Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I don't know what to believe in anymore....


No way!....Really?.....You're kidding, right?....C'mon!....Really?.....No f-ing way....Tell me you're kidding.....Billie Jean King is Gay?

Oh, that's Clay Aiken. Never mind.

PS: Speaking of gay, that image is taken from Perezhilton.com.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The more you know...

This is an elephant...




This is an elephant with a heroin addiction...



That's pretty f-ed up. The moral of this story is don't do drugs because you'll end up looking like shit, even if you're an elephant.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I like to pitch, but I love to sing and Daaaaance

Yesterday saw the suddenly resurgent Toronto Blue Jays pull off their 9th and 10th consecutive wins of the season by sweeping both ends of a day/nighter in Chicago. While the two wins were very enjoyable to watch the true highlight was when Chicago paraded out (no pun intended) their 5th pitcher of the night, one Lance Broadway. Here he is in all his splendor...


Sorry, that's not him...



Again, my mistake. You'd think that was him, but it isn't....


We must be having some sort of technical issues as apparently that isn't him either. This is the actual Lance Broadway...


Now there's a very good chance that Mr. and Mrs. Broadway weren't particularly familiar with all-male cabaret shows nor had they watched a great deal of gay porn. As such they can be forgiven for not realizing that "Lance Broadway" was such a...how can I say this...dramatic name. That is, of course, unless they saw something in him at birth that indicated lil' baby Broadway may have an affinity for all things fabulous. If that's the case Lance Broadway is about as obvious as you can get, short of Reed Chrown or Sandhu Travolta-Cruise Jr.

Good for Lance for going against the grain and not following the path that was clearly pre-destined for him by his given name (surprisingly not a stage name, I looked it up). Mediocre righthanded reliever is certainly not what his parents had in mind back when they were deciding what to call him. Way to break free and make your own way, Lance.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week 1 in Review part 2: the Tim Russert Memorial highway

Let's forget the ugliness from the previous column and instead focus on the wonderfulness that is the 2008 Buffalo Bills. The opener contained more highlights than last season in its entirety. Marshawn looked like he could break every run. We had a dazzling punt return touchdown by Roscoe which was started and ended by fantastic blocks from Orchard Park's own, Jon Corto. We had the punter throwing a touchdown pass to a backup defensive end in a play that rarely works in high school, nonetheless the pros. The very next play saw Corto blowup the kick returner and the kicker (the mother f---ing kicker!) dive headlong into the pile to rip away the loose ball. That was followed by Trent going straight for the jugular by threading a 30 yard strike to Royal for a TD. It was almost too much goodness to absorb all at once, akin to opening your Christmas presents whilst sitting on the john.

Apart from the highlights you'd see on ESPN there were many little things that should make Bills fans even more excited as we look forward to the rest of the season. First of all, this year our defense goes forward when the ball is snapped rather than being pushed 5 yards backwards. This is a meaningful improvement. Stroud, Kawika Mitchell and Spencer Johnson add both size and surprising speed which have been sorely lacking from this team's D for the last couple years. Also they have gone back to the "mulling around" D which worked so well against the Cowboys last year. This is where the guys on the line just sort of linger in a menacing and confusing fashion. Seattle's offensive line looked both confused and terrified whenever the Bills employed this strategy. The D-line and linebackers took on a bit of crazy, erratic appearance. The Seahawks didn't know what to make of them. I liked that. The offensive line gave Trent all kinds of time and opened a couple huge holes for Marshawn. Kirk Chambers put in the best performance by a Kirk since the 1988 World Series. The special teams units looked even more dominating than last year even with the departure of some key players in the off-season. Bills fans can now replace their Aiken, Wire and Haggan jerseys with those of Corto, Costanzo and Wendling. YouTube legend John Wendling attempted to block Mare's field goal by leaping over the line. He made it over and landed on his feet but just missed the ball. He may have got a fingernail on it though it could have just been such a feeble kick that it looked tipped. I will have the PVR on during every opposing field goal try in an attempt to capture Wendling's amazing feat. When it happens (and it will) the tape will be more valuable then the Big Foot and Zapruder film combined. On top of all that, they came out of the game completely healthy with Jason Peters joining the squad after passing his physical.

By the way what was with Seattle and their miserable effort? They might as well have started Niles and Frasier as their defensive end pairing. The great Patrick Kerney had his ass handed to him all day even without having to utilize a double-team. If he'd registered a meaningless coverage sack I would have dubbed him the West Coast Aaron Schobel. He couldn't even manage that. The decision making by the team was abysmal. It was as if the players and coaches were in a contest to see who could make the other look worse. The fact that the Bills got the ball back at the end of the first half with as much time as they did was simply unforgivable. Perhaps the 'Hawks wasn't able to get up for the game given the unfamiliar surroundings. Admittedly it is difficult finding a good Soy-latte caramel macchiato or an unoaked chardonnay with the proper grassy mouthfeel to make the team feel at home. Maybe next time they make the trip to the Ralph they'll at least bring their own baristas.

So let's take a look at the AFC. The pre-season consensus favorites were New England, San Diego, Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Those four teams combined to win one measly game in week 1, New England's 17-10 squeaker at home to the awful Chiefs who were down to their backup quarterback. If the Chiefs were anything short of pathetic they would have at least tied the game. As an indication of how less rosy the Patriots fortunes look they are now the underdog next week against the Jets. The Jets just snuck by the Dolphins yesterday. San Diego and Indy both lost at home to teams that spent last post-season watching from home...and they were in the NFC! That's inexcusable. The Bills hosted an NFC opponent that actually won a playoff game last year and guess what? They really suck.

That brings us to Jacksonville, the Bills opponent in week 2. The Jags put forth a middling effort in losing to the Titans. If they truly were the team to beat they would have found a way to beat Tennessee and their non existent offense. The Holt family will leave Friday morning for Actionville with considerably more optimism than would have been the case just a few days ago, not only for that game but for the season as a whole. Last week the league was mathematically wide open. Today, it's actually wide open.

Week 1 in Review Part 1: the Low Road

Charlie, remember when I said that you should never take pleasure in other people's misfortune? Well, you can scratch that.



Just after Marshawn danced into the end zone from 21 yards out the image of Tom Brady's leg buckling under the weight of Kansas City safety Bernard "Karma" Pollard splashed across TV screens from coast to coast. In a play eerily similar to the one that saw Vince Wilfork roll over JP Losman's leg early last season, Mr. Bunchen's season appears to be over. This is not to say JP Losman is Tom Brady. As far as I know, Losman has never dumped a pregnant woman for a supermodel...and he still has all his ACLs intact.

Sorry Tom, as I'm sure you're in a great deal of pain. It's unfortunate that this is how fate chose to finally punish your team for all the cheating, run up scores and generally lecherous behaviour. I would have gone with dual lifetime suspensions for Moss and Harrison for masterminding the collapse of the mortgage market or had Belichick kidnapped by a jilted husband.

One way or another it comes time to pay the piper. Just like communism, $140 oil and the popularity of reality shows involving dancing, that which is truly unjust can not be sustained forever. Perhaps we can now add the Patriots Regime to that list. With one awkwardly bent knee the world has become right again and a nation's faith is restored. In the end, are we at all surprised that this happened on a Sunday?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Here I go again...

Though I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I'm looking for,
Oh lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on,
cos I know what it means,
To walk along the lonely street of dreams,

So, here we go again. Sunday kicks off another season of Buffalo Bills football. Over the next two days the feelings of anticipation and impending doom will grow reaching their crescendo just before the 1:00 kickoff. For those of you who have not suffered as a Bills fans let me try and describe what its like. Waiting for the season to start is an uncomfortable feeling likely somewhere between being in a landing craft at the start of Saving Private Ryan and sitting in the waiting room of your proctologist. There's a certain amount of adrenaline involved but not enough to overcome the dread of what's waiting for you. All you can hope for is to come through it in one piece, but your brain is telling you that you probably won't.

As I've chronicled before (and has been suspiciously echoed on Deadspin?!?) being a Bills fan is a test of Biblical proportions yet without any of the heavenly rewards. It's all suffering, no rewards. Usually you're served up a heaping dose of heartbreak at the very beginning of the season. An Amuse Bouche of a kick in the nuts, if you will. Last year's loss at the final whistle in a game where two defensive starters were lost for the season and another guys nearly died on the field was a perfect example of how the Bills tend to kick off a campaign. The team has three losses in their last four openers. Those three games were lost by a combined 6 points. Two of those games were decided on the very last play of the game. The script then calls for a mid-season break from losing winnable games. This is the "false hope" part of the season. Usually this lasts for three or four weeks. During this time talk turns to the schedules of those we're chasing for the wildcard and whether or not we're going to fly to wherever it is they're playing in week 17 to see them win their way in. Enter the second stage of soul-crushing defeats, usually not as dramatic as the first round but equally painful, and we're done. As the song says, the Bills really do make you want to Shout...shout "look out below as I'm jumping off the f-ing roof!"

This is what I thought, of course, until this news broke! Jason Peters has finally come to his senses and has ended his ridiculous holdout! Suddenly the landing craft doors open and the bad guys are already retreating. The proctologist turns out to be a supermodel with abnormally tiny hands. Now, all bets are off. The old, doomed Bills would have never got Peters back. Or if they did, he'd tear his ACL, MCL and ABC during his first practice (luckily I don't believe in jinxes). In fact, Marshawn would have never walked from that hit and run thing if we were talking about the same old post-Kelly era Bills. These are the types of things that only happen to winners. I don't think I'm out of line to view the return of Peters as a sign that good things are on the horizon. Hell, let's just go with that regardless. We're all tied for first and we're all tied for last. There's really no reason to be anything but optimistic.

So that's where we are now. It's Friday afternoon, two days before the opener and I am cautiously optimistic. If my feelings towards the 2008 Bills were being measured by Homeland Security we would be sitting at yellow. I have no idea what that means, but who cares. I believe it was Robert S. Kelly who said it best "It's the freakin' weekend baby, I'm about to have me some fun".

See you at 1-0, jerks!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Because "Bristol Motor Speedway" wouldn't fit on a birth certificate...

Much has been made of having a 44 year-old woman who was serving on the PTA a decade ago one cranky 72 -year old away from being the most powerful person on the planet. Sarah Palin's inexperience is surely something to be concerned about but lets not overlook her questionable judgment. She has a kid named "Bristol". Do you really want your Vice-President to have such a clearly stated affinity for NASCAR? Is that the type of person you want breaking ties in the Senate? W. is obviously a big dumbie but at least he had the good sense to prefer the more cerebral sport of baseball as opposed to watching the good-ole boys making left turns all afternoon. Bristol Palin is obviously named after Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. This is what Bristol is all about:


as is this:


Racin' the way it ought'a be!

How can I be so sure about this Bristol thing? She named one of her sons Track. Two of the other kids were given the middle names "Boogity" and "Dick Trickle". I'm not sure what more evidence you need. Word on the blogosphere is that, if elected, VP Palin would table a constitutional amendment to drop all "g's" from official government documents. With the genesis of her name being known, young Bristol's current predicament isn't all that shocking. If anything it's mildly surprising that she waited this long.

The more we learn about Gov. Palin the more absurd Sen. McCain's decision looks. In fact he's probably learning all this at the same time we are. It's as if he chose her simply on spec. Does she like guns? Check. Is she into Jesus? Check. Does she have ovaries? Check. Is she less likely than McCain to develop dementia or drop dead in the next four years? Probably. He may have also done a quick google images search, seen the few pictures where she looks "kinda hot" and the decision was made. Welcome to the ticket, Sarah. A couple more hours of basic research would have identified that she is

  1. Under investigation for allegedly using her influence to get her brother-in-law fired
  2. A former member of something called the Alaskan Independence Party
  3. Prone to slip into a Hoser accent in unguarded moments, dontchaknow!
  4. More likely to be mistaken for a rookie member of the local school board than the Vice-President of the United States
  5. Not that funny girl from 30 Rock, nor is she related to Monty Python's Michael Palin.
  6. The mother of a newborn son, a role which will soon be complicated by additional Grandma duties to little Jamie Lynn Palin (note: the only way to put this one to bed is to force Bristol's baby daddy to enlist in the army. They can then create a story that she got knocked up because her boyfriend was afraid he'd die while fighting for his country. They will then name the unborn child "Enduring Freedom". Within days there will be images of the fetus holding an American flag while riding a bald eagle airbrushed on pick-up trucks across the South).

I know you needed someone who brought an element of "new" to the ticket but surely you could have come up with a better choice than that. If you go with someone who has warts its because there's some great upside they have that outweighs their flaws. Palin looks like she's all warts and who knows what's still to come? At this pace McCain may not even finish in the top 3. If there's a repechage for candidates who finish too poorly on the first ballot the Republicans may be on their way there. Regardless of exactly how things end up the odds are that Sarah Palin is much more likely to become an answer to a trivia question than Vice-President.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another Turnover for J-Kidd

From the last post you'll see that I was clearly unenthused by the Beijing Olympics. To me, the feel-good stories were few and far between while the discomforting stories were much too prevalent. I am talking mostly of the discomfort of getting kicked in the face by a Cuban Taekwondo-er (Taewond-ist?). This morning, however, I saw a story that by its opening would indicate some potential for salvation, a glimmering light that the spirit of the games could shine through. The story starts with "Jason Kidd gives his gold medal to...". Immediately you would surmise that the sentence would end with "earthquake victims", "destitude orphan" or even "the guys who carried his son's hats from the cab to the hotel room". You would be wrong on all accounts. In fact, Jason Kidd gave his gold medal to Elaine Wynn. Who's that you ask? Here's a picture of the deserving recipient:


That's her in the middle standing beside the world's 277th richest man in the sunglasses, her husband multi-billionaire Steve Wynn. Well done J-Kidd. I'm sure that your unwanted Gold Medal could have fetched a good five or six figures at auction for some charity. Hell Knicks owner, Charles Dolan, would have probably paid a couple million for it given that he's spent substantially more than that unsuccessfully trying to buy a championship in the past. But who cares? Clearly Mrs. Wynn needs another coaster. Wait a minute....Elaine's husband runs a casino. People gamble at casinos. Sometimes people lose money by gambling and are required to make restitution for those losses. Other tawdry activities happen in casinos. Sometimes that tawdriness is arranged and requires payment. An Olympic gold medal is made of gold. For centuries gold was used as currency in addition and still today acts as a store of value particularly as a hedge against inflation, making it an ideal form of payment. Am I going somewhere with this? Absolutely not. That would besmirch this man's good name.

For some reason Jason Kidd has always been given an abolsute free ride by the sports press. You would think a guy who has worn out his welcome on three different teams and slapped his wife around wouldn't be lionized the way he is, yet that's exactly what has happened and I, for one, don't understand it. Whether he was just flippantly disregarding the symbolic (not to mention, financial) value of the medal or setting things straight with the house this move is pure J-Kidd. Then again, maybe I'm being too harsh. There is the possibility that he offered it to his son but had to take it back after he was unable to get it over his giant head. Now I'm definitely being too harsh.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008: The Summer of Cockburn

By 8:00 o'clock the sun has all but set, TV commericals feature backpacks and pencil cases, and the Jays are, for all intents and purposes, eliminated from playoff contention. Yes, once again summer has begun its exit. It seems like this is becoming an annual event. You could almost set your calendar by it.

I, for one, am relieved to say goodbye to the summer of 2008. Here are the highlights so far, in no particular order. Tim Russert, Bernie Mac and Estelle Getty all die suddenly. Part of the city explodes due to a misplaced and poorly maintained propane facility. Ironically this happens on the only night all summer that it isn't pouring rain. Some poor Carny gets his head cut off on a bus ride. The price of gas goes through the roof. Manufacturing jobs are lost en masse. People start to drop dead because of tainted lunch meat. Russia goes retro and starts invading countries again. Sweet, how about another Cold War? Just in time for the Red Dawn remake.

Then we have the Olympics which were supposed to lift our spirits as we witnessed the world celebrating how wonderful everyone is. It was China's turn to host the spectacle and show the globe how far their nation has come. In many ways they've not only caught up to the world, but they've surpassed them. Well done China. Not even the Americans would ask a 7-year old girl to lip sync a song because the actual singer wasn't "cute" enough. Welcome to the developed world, jerks. You'd think they would be a bit more senstive to the little girl's feelings after having already cut her from the gymnastics team for being too old.

Canada's efforts at the Olympics were fairly mediocre. Sure we ended up with a decent medal haul but that was padded by our top-3 finishes in a bunch of contrived sports. Starting about 3 or 4 Olympics ago events started showing up that seemed like nothing more than watered-down derivatives of existing sports. Since when did the Olympics become about mass inclusion? Now there seems to be a sport for everyone even if you weren't good enough to make it in a traditional event. Suck at diving? Try sychronized diving. All you have to do is find someone who can suck exactly as much as you do, at the exact same time. Our flagbearer, one Karen Cockburn, distinguished herself on the trampoline. You know who else did that? A bunch of drunk high-school kids who snuck into their neighbors' backyard. By 2016 the Olympics will look a bit like a company picnic. I'm sure we'll put up a few personal bests with the potato sac and could medal in the three-legged race.

No offense to Ms. Cockburn but she didn't even win a gold medal. While her second-place finish may have been a big deal to the 25-30 people that make up the Canadian Trampolining community it's quite sad that we awarded her the honour of carrying the flag, essentially acknowledging her bouncing around as the most remarkable feat by a Canadian at the games. While equestrian doesn't look like a sport in the traditional sense at least there's some history there. Why not give it to fellow silver medallist Ian Miller, who's shared the Olympic stage with both Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps, or the druggy who won the two horsey medals? At least those two are better stories. Hell, give it to the woman who finished third in hurdles. Now that's a legitimate sport. There should be a threshold of achievement that must be met in order to carry the flag. If no one meets that benchmark then the honour should be given to either Wayne Gretzky, Jack Bauer or whomever is the best looking amongst the contingent. At least that way we're truly putting forth the best our country has to offer.

So that was the summer. Goodbye and good riddance. Let's get things turned around in a hurry, 2008. So far this has been a bit of a shitshow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

We beat the Colts! We beat the Colts!

What? That was just a pre-season game? Well, that's a buzz kill. You'll forgive the confusion as I had to turn off the sound. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put three ex-players in the booth together (without anyone who went to broadcasting school) needs to be permanently banned from working in television. Sterling Sharpe, Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk combined for what was likely the worst broadcast team ever and I'm including those public access midget hockey tournaments along with the Joe Carter experiment by the Jays a few years back. They were the Dream Team of mispronounced names and avoiding insightful comments. You would likely find more hard-hitting analysis during the broadcast of the Santa Claus Parade than you received last night from these three. At least they seemed to be enjoying themselves as we, the viewers, certainly were not.


As per most national broadcasts of Buffalo games, the Bills players were relegated to the background as to focus on whoever it is they're playing against. Significantly more attention was given to the status of the Colts' backup Jim Sorgi than any of the players on the other team who, unlike Sorgi, actually appear in regular season games before Indianapolis has homefield advantage in the playoffs sewn up. It's grown rather tiresome but probably won't change until we start winning playoff games. The other option is to pique the network execs interest by signing a couple of yesterday's stories like Brett Favre or Jason Taylor. Hopefully people start to care about the Bills because of the former not the latter which would be nothing short of a desperation act.

Bills backup QB JP Losman appears to be especially upset by how the Bills are constantly ignored outside of Western New York so much so that he has made a spectacle of his face to call attention to this injustice. That's the only possible explanation for Losman's messed-up facial hair. Check it out for yourself:


Sorry that's a terrible picture but I don't have the time to find a better one. It's clear enough, however, to make my point. He's got a bit of a pornstar 'stache with wolverine-ish chops, which inexplicably flair out at the cheeks. The lower beard is trimmed in a rather standard fashion although there's no connection between it and the 'stache or the ridiculous soulpatch. To top it all off he's forgone his moppish haircut for a straightlaced side-part providing even more confusion. None of it makes any sense together. There's absolutely no cohesion. I've heard that Joe Biden is arguing for his face to be broken up into three separate, autonomous regions. He's got equal parts Sunni, Shiite and Kurd going on there. Perhaps a breakup may be the only answer to deal with this mess.

Besides the announcing and Losman's sideshow of a face, Bills fans have to be quite content with how things looked in week 3, which is traditionally the closest teams get to a regular season game during the pre-season. Let's hope the news on the injury/holdout front doesn't worsen between now and the September 7th opener against the Seahawks. In the absence of that it's hard to not get excited about the team's prospects.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bills in Toronto: Well, that certainly sucked...

...so what you're saying is that in order to be stigmata it needs to be from your hands and/or ankles...and it has to be blood? Never mind, then.

***
I remember the advice my father-in-law gave to my wife-to-be just before we were engaged: "have low expectations and you can only be disappointed so much". Thankfully she listened and we're well into our fifth year of marital bliss. With this sage advice in mind, I strolled into the Rogers Centre for Thursday's Bills game expecting something awful. I imagined one endzone bigger than the other, scads of tickets handed to Christian school groups, breakdancers on the field at every break in play (a constant at Rogers Centre for some inexplicable reason), Katherine Humphreys doing the in-game announcing and the concessions exclusively selling vegan fare. Presumably they would have also invited the Steelers mascot and had him walk out with Billy Buffalo hand-in-hand. That level of crappiness was about where I set my over/under.


Steely McBeam made his first solo Toronto appearance since leaving the Village People

Having had a couple days to evaluate the event I'd say it was a push. I pretty much got what I expected. Most importantly the first team offence looked unstoppable against a real defence. This outweighs anything the Rogers Centre and the crowd could do to annoy me. Trent looked comfortable, the line held in reasonably well in the absence of Jason Peters (stop f-ing around. this isn't funny anymore, Peters) and no one made any drive-killing mistakes. There was very little else Bills fans could ask for from the starters on offense or, the slightly less-impressive, defense. Throw in an ankle-breaking return by Leodis (who should clearly just switch to one name like a Brazilian soccer player) and all's looking good at this stage of training camp.

That being said, there are plenty of Bills fans but only one Bills in Toronto Ombudsman so I should focus on that role in this context and leave the team analysis for those more qualified. Here's what needs to be addressed if we're to make the regular season game against the Dolphins look and feel like an NFL football game. To be fair I have also interspersed a few thumbs up. Luckily, its not all bad:

Use of the word "Historic": I'm all for hyperbole but the constant reference to the game as the first in the "Historic" series was a bit of a stretch. The surrender of the Japanese aboard the USS Missouri was historic. Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier could be referred to as such. Anything that involves a second-string punter cannot legitimately be called historic, regardless of how many touchdown passes Robert Royal catches. Let's tone it down a bit for the December game.

Beer prices and policies: While exorbitant by all logical precedents at least they didn't goose the prices to Leafs levels. It's amazing what living in this city can do to your standards for what is an acceptable price for beer. Shockingly I'm commending the Rogers Centre for selling me a bottle of Blue for what I paid for a pitcher back in University. At 10 PM it was kudos to the fact that beer was being served until the beginning of the fourth quarter. By 10 AM Friday I was changing my tune. In terms of tailgating, there's nothing that can be done. Blame the politicians. I doubt local bars will be much help pre-game in December either as they'll be only a brief window between wen they start serving and kickoff. Do like we did and put something together in your backyard.

Paint the endzones: Marshawn didn't score a touchdown, albeit in limited action. You want to know why? The endzones weren't painted. He had no idea where to run to. Give the man a big red target, people. At least they wrote Bills in the endzones but for Beast Mode to happen we need a big splash of red. Let me know if you need me to run by Home Depot and grab some paint.

Where's Gurtler?: John Gurtler, the regular Bills in-game announcer was nowhere to be seen or, more importantly, heard. There was nothing the replacement guy said that produced the warm, familiar feeling that the dulcet tones of Gurtler's voice would have. Plus, whoever it was told 48,000 people that Lee Evans went to LSU. Americans are quite attached to their Alma Maters. I imagine this would be akin to introducing Martin Brodeur as a former member of the Barrie Colts. Presumably Gurtler's legal issues prevented him from coming north. Hey, New York State Legal System! Let's get this cleared up in time for "Squish the Fish".

Why close the roof?: This one's all on Coach Jauron. I'll assume that Rogers has no role in this. He wanted the roof closed to simulate the exact experience of what the team will face in December. Fair enough, although an easier way to simulate the experience of playing in front of the Toronto crowd is to tell your real fans to show up in business casual, hand out blackberries and then pump a powerful sedative through the ventilation system. The more important question is, why will the December game be played with the roof closed? You are the Buffalo Bills. They are the Miami Dolphins. It'll be mid-December. The Bills are 6-2 all-time when hosting Miami in December including shellackings the last two seasons. Why make them comfortable? They'll already feel too much at home given the prominence of our transgendered community and the abundance of pilates studios situated around Toronto. Why not whip up a fresh batch of mojitos for their arrival and pump salsa music through the city?!

The least we can do is let the elements in and give ourselves some advantage. Sure players come from all over the country but where you play most seems to be where you play best. Brett Favre, better in the cold than warm, is from Mississippi. Dolphin "legend" Dan Marino is from Pittsburgh, but became quite mediocre outside of Miami's tropical climate. How many of Hall of Famer Dan's last five games in Buffalo did he win? (Hint: it rhymes with sweet buck all). Late season games in Buffalo come with two decided advantages for the home team. The first is the 12th man (wake up people, that's you) with the second being the inclement weather. Both are being significantly neutralized by having the game in the indifferent confines of the ex-Skydome with the lid on.

Regardless of the sport, the Rogers Centre is much more palatable with the roof open. A football game, specifically, will take on more of an authentic feel if played outdoors. If people complain about the cold or wet then send them home. They're not the sorts you want anyways if you're trying to create an event that feels even remotely like an actual football game. Thursday's game was about as authentic as Suri Cruise (it's an animatronic puppet, so I've heard). Opening the roof would be a step in the right direction for both the team and the experience.

Tickets handed out to Servicemen:
This is a big thumbs up. Our men and women don't get near the credit they deserve particularly given the danger of their current mission in Afghanistan. A couple free tickets to a pre-season game is a nice start. It's also something that would happen at a real NFL game. Seeing people in uniform says four-down football much more than VPs from the mobile phone division with their ties slightly loosened.

People wearing random jerseys: The Bills were playing the Steelers, so why would I see a handful of Tomlinson, Brady and Owens jerseys? Because people are idiots, that's why. This is not "wear your jersey" to the office day. It's an actual game. Pick a team or face the catcalls of the actual fans. In a related matter its time to upgrade those Bledsoe, Flutie and McGahee jerseys people. I'm looking at you, Mom and Dad. I'll refrain from beating a dead horse by critiquing the wardrobe choices made by the vast swaths of douchery that filled much of the stadium. I just hope that the December weather will keep the sleeveless shirts and giant sunglasses at home. You douchebags are embarrassing your city, not to mention your country.

Be a fan, not a spectator: For Trent's sake people, loosen up a bit. When the home team does something good stand up and make a bit of noise. A sporting event is meant to be a release from your mundane workaday world. Most of the attendees probably display more passion discussing cottage traffic than they did during the game. Trying losing yourself in the game. When Poz starts gesturing with his arms trick yourself into thinking he absolutely needs your help on third down. When he breaks free on a blitz and breaks the QBs ribs give yourself a big pat on the back. Sure its ridiculous but where else do you get the chance to be a part of something that is this big, even if it isn't that big and you may not actually be a part of it. It doesn't matter either way. I know that Torontonians have been taught from the time they were young that its not cool to act like you care about something but I'm here to tell you it is. Project if you need to. Tell yourself that the Bills are Radiohead, the Jonas Brothers, the cast of Design Inc. or whatever the hell you're into. Pretend its the fuckin' Antique Roadshow. I really couldn't care less what your motivations are just get up and sing along with "The Bills Make me Want to Shout" after they score and give some random guy a high five. Your douchebag buddies may turn their noses up at you but forget them. They'll leave you and the game in a heartbeat once something cooler comes along anyways. The Bills, for all their faults, with always be there for you.


Those that showed any sort of passion were the sprinkling of actual fans (there were as many players' parents as there were unrelated fans, much like a little league game) or those that used their free tickets as an excuse to get stupid drunk. Here's another piece of advice from a seasoned football fan, getting loud and drunk does not immediately make you "a fan". This is a common misconception held by many who don't actually attend NFL games. If you're a sloppy drunk you're still acting like an asshole, regardless of whether the field is 100 or 110 yards long. Enjoy a few, but try to keep some control. There's a game being played and you're team needs you to at least be in some condition to follow along.

Well that's about it for now. It was a pre-season game which may justify some, but not all, of the apathy. Calling it a complete disaster would be a bit harsh but we've certainly got a long way to go if we're to do our job and create a proper home field advantage. Luckily there's almost four months to get our act together for when it really counts. Rogers, you should pay attention too. While you'll be getting our Bills over my, Luke Russert's, Jim Kelly's, The Goo Goo Dolls' and Chuck Shumer's dead bodies you may still have a chance to convince the NFL to steal another team or hand you an expansion franchise. If you're to maintain any hope of this happening you'll need to put on a much better show than you did on Thursday so listen to what I've told you. We can work together here to both our advantage. (Pssst, don't worry NFL fans I highly doubt any of this happens but Rogers people can be easily tricked, just ask Ralph).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Don't worry B-Lo. We'll have them back by 10.

Well, tomorrow is the big day. The team is in town, the alumni have gathered and the tickets have been sold or handed out to members of the Rogers politburo. All we need is a cute little Chinese girl to lipsync while Bryan Adams sings the anthem. People are giving the Chinese crap for their Vanilli-esque sleight of hand but maybe they're on to something. We Canadians have had to look at the likes of the aforementioned Adams, Luba, The Arcade Fire, The Barenaked Ladies, Rita McNeil, Randy Bachman and Geddy Lee over the years. While all fine singers they're a little hard on the eyes. To be honest I'm not sure why this hasn't become more widespread, unless it has and the guy signing "Tom Sawyer" all these years actually looks like this:


While I am undoubtedly excited about tomorrow's events there is a lingering bittersweet element to my preparations. The core of this is the empathy I'm feeling for the good people of Buffalo. There seems to be a growing sense of inevitability that tomorrow's game is the beginning of the end for the franchise in Western New York. Even with assurances from the commissioner, local politicians and Bills brass that the Toronto games are an effort to regionalize the fan base and that the team's future is secure, fans are worried. In all honesty, I don't blame them. I was a bit worried myself. As I've said countless times before, I (along with my friends and family) are Buffalo Bills fans. Sure we're thrilled for the chance to see them once or twice a year without fighting through customs but we don't want the team's identity to change. Starting with the maniacal look on Uncle Ted's face at the first press conference and continuing with the unrestrained desire to land an NFL team expressed by Godfrey, Lind and the rest of the Rogers cronies, there is clearly an image being painted that Toronto is ready to pounce once Ralph Wilson dies. I'm sure the people of Buffalo are feeling a bit like Woody Harrelson in Indecent Proposal. Sure, they need the money but are they ever going to get their true love back once they've handed it over to the dapper rich guy? Even after they physically return there will always be the worry that their heart is elsewhere. Will Marshawn be happy with a night out at Applebee's after he's been wined and dined at Susur? Sure he'll say he had a nice time and enjoyed his mini chicken ranchers but will he really mean it?

In reality, the end may not be nigh, in fact it may be very un-nigh. As a recent Toronto Life article aptly pointed out, Ralph Wilson appears to be the big winner in the deal here. Think of the Bills current situation versus just a year ago. They raised ticket prices and have set a record for season ticket sales. On top of that they got a nice fat cheque from Uncle Ted for $78 million for 5 regular season games and three pre-season games. The Bills get the windfall from this while at the same time they have a much easier time selling out the games at the Ralph. Fans only have to pay up for 7 regular season games and one pre-season game. Plus, seeing your team playing elsewhere is a bit of a wake-up call for Bills fans. To go back to my movie metaphor, seeing Demi Moore with Robert Redford is what finally gave Woody Harrelson the motivation to dunk the basketball and win his girl back. The impressive sales numbers coming out of One Bills Drive is a sign that Bills fans are taking the threat seriously. Given this new reality, the Bills are in the best position financially they've been in for some time, if not ever. Would they be better off with 8 home games a year in Toronto at an average ticket price of $300? Sure, but so far the indication is that this isn't going to happen. They're having enough troubling selling tickets for two games nonetheless a whole season.

What I see happening is this, Rogers struggles just to breakeven on their big five-year bet. Bills ticket prices in Buffalo will creep up each year but stay under the league average as the looming move and, hopefully, a steadying economy push demand higher. Obviously Rogers (not Ted necessarily, but those around him) would want to buy the team today but may be less enthusiastic in a couple years. Regardless of whether or not Rogers stays on, the next five years will hopefully have proven how viable the franchise can be in its current location. Even if a case can be made that the team would be worth slightly more in Toronto the league and Buffalo-era politicians will do what it takes to bridge that gap ensuring the team stays where it is. This is by no means a certainty as there is clearly an element amongst the Toronto backers that wants a team here regardless of how little sense it may make financially. Luckily, the guy actually signing the cheques is driven purely by dollars and cents not by any desire to become the next Bob Kraft or Jerry Jones. All indications are that Uncle Ted doesn't even like sports. Five years of making little return, if any, on $78 million may be enough to convince him (and Ted Jr.) to stick with the cable and cell phone bundling.

Now I feel better. With everybody's fears put to rest I can go about my gameday activities unburdened by the guilt that I'm part of some larcenous conspiracy to steal the Bills. The ribs are being rubbed, the beer is being chilled and the jersey has been laid out on the bed. Enjoy the game everyone and don't worry Buffalo. I'll be a gentleman.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Food Chain: Us...then Everything Else

Let me start out by saying, I am not an animal person. I didn't really grow up with pets or have any affinity for wildlife/farmlife. We had a cat for a couple years. He ran away one day in a decision that was clearly mutual. In general, I just never really saw what the big deal was. While occasionally likable, most animals came with far more responsibilities than were justified by the odd game of fetch. At times they seem more a smelly nuisance than something worth tending to. That being said, I had recently softened my indifferent stance towards animals. This was mostly a result of seeing how much little Charlie's eyes lit up whenever a dog came near. She was quite taken by her furry, four-legged friends. Even I couldn't help but share in her excitement. The thought even crossed by mind, albeit for just a millisecond, that one day we may get her a dog of her own.

That was then, this is now. The last few days have put me firmly back into the anti-animal camp. Sorry Charlie, but don't blame me. Blame the dog people of Withrow park and the asshats at PETA.

Earlier this week I decided to take her for a quick walk after work. Everything was going swimmingly until a couple of dogs approached us. This was mildly irritating at first as the dogs were off leash in an area clearly marked as an "on leash" area. These signs are uniformly ignored with the offenders never punished. City Hall seems to view the dog lobby as the one constituency you don't want to mess with. They are to Toronto what the religious right is to the States. As I was saying, this started as just another typical act by someone in the city ignoring those around them, much like the subway rider with the iPod playing so everyone is forced to listen to their crap or the douchebag who needs everyone on the patio to hear his conversation. These are the everyday annoyances that one who lives here either learns to deal with or spends their days punching people. The two owners leisurely strolled up to collect their mutts. One of the dogs, some sort of reasonably harmless-looking poodle/terrier thing, suddenly came right up to Charlie's stroller. Before I could react it was poking her with its paws and nose. The poor little thing was petrified. There was the heartwrenching pause at the beginning of her cry where she goes beat red, open hers mouth and is completely silent. All I can hear is the bitch's owner playfully saying something like "Molly, what are you doing?" as he saunters over to collect his dog. Charlie is so distraught it seems almost like she forgets how to breathe. It took so long for her to make a noise that I was almost happy when the screaming commenced. I'm not exactly sure what happened next. Caught up in a dizzying mix of emotions, extreme sadness for my terrified little girl and burning rage at the two dickheads who couldn't control their mutts, I yelled a few choice words while moving around in what would have appeared to be a very erratic fashion. I had conflicting impulses to console her (it had started to pour rain adding another element to the mix) and let the guys and their dogs have it. Presumably my actions prevented the guy from the standard "oh, I think she likes her". You know what I don't like? You and your fucknut dog.

As much as I can recall I didn't say or do anything that was offside. I'm pretty sure I didn't utter any threats of physical harm or make any reference to sexual orientation, race or religion (these guys were clearly Episcopalian). As long as I stayed away from any of that anything else was fully justified. I'm sure my somewhat menacing behaviour may have caused some consternation on behalf of the two owners, which I'm more than fine with. You two jackasses made a one-year old girl cry! The fleeting fear of a deranged 31-year old Dad coming to beat the snot out of you hardly constitutes an eye for an eye.

This left me quite shaken. Screaming at a couple random dudes is not something you expect to be doing on a weekday, nonetheless while sober. By the same token I wasn't expecting to have to console little Charlie who rarely gets that upset. Both were a bit of a shock to my system. It took me longer to calm down than it did Charlie. She's clearly the more resilient of the two of us. Before any of you mention it, I have no connection to the dog poisonings of a few years back. Now if you hear a story about "local dog owners threatened by 5-iron wielding baby girl" then I'll take the fall for that one. Charlie has an alibi.

Now on to PETA, which stands for People who can't think straight bEcause They don't hAve enough protein in their diets. Many of you have by now seen their latest ad that ludicrously attempts to equate the gruesome murder of Tim McLean with the slaughter of animals for human consumption. The offensiveness of this is obvious and intentional. PETA knows that such an opportunistic act of inappropriateness will bring them more press and attention than any number of C-list celebrities picketing a KFC ever could. I will not dignify their cowardly move by arguing against it, which is exactly what they want. Instead I will attack them at their very core as I believe we all should. If you don't like their ad, go buy yourself a hamburger or, better yet, une Foie Gras entier to nibble on at your desk. Protest their idiocy by hitting them wear it hurts. If they want to go offensive, I can do offensive. Maybe there's a way to force feed baby seals with a funnel that will make their livers plump and delicious. Hell, it can't hurt to try. If PETA can be "provocative" so can I. Time to go coat shopping!

"Finally, something for all those Smart Casual parties"


PETA's agenda is an absurd one, particularly as it relates to their desired prohibition of meat. If God hadn't wanted us to eat steak he wouldn't have invented blue cheese or rosemary-sage lemon compound butter. Actually I invented the latter. Lathering it on a steak is a buttery homage to the great Bistecca Fiorentina. You're welcome. He, being God not me, also wouldn't have made meat look, smell and taste like this (you can almost hear Marvin Gaye's "Lets get it on" playing softly as these images scroll by):







It's simply unimaginable that the vision of such delectable treats could be outweighed by some polluted ideology. Just sit back and think of a beautifully medium-rare duck breast with the crispy layer of fat glistening. Or a perfectly braised rack of shortribs falling off the bone. How could that not be appetizing. Or that same duck breast in the shower beside the shortribs after a long day at the sorority charity car wash. A knowing glance, a toss of the hair and then the headmistress pulled pork walks in....

OK, that got a little weird. Anyways, people of PETA you have lost any remnant shred of respectability with this last stunt. They've truly gone too far and, to utilize a horribly overused phrase, have "jumped the vegan fish sticks" here. Thanks to you, my answer to the question "would you like bacon with that" will always be an unqualified "yes!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Favre and Away the League's Biggest Jackass

...so, as it turns out my uncle was right. The correct sayings are "Does a Bear shit in the woods?" and "Is the Pope Catholic?". It took the whole weekend to prove him right. In the end, we dropped Benedict off with a bus ticket home and our sincere apologies before heading off to pick the bear up at St. Mary's. What a crazy weekend that was!

***

Is there anything more tiresome than the Brett Favre saga? Do people really care that much about will or he won't he play (and where) or are we simply in the worst lull in sports history? For the two of you who aren't familiar with the story let me fill you in. Here you'll get one of the few honest accounts of what has actually transpired. The traditional sports media covers Brett Favre with the objectivity of a Pageant Mom telling you about her daughter. I've been told that Peter King takes twice as long to write a column about Favre versus any other subject as he only has one free hand. I actually doubt that's true as, to my knowledge, King has never written a column that doesn't center around Favre.

So, here goes. Favre is a horribly over-rated quarterback who's ego has surpassed his accuracy for at least five years. After ending last season with a championship game-losing pass that even Rob Johnson would have had second thoughts about throwing, some sliver of humility crept into Brett's head convincing him that his gunslinging days were over. With that he announced that he would retire at the ripe old age of 38. A few months later he discovered an "itch" to play again. Instead of doing the respectable thing and scratching that itch with a round of golf and a six pack of High Life, Favre decided to force his way back into the picture. This put the Green Bay Packers, who had understandably decided to move forward with Favre's understudy Aaron Rodgers, in a very awkward position. Favre, who is still under contract, made it clear that he didn't want to share the spotlight with anyone and would rather be traded than have to go to camp as a back-up. Favre refused to consider a trade to out of division teams (the Jets and Bucs being two teams with apparent interest) forcing the Packers to keep him or trade him to a division rival (believed to be Minnesota or Chicago). Basically he is saying either I'm your starting quarterback or I will attempt to destroy you with every ounce of my being. What a competitor! For those of you who don't watch a lot of sports, "competitor" can be loosely translated to "white guy who's an asshole". The term "gamer" can also have the same connotation. Think of what would have happened had Manny Ramirez demanded a trade to the Yankees. Would his efforts be respected, nonetheless commended, by the national media? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Favre has taken "me first" to a level that Rogers Clemens, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have been unable to. For that he deserves far more scorn than he is currently receiving. I wouldn't expect that to change anytime soon, however, as the sports journalism fraternity's love for him is truly blind.

One point of interest from this story, Favre's preferred method of communication is text messaging. Apparently, besides being an over-the-hill egomaniac he's also a 14 year-old girl. Who knew?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mission Accomplished: Part 2

I guess the decorators were a little hasty setting up for the end of season press conference. You'd think they would have learned from what heppened to the last guy who rented that banner.

PS: I rule at photoshop.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Your Ombudsman is Getting a Little Nervous

When the sun rises over Toronto tomorrow morning we will be but two short weeks away from the first game of the Bills in Toronto series. Given what little time we have left I've got to be honest with you, I'm getting a little worried about how we're going to pull this thing off. For some inexplicable reason we have yet to see a meaningful groundswell of support for the games. The ground may be a tad puffy (most likely from all the rain we've had) but even the most optimistic spin doctor at Rogers would be hard pressed to honestly label it swollen. As of now there are plenty of seats still available indicating at least some hesitancy by the local populous to circle the wagons around the Bills. This is all rather ludicrous. What else have we got to grasp on to people? The Blue Jays? Are you f-ing kidding me? The 2008 Jays play with the intensity of a mixed doubles tennis team after a three martini lunch. Today's game, a 3-2 loss, was a perfect illustration of how little the team cares and how increasingly difficult they are to rally around. They had 13 baserunners and scored just twice. Two times they managed to get runners to third with none out only to leave them there. It was quite simply, disgraceful, yet completely in character for this bunch. There are teams that suck because they can't hit, or they can't play defense, or they can't pitch. The Jays don't even have one of those convenient excuses to hide behind. While they can't hit very well they, at least theoretically, have enough firepower to scrape together the three runs a game it would take for them to win much more often than they actually do. What they do have is an unprecedented ability to leave runners in scoring position after getting them there with less than two outs. Not even FEMA can strand people like the 2008 Jays can. I'm not sure there are stats on this but if there are I'm positive they would reveal that this year's Jays squad is the 1927 Yankees of not winning games that are being handed to them.

I was at last night's game and came away with nothing but indifference towards the "home" team. My instinctive nature to cheer for the team has been overwhelmed by just how unlikeable this collection of mediocre, underachieving sloths are. I'm not sure this has ever happened to me. Over the years I have supported some truly awful sides but I can never recall actually writing off the team. This Jays team has achieved what their late-1990s Jays predecessors, the playoff-less Leafs of the last few years and the 3-13 2001 Bills failed to do. That is, to make me not care. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but apparently it is. Right now I would trade Alex Rios for a couple arms. I'm not using the colloquialism for pitchers when I say that. I would literally trade him for some random body parts as I believe him to be that useless.

Well that was a wordy aside, though I do feel better having gotten that out so thank you for sticking with me. Back to my original train of thought, the Jays are clearly not worth your attention or your entertainment dollars. What does that leave you with this summer? The outdoors? Monsoon season has made sure to ruin that. The theatre? A big thumbs down to that. Save yourself the money, go buy the greatest hits of some mediocre act form the past thirty years and string together the song titles with some half-baked segues. You'll have your very own Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys or whatever equivalent crap Mirvish is pushing these days. Friends and Family? That's what Christmas break is for. Travel? Fuel surcharge this, Robert Milton! Nightlife? Don't forget your bluetooth earpiece and gold chains, you big douche. Golf? The average round in the GTA now takes seven and a half hours. Maybe you have that kind of time, the rest of us have jobs. Taxidermy? There's very little money in that anymore. Ultimate Frisbee? Now you're just trying to make me angry!

There are clearly no alternatives. Its quite evident that all we have going for us is the arrival of the Buffalo Bills in our crummy little town. We must embrace them if for no other reason than to make our city look a little less bush league than it actually is. We have to buy about 120,000 seats this year to sell out both games we've been honoured with, a target that we are still well short of. Buffalo, a town with less than a third of our population and a median household income less than half that of Toronto, has sold around 525,000 Bills tickets for this year. Adjusting for higher ticket prices here and the fact that that sports fans in Buffalo have twice the heart of their Torontonian counterparts still leaves us about half a million tickets short of what should be expected of us (taking into account population size, income levels, ticket price and our fairweather nature). This has been an embarrassing display so far.

If we're to put some lipstick on this pig of an effort we must turn things around in a hurry. So pony up Toronto! Buy a ticket, grab a Marshawn jersey and we'll see you on the 14th (or even the kickoff party the night before at Dundas Square - Jim Kelly will be there). Don't worry if you don't know anything about the team or how to act at a football game. That's what I'm here for. I'll fill you in as we get closer to gameday.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Open Letter to Jason Peters

Dear Jason,

I've taken care of pretty much everything. The Marshawn thing went away, that BS story I circulated about James Hardy allowed him to fall to the Bills in the second round and the bone in Poz's arm has been replaced with an unbreakable material which hasn't technically been discovered yet. Everything has been set in motion to get you guys back to the Super Bowl and...wink, wink...make everything right again. Your holdout is the only lingering issue. So do me a favour, report to camp. I've waited too long for all this. I'm really looking forward to the...you know. Sweet Me, do I actually have to spell it out for you? The econd-say oming-csay.

I've done everything within my power but even I can't make up for the loss of an All-Pro left tackle. Kirk Chambers seems like a nice guy and all but Jason, lets be realistic. The guys a bit of a turnstile. I'm not sure that's the right word as the Hebrew term is difficult to translate and the Aramaic translation probably makes even less sense. I think it loosely translates to a "retarded goat herder with poor footwork". Regardless of what language we're speaking, he sucks hard. Not to put too much pressure on you Jay but there's a fair amount riding on you completing the puzzle here. If not, Belichick may win again. Trust me you can never count that bugger out. Him and I have been going at it since the dawn of time. You have to hand it to him. The guy never gives up.

So in summary, get your ass to Rochester and make nice with the brass. I'll make sure you get yours. Remember, who loves ya? That's right. I do.

Regards,

JC


A letter from on high to Jason of Arkansas regarding the end of a holdout

Friday, July 25, 2008

Run from The Hills, Run for your Liiiiife!

...and that's why you haven't heard anything from Jacob Dylan in the past few years. We knew Bowie was pissed but none of us thought he would have gone that far. Don't let the androgyny fool you. That MoFo's a stonecold killer. He craaaaazy!

***

The other night I was at home watching TV with Mrs. Holt. A commercial came on which completely dumbfounded be. Some douchebag was sitting on a patio with his flakey-looking ladyfriend as she yammered on about something on her cellphone. Two cute girls walked by. Instead of leering at them in the respectable traditional fashion he, being the douchebag, takes his little mobile gadget and snaps a picture of their respective asses as they passed. He then receives a message on that same gadget consisting of a random collection of letters and exclamation marks apparently indicating his mouthbreathing lunch companion takes umbrage with his actions. Cue product logo and slogan. My initial reaction is, am I supposed to know who the Hell these people are? While clearly I am aging rapidly and with every diaper change am drifting further away from whatever it is the kids are into these days, I'm not yet my Dad. I have some sense, at least, of who pop culture's major players are, or at least I thought I did. It was brought to my attention that the douche and douchette in the ad were Brody Jenner and Lauren Conrad. These two, as most of you probably already knew, are "stars" of The Hills. Here is a picture of them at a bachelor auction. They're the couple sitting to the left and right of A-Rod.



"Psst, hey A-Rod. Even I think you're a douche and I'm wearing a hood indoors"


As far as I can tell, The Hills is a reality show that showcases the useless offspring of some very wealthy somebodies in and round Los Angeles. The general plot seems to be based around who can spend the most, do the least, look the most whorish and generally destroy any hopes for a generation turning into anything more than a bunch of useless tits who's emptiness of their souls is only surpassed by the size of their sunglasses. I gleaned this from some very cursory internet research as well as what I've witnessed of the young people that frequent my local Starbucks. They appear to be emulating their role models extremely well. They have finely honed the skills of sitting around a table, carrying on inane conversation and putting away $7 coffees all whilst operating multiple mobile communications devices. You know when old people harken back to the "good old days" when people "knew the value of hard work" and had to walk to school "uphill both ways while being fired on by the North Koreans and the Jerries". I now know exactly what they're talking about. As a father I yearn for the days when kids had "Head of the Class" and "Back to School" as examples of how to live right. Okay maybe not Back to School, unless you were an aspiring platform diver. Hell, compared to things like The Hills that glorify sloth, snobbery and vapidity I'd be happy with Paris Hilton as Charlie's big sister. At least that waify tramp works!

I have now figured out who these asswipes are. What I still can't figure out is why they are being asked to endorse anything. While I was growing up one of the more prominent endorsers was Michael Jordan. The power of his endorsement was best illustrated by the catchphrase "Be Like Mike". This is the basic messages of all endorsements boiled down to its simplest form. Drink this beverage, wear this show or use this tax planning service and you will, in turn, be like whomever it is that endorses that product or service. Throw out the problem gambling and philandering and you can see why someone would want to "Be Like Mike". By the same token the world would be well served if people strive to be like Tiger, Spuds McKenzie or the "Where's the Beef" Lady. Instead we are being told to "Be Like this Douche"! Take pictures of some chick's ass when she walks by! Don't talk in complete sentences! Lunch with your friends rather than hold down a job! Be an embarrassment to your decathlete father! Clearly society is doomed.

...or is it.

Bills training camp opens today. Maybe a playoff run from everybody's favorite team will get us turned around as a society. Just look at the slogan written on the hat of Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay (or maybe it's Schobel....or Denney....all you white guys look alike).




Adversity Introduces Us to Ourselves. Now that's the type of message I want little Charlie exposed to. Its also the sort of thing I want to hear from a Bills team that has introduced us to plenty of the aforementioned adversity over the years. To me, it says this is the year (and sorry for the shitshow so far this century)! Reading that gives me a great deal of confidence for the 2008-hopefully 2009 season. If, on the other hand, I was a Patriots fan I wouldn't be so confident after seeing the condition (or lack thereof) their quarterback showed up to camp in.


It sure looks like an offseason of sharing meals with a supermodel has been unkind to Mr. Bunchen. Hey Tom, cigarettes and Veuve does not a training regimen make. Try to mix in a bit of protein or Stroud and Poz will snap you like a twig. If I close my eyes I can almost hear that sound. What sweet, beautiful music it is...

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Unfamiliar Taste of Victory

...so how did I know she was lying? Well, if she were a real unicorn she wouldn't have ordered the duck. They're vegeterians. Everyone knows that.


***

What more can be said about our victory that hasn't been said already? Unless you're being held captive in a remote Colombian jungle you've most likely heard the news that we won our softball championship last night. What? They got out!? They haven't said anything about me have they? Because if they did it's totally made up. I had nothing to do with that. Anyways, it was a nailbiter but in the end the good guys won. Stay tuned for details about the parade route.

So I ask you this, is it entirely ridiculous to celebrate victory in an 8-team rec, co-ed slo-pitch league like it's the World Series? Is it absolutely lame that I woke up this morning with a smile on my face due to the fact that we emerged from a grueling 10 week schedule as champions? Is this just an admission that middle-age is approaching and that a meaningless victory in a meaningless league is all we have to grasp on to?

I say, not a chance. Despite the league we play in not being much, at least we won. We emerged as the victors amongst the also-rans, the tallest midget, the best English dentist, the toughest guy in Il Divo. As much as we all try to downplay the competition element of these games you can only do so much to fight human nature. Regardless of the level at which the sport is being played there is an innate need to end up victorious. When you get on the field you want to win and when you do, it feels really good, no matter what the circumstances are. On the flipside unless you're Vince Carter, it hurts to lose and, thankfully, we didn't.



Whatever the contest, its always better to win (even if you're a ginger)


The stakes are raised when there is a specific reason to dislike the opponent. In this case there clearly was. This bunch of douchebags which would have turned even the most easy going person into a rabid partisan. Beyond the usual chippiness that always comes out in championship games, of which both sides were equally guilty, there were other reasons to root against this other team. Firstly, these silly jokers brought music to the game. Instead of acceptable softball fare they inexplicably decided to go with some sort of generic dance mix. It seemed to be a type of club music that had been stripped down of any sort of actual bass. If there's such thing as Christian Instrumental Dance Music this was it. Secondly, someone on their team (or more likely a couple on their team) brought their young child to the game. The game started at 8:45 and went well past 10:00. My Dad instincts immediately kicked in when I heard this poor child, who was clearly up well past his/her bedtime, bawling on their bench. Clearly this was an important game but at some point your duty to your child overrules your duty to your co-ed, recreational slo-pitch team. Next game find a sitter or stay at home, jerks. The softball Gods frown on bad music and bad parenting. When you think about it, the result wasn't really all that surprising.

***


I'd just like to end with a quick Hapy 4th of July to everyone South of the Border. I'll do so with a visual tribute to America. Enjoy.





Friday, June 27, 2008

The Pitfalls of Focus Groups

...clearly there's a right time and a wrong time for a hug. Judging by the look on the face of the busdriver I'll assume his vote goes in the "wrong time" column.

***

We all love democracy but it clearly doesn't work in all situations. Occasionally the "one man, one vote" approach leads us into situations that should be avoided and would have been in a situation where one reasonable party simply made an executive decision. Case in point a recent focus group utilized by the good folks at Anheuser-Busch to help them come up with a new product. Here's an excerpt of what occurred:


Moderator: "Thanks everyone for helping us come up with a great new addition to our lineup. We'll just go around the table and each of you can tell me what you would like in a new product. We'll start with you (points to first participant)."


Person #1: "Well I'm a pretty normal guy so I'd just like a beer, maybe something not too heavy for the summer".


Person #2: "I'm not much of a beer drinker but I still like the odd drink. Maybe something with a bit of fruit. Did I mention I'm a 16 year-old girl?".


Person #3: "I like to go on vacations and then brag to people about how much better things are wherever I was than at home even if its not true. Can we somehow incorporate an exotic location so I can use the product to remind everyone where I've been? While you're at it, can you bring back Tahiti Treat?"


Person #4: "I'm morbidly obese but don't want to make any real changes to my lifestyle. Surely there's a drink that will trick me into thinking its good for me even though there's no chance it is. These donuts are carb-free right?"


Person #5: "I have a pee fetish. Anything you can do to play to my palette would be appreciated."


Person #6: "Having been at sea for several moons I've got a touch o' the scurvy. This ol' sea dog's fightin' a bit o' the vitamin C deficiency."


Moderator: "Thanks everyone for your input. I think we have a way to make all of you happy".


...and this is how we ended up with this:


Correction

It was erroneously reported yesterday in "Marshawn's Mulligan" that Tom Brady killed 17 migrant workers and buried them in his family's vineyard. That was regrettably a false statement. It was in fact, an apple orchard not a vineyard. We'd like to apologize to Mr. Brady, his friends in the Bush Administration, the Patriots organization, the owner of the vineyard and the families of the 17 migrant workers. We have since dismissed our fact checker. Here is a shot of her receiving the bad news.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Marshawn's Mulligan

...so when someone asks you "do I need to draw you a picture?" in a sarcastic tone I would answer "no", particularly if they're good at drawing. Chances are they're going to draw you something very disgusting. Trust me on this one.

***


Let me first disclose that I am not a completely detached observer when it comes to the alleged Marshawn Lynch alleged hit and alleged run. I must admit that I am a Bills fan. There is a possibility, albeit slight, that my views on this subject are being clouded by my allegiance to the team and to their future hall of fame running back in particular....allegedly. With that being said I do think we need to use a bit of restraint when it comes to how we judge Marshawn.

First let's hear Marshawn's side of the story. As per the report in the Buffalo News Marshawn and his passenger, rookie receiver Steve Johnson, were unaware they hit anything or anyone as it was dark, rainy and they were "distracted" by a woman walking in front of Ms. Shpeley. The reports from eye witnesses that the car never slowed down could back this up (the victim has a different account but her vision may be clouded by the dollar signs in her eyes, not to mention the impact from an SUV and a dozen cans of High Life). The players' story could also be corroborated by the fact that Marshawn made no effort to hide the SUV or clean off the nacho cheese stains on the hood. As for the distraction, here's a picture of the girl. You have to admit that would be very distracting at 3:30 in the morning.



Clearly this may capture your attention even if you weren't high, which of course no one was. I'm not even sure why I brought that up. Forget I mentioned it.


Let's assume however that Marshawn is guilty of something here. It could be nothing more than driving without his contact lenses but is most likely something more serious than that. He has, to some degree or another, made a mistake and exercised poor judgment after the fact. By no means do I want to play down what happened to Ms. Shpeley. I have a daughter, admittedly not one who would jaywalk on Chippewa wearing dark clothes at 3:30 AM in a driving rain storm, but I can still empathize somewhat with how disturbing this could be for her and her family. How then do we react? Do we, as some already have, lump Marshawn in with all the other troubled gun-toting, dog-electrocuting, wife-smacking problem athletes? In short, that seems like a bit of a stretch.

From all accounts Marshawn is not a "bad guy". He's a fun-loving kid who, like most 22 year-old instant millionaires, needs to grow up. I'm willing to give him a pass on this one indiscretion. If, in the future, we see a pattern of behaviour that indicates some more serious character issues then I'll be the first to call for him to be run out of town. For now he gets the benefit of the doubt particularly given that we're just at the beginning of the game here. Think of it like a round of golf. If you're new to the game and hit something fat, errr....out of bounds, you'd get a mulligan. That's what this is. We'll forget about that first mistake, Marshawn. Let's just try to keep it on the fairway from here on in.

Regardless of what I or other fiercely objective commentators may say this will haunt Marshawn for awhile. There is no doubt the fact that Marshawn is young, black, dreaded and grilled will play into perception here. It goes without saying that if Marshawn Lynch from Oakland was Gary Wiseborough from Elmira this incident would be viewed more in the "boys will be boys" vein. Hell, as a teenager Tom Brady killed 17 migrant workers and buried them in his family's vineyard but for some reason no one brings that up anymore. Perhaps we could afford Marshawn just an ounce of the same forgiveness in regards to his first offense.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Pride Week from your Bills Ombudsman

Bills fan are a broad, diverse group. Well, actually that's probably not true but just in case it is your Ombudsman would like to send a shout-out to the Bills fans in the LGBT community (let me know if there are some letters that need to be added to the acronym). Here's a little beefcake to help kick-off Pride Week:


Poz is #51 in your program, #1 in your hearts



Former nose tackle Fred Smerlas still rocks the 'stache



and a couple things for the ladies...


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bills in Toronto: An update from your Ombudsman

Trying to create a true Buffalo Bills experience in Toronto is a lot like trying to recruit people for your ultimate frisbee team with a classified ad that doesn't use the word "bi-curious". It's difficult, if not impossible. That doesn't mean, of course, that we shouldn't try. This is why I previously accepted the responsibility of being the Bills in Toronto Ombudsman.

So far there has been a mixed bag of good and bad associated with the games. In the spirit of the late Tim Russert I will try to accentuate the positive. Here's what I like so far:

The coin toss will not be done by the annoying kids from the Rogers Wireless ads:
The Rogers brass were sticklers about this one . It took a great deal of lobbying on your behalf to eliminate this egregious product placement. I'd almost prefer the Fido dogs or a drunk Norm MacDonald in a beaver costume. These kids get on my last nerve. Look at us, we're such great platonic friends handpicked to appeal to key demographic groups that enjoy good clean fun facilitated by cameraphones. To that I say "puuuuuke". These guys were irritating the 10th time I saw them. By the fourteen hundredth time I'm ready to go Anton Chigurh on them. I can't even take a subway ride now without being forced to look at them doing something extreme, dynamic or extremely dynamic. Besides, since when did two straight normal twenty-somethings go camping just the "two of them"? This isn't some deep woods canoe trek where its two men against the wild. Their car is right there at the site. There are only reasons for such a trip, getting high or getting your manlove on. Either way my guess is that they threw the phone to the bear hoping it would destroy the evidence. Meanwhile with the guys away I'm pretty sure the Indian guy is looking to make a move on the cute blonde while also setting up the mediocre brunette in case he gets shot down. In golf that would be referred to as a "good miss".

The Logo is not as bad as it could have been:
The folks in charge get marks here for restraint. There is no corporate logo included or attempts to bundle in other Rogers services. That's a big step for these people. Sure it's only being created so more merchandise can be sold but I'll forgive them for that understandable bit of greed. You wouldn't ask a chain smoker to quit cold turkey so we'll let this little relapse slip. Most importantly, the charging buffalo is prominently in the foreground, the Bills font is correct and they've utilized the existing team colour palette. That's a solid thumbs up in my books. I just used the term "colour palette". Good for me!





That leaves us with my wishlist. These are the unresolved issues that need to be addressed. In reality this is not my wishlist, rather it is our wishlist:

They'll play Our song:
Hopefully it will soon be been confirmed that the "Bills make me want to shout" will be played after every Bills scoring play (though I'm not certain as to whether or not it will be played after a safety). Presumably the Rogers types in charge will want to play some trip-hop club music in the hopes it will put the fans in the mood for another round of Cosmos. I trust less-douchey heads will prevail. For those of you who have never attended a game at the Ralph it may be difficult to comprehend the importance of this song to the crowd and the experience. This is coming from a guy who couldn't be more anti-singalong. I won't even partake in Happy Birthday but once that extra point sales through I'll be belting it out. Hay-ay-ay-ay! Don't worry about knowing the words ahead of time as you just have to repeat what you hear. Even a Toronto sports crowd will be able to follow along.

The Bills PA announcer, John Gurtler Jr., must announce the games:
Gurtler's voice over the public address system will immediately transport you a hundred and eight miles south (and a little bit east. I looked it up on Google Maps). Hopefully every play and stoppage of play will be brought to us by Cellino & Barnes, Mighty Taco and/or M&T Bank. I also expect John to start every address with "Hey Bills fans...". John can be a bit testy so if he's announcing the games please give him your undivided attention. No one wants to hear "Hey VIPs. Could you take out your bluetooth receivers so I can tell you who the Goddamn ball carrier was, you bunch of self-absorbed Assholes!"

There are two hurdles that need to be overcome for this to happen. First the Rogers brass needs to exercise enough common sense to decide to bring John north. Secondly we have to assume he is even allowed to cross the border after his recent legal issues. He, his wife and his son, John III were all arrested after a grad party at the Gurtler home got a bit out of control. First let me ask one thing: what the Hell is happening in Western New York? When did we start arresting families for serving beer to minors? I guess we've let the terrorists win, haven't we. If a man can't buy a couple beers for his son's friends or bump into a woman with his SUV what have we got left? As Thomas Jefferson once said "A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither". Amen to that Tommy. We need to stand up against this police state. I'm in the process of painting my "John Gurtler Graduates!" sign for the rally. I trust you all will be joining me.

If Donna Martin was allowed to graduate so should John Gurtler III



Music. I trust they will consult with the Bills in-game staff to ensure the right mix of Crazy Train and non-Crazy Train. It's a delicate balance. The Might Taco theme song must also be utilized at some point.

Field Design. There better be a giant charging buffalo on the 50 or heads will roll. You can stick your little series logo off to the side. If there is any mention of the opposing team on the turf the rest of your body will also roll. There are probably some physics and/or geometric challenges in getting a headless corpse to actually roll but don't underestimate what a determined group of Bills fans can do if they put their minds to it. We tore down steel goalposts with nothing but our brawn and elevated blood-alcohol levels.

Tailgating. There have been references to "tailgating" but in the Toronto context this will mean hospitality tents with cover charges, cash bars and mediocre bar skanks wearing t-shirts with vodka logos. Referring to this as a "tailgating" is like being promised you were going to a "party" only to find out you're going to a baby shower. While technically correct it's very misleading. The chances of being allowed to pull your car, truck or bus into a parking lot and crack open a can of beer are slim, Brian Moorman slim. The blame here should be placed squarely on our provincial and municipal governments for their Puritanical drinking laws. Most likely we'll be tailgating in my back laneway or Batavia Party Zone North as it will henceforth be referred to as.

Fat chicks taking their shirts off. Historically this is a staple of Bills games at the Ralph, particularly lopsided affairs (the games not the fat chicks, although now that you mention it...). This one has gone to the league offices and Immigration Canada for an official ruling. I'll let you know as soon as I hear something.

Where are all the characters? Will Elvis, the black guys in the chef hats and Mandy, the blonde who was a 7 out of 10 in 1992 that wears the Tasker jersey (no idea what her name actually is but Mandy sounds about right), make the trip north? Presumably Uncle Ted could spring for some appearance fees to get the most prominent Bills fans here.

Schlock. Regardless of what level they're being played at, most US football games have a healthy dose of heartstring tugging, flag-waving cheese to get the fans going. The formula usually includes a mix of fly-overs, soldier/player's widows, firearms, singing children, the crippled, people dressed as pilgrims, pyrotechnics and old glory. Despite our less "in your face" flavour of patriotism we should at least give Americana schlock a shot while we're hosting Buffalo's team. Right before kick-off I would recommend Kevin Everett standing on top of a humvee carrying Tim Russert's wife above his head with a bald eagle on each of her shoulders. As the Humvee moves towards the 50-yard line a whole bunch of things will explode. The Humvee will be driven by our future: the American Children.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Stadium banners. During the Jays season the outside of the Rogers Centre is adorned with large banners showcasing the stars of the current team. While they could do the same with Bills stars for the Toronto series I have a better idea. The following picture blown up to 75 feet by 75 feet facing the Gardiner will showcase the passion shared by Bills fans of all ages. It may also serve as a bit of a heads-up for opposing team's fans or the indifferent scenesters who are attending the game simply because Toronto Life told them it was the thing to do after brunch on Sundays.

...teach them well and let them lead the way

Now, a quick note on what needs to be changed. The Bills in Toronto website is awful. Despite promises of social media modules (whatever the hell those are), celebrity bloggers and pretty much anything of interest we've been given a heaping amount of SFA. Worse still, that which we have been served up has been nothing but PR at its fluffiest. Reading the "blog" makes Rogers product introductions sound objective. The posts frequently mention NFL fans not just Bills fans which is a potentially disturbing sign as to how much of a "home field" advantage there will be. The obligatory "Go Bills" is delivered with the same awkwardness and conviction of George Bush stumbling through Arabic names.

There's still time to get this thing turned around. Please find someone who's an actual Bills fan to post on the "blog" or at the very least label it "press releases" or "desperate pleas to sell VIP tickets" as to not insult your audience. Even as a pure corporate information site it falls short. Where are the links to press conferences or other media so those of us who are trying to make sure you don't F this thing up can keep an eye on what you're plotting? You're not trying to hide anything from the Ombudsman, are you? That would not be smart. Even if you manage to sneak something by me you must know that Tim Russert is watching and he sees all.

***

We can forgive Rogers for the odd hiccup. We all make mistakes. I once downloaded a Tom Jones sings country album. Lo and behold, it was awful. That being said, I learned from that mistake. Much like Tom Jones, Rogers should stick to what it knows. In the case of Tom Jones it's belting out his cheesy classics whilst dodging knickers tossed by his aging fans. In the case of Rogers its charging as much as you possible can for every last item or service you can get people to buy from you. Concentrate on the gouging and leave the gameday operations to people who now something about football, particularly Bills Football.