Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bullocks!

Wasn't that just a wonderful fireball to the eyeball. The Chicago Bulls were in solid form almost the entire game -- displaying a really tight defense, a solid passing game, and hitting the shots that mattered. They had a 12 point lead with about 5 minutes to go. I was already checking my calendar to make sure I'd be free to watch Game 6. Then the Bulls seemed to remember that it is the fourth quarter now, and they still hadn't started to choke yet. So, they choked. They choked in the most epic of ways. They blew their lead and basically stopped performing the way that got them the lead to begin with. So, now the hated Heat are in the finals, and my favourite team gets to go golfing. I hear it can be a fun hobby, so I hope they enjoy themselves.

Seriously, did they forget that they were the top team at the end of the season? I realize it is a whole new ball game come playoffs, but what an awful way to close out the year. As they completely came apart at crucial times in the final two games of this series. It seems they completely forgot that they actually dominated Game 1 and where looking to do a clean sweep themselves. Instead, they decided it would be better to lose four straight.

Gosh, that was a giant bowl of horse testes, and I hated the taste of it. Well, hopefully the Mavs bring the same type of play that swept the Lakers and they can get some vengeance for me on the Heat.

And Now I Distract You With a Cute Dog




Yep, my job here is done.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Shark Fin Soup For You -- In Brantford

Brantford Council has passed a bylaw which bans the sale of shark fins or related products in the city. Now, I approve of such a ban because I agree that cutting off an intelligent animal's fins and then tossing it back into the ocean is absolutely barbaric and reprehensible (especially considering it's for something that is considered a rich delicacy rather than a food staple). I question, the idea that Brantford being the first community to implement the ban is historic or even something that will encourage other communities to follow through. I don't think this is the first step towards a worldwide ban of the product or the definitive end of this brutal act. After all, "shark finning" is already banned in this country, but it is still prevalent throughout the country (proven by the fact you can still order shark fin soup in almost any authentic Chinese restaurant in Toronto -- showing there is easy access to the fins even if the country doesn't allow the act).

I appreciate the symbolic gesture done by Brantford council, but it really is nothing more than that. First of all, we don't live anywhere near sharks and so the massacre is not directly related to anyone in this community. I understand that the gesture was to try to stop the sales of shark fin soup, which would then stop the actual act (since it is obviously being done because there is money to be had). The problem is, Brantford is not really a community that embraces the whole concept of shark fin soup to begin with. I'd argue that most people that live here didn't even know such a thing existed and definitely even fewer ever had it before. I'm pretty sure that it isn't even on the menu in any Chinese restaurants in this city. So obviously, the act doesn't really inconvenient Brantford in anyway. I'm sure similar cities with small Asian populations will have no problem taking up the same gesture (or if you prefer, easily enforceable bylaw). The bigger results have to come from the cities like Vancouver and Toronto, where shark fin soup is consumed at weddings and other major event (sadly, I must concede it was served at my wedding -- something I still regret to this day).

I hate to say this, but I can't see Toronto or Vancouver, let alone major cities throughout Asia, adopting a similar bylaw any time soon. I can see politicians condemning it, but I don't see them actively enforcing anything. They may agree it is animal cruelty, but be afraid of upset a rather large demographic. Or more importantly, lose out on possible big business from that demographic.

I could be wrong. I will be very happy to be proven wrong. At this stage, I just don't see any major city (with a large Asian population) passing such a bylaw any time soon. I definitely don't see Brantford's motion as any type of real victory, other than one city making their stance on the act very clear. It'd be nice if this causes a chain reaction, and I'll hold off declaring any of it historic until a city where shark fin soup is consumed actually passes a bylaw against its sale.

The Office Season 7: Proves the Magic is Still There -- Most of the Time

I wanted to chime in with a few thoughts on this past season of The Office-- mainly in regards to the final few episodes. I've been a fan of this show since the (almost) beginning, and though I am a huge fan of the British version, I've never agreed with the folks that argue this series fell short. I also don't think it is really fair to compare a series that has gone 7 seasons with about 24 episodes each (except for the first season which only went 6) to a series that had a total of 14 episodes. Yes, the British seasons always delivered gold, but that is much easier to do when you keep the series really short. The Office, Americanized version, has done quite well for a series that has had a 7 year run and had to come up with a mass collection of episodes (since that is what they expect from major network series). I am the first to admit that this series did hit a few bumps during the fourth and fifth season, but think it has returned to respectable comic form these past two seasons (and still rivals almost any sitcom on television). Now, I realize The Office has slid farther and farther into the land of the absurd and no longer can be viewed as a show that is an actual slice of work life. Many of the characters have either become ridiculous parodies or no longer resemble the character that was initially introduced into the series. The documentary aspect has got a little silly with the camera showing up in places that it never should be in such as a grocery store or a little boy's bedroom. If you look past some of its growing flaws, you still realize the writing is pretty strong and it usually delivers two or three laugh out loud moments an episode. A season may hold a few stinkers here and there, but when The Office delivers a good episode, it usually borders on a legitimate comedy classic. The Office still has the ability to make some of the best single episodes in television, and though Modern Family has pretty much taken the crown as my faovurite sitcom, The Office is still the king of creating the best single episodes when it is in the right groove.

The Office really was hitting its groove at the end of this season. I am sure the writers felt they needed to step up in order to properly send off Michael Scott (essentially the main character of the show) because Steve Carrell (the actor who plays him) has decided to pursue his film career instead (based off his upcoming line up of films, it looks like the right choice). The last half of the season was a great combination of heartfelt sentimentality and gut-busting hilarity. The Michael and Holly storyline was a terrific combination of awkwardness (The Office speciality), outright humour and legitimate sweetness. The chemistry between the two was excellent and their budding relationship allowed for lots of great funny storylines. Though Michael Scott is the worst boss ever, you had to grow attached to the goof after 7 seasons and be happy that he was finally finding the love he always wanted. There were moments that this storyline provided some real emotions like sadness and joy (just like a real relationship). I felt for the character and was glad he got his rightful happy ending.

The final episode with Steve Carrell was one of the best episodes of the entire series. It had the perfect combination of sweetness, drama and comedy. In many ways, it would have been the perfect Series Finale to wrap up the entire show, but the producers have decided the series still has at least one season left. The final scene where Pam stops Michael Scott at the airport was a great TV moment and the perfect way to end the Michael character (after all, Pam and Michael always had a special type of connection since the beginning). I felt Michael's final day at the office played out perfectly with his growing jealousy of the new boss and the classically awkward exchanges with his employees. It also was a great showcase of why the Michael Scott character was so endearing. He proved that he really did love his staff and in the end, he started to selflessly show affection (in his own way) to every final staff member. You had to feel some happiness when Michael was moved by the staff’s sentiment of giving him a ‘Best Boss’ Dundie and he finally decided to replace the best boss mug (he bought), which he had sported for 7 seasons, with his new award (and then laugh really hard when he realized he still needed something to drink in for the last few days of work). I really liked the final exchange between Jim and Michael as it the exact type of final moment you'd expect between those two characters. Michael's reference letter for Dwight was also the right combination of funny and sweet. It really was a great way to write out Michael Scott, and I am pretty sure this was probably the way the show should have been sent off.

The Michael Scott episode wasn't even the season finale, and The Office actually delivered three more great episodes after that. I really thought Will Ferrell nailed his four episode guest appearances, and delivered the type of humour that we had expected from The Office after all these years. He really fit into his role nicely and part of me wishes he was a full time replacement for Carrell, but I can also see where he would likely have ended up being nothing more than a tired clone (but they avoided that by only having him around for a short time). Will had great chemistry with the staff and created some great Office moments like his insistence on Andy being the funny guy, showing off his juggling skills without any juggling balls, and his final moment where he tries to show off his slam dunk skills. His stretch of episodes where easily some of the funniest stuff The Office ever produced and showed it still had the potential to be the best show on TV.

Of course, the episode that Dwight finally got to be office manager was as funny and awkward as you could ever hope for. I loved his justification for carrying around a gun in the office was that he didn't have anything else to put in his gun holster (because it is perfectly reasonable to have a gun holster as part of your office uniform). Then there was the priceless moment of Dwight firing off the gun in the office, and then trying to get everyone to cover for him (I especially loved when he ran the meeting and tried to do a Michael Scott like character). It was an episode that finally paid off the long running arc of Dwight trying to prove he would be the best manager for the company (and he failed spectacularly just like we all wanted him to). Though the episode did end in a sweet way, when Jim essentially tried to encourage Dwight and acknowledged Dwight did do some good things during his one week of terror (like making sure all shipments got out on time).

The season finale proved to be packed with humour but also provide the intrigue expected in a season finale (I think every The Office finale had some type of cliffhanger except for Season 1). Creed as interim manager was absolutely hilarious, and even though I partly wish it went on longer, the short stint provided enough laughs and avoided running the joke into the ground. It looks like they have written out the Gabe character, which is a good thing because he started to become irritating (the show has enough characters that do that) and a little two one dimensional (plus the cast is bloated as is and it needed to do some trimming of minor characters). Kathy Bates provided some great cameos in the final few episodes, and is definitely one of the best new characters (though since she has her own show, her recurring appearances will likely continue to shrink). The best part of the finale was the search for a new boss, which allowed for some great guest appearances by some great comedians (Ray Romano, Jim Carrey, that guy from Arrested Development, Ricky Gervais playing David Brent). I think every single one of the prospective bosses knocked their roles out of the park and provided some hilarious moments. If you've stopped watching The Office over the last few years, I'd definitely recommend you to try to snag this finale, because there was some classic stuff during the interviews with the prospective new bosses. Considering all the actors are rather big names that are likely pursuing their own television vehicles or films, I am pretty sure the boss won't end up being any of the guys interviewed (thought it might end up being the lady, since the character had a friendship with the CEO, Jo – plus not sure what the actress does outside of this cameo). The episode left on a great cliffhanger and I am sure will cause many fans to debate all summer over who will get hired for the position. I am interested to see if one of the current characters will be pushed into the spot (like Darryl) or if it will be an entirely new cast member. Whoever ends up getting the spot, I really do hope it is a character that is very different than the Michael Scott character or otherwise, he'll just end up being a cheap imitation.

The Office proves it still can deliver some of the best laughs on televisions. That is pretty impressive for a series that has run for 7 seasons, since usually by that point most series are either cancelled or just asking to be put to rest. I do think they should have ended the series with Michael Scott leaving, because it essentially wrapped up every major story arc that the show started with. The final few episodes did prove that it can still deliver the funny and it will be entertaining without Steve Carrell. I also think the show needs to start focusing on an end point and not try to drag this thing out for several more years. If they decide Season 8 is the final, then I think it has potential for being a really strong season to wrap things up. If they want to continue beyond that, then it has potential for becoming a bit of a disaster that just happens to stumble upon the occasional laugh (also see The Simpsons).

I do think Season 7 was one of the best of the series, and I am satisfied with how they resolved major story arcs. I think there is potential for Season 8 to be fairly interesting. I'll stick with this show, and keep the faith that it will eventually end in a rather satisfying manner.

Vancouver Just Saved Me From A 3 Sports Ninja Kick to the Groin

In what was supposed to be a wonderful night of sports, I ended up suffering from the rage of the sports gods. Tonight, I had three big games I was invested in and I was looking forward to some sweet victory. For a little while there, I was sensing that I was instead going to get a threepeat of suckage. Luckily, the ol' Canucks pulled through for me, apparently forgiving me for cheering against them when they matched up against my favourite team, the New York Rangers, in the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. I'm really glad that they did overcome San Jose Sharks because not only is it nice to see a Canadian team finally have a good shot at the Cup, but also I really started to think that Tuesday night was just out to hurt my feelings. I had three games that I was really feeling would turn out well, and instead it became an almost disaster. I wanted to see my Toronto Blue Jays gain a second straight victory over the hated Yankees in order to move up the standings, witness the awesome Chicago Bulls plow through the evil Miami Heat to tie up the series, and root the Vancouver Canucks on to the finals with a victory over the San Jose Sharks. I ended up having to settle for just one.

I started watching the Jays game with then up 4-1 in the 6th. I was rather jubilant about the very real prospect my team was going to get a consecutive win over the Yankees and make some real movement in the standing. Instead, I witnessed the most nightmarish 8th and 9th innings as the Jays totally blew away their lead to lose 5-4. I'm thinking it is time the Jays start thinking about getting a new closer, as an over 5.00 ERA closer isn't anything to boast about or to ensure you maintain leads. Or at least, find a way to calm Frank Francisco down and start pitching a more consistent game. Though the blame can't all be put on him because the fielding committed some errors and the batters didn't step up when an insurance run was crucial. So, I had to put up with the gloating of a Yankees fan and I whined over yet another blown lead.

I was sure that my Chicago Bulls would tie up the series with the Miami Heat. Based off the first half, it was looking like that would happen as they played solid defense and were performing an excellent passing game. Derrick Rose was in fine leadership form and getting his team to perform close to his high standards. Unfortunately, a games is more than the first half, and the second ended up becoming very frustrating. Though it got a lot worse in overtime where the Bulls couldn't hold on to the ball and just started playing a really sloppy game. Now, I have the ultimate frustration of my team being near the brink of elimination and it happening at the hands of a team I despise. It's the NFC Championship all over again.

After two disappointments, I needed the Vancouver Canucks to pull me out of the slums. Canucks aren't my faovurite team but they've become my de facto team now that the New York Rangers are off golfing. I think, it would be nice to finally see a Canadian team win the cup after almost 2 decades of waiting. For awhile tonight, it looked like the Canucks were going to have to play a Game 6 in San Jose. Luckily, there was a last second goal in the 3rd and we got to experience the excitement of over time. Twice. It ended up being a long night as the final goal wasn't scored until almost 1am EST. It was a doozy of a game and I'm glad I can claim some satisfaction for the night. Even if I'd still prefer my Stanley Cup to be the 1994 rematch with my New York Rangers, but I'll happily root for the Canucks until next season.

That is my night that almost ended up being a sports nightmare, but ended with a sweet bit of retribution (even if it was a win by a team that I've just started to cheer due to my own team's disappearing act). Oh well, now I have to hope my Bulls pull off the big win -- three times. For now, I'll just be happy I avoided a 3 losses of shame on this finally-it-isn't-raining-so-lets-watch-TV (though I did go for a nice walk prior) Tuesday night.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Relax On a Long Weekend? Bah!

So, here in Canada it is Victoria Day, which means most get the day off work so that they can blow stuff up and drink beer, in order to commemorate a Queen that the majority of Canada has never heard about (or slept through history class while the teacher tried to acknowledge her). Normally, it would be a wonderful day to have lots of people over and have ourselves a grand BBQ of awesomeness. It has been a crazy last few months for countless reasons (as I've not been shy about mentioning on this blog) and so organizing a party has been the last thing I've thought about. Plus weather decided we didn't get enough of that rain, so it isn't really a lounge outside kind of day (but it was a frantically try to mow the lawn before the downpour type). Besides, I've actually got quite a bit of work to attend to today, both of the writing and personal nature. Though I'd like to try some of that relaxation thing too, so I'm probably going to wander away from the blog for the rest of today. If things go my way, I should have good stuff in store for you this coming week.

Enjoy your Monday -- be it the holiday or non-holiday variety, depending where you're reading this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oops, Everyone Is Still Here

Well, that was the most boring Rapture ever. No zombies or world wide earthquakes or dragons burning peasant villages or rap offs between MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. You know, the things you come to expect from your end of the world happenings. Plus there wasn't any disappearing acts or rocket ships blasting off thousands of people. From what I can surmise, everyone is still here. Looks like Harold Camping is going to have to do a bit more math and analysis of his Bible, in order to get new 'irrefutable proof' of the return of Jesus and the magic tricks.

Oh well, not all weekends can be the end of the world. I hope you had a wonderful one just the same.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oh No! It's the Last Saturday Ever!

Or at least it is if you've decided to jump on the Harold Camping crazy train. Apparently, today is the time Jesus will be whisking away Christians (which is probably one of the most debated terms in the world) and leave everyone else behind for the earthquakes, volcanoes, zombies and Pauly Shore. Because apparently, a loving and all powerful deity is cool with destroying a huge portion of his beloved creation. I am not really going to debate that right now, because we have more important things to be concerned about, such as this being the last Saturday EVER! Or not.

The New York Times has a really interesting article on how this recent "it's the end of the world" craze has affected various families, especially those families comprised of part "Yahoo! I'm being rocketed up to heaven and all the heathens are going to explode!" and other part "You're nuts" factions. I think it is especially disturbing how at peace some of these folks are with the fact that they believe loved ones will be left behind to suffer and just chalk it all up to God's will, which is also known as passing your heartlessness on to something else. I'm also amused by the obsession with knowing when is the end of the world or at least, the Rapture. There is several other groups that have other specific dates in mind for world's end and the whole idea of the Rapture is a billion dollar industry with books, DVDs and mints (maybe). I realize the interest is due to the fact it is an unknown and also has to do with our own mortality (or specifically, life after death), and these are two things that always capture a large audience's interest. I just feel this dabbling with the Rapture is a special brand of crazy, especially since many Biblical scholars argue back and forth over if it even exists (let alone, the huge population that just thinks the whole religion itself is a fancy little fairy tale), and so it is far from an even accepted event that you can look forward to happening. Even if you do decide to believe in the Rapture, you have to admit the Bible does a pretty good job on being ambiguous about it, especially when it comes to pinpointing a date (heck, there is passages that insinuated that Christ's return was supposed to be during the Disciples life time). You can't help getting a feeling that if you do believe there has to be a rapture and that the Bible was talking about such a thing, that it at least God wasn't really wanting you to know the date.

Yet Harold Camping and many others like to spout out that they know the exact day that Christ is whisking away all the Christian and leaving everyone else to take part in an epic real life disaster movie. Of course, all the 'Rapture experts' are unable to agree on this exact date, but at least, they all seem to know that it is within the next two years. So, that must mean something, right?

Only if you discount the fact that Camping thought the Rapture was going to be in 1994 before, and maybe that was an enrapturing type of year but there wasn't any heaven rocket ship present. Prior to that, many 'prophets' promised we'd all be shot up to heaven in the 70s, the 60s, during World War 2, or countless other times, usually shortly after some major event that proved Christ had to be coming.

But of course, Camping now has irrefutable evidence that today is the day. Apparently, all those other times it was just throwing darts at a board. So, if he is right tten make sure you've changed into a fresh pair of underwear, because nothing is worse than meeting your maker when you're in a pair of dirty briefs.

Enjoy your last Saturday ever!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Survivor Redemption Island Review: One Survivor Finally Finds Redemption

First things first, if you are going to whine and moan about me spoiling a day old telecast then this isn't the post for you. Turn back. Turn back now!

Okay, you've been warned.

Redemption Island was being sold on two major gimmicks. The one was it being the first time that a Survivor was not completely eliminated from the competition when they were voted off, because they had a chance of getting back in when they lasted through the 'duels' on Redemption Island. The second major gimmick was Boston Rob vs. Russell, which was an idea that they teased way back on Heroes vs. Villains after it was clear neither liked each other (and the fact both were major rating draws). Both ideas sort of worked, but maybe weren't the huge game changers that were promised. I enjoyed the Redemption Island concept and that it changed one's strategy on who would be voted off. If a player blindsided someone, she knew there was a strong chance the castaway could come back to haunt her. The problem is, it didn't turn out that way at all. The tribes didn't seem to let Redemption Island factor too much into who they voted off, and they never really paid for any blindsides, since both times the Redemption Island returnee was immediately voted off again (though Andrea made an amazing attempt at making a big play and try to be factor when she returned -- but came up horribly short). As for Boston Rob vs. Russell, the first few episodes with them were amazing and both are two of my favourite characters ever on this show. Unfortunately, Russell had a very short run this season, because his tribe couldn't get over his past reputation. As the season showed, that could have been the worse move that tribe ever did. It meant for very little of Russell and that is a sad thing, because he is one of the most entertaining Survivors ever, even if you don't like him (which is more than you can say for the ultra bland tribe he was stuck on).

The early exit of Russell meant that this became the Boston Rob season. I know that Survivor All-Stars has always been labeled as the Boston Rob season because he controlled so much of what happened. I am pretty sure that Rob was even more of a masterful puppeteer this time and ended up calling every single major play. I've admitted before that I haven't seen a lot of seasons of Survivor (but I've heard about and watched clips of most), but I think Boston Rob ended up being the most dominant and controlling player in Survivor history this season. It was unbelievable how much Rob was able to connive and manipulate everybody. Even when it was clear that he would backstab and blindside his own teammates when he needed to, his tribe would stay loyal and do everything he said. This has to be one of the few times that during the merge, one tribe stayed loyal to each other until they wiped out the other tribe.
This season may not have had the best turns or collection of personalities, but the remarkable game play by Rob will go down as one of iconic Survivor moments (if an entire season can be a moment). He was so dominant that when he survived to the final tribal council (and never once being in real trouble of getting voted off), it was clear that he had to win unless the Tribal Council was going to hold bitterness towards him for being responsible for each of their eliminations (there is no disputing he was the reason every single of them was on that council). The council proved that there was hard feelings and frustration for some of Rob's gameplay, but there was also a clear realization that his two competitors were only there because he decided they could be. So, the 10 year quest of Rob trying to finally win the Survivor crown came to a satisfying conclusion on Sunday, when it was revealed he took the vast majority of the votes (it appears he only lost Ralph's vote, who gave a pity nod to Phillip).

The final tribal council ended up being a crazy time. The part I really liked was that not only did Rob give an amazing final speech where he laid out how he controlled the game and how he deserved to win based off his work ethic, excellent social game, winning challenges, and being responsible for every elimination, but his competitors admitted in their own speeches that they were in the finals because of Rob. It is remarkable to me that two people who should be giving speeches to convince the council why they should win the million dollars, instead laid out exactly why Rob should win. Of course, they weren't trying to help Rob win, but admitting their strategy was to stay loyal to Rob ended proving how strong a player he was the entire time.
This was a council that was full of anger and bitter evictees, and a lot of venom was thrown, especially towards Natalie (for being someone they perceived as doing nothing but riding Rob's coattails even if it meant backstabbing a friend). The tribal council usually is full of people who feel they were wrongly voted off or betrayed (despite that essentially being the entire premise of the game), but this time was jam packed with angry members securely holding onto their sour grapes. Of course, there were a few members that seemed to appreciate the game play by Rob, and Steve even commended Natalie for outlasting him in the game. The most interesting member was David who didn't do the normal task of questioning the three finalist, but instead, addressed the jurors by pleading that they realize there was only one true choice for winner, Rob. It was a unique root to go and I also wonder if it did persuade a few fence sitters who were clinging to a grudge against Rob. In the end, Rob crushed the voting and got the rightful crown for his dominant game play.

You have to wonder what would have happened if Russell's tribe wasn't so freaked out by him, and threw a challenge into order to give him an early exit. Up until they threw the challenge, they had won every time and were knocking off Rob's tribe. After they got rid of Russell, they only won one more challenge and were then picked off at will. When they merged, they were not only down in numbers, but seemed to have no other strategy than try to win immunity (which they never did). In one of the few times in Survivor history, a tribe stayed united during the merge and completely wiped out the opposing group. Witnessing one man have so much control and power is what made this season so fascinating, even if it didn't have the usual twists and negotiations. Russell's former tribe seemed to be completely powerless once they merged and had no idea on how to try to get power back to them. If they had stuck with Russell to the merge, I know the game would have been very different. After all, Russell is the guy who went into the merge with only four member of his tribe against eight on the other, yet was able to keep his four members right down to the final five (and make sure it was his tribe that comprised the entire final three). This time around, the tribe was obsessed with Russell being known as a villain, and it meant they got rid of their best asset and went into the merge really weak. For me, that was incredibly satisfying because I had wanted Russell to last much longer, but it was great to at least see his boring tribe pay dearly for getting rid of him so soon. It does leave you to wonder how different Rob's strategy would have been if he had to contend with Russell for longer than eight days (or if Rob ended up on the opposite tribe at the start of the game).

Once Russell was booted, there really wasn't many strong players besides Rob, which mean he had a cake walk (David had potential, but his allies were mostly numbskulls or just too 'nice' to play the game properly). This doesn't mean that the game didn't have one of the most entertaining and endearing (in an absurd way) players of all time: Phillip.

How could you not love Special Agent (?) Phillip? Seriously, the guy was comic gold, and I cannot believe that such a polarizing and odd character (who never won a single challenge or had any type of decent social game -- hell, everyone seemed to despise him) lasted to the very end. I am so happy that he did. I loved how absolutely clueless he was, and how he would ramble on about Samurais and Native American spirituality and of course, how he knew everything because he was a former Special Agent (and did lots of ‘secret agent’ work during the game). If Phillip wants to return, I guarantee that the producers will have him back. He really only made it to the end because Rob thought he would be an easy win (and he was completely correct on that gamble), but his longevity helped make the season extremely entertaining. I also find humour in the fact that Phillip kept going on about having a secret weapon at the end (he knew Rob wanted him in the final, due to the fact he was so despised, thus he was a seemingly easy opponent) and had a speech planned that was supposed to give him a surprise victory over Rob. His big speech basically was that he tried to eliminate Rob at the beginning, but realized it wouldn't work because Rob was too strong, and so he decided to stay loyal to Rob until the very end. Not sure how that would make people see Phillip as the undisputed winner, but I also don't know how walking around in pink underwear or wearing feathers on your head would make you appear to be a sane person (I don't have Phillip logic). Phillip was not a good player, but he was definitely was one of my all time favourites. The man was hilarious and the second best part of the season, right after just watching Rob completely dominate the entire game.

I also think it would only be fair to give mention to Matt. Who almost lasted all the way to the end despite being the second person voted off. He won almost every Redemption Island duel, except the two that counted (one which would have allowed him to see his family member and another which would have got him into the final five). He stuck in the game for a really long time and was forced into isolation for the majority of the season. You couldn't help feel bad for him, and want to root for him to get back into the game. I was a big fan of his, until I started getting annoyed with his constant preaching about how his being on Redemption Island was some sort of huge master plan entirely constructed by his god. Matt played a huge part in the entire season's overall story. First, there was just the incredible determination and skill he showed by always winning his duels and being able to mentally survive while he was left alone on Redemption Island. The other bigger part he played was the two times he got voted off. Both times, Rob orchestrated his elimination because Matt was talking to the other tribe. When Matt came back, he immediately started flipping back and forth between the tribes to see his options, which then lead to his immediate exile back to Redemption Island. This demonstrated to the tribe how powerful Rob was, and why they didn't want to talk to the other tribe. It made them fear Rob, and it was the big reason why there wasn't much communication among his tribe. It was a brilliant move, and probably the move that ensured Rob would win the game. Yes, poor Matt was only a pawn in the grand scheme of the show, but what a glorious pawn he was.

How I do I rank this season among past ones? Well, Rob and Phillip made it a very good one -- for entirely different reasons (one for unparalleled play and other for unparalleled buffoonery). The problem is, there were just a lot of really weak and bland players. The Redemption Island concept is a good one, but in the end, it didn't really factor into the final result (the final three were never on the island). The game had really great moments and Rob's will win go down as an all time classic, but it lacked the tension and kibitzing of past seasons. It was way better than the previous season (Survivor: Nicaragua), but fell far short of Heroes vs. Villains. It was still a really good season, and one that will be discussed for a long while. For many, it was rewarding to see Rob finally get his long sought after title, especially in such a dominant fashion. It was further proof that Survivor is a show that is only as good as the players that are involved. Luckily, it had some really strong personalities to make up for the army of dull ones.

I enjoyed it and the final few episodes were very solid. A few of the players started realizing Rob was controlling the game and they finally stepped up their play. It was far too late, and they allowed him control for way too long. I am glad that almost all (except for silly old Ralph the Rooster) recognized who deserved the title; even if they felt he did it unethically (whatever that means in a game about backstabbing and manipulation). It was a fun ride and I'll be interested to see what they have in store for the upcoming fall season, where Redemption Island is back and two former players return to try to gain their own redemption (finally win the championship). Overall, a season that demonstrated the strengths of the show and allowed for the fabled water cooler talk after it was all over.

Because Many Would Expect Me to Mention This

The Hulkster was in Brantford (the place I call home) on Saturday for the first time since 1985. It was part of a big wrestling event at the Civic Centre, called Battle at the Bush 2, which raised funds for the Miles To Go cancer support group and the Brantford Community Resource food bank (both really great causes). It seems like the event was either a sell out or at least, drew a really large crowd (I'm not sure how much the Civic Centre holds, but it would definitely be several thousand when you can also use the floor for seating).

I'm sure many who know me (or at least think they know me), would have assumed I'd shake my little self over to this event, but alas, I was in Toronto. I had contemplated it, but in the end, I had far more important and meaningful family events to partake in. Plus there is the fact that despite I am a life long wrestling fan and even a bigger fan of 'old school' wrasslin', I've never been a huge Hulk Hogan fan. Since the show was centered around him and the tickets where marked up based on that fact, I didn't have the strongest desire in the world to attend anyway. But I appreciate the fact that many Ontarians are huge Hulkamaniacs, and I am glad that the event did really well (considering it was for a good cause). Now, if Macho Man had been scheduled on this event. . .

Anyway, sounds like it was a good time, and it is pretty cool that one of the biggest stars in wrestling actually showed up to little old Brantford. I'm more stoked over the fact that Brantford was able to host a fairly large event, rather than the fact Hogan was hobbling about.

Actually, it shouldn't be a huge surprise that an event promoting 'old school' wrestling would do well in this area, because way back in the day (mid 80s), WWF (now know as WWE) used to tape one of their weekly wrestling shows here. At one point, this was considered a pretty big wrestling town and definitely holds an important history in that regards. Brantford was hosting WWF right when it was becoming a huge national powerhouse and a star like Hogan was turning into a media sensation. The reality is, for a small period in the 1980s, Hogan was a legitimate superstar outside of wrestling (many felt he was going to become a Hollywood blockbuster star -- until he stunk the joint with horrendous movies). Brantford was one of the places that his massive growth began. Of course, to this day Hogan is still the most recognizable star (next to maybe the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin -- though the older demographic knows Hogan way better) outside of wrestling and has a huge following of people who once were wrestling fans (or still are). It was definitely cool to see Hogan going back to his roots, and a different time period being honoured for a night.

I am just fine with missing it, but it still looks like it could have been fun.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh Yeah, This Is What Busy Is Like

Not that I was needing or wanting to be reminded of busy. It has just been a rather long and crazy day. Productive though. But busy enough that I forgot about that fun little thing called lunch. So, I am going to go reacquaint myself with that tradition. You go have yourself a wonderful afternoon. I may or may not return from this craziness that I call Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Ol' Spicy Ranch Movie Round Up

In the past year, I haven't seen a large amount of movies. I'm sure for some that is a badge of honour were you can gloat, "See, I've only went to see one movie, because my life is too full of running and hiking and eating granola to worry about such frivolous things such as movies." But I don't wear such a badge -- actually, I don't wear any badges because I don't need no stinking badges. I look back at a time where I watched almost a movie a week and I see those as being the good days. I can't see me ever possibly going to see a movie a week ever again, but I'd like to try to at least get it close to a movie a month. I remember as a kid being captivated by watching so many larger than life extravaganzas at the cinema, and a part of me has never changed from being enamoured with the magic of film. A good movie actually gets my creative juices flowing and causes me to come up with even more ideas for my own writing. I definitely get inspiration from reading novels and books, and I actually do that on a fairly regular basis (which reminds me, so many book reviews to try to tackle), but I love the different type of story telling that a great movie provides.

I'm hoping to try to catch a few more movies this summer, though there aren't a lot of the big budget summer blockbusters that are really leaving me with the inspiration to pull money out my wallet. Well, except for Super 8, which is probably the first movie that I've actually had child like glee when thinking about watching it -- though, I realize that also really sets me up for some major disappointment. I'm hoping to do a little summer movie season dining and improving on the movie watching resume that has been lacking over the last several years.

But I have seen some movies this past year. Though I really realized how little I've watched when the Academy Award nominations came out and I had only seen one of the films up for Best Picture (Toy Story 3). It wasn't because I wasn't interested in any of those movies, it was actually the exact opposite; I wished I had watched almost every one of them -- though, there is this thing called Blu-Rays that apparently allow me to watch movies after they've left cinemas, so I should check that out.

Anyway, I have watched a few films in the past 12 months or so, and I've been meaning to do film reviews of all of them (and actually did on some), but keep on pushing them back while writing about my career or lack of time instead. So, I decided I would make a list of all the movies (I remember) I watched for the first time (including films that are a few years old) this year and rank them from my least favourite to my favourite (with the total understanding that the list is one that could change a day from now depending on what I eat for lunch or how much my dog farts). I'll also provide a really short review on each film.

Here we go, my rather pitiful list of films I remember watching for the first time over the past year or so:

Battle: Los Angeles: A completely different movie than what the trailers promised and actually has a premise that has so much potential. The fact it didn't properly live up to the potential is what makes this film so utterly disappointing. Instead of being a straight up, glossy science fiction action movie, it tries to create the feel of a gritty, down in the trenches war film, which is a different spin for this genre. Unfortunately, it keeps all the alien movie cliches from Independence Day and Starship Troopers without the over the top epic battle scenes. The poor acting, writing and clichés cause it to totally miss the war movie vibe it wants to create and become an ugly dumb alien movie (and dumb alien movies need to be pretty and shiny with over the top battles).

Hereafter: An interesting premise and idea, but it gets muddled with too many characters and storylines going on. It is far less thought provoking then it thinks it is. For the most part, it is just a really dull movie with no big pay off.

Thor: It's a big, dumb comic book movie, but in a good way. I really liked the parallel of the polished, CGI universe of Asgard with the grittier, dirty looking Earth setting. It is a film that realizes how silly it is and revels in it with some fun moments of humour and over the top action. It does have clichés and has some transport truck size plot holes and overly corny dialogue at times, but it’s a big, budget summer movie so you shouldn't be expecting much else. Though I felt the ending was really anti-climatic (and confusing) and didn't provide the big war that had been building for the entire movie. On the comic book movie scale, it probably floats somewhere in the middle of the heap being a little behind X Men 2 or so.

Predators: Its Predator meets the The Cube, except hundred times less cerebral than anything The Cube pulled off. It is a fun little action movie with the cool kills and explosions that you expect. It didn't redefine the genre or anything, but you should have fun if you turn off your brain and know what to expect (and don’t nitpick how it doesn’t quite follow cannon).

Expendables: A wonderful homage to 80s actions movies, and my only wish was that it left out the annoying camera effects of modern action films and went total 80s here.

The Kingdom: A friend of mine has been trying to get me to see this film for a few years now and I am glad that I finally watched it. The interesting part of this movie is that it shows both the American side and the 'terrorist' side of things, and leaves it for the viewer to sort out their opinions on the matter. It also isn't an overly preachy movie either and has one of the best final chase scenes I've seen in a long. A really good movie that never got it's due when it first came out.

Get Him to the Greek: It is really crude and crass, but it is also absolutely hilarious. I actually went with people who don't normally like this type of movie but they all found it really funny. A movie that really established Russel Brand and Jonah Hill as future stars of comedy films and one of the best buddy films in a long time. Sean 'P Diddy' Combs absolutely shocked me with one of the funniest and craziest performances ever.

Toy Story 3: A sweet, funny and thoughtful movie that confirms why Pixar is the king of animated films. The effects are top notch as always and the story is one that will resonate with both children and adults (especially adults that really liked their toys).

Town: I know there is a lot of hate for Ben Affleck, but he stars and directs a great movie here. He knows his limits and gave himself a role where he didn't need to stretch his acting chops too much and gives the meatier stuff to the actors who can handle it. The characters in the film are deeply layered and help move the plot rather than the plot dictating what the characters should do. It's a compelling tale about a man torn between the only world he knows and the one that he is starting to realize he can be in.

Source Code: I wanted to write a full review on this, but if I never do, let it be known that this was a really great move. It is a science fiction action film that is also thought provoking and emotional, but once it starts making you think and feel too much, it throws in some great explosions and action. A great movie that will get you talking after, either about the concepts it brought forth or trying to work out parts of the plot or just about the cool big bangs that are littered about the film. It has some pretty cool twists that even if you figured them out beforehand (which I sort of did) are still really fun to watch unfold. As a nice change to pace, it isn't just a stupid twist for twists sake, but rather the type of twists that compliments and adds to the story (which is how it always should be). Really, really, really like this movie.

Wow, this can't be all the movies I've seen in this last year! I must be forgetting one or two. I can't remember anymore, which will end up meaning they're my favourites. I have to be one of the most pathetic excuses for a movie buff, ever. Anyway, it’s something to work towards for next year.

Monday, May 09, 2011

How Summit Spent His Mothers Day: A Photo Essay

HIKE!

















Just for the record, I did not have to feel the wrath of Crosby, because I did pay the proper homage to my wonderful and beautiful mother. We went out for a nicer dinner and spent some delightful hours together. So, it made for a great weekend to have quality time with the mom, and also go on a great hike with my gorgeous wife and bouncing puppy (while Crosby did the dishes and probably practiced his singing voice).

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Oh Sweet Mother, Have Yourself A Great Weekend

The entire Spicer family wants to wish all mothers the most excellent weekend ever. You ladies rock, and are the reason we are here today. I hope you beautiful women are treated as special as you all are.

Summit just wanted you to all know that he really loves Mother's Day.



And Crosby wanted me to tell you that he will be very unimpressed if any of you forget to show the love to your mother this weekend.



Actually, there is a good chance that a fight may break out if you neglect your mom. So, you've been warned.



But seriously, have an amazing weekend even if you're not a mother. You all deserve it.

Friday, May 06, 2011

So, Can the Conspiracy Nutjobs Take a Nap Now?

Al-Qaeda has officially confirmed the death of Osama Bin Laden, and posted their release on several of the militant sites. They've also promised fiery vengeance but that was sort of assumed by everyone once the death of Osama was announced. I think, the important thing here is that the announcement done by Al-Qaeda throws a wrench in the crazy conspiracy machine that has been building over the last several days about how Obama and crew were faking the death of Osama in order to boost popularity and help their re-election hopes.

Of course, that won't stop them form being all crazy and anti-Obama just like how the birth certificate never stopped them from declaring him an illegitimate President. Or how they're still convinced he is a Muslim or the reason why MacGyver was cancelled (maybe). I am not foolish enough to think that the anti-Obama crazy train will actually be derailed, but I'm hoping they might decide to come up with something else crazier (and hilarious) rather than claiming Osama died of sniffles 10years ago and the whole Sunday showdown was as staged as the moon landing (because crazies believe everything that normal people know are actually shit crazy).

Unless of course, the theorist want to claim that Al-Qaeda is in on the whole lie because. . . um. . . oh my god, Obama is the actual leader of Al-Qaeda and Osama was always just a CGI graphic and all of the Democrats are behind this in a desperate attempt to allow Islam to crush America because all Democrats like to be ruled and oppressed by terrorists (or aliens if they ever get here). Actually, I sort of expect something like this (especially the part about the aliens).

I guess, I'm actually the crazy for thinking this will shut up any of the Anti-Obamites. But it is always nice to dream.

My Freelance Writing Career: An Update

Today marks the end of my very first week of being full self employed. Except that I'm still not really entirely self employed, because I've kept part of my other job as a part time thing. The office job has gone from being beyond full time hours to barely part time hours. This week was the first time that writing was indisputable my main source of income and work hours. Boy oh boy, did I ever pile on the writing work hours, as some of my days ended up being close to 14 hours. Though that means way less time with the wife and kids (aka pets), I'm glad it is 14 hours of something I love rather than 14 hours of being yelled at by patients about how their 3 week old stubbed toe must be looked after today or they'll explode. So, I'm happy that I'm now in a spot where my day job is actually my writing business, and my supplementary income is my quality time spent with the scanner ('quality time' in this case means hideously boring).

In reality, my writing business has actually been my main focus for several months now, and I'd just been pulling in long (lawyer) hours when combining the two full time jobs It is hard to say if my business would have grown quicker and been more successful if I'd cut down my office work much earlier. I think back to a few weeks ago when I was plagued with a client drought, and it'd been even more “yank out the little hair I have” stress inducing if I didn't have a full time job to fill in that income gap. Of course, there is always the chance that the drought can haunt me again, which is why it is nice to have a back up job when needed. I do think security measures need to be in place when you’re self employed, and having another job you can turn to is nice.

Over the last few months, I've been getting more and more e-mails from people wondering how I've broken into the writing business and actually been able to make money from it. Most of them have been hoping for the magic spell that will instantly cause money to soar into their pant pockets. Unfortunately, I don't know that spell, and money isn't necessarily soaring anywhere in my direction. I'm doing okay, but I also hope to be doing a lot better in the near future. But the fact is, I have made some money writing and I've been able to turn it into a respectable full time business. The secret to this success is a little anti-climatic: I wrote. Really, that is all there is to it. You find something you’re interested in, and then you write an article on it. You then grab the latest Writer's Market and find where you can sell that piece. If that idea doesn't appeal to you, you jump on the the writing job boards and start writing query letters to all the businesses there. Then you don't give up, and keep on repeating this process. I don't really want to turn this post into a 'how to' article, so I'm not going to elaborate (but I'm sure I'll be moved to write something like that in the future), but the key to success is perseverance and writing. You don't have either of those, then you mind as well stick with whatever job is working for you now. It was pretty simple how I got to where I am now, though that doesn't mean it didn't take a lot of work and anxiety.

Though, I do think I made some mistakes, and it has caused me to re-evaluate my business plan and strategies. I'm currently in a spot where I deal with a middle man a lot, rather than directly work with the client. I have a suspicious feeling that I could be making a lot more money and gaining a lot more work if I connected directly with the clients who need stuff done for them. I’ve read quite a few sites that talked about the importance of sending out marketing letters directly to companies, and how that is the key step to really expanding your business. I decided to stick with the using job posting boards, partly because I didn't feel like I was established enough to market my talents and wasn’t really comfortable sending out cold letters to companies that may have no interest in writing. The job posting board route did work for me, but I am starting to sense it might be time to make that next big step for my career..

For the most part, I am pretty happy with my current spot on the writing career totem pole. I'm still pretty close to the ground, but I sense I am rising. I at least now have a portfolio and experience that will allow me to become more appealing to the bigger businesses that I decide to promote my wares to. Now, I've also read a lot of sites that claim it is really important to have niche and to focus on a specific type of writing (e.g. SEO writing for real estate). I've blatantly ignored that type of advice and plan to continue to do that, until I have actual evidence that it is hurting my potential to make money.

Instead, I've actually been writing on a huge variety of topics and writing in several different fields. I think this strategy works because 1) it keeps me interested because I don't get bored doing the same kind of writing every single day and 2) it means I have multiple revenue streams going and so if one dreis up for a bit, I still have the other type of work to fall back on. Plus I never envisioned myself as a strictly SEO or ad copy writer, and so I am less inclined to make that my full time selling point. I also have an insatiable ego that needs to be fed, and so I have to occasionally do some work that gives me a byline, which SEO and ad copy never will. I like mixing things up with doing opinion pieces or journalism or book reviews or whatever else I can convince someone to allow me to write for money. Of course, you probably remember that my dream since I was very young was to be a published author. I don't want to close any door that will improve my chances of getting a novel or book published in the next few years or so. For me, it makes more sense to have lots of different writing going on rather than perfect a certain niche.

It does mean I'm busy. I do think I work way more than I should for amount of money I am making, but I also hope that is just the reality of starting out in the arena self employment. It is a matter of going against my nature and start planning for the next several months worth of goals and decide how I'm going to get to a spot where I am being paid what I'm worth (to be fair, I do think a few of my client are paying me what I'm worth -- but the goal is to get all clients in that ballpark). It's been an exciting last few weeks and I am sure things will get more exciting and unfortunately, more anxiety ridden.

I'll definitely keep you all updated on this little journey of mine and hopefully, it will aid others who have similar dreams and goals. I'm now going to do that whole write for money thing. You have a Friday full of awesome.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Important Video for All UK Cats

I think, the title explains it all.



I do want to say, this would be a rather worthwhile referendum for our Canadian cats to look into. Or at least, the Canadians people (who either own or don't own cats) to start trying to push forward as a viable referendum. There is something wrong when getting 39.6% of the votes translates into a majority government. Oh well, I won't complain too loudly, because I wouldn't want to force Reform Cat to keep me in line.

Thanks to a good buddy who pointed me in the direction of this video.

My Deep and Profound Thursday Pondering

Were 80s video game characters the most fragile or possibly even most suicidal individuals ever? A quick look at some of the character such as a guy whose toe may have touched a rolling barrel, so he'd feel compelled to leap off scaffolding as a result; or a plumber who kisses an over sized turtle and suddenly must propel himself off a cliff or elevator (though he may have been suffering from brain damage from all the bricks he smashed with his head); or a pink or blue curtain with eyes vaguely waves in the direction of a hungry block of cheese and the cheese instantly shrivels away; or a white jungle boy with an unlimited supply of throwing hatchets can do amazing moves on a skateboard but is deathly allergic of the top of a snake's head. I'm telling you, if you've got a battle royal to attend, you don't want bring these guys. Now, those Street Fighter guys. . .

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dear Stephen Harper. . .

First things first, congratulations on being re-elected the Prime Minister of Canada. Yeah, I didn't vote for you, but after calling you the worst Prime Minster in my lifetime, you probably could have figured that out on your own. I also believe people can really change and that everyone deserves a second chance (or third or fourth or twenty-second), so I'm willing to take this four year ride with you and give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, you got that majority government now, and didn't you claim that was the reason you couldn't bring forth all these awesome policies that you have planned, or why you throw out a prorogue here or there, or why you couldn't be as open and honest as us silly Canadians assume a democratic government should be? Maybe these next four years will be really awesome, even if it is hard to believe that because, well you know, you've already had a few years to prove yourself (I know, I know, minority government -- blah blah blah -- sorry, already forgot).

I learned a long time ago that I believe and think a lot differently than you and your party. You know what? There are a lot of people who think differently than me or believe opposing things to my own thoughts, but I'm still willing to call them friends and enjoy a few beers with them. I am not expecting us to view every issue the same or be on the exact page with everything. I can accept we're going to view this world a little differently, and that is fine with me. I know there is a lot of people who read this blog and totally disagree with some of my ramblings (and they let me know it) and I actually welcome that because it creates great dialogue. I am not expecting you to have the exact same stance as me on homosexuality or abortion or religion or pop tarts. But what I am expecting you to be is a government that respects the diversity of this nation and tries to uphold the liberties and freedoms all the citizens should be entitled to. What I really expect is for you to not form policies that pander to one specific subsection of the population. Your goal as the representative of the people should be to look after the entirety of the people and make sure you’re not alienating entire demographics and groups. It is 2011 now (you may have noticed), and this country is a lot different than it was hundred years ago or even 10 years ago. It definitely is not a nation just compromised of far right 'moral' types that justify their prejudice through their religion (and again, the funny thing about religion is that many people practice many different types -- so you can't really use that to govern a nation). Feel free to think what you want or to believe in whatever god you want or hold to any mindset, but remember, when you run a country you need to take all the different types of people in to account. Otherwise, you come off as pandering to groups in order to win votes and sponsorships.

You notice how I said, I am okay with you having different views and beliefs? It would be sort of nice if you agreed that it is okay for me to have different beliefs or for other people to have beliefs different than your own. The thing that makes a 'free country' awesome if that you have freedom speech and are allowed to express yourself. In order for that to actually be awesome, you really need to be allowed to express yourself freely. Do you see what I mean here? You have to let people speak their mind and opinions even when it disagrees with what you feel. If you start arresting people for peacefully protesting against something, then you're not really sticking to that whole freedom thing, are you? That seems more like a dictatorship or one of those countries that you've deployed troops in. And why are troops over there again? Can you remind me? Was it something to do with trying to bring democracy over there? Maybe allow people the right to freedom of speech and right to choose a religion? It appears you do understand democracy and think it is pretty awesome. So, if you can stick to that belief for the next four years then that would be a cherry on top of the sundae.

There is another thing that is kind of funny about democracy, and it is the whole thing that the leader is supposed to be representing the people. In order to represent them properly, you should probably let them know what you’re doing or why you did something like spend millions and millions of dollars. Especially since, some people might get the funny feeling they gave you that money to spend in the first place. I don't know about you, but if a friend of mine kept on doing stuff behind my back and kept telling me it was none of my business, I'd start thinking he was a pretty shady friend. Maybe I’d even think they’re someone who isn't completely honest. I realize politicians get that label anyway, but it is at least nice if you try to pretend to be open and honest. When people start asking you questions and wanting to know what is going on, it would be great if you didn't pull a temper tantrum and cry that we don't have any right to know. Or throw out a policy people don’t want and claim this it isn’t open for discussion – not open for discussion -- in a democracy . . . wha? Temper tantrums and unreasonable demands is sort of what a 2 year old does, and nobody really wants a 2 year old to run a country. That is why we have a minimum age requirement to be Prime Minster (no 2 years allowed for country leader). Besides, you can't really be representing the people if you don't let the people know what the hell you're doing. So, you've got the majority now and you basically have the power to push things forward, so it'd great if you start explaining things and maybe start impersonating a leader of a free country.

Since you have majority government, could we maybe put a big X on that whole propaganda network you wanted to trot out? I know it is nice to have stuff that keeps on telling you how awesome you are (that is why I have a dog), but I am willing to do that for you if you’re actually awesome. You don't need to start peddling yourself on a channel disguised as news. We've already got one Fox News, I'm sort of scared what will happen to the world if there are two.

Apparently, you’re going to get our economy back on track. You're going to make that budget balanced. I actually think that promise is sort of why so many people voted for you. This might end up being the thing you get judged for in 4 years when we play this game again. So, if that is the case, maybe you want to stop recklessly spending this time. Yeah, there is a war going on and I am not denying that we don't need an army, but you may have noticed there are other things that need funds too. It'd be nice to not throw all the cash in one direction. Also, big multi billion dollar companies are big multi billion dollar companies for a reason. They probably don't need a whole bunch of breaks and incentives. But I know this single mom with three kids that is really struggling to get by, she might need a break instead. I am not trying to make Canada become a welfare state, but we're also not supposed to be a military power either. So, let’s try to prioritize our spending. Cool?

You don't really need a history lesson, though. You know what you've done. You have given your reasons and thrown out your excuses. Either way, it is all over with now. We've got four years to look forward to. Let's try to make this four awesome years. Maybe even four years that might convince me to vote Conservative for the first time in my life. Let's call it a fresh start and see if this whole having a majority does make things oodles of times better.

Sincerely,

Doubtful but trying not to be

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

So, What Happens to Unattended Food in a Household of Animals?

Well, this happens, of course.





And who is the culprit of this burger mauling? Well, that would be an even more obvious answer.



So, my sister-in-law learns a little bit more about life, Crosby, and food. It is important to note that a mauling would have happened if she decided to leave a potato or plastic bag around too, because that is how Crosby rolls.

Pretty crazy writing day lined up as I'm frantically trying to meet all my deadlines while still negotiating for some future projects. But this was what I've been striving for this last year, right? Right?

May or may not jump back on later today, depends how much is left of me after this day (or how uber productive I can be).

Monday, May 02, 2011

Welcome To The New Prime Minister, Same As The Old Prime Minister

Stephen Harper is officially our Prime Minsters once again. Based off my blog earlier today, I am sure you can hedge bets of how thrilled I am with this fact. The decrepit cherry on top of my shit sundae is that the Conservatives are now the majority government (the first majority government since 2004). This essentially means we won't have another election until 2015, which is good because I'm rather done with federal elections for now. It is also not what I had hoped, because now Harper is going to have a lot more fun in the sand box being able to push all his policies through since his party controls the majority of the seats. Clearly, this is what the country wanted (except for Quebec that did a massive switcheroo and voted in a majority NDP), and I'd assume a lot of that has to do with financially burdened individuals who are ready for a fairly frugal government. I believe we've got an interesting four years ahead of us, especially with what could end up happening in Quebec. The Bloc was completely obliterated in this election and is no longer an officially recognized national party due to getting less than 5 seats (at this point it looks like 2). The NDP is now the majority party representing Quebec but they're also a minority party compared the entire national landscape, which means Quebec is essentially not being represented by the federal government. It'll be interesting to see if this causes some long term complications and actually ends giving rise to more sovereign movements despite the sovereignist party being completely ousted. Speaking of ousted, not a very good day to be a Liberal party member as they took a spanking and were forced to like it.

An interesting election, even if it went completely opposite of what I had hoped. Now, we sit back and see if Harper follows through on all the things he promised would happen if he got a majority government. I'll say this, if the budget doesn't start to get balanced in the next few years and the economy doesn't rise across the nation, then they'll be a reckoning for the Conservatives since they won't have the "can't make the changes we want because none of the other parties will play nice." Because they don't need to worry about the other parties, now that they a ruling the roost and now it’s time to show some action.

Anyway, my one consolation is it looks like Elizabeth May got the first ever federal seat for the Green party, which is a very pleasant occurrence. It obviously can't amount to much right now, but it is all about the baby steps. This has to be considered a victory for the Green party considering the Green party got a raw deal during all the national coverage and major debates. Despite unfair treatment, this is a pretty good showing -- you knew they would get lesser votes this time around due to simply not having the proper coverage during this election.

That is my quick evening election thoughts, but I'm sure I'll have more to say in the coming weeks as we see how this particular government shapes up.

Spicy Grab Bag Of Thoughts & Musings

The title kind of promises a random mix of ramblings, and so that is exactly what I plan on delivering.

1. As my previous post revealed, I was away for the weekend because I had to go discover who was going to be turning me into an uncle. I discovered him. He is adorable. I am most definitely going to enjoy this whole uncle deal. I'm going to have to find out if being an uncle gives me a free breakfast at Bernard's Waffle Hut of Pain. Because you know, being an uncle sure makes you peckish.

2. If you're a Canadian citizen and over the age of 18, then you got some voting to do today. Seriously, you really need to vote, because then it gives you a few years of being allowed to kvetch and moan about how awful the government is and you didn't vote for them (or that they tricked you into voting for them and you'll never vote for them again -- unless they trick you again with their pretty colours).

I know that most of Canada is probably on voting indigestion, because it seems like we've been doing it every other day for the last while now. It does look like we are once again heading towards a minority government, which likely hurts the chances of having 4 years of voting peace. I still really urge you to vote. Or more importantly, go read up on all the different party platforms and see which appeals to you, then go off to vote. Because your uninformed vote is about as harmful as a non vote. You need to know who you’re supporting and don't just go by your favourite colour (or even worse, just who you assume your parents or family or friends have always voted for).

I wanted to do an in-depth look at each of the different party campaigns, and offer up lots of great analysis of the election. My life hasn't really allowed me much opportunity for quality blogging lately, as I've whined about over and over again on this blog. I thought, I should at least throw some quickie thoughts up on here.

From reading this blog or just knowing me personally, you are likely aware I am not the biggest supporter of Steven Harper. I've actually been quoted as, "Harper seems like a cool guy to have a beer with, but he is likely the worst Prime Minister ever since I've been alive." Yes, that statement is hyperbole and I usually say it to get a reaction from the more stiff and staunch conservative type, but I also believe it. Now, you may totally think it is the stupidest belief ever, and that is actually completely fine with me. The joy of a free country is you can pretty much think and voice any opinion you want about the government. It’s pretty cool having different opinions, because it allows for a variety of views to be expressed from platforms like blogs or talk shows or interpretative dances. I recognize this would be a rather irritating world if all blogs were exactly like mine, with my exact feelings and beliefs. The thing is, I am sometimes not sure if Harper agrees with any of that. I believe he is sort of annoyed that he lives in a democratic country, where he is supposed to answer to the voters and the other seats in Parliament. He hates it so much that he tries to conceal information that should be open to the public (because again, this is a democracy and a country where we have the right to know what our government is doing) and he throw temper tantrums (or a prorogue of Parliament) when opposing parties don't listen to all his demands. Of course, there is his habit of pandering to the moral right and other similar special interest groups to the point it essentially alienates a huge portion of this diverse country, and his hobby of trying to put together a propaganda news network that promotes his party’s agendas. I really think Harper deep down wishes he was running a dictatorial government and is slightly annoyed he ended up being born in a free country. So, I think I've made it sort of clear who I am not voting for.

I actually think this election has potential to be a pretty exciting one. Or at least, as exciting as an election can be (it will get much better when they adopt the battle royal rule for determining government). The latest polls show the Conservatives are in the lead, but last reports said only by about 3% of the votes. And most followers of politics would assume the party right behind them are the Liberals, but that would make you oh so very wrong. In this little race, it is Jack Layton's NDPs that are chasing down the Conservatives, and this is essentially a massive shock to almost everybody. Or at least, not something predicted 5 weeks ago when the election was called. This surprising race is what makes it a very interesting election. For the first time ever, we actually have a chance for a fresh, new party on top. Canada has always been a multi party system, but in federal elections, you've essentially had Conservatives or Liberals take the majority of seats. The rest of the parties usually just do their part in either snagging away one of the big parties’ seats and/or causing for a minority government (which again, a minority seems incredibly likely again here based off early polls). This time, there seems to be a legitimate chance for a brand new party to be leading this country. I admit I am a little hesitant on the traditionally spend happy NDP to be running the show, but I am intrigued by the chance of something actually new happening. There is a lot about the NDP that I like, and if they can be reasonable with the budget (while maintaining their social roots), I would be happy to give Layton a shot.

Yes, I have voter's fatigue, and I haven't followed this election as much as I often do, but I am very excited about what could end up happening tonight. Or I could just be whining again tomorrow about how I've got a few more years to put up with the Stephen Harper show.

3. The other major news of the day is the United States Government has announced they killed and have the body of Osama Bin Laden. Though, unless you live in a shack in the woods with no running water or electricity, but just happened to stumble upon something that had internet access (a magic fern?) to access this blog, you already knew this fact. I am sure this is a fact that you'll be made aware of for days and days on every American station, and I don't say that in a way to insinuate this is necessarily a bad thing (unless it ends up interrupting the NBA playoffs -- sort of kidding). The United States finally caught its white rabbit, and are now able to get some much needed closure on the tragedy that was 9/11. Essentially, this capture/killing means the Afghanistan war is no longer going to be viewed as Vietnam Part 2. No matter the real reason for the war (which depends on how cynical or 'patriotic' or George Bush you are), the publicly promoted reason has always been to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice for the atrocity he masterminded. For many people now, United States has achieved what was the biggest goal and has to be a morale boost for many. It will give a little closure and a small bit of peace to those who lost dear loved ones on 9/11.

It doesn't mean the 'war' is now officially over, because it never was just about getting Osama. The reality is, Osama Bin Laden was never the lynch pin of Al Qaeda. His death doesn't mean the terrorist organization just disbands and starts sucking their thumbs in a cave somewhere. It is a well organized and highly structured assemblage, and Osama was never the central leader that kept things together. It has been constructed in a way that if one falls then another is right there to keep the horrid plan going forward. This isn't marking the end of terrorism. The United States recognizes this fact by putting diplomatic buildings on high alert and preparing for some type of awful counterattack.

On the other hand, if you agree or don't agree with the war, you have to admit this was a win for the United States or essentially any country (including Canada) that was at war in Afghanistan. No matter the degree of blow, it was still a blow to Al Qaeda. Their 'victory' for the last 10 years has been that Osama remained safe and that they were elusive to the armies. That isn't the case anymore.

I think the most important thing is what this death will mean to the entire Middle East. You may have noticed, a lot of shit has been going down in that region lately. Dictatorships have fallen and the people have been standing up to oppression. To the point, that I feel we are in the midst of one of the biggest turning points in history and I honestly believe that this is not an overstatement by any means. I think that this blow against Al Qaeda could really add to the resurgence of revolutionaries in this area and continue for a bigger push against the oppression and authoritarian rule. Of course, this is the type of uprising that is going to be continually supported by the west, and now the people will see that the west does get things done. It will continue to be an interesting time, for sure.


4.
Okay Rangers, do you see what Tampa Bay is currently doing to the Washington Capitals? This is exactly what I was expecting from you guys. You had won the regular season series against them and had a legitimate shot to pull off the playoff upset and knock out the top seeded team in your conference. But no, you seem to have left that for Tampa Bay to do. Oh guys, I shake my head at you.

5. I have been watching Survivor this season, and I am going on record that this is one of the best seasons ever (of the whole 4 I've watched). Phillip is continually reasserting himself as the craziest and best character ever on Survivor (again, competing against the whole 4 seasons I've seen). The guy is a nutbar but so thoroughly entertaining. Plus I'm impressed by how Rob has been getting away with completely running this season and essentially dictating who goes and who stays. I'm sensing he is going to make a miscalculation somewhere and get sent packing in a few episodes. I'm also digging the Redemption Island concept, and it leaves a lot of intriguing possibilities. Even though one tribe has been wiped out, there is potential that one of the three members aren't completely out of the game since they can win their chance back in. Plus there is Matt, who just refuses to call it a game.

6. I saw Source Code last week, I hope to write up a review of it soon. In case I don't, I want to recommend you to check this movie out. It is a great science fiction action film that also makes you think. But it doesn't make you think too hard, and it is always willing to distract your thinking with explosions and violence. So, that makes a pretty damn good movie in my books. Plus Emily really liked it, so you're not just going with my word on this.

7. On the writing front, this is my first official week where my writing business is now my main source of income and work time. I've got an agreement in place where I will occasionally work elsewhere while continuing to grow this business, but for the most part, I am officially self employed. Very exciting and a little scary. Real soon, I'll have some cool stuff to reveal to you guys, but for now you just have to trust me that I am writing and being paid for it. That is the downside of doing ghostwriting for companies, you can't really take credit for it, but you do get to cash the cheques -- so it's all good to me.

So, those are my random thoughts for Monday. You try to go have some fun now, and don't forget to vote if you happen to be an 18+ Canadian folk.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Now, For My Brand New Title This Weekend Has Bestowed Upon Me

I told you that I might be getting a new title added to my name. That is exactly what ended up happening. At around 8:30 yesterday morning, I now had a new addition to my name.

---Drum Roll Please---

Uncle Christopher

Which is to day, 'Uncle' is the new title. I'm not now going as 'Uncle Christopher' Christopher David Spicer. Because that would just be silly. But 'Uncle' is far from silly and I am pretty pumped about this new title. Though, only one person will really be calling me that, and that probably won't be for a few more years. I am a patient man, and I can wait for it.

I'm also hoping to get another addition to my name soon, which would be ''Cool'. As in, the cool uncle. I think, I have some time to strategize how I will got about gaining that part of the title. It will be a fun time trying to get it, and I'm looking forward to lot of adventures with my new nephew.

Yeah, my weekend has been awesome. How about yours?