Friday, April 25, 2008


Bruce Springsteen, Glory Days, 1993

Bill Simmons linked to this video a few weeks ago, but god damn, it deserves to be linked again. Bruce goes on David Letterman's last NBC show and just rips shit up with Paul Shaffer's band. This was in 1993, also known as Springsteen's dark ages, so this performance was at least a sign that the Boss could at least still bring it live, if not in the recording studio.

Young @ Heart, Fix You

Young @ Heart are a chorus of old people who sing covers of popular modern songs. That's basically as apt a summation as there can be. A documentary about the group is hitting theatres in the next few months, so be prepared to watch as they're turned into a novelty act on every late-night show in the land. It'll be sort of like when those guys from Standing In The Shadows Of Motown were heavily promoted for three months when the documentary was out and then they faded back into obscurity. Every song that Young @ Heart sings is basically turned into a reflection on life and the inevitability of death, which I guess is part of the joke, but I'd like to see a cover of the Hip's Inevitability of Death. That would make my Irony-Meter explode. Also, Chris Martin --- this is your future.

James Blunt, In A Little While

My favorite item about James Blunt used to be the fact that my pal Dave consistently referred to him as 'Jim Blunt,' like he was a buddy of ours or something. "Yeah, saw Jim Blunt the other day, he's working at a garage now." But now that he has turned in a creditable cover of a massively underrated U2 song, Blunt has a point in my book. In A Little While may end up being one of those songs that will end up being covered by a hundred people until 20 years from now people will be like, "Wow, that's a U2 song?" It'll be like U2's answer to With A Little Help From My Friends. For an even better cover, check out the version performed in 2006 by the Split Infinitives (a.k.a. my friend Aron on guitar and me on vocals). It will be on our first album, Can I Borrow A Feeling. BTW, I have no idea what this Torchwood show is that the actual video images are from. Show about an arsonist?

Talking Heads, Burning Down the House, 1983

On record, this is just a goofy 80's oddity. Live, it's one of the great songs of all time.* Once again folks, Stop Making Sense. Best concert film of all time. I haven't seen the Last Waltz or Scorsese's new documentary about the Stones, but do they have David Byrne and Alex Weir running in place? Hell no.

* = ok, maybe not of all time. Let's not go nuts.

Petra Haden and the Sellouts, Don't Stop Believing, 2007

There were two people in the world who were satisfied by the Sopranos finale. One was David "No, I'm Not Pretentious At All, Why Do You Ask?" Chase. The other was Steve Perry, since Don't Stop Believing suddenly became a big hit again after over two decades. It was already a karaoke night staple and, after Petra Haden got ahold of it, a choral hit as well.

U2, The Electric Co., 1982

I love watching old U2 live performances. It seems like a completely different band. They all have mullets, they're all still shaky on their instruments, Bono is doing crazy stuff like running around and climbing up the lighting equipment just to fire up the crowd, etc. Here's why music is funny --- if you were at this show in 1982, would you think that in 26 years this band would be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles and the Stones as one of the great rock bands of all time?

Jenny Owen Youngs, Hot In Herre

All you really need to be an internet music sensation is one half-decent original tune and one tongue-in-cheek cover. In this case, Jenny Owen Youngs takes Nelly and turns into into a Jann Arden song. It also seems to morph into Oasis about two-third of the way into it. Gawky white people covering rap songs is right up there with root beer, Frasier and Dodger Stadium as things that never fail to entertain.

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello, The Ghost of Tom Joad

Double-shot of the Boss this time in a tribute to Danny Federici, the longtime E Street Band keyboardist who passed away of cancer last week. This version of Tom Joad is from within the last month, as Morello popped up for a couple of shows to join Bruce on this tune. Again, 1990 to about 1998 was a down period for Springsteen. I find the Ghost of Tom Joad album to be near-unlistenable. I can respect what Bruce was trying to do,, that album just didn't work. There's a reason why, whenever one of the tracks from the album are played live now, it's a totally different arrangement with the full band and, like, a melody. Morello actually keeps the guitar acrobatics to a minimum here, aside from one solo. Morello always reminded me of a ballplayer who tries to catch the ball in his hat rather than his glove --- like, just take it down a notch, man.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


LOST returns tonight, and hopefully we'll finally get an answer to whether or not we should be capitalizing the title at all times or not. Ok, this probably won't be covered on the show, but from site to site it varies between just 'Lost' or LOST. I usually try to ignore weird uppercase-lowercase battles (e.e. cummings, treblecharger, RACHAEL RAY) but I dunno, the capitals do make it stand out more.

Uh, so, the actual show. Eight (OMG ONE OF THE NUMBERS~~~~!) predictions about the rest of the Lost season.

1. I will continue to hate Grey's Anatomy. The plan post-strike for LOST was to produce five more episodes, but thanks to a powwow with ABC, a sixth episode of Lost will be produced this season. We'll get new episodes each week from now until the 15th, then it's a week off, then a two-hour finale on May 29. Now, I use the word 'episodes' when I really mean 'hours of the show.' Six hours will be produced, not necessarily six episodes, since Lindelof/Cuse have said that the last three hours are basically being written as one giant three-hour finale. So, damn, that's pretty sweet. The strike only costs us three of the 17 hours of Lost we were promised this year, which I can live with.

So why the one-week gap between the three-hour finale? Grey's Anatomy is having a two-hour finale on May 22. It's inevitable that I would dislike this show given the penis and testicles that hang between my legs, but man, when this piece of soap opera crap interferes with my Lost, then it's time for fightin'.

2. LOST will officially change its name to the Ben Linus Hour. This season has been all about Ben. The boat people are looking for him. He's alive in the future and is apparently Sayid's boss. Apparently he seems to have some way of getting on and off the Island at will. He has revealed to Locke that Charles Widmore is allegedly the big bad guy behind the freighter and the ultimate villain going against the Island. Whenever Ben is not on screen, the other characters are asking "Where's Ben?" Ok, it hasn't quite reached Poochie levels yet, but even still. Quite frankly, I can live with this. I'd rather have a Ben-centric season than yet more focus on Jack, just because Michael Emerson is a better actor than Matt Fox and I'm not sick to bloody death of Ben as I am Dr. Shepherd.

The added focus on Ben gives credence to the theory that he's the guy in the casket that we saw in last year's finale. We know from Sayid's flashback that Ben is off of the Island in the future. If he dies in the future, then that could be why Jack is so upset --- their last, best chance to getting back to the Island is gone. Or, it could also mean that since Ben is dead, the Island no longer has a hold over them, as it seems to over Michael (i.e. not letting him shoot himself or die in the car wreck). Actually, I'd predict the scene where Ben dies to go something like this.

Claire: Hi Ben. You look like you've got something to say. Do you?
Ben: Yes, I certainly do. I have to go now. My planet needs me.

Ben then dies on the way back to his home planet. You know, in remembering that Simpsons scene, it's amazing how close Claire's voice is to that of Itchy. If Itchy was from Brisbane, they'd be identical voice twins and could co-headline a show with Joey Tribbiani and that casino dealer.

3. We've actually seen all of the Oceanic Six. Leave it to LOST to leave everyone guessing if we've learned something as simple as the number of people in a group. We know it's Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid and Sun, but some people aren't sure if baby Aaron is the sixth person or not. I think he has to be --- unless there's some weird time thing going on, people can do simple math and realize that Aaron must've been born sometime during the time that the O6 spent on their 'deserted island' after the crash. If you're a newspaper headline writer, would you refer to a group of six people and a baby who survived a plane crash as The Oceanic Seven, or as The Oceanic Six And A Baby? Since Ted Danson, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg aren't on LOST, I'd go with the former, which means that Aaron is one of the big six.

4. We'll know how the Oceanic Six get off of the Island. This seems to be the most reasonable plot for the season finale. We seem to be building to a big showdown between the gun-wielding Freighter People and the two groups of castaways, and it's likely here where the O6 somehow escape. According to Jack's story at Kate's trial, the 'official story' of the Oceanic Six's survival is this: eight people survived the plane crash, they were stranded on a desert island (not The Island), two died in the interim and the rest were eventually found. Since we know about the O6 now, the bigger question is who are the Oceanic Two, a.k.a. the people who died in between the crash and the rescue. It seems like one of them almost has to be Claire, since there is no other way to explain Aaron's existence, but that doesn't explain why Kate would have custody of Aaron in the future. Even if Claire died while telling Kate to "watch over my bay-beeeee," a court of law wouldn't let that stand, especially given that Kate was charged with murder.

5. We'll learn how Jin dies, or, we'll learn IF Jin dies. The big hint coming from the Jin/Sun episode concerning Jin's apparent death is that the date of death on his tombstone was Sept. 22, 2004, the day of the plane crash. So unless Juliet is mistaken about Ji Yeon's date of conception, then it makes no sense that Sun is claiming Jin is the father since he wouldn't have been alive in order to impregnate Sun about a month after the crash. Now, Sun never actually told anyone in the real world that Jin was actually the father of her baby, only that Jin was her husband (which the nurses wrote off as labour-induced delirium). So that detail brought a confusing twist to what was a pretty emotional end to the episode. It's possible that a) Jin dies protecting Sun or the other castaways from the Freighties, b) Jin is one of the Oceanic Two, and per the cover story stayed alive long enough to impregnate Sun before finally dying due to crash-related injuries, and the tombstone date was just a guess since presumably the O6 couldn't keep track of time on a deserted island or c) Jin is still alive and living on the Island, and was left behind for reasons yet unknown. Sun could still have reason to weep at Jin's grave, since it would suck to have the love of your life trapped somewhere on a mysterious island and not able to see his daughter born.

6. Everyone will get their flashbacks. I'm probably the only one that's anal about this, but when a 16-episode season gets shortened, you have to wonder who (if anyone) will get shafted from their centric episode. It gets even more confusing when you factor in that the last three 'episodes' are being considered one big episode. The remaining flash-less main cast members this season are Ben, Locke, Claire, Jack and Sawyer. If, as I surmise, the finale episode does deal with the Oceanic Six leaving the Island, it's safe to assume that the flash-forward portion of the show will detail their return to the Island. Here's my predictions for the flash order...

E9 (tonight): Locke
E10: Sawyer
E11: Claire
E12 ('finale' part one): Ben
E13 (two-hour finale): Jack

Locke, Sawyer and Claire get their episodes out of the way before the big finish. The first third of the finale shows Ben in the future dying and ending up in the casket, thus getting off Jack's breakdown that we saw in last year's final episode. The two-parter then shows Jack in the future rounding up Hurley, Sun, Sayid, Kate and (presumably) Aaron as they find some way back to the Island. This dovetails nicely with the 'present-day' plot of everyone trying to fend off the Freighties and the Oceanic Six actually getting off of the Island.

7. The Smoke Monster will show up. Ol' Smokey hasn't made an appearance yet this season, so I think we can count on his non-corporeal ass showing up sometime in the last six episodes. If he really is the Island's "security system," as Rousseau claims, then an invasion by a bunch of mercenaries certainly counts as Smokey's time to shine. The one qualifier here is that I'm assuming Smokey and Jacob aren't one in the same, since we've already seen Jacob once. Oh, speaking of Danielle...

8. Danielle isn't dead. No way does a character that important to the first four seasons just die without fanfare in the last two minutes of an episode. No way could she die without at least a flashback episode. It's true that LOST killed Libby without giving her a flashback, but still, Danielle seems way more integral to the Island's history and to just dispatch her at the hands of some jungle snipers seems like a waste. Now Karl, he's dead. Ben won't have to worry about his precious daughter getting pregnant (or, even worse, a Hot Karl) from Karl anymore. Here's a nagging Karl Kwestion: where the hell did he come from? If women can't get pregnant on the island, how was Karl born? Was he brought to the Island as an infant? When did the birthing problems begin for the Other women? When since the start of the season did Karl get that girly-man haircut that ranked a 0.8 on the Chigurh Scale? Seriously, Karl suddenly popped up last episode looking like Jerry in that episode where he is cheating on his barber.

I really need to stop writing these Lost previews a few hours before the newest episode. It's very probably that by the time you read this, the episode will be over and my projections will have been proven completely wrong. Bah.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Toronto stuff

So I'm waiting for my streetcar transfer when I suddenly get hungry. So I go and wait in line for a dog, only to find that the vendor is...on a cell phone? Ignoring me? And then MAH GAWD THE STREETCAR IS VISIBLE AT THE END OF THE STREET! Panic ensues. It's streetcar vs. street meat. Johnny Sausage finally gets off of the phone and I hurriedly give him my order. He lazily pokes at a sausage on the grill while I worriedly look down the road at the ever-so-slowly approaching trolley. It's late, it's cold and I have no idea when the next car is coming, so I want this over with. Also, since the car is so close already, I'm realizing I'll have to suck this dog down with Jenna Jameson-like speed. The slowest vendor in hot dog history finally gives me my food, I hurriedly squirted my bun with a kaleidoscope of mustard and ketchup that looks like a USC Trojans logo gone horribly awry and then hauled ass to the stop. Now, I should note that this whole time, I thought I wasn't allowed to eat on the streetcar. Turns out that wasn't true. I had only eaten about a third of the dog when I was getting on the trolley, and was composing my excuse to the driver, but then I just walked on by without him blinking an eye. Huh. How about that. So I could enjoy my food in peace, or at least as much peace as could be mustered while trying to balance holding onto a pole on a crowded streetcar while also eating to eat a messy hot dog. Life is hard.

There's a lingerie shop on Queen Street that has a live model in the window showing off the merchandise (literally -- she is wearing the store's merchandise) at all hours of the day. I wonder how many minutes into their first shift that these models have a Gob-esque realization that they've made a huge mistake. Fifteen minutes? Twenty? I wonder if I could get a job in a Quizno's display window just scarfing down chicken carbonara subs all day long and happily giving the thumbs up to passersby.

My plan to get one of those Jays powder-blue throwbacks might have to be put on hold, since I found what might be an even cooler piece of Blue Jays memorabilia. The Jays Shop in the Sk...Sk..Sk...Roger Centre has a rack of actual game jerseys on sale, but it's solely jerseys of some of the most obscure players in history. Chris Woodward! Julio Mosquera! Bill Risley! Matt DeWitt! And even some names so obscure that I (me!) didn't even recognize them. I love that these kitsch items are so expressly available at the Jays Shop. If a Doug Linton or Simon Pond jersey shows up, I'll be all over that like a bum on a dropped five-dollar bill.

Not to be outdone in the kitsch depatment, there's a pub on Queen Street called Gorilla Monsoon. I love it. I went there the other night solely because it was named after the legendary wrestling announcer. What I loved about Gorilla Monsoon is that back in the 1960's, he wrestled under the gimmick of a wild savage. Then, as an announcer, he called matches in his normal personality --- but he kept his gimmick name. So here's this kindly older gentleman calling matches, except he has an utterly ridiculous name. Imagine if Bob Cole's name was, like, Fire Hydrant Windbreaker. It'd just be weird.

You may notice that since I've moved back to Toronto, there has been most posting. What can I say, the city is my muse. I'm like that guy from the Authority who gets superpowers when he is within an urban area.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Matt Serra is a good enough fighter to beat Georges St. Pierre about three times out of every 20 matches. I really, really hope Saturday's bout isn't one of those other two times. I am sick of Matt Serra. After listening to his big mouth for two TUF series, I want to see St. Pierre kick his head into the upper deck of the Bell Centre. Will this happen? In all likelihood, yes. St. Pierre is one of the five best pound-for-pound fighters in the world --- he should beat Serra without any problem. But still, he was supposed to do that the last time they fought, and Serra knocked him out. My pick? Well, obviously, GSP. St. Pierre winning opens the door for intriguing fights against Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves, not to mention potential superfights against B.J. Penn and Anderson Silva. I'll say he wins by submission in late in the first.

Michael Bisping over Charles "Will People Under Age 70 Get An Edgar Bergen Joke Here?" McCarthy. This is basically UFC"s equivalent of one of those jobber fights on WWF superstars. McCarthy might as well come to the cage patting himself on the back like Barry Horowitz. UFC desperately, desperately wants Bisping to be a big star they can market in the UK, but the jury is still out on whether or not he's actually any good. Conceivably, dropping to middleweight should be a boost for him, but who knows. Bisping by knockout in the first round.

Mac Danzig should get a TKO over Mark Bocek late in the second or early in the third round. I still can't believe Danzig was allowed on an Ultimate Fighter series. That's like if that 'get a Nationwide tour card' reality show on the Golf Channel featured 15 amateurs and, like, Mark Brooks.

Poor Rich Franklin. The guy probably the second-best middleweight in the world, and yet he's been utterly demolished two straight times by number one middleweight Anderson Silva. What is Rich's future? Beat two or three more top opponents and earn another title shot-slash-beating? Though at least Rich made it into the second round against Anderson last time around, so I'd think that he could make the third round a third time around. Yay? Anyway, apparently Travis Lutter made weight for this one (shock of shocks), so he's in the right shape for Franklin to TKO him in the third.

In his last fight, Kalib Starnes was cut open so deeply that the ringside doctor said he 'could see brain.' Yikes. That's like being cut by a knife but without it feeling all right. Write a song about THAT, Adams. Fortunately for Starnes, he's now fighting the largely worthless Nate Quarry. Starnes ends it with a knockout in the second.

The guy who put that big slice into Starnes was Alan Belcher, who was rewarded for the win by....ending up on the undercard. Nice. It's not a total dis, given that Belcher was originally supposed to fight a couple of events ago but had to pull out due to injury, and then was supposed to fight Patrick Cote on this card but Cote pulled out due to injury. So now Belcher ends up with UFC debuter Jason Day. Even though Day is a Canuck, I'll say he gets some UFC first-time jitters and gets submitted by 'the Talent' in the second. N.B. I actually own a t-shirt that just says 'talent' across the chest. It was made for me on request as a gift years ago. I thought it was really cool at the time, but then I realized that by actually wearing it, I'd look like something of a douche. C'est la vie.

Kuniyoshi Hironaka beats Jonathan Goulet in a fight that, uh, I don't care about.

Jason 'The Athlete' MacDonald has perhaps the worst nickname in MMA, but the guy is a good fighter. I think he's a clear notch below the likes of Franklin or Silva, but he's a good gatekeeper in the middleweight division. He deserves greater than an undercard fight against Joe Doerksen, who is barely a step up from Charles McCarthy. MacDonald wins by submission in the first.

Cain Velazquez will beat Brad Morris by decision in the battle of two guys who I've never heard of. Both are heavyweights, so it'll probably be three rounds of dull standing around or shoving against the cage.

Sam Stout! Good ol' London boy! He has a tough opponent in Rich Clementi, who has shown in his career that he can beat any third-tier guy and lose to any top or second tier guy. This fight will show us conceivably just how good Stout is. My head says Clementi, but my heart says Stout takes it by KO in the second.

Ed Herman faces Demian Maia in what might be the most interesting fight of the evening, and the one I hope gets shown on the PPV if there's enough time. Herman appears to be on a roll with wins in his last three fights, and Maia is a highly-regarded prospect with one UFC win under his belt and even some whispers that he might be the next big star in the middleweight division. I'll go with Maia by submission in the second just out of a belief that the MW division needs another up-and-comer.

Overall, this isn't the best PPV in UFC history. Frankly, it's pretty weak. Given that the last PPV was stacked, the next PPV in May is stacked and the last Fight Night was stacked, I guess one card was due to fall through the cracks. Dana White probably figured that they could sell out Montreal with a St. Pierre fight alone, so why bother using up a bunch of other big bouts on a sure-thing card. It's sort of like how I save my best jokes for a post that will be read by more people than just MMA junkies.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Notes from tonight's Colbert Report....

Colbert's bit where he basks in applause while running over to the guest never gets old.....wait, he wants to lick the Liberty Bell and there's no reference at all to How I Met Your Mother? Weak....Michelle Obama is hot!......She ended her chat saying something like "the best candidate is my husband (slight pause) Barack Obama." Was saying Obama's name tehre really necessary? What candidate did she think people would assume she was married to? She obviously isn't Bill Clinton -- he was the first black president, not the first black female president. And she's obviously not married to McCain. Well, unless that "illegitimate black child" that McCain "fathered" years ago that Karl Rove taught us all about grew up and married McCain in some kind of sick Woody Allen-Soon Yi type of situation. That's the kind of thing that could swing an election.


I'm not crazy about this list of the 50 greatest comedy sketches of all time. As is usually the case in lists like this, it's really a list of 'most famous' sketches rather than purely the funniest --- there is no goddamn way a Coneheads skit is one of the five funniest skits in TV comic history. But even with this fame-centric voting in mind, the inclusion of Monty Python's "The Idiot In Rural Society" sketch at #6 (number six!) baffled me. I had to click the video link just to remember which skit this was, and brother, I've seen every Monty Python show backwards and forwards. I mean, it's a funny bit, but man, would this even crack the top 50 Python skits? Hardly. This made it instead of, say, the Cheese Shop? Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson? The interview with Anne Elk? The 15-minute fairy tale routine with Connie Booth as the princess and Terry Jones as the keyboard-playing idiot king? The game show about Blackmail? Cleese and Chapman as the high-voiced old women? The killer joke? Eric Idle trying to buy a hearing aid from a deaf salesman? This one is so funny it deserves a link.

Other notable omissions: Any SCTV news bit. Eugene Levy as Earl Camembert was just awesome....Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as the Festrunk Brothers on SNL....A lot more Mr. Show stuff. I need to rent those DVDs, since the most I see of the Mr. Show, the more brilliant it seems....Phil Hartman as the Anal-Retentive Chef on SNL.....that Carol Burnett Mama's Family sketch where Tim Conway ad-libs this ridiculous story about siamese twin elephants and legitimately cracks everyone up.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Buzz Index

Hey folks, it's your ol' buddy Buzz here with....dammit, that nickname just isn't going to catch on.


This story sounds like a throwaway gag on Two And A Half Men, but here goes. About 10 years ago, my friends and I rented the movie Half-Baked for wild-and-crazy 17-year-old party night of watching the VHS and staying up until midnight. We stopped off at McDonald's for some food and ran into another group of friends. The following dialogue was then exchanged.

Them: What are you guys up to tonight?
Us: We just got Half-Baked and now we're getting some burgers.
Them: Half-baked on what?
Us: No, no, the movie.

Ba dum bum. Here's the real punch line: for all I remember about Half-Baked, I may as well have been smoking something that night. I have no recollection of that movie whatsoever. All I remember is Dave Chappelle is in it, Jon Stewart is in it (and that's only thanks to his constant "they let the guy from Half-Baked host the Oscars?!" jokes) and Bob Saget has the immortal cameo where he talks about sucking dick for coke. Plot, specific scenes, nothing, it's all a blur. It's interesting, since referring back to my last post about the great movies I haven't seen, I could tell you more about Godfather II, Sound of Music and probably several other films on that list than I could about Half-Baked. Cultural osmosis > memory.


Lyndsy Fonseca has been on Desperate Housewives all season long, but only tonight did I realize that she's the same girl who plays Older Ted's daughter on How I Met Your Mother. Amusingly, her Housewives character is searching for answers about her mysterious father. This tears it, clearly Josh Radnor will end up with Dana Delany. Sure, there's about a 20-year age difference, but hey, who's to say Ted doesn't have a thing for cougars?

By the way, of all the ways to spell 'Lindsay,' I think Lyndsy is near the top of the list for obnoxiousness. Were her parents really big Paul Lynde fans or something?


Here's why I always tell the ladies I'm an honest guy. It would be very easy for me to go back and include a graph in my Masters picks saying, "And keep an eye on this Trevor Immelman. This young South African has all the talent in the world and could easily make this tournament his major break-through." I could just as easily re-edit my Oscar picks to be dead-on, my reviews to reflect popular opinion or my prediction for the station's Thanksgiving give-away to be much less tragic ("As god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"). But no, I let those blog posts stand for history to judge my writing much in the same way that Samuel Pepys' diary is a largely uncensored look at 17th-century British life. I'm sure that with some hindsight, Pepys would've preferred to omit the passage when his wife walks in on he and his mistress, but hey, what's a bit of history without some spice? That passage, by the way, caused the one non-ironic spit-take of my life. I'm reading the admittedly dull diary for second-year English, trying to keep my eyes open, when Pepys suddenly throws in a line about having "my hand in her cunny." I spit milk all over my couch. Forget all of those explorers in British history --- Pepys was clearly the expert on going south of the equator.

By the way, to all of you guys out there, if you have to tell a woman your best quality, don't say you're honest. That's like being a pitcher whose best pitch is a change-up. It's all well and good, but at the end of the day, you need to at least some extent bring some heat. If your best quality is honesty, you're either indirectly saying a) I'm not very good-looking or interesting, but hey, at least I'm up front about it or b) you're lying, and thus negating your alleged best quality right off the bat.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

List of Shame, questions and comments

I should've clarified something about my previous post....those are all films I've never seen start-to-finish. For example, I've seen the last 30 minutes of Sound of Music, and I've seen bits and pieces of Bull Durham, Rocky IV and Breakfast Club over the years (as Emmett pointed out in the comments, for anyone who has TBS on their cable package, Breakfast Club is hard to avoid).

As for the others, there have been a couple of stop-starts. Some movies you're just not in a mood to watch, or you're tired and aren't paying full attention, or something else jumps up to grab your attention. For example, I remember one night renting O Brother, but then was invited out for a night at the pub, and thus I never got a chance to see it before I had to return it to Blockbuster. My buddy Trev got the Godfather trilogy for Xmas a few years back, and it was long enough ago that he got the trilogy on VHS. I remember watching the first one, but then one night we saw about 20 minutes of the second one and it just wasn't going anything for us. We were all in more of a comedy mood that night, so I think we threw on Tommy Boy or something. Yes, that's right. Tommy Boy. Over Godfather II. In a related story, my film degree didn't just spontaneously burst into flames.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The List Of Shame

That's right....I, the film major, the movie buff, Johnny Popcorn, have never seen these classics. Judge, gasp in dismay or say 'My word!' as your monocle falls off in shock.

The African Queen
The Apartment
Apocalypse Now
The Bad News Bears (the original)
The Breakfast Club
Bridge on the River Kwai
Bull Durham
Cool Hand Luke
Das Boot
Dog Day Afternoon
The English Patient
The Exorcist
Godfather Part II
Godfather Part III
Gone With The Wind
The Goonies
The Great Dictator
Hamlet (the Olivier version and the Mel Gibson version)
The Hustler
North by Northwest
O Brother Where Art Thou?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (though I have read the book)
Rocky II
Rocky III
Rocky IV
Say Anything
Schindler's List
The Sound of Music
Stand By Me
Sunset Boulevard
Toy Story II
Twelve Monkeys

Friday, April 11, 2008


"Hey Mark, didn't the playoffs start two nights ago?"

Shut up, hypothetical straw man! I'm sorting the 16 teams by now much I want them to win the Cup.


Anaheim Ducks --- Won the Cup last year, warm-weather American team in a city that doesn't really care about hockey, and a playoff collapse might push Brian Burke one step closer to leaving Anaheim and coming to Toronto. You know, the more I think about the Ducks franchise, Disney really missed an opportunity to make some money. If Disney and the NHL had held off of expansion for a couple of years, they could've waited until the North Stars left for Dallas, and then brought the new team into the hockey-crazed Minnesota market. We could've had the Minnesota Mighty Ducks, which would've been awesome, rather than the Anaheim Ducks, the least-fitting franchise name in sports. This is all Michael Eisner's fault. Damn that wide-foreheaded jackanape.

Ottawa Senators --- Well, obviously. In past years, when the Leafs have been eliminated, my allegiances shift to rooting for the other Canadian teams. This strategy was shot to hell last year when Ottawa made the finals. I just couldn't bring myself to root for the Sens, even against a warm-weather American team with no history. The one silver lining of Toronto's playoff futility is that as bad as the Leafs have been, Ottawa has been even worse. Sure, the Sens may have actually made the finals, but they made it only to get humiliated by the Ducks. Yer brutal, Senators. YERRRRRRRRRR BRRRRRRUTAL.

Nashville Predators --- City doesn't care about hockey, no history to speak of, and well, blah. Wake me when they move to Hamilton.

Boston Bruins --- The city of Boston has had too much sports success this decade. They don't need the Stanley Cup too. By the way, did anyone see that emotional ceremony for Bill Buckner at Fenway Park last week? Buckner threw out the first pitch to Dwight Evans, and if Evans had intentionally led the pitch roll through his legs, that would've been enough for me to lead the movement to put Dewey into the Hall of Fame. It also would've led to the amazing sight of Buckner and Evans getting into a fistfight at home plate while a horrified Jerry Remy openly wept in the broadcast booth.

Dallas Stars --- Nah. You steal one Cup, you don't my support for at least a decade. Besides, there's no fun in cheering for a Texas-based sports team.

New Jersey Devils --- I'm still not over the trap years. This is what happens when you have a franchise called the Devils --- they end up almost destroying the sport.


Philadelphia Flyers --- This armpit of a franchise would normally be in the bottom group, but then again, the city of Philadelphia is so starved for sports success that the Flyers winning wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Maybe if they win, Bobby Clarke could slip and fall and hit his head on the ice like that Calgary anthem singer and not get to celebrate with the Cup. That'd be okay.

Colorado Avalanche --- My only allegiance to the Avs ran out that year when Ray Bourque was on the roster and finally won his Stanley Cup. I remember listening to updates of Game Seven at my cousin's wedding reception. Nice scheduling, Steve! Obviously you should've run your wedding plans past the NHL home office.

Detroit Red Wings --- Ugh, the original team I hated back in the day. My Leaf fandom was born in 1993 when I started to follow Toronto solely to shut up the scads of fair-weather Wings fans who jumped on the bandwagon. Nikolai Borschevsky gave me bragging rights for years. Anyway, the modern-day Wings are all a bunch of classy players, and it doesn't get much better than Nicklas Lidstrom. Maybe winning another Cup would convince Detroiters to actually attend playoff games. What the hell, Detroit? You call yourself Hockeytown and you turn in this sad display? What are you, Braves fans? Why don't you give up on the Tigers and Lions and go see a team that actually has a chance of winning? Yes, that's right, I've officially given up on my World Series pick less than two weeks into the season. Fickleness, thy name is Mark.


New York Rangers --- My old high school math teacher, Mr. Sheppard, was a huge Rangers fan, and since he was a good teacher, hey, why not, go Rangers. Normally I'm against teams from New York, but Madison Square Garden could use some semblance of joy this year after the pit that is the Knicks.

San Jose Sharks --- A warm-weather team, yes, but the city of San Jose has embraced hockey since the Sharks came to town all those years ago. In fact, you could say that the NHL's success in San Jose led to further expansion to warm-weather cities. So...hmm, uh, thanks for nothing, San Jose? Anyway, I've always kind of liked the Sharks, and they've got good ol' London boy (well, St. Thomas boy) Joe Thornton. If I had adopted the Sharks as my favourite team back in the day, maybe I would've achieved my lifelong dream of getting 'Mark the Shark' as my nickname. I tried everything to get that nickname --- shaved my hair into the shape of a fin, terrorized Roy Scheider's family, had myself legally adopted by the descendants of former heavyweight boxing champ Jack Sharkey, everything! If I can't get 'Shark' to catch on, how about Buzz? The world needs another person nicknamed Buzz. I'm even eating a large jar of honey as I type this post right now.

Minnesota Wild --- It was a tough call putting the Wild here and not in the "I'd Rather Not" category. Sure, Minnesota loves hockey and whatnot, but it would be pretty hypocritical of me to shit all over the Devils for playing the trap and then wholeheartedly endorse the Wild. What pushed the Wild into this section

Pittsburgh Penguins --- I look forward to 15 years of debating over who's better between Crosby and Malkin.


Toronto Maple Leafs --- Wait a minute....sigh....

Montreal Canadiens --- I know, I know, a Leafs fan rooting for the Habs is heresy. But as I mentioned a few days ago, the Habs winning would put them a step closer to topping the Yankees for overall North American sports championships. Plus, my buddy Trev is a big Habs fan, and it would make his year. Plus, my friends Dallas and Brian live in Montreal, and it would be fun to read their blog posts about the inevitable riot that would take place after a Cup win. It'd be the modern-day equivalent of those BBC radio announcers during the Blitz.

Washington Capitals --- Isn't everyone on the bandwagon by now? The Caps have never won a Cup before, and they're a longtime franchise that has more than paid their dues. Plus, Alex Ovechkin is pretty much undisputedly the most entertaining player to watch in the NHL. Just think, 40 years ago, the notion of a Russian taking over Washington would've been cause for national panic.

Calgary Flames --- Hey, the 'cheer for another Canadian team' rule is still in effect for non-Ottawa teams. It'd be great to see Jarome Iginla with the Cup, plus seeing Mike Keenan triumph again would piss off at least 70% of the NHL, so that'd be fun.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


The Grand is a poor man's Christopher Guest mockumentary that ends up running short on real comedic steam and gets oddly dramatic by the end, but overall it's worth at least a rental. The film was aided greatly by its cast of actors who I almost entirely like --- David Cross, Cheryl Hines, Chris Parnell, Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Ray Romano, Estelle "Mrs. Costanza" Harris, Dennis Farina and even Guest veteran Michael McKean himself. The likes of Hank Azaria, Jason Alexander, Brett Ratner and Shannon Elizabeth appear in small roles to boot. Despite all of his comic talent, the show is just about stolen by (of all people) German film legend Werner Herzog as a borderline psychotic poker player. It may not have been much of a stretch, given that Herzog is allegedly something of a borderline psychotic himself. His 'Grizzly Man' may be the single most fucked-up movie I've ever seen in my life. It truly has to be seen to be believed.

Anyway, yeah, the Grand. I'd give it maybe a 6.5/10. It seems as if this concept (a bunch of characters gathered to play a major poker tournament) could've delivered more with a tighter script, or maybe some of the better improvised bits were left on the cutting-room floor. My personal favourite was McKean's casino tycoon, Steve Lavish, talking about his vision for a one-room hotel that's 30 stories tall and split into two buildings. "You'd think it's two rooms, but that's just an air shaft between the buildings."


Ok, so obviously Woods is the major Masters favourite. But just in case you're in some kind of golf pool and need a few more spots to fill out your foursome, consider these names...

* Retief Goosen. In the last three years at Augusta, he's finished T2, T3 and T3. And he has another second-place finish in 2002. He has quietly (the man does everything quietly) amassed a terrific record at not just the Masters, but at majors in general over the last decade. People may think he hasn't done much since his inconceivable meltdown at the 2005 U.S. Open, but he's won three European events and one PGA Tour title in that time. I swear, Goosen must be with MI6 or something. The man could catch fire in the middle of the fairway and still nobody would notice him.

* Fred Couples. Old Man Freddy, a contender? Remember, he finished second just two years ago, so it's not out of the question. Couples has recommitted himself to golf this season, has a number of strong finishes under his belt thus far and finally seems to be healthy for the first time in ever. A Couples win would be reminiscent of Jack Nicklaus' immortal victory in the 1986 Masters. My cousin Steve, perhaps the biggest Couples fan ever, would quite possibly die of joy. Actually, Steve's wife Kathleen is celebrating a birthday this very week, so Fred, if you wanted to provide a really great gift, so ahead and win the Masters. I guess do it for yourself as well, but really, Steve and Kathleen. Come on. If you wanted to mention them in the Butler Cabin ceremony too, that would be cool. You'll have a few minutes to sneak in a shoutout while Jim Nantz is grinning like a maniac.

* Vijay Singh. The Big Vagine has had some buzzard's luck this season, as he's played generally well but hasn't been able to put it together for four full rounds thanks to his notoriously inconsistent putting. Put it this way: if Vijay putted like Tiger Woods, he'd be Tiger Woods. It seems unlikely that Singh will suddenly figure out his short game on the insane Augusta greens, but hey, he won this tournament in 2000. And let's not forget, that win was the only major Tiger didn't capture in 2000, and now eight years later, people seem to be almost conceding a Grand Slam to the Woods man. Could Vijay play spoiler again?

* Mike Weir. HA HA HA, just kidding. Remember when Mike retooled his swing a year and a half ago, which coincidentally was around the time he started sucking? Weir made the mistake of getting a Mormon swing --- it never works on Sundays.


The great Ric Flair hung up his wrestling boots last week after 36 (!) years in the pro wrestling business. Flair was behind some of the best matches I ever saw back in my wrestling fandom days --- his win in the 1992 Royal Rumble, his title match with Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 8, and his 'win the title or retire' match with Vader in WCW. My buddy Trev does a very creditable Flair impression, though he has to have about 10 beers in him to pull out the WOOOO. I myself was influenced by Flair's figure-four leglock maneuver, which I mastered for playground wrestling matches in grade school. Years later, when watching a wrestling pay-per-view with the buddies, my friends Dave and Bryan questioned whether or not the figure-four actually hurt. This was my time to shine. In Bryan's exact words, "Oh, this doesn't hurt at a....AHHHHHH!" I then topped off the submission with a patented Flair strut.

Now, in honour of Flair, LISTAMANIA VIII: My Top 20 Favourite Wrestlers Ever

20. Mr. Perfect
19. Sting
18, Chris Jericho
17. Undertaker
16. Vader
15. Ravishing Rick Rude
14. Ricky Steamboat
13. Kurt Angle
12. Owen Hart
11. The Rock
10. Hulk Hogan
9. Rey Mysterio Jr.
8. The Rock
7. Stone Cold Steve Austin
6. Chris Benoit (yikes....this is a good time to mention that I'm basing this list solely on in-ring accomplishments)
5. Mick Foley
4. Shawn Michaels
3. Randy Savage
2. Ric Flair
1. Bret Hart


Toronto natives, please clear this up for me. You know those ticket meter machines that say you can park in the spot from 9 AM to 9 PM from Monday-Friday? My question is, what happens after 9 PM? Are you allowed to park there for free, or are you not allowed to park there unless it's between the designated hours? I know in London you can park pretty much anywhere at 9 PM for free, but then again, Toronto is a city where stuff actually happens at night downtown.


This idea sounds fucking abominable. A Bill & Ted remake? That would be disgraceful. Keanu's idea of he and Alex Winter just reprising Bill & Ted as 40-something guys actually sounds much more entertaining. I'm pretty sure Alex Winter would be up for it. In fact, I'll ask him about it tomorrow when I pass him selling pencils from a cup on Spadina Ave.

Will I buy a pencil? No.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bart rides up in the front seat today because he's a good guy at sports

So a couple of years ago after my baseball-writing internship, I noted that Toronto's record when I was in attendance at the Sk...Sk...Sk....Rogers Centre was a ridiculous 42-24. Since then, that record has only gotten better. After this weekend's sweep of the Red Sox, the Blue Jays are now 55-28 in games I've seen in Toronto over the last three seasons. Oddly enough, they're 0-3 in road games I've attended in Detroit, Cleveland and New York over that same span. I guess what I'm saying is that if the Jays win the World Series, I want a ring. It would be a great icebreaker in bars. This is one time when I could put my alleged resemblance to Gustavo Chacin to good use. If not a ring, then could I at least be Ace? I'd be a great mascot. I have experience working with kids, I have a background in improv comedy, and 10 years of modern dance (note: two out of three ain't bad).

Also on the topic of baseball, my World Series pick Detroit Tigers are now 0-6 to start the year. Kiss of death = me.

Pop quiz...even though it's a one seed vs. a one seed, is Kansas/Memphis one of the most unlikely March Madness finals in years? I like Memphis' story, but hey, I picked Kansas to win one of my brackets, so I'm sticking with them. This year I was in three different March Madness pools, which isn't a good idea. My interests were split among so many different games and teams that it hurt the overall rooting experience. I'd say that aside from Stephen Curry and Davidson, the biggest highlight of this year's tournament was the 'Bracket' episode of How I Met Your Mother. This might well be the funniest show on TV, folks.

Quick Stanley Cup pick: Going by the recent trend of Canadian teams losing in the finals to warm-weather American teams, I guess it'll be Dallas or San Jose over Montreal. This recent trend, btw, stinks. Couldn't the Cup at least go to a city that, like, cares about hockey this season? Is that too much to ask? Just as long as the city in question isn't Ottawa. This might sound like blasphemy from a Leafs fan, but I'd like to see the Habs win. I'm looking at the bigger picture: with a 25th Cup, the Canadiens will be one step closer to unseating the Yankees as the dominant champions of North American pro sports.

Masters pick: Y.E. Yang.....are you kidding me? It's obviously Tiger.

Friday, April 04, 2008

It's Funny Cuz it's True

Toronto Columnist Writes Annual 'Blue Jays Have A Chance' Article

TORONTO—Following a flurry of offseason activity by his hometown Blue Jays, Toronto Star baseball columnist Richard Griffin has written his yearly mid-March article asserting that the Jays have a chance to contend in the AL East. "The acquisitions of Scott Rolen and David Eckstein just might get the Blue Jays over the hump and turn them from also-rans to world champions," wrote Griffin in an excerpt that was lifted directly from his 2007 article but with the names Frank Thomas and John Thomson substituted out, which itself was copied from a 2006 article about A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan."Though the Jays will be facing defending champion Red Sox and the $200 million New York Yankees a combined 37 times this season, and the Rays might be the most improved team in baseball, the Blue Jays are also very good."The Star has yet to comment on whether or not a separate Griffin article predicting the Blue Jays to finish fourth was a misprint.

from, where else, The Onion