Friday, January 9, 2009

Something else I don't understand.

Michael Ignatieff said today that he thinks there should be a big tax cut for lower-and-middle income people, as part of the stimulus stuff that is supposed to jump-start the economy. Obama is doing the same thing in the U.S. And I get it, stimulus is needed, and the more money that's out there the more that will be spent, and so forth. And I get the need to start from the bottom up. This plan is certainly better than giving an assload of money to a bunch of banks. But...if I get a big tax rebate, I'm saving it. I'm putting it away in case I get caught short at Christmas, again, and need to get snow tires. I'm hiding it in my mattress in case I am once again in danger of missing a mortgage payment, and bouncing a mortgage cheque like I did this month. I'm not taking it and running out to purchase a plasma TV and a bunch of Chia pets.

So how does this help stimulate the economy? Wouldn't it stimulate the economy much more if you invested the money directly into those industries which employ lower-to-middle income people? Like...infrastructure? Fixing roads and building bridges and so forth - hey, how about fast-tracking light rail for Ottawa? It would create a ton of jobs, and maybe the project could be expanded to such a degree that we would no longer need OC Transpo at all. Again, I'm no economist. But my dad is. OK, forget you blog readers. I'll just go ask him.

Gaza.

I don't get this. Then again, who does? I have read everything I can on the subject. I have tried, for years, to understand the situation in the Middle East. The one guy I keep returning to, simply because he speaks clearly and makes the most sense to me, is Jimmy Carter. Perhaps more than anyone alive, he still, to this day, has a better handle on the Israel-Palestine conflict than anyone else. I have given up trying to fully understand the rationale behind the hatred on both sides. Jerusalem, the holy land, all the religious stuff - I will never understand that, because I can't understand being so fanatical about anything religious. There is no way I can commisserate with someone in that situation. Newsweek has a terrific series of articles this week, some of which propose what seem to be reasonable solutions to what is a totally unreasonable situation.


However, I still found the Newsweek solution to favour Israel a lot more than I expected. And that's what's baffling me about this whole thing. That just about everyone in the U.S. government appears to favour Israel over Palestine in the crisis. George Bush, as we all likely know, is all about sucking up to Israel. I don't know how many of us know why, but that's how it stands. What I think is entirely plausible is the theory that has been brought up several times in several areas that suggests that Israel took this heinous action now, knowing that as long as Bush was president, they could pretty much do as they pleased. So what they've managed to do is fan the flames of anti-Israeli sentiment around the world, while simultaneously (thanks to Bush's support) fanning the flames of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Arab community, all in the two weeks before the new guy comes in. And who knows how Obama would respond?

Really. Who knows? Where is he on this? I saw him on TV yesterday, giving a speech on the economy. OK, fine. The economy is a monster issue. But what about Gaza? I get saying there is only one president at a time, but he's ducking the issue. He has the team in place that is right for that situation - his secretary of state, whether she actively participated in the talks or not - was present at the Camp David meetings where Bill Clinton tried (and came close) to forge a peace between Israel and the PLO under Yasser Arafat. At the very least, she can bring ol' Bill along with her when she starts to tackle this mess. But he has said nothing, and Isreal continues to kill civilians. Where is he?

This was my thinking yesterday, as I was reading that Newsweek article. Then, as I went to bed, another thought started gnawing at me. Forget Obama. He has an excuse - he is not yet the President. It's weak, but it's an excuse. That one will work for the next eleven days. So forget him. What about Stephen Harper? Where is Stephen Harper on this? What has he said? Where does he stand? I can only imagine he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with George Bush, since this is a foreign policy issue. Andhe really likes the view from Bush's shoulder. So I searched, for the last half hour, for his comments on Gaza. I looked up dozens of stories. I googled and I yahooed...yahood? Whatever. And I came up with...nothing.

You know what I got? I got stories about the 56 Canadians that are being taken out of Palestine and Gaza. So, this is what our government is doing. Removing the people with Canadian citizenship from the war zone. And therein lies the snapshot of this conflict. Hamas, yes, was sending rockets into Israel during the truce, for months. But no Canadians were ever airlifted out of Israel, because there was no fear for their life. The Hamas rockets posed almost no threat. But clearly, Israel's response poses a threat to everyone who lives in that area, whether they are part of Hamas, or just innocent Palestinians, or innocent Canadians. There is no one airlifting innocent Palestinians out of Palestine. They have no chance. They are imprisoned, in the Gaza strip, and have been for some time. By Israel. And now, because there are some terrorists in their midst, Israel is firing into their country. Killing the innocent people along with the guilty ones, because they happen to be imprisoned there, by the country that is now attacking them.

Is that the textbook definition of shooting fish in a barrel? Or is there just an eerie simliarity to the conditions in which "shooting fish in a barrel" apply? These aren't fish. These are people. And they are being shot. And there is a president in the States who is an idiot, a president-elect who is silent, and our Prime Minister, who is AWOL. Obama's excuse of "one president at a time" is weak, but it makes some sense because even if he had a serious, strong plan, it couldn't be implemented until he is sworn in anyway. What's Harper's excuse? That he can't comment because parliament is prorogued? That is not a good enough reason, and it is a much weaker excuse. I'd almost rather he didn't say anything, because I'm pretty sure I know what he's going to say. "We love Israel. We're behind them 100 percent. What else did Bush say?" But at this point I don't care. For God's sake, Harper. Say something.

It is time to end this strike.

This is not a selfish plea. I am not writing this because the bus strike is inconveniencing me. In point of fact, aside from a slow drive home, it hasn't really inconvenienced me at all. But it is costing me money. Every day, in the middle of the afternoon, I go to pick up my mother-in-law at work. She works at a Loeb. Now, it isn't that far, and I certainly don't mind picking her up. But I am always there about ten minutes early. And I always go inside for those ten minutes, because there is always something we need around the house - laundry detergent, hot sauce, what have you. And yesterday, I bought an $81.00 bag of milk. Now, it came with a roast, some carrots, a small package of mushrooms, and a shrimp ring, among other things. Eighty-one dollars, and all I needed was a bag of milk. I am simply incpable of walking to the back of the store and purchasing milk without stopping to pick up six or seven or fifteen other items. I love my food. But I do this every single day, and my wallet is hurting and my fridge is bulging. Mostly with fairly unnecessary items.

I don't think I can really take sides when it comes to the strike. I think the bus drivers and their union are doing a rather despicable thing when it comes to holding the city hostage in order to get their demands met. But I also think the city has been negotiating in bad faith, and that they have been rather disingenuous when it comes to the way they are presenting their position to the public. So far, most of the public has been swallowing the city's position almost exclusively, but I attribute this more to the absolutely horrible PR job being done by the union and their president, M. Cornellier. I think if both sides were able to reasonably present their respective positions, public opinion would be split about 50-50. As my opinion is right now. Frankly, I don't care whose fault it is, but I bemoan the extension of the strike. Because my wallet can't handle it, and I certainly don't need any more little bags of Baby Bel cheese in my fridge.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mostly SFW...the Twitter Whore

As we were discussing this morning, Twitter is apparently some kind of internet thing where you write down exactly what you're doing at all times of the day. Like "I just took a huge crap", or "I just made a chicken sandwich with process cheese, and it was a little dry but decent". And other people can check out your Twitter page to find out what you are doing at this very moment, thereby being included, in some way, in your life. Like updating your facebook status, only you're doing it constantly, and less people care. Or maybe more people care. I don't know. Anyway, here are the videos we were talking about - very funny - the Twitter Whore:

Part 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALbH63Ali9U&feature=PlayList&p=4EB8416ED9B32397&index=0&playnext=1

Part 2:

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

Well, there you go. I don't want to go through all the rigamarole of signing up for Twitter, and creating more passwords, and finding friends, and all that garbage. So I will use my blog for a similar purpose. I just returned from the bathroom, where I did a standing #1, then I washed my hands with cold water. Now I am typing a blog post about Twitter. Soon, I will be back in the studio for more Doc and Woody show, where I will read the National Post while they talk. Stay tuned!

Polygamy!

OK, I'm confused. So this guy in B.C. gets arrested for "practising polygamy", that is, being married to 22 women at once. And I'm confused as to how this is even possible. I am in the process of becoming legally married this summer. And there are a ton of hoops you have to jump through in order to be considered legally married in the eyes of the law, and the government, and so forth. You have to fill out a bunch of forms, many of which state that you are not currently married to anyone else. And there are only a few institutions that can marry you such that your union is recognized as a "marriage". Like, City Hall, and a bunch of churches.


So how is it that these guys could have so many wives? Sure, according to their religion, they are married several times over. But these marriages couldn't possibly be recognized by our law or our government, which pooh-poohs the whole idea of marrying more than one person at once. So how can this happen? Aren't these people, in the eyes of the law, not "technically" married anyway? So who cares? Frankly, who cares anyway? As long as there isn't any of that creepy cult stuff happening with children, go for it. Do your thing. Big deal.


So here's my plan. (I'll have to ask my girlfriend if she's OK with this.) After I get married in the summer, I will invite 21 other women to move into my house as well. I will treat them the same as I treat my wife, and I will claim them as dependants on my taxes (I hope they have jobs though...I don't make enough money to provide properly for that many babes). Then if the government comes calling, I will point out that I am married to only one woman, but I have twenty-one mistresses. And that it isn't a religious thing at all, I'm just greedy. And all is legal and above board. On second thought, maybe I won't ask my girlfriend. Maybe it'll just be a surprise.

Breaking rock news today

This could be cool - Van Morrison is releasing a CD and a two-LP set of his live performance of Astral Weeks last November at the Hollywood Bowl. The discs come out February 10th, but why bother? We all already own Astral Weeks, the album...this is what's cool - the shows were filmed, and a DVD will be out later this year. Looking forward to that.


The Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach is no more. The last rock N roll roller coaster ride has come and gone, and the park is bankrupt. Nine months after opening. It took six years to build this thing, and more than $400 million dollars. It lasted nine months. It was the most expensive tourist attraction ever built in Carolina, North OR South. And it lasted nine months.


Bruce Springsteen is going to play a free event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. as part of the week leading up to Barack Obama's inauguration. I wonder whose idea the venue was? Much as I like and support and believe in Barack Obama, I hope he doesn't have the hubris to set up something like this himself. The steps of the Lincoln Memorial? Come on...at the same time, I would certainly love to attend this show!


Chris Squire has had a baby. He is the guitarist for Yes, and Breaking Rock News is for all intents and purposes, a tabloid. Who wouldn't report on the birth of a baby? And what do people always want to know? They weight of a baby! Why? I have no idea. Now, I'm no doctor, but the reported weight of the little girl - one pound, 13 ounces - seems a little unhealthy to me. Verging on the...implausible? I must admit I don't care enough to figure it out.


Graham Nash and Jackson Browne want health care to be at the top of Barack Obama's to-do list when he takes office January 20th. So they are holding a benefit concert for health care down the road from the white house on inauguration day. What's the idea here? That Obama is so distracted and scatter-brained that he might forget entirely that health care is an issue unless he is constantly reminded? That he might go ahead with the first thing he thinks of and create a playoff system for college football before he tackles health care? I don't get it.


And finally, Carlos Santana has a new website, where he says "my vision for [the website] is a multi-tiered media company whose approach to building a new reality for the planet is based on inspiration, creativity, love and forgiveness. I wish to bring it forth by combining music, sacred thoughts and inspirational media." Go here to find out if he managed to accomplish that goal:


http://www.architectsofanewdawn.com/

OK. Is this real?

Check out this video - Doc wants me to do this, he thinks we can. I think this guy is far skinnier than I am, and as such there is no cow alive that could possibly handle someone of my...girth.

http://www.tmz.com/2009/01/07/say-hello-to-man-cow/

Not only do I think it would be impossible with someone as fat as I am, we are also not sure whether or not it is real. What kind of camera trickery could be used to pull off something like this? I'm at a loss, myself...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Some Breaking Rock News...

Aerosmith "can't wait" to get into the studio to record their 15th studio LP, and they will be doing so tomorrow. I, on the other hand, can wait. I can wait a lifetime. Starting with Get A Grip, Aerosmith has managed to maintain cultural relevance, album sales, and a fan base, despite (or perhaps because of) a slow but sure slip into musical irrelevance. They are now the music du jour for tweens who like Ben Affleck movies and young women who like Chevy commercials. They are not the band of Rag Doll or Janie's Got a Gun or Dream On. They are Bon Jovi with a little more street cred. From long ago.


Bruce Springsteen is making more songs available free. This time on the new Guitar Hero: World Tour video game. Because that (I actually mean this) is the best place for anyone to release new music. I realize now that Springsteen is hitting the ground at the right time, timing-wise, with the release of his new album coming right between the Obama inauguration and the Super Bowl halftime show. Smart timing! And it's only sensible to go through Guitar Hero to market your music. Any up-and coming band like Springsteen's knows that. Way to go, Boss!


U2's guitarist Edge says that the upcoming U2 album, No Line On The Horizon, is inspired by Led Zeppelin and the White Stripes. But then he goes on to say that, in fact, the album was more inspired by an appearance in a documentary that Jack White and Jimmy Page made together. And that seeing them together on this history-of-the-electric-guitar documentary was kind of neat. And then they went and recorded the album. But let's be honest. What U2 album is influenced by anyone other than Bono?


Yesterday, we reported that the Beatles' tunes would be available for download for the first time ever, thanks to some strange Norwegian podcasts that featured each of the songs in the Beatles catalogue. Their entire catalogue! Hooray...no. As it turns out, the Norwegian broadcaster that was putting these podcasts out there had to take them down, because of legal entanglements. Not because of any litigious action by Paul McCartney or anything like that - but rather because of a tiny clause in their contract, where it turns out they waited too long. They are only allowed to put out podcasts within six months after they aired. Or something. But they waited more than a year. Or something. And...we lose the Beatles music again. I hope they will not be forgotten by the general public...they were pretty good.


In an effort to make absolutely sure that we try to forget the Beatles, Paul McCartney recently released an album with a group, or side project, or something, called Fireman. And now it comes with a deluxe tin box that features a bunch of extra stuff. Like a bonus CD that gives you all the same tracks, but different versions. And a DVD where you can take those tracks, and remix them yourself to your satisfaction. So...I can take a CD of music that already sucks, put in my own effort in an attempt to make it at least half-decent...and then what? Play it for my friends?


And, in an effort to remind us all just how awesome the Beatles really were, Michael Jackson has said he will be leaving the Beatles catalogue to McCartney in his will. When Michael Jackson dies, McCartney will inherit (back) the entire Beatles catalogue for which he was outbid by Jackson more than 20 years ago. Jacko, you see, wants to extend an olive branch to Macca. Oh God, I've been reading too many tabloids. Anyway, the two haven't spoken in 23 years or something, so this is a way for the maniac man to make amends. Except, and no one appears to have thought of this, Paul McCartney is 66. Michael Jackson is 50. That's a 16-year age difference, and the chances McCartney outlives Jackson ought to be pretty small. The fact that no one has pointed this out indicates to me that just about everyone in the world assumes that Michael Jackson will perish, soon, in some incredible blaze of insanity.


The Doobie Brothers are almost finished their new album. The Doobie Brothers are still awesome. For more evidence on just how awesome they are, scroll down and click the link in the next post.


The Allman Brothers are also still awesome. They are back working, after Gregg Allman's illness last year. More interesting though, is that their badass amazing guitarist, Derek Trucks, is releasing his new album with his own group on Tuesday. Already Free is out January 13th. I suspect it is well worth picking up.


And lastly, sadly, Ron Asheton has died. Many people (including Doc and Woody and Randall) do not know him by name. They do, however, know his band, the Stooges. One of the very influential guitar players in music, Asheton will be missed. He was 60. I can't do a great tribute to him myself, at least not as good as the one in Rolling Stone. Or, of course, the memories of Iggy Pop. (Such as they are.) So go here to see the full extent of Asheton's influence:


http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2009/01/06/iggy-pop-pays-tribute-to-stooges-ron-asheton-he-was-my-best-friend/

Because this is just bizarre.

When I used to play waterpolo, I was one of the slower swimmers in the pool. Of course, I still played waterpolo, so I swam faster than 99 percent of the other people in the world. But in case I needed a lesson in humility, I was once in a pool with by buddy Darryl, who played with me, and his brother Craig, who was a national swimming champion. And Craig said he could help me with my stroke, and perhaps teach me to swim a little faster. He pointed to the other end of the pool, and said "swim as fast as you can to that side". And so I did. I swam the length of the pool, as fast as I could. Halfway there, I realized that Craig wasn't following me. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen. I looked down into the water, and there he was, under me. Swimming on his back, under water, without using his hands at all, looking up at me while I thrashed and flailed away across the pool. I realy was going as fast as I possibly could.

Not that that's a story that has any bearing on anything. I just thought about it when I saw this absolutely bizarre youtube video. Of all the people in the world to challenge Michael Phelps to a swimming race, I would have thought Warren Sapp, the 300-pound-plus former defensive lineman, might have been the last. It turns out Sapp actually swims quite well, and this is a pretty close race. Of course, Phelps has a bit of a handicap. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqYBq8K_Q9E

I wonder if I could beat Phelps if I started halfway down the pool like that? Probably not.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Breaking Rock News. Breaking, yes. Rock, yes. News?

Motley Crue have put their website's backup server up for auction on eBay. I have absolutely no idea what this means. I put this in Breaking Rock News because it was reported as news by reputable sources. But I don't know what a backup server is. A machine of some kind? A computer file? A diskette? The waitress who is on standby to bring the band cocktails should the top-ranked waitress get distracted by Tommy Lee's topless policy? What? And how do you sell such a thing? And is it worth more than a regular Backup Server because it once did something Motley Crue-related? Or less? No, this "story" brings up more questions than it answers.

Jon Bon Jovi, bless his little heart, is trying to help Hillary Clinton pay off her campaign debt. She still owes $6.3 million, having spent everything she had, and several million more, trying to defeat Barack Obama. I guess she wants to pay everything off before she goes to work for...Barack Obama. Tickets for the Bon Jovi benefit concert in L.A. range from $75 to $1,000. Hopefully, almost all of them are the $1,000 variety, or they won't make $6.3 million. I wonder, if you do a show like this, and the one show makes six million bucks, even though you aren't keeping the money does it count toward next year's Total Tour Gross, when Pollstar reports on the top-money touring acts of the year?

Speaking of Obama, it was a reunion for an Obama fundraiser that sparked the Grateful Dead to stay reunited and go out on tour. They have hired a new keyboard player and a new guitar player for the tour (guitarist Warren Haynes, the great Allman Brothers player, will be joining them). The tour comes nowhere near Ottawa, except for some dates in upstate New York. Meanwhile, the Dead's former keyboard player and former guitar player are locked in a heated battle over royalties from beyond the grave! Hopefully this tour can give them a bit more money, royalty-wise, and they can put the bad blood behind them and rest in peace.

New Bruce Springsteen video up at amazon.com for a free download. Not exactly a Super-Bowl-Halftime-rock-the-joint song, but a good one, reminiscent of some of the River stuff. Check out "Life Itself" here:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Itself-Amazon-Exclusive/dp/B001OAKPF0/ref=sr_f2_1?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1231182650&sr=102-1

His new album is out on January 27th.

Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck are playing two shows together at some Mega-Super-Ginormo-Dome in Japan. Why Japan? I don't know. Perhaps Japan is the only country in the world that would appreciate two guitar gods of such stature on stage at the same time? No...I don't get it either. Come to Ottawa, jerks! I don't believe the two ever played together in the Yardbirds, since Clapton quit when the group went too "pop music" and Beck replaced him. I believe. I think Beck played, at least for a time, with Jimmy Page in the Yardbirds. How about the three of them getting together and touring? Reunite the Yardbirds, all versions of the band at once! People might just pay to see that.

Thank you Norway! For the first time ever, Beatles songs are available for download - and it's free! With McCartney and Apple and iTunes and Wal-Mart and Starbucks and Donald Trump still involved ina an impasse and a legal battle and so forth (or such is my understanding), Beatles tunes are not yet available. So, I believe unknowingly, some Norwegian journalists accidentally found a way around that. They did a series called "“Vår daglige Beatles,” (“Our Daily Beatles”) which told the story behind each individual Beatles song, then played that track. Every song from their official catalogue, in order. And that series is available as a podcast, whatever that is. So you can now, for the first time, download Beatles tunes. You just have to sit through all the Norwegian banter between each song.

And lastly, Wilco is coming out with their first ever live DVD. Normally Wilco would not make the Breaking Rock News, but they just played as the opening act at Scotiabank Place for Neil Young, and a lot of people liked it, and so I thought I would mention it at least. Wilco is good, and this DVD is exciting. Looking forward to it. Ashes of American Flags will come out in February or March.

Why do they call it the divisional round?

Two of the divisional champions, the Dolphins and Vikings, are gone. This round is never about winning a divisional title, and teams almost never play other teams from their own division. This coming weekend, only the Eagles and Giants will be playing a team from their own division. So why is this the "divisional round" of the playoffs? For lack of a better name? I guess.

Oh, sidebar - how come Tony Sparano didn't win Coach of the Year? Sure, Atlanta had an amazing turnaround, but that was in large part thanks to Matt Ryan's incredible rookie season and the resurgence of their running game and a new attitude on defense. All of which deserve a lot of credit - but Miami had the biggest turnaround in NFL history, and it appeared to be done with smoke and mirrors! Chad Pennington doesn't deserve that much credit for the big season - he didn't win a single game, he just didn't lose them. And with Miami, you notice the coaching. The Wildcat, the different formations, the differenet looks on defense that created all those turnovers. Sparano deserved it more. Anyway, here's what I think this week:

Carolina - Arizona: The Panthers are way too strong for an average Cardinals squad. Sure, Arizona ended the incredible turnaround season for the Falcons, but Atlanta had gone way farther than even they believed was possible. Now they are facing a Carolina team that plans to go all the way. And I think they will go all the way. Kurt Warner can't pass on the Panthers like he could on the Falcons. The Arizona running game, non-existent all year, looked decent against Atlanta, but it will disappear again in Carolina. All this, and the Panthers were perfect at home this season. Panthers will cover the 10-point spread.

Arizona, 33-13. Did anyone see this coming? Anyone? I certainly didn't. Apparently, Kurt Warner CAN pass on the Panthers like he did against the Falcons. And then some. Larry Fitzgerald may well be the best receiver in football (although I give high marks to Steve Smith as well - you see the way he forced his way into the end zone once the game was already out of hand? The guy never quits.) This Arizona team is amazing. I can't imagine a single person, seeing them lose five of their last six, would have imagined them going to the NFC Championship Game.

Tennessee - Baltimore: The Titans are favoured by 3 points. But I don't know. After watching that Ravens defense force five turnovers against one of the best ball-control offenses in NFL history, I think they are the best defense in football right now. And they will get their turnovers, and their three-and-outs, against another pretty good ball control offense in Tennessee. The difference in the Miami game was not only the turnovers, but the ability for the Ravens to score on defense. You can't count on that against the Titans, and the Titans have a pretty wicked defense of their own. I think in the end this will come down to QBs. I'm no enormous fan of Kerry Collins. In fact, I think he's awful. But he is less likely to make the big mistake at the big time than rookie Joe Flacco. Well, then again, that's what I thought about Pennington. Titans to win, Ravens to cover in a real nail-biter.

Ravens, 13-10. Well, Baltimore covered. And it was actually, despite the last-minute field goal to win it, not as close as I thought it would be. What truly amazed me was the Titans ability to move the football. If it hadn't been for that monster, turnover creating Ravens D, the Titans could have run away with this game. Or, at the very least, had three more field goals. Way to go, Ravens. Even when their D is giving up a ton of yards, they still get the turnovers! And because of that, Baltimore is going to the AFC championship game. Oh, and Joe Flacco is no longer a rookie. He is now very impressive.

New York Giants - Philadelphia: Last year, the Giants managed to win the Super Bowl by being pretty much under the radar all season long and then the entire playoffs. No such luck this year, when they are of course the team to beat. I don't know how big a loss it was when the Eagles fell to the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. It was bad, sure, with Philly fighting for their playoff lives, but they redeemed themselves by hammering the Cowboys in a game that may not be that significant either. The game I think is significant for the Eagles regular season was their victory, in New York, over the Giants, in week 14. The Eagles had played New York really, really tough in a home loss in Week 10, and they evened the score. I think they have the Giants number, I really do. With Westbrook and McNabb playing at the level they are, I think the Eagles will upset the Giants. New York is currently favoured by four.

Eagles, 23-11. The Eagles defense is awfully good. And even when Michael Westbrook, perhaps the greatest offensive weapon in football, was held in check, Philadelphia still looked awfully good. There will be a new Super Bowl champion this year, and it could well be Philadelphia. Who would have thought they'd be going up against Arizona, though?

Pittsburgh - San Diego: The Steelers are favoured by six here. Their best offensive player, Ben Roethlisberger, is still a bit of a question mark after his concussion in the final game of the regular season. Then again, the Chargers best offensive player, Ladanian Tomlinson, is pretty much out. He didn't play after the five-minute mark of their wild-card win over the Colts. Which allowed Darren Sproles to have an absolutely monster game. I will admit, I was a bit stunned that the Chargers beat the Colts and MVP Peyton Manning. I thought that Indianapolis was the best team in the AFC going into the playoffs. They were not. After the Colts, however, I would not be surprised if the Chargers manage to win against any other team. And that includes the Steelers. The Pittsburgh defense will not allow Sproles to run wild like the Colts did, and their special teams will be better as well. I think the Steelers will squeak by the Chargers, barely, as San Diego covers the spread.

Pittsburgh, 35-24. The Pittsburgh special teams are, indeed, better than those of the Colts. And so is the rest of their team. The Steelers defense is great, their offense is doing a good enough job to keep going, and Willie Parker really put the team on his shoulders at moments during the fourth quarter. With all other home teams losing this weekend, Pittsburgh has to be considered the Super Bowl favourite.

I went 2-2 straight up this week, which makes me 4-4 on the playoffs. I also went 2-2 against the spread, making me 3-5 ATS on the playoffs. I haven't been doing so good!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today's BRN.

The famed London Astoria is closing down, and they want the Who to play the final show at the venue. Which is great, but they make a real point of saying they want someone cool to play, and not one of those "TV pop star" groups or people. No Britney, they say! I believe this may be just their way of saying "we once had S Club 7 performing here. And we're sorry."

John Lennon once rejected a medal from the Queen, making him a Member of the British Empire. These medals, I think, are much like our own Order of Canada medals. He received his (along with the rest of that band he was in) in 1965, and returned it in 1969. He figured it was a symbol of him having "sold out to the man". A quaint notion these days, where big-time musicians can no longer sell out, at all, since by their very nature they start out as sellouts. Only the old guard can still sell out. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young. They are pretty much the only ones left. Oh, someone found that medal in some trunk in Buckingham Palace. Or something. That's the story.

Robert Plant is the greatest Rock Singer Ever, according to a poll by Some Organization Out There. More polls, more lists, more news...I could have one of these stories on Breaking Rock News every day, because there is a new poll and a new list every day. I put this story up only because Paul Rodgers was a surprise #3, and because Axl Rose was #7, and because Neil Young was shockingly left off the list.

Tommy Lee enjoys the naked. Who doesn't? He has a rule that states no one can get into his dressing room at shows unless they remove one article of clothing. They must be either topless or bottomless to gain entry to the room. All of which is fine, but is this really news? Tommy Lee likes boobies? This ranks up there with The Pope Is Catholic and Pierre Polievre Is A Douche as the most obvious headlines of all time. I once had a policy similar to this one. No one was allowed into my apartment with pants on. I was so lonely...

The top tours in the world in 2008 were Bon Jovie and Springsteen. The top North American tours are...Bon Jovi and Springsteen. And the Eagles and the Police. The website that provided me with this gem is a respected classic-rock only website. And therefore it didn't tell me which act was #1. The Eagles were the top one at #3. I could have searched and searched to find the numbers they were quoting. In fact, I could have done so easily. I am going to guess the number one and two acts are Celine Dion and Madonna. And I refuse to look that up, because it will make me cry.

Gene Simmons is going to provide his own voice to...himself...in a Nickelodeon cartoon where he will be a cartoon stop-motion Gene Simmons. Only Gene Simmons could have a cartoon stop-motion version of himself where he could earn extra money by voicing it. This one - no joke - is a cartoon about a dentist and his family who travel around America in a motor home. That reminds me - did MC Hammer voice himself on that MC Hammer cartoon from my youth? And were the Pro-Stars actually voiced by the Pro-Stars? These are the things I think about while I type other things.

Lou Reed has recorded a couple of live albums with a trio called the Metal Machine Trio. The albums, modestly named "The Creation Of The Universe", are instrumental. Although I love what Reed did with his album Metal Machine Music, I think perhaps naming a trio after that album may not be the best idea. That album, you see, although it is awesome, is unlistenable. It is four tracks, about 20 minutes each, of guitar feedback. And that's about it. Now, one would likely not form a trio in order to crank up some three-way guitar feedback, but it's Lou Reed. Who knows. But it isn't a great place to start with the name, even if you are offering it for download for eight bucks. Oh, put Reed on that list of those who have yet to sell out too. Here is the place to get those 8-dollar downloads:

http://app.topspin.net/artist/217709/landing_stf?account_id=217709&campaign_id=9030&key=2c10d558e8705dc1ad4fa428c9ae73ba7b326064

If anyone does indeed download these, let me know if they're cool. I can't because I have no credit card. Also, I'm scared.

Jerry Garcia's estate is being sued by Merl Saunders' estate. Saunders, a keyboard player, was a frequent Grateful Dead collaborator, and in 2004, the Garcia estate put out a Garcia-Saunders live album they discovered, apparently without consulting the Saunders estate. I guess the Saunders folk just discovered it now, four years later? And it has sold well enough that they feel comfortable suing for $100,000? That is all plausible. Also plausible, if one considers heaven to be plausible, is the idea that Garcia and Saunders are, right now, arm-in-arm, looking down and going "haha. Estates."

Robert Plant has been named (by the Queen) a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. I don't know if this is a higher or lower or equal or different honour than the Member of the British Empire award that was bestowed upon John Lennon in 1969. I doubt Plant is planning to return his medal, should he get one. But let's go ahead and add him to the list of enduring rock stars who have yet to sell out anyway. (Jimmy Page, on the other hand, has indeed sold out. Remember that remix of "Kashmir" from the Godzilla soundtrack with P. Diddy, who at the time was named Puff Daddy? Or Puffy? Or Puff the Magic Combs? Or what have you? Sell OUT.)

Okay. I looked it up. It is the same thing as the Order of the British Empire. But more prestigious and cool. And it is also the same thing as a knighthood, but a little lower down the rungs of power. Sir Paul McCartney, still more important to the Queen than Commander Robert Plant. Even though Sir Paul has sold out.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Was that the greatest junior hockey game ever?

I'm talking about the Russia-Canada semi-final game yesterday. And actually, I don't really know myself. I'm really asking. Because I missed the game. I was helping a buddy move. My friend Xavier, you see, moved back to Ottawa, and he needed help unloading his truck. And I said, a long time ago, that I would be glad to help. Not realizing that on Saturday night, there were maybe better things to do. Like watching two NFL playoff games, and a World Junior semi-final for the ages. There were others supposed to help out - but many of them ended up with hockey tickets. Wish I'd thought of that. Xavier was supposed to be in Ottawa by about 5:00. So Darryl and I figured that we would miss the first NFL playoff game, but that's it. And that was fine. We'd be able to catch the hockey game, and Sens-Leafs, and the second NFL game, which was much more interesting to both of us.

Then Xavier got held up at the border. Not quite cavity-searched, but pretty close. I told him it was because he had grown a terrorist beard, but he was in no laughing mood by the time he got to Ottawa. They had a trailer attached to their U-Haul van, with their car on top of it. When they got to the border, the guards asked to see the papers for the car! The papers! Like...they were smuggling a PT Cruiser across the border under the guise of moving? I don't get it. Of course, those papers were buried in a box which was buried deep within the truck which contained all the items that comprised Xavier and Verna's entire lives. So they had to unload their entire truck at the border. And once they found the papers, and those were quickly verified, they had to pack up the entire truck again. What kind of border guards do this? OK, unpack my truck looking for drugs. Fine, search through my stuff. But asking for the papers for the car, knowing full well they are in the most difficult location imaginable? Is this just their way of getting someone else to unload all that crap FOR them, and load it all back up again FOR them? Is suspect it is.

So anyway, Xav and Verna didn't get to Ottawa until about 7:30. We'd now managed to see the whole first football game (not me though - I got stuck in some kind of Queensway shutdown at Eagleson for about an hour, and missed the first half before I got to Darryl's place). In the end, we were done at about 9:45 and I gave Darryl a ride home, getting him there with about 24 seconds left in the third period, just in time to catch the goal that tied the game with 5 seconds left. I went home, thinking there was a break before the OT. But there wasn't. And I got in my door just in time to catch the shootout. So I'm asking - was that the greatest junior hockey game ever? And as such, should I be especially sour at having missed it? And should I make Xavier and Verna buy Darryl and me extra beer for our help with the move?