Friday, November 9, 2007

Bob Marley.

I have just finished reading a book about Bob Marley called No Woman No Cry, by his wife, Rita. It's available on that super-cheap rack at Chapters for like $3.99 right now, and it is worth four bucks for anyone who's a Marley fan. Rita does not write very well, she is after all, not a writer. But there is a lot of information in this book that I, as a student of reggae, had not heard yet. Also, it paints a very vivid picture of life in the tenement yards and the ghettos of Trench Town and Clarendon and the violent Jamaica that was the 60s and 70s. It does not paint a very rosy picture of Marley, but at the same time Rita genuinely loved him and respected him as an artist and a person, despite his considerable failings as a husband.

I have had, for a long time, sort of a love-hate feeling for Marley and his music. Nothing against the man himself, or his art, but the people who are Marley fans. You see, you say "reggae music" to 90 percent of the people in the world, and they say "oh, Bob Marley". (Except my mother-in-law, who says "oh, Bobby McFerrin!"). Just about everyone alive has Marley's Legend CD in their collection, and it is the only reggae album anyone seems to own. My main problem with this is that for most of the world, Bob Marley is unique in history as the only person who ever made reggae music. Until, of course, Inner Circle did the Bad Boys song from Cops, and Sean Paul burst onto the scene to make our lives more danceably miserable. The fact is, Inner Circle did some seriously great reggae that was NOT Bad Boys, Sean Paul always sucked, and there is a massive wealth of reggae music beyond Marley that no one bothers to seek out.

Also, the connection between Marley and ganja. This is really annoying for me. When we used to play Marley on CHEZ at 4:20, it enraged me. It's that cool-kid "I smoke weed" thing. Get it? 4:20? Marley smoked weed, right? Haha, we're cool. Thankfully we have stopped doing that now. And people who put ON Marley in order to smoke up? Irritating at best. Marley is not great because you smoke weed, you don't smoke weed because Marley is great. The two are really mutually exclusive, except that Marley did smoke, and he advocated the legalization of the stuff. Same with Willie Nelson, but how many people toke up to Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain? So...how come CHEZ doesn't play reggae that ISN'T Marley? Well, the main reason is that no one listens to reggae that isn't Marley. But if all of a sudden the sales of Jimmy Cliff CDs went through the roof, we might start playing Many Rivers To Cross. Go buy Jimmy Cliff CDs!

Good service vs. bad service vs. ugly service

I have been running around like crazy ever since my vacation began. I seem to do more work when I'm off work than I do when I'm AT work.

On Tuesday, I went to Toys R Us to start the Christmas shopping. There were a few toys we knew the kids wanted, and we figured we could pick them up before the mad rush. And I think getting them leather clothes is not a terrific plan. So I went into the electronics section to shop around, and looked for a specific item, some kind of Pokemon game, Giant Rescue Squad or some such thing. The lady behind the counter came by and was very helpful. She handed me the game, and I said thanks, then went off to continue browsing for other things. This seemed to make her mad. She grabbed the game back from me, then pushed our cart out of the electronics section, since people are not allowed to have their carts by the video games, and they have to pay for the video games before leaving that little booth. This is fine. I picked a couple of other games - (how in god's name did video games ever get jacked up to 70 bucks apiece? Good friggin' lord!) - and went back to the counter. I guess I had done something, somehow, to anger this sales lady, since she ignored me for a moment as she went through something in the cash register. Then as soon as another lady came up, obviously behind me, she made a point of taking her ahead of me! And this lady didn't know what was happening at all - she was asking question after question, perusing this and that...it had to be almost ten minutes I was standing there, waiting. I must have done something wrong, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it may have been.

Then yesterday, I went to GCR Tires on Carling to get winter tires on my car. I was a half hour early for my appointment, but they brought my car in right away, and gave me their "friends of GCR" discount even though I had lost my card. (If you need winter tires, go to Marc at GCR and say Eric told you about the friends of GCR discount - I have a bunch of the cards, but no real way to distibute them - it saved me about 200 bucks!) Then I sat down and waited, reading my book, until it was done. I was interrupted only once, by the mechanic who came out to say that when he pulled the car into the garage the guys were really happy about the tune that was playing on my CD - Holiday in Cambodia, by the Dead Kennedy's. Great track. Great service.

Last night I went to visit Moxie's at Bayshore. Last time I went, I took my dad, and the guys made fun of me for taking my dad out to dinner at a food court. I was there with my buddy Dan and his girlfriend Jasmine (who happened to be one of the creepy ghouls at the Chills For CHEO house). Before we ordered, Dan got into a conversation with the waiter about Amsterdam. I guess both of them had gone on the tour of the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam, and the waiter had been recently. When we asked if he had pitchers, he spent a couple of minutes rummaging through his wallet. He thought a pitcher was a rather strange request. But then we realized that he had misunderstood, and thought we said "pictures". As in - hey, do you have any pictures of your trip to the Heineken brewery that we might peruse before drinking? It was funny, but the fact that he really thought about where to find the pictures was service above and beyond! And whatever he recommended I eat, and I can't rightly remember what it was, was termendous.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Stop bothering me! Lindsay Lohan!

So yesterday evening, while I was taking a nap, I got a call from the TD bank. They wanted me to sign up for overdraft protection. The way my finances have been the past little while, I felt this was a good idea. Of course, since it was a telemarketing venture, and not a real call directly from my bank as they would have me believe, it took about half an hour just to agree. "Yes I want overdraft protection". "OK, I will sign you up right here. Now, just a couple more questions..." Good lord! So I managed to get overdraft protection, but I was angry by the time I did. Of course, it was no fault of the poor girl on the other end of the line. After all, she has her set of questions, her script to follow, and that's all she's doing. But couldn't I have just got off the phone when I said "yes"? Did she have to ask me to say and spell my first and last names? After all, she asked me for them when she called! What's the idea, that maybe she got the wrong number, and I just played along, pretending to be someone else, and suckered that poor bastard into overdraft protection? Haha...gotcha, the guy I've never met!

Anyway, I was just happy to get off the phone, it is a little bit of an excruciating process, and I am averse to the phone at the best of times. So, tonight, as I began to relax and enjoy my fourth or fifth beer, the phone rang again. This time, it was once again the TD bank! I was worried. Had I done something wrong the last time? Was I going to have to go through that whole process again? No. This time, it was a phone survey to ask me how satisfied I was with the service I had received over the phone last night! This survey was not presented to me as an option. At least the girl last night had asked me if I had two minutes to spare. This woman just launched into her survey right away! It went something like this [abridged and paraphrased to save time and space...and the wrath of those who hate the long-windedness of my posts]:

"Hello."
"Hi, this is someone-or-other calling from the TD bank".
"Okay."
"We'd like to know what you thought of the service that was provided to you by the Toronto Dominion Bank and Canada Trust Financial Group of Companies telephone department recently in reference to your chequing account and the overdraft protection that was recently offered you by the Toronto Dominion Bank and Canada Trust Financial Group of Companies telephone department."
"What?"
"We'd like to know what you thought of the service that was provided ......... Toronto Dominion Bank and Canada Trust Financial Group of Companies telephone department."
"Ummm...okay."
"On a scale of one to seven, seven being very much, six being quite a lot, five being a little, four being somewhat, three being not really, two being almost never and one being never, based on your interaction with the Toronto Dominion Bank and Canada Trust...blah blah blah...how likely are you to recommend TD bank to any friends?"
"What? No, no, good god don't repeat that. A scale of one to seven?"
"Yes. Seven being very much, six being - "
"Yeah! Yeah, OK. I get it. Please don't go through it again. I just thought it was odd...OK. I will say one."
"You will never recommend TD bank to anyone?"
"That's right."
"OK"

There was a lot more to this...every time I was asked a question about the young lady I talked to yesterday, the scale was repeated. I couldn't even interrupt to say I had heard it before, and I did not need to hear the explanation again - no, this was the script, and the lady was on a roll. Finally, she got to the end. It was over. Just one last question.

"You said you would never recommend the TD bank to anyone. Might I ask why?"
"Well, in all the time I have spent conversing with people, the need to recommend a bank has never come up. It's not something I would ever do, suggest what bank someone should go to. It won't come up for me. Ever."
"Okay, would you be willing to take a phone call from a local bank manager in the coming days so he can discuss ways with you to keep your business and your loyalty?"
"No, I would prefer not."

So...what's the idea here? A bank manager is going to call me because I said I would not recommend his bank? I would not advise against it - for christ's sake, it's a bank! How different can they be? I would recommend a restaurant, a movie, an album, a lawyer, a mechanic, a girl, a pizza place, or a theatre, but a bank? There are many things about which I am not qualified to recommend. All things financial, which is the best Rush album, whether it's better to have Chlamidyia or Gonnorhea, how to spell chlamydia or ghonnorea, and which car to buy. These things are all bothersome to me, and beyond my scope. But a bank manager will be worried enough to phone me and discuss my animosity toward his brand of institution? I should have said yes. Perhaps I could have got something sweet out of the deal. I want some money in my account! I want no more fees. Ever. I will tell you how to make me happier in my business with your institution. Don't call me ever again.

Hilarious video Britney Spears Jessica Simpson meltdown sex tape

Sorry. Still trying for some extra blog hits. Well, the girls have arrived. Watching America's Next Top Model and giggling. It's what they do. I can't imagine anything more inane, but then, I am watching Meet Me in St. Louis, and I suppose they would feel the same about my choice. I think these get-togethers are the modern equivalent of a sewing circle or a quilting club, only with less effort involved. They don't even drink beers or alter their perceptions in any way! This is absolutely bonkers to me. Every host of that show is irritating in the extreme, the girls on the show are boring and lousy, and the entire premise is ludicrous. That is merely my judgement based on the four minutes I watched before escaping to the computer room, but it is certainly the first time I have been able to see this stuff up close. It will be a cold day in hell before I use my precious PVR to record America's Next Top Model, so I am likely never to see an episode through to it's end, but that will allow me peaceful nights of sleep, uninterrupted by dreams of Tyra Banks. And I do not have the GOOD kind of Tyra Banks dreams, mine are nightmares.

Jenna Jameson lesbian kinky donkey Bush 9/11 Obama Clinton Spongebob.

I blog. That is what I am doing right now. I am doing it because I am hiding in the basement to avoid daytime TV. I watched a little. I flipped a tad with the girlfriend this afternoon when she got home from work. But I have given up. I can take no more. I have retired to the basement, and I am watching The Music Man as I type this up. Did you know Maury Povich has been on the air for ten years? Is that all? There were messages of congratulations on his tenth anniversary show from Connie Chung (go figure), Matt Lauer (big shock) and Larry King (phoning it in as usual) and of course Jerry Springer (which was actually a little funny). And not once did these people say "congratulations on ten years of pandering to the lowest common denominator", no, they said "way to go - ten years of your show, which is relevant and great progamming, and 40 years in the broadcasting industry!" Right. Relevant. And presumably, Maury Povich spent the thirty years before he got his show cleaning up Connie Chung's spitoon and combing Dan Rather's eyebrows. His BIG 10th anniversary show featured his "most memorable" guests, brought back for updates. Here's the thing Maury. Your most memorable guests are the women who come on to your program and test forty-four men for the paternity of their child, and still can't find the father. The woman with anorexia? Not so much.

Here's what I gather about Ellen DeGeneres...so...there's a dog that can't be adopted, and she hides in her bed all day, crying her eyes out, and starts wearing jogging pants to work and crying on the air and basically loses her mind. It's a dog. Her girlfriend, the smoking hot Portia DeRossi, leaves her soon afterward. Perhaps she was tired of dating a nut. Whatever. So you just lost the affections of the hottest lesbian on earth, and on her show Ellen...cracks jokes about Twix bars and...dances. Dog - complete breakdown. Hottie - singing and dancing. OK. Priorities, Ellen. And has anyone seen the opening monologue to her show? There are two jokes, sandwiched among nine minutes of um, apples are tasty, and I ate an apple, and IT was tasty, so I though, I should mention this...there is NO CONTENT in her monologue, and it is not funny. It sucks. You suck, Ellen DeGeneres.

Know who else sucks? Oprah. Not just because she created a school and then never paid any attention to it again until it became scandalous. No, she sucks because I learned today that she is the main backer of The Color Purple, the musical. I said "The Color Purple is on Broadway? As a musical?" and the answer was "yes, it is backed by Oprah." To which I replied "is Alice Walker still alive? And if so, has she stabbed Oprah in the face yet?" The answer was "I don't know, and her face looks fine so I guess not." To which I replied "Her face does NOT look fine. It looks obnoxious. I hope Alice Walker punches Oprah in the neck." I will wait a while, and if it doesn't happen, I will phone Ms. Walker myself and make the suggestion.

Either Tyra Banks wasn't on today, or it was a repeat, because I was mercifully spared the pain of watching it. That show, I assume, is still the worst in television. I amend my previous statement. Ms. Walker, if you feel like punching ANYONE in the neck, make it Tyra Banks.

That's it for now. Oh, the title of this post. Yeah, I read this article on line about how to get the most people to your blog. Apparently if you include certain buzzowords in your title, people might find it on a google search. And they will then come to your blog. And be extremely disappointed. Haha, take that Spongebob fans! Let's see if it works. I will check it out, and give an update later on. About 9:00, I think, for those of you who follow closely. At 9:00, you see, my girlfriend has her "girls" over to watch America's Next Top Model, and I will be in hiding again. With beer and my blog. "This is how I spent my winter vacation." Azlea Amber Crissy Ron Jeremy Carmen Luvana fetish pylon car battery duct tape power tools livestock.

OK...now a post about my dog!

Yeah, my dog. What a dummy. She's the size of an apple, but still manages to get stuck. You see, the new house I bought is all hardwood in the main areas, and only becomes carpeted as you move upstairs or downstairs. And Muffin is not used to the hardwood. It's been a month now, and she still can't negotiate the hardwood stairs. She can't be that dumb, because she still remembers the first time she ran for the top of the stairs, couldn't stop herself, and skidded right off the top step, coming to rest in a pile against the wall. Now, she is able to get UP the stairs, but she refuses to even make another attempt at coming down the stairs. So now, when I come home, there she is, standing at the top of the stairs, barking her face off, desperately needing to go outside and pee, but also starving, since her food is downstairs.

So she gets torn. She'll run to the door, go outside, pee a little, then run inside again, run over to her food, and eat some of that, then run back to the door for more urinating. Which is fine, but make up your mind. It's getting cold outside, and I don't want to leave the door open too long. So I'm figuring out a way to get some sort of plastic ramp going up the side of the stairs so she can at least get down for her food when she needs it. Also, I need to figure out a way to keep her teeth clean without brushing them three times a day. Are you supposed to brush dogs' teeth as often as you brush your own? Every day? Once a week? I have no idea. I don't even do it, my girlfriend does. But my god! Does her breath ever stink, and FAST. Less than a day after brushing her teeth, she smells like a corpse wrapped in garbage behind a radiator. Any ideas? Anyone know how to fix dog breath? Or is she just so old (she's eleven) that there's nothing to do but put up with it?

Ask, and ye shall receive! Here comes the fashion!

I have had a request to write a blog about fashion. I feel good whenever I am able to accommodate the demands of the seven people who read my blog, and so I am anxious to get positive feedback about my fashion sense! Here goes. This is about fashion. Also, about how I spend my winter vacation!

My vacation started on Friday at 9:00 a.m. Normally I take the November vacation with Doc and Woody, mostly because it keeps us all together for the rest of the winter, and because they get more vacation time than I do, and I have to fill in for them over Christmas every year. So I don't mind the November vacations, except that I always end up working MORE on my vacations than I do when I'm actually working! I had to go in to work on Tuesday to voice some commercials. I have had to go take tables apart at my mother-in-law's house, I have spent two days getting snow tires for the car, and I have spent two days Christmas shopping. Already. But mostly, my vacation has been about leather. On Friday, right after my vacation began, I went to the Embassy West hotel for a leather sale. This is a big factory leather blowout that happens a couple of times a year, and involves fantastic deals on leather products of all kinds.

Having done this sale many many times before, I have become a bit burned out on the leather. Or, at least, on finding ways to talk about it that I have not used before. It's kind of like Walkley Bowling, where after a couple of years of doing it, what more do I have to say about bowling? I've kinda run through all the material I have! So what more do I say about leather? Jacques, the man who runs the leather blowout, is a funny little man with a ton of ideas. Some of them are great, some of them are suspect. For example, he wasn't sure if I should mention the fur lining in the jackets, since so many people were against fur. I had to point out that he was selling leather. The same people who are against fur are likely none too fond of leather either! HE thought this stood to reason. Go ahead and mention the fur. Jacques also likes to write his own commercials. The fact of the matter is, the deals in his sale really do sell themselves, but he likes gimmicky things to bring people in as well. One of the commercials I was voicing last week really did start with the line "do you like sex? Well, good! Now that I have your attention, here's some leather!" Not joking. This really happened.

I am on vacation, so my willingness to edit this sort of thing has somewhat evaporated. I go in during my time off, I am reading the script and leaving. That's it. Although I would suggest that it has sounded fairly odd the couple of times I have come off my live cut-in, directly into the commercial I voiced for the same event. But that is how the client likes it, and the client is always right. Or so says our sales rep. I, on the other hand, take the position that the client is NOT always right. The client has hired me to drum up interest in his sale, and therefore he is asking for my advice and expertise in this situation. I enjoy making our sales rep at the leather sales cringe when I disagree with the clients, mention that the song we are playing (Orange Crush by R.E.M.) sucks, or say things on the air that are not pre-approved by Jacques. This makes me smile. If I am on vacation, and I am going in to work, I will amuse myself by aggravating others, and that's all there is to it. Here are some examples of how I keep myself amused:

I did this live event Friday, Saturday and Monday of this past weekend. Once, each day, I did a break that reminded Amanda, the technician and my de-facto babysitter for the event, of the last guy who did these leather remotes. He was far more monster-truck-at-the-dragway about it than I am, so once per shift I do a monster-truck-at-the-dragway cut-in. "Buy some gloves for the one you love! You might get laid if you wear the suede! Get in on this racket, leave with a jacket! ONLY in Ottawa, only today, don't let it slip away, there's tons of leather for Canadian weather!" And so forth. I find this obnoxious, but it makes me laugh. It actually makes Amanda curl up in the fetal position and sob softly for a while. And I smile.

I also like to pretend I'm on the air when I'm really not, this more to stress out our sales rep than anything. I think she pretended not to notice, and tried desperately to distract the client, on Saturday, when I did this one: "Italian lamb jackets, lined with mink fur, at six hundred dollars off! That means you're only paying ONE HUNDRED and FIFTY dollars for EACH animal that died to make you look fashionable!" She didn't seem to notice, but in the back of my mind I hope she did notice, and she cried all the way back to the station. And I smile.

All this fuss over the client and his perceptions is a bit specious, however. Jacques really does like what I do, and when I changed the name of his sale, and the name of his coats, and the focus of his inventory, he agreed with me and was very accepting, even pleased. The sale is now called the Kickin' Off Christmas sale, since it started right after Hallowe'en, and the Griswalds are already out installing their glow-in-the-dark apostles to guide Jesus' sleigh, and they are just now shopping for that bright red bulb for Judas' nose, as is my understanding. The Elves are gathering around the manger with their gifts of gold and candy canes and a real stovepipe hat, as tributes to Frosty the Snowman so he can become a real person and rise from the manger to entertain kids the world over...frankly, I just thought Kickin' Off Christmas would cause people to notice that I was talking, and it would make them curl up in a ball and weep. And I smile.

Oh, right, the fashion. Yeah, I don't really understand leather in and of itself. I guess it looks good for some people. It definitely creates a look, and I really do dig chicks in tight leather pants and biker gear. I also love that Kate Beckinsale in Underworld leather trenchcoat look. Or maybe I just love Kate Beckinsale. I don't know. What I wonder about are the guys who come into the leather sale decked out head to tow in leather. The caps, the jackets, chaps, vest under the jacket, boots, and everything. It seems to me that someone with a lot of leather would need less leather than someone whose leather supplies are low. But what do I know? All I know is that this sale really does bring in a ton of people. The prices really are good. And it really is Christmas shopping season. My girlfriend tells me so. And I am back there Friday, Saturday and Monday of this week as well!

Really?

My girlfriend says my blog postings are too long-winded.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Trying something new.

Can you tell I'm on vacation? All I have room for in my brain right now is football. And beer. Look for more blogs about beer soon. I am trying something new - making my football picks immediately after watching the games on the weekend, thereby having the memories of the games fresh in my mind. Let's see if I do any better.

St. Louis - New Orleans: Divisional game, never a guarantee, and ordinarily a team as good as the Saints could be in danger of overlooking a team as bad as the 0-9 Rams. But not this time, because the Saints still need wins badly, everywhere they can get them, and this game is as important to them as any other. The Saints should roll.

Philadelphia - Washington: God, who knows? The Eagles are definitely not the contender they were supposed to be, and the Skins are not the contender they wanted to be. Again, a divisional game, so no guarantees, but the Skins are 3-1 at home, and they are two wins better than Philly. Last week means nothing - the Skins won, looking barely competent against the dreadful Jets, and Philly looked awful against the powerhouse Cowboys. I'll take the Skins 'cause they're at home.

Buffalo - Miami: Miami is lousy. Staggeringly bad. They could well lose every game this year. The Bills are winners of three straight, and they are looking pretty good. BUT! The Dolphins are coming off a bye week. They are likely actually worried about finishing 0-16. Therefore, they desperately need ONE win. They have had two weeks to prepare for this game, it is divisional, and the Dolphins will play better in this one than they have in any game this year. The upset is certainly possible, but it would be fairly foolish not to pick the Bills. Bills to win, Fish to cover.

Jacksonville - Tennessee: Two teams battling it out for second place in the AFC South behind the Colts. Titans are for real, they are 6-2, and the Jaguars are 5-3 and very close. But the Jags just got blown out by the Saints, and they have given up as many points this year as they have scored. The Jags are great on the road, the Titans are great at home, look for Tennessee to win their 4th in a row.

Cleveland - Pittsburgh: This could be the best game of the year. Cleveland is on a roll, and they are a very good team. But Pittsburgh looks almost as good as the Colts and Patriots. And they are at home. Cleveland will be derailed momentarily as the Steelers win.

Atlanta - Carolina: The Falcons won last week, but it was at home against the Niners. They have not won on the road all year. The Panthers have not won at home all year. Something's gotta give here. When in doubt, go with the better team. Carolina will win, but my guess is it will not be very convincing when they do.

Denver - Kansas City: Denver is abysmal. Their season was just effectively ended at the hands of the Detroit? Lions? in a big way. Kansas City is playing well, and last week they lost to a very good team. KC is at home, they will run it up on the Broncos.

Minnesota - Green Bay: Holy crap! The best player in football might be...a rookie running back! Adrian Peterson is on FIRE this year. TWO games with more than 200 yards, and last week he set the all-time record for rushing yards in a game. In doing so, they exposed the Chargers for the pretenders they are. However, they are going on the road - and Peterson does not run for 200 yards on the grass at Lambeau against the Packers' defence. He will not be stopped, but he will be contained, and Favre will pick apart the Vikings' secondary. Packers in a tight one.

Cincinnatti - Baltimore: Cincinnatti lost a game that, on paper, they should have won against the Bills last week. Baltimore was smoked in a game that, on paper, they should have shown up for. I think the spirit of the Bengals is totally broken, and I think the Ravens have more pride left. Baltimore will come up big for the win.

Detroit - Arizona: The Lions are, apparently, for real. Well, the Broncos are also really really lousy. I have picked against Detroit just about every week this season, and they keep proving me wrong. I am picking the Lions to beat the Cards in Arizona, and watch them lose this one just to spite me.

Chicago - Oakland: The Bears are not good. They are no longer great. They are barely even decent. But the Raiders are much worse. This will be close, as it is in Oakland, and the Raiders are slightly better at home than on the road, but the Bears are the better team, and the Raiders will lose their 5th in a row.

Dallas - New York Giants: This is a game that has been terribly overshadowed, because the Patriots-Colts was hyped so much. But this is the biggest NFC matchup of the year so far. At least, until Green Bay travels to Dallas in Week 13. The Cowboys ARE as good as their record, their lone loss coming to the powerhouse Patriots. But so are the Giants, winners of six straight and possibly the hottest team in the NFC. This game is for first place in the NFC East, and the Giants will move into a tie with Dallas with a win. I think they have it in them. Take the Giants.

Indianapolis - San Diego: Last week I said the Colts would lose this game. That was assuming they had beaten the Patriots (they didn't) and that San Diego was back (they aren't). After watching the Chargers melt down against the Vikings last week, I think they have no chance in this one. Take the Colts.

San Francisco - Seattle: Maybe the worst Monday night game of the year. Seattle will make the playoffs this year, but they could do it with a 7-9 record playing in the NFC West! This is the worst division in football, and the worst team in that division is the Niners. Seattle, at home, will crush them. No guarantees, since it is divisional and it is Monday night, but come on. San Fran is DONE.

No absolute guarantee games this week - New England has a bye. I will see if my new method works. If so, take that, the rest of my pool!

What?

Wow. I got hammered with my football picks this week. At 7-7, I don't feel great about winning my football pool any more. I did fairly well against the spread on the CHEZ pool, but come on! Who could have predicted that San Diego would have fallen apart the way they did, giving up a record day to a rookie running back, when their defence is actually good again? Come on!

Ones I got right: Green Bay IS better than the Chiefs. If the Pack is within 7 points at the end of the game, Brett Favre will find a way to win. I was right, and it was close, until Charles Woodson put it away with the interception return TD. New Orleans IS as hot as I thought they were. I guess they are for real even more so than the Chargers. Tampa Bay did beat the Cards at home. Washington beat the Jets - but much closer than I thought. Houston DID hammer the Raiders, who right now are playing as bad as any team in the league. Dallas beat Philly far more handily than I thought, but some bad turnovers cost the Eagles in a big way. And the Steelers - might they be almost as good as the Colts and Pats? Roethlisberger with 5 TDs in the first half? Wow. And James Harrison had maybe the best single game any player has had in any game this year. Except maybe Adrian Peterson.

The ones I got wrong: Ah, yes. Adrian Peterson. How can a fairly good San Diego defence give up two HUNDRED and ninety-six yards to a ROOKIE? Well, because he is that good. Peterson might be the best running back in football since Barry Sanders. TWO 200-yard games in his rookie season, and the biggest single rushing game in NFL history. And this in a game that could have been over at half time with that unbelievable field goal return TD, the longest single PLAY in NFL history! What a game. San Diego is done this year. Atlanta beat the Niners, but who cares? The Bengals are...done. Losing to the Bills ruins their entire season. It's over. The Bills are still not a good team, but they are gunning for a wild card. Umm...Detroit is for real. I was wrong. And then some. They destroyed the hapless Broncos, who are finished as well. Tennessee is also..for real. Carolina is also finished for the year. It looks like I was wrong about Cleveland. They DO know they are good. It WAS a close game, but it went the other way, and Cleveland could well make the playoffs this year.

And the big game. Another one I got wrong. Although, the Patriots do not look so invincible any more, do they? The Colts had them figured out. Fully. They were moving just enough on offence, and they were playing great defence against Brady and Moss. Until the fourth quarter, when it looked like the Colts defence just ran out of gas. Although the Patriots no longer look unbeatable, they also will not play any teams of the caliber of Indianapolis from here on out. The game they could lose? The final game of the regular season, when they are 15-0 and there is nothing on the line for them, home field being sewn up against the 15-1 Colts. They play the Giants, who are for real as well. That may well be the only game they lose this year. Unless...Pittsburgh? Maybe. I sure hope so. I sure don't like the Patriots.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

There's no such thing as a free lunch...or is there?

I got a free lunch this week! Most Tuesdays, I take a bus home from work, and it's about a three hour ride. Which means by the time I get to my area, I am absolutely starving. Instead of walking home, cooking something, and then eating, I stop at Pizza Hut on Hazeldean for the lunch buffet. It has become something of a Tuesday tradition with me, and it's nice to relax, have a beer, and read a book while enjoying all-you-can-eat. This past Tuesday, the manager thanked me for my regular patronage by offering me my lunch on the house. I was thrilled, and I thanked him profusely, then I hit upon a dilemma - I had only my debit card with me, since that was how I was planning to pay. It's easy with debit - you pay the tab, and add the tip in, and away you go. But although lunch was free, there was still a waitress serving me, and she still deserved a tip. So...what do I do? I could either ask to tip her by using the debit, or insist that I pay for lunch. That paying-for-lunch discussion was already over, and I didn't want to bring it up again, but I didn't want to leave the waitress empty-handed. But I had nothing.

So I promised to make up for it next week, when I am back from vacation, by tipping twice. Which then made me feel like some kind of creepy stalker. "I'll get you, I won't forget you...yeah..." Weird. I'm not sure if she looked at me like that weird creepy guy who hits on the waitress everywhere he goes...maybe she didn't. Or maybe I will find out next Tuesday when she stops talking to me and puts my beer down when I'm at the buffet and not looking, and then hides in the back room the whole time I am in the restaurant gorging myself on pizza and beer and reading my Parade magazine. Only time will tell.

I throw like a girl! And I'm cool with it.

Of course, I knew the deck had to be stacked against me. Doc is not the type of guy who would challenge me to something without making sure, as much as was possible, that I would fail in the challenge. When Friday's Can Eric The Intern Throw Farther Than A Girl competition got under way, I knew that Doc had something up his sleeve. So I tried to play some head games ahead of time. I figured for sure this was one competition I could actually win, were there a fair and even playing field. I may lose in a 100-yard dash against a sumo wrestler, I might lose an eating contest to a ten-year-old, I DID, pretty much fair and square, lose a football prognostication challenge against a seven-year-old, but if there's one thing I have always been able to do, it is throw. I can throw. I was a pitcher in baseball, a power thrower in waterpolo, and although I never played quarterback, I have always been able to throw a football farther than the QBs I have played with. And it would take a pretty remarkable woman to have a better arm than I do. But I had to ensure that even playing field as best I could. So I cheated some. I will explain in a moment.

The whole thing began when we were discussing Brett Favre's 82-yard throw on the first play of overtime to beat Denver last Monday night. Doc was under the impression that Favre threw 82 yards in the air, and we had to explain that this was not the case. I suggested Favre could likely throw more than 60 in the air, and Randall asked me how far I could throw. I have no idea how far, actually, but I do know I can throw farther than Randall. And I said as much. This ended up becoming "can Eric throw farther than a girl?" and the name of Kristy Hughes came up, the quarterback of the Canadian champion women's flag football team. So I called her up. When I spoke to Kristy, I was in a big rush, and I realized afterward that I had not really given her any information at all. I got the details right - our address, after 8:00 Friday, but I didn't really explain what we wanted her for, or get any contact information, or give her our phone number or anything. So I am not sure she was prepared for what we were going to do.

When she arrived on Friday, one of our co-workers, Erica, was already there with Tiffany, dressed all in football gear and seemingly ready to go. This seemed rather odd to me, since we had not mentioned this to her at all! But it turns out she plays with Kristy on this Nepean Devils national champion team, and she was going to be the receiver here. This was fine, and Kristy showed up right on cue, and was ready to go. She warmed up by throwing some pass patterns to Erica, and I warmed up by smoking some cigarettes - all part of my plan. I knew Doc would have something up his sleeve to ensure I lost, and I wanted him to think that whatever that was would be unnecessary. I pretended to warm up by throwing to Erica also, but I threw much less distance than I am able. So by the time this thing began, Doc had put aside his plan of coating MY football with cooking oil. (And he WAS going to do so.)

Then the competition. Kristy was throwing her football, the women's league official football which is about half the size of a CFL football. I was of course throwing the CFL regulation-size football, all part of Doc's make-Eric-lose plan. But I figured that would just make it more of a challenge for me, and I could still win. Kristy launched her throw down the field, and boy, can she ever throw! (And I'm not saying "for a girl" here, partly because that would be sexist, and partly because she would throw well "for a man" as well.) But I still felt I had a shot. Tiffany had marked out an area on the field she felt was "50 yards". I have no idea how far it actually was, but that was our benchmark. Kristy's throw went about 45, hit the cold icy ground, and slid and rolled another ten yards. A very good throw. Doc marked it officially after the roll, at 55 yards. Then I stepped up and threw. Erica, who was out there playing receiver, but was unable to get to Kristy's throw, caught mine on the fly at the 49 yard mark.

Doc said "55 for Kristy, 49 for Eric, Eric loses!" Of course, I knew this was going to be the case, and I protested. After all, had I had the benefit of a bounce and roll, I would have been at least close, and quite likely past her mark. So I asked for a second shot. This time, I hefted it about the same distance. This time, Erica managed to get a few fingers on it to knock it down, but it did get a bit of a bounce and roll. It looked close. Doc decided that Kristy's had gone 55 yards, and my second attempt had gone...54 yards. Who knows if that was true or not? Who cared? There was no way I was going to be allowed to win this competition in any case, so I conceded defeat. In the end, competing against Kristy, and losing to our national champion quarterback, is no shame at all. Perhaps next time the competition will be even more fair and balanced, and we can find out for sure who would have won.

Well, I'm done with the sour grapes for now.