Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween everyone! To celebrate the occasion, I first give you what is without a doubt the greatest Halloween costume I've ever seen...and trust me, you need to watch the entire video (it's only 1 minute long, and it's worth it.) For the second one, I have no idea what the hell is going on in this video, but it's a minute and a half of pure awesome.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29, 2009

I’ve always thought that it was interesting to see a smoker choose to go outside in a raging snowstorm for a cigarette. It didn’t make much sense to me to electively go out into a cold, windy environment when you were already inside. Some people smoke, some people drink, some people do drugs, some people gamble…but generally everyone has at least one vice, an addiction. I’ve never smoked, never drank heavily (even in University), never been involved with any sort of drugs, and while I do play poker, I wouldn’t consider it a vice, although some may disagree. For 30+ years, my addiction has been Coke. (If you didn’t surmise from the picture above, that refers to Coca-Cola.)

For those of you who have been following along, I’ve been trying to quit drinking Coke. I’ve mentioned it a number of times on the blog, and anyone who I see personally has likely noticed (or heard me mention) that I’m trying to quit. Some people scoff at it as just another drink, and it’s no big deal to stop, but this is the closet thing I have to a smoker quitting smoking. It’s definitely not easy, but I’ve gone just over 9 weeks now without a Coke.

There were a number of reasons for me trying to quit, from trying to lose some weight, to trying to cut out sugar, to overall health…to the fact that if you leave a rusty nail submerged in a glass of Coke, within 3 days, all of the rust is eaten away. Get your head around that! I knew that trying to go gradual wouldn’t work, so I went cold turkey and just stopped on a Monday. One of the things that was foolish, though, was that I didn’t actually drink the Coke that was in my fridge when I quit.

The best way to drink Coke is in the small glass bottles with the metal bottle caps. No plastic bottle, aluminum can, or pouring it into a glass can compare with the awesome sensation of drinking an ice-cold Coke out of one of those trademark-shaped glass bottles. When they re-introduced them a few years ago, I pretty much always had some in my fridge at home. In a cruel twist of fate, and absolutely no foresight on my part, when I quit drinking Coke, there was still one small glass bottle left in my fridge. So now, every time I open the fridge, there it is in the door, taunting me…daring me…
I just can’t bring myself to throw it out. And since I don’t let Lucas drink Coke, he can’t have it either. It’s not like I don’t let him drink soda, but I don’t let him have it that often, and if I do, I try to give him something without caffeine. I wish my mom had never let me drink Coke when I was younger, and maybe I wouldn’t have become so dependent on it. That’s not to say it’s her responsibility in any way, I love her to death, and she did a great job raising me on her own, but if I can try to avoid Lucas drinking it and becoming dependent on it later in life, I’m going to do my best to try that.

I gave it up a few years ago for about 2 years, and switched to iced tea, but I was back eventually. This time, when I tried the experiment, a few friends had suggested that I try Coke Zero as a replacement, and for those of you that read the blog regularly, you will remember that the Coke Zero experiment did NOT go well at all. Once I realized that Coke Zero wasn’t going to be an adequate substitute, I worried that I would go right back to it, but I’ve lasted 7 more weeks.

There have been some close calls. When I went to the movie with Lucas last week, it was the first time I had been to the theatre since I quit. We were at the snack bar, and in the past, it was always popcorn and a Coke. I had to restrain myself from ordering one. It’s the same thing when I go to the casino, I’m just used to having a Coke beside me at the poker table. Now it’s orange juice or water, or sometimes a Sprite if I need some carbonation. The closest was a few weeks ago when my friend Colin and I went to Brantford for a baseball game. We were sitting in the stands sharing an extremely salty bag of Spitz sunflower seeds, and I said to him, “That’s it…I need a Coke. I’m done.”

I headed to the snack bar and got in line. I was seventh in line and I could already taste it…I knew I couldn’t last with this stupid experiment. Sixth, fifth…it was going to taste so good. Fourth…maybe I should get 2. Third…yeah, get 2, one won’t be enough. When I was second in line, this guy walked by me, and he was probably between 350-400 pounds…an incredibly round and uncomfortable-to-look-at sized individual. I was looking at him, and remembering my reasons for quitting, when I heard the girl behind the counter ask me what I wanted, and I weakly responded, “I’ll have a water, please.”

This past weekend, I was announcing a basketball game in Guelph, and Alex, one of the students who works at the scorer’s table and sits beside me, had a Coke. I could see the tell-tale red can and white swirl as it sat in the cup holder and I wanted one really badly. Alex and I started talking about it, and she told me that she’s a Coke (Coca-Cola) addict as well. I mentioned my abstinence, and she tried to hide her can behind a roll of athletic tape, which was very considerate of her, but I was fiending…craving it like you wouldn’t believe. But as much as I wanted to run over to the concession stand and grab one, I fought it off.

I’ve had a lot of suggestions as to what I should drink instead of Coke. I hate the aftertaste of sweeteners in soda, so let’s just rule out Diet sodas. I’ve been drinking water, and Gatorade on occasion, but it’s the carbonation that I crave sometimes. Someone suggested to me that if I needed carbonation, I should drink Perrier or some other sort of soda water. My response to that was that if I wanted to drink something carbonated that had no taste…I probably would have just stuck with Coke Zero.
I’m still drinking pop, but maybe 3-5/week instead of the 1-2 Cokes/day I used to have. While I haven’t had a Coke (or any other Cola), I did have a couple of Cherry Colas a few weeks back. And one time when Lucas and I went to Mac’s and got Frosters (not Slurpees…that’s 7-11), I did get a Coke-flavoured Froster, but in my mind, that doesn’t count because it’s not actually the drink. The good news is that it was excessively sweet, and I couldn’t finish it because it was so sweet. I’m hoping that my taste buds have changed, and that even if I were to have a Coke now, it would be too sweet for me, and not enjoyable. I’m hoping that’s the case, but I’m not optimistic. More likely, I’m going to break down eventually, and have that one Coke that negates everything in the past 9 weeks. And I know that if (when?) that moment comes, I’m probably going to polish off a case. In retrospect, and once again in the ‘no foresight’ category, writing this post wasn’t really the best idea either, because just talking about it has me craving one right now.

Most of my friends and family have been great, and supportive, and when I’m out somewhere with them and it looks like I’m about to break down and order one, they tell me not to. I’m appreciative for that, I hope they’ll keep doing it. I’ve lost 8 pounds since I cut it out of my diet, so there’s definite motivation to continue.

We’ll see how long I can last. Maybe this winter, you’ll see me sneaking outside in a blizzard for a Coke, hanging out with all the smokers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009

I've decided to retire the Cover Version Wednesdays for a while, but I'm sure they will be back in the future. For today, to honour the Yankees for game 1 of the World Series, I present a video that shows why Derek Jeter is so awesome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27, 2009

It's been a while since I've done an old-school post of Random Thoughts...I may have to change the name of the blog soon. Any suggestions?

- Tonight Lucas and I were playing War (the card game), and we had an exciting part of the game where we had a double war, so there was a total of 18 cards on the line. We were laying on our stomachs on the floor, and I had already turned over a 5, so I figured I was going to lose. Lucas slowly and dramatically turned over his card to reveal...a 4. And then he jumped up onto his knees and shook his fists in the air and (mock) yelled, "EPIC FAIL!" Oh man, I wish I could have actually seen my face because I was initially, and understandably, shocked before I burst into uncontrollable laughter. I had no idea where he heard that from, since I've never said it in my life, but it was incredibly funny.
- Last night, we were on our way to swimming lessons, and Lucas asked me where the Laurier football team plays. We were driving right near the stadium, so I stopped to show him. The football team wasn't there, but I recognized the girl at the desk from when I'm there for our Rogers telecasts and she let us in and on to the field. I showed him that the turf wasn't really dirt and grass, and let him run out to the centre of the field. Then we ran up to the top of the stadium and back down again. We were just on the edge of the field and I told him that he could have one free tackle on me, so I bent down as he backed up and got ready. He ran towards me as I was crouched down preparing for him to just jump on me like he used to do when he was little, but just as he got to me, he dropped his shoulder and plowed into me, knocking me over onto my ass. The little dude smoked me, and he thought it was hilarious. No more free hurt. Chalk that one up as a bad idea.

- For those of you that haven't heard all the media coverage (still living under that rock?) about the new ban on handheld devices while driving, just a word of caution to be careful if you're choosing to disregard the new law. In the 48 hours since it has come into effect, I have already twice seen police officers hiding obstructed at on-ramps looking for drivers on their phone or texting. And I've seen lots of people ignoring it on the road. I'm trying to get into the habit of not texting or dialing like I used to, but luckily my phone has a hands-free speaker option.

- I was filling up with gas at Shell/Short Stop by my house earlier today, and when I went in to pay for it, the woman behind the counter had this snarly face and surly disposition, and smelled like she had just bathed in the world's largest ashtray. Not the most appealing scent when you're in a gas station...or anywhere for that matter. So, as I'm paying for my gas, she says to me, "Need any Halloween candy?" I said no, and she continued, "You sure? We got a really good deal on those candies there. Come on." as she pointed at a display. I again assured her that I was fine.

Now, I know all about the suggestive sell, or the upsell, but I can't figure out why she would ask me twice, and throw in a "Come on" like I was clearly making a bad choice. I'm pretty sure that Little Short Stop employees don't work on commission, so I was confused by her motivation. It made no sense to me, but I still got out of there as soon as possible, away from Miss Smoky McPushy-Upsell.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26, 2009

In one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard, today the St. Louis Cardinals introduced Mark McGwire as their new hitting coach.


Mark McGwire? Know cheater. Known juicer. And don't even blah blah blah me on how he was never officially caught...after his testimony in front of Congress, we all know the truth. But independent of the fact that he is a cheater (Free 'roids for everyone in the dressing room!), this is still an absurd choice.

We're talking about a guy who is a career .263 hitter in his Major League career. Let's consider that players like B.J. Surhoff (.281), Terry Puhl (.280), Stan Javier (.269) and spider-loving former Blue Jay Glenallen Hill (.270) all have higher career batting averages, and I don't see anyone knocking on their door to offer them a position as hitting coach on a playoff-caliber team. What qualifies Mark McGwire to be a hitting coach in St. Louis, other than the fact that he broke the home run record (while cheating) while playing there, and gave Cards fans free Big Macs every time he hit a home run into Big MacLand?

On top of that, this is a guy that struck out over 100 times in a season TEN TIMES, including over 150 times twice. THIS is the guy you want working with your hitters? Seriously?

I thought St. Louis had a pretty smart organization, but this makes no sense.

October 26, 2009

My niece Emma is away at school on Vancouver Island, and Lucas and I miss her like crazy, so this is just a special picture for her. We miss you Ems!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25, 2009

When this week's episode of The Amazing Race started, as I mentioned at the end of last week's post, I already missed Lance and Keri. Meghan and Cheyne started off the episode as they raced off to the first Roadblock which involved one team member rowing an inflatable rowboat out to a yacht. Cheyne declared that he was the best choice for this task because he has experience with boating and "knew the logistics of how to get there." Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like "the logistics of how to get there" involved: a) getting in the rowboat, b) rowing, and c) heading towards the yacht. Not exactly rocket science.

I never would have imagined that a tiny little rowboat would create so much havoc for the teams. First, Cheyne was moving at a snail's pace, then Brian gets an injury and finished the task with a bleeding hand (what!?), and then Gary couldn't get a handle on rowing so he laid down on his stomach and canoe-paddled. THEN Big Easy and Gay Brother #1 or #2 (I don't know which one is which) both had so much trouble with the oars that they each decided to just forget them and row with their hands! Now, here's the two things that are completely idiotic about this strategy: first, that the system they were using with their hands, rowing backwards with both hands at once, is all they had to do with the oars! And second, that as they were slapping the water with their hands, neither of them bothered to take the oars out of the water, so they have to drag them in the water which makes it even more difficult! It seemed like Tiffany was the only one who actually knew how to operate the rowboat properly.

After the rowing part of the challenge, each team had to decipher the clue that the time on the watch was the combination for the briefcase, and while it was painful watching Flight Time and Big Easy struggle with it, I was thinking how anticlimactic an episode it would have been if Lance and Keri were still in the race. I mean, they couldn't even find the clue hidden inside the bullet in an earlier episode, and I'm quite confident that every other team would have reached the Pit Stop, and we would have seen Phil heading back to tell them they were eliminated before they even got the briefcase open.

Mika and Canaan stated that the perception was they were the zebras and the other teams were the lions. Haven't they been paying attention? Brian and Ericka are the zebras (Go Team Jungle Fever!), and Lance is the lion. On a side note, Kudos to Brian and Ericka for their first episode of the season without a racial wordplay nickname or metaphor. And did Mika really ask, "Does a Muslim clock work differently"? More on her later.

As soon as I saw the options for the Detour, I knew that they were both going to be great challenges. Personally, I would have chosen the Gold option, as Brian and Ericka initially did, with Brian declaring that it would involve "some tricky math.", it's not that "tricky"'s just division. If you went to elementary school, I can pretty much guarantee that this is one of the first four math concepts you learned.

Little did I know how much this would be a problem for the teams (God bless you, American education system!), as nobody could figure out what to do, including Sam and Dan, who HAD A CALCULATOR! It was only when Maria and Tiffany showed up that anyone figured out how to do it, and then they shared the info with Sam and Dan. Their quote after the fact was, "Our alliance with Maria and Tiffany really helped us today." Yes it did, because they were the only team who was smart enough to align themselves with a team who know how to do division when they have a calculator. Well done, boys. Now, to be fair, Maria and Tiffany use mental arithmetic all the time in poker (including division) for calculating pot odds and other concepts, so I knew that would be a breeze for them.

Did you notice that when Meghan and Cheyne finished first, Phil told them that they each won "a personal watercraft" but didn't specify what it was that they won? So, while it sounds like they want you to think that they won a Jet-Ski or a Sea-Doo, they probably just won one of those crappy inflatable rowboats from the Roadblock.

The waterslide through the shark tank was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. As Liz Lemon would say, "I want to go to there."
Now, on to one of the most memorable moments in any season of The Amazing Race, Mika's meltdown at the top of the waterslide. I've (fairly) given Mika a hard time in past recaps about being beautiful but not very bright, and I'm not sure that her predicament on the top of the waterslide warranted her saying "I hate my life right now" or praying to God to help her through it. She also declared that it was her "worst nightmare", which I find difficult to believe. I can't imagine that as a child, or a teenager, she woke up screaming in the night that she was one day going to be stuck in Dubai at the top of a waterslide through a shark tank that she was going to have to go down so that she would be able to keep racing for a million dollars with her Christian acoustic guitar-playing boyfriend who wouldn't have sex with her. Unlikely.

(On a side note, if you're afraid of water AND heights, did you maybe consider that The Amazing Race might not be for you? Have you watched it before?)

But as ridiculous as all of that was (as were her pink floral water wings), it was even more difficult to watch Canaan's reaction to her. We've seen fear-based meltdowns in the past, but the other teammates is usually the biggest cheerleader for the one who is afraid, trying to help them through it--remember Kisha last season when little sister Jen was afraid of the pool? But to see Canaan yelling at Mika, and calling her a moron, and actually grabbing her as if he was going to throw her down the slide...well, that just brought the whole situation to a whole new level of uncomfortable.

Not sure I'm happy or sad to see them go...I don't think I really care either way. But I have to know, what the hell was that on Mika's back?

I know this spot is usually reserved for a full Amazing Race recap, but I wanted to mention this past week's Survivor episode. If you watched it, you saw what happened to Russell Swan as he passed out twice during a challenge. I've watched every episode of this show since the first season, and this was without a doubt the scariest thing I've ever seen, including when Michael Skupin fell into the fire and burned his hands in Survivor: Australia. He actually looked like he was going to die right there while medical was checking on him, and the image of him slumped over the maze while unconscious and blindfolded is pretty haunting.
If you want some of the details on what happened, make sure to check out Jeff Probst's blog from this week, where he talks in-depth about the situation. Also, be sure to watch Survivor Talk with Dalton Ross and Josh Wolk, where they have a phone conversation with Russell and he talks about watching the episode with his wife.

Until next week...

October 25, 2009

Today's musical selection is the Flight of the Conchords, who have made a number of appearances on the blog in the past. I'm not going to give a big explanation on who they are or what they're about, but if you have a decent sense of humour (and if you read here, I'd like to think that you do), you should enjoy the HBO TV show, as well as the music. Here's a clip from season 2, with Bret and Jemaine talking about some very important body parts, followed by a clip of one of the funniest moments from the show. If you like it, there's a tag on the sidebar that will take you to the other posts.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23, 2009

Best Star Wars toy Ever!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009

I love autumn.

It is my favourite season by far, despite the fact that it signifies the end of summer and the preparation for a long, cold, Canadian winter. (Note to American readers: we do not break out the snowshoes, fatten up the sled dogs, and hunker down in our igloos…but it does get cold, just like New York or Boston or Detroit.) There’s just something about autumn: the colours, the smells, the cool breeze in the air. I love everything about it.

When I was a kid, we had a huge maple tree in our front yard, and I mean HUGE. Every fall, it would rain down so many leaves that we would have a giant mound of leaves by the curb that was so high we would actually use it as a hiding spot when we would play hide-and-seek at night. Sometimes, we would gather all of the leaves and pile them at the base of my neighbour’s garage, and then climb on the roof and jump into the pile, which cushioned our fall because it was so massive. Then, my friends and I would grab our rakes and walk up and down the street, raking yards for a dollar or two (it was 1980-ish) and having a blast. Oh, the wonders of remembering your childhood and talking about all the things I used to do that I would never let Lucas do now, like hide in a pile of leaves on the road or jump off the garage. The irony…

I went for a walk last night because it was just too nice of a night to stay inside. It had rained during the day, so on the paths around my neighbourhood, all you could smell was the combination of rain and leaves, which was a fantastic fall treat for the senses. There’s also an area just around the corner from my house where the trees are turning almost in sync with each other right now, and there’s just a fantastic combination of bright reds and oranges all in a row.

It reminds me of that scene in When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are walking through a park in the fall. The conversation is really secondary to the amazing backdrop of orange and falling leaves. It’s such a great image, it’s what they used for the poster, the cover of the DVD, and the soundtrack. I could easily post a picture of that scene, but I think it’s much more entertaining to just show the cover of the Danish version, Harry Und Sally. I sense a strong emphasis on the ‘Und’, don’t you?
Do you love autumn as much as I do? If not, what is your favourite season, and why?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21, 2009

For our trip to the movies last night, Lucas and I arrived early, as we usually do, to try and get our favourite seats…in the very back row of the theatre, right in the middle. When we got there last night about 30 minutes before the movie started, we saw that there were only 4 people in the theatre, and we got our seats in the back row without a problem. Now, as people filed in to the theatre leading up to the show time, it ended up being about 60% full. There were a lot of available seats in the room, but these two young girls about 16 or 17 years old came and sat to our right, with just one seat between us. Not a big deal, even with about 10 seats empty to their right. Obviously everyone wants to sit as close as possible to the center for the best view. Then on the left side of us, which is the side that Lucas was sitting on, another group of people arrived, and sat down right beside him, without even the one-seat buffer zone.

That didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s like basic bathroom protocol (for men)…if there’s a man at a urinal and you have the option to stand at the urinal beside him or any other urinal, you ALWAYS PICK THE OTHER URINAL. That doesn’t even need any explanation. Again, this isn’t exactly the same, but I didn’t understand why you would sidle up to an eight-year-old boy in the theatre when it wasn’t packed and there were loads of empty seats.

Like I said, this wasn’t a big deal…at first. But then, during the movie, both the guy beside Lucas and the girl beside me kept taking out their cellphones and texting during the film. It was very distracting obviously having this light pop up repeatedly right beside you throughout the movie. And then the girls kept talking loudly the entire time, too. I couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing to talk and text during a movie, but if you're going to, why on earth would you sit as close as possible to other people when you didn’t have to?
On top of that, these two girls kept making comments during the movie that were just ridiculous. At one point, they said that something Max did was just “not very believable.” Oh, I see. Because clearly the actors in GIANT FURRY SUITS that talk are so believable! I made a comment in another post once (I don’t remember which one) about an ex-girlfriend of mine and how she felt the major flaw with Spider-Man was that she didn’t believe that Mary-Jane couldn’t tell it was Peter during the upside-down kiss scene. She had no problem with the guy with superpowers swinging between buildings on webs that came out of his wrists, or the evil flying Green Goblin…but that kissing scene was just not believable.

It’s amazing what people will do or say just to able to complain or try to poke holes in something. I was reading a review of Where The Wild Things Are on the CBC website today, and in the Comments section, one reader had said the following: “I loved this story as a child and really enjoyed Spike Jonze's film Adaptation. I'll be lining up to see this one.” He was obviously talking about the film titled Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage, which Spike Jonze directed. It was evident by his capitalization of the word Adaptation. But, sure enough, on the next page of Comments, some rocket scientist had written this response: “This doesn't make sense! You liked Spike Jonze's movie, but you'll be lining up to see this one? They are the same thing! You've either seen it or not!”

Now, first of all, I’m not sure that this was a topic that was worthy of a three-exclamation-mark tirade. And second of all, if this moron had actually read the comment properly and not had the instinctual response to say “A-ha! Something I can contradict! Yes!”, then he wouldn’t have ended up being the one looking like an idiot.

Sorry, but the English Major in me has to laugh at things like that. And it’s not my same old ‘your’ vs ‘you’re’ or ‘would have’ vs ‘would of’ argument. It’s as simple as one letter difference…it was just a capital A. Capitalization and punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence, as shown by the comment above. Or by the example of a sign we have in the back warehouse at work. In our receiving area, there was a sign up that instructed receivers not to break down an entire skid of boxes when it arrived. The sign said, “Do Not Break Down Skid” Pretty straightforward, huh? But someone with a sense of humour (not me) added just one comma to change the entire meaning, and the sign was modified to say “Do Not Break Down, Skid
Sorry, what was I talking about? I guess I just felt like ranting…

October 21, 2009

If you read Sunday’s musical selection post, you heard about Snow Patrol and my favourite song of theirs, Run. I figured I would tie that post together with today’s featured Cover Version, which is Leona Lewis performing the same song.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009

Tonight, Lucas and I went to see Where the Wild Things Are. To say we were excited to see it may perhaps be the biggest understatement in the history of this blog. I'm not sure which one of us was more excited, because I can honestly say that I had never been more excited to see a movie. I mean, as a Star Wars fan, I was excited for Revenge of the Sith (and was happy with it); as an Indiana Jones fan, I was thrilled in anticipation for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (biggest letdown ever); and the closest I remember coming to this level of excitement was for Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp (and I loved it!).

On a side note, as a child who read all of Roald Dahl's books numerous times, I got genuine goosebumps watching the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox. Can't wait.

But back to Where the Wild Things Are... I'm not going to post a review like I did for Inglourious Basterds or District 9 (click the links for my reviews), but I would still like to start a discussion in the Comments section for those of you that have seen it. Or even if you haven't, feel free to join in the conversation. It's not like we can spoil the plot for you since almost everyone on the planet has read the book since it is almost 50 years old.

I'll join in the conversation in the Comments section once we get started, but I'll tell you off the top: I loved it. I thought the imagery was amazing, and the story itself was very stirred up some old emotions in me, for sure. Lucas loved it as well, telling me that it may be the best movie of all-time. What did you think?

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009

When the new Foo Fighters video is released, it is perhaps the most expected post in the history of my blog.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009

As I'm watching the beginning of tonight's episode of The Amazing Race, I see the Yoga In The Hood instructors on the opening credits, and I wished we could have seen more of them. Oh YITH...we never knew ya...

On to tonight's episode:

In all the seasons of The Amazing Race, in all the places that they've been in absolutely sweltering heat, I've never seen them anywhere that was so hot and muggy that it was actually fogging up the cameras. That had to have been pretty bad.

Ok, if you're going to go to the Burj Dubai and play up that the teams are going to go to the tallest building in the world, isn't it a tad anti-climactic when all they have to do is take an escorted elevator ride up the building to get a clue and then come back down? I mean, if you're pimping the height, can't you at least put the clue box near the edge? Lame.

The car racing Fast Forward was perfect for Cheyne to do, because his awful hair already looks like he's been driving an F1 car with no helmet on. He did, however, earn some bonus points with me when talking about how he likes to drive fast, and instead of comparing himself to some lame NASCAR driver, he chose to compare himself to Ricky Bobby.
ATTENTION PLEASE: We interrupt your regularly scheduled Amazing Race recap to bring you this week's racist play on words, courtesy of Brian and Ericka, who declared that Ericka would not be doing the desert water search Roadblock because "Chocolate melts in the sun." We now return you to the rest of the recap. (On a side note...thank God that's not actually true, or the Globetrotters would have been screwed.)

I'm not sure if Brian's obsessive helping of the other teams is going to lead to all the good karma he's hoping for. I can see helping your group in this episode so that you all stay ahead of the other group of 4, but pulling over and helping Mika and Canaan didn't make much sense to me.

Wouldn't the desert Roadblock be easier for the second group of teams to just follow the footprints?

Whoa! Wait a second! Looks like this stereotypical thing is catching on...Maria just stated that she impaled the car on a spike because "she's an Asian woman driver."

When I first saw pictures of Ski Dubai a few years back, my initial thought was that it would be a great location for the Amazing Race. I can't believe it took this long for them to put it on the course.

Mika on choosing to build a snowman at the Detour: "I can't sled. I've never done it." You sit and let gravity do the rest. Seems pretty simple. Seriously...I'll say it again - she's beautiful, but not so bright.
Sam and Dan trying to put the nose on the snowman at the Detour, and one of them gripping the carrot in his hand. The other one says: "Just put it in!" You Amazing Race editors are always so sneaky with your hidden innuendos for the gay teams. I'd have about 35 jokes if they weren't brothers.

And now...the weekly section devoted to Lance and Keri (final installment).

When they were leaving the pit stop: "Nothing can tear us APAAAHHT." Cringe.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Lance & Keri get lost yet again, this time in a parkade. Their insightful comment on the topic: "We should have just ran with the other teams." think? You two could get lost in a phone booth, you should definitely not be heading out on your own when you have the option of staying close to the others you are competing with. But then again, remember last week when they got lost in the same hallway as the other teams. (Again, for dramatic effect) IN THE SAME HALLWAY! So maybe that wouldn't work either. I'm thinking that there may be a spin-off show solely featuring Lance and Keri getting lost in different countries around the world.
And if they're not getting lost, they're just going the wrong way. (Cue circus music) East vs. West, left vs. right...taking the exit when they should have stayed on the highway, leading to this exchange:

Lance: "This exit?"
Keri: "No."
Lance: "This exit?"
Keri: "No."
Lance: "This exit?"
Keri: "No!"
(Lance takes the exit)
Keri: "I told you three times!"
Lance: "So we're not supposed to take the exit?"

And how great was the footage on the Roadblock of Lance raging around the sand dunes, digging furtively in the sand for no reason, and then just smashing urns that didn't have water in them. Hulk SMAAAAASH!
At the Ski Dubai Detour, good thing they chose to build the snowman. I think if they went with the sledding option, they somehow would have gotten lost halfway down the hill. And after building one of the worst snowmen I've ever seen, did Lance really ask if he could kick it?

I'm actually sorry to see them go. They were annoying, but they sure were good TV, and great fodder for this weekly post. I'm sure next week's Amazing Race recap will be much shorter with them gone.

October 18, 2009

Today's musical selection is Snow Patrol, a fantastic band from Ireland. I was first introduced to them a few years back with the song I'm featuring here today, and became a big fan of their music in general. I got a chance to see them live in concert twice, first at Kool Haus in Toronto in the fall of 2006 with Augustana, and then again in the spring of 2007 at the Ricoh Coliseum with OK Go and Silversun Pickups. Two fantastic concerts.

The music is great, and the live show is even better. They scored a couple of sweet opening gigs in the past year, opening for both U2 and Coldplay in 2009. If you were Snow Patrol and could pick an opening act slot, who would you choose above U2 and Coldplay? I can't think of anyone.

You probably know Snow Patrol from their hit single, Chasing Cars. I had discovered that song long before it was every used on Grey's Anatomy and became a mainstream radio hit that was played approximately every 19 seconds. As great a song as it still is, I won't subject you to it once again, and instead I give you what I truly believe is their greatest song, Run.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16, 2009

I'm sure everyone has heard about this ridiculous situation that happened yesterday with the young boy in Colorado who was believed to be trapped in a giant helium balloon/spaceship thing. (Are some of you still living under that rock?) I had planned to write a post today about how absurd the media coverage was, but today I saw that one of my favourite bloggers--Erika Olson from According to E and Long Live Locke (both linked to on the sidebar)--had written exactly what I was feeling. So, instead of ranting, I'm directing you to her blog post on the topic at this link. She says it all much better than I can.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15, 2009

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of NCAA basketball, and specifically the Duke Blue Devils. I was a fan back in 1991 and 1992 when they won their back-to-back NCAA Championships, through the lean years of bottom-dwelling in the ACC when Coach Krzyzewski had his back surgery, through to the Championship in 2001, and to today. In 2001, I actually went to the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, and got to see Duke play their first and second round games on their way to the 2001 National Championship.

Back in 1992, Duke played what is generally considered to be the greatest college basketball game in history, and if you’re not familiar with it, you’ll need to know it as background for this story, so allow me to recap what happened. In the East Regional Final, with the winner going to the Final Four, the #1 seed Duke was playing the #2 seed Kentucky. The game was awesome, and appropriately, it went into overtime, where the teams kept trading the lead going into the final minute. With Duke leading 102-101 and the final seconds ticking away, Kentucky scored on a layup to take the lead 103-102 with only 2.1 seconds left on the clock. Duke called a time out and set up their play. They were going to have to go the entire length of the court and score to win the game, which is virtually impossible with only 2.1 seconds left. The only real option is to throw a long inbound pass nearly the entire length of the court, which would have to be right on the money, and THEN still score. So it was looking bleak. Keep in mind that Duke was the defending NCAA champion, and had a 34-2 record, and it all boiled down to this play. If they don’t score, they’re out.

Duke came out of the timeout and set up the play. Christian Laettner was obviously going to get the ball, he was the top player in college basketball, and in this game he was an astounding 9-for-9 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. He hadn’t missed a single shot…I still can barely believe that when I say it. He set up on the foul line, guarded on each side by Kentucky’s 2 biggest players. Grant Hill, who was a rookie at the time, was at the other end of the court as the inbounder. When the referee handed him the ball, he threw a perfect pass over 80 feet into the double team and directly into Laettner’s hands, who turned, dribbled once and put the shot up as the buzzer sounded…and it went in! I get goosebumps just talking about it.

Here’s a clip of the end of the game, sorry about the poor quality, but it’s the best that is available. It was 17 years ago, after all.

So, now that you know all of that, let’s fast forward to 2007. Duke was a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament and they were scheduled to play Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in a first round game to be played in Buffalo, NY. I took the day off of work and headed to Buffalo alone because there was no way I was going to miss a Duke game when they were playing so close, especially in the NCAA Tournament. So I went down for the day and bought a single ticket off of a scalper and went in for the games. Duke vs VCU was the second game of the session, and it was a fantastic game, a back-and-forth battle between the #5 and #12 seeds, and the crowd could sense an upset. Everyone loves an upset if you have no affiliation to either team.
Heading into the final seconds, VCU had the ball and their hot hand was Erick Maynor, who had been hitting big shots for the entire game. He dribbled in and put up a shot that went in and gave VCU the lead with only 1.8 seconds left. Duke called a time out.

Sound familiar?

So, as Duke is in the time out, I say to the guy beside me (who I had been chatting with throughout the game), “Oh my God, this is the Laettner play. This exactly the same!” And then, you could hear the murmurs in the crowd as everybody realized the same thing…it was very surreal watching and hearing it without being able to explain what exactly was happening. Then, as if the scoreboard operator knew what we all knew, the giant screen above the court showed a picture of Christian Laettner…who was in the seats a few rows behind the Duke bench. Are you kidding me? He’s here? He’s just a few sections away from me?! The crowd went nuts since he’s from Angola, just outside of Buffalo.

Well, as much as I’d love to tell you that Duke made a spectacular play to win the game in the same fashion, unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and their last-second attempt missed, eliminating them from the NCAA Tournament in the first round. But the second that final buzzer sounded, I took off like a bullet out of my section and raced towards the section behind the Duke bench. I got there as people were filing out of the stands, and I tried to make my way down the stairs towards the bench. With everyone heading out, and me heading down, it was like a salmon fighting against the current to swim upstream, but I eventually found my way down to his row, which had emptied except for him. He was standing there talking to J.J. Redick’s parents, and he had his back to me about 8 seats into the row.

I walked into the row and up behind him just as he was finishing up his conversation. He turned around just as I got to him, and was slightly startled to see someone there, naturally. I said to him, “I know it’s not the greatest moment right now with the team losing, but I saw you here and had to come over and say hello. I don’t need an autograph or a picture, but I really enjoyed watching you play, and you’re essentially the reason I’m a Duke fan. I just wanted to shake your hand and say thanks.” He looked kind of stunned at first, and then smiled and said, “Oh man, that’s so cool. Everybody always wants something!” And then he gave me the half-handshake, half-hug, and said, “Thanks for coming over to tell me that, I really appreciate it.”

Laugh at me if you must, but I was like a giddy little kid, it was great moment. I head off on a solo day trip, and get to meet one of my favourite players of all-time, and a huge reason why I’m a Duke fan. I hardly even cared that Duke lost the game.

That’s a pretty good day if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14, 2009

Following the theme of last week's Cover Version, here is another old-school rap track covered in an unexpected way, Dynamite Hack's Boyz In The Hood. Click here if you want to hear the original version by Eazy E for a frame of reference. Warning: Not safe for work, contains strong language.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009

Last Wednesday I was working on a Lego set with Lucas when I got phone call from my friend Norm, who told me that after months of trying, he just got a call from The Late Show with David Letterman telling him that he had won tickets to go to a taping. That's pretty exciting news on it's own, but even more when he asked me to go with him. I said, "Of course, as long as the date works out."

"Well, here's the thing.." he said, "It's for tomorrow afternoon, so we would have to be on a plane first thing in the morning." I asked how long we had to figure it out, and he told me that he had to let them know in the next half hour.

Now keep in mind that this is just after 7 pm on Wednesday night, and I would have to be ON the plane in just over 10 hours. So I have under half an hour to make arrangements for Lucas and take the day off of work, but after a number of phone calls, it all worked out, and I called Norm to let him know that I could go.

But then, I went to get my passport and couldn't find it. Are you kidding me!? After racing to get everything organized so that I could go, now I can't find my passport? I literally tore apart every room in the house, and after about an hour, I was just about to call Norm and tell him the bad news when I found it buried under some papers on my desk.

So, after about 3 hours of sleep, I'm up at 3:20 am, off to Mississauga for 4:45, and at the airport at 5:15 for a 6:15 flight from Toronto to JFK. And at about 7:30 am on Thursday morning, approximately 12 hours after the initial phone call from Norm, I'm in New York City.

I've done a fair bit of traveling, but believe it or not, even with 25 years as a die-hard Yankees fan, I've never been to New York City before. This was the first time. We had essentially 6 hours before we had to be at the Ed Sullivan Theater to get our tickets prior to the taping, so we had to cram in as much as possible, because we would be heading back to the airport right after the taping to catch an evening flight back home.
We hopped on the LIRR train into the city, and got off at Penn Station. It was something else stepping out onto a NYC street for the very first time. We took a quick walk around the area, seeing Madison Square Garden and The Empire State Building (but didn't go to the top), and then hopped in a cab to head to one of our planned destinations. On the cab ride there, we drove by Washington Square Park, and I recognized the tell-tale arch at the North entrance, and later in the day, I wished we would have stopped there for a bit, because I would have loved to see the Scrabble players that play in the park every day. (They were featured in a 2004 documentary called Word Wars which was fantastic, and should be watched by anyone that plays Scrabble.)

I'm a big fan of When Harry Met Sally, and the classic scene where Sally fakes an orgasm while having lunch with Harry (see clip below) was filmed at Katz's Delicatessen in New York City. So, we decided to go there for breakfast and for the tourist-y aspect of me seeing it. It was a pretty cool place, and they have a sign up to commemorate the exact table where the scene was filmed. It wasn't very busy at 9:30 am, so luckily we got the table, and took a bunch of pictures. (On a side note, I love that in the clip--from 1988--the neon sign on the back wall says "Soda - 80 Cents", and in our picture, the same sign says "Soda - $2.50")

After that, it was a quick walk to find a cab, and play "Spot the Tranny" (I know that one had an Adam's Apple!) before heading back up to Times Square. We actually left the cab a couple of blocks south of Times Square, just to be able to walk a little more and see some more parts of the city. I mean, with only 6 hours, it's limited how much I could see, but we were content to stay near Times Square and the surrounding blocks, which is where the Ed Sullivan Theater is located. Norm has been to NYC lots of times, so he was deferring to me in terms of where we went, but it was great to have him as my tour guide to suggest where to go, and know how to get there.

So, we were walking up to Times Square, and passed the New York City Public Library. Being that I work with libraries in Canada, I wanted to go in and take a look, and it was a pretty amazing building. One of the funniest things, though, was when we came out, and we saw this area that was listed as a "Quiet Zone", and standing almost right above the sign, was a guy on a cell phone.
If I hadn't been to Las Vegas numerous times, then I'm sure Times Square would have been overwhelming, but luckily I'm used to the flashing lights, oversized signs, and hustle and bustle of pedestrian traffic. It was quite an experience, though, and I wished that I could have seen it at night instead of just during the day. But I wasn't prepared to complain about anything considering that a mere 16 hours ago, I was expecting to be at work at this time instead of Times Square.
We headed over to Rockefeller Center, which was one of the places that I had said I wanted to see, and it was really neat now having the perspective of where everything is instead of just how you see it on TV. It was one of my favourite spots of the day. And just a block away was St. Patrick's Cathedral, where we went inside and saw that they were just beginning the noon Mass. It was quite an impressive sight inside.

Then it was back to the heart of Times Square for lunch, where Norm had said he wanted to take me to Carmine's, an Italian restaurant on 44th street. When we walked by it on the way up, we stopped to look at the menu, and even though I should have been full from a huge breakfast at Katz's, my mouth was watering at the the options. I had no idea what I was going to choose.

We sat at the bar, and decided that we would get the veal cutlet hero sandwich and the meatball hero sandwich, and just take half of each so we could have both. First of all, both sandwiches were on nice, big, fresh, traditional Italian buns, and they were big enough so that they could easily have been shared by one person. The veal cutlet was fantastic, but the meatballs were even better. They were gigantic (see below), and were, without a doubt, the best meatballs I've ever had not made by a member of my own family. It was heartbreaking that we couldn't have had more of the menu...if we were there longer, I would have wanted to go back for dinner, and lunch the next day.
After lunch it was time to head to the Ed Sullivan Theater for the show, so we walked the 8 or 9 blocks up to the theater, which was a good way to work off that HUGE lunch. We waited in line to get our tickets, and after we got them at around 2:45, they told us to come back at 3:30 for entry to the theater. So we hovered around the stage door watching the paparazzi waiting for Kristin Davis to arrive, and met Rupert Jee from the Hello Deli, and Biff Henderson (pictures in post #2), but then it was time to head inside for the taping.
The theater was so much smaller than I expected, it looks so much bigger on TV. We were seated directly in the middle row, and directly in the middle of that row...the exact center of the audience area. They started up with some upbeat songs to get everyone clapping and happy (like Jet's She's a Genius - woo-hoo!), then the warmup comedian came out, followed by the band, who performed Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones and Synchronicity by the Police. Paul Shaffer came out after that, and then David Letterman himself came out to talk to us briefly.

He explained to us that the last two nights, the audiences he had weren't that good, and he thought it was due to the fact that he didn't talk about his recent "legal matter." He then told us that for legal reasons, he wouldn't be talking about it on the show anymore, so that we shouldn't expect that to be a topic. He made a few jokes, asked for audience questions, and then went backstage as the show started immediately at 4:30 pm.

The guests were Kristin Davis and Barry Sonnenfeld, and it was a pretty decent show. The most amazing thing was watching the band, and how they adjust to how much time is left in the break, wrapping things up early if necessary, or stretching it out. Very very impressive. The show itself was great, it was an awesome experience. It's too bad that no cameras were allowed inside the theater, so we obviously couldn't get any pictures from inside.

After the show, we hopped a cab and headed back to Penn Station, where we took the LIRR back to JFK for our intended 7:45 pm flight to Toronto. Norm works for an airline, and had made all of our arrangements, which meant we were flying standby. It looked like we weren't going to make the Toronto flight since it was overbooked, so we tried to get on an 8:00 pm flight to Detroit, which was in another terminal. But we were unable to change my ticket in time, so we couldn't get that one either.

A few phone calls and a slight bit of frustration later (I wasn't letting anything ruin this day!), we found out concretely that we were stuck until the morning. It was a very "Amazing Race" moment. So we got booked on a 6:30 am flight out of LaGuardia, and tried to figure out what to do for the night. There are far worse situations that we could have found ourselves in than being stuck in New York City for the night. (Can you say Colorado Springs?)

We discussed heading back to Manhattan and seeing the city at night, and doing something there, but we were both already so exhausted from lack of sleep and going all day, that we decided to just get a hotel near LaGuardia so we could take a shuttle in to the airport in the morning. So we went to the hotel, and checked into our room which had a perfect view of Citi Field, the New York Mets' new stadium that just replaced Shea Stadium this year. After that, we parked ourself in the restaurant watching playoff baseball with a bucket of ice cold beers, a platter of wings, a plate of calamari, and a traditional Margherita pizza...all of which were awesome.

Then the fatigue hit us and we crashed just as we were watching Letterman start his show. 5 hours later, we were up again and on the shuttle to LaGuardia. When we got on the shuttle, it was a bit of a shock driving through the residential area seeing the bars on everyone's windows. If we were groggy, however, the shuttle driver took care of that by blaring Led Zeppelin's Kashmir and The Who's Pinball Wizard on the ride.

So, the flight went off without a hitch, and we landed back in Toronto at about 7:45 am...almost exactly 36 hours after that initial phone call. It was quite a whirlwind adventure, and it was awesome. Thanks to Norm for making it happen, and including me on the trip.

We took lots of pictures that day, but I didn't want this post to be too full of pics, so I've added a second post with more pictures from the day. Remember to mouse over the picture for captions.

October 12, 2009

Here's a selection of some of the pics from our day trip to New York City and the Late Show With David Letterman taping. Just a reminder to mouse over the pictures for the captions underneath.