Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Liberal vs. Conservative -- A Pictorial Comparison

I stumbled upon this picture after someone posted it on Twitter or Facebook or the numerous other sites I gallivant about to on the internet. I think, it is an interesting pictorial comparison between liberals and conservatives. Though of course, it is fitting both groups into a neat box and I don't think any actual person would follow that exact description, even if they describe themselves as a Liberal or Conservative. I know personally I would describe most of my views to be of the liberal persuasion, but that doesn't mean that side of the picture/comic/graph describes my views or person accurately.

Actually, I sort of felt the conservatives were described in a fairly negative way in the graph/picture/graphic. But maybe that is only because I have more liberal views, and thus can't relate to a conservative mind set. At the same time, I have people who are quite close to me that would call themselves conservatives but I know that description is not accurate for them. Maybe the bigger issue is the apparent need to describe who we are with such neat terms like conservative and liberal.

I also had a bit of an issue with the terms equality and equity. Though it may just be a matter of how the creator decided to define those terms compared to how I was made to understand them during my taking of Anthropology and Human Right courses in University. I would think equity would fit into a liberal framework rather fine, and that equality would work with a conservative mindset. Then again, on the Liberal side, equality is defined as 'creating a level playing field.' This is how I would choose to also describe equity.

I would think most liberals would be under the belief that due to a history of social injustice and countless other mitigating factors, it is impossible for true equality. Instead, the goal is to try to make sure there is a level and fair playing field. This is why you would see things like affirmative action, or tax cuts focused on specific groups, or things like reparations. It is attempts to get people who are born into an unfair advantage an opportunity to achieve true success. I've often had that described to me as equity, because you are not necessarily treating all people the same (which you would if you were being equal). But again, you are not treating all people the same because not every person has had a fair chance, thus the leveling of the playing field.

On the conservative side, I would think the belief is that you do treat people equal. There is often an opposition towards affirmative action or social programs or benefits given to a specific group. The argument is that it isn't far or being equal when you target a particular group. You often have the mindset that since one person had to work hard for success, then the other person should have to work just as hard without any help. Even if you disagree with that philosophy, I would say that the conservative does believe they are being equal.

Then again, the different views of equality are probably one of the major things that separates a liberal and conservative. Which is probably why things like social reforms or various government programs or even matters like reparations, can cause such a major rift and seed of contention between the two political groups. Of course, I realize there is more than just your basic conservative and liberal when it comes political views. And again, you can have varying degrees of conservatism or liberalism, especially depending on what the issue is.

Despite all that, I still think it is a worthwhile cartoon/graph/picture which can open up some discussion from both sides. Though mainly because I think it allows one side to argue why there description was inaccurate, thus triggering a dialogue for better understanding. Or if a person happens to love everything that is described about them, it allows for an opportunity to explain why they have that mindset or belief in place. I'd be interested to read others thoughts.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Farewell Shawn Michaels (For Now)

For all the readers that absolutely despise when I devote a post to wrestling, let me save you the rage fit and advise you to skip out on this one.

Since about 1993, 'The Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels has been one of my favourite wrestlers. He had all the cockiness and charisma that I loved, but could also outperform almost anyone when it came to putting on an athletic wrestling match. I was such a huge fan of him, that on two occasions, I played Shawn Michaels in wrestling shows put on by my youth group. Why did my youth group put on wrestling shows? Well, that is an entirely different story that I will ignore but the fact was, I loved Michaels enough that I wanted to pretend to be him for an evening. Many of my favourite matches and wrestling moments involved the man known as the Heartbreak Kid. I typically preferred him when he was playing the role of the heel (bad guy) but the reality was, no matter what role Michaels was playing he was almost always the highlight of the show -- which is probably why he had a nickname like the Showstopper (among many others).

So, even though I haven't followed the current product too closely, my attention was grabbed when I heard he may have wrestled his final match on Sunday. At Wrestlemania 26 (the biggest show of the year in wrestling), he lost to the Undertaker in the main event, with the stipulation being that Michaels put his career on the line against Undertaker putting his Wrestlemania win streak on the line. Apparently, it was the match of the night and most likely the match of the year.

The impressive thing is, both these guys are over 40. Both these guys have wrestled well over two decades and at this point, even though it is fake, are really banged up after years of bumping around. Both guys have talked about retiring over the last few years. Most people thought it would only be a matter of time before they called it quits. But despite being at the end of their careers and being well past their prime, both wrestlers have delivered the best match of the year at the biggest show of the year two years in a row (they wrestled last year in a classic too).

The reality is, Michaels still had a lot to offer. He still could put on the very best match of the night. He was still easily one of the vert best performers in the WWE. But he has been hurting bad due to years of compiled injuries, plus he had a family now that rarely sees him because he is on the road every single week. I am sure that even though he can still make a lot of money and was one of the very best, he decided it was time to take an extended break.

Wait a minute, did I say break? Didn't he just a lose a match where he had to retire if he lost? Well, here is the thing about retirement in wrestling.

Wrestlers almost never fully retire. Fans are always expecting a wrestler to come out of retirement. Especially if they promise that they won't come out of retirement. Mainly, because wrestling is a business that is founded on lies and thus, we are conditioned to almost believe nothing about it.

Then of course, there is the whole history of 'retirement matches.'I remember back in 1987, when Roddy Piper claimed he was wrestling his last ever match at Wrestlemania 3. He made his glorious return at Wrestlemania 5 (1989). Though a TWO year retirement may not seem long, that is probably one of the longest ever in wrestling. In 1989, Rugged Ronnie Garvin lost a retirement match in the Spring, then he proceeded to be a referee for the summer which then lead to him wrestling again in the fall (of the same year). At a young age, I was taught that retirements didn't mean much in wrestling thanks to those two occurrences. Macho Man Randy Savage lost a retirement match at Wrestlemania 7, but by the end of the year, he was back wrestling. The retirement that probably annoyed me the most was when Mick Foley lost his retirement match in 2000. He promised that it was definitely his last match ever and he would stick to this stipulation. Six weeks later, he was wrestling in the main event of Wrestlemania 16. Though, that was his last match for several years, he has probably wrestled over 20 matches since his 'retirement match'. Ric Flair has lost at least 3 retirement matches and his last retirement match was supposed to be the real deal. He promised he would never wrestle again after losing to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24. Ric Flair wrestled a match about a month ago for the rival promotion to WWE, TNA.

Excuse me, if I am not ready to say this is Shawn Michaels' final match. But I am sure he will be taking a long vacation. He might even take this entire next year off. But I also recognize, there is always a chance this could be the first ever real retirement. This past Sunday, may have really been his last ever match. And if this is true, then I want to thank Shawn Michaels for all the amazing wrestling memories. He was one of my all time favourites, and I know there will never be another like him. I also know, I will still be able to watch him for years and years thanks to the magic of DVD. I will never forget all the great moments that I got to witness. So once again, thank you Shawn Michaels. I hope you enjoy your retirement and time with your family (even if I am cynical, and doubt it will stick).

I am not sure how long this will stay up, since I have a feeling copyright issues will cause it to be taken down at some point. But here is the farewell speech that Shawn Michaels gave at last night's Raw show.




Monday, March 29, 2010

Questions I'd Ask Michael Bay If I Ever Met Him

Does the doorbell to your house make a really, big explosion sound?

When you burn dinner, do you then say to yourself, "I am going to reimagine my meal tonight"?

Do you know there are things that record films and television shows, called videotapes and DVDs, that allow them to be captured for all time?

Like seriously dude, do you know that I can watch the original Friday !3th or Nightmare on Elm Street or the Transformers cartoons whenever I want?

Do you have any non white neighbours?

Honestly, have you ever interacted with a 'real live' Black or Asian person in your entire life?

I hate to harp on this, but really, is all your knowledge of non white people from blackploitation and Mickey Rooney films?

I know this is beating a dead horse, but you really do know about DVDs, cable television, and on demand services, right? They were invented so that I could watch old TV shows and movies. You don't need to make them again.

Do you make machine gun noises when you eat your cereal?

Instead of saying 'hi', do you say 'BAM!'?

Do you even know what film school is?

Do you know there is actually a difference between plot and special effects?

Tranformers 2? Honest? Do you hate people? Did you create it because you really hate people?

Why do I still bother watching your movies?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

TV Ads You Would Not See Today

I had a totally different post planned for today, but the hours creeped past me, which caused the planned post to be irrelevant. Instead, I thought we'd have some fun looking at television commercials that would never be allowed on the air today. Because banned television commercials are always relevant.

1. Winston Cigarettes

First of all, you are not allowed to even have television cigarette ads anymore. But could you imagine the uproar if a cigarette company tried using Dora the Explorer to shill their cancer sticks? Though at the same time, this was a prime time cartoon, like the Simpsons, but I know for sure it was mainly watched by families and kids. This has to be one of the most blatant marketing of cigarettes to children ever. I am sort of shocked it was even allowed then, but it was a different culture and a different time with a much more innocent view of cigarettes by the general public (the cigarette companies were still blood suckers that knew better).



2. Jell-O

Speaking of a different time with a different mindset, blatant racism was once a great source for humour and comedy. If something like this was aired by a major company today, there would be some massive human right lawsuits on their hands. But boy oh boy, I would love to try some of that glape flavour.




3. Mattel Tommy Burst

This is why I chuckle at people who pine for the old days when TV and media didn't market violence to kids. This toy would last about 10 seconds on the store shelves before parent groups would violently jump all over it and forced the toys to be pulled. Besides, no store would ever sell a toy at that price today.



4. Folger's Coffee

Yeah, I could totally see this exact scenario happening in my house. The only difference being that when Emily goes to see her friend, she is asking help to bury my body.



5. McDonald's

There is the issue that McDonald's has now promised to no longer market their product directly to kids on television (obviously, the kid's meals are still the most effective way to get kids to constantly beg for McDonald's). This isn't the main reason I would bet you'd never see this commercial aired on TV today. The fact Ronald McDonald is scarier than Leatherface, Dracula, Michael Myers and Cujo combined, would be the best reason. Giving kids weeks of nightmares isn't the best way to sell your family friendly product. Of course, you got to love how essentially it promotes kids to talk to strangers as long he is dressed as a scray clown and gives you shoddily made hamburgers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Honour Of Earth Hour. . .

I'm going to minimize my amount of time on this crazy contraption, we all call the internet. Instead, in about 30 minutes when it is time to say good bye to electricity for an hour, I am going to light up the candles and read a rather delightful book. Or get distracted from the book, and laugh at Crosby while he crazily rolls around his cat house all hopped up on catnip. What is a cat house you ask? Well, that will have to be saved for a day that doesn't contain an Earth Hour, because such tales would just waste too much precious energy (okay it wouldn't, but if you google 'cat tree' you sort of see what I am talking about, except his has a 'fort' on top).

Now, if you are totally lost for what to do during your Earth Hour, then here is a handy video for what a Saturday night is good for.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Top Ten Possible Reasons for My Mysteriously Sore Neck

10. I am in Fight Club and we don't talk about fight club. Oh crap.

9. My body really wants a massage from Emily, thus it is taking serious action to ensure it will happen. After all, my wife is absolutely loving and compassionate, and would never want her wonderful husband to be in pain. Psst. . . I am the wonderful husband, seriously.

8. The weight of the world is on my shoulders. . . and I can't wait for Atlas to get off vacation.

7. My neck really liked how I ripped off Letterman last week, thus had to give me the inspiration to do it again.

6. My head is HUGE (you know it is big when it is typed in all caps) and my poor neck has been carrying around this mammoth since 1977. That is bound to wear the poor thing out eventually.

5. My years of competitive break dancing have finally caught up to me. Too much of that head spinny thing -- that is the official name for it, by the way. Head spinny thing.

4. While I've been sleeping, Crosby has been secretly piledriving me onto the bedroom floor. That is what I get for not feeding him every single hour of the day. Though I have to be impressed by the power of a 9 pound cat.

3. Nazis, because honestly, you can never really stop blaming them for bad things.

2. The ghost of Bruce Lee has been practicing his new form of karate on my neck. I am really honoured that he chose me but well, it is time for other people to get the privilege too.

1. My neck is really tired of its current look and wants to start sporting one of those oh-so fashionable neck braces.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why I Am On Ann Coulter's Side Regarding Ottawa

I think it is extremely unfortunate that Ann Coulter was not able to speak at her scheduled event at the University of Ottawa. I am ashamed of the protesters that caused the event to be canceled, and I feel the entire unfolding of events was a travesty. Now, anyone who knows me well, may be utterly shocked to read that I am in the defense of a radical, right winger, and that I am actually writing against the group that are opposing her. Am I trading in my 'liberal badge' (lower case liberal since I am pretty sure I've never actually voted for the Canadian Liberal party)? Have I taken the giant leap over to the far right? Am I ready to have a beer with Rush Limbaugh and start chumming around with Glenn Beck? Have I seen the errors of my past ways?

Nah. . . . Summit is more likely to discover the cure to cancer and Crosby has a better chance of actually not being hungry than I ever do of promoting and supporting the belief of the far conservative right. As for Ann Coulter, whenever I read her words or hear her on television, I am still driven to the unyielding desire to gnaw off my entire left hand in a desperate hope that the agonizing pain will entirely block out the verbal vomit that spews from her mouth. No, I don't support her outright bigotry or narrowmindness in any form. I completely agree when Conservatist strategist Tim Power described her as a performing clown. She is a pure performer and not one whose opinions should often be taken seriously. The unfortunate thing is most of her words are so full of hatred and venom that they almost always get a response and thus, she always has a crowd, which means she is unlikely to ever go away.

It appears there were many in Ottawa that had hoped she would go away because about 2,000 protesters descended upon the University of Ottawa, which forced the cancellation of the speaking engagement due to creating an unsafe environment. I can understand the rage that many may have for Coulter. I can also understand the desire to passionately voice one's opinion. I also understand that Coulter caused even more controversy than usual when after she was warned that hate speech is illegal (with the allusion being that Coulter's opinions and speeches often sift in that type of direction), she responded in derogatory fashion towards Canadians. After all, it's not like she viciously insults Muslims, Arabs, socialists and homosexuals at every opportunity -- oh wait, I am being sarcastic. In her previous engagement at Western University (in London, Ontario), she had told a Muslim women to 'take a camel', what possibly could be offensive with that statement, right (psst, I am being sarcastic again)?

Needless to say, I can understand the desire to protest. I can understand why so many are opposed to Coulter. The problem is, the 'dangerous' protest that caused the cancellation only resulted in Coulter looking like a victim, and thus giving her even more strength. This is quite obvious, after the cancellation, when she started calling University of Ottawa 'bush league', and began heaping numerous insults towards the University and its students. She added more fuel to the conversative far right fire and gave far righters more material to bash the more liberal minded thinkers. The protest only made the protesters look like simple minded savages, who were unfairly persecuting Ann Coulter. Coulter took advantage of this by even claiming she was a part of a 'hate crime', which sort of shows she doesn't understand the term but still, a strong example of how she was able to turn herself into a victim.

The fact is, the protesters should have allowed the speech to happen without incident. Their goal instead should have been to buy a ticket and be a part of the event. When it was time for the question and answer, this would have been their chance to level a more effective attack. Because the reality is, Ann Coulter's views and opinion are very narrowminded and laced with hate. Any person who was intellectual, logical and open minded should have been able to make her look like a fool. This was an opportunity to expose her weaknesses and allow others to see how misguided her agenda is. It all could have been done in a civil and behaved manner. It would be simple questions that would challenge Coulter and force her to actually use her brain. Instead, there was a humongous wasted opportunity that actually made her a sympathetic figure.

This time I do agree with the far right and Ann Coulter, the protests should not have happened and the cancellations were an utter shame. Though that is about the only thing we will probably ever agree on.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fantastic Thoughts Not Written By Me

Today was occupied by writing that will actually put real money in my pocket (which will allow me to pay for real things like groceries and bills). This meant that the blog got a little bit of neglect (because no matter how much love I give it, it still refuses to do my chores), so I've decided to direct you over to another person's blog who wrote a post that I really think is a must read.

John Scalzi has been a blogger since 1998, back when I am pretty sure most people thought a blog was something in a swamp. His blog, the Whatever, has a readership of several hundred -- if not more -- and many of his blog posts have been bought/used by other site and magazines. He has been a paid writer his entire adult life, and has been a freelancer since 1999ish. In 2004, he has started focusing on writing books, and he has published several rather successful science fiction novels. Even if science fiction isn't your thing, he is an incredibly entertaining writer and tends to create works that are accessible to several demographics and tastes. As for his blog, I've been a huge fan of it for several years, and have found his views and tips on writing to be invaluable for someone who wants to break into the business.

The post I want to highlight today has nothing really to do with writing (other than he wrote it) and many people would get offended if I claimed it was science fiction. This post was written as a response to a question about his religious beliefs. Even though it is revealed that he is a firm agnostic (as in one who believe you can not know outright if God exists but leans towards non belief), he composes a piece that I feel is very important for both the religious and non religious to read. There are definitely parts of the post that I echo, and even the parts that I may disagree with, I feel hold some merit. This is why I think it is a great read, because even if you disagree with his religious views, I believe most would approve of his philosophy of how one should live in a diverse world with a variety of religions. At some point, I plan to write something similar but it may be close to being complete after Summit speaks English (he still has trouble with his 'r's and 'l's and 'm's and. . . ). For now, I'll latch on to his piece, and recommend everyone to read it and have a open mind, and give it some serious thought.

While I am in the groove of pimping John Scalzi, there is another piece he composed a few years ago called "Being Poor". I can not personally relate because I was never in a situation where I could call myself poor (my college years don't count because everyone has that, plus I had my parents to bail me out whenever I was too tight), but I did have people close to me where this piece would almost seem to be about them. I think it is really powerful and almost poetic. It will be yet another John Scalzi work that makes you think a bit.

If you like these two posts, I totally recommend to check out his blog because there is oodles of goodness there. Plus he is an actual career writer (with real pay cheques and everything) rather than a guy who pretends to be one.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why I Am Not Aspiring To Be A Computer Programmer

I've spent way too much time and pulled way too many hairs in a vain attempt to do some minor tweaking on the blog. I say 'minor' but anything with such an adjective should not take up several hours of a person's evening. Though it probably doesn't help that my strategy for fixing my current dilemma has been to do the same thing over and over, while occasionally yelling at the screen. The screen yelling probably isn't very fair considering it didn't do anything, but I was hoping it would pass the message over the HTML. The head ache inducing experience has been confirmation that my calling in life is not as a web designer or anything that requires me to do too much programming. I'll keep my typing to actual words and sentences rather than a seemingly random concoction of symbols.

Anyway, my latest headache has to do with my attempt to get my 'extreme tracker' functional again. Apparently, when I decided to overhaul the blog on Sunday evening, it messed up the programming on the tracker. Now, I just have a pretty little icon that doesn't actually tell me how many people are coming to the site. You see, I need to know how many people are coming to the site because I have an ego to feed. You wouldn't want my poor ego to starve, would you? Anyway, it looks like the one way yelling match with my computer screen will have to come to an end because it doesn't seem to be solving much, other than stopping me from getting a good night's sleep. I may have to admit defeat.

I should actually do a post tomorrow that isn't my venting and rambling about the cosmetic changes of this blog. Because I am pretty sure you don't visit this blog, just so that you can read about how pretty it is (or in this case, mean).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Do Not Adjust Your Screen

For all the extra observant, regular readers you may have noticed the blog is sporting a new lay out. I've been contemplating updating the look, design, lay out and features for a long time now, then a good friends alerted me that my blog was not the optimal colour, font or lay out for 'easy reading'. Considering my main goal for this blog is for people to read it, I thought I'd try to experiment with a few new looks. I eliminated the colour background, went with the simpler black text, and changed the font and size. Though you probably noticed that without me saying.

I also changed how the comments sections works, but I avoided doing the pop up window because I am personally not really a fan of it. Instead, it allows you to comment right below the post rather than take you to a separate comment page (which I also admit was sort of irritating).

I am not 100% sure if this is the look I want to stay with yet. There are still quite a few things I want to change and tweak about the blog before it can be considered fully transformed.

Actually, I've been wrestling with the idea of going with a totally different host for my blog. At this point, I am not really wanting to spend any money to obtain my own domain name. Even though there are a lot of great, free blog hosts, I also not really sure I want to put up with the hassle, considering I would want to transfer all my old blog posts over to the new site and such things like that. On the other hand, some of the other hosts may better serve some of my more long term interests. For example, I'd rather not have a lot of different 'web sites' but rather just have one all purpose site. Eventually, I would want my blog to have a page that would contain my portfolio, and also a contact page for prospective clients. My paid writing jobs at this point are still very minimal, thus I am not in a real rush to focus on the promotional side yet. After all, the most important step for success is to write, because you can't sell things that don't exist. For the long term, I would like to be able to have a bit more of as multi-purpose site that compliments the business I want to be running.

I've also been thinking a lot about starting up a Google AdSense or a similar ad revenue gadget on this site. But considering my readership is pretty small at this point, I am not sure if there is a lot of value of starting it up quite yet. I am not sure if earning that extra quarter to lend for someone who wants to use the payphone, is really worth the possibility of alienating or bothering readers with obtrusive ads on the site. Now if I thought I could actually make a decent amount of money, and not upset the people going to this site, then I'd be much more interested. The reality is, this entire blog is about promoting myself, and eventually my writing, and if that takes off, I can probably avoid ever having to need ads in the first place (other than direct ads that would promote that non existent, best selling novel).

Anyway, this rant is all designed to inform you that the blog may continue to change over the next few days or weeks. I spent a few hours on it last night in order to get it to this present form. I am sure I'll find some time to do a few more tweaks but then again, I may just decide to do what this site is designed for, which is to write (not fiddle with a bunch of things that I know little about).

I invite everyone to let me know what they think about the new lay out, and what they would rather see. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore what you suggest, because I can be stubborn like that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Since Both MuchMusic and MTV Won't Show Music Videos Anymore. . .

I haven't watched either station since I clued in about 6 years ago that I was no longer in the demographic that they were aiming for. I have read that they have completely purged any music videos from their schedule, which is ironic considering both stations were created for the sole purpose of airing music videos. Apparently, despite the channels deciding there was no longer a purpose for music videos, the crazy internet is proving that there is an audience for them (on Youtube one of the most watched type of videos are music related). I decided that since neither MTV or Muchmusic will show any music videos, I'll do the internety thing and showcase a video. But not any video but arguable one of the greatest music videos ever produced (okay fine, the greatest). This was a cutting edge video for its time and caused there to be many imitators. In my opinions, no other video ever truly measured up or was able to successfully follow the formula. Do you want proof for this videos excellence? It is the only music video to be added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress (America).

If you haven't guessed what video I am talking about, then you have been hiding under a rock for a very long. Here is the greatest music video ever, Michael Jackson's "Thriller", which is made even more impressive when you realize it debuted in 1984.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Comparing Me To Famous Authors

Here I am at the very start of my writing career with very few published works and a humble blog to show for my accomplishments. But my goal is follow the path of writing success and eventually have novels with my name on them to proudly display (preferably the name isn't there because I scratched it on using black marker). I recently started thinking where do I stand when compared against some of the more famous literary giants. When I thought long and hard about it, I realized I may not be so far away from being able to be ranked with them after all.

Stephen King goes to over 80 movies in one year. In my lifetime, I have probably seen well over 200 movies. 200 clearly beats 80, so that is one point for me.

Charlotte Bronte had one brother named Patrick Branwell, while I have two brothers. 2 is more than 1, which means another point for me.

William Shakespeare, it is believed, passed away on April 23, 1616. For the record, I am still very much alive. Being alive is better than being dead, thus another point for me.

Agatha Christie had written over 80 detective novels. I, on the other hand, have composed over 200 blog posts. As we have established earlier, 200 is way more than 80. I will give myself yet another point.

J.K. Rowling had to change her name from Joanne (Murray) Rowling because her publisher did not think boys would read a book by a female author. If I want to write books for boys, my name will already be pretty masculine sounding. Not having to change your name is a hundred times better than having to change it, which means once again I receive a point.

Nora Roberts got married to her first husband right after graduating from high school. I didn't marry until about 10 years after I was done high school. I've always been told it is better to wait than to rush into marriage, which means I deserve yet another point.

John Grisham was a quarterback for his high school football team. On television, I have watched many professional football quarterbacks play. Professional football players are better than high school football players, which means I win another point.

J.R.R. Tolkien is considered the 'father of fantasy' due to extensively creating his own fantasy world known as Middle Earth. People say that I live in my own little fantasy world. So yes, Tolkien created a fantasy world but he never actually got to live in it. Are you keeping score, because that is another point for me.

Charles Dickens often focused on the poor and disadvantaged in his classic novels. I lived in a place called Slum House which just screams poor and disadvantaged. Screaming is more likely to get your attention, which means I earn another point.

Michael Crichton is the only creative artist to be #1 in book, movie, and television sales (Disclosure, Jurassic Park, and ER) at the same time. I once watched a movie, listened to music, wrote an essay, tried to cook dinner and talked on the phone at the same time. I did way more things at once than a pitiful three, so I easily get another point.

Roald Dahl, during World War 2, crashed his biplane fighter aircraft when he was running low on fuel and had to try to land it in the desert late at night. Of all the times I have flown a kite, I have never crashed it in the dessert. I gain another point since not crashing is better than crashing.

Lewis Carroll created poems about the Snark and Jabberwocky, two imaginary creatures that people were probably more likely to give credit to camps, Disney or Pixar for. I make up about 100 words or creatures a day, just ask Emily. 100 is a far bigger number than 2, which means I obtain yet another point.

Ken Follet has been actively involved with Britain's Labour Party since the late 1970s. When I party, I try to do as little labour as possible. Not labouring while partying is way better, which means I win again.

I didn't really keep score but if I was asked, I'd say the final score was 640 for Christopher and 4 for the famous authors. Give or take a few points on each side. No matter the score, I think I proved that I am most definitely ranked up there with the other successful authors, and this is before I've even written my first novel!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 10 Things to Say When Your Feet Are On Fire

10. "Ahhh, my feet are on fire!"

9. "I am not sure I feel right about these new runners."

8. "Oh, so that is why the Flash wears the special suit."

7. "This new fashion is so HAWT!"

6. "Now I know why you aren't supposed to pace yourself in a fire walk."

5. "Maybe I should have splurged on that foot powder."

4. "Hi, I am the Human Torch on a budget, part of the Frugal Four."

3. "Mmmmm, I smell BBQ."

2. "Great Balls of Fire!!!"

1. "This circumstance seems to be the perfect chance to rip off Letterman."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Maybe This Will Distract You From a Lack of a Posting

Here is the understatement of the century: Sometimes I get distracted. I am pretty sure Al Gore invented the internet for the sole purpose of making sure I get distracted on an almost daily basis. The evil internet is successful almost every single time when it dangles its tasty carrots over my nose. I cannot resist its lure and seductiveness. Yeah, I am pretty sure I am mixing my metaphors because carrots aren't really known for their seductive powers. But there was that myth that they were great for your eyesight, and with great eyesight you could see something or someone being seductive. So, maybe I am not mixing after all? Hmmm. . . remember when I was talking about the internet? Well, it distracts and one of its evil minions that aid in the distracting is a site known as Sporcle. It is a website that is full of tons and tons of quizzes that ranges from numerous topics such as sports, movies, history or science. I suggest you check it out unless you don't want to be distracted.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Couldn't Say This Better Myself. . .

Winston Rowntree is a Canadian comic writer who creates comics(duh!) that often have a political or social spin while still retaining some humour(or at least, they get a giggle or two out of me). I'd suggest you to check out his numerous strips but you should be warned that they are often covered with walls and walls of text. So, if you do not like reading text (if this is so, I wonder why you would frequent here) then you may want to skip out on these comics.

Today, I want to direct you to this particular comic that sums up my opinions, on how we should perceive people or see ourselves, quite nicely. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

44 Consecutive Daily Posts!!!

About a month and a half ago, I declared to the world (or at least to the 8 or so people who read this blog)that I aspire to eventually become a full time writer, and was going to start proactively pursuing writing opportunities and jobs in order to get me to that goal. Obviously, the best way to meet that goal is to get paid for my writing, which means I need actual writing jobs. I am quite happy to announce that is slowly happening, though at this point it is not quite enough to say 'adios' to my day job and escape to the Caribbean to become a full time hermit. I am pretty confident that I will continue to obtain paying writing jobs through my hard work (or my sheer luck?). I can also say that I've been extremely successful in one of my other writing goals that I made during my declaration. On January 31st, I started blogging again with the hope that I would be able to maintain a close to daily posting output. It is now March 16th, and I've been able to continuously blog without missing a single day ever since I started up. Yes, this blog may not even pay a single of my bills but at least, it has shown that I've been able to accomplish one of my writing goals and I have been able to stick to self imposed deadlines. Sure, some of my blogs have been nothing more than 'I am not blogging today' like posts but they were still words that I typed, thus I am counting them.

For this monumental achievement, I am rewarding myself with a gift basket containing my very own cat.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things I Now Do Because I'm Married

They say that being in a deep, committed relationship causes a person to change. I decided to do some self-reflection and figure out what things I do differently because of my marriage.

I Drink Water Regularly: It isn't like I never allowed the H20 to enter into my mouth. It definitely found its way there on many occasions before I got married. The reality is, when there was ever an option for a beverage then water almost always lost that war. When I was growing up at home, I'd normally drink milk for dinner and was consuming juice as my source for afternoon thirst quenching. Water was reserved for when I was dragging my carcass through a desert, or when I became a tightwad during my college years yet still wanted to eat out. Water was not a choice but rather necessity. It was the kid, who owned Go Bots, that my mom told me I had to play with even though I really wanted to go across the street and play with the guy who had the Death Star playset. I loved drinking but rarely was that drink water. Today, I seem to find water going down the throat with very little fuss (I still don't really want to play with Go-Bots though).

I have watched some reality television: Anyone who has read this blog since Day One (that isn't the actual date, by the way), will know that for the longest time I absolutely detested the plague that is known as reality television. I still prefer scripted television almost always over the TV fare claiming to be reality. A funny thing happens when you marry someone who watches shows like 'The Biggest Loser' or 'Survivor' or 'Amazing Race' or 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", you end up finding yourself watching it with them. This is probably why I haven't had the bile filled rants geared towards reality television that I once had, because I'd come off as a bit of a hypocrite. I still am not a member of the fan club nor is it on my 'can't miss list' but I can not deny it has wasted a few hours of my life.

I no longer dress like a hobo: It would be premature to put me on the cover of GQ or Esquire(do they ever put well dressed men on Esquire covers?) or to consult me for fashion advice, but people don't throw quarters at me when I walk the streets of Toronto anymore. I have learned that flannel shirts and Mickey mouse hoodies are not the best office attire, and I have even been successful in tricking some into believing I have a sense of fashion. I'm not a fashion plate yet, but I have moved several levels above fashion catastrophe.

Shower in the evening: I once believed that all people decide to take a shower in the morning because it helps wake you up for the day ahead. I now know that was the 'White Man Myth.' Yes, it does appear a large portion of Caucasians enjoy the morning shower, but apparently showering before calling it a night is also a very viable option. I've been converted to that side, though it helps that Emily refused to let me enter into the bed until I change my stance.

Wash the top off a can before opening it: I've never been what you would call a 'Science Genius.' I knew science existed, and I was happy for it but we never really hung out. I never seemed to suppress my ADHD (self diagnosed) long enough to learn about all the goodies that science possesses. This is why it is good that I am married to a Science Teacher (who hasn't taught Science in a few years), because now I learn all the important scientific facts. For example, I learned that all soup cans or cans with veggies/fruit have Germ Nazis that occupy the very top of the can. If you open up a can without making sure these Germ Nazis are completely eradicated, then they will invade your food and you will surely die (no immortality for you). The only way to make sure their reign of terror doesn't to expand into your cream of mushroom soup is to wash the top of the lid with water. Apparently, water provides way more value than just for quenching thirst.

I put worn clothes in a separate pile from unworn clothes: Once upon time, after I was done wearing my t-shirt and jeans I would give them a solid sniff to see if they retained any hideous odour, and if they were absent of this then I would neatly fold it up, then put it back in the clothes drawer. I have now learned the dark, evil secret that once you wear your clothes there are these invisible Dirt Rangers that invade the entire fabric, and they completely vanquish any freshness the clothes once had. Even though it might be okay to wear that shirt again, because it doesn't smell like a Yak's butt, it can not be permitted to socialize with the clothes that haven't been worn since Laundry Day. The problem is once you put your worn (yet not smelly) clothes with your 'clean' clothes, then the invisible Dirt Rangers jump from the worn clothing on to the 'clean', unworn clothing. Yes, I learn that dirt jumps thus I must keep my not dirty but still worn clothes in a separate drawer or section from my 'clean', unworn clothes.

Sometimes, things in the house need to be cleaned: Apparently, dishes don't clean themselves nor are most carpets self cleaning. I do think I knew this fact before and even sometimes participated in this ritual known as cleaning. But now, I have a bit more of a keen eye towards things known as a mess. I noticed when a colony of dirty dishes are forming in the sink, thus know I must combat them before a violent mutiny is raged. Though, I will not proclaim myself the 'Greatest Cleaner That Has Ever Lived' nor will I even argue that I do as much cleaning as the lovely wife, but I do think I at least notice a mess or two. So, at least when I am wallowing in my own filth, I am fully aware of it.

I am sure there are a few other things that I've changed since getting married. Popcorn for dinner and ice cream for dessert is a bit less of a staple. And 'Punch Everything That Moves Tuesday' has been eliminated as a regular event. I feel the above are the main things that I do now that I can fully attribute to the fact I have a lovely woman to share my life with now. Well that, and it is rough sleeping on the floor every night.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Glorious Return of the One Word Review

Long time readers of this blog will remember the occasional feature known as the one word review. This is where I review various books, shows, movies, events or whatever with only one word. I like the challenge and people seem to dig it, thus it will receive its revival tonight.

Sula (novel): Quirky
Eye of the Needle (novel): Uneven
Things Fall Apart(novel): Powerful
Rambo(movie): BLOOD!
Modern Family(show): Classic
The Office(show): Scranton-rific
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia(show): WILD
"Uno is a game where need to have a. . .":CARD!
A Very Tight Place (Short Story): Claustrophobic
Up (movie): Heartwarming
Olympics: Pride
Summit: Adorable
Crosby: Hungry
Informant (movie): Intriguing
24 (show): Jack Bauer says he doesn't have to follow this one word rule and I listen.
Dragon's Den (show): Fiery
HomeStarrunner (website): Burnination
Ben Jordan (game series): Twist-a-licious
Chili Cook off: Empty
Survivor (show): ICan'tBelieveI'mWatchingRealityTV
Drumstick (snack): Tempting
Canada v. US Gold Medal Game: Redemption
Jon Montgomery: Passion
August Eight (restaurant): Goodness
Balderdash (game): FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!
Mumford & Sons (band): Ear-candy
Whatever (website): Bacon
This Blog Post: Over

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Today is a Good Day to Dance in the Rain

Or sing in it. Unless of course, in your part of the world you do not have rain. Outside my window, all I see is rain upon rain. Actually, that is a total lie. I also see houses and a road and mud and trees, but they are all covered in rain. That I know. Despite this rainy day, I actually am going to venture out of the house and head off to the wondrous city of Toronto. We are meeting with a friend this afternoon, then will enjoy a concert in the evening. It should be marvelous. But these event can not begin until I decide to slip out of pajamas. Which I will do now. Thus no in depth or insightful blog today. Instead just an excuse as to why I threw assorted words together and claimed it to be a paragraph.

Here, to make it all better I'll give you a picture of my 'boys.' I know this is the real reason you go on this blog anyway.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Latest Tune to Seep Into My Head and Refuse to Leave

But I am okay with that because Mumford & Sons produced a very enjoyable song in "Little Lion Man." I don't know what makes a little lion man (though I won't let his littleness fool me) or even who Mumford is or why his sons appear to be the same age as him. I do know this is a very catchy tune and they are one of the best 'new' groups to send sweet sounds into my ears in a long while. I have only heard this one song from them but I do believe I must try to catch more of their musical musings. Of course, if you're checking this out on Facebook you'll have to venture over to the physical blog to catch this video.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Strangest Thing Happened On The Way To Training. . .

We were about 45 feet away from the door at the centre that we go for Summit's training, when out of absolutely nowhere four carnivorous, rabid, vegetarian Llamas jump in front of us. This was awful for two reasons: we were already running a little late (as is our style), and I had a carrot peel stuck to right thumb which only sent the carnivorous vegetarians into an even more violent fury. I truly thought this was leading to the final chapter of the Spicer family saga and poor Summit didn't even get to see his first birthday.

It was at this moment that an once and a lifetime radioactive meteorite landed into the nearby field. This happened to be a field that has produced numerous vegetables over its time, and as we all know, radioactivity causes things to turn into zombies (this is scientific fact, read a comic book). Suddenly, zombified carrots and green peppers stumbled out and towards the dog training centre.

This occurrence caught the attentions of the llamas, because being both carnivorous and vegetarian means they have a lust for fleshy veggies. The fact these were zombified vegetables caused this to be a monumental moment in rabid llama history. They quickly forgot that Spicers were on the menu and preyed upon the slowly, stumbling zombie veggies. Of course, the llamas had something that all zombies crave which is delicious brains. It was the war of the rabid, carnivorous, vegetarian llamas and the brain lusting, zombified vegetables.

I would love to tell you who won but we had training to get to. Even an epic battle such as this, will not get in the way of our need to teach Summit to play dead or run through a plastic tunnel.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Word Of The Day Is. . .

Pomelo

Why is it the word of the day?

Because it is a fun word to say. Plus it is the name of a rather delicious fruit, which is also known as Chinese Grapefruit. I did not know the existence of this tasty item until I started dating Emily. Though there are many fruits and veggies that I did not know inhabited this world until I started a relationship with Emily. Though I am pretty sure all of them were around before (I am not vain enough to believe that my loving and amazing relationship was powerful enough to force foods into existence).

Anyway, that is the word of the day. Use it and love it. Maybe even get yourself some pomelo. It is delicious, especially if you like grapefruit. If you don't like grapefruit then it might not be a hit, but you still may like it since it is sweeter than grapefruit.

Pomelo. Pass it around. Name drop it at parties. Use it in your next business report or manuscript. Because it is the word of day (though it isn't really 'day' anymore but rather evening, plus the 24 hour day only has about 2 hour left).

Pomelo.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Obligatory 'Pictures to Show Off My Sons' Monthly Post


Back when he resembled a teddy bear more than a Bernese Mountain Dog.




The ultimate showdown of cat v.s dog. Though I am sure Crosby wishes that Summit was still this size.




"If Summit isn't going to go after his treat. . . "




Back when Summit actually fit on my lap (sort of). Now, I could fit on his.




The perfect position to unleash a fury of knock out blows upon the monster known as Summit. I believe 'cat boxing' is up for a possible medal event at the next Summer Games.




Yum, my absolutely favourite dish, Cat Casserole.




It is hard being a dog.




Picture proof that cats and dogs can get along harmoniously -- when they are promised a treat.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Doing My Husbandly Duty

Emily and her friend are attempting to get accepted into the Southern Ontario Amazing Race. One part of the application is producing a video that tells about their team and why they would be a good addition to the contest. Since Emily put so much work(at least a whole half hour) into making this quality video, I thought I should showcase it for all my regular readers.

It should be noted that there are uncredited cameos by both Crosby and Summit. Crosby can be seen in the crucial 'friend asking Emily out to play' scene, while Summit can be heard in that scene as well. I thought since Emily decided to not acknowledge our 'boys' film debut, that I would be the proud father that does. I am pretty sure this may be their first step towards Hollywood glory. Maybe Air Bud 7: Slobber He Barked?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Advice I'd Give To 13 Year Old Me

If you are on a camping trip and you think you're on an island, YOU AREN'T!

When you are given a poetry exam, make sure you actually write it rather than scribbling a love poem on the back. Teacher's have this funny thing where they only grade what they assigned you.

Don't let your beliefs get in the way of what is important, love.

You might want to think about attending your last year of high school, because there is a chance that could be beneficial in the long run.

If you decide to do that whole crazy attend your last year of high school thing, then you might want to think about not waiting 10 years to apply to University. Trust me, you'll do great.

GET YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE! Well, not yet because you're only 13 and that is not actually allowed.

You are going to accumulate this kicking CD collection, don't let a 'wave of morals' convince you to throw them out when you are 24 because about a year later, you will want to beat up 24 year old you. It is never good to want to beat yourself up.

If you are ever helping your fiance(yeah, you'll get one of those) with a weekend class trip at Rattlesnake Point, please don't go into the woods alone under any condition.

Never ever lose your imagination and love of storytelling, because you'll then spend too much time trying to get it back.

Laugh.

Cry.

Eat a lot of ice cream.

The above three will help you through almost any tough period.

In high school, it is okay to have some crushes on girls, but never think a girl not wanting to date you has any reflection on who you are.

Man, don't listen to Matchbox 20 over and over after you got your 'heart broken'. Just go out with the guys and have fun instead.

Be open minded. You'll do a pretty good job of that without this advice but it is always important to hear.

You'll go to a few 'celebrations' when you get older and make sure to have a few less drinks than you think you can handle.

Valentine's Day is not actually optional when you're in a relationship.

Write, and when you are done then be sure to write some more. You've always loved it and there is not point losing it.

Make sure you actually wear your mittens in the winter. This will probably save you from having to buy about 25 pairs in the future.

When your good friends says he wants you to hang out with him, his girlfriend and her friend the day before Valentine's Day, tell him you have to wash your hair (you'll still have some then).

Don't be afraid to fail. And remember it actually happens to everyone.

More importantly, don't be afraid to succeed. It can happen to everyone.

One evening in Golden, BC you'll have a chance to drink a beer that you never heard of before. Leave it. It tastes like bug spray.

A cup of coffee in your hand and your mom's booklets for her students in your other, it is a really bad combination that must be avoided.

Actually, anything that can spill or leave a stain should never be allowed near important documents when in your presence.

Always dance and sing in the shower, because if all your dreams fall apart, there will be these influx of dance and singing contests after 2000 on TV that you can enter.

In a few years you'll hear about Y2K, it is pretty much a let down.

You won't own a flying car by 2010, mainly because they won't exist. You should actually give up that dream.

Don't give up any dreams (hey, those flying cars might be around in 2020).

Don't get too excited about those Star Wars prequels that George Lucas is promising. Just saying.

You know what, you can probably ignore almost all this advice because when I was 13 years old I wasn't given it. I still ended up with an amazing wife, a wonderful home, beautiful pets and a life I am very happy with.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Is It Winter Yet?

The last few days around Brantford, mainly at work since that is sadly where most of my recent excursions have taken me, I have heard numerous people talk about how they are eagerly looking forward to the end of winter. People are excitedly counting down the days until it can officially be spring and winter is banished for another year. I can understand if this is happening in Ohio or Washington DC or any place that has been held tightly by the clutches of snow. But here in Brantford, I can probably count the amount of snowfalls on one hand (maybe needing to borrow a finger or two from the other hand). This is only if I am counting any type of flake falling from the sky, but if we count a legitimate snowfall where the snow remains on the ground for over 24 hours then I'd only need about 3 fingers. Needless to say, we really haven't had anything that would resemble winter. As I look out my window I see a bright, shining sun and vague remnants of this thing we call snow.

I am not totally complaining because this meant no bus delays and only the occasional need to shovel the driveway. I don't have any need to curse loudly at the inconsiderate homeowner that decided to not shovel their sidewalks, because there isn't really much to shovel. I have appreciated that and I've enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather. I think, it has probably rained more these last few months than snowed.

The problem is that snow can also be fun. Especially when you have a puppy that you wanted to introduce the white, cold blanket to. Summit absolutely adores the cold and he has loved his brief encounter with snow. I had hopes of building a snow fort and then having Summit promptly make it crumble. It would have been great to have several long winter hikes with him. This year we bought a pair of snow shoes with the hope to do a lot of hiking while Summit ran along side us. We've been able to do a little bit of it, I think a grand total of 3 times. Needless to say, not the winter we had been dreaming of.

I laugh at the local people who are begging for winter to end because I am pretty sure that it never began. I envy the people who had the decent winter where they could ski or have snowball fights. And of course, I taunt all the people who were trapped in their house because they had been snowed in. Because when it comes down to it, I am a bit of a meanie and I need to get some joy from this winter.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Friday Night Multiple Choice Question

If you discovered a wish granting genie in your sock drawer, would you:

A: Wish that you never ever lose a pair of your socks again (for some reason, it was the first thing that came to your mind when staring at a sock drawer).

B: Proceed to try to fit the genie on your foot (hey, it might be the latest trend).

C: Wish for a star, so that you can wish upon that (it is way more family friendly).

D: Be grateful that it was a genie rather than that pesky rodent that had been eating your cheese.

E: Wonder why your cat is doing such a bad job at catching that rodent.

F: I don't actually have a rodent problem, it was just possible options for this multiple choice question.

G: Hope that the genie didn't see your pink pair of socks with the dancing panda on them.

H: Push the genie away and get a pair of socks (dude, you're in a rush).

I: Wish that you actually get some snow this winter (this is not a good option for regions that actually did get snow this winter).

J: Wish for more wishes (then, get slapped by the genie for being so unoriginal).

K: Ask the genie if he was the person who borrowed your copy of Aladdin.

L: Wish for the world in pieces.

M: Or maybe wish for world peace.

N: Wish for Reeses pieces (possibly the best of the options).

O: Let the genie know that he is an offensive stereotype and will be hearing from your lawyers.

P: Look in the phone book for cheap lawyers that would be willing to sue a genie.

Q: Call the cops (that genie is totally trespassing, man).

R: Clean out your sock drawer because if a genie is now residing there. . .

S: Wish that Christopher Spicer could be rich and famous, because it is my blog thus at some point it needs to be about me.

T: Wow, I actually didn't plan on using the whole alphabet but now that I am this far. . .

U: Yeah, T wasn't really a viable option or answer.

V: Then again, there was never really a question but rather, the start of a sentence.

W: Wish for your two front teeth because Santa dropped the ball this year.

X: Scream (because you just found a genie in your drawer and that is pretty shocking).

Y: Because I said so.

Z: Always pick C.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

'The Office' Taught Me Tonight That If You Can't Find Your Friend's iPod Then You've Got To Redo The Cabinets

The Olympics are over, thus it is time for scripted television again. 'The Office' kicked things off right with an one hour episode, which also happened to have the birth of Pam and Jim's baby. I have to say that 'The Office' most definitely brought the awesome this evening with some of the funniest stuff this season (and it has been a pretty good season in my opinion). I loved how Michael was essentially taking almost full responsibility for the birth of the baby, especially when he was talking about how the baby should be birthed at the office since it was conceived there (which isn't actually true but who ever listens to Michael anyway). One has to love when Michael asked if anyone thinks it is fair that Stanley gets two lovers and of course, Stanley promptly raises his hand, or when Michael asked who was single and Ryan raised his hand while Kelly was wrapping herself around him. Of course, it was great when Michael was trying to play matchmaker and thought Kevin would be a good match with Erinn despite the fact it is obvious she and Andy like each other (of course, Michael seemed to take credit for them hooking up at the end too). I love the fact Dwight wants a baby for an edge in business. Only the Office would create a sweet moment between Pam and her baby only to have it revealed that she had the wrong baby. I could spend paragraphs proclaiming the awesomeness of tonight's episode of 'The Office' but instead will encourage you to watch it if you decided to skip out.

They also did some good set ups for future episodes, and I think the stories will click for the final stretch to the finale. I am also interested to see where Sabre, the company that bought Dunder Mifflin, fits into everything. It also looks like we'll have a return to the Dwight and Angela disaster relationship.

I've also apparently missed an entire episode of 'The Office' without knowing it. When was Jim stripped of the co-manager position? And they sell printer ink, now? Anyway, it was a great episode and I am looking forward to many more.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My Reflections On A 17 Day Event That Consumed My Life: A Retrospective on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games

I have to admit I am feeling a tad of Olympic withdrawal, but at the same time, my body is appreciating the extra sleep it is now getting. Naturally, when one spends a long time being immersed in something, they have a lot to reflect on. I obviously am only a fan and thus don't have the same perspective of the amazing athletes that devoted decades and years for this one huge moment. I don't even have the same type of perspective as a fan who was there live since I only have the view that was afforded to me by CTV. I still felt something when watching these games and I have definitely left them with some opinions. Rather than spend several paragraphs rehashing what I saw, I thought I would give my view and opinions on three major issues that were brought up during the games. Since during the games we saw a lot of headlines, I will divided each of my major thoughts with headings (and also, it is just easier to separate my opinions in that way).

The Canadian Coming Out Party

Until the Vancouver games, Canadians had a reputation of being reserved and laid back. Actually, I feel a lot of Canadians probably prided themselves on this view as well. Canada had their rowdy and rambunctious neighbours of the south that made themselves aware to the entire world, while Canadian quietly went about their business. This was a perception that Canadians seemed to like being attributed to them. The Americans seemed to want to be recognized while Canadian were happy giving that type of glory to others while still working hard in the background. This perception was shattered during the Olympic games because quiet and reserved was not what one could observe while watching Canadians.

The question is, was that a bad thing?

I read a few articles and talked to a few people who feel that the Canadian fans at the games behaved in a matter that was embarrassing. It was declared disrespectful, arrogant and juvenile. Of course, it was deemed to be very UnCanadian. It was claimed that Canadians acted in a way that was shameful and it was disrespectful to all our guests. Though I can appreciate this view to a degree, since I've always appreciated the fact Canadians are viewed as polite and well-behaved, I have to completely disagree.

What I saw at the games was patriotism. It was patriotism that made me proud to be Canadian. I loved seeing how excited Canadians got over the accomplishments of our athletes. I loved seeing the spontaneous breaking out into singing of the Canadian anthem. I loved the waving of the Canadian flag and the donning of Canadian colours. It made me feel really good inside.

I think, it can be very easy to confuse patriotism with arrogance or rudeness. I defintely think what we saw at the games was mostly patriotism. I know that when many people think patriotism that they immediately think of the United States, often people will complain about how 'in your face' or arrogant that some American can come off. I want to make it clear that despite that perception, I don't believe there is anything wrong with an American being patriotic. If anything, I had always wished that Canadians could take a bit of that patriotism. At these games, I think we finally saw that.

The issue is what is the different between arrogance and patriotism? I think of a friend of mine who is an American who is very proud of her country. She is proud of her heritage and is proud to be an American. I also know that she is interested in finding out about other countries. She is is more than willing to show respect to other countries and be willing to learn about other cultures and customs. When she goes to other countries, she is respectful to their ways and beliefs and does not shove her own values down the citizens' throats. But she still isn't ashamed to declare where she is from and let others know she loves her country. I would say that is a pretty respectful form of patriotism.

During the games, I saw Canadians who proudly wore their country's colours and gleefully waved their flag. They cheered and hollered when their country's athletes were successful. I also heard other country's athletes declare that they were shocked by the Canadians' patriotism and how supportive they were of their athletes. What I didn't hear was those athletes complain about the behaviour of the Canadian fans. To me, the Canadians were just showing support and passion. When we won the gold medal in hockey, there was a giant party all over the country which displayed how proud and passionate we were. I don't see any shame in any of that. The problems would have arose if we insulted other nations or got in fights over the results. I don't think there was too many examples of disorderliness or embarrassing rowdiness. I didn't hear about looting during the hockey celebration. I didn't hear about Canadians getting in brawls with fans from other countries. Canadians accepted that other countries would be visiting the games and we were respectful of that. Canadians were also willing to cheer and celebrate when athletes from other nations put on an amazing performance. Showing respect towards other countries does not mean the fans did not show their passion and love for the athletes that represented Canada.

I feel it is important to be respectful to all countries and all backgrounds and cultures. I think it is imperative that we are not sheltered and unaware of the world around us. We must be informed and respectful, but that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to love our country and show how we feel about it. Patriotism does not mean disrespect and ignorance. I personally think true patriotism was shown at the games, and I would love for it to continue.

The Worst Games Ever???

I think, I have made it clear that I loved these Olympic games. There were several reporters from London and Russia that seemed to make it a hobby to constantly be negative about Vancouver. I agree that it was a tragedy that Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in the luging accident, and there is a strong possibility that the track may have sacrificed safety for speed. I agree that it was a little emberassing that the phallic symbol at the opening ceremonies has a mechanical failure (I am sure some men can relate to that). It must have been frustrating for many involved that the weather did not want to cooperate with the games thus causing some postponements. I was even frustrated with the Zamboni that preferred to ruin the ice with leaking water rather than clear the ice for the speed skaters. All of those things I found frustrating, but the reality is, things like this always happen at major events. Has any event been run completely as planned without any problems? Sure, some events are able to hide most of their glitches and definitely some of Vancouver's problems were quite significant. I think it is a bit of a overstatement to declare these the worse games ever. I would also think it is a little disingenuous that the biggest complainers also happen to come from the countries that will be the next hosts. I hate to be a cynic but it would appear they may be trying to get the heat off themselves a little bit for when they have the entire world watching them.

Yes, there were some big mistakes. I believe that despite those errors, the Vancouver team continued to work together and try to put on an amazing event. I think the closing ceremonies displayed the tongue in cheek humour that Canadians are known for. I think most of the events went off without much problems. I would guess that most of the people who were at the games had one of the best times of their life. I would consider the games a massive success despite some of the errors that were committed at the beginning.

Canada Won the Most Golds Ever! What Does Canada Do Now?


The first week of the games, there was a lot of complaints that the 'Own the Podium' program was a failure. The goal going into the games was to win the most medals of any country at the games. Those a very lofty expectations from a country that has never done such a feat. They were even loftier expectations when you recognize this is a country that never even won a gold medal on our own soil at the Olympics. Yet the expectation were there and a lot of Canadians were complaining about our athlete's performances. Then there was talk that they would consider the 'Own the Podium' program a failure and cut the majority of the spending.

They were going to cut off a program that had only been around for 5 years. Let me repeat, that this was a five year program. Compare this to countries like the United States or Russia or China that have invested millions into athletics for decades. Yes, the USA, China and Russia are considered athletic powerhouses but this has happened after years of creating world class training facilities and dropping several million into every program. These also are countries that have much larger populations, thus a greater pool to choose their athletes from. There is reason why typically a school from Toronto does better than a school from a farm town when it comes to athletics. It doesn't have to do with the fact that Toronto grows more naturally athletic people. It has to do with the fact they have a greater population thus more students to choose from when it comes to picking a sports team. Plus a greater population also means they can raise more money thus buy better equipment that can be used for training. People generally accept that fact when it comes to sports in high school (which is why there is divisions based on school size), yet we're oblivious when it came to international competition. The reality is, Canada was an underdog because they had less people and less money than the bigger countries (population wise -- our land mass may give us more beavers, moose and tundra but that does not help create a competitive alpine ski team).

All of sudden, Canada creates a program with the goal of putting as many athletes as possible on the podium. The belief is that after only investing five years that our athletes should be the best in the world, despite the fact this type of attention has never been shown before. When it started becoming clear that Canada would not 'own' the podium, there was talk of scrapping the program. You can't expect massive changes in five years. You also can't expect a five year program to compete with programs that have been in place for decades. The 'Own the Podium' program is similar to the programs implemented by the USA or China but the difference is, those programs have been going on for decades.

Despite all this, Canada still won the most gold medals ever at the Winter Olympic games. Which means we won more competitions than any other country ever at a single winter Olympics. This would make me think our athletes were successful at the games. I would think this is something a Canadian should be proud of. I also think this is a sign that a program like 'Own the Podium' should not be scrapped.

The reality is since Canada will not be the host country at the next games, thus there will not be the same amount of money dropped into Canadian athletics. I do think the program should remain and a large amount of money should be poured into the amateur athletics. I can think of two main reasons, the first being that competition does instill patriotism and unity unlike many other things, and two, the success of our athletes helps motivate many other children to pursue their dreams and athletics. I think it is integral to get children to dream and to have goals. I think it is even better if those goal motivate a child to pursue a sport that causes them to be healthier and happier. Some people may say that these are only sports and games thus should not have a huge part of the tax payers' money. I think, these sports and games have amazing value because it promotes a healthy lifestyle, it promotes teamwork and hard work, and most importantly, it promotes others to have dreams. I am not sure you can put a price on things like that.

This Is Where I Conclude My Long Ramblings

The things that I will remember most about these games will not actually be the issues that I discussed above. Instead I choose to remember the amazing stories that were told at the Olympics. I will remember how Alexendre Bilodeau won the first ever gold medal on Canadian soil and declared that his inspiration was his brother with cerebral palsy. I will remember the story of the Slovenian skier, Petra Majdic, who had broken her ribs during the race but still did not give up, then ended up giving her country their first ever medal. I still have a picture in my mind of the excitement and passion that Jon Montgomery showed when he found out he won the gold medal. Who will ever forget Joannie Rochette winning the bronze medal, which she was not favoured to win, after going through the pain of having her mother suddenly die? I love the many stories of athletes reaching their career best or overcoming adversity. I love the passion that was seen in every single athlete. Despite the fact they all wanted to win, I loved seeing the humility and sportsmanship that was displayed by almost all of them. This is what I choose to remember about these Olympics. This is what the Olympics was about for me. This is the same reason that I will spend many sleepless night watching them in another 2 years.

Here's to Vancouver 2010, a fantastic event that I will not forget, ever.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ugh

That about sums up how my head feels at the moment. It appears an awful feeling has crept out from the gutter and firmly implanted itself in my head. So, today will not be the day of the promised, epic Olympic post. Instead, this will be the night that I try to sooth my aching head and dream about tutu wearing bears riding unicycles because that is exactly the delightful thought I need to ease the suffering of my pounding head. Unfortunately, no amazing writery-ness for you tonight, instead you should occupy yourself by playing in traffic or pursuing other fantastic past times. Hopefully, I'll be here tomorrow to deliver on the writing goodness.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Canadians' 'True' Crowning Olympic Moment

Canada won a record setting 14 golds at the Winter Olympics, but despite this amazing performance by the Canadian athletes, all that medal success wouldn't have been as sweet if it was not for medal 14. Was it that important for Canada to break a record? No, it was that important to win the gold in Men's Hockey. Many Canadians are very passionate about hockey, and probably have a sense of ownership of the game. They definitely do not like it when other countries can prove they are better than Canada, especially if that country is the lovely neighbours of the south. I think the mass celebrations across the country after last night's win, pretty much proves how important that game was to many Canadians. This was the gold medal that meant the most. I'll have to admit it was pretty sweet being able to avenge that loss against the States. It also helped that it was an absolutely amazing game with the perfect, nail biting ending. This will be a game that many Canadians will remember for a very long time.

I wanted to do a proper, extensive retrospective on the Olympic games but this day has been incredibly looooong and I am very much on the exhausted side. My goal is to have an epic Olympic retrospective for tomorrow's post, and to have an even more epic sleep now.