Monday, July 24, 2006

Bashed Out

Well folks, the Great American Posting Bash will have to come to a premature end. It just dawned on me that since I'll be away from Wednesday to Saturday in the USA, I won't have computer access, thus ending my month-long posting streak.

You'd think this would have occurred to me when I first started, but then again, the whole Bash thing was something that made sense early in the morning when I was suffering from insomnia, so I couldn't logically be expected to follow through. It's like expecting a recently unfrozen caveman to understand corporate law, like Phil Hartman -- what do you think, he'll just immediately grasp the complexities of our legal system? Hell no!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cabbie on the Street

Cab drivers have a pretty good racket going. I took a taxi home from the ballpark last night because I wanted to get home quick and go out to meet the gang at my corner pub. As we’re driving, the cabbie gets a call on his cell phone and starts chatting away to his buddy. Naturally, since one cannot really drive and talk at the same time, he slows down. I’m forced to sit there in increasingly annoyed silence since, dude, WTF?

He is capitalizing on the natural politeness of people to not interrupt someone on the phone. Pavlov would have a field day with the way phones have conditioned us in many different ways. When you pick up a phone, you instinctively say hello, or, if you’re Mr. Burns, ahoy hoy. When you hear a phone ringing, you actively have to force yourself to not pick it up.

Cabbies already prey on the natural inclination of people to not know where they’re going. I was once in a TO cab that took an overly circuitous route to the Eaton Centre, when even I (who was a bumpkin tourist at this point in my life) knew a shorter way. In matters like that, however, I have no problem in openly giving him directions and being a back-seat driver. If you’re going to try to rip me off, I see no reason to be civil, jerk store.

I’m glad I didn’t tip much of anything. The way I see it, the extra money I spent for the extra few minutes his gabbiness cost me can pay his damn phone bill.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

GAPB #12: Crime and Punishment

I love it when a plan comes together.

I also love it when I finally come up with a suitably cool ending for a cool premise I thought up for a crime novel. I can now officially start writing the thing, and hopefully it turns out well. Hell, I just hope it turns out, as opposed to the several unfinished and – in hindsight -- pretty lame material I’ve tried to write in the past. My inability to write hard-boiled material is likely due to the fact that I’m about as hard-boiled as a…uh…a really soft egg?

This is what I’m talking about. Raymond Chandler could spin analogies so witty that it would make you want to take off your pants. Agatha Christie was an elderly British mame, and yet she was the greatest mystery writer of all time. Then again, she was also anti-Semitic, so she wasn’t all peaches and Poirot stories.

But now I have my ending. Perhaps this is the first step towards my becoming the next great crime/mystery novelist. I can take my place along such modern masters of the genre as Lawrence Block, Joan Hess or Gregory McDonald. Or, failing that, I’ll simply have to write true-crime stories. Given my laziness for research, however, I’ll end up just committing crimes and then writing my memoirs from prison. My memoirs will likely start after a lengthy forward about how to live with being someone’s shower bitch, since, as I said earlier, I’m as hard-boiled as a really soft egg. I would be eaten alive in prison.

Speaking of being eaten alive, the previews for Miami Vice bite. I love Michael Mann and all, but the brilliance of the old TV show was in its innate cheesiness. It would be like if the makes of the Brady Bunch movies (two of the more underrated subversive comedies of our time, btw) had decided to play them straight. That would’ve both blown and sucked at the same time.

A ‘real’ Miami Vice movie would feature…I dunno… let’s go with Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama as Crockett and Tubbs, spouting cheesy one-liners. That’s a movie that I would’ve gladly missed since I know it would’ve been bad. But with the real Miami Vice, I’ll probably end up seeing it out of respect for Mann, and I’ll likely end up disappointed.

Also, speaking of cheesy TV, I caught the opening credits of 90210 on TVTropolis the other day, and was shocked to learn that Sex And The City’s Darren Star was also the creator of 90210. A quick check of IMDB reveals that Star also created Melrose Place to boot.

I nominate Darren Star for first-ballot induction into the men’s wing of the Woman Hall of Fame. Sure, it’s not like he’s come up with any good shows, but think of how much water-cooler conversation and enjoyment he’s created for the ladies over the years. Darren Star, I salute you.

Back-handed compliments aside, I’m sure Darren Star could come up with a great ending for a crime novel, so I shouldn’t talk.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Great American Posting Bash #11: Beyond B.O.

Well, I’ve got a lot of work to do at the park today, and I’m a wee bit strapped for topics. So, I’ll talk about my deodorant.

I recently made the switch to Right Guard anti-perspirant after two years using various brands of Old Spice. The reason? The Spice was causing a rash under my arms, much like how Spice Girl Geri Halliwell probably caused many a rash in more sensitive areas during her glory days in the late 90’s.

The Right Guard was recommended to me by my old pal Dave, and also in a pop culture sense by Hulk Hogan in his “anything less would be uncivilized” ad campaign for the company back in the early 90’s. Dave made sure to specify the difference between a deodorant and an anti-perspirant – whereas my Old Spice covered up the stench of my body odour, the Right Guard would merely keep me from sweating. After sweating so much in the sauna that is Toronto over the last week, I will gladly put up with a little bit of B.O. After all, I can avoid B.O. by simply not moving around much, and given my Dude Lebowski-esque status as one of the laziest men worldwide, that shouldn’t be too hard.

So, I bid you a fond adieu, Old Spice. You served me well, but it was simply time for a change. No hard feelings – I hope that someday we can go out for lunch, and we can catch up without any lingering resentment. I’ll even pick up the tab. Deodorants rarely eat much, anyway. In a related note, if you had rubbed Gandhi under your arms back in the day, he would’ve rid you of the stink of British imperialism.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Who Are The Ad Wizards Who Came Up With This One?

I have to hand it to the marketing people at 7Up. I was on the Toronto subway yesterday, sweating through another brutally humid afternoon. I get onto the transfer car at Bloor-Yonge, and every single ad on the train (probably 15-20 in total) was for 7Up. The taglines all read things like “It’s getting cooler already,” accompanied by a shot of a crystal-clear 7Up in a tall glass of ice.

Unlike Homer and the clown college billboard, there was no delayed reaction for me: I was instantly hooked. By the time the train got to Union Station, I would’ve gladly killed for a sip of a 7Up. It was the first thing I looked for at the station variety store. The punch line? I don’t even really like 7Up.

This is the power of captive advertising. It plays on your basest instincts while stuck in one place – in this case a crowded, sweaty subway car filled with people with varying degrees of body odour. Just imagine how dangerous such ads would be if put in the wrong hands. If it was a subway car full of, say, NRA ads, you could have a massacre on your hands. God bless Canada’s stringent gun laws! That gun registry was a great idea after all!.......(crickets chirping)

Monday, July 17, 2006

GAPB #7: Jersey Devils

Just a few weeks away from the Chicago/Milwaukee baseball road trip, and I’m excited. Since I picked up a Roberto Clemente Pirates jersey in Pittsburgh last year, I’m considering starting a collection of baseball jerseys from each city I visit, with each jersey displaying a name of one of the club’s all-time greats. So, on this trip, I might see if I can find a Paul Molitor Brewers jersey, or a Fergie Jenkins Cubs jersey, or a White Sox Shoeless Joe Jackson jersey. Unless the Sox don’t have Shoeless Joe jerseys available due to the Black Sox scandal, which would be understandable but still kind of crappy at the same time. Then again, I don’t think the Sox even had uniform numbers or names on the jerseys back in 1919, so it could be a moot point.

What I should do is ask for a throwback jersey for one of the club’s obscure Hall of Famers. For example, former White Sox starter Ted Lyons was one of the best pitchers of the 30’s and 40’s, but nobody’s ever heard of him today. I should just go into a U.S. Cellular Field memorabilia store and raise hell over the lack of Lyons jerseys. What would the clerks say? I’d have an airtight point. It would be shameful if a team’s own store didn’t have the jersey of one of its greatest players. Then again, Comerica Park doesn’t even sell home Tigers jerseys, which dumbfounded me.

Of course, if I actually got a Ted Lyons jersey and wore it around, I would run the risk of people thinking I was wearing a Steve “Psycho” Lyons jersey. And frankly, I’d rather wear a Zidane jersey through Little Italy than be considered a Psycho Lyons fan.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

GAPB #6: Heat Heat Hot

It is filthy hot in Toronto. It’s an oven. I read somewhere that London is actually the most humid city in Canada due to its location right at the nexus of where the pollution from Detroit, Cleveland and TO can blow in, not to mention all of our own junk that we blast into the air. At least in London I have the air conditioning, whereas here I get to go back to my room that I’ve come to know as ‘the Tomb’ in these last couple of days. Trying to sleep in a tiny room in the back of the third floor of a non-air conditioned house is bruuuuuuuuuuutallllllll, my friends.

My one little desk fan just isn’t enough. I sleep with it on all night, and since the cord isn’t very long, I now sleep curled at the foot of my bed like a cat so I can be at the closest possible point to the cool air. It’s frickin’ ridiculous – I have been reduced to a literal animal state due to this heat.

Just to top things off, the Rogers Centre roof has been open for the past three games, since while it is humid as hell, we’ve had bright and sunny days that have been ostensibly perfect for outdoor baseball. And during these two afternoon outings, the Blue Jays have played TWENTY-FIVE INNINGS against Seattle. That’s right, TWO extra innings games – 14 on Saturday, 11 on Sunday.

Is there a bright side? Well, I’ll get to make another trip to Honest Ed’s, since I’m seriously considering buying a second fan. I had never ventured into Ed’s before, in spite of all my years visiting TO, though my parents took me to his restaurant as a kid. The store is…well, it’s a junk store that sells stuff for low prices. No sense in dressing it up, I guess. I got a bathmat to replace that one that was ruined by our toilet’s feces-infested overflow two weeks ago, and the price was very reasonable.

Another bright side to the heat is that by the end of this homestand, I’ll probably have lost a bunch of weight…water weight, that is. I’ve been sweating like Nathan Lane eating a corndog. By the time you see me next, I’ll be as shriveled as the guy from Thinner.

BTW, the ‘brutal’ reference is a shoutout to a heckler that attended the July 2 Jays/Phillies games. This heckler had the exact same taunt for each Philadelphia player every…single….time… a Phillie came to bat. It was “Hey, Howard! You’re brutal, Howard! You’rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre BRUTAL!” Occasionally he stretched out the ‘bruuuuutalllllll’ part for variety, but it was nonetheless a monument to human stubbornness. And Philadelphia won that game 11-6, too, so it’s not like they were actually playing in a manner that deserved a constant bashing.

BTW, I can’t believe I just dropped a ‘Thinner’ reference in the year 2006. What a beauty!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Until I Find A Better Book

John Irving’s “Until I Find You” is one of those books that I basically enjoyed, but by the end was plowing through just trying to finish. Clocking in at 820 pages, I think it could’ve easily been cut by about 100.

What I kind of like about Irving is that though so many of his novels are adapted into films, he doesn’t write “cinematic” books. Someone like Dan Brown, for example, writes books so specifically written to be turned into movies that he is essentially writing screenplays (albeit poorly-written screenplays, in Brown’s case). Not Irving. The 820-page length is daunting enough, but then he throws in all sorts of weird sexual stuff and multiple scenes of sexual abuse of a child. It’s like Irving is throwing down a gauntlet and daring some director to turn the book into a watered-down popcorn flick, like they did in turning A Prayer for Owen Meany into ‘Simon Birch.’

The book hit many of Irving’s usual themes. Wrestling? Check. Locales in Amsterdam’s red light district, Toronto and Germany? Life at a small New England college? Check. Loads of weird sexual stuff? Triple checks in this one --- I generally like John Irving, but man, the dude’s got some issues.

Come to think of it, do I actually like John Irving? Owen Meany was a classic, A Widow for One Year was very good, and his short story collection was good. Other than those, I’m not sure any of this other books rank above ‘basically enjoyed’ with me. This is weird, since I’ll still go out of my way to read his work.

Here’s the Irving countdown…

1. Owen Meany
2. Widow for One Year (though even this really lets up after the first third)
3. Trying to Save Piggy Snead
4. The World According to Garp
5. The Fourth Hand
6. Until I Find You
7. Hotel New Hampshire (I swear, I don’t remember a thing about this book aside from the fact that it was about some wacky family that operated the hotel, and two of the kids ended up having sex. I’m not sure what was more terrifying; the incest of the fact that in the movie version, the kids are played by Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe)
8. The Cider House Rules (this book was boring as hell. I wish Irving had aborted it in its second trimester)
9. The 158-Pound Marriage (Irving’s third novel, and it just isn’t good. Irving himself admits he didn’t really become a good novelist until Garp, which is basically a fictional account of his early writing career....hopefully without the freaky sexual stuff.)

So it’s not a great batting average in terms of “books I’ll enjoy forever,” but Irving can still bring it. I like that I never know where there the hell he’s going with his stories, which is refreshing. He’s one of the few truly creative novelists out there who are ‘creative’ without being pretentiously horrible. Margaret Atwood, I’m looking in your direction – you still owe me the hours of my life I spent reading The Edible Woman in OAC English.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I'm back in TO for another couple of weeks, and hopefully my time at the house is slightly more pleasant than my last time. I returned home from the ballpark two weeks ago to find the toilet’s flushing mechanism broken, and thus when I tried to flush my urine, up came the urine and (with apologies to Morgan Freeman) about 500 yards of shit-smellin’ foulness I couldn’t have even imagined. So, my roommate Anwar and I mopped the floor, destroyed our degraded-forever bathmats and generally had a hilarious night of roommate bonding. There are few things more terrifying in the life of a human being than watching the water level of a toilet slowly rise up. Fortunately, everything is fine now, but I went out and bought a new bathmat from Honest Ed's so my bare feet never have to touch that floor. That hideous, hideous floor.


A couple of posts ago, I talked about the single-character posters for Pirates, and was struggling for a suitably random analogy. Two days later, I've hit upon it: it would be like if they made a sequel of The Mask, and had big posters of Richard Jeni saying “Richard Jeni: Stanley’s Annoying Buddy.” Then again, as a lover of postmodern irony, I think I would totally buy a giant Richard Jeni poster. How random would that be? It could be part of a series called “Mediocre Stand-Up Comics of the 80’s,” with the likes of Paul Rodriguez and Rita Rudner. Actually, I’m not sure if I should knock Rita Rudner, since my parents saw her in Vegas and said I would’ve loved her act. Then again, my parents also thought I would’ve loved playing soccer when I was seven, and that turned into a horrifying debacle.

By the way, I’m aware they made that Mask sequel with Jamie Kennedy, but I’ve chosen to pretend that movie never existed.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

GAPB #3: Enter the Foot

During the whole previous post about Zidane, I wished I could've just called soccer 'football,' like the rest of the world. It's really quite unusual that two separate and entirely different sports share the same name like football/soccer, and it is really the truest sign that soccer just doesn't resonate with most of North America. The U.S. (and Canada, if you're one of the four people who cares about the CFL) has its own 'football,' thank you very much.

Were I king of the world, I would demand that the NFL change the name of its sport. Some suggestions...

* Helmetball. After all, they wear helmets! (crickets chirping)
* Hutball. After all, the quarterback yells 'hut' to put the play in motion.
* Touchdown. Who says the word 'ball' needs to be involved at all?
* Irrational Lifelong Fame For High School Accomplishments In Texan Small Towns Ball. This is pretty self-explanatory.
* Tackleball. This is my favorite, since it describes the key element of the sport. If this post had an ounce of seriousness behind it, this would be my actual suggestion if football were to change its name.
* Bradyball, named in honor of America's Greatest Hero, Pats quarterback Tom Brady. Wait, sorry, I think Bill Simmons hijacked my blog there for a moment.
* Rudyball, named in honor of America's Greatest Overblown Hero, Rudy Reuttiger. That movie did kick ass, though.

Paul Tagliabue, if you're reading, make this the final act of your commissionership. Either that or enact a rule that Green Bay gets the #1 pick in the NFL Draft each year because they won the first two Super Bowls. Woo!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Alternate Reality Emmys

Here's a list of people that probably deserved Emmy nominations this year. Frankly, it's just as strong (if not a stronger) list of those who actually did get nominated.

Best Comedy
Everybody Hates Chris
My Name Is Earl

Actor, Comedy
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Zach Braff, Scrubs
Ricky Gervais, Extras
Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl
Tyler James Williams, Everybody Hates Chris

Actress, Comedy
Tichina Arnold, Everybody Hates Chris
Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

Supporting Actor, Comedy
Michael Cera, Arrested Development
Tony Hale, Arrested Development
John Krasinski, The Office
Ethan Suplee, My Name Is Earl
Rainn Wilson, The Office

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Sarah Chalke, Scrubs
Portia de Rossi, Arrested Development
Jenna Fischer, The Office
Kaitlin Olsen, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Jessice Walter, Arrested Development

Best Drama
Boston Legal
Desperate Housewives
The Shield
Veronica Mars

Actor, Drama
Hank Azaria, Huff
Michael Chiklis, The Shield
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Hugh Laurie, House
James Spader, Boston Legal

Actress, Drama
Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars
Paget Brewster, Huff
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy

Supporting Actor, Drama
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lost
Richard Burgi, Desperate Housewives
Enrico Colantoni, Veronica Mars
Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Forest Whitaker, The Shield

Supporting Actress, Drama
Charisma Carpenter, Veronica Mars
Yunjin Kim, Lost
Janel Moloney, The West Wing
CCH Pounder, The Shield
Mary Lynn Rasjkub, 24

Monday, July 03, 2006

Comic book movies! Yay being a geek!

I'm responding to one of Larkin's posts (at and I figured since it was getting to be a long post, I might as well just do it up here. He wrote about Superman Returns, and said that Luthor is "Superman's only true arch-nemesis." Well, this is true, but Superman does have a long list of impressive foes -- I compared it to saying that Batman's only 'true' arch-nemesis is the Joker. So I named off a few, only to be reminded that only comic aficionados have heard of people like Metallo, the Cyborg, Parasite, etc.

I just realized the preceding paragraph sounded incredibly nerdy, but bear with me. Like a farmer during the harvest, I'm plowing through.

Perhaps Batman was a bad example, since he has the best rogues gallery of anyone (and the most well-known, because of the 60's show). But really, no other superhero has more than 1-2 really memorable foes.

Superman: Luthor, and I'd say Brainiac too because he has been a mainstay of the cartoons and on Smallville.

Spider-Man: Green Goblin, Venom, Doc Ock....then there's a dropoff to people like Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, etc. Spidey has the second-best rogues gallery of anyone.

Fantastic Four: Dr. Doom

Daredevil: Kingpin

Captain America: Red Skull

Thor: Loki

Hulk: Not anyone, really. Hulk was his own worst enemy, essentially.

The X-Men: Magneto and Juggernaut

You'll note that these are almost all Marvel characters, since DC villains generally aren't well-known at all. For example, name one of Wonder Woman's greatest foes.....see? And she's easily one of the five most iconic heroes of them all. This is another reason why Batman's villains stand out; he's the only one who has several in the DC Universe.

My point was that though each hero has the one or two 'arch' enemies, there are more than enough great, if lesser-known, villains to build a movie around. Look at Batman Begins as an example. Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul made great enemies, and they aren't well-known to people other than comic readers. I'm really interested to see what Christopher Nolan can do with Joker in the next Batman movie, but I'd be more interested, in a way, if he took a B-list villain like Mad Hatter and reinvented him. One rumour I heard is that Joker will be accompanied by Harley Quinn in the next movie, so that'll be an interesting new characterization.

Oh, I also saw Superman Returns, and it was generally ok but not great. Routh and Bosworth had no chemistry whatsoever, and they were both at least five years too young for the parts -- they were like high school kids in "Superman: The Play" rather than like the actual characters. Forget about living up to Reeve and Margot Kidder; they didn't even live up to Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher.

The funniest part of the movie was that Kal "Kumar" Penn was one of Luthor's henchmen. That was hilarious. Were Stifler and Ryan Reynolds not available?