Sunday, November 29, 2009

26 games in

It's 12:30 a.m. and I need to get up early tomorrow for work. But with the caffeine of countless coffees still coursing through my veins and after watching a pretty sloppy Vancouver loss tonight, I feel the need to chime in with my thoughts on the Canucks squad after 26 games.

We're 14 - 12 so far, which puts us in a tie for 9th in the Western Conference, I believe, with Detroit and Columbus, and three points behind 8th place Phoenix. The Wings and Jackets each have a game in hand on us, while the Coyotes have played one more.

I don't entirely know what to think about the Canucks right now. Their play leaves me with more unanswered questions than Tiger Woods' statement on his late night driving activities. With Daniel and Luongo back from injury, I thought we'd go on a nice little tear, and while we did put two wins together before tonight, it still feels like something is missing with this team.

Not to nitpick and try to find fault in a four-goal victory, but I wasn't really all that impressed with the Canucks in their 7-3 win over the Oilers, Saturday night. Edmonton is clearly in free-fall mode, as it looked like there were only a handful of guys (Penner, Brule, Potulny, Stortini) willing to battle. (Note: The Oil need to get rid of Gagner and O'Sullivan while the stocks for those uncompetitive bums are still relatively high and they should do everything they can to shovel off Horcoff and Staios for peanuts... and take the 'C' away from Moreau, who hasn't done anything as captain in the past three years.)

But on Saturday, I'd say only a handful of Canucks looked hungry and tonight, I saw the same thing. While the Sharks are a bigger team, the Canucks shied away from the physicality and I really only saw Bernier out there hitting people. I'd say he was one of the only noticeable Canucks out there, along with the Sedins, who owned the puck whenever they were on the ice and Raymond, who was wreaking havoc all over the place with his speed. I still wish the Sedins would just shoot it a bit more.

I don't know if Kesler's still hurting from dislocating his finger Thursday morning, but his hands have definitely looked off in the last three games. He seems to be making the wrong decisions when shooting or passing and leading guys way too much when he does pass. While he did notch three assists on Saturday, they were all of the Crosby (first pass, not the set-up) variety. He is one of the only guys hitting, but he hasn't had much of an impact lately as he did earlier this season, even though the broadcasters big upped him non-stop Saturday. I'm going to chalk it up to the finger.

Burrows has looked comfortable with the Sedins, but he didn't do much tonight. Aside from his goal, I thought Wellwood has looked awful the past three games and I'm not sure why he's playing so much. More than once I've seen him dog it toward a loose puck that he should have had, only to see the other team pick it up and start back the other way. Samuelsson hasn't created very much since he moved from playing with Henrik and there is no chemistry on the Samuelsson/Raymond/Kesler line right now.

Tanner Glass has been a pleasant surprise so far, but when he's one of your more noticeable guys, that's probably not a good thing.

The defense, while picking it up offensively, has really been shoddy in their own zone. Tonight, there were too many turnovers to count and they looked a little hesitant to win the puck in their zone, knowing the big-bodied Sharks would come in and crush them. I know it was their second game in two nights, but that's really something Vancouver needs to start doing to their opponents.

Kevin Bieksa really needs a kick in his ass. I don't know how he gets away with being so laissez-faire in his own zone. He just coasts out from behind his net, like a 55-year-old Oldtimers' player, and tries some ridiculous cross-ice pass, which gets picked off 90 percent of the time. It's infuriating. When he's on his game, he's knocking people around and throwing the other team off with his unpredictable and unconventional passing, but now, he looks bored out there.

The most discomforting part of the Canucks right now though, at least to me, is what's supposed to be our strong point: goaltending.

I don't know why, but Roberto Luongo does not seem to be himself lately. Granted, he is coming back from an injury so he may not be back yet, but when you are supposed to be the best goaltender in the world, you need to steal a game every once in a while, and honestly, I can't remember him doing that in quite some time. He's actually been outplayed more often than not. He's been solid but he doesn't seem to command the crease like he did two years ago, where he was never out of position, and when he read the play better than anyone else on the planet. This year, his highlight reel saves come on lucky, last ditch efforts, which has never been the case with him. Also, he's looking around after routine shots, unsure of where the puck is, and he doesn't have the rebound control of old. To tell you the truth, I thought Andrew Raycroft played better in his brief stint as starter than Luongo has this year.

This is not to say that Luongo needs to be benched or anything, but I don't think he's up at where he should be. He's not playing to his standard and I don't know whether it's a confidence thing.

Right now, I'd be shocked if he was chosen as Canada's starter at the Olympics. And based on his play this year, I'm not entirely sure I'd even name him one of the top three. (Brodeur is a lock, based on experience, and Fleury should be too, since he's led his team to the Finals in back-to-back years. While Luongo has always been called the best goalie in the world, he's never led a team to the Conference Finals or won a Vezina. And he's already been traded twice. I'm just saying.)

The team's powerplay has been clicking, as the Sedins really are hitting their offensive prime, I think. Erhoff has also been a great addition for the powerplay, and having Schneider gives them a quarterback on their second unit.

The penalty killing will improve, once Luongo turns the corner, although I'm really nervous about our defense in our own zone this year. There isn't one guy from those six that doesn't make me nauseous when he has the puck in our end.

If I have four gripes about the year so far it's that (1) the team isn't physical enough, (2) the defense is coughing up the puck too often -- or the forwards aren't in position and getting the puck out of the zone -- (3) the team can't put together a second period -- either giving a lead away or falling into a bigger hole -- (4) and the fact that GM Place has to be one of the lamest crowds in the league. I'm sorry, but enough of the "(insert opponent name) sucks!" chants and the momentum and energy that becomes a pin-drop on a dime's notice, whenever something bad happens. Canucks fans need to start cheering about the little things and make it a real home-ice advantage.

All in all, the Canucks season is far from a write-off, and I still think they will make the playoffs and contend for the division title. I just hate how difficult it is these days to make up ground with all the three-point games out there, and especially since the Canucks have yet to gain a point in overtime. If they ever get everyone going at the same time, I believe they are still a Cup contender, but judging from what I've seen so far, it may be a little too lofty an expectation.

We'll see.

Prediction: Canucks wind up 6th in West.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

en francais

Last night I went to a party and spent the entire night speaking in French. Minor victory.

To date, this blog has been exclusively in English and it will continue to be that way. But since I'm truly committed to becoming fluently bilingual, I feel I should be fair and at least provide some kind of French content on here.

Also, I'm lazy.

So with that said, I'll just share a couple sweet youtube videos that my coloc Pabs has shown me during the many marathon youtube sessions that have gone down in the kitchen.

Bon appetit!

Imposter Remi Gaillard gets past security and celebrates with a championship team.

Friday, November 27, 2009

out of the woods?

Tiger gets in an early morning car crash. Single vehicle style. On an empty street.


While alcohol is not believed to be a factor (at this point) is it still cool if I try to be the first to drop down a stay-out-of-the-trees joke?

Okay, here's a shot...

Outside Tiger's home, 2:25 a.m., Nov. 27 as Tiger takes a right-hand turn.
Commentator David Feherty: "Oooh, this one's starting out left and... it looks like Tiger's heading for the trees."
Commentator Gary McCord: "This is not good for Tiger."
Woods escapes from his SUV, after the one car incident and talks with his wife, telling her the tree came out of nowhere.
McCord: "Not a terrible lie."
Police show up at scene.
McCord: "...but he may not be out of the woods yet."

Note: I'm an asshole.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

number one

It hasn't snowed today and while it isn't raining, I think I caught a glimpse of what I might expect at the old Berri-UQAM Metro station once winter arrives.

Last night, the Etat d'Urgence event kicked off in the park beside the Metro station. I live about two blocks -- or a five minute walk -- from the station. The area is straddled between one of the city's bus stations and a large homeless shelter, as well as being at the tail end of the gay village.

Since I arrived here, I've noticed that it's pretty much ground-zero for homelessness in the city. Groups of people sit or lay around the park all day. I used to hit up a cafe on the corner of St. Hubert and St. Catherine until I became frustrated with the drunks who would make scenes, yell or knock stuff at least once every time I sat and tried to read and have a coffee. It is rare that someone doesn't try to sell me dope when I leave the metro and I would say, on average, I get asked for change about five times from my train to my front door.

I'm not trying to sound annoyed here, but just telling you how it is.

The Etat d'Urgence is being put on by a collective of socially concerned artists to try to raise awareness about the startling poverty of some residents in this city and to counteract the neglect the homelessness issue is being given by the media and politicians. Circus performers are putting on shows, workshops are being held, bands are playing all night, movies are being played and free meals will be provided to anyone who needs one.

Now I don't know if this is some kind of ploy to garner even more attention, but the area has become very weird, even by its own standards, in the past 24 hours. Last night's post, I think, tried to highlight that, but then today, on my way to the library, I witnessed something that shocked me right out of myself.

As I got off the escalator that goes underground at the St. Catherine corner of the Berri-UQAM stop, after watching the man in front of me with a garbage bag slung over his shoulder search a garbage can for recyclable cans, I turned around the corner to see a young lady with short, bleached-blond hair, sort of bent forward against the wall, with a bare butt cheek exposed from the side. Her face was hidden, and I would probably have looked away immediately out of embarrassment, but I couldn't tell what she was doing. I thought she might be about to vomit, the way she was sort of teetering forward, a little off balance. She wore black jeans and a striped red and black sweater under a black jean jacket.

So I'm walking past, still staring, and all of a sudden, there is this gush of water coming out from between her legs and onto her hands and a hat she's holding. This was at 5 o'clock p.m. and while it wasn't full-on rush hour yet, there were just enough people in the hall so you could notice something like this without it becoming lost in the crowd.

The gushing continued until there was a puddle on the ground below her. The girl never once looked up or made a sound.

I didn't stop and do anything or say anything. I just kept walking. And all I heard were people swearing under their breath.

And I don't know if the problem in the area has become more pronounced because needy people are flocking here from all over for the free meals, but considering what I saw today and the fact that a guy pulled a knife on my roommate earlier this week after taking his phone from his hands, I'm starting to believe that we really are reaching a state of emergency.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

looney toon night

Still no snow and I'm wondering what effect it will have on my neighbourhood when it arrives.

Rain falls on St. Catherine tonight. But if it was snow, would the morphine addict who has been roaming the area for the past two months, scrounging for change and cups of coffee, still be roaring out at the top of her lungs, stopping traffic and shrieking at the honking drivers? Would she still be screaming at us, calling us 'Ghosts' with such contempt and disdain? And when she got us one-on-one, would she still politely ask us for change?

If the city was blanketed in snow, would the dealers still follow me outside as I leave the metro, hounding me for half a block to buy some hash or crack from them? Would the drunk man with the hockey stick still fire crumpled up beer cans at pedestrians while howling at the moon? Would the fattish, greyed man who stands outside the Italian restaurant all day, with a hat on his head and a hat in his hand, take his two-hatted act inside?

If it wasn't raining, but snow was billowing down on St. Catherine, would people still sleep on the street or in stairwells under bloody blankets? Would they still pull knives on people after they rob them, but stubbornly stick around and talk with them -- because maybe they just wanted someone to talk to -- until the police arrive and detain them?

I guess I'll know when it happens.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

...and some people don't like baseball... psshhh

Saw this on a friend's facebook page and had to share it. True story.

"What happened to yesterday?

I mean, what other sport could produce a story like this?

Golf, you say? Hmmm... That'd be interesting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

kermit sings the blues

Virus-ravaged Miss Piggy has been quarantined somewhere in some forgotten corner of Mexico, and my boy Kermit isn't taking it very well.

You know it's a damn good tune when even Kermit can sing it and you keep listening.

Don't know how many of you are Elliott Smith or Royal Tenebaum fans, but since I count myself both, I couldn't help but share this with you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Is it a bad thing that when I heard the two words 'round-up', I'm conditioned to think Arby's?

Mmmm... Arby's. Looks disgusting, tastes delicious... for two bites.

Realization, I've been conditioned.

Moving along, it's been an eventful week or two here in Montreal and I'm not sure I should really write about all the happenings, so a few highlights, I suppose:

First, had a great visit with Patch, who flew over for almost a week after visiting his bro in Halifax. The first night we hit up probably the nastiest sushi joint I think I've ever visited (for those keeping track at home, I've now been to four sushi restaurants in my life, pretty much making me an expert) and after chasing down some sticky, puddy salmon with a few Tsing-Taos, we went down to try to score tickets for the Habs/Lightening game. We knew full-well the odds were against us getting seats, seeing as two of the highest profile French-Canadian hockey superstars were coming to town (Vinny Lecavelier, and Marty St. Louis), it was a Saturday night and Habs tix are notoriously difficult to find. We spent maybe a half an hour patrolling the entrances, dealing and negotiating with the scuzziest, lowest, lime-stain, patchouli greezeballs you can imagine (ticket scalpers). We finally settled and I saw my first game in the Bell Centre... in the restaurant downstairs. The prices they were looking for were egregious (yes, folks. Egregious) and we had just as good a time in the restaurant (meaning, we spent all the money we would have used for tickets on beers.)

Later, we met up with some friends of Patchies, went on multiple bike rides around the city (which should by now be a definite no-no, considering all that has happened when I mix drinks and two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicles), I sang 'Cinnamon Girl' with a girl named Angel (pronounced Un-gelle), cheered on Patch as he stole the show when he broke out the Vanilla Ice slide while two people were lamely singing "Ice, Ice Baby" and finally got into the trademark, late night argument with the man on the way home.

The next night, we went down to Le National and saw Dan Auerbach and the Fast Five. Auerbach is the man behind the Black Keys and my boy Drewsif put me onto his solo album this spring (much obliged.). The show was killer, not only because the man, Auerbach -- who I thought sort of looked like Mankind from the WWF (I refuse to call it WWE) -- plays with such passion, but his rhythm (what a weird looking word: rhythm) section was so unorthodox. They brought out two drum kits and at different points, the two drummers would wail out these mouse-trap-style beats, like they had to hit each drum on their kits in sequence before they could start over again. And when they weren't both playing kits, one guy with this long frizzy hair, would play a triangle or maracas like he was demented. If I was on mushrooms that night I'd still be having nightmares about him,

The tambourinist kills it!

Me and Patch had been gearing up for the song Mean Monsoon and it tore the place down. Unfortunately, it -- or the sushi from the night before -- hit me harder than I expected. Do you know before an avalanche starts and the pack breaks free, a pressure builds and a little slide happens on a layer up top? Well, that's exactly how my bowels felt at the end of that song. I could feel the on-coming mudslide! I ran like Usain Bolt's adopted pet and found the shitter and ripped off my pants just in time to let loose some of the foulest matter ever witnessed in our cosmos -- or any parallel universe for that matter. It was basically the feces equivalent of the slimy ticket scalpers outside the Bell Centre. I swear, the toilet water was bubbling like a witch's cauldron afterward. Either way, I thought I was going to die for about 10 minutes, whilst doubled over on the John, crying into my shoes. I was sweating like I'd just given birth -- or more appropriately, Satan's afterbirth. And the worst part? I could hear a couple other of my favourites from Auerbach, pounding through the wall. Finally, when I felt safe, I gingerly ventured back outside -- but not before suggesting a staff member call a priest or someone to exorcise that washroom. I probably looked like someone who'd just witnessed a massacre.

The openers were pretty cool that night. Jessica Lee Mayfield started things off and I immediately decided I wanted to marry her and move to an Alberta foothills town and sip coffee and whiskey and listen to her play guitar as storms rolled off the Rockies down onto the plains.

And Justin Townes Earle came up after, looking a little bit like Steve-O in appearance and tattoos, but also a little bit Steve Urkell, with the horned-rimmed glasses and tight jeans. The guy was pretty gimmicky for a bit, but damn could he belt out a tune, whether it was honky-tonk, folk or some old school, story-telling country. Turns out he's Steve Earle's son, too.

Went out after to the Distellerie, where we decided that Montreal is home to the highest concentration of pretty girls on the planet. Sorry, New York and London. You have quantity down, I'll give you that.

Next night, we went with my roommate and her friends to see a German techno DJ. I know, I know, what was old biberous doing seeing a German techno DJ? You're probably thinking people were shitting all over each other or something, right? Well, no actually. We danced (yeah, I know. I danced) for about two hours even though it was balmier than Kramer's lap in there. The night ended when the girls left because they had class the next morning.

I walked to meet Patch at the bar and made my way through a crowd of people. One guy wouldn't get out of my way and as I politely tried to push by, I felt a real steamy feeling on my neck and forced past. I got to the bar to see Darcy laughing like crazy.

"Did that guy just try to kiss me?"

He kept laughing. And laughed. So I started to laugh. Then we took a look around. We got out of there when we noticed that there weren't too many girls around. But a lot of guys.

All in all, it was fucking great to hang out with Patch and chat and eat and drink with a close bud. For the past three months, with all the coming and going, it felt like I hadn't been able to just sit back and feel completely comfortable in conversation, because it still feels like I'm always on my toes, while I try to get to know people. It was nice to not have to feel that for a couple days. Just what I needed. And great to catch up with the Patch man, who I hadn't spoken to in months, it felt.


Other than that, been trying to stay busy, on my budget of pennies. Still not working and I've started to look around for another job. But in the meantime, I've seen a couple really interesting performances at a venue called la Sala Rosa.

On Wednesday, there was an Artists Against Apartheid concert, where I got to see a pianist and trumpet player perform a jazz score over a slideshow, an experiment seven-piece group complete with a harp and slide guitar play what I could only describe as 'snow falling in the ocean music' and a three piece group playing experimental Middle Eastern stuff.


Tonight, I just got back from a documentary about two of the world's best World of Warcraft players, called Beyond the Game. Since I had a roommate back at university who played for 16 hours a day sometimes (Mac Deezee!!!) I've always wondered what the appeal was. While that was never answered in the flick, I did find it compelling, by the way the game is so popular in China and Korea. In the film, scores of Chinese kids would show up at the competitions and watch with their jaws hanging, as their heroes battled it out on big screens. Security would hold them back from the players, who would sign autographs and pose for pictures afterward.

Yesterday, I went with my roommate to listen to Norman Finklestein, who has spoken up against the Israeli occupation in Palestine. I enjoyed what he had to say and really thought a lot about the sacrifices radicals make in their lives, as they pursue their causes. I had more to write about the contradictions in his life, but I'm kind of wiped. Maybe some other time.


Other than that, it's beginning to become business as usual.


It's an odd feeling leaving home and so many people you know and love for no reason in particular other than a need to.


Got some news last night, which effectively closes a chapter in my life, I think. No regrets.

And while I've spent an inordinate amount of time recently thinking about what I want, really, when it all comes down to it, all that I want is an Easy Plateau.

Monday, November 16, 2009

awesome band name #3,861

Sometimes things get lost in translation, but sometimes they just get funnier.

I know, I know. It's supposed to be rapé. Still...

Anyways, file that one under the wicked band name category. Don't tell me you wouldn't buy a ticket to see Parmesan Rape.

For the record, my favorite French words are:

5. Ecureuil (squirrel)
4. Beouf (beef)
3. Pamplemousse (grapefruit)
2. Pneu (tire)

...and drumroll please....

1. Loup-garou (werewolf)

Honourable mention: chauve-souris (bat -- or bald mouse, translated literally), grenouille (frog), caoutchouc (rubber), Guy Lafleur (the flower guy?)

bow-t as stupid as it gets

So President Obama, on his trip through Asia, has -- not surprisingly -- drawn the ire of Conservatives back home, after he was pictured bowing to Japanese Emperor Akihito, in Japan.

How do you say 'kiss the ring' in Japanese?

One crusty old con, Bill Bennett (who apparently only bows when he's over a craps table) was quoted by CNN, stating:
"It's ugly. I don't want to see it. We don't defer to emperors. We don't defer to kings or emperors."

Another salty talking head, William Kristol, told Fox News:
"It's not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign one."

(In other news, Kristol played a game of swords with another pundit. Upon finding out his member was smaller, Kristol urinated all over the pundit's feet. And on a recent trip to Japan, Bennett vomited several times while taking in a sumo-wrestling contest. Apparently, he was nauseated by all the "ugly" bowing.)

Is this even worth talking about? I mean, when I'm invited to somebody's home, before I step inside, I take off my shoes. I realize if I don't take my shoes off, and start trampling through my host's place wearing my muddy kicks, the people who have invited me over may develop an unfavourable opinion of me.

I actually think what Obama is doing is what people call diplomacy, and it may be working to make friends around the world. Clearly, the "with us or against us" mentality the U.S. employed during the Dubya years was polarizing. I think Obama is starting to win them back, and I mean, nothing could be worse than George W. Bush's last visit to Japan, seen below.

George being George

Really though. This is the kind of shit that just turns me -- and I assume -- a lot of people off about politics. A customary gesture gets blown out of proportion and all of a sudden, opponents are pointing to how Obana is "weak" and America is being seen as less powerful.

Obama is meeting an Emperor, for Chrissake. He's not bowing to a fucking Enterprise Car Rental employee.

I understand Bennett and Kristol need to yammer about something to keep their kids in Ivy League schools or something, but get real.

Friday, November 13, 2009

madlib - so much

Suck my nards, sample-haters.

L.A. beat junkie Madlib, in his 40+ track Dilla tribute, gets this...

from this...

Now, not only does he create something completely new and funky from the song, but it also reintroduces the original to a new audience.

It's win/win.

Note: this really has turned into one of my favourite hobbies -- tracking down samples from sick beats.

Just for fun...

J Dilla - Track 3 on a mixtape that lived in my head for two years during Uni...

... from the Marvelettes -- You're the One

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the times they were a-changin' -- mad men season 3 thoughts



No wonder why Draper wanted out of Sterling Cooper... The building's falling apart.

I just listened to PTI's Tony Kornheiser rip the final episode of Mad Men's 3rd season on Bill Simmons' B.S. Report tonight. He said he was disappointed with it, since it basically puts an end to the first three seasons of the show, jettisons Ken Cosgrove and a bunch of characters, kills the tension between Betty and Don Draper and comes out seemingly like a happy, optimistic, starting-over for the agency.

"It's not going to be a bad show from now on. It's just going to be a different show," he said.

No shit, but that's life, bud.

Look, the final episode said a lot about where the show is (and country was) going and I think there is far more to it than Kornheiser is looking at.

In my opinion, the finale did a perfect of tying together all the story lines from the season and I honestly cannot wait for Season Four. Kornheiser said he was sad the show was changing and that there would no longer be the happy-go-lucky, glossy, optimism in the agency (or country). Well, that's just reality, mon. And I would argue, that while things appeared wonderful -- what with the copious amounts of hard-liquor guzzled before noon and the constant cavorting between the guys and 'their girls' -- things weren't as great for the black men tending the elevators and sandwich carts, or the women forced to submit to the every wish of their men -- at the office and in the home.

The show is going to be different, because America, at that time -- just months after JFK's assassination in 1963 -- was changing. Don said it when he was trying to woo Peggy to the off-shoot agency, referencing how people who buy things now saw themselves -- and the system -- differently.

The finale was beautiful because the shift from security to something new and frightening was done so cleverly. With all the characters venturing out of the ritzy office and crammed into a hotel room, they were forging into uncharted territory and it's a great illustration of precisely what -- and this is assumption on my behalf -- Americans felt like after Kennedy was killed. The country was mere months -- or years -- away from major social upheaval -- civic rights movement, feminism movement, the Beatles' arrival, unrest over Vietnam, the Hippy, free love and LSD movements -- and, like it or not, business at usual at the old Sterling Cooper was no longer going to be possible.

Not only was the new group stealing away the clients and forming Sterling Cooper Draper Price a great way to show this, but it was also necessary, because that old world was becoming extinct.

I also thought the theme of separation in the finale was very well done.

Don agrees to separate from his wife, which devastates him and is destructive to his family. He seemed to finally want to make things right at home, but his infidelity, lying and distance finally pushed Betty over the edge. I now get the impression that the freedom Don was addicted to sexually has been quashed. However, at the same time, the separation from Sterling Cooper provides him with more freedom and creative control at work. It was a nice juxtapositon.

Also of interest in the finale, after Betty outed Don and the secret identity that he's been running from for ten years -- and the first three seasons of the show -- we finally see Don become a little like his old man in the finale. When 'The Draper' walks into the office, he's shown remembering how his dad broke away from a farmers' co-op, after a price they were promised was lowered. His father takes it upon himself to get a better deal. Does anyone see a connection between his going out and initiating the coup at Sterling Cooper -- and truly becoming the alpha dog of the agency -- and his father breaking away on his own?

(Note: We're later shown Don's father getting kicked in the head by a horse and killed once he finally capitulates to his Don's step-mom's insistence to sell their crop. Any foreshadowing here? And if so, what does it mean?)

Also, I have to believe that Betty Draper is going to play a quieter role in the show now. For quite some time, I thought she was one of the most interesting characters, as she tried to reconcile Don's infidelity and her father's death with her wants for a career -- or some sort of outside life -- and her new feelings for Henry Sherman. But now with Don out of the picture and her future seemingly secure with Sherman, I don't see where she fits in -- unless she starts a career, or falls in love with Don again, which I don't see happening.

In the finale, we get the return of Joan -- the most titillating (conscious choice of word) character and one of the most entertaining characters -- and reunite her with Roger Sterling. After the episode where Roger was visited by an old flame and re-evaluated his marriage with his young trophy wife, I think he realized that Joan's the one for him (it's spelled out so obviously when he even calls her and says "it's nice to be on the minds of some people") and this is definitely going to be a major story line next year.

I also feel Harry is going to do something Fredo-like at Sterling Cooper Draper Price. The writers have already hinted at his incompetence twice in the finale, with his easy-to-quit attitude when the Art Department door was locked (Draper kicks it in) and his not knowing which hotel room the agency was in. I'd even argue, his nervousness in the hotel bedroom when Trudy arrives with sandwiches is another clue that he might not be up for the big move.

I'm interested in wondering what's going to happen with Peggy and Pete Campbell. I loved how Campbell got credited for being ahead of the curve on where the agency (you can substitute for America) was headed, and some of his targeted markets... Everything that had happened during the previous 12 episodes is wrapped up amazingly in the finale.

Also, I want to know what happens with Peggy and Don Draper, now that he's a bachelor. I think the frustration in the relationship between outsiders Peggy and Don -- how Don dismissed, never credited and pretty much ignored her, while she never stood up for herself, since she felt she was still indebted to Draper for giving her the copywriter position -- may start to dissipate as they communicate more openly. I want to see what happens as they finally maybe come to understand each other, and if that might lead to something more because there is a lot more going on between those characters that I thought.

Either way, crapping on the finale because it changes the show is just plain goofy, since the whole world was changing back then. I loved season three (or in Yellowknife vernacular: "It was DEADLY!") and am way too excited for season four, which is only... 8 months away.


Saturday, November 7, 2009


Chris Bosh (Photo: Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptor forward Chris Bosh celebrates upon reuniting with his family in the Green Valley.

I'm sorry, but Chris Bosh really does look like a dinosaur.

Spot on.

Friday, November 6, 2009


It's a funny thing.

I've been keeping this here blog as a record of my life for the past year and a bit, but lately, I've tired a bit of the old record keeping. Not to sound like a tiresome old old-timer, but over the past week, where I've been waiting on work to call me and send me off to make some much needed money, I've become somewhat bored and struggled to find things to write about and that's caused me to ponder the purpose of this thing.

No doubt, it's fun to get on here and rant and rave and know that a couple of people come here and spend a minute or two while they sip coffee before work each morning and digest the words. It's honestly an honour. But I've felt over the past little while, I've been keeping this thing up for the sake of keeping it up and I'm not sure I've been doing this for the reasons I originally intended, which was to provide my honest take of wherever I was at or of whatever I was doing. There really is no unifying theme in this blog -- it's not like I'm writing about one topic and since Oil Can left over a year ago, I have been without gimmick... mostly. Recently, I feel like I've been more of a fiction writer than a blogger.


I feel I should unleash my unabashed impressions of Montreal.

Guys and gals, I'm doing my best. Every cafe I enter, I start the conversation in French. Every Metro ticket I buy, I do it in French. I see the same ladies at Dunkin' Donuts every crusty-eyed morning before work at the Berri-UQAM station and I start off in French. I swear.

But you know what, no matter what I say or how I say it, they always reply in English. Without exception.

I'm sure it's my accent. I probably sound like I'm reading the French words phonetically, but honestly, I'm trying my best.

When I was in France a zillion years ago -- it was 2003, but that's how long ago it really feels -- I spent two and a half days getting zinged and singed by the French for not speaking the language -- although I was trying -- and then by day three, in Dieppe, after being fully submerged in the language for nearly 72 hours, it was like that early Simpsons episode where Bart finally realizes he can speak French and rats to the police about his shitty exchange foster parents. I was fluent as a river is fluent (not at all creative but nearly a palindrome) speaking with the Parisian mafia folk like we were old buddies over a campfire (story for another time) and I figured my French would be with me forever after. It is not.

It's not like I'm doing badly. I can communicate. But it's unfortunate that Montreal does not offer the opportunity for full immersion like France does. I fucking swear man, I want my French to improve. My roommate is from just outside Marseilles and I speak French with him all day, but still, I'm not getting any better.

If you don't believe my devotion, for the first month I was here, I stuck strictly to the East (French) side of Montreal, like the city was a music store and I chose to browse the cool, indie section exclusively and shun the rest. St. Denis was my world, to hell with St. Laurent.

But lately, I've been wandering downtown and I'm a little taken aback by the English-first communication at cafes and stores and on the street. I do my best to keep the French up, but when they keep coming back with English, I break down. And lately, I've capitulated at West-side cafes and just started up in English.

I feel guilty. I feel like a quitter.


Ah, much better.


I know how my brain works -- even though I will say on the record right now that I honestly feel like I'm one bright light away from a migraine and even a strobe light away from a stroke.
(Another story for another time.)

I know my limitations. I like to sit back and observe human happenings at concerts and sporting events and make my corny little commentaries. I like making poop jokes. I like one-liners. I think I have a mind that's suited to process the relevance of things that happen in front of me. Or at least, I think I think I do.

But one thing I'm sure I have no clue about is business. I have no idea how people or ventures make money. I can't wrap my mind around how some people can come out in the black owning a cafe, where say, 200 people buy $2 coffees each day, creating a couple hundred and perhaps a thousand in revenue, though the owner has to pay employee salaries, supplies, utilities, rent and advertising. I break these things down non-stop and they never make sense.

Take for instance, the cabbies that line up on St. Hubert street, near my place. I don't understand how these guys come out at the end of the day making any money. They spend hours on end -- I'm not kidding -- bullshitting, chatting, arguing in line and then they finally get their fare. Well, say this fare is $20 (and I'm being VERY generous -- a lot of the people who grab these cabs are deadbeats) and you wait an hour and do that all day. How do you make your cash, mon? How do you support your family? If you work 12 hours, that's $240 MAX! and that's being generous. You still have your license to pay for, your fee to your employer and then gas money. I just don't understand how these guys make money. I'll have to ask next time I'm in a cab.

(By the way, earlier this week, I saw a cabbie FREAK OUT at another cabbie. I'm not talking horn-honking, or getting out and asking what's up... I'm talking both those things and then some arms flailing, some cab kicking and some yellin' like Magellan (who I'm not sure ever yelled, it just rhymed.) And my favorite part: the guy receiving the FREAK OUT, just smiled and laughed. Is there anything more infuriating than freaking out at somebody and getting nothing but laughter thrown back at you? I don't think so.

I wonder if that would hold up in court.

"But your honour, when I freaked out, he just smiled back at me. So I popped him."

Judge (stroking whiskers on chin): "I see. Justifiable homicide. Case dismissed.)


I'm a little jarred, since it feels like I haven't seen a pick-up truck in almost two months. I mean, they are such a staple in the North that you forget once you leave that, perhaps they aren't needed when all you do is drive from your suburban home to the parking lot adjacent work and home again, with intermediate stops at the grocery store or the kids' soccer games. You can't scratch your nuts in the NWT without seeing a pick-up truck, but here... I've seen four or five in a month. Honestly.


The Novaks were AWESOME! Thanks Lillie Mae. I'm sure I wouldn't have done wrong by seeing Elliott Brood tonight, but really the Novaks ripped it.

I was a little choked that the set wasn't too packed for them, since they were opening for the Arkells, who play songs that sound like they should become the theme for sitcoms or the OC or something. Not to sound like too big of a douchebag, but no one will remember the Arkells in a year or two. Honestly, they are just another Hamilton band -- like the Marble Index -- with catchy songs. More than half the crowd for them tonight was from Hamilton, I bet.

The Novaks, on the other hand, produced more energy with three people than the Arkells' five. (Another clincher: the Arkells had two band members with shoulder-long hair covering their eyes throughout most of the show. That's emo. Not cool.)

Really, check out the Novaks. They should have been the main event tonight. And they're from Newfoundland. When was the last time you heard a rock band from Newfoundland?

the novaks - i'll give you a ring

A little dilemma presents itself later this evening, but much thanks and appreciation to Lillie Mae Dawgwood for getting me to go outside my comfort zone and not check out the always entertaining Elliott Brood -- who I've seen a couple times now -- and instead watch her cousin's band -- and the Little Steven-approved -- the Novaks.

She's been telling me to give them a listen for a while and I did, but youtubing a couple songs this morning, I can't stop stomping my foot and humming along.

They remind me a lot of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, minus the pretension and ego and darkness.

I'm excited.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

got my air force ones

Swung past the Musee d'art contemporain last night on my way home, completely unaware I was showing up on free night. When I arrived, the lady at the counter told me I had to wait around for five more minutes before going in, because after 5 p.m. there was no charge to enter.

So I went downstairs to the bookstore and leafed through a bunch of different publications. One caught my eye and I spent probably ten to fifteen minutes reading it, and even after leaving the museum -- after viewing enough stupefying 'works of art' that made me feel stupid -- I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd seen in that book. It provoked more thought than anything I'd viewed during my hour-or-so at the museum.

The work of Vancouver artist Brian Jungen was showcased in that book, and I was blown away by the chapter Prototypes on New Understanding, which detailed his recreation of First Nations' masks, using Air Jordans.

Now this may be old news to some of you, but this was the first time I'd come across it and I got such a kick out of how the artist took these powerful symbols of our consumer culture (let's not kid ourselves, the Nike Air Jordan is the most popular and over-priced piece of sports wear around) and deconstructed them, reshaping them into masks we'd normally see on totem poles. I felt like I could look at the masks all day. And although the meaning of what Jurgen was trying to get at was not lost on me -- I don't think -- I felt like the masks were so fun to look at: they were so well done and it's such a mind-fuck to think about how he's created them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

take me out to the ballgame

September was ballpark month for old Herbiberous, as I spent the first half of the month making a hedonistic pilgrimage to some of the baseball stadiums I have fantasized about experiencing since I was a pint-sized, box score-obsessed kid.

Unfortunately, I made the trip one year too late, as both the old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium shut their doors for the last time. I did, however, get the opportunity to visit CitiField and the new Yankee Stadium.

Here is the recap of my impressions from the parks:

Sept. 2 - Wrigley Field in North Chicago

Bleacher Bum for a day... I'll be back, Wrigley Field. You just wait.

Wrigley Field was without a doubt the park I was most excited to visit. Stuck inside on cool spring days, I remember watching afternoon games with envy while at university or on days off from work and being envious of the fans in the bleachers, soaking up sun, slurping up suds, taking in a ballgame on a beautiful, sunny Chicago day.

So when it came time to buy tickets, I made sure I was in the bleachers, to take my spot as an official "Bleacher Bum."

The one drawback from that spot though was I was prohibited, with my ticket in the cheap seats, from wandering around the rest of the park.

I took the train -- or the L, as it's called in Chicago -- and arrived about an hour early for the day game, on a nice 23C Chicago afternoon. I strolled down Waveland Ave. -- famous since its days of being the landing pad for Sammy Sosa bombs -- and Sheffield Ave. and marveled at the amount of pubs and bars crowded along the streets lining, and leading up to, the field.

The field itself was as impressive as it was historic, and I pinched myself, seeing the ivy outfield walls in person.

The bleachers were packed with blue shirts -- Cubbies fans taking a day off work and indulging in a little moderate -- to heavy -- drinking. The Bleacher Bums lived up to their reputation, pestering the opposition with a relentless barrage of insults -- most of them levied at Astros left-fielder, and former-Cub, Carlos Lee.

"Where's the love?" Cub fans show their appreciation for Carlos Lee. As my friend for the day said more poignantly, many times: "SUUUUCK IT, LEEEEE!" For his part, Lee handled it pretty well, hamming it up early in the game, shaking his head and gesturing right back.

The game itself was low-scoring, probably due to the fact that so many regulars -- and players I was looking forward to seeing -- like Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Giovanni Soto to name a few, took the day off. Milton Bradley, however, was still in the line-up, and any time he made even the slightest blunder, the Cubs fans gave it to him -- BIGTIME.

I sat between two giant groups: one set of housewives from across Illinois and Wisconsin on a 'girls' day out', and a bunch of tech and business guys. The ladies were really friendly, and I -- along with a couple girls I met at the game -- followed them to a pub afterward for beers and some really, REALLY, awkward dancing.

Ted Lilly gets his props as he does a warm-up lap.

The Cubs were way back in the NL Central at the time, but had been making a little push and some of the people I spoke to genuinely thought if the club could get rolling, they could put a little pressure on the division-leading Cardinals. I met an old man who had been a Cubs fan since childhood, and he spoke earnestly about life as a tortured fan of the club. I bumped into him every time I left my seat for a beer. As we spoke, a father and son played catch down below, on Waveland Ave.

Ted Lilly pitched a fine game, Derrek Lee hit a two-run bomb, Andres Blanco was sick with the mitt, and I stood up and stretched my bladder to the famous Take Me Out to the Ballgame, sung by a former-Cub, during the Seventh Inning stretch.

When Carlos Marmol closed out the Cubs win, the party kicked off, with some kitschy 'Cubs win' song that must have been written by a local band struggling to find success at whatever cost. All these really drunk white people -- and most of the people at the game were white -- in the bleachers got up and started dancing and singing the words.

Cubs WIN! Let the party begin...

And yeah, following the game, I set off on a mammoth, impromptu pub crawl (Cub crawl?) with a couple girls from Illinois. It was a giant party for blocks and blocks and blocks, all of which were crowded, crowded, crowded with bars and merry Cubs fans.

"Is it always like this when they win?" I asked.

"Yeah. And most of the time when they lose," one of the girls responded.

It was at the first pub where I first witnessed what Americans call dancing -- basically doggie-style sex with clothes on. There were makeout sessions everywhere. It was still like 5:30 p.m. The housewives dragged me onto the dance floor. I swear I did not American dance with them.

We left the pub when my bag was confiscated by a doorman (I had one of the girl's bottles of vodka in there) and went on to another and another, where I beat a restaurant owner in a game of 'Bags,' humiliating him in front of his clientele. (I swear that's my game!) I made fun of the girls' Chris Farley-style accents (they pronounced the word coupon "coo-peaen") and got drunk and lost everyone when we went downtown to watch fireworks at the pier and I wound up wandering around Chicago, from classy jazz club to dueling piano bar to donair joint to Billy Goat Tavern -- an infamous pub below the Chicago Tribune building where all the long-time reporters' bylines are on the wall -- and then back to my hostel at 4 a.m.

All in all, hell of a day to spend in Chicago!

Sept. 4 - U.S Cellular Field in South Side of Chicago

Can't believe Jrqua was at the game and I didn't know it.

I showed up to watch two different coloured socks do battle at U.S. Cellular Field. Now usually if you pit a red sock versus a white sock, like say in a washing machine, the red socks will usually taint the white sock and have more influence, turning the colourless sock a shade of pink.

Well, on the diamond, at least for one night, the white sock overcame and demolished the red sock.

I took the train to U.S. Cellular without a ticket and purchased one for a pretty good price out by the left field foul pole, since the Sox were way back. (Note: I was traveling on a budget, and was not able to splurge for beauty seats.)

The first thing I noticed in arriving at the park was the lack of fanfare around the stadium. Compared to Wrigley, U.S. Cellular was downright deserted.

I showed up really early for the game and took in batting practice, watching Ken Rosenthal -- baseball commentator and columnist who also apparently is a midget -- chat up players like Dustin Pederoia and chuckling as David Ortiz kidded around with everybody.

I found out later that a good friend I haven't seen in ages was actually at the game with her boyfriend on the other side of the field. I'm sure the night would have been a show if we'd met up.

Anyways, on that particular night, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the festivities. With the whole Patrick Kane ordeal this summer, I was praying for him to show up so I could taunt him mercilessly and maybe throw some quarters at him (you know, help him out since he must be hard up for cash if he's beating up cabbies) but of course those PR people kept him away.

I wish I had some batteries to hurl, especially at Byfuglien. Still not over the Canucks' loss last year. Not by a long shot.

As the Hawks took the field, I couldn't help but notice the lack of wives or girlfriends or family and then I realized that these guys are all still so young. (Scary, man. They are going to be good. I'm just so glad their GM fucked up by signing Hossa and Campbell to such long-term deals that they won't be able to afford all their other young stars.) Brent Sopel was the only one with a family. Anyways, the Hawks came out, along with their season ticket holders and, I think it was Brent Seabrook -- or was it Sopel? -- that threw out the first pitch. I have to give it to them though, the Hawks did a classy job, even though they are quickly becoming the Canucks' newest rival.

The game got out of hand quickly. A lot of offense and Freddy Garcia -- aka the Rock -- kept the Sox at bay, mostly. Obama's team went up early and never looked back.

Most of the talk I heard was about the Red Sox, with a large presence of the team's supporters at the game. Also, the game was just a week or so after Jim Thome was traded and people were still talking about it angrily. He was very popular. The new fan favorite seemed to be Gordon Beckham. And everyone was still buzzing about Mark Buerhle's perfect game.

With little drama, and surrounded by a sparse crowd, I decided to leave my seat and walk around the park and see the game from different points. U.S. Cellular was really wide open and security left you alone for the most part.

Grand veranda by this old fella. Too bad they didn't have a Black Sox statue area.

At the end of the game, I ventured 15 rows behind the visitor's dugout and caught the ninth inning. Following the game, the Blackhawks put on a fireworks show.

Was gearing up to watch a Big Papi at bat, but he was taken out.

Now I was expecting some hokey, two-minute show, but it wound up lasting about a half-hour, timed with music and was probably the best fireworks show I've ever seen (really not saying much, having grown up in Yellowknife. No offense, SnowKing.)

Here I am. Rock you like a Hurricane

After the game, I got lost outside the field in the dark. I was told by a couple White Sox fans not to hang around too long because it could get rough around that area. Found the train and went back to the hostel.

Made it back and had another late night.

Sept. 7 - New Yankee Stadium in the Bronx

New Yankee Stadium: home of the ingloriously glorious bastards

On my first full day in New York, I took the D train to Yankee Stadium for another beautiful afternoon game, pitting the reviled New York Yankees against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Much of the hullaballoo surrounding this game concerned Derek "the fist-pumping phony" Jeter and his approaching the "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig's all-time Yankee hits record. At the time, I believe Jeter was three or four short, and this being the first game of a double-header, the papers and the buzz outside and around the stadium was that by the end of the night, Jeter -- my most hated of professional baseball players (yes, even worse than Adolf Hitler, who spent a few seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals after his failed putsch) -- would sit atop the Yankee record books.

Now I won't get into a tiffy about how much importance people were putting into the record -- Gehrig's hits were far more weighty and important, with more extra-base hits than Jeter, with his trademark opposite field singles -- but it did add some significance to the games, with the Yankees at that point pretty much locked into a post-season birth... and the Rays nearly out of it.

The added excitement no doubt also influenced ticket prices, as I found myself shelling out $50 for bleacher seats. Didn't help that I sat next to the couple who sold the ticket to the scalper I bought it from and said they only got $20 for it. I spoke to another guy later, who got booted from the seat beside me by a Sesame Street character, who told he'd paid about $45 for his. That made me feel better. (From here on in, I went through

The unhistoric shrine

The ballpark itself was immense, like a shrine or something. There were exclusive areas all over the place, with tours needed to view Monument Park and other areas that day, I think.

I took a stroll around the park and snapped a couple pictures, and was really taken aback by the amount of history the club had. The concession area is adorned with snapshots of Yankees lore, and as you walk through, you get a little display of each championship team. I was more than a little disappointed that I would never get a chance to see a game from Old Yankee Stadium, where I watched the franchise I despise the most in sport, rack up World Series after World Series in the late 1990s, as winter took the colour from the days up in shivery old Yellowknife, with crazy moments like the Leritz home run, the Boone home run, the Jeffrey Maier catch against the Orioles, the Red Sox comeback, the David Cone and David Wells perfect games and so many other moments.

I found it odd that while the club had so much history, the park tried to look steeped in tradition and winning, even though it was scarcely six months old. Let it happen, New Yankee Stadium. You have no legend yet.

The Yankees fans and promotional people speak this almost Roman colosseum style vernacular, using the words 'honour, tradition and pride' ad nauseum. During the breaks in innings, the announcer would say things like 'the only word synonymous with such pride and history... Yankees." It was a little much, but definitely added to the gravitas of the stadium and the game experience.

It would probably cost me a couple g-notes to watch the game from where I snapped this

The food and beer were the most expensive of any of the parks that I visited, but that was to be expected I guess, considering the amount that is spent on the on-field product - $208 million for 2009 (or nearly the entire Gross Domestic Product of Micronesia, according to the World Bank.)

$110 million worth of infield

Now let's breakdown what the Yankees infield during the game was making in 2009.
P - C.C. Sabathia - $15,285,714
C - Jorge Posada - $13,100,000
1B - Mark Texeira - $20,625,00
2B - Robinson Cano - $6,000,000
SS - Derek Jeter - $21,600,000
3B - Alex Rodriguez - $33,000,000

That's what? $110 million. Then, when Mariano Rivera came in to close the game out, you can tack on another $15 million. Damn Yankees.

And if you think about their work day, A-Rod would be making about $200,000 a game. So while I sat there drinking $9 beer after $9 beer, leafing through my $7 program, A-Rod was pocketing more money those three hours than I will for the next few years. Damn Yankees.

The game was great though. I was expecting a little more of a hostile environment, considering the stadium's location in the Bronx and all, but it never got too heated. Maybe it was due to the day game. The only time anyone got worked up was when Pena got beaned on the hand, went down and then got up and spoke to the trainers for a few minutes. Yankee fans got RESTLESS. Pena finished the at bat. Turns out, the at bat finished his season. He'd broken his hand. Oh, and a couple Red Sox fans nearly got lynched leaving the ballpark.

The game did have one notable drag: I had to sit next to a really annoying Yankees fan, who chewed really loudly, and sounded like Bert, of Bert and Ernie fame. He kind of looked like him too, although he was wearing a backward cap. He was seated with all these friends of his, in their mid-to-late 30s, who would talk about these mindless, trivial baseball things, like how cute Jeter was... blah blah blah. Basically, they spoke about the kinds of things that would make any real baseball fan want to vomit his cracker jacks. The guy would get and give back rubs and laugh like Richie Gazzo in Donnie Brasco and would tune in and out of the game, yelling and clapping really loud when he was into it, and proceeding to get drunker and drunker and he was kind of an ass to whoever wasn't a crony of his. Just a general jack-ass.

Also of interest, there are hotdog stands and then there are kosher hotdog stands. I didn't think it was possible to slaughter a cow's testicle and sphincter in a way that conforms to Jewish dietary rites. Who knew?

So much going on here. What is Joe Torre doing in that hat? He looks like an over-the-hill cowboy who hasn't slept in months. And then there's Guiliani, greedily posing with the trophy like a spoiled brat, to show off to his electorate, acting like he had something to do with winning it.

The neatest part of the game was, being out in right field, I got to be close to the opening ritual the Yankees have at the ballpark. One guy stands up in the bleachers during the first inning and yells out a players name, followed by clapping, which everyone in the area, then stadium, follows until the player acknowledges the bleacher.


So they go from player to player and some turn and tip their cap, or raise their glove, barely looking away from the play. All except Nick Swisher, who turned around on his heels, and saluted the crowd, bringing the biggest cheer of all.

I had just finished devouring Michael Lewis' Moneyball -- a must-read for any ball fan or anyone who got a kick out of Freakonomics, or anything Malcolm Gladwell has written about economics and incentives -- and it featured glowing praise of Swisher for not only being an on-base machine, but also a great guy in the dressing room. I could see it in that moment right there.

All in all, great experience, beautiful day, great game. Saw Longoria hit a smash. Well not really a smash, but a ball that barely bested the right field wall. Matt Garza pitched a pretty good game for the away side. C.C. pitched a better one for the Yanks, with something like 10 or 11 Ks. Brett Gardner made an amazing running catch in centerfield, which no one in the park thought he could get to. And I laughed hard whenever Hinske stepped up for the pinstripes. Every other Yankee is treated with adulation and applause, and whenever Hinske came to bat, it was like everyone got up to take a piss.

The breaks between innings were pretty long. Unlike other parks, where they will slip in one sponsorship message or trivia question or promotional contest while the players take the field and warm up, the Yankees would often squish in two, meaning the game dragged on a little longer than I would have liked -- but fuck it, I'm in New York, at a Yankees game, drinking beer. And it was cool to see Mariano Rivera come in to close out the game, complete with 'Enter Sandman' blaring out of the speakers. Metallica, however, did not fit in that mausoleum.

Enter Sandman

On the way out, saw Old Yankee Stadium in the shadows and wondered to myself if this new stadium would ever see a championship -- and now, shit, it could be tonight. Watched the park disappear into the Bronx Zoo from the train, looking at the rooftops near the stadium, tagged with graffiti, through fence.

Sept. 9 -- CitiField in Queens, NY

While the world suffered through a recession, Mets fans have truly been suffering through depression. Welcome to Grand Zero

So the home teams were 3-0 on my trip so far, and I thought I could start marketing myself as a good luck charm. But of course the hard luck Mets broke that soon enough for me.

Before I start, here is a smattering of Mets loathing I've found on the internet lately.
From one of my favourite sites,
"Remind me to fart on my father's arm for making me a Mets and Jets fan."
"For your average Mets' fan, a Phillies/Yankees World Series is 100% pure, uncut, black-tar Colombian AIDS"
"The Mets should just play company volleyball next year."
"The Mets are the AOL of baseball."
"I don't want to suggest that the Mets' GM Omar Minaya is incompetent, but he just tried to trade Carlos Beltran for David Wright."
and one more not related, just for the hell of it...
"I just ran the Wildcat on my penis. It wasn't sure if I was gonna jerk off, pee, or just scratch its balls."

I got my best deal of the trip at Citibank: 25 rows up on the first-base line, regularly over $80, mine for $28. But like a set of china with a chipped cup or a leather sofa with a small tear, I was getting a discount because I was paying for damaged goods. Reyes, Delgado and Santana were injured and Beltran was making his first start in ages. I did get to watch David Wright and the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez -- maybe the most underrated player in the game today.

Showed up early again, and took a quick little walk through Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a beautiful hall in the lobby of the stadium's main entrance, celebrating the heroic Robinson, who broke the colour-barrier in baseball back in 1947.

Nice rotunda and all, but why do you have it?

Now here's a perfect example of how mixed up the Mets are: they celebrate a player who never once played a game for their franchise with a beautiful display. I suppose, since the Mets are closer to Brooklyn, where Robinson started his career, and since they modeled their stadium after Brooklyn's old digs -- Ebbets Field -- that they have taken it upon themselves to keep his legacy alive, but it just doesn't make sense. Really, it should be the Los Angeles Dodgers to celebrate Robinson, as the Brooklyn Dodgers moved from Ebbets Field to L.A. just after Jackie retired. So the Mets celebrate someone who is not their own.

Planes, planes, planes

Anyways, I really liked the feel of the stadium. Very comfortable and intimate, compared to the colossal, concrete Yankee Stadium. I walked around for a good hour, getting different vantage points and speaking with a nice security guard about how old-school the park felt. I watched plane after plane take off from LaGuardia airport just outside the stadium and looked over at Flushing Meadows, where the U.S. Open Tennis Championships semi-finals or quarterfinals were going off. (A U.S. Tennis official helped us all out, as we got off the subway. "Green balls, left. White balls, right.")

Also, it was free hotdog night and the staff were giving people three or four tickets, because the game was far from sold out. Beautiful for a traveller on a stringless shoe budget, who has been eating pizza by the slice for nearly a week already. I ate until I was ready to vomit cow testicle and sphincter.

Now, I really liked the look of the stadium, but leave it to Mets fans to shit all over their squad. I sat next to three businessmen, who were at their first game in a while. A friend had given them the tickets because he wasn't able to sell them. I told them my impression of the stadium, how I liked the coziness, compared to Yankee Stadium.

The guy told me the place was falling apart. He mentioned Jerry Seinfeld's public complaints in the NY Post about his luxury box being flooded, and then said there were cracks in other areas of the concourse. He said the club would never make as much money as they did that year, with the attraction of the inaugural season in the stadium and said people's interest fanning out. The Mets, by the way, spent the second most money in the bigs last year -- more than $145 million. And they didn't make the playoffs. The guy then asked if I'd ever seen more security in my life at a ball game, and slowly my opinion started to turn.

The Marlins came out quickly, Cody Ross smashing a GIANT homerun in the first inning and took away any momentum or lingering hope from the Mets faithful.

Not much of a pitching match-up either, I mean you don't dream about Ricky Nolasco versus Pat Mitsch.

Slowly, my love of the park waned as the game went on, as I was asked to show my ticket EVERY single time I left my chair to get a beer or piss or eat a free hotdog. I finally told the guy the fourth time he stopped me if he didn't remember me, and he just asked for the ticket. The businessman was right, I have never seen so many security and park personnel at a stadium in all my days.

Pretty uneventful game, with a lot of Mets fans reserving their harshest criticism for their own team. There was a play where Dan Murphy dropped a pop-up or something and people got on him HARRRDDD! This was after he already belted a homerun, and overheard people talking about how much they liked him because he played the game the right way. The badgering was bad and a little personal and indicative of how frustrated the fan base is.

Again, I would have loved to have seen a game at Shea Stadium.

Pal, you're at a Mets game. Not a Yankees tilt in the late-1990s. Or a trailer park.

I took the train from Queens all the way back to Harlem, and listen to miserable Mets fans talk about their team.

Sept. 15 -- Fenway Stadium in Boston, Mass.

(Note: I got pretty drunk -- by myself -- at this game. I don't know why. I really don't know what it was. Could have been the uncertainty about finances, leaving for Iceland in a day or two and then not knowing where I would be after that. Could have been the fact that I was at Fenway fucking Park and just going with the flow. Could have been the cold night and trying to warm up.)

Outside Providence

Showed up for this beaut and had a beer at -- I can't remember the place off the top of my head, so I'm resorting to -- Cask 'N Flanagans (maybe???). Met some French folks from Quebec, who may have convinced me sub-consciously with their stories and laid-back nature that Montreal was the place for me to set off to once my VISA account put a permanent kaibosh on further travels.

I may have had the shittiest seats in the park. Four rows from the top, in the centerfield bleachers, forty seats in -- undoubtably I was a terrible neighbour at the game, leaving to piss every inning or so, as I stretched my bladder with Bo Sox beers, stepping on forty feet or so each time. Yeah, I was that guy.

The Green Monster at dusk

Throwing the Dice (lots of Japanese fans crowded around taking picture after picture of Dice-K warming up)

Unlike nearly every other stadium I visited -- with the exception of Wrigley because I wasn't able to walk around -- Fenway was not conducive at all to letting the fan walk around and view the game from other spots. There were simply no open areas to stand and watch the action, unlike U.S. Cellular, Citibank and even Yankee Stadiums, designed with verandas for friends to stand and socialize during the game. Fenway Park had seats packed into whatever space was available. I'm not complaining though, because that's what I expected and man, what an old school, historic park. And Fenway definitely had the happiest, most captivated and observant fans of all the parks I visited.

Got to watch my boy Vladdy play again -- after seeing him smack dingers in Seattle about five years ago and gun down Ichiro from right (even though he didn't get the call) and rip the ball around the park in Anaheim six years ago. Kind of sad to see him hobble around. I hope he heals up this winter and he's not done. Would love to see him get 500HR and 3,000 hits in his career, although that's not looking very good these days.

Dice-K pitched a phenomenal game in his return, and Lackey wasn't so bad. Big Papi swatted a jack, but honestly I don't remember too, too much from the game other than this couple. I was back and forth ALOT.

I do remember that Jacoby Ellsbury received so many cheers from chicks I thought Ashton Kutcher was playing or something.

Also, I became enthralled by two fans about five rows in front of me. They were like those two kind of awkward people who haven't really been in relationships very often and are too overt with their fondness for each other. They made out HARD throughout the first five innings. Seriously, it was violent. And the guy would just hold his head out whatever chance he got -- whenever the Sox got a hit, whenever the music played -- hovering for a molester kiss. By the time I decided to pop out my camera -- and felt no self-awareness from the buckets of suds I'd pounded back -- and with the urging of my neighbours, I tried to take pictures of them playing tongue-wars. Didn't really happen though.

Here's my best try.

Is that weird?

Wandered around a bit after the game, hoping to find some people to party with, but I was in sort of roughish shape and decided to call it a night. Found the train and then went back to Allston and chatted with a transsexual from Iran on the steps of the Roach Hostel.

Friendliest fans: Wrigley Field
Liveliest atmosphere: Wrigley Field (by a hair, over Fenway Park)
Most expensive beer: Yankee Stadium ($9 or $10 with a commemorative plastic cup of New Yankee stadium)
Most expensive program: Yankee Stadium
Most expensive team on field: Yankees
Most depressed/self-deprecating fanbase: Mets
Most obsessed fanbase: Red Sox
Largest stadium: Yankee Stadium
Most opportunity to walk around and watch the game from other spots: U.S. Cellular Field
Most impersonal stadium: Yankee Stadium
Stingiest stadium: Citibank Field
Horniest fanbase: Red Sox
Best game: Central Park crazy people