Friday, June 6, 2008

Hockey Night In Canada music. Who cares!

The CBC must have hired some kind of devious promotional company to run their new campaign. This has to be the reason behind the announcement that they may not be bringing back the HNIC theme music next season. Why else would they say anything at all? Why even call attention to it? If they just started next season with different music, no one would notice for six weeks. And even then, it would cause only a minor ripple, and the whole thing would go away quickly. But splashing it all over the front page - CBC is cutting their theme song! What good does that do? Well, it gets people thinking about watching CBC now, after the hockey season is over. And by extension, maybe even watching the CBC now that the only thing they broadcast that's worth watching is done. It's the only explanation I can come up with for the rash of news and commentary (Randall Moore included, of course) about the subject today.

Now, let me just say that I do like the Hockey Night In Canada theme. I remember my friend Mel told me, many years ago, that when a song got stuck in her head, one she didn't want there, (like MmmBop by Hanson), she would just hum a few bars of the HNIC theme and the offending song would disappear. And ever since I have used the very same method whenever Hotel California or Tom Sawyer comes on the radio. And it certainly works. But other than as a method of purging offensive and terrible yet catchy tunes, what good is the theme anyway? Sure, it's very familiar. Certainly, it creates a feeling of Canadiana in all of us when we hear it. But petitions? Letter-writing campaigns? Is anyone really going to lose sleep over this? Is anyone going to stop watching HNIC if they change the theme? Although some obviously think of it as such, this isn't our national anthem here people. The government is trying to censor movies. They are ignoring global warming. Stephen Harper is on tape bribing an independant MP. And THIS is what gets our blood up? THIS is what outrages us? Take it to the government, the people have spoken! Let them know we won't stand for this!

If you are one of the people who won't stand for this, who wants to make your voice heard, there is nothing quite like a petition to do so...

Go there, and godspeed!

Prog? What IS prog?

A couple of days ago, when we learned that Yes was cancelling their tour due to Jon Anderson's respiratory illness, we got into an off-air discussion of progressive rock. I wanted to know what it really meant. I've never been too clear on the definition. "Progressive" seems to me to indicate that it is something that moves the genre of rock forward in some way. Which would indicate that all bands that create a brand new sound, but would still be considered rock and roll, are "prog". But the bands that are considered "prog" don't always fit into that mold. Yes, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, they all make sense. But Rush? Queen? Uriah Heep? What, exactly, did they do to move rock music forward? Nothing against those bands...well, nothing against Queen, anyway, but aren't they more "art" bands than they are "prog"? Art seems a more apt description of Alan Parsons, Pink Floyd, ELO and ELP as well.

Woody and Randall tried to explain it to me as big, theatrical music. Like, the kind of stuff that involves a mellotron and a choir, like ELP and Genesis. I don't hear that on The Court of the Crimson King. Doc explained it as music that was in odd time signatures and had a classical influence, like Procul Harum and Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa. But there doesn't seem to be one unifying definition for it in any way. It strikes me that "prog" was, in it's day, the same thing that "alternative" was in the early nineties. If something had guitars and drums and yet couldn't be considered rock music, it was classified "alternative". I think "prog" might have been the same idea fifteen years earlier. The difference being that "alternative" music tended to be more stripped-down, whereas in the days of progressive rock it would have been called "garage". And in the alternative era, what used to be called prog, with the big flourishes and choirs and 7/8 time signatures, became "new age". Or something. I'm just speculating here. And I still don't really get it.

Sports! Sports, sports, sports, sports...

Now that the Stanley Cup finals are over, the really exciting hockey stuff can begin. You know, the stuff Randall loves, like the draft, and the coaching carousel, and the trade rumours and the free-agent signings and so forth. FAR more exciting than actual hockey, isn't it? Discussions are sure to be had over Jim Balsillie and his plans to bring hockey back to Canada, one way or the other. And how Gary Bettman won't let it happen, no matter what. Frankly, the game of hockey looks awfully strong right about now. The two glamour teams meeting in the final - the best team in hockey beating the most exciting team in hockey in six of the best games in the cup final for some time. I won't lie - I was cheering for Pittsburgh. I like Marian Hossa and Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal and Ryan Malone et al. I thought Marc-Andre Fleury played a phenomenal series and I might even suggest that Hossa's attempt to tuck the puck past Chris Osgoode in the last second of that game six was an even more exciting end to a Stanley Cup than Brett Hull's overtime goal a few years back.

And the American ratings were up, which is a good thing for hockey. More Americans watched, and they saw an excellent display of skill on the ice, and they were certainly entertained. Pardon The Interruption, my favourite TV sports talk show, had NHL coverage every night. They normally never touch hockey at all, but this time they were discussing Crosby and Zetterberg and Fleury every single day. All in all, this spells good health for the game of hockey. And now that it's over, I can't get into the offseason stuff the way Randall does. I'll pay some attention to the moves and the draft and the major stuff, but minutiae is not always my thing. But I hate this time of season. No hockey, no football, meaningless baseball games and horse racing. Tractor pulls and darts and bowling and poker on the sports channels. But this year, for the first time, I found at least one more week's worth of sports entertainment - basketball.

I have never watched much basketball. The last series where I watched every game was that great Raptors-Sixers semifinal, where Vince Carter and Allen Iverson had that epic showdown in Game 7, with Carter falling just short at the buzzer. That was in 2001. It has been seven years since I have been invested in any way in a basketball series, but now is the time. What the Penguins-Red Wings matchup did for the NHL this year, the Celtics-Lakers matchup is doing for the NBA. This is not Magic vs. Bird, it isn't Bill Russell and Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy and Kevin McHale and all that history, it is brand new history. This is the basketball equivalent of a Leafs-Habs final (something the NHL has ensured can never happen again). Or a Red Sox-Yankees final (something that is also impossible). There is no rivalry in the NFL that can come to a head in the Super Bowl, because all the major ones are within their own divisions. Only in basketball can the two most historic teams, the two biggest rivals in history, meet in the championship. And for that reason alone, it is worth watching.

I never thought I would get excited at the midway point of a basketball game either. The only time anyone, ever, gets excited at a basketball game is at the very end, when the last team with the ball gets it to their best player and he fires up a buzzer beater. But when Paul Pierce returned to the court after what looked like a series-ending knee injury, it was really an inspirational moment. It wasn't quite Kirk Gibson hitting that home run off Dennis Eckersley, or Bobby Baun, or anything like that, but it was a moment that happens all too rarely in the world of sports these days. I really don't know what I'm going to do once this series and, by extension, the basketball season ends. I guess I'll have to hope for more basebrawls like that hilarious Rays-Red Sox one last night. I can watch Manny Ramirez all season. That guy's entertaining.

A quick one...

I have received a couple of emails wondering why I haven't yet, on my blog, broached the subject of Wednesday's debacle at Tim Hortons on Walkley. A brief recap: Doc, having asked me to fill his car with gas the previous day, had given me his credit card. I, being forgetful, had forgotten to return that credit card. When he questioned my sincerity concerning the kids at Tim Hortons and Camp Day (which was why I was at that Tim Hortons), I wasn't too worried. In fact, I'm pretty used to this. Questioning my motives and sincerity and integrity seems to be matter-of-course for him and Woody. But when his questioning of my sincerity caused others to become enraged with me, it was a bit too much. One nutjob caller went off on me. Get him out of there! This is about the children! Eric's an ass! And so forth. The CHILDREN! IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE CHILDREN! That really irked me. It's one thing to impugn my motives yourself, but to incite others, like this particular easily-swayed gentleman, against me? That's too much.

So, realizing that I had Doc's credit card, and wanting to show that I was indeed sincere about sending as many CHILDREN to camp as possible, I decided I would use that card to purchase coffee for everyone who came in. Until, of course, I had to leave and return the card. However, Doc went and cancelled the card on me, expecting me to be stuck with the bill. And then suggested that I took off, doing a massive dine-and-dash on Tim Hortons and Camp Day. This was again Doc misconstruing what he heard. In fact, I was running to a gas station bank machine to get money. Tim Hortons does not have interac, and I don't have a credit card. Then, I got sidetracked by a discussion about high gas prices, and just plain forgot about it. But Tim Hortons has been taken care of, many people got free coffee, and some CHILDREN were sent to camp. Everybody wins. Especially the CHILDREN!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stupid golf.

Doc and I played Falcon Ridge yesterday in the rain. I, being somewhat of an idiot, wore my sandals. Which soaked my feet and made me wet and uncomfortable all day. I would like to blame my poor play on this, but in fact it was my lack of skill that caused me to have a horrible game. Before the game began, I had to buy new balls at the pro shop. I chose the cheapest ones they had, because I'm just going to lose them anyway. When I opened them, there was a big slash across the front that said "NOW! With improved durability!" and we found that comical. Improved durability? On a golf ball? Why does one need toughness in a golf ball? Who ever hits the same golf ball more than five times before you lose it? Can I play the entire year with the same ball? I'd have to be pretty good to do that - and if I was that good I would probably be a guy who buys more expensive balls. The entire round, every time I lost one (which was often), Doc told me it was great because the fiftieth guy who found that ball would still be able to use it. Stupid golf.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I AM crying over spilt milk.

I brought milk home from the grocery store on Thursday, and one of the bags had a leak. It leaked onto the back seat, and although I thought I had done a good job soaking it up and cleaning it, apparently I had not. My back seat now reeks like spoiled milk, having baked in the hot sun all weekend. And I have no idea how to clean it up. I am spraying Febreeze on it every time I get in the car, and every time I have to go somewhere, which masks the smell for about an hour. Anyone know what to do with spilt milk? How to clean car seats? Help me out here! I'm dying in that thing on my way to work!

No more steak, please! ?

The kids are sometimes mystifying to me. They sit on the couch playing this game on their Nintendo DS systems, one on either side of me. The game systems are somehow linked. And after a while, during a commercial in the hockey game, I look to see what it is they are doing. And they are writing notes to each other. That's it. That is what this game is. So they are writing messages and laughing like it's the most entertaining video game in the world. I ask why they don't just pass notes on paper, or maybe actually talk to each other. They tell me I just don't understand. I guess I don't.

Something else I don't understand. I got a whole pile of steaks for a great price on Saturday when I was doing a live commercial at a grocery store. I brought them home, excited at the idea of eating steak, and they said "oh, steak again?" as though it had been less than six months since the last time I subjected them to steak. I decided if they didn't want steak, they certainly didn't have to eat it. And they had hot dogs instead. And they were much happier. So was I, since there is that much more steak, and I have now been eating steak for every meal since Saturday's supper. I guess it takes a while for taste buds to mature to the point where steak is recognized as delicious. Maybe it's at about the same time beer becomes tasty. I'll have to keep an eye on that.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I was doing a live commercial yesterday at Laura's Independant Grocer at the Hazeldean Mall in Kanata. It's just a few blocks from my house, which is nice. It means I can walk there and back. Although I was a little tardy getting ready, and it was pouring rain, so I ended up driving, like the bad resident of Earth that I am. They had a whole family-fun day planned, a big community party, and there were dozens of activities which I assume were to take place outdoors that had to be moved inside. Which, in a way, was kind of awesome. There was a BMX-rollerblade stunt team there, the Krazy Krew (thank goodness they aren't Karl's Krazy Krew or something...those initials would be offputting for family fun days the world over). And they had to move their show inside, to the grocery store itself. Which I found far more entertaining than that jumping up off the ramp thing they normally do. Because it meant they had to do all their flat-land tricks while negotiating their way through completely oblivious shoppers and children.

You would think that when coming to a grocery store, and seeing a crowd encircling an empty space in this way, that you would assume there was something going on, and maybe endeavour not to walk straight across that open arena. You would think. But grocery shoppers are different. They aren't going to Chapters or La Senza to just browse around the racks and see what's out there. They are on a mission to find food to eat. And nothing is going to slow them down, nothing will distract them from the list in their hand, the rumble in their bellies or the purpose in their heart. And they will walk in, grab a cart, and walk straight through a wide open floor space where a BMX bike rider is attempting to jump over three guys lying on the ground. What do they care that there is a show of some kind happening? THEY need chocolate-covered almonds from the bulk section. Stat. And so we got to see the bikers and rollerbladers wipe out repeatedly as some unimpressed mother dragged her three-year-old and her shopping cart directly through the middle of the place, and stopped to try to find the price tag on the three overturned BMX bicycles, just as the guy on rollerblades had got up enough speed to jump over those three overturned bicycles. And he had to dive to the floor, and slid into the crowd. Hilarious!

All in all, a good day. One guy came into the store and asked a couple of ladies which one was Eric The Intern, and where he could find me. After one of the friendly ladies running the event waved at me, and steered the man in my direction, I offered my hand. He shook it, and then said this: "I hope Randall kills you soon". Then he turned on his heel and left, as Josh (our tech guy) and I cracked up. We hoped that this man had not re-arranged his whole day to come and say that. It would have been a shame if he had been forced to forego his planned trip to the liquor store just so he could come and wish me dead in person. Well, it was about noon, and it was still early. Lots of time for liquor and Penningtons and Bentley. Again, hilarious.

Also funny was this. As Josh and I ate hot dogs, we discussed hot dogs. I had just loaded up on meat in my shopping cart, and was looking forward to getting home for the first steak I was going to barbecue all year. ($4.99 a pound - striploin!) I had my cart ready to go - four packages of pork chops, four packages of steak, ground beef, burgers and two packs of hot dogs. Oh, and some broccoli or something. And in the hot dog section, something occurred to me. You know how they have those chicken wieners, and they're like 79 cents a dozen or something? They're WAY cheaper than the regular wieners. And yet, they're just about the only hot dogs that tell you what's actually in them. Chicken. You know what is in those, but the ones that are basically "miscellaneous meat", the by-product of whatever beef slaughtering has gone on, you don't really know. So how come the one hot dog where you know for a fact what's inside is so much cheaper than the ones where you really have no idea? Food for for Sunday afternoon.