiance to help her look like a better advocate in the public eye.

Getting back to her show last night, it was all about these new videotapes of OJ Simpson. Regarding Simpson, I am not going to get into his guilt or innocence. Her blood, his car=he's guilty. Simple as that. However, he was tried and found not guilty. So be it. Don't blame OJ, blame the system (and Christopher Darden who had OJ try on the glove during his trial). Yes, he was found guilty in a civil court and has to pay the families money but that is another story altogether. Guilt is easier to prove in civil courts so that is another story altogether.

There were three video clips that Grace kept showing over and over throughout her hour long show. The first was OJ at some bar where three woman are sitting on his lap and giving him a lap dance. And he drunkenly says something like "I love my life." Really, it was kind of pathetic but hardly earth shattering. The next was him being interviewed on a radio show where he refused to answer questions about his cocaine use prior to five years ago but relented that he definately hadn't done any lately. Again, "yawn". The other two were even less earth shattering as one is OJ sitting at a bus stop waiting for a bus and another in the backseat of a car again complaining about Mark Fuhrman.

How Grace could have an hour long show regarding these clips and interspersing it with interviews of other legal analysts commenting on how disgusting it all was laughable. She even had Simpson's current attorney on but he clearly knew the whole show was a joke. She didn't ask him any questions that weren't laced with innuendo and he did not divulge anything. If this whole show did anything, it made Simpson look like a victim (trust me, I hate writing that about as much as you hated reading it).

Simpson's post trial career has been pathetic. There have been plans for various types of reality shows like an Osbourne's slice-of-life type thing or a hidden camera show where he walks up to people unexpectedly and the show being about those people's reactions. Neither of them really panned out. Probably due to lack of companies wanting to advertise during those shows. I mean seriously would you watch that? Though I am sure it would prove to be better tv than last night's Nancy Grace embarrassment.


Friday, August 04, 2006

J-Mac don't get any ideas

So this recent billboard has been causing a stir in Chicago. It is located at the corner of Ontario and LaSalle by the Ontourage night club. There are many theories floating around the internet regarding whether this is a joke by some bored rich person, a brilliant marketing scheme or really is a spurned wife.

Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper weighed in on the topic in his column yesterday. The website Gawker mentions a similar billboard up in New York City.

This ruse has even gone so far that the supposed perpetrator, Emily, has a blog about her exploits.

Top 5 things I like to do in Chicago.
1. Drinking anywhere as all restaurants and pubs have Samuel Adams on draught
2. Having deep dish pizza at Uno's
3. Eating at Maggiano's on Grand Street
4. Walk along the Chicago River which winds it's way around downtown Chicago.
5. Go to a Cubs game


Thursday, August 03, 2006

The wackiness of wikipedia

Comedy central star Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, during Monday's show, took on the website wikipedia. If you are not aware of this site, this is an encyclopedia type website where users can actually edit entries.

During Colbert's segment called "The Word", he praised wikipedia for its "wikiality". Wikiality meaning "the reality that exists if you make something up and enough people agree with you - it becomes reality."

During the show, he then logged onto wikipedia, looked up the page for George Washington. He then decided that Washington did not actually have any slaves and edited that into that page. Wikipedia's George Washington page did actually show that a user named Stephen Colbert typed in these changes at 6:35 (ET). The time that he normally tapes his show.

He then urged his audience to find an entry on elephants and for everyone to type in that the population of elephants has actually tripled in the last sixth months. Numerous users did actually do this to approximately 20 different entries on elephants before they were all locked down. Wikipedia administrators then blocked user Stephen Colbert from making any further
changes to the website.

I don't know who Colbert's agent/public relations team is but they have done a brilliant job. Thanks to his invention of the word "truthiness", his appearance at the 2006 White House Correspondants' Association Dinner and this wikipedia battle. He has become one of the most important fake newsmen on the planet. 5 mental mistakes that drive me nuts when people play baseball.
1. Runners not running on contact when there are two outs.
2. Getting doubled off on a fly out because you forgot how many were out.
3. Not understanding what is a force play and what is not a force play.
4. Being either the first out or the third out running into third base.
5. Not running hard to first base after you connect with the ball.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

...and THAT'S the old ball game

Looking up random sports quotes a la Coglero. I came across a little nugget from Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis was the first commisioner of Major League Baseball. He ruled from 1920 until his death in 1944.

His most famous act as commisioner was ruling on the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. He banished eight players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox (including Shoeless Joe Jackson) for consorting with gamblers and throwing that year's World Series for monetary gain.

However, he should also be well known for helping perpetuate the color lines in baseball that prevented blacks from playing. Here's the quote:

"There is no rule, formal or informal, or any understanding -- unwritten, subterranean or sub-anything -- against the hiring of Negro players by the teams of organized baseball.'' He added, "Negroes are not barred from organized baseball ... and never have been in the 21 years I have served.''

Whether he actually believed that or not, the fact is, no black player played in the Majors from the late 1880s until 1947, three years after Landis' death.

Top 5 Negro League Players who never got to play in the Majors during their prime.
1. Josh Gibson.
2. Satchel Paige
3. Buck Leonard
4. Cool Papa Bell
5. Oscar Charleston

In 1943, Landis also prevented Bill Veeck from purchasing the Philadelphia Phillies as the rumour was that he was going to stock his team with players from the negro leagues. Instead, Landis allowed the team to be sold to William Cox who was later banned for life for betting on baseball.

It's just funny how it all came full circle regarding gambling, baseball and Kenesaw Mountain Landis.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It was all Greek to me

So J-Mac and I went to the wedding of one of her work colleagues this past weekend. It was an intimate affair of about 170 people and, as expected, we had a great time.

Though, the event proved to not be without any drama. The church ceremony was Greek Orthodox and proved to be interesting, though I had no idea what they were talking about half the time and the words seemed a little out-of-date. Lots of stuff about the woman respecting the man etc etc. Though there were three officials involved in the ceremony and there was singing so there was some nice three part harmonies.

Top 5 Three Dog Night Songs
1. The Family Of Man
2. Mama Told Me (Not To Come)
3. Just An Old Fashioned Love Song
4. Never Been To Spain
5. Shambala

The true drama at the church happened about two pews behind us. Some woman behind us had apparently fallen asleep and could not be woken up. They were gently slapping her cheek, saying her name trying to revive her but she wasn't responsive. J-Mac and I immediately thought it was a stroke though she looked only to be around 30.

Someone called an ambulance and she two people helped her outside. By the way, while this is going on, the ceremony is not stopping which, unfortunately, took the focus away from the bride and groom. Anyway, they are struggling to get her down the aisle and out into the fresh air when a friend of ours offered to help. According to Migs, he jumped in and said "I am here to help". The person holding her literally just dropped her at his feet and she hit the ground with a thud. What made things worse was that the woman had clearly made the decision to be sans underwear and Mig's wife Sandy got an eyeful of an area I am pretty sure she was not wanting to see. She was able to tell us all that the woman clearly did not believe in brazilian waxing. She described that area more of a "landing strip". Not exactly what that means.

Anyway, in the end, the woman apparently drank a lot of alcohol the night before so dehydration along with the heat got to her. Not to worry she was back in time for the reception. Drinking away I am sure.

The reception included enough food for a small country. There were 6 courses including an antipasta, pasta, meat, seafood and don't forget the sweet table around 11:30 that night. One of my favourite things about weddings is, obviously, the free bar. Having worked as a bartender for events such as that, I know how appreciative tips are in those situations.

I walked in and went straight to the bar and ordered a rye and ginger. While he made it, I chatted with him and dropped a $5 bill into his jar. He advised me that along with the Canadian Club rye he just gave me, he also had some Crown Royal (the best rye on the planet). After that, for the rest of the night, if he saw me at the bar, he made my drink without me needing to ask. When J-Mac and I left for the night, I made one last stop at the bar and shook his hand while subtly offering him another $5 bill as thanks. I am not trying to make like I am some big spender. God knows I am not. But I just know these little things bartenders appreciate.

A little more drama as we left the reception complex as there was a sweet 16 party going on in one of the other rooms. There was clearly a lot of drinking going on with little to no adult supervision happening (where was that when I was sixteen!). All the sudden a fight erupted between two of the teenage girls. I don't mean fisticuffs. I mean on the ground, hair pulling, screeching kind of fight. Everyone erupted out of the now not-so-sweet 16 party to watch. Trust me when I tell you, it wasn't funny or entertaining, it was just sad.

On an unrelated note, Mel Gibson has now offered a second apology for his actions over the weekend. (Please note his apology did not include apologies for his films like Lethal Weapon 2 through 4, Bird On A Wire, What Women Want etc etc.) However, this one did seem a little more sincere than the first one, admitting that he said it and that he has no excuse. Though his "wanting to meet one on one with leaders of the Jewish community" rings a little hollow to me. All of this has already starting to effect his career as ABC announced Monday that they had scrapped plans for Gibson to produce a mini-series about the Holocaust. Apparently this had been in the works over the past 2 years. One wonders how Disney will market his upcoming film about the Mayan Indians entitled Apocalypto set for release later this year.