Thursday, November 19, 2009

Man up, Stephen Harper!

It occurred to me, watching FOX "News" as I tend to do for a laugh, that the right-wing nutters are right. Barack Obama bowed to the Japanese emperor. He bowed! Like, in submission! He may as well have begged the man for the opportunity to lick his toes and fetch his newspaper! That is not the American way. A real American does not greet foreign heads of state in the manner to which they are accustomed! Had John Wayne met the Japanese emperor, he would have shaken the man's had hard enough to crush most of his small bones. Clint Eastwood would have punched him square in the belly. George W. Bush would have held hands with the man, or given him a creepy back rub. What's the matter with the President?

Then something else crossed my mind - here is a golden opportunity for Stephen Harper! If the American President is going to be the sycophant of the world, why can't Canada become the tough guy? Stephen Harper is doing a decent job already - check out the photo of him in India - he's wearing the traditional head garb, but his smarmy look says "I think I look stupid". That's a good start. But perhaps, before he leaves, he could say goodbye to Pratibha Patil with a traditional Canadian head-butt. Next time he's in China - purple nurple! In France - wedgie! In Italy - noogie! (Who wouldn't want to give that loveable Berlusconi a noogie?) And the next time he meets that spineless supplicant weakling Obama, he should kick him square in the nuts. Goodness knows, Obama would just take it, being the lily-livered yellow-belly he so obviously is!

And, as I understand the logic, this would solve all of our problems. Canada would become the Toughest Country In The World. All other countries would see us as The Godfather, and they would pay us tribute, thus eliminating our national debt. The Taliban, seeing how tough we were (after all, our whole country kicked the entire United States in the nuts!), would pack up their weapons and admit defeat in Afghanistan, thereby solving our war problems. Stephen Harper, it's time to man up! You'd be stupid not to do this!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A baby seal walks into a club...

And by that I mean, the exclusive club that is the Parliamentary restaurant, now serving seal meat along with their standard menu favourites of of caribou burgers and puffin bacon and condor eggs. Now, I understand the need to make blanket statements on Parliament Hill. I understand that the only way to make it clear that all parliamentarians are in favour of the seal hunt is with this grand gesture of menu management. But why stop there? Why don't they make it clear that all parliamentarians believe global warming is a hoax by serving polar bear?

I have eaten seal. It tastes bad. So there is no real reason to bring it here other than some kind of political statement, right? I mean, I understand the logic behind our Governor General eating seal with the Inuit people up north. They hunt the seals, they kill the seals, they eat the seals. That is their culture. But perhaps I'm off base. Maybe these seals have been killed solely for sustenance. Maybe Stephen Harper is in danger of going without food over the long winter if seal meat is not provided. And maybe he has been secretly visiting ice floes and clubbing the seals himself, to ensure a ready supply on the hill for those days when he is peckish and wants a seal club sandwich.

Wait - that doesn't make sense either. Stephen Harper doing something secretly? Impossible. Had he really been out culling seals, we would all have been treated to pictures for weeks, as that would have been a tremendous photo-op.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NFL picks week 11

I am now 97-47 straight up, and 82-61-1 against the spread. Stupid Broncos. Back to 16-game weeks now and remember, Thursday night games now!

Miami at Carolina (3.5): The poor Dolphins have managed to run into every good team in the league this year, right when that team was getting good. The Fish are a pretty solid football team, and given an easier schedule they could be 6-3 right now. But they didn't have an easier schedule. They had this one. And they will be 4-6 after this game in Carolina, where the Panthers once again look unbeatable. It may be too late for Carolina, but they will cause some serious problems for good teams from here on in. Panthers, 27-20. Verdict (Dolphins, 24-17). Hmm. Without Ronnie Brown and all that he brings to the wildcat, Chad Henne and Ricky Williams were more than enough to shut down the Panthers, who looked great on their first two offensive drives, and pretty bad from that point on. Until late in the fourth, when it was too late. I would say look for the Fish to do damage from here on in, but look at their schedule for the rest of the season - Bills (win), Patriots (no), Jaguars (maybe), Titans (no), Texans (maybe), Steelers (no). Panthers' remaining schedule might even be worse. Both these teams will finish out of the playoffs.

Indianapolis at Baltimore (1): Do you think that there will be a letdown after that Sunday night dramatic win? Or now that the Colts have all but wrapped up home field advantage in Week Ten? I doubt it. I think this team will get to 12-0 before really being tested. Colts, 26-21. Verdict (Colts, 17-15). I shouldn't have phrased it that way - the Ravens really did test the Colts - their defense. And with the big INT at the end of the game, they came through. The Ravens are still very good. But they can't finish against a great team. Yet.

Washington at Dallas (12.5): Both these teams surprised me this week. The Redskins by showing up, and the Cowboys by NOT showing up. The Cowboys are starting to slip, as they always do later in the season, but Tony Romo just lost his first ever November game, to Green Bay. He won't do it in back-to-back weeks, not at home. Skins are 0-4 on the road, 0-2 in their division. Cowboys, 23-17. Verdict (Cowboys, 7-6). Two weeks in a row, no points for the Cowboys in the first half. This week, they waited until there were like 2 minutes left to score their first points. Thankfully for them, they were playing the Skins, and the one score was enough to win. Remember earlier this year when the Skins just, just barely beat the Rams, and we all realized there was something terribly wrong with them? Same goes for Dallas just, just barely beating Washington. Something is seriously wrong with this team.

Cleveland at Detroit (4.5): The Super Bowl of crap. Imagine - Detroit with a TWO win season! That is, statistically, infinitely better than last season. Lions, 9-6. Verdict (Lions, 38-37). Are you kidding me? THIS was the most exciting and awesome game of the entire season? I couldn't have been more wrong - I called 12 points, total. There were 12 total points by the 40 second mark in this one. Wha-happened? By the way - the Browns scored 32 percent of all the points they have this season in this game. And they still lost.

San Francisco at Green Bay (5.5): The Niners may have beaten Green Bay's division rival Bears this week, but truthfully they looked awful doing it. And the Packers looked amazing against the Cowboys. Packers, 31-21. Verdict (Packers, 30-24). Just barely covered the spread. Aaron Rodgers looked amazing and apparently got enough protection for once. But that defense let the Niners back into it late - a concern.

Buffalo at Jacksonville (8): Jacksonville and Maurice Jones-Drew had their way with the Jets. The Jets are better than the Bills. The Jaguars will have their way with the Bills. but who cares? Jaguars, 27-20. Verdict (Jaguars, 18-15). They made it a nail-biter, didn't they? The Bills held MJD to 66 yards on the ground. Terrell Owens finally broke out with a 200-yard game! And they STILL lost! The Bills suck.

Pittsburgh (10) at Kansas City: Having lost both their games to the Bengals now, the Steelers must pretty much win out to take their division. They will not let up on a weaksauce opponent like KC. Steelers, 33-17. Verdict (Chiefs, 27-24). On the plus side, you didn't lose any ground in your pool - nobody else picked this outcome either.

Seattle at Minnesota (11): The Seahawks are coming on a little of late, but if they can't beat the Cardinals given the opportunity (and they certainly were), how can they hope to compete against the Vikes? Vikings, 35-13. Verdict (Vikings, 35-9). I am so close to exactly right, that it's tantalizing. The Vikings could be the best team in football.

Atlanta at New York Giants (no line): One of the most intriguing matchups of the week. Both teams are watching their division slip away. Both are 5-4, and their seasons could go either way from here. I would even go so far as to say the winner of this game is the team I think will win one of the wild cards this season. And that winner will be...the Giants, who HAVE to turn it around sometime. Giants, 21-20. Verdict (Giants, 34-31). If the Giants can build on this win, they still have a very very good chance at their division.

New Orleans (12.5) at Tampa Bay: Why even analyze? Saints, 44-7. Verdict (Saints, 38-7). Why even analyze indeed!

Arizona (9.5) at St. Louis: The Rams probably feel decent this week, having finally won a game then played the Saints so tough. But Arizona is looking elite at the moment. Cardinals, 23-10. Verdict (Cardinals, 21-13). The Cardinals had a tougher time than they ought to have had with the Rams. Then again, most teams have had a tougher time than expected against St. Louis of late. Gotta love Stephen Jackson!

San Diego at Denver (no line): Here is the moment the season ends for the Broncos. They started 6-0, but they will finish out of the playoffs. You heard it here first. San Diego will win this division easily, thanks to their victory this weekend. Chargers, 30-24. Verdict (Chargers, 32-3). The Chargers have won five in a row, the Broncos have lost four in a row. And they got absolutely hammered in this one, in every facet of the game. Call it now - this division is OVER.

Cincinnati (9.5) at Oakland: The Raiders lost to the CHIEFS. 'Nuff said. Bengals, 36-16. Verdict (Raiders, 20-17). Again, the plus side - nobody else in your pool will have picked this one either. Always take Oakland to cover against good teams and NOT cover against bad ones.

New York Jets at New England (11): The Patriots are just way, way too powerful for the Jets. This game hinges on their response to that last-second defeat at Indy. If the defense is mad at Belicheck, they could lose. If, on the other hand, they are just generally pissed off, they will crush the Jets. Patriots, 27-13. Verdict (Patriots, 31-14). Yeah, they crushed 'em. This New England team doesn't get fazed by anything, and they are still (maybe) the most dangerous team in football. The Jets are done.

Philadelphia (2.5) at Chicago: The Bears looked like the worst team in football against the Niners last Thursday. And they have had an extra-long week to think about it. The Eagles need to start winning now, and stop licking their wounds and looking stunned. Eagles, 27-23. Verdict (Eagles, 24-20). There are still problems in Philly - the Bears aren't this good. This team is really, really missing Westbrook. Perhaps Michael Vick would make a good option out of the backfield at this point? He looked pretty good on that 35-yard run...

Tennessee at Houston (3.5): This is, actually, the toughest game for me to call. In Tennessee, I would pick the Titans in a heartbeat. I just don't know about Houston. I won't know about them all season, frankly. They could be the best team in football one week, and get beaten by Cleveland the next. Well...maybe not Cleveland. I think that coming off the bye, Houston will show rust, and the Titans momentum will carry them through. But only just. Titans, 21-20. Verdict (Titans, 23-20). Yep. Only just. The Texans didn't really show a lot of rust, coming out firing early. But the Titans are just plain winning with Vince Young at the helm.

I am 13-3 straight up this week (110-50 overall), and 12-4 against the spread (94-65-1 overall).

What I did on my Autumn vacation Part Five

Obviously, I didn't blog on my vacation. I can tell, because I have written five posts today. Doc's sick after his vacation, so I'm at his computer and I have lots of time. A few last things about my time off, which was really just work without getting up early.

I bought a cookbook for the first time in my life. It's a cookbook all about barbecuing and grilling. It was a little bit useful, but then it goes off the rails halfway through. There is a section on grilling s'mores. It says to put a marshmallow on a skewer, and roast it over the barbecue. Then make a s'more. I'm never buying a cookbook again.

I somehow got into tutoring some kids, to make a little extra money before Christmas. I tutored a nice young girl in Grade Eleven physics (they have physics in grade 11 now!) one Sunday morning. Her father, (my friend Mike) left the house to go grocery shopping while I was there. Only later did it occur to me to be offended. Five years ago, no one would ever have left me alone in their house with their daughter! Now I feel old. And safe. And a little bit lame.

My sister is back living with me for the time being, as she does her teaching placement at Alta Vista school. One of the teachers with whom she works has asked me to come in to talk to the kids about radio and so forth. Which is cool, I have done that many times before at many other schools. I go in, I talk to one class at a time and ask them questions and they ask me questions and I give away some stuff and make jokes and it's all very informal. But I just got an email as I came off vacation saying they had booked the auditorium for me, and did I need power-point equipment, or something called a smart board for my presentation? I think I may be in over my head this time...

What I did on my Autumn vacation Part Four

On Saturday night, I hosted a benefit gala for Operation Come Home. It was a really good time - a 60s-themed event that featured Pierre Belanger, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, dressing up in Ringo's suit from the Sgt. Pepper album cover. For a guy who complains about having to speak in public and worries about his speech, Pierre sucks it up and performs. Love it! Also performing were Gamut, a local band who were just terrific - I asked them to play, and they insisted upon doing the event for free, just to support the charity. They were great, but it was the NAC. Which meant that every twenty minutes, someone from the NAC came into the room to ask them to turn down their music. By the end of the evening, they were barely miked at all. I guess their sound was bleeding a tiny bit into the main hall where some other band was playing.

Great bunch of guys in Gamut - aside from doing cover tunes at shows like this one, they also do an Alice Cooper tribute show called mAlice & Monsters - their next show is this coming Friday at the James Street Pub. You can check out their website here.

There were a few speeches from some of the clients of Operation Come Home. Kids who have been helped by the organization in the past, and kids who are in some of their programs now. Simon, Miranda and Nicole did a great job and really highlighted why OCH is so important in this community.

The night wasn't all good, however. You see, there were two silent auction tables filled with all kinds of goodies. And my wife decided to bid on a few items. Which was fine - there was some incredible beaded jewelry done by the OCH kids in their Beadworks program that Jen wanted. And she got it. And that was great. But there was also a big pink box of Britney Spears perfume that she bid on. And although I begged the crowd to outbid my wife on this item, they did not. And we went home with a big pink box of Britney Spears perfume. Which doesn't smell like I thought it would. I thought it would smell like stripper, or like fake tan and dog food and the inside of a sweatsock. But it's actually quite nice. I just don't want it in my house, on principle.

One more great thing about the gala - I was talking to city councillor George Bedard about the 24 Hours of Homelessness event we do every year, where we sleep outside for 24 hours in January to raise awareness of the plight of kids living on the streets. And he said he would love to be a part of that event, and join us this coming January! So I'm putting it in writing right now, Mr. Bedard. I WILL be calling you early in the new year to confirm your participation!

What I did on my Autumn vacation Part Three

A few times during my time off, I had to go to work anyway. (I had twelve events in my 14 days off, so really "vacation" for me means not getting up at 2:00 in the morning.) I went off to sell leather, and home renovation tax credits, and football at Tail Gators and so forth. And twice I had to come into the office to add my voice to commercials for those events. Being a little sour at having to drive such a long way for what proved to be twenty seconds of actual work, I took a rather abrasive tone for my Tail Gators commercial. I suggested that no one would be able to beat me at poker. That was a safe bet, I figured - in a WPT tournament populated with giant poker nerds, I had finished seventh in the first event and fifth in the second. I figured I would finish third and then first. Right? Makes sense to me.

When I walked into Tail Gators on Sunday, I was met with many irritated faces, and several people who took exception to me personally. Partly because I had been so aggressively pompous in my commercial, and partly because the poker tournament had been moved to 2:00. And I had been advertising 4:00 for two weeks now. I tried to explain that had someone told me the time of the tournament had been changed, I would likely have adjusted accordingly. And I apologized profusely for not having been informed. But I stood by my tough talk. I WAS going to win this tournament, even though I was starting an hour late. I was dealt in, and had the low chip stack at my table, but right away, on the first hand, I was dealt two aces. Some sucker beside me went all in. Some other sucker on my other side went all in. And I of course followed suit. (No pun intended.) And I lost. First hand of the game. I was out. So I sat and watched football and ate chicken wings and drank beer and gave a way a ton of shirts and hats and DVDs for the rest of the afternoon.

At least the Packers won!

What I did on my Autumn vacation Part Two

On Hallowe'en night, I hosted a benefit for the Ottawa Humane Society dressed as a Teletubby. (I have the costume, may as well make use of it!) Les Emerson and the Hitmen played, which was a big draw, but not quite big enough to fill up the Ukranian Hall on Byron. There were a bunch of door prizes, some of which were hot air balloon rides and hotel stays, some of which were cat food. I met a lovely young lady from the Humane Society, who took several pictures (including one of a charming older lady wearing my teletubby head). But in the intervening two weeks, having been on vacation and having left parts of my brain behind here and there, I have forgotten her name and lost her business card. So I won't be posting those pictures. But a good time was had by all, I think. All of the fifty or so people who were there.

What I did on my autumn vacation...Part One

I was pretty worried when, on Day One of my two-week vacation, I came home to find one of our walls painted. There was a ladder in the house, and paint cans and paint rollers and tape and drop cloths and so on. My first thought was, of course, that since I had two weeks off work, my wife had found something time-consuming for me to do. This turned out not to be the case, however, and I was much relieved. This was her project, and hers alone, and she didn't trust me to do any of this myself. So I installed a towel rack (which is about the extent of my handyman ability), raked some leaves, and got snow tires put on the cars. And my around-the-house job was done.

Then on Saturday morning I went to Home Depot for a live commercial where I was trying to convince people to come in for a seminar on the Home Renovation Tax Credit. And I started kicking myself - we (or, rather, my wife) had started a whole series of home renovations, and we hadn't kept any receipts and had no idea how much we'd spent. Then I discovered that the credit applies only to home renovations that cost more than $1,000. And even then, it's a tax credit that's really worth your while when you approach ten grand in home repairs. I think we may have spent $78. No tax credit for us.

Just a thought - the Home Reno Tax Credit (HRTC) is applied to the 2009 tax return. You have until February 1st of 2010 to spend your money in order to be eligible for this one-time tax credit. The idea, I guess, is that it's a way of stimulating the economy through more people purchasing more things. Which is fine. But it still hasn't passed in the House of Commons. And although every party has said that they will keep the HRTC intact, they're still asking people to do these projects on faith. Assuming that the thing will pass before it's too late, and assuming that the repairs and renovations they are doing now will be covered. I'm sure it will all work out in the end...but to ask people to do something this big now, where they have to get it done before they even know for sure whether they can claim the tax rebate, requires a pretty big leap of faith.