Tuesday, December 29, 2009

thought for 2009

Have you ever noticed that Asian people take an inordinate amount of photos of their food?

I wonder why that is.

This question, I believe, will trouble me throughout this next decade.

Happy New Year, in any case.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

merry holidays

Back in Yellowknife for the week and already fattening up on coffee and Baileys and homemade lasagna and mandarin oranges and board games.

Got on the flight from Edmonton and laughed while the four dogs in the cabin were barking at each other. Yep, that's the North. And the old man in the row in front of me who stared just a tad too long and seriously at the cute Japanese girl's ass, as she patiently waited to take her seat. And the nervous flier lady who told her husband they weren't seated next to each other on the flight a little loud and the husband who responded with a chuckle "That's probably a good thing." And the way the jet was like a barroom the whole flight, with people telling stories and catching up and busting a gut, and even as the bulky cabin dipped and ducked and jitterbugged and juked in the sky the cadence doesn't change because people are so second-nature about flying.

It's nice to be back, playing hockey on the big lake and drinking beers with all the great friends down on the houseboat, telling stories about how we lost our teeth, with frost thawing into our beverages from our makeshift beards.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

club the club

I went to a club tonight. I think it was called 'la mouche'. It was the first club experience for this old dude in a couple years, to tell you the truth.

Now, when I was a young man, back in the Calgary university days, I used to go to clubs because it was where the girls were and where the beers were cheap sometimes and where the music was loud and you could just be a fool and whatever went.

I went tonight because that's where everyone from the Christmas party was going and after basically sneaking into the place because I wasn't dressed like a cast member from the Jersey Shore and therefore deemed acceptable for entrance, I had a confrontation with a bouncer about the toque I was wearing. He told me to take it off and put it in the sleeve of my coat, which by that point had been coat-checked behind a line of three or four people. I thought his request was retarded and I stuffed the toque into my jeans pocket. He still wouldn't let me pass, even though I had paid my $12 cover. So I asked my friend to put it in her purse and she obliged. But old doorman, who hasn't had a thought for himself in the past decade I assume, said that was unacceptable, and I needed to put the toque in my coat. And that's when I realized how pointless the stupid game I was playing was, and so I stuffed it in another friends' purse when he wasn't looking and walked in.

Really, it's that kind of mindless conformity and enforcing of trivial rules that make clubs so ridiculous and I sort of realized why I hadn't gone to 'une boite' (what Quebecois call the club) in such a long time.

Anyhow, I had a zillion rants and raves about the evening and the goofy encounters and mating rituals I witnessed tonight, but at this point, I'm dead tired (and a wee bit tipsy) and I want to go to sleep.

So here's a song I've been listening to a lot lately, instead.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

did you know?

Did you know that cotton candy is known as 'barbe a papa' in Quebec?

Loosely translated, that means daddy's beard.

I've always thought cotton candy was pretty disgusting in the first place, what with its taste and texture and sugary content and association with carnies.

But now it's got an added perverseness and Freudian creepiness to it that I never thought possible. I'll never look at young French kids eating cotton candy the same way again. (Hold up a second, it's not like I was looking at young French kids eating cotton candy in the first place.)

Note: Apparently in Australia, they call cotton candy 'fairy floss.'

Oil Can's All-Stars: #4

I admit, it's been a while since I've done one of these. However, there are a few perfectly legitimate reasons to why that is.

First and most importantly, I have been incommunicado with our friend Oil Can Boyd. Last I heard, he was traveling to Copenhagen with a contingent of ballplayers to lobby world governments to do something about climate change, because he believes -- from what he's seen in computer models (and the film 2012) -- that more unpredictable weather could have adverse effects on the planet and the people inhabiting it, but most of all, that could cause more rained-out games.

Second, the Can and I did not realize how much we were biting the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, when we started the team. Simmons has a plethora of name all-star teams like this, which include black guys who have white guy names, white guys who have black guy names and such. I've been reading Simmons on ESPN.com since my second or third of university, when I was but a young, naive procrastinator, who could sprout nary a hair on his baby smooth face and really, there is no excuse to the swagger jacking.

Seriously, I didn't realize how bad we were biting, but since reading his epic The Book of Basketball, which contains at least 10 other quasi all-star teams, I figured no harm no foul and there would be no detriment in continuing our list of the goofiest names in professional sports.

For those new to the site, we've already named three members to this squad, in various elaborate and expensive and magnanimous unveilings.

The members are:

1. Tree Rollins
2. Cool Papa Bell
3. Boof Bonser.

So for those keeping track at home, that's two baseball players and a basketballer. Well, today we're about to add a hockey player to this list...

Without further ado, the fourth member of Oil Can's All-Star, brought to you by the Jung & Walker hot sauce company, is...

Brett Festerling!!!

Yes, yes. Brett Festerling. Now I know what you're thinking (because I can read your mind!!!) who the hell is Brett Festerling?

I was thinking the same thing, really, when I watched the Canucks fall to the last-place Ducks last night. Well, Brett Festerling is a 23-year-old defenseman for the Anaheim Ducks, who was born in Quesnel, B.C. He hasn't scored a goal yet in his 40-game NHL career.

He's a shut down d-man, who was formerly captain of the Vancouver Giants, who lost a chance to represent the WHL in the Memorial Cup in 2006-07, after losing the Medicine Hat Tigers in seven games.

I couldn't find much else of interest on Festerling, other than he's apparently dating a girl from B.C., who some anonymous poster on talk-sports.net said he partied with at Wakefest a couple years ago and who, he thinks, was a "really nice girl."

But that's beside the point. What I find really interesting about this guy is his last name.

Festerling! Are you kidding me? How does this name originate? Was there a caveman way back when who had gangrene or something and his friends and neighbours, when humans were sufficiently intelligent to dole out names, voted that said Mr. Putrefying Caveman should be labelled Festerling?

I don't know, but I love it.

Just break down the meaning of the name.

To fester means to rot or to putrefy. The suffix -ling denotes a person who is concerned with something.

So basically, Brett is concerned with rotting.

What is it like when someone in his family has a baby?

"Awwww, look at that adorable little Festerling..."

"He's definitely got his father's mandible."

Sounds like the name that should be given to the spawn of the giant extra-terrestrials in Alien, or the name of the furry balls that spew out from angry Gremlins.

Fucking Festerling, man.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

slingin hiccups

Good afternoon that looks a lot like evening, friends.

How you been keeping during these darkest of December days?

Not very well? Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.

What's that? It's worse? You're lacking energy? Well shoot, I'm sure it will come back to you.

Sorry, I didn't catch that. You what? You haven't been outdoors in weeks and haven't bathed in longer and you are surrounded by bottles full of your own urine because your indoor plumbing has completely frozen up?

Yikes, don't know how to help with that.

But... I may have a way to heat up your days a bit.

Fret no longer my friends, for there is a cure to what ails you and an elixir that will spice up your life and scorch away the palette of blandness that drags down your days.

That's right, folks! Jung, the man you followed through South East Asia, has bottled up all his considerable knowledge and experience and it can be yours. Jung, aka TobasKO, and his equally seasoned cohort, have come up with a Caribbean Mango Pepper Sauce that will literally knock your socks off.

(Note: I can no longer wear socks while using this hot sauce. They've blown holes through every last pair.)

While this blog has never been used to sling anything other than lingo, this is a product I vouch for. I've been using this stuff with everything: steaks, chicken, popsicles, cereal, coffee and sometimes as toothpaste. While I'm sure Jung & Walker would not recommend using it as a plaque fighter (nor does my dentist) they sure as hell know how to brew some sauce.

But don't take my word for it, take Jung's:

Made with only the finest Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers, mango and pineapple! This recipe was almost two years in the making when we finally felt it was good enough to share with everyone.

If you like hot sauce, then you’ve got to try a bottle of our Caribbean Mango Pepper Sauce, the first creation from the guys at Jung and Walker.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!!!

Jung & Walker

With Christmas coming up, and everyone from Halifax to Victoria feeling the chill of Old Man Winter, what better way to break the ice than with a bottle of Caribbean Mango Pepper Sauce from your favourite globe-trotter.

Visit www.sweatinghiccups.com to place your order.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

i am a victim of discrimination -- and i want some money

During my time at the Yellowknifer, I wrote enough stories about the Human Rights Commission -- adjudication hearings, rulings, the complaints process, etc. -- to get a decent enough handle on what counts as discrimination, these days.

Now I've already described one experience I've had in Montreal that made me want to call up my local Human Rights Commission to see what kind of case I had, when I was aghast while searching for an apartment to see landlords and leaseholders were looking for all sorts of specific people to rent out a room to. Requests ranged from students to vegans to people who do dishes and people able to pay the rent.

What nerve!

Ultimately, I decided against the complaint, as I found an indiscriminate place, with roommates willing to overlook all those outrageous characteristics. (And I've still provided rent, which proves how good a guy I am and how sick it is that anyone could ever discriminate against me.)

But recent events have led me to once again consider filing a human rights complaint against certain people, whom I seem to encounter every day and whom I believe act discriminately toward me on each occasion.

It happens without exception outside the Berri-UQAM metro station in Centre-Ville, whether it's early in the morning before the sun is up, or late in the day, when the metro is minutes from closing up shop.

Whenever I walk into the entrance lobby on St. Catherine and Rue Berri, one of the many drug pushers walks up to me and asks me if I need anything.

Seems harmless, you're thinking? How is that discrimination? Well, I'll tell you. The riff-raff never asks the person in front of me. They will walk right past the old lady with a cane or small child with a backpack like they aren't even there and they'll ask me if I'm good. I am obviously appalled. If I had a monocle, I'd take it out of my eye in disgust and ash my cigarette (being held, of course, in one of those foot-long holders) and say "My word."

When I get inside the lobby, just to be sure I've been singled out, I'll look back outside, and sure enough they'll leave a blind person with a seeing-eye dog be.

It's fucking discrimination, man!

I'm being profiled. It's terrible. It's affecting my livelihood and my reputation.

Because of this persistent prejudice, I look around self-consciously as I approach the station every day and am traumatized by what people must think of me when they see these dudes speak with me. I lay in anguish every night, picturing my next interaction with these dealers, who line up outside the metro station like a red-rover line that I have to smash through to get home, and fear that those around must be labeling me a drug fiend when I share two words with these sordid folk. I have no chance at a political career anymore. Pretty girls just shake their heads in disgust when they walk by. Parents grab their kids by their hands and pull them closer and tell them not to wind up like that guy, looking at me with shame.

I take this shame home with me.

Why do they come to me? Is it my unshaven face? Is it my shoes in disrepair? Is it the broken zippers or rip in the jeans?

In any case, I'm feeling a diminished sense of self-esteem and self-worth, as I am being judged to be in need of what these guys are selling. I don't see them asking the successful suits or the well-to-do students, who also pour into the building en masse, all the time. It's just me, it seems.

My quality of life is being adversely affected.

And you know what? I want some loss of dignity money, dang-nabbit! I think I deserve it.

I think next time one of these dudes asks me if I need something, I'll say "Yes, I do. I need to file a human rights complaint against you and collect some of that government scrilla."

Because we all know if there is anything that restores dignity, it's a stuffed wallet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

justin townes earle -- south georgia sugar babe

Found a video of a song from Justin Townes Earle's opening set at the Dan Auerbach show I was lucky enough to see in November.

Thought I'd pass it along for the heck of it.

Dude does look like a cross between Ed Helms (Andy from the Office) and Steve-O, doesn't he?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

fleet foxes -- tiger mountain peasant song

Perfect song. Absolutely.

I truly believe the Fleet Foxes are the Beach Boys turned away from the beach and made to live secluded in the woods.

I went out skating tonight beneath massive fireworks and amongst even more massive humanity and even though it was nowhere near cold outside, listening to this makes me warmer. So there you have it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"No Olympics on Stolen Native Land!"

I just returned from the Olympic Torch Relay event down at the Old Port, here in snowy Montreal.

A stage was set up in Place Jacques-Cartier to celebrate the torch's arrival and while Olympic and Coca-Cola and RBC organizers rushed to get everything in place, about 200 hundred-or-so protesters crammed into the area in front of the stage with tubas and trumpets and drums and tambourines and made it known that they did not support the games and the money being spent on them and the land being appropriated for highways and games infrastructure and the scary amount of privacy being lost in Vancouver under games legislation that allows peoples' homes to be searched for anti-Olympic and anti-Olympic sponsor material.

They were there to Shame the Flame.

Me? I didn't know.

Let me begin by saying long ago, I was a demented little national sports freak and I literally leapt for joy when the Olympics rolled around. I would never cheer harder than for any athlete who wore the red and white and represented our country. I'd wake up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings -- and even weekdays!!! -- and sit in front of the television slurping sugary cereal and watch our rowers compete in Barcelona, or biathletes in Lillehammer, and whenever one of our athletes won a medal, I would rejoice and watch the replays of their races or events and their medal ceremonies over and over, and then run over to my sports page, which held the medal counts and update them with my pen as they were updated on the TV. I thought Silken Laumann and her gigantic gums and teeth were the greatest, and Myrian Bedard and Sylvie Frechette deserved to be pictured on our money and Michael Smith was the world's greatest athlete and I had a major crush on Joanne Malar.

There are only a few 'I remember exactly where I was when that happened' moments in my life so far, but when Donovan Bailey stormed back after a terrible start and won gold and broke the 100m world record in Atlanta, after a race that was mired with false starts and bizarre drama -- so much that I felt like I was going to vomit -- I remember jumping up and down on my couch and screaming at the top of my lungs on that sunny July day and nearly scaring the shit out of my sister, who was down the apartment hall outside and ran to our door to see what happened.

In so many words, I was an Olympic junkie.

But something turned along the way. It may be that I'm getting old and I see the economics that come into play with events of this size and perhaps realize in what areas OUR money could be better spent to serve us. Or it could be that I don't believe in the 'Olympic spirit' anymore, where it's all become about picking up sponsorship dollars and less emphasis is put on sport. It may be that I'm cynical that everyone is doping, while less and less are getting caught, as the designer drugs stay ahead of the designer detectors. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm not even sure the world's best athletes are competing, since to be able to make the games, you have to live a fairly privileged life and come from a privileged background (ski passes aren't cheap). So so many can't afford to train all their lives. And the winter games are even worse, because pretty much each event requires buying equipment and having access to expensive facilities, something which many unfortunately don't have. Who knows, the world's best speedskater may be living in Paraguay?

So while I will cheer like mad during the hockey tournament, and probably throughout the rest of the games because I am a gigantic sports fan, the Olympics clearly has lost its innocence, at least to me.

But am I against the Olympic Games and was I ready to protest a torch relay?

The people protesting made some great points about how the money being spent putting on the Olympics would be better spent on social institutions or on building houses. The protesters rallied against the police taking homeless from downtown Vancouver and trying to quick-fix clean-up the downtown East Side. They also said the security budget for the games was approaching $1 billion, and would leave a legacy of Closed-Circuit TV cameras to keep an eye on the city's residents.

And they played the tuba and yelled catchy chants and beat drums and it was all very funky and I would start to shuffle my feet and nod my head and it kind of felt like a party. And when the music stopped, everyone put their black noisemaker thingees in the air and it sounded like a bunch of geese honking at the same frequency. I moved closer and closer and wanted to join in. I was moving in. I was starting to see the Olympics for all it is...

But then the protesters started in on their sexy issue and I backed off.

"No Olympics on Stolen Native Land!"

Obviously, I'm against this as well. Highways and infrastructure are going up on land that Canada hasn't settled with First Nations in B.C. and that's definitely wrong. But call me crazy, I really felt there was something very hypocritical going on at that rally tonight, with a bunch of white people chanting their displeasure about the Olympics happening on "stolen native land". I mean, when you look at it, wasn't the protest happening on stolen native land? Who were these people to complain about something happening on stolen native land? Isn't the school they study at built on stolen native land, along with their houses and the houses of their parents and grandparents, if you really look at it?

And where were all these people championing this cause before the Olympics were given to Vancouver? I suppose it's great that this issue is getting publicity now, but to me, this protest seemed like something people were doing because it was popular. I wondered how many would still speak up about this after the games were over.

So I backed off. A lady came by and handed me a pamphlet and when I pointed out the contradiction, she brought up the unsettled land argument and said it was literally getting stolen. I couldn't help but think about the land claims North of 60 and seeing how, often times, the government does not hold up their end of the agreement, which sort of makes me wonder what settling the claim even really means.

The chanting kept on and kept on and some girls gave me a sticker with a smile and the police moved in to try to move the protesters who held their ground and kept chanting "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land" and eventually I just couldn't get over the hypocrisy and so I left, and walking away, past the Coca-Cola and RBC tents, I saw a bunch of kids with their parents, bundled up, hoping to see the Olympic torch, which still represented pride and hard-work and excellence, not the greed, corruption and consumerism it does for us. And the kids could barely see over the hoopla down in front of the stage.

Not that it really bothered me, either. But at the end of the day, I found I wanted to protest the games, but not because it was something sexy to do.

So I walked away from it all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

moment of clarity with adam carolla

it should come as snow surprise

Now I don't want to piss off any Northerners who read this, but I just lived through my first snowless November and to tell you the truth, I was turning a little batty. While the days flew by in a barely-distinguishable flurry and the darkness came earlier and earlier, not one flake of snow touched the ground and I was starting to wonder if what I was experiencing was real. How can it be 16 degrees in the last week of November? It's not possible.

Well, winter has arrived at last and while the first major snowfall usually leaves me depressed or rueful, this year, to be honest, I'm relieved. It was as if there was an itchiness inside my chest cavity that could only be scratched with an ice-scraper. From my kitchen window with a cup of coffee, I'm watching clusters of inanimate flakes scatter around in the lulling wind like pollen and I'm sighing. It's been snowing for hours now and there is a good foot of the sticky stuff sitting upon just about everything: the steps and railings of the fire escapes that wind up each of the brick buildings in my neighbourhood, the clock on the Molson Brewery building that's barely visible in the distance and the cars dormant in the parking lot in the alley behind my apartment.

I just took a walk and realized what effect snow like this has on a city.

I don't know if it's due to all the flakes taking up space in the air and if perhaps they muffle soundwaves by their existing, but the city is much quieter. I don't know if it's the fog and decreased visibility a heavy snowfall like this produces but it appeared three-quarters of the population had disappeared.

The city is just so much cleaner. Gone was the garbage and the puke puddles and the yelling and the honking horns.

The people who asked me for money yesterday had shovels in their hands.

I walked into a restaurant and in my happy cloud, ordered a cheeseburger and donair and one of those kids'-only, over-sugared grape drinks, and when I sat down to eat, I actually smiled and enjoyed the Anne Murray Christmas song that was playing on the radio. (Unforgivable, I know.)

The African cabbies that line up along St. Hubert were taking the snowfall seriously, dressing up in hyperbole, with parkas, mitts, scarves, large fur hats, and wiping the accumulating snow off their cabs each time they idled after struggling and slipping into the next spot in line following the first in line taking a fare. They'll figure out eventually that whenever it snows, it usually means it's warmer out.

When I got back, I threw my soaked socks in the laundry. My roommate came home. He isn't used to any of this, and he asked me what you are supposed to do with your shoes and socks and pants after coming inside on a day like this. Roll 'em up, I said. My friend from Australia has been excited for -- and shit-scared of -- this day for the past two months and it was one of the reasons she came to Montreal. I've been building it up, while also saying it's nothing major, for just as long, like I'm some sort of expert.

Coming from the North, I never thought the sight of snow would ever make me feel anything but disappointment. I never once thought I'd ever take snow for granted. Yet there I was, just last week, wondering when the hell I could strap on some skates and play some pond hockey or do some ice-fishing with my boss. I felt uneasy with Christmas fast approaching and no snowmen or toboggans around.

I may regret saying this in a month's time, but I have to admit, Snow, I'm happy to see ya.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

when did this happen to us?

I, not unlike many, have been fascinated by the mayhem and the ceaseless barrage of stories surrounding the sordid life of one Tiger Woods over the past week and a half. But the whole thing also makes me feel sick and sort of like I'm a perverted voyeur.

I've followed the thing with my hands over my eyes, peaking through a crack in my fingers. From the bizarre initial story, where he smashed into a fire hydrant and tree in his gated community going no faster than 20 mph, whereupon his wife, acting heroically we were told, smashed the rear window of his SUV to save him, to the new revelations of his "transgressions", I've watched with a giggle.

We all know about all this because we've all been watching. Turns out Tiger has quite a voracious appetite for the flesh (I never thought he liked playing Skins that much, really) with more than four ladies going public with stories of romance with the world's greatest golfer (including one chick who said Tiger brought her back to his place in Florida one night after a tournament, where the two had 'unprotected' sex. Do we really need to know that Tiger went Raw Daddy? Here I always thought he put a head-cover on his driver.).

Also, it appears his wife, in fact, was not smashing his window in a bid to save Tiger, but most likely she was chasing him or at least smashed up the ride in anger. Now there are suspicions Tiger was drunk when he was driving (I KNEW IT!).

The whole story has not only blemished his reputation (although I thought he was kind of douchey in the first place) and has spurred thousands of jokes, but has once again made me sad at what now constitutes sports news.

(Before I continue, I have to write that when I spoke to my dad on the phone last night, he recited a good half dozen jokes off the top of his head:

"What's the difference between a car and a golf ball?
Tiger Woods can drive a golf ball 300 yards."

"Why did Tiger hit a fire hydrant AND a tree?
Because he didn't know whether to choose a wood or an iron."

Ahhh... Good stuff.)

While I won't say I haven't enjoyed watching this story play out (because I have), I do believe we are falling further and further into a sick kind of depravity in our mainstream sports fandom.

Let me elaborate.

It's hard to argue when the life of the world's most successful, popular and richest athlete crumbles in front of our eyes, it doesn't constitute a sports story. But at what point does it stop becoming a sports story? Today, his mother in law was taken to the hospital. Why is that leading ESPN.com? I suppose we are all still in shock, since Tiger had concealed his personal life and his personality better than anyone since MJ. All we know about him is his chilly and nearly assholish competitiveness on the links, he has a temper with photographers and fans, and he had a super-devoted father, who shoved a golf club in his son's hands before his first steps.

But the non-stop, CNN-Situation-Room-Style coverage given this story, along with the daily stream of headlines about other athlete screw-ups makes me take pause. The other major story in the sports sphere on the day Woods sliced his SUV into the trees was Ron Artest's admission that he used to drink alcohol before NBA games (and during halftime, even). Again, this is a story, but it was front page news on sports websites.

At some point in my life, the game being played on the field, court or ice surface began to play second fiddle to what athletes were doing when they weren't competing. I honestly can say I barely remember opening up the Edmonton Journal Sports page when I was a kid and reading a story about an athlete getting a speeding ticket or a DUI. I only remember events like Mike Tyson going to prison for rape and Michael Irvin getting busted with hookers and blow in a hotel room. That's pretty much it.

Nowadays, the sports page is filled with the personal and off-the-field activities of athletes. And the internet is worse. Seriously, go have a look at any mainstream sports website and I guarantee there are at least two or three stories about DUIs, a controversial quote or some kind of pending charge against an athlete.

In the past week or so, I've seen stories about Adrian Peterson -- and later that week, a teammate of his -- getting nabbed for a speeding ticket. David Stern tells a reporter that he believes women will play in the NBA in 10 years, and LeBron James is asked the question, where he respectfully disagrees. ESPN.com puts that on their front page in the headlines box, a tiny little article trolling for backlash and baiting readers to blow the issue up. Andy Murray's girlfriend tells the media she can't deal with her husband's 7-hour-a-day computer RPG habit. And at least once a day, someone in the sports world says something dumb, or sexist, or racist, or controversial, and then the next day, there is a story about how incredulous an affected group is, and the next day there is an apology. What does this have to do with sport? We don't elect these people to play professionally. Sure, they sort of represent us to a degree, because we may cheer for them or because we idolize them and because we pay tickets to see them, but do they really deserve that kind of scrutiny and should their personal mistakes really be made that public? Many players are far from academics and scores come from difficult backgrounds, and are under pressure every night in front of millions of people. They are bound to make mistakes.

It's a beef I have with sports media now. While I'm sure all these quotes are entertaining and these extracurricular blunders are definitely not to be forgiven, I do wish more sports writing focused on the games and the dynamic in the locker room. I mean, that's what a sportswriter should give the reader, because they have access to that place and we don't. Anyone can write up a story about an athlete blowing over 0.08. It's lazy. I have found a few places I'll stop by now to read up on my favorite teams, but it seems you really have to search now and nothing you find on television or any of the mainstream sports websites is of any interest to the actual sports fan.

I want to read about interactions between teammates on my teams, or the dynamics in the dressing room of a winning team or losing team, and what makes a leader. I want to know what makes the special players special, and the characteristics that make some transcendent.

Everything that's written now is about building up an athlete or destroying them. Often, it has little to do with how they perform during gametime.

And if it's not personal crises, it's player transactions and rumours about players coming and going which generate more ink than what the players do on the court. Now this may have to do with the rise of fantasy sports, and everyone considering themselves a GM, but again, it overshadows what happens on the court.

For instance, while LeBron James, a player who has all the skill and physical gifts to be the greatest basketball player of all time, is reaching his prime, all the media has talked about for the past three years is where he'll end up when his contract expires in 2010. Whether it will be New York or Miami or Chicago or L.A. Will he eschew Cleveland to play in a bigger market? He is asked the question in every city he visits, every comment -- often taken out of context -- on his future results in a front page headline on ESPN.com, and it has led to thousands of columns and frothy talk radio discussions. But lost in all of this talk is James' present-day play, where he's doing things only paralleled by a few players in history. It's like nothing from the present is allowed to be spoken about, which means anything happening in the present is lost as all that matters is establishing the player's legacy or trying to figure out who the next LeBron James will be.

Once in PoliSci class in University, during a discussion about sports, some dude in the back of the room called them a distraction, saying they kept people focused on things that ultimately didn't matter and away from what was really important and happening in the world.

That made me very angry, as a lifelong sports fan. I find inspiration in performances like Steve Yzerman's 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he led the Wings to a Cup on one leg. I love how sports can bring people together like nothing else, whether it's a playoff run or World Cup victory. I see how lessons taken from team sports about sacrifice, playing a role, selflessness, hard-work, dedication and co-operation are transferrable to life. And fuck it, I love watching Dywane Wade soar into the air and throw a dunk down on a helpless opponent, or Jonathan Toews making two defensemen look foolish before tucking the puck behind the goalie, and watching the most athletic, co-ordinated and talented beings on this planet do things that were previous unimaginable.

But with the way these off-the-court activities are starting to take precedent and the way I've been distracted by Tiger Woods' self-destruction, the more I'm beginning to believe that dude in my PoliSci class was right.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

tiger woods goes r. kelly

Props to Bill Simmons for throwing this link up on his Twitter account.

I want to chime in on all the hoopla, but to be honest, I never really liked Tiger. So I'm kind of basking in this. I'll have something later.

Until then, enjoy.

pastime building steam

So as I've written more than once in the past, one of the things I really enjoy is picking up little bits in songs on the radio or wherever that some of my favourite artists have used as samples.

Today I learned there is an entire website devoted to this:

And now I'll officially kiss this day goodbye (no work today, in case you were wondering.)

And again, I want to reiterate that sampling is not stealing. If you don't agree, please have a look at the Nas - Illmatic section:

The DJ Shadow section:

The DJ Premier section:

The J Dilla/Slum Village section:

The Madvillain section:


They created something completely new from these long forgotten songs. And now hearing those old songs, I want to pick them up and give them a listen.

Shit, I was only going to put one or two, but got lost on here. I need to get up. Ouch, my back is sore. I've been doing this for like two hours.

Empire State of Mind -- Jay-Z (sorry folks, but Alicia Keys really isn't playing that piano!)

What happened to the day?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

riddle me this

Why isn't there an iPhone application that can tell you if your lunch meat has gone bad?

(Note: I don't have an iPhone... but maybe I would if it had the lunch meat application.)

Fer fuck sakes. Guess I'm just going to have to let my stomach decide this one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

asleep at the wheel

Coach put me back in the line-up. After being a healthy scratch for 29 dang days -- and nearly asking for my release in order to test free agency -- I'm back at work and back on the road. Left early for Ottawa Monday and earlier for Quebec City today, to toil on rooftops in the snow (FINALLY) and wind and quick-to-arrive darkness.

The days are long, but made longer by the daily commutes. Two hours each way to Ottawa, three each way to Quebec City. So I'm up at 5, on the train at 5:30 (with about a thousand other sad six a.m. sacks) and in my co-worker's van by 6 to get into Quebec by 9ish. I try not to sleep in the passenger seat, so the driver next to me doesn't do the same. And we've been cool so far.

(Note: Kids, you may not want to read ahead. But I think Santa may have a tough time getting around this winter, since I saw two of his reindeer laying on the side of the road. Lots of death this morning.

KIDS! I told you not to read ahead.

Ummm... well nothing to worry about, you'll get your toys. Santa's gonna be okay. So will his reindeer. I'm sure they were just taking naps... in puddles of strawberry jam.)

Before leaving Quebec City tonight, I told my Columbian co-worker I could drive because I felt shitty that he always had to do it and he obliged.

Bad idea. I've never fought as hard to stay awake in my (lucky-to-still-own) life.

Now I've driven 20 hours straight to Calgary from Yellowknife before, I did 11 hours overnight from the Quebec/Maine border to just about Halifax a couple months ago, and a handful of late night, ill advised drives through B.C., but honestly, I've never conked out before. Before tonight.

I was listening to the radio -- a story about a guy nearly getting crush by a car that drove through his drycleaner shop on As It Happens -- and I was watching the two red lights on the back of the semi in front of me, in the darkness, and watched as they began to run from beside to between a solid white line. Turns out that was the shoulder.

I just went. I didn't slowly fall asleep or anything, but I just slipped, my eyes crossed a little, my face probably looked like an infant pushing stool, and I snapped to it when the passenger-side wheels ran over the serrated strip on the side of the highway. If not for that, I'm sure I'd be in a ditch right now, spooning Bambi, in my own puddle of berry marmalade.

I totally understand how people fall asleep at the wheel now. I've slept 5 real hours in the past three days and I didn't want to touch a coffee tonight before the drive -- even though I needed one -- because I knew it would affect me when I got home. I watched myself let attention drift from the road to the radio or the road lines or lights and then SHIT!!! snap back and jerk the wheel. I fought it hard, mon! At least a dozen times. And the whole time, my co-worker slept next to me. Maybe he was dreaming pleasant things, keeping our karmic balance intact and battling my attention deficit and disorder to coax the ride back into its lane.