Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl Prediction

This is a very tight Super Bowl, and it could go either way.  For example, my inevitable, "I just can't get over it" swearing rampage about how the Packers blew the NFC championship game could take place before the game, it could start midway through the second quarter and last the entire game, or it could all be condensed into five minutes of just extreme anger.  It truly is hard to predict.

While my simmering Packers rage is up in the air, my pick for the actual game is Seattle.  There are basically four types of result --- very tight win, close win, comfortable win or blowout --- possible for the Super Bowl and I can see the Seahawks winning any of them.  Yes, that's right, even a blowout, since I can't get last year's demolition of the Broncos out of my head.  It's possible the Seahawks defence is really just that iconically good and they're just tuning up the band for another Super Bowl rout.  While any of those four results is possible for Seattle, I don't see New England taking a blowout or even a comfortable (say, up by 13-20 points) win.  The Patriots could easily win a close game or a tossup, yet since these are the only two realistic scenarios I see for a NE victory, I have to go with the Seahawks due to the wider range of options.

Also, I'm picking the Seahawks due to a) lingering bad Patriots karma from this Deflategate nonsense, b) Seattle is maybe my favourite American city, c) it will make me feel 0.005% less bad about Green Bay's loss since I can chalk it up as them losing to a team of destiny and d) Marshawn Lynch gave Rob Gronkowski a pretty one-sided beating in their video game duel on Conan.

Bonus Super Bowl video!  Key & Peele with a pro edition of their legendary Football Names sketch!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Girlbusters II

Well, I must say I'm pretty pleased at the new Ghostbusters cast given that I cited three of the four during my fanboyish list of casting ideas.  The only one I didn't mention was Leslie Jones, who has so exploded onto the scene over the last year that now she stands out as an inspired choice.  She's the rare SNL cast member who doesn't seem quite comfortable in live sketches, yet I still really enjoy her work on the show --- between pretaped material and her near-unhinged Update desk bits, she's just one of those naturally funny, charismatic performers that makes anything she does worth watching.

Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy were almost locks to be involved given Paul Feig was directing, which is fine.  As I've written before, I like Wiig in virtually everything she's done *besides* SNL, and she was still an overall strong SNL cast member if wildly overexposed.  McCarthy has been solid gold in both of her previous Feig movies. 

Then we get to Kate McKinnon, which merits another standing ovation from me.  She is essentially what SNL thought it had in Wiig --- a wildly versatile "star of the show" actress with an endless supply of wacky characters.  Whereas Wiig's schtick got old quickly, however, McKinnon hasn't even been on SNL for three years yet and she's already by far the best act in the cast.  Getting her into the Ghostbusters remake is a well-deserved platform into making her a superstar.

If I wasn't already in "take all my money" for this Ghostbusters reboot, I sure am now.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Year's Worst Movies

There are a few notable 2014 movies that I've yet to see, but I'm pretty sure my garbage-detector is acute enough that the remaining films on my must-see list will, at worst, be disappointing rather than outright bad.  These are the ones that are the bottom of the barrel for the year, and if you like them, we may have to be reconsider our friendship.

See, 'disappointing' isn't the worst thing in the world for me.  I'm generally positive going into every movie I see, yet while I may expect something great and only get something good (or, even worse, meh), that's not necessarily enough to make my list.  I'm highlighting the movies that either were arrogantly striving for excellence or, even worse, assuming greatness and then getting smacked down like Icarus.  I'm highlighting the movies that aimed low and didn't even hit that benchmark.  I'm highlighting the movies that drown in their own pretension and create the stereotype of "artsy-fartsy films that Mark likes."  This is the true lowest of the low.  A piece of crap like Expendables 3 might waste my time but I knew what I was getting going into it.  These stinkers managed to either disappoint to a GREAT extent, or even sunk beneath my already-low expectations.

The dishonourable mention to #11 on my list, which was "Noah," a movie I found just flawed enough to properly write about.  Firstly, the rock-monster fallen angels, which was such a neat concept that I wish the entire movie had focused on that.  Secondly, the frustrating experience of watching a Darren Aronofsky film and knowing that there are some legitimately interesting ideas up there yet they're just not coming together in any kind of coherent way.  It is no surprise that Aronofsky's best film by far (The Wrestler) is the one that cuts out all of the artsy-fartsy horsecrap and just tells a straightforward story.  The basic idea here of Noah-as-genocidal-maniac and feeling that his role as extinguisher of the world extends to ALL humans is fascinating, as is the concept that humanity's love of its children is could be perceived as its fatal flaw.  There is just so much stupidity in this movie, however, that it overwhelms these plot points, which is saying something since these are about as big as Big Ideas get.  My friend Eric will be aghast that I found ten movies worse than Noah last year.

Onto the list!

10. The Gambler
Two hours of long, wordy, pseudo-intellectual naval-gazing speeches.  Some actors (John Goodman) can deliver them well.  Others (Mark Wahlberg) absolutely cannot.

9. Dumb and Dumber To
So, Harry hears from an old one-night stand (Kathleen Turner, whose career is just the  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ symbol at this point) that he has a long-lost daughter, and after meeting with Turner to get a letter from the daughter, he and Lloyd decide to go find her.  So the guys head off on a road trip, just like the first movie, yadda yadda yadda.  After about 10 minutes of screen time, they knock on a front door…and they're back at Kathleen Turner's house, as she exasperatedly tells them they followed the return address of an envelope.  There it is, the only legitimately amusing joke in the entire movie.  I just saved you two hours.

8. Monuments Men
Given the talent involved, you could argue that this one should be higher on sheer disappointment alone.

t6. Enemy
t6. The Double

Appropriately tied since they both cover the super-original and not-at-all overdone theme of the duality of man.  "The Double" is like a poor man's Terry Gilliam movie, and there are few things worse than bad Terry Gilliam.  "Enemy" has the WTF ending of the year, which isn't a compliment.

5. Bad Words
Imagine Bad Santa, except it's about Jason Bateman in a kids' spelling bee and not funny whatsoever.

4. Tammy
There's no such thing as middle ground with Melissa McCarthy, it's either a home run or a strikeout every time.  This film was the equivalent of striking out and accidentally letting go of the bat during your swing, and then the bat flies into the stands and hits Tom Hanks in the face.  (I spent five minutes thinking "who would be a good choice as a universally-respected celebrity" before deciding on Hanks.  This is about four more minutes than the writers devoted to Tammy's script.)

3. Let's Be Cops
I figured I would enjoy it since Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. are so funny on 'New Girl.'  I was sadly mistaken.

2. The Immigrant
Put it this way, Marion Cotillard is my favourite actress and I still thought this one was terrible.  I'm pretty sure this film was 17 hours long.

1. A Million Ways To Die In The West
A stunningly bad movie since it's played 85% straight.  If it'd just been a complete farce a la Family Guy, it would've still been pretty mediocre but at least good for a few laughs (or, even surprisingly watchable a la Ted).  Instead, however, you have Macfarlane actually trying to act, and even more inexplicably, trying to have an actual love story with Charlize Theron.  This was a complete misfire on every level.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Conan & Archer

Sterling Archer is far more animated than many of Conan's guests!  [/polite, mirthless chuckles]

Monday, January 19, 2015

Packers Postmortem

To be frank, I expected to be writing my annual Packers Postmortem piece today, and half-considered writing a big chunk in advance.  After all, surely Green Bay had no chance of beating the mighty Seahawks in the visitors' nightmare known as CenturyLink Field, especially not with Aaron Rodgers nursing an injured calf muscle.  I honestly expected the Packers to lose that game by about 20 points…

….and wow, I really wish they had, since that would've been so less agonizing than Sunday's collapse.  A 16-0 halftime lead and a 19-7 lead with two minutes and 15 seconds remaining and it was all for naught.  In short, ten reasons why the Packers lost this game:

* For the THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR, I watched the Packers get eliminated from the playoffs during my annual visit to Whitby to see my friends Kyle and Carrie.  This has become a full-blown jinx now.  First it was a loss to the 49ers in the second round, then another loss to the Niners in the first round and now finally a loss to Seattle in the conference finals.  If the Packers ever reach the Super Bowl, I would rather watch the game from the mouth of an active volcano than watch it in Whitby.

We usually plan these visits around the NFL playoffs since it's a natural time-filler, and yet this year, it just naturally worked out that I'd be there in time for another crushing Packers loss.  During the wild card weekend, when Green Bay was thankfully on a bye?  Kyle, Carrie and their daughter were just getting back from a vacation.  During the second round, when Green Bay had a hilarious win over the Cowboys?  Kyle had to work.  But oh no, the conference finals and the Packers going into the snake pit that is CenturyLink, oh sure, their schedule for the weekend was free and clear!  Dammit.

* We watched "Twelve Monkeys" on Saturday night, kind of a random choice of a film I'd somehow never seen.  That movie's director, of course, was the one and only Terry Gilliam.  The player who scored Seattle's first touchdown on a fake field goal trick play?  An offensive lineman named Garry Gilliam.  You can't make this stuff up.

* I've written before about how my entire family is seemingly cursed every time we purchase a new piece of NFL apparel, dating back to the time teenage Mark spilled milk over his Brett Favre jersey just prior to Super Bowl 32 (when the Packers lost to the Broncos).  For instance, my mom got a Tom Brady jersey for Christmas 2007, and she only wore it twice --- during Super Bowl 42 and during that game when Brady blew out his knee --- before relegating it to the closet, and to hell, forever.  So of course, like an idiot, the toque I brought up to Whitby was the new Green Bay toque that my folks got me for Christmas.

* The only piece of NFL apparel exempt from the curse is my beloved cheesehead…which sadly, I left back in London.  :(

* Since my mom adores Tom Brady, it occurred to me early in the fourth quarter that a New England/Green Bay Super Bowl would lead to some awfully interesting familial trash talk.  I said "Boy, if the Packers face the Patriots…" before clamping my mouth shut and instantly realizing what a massive jinx that would be.  Even that partial sentence was too much of a taunt for the football gods, apparently.

* A few too many dropped passes at key points in the game for Packers receivers.  If you're counting, yes, it took me until the sixth entry to give a reason from the actual game.

* Richard Sherman injured his elbow partway through the fourth quarter and he was clearly in a lot of pain, holding his arm limply across his body during stoppages in play.  Green Bay obviously tried to avoid Sherman as much as possible for most of the game, but with the guy hurting so badly, why not toss a pass in his direction to see just how much Sherman's play has been affected?  Some poor play-calling adjustment there from the Packers, which I'll address again in a minute.

* The muffed onside kick.  Oh, my lord, what a disaster.  Brandon Bostick, a little-used tight end in his third year with the team, isn't supposed to be one of the "hands guys" on the onside kick unit.  His job is to block.  With the ball coming at him, he decided to make a play for it, jumping right in front of Jordy Nelson (as you might guess, one of the hands guys) and having the ball bounce off his helmet and right to a Seahawks player.  Needless to say, veteran character actor Barry Bostwick would've done a better job on this play than Bostick did.

* So after the Seahawks scored late to go ahead by a point, they went for two, and Russell Wilson was chased out of the pocket.  He threw up essentially a 10-yard hail mary rainbow of a pass, and Haha Clinton-Dix was apparently all "double rainbows man, what does this mean?" and made no move on the ball, allowing a Seahawks player to snatch the ball for the extra two points.  If that play fails, as I presume it did in 99% of the other multiple universes, then the Packers' game-tying field goal ends up being the game-winner.  :(

* And finally, it's an annual tradition in these parts: Mark's rant about Mike McCarthy's mediocre coaching.  Green Bay capital-d Dominated the first half, shocking me and everyone who thought this was going to be a Seahawks rollover.  Seattle came out not only flat, but outright lousy with turnover after turnover.  What does McCarthy do with all of these gifts?  Gets six points out of a possible 14 by choosing to make field goals rather than try for touchdowns on short fourth-and-goal situations.  This game wasn't the Packers coming out with an innovative game plan or overwhelming Seattle on sheer talent; it was the Packers being virtually handed the NFC title by a Seahawks team having the worst day of its season, and McCarthy politely refusing.

Whereas the Packer teams of the last few years have had some notable flaws, the 2014 Pack were one of the better-rounded rosters in recent memory.  If any team was going to make a run at a Super Bowl, it would be this one, even despite Rodgers' troubling late-season injury.  With every possible break going the Packers' way, however, they still couldn't take full advantage thanks to a coach who was too conservative with both his scoring plays, and later in the game when the Seahawks were pulling every crazy thing they could out of their hat and McCarthy couldn't adjust.  He just kept running the ball and running the ball, trying to chew up clock despite his team's tenuous lead.  It was one of these games that, despite the tying field goal, you knew the Packers were losing in overtime.  It was just meant to be.

The only downside of the Packers' Super Bowl 45 win was that it gave McCarthy seemingly limitless job security.  On the one hand, Green Bay has reached the playoffs in each of the last six seasons.  On the other, they've now been outcoached and outclassed in each of the last four years; could the team added another championship or two with even a B- coach instead of a C-?  It's beyond frustrating that Rodgers' prime years are being wasted due to a lack of competence on the sidelines.  It may sound like the height of whininess to complain about a Super Bowl-winning coach, yet still, I don't think it's too much to ask to not fall for, say, fake field goals in NFC title games.    


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Surge Protector

For those of you concerned about my armpits, bad news.  Old Spice has seemingly discontinued its long-running "Pacific Surge" deodorant line, which is only the scent I've been using for years and years.

This is unfortunate for due to my long-standing affinity for the west coast.  Seattle and San Francisco are arguably my two favourite American cities, and the hour I spent waiting for a connecting flight in the Vancouver airport was quite pleasant indeed.  "Portlandia" is hilarious.  It is a dream of mine to attend San Diego Comic-Con*.  I once won a game of Monopoly due to multiple opponents landing on my Pacific Avenue hotel.  Pearl Jam is from Seattle.  Needless to say, I have nothing but love for the west coast, and the love stretched all the way to my preferred scent.

* = possibly in a fully-functional Rocketeer outfit, but that's another story.

Frankly, I shouldn't be surprised by Old Spice's move.  Look at the name --- 'surge' implies only a temporary event.  It was Old Spice's hint that this beloved deodorant wouldn't last forever.  That said, I wish I had seen it coming so I could've pulled an Elaine Benes and driven around town collecting boxes of the stuff.  Then, every time I went out in public and was doing my ablutions, I would've had to consider if what I was doing that day was truly surge-worthy. 

So now my next move is to try out a new Old Spice product since what the hell, I might as well stick with brand loyalty and their commercials are delightfully batshit crazy.  My new scent?  ARCTIC FORCE.  I felt the capital letters were necessary since it sounds less like the name of a deodorant than it does the title of a cartoon about, I dunno, a team of highly-trained polar bears and moose that protect the Northwest Territories.  Plus, buying an arctic-related product feels a bit more patriotic, right?  This is why I sing the national anthem every time my armpits reek, which might also be construed as a comment on Stephen Harper. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oscar Nomination Reactions

Nothing is more boring to me than the "Wikipedia entry" sort of biopic that just rotely portrays every key event of a real figure's life with all the wit and charm of a fourth-grader's book report.  Occasionally a movie like this can be forgiven if it's carried by a really exceptional lead performance, yet sometimes, even a good performance can't save a movie's overwhelming blandness.

I bring this up because, you guessed it, The Theory Of Everything and The Imitation Game were both nominated for Best Picture, and TIG has a decent chance of winning.  It was nominated in all the key categories (Picture, Director, Editing, Screenplay), it has a well-liked star in Benedict Cumberbatch, and it has the Harvey Weinstein Oscar campaign machine behind it, ranking out info folder after info folder about what a great person Alan Turing was about how unfair it was that he was so persecuted for his homosexuality.

Two points about this.  Firstly, it is absolutely true that Turing got a raw deal and he should absolutely be celebrated as a hero.  Secondly, this also has nothing to do with Imitation Game's quality as a movie, which is telling about how the studio feels about the actual quality of its big Best Picture hopeful.  Essentially the campaign is "vote for our movie because Alan Turing was a great man," as if a Oscar would help right this shameful moment in British history.

Amusingly, Imitation Game's campaign has seemingly taken the wind out of the sails of TOE, whose own "vote for this story about a great man" campaign is about a person better known to the average person in 2014, Stephen Hawking.  On the one hand, Eddie Redmayne's performance as Hawking is better than Cumberbatch's as Turing --- Redmayne has a higher degree of difficulty given how he literally can barely move as the character, and Cumberbatch's Turing frankly comes off as a poor man's version of his Sherlock Holmes.  On the other hand, Imitation Game is a decent if unspectacular film as a whole, whereas Theory Of Everything is just totally mediocre.  Redmayne and Felicity Jones are both very good in their thankless roles but they have absolutely nothing to work with.

My point is that these two films are basically the definition of the "Oscar Movie" stereotype and so while I shouldn't be surprised to see them in the Best Picture field, it's disappointing that they made it in while literally dozens of better movies were left out.  This could all be a moot point since Boyhood is the heavy favourite to actually win Best Picture and that would be a great choice, yet if Imitation Game's campaign succeeds in winning over the always-bland Academy voters, then we'll have our first outright mediocre Best Picture* since A Beautiful Mind in 2001….another generic, by-the-numbers look at a major historical figure.

* = I'm one of the few who actually thought Crash was a pretty good movie, yet obviously it had no business getting nominated, let alone winning the award over Brokeback Mountain.

More observations and mostly complaints about the Oscar nominations….

* I simply do not get by The Grand Budapest Hotel, of all Wes Anderson movies, is suddenly the one that resonated with the Academy.  It's not markedly different in tone or presentation than any of his other films, and frankly, I thought the movie was pretty average --- wouldn't even crack my top five or six Wes Anderson films.  Maybe I have to go back and watch it again to figure it out; it's possible my original review was tainted by the environment of a super-crowded theatre and the annoying guy next to me who kept rustling in his seat the entire time.  It's hard to fully enjoy a movie when you're in a passive-aggressive turf war over a theatre chair armrest.

* Can you place bets in Las Vegas over just how many Oscar nominations Meryl Streep will end up with?  She's up to 19, already far and away the record, and at age 65, you have to figure she has at least another 10 years of work in her.  I think 25 nominations seems like an easy threshold to reach, and if she continues to work into her 80's, hitting the 30-nomination mark doesn't seem out of the question.

* Birdman wasn't nominated for Best Editing, since y'know, editing an entire movie together to look like one continuous shot isn't THAT impressive.  *forehead slap*  This particular snub more or less dooms Birdman's shot as a Best Picture upset since every BP winner since 1980 has also been at least nominated for the editing Oscar.

* Two Days One Night is at the top of my must-see list since my beloved Marion Cotillard finally scored a long-overdue second nomination!  Cotillard has been a Markademy Award staple for the past several years, yet she hadn't received another Oscar nomination since her win in 2007.  Fun fact: I recently met my friend Dan's girlfriend, who hails from France, and our conversation turned to the movies.  I mentioned how I adored Cotillard, and she kind of wrinkled her nose in surprise.  Apparently over in France, they're somewhat confused by how Cotillard, of all actresses, is the one who broke through in North America.  The general consensus over there is that she's fine and everything but…[Michael Bluth voice] her?

* The Lego Movie not getting nominated for Best Animated Film is beyond a travesty.  It was such a snub that I didn't even notice it --- I was texting a friend with joy about "Everything Is Awesome" being nominated for Best Song, and she shot back with "Uh, the movie got snubbed, bro."  And then I was all like "Shwaaaah?  No way!"  And then she was all like, "Way!"  Then I was all, "No way!"  And she retorted with, like, "Way!"  This went on for two hours until both of our smartphone batteries died.

* Speaking of travesties, no Force Majeure for Best Foreign Film?

* Now that Emma Stone has scored a nomination, every one of the four principles in Zombieland (Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin) can call themselves Oscar nominees.  Counting Bill Murray's cameo, that's five from that movie.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Macho Man

For those who never watched pro wrestling, the following video will be a) silly, and b) borderline incomprehensible.  For those of us who grew up watching pro wrestling, however, it's incredible.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Other People's Writing

* Grantland's Shea Serrano and Jason Concepcion evaluate the top 10 movie fighters of all time, with loads of other awards given in various categories.  Their top choice is pretty solid, but I feel they left out Butch Cassidy.  It's hard to top his traditional fight-opening move.

* An absolutely gorgeous memoir/story from Joe Posnanski about his start in journalism.  Did I ever write about how I actually met Posnanski a couple of years ago?  He was visiting Toronto for a story and I ran into him at work, giving me an opportunity to shake his hand and compliment him on his writing.  Nice fellow!

* Also from Posnanski, he writes about the intertwining lives of Gordie Howe and Jean Beliveau.  I think I speak for all Canadians when I say that I could read "Gordie Howe is tough as nails" and "Jean Beliveau was the classiest man in the world" stories all day.

* Grantland's Robert Mays profiles the Packers' offensive line, giving them a nice spotlight in the wake of their collective impressive season.  I admit, I was worried about the O-line going into the year but they've played well. My only fear now is that this article was a massive jinx heading into this weekend's playoff game and now Aaron Rodgers will get sacked nine times.

* Another terrific review from Wesley Morris, my favourite film critic, looking at Ana DuVernay's "Selma."  It was a very good film, one worthy of a Best Picture nomination, even if some of the big names in bit parts were oddly distracting.  Martin Sheen and Cuba Gooding Jr. each getting a minute of screen time?

* The Grantland staff steals my acclaimed 'Listamania' gimmick and creates a bunch of top five lists in a nod to the movie Top Five.  Now, for those who haven't seen the film, Chris Rock plays a movie star who is rather dissatisfied with his marriage and realizes this over the course of a long-form interview with a reporter (the always-terrific Rosario Dawson).  In real life, Rock did a ton of long-form interviews to promote this movie, and now he's getting a divorce from his actual wife.  If we find out that Rock is hooking up with one of those reporters, this whole thing is going through the looking glass.  

* The highlight of Grantland's recent "Paul Thomas Anderson tribute week" was this sprawling oral history of Boogie Nights that's almost as sprawling as the movie itself.  I really need to see this film again at some point --- I saw it once when I was about 16 and didn't care for it at all, yet I readily admit that's far too young to appreciate a PTA film.

* Speaking of sprawling, here's an interview the Guardian's Dorian Lynskey conducted with U2 that covers just about everything under the sun.  It's from October, so it's a bit outdated in regards to things like Bono's bicycle accident and subsequent injuries, which I'm trying to convince myself aren't too serious.

* Taking a postmodern look at the idea of a 'best of' list for the year, Rolling Stone instead released its list of the year's best….lists.  This is the rare Rolling Stone countdown that doesn't have a musician from the 1960's or 70's at the top.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Random Nonsense

Yikes, well, at least "post more often" wasn't a New Year's resolution?

I had literally four different friends e-mail me with the news that Bono may never play the guitar again, which was the big media takeaway from his insightful, semi-rambling letter to fans on  On paper, this is a major development though really, it's nothing to panic over. 

As any U2 fan knows, Bono actually only plays guitar on maybe three or four songs per concert, and even then, it's just some basic rhythm chords while Edge handles all the heavy lifting.  Bono, in fact, has gone on record many times over the years about how he's actually a crappy guitarist --- his stock line is "I wanted to play guitar badly, and now I do play it badly."  It's also not a huge blow to U2's songwriting process, as most of Bono's contributions are reportedly* mostly restricted to melodies, which he can do on piano just as well as he can while strumming on a guitar.

* = it's generally presumed that even though every U2 song is credited to all four band members, Edge comes up with most of the music, Bono with the lyrics and some of the melodies and Adam/Larry contribute some ideas but are largely there for quality control.  This could be complete nonsense, of course, given how the other big perception about U2's songwriting process is that it's a complete shambles of jamming and fitting random hooks and rhythms into cohesive songs, which is why their albums take so damn long to record.  This theory could also be nonsense, which is my long-winded way of saying that I have no idea how U2 writes their songs.  This footnote is pointless.

The bigger takeaway for us fans, however, is just how badly Bono was messed up by his infamous cycling accident.  He still has months of recovery ahead, and while I'm obviously speaking from a position of selfishness since I have concert tickets for July, my bigger concern is that the guy is able to get back to good health.  That accident was no joke, internet punchlines aside.  I think I speak for everyone who saw Chris Martin half-ass his way through "Beautiful Day" that the world needs Bono back in top form.

Fun little video that's gone viral in recent days, illustrating how a loudmouth was served some humble pie at Disney World.  I must say, Gaston seems to have mellowed over the years after being such a gigantic asshole in 'Beauty and the Beast.'


The old Gaston, for instance, would've fit right in with the meatheads on this old bodybuilding message board who get into an argument about (I'm not even kidding) how many days are in a week.  In the end, it's either an elaborate troll job, or a guy who finally realized his mistake and was trying to save face…though really, the other arguer is just as absurd for continuing on with post after post.

Since this blog is geared solely towards content for the mass audience, let me now focus on street nicknames in London, Ontario.

If you're familiar with the little village of Byron (and who isn't), the nickname of "Snake Hill" has long been assigned to the portion of Commissioners Road just east of Baseline Road/Springbank Drive, as the road has a few twists as it goes uphill and into the Westmount area.  The one holdout to this nickname has been, you guessed it, me.  For years, I confusedly thought "Snake Hill" was the southern portion of Colonel Talbot Road, which was an honest mistake to make since it's clearly the curvier of the two hills, yet I was still roundly pilloried and called a fool for my error.

Now, however, I feel my mistake was really just a vision of the future.  The old Snake Hill has been quite significantly smoothed out by construction, turning the road into just one lazy 'S' with very generous room for turning.  It's well lit with wide lanes and (this is an important proviso), I wouldn't at all be worried were I driving up or down this hill during a driving rainstorm or a huge blizzard.  The end of Col. Talbot, however, has three or four curves, one blind curve, it's blanketed by trees, you'll see the occasional freakin' deer on the road (!) and there aren't nearly as many streetlights.  I'm hard-pressed to think of any lights, in fact.  This was the true Snake Hill to begin with, and now it's just piling on at this point.

I really should run for mayor of Byron to correct this wrong.  This may be my entire campaign platform, aside from the first step of actually asking that Byron have a mayor at all.

Mark Ruffalo's fantasy football team has to be called the Ruffalo Bills, right?