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Sunday, November 6, 2011

medicate


don't sleep now
with the weight of day
hanging heavy in veins
on a tuesday noon

look but don't see
smell but don't touch
smile but don't laugh
they call it success

… what's that?
i lost it

the moment
has
passed … 

the sunlight divides you
from those early thoughts
to the next grey cloud
just past your view

just open the bottle
the next sure thing
hinging on hope
didn't work for you

remember that time
laying bare in the grass?

a lifetime is asking
for you to return

Monday, September 5, 2011

Is social media making us less social?

For millions of years, humans and their descendants have adapted to their environment to thrive. 


But now we're creating our own environment, and developing ways to communicate beyond natural means. 


That of course includes the internet, and more specifically, social media. 


Those born today know how to handle an iPhone by a year old. They expect to press a button and have wonderful things happen. 


The young never knew a time when landlines, handwritten letters and direct talking were the only ways to communicate. 


Now we can select who we talk to in a make-believe world of electronic impressions. We can reveal as much about ourselves as we want to, select who can contact us, and filter out any negative information.


Online dating has become an increasingly accepted form of finding a mate, replacing the old-fashioned 'pick-up'. Those who are succeeding in this new form of  seeking a partner are not necessarily alpha males or females, but the ones who have figured out how to make the best of electronic communication. 


Will nature adapt to our increasing need for information and decreasing attention span? 


Of course, that's impossible for one to know for sure. But I'm envisioning children of the future with limited vocal capacity and thinner fingers (for easier texting). 


OK, that might be a bit far-fetched. 


But what is sure is that if you put four teenagers together at a table today, more often than not they will text their other friends or surf the net. Our ability (older generations included) to hold an actual conversation might be fading. 


Once the baby boomers who never knew computers are gone, this trend may only grow stronger. In two or three generations, it will be even easier to share thoughts without effort. 


Maybe now is a good time to start a conversation about the future of conversation.


Thoughts?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Wedding Files: Part II



I think I might have the solution to the world's economic problems.

(Wait for it… wait for it…)

OK, now.

Everyone should get married.

WHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

Here's why.

First there's the suits (ka-ching). And the dresses (ka-CHING). The shoes, the ties.

OH, oops… and the rings. How did I not put rings first?

Engagement rings are one thing. (I personally can't complain, since I proposed with an heirloom ring. Probably why I didn't list it first. But then, I can't complain about the suit either.)

You'll of course need wedding bands. Marketing genius dating back to medieval times, I'm guessing.

And then there's the venue(s). The food. The photographer (so someone can take photos of the food and the people eating it.) the DJ. The booze. The parting gifts.

Don't forget the invitations, and the subsequent thank you cards. Lord knows Canada Post can use all this business.

Oh, you also have to buy a 'wedding license'. What does this prove? Nothing. It's a Provincial tax of $140. You go to city/town hall and fork over cash, and they give you a piece of paper that basically says 'thanks for telling us'.

Then the honeymoon (again I can't complain, thanks family). The struggling U.S. will get a tiny boost from our visit to their west coast (can't wait, California.) But 100 million tourist visits, now we're talking.

Imagine all the Americans honeymooning in Banff. Canadians honeymooning in California. Belgians honeymooning in Taipei. Taiwanese honeymooning in Switzerland. And so on. Money flowing all around. A win-win-win-win, etc.

My wedding is now less than a month away, and I count my blessings that my family and family-in-law is helping to ensure it all goes well. I'm very grateful, don't get me wrong. Please don't confuse my dryness with contempt.

I am a lucky man.

But seriously. Think of it. One big year of weddings… world-wide. Weddings of all sizes – your grand 'look-at-me' events with 500 guests, your small-time, small-budget nuptials in a poorly lit room with seven people.

So all you people on the fence, all you people who are holding out for whatever reason… just do it. It's only as painful as, say, ripping off a Band-Aid. Yes, I capitalized Band-Aid. It's a name brand.

And when you do get married – children. Most likely. Right?

I don't have to start to list all the costs there, right from the get-go to the age of say… 32.

Ka-ching, taxes. Birth certificates. Cell phones. Cars. University. WEDDINGS. ka-CHING.

OK, so back to my point. Everyone, get married. Commitment ain't so bad. Good for the economy, and maybe people will get along more in the world.

Even if we're all poor after it's all said and done.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Time to Unplug

It's time to pull the plug.

(That is, after you read this blog post.)

When was the last time you unplugged? Oh, sure, you say you're relaxing. You say you have no worries. Yet there you are, checking your phones as if important news is coming any second.

The fact is, we've forgotten how to chill out.

Information coming at us from all sides: Internet, TV, ads, radio, everywhere. Every one of them trying its hardest to win our attention. (It seems for now, the Internet has won. Or you wouldn't be reading this, and I wouldn't have written this.)

I'm not pointing fingers. We're all guilty of trying to take in too much information. Our attention span has dwindled as our thirst for gratification has increased.

We're not giving our minds a chance to recharge. There's always something we have to do, somewhere we have to be, someone we need to contact.  There's no space in between anymore.

Pause.

Take a deep breath. Take several.

Look away from the screen and/or mobile device.

Turn off the TV.

Close your eyes for a few minutes. Or hours.

Just be.




…. and be sure to read my next blog post. Coming this August. Sponsored by Creemore and Apple.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I'm cheering for Vancouver

First off, let me just say that I'd love to be cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup finals this year.

But I can't.

OK, that's out of the way.

So, let me explain why I'm cheering for Vancouver, while so many others in Canada apparently aren't for whatever reasons.

First there's the simple logic: there are two teams left. One is based in the U.S. and the other is based in Canada. I am supporting the Canadian team. Call me crazy and patriotic.

Now let's rewind a year and a bit to the 2010 Winter Games. Remember how the country united while watching athletes from all over Canada kick butt. Remember how we all cheered for every save Roberto Luongo made toward our gold win in hockey (how soon we forget).

OK, so this was a national team in the Olympics, you say. True enough. But the players on Vancouver are also from all over the country, including some from the GTA: Raffi Torres is from Toronto and Manny Malhotra (who made an amazing comeback from an eye injury to play in the finals) is from Mississauga. There are others from the GTA on Vancouver's roster.

Also let me say that by cheering for Vancouver, it doesn't mean I'm not 'loyal' to Toronto. I have said it before and I will say it again, if Toronto gives me a reason to cheer for them (i.e. make the playoffs), I will jump back on that bandwagon so hard the wheels will fall off.

By cheering for Vancouver (as the Canadian team), it doesn't mean I don't like American teams. I loved Dallas in their prime (Mike Modano was awesome) and I was very happy for Chicago last year. I also really enjoyed the Ray Bourque years of Boston; I was thrilled when Bourque finally hoisted a cup after being traded to Colorado.

Oh, and let's not forget how torn I was when the Gretzky-led Kings defeated a very strong Leafs squad in 1993.

So anyways, I will probably take some flack for this, but I'm really not sure why. Liking a team doesn't mean I dislike you or your team of choice. I just like mine better.

Go Vancouver. Go CANADA.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

i lost my head

i lost my head that day
the things you said went right through
and i fell, laughing to myself
as the sunlight kissed my shoulders

i lost my head that day
where are all the memories?
spinning backwards from this moment
i lost my point of view

i lost my head that day
laying gently on the air
carry me through another doubt
and wake me in the morning

Thursday, May 26, 2011

underground



strangers stuck together
by common circumstance

riding post-haze apathy
along the squealing rails

water drips apologies
on spit-shined shoes

all the while waiting
for a quick way out

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Being cool is easy in 2011

It's way easier for young people to be cool in 2011 than in 1981. 

One big reason?

The INTERNET. 

Those with basic breathing function and social networking savvy have way more 'friends' than any kid in 1986. 

Loners, who would be bullied and teased in the 'old days', now have a forum. During what other era could one sit alone in a dark room, unwashed and clad only in pyjama bottoms, and gain hundreds of followers (a few great writers throughout history aside)?

In 1986, you were very lucky to get your 15 minutes of fame. Now, if you have a special talent, like, say, chugging beer through your nose, or belching the national anthem, you can just upload a video and have more friends than you can handle overnight. 

And dating? Well… 

In the 1980s, you had to be smooth enough to 'get a number' (whatever that means). 

Now, all you have to do is find out a name, stalk them, and hope they accept your friend request. Or you can hit the dating sites. Feel like you're looking too old to be on dating sites? No worries, just upload a photo from 1981. 

Then just sit back and work your cyber charm. And don't worry, meeting in person won't be so bad. The person on the other end likely exaggerated some of their attributes too. 

The internet aside -- 

In 1981, smoking was considered way cool. In 2011, you stick out like a sore thumb if you smoke, and nobody wants you in their building.

Guys wearing clean, pressed, colour-coordinated outfits and thick-rimmed glasses in 1981 would be sneered at by some. Now they're hip and fashionable.  

in 1981, you were cool if you drove a big dirty car and floored it around town in second gear. Now you're considered cool if you drive a compact at the speed limit to respect the environment. 

In 1981, you were respected if you could do stunts on your BMX. Now, you're the man if you know the correct button combination to do video game stunts. 

… That all being said, I'm still working on being cool. 

Until I am, I'll just be sitting here in my pyjama bottoms.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Top reasons the world can't end today

All this talk about the Rapture... don't worry folks! It just can't happen today.

Why?

The Leafs haven't won another Stanley Cup yet (that event will likely trigger the Rapture)

Oprah's final show hasn't aired yet. You don't want a bunch of pissed of mom ghosts up there. 

The Mayan calendar clearly gives us another year (and a half) to live. 

There's still a bunch of restaurants (I mean bars) in Toronto i haven't tried yet. 

I saw Jesus a couple of days ago on Yonge Street, and he looked pretty content. 

Due to overcrowding in heaven, there's not enough room for all believers until the expansion is completed in 2012. 

There already is hell on earth.


And on a personal note... we already have non-refundable deposits down on wedding stuff. 



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bringing sexy back (to the election)


Sex sells.

So, it would make sense to try and make this federal election a bit sexier to boost voter turnout.

Here's some sexy-ish phrases the candidates could consider for their literature/and or websites:

> I'll stand behind you if you stand behind me.  

> I'm hoping voters give me the tools I need to go the distance.

> Why not stuff your ballot in my box?

> Hey there, what's your (lawn) sign?

> A strong election requires voters to think long and hard.

And the winner...

Choosing me for your riding puts you on top.

OK OK ... sorry. That's enough of that. But seriously, if you haven't voted, please do so May 2. Because democracy is sexy, baby!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Food for Thought

I've read a lot of 'top 5' or 'top 10' restaurants in Toronto guides, and a lot of them make me frown.

But what is a restaurant guide, if not just a fancy opinion column with pretty pictures of food? So I thought I would offer up my thoughts since I seem to find myself in a lot of restaurants throughout the city.

 This is not a 'top 5 cocktails' or 'top 5 pizzas' type of thing, it's just a shortlist of restaurants that have impressed me and deserve a try (in my opinion).

THE HOTHOUSE CAFE 
35 Church St. (at Front)

OK, so I've been going to the HH Cafe for about half my life, and would like to think I have earned getting good service there. But the truth is, I've always received good service there, except maybe once or twice (not bad if you consider that I've been there probably an average of 20-30 times a year over the last 16-17 years).  The flatbread pizzas are awesome, the pasta and jambalaya are great, mussels are yummy, prices are very reasonable, servers are smiley and efficient (and they know who I am!). Not to mention the patio is large and in a great location for people watching. My fave spot to eat in the city, probably always will be.


LITTLEFISH 
3080 Dundas St. W. (at Quebec Ave.)

Littefish is a charming brunch spot in the Junction. The scrambled eggs, heuvos, sausage and pancakes are to die for, the coffee is always fresh, and there are homemade cakes and treats as well. The service is very friendly and personal; the only drawback is sometimes waiting for a table, although it's well worth the wait. Oh yeah, and my partner says the bathroom is immaculate, so points for that!

SIDECAR BAR AND GRILL 
577 College St. (at Manning Ave.)

Talk about a high-class dining experience without a high-class price tag! The Sunday-through-Wednesday prix fixe menu (including appetizer, main and dessert) is easily worth the cash ($25 as of April 18, 2011), but there are lots more to feast on including ricotta gnocchi and braised oxtail. Sidecar has quite the extensive wine list. Service and atmosphere are great.

MITZI'S SISTER 
1554 Queen St. W. (at Dowling Ave.)

Mitzi's is a fun spot with a menu that covers off (weekend) brunch to dinner in fine fashion. The blackened haddock (and chili lime chicken) tacos are yummy, as are the black bean burritos and burgers. But what's best about the place is the atmosphere; it's in a great spot, the back patio is awesome, the bar selections are plentiful, the staff is friendly and chatty, and the place always seems fun (even not during the evenings when live entertainment takes over). My last visit there recently had a band featuring a bagpipe; a bit loud, but sounded great from the patio! Plus there was a guy who played there on April 15 with my last name; I should've been there to get his autograph...


MILAGRO 
5 Mercer St. (At John St.)

Milagro actually has three locations, but I'll focus on the one I've actually been to. When I first walked in (don't be afraid of the curtain!) I was greeted with warmth by the staff and handed a huge menu with a huge list of drinks. I'll just say the margaritas are worth the coin and as for the food... well, the burrito tinga was huge and stuffed full of goodness and the enchiladas were worth writing home about (or at least blogging about!)




LA REVOLUCION 
2848 Dundas St. W. (at Keele St.)

From outside it doesn't look like much, but inside is a different story.  The food is about as Mexican as I think you can get without being in Mexico (in fact, their slogan is 'the best Mexican food outside of Mexico'. Or something like that). The music varies from traditional to alternative while you munch on yummy tacos and burritos and sip a Bloody Maria or a Jarrito's Mexican soda. Vive la revolucion! (Sorry, it had to be said.)

DJERBA-LA-DOUCE 
1475 Danforth Ave. (near Coxwell Ave.)

This is the only Tunisian restaurant (that I know of) in the city of Toronto. The food takes a bit of waiting for, but it's well worth it. Try the Merguese sausage or chicken saffron with pasta. They both go well with guava juice (conveniently also on the menu). It's a small place, but there's usually an open table. The chef (and owner) is friendly and seems to genuinely appreciate his customers.

MILL ST. BREW PUB 
55 Mill St. Building 63 (in the Distillery District)

Yup, it's a pub. But it's better than your average pub. First of all, Mill Street makes awesome beer and they're all available here (with your meal or in the adjacent store). And some might not expect to get lobster at a 'pub', but the lobster grilled cheese on the menu is surprisingly good. The burgers are pretty darn good too. You can even earn your MBA here (Master of Beer Appreciation), a stamp card that carries rewards. Oh, and the patio offers a view of the distillery district... need I say more?

UDUPI PALACE 
1460 Gerrard St. E. (at Craven Rd.)

This place is awesome. You can eat South Indian cuisine until you almost explode for a relatively little amount of cash, and every dish that I've tried (all the dishes here are vegetarian) tastes great. The deep fried onion pakoras are a great way to start.

----

What do you think, people? I'd love to hear your picks.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who should decide if Graffiti is Art?

The age-old debate: is graffiti art?


And who is to decide this, Mayor Rob Ford and the rest of council?


Mayor Ford was in Toronto's Davenport area April 7 and he personally powerwashed some spraypaint from walls as part of the Clean Toronto Together campaign. 


 While many graffiti tags are admittedly unsightly (in my opinion), there is also some beautiful work in that area and other parts of the city. Will they also meet their fate?


Here's an idea: perhaps a committee, made up of artists, residents and municipal officials (gotta even the keel), should do a 'juried show' of Toronto's graffiti. There could be several committees – maybe one in each ward – which would catalogue the graffiti and decide whether it should stay. 


Graffiti deemed 'good enough' (i.e. looking like someone put some time and effort into it) and not on private property (against the owner's will) would gain immunity from the city's cleanup campaign. The 'saved' graffiti could also become part of an art tour of some kind. 


This could be a nice compromise for those who want the graffiti eradicated and those who appreciate it as art. 


Just an idea...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Royal waste of Money?

While my wife-to-be and I gasp over quotes to cater and photograph our wedding, in England the Royal couple could rack up a bill of fifty million pounds (about CDN $78 million).

On top of that, the big wedding could cost Britain’s economy six billion pounds because the spectacle has actually been declared a bank holiday, sandwiched in a bunch of other holidays.

OK, I know this is Prince William we're talking about here – an heir to the throne – but I can't imagine the pressure of such an event. Everyone who is anyone (with the exception of the Canadian Prime Minister, it seems) will be in attendance – 1,900 people in total, not to mention millions of TV viewers.

I personally believe a wedding should be a private affair for family and close friends. Not a grand 'look-at-me' gesture.

We are looking at around 100 guests, which I consider a big crowd. And so far, our wedding hasn't been picked up by any TV networks.

It seems like a colossal waste of cash to me to spend fifty million pounds on a one-day party. Maybe I'm too social-minded; I would rather help others with that money. Which is probably why I'll never be rich (sorry, honey).

But to be fair to Prince William and Kate Middleton, they probably don't have much say in the matter. The royalty before them are surely calling the shots on this one.

I have nothing against the Royal Family, but I do have something against lavish spending that will benefit only those involved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Lost Art of the Mix Tape


Remember that girl you had a crush on, but were too afraid to say the words?

Those were the days when you let a mix tape say the words for you.

You strategically placed songs on the tape that somehow said what you were trying to say, put them in an order that hopefully worked, and then wrote the playlist (by hand!) on the inside sleeve.

For those aged 17 and younger, a little history lesson: an audiotape was an analogue (i.e. not digital) magnetic medium, for which you pressed play and record together on a stereo to capture sound.

There was a certain skill required to make a mix tape: you had to know the person pretty well, so they wouldn't think the music sucked. And then you had to make sure the recording levels were somewhat similar in each song, so it didn't go from a quiet track to an alarmingly loud track. On top of that, you had to make sure the 'gap' between each track was fairly uniform, so songs didn't blend into one another.

Let me admit I made a mix tape or two in my time. Did they work? Hmmmm... not really. But that's OK; at least she had some decent music to listen to. Or at least what I thought what she would think was decent music.

You 'kids' today (i.e. under 25) have it so easy: you can just 'burn' a CD of music you 'downloaded' or 'ripped' and click 'equalize' to level out all the tracks. In the 'old' days (i.e. before 2000) you had to 'buy' music or 'wait' for it to come on the radio.

But there's a unique charm to tapes you don't get with CDs. I mean, I have some tapes I recorded for myself (I don't think a girl ever gave ME a mix tape) and they've been played so many times the tape is actually stretched. So the volume goes up and down a bit in spots, and I know exactly when that will happen. Kind of like the 'signature' of the tape, or its battle wounds.

CDs are near perfect. They don't wear out (unless you play them around a million times). The sound is pretty much perfect. Borrrriiiiing!

But at least they are tangible (i.e. you can hold them). God forbid someone upload a bunch of songs to their love interest. Or give it to them on a very unromantic memory stick.

Ah yes, the mix tape. They required time, skill, and somewhat good taste in music. Or at least the ability to match the taste of your intended target. (Just for the record, I should mention that not all mix tapes were for a crush. My best friend – also a boy – made me a few awesome mix tapes I played endlessly during my first year of college. Paul Simon, CSNY, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Chilliwack, America, Guess Who... they were all on those tapes somewhere.)

Mix tape, we hardly knew ye.

But you've been burned into my memory.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wondering the Universe (PT. 1)

I have an interest in history.  But not just your usual interest in say, the world wars, pioneers, or pirates (although pirates are super sweet. Second only to ninjas). 


My curiosity goes a bit further than that. Let me explain. 


We tend to take human behaviour for granted – we laugh, we kiss, we fart, we drink, we joke, we eat prepared food... yes, you get the idea.


How did this all come to be?


Did you ever stop to think who the first person to tell a joke was, and what that joke may have been? 


Back to the dawn of man: While out hunting for food, one Neanderthal turns to the other and says, "ugghh.... so... ugghhhhh.... what call dinner?" 


Other neanderthal looks puzzled. "ArrrrGGGHH... what?" 


First neanderthal says... "Dead meat!" (Translated of course from some ancient dialect.)


(Pause) then a short grunt that could pass for a laugh from Nean#2. 


OK, so it's a bad joke. But remember, that was supposed to be the first joke ever. Of course it's going to suck. I mean, it probably wasn't a knock-knock joke. 


But if it was... 


"Knock knock!" 


Neanderthal asks, "Who there?"


Voice from behind cave door: "Sab!"


Nean: "Sab who?"


"SABRE TOOTH TIGER!"


Along those same lines, can you explain why farting is funny? OK, it's just a basic bodily function. But who was the first to laugh about it? 


Just think, before farting was funny, early man could just fart and keep on 'talking' like nothing happened. But now it's in our instincts to react to flatulence with snickering. Next time you're talking to a friend and let out a long fart, try not to crack a smile while continuing to talk. (Good luck.)


And what about kissing... is that instinct or did an accidental smashing of lips lead to the modern day version? I mean, think back to your first kiss. Was it awkward? Probably. Now think back to the FIRST KISS EVER and the thoughts that would be going through their heads:  


"WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHAT ARE WE DOING? WHAT… ohhhh, that's nice." (Translated of course from some ancient dialect.)


And what about alcohol? I mean, historians claim fermentation is as old at 10,000 BC. But was it an accident that led to the discovery that rotting material can get you drunk? And who was the first person to get hammered and subsequently hungover, and how did he/she relay this experience to their peers?


"Man, I was so hungry last night I ate some rice sitting in a bowl... but it was a bit mushy... and I drank the stuff at the bottom. Next thing I know, all the women servants looked better than ever and then I blacked out. But they said I danced like never before." (Translated of course from some ancient dialect.)


So just let your mind wander (wonder?). Think about the first person ever to do any given thing in your daily life, and what they must've thought at the time. 


Those folks didn't have any kids in the schoolyard to tell them how it is. They were the ones who told the others who eventually down the line told the first kid in the first schoolyard about it, who then passed it down through generations. 


Kinda blows your mind. 


Feel free to add more thoughts and theories to this. I mean, maybe we'll uncover another first in the process. 


Oops, just farted. 
Ha. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Wedding Files: Part I


Sometimes, you surprise even yourself.

That's exactly what happened to me when I proposed to my girlfriend of two years – on Valentine's Day of all days... cheesy, right?

But it was the perfect day to do it. My girlfriend (love you Gooberstix!) didn't suspect I would pull this stunt, especially on a day when guys are supposed to do something nice for women.

I put the ring in a bigger box (how clever am I) and when she saw the ring box, she was so excited she slipped the ring on her own finger. I didn't really even have to ask for a 'yes'.

So now that the nerve-wracking proposal is out of the way (I almost couldn't feel my legs after), now comes the real challenge, one that I didn't really expect; well, sort of, but not fully –

Planning. 

What colour should the flowers be? Will shoes match those flowers? Pink or white gold in the wedding band? What theme for a cake? Open bar or drink tickets? Should there be bagpipes? What songs should be on the playlist? Should I shave?

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm just a tiny bit overwhelmed. That being said, I'm keeping the planning duties at arm's length, as my wife-to-be has surrounded herself with wedding magazines to help guide her through the process. And she really seems to enjoy it all.

So do I to a certain point, but if my brain spends more than an hour or two thinking about a wedding each day, it will short out and explode.

But with all the planning so far, there's also been a genuine outpouring of love and encouragement from our friends and family. We've already been treated to an engagement party complete with Rock Band, with another party coming up and who knows what in between.

From a partying/hanging with friends and family standpoint, getting married is awesome. 

It's also awesome when your partner is awesome.

So if the flowers are yellow or blue, if the music is jazz or rock, if we serve sausage rolls or cheese sticks, in the end it doesn't really matter to me.

All I want is for my beautiful bride-to-be to say 'I do'. (Awwww. Hope I didn't spoil anyone's lunch.)

Stay tuned as we navigate our way along the curvy road to wedded bliss. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

There's a little bit of Sheen in all of us...

If I could have your attention for just Two and a Half seconds:

A lot has been floated in the media recently regarding embattled Hollywood (hero? Anti-hero?) Charlie Sheen.


But is any of it actually newsworthy? Well, this is one of those times when the public makes that call. 

Truth is, the average person has an insatiable appetite when it comes to the perceived falls-from-grace of Hollywood Stars (note: I just Googled 'fall from grace' and the first hit was a Sheen story). That's what has kept tabloids at grocery checkouts for so many years.

You may not ever pick up or buy those gossip rags (or read quickly-pieced together celebrity dirt stories like mine on the web), but don't pretend you're not interested in Sheen's antics. Even those people who are criticizing Sheen, or making comments like "I couldn't care less about him"– well, they have just expressed an interest in some form or another.

Truth is, Sheen represents the human condition; we can all see some aspects of ourselves in him. His free-loving ways, drinking, drugging, lashing out, and wild partying are all things we've imagined we'd like to take part in at some point (as if we haven't already).

It's the same principle that makes people see movies like The Hangover and call it "awesome". They put themselves in the character's shoes, and think, "Wow, wouldn't it be great to let go – I mean, really let go – for just one night?"

As it turns out, Sheen seems to have 'let it go' many nights.

That being said, like many, many others I'm a fan of his sitcom (which is currently on hold), Two and a Half Men, which seems to mirror his life. 

Why do I like the show? Because his character lives his life the way he chooses to live it. He is witty. He is funny. He is 'winning'.


But there is another side to this man that some of the more 'responsible' folks can relate to. After he joined Twitter recently and posted a picture of himself alongside one of his 'goddesses' (as he calls them), he also updated his million-plus followers about the status of his twin boys, who were taken from him by police after his ex-wife claimed foul.

After thanking all the Twitter users who followed him and wished him well – "In all sincerity... Thank you Twitter community for the warm reception" – he posted, "Pardon my absence.... My first concern is my kids... Back soon..!"

He has also reportedly backed off on demands for a pay increase for appearances on the sitcom, while advocating for the show's crew to get its payout for cancelled episodes. 


Does that sound like a man who has completely forgotten all responsibility and courtesy? Is he an antisocial monster like some media outlets seem to paint him as?

I don't think so. 

As my wonderful wife-to-be (love you Gooberstix!) said about the male fascination with Sheen – "I think men who are generally decent have a hard time looking away from stuff like this, like Charlie is showing you the 'other' way of being a successful guy."

That sums it up better than I ever could. 

Thanks for reading. Now back to real news – for example – radical change in the Middle East

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A nobody's predictions of Oscar winners

Here is a layman's perspective (mine) on who will, and who should, win Oscars in major categories during the 83rd Academy Awards tonight. 

Actor in a Leading Role

• Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
• Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
• Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
• Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
• James Franco in “127 Hours”

My guess for winner: Eisenberg. Besides, it would be kind of tacky for a co-host of the Oscars to win a major award this early in the list.


Who should win: Firth. I haven't even seen the movie, but I'm hearing he's great in it and I believe it.

Actor in a Supporting Role

• Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
• John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
• Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
• Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
• Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

My guess for winner: Bale. Because the Academy is perhaps afraid he'll have a temper tantrum if he doesn't win.


Who should win: Rush. Just because he's Geoffrey Rush. And if he can play a pirate that well...

Actress in a Leading Role

• Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
• Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
• Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
• Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
• Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

My guess for winner: Portman. Her performance was so over-the-top that it may have confused the Academy into thinking it was brilliant (not to say it wasn't pretty good).


Who should win: Williams. For no other reason than that she dragged me into Dawson's Creek, and I didn't mind drowning.

Actress in a Supporting Role

• Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
• Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
• Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
• Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
• Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

My guess for winner: Bonham Carter. Because she's the only one I've heard of aside from Amy Adams.


Who should win: Bonham Carter. Because her shoes are cool.

Foreign Language Film

• “Biutiful” Mexico
• “Dogtooth” Greece
• “In a Better World” Denmark
• “Incendies” Canada
• “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria

My guess for winner: Incendies. I've heard only amazing things about this film.


Who should win: Incendies. Because I love when Canada competes in a foreign language category.

Best Picture

• “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
• “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
• “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
• “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
• “The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
• “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
• “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
• “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
• “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

My guess for winner: The Social Network. Do half a billion people use True Grit? Exactly.


Who should win: The King's Speech. I haven't seen the movie, but I really do want to hear what the King has to say (there's a lot to be said for good promotion).


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Supply and Demand: A real Gashole

For any of you who may be thinking the conflicts in northern Africa (ie. Libya, Egypt and Tunisia in case you've been living under a rock) aren't going to affect you here in relatively cozy Canada:


You're wrong.


Aside from the fact that, at this rate, Africa could become a fully-democratic power with more than a billion people  (compared to about half a billion in all of North America), the result of the anti-government fighting across the big pond will likely hit you all on this side of the planet right where it hurts the most: the wallet. 


The civil uprising in oil-rich Libya is making investors nervous which is affecting the price of crude. Which will inevitably mean you will pay more at the pump.


Yes, I'm talking to you, guy with the eight-seater SUV that requires 100L of fuel. Actually, you probably don't care because you're driving a $45,000+ vehicle. Maybe I should direct this warning at the sedan/compact car driving individuals who chose their car for economy and/or environmental reasons.


Two days ago it cost me (actually, my wife-to-be) $60 to fill up my four-cylinder Hyundai. What? 


That price will only shoot up. 


Is fuel production/supply really decreasing in Libya as reports state? Who really knows for sure, except those who are producing it. But it's a great excuse for the oil giants to adjust prices in their favour. For as long as they want. 


Anyways, if you need gas, now's the time to do it before the ripple effect puts a ripple in your wallet.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

City vs. Country (Or, Concrete vs. Cornfield)

Now that I've experienced living in the 'city' (ie. anywhere south of Hwy. 7) and the 'country' (ie. anywhere north of Hwy. 7), I feel I have earned some authority (from myself) to offer observations on both.

Here is my unsolicited report on how I see the city and country (and how I think they see each other).

On people... 


The country: Everyone knows who the 'town crazy' is.


The city: No one knows who the official 'town crazy' is, but it's a daily competition.


The country: People will smile and say "hello" as they pass you on the sidewalk.


The city: If someone on the sidewalk makes eye contact, they may want something. Possibly your wallet.

On traffic... 


The country: Cars with smiling drivers will stop almost anywhere to let pedestrians cross 'major' roads.


The city: If you like danger and/or pain, go ahead and cross a major road when you're not at an intersection.

The country: Traffic jams are caused by slow-moving tractors.

The city: Traffic jams are caused by slow-moving tractor-trailers.


On nightlife...


The country: "Nightlife? You mean like them raccoons getting into my trash?"


The city: "Nightlife? What night? I don't remember it at all. What time is it?"

On dating... 


The country: Your mom knows a nice girl down the street you can date.

The city: Millions of people to talk to, but people go online to find a date (in the country).

On transit...


The country: A 'bus' is a luxury that comes only twice a week. People schedule their shopping trips around it.


The city: If transit stops running for 20 minutes, it makes national headlines.


The country: Good luck finding a taxi after 6 p.m.


The city: Good luck not getting run over by a taxi after 1 p.m.

On politics...  

The country: Residents complain after a bylaw is passed. 

The city: Residents complain before a law is passed, but it usually gets passed anyway. 

On gossip... 

The country: Don't go out for groceries without being prepared to talk to at least four people about the local 'news' of the day. 

The city: The local news of the day is available in 32 newspapers. 

The country: Everyone knows who Ms. Brown has slept with.

The city: Ms. Brown is sleeping with someone right now on the sidewalk. 

On development... 

The country: "We all want a new grocery store (to compete with the other one) as long as you don't build it anywhere near our homes or on precious farmland."

The city: "There's a spot over there that's still grass. Get it."

On farming...

The country: "Farmers Feed Cities". 

The city: "Cities Subsidize Farmers". 




Monday, February 14, 2011

My (somewhat) restored faith in the music industry

Thank you, Grammy academy, for (somewhat) restoring my faith in the music industry.

While thousands of teenaged girls waited to high-five to Justin Bieber's big wins, the pop sensation was snubbed.

Instead, the best new artist nod went to a jazz singer who many people have never heard of  – Esperanza Spalding (further solidifying my belief that if you give your kid an unusual name, they will do well at something).

Apparently Bieber fans immediately went to town on Spalding's Wikipedia page, but the harsh words were quickly removed.

Let me just say, however, I have respect for the Biebs; for a teenaged boy from small-town Ontario, he sure handles the spotlight well. And he performed just as well, if not better, than the other big stars on the 53rd Grammy Awards Feb. 13.

The kid exudes class, and I'm sure he wouldn't have approved of his fans trash-talking his competition.

I was also very pleased to see another amazing but not-yet-mainstream musician, Ray Lamontagne, be nominated in the best song category, although he lost to the country band Lady Antebellum. Little did I know until I just did a search, but Lamontagne actually won for best contemporary folk album. If you haven't listened to him, I suggest you do – he's awesome live and recorded.

I would have much preferred to see his non-flashy style of performance during the Grammy show, as opposed to an alien emerging from an egg to confuse the audience.

It was also nice to see Canadian living legend, Neil Young, win his first Grammy (really Grammy academy? Young's first win? Talk about overdue).

Going back to the start of this blog entry, where I thanked the academy for somewhat restoring my faith:

Despite the unexpected Grammy wins, I still can't help but feel the music industry is stuck in a rut, and needs to explode into a new direction. The 70's had disco, the 80's had new wave, the 90's had grunge, the 2000's had... hmmm.... that's debatable. But so far this decade? I have no idea. A second-class version of Madonna dominates the charts. Not pointing any fingers.

But at least on Feb. 13, 2011, song won over show.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You can't lead people who won't follow you...

I'm writing this as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is addressing his people regarding his decision not to step down.

This, despite three weeks of heated protests which continue, calling for his resignation because of decaying quality of life for citizens.

People have died in these protests. The country is in turmoil.

But Mubarak won't give up his big, comfy seat.

I find this ridiculous from an everyman perspective.

Imagine being a top boss in a corporation, with a staff of 100 people under you. Productivity is down, morale sucks, people are writing nasty things about you in intra-company emails.

Your response? Send out the hounds to discipline the culprits.

Sounds logical, unless the removal of those responsible just makes the situation worse.

Soon, employees are vandalizing your car, harassing other management figures, setting fire to your office, putting rat droppings in your lunch meat.

Your response? I am not resigning. I am a leader.

You can go on all day about how much you've done for the company in the past. You can call a meeting to try to rally the troops.

But the fact remains, you aren't liked and things will not improve until you swallow your ego and move aside for fresh blood.

OK, I realize my office analogy is far off from what is actually happening in Egypt, but the point is: If I was that big boss with 100 people under me that wanted me gone, would I want to stick around?

Quick answer is no thanks.

Substitute the office of 100 employees for a country of about 80 million, and the situation is a lot more intense and dangerous. I realize Mubarak must have some support left, but even if only 10 per cent of the population wants him out, that's still eight million angry people.

Does he expect by appointing a vice-president and 'delegating' some power to him, people will be happy? No, Mubarak, they want you out. Period.

Is he hoping the whole thing will blow over? Forget it. It's too far gone and there are too many eyes on the issue now.

Remember, this development didn't happen overnight, but the media attention did. I mean, he's been president since 1981, he's had his chance to win favour from the populace.

(On another note – Egypt's president has been elected by popular vote since 2005. In that election, Mubarak won 88.6 per cent of the vote. If the people wanted him out then, they obviously didn't speak loudly enough.)

In any case, there will likely be chaos and unrest in the country until the guy is out. That's a lot of potential violence until September, when an election is scheduled. Mubarak has said he will not run in that election.

But there's no telling who will fill Mubarak's shoes when the people do get their wish.