Monday, August 30, 2004
B! TALK DAILY: I DON'T WANT MY MTV
So, I was obviously excited (I have no life) when the MTV Music Awards were aired last night. Unfortunately, like a lot of TV on the air these days, I was extremely disappointed.
They totally sucked!!
There was no host, the sound kept getting screwed up, there were a lot of unnecessary delays and the crowd in the front rows needed to be sedated. They were so loud and obnoxious the winners couldn't even hear themselves when they were giving their speeches.
Both my wife and I kept changing the channel often throughout the broadcast. You know its bad when we'd rather be watching an A&E biography on Issac Newton.
Biggest shock of the night? The Kerry daughters actually got booed! Never thought I'd see that at an award show.
Friday, August 27, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: ITS A BLOOD SPORT
Thursday, August 26, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: MS. POT, MEET MR. KETTLE
I thought the Liberal Party of Canada had trademarked the term "Coalition of Idiots"
POLITICS AS USUAL: TRAGIC, BUT NECESSARY
Unfortunately for him, it didn't end very well. And you know what? I'm happy about it.
I have no tolerance for those who not only break the law, but who endanger the public and members of the police force. Frankly, this man should have known that when he pointed his sawed-off shotgun at police officers that his time on this earth would be exeedingly short.
This guy has gathered little sympathy from the people I have spoken to about the incident yesterday and today. Most feel (as I do) that we all have seen enough news reports (and even movies and television programs) to know how cops react to those situations.
In my opinion this abusive husband, father and eventual hostage-taker got what he deserved.
Friday, August 20, 2004
MY-SO CALLED LIFE: I'M A STOOD UP GUY
And its a horrible feeling.
Maybe I'm a little too self aware, but I can't think of a more awkward feeling than sitting alone at a table--alone--with the waitress periodically coming up to you and asking "Still waiting for someone?" I don't know if its just me, but I feel like everyone in the room is staring at me and saying "Pathetic guy--table for one". I'm sure no one is even noticing, but it doesn't feel like it.
Then the neurosis takes over--I start contantly checking my phone for messages, blackberrying overdue e-mails that I haven't responded to, all in a desperate attempt to look busy and nonchalant. Man, am I uncomfortable.
So, after an hour of waiting, I'm so eager to get the check (for my one drink) that I'm practically standing at the server station punching my MasterCard into the computer for her. I feel embarassed. An important guy wouldn't get stood up! He stands them up!
Anyway, I see my friend parked on the other side of the restaurant on my way out the door. We have a drink, talk shop--all is forgotten. But it *sniff* still hurts inside.
Input time--what makes you feel most awkward in public? Going to the movies alone? Walking naked in the local park? A public drug bust in front of your friends and family?
Thursday, August 19, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: HI-TECH PROTESTS AT G.O.P. CONVENTION
I have to give them their due--some pretty creative stuff.
Nerds and anarchists unite!
POLITICS AS USUAL: THE G-G IS G-GREEDY
I'm not one to criticize politicians who travel on parlimentary business. No matter what level, I think that certain travel expenses are just part of running a government. However, Ms. Clarkson takes wasteful spending to another level. To be honest, its not the actual amounts that she spends that get me so steamed--I'm used to this Liberal government wasting my tax dollars on frivilous things. And I also have no problem with the position of the Governor General. I respect and appreciate the heritage and conventions of this country.
What actually really makes me mad is the total arrogance of Clarkson (and don't forget her hubby, the "philosopher" John Ralston Saul, who never met a junket he didn't like). Maybe she spent too many years in the CBC executive program, "How to spend millions and have nothing to show for it". Maybe she's feels all her hard work for said network and as the G-G, reaching out to "average Canandians" entitles her to spend tax dollars as she sees fit with no accountability. Year after year, we have seen the budget of the G-G continue to climb, while we are granted less and less information as to how and for what purpose Clarkson spends our money so "robustly".
I believe that our Governor General embodies much of what is wrong with Canada. She reflects an attitude of entitlement, that the government is there to serve and promote the cultural elite in Canada. At every function, event or ceremony she attends, she gives off a kind of vibe that she's better than the average Canadian. And her actions reflect just that--a lack of respect for the average Canadian. Actually, speaking of the cultural elite, I get some of the same vibe from many of their memberhsip as well. Whether its the political musings of Margaret Attwood or the rants of Andy Barrie every morning on CBC radio, there seems to be two kinds of people in their world--them and the rest of us.
Its a shame that I feel at way about one of the most prestigious political appointees in the country. Small wonder that Canadians are turning away from politics and current events in droves. Canadians today can't relate to the seemingly surreal world of politics. And when they can't relate, they tune out.
I think Ms. Clarkson has forgotten that just because you represent the Crown in Canada, doesn't mean you're royalty.
When's her term up?
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: CELEB SPOTTING
Gimmie your best star sighting. When? Where? Did you actually approach them?
ON THE 1S AND 2S: GETTING YOUR BIG (JAIL) BREAK
His new album, Godfather Buried Alive, was released last Tuesday and has already on its way to going platinum. Shyne is currently being sought after by some of the hottest producers like Dr. Dre, Timbaland and others. Everyone wants Shyne then on their single and remix. He is also being courted by a number of major record labels to bring his independent label imprint, Gangland Records, under their umbrella. Rumour is the numbers being thrown around are in the tens of millions. So why is he different than the last artist who blew up?
He's currently in a maximum security jail serving a 10-year sentence for aggrevated assault.
You remember Shyne. He was the one who actually pulled the gun when he was with P. Diddy and J. Lo at that club. Diddy took off, Shyne shot off. Diddy walked, Shyne got locked. As a result, Shyne had most of his vocals recorded via the payphone at Clinton Correctional Facility in New York. Nevertheless, its still one of the most anticipated albums of 2004.
While Shyne won't be the only artist who has recorded material behind bars, he probably will be the most successful in recent history. In fact, Godfather will probably outsell his first self-titled album, which he made long before his run-in with the law. Guess he won't have any problem
Shyne recently had his phone privileges revoked when the Warden realized that a) he basically made an entire album under his nose and b) he's been doing numerous radio interviews since its release.
Your thoughts? Is its OK for Queen Martha to make money in jail?
My opinion--while I might not agree with convicts getting paid, I do think they need to be doing more that just spending 23 hours per day in a cell. I lean towards more labourious tasks than cutting a platinum album (i.e hard manual labour), but I still feel that having inmates do nothing all day doesn't make sense. More on this point in a future post.
Monday, August 16, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: THE SCOOP ON SCOOP LAWS
In today's Toronto Star, columnist Ian Urquart has written an excellent article that really gives some insight into why Mr. Flaherty has proposed such a measure. It makes reference to New York City, where there is already a scoop law in place as well as some of Mr. Flaherty's personal background about his hands-on research into this problem.
In 2002, I was working for the Flaherty campaign as an organizer. I can tell you that I was somewhat concerned with this policy and the political repercussions it might have if a PC Government led by Jim Flaherty would have tried to push this policy into law.
I have since totally changed my opinion. Here's why.
During the campaign, Flaherty's "homelessness policies" took a prime focus. In fact, when he originally announced his proposal, it was on the front page of every daily across Ontario. At that time, our opponents took great acception to being in the same party as Mr. Flaherty, saying they would NEVER bring in such a law (cue clenching of fists). There were some pundits that said that oneof the reasons Mr. Flaherty lost was becuase of his "silly" ideas.
As you might have noticed, I live in Toronto. Undoubtedly, we have a large homeless population here in Toronto than probably any city in Canada. After the campaign, I took a little more notice to the situation on the street, and you know what? I started to realize that Flaherty had something. If you've ever been downtown, you have surely come across a homeless individual. I do every single day. On my way to work, I encounter literally dozens of individuals who are in definite need of help. They are usual mentally unstable or drunk. They are lying on sewer grates, absolutely filthy and sometimes not even conscious.
Is it really compassionate to leave them there? Is it really compassionate to toss them a few quarters and nothing else? Is it compasisonate to give them a sandwich and not get them back on their medication? Not on your life.
And the situation is getting worse. In the last 6 months, I have seen a marked increase in homeless people camping out on street corners begging for money. I was also witness to the small army of homeless folk that show up spot on 4:30 every day at City Hall to grab a good spot to camp out for the night.
Something needs to be done. And more "outreach teams" isn't the way to do it. We need to get these people off the streets and give them proper care. And there needs to be empowering legislation to do it. But we also need the funds as well. I do not agree with the current staus quo, where a city like Toronto spends over $100 Million each year throwing money at shelters and outreach programs and they can't even tell you how many people stay in any given shelter each night. Instead, we need to focus our investments on treatment--not just finding them a place to stay for the night. We also need accountabilty measures to ensure that the money is being spent on indivduals in need, not on creating an industry.
I think Flaherty's policies on homelessness are worth implementing. Get these people off the streets. That's real compassion.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
EBERT AND SURLY: FAHRENHEIT 9/11
At the request of Ms. Gordo (Hey, always try to give 'em what they want), I wanted to do an (arguably dated) review of Michael Moore's latest diatribe against President George W. Bush, Fahrenheit 9/11.
When this film came out, I was actually nervous about the damage it would do to the conservative cause not only in the States (most obviously in the upcoming U.S. election) but in Canada and other countries. As I mentioned when I birthed this space, I have become increasingly concerned that conservatives as a whole are getting a bad rap. People seem to think we are all on the take of one defence contractor or another (I have still to receive my July cheque from CAE Inc, ya bums!), or at least a corporate lackey. So it was with that in mind I had some concern that the 94% of the Canadian population who don't eat, breathe and sleep politics would unfairly take Moore's commentary as gospel.
As per usual, my concerns were unfounded.
If you have seen any of his other films (Roger & Me, Bowling For Columbine), you know exactly what to expect from Mr. Moore--no holds barred social commentary on current events. Often, his arguments are, frankly, pretty convincing. Why? One, because his commentary was apolitical--he didn't like Republicans or Democrats. Two, he always took the corporate elite down a peg, and put the spotlight on "regular joes" (presumably like him). Fahrenheit 9/11 does neither. And for that, I think its less effective.
It is clear that Moore has a viceral hatred of Dubya. And it shows through in technicolour. Gone are the days when he just went after all politicians. In this film, he doesn't even touch Kerry or any other Democrat. He spends all his time going after Bush, Cheney and other Republican notables. Which makes it look like one big ad for the Democratic campaign. I think moviegoers (and voters) know bias when they see it. They might agree, they might disagree, but I believe they tend to recategorize something when they instinctively know it has a slant--and usually that makes it less legitimate in their eyes.
Secondly, Moore aims mostly on talking about how stupid Bush apparently is. He takes a decidely elitist tone, seeming to suggest that anyone who voted or intends to vote for George W. is as "stupid" as he is. I guess Moore spend too much time spending the millions he made on Columbine to notice that many of the voters that make up Bush's base are the same people he used to defend--blue collar working folk. He might wear the ratty ballcap and look like he just rolled out of bed, but Moore is definitely losing his common touch.
As far as his commentary on the war in Iraq, I found it interesting that he choose to focus on the apparent unpopularity of it amongst the people that are fighting it--troops in the U.S. military. I realize that many new recruits to the military do so to escape their own sad environment (poverty, unemployment, etc), but take 10 minutes to talk to a veteran--war is hell!! What do you think you are training to do? Its not like being in the Canadian military, where you spend most of your service time filling sandbags to stop floods in Manitoba. What do you think the M-16 is for? Being poor doesn't make you stupid. In war, someone always dies. Now, people can debate whether the war was worth fighting, but ultimately they (the soliders and the American public) must have known what they were in for when they declared WAR on Iraq. I guess the only popular war is a bloodless one (well, for our side anyway).
For a commentary on the "facts" presented in 9/11, I would like to direct you to an article published by Christopher Hitchens in Slate. This provides a useful primer to anyone who suspects Moore might be a taaaaaaaad biased in his "research". You can print it out and give it out at the next WTO protest.
Bottom line--I actually did find it funny and an amusing piece of political commentary (hence the one finger up). But a documentary? Hardly (hence the one finger down). People will walk out of Fahrenheit with the same views as when they left. This film isn't powerful enough to really change people's minds--especially when Moore is so over-the-top.
Crisis adverted. Thanks, Mike!
B! TALK DAILY: NOT ALL ADS ARE EQUAL
There is no question that some marketing firms earn their keep, others don't. I think we have all seen some absolutely brilliant advertising and some that make you wonder how those geniuses can afford to feed their families. When I mean brilliant, I don't mean that it somehow increased marketshare. These are ads that had buzz, with lame-asses like me talking about it in forums like this.
I wanted to begin with an ad that I can only charitably call garbage. If you go to the movies lately, you're more likely than not to see those new ads by Bell Sympatico featuring the baby that speaks like Nitche, but sounding like Stephen Hawking. This doesn't work on so many different levels--namely, all of them. Same with the accompanying radio ads featuring two "Speak and Spell" machines in dry conversation. I tried in vain to find one online. Too bad, as it was a fine specimen of banality.
I have not met one person who hasn't mentioned these ads in some form or another. Its obvious that Ma Bell (no relation) doesn't have a monopoly on wit. If the purpose of this inept advertising campaign was to remind us all of their inept internet service, then mission accomplished.
Now, if you want an absolutely hilarious campaign, then B-Double's got one for you. I've only seen it once, but I happened to find it online. This "Mulit" ad, in the guise of a "Bollywood" movie trailer, is damn brilliant. Like the lemming that I am, I was telling everybody about it afterwards, which I'm sure is why Absolut Vodka spends money on these ads (because I'm sure there's no money being spent on improving the product*). If you haven't seen it, download the trailer. At least your life won't have been a total waste.
I am now taking submissions for the best/worst ad. If you can find the link, post it here and I'll compile something.
Friday, August 13, 2004
HIPSTER TV: YOUR FIRED!
On September 9th, my life begins again. I'm not a huge fan of reality TV, but I watched every single episode of this particular series.
POLITICS AS USUAL: AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER
I think that if Governor McGreevey had been caught (ahem) with his pants down "entertaining" a woman, it would have been business as usual. Am I right?
Another question I'll throw out as well: Should he have resigned? Is there a co-relation between his private life and political life?
My 0.02 cents? I understand why he resigned: He didn't want to spend the rest of his term defending his little "indiscretion", so he took the (in relative terms) easy way out. But on the other hand, he is a Democrat from New Jersey. While many (if not most) of those voters are of the more working class, blue-collar variety, you would think his base would be a little more forgiving then, say, a Baptist Republican Governor. As well, he was honest (albeit after he was about to be hit with a lawsuit) in coming clean about the affair, and I'm a big believe that when you say to the public "Look, I made a big mistake. I'm sorry. It will be corrected", the public often forgives.
It would have been interesting to see him take a shot at another term.
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: WHAT HEALTH CARE CRISIS?
Called the doctor's office at 4:00 Wednesday. Was in at 10:15 the next day. Not bad for Toronto.
Anyone else had different or negative experiences? Most of mine and my families have been positive.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: BASS FISHING AND THE U.S. ELECTION
While funny, am I the only one that thinks that was a brilliant tactic?
You speak directly to your base, you contrast yourself against your opponent (in this case, a wealthy career politician) while playing to your strengths as a regular guy who understands regular people.
I think Bush got voters.... hook, line and sinker (I had a lot of them, that''s the one I went with).
POLITICS AS USUAL: WE MUST FUND OUR OLYMPIC ATHLETES
In fact, Australia, which has just over half our population, spends 3 times more on their athletes than we do here in Canada. And the results speak for themselves--we won 44 in LA in 1984, only 17 in Sydney and predictions are that we are only likely to win 12 to 14 in Athens this year.
I think that's a disgrace.
For the money (IOC Vice President Dick Pound has suggested Canada needs to top up funding from the current $16 million to at least $50 million) I think the returns are substantial. For the price the federal government invests on its Federal Tobacco Strategy, we could properly fund our Olympic programs and give our athletes a fighting chance.
But what's the return on our investment? Why should we give more money for sport?
Civic pride. We cannot underestimate the nation-building qualities that Team Canada has. It reminds us that we are proud to be Canadian and why. It allows us to focus on an activity as a nation and rally aroundour fellow citizens as they compete against the world.
Research and Development. There is no question that there are substantial synergies between training for the olympics and research and development. And there are economic and social benefits to that. If Canada were to establish a (or multiple) world-class athletic institutes designed to focus on athletic excellence, do you not think that both business and science from around the world would be drawn to it?
Global Stature. Frankly, I think Canada does a poor job promoting itself abroad. The same people that think the Olympics are a waste of time also think that there is no correlation to our funding (or lack thereof) of NATO and our influence (or lack thereof) within the UN. The Olympics are just another way to tell the world that Canada is a global leader. Millions of people across the world watch the Olympics every four years. Standing first on the medal podium is some of the best tourism and investment marketing Canada could do.
That's something I am willing to spend more money on.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY
What's next? Asparagus quesadillias?
Yo Quiero something else.
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: BOW TO THE CREATOR(S)
In a time when the divorce rate is at 50% and society makes it extremely easy to back out of wedding vows, I wanted to say publicly how proud I am of my parents. They are role model for young couples like me who are just starting out. As many of you would agree, its somewhat of a daunting task. No one wants intends to get divorced when they marry; it happens over time.
But my parents (and Peggles parents for that matter) have stayed together though it all.
One day I asked them how they did it. It wasn't a magic formula and they didn't indulge in heavy barbituates (unless TV qualifies as a barbituate). This is what they told me was the key to their suucess:
1) Communication--talk to each other and work through your problems;
2) Humour--life is too short to to be mad all the time and sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself ;
3) Memories--never forget what made you fall in love in the first place; focus on the good times;
Some sage advice.
So here's to you Mom and Dad. Happy Anniversary*. I'm very proud of you both.
RIGHT SIDE OF MY BRAIN: CANDIDATE PLATFORMS
Jim Flaherty Campaign RIGHT HERE
Frank Klees Campaign RIGHT HERE
John Tory Campaign RIGHT HERE
You can look at each and judge for yourself.
I've made my choice. Now you decide.
And Don't forget to vote on September 18th!
RIGHT SIDE OF MY BRAIN: A PARTY'S DECISION
Now that John Tory released his platform, Ontario Conservatives now are better able to decide who is the best captain to steer that ship--and what heading they want it travel.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE DAY
EBERT & SURLY: COLLATERAL
Being a huge Michael Mann fan (Heat, The Insider) I was very much looking forward to this film. If you have seen either of these two films (or Ali, or Miami Vice) you will understand immediately what to expect from this film--gritty realism and damn good directing. From a cast point of view, I for one have never doubted Tom Cruise's acting chops (see The Last Samurai), but I have to admit I wasn't sure if Jamie Foxxxxxxxx woul dbe able to pull of the "everyman" routine as the hapless cabdriver. I was wrong.
The plot breaks down like this. Dude (Cruise) hires cabbie (Foxx) to take him around L.A. as he "closes a real estate deal" but is, in actuality, a contract killer. Mayhem ensues. From the beginning, this movie is all about character development and dialogue. It builds up slowly, letting you get to know Foxx's "Max" as a man just trying to get by in life. Enter "Vincent" an indifferent hitman that is likely a reflection of Cruise's darker side to his "All-American Role Model" image (well, minus the whole Scientology/L. Ron Hubbard cult-member thing). The intial interaction between them is brilliant, as the audience gets little tidbits of their personality traits as an appetizer, rather than laying it all out in the first 15 minutes.
Many people have commented on Cruise as the bad guy, so I won't elaborate, but I will say this: its his belivability that makes it work. There wasn't one moment in the film that I didn't believe that Cruise, as Vincent wasn't a total prick. That was a real risk when good-guy Cruise (a la Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire) was signed on for this role. If I had, this film would have fallen on its face.
The film is somewhat violent, but not overly so, and it uses that violence as part of the plot, rather than being gratutitous. Considering the trailer shows a body falling on a cab, I think a semi-intelligent moviegoer knows what to expect.
Here's my one beef--the ending. While I'm sure no one is reading this anyway, I won't give away the end of the movie. I will however say that it is totally Hollywood. I can just see studio executives now: "Well, Michael, its a good film, but its about half an our too long. Let's just wrap it up quickly, shall we?". Result? Totally predictable ending which isn't on par with the rest of the movie. Why spend so much time ramping things up in such excellent fashion when you put on an ending that made you think the ADHD screenwriter just got bored writing and cut and pasted the same ending from 100 other films?
As a whole, the movie was a good use of my $13.50. However, I'm looking forward to the "Alternate Ending" feature I hope will be included when "Collateral" comes out on DVD.
THE REBIRTH OF COOL....IF COOL WAS A WHITE GUY IN HIS EARLY 30'S...
So it begins.
I have just survived a number of events that would make a lesser man fall down and beg his God to smite him (just kidding, Peggles). I turned 30 in May, got married 2 weeks later and I am about to buy a house. Am I going crazy? Totally possible.
But am I loving it? Yep.
So, I have decided to use this medium as an opportunity to brain dump into cyberspace. I figured that I should have the opportunity to talk smack like everyone else. If Susan Sarandon can comment on the war in Iraq, why can't I make my opinions known to anyone and everyone?
So here's my sinister plan--I will be writing about lots of things about my life and the world around me--some serious, some not, and I will publish them here. It's like there's a party in my head and everyone's invited.... but no one came. I'm hoping this will evolve over time (my Mom had the same aspirations for me) and will be worth reading some day.
Until then, you get what you pay for.
I'll talk at you soon.
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