Saturday, January 29, 2005

A little blog surfing is a good thing

Spent a bit of time tonight checking out a few of the sites I've bookmarked over the last six months or so. Learned tonight that our friend Sean at seanincognito could benefit from the safe knife handling course that the Cub pack which my son is in recently held (we can arrange a correspondence course Sean if you wish).

The Daily KOS kept me up to speed on developments in the States and what the upcoming Iraqi election may bring. The blog always provides an interesting snapshot as to what is on the mind of Americans.

Pangs of envy washed over me when I checked out the All things Canadian blogsite, they've left for Florida, no plans to come back til sometime in February. Sunshine? Man what is that?

The BlogsCanada E group provided a nugget of info I wasn't aware of, Bob McKeown of the Fifth estate met up with Fox News' Ann Coulter and apparently bested the young lass from Fox. Ms. Coulter wondered aloud why, if Canada sent troops to Vietnam to help the USA, they did not do so in the current Iraq situation. McKeown advised her that Canadians were not in Vietnam with the US, which Coulter stated was wrong. We of course were not involved in that war, though there were many Canadians who did cross the line and join the US military, and for a time we did spend some time in a peacekeeping role there. Of course at times factual research seems to be the lowest on the checklist at Fox News. It tends to get in the way of the boosterism that runs rampant there.

And finally I also traveled over to Bound by Gravity, where Andrew provided a link to a wonderful archive of photo's from the First World War, courtesy of the pictures set the scene for the war to end all wars (sadly over the years we have failed those valiant men in that declaration) . The site provides a terrific overview of one of the definitive eras of our times.

A few clicks and you find a gem, it's a wonder of our times this little hobby of ours. Every once and a while I get weary of the grind of churning out my own material, but when I do I check out sites like Sean's or Andrew's and before I know it, I've found something interesting or valuable to check out.

Could be a lot worse ways to spend a few hours I suspect!

"what I know for certain is that owners cannot restrain themselves"

Ken Dryden, the current MP for York-Centre, but previously an NHL executive, lawyer and of course pretty damn good goaltender offers a bit of interesting insight into the current mindset of the NHL ownership group. Dryden offers up some vital topics for discussion in an article from Friday editions with the Sun newspaper's Robert Tychkowski.

It would seem that history is forever repeating itself in the Groundhog Day world of the NHL, Dryden recounts how he was supremely annoyed when Eddie Giacomin was offered 175,000 by the Rangers (funny how the main culprits never change eh!), setting the scale of goaltending off the rails in the early 70's. Dryden knowing that he was a better goaltender than Giacomin, chose to sit out a season to press his case for more deserving remuneration. Putting his idle time to work, he worked on his law degree and then in the next season signed a better deal than that which Giacomin worked under. A lesson to be learned that eventually the players get their value, because the owners can't help themselves.

Of course Dryden himself would contribute to that spiral of insanity that has become the NHL, with his big money offer to Mats Sundin in the nineties. More recently the Leafs have accumulated high profile players at big budget prices, sending the salary structure ever upward while their less financially blessed brothers have auctioned off their players, traded them away or just let them wander off onto free agency boulevard.

His comments were given an interesting echo today from the world of baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates ownership group, expressed complete mystification at the self destructive tendencies of their own collection of owners. Kevin McClatchy, the managing general partner for the Pirates warned that baseball was turning into a two tiered kind of league, one where the rich teams get richer and load up on the names of baseball, while others in the smaller markets try to get by on a low payroll and of course lesser known players. Now doesn't that sound awfully familiar? McClatchy said that far too many teams were spending themselves into bankruptcy, he went on to wonder how teams that only a few weeks ago were claiming financial distress, were now signing these free agents at ridiculous wage levels. Echoing the comments of Dryden, McClatchy says he guesses that "these guys just can't control themselves."

Dryden who is one of our more scholarly ex athletes, has of course written a number of books about our game and been involved in numerous think tank like sessions on how to improve the game. He's given much study to the question of what ails hockey so when he speaks we should probably cock and ear and give a listen.

As for the current impasse he simply states that the current situation is just plain embarrassing, as the possibility of a completely cancelled season becomes a very real possibility. His comments to the Sun paper are quite succinct as he says, "someday the lockout is going to end, so it may as well be sooner than later."

Wise words! Too bad it seems that nobody seems inclined to listen. Maybe he should be in the room with the players and owners, a nice third party with a voice of reason certainly could find a use right about now, don't ya think?

The above article first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about Hockey check it out!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Salivating sycophant on line six!

The rough and tumble world of BC talk shows has claimed another victim today. As a Liberal party appointee has "decided" to resign his position, after being called out over disguising his identity as he lobbed a soft ball question to Premier Campbell on M Television.

Prem Vinning, who was supposed to start work as an aide to the Premier for Asian trade, instead found himself at the centre of a bit of a tempest, after he called up and identified himself as Peter from Surrey, he with a kind comment and a set up question on trucking for Campbell.

Peter, er Prem lauded the government on it's transportation policy and set the table for Campbell to happily rattle on about his current transportation plans. But Peter, er Prem apparently has a very distinctive voice and is a well known player in the political scene of Vancouver, so it didn't take long for folks to connect the dots.

Joy McPhail confronted him later that evening at a social function, but he never fessed up to the ruse until the numbers of those with suspicions began to grow. Realizing that he'd been outed if you will, he decided (perhaps with a bit of assistance!) that the only honourable thing to do would be to turn down the Premier's job offer. The Premier expressed the usual words of surprise at the situation, said he regretted Vinnings error and believe he took the proper action by resigning. He did say he didn't recognize Vinnings voice (perhaps making him the only in BC politics who didn't, but blamed technical problems at the time claiming it was hard to hear any of the callers, though the situation didn't stop him from launching into a selling job of his policies.

And so another political hack learns a valuable law of survival in BC Politics. Take on the airwaves at your own peril. British Columbians love their talk radio and television, it's almost an art form in the province. From the days of Jack Cullen to Jack Webster, through Rafe Mair and Bill Good, talk talk, and more talk makes the province go round.

Say a wrong thing, or get found out in a lie on a talk show and for all intents and purposes your career is over. That could be why both Liberals and NDPers use folks at an arms distance, to stack their calls and flood the lines with comments congratulatory or caustic.

Peter, er Prem's mistake was a simple one, he forgot to delegate. Perhaps he felt he could get away with the ruse by calling up the show on M, a step above your run of the mill cable TV local content but light years away from the big leagues of Good or Mair. But as we said BC residents love their talk shows, even the ratings cellar dwellers have their fanatics, who of course all are close to a telephone. Word spreads fast, ask Peter, er Prem he now knows firsthand what fate awaits those who dare to fabricate over the air!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!

If all our stars would align, or perhaps our numbers would come in, 46 % of those of us currently employed would walk away from their jobs for something else. Such is the state of our employment happiness these days.

A survey called "Work Canada" by consulting firm Watson Wyatt, has been conducted over the last few years and the picture of an increasingly frustrated workforce is being painted for us. Only 43% stated that they thought that their place of employment was a good one, a 12% decline since the survey was last taken two years ago. No growth and no advancement in the workplace are making us a rather surly lot of worker drones.

There is serious disenchantment with working conditions and prospects as workers feel under appreciated and over worked. Not surprisingly money talks, as many workers don't believe that they are being compensated properly for the amount of work they are expected to perform.

The Work Canada study of the disgruntled comes out at the same time as a Statistics Canada survey comes out showing that the much ballyhooed jobs explosion, trumpeted by many a politician may not be all that it seems. Many of the "new" jobs are temporary, part time or casual jobs, with little or no benefits.

The Survey called "Are Good Jobs disappearing in Canada", takes a look at the restructuring and downsizing of the last twenty years and how it has impacted on Canadian Society. The most talked about finding is the fact that wages over the last twenty years are not on any kind of an upward trend, in fact for new hires there is a decided decline in the salary structure. With the increased use of temporary workers comes a problem for the future, many of the temps are not covered by pension plans setting up a potential problem come the golden years.

Not included in these studies, but a personal bug a boo of mine is the increasingly meaningless Unemployment Rate statitstics that the government trots out every month. Since they track only those on an active Employment Insurance claim, l've always wondered what happens to all those people that exhaust their claims. Do they just disappear into the night, never to be reported on again? My suspicion (and a non scientific one I admit) is that there is a vast underlying unemployment rate, that goes unreported. The people that have exhausted their claims may find work, most likely part time or underground, may end up on social assistance or most likely will siphon off their RRSP and Mutual fund monies until things turn around. But they go unreported for as long as they and their money can hold out.

Next time you read of the Unemployment rate in your home town, just take a moment to wonder how many more are really unemployed or underemployed. And then wonder just how we're going to finance a livable wage for folks let alone pensions for everyone, if many are not working or at least not making enough to contribute to their own long term security. Then ask yourself if our politicians truly have any idea as to what is going on in this country!

When the only real financial planning left is to buy tickets for the ever increasing 6/49 and Super Seven jackpots, then perhaps we need to take a look at how things are working, or in many cases not working!

That's a lot of doughnuts!

Time to put some coffee on and get to work! Stephen F. Cooper has been tapped to turn around the declining fates of Krispy Kreme donuts. Cooper who most recently took over the duties of the much reviled Enron, will split his time between energy and donuts for the next little while.

Krispy Kreme which is considered by some to be the gold standard of Donut shops (But not in Canada, eh! Where Tim's will always rule!!!) has suffered some drastic stock reversals in the last few years. Combined with an SEC investigation and a bit of corporate reporting shenanigans and the situation at Krispy Kreme is about as appetizing as a three day old cruller.

They've tossed former CEO Scott Livengood out like some three hour coffee and brought in Cooper to perk things up at the donut shops. Joining Cooper will be Stephen Panagos who is his partner at their turnaround company Kroll, Zolfo, Cooper. They hope to put their thirty years of taking over troubled companies to use in the land of coffee and donuts.

But turnarounds don't come cheap! Panagos will make 695 an hour to solve the chain's problems, Cooper himself will earn 760 dollars an hour, plus expenses to make the bottom line as black as an their darkest boldest offering.

If things don't go too well, they could always pay them in donuts I guess. Cooper's 760 an hour, if paid in donuts at 50 cents a donut (if he's taking the original glazed donut), translates into 1520 donuts an hour. They get a little less if they choose one of the wide varieties available at a Krispy Kreme counter for 65 cents a donut. Cream and sugar for the coffee would be a perk one suspects!

The Essentials of Jan 17-23, 2005

A look back at our essentials of the week past!

16-Jan-05 Seymour spills the beans?
16-Jan-05 Danny's anger a money making proposition
16-Jan-05 Video didn't kill the radio star
16-Jan-05 The Princess of Panhandling
16-Jan-05 "and I’m never going back to my old school"
17-Jan-05 He could just buy his own space program
17-Jan-05 One toke too many over the line
17-Jan-05 It's a lousy start to the year
17-Jan-05 A long way from the Wright Brothers
17-Jan-05 Terrible ten of snack foods
18-Jan-05 Associate status in the axis of evil
18-Jan-05 Stay away from the phising hole
18-Jan-05 Solar spectacular
18-Jan-05 Get a little mud on the tires
18-Jan-05 Johnny still tells a good joke
19-Jan-05 And the rain came down
19-Jan-05 A speech to remember? History says NO!
19-Jan-05 The blogger's guide to wide acceptance
19-Jan-05 Titanic Revisited
19-Jan-05 Too Rebellious for Rolling Stone!
20-Jan-05 No posts today, took the day off!
21-Jan-05 Paging reality, please check in at Dr. Dobson's office
21-Jan-05 The slow, long extinction
21-Jan-05 Bird Flu spreads in Vietnam
21-Jan-05 Breakfast the key to your heart
21-Jan-05 Now here's a Holy roller
22-Jan-05 A Day to stay in Bed!
22-Jan-05 The Rain on the Titan plain is made up mainly of methane
22-Jan-05 Rumsfeld's secret Army
22-Jan-05 Osama your book advance is ready
22-Jan-05 You're married, again!
23-Jan-05 Farewell to Johnny!
23-Jan-05 A couch eight miles long
23-Jan-05 Hardball on the Rideau River?
23-Jan-05 The loyal secretary takes her leave
23-Jan-05 Picasso in aisle five

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fare-wellllllll Johnny!

One of television's Kings was eulogized on the blue cathode ray machine today, as word spread of the passing of Johnny Carson. Larry King rolled in for a Sunday shift, pulling in Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Dick Cavett, Mike Douglas, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and a cast of Hollywoods past and present comedians to mourn the man that made their careers.

Having been out of the public eye for years now and rumoured to be sick for a while, it didn't come as a huge shock to hear of his passing, but yet surprised the many who spoke out in respect of the former late night Czar.

Carson's Tonight Show was the definition of "must see" television in the sixties, seventies and eighties, with the ever present Ed McMahon by his side and Doc Severinsen with the band, they ruled American television for over thirty years. The must not miss moment of any Carson show was his monologue, the three or four minute recap of what had happened in America on any given day. Through Vietnam and a seismic change in the US social structure, from moon landings, streakers and Presidents named Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush would find their programs under a comedic microscope, a daft plan by any of them would be fair game and would suffer mercilessly either in a monologue or a skit. But like a good general purpose everyman, Carson was much more than that.

His show would mix politicians with actors, singers with animals, the serious and the slightly insane could find themselves on the same show on any given night. A young unknown politician named Bill Clinton would begin to build his quest for the White House on the Carson show. Taking Carson's jibes in stride while finding a vehicle to place his name on the average American voters mind.

At times his show could be incredibly politically incorrect by today's standards, double entendres and close but not quite risque material was greeted with glee by an audience that never abandoned the master of late night television. An unwritten rule in show business is never work with animals or children, yet for Carson some of the best and funniest moments on the show came from some precocious six or seven year old seeming to get the best of Carson, likewise a chimp, bird, bear or any other member of the Animal Kingdom seemed to produce the best ad lib moments on the shows.

But by far the real winners on a Carson telecast would be the stand up comics, his show was the lab for many of our most popular comics past and present. An invitation to appear on the Carson show was akin to an audience with the Pope or a session with Royalty. Careers would zoom overnight if success was found on the Tonigh Show stage. Through the years young talents such as Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman, Freddie Prinze, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Jonathan Winters, Joan Rivers to name only a few would be the recipients of career success from a stint on the Tonight Show stage.

Carson seemed to have a special spot for the stand up comics, the lone gunslingers of the entertainment industry. He would set them up, let them do their stuff and if they made the best of the opportunity they would soon be on the set chatting with Carson. If you track the ones that have had the longest careers and made the most impact on the entertainment industry, you'll find a path back to the Burbank studios.

When Carson retired many had challenged but none had toppled his throne. He went out on the top with the road littered with the efforts of a Sajack, Thicke, Bishop, Cavett or Rivers along the way. His show became a template for television programming on all networks, any show with a host and a sidekick can trace it's DNA to Johnny Carson, who took what Jack Paar had started and turned it into an American cultural institution.

When you watch the clips over the next few days as the ET's, Inside Hollywood and such put forward their Carson specials you'll see a lot of corny material. Stuff that many of today's audience may find quaint, reflective of a different time and certainly of a different era of entertainment. But an era that built the blocks of the industry today.

But if you listen to the monologues, the timing of his bits and the by play with Ed McMahon as well as the nightly guest list, you'll find a timeless quality that lives on today on many of today's show both daytime and nighttime. In fact as his days apparently were declining this week, word leaked out that he still kept in touch with comedy providing a joke or two once and a while for the David Letterman show! It was one stop shopping for what was current in America's Day, an escape from troubled times for an hour a night, guaranteed to give you something to laugh about when perhaps a laugh was hard to come by. In short it was what Entertainment was supposed to be, a barometer of our times and entertaining as well!

His longevity and much respected status a testimony to his and his show's importance through the years. Long time fans of which I am one, said goodbye in 1992 now they do it again, this time for a final time!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

You've Got Mail, Dr. Dobson!

One can't help but think of how many SpongeBob fans might wish to send the Good Doctor a SpongeBob card, a simple click on an E mail link is all it takes!

Get A Grip Doctor, For Gods Sake Get A Grip!

With so many souls requiring saving one would think the gang at Focus on the Family, led by the increasingly off the wall Dr. James Dobson would "focus" on the Bigger picture of the human spirit. Why do we have racism? Why do we have wars? Why do we let our differences divide us? How about some answers for hunger, earthquakes and tsunami's to name a few of the major perils of our age.

For reasons known only to the inhabitants of the loopier side of the Christian right, all of those issues can wait, because Spongebob Square pants is our main concern, apparently the major threat to all that we hold dear (well more to the point all that the Good Doctor holds dear).

Following in the footsteps of those other instruments of heathenism, Tinky Winky and Barney the Purple Dinosaur! We are apparently being led down the road to ruin by the Sponge! Who apparently is so devious, so conniving, that he has somehow lured the likes of Winnie the Pooh, Bob the Builder and The Rugrats to follow his plans!

It's to make you want to laugh, if only they apparently weren't so damn serious about their beliefs, these nutty little folks that seem to find hidden meanings everywhere and seem pre-occupied with controlling the minds our little ones, filling them instead with the contents of their little minds.

In a world filled with hate and hurt, it seems that the real question of the day is the status of a sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea! What possibly can go through the minds of people who take a seemingly innocent children's television program and find things that just aren't there.

I'm not a huge devotee to the SpongeBob brigades (I sadly waste my morning watching the bad things we do to each other courtesy of the news programs) , but I have seen the Sponge Bob Squarepants show. It seems like your typical kids cartoon, the gang have some adventures and everyone learns something positive by the time the credits roll. I believe if Mr. Dobson is looking for a reference the tone for the show would be "Love thy Neighbour", perhaps he's read that somewhere!

Mr. Square pants is a hit with the kids in my boys class and from the shows I've watched, exhibits a pretty basic code of life, treat everyone as an equal, with tolerance and love.

Obviously a scary message that must be stopped before it gets too widespread.

As Doctor Dobson no doubt realizes if we begin to realize that we aren't so different after all and accept each without judgment, then whoa baby, maybe we've learned a few things from a guy named Jesus. Surely we can't allow that to happen, whatever would we need the middlemen like the Doctor for!

There are days when you wonder if the followers of Doctor Dobson and his organization have actually read the teachings of Christ and introduced themselves to a Bible. There's much important work to do on an earth that seems oh so very troubled, railing on about the cartoon happenings under the sea with a sponge in short pants and his pals seems like a daft way of doing the Lord's work!

Spongebob Square Pants may be living in a pineapple under the sea, but if anyone is all wet, it's the folks taking the ravings of Doctor Dobson seriously.

One just imagines God shaking his head in wonder at what passes for intelligence down on the ole third planet from the Sun!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inauguration Day

When George W. Bush takes his oath of office at Noon Washington time today he will set in motion the final four years of the Bush Presidency. While Democrats bemoan the idea that it coulda, woulda, shoulda been their guy, the Republicans will claim hold over Washington for four more years. And possibly set the stage for continued dominance over the American political landscape for years to come.

Following the oath of office, the Bush Inaugural speech is expected to touch on the theme of freedom and liberty, both in America and around the world. The speech which apparently went through twenty one re-writes before being delivered to the President, follows in a long line of inaugural speeches. Most of which were quickly forgotten, banished to the dumpster of history due to boredom, lack of message or just plain bad writing and even worse delivery.

Over the years there really haven't been many speeches given on the 20th of January following an election, that have caught the fancy of the American public. George Washington's second speech in 1793 probably did, being the shortest one ever made at 135 words, he no doubt won over many a disgruntled voter with his brevity of message.

More recently John F. Kennedy's certainly fired up the imagination back in 1961, daring American's to dream along with him, bear any burden and meet any hardship To a degree, Ronald Reagan recaptured some of that oratorical magic with his debut speech in 1981, when he called for the government to serve the people and not the other way around. But for the most part these political agenda setters, tend to be tedious and hardly provide a glimpse into any great dreams or missions planned.

The concept of Inauguration day itself has also taken on a life of its own, from simple beginnings it now runs over three days, features everything from rock bands to marching bands, gala dinners to fireworks and seems to cost more to organize than some countries have for a national budget.

This years celebration of the constitutional evolution of power will be the most expensive ever on record, ca ching, ca chinging in, at 40 million dollars, plus 17 million for security to ensure that the concepts of freedom and liberty don't get interrupted by any terrorist mischief.

There's much to be learned from the past speeches and events surrounding Inauguration day, but if there is one thing that George Walker Bush should learn from history it's this: Make your speech short and dress warmly, use the unfortunate William H. Harrison as your barometer of bad!

Harrison arrived in Washington for his Inaugural speech in 1841, gave the longest speech in Inaugural history, clocking in at 90 minutes and then went on a walk of the parade route, without benefit of hat or warm clothing on the bitterest of cold days. His walk into the driving ice storm would prove costly. One month later Harrison succumbed to pneumonia ending his presidency.

The speech can bore or it can soar, it all depends on the President, his writers and his material. But for George Bush there is a hard act to follow, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan, all touched the right points, defining their presidency and developing their legacies. George Bush gets one more chance to define his and it begins at noon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Hell of a banjo player!

It seems that there are many things we just don't know about George W. Bush, as the president begins his second term, the folks at Jib Jab continue to find his Presidency to be a gold mine of satirical fun.

The internet website that found great success in the last year with their cartoonish look at political life, is back with a salute to the President's second term in Washington.

The third installment of the Spiridellis' brothers wacky sense of humour, follows on the heels of the internet server clogging efforts of This Land and It's good to be in DC. Both of which quickly found wide acceptance through word of mouth, bloggers and flash e mails from far and near.

You can view them all at the Jib Jab website, a banjo playing president backed by a band that makes you think Deliverance! One gets the feeling the next four years are going to be very profitable for the folks at Jib Jab!

Nepotism, a Bush family value?

As George W. Bush prepares to take office for his second term, we take a look at the hiring practices of his administration and that of his Papa's.

It seems that the Bush's like to keep power within the bloodline.

An interesting search courtesy of brings up some fascinating results for Bush choices for those selected to be close to power.

For instance do a little search on the current President, and see which White House official is a relation!

Go back to the days of President G. H. W. Bush and do another search and voila, you'll see that lineage gains one more mileage!

With Jeb waiting in the wings ready to carry on the family business, distant relatives of the Bush's should be polishing off their name tags in readiness for the Vice-Presidency!

Monday, January 17, 2005

The kids are alright, but the parents............

Another in a spate of ugly experiences surrounding Minor Hockey in Canada. This time out of Toronto where the father of a nine year old minor hockey player, found himself in court this morning after an incident over the weekend.

Dad it seems found himself in disagreement with a coach's decision to bench his son for a couple of shifts, due to a missed practice (apparently a common coaching practice). Instead of discussing his concerns away from the game, the father instead jumped the glass at the bench and choked the coach to the point of blacking out. Eventually other parents pulled the man off of the coach, who regained consciousness and then continued on with the game, so as not to cause more distress to his players.

After the game he discussed the situation with his players, trying to reassure them that the world had not really gone mad. While he was providing a positive role model for the nine year olds, the man who choked him spent the night in a Toronto police lock up, pending his appearance in court today.

Greater Toronto Hockey League officials called it one of the most shocking events that they've had to contend with, but it's certainly not the first time a parent has gotten out of control. Just last December a hockey Mom shocked an arena by lifting her top and exposing her breasts to parents and players of an 11 year old match up. There have also been scattered incidents of parents duking it out in the stands over controversial plays and situations, much to the distress of the players on the ice and officials in minor hockey.

Mind you it's not just hockey, pretty well any sport or activity involving kids can bring out the worst in parents, somehow there is a disconnect between the child's enjoyment and the adults expectations.

At the moment Hockey Canada is running commercials reminding parents that "It's Only a game". Go back a few years and there used to be a commercial on TV when I played minor hockey that urged parents to stick around and watch the games.

Sadly, we seem to approaching the point where we'll see commercials suggesting that parents just drop the kids off and come on back after the game!

The above posting first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

Essentials of January 10-16, 2005

We look back at the essentials of the week just past.

10-Jan-05 The Soprano Squadron
10-Jan-05 Long Knife Day at CBS
10-Jan-05 The best excuses when calling in sick
10-Jan-05 Drug Dealers dumping the dollar standard
10-Jan-05 MacWorld Rumours
11-Jan-05 More Mad Cows appear
11-Jan-05 Hockey Day in Canada canned by the CBC
11-Jan-05 Judge Gomery feels some heat
11-Jan-05 Rushing for the Donation deadline
11-Jan-05 Polishing the Professionals
12-Jan-05 No No's at Nortel
12-Jan-05 Harry's Sorry, So Sorry!
12-Jan-05 Ca ching, ca ching with Li Ka-shing
12-Jan-05 The search is over
12-Jan-05 Did you hear the one about the lawyer with no sense of humour?
13-Jan-05 It's a good life in the foregin service
13-Jan-05 The Love bomb?
13-Jan-05 Maybe you'll see Burt Reynolds along the way
13-Jan-05 How Ted Turner helped to buy the Calgary Stampeders
13-Jan-05 Dave Barry takes his leave
14-Jan-05 No posts today, took the day off!
15-Jan-05 Pizza, Peelers and political pitfalls
15-Jan-05 Hey somebody made money blogging!!
15-Jan-05 It was all in the genes
15-Jan-05 Uh, does this mean no ride to the polls?
15-Jan-05 Bests and Busts of the Detroit Auto show
16-Jan-05 Seymour spills the beans?
16-Jan-05 Danny's anger a money making proposition
16-Jan-05 Video didn't kill the radio star
16-Jan-05 The Princess of Panhandling
16-Jan-05 "and I’m never going back to my old school"

Really stupid people, get real results!

Ok, so I'm not one in the loop when it comes to smuggling drugs, illegal or Simpson like pharmaceuticals. But having read one or two newspapers in the last year or so, watched a bit of TV news, listened to talk radio and of course surfed the internet, I'm aware of one thing, our American neighbours are rather intent on watching their borders these days.

With the inauguration of George Bush for his second term this week, one would just assume that this would be a pretty heavily guarded week.

The border crossing between Canada and the USA in the Detroit/Windsor corridor, consisting of the Ambassador Bridge and of the course the tunnel, is the highest profile crossing and thus probably the most secure of the bunch. With the inauguration of George Bush for his second term this week, one would just assume that this would be an even more secure location than ever.

So to read that some would be entrepreneurs decided that this was the week to make their score and Detroit was the place to make the landing just makes one shake a head back and forth in amazement.

With the eyes of Homeland Security, US Customs, DEA and any other alphabet agency focused on the 49th parallel, our intrepid exporters chose Detroit as their gateway to the pot smokers of America. Needless to say, the operation didn't go as planned.

As Forrest Gump might put it, Stupid is, as stupid does!

Sidney takes a pass!

First it was Junior sensation Sidney Crosby's sweater that went missing, now its the actual person who will be missing in action! Crosby's Quebec Junior team the Rimouski Oceanic announced today that Crosby, the number one attraction in Junior hockey at the moment, will not take part in Wednesday nights Top Prospects game from Vancouver.

Crosby's junior handlers claim that the Junior phenom is suffering from some sort of a back injury sustained in the World Junior Championships and thus won't be available for the nationally televised Hockey showcase from Vancouver. This despite the fact that he recently completed four of five games for the Oceanic in the Quebec League.

The decision of course is feeding a slew of rumours about the situation, the feeling by some commentators (mainly based in the West see the CKNW audio vault for the 8 am sportscast on Monday for a sample) that Crosby and his agents, handlers and hangers on are using the back problems as a convenient way to avoid the Prospects game. The theory being, that as the number one pick in the upcoming draft (if one actually takes place) Crosby would have everything to lose and nothing to gain by taking part in the extremely competitve game.

Instead the suggestion is that he would be better off taking a pass on the game, preserving his status as the definitive number one choice and all the rewards that it would provide. Such is the state of hockey these days, Junior players are skipping showcase games and off ice commentators are finding conspiracy theories with every breath. And injuries may or may not be what they seem.

My How we long for the days of an actual game to watch!

The above item first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about Hockey check it out!

Waiting for Pictures!

Podunkians of the world wide web anxiously await the arrival of some photos from our friend at seanincognito. For his home base is now famous across North America and wherever satellite signals are available!

After Sunday night's episode of The Simpson's we are sure that the incognito film crew will be busy scouring the Perogie city in search of that now famous Winnipeg landmark, the Welcome to Winnipeg sign: "Welcome to Winnipeg, we were born here! What's your excuse!"

We also hope to see visuals of that Manitoba pharmacy chain Dudley Do Drugs.

We're sure that once the thaw comes sean will busy taking pics galore, we anticipate our first photo what June or July?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Michael Moore's class dismissal

Sure he's been honoured with European awards as well as an Oscar for his films. Not to mention the fact that he's a Best Selling author. He's the darling of the media elites in New York and Los Angeles, has a large following in the Liberal Left, and is Internationally acclaimed, but for Michael Moore home town acceptance is getting harder and harder to come by.

The pride and joy (then again maybe not) of Flint, Michigan has once again been nominated for his High School Hall of Fame, and again it seems he's going to come up short of the necessary votes.

The Creator of Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 (as well as Canadian Bacon and TV Nation, to name a few of his projects) has always had kind of a love/hate relationship with the old home town. Obviously the establishment types haven't taken kindly to his portrayal of Flint as an industrial wasteland, abandoned by the corporations and left to the working poor to struggle on alone. But to many of the working class he's a true hero, who shines the light on parts of Flint that most would prefer not be known.

But with controversy comes backlash and Moore is suffering in a bid to have him placed in the Davison High School Hall of Fame. Four times he's been nominated and four times denied, Oscar or not! It seems that the voting public of Davison High consider him to be a bit of an embarrassment, not the role model the Hall of Fame people are looking for.

Moore's next opportunity for enshrinement was to come up on February 11th when the nominations closed and the committee made their decision. However due to all the controversy, all nominations have been suspended until further notice. Possibly good news for Moore, presently his fan base have only accumulated 300 signed nominations, and were hoping to have 1700 more names by February 1st, now they have all sorts of time to get the vote in.

All these years out of High School and still there are struggles for class popularity, somehow one thinks there should be a movie in there somewhere for Michael. And I have just the opening theme for him, From Steely Dan How about "My Old School"

Get a Job!

Despite rumours of "secret" meetings this weekend between Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow, the NHLPA leader issued seem advice to his membership, a brutal and cold delcaration of misery to hockey fans across North America.

Goodenow advised his players to go to Europe as soon as possible and find work and be prepared to sign on for next year as well. It's unclear if he issued his edict before, after or during these "secret" meetings which may or may not have taken place. But the omens are not particularly good for anything resembling NHL quality hockey in the short term.

Interestingly enough the announcement was made in audio form on the Union website The Source, accessible only to union it members. One wonders about the audio only message, perhaps Bob likes the sound of his own voice. Jokes about athletes not being able to read will not be snickered at on HockeyNation thank you very much! At any rate, one assumes we can now say the players heard the news from the horses mouth. Though I'm thinking that Messrs, Bettman and Daly have a different body part in mind!

Regardless, its just one more nail into the coffin of the year that would have been 2004-05. Secret meetings or not, the prospect of a season of less than fourty games, followed by a playoff run of almost equal length seems rather pointless now.

Both sides have made their contribution to the mess, so we'll leave it to them to figure out whenever they can fit the game back into their schedule. Just don't be surprised if the paying customers take some time to think over their options. Life has gone on, the game while missed is certainly not draining us of our energies. We find other things to do, best you hope that we don't start to enjoy those other things at your expense later on. You can make your changes, but we may make some of our own!

The above article first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more articles about hockey check it out!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Delusions of Newtness

It's with a great amount of humour I read of the trial balloon being floated by none other than Newt Gingrich, Newt it seems is pondering a bid for the 2008 American Presidency. If nothing else he dreams big, but surely even his Newtness isn't thinking seriously that he would have a chance as the candidate for the Republican party?

Does the term excess baggage mean anything to the former Congressman from Georgia, a man whose star blazed brightly during the Clinton years, only to fall spectacularly at that altar called hypocrisy!

Newt of course was one of the leading Republicans during the high drama of the Clinton years, Republican outrage over all things Clinton, but which seemed to strangely focus on the examination of the sexual mores of the then President of the United States. Now to be fair to Newt he never seemed particularly comfortable with that aspect of bringing down the Democrats, perhaps because he was at the same time involved in some rather less than flattering moments in his own personal affairs. It may be that this is a forgive and forget society, but as they say, those that live in a glass house shouldn't throw rocks, nor should they except absolution upon being identified for what they are or in this case were.

Newts own personal life is a catalogue of personal flaws that make him more likely to host a reality TV show than become leader of the free world. But it's America, and one guesses anything can happen. But there must be a limit to one's fanciful beliefs.

Now perhaps all this talk of Newt for Prez, is mere shilling for his new epic tome of political theatre called, "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America", picking up one assumes with his 1994 exploration of Republican core values. Named as Time Magazines man of the year in 1995, Gingrich held power at the end of his telephone. The creation of the "Contract with America" then, became almost a Declaration of independence for Republicans as they recaptured the reins of Power in the House, resulting in no shortage of pain for the Clinton forces during their years in office.

This time though the pain is mostly Republican, in "Winning the future...."Newt takes on his own party and the leaders that led them to Iraq and have fumbled domsetic issues. He dishes out equal blame to Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney and Bush, perhaps to prove his bona fides in the debate over Iraq. Not going into a full attack on Republican values mind you, but apparently leaving a bit of wriggle room to distance himself from a flailing policy. Of course it helps to not actually be anywhere near the seat of power when things go wrong as well, thus keeping your options open when the time comes around.

Gingrich who gave up his seat in 1999 after the Republicans suffered unexpected losses, has spent the last few years working on his Civil War novels and cobbling together the update to Contract with America. He also has been wandering the streets of Washington compiling a list of all the attractions that pay homage to God. In his new book he has nineteen pages of listings a "walking Tour of God, in Washington DC" places where Moses, the Bible, and God above are praised and forever immortalized.

Perhaps all that soul searching led to a more contrite Newt, one who can quote scripture and actually lead the life intended, but old dogs and new tricks dictate a different theory. That of cloaking oneself in the tones of the righteous, ringing a clarion bell, all the while having laid the groundwork of the destructive. In other words he can read those commandments, but is a tad selective on the ones to follow.

It seems fitting that he has found a media home in the jowls of the Fox News hurricane, able to find fellow travelers on the network that loves its Republicans. And if Newt were a smart man, he might wisht to forsake the grind of the chicken dinners of Iowa and New Hampshire for the after show meals at New Yorks finest eateries. He'll probably be more revered as a handy acolyte for Bill O'Reilly and more than likely find the heat less intense under the protective umbrella of Fox News. Which seems to not worry about such things as personal demons and bad publicity.

But a Newt for President campaign must have the Grand Old Party worried for the future. Sending Newt up against the Democrats could be the kind of scenario that might help deflect the disappointment of losing to George Bush in 2004. If anything the idea should help get the Democrats back on their message and back into the game. Oh my, the prospect of Gingrich becoming president in 2008 must seem like a God send!

Just the thought of it makes the idea of a Bush dynasty seem almost appealing, Jeb, Neil (well maybe Neil may want to sit this one out) C'mon' Republican's get those papers filed and get to work! If Newt is the best your party can float, then there's surely a spot at a New Hampshire coffee shop for you too!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Are TSN Producers reading HockeyNation?

While I'm quite sure it's coincidence, it's nice to see that the Programming minds at TSN and HockeyNation are of the same mind! Canada's The Sports Network has picked up the Hockey Day in Canada torch and held it high on their own.

A day after the CBC put the kaibosh on it's five year tradition Hockey Day in Canada, the folks at TSN jumped up to take advantage of the void and offer up their own celebration of Canadianna.

Hockey Lives Here: Canada's game will be broadcast for six hours on February 19th from Noon -6 pm Eastern time ( a 9 am wake up call for us West coasters). Highlights of the day include a stop in Quebec City for the always popular and much celebrated Pee Wee Hockey Tournament. TSN will pop into the rink in Thunder Bay and take in a CIS college game between the University of Western Ontario and Lakehead. They scoot back across to New Brunswick for the World Pond Hockey championships as well.

Other features will include a how to session for home rink builders, a peek into the Canadian Women's team preparations for the defence of their world title and a number of other features from across the country.

In short, pretty well everything that Hockey Day in Canada was all about, without of course the three NHL games to keep it flowing. But TSN will find other ways to keep the show on the right track, utilizing it's stable of top flight hockey experts like Pierre McGuire, Bob McKenzie, Dave Hodge and Brian Burke to name a few there will be no shortage of Hockey Talk in the six hour special.

It's as if they took the recent HockeyNation story on the CBC and put it up on the storyboard. Though to be fair to TSN I'm quite sure that mere minutes after the CBC cancelled their Hockey Day plans, TSN were jumping into the studio to get things rolling.

Kudos to The Sports Network for taking charge of things, Hockey is much more than the bleating of rich owners and well compensated players, it's about heart, determination and love of game. The folks at TSN understand the passion for the game across the land, something that not only has escaped the CBC but indeed has escaped all those involved in the NHL both management and labour!.

May just a bit of the spirit of Hockey Lives Here rub off on them! They all seem to have forgotten the hold that the game has on us. Bring on the Peewees, the college kids and the gals team. February 19th we'll all be dropping by the rink to watch some hockey, just like it should be!

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more hockey oriented material check it out!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Another reason for Danny to keep the flag UP!

Haven't really commented much on the "Mouse that Roared" activities of Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams. While I understand the frustration of Newfoundlanders at the state of Federal/Provincial relations (you ain't alone byes and gals), the silly ass act of taking the Maple Leaf flag down from all buildings seemed a tad childish.

Fortunately Mr. Williams finally stopped stamping his foot and called an end to the flag flap, returning the Maple Leaf to all provincial buildings and flagpoles. And Danny you made you decision not a moment too soon!

Out of Ottawa today is news that the New Chief of Defence Staff will be a Newfoundlander, Lt. General Rick Hillier, most recently force commander of our Afghanistan expedition..

Something that Mr. Williams seemed to forget during his Maple Leaf distemper was the fact that a good portion of our Armed Forces personnel are proud Newfoundlanders, who wear that supposedly despised symbol on their arms when they go about the cause of keeping us safe and addressing worldwide humanitarian concerns.

By taking the flag down around the province, the Premier of Newfoundland was in effect, dismissing the efforts of his own sons and daughters. Perhaps a chat with Lt. General Hillier might help Mr. Williams in understanding the concept. If he's in the mood for a little home work, Danny might also find this link helpful, particularly the last paragraph of the History section.

Democracy is all about speaking out when you feel wronged, addressing your concerns in a mature fashion. Danny, make a point if you must and be a tad more creative next time please, but don't do it at the expense of the people who put far more on the line each day than a mercurial politician!

CBC pulls the plug on Hockey Day in Canada!

An unusual announcement (and one destined to not be very popular) from the CBC today, the extremely well received feature known as Hockey Day in Canada has been cancelled for this year. Victim apparently to bureaucratic stupidity in the absence of money making NHL hockey on television this year.

In the last five years the CBC has turned over the main network on a Saturday in February, to explore our love and passion for the game. Usually set in some small town somewhere in the frozen expanse of Canada, the day long celebration would link coast to coast to coast, featuring items from burgs of all sizes big and small, just dropping into the local rink to see what was up. Ron MacLean would be the host of this national check up on the state of the game and the grass roots, can do attitude that makes it so great.

Of course the day long adventure was anchored by NHL hockey, three games featuring all Canadian match ups, played back to back with our little vignettes liberally broadcast throughout the games. The beauty of Hockey Day in Canada was not the actual NHL games; but the pride that every small town involved would take in showcasing their local heroes, their local rink and the local characters that make Hockey the beloved sport of the nation.

Somehow that message has escaped the bean counters at the CBC, who one assumes feel that without the star attractions there's no show! But one wonders if they don't have it all backwards at the CBC (not that this would be the first time that has happened!) if ever there was a year to keep a tradition alive this would be it.

There is no doubt a serious cash flow problem at the CBC without the cash cow that hockey was to the network. And while the absence of the actual pro games on the network would be hard to program around, there would have been ways to keep the spirit of Hockey Day in Canada alive and maybe send a message to the likes of Mr. Bettman, Mr. Goodenow and their respective representatives that they do not control our game.

Hockey Day could have featured a period of a junior game, a period of a university game, an old timers game, women's hockey, a high profile minor tournament, the options are endless. To counter the lack of NHL hockey on the ice, perhaps a serious debate on the issues separating the two sides. Turn lose their battalion of experts, commentators and reporters and put everything out there for us to examine.

Lets face it, if there's no hockey by February there won't be any hockey this year. What better chance to find out just how things got of the rails than to dedicate a day to problem and maybe offer solution. More importantly by showcasing the game as it is enjoyed in communities across the land, we would be showing that nothing is bigger than the actual game played on ice, any ice, anywhere!

Instead, the CBC just washes its hands of a valuable possibility and what had become a national tradition. One hopes that common sense returns to the public broadcaster and they take advantage of an opportunity to make a difference in the debate. From the reports coming out today, the staff at the CBC are dismayed at the decision, expressing frustration with a broadcaster that seems to have lost its way of late.

Memo to CBC Programming: Listen to your employees and listen to the viewers.

Hockey Day in Canada was much more than a bunch of pro hockey players on the ice, it was a mirror into the country. Which the last time anyone checked, was exactly what the CBC was supposed to be all about!

The above article first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Essentially yours, best of the Essentials Jan 1-9, 2005

A brand new year and we resolve to keep track of our essentials...

1-Jan-05 Waldo comes home
1-Jan-05 The misery continues
1-Jan-05 A worrisome trend for Mr. Musharraf
1-Jan-05 Must NOT see TV
1-Jan-05 Police work made easy
2-Jan-05 Waldo makes a plan
2-Jan-05 Seven days later and the total still rises
2-Jan-05 An old, sick cow
2-Jan-05 A town called Winterpeg
2-Jan-05 A kinder, gentler McNugget
3-Jan-05 DART aims to help
3-Jan-05 Tony feels some heat
3-Jan-05 The four year scandal that still tops our news
3-Jan-05 Trading pig manure for Tokyo's lights
3-Jan-05 A FOX affiliate with a conscience
4-Jan-05 A golden night for Canada
4-Jan-05 Generous but not Too Generous
4-Jan-05 Blogging a Disaster
4-Jan-05 The Lowest of the Low
4-Jan-05 And we're Cliiiiiimbbbinnng a Staiiiirrrrrwaaaaay to…. Grammy
5-Jan-05 The Toronto Star lists the missing and the Dead
5-Jan-05 Tsunami aid as a Beauty Contest?
5-Jan-05 A general speaks out on Iraq
5-Jan-05 Frank McK enna to join the witness relocation program
5-Jan-05 Just another night for the kids of Winnipeg
6-Jan-05 Toronto Star feels the heat over its list
6-Jan-05 Credit card companies scramble to reverse bad press
6-Jan-05 Anyone know a good plumber?
6-Jan-05 Canadian sub to delay hitch hike across the ocean
6-Jan-05 Flags are still down in Newfoundland
7-Jan-05 Not many planes, nor ships but lots of politicians
7-Jan-05 Eat without worry
7-Jan-05 Winter visits Vancouver and the Island
7-Jan-05 When the off button isn't enough
7-Jan-05 JenniPitt split
8-Jan-05 Relief efforts hampered by rivalries
8-Jan-05 Cows for Drugs?
8-Jan-05 Palestine to the Polls
8-Jan-05 A run on employees at the CIBC
8-Jan-05 Springer saga sprung on the Brits
9-Jan-05 Abass first past the post
9-Jan-05 Decision near on missile defence?
9-Jan-05 Cripes, Danny clam up and just put the flag back up!
9-Jan-05 The people make their choice
9-Jan-05 Suddenly there's a whole new interest in those Columbia House flyers

A smug Victorian come uppance!

By way of our friend sean at seanincognito comes a wonderful piece of satire directed at those hard suffering British Columbians to the south of Greater Podunk, who as we speak, struggle through the wrath of Mother Nature. Sean sent me a copy of an e mail he received and I found it so entertaining that I have decided to add some resource links and share with the pounkian community.

From the mind of Jack Knox of the Victoria Times Colonist comes this gem of how we handle snow on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Anyone with access to BCTV, CTV in BC, CBC and assorted local radio stations will find some of the following almost too close to the truth, a fine line between reality and parody no doubt....


Chronology of a crisis, Vancouver Island-style.

5:35 p.m. Environment Canada predicts two to five centimetres of snow will fall on Victoria within a 24-hour period. Ed Bain reads the forecast on-air, turns white and faints.

5:40 p.m. Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe issues immediate appeal for federal assistance. Prime Minister Paul Martin promises to send in the army.

8:45 p.m. Victorians begin queuing at tire stores, leaving vehicles in line overnight to be first served in morning.

10:15 p.m. It turns out B.C.'s last army base, CFB Chilliwack, closed in 1998. Martin promises to send in navy instead.

10:20 p.m. Navy announces deployment to San Diego and Hawaii for "security reasons." Conservative Leader Stephen Harper suggests prime minister call Quebec advertising agencies to shovel the snow, "since that's where the Liberals are spending all our money anyway."

6:22 a.m. Temperature plunges. Word spreads that Saanich man found ice on windshield. Curious neighbours gather to watch him scrape it off with a credit card. One motorist, a former Albertan, claims use of mysterious "defrost"switch on dashboard can aid in process.

8:15 a.m. Terrified downtown skate boarders lose toques to menacing mob of balding, middle-aged men. "We tried to run ," they say, "but those stupid baggy-assed pants made us fall down."

9:30 a.m. Hardware stores sell both of their snow shovels. Islanders begin cobbling together implements made from kayak paddles, umbrellas, plywood, cookie sheets and boogie boards.

10 a.m. Golfers switch to orange balls. Beacon Hill Park cricket players, anxious not to repeat the ugly "snowblower incident" of the Blizzard of '96, switch to orange uniforms.

Noon. Word of impending West Coast snowfall tops newscasts across Canada. Saskatoon hospitals report epidermic of sprained wrists related to viewers high-fiving one another.

1:20 p.m. Elementary schools call in grief counsellors. Grief counsellors refuse to go, citing lack of snow tires.

2:30 p.m. Rush hour begins an hour early as office workers come down with mysterious illness and bolt for home. Usual traffic snarl is compounded by large number of four-wheel-drives abandoned by side of road.

2:50 p.m. Airplanes are grounded and ferries docked. No way to travel between Island and rest of the world. Times Colonist headline: Mainland Cut Off From Civilization.

3:22 p.m. Prime Minister Martin announces Canada's DART rapid response team can be on the ground within six months."We can't leave Victoria to deal with 225 centimetres of snow on its own," he tells Lowe."Um, that's two-to-five centimetres, not two-two-five," replies the mayor. The prime minister hangs up.

3:33 p.m. Provincial government responds to crisis by installing slot machines in homeless shelters.

3:45 p.m. Builders of new arena announce weather-related delays will push completion date back to July 2008.

4: 10 p.m. At behest of Provincial Emergency Program, authorities begin adding Prozac to drinking water.

4:15 p.m. Fears of food shortage lead to alarming scenes of violence and looting. Grocery shoppers riot across the city, except in Oak Bay, where residents hire caterers to do rioting for them.

4:30 p.m. Bracing for the arrival of snow, the city is gripped by an eerie stillness reminiscent of Baghdad on the eve of the invasion. Search lights comb darkening sky for first sign of precipitation.

4:48 p.m. Panic ripples across region as word comes in that first flakes have fallen on the Malahat. False alarm. "Flakes" turn out to be nothing more than anthrax spores released by terrorists. An uneasy calm returns to city.

5:40 p.m. Ed Bain, shaking uncontrollably, tells viewers that snow warning has been extended. This weather pattern could go on for days. Mercury plummets to Calgary-in-August levels. Martial law is declared. Victoria-area politicians announce plans to establish emergency command centre aboard HMCS Regina once it reaches Oahu.

A sure sign that the end is nigh?

So those annoying phone calls from Columbia House may not get the hang up treatment in the near future. When those massive mailings arrive every couple of months offering 5 DVD's for 49 cents, you'll be fighting the kids for those little stickers for your mailing card. All because Columbia House is branching out into the Adult Entertainment sector of the mail order business.

No more dumping that massive envelope from Col House into the recycling bin right away, instead go get the bifocals strengthened, the better to make out the images on those tiny little postage stamp like DVD covers. Across North America the Columbia House magazine may get as dog eared as a favourite old copy of Playboy.

Just think the next time you get a call from the helpful gal at Columbia House she'll be breathlessly telling you the virtues of Prom Queen showdown, Voracious Vixens, et al. Instead of the recitation of the music or mainstream movie stars of the day you'll be tempted with summaries of the latest of the efforts from the seedier side of Hollywood.

You may actually find yourself listening through the entire list, (sorry I missed the first ten could you repeat them please, slowly) before curtly dismissing her from your phone line. And just imagine the fun around the kitchen phone when the little ones listen to you place your first five orders!

Only question remaining for the legal beagles at Col House will such phone calls qualify as a 1 800 version of Adult entertainment as found in your local yellow pages? And if so are they breaking any CRTC rules by listing the lust?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Wanna be a Spy?

A & E just launched their second season of MI-5 a rather enjoyable and interesting bit of espionage television. Along the lines of North America's 24 with Keifer Sutherland and part Alias with Jennifer Garner, the production from the BBC gives us a look at the world of spooks from the British perspective.

A & E gave us a whirwind tour of the MI-5 world with a marathon Saturday where some of the BBC's season one and all of season two were run back to back through the day. It made for a rather paranoid approach to ones Saturday but none the less provided the necessary background for the new season's debut at 7pm.

While it occasionally lapses into some near "jump the shark kind of moments" it still is a fast paced hour, lots of action, lots of character interplay and a rather believable inside look at the bureaucracy of a major spy agency.

One wonders how hero Tom Quinn continues to stay alive let alone keep his job, but perhaps that is what has made the show a cult hit in North America with its A & E exposure. The folks at A & E also have a pretty nifty little website for the show. Lots of background on the program, past episode guides, an upcoming schedule synopsis, personnel files, downloads for your computer, an ask the expert section and a great little training program for the spy in all of us.

I took the test tonight as I put together this blog item, and while my shooting is fairly accurate and I'm a hell of a bomb squad guy, my abilities to shut off the valves to poison gas need a little work as do my safe cracking skills. On the bright side, I can stick to my cover story pretty faithfully so I can play the role of a mole if need be.

If you want to kill some time (and a few bad guys along the way) check out the site and take the test. Who knows you may have found a secret talent and a new vocation, though one suspects you'll never be able to tell us if you do join the service.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Someone check the mailing lists!

Perhaps Chris Chelios, Tie Domi, Jeremy Roenick and other dissatisfied NHLers (or is that ex-NHLers now) were in the voting booth. But for Gary Bettman this has not been a great way to start off 2005, the votes are in and he's the pits.

Bettman has seen his professional ranking drop in not one, but two major American publications. First he found his Sporting News power ranking tumble from 13th place last year to 40th in the annual listing of the top 100 important people in sport. To add insult to that injury, looking down at Gary from number 39 is none other than Bob Goodenow. No wonder nobody is taking any calls at the NHL office.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, Business Week magazine has released its poll of the seven worst managers in Business and Gary placed fifth in the stumbling seven. Gary shares office space in the doghouse with the likes of Michael Eisner, forced out at Disney in a shareholder revolt, Raymond Gilmartin, he of the troubled makers of Vioxx and Scott Livengood of Krispy Kreme donuts who are in the midst of an investigation into accounting problems.

Also listed in the article in the category of fallen managers is former Nortel CEO Frank Dunn, who has been on watch at the bridge as Nortel took on water. Gary can only hope that he doesn't suffer the same fate, as most hockey fans wish the same for their beloved sport.

Should Gary wish to talk to someone about how to turn things around, Paul Tagliabue is the fellow to chat with. He's listed as the number one sports manager in the pros. Perhaps Gary could ask Scott to send him some donuts for the meeting!

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

There's always FOX, Tucker!

CNN made a move for civil debate today when they offered Tucker Carlson, "the opportunity to pursue other ventures", sending the bow tied conservative commentator off on a job search.

Carlson, who seemed to specialize in high pitched and occassinally nasty sparring of late, found himself at the blunt end of a Jon Stewart salvo recently when Stewart appeared on the CNN program Crossfire. While Tucker exits stage uh right, I guess, his program Crossfire will apparently be dropped altogether, allowing the remaining contributers to to become a calmer more substantive part of CNN's brand. The plan apparently is to keep the three remaining personalities, but give them punditry duties without the Crossfire banner.

Right winger Bob Novak and left leaning Paul Begala and James Carville will still offer up their view of the political scene, though they'll be doing in a less controversial and decibel reduced format.

Crossfire of course is one of the long running fixtures of the early CNN era, probably reaching its zenith of bombastic overdrive when Pat Buchanan and Michael Kinsley used to tee off at each other.

While the folks at FOX may like their volume, it appears that CNN is aiming for more insightful content. For Canadians that are going to miss the noise, hang in there, our ever popular CRTC babysitters are apparently letting you have FOX News very shortly. Tucker was never a shy guy about taking his shots at Canada (whether he had the facts correct to back him up or not), so most likely a spot at FOX would be right up his resume. Though there are reports that he may land at MSNBC, a network he apparently has been in discussion with for a few months now.

And if all else fails Tucker, I hear Al Jazerra (soon to be available in Canada as well) is hiring too, so the options are endless!

"Winter nights are long, Summer Days are Gone, Portage and Main, fifty below! "

Randy and Neil forever immortalized a Winnipeg winter with their tribute to cold weather a few years ago. And I can't help but hum along as I read the weather crawler on CTV Newsnet, showing the fact that balmy Churchill, Manitoba is twenty degrees warmer than Winterpeg and southern environs on this crisp Wednesday!

What do hundreds of polar bears know, that hundreds of thousands of Winnipeggers don't?

I'm sure Sean at seanincognito can shed some warm light on the situation for us!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Sutter's School of Shinny is out for the season!

Professor Sutter's class of 06 has graduated with straight A's. In a spectacular graduation ceremony held Tuesday night at the Ralph Englestad Center for Hockey Excellence, Professor Sutter oversaw his pupils receive their golden diplomas in front of family, friends and a delirious nation watching from the North.

With his team's complete domination of the competition at this years World Junior Hockey Championship, Sutter can take great pride in a job well done. One after another in post game interviews the players would proclaim thanks and respect for their coach, from the early days of training camp evaluations to the pre tourney days of Winnipeg this team came together with one mission in mind, Gold!

Players would recount how he urged them to step up their game, check their egos at the door and buy into a system that seemed perfectly flawless from the opening face off of game one, right to the final buzzer of the Gold Medal game. Sutter never exhibited anything but confidence in his team and with good cause, for this was as impressive a squad as Canada has assembled in a long time.

Night after night, opposition coaches, media observers and hockey fans everywhere sang the praises of a team that seemed to fit together perfectly. Replays of game film will show player after player holding his position, making the hard clean hit at the right time. They never gave up too much ice and rarely left their goaltenders on their own. The offensive players came back and held their checks, the defensive players blocked shots without fear. Rare was the team that could engineer a two on one break, rarer still the player that dared to cross the blue line with a head down.

This was Sutter hockey played by a collection of players who took it to heart, hard nosed, determined and ultimately quite successful. One suspects that the hockey minds of the other nations were taking their notes, breaking down their film and examining a very successful template for victory. Like it has been in the past and now is again, the Canadian brand of hockey is one that stands the test of time.

This years grads will return to their distant outposts in the Q, OHL, Western or American Leagues. But they've forever formed a bond that will no doubt be tested in competition against each other, but will never be unbroken.

In post game interviews Sutter wasn't making any commitments to returning for next years Championships in Vancouver, but one hopes Hockey Canada knows a good thing when they've seen one. This was a well taught, disciplined group of young men who not only performed to a high level of ability but played with pride of nation and respect of the game. We surely cannot ask for anything more!

Sutter's school of Shinny was the tonic for the Hockey Nation. There are countless other students no doubt wishing to study the curriculum and take their own final exams! Here's hoping the Professor signs on for another semester.

The above blog first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, for more articles about Hockey check it out!