Saturday, February 10, 2007

Skiers care too!

Yesterday I was out at a CHEO event at Mont Saint Marie, where a bunch of skiers raised some money for CHEO. 66,000 bucks, to be exact! Unbelieveable! I did the "live auction" part of the show, and that raised 7,000 bucks on its own. Great to see the generosity from the skiing community. A fantastic event.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The titular art exhibit

We have become increasingly irritated over the last few months at the contingent in Ottawa who are complaining about lack of funding for the arts. I remember having virtually the same conversation with my mom when I was about eleven. She was complaining, at the time, that the Senators were getting a ton of money from the city. Money that should go to the arts, (mostly because she hated sports). My mom plays in the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, which (I think) gets no money from the government. And I said I didn't think they should. They pack the house for every show, the musicians are semi-professional, and they ought to be able to come out of the year having made a profit. My point at the time was that the Senators, while they did make an enormous profit, and were clearly self-sufficient, needed some government help in the form of tax breaks to compete with the American teams and ensure that Ottawa would be able to keep their hockey team.

And Ottawa needs a hockey team. We also need a symphony orchestra and an art gallery. These things keep the local economy moving forward. What we don't need is a giant inflatable banana over Texas. What good does that do us, and why are we footing the bill? Do we NEED someone who takes pictures of other art from around the world and displays them? And do we need to PAY for it? It seems to me that the money we should invest in the artistic community should go to people who are trying to establish themselves as artists, and to the gallerys that might display their art. Yet our government waits until people have already established themselves, then they give them a tiny handout to keep on keeping on. How does that help? And if you need handouts to continue being an artist, how successful can you be to begin with?

OK...what this all boils down to is that I'm going to have a gallery showing of the greatest art in Ottawa - why greatest? Because it's easy as hell, takes 6 minutes a canvas, costs $3.18 per painting, and it looks as good to me as some of the artwork I see hanging around town. The Parkdale Gallery, (formerly the Ugly Club beside the Carleton Tavern), at a date to be determined (but early March, most likely) will be hosting an exhibit of my ass painting for two weeks, after which we will auction off said paintings for CHEO. Now all we need is a title. And it has to sould classy so Ottawa's artsy community may actually show up and then get treated to a live show. A few good suggestions have been thrown out there - The Good, the Butt and the Ugly is OK, but too obvious. Tushing the Envelope I like...The Ottawa International Fine Arse Festival...it's a work in progress. Still taking suggestions!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Diapers, wigs and more ass painting.

Eventful show this morning...apparently Doc doesn't like being called a "mouth breather". Who knew?

So some lunatic astronaut lady in the States drove 900+ miles wearing a diaper in order to murder some romantic rival of hers. The diaper was so that she didn't have to stop to pee, the garbage bags, rubber hose, mace, rubber mallett and BB gun were for kidnapping and I guess murder. Fun! So of course the emails pour in - let's get Eric in a diaper! That's always funny.

No. It is not funny. It's obnoxious. Sometimes that works, but having been in a diaper 5 times or so on the show, it's been done. In fact, we tried to get this over with a while ago. The first couple of years, I wore no diapers, and I wore no pink tutus. Yet all I heard from people was "remember that time you were in the diaper?" or, "remember when you were in the pink tutu?" I had never been. So we decided to get it all over with at once.

I went to various busy intersections in Ottawa and danced in a diaper. In the winter, I went outdoors and took figure skating lessons wearing a pink tutu. It's done, right? Nope. People still love the diaper. Doc is as tired of the "diaper" stuff as I am, so he ignored it. Then he made fun of my art. And I called him a mouth breather. And he made me put on the diaper. And a wig and a trenchcoat, and a full crazy-astronaut disguise. Which was fine. I walked through the halls of the office, no one paid much attention. They've seen stuff like this so often, they just figure it's Thursday and go on about their buisiness. But Doc made me go to Julie's office. THAT was scary.

Julie is our office manager. I think. I don't really know what everyone in the office actually does, I just know them by name and appearance. Sometimes not even that. After all, I'm gone every morning at 9. But I know Julie. Julie is the lady who frightens me every time one of our bands or artists shows up for the show early and I have not been downstairs to meet them. She's the one who makes me feel like I have violated the most sacrosanct of rules when I neglect to sign in the whole band. Even when Dan Akroyd came to the studio, I had to sign him in for fear of reprisal, because wouldn't my face have been red had he been the guy out to bomb us.

But more than anything, Julie has never laughed or even cracked a smile when seeing me in the latest ridiculous outfit. When I'm wearing hip-waders or a chicken suit or a giant thong, I avoid Julie because I know I'm going to get that "I disapprove and am disgusted as well" look. Well, got that look again! And the quick "I'm disgusted, go before I file a complaint" hand motion to beat it out of her office. Done! I'm gone. Now Jeff Brown is upset, because, as my boss, he is going to have to deal with all the repercussions and provide the explanations for this later today. Sorry Jeff. Not my idea! It was that mouth-breather Doc!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

It's our year. Senators will win the Cup.

I've decided that this is the year. Ottawa has been one of the favourites to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of every year for the last five or six seasons. Come playoff time, they are still one of the favourites. But it never happens. They have not even been to a Cup final.

There have been detractors. People who say "Emery can't win the big one". Or, "Alfredsson is not a playoff player". All garbage, of course. They have just run up against temas whose time has come and who are better prepared for those series. They have yet to get over that Leafs-in-the-playoffs thing, but Toronto no longer looks like a team that can take anyone out come playoff time. Not that they did before either, but a nemesis for Ottawa they certainly were.

If all of this sounds kinda familiar, I think that's because we've heard almost the exact same thing the last six weeks as the NFL geared up for the Super Bowl. "The Colts have been favoured every year." "Peyton Manning can't win the big one." "They never get past New England." Hmmm. Wrong.

Comparing the Leafs to three-time Super Bowl champ New England may be a bit of a stretch, but the other parallels are there. Indianapolis has been favoured to win it all for three, four years in a row. Every year, they started off undefeated for like 8,9,11 games, then tailed off a little, then fell apart once they hit New England in the playoffs.

Everyone measured Manning against the thing he had NOT won. Now, again, comparing him tosay, Alfredsson is a stretch also. Only a goalie can make as much of a difference for a hockey team in the playoffs as a quarterback can for a football team. But just having a goalie is the same as just having a quarterback. Not enough. Even Patrick Roy did not do it by himself in 1993 with the Habs, and even Brett Favre had help in 1997 with the Pack.

But this season Indy was verging on ordinary. By that I mean, that they were just excellent, and not sensational, and they flew under the radar. And, going into the playoffs, they were NOT the number one contender for the first time in years. In fact, so jaded is the betting public about the Colts and their ability to win in the playoffs, that moments after they WON the Super Bowl, oddsmakers had San Diego as the odds-on favourite to win it all next year!

I think the Senators find themselves in a similar position this year. If they go into the playoffs as a number two, three or four seed out of the East, they will be under the radar in a similar way. People will forget how they "choked" in previous years, because the focus will be on can Buffalo, or Anaheim, or Nashville, or Detroit, tear up the playoffs like they have the regular season.

It strikes me it is easier to win a road series (where you have four shots to win a road game and three to win at home) is easier than winning a road playoff game in the NFL. And the easiest way to do it is when you are, to some degree, the underdog and all that pressure is eased off a little. Don't be surprised if we see Alfredsson wearing his Peyton Manning smile come June.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

More fun things to do with Tyra Banks that aren't sexual.

Some more ideas...I know most of us don't drink at the same time as we watch daytime TV...at least, I don't think so. But there may come a day where you need to, and I'm just trying to help.

Every time the "expert of questionable credentials" responds to Tyra using unnecessarily big words to make them seem more authoritative on a subject, take a drink. Example: "Yes Tyra, I concur. You see, we are observing a trend among today's youth toward a greater dichotomy in that very area, and it could have very dire repercussions in the foreseeable future." If Tyra then nods as though she knows what that "expert" is talking about, but you can tell for a fact that she doesn't, finish your beer.

If she makes reference to how she looks in the morning, ro without makeup on, take a drink. Every time she laughs at one of her own jokes, take a drink. If you can tell it was supposed to be a joke, take TWO drinks. And if the joke makes YOU laugh...stop drinking.

And if you turn on the Tyra Banks show, and it's an episode where she dresses up in a "fat suit" or in "ugly person" makeup to see how the "other side" lives, you must drink everything in front of you by the time the hour is up. It's the only way to make it through one of those painful episodes!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Something to do when you have beer left over.

I had a few beers left over from Super Bowl, and today I have discovered a great way to use them AND make the Tyra Banks show bearable.

Every time Tyra makes reference to herself being beautiful, take a drink. Every time she takes what the panelists say and turns it into an inane story about herself, take a drink. Every time she introduces a doctor or an author of questionable credentials, take a drink. And every time she suggests that discrimination is wrong, ie: fat people can be beautiful too, not all white people are evil, or it's really mean to hate someone just becasue they are incarcerated, take a drink.

It turns out I didn't have enough beer left over.

A great idea.

I have a terrific idea. The NFL should push back the Super Bowl a couple of weeks. That way, every five years or so, Super Bowl Sunday would fall on Valentine's Day. Something for the men, something for the women. Women, I find (in a broad generalization) hate the Super Bowl about as much as men hate Valentine's Day.

And vice versa. Men love the Super Bowl as much as women love Valentine's Day. And make no mistake, the Super Bowl is all about men, and Valentine's Day is all about women. And Hallmark stores. So if we were to combine the two, every few years, it would give men some respite from the dark suck-hole that is Valentine's Day, even if it is only once or twice a decade. And on the years where they don't coincide, at least there's something to look forward to a few days later.

And women would be able to get through the Super Bowl on those other years too, knowing that they will soon get the flowers and dinner and chocolates and cards and shop-vacs that Valentine's Day inevitably brings. Everybody wins!

Super Bowl is always Super. But so is Guitar Hero.

My girlfriend was very excited for the Super Bowl this year. Although she complains like crazy every Sunday, all season, that I'm not paying any attention to life outside football, she slowly became somewhat of a fan over the course of the year.

And it meant that she got a chance to plan a party. Women love planning parties. She cooked for two days to prepare. My lone contribution was one of those cream cheese-sour cream-salsa-and-cheese dips, which took me about four hours to prepare.

So there was enough food for fifty, but the sixteen of us went through all of it in two days. You can't do the Super Bowl in moderation. You must consume giant amounts of food and beer, and in my house it's a two-day event. Most people can't get really crazy on a Sunday night, so we began on Saturday evening.

Ted brought over a video game called Guitar Hero. It's on the Playstation, I think. I don't know. I don't have a video game system, and I don't play video games. But I LOVE this one. It's crazy addictive. The proudest moment I've had in the last year was when I made it all the way through Free Bird without getting booed off the stage.

So we drank some...or a lot...and in the morning I got up at 6:30 to go to the Walk for Diabetes at St. Joseph's High School in Barrhaven. When I got home, everyone was still asleep. Fortunately, I had purchased seven of those king-can energy drinks for the weekend. At 4:00, we resumed Guitar Hero until game time. I currently hold the high-score record on Ted's game for the Allman Brothers' Jessica. That's right, I'm the man. Or, the nerd.

I was cheering for the Colts, since I wanted Peyton Manning to get it over with. I don't want to spend the rest of my football-watching life listening to Chris Berman speculate over when will Peyton finally win the big one and get the monkey off his back and answer the critics and get out of the shadow of Dan Marino.

Well, success! Although, I have to give credit to my buddy Danny Ray, who not only called the final point spread, but also called the opening play. He said "you know, Hester's going to break one in this game". And I said "it'll be in the second half" and he said "nope. First play." And he was right! And he's never right about anything!

At half time we ignored Prince for a while in order to have more time on Guitar Hero. Doc and Woody are very curious about this game now, so I have to bring it in tomorrow on the show. It might be a great show, or maybe the worst show ever, since this game is so addictive that Woody might forget to hit buttons and we might do ten-second segments so we can get back to the game. We'll see.

Place D'Orleans and the madhouse that is Toys For Boys.

Last year we set a record for attendance at a live commercial during a Toys For Boys event. I think about 700 people came by that one. On Saturday, (I don't know for sure), but I think we broke the 1,000 people mark. We printed 2,000 bonus codes, just in case, and we went through at least half. This platinum nation thing is getting an unbelievable response, and it's great to see.

We had every single prize in the prize package on display in the mall. Well, except the "beer for a year" and the freezer full of red meat. But we DID have the $10,000 shopping spree at Place D'Orleans on display. It looked to me like nine giant shopping bags full of tissue paper. I hope that whoever wins Toys for Boys finds something better to buy than really expensive tissue paper.

I love events like this, because you get to meet so many people all at once. But it gets crazy. By the end, I had absolutely no time to prepare my cut-ins, and I sounded like crap. In fact, when there are that many people coming by for bonus codes and such, I was actually talking to people right up until the second I was on the air.

And that's fine. I don't mind people trying to talk to me really quickly to grab a code while I'm about to go on the air. And most people understand that when I have the microphone in my hand I don't have a lot of time to chat. But there was one woman who didn't quite get it.

I was about to start speaking, listening on the headphones for my cue, when this woman approached the podium from which we broadcast. She began to ask a question, but I couldn't respond, because I was seconds away from being live on the air. I held up my finger to say "just one second", and she pushed my hand out of the way! I turned away to speak because I heard the cue, and she pushed the microphone out of my hand as well. She was staring at me as though I was being extremely rude, even as I spun away and began the cut-in.

The vast majority of people are terrific, and I love meeting everyone that comes out to our events. But some people just don't get it, and this woman wasn't a listener. She was just walking through the mall and wanted to know what was going on.

It reminds me of the time I was doing play-by-play for the Ottawa Raiders, the women's pro hockey team here in Ottawa. I was working for CKDJ, the Algonquin College station, and we were broadcasting live from the Barbara Ann Scott arena. There was a guy who came up while I was doing live play-by-play and started asking about season's tickets. Our guys were trying to take him aside and answer his questions, but he was insistent on talking to me about it, despite the fact that I was in the middle of a broadcast. He started to yell at me, and we had to cut to a commercial in the middle of the play, because he was going to get more swear words on the air than we wanted to broadcast. He was FURIOUS! Fortunately, there were enough big guys in the rink to escort him out, because I was very close to getting into a fight live on the air.

And they don't even serve beer at the Barbara Ann!

Walkin' for diabetes.

On Saturday, I went to St. Joseph's high school in Barrhaven for a walk to help raise money for the Canadian Diabetes Association. About eleven intrepid students braved the cold to walk 5 km to raise money, and in all about 600 bucks was raised.

I went mostly to keep Jason company, since there was really nothing for me to do there except help him set up. We were there to play some music for the kids before they went out on the walk, and we gave them all T-Shirts and hats and lanyards and such like. But we couldn't really get the place rocking, because it is a Catholic high school. That means there is a mass and church service going on beside us. So we have to keep the volume real low.

I barely talked to anyone the whole time, since I was nursing a bit of a hangover after phase one of my weekend-long Super Bowl party. I sat in a chair, swigged some hot chocolate, and tried to wake up. For the most part, I failed. But it's great to see young people doing something for a cause, and Diabetes is as good a cause as there is.

Winterlude begins...it's cold.

The cold helped out the organizers of Winterlude this weekend, as the canal was actually frozen enough to skate on, and I went out to check out the scene before the Randy Bachman show on Friday. Tons of people there to see the Winterlude kickoff, they were all over the NAC and on the bridge over the canal.

Our winners were in a beautiful roped-off section right up at the front of the stage, and I went to join them for a moment before taking off to the Hip show at Scotiabank Place. I wanted to see a bit of the opening ceremonies before I left, so I waited.

A giant BOOM! and fire shot into the sky from the sides of the stage. Smoke billowed out of the side stage area, and slowly cleared, to reveal...some guy. I was expecting KISS or AC/DC or something impressive. But it was just a guy singing a nice song about Canada in a James-Taylorish sort of way.

He was playing that Canada guitar that was made a few years ago. You know, that one they made out of bits of Wayne Gretzky's hockey stick, and the gallows where they hung Louis Riel, and Stompin' Tom's stompin' board, and Steve Nash's high school gym floor, and whatever else is Canadian and wooden. Jacques Cartier's canoe paddle, I suppose. A hot Frech girl came out and sang with him.

We were good to go, and had begun to leave, when Mikael Jean showed up. Not that I normally care what our governor general has to say, but she is HOT. And she was wearing tight leather pants. Which was awesome. And we were about three feet away, so I had to stay for at least a while. Gorgeous! And smart, classy, and a leather-pants enthusiast. My ideal woman. And her husband might be almost 100, so I don't have long to wait...

I had been debating with Jason for a while what the giant furry animals were. They were walking around Winterlude, and I thought they were beavers. Jason thought they were gophers. They looked a little like the one that was the mouse in Tom and Jerry. Jerry? I think. Well, they were introduced on stage. They are ice hogs! Which I think is great. The NCC has decided that Winterlude is so important that they have been given license to play God and create a whole new species specifically for the festivities. Just like when East Germany created a family of pork hawks to celebrate the tearing down of the wall.

We didn't want to leave in the middle of a speech or anything, since we were right up front, dead centre, so we stuck around for the speech from two ladies from the NCC. Which highlighted, for me, the inefficiency of the NCC, or at least the political correctness problem with city officials. One lady was a pleasant, well-spoken Francophone. The other was a pleasant, well-spoken anglophone. So, one is going to do the speech in French and one in English right? No! They both do bilingual speeches. So one speaks French and then struggles through Wnglish, then the other speaks English and struggles through French. It goes 20 minutes longer than it needs to. Great.

Then it was off to the Hip show, which was uneventful, for the most part.

We received an email this morning from two young guys who were near the canal after the show, and Randy Bachman passed by them, carrying his guitar back to the Westin hotel. They stopped him for an autograph, and he joked around with them, talked to them for twenty minutes, and walked back to his hotel with them. Randy Bachman is a fantastic guy, and he certainly made their day.