Wednesday, December 03, 2008

On Notice!

I decided to get a jump on snow shoveling last Sunday night, and since there was only a light frosting that had fallen by the evening, I figured I could get the driveway and front path cleared during halftime of the Bears-Vikings game. So I headed outside with my trusty shovel and my trusty big red winter coat (nicknamed Big Red) and....well hell, my eyes had bamboozled me. The 'light snow' was actually some of that thick, sloppy rain/snow hybrid that would've been pure water had it just been a couple of degrees warmer. It ended up taking me 30 minutes to get everything cleared away. Is there anything worse than not being prepared when a job ends up being more difficult than you imagine it being? I don't mind shoveling snow, but boy howdy, it sure sticks in my craw when it ends up actually requiring some effort.

(This is a pretty weak entry, I admit. What can I say, I've had a pretty decent week).


Studio Executive #1: Oh man, what are we going to do with Tom Cruise? Everybody thinks he's a half-witted crazy person. How are audiences supposed to buy him as an action star or a romantic lead?!

Studio Executive #2: Relax, relax. Ok, here's the problem. We just need to rally the audience behind Tom. What's something that everyone hates?

SE1: Anchovies?

SE2: Hmmm, Tom Cruise in "30 Dreams Or It's Free," the story of a small-town pizzeria owner who stands up against the corruption of corporate pizza chains who force their toppings on the public. James Gandolfini can co-star as the Little Caesars guy.

SE1: Mike Illitch?

SE2: No, I mean the actual Little Caesar cartoon man. The resemblance is uncanny.

SE1: Nah, if we make anchovies the villains, then we'll risk ticking off the fishing industry. And I don't want to have to deal with a bunch of angry Nova Scotians at my door. Again.

SE2: Oh! I've got it! Everyone hates Nazis!

SE1: Hey, now you're cooking with gas. Okay, Tom Cruise can fight Nazis! And not just any Nazi....but Hitler himself!

SE2: Can he wear an eyepatch?

SE1: You bet!

SE2: Can he inexplicably speak in an American accent despite the fact that he'd be playing a German officer?

SE1: Sure!

SE2: Can we move the film's release date around so much that it looks like we're trying to minimize the damage of what could be a major turd of a movie?

SE1: I don't see why not!

SE2: Looking good, Billy Ray!

SE1: Feeling good, Louis!


Baseball's free agency period has begun, right? For, like, weeks now? Where the deuce are all the moves? Where are the big-ticket signings? How am I supposed to waste hours of my life postulating about how new players will affect their new teams (and their fantasy baseball status) if there aren't any signings?! I'm not sure if I can go much longer without learning the fates of CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez and whichever shitty middle infielder the Blue Jays will sign.


I was out with my friends Eric and Matt at the Palasade on the weekend, and after a nice meal we decided to call it a night. Literally as we're leaving, my eye catches the 'Deal or No Deal' game in the Palasade arcade. For some reason (call it fate, call it divine intervention, call it a subconscious acknowledgment of my resemblance to Howie Mandel) I asked the guys to hold up a moment while I went and played a round. The game worked just like the TV version, except with 16 briefcases instead of 25. And, obviously, no cash prizes --- instead, the machine awarded tokens, with 200 tokens sitting in the top briefcase and a measly one token coming in the least-valuable case.

I chose briefcase #10 in a tribute to the legendary poet Lord Tennyson.....and because #10 was my old baseball uniform number. Now, as you can guess, the pressure of Deal or No Deal is slightly decreased when you're playing for tokens instead of millions of dollars, so basically I threw caution to the wind and kept turning down deals. When it came down the final two cases, the two options left on the board were 20 tokens and the 200 tokens with a bank offer of 110. Summoning a reserve of steely determination not unlike that of a young Clint Eastwood, I muttered 'Fuck it' and went with my original case.

And lo and behold, it was the 200 tokens! Mah gawd! A one-in-sixteen chance pays off! I stood there laughing and high-fiving as the coil of tokens spit out of the machine and wrapped around me like a boa constrictor choking a hog. With my winnings in hand, I headed over to the Palasade's prize area to see what I could exchange them for.

What a disappointment. Rack after rack of the chintziest crap you've ever seen. Four-inch tall SpongeBob dolls. Plastic footballs that stuck on the end of pencils; they weren't erasers, they were just...decoration or something. Plastic army man figures. I mean, it was bottom of the barrel-type stuff here, people.

So with my winnings, I could only go in one direction: food. I cashed my 200 tokens in for 20 Rockets candies. It was something of a no-brainer choice since the other candy selections were, in the verbiage of the early 1990's, grody to the max. And hey, everyone loves Rockets. My friend Naomi even considered going for Halloween as a package of Rockets. They're just that sweet a candy treat that they make normal people want to wrap their body in them. Matt got five, Eric got five and I got ten....four days later, four Rocket candies still sit in a bowl on my kitchen counter, just waiting for the right moment to be eaten in one fell swoop.

While Rockets are all well and good, let's pick up the pace here, Palasade. Surely you can find higher-quality prizes for your arcade. One would think that the singular achievement of getting the top briefcase would merit some type of bonus prize....perhaps a Deal Or No Deal-esque steel briefcase filled with Rockets candies. Or, a free can of that spray they use to de-odorize the bowling shoes. Something, anything.


Coverage of the historic and unprecedented coalition between Canada's three opposition parties to join together and force out the Conservative minority government < coverage of Brian Burke taking over the Maple Leafs.

Coverage of the American election < coverage of Brian Burke taking over the Maple Leafs.

Coverage of the moon landing < coverage of Brian Burke taking over the Maple Leafs.

Coverage of Keith Moon returning from the dead and starring in a remake of Knots Landing < coverage of Brian Burke taking over the Maple Leafs.

Coverage of Jesus Christ, the Pope and Eric Clapton announcing that they are getting together to form a three-man blues band for a one-off show at the Air Canada Centre < coverage of Brian Burke taking over the Maple Leafs. Incidentally, at that show, Jesus would play bass. He's just that laid-back a guy.


My friend Shannon recently suggested that I should grow a beard, or at least a goatee. In Shannon's defense, she had had a bit to drink and wasn't fully thinking things through. Here's a mini-Listamania about why I don't have facial hair.

5. My dad has a beard, and we already look uncomfortably like each other anyway.
4. There is a one million percent chance that any facial hair I grew would be wild and unkempt, no matter how hard I tried to groom it. It would be like that Family Guy episode where Peter grows a beard and ends up with birds nesting in it.
3. Me with a goatee = Kevin Youkilis. And I hate Kevin Youkilis. Damn his high OBP.
2. I have no plan to stop shaving my head anytime soon, and so if I'm going to be bald and a goatee, I might as well go back to being a doorman at a bar. And if I had a beard but the rest of my head was bald...well, that would just look weird. You know when you look at portraits of men from the 1800's or thereabouts and they have bizarre facial hair? Well, I'd fit right in.
1. Walt Frazier and Keith Hernandez would follow me around saying my beard was weird and my 'stache was trash. I couldn't take being belittled by retired sports stars. Besides, I've carried a grudge against Keith Hernandez ever since June 14, 1987, when a crucial Hernandez error opened the door to a five-run Phillies ninth. Cost the Mets the game.


For the umpteenth straight year, the BCS is ruining college football. The simplest way in the world to solve it is (as everyone but the NCAA higher-ups seem to recognize) is to have a playoff. The simplest way of doing a playoff is to invite the 11 conference winners plus five at-large teams. The bracket would look something like this....

1. Alabama or Florida (SEC champ)
16. Troy (Sun Belt champs)
8. Utah (MWC champ)
9. Boise State (WAC champ)
4. USC (Pac-10 champ, presumably)
13. TCU
5. Penn State (Big 10 champ)
12. Boston College or Virginia Tech (ACC champ)
3. Texas
14. Ball State (MAC champ)
6. Texas Tech
11. Ohio State
7. Alabama or Florida
10. Cincinnati (Big East champ)
2. Oklahoma (Big 12 champ, presumably)
15. Tulsa or East Carolina (Conference USA champ)

You might wonder why I'm including the likes of the minor conference winners in the mix when there are obviously better teams (Oregon State, Oregon, Georgia Tech, etc.) left by the wayside. I'm fully behind the notion that these minor conferences should get more of a say in the national title picture. These 'small' conferences are usually heavily underrated; for example, you can't tell me that the Mountain West was a weaker conference than, say, the Pac-10, ACC, Big East or Big 10 this year, and yet unbeaten Utah still gets the shaft from voters. Sure, obviously Troy would get smoked in the opening round by the #1 seed, and yet that doesn't stop minor conference winners from getting into March Madness, does it? And sooner or later, one of those #16 seeds will upset the top-ranked team, thus causing all hell to break loose. And why do I have a feeling that if this ever happened, the #1 seed to fall would be a Big Ten team?


I can't say I'm totally surprised to see it happen, but Pushing Daisies has been officially canceled by ABC. Once the show runs through its current backlog of shot episodes, that'll be that.

In the words of Doc Lock, "it was a longshot that a well-written, quirky, funny, vaguely surreal show about a piemaker who can bring dead people/things back to life with a touch and consign them forever to the grave again with a second touch, who can't resurrect people for more than a minute because if he does someone else has to die, and who uses this ability with a private detective named Emerson Cod to wake up murder victims to find out who killed them and collect the reward money, but breaks the one-minute rule when he brings his murdered childhood sweetheart Chuck back to life and can't bring himself to kill her again (causing the funeral home owner to die in the process), but also of course then can't actually touch the woman he loves, and so is forced to live chastely and sweetly with her while their adventures investigating crimes continue, joined by the vivacious and petite Olive who works for the pieman at his restaurant The Pie Hole and who is herself not-so-secretly in love with the pieman, would not survive long in the cookie-cutter world of network programming."

Amen. If I'm Bryan Fuller, I'm taking Pushing Daisies to Showtime, FX, HBO, anywhere that's a better fit. Frankly, PD probably would've been better served to be on a cable network in the first place, but at least we can give ABC credit for taking a chance on a unique show.

....actually wait, on second thought, fuck ABC. I don't think I saw a Pushing Daisies ad once in two years, whereas the likes of Dirty Sexy Money, Private Practice, Eli Stone, etc. were promoted ad nauseum on just about every commercial break of ABC programming. How does one expect a show to grow (like a daisy, said the lame metaphor-maker) if you just stick it on the lineup and expect people to just automatically start watching? Compare it to what NBC did with Chuck; consistent promotion of the straight-forward elements of a quirky show, give it a stable timeslot, and bam, it grew into a solid hit even after the writer's strike prematurely ended its first season. Instead, ABC hemmed and hawed about renewing PD in the first place, then just threw it out there and acted surprised when the ratings didn't develop.

The loss of Pushing Daisies means that ABC is now down to one great show (Lost) and one good show (Desperate Housewives...yes, I'm still beating that dead horse) on their entire network schedule. Seriously, what else am I supposed to watch on ABC? The dead-in-the water Scrubs? The horrifically written and acted Life On Mars? According To Jim, the TV equivalent of a cockroach? It's quite possible that once Lost wraps up, I might be avoiding ABC altogether. It would take a full-scale relaunching of the Drew Carey Show to bring me back. Give Diedrich Bader a paycheque, for the love of God!


Chris in NF said...

The cancellation of Pushing Daisies is exactly the kind of thing driving me toward exclusively watching TV shows on DVD. There's less disappointment that way.

Incidentally, the sigh I voiced on a previous entry was my obvious failure as your former English professor. You didn't recognize 10 Things I Hate About You as Taming of the Shrew? Please don't tell my promotion and tenure committee ...

Question Mark said...

I watched XTIHAY in summer of 1999, if memory serves, well before I started attending UWO. You're off the hook. (Also, I think the only English class I had with you was modern drama, so I'm not sure if you ever taught me any Shakespeare stuff).