Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Break out the foil! Goons on Ice is back on the ice!

Please let this be the last mention of the Hockey Enforcers Battle Royale until the actual date of the fisticuffs. Prince George, BC city council under advisement from some legal officials has reversed its decision to ban the Hockey Enforcers card scheduled for August 27th at the city's CN centre.

With Mayor Colin Kinsley leading the way, the council gave a hesitant go ahead to the competition , which shall pit former NHL tough guys and those that think they were against each other on the shimmering ice of the city's hockey mecca. Kinsley himself was not particularly in favour of the skating slugfest but suggested that the city had no right to legislate what is good or bad taste as far as entertainment goes.

Those that were against the idea from the beginning are still against it, but with the prospect of legal challenges looming they chose to close their eyes and hope for the best. Councillor Dan Rogers blamed that old favourite whipping horse, the media for the controversy. Rogers claimed that the Vancouver media took the story and ran it to the extreme. An interesting comment from a guy that made his money as a television and radio sports guy at one time. Councillor Brian Skakun who spearheaded the move to stop the fights claims the Enforcers will do nothing to enhance the city's image and may continue to propagate the stereotype of Prince George as a redneck kind of town.

Skakun was the lone ranger for a kinder, gentler Prince George as in the end he was the lone vote against the motion. Needless to say the whole mess has divided the city from the Hart Highlands down to College Heights and out the highway towards Vanderhoof. But for Darryl Wolski it's all gold, as they say any advertising is good advertising and for Wolski and his Enforcers this has been the motherlode of advertising!

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Let's try a re-write!

President George Bush went to the people on Tuesday night, making his case to stay the course and remain in combat in Iraq. With losses mounting and nightly horrors being played out on the television sets of America, the population is getting a bit nervous about the whole situation and recent polls reflect that sense of worry on the part of Americans.

While polls should play no part in anything as serious as a war, they do give one a sense of a growing chasm between the Bush circle and the wider population. Tuesday’s speech was supposed to focus the American people on a tough but vital job ahead. And for part of it the President did an admirable job of trying to paint the picture for his fellow Americans. Fred Kaplan does a very complete recap of the speech in the current update for Slate’s website.

As you read along to Kaplan’s’ recap, you will notice that along the way some of the Republican messages got changed from those early days of battle. Not once during the speech were the much vaunted Weapons of Mass Destruction mentioned, now this is not unexpected, for as it turned out the quest for WMD was very much a questionable task to begin with. But it was one of the foundations for the Invasion of Iraq and now seems to be treated as one of those little white lies, one would tell to convince a parent that you really hadn’t done anything wrong.

Another interesting turn of phrase on Tuesday was the creation of the melting pot state of terrorism that Iraq has become. Originally in the early days of the conflict, military observers let slip that one of the ideas of setting up shop in Iraq was to create.a magnet for all evil doers to concentrate on. And with porous borders and a suspicious and less than reliable citizenry in country, Iraq certainly has become a bazaar for those that wish America ill.

The president suggested that America was there to fight those interlopers that had taken over Iraq to create havoc. But was that more or less not the plan many would say. The whole exercise at times seems to have been designed to do exactly that, set up a place to pen them in and the homeland would remain relatively peaceful, but at a heavy cost to those Americans sent to patrol the war zone.

Americans might actually feel better if that was the plan! At least then there would be some indication that things were being thought out, for at the moment it gives many an uneasy feeling that things are being done on the fly. We recently had the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney suggest that the insurrection was in its death throes, yet news reports and casualty counts from the battle zones indicate that’s not quite accurate. The very general in charge of the Iraqi deployment Gen. John P. Abizaid said that the insurgency was getting worse and not better. In fact the President, more or less contradicted his own VP on Tuesday night, by stating that it will be a lengthy process to bring Iraqis a peace they so badly deserve. One wonders if Cheney has spoken lately to General Abizaid, let alone the President.

Mr. Cheney seems to make fewer and fewer public comments of late (though when he does speak it usually ends with his foot in his mouth) and that may not be a bad thing. Since the more or less accepted facts of the current situation and his concept of things are seemingly incompatible. The worrisome aspect of this though is the idea that neither the President nor his Vice President seem to be on the same page of battle orders. How does one implement a battle plan if no one can agree on the threat danger?

Another bit of unsettling bravado came earlier in the week from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he stated that the proper number of troops were in Iraq to do the job. It’s a situation which seems rather hard to believe, considering the continual mayhem of Baghdad, Tikrit, Mosul and many other burgs. The President states that recruits for terror are coming from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran et al, yet no real move has been made to secure the borders of Iraq. The war seems to be confined to the cities while the borders and rural areas are left un-patrolled, free for the insurgents to set up camp and plan their attacks. While the President explains the need to stay the course, he offers up no suggestion that concrete steps are being made to stem the flow of supplies and willing fighters to those opposed to the American forces and those Iraqi’s trying to retake their institutions.

Rumsfeld designed the smaller incursion force that went to Iraq stating that huge numbers of troops were not required to overthrow a dictator. And perhaps that part of the thinking was correct for the removal of Saddam Hussein was quick and done with relatively few American casualties. However, the day to day policing of the country and prosecution of the battle plan on terror seems to be a little short staffed. Many commanders who have since retired suggested at the time that a larger force was needed to keep a lid on the violence after the removal of the Iraqi government, it would appear that they were not listened to at the time and their voices continue to be ignored at present.

Rebuilding the infrastructure of a country and fighting a war at the same time requires many, many bodies, American forces currently stretched thin can’t do all the heavy lifting and while the US would wish that its International friends and acquaintances would come to share in the work of creating a new Iraq, as long as the Wild West aura continues many will be hesitant to assist. A sense that things were under control and that there was actually some kind of timetable for Iraq might go a long way to bringing more nations along for the ride.

The specter of 9/11 once again was put forward as a reason to continue the battle in Iraq. And I tread carefully on that hallowed ground; I fully understand the anguish of the American people over that horrible day, the horrendous loss of life on their very own streets. But it’s hard to draw the parallel between September 11 and the current situation in Iraq. About the only connection is the fact that many of the terror groups that openly wish for America’s demise have currently set up shop in Iraq, including those that launched or supported the attacks on the US on that September morning. Considering the fact that most of Al Qaeda is apparently hiding in the Pakistani mountains, the connection between the overthrow of Saddam and the quest for Bin Laden and his acolytes seems hard to find.

The 9/11 theme was recently highlighted by White House confidant and Republican pit bull Karl Rove, who basically accused those that don’t agree with Republican doctrine as enemies of the state. A bit of political theatre that harkens back to a darker era of America and is not needed at this pivotal time in American history. There are many Democrats enlisted in the US Military, no doubt many who have given their lives in the service of Mr. Roves’ boss, his boorish behavior is a slap at each and every serving member of the American forces, not to mention almost half of the American voting public.

This is the problem with the Republican message; they don’t seem to understand that in a time of crisis or cause, it’s best to unite the people behind a President with words of concern, strength of conviction and a blue print for success. While the first two on the list have been played nicely, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of the latter coming from the Republicans at the moment. Mostly the agenda seems to be to rewrite the facts to fit the feeling of the moment.

For the sake of the serving personnel in Iraq and the Iraqi people themselves, one hopes that soon the bravado and bluster give way to tangible plans. To leave now probably would condemn Iraq to a cycle of violence even more heinous than that they’ve endured thus far. But with nothing seemingly in place to bring the place to a sense of normalcy, one fears for more of the same that plays out on our television sets nightly.

It obviously will take more time than the American public probably thought was required to finish off the mission. With talk of an insurgency that could last for anywhere from five to twelve years, though the patience and resolve of the American people will be surely tested.

The political types have served up a current scenario that is a great disservice to those sent into battle, those left to worry at home and those caught in the middle in Iraq. They deserve much, much more than the glib words and incomplete plans of politicians, political handlers and bureaucrats. The question is will they receive what they need?

No surprise at my house!

Ah this bit of news does warm the cockles of one's heart.

Boiled, Baked or Fried
Chosen for the morning, lunch or evening with pride.
Mashed, Hashed, but never bashed.
For domestic consumption or American cash!

The food of my ancestors finds it's place of honour in the land of my birth,
just in time for Canada Day meals to add to your girth.

So grab some fries, or buy a baker.
It's a tribute to the Canadian tater!

Monday, June 27, 2005

JR finds a microphone

It's been a long off season for Jeremy Roenick, JR who hasn't had many opportunities in the last year to comment on all things hockey, finally unburdened himself over the weekend. JR let loose on the NHL, his union executive and hockey fans who look at he and his fellow band of brothers as spoiled millionaires.

Roenick is upset that the union management did not accept a deal back in early 2005, one that would have saved the NHLPA some of the pain that is about to come their way with a new deal. JR says that the players got their butts kicked by the NHL and that the union will give back more than any other union in the history of professional sport.

And while all seem to agree that some damage control will be necessary with the fans after this year long debacle, JR isn't quite ready to take the barbs of the ticket buying public. While he admits that all will have to do their part, he has no time for those that think of hockey players as spoiled millionaires.

He apparently was only warming up after that broadside, Roenick went on to say that the union heads neglected to listen to him and other NHL players who repeatedly told them that the path they were on was one of destruction. They may not have listened to him then, but they're certainly going to be hearing from him now. It will be interesting to see how the players union reps respond to the latest from Mount Jeremy.

However for hockey fans JR's outburst is a good sign, he's back, he verbose and ready to rumble. Hockey must actually be on its way back grumbling and all!

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

Goons on Ice (The phoenix like rebirth of)

It seems you can't knock this Darryl Wolski guy out, if half of his hockey combatants have his ability to take a punch the big show may go on all night.

When we last left the saga of the Hockey Enforcers, Prince George city council had voted to ban the show from the city's CN centre. However, after a bit of bravado from Wolski about lawsuits and with a suggestion from the police that the exhibition could find a way to fit into the Criminal Code, the on again/off again knuckleduster showcase may soon be back on again.

Mayor Colin Kinsley has stepped into the controversy by urging his fellow council members to reconsider their votes of last week and to bring the program to another vote at Monday nights Council meeting.

The Enforcers show has become quite the controversial issue in Prince George which is not quite used to being the subject of debate. Opponents of the Goon show say that it is sending a wrong message to young people and not painting the northern BC city in a proper light. Those in favour of the competition claim that the fisticuffs planned for the CN centre won't be any more harmful than what you could find in a Prince George bar on a Saturday night.

One would assume that Prince George must have other pressing issues to deal with these days, but washed up hockey enforcers will once again dominate the council agenda.

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

Friday, June 24, 2005

Goons on Ice (The cancellation)

Put away the road map of Northern BC, you shan't be needing directions for the way to PG today. Prince George city council delivered a knockout punch to the organizers of the Enforcers tournament. As the Northern BC city mindful of the perception of a home of barbaric fisticuffs decided that it was not going to put out the welcome mat for hockey's traveling band of knuckledraggers.

The Enforcers tourney had only just finished trumpeting its new locale when the rumblings of discontent started to become known from the citizenry. Subject to snickers from other BC communities such as Kamloops and Kelowna to name a few, the populace that don't like the idea of men on skates kicking the crud out of each other started to make a bit of noise.

For organizer Darryl Wolski it's back to the telephone and a search for a city, town, village or backyard rink where he might finally let his charges square off. Something that most observers in Prince George probably won't agree with. With a Pay Per view contract still dangling and the inevitable companion DVD and VHS products no doubt to follow expect the search to continue.

Wolski is obviously feeling the pressure with the latest setback, as he launched an attack on Prince George council claiming that they had given their city a black eye. But for these Hockey Enforcers the only thing cool about the whole project has been the reaction from those approached to host it.

The above posting first appeared in my HockeyNation blog, which is dedicated to all items hockey related. If so inclined check it out!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

For it's Bud the Spud, with his bright red mud, coming from Prince Edward Island!

The Live 8 show in our cultural Mecca of Barrie has come under a bit of attack the last few days over the line up of artists set to entertain and educate the masses.

While the debate raged on a call from Ottawa came out for inclusion of a national icon for the really big shew. Ottawa DJ, Jeff Brown from CHEZ 106 launched his own personal protest over the exclusion of Stompin' Tom Connors from the mighty Live 8 line up, to get his point across Brown played nothing by Stompin' Tom songs during his afternoon drive show and vowed to continue playing them until the Stompin' one was put on the list. Alas, station management decided that the playlist is the thing and put and end to the rebellion by taking Brown off the air for an indefinite period of time over his affection for Connors.

Of course this sounds like a pretty good publicity stunt and so be it, but there is the petition for us all to sign to get Stompin' Tom on the bill. He'd be a natural to get the crowd going and more importantly is very much a national symbol, one just as deserving as some of the others on this list of performers. So sign on the cyber line and lets get Stompin' Tom a ticket to Barrie!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Welcome back boys!

For the sport deprived Canadian, the opening theme to the CFL on TSN was the sweetest sound in a long time. It was like an old friend coming back from a lengthy vacation ready to entertain you with some great tales. Man if we had a Wendy's in this burg, I'd have run out and bought a burger and a Frosty in celebration. The CFL returned to our TV's on Wednesday night, kicking off the 2005 Regular season and what a welcome guest it was.

After a winter of discontent courtesy of our absent hockey obsession, the green field of McGill University was a most welcome sight. Finally something to invest our time in with a rewarding payback. A sport where money doesn't carry as much weight, where the game is still a game and the players seem to give 110% for the sheer joy of the competition. Indeed after listening to the dinosaurs in the NHL and the NHLPA try to take their league to extinction, the return of the CFL is a signal that all is well again above the 49th.

Perhaps now this league will never be taken for granted again, for it means much more to us than we may have realized. The CFL represents community and continuity of tradition, a place where Canadian homegrown college grads can line up and make the big play, just as easily as a highly touted American import. It's a league for those just beginning a professional journey, or a place for those looking for a second chance. A spot where yes, you can come up and star for awhile and take your chance on a dream in the NFL, but also a place where you know you can return and find the fun in the game again.

Yes the CFL has made some blunders over the years, they stumble, shoot themselves in the foot and give one cause for headshaking at how good a game it must be to survive those that have run it in the past. But it's also a league that rises to the occasion time and time again, with bitter rivalries that have lasted through the decades, memories of Grey Cups and Labour Days, Thanksgiving Classics and Divisional nail biters, through the years the CFL has offered up the memories for the taking.

And now more than ever perhaps we'll give it a bit more of the respect it deserves. Hockey lost a year of it's life and most likely more than a few fans with their little turf war this past winter.

For now Canadians want only to watch the wars on the Turf. As Hank Jr. might put it, "we're ready for some football"

Welcome back guys, glad you're back in the house!

The above posting first appeared in my Twelve Men on the Field blog, a site dedicated to all things about Canadian football!

Second career comes up Snake eyes for Christy Clark?

The usual tradition in the BC talkshow wars over the years, has been one that provincial politicians end up on the yapping side of the microphone when their time in the Leg came to an end. The two best examples of which are Rafe Mair, who parlayed a time spent with Bill Bennett into a lengthy hotline career, likewise Dave Barrett moved on to a talk show for a brief time once the voters of BC decided his political days were at an end.

So the easy money would have said that Christy Clark who has been on a test drive of the CKNW mid day show the last two weeks or so would be the next to make the jump.

Clark has been filling in for Jennifer Mather who at this moment is most likely looking at homes near the Arrowhead Duck Pond in Anaheim with her hubby Brian Burke. Burke the former Vancouver Canuck GM was named GM of the Mighty Ducks this week, bringing an end to Jennifer's time on the airwaves of CKNW.

When Clark took the mic last week, many Vancouver media observers just assumed it would be a seamless move from politics to voice on the radio. But out of the flatlands comes a voice to chase those dreams of Christy away.

It seems that Charles Adler's show out of CJOB Winnipeg is going to be added to the daily lineup of programming on CKNW, effectively pushing Ms. Clark to the outside looking in.

It will be interesting to see how the particularly loyal CKNW audience takes to an out of province voice in the middle of their day. How they'll survive without a three hour window of bashing the premier or the opposition, railing against an inane city council or blasting the authorities for speed traps and traffic stops will be an interesting study.

CKNW had previously avoided the trap of other radio stations of accepting programming from out of market, instead sticking to the maxim that local is better and thus would be rewarded at ratings time. For the most part the theory has been correct. It's quite telling that they seem to have had a change in corporate philospophy.

In the Lower Mainland it's very much all about them, there's not much of interest to them once you hit the Port Mann Bridge. Christy may want to stay close to a phone and be prepared to jack up her return price!

The Honourable member for recusal

The Globe and Mail has an interesting story in today's paper about newly minted Liberal Cab Min Belinda Stronach. The Diva of Human Resources has attended four cabinet meetings since her arrival at the table of power and as Jane Taber, Steven Chase and Greg Keenan point out Ms. Stronach has had to excuse herself from the meetings a number of times.

Seems that the Government has a lot of conversations on industry in our country and Ms. Stronach must tread carefully on such matters, due to her connections to the Magna empire. Interestingly enough Madam Minister is not alone in having to take a hike from time to time. Even the Prime Minister himself has had to step outside during cabinet meetings, as matters closer to his heart/family trust come up for discussion.

Affairs of state now resemble a game of musical chairs as our political masters jump up and down as the music plays on. Kind of appropriate for a place that takes on more of a carnival air more and more these days. Suggested music: Pop goes the Weasel?

Get these people a map!

Well sadly this does not surprise me, but once again our American friends have shown a rather poor ability at reading a map.

Earlier this month it was CNN breaking into regular programming to advise one and all that a Virgin Air plane was being directed by Canadian fighter jets to land at an airport in New Brunswick, Ontario. A neat bit of flying that would take one assumes.

Today from a Bakersfield, California TV station comes this story regarding the Canadian portion of the Live 8 concerts. The folks in Bakersfield give Canadians a new capital city, check out the last line of the story. By following this directional information we would be trooping towards Pembroke for the big show.

For Ambassador Frank McKenna the task is simple, get every news service there a Canadian Atlas, or at least a road map.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Don't want him, You can have him, He's no good for me!

The saga of Gurmant Grewal continues on it's bizarre little path as the BC MP for Surrey-North Delta finds himself unwanted by his supposed suitors and under suspicion by his current hosts.

On Monday's Bill Good program on CKNW (listen here by clicking on Monday at 8:30 am) the Prime Minister put the final nail in any ambitions Grewal and his wife Nina may have to ever be a Liberal. PM the PM said that while the Grewal's are free to apply for membership in the Liberal Party of Canada, the chances of him signing their nomination papers would be slim and none. Martin of course got caught up in the Grewal's taped negotiations for a spot at the Liberal trough should they forsake their Conservative brothers and sisters during the great budget debates of early June.

Gurmant and Nina, Team Grewal if you will, apparently at the time were either lobbying for or solicited to jump ranks in return for a Senate seat, ambassadorship or some other bounty of largesse from a grateful Liberal party.

As things deteriorated and Ujjal Dosanjh and Gurmant accused each other of unethical behavior a tape or two appeared on the political scene. The Grewal tapes showed politics at its lowest point the sheer bargaining of a vote for possible gain. Not quite what Canadians would like to think happens in Ottawa, but sadly probably is the norm of late.

Caught up in the mess was Stephen Harper who like a political Tammy Wynette stood by his man, despite the fact that many in the Conservatives suggested cutting the Grewal's loose might be a better option. With visions of still taking down the Liberal mammoth, Harper the hunter said he was sticking with Gurmant. While all this was going on Gerwal was caught up in a Transport Canada investigation into improper behaviour at the Vancouver airport, a situation that sent Grewal onto stress leave as that mess broke out, leaving Harper to explain the conflicting tapes provided. Eventually cleared by Transport Canada, Grewal has remained in absentia as the storm winds whip around his current leader.

Gurmant has had a rather colourful tenure in politics since he launched on the national sceme, with a curious CV that includes time as an advisor to a dictator and a loopy plan of taking money as a bond from constituents to facilitate immigration to canda, controversy and Gurmant have not been strangers.

All in all the Grewal saga has once again given our political class a rather black eye and makes Canadians wonder just what it is we're paying these people for. For Gurmant and the missus though, one wonders where they'll land come the inevitable election. Unwanted by Liberals and increasingly under a cloud with the Tories their fifteen minutes of fame may soon be at an end.

Questioning the Michelin Man's manhood

The folks at Michelin Tires are in some serious damage control this week after Sunday's farcial F1 race in Indianapolis. With 14 of the 20 cars scheduled to race pulling out due to concerns over the safety aspects of their Michelin tires the folks at Michelin are receiving more than their fair share of flak.

The mess in Indianapolis has everyone talking F1 but not in glowing terms from racing fans to bookmakers F1 became a dirty word on Sunday.

F1 which calls itself the dominant autoracing circuit in the world has been trying to make inroads in race mad America for years. However, the folks in the US prefer their racing to be of the Nascar variety with the occasional foray into the Indyracing and Champ car circuits, F1 is considered to be that European thing and generally doesn't gain much attention below the 49th.

Sunday's joke of a race didn't do much to improve that image. With race time drawing near all the cars took to the track for their customary warm up lap, however the backroom deal brokering and political chicanery set the stage for a dramatic pull off just prior to race time. With no compromise reached off the course, the scene was set for a black eye for the F1 way of racing.

As the cars lined up for the start, one by one the Michelin equipped pulled into pit row and parked their cars, leaving only six cars on the grid all featuring Bridgestone tires left to race. Needless to say the crowd at Indy were less than impressed and let the organizers know of their displeasure.

Michelin having watched two cars spin out of control on one section of the track in practice runs, decided that the set up was not safe and caused undue and unexplained pressure on their tires. Their recommendation was to change the course or park the cars. The organizers noted that the Bridgestone cars had not had a problem and thus the course would not be changed. With that the Michelin tires were put back on the tire rack, the cars packed up into their trailers and a farce of a race was left to run with only six cars.

The F1 organizers have summoned the Michelin teams to a meeting to explain their decision and assess the damage done to the F1 brand. With lawsuits about to be launched and suggestions that the F1 program just skip America from now on there will be a lot to talk about.

All day Monday the jokes poured in about car tires incapable of doing the job, the virility of a deflated Michelin Man, a Michelin man running away with his tires and other less than flattering portraits of the pride of France. Americans already suspicious of the French anyways will no doubt put this down as another mark against a former dependable allie.

More importantly for Michelin, sales projections for America are probably going to be rather flat over the next little while. While your average automobile driver isn't making turns at F1 speeds and being safety conscious as Michelin was is not a bad thing, bad press is bad press and Michelin just received a bumper crop of bad press.

Goons On Ice (the backlash)

With Prince George, BC now the centre of the Goons of the Ice universe, many locations are saying better them than us. The backlash against the Hockey punch up show is growing and one wonders how long Prince George will be willing to allow it's CN Centre to host this less than wanted event.

With a chance to put the city on the Hockey map, Prince George at the moment says they still plan to allow the August 27th Slugfest to proceed, but if the reviews from afar are any indication the publicity they get for their efforts may be anything but what the local Chamber of Commerce and Tourism people may wish for.

From neighboring Kamloops about four hours down Highway 97 comes the suggestion that such a show would never wash in hockey savvy Kamloops. Where city managers say the show would have a problem drawing a crowd even if the city allowed a possibly illegal event to take place.

Ouch, if anything should sway the folks of Prince George away from the Goon show it will the suggestion that by accepting the brawlers as their own, city residents will be lesser than their provincial rivals.

The true barometer of a backlash however, as always, will be the sale of tickets to this inauspicious event, with prices ranging from 29-200 dollars the Prince George sportsfan (and ghouls of the Cariboo) will be the ones casting their votes. Poor sales will mean no show. And no show will make the summer a restful one for the hockey purists and nervous civic officials.

The above posting first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about Hockey check things out.

Monday, June 20, 2005

How to address your local resident of Nunavut

If you live in Winnipeg you're a Winnipegger.
Call Ottawa home you're an Ottawan.
Toronto folks call themselves Torontonians (or centeroftheuniversians)
Prowl the streets of Montreal and you're a Montrealer.
Wander the byways of Halifax and you'll be a Haligonian.
From UBC to the Burnaby border you're a Vancouverite.
And of course Podunk is home of many a podunkian.

So what the heck do you call someone up past the tree line in Nunavut?

The CBC provides us with the answer in this story on high energy prices in the capital city of Canada's newest Territory.

Breakfast of Ex-Tyrants

Not sure how the folks at Kellog's feel about the endorsement, but for all our would be tyrants around the world apparently a proper breakfast of Raisin Bran Crunch is the way to start your day. In a wide ranging examination of Saddam Hussein in captivity, GQ magazine has gone behind the bars interviewing five of the US guards who stood watch over the former Butcher of Baghdad.

The article will apparently provide a different side of the Saddam we have known over the years. Turns out he's a relatively sedate kind of guy when on the other side of the prison bars, quiet, polite and a tad of a clean freak. He has a soft spot for Dan Rather and the era of Ronald Reagan, but understandably isn't quite as fond of the Bush family. And if you want to get on his bad side bring him a bowl of Froot Loops, seems he detests that particular brand of breakfast option.

He offered his jailers marital advice and says he looks upon them as sons. Advising them to return to Iraq when he is returned to power so he can show them around the place outside those prison walls.

Saddam apparently still believes he is the rightful leader of Iraq and is sure that one day he will return to the job he once held. And he's still bitter at the "Judas" who betrayed him, a fellow who had best hope that Saddam does not actually fulfill his own prophecy of return.

He of course at the moment is tied up with judicial proceedings over his misdeeds in years previous. Still waiting trial he continues to spend time in his cell answering the occasional question of his US captors. One suspects if they want to get the real story out of him they should order in the Fruit Loops, the way to break this guy may be through his breakfast menu.

Lisa DePaulo's GQ Story of Saddam makes it to the newsstand in July.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

For all those who have sired, a wish for an enjoyable day of rest.

As we Dads are more than aware,Father's Day doesn't get the same PR that Mother's Day does, and that's quite fine thanks. Spare your Carlton card moments for a cot and some rest. Give us the remote and a beer of your best.

As explained in this entry from MSNBC a good nap is all we ask for, so for all those in a semi conscious state today a Happy Father's Day, now roll over and catch a few more zzzzzzz's.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Downloading Lizzie

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has gone digital. The next time you see her on one of those tedious Royal walkabouts, Her Majesty may be working the crowd to the beat of a new generation.

Prince Andrew who apparently introduced the monarch into the world of the mobile phone in 2001 is the one behind the move to get the Queen groovin' to an Ipod. The Queen who it seems is a great fan of music, selected an Ipod with capacity to hold over 10,000 downloaded songs.

One wonders if the Queen will be staying up late into the night downloading her favourite subjects efforts or if she'll delegate that job to an "official downloader". Regardless it's quite the coup for Ipod, perhaps they can get one of those Royal Warrants of approval for their product.

In the meantime, we assume that the bytes are loading fast as the Queen selects her favourites. Feel free to help the old gal out with a few selections in our comment section!

Friday, June 17, 2005

The leaner, not so meaner, cabinet of Gordon Campbell

The BC Liberal government introduced the new A team yesterday, as Gordon Campbell readjusted the deck chairs on his ship of provincial fates. Reducing our ruling class to 23 ministers Campbell surprised many a pundit by rewarding newcomer Carole Taylor with the coveted Finance Minister portfolio.

Taylor recruited as one of Campbell's star candidates has zoomed to the top of the BC political galaxy with her position as the province's main bean counter. She granted her first extensive interview to former BC Liberal turned CKNW talk show host (where all good politicos seem to go) Christy Clark on Friday, click on the audio vault and listen in from 12:30-1:30 for a sample.

To make way for the new belle of the ball, Colin Hanson was moved sideways to Economic Development with a particular focus on all things trading Asian. While many portray his shift as a demotion, it's not being spun that way by Campbell nor Hanson, both of whom point out that trade with Asia is on the cusp of being the dominant factor in Canada's economy.

Another "star" candidate got the job many expected him to get, former BC Supreme Court Justice Wally Oppal is the new Attorney General of BC, a move that was rumoured to be in the bag even before the writ had been dropped.

Former Solicitor General Rich Coleman will have to turn in his Sam Houston belt for a log scalers rig as he takes over the Forestry portfolio. A department that is going to be under the gun right from the start, the Pine Beetle disaster and the continuing Softwood Lumber dispute with the Americans are two high profile headaches for the new minister. Many were surprised by his move, as he had become one of the higher profile Liberals as he became the point man for all things Law and Order. In fact his profile had become such that many pundits were suggesting he was preparing his platform for a bid for the top job should Campbell stumble. It's expected his TV time will be reduced as he heads for the backwoods, making a deep cover leadership campaign a little harder to organize.

Campbell was faced with a few problems this time around as his massive majority of four years ago was reduced by some thirty seats. Many of which were in the "heartland" of the province, making regional representation a bit more trickier to work on this time around. As well a number of his recruits from the ethnic mosaic of BC failed to win seats, putting a bit of a wrench into an all inclusive form of cabinet making.

The 23 will take the summer (and into the fall as the Leg doesn't resume sitting until October) to learn their portfolios and develop some kind of a plan of attack for the session to come. Something new for all of them may be accountability, with a much larger NDP caucus in the Legislature, having the right answers will no longer be something that is done on the fly, or not done at all. Instead, each minister will find that they have a shadow now, intent on pointing each and every flaw in each and every piece of legislation. A welcome return to participatory democracy for the folks of BC!

"I may have changed my mind, but never my principles"

The newly minted Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, decided to put her spin skills to work this week for the Globe and Mail. Perhaps cheered on by the complete collapse of support for her former Boss, Belinda Stronach felt it urgent to explain her new found thoughts and principles, personal traits which it seem have a more rewarding place in the bosom of the Liberal party of Canada.

Stronach penned her version of of the great escape, suggesting that fate and principles led her to the point of crossing the floor and taking up with Paul, Reg, Anne et al. She prefers the politics of hope and the quest for a better society. She stands by her principles (so much so that she mentions them five times in her advertorial for all things Liberal).

So take that Stephen Harper, while you play catch with Peter McKay on the lawn at Parliament Hill and make your plans for the great BBQ tour of 2005, your ole pal Belinda is busy reheating the coals to roast you again. This will be your Groundhog day, forever and a day destined to repeat the Great Escape. Belinda constantly reminding the world why she left, to search for a place where trust and integrity can find a home, restored to its former glory for all the public to see.

For Belinda political nirvana came with a call to cross the floor and move into Cabinet. More fate than principle one would suggest, but even more, it was more opportunism than fate!

Enough already!

I'm already tired of the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes saturation media coverage. Tom goes through his mid life crisis, Katie milks the publicity for all its worth and Scientology gets far more attention that it deserves. Really can't the media machine find something a tad more interesting to follow.

At any rate, Katie apparently has "converted" to Scientology, or as Tom so quaintly puts it "yeah she digs it". For those scoring at home this means that Pope Benedict is now down one soul to L. Ron Hubbard early on in his pontificate. However, this being Hollywood there's the eventual split yet to come and perhaps a chance to recapture young Ms Holmes before she gets audited!

As for Tom and Katie, for cryin' out loud elope already, leave us alone!

Whole lotta shaking goin' on

From our perch on the edge of the Pacific Ocean we watch with interest as the earth's crust begins to shake, rattle and occasionally roll to the North and South of Podunk's place on the big ball of life.

This has been an interesting week for tracking the shifting plates of the Ring of Fire as the temblors roll on from Chile to Alaska, with a couple of stops in and off of California for good measure.

So far our little corner of the geological plates seems to be quite solid (though the Haida Gwaii area has had a few little boomers in the last few weeks) but as each successive quake increases in magnitude and seems to creep north one wonders just what may be around the corner. Most recently we had a temporary tsunami watch in effect, just to put the emergency preparedness people to work for the evening.

Confusion reigned in the southern reaches of BC as the media scrambled for information, finding that some outlets received complete information while others had to contact American media operations for details. In true Canadian fashion, the finger pointing is quick to be directed in many directions.

At any rate, follow along with our fellow Podunkians as we plot our graphs and store the supplies. For those living on the flatlands of our fine continent, hang in there you may not be as far away from having beach access as you once thought. As George Strait once sang, "I've got some ocean front property in Arizona!"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hell prepares for four more recruits

Horrible news from Cambodia today where four hostage takers executed a three year old Canadian boy apparently because he was crying. These cowardly buckets of scum, held a class of 30 children captive for over six hours, before Cambodian police brought the situation to a swift and bloody end. During the confusion of the conclusion to the hostage taking, relatives of the hostages took matters into their own hands and meted out some punishment of their own. Now it's the government of Cambodia's turn.

One cannot fathom the cowardice required to shoot a three year old boy in the head, we trust they will shortly be united with Satan, in a place they truly belong.

Save some for the rest of us please!

As a faithful if rather spectacularly unsuccessful player of the government sanctioned numbers rackets, I kind of hope that Ms. Goeppert takes a break from the action.

Then again it is rather hard to get by on just a million these days!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hey Halifax! Moncton begs to differ.

With all the post mortems of last weekends Exhibition game at Halifax's Husky stadium apparently very positive, one would think that a tenth franchise for the CFL is not far away for Halifax.

But hold on a minute say the folks in New Brunswick, (to read more you have to pay, so get the gist and save your cash) as the group looking to bring a franchise to Moncton says they're on the ground running and running hard. And while Halifax may have won the first skirmish, could it be that Moncton will win the war.

Moncton is about to put in a bid to place a ten thousand seat stadium for the 2008 IAAF track and field championships, once up and established it won't be a stretch to expand that structure to the 25,000 seats required to make a go of a pro franchise. Add to the mix that Moncton while less populated, is actually more central to the entire Atlantic region and well dream the dream folks. Moncton by its location can bring more people to the game in a shorter traveling distance than Halifax can from it's far southern locale.

In addition to those basic points, the New Brunswick government seems more inclined to offer assistance to the fledgling group, which is always a positive moves in the eyes of the cost wary CFL.

While the competing groups make their noise and set up their ducks, the prospect of one city or the other landing the franchise has Atlantic Football fans talking, talking and talking.

So while Halifax put on a terrific show and has been patiently waiting for the CFL to arrive for over fifteen years, there is still a lot of work to be done. The stadium issue is the Achilles heel in any bid, indeed this is one situation where if they build the CFL will come, all that remains to be seen is if they keep on traveling down the road to the port city, or hang the CFL shingle in the middle of New Brunswick.

The above post first appeared in my Twelve Men on the Field blog, a blog dedicated to Canadian football news, check it out for more on the three down game.

Pay us once, then pay us twice!

As seen on the National Post website Wednesday, June 15, 2005 :

Due to production problems, the National Post was not delivered in the following communities and surrounding areas: Rawdon, St. Lin, Lachenaie, Joliette, Mascouche & surrounding areas. Subscribers will receive today's edition with tomorrow's delivery.

Can't wait? Purchase single copies of the National Post Electronic Edition here

Uh, hi there Asperfolk, not that I'm an expert on marketing or anything, but wouldn't it be a wise business that offered those shortchanged the option of picking up today's "electronic edition" for FREE!

Radical thinking I know, and yet another reason why I'm not employed in the newspaper business I guess.

Can the Maytag repairman learn Chinese?

The idea of Chinese firms showing interest in business propositions here in Canada is not a particularly new thing, the last little while the business section of many a Canadian newspaper has been filled with stories of possible Chinese acquisitions. Even poor little Podunk's moribund pulp and paper mill has attracted the interested of the People's Liberation Investment Bankers, much to the joy of the locals, though the sale of Chinese-English Dictionaries is not at rush levels yet!

Indeed while we had our heads turned to matters Gomery, Harper and Martin the Chinese have been busy putting together a wish list of Canadian resource sector companies for investment. Not a bad thing in this era of freer trade and globalization, but surely someone must start to notice that perhaps we're trading one group of owners (American) for another (Chinese), yet still won't own our own products nor have a head office to call our own. None the less, it is a fact of life that at this point in time, investment makes the world go round now and whether it's dollar or yuan I guess we're open for business. Though you have to wonder how long the US will feel "comfortable" with the level of Chinese interest in the Canadian oil patch!

But if things are interesting with Chinese designs on the Great White North, lets see them digest this down Washington, DC way. It seems that China is taking an interest in that American icon Maytag. Long one of those brands associated with Flag, motherhood and apple pie the Maytag repairman may soon have to head for a Berlitz course.

While Canadians are not quite as concerned as Americans over the increasing clout of China, the nervousness over the looming presence of the over Billion person empire has begun to increase in the US. As China builds it's future linked to an American dollar, while sending over pretty well most of the goods Americans like to buy. But to actually take over an American legend complete with Fridges, vacuums, dryers and washers will certainly speed up calls for protectionism and add to an already edgy America.

Many see a showdown in the next ten years between the US and China over trade, as the heavily indebted America tackles the flexing muscles of the emerging China. It would be interesting to see if the Maytag Repairman is the Paul Revere of a new revolution.

Half the taste but the same calories?

Well I know I drink too much of the regular Pepsi, known it for many a year (as my ever increasing waist size shall show). Yet I refrained from jumping on the "diet Pepsi" bandwagon. Despite the tsk, tsk's of the apostles of aspartame. I still prefer the full flavour as they say.

So I find it interesting to note a study that shows regardless of whether you indulge in the regular pop or the diet pop you are going to gain weight. So be still ye devotees of the diet pop, for I'll take my taste ( 10 teaspoons of sugar and all) and match you pound for pound I guess.

Then again perhaps a daily regimen of water over pop would be a wiser choice!

A pint or two, or three, or four.............

While browsing through the wares of the Slugger O'Toole blogsite I discovered this little snippet of information. Seems there's a fellow out there in Bloggerland who has decided to take on a variation of the Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me experiment.

Spurlock of course was the guy who lived on Ronny Mac's offerings exclusively for a month, rendering him a threat to himself and no doubt sending his physician into therapy over his inability to get through to his patient.

At any rate Burty has decided to live on a diet exclusively made up of that brownish milk of goodness known as Guinness. For one week he apparently was to indulge in nothing but Guinness, a diet consisting of 4 to 10 pints a day, a glass of milk and a vitamin C pill. He began on May 29th and wrapped up his experiment on June 5th and began updating the excitement of his quest on his blog site.

His comments now examine the reaction of the plan and the return of a regular diet (one assumes Guinness is still part of the daily regimen though in lesser quantities, then again....)

At any rate, not sure if this is a lark or not, but it makes for an interesting read. Not sure that the blogosphere was created for such activities, but hey it's probably as interesting as some of the malarky I throw up on the net from time to time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Now that's an idea!

With his legal troubles apparently now behind him for the time being, Michael Jackson has offered up some wisdom to the masses. Through his lawyer Jackson has stated that "he shall no longer share his bed with young boys". An idea which surely must seem rather obvious considering the last four months of lurid headlines, histrionics and judicial haggling. Even someone as detached from reality as Mr. Jackson seems to be, would surely realize that his past activities with young children have been rather inappropriate and but for a jury verdict would be considered criminal.

One would assume that someone in Jackson's entourage will take charge of the strange lad's ways and try to keep him on the relative straight and narrow and away from billable hours.

With the media machine following the requisite car caravan through the streets of suburban Los Angeles Mr. Jackson returned to his sanctuary known as Neverland, followed by a throng of hangers on eager to share the spotlight and sip at the fountain of excess. Part of our culture now following these celebrity court cases is a lengthy car chase with helicopters in the air and reporters on the road. Waiting for what exactly? A car crash? Speeding tickets? A flat tire? Interestingly enough there never seem to be traffic jams when these things take place, and in Los Angeles of all places, a land that I thought was in perpetual gridlock, go figure.

With the trial concluded and District Attorney Sneddon's career left in a heap on the courtroom floor, Jackson will be free to make future plans. Word has it that he would like to leave the country, with a move possibly to Europe (revenge on the French perhaps?), Saudi Arabia (yeah that would work for him) or Africa where he would apparently develop a theme park/sanctuary for kids (man doesn't this guy ever learn!) there. I'm Not sure what the people of Africa did to deserve such a honour, they have more than enough problems there as it is, without adding the nuttiness factor of a Jackson relocation and it's assorted circus like atmosphere.

It will be interesting to see how many of the sycophants that have attached themselves to the Jackson industry will make the pilgrimage to the far reaches of Africa. No doubt the Lions and tigers await their arrival with anticipation. But if it gets them all off of our tv's and out of our newspapers so be it.

As they say Out of sight, out of mind. In this case perhaps not a bad option.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Securing the Nation's soul through its stomach

The interlopers from North Carolina have been sent back with their tails between their legs, Krispy Kreme donuts apparently can't make a buck in Canada.

The US based donut maker which had recently expanded to Canada has found that after an initial wave of donut euphoria, Canadians stayed with the tried and true.

With a petition for bankruptcy protection Krispy kreme will have to retrench and rethink it's battle plan for domination of the donut world above the 49th.

We would hail this as a great victory for Canadianna except that our very own Tims is now part of the Wendy's empire of Ohio. Though I believe (and stand to be corrected) it's very much an even split as far as corporate decision making goes, with Tims and Wendy's considering the Canadian outlets as their bellwether operations.

We salute our coffee serving soldiers at Tims and offer them up a double double and a Chocolate dipped donut in their domination of the donut wars from Newfoundland to British Columbia, Windsor to Iqaliut!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Tag you’re it! And thus my lethargic blogging ways shall come to an end. My friend Sean at seanincognito has decided that I should get back to my blogging by tapping me for a compilation of my books and reading faves. It’s a daunting task for someone who seems to have hit the wall of late in finishing books. I get started quite nicely thank you very much, but then about half way through something happens to my zeal for the final page, I begin to nod off whilst reading (no offence to any author purely my bad not yours). It seems that there is rarely enough time in my day anymore to just sit and read for the pure enjoyment of the read, this despite the fact that at the moment I’m not what the government would call gainfully employed.

But there it is, once the Daily newspapers are taken care of (as well as the odd general interest magazine) my reading gene seems to click off, leaving pile upon pile of books to look at, like pieces in a museum never to be touched. Though of late there has been a slight renaissance in my reading traits so there may be hope for the printed word yet.

So with the risk of not finishing my lists here I shall get to work on all things literate.

Number of Books I own

Hundreds, in all shapes and sizes, fiction and non fiction, hard cover works of literature to coffee table doorstops, commercial paper backs to hockey statistic books. Brand new efforts and those wonderful gems you find at a Coles clearance table. They sit on shelf after shelf of the basement occasionally glanced at by visitors, occasionally even the spine gets cracked open and someone reads a chapter or two. Every once and a while I decide to clear cut some space in my library and make a donation to our public library. My altruistic urges tempered by the knowledge that they shortly end up in the libraries 50 cent clearance bins, but hey somebody might actually pick one up and discover something of interest.

Last Book I bought

A recent trip to Prince George sent me into the Coles and some reduced in price works, Bob Woodward’s Bush At War, Lawrence Martin’s Iron Man Vol 2 and Tom Clancy’s Teeth of the Tiger all found their way into a book bag as did Geoffrey Hindley’s The Crusades. Not exactly sure what those four tell about my reading habits other than the fact that I love a good bargain. When you can pick up a hard cover book for 4.99 well I guess that explains why I have hundreds of books and how the local library finds its sale bins replenished every four months or so.

The Last Book I read

I’m going to cheat just a little, as I’m in the finishing stages of the Great Unraveling by Paul Krugman (If I wait long enough to post this I most likely will be finished it). I’m not of the Bash George Bush cult that seems to be in vogue these days, not that I would have voted for the guy (I wouldn’t) but I sometimes find the anti Bush rhetoric a bit over the top and unsubstantiated. But Krugman sure puts the fear of God into the reader with his synopsis of the Bush years thus far and the less than sure footed economic plans that his administration work under. Half way through the thing I was wishing that I actually had some money to stuff under my mattress should all of the Bush economic plans come crashing to earth. For a book on economics it’s been a fascinating if frightful read.

Five books that mean a lot to me

Five! Yikes how the heck can you do that? Well I’ll give it a try but there are so many that I have read and enjoyed that singling out five seems somehow rather silly and I may take a mulligan on the idea of limiting my comments to only five.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm, long before I even could grasp politics and the machinations of those that govern us I found Orwell’s examination of life on the farm as a fascinating study. From all noble intentions pure rot can seem to grow I guess. Or as the animals learned as time went by, some animals are more equal than others. Something we all need to be reminded of from time to time, sadly I like most Canadians seem to be on the side of the animals that aren’t as equal.

My Friend Sean touched on the many epics of Pierre Berton so I shan’t list any of them here, suffice to say that I found some fascination in Canadian history through the pages of Berton, from Flames Across the Border (1-0 against the USA for those keeping score) to Vimy (a nation forged in blood on French soil) to the Railway tomes Berton found a way to bring Canada alive. Also for Sean, knowing his love of the railway books he should pick up a copy of Lords of the Line by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths a great read on the CPR.

In my library is a long list of Political books from all points of the Canadian agenda, David Lewis’s The Good Fight is a must read for anyone wondering where the NDP once came from as is the Tommy Douglas’ memoir Road to Jerusalem. The Tories are explored through the Diefenbaker years by Peter Stursberg and of course no Tory library would be complete without the Mulroney tomes including Stevie Cameron’s On the Take. Preston Manning’s brief time in the spot light received a few book offers with The New Canada and Storming Babylon and for those that constantly grasp the worry beads over the state of Quebec in confederation there are books on Lucien Bouchard by Lawrence Martin and an excellent examination of the passion of Rene Levesque by Peter Desbarats, not to mention an excellent memoir by Levesque himself. But considering the longevity of the Liberal Party of Canada a political library would have to feature Juggernaut by Susan Delacourt which details the backroom dealings and animosities of the Chretien/Martin era, but for those looking for a feel good expose of all things Grit I recommend Christina McCall Newman’s’ thorough effort called GRITS, what the Libs once stood for before arrogance seemed to overtake their raison d’etre.

I have a great respect for current Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor, who has put together a vast library of his own with a number of works over the years. From kids books to insightful examinations of our National game MacGregor can weave a story nicely. In fact for those looking for a father’s day present I highly recommend THE HOME TEAM, Fathers Sons and Hockey, anyone who has ever had their Dad take them to an early morning hockey practice will get a lump in the throat by the time you hit page 325.

Being of Irish extraction I find stories of the ancestral homeland to be quite riveting, over the years I’ve devoured a wide selection of Irish historicals, from the Story of the Irish Race to the Great Shame I’ve learned quite a bit about my roots. The growth industry of IRA books keeps the shelves full from the Informer to the Secret History of the IRA there seems to be no shortage of those willing to share a tale. But for an overall view of the place, Robert Kee’s The Green Flag trilogies however seems to be a great primer for those wishing to understand the Island and its ancient grievances.

For pure escapism though I turn to Tom Clancy from his early days with the Hunt for Red October up to the current events thrillers he churns out regularly I find the story telling to be rewarding. A little over the top and jingoistic at times, but when you suspend your belief for a bit you can actually climb into the sub, the ship, the plane or the back streets of the world and share the adventure. THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER is still my favourite of all his works though, perhaps because of my time in the Canadian Navy or maybe because Sean Connery brought it to life so well in the film. Regardless I find it is one book I can go back to over and over again and still find myself gripped by its drama.

So with a little bit of creative accounting there are the five books I shall list. I can think of dozens more that I find entertaining and informative from All the Presidents Men to the Exorcist, Death of A President to The Godfather there has been much I have read over the years. Perhaps I’ll expand on the theme in my blog over time, offering my take on some of the works that have brought me pleasure over time.

For now though I’ll tag some other folks, I’m going to approach this a bit differently I’m tagging folks who have provided me with some interesting blog reading over the last year. I don’t necessarily know any of these people and they may or may not be inclined to put their thoughts down for us. But I think they might have some fascinating options for us, so I tag the following.

The Jaded New Englander
1169 and counting
Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic
Slugger O’Toole
Different Thinking by David Johnson

Hopefully none have already been tagged, cause I’m running out of names here... My thanks to sean for restoring the creative juices this week!