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.