Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter

I have discovered a gem. Well, I guess it was not ME who discovered it. But I have now watched the biggest movie ever to be written and filmed in Ottawa with Ottawa actors and Ottawa scenery. It's kind of neat to watch a movie where you can recognize the World Exchange Plaza, or the Art Gallery, or the NAC. And this movie is worth your while if, like me, you have a passion for all things aggressively mediocre.

It actually is about Jesus Christ, fighting vampires. Which is a fairly awesome idea to begin with. But when moviemakers KNOW how bad their movie is, and they embrace it, it becomes well worth watching. How many movies have lines like"if I'm not back in five minutes, call the pope"?

The best scene in the film is when 74 "atheists" leap out of the SAME SUV, and menace Jesus. Announcing themselves as atheists. WE ARE ATHEISTS! So, of course it is natural that they would want to engage in a kung-fu battle with Christ. The best moment is when a large man with a stick-on afro pulls out a fro pick and uses it to menace Jesus.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is not worthwhile just because it's from Ottawa. It has it's own merits as well. Sketchy though they may be.

Friday, January 26, 2007

NHL schedule

Randall and I have been complaining for a couple of weeks about the fact that the NHL has voted not to adjust their schedule for the upcoming season. Most of the owners in our division have voted not to change the schedules for financial reasons. If the New York Rangers play the Islanders and Devils 44 times a year, they can do all their travelling by bus. So they save money.

By the same token, Roy Mlakar and the Habs owner vetoed the idea for monetary reasons. Mlakar doesn't want to lose the revenue that 10 sold out Habs games and 21 sold-out Leaf games brings in every year. Some owners have blamed Gary Bettman for this, and they're not all wrong.

The overall good of the league has to supercede, in many cases, the good of individual franchises. The NHL had the right idea a while ago when they decided to market their superstars. What happened to that? Sure, guys like Crosby and Ovechkin market themselves with spectacular plays, and commercial endorsments, and the fact that one or the other is on Sportsnet highlight reels every single night. But who hears about the other up-and-comers? Who talks about Dion Phaneuf and his ilk?

And now, because the NHL is happy with the status quo, and wants to milk the "rivalry" thing until it dries up, we won't even see Dion Phaneuf in Ottawa this year. In Calgary and Edmonton, they will not see the Leafs for two more years. The only way to make the NHL big enough to make it in the States (and they are having real troubles there now) is to have larger-than-life superstars. You know how many TV viewers the NBA has lost since Michael Jordan retired? Well, about as many viewers as the PGA tour has picked up since Tiger Woods started winning every tournament he played.

And unfortunately for the NHL, the rivalry thing is dying already. Seriously, how much can you care about Leafs-Senators when it happens every weekend? They play so much that any interest I had in the rivalry is gone. Same goes for Montreal. And there is no real rivalry with Boston or Washington, so why do I have to watch them 40 times a season? I'd much rather see Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla, and Joe Sakic a few more times each year.

The only way the owners will vote for a change in the schedule that allows us to see the Western teams more often is to trade either Crosby or Ovechkin to a Western team. That way the owners MIGHT just think, hey, we should be able to get that Ovechkin kid in our building at least once a year! So I hope that happens. If not, we'll just have to wait for Rory Fitzpatrick to bust out with that 200-point season he's been sitting on for so long.

Reggae music is awesome

I'm reading an amazing book right now. It's put out by Rough Guide, a record company that specializes in World Music. When you get a CD of African music, it's wuite likely that Rough Guide has something to do with it. The book is called A Rough Guide To Reggae, and it's fascinating.

For anyone who cares even a little about reggae, or knows the name of one reggae artist whose name doesn't start with Bob and end in Marley, this book is a gem, and I've never read anything so complete on one subject before.

I consider myself somewhat of a student of reggae, but it turns out that what I didn't know could fill a book. This book, it seems. Oh, I knew all about Prince Buster and U-Roy and the Skatalites and Joe Gibbs' No Bones For the Dogs, but this Rough Guide to Reggae makes it clear that their stories are every bit as interesting as their music.

Today's rappers have nothing on the deejays and ska artists of 1960s-70s Jamaica when it comes to being hardcore and having street cred. There were "sound systems" in Jamaica at the time. These were owned only by well-to-do promoters, and it was the only chance people had to hear the music. So dances would be set up here and there around, say, Kingston or Clarendon. And the competition between each sound system and their owners was intense.

Deejays would talk over the records, which were mostly rythm and blues records they managed to get in from the States. There was almost no original Jamaican music at the time. But the deejays were not just speaking, they were watching their backs, because the rival dance promoters were sending their street gangs around to disrupt the competition and destroy their party. Murders were rare, but they happened, and the violence was, frankly, amazing to read about.

So eventually they discovered that there were talented performers right there in Jamaica, and it would be cheaper to have them cut records there, rather than trekking all the way to the US to search local underground record stores for the latest Otis Redding albums. But how do you get a chance to be one of the stars who records an album for a promoter? Well, usually only those who had done him a service would be allowed to cut a record. And the only real way to perform that service for him was to defend him against the rival thugs, which meant that 90 percent of the original Jamaican ska artists had knifed someone, or beaten them to a pulp, or some other such unpleasant task had been performed on the promoter's behalf.

I'm only seven chapters in, and I haven't even reached the rocksteady years, let alone the Wailers and reggae's heyday. But I can't stop reading. Hardcore guys whose music was actually good? Unheard of! (Take that 50 Cent. Please don't shoot me.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Best ever road trip for guys...and really cool women.

My buddy Bozz was over yesterday, and we got to talking about a road trip we have been planning for about six years, but we never got around to doing it. We have always wanted to go on a "Hall of Fame" road trip. All the major Halls of Fame are within a fairly short distance of one another, and none are that far from Ottawa.

This time, we actually mapped it out, and we're hoping to take the trip, planning around a Green Bay Packers away game. Both Bozz and myself are huge Packers fans, and we are also both convinced that with the encouraging 8-8 record of last year, Brett Favre will be back. And how cool would it be to be at the game where Favre breaks Dan Marino's record for career TD passes? Bozz was at the Lions game earlier this year where he threw his 400th TD, and I'm incredibly jealous.

There are two possible games we could hit - Detroit (although he was there this year, and we'd like to go somewhere we haven't been) and New York for the Giants game. If it's Detroit, we go to Toronto and hit the hockey Hall of Fame on Friday, then Hamilton for the CFL Hall on Saturday, then Detroit for the game Sunday morning. From there it's less than three hours to Cleveland, where you would sleep Sunday night.

Monday morning, you get up and spend the whole day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's a whole day kind of thing. Monday evening, you drive to Canton, which is less than an hour from Cleveland. You stay there, and check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday, then drive 7 hours to Cooperstown for the baseball Hall, which is Wednesday morning. Wednesday evening, it's two and a half hours to Springfield, to the Basketball Hall.

I've been to Springfield for the Basketball Hall of Fame. In fact, I was there two days after Wilt Chamberlain died. The flag was still at half-mast, and there was a black ribbon on his plaque. The girl I was with at the time said "is he the one who slept with all those women? Did he die of AIDS?" At least she knew who he was.

But from Springfield, it's about a six hour drive back to Ottawa, and you're done. You leave Ottawa Friday morning, and you're back the following Thursday evening. And you've spent quality time at every major Hall of Fame that would interest guys (except maybe NASCAR or something, but that's far, and we don't care).

Is this the best idea ever or what? If I ever get fired, I'm setting up a tour company that sends a bus on this tour six times a year, and making millions. I think you can get guys to take a week off work for something this awesome.

Of course, if we end up going to a Giants game instead, we just do it in reverse. Cooperstown, Springfield, New York City (well, the Meadowlands is in Jersey, but you have to see the Statue of Liberty, or Ground Zero, or Times Square, or a real New York street thug, or something), Canton, Cleveland, skip Detroit, then Hamilton-Toronto-Ottawa. Beautiful!

KFC vs. Pamela Anderson

So Pamela Anderson is going on about KFC again. Now she doesn't want the US to honour Colonel Sanders on a postage stamp, since he made a name for himself by scalding and dismembering chickens. And chickens can't speak for themselves, so Pammy has taken it upon herself to be the voice of those worldess birds. Which is fine.

Over the past couple of days, as we talked about this on the show, the whole thing became basically a commercial for KFC. KFC is delicious. And the reason for this, I feel, is that we had to make a choice. Were Pamela Anderson ever to come visit me in the CHEZ studio, I would gladly renounce my views on eating chickens, and I may even pledge never to eat at KFC again. I mean, it's Pamela Anderson! Just don't ask me to give up my Burger King. Or Subway. I love that steak and cheese.

But the chances of her dropping by our studio are slim. And the chances of KFC hearing us discuss KFC, and sending us a free bucket, are far greater. So, the educated decision was to go with KFC over Pam. Until she's in town and might be listening.

Now, KFC has taken all the "trans fats" out of their chicken. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I have no idea what trans fats are, but that my appearance is indicative of the fact that I have obviously consumed many a trans fat in my lifetime. But we were told that the taste had been adversely affected by the removal of said "trans fats". So we had to find out, and Doc brought in a bucket of chicken this morning.

It turns out that it is true, the taste is different. Woody and Randall thought it was worse. Randall wanted some salt, or thought perhaps if he was eating it at home he would have doused it in hot sauce. This, of course, did not stop him from having three pieces. I, on the other hand, actually liked the new stuff better. Not only is the taste less overpowereing (less like the spices and herbs and so forth, but more like chicken), but it also doesn't wreak havoc with your insides.

In the past, KFC would go right through me like crap through a goose (to borrow an expression from Patton). But now, I could actually enjoy it, and here it is five hours later, and I don't have the ring of fire, I don't feel like I've left a small part of my insides behind, and I could actually eat KFC again! That, in my opinion, makes it a success. Whoever invented this stuff should get his face on a stamp or something.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oscars!

Last year's Oscars encouraged me quite a bit that good movies are again making progress in the world. The fact that Crash, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich were nominated for best picture helped wash a bit of the "Titanic" years out of my mouth. However, the fact that the years actual best movie, A History of Violence, was not even nominated, convinced me that there was a way to go.

This year, I see the nominees list, and I realize I have barely seen any of the movies up there. As CHEZ 106's resident movie critic, perhaps this means I have been derelict in my duties. Although I do have Little Miss Sunshine and Half Nelson on order from zip.ca, they have yet to arrive. In fact, the only films I've seen are in obscure and obnoxious categories, for the most part.

Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest...best...sound editing? Who cares? I have also seen Cars (Best Animated Feature), which I didn't much care for, An Inconvenient Truth (best documentary), which should really win Best Picture, and Water (best foreign language film), which is excellent. Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta has made an Indian-language film, sho in India, with Indian actors. We claim this as a Canadian film because...She is a Canadian! But the film is terrific. It is the first "Canadian" movie ever nominated in the Best Foreign Film category that was not in French. It deserves to win.

All in all, I suppose that between now and the actual Oscars, I will have to watch many more movies so I can make an informed declaration of who deserves to win and who sucks. Coming soon to cynical cinema!

Jobs!

The job market in Canada appears to be booming, and it seems the bulk of the opportunity is in Alberta. Today I'm headed to a live commercial event at 111 Cooper for Finning, a company that gets people jobs in the West. I thought it sounded rather odd, that they would want to pay to have a live announcer at what is essentially a job fair, but I think I was wrong.

Three people have called in this week during the Doc and Woody show about the event. That's unheard of for a live commercial. We can run ads for weeks leading up to something and people will take note, but they never call in about it, they just show up. This time, the interest certainly seems to be there among the tradespeople.

My grandfather sent me an email a while back, telling me that if I was smart, I should give my two weeks notice here, drop everything I was doing, move to Edmonton and just plain start working. My grandfather, however, does not believe this radio thing I do will work out for me. In fact, I'm not sure he thinks this is my job. He seems to believe it's my hobby, something I do on the side while I still earn my actual living working at North American Security.

But he's not wrong. Were I still making my living working at a security company, or at Esso, or any of the myriad of jobs I've had before CHEZ, I wouldn't hesitate. I could do the same thing in Calgary and make a better living, and I'm definitely certain I could find a better job. I'll have to check when I get there, but if they have radio jobs, I'm outta here!

The job fair, for all those interested, is at 111 Cooper this afternoon between 2-6. It may actually go longer, I'm not certain, but that's the time I'm there.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Doc's birthday

Doc turned 50 this monday morning, and his fiancee, Terry, managed to organize a fairly extensive surprise party without his knowledge. Doc is not the sort of man who enjoys this sort of thing, and his face upon entering the kitchen was priceless. In fact, he still had the same expression when I left to go to Walkley Bowling at 8:00.

I have never seen Doc drink more than one drink at one time. Except on Saturday. By the time I left, he was on his way, and this morning he was still rather hung over. Before he lost track of himself, Doc said two things to me. First he said that if I knew about this, he would kill me. I pointed out that if I didn't know about it, then I must be there to see his girlfriend, and would that be better? The second thing he said was that he was impressed...or maybe disappointed...that I had somehow become sort of an adult.

I got him a present, you see. Mostly because for the first time in my life I was going to an event where a present would be appropriate, and I knew what to get. Golf balls. Every year, Doc and I both bitch a little about the fact that people want to do big fancy things for us, but all we actually want or need is golf balls. Me more so than Doc, because I will lose 17 balls in one trip around Falcon Ridge. And also because that way I feel better about stealing his when I run out.

Doc also accused me of "growing up" because I got him a card. I think, however, he may have skipped the card during the festivities later on, since he never noticed that it was actually a Christmas card I had left over from the holidays. I'm not even sure I signed it. I'm not responsible yet, dammit! But nothing I could have brought would top Randall's gift, of several bags of thawed-out brussels sprouts and a "weiner cleaner", a device that I guess is used to clean your "weiner" in the shower. Or in the kitchen, if that's your deal. You could get the same effect by drilling a hole in a bar of soap. but then it would not come in such a pretty box.

Finally warm

I have now recovered enough from my brief sojourn into the world of homelessness to be able to write once again. The 24 hours of homelessness event went extremely well. For the homeless, not for me. We managed to raise $5,600 dollars in the first day alone. The goal, over the next 35 days, is to raise $50,000 for Operation Go Home, so we're off to a good start.

I was sleeping outside near Rideau street with Chris Day of CTV and Mike Hamilton, who works for Capcorp, and is on the board of directors for Operation Go Home. I had been up since 3 a.m., so of course I was the first to go to sleep. At 2:00 a.m. The snow started at 2:30. Of course, the other two guys were still awake, and were able to fashion an igloo of sorts out of some big boxes and a blanket. Leaving me, of course, completely uncovered for the night.

I woke up with two inches of snow on my face, at around 4:00. I could not for the life of me go back to sleep, so I was left to freeze and wait for Doc and Woody to phone when the show started. By the time I left, I was chilled right through to the bone. It's amazing when I think of how unpleasant it was for me, when I had to do it for only one day. That way, there's an end in sight. But to think that some of these children don't know from one night to the next if they will be sleeping on the street or in an apartment.

The kids get apartments from time to time, and when one of them does, dozens of others will show up in the winter to crash on their florr, since at least it's warm. But when that option is not available, it's pretty much the street. 15 and 16 year olds don't go to the Salvation Army shelter or the Mission. It is not a good place for the younger ones. So they sleep on the street, risking the weather, and the violence that recently claimed a young man named Cactus, one of their own. The Operation Go Home drop-in centre has been re-named in his honour.

Over the weekend, I was doing live commercials at the Embassy West hotel and at Audiotronic on Merivale, and some generous listeners came by to donate even more money to the cause of Operation Go Home. Every donation is very much appreciated, and I will be dropping the money off this week. Any more donations can be made at www.operationgohome.ca.