Friday, June 27, 2008

Will Leitch

(The above is a spoof on the Costas Now piece about the life and work of Will Leitch.)

For those of you who follow the sports blogging circuit, today marks the end of a long and glorious run for one of the blogosphere's founding fathers, Will Leitch.

Leitch founded Deadspin back in September of 2005, a sports blog and website that paved the way for so many others in its image (Barstool Sports, Kissing Suzy Kolber, With Leather, Awful Announcing...). He is selling out in a way that all bloggers secretly and not-so-secretly hope to one day do, leaving behind his fantastic web-based forum for a position with a more established publication: New York Magazine.

One of the best things Leitch has ever written was about his experience on the gameshow "Win Ben Stein's Money". He appeared on the show only hours after being dumped by his then-fiance, and he wrote about it for The Black Table. The video evidence can be seen HERE.

For the rest of the Deadspin Roast (fittingly titled: "Will Leitch Sucks"), click HERE.

Reason #4,572 Why I Love The NBA Draft:


From ESPN's Bill Simmons:

There's comedy, there's high comedy, there's transcendent comedy, and then there's Robin Lopez giving an interview with an undersized Suns hat stuffed on top of his Anderson Varejao-esque permfro. In the words of Jim Nantz, what a moment! I never thought anyone would top Oscar Gamble's 1976 Topps card, but that came damned close.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Runnin' Down a Dream

"The first time you hear a new Tom Petty song, it sounds like a classic song."

- Eddie Vedder.

You really have no idea how great a band Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are until you sit down and watch this movie. All 4 hours of it. I own most of Petty's records, and even I was blown away by the breadth of his catalogue.

My buddy Browner (the resident music expert) recently lent me a copy of the documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, imploring me to watch it. I won't lie to you: it took me about two weeks to get around to it, and it was only whilst up in the wilds of Dornoch, facing the prospect of another night of Ethel Barrymore tributes (in black-and-white) on Turner Classic Movies, that we actually busted it out. But within the first three minutes, we were unequivocally hooked.

This is a brilliant documentary.

You really forget how great a songwriter Tom Petty is... and then this movie reminds you. But aside from the music, what I loved about this documentary was the story of the early days; how Mudcrutch came to be, how Mudcrutch came to be The Heartbreakers (one of the 10 best band names of all-time), and how they eventually made their way (the story of the band driving out to L.A. in an old station wagon that breaks down along the way is the story of every rock band with a dream). There is some amazing old footage from those early days, and some of the stories that Petty himself tells are absolutely hilarious. I had no idea he was such a raconteur.

But the absolute highlight for me came in the story of how The Travelling Wilburys - maybe the single greatest collection of Rock and Roll tallent ever assembled- came into existence. That serendipitous tale can be seen below:

Same old story. George needed a B-side, Roy wanted to come, George's guitar was at Tom's house, the only studio available was Bob's...

The same thing happens to me and my buddies all the time, except instead of winding up with a Grammy Award Winning album and millions of copies sold, we usually end up funnelling Lucky Lager and singing Joe Cocker tunes.

If you love Rock and Roll music, this is a must-see documentary.

Breaking News: Jermaine O'Neal to The Raps


On the eve of the NBA draft, the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers finally agreed to a trade.

Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that the Pacers and the Raptors have agreed to a deal that, pending review of medical information, would send Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto in exchange for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and the No. 17 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

To read more, click HERE:

Let me be the first to go on record as saying that I love this move. In the hours after the Raps were handed a junior high schoolyard beatdown at the hands of the Orlando Magic, I wrote that if the boys in Red had any hope of competing in the Eastern Conference over the next 10 years, they needed to get tougher. In fact, I went so far as to suggest that they draft for Joey "38.7% Free Throw Shooting" Dorsey in Thursday's draft. But Brian Colangelo has one upped the experts here at Because not only did he manage to secure the first legit Center in Raptors franchise history, and a 6-time all-star with plenty of game left to free up perennial All-Star Chris Bosh; Colangelo may have just acquired the Baddest Mother F#cker this side of Charles Oakley.

Just to refresh your memory:

Go ahead and fast-forward to the 1:15 mark. The Raps could use a little dose of that don't-fuck-with-my-team toughness/insanity.

As for what the Raps are sending the other way, it was pretty clear that T.J's time was up in Toronto, as he had basically become the Larry Murphy of the Toronto basketball scene; a skilled player who gets blamed for everything that goes wrong. There are nights when he looks unstoppable as a scorer, but there is no denying that the team is infinitely better with Jose running the point. Rasho was going to walk anyway. As for the 17th pick? Have you taken note of the Raptors draft history? If the names Michael Bradley (17th pick), Rafael Araujo (8th pick), and Joey Graham (one spot ahead of Danny Granger) mean nothing to you, you have proven my point exactly.

Love the fact that the Raps got bigger and tougher. Love the fact that Jose Calderon is the starting point guard. And love the fact that the Raps finally have an Irishman to play the 5...

Now, about that whole knee thing....

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES – George Carlin, the frenzied performer whose routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" led to a key Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, has died.

Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, went into St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica on Sunday afternoon complaining of chest pain and died later that evening, said his publicist, Jeff Abraham. He had performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. He was 71.

"He was a genius and I will miss him dearly," Jack Burns, who was the other half of a comedy duo with Carlin in the early 1960s, told The Associated Press.

Carlin's jokes constantly breached the accepted boundaries of comedy and language, particularly with his routine on the "Seven Words" – all of which are taboo on broadcast TV and radio to this day.

When he uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace, freed on $150 bail and exonerated when a Wisconsin judge dismissed the case, saying it was indecent but citing free speech and the lack of any disturbance.

When the words were later played on a New York radio station, they resulted in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling upholding the government's authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language during hours when children might be listening.

"So my name is a footnote in American legal history, which I'm perversely kind of proud of," he told The Associated Press earlier this year.

Despite his reputation as unapologetically irreverent, Carlin was a television staple through the decades, serving as host of the ``Saturday Night Live" debut in 1975 – noting on his Web site that he was "loaded on cocaine all week long" – and appearing some 130 times on "The Tonight Show.''

He produced 23 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, three books, a couple of TV shows and appeared in several movies, from his own comedy specials to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" in 1989 – a testament to his range from cerebral satire and cultural commentary to downright silliness (and sometimes hitting all points in one stroke).

"Why do they lock gas station bathrooms?" he once mused. "Are they afraid someone will clean them?''

He won four Grammy Awards, each for best spoken comedy album, and was nominated for five Emmy awards. On Tuesday, it was announced that Carlin was being awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which will be presented Nov. 10 in Washington and broadcast on PBS.

Carlin started his career on the traditional nightclub circuit in a coat and tie, pairing with Burns to spoof TV game shows, news and movies. Perhaps in spite of the outlaw soul, "George was fairly conservative when I met him," said Burns, describing himself as the more left-leaning of the two. It was a degree of separation that would reverse when they came upon Lenny Bruce, the original shock comic, in the early '60s.

"We were working in Chicago, and we went to see Lenny, and we were both blown away," Burns said, recalling the moment as the beginning of the end for their collaboration if not their close friendship. "It was an epiphany for George. The comedy we were doing at the time wasn't exactly groundbreaking, and George knew then that he wanted to go in a different direction.''

That direction would make Carlin as much a social commentator and philosopher as comedian, a position he would relish through the years.

"The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things – bad language and whatever – it's all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition,'' Carlin told the AP in a 2004 interview. "There's an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. ... It's reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have.''

Carlin was born on May 12, 1937, and grew up in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, raised by a single mother. After dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, he joined the Air Force in 1954. He received three court-martials and numerous disciplinary punishments, according to his official Web site.

While in the Air Force he started working as an off-base disc jockey at a radio station in Shreveport, La., and after receiving a general discharge in 1957, took an announcing job at WEZE in Boston.

"Fired after three months for driving mobile news van to New York to buy pot," his Web site says.

From there he went on to a job on the night shift as a deejay at a radio station in Fort Worth, Texas. Carlin also worked variety of temporary jobs including a carnival organist and a marketing director for a peanut brittle.

In 1960, he left with Burns, a Texas radio buddy, for Hollywood to pursue a nightclub career as comedy team Burns & Carlin. He left with $300, but his first break came just months later when the duo appeared on Jack Paar's "Tonight Show.''

Carlin said he hoped to emulate his childhood hero, Danny Kaye, the kindly, rubber-faced comedian who ruled over the decade Carlin grew up in – the 1950s – with a clever but gentle humour reflective of the times.

It didn't work for him, and the pair broke up by 1962.

"I was doing superficial comedy entertaining people who didn't really care: Businessmen, people in nightclubs, conservative people. And I had been doing that for the better part of 10 years when it finally dawned on me that I was in the wrong place doing the wrong things for the wrong people," Carlin reflected recently as he prepared for his 14th HBO special, "It's Bad For Ya.''

Eventually Carlin lost the buttoned-up look, favouring the beard, ponytail and all-black attire for which he came to be known.

But even with his decidedly adult-comedy bent, Carlin never lost his childlike sense of mischief, even voicing kid-friendly projects like episodes of the TV show "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends'' and the spacey Volkswagen bus Fillmore in the 2006 Pixar hit ``Cars.''

Carlin's first wife, Brenda, died in 1997. He is survived by wife Sally Wade; daughter Kelly Carlin McCall; son-in-law Bob McCall; brother Patrick Carlin; and sister-in-law Marlene Carlin.

George Carlin is the only comedian I have ever paid money to see (Las Vegas, MGM Grand, 2001 - The performance included the best/most offensive opening line in the history of comedy), and in my opinion, he is far and away the most socially relevant comedian we've ever known. No comedy collection is complete without "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" (in honour of Carlin, here they are: "Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits"), and for my money, 1996's Back In Town is the best hour of standup I have ever come across.

I have to say that George Carlin saw the world in much the same way that I do, and in many ways he said the things that most of us were afraid to say. He will be missed greatly.

Some of his finer work can be found below (Language is extremely NSFW - just the way we like it):

White People

Free-Floating Hostility

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Diversion

A little something to get you through this Friday afternoon:

Lucky Town - My buddy Foley and I came up with this definition when we were many, many beverages deep up in Collingwood two weeks ago. What can I say? We were doing our part to shape the lexicon. It turns out I've been down to Lucky Town more than I'd probably like to admit, and this weekend will probably be no exception.

Jewels and Binoculars - Any jazz trio that takes it's name from my favourite Dylan tune deserves some publicity on the blog.

"Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet..."

I defy anyone to find a better opening line.

Remembering Russert

A number of readers have pointed me in the direction of the passing of Tim Russert. I have to admit that I wasn't all that familiar with Russert's work on Meet the Press, but any diehard fan of the Buffalo Bills is a friend of mine. The video clip in the top right-hand corner of this piece is fantastic. There is little doubt that Tim Russert will be sorely missed in the Queen City.

Bo Diddley

Two weeks ago, when I heard that Bo Diddley had died, two things immediately came to mind. The first was that we had lost one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. Bo Diddley was responsible for inventing that perfect rock-rhythm (Bomp-ba-Bomp-ba-Bomp.... Bomp-Bomp...), and he recorded one of the greatest rock and roll songs we've ever known: Who Do You Love. Oh yeah, and this little performance wasn't bad either.

The second thing that came to mind was his appearance in what has to be considered the best commercial in the history of television. This was a classic:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Best of NxNE - 2008

We'll have to consider this an incomplete rundown of this year's edition of North by Northeast, because I spent the last night of the festival down in Sherkston helping my buddy DVZ funnel an obscene amount of beer for his stag. And despite the fact that there were no bands that I would have given my left nut to see this year, NxNE still proved to be a wild weekend of music and debauchery.

It should also be noted that, particularly in the case of this entry, fundamental accuracy of description has been sacrificed in the name of drunken, subjective reality. On with the awards:

Band Most Likely To Appear On The Thursday 30 In The Near Future: Small Sins (The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Thursday, 11:00 pm)

Think Tokyo Police Club meets Hawksley Workman. These guys were on my buddy Browner's must-see list, and they did not disappoint. With Thomas D'Arcy from The Carnations fronting the band and some dude with freakishly long arms dancing on stage while occassionally clapping and banging a tambourine, these guys put on a hell of a show, and are just poppy enough to make a big-time splash. Their lyrics are pretty killer as well, as evidenced in Drunk E-mails:

Yes these are loaded questions,
Sent to you late at night,
But baby I still need answers,
That I'll take to heart at sunrise.

When I send you drunk e-mail,
And you send me no reply,
Where is the love you feel,
That you give me in the daytime?

Chock-full of typos I know,
Language and grammar die,
Questions that must be asked though,
I won't have the heart at sunrise.

I mean, who can't relate to that?

Artist Most Likely To Be Singing The Anthem At Next Year's NHL All-Star Game: Lindi Ortega (The Mod Club, Friday, 7:00 pm)

At last year's Bob Harris showcase, I witnessed Kathleen Edwards perform for the first time. I only knew a couple of her tunes going in, thought that her lyrics were quintessentially Canadian and wholly original, and found her to be completely captivating on stage... And then the next thing I knew, she was singing the Canadian Anthem at the NHL All-Star game in Dallas.

And not that you could ever compare her to Kathleen edwards, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Lindi Ortega experienced a similarly meteoric rise in the next 365 days. Her songs can't really be categorized, her voice is absolutely stunning, and her backing band is rock solid (echoes of Van Morrison's band in the early 70's). Dying of Another Broken Heart is a fabulous track, and there was some song about a drifter that completely blew me away. And she had fans at the show from Peru, so that has to say something.

Best Celebrity Dotcomrade Sighting: Elliotte Friedman

Browner and I bumped into CBC's own Elliotte Friedman at the Sloan show Thursday night, and after multiple complimentary Heinekens (Browner and the good people at Arts and Crafts were kind enough to hook me up with VIP access), I had the following conversation with Friedman:

SM: Hey Elliotte, what's happenin man?

EF: Not much.

SM: Listen, I know you have no way of remembering this, but we actually bumped into you down in Nashville last year after the Leaf game.

EF: I DO remember that. The country bar, right?

SM: Yeah, Lonnie's!

EF: I remember that EXACTLY. And the REASON I remember that is because a FRIEND of mine was surfing the INTERNET and atually came across this hilarious ARTICLE about that night...

SM (completely dumbfounded): ...Holy Shit! That was me who wrote that!

What can I say? The breadth of dotcomrade nation knows no bounds.
(By the way, this might be my favourite photo of all-time)

Best Use Of The Phrase: "Punch Me In The Nose": Slowcoaster (Clinton's, Friday, Midnight)

I have no idea why I found it so funny that the lead singer kept repeating "I feel your pain like you punched me in the nose / we hang out in the darkest of discos", but I did. I think it has something to do with the fact that only an East Coast band could get away with dropping such a quintessentially Canadian phrase in a kick ass rock tune with one of the catchiest hooks I can remember.

Slowcoaster was like a tale of two bands. When they stuck to the dank and dirty rock and roll they were dominating, there were few bands better. But when they veered off into the Sublime-like reggae thing, they lost most of what made them great. Nonetheless, a great deal of potential in these Cape Breton rockers.


Best Los Locos Tribute Band: .Moneen (El Mocambo, Friday, 11:00 pm)

This was about as close to 1996 as I ever want to come. I could have sworn I was in the bowels of the Oakville Masonic temple or something with a mickey of Canadian Club tucked into the crotch of my pants. There was plenty of screaming, moshing, crowd surfing, and eleven-teen year olds. And .Moneen hasn't really changed their sound all that much since those days in high school when it was cool to scream the lyrics of your badass hard punk tunes. Believe me when I say I'm too old for this.


The Mikey's-West-Coast-Representation Award For Most Awkward Moment of NxNE: Sean McCallum

By the time the 1:00 am set rolled around on Thursday night, Browner and I were completely shit-faced, and Browner began introducing me to all of his industry buddies as "media". Gotta love the tire-pumping, and I'll take all of the exposure I can get, far-fetched though it may be. But just let me tell you, if you don't have one of those media passes dangling from your neck, it can leave you wide open for moments of complete mortification... Like after the Buffalo Builders show, when we were standing out front of Lee's Palace, talking to Dave Marshall (lead singer), and Browner introduced me as a member of the media. "Who do you write for?"... "Well, I kinda... you know, freelance a little bit..." "Which paper? Maybe I've heard of it..." "Well, actually... I kind of run this website..." "Really? What's it called? I might have come across it?".... "Ummm.... (running into oncoming traffic in an attempt to flag down a cab)"

Needless to say, there is nothing more embarassing than telling someone the name of your site is the name of your name... I really need to look into changing that.

The Krister Axel Award for Best Performance By A Band I'd Never Heard Of Prior To This Weekend: Buffalo Builders (Lee's Palace, Thursday, 1:00 am)

Even though there were only about 35 people in the crowd for this rootsy rock band (comprised of some of the members of the former Staggered Crossing), they absolutely rocked Lee's Palace Thursday night. As Browner put it: "They aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. They just play good, old fashioned Rock and Roll".

I couldn't tell you the name of a single song they performed because I was completely smashed by the time they took the stage (so smashed, in fact, that Browner and I both managed to forget the free pairs of custom Cons we'd received at the Sloan show {this coming after we'd carried them around with us all night in a bag that strongly resembled a purse... not that there's anything wrong with that}). Dave Marshall of BB is a master with the axe and absolutely wrestles with his guitar, looking a lot like Neil Young in the process, and if pressed to put a tag on their sound, Browner and I came up with the following: Imagine Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, and John Mellencamp all jamming together in Tom Petty's living room, with Melissa McClelland occasionally filling in on vocals. If that isn't the sound of a great rock band, I don't know what is.

Lesbian Disappointment of NxNE: Modernboys Moderngirls (The Boat, Thursday, Midnight)

A Lesbian Disappointment is when you're at a party and one of your buddies informs you that there are a couple of girls making out in the kitchen. You've heard all about these "lesbians", and as a result, you are immediately flooded with visions of ridiculously attractive women wearing blood-red lipstick and black lingerie, just like the girls in the Friday night Baby Blue movies. So you obviously run into the kitchen to catch some of the action going down... and in the process, have every single one of those lesbian fantasies completely obliterated in a mass of disproportioned body types, unkemt hair, and Eddie-Vedder-style-plaid.

Let's just say that the Modernboys Moderngirls live performance was a Lesbian Disappointment.

Bill Masterton Award for Comeback of The Year: Bob Harris

Bob Harris, the great BBC radio host, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, and as a result, ended up missing his own NxNE showcase (one of the best shows I've ever seen). Anyway, Bob was back in full effect this year at Lee's Palace, and it was great to see him out. Stay well, Bobby.

Best Maritime Pogues Impersonation: The Tom Fun Orchestra (Clinton's, Friday, 1:00 am)

They came billed as Tom Waits meets The Pogues, but as my brother Ronnie put it: "that lead singer is trying waaaaay too hard to be Tom Waits." And as we all know, there is only one Tom Waits.

But the Good Ship Tommy Fun absolutely rocked the tiny stage at Clinton's (still unsure how they fit 9 band members in that tiny space), and their good time junkyard sound cannot be denied. If you were ever looking for a trio of guitars, a violin, an upright bass, an accordion, a banjo, drums, a mandolin, a clarinet, and a trumpet to shake your Celtic-loving tail to, the Tom Fun Orchestra would probably be just the band for you. And it helps if you're incredibly drunk.

Best Random "Rock Star" Moment: Having the basist from Wide Mouth Mason run in and tell Browner and I that the Boston Celtics just pulled off an improbable 24-point comeback, to which Browner and I responded by exchanging one of the great drunken-awkward-white-guy-high-fives of all-time.

Number of Steam Whistles consumed: 29 (approximately)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Your 2008 NBA Champions

This game isn't over officially over yet, but Jesus Shuttleworth just drained a wide open 3 from the corner to put the Celtics up 101-70. If the Swirsk were working for NESN, he'd be screaming about Salami and Cheese right about now.

Since my buddy Flats moved to Boston, they have had about 37 Championship parades, so I'll pose the question that El Prez has been asking for weeks: is it even considered a legitimate championship if a Boston team isn't involved? At this stage of the game, you almost have to say NO.

By the way, I know that this is completely tasteless (2nd entry), but is it funny? I say yes.
And this might be one of the best (read: incoherent) post-game interviews of all-time. The only two things I know are that KG loves his mom, and I'm not going to be the one to tell him there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I think you should quit drinking...

We threw my buddy DVZ's stag this past Saturday night, and without getting into too many details, let's just say that it was a success. I think the evening can be best summed up in the email the groom-to-be sent us this morning (still hungover, no doubt).

Thanks for coming out on saturday, I had a blast... what could be better than getting pelted by paintballs to the point of bleeding, funneling/beiruting/drinking/shotgunning poisionous amounts of beer and barfing it back up again, choking on a hunk of steak and almost dying (thanks todd), doing wheelie's on a golf cart with 10 guys on board, seeing way too much sausage at the lake erie sausage swim, having whiskey poured on my head evoking instant barfing and ending the night roid-raging because my tent was invaded and then broken on top of me... which made me throw a chair at poor link who had nothing to do with it.

For obvious reasons, photographic evidence has been withheld (particularly the shots of the Lake Erie Sausage swim... that was ugly). The only thing I can add is that I really don't think any stag from this day forward can be considered complete without a funnel, a Beirut tournament, and 24 8oz steaks from The Keg. That was one hell of a night.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

NxNE Preview

North by Northeast is my favourite weekend of the year in Toronto, and this year's edition of the second biggest music festival in North America is looking stellar on paper. For the uninitiated, NxNE can be broken down as follows (taken from the NxNE website):

North by Northeast (NXNE) is three events in one:

• Canada’s #1 showcase for new independent music, where fans can catch great local and international performers at intimate venues
• A film festival where music is the star, with music-related features, documentaries, and shorts
• An industry conference featuring celebrity interviews as well as panels and information exchanges for artists and music-biz professionals

North by Northeast 14 takes over downtown Toronto June 12-15, 2008. For four days and nights on the cusp of summer, NXNE will entertain close to 100,000 people. The Music Festival will showcase over 500 performers on stages at 40 of the city’s coolest clubs. The Film Festival will screen the year’s best music-related cinema. And the Conference will bring music celebs to Toronto for in-depth interview sessions (yes, you can attend!) and host discussions in which the future of the music business reveals itself.

During the festival, Toronto throws open its heart and its beer fridges to fans from around the world. Bars serve booze till 4 am nightly (yes, four), so those with the stamina—or the right pharmaceutical cocktails—can stay fully lubricated in a crazed quest to get maximum blast from this explosive event.

The Eclectic Approach
There’s a huge variety of music at NXNE: Rock, Garage, Punk, Reggae, DJ, Folk, Hip Hop, Goth, Americana, Dance, Ambient, Metal, Bluegrass, Electronic, Singer-Songwriter, R&B, Acoustic, Alternative and more. If you buy any one of the fantastic NXNE admission packages, you’re going to see and hear brilliant, explosive new artists who, because of the stultifying corporate control of global media, might not otherwise have a high-profile, international platform to scream at the rooftops from.

North by Northeast first rolled out in 1995, conceived as a sister festival to the South by Southwest Festival & Conference in Austin, Texas. Since then, NXNE has grown each year, with last year’s festival being the biggest yet. It’s a feeding frenzy for fans, a must-do for performers, and a vital gathering for international music & film industry execs.

NXNE has always been about the music. The festival gives 500 local, national and international artists the chance to rock the crowds and to showcase for agents, talent buyers, media, promoters, labels and management company heavies at a variety of essential downtown venues. While many NXNE performers have hit the fest’s 40 club stages on their way to major international breakthroughs, other high-profile acts join the fray to help make NXNE essential and eclectic. Festival alumni include Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Dinosaur Jr., Feist, The Dears, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Sufjan Stevens, Patrick Watson, Sam Roberts, Billy Talent, Kathleen Edwards, Ron Sexsmith, K’naan, Jason Collett, Sarah Harmer, and Sum 41.

As always, I will be hitting the town with my buddy Browner and his exquisite indie knowledge, to say nothing of his propensity for being able to drink until the very wee hours. In anticipation of the fact that I will be way too hungover to write anything tomorrow, here are some of the highlights from last year's NxNE:

Highlights from the Bob Harris Radio Showcase (Blue Rodeo/Ron Sexsmith/Kathleen Edwards/Justin Rutledge/Luke Doucet... aka, one of the best nights of music I've ever experienced)

The Best of NxNE, 2007

And for those planning to attend this year, here's what you need to know:

Which bands playing where and when

List of Venues

Now Magazine's fantastic preview

Boston's Big Dig - Toronto Next?

I meant to write about this project back in January, when Boston's Big Dig was officially completed. But things slip your mind, you move on, and by the time you think of it again, it hardly seems as relevent as it did six months ago. In any event, there was something in one of Bill Simmons' recent articles that reminded me that I still needed to write about exactly what the big dig - by most measures a civic catastrophe as far as budgets go - has done for the city of Boston.

When a bunch of my friends and I went to visit my buddy Flats in Boston last December, we stayed at his place on Isabella Street (go ahead and click on that link to see how close his place is to the Mass Pike - and then fiddle around with the satelite image to see where the highway disappears. Unreal). I didn't even realize until the morning we left that he was living about 100 feet from the busiest highway in New England.

In his recent article about the rebirth of Boston, the city's favourite son waxed poetic about exactly how his city has been transformed by the project:

Once upon a time, Boston was a pretty easy place to understand. Things never changed and, more importantly, we liked it that things never changed. Life revolved around the weather cycles (often brutal), the sports teams (often disappointing) and those occasionally fabulous days in April or October when the sun was shining and there wasn't a prettier place to be. We dealt with traffic, snow, construction, parking problems and sports letdowns year after year, and that's just who we were. Everything was symbolized by the Big Dig, a project that promised to rejuvenate the city and put our highways underground, only it fell years behind schedule and bled billions in cost overruns, rendering Boston impotent for a number of years. I graduated from college in '92 and spent the next decade living in the city (mostly in Charlestown) dealing with jackhammers and detours the entire time. After a while, you stopped thinking about it and assumed that's the way the city would always be -- mangled, ugly and messed up. Nobody could conceive of life after the Big Dig. It just seemed incomprehensible.

Well, the project finally ended two years ago. Remember the reality show "The Swan," in which someone gets an extreme makeover and tons of plastic surgery and family members stare at him or her in complete disbelief? That's how I feel every time I come back to Boston. If there was a defining trait for the Causeway area other than the old Garden, it was the Green Line, which ran above ground (you might recall seeing the shot of the train rumbling toward the Garden before every Celtics game) and right over Causeway Street. Scattered around the area were a number of bars, including some classic ones (Harp, Sullivan's Tap, Four's) and a never-ending group of bars in static locations that always seemed to change names every 18 months. On paper, this seems kind of cool. In reality, it meant the tracks hung over the street, blocked every inch of sunlight and dripped smelly water every time it rained or snowed, and on top of that, you had to hear the deafening screech of the train rumbling by every few minutes.

Here's why I'm telling you this: The Causeway of 2008 has zero in common with the Causeway of 1998. Once the construction was finished, you could have blindfolded me, spun me around a few times, dropped me in the middle of Causeway and asked me where I was, and I wouldn't have had a clue until I noticed the Harp or Halftime Pizza, and even then, I would have been confused. You wouldn't call the area beautiful or anything, but it's sunny and happy, and in an implausible twist, you can stand at the old North Station stop -- flanked by a ghastly and unsafe I-93 ramp once upon a time -- turn toward Faneuil Hall and actually see Faneuil Hall from a distance. What was once highway ramps, bridges, "T" tracks and construction has been replaced by grass and sidewalks. "Incredible" isn't a strong enough word. In fact, you could walk from Quincy Market to the North End to Causeway Street to the Red Hat to the top of Charles Street and (A) remain in the sun for the entire time and (B) actually enjoy the trip without feeling you might get mugged.

It's just a different city. The Baby Boomer generation keeps drifting from the suburbs into Back Bay, the South End, the North End or Beacon Hill, leading to a peculiar situation in which real estate prices keep climbing in a market in which prices are swooning everywhere else. And thanks to relaxed tax laws, Hollywood has descended on downtown in droves; instead of nonstop construction, you're more prone to see trailers, lights and policemen blocking off a brownstone or a building. On Friday night, I went to pick up my friend Willy at his place on Commonwealth Avenue; across the street, something was happening but I couldn't figure out what.

"That's where they're filming the new Bruce Willis movie," Willy said matter-of-factly.


Living here from day to day, it's probably tougher to realize how much Boston has changed -- how many nice restaurants, clubs and bars are scattered throughout the city, how much easier it is to get around, how much happier and efficient and sleeker things seem -- but it's something I couldn't stop wrapping my head around for six days, from the moment I arrived at Logan Airport (no longer a travesty of a dump, by the way) and found myself in one of those secret handshake tunnels that cab drivers use now to get from Logan into the city. Crazy. The whole thing is crazy.

Boston is now a city where you can walk everywhere. When I visited for the first time, back in 1999, I didn't think much of the place. Yeah, Fenway was a baseball cathedral, and we had some pretty solid Chowder in the market, but other than that, it felt like just another city. But this last time around, I couldn't stop talking about how beautiful a city it was. On more than one occasion, my buddies were imploring me to sit down on a park bench and write a haiku about it or something, just to get it over with so I would shut up already. The city really was a different place, but I couldn't really put my finger on exactly why. And then three weeks later, I read that the big dig was officially completed.

For those of you who live in and around Toronto, I don't need to tell you what kind of an obstruction The Gardiner Expressway is. It severs the city from the waterfront. It makes those condos lining its periphery some of the least desirable places to live. It is daunting to walk beneath. And it too drips disgusting wet stuff in the winter.

Now just imagine if that raised artery was beneath the city? You would be able to walk from the CN Tower to the waterfront without giving it a second thought. You would actually be able to see the lake from the downtown streets, a completely foreign concept, I know (for those readers outside of Toronto, you would never know it, but we're actually situated on one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world... except no one can see it!). All of those condos facing the highway would become desirable places to live. It would create more green space. It would promote more walking, more biking, more rollerblading... And what's more, with the Gardiner out of the way, you could widen Lakeshore Boulevard and model it in the tradition of Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires; for my money, one of the most recognizable streets in the world. Hell, you could even slap a dedicated streetcar line in the middle of that glorious, newfound expanse, and actually give people a means by which they could reliably get to the beaches.

The plan just seems too good to be true. And sure, the project would probably bankrupt the city, and traffic would be disgusting for ten or twelve years (would this convince people to use public transit?); but I think in the end a big-dig-like project that could bury the Gardiner and reconnect this great city with the waterfront, and in the process allow for the growth of our lacking public transportation system and promote more walking and cycling is exactly what this city needs.

To learn more about the $14.6 billion Big Dig project, and how the average drive through downtown Boston has been cut from 19.5 minutes to 2.8 minutes, click HERE.

(Do those pre-big-dig problems sound familar?)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Great Acting Showdown


I rented There Will Be Blood last night, and I have to say that Daniel Day-Lewis delivers one of the great acting performances of our generation in this film. More than anything else, he is the movie. Legend has it that Day-Lewis so became the character of Daniel Plainview that he was impossible to be around during the 3 months of shooting (as documented in the Sunday Times), a frightening prospect to say the least.

Anyway, the Salvation scene was so brilliant that it immediately drew comparisons in my mind to the greatest scene in cinematic history: Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in Quentin Tarrantino's most underrated effort, True Romance.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Anatomy of a Hangover

We all know the myriad benefits of alcohol. It puts a tickle in your trousers and a tale on your tongue. It has a knack for making those pesky inhibitions fade away. It is the prefered vehicle for bonding, and the social benefits derived from sharing a drink with someone really can't be overstated. In fact, my Grandfather used to famously tell me that you should never trust a man who won't have a drink with you (my Grandmother, on the other hand, was famous for advising: "never marry a man who drinks"). Of all the things my friends and I like to do, I would venture to guess that in about 95% of those things, the enjoyment is greatly enhanced with the addition of alcohol. Softball? Check. Camping? Check. Skilled games of hand-eye co-ordination? Check. And though it may be true that some of us have what others consider to be a mild drinking "problem", most of us can rest assured that at least we're not full-fledged alcholics. Because as we all know, alcoholics go to meetings.

It is for these reasons, then, that we choose to contend with the hangover. I've been fortunate in my life, because I generally know when to shut it down, and I don't get goaded into nearly as many games of competitive drinking as I used to. As a result, I haven't had to deal with those epic sorts of hangovers for quite some time (although, with this being the first true summer-like weekend in Toronto, there's a good chance I'll be changing my tune come Sunday morning). In any event, I don't claim to have a remedy for those wicked, mind-crushing hangovers, the only thing I ever really prescribe for myself after a night of debauchery being multiple pints of water and about 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

But for those of you longing for more creative cures, check out the following piece. Some of the highlights for me were the names given to hangovers by different cultures ("made of rubber", "hair ache", "howling of kittens", and "carpenters in the forehead"), and the fact that taking Tylenol is one of the worst things you can do for your hangover (something I've long suspected).

Bottoms Up!

A Few Too Many, by Joan Acocella

Of the miseries regularly inflicted on humankind, some are so minor and yet, while they last, so painful that one wonders how, after all this time, a remedy cannot have been found. If scientists do not have a cure for cancer, that makes sense. But the common cold, the menstrual cramp? The hangover is another condition of this kind. It is a preventable malady: don’t drink. Nevertheless, people throughout time have found what seemed to them good reason for recourse to alcohol. One attraction is alcohol’s power to disinhibit—to allow us, at last, to tell off our neighbor or make an improper suggestion to his wife. Alcohol may also persuade us that we have found the truth about life, a comforting experience rarely available in the sober hour. Through the lens of alcohol, the world seems nicer. (“I drink to make other people interesting,” the theatre critic George Jean Nathan used to say.) For all these reasons, drinking cheers people up. See Proverbs 31:6-7: “Give . . . wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” It works, but then, in the morning, a new misery presents itself...

Read more HERE.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lord Love the Detroit Red Wings

One of my best friends, Sully, is quite possibly the biggest Detroit Red Wings fan on the planet. He'll tell you with a straight face that Steve Yzerman was the greatest player to ever lace 'em up, he'll talk himself into Chris Osgood being able to backstop a team to a Stanley Cup final, and come playoff time, he'll still don the #19 jersey he's had since he was a kid, despite the fact that it's about seven sizes too small. Through good times and bad, he's always been there for the Wings.

Yesterday afternoon, Sully lost his father after a long and heroic battle with Leukemia.

I get a lot of flack for writing about sports. People tell me that I devote too much of my time to sports, that I care too much about these meaningless games, and that the teams I immerse myself in are altogether too important to me. I'm often told that I shouldn't care about these teams or these games because sports isn't real life, and these teams and these games don't give a damn about me one way or the other. And that may or may not be the case. In fact, it probably is the case. But that isn't the point.

Because sometimes you need a break from real life. Sometimes you need an escape from the reality of the way things are. And sometimes you need the hope that allows you to believe that things will one day be better than they are today.

And sometimes you just need something to take your mind off the fact that you just lost your best friend.

I know there were few things in this world Sully and his dad enjoyed more than watching the hockey game on Hockey Night in Canada in the Sullivan family basement; Sully as a Wings fan, Lornie as a Habs fan, but the two of them always understanding the unspoken bond that can only exist between a father and a son, somehow manifesting itself in the game of hockey.

That bond is evident in the clip below. Almost without exception, each of these guys wants to share this moment; the pinnacle of their professional lives; with their dad.

And despite the fact that in a million years, the outcome of a sporting event could never begin to make up for the loss of Lornie Sullivan, I'm just glad that for one fleeting moment, Sully's team could be there for him.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Boston Crowd Control: Then vs. Now




Not that I consider myself to be an expert in the field of crowd control, but I'd say that we've become a little more efficient (read: uptight) over the course of the past 24 years. I have to tell you, I was absolutely blown away by the clip of the last few seconds of the Celtics-Lakers game (and the clip of the last minute before, where you literally have players politely herding overzealous fans off the court). Because forget about the fans rushing onto the court with time still remaining; what are the chances we see a fat drunk guy without a shirt on dancing on top of the basket (3:23) at the conclusion of this year's NBA finals? A billion-to-one?

Rest assured, anyone trying to get onto the court this year will be given the business, just like the old fat guy did at Fenway this past week. Which is a damn shame, because when done right (read: naked), rushing the field can be the highlight of any given sporting event.

By the way, if you're wondering why security is a little tighter than it was back in '84, check out this story from yesterday's Boston Herald about what happened to one of the fans while running onto the court in the mob scene in the aftermath of the aforementioned Game 7. Apparently, trying to steal the jersey off the back of Kurt Rambis only seconds after his losing out on the Larry O'Brien trophy isn't the best life decisoin one can make.

Bonus coverage: Just in case you are planning on rushing the court/field/ice surface anytime soon, this is how it's done:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Your Future President

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Final Primary Night
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008St. Paul, Minnesota
As Prepared for Delivery

Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.

Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said - because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign - through the good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.

At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.

That is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.

We've certainly had our differences over the last sixteen months. But as someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning - even in the face of tough odds - is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work at the Children's Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as First Lady; what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency - an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be. And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington, it's about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.

All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren't the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn't do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say - let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college - policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.
And it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians - a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.

So I'll say this - there are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.

Change is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged. I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years - especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.

We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in - but start leaving we must. It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future. It's time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve when they come home. It's time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda's leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st century - terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That's what change is.

Change is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy - tough, direct diplomacy where the President of the United States isn't afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That's what the American people want. That's what change is.

Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation. It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was President.

John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy - cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota - he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking for.

Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's ill, he'd understand that she can't afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and wealthy. She needs us to pass health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That's the change we need.

Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he'd understand that we can't afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future - an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's the change we need.

And maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he'd understand that we can't afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American. That's the change we need in America. That's why I'm running for President.

The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon - that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

Despite what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I've walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. I've sat across the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to death row. And I've worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.
So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom's cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.


By no means is this a political forum, but for anyone who watched Barack Obama's speech in St. Paul tonight... Wow! I mean, just... Wow...

The number of political speeches that have left me with goosebumps can be counted on one hand. But the speech that Obama delivered tonight has officially been added to that pantheon. Never before have I been so moved, and so simpatico with a political candidate. And for as far back as I can remember, never before has a speech been so relevant, so pertinent, and so perfectly delivered. If this guy can't inspire you, then there's a good chance you're already dead. And how about the fact that he ended the speech and cut directly to Springsteen's The Rising? In every conceivable way, Barack Obama is the exact opposite of George W. Bush... Which is precisely why he will be the next President of the United States of America.

The only thing left for Obama to do is to make Hillary his running mate. I have a world of respect for Hillary and for everything she's done, and think that she would be a phenomenal vice-president. Barack and Hillary really would be a dream team. And above everything else, the world definitely needs Bill Clinton back in the White House again in some capacity, if for no other reason than to have slick Willie running around the Oval Office with no discernable responsibilities. The ceiling for comedy is limitless.

Need more convincing? Check out O-Balla's skills on the hardwood:

Reason #1,064 why I don't play Cricket:

It is dangerous.

(The anticipation on this video is almost overwhelming. I was practically giddy by the time the payoff arrived)

As a side note, The Alfredo Griffins notched their first win of the season last night with an offensive outpouring the likes of which this co-ed, non-competitive softballer has never before witnessed (former Safewayhome frontman DVZ going yard?). Knowing that it will be almost impossible to repeat that kind of performance, I will be setting my sights on mastering the following pitch by the time next week's game rolls around.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Facebook Experiment

Selling out refers to the compromising of one's integrity, morality and principles in exchange for money, 'success' or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this, as opposed to following the original path s/he laid (or claimed to lay) out for him/herself, is labeled a sellout and regarded with disgust and immediate loss of respect. Selling out is seen as gaining success at the cost of credibility.

- Wikipedia

Yep, I'd say that's about right.

After years of resistance and ridicule, and against my better judgement, the blog has reluctantly acquiesced by joining Facebook.

As some of you may or may not have noticed, the blog had one of those nifty little counters installed last week (in the first week we had a little over 1,000 hits), and in an attempt to increase traffic, I have decided to branch out to the Facebook community (I feel dirty and impure just writing that). My brother has been saying for the better part of a year that opening a Facebook account would increase traffic 10-fold, so we're going to go ahead and put that theory to the test.

For the loyal dotcomrades who have been reading since the beginning, please welcome the fledgling Facebook All-Stars with open arms, and with the knowledge that the blog will not be selling out again anytime soon, unless of course the offer is just way too good to refuse.

Sex and the City

Seeing as this column has been referred to as "Sex and the City for guys", I would be remiss if I didn't comment on the release of the movie that has had women the world over in estrogen-fueled tizzy all weekend long.

Now, I don't claim for a second to know anything about Sex and the City, the show. I have probably seen a total of two combined episodes from the six seasons it was on HBO, and can tell you only that it takes place in New York, and that Peter Gibbons from Office Space made a brief appearance at one point. The only thing I really know about the show is that women seem to be completely infatuated with it. And at no point in time has this infatuation manifested itself more blatantly than this weekend.

My girlfriend and a friend of hers decided that they wanted to have some kind of female-bonding night, and that the female-bonding would revolve exclusively around seeing Sex and the City on the first Friday night of the film's release (going for Cosmopolitans at some swanky lounge before the show, seeing the movie, and then talking about it over martinis afterwards - I'm pretty sure the two of them weren't alone in these plans). So Friday morning, they walked to the theatre down the street from where she works, only to learn from the box office that all of Friday night's screenings had been sold out for two days. When she got back to work, she began phoning around, theatre after theatre, only to discover that the movie was literally sold out everywhere in Toronto. She eventually found a theatre in the Beaches with a couple of tickets, and jumped all over them.

According to my girlfriend, the entire city was buzzing with Sex and the City anticipation, the theatre was about 98% women, and the movie was everything she'd hoped for, and more. Hell, the Barry interesting survey this weekend even asked the question: "What would your girlfriend have to do to get you to go see Sex and the City?"

So my question is this: Is there anything on this planet that would elicit the same kind of response from men? I mean, can you think of a movie that would have guys universally planning their Friday night around going to see it, and result in every single theatre being sold out across an entire city?

(And for the record, I'm talking about normal, meat-eating, football watching dudes; not the ones who dress up like the characters in the movie and live in their parents' basement until well beyond middle age.)

My brother says that if they ever made an Entourage movie, that the response would be comparable, but I just don't see it. I can't imagine guys ever going to the lengths necessary to sell out an entire city's worth of theatres. I don't think we're organized enough to look into buying tickets in advace, and I know we're damn sure not organized enough to go out looking for alternate theatres if the one closest to home was sold out. I mean, sure, we'll drive halfway across the continent to catch a sporting event in person, but that's different. That's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can't recreate by renting from Blockbuster three months later.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that girls are a little bit crazy when it comes to certain things. And apparently Sex and the City is close to the top of that list of things they're crazy for.