Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010

- The last couple of weeks have been tough because I've been craving a Coke more than ever. I've come close a couple of times, but still was able to fight it off. This week I had mentally decided I couldn't do it any longer, but still hadn't had one.

Then on Wednesday, I was on my way to Guelph to announce a basketball game, and the craving was so intense, that I stopped at McDonald's and got a Coke in the drive-thru. I had it in the car, but still didn't take a drink. When I got inside, I got my stuff all unpacked and then as my friends Maureen and Jill watched...I took my first drink of Coke in almost half a year.

And it was possibly the best Coke I've ever had.

I had been hoping that being away so long would de-sensitize my taste buds to the flavour of Coke, and that maybe it would be too sweet for me now, but alas, the glorious nectar was better than ever. I guzzled it down and then bought a 12-pack today.

I tried, I really did. But I was already drinking other pops, and not enjoying them. I had to go back.

And yes, I know that it's 22 teaspoons of sugar, and what it does to my body, and the rusty nail experiment, and all the other blah blah blah things...but it's not like I took up smoking.

Maybe I should...
- We're 5 days away from the premiere of Lost, and I'm going in blind. During the season, and generally in the off-season, I'll devour as much information as possible, reading everything I can on the show. But heading into next Tuesday's premiere episode, I've been avoiding everything. I want to be completely out of the loop when I sit down to watch it.

I've also decided that I'm going to be writing a Lost post after every episode. Now, these aren't going to be theory-based recaps like you'll see on DarkUFO, or Long Live Locke, or from Doc Jensen. This will just be my own thoughts after each episode, and I'm going to try and get them up before midnight every Tuesday.

For those of you that weren't caught up last season, I know that some of you have now caught up with Season 6 (way to go, Jenn!), so I will no longer be putting the 'STOP READING' warnings like last season. You'll just want to avoid Tuesday night's posts if you're not caught up.

So, on that note, here's a video that you Lost fans will enjoy. It's a spliced together version of the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, from all the different perspectives, in real-time. Whoever did it, did an awesome job. I highly recommend that you take 10 minutes and watch it right through.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010

I read a disturbing news story today about a school in the U.S. that banned the dictionary. No…you read that correctly, they banned the dictionary! A school district in Southern California decided that the entry for “oral sex” was objectionable and offensive, after a group of parents complained. They further explained that they will also be performing “a thorough scouring of the dictionary for other offensive entries”

I don’t even know where to start with this one.

Seriously? The dictionary? Are we now so concerned with not offending anyone that we are going to be censoring reference materials? In a world of NASCAR, Larry The Cable Guy, and Golden Corral All-You-Can-Eat buffets, the American public can no longer learn that oral sex is “oral stimulation of the genitals”? (that’s the actual definition in the entry that prompted the ban) To be honest, I’m offended at the definition itself, because I think that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary should be providing a more comprehensive definition than that.

But apparently, that definition is offensive. Apparently no one in this section of Southern California knows anything about oral sex. Maybe it just doesn’t exist in the San Diego area? Highly unlikely. I would love to be there to see the “thorough scouring” of the dictionary by the school district. What else will be deemed offensive? What about ‘genocide’? That seems like a pretty offensive concept…why not make sure kids never hear about that either? Are they not going to allow kids to look up that a “pussy” is a cat, or that a “cock” is a rooster?

Yes, I understand the dictionary that was banned was a higher-level dictionary than the school it was intended for, but the fact remains that the item that led to the ban was the term “oral sex”, not the dictionary itself. It wasn’t just replaced, it was removed, banned, and the ‘thorough scouring’ promised.

And this isn’t the only ridiculous story regarding the banning of books that came from our Southern neighbours this week. In this fantastic nugget of a story, the State Board of Education in Texas banned Bill Martin’s books from all of their libraries. Bill Martin’s books include Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? However, the apparent intent of the ban was due to a book by Bill Martin entitled Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation, which was flagged because it contained “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.” Now, I’m annoyed enough that it was banned based on the content, but here’s the kicker…it’s a different Bill Martin!

Bill Martin the picture book author died in 2004, while the other Bill Martin is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University. But the board, in their infinite wisdom—and please keep in mind that this is the State Board, not some rinky-dink backwater municipality—decided that ‘Bill Martin” should be banned.

The real kicker in all of this is that in the ensuing shitstorm that this inevitably created, it was discovered that the key members of the board didn’t even read the books. I’ll repeat that…THEY DIDN’T EVEN READ THE BOOKS! And then went on to say that they didn’t do “any research”. They just blindly followed the suggestion of one board member.

Remember these stories the next time you hear someone complain about the American education system.

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25, 2010

Those of you that know me, or read here regularly, can undoubtedly tell that I can be pretty sarcastic. It’s just how I operate. Obviously, it’s not for everyone, but it has always amazed me when I encounter people that have no comprehension of the concept. By that I mean that they have no idea when a comment is intended sarcastically, in jest, tongue-in-cheek, etc… I’m sure we’ve all encountered people in our lives that just don’t get it. I don’t blame them, they’re just not hard-wired to understand it.

Take my ex-mother-in-law for instance. (And let’s all take a moment to just revel in the phrase ‘ex-mother-in-law', shall we?) This woman just could not understand that sometimes a spoken sentence was not to be taken at face value. For instance, just prior to my brother’s 40th birthday, we were having dinner, and I said to my brother, “This is the big one coming up, isn’t it?” And my brother responded, ‘Yep, it’s my 30th!”, to which I responded, “Wait a minute! Are you telling me all this time that I’ve been older than you!?”

(Now, please keep in mind that my brother is 9 ½ years older than me.)

My mother-in-law comes over to me and looks me square in the eye, and says calmly to me, “Sean, you were right. Your brother’s actually going to be 40.”

So, let me get this straight…she thinks that: a) I don’t know how old my own brother is; b) that I’m unclear on which one of us is older?; and c) that I’m OFF BY TEN YEARS!? Really?

My Uncle Mike is the same way. I love him to death, but he just doesn’t understand the concept. Years ago, for my mother’s birthday, we had a family brunch at a restaurant in Burlington, just on the shore of Lake Ontario. It was March, and it was still pretty cold outside. While we were having brunch and looking out over the lake, I saw a group of young kids playing on the rocks down by the water. As a parent, I quickly realized how unsafe it was, and I said to my Uncle Francesco, who was sitting beside me, “Well, if they fall in, at least the water isn’t cold this time of year.”

Uncle Mike leans across the table, puts his hand on top of mine and looks sternly at me, dead serious, and says, “Actually Sean, the water is quite cold this time of year.”

This is what I’m talking about. It’s not a flaw, it’s just the way that some people operate. You either get it or you don’t.

Now, fast forward to this past weekend, and I’m preparing some food on Saturday for dinner on Sunday. I saw a recipe on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that called for pieces of steak to be marinated in garlic and olive oil which had been roasted together. So I peeled about 40 cloves of garlic (no joke) and roasted them with the oil and salt, then let it cool and added the beef, sliced off of a roast, and let it marinate for 24 hours.

In short, the house smelled like garlic, our clothes smelled like garlic, the car smelled like garlic, the barbecue smelled like garlic…everything smelled like garlic.

When we were eating dinner, Lucas turns to me and says “Well, at least there’s not a lot of garlic in this.”

My son is only 8 years old, and not only does he understand the concept of sarcasm, he can use it correctly!

Like father, like son.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010

- This whole Conan O’Brien / Jay Leno / Tonight Show fiasco has been making news for over a week now, and I’m not going to re-hash what everyone already knows, but I will say that it has made the late night talk shows “Must See TV” since the news broke. Tell me honestly that you’re not going to watch Conan’s final show on Friday night.

I love watching Conan get his digs in, but even more so, I am enjoying watching David Letterman zing NBC night after night. I remember when Letterman was slighted in favour of Leno, and left NBC to go to CBS…and the bitterness at the time. It’s interesting to watch him now, established at CBS with a much better show than he ever would have had at NBC, and think back to that time. I would hope that next week, David Letterman has Conan O’Brien as a guest.

What is it about Jay Leno that makes him such an untouchable commodity? Does anyone find him funny? Or his show anything but a formulaic template that anyone with an ability to speak in public and any semblance of comic timing could do?

(On a side note, anyone who doesn’t think that Craig Ferguson is the funniest thing on late night television should really evaluate their sense of humour)
- Today, CBS announced the cast for the new season of The Amazing Race, which premieres on February 14th. As I reported here back in early December, Jeff and Jordan from last season's Big Brother are contestants, as is former Miss Teen South Carolina Caitlin Upton. Don't remember her? Check out this clip, which I NEVER get tired of watching.

- NBA All-Star weekend is coming up soon, and while Lucas and I enjoyed watching it together last year, let’s be honest, the Saturday night 3-point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest aren’t nearly what they used to be. Yes, Dwight Howard re-invigorated the dunk contest, and last year Lebron James declared he would be in it this year, but neither of them will be competing, and it will be the same group of players that are on the periphery of the NBA.

I figured out a way to make the All-Star Saturday night more entertaining. You take your players that are registered for the 3-point Shootout and you take your players that are registered for the Slam Dunk Contest…and you switch them. That’s right, take the dunkers and make them shoot threes, and take the shooters and make them dunk. It wouldn’t make any highlight reels, but can you honestly tell me it wouldn’t be ridiculously entertaining?

-Joseph Gordon-Levitt may have the most punchable face on the planet. Am I wrong? I mean, he was annoying as a kid on 3rd Rock From The Sun, so I’m sure we all saw this coming. Although to be fair, when you’re on-screen with John Lithgow, by default you top out at the “second most annoying person on-screen” at the time.
- In last week’s post on Mark McGwire and his admission that he used steroids, I stated that the next few days would be interesting to see, and wondered what the backlash would be, if any. Well, it has been pretty one-sided, with names like Goose Gossage, Carlton Fisk, and Jack Clark piling on McGwire and other steroid users. I couldn’t be happier to see some class acts speak out against McGwire and the rest of the cheaters who have tainted the ‘steroid era’ in baseball.

- I want to make this for dessert next time I have people over. Seriously, how awesome is this? (Thanks to Matt for sending it in.)
- I have no idea how this ad relates to the product, but I do know that it is hilarious. I nearly spit my drink all over the screen at the 1:12 mark.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010

I was watching TV last night and a commercial came on with an animated man snorkeling in some tropical locale. Then, the voice-over on the ad warned that “Traveler’s Diarrhea can strike anywhere”, as the man’s eyes bugged open and he swam furiously for shore.

Where do I start?

First of all, when did “Traveler’s Diarrhea” become something so specific? Perhaps I’m over-reacting, but isn’t it just “diarrhea when you happen to be on vacation?” Ok, I get that there is an actual condition (please don’t send me the Wiki page), but it seems like it’s more of a general description than an actual affliction.

What’s so different about Traveler’s Diarrhea compared to regular diarrhea? Does it make your passport disintegrate? Is there a luggage-related element that I’m missing? If you’re in Jamaica, and you have dinner with someone who lives on the Island, and you both eat the same thing that affects your body adversely, are you the only one that will be in the bathroom later since you’re the traveler? Is the resident immune?

Yes, I know I’m exaggerating and being ridiculous. It's by design because it's just so absurd.
The end of the commercial, which sees our poor snorkeler waiting in line for the bathroom with his legs crossed, declared that you should visit a website “for tips on how to prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea.” Hey, here’s an idea…when you get off the plane in Mexico, don’t be popping ice cubes in your mouth. No need to visit a website or buy your fancy-named Immodium.

What irks me even more, is that because of this ad, I’ve now used the word ‘diarrhea’ seven times in this post, which is seven times more than the 350+ posts up until now.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17, 2010

- For those of you following my ongoing efforts to kick my Coca-Cola habit, here's an update for you. It's been almost 5 months now, and still I haven't had a Coke. Yes, I'm still drinking some pop periodically, but much less...and no Coke. Lately, it's been getting harder and harder. I've almost caved a few times. When we were in Niagara Falls for New Year's, I actually had a bottle of Coke in my hands and was ready to buy it at the store we were in, but my girlfriend talked me out of it. I have a feeling I'm going to break soon.

It's not a factor, but in one of the big ironies of life, one of the presents my girlfriend got me for Christmas was a Coke bottle commemorating the year that Duke won the NCAA Championship for the first time. It's awesome, and has the team logo, and all the games, dates, and scores on the back. It was a great gift, and although it is a bottle of Coke, I'm not tempted at all, since I don't want to know what Coke tastes like after 19 years in a bottle.
- Speaking of Duke, yes...I know that they lost last week, but Carolina lost to Clemson, and that makes me incredibly happy. UNC is now 12-6 on the season, and 1-2 in the ACC. I like it.

- My niece Emma is celebrating her 19th birthday today, and I'm feeling really old. It seems like just yesterday I remember her being born and skipping my afternoon chemistry class with Mrs. Barnes to drive to Toronto in a snowstorm to see her. She's out in British Columbia now, having a great time at school, and writing her own blog. Happy Birthday Ems!

- I've really been enjoying writing for The CIS Blog. If you haven't checked it out yet, make sure to stop by some posts are usually up on Wednesday and on the weekends.

- On Friday night, my girlfriend and I were going to the Guelph Storm game, and since we were planning on having a beverages at the game, we didn't really want to we decided to take the bus. My god, it's been almost 20 years since I've taken the bus, and I realized it when I got on the bus with a crumpled $5 bill (fare is $2.50 now!) and looked for the slot to drop it in, and the bus driver had to instruct me to unfold it and put it in the bill acceptor. Buses have Bill Acceptors now!

I'm old.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12, 2010

Season 6 premieres three weeks from tonight!

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010

Mark McGwire announced today that he used steroids.

Um...well, duh.

Let's put this one in the 'least-shocking-news-I've-heard-since-Clay-Aiken-announced-he-was-gay" category. I knew it, non-baseball fans knew it, I'm guessing that unborn children even knew it. Everyone knew Mark McGwire used steroids...apparently McGwire himself was the last one to join the knowledge party.

So now he 'comes clean' admitting that he used steroids and HGH when he played baseball, including the 1998 season that saw him break Roger Maris's single season home run record. McGwire says that it's because his role as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting instructor motivated him to tell the truth. Can you picture Mark McGwire as a hitting coach?

McGwire walks up to Joe Mather with a syringe...

Mark - "Bend over, Joe. Time for your hitting lesson."
Joe - "Uh...Mark, we don't do that anymore."
Mark - "It's ok, if anyone asks, just say you don't want to talk about the past."
But all joking aside, let's be real. This announcement has nothing to do with his job with the Cards, and everything to do with the number 23.7, which is the percentage of votes that McGwire received in the Hall of Fame voting last week. This is an obvious attempt to go the David Letterman/Andy Pettitte route of admitting your mistakes, since his Tiger Woods act just wasn't working.

I doubt it will make a difference. It isn't like he has shown any real contrition, maintaining that his use of steroids and HGH was to heal quicker due to injuries, and not to improve his hitting. Let's all roll our eyes at the same time, shall we? I think I can see my brain.

To be fair, his admission is only a couple of hours old as I write this, but I'm interested to see what happens in the next couple of days.

Thoughts? Does this change your opinion of him?

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8, 2010

Being a baseball fan, the first week of January is always an exciting time since the Hall of Fame voting results are released. It’s always a favourite venture of mine to try and predict who will be voted in and who will miss out. This year I predicted that Andre Dawson and Roberto Alomar would both be elected, and that Bert Blyleven would once again fall short, but still be close. Two out of three ain’t bad.

I was happy to see that Andre Dawson was finally elected, as he definitely had a career that deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. I always found him to be a great player, and a seemingly genuine person. (Check out this article which speaks to his character). There’s something to be said for that character, especially in an era that we’re generally talking about steroids more than home runs (more on that below). Now, the question arises as to what hat he will wear in the Hall of Fame…will it be the Expos or The Cubs?

There are good arguments for both sides, as Dawson spent 10 years with the Expos, including the years that he built his reputation as one of the National League’s top hitters. But the 6 years he spent with the Cubs were obviously with a higher profile city and team, and therefore garnered him much more exposure than playing in a lost market like Montreal. It will be interesting to see what the Hall of Fame committee decides.

And that brings up another point, that the Hall of Fame decides what cap players wear now, instead of the player selecting it. You can blame Wade Boggs and Gary Carter for this, as they both declared that they wanted to be enshrined as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray and a New York Met, respectively. Boggs specifically requested the Tampa Bay hat to be used for his plaque because he reportedly was going to get financial compensation for it, as well as consideration for a front office job with the club. Because of this, “the Hall decided in 2001 to change its practice of deferring to players' wishes regarding cap logo selection, and reinforced the Hall's authority to determine with which cap the player would be depicted.” (Wikipedia)
I have no problem with the Hall deciding the hat, but it’s unfortunate that it is necessary due to the ridiculous actions of a Hall of Fame player who clearly doesn’t exhibit Hall of Fame character. Personally, I think that Andre Dawson should go into the Hall of Fame as an Expo. What do you think?

I was surprised, but not shocked, to see that Roberto Alomar didn’t get in this year. With 73.7% in his first year, he will undoubtedly get the necessary 75% next year, but I am of the opinion that he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I’m sure the Hirschbeck spitting incident played in to some of the voting, but I don’t think that one incident can define his career, although it did tarnish his legacy in a big way. From a statistical and overall player standpoint, Alomar is definitely a Hall of Famer, and next year at this time, we will talking about how exciting it is for him to be going in as a Blue Jay.
The next few years are certainly going to be interesting with the Hall of Fame votes. The writers are sending a very clear message with Mark McGwire barely receiving consideration, and with Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens all coming up on the ballot in the next couple of years, it is going to be a very interesting time.

What do you think? When it comes to Hall of Fame voting, should character be considered? If you had a vote, would the spitting incident be relevant to your decision? And could you vote for a player who used performance enhancing drugs?

Let’s start a discussion in the Comments section, I want your thoughts on this one.

January 8, 2010

Words can't even explain how ridiculous this clip is from Wheel of Fortune earlier this week, so I won't even try. Trust me, just watch it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010

As many of you know, I am heavily involved in OUA Basketball, as a fan, announcer, and broadcaster. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know about a new addition to the mix, as I am now writing for The CIS Blog. I will be writing a couple of times a week, specifically on the OUA West. I will be adding a link to the sidebar so that it is easily accessible for anyone interested in reading my analysis of OUA Basketball. The first post went up tonight and there will be another one in the morning. I hope you'll check it out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4, 2010

I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year. I figure that everyone is back to work or school as of today, so I’d better get back to regular business on the blog.For New Year’s Eve, I spent a couple of days at Niagara Falls with my girlfriend. We had a hotel right above Clifton Hill, and had a good combination of shopping, meals, casinos, and New Year’s Celebrations. We started off on by heading across the border for a specific shopping excursion…a trip to get Rolling Rock. Well, that turned into a few new items of clothing, a new pair of shoes, and two new watches before we even got to the Grocery Store to get the beer. Standing in line at Tops Friendly Supermarkets in Niagara Falls, New York, I was both complimented and grammatically insulted at the same time when the clerk asked, “Can I see one of your guys’es ID’s.” I mean, at 36 years old, who isn’t happy to be asked for ID, but ‘your guys’es’?

For New Year’s Eve, we had a great dinner at The Keg overlooking the Falls, and then we were going to head over to Casino Niagara. We had parked just across the road behind a Brazilian Steakhouse, in a narrow lot that was accessed through a small alley. As we were walking to our car, we saw a silver Lexus trying to turn around since there were no spots left in the lot. There was a woman driving and a man was standing outside as she was trying to turn the car around. As she was backing up, we heard a loud CRUNCH as she backed into a thick metal fence.

“What the F**k!?”, yelled the man.

The woman lowered the driver’s side window and said “What? I didn’t see it!”

“It’s right there!”, he yelled back, pointing at the fence.

“Oh yeah!”, she yelled back at him accusingly, “Like YOU know how to back up!!”

Wow. Happy New Year.

It always amazes me how someone can do something wrong and find a way to spin an insult on the other person. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this man should have been yelling at his wife/girlfriend/date, but for her to spin back that he was a bad driver while he wasn’t EVEN IN THE CAR was pretty entertaining. Luckily we were leaving, so they got our parking spot, and we could leave in good conscience knowing that we prevented further fence/car damage and domestic disharmony.

We headed over to Casino Niagara for a few hours where I played poker for a bit, and had a pretty fun table. There was a guy at my table named Anthony who had been raising some interesting amounts. First he raised to $18 and showed pocket tens at the end of the hand. Next time he raised it was to $16 and ended up being pocket 8’s. He later raised to $10 and I guessed pocket 3’s (it ended up being pocket 6’s). So a while later, when he raised to $17, I asked him out loud “Pocket 9’s?” and he smirked when the flop came 9 high. He bet, everyone folded and he showed pocket 9’s, then pointed at me, smiling, and said “Stop calling out my hands!”

The very next hand, he limped for $2, and as soon as he did, I guessed out loud again “Eight-Nine of clubs?” just as a random guess. His face turned white and he said “Are you kidding me!?” I thought he was just selling the joke, but his jaw was on the floor, so I’m thinking to myself…was I actually right? The flop was Ace-7-Ten with 2 clubs, so 8-9 of clubs would be a pretty great hand. He just looked at me incredulously as he bet, and got 1 caller. The turn was the 6 of hearts, so 8-9 would now make the best possible hand, and he shook his head again as he bet. The other player folded and he showed the table the 8 of clubs before giving his cards to the dealer. He told me later that the other card was the 9 of hearts. I have no idea if he was telling me the truth or not, but I have to think he had no reason to lie.

We were about to leave the casino and head back to get ready to go down to the Falls for midnight, but the U.S.-Canada hockey game in the World Junior Championships was still on, and we had watched Canada come back from a 4-2 deficit in the third period to tie it and send it to overtime, and then to a shootout. Just before we left, we stopped to watch the shootout with dozens of other people crowded around the bar, and it was pretty exciting when Canada won the game.

After the casino, we went back to the hotel and bundled up before heading down to the concert by the Falls. I had told my girlfriend earlier in the year that I didn’t want to go stand out in the cold and watch some crappy old Canadian band like Loverboy, or Honeymoon Suite, or Glass Tiger perform. When we found out the lineup for the concert a few weeks ago, I was happy that the headliner was Styx, who I really like, and have seen in concert before. But the other band….was Glass Tiger. Luckily, we didn’t get down there until after 11:00, and they were already finished, so I didn’t have to see them.
We did the countdown, and then watched a great fireworks display, which I took video of on my camera and have no idea how to post on here (if anyone knows, please email me at Despite a blog with 350+ posts, I’m still relatively technologically retarded.) The fireworks were right over the Falls and coming off of the Skylon Tower, which then looked like it was on fire…and not in a good way…it was like a scene out of a Die Hard movie. Even better was after the fireworks were done, we could see across the river to the American side, and their piddly little fireworks show that looked like someone was lighting off Roman Candles in their backyard.

I had to laugh on the way back to the hotel, walking up Clifton Hill in the snow and seeing all the party girls walking around with no jackets on and these tiny little dresses outside. I get it if you're inside somewhere, but walking around outside? And some of these brainiacs even had bare feet. Happy New Year...enjoy your hypothermia!

All in all it was a great trip, and a fantastic way to ring in the New Year. Looking forward to a great 2010!

* On a side note, it was last year at this time that I closed down the blog temporarily and re-launched it with a new focus. After the response I’ve received from all of you, including over 12,000 hits in 2009 (which still blows my mind), visits from 40 countries, and 37 of the 50 United States…I am very pleased with the decision I made. 2009 was a turning point for me, and things are only getting better. Once again, I offer a very heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you for giving me a reason to write again. It’s been a blast, and I look forward to the future.