Friday, October 17, 2008

Some great comedy.

This absolutely blew me away. During the commercials in last night's Red Sox game, I flipped over to MSNBC to watch John McCain and Barack Obama give their live speeches at the Alfred E. Smith dinner. This is apparently quite an American tradition. Every campaign year, both presidential candidates appear at this dinner, which raises money for charity in conjunction with the Catholic church. I wasn't aware of this event - last election, the two candidates were not invited to participate. The Catholic church was angry with John Kerry for some reason, and they refused to invite him. And they felt if they were going to exclude Kerry, they should exclude Bush as well. But the tradition is back on this year, and the two candidates took the stage for a couple of speeches. The tradition also dictates that those speeches, at this event, are funny. So basically, you're seeing Barack Obama and John McCain doing...standup. And this stunned me. Here is Obama's, which is really well done and very funny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5SWQJWm6Tg

I expect Obama to come off as affable and friendly, and of course he has the capacity to be humorous. And he was. No big shock. But he followed McCain. And that was a shock. A huge shock, for me. In the third presidential debate, he screwed up his face, cackled softly to himself, squinted, clenched his teeth, twitched, and generally looked uncomfortable. In fact, he reminded me very much of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. And there was nothing funny about it. It was creepy and weird and decidedly off-putting. So when John McCain is called upon to do some stand-up, I'm figuring it will be about the most awkward, painful thing to watch since Joe Namath hit on Suzy Kolber on Monday Night Football. Here's that video, for reference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc65NC44dSk

But then...it wasn't! Not only did John McCain look comfortable speaking for the first time in the entire campaign, at a nothing event, he was actually funny! Like, really funny! Where has this man been the last seven years of this presidential campaign? If he had been this guy at his rallies, instead of the guy who has spent the last six weeks stirring up racial hatred and venomous Obama-is-a-terrorist sentiment, he might actually still be in a close race! Here's McCain, who is actually just as comfortable, and actually funnier, than Obama:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j82lhqiAF-M

Well, that's likely the last time this presidential race will be funny. From now on, the humour will have to be injected from outside sources, by the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, and Katie Couric.

I am a believer!

I went to bed last night depressed. I had stayed up watching Obama and McCain at the Alfred E. Smith dinner during commercials in the baseball game. And when the score was 7-0 against my Red Sox, I gave up on the game and went to bed. After all, the teams I hate have been winning, the teams I love have been losing, at least this week. So why would this be any different? After all, I was cheering for the Dodgers, because who doesn't love Manny Ramirez? And I was cheering for anybody-but-Stephen-Harper. And they both lost. I was hoping that the streak would end there, but at 7-0, this game was over.

But then it wasn't. I woke up this morning to hear Randall on the news talking about the Red Sox win. Win? What? I looked in the papers, but it wasn't in there. These games end so late that the result can't even get into the paper in time. So I couldn't get any details, except to know that they must have staged a ridiculous comeback in the final three innings, after I was in bed. I got home and watched all the highlights this morning, and I am now desperately ashamed of my defeatist attitude. I must have forgotten that these are the Red Sox. The team that won a World Series after coming back from 3-0 against the Yankees in the greatest playoff series I have ever seen, in any sport. The team that won last year's series after being down 3-1 to the Angels. 7-0 in the seventh inning of the fifth game of a series where they are down 3-1? No big deal. I should have stayed up.

By the way - it all made me think of last year, when in the fourth game of the Angels series, the Sox were down a ton, and late in the game Manny hit one miles out of the stadium and celebrated like he had just won Game 7? And that sparked the Sox to their three straight wins and their second World Series? Yeah. I'm gonna miss that guy in the finals.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

OK, this is cool.

I thought appearing in a locally-produced short film would be good for some fun and a laugh or two. And the opportunity to brag about what a big movie star I was, for at least two weeks. I now realize that it was so much more than that! Matt West's short film, The Funeral...Again, starred Dave Templin, me, Trish Anthoine, Colin Boettcher, Mary-Jane Chisolm, Michael Dobbin, Tonya Dodds, Sarah Faloon, Peter Gindl, Barbara Gray, Warren Meredith, Richard Nash, Bruce Nicol, Matthew Peat, Zak Pike, Alain St. Amour, Anthony Stechyson, and Matthew Whitehead. Do I still have a cast list? No. Do I just remember everyone's name? No. I got this list off www.imdb.com. The Funeral...Again is listed on imdb, the Internet Movie Database. Which I thought was pretty cool. I discovered this when I went to this site: http://oracleofbacon.org/, and typed in my own name. And I AM indeed six degrees away from Kevin Bacon! Actually, thanks to producer Michael Dobbin, and his involvement in the film Stolen Heart, I am actually four degrees away from my acting hero, Steven Seagal!

Here's how it works. I was in The Funeral...Again, where Michael Dobbin played a newspaper editor. Mr. Dobbin played a state trooper in the 1998 movie Stolen Heart, which starred a woman named Lisa Ryder, who appeared in the totally under-rated serial-killer-in-space movie, Jason X. Also starring in that overlooked horror classic was a guy named Thomas Seniuk, who appeared as a secret service agent in the movie Exit Wounds, starring...Steven Seagal! I am FOUR DEGREES away from Steven Seagal! I'm SO printing up this list and putting it on my wall. I'm also four degrees away from Eliza Dushku, Famke Janssen, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank, and Charlize Theron. I tried to stump this thing with some old-school actors. I'm four degrees away from Peter Lorre, James Cagney, James Dean, even the enigmatic Terrence Malick. It took five steps to get from me to Ed Wood. Which leads me to believe that there aren't nearly enough people in the movie business.

Why, you might ask, is a tiny little short film from Ottawa listed on the Internet Movie Database? Well, because that tinly little short film is now an award-winning tiny little short film. Winner of the "Best Canadian Short" at the Prince Edward Island International Film Festival in Charlottetown! Way to go Matt - here's the press release: http://www.qrpictures.com/news/releases/Funeral_PEI.pdf I'm pleased Matt won the award, and I'm pleased he has been able to show it at film festivals around the world. But I am of course MOST pleased that I am now four degrees from Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Steven Seagal!

Conservatives win outright...Liberals fail to cover the spread.

It's over! All that drama, all that hype...all that nothing. And here we are, several weeks later, with the same thing we had several weeks ago. Well, we do have 300 million fewer dollars of taxpayer money to spend. And the Conservatives have 19 more seats. Which, if my math is correct, means that each seat cost us about 16 million dollars. And since it is a minority government again, Stephen Harper doesn't have to deal with his own pesky fixed-election date law. So that means that the moment he thinks the Conservatives have a shot at the majority, we will have another election. However, this time all Harper needs to get his majority is twelve more seats. And according to my math, that election should cost us only $189 million dollars. Whew! At least it will be cheaper. When it happens. Six weeks from now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Some more footballin'!

Anyone who has taken my advice this year has probably had a fairly lousy year in their pool. I've been helping my buddy John make his picks in his office pool. Fortunately, it's one of those pools that require you to weigh your picks. Like, 16 points through 1 point. And on the plus side, the top few picks I send him each week are usually accurate, so we're hanging in there, points-wise. But I am second-last in my office pool (thanks in no small part to forgetting my picks one week). And then - the couple of pools where I am playing against the spread - I am doing exceedingly well. So I certainly hope no one is taking my advice. I am merely writing down these picks here as a point of reference for me, and so I can go back and check them out after the season ends. Now, if only the Skins would be as good as they seem. And the Giants and Cowboys would be as good as they are. And the Rams would be as bad as they are. And the...ah, screw it. The NFL is messed up this year.

Oh and Matt - I do these picks early in the week, because I have just watched many of these teams play either yesterday or the day before. So they are fresh in my brain, and I go by gut feeling. Clearly, it isn't working for me this year, but the past two years this method has earned me money. And of course, I reserve the right to change these picks before the games begin, if for example Donovan McNabb gets hit by a bus. (And I sure hope he doesn't get hit by a bus.)

Pittsburgh - Cincinnatti: Pittsburgh is good. More than that, they're great. And the Bengals haven't seemed to be able to get it together. But Cincinnatti can still be an explosive team if they get it together, they could well get it together this week, and upsets like this have been known to happen. Last week. And the week before. And the week before that. So who knows? I'll take the Bengals to cover the 9.5 (as it stands today) spread, but the Steelers to win. They are coming off a bye...not that it's meant anything before, this year.

Steelers, 38-10. OK. This was not the game the Bengals were going to win. The did not get it together, and boy, are they ever missing Carson Palmer. But not as much as they are missing a run defense. And a pass defense. And a running game. And some character. And a hope in hell of winning a game this year. OK, the Bengals will win a game this year. It just won't come against a team as good as Pittsburgh.

New York Giants - San Francisco: OK. The Giants can't be as bad as they looked last week against Cleveland. Can they? What? The Niners are not a team that can be considered elite, or even good, and they certainly don't have the talent of the Browns. Maybe. More than anything, I just can't see the Giants losing two weeks in a row. And I see them wanting to make a statement here. Saying we ARE still the best team in football. And who knows, maybe they still are! And they are at home...they will cover the 10.5 spread. As it stands today.

Giants, 29-17. Well, the Giants did win. And they did cover the spread. So I was right. But I sure didn't feel right after watching this game. I said that New York would come out and make a statement here, cementing their status as the best team in football. And they didn't. In fact, they looked pretty bad. The only team that looked worse was the Niners. Who are dreadful.

Houston - Detroit: The Lions ARE 0-5 terrible. They are one of the worst football teams in recent memory. However, that doesn't mean they can't pull one out of their butts and win one, here and there. They almost beat the Vikings, after all. They will win at least one game this year, but it won't come in Houston, with the Texans riding high after that amazing last-second win over Miami this week. Lions to cover the 9 points, Texans to win.

Texans, 28-21. Again, I'm right. Barely. Detroit actually showed some heart in this one, coming back to bring the score within a TD toward the end. Houston started off huge, still riding off the high of last week. But they faded quickly down the stretch, and the Lions almost made a real game of it. Lions cover, but they are still incredibly lousy. Texans win, but they are terribly that good yet.

Dallas - St. Louis: OK. Tony Romo is out. That is a given, and that means there could well be a major letdown for Dallas. But against the Rams? The Rams, who just beat the Skins in a dramatic last-second victory? Oh, God I don't want to call this one. So I'll push. Dallas to win, Rams to cover the 7 points.

Rams, 34-14. Well, the Rams covered the spread. And then some. And then some more. To the best of my recollection, Tony Romo doesn't play linebacker. What was with Stephen Jackson running roughshod over this defense? And Brad Johnson acquitted himself decently at QB, except for the three picks. But Dallas got outplayed thoroughly here. I still can't believe the Rams are this good, but I do believe that the Cowboys are in complete disarray with their various injuries and headaches and distractions. The Rams will come down next week, but the Cowboys will stay down for a while. I must admit, I went against my own advice this week and at the last second, in my pools, picked the Rams to win. I just thought there had to be a big upset this week, and this was the one that was most likely.

Tennessee - Kansas City: The Titans remain the only unbeaten team. Despite their win over the Broncos, the Chiefs remain a terrible team. By the laws that govern football this year, that means that Kansas City should beat the Titans by about forty points. But they won't. I think. Titans to win, and cover the 7 point spread.

Titans, 34-10. OK, Titans won and covered the spread. Perhaps the NFL is returning to the sort of balance and regular play that I need to do well in my pool. This is how it should be. The Titans are very good. The Chiefs are very bad. But is anyone else amazed at Tennessee's division? With Jacksonville and the Colts in there, I figured they would be the best division in football this year. And the Colts are 3-3. And the Jaguars don't make any sense. Only the Titans are holding up their end of things.

Tampa Bay - Seattle: Tampa Bay beat a very good team, Carolina, this week. And I still believe in the Panthers. And the Buccaneers beat them badly. The Seahawks lost to a beaten up team in Green Bay, and they are as bad as they seem. Away from home, the Hawks don't stand a chance. Except for this year, when they could well win this game by thirty. But they won't. I think. Tampa to win, Tampa to cover the 10.5.

Tampa, 20-10. OK, Tampa didn't cover the 10.5. They came close. And this game was not as close as it seemed. Seattle put together but one convincing drive in the entire game, their offense is absolutely abysmal. And the Hawks defense looked pretty good against the run, but had a really hard time keeping Jeff Garcia from throwing the ball. The Buccaneers are quite good, the Seahawks are definitely terrible.

New York Jets - Oakland: The Jets aren't necessarily for real yet, but they certainly look good. The Raiders have been, for the most part, playing pretty hard, but they suck. The Jets are getting three points in Oakland, and they deserve it. Favre and the Jets to win, and to cover.

Raiders, 16-13. OK, it took a blown timeout call at the end of regulation. And it took a massive 57-year field goal by Sebastien Janikowski for the Raiders to prevail here. But maybe they've turned a corner. It's possible. They have been playing hard all year, just finding ways to lose every game. Perhaps now they have found a way to win? At least against mediocre teams?

Chicago - Minnesota: The Vikings looked pretty terrible against the even-more-terrible Lions last week. The Bears looked stunned against the Falcons. (And rightly so - that finish said more about the Bears than it did about Atlanta.) The Bears have trouble closing out games, but if Minnesota is as bad as they looked this week, they won't win in Chicago. Since it is a home game for the Bears, I will take them over Minnesota in a battle of two enigmatic, probably subpar teams.

Bears, 48-41. Are you kidding me? At least I was right...but those offenses don't look subpar, all of a sudden. And the Bears special teams look like they may be more than just Devin Hester (who was injured in this one). I still think both of these teams basically suck, but the Bears are slightly better. In Chicago. Take the Vikings in Minnesota, folks.

Washington - Cleveland: A week ago, I would have said the Skins could never lose to the Browns. Then they lost to the Rams, who are worse than the Browns. I would also have said the Browns could never beat Washington. Then they beat the Giants, who are better than Washington. So...I still think the Skins should (and will) win this game. Just not by the 7 points I see on the line right now.

Redskins, 14-11. Yep. Maybe my skills are coming back. Washintong won, but Cleveland covered the spread here, with a bit of a letdown after the massive Giants win last week. And the Skins played with a chip on their shoulder after their loss to the Rams. Washington is not as good as they seemed early, and Cleveland is not as bad as they seemed early. These are both pretty decent teams.

New England - Denver: The Broncos are not as good as they seem. The Jaguars proved that this week, hammering the Broncos all over the field. The Patriots are still pretty good, even though they were hammered by the Chargers. I am betting on the fact that this was more a re-awakening by San Diego than it was a descent into lower-level mediocrity by the Patriots. And I think New England will win this Monday nighter, at home, against an over-rated Denver team.

Patriots, 41-7. Well, Denver certainly proved in this game that they are, indeed, over-rated. But...is their offense over-rated as well? 0 points through the first three quarters? Sure, there were lots of turnovers. But wow! It turns out that San Diego hammering New England was NOT a re-awakening of the Chargers, just another weird anomaly. But the Broncos are exposed, and they must be awfully thankful that San Diego lost to the Bills. Looks like it will be a difficult struggle to the finish for Denver, while the Patriots will not be dominant, but will make the playoffs.

Miami - Baltimore: The Fish are for real, despite that incredible last-second loss to the Texans. They are genuinely, deceptively, a mediocre team. So too are the Ravens. This week was either Peyton Manning's re-awakening, or the exposing of the Ravens defense as merely good, and not spectacular. If it was the Ravens coming down to earth, Miami wins. If it was just the Colts finally taking off, Baltimore wins. I am betting on Baltimore not being that good. So Miami wins, Ravens cover the three.

Ravens, 27-13. The Dolphins magic may well have worn off here. And it turns out that last week was not the Ravens coming down to earth. And it was not the Colts taking off. It was a bizarre, flukey, stupid anomaly game in the NFL this stupid, bizarre, anomaly-filled season. At least the Ravens covered the spread.

Carolina - New Orleans: The Saints beat up on a weak Raiders team this week, but do they ever look good! And the Panthers were embarassed by a pretty good Tampa team. My gut tells me that the Panthers are still as good as I think they are, and that means they are better than the Saints. But barely. Carolina's at home, I'll take the Panthers to win. And because I'm a sissy, New Orleans to cover the three point spread.

Panthers, 30-7. I was too much of a sissy, shoulda listened to my gut. I am totally convinced now. The Panthers are still terrific, and that Buccaneers game was another of those stupid anomalies that have permeated the NFL this year. There is still a chance that every single team in the NFL could finish this season at 8-8. It could happen. Stupid football.

San Diego - Buffalo: The Bills are favoured in this one, which is understandable to a degree, because they have a better record. However, the Chargers, I believe, have caught fire. And San Diego, playing at their highest level, is three times better than Buffalo at their highest level. Chargers to win, obviously cover the spread, and then run it right up on the Bills. Who are good, but they're not there yet.

Bills, 23-14. OK, the Chargers have not caught fire. They are merely a team that is hot one week, cold the next. Depending on where they are. We will have to flip a coin to see which Chargers team will show up next week. In England. The Bills have still not convinced me they are for real, but they will beat every team that plays like the Chargers did today.

Indianapolis - Green Bay: The Colts may well be for real. They might have regained their winning ways in their convincing victory this week over the Ravens. I am betting on the Ravens losing it rather than the Colts getting it back, but Indy should still be able to beat a badly beaten up Green Bay squad. I'll be cheering for the Packers, but I'll take the Colts against the spread and straight up.

Packers, 34-14. For once, I am thrilled to be wrong. The Colts have not bounced back. They are not yet the Colts of old. Nor are they guaranteed to become the Colts of old this season. The Packers are great at Lambeau, Favre or no Favre. And Aaron Rodgers looked really, really good today. So too did that Packers defense. I won't be picking against this team again this season. At least at home.

I LOVE voting.

I went to my local vote-goes-here establishment this morning on the way home. There is some kind of law, I imagine, making sure that the campaign signs are kept a certain distance away from the vote-goes-here establishment. Which means that for the three hundred yards leading up to the boundary, there are dozens, even hundreds, of campaign signs crammed together for maximum exposure. The theory being, I suppose, that most of the people who go out to vote leave their house without a thought in their head, and make their snap decision as to whom they will vote for at the very last second, as they step into the booth and actually read the names of the four candidates for the first time ever. The theory, I suppose, is that if you have four hundred signs up in the block leading up to that booth, this silly muddle-headed voter will be fooled into thinking he actually knows your guy when he steps into the booth. Lord, I sure hope this isn't the case.

In my neighbourhood, only two parties used the pepper-the-neighbourhood-with-signs tactic around the vote-goes-here place. The Liberals and the Conservatives. Well, I showed them. I voted for neither. Take that, lawn signs! Then I take my ballot, unfold it, go behind the cheap little cardboard screen, put an X in the Green Party box, then I fold the ballot up the same way it came to me, and return it to the woman at the desk. She rips off a small piece and hands it back to me, so I can put it in the box myself. This seems to me like a lot of effort. Couldn't I just go into the little screened area, check a box, and drop the ballot in? I mean, I only get one. Or maybe even walk back to the lady at the desk so she knows I didn't steal the ballot and run off to photocopy it. I could put it in the box in front of her. What's with that little ripped piece of paper? What's that for? What's happening here? Ah, whatever. I'm done. Now I sit hoome and watch TV.

Of course, with my hours, I can't possibly watch this whole election. In fact, I think that no matter what your hours, very few people could watch the whole thing. Lloyd Robertson is planning to go past 2 in the morning with this coverage. Maybe I can catch the tail end. The big finish. The dramatic, come-from-behind Bloc Quebecois minority government victory. And frankly, this is one I want to watch. Like a big football game, but with more at stake. And I will root for people. Like football. And against people. Like football. (In football, when two teams I hate - say, the Cowboys and Raiders - play each other, I still watch, but I cheer for injuries.) And that is what I will be doing tonight. In a race that, really, could go one of three ways, there will be actual drama on election day for the first time in a while. At least, the first time I can remember.

The Great Turkey Bowl of 2008.

Many years ago, in deep dark Orleans, a tradition was started by a man named Steve Dalrymple and his cronies. A football tradition, one that required many young men and women to congregate at Ecole Des Voyageurs in Orleans on Thanksgiving Monday, shake off their turkey hangovers, fight through their real hangovers, and engage in an epic contest of football. This traditional football game has become more and more heated over the years, and it is now in contention for the record for "most brutal, bloody, dirty, vicious, barbarous and brutish games of two-hand touch" on Earth. This year was no exception, as a hotly contested match came down to some controversial plays and some questionable self-officiating before the final outcome was decided.

The game started off poorly for Team B, as Eric The Intern took the helm at quarterback and promptly threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Derek Mears of Team A. The Team B game plan was adjusted accordingly, as it became quickly apparent that Mr. Mears was the only guy on the entire field who was actually fast. Future efforts from Team B were made to kick the ball away from Mr. Mears, much as CFL teams in the 90s made sure to kick it away from the Gizmo. At the half, Team A was ahead, 24-18, on the strength of some solid quarterbacking from Ryan Falls and Marc Bois, and some clutch receptions from Mears. Team B regouped on the sidelines with a much deserved smoke break, and came out for the second half with a different attitude.

Two early touchdown grabs in the second half by James Fraser, including one where he wrested the ball forcibly from the hands of his own team-mate, put Team B up 30-24. A sack of quarterback Marc Bois put Team A further in the hole, and a foolish decision to go for it on fourth down left Team B with great field position. A quick touchdown pass to Eric Russo gave Team B a lead it would not relinquish, and the game was sealed with an 80-yard bomb in the final moments. Final score, Team B, 42, Team A 24.

The MVP votes were tallied, as the losing team voted for game MVP and the winning team voted on the losing team's MVP. Derek Mears, with two touchdowns and some great kickoff returns, won the award for Team A, and went home with the Mr. T fake gold chain that is the traditional prize. Player, team captain, organizer and league commissioner Steve Dalrymple presented the game MVP trophy, the traditional plastic-chicken-glued-into-a-gravy-boat, to Eric The Intern of Team B, who despite the early interception managed to buckle down and throw two long TD passes, make some key receptions, and record a knockdown and a sack in the second half, all while being the slowest, most out of shape player on the field.

This morning, we all return to work, eagerly awaiting Turkey Bowl 2009, and nursing our sore muscles, our bruises, and our dirty knees and elbows. As the most out-of-shape player on the field, I figure it is likely I will be the most sore today, a feeling that came to me very early this morning, when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. No matter where I lay, it was either on a bruise or a muscle that was no longer working the way it was supposed to work. I plan to be healthy within one year's time, back at next year's Turkey Bowl, where it will likely be much more difficult to defend my MVP chicken-in-a-gravy-boat trophy. And I don't want to give that up!