Monday, July 30, 2007

The Train Wreck That Is Lindsay Lohan

My friend Sarah have been having an ongoing debate about Lindsay Lohan. In fact, I think we have a standing bet that she will win an Oscar within the next 10 years. She votes hell yes, I vote hell no...she might get nominated (hell, anyone can snag a nomination) but she won't actually win. I think the stakes of this bet were $200,000.

The tragedy of this situation is that three years ago, Lindsay Lohan was one of the hottest actresses in the world, in many senses of the term. Mean Girls was a huge hit, she had hosted a legendary episode of Saturday Night Live, she could actually act and she was smoking hot. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless because he now has a wife and child was so enamored with the Lohan 2004 that he would've gladly committed a homicide for a night with her. Maybe a multiple homicide for an entire weekend at a bed and breakfast. Millions of men around the world had the same reaction, and millions of women were okay with this. You know how certain women get acclaimed as gorgeous yet others face a big backlash as "not that pretty," or "oh, she is so fake" from other women? It seems like there's a much higher percentage of backlash victims who are blond. My theory is that women are actually Green Lanterns and are affected by the colour yellow. Anyway, Lohan, had the vivacious redhead thing going, so she passed the quality test from women as well. The words young Ann-Margaret were tossed around, and for those of you who know Ann-Margaret just as Jack Lemmon's shagbag in Grumpy Old Men, she was pretty fit back in her prime.

So anyway, 2004 Lohan was on easy street. Then things went sour. She became a party girl. She started being involved in creepy rumours like a tryst with just-barely-old-enough-to-be-her-grandpa Bruce Willis. She hasn't made a good movie since 2004.* She's been in and out of rehab like an Amy Winehouse song. She released shitty pop albums. She's being chewed out publicly by William H. Macy for being unprofessional on the set (this is my favourite one....did he throw in an "Aw geez" for old time's sake?). She got all skinny, which is never good. 'Slender' is definitely attractive, but 'skinny' is definitely not. She got skinny enough that her breasts even departed her, which is like if Johnny Cash's substance abuse had cost him his voice. She's doing trashy nonsense like vowing to sleep with David Beckham now that he's in Los Angeles.

* = the one exception is A Prairie Home Companion, one of my favourite films of recent years. The caveat here is that it wasn't really a 'Lindsay Lohan' movie. She was merely one good but ultimately unimportant piece of a larger puzzle -- like Greg Myers on the 1992 Blue Jays. It didn't help that Lohan's scenes were almost all with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, and I'm sorry, there aren't many actors in the world who are good enough to hold your own in those circumstances. Lohan was clearly way out of her league.

Now, Sarah is still a big fan for a number of reasons. Her main debate points are..

a) Lohan is only 21, so it's not like she's washed up or over the hill
b) she's hardly the first star or even the first child star to run into drug and alcohol problems
c) the comeback is a classic Hollywood tale, and all it takes is one good role to get back on track
d) so she's trashy and a train wreck, so what? She's still stylish

These are all salient points. Were I a better poster, I'd come up with a point-by-point between Drew Barrymore and Lohan, with the only main difference being that Lindsay crammed Drew's life from ages nine to about 22 into three years. Drew Barrymore turned out just fine, and she was about as messed up as it got for a young age.

But here's my rejoinder: Lindsay doesn't seem terribly smart. Like, I don't expect brain surgery tips from Hollywood starlets, but perhaps more damaging than a lack of smarts is a lack of wit. Someone like, say, Drew Barrymore doesn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, but at least he has some semblance of cleverness and self-deprecation about herself that I can appreciate. And she is sharp enough to run her own production company, so while I wouldn't want her on as a Millionaire lifeline, Drew doesn't deserve to be wearing a dunce cap.

Lohan, on the other hand, doesn't just act like a 21-year-old, she acts like a dense 21-year-old. Her PR people (who, by the way, need to update their resumes) should've pointed her in the career paths of Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson. Nobody thinks these two are particularly bright, and if you believe the tabloids, Scarlett has been banging her way through Hollywood for years. But those details are glossed over because the two carry themselves with an ounce of class. Lohan carries an ounce of cocaine in her purse. I think the big turning point for me didn't come with the DUI or anything, but rather than Tina Fey and Amy Poehler started openly mocking her on Weekend Update two years ago. I took that as the "ok, we've given up, you're on your own, Lindsay" moment from two women who had openly become public big sisters to Lohan since Mean Girls.

So whose side do you take in the debate? Has Lohan's plane hit the proverbial mountain, or is this merely a pit stop on her career arc? There's 200 grand riding on this. Or not. I really don't remember the details of this bet at all. This explains why my internet betting website collapsed.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Don't look now, but the Charlie Chaplin character on Sesame Street was played by.....MARIA


No word on if this was one of Luis' fetish things

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Price Potter Mouse

You might be wondering who this rough-looking customer is. Soldier #2 in a late-80's Dolph Lundgren vehicle? One of John McCain's old war buddies? I'll give you a's a well-known TV star. No, not John Ritter. He's just a skull by now.

Give up? Ok, it's DREW CAREY. That's right, thick-glasses, pot-bellied, bumbling Clevelander Drew Carey. Turns out he's a former Marine. All those years Drew could've just snapped Mimi's neck with his legs if she had gone one comment over the line.

This picture is the evidence I need that Carey's hosting gig on The Price Is Right will turn out alright. There's something to be said for initial instincts, and when I heard Drew Carey was the new host of The Price Is Right, my first reaction was "Hmm, that could work." This is an important step, since virtually nobody could've elicited an overtly positive response from me. I like Drew Carey. He seems like a good guy, and he has a combination of good humour and subtle bad-assery that Bob Barker mastered. You got the feeling that Bob was always a step away from laying the smack down on those contestants who took too long to answer questions. Who can forget that introduction to his violent side when he beat the hell out of Adam Sandler?

Carey is also helped, as anyone would've been, by the fact that he looks like the best choice in the world compared to Rosie O'Donnell. Not that Rosie isn't also a tough customer. If properly provoked (i.e. a contestant wears an 'I Heart Dick Cheney' t-shirt), she could raise hell. She is certainly a bad-ass. Also, she has a bad ass.


All of Monday was spent plowing through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it was well worth it. SPOILER ALERT FOR THE REST OF THE POST, SO JUST STOP NOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. I'm fairly pleased by the happy ending. What would've been the point of Rowling going blood-thirsty and killing one of the big three? Why end the series on a bittersweet note? The only one of them whose death would've made sense was Harry, but even then, he got to have his much-deserved happy ending with Ginny. And probably more than just a happy ending, nudge nudge wink wink, given all of their children. Harry rode her like a Quidditch broom. One quibble...between all of Harry/Ginny and Hermione/Ron's kids, they didn't name any of them after Ron's dead brother Fred? Even worse, nobody said the line, "Fred's dead, baby. Fred's dead."

The book was basically like a Harry Potter greatest hits -- all of the living major characters made another appearance in at least a cameo form, every loose end I can think of was tied up and the horcrux search was resolved fairly well. The real dead spot was that 50-page or so section when Harry and Hermione are spinning their wheels in search of the horcruxes. That dragged something fierce. Ron left for really no reason, and I thought that it wasn't the real Ron who returned -- it was Voldemort in disguise or something, and he'd reveal himself in the last few pages. Also, Snape went out like a wimp. After all of that flashback stuff in Dumbledore's office and how his loyalty has been a major theme of the series, he gets offed by Voldemort's snake? And he and Harry don't even get a real final scene together? I can just imagine Alan Rickman's reaction when reading this book. "I don't even get a great death scene? By Grabthar's hammer!"


A tip if you ever get a mouse in your house: use peanut butter in the traps. We had a mouse a few months back, and he proved himself smart enough to get the cheese out of the trap without dying. On the bright side, creationism's case against evolution took another blow, but we were still stuck with a critter running around our vent. So my roommate, who grew up on a farm, got the bright idea of using the peanut butter. The result was one dead mouse. Sticks to the roof of your mouth, bitch.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


* Why are Corn Pops in America oval-shaped while Corn Pops in Canada are spheres?

* Which Big Dig-esque long-running construction project in Toronto will be finished first: rebuilding Dundas, or finishing whatever the hell they're doing in front of Union Station?

* Do they cast the actors in Fido commercials first and then find dogs that resemble them, or vice versa? And are the actors subtly insulted on some level?

* Could this be a future SAT analogy: Facebook is to MySpace as MSN Messenger is to ICQ?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


"Well, that kind of puts a damper on even a Yankees win." --- Broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, after reporting the death of Pope Paul VI

The third installment is always the largest. X-Men 3, Spider-Man III, The Return of the Jedi, Batman Forever, etc. You run the risk of going overboard while missing what made the original two installments so special. Thankfully, baseball road trips seem to be immune to this prophecy. For the third straight year, and the second straight year of an increased cast, the annual road trip was a blast. The trip has grown from four to six to an ungodly eight people in 2007, thus necessitating two rental cars, two hotel rooms and twice as many lewd jokes.

This year's trip was the first year that the destination played an important part. While baseball took center stage in the first year (the scenic metropolises of Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh) and even the second (the admittedly cool Chicago and Milwaukee), the fact that New York City was the venue for this year's trip made the focus on baseball a little less...well, focused. Sure, we all wanted to see Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium, and for the first year ever, the last day of the trip wouldn't be spent at a game, but rather at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. But there was just as much excitement over seeing the Big Apple as there was about seeing the Big Toilet -- my personal nickname for Yankee Stadium, but I digress. Of the eight of us, I was the one who had been to NYC in the past. I went on a field trip with my high school band in 2000. The highlights of that one included a concert at the Lincoln Center, a tour of Carnegie Hall, trips to the Statue of Liberty and the Guggenheim Museum and (my personal favourite) a tour of NBC Studios. It was there that I began my lifelong fandom of Conan O'Brien, and where I also got my infamous NBC Sports ball cap. I was wearing that cap during my first-ever drunken experience when I was 19, which prompted passersby on the street to shout "Hey NBC!" and "I love NBC Sports!" as I sat on a street porch and felt my innards gurgle.

But that's a post for another time. The cast of characters:

Dave -- Trip rookie. Ladies' man. Master of impressions. Kept irritatingly referring to me as, "the big guy" a la Wedding Crashers. If he met Steve Jobs on the street, would probably offer to give him a hand-jobs.

Dean -- Three-year trip veteran. The 'old guy' (i.e. nearly the ripe old age of 30). Mild-mannered pharmacist. A fellow fan of Fulham FC, which means that he and I share constant disappointment.

Eric -- Trip rookie. Repressed accountant. Made one funny joke about my dog six years ago and has been milking it ever since, even though my dog has been dead for over four years.

Jeff -- Three-year trip veteran. Used to be a Ben Stiller lookalike, but now is probably closer to Stiller-in-monkey-form in Zoolander. Rock star -- he can't walk down the streets in Sudbury without being mobbed by autograph hounds. One of the most positive and diehard Blue Jays fans I've ever met.

Matt -- Three-year trip veteran. Apparently hates baseball now that his fantasy team has hit the skids this year. Has an unnatural love of Chipotle Mexican food and if provoked will talk about it for hours. Chews tobacco.

Scott -- Two-year trip veteran. Local London radio celebrity. Outstanding at snide one-liners. Got lost last year in Chicago, but has promised us that it won't happen again, so we put away the leash.

Trevor -- Two-year trip veteran. Once drove a car into a bridge abutment -- though it was less tragic than the scenario postulated by Chris Farley in Tommy Boy -- and thus his otherwise impeccable driving ability has been a running joke ever since. Is nicknamed 'The Big Ham' for reasons only his girlfriend can postulate.

And of course, there's me. Three-year trip veteran. "The Big Guy." Floppy-hat wearing, wise-cracking, sweatrag-carrying Mark. Unofficial morale officer for the trip. Stupidly brought along three books through there was literally no time to read them. Likes to sit down.

This octet got rolling in our two cars, and already things got crazy during our long drive to the city. Our trip ended up stretching to more than 13 hours thanks to a two-hour lineup at the Niagara Falls border, a interminable search around Scranton for a Subway and a beer store (Scranton was chosen, of course, because it is the setting for The Office), and a stop to buy and set off fireworks. The video cameras were rolling just in case the fireworks went astray and someone was horribly burned, so at least we'd have a high-rated entry for YouTube. The long drive was paid off upon our entry into NYC, and at the risk of sounding like a a gawky tourist, it was a pretty spectacular vista looking at the city's skyline as we entered the Lincoln Tunnel. We drove out into a genuine New York traffic jam, which makes the worst Toronto traffic snarl I've ever seen look like a tea party. Driver Eric kept his wits about him as we made our way into the city, though as we drove past the incredible sights like a fully-illuminated Times Square, he did shout, "I can't believe I'm not looking at this!" Peace, Eric.

CELEBRITY SIGHTING #1: While we were stopped at a red light near Broadway, I could've sworn I saw actor Kevin Tighe standing on the sidewalk with a group of people. Tighe is one of those classic "Hey, it's that guy" actors who's been in a million TV shows and movies, but is perhaps best known currently as Locke's dad on Lost. Now, I know what you're thinking -- "Oh come on Mark. Of course you think you see an actor from Lost. I'm surprised you didn't say you saw Jorge Garcia and Daniel Dae Kim holding hands and skipping down Broadway." First of all, New York's sidewalks couldn't take the impact of a skipping Jorge Garcia. Second of all, I am ninety-five percent sure it was Tighe. I guess I'll have to check US Weekly, since they're always keeping track of the uber-stars like Pitt, Jolie, Cruise and...uh, Tighe.

We finally arrived at our very nice hotel (the Murray Hill Inn, for anyone taking a New York trip in the near future) and then immediately headed out on a walk back to Times Square. You have to love an area of town where businesses are required by law to have large, gaudily-lit signs promoting their wares. After taking a number of pictures, we took a short stroll around the area, found an Irish pub and had a couple of drinks before retiring for the evening. I was roomed with Eric, Trevor and Scott, and since Trevor and Eric drove, it was agreed upon that they should get the bed while Scott and I shared the fold-out couch. There was no repeat of the Steve Martin-John Candy "those aren't pillows" incident.

Enough of this tourist crap, it's baseball time. After a breakfast at a nice little diner known as Scotty's, we were off to Shea. We took the number seven train, which was immortalized by former Braves reliever and beacon of tolerance John Rocker.

"Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing." -- Rocker, in a 2000 interview with Sports Illustrated

Unfortunately for Rocker, we didn't see any of these characters. Well, I guess there could've been an ex-con or two, or maybe an AIDS patient. Those folks don't exactly wear signs. What we did see, however, was one of the highlights of the trip. A 53-year-old gen-yoo-ine Noo Yawker who was trying to flirt with a much younger, increasingly bemused Russian woman with armpit hair. This guy, named Kevin, made the following statements, and just imagine them spoken in a thick Bronx accent and without an ounce of self-awareness.

"20 years ago I would've made a run at you...You wouldn't have stood a chance. My charm, my charisma, my savoir faire."

"Believe it or not, I owned a dance studio from 1994 to 1995."

"You should model."

"You think just because his last name is Perez he can't be Irish? I drank with him at a pub!"
(note: Mets pitcher Oliver Perez was born in Culiacan, Mexico, which is over 5100 miles away from Ireland according to Google Maps).

"I was a number-two rated ballroom dancing champion before I hurt my back."

"Yeah, I almost died four times. I was in special forces in Vietnam."

(to a kid on the subway, about the kid's father) "He borrowed 40 dollars? I don't believe this, this kid works at a steakhouse and his dad makes 400-500 a night and he's borrowing money. He should go to DJ, for Degenerate Jerkoffs."

"One time I fell through a window and hurt my back. I was 25. I was in a body cast for nine months."

Back when I was doing improv comedy, one of my biggest weaknesses was keeping a straight face during a routine. Time didn't improve my stone-face skills, as I had to bite my lip, turn my head and do everything in my power from laughing out loud at this guy. He was the unquestioned comic mascot of the trip. The few other candidates just couldn't match his sav-wah feh-ah.

Anyway, onto Shea. It's not much of a stadium -- big concrete bowl, limited bathrooms, unimpressive view. The Mets are building a new ballpark right across from center field, so we could literally see what the future holds for Mets baseball. The actual stadium atmosphere in terms of fandom, the scoreboard, etc. was actually pretty good. We each received a Mets cap with the 'NY' logo in military camo as part of a tribute to the Armed Forces. So I guess I'll have to reverse my stance on the war in Iraq since hey, it got me a free hat. Suspiciously, every one of the 'fans of the game' (those randomly selected people who win a free t-shirt, or food, or a gift certificate depending on the promotion) was military personnel. I smell a rat. I also smelled the stink that is the Cincinnati Reds, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Mets. Jose Reyes homered for New York, and Dublin's own Oliver Perez threw a quality start for the win. Perez's success greatly impressed Dave, as Dave has a long-standing love affair for players he used in his MVP Baseball video game in 2004. He'll say things like, "Ah, Jeff Francis. He threw five perfect games for me."

So with Shea down, we headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours of R & R before heading to dinner at Mickey Mantle's restaurant (Motto: "Our Selection Of Liquors Will Make Your Kidneys Fail!"). We decided to walk, and thus our stroll took us past the Waldorf-Astoria, Central Park, and a large number of corporate headquarters for several of the world's largest banks. I was less impressed with the sites since I was concentrating on my sore feet (this was a bad time to realize my shoes are a half-size too small) and the overbearing humidity in the city. The walk saw the trip debut of --- you guessed it --- the sweat rag. Lord have mercy.

CELEBRITY SIGHTING #2: Who should be sitting at another table in Mickey Mantle's but actor/professional Bill Pullman impersonator Bill Paxton? Jeff and Dean approached him for a photo, which Paxton declined because he was with his family, but he did offer up handshakes. I think Jeff and Dean would've had a better chance if they had walked by the table yelling "Game over, man! Game over!"

CELEBRITY SIGHTING #3: Okay, this one is very tenuous. As we were leaving Mickey Mantle's, I thought I saw Edie Falco pass us on the street. She was walking with another woman and carrying an umbrella, so when I turned to do a double-take, all I saw was the top of her bumbershoot. None of the guys watch Sopranos, so nobody knew her from Adam, but when I showed Dave her pic on the internet, he thought she might've been the woman who passed us by. Call this one a 30-percent probability.

The rest of the night was spent taking the subway to see City Hall, and to pay our respects at the WTC site. I may as well mention this now, as I was already taking about my heat and discomfort. The subways were blazingly hot --- just muggy and humid as all get out. Toronto's subway, for comparison's sake, is also not air-conditioned, but it's just warm, not the sauna was was NYC. I mention this since two days after we left, a steam pipe blew up not a block away from our hotel and caused a shutdown of the city's subway system. The explosion was apparently caused by a combination of cold water seeping into the system plus the fact that some of the piping was over 80 years old.

Since my feet were on the verge of dying, I suggested a bus tour for the next day's activity. Scott, Jeff, Dave and Dean went off on a tour of Yankee Stadium in the morning, so Trevor, Matt, Eric and myself boarded a double-decker bus for a tour of Manhattan. It was a nice way to spend a couple of hours, since at least we can say we saw a number of the major sites, though we didn't actually experience them, per se. Our tour guide was hilarious, as she had an amusing habit of relating many of the major sites to their appearances in Sex and the City, Friends and the Spider-Man movies. For example, as we passed the world-famous Beth Israel hospital, our guide noted that it was where Phoebe had her triplets. Yeah, screw you revolutionary medical treatments, I wanna know about Lisa Kudrow's fake babies! Then again, I'm the same guy who pointed out during a stroll through Central Park that we were at the spot where Miss Piggy chases down Gregory Hines in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

CELEBRITY SIGHTING #4: When Jeff, Dean, Scott and Dave were out and about on Monday morning, they stopped in at the Hello Deli to see Rupert Gee. I'm counting this as a celebrity sighting by the barest of margins, because....well, it wasn't really a pure sighting. A sighting is randomly seeing a celeb in the street -- it's out of the blue. Going to the celeb's workplace doesn't really count. It's not like I counted seeing Jose Reyes, Adam Dunn and the other ballplayers as celeb sightings at Shea Stadium. That said, apparently Rupert was pleasant and the deli serves up a mean sandwich. Rupert must just go home and night and thank his lucky stars that the Letterman show came to town. He must run the most profitable deli in Manhattan.

Bus trip done with, it was time for the final pilgrimage -- Yankee Stadium. Now, I think that anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows about my...well, let's say displeasure towards the New York Yankees. So the historical significance of Yankee Stadium was tempered by the fact that the place may as well have been the eighth circle of hell. Trevor and I trekked out to left field to see Monument Park, and while I got a pair of photos with the Lou Gehrig and Mel Allen plaques, I couldn't help but think it was a bit overdone. I mean, the scoreboard announced Monument Park as 'the most historic venue in all of sports,' which nearly made me throw up. You don't see the Cardinals, Red Sox, Athletics, Dodgers or any of the other major baseball teams construct a self-congratulatory tribute to their stars within the sight of the very playing field. You don't see the Blue Jays with the Rogers Canyon of Heroes, with commemorative plaques dedicated to the likes of Garth Iorg and Juan Guzman. Get over yourselves, Yankees. On the bright side, Trevor was innocently standing in line when a Frank Thomas batting practice home run found the two-foot hole between the wall and the netting, and the ball bounced harmlessly at Trevor's feet. Score! Combined with Jeff getting an autograph from his idol Reed Johnson, we had a better day of ball collecting than Mike Lowell and John Kruk's doctors.

The game itself was probably the most frustrating game I've ever seen. After a year of objectively covering the Blue Jays, I no longer have any tolerance for their flaws. The team just isn't any good, and fans like Jeff who think they're just a step away are fooling themselves. This game (and, as it turned out, the whole series) was a perfect sign of that. The Jays left a ridiculous 39 men on base over the four-game set, and when you do that, it's no surprise that you lose three of four. Monday's game saw 12 of those baserunners stranded in a game where you just knew New York was going to eventually win. Toronto kept blowing chance after chance to put a stranglehold on the game, and sure enough, with the score tied 4-4 in the sixth, the Yankees got the big hit to take a two-run lead. 'Big' hit is in name only, as Andy Phillips hit a bloop single about a foot in front of Vernon Wells' glove. The Jays have had a lot of injuries this season, but when that happens, teams usually revert to the fundamentals -- smallball, manufacturing runs, using the hit-and-run, station-to-station ball, etc. Instead, the Jays couldn't move baserunners over, and were useless with men in scoring position. Even in situations where only a sac fly or even a hard grounder was needed, you could count on a Jay hitting a pop fly or just striking out.

The hair-pulling nature of the game aside, the overall atmosphere in Yankee Stadium was pretty cool. Not even close to Wrigley last year or even PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but cool nonetheless. This was our yearly splurge on tickets, as we were located just slightly to the first-base side of home plate, about a dozen or so rows up from the field. The highlights included Jeff and Dean being loudly booed whenever they stood cheering in their Reed Johnson and Roy Halladay jerseys, respectively. I expected more creativity from the so-called hardcore baseball fans in New York. I wanted some clever one-liners and putdowns, not just 'BOOOOOO!' and 'Go back to Canada!'

CELEBRITY SIGHTING #5: Adam Sandler and Kevin James were in a box seat at Yankee Stadium, just a day removed from being in a box at Shea. Oh, to be a movie star promoting a new film. The downside of it would be always having to leave early to avoid a rush of autograph hounds at the end of the game, and thus Chuck & Larry themselves left around the eighth inning. As it happened, they exited the park through the ramp running right by our seats. So I stuck my hand out and got a high-five from the King of Queens himself. Wow, I touched the hand that was involved in antics with Jerry Stiller. I may never wash it again.

We left Yankee Stadium, I resisted the urge to urinate on my seat, and made our way back to the hotel for a quick checkout and to begin the trek to Cooperstown. C-Town, as I call it, is many things, but a metropolis isn't one of them. It's out in the boonies of New York state, which made our drive very interesting. A four-hour drive through the back roads was enlivened by The Michael Rapaport Show. We had brought a pair of walkie-talkies along on the trip for inter-car communication, what with cellphone roaming rates being so ridiculous, and with Dave in one car and me in the other, we quickly set up a communique that involved impressions of Rapaport, Jays manager John Gibbons (me), Bubbles and Conky from Trailer Park Boys (Jeff and I), original ball trip creation Blueby the Talking Pie (Matt), Sly Stallone (Dave), and a brutal impression of Jays announcer Jerry Howarth (me -- I can't do Jerry's voice properly so I just pinched my nose to create a bit of a nasal effect and went with it). I don't really do voices well, but my impression of Gibbons cracks the guys up. For those of you who are unaware, Gibbons sounds somewhat like a combination of Boomhauer from King of the Hill, and Dave Foley's chairman of AT & Love character on Kids in the Hall. I don't really do that good a likeness of Gibby, aside from his trademark noise when he's thinking of an answer to a question. I can only describe it as sounding like "Eahhhh...." Anyway, I guess spending all that time talking to Gibby paid off after all, as it has led to an impression that makes my friends laugh. The Rapaport Show went on for so long that it just about killed the batteries in the walkies, so if we had been stranded, we would've been screwed. But it would've been worth it.

We arrived in Cooperstown around 4 AM, and it took us a while to find our motel. We passed several known hotel chains (Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson) on the way into town, and Eric kept on being a dick and commenting that these all would've been great choices to spend the night. Trevor, who had booked our motel, kept a tight-lipped silence. We arrived at our little motel and Trev informed us that though the place was locked up for the night, our room keys were in the flower pots in front of the doors. This led to a running joke about how the continental breakfast would be in the shrubs, and the bill would be under the doormat, and how to find the clerk, you'd have to chase him down in a field.

After spending literally seven hours in our hotel room, we checked out (Eric didn't have to chase the clerk) and headed up the block to the Hall. Most of Cooperstown is concentrated in its one main street, on which you can find about a hundred baseball-themed shops. There's a bat store, a jersey store, several memorabilia stores, and even the Triple Play Diner, where we had brunch. For me, this was very much a Field of Dreams-esque, "Is this heaven?" kind of town. Before actually entering the Hall, we visited one of the jersey stores where I found it -- the Fergie Jenkins throwback Cubs jersey. If you remember last year's ball trip....

...I was frustrated in my efforts in finding either a Jenkins jersey in Chicago or a Paul Molitor throwback in Milwaukee. Now I had Fergie in my hands, which is something that only a few hundred Black Eyed Peas male groupies and half the people in the recording industry can say.

But...I didn't get it. For one, I've got to pinch pennies for the time being since I'm working just the one part-time job. And if I had a choice, I really would've rather gotten the Molitor jersey. Isn't there some fable about some animal that passes up something for the chance at something even more, and they're ultimately punished for their greed? Wait, that may not have been a fable, but rather an episode of Deal Or No Deal. The upshot of it was that my gambit of a Molitor jersey being sold at the HOF gift store was sadly not paid off. When I was 10, I remembered the Hall's gift store as being a nonstop cavalcade of jerseys and hats, but perhaps this perspective was molded by my young mind. Or, in the last 16 years, the store decided to switch from baseball-related gear to chintzy crap. Shot glasses, board games, fridge magnets...what the hell? Some jerseys were available, but hardly the gallery of HOFer gear that I remembered. It was mostly stars from the last 30 years (i.e. Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith and a ton of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken stuff since they're being inducted next week), and of course Molitor wasn't given any love. By the way, the HOF gift store had hats available for every Major League team except, you guessed it, the Blue Jays. What a slap in the face. The ratio was about 85% Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Padres and Orioles stuff, and 15 % for the other teams. Thumbs down to the HOF gift store for ruining an otherwise spectacular experience.

Oh yeah, I guess I should've talked about the spectacular experience before I got to the griping. The HOF was just as wonderful as I remembered it as a 10-year-old. The building has undergone a bit of renovation in the last decade and a half, so everything looked a bit newer, but it was still magical. One floor is a virtual timeline of baseball, running through the history of the game and focusing on various notable players and teams. This was there my nerdy knowledge of baseball came in handy, as my pals (no slouches at baseball knowledge themselves) turned to me for questions about such obscure players as Travis Jackson, Highpockets Kelly and Chick Hafey who happen to be HOFers. Yes, all those years of reading baseball stats on Saturday nights finally paid off. Sigh. Some of the displays were a bit family-friendly, shall we say. One large case was devoted to Ty Cobb, and mentioned his legendary competitiveness, his ownership of a dance studio from 1894 to 1895 and the number of records he still holds. Nothing about, you know, the fact that he was a horrible racist. Let's just omit that part of baseball history. Hilariously, the Cobb exhibit was right across the hall from the room devoted to the Negro Leagues and the history of black ballplayers. Other highlights of the second floor included not one, but two grammatical errors in George Brett's exhibit (I'm presuming the writer had money on the '85 Cardinals in the Series), a clearly awestruck guy mumbling about how Pete Rose was intense, and the somewhat funny instance of the wall displays abruptly ending in the main room. Now, they continued on through a hallway, but it was like, "Baseball history ran on until 2001, and then nothing. The end."

The Hall of plaques was very cool and led to many pictures. Plus, I got to show off some of my knowledge of players again while standing in front of the plaque of Negro League executive Effa Manley. A young lad standing next to me asked, "Is that a girl?" My answer: "Yes." My advice to children was at least more constructive than Babe Ruth's. We also hit the very well-updated hall of records (it had the numbers of the likes of Bonds, Hoffman and Biggio updated to the day on these large display boards), the exhibit of baseball films and the library. Now, we only perused the bookstore and didn't hit the library proper, since I didn't want to hold the guys up for five hours, but it was still good. When I was 10, apparently I actually burst into tears of joy when told by a Hall librarian that all of the information was available for easy photocopying. This is my mother's story, I don't remember it myself. Is there such thing as a happiness blackout?


5. Jeff and Matt posing in front of the plaque for Negro Leagues executive Cumberland Posey, because his nickname (as plainly stated on his plaque) was 'Cum.'

4. The obligatory pun about Three-Finger Brown's prowess at sexually stimulating women.

3. The Babe Ruth room featured a letter written by the Babe to a young fan where Ruth encouraged the young lad to "take his place." This led to an extended bit about why would Ruth want to be deposed from his job, which then led to jokes about the kid trying to top the Babe in eating hot dogs and sleeping with women of the night.

2. Dave posing in front of Kirby Puckett's plaque pretending to be blind. My exaggerated sigh/whimper when I saw what he was doing became a joke on its own.

1. Eric posing for a picture lying down under the skirt of a statue of a female ballplayer. It was, in a word, creepy.

After a quick look at Doubleday Field (Labatt Park pwns it), we got back in the cars and began the end of our journey. The one final highlight (if you can call it that) was listening to the Jays shit the bed against the Yankees again, this time blowing a ninth-inning lead due to a balk and then losing in extras. The one bright spot was Jeff getting through to the postgame JaysTalk with Mike Wilner. As I said before, Jeff is about as positive a Jays fan as there is, and thus it can be said that the views he expressed on the air did not exactly match the opinions of the seven other guys. Jeff: "You know, I love the Jays and I want them to be better, and I really think they're on the right track and I have a lot of faith, but I'm just not 100 percent sure about the direction they're taking." Us: "The team is a pile of suck that should be blown up and started over."

So that was Ball Trip '07. As always, thanks to my fellow travelers for a fantastic time. We're already planning a return to New York in 2010 once new Yankee Stadium and new Shea are built, plus a side trip up to Boston and Fenway. But as for next year, a Philly-Baltimore-Washington trek is looking pretty good. Stay tuned for our tour of the White House and more George W. Bush jokes than you can fit into a hat. An army-themed Mets hat, that is.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pizza Pizza pizza pizza pizza ad nauseum

As I sit here trying to type and point a slice into my mouth at the same time, I can't help but wonder how Pizza Pizza got its name. The roommates decided to order a pizza tonight, and I was put in charge of ordering. I asked them if they wanted some 'Pizza Pizza pizza,' and since they're British and not totally up on our bizarre Canadian chains, their reaction was "Huh?" It truly is an absurd name for a pizzaria. Have you ever heard of an auto dealership called Cars Cars? A haberdashery called Hats Hats? An engineering firm specializing in battleships called Battleships Battleships? It just gets confusing.

Fun fact: Little Caesars can't use its 'Pizza pizza!' catchphrase in Ontario due to Pizza Pizza's trademark. I can understand this logic. This is like if the makers of the game Battleship sued Battleships Battleships, or if McDonald's started an ad campaign for the Big Mac calling it the burger king, complete with a little crown and scepter. My pal Kyle once wrote a hilarious letter printed in the London Free Press about how an obituary for Wendy's founder Dave Thomas was titled something like "Burger king missed by many." Kyle pointed out the incongruity of including one of Thomas' biggest rivals in his obit title, and compared it to a headline of "Penny saver passes away" if a thrifty Freeps editor died.

Aside from the many tasty meals I've had as its establishments, my favourite Pizza Pizza moment happened during a Super Bowl party years ago. I'm known as being something of a hog when I eat, and thus to limit the trips I need to make off the couch, I just decided to take all of my four alloted slices in one trip. Bryan, the host of the party, warned about possibly spilling a slice, but I pooh-poohed him...and then promptly dropped a slice. I picked up the slice before the five-second rule elapsed and took some ribbing from the guys...and then dropped the slice again. Laughter ensued, except from Bryan who was worried about his carpet. I think this was the same Super Bowl where my pal Dave took $10 to accept a leaping headbutt to the groin from me (long story), so fortunately my pizza antics were soon forgotten.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Alterna-Emmys

Boy, I'm watching less and less TV. Or, just less and less quality TV. Either that, or the Emmys are doing a better jobs of nomination (no, that can't be it). Putting together my list of the alterna-Emmys was actually pretty difficult. The rules are, of course, that I can only nominate shows/actors that weren't actually nominated and are realistic options. For example, as much as I'd love to toss Trailer Park Boys in here, I don't even think it's eligible for the Emmys.

Desperate Housewives
My Name Is Earl
The Simpsons

I'm baffled at the lack of love shown to My Name Is Earl. Jaime Pressly looks like she'll become a nominated staple for the length of the show's run (as well she should), but the show itself is absolutely one of the best five comedies on TV. Do the producers of the Simpsons just not bother submitting the show for Best Comedy, and are merely content with dominating the Animated category? I can't help but think that if Simpsons actually got nominated, it could gather momentum and win as sort of a lifetime achievement award. It would be sort of like how Star Trek: Next Generation got nominated for best drama in its final season in a respect vote --- it had no chance of winning due to the sci-fi bias, but hell, everyone in Hollywood has worked on the Simpsons at one time or another. Surely it could muster a number of votes. Any of these shows could've gotten the last nominated spot over Two And A Half Men, which was just...inexplicable.

Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl

See the earlier comments about MNIE. Lee's two years worth of snubs is hard to figure out. He's turned himself into a real underdog. In a related story, Underdog is released on August 3.

Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives

I'm slotting Desperate Housewives in this category just because it keeps being nominated as a comedy in spite of the fact that it has far more dramatic elements to it. DH and Boston Legal could easily just be switched in the comedy/drama categories. It's also tough in DH's case because of the four leads, Cross and Huffman are better at drama, and Hatcher and Longoria are better at comedy. Huffman is the only one that has gotten consistent nomination love, while Marcia Cross (who arguably does a better job with an arguably more complex character) has been forgotten. I can understand Hatcher's exclusion if the rumours of her being a grade-A nightmare on the set are true.

John Krasinski, The Office
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
John C. McGinley, Scrubs
Kyle McLachlan, Desperate Housewives
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Ethan Suplee, My Name Is Earl

Nominations in this category are like slots on the Supreme Court. Once you're established in the category, you generally remain for years until your show goes off the air. For example, when Raymond went off the air, Peter Boyle and Brad Garrett's slots were suddenly up for grabs, which made room for Will Arnett and Bryan Cranston last year. Both of their shows, ironically, were then cancelled, along with Will & Grace, which put to end to Sean Hayes' reign in the category. The result is a lot of well-deserved new blood (Neil Patrick Harris, Rainn Wilson, Kevin Dillon) being recognized, but there are still loads of good actors who have yet to break into the category. Just look at those six names I suggested -- that could've been the nominated list proper, and I don't think anyone would've been too outraged unless you're a big Entourage fan. I love the 30 Rock actors so much I want to take them behind the middle school and get them pregnant. Kyle McLachlan's performance was so good that the producers of the show were forced to alter their storyline in order to keep him on the show and to somewhat excuse his character's shady behaviour. Suplee, Krasinski and McGinley are all uniformly hilarious and a million times better than friggin' Jon Cryer. Seriously, am I just missing something about Two And A Half Men? It has no critical buzz, no industry buzz, and yet it has racked up the noms in the last two years.

Sarah Chalke, Scrubs
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives

Due to Hollywod scuttlebutt, Jane Krakowski's inclusion in 30 Rock came about due to the fact that NBC didn't think Rachel Dratch (who was originally slated to play the role) was telegenic enough. I'd be more upset about this if a) it wasn't true and b) if Krakowski wasn't perfect as the air-headed star of the TGS With Tracy Jordan. Frankly, I don't think Dratch is enough of an actress to play a regular character --- she's better suited to her oddball cameos.

Veronica Mars

Well, you knew this was coming. Lost didn't even get fucking NOMINATED? Seriously Emmys, what the hell. It was neglected in favour of Boston Legal (a comedy), Grey's Anatomy (which is a glorified soap opera), Heroes (which I haven't even seen but I'm already hating by proxy of it sounding like a second-rate rehash of 20-year-old X-Men comics), House ("Oh look, here's a mysterious illness! Can you figure it out, Dr. House?" "Snarky comment." "Wait, but you can't do that, that might kill the patient! And it isn't ethical!" "Snarky comment." "Wow, the patient is safe. Nice work, Dr. House!") and the Sopranos. It's pretty clear Sopranos will win in its last season, but man, toss Lost a frickin' bone.

Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars

On the bright side, she's still gorgeous. Bell can join Lucy Lawless, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lauren Graham in the "actress in critically acclaimed show that was never ever nominated" Hall of Fame.

Matthew Perry, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Amidst the wreckage that was Studio 60's late, lamented run on network television, the one consistent on the show was Matt Perry's outstanding performance. It was 99-percent free of Chandler mannerisms and it isn't too much to say that without Perry as an anchor, the show wouldn't have gotten as much leeway as it did. Every time Perry was on the screen, you could see the potential that laid within Studio 60 that never quite came to the forefront.

Candice Bergen, Boston Legal
Yunjin Kim, Lost
Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost

For those of you unfamiliar with Emmy voting procedures, how it works is that each actor submits an episode to be considered for nomination. This isn't the ideal way of nominating people (any actor can have one standout episode and mail it in the rest of the season), but given that voters can't be expected to watch entire seasons of several dozen different shows, it's the best method the Emmys have available to them. Elizabeth Mitchell's submitted episode was One Of Us, and I cannot fathom how anyone --- even someone who's never seen Lost before --- could watch that episode and not think she deserved a nomination. The same with Yunjin Kim, who was outstanding in either of her two feature episodes this season on Lost. Surely a couple of the Grey's brigade could've been omitted. Does Chandra Wilson do anything besides make a couple of snarky comments per episode?

Powers Boothe, 24
Henry Ian Cusick, Lost
Josh Holloway, Lost
Steven Weber, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Aside from Perry, Steven Weber was the highlight of Studio 60. Hindsight is 20-20, but what Aaron Sorkin should've done is focus the show at the network, which would've given him more of an avenue to explore the politics and social issues he holds so dear. Weber's storyline about facing off against the FCC was way more interesting than the somewhat predictable antics of the sketch show. Powers Boothe was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise brutal season of 24. Holloway and Cusick were both fantastic, and it took some temptation to not throw in nearly the entire Lost male cast. Lost got some love with nominations for Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson, and in a perfect world, one of them would win. I think the upcoming Sopranos sweep will give it to Michael Imperioli, or (if the universe really hates me) T.R. Knight will win in some sort of bullshit P.C. apology for Isaiah Washington.

So, early predictions on the actual awards. Sopranos wins best drama, best actor (Gandolfini), best actress (Falco) and supporting actor (Imperioli) as a going-away present. At least once during the Emmy ceremony is there a joke black screen as Steve Perry's music starts playing. Sandra Oh wins best dramatic actress, as well as the award for ugly actress that most people think is pretty for some reason. The Office repeats as best comedy, and Steve Carell picks up the best actor award. Best supporting actress is between Jenna Fischer or Vanessa Williams, supporting actor is a Piven repeat and best actress will almost certainly go to America Ferrera. I also predict an Emmy for Justin Timberlake's legendary "Dick in a Box," which was nominated in the outstanding music and lyrics category. Hopefully Tony Bennett wins the individual performance in a variety series or special, for no other reason than to give Stephen Colbert another year of material after the Barry Manilow win last year. Simpsons wins the animated award again after South Park's Warcraft episode goes over the heads of the older Emmy voters. One of David Chase's episodes wins the dramatic writing award, and I think Tina Fey's episode of 30 Rock wins the comic writing award. That was a particularly tough one to call, but that episode (Tracy Does Conan) featured the debuts of both the Rural Juror and the debut of Dr. Spaceman. That's a hell of a double play.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

If It's Not Scottish, It's CRAP

The baseball trip is over, and the Great American Posting Bash can commence. I'll have a big post about the trip ready in a day or two, once I get a bit of time to look back and collect my thoughts. This post will have it all --- sports, comedy, celebrity encounters, wistfulness, and much more. I may even provide a few pictures if I get them from my tripmates in time. I really need to break down and get a camera one of these days. I used to take pictures all the time back in my student newspaper days. I once took a shot of the world longest nipple-hair record holder and a fellow editor shirtless and comparing their respective chesticular strands. For the record, I wasn't shirtless during this photo shoot. Was I pantsless? I plead the fifth.

But in the meantime, I'm turning my attention to another sport. The British Open begins today, and while I love the Open, this year will be particularly interesting due to the venue. Carnoustie. a.k.a. Car-nasty. a.k.a. Potentially The Hardest Course In The World. I say 'potentially,' since the R&A seem to have decided that the 1999 British Open (the last one played at Carnoustie) was too difficult and have listened to too many complaints from the players over the last seven years. Ergo, the R&A are going out of their way to make sure Carnoustie is more 'fair' this time around, with wider fairways and rough that isn't deep enough to lose a midget.


I'm not one to jump on the 'major championships should be a grueling chore for the golfers' bandwagon. The U.S. Open is becoming increasingly less fun to watch each year as it is devolves into a contest to see who can swim underneath an outhouse and surface with the least amount of feces attached to them. The barons of Augusta National are toughening up the Masters to remove the course's ability to surrender those three or four-birdie rushes that made past tournaments so exciting. Only the PGA Championship remains as a major where more than a few players might actually get into the red numbers.

But the Open Championship is different. For one, Carnoustie is difficult because the course itself is naturally very difficult. It isn't like one of these U.S. Open courses like Winged Foot or Oakmont where you have a pretty tough course and then the USGA swoops in to turn it into a near-death experience. You could leave Carnoustie alone and it would still be a tough challenge on its best day. It only becomes easier if the effort is consciously made to make it easier, and if the R&A does that, it is removing bullets from the most dangerous weapon left in its arsenal. The Open rota is far from being the toughest challenge to the modern golfer. St. George's, Birkdale and Muirfield still have some teeth to them, but only if the weather acts up. Troon, Turnberry, Hoylake, St. Andrews and Lytham are all on the verge of being overwhelmed unless those particular course-keepers get more creative in making the courses into more of a test. Carnoustie is the last bastion of the truly difficult Open venue. Winged Foot and Oakmont think they're tough with their +5 and +6 scores? Ha! Carnoustie had a +6 winner in Paul Lawrie in 1999, and that was before it was even fashionable. That tournament was fun to watch because unlike the U.S. Open slogs, it was the course and weather that was doing the beating, not an overzealous groundskeeping crew. It took two days for anyone to shoot under par. Sergio Garcia left the 18th green literally in tears after missing the cut by approximately 230 shots. Rod Pampling was the first-round leader and he ended up missing the cut. It was awesomely chaotic. Jean Van de Velde's historic collapse on the 72nd hole seemed less stunning than it was fitting to such a bizarre tournament.

Now, apparently the trouble in 1999 was that extra-wet weather in the spring had made the rough grow just unforgivably thick. Perhaps in the interest of protecting nervous breakdowns, the R&A can make sure that nothing ridiculous happens to the course. The goal should be to make sure Carnoustie remains at its baseline of difficulty, rather than having nature conspire to make things just too outside the pale. But any talk of making it easier or less demanding should be forbidden. To paraphase Leo McGarry, let Carnoustie be Carnoustie. I don't want to read an article about Phil Mickelson playing a practice round and Carnoustie and gushing about how 'he didn't know what a great course this was.' I want to read an article about how Phil is whining about how he doesn't know if his bad wrist will hold up under such harsh conditions, and he'll have to take another few weeks off to rehab it by lifting burgers to his mouth.

Now, onto the Open picks. Tiger Woods. That is all. He's won the last two Opens, he finished in the top 10 at the last Carnoustie Open and he's got to be kind of pissed off after finishing second in the last two majors. I have to love how sportswriters interpreted those last two finishes as Tiger being 'off his game,' or perhaps 'missing his killer instinct.' Haven't sportswriters figured out yet that there is never anything wrong with Tiger Woods and he's just much, much, much better than any other golfer? Maybe he was a little distracted since he had a baby on the way. Woods is the massive favourite to win this week. And if he doesn't win, then he still has a chance to become the first man to finish second at all four majors in the same year. That'd be one for the history books.

Other possible picks include Justin Rose (playing as well as anyone, a Brit has to win this tourney again one of these years), Jim Furyk (has done everything but win this year, his grinding style can work well at Carnoustie), Lucas Glover (the sort of semi-anonymous American pro who has done well in British Opens as of late, as USAers have won all but two of the last 12 Opens) and Paul Lawrie (ok, no chance, but the poor schmuck deserves a chance to actually bask in the glory of being Open champion, rather than being known as the guy who was handed a major by a zany Frenchman).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Greatest Hits

Well, the Great American Posting Bash is about to go on hiatus for my annual baseball road trip with the boys. There are eight (!) of us going this year, and our destination is none other than the Big Apple itself, the city so nice they named it twice, New York City, New York. A fuller report will be made available afterwards, hopefully with more comical stories about homeless people mistaking me for 70's TV stars.

In the interim, today's post is a simple reminder that I've been posting daily for the past week, so take a gander at the past GAPB entries. Also, I'm in the process of tagging part posts with labels to make them easier to search, but it's a real pain in the ass. Some of my posts tend to be, shall we say, stream of consciousness, and I cover many topics. In one of these posts, I may talk about baseball, movies, Lost and all sorts of random nonsense. So which is the most fitting label -- baseball, movies, Lost or random nonsense?

Jeff Spicoli: Make up your mind, dude, is he gonna shit or is he gonna kill us?

So what I'm doing is going through every post and just sticking numerous tags on each. It's pretty time-consuming, so I may not finish this little project until about, oh, 2011. But I figured hey, since I'm already plugging past material, why not single out a few posts that I particularly enjoyed writing from the past two (!) years of my blog?

Sorry about the lack of direct links. For some reason, the link-maker in my blog dashboard isn't working properly. Just cut-and-paste into the address bar at your leisure.

* With Bob Barker's recent retirement, this post is perhaps more timely than ever. Saints be praised that Rosie O'Donnell didn't get hired as the new Price is Right host. Apparently her idea was to 'Broadway it up' with elaborate music numbers, dancers in leotards, etc. Someone at CBS apparently realized that a week's worth of buzz and ratings wouldn't make up for Price Is Right losing 75% of its audience for good.

* My memorium to my lost toque. Like a true idiot, I found the toque the next day. I imagine this is what the guy who wrote Jesus' obituary for the Bethlehem Gazette felt like.

* I attend two amazing concerts and get shot down for a date in the span of five days. Busy as a bee.

* A random collection of things I saw on Front Street in Toronto. It's like a shorter, pithier version of Ulysses with more references to the Trailer Park Boys.

* The following are the few, the proud, and the posts that have garnered the most responses in blog history. Of course, some of these responses came from both myself and from automated advertising bots, but, well, I have no point here. The first post was a series of short book reviews, the second is just all kinds of random junk. The final post is the grand champion, with a jaw-dropping NINE responses. In a related story, nobody reads this blog. This one was all about such topics as Arrested Development, James Marsters and even Christopher Reeve. Quick tasteless joke: what's the opposite of Christopher Reeve? Christopher Walken.

* A nice little look back at the most important day of my pop culture life.

* Well hell, why not last year's baseball trip recap? My quest for a Molitor throwback jersey continues to this day.

* Another baseball-related trip post, this one about attending a Jays/Tigers game in 2005. Who would've known then that the shitty ol' Tigers would win the pennant the next season? I say shitty in a comical sense, given how they beat Toronto by the cartoonish score of 17-6.

* I recently wrote the second part of my 56234-part series about Facebook. Here is part one.

* This one is kind of interesting, and bound to spur some discussion and/or psychoanalysis of me. It's my response to a meme about which fictional characters I'd sleep with. All women, no worries.

* One of my favourite posts because it was just such a totally random thing to come across. I don't even think I needed to write anything -- I could've just copied the segment from the FAQ and been done with it.

* What if Jesus Christ played baseball? I know what you're thinking: "That already happened Mark, he just used the name Roy Halladay."

* My two-part March Madness primer that had nothing at all to do with ranking basketball ability. It was the longest thing I ever wrote until....

* ....the Lost post. Man, this just kept going.

* And finally, my look at Encyclopedia Brown that attempted to suck the fun out of people's beloved childhood memories of reading the books.

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Notice!

The word came today that Rickey Henderson has accepted a coaching job with the Mets, and thus he may actually be officially retiring. Come on, Rickey! You're only 48! Hell, if Julio Franco is still going (and on the Mets, even), you can surely still get some juice out of those legs. Put off that Hall of Fame induction for a few more years! I fully expect Rickey to be pestering Willie Randolph daily to be added to the official roster.

This could've been a beef 10 years ago, but it still stands today. I was driving down the 403 today and some clown is holding up traffic in the fast lane because he's chatting on his phone. Phone driving is bad enough in the city, but on the damn highway going 120??

I'm actually pretty satisifed with life right now, which is why something as mundane as this is on the list. Of all the foot-related evolutionary steps I'm looking forward to in the next several centuries (and believe me, I've considered many of them), the loss of our toenails is at the top of the list.

I was in Ottawa during Canada Day weekend, but rather than talk about our nation's birthday, I'll talk about two Lynx games I attended. The Lynx are moving to Allentown next season, but for all intents and purposes, they've left already. Attendance was maybe 1,000 people per game -- on a Saturday and Sunday no less. The team is the AAA affiliate of the Phillies, and with so much of the Phils' young talent already in the bigs, the cupboard is pretty bare down on the farm. The Lynx lost 2-0 and 12-1 in the two games, and looked honest to God like the worst ball club on earth. Furthermore, the stadium experience was limited at best. Two ushers (one of whom looked like Stockwell Day) were just a wee bit too aggressive in telling people they couldn't move down to closer seats. Yeah, since god forbid someone with one of the $7 tickets should move down to the extravagent $9 seat area that was 50% empty. The team mascot, Scratch, entered the stadium to the tune of 'Cat Scratch Fever,' but the music unfortunately cut off before the Nuge could sing the lyric about 'making a pussy purr.' Probably a good move for an audience with a lot of children.

The most frustrating kind of weather in the books. Too hot to wear a jacket, yet you're being soaked by an impromptu cloudburst. Make up your mind, planet earth!

So you're Paramount Studios. You're getting a ton of buzz about J.J. Abrams' upcoming project (known only as Cloverfield) thanks to a cryptic trailer that aired before Transformers. How do you deal with the publicity generated by this cool new viral marketing? By ordering YouTube to remove the trailer from its site. Way to be current in the modern age, Paramount. By the way, there's been a lot of jokes about what exactly 'Cloverfield' is. Some say it's a new Godzilla movie, maybe some other kind of monster film, or even a Lost movie. The theory there is that the film is written by Lost writer Drew Goddard, produced by Abrams and it comes out on January 18, just a few weeks before Lost's fourth season premieres. I think these theories are on the right track, but they've got the wrong JJ Abrams show. It's not the Lost smoke monster that's terrorizing New's Felicity's old hair.

With the Toronto Indy now past, the bleachers and concrete dividers that were temporarily erected on the race course on Lakeshore Boulevard and the CNE have been mostly taken down. Boooo. It made me feel like I was a modern-day Scott Goodyear, rather than some schmuck in a Toyota Echo on a mundane spin down Lakeshore.

They've got a new album out (Zeitgeist), but there are three different versions of it available in North America. Each has the same core 10-11 tracks, but each has a different bonus song. The catch is that one is available at Best Buy, the other at iTunes, and the other at Target. I don't know if this is a record company thing or a Pumpkins thing, but it's pretty lame. This won't stop me, by the way, from buying the album. Tarantula sounds awesome. But still, this never would've happened if James Iha and D'Arcy were still alive.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


IMDB on Friday....

Hollywood pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are writing their first screenplay together since 1997 hit Good Will Hunting. The pair were unknowns when they wrote and starred in the critically lauded movie, which won them an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1998. Since their success they have mostly gone their separate ways, with Affleck starring in blockbuster Armageddon and Damon in The Bourne Identity and its sequels. They are currently enjoying a joint holiday with their families in Hawaii - but are finally keen to team up again. Damon's spokesperson tells the New York Daily News, "That's their plan. Whether or not they are doing it right now, I don't know."

A hotel room, Honolulu. A double bed sits in the center of the room. There is a small laptop on a table. A balcony overlooks a brilliant ocean view.

Ben Affleck enters carrying a bottle of rum. He flops down on the bed while Matt Damon follows behind carrying a laptop bag. Damon sits down at the table and takes out the laptop.

BEN: Do you like pina coladas? And dancing in the rain?!

MATT: You don't have any pineapple juice. And those aren't the lyrics.

BEN: I'm on vacation! Lyrics don't matter. Lighten up, Bagger Vance.

MATT: For the 1000th time, Will Smith was Bagger Vance.

BEN: Did I ever tell you about the time I met Will Smith? Great guy, worked with him on Jersey Girl. You ever met him?

MATT: We were both in Bagger Vance!

BEN: Oh, right.

MATT: Now are we going to talk about movie stars we've met, or are we going to get some work done, like you promised?

BEN: Work! You bet, dude! Luciana and Jen have the kids for the afternoon, so it's four hours of straight-up scriptwriting. Let's get to it!

MATT: That's the spirit. Okay, page one, scene one, line one.

BEN: "That's the biggest waffle I've ever seen!"

MATT: ....Um, what?

BEN: That should be the first line. It gets people's attention. Someone says something about a big waffle, I know I'm turning my head to look.

MATT: We haven't even though up a premise yet.

BEN: Yeah, but that waffle line can go anywhere.

MATT: Anywhere.

BEN (hesitantly): Sure.

MATT: Ok, it's a movie about a presidential assassination. How does it start with "That's the biggest waffle I've ever seen!"

-----Ben sits in deep thought for 45 seconds while Matt drums his fingers on the desk-----

BEN: The president is eating his breakfast. Someone yells out "That's the biggest waffle I've ever seen!" President turns to look, he gets shot in the head. You see, the assassin was just lying about the waffle.

MATT: That's actually a somewhat reasonable answer. Stupid, but reasonable.

BEN: That's my motto, stupid but reasonable!

MATT: Seriously, what should the script be about? This was your idea in the first place.

BEN: Yeah man, Matt and Ben, back together, pounding at the keys like old times. Thunder and lightning!

MATT: Who calls us thunder and lightning?

BEN: Uh....Will Smith.

MATT: I give up, I'm playing solitaire.

BEN: Wait! I'll be good, I promise. Just give me a second here....a good premise, a good premise....Ok, Good Will Hunting was big because it was real, you know? Like, we grew up in Southie and people could tell, right? So we should do something from our personal experience again.

MATT: That's a good idea.

BEN: We should try for that kind of Good Will Hunting realism, or that Daredevil realism.

MATT: For the last time, hanging out with blind guys while preparing for Daredevil doesn't make you a method actor.

BEN: Sez you. I made enough bucks selling pencils to buy a new watch.

MATT: Could we focus here? The Daredevil nonsense aside, I like the idea of a script based on our own experiences. I guess the only problem is that 10 years ago, we were a couple of struggling actors with real-life experiences that people could relate to. Since then we've been living the life of Hollywood megastars. We could write true-to-life dialogue about, say, chatting with George Clooney, but I dunno if people will want to watch that.

BEN: Yeah, especially not with Clooney. (crosses arms)

MATT: Are we going to get into this again? I don't like Clooney more than I like you. He's just a buddy, a good buddy. You're my best pal.

BEN: I don't believe it.

MATT (deep sigh): You're my best pal in the whole wide world with a cherry on top.

---Ben throws the rum bottle against the wall-----

BEN: Woo-hoo! That's the spirit! Thunder and lightning, together again! Hey, that was actually clever, "that's the spirit." And I threw a bottle of spirits into the wall! Put that in the script! Oh damn, wait, I'm out of rum. I'll be right back.

-----Ben leaves. Matt sighs and picks up a cell phone.-----

MATT: Yes, this is Matt Damon calling for William Goldman. He'll know what it's about.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

MLB All-Star Game LiveBlog

One of the joys of now owning a laptop is that I can finally do a running blog. I have overcome the tyranny of having a PC in a separate room as my TV. What better way to bust out my inner Bill Simmons than to liveblog the Midsummer Classic? Live from San Francisco, it's the MLB All-Star Game! And this time (like the last four times), it counts.

8:00 -- The game opens with a patented lame Fox voiceover comparing actual stars and fulfilling your dreams, blah blah. It is partly narrated by some of the players doing the one line on-one line off gimmick. It suddenly dawns on me what I couldn't recognize most of baseball's stars if I passed them on the street. Some guys I met last year at work, but for many (the NL guys, mostly) I'm clueless. And I consider myself a big baseball fan. Yikes.

8:03 -- Nobody on TV has as consistently bad hair over the years as Jeannie Zelasko. How has Kevin Kennedy remained employed over the year? Most coaches or managers in broadcasting have some kind of championship pedigree -- Jimmy Johnson has Super Bowls, Lou Piniella has a World Series, and even Barry Melrose have had some playoff success. Kennedy has one division title to his credit (in 1995 with Boston, who were then promptly swept out of the first round) in four years of managing. It could be that he's kept his job because he's a good, that isn't it.

8:04 -- Eric Byrnes and his dog are out in a canoe in McCovey Cove. Poor guy -- by all rights he should've been named to the team, but was one of the most notable snubs of either league. Now, instead of playing in the game (or, conceivably, at least getting a few days off to spend with his family), he gets to go to San Francisco, listen to everyone give him backhanded compliments about being snubbed, and now gets to spend the ASG in a canoe. The only thing lower than his feelings right now is his second-half batting average.

8:06 -- Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter are talking to Willie Mays. This is actually pretty cool. Two of the greatest defensive players ever and Derek Jeter. I guess Fox was going for the 'icon' meeting, rather than the 'great center fielders' meeting. They should've had Ichiro in there.

Ichiro: Don't you guys hate Cleveland? Did it not bother you, Mr. Mays, when that Willie Mays Hayes person played for the hated Indians?
Mays: Uh, Ichiro, that was a movie.

8:10 -- Karros says Willie Mays is the 'first complete player,' with power, speed and defense. Uh, really? The first ever in the previous 70+ years of professional baseball? It can certainly be argued that Mays is the best of the five-tool players, but he wasn't the first, per se. Ty Cobb, for example, could run, hit for average and beat crippled fans in the stands. Top that, Mays.

8:11 -- Some guy is hitting off a tee in some kind of contest to win a million bucks. I was talking to my roommate about the merits of living in Calgary or Vancouver during the rules explanation, so I have no idea what's going on. Apparently the guy has failed horribly, and as penance will be urinated on by the Taco Bell chihuahua.

8:12 -- A Homer Simpson ASG promo just aired and the less said about it the better. The highlight was Homer citing C.C. Sabathia, Prince Fielder and David Ortiz as huge fatasses. I can't believe that there are still two players from the legendary Simpsons softball episode still in the majors. Griffey sure, since he was a young guy when that episode aired, but Roger Clemens. My God. I'm thinking a hypnotist actually did get ahold of him and convince him he's 27. And a douchebag.

8:16 -- Ha, Ron Washington is an AS coach? The Rangers are 38-50. Nice pick, Leyland.

8:18 -- Victor Martinez has his kid with him during the introductions. The boy isn't morbidly obese like Mark McGwire's boy or being tossed into the field of play like Dusty Baker's boy, so I can't really make fun. C.C. Sabathia is up next, and looks appropriately angered about being called a fat guy by Homer Simpson.

8:20 -- I think this is one of the least-controversial AS selection years in recent memory. Each season seems to have a few guys who are blatantly snubbed, but there are a lot fewer than usual this year. Good work from Leyland and LaRussa in picking the backup roster and to the fans for voting in relatively few dogs.

8:22 -- Carlos Lee is caught saying 'Oh shit,' just before the Dodgers contingent is introduced. The boos rain down from the San Francisco crowd. I love the tradition of the home fans ripping on their club's rival players. Poor Takeshi Saito looked like he didn't get the memo. He tipped his cap and did a little bow, but looked shell-shocked.

8:25 -- While there are fewer undeserving All-Stars this season, there are still the traditional slate of guys who are already starting to come back to earth after hot starts. If you have JJ Hardy or Dan Haren on your fantasy team, you're doing your damndest to sell high right now.

8:28 -- How is Prince Fielder's uniform too big for him? What size is that thing, XXXXXXL?

8:32 -- Chris Issak is singing the American anthem? Wow. Is he really the best-known San Francisco musician that Fox could dig up? This will require a Google search.

8:35 -- Now comes the onfield tribute to Willie Mays. This is one of the highlights of every ASG, and ol' Willie still looks in pretty good shape, unlike half-frozen Ted Williams in 1999. Willie throws the ceremonial first pitch from center field, and unfortunately they have a plate set up about halfway to second base. I thought for a moment that Willie was going to uncork one from center like in the olden days, which would've been just about the greatest moment in baseball history.

8:39 -- Willie is leaving the field in....a pink cadillac?! "I've got long sideburns/And my hair slicked back/I'm gonna do your town in my pink cadillac/I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)/I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (he's a Honky Tonk Man)/I'm just a Honky Tonk Man/I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad." Actually, forget that throw from center. If Willie had broken a guitar over Barry Bonds' head, THAT would've been the greatest moment in baseball history.

8:40 -- I can't wait for the All-Star Game in Tampa Bay so the Devil Rays fans can pay tribute to their living legend, Aubrey Huff.

8:46 -- Byrnes is out in the cove, just hating life. I didn't realize he was a San Francisco native. That just makes his snub even more humiliating. But that's okay, he gets to spend four years in a kayak with his bulldog and surrounded by a number of other drunken kayakers. Good times.

8:51 -- Cal Ripken Jr. and his increasingly egg-shaped body is reading the AL All-Star lineup and fumbling around. He's throwing in a few comments on a few players, but let's just say that Colin Mochrie won't be up at nights thinking about Cal's improv skills. Actually, Cal is starting to look like Colin Mochrie nowadays.

8:52 -- Ozzie Smith reads the NL lineup and does it a hundred times more smoothly. Eat it, Iron Man.

8:54 -- The game is on! The pregame ceremony is over, so see you later, folks!....ok fine, I'll keep it going. Ichiro gets a leadoff single, so the dream of a double perfect game is dead for another day.

8:56 -- "To me, Peavy is the nastiest starter the National League could've put out there tonight," says Joe Buck. I don't know about that. What about Norm Charlton? Or Rob Dibble? Or Randy Myers?

8:58 -- You know it's an exhibition game when Jeter grounds into a double play that it looks like he beat out, and Buck/McCarver don't say boo about it. If it had been a regular season game or the playoffs, Buck and McCarver would've gone wild over the injustice foisted upon their boyfriend, Baseball Icon And Symbol Of Everything That Is Good In The Game Derek Jeter.

9:00 -- Prince Fielder makes an error that allows David Ortiz to reach first. If Fielder had been in better shape, he could've made that play. Homer was right!

9:01 -- David Wright makes a diving stop and throws out Ortiz at second. Oh boy, maybe this will start another David Wright slobberfest from Buck/McCarver like last year's ASG turned into. Let me know now so I can stick my head in the oven.

9:06 -- Bonds gets his first AB, and pops out to right. Already the white-washing is beginning -- Buck is all like, "Say what you will about the steroid controversy, and the BALCO case, but Bonds is a great player." Great, so was Shoeless Joe.

9:09 -- They show a replay of Carlos Beltran making a great catch last Saturday in Houston. It was not unlike Willie Mays' great catch in the 1954 Series, except Beltran had to run up that ridiculous hill in center at Minute Maid Park. Still can't figure out how that one got included in the design.

9:11 -- Griffey singles and drives in Jose Reyes to give the NL a 1-0 lead. Reds fans everywhere hold their breath as Griffey runs to first, but he makes it there without any injuries to his hamstring, knee, shin or foot.

9:16 -- Remember how about I was saying earlier about guys coming back to earth? Brad Penny hasn't started falling yet, but it's coming. He started last year's ASG, but had a craptacular second half that almost cost the Dodgers the division title.

9:19 -- And Penny sets down the AL side in order. Uh, he's falling apart! I swear!

9:23 -- Fox has a feature piece on Prince Fielder. No mention of that first-inning error, or how he hates his father Cecil. Not just 'estranged,' but actually

9:25 -- Tim McCarver had never heard the word 'busker' before reading it in a recent story about Russ Martin in Sports Illustrated. He then spends the next minute describing what a busker is, since the rest of the civilized world needs to be re-informed or something we already know. Thanks, Tim. He doesn't know what a busker is, but two seconds later, when Buck asks him how many stolen bases he ever had in a season, he instantly answers 'thirteen.' Maybe McCarver has been a great analyst all along, but Buck just hasn't been asking him enough questions about himself.

9:26 -- It gets better. According to, McCarver's season high in steals was nine in 1966. Don't worry folks -- McCarver still doesn't know what he's talking about.

9:34: In-game interview with Haren, who said he was so nervous he could barely keep down a meal all day. Sounds like Nicole Ritchie! (rim shot) Is anyone else excited about her pregnancy? How big do you think he'll balloon up to? 115 pounds? 120? Maybe she'll become a real porker and break the 125 mark.

9:36 -- Ichiro gets an end-ot-the-bat single that he bloops into left field. I love Ichiro. Buck/McCarver are raving about it, and for once I don't mind.

9:37 -- Ken Rosenthal reports that Ichiro is on the verge of re-signing with the Mariners. Put away that chequebook, J.P. Ricciardi. I'm sure there's another injury-prone starter that you can sign and then brow-beat.

9:42 -- Jose Reyes hits a grounder that takes an odd hop in front of A-Rod, who then stands there and watches the ball carom away from him. Air....tight....defense. I wonder how history would've differed had Jeter been moved to third when Rodriguez came to New York. Maybe Jeter would've made a crucial error that would've cost the Yankees a playoff series, and then he'd be the target of Yankee Stadium boo-birds while A-Rod would be the golden boy.

9:44 -- They're doing an in-game interview with Jim Leyland, who sounds less enthused than any human being has ever been about anything. After no-selling two of Buck's jokes, Leyland finally lightens up and says he wants to pitch J.J. Putz six innings tonight since the Tigers play the Mariners after the break. Rim shot? It will take a huge effort for La Russa to out-dull Leyland, but I'm sure Tony will give it his best shot next inning.

9:46 -- We learn that Josh Beckett, who has made a number of trips to the DL with blister problems in his career, uses 'rodeo ointment' to help his skin. If you're ever at a rodeo and a man in chaps asks you to rub ointment on him, run.

9:51 -- Cole Hamels is in the game for the NL. Fun fact: Hamels is married to Survivor: Amazon contestant and Playboy model Heidi Strobel. Apparently they met when she threw the first pitch at a a minor league game. You've got to love Cole Hamels.

9:53 -- Jose Mota is doing dugout interviews for Fox? Wow. There's a random name from the past. That's even more obscure than Kevin Kennedy. Mota is talking to Bonds, who says that he and A-Rod are friends and part of the ballplayer's fraternity, and hinted that should A-Rod break the career home run record, Bonds would totally be there to watch him do it. Clearly a veiled shot at Hank Aaron, who has said he's not going to follow Bonds around to be there when the record is broken. Who can blame Hank Aaron? I think he should start paying current pitchers to start beaning Bonds with pitches.

9:55 -- Trying to score from second on a Pudge Rodriguez single, A-Rod is thrown out by approximately 100 yards at home by Ken Griffey Jr. Air...tight....baserunning. What the hell was A-Rod doing? I know he has a bad hammy, but even still, just hold up. The announcers are praising Martin's pickup of the ball, but Martin could've dropped the ball and done a Ronaldinho dribbling drill and still would've had enough time to tag out lolly-gagging A-Rod.

10:00 -- The announcers are going on and on about Bonds and how nobody will ever know for sure when and where he took steroids, if he ever did, and how baseball is doing all they can to combat drugs in the game. Hey, there sure is a lot of dust under this rug!

10:07 -- Chris Young went to Princeton? Wow. I wonder if he does crossword puzzles like Stanford boy Mike Mussina. I wonder if Young will curse his team to never win a Series, like Yankee boy Mike Mussina.

10:07 -- Young comes into the game the same time as Derrek Lee, which is kind of awkward since the two got into a semi-fight a couple of weeks ago in Chicago. Young is 6'10, Lee is 6'5, but the fight was awful. It was like seeing two nine-year-old girls get into a slap fight over a Barbie on the playground. If Young really wanted to get revenge, he'd make a "pickoff attempt" that "got away" and clock Lee in the chops.

10:11 -- Eric Byrnes has left his kayak for a boat, and is trying to throw a baseball in the water and make his dog chase it. The dog promptly swims in the direct opposite direction of the baseball. That's great TV.

10:12 -- Fortunately, this nonsense is cut short by Ichiro hitting an inside-the-park home run. He put one off the wall in right-center that took a weird carom and the speedy Ichiro was able to make it all the way around without much trouble. 2-1 American League on the first inside-the-park homer in ASG history. In other stat news, it took Ichiro exactly one-third as long to round the bases as Rance Mulliniks did during his legendary inside-the-park homer for the Jays in 1991. Watching Rance score that homer was like watching a man who has been thrown in the river by the Mafia try to run on the waterbed in spite of the cement block on his feet.

10:18 -- It's La Russa's turn for the in-game interview, and as least he's speaking with 0.02 percent animation in his voice, unlike Leyland.

10:21 -- It's a special one-hour edition of The Season: 07 Jays! According to the ad, the Jays will "begin their quest for October baseball." BWA HA HA HA HA HA

10:26 -- Vladdy Guerrero flies out to Griffey in right. La Russa is really sticking it to Reds fans by keeping Junior out in the field through six innings. There are so many dangerous blades of grass out there and could easily slice a calf muscle.

10:28 -- Carl Crawford knocks a solo shot to make it 3-1, American League. Hold the phone on that Aubrey Huff tribute in Tampa Bay.

10:31 -- Justin Verlander is in the game for the AL. Verlander's claim to fame this season and probably for the rest of his career was throwing a no-hitter last month, but I'll remember the game more for Verlander's hot girlfriend who ran on the field to hug him after the game. Nice work, JV.

10:34 -- Carlos Beltran gets a triple after a long fly takes another weird carom off the wall. What's with these odd bounces all around the park tonight? Griffey avoids being hit with the ball and/or having a meteor hit him and hits a sac fly to score Beltran. 3-2 American League.

Joe: "You know, Junior's career high for home runs in a season is 56. What was your high, Tim?"
Tim: "Forty-nine."
Joe: "Umm...."

10:36 -- McCarver and Buck are talking about how the Yankees and White Sox aren't out of it in the playoff hunt. I beg to differ. If either club makes the playoffs, I will post a picture of myself kissing a Derek Jeter or Jermaine Dye poster.

10:40 -- FOX runs a graphic comparing Russ Martin to Turtle from Entourage. That's kind of insulting -- Russ Martin can act.

10:41 -- It has taken me six innings to figure this out, but the logo cut into the grass in center is a baseball in water. I'm observant. By the way, it's the sixth inning already? For a game that features a million substitutions, this game is flying along.

10:45 -- An amusing clip airs of La Russa reading through the myriad lineup changes to the umpire. My favourite part was when La Russa spelled out Aaron Rowand's name, apparently presuming the umpire is a moron. Good thing that Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn't make the team.

10:49 -- FOX had to work hard to top their pick of Chris Issak for the anthem, but they've done it. Paula Cole is singing God Bless America! Where's Pacey? Amusingly, Cole's keyboardist is taking forever to set up, so we're cutting to several long shots of the ballpark. This is the most embarrassing thing to happen at the ballpark since I walked into the ladies' room at the Rogers Centre last Sunday. I'll explain later.

10:52 -- In terms of seventh inning stretch songs that aren't Take Me Out To The Ballgame, OK Blue Jays > God Bless America.

10:54 -- It's an extra long commercial break for the seventh inning stretch, so I'll explain that ladies' room story now. I'm at the game on Sunday, and after hiking up to the fifth level, I'm a bit sweaty. Ok, not a bit, I'm a regular Niagara Falls. Until you're bald, you just don't realize how much hair acts as an absorbent. Anyway, I had my trusty washcloth (a.k.a. my sweatrag) in my pocket, so I ducked into a bathroom to mop my head. As I'm standing in front of the mirror, a female park employee walks in and quickly leaves. I figure since she's a park employee, she's allowed to be in the men's room. She re-enters a moment later. So I stroll out to find my friends Dave and Ian in hysterics. I figure they're laughing about my use of the sweatrag, so I say, "Sorry for the delay boys, I'm on the rag." Not a bad spur of the moment line, I thought. But it turns out they were just laughing at my cluelessness for strolling into the ladies' room. Sigh. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked -- I could've SWORN that figure on the door wasn't wearing a dress. This would've been a lot less embarrassing if unisex bathrooms were more widely used. Stupid Ally McBeal! Why couldn't you have been more influential?

10:59 -- I feel like I'm jinxing a no-hitter here, but we're through seven innings and Tim McCarver hasn't mentioned Steve Carlton yet. This could be the real-life equivalent of Steve Nebraska's 27-strikeout perfect game in The Scout.

11:03 -- They show a little kid playfully smothering his younger sister in the stands. It's a junior Chris Benoit!

11:03 -- Ouch, too soon?

11:03 -- According to a profile, Big Papi's favourite football team is the Green Bay Packers (yes!) and his favourite hobby is cooking. "If his favourite hobby wasn't cooking, he would be Little Papi!" quips McCarver. Buck doesn't even give him a sympathy laugh and continues on talking about a book Ortiz has written. Silly McCarver! Quips are for Bucks! Stick to what you do best, like stealing, nine bases in a season.

11:06 -- Billy Wagner strikes out Grady Sizemore, and amazingly (in the eighth inning) that's the first K of the night for National League pitchers. We've come a long way from the days of King Carl Hubbell striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin all in a row at the 1934 ASG. I've also been waiting eight innings to bust out that bit of legendary ASG trivia.

11:07 -- V-Mart slams a two-run shot to extend the AL's lead to 5-2. This starts a discussion of Cleveland's pennant chances, and Joe Buck says that now the Tribe have a true #1 pitcher in Sabathia, which they didn't have in their mid-90's runs. Somewhere, a single tear rolls down Charles Nagy's cheek.

11:13 -- Jon Papelbon voted the maximum 25 times for his teammate Hideki Okajima in the MLB online poll. This is an example of that "wonderfully whimsical way about him that makes him a stopper," according to McCarver. Using the internet? Yeah, he's a real Wild Thing Vaughn.

11:14 -- Chase Utley's personality profile includes a note that he likes to dance at weddings. Uh....good?

Tim: I'll have to ask Chase if he limits his dancing to weddings.
Joe: I dunno.


11:24 -- Nowhere close to a save situation for Trevor Hoffman, but he's in the game for the NL. I have to wonder what happens when Hoffman makes a mop-up appearance like this in San Diego. You know, the Pads are losing badly and Hoffman is in just to get some work if he hasn't thrown in a while....does 'Hells Bells' play when he enters the game? That would tend to remove some of the intimidation. "Oh no, Hoffman is in the game, guys! He'll definitely hold us to our six-run lead!"

11:27 -- McCarver is talking about Hoffman when the camera cuts to some fan in an elaborate pirate mask, which gets Tim to crack up. Buck answers with, "You can't squeeze out a salient baseball point while looking at a grotesque pirate from the bottom of the sea?" Actually a pretty funny deadpan line from the Buckster.

11:32 -- A long chat about umpire Bruce Froemming, who is retiring after the season and thus umpiring his last All-Star Game. Almost as if on cue, Froemming is hit by a foul tip. "That doesn't feel good on a cold night," sez Tim. Like being hit by a baseball on a warm night is much better?

11:37 -- The AL is sending J.J. Putz into the game to close things out and make it 10 All-Star Games in a row for the American League. I guess it's technically an 11-year unbeaten streak thanks to that bullshit tie in 2002. If one image sums up Bud Selig, it's him standing with his hands on his hips in his box seat talking to the umps and managers in that game trying to figure out what to do, with boos raining down upon him.

11:42 -- With the NL down to its last strike, the crowd goes....mild. Damn these laid-back San Franciscans. Where's your National League pride?!

11:47 -- After Dmitri Young reaches on a should've-been-an-error grounder that eats up Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano jacks one to make it a 5-4 ballgame! DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK I'VE BEEN HERE FOR YEARS

11:51 -- Putz is yanked after walking J.J. Hardy. Leyland's quip about ruining Putz for the upcoming series may have been prescient. It's time for K-Rod to return to San Francisco after breaking the Giants' hearts in the 2002 World Series.

11:54 -- Hey, Jim Leyland is alive! He's yelling about a fourth ball to Derrek Lee that Lee may have gone around on. I thought he held up, but hey, I'm not a near-comatose manager of the AL champions. Leyland is even madder now since K-Rod just walked Orlando Hudson too, which has loaded the bases. Yikes!

12:00 -- With the bases loaded, two out, his team down by one in the ninth, Aaron "Spell My Name Right, Bitch!" Rowand.....flies out to right. AL wins 5-4, the streak is 10 in a row. Now it's homefield advantage in the Series for the Royals or Devil Rays.

12:05 -- Here's the list of All-Stars that didn't get into the game: Michael Young, Bobby Jenks, John Lackey, Gil Meche, Hideki Okajima, Roy Oswalt, Jose Valverde, Brandon Webb and Albert Pujols. Kind of odd to see Pujols not get in there, but I guess La Russa wanted to give his star a game off. Or, he hurt something the previous day during the Home Run Derby. Sell high, fantasy owners! By the way, I think it's kind of weak whenever a position player doesn't get into the game. The manager can't find a place for a defensive sub or a pinch-hitter? Come on, the guy has made the trip, he may as well make a token appearance.

12:11 -- Ichiro is named game MVP for his 3-for-3 night. Come on, Alex Rios caught the game-ending fly ball! If that's not an MVP performance, I don't know what is!

Well, that concludes this for the live-blogging experiment. Take that, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Or guy from Deadspin. Or a hundred other sports blogs around the world. Hmm, kind of puts it in perspective. How many ASG blogs did you write in your day, Tim?


Boy, if I work hard, this might catch on like saying 'One' when hanging up the phone.