Monday, October 5, 2009

Going to See the Late Show With David Letterman Part 4

Stop right now chico if you havent read Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3.

The world was a simpler place for David Letterman on May 14, 2009 or at least it seemed so to me from the front row of the Ed Sullivan Theatre. Letterman was still in second place as Jay Leno had a couple of weeks left on the Tonight Show. Sarah Palin was the Governor of Alaska and had not yet gone to Yankee Stadium with her daughter. Most importantly Letterman was months away from becoming tabloid news as the centre of the worst blackmail plot in history.

On a cold, rainy Thursday in May of 2009 Letterman was in the midst of sweeps week and welcomed Kid Scientists, Teri Hatcher and rapper Rick Ross to the Ed Sullivan Theatre stage. Prior to creepy intern sex, Dave was known for the gap in his teeth, the curly hair and a cold studio. I had prepared by properly layering myself for a ski trip and was disappointed when it wasn’t that cold.

If you were watching at home there was nothing particularly memorable about that show. The monologue featured a number of Dick Cheney jokes. As “The Da Vinci Code” was coming to theatres the show featured a pre taped bit with Tom Hanks and a Top ten presented by Ron Howard. Dave had fun with the Kid Scientists and seemed bored with Teri Hatcher. The song “Yacht Club” performed by Rick Ross thankfully never became a hit.

There are a number of memories and observations that have stayed with me as an audience member that night that include:

1. The stage was exactly the way it seems on TV, only smaller and foggier
2. How much the crew enjoyed watching Dave interact with the Kid Scientists
3. Hearing a crew member saying “Well I guess the show is over” after the kids left the stage. 4. There was still two segments with Teri Hatcher and a song by Rick Ross to go
4. How right the crew member was!
5. How thin Teri Hatcher was.
6. She might be ridiculously thin but she was a looker in a little black dress. Her segments though were incredibly boring. Something about the Desperate Housewives finale
7. Commercial breaks were not a uniform length. While it took 5 minutes to set up the orchestra for Rick Ross, Teri and Dave had to uncomfortably talk through about 30 seconds
8. The band plays through every commercial
9. While leaving I tried to take a prohibited picture and got a couple of blurry pictures as a result. The interns were watching us like hawks

After leaving we visited the neighbouring CBS Boutique and purchased a classic grey Late Show T-Shirt and blue Late Show mug. The mug at $8 and shirt at $18 were actually reasonably priced for a tourist trap.

After being a fan for most of my life it was a real treat to spend 3 hours of my trip to see the show. Ironically even after the applications and the trivia questions there was still extra tickets available. It is worth the trip if you are in New York with some free time and he doesn’t get fired.

Food! The True Story of an Edible Murderer

There was a time in the not too distant past when people didn’t give a damn about what they ate. Well they wanted a good tasty meal but they didn’t care if it was organically grown, or pesticide free. Actually they sought out foods that were chemically enhanced. It was a time when Tang was the drink of the future and not the last name of your dentist. As a person with a strong gut I’m usually not worried about what I eat. Heck the three second rule depends on the floor and the food that fell.

There has been a recent spate of books written about the evils of food. After having bought “Fast Food Nation” my Amazon recommendations were filled with titles such as "Bitter Chocolate", "Citrus" and "Banana" amongst countless others. They have become as formulaic as a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey or Jennifer Aniston. Just like a wise cracking fat friend or a rainy kiss you can count on the following plot points in any “Food is Bad!” book.

1. What the crop was used for before the colonial powers took over the land
2. How the colonial power raped the crop and the native people
3. The Evil American company that replaced the colonial power and continues to destroy the land and underpay the natives
4. How the evil American company has found chemical additives to replace or enhance the original crop
5. How the chemical additive gives you cancer
6. The terrible conditions in the factories that produce the food
7. The lackadaisical government response to the evil corporations
8. An uplifting story of a small business which is doing things the right way. Keywords include fair trade, organic, locally grown and Vermont

After awhile it becomes a haze if it was Archer Daniels Midland that underpays cocoa growers in the Congo or slaughterhouse workers in Illinois.

Then I read a story about a girl who ate a burger and ended up paralyzed. Apparently the all beef Angus Burger made by Cargill included pieces from 3 or 4 sources. If the slack jawed employees in Omaha or Uruguay who may be high on meth aren’t careful feces will end up on the beef and you won’t be able to walk. Ironically the ingredients on the container read simply “beef” and do not include the words “slaughterhouse trimmings”, “fatty trimmings treated with ammonia”, or “E. coli”. It’s not only frozen burgers that come from a variety of sources but much of the ground beef purchased in your local supermarket.

This followed on the story I heard about the freshness of orange juice. As detailed in the book “Juiced”, your carton of Tropicana is about as fresh as using a romantic comedy plotline to ridicule an overused cliché. Tropicana has an iconic logo of an orange being skewered by a straw. This would make you believe that the juice is freshly squeezed as would the words “Freshly Squeezed” on the carton. Unfortunately a more realistic image would have to include a straw skewering a vat of pasteurized orange liquid while a scientist adds a chemically enhanced flavour pack. This is not a process which is not a recent innovation but part of Tropicana since the fifties. Maybe I was naïve to think that a product with a 90 day shelf life was fresh. Well a price tag double that of Juice from concentrate and a logo with ingredients that simply say “Orange Juice” aren’t exactly a giveaway to a product that is really as natural as Orange Crush. Guess I’ll have to get my fingers dirty and peel my own damn oranges.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Canadian Icon: Toronto Maple Leafs

Image courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs

In honour of the opening of a new hockey season we repost our article celebrating the greatness of the greatest team playing the greatest game.

A first in a series that takes a look at iconic people, places and things in Canadian History. Today we take a look at the most popular team in the most popular sport in the land....The Toronto Maple Leafs.

The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 with Toronto as a founding member. In 1927, the then St. Patricks were taken over by Conn Smythe. Smythe a hockey genius and hater of all things Irish, quickly changed the team name to the Maple Leafs. Out went the green sweaters and team mascot Lucky the Drunken Mick and in came the blue and white and glory. Smythe also had a poor grasp of grammer which is why the team wasn't named the Maple Leaves.

The NHL was a very different league before 1967. A highly competitive 6 team league where the 4 American teams were controlled by one family with close ties to the mob. 11 Stanley Cups were won in this period. Toronto's main rival for supremacy in the league was the hated Montreal Canadiens and in a 6 team league they played each other like 30 times a year. The Habs played with skill and were mostly French, 2 things that are hated in Toronto up to the present day. Each game was filled to capacity at the team owned Maple Leaf Gardens, a building built during the depression using labour at slave wages and lovely yellow brick.

Things would change in the late 60's. The NHL began to expand, a rival league was formed and the team was taken over by Smythe's idiot son Stafford and his skirt chasing buddy Harold Ballard. What didn't change was the continued success of the team at the turnstile, even with a host of mediocre players. As salaries rose the Leafs refused to get involved and players would leave in a revolving door of greatness. The names would fill the roster of any 2nd tier Hall of Fame Team. Keon, McDonald, Daoust, Leeman, Gill, Salming would all play for the blue and white then leave. The Leafs, led by Captain Darryl Sittler and his teammate Bill the Chimp would make a run in the 70's ending in the semifinals.

Heroically in the 1970's the team covered up a pedophile scandal so it wouldn't disturb the fervor of what would become Leaf Nation.

Ballard's death and the line of owners since him haven't changed the storied Maple Leaf way of doing things. Hockey fans in Toronto will line up and pay big bucks to fill the building and watch a mediocre product struggle through each successive season. As teams in hockey hotbeds like Anaheim, Tampa, Dallas & Carolina have lifted the storied cup named after a British Lord who never watched a game of hockey in his life, the Leafs refused to use their financial windfall to their advantage to unfairly succeed in the league.. This commitment continues, even though no one south of the Great Lakes gives a shit about the sport.

Recently the Leafs hired hockey genius Brian Burke to lead the team into the second decade of the millennium. Burke, an American who failed in Hartford, Vancouver and TV before taking over a championship team in Anaheim has spurred a new enthusiasm in Leaf Nation. Meanwhile the Leafs business team has been fighting and winning it's most challenging battle of all. The fight to keep a competing team out of neighbouring Hamilton. This successful battle has so far kept the monopoly which has managed to make the Leafs the most successful financial operation in the league while producing a terrible product.

What does the future hold for the Buds? Only time and the Teacher's Pension Fund will be able to tell. What we can be sure of is that the lemmings of Leaf Nation will continue to ensure sellouts at the Air Canada Centre.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Greek Idol : A Massachusetts Pizza Shop Owner

Today we learn that you never try and steal from a Greek. A would be robber near Boston found that out the hard way. When attempting to rob a pizza shop he was beat down with some moves that needed slo mo. I think this is what was called Pankration in Ancient Greece. Of course in Sparta they said "Molon Lave" (come and get it), while today it's "don't a try to get money from a Greek cause he dont a give you a penny".

It's good to see that the quality of the Fox News brand extends to local news in the States.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where does a Weave Come From?

Questions raised by this ad:

  1. Is it funny because it's offensive?
  2. It is funny because it's racist?
  3. Is it offensive because they are acting like a stereotype?
  4. Is it racist because it's really badly acted?
  5. Should Russians who were terrorized by the KGB be offended because a cell phone service has borrowed the name of the secret service
  6. Is yak really what they use in weave hair?

Friday, June 26, 2009

The End of Jack 92.5

The hits recently returned to 92.5 in Toronto. After a number of years as Jack, the station that no one asked for or listened to Kiss FM has returned to the city. Finally there is a place I can hear "Boom Boom Pow" once an hour, because Virgin, Chum, Flow, Z103 and Kiss in Buffalo only play it like every couple of hours. Phew way to fill a market niche Rogers.

There are a few people who are missing Jack. Like the kid above. The kid is ready to cry apparently unaware that "Wock Music" can be heard on about 15 stations in the city. This thing called the internet has a rock station. There's also a Jack FM in Buffalo and about 100 other cities if Jack is his only friend.

Years ago a kid like this would write in his diary or top a pen pal and hang out at the comic book store. He would only get mocked at school, now he gets mocked on the internet. Too bad I can't give him a virtual wedgie. If I was this kids parents I would get him a speech therapist and a job at Burger King. Heck maybe some steroids and Lasok. He needs to get out of his house.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How To Make Money In Buffalo Real Estate: Sell to the Canadian Government

A lot of people think that Buffalo is a shithole. The images most Canadians receive from television signals out of Western New York are of fires in Tonawonda, Bills losses, shyster lawyers and crime. It is the provider of jokes, cheap shopping, cheap flights, cheap NHL games and wings.

If you dig under the surface Buffalo has many hidden gems. In the early 20th century Buffalo was one of the richest cities in America and it still has many of the benefits. It has a park system by the designer of New York’s Central Park. There are homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and other great American architects. One of the best art galleries in the world is located in what many people think is the armpit of America. While businesses and people fled south there are many grand homes and boulevards left standing.

Well if you are selling real estate in Buffalo you are lucky that the Canadian Government shares my positive view of Buffalo. Along with the consulate offices in Downtown Buffalo, the Canadian Government, in the name of “Her Majesty the Queen In Right of Canada”, own 5 homes totaling $1.6 million US. At current exchange rates that’s about 1.8 million in canuck bucks.

The Consul General of Canada in Buffalo still needed a home befitting such a coveted role. The government has obliged with the purchase of a $1.39 million dollar home in Buffalo’s Mansion Row. This 5038 Square foot home at 196 Soldiers Place, with six bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms is located 6 minutes from the Peace Bridge and Canadian soil, where homes in Fort Erie range in price from $1 to $50000.

This is a great bargain considering that during the last time the home was sold was in 2004 during the housing bubble for $540,000. It is assessed by the city of Buffalo at $625,000. Incredibly the house has increased $850,000 in five years during the midst of a recession caused by the crash in the value of homes. Homes in the area range from $200000 to a million while homes in the rest of the city continue to get demolished to avoid becoming crack dens.

It must be a hard gig being Buffalo Consul General for Stephen Brereton. His colleagues in other parts of the world deal with refugees or Canadian tried by dictatorships. The concerns in Buffalo range from drunken Canadians at Bills games, Wing related food poisoning and giving directions to the Peace Bridge. He has been a godsend for the dormant Buffalo real estate market and the previous owner of the home who could not be reached for comment. He was too busy laughing all the way to the bank.
Image taken from the Buffalo News

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Does That Taste Test : President's Choice Greek Potato Chips

There was a nice surprise on my last shopping trip my local Loblaws. Unfortunately this wasn’t a slippery floor that I could have sued them for but there was a new addition to the snack aisle. President’s Choice has recently introduced a new line of flavoured ridged potato chips which included “Spicy Piri Piri”, “Blue Cheese and Buffalo Wing” and “General Tao’s Chicken” which all tasted like All Dressed.

The surprise was the new PC Greek Potato Chips. As a Greek and a lover of carbs I was eager to try this new flavour which promised “Feta, Olive and Oregano” flavour. Could this PC chip deliver the taste of a Greek Salad on a potato chip?

In Greece, both Lay’s and local brand Tsakiris produce Mediterranean flavoured chips. The best selling chip in Greece is the Oregano flavour, but they also produce flavours like “Lemon and Sea Salt”, “Tzatziki”, “Paprika” and “Feta”. The tzatziki flavour is horrible and the Paprika tastes like Bar –B-Q but oregano is a wonder plant…..or is it an herb? Could it be a flower? Whatever it is, it’s fantastic. It is used to flavour pizza, in Greek Salad, as a seasoning and to cure sore throats. In a pinch you can also fool pot smokers into believing it is weed. Was Canada finally lucky enough to have this wonder food?

There was immediate disappointment upon opening the bag as it smelled like the rest of the All Dressed flavours PC offers. The food chemical factories of New Jersey got the smell all wrong but different results came from the taste. The first crunch delivered some tanginess that resembles feta and a spice that was either oregano or pepper and nothing resembling an olive. There was a slight garlic taste which had co workers offering me gum.

The chip has found a home in my secret snack drawer and will be a welcome addition to Greek baptisms and while watching Nia Vardalos movies. Unlike Old Dutch Chips I did not feel like throwing up an hour after eating them. Unfortunately it will not replace the rush I get from opening up a bag of Lay’s Oregano when upon arriving in Greece. The oregano flavour is a simple flavour which PC should consider unleashing on Canadians.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Going to See the Late Show With David Letterman Part 3

Don't worry! Here's where you can find Part 1 and Part 2.

As you enter the Ed Sullivan Theatre, the home of David Letterman since 1993, you develop a sense of déjà vu. The French would call it a sense of having been there before. As much as the guests, the band or any of the comedy, the theatre has been the star of the show since Letterman went to CBS. They say the camera adds ten pounds, but it also seems to add ten yards to your perception. Everything I had seen on TV, like the desk and the stage was there but on a smaller scale then watching at home would have you believe. This was not the first time I had been to a television taping as I had seen lame Canadian Game Show “Just Like Mom” as a kid and lame Canadian Talk Show “Camilla Scott” as a teen.

Due to our place in line we were led to seats in the front row, right beside the announcer’s desk. While the audience relegated to the balcony was promised a clear view of the stage, being able to put our feet up on the stage was pretty sweet. The half hour before the taping chock full of entertainment value. It started when the interns gathered on stage and led us clapping through a couple of alt- rock songs. Our hands numb with sores we were introduced to the warm up comedian Eddie Brill. Brill, who also works as talent coordinator on the show, yet lacks any discernible talent. He led us through more clapping practice and then introduced a classic “Late Show” clip featuring Dave working at a Taco Bell After the clip he told a couple of jokes about how touristy Times Square had become, which were as stale as a Times Square Hot Dog Bun.

Brill led us through some more clapping instructions. We were supposed to clap heavily at the beginning of the show after the announcer said “It’s The Late Show with Dayyyyvid Letterman.” The CBS Orchestra was introduced individually and played two songs. Paul Schaffer was introduced for the second song, with some tepid applause from a heavily Canadian audience. We dutifully clapped through a couple of well played tunes while I wondered if there would be any clap left in me for the show?

David Letterman was introduced and came running to the stage as the digital clock reached 4:27. Whenever anyone sees a star they are always asked how they look in real life. Well with Letterman, who looks and acts younger then his 62 years of age there were no surprises. In his classic style he started by informing us that while many of his shows he has produced over the past 30 years have been classics, this would not be one of them. After a couple of jokes he was able to take one question from the audience. For what must have been the 500th time, the lucky audience member asked if he could switch ties with the host. Letterman made a joke about the mans tie, left the stage and the band started playing the theme song as the clock hit 4:30.

Will we find out how a blog post can be longer then the show that it is about? The thrilling conclusion awaits in Part 4!

Letterman Vs Palin & the Dumbing Down of America

So there was David Letterman on Monday June 15. After a week of controversy he looked defeated. A couple of bad monologue jokes about Sarah Palin and her kids had made him into the Right Wing Enemy of the Week. For one week the gap toothed tak show host had replaced the big eared President as the punching bag on Fox News.

A planned “Fire David Letterman” rally still took place even after the apology was accepted by Palin. If the video above is any indication the crowd consisted of 15 of the stupidest people in New York City. A motley crew of morons, Leno fans, right wing lunatics who were outnumbered by the media covering them. Without any sense of irony they criticized a badly timed joke by Letterman while calling his son “a bastard” and his wife “a whore”. Are those the family values the right wing always talk about?

Sarah Palin kept her name in the news while dutifully protecting her family from the evils of Hollywood. Ironically enough if she had said nothing no one would have remembered these jokes. They would have been lost in the sea of jokes that have been made about the Palins since she gained national prominence with the Vice Presidential nomination. To prolong her 15 minutes of fame she allowed her daughter Willow to become synonymous with the term statutory rape.

It was a sad sight to see Letterman have to apologize to someone like Palin. She reminds me of those annoying people who volunteered to be scorekeeper at their local softball leagues in the hopes of becoming a school trustee. Maybe they’d complain about a book or a teacher to get ahead. Along with the ex-Miss California USA, Palin is the start of a disturbing trend. It doesn’t matter how stupid you are, all you need is a pretty face and “Christian” values to become an icon.

Truthfully I was expecting Letterman to come out guns a blazing, but his apology was understandable. Maybe a younger Dave would have been feistier, but nearing the end of his career he had to surrender. No one would want their career to be ended being called a pervert due to an idiot wanting to use her family to get ahead.

Going to See the Late Show With David Letterman Part 2

Part 1 of this gripping tale can be found here
We arrived at the theatre at 2:15 and quickly realized that there was a line up around the theatre of “Gold List” ticket holders. While in line we were handed a questionnaire asking us if we had any talents worthy of being Stupid Human Tricks for a future broadcast. As the line was filled with many fellow Canadians in the city for a long weekend, there were plenty of stupid humans available. This also made it fairly easy to cut in line.

It took us 15 minutes to get to the front of the line where we encountered a beefy dude with a clipboard. With my name on the list and as I had the necessary Government Photo ID with the exact spelling of my name the doors to the theatre opened. It was the first of many times that we realized that the theatre in real life seems a lot smaller then it is on TV. It was also the first of many times that we encountered a super cheery Late Show Intern. Every Late Show employee involved in audience relations was happy in that “Tom Cruise brainwashed by Scientology” sort of way. While I can understand how excited anyone would be to work for a TV legend, it would have been more fitting for the employees to have been as sarcastic as the host. One intern gave us the tickets and another one put us through a quick applause practice before we were given 45 minutes to return to the theatre and explore the city. The entire process was easy and efficient.

The 45 minutes allowed us a quick walk down Broadway, a short stop in the small but modestly priced “CBS Store” and a tasty spinach slice at Famiglia Pizza . We returned to the theatre but not before stopping at my trivia question answer, the Hello Deli. My friend picked up an iced tea and gave his money to a sullen Rupert Gee. Apparently being a tourist attraction is not the secret to happiness.

The audience was grouped by the colour coding on their tickets. Apparently the enthusiasm we showed while picking up the tickets had enabled us to get a yellow sticker which gained us access to the two front rows. As we were tired after a 5 am departure from Toronto, my guest believed it was due to naming the obscure “Alan Kalter’s Celebrity Interviews” as our favourite segment. This would have separated us as true fans, rather then those who answered “The Top Ten”, Jaywalking or the tribal council. A later look around the audience also showed that the there was a definite demographic skew to seating as older fans were relegated to the balcony.

We were ushered into the Late Show lobby that would be our home for 45 minutes.The doors to the theatre would open while we waited, giving us a tantalizing glimpse of the world inside the theatre. Yet another chipper intern guided us through the process. As it was “Sweeps Weeks” we were promised a bigger bang for our buck. While the previous three days had seen visits by Robin Williams, Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks, we were given Teri Hatcher, Kid Scientists and musical guest Rick Ross and Magazeen. While lacking the star power of previous nights there was the added bonus of a top ten list presented by Ron Howard. Truthfully the guest could have been Zippy the Squirrel and I would have been happy to be there.

The intern noted that Dave fed off the energy of the audience and would cut good bits if the crowd was quiet. While this is undoubtedly bullshit it scared us enough to be led through a lengthy clapping session. There was also warnings about the type of noises that were verboten. These included no cheering for mentions of hometown, no ahhhhhhhs for sad stories and no spring break woooooooooossss. After another bout of extended clapping we were told there was no photography allowed inside the theatre. After a last minute washroom warning and a little more clapping, the doors to the theatre swung open at 4 PM.

Would we be escorted out of the theatre for not clapping enough? Wait for the gripping continuation in Part 3.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Could You Add Some Radiation To My Plain Bagel With Cream Cheese?

On a recent trip to Montreal I finally took a trip to Fairmount Bagel. It is one of the 2 bagel places that have put Montreal on the bagel map. On my return to Toronto I sought out the Montreal experience. I found it at The Bagel House which uses the Montreal technique to make bagels. The owner of the House worked in Montreal and stole (or borrowed) the Montreal way.

What is it about the Montreal Bagel that is so superior? Some would say its chewier then any other bagel. Many claim it is the wood oven or maybe it’s that the hole is bigger. I like it because people say it is better and I am a lemming. I can’t tell the difference when it is toasted and smothered in cream cheese but I’m a sucker for peer pressure. Well that and the bigger hole means using less cream cheese. Oh and buying a fresh bagel at 3 am makes me feel like I live in a real city.

Well the Montreal Bagel was the best thing on the marker until the release of Bagel-fuls. This is the ingenious new product from Kraft. Everyone loves bagels but no one likes preparing them. First you have to buy them at the store. Then you have to cut them in half and put them in the toaster. Think of all the trouble that can create. Arteries cut when slicing, confusion if your toaster might not have a bagel slot and burns when grabbing that hot bagel. Think of all that time waiting for that bagel to toast. It takes a minute for my toaster to warm it up. That’s a minute I could use to solve global warming or watch commercials. Finally there’s a dirty knife I have to clean after I put the cream cheese on the bagel.
When will all these bagel related injuries stop?
Bagel-fuls takes the fuss out of eating bagels. It’s a frozen twinkie looking type thing I take out of a wrapper and pop in the microwave. While it’s still a pain taking it out of the box and opening a wrapper, and I’m hit by deadly radiation from my microwave, in two minutes I have a toasty hot bread type thing with a gooey cream cheese center. It even comes in six flavours from original with cream cheese to blueberry! Why wait two minutes to toast and spread a bagel when you can microwave one in two minutes for twice the price. It makes perfect sense.

Going To See The Late Show With David Letterman Part 1

On a recent episode of the sitcom “30 Rock”, Gavin Volure the character played by guest star Steve Martin told Liz Lemon “Toronto is like New York, but without all the stuff”. There is stuff for every type of person in the Big Apple. Shopaholics can pretend they are the bitches from “Sex in the City”. Shopaholics on a budget can get fake shit on Canal St. Those who masturbate in public have the many acres of Central Park to play around in. Basketball nerds can visit Rucker Park and MSG, or find every sneaker ever made. Art lovers can get all pretentious in the Met and sarcastic assholes like myself can travel to the mecca of sarcasm. On Broadway between 53rd and 54th you can find the Ed Sullivan Theatre and sitting on the throne is The Grand Poobah of Snarkiness, Mr David Letterman.

As a child growing up in the eighties, with strict parents and a curfew, a VCR opened up a world of TV previously unavailable. Every night at 12:30 am my Panasonic VCR would motor into action and tape Late Night with David Letterman. As I got older, Letterman moved to 11:35, the VCR was replaced by youtube clips and the DVR recorded Stewart and Colbert. Still when a wedding invitation took me to New York recently, there was only one show I wanted to see. That was the Late Show with David Letterman.

A trip to the Ed Sullivan theatre starts months earlier on the Late Show website. Four months prior to my Victoria Day Weekend visit, the dates I was to be in the city finally became available to be chosen. This didn’t mean that I had them reserved, it just put me in the queue to be contacted. As it says on the website “We will contact as many people who have submitted requests as ticket availability will allow. We will not be able to call everyone who submits.” So I picked May 14 and I waited and waited and waited…. I had lost hope and considered getting Jimmy Fallon tickets until I realized that if I wanted to see a trainwreck I could stay in Toronto and watch a taping of George Strombolopoulos.

About a week before my departure a long distance number called my cell phone. I picked it up expecting to hear an Indian man trying to sell me insurance. Instead it was a female voice calling from the Late Show offices in New York. After confirming I would be in New York City before 10 am on the day of the taping, I was given a skill testing question. Expecting a toughie I loaded up Google on the old computer and was asked what type of business Late Show regular Rupert Gee owned. I didn’t need the best search engine in the world to know that it was the Hello Deli. The tickets were mine if I got to the theatre between 2 and 3 PM on the 14th. With an arrival time of 11:55 at Laguardia there should have been no problem getting to Broadway and 54th by the appointed time.

Of course delays at Laguardia are the norm. The morning of May 14th was also particularly windy and delayed our departure from Jim Kelly International Airport (pictured) in suburban Buffalo. Arriving in New York a little after 1 PM, we were forced to take one of the hotel limos into the city. This is a lovely New York phenomenon where a 10 year old Lincoln takes you anywhere in the city for twice what a cab costs or 20 times that of the subway. The great thing about New York cabs is that they are all equipped with “Cab TV”. It is a 15 minute loop of programming supplied by the NBC, ABC or FOX affiliates in the city.

Would we get to the show on time? Will I stay on topic? Stay tuned for the even longer part 2 of our saga!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Great Inventions of the 21st Century: The Comfort Wipe

Wiping your ass is a difficult proposition. With all the great inventions of the past 100 years it is an embarrassment to the western world that we have not progressed from our savage past. Forget about armies, MTV or Guantanamo Bay.In my humble opinion our greatest weapon against Al Qaeda would be an invention that would cut out the mess and the fuss of cleaning your behind.

Well that weapon is here thanks to the people at Telebrands. For over two decades founder AJ Khubani and his team has searched the world for products to offer consumers on late night infomercials. Products like the PedEgg, PediPaws, Go Duster and Stick Up Bulbs have been sold to insomniacs, depressives and shut ins.

Now for just $19.99 they bring us the Comfort Wipe. They claim it's the biggest breakthrough in ass wiping since the 1880's!!! While a wonderful breakthrough on par with insulin or the four bladed razor, it's not as cool as 3 ply, quilted paper with a flower design. The Comfort Wipe extends your wiping reach by a full 18 inches while it clutches the paper with a claw. A look at the commercial shows it is great for bad actors pretending to have arm injuries or arthritis. Fat guys love it too as they can also use it to grab cheetos while on the can.

So now it is up to you,US Army. Show those guys in the middle east how progressive we are by dropping a shitload of these over Iraq and Afghanistan. It's better then having them clog up landfill sites in North America.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Great Moments In Canadian Basketball Starring Bill Wennington

It has been said that too often the blogosphere focuses on the negative aspects of society. Once in awhile to prove those negative nellies wrong we try to focus on the positive. One of these positive features is our “Canadian Icon” series which showcased basketball great Bill Wennington.

This was a controversial choice for some who felt that Wennington was a supporting player on the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 90’s. They felt that any awkward, untalented and uncoordinated tall white guy could have replaced him on this team. Well the one minute featured in the video above is proof that not only did Wennington wear the uniform, he actually got it sweaty on occasion. “The Play” as it will surely be called also has to rank as one of the top 7 moments in Canadian Basketball history.

1. James Naismith Vandalizes a Springfield YMCA Gym Wall with a peach basket in 1891.
2. Mike Smrek plays a minute of garbage time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the 1986 NBA First Round against the Spurs
3. Steve Nash wins the 2005 NBA MVP
4. “The Play”
5. Steve Nash wins the 2006 NBA MVP
6. Leo Rautins breaks his knee while passing the ball to Dr J in a 1983 preseason training session
7. In anticipation of being drafted in the 2003 NBA Draft, U of Hawaii Junior, Carl English rents out a downtown Toronto Club to celebrate. He goes undrafted.

Let's take you back to the first round of the 1995 NBA Playoff Series between the Charlotte Hornets and the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan has made his return from his one year in baseball exile (or 1 year gambling related suspension). Wearing the number 45 Jordan is still working out the kinks. The play starts with the only recorded NBA rebound for Toni Kukoc. The Croatian, also known as "The Waiter", leads the fastbreak up the court and serves up an alley oop to crew cutted Canadian Centre Bill Wennington. Not only does Bill deliver the dunk, he also serves up a facial on Hornets star Alonzo Mourning. Remember this is 'Zo before the kidney operation when he was good.

Let's forget about the Hornets basket where Bill completely misplays 'Zo and return to the offensive end, where Jordan receives the pass from Kukoc. MJ, instead of taking his trademark fadeaway jumper which always resulted in a plus one looks to pass. Wennington on a backdoor cut, receives the pass from Jordan and delivers a turnaround dunk back into Mourning's face. It was not a "Good Mourning" for 'Zo.

That is 50 seconds of pure offensive basketball from Beef Wennington which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the epitome of the term "Canadian Icon".

A Tribute To David Carradine

For people in their thirties like myself, the recent death of David Carradine has been a sobering reminder of our youth. It isn’t so much his portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine in the 70’s kung fu western TV series “Kung Fu”. Yeah he played a kung fu crime fighter in the old west. It isn’t for his portrayal of the grandson of Caine in the Canadian made “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”. Yeah he played a crime fighting kung fu cop in an anonymous American city played by Toronto. It isn't even for his role of Bill, in the Quentin Tarantino “Kill Bill” movies.

Much like the death of Michael Hutchence 12 years ago, Carradine was considered an artistic lightweight. At first it was suspected their deaths were due to suicide. This added a depth to their lives. This depth and sorrow turned to laughs when the real cause was uncovered. Both died masturbating while hanging themselves to cut off their air supply or as autoerotic asphyxiation. Like my earlier generation, kids today will be reminded to avoid tying a rope around their necks while jerking off which is a valuable lesson if you are a complete moron. Always remember, don’t tie and hang, if you’re stroking the wang.

The worst part of this story is that Carradine popped his top while popping his top filming a movie in Thailand. This is a country that is a veritable superstore for the sexual deviant. A passport that includes a Thai stamp is a scarlet letter which can be used against you in a court of law. Would you leave a friend who traveled to Thailand alone in a room with your kids? If you answered yes to that question you should expect a visit from Children’s Aid in the very near future.

His death took me back about a decade when Carradine was in Toronto filming the aforementioned “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”. While the show was in worldwide syndication, it was also a cheap source of Canadian programming. Almost 50, Carradine no longer had his younger agility and his every action scene had to be shown in slow motion. One night he was filming at a church close to a bar I frequented. In between takes he would duck into the bar for a drink. As it was a long night of shooting, he must have had 30 drinks while still being able to film action scenes like the one below. Who could tell the man was drunk while dodging bullets like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. That is if Neo was 60 and a pathetic old drunk filming a cheap show in Canada.

Farewell Caine, you were a true legend.

Canadian Icon: Tim Hortons

Today we feature the latest in our series of people, places and things which make Canada one of the greatest nations in North America. A source of pride for any nation is it’s culinary traditions. The taste buds of the global community have been enriched by Greek Souvlaki, Italian Spaghetti, Indian Masala and American Hot Dogs. These menu items define the nation from which they have emerged and enhance the international standing of their countries. The Canadian contribution to the global kitchen emerged from the opportune partnership of an aging hockey star and a police officer. They would take tepid coffee and fattening food offerings, baked fresh in a central location and transported frozen to locations across this great country and worldwide from Buffalo to Detroit. This is the story of Tim Hortons.

Tim Horton was born in Northern Ontario mining country in 1930. The hardscrabble towns of Cochrane and Sudbury offered only a couple of options for a boy growing up in the midst of the Great Depression. Most of his school chums stayed in town, took a job in the mines and become miserable drunks. Unlike most of his peers Tim excelled on the frozen pond and was able to escape the fate of his peers and become a functional alcoholic. His fame on the ice grew and at the age of 18 Tim signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After short stints at minor league affiliates St. Mikes and Pittsburgh, Tim soon became the bedrock of the Maple Leafs backline. At 5’10, Tim towered over the malnourished players in the six team NHL.

A serious injury in 1955 made Tim realize that his hockey career could be cut short at any time. This convinced him to parlay his fame into a series of harebrained business ventures to secure his future. A hamburger restaurant failed but would show the way for McDonalds and its founder, future Leaf Lanny McDonald. He opened a Studebaker dealership in 1962 but that was doomed to fail as Studebaker went out of business in 1959. A bar was opened but quickly closed when Tim and his wife drank all the booze.

A Worldwide Success!!! An outlet in Buffalo

Salvation would be found though in the coffee which the Leafs used to sober up Tim before each game. In 1964 Tim would open up a donut shop in nearby Hamilton. In 1967 he partnered with his best customer, a police officer named Ron Joyce. Together they would expand the chain to 40 stores until tragedy struck on a February morning in 1974. Horton had beaten the odds with a successful hockey and business career. He could not beat severe head trauma caused by flipping his Italian Sports Car. This was done while driving without a seatbelt at 160 km/h, after a game and under the influence of vodka and antidepressants.

The tragedy caused pain for many including his business partner Ron Joyce. He fought through the tears to quickly take control of the company with a quick payout to the grieving widow, who like her husband was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Lori Horton quickly drank through the money and tried to unsuccessfully use the courts to turn back the $1 million dollar deal.

Throughout the turmoil the chain quickly expanded and destroyed the competition like an éclair fuelled Wal-Mart. To quell a mutiny in Afghanistan the Canadian Army opened up an outlet in Kandahar. A politician must prove to Canadians they love their “Timmys” and cannot survive if it is suspected he is a Starbucks drinker. A person can lose their job if they bring their boss a Country Style Coffee. Every year manicurists are filled with millions who have damaged nail "Rolling Up the Rim" to win a free cruller. Even the term “double double” has entered the Canadian lexicon to define brown water flavoured with 2 creams and 2 sugars. Though the company was acquired by Americans and later spun off it still retains the down home charm acquired by its association to a long dead drunk driving Canadian Hero. Luckily a drunk driver doesn’t have to go far as there seems to be a Tim Hortons on every block.

This makes Tim Hortons….A Canadian Icon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saving the World A Nickel At A Time

As a child growing up in the eighties finding a nickel allowed you to enter a world of luxurious delights. That 5 cents in hard currency was the key to a sour key or a couple of those Kraft Caramels. Sure inflation has destroyed the value of that nickel, but in 2009 a nickel will let you save the world, one plastic bag at a time.

Starting June 1, a City of Toronto bylaw legislated that all stores would have to levy a charge of at least 5 cents for a plastic bag. It's refreshing to see the city take on the real issues of the day like plastic bags. Sure a pothole sits there unfixed for months but if you want a plastic bag tax or an unused bike lane thats going to tie up traffic the City will get 'er done.

While some people complain about the cost, a bag at discount supermarket no frills has cost 5 cents for years. When the concept was started in 1978 , a bag cost 3 cents. Either the shoppers of 31 years ago were getting ripped off, or a plastic bag is the best bargain in town. That doesnt take into account that when Loblaws started charging a couple of months ago there was a upgrade in bag quality. While they charged a nickel, they used more plastic. Is that really friendly to the environment? I now expect a quality bag for my nickel and I better not get a small bag if all I bought was a deodorant and a chapstick. Shouldn't I get the same quality big bag that others are getting?

What really tickles my fancy bone is that I used to feel guilty whenever I took a needless plastic bag. Now for just a nickel, the cost of 1 minute of downtown parking, I can pollute the planet guilt free. Thanks David Miller!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

1986 Team Canada Enters Soccer Hall of Fame

In a story sure to warm the cockles of longtime soccer fans in Canada, one of the greatest teams in Canadian history is being honoured. On Saturday June 6, the 1986 National Soccer team is being inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame. For those to young to remember the '86 team, it is known for being the only time that Canada qualified for the World Cup. Of course they never scored in their three games in Mexico. They may have hit a post in their losses to France, the Soviet Union and Hungary but this band of heroes made it to the big dance and Canadian soccer has never looked back. Well it hasn't actually gone forward either.

I'm not sure what is more surprising in this story. Is it that a team that never scored is in a Hall of Fame? Howzabout that the only team to make the World Cup is being inducted into the Hall of Fame after 23 years? For me it's that Canada actually has a Hall of Fame for Soccer. A prerequisite for a "Hall of Fame" is the achievement of fame. Actually any achievement is a necessity to be honoured. Does the list of honorees include Pee Wee refs? If it wasn't for Maple Leaf Sports slapping down an MLS expansion fee to get a stadium construction contract, Canadian Soccer would still be a forgotten laughingstock.

I wonder if the plaque honouring these heroes will include their participation in the 1986 Merlion Cup. After their scoreless exploits in Mexico, Canada was invited to participate in a exhibition tournament in Singapore. Going in as the favourites, Canada faced off against the hosts,China, North Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. In a surprise, Canada finished third. It took a 10 month RCMP month investigation to discover that four Canadian players took bribes totaling $100000 to fix the games. While it merits a brief mention in the book"The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime", the story is a forgotten footnote in the sorry tale of Canadian soccer achievement. It is actually one of the only times Canada was successful at soccer as the fix worked and the players avoided charges.

So take a look a look at the plaque the next time you are in Woodbridge and are visiting the Soccer Hall of Fame. Just remember it is by appointment only. This can only give hope to Pete Rose and Barry Bonds who can rest assured that cheaters can make it into a Hall of Fame.

Greek Basketball Ads...May Need Some Improvement

When future NBA journeyman Josh Childress signed with a Greek team last year it heralded a new era in basketball. No longer would European teams have to sign undrafted or over the hill NBA players. Because of the strong Euro they could wildly overpay for sixth men on shitty teams who might get a mid level exemption with a good agent and a stupid GM.

Unfortunately this new era did not extend to basketball ads. Check out this ad for Nike starring "J-Chill" and Greek Star Theodoris Papaloukas. It has the same production values as a tenth grade multimedia project in 1999.

By the way does a borderline NBA starter playing in Europe have a right to a nickname?

Matthew Perry Gets His Own Search Engine

Life after "Friends" has been tough for many of the stars of the hit TV show. Courteney Cox has become an ad for Botox, Jennifer Aniston lost the sexiest man in the world and Matt LeBlanc is a step away from starring on a VH1 reality show. Things are looking up for Matthew Perry. While his TV show was cancelled and his movie career stalled after "The Whole Nine Yards" he recently costarred as the old Zac Efron in one of those switceroo time travel movies. Oh and Microsoft named their new search engine after him.

Well not after him, but his beloved character, Chandler Bing. In it's latest attempt to take on Google and ultimetly fail, Microsoft has introduced Surpringly the name was not taken by a crazed Matt Perry fan. is not a search engine, but a decision engine. If you type in a name of a movie, it will show you local showtimes. If you tyoe in the weather for the city it will show you automatically. Unfortunately if Microsoft types in 2005 it will not take them back in time to when Google introduced these features.

While an improvement over "Live Search", Microsoft will have to rely on those people who use IE and don't know how to change their default search to Google. Will bing become a verb, or will it end up in the defunct search engine entry in Wikipedia alongside infoseek, webcrawler and hotbot? In this battle of billionaires the real winners are Matther Perry's agent, nerds and those that want their porn delivered faster.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jay Triano Is Hired : Raptors Basketball....It's Lacklusterrific!

An Image That Will Be All too Familiar Next Season. Jay Triano calling a timeout with the Raptors way behind.

The Toronto Raptors mailed in the entire 2008/2009 season. It was so bad that Canada Post should have replaced BMO as the chief sponsor. Their performance through the entire season defined the very essence of the word lackluster. After the firing Sam Mitchell in December, Jay Triano became the interim Postmaster General and managed to change nothing and guided the team to a 25-40 record. On May 11 the Raptors removed the interim label from Triano and he was officially named head coach.

Bryan Colangelo has managed to parlay nepotism and high collared Italian shirts into a reputation as a basketball savant. His team in Phoenix was built on trading Stephon Marbury to the Knicks and signing Steve Nash. Winning a trade with the Knicks has the same degree of difficulty as beating Miss California in a game of pictionary. Heck the Italian Army has a better success rate.

Colangelo has had some success and made some blunders. His biggest error was keeping Sam Mitchell. Instead of letting him go after 2 poor seasons, Colangelo decided to let Mitchell have one more year. The one year left on the contract which they would have had to pay if they let him go. Rather then pay 2 coaches, Mitchell was kept. While they are both well dressed dandies, they had fundamental differences with basketball philosophy. While Colangelo wanted to bring a European game to Toronto, Mitchell was born in the dirty south and best known as a player for being Kevin Garnett’s caddy in Minnesota. Somehow he blundered his way to Coach of the Year in 2007 and Colangelo was left with no choice but to keep Sam.

A year and a half later, Mitchell was finally gone from the bench but still on the payroll. Jay Triano, who had been an assistant with the team since 2002, wasn’t the best choice but he was already here and came cheap. Generally the Canadian University players and coaches are not the place people look for NBA coaching talent. He was the obvious choice when the Vancouver Grizzlies were looking for a colour commentator and Director of Community Relations. He was already in Vancouver and he came cheap. When the Grizz went south, Triano, then National Team head coach was picked up by the Raptors mostly as a Marketing tool.

Look Jay seems like a nice guy and has been a solid promoter of basketball in Canada. What irks is that if it wasn’t for the huge coach of the year contract still on the Raptors books another coach would have been hired. A 25-40 record and a seventh place finish in the Olympics doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Neither does the fact that Triano was a popular pick amongst the players. The very same players who barely showed up this year until late in the season where they ruined the teams draft position by playing for their contracts.

One Man's Fight to Warm the World

I would think it's safe to say that we're all eagerly awaiting the warm months of the summer to finally arrive. After all, we had a miserably cold winter. Some of us of course are more eager than others.

Take this man for example. He's really eager. It was probably 12 degrees outside when this picture was taken. The cold weather didn't stop him from sporting a short sleave shirt while doing the double duty of warming the earth while mowing the lawn.

There is a saying that goes, "If you want to change the world you start with your own backyard". In this case it's the front yard that is the starting point.

Is the Cellphone the new Boom Box?

A couple of days ago I was taking the subway to an interview. While waiting for the train I could hear the faint sound of music coming from somewhere. I turned to my left to look at the busker only to realize that it wasn't him. He was playing the guitar and singing to some shitty folk song. Out of the corner of my right eye I noticed a small group of people bobbing their heads so I turned around to get a better look.

It turns out that one guy was holding a cellphone at shoulder level while two other friends were huddled beside him to hear the song. Now I don't know how many people who read the blog grew up in the late 70's and early eighties like myself, but from what I remember from my youth, this wasn't how this kind of thing was supposed to go down. If you wanted to listen to music out loud and annoy the people around you, you came correct. You would have the biggest, baddest boombox resting on your shoulder blasting Fight the Power by Public Enemy. Playing Right 'Round by Flo Rida on your cellphone doesn't quite have the same effect.

It's bad enough that people on the street are blasting tunes in their headphones so loud that you can hear it while standing 10 feet away. Now we have to contend with this?

So what's next? My money is on people beating off to porn videos shown on tiny cellphone projectors while on public transit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

White People Don't Like Chicken

In our ongoing fried chicken coverage we bring you a story from Rochester, NY. An advertised special at "Popeye's" closed down outlets when they ran out of chicken. It also opened up an opportunity for the television station to focus on a story important to the black community.

In the blog about the story, WHAM 13 anchor and African American Norma Holland notes "Criticism is often leveled at 13WHAM that we do not feature Black people or other people of color in our stories unless they are criminals. As a person of color myself, I am sensitive to this." . So it would make perfect sense to feature and reinforce steroetypes in a story to force the news to become more inclusive. The story would have been more powerful if it had interviews with Popeyes management and spokepeople for the black community like Amos, Andy and Stepin Fetchit. It also proves once and for all without a shadow of a doubt that white people do not like chicken. There was not one white person available in line and dissappointed that Popeyes had run out of chicken.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Dears Live In Toronto : Like Poutine Without The Gravy

Billy Bob Thornton was run out of Canada for being a jackass on CBC Radios Q. Angered at the interviewer for no sensible reason he said that Canadian audiences were like “mashed potatoes without the gravy”. The audience at his show in Toronto that night responded with boos and he cancelled the rest of the Canadian run of his tour. At the Dears concert on April 30 at the Mod Club in Toronto I realized he may be a heatbag but he is probably right.

At their Mod Club show, Lightburn, well known for his spasticity, was fairly subdued. Some of the blame may be due to a stolen bus. As they prepared to depart Montreal to begin their tour they discovered that their tour bus had disappeared. While the thieves took a bus on a joyride around the streets of Montreal the Dears had to rent a van. With their equipment untouched they took the 6 hour drive to Toronto and the show started on time.

The show began with recorded music and I was startled by a bump. I turned around to start a fight and saw Lightburn singing and moving through the crowd. He was barely noticed until he reached the front of the hall. As threw his mic in the air all that could be heard was silence. A good clue to a bad crowd is when no one sings along to the complicated lyrics “ooooooooooh ahhhhhhhhh oooooooooooh”.

With at times three guitarists and two keyboards, the band had a lush, overlapping sound. The only issue was the occasional thump emanating from the Latin club located below the Mod Club. The band whipped through a 90 minute set covering their later career including highlights “Lost in the Plot” and “Hate Then Love”. Even as the first show of a tour with a new (old) guitarist and a recent lineup change recent band they sounded tight and prepared. The same could not be said for the crowd who responded pavlonian style when they heard the word “Toronto”.

With the end of a two song encore I left the Mod Club wanting to revisit some of their songs. As I came out not hating them, I would consider the show a success.

The Dears, for those who don’t know or have never heard of Wikipedia, are a Canadian Indie Rock Band. They are led by the husband and wife team of Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak. Lightburn, the lead singer is a black guy with a Jewish name who sounds like Morrissey. Alongside the Arctic Fire, they were one of the leaders of the Montreal music scene which emerged in the early part of the decade.

Their world view can be best described by their optimistic album titles like “No Cities Left”, “Gang of Losers” and “Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique”. As a black guy from Montreal who sounds like Morrissey, I’m pretty sure Murray had a hard time fitting in. They can be described the depressed love child of The Smiths & Radiohead who can still rock.and Since their debut release “End Of a Hollywood Bedtime Story” in 2000, they have always seemed on the cusp of world domination, but have settled well into indie rock success considering the lack of support from the major Canadian media.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Barbie Is a Ho

While the world keeps changing it is refreshing to find that certain things stay the same. The sky may be filled with smog but the sun comes up every morning. Russia may have thrown off communism but they are still our mortal enemy. Are morality may be lessening but Barbie is still a triflin' ho.

Parents are furious over the latest Barbie model available from Mattel. Known as Totally Stylin' Barbie the doll offers little girls the chance to update their favourite toy. It comes with 40 easy to apply tattoos to update her image. Unlike real tats they are easy to remove. Mattel sees this as a way to update the dolls image for today's lifestyle. How about they start by putting the "Made In Indonesia" stamp in a less conspicuous place. Sure the idea of putting a tramp stamp on the iconic doll is stupid, but I'd rather girls not have to think of the kids earning $1.50 a day making the doll and being choked by rubber fumes.

Sure this might is a terrible idea, but it keeps this doll in the news. After 50 years I think Barbie has damaged the world so much that anything they do cannot make it worse.

In a related ho story, has anyone noticed that Mel Gibson is basically dating the octomom. The resemblance is frightening.

Those Wacky Ads From Japan

Times are tough for everyone. Look at Brad Pitt who has to support 27 adopted children by moonlighting as a chauffeur for a Japanese Sumo Wrestler. Actually the Hollywood Hunk is pictured filming a commercial for Japanese TV. Like many celebrities, Brad Pitt has a yen for making these ads. The ad being filmed is for Japanese cell phone company Softbank. More of these “Japanads” can be found here. They feature celebrities like Hilary Duff, Wham! and Mariah Carey in a series of wacky and incomprehensible ads.

Not all ads in Japan use celebrities. A competitor of Softbank, emobile, probably wanted to get Barack Obama. The cost of obtaining the endorsement of a sitting President must be too big for emobiles pockets. Instead they used what the Japanese must consider the next best thing to represent America's first black President. They got a monkey.

The Swine Flu Fashion Guide

I’m a bit of a driving voyeur. I like to look in cars and stare at people to freak them out. As I was driving tonight I looked over and saw an Audi A6 beside me. The highway was pretty clear so I was able to get a clear look. What I saw inside was certainly a sign of the times. Instead of the familiar glow of a satellite radio or GPS, or the scared look of the passenger I’m spying on, I was the one who received the fright. Hanging on the rearview mirror was a face mask.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like to take precautions. During showers, I have replaced Irish Spring with Purell. My water of choice, Evian, has been replaced with Purell on Ice. To fulfill my caffeine needs I have switched from espresso to cappuccino. I would never dilute my fine Italian coffee with sanitizer but maybe added calcium will help.

The main problem with face masks, ignoring the fact that they scare the shit out of me is that they are so blasé. As a fashionista I need to be on the cutting edge. A boring life saving face mask doesn’t match with my exclusive Swedish designed H&M shirts, or my denim pants acquired from Winners. What am I to do?

Luckily Mexicans have come to the rescue. They have started to personalize their face masks with funky, one of a kind designs. What if I don’t want to damage a face mask to look cool? They may not even work without a skull painted on in black felt pen. Well worry no longer as here are some suggestions to help you look good when the fashion police cart away your dead flu ridden body:

For the label whore. The carpet may not match the drapes, but don't be caught dead with your mask not matching your purse.

For your beloved childhood toy. You survived the potato famine and 25 relaunches of Burger King fries. If youre going to go because of a pig, let it be as a side dish beside pork chops.

For the Raptors fan. Chris Bosh will be gone next year. You dont have to go. Stay alive to watch another 5 year rebuilding plan. Raptors Basketball....It's Fantastic!

For the weed smoker.Don't bogart that blunt man, but bogart your life.

A Nerd Saves Newspapers

Mark Cuban is a friggin genius. Most people regard him as the buffoonish owner of the Dallas Mavericks. As one of the first people who cashed in on the dot com boom he is thought of as lucky more then smart. People do not give him credit for being a rather successful businessman. Proof is that in one post on his blog, he is able to offer the most sensible solution I have seen to turning around the death of the newspaper.

There are a number of issues which are contributing to the demise of the daily paper which have been rehashed ad infinitum. The internet has made information quicker, easier to access and free. I always feel like a chump whenever I pay for my subscription to the Toronto Star. All of the articles in the paper are offered for free and updated on their website. They also publish the free commuter paper, Metro. Meanwhile I’m stuffing change in an envelope every two weeks.

Cuban offers up a number of ideas. Mainly he promotes the use of a newspaper website as a sort of central marketplace. Using Amazon as an example he shows that people continue to purchase from Amazon because with their credit cards on file, they are one click away from buying. As newspapers have the same ability they should be taking advantage of this be offering additional services and working with local companies to offer special deals. Suggestions he makes include offering delivering a DVD on the day it is released with your morning paper for the same price you would find it in the stores. There’s a reason he is a billionaire and it is not his good looks.

Cuban does mention one of the biggest problems with being a newspaper subscriber. Namely as someone who pays for the paper I receive the same access to information that a non subscriber does. The only thing I receive as a subscriber is a bill, ink on my hands and the ability to read the information on the toilet seat without ruining my laptop. There is no added benefit to being a subscriber. Why should I pay for a product, when I can get it for free? Shouldn’t there be an added benefit to someone who has been receiving the paper at home since they were born?

The Metro is a great example. What started as a 12 page paper filled with wire copy has expanded to 60 pages which include columnists and huge chunks of news I pay for in The Star. On some days it’s bigger then the Toronto Sun. So now you want me to pay for the Star, which is bulkier, when I can read the Metro on the subway and the Star at work for free. Then you wonder why your revenue is falling.

Unlike Cuban, newspapers, like record companies have not yet figured out a way to work with the net. If a product can be acquired easier and for free, people generally won’t pay for it. Now add a benefit and people may start paying. Willy Wonka figured that out a century ago with his golden ticket and he is a fictional character and crazy. Hell why not bundle a CD with a t-shirt. People love T-Shirts and you can’t download a 100% Cotton T with a band logo on it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rebranding The Swine Flu

The Swine Flu is quickly spreading across the world. Mexico is closed until further notice and the first jokes are getting nervous chuckles at work and play. Meanwhile intelligent people are looking for solutions. Are they looking for a way to stop the spread or even cure it? Of course not they want to to change the name.

This is a worldwide phenomenon. In the US, officials are looking for ways to change the name as they fear the cost to pig farmers. While the flu doesn't spread through the eating of bacon and other related product, some governments have already banned pork imports from affected areas. Meanwhile I'm the idiot who got ribs from Swiss Chalet last night. They were tasty but not worthy of getting the flu and dying. As the strain is a mix of pig, bird and human flu they feel that the term swine flu is unfair to pigs. The geniuses at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention feel that the name H1N1 Flu Outbreak is more reflective of the current strain. Maybe they should leave the rebranding to Madison Avenue, or better yet work on Controlling and Preventing diseases like you are suppose to do.

Over in Isreal, a health official suggests changing the name as well. Not for scientific reasons but because the term swine is offensive to Muslims and Jews. While I do understand the suggestion and how culturally sensitive it is I would be more offended by getting the flu. The tolerant health official suggests that the name be changed to the Mexican flu. While that would remove the swine issue, the new name would be offensive to about 110 million people who live in Mexico and are known as Mexicans. I suggest the Speedy Gonzales flu, cause it's moving so fast. "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!"

I have an even better suggestion. How about these officials put on some face masks. Not to prevent the spread of their flu but to shut their mouths.

The $500 Million Woman

That's a look that says I'm gonna cost you the other $500 million you have.

Love takes many different forms. The love between a man and a woman, a man and a sports team or a woman with a beautiful pair of earring. Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love. There's the love shared by family members, or between the Lady and the Tramp. Then there's Mel Gibson and the woman who's gonna cost him $500 million. That's gotta be love cause that's gotta hurt.

After 29 years of marriage Mel Gibson is getting divorced. Since the marriage took place in California and no pre nuptial agreement is in place, his wife is entitled to half of his money. When the news first broke any Russian with the name Oksana claimed to be his mistress. At the premiere of "Wolverine" Mel Gibson showed off his new girlfriend. This was the biggest news of the premiere as everyone saw "Wolverine" when it showed up on the net a month ago.

Her name is Oksana Grigorieva, and boy does she look like she has dollar signs in her eye with that picture. To be fair costing a man $500 million dollars must be great for a girls self esteem. This isn't convincing him to get a haircut or change his wardrobe. This is costing him the equivalent of Bolivias GDP. She is a Russian composer and actress and has a child with James Bond. Well not with a real James Bond like Daniel Craig, Sean Connery or even George Lazenby. She had a kid with Timothy Dalton.

We all know Mel Gibson is crazy, with the drunkeness and the idiotic statements he made to the cops. The piece de resistance in the whacko puzzle has to be leaving his wife for a woman who had a kid with the man who nearly killed the James Bond franchise. At least we know there's gonaa be a new Lethal Weapon movie. Somebody has got to pay for his stupidity and it's going to be moviegoers.