June 1st, 2012 by eric
Well, I got my M1 license. But it appears that I am still not to be trusted with a motorcycle, even a non-tippable one with three wheels. And from what I understand, I will be riding in a side-car. Which is fine, except that now I need one of those old German helmets with the spike on top.
Last year, the Motorcycle Ride for Dad raised more than $400,000 for prostate cancer research in Ottawa alone, and they want to beat that record this year. And I want to help them do it! Click here for my pledge page and donate to a terrific cause! Ride For Dad coming up June 2nd!
May 29th, 2012 by eric
The NBA playoffs are everything the NHL playoffs are not. In the West, the #1 seed (Spurs) are facing the #2 seed (Thunder). In the East, #2 (Miami) faces #4 (Boston). Three of the remaining four teams have proven playoff acumen, with a combined six titles and seven finals appearances in the last 13 years.
Meanwhile, in the NHL, we get the #6 seed New Jersey Devils facing the #8 seed Los Angeles Kings. Two teams that finished the regular season closer to last place than to first.
The NBA semi-finals feature seven future hall-of famers. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce of the Celtics. Tim Duncan of the Spurs. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade of the Heat. And Kevin Durant of the Thunder. The best player of the past six years, LeBron James, could make it to the finals to face the best player of the past fifteen years, Tim Duncan. Or, Duncan could end up facing his most bitter rival and nemesis, Garnett. Or, James could face the second-best player of his era, Durant. Then there are the supporting superstars – Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Derek Fisher, James Harden.
The NHL finals have one future Hall-of-Famer. Martin Brodeur. And one other big-time star, Kovalchuk. You can say all you like about the gritty play of Dustin Penner or the intangibles of Zach Parise – but they are not Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, Spezza, Sedin, Ovechkin or Giroux.
Now, I know that this is a little unfair. First of all, the NBA does a much better job of marketing its superstars than does the NHL. (With the exception of Tim Duncan, of course, who is the most underappreciated athlete of all time.) And a superstar makes a much bigger difference in basketball than he would in hockey. LeBron James can take a bad Cleveland team to the finals by himself, Rick Nash can’t even get the Blue Jackets out of last place.
The point I’m trying to make is simply this – I have to try really, really hard to find a reason to care about the NHL finals. Two teams I don’t care about are meeting for a best-of-seven series having managed to grit it out throughout the playoffs as soon as the rules changed from the regular season.
Whereas in basketball, there are four incredibly compelling teams who not only have rich recent history (with the possible exception of OKC) but also have tremendously exciting rosters and playmakers. I’m OK with Sid the Kid and Ovie being out of the playoffs, but not everybody. The biggest basketball star out of the NBA playoffs is Kobe Bryant, and I’m actually thrilled that I don’t have to watch him!
One last thing the NBA does right – the setup of the series themselves. As soon as a series is set, it goes. A semi-final series in the West might begin before the East quarter-final is even over. There are two series left, and there’s a basketball game every night between now and when those series end. How long was it between the last round and the beginning of the Stanley Cup finals? A week? Two?
So I’ll be watching the NBA right to the end. And maybe the occasional hockey game should one be on TV while I’m in the room. And I will close with one more thing basketball has but hockey does not.
May 22nd, 2012 by eric
In honour of Piranha 3DD, which opens June 1st. We’re giving away 4-packs of tickets to the premiere on the 6:40 tough question all this week. Several world-class hotties show up in this one:
I loved the first Piranha movie – the over-the-top naked boobs, the over-the-top violence, the bizarre involvement of Richard Dreyfuss and the amazing, way-too-long bloody finale where hundreds of hot babes in bikinis thrash about in the water while piranhas eat them for what seems like 40 minutes. So with all this in mind, a short list of the best-looking women ever to be victimized in horror movies:
Kelly Brook and Riley Steele, Piranha 3-D. Kelly Brook is one of the hottest models in the world, Riley Steele is a porn star. And the scene in Piranha where they cavort together naked in the water for what seems like an eternity is a magnificent 28 minutes of cinematography. Or maybe it was just two minutes. I can’t remember.
Katrina Bowden, Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil. Bowden is probably best known for her role on 30 Rock, but she was fantastic as the accident-prone, super-hot “college girl” in the terribly under-rated horror-comedy Tucker And Dale. The scene where she shows up to help Dale dig an outhouse is hilarious, and she is breathtakingly hot. While digging an outhouse. That’s impressive. She also appears in Piranha 3DD.
Danielle Panabaker, Friday The 13th (remake of course), The Crazies, The Ward. Also in the new Piranha 3DD. The Crazies was not a particularly great movie, or remake, or anything else. Timothy Olyphant was doing a cardboard-cutout version of his awesome character in Justified. But Panabaker as Becca made it worthwhile.
Jennifer Aniston, Leprechaun. I really would have liked to use Shevonne Durkin here, from Leprechaun 2 – the scene in that movie where the Leprechaun creates the illusion that Shevonne Durkin is topless and the guy shoves his face into a running lawmower is a classic. But I can’t find any pictures of her to put into this post, so I will have to go with Jennifer Aniston from the first one. Cause there are lots of pictures of her.
And here is the only decent picture I could find of Shevonne Durkin:
Eliza Dushku, Wrong Turn. I confess to a bias here – I think Eliza Dushku is one of the hottest people ever. And although she was far hotter in Bring It On, and in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, I just have to include her for the otherwise bad movie Wrong Turn.
Crystal Lowe, Wrong Turn 2, Black Christmas. Lowe makes her living being a hot chick who dies gruesomely in a variety of movies. Wrong Turn 2 is probably the highlight. Honourable mention to Final Destination 3.
Shannyn Sossamon, One Missed Call, Catacombs, many others. I think maybe the only reason she hasn’t become a huge star is that she looks like every other really smoking hot actress, all at once.
Elisha Cuthbert, House of Wax. The best thing about Cuthbert’s appearance in this awful movie was that when she stood next to Paris Hilton it became immediately clear that Paris was easily the second hottest person on the screen.
Honourable mention to:
Denise Richards (Valentine)
Jessica Stroup (The Hills Have Eyes 2)
Amy Smart (Mirrors)
Anna Faris (she’s in everything)
Rachel Blanchard (Snakes on a Plane)
And every girl in every Scream movie ever.
May 11th, 2012 by eric
I went to the Ministry of Transportation office yesterday to take the written M1 test so I can ride a Roadster in the Motorcycle Ride For Dad, coming up on June 2nd. I went with Sam from sales because she is going to be doing the same thing.
Pretty short line, pretty easy test, I was in and out in just a few minutes. Sam, however, was delayed – because when can TWO people BOTH go to the Minstry of Transportation and have a smooth easy time? Never, that’s when.
So, with some time to kill and my stomach growling, I looked about for sustenance. In the waiting area, there were a few vending machines. I bought a Snickers bar from one vending machine for $1.25, and a Pepsi from another one for $1.00. These, I thought to myself, were reasonably priced vending machines!
Next to them, there was another vending machine, selling the study guides for all the driving tests you can do while visiting the Ministry. In fact, the only place to buy those books was at the vending machine. This may have seemed inconvenient or even infuriating to some people. Like the guy in the business suit who became rather contentious about the subject. But I thought it was a really terrific and convenient idea for people who;
a) Needed one of these study guides
b) Didn’t want to speak to any actual people, and
c) Had $20 or $30 in loonies in their pocket
Sam was further delayed. I went for a walk. I got to the Mac’s way down Walkley, and thought about buying another Snickers bar, having developed a taste for them in the last half hour. At the corner store, the very same bar cost $1.65. The Ministry has very reasonably-priced vending machines.
I still had nothing to do, sitting there with my new M1 license in my pocket, some brochure about something, and time to kill. So I went to the bathroom, you know, for something to do.
The Ministry of Transportation (or MOT as the cool kids and the signs in the building call it) bathroom is that kind with no door so no one has to touch a gross germy door. Of course, when you have no door on a bathroom, that means you have to do something so that girls can’t peek at the guys and I can’t peek at the girls. So the entrance to the washroom is a mini-labyrinth where you follow the tunnel around until you are inside.
Now, when I emerge from the mouth of the mini-labyrinth, I feel like I should be gazing upon a bathroom of great splendour. Maybe movies have created unreasonable expectations in me, where labyrinths lead to pleasure-domes, expansive brothels and David Bowie’s castle. Needless to say, I was disappointed that this one had just one toilet and just one urinal.
That being said, there were five people in there. Which meant three of us were waiting. Finally, I got the stall. And it truly was a stall, as it could have housed several horses and a feed trough. It was huge! Which was comfortable for me, for a minute – but not for those waiting. And since all the MOT does is collect people who have to wait for things, I assume there is always a lineup in there. Maybe they could just cut down on the size of the stall and add four more toilets? Or eleven more urinals? Just a thought.
I guess while I was contemplating this esoterical dilemma, Sam’s delay ended and she left with her M1. And I wandered around aimlessly for a while with my ride gone. Which meant that I fit in with the rest of the folks in the MOT, an endlessly, aimlessly wandering mass of humanity waiting for the bing and their number to be called. Then Sam came back for me and I went home.
May 2nd, 2012 by eric
I’m being silly. Of course the “sexiest woman alive” is subjective. But it’s also an excuse to put up some pictures. People went the safe route (from six years ago) and chose someone famous, Beyonce.
Then FHM had to get in on it – although they did it in better style, actually hosting a party where many of their nominees showed up, including the eventual winner, Tulisa Contostavlos from N-Dubz. You know, Tulisa.
Also in attendance at the party was one of my personal favourites, Jessica Jane Clement, who despite this attire didn’t even crack the top 30! This voting must be rigged.
She, along with three others (and my wife – heh), are in my personal top five. But then, it’s subjective.
April 27th, 2012 by eric
After round one of the NHL playoffs, the teams with home-ice advantage are playing .500 hockey. They’re 4-4. That’s because unlike most other sports, hockey is the one where home ice is pretty much irrelevant, and it’s also unique among the major sports in that every team that makes the playoffs has a very real chance to win the Stanley Cup.
There is a very real reason for that – playoff hockey is different from regular season hockey. It’s tighter, rougher, and relies much more heavily on goalies. And the reason for that is that referees call the playoffs much differently than they call regular season games. They stop calling penalties by the letter of the law, and blow the whistle only for egregious fouls. This would be fine with me if they did the same in the regular season. But they don’t. And it creates a situation where a team can be a playoff style team while just squeaking in over 80 regular season games.
Then teams get to game 7. And the rules change again. Now the refs pretty much put their whistles away entirely. Which is not necessarily a problem – both teams have to deal with the same new rules – but it DOES create a whole new game, yet again. And any penalty call that might happen is bound to inflame fans because after the stuff they’ve let go, anything now seems like a chintzy call.
Not that I’m making any excuses for the Senators, or getting bitter over the Game 7 loss. It was a sensational game, and Lundqvist alone won it for New York. But these changes in reffing bother me. They create parity where there should BE no parity, because refs in hockey have more of an effect on the outcome of the game than they do in any other sport.
You almost never see an upset in the NBA the way you do in the NHL. The #8 team never beats the #1 team. As it should be. And yes, the NFL and MLB have the last-placed playoff team win the title now and then (like this past year in both), but they don’t let everyone into the playoffs like basketball and hockey. The St. Louis Cardinals were the 8th-best team in baseball. Which means there were 22 teams who were worse. The NY Giants were the 8th-best team in the NFL, better than 24 other teams.
Only in hockey can the 16th-best team in the entire league actually have a real shot at the Cup. The #8 seed in both conferences makes the playoffs, even though they are closer to the bottom of the 30-team league than they are from the top.
Imagine they changed the rules like this in baseball. Only the home plate umpire has the same level of influence as refs in hockey. So they want lower-scoring defensive battles? Alright, for the playoffs the strike zone will now be from the ankles to the eyeballs. And if we get to a game 7? Well then the strike zone will be bigger – any pitch the umpire thinks a batter might have been able to contact will be called a strike. How would that play, you think?
The point is, the best teams are (usually) the best teams for a reason. And the changes in refereeing do nothing but even the playing field unnecessarily. And even unfairly. I love playoff hockey, but every year I feel like the Cup champion was the luckiest team, and not necessarily the best team.
April 25th, 2012 by eric
#5 – Bucket listers
Yeah, I know that Iron Maiden was at a recent Bluesfest. And that Alice Cooper has played Ottawa nine times in the last six years. And that John Mellencamp has been here recently also. But not everyone can go to every show they want to see, and there are still a ton of people in Ottawa who would very much like to check out one or all three of those acts. And the beauty of Bluesfest is this – Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden are on the same night – and it’s a Saturday! (Also playing between their sets is blues singer Marcia Ball, who’s been here before also but is still on MY bucket list.)
#4 – Hip-hop hooray!
One of my fondest memories of Bluesfest is watching Ice Cube play an afternoon show in front of people who didn’t really know who he was, or what they were in for. This year, we get everyone from Snoop Dogg (who will just be a bonkers show) to hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 (starring Del The Funky Homosapien, also known for the group Gorillaz).
The one I’m looking forward to the most is former Jurassic 5 rapper Chali 2na. I was heading over to see him play last year when the stage blew over and the Bluesfest organizers rushed the crowd inside the war museum. I saw him walking through the crowd there, talking to people, shaking hands, and towering over everyone else. Now, I finally get to see him perform!
#3 – Allman connection
Two of the real great blues acts at the festival are Trucks and Tedeschi – Guitar wunderkind Derek Trucks, who started out with the Allman Brothers band, and his wife Susan Tedeschi, one of the great blues singers in the world. Also playing this year is The Royal Southern Brotherhood, a band fronted by Gregg Allman’s son Devon.
#2 – Cult classics
The very first day of the festival includes two of my all-time favourite cult music acts, Fishbone and The Melvins. Both sort of defy categorization…which is what makes them cult acts, I suppose. The Melvins are likely a little more familiar to people, as one of the big inspirations for Nirvana and the rest of the grunge scene. Also cult-tastic…Billy Bragg, Mastodon, David Gray and Charles Bradley.
#1 – Decisions decisions
It’s one of the greatest things about Bluesfest. Do I watch Alice Cooper to the end, then check out the Bright Light Social Hour before Maiden? Or do I leave a little early, see Marcia Ball, then duck back in time for Maiden’s second song? John Mellencamp or the Sheepdogs, who play at the exact same time? Do I go see dubstep superstar Skrillex, easy-listening 70s icons 10cc, or the heavy sludge metal stylings of Mastodon? I don’t know – I have to pick just one! Or two at the most! However will I decide?
April 24th, 2012 by eric
It has all come down to this – three more days of name call-outs, four more events. Tomorrow, Cosmo will be at Kichesippi from 2-7 (be there before 6:45 for your ballot). On Thursday, Doc will be at Star Motors from 3-7 (be there before 6:45), and on Friday I get to go back to Kanata Honda in the Palladium automall for the second year in a row, from 2:00-6:00 (be there before 5:45). Then it’s the CHEO cottage all day Monday for your very last chance!
I love these events. They’re some of the best things I get to do every year, where I go hang out and talk to everyone who wants to win a key for Toys For Boys. I stay for four hours, I do only eight minutes of real, actual work, and the atmosphere is nothing if not festive. Only when I dribbled some cedar sauna aroma on Jenna’s shirt at Chinook Hot Tubs & Saunas last Friday did things turn even the least bit sour.
Know why I love this? THIS is the prize package – not the whole Toys For Boys package, but JUST what we’re getting from Kanata Honda this year. A motorcycle, a snowblower, a lawnmower and a generator. I guess they felt like the motorcycle they gave us last year was a weak prize. After all, it was just a $5,000 machine. So they’ve spruced it up! And now we have all this machinery to give away, all of which will be showcased Friday, between 2-6. I’ll see you there!
April 24th, 2012 by eric
Snow came back yesterday. After winter basically skipped all of Canada, it finally remembered that it was supposed to deliver snow, so there I was yesterday building a snowman on April 23rd. Meanwhile, record-high temperatures in the West had people in Winnipeg and Calgary sunbathing and wearing sandals, just as we did in Ottawa six weeks ago.
This is, of course, not normal. We know it isn’t normal. We know also that the reason we had almost no winter was that a jet stream kept the cold weather further north, and created the coldest most bitter winter on record throughout Europe and Russia. While we were breaking out the tank tops and flip flops, 150 people were dying from the cold in Italy and the Ukraine.
The reaction I see from all of this has been a shrug and a joke – oh yeah man, bring on the global warming, I’m loving this! I golfed in January in Edmonton, yo! Wait…really? Is the world really ignoring global warming entirely again? Actually – yeah. It kind of is.
The climate change deniers have, for lack of a better word, WON this war. This battle of fact versus rhetoric, of science versus anger. The loudest and the dumbest have shouted down anyone who dares suggest that climate change is real, and that people might have something to do with it. They have framed the debate as my-opinion-versus-your-opinion, which frames this environmental catastrophe as a theory, an opinion, and an ideology rather than as fact.
Climate change is, of course, no more a “theory” than is the “theory” of gravity, or the “theory” of evolution. Imagine debating someone about gravity the way they debate you about climate change. They would point to the fact that Isaac Newton got really rich thanks to his “theory” – he was warden of the mint, you know, and even a member of British parliament! Also, he was secretive about some of his religious views, and therefore could not be trusted.
This has been essentially, the reasoning of climate change deniers. David Suzuki and Al Gore are rich. Therefore they are either inventing global warming to become rich, or they are hypocrites. Which is solid reasoning. after all, imagine how many more people they would reach if they were poor, and lived in a mud hut and ate nothing but berries and didn’t have TV shows and movies. And imagine how much LESS credible they would be if they were super-rich. Like, I don’t know…oil barons?
Also, every discussion you have with a denier will almost certainly have some mention of the enormous scandal that was Climategate! You know, those hacked emails from scientists that rocked the environmental movement and gave Fox News and Sun TV weeks worth of fodder. You can explain to your denier friend that six – SIX different independant review agencies pored over those emails and the entire scandal, and found that nothing untoward had taken place at all. That, in fact, “climategate” was nothing at all. But you will have a hard time convincing your friend of this, because the exoneration of the climate scientists was not broadcast on FOX. So it probably never happened.
Here’s the thing. The depressing thing. It’s not that the climate change deniers have won the debate. They can’t win the debate because they are not working with facts. But they have won the battle by silencing a huge number of environmental advocates. It has just become too difficult, too stressful and too annoying to continue to talk about it. You mention global warming or climate change and some simpleton is invariably there to shout you down, his anger drowning out your facts. And you throw up your hands and stop trying. And you lose. And he wins, through volume alone.
It has now been two years since the massive BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, an unprecedented environmental catastrophe that was SURE to affect offshore drilling policy the world over. Since that time, no real technology has been invented that could prevent it from ever happening again. And yet our government is all about more drilling, with less regulation. And the American presidential race is currently seeing Obama and Romney battling it out over which of the two is MORE pro-drilling!
This is, of course, insane. And it’s happening because people are shutting up. And I’m to blame in this as well. I have grown more and more silent the more I am confronted with the entrenched angry rhetoric of people who are powerfully and noisily wrong. But no more. This is a scarier time for the environment than it has ever been, and we have to stop shutting up about it.
April 18th, 2012 by eric
Everyone has noticed the trend in this year’s NHL playoffs. There are more head-shots, more players carted off, more serious injuries than in any playoff season I can remember. There are also more fights. A LOT more fights. There was a time when Zenon Konopka would never have stepped out of the press box for the Senators during the entire playoffs.
But then, game 2 of the Ottawa-Rangers series and there he is, skating around menacingly and glowering at people while Matt Carkner beats the crap out of Brian Boyle, making the most of his 40 seconds of ice time before leaving the game and being suspended. But Carkner was just standing up for little Erik Karlsson, right? Who got punched a couple of times by Boyle in the previous game? And that’s what hockey is about, right?
Well, let’s look at that premise for a second. Karlsson is roughed up, but not injured. Boyle takes a penalty, Karlsson stays in the game and runs the power play. A full 48 hours later, Carkner is going to send a message – you don’t rough up our stars! Boyle takes his pounding. Stays in the game. Then joins the Rangers on their 5-minute power play while Carkner leaves for good. But Boyle will know better than to go after those Senators players now, won’t he?
Strange, it almost seems like the 6-foot-7 Boyle didn’t get that message. He hit every Ottawa player in sight on Monday night. Oh, and scored a goal. The only goal. While Carkner served his suspension in the press box.
But the REST of the Rangers were intimidated after Ottawa came out fighting, right? Well, except for Carl Hagelin, I guess. I suppose he wasn’t too worried about Carkner, cause he was out of the game. And maybe he knew, after his elbow to Alfie’s head, that he would be ejected and therefore wouldn’t have to worry about Konopka either. Now he’s gone three games, but if Alfie’s gone three games also, it seems like a pretty good trade for New York.
It seems to me that it’s time to retire this old, tired, cranky-old-man adage that fighting prevents cheap shots. It doesn’t. Not even a little bit. We have seen more fighting AND more cheap shots than ever before in these playoffs, and the fighting comes solely as a result of the cheap shots and does nothing to prevent more of them.
Witness last night’s brutal headhunting hit on Marian Hossa of the Blues by Rafi Torres of the Blackhawks. No question about the intenet to injure. In the immediate aftermath of the hit, Brandon Bollig goes after Torres. You know, to fight him. Problem solved, right? Two messages have been sent – one, there are consequences. And two, you can’t intimidate us!
OK sure. But now, the Hawks are killing back-to-back penalties, while their star player Hossa is being taken out of the rink in an ambulance on a stretcher. And what will actually prevent Torres from doing something like this again? Only the suspension that comes along with the hit. And what will prevent another Blues player from taking a run at another star? Nothing.
I’m not saying take fighting out of the game. I AM a fan of hockey fights, and I think there’s a place for them in the game. What I’m saying is, shut up about this nonsense that fighting prevents cheap shots and dirty play, which NO true fan likes. It does nothing of the sort.
It’s the same mentality that looks back to the Broad Street Bullies and Boston Bruins of the 70s and says “those guys played the game right – tough, but not dirty”. Which is revisionist history at best, and completely insane bulls**t at worst. What was Bobby Clarke most famous for? Some goal, or his slash that broke the ankle of Valeri Kharlamov? He was the star, AND one of the dirtiest players of all time. Does your memory of the Bobby Orr Bruin glory days completely forget Wayne Cashman? And the myriad of injuries inflicted by both of those teams on opponents all over the league?
So keep fighting around. The crowds love it, the players want it, and it can serve a useful purpose – giving a team that emotional boost that comes from watching their guy land more punches than the other guy, or just getting out some frustration (which leads to the funny fights, like Crosby-Giroux the other day). Just stop pretending it’s anything more than it is, or that it prevents the really bad stuff. The days of Semenko creating a bubble around Gretzky are long gone.