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.