Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Jesus, take a half day!

Well here we are, Christmas Eve 2007. Much has changed, much has remained the same. Another year come, another year gone. Clearly I have nothing of interest to say hence the reason I'm rambling. Despite my previous post in regards to seeking out the best mall Santa we ended up making our decision based solely on proximity. Charlie can blame the car problems of last weekend for the fact that her first picture with Santa is taken with a St. Nick that could best be described as disinterested. I guess that's not the worst potential defining characteristic. It certainly beats intoxicated, half-naked or beardless. At least he was an actual Santa, not just a creepy bald guy signing "Santa". Be thankful as due to the fallout from subprime mortgages this is all the Santa many people can afford this Christmas.

Sign language for Santa...or your wingman warning you that your blind date has a neck fat issue

Gerrard Square Santa wasn't too bad, though he was clearly ready to punch the clock. Next year we'll definitely make an effort to show up at the beginning of Santa's shift when he's still able to manufacture a smile or a "ho ho ho".

This is probably as good a time as any for my best of 2007 list. Here goes:

Best of 2007: My Daughter

Worst of 2007 (tie): The New England Patriots and war (honorary mention to disease and droughts)

Hottest vegetable: Rapini. Blanch it quickly, pat dry and then set it aside. At that point you can do most anything with it. Sauteed with lemon and chili, finished with sea salt is my favourite.

Gayest thing written: see above

Best movie: Didn't see any (see posts re: new child)

Biggest surprise: Britney Spears and Marcus Vick turn out to be the "good kids" as both see their misdeeds trumped by their idiotic siblings.

Biggest surprise (sarcastic): Frank D'Angelo's Steelback brewery files for bankruptcy. Who would have thought that you couldn't build a successful business on shameless self-promotion and bottled piss? The sad thing is that a number of the cheques that his mouth wrote that had no chance of ever being cashed were written to charities and small community rinks. While we're at it, let's just go ahead and hand him the...

Biggest douche of the year: The aforementioned Frank D'Angelo.

Best play: Bryan Westbrook downing the ball at the Cowboys 1 yard line. In an era where all we hear about is the selfishness of professional athletes Westbrook's decision to forgo personal accomplishment to absolutely ensure his team's victory (in a meaningless game) ranks as the most commendable single sporting play of the year.

Best merger: Sporting goods giant Dick's Sporting Goods buys smaller California rival Chick's for $40 million. $40 million gets you Chicks with Dicks. That could draw some strange traffic.

Most disappointing Google search: 13 individuals from 8 different countries have ended up on The World Wide Net Web looking for "office decorum". They were all likely very disappointed when their search for tips on how to act at the Christmas party or which co-workers you should buy holiday gifts for brought them to my post on dropping a deuce. I guess there isn't much else written on the subject. This should also serve as notice that I know exactly what your keywords are when you google me (I'm talking to you, "World Wide Net Web or Plus-size and topless").

Best new television show: Dirty Sexy Money. I'm not sure if it's got the legs to go on for more than a season or two but it's been a pleasant surprise so far particularly given the fact that it looked like something I would hate.

Most intriguing unanswered question: Do gay guys have two separate stags before they get married/civilly united or do they just have a Jack and Jack party? If so, do you invite your future husband? How could you have a stag without your best mate? Who's going to pay the stripper and buy your beer? Then again the whole idea of a stag is one last night out without the future misses/mister. The whole subject is very thought provoking. This should be the basis for an entire column.

Clearest sign that popular culture has destroyed art: Dirty Dancing: The Musical. This is what passes for "going to the theatre" these days. Bill Shakespeare would be freakin' pissed. The predominance of contest winners, runners-up and Disney stars on the Billboard charts, in a year when The National, Editors and Pela all had new albums, sends the same message. Yes, that was another sad attempt by me to look cool. I've been in bed by 11 on three of the last four Saturday nights. Please don't tear down my facade.

Well that's it for 2007. A great year for me but only an average to mediocre year for the world as a whole. C'mon 2008, step it up!

Happy Holidays everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The lost weekend

In order to avoid reminding myself how miserable my weekend was I won't rehash the litany of misfortunes I suffered through. Let's just say it started with a broken car window and ended with me searching through snow banks for my wedding ring with my father-in-law. Nothing that happened in between those two events went much smoother. I should probably mention that the snowbanks were outside a wretched strip joint and it was during the worst December snow storm in over 60 years. Ah, bad times.

Here's one piece of advice. If you have any suspicion that your car window may be frozen do not try and open it. If that means opening your door at a R.I.D.E. stop of suffering through your own flatulence, so be it. Power windows don't react well to being forced open. Essentially I broke my wife's car with a fart. That's something that no one can take away from me.

As I've said before having a newborn softens the sharp edges of even the most miserable experience. This weekend was a perfect case in point. Given all the crap I suffered through (did I mention the Bills season ended on Sunday and I was so tired from all the digging that I fell asleep missing the whole 4th quarter?) I should be deep in the doldrums. Well I guess I am to some degree, but without the joy I get from staring at little Charlie I would be substantially deeper. In fact, I would look like this guy (the guy in the middle)...

So what happened to cause such a sour face? He, being Portuguese International and Man U player Christiano Ronaldo, didn't win FIFA footballer/soccerer of the year. Poor guy is only the third best in the entire world. No wonder he looks like a ten year old who ended up with a case of dental floss at the end of "pass the parcel". The guy who won (I think he was one of our summer students) and the runner-up (Gerard Depardieu Jr.) seem much happier with their results. Maybe the bronze clashes with Christiano's anklets.

The look on Ronaldo's mug reminds us that occasionally life stinks for all of us and the worst thing that we can do is act like a complete suck about it. Hell, my daughter takes disappointment better than this complete and total douche and she's a few weeks short of her 6 month birthday. It's Christmas for Pete's sake. Buck up and enjoy what you have (I'm talking to myself as much as anyone here). At least be thankful you're not Christiano Ronaldo.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In a hurry, not a total dick

I had the very unpleasant experience of walking through the Toronto underground yesterday during the panhandling crackdown protests. The unpleasantness was not due to any sort of confrontation or even catching a whiff of one of the anti-globalization, anti-hygiene professional protest groupies. Rather it was more of an internal discomfort. In full business attire, hurriedly on my way to a Bay Street luncheon at Canoe I couldn't have looked more the part of the self-absorbed, money-obsessed finance type. Seemingly I was the prototype of the person they were targeting with this presentation of guilt. What bothers me is that, at least in my mind, that's not me. At the luncheon I felt as out of place sitting in a room of spoiled, arrogant financiers who whined about the presence of the great unwashed in their underground and the great hardships caused by the mild delays, as I did with the homeless guys, OCAPers and anarchists participating in the protest. The question is how do I identify myself as someone who wears a suit but isn't a total dick? For those of us that give a crap about the plight of those less fortunate yet happen to carry a briefcase to work isn't there some way for us to brand ourselves as decent guys? Is there a scarf I can wear or some sort of button?

Outside my office there are always a group of earnest (though pushy) volunteers asking passerbys if they can spare a moment for Sick Kids. How do you answer that? By walking by you are essentially saying, "no, I'm pro-child illness". I don't have the time to stop and explain to them my views on charitable giving, nonetheless how and where I allocate it. I usually don't even have the time to say "sorry I don't have any time". Of course they don't know any of this. They just assume that I'm yet another guy who couldn't care about anything other than minimizing his taxes and maximizing his blackberry reception. Some sort of all-purpose "not a total dick" indicator would somehow express all that a long conversation with exhibits and tax receipts would without any time or energy required, while most importantly eliminating the nasty looks of disdain from the fundraising community. Sometimes people who are raising money will give you a sticker or ribbon to indicate that you have already contributed but that will usually only last for a short period. Over the holidays you may come across the same money-raiser dozens of times over a few week period. There's no way you're going to wake up every morning and remember to put on your Salvation Army ribbon or your "I support those without taste buds" sticker. Besides, there are so many worthwhile charities to support that come Christmas Eve you may look like a well-decorated general. God help you if you want to switch coats. It'll be an hour before you get out of the house with all the pinning, re-pinning, unsticking and sticking. Invariably you'll end up walking by someone you've already given your hard-earned money to with no way of indicating how wonderfully charitable you are. You'll just get the same dirty look that those greedy Bay Street types deservedly receive. I know giving should be done for giving's sake rather than any self-aggrandizing reason (the second wing of the Steve Holt home for Tom Brady's forgotten children will not bare my name) but it would be nice to at least avoid being lumped in with the selfish grinches of the world.

As far as I know no such brand or identifying piece of clothing exists. There are certainly things you can wear that say "I'm probably a decent person" (a Brian Moorman jersey comes to mind, as does a Nun's habit) or the opposite (anything with the words "Bush Cheney 04" or "Red Sox" on it), but nothing that definitively says "I should not be made to feel guilty about walking by fundraisers". I guess we can't have everything we want. As my grandfather once told me, "don't go chasing rainbows as you may run into the side of a gay bar". I don't quite now what he meant by that. Presumably the only solution is to just keep on giving. It's probably better to be a bit short on pocket change and a bit long on charity, than vice versa.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Trailblazer gets his due

Given the propensity of the sports media to beat to death any storyline with even the slightest whiff of broader societal implications, I'm shocked the story of one of the newest Toronto Raptors hasn't received more attention. While much has been written and broadcast about the rookie Jamario Moon, with his smalltown upbringing and circuitous route to the NBA, little is known of his teammate, Carlos Delfino.

Fans have taken to Delfino's quiet intensity, quick delivery and surprisingly solid defense. What has gone unnoticed is that Carlos has achieved this success while also carrying the burden of being the first North American professional athlete who happens to be a transsexual. On the court Carlos is just another teammate, busting his tail helping the Raptors in their efforts to repeat as Atlantic Division Champions. The only difference is that before the game while the other players are taping up their ankles and tying up their shoes, Carlos is tweezing his eyebrows and touching up his eyeliner. He's just one of the guys, albeit a much prettier guy.

Good for Carlos. Tranny or not, he's been a great addition to the team. Presumably years of gender confusion have toughened him to the rigors of being a professional basketball player. He certainly seems unfazed by anything that's happened so far this season. A friend of mine tried to convince me that Delfino was just "very metro". I don't buy it. Have you ever seen him and Carmelita from Dirty Sexy Money (a surprisingly good show) in the same place, at the same time ? Didn't think so.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Charlie's First Christmas

With but 21 days until Christmas I already feel stressed that I won't have anytime to actually enjoy the season. Halls remain undecked, eggs have yet to be nogged and I need to build a chimney in a hurry. As far as I can tell Charlie is pretty excited about her first Christmas and I don't want to disappoint her, particularly now when I don't need to spend a great deal of money to make all her holiday wishes come true. I'll wait until she starts asking for expensive electronics or designer clothing to do that. She has started "saying" a great deal recently but, to be honest, I can't understand a single word she says. I think she may be from out east. Regardless of what she's saying the tone is quite clear. She wants to remember this Christmas fondly.

The simplest way to ensure this is to get a photo taken of her with Santa. That should provide her, and us, with a treasured keepsake from her first Noel. Originally I thought this may be a bit of a challenge to orchestrate until I heard that PetSmart is offering pet owners the chance to get a picture of Ol' St. Nick with their cat or dog. I'm assuming it's only cats and dogs but who knows? It seems to me like you've already crossed a line separating ludicrous and non-ludicrous behaviour by facilitating such photography so why not throw in a ferret or a tarantula. This is good news for us as it presents options. If the Mall Santa seems a bit uncomfortable with a squirmy baby we can always head over to PetSmart where I'm sure their Santa would be thrilled to have something diapered on his lap.

That raises an interesting question. Is there a hierarchy of Santas and if so how are ranks determined? The PetSmart gig strikes me as one not particularly high on the list of desirable assignments so how is it determined who has to take it? I saw a gentleman who was clearly of Middle Eastern descent dressed up as Santa waiving a sign outside of a cell phone store in Florida the other week. Let's presume that's the bottom of the ladder. He was slender and had a visible black moustache. At the other end of the spectrum would be the Santa from the parade float. He's the fat guy who grows his own long white beard and has prescription spectacles. Between those two extremes things get a little less clear. Who's to say who deserves the gig at the high-end mall and who's stuck ringing the bell outside the liquor store? Is there a measure of a jolliness that also accounts for creepiness? Is there a scale of redcheekedness that won't favour problem drinkers? I wouldn't know where to begin.

I recall a conversation with a former co-worker who told me that her husband was a rabbi at an old folk's home. This was a position he had "graduated" to after serving as a rabbi on a cruise ship. I found this all very fascinating. Unfortunately I didn't think to ask her what his next logical progression would be nor where he would have been relegated to had he not made the grade on the cruise ship. Presumably with rabbis it would be a bit easier to establish rank based on experience and mastery of the rabbinical texts. What makes a good or bad Santa is a bit less tangible. There's a chance that given the less scientific approach to determining which Santas get the plum gigs and which ones are forced to pose with some idiot's poodle we could end up finding a hidden gem of a Santa somewhere unexpected. If anyone out there knows of a great, clean Santa please let me know as my time to research this is already quite limited.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Bills fan in North Florida

It appears as though I've mentioned religion one too many times in this forum given that the most recent banner ad is for something called "God's Final Witness". Whatever the Hell that is, I cannot possibly endorse it. Presumably it's something insane so I recommend you avoid it. If nothing else it may get you on an e-mail spam list you'd probably prefer not to be on.

Let's get back to the important stuff, your Buffalo Bills. After watching them on Sunday in Jacksonville I'm not 100% sure these are still my Buffalo Bills. It was interesting travelling to Jacksonville, a vibrant, youthful city, to watch the Bills. For those of you who have never been to Florida's First Coast, it really is a very unique part of the state. The weather is more moderate and there are few, if any, retirees or tourists. If nothing else, its worth a trip for the seafood which tends to be served in a manner showcasing its freshness and variety, not the ease in which it can be fried as is the focus of most Floridian tourist traps. Anyways, when we showed up on gameday it was not difficult identifying those who had travelled from upstate New York to watch their team. How can I say this nicely...there is something distinctive about woman from Buffalo versus their Floridian counterparts that goes beyond the Bills merchandise. As we drove towards the stadium I remarked to the other three people travelling with me "I guess these are our people". I imagine Stefan had the same awkward feeling when he brought a date somewhere that Steve Urkell's old friends were hanging out. It was also not dissimilar to what Matt Damon must experience when Ben Affleck shows up at an Ocean's 11/12/13 premiere. (Ed: I couldn't chose which one I liked better so I doubled up)

The game started with the obligatory jingoistic patriotism...and by jingoistic I mean freakin' awesome! I was able to sit back and smirk at the contrived post-Thanksgiving cheese-fest until four F-15s flew overhead in formation. Instantly I went from cynical left-leaning foreigner to flag-waving zealot. Thank God there wasn't an Army recruiting centre ( nearby or I would be in Basrah by now. You can literally feel the fly-by. It reaches deep into your bones to bring out even the most hidden flagophile. Damn the $25k pricetag or the fact that air defense is rendered temporarily unavailable, I need to start everyday with a fly-by. I would be twice the man I currently am.

Unfortunately the action on the field didn't measure up to the action flying awesomely low above the stadium. The Bills performance was reminiscent of recent "Bad JP" efforts. He made some decent plays, couldn't make the big play and ultimately made a few crippling mistakes. The defense was decent until they got the Jags into third and long situations in which they were woeful. An overly simplistic post-mortem goes something like this: JP only makes one, or even two, or his costly turnovers and the defense stops the Jags on 3 or 4 of their 5 "third and longs of 10+ yards" (as opposed to only stopping them once) and the result would likely have been different. The defense is banged up and undersized so I'll give them a bit of a pass but in terms of JP, it's time to move on. It's not me, it's you. One day you may develop the ability to make better decisions but we can't afford to wait. Trent Edwards may not have your arm or swagger but his time has come. In the end the Bills did what I asked which was to give JP every chance to prove he wasn't the guy. It pains me to say it, but the Losman era is officially over in Buffalo.

So back to the fans. Gameday at Alltel Stadium, the home of the Jags, was remarkably different than a Sunday afternoon at the Ralph. This was true in terms of what I didn't see (vomiting, fighting, fat chicks taking their shirts off) and what I did see (kids, sunshine, courteous behaviour). This is clearly another sign of my advancing age and changing point of view now that I have a kid but this experience was a bit of an eye-opener. The fans were still loud and the beer was still flowing so it still felt like a football game as opposed to the whitewashed experience of the SkyDome or the Air Canada Centre. Now ultimately Buffalo can't help the fact that they have terrible weather and a crumbling stadium but there has to be something they can do to make it so you don't feel so dirty when you get home after a game. Maybe they can just import some Southerners to bring a touch of friendliness to the proceedings. The essence of this is best displayed in a story from my encounter with a local man in the men's room. Weird... Let's continue. I'm at the urinal beside a couple of Jags fans as the game is wrapping up who are in the midst of a not so hilarious debate as to whether it is pronounced Loss-man or Lose-man. The guy beside me then notices me and says "Oh sorry didn't see the Bills fan" in what I presumed was a sarcastic tone. As I'm walking out he follows me to apologize! "I'm really sorry man, I like to be a good sport so I didn't mean any disrespect". I was flabbergasted. What a gentleman! In Buffalo the guy would have followed me out to continue berating me or to punch me in the face.

Please don't read this as any indication that my Bills fanhood is in question. As I have already stated I will follow this team regardless of the depths of Hell they bring me to. It was just interesting to catch a glimpse of how the other half (or 95%) lives. Perhaps fans in Jacksonville will read this and get a sense of how good you have it. They haven't been selling out all their games so they may be taking their team somewhat for granted.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Role of a Lifetime

We returned home from our not-so-southern getaway (more on this later this week) to find a very interesting proposal awaiting us. My mother-in-law's church has requested that our daughter Charlie play a role in their Christmas nativity play. Oh, and it's not just any role. They have asked that she take the headlining gig as the one and only, our Lord and Saviour, baby Jesus. This is fascinating in a number of ways. Firstly, we are not a member of the church, or any church for that matter. Charlie has never been to this house of worship nor, do I believe, has she met any of the individuals organizing the play. As far as I can recall we have not sent them any of her headshots. I'm just kidding, we didn't have promotional headshots taken. We're not crazy people. There appears to be a possibility that she has been selected purely due to some good "word of mouth". I can believe that but obviously I'm somewhat biased, as regular readers could attest to. Perhaps a celestial message was sent to the play's directors that a particularly messianic baby was born to a family in Greektown. It's a pretty good size church so presumably some of the parishioners have given birth recently. It's not a Catholic Church so I can't say that with complete certainty. Assuming that at least a handful of the actual churchgoers have introduced potential thespians in the past year they must be devastated that the most prized role is being offered to an outsider. Imagine being told that your kid wasn't Jesus-y enough. That would be crushing. Maybe the whole congregation will be up in arms over the perceived outsourcing of Baby Jesus. Do we want to send our helpless daughter into the midst of this potential controversy? The mix of religion, offshoring of labour, jilted parents and child actors seems like a particularly incendiary one.

The other issue to consider is the aforementioned fact that we aren't members of any church. Both my wife and I were brought up in loosely religious Waspy homes with her church attendance record being slightly better than mine. Mine could be accurately classified as non-existent. I'm not anti-church I just haven't chosen one yet. I've also been hesitant to give up my Sunday mornings. Given that I haven't adopted a faith would I be in violation of some unwritten rule by allowing my daughter to assume the role of the Son of God in a play commemorating his birth? If she was asked to play a camel, some Myrrh or anything a little less significant I wouldn't be too concerned, but depicting Baby JC seems to me like a fairly meaningful commitment. If I'm to allow her to join the ranks of Willem Dafoe and Jim Caviezel am I implicitly signing her up for something? Will the play be rudely interrupted by one of the jilted parents of one of the less Jesus-y babies angrily declaring "That Baby Jesus wasn't even baptized!". Would we be chased from the church by angry townsfolk with torches and pitchforks? I hardly think turning one's daughter into the Salmon Rushdie of North Toronto constitutes sound parenting. What happens if word of her blasphemous portrayal spreads? I guess that trip to Jacksonville would end up being her first, and her last, to the southern United States.

On top of these quandaries we have the issues of gender confusion, the potential pitfalls of child acting and the additional responsibilities in an already crowded December. Everything seems to be pointing towards us declining the offer, plus she's not 100% sold on the script. Why then, am I considering it? What is it that is so intriguing to me about having my daughter play a role in a kids' play? I can safely say I have no desire to live vicariously through her given my own successful stint on the stage (Chippendale's alumni 1994-1997, don't act like you don't recognize me) so there must be something about what this role may do for her, or for us, that speaks to me. Maybe we should give religion a shot. Professional sports sure aren't working as my altar of worship so an actual altar of worship may be worth trying. If nothing else it will give us a holiday experience that doesn't involve rampant commercialism or over-the-top political correctness. You know what? I may have just talked myself into doing this. Watch out everyone, here comes the best Baby Jesus the world has ever seen!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Degree of Difficulty

Sometimes I do things without fully thinking out the possible consequences. That occasionally leads me into difficult situations. Tomorrow will be a perfect example of this. A few months back I booked a flight for the family's first plane trip. We're heading down to Jacksonville for a little sun (little being the key word as North Florida is hardly West Palm Beach), some cross-border shopping and what turns out to be a critical game for two teams seeking an AFC wildcard spot; Bills v. Jags. The timing couldn't be better as the weather's making a turn for the worse and the stock market's taking a turn for the absolutely terrible. Here's the idiotic thing. In my infinite wisdom I booked the flight on "the busiest travel day of the year"! What a freakin' mouthbreather I am. Charlie is a very easygoing kid but even she has her limits. Presumably a flight, with layovers, will be a bit of a challenge. Instead of easing into this I decided to up the ante by about 30-35 million people. This is akin to taking your first driver's ed course at Talladega in the middle of a NASCAR race or a dermatology student taking on Edward James Olmos as their first client. Man, I need some more up-to-date references. This has the potential to end very badly. We may not make it out of O'Hare. I'm imagining Planes, Trains and Automobiles minus the cunning of the late John Candy to save us.

I need to relax. Regardless of what happens I have five days before the game and six days before the best restaurant in Jacksonville hosts it's weekly 50% off the entire wine list night (remember what I said about the Americans and their service industry a couple months back. I wasn't kidding!). Worst case we rent a car. I can just borrow a couple of Charlie's diapers and drive through the night like that astronaut chick. Astronauts are American heroes. That's right, I could be an American Hero....the Greatest American Hero. Believe it not, I'm walking on air...

Anyways, the point of all this is to say that I probably won't be writing anything for the next week or so. Consider it my bye week. For non-football fans "bye weeks" are not the same as "bi weeks", unless you're Bob Kraft. There, that's my random Patriots rip for today. As far as I'm concerned they're all bad people, each and every one of them.

Wish me luck. I'll leave you with this gift of Thanksgiving. It has nothin' to do with nothin' but it sure made me smile. You can add your own caption if you'd like.

"Kirk, you've met Jesus from the Phoenix office right?"

Corporate Jesus may be my favorite picture ever. I've literally spent the last 45 minutes looking at it and giggling.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Are you a douchebag?

My regular readers will be aware that I use the term "douchebag" rather often. This word, along with its more to-the-point short form "douche", is in the midst of a great resurgence. Perhaps other derogatory terms from 1980s-early 90s such as dipshit or dickweed will also make comebacks. We can only hope. The uniquely great thing about douchebag, however, is that it was evolved. In its earliest forms this would be the epitome of the douchebag....

Self-righteous, overly fashion conscious and ridiculously primped. Interestingly, just as in Ted McGinley's day the jeans and blazer look has returned as a staple of the douche's wardrobe. The douchebag has always been characterized by both a look and a personality type. Both facets must be in place for true douchebaggery to occur. Today's douche is, however, a much more dangerous creature. Across our cities and suburbs a greater number of douches exist than ever before. They clog up our shopping centres, deplete our haircare supplies and poison our air with the sound of terrible music and souped-up engines (more about this later).

What I've given you so far is a very general diagnosis of what makes a douche a douche. Self-diagnosis on this basis would admittedly be quite difficult particularly given the lack of self awareness on behalf of your average douche. Besides, I've proably used a few too many big words. Right now your average douche may be asking his fellow douche "Hey Brody, what does rig-hit-ous mean. Is that something I should slip into girls' drinks?". To provide some further clraity I'll provide some more concrete symptoms that can help you identify your potential affliction. Then and only then can we work towards a cure. Here are some signs that you may, in fact, be a total douchebag:

1. You bought a car, took it home and did something to it. You lowered it, you put some running lights on it, you did something stupid to the muffler to make it louder, you tinted the windows, had a fin put on or you put some decals on it that say something self-congratulatory or derogatory to other motorists. Pretty much any detailing puts you firmly in the douche camp. If your car is yellow you get bonus points.

2. Do you buy sports merchandise for purely fashion reasons? Team allegiance is a rather important issue for many people so for you to sport a Yankees hat or Barcelona jersey because it matches your wristbands could be construed as being very offensive. If you couldn't participate in a conversation regarding that team and its current state of affairs you shouldn't be wearing their stuff. If you were wearing a priest's colour you would be expected to hear people's confessionals so why should a team jersey be any different?

3. Could your facial hair be described as "sculpted"? If so, put down your rum and diet and go get yourself a razor. Note, if you choose your drinks based on calorie count or carbs you are a super-douche. There is no argument.

4. Are there pictures of you and your buddies standing around that could be mistaken as promotional shots for a boy band? If so, it's Douches wild for the whole lot of you! Look for the Zoolander facial expressions, hand gestures and general posturing. No one will be smiling or holding a bottle of 50.

5. Black guys can't be douchebags. Sorry, I just don't see it. Perhaps one day we'll have a Jackie Robinson of douchebaggery. If I had to put my money on one guy it would be Wayne Brady. White guys pretending to be black guys are, of course, welcome members of the douche crew.

6. Do you style your hair before:
- going to a sporting event?
- working out?
The working out thing actually happens. I saw it with my own two eyes. A tooootal douche at my gym sculpted his fauxhawk before going to work out. He also sang along with the song on his iPod in a very disruptively loud voice. I was originally angered until I realized he was singing along to a Jon Bon Jovi song. At that point it just became funny, particularly given how hard he was trying to hit the notes. That's another douche sign right there, awful taste in music often skewing towards douche-produced music such as boy bands, Sean Desmond and, of course, Euro techno (often heard emerging from the previously described customized automobiles).

7. Are you a complete misogynist predator? Even the most hardened douche won't admit to this (perhaps because they don't understand the word "misogynist") but it's often the case. The hordes of douches that patrol the velvet rope districts are looking for two things: one, mirrors, and two, prey. This is perhaps what's at the root of my anti-douche sympathies. The aesthetics of the douche are irritating but harmless. What lies beneath, however, can be a much more lascivious element. Watch your drinks, ladies.

8. Do you accessorize? A regular guy's accessories are a belt and shoelaces, maybe a watch if you're feeling fancy. The douche's repetoire includes mandanas, wristbands, earring, chains, hats, dog tags and assorted other unnecessaries.

9. Do you speak in an accent that is in any way embellished or altogether made-up? This is a little more subtle indication of the presence of douche but a damning one nonetheless. At work or school you speak in your native Mississauga accent but ramp up to full Portuguese or, even better, the Eminem "8 Mile" as soon as you drop your first $20 cover charge of the evening. Yo wad up, douche?

10. Are you this guy?

or this guy?

11. We're you the twerp in front of me in line at the Ralph for the Bengals game wearing the Brazil sweater? That may be a bit too specific.

12. Take off your sunglasses, hold them so they are hanging straight down and place a medium orange on one of the lenses. If you can see no orange from underneath the sunglasses guess what? You be a douche. If you refused the experiment because you never remove your sunglasses even when indoors or refuse to place produce on your sunglasses for fear of smudging the test is clearly unneccesary in the first place.

13. It's Friday morning. Have you already called to put your name on a guestlist somewhere for this weekend? Perhaps you should just ask them to put down "D. Bag and guest", the guest being your unjustifiably large ego.

If one or more of these apply to you then I regret to inform you that you are a douche. I'm not sure what the prognosis is. Maybe you'll grow out of it, maybe you won't. As evidenced by this guy it can be a terminal condition.

Wow, this guy has it all. The chain, the designer glasses, the undone shirt, an earring, the painfully styled hair and the overly earnest expression. What must the rest of the guys down at the legion think of you? For shame, douchebag, for shame.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Save the Bills, save the world

I really have no idea what I should write about but I know I have something to say today.....

Final score Buffalo 30, New England 17. As the game ends Dick Jauron walks over to Tom Brady and hands him the game ball. This seems odd at first but makes perfect sense given the fact that Brady threw 3 second half interceptions including the last one which was intercepted by Terrence McGee and returned for the game-clinching touchdown. Somewhere Bill Simmons angrily crosses out all the names he had doodled during the game as he fantasized about what it would be like to be Mrs. Bill Welker, Bill Vrabel or Bill Bruschi. He seems fine with his maiden name now. Bill Belichick staggers as we walked towards the tunnel and then literally melts like the nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark leaving nothing but a tattered hoodie. Anthony Hargrove picks up the hoodie, waves it in the air and is now simulating something quite disgusting with it. The stadium is literally shaking from the combined exuberance of the Bills fans and their freedom-loving brethren around the globe.

What just happened there? The last thing I remember was turning my computer on. I think I went all Isaac Mendez. My eyes turned completely white and I just started writing. Amazing....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Call to Arms

As many of you may know the Bills host the axis of evil, otherwise known as the New England Patriots, this Sunday evening. You are probably also aware that the Patriots are undefeated and are being widely heralded as the greatest team ever, likely to run the table from here on in culminating with a Super Bowl victory. I will not bore you by once again recollecting the myriad of offenses that the Patriots have committed and why all good people should stand united against them. Let me just say, without an ounce of hyperbole, they are an affront to football, common decency and the sanctity of all things holy. The oddsmakers in Vegas have the Bills as 15.5 point underdogs. For those of you unfamiliar with gambling that is as large of a spread as you'll ever see favoring a team playing on the road. Essentially they are saying that the Bills are as likely to win this game as Nell Carter is to win this season's Celebrity Fit Club. Rest in peace, my sweet flower, rest in peace.

Allow me to drift into fantasy land for a second. What would happen if, dare I say it, the Bills.....won? How would the world be a better place if the Bills not only covered the spread but....won? Would there be any reason left to question the existence of a higher being if....THE BUFFALO BILLS BEAT THE MOTHERF%!#ING NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS! I'm positively euphoric with the mere thought dancing in my head. The rest of the season would be rendered meaningless as the Bills team would be too busy accepting keys to various cities to actually play their remaining 6 games. They would be welcomed as liberators wherever they went. We could start using the word Marshawn as an all-purpose verb like the Smurfs did with "smurf" or the fake goth on this year's Amazing Race does with "goth" (Ed: I can only imagine what real goths did when they saw this. If they weren't so emaciated and sickly they'd probably go kick his/her ass). I would end every conversation with "I love you" regardless of who I was talking to. The sick would miraculously be healed, the annoying would be quieted and the unwashed would be deoderized. We would enter a period of unmatched joy and tranquility.

Why, you ask, would a silly football game mean anything to anyone outside a small group of diehard Bills fan? Don't for a second think this is just about some meaningless football game. I cannot stress enough how important it would be for the betterment of society that the Bills win on Sunday. If the dirty, cheating Patriots are allowed to go undefeated this season we will have essentially allowed the bad guys to win. We will have lost the culture war for good. If Bill Belichick and his henchmen are rewarded for their atrocious behaviour how could I ever teach my daughter the difference between right or wrong? Here's how a theoretical conversation with Charlie will go in a few years if we don't stop the Patriots here:

Me/Dad: Charlie, it was wrong for you to steal that car and set that farm ablaze!

Charlie: Why Daddy? How can I be expected to know what I did was wrong when a football team is rewarded for running up the score and blatantly cheating?

And she would be right! All moral authority would be lost. Society will descend into anarchy and we will have no one to blame but ourselves. We cannot let that happen. The time has come to take a stand, the time has come to beat back the forces of evil, the time has come for the good guys to win! In defeating the Patriots we can essentially go back in time and refuse the apple from the serpent, thus casting evil from our world. Hell, we may even prevent the Armageddon that our old friend Prophet Isaiah has been promising. Come together all of God's Children and let's speak in one resounding voice! It ends here New England, you bunch of friggin' douchebags!

Take the Bills, with the points.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hello Dalai!

Sorry for the lack of columns over the past week. There was a bit of a misunderstanding involving Charlie and a group of Tibetan monks who showed up, unannounced, early last week. They were under the misguided impression that my daughter was the 15th incarnation of the Dalai Lama. Given the language barrier and a general level of pigheadedness on behalf of the monks it took some time to convince them that Charlie was not the incarnation of anyone. Apparently they were unaware that the 14th Dalai Lama was still alive thus making it kinda tough for him to be reincarnated. Supposedly he left his place a few years back to go hang out with Richard Gere and accept honorary degrees. No one bothered telling the monks who understandably assumed he was dead. As to how they came to the conclusion that Charlie was their next Gyalwa Rinpo, I have no idea. Perhaps cuteness is a determining factor, as it clearly was with the existing Lama, or the ability to kick really hard with one's right leg while making a high-pitched squealing noise. Other than that she's an unlikely choice given her pro-capitalist sympathies which should have been quite evident to the monks given her vast collection of worldly possessions. Thankfully, through the magic of Wikipedia I was finally able to convince my Tibetan visitors that the current Dalai Lama is still very much alive (and that the Dalai Lamas have to be think they would have looked that up themselves). They stuck around a few more days so they could watch the Bills game with us. Their flights home were cheaper if they stayed over the weekend so it made sense that they stayed.

Running low on entertainment options I took the guys to see Jaws 3

As you could imagine explaining the rules of American football to a group of Tibetan monks was a bit of a challenge. By the end of yesterday's early games they seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the general rules but couldn't get their heads around why Bills tight end Michael Gaines decided to step backwards in an effort to avoid tacklers rather than just fall forward over the first down marker during the winning drive. You and me both, Lobsang. Besides that they all seemed to enjoy the game and were pretty stoked about the Bills four game winning streak. This we can all agree on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cancel those New Year's 2014 plans

According to Isaiah Robertson ("Prophet Isaiah") of Niagara Falls, New York, The second coming of Jesus is scheduled for 2014 in Niagara Falls. The story appeared in the Buffalo News. It's nice to see them cover other apocalypses, not just the Bills. Apparently JC is a big fan of wax museums and mini-golf. No word on whether or not he will appear at Fallsview. I wonder who would open for Jesus? Jeff Foxworthy may be a good choice. I presume his material is clean enough as not to offend the Son of God while also being cruddy enough so JC won't have to worry about being upstaged. It is unclear as to whether or not the "big guy" is heading to the Falls for its natural beauty, the convenient amount of water to turn to boiling lava or just simply because, like most people heading to Niagara, his buddies are too cheap to go to Vegas. The Falls will turn to blood and fire, they'll be a bunch of smoke, fireworks, cotton candy etc.....I actually stopped reading after a while as the story became less and less entertaining, regardless this is all very exciting. Presumably there's no way for Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to drill a hole into Niagara Falls, fill it with nuclear explosives and blow the hell out of it so it looks like our fate is sealed.

If we're to believe Prophet Isaiah, and he's given us no reason not to, that gives us a good seven years to enjoy ourselves before the end of days. I really should learn another language. I've been saying that for years and have done absolutely SDA about it. Other than that I'm good. I married my university sweetheart and have a beautiful baby girl. On top of that I once got to tour the capital building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and, on a separate occasion, saw Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake in the airport. I have lived a very full life even if it must end in a river of molten brimstone in only seven short years. I'm assuming I won't be one of the select few chosen to ride on the Maid of the Mist thus saving them from eternal damnation. From the "holy rollers" I've met that's one bus trip I'll gladly pass on. My eternity doesn't include 100 Huntley Street (and it has an open bar). My only regret, if I have one, is that I missed out on a mid-life crisis. Given that the world will come to an end during my 37th year I won't be able to enjoy a year or two of absurd decisions and bizarre behaviour. My midlife crisis would have occurred between my 18th-19th birthday when I had no hope of affording a corvette or any need for a terrible looking rug. That's a shame.

So there you have it. You've got seven years everyone (only 2,555 shopping days left). If you've been putting off those safari plans or procrastinating about coming out to your Ottawa Senators' teammates there is no time like the present. There's no point saving for a rainy day when you now know that on that "rainy day" you'll be too busy dodging hellfire to enjoy yourself. Besides, while I have no cause to doubt Prophet Isaiah there's always the chance that his math is off a few years. Open that bottle of wine you've been saving, tell people you love them even if you don't and take your boxers to the dry cleaners. Enjoy life while you can because the end is near....well near-ish.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

C'est L'Halloween!

To celebrate this godless holiday I've dressed up as a dipshit yuppie. It's a bit less adventurous than last year when I dressed up as Bennett, the bad guy from Commando (played by the second most famous Vernon Wells). In retrospect, that wasn't the greatest choice. The chainmail sleeveless shirt and the creepy moustache made for alot of unwelcome advances on the subway. Once I got to the office people just thought I was dressed as Freddy Mercury. Now, as we look back some 20 years later, why did we find that guy (Bennett, not Mercury) so menacing? He would look more at home shooting a super-soaker into a crowd of parade watchers than leading a band of murderous mercenaries. Even the name of the movie has taken on a more salacious meaning. I may need an actual costume for after work. Unfortunately my Marshawn grill and dreads kit hasn't arrived in time so I'll be forced to improvise. In a pinch I could just dress up in head-to-toe black and go as Bill Belichick's soul. My other option is to put on a wig and talk in a really deep voice. I doubt there will be many other people dressed as Jennifer Hedger this year.

It appears as though I'll be getting my wish and Jesus P will be back behind center on Sunday. In true Halloween spirit he should be able to carve up the Bengals secondary. Hell, they've even got orange uniforms. There couldn't be a more timely opponent. Of course the porosity of the aforementioned defense will give JP's detractors an easy out. Sure he threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns but it was against the Bengals. Edwards was on his way to a sub-200 yard game against the woeful Jets but that's blindly ignore that for now. Don't let the facts cloud your decision-making.

Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jonathan Powers, hand over your crown!

As the good book says there is no greater sin than allowing your guests to leave hungry...or sober. I think its safe to say that Charlie, Mrs. Holt and I were successful in avoiding that offense in hosting a very successful Iron Chef contest this past Saturday. The two teams brought the art of cookery and creativity to unprecedented levels. With nothing but our wits and guile six people transformed the simple squash, our theme ingredient, into a collection of mouthwateringly beautiful dishes. In true Iron Chef style I would have been honoured to have fallen to Marty and his team had the judges deemed them more worthy. In the end we won but the decision could have just as easily gone the other way. Here is a photo of the elated champions:

Oops, that's the other squash contest we won (that's me on the left). What a wonderful day that was.

On Sunday we embark on our annual pilgrimage to the Ralph to watch our beloved Bills. This marks the 8th year we've made the trip. The rejuvenated Bills have ridden a two-game winning streak towards respectability and a 3-4 record. If NFL contests were only 59 minutes long the Bills would be 5-2 and sitting in the driver's seat for a playoff berth but you know what they say, if my aunt had balls she'd be Erin Davis. As with most every year we watch a Bills team with uncertainty at the quarterback position. I didn't think I had the energy to wade into this debate before listening to the post-game show on WGR 550. The ridiculousness of their analysis, however, has served to wake me up. The hosts (prominent members of the "Edwards propaganda crew") continued the beatification of Trent Edwards despite another mediocre performance, which included another ill-advised throw that led to an interception. This is quickly becoming Edwards' signature move, much like Ted DiBiase's "Million Dollar Dream". If you had only listened to these two while not actually watching the game you could have come away with the impression that until being felled by a wrist injury, Edwards had looked like Joe Montana with an even more Patton-like command over his team. They even went so far as to claim that Edwards left the game with the lead showing the same regard for the truth that they do for objectivity. Edwards then gave way to the "reckless gunslinger" JP Losman who's 19 yard completion (that led to the go ahead field goal) was critiqued with an amount of venom usually only reserved for poorly-chosen Oscar dresses. Meanwhile, nothing was mentioned about Edwards momentously bad interception. He gets a pass on a play that could have cost us the game while JP gets raked over the coals for successfully gunning a 19 yard pass? Now that is some impressively delusional partisanship. I think we've found the next two candidates to be Dubya's press secretary. The 85 yard touchdown pass that JP threw to Evans that officially clinched the victory was similarly ripped apart with the hosts even suggesting that JP (and perhaps Evans) went against the coaches to call that play. Usurpers! How dare they! I also heard the two of them tried to buy yellowcake from Niger. Of course, JP didn't hit Evans in stride but he put the ball in a spot where the team's best weapon could make a play, something Edwards does not yet seem capable of. Nothing was said of Edwards lame duck "bomb" to a wide open Evans in the Ravens game that caused him to cut his route short thus turning what should have been an easy touchdown into a long completion. His other attempt to hit Evans deep in that game was short and over his wrong shoulder. Again, nothing was mentioned. Edwards is the champion of the Buffalo sports media and the Bills brass. No evidence to the contrary will cause them to second-guess their premature anointment. Of course they brought up the intellectually lazy argument that the team has a better record with Edwards than with JP this season. They also have a better record with Di Giorgio at middle linebacker than Pozluszny. Let's just cut Poz now to save our self the trouble of doing it in the offseason. They're winning games in spite of Edwards, not because of him.

As I've said before (perhaps not in this forum), Edwards is probably the starter next year but Losman is the better quarterback right now. In today's NFL there's no reason to play for next year if you have any hope of making the playoffs, particularly if it's been so long so you've been there. Look around the NFL. There are very few decent quarterbacks. Just look at the putrid list of has-beens, never-weres and has-weres that took snaps this past Sunday. The downside risk of giving up on a potentially solid QB far outweighs the loss of some extra snaps to prepare Edwards for next year. Who can say with absolute confidence that JP has been given a chance to completely disprove that he is a quality NFL quarterback? Let's have a thorough evaluation of what we have before we move on to the next guy, who has done even less to prove he's an NFL-calibre pivot.

The sad thing about this is that like most sports debates the sensationalist media forces the fans to take one side or the other. Trent Edwards seems like a great guy and may turn out to be a very good quarterback. Unfortunately the vitriolic discourse around who should play quarterback makes me feel that I need to despise him because I want JP to start. Can't we just look at this rationally without having to turn this into a civil war? We're all pulling for the same team here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


The Csonka comment was one thing (in fact I took that as a compliment) but the Rachael Ray comment crossed the line. What began as a friendly contest has now crossed over to bloodfeud status. This is the literary equivalent of me ripping the microphone away from Mean Gene. In the immortal words of Mike Tyson "I'm going to rip out your heart, all praise be to Allah!". Notice I didn't include his "I want to eat your children" comment as I prefer to avoid eating anything you've made.

Saturday evening will see as one-sided a victory as the world has ever witnessed. It will make the Falkland Islands war look like a triple-overtime playoff game in comparison. This will be about as close as a game of Trivial Pursuit between Stephen Hawking and Miss Teen South Carolina. You will emerge from this as ravaged as Tom Sizemore's liver. If I were you I would be praying that you win the coin toss and go first as the judges will likely swear off food having already found heaven in our creations. Why go on when you have already tasted perfection? Particularly when the next offering is a selection of uninspired gruel that would make Bobby Flay look creative. If they're sadists they may try a bite or two but even those who enjoy discomfort have some standards. While the taste should be offensive the aesthetics will be even less appetizing. I expect something that is to food what the 1980s Vancouver Canucks were to haberdashery.

Imagine this, served to you on a plate...

For those of you who will not be attending don't feel left out. Pair a six pack of Steelback with a three-week old ham followed by brushing your tongue with a toilet brush if you would like to recreate the experience of "enjoying" their meal. Bon Apetit!

Steve Holt throws microphone to the ground, makes slashing motion across throat and nods head intensely while staring into camera.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The next great rivalry

The world needs a new rivalry. The Tupac-Biggie thing is now more than a decade past its most heated battles. Today we have half-ass feuds such as the Kanye-50 Cent album sales thing. An album sales contest!?! What is this, a high school fundraiser? If you tied would you settle it with a dance off? That's nothing more than a competition between opposing lemonade stands compared to the murderous threats and gun battles of Hip Hop's salad days (Ed: likely the first time the phrase "Hip Hop's salad days" has ever been used in the history of the English language). C'mon guys, at least throw a punch! You're making Shannon Doherty look like Suge Knight here. Kobe v. Shaq never escalated to actual violence despite how much joy the image of Shaq pounding on Kobe would have brought to the entire world. Shiites and Sunnis would have high-fived one another at the sight of the Big Aristotle landing a haymaker flush on the Black Mambo's kisser. The calming of tensions likely resulted from the fact that Shaq is just too nice of a guy and the NBA schedules their meetings on Christmas Day. Even a complete ass like Kobe Bryant isn't going to start something on Jesus' birthday. The New England Patriots seem to be waging war against common decency but you can't really call that a rivalry as the Pats are thoroughly trouncing their unprepared opponent. Hopefully decency and all that is good in the world will eventually fight back by asking a defensive tackle to roll over the back of Tom Brady's leg (ala Vince Wilfork on JP Losman in week 3) as he attempts to put the Pats up by 30 with a minute left in a meaningless game. Karma's a bitch, Belichick.

If you're looking for a truly smoldering rivalry look no further than right here. I am starting a fight with fellow columnist Marty at What Would Mike Reno Do. This war will not be waged over perceived slights, copied lyrics or broken hearts. No, this is a legitimate beef with much more at stake...or rather at steak. We will battle IRON CHEF STYLE!!!!!

This Saturday, I and my fellow chefs will do battle with Marty, his wife and my brother-in-law. Bloodlines will be crossed, friends will become combatants, fingers will get nicked. I couldn't be more excited. Both teams will be informed of the theme ingredient at 8:00 AM Monday at which point the contest will begin. One of us will survive to tell a tale of victory, the other.....will probably just pretend it never happened. By the look of things from their team picture below, Marty and his group appear ready to go, though they'll need more than fancy chef hats and matching pants to beat us.Marty and team, you're done! As my accounting teacher used to say, "when you mess with the bull, you get the horns". He had a little hand gesture that went with that. You'll just have to imagine how menacing that looks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A new name and a new destiny!

I spent some time earlier today desperately searching for a saviour. No, I'm not looking for spiritual salvation rather I am terribly in need of someone to help with my abysmal fantasy football team. A raft of injuries and poor bye week planning have turned my once promising season into an awful 2-5 start. The last couple weeks have been particularly ugly as I've been effectively done before the early games are even finished. The team I fielded two weeks ago couldn't have won a fistfight in Korean parliament nonetheless a football game. In order for me to salvage some hope I need someone to emerge from amongst the injured, jailed and/or suspended masses.

My quest turned up one name, Madison Hedgecock. Now, this practice squad call-up fullback isn't going to win me any points in fantasy football but what a fantastic name! Ignore the fact that his first name is the same as 23% of all girls born in North Toronto so far this year. Imagine he just shortened it to "Mad". There is absolutely nothing that couldn't be accomplished with Mad Hedgecock around. While adding him to my actual roster is not going to happen (he's a 266 pound white running back) I have renamed my team "Mad Hedgecock" in his honour. This name change will be to my fantasy season what the arrival of my Marshawn Lynch jersey was to the real NFL season (the Bills are playing almost .700 ball since it showed up on my doorstep). Mad Hedgecock is going to mess you up!

Maybe a name change is what Ol' Britney needs to turn around her equivalent of a 2-5 start to the 21 century. Perhaps something more scholarly like Cynthia Willingham or a more worldly name like Claudette von Schruben. Claudette could save on monograms by just getting a job at the local pharmacy. Man, that's an absolutely idiotic joke. Where am I even going with this? Let's move on, quickly.

Halloween is fast approaching and we haven't yet decided upon a costume for young Charlie. As I finished burping her the other night the burp cloth fell over her head. If it wasn't for the fact that she started crying she would have been the spitting image of Blanket Jackson. Putting a cloth on a baby's head is probably the worst idea for a Halloween costume so we'll definitely need to think of something else. Plus who would want to cover up that little face? Well I guess I will when she turns 12 and gets his first burqa, but for now she should really be sharing her cuteness with everyone. Please let me know if you have any other costume suggestions.

I'm sure dressing her up will finally give me reason to enjoy Halloween after 30 years of indifference. Even as a kid I was never really into trick or treating. I'm sure my lack of a sweet tooth contributed to this, as did a lack of appreciation for firecrackers and petty vandalism as I got older. Now all I associate with the holiday is the grabby neighborhood kids, many of which are well past the age of legitimate trick or treating. Those little buggers ran through our entire supply by 7:30 last year. Perhaps I can put it into their heads that they're stealing candy from a baby though that may not do anything to curb their greed. Charlie will have to work on her sad face. The other option is to have a bag of real candy for those legitimately trick or treating and a bag of crap (sunflower seeds, candy corn and raisins) for when the teenagers approach. At least that should dissuade repeat customers.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We don't know the first thing about circling the wagons!

Yesterday the Bills announced that they are looking to play a regular season game in Toronto next season. This is quite possibly the first step in a permanent move by the franchise. I am of two minds about this. While it will be much more convenient to have the team I support in the same country I live in, the Toronto Bills may not be the same team as the one I currently support. Much of my connection to this team comes from it's Buffalo-ness - the crappy old stadium, the tailgate parties and the passion of the Western New York fans. Watching the Bills in Toronto would be like seeing your favorite band, but instead of a small club their playing at some kid's 16th birthday at the Carlu. Sure its the same set but the environment and the crowd changes the dynamic altogether. Let me illustrate with a real life example. Last year Marty and I went down to the Bills game in early December against the Chargers. We started our day by walking into the gas station, bought a six pack of Blue and then proceeded to drink it on the bench in front of said gas station. We then bought a pair of scalped tickets around the 50 yard line for $50 each. We had a great time at the game and even made friends with many of the people in our section. Here's what the Toronto equivalent will look like. Marty will be replaced by some douche wearing a blazer with some embroidery on it. Let's call him Chazz. We will spend our pre-game in the SKYY Vodka hospitality tent drinking $16 crantinis. Our tickets will be procured by Chazz's investment banker buddy which means we won't have to pay the $275 face but we will have to sit with him as he spends the game throwing out suggestions as to where we should go post-game (except for the first half of each quarter where I will be the only person actually in my seat in our entire section as the rest of the "fans" mingle in the heated concourse). The only contact with the other patrons will be when I'm told to sit down during a touchdown celebration.

Football will be transformed from a passion to a status symbol. The fan base that lives and dies with this team will be gradually replaced by a group that lives and dies with the quality of their blackberry reception. The Bills will go from the emotional center of a community to just another entertainment option. Once the novelty wears off in a couple years the team could be nothing more than an afterthought where a bit of a breeze could convince the fans to stay at home.

In the end though, this may be the best option. Unless some mystery local billionaire emerges it appears as though the Bills will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of their intentions, upon the death of their octogenarian owner, Ralph Wilson. If Toronto would wreck the character of the Bills, Los Angeles would pull a complete Phil Spector on it. At least it's cold in Toronto and, initially, you would have some of the existing fan base coming to games (before they're priced out by MLSE/Rogers - who, by the way, are planning on calling the team the Inflated Cable Bills). A Bills game in Los Angeles would be an entirely different species altogether. You wouldn't even recognize it as the same sport. Quite clearly, Toronto will be the lesser of two evils.

The new owners may start with a split schedule between Toronto and Buffalo but they'll eventually will have to move all their games to Toronto given the superior economics. I'll be there with my over-priced tickets, though a large piece of me will be yearning for a less comfortable seat and the smell of bus fumes mixed with burning charcoal. Here is an artist's rendition of Charlie and I at the 2010 opener.

Dear God, the next three years are going to be terrible to me. What could have happened that possibly made me think a goatee would look good? There is no one in the history of civilization who has ever looked better with a goatee than without (with the possible exception of chinless guys like Paul Giamatti). It does nothing to hide the 45 pounds I've put on. I can only imagine what little hair lies beneath that cap. The future is a scary, scary place.

All I can ask is that the Toronto owners make some attempt to keep the spirit of the team alive. Keep the team name, maybe even give it a regional name like the Great Lake Bills. That name admittedly sucks but there are no wrong answer in brainstorming so leave me alone. Please throw us old fans a bone before you completely sell out the franchise to the bandwagon jumpers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm bl...ahhhh for Chrissakes!!!!!!

After watching the Leafs blow two goal leads in successive games with her Dad I'll be shocked if Charlie's first word isn't "@#$%!*&". Perhaps I shoudn't be subjecting her to this. I'm worried that exposure to the Leafs may even be stunting her growth. Her growth trajectory has slowed markedly since the hockey season began. She is now back to the 50th percentile in height after having rocketed to the 75th at her last doctor's appointment. If this keeps up the poor thing is on her way to becoming a foul-mouthed dwarf. Essentially continued poor defensive zone coverage is turning my infant daughter into one of Howard Stern's co-hosts. Thank you Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

Mom is clearly a better influence on Charlie than I am. Today she's taking her to baby yoga. Daddy introduces her to chronic disappointment and cussing while Mom shows her calm blue oceans and improved flexibility. Psychologists would call that a "balanced upbringing"....well, maybe unlicensed psychologists. Perhaps I should try yoga. Apparently it helps with golf and I could certainly use the calming. That being said, I'm not thrilled with the concept of being in a room where no one is wearing shoes or socks, particularly given the "earthiness" of your average yoga-ist (yoga-er?). Come to think of it, I'm out on the chanting and incense as well. The faintest whiff of incense immediately sends me into a furious rage. I imagine "rage" is not one of the more welcome emotions down at the neighbourhhod yoga studio. I don't think I could don the uniform either. Last Christmas my lovely wife bought me a pair of Lululemon "men's" pants. She might as well have given me a gift certificate for a butterfly tattoo on my panty line. Needless to say they were returned. What if I just do some deep knee bends and jumping jacks while listening to someone playing the sitar, minus someone playing the sitar? That should be good enough. Hey Sting, you can kiss my inner peace!

I can already do most of this move, at least the upper body part

I wonder how my new found enlightenment will change my life. Presumably my subway rides will pass with fewer visualizations of tossing fellow commuters through windows. That should give me more time to think of productive things like new Senator Larry jokes or interesting dishes with yellow beets, in the process benefiting everyone. The enhanced flexibility will help in getting Charlie's carseat in and out of the back of her Mom's Jetta. The ability to levitate will also be pretty cool. Of course it will all be undone by a quarter of Bills football but it should be fun while it lasts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The next Britney

Don't worry, this column will not add to the already tiresome commentary as to how much of a trainwreck Britney Spears' life has become. There is absolutely nothing I could possibly say that hasn't already been said two thousand times already. Libraries could be filled with the cumulative writings in regards to her poor parenting, substance-induced antics and rapidly deteriorating appearance. Luckily thanks to Globalization this has become an international story marking the simultaneous lows of both Western and Eastern cultures. Well done, world!

Instead of harping on her collapse lets try thinking out of the box a bit here. In retrospect her sad state of affairs doesn't seem that surprising. The combined fuel of a sheltered baptist upbringing, an "out for herself" mother, a popular culture bent on tearing down that which they build up and sub-moronic intelligence leads us inevitably to where we are now. Ten years ago, however, this would have been simply unbelievable. Britney Spears going commando? No, that must have been someone else. A decade ago we would have been shocked if Britney was caught drinking a Mike's Hard Lemonade. Now there is literally nothing that could surprise us save her writing an op-ed piece in The New Yorker on border security or election reform. With that in mind, who do we think could be the next Britney? Who is the next to go from Hollywood darling to robbing video stores? That raises an interesting question: who will whacked out child stars hold up when Video on Demand and NetFlix make video stores obsolete? If this had happened twenty years ago would Dana Plato still be with us?

I'm going out on a limb here but my money is on Michelle Wie. Mommy/Daddy issues? Check. Too much, too soon? Check. Sheltered upbringing? Done and done. The key difference, so far, seems to be that Wie is reasonably intelligent but that may only serve to make her more dangerous. She's already gone through two agents in the past year which indicates she (and her parents) don't take advice from outsiders. That's another red flag. It's remarkable how quickly she has been transformed from fresh-faced protege to pariah on the golf scene. Even the usually reserved Annika Sorenstam is taking potshots at her. She's about as popular as uncomfortable shoes on the LPGA tour. On top of all this she is absolutely awful at her chosen vocation. She went an entire season without breaking 70, and she's playing from the women's tees! Nike must be digging through their endorsement contract with her looking for an out. My bet is that they're trying to tie her to a certain dogfighting ring run by a certain other Nike spokesperson.

By no means am I hoping that Michelle Wie's life turns into shambles. I'm just saying that, if pressed, I would pick Michelle Wie from the current crop of sub-20s celebrities to take the most substantial nosedive. It's not the safe pick (Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter might as well just propose to Aaron Carter now and get it over with), but the good ones usually aren't. Let me know if you have any better bets.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thoughts on aging

I feel as though I've hit a really ugly age. I no longer have the fresh-faced youthfulness of my early 20s and I've yet to acquired the distinguished look of someone more accomplished. You can see it in photos. Here's me from a couple years ago....

And here I am now...

Clearly, my man-prettiness has deteriorated. Maybe if I shave my head again I can recreate some of the magic of the "old me". I doubt it. I guess I'll just have to wait and hope that I age well. Even if I don't aesthetically improve hopefully I can get myself physically back into shape. I'm appalled by the fact that I'll likely be withdrawing from this weekend's 10k at the Toronto Zoo. Two years ago I ran the race with only above 12 hours notice. Essentially I ran it out of spite after finding out a couple of friends had already signed up. I made it through in a respectable time will little to no training. The past two years don't appear to have been kind to me as even with a couple of weeks of warming up I don't think I'm going to make it.

Aches and pains, terrible hangovers and the odd grey hair are all signs of aging that haven't particularly bugged me. Not being able to exercise without training or stretching, however, really bothers me. What will happen if I need to suddenly sprint away from an axe-wielding maniac or chase after someone who steals my blackberry? Surely there won't be an opportunity for me to stretch out my hamstrings or eat a power bar beforehand. I'll completely embarrass myself the next time I'm walking by some kids playing hoops and they ask me to join them (the next time would be the first time, but it could happen). This stinks. I feel like I'm 18 months away from limited aqua-aerobics as my only form of activity. Anyone know of a good canasta group looking for a new member?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My endorsement

I had said last week that I will be endorsing one of JP Losman or Trent Edwards for Bills Quarterback after the Monday Night Game. I have decided to put that decision off until tomorrow. At that point I will have had time to more objectively evaluate both candidates. Right now I am just far too fragile and emotional. At that point I will also have chosen a candidate for comptroller.

Thank you for your patience.

What did I ever do to deserve this?

Monday, October 8th. 11:57 PM EST: Unidentified man officially dies inside

So the Bills lose a game they were winning by eight points with 20 seconds left on the same day that the Leafs big off-season acquisition is diagnosed with cancer. Of course. I really should have seen this coming. I feel as though someone has forced me to swallow a jar of hot wax and it's just sitting in my gut smoldering. I don't see this feeling going away.

Luckily the news on Blake sounds encouraging. Despite the horrific sounding name, chronic myelogenous leukemia, appears to be a treatable cancer which won't immediately require radiation or chemotherapy. The fact that he will play through the disease is a testament to the wonders of modern science. If anything his fight against the disease could provide a rallying cry for the team. Regardless, we here at WWNW wish him a full and speedy recovery.

The Bills situation, conversely, is completely devoid of silver linings. I thought that writing about this may be therapeutic but its just the opposite. Every recollection is simply more salt in the wound. I feel like I'm stuck in the Everybody Hurts video. There are at least 11 things that could have happened in the last half of the fourth quarter which would have sealed up the game. Unfortunately none of them did and we're staring at 1-4.

I need to get to a happy place, like this guy.

I imagine he's busting into Anyway you want it by Journey right there. "Ooh, All night, All night". Either that or he was just kicked in the small of the back. This guy is two Michelob Ultras and a stirring rendition of Mustang Sally away from wrapping that tie around his head. At that point it will officially be on. Imagining this makes me mildly happier. At least I can crawl out from under my desk now.

I also have the burgeoning scandal at Oral Roberts University (Alma Mater of Rev. Ted Haggard and Cathie Lee Gifford) to look forward to. School President Richard Roberts, who you may recognize if you've ever flipped by the JC channel late at night, has allegedly been using school funds as his own personal piggy bank. There's also a tawdry text message angle to this story involving his wife and underage males. We're probably only a few days away from primped up evangelists bawling on television as they confess their sins. Then there will be all the absurd excuses and conspiracy theories. What will they blame this time? Painkiller addictions? The falling US Dollar? The View? Terry Schiavo? Emo? Subprime mortgages? All that we can be certain of is that when the veneer starts to come off these hypocrites things can only go in one direction, shithouse crazy! This is gonna be ssssweeeeet!

Friday, October 5, 2007

My semi-annual guilt trip

I just got back from the dentist. I recently switched dental offices as my dentist moved his practice into the city. The hygienists at the old office were extremely irritating. The annoyance of their cheeriness was only surpassed by the inanity of their conversation choices. Every visit seemed more torturous than the last. The gum-digging seemed to intensify while the Maroon 5 being played on the easy listening station became increasingly ear-splitting. All this while being subjected to an unending stream of the most uninteresting thoughts and observances ever imagined, with but few pauses where I was expected to agree or disagree. Of course my mouth would still be full of instruments so I couldn't manage anything more than "yah" or "nyah". 45 minutes felt like three weeks. This would all be capped off by the inevitable guilt trip about my insufficient flossing or brushing technique. Quite clearly this was some sign of moral failing or self-loathing given the disapproving reaction I receive. I must be a terrible person and unfit father. Maybe custody of little Charlie should be given to K-Fed just to be safe.

While today was still a reasonably miserable experience, it was a virtual Caribana compared to visits to the old place (I haven't been to Caribana since I was a kid but I presume it's a lot of fun). The hygienist still expressed concern with my lack of flossing but did so in a way that didn't make me feel like a scolded child. Best of all, I got to use my "I told you I was a hemophiliac, right?" joke at the end of the appointment. Unfortunately it only works once, but boy does it work well!

Our soaring economy has resulted in the unemployment rate hitting a 33 year low. I even noticed help wanted ads on the outside of the Domino's pizza box the other day. The timing couldn't be better as Charlie just got a SIN number this morning. Her resumes are being sent out as we speak. Presumably some honest work at a young age will help in my efforts to prevent her from turning into another gum-chomping, designer bag-toting, windshield-size sunglass wearing adolescent. I figure a tannery or anywhere that some sort of smelting is being done would be a good option. What she lacks in experience she should make up for with hard work. She can't talk so you won't have to worry about insubordination, potential employers. Just keep her away from running water as it tends to put her to sleep.

I was having a conversation with a Jewish guy I work with and he informed me his family doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving as it's a Christian holiday. Is it really? If so, why do Canada and the US celebrate on different days. What is the biblical event or figure being celebrated? Is there something referencing pumpkin pie in Deuteronomy? Was Noah a glazed ham? Perhaps there are Christian origins but hasn't it essentially become more of a secular holiday. I've never heard of people going to Thanksgiving service or schools outlawing Thanksgiving greetings. US Thanksgiving seems to be about the Pilgrims, the Indians, Plymouth Rock and all that. Not even that is mentioned around the table north of the border. It's pretty much all about getting together with the family and gorging yourself. Sure you usually give thanks, but you can give thanks to whomever you want. Last year I thanked my exterminator and the inventors of the Canadarm. If your family hasn't celebrated Thanksgiving because you have traditionally felt excluded please come on by our place. We'll save a drumstick for you.

The turkey loves all people, except vegans.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (and I mean everyone...except Isiah Thomas)!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

DSW, I tap my foot to thee...

I've launched many trumped up lawsuits before but have yet to be successful. Me v. Will & Grace re: patent infringement on the joke: "let's go get a little Chinese...and then we'll get dinner" never actually made it to court. My more recent suit against Roots Canada for putting a sticker over the original price (implying it was on sale) on some baby clothes when the original price was actually lower hasn't gotten off the ground either. The latter has transitioned to boycott phase, even though I never went there in the first place. I guess by that logic, I'm also boycotting Cotton Ginny and those places by the airport that sell 3-for-1 suits. This time I may actually have something. DSW, the discount shoe company and an otherwise fine retailer, has started rolling out ESPN Zones within their shoe stores. This is something I have been calling for for years. Look back at this piece I wrote in August of 2002:

After yet another hour of my life wasted in a shoe store waiting for my girlfriend (Ed: now wife) I continue to wonder why retailers don't cater to the significant others of their target shoppers. What I wouldn't give for a comfortable chair and a TV with the game on. I also firmly believe that the coming war in Iraq is unwinnable and will lead the Bush administration to ruin despite their current popularity. Furthermore I predict this Atkin's craze will die off and that Britney Spears will turn into a cracked-out mess who may be homeless by 2008. Oh, and Jamie Foxx will win an Oscar for Booty Call 2.

Ok, I was a bit off with the last one but you have to admit the others were good, Nostradamus good. This move by DSW makes so much business sense. Numerous times my incessant whining has caused my wife to leave a store early limiting the amount of money she spends at that store. Now I will be more than happy to sit back and watch the game and she will no longer have to listen to "Are you done yet? Are you done yet?". If there is actually a mini-sports bar where I can sit and have a beer while watching sports than they may as well just hand the 2007 Nobel Prize to the fine folks at DSW. You know what, forget the lawsuit! Let DSW have my idea. I'll forgo my personal gain for the common good. You're welcome, world.

Choose from over 30,000 pairs of shoes to throw at the TV

The ACC crowd, particularly those in the platinum and gold sections, lived up to their reputation as a bunch of spoiled brats with a seriously misguided sense of entitlement last night. As a good friend of mine, who's a Sens fan, that was at last night's opener asked "who boos their starting goalie in the opener?". Idiots, that's who. We know Raycroft is a bit iffy so why make it worse? As I've said before the booing would be understandable if it was balanced by an equally rabid reaction when good things occurred on the ice but, as we've seen, it isn't. It's a disproportionate response by the worst crowd in hockey. Next game why don't you douchebags just stay in the concourse for the whole game, not just the first half of each period. My predictions back in 2002 weren't the only ones that seem to be coming true. Who was the best Leafs player last night? Nik Antropov, that's who.

While we're on the topic of me being right, I'm happy to see that now two of my most hated people in sports are finally getting their comeuppance. Bill Belichick was the first, now Isiah Thomas is the second. Isiah has screwed up absolutely everything he has touched since retiring as a player yet somehow still found a way to convince people that he should be paid ridiculous sums of money despite a track record where the only consistent theme was abject failure. Now he has been found guilty of sexual harassment (technically he wasn't charged as it was a civil case but he is responsible for his employer having to spend $11.8 million to clean up his mess). So far, he still has a job as (lucky for him) his boss is one of the few people around who may be worse at his job than Isiah is at his. Hopefully something happens so that Isiah can finally be removed from the public spotlight and sent packing once and for all. Being a terrible commissioner, executive, GM, coach, announcer and author is one thing (it's actually six things) but making life miserable for a working Mom is taking your game to a whole new level. As much as I hate the Knicks, even they don't deserve you. Given that everything seems to happen in threes, I fully expect that within the next few weeks Alex Rodriguez will be named an enemy combatant or Daniel Alfredsson will be caught stealing babies in Malawi. At that point, you'll all get a firm "I told you so".