Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sweet Home Chicago

Essential Elements for a Legendary Road Trip:

- A world class city for a destination

- A 12-seater rental van

- Bleacher seats at Wrigley Field

- Copius amounts of duty-free alcohol

- 13 Dudes with battle-tested livers

- 4 rooms booked at a 5-star hotel (or the Red Roof Inn)

Essential Elements for a Legendary Stag:

- A Groom-to-Be willing to make use of the above-listed

This particular road trip/stag weekend began in the only way it could have possibly began: belatedly. I picked up the 12-seater the night before, and after collecting the city guys (myself, Dunner {Barrie is a City}, Browner, and Sneeze), we found ourselves standing around outside the Groom-to-Be's office building at 9 o'clock on a Friday morning, waiting for the man of the weekend to bust out of work for the day. With time to kill, we took in the counter-culture world of high finance by parading around in the bowels of BCE place in little more than shorts and sandals and backwards turned baseball caps, smirking at all of the 7-figure suckers who have to actually work for a living...

Foley eventually stumbled out of his office at 9:30, and by 10:30, we were locked and loaded with the rest of the lads from the 'burbs (B*Rad, Skeeter, Dinner, and The Peacock). By all measures imaginable, the fact that we were only a half-hour behind schedule was nothing short of a miracle.

By one-o'clock we were at the Sarnia-Port Huron border. As is custom, we bought just slightly more than the maximum allowable amount of alcohol; you know, just to make it interesting; and piled it all into a massive cooler full of ice in the middle of the van's dance floor (the rental company couldn't legally rent me a 15-seater van, so they just removed one of the seats, leaving an open area in the middle of the van which was the perfect locale for storing coolers full of beer), in complete full view of any half-competent border patrol inspector. I guess I must have pulled the Jedi mind trick on the border guy because he somehow let us through without a full cavity inspection, and before you could say "there's a dead hooker in the trunk", 8 cans of ice-cold duty free beer were cracked simultaneously (probably one of the sweetest sounds on the planet), and I was officially regretting my decision to be the designated driver... Because truth be told, there are few things in this world that are more enjoyable than getting completely shit-faced in the back of a van on the way to Chicago.

By the time we got to Olivet, the previously boisterous backseat boozers had fallen silent, and I only realized their level of discomfort when we pulled over to the side of the road. Just a tip to any law enforcement officials out there: if you ever happen to come across a white 12-seater rental van at the side of the road with 11 dudes in a line, pissing with near orgasmic relief, there's a good chance those individuals may have been in posession of open alcohol containers in a moving vehicle. Just throwing it out there.

After a brief stop at the Olivet gas station to fuel up ($100 tank), to catch up with Dinner's college golf coach (Coach), and to load up on Steel Reserves (24-ounces, 8.1% alcohol, $0.99, and in the words of one highly regarded Olivet alum: drink 3 and you won't remember a thing. Blackout drunk for $3? What's not to like? Check the UD definition), we were back on the road to the Windy City with a new sense of determination and vigour that was best exemplified in Dunner's willingness to partake in the inaugural mobile funnel, a heretofore unthinkable feat of endurance, coordination, and drunken stupidity. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and it's very achievement was the reason we officially christened the van "The Bong Bus", which, for the record, is in no way related to the van with a strikingly similar name that you may or may not have come across in your various forays into the world of free porn sites.

The drive from Olivet to Chicago was a breeze, with nothing but old school hip-hop and The Eagles on the radio, crushing tins in the back (the Groom-to-Be did Yoemen's work by knocking back an even dozen Silver Bullets en route), and gas station quality coffee going down like Strychnine for the driver. The Peacock was kind enough to bring along his GPS device, and it was the craziest thing because all we had to do was type in "Lou Piniella", and before we knew it, there was Sweet Lou, walking down Ohio Street in his pink shirt like it was the most natural thing in the world. Of course, we have a great deal of experience with celebrities, so we played it completely cool by chanting his name and leaning on the horn and generally acting like a bunch of drunken idiots. It really was a thing of beauty.

The people at the Trump Tower must have lost our reservation because we somehow ended up at the Red Roof Inn at the corner of Ontario and St. Clair. Centrally located and just quite shitty enough that we would have to work extra hard to get kicked out. I have to say, the Red Roof never disappoints as a place to rest your head at the end of a long drive (if by "resting your head" you mean "falling down in a state of intoxicated unconsciousness").

B*Rad made quite an impression from the get-go by dumping a cooler bag full of water all over the lobby floor and then pulling a repeat performance less than five minutes later by dumping the cooler all over the "double bed" that he and I would be forced to share later. I put the term "double bed" in quotations because to say that it would be tight trying to fit two grown men into one of those things is like saying that Madonna has had "some sex" in her day. Understatement of the decade. The 10 gallons of water on the bed were graciously taken by Kayla (the wonderfully accomodating front desk girl from Sarnia) and her colleagues while the rest of us made room 1212 our binge drinking headquarters.

Ronnie, Rosco, and Gizzie showed up sometime after 9, and Meaghen (a longtime friend who now resides in Chicago) and her roomie swung by for a few choice beverages as well. In total, there were 15 of us in a hotel room that was never designed to hold more than two people. Cue the noise complaints.

I'm not sure who's idea it was to bring out the beer bong, but it was obviously only a matter of time before things got completely out of control. Foley will be the first to admit that he isn't exactly Frank the Tank where the funnel is concerned, but he made short work of it on this night. He also went against everything he believes in by slugging back gigantic mouthfuls from the bottle of JD that Meaghen was kind enough to bring along. When a guest across the hall politely asked us to keep it down, someone may or may not have inquired as to whether or not she was in a state of disrobement. I think it was safe to say that it was time to go.

We walked the streets of Chicago in a drunk and disorderly fashion and eventually ended up at Gino's East for some of Chicago's finest deep dish. The pie was absolutely phenomenal (my taste buds were swimming in booze by then, but I believed Gino's East to be comparable to Lou Malnati's), but the digs were even better: graffiti covering every inch of the place, and enough beer to impair a small army. Flats eventually showed up after his flight from Boston, but I really couldn't tell you what time it was at that point because the truth is, I was completely Ramsteined at that particular juncture. The only thing I know is that the mobile funnel eventually caught up with Dunner because he shut it down long before dinner was done. Skeeter was kind enough to take the entire leftover pizza back to the hotel room for us under the condition that we agree not to rip him for shutting it down so early.

The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. If you gave me a million dollars, I wouldn't be able to name the bars we ended up at. The first was gawd-awful and we got out of there as soon as we could. The second was more to our liking, and one of the very few things I can tell you is that Browner, Gizzie, and I had a rather lengthy and profound discussion with Meaghen's roommate about why her relationships don't ever seem to last more than two weeks. We offered her some wonderful insight ("you need to put out more"), which she mercifully forgot the instant she vomitted her brains out a few hours later. People started dropping like flies. The photos suggest that more transpired than I recall, but I only remember walking home and asking random people if they knew how to get to the Red Roof Inn.

Meaghen was kind enough to allow some of the boys to crash at her place, meaning that Browner and I actually got our own beds on this night. Both Gizzie and Ronnie chose the floor rather than their prospective bedfellows. Sneeze did his impression of a Gazelle in the dawn's early light. Nobody was arrested. By some form of divine intervention, we managed to not get thrown out of our hotel. And the Groom-to-Be drank himself to the precipice of blackout intoxication.

To quote the great Vin Scully: "Not bad for an opening act".

We woke up Saturday morning sometime after ten and began clearing the cobwebs. Coffee. Water. More beer. Whatever it takes to get you moving in the morning. With the Cubbies-Marlins game starting at 1:05, we figured we were in pretty good shape to get to the ballpark, score some tickets (we still needed 4 more bleachers), and find ourselves a good group of seats together out in the sunshine. This, of course, was before anyone actually thought to look at the tickets, at which point we realized that the game was slated for a 12:05 first pitch, giving us less than 45 minutes to get there. Indescribable stupidity on our part.

Those who needed tickets immediately jumped in cabs to get up to Wrigley, while the rest of us frantically searched the city for one of the two grown men on this planet who do not own a cell phone (we were looking for Dunner; Rosco is the other grown man without a phone). We eventually decided he must have already headed up to Wrigley so we jumped in a cab and were in the midst of pulling away as Dunner walked out of the hotel, wondering just what the hell all of the commotion was about. Our cabbie was blasting the Reggaeton as we pounded back Caesars, and as we pulled up to Wrigley Field, it became blatantly obvious that we here in Toronto had been missing out on the true baseball experience for the past 30 years. The streets were absolutely hopping mad with people, the bars overflowing with good times, and the unlicensed vendors selling every conceivable kind of semi-offensive T-Shirt ("Hard for Harden"; "St. Louis takes it in the Pujols"). We were able to score 4 more bleacher seats for $80 each, and proceeded to enter one of the great Cathedrals in all of America.

I have had the pleasure of visiting Wrigley on a number of occassions prior, but I have to say that stepping out of the concourse and taking in the beauty of that place, no matter how many times you do so, is something that you don't ever forget. There isn't a better shade of green than the grass at Wrigley, and the ivy on the outfield walls is one of the most unique features in all of sports. Those beautifully obstructing support columns holding up the upper deck on the infield make you feel like you've gone back in time. And there's no jumbotron telling fans when to clap and when to make noise - everyone just knows when to do so - and that Bill Veeck scoreboard in straightaway center is still manually operated... Sitting in those bleachers on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it's quite possible to believe that you're in heaven.

But of course, we weren't in heaven at all. We were at a bachelor party. And it just so happens that the bleachers at Wrigley might just be the perfect setting for a stag. Because the Old Style beer was cheap ($5.75) and flowing like nobody's business, and the lack of reserved seating combined with the fact that they oversell the bleachers by about 5,000 people give the place an atmosphere that is so much like that of a keg party that it's often easy to forget that there's a sporting event going on. Oh yeah. And there are plenty of girls there. I've been to a lot of sporting events in my day, but never before have I witnessed anything even remotely close to the number of attractive women at Saturday's game. It was absolutely mind boggling... Not that I was paying any attention. I think the Groom-to-Be put it best when he rhetorically asked: "(Aside from my darling future wife,) Is there anything hotter than a hot girl who likes baseball?".

In any event, we found ourselves a nice little spot to stand along the fence in right field (there was no way in hell we were getting 12 seats together), and proceeded to get completely obliterated. The sun was shining and it was about 90 degrees, so we obviously had to go shirts-off, which inevitably led to the customary biggest belly competition. Flats and Rosco decided they needed some alone time, so they squeezed into a pair of seats in left field, Rosco in his best Cubbies blue (Syracuse Orangemen T-shirt), and Flats in his Peterfile shades. Foley and Skeeter managed to score a couple of seats in center field, while the rest of us... Well, we just pretty much stood there and drank, making friends with every single person who passed us by.

In the third inning, Jeremy Hermidia hit a solo shot that landed about three rows in front of us. The drunk guy in the Sandberg jersey made a spectacular bare-handed catch, and then tossed the ball back into right field. Classic Wrigley. We were doing our best to bribe the security guards into scoring us some seats, but aside from one old overweight dude who longed for nothing more than to take his shirt off and rub himself up against us, we made little progress. The only open seats in the entire bleacher section were a couple of spots directly in front of us that were customarily reserved for the disabled, so B*Rad decided to take advantage of the little mishap he had back in 10th grade woodshop by taking a load off in a foldup chair in the handicap section. Unfortunately for B*Rad, however, the staff at Wrigley have a policy whereby it is acceptable to discriminate against those with certain disabilities, and informed him that he would have to move along, pinky or no pinky. Needless to say, the National Coalition for the Rights of those with 9 1/2 Digits have a lawsuit pending.

Round about the 7th inning, I vaguely remember being in the men's washroom and having the guy's urinal beside me overflowing with piss. This obviously resulted in urine being splashed all over my feet. The fact that I thought this to be the funniest thing in the world speaks to how drunk we were at that point. Charlie Weis was booed mightily when he was announced to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". When Mark Derosa was called out on a bang-bang play at first base in the 9th inning, Lou Piniella came out to argue the call and in the process checked off one of the boxes on my "things to witness before I die" list. Sweet Lou, obviously still steamed about our seeing him in a pink shirt the day before, came out guns ablazing, and within seconds was tossed from the game. Cue one of the great belly-bumps of all-time (video footage found HERE). Skeeter was apparently so upset with Sweet Lou's ejection that he decided to throw a bottle onto the field, resulting in an ejection of his own. Luckily for Skeeter, he was sufficiently intoxicated that he completely disobeyed security's orders and simply wandered over to our place along the back wall, where he teetered drunkenly for the rest of the afternoon.

Apparently the Cubbies lost in 12 innings, but that didn't really matter to us. We stumbled out of that place and into the afternoon glow of Sheffield Avenue. Harry Caray's was a no-brainer, and I can honestly say that sitting out on that patio with the sun setting majestically behind Wrigley Field was one of the supreme highlights of the weekend. The Miller Lites were flowing, Foley was getting hit on by a multitude of soon-to-be-wed women, Skeeter was asleep at the table, Ronnie was flexing with his shirt off, Dunner was showing off his world-class sunburn, Rosco was flipping the bird to anything with a flash, and The Peacock was getting his first warning for receiving manual stimulation on the dancefloor. Just a perfect way to end the afternoon.

Most of us took the L-train back to the Red Roof to shower up, and when one of the room keys wouldn't work, Browner decided that the hallway would be a perfectly suitable place for a nap. Shortly thereafter, it was back to room 1212 for a few Steel Reserves, a completely homoerotic no-holds-barred Greco Roman wrestling match, and our final warning for noise. It was 8:30 pm.

From the hotel it was off to Morton's of Chicago for the big shot steak dinner. Apparently one of the cabbie's took a car full of the lads to the wrong steakhouse, and when Ronnie asked for the bachelor party, they walked him into a private room with 15 dudes who very obviously were not the dudes Ronnie was expecting. As if on cue, Ronnie began his strip tease, to the shock, horror, and entertainment of everyone present. Classic stuff.

Which reminds me of why these big shot steakhouses are so great for a bunch of guys that have been drinking for 9 hours: they're charging you so much to eat there that you can basically be as drunk and disorderly as you like, and everyone just laughs it off. You wanna drop F-bombs and derisively chant a particular friend's girlfriend's name at the dinner table? By all means. You wanna bang on the table and sing the "horse's ass" song at the top of your lungs? The world is your oyster. Just be sure to treat you waiters with respect, and tip according to your $1,300 bill. Abide by those two rules, and you can basically do whatever the hell you want. (As a rule, I try to go out for a $1,300 dinner once every 30 years, so this one was right on schedule).

In any event, the meal at Morton's was one for the ages, and it was topped off nicely with some stogies that Skeeter had brought along. Nice touch. Ronnie enjoyed the meal and the cigars so much that he puked in the tradition of Davey Hogan directly thereafter, and Skeeter was so jacked up about the prospect of a blues bar that he fell asleep on the cab ride over.

Kingston Mines is a Chicago blues institution, and it did not disappoint on this night. There was a Samuel-L.-Jackson-esque bouncer with the biggest chip on his shoulder I've ever seen who emphatically informed us that we were NOT allowed to stand in the aisles, and this ordeal; combined with our experience at Wrigley where we were being constantly told that we couldn't stand in the aisle and we couldn't stand in the handicap section; had us wondering if there were anywhere in the city of Chicago that we were allowed to stand. Luckily, however, we were able to locate the one and only place in the entire city where standing is in fact permitted.

The headliners on this night were Vance Kelly and the BackStreet Candy Lickers (great name for a band), and they ripped through two massive sets of soul and funky blues classics. Sweet Home Chicago, Purple Rain, Got My Mojo Workin, a heartbreaking rendition of the Temptations I Wish it Would Rain... There were so many highlights from this part of the night that it's tough to know where to begin. Flats showing up in his striped shirt, tie, jeans, Cubbies lid (straight bill), and knapsack needs to be near the top of the list. When he started tipping his cap to the band after every song it sent the level of comedy into the stratosphere. Drinking beers with members of Barack Obama's political team was somewhat cool. Having Meaghen and her roomie make a triumphant return to the party scene was like Willis Reed returning to MSG. Having four drunken white guys dancing alone at the beginning of the set, only to be joined by a hundred of our closest friends within minutes was an indication that the Kingston Mines dance floor really is a haven for awkward white dancers. Having the Del-Griffith-like host announce in his fantastically gravelled monotone: "Remember, if you're going to be someone else tonight, don't be an asshole!" was a thing of beauty.

But without question, the highlight of the night came in the form of the customarily reserved Groom-to-Be. Never before has a dance floor been owned by one white man the way the dance floor at Kingston Mines was owned by Mike Foley. When asking resident dancing expert B*Rad what the secret to good white-guy dancing was, B*Rad simply implored him to "get low". And low he got. In fact, the dancing styles of Mike Foley on this night resembled a crab walk more than anything else, but it was a style so wholly unique and original that the ladies simply couldn't get enough of it. And the guys? They were best served asking Foley permission to be on his dance floor. That's how much he owned it.

When Vance Kelly and his BackStreet Candy Lickers finished their set, it was 3:30 am, and the Del-Griffith-like host got up to the mic and announced: "It's now 3:30, which means it is officially last call... For food." I have no idea what time they stop serving alcohol at Kingston Mines on a Saturday night, but we left at 4:15 and the bartenders were still working hard. B*Rad, Foley, Sneeze and myself jumped in a cab at that time, and the only reason I remember that foursome is because we got the security guard at the Red Roof to take a picture of us when we stumbled out of the cab. The Groom-to-Be has absolutely no recollection of this ride.

I can't speak for the others, but the room I shared with B*Rad, Browner, and Dinner was not a pleasant place to be that night. The term "symphony of screaming assholes" doesn't even come close to doing it justice.

The next morning we were all about as hungover as you might expect from 13 guys who had spent the previous 48 hours binge drinking. Some of the guys flew home. Eight of us piled back into the van. I wanted to kill myself.

In all, it was one of those legendary weekends that I'll probably be having drunken 'Nam-like flashbacks of for many years to come. Thanks to Meaghen for showing us around her newly adopted city. Thanks to Lou Piniella for showing us how to get thrown out of a game. Thanks to the nameless cabbie for bringing a comatose Skeeter back to his hotel in one piece on Saturday night. Thanks to the people at the Red Roof Inn for not throwing us out despite the fact that we should have been tossed ten times over. Thanks to all of the boys who put in the effort to make the trip down, particularly Flats, Ronnie, Rosco, and Gizzie for flying. And thanks most of all to Mike Foley for being the kind of guy that the above-mentioned would be willing to come all the way to Chicago for.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bill Murray

The Second City takes top billing this weekend, as the staff here at SeanMcCallum.com will be hitting up the great city of Chicago for my buddy Foley's stag. It promises to be one of those legendary, debauchery-filled weekends with a game plan that includes blues bars and bleacher seats, and a roll-call of attendees that reads like a murderer's row of noteworthy dotcomrades.

To honour all that the City of Chicago has to offer, we'll be paying tribute to a different famous son (of which there are almost too many to count) everyday here on the blog.

No mention of Chicago would be complete without a tip-of-the-cap to all of the great comedic actors who have cut their teeth in the home of The Second City. The list reads like a who's who of the comedy world: John Belushi, Edgar Bergen, Steve Carell, John and Joan Cusak, John Favreau, Tina Fey, Dennis Farina, Chris Farley, Ron Livingston, Bernie Mac, William H. Macy, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Jeremy Piven, John C. Riley, Vince Vaughn, Robin Williams... Hell, even Laurence Tureaud (that's Mr. T to you, sucka!) is from Chicago.

But for my money, nobody better encapsulates the quality of Thespian talent that the City of Chicago has been able to consistently churn out, than Bill Murray.

From his early days on SNL and his roles in the decade-defining classics Meatballs, Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters, it was pretty obvious that we were witnessing something special. Bill Murray has always been one of those actors that has an undeniable charisma, and that inexplicable je ne said quoi whereby you just can't help but to never take your eyes off of him. The dry wit and dead-panned honesty for which he is now known began to reveal itself in the likes of Groundhog Day (one of my all-time top-10 movies), Ed Wood, and The Royal Tenenbaums, and his performance in Lost in Translation is the stuff of which legends are made.

With Bill Murray, you never get the sense that he's acting. It's as if every role was written specifically for Bill Murray to play himself. I don't know if there is a better compliment that can be bestowed upon an actor.

A lifelong Cubbies fan, a die-hard golfer, and the least "Hollywood" of all Hollywood celebrities; if we could only all be just a little bit more like Bill Murray, the world would be an infinitely better place.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Michael Jordan

The Second City takes top billing this weekend, as the staff here at SeanMcCallum.com will be hitting up the great city of Chicago for my buddy Foley's stag. It promises to be one of those legendary, debauchery-filled weekends with a game plan that includes blues bars and bleacher seats, and a roll-call of attendees that reads like a murderer's row of noteworthy dotcomrades.

To honour all that the City of Chicago has to offer, we'll be paying tribute to a different famous son (of which there are almost too many to count) everyday here on the blog.

There are simply no words to describe the way Michael Jordan played the game of basketball. I know this first hand, because I've been staring at my computer screen for two hours trying to find somewhere to begin.

Before he arrived in the NBA, in 1984, nobody had ever dreamed of playing the game of basketball the way he did. Ever since, that's all anybody has ever done. But nobody has come close.

I find it utterly laughable when people compare any one of a number of the players of today to the player that Michael Jordan was. How ridiculous does it sound when you think back to the time (a mere 8 years ago) when people were openly wondering whether Vince Carter was the next Michael Jordan? (I'm telling you, somebody is going to come across that last sentance one day and think that I'm on crack for writing it, but it's true. People were actually comparing Vince Carter to Michael Jordan!)

Even up until game 4 of the 2008 NBA finals, people were openly wondering whether or not Kobe Bryant (Kobe Bryant?) was at the same level as His Airness. Luckily for everyone involved, however, Kobe's team went on to blow a 24-point lead in a pivotal finals game (something that MJ, in a trillion kajillion years, would NEVER let happen to one of his teams), thereby saving everyone the embarassment of perpetuating one of the most absurd sporting "debates" in the history of mankind.

Because the fact is: there will never be another Michael Jordan. He was a once in a lifetime talent. Not only was he the most explosive and gracefully gifted scorer the game has ever seen (to this day, I continue to be awestruck by his dunk off of Pippen's missed free throw), but he was also the best defender of his generation. The awards he recieved in his playing days - Rookie of the Year; Five-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA champion; Six-time NBA Finals MVP; Ten-time All-NBA First Team; Nine time NBA All-Defensive First Team; Defensive Player of the Year; 14-time NBA All-Star; Three-time NBA All-Star MVP; 50th Anniversary All-Time Team; Ten scoring titles - don't even begin to do him justice as a player. Because what couldn't be quantified about Michael Jordan was how badly he wanted to win.

There's a great story about MJ's competitive streak (and his love for gambling) that I'll quote from one of the Sports Guy's pieces:

Back before NBA teams had grasped the rejuvenating power of chartered airplanes, the Bulls were waiting for their luggage in Portland when Jordan slapped a hunny on the conveyor belt: I bet you my bags come out first. Jumping on the incredibly favorable odds, nine teammates happily accepted the wager. Sure enough, Jordan's bags led the rollout. He cackled with delight as he collected everyone's money.

What none of the suckers knew, and what MJ presumably never told them, was that he had bribed a baggage handler to help him out. He didn't pocket much (a few hundred bucks), and considering his net worth hovered around nine figures at the time, it's safe to say he didn't need the extra cash. But that didn't matter. There was a chance at an easy score, and he took it.

No sport has ever seen a competitor like Michael Jordan. He was blessed/cursed with a level of competitiveness that couldn't even begin to be described, let alone measured or matched. He took that aforementioned money from his teammates because he wanted to beat them, and because he wanted to emphatically reinforce that he was and always would be unbeatable, in whatever they wanted to compete in. And he was the same way on the court.

From the beginning of his career (hitting the game winning shot as a freshman in the 1982 NCAA Championship Game), MJ was a cold-blooded killer on the court, relishing the opportunity of ripping his opposition's heart out (exhibit A: this dunk over Patrick Ewing). A Michael Jordan led team was almost impossible to beat in the playoffs becuase he simply wouldn't let it happen. And when he decided that he was taking over a game, there was simply no stopping him.

Perhaps the best examples of his desire to utterly dominate were in 1993 and 1997, when the media essentially grew sick of awarding Jordan the regular season MVP (he very obviously deserved it both years), and instead handed the award to Charles Barkley ('93) and Karl Malone ('97). In both years, Jordan wound up meeting the regular season MVPs in the finals, and in both cases, Jordan absolutely eviscerated the so-called MVPs and their teams (averaging 41.0 ppg in '93; the game winner and the "flu game" in 1997).

In all of my years of watching sports, I have never seen an athlete dominate the way Michael Jordan did while playing for the Chicago Bulls. And to be honest, I don't think I'll live to see anyone ever come close.

PS - I spent hours watching countless MJ YouTube clips, and there doesn't seem to be a definitive montage of the best Jordan highlights (at least not with the accompanying play-by-play calls and crowd reaction that I consider to be essential). Somebody definitely needs to get on this. In the meantime, feel free to click on the hyperlinked text, as you will be treated to a variety of highlight segments that are only the tip of the iceberg where Jordan's career is concerned.)

PPS - To read about the one time you didn't want to be like Mike, click HERE and scroll down to "The Best Random Celebrity Moment Ever".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Al Capone

The Second City takes top billing this weekend, as the staff here at SeanMcCallum.com will be hitting up the great city of Chicago for my buddy Foley's stag. It promises to be one of those legendary, debauchery-filled weekends with a game plan that includes blues bars and bleacher seats, and a roll-call of attendees that reads like a murderer's row of noteworthy dotcomrades.

To honour all that the City of Chicago has to offer, we'll be paying tribute to a different famous son (of which there are almost too many to count) everyday here on the blog.

Al Capone was the most popular man in Chicago for the duration of the 1920's. He did more to expand the Chicago vice market than anyone in history, controlling the city's speakeasies, bookie joints, gambling houses, brothels, pony tracks, nightclubs, distilleries, and breweries for the latter half of the decade, earning a reported $100,000,000 a year in the process. He smoked cigars and was an unconscionable womanizer. He showed a wanton and almost gleeful disregard for the law, and his mere "responding to the will of the people" almost single-handedly brought an end to Prohibition. He was simultaneously revered and reviled in the city he owned, and to top it all off, he died of Syphilis while serving time in jail.

If Al Capone isn't the quintessential mascot for a bachelor party in Chicago, I don't know who is.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Muddy Waters

The Second City takes top billing this weekend, as the staff here at SeanMcCallum.com will be hitting up the great city of Chicago for my buddy Foley's stag. It promises to be one of those legendary, debauchery-filled weekends with a game plan that includes blues bars and bleacher seats, and a roll-call of attendees that reads like a murderer's row of noteworthy dotcomrades.

To honour all that the City of Chicago has to offer, we'll be paying tribute to a different famous son (of which there are almost too many to count) everyday here on the blog.

Despite the fact that he was born McKinley Morganfield in Issaquena County, Mississippi, nobody better captures the Chicago electric blues sound than Muddy Waters. I've often contended that if you wanted to show someone the best that American culture had to offer and you only had a day in which to do it, you'd be best served sitting that person in the bleachers at Wrigley field for a Saturday afternoon game with a dog and a beer, and then taking them to go see Muddy Waters in a smoky blues club that night.

Not only is Muddy Waters "the father of Chicago Blues"; in so many ways, he is the blues. The Mannish Boy beat is to blues music what the Bo Diddley beat is to Rock and Roll (mainly, the heartbeat), and nobody did more to bring American Blues music to the mainstream than Muddy (with his staggering influence on British rockers, who in turn brought their brand of blues music back to the U.S.). The scope of his influence is no more obvious than in the fact that the Rolling Stones took their name from one of his songs.

There would be no Led Zeppelin without Muddy Waters. There would be no Eric Clapton without Muddy Waters. Hell, even the wedding reception air-guitar standard You Shook Me All Night Long is a title AC/DC borrowed from Muddy's You Shook Me. Muddy Waters was the first true rock star (fast cars, hot girls, slick clothes, killer pompadour), and he wasn't even playing what we conventionally refer to as rock and roll.

Long Distance Call; particularly the version found on Muddy & The Wolf; is one of the all-time infedelity epilogues ("When I picked up my receiver, the party said there's another mule kickin' in your stall"), and you should not be at all surprised if you find yourself at some point in your life sitting in my living room with a bottle of Bourbon between us and Muddy's The Real Folk Blues spinning on the turntable at 4:30 in the morning. The man and his music are easily worthy of that distinction, and then some.

Willie Dixon has famously said: "The blues is the roots; everything else is the fruits".

By no means was Muddy Waters the first blues musician; but he was certainly the best.

Postscript: It should be noted that Muddy Waters beat out the following Chicago-based musicians for the coveted distinction of headlining this entry:

- Sam Cooke (if I could have anyone's voice, dead or alive, it would be Sam Cooke's)
- Howlin' Wolfe
- Curtis Mayfield
- Bo Diddley
- Ray Manzarek
- Willie Dixon
- Benny Goodman
- Tom Morello
- Koko Taylor
- Buddy Guy
- Patti Smith
- R. Kelly
- Herbie Hancock
- Billy Corgan
- Kanye West

Monday Afternoon Diversion

I'm not sure if it's just me, but it seems like everyone in the world is on vacation this week. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was at a wedding Friday night, listening to a countless array of teachers going on endlessly about how they would be doing nothing but sitting on the dock with their feet up for the next 6 weeks, but I really feel like I'm one of the few people who are actually quasi-working today. Maybe my mom was right all of those years she was trying to "convince me" (using a tactic somewhere between encouragement and extortion) to become a teacher.

In any event, if you are one of the unfortunate souls trapped in the office this week, here is some of the best stuff I've come across lately to help you through the day:

Rough Crossings: The Cutting of Raymond Carver

This is a fascinating piece taken from the December 24th edition of the New Yorker, describing the relationship between the short story savant Raymond Carver and his longtime editor, Gordon Lish.

If you're a struggling writer, this might be one of the most comforting/terrifying pieces you'll ever come across. Comforting in the sense that an editor can chop and slash your work into something altogether different from what you had originally intended, thereby insuring that the work gets published where it otherwise would have never had a chance. I'm sure that in most cases, the piece will ultimately be stronger for having undergone such scrupulous amputations, but I can tell you that having met with an editor for the first time in my life on Thursday, the prospect of having certain characters and philosophical pillars murdered; all in the name of brevity; is nothing short of terrifying.

To quote Jasper Rees: "The cutting room is a cruel place, where writing that may have cost blood to commit to paper is kneaded and pummelled like so much insensate clay."

To see exactly what an editor can do to a particular work, check out Lish's edit of Carver's "Beginners" (Lish even changed the title to "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"), and Carver's near suicidal correspondences with Lish in the aftermath. Does the end (Lish's edits improving the piece dramatically) justify the means (driving Carver to the brink of insanity)?

I guess it all depends on how badly you want the world to see your work. Because you can say exactly what you want to say and ignore the input of anyone else (who may very well have a far greater grasp of exactly what your work needs), but insodoing you risk the very real possibility of having that piece remain in your desk drawer forever, and you'll wind up living like Paul Giamatti's character from Sideways, with everybody always asking him about the progress of his novel that is doing little more than sitting in two boxes in the backseat of his car.

Is this a long-winded way of saying that the manuscript I've been working on for the past four years will be undergoing a slashing reminiscent of that guy chained to the pipe in SAW? Something like that. Let's move on.

Wicked 'wiches

This is Now Magazine's guide to the best Sandwiches in Toronto. An indespensible tool if you call the 416 home. I can personally vouche for the Wild Sockeye Salmon (The Fish Store, College and Grace), The Pemeal Bacon (St. Lawrence Market), TLamb Saytay (New York Subway, Queen and Ryerson), and The Italian Veal (California Sandwiches, Claremont and Treford), all of which are top shelf. I have to say, I'm intrigued by the Catfish and Shrimp Po' Boy, and the Smoked Meat (at the Monarch Tavern? Who knew?).

For those of you with a taste for the spicier side, check out Now's first annual survey of T.O.'s finest jerk chicken joints, aptly titled: The Jerk Off.

An Island in the Wind, by Elizabeth Kolber

A look at one Danish community's attempt to become an entirely sustainable island, and the prospect of living in a 2,000 Watt society. The verdict? It's a lot easier than you think.

Green Roof Sighting in Collingwood

One of the most poorly written articles I've come across in years. Misinformation, quoting the wrong people, facts butchered left, right, and centre... The only thing uglier is the picture of that dude at the top of the ladder.

Your Weekly Reminder of who was The Greatest Band in the History of Rock and Roll:

The E Street Band, circa 1978.

John "Peanuts" O'Flaherty.

They hockey world lost a legend last week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The National Kids Cancer Ride

(Warning: the above clip may cause the air around your office to get a little dusty as you sit at your computer this morning)

I received an email from my good friend Timmy D the other day. Besides being a longtime standout tender in the OTHL, Timmy has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Nothing speaks to this better than the fact that he spent the first part of this summer volunteering with the Cancer Ride, driving the bus behind all of those crazy cyclists as they pedaled their way from sea to shining sea, spreading love, happiness, and awareness of the critical funding needed for child cancer research.

I had a good buddy of mine die of cancer in the 6th grade (RIP Jean Marc Knapp), so this is a cause that I hold near and dear to my heart. But I really don't think that anyone could put it better than Timmy himself:

I just finished up the most awesome journey that I must say has been life changing for me! I volunteered for the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride where 50 cyclist's rode from Vancouver to Halifax in 19 days to raise money and awareness for kids who are afflicted with childhood cancer.

Without a word of exaggeration, this is without a doubt the best thing I've ever done or been involved with in my life. I lost a nephew a very long time ago to leukemia (he would've been 23 in October...I KNOW he would've been an OTHL'er...no doubt in my mind) and this was a way for me to give back and honour his memory.

I'd also like to impose upon you if possible. A lot of people read your blog and I would be indebted to you if you would check out this link (The Final Word) especially the two You-Tube clips and if you feel it's worthy of being posted on your blog, well that would be great! Yes we are still looking for donations because we haven't reached our goal of 1.5 million as of yet, but just as important we need to continue to create awareness for the cause and we do need to begin to recruit volunteers for next year. Take it from me, it is once in a lifetime experience and as an added bonus you get to see this great country at its absolute best!


What a great story, a worthy cause, and an incredible way to raise money.

In so many ways, their story reminds me of the story of the most heroic Canadian who ever lived: Terry Fox.

Fixing the MLB All-Star Game

My buddy Browner emailed me this afternoon with an idea on how to prevent the calamity that nearly came to fruition in last night's marathon all star game at Yankee Stadium. That near calamity was the idea of having yet another midsummer classic end in a tie, resulting in not simply another PR disaster, but throwing all of the MLB playoffs into chaos as well.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what all of this "running out of pitchers" and "having to declare the game a tie" talk, here is a brief summary:

Major League Baseball cannot seem to settle anything these days.

In a bizarre twist to a time-honoured baseball tradition, troubled commissioner Bud Selig suffered yet another humiliating indignity as he was forced to proclaim Tuesday's 73rd MLB All-Star Game a 7-7, 11-inning tie.

The reason?

Both teams ran out of pitchers.

Every team carries a certain number of pitchers, and once a pitcher has been removed from the game, he is not allowed to re-enter. It may be unbelievable to the casual fan, but an all-star roster has as many pitchers as your regular everyday team. And even though no Major League team has run out of pitchers... well... ever (not even when they play two games in the same day!); the managers of the American and National League all-star teams have managed to run out of pitchers twice in the past eight games!!! It's true. Even though they made it so that the all-star game actually counts for something now(home-field advantage in the World Series); a rule that was implemented specifically to ensure that such a debacle never happens again; the same thing almost happened again last night.

And don't get me wrong: watching J.D. Drew and David Wright pitching in the 17th inning of a game that determines home-field advantage in the World Series would have been great for comedy's sake, but I'm not sure how good it would have been for the game of baseball.

(For the record, I stayed up until 1:40 last night, watching every single pitch. It was an unbelievable game, and certainly the best all-star game I can remember having ever watched. And the fact that the game was on the verge of being called a tie yet again by the commissioner gave it a whole new level of intrigue. But that doesn't change the fact that it shouldn't have gotten to the point where the managers were breaking out in acne because they didn't have any other pitchers to throw out there. That should never be happening in any sporting event, let alone in the National Pastime's showcase event at the most famous stadium in the world.)

In any event, my buddy Browner's idea wasn't a bad one. He suggested that each team select 3 future stars pitchers for each team. Each future star would get to take part in the full festivities, but only pitch if the game went to extra innings, explaining that the experience would be good for the young (likely unmarried and/or childless) players, and would in turn solve all of these problems for the managers.

Like I said. Not a bad idea at all, and probably a hell of a lot more likely to happen than my suggestion. Because my suggestion is as follows: have managers stop managing the game like it's a mosquito league consolation championship and all of the 8-year old players will have their feelings hurt if every single last one of them doesn't get a chance to play.

Seriously. What the fuck is up with that?

Since when did a competitive event; particularly one that counts for so much (according to the Boston Globe, MLB teams have a 53% chance of winning when playing at home, and playing at home is one of the most significant advantages in professional sports); become more about getting everyone involved and not hurting anyone's feelings than actually competing and... here's a novel idea: winning?

But that's the way managers in the all-star game have taken to managing in the past twenty years. And the individual managers aren't necessarily to blame for this one. I equate it to the ridiculous trend modern athletes have set when it comes to bringing their toddler children into the dressing room after a championship win (the biggest atrocity against sports since they banned streaking). I'm of the belief that no manager actually wants to manage the game so that every player gets his equal share of playing time (in the same way that most players probably don't actually want their 2 year old daughter in the room with them as they're getting shitfaced and spraying champagne everywhere); but when all of the other managers are doing it, his hand is almost being forced, and he has to follow suit or he'll look like the biggest asshole this side of Charles Comiskey.

Take last night's game for example. It was absolutely indefensible to keep Cliff Lee in for only 2 innings throwing the stuff that he was, and then to have your next four starting pitchers go an inning each (including Harry Leroy III, who threw a total of 9 pitches). The AL deserved to forfeit the game after that debacle of mismanagement. I don't see any logical explanation for why you wouldn't ride your starter for four or five innings, bring in Doc for the next three, and then go to your closers when it comes time to close the game. If the game happens to go to extra innings, you have three other starters (Saunders, Santana, and Duchscherer) itching to get on the bump.

I honestly thought that when they decided to make the game count back in 2003, that the managers would start managing it like a game that actually counted. But I think in light of last night's performance, they obviously don't. Your best players; by definition, the players that give you the best chance to win the game; should be playing at least 7 innings, and I'm all in favour of keeping your elite stars in for the entire game (there's no way that game goes 15 innings if A-Rod, Ichiro, and Manny are in the lineup).

It's just a complete insult to the history of the game to have it managed the way it is these days.

Remember when Pete Rose bowled over Ray Fosse to win the all-star game for the NL? Check the box score from that game. The starting pitchers both went 3 innings each. The guys who came in after them went 2 and 3 innings respectively. Carl Yastrzemski won the MVP. He had 6 at bats. I don't think it's any coincidence, then, that that particular game is universally lauded as the greatest all-star game every played. Because it was a game just like every other game, with the players playing to win, and more importantly: with the managers managing to win.

I think Charlie Hustle's quote about his collision with Ray Fosse on that fateful night in 1970 sums it up the best:

"I just want to get to that plate as quickly as I can. Besides, nobody told me they changed it to girls’ softball between third and home."

Somebody needs to tell these managers that the MLB All-Star game hasn't been changed to girls' softball... At least not yet.

Heeeeere Fishy Fishy Fishy

Is there any way to explain this clip? If so, I would love for someone to chime in, because I'm at a loss. Also, is there an equivalent to this in the real world? I mean, is this what it's like for Derek Jeter with women when he walks into a bar?

I remember seeing a Sesame Street episode when I was a kid that dealt with this subject matter (the fishing, not DJ's libido), but being ever the skeptic; even at the age of 5; I just went ahead and assumed it was all make believe. Who knew that I'd be shown the error of my ways some 25 years after the fact.

Perhaps most important of all, the validating of the Bert and Ernie Fishing sketch raises an intriguing philosophical question: because if the fishing sketch is true, who's to say that Aloysius Snuffleupagus wasn't real either?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Case You Missed It...

Just in case you missed the show put on by Josh Hamilton last night, this is the most ridiculous display of power I've ever seen. That crowd is literally gasping in disbelief by homerun #17. I normally could care less about the HR derby, but that was something altogether different.

I know there's an easy joke out there about how Josh Hamilton is proof that heroin and crack really do make you awesome at everything in life, but I'm going to take the high road instead...

Great Sign Showdown, Part II

As a self-proclaimed cunning linguist, there are few things in this world that give me as much pleasure as a well crafted turn of phrase, particularly when appearing in public with the intent of entertaining and (more importantly) offending. (In case you missed the first edition, it can be seen HERE). Here are some of the best I've come across in recent months:





Cock Polishing Services. That can't be a real business, can it? I mean, I don't have all that much that needs polishing, but I'd be willing to take in my bronzed rooster just to see where things go from there.

I Have a Small Penis. Lord knows I'm pretty tight with a buck when it comes to guys on the street who are obviously capable of working for a living, but I think the laugh derived from this downtrodden sufferer of the Irish curse would be well worth some spare change. The best homeless man's business plan since this ingenius idea.

He's Gay. Obviously, taking a shot at this guy is more than fair game. I'm not entirely sure why these two dudes were wearing shirts that read "He's" and "Gay", but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. (By the way, the sign which reads: "Fags Die God Laughs" is so ridiculously bigoted and archaic that it might actually trump what the two dudes pulled off in terms of comedy).

Iron My Shirt. Hoisting this at a feminist rally has to be considered a radical act... in the same way that castrating a guy in a parking lot with a Coke bottle is a radical act.

But I think you have to give the nod to Erin Andrews Loves the Hardwood. For those of you who don't know Erin Andrews, she is the former University of Florida cheerleader turned sideline reporter who was voted America's Sexiest Sportscaster by Playboy Magazine in 2007. I have no idea how nobody thought of this sign before, but it is sheer brilliance. As is almost always the case, the most simple and obvious ideas make for perfection.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Ever-Increasing Price of Oil

I was talking to my sister on the phone Saturday afternoon. She had tickets to the Kenny Chesney concert, but her car was in the shop, so she was trying to figure out a way to get from her place in Tusculum to LP Field for the show (about 10 miles). I jokingly suggested that she should just hop on the streetcar and take it downtown, knowing full well that an efficient light rail system is about the last thing you'd ever see in Nashville, despite the fact that the city is the perfect size for dedicated streetcar lines (it turns out the MTA has buses, but my sis says that nobody seems to know anything about them).

This discussion about Nashville's lack of an adequate public transportation system invariably led to my asking the question: "What are people in Nashville going to do when gas gets to $10 a gallon?". My sister gasped at the thought, and after a few moments, asked: "You don't think gas will ever be $10 a gallon, do you?"

By all rights, my sister is one of the most sensible and intelligent people I know. And yet the following idea had never really occurred to her:

The price of oil is never coming down.

(Of course, as I write this, the price of oil has dropped $9 in the past two days. But I'm talking about the long range trend, looking at prices on a monthly chart)

Which got me to thinking that maybe that particular fact isn't as obvious as I assumed it was. The result of which is this entry. I am by no means a financial analyst, but you really don't need an economics or world politics degree to understand the way things are shaking out. I read a lot. I think a lot. And I'd like to think that I have a certain capacity for common sense. So we'll just go ahead and call this the seanmccallum.com Coles Notes guide to the ever-increasing price of oil.

(Editor's Note: As is the case with all Coles Notes guides, this is little more than a brief overview, and I urge you to do some of your own research and fact-finding)

Oil is a Finite Resource

I think we can all safely agree that there is a finite quantity of crude oil on this planet. Accepting this reality means that we have to accept that, at some juncture, we will one day reach the point where production peaks. At that point, production will begin to decline. The more oil we use, the less oil there is to be discovered and refined, meaning that every barrel being used is inevitably bringing us closer to the unavoidable conclusion whereby the entire world's supply has been depleted. (This "theory" is often referred to as The Hubbert Peak, or Peak Oil, although I fail to grasp how this is still considered a theory and not widely accepted as fact. If you only have a limited supply of something, there will come a point where you have used up more than half of it, and that supply will be in decline.)

It literally takes millions of years for the earth to naturally create fossil fuels (fossil fuels are created by the compression and heating of organic materials {ie, fossils} over a period of time that is almost impossible for the human mind to fathom), so rest assured, we aren't getting a fresh supply any time soon.

Many believe that we have already reached that peak. The recent spike in the price of oil would certainly support that notion. But the truth is, it doesn't really matter if we're past the peak, if we're standing at its precipice, or whether or not that peak is looming just over the horizon. The only thing you need to know is that there will come a time when there is less and less oil to be refined, and the oil that can be refined will become more and more difficult (ie, expensive) to get our hands on.

I believe that we can look to the Athabasca Tar Sands as exhibit A. Where we used to pump crude out of the ground for next to nothing, it now takes approximately 1 barrel's worth of oil in energy consumption for every 4 barrels of oil taken from the Tar Sands (for every barrel of synthetic crude, 4,500 lbs of tar sands have to be dug up and separated). From this point forward, that's about as good as it will get.

Supply and Demand

It is the fundamental model of economics. As noted above, the supply of crude will be declining in the coming years. When combined with the fact that it is becoming more and more costly to get our hands on that remaining oil, there is little doubt that we will continue to see an increase in the price of oil.

The demand for oil is increasing every day. China and India are experiencing a 21st century version of the industrial revolution that the Western world has been basking in for the past 150 years. The major difference between our revolution and theirs is that between China and India, their oil-fuelled industry will be revolutionizing close to 2.5 Billion people. That's a lot of people. And that's a lot of oil.

To give you an example of the kind of demand we can expect from these developing nations, you need look no further than automobile ownership. In China in 2006, there were 24 automobiles for every 1,000 citizens. By contrast, the U.S. has 765 vehicles for every 1,000 people. It is estimated that Chinese car ownership will increase 67% (up to 40 cars / 1,000) by the year 2010. Again, a massive increase in demand. And for these developing countries, it is just the beginning.

Political Unrest

Hey, did you know that the U.S. is at war with an oil-rich nation?

Get used to it, because this fact probably won't be changing in our lifetime. At the earth summit in Rio de Janiero in 1992, George H. Bush declared that the American way of life was not negotiable. Fast forward 16 years to a time in which the U.S. is at war with a country for no other discernible reason than it's place in the world's oil supply chain, and you begin to understand just how non-negotiable that way of life is.

Because more than anything else, the American Dream is dependent upon the supply of cheap oil. Oil is the steroids of the suburbs. Everything about the suburban lifestyle; the sprawl where you have to drive to get anywhere; drive-through fast food arriving in disposable containers; the way our food is grown all over the world and delivered to the big box grocery stores that can only be reached by SUV; the complete and utter lack of any dependable form of public transportation... All of these things come crumbling down without oil. Which is precisely why countries are willing to send their children halfway across the world to die for it.

After the present war with Iraq is "over", there is little doubt that the U.S. will shift its strategic attentions to Iran. The result will undoubtedly be a massive increase in the price of oil. We can expect this pattern to repeat itself until long after we leave this place.

(In his exit speech on January 17, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people to guard against the implementation of a military-industrial complex. Without going into too much detail, a military industrial complex can be defined as: “an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs.” It essentially means that a country's economy is dependent upon the perpetuation of war. This is yet another unannounced reason for the U.S. to begin engaging Iran.)

What does this all mean?

A perpetual increase in the price of oil will invariably change the way we live. And I am of the opinion that this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I don't need to get into details about the various ways we will be forced to downsize our lifestyle (an excercise that is about 50 years overdue), but rest assured, this downsizing will be inescapable. Smaller houses. Smaller cars. Smaller vacations...

But it isn't all doom and gloom. The $200 barrel world will force us to make many of the changes we should have made decades ago. We will begin to carpool; not because we feel like we should, but because we literally won't be able to afford not to. We will waste less. Again, not because it's the right thing to do (we've known it to be the right thing to do since the beginning of time), but because it will be the only way.

Our communities will evolve. We will see better public transportation in cities because there will be no other choice (we may even see a dedicated streetcar line running up and down the Nolensville Pike in Nashville one day). We will have grocery stores within walking distance because that is how people will choose to get around. People will ride bicycles with baskets on the front of them. It will be glorious.

Most importantly, we as a society will adapt. We will develop new and existing technologies that will allow us to exist in a world where we are no longer dependent upon oil. We will have houses with geothermal heating and an R-value of 30. We will use sustainable energy sources (wind, solar, water...) to power our homes and cities. And we will have solar-electric automobiles to get from point A to point B (how these vehicles have not been mass-produced and marketed by the auto industry is utterly indefensible).

Oh yeah. And there will be infinitely less pollution, because there won't be as much fuel to burn. We can't forget that particular benefit.

So have no fear. Because despite the fact that the world is changing, in many ways, it will be changing for the better.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Unfortunate Auto-Correction

The American Family Association has a strict policy to replace the word "gay" with "homosexual" on its news website - but it created a problem with sprinter Tyson Gay.

The association's computer's auto-corrected the US sprint star's name to Tyson Homosexual.

Here's an extract of an Associated Press story as it ran on the association's OneNewsNow Christian news website:

Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has. His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind.

Here's what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

"It means a lot to me," the 25-year-old Homosexual said. "I'm glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me."

The embarassing blunder has since been fixed, although it's still visible on the site's search page.

Somewhere out there, Haywood Jablomie, Ivan Joyderpuss, and Wilma Fingerdu are nodding their heads knowingly...

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July Diversion

A little distraction for any of our American readers with the misfortune of being stranded at work on this 4th of July.

One Angry Man, by Peter J. Boyer

A fascinating piece taken from last week's New Yorker, documenting the life and work of Keith Olbermann. One of my favourite passages concerns a tirade Olbermann wrote condemning the presidency of George W. Bush:

Phil Griffin, the senior vice-president in charge of MSNBC (“Phil thinks he’s my boss,” Olbermann says), raised the matter of tone. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by telling the President of the United States to “shut the hell up”?

“Because I can’t say, ‘Shut the fuck up,’ that’s why, frankly,” Olbermann responded. The line stayed in.

The Book of Revelation

A great column from the National Post (June 20) in which relatively famous and important Canadians talk about the book that changed them in some more or less profound way. Everyone from Kevin Newman and Shelagh Rogers to Bob Rae and Torquil Cambell weigh in. There are few things better than a great book that has come highly recommended, and if you know and respect any of these people, there just might be something in there for you.

If I had to name my book of revelation, it would probably (and somewhat inexplicably) be The Body, by Stephen King (as expounded upon in this piece). I say 'somewhat inexplicably' because The Body is the only thing by Stephen King that I've ever managed to finish.

Thanks to Flats for the link.

Hot Chicks with Douchebags

My buddy D-Hibb sent me the link to this site a few weeks back, saying that he simply couldn't get enough of it.

The highlight for me came a few days later when the site posted this entry, poking fun at the respectable looking lad standing there with Topanga from Boy Meets World. In one of the classic twists of internet irony, that respectable looking lad was none other than Barstool's own El Presidente. His self-depricating response is sheer hilarity.

Life as a Loser #1: Intro to Life as a Loser, by Will Leitch

Just in case you didn't read it in last week's entry regarding the Will Leitch roast. This is hands down one of the best things I've come across in a long time. Absolutely hilarious and heart breaking all at once.

Nobody said that getting dumped only hours before going on a game show would be easy, but this is gut-wrenching. At least the new editor at New York Magazine can laugh about it now... sort of...

Springsteen 4th of July Song Showdown:

4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)


Independence Day

Absolutely love both tracks. Trying to decide between the two would be like asking a mother to choose which one of her children she likes best. Simply impossible.

I have to say, the old footage of Asbury Park circa 1988 brings me back to a good time in my life, as the first time I ever stepped foot on the sacred Jersey Shore was that same year. And then back in 2005, my brother Ronnie, my buddy Dunner, and I made one of those male bonding pilgrimages to Asbury Park that looked eerily similar to what these guys did. Good times all around.

Happy 4th of July to all of our American friends!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Binge Drinking in Moderation

This past weekend was one of those quasi-long weekends in Canada where the statutory holiday (Canada Day) fell on a Tuesday. Half the people I know took the Monday off and voluntarily worked Tuesday, forgoing the ultra-Canadian tradition of throwing horseshoes and sitting out in the sun all day while listening to Neil Young and the Tragically Hip; while the other half kind of coasted through Monday with a half-assed effort, only to find themselves facing a Canada Day celebration curtailed by the fact that they knew they would have to get up for work the following morning.

The result of this half-assed long weekend, as you might well expect, was a half-assed binge drinking effort on most everyone's part. As I look back on it, there were very few moments I didn't have a beer in my hand, yet with the exception of a very late and extremely intoxicated Friday night, I went the duration of the long weekend without getting drunk. Somewhere out there, Terry and The Deaner are pouring out a Pilsener for my youth.

Just to recap: Attended a city wedding Saturday night with an endless supply of Stella Artois, and was able to acquire little more than a decent buzz before climbing aboard the streetcar and heading for home. An all around pathetic display at the open bar.

Drank a few Steam Whistles in the afternoon on Sunday before engaging in a sad display of schoolyard basketball, sweating just enough to completely offset the beer drinking, and then headed out to see the world's most overqualified cover band at Scruffy Murphy's. The band, comprised of many members of the now-defunct Staggered Crossing, was absolutely out of this world, often switching instruments mid-song, making every single track sound like one of their own, and absolutely rocking the shit out of that place. The versions they did of Petty's I Won't Back Down, Cocker's Feelin' Alright (originally done by Traffic), and the Not Fade Away/Bo Diddley medley were unreal. Let me tell you, if you were ever looking for a place to party on a Sunday night, Scruffy Murphy's has to be hands down one of your best options. Inexplicably, I had decided to drive that night. After three beverages, the self-inflicted fun police stepped in and I shut it down. I am an idiot.

Monday night, after The Alfredo Griffins began their second season with a thrilling 1-0 default victory, the team headed over to my buddy Rosco's place for some sweet BBQ action. Again, drank beer all night, but there was so much food going around that it was impossible to get to that good old fashioned wasted state that makes the Canadian long weekend so special. Don't get me wrong, that didn't stop me from riding the Vomit Comet home, but still...

Which brings us to Canada Day. My buddy Sully hosted the first annual Lornie Sullivan Canada Day Horseshoe Tournament, and it started out looking like it would be a pretty wild day of drinking and horseshoes. The one thing that we hadn't planned on (although in retrospec, it should have been the most obvious fate in the world), however, was that the party would be bone dry by about 7pm. I guess with all of the Beer and Liquor stores closed for the holiday, it was impossible to rally together for one of those legendary 6pm keg runs that usually characterizes just about every great afternoon gong show. As a result, we left Sully's around 9:30 with a pretty decent glow, but with speech unslurred and in complete motor control. How incredibly disappointing.

So there you have it. I didn't think that binge drinking in moderation was possible, but apparently, under the right conditions, it can be accomplished. All of the unproductivity of binge drinking and hangovers, without any of that pesky fun that goes along with a good 4-day bender.

I really think we need to band together as a nation to make sure that the next long weekend is filled with funnels, hard liquor, and projectile vomiting, just like this country's forefathers intended.