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!

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