Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

As with the vast majority of Halloween party recaps, I will be allowing the photos to do most of the talking here. So be forwarned: there will be multiple disturbing images of your favourite blogger dressed as a transvestite Hooter's waitress, many in the ilk of the annual protective-cup-touching shot, as seen above. Yes, it was that kind of night.

And it began sometime around 9 when we arrived at DVZ and Sheera's, where Danny Boy was dressed like a cross between Jacques Cousteau and the human embodiment of a pair of moose knuckles... Not exactly the prettiest sight in the world, but then again, I was wearing a Hooter's waitress outfit, size extra-small, so really who am I to judge? The lovely Sheera was stunning as always, dressed this year as a Foxy Cleopatra hybrid, and their pad, as I've mentioned before, was done to the nines.

We'd had a couple of beers at my buddy Skeeter's place beforehand, which was essential to me being able to show up in that ridiculously disturbing outfit, and let me tell you, there were more than a few snaps taken, with extreme crotch-thrusting an absolute must. My favourite is of the Doc asking me to turn my head and cough. There was also some girl I've never met before (she may or may not have been the lovely lady doling out the humvees like they were all-star game fan voting ballots in the bathroom two years before) who took at least 15 closeup shots of my junk, unable to believe that I would show up at a party so exposed (she failed to grasp the idea that I might actucally be wearing something to disguise my Irish passport). In any event, I think it's safe to say that I at least managed to equal my disturbing hideousness of years past.

(The line of the night came from a man by the name of Robbie Doon, who walked into the party, took one look at my disgusting self, and promptly proclaimed: "Honestly? I've fucked worse.")

The party pretty well progressed from there in the way that most parties do, with the massive intake of alcohol (including via the house skull funnel), and some raucous tunes. There was a husband and wife combo dressed as duelling Peg Bundies (brilliant, in my opinion), which actually led to a nearly unforgivable gaff on my part. The "man" Peg had a beautiful set of fake breasts that I took great pride in squeezing at every opportunity. Of course, as the night wore on and I became increasingly more intoxicated, the distinction between the two Pegs became increasingly more difficult to discern, until at one point, after my eleventh beverage, I actually reached out for a handful of the real Peg... only to stop myself at the last minute, which was probably in everybody's best interest because the last thing anyone wanted was a pair of drunken transvestites duking it out amongst the glasses of spiked punch and the mini Snickers bars.

But the absolute highlight of the night, for me at least, came in the form of my little cousin getting his groove on. I have to tell you that my cousin; affectionately known to the rest of the civilized world as 'Little Buddy'; hasn't exactly had the world's greatest record of success with the ladies. Great guy. Salt of the earth. But I guess sometimes he just comes on a little too strong. It probably doesn't help that he's about seven years younger than everyone else either. But I digress.

So anyway, we're nearing the end of the evening, and there are only a few single ladies left, along with a slew of about a dozen single dudes. Everybody is standing around, doing the run-of-the-mill party thing, at which point J.T.'s Sexyback comes blaring through the system. The temperature may or may not have dipped below freezing in hades in that moment, but all I know is that Little Buddy took one of these two lovely ladies out onto the dance floor; a dancefloor surrounded by a stunned and disbelieving group of dudes, no less; and proceeded to put on an absolute grinding clinic, complete with Junior High caliber snogging. It was the stuff of legends.

And here's the thing: it's not as if this girl were only slightly out of his league. The only way I could describe it that night was to endlessly repeat that it was the dancefloor equivalent of Nuke LaLoosh getting called up to the show directly from A ball.

It was inexplicable. It was improbable. It was unprecedented. It was Kirk Gibson taking Eck deep in Game 1. It was Ron Artest running into the stands. It was Broadway Joe making a pass at Suzy Kolber. It was all of those things combined, times a thousand, and it may have been the single proudest moment of my life.

Here are some of the other highlights, in the form of costumes, from Saturday night:

The Lateral as Literal Art Form

I have no idea how the guy in the booth was able to keep up with every name on this play, but any sense of professionalism was certainly annihilated when his colour guy started screaming "GO! GO!!! RUN!!!" Nothing beats high-school-communications-class-caliber impartiality in the broadcast booth.

For my money, this beats The Play (U. Cal Berkley using a piddly assortment of only 5 laterals before drilling the trombone player en route to the endzone) because they used exactly three times as many laterals, although they really should have gotten a few of the cheerleaders involved.

It also beats the Music City Miracle because all of their laterals were of the "lateral" variety (ie, not forward passes), and because as far as my household is concerned, The Music City Miracle never happened.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Public Service Announcement

In the event that you ever need to ride an escalator, please consult with your local mall security guard for "how to use" instructions.

I have no idea what this dude was expecting out of this space-aged contraption, but it clearly wasn't this. You really wouldn't think it possible to fall up an escalator; and upside down no less; but this guy manages to pull it off. Bonus points for being able to eventually straighten it out and play it off like he was just trying to take a load off.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Putting the 'Ass' in Class

I'll be honest with you, one of my secret fantasies has always been to be at a sporting event, at least four Delgados deep, my team down by about five runs, and to then have the Jumbotron guy zoom in on me so I can matter-of-factly flip the entire stadium the bird without so much as cracking a smile...

This would easily fall into the top ten greatest things I've ever achieved in my life, slipping somewhere in between graduating from university and getting to 97 in the Century Club before becoming violently ill in my buddy's parents' backyard when I was 17.

But this guy takes the offensive Jumbotron gesture to an entirely different level. UncleBuck himself put it best when he said: "All that is left is for Budweiser to do one of those 'Real Men of Genius' radio ads about him."

Hats off to the cunnilingus king of Jacksonville, FL.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Weekend

In anticipation of the biggest cross-dressing, repressed-homoerotic-tendency-revealing, fantastic-excuse-to-dress-like-an-unabashed-whore weekend of the year, I've decided to post this classic costume warehouse commercial, along with some sultry pics of me (and a few nameless accessories) in a variety of uncompromising positions.

My buddy DVZ and his girlfriend Sheera throw the most killer Halloween bash every year, and it is set to go for this Saturday night. Just let me say that if I put as much time into preparing these blog entries as they put into decking their place out for their annual bender, reading these little discourses would be a completely different experience. Top notch.

But even with a pad elegently decked out in cheezy haunting decor, what makes their party so priceless every year are the costumes. And despite the fact that that last sentence is officially in the running for "the most obvious statement of the year", it always boggles my mind how people who attend the same annual party feel the need to up the ante from the previous year. And I am proud to say that I do my best to lead the charge.

And let me just reiterate my stance on Halloween: that for girls, Halloween is little more than an excuse to dress as boldfacedly slutty as possible, as it is the only time of year they can go all out without the fear of being reprimanded or judged; whereas for guys, it's a rare and inexplicable opportunity to try to outdo one another by dressing as unfathomably and flamboyantly gay as possible. It really is a special night.

In years past, things have gotten pretty out of control at this party with some girls in skin-tight see-through Thundercat outfits and others handing out hummers in the bathroom as if they were breathmints at a cash register in the local Diner. As for the guys? Well, I think I'll let the following pictures speak for themselves:

At this point in time, I have no idea what I'll be going as, but needless to say, it will have to top what you see above.

Personally, I can think of nothing more frightening.

Monday, October 22, 2007


So my girlfriend came home with season 2 of Weeds this weekend. I have to tell you, I absolutely love this show. It took me awhile to get into it (the premise of an affluent white single mom selling pot in suburbia seemed a little far fetched at first), but now I'm completely hooked.

And the reason I'm completely hooked? Kevin Nealon.

Not since anchoring Weekend Update has he been so on top of his game. I can't imagine anyone better for the role of the pot smoking accountant, and his campaign to win his rightful post as Councilman Doug against the uber-bitch Celia in season 2 is comedy of the highest form:

Doug - "Ugh... Who let in Cancer Cunt?"
Celia - "It's 'Cancer Tits', Doug... No wonder your wife prefers to fuck a pole."
Doug - "My wife is fucking a Polish guy?"
Nancy - "I think she's talking about Dana's stripper class, Doug"
Doug - "Oh...oh... like, the actual pole itself...so... oh, I get it now... That's funny. But seriously, I hate you and hope you get hit by a truck."

He is the man every guy wants to be. Throw in Uncle Andy, the ultra-cool burnout live-in slacker trying to wiggle his way out of having to serve in Iraq while acting as the worst possible role model for his two young nephews (resulting in one of the all-time monologues regarding masturbation and a trip to the rub-and-tug for the 12 year old Shane), and you have a fantastic little show. They even throw in some gratuitous nudity and a cameo by Snoop Dogg, to say nothing of the fact that Michelle Tanner co-stars in Season 3.

If you have the chance, pick up a half ounce of the good stuff to go along with seasons one and two on DVD, and have yourself a giggling green weekend.


The worst development in sports over the past 25 years has nothing to do with HGH, strip club shootings, or dog fighting. Nope. Hands down, the worst trend in sports is goggles in the dressing room.

I honestly didn't think that anything could ever top the "inexplicably bringing your kids into the dressing room" for the title of most shameless way to cheapen a team celebration, but this recent trend towards wearing goggles in the champagne-spraying festivities is utterly indefensible.

Twenty years from now, somebody is going to look at that picture of Curt Shilling holding the American League Championship trophy and think it's Chris Sabo.

Why the hell would you ever want to have yourself enshrined in this moment forever looking like a member of the Russian Synchronized Swimming team? When I was a kid, watching the guys get sprayed in the face with champagne and then trying to conduct an interview with their eyes burning, that was the absolute best part of the post game celebration... well, that, and when they'd dump beer all over Bob Costas. But now? These guys look absolutely ridiculous.

Which brings me to my World Series prediction.

There is no way in hell the Red Sox are beating the Rockies in this series. Just take a look at that picture with Hinske wearing those goggles. I mean, the fact that this is a team with Eric Hinske on the roster should be enough to sway you to the Rocks, but beyond that, going through all of the post-game celebration pics, the Sox are wearing goggles in every single shot. The Rockies? At least half of the guys are man enough to go goggle-less, including their manager, Clint Hurdle. I'll take a leader willing to risk his eyesight anyday.

And I'll take a team who's willing to man up and relish the sting of victory over a bunch of guys who would willingly and shamelessly degrade themselves for all eternity just so their eyes don't hurt in the morning.

Another reason to like the Rockies in this series? I managed to find a shot of Jeff Francis dousing a reporter (CBS' Vic Lombardi) with beer. That's a good Canadian kid who would never dream of sporting goggles during the most thrilling, spontaneous celebration of his young life. These are guys I want to go into battle with.

(Editor's Note: I have never been part of a World Series champagne celebration, or even a lesser equivalent. To say that I wasn't a good enough athlete to qualify would be a little like saying David Hasselhoff's version of Hooked on a Feeling falls slightly short of the original.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Best News Clip Ever?

The guys on this news team are absolutely classic. They're having more fun up there than Ron Burgundy and Champ Kind.

I mean, the model going into a speed-wobble is funny. And it gets increasingly more entertaining with every slow motion replay. But the uncontrollable barrel laughs and bingo hall wheezing from the guys at the desk absolutely slay me.

"First of all baby, I got enough meat on me that it's all right..."

I would pay anything to have these guys reading my local news every night.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In Love With Pop, Uneasy With The World

Very rarely will I reprint someone else's article in its entirety, but sometimes you just come across something so good and so important that it's impossible not to. This piece was taken from the Sept. 30th edition of the New York Times. It is a beautifully written piece of journalism, and takes you to the depths of what the new album is truly about; the world we're living in, and the road that lies ahead.

“The record is a tallying of cost and of loss,” Mr. Springsteen said. “That’s the burden of adulthood, period. But that’s the burden of adulthood in these times, squared.”

Simply put, this is essential Springsteen reading.

Thanks to Unkle Mike for the tip.

In Love With Pop, Uneasy With the World

Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Bruce Springsteen in Asbury Park, N.J.

IT was the last day of summer, but on the boardwalk here it seemed more like a perfect morning in early July: the Atlantic Ocean sparkled under a cloudless sky; the humid air was soothed by a soft, salty breeze. I looked down the empty beach, past the souvenir shops and snack bars with their fresh paint and new green awnings, toward the proud Victorian hulk of the old Casino, and felt that I had walked into a Bruce Springsteen song. (Oh, I don’t know. Maybe “Fourth of July, Asbury Park.” Or is that too obvious?)

The feeling, no less potent for being self-induced, had been with me all morning. Bright and early, me and my girl — my wife of nearly two decades, that is — had let the screen door slam, dropped off the kids at school and set out on the open road, blowing through the E-ZPass lanes on the Garden State Parkway in our Volvo station wagon. We had an advance copy of Mr. Springsteen’s new album, “Magic,” in the CD slot, and most of his back catalog in reserve on the iPod. And now we were driving down Kingsley, figuring we’d get a latte. One more chance to make it real. Tramps like us, baby!

Our purpose was not to fantasize but rather to observe the E Street Band in rehearsal, and then to hear what the man himself had to say about the new record, the coming tour and whatever else was on his mind. “Magic” is, musically, one of the most upbeat, accessible records he has made, even as its themes and stories make it one of his most political. Once again he is hitting the road as a presidential election heats up.

“I like coming out on those years,” he would tell me later, when we sat down to talk in a backstage dressing room after the rehearsal. “Whatever small little bit we can do, that’s a good time to do it.”

At an age when most rock ’n’ rollers, if they’re still alive, have become either tributes to or parodies of their earlier selves, Mr. Springsteen seems to have settled into an enviable groove, with new musical forms to explore and an existing body of work that never seems to get old, with plenty to say and an audience that hangs on his every word.

In which — as if it weren’t already obvious — I include myself. I’ve been listening to Bruce Springsteen for a long time, but I can’t pretend that he provided the soundtrack for my youth. I spent my teenage years in the thrall of punk rock and its various aftermaths and came to Springsteen late, past the stage of life when his great anthems of romance, rebellion and escape might have had their most direct impact. As a result, I associate his work with the sorrows and satisfactions of adulthood; it’s music to grow up to, not out of.

Mr. Springsteen’s best songs, it seems to me, are about compromise and stoicism; disappointment and faith; work, patience and resignation. They are also, frequently — even the ones he wrote when he was still in his 20s — about nostalgia, about the desire to recapture those fleeting moments of intensity and possibility we associate with being young.

Moments that tend, not coincidentally, to crystallize within a certain kind of popular song. A song, let’s say, like “Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” which arrives smack in the middle of “Magic” and which the E Street Band was in the middle of playing when my wife and I tiptoed through the doors of the Asbury Park Convention Hall. It was a little after 10; the band was about an hour into its morning rehearsal, preparing for a tour of North America and Europe that kicks off on Tuesday in Hartford.

The Convention Hall is a battered, pocket-size arena where, as a teenager, Mr. Springsteen saw bands like the Who and the Doors. This morning it was filled with a shimmery, summery sound, as if we had traveled back 40 years into the mid-’60s sonic landscape of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson and the Byrds. Steve van Zandt was strumming a 12-string guitar, and the vocal harmonies, the chiming keyboards, Clarence Clemons’s saxophone and Soozie Tyrell’s violin combined to produce a lush orchestral cushion for Mr. Springsteen’s voice, which swooned through a lyric as unabashedly romantic as the song’s title.

“I wanted one thing on the record that was the perfect pop universe,” Mr. Springsteen said, once the band had wandered off and he had finished an early lunch of granola with fresh fruit and soy milk. It was two days before his 58th birthday, and he looked trimmer and tanner than he had the last time I’d seen him, which was on the JumboTron video screen at Giants Stadium a few years back. “You know, that day when it’s all right there; it’s the world that only exists in pop songs, and once in a while you stumble on it.”

Not that “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” is untouched by melancholy. Its narrator, after all, stands and watches as the girls of the title “pass me by.” “It’s the longing, the unrequited longing for that perfect world,” Mr. Springsteen continued. “Pop is funny. It’s a tease. It’s an important one, but it’s a tease, and therein resides its beauty and its joke.”

And much of “Magic,” on first hearing, seems to unfold in a similar spirit. There is a brightness of sound and a lightness of touch that are not quite like anything else Mr. Springsteen has done recently. In the past five years he has released four albums of original material, a zigzag through new and familiar styles and idioms. “The Rising” (2002) brought the E Street Band back into the studio after a long hiatus (their sound updated by the producer Brendan O’Brien) and answered the trauma of 9/11 with the defiant, redemptive roar of solid, down-the-middle rock. With “Devils and Dust” (2005) Mr. Springsteen picked up the thread of Western stories and acoustic ballads that stretched back through other non-E Street projects like “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Nebraska” (as well as some parts of “The River”). “The Seeger Sessions,” released last year, was an old-time old-lefty hootenanny, with a big, unruly jug band rollicking through spirituals, union songs and Dust Bowl ballads.

All of those discs were infused with Mr. Springsteen’s bedrock populism, but none was quite what you would call a pop record. Pop, though, is the term he and his band mates use, again and again, to describe “Magic.” Mr. Van Zandt, who has been playing and arguing about music with Mr. Springsteen for 40 years (scholars cite Nov. 3, 1967, as the date of their first meeting), noted that in the past Mr. Springsteen’s more tuneful, playful compositions tended not to make it onto albums.

“It was nice on this one to start to be a little bit more inclusive,” he said in a telephone interview a few days after my visit to Asbury Park, “with a little bit more of the poppier side of things, without losing any of the integrity, or any of the high standards. That was a nice surprise, a nice change of pace to include those things and integrate them into the album, rather than having them be fun to record and then cast them aside.”

For his part, Mr. Sprinsteen said that in writing the songs for “Magic,” he had experienced “a reinfatuation with pop music.” “I went back to some forms that I either hadn’t used previously or hadn’t used a lot, which was actual pop productions,” he said. “I wrote a lot of hooks. That was just the way that the songs started to write themselves, I think because I felt free enough that I wasn’t afraid of the pop music. In the past I wanted to make sure that my music was tough enough for the stories I was going to tell.”

The paradox of “Magic” may be that some of its stories are among the toughest he has told. The album is sometimes a tease but rarely a joke. The title track, for instance, comes across as a seductive bit of carnival patter, something you might have heard on the Asbury Park boardwalk in the old days. A magician, his voice whispery and insinuating in a minor key, lures you in with descriptions of his tricks that grow more sinister with each verse. (“I’ve got a shiny saw blade/All I need’s a volunteer.”) “Trust none of what you hear/And less of what you see,” he warns. And the song’s refrain — “This is what will be” — grows more chilling as you absorb the rest of the album’s nuances and shadows.

You can always trust what you hear on a Bruce Springsteen record (irony, he notes, is not something he’s known for), but in this case it pays to listen closely, to make note of the darkness, so to speak, that hovers at the edge of the shiny hooks and harmonies. “I took these forms and this classic pop language and I threaded it through with uneasiness,” Mr. Springsteen said.

And while the songs on “Magic” characteristically avoid explicit topical references, there is no mistaking that the source of the unease is, to a great extent, political. The title track, Mr. Springsteen explained, is about the manufacture of illusion, about the Bush administration’s stated commitment to creating its own reality.

“This is a record about self-subversion,” he told me, about the way the country has sabotaged and corrupted its ideals and traditions. And in its own way the album itself is deliberately self-subverting, troubling its smooth, pleasing surfaces with the blunt acknowledgment of some rough, unpleasant facts.

“Magic” picks up where “The Rising” left off and takes stock of what has happened in this country since Sept. 11. Then, the collective experiences of grief and terror were up front. Now those same emotions lurk just below the surface, which means that the catharsis of rock ’n’ roll uplift is harder to come by. The key words of “The Rising” were hope, love, strength, faith, and they were grounded in a collective experience of mourning. There is more loneliness in “Magic,” and, notwithstanding the relaxed pop mood, a lot less optimism.

The stories told in songs like “Gypsy Biker” and “The Devil’s Arcade” are vignettes of private loss suffered by the lovers and friends of soldiers whose lives were shattered or ended in Iraq. “The record is a tallying of cost and of loss,” Mr. Springsteen said. “That’s the burden of adulthood, period. But that’s the burden of adulthood in these times, squared.”
In conversation, Mr. Springsteen has a lot to say about what has happened in America over the last six years: “Disheartening and heartbreaking. Not to mention enraging” is how he sums it up. But his most direct and powerful statement comes, as you might expect, onstage. It is not anything he says or sings, but rather a piece of musical dramaturgy, the apparently simple, technical matter of shifting from one song to the next.

On the Convention Hall stage, the band handled the new material as deftly as the chestnuts — after 35 years together, communication is pretty much effortless — pausing to work out an occasional kink or adjust the sound mix. But they must have gone over the segue from “The Rising” to their next number at least a half-dozen times.

“You’ve got to let that chord sustain. Everybody!” Mr. Springsteen urged. “It can’t die down.”
The guitarists had the extra challenge of keeping the sound going while changing instruments, a series of baton-relay sprints for the crew whose job was to assist with the switch, until a dissonant organ ring came in to signal a change of key and the thunderous opening of “Last to Die.” It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Mr. Springsteen’s take on the post-9/11 history of the United States can be measured in the space between the choruses of those two songs. The audience is hurled from a rousing exhortation (“Come on up to the rising”) to a grim, familiar question: “Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake?”

“That’s why we had to get that very right today,” he said later. “You saw us working on it. That thing has to come down like the world’s falling on you, that first chord. It’s got to screech at the end of ‘The Rising,’ and then it’s got to crack, rumble. The whole night is going to turn on that segue. That’s what we’re up there for right now, that 30 seconds.”

But the night does not end there. Onstage, “Last to Die” is followed, as it is on the album, by a song called “Long Walk Home.” In the first verse, the speaker travels to some familiar hometown spots and experiences an alienation made especially haunting by the language in which he describes it: “I looked into their faces/They were all rank strangers to me.” That curious, archaic turn of phrase — rank strangers — evokes an eerie old mountain lament of the same title, recorded by the Stanley Brothers.

“In that particular song a guy comes back to his town and recognizes nothing and is recognized by nothing,” Mr. Springsteen said. “The singer in ‘Long Walk Home,’ that’s his experience. His world has changed. The things that he thought he knew, the people who he thought he knew, whose ideals he had something in common with, are like strangers. The world that he knew feels totally alien. I think that’s what’s happened in this country in the past six years.”

And so the song’s images of a vanished small town life (“The diner was shuttered and boarded/With a sign that just said ‘gone’ “) turn into metaphors, the last of which is delivered with the clarity and force that has distinguished Mr. Springsteen’s best writing:

My father said “Son, we’re
lucky in this town
It’s a beautiful place to be born.
It just wraps its arms around you
Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone.
You know that flag
flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, and what we’ll do
And what we won’t”
It’s gonna be a long walk home.

“That’s the end of the story we’re telling on a nightly basis,” Mr. Springsteen said. “Because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And that’s not the way it is right now.”

Is Tim McCarver a Racist?

Call me crazy, but I sensed some racist undertones in the ever-enlightening colour commentary provided by Tim McCarver in last night's Sox-Tribe game.

Anyone who watched last night's game can attest to the open and unequivocal disdain with which McCarver was describing the eccentricities of Manny Ramirez. It was pretty obvious that Manny's mere existence on this earth sickens the former Yankees broadcaster. He was absolutely disgusted by the way Manny stopped at first base to argue with the umpires after crushing the world's longest single, a sentiment for McCarver that obviously stemmed from the way Manny admired his previous game's solo shot to cut the deficit to four. I mean, McCarver was practically begging C.C. to drill Manny in the ribs, saying that that was the way to keep him from admiring his bombs - hit him in the ribs until he learns.

But what McCarver doesn't understand is that Manny wasn't taunting the Tribe by admiring his moonshot; he just doesn't know any better. Walkoff blast in the bottom of the ninth to go up 2-0 in the Angels' Series, or meaningless shot to dead centre in a game they've already lost, it's all the same to Manny. As Bill Simmons put it in his Game 4 running diary (a perfect example of how misery breeds great comedy):

"It's always funny when Manny plays in Cleveland, if only because he always has a bemused look on his face, like he's thinking, "This is so weird, I feel like I used to play here or something."

Manny lives in a different world than the rest of us live in. As detailed in the fantastic New Yorker piece back in April, he's just a crazy motherfucker. I mean, he was breastfed until he was four years old; nobody can be held accountable for their actions if their breastfeeding at one time resulted in their mother receiving beard-burn.

This is why Manny lives in Manny-World. This is why he agreed to sign an 8 year, $160 million dollar deal with the Red Sox only if they also agreed to hire Frankie Mancini, the Indians clubhouse attendant, who regularly set up the pitching machine for him. This is why he routinely disappears inside the Green Monster during pitching changes. This is why he plays left field with a water bottle in his back pocket and MP3-playing sunglasses on his head. But maybe the best Manny being Manny story comes from his rookie year, back in 1994, with the Cleveland Indians:

As teammates were gathered in the Indians clubhouse watching news of the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase, Ramirez asked what was going on. A player responded that "they are chasing O.J.", to which Ramirez responded in disbelief, "What did Chad do?" (in reference to their current teammate Chad Ogea, who was likely in the same clubhouse just several feet away)

How could you ever pick on the guy for being who he is? I am by no means a Red Sox fan. In fact, ever since they won the World Series, their fans have been nothing short of obnoxious. But the one thing I could never help but to love was Manny. And for McCarver to pick on him? It's like picking on a child.

Which brings me to why Tim McCarver is a racist. After berating Manny for being Manny for most of the game (has there ever been a more "Manny being Manny" kind of game? The day before, he says that it doesn't really matter if the Sox lose and that it wouldn't be the end of the world, and then he proceeds to mash the ball the way only he can, walking out of the box and stopping at first base to argue a call on a 390 foot single), when it comes time for Jonathan Papelbon to enter the game, McCarver practically performs fellatio on the guy.

They showed a clip of Paps doing the YMCA dance in the bullpen while warming up, and McCarver starts going on about how he loves the free spirit of Papelbon... How can their possibly be a freer spirit than Manny? It's absolutely absurd to love Papelbon for doing the Riverdance in his underwear in front of the Fenway faithful after clinching the pennant, and then to rip into Manny for being Manny.

McCarver went on to call Papelbon "a beauty"; one can only imagine what he called Manny when the mics were turned off (shades of Ron Atkinson, I'm sure).

I have no problem with McCarver having a Papel-boner. It's hard not to love the guy. But he needs to cut the Michael Richards act, and cut Manny a little slack.

"Forget about the trade, man. This is the place I want to be, man. It's great, man. They love me here, man. This is the place to be. 'Manny being Manny,' he's great, man... we've been through a lot, this is the place for me, I'm just happy to be here... I'm back!"

- Manny Ramirez, July 31, 2005 (an hour after the trading deadline passed with him remaining a member of the Red Sox)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kent Huskins or Bobby Orr?

What a Legend.

Almonte's favourite son notched his first career big league goal last night, putting it past none other than future Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek less than two minutes in.

The question is now officially open for debate: If you had to pick one defenseman today to build your team around, who would it be?

Here's a link to a nice little article from the Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Air Canada Centre

Wow... I mean, just... Wow.

That may not have been the best Springsteen show I've ever seen, but it was certainly one of the most fun to be a part of. From Radio Nowhere straight through to American Land, I was literally singing and dancing all night long (this fact may or may not have anything to do with the multiple pre-MLB-steroird-policy-Carlos-Delgado-sized beverages consumed over the course of the evening {on a side note: would a modern day Carlos-Delgado-sized beverage come in a plastic cup in the shape of Alfonso Soriano?}). I can't even begin to explain how great a time I had.

The night began for me with my parents arriving at my place where we promptly listened to the new album and then walked up to the subway, picking up my brother and his girlfriend on route. Being a Springsteen fan is a family thing for us. As my dad likes to say: "I raised my kids the right way." Some people might say otherwise, but I'll go with him on this one.

Unbelievably, Ronnie didn't have tickets to the show but was able to score a couple of 300 level seats for $50 each off the scalpers out front. I have no idea how he does it. We met up with my buddies Foley, Skeeter, and Trish, and some of my parents die-hard friends (this was show #49 for my dad's buddy Watson. The man has seen it all. It was #20 for my dad, which meant that I felt like a scrub because this was only my 9th show), and headed into the hangar.

We had about an hour before the show began with which to soak in the vibes of the crowd. And for my money, there is no better group of people to be with than a bunch of Springsteen fans. More than with any group I can think of, these are the people I feel connected to. We think the same way because we listened to the same music growing up. We feel the same way because we've sung all of the same songs to ourselves in times good and bad. And we think the same way because we've gone to the same ridiculous lengths to see the man perform. I'm not even close to being a religious man; but I'm a believer in the Boss. And these were his people. And I felt right at home.

Which is why I had no problem sharing stories with the people sitting in front of me about all of the times they've seen Bruce perform in the past (they said the best show they've ever seen was the gig in Buffalo back in July of 2005 - the show at which my sister requested "Everything is Everything" on a piece of paper before the show, only to have Bruce say: "Lisa, that is the incorrect title of the song", before giving her You're Missing). And it is also the reason that I, albeit drunkenly, promised the dude that if they played Thundercrack, I would kiss him.

(As a side note, I try to make a habit out of not reading the setlists of the preceeding shows. Call me old fashioned, but I just like to be surprised by what they pull out. Now, had I done my homework, would I have promised to kiss a bearded stranger on the cheek? Probably not. But what the hell. We were all brothers here tonight.)

We were also finally able to get to the bottom of the whole, "is it okay to wear the T-shirt of the band up on stage?" debate. This has been a long-standing dialectic between my friends and I, stemming all the way back to a story I once heard about Hugh Dillon (frontman for the now-defunct Headstones) bringing some kid up on stage at a show in Sault Ste. Marie because the kid was wearing a Headstones T-Shirt. The dialogue went a little something like this"

H.D. - "Hey man, what's your name?"
Kid - "Jimmy"
H.D. - "Jimmy. Great. Hey everybody! This is Jimmy! SPIT ON HIM!!!"
(the crowd proceeds to blanket the kid and his Headstones T-shirt in a layer mucus)

The thinking is, if you are physically at a band's show, that says enough about your appreciation for the band, and the T-shirt is simply overkill. But at a Springsteen show, it seems like every third person is either a) wearing a Springsteen T-shirt, or b) dressed like a 70's version of one of his Jersey shore characters. And like I said, I am one with these people, so they can't be all bad. So my buddy Foley and I came up with a definitive statute regarding wearing a shirt with the logo of the band up on stage. And the Rock Show T-shirt Rule states:

You are NOT permitted to wear a T-shirt of the band performing on stage unless:
a) The T-shirt was purchased at a show which took place more than 20 years earlier
b) The venue at which the T-shirt's show took place is no longer in existence (ex: Exhibition Stadium, The Boston Garden)
c) You are at least 50 years of age and simply don't know any better

These are your only outs. No exceptions. But I digress.

When the lights finally went down the place went crazy, and as Bruce and the band entered the stage to the sounds of a carnival calliope (I love the quirky entrance music, which peaked with the Tunnel of Love tour carnival music in 1988), the place seemed ready to explode... and when he asked "Is there anybody alive out there?", it promptly did.

Radio Nowhere has all of the makings of a poppy hit, and was a decent opener. Night was fantastic, as always, and did a little to separate the true fans from the less than devout. Lonesome Day is one of my favourite songs off of The Rising album, and just about everytime I've seen him perform it live, I end up getting close to choked up when I sing along... Tonight was no exception. I wish I could explain this phenomenon. I may have some deep rooted issues that need to be sorted out. Moving right along.

Gypsy Biker is a fabulous song, one of the real gems on the album. But like my buddy Skeeter pointed out, I wish Bruce would talk more about his new songs. It doesn't need to be anything elaborate like the way he used to introduce The River, but a few words would go a long way. Like when he introduced Magic by saying that the song "isn't really about Magic, it's about ticks... and their consequences..."; that song now means about 10 times more to me than it did before, and watching him sing it up on stage with Patti, after what the two of them have allegedly been through lately... that's just a great song.

The band debuted For You for the first time. That is an absolutely killer song, but no live version of it could ever rival the version released on the Japanese Import that simply blows every other version out of the water. Bruce played this one while sitting at the piano during his acoustic show in Toronto in 2005. "Your cloud line ugers me, my electric surges for you..." Love it.

Loved the Stevie Ray Vaughan infused version of Reason to Believe (done to the tune of Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky) because nobody rocks the harmonica like the Boss. Candy's Room was one of the supreme sizzling highlights of the night, prompting me to call my buddy DVZ to allow him to enjoy his favourite track via the magic of cellular technology. SHE SAYS BABY IF YOU WANNA BE WILD.... Max was absolutely killing on the drums by this point, only to be outdone by She's The One, the very next song on which the boys in the band turned back the clock. It honestly felt like 1978 at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland on this track. Out of this world. I half expected them to mix in Gloria and Not Fade Away.

When I was a kid, Promised Land was my favourite song, and it felt like it all over again as we screamed "Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man / And I believe in a Promised Land".

They slowed things down for one of Patti's songs (A Town Called Heartbreak - her new album is fantastic, by the way), which may have prompted the line of the night, overheard by my buddy Foley in the bathroom: "Bruce put this song in 'cause he knew we'd have to take a piss halfway through". Too funny. But hopefully all of the small-bladdered die-hards made it back in time for Incident on 57th Street. Along with New York City Serenade, this is my all-time favourite tune, the imagery more evocative than a Steinbeck novel (is there a more brilliantly descriptive set of lines than:

Johnny was sittin' on the fire escape watchin' the kids playin' down the street
He called down "Hey little heroes, summer's long but I guess it ain't very sweet around here anymore"
Janey sleeps in sheets damp with sweat, Johnny sits up alone and watches her dream on, dream on
And the sister prays for lost souls, then breaks down in the chapel after everyone's gone

With the exception of "Barefoot girl sittin' on the hood of a Dodge, drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain", I think not)

Needless to say, this was a huge highlight for me. I had Sandra on the phone to share the moment.

Darlington County was a classic rocker, and to the best of my knowledge remains the only decent rock song to reference the World Trade Centers. Devil's Arcade is another great new song that was superbly done, and the feeling the Springsteen put into The Rising brought that song to another level for me. There was anguish in his face while he sung about those heroes... As Trish pointed out (this was her first show), he feels every song. No doubt.

The Long Walk Home is a beautiful song, and a nice little nod to the town of Freehold. Loved it live. Badlands was another supreme highlight, taking the religious feeling to a whole new level as the crowd vehemently screamed to let the broken heart stand as the price you gotta pay.

When they did Thundercrack in the encore I kissed another man on the cheek. Enough said. It was that kind of night. An absolutely killer version, like Main Point in '73, and it truly separated the die-hard fans from the rest. If you were twirling around-and-around-and-around-and around after learning that her hair ain't brown and her eyes ain't either, then you know what time it is. And we might be soul mates. That's why I had no problem laying a wet one on the Jim Kelley lookalike.

Born to Run always brings the house down, and with the lights on and my buddy Dunner living vicariously through the phone, this was no exception. Dancing in the Dark was also fantastic, but I definitely thought he should have pulled one of the lovely ladies up on stage with him a la Courtney Cox.

They closed the show with a Pogues-esque, follow-the-bouncing ball track called American Land that had the entire place dancing as if it were St. Patrick's Day at Cooper's. Just an incredible party (at least where I was sitting).

I honestly felt like they could have played for another hour, and when the lights briefly went down again after the encore, there was the flicker of hope that they'd come out and do two or three more... maybe something from The River (inexplicably, the setlist was devoid of a track from that classic double LP) or Tunnel of Love (also conspicuous by its absence, along with everything released in the 1990's). To me, this longing for more was a combination of the fact that the band was definitely on on this night, and the idea that maybe they could have done a little more.

By just about any band's standards, this was a show for the ages. But for the E Streeters? For the "earthshaking, heartbreaking, history making E Street Band"? There could have been more. But I guess it isn't the mid-70's anymore. And it's tough for a 58 year old man to be jumping off the Professor's piano and running the length of the stage to slide on his knees. And we probably won't see Nils doing his backflip anytime soon. And we might have seen the last of the young girl's hearts growing weak as the man child gives them a double-shot (At the 7 minute mark of this clip is the definition of what it means to be a rock star).

But even as we admit that maybe we ain't that young anymore, my dad's buddy Watson put it best in the wake of his 49th veneration: "There's no such thing as a bad Springsteen show."

Damn straight. And it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive.

This was one of those nights where we knew it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Public Service Announcement

The next time you have your toddler at the mall, make sure you hold her by the hand at all times... particularly if there is a demonstration being put on by a break dancer moonlighting as a Mortal Kombat character.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hey Ya Cover

Now, does the fact that I almost prefer this version mean that I'm getting old, or does it simply mean that the original was one of the most overplayed songs of all time? Regardless, this is a pretty killer version done by Obadiah Parker, and his decision to splice it with the original video is nothing short of sheer brilliance.

I really wish I had one of those interactive voting scales like they do on BarStoolSports.com so I could get my legions of readers to vote on which version they prefer (1 for the original, 10 for the acoustic cover). But seeing as I have neither the interactive voting scale nor the legions of readers, I guess I'll have to leave it to you to place your votes in the Comment section.

Thanks to M@ for passing on the link.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I think that this one will go down right along with the Scott Norwood missed FG and last time the Bills played a meaningful game in December (you might recall something about the Tenessee Titans throwing a forward pass that the officials somehow ruled a lateral). The Monday nighter tonight nearly killed me. I'm sitting here waiting for the post game press conference, returning text messages from heartbroken fellow Bills fans, and half expecting Dick Jauron to stand up at the podium so he can scream "THE COWBOYS ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!!!" before pounding his fist on the podium and walking away in disgust.

This had all of the makings of a magical night. Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas on the sidelines, a promising rookie quaterback doing his best Tom Brady impression, and a national television audience with whom to share the goosebump-inducing experience. Five picks, a fumble recovery, and a kick-off return later, it seemed like this would finally be the game where the Bills turned the corner. Hell, even Jaws was waxing poetic about his Lackawana youth. I had the perfect entry all ready to go, complete with video of the Chris Kelsay INT TD and a headline ushering in the Trent Edwards era... But then the absolute worst case scenario began to unfold.

First the Edwards interception inside the 15 when a field goal would have essentially sealed the game, only to be followed by the jubilation of the DiGiorgio pick immediately thereafter. And then the Romo drive inside two minutes that absolutely ripped my heart out, only to be followed by the elation of watching T.O. drop the two point conversion... As my buddy Foley put it: "I now know what it feels like to be a heroin addict. Triumphant and manic jubilation followed by bouts of extreme depression". And then that miracle on-side kick that the Bills inexplicably botched, followed by an impossible three play drive that culminated in an all-time freeze job by Jauron, only to be outdone by the rookie kicker nailing a 53-yarder as time expires...

There really are no words to describe what it feels like to be a fan of this franchise. I'm pretty sure there will be a mass suicide going on in the Queen City tonight. And it would be hard to blame anyone.

This was supposed to be the game we finally got to stick it to Wade Phillips for inexplicably benching Doug Flutie for Rob Johnson on the last day of the '99 regular season and then unconscionably starting Johnson in the Music City Miracle game. This was supposed to be the game that Kelly and Thomas passed the torch on to Edwards and Lynch. And this was supposed to be that one game where the Bills were finally able to hold on to win one that mattered, unlike so many other times where they end up heart-breakingly choking it away in the dying seconds (has any football team lost as many games in the last five seconds as the Buffalo Bills? Scott Norwood. The forward pass. Byron Leftwich in 2004. Jason Elam hitting that opening-day field goal with no time left four weeks ago... and now this... it's just too much).

In The Sports Guy's Levels of Losing, this one has to rate as a no-brainer Stomach Punch. All of the symptoms are there: "any roller-coaster game that ends with (A) an opponent making a pivotal (sometimes improbable) play or (B) one of your guys failing in the clutch. ... Usually ends with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can even move at all. ... Always haunting, sometimes scarring."

Roller-coaster game? Check. Opponent making a pivotal, improbable play? Check. Fans filing out in stunned disbelief? Check. A loss that will haunt and scar? Check and Check.

There is nothing more excruciating than being a fan of the Buffalo Bills. And tonight was just another night in the long and storied life of...

Just kill me.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

At the time, this was the most outrageously hilarious scene in the best Thanksgiving Movie ever made. I remember being shocked and stunned into disbelieving silence the first time I saw it. Today? You'd expect to catch something like this on Showcase at 10pm on a Friday.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Gobble-Gobble.