Saturday, January 31, 2009

Guyland Adventure #826: Boston

God Damn my liver when it’s thirsty,
God Damn my wallet when it’s dry…

- Justin Rutledge

So there we were. It was 3:30 in the morning. We’d spent the night at the Blazers-Wings game, drinking Bud Heavies and posing for photographs with the Sparks Dance Team. After the Dawson boys had dominated the affair (an 11-7 Blazers win), we had gone over to Sully’s Tap for a few Sam Adams before meeting the rest of the Blazers at “The Greatest Bar”, a huge assist going to NLL Legend Brian Bendig for getting us through the door. After slamming back multiple Jager Bombs with Big Joe Dawson, having future Congressman Smitty pose for multiple photos with the entire Sparks Dance team, and having a less-than-bashful girl walk in on me mid-piss in the single stall men’s washroom, we were eventually escorted out of the establishment at last call by one of Boston’s finest, who politely asked Dinner to “put down your beer you FUCKIN ASSHOLE”. Clearly still raring to go, the Blazers invited the group of us back to their digs ("The Blazers Den"): a six bedroom, one bathroom frat house with a fridge full of Bud Lights and a living room full of Sparks Dancers. It wasn’t long before Dinner was holding his own Blazers tryout, twirling a stolen lacrosse stick and tossing a mini red potato around the kitchen like a young Gary Gait. Some kind of a physical altercation broke out between one of the cheerleaders and her “boyfriend”, complete with scratching and slapping, and many other kinds of physical altercations were apparently breaking out in some of the bedrooms upstairs, as girl after girl kept coming down the stairs in various states of undress. I was sitting on the couch with Flats, having a drunken heart-to-heart, trying to take in the entire scene as Dinner continued to show the uninterested collective his upside-down sidewall spin, when suddenly, one of the Blazers players came parading down the stairs and waltzed into the living room... proud as a peacock, and naked as the day he was born.

It was at that moment that Flats turned to me and asked: “Are we in Guyland right now?”

This particular 4-day venture into the realm of Guyland began on Thursday afternoon with my buddy Dinner picking me up at 3 o’clock, the two of us driving to Buffalo to catch the $9 JetBlue special to Boston. We had an hour to kill before boarding, so we obviously hit up the newly opened Buffalo Airport Anchor Bar for a Sam Adams and some wings, paying our tab as they called our flight. The flight really couldn’t have been better, and at the very moment we got to the baggage coral upon our arrival, our bags were literally coming down the chute. The timing was impeccable, and the service top-notch – definitely worth every penny (all 900 of them).

Logan International is located about 3 miles from downtown Boston, so we were literally walking through the alley to Flats’ North End apartment less than 20 minutes after landing. Seeing as it was our first night, we decided to take it pretty easy by mixing triple Vodka-Sprite-and-Sunny Ds with the duty free Kettle One, and then dipping into the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (12% beer) and Raison D’Etre (8% beer), while waiting for Strombo, Flats’ roommate, to get home.

Eventually, it was off to Dillon’s to meet up with DJ Smitty and his coterie of beautiful babies: Hays (legend), Mairead (DC in the HOUSE!), and O’Leary. What can you say about Buffalo that hasn’t already been said? They roll thick. I can’t tell you much of what happened at the bar other than I inexplicably have a photograph of a urinal with a Heineken bottle resting on it… I guess that’s what happens when you warm up with 12% beer. We eventually piled into a cab and headed back to Flats’ place, popping into the 24-hour Italian bakery for some freshly baked bread that we caught a sniff of from the alley (is Boston’s North End the best neighbourhood in the world?). Once back inside the apartment, Flats went to work on a gigantic cauldron of spaghetti, chopping up sausage and adding his secret blend of 37 different herbs and spices while Dinner took over the DJ reigns, spinning an exquisite mix of City and Colour and Bon Iver (“Skinny Love”).

I believe it was sometime after 4am when Dinner had the misfortune of challenging me to a foosball game on Strombo’s highly irregular table, thus beginning my run in the 617 that managed to make the ’72 Dolphins look like a bunch of school boys. It was nothing short of complete and utter domination, including a couple of 2-on-1 victories, and perhaps most impressively, a W when my partner was an Indian girl who had basically never seen the game before. I’m telling you, if this whole blogging thing doesn’t work out, there might be a future for me hustling teenagers at Mr. V’s.

I have no idea what time Dinner and I crashed out on the couches, but it must have been sometime after 5:17 am, because apparently I sent some kind of an international text message at that hour. I am an idiot.

I have no idea how Flats and Strombo got up for work Friday morning, but apparently they did because when Dinner and I woke up (after our phone alarms were going off for approximately 4 hours), we had the place to ourselves. Let me tell you, nothing cures a screaming hangover like the Simpson’s movie and lazing around in your underwear until 2pm, but we eventually decided to venture out into the brisk Boston daylight, disregarding the fact that we didn’t have a key to get back into the apartment. We hit up Theo’s Cozy Corner for breakfast (fantastic hot Italian sausage and Provolone omelette; not a lot of room to stretch out; filled with blue collar locals sidling up to the lunch counter; no discernible bathroom – my kind of place), and then walked around the North End and hung around in the alley, waiting for someone to let us into the building (FYI: in Boston, any street called “Place” is actually an alley; as in, 8 Noyes Alley). Eventually, Flats made it back home and unlocked the door, and we basically just greened out on the couch for the next few hours, waiting for Strombo to get home so we could begin prepping for what would undoubtedly be Boston’s social event of the season: Flats-and-Strombo’s-Party-Because-a-Couple-of-Canadian-Dudes-Are-Down (unofficial title).

I have to say, I’m a big fan of Strombo’s party prep, which involves little more than setting up the Beirut table, and then buying 162 beers. Done and done.

Flats has a buddy who used to tend the twine at B.U., and he was able to hook us up with tickets for the BU-UNH game that night. We hopped on the aptly titled “Green Line” and took the subway-streetcar out to the BU campus, meeting Karson at the door, and then making our way to our seats, with Karson stopping to shake the hand of every single person he met along the way (Karson is like a former head-of-state at Agganis Arena), including the Captain of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey Team, Mike Eruzione (also a BU alum). The game was fantastic (BU crushed James van Reimsdyk’s Wildcats 5-0), the student section was bonkers, and the Sam Adams’ were ice cold. A perfect way to spend the early part of Friday night.

By the time we got out of the arena, the party at 8 Noyes Place was supposed to have been underway… Unfortunately for everyone involved, however, a solo Strombo had the effect of “creeping out” every group of girls who arrived at the door, meaning that by the time we got back to the apartment, it was basically just a drunk Strombo listening to tunes, wondering where it all went wrong.

But it didn’t take long for the soiree to begin taking shape, with the Queen City representing once again, rolling as thick as ever. At one point early on, I could have sworn that the girl-to-guy ratio was approaching 4-1. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. But I guess that's what happens when North End girls get wind of the fact that there are a couple of Canadian guys in town... The 30 racks of Keystone Lights were flying out of the fridge faster than they could be replenished, Hays and DC were snapping digitals like they were going out of style, and there was no shortage of love for the chest hair being flashed by yours truly. I’m pretty sure a legitimate dance party broke out when M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” took a spin, and it was at about this time when Flats boldly proclaimed: “Well, it’s officially a party because I don’t know anyone here”. The legendary heir to the Callaghan Auto Parts empire was live and in full effect, as were a duo of Maine-iacs who inexplicably accepted my invitation to attend the Blazers game the following night.

But the undisputed highlight of the night came when a group of kids walked through the door (and I mean, they were literally kids. If you’d asked me to guess their age, I would have probably said 17). Apparently, they lived across the alley and heard the music raging, and like any group of self-respecting adolescents would, they simply invited themselves over. They spilled into the kitchen, saying things like: “Holy SHIT! I just talked to this guy who was 28!!!” and “Let’s go slay some OLD BITCHES!”. They were also calling the 25-year old Callaghan “Lady” (she was not impressed, but I was laughing my ass off). Despite all of these indiscretions (or maybe because of them), the lads were actually pretty good dudes, and when we asked them how old they were, they told us that they were 20. That’s when Flats came back with the line of the weekend:

“Twenty?… I’m like… Five years older than that!”

Round about 1 o’clock, all 162 ‘Stoners had been crushed, so it was clearly time to move on to the Bushmills and Vodka, which indirectly led to more domination on the foosball pitch. By the end of the night, it was once again Dinner and I as the last two standing, with Dinner taking another run at the DJ booth, as we rocked out to Tom Petty and Kings of Leon… It was actually quite romantic.

Saturday was another highly productive day. I think Dinner and I woke up at about 2:30. Aside from Strombo heading out to the Boston Wine Show (ugh...), I was the first one to leave the apartment, and that was at 3'oclock, as I went in search of Gatorade and fresh air (The Hay Market on a Saturday afternoon does just the trick). We hit up Regina’s Pizzeria for some pie for breakfast (it was basically dark by that point), and then manned up and knocked back a few Heinekens before heading out to the Blazers game and the aforementioned trip into a dimension of Guyland that was even too much for me.

(After Flats had posed the infamous question: “Are we in Guyland right now?”; and after I’d responded by spitting my beer all over myself; his next question was: “You wanna get outta here?”... It would not have been possible to get to the door any faster. Dinner decided to stay at the Blazers Den in a last ditch effort to earn a roster spot, but it just wasn’t in the cards this time around. Maybe next year. He wound up drowning his sorrows back at Noyes Place by playing an hour's-worth of Justin Timberlake YouTube clips. What can I say? He’s a changed man.)

The three of us made a pact to wake up bright and early on Sunday so we could venture out into the Boston morning to take in all that the city has to offer. And miraculously, we managed to do just that, rousing ourselves out of bed by the ungodly hour of noon. Dinner began his legendary day of drinking in public by cracking a Heineken on the busy Sunday North End streets, and from there we set out on our walk over the N. Washington Street Bridge into Charlestown, where we met Flats’ buddy Tommy for breakfast at The Warren Tavern (circa 1780 – George Washington famously once stopped in for “refreshments”). For my money, there is no better breakfast than a cup of Chowder, Haddock and Chips, and multiple pints of Harpoon IPA.

From the Warren, it was off to the liquor store for a few more Heineken tallboys, and then to the Bunker Hill Monument where we inexplicably decided to attempt to run to the top (294 steps) despite the fact that we’d been drinking for approximately 72 consecutive hours and hadn’t so much as attempted a brisk walk since Wednesday… To no one’s surprise, I nearly had a heart attack after about 40 steps, but we eventually made it to the top and were afforded a breathtaking view of New England’s finest city.

We walked back through Charlestown where two disgusted women asked us in the most disdainful tone imaginable: “So… Are you guys just walking around the streets drinking Heinekens all day?” “Ummmm… Yeah?!?!”. We followed the freedom trail and eventually made it to the Banknorth Garden to peruse the Pro Shop (one rack of Blazers gear) and hit up the Dunkin Donuts for a much needed jolt. Waiting for the subway, an eleventeen year old asked to wear my funky Peruvian hat for awhile, and I was absolutely shocked that she didn’t lift my wallet, because that was exactly where the encounter felt like it was headed. We rode the train all the way to DJ Smitty’s $$$ apartment (on Beacon Street, just down the block from Cheers), and as Flats and I knocked back a few Labatt’s, Dinner went shopping for lingerie (Mike D is in a relationship).

From Smitty’s, it was off to Daisy Buchanan’s for a few more IPAs, and then as darkness began to fall, it was Starbucks for some more caffeine, and then a quick pint at the Bell in Hand Tavern (the oldest continuously operating Tavern in the U.S. – see? Taking in culturally significant sights on our daylong pub crawl!). We got back to Noyes Place around 9pm, showered up, hosted an international webinar, and then headed out into the Boston night for a pretty solid Italian meal, and then multiple pints at The Living Room.

Just when it looked like things were beginning to wind down, we received a text message from Paully Daws, informing us that he and a group of his team mates were on the prowl and looking to light it up for last call. In retrospect, The Four Winds was probably not the best choice for a locale in which to accomplish these ends, but at the time, it was the only place still serving.

So if you will, picture this scene: it is 1:30 in the morning on a Sunday night, and the setting is this tiny, quiet little local pub where candles sit atop the tables and soft jazz music plays from hidden speakers as locals silently sip their cocktails…. And in walks this gargantuan group of 15 belligerent dudes and dudettes, some sporting glorious moustaches and 70’s style warm-up suits for “Sunday Funday”, the collective completely shit-faced and looking for more action… To say that the needle was ripped off of the Charles Mingus record would be an understatement.

So after ordering multiple rounds of Jagermeister at 1:54 am (I know this because I actually took a photo of my blackberry, so astounded was I by the amount of alcohol being consumed only hours prior to my needing to be on a flight back home, presumably so I could work a full day), it came as a surprise to no one that one of the moustachioed gentlemen inadvertently knocked over a barstool, giving the female bartender the perfect excuse to kick the group of us out of her establishment. When she began taking our drinks off the bar, Dinner flatly stated: “You’re robbing us right now, you know…”, prompting a 60-year old Paul Schaffer look-alike to get in Dinner’s grill and scream “YOU HAVE THREE SECONDS TO FINISH YOUR DRINK AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!”. The former head of The World's Most Dangerous Band wasn't messing around. It was beautiful.

Nothing like a nice quiet Sunday night to round out the weekend.

When we woke up Monday morning at 7:30, I literally wanted to kill myself. You know it’s going to be one of those kinds of days when the first words out of the guy sleeping next to you are: “Did I puke on myself last night?”

Turns out it was just a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s that melted all over him and the couch after he’d passed out, but still… The flight back to Buffalo wasn’t much better, the deplorableness of it all exacerbated by the fact that someone (not naming names) vomited prodigiously all over the airplane’s bathroom.

Yep, just another 4 days in the lives of three thirty-somethings maturing gracefully into middle age.

Dinner, thanks for being such a great date and not taking advantage of me in my drunken, vulnerable state. Queen City Ladies, you were the highlights of the first two nights before pulling an unnanounced Houdini: let's work on that stamina for next time. Flats, Strombo, DJ Smitty… We owe you guys a lifetime’s worth of gratitude for the hospitality the three of you showed us. Looking forward to returning the favour one day soon, as Guyland Adventure #837 ventures to Toronto in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Place Your Halftime Bets

As some of you may have heard, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band are playing the halftime show at Superbowl 43 in Tampa, FL this Sunday. And for anyone who has ever spent their entire life endlessly devoted to the man and his music; or at least seen him perform live at least once or twice; this particular performance comes with considerable intrigue. Forget the fact that the show will be broadcast to every country around the world, or that Bruce has been known to drop the occassional F-bomb mid-performance, or that there exists the very real possibility that the band will have to circumnavigate the battered carcass of Kurt Warner; what is most intriguing for Springsteen fans the world over is the fact that the boys are faced with an extremely limited time constraint. And as anyone who has had the privelege of seeing the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, history-making, legendary E Street Band can attest, there is simply no possible way to cram a Springsteen setlist into 10 minutes of network TV.

So the debate has been raging. Which 3 songs will they bust out? Will they go all pre-River? Will they represent every decade? Will the NFL have to get Troy Polamalu to drag the Boss off the stage as he's raging away at Rosalita during his 5th encore?

For the first time in the history of sports, there is more speculation and hype surrounding the halftime show than the game itself.

So my friends and I have been making our predictions. And after 4 full months of contemplation, here is the official Springsteen halftime setlist:

Opener - Glory Days (electrifies the crowd immediately; unmistakable opening riff; Springsteen changing the line "I had a friend, was a great baseball player...", to "I had a friend was a big football player..." - thanks to Deeve for that call)

Segueing into - My Lucky Day (obligatory track from the new album; fast enough to keep the crowd on it's feet; a solid enough track to sell a couple million albums with)
This Video has already been removed. To see it in it's entirety, click HERE.

Closing with - Badlands (the big man dominates this classic; the crowd sings along to the point that even John Madden joins in, his mic unknowingly turned on; the cameras pan the sidelines and see a teary-eyed Ken Wisenhunt screaming the lyrics)

Unexpected, unscripted, unendorsed, untelevised encore - Born to Run (Bruce comes running back out as the crew is tearing down the stage; we come back from commercial to find the crowd so fired up that a riot has erupted; the track culminates with the cannons firing from the pirate's ship at Raymond James stadium; the NFL cancels the 2nd half of the Superbowl because they know that nothing could ever top the performance they've just witnessed.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Diversion

A few things to pass the time while nursing a wicked hangover after a night spent drinking Dogfish Head's Palo Santo in Boston. As always, this is some of the best reading I've come across in the past 7 days.

Mr. and Mrs. Right

By Bob Colacello

Who says we don't represent both ends of the political spectrum here at Granted, this is an article I would have never taken the time to read if it hadn't been so highly recommended, but what can I say? I guess I'm a sucker for a good love story. This lengthy piece chronicles the lives of Pat and William F. Buckley, two people you will not find more diametrically opposed to the political and social views I hold. But it's all good. And even if you aren't a fan of the far right, if nothing else, this piece will remind you (with stories of obscene priviledge, garishly extravagant dinner parties, and general condescension for those who do not tread in the same social strata) why you tend to lean to the left.

Thanks to Skeets for the article.

The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All-Time

The good people at Empire Online are proud to bring you the 100 greatest movie characters of all-time. How both Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne were ommitted from the top-10 is beyond me, but hey, it's their list.

The Dystopians
By Ben McGrath

This is only the abstract, but if you are able to log into the New Yorker, check out this piece about doomsday forecasters, and the future they envision.

Spreading the Word
By Judith Thurman

Another abstract piece about the game of Scrabble, and the eccentric people who play it.

49 Songs from North of the 49th Parallel

From January 5th-16th, 2009, CBC Radio 2 invited Canadians to help select the top “49 songs from north of the 49th parallel” that would best define our country to the incoming U.S. President Barack Obama. Nominations were submitted, and the these were the top 49 songs as decided by the good listeners of CBC Radio 2.

Highly recommended selections include One Great City by The Weakerthans ("The Guess Who sucked, the Jets were lousy anyway..."), Brother (Watching) by Shad, and Helpless by Neil Young.

The YouTube clip of the week comes courtesy of TVB. Should I ever achieve the kind of weath and political sway of William F. Buckley, rest assured, installing an exact replica will be my first order of business:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

The world is a better place.

I text messaged a few of my politically conscientious friends those same six words only moments after Barack Hussein Obama's swearing in as the 44th President of the United States of America. The responses varied, but they all seemed to carry the same basic cautionary tone:

Pretty amazing. He has a lot of work ahead of him!

I admire your confidence, and mirror it to a great extent. But he's got one hell of a job ahead of him. Let's see if the great speaker can be the great "decider"!

I would have to agree. He's certainly got some serious expectations to live up to, but he has a remarkable amount of people cheering for him.

Agreed. You think we could get him to send someone good up here on Monday?

It is no secret that Barack Obama has been put in one of the most difficult positions in the history of the Presidency. The economy is in shambles. The country is involved in two wars, one of which it has absolutely no business being in. And the world's opinion of what was once considered this epoch's finest nation, is at an all-time low.

It would be impossible for us to expect one man to cure a nation of these monumental woes. He is not the Messiah. But what he is, more than anything else, is a man of character. He is a man of integrity. He is a man with the courage of his convictions.

There is little denying the man's oratorical skills. By the time it is all said and done, he might just go down as the greatest speaker in the history of the Presidency. His words carry the kind of weight that we haven't witnessed or felt in a generation. His words carry the capacity to inspire. And his words give people hope where they would otherwise be bereft of faith or expectation.

He is the kind of man who can bring people together. Never was this more evident than on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. earlier today, where more than 2 million people gathered; people from every concievable race, religion, and political inclination. It was evident in his appointing his bitter Democratic rival, Hilary Clinton, as Secretary of State. And it was evident in the fact that Obama hosted a dinner in Senator McCain's honour; the same Senator with whom he fought a vicious battle for the Presidency; the night before his inauguration. Barack Obama is not simply talking the talk when it comes to expressing the need for Americans to come together in this time of great crisis; he is unequivocally walking the walk.

In his address earlier today, Obama alluded to the fact that America would once again be a friend to all nations. And I feel that this is one of the most important things that President Obama brings to the United States of America: respectability on the world stage, and the belief that this great nation can once again lead the world. You can expect to see a great deal more American flags sewn to backpacks the world over, something that you rarely saw during the Bush administration. And I, for one, believe this is a great thing. Because if the President is capable of inspiring Americans to make their country a better place, there's no reason why they shouldn't be proud to call their country home.

But perhaps more than anything else, what President Obama brings to the office is what that same office has been lacking for far too long: the truths and values that he alluded to in his address. The truths and values that have been the quiet force of progress throughout history. Because no one embodies those values; honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, and loyalty and patriotism; the way Barack Hussein Obama does.

I can't sit here and pretend that I will agree with every one of the myriad decisions President Obama will be forced to make over the course of the next 8 years. But what I can believe, is that Barack Obama is comprised of the kind of moral fiber that will allow him to make the right decision, even in the face of the unfathomably difficult and impossible-to-please-everyone situations a President customarily finds himself at the centre of.

And at the end of the day, I believe that is all you can ask of a man.

And what's more, if you are fortunate enough have a President who lives by those same truths and values that Barack Obama embodies, the world truly will be a better place.

Obama's Inaugural Address:

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Rising - Lincoln Memorial - 01/18/09

Ask and you shall receive.

This performance clearly needs to be in the pantheon. Simply outstanding.

I obviously wasn't around for Kennedy's inauguration, but has there ever been this kind of anticipation for an address to the nation? Tomorrow will be one for the ages. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Springsteen Tour de Force Performance Showdown

January is shaping up to be a pretty big month for Springsteen fans the world over. His brilliant song, "The Wrestler", brought home the Golden Globe Award for Best Song last weekend. The man kicked off the "We Are One" Obama inaugural celebration with a performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His 16th studio album, "Working On A Dream", will be released January 27th. And the month will come to an end with everything culminating on February 1st, when Bruce and the E Street Band will play the halftime show at Superbowl 43 in Tampa, FL.

To help celebrate what might go down as the biggest month in the history of E Street, we here at will be paying tribute to the man and the band with periodic samplings of some of his finest moments.

She's The One - Hammersmith Odeon, London, England - November 18, 1975

Prove It All Night - Passaic, NJ - September 19, 1978

If I Should Fall Behind - The Point, Dublin, Ireland - November, 2006

Born To Run - Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena - April 27, 1988

Choosing one of these over any of the others would be like asking a mother to choose one of her children over the others. An impossible task. Call it a four-way-tie.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Diversion

Editor's Note: I was about two-thirds of my way through this thing last night when the power went out across much of Toronto. My place was without electricity until about 10 o'clock this morning, which is why this thing is so late. My apologies. Maybe you can read it on Monday. And for the recrod, the Land of Talk show at the 'shoe was fantastic (they still had power) - huge tip of the cap to the guys at A&C for pulling some strings to get me into the sold out show.

A little something to help pass the time as you attempt to unfreeze your external plumbing this morning. I have to aplogize for the abbreviated commentary on this week's Diversion, but the entire staff here at is off to the Land of Talk show at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. And by "the entire staff here at is off to the Land of Talk show at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern", what I mean is: I'm going to the Land of Talk show tonight. As always, this is some of the best stuff I've come across over the course of the past week, the vast majority coming by way of the dotcomrades.

Born to Run? Little Ones Get Test For Sports Gene>

By Juliet Macur

For any psychotic parents who want to know whether or not they have the next Lebron James on their hands. Of course, this test isn't infallible, and imagine the loss the world would have suffered had my parents tested me, only to invariably find my subsequent failing so miserable that they in turn decided to remove me from all competitive sports... The OTHL would have been short one borderline serviceable second line left winger, and the hockey world just wouldn't be the same.

Thanks to Unkle Mike for the link.


By Hendrik Hertzberg

A look into the most eagerly anticipated inauguration of our generation.

His Fists Are Up and His Guard is Down

By Pat Jordan

In light of Mickey Rourke's touching acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, here is a gut wrenching look at the life that led the man to his role in "The Wrestler", and why he wasn't kidding when he thanked his dogs by way of saying: "Sometimes when a man's alone, that's all you've got is your dog."

Thanks to Unkle Mike for the link

The 44 Places to Go in 2009

Compiled by Seth Sherwood and Gisela Williams

This piece may be useful for those looking to do some travelling in 2009, but the real reason I'm linking to it is because of #37. Smack dab between Kazakhstan and Madagascar... Nothing says "exotic adventure destination" like The Queen City.

Thanks to Flats for the incredulous observation.

Win, Win, Win, Win, Win...

By Thomas L. Friedman

An explanation for why lower gas prices are the worst thing for our environment and our economy; a fact I've long argued, but with not nearly the same expertise as Friedman.

Thanks to Browner for the piece.

You Can't Fire Me, I'm Drunk!

Reason #4,156 to move to Peru.

Thanks to Flats for the excuse to engage in the 3 Martini lunch.

Diversion Diverted

Let me tell you something: when it is -20 outside, you live in a house with electric heating, and the power goes out, it doesn't take long before you can see your breath while lying in bed.

Back with the rest of the diversion after I finish burning some furniture for warmth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The passage from adolescence to adulthood was once clear, coherent, and relatively secure: in their late teenage years and early twenties, guys "put away childish things" and entered their futures as responsible adults. Today growing up has become more complex and confusing as young men drift casually through college and beyond—hanging out, partying, playing with tech toys, watching sports. But beneath the appearance of a simple extended boyhood, a more dangerous social world has developed, far away from the traditional signposts and cultural signals that once helped boys navigate their way to manhood.

The average young American man today is moving through a new stage of development, a buddy culture unfazed by the demands of parents, girlfriends, jobs, kids, and other nuisances of adult life. Sociologist and gender studies authority Michael Kimmel has identified this territory as "Guyland," a place that is both a stage of life and a new social arena...

Finally. It all makes sense.

There I was today, hungover and driving to a meeting while listening to CBC Radio's Q as I am often wont to do. Jonathan Torrens was filling in for Jian Ghomeshi, and when he introduced his next guest by way of a Bromance reference, I was one Brody-Jenner-drop away from changing the staion in order to catch the Wheel-of-Mikes with Tother and Hoaggie... I can't explain exactly what it was (apathy? laziness?), but something compelled me to stick around. And thank the baby Jesus that I did, because it was like finally seeing the image in one of those 3D paintings they used to have at the mall. My life came into focus all at once, and at long last I finally understood: I've spent the past 10 years of my life living in Guyland.

I never thought I'd live to see the day where a guest on CBC Radio would utter the phrase "bros before hos", but sure enough, there was Dr. Michael Kimmel, doing his best to explain this new phenomenon in North American culture by throwing around scientific terms like "friends with benefits" as if he were documenting the ancient mating rituals of the Yanomamo.
Kimmel's study of Guyland essentially demonstrates that we are in a new era of masculinity where the move from adolescence to adulthood isn't quite as cut-and-dry as it was in generations past. To absolutely no one's surprise, the study suggests that most guys, if given the opportunity, will continue to act as if they were in college until they are forced to grow up. As exhibit "A", Dr. Kimmel pointed to the movie "Old School"... Nah, I'm totally making that up. But he very well could have.

What he did point to, however, was shows like Entourage, suggesting that deep down, this is the lifestyle that every guy craves. Kimmel suggests that guys want to be free of responsibility. That they want the exact opposite of commitment in every facet of their life. And that most importantly, they want their lives to revolve around a "crew" of their "homies" (Dr. Kimmel's words, not mine), and to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Through over 400 interviews, Michael Kimmel discovered that this life in Guyland tends to exist for males between the ages of 20-30. When Torrens asked him what it was that eventually brought this glorious period to an end for most guys, Dr. Kimmel said without batting an eye: "Women. Every time... If it were up to the men, they'd be living in Guyland until they were at least 40".

When Torrens asked Kimmel where this model came from; the ides of surrounding yourself with the friends you've always had, and knowing that these people will be all you'll need for the foreseeable future; Kimmel pointed to the E Street Band. The E Street Band, Kimmel said, was a crew of guys who stuck together for 35 years, and deep down, that is what guys longed for. I was nodding my head the entire time.

One of the issues Torrens was curious about was the idea that both men and women alike need to feel as if they are loved. In a lifestyle that is predominantly defined by one-night stands and casual, non-committed relationships, Torrens wondered how would it be possible for guys in Guyland to achieve this type of love? Again, to no one's surprise, Dr. Kimmel revealed that when guys in Guyland get drunk, they tend to open up and tell their buddies just how much they love them. Which got me to thinking about all of the drunken, late night text and phone messages I often receive from my fellow Guylanders...

(the best recent Guyland love-in: "Man I miss you guys... Fuck, the good old days were good! You all make life feel real again! Love you all!")

The one place where the study lost me a little was that it determined that the reason guys choose to act the way they do is to constantly demonstrate that they're not gay. Well, anyone who has read this blog in the past knows that, a) there are few people more entrenched in the Guyland lifestyle than myself (see exhibits "A", "B", "C", and "D"); and that, b) I have essentially been doing the exact opposite of demonstrating that I'm not gay for all of these years (see exhibits "E", "F", and "G").

In any event, it's good to know that sociologists are actually studying this ridiculous lifestyle that I've been living for the past 10 years. And it's also good to know that my friends and I aren't alone. Not by a long shot.

And as for our reasons for living in this so-called "Guyland" for all of these years? An informal poll of my fellow Guylanders would probably reveal that this lifestyle just seems like a hell of a lot more fun than anything else that has come along until this point.... That, and the fact that the adventures in Guyland tend to result in more entertaining reading for the dotcomrades.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Glory Days

January is shaping up to be a pretty big month for Springsteen fans the world over. His brilliant song, "The Wrestler", is nominated for a Golden Globe Award this weekend. His 16th studio album, "Working On A Dream", will be released January 27th. And the month will come to an end with everything culminating on February 1st, when Bruce and the E Street Band will play the halftime show at Superbowl 43 in Tampa, FL (the Buffalo Bills, not wanting to upstage the Boss, have gracefully withdrawn from the event).

To help celebrate what might go down as the biggest month in the history of E Street, we here at will be paying tribute to the man and the band with periodic samplings of some of his finest moments.

There's a line in a song by The Beta Band (said song made a fantastic cameo in one of the all-time top 5 movies about working in a record store: High Fidelity) which states: "This is the definition of my life". And not that a single song could ever adequately define someone's entire life, but this is about as close as it gets.

The indisputable highlight of my summer (2008) came when The Blackwater Trio played this song at my buddy Foley's wedding (photographic evidence of the all-time white guy air-guitar sing along shown below); at my buddy Rosco's wedding, I was introduced to the reception with this song blaring from all corners of the hall; and, well, let's be honest: "I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it... but I probably will".

This performance took place during Letterman's last show for NBC (June 25, 1993), and it wouldn't be a stretch to call this one of the highlights of Letterman's long and ridiculously illustrious career. And if you don't think these eight minutes were the absolute apex of The World's Most Dangerous Band, then you're kidding yourself. I mean, look at the smile on that drummer: that's exactly what I looked like after drinking out of the Stanley Cup, which, not coincidentally, was the supreme highlight of my life.

Thanks to Buffalo Blake for sending this along about a year ago (there's really no excuse for not having posted it sooner - I apologize to all of the dotcomrades for leaving your lives unnecessarily empty until this moment). And not that anyone could ever top one of the Boss's live performances, but I'd have to say that Buffalo Blake's rendition comes pretty damn close.

Click HERE for the original E Street video in all of its 80's splendour. I honestly can't get enough of the obscure Graig Nettles reference at the end.

There are simply no words to describe how much I love this photo. Thanks to Jill for her mastery on the Polaroid.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Friday Diversion

After a three week hiatus, the Diversion makes its triumphant return with a slew of dotcomrade recommended reading. As always, here's a little something to help you celebrate the fact that fan favourite Ron Cherry was givin' em the business as the head referee in last night's BCS National Championship game. Atta boy Ron!

Greening the Ghetto
By Elizabeth Kolbert

A fascinating look at the life of Van Jones ("The Green Collar Economy"), and his ambitious ideas for improving both the environment and the economy. Critics denounce Jones' ideology for being too lofty, but as Jones himself points out:

"We used to have a country, allegedly, but you couldn’t drive across it, because all we had was a bunch of old dirt roads. Somebody, in the name of national security, said, ‘Hold on a sec. What if we get invaded on the West Coast, how can we get troops from the East Coast?’ So we created an interstate-highway system that connected the country to itself.”

He lowered his voice to a grumble: “ ‘Oh, we can’t afford to do it! This is insane!’ We couldn’t afford not to do it. Because the minute you did that the economy went through the roof. It was such a good idea that we did it again. In the name of national security, people in the Pentagon said, ‘If we have one big communications tower, and somebody knocks it out, then we’re blind, deaf, and dumb. We’ve got to figure out a way to distribute our information system.’ So they came up with the idea of the information superhighway—for you young people, that’s what we call the Internet. ‘We can’t afford to do this!’ We couldn’t afford not to do it. The minute we connected the country to itself, the economy went through the roof. All we’re saying is, let’s do it again. But this time, instead of connecting the country to itself to move bodies and vehicles or data around, let’s connect the country to itself so we can move clean-energy electrons around. Then you’ve got the strongest economy in the world.”

Inspiring. And I couldn't agree more.

The End of the Financial World As We Know It
By Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis explains how the implosion of Wall Street was a result, not simply of greed ("we are as likely to eliminate greed from our national character as we are lust and envy"), but of an almost comical lack of checks and balances, and an inherent system of misaligned interests that bordered on the criminal.

Thanks to Flats for the link.

The Ponzi Scheme in Every Hedge Fund
By Ari J. Officer

This article from Time Magazine explains how every hedge fund is essentially a watered down version of Madoff's $50 billion swindle

It is articles like the two listed above that almost make me happy about the fact that my complete lack of financial stability has resulted in my only ever being able to invest in second hand vinyl and copious amounts of hard liquor with which to stonewall my liver.

Thanks to Rosco for the hookup.

How To Save Rock and Roll
Rolling Stone Magazine

A short piece about how Arts & Crafts founder Jeffrey Remedios is helping to change the face of modern music, and in turn indirectly granting me access to more shows than one fledgling blogger should be allowed to attend.

Thanks to Browner for the nod.

Spend Less Time Online, More Time Face-to-Face
By Joshua Errett

A few tips on how to avoid wasting your life away on sites like the one you are currently wasting your life with.

Into The Woods
By Sasha Frere-Jones

A look into the sound of Bon Iver, "Northern Exposure", and the act of turning heartache to phonic gold.

The YouTube clip of the week comes courtesy of G-Town Petey. I'm a huge fan of all urinal related humour, and needless to say, if I were a Brit, I would describe the following sequence as "fucking brilliant":

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Terrible Beer... Great Commercials

While watching Team Canada dominate the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships last night, I saw that "Unwritten Code" commercial for Molson Canadian for the hundredth time and thought to myself: "You know what? These guys make some pretty damn good commercials". Sure, I have yet to meet anyone over the age of 19 who actually drinks the piss they pass off as beer, but still... At the very least, the good people at Molson need to be commended for their marketing genius. And I know that all of the Canadian readers out there will have surely seen these ads a thousand times, but for our countless international dotcomrades, here is a sampling of some of the most entertaining beer commercials to have graced the Canadian airwaves over the past few years.

(Let the record show that I abhor everything about those "My Name is Joe, and I Am Canadian Commercials", as well as any of the other asinine ploys to play on the alleged ignorance of our neighbours to the south. Those commercials just basically sicken me.)

"Chasing Beaver" - I don't even know if this was ever allowed to air, but it is brilliant.

"Your Sister" - Pretty sure I had this exact conversation with a buddy on New Year's Eve.

"I'm So Mad At My Boyfriend" - Ummm... If this doesn't get you off the couch, nothing will.

"Unwritten Code - Part I" - This commercial implies that there exists some kind of an ice scraper beyond a man's arm... Mysterious 'ice scraper' had yet to be identified at the time of publication.

"Unwritten Code - Part II" - I can unequivocally say that I have one, have gone on many, am proud to know one, have felt equally bad, have used with surprising success, always do, agree that it can, have been more than I'd like to admit, and most certainly have without any reservations whatsoever... In short, if I had 30 seconds to introduce myself to someone, I'd basically just play this commercial for them and then buy a round of Steamwhistles.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Top 10 Albums of 2008

Big run on ultra-hip music here at

My buddy Browner is the resident music savant, and he's here to weigh-in with his picks for the best-of this past year. I should tell you that 75% of the new music I listen to comes courtesy of Browner; he works for quite possibly the coolest record label in Canada; and he routinely doubles-up on bottles of Labatt 50 while posing for photos in front of walls decorated with Kenny Rogers albums. If that isn't enough to heed his advice, there's no hope for you.


Some of you occasionally harass me for musical suggestions. Others harass me ABOUT my musical suggestions. Either way, I figured I might as well put together a list of my faves from the past year to give you ammunition for your ipod or our next debate.

10. Death Cab For Cutie- Narrow Stairs- Another solid record from these guys which sees them taking things in a slightly new direction... just different enough to keep it interesting.

Check out: I Will Possess Your Heart

9. She and Him- Volume One- A great countrified pop album with a '50's throwback feel to it.

Check out: Sentimental Heart, This is Not a Test, Why Do You Let Me Stay Here

8. Flobots- I won't pretend to be completely in tune with the hip hop world, but there was less good stuff that crossed my radar this year than usual. This was the exception.

Check out: Stand up, Rise

7. Land of Talk- Some Are Lakes- These guys have opened for Neil Young and their lead singer has been singing with Broken Social Scene. Works for me.

Check out: Some Are Lakes

6. Bon Iver- A beautiful minimalist album. I read a review that said someone should put Iron and Wine on notice that he has a new challenger. Sounds about right.

Check out: Skinny Love, Lump Sum, Re Stacks

5. Duffy- Rockferry- This was another great throwback album. The common comparison is Amy Winehouse, but I prefer Duffy.

Check out: Rockferry, Stepping Stone

4. Kathleen Edwards- Asking For Flowers- What can I say about Kathleen Edwards? One of the best singer/songwriter to come out of Canada since Neil Young.

Check out: Asking For Flowers, The Cheapest Key, Scared At Night

3. The Constantines- Kensington Heights- Everything came together for vets the Constantines on this album. Noone could more credibly deliver the line "I will not sing a hateful song, though it's in me to sing" than Bry Webb with his trademark growl. And was there a more timely song in 2008 than Credit River?

Check out: Our Age, Time Can Be Overcome

2. The Hold Steady- Stay Positive- Springsteen influenced songs about partying way too hard? Yeah, can't put my finger on what it is I like about this band... perhaps lines like "If she asks don't tell her that I'm living hand to mouth. Don't tell her I've been sleeping on your couch. If she asks just tell her that we opened for the Stones. It's her favourite band except for the Ramones. If she happens to suggest a love based on trust and respect, tell her I've been wasted since last week."

Check out: Lord I'm Discouraged, Constructive Summer, Stay Positive

1. Kings of Leon- You already know about these guys, right? Right?

Check out: Sex on Fire, Use Somebody

Modern Acoustic Dejection Showdown

Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band - Cape Canaveral

Because victory is sweet even deep in the cheap seats.


Bon Iver - Re: Stacks

Because it's hard to find it when you knew it / When your money's gone / And you're drunk as hell.


Bruce Springsteen - The Wrestler

Because these things that have comforted me, I drive away / This place that is my home I cannot stay.

All three of these tracks have been getting serious spin-time in recent weeks here at world headquarters. But there is only one way to go in this showdown. Because a song written by Bruce Springsteen for Mickey Rourke only comes around once in a lifetime.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Year in Band Names

Every year, The A.V. Club compiles a list of the best and worst band names it has come acorss over the course of the past 365 days. Needless to say, it is essential reading.

You can catch 2008: The Year in Band Names HERE (note: it is 6 webpages long)

(The 2007 List can be found HERE)

And despite the fact that Buster Hymen and the Penetrators were inexplicably ommitted, this directory of epithets is inarguably a tour de force. It runs the gamut from seriously disturbing (just about everything in the Metal or Metal-Sounding category), to wonderfully witty ("Barry Whitesnake"), and downright bizzare ("Midnight Spaghetti and the Chocolate G-String"), all in the name of a name, with the hopes that a moniker alone is enough to lure you into the club (are you telling me you wouldn't pay money to see a band called: "Yes! Yes! Take Off Your Dress!"?)

Some of our favourites here at include the following:

Fatal Kitten Rampage
Fuck... I'm Dead
One Whore's Town
Sega Genocide
Coup de Ska
Justice of the Unicorns
Menstrual Tramps
Yuzo Nieto & The Hand That Rocks The Dradle
The Self-Congratulatory One-Man Reach-Around
Carlos I'm Pregnant
Piss Pissedofferson
The Unnecessary Gun Point Lecture


Maybe the best band bio ever, courtesy of Jesus Causes Cancer:

"Jesus Causes Cancer! With that said, come and see a show. Do a beer bong. Fight the band. Buy us vodka. Boo and heckle us! Bring a Jew!"

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve - Partying Like It's 1999

...And I mean that in the most literal sense. As in: "I was at this exact party in 1999".

My friends and I have this running joke that we've been stuck in some kind of a time warp that has kept us acting as if we were 19 for the past 10 years. And it's true; the way we act does look a lot like the way we might have acted some 10 years ago. Sure, these days we have a little more money to throw around, and we tend to get into a little less trouble with the law, but on the whole, it's basically the same group of high school buddies going out every weekend, binge drinking as if we were sharing a case of Maximum Ice in a poorly lit suburban park, running with the same jokes that were funny during the Clinton administration, and basically acting like a bunch of drunken assholes. Some people find this brand of camaraderie charming. Others say we should move on with our lives. Make new friends. Grow up.

We generally don't see much of those who suggest the latter.

Nowhere was this discrepancy between age and maturity more evident than on New Year's Eve. Because I am 30 years old. And believe me when I say that I most certainly did not act like a 30 year old on this night. Not even close.

Sure, I breifly attended a few functions that were becoming of a man of my advancing years.

There was a pre-dinner party with hors d'oeuvres and suitably pleasant mood music at a friend's house. There was a newborn baby, some married couples, some friends that were newly engaged. The host was wearing an apron. It was a pleasant setting, to be sure. We left after 20 minutes.

There was a highly civilized dinner party for another friend's birthday that was beautifully prepared with all of the accoutrements you might expect from such a classy affair, including candles and quiet music. The dinner was top notch, and the conversation only veered into the realm of inappropriateness a dozen or so times. (It is probably worth mentioning that this dinner party took place at my buddy's mom's house, and that we have been attending this function every year since his 15th birthday. Whether that fact makes us more or less mature is open for debate.)

There was yet another civilized party that we dropped in on at the house of a married couple we know. There were plenty of hors d'oeuvres and happy couples. There was even a Karaoke machine. It had all of the makings of a very enjoyable evening... But we only stayed at this particular party for half an hour. We needed to get back to Toronto. There was a time warp awaiting. We needed to dial in to 1999.

Our designated driver (God bless her soul) drove us back to the city, and we dropped off the car. We proceeded to drink in public on our walk to the subway, and then again while riding the subway. We arrived at the bar (The Underground Garage) shortly after 11pm. A friend had rented out this particular bar for a private party, and it warrants mentioning that we had previously attended a private New Year's Eve party in this exact bar in the year... you guessed it: 1999. You really can't make this stuff up.

So what do you do when you're 30 years old and you enter a bar 30 minutes prior to midnight on New Year's Eve? You proceed to drink yourself into complete and utter oblivion with a bunch of 30 year olds who are also under the impression that it is 1999.

In all honesty, this was one of those legendary New Year's Eve parties that goes way beyond raucous. It was triple-fisting bottles of Labatt 50 all night long. It was endless rounds of Jagermeister, Sambuca, and Liquid Cocaine. It was completely inappropriate comments at unbelievably inappropriate times (when I complemented a pregnant friend by telling her how great she looked, my buddy Foley - celebrating his 29th birthday on this night - shot back with the greatest line in the history of primetime television: "Now Drew, I'll be the first to admit that I often think of pregnant women while disgracing my body in the shower, but to actually date one?? That's just perverted"). It was couples going at it on the dance floor like Spike and Shane on Degrassi. It was rocking out to the band as they cranked out Tom Petty and Big Wreck covers. It was bumping into TSN's own Jennifer Hedger, engaging in a boderline meaningful conversation, and then having said conversation hijacked by my endlessly-networking brother. It was calling my parents at 2:30 in the morning and serenading them with whatever song the band happened to be playing at that time (my dad hung up halfway through the phone call, unbeknownst to us as we kept wailing away. His response to our well-wishes when I spoke to him today? "That was fucked up..."). It was drunkenness to the point of tears. And it was stumbling out of the bar at 3 o'clock in the morning and walking home alone in -15 degree weather, falling flat on my ass on Queen Street because my Cherry Docs were completely unsuitable for snowy conditions, and because my condition was somewhere between weaving-into-oncoming-traffic and comatose.

In short, it was everything New Year's Eve is supposed to be.

And not that there's anything wrong with candles, kids, quiet music, and hors d'oeuvres; it's just that those things weren't really my bag in 1999. And as far as I can tell, it's going to be 1999 in my world for quite some time to come.

One more NYE note:

I love the text messages and voicemails that are exchanged every New Year's Eve. The best of the night came from my buddy Sweet Nate (he of The Boozy Call fame). A bunch of my "grown-up" highschool buddies attended one of the civilized, mature parties that you might expect people approaching middle age to attend on New Year's Eve. And in his message, he had me completely sold on his whole grown-up status. His message was sombre, profound, heartfelt, meaningful... All of it... Right up until the very end:

All my groomsmen are here... Four of them: Damen, Stinky, Skeeter, Phatty... You're the missing link... I pause, because I'm smoking a cigar... I love you to death. I love you. I love your family. You're important to me... Happy New Year, brother... I will see you in the new year. You are gonna be the man at my wedding. Make some notes. Take them mentally... Maybe a slide show. We'll be in touch... I love you. All the best for 2009...... I hope your penis gets bigger.

I couldn't be happier about the fact that there's still a trace of 1999 coursing through his veins.