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.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mark Bueller's Day Off

The website gives its reporters a day off if the team plays a long, uninterrupted stretch of home games, so I had yesterday off. Ironically, it was on the day when Shea Hillenbrand was essentially kicked off the team. Geez, of all the days to miss....

Anyway, I had a nice day at the house. Went grocery shopping, did some reading, and went online for a bit. My living room is actually really nice – a lovely cool breeze flooded through the comically-large main window, so I was able to sit in comfort.

That evening, I went off to Lori’s for an evening of (deep breath) Canada’s Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Mark, clearly spending so much time interviewing half-naked guys in a clubhouse has turned you.” Not at all. It was more a reason to hang out with Lori and her crew, since Tuesday was her birthday. Also, keep in mind that I don’t have any TV at all in my house. It was good to see something, anything, sent through the ol’ cathode ray.

Anyway, Top Model was ridiculous. I’m not a fan of reality shows where I have no idea what goes into the judging, and so my layman opinions end up holding less water than a sieve. The final three girls were all nothing to write home about looks-wise, and the problem was compounded when the photogs and stylists shot them and put them into outfits and makeup that made them look worse, rather than better. Then, the judging panel looks at the photos and critiques the girls on how they posed – but the girls had no input on that! It was the photogs and shoot directors that posed them! Argh!

Man, I’m way too wound up by this show for someone who doesn't care. Anyway, the girl who looked kind of Marilyn Manson defeated the girl who looked normal. I personally know about 90 women who would’ve just destroyed on this show. Hire me as casting director for the next one, CityTV. Not just so I can improve the calibre of contestants, but also because, well, casting models is just a pretty frickin' sweet job.

The dancing show was more entertaining, since everyone was clearly talented but you could still tell which ones were better than others. You could tell that all of the dancers are those peppy, annoying kids that got on your nerves in high school drama class, but still, they were pretty talented. There was one douchebag, a Russian guy, whose main dance move was to continually rip off his shirt at the end of his routine. It’s actually rather a canny move, since they stay on the show due to viewer calls, so obviously he wants to stand out as ‘the hot guy’ and get the horny-teenage-girl demographic working for him. On the downside, he’s a douchebag. And even though Rocky told us all that if he could change, we all could change at the conclusion of Rocky IV, America just isn’t ready to embrace a Russian as a pin-up. Well, except Anna Kournikova, but men will throw away all national rivalries when confronted with a pretty girl. This is why we need to get the Hezbollah leader’s son to fall in love with the Israeli PM’s daughter. This is what happened in Romeo & Juliet, and that ended well!.....wait…..

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)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

GAPB #8: The Herbie Post!

Another all-sports entry today. Also, my 53rd post on this board, a.k.a. the Herbie Post. Ah, the Love Bug. Dean Jones may be America's finest actor....or not.

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You know what’s underrated? Being a major league pitcher. These guys are able to toss a small spherical object at speeds of as much as 100 mph with pinpoint control into a zone that is only a few square feet large. Keep in mind that the throwing motion is in itself contrary to the natural motion of the shoulder, so with every single toss (even a soft toss game of catch you play in the backyard), you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing with your shoulder. And these guys do it dozens of times per week for years upon years.

I really had no point to the previous paragraph. I’m just really impressed by pitchers. I think throwing a baseball is the most impressive thing in pro sports. I’m not being paid by, say, Justin Speier, to say this.

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Hey, the Maple Leafs are acquiring defensemen and grit! Hey, all of them suck! Hey, they’re overpaying Bryan McCabe by at least $2 million! Sure, he was the best Toronto defenceman last year, but that’s like saying you’re the best-looking kid in the fat camp. Players like Mike Peca and Gary Roberts (when he eventually signs) are a good step, but the Leafs are still missing on a key ingredient to any hockey team: TALENT. The Canes and Lightning had loads of gritty veterans like Glen Wesley, Brind’Amour and Andreychuk for their Cup runs, but they were really powered by young stars like Staal, Ward, Richards, Lecavalier and St. Louis. The one bright side of the team this year will be that with Maurice in charge, we’ll get to see if younger players are actually good, since they’ll finally get a chance to play. It’s a nice change from Pat Quinn’s apparent belief that you’re only a good NHL player if you’ve already played in the league for 10 years.

Sigh. The Leafs never fail to discourage me. I seriously think it will be a Red Sox/White Sox or (dare I say it) even a Cubs-esque drought before a Cup parade goes down Yonge Street. I guarantee it doesn’t happen without a change in ownership.

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Also, somewhat related to the Leafs, I’m not a fan of when people play the “my team has more championships” card when discussing favourite teams. When I get into a debate about, say, the Leafs and the Habs, the Montrealer too often falls back on the “Hey, 24 Cups” argument like it’s a denouement as gripping as a Johnnie Cochrane closing statement. Using championships to say why you like a team is like saying that Jurassic Park is your favourite movie, and when someone asks why, you respond with “Hey, $200+ million gross worldwide.”

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

GAPB #4

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.

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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!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

GAPB #2

My brother is upstairs with a friend of his who unleashes these horrific-sounding belches every few minutes. He has seriously burped 30-35 times in the last hour and a half. I’ve never heard anything like it – it sounds like a dinosaur rising from a tar pit. I’m downstairs, tucked away in the back room, and I can still hear it loud and clear.

I really had no point to that….it was just the first thing on my mind.

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So, say you’re Zindane Zidane. You’re one of the great soccer players of the modern era, a World Cup winner, and essentially a Wayne Gretzky-level national hero in France. Your team is in the World Cup Final, inarguably the world’s biggest sporting event, and you’ve already announced it will be your last career game. It’s 20 minutes into overtime, with only ten to play before the penalty kicks to decide the championship, and then Italian defender Marco Materazzi insults you and (allegedly) your mother and sister. What do you do?

a) Ignore it
b) Come up with an even more clever insult in response, and either it will provoke the Italian player to do something stupid in response and get himself red-carded, or Wilmer Valderrama shows up and the whole thing turns into an episode of Yo Mama
c) Laugh it off
d) Internalize it and use it as even further motivation to push your team to victory
e) Lay out Materazzi with a headbutt that is both violent enough to earn an immediate red card, and yet is also hilarious enough to evoke immediate comparison to an angry buck

Zidane chose E, and is now a living joke all around the world. I think it’s the most high-profile breakdown by a major player in a major event in sports history. The only comparisons I can think of are Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear and Roger Clemens getting tossed from Game Four of the 1990 ALCS for arguing calls, but those cases don’t quite fit because neither event is even close to World Cup stature, and besides -- Tyson is crazy, and Clemens is a baby.

Obviously, insults towards one’s family are pretty low, especially since Zidane’s mother is apparently in hospital. But a player of Zidane’s experience should’ve realized it’s the World Cup Final, and obviously your opponent is just trying to get under your skin. If he was worried about not getting another chance to retaliate, then he should’ve just waited until after the game, and then seduced Materazzi’s sister and mother. Hell, he’s Zinedine Zidane – he could conceivably pull that off.

By the way, this link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js0vOgjBfD8) is hilarious.

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Few questions that will create more controversy in a group of women than asking which of the male ‘Friends’ was the most attractive. If you asked 100 women this question, you could very possibly get a final tally of 33-33-33-1 (with the one joker voting for Gunther or Tom Selleck). Whereas if you asked 100 men who the most attractive female Friend was, a solid 65 to 70 per cent would vote for Jennifer Aniston. Lisa Kudrow would be invariably dead last, which is unfortunate but predictable – she is the Toronto Blue Jays to Aniston and Cox’s Yankees and Red Sox.

By the way, the question of ‘which Friend is most attractive’ has really lost its lustre given that they’re all pushing 40 by this point. David Schwimmer, in particular, is going to look just horrific in about five years time in a Gabrielle Carteris-post 90210 kind of way. My personal pick in the female Friend category, Courteney Cox, is already 42 (Jesus!), and the years of starvation and botox are catching up to her in a big way. If things continue to get worse, in a few years people will only be surprised that she’s married to David Arquette, as opposed to the dismay of today and the outright shock of their initial engagement. That one was at least an 8.2 on the Lovett Scale. Fortunately, Nelly Furtado has essentially morphed into Courteney Cox anyway, so I’m happy.

Since Friends is off the air and the actors are all getting old, TV needs a new multi-attractive character program where the actors’ attractiveness can be debated at length. I nominate Lost, if for no other reason than there’s lots of room for differing opinions since the cast has approximately 115 people. I vote for Emilie de Ravin. For the men, I vote for Locke – we baldies have to stick together.

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It was misty/rainy all day today, so of course it was perfect golf weather….or, at least, British Open golf weather. I shot a 109 on the par-73 Oxbow Glen course, so I was exactly at ‘Mark Par’ (a.k.a. double bogey golf). Though no golfer should really be proud of a 109, I actually thought I played extremely well by my low standards. I was sabotaged by a handful of holes, on which I scored a pair of triple bogies, a quadruple bogey, quintuple bogey and a (gulp) sextuple bogey. The sextuple came on the 7th hole, a par five piece of garbage that encompasses a stream through the middle of the fairway, plus two ponds that guard the green. That hole is to my golf game what Hitler was to Europe.

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Toronto is covered in posters for the new Pirates movie, and they’re those single-character posters that highlight one of the main characters from the movie. For example, one of the posters is like a big shot of Orlando Bloom with his name and “Will Turner” across the top. I have to laugh, since while posters like this are neat collectibles for multi-character films, is there really any point to any of these posters besides the Jack Sparrow one? Bloom and Knightley might as well be replaced by CGI mannequins for all they mean to the picture – in fact, Orlando Bloom may yet be proven to be a CGI mannequin, or at least some type of cyborg like the KeanuTron 3000.

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After two weeks of having to dial ‘519’ before every local call, I still haven’t gotten it through my thick skull, so I always hear the ‘You must dial the area code…’ recording before being connected. I think they’ve changed the recording, since when I most recently failed to dial correctly, the woman’s voice sounded very annoyed. Clearly, the phone company are tired of people calling to complain about the extra digits, and are adopting a “Look, just dial the extra numbers, it’s not so goddamn hard” attitude towards the populace that has even seeped into their recorded message. Either that, or the electronic annoyance is the first step that the machines are becoming sentient, and SkyNet is on the verge of destroying the world.

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This is a uniquely London kind of problem. The London Free Press changed up their comics section a couple of weeks ago and added four new strips while removing old standards like Hagar, Peanuts and Cathy. They also removed “Rex Morgan, M.D.” which is apparently one of the longest-running strips of all time, as it dates back to the 1940’s. It’s the soap operaish strip about a doctor in a small town, and….I dunno, a bunch of crap happens that I don’t really know about since I’ve never read it.

Naturally, I presumed that my tastes mirror everyone else’s, so I was amused when people started sending in loads of letters to the Freeps about how dare they could cut off Rex Morgan ‘in the middle of a storyline.’ So after a week of this hate mail, the Freeps caved and ran a full page of the last week’s Rex Morgan cartoons and have promised to continue the strip until the current plot ends.

We live in a city where the mayor is incompetent, city council hates each other, our population is growing as an enormous rate, and people are only moved to action when a musty old serial is removed from the local comics page. London: We’re All Mixed Up!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Great American Posting Bash/Lisa Loeb

Back in the late 1980's, the National Wrestling Association promoted a month-long tour called the 'Great American Bash' that ran for a straight month. The then-NWA champion Ric Flair would defend his title every night against a different opponent in a different city across the eastern and southern United States, culminating in one big pay-per-view event around the fourth of July.

Why am I bringing this up now, other than to display my intrinsic knowledge of 80's pro wrestling and thus expose a reason for my lackluster dating life? Well, I'm going to see if I can post every day for the rest of July. Call me the Ric Flair of blogging, minus the alcoholism, Republican politics and sagging man-breasts.
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So, today's post.

I'm a big-time fan of glasses on women -- blame it on Tina Fey or Jan Smithers from WKRP In Cincinnati, but I just find it damned attractive. Those two may not be the best examples, however, since both are attractive without glasses as well.

This is why Lisa Loeb puzzles me. Has anyone ever seen Lisa Loeb without glasses? I have a sneaking suspicion that she is a candidate for reverse Clark Kent syndrome: when the glasses are removed, the person is the exact opposite of 'super.' Given Lisa Loeb's relative lack of songwriting ability, it seems entirely possible that a record exec suggested them in order to give her more of a hook. This record exec may have also told her to bone Ethan Hawke, or possibly try to kill him in order to prevent 'Gattaca' from ever taking place -- in my scenario, this record exec is from the future and travels through time preventing shitty sci-fi movies. This is why you've never heard of Star Trek 11: Building Data A Penis.

Anyway, if Lisa Loeb removed her specs, would it be as horrifying as that Arrested Development episode when GOB was doing it with Kitty in the Bluth Company broom closet, and Kitty removed her glasses to reveal her cross-eyed glare? This scene becomes even funnier in hindsight for me when I learned of my friend Aaron's lazy eye that is revealed whenever he whips off his glasses.

p.s. Judy Greer, who plays Kitty, is actually very attractive, and they had to purposely "ugly her up" on AD. Though that didn't really work much either, since she still looked pretty good. Certainly much more than Portia de Rossi, who is fiendish without makeup and a good hair stylist. Ellen Degeneres, you can probably do better.

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
Entourage
Extras
Everybody Hates Chris
Monk
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
Huff
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 malarkey19.blogspot.com) 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?