Friday, October 24, 2008


This morning we were at the home of Joanne and Gaetan Bourque in Rockland, and a great time, once again, was had by all. Especially by me. First of all, I brought my good friends Bernie and Danny to the house to participate in a no-holds barred, bad-ass sumo wrestling tournament. Bernie (or, Tetsuzukiyama, the Procedure Mountain) is the founder and commissioner of the Ottawa Drunken Redneck Backyard Sumo Wrestling League. Danny (or, Mujinamitsu, the Honey Badger), is the first Yokozuna, or grand champion, of the league. Also in attendance was Phil (or, The Wild Ace from the Provincial Championship Wrestling League).

The Wild Ace did OK for his first time in the sumo ring, winning one match against each of us and finishing at 4-8. Also acquitting himself very well was Tyler, whom we recruited from the neighbourhood. Ottawa Backyard Sumo, after all, is open to everyone. And he did very well, finishing I believe with a similar 4-8 record. The tournament, however, went to the guys with experience, as Mujimamitsu prevailed with a 9-3 record, and Tetsuzukiyama finished in second place at 8-4. I was a disappointing third, with a record of 5-7. The one bright spot was that the ringer, the guy who could have destroyed us all, got stuck in traffic and showed up after the whole thing was over. Tim (or, The Hickster from Provincial Championship Wrestling) is just about the biggest guy I've ever seen. I think he is about 6'9", and about 400 pounds. I would still have bet good money on Mujinamitsu taking at least one match from him, however. He is small, but has inner bigness.

Here is the place to see the video of this major Ottawa sporting event, when it gets uploaded later today:

Then Becky Abbott played, and was fantastic as usual. I took in her second performance from the hot tub in the backyard, as I was pretty sore and stiff from all that sumo action. Doc and Woody seemed to think that I was making myself at home in Joanne and Gaetan's house, and that this might well be rude, but they were the ones who gave me the towel. Then they got mean-spirited, and had our promo guy Esther dump a bucket of ice water on me when I wasn't expecting it. But joke's on them - they didn't even have my microphone on to hear my yelp of surprise! I stayed in the hot tub.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Maybe this year...

Every year, a great organization that fights autism called Children At Risk gets a bunch of people in Ottawa to make pumkins. They call these people "celebrity" pumpkin carvers, but then they invite me too. They even ask Doc & Woody to carve a pumpkin. These pumpkins get displayed around Ottawa at different malls, and people can donate money to Children At Risk by placing their cash in the box next to their favourite pumpkin. Which is basically bidding on the pumpkin. The winner of the bidding gets to take the pumpkin home, carved by whatever "celebrity" it is. Now frankly, I have no interest in the rest of the people involved in this thing. I don't care if Max Keeping's pumpkin earns more money than mine. Or if Wayne Rostad gets twenty times my numbers, or if the guy who runs the local grocery store or the lady with the craft stand beat me.

I just want to beat Doc and Woody. That's it. The fact of the matter is, I have never beaten them. Not once. And yet every year, I have the better pumpkin. Last year, I put a lot of effort into my pumpkin. I created a horrific, scary, Hallowe'enie masterpiece. A Tarantino pumpkin, complete with bullet hole, blood splatter and brains. And the guys had our promo guy Tiffany paint theirs to look like Gene Simmons from KISS. Theirs sucked, mine was awesome, and they beat me. Why? Because I get a crappy prize package to go along with my pumpkin. Every year. I get the rejects from the promo bin, they get tickets to a bunch of great shows. And that is why people put more money into their little box at the mall.

Take this year, for example. I saw their pumpkin. Doc stapled a Hallowe'en mask to it. And then sent it in. In fact, he even subcontracted that task - he brought in the mask and a wig, and handed them to Esther our promo guy to staple them on herself. Then she brought his pumpkin to the event for him. This is the effort they put into this. I must admit though, this year, I put as much effort, if not less, than they did. I came up with the idea of the pumpkin, and I hollowed it out, then my girlfriend designed it and carved it and put it together for me. She is a bit of a nut when it comes to pumpkins and carving them. She loves it. We have six fake pumpkins in the house right now, because she needed to start carving early, and real ones would rot by Hallowe'en. And she certainly has talent. I asked our promo guy Esther to take a picture of the pumpkin, and I'll put it up on this post when she sends it to me. Now she sent it to me. There it is, at the top.

But the fact remains, my pumpkin looks outstanding. And Doc and Woody's looks stupid. And they are likely going to win again. Because our promo department will likely give them, like, Super Bowl tickets, or Neil Young at the very least. And what did I get from the promo people for MY prize pack? About two months ago, promo was getting ready to give away some of the worst movies in the world. Epic Movie, Mad Money, and Silk. Atrocious movies. And I told them never, under any circumstance, should they give those to people. Because they are awful. So when I ask them for prizes for my prize pack, what do I get? The same three movies I told them never to give away before. And it looks as though I will lose again.

Don't forget to give my love to Rose

I don't care at all about the new Chinese Democracy album. You may have just read my post about that. I also cared very little about the new AC/DC album Black Ice. after all, I already have AC/DC's album, why would I want another copy? And I was slightly more interested in Death Magnetic, because I felt there was an off chance that Metallica could release another classic.

Over the past three or four months, as the editor-in-chief of Breaking Rock News, I have been innundated with stories and rumours and hints and leaks about these three albums. It started with Death Magnetic, and as soon as that album was released the stories died away. They were quickly replaced with the innuendo and the tasty morsels of news about Black Ice. And now that AC/DC have gone ahead and released that album, the news is now dominated by Chinese Democracy. And with every new Big Story, I care a little bit less. Frankly, I find the decision to go after that blogger that released the Chinese Democracy tracks online to be a great publicity ploy by Axl Rose's team of media assassins. It was one of the only ways to drum up coverage of an album that had been written off by most people and that was cared about by even fewer. I just hope they do the right thing once it is officially released, and drop the charges against Kevin Cogill and give him a nice, fat, millions-of-dollars bonus for helping to promote their dead fish.

That being said, I am still pretty happy with this whole situation. When the top albums usually belong to American Idol fourth-place finishers and the cast of High School Musical, at least maybe, just maybe, the furor surrounding these albums might convince kids to check out Master of Puppets, Appetite For Destruction and Back in Black.

A Rose by any other name

Am I the only person alive who just doesn't care about Chinese Democracy? The long, long, long-awaited Guns N Roses album is finally a reality, and it seems as though many people want to think this is some kind of watershed event in the history of music. I think there were maybe two or three years, back in the early 90s, where I would have cared. I remember saving up my babysitting money so I could purchase Use Your Illusion I & II when they hit stores in 1991, when I was 13. I loved those albums, so I can safely assume that for the next two years, there was a certain amount of anticipation for The Spaghetti Incident?, which proved, in 1993, to be one of the worst albums ever made. By anyone. Being a forgiving kind of fan, I allowed for the possibility that this album was an anomaly, and better things were to come. The same way I chose not to hop off the Green Bay bandwagon when the Packers went 4-12 in 2005.

I don't recall, as it was about 15 years ago, but I can only assume that although my enthusiasm for the upcoming Chinese Democracy album was dampened by The Spaghetti Incident?, I was still anticipating something good until about 1995. And then I moved on, discovering all kinds of other music and forgetting entirely about Guns N Roses, except to remember them, fondly, as a classic band that had once done some great things. Like Buffalo Springfield, or the 13th Floor Elevators. Slash went off into his Snakepit, and I did not care. Axl Rose recruited a guy with a KFC bucket on his head, and I cared even less. Nor was I interested in Velvet Revolver or any number of other, tangentially, quasi-Guns N Roses-related products over the next few years.

Because Guns N Roses was dead. Done. Finished. And, in point of fact, as far as I'm concerned, they are still finished. Oreo Pizza is neither Oreo, nor pizza, and Chinese Democracy is the Oreo pizza of music. It is no more a Guns N Roses album than Steven Seagal's album Mojo Priest is the soundtrack to Under Siege. It is an Axl Rose album, and he just happens to be associated with Guns N Roses. And maintain control over the name. But because I hold no personal animosity toward Axl Rose, I wanted to hear the new song we began playing yesterday, "Chinese Democracy". And it confirmed what I have long believed. Chinese Democracy is not a Guns N Roses album. GNR was great because of Slash and his massive brilliant riffs, and because of Axl Rose's inhuman voice. Take away Slash, and you have a decent guitar player playing a decent riff. Take away Axl Rose's incredible voice, and you have "Chinese Democracy".

His voice, I can only assume, is gone. When this happened is anyone's guess. One of two things took place here - either it was gone in 1995, when the album should have been released. And the reason it took so long to actually come out is that they were waiting until the technology existed to bury that voice under layers of overdubs and digital processing. Or, his voice disappeared in the last two years, which makes the fact that he waited so long to release this album that much more disappointing. Either way, the past seventeen years haven't seen me sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation, and the next month won't see me doing that either.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A solid interview.

Yesterday, I spoke to Glenn Kay, a zombie expert who has written a really cool book called Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Not only does it go into the history of zombies (a story from Haitian folklore about bodies raised from the dead to do the bidding of a voodoo master), but it rates and reviews almost 1,000 zombie movies. Yes, there have been 1,000 zombie movies. The interview is available at the cynical cinema webpage - we discuss zombie makeup, should you want to dress up for Hallowe'en, as well as movies. Some of my favourite bad ones - Uncle Sam, Plan Nine From Outer Space, Horror Rises From the Tomb, as well as some of the great ones - 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and Dead Alive (Braindead). Here is the link:

My deadly computer virus.

I turned my computer on this morning, and there was a big spider on the screen. I couldn't click on it with the mouse, and no matter what program I opened, the spider remained in the same exact spot, on top of the program I was opening. I panicked a little. It was obviously a virus of some kind, one that I couldn't remove or get into. I ran the virus scan thing I have, and it said that it had expired. I guess I need to pay fifty bucks every year or something to renew it. Not having a credit card, I haven't done that. Also, I didn't want to renew it now, while there was a virus on my computer, because who knows how it will affect anything? I searched through the list of programs I have, and there is another virus-removal thing that I think came with the computer and was never used. I used that to scan the hard drive, but it said that it was perfectly clean. I tried for about forty minutes to figure out what was happening. I did everything I could to figure out how to get rid of this thing. I was pulling out my hair and sobbing softly into my oatmeal. And yet this giant spider remained, superimposed over everything I was doing, looking dangerous and mocking my inability to use computers. Then it walked off the screen, onto my notebook paper, across the desk and off into the corner.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My record on the year is now 56-45 straight up, 61-40 against the spread. And the NFL remains weird this year. But now, things appear to be settling down a little, and perhaps the next few weeks will be...regular? Here goes:

Baltimore - Oakland: The Ravens are pretty good, and although it was Miami, they made a statement this week. The Raiders played above their pay grade last week against the Jets. But the Raiders have been playing teams tough, win OR lose, and the Ravens are getting more than a TD (7.5) right now. Take Baltimore to win, the Raiders to cover.

Baltimore, 29-10. Well, that was not close. The spread, or the game. Ravens win big, cover by eleven points. The Raiders are still tough, but they just can't play with good teams. I am not surprised that the Baltimore defense gave up only 10 points to this anemic Raiders offense. But I would have thought their offense would be a little slower. 29 points is remarkable. Baltimore is one of the teams on that playoff bubble right now. Maybe they're good enough to make the playoffs, maybe they aren't. Too early for a definitive verdict right now.

Washingon - Detroit: The Skins are not as good as they seem. But the Lions are as bad as they seem. The Skins are unlikely to look past Detroit, after a few alarm bells sounded in the past couple of weeks. So I will take Washington to beat the Lions, cover the 7.5 point spread, and demoralize Detroit even more than they already are.

Redskins, 25-17. And the Skins did indeed cover the spread. By a half point. For a while there, at the beginning, it looked as though the Lions came to play. And maybe for a while, Washington did indeed look past this game. But eventually, the world settled into it's proper rhythm, and the Redskins took the game. I don't think, however, that the Lions were demoralized by the game. (I wouldn't know for sure though - the stupid game was stupid blacked out in Ottawa. Because we might drive down to Detroit to actually watch.)

Buffalo - Miami: Yes, it's a divisional game, and the Dolphins are far better than they were last year. But their brief run of great play appears to be over, and the Bills looked really, really good against the Chargers this week. You don't look past the division games, Buffalo will not look past this one, and the Fish will lose their third straight.

Dolphins, 25-16. OK. The Fish ARE much better than they were last year. And they're much better than I predicted last week. And who knows? With a little luck and a bit of toughness, they could make the playoffs in this suddenly weak division!

New York Jets - Kansas City: Who would have thought the Jets would lose to the Raiders? Not me, anyway...Favre looks to be struggling a little, and until he snaps out of it and really gets it together, I can't take the Jets to cover this spread (which stands at 12.5). I also can't take the Chiefs to win, because they are still just awful. Jets to win, Kansas City to cover.

Jets, 28-24. Well, Favre DID snap out of it. A little. Still threw some bad passes, got a little lucky that there weren't more interceptions, but he also threw a couple of very impressive TD passes and he carried the offense. And the Chiefs played well against a below-average Jets defense. New York did win, Kansas City did cover, boy was I ever right.

New England - St. Louis: The Patriots are not that good. Their defense has come down some from last year, and without Brady, their offense is weak. Wait, what? They put up 41 on the Broncos? Well...the Broncos defense is awful. They held them to seven points? Oh...the Rams have had two great weeks in a row, but they surprised the Skins and caught the Cowboys in total disarray. Stephen Jackson can't beat the Patriots on his own, and St. Louis can't beat New England in Foxboro. There is no line on this game right now.

Patriots, 23-16. No, St. Louis can't beat New England in Foxboro. But the Rams have come to life under Jim Haslett. I have no idea what that man said to this team, but I really think that had this game been in St. Louis, the Rams would have come out on top. Stephen Jackson did not play, in the end, but it wouldn't have mattered. The Patriots are now a team that has no choice but to focus hard on the weak opponents, to get the wins when they have a chance. That is the only way they will make the playoffs.

Tampa Bay - Dallas: Even with Tony Romo at full health, I think the Cowboys are in such trouble right now they would not beable to win this game. Tampa Bay has been playing very well, and even with a weakened Dallas team, they are not going to take this one lightly. It remains a statment game for the Buccaneers, serving notice that they are one of the best teams in the NFC, and a real contender. I look for them to play lights-out and win big.

Cowboys, 13-9. Well, the Bucs' defense played lights-out. But then, so too did their offense. What is up with the Cowboys defense finally realizing that they need to win the game themselves? This Cowboys offense is dysfunctional, it's dreadful, but this defense ought to still be one of the powers in the league. And they showed in this game that they still have the capacity to be that. Or, maybe, Tampa Bay DID take this game lightly. But I don't think so. I was so, so wrong.

Carolina - Arizona: The Panthers had a blip, but look to have righted the ship. The Cardinals are quite good, but I believe they are not up to the standards of the Panthers, not yet anyway. Carolina at home will win this game. They won't run away with it, but they will win. I'm taking Carolina by three, Arizona to cover the spread that currently stands at 4.5.

Panthers, 27-23. Oh, so close. I thought Carolina would win by three. And they won by four. Cards did cover that spread, Panthers did win. Can I BE any more right? Well, except for the score. The Panthers ARE this good, and the Cardinals ARE good enough to have a chance to beat them. Both teams should make the playoffs, but only the Panthers will be a true Super Bowl contender.

Houston - Cincinnatti: Here is my upset pick of the week. The Bengals have to win at least one this year, and here is one of their better opportunites. The Texans didn't look terribly impressive this week, letting the Lions get back into the game late. The Bengals are better than the Lions, and they are due. Besides, the spread is 10 points, way too much for a Texans team that could go either way.

Houston, 35-6. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. This was what should have happened, and it did. The Texans are much better than the Bengals, and they certainly didn't look past this game. Helped out by a kick return early, Houston dominated in every phase of the game. And the Bengals are getting worse and worse.

Philadelphia - Atlanta: The Eagles need to make a move, and they need to do it now. The Redskins have come back down to earth after losing to the Rams. The Cowboys are in a complete shambles, after...losing to the Rams. Atlanta is pretty good all of a sudden, but the Eagles are much better, and they are at home. Eagles win, Eagles cover the spread, Falcons wait until next week.

Eagles, 27-14. The Eagles DID make a move. Doesn't the addition of Brian Westbrook help this team? Philadelphia looks like they are focused now, and they locked in during the second half of this game and kept the Falcons away. Atlanta is still a pretty good team, but they are certainly not at the level of a healthy Philadelphia team, and there is no way they'll make the playoffs in a tough division.

Jacksonville - Cleveland: Here are two Jekyll-and-Hyde teams. The Jaguars play great against good teams, and terrible against bad ones. The Browns are an average team. So...I think perhaps the Jaguars can pull this one out? Maybe even without Matt Jones? Jacksonville wins, Cleveland covers the 6.5 spread.

Clevleland, 23-17. Well, the maybe went the other way. The Browns beat the Jaguars, who ARE a better team than they are. Cleveland sure covered the spread, and then some. There is a chance, albeit a slim one, that this is the game that might create a turnaround in the Browns season, and send them off on a winning streak. But this is the 2008 NFL, and there is a pretty good chance that the game won't mean anything, to any team.

Pittsburgh - New York Giants: Pick 'em. It's in Pittsburgh, so the Steelers are favoured by 2.5 points. Read nothing into the Pittsburgh victory this week, it was against a terribly opponent. Then again, the Giants didn't look particularly impressive in beating a weak Niners team either. Take the Steelers, and the points.

Giants, 21-14. OK. The Steelers should have won this game. They're up by two points late, and then they snap the ball over the kicker's head, through the end zone, give up the safety, and let the Giants tie the game. Then, demoralized, they let New York march the length of the field and score the go-ahead TD. For a team that played some amazing defense early, Pittsburgh sure looked like a team that wanted to lose late. But these teams look to be pretty evenly matched, and look for them to both be in the thick of things come playoff time. As long as Roethlisberger doesn't keep throwing four picks a game.

Tennessee - Indianapolis: The Colts are not the team they once were. But they are still THE COLTS, and the second major test for the Titans this season. Tennessee will want to put the boots to them right away, and they will. That defense is terrific, the offense is competent, and the running game is fantastic right now. Titans to win, Titans to cover, Colts to cry and go home.

Titans, 31-21. The statement has been made. Power has shifter in the NFL. Most of it, of course, has shifted to the NFC. But in the AFC, the new team to beat is Tennessee, and this is the game that makes this so. Now, the result here is more about the Colts not being up to their usual standards, rather than the Titans becoming a truly great team, but it was the one game the Titans wanted most of all, and they went out and took it.

San Francisco - Seattle: San Francisco didn't wait until their bye week to fire their coach. But who really thinks changing a coach right now will help this team? They are bad. Then again...look at St. Louis. But here's how it will work. Either the new coach will do nothing to spark the team, and they will be the same team they were last week, and they will beat the Seahawks. Or, the new coach will light a Rams-style fire under their collective asses, and they will handily beat the Seahawks. Seattle is rotten, and they are done. Niners win, cover spread.

Seahawks, 34-13. Is that...a sign of life? In Seattle? Did the offense finally get going? Did the defense finally string together a couple of good performances? Or is this just another of those blip games we have seen so often this season?

San Diego - New Orleans: A true pick-'em game. First of all, it is not in North America. It is in London, England. Which means that either team could be adversely affected, moreso than the other team, by the travel experience. Or one team could be positively affected. Or neither. Or both. Both teams are schizophrenic this year, and San Diego tends to play better against good teams. The Saints are a good team. But then, so was Buffalo last week...the Saints were hammered by a very good team...and they don't have Reggie Bush this week...who knows? It could be a Chargers blowout. It could be a New Orleans blowout. This is such a toss up that I actually flipped a coin. Chargers to win, and cover their three points. That's what my coin said.

Saints, 37-32. Stupid coin. What does it know? Drew Brees played terrific football, as he's done all season. The Saints defense didn't play very well, but they didn't have to given the play of this high-flying offense, which has been firing on all cylinders for some time now. But can you believe that even with that amazing offense doing all those amazing things, the Saints are still only 4-4? Even more amazing, the Chargers still have as much if not more talent than any other team, and they are 3-5!

I am now 63-52 straight up, 68-47 ATS.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Something to see.

This is truly amazing. Hilarious, and amazing. My dad sent me this link, because as an economist, the last time I saw him I tried to pick his brain about the gigantic financial meltdown. And although he was able to explain it to me to a degree, I must say that these two British comedians do a better job. What's amazing - they did this in 2007. Watch this.