Wednesday, July 29, 2009


As noted in this post last year, my parents allegedly ran into U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. during a trip to Dublin. But as it turns out, this was not so. Not because my folks were just making up an elaborate lie to fool me, but rather because they had the wrong U2 member.

Upon seeing a recent story about U2 in the London Free Press, my mother noticed the photo caption and realized that it wasn't Mullen who she and my dad encountered while he was walking his dogs. It was actually the Edge. Does it make things somewhat more dubious given that now my folks ran into some guy in a hat and beard? Maybe. But I have no reason to doubt them. They're not really ones for the kind of elaborate lie I mentioned earlier. In our family, the only massive liar was my great-great-great-uncle Moriarty.

Why am I bothering to correct a minor post from over a year ago? ACCURACY~~~! With U2's shows at the Rogers Centre less than two months away, I'll be no doubt relating this anecdote a zillion times between now and then, and want to make sure that nobody notices the switch in U2 band members and thinks I'm full of crap. Without this on-record statement of fact, my only course would've been to tearfully yell "YOU'RE full of crap! Stinkyhead!" and then run away weeping.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Kudos to Paige for the find. Kudos to Miles Fisher for not taking the obvious route and doing an American Psycho-styled video to a cover of 'Psycho Killer.' Also kudos, I guess, to Fisher for looking like the love child of Christian Bale and Tom Cruise. (I'm presuming that's actually Fisher in the lead role...if not, uh, good casting anyway.)

'This Must Be The Place' has to be on the short list for greatest songs of all time. Not to denigrate Fisher's work, but the song is so great that it's hard to screw up. You could amass Fergie, that Soul Patrol guy from American Idol, Michael Bolton and the guy who was I Mother Earth's lead singer post-Edwin for a 'We Are The World' choral version of this song and it would still sound okay.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Help! I'm trying to find a good place to rent older/artsier/foreign films in Toronto, and I've had no luck thus far. Anyone know any good non-chain options? The clerk at Blockbuster hadn't even heard of Double Indemnity, which made me want to demand their resignation on the spot.


Help! I'm trying to determine something about modern music, a topic that I'm admittedly becoming out of touch with. Lady GaGa --- what's her deal? At first glance I presumed she was one of those singers who sells records but everyone acknowledges to be a living joke, sort of like Nickelback or Diddy. Lady GaGa's songs are terrible, she can't sing a lick and her fashion sense is....uh.....unusual? Is that the word I'm looking for?

(When even I, the master of the ten-year-old pants and ratty t-shirt ensemble can confidently rip your fashion sense, you know you're stepping off the path. The most boring part of wearing outlandish clothing would be that every one of your conversations that evening would start with a discussion of your outfit. Like, she would never hear "Hey Lady GaGa, what's up, how's the weather?" It would be "Hey Lady GaGa, what's up with your moronic frog puppet blouse? Did you lose a bet? Are you really Sasha Baron Cohen in drag?")

So you could've knocked me over with a feather when I read an article from a reputable music magazine (I want to say NME, but I can't find a link) going overboard praising Lady GaGa as an important artist of our generation and a style icon. Say what? Am I even more out of the musical loop than usual? Is a vocoder and being the Muppets' answer to Cruella de Vil enough to make someone into an actual legitimate musical star?


Help! I'm trying to pick a new baseball team to follow in case the Blue Jays make an awful trade involving Roy Halladay. Now, in all seriousness, I wouldn't *really* give up on the Jays just due to one deal. One doesn't toss out 20 years of fandom over one move and over one temporary (well, 15-year-long) dry spell of results. But I got to thinking, if I eventually reached the point where I just became totally fed up with the Jays, who would take over as my favourite club?

Let's start with the no-chancers. Everyone else in the AL East is out, since there's no way I could suddenly start rooting for teams I've built up such a keen hatred for over the years. Same with the Tigers, one of Toronto's sorta-rivals. The Royals are a joke, so they're out. Never had any interest in Oakland or Texas. Florida, Washington, Colorado and Arizona lack a suitable history. The Padres are in massive rebuilding mode and play in a ballpark that severely limits their ability to attract a hitter. Pittsburgh would be a good choice given their tradition and gorgeous ballpark, but the team is a garbage heap. Same logic with Cincinnati, though their park is slightly less nice and their team is slightly better. I have too much fun ragging my pal Dave over his Astros, so I can't become a fan myself. You can't jump onto the Cubs bandwagon, especially after leaving another bandwagon due to lack of winning. And as for Atlanta, while their games would be readily available to watch, one suspects the universe will course-correct after all those division titles and stick the Braves with years of struggle.

So who does this leave?

* The Mets. Yikes! I've kind of had a soft spot for the Mets as a by-product of my Yankee hate, but boy, this team looks closer to a massive rebuild than it does to being interesting to watch anytime soon. It's too bad, since the Mets have some of my favourite players in baseball to watch --- Johan Santana, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, what's left of Carlos Delgado.

* The Mariners. Dark horse contender. Came into MLB the same year as the Jays, it would give me an excuse to get an Ichiro jersey in honour of another of my favourite players, Safeco Field is apparently gorgeous, and really, given my love of 'Frasier' and Pearl Jam, it only makes sense that I make another official bind to Seattle. In spite of their recent struggles, the M's would at least be on a short list.

* The Angels. One of the favourites. I've regaled you all before with the story of how a 10-year-old Mark was tossed a baseball by kindly Angels coach Bobby Knopp, so that would be a good basis to suddenly turn on the Jays and adopt Los Angeles/Anaheim/whatever fandom. After all, it's not like Rich Hacker ever threw me a ball. And boy did he ever pay for it! Karma is a fickle bitch, John!

* The Cardinals. St. Louis is a great baseball town, a Stan Musial throwback jersey would be a bad-ass fashion choice, Albert Pujols is a god....yeah, the Cards are a top choice. BUT, unfortunately, I could never root for a team that employs Tony La Russa. I've hated him since his Oakland days. Damn his game-delaying, double-switching ways.

* The Twins. Hmm, intriguing. Minnesota is basically like Canada, so I could stay within the country. The Metrodome is in its last season, so there's a pretty new ballpark on the way to explore. (Though a park that, inexplicably, is open-air. In Minneapolis. I guess the Twins don't plan to play any home games in April, September or October.) Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan and Joe Mauer! Classic. Sure, the rest of their roster is garbage save for one of my fantasy-team stalwarts Denard Span, but hey, a few stars are better than none.

* The White Sox. If they're good enough for Obama.... Being a ChiSox fan avoids the bandwagon-jumping associated with the Cubs, which is odd given that the Sox have actually won a World Series in the last century. Also, in my time as a Jays fan, I've never dealt with an actual crazy person as a manager before, so the Ozzie Guillen experience would be interesting.

* The Indians. WUAB from Cleveland was my prime station for after-school cartoons and programming growing up, and Cleveland's WKNR was a great source of sports talk radio, so even from a young age I've been exposed to all things Tribe. The Indians have that plucky underdog vibe that makes them a hard team to really hate, no matter how many times they beat the damn Blue Jays WHO MAKE ERRORS IN THE NINTH TO BLOW THE GA.....sorry. On the downside, as shown here and here, Cleveland isn't exactly the best place to visit.

* The Giants. Fun fact! When I went to Cooperstown when I was ten, I got two hats in a two-for-one sale. One was a Phillies cap. (More on that in a second.) The other was a Giants cap. Being a Giants fan would give me an excuse to visit San Francisco, by all accounts one of the nicest cities in America. Christy Mathewson, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Mel Ott....what a history! Plus, it's a little-known fact that the Giants almost moved to Toronto in the mid-70's, so really, rooting for them would be like rooting for the Blue Jays v. 1.0. Just think, Toronto baseball fans could've spent the late 70's and early 80's cheering for.....uh, well, ok, the Giants were mostly garbage during that era, but still. Does this mean we all would've been Barry Bonds apologists?

* The Phillies. So aphter buying the Phillies hat, which I got largely due to the big 'P' so it could stand for my last name, I started to phollow the Phils a little bit. This came in handy since by 1993, they were the National League champions. The Phils were my ophphicial phavourite National League team, while the Jays were my phavourite American League side but clearly No. 1 overall in my heart. So when the 1993 World Series rolled around, I heartily cheered Philly beating Atlanta in the NLCS, and then promptly turned against them once they were lined up to phace the Jays. Given this story, Philly would seem like a natural choice if I switched teams, though openly becoming a phan of a team that just won the World Series is more than a little bandwagonish. If the Phils collapsed in late September against, say, the Mets (they owe them one, doncha think?), that would make them much more amenable.

* The Dodgers. Probably the top choice overall. I love watching Dodgers games, though admittedly, the team itself is second to the joy of hearing Vin Scully broadcast. Just over the last two nights, I've learned that a ) Carlos Lee owns a ranch and raises cattle, including a prized steer named after former teammate Brad Ausmus and b) Scully has no idea who Black Sabbath are. He noted that Dodgers closer Jon Broxton came into the game to 'Iron Man,' and then admitted that his producer passed that fact along to him. "I wouldn't know Black Sabbath from a Rainy Tuesday!" Just awesome. It's like listening to your grandpa call a ballgame. Plus, Dodger Stadium is the best, the team has a great history, and with the likes of Manny, Andre Ethier, Canadian hero Russ Martin, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Broxton, the O-Dogg, etc., the Dodgers have a hell of a team. L.A. were my dad's favourite team growing up, and in fact I myself wore a Dodgers cap throughout most of the fourth grade.

So there you have it, Blue Jays. If you want to keep me from sending my fandom out to L.A., start looking like you have a clue about what you're doing as an organization. Ironically, if the Jays were to deal Halladay to L.A. for Kershaw and Kemp, that's one of the few packages that would actually satisfy me after losing the Doctor. And, being a Dodgers fan, I could still wear blue shirts to games! Huzzah!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shat Upon

So I'm sitting at the Shakespeare-in-the-park production of The Tempest on Saturday night, chilling out, enjoying a nice picnic with friends, and this was apparently just too much for the universe to take. Maybe, in a nod to the play's story, I offended some powerful sorcerer and he used his command of supernatural forces to shit on me. That would explain a lot.

You might be saying "Mark, the phrase 'shit on me' is pretty crude." Well, put your monocle back on, Wealthy Dowanger, I wasn't using it as a euphemism. A bird literally shit on me. I was eating a cookie, getting ready for the show to start, and BAM, I suddenly feel something hit me in the head. Immediately, I ran through a mental list of what it could be --- rain drop, acorn, apple, flying squirrel who just had a stroke, a monocle dropped by an offended wealthy dowanger who was just told a ribald joke while flying above the city in her zeppelin, etc. If only. It was, rather, a big ol' bird turd.

As noted, we were having a picnic, so napkins were available for me to clean off my head. I did, however, have to lean over and ask my friend Jessica, "Is there still any crap on my head?" (This will probably be the only time I utter that phrase, unless I start dating a German.) Given my shaved head, cleaning it off was actually not all that difficult a task. I was also informed by the others that getting crapped on by a bird is allegedly a sign of good luck. What kind of logic is that? Once you've hit the humiliation of being shat upon, anything afterwards would seem like good luck. Between that and my backhanded fortune cookie*, it was not a lucky night for ol' Mark.

* = "Financial opportunity will present itself." So, not that I'll actually get rich or anything, but rather just that at some point I'll have some chance, however vague, at making some cash, however large or small an amount. So if I pass a lottery kiosk, then my fortune has some true. This might seem like nit-picking, but when other people (i.e. Jessica) get fortunes like "You will get a financial reward beyond your wildest dreams," one can't help but feel short-changed.

Actually, my luck failed again later that night. After the play I went out to a casino fundraiser in support of my friends and their upcoming short film project. My $20 donation got me $500 worth of play money, which I then promptly lost at the poker table in about an hour. Upon arriving at the pub, I went straight to the restroom to wash my hands and make sure my head was totally feces-free. A pub employee was washing his hands at the same time, thus leading to this insane conversation.

Me: Excuse me, this may sound kind of strange, but is there anything on my head?
Him (vague Russian accent, which made it even funnier): Oh, that's normal. You just shaved your head, right?
Me: Uh, yes...
Him: What you're feeling is a few little hairs growing back in. It's like instant stubble.
Me: Uh, ok. Actually, a bird crapped on me earlier tonight and I was just wondering if any of it was left.
Him: Oh. No, you're fine.

How surreal. I've gotta say, having never served as a bird's toilet before, it isn't a fun experience. Ironically, I may have brought this on myself years earlier. I was walking down Queen Street with my buddy Trev years ago when we were in Toronto for a U2 concert, and wouldn't you know it, some passing fowl dropped something foul onto Trevor's Michigan Wolverines t-shirt. (No truth to the rumor that the bird's name was Rich Rodriguez.) We made a small detour to Sears so he could buy a new t-shirt, but what I remember most about the incident was saying, "Wow, you'd figure if either of us was going to be shit on, it would've been me. It would've been funnier." Eight years later, here we are. My working theory is that Trevor and I are sort of like Desmond and Charlie on LOST --- he has some advance knowledge of my future, and thus is trying to protect me from the universe's whims. But, just like on the show, the universe has a way of course-correcting. Come to think of it, the plot of The Tempest is not unlike that of Lost (Prospero = Jacob?), so perhaps this is all just one cosmic joke at my expense. Poor form, fate. Poor form.

By the way, I spent a good five minutes trying to think up a witty Shakespeare-related title for this post. The top contenders were 'Shat-speare' and 'The Turd-pest,' but both titles might have implied that the production I saw was poor, which wasn't the case. I would hardly want to crap all over those fine actors' work just because I was crapped all over whilst watching them. I also considered 'Shat-turd-upon-a-mon' as a takeoff of Stratford-Upon-Avon, but that pun could only survive being that labored if I had a) been in Stratford at the time and b) been Jamaican, mon. My other thought was 'Iambic Pantload-ameter," but that would've been obscure, unfunny and inaccurate. Birds don't wear pants, silly.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Alterna-Emmys

So in past years, I've just presented my Alterna-Emmy ballot as being an alternate list of the best people/shows that didn't get nominated. But I just now realized that that made zero sense, since in a lot of cases, my favourites did get justly nominated, so I wasn't really presenting a true vision of what I thought the nominations should have been. It was as inefficient as Bizarro Germany. So what I'm doing this year is listing the actual nominees, an 'alterna-list' of people who were also great, and then combining them to form one uber-ballot that will then come to life and destroy half of Tokyo.

On with the show!

Actual nominees: Entourage, Family Guy, Flight Of The Conchords, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, 30 Rock, Weeds

Alterna-nominees: American Dad, Eastbound & Down, My Name Is Earl, Party Down, Pushing Daisies, The Simpsons

Ok, first of all, we have to talk about Family Guy's nomination, which is one of the most stunning moves in Emmy history. An animated show hasn't been nominated for Best Comedy since the Flintstones in the 60's....and it's fucking Family Guy?! In a season where it was a piece of crap? Just totally inexplicable. I guess Emmy voters really dug that Surfin' Bird episode. It is impossible to believe that FG gets the breakthrough nomination while the Simpsons (which had a great rebound year) has never gotten the nod. Hell, FG isn't even the best Seth Macfarlane show, since American Dad has been way better for the last three years. So in this uber-ballot, swap out FG for AD, swap out the terrible Entourage for the dearly departed Pushing Daisies, and get rid of Weeds (which, admittedly, I've never seen) for Party Down, which inexplicably got zero love from the Emmys in any category. 30 Rock is going to win the actual award, and rightly so.

Actual nominees: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Steve Carell (The Office), Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Charlie Sheen (Two And A Half Men)

Alterna-nominees: Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down), Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl), Bret McKenzie (Flight Of The Conchords), Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies)

Strange to see Jemaine get nominated and Bret get snubbed, but hey, I'll take some love for 'Conchords' wherever I can find it. I won't watch BBT, but Jim Parsons is a guy who has been getting raves for his performance since that show came on the air, so it's good to see him get some recognition. For the uber-ballot, ditch Shalhoub (Monk is still on the air?) and Sheen, and replace them with Bret and Danny McBride. Ol' Kenny Powers deserves something for his total commitment to being an asshole. As for the winner, it's going to be hard to stop the Alec Baldwin juggernaut, but Steve Carell is way overdue for an Emmy, doncha think?

Actual nominees: Christina Applegate (Samantha Who), Toni Collette (United States Of Tara), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (New Adventures of Old Christine), Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds), Sarah Silverman (Sarah Silverman Show)

Alterna-nominees: Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies)

Tina Fey wins this in a cakewalk. Or a Muppet walk. Friel goes onto the uber-ballot in place of Sarah Silverman. You either love Silverman or you don't get her appeal at all, and I'm in the latter camp. I think the only one of her jokes I've ever found amusing is when Bill Simmons told the story of her going to the Jimmy Kimmel staff Halloween party dressed as 'Sexy Hitler.'


Actual nominees: Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds), Amy Poehler (SNL), Kristin Wiig (SNL), Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)

Alterna-nominees: Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), Jane Lynch (Party Down), Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl), Amy Ryan (The Office), Kristen Schaal (Flight Of The Conchords), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)

What a disappointing category. Toss out everyone but Chenoweth and Krakowski, and fill in the uber-ballot with Lynch, Ryan, Schaal and Smulders. I'm counting Amy Ryan as a supporting actress rather than a guest actress since I've seen past actors get full nominations for guest roles, and if anyone deserves it, it's Amy Ryan. Kristin Chenoweth deserves it the most and I'd love to see her win as a going-away present for Pushing Daisies, but I'm not holding my breath. Just to add to the Chenoweth love, here she is with Ellen Greene covering 'Birdhouse In Your Soul' from the S1 Pushing Daisies soundtrack. Great stuff. If Amy Poehler wins, I'm throwing something at my TV.

Actual nominees: Jon Cryer (Two And A Half Men), Kevin Dillon (Entourage), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Tracy Morgan (30 Rock), Rainn Wilson (The Office)

Alterna-nominees: Rhys Darby (Flight Of The Conchords), Ed Helms (The Office), Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies), Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)

Welp, so much for worrying about Piven stealing another Emmy from a more deserving actor. He goes from winning three in a row to a total snub? The moral of the story is, don't wuss out of a play due to a ridiculous mercury-related illness. This is once again a very strong category to pick and choose from. Replace Cryer with Chi McBride, and slot in Jason Segel for Kevin Dillon. Not that Dillon isn't still doing good work as Johnny Drama, but Segel's never been nominated and more than deserves it. With Piven out, the winner is up in the air, but I'd suspect that since he's actually hosting the bloody Emmy telecast, this will finally be the year that NPH takes home the gold.

Actual nominees: Big Love, Breaking Bad, Damages, Dexter, House, Lost, Mad Men

Alterna-nominees: Dollhouse, The Shield, 24

BTW, what's up with the seven-show nominee lists? Did the Emmys take a cue from the Oscars and decide to bump up the list to give viewers more chance to root for their favourites? I actually don't have much of a problem with this list, given that I don't watch Big Love, Damages or House, and the other four are some of the best shows on TV (well, maybe not Dexter, not this season). But for the uber-ballot, let's just take out Big Love and put in the Shield, since even though I don't watch it, its last season was apparently so incredible that its lack of a nomination seems out-of-place. It's pretty obvious that Mad Men is going to win the actual award, but hey, Breaking Bad shocked the world last year with Bryan Cranston's acting win. It would be great if it could do it again in the series category.

Actual nominees: Simon Baker (The Mentalist), Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Hugh Laurie (House),

Alterna-nominees: Michael Chiklis (The Shield), James Spader (Boston Legal), Kiefer Sutherland (24)

Simon Baker? Seriously? Baker-for-Spader is the only swap from last year's insanely good dramatic actor list, but man, at least Spader was still good in his over-awarded role. Baker is just some grinning jackass. Vic Mackey got snubbed for some would-be psychic? Oh, that is not cool. Amidst these great nominees (and Baker), the clear choice is Bryan Cranston. He is so good that it's very possible the Hall/Hamm/Laurie trinity will be lifetime Emmy snubs, in spite of their own great work. Their only hope is if their shows are still going after Breaking Bad finishes its stated four-season run.

Actual nominees: Glenn Close (Damages), Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order SVU), Holly Hunter (Saving Grace), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Kyra Sedgwick (Closer)

Alterna-nominees: January Jones (Mad Men)

Wow, I just realized that I watch virtually zero female-led shows. Elisabeth Moss is the only nominee whose work I've seen, so yay, default! Not sure why January Jones didn't get a nod, given that Mad Men cleaned house in virtually every other category and that Jones really stepped up her game in the second season. Stick Jones onto the uber-ballot in place of, oh, let's say Mariska Hargitay.

Actual nominees: Rose Byrne (Damages), Hope Davis (In Treatment), Cherry Jones (24), Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy), Dianne Wiest (In Treatment), Chandra Wilson (Grey's Anatomy)

Alterna-nominees: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), CCH Pounder (The Shield), Annie Wersching (24), Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)

Again, I watch none of these shows save 24, and Cherry "President Grandma" Jones certainly didn't deserve to make the cut. But then again, I like all of the nominated actresses and can certainly see them delivering quality work. So for the uber-ballot, let's just cut Cherry and insert Olivia Williams to show 'Dollhouse' some recognition. The buzz is that this is Weist's award to lose in real life, so let's pick her to win the actual Emmy and Pounder or Williams to win my alterna-Emmy, which is like a regular Emmy statue except wearing a Groucho mustache. Also, Rose Byrne is hot. I have no other statement to make.

Actual nominees: Christian Clemenson (Boston Legal), Michael Emerson (Lost), William Hurt (Damages), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), William Shatner (Boston Legal), John Slattery (Mad Men)

Alterna-nominees: Jeremy Davies (Lost), Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse), Walton Goggins (The Shield), Josh Holloway (Lost), Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), Jimmy Smits (Dexter)

Smits was nominated in the guest actor category, but....he was in every episode. He played the key role of the season aside from Dexter himself. How was he a 'guest actor'? The uber-ballot includes all of the alterna-nominees save Davies and Goggins (I don't watch the Shield so he's cut, but that's ok, I understand his character copes well with disappointment....wait....), and none of the actual nominees save Emerson and Paul. This is two straight years that Kartheiser hasn't been nominated in spite of turning in arguably the best and most interesting work on the show. No knock on Slattery, but Kartheiser far outshined him this season. Just to keep track of things on Emmy night, I'll only be slightly pissed off if Michael Emerson loses to Aaron Paul. If Emerson loses to anyone else, lock your doors and head downstairs to the bomb shelter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maybe The Worst Picture Ever Taken

If you're a publicity rep from Warner Brothers, you should be fired for not putting a full Nike-on-Lebron-being-dunked-on-footage press on horrible shots like this pic of the Harry Potter crew from their recent London premiere. Just a sad effort all around.

First, you have Rupert Grint looking like he just came off a three-week bender capped off by a Reservoir Dogs-themed costume party. I've long observed that Grint seems to be aging at a superhuman rate; he passed puberty throughly halfway through the first Harry Potter film, zoomed into his twenties around the Prisoner Of Azkaban and is now mentally preparing himself for his first prostate exam. By the time they get around to making the eighth Potter movie, he might be dead of old age. Then the role of Ron will be filled by, ironically, Michael Gambon. Grint looks less like a teenage film star than he does J.K. Rowling's half-soused, ginger fraternal twin.

J.K. herself comes off the best in the photo just by the dint of looking like a normal person rather than a walking stylistic nightmare. Under normal circumstances, her borderline-sour facial expression and....what's a nice, PC way of saying this....a bit of middle-aged sag, if you get my drift. Rowling would've been better served by wearing a more supportive bra rather than just pointing a wand at her chest and yelling 'Petrificus Totalus!'

While Rowling dressed in modern ware, Emma Watson seems to have broken into her family tomb and stolen the dress that her great-grandmother was buried in. A certain friend of mine (I don't want to name names*) has been waiting for Watson to turn 19 for years now so he could publicly ogle her without coming across as creepy, but sadly for him, Watson's age doesn't negate the fact that she still looks like she's 12 at all times.

* = normally I would name names, except his name isn't unique enough to stand out. For example, I would've just written "A certain friend of mine, I don't want to name names LASZLO" had his name been Laszlo, and thus everyone would've had a good laugh at Laszlo's expense. But in this case, he has a name a helluva a lot more common than Laszlo, so the joke would fall a bit flat since y'all wouldn't identify who he was. And I'd rather not use a full name in context, since otherwise a future prospective employer might one day come across this post via Google search and be all, "What? Laszlo was ogling an adolescent girl? What a pervert! We don't want to hire people like that here at Arby's!" Then he'll go and dump another batch of Grade-J meat on the fryer, which kind of muddles his moral superiority. I'm getting off-track.

And then, finally, there's Daniel Radcliffe. Holy lord, where to begin. The Pee Wee Herman suit? The pink shirt? The poorly-attached microphone clipping his jacket together in a fashion that makes him look like a slowly-expanding balloon? The vacant expression on his face? His pale (even by British standards) skin? His kid-in-a-fourth grade-class-photo haircut? It seems fitting that Bonnie Wright's mortified face is framed right behind him, as she probably had that same expression upon learning that this foolishly-dressed yutz was her love interest. Radcliffe should've taken a hint from his co-star, The Great Alan Rickman. Look at this music video. Rickman is wearing a pink shirt, pink tie, is in a video for an adult-contemporary pop song, and even dances at a gas station, yet still looks like a total bad-ass. I realize that living up to Rickman's consistently awesome standard is difficult, but c'mon Radcliffe, you've spent most of the last decade acting alongside this man. Pick up a style tip or two, lad.

Pictures like this make me wish that the moving photographs from the Harry Potter books actually existed. Then these four could walk out of frame and change their clothes.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We didn't choose Bailey as much as he chose us. In the fall of 1993, my mother, brother and I were in the living room of a Wortley Village family who had a bunch of Himalayan kittens they were trying to sell. As soon as we sat down on the couch, one kitten immediately jumped up next to us. He didn't immediately start rubbing up against us or anything ostentatious; just a few careful sniffs, friendly without being overbearing, basically classic cat behaviour. We immediately took a liking to this one little kitten who was brave enough to investigate on behalf of his brothers and sisters, and arranged to purchase our family's first major pet.

(I say 'major' with all due respect to Tom & Jerry, my goldfish at age five who ended up dead after we left them in the care of a clumsy neighbour while we were on vacation for a week. And let's not forget Michelangelo I and Michelangelo II, our back-to-back turtles that we were pretty lazy about naming, now that I think about it. Turtles were an overall pretty lazy pet choice anyway, given that virtually every kid in the late 80's/early 90's had a pet turtle named after one of the Ninja Turtles, but c'est la vie.)

So a week or so into October 1993, our cat was brought home....except it wasn't our cat. The sellers "accidentally" gave us the wrong kitten, a female one, that was as skittish as all get out. It was my mother who realized the "error" after a couple of days when she was combing him/her/it and discovered that her allegedly male cat had no penis. The sellers apologized for the "mistake" and gave us the real kitten that had first won our hearts that first afternoon, and I couldn't possibly use any more quotation marks to show how full of horseshit I found this half-assed attempt at a bait-and-switch.

But lo and behold, we had our cat, and since it was October anyway, he officially went into the books as my birthday present. It was also exactly when the Blue Jays were in the midst of winning the 1993 World Series, which is why I suggested 'Carter' as a potential name for our new cat. (Also contenders: Kramer and George.) But in the end, we went with Bailey. A classic cat name that was part in tribute to the cat owned by our old family friend Doris. Kramer had some traction, but I believe my dad pointed out that we should hold off on the name in case Michael Richards ended up getting in hot water over racially-charged comments at a comedy club over a decade later. Prescient man, my father.

So that was the beginning of the Bailey experience. It didn't take long for him to establish himself as the majordomo of our house. When our dog joined the household the next year, he decided to see exactly what this other furrball running around the house was. He bent over to give Bailey a sniff, and Bailey responded by sitting up on his hind legs and bopping him in the nose twice with his (thankfully recently declawed) paws. For years afterwards, my dog made it a point to give Bailey a wide berth. He knew the score.

In addition to being a fantastic athlete, capable of jumping with reckless abandon in pursuit of a toy on a string and tearing through our house at speeds of approximately 60 mph, Bailey also was one of those rare talking cats. Sure, he could meow, but his primary noise was a little sharp noise, almost like a chirp, that literally sounded as if he was saying 'cat.' He couldn't quite master his given name, but at least he knew what he was, which is more than can be said for many of us.

Great moments in Bailey's history include: the time he fell into a bathtub; the time he catted up (their version of manned up) and killed a mouse in our basement; his incredible ability to achieve close to a worm-like closeness to the ground on the rare occasions he ever went outside; the time he showed off his rarely seen hiss-and-sprint mode when confronted by my cousins' dog; his instinctive run to the front door whenever one of us was watching a TV show where a character rang a doorbell; how his combed-off fur has been responsible for the creation of 80 percent of the birds' nests in the greater Byron area over the last 16 years; his weeklong stint of depression hiding under my parents' bed after he got neutered; any time he would lick a spoon with just the tiniest hint of ice cream on it and would spend the next 30 minutes licking his lips; and, finally, the 'Bailey bop' (a half-walk, half-run amble that he would employ when called, or more accurately, when he was called for a tuna treat).

In spite of his advanced age, it was still a surprise to see him so out of sorts two weeks ago, staying in one place, barely eating and acting very much out of sorts. The vet said that kidney failure in older cats was very common and could come suddenly, and once it came, there was little that could be done. I happened to be back in London last week to take him to a couple of vet appointments while my folks were out of town, so I got to say my goodbyes to my little friend before I came back to Toronto, just in case the treatments didn't provide the miracle turn-around that we were hoping for.

Today Bailey was taken into the vet to be put out of his pain, and though I'm no theologian, I know exactly where he is right now. He's recreating one of his favourite poses from my parents' front living room. Bailey is sitting in front of a window, crouched on his stomach, bathed in a ray of sunlight, and looking outside while jerking his head in the direction of the slightest bird call. If anyone bothers him, well, they'll be dealing with a paw to the nose.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"They Were Who We Thought They Were" (a.k.a. Blue Jays midseason report)

Well, it's not like we didn't see this coming. On the downside, well, I'll admit it, the first seven weeks of the season had me on the bandwagon. In my heart of hearts I knew the Blue Jays wouldn't keep it up, but it's been so long since this team has been a contender that I put all logic aside and thought that this might end up being one of those magical seasons when an average team suddenly puts it all together and goes on a run to a pennant. On May 18, the Jays were 27-14, had the second-best record in baseball, and they had just swept the White Sox four in a row. Everything was coming up Milhouse for the Toronto nine --- and then they promptly went on a nine-game losing streak. To use one of my roommate's favourite catchphrases, "the DEAD!" As far as postmortems go, I could've written the "they were who we thought they were" at the end of May, but now that we're at the virtual halfway point of the 2009 baseball season, it's time to officially get the fork out and stick it in BJ Birdie's back. Yes, I know his name is Ace now, but he'll always be BJ Birdie to me.

Given that the Jays are a .500 team after yesterday's win over Baltimore, it only seems fitting to break down the Toronto season with a good news/bad news format.

GOOD NEWS: Aaron Hill became the best second baseman in the American League, returning from his concussion-marred 2008 season swinging a power bat. Marco Scutaro turned into an OBP machine in the leadoff spot. Adam Lind emerged as the slugger this team so desperately needs. Scott "GBOAT" Rolen just rattled off a 25-game hitting streak and is playing like his old self thanks to his regular dose of off-days in afternoon games that follow night games. Hell, even Rod Barajas has hit better than expected. While it has been satisfying to see the team hit so well this season given their struggles last year, it's also friggin' frustrating as hell given that if they had done half as well in 2008, they would've turned a lot of those one-run losses into wins. In fact, the Toronto lineup as a whole has been tremendous, except for....

BAD NEWS: ....Vernon Wells and Alex Rios. Ostensibly the two best players on the team. Both are frustrating in different ways. In Wells' case, the fact that he's making $20 million a year through 2014 is frightening given that he already seems to be on the downswing of his career. But here's the weird thing about Wells; it would be one thing if he was just outright sucking, but it seems like his problem is the Rogers Centre. Going into last night's game, his line at home was a deplorable .172/.249/.287, but on the road, he's .337/.367/.520. Guh? This is why I can't totally write off Wells quite yet. I have to believe that his home splits will improve in the second half of the season, since they're so drastically off of his career numbers that something has to give. Now, keep in mind that even if he does turn it around, he still won't be $20-million-per-year good, but I've ranted about that absurd contract enough already. Fun fact: in early 2007, I actually argued that Wells was a better player than Grady Sizemore. Yeah, I think I lost that argument. Keep that in mind as you read this post featuring my alleged baseball expertise. Anyway, onto Alex Rios. His numbers are starting to pick up a bit, and he'll probably ends up with his usual stats, but man....this guy. I've seen 10-year-olds with better baseball sense than Rios. That play in Philadelphia a few weeks back when he somehow didn't tag up from third on a sac fly to left was one of the most mind-blowing plays I've ever seen. This guy is a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER. It's one thing to make an error or something, but that play was like watching a player take the field in an inning, go to field an oncoming liner and suddenly realize that he is wearing a shoebox instead of a glove. I've officially given up on believing that Rios will ever 'turn it on' and suddenly become a star. Time for the Jays to deal him to the National League. Maybe they should see if the Giants would still be interested in a Rios-for-Tim Lincecum trade. Makes sense to me. JP Ricciardi might also want to start a stopwatch in order to keep track of just how long Giants GM Brian Sabean would laugh after being pitched that trade offer. While on the subject of hitting, Travis Snider didn't exactly blow people away in his first few weeks in the big leagues, but not to worry, he'll be better in 2010. And Kevin Millar is a waste of a roster spot.

GOOD NEWS: Roy Halladay continues to be the messiah!

BAD NEWS: The Halladay trade winds are blowing harder than ever given recent statements from JP saying that the Jays are listening to offers and a fairly non-committal response from Halladay about his future in Toronto. Frankly, I think this is being a bit overblown. Ricciardi only said that the Jays are listening to offers, which they technically should be doing at all times. Like, if St. Louis wants to deal Pujols and Carpenter for Halladay, I think JP will pick up the phone. Also, it makes no sense from a negotiating standpoint for Halladay to overtly state that he wants to remain in Toronto, if that's even the case. Honestly, if I'm the Jays, I don't deal Halladay unless he has said something behind the scenes to indicate that he's ready to move on. Unless some team gives up some absurd Pierzynski-to-San-Francisco kind of package for him, there really is no benefit to giving up the best or second-best pitcher in baseball. I really hope it's only a personnel decision and not a financial one. Surely Rogers would loosen the purse strings to re-sign Halladay if he did want to stay.....wouldn't they?

GOOD NEWS: In spite of a ton of injuries to the pitching staff, a number of young pitchers have more than held their own. Ricky Romero is a legit Rookie Of The Year candidate. Scott Richmond has pitched very well as both a spot starter and a long man in the bullpen. Brian Tallet, thrust into the rotation due to injuries, has delivered quality outings in all but five of his starts this season. Future ace (insert hopeful question mark here) Brett Cecil showed some good stuff in the big leagues earlier than expected.

BAD NEWS: Oh the humanity! Virtually every pitcher on the team has been on the DL at one point or another. Twelve different men have made starts for the Jays, including some guy named Marc Rzepczynski whose name sounds like a 200-point Scrabble score. On the one hand, the fact that the Blue Jays are dipping into their Plan G options for starters and they've still held their own is pretty amazing, since I doubt any other club could withstand these many injuries and even be a .500 team. On the other hand, it's not a good sign when your pitchers keep dropping like flies. Makes it kinda hard to attract free agents or to entice young draft picks to sign when your club needs two hands to count the number of arm and shoulder injuries in its pitching rotation.

GOOD NEWS: The bullpen was unbelievably good in the first two months of the season.

BAD NEWS: The bullpen has been unbelievably bad in the last month and a half of the season. At this point, I have faith in Scott Downs and Jason Frasor. Maybe Jeremy Accardo. And I guess Dirk Hayhurst too, though he rarely seems to pitch in critical situations. But whenever you see Shawn Camp, Jesse Carlson or Brandon League enter a game, hold onto your hats. The zenith, of course, was BJ Ryan, who pitched so poorly that even though releasing him outright meant that the Jays had to eat $15 million, I'm okay with that move. If nothing else, it saves my mother from making her obligatory "he looks just like Casey At The Bat!" comment whenever Ryan enters a game. That is her second most-used Blue Jays observation, right after her 'Loverboy' nickname for Lyle Overbay.

GOOD NEWS: This might be the best defensive infield I've seen since the days of Gruber/Lee/Alomar/Olerud. Scott Rolen makes at least one jaw-dropping play every series. Hill/Scutaro are as solid a defensive combo up the middle as there is in the majors, and that's not even counting John McDonald on the bench. Lyle Overbay is one of the better-fielding first basemen around.

BAD NEWS: Well, there really isn't any defensive bad news to speak of, other than Wells' declining range in center and Lind's struggles in left (but given that he is groomed for a DH role, that's not surprising). So, let's instead talk about how the search for Toronto's new team president is taking longer to finish than a Norman Mailer novel. What's the holdup? Ted Rogers' death understandably slowed the hiring process last winter, but it's already mid-July and there haven't even been any rumors about what's going on. Is Paul Beeston just going to stick around? Did Rogers' death effectively put this whole season on ice and the real rebuild is being saved for 2010? Or, there's also my personal theory that the Jays are just waiting for me to wrap up my soccer and obligations before officially offering me the job in November. How kind of them! I knew that using that different font on my resume would pay off.

Ok, onto the awards portion....

Team MVP: Lind or Halladay, I guess Lind if you want to define this as the 'position player of the half-year' award

Team Cy Young: Halladay, duh. Though credit to Scott Downs, he at least deserves a mention.

Team Rookie of the Year: Romero, no question

Best game: May 12, 5-1 over New York at Rogers Centre. That was, without question, the biggest baseball game in Toronto since Game Six of the 1993 World Series. Never in my adult life had I experienced that kind of a buzz surrounding a game --- virtually everyone I know in Toronto went, it was discussed on every radio station, and it seemed like the whole city was fired up to see Doc take apart the Yankees and to see the Jays lineup embarrass A.J. Burnett. Even if this season ends up being a bust (which it will), that early fast start led to a perfect scenario for that one glorious game. Fun fact: I didn't go! I was out on a semi-date (it's a long story) wherein I ate a tofu burger and went to see the Star Trek movie. Good lord. I had my pal Dave texting me score updates throughout the night, so at least some vestige of my fandom remained.

Worst game: Without a shadow of a doubt, May 27 against Baltimore. The Jays were up 8-3 going into the bottom of the eighth, Halladay had just come out of the game and things were rosy. Then, the Orioles promptly scored five runs off the awful Toronto bullpen and sent the game into extras. Aaron Hill hit a two-run shot in the 11th to put the Jays ahead again, but then Ryan allowed four runs in the bottom of the inning to blow things yet again. I think this was the moment when BJ Ryan's Toronto tenure officially went down the toilet.

Best play: This one immediately leapt to mind. I was in the stands at this game, and the best part of the play may have been the spontaneous minute-long standing ovation that Rolen received afterwards. It was almost as if the entire crowd thought "Wow, maybe he actually is the Greatest Blue Jay Of All Time and it isn't just a clever Wilner nickname" all at the same time.

Funniest ha-ha moment: Rod Barajas scoring from first on a double and more or less collapsing onto home plate with a belly-flop of a side. He even laid flat on the ground for a few moments like Wile E. Coyote after he has just fallen off of a cliff.

Funniest sad moment: Cito Gaston forgets how to properly execute a double switch in Philadelphia. This would've been tragic, except Raul Chavez (who would've been taken out of the game) threw out a runner at second to end the inning, and Barajas came up the next inning anyway and cranked a pinch-hit homer that won the game. Someday, I need to follow Cito to a roulette table and simply bet on whatever number that he picks.

Best in-stadium change: Replacing the Rogers Video with a Roundhouse restaurant. Roast beef and turkey sandwiches as a pregame meal? Yes, please.

Worst in-stadium change: This is the last year for the Hard Rock Cafe, as the HRC isn't renewing its lease for 2010. Aw, man! Paying $5 for a window-side seat was a great, cheap way to catch a ballgame. Where else am I going to see a guitar autographed by Robert Fripp? Nowhere, that's where! (Or, possibly at the Hard Rock Cafe at Dundas Square. But I'm still outraged.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Smoke Monster From 'Lost' Given Own Primetime Spin-Off Series

From The Onion....

BURBANK, CA — Executives at ABC announced Monday that the network will premier a new Lost spin-off series this fall based around that show's popular smoke monster character.

The new series, a half-hour family-oriented comedy called Where There's Smoke, is touted by ABC as the new anchor of its Thursday-night lineup.

"Somewhere between the smoke monster's first appearance on Lost— when it was depicted as a strange unseen force uprooting trees—and that episode in season three where it grabbed Mr. Eko and smashed him against the ground until he was dead, this character became the breakout star of the show," said Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment. "And that's exactly why we're so excited about Where There's Smoke. We get to see the monster's light comedic side in a show about life, love, and good friends having good times."

"Because after all, Where There's Smoke, there's laughter," McPherson added.

ABC sources reported that the series will transplant the evil black cloud from the island of Lost to the suburbs of Chicago, where it works as a sports radio host, surrounded by "a whole new group of crazy characters." Actress Lea Thompson has signed on to play the monster's long-suffering wife, who must put up with her husband's screwball antics while raising the couple's two rambunctious children, Tanner and Smoky, Jr.

Veteran TV producer Chuck Lorre, of Dharma & Greg and The Big Bang Theory fame, will helm the show, which he said will focus mainly on the deadly creature's adjustments to suburbia and fatherhood, and its comically contentious relationship with its boss, a fussy radio station manager played by Richard Kind.

"The whole concept began with us asking, 'So what happens to the monster after it kills somebody and disappears down that ancient temple vent? What kind of life might it have?'" Lorre said. "And what we realized is that audiences really relate to this character and would like to see it in everyday situations, shooting the breeze with buddies at a local watering hole or murdering its son's soccer coach and depositing his lifeless body in a tree."

"And of course, you'll be hearing lots of its classic catchphrase, 'Brrrrr, chk-chk-chk-chk, muuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrhhh,'" Lorre added.

Lost producer Jack Bender has confirmed that the smoke monster will no longer be part of his show's regular cast. However, ABC has promised that Where There's Smoke will feature a number of guest appearances from Lost regulars. Sources said the pilot episode will feature an appearance by actor Michael Emerson as a slobby houseguest named Benjamin Linus who overstays his welcome, much to the chagrin of the smoke monster's wife.

Though the project has been in development for almost a year, negotiations reached a standstill last winter when representatives for the mysterious, billowing actor expressed concern that their client would risk being typecast as "just a smoke monster" if the role were carried into a new series.

"We're always sensitive to these kinds of things, but we actually think this new vehicle will make people realize [the monster] is a sophisticated actor with a great deal of range," said McPherson, who agreed to pay the show's star $2 million per episode after scenes between the smoke monster and a nosy, ethnic next-door neighbor tested well with audiences. "People love the smoke monster, and people love to laugh. This series is a can't-miss."

Added McPherson, "And I'm not just blowing smoke here."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Random Sports Stuff (plus UFC 100 picks)

I'm sure everyone has been this by now, but if you haven't, check out this amazing remix featuring some of the great sports press conference moments of all time. Even if you've never seen any of these original moments before, this is still worth watching because it's such a catchy tune. Let me just throw it out there right now: DJ Steve Porter is the next Moby. Or at least the equivalent of the guy who mixed the beats for Organized Rhyme.


Mark's Top Ten Pro Wrestling Tag Teams of ALL TIME

10. The Heavenly Bodies (Gigolo Jimmy Delrey, "The Doctor Of Desire" Tom Pritchard)
9. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon)
8. Demolition (Ax and Smash)
7. The Hardy Brothers (Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy)
6. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner)
5. Edge and Christian
4. The Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau, Carl Ouelette)
3. The Hollywood Blonds (Stunning Steve Austin, Flyin' Brian Pillman)
2. The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton, Sweet Stan Lane)
1. The Hart Foundation (Bret 'Hitman' Hart, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart)


Put it this way. If you're a retired and/or washed-up hockey player and you haven't been on Off The Record at some point, you're doing something wrong.


UFC 100 picks!

* Jon Fitch over Paulo Thiago, decision
Thiago is the guy who one-punched Josh Koscheck into oblivion last winter, thus leading to this follow-up match against the second-best welterweight in the world. Given that Kos was dominating Thiago before the surprise KO, I'm going to go ahead and call Thiago's win a solid 0.6 on the Matt Serra Upset Scale. Fitch should dominate the Brazilian en route to another decision win, since Fitch never finishes anybody.

* Alan Belcher over Yoshihiro Akiyama, knockout, R2
Akiyama is a high-priced import from Japan who is known for his flashy entrances and all sorts of controversial finishes. As much as the UFC would love to see Akiyama become their big star to market to Japanese fans, I'm sticking with the tried and true rule that newcomers from abroad lose their first UFC fights. 'Alan The Talent,' stupid nickname and hilariously ugly Johnny Cash tattoo aside, is a tough fighter and a good gatekeeper in the division. I'm looking at another Belcher win that earns him a shot at a solid middleweight contender.

* Dan Henderson over Michael Bisping, chokeout, R2
I've said it before and I'll say it again --- I don't know if Michael Bisping sucks or not. The UFC has done such a good job of protecting their British marketing golden boy that this Henderson bout is his first defining challenge in a three-year career. Even when Bisping lost to Rashad Evans, he had the out that his ideal division was at middleweight. But if Bisping loses here, then we'll finally see that the emperor (or, the Count) has no clothes. Frankly, I think this is going to happen. Dan Henderson is a world-class middleweight and I think he'll wrestle Bisping down and pound his cocky ass out.

* Georges St. Pierre over Thiago Alves, TKO, R2
GSP had this fight won last February. When Alves came into the ring for the traditional 'next challenger congratulates the champ' meeting following St. Pierre's destruction of BJ Penn, Alves had his head down, mumbled his congratulations and had a look on his face similar to that on the look on Dan Aykroyd's face when the Marshmallow Man showed up. I don't think there's anything that Alves can do to top what St. Pierre brings to the table, so the only question here will be if GSP remains in the welterweight division (to defend against the winner of the Mike Swick/Martin Kampmann fight in September?) or if he moves on to a superfight against Anderson Silva.

* Brock Lesnar over Frank Mir, TKO, R1
Over a year after their first encounter, this match will decide the undisputed heavyweight title and (the UFC hopes) will establish Lesnar as the top drawing card in MMA. A Lesnar victory turns the heavyweight division into a headline attraction that it hasn't been without Randy Couture holding the belt. The playbook is simple; Lesnar must avoid the Mir submissions that caught him in their first fight, and Mir has to try and withstand the initial Lesnar onslaught and wrestling attack to catch him in a hold when they're on the ground. Mir's upset win over AR Nogueira last winter, however, might be his downfall. Mir won that match by outstriking Nog, and thus in classic MMA fashion, Mir probably now considers himself hot shit on his feet. Though it's obvious to anyone with brain that the only way he can beat Lesnar is via submissions, Mir will probably try to show his balls by engaging in a striking battle with Lesnar early. My guess is, this will end horribly for Mir. Brock wins, Dana White needs a change of pants, and Fedor loses not even a minute of sleep.

Undercard matches....
* Stephan Bonnar over Mark Coleman, TKO, R1. Good lord, why is Mark Coleman getting another match? He literally almost died in the ring last January, and now he's fighting a solid striker in Bonnar? Stop the madness!

* Matt Grice over Shannon Gugerty, decision. Yep, don't care about this fight whatsoever.

* TJ Grant over Dong Hyun Kim, decision. Kim probably should win, all things being equal, but I'm being a homer for Canadian TJ Grant. Grant beat Ryo Chonan in his UFC debut, so I'm just presuming that Grant is unbeatable against all Asian fighters. This is the kind of high-powered analysis you'll get from me, folks.

* Jim Miller over Mac Danzig, decision. Another loss will knock Mac out of the UFC, and unfortunately, his deciding fight is up against a tough guy in Miller. His only loss came to lightweight powerhouse Gray Maynard, and thus I think Miller has enough to send Mac out of the UFC quicker than a hummingbird can fly.

* Jon Jones over Jake O'Brien, TKO, R2. O'Brien is a smothering wrestler known for being, uh, let's say 'methodical' (read: boring as hell), while Jones is arguably the most exciting prospect in the light-heavyweight division. I'm dearly hoping that Jones takes this one and continues his ascent up the ladder, and I suspect he'll bust out yet another wacky move to counter O'Brien's wrestling.

* CB Dollaway over Tom Lawlor, TKO, R1. Dollaway is another guy that the UFC is babying and bringing along slowly, ergo why he's being matched up against this stiff Lawlor. You may recall Lawlor as the guy who knocked out a drunken Dave Kaplan on The Ultimate Fighter. This is his only highlight.

Friday, July 03, 2009

My All-Star Ballot

With the All-Star Game next week, here is what my ideal rosters would look like --- forget fan and player voting, just my picks, 30-man rosters, at least one player represented per team and injuries are taken into consideration.

C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota
2B Ian Kinsler, Texas
3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
SS Marco Scutaro, Toronto
OF Jason Bay, Boston
OF Torii Hunter, Los Angeles
OF Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay

SP Roy Halladay, Toronto
SP Zach Greinke, Kansas City
SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit
SP Edwin Jackson, Detroit
SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
SP Mark Buehrle, Chicago
RP George Sherrill, Baltimore
RP Mariano Rivera, New York
RP Joe Nathan, Minnesota
RP Jonathan Papelbon, Boston
RP Andrew Bailey, Oakland

Bench C Victor Martinez, Cleveland
Bench SS Derek Jeter, New York
Bench 3B Chone Figgins, Los Angeles
Bench 2B Aaron Hill, Toronto
Bench OF Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland
Bench 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Bench 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis, Boston
Bench OF Nelson Cruz, Texas
Bench OF Adam Lind, Toronto
Bench OF Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle

C Brian McCann, Atlanta
1B Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2B Chase Utley, Philadelphia
3B Mark Reynolds, Arizona
SS Hanley Ramirez, Florida
OF Brad Hawpe, Colorado
OF Justin Upton, Arizona
OF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee

SP Dan Haren, Arizona
SP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
SP Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles
SP Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee
SP Josh Johnson, Florida
SP Randy Wells, Chicago
RP Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles
RP Heath Bell, San Diego
RP Francisco Rodriguez, New York
RP Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati
RP Ryan Franklin, St. Louis
RP Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee

Bench C/3B Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
Bench 1B Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
Bench SS Miguel Tejada, Houston
Bench 3B Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
Bench 3B David Wright, New York
Bench 2B Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh
Bench OF Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia
Bench OF Shane Victorino, Philadelphia
Bench OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
Bench 1B Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego