Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Year In Review

As the clock starts closing in on midnight, like everyone else in the world, today is a day of reflection on the past 365 days in my life. 2007 was an exceedingly eventful year with many milestones, memories and meaningful moments. Here is a look back at some of them...

A Year As A Newfie
Like I have said countless times before - everyone needs to come out here at least once, preferably during the summer months - so you can marvel at how beautiful Newfoundland truly is. I was fortunate enough to spend the summer on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and my time in total here has been an experience I will never forget. Maybe one day, when I'm grey and old, I'll move back and be the cranky old guy who lives in Portugal Cove that used to be a writer or something.

Bugs & Cranks
Who would have thought that replying to a harmless little Craigslist ad would end up being the catalyst to my foray into writing for a living? Shortly before 2007 got under way, I joined a little baseball site to cover the Jays with zero expectations and an abundance of optimism. Two months into the baseball season, we were one of the biggest sites on the 'Net as far as the diamond was concerned and the talent pool at B&C continues to grow. Two personal highlights for me were penning my Josh Hamilton piece Five Tools, Eight Years and One More Chance months before he became one of the feel good stories of the season and catching my first Sports Illustrated link with The Anti-Ripkens.

Odd Job Jack
There was a stretch from March until June where I was more or less unemployed. Nothing I was being offered was remotely interesting to me and I kept quitting crappy jobs. All the while, Sarah stood by my side and supported my need to be proud of what I was doing, even though I wasn't contributing financially. While Blockbuster isn't glamourous, I love the people I work with, getting free movies ain't a bad deal and it's a lot better than working at the call centre. Thanks for letting me be me Baby Girl...

I Had Passion, Lost Passion and Found Passion Again
The road to writing for Passion Magazine was a long and frustrating one, but worked out in the end. I was originally contacted in June about doing a story, then stopped hearing from them altogether for nearly two months before the new Managing Editor got back in touch and filled me in. Two months later, my name was in print on two stories in the re-launch issue and is penciled in for a feature in Issue #2.

Worst. Vacation. Ever. (But It's Gonna Make a Great Movie One Day)
We should have just gotten the hint when we couldn't make it to the Dominican for Tim & Tania's Wedding. Or maybe after the Emergency Appendectomy. Instead, the car we needed to go to Ontario to pick up is a pile of scrap somewhere near Flamborough, there is one less deer in the world and the last week of 2007 was the most hectic, least relaxing week in the history of mankind. The only silver lining? I think I can write it into a pretty funny movie...

Becoming A Better Man
Warning: Some of you may not want to read this - it's sentimental and serious.
Over the last 365 days, I have become a much better man than I ever thought possible. I don't worry about myself and only myself any more. Actually, I don't even worry about myself first anymore and that is an incredible feeling. This year, I swallowed my pride and got my financial house in order by filing bankruptcy. Getting to that point was irresponsible, but knowing it was the best option was the grown up thing to do. I became a better friend - flying home for a wedding that I knew I had to be at and making time for those who are most important to me. Mostly though, the easiest thing to say is that I grew up this year. I realized what I want in my life and have done everything that I could do to make sure that happens and that's saying something...

Favourites of 2007

Big Movie: Zodiac
Everything about it was awesome. David Fincher is still a genius behind a camera, Robert Downey Jr. is still a genius in front of one and Jake Gyllenhall even made me forget about his little trips up the mountain with Ennis Del Mar... the fact that it's based on real events makes it even creepier.

Little Movie: A Guide to Recognizing You Saints
Another appearance by Mr. Robert Downey Jr. in this one, this time starring as the grown up version of Shia Leboeuf's character Dito Montiel, another living breathing person and the man who wrote the book this movie is came from. The true breakout in this film though was Channing Tatum, who casts asides any thoughts that he might just be the next good looking crappy actor with his turn as Antonio.

Album: Alright, Still by Lily Allen
Infectious. Quick. Sharp. Those are the three best words to describe this album. There is something brilliant about the light, airy, lilting nature of the "kiss my ass you stupid bastard" songs on the album and "LDN" is worth it for the horn section alone.

Song: "Stronger" by Kanye West
Anyone who wants to doubt Kanye as the greatest mind and talent in hip hop can drop me a line here and we'll get it on. Be warned though - this will end with me playing Kanye and you being 50 Cent. Mixing Daft Punk with his trademark bravado, Kanye scored the best song of the year.

Song: "Crank Dat" by Soulja Boy
Just because hearing Sarah try to yell out lyrics to it is one of my most favourite things in the world... and no Baby, it doesn't go "Soulja Boy I'll tell you what!" Superman these hos!

Book: Extra Innings by Patrick Smith
No, I'm not saying it just to kiss Smitty's ass and because he gave it to me for free. One, it is a really great read, whether you like baseball or not, because it is about life as told through a season with his baseball team. Two, it serves as daily motivation and a daily reminder that I can make something out of this here writing thing. No longer are published authors whose book I've read random people I know nothing about and that makes the pursuit of my dreams all the more plausible. Thanks for that Smitty - and I can't wait for Book #2... I'll even buy it this time!

So long 2007. It was eventful. Bring on 2008...

Continue reading ...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Things I Learned This Week

1. We Should Start a Moving Company
Aside from one car load that came in during the day Wednesday, Sarah and I managed to move all of our worldly possessions from The Cove into town and have the truck returned to U-Haul in the span of 4 1/2 hours. Granted, we packed most of the stuff the previous couple of days, but that is what all smart movers do, so this really was a pretty outstanding feat if I do say so myself. Probably doesn't hurt that this new place is the 30th address of my life...

2. Nothing is Open Christmas Eve
Even in the Halifax Airport. You would think that since travellers are stuck flying in and out of this place - or any other airport for that matter - that the shops inside the building would stay open to accomodate them. You would think, wouldn't you... Not how it works though. Everything shut down at 5:30 pm, which meant we had three hours to kill with zero opportunity for food, drink or even the mind-numbing entertainment of a television. Good thing we both know how to read.

3. Boxing Day is the Same
Where I come from, Boxing Day is the busiest shopping day of the year. People get out to the mall as soon as the sun comes up and it's an absolute madhouse. Here in NFLD, nothing is open. You know, other than Blockbuster. No mall, no grocery stores, no liquor stores, nada. I really don't understand this province at all.

4. Not Having a Car is Weird
I've had my own car for five years and access to one for the last fourteen. Being without one right now is the strangest thing. Simple tasks become more complex. Groceries involves an extra ten bucks because we have to take a cab home. There are no quick trips up to Starbucks. Everything takes longer. This is going to be a weird four months.

5. I Know Nothing of Magazine Deadlines
Or, I don't understand them as of yet. When we hit Ontario, the good folks at Passion let me know that they needed my pieces submitted by the 20th so that they could prep them during the Christmas Week. To me, that would mean that during this week some time, I would get an email with the revisions that need to be made. Still nothing. Maybe it'll come in the next day or so, but either way, it's been ten days since I sent it in and I've gotten nothing back. Doesn't that mean I could have waited a couple extra days to turn things in?

6. This Apartment... Pretty Sweet
We liked it the minute we saw it, but now that we're in and setup and living here, we like it even more. It's cute, what with the slanty cupboards in the kitchen and all the natural light that comes in from the big window in the living room. Plus, our stuff just seems to fit in here perfectly, from the new futon to the side-by-side computer, things just work.

7. The Non-Smoking / Tattoo Plan
Since I am Mr. Addictive Personality - from everything to feeding my writing jones to the wicked nic-sticks - I've figured out that since I'm parting ways with cigarettes, I need something else in place to fill that void. The answer? MORE INK! Once a week, I'll toss the ten bucks I would have dropped on that weeks pack of darts into a jar and a couple months from now there will be more artistic impressions permanently etched on into my skin. And yes, I am already thinking of what to get.

8. There are Some Real Dumb People Out There
Okay, so this isn't really a this week revelation, but it's maybe more of an affirmation. I must have fielded four hundred calls this week at work that went like this:

Spencer - Thank you for calling Blockbuster, now trading DVDs and Games, Spencer speaking.
Person - Are you guys open today?

Seriously? Honestly? If we weren't open would anyone be answering the phone? C'mon people, think a little...

9. I'm Lost Without The Internet
As I told you yesterday, it had been too long between the times I logged onto these here Interwebs. The truth is, I can go without TV for days - I really don't care - but not being able to log on and check the four hundred and seventy eight sites and emails and blogs that I like to get at every day is brutal. Tomorrow is my day off and the only thing I care about finding is a bunch of Internet cable to connect my computer to the router so that I can get back onto the 'net via the Super Computer. Then and only then will this move be complete.

10. I Hate The New England Area
Yeah, you read that right Dan Tobin and Jesse Pugh - I HATE YOUR STOMPING GROUNDS! The Red Sox won the World Series, the Celtics are making me look like a total jackass courtesy of the best record in the NBA and last night the Patriots finished off their perfect regular season. Right now, there is a strong possibility that the three major sports championships will reside in New England in the very near future and that blows! Good thing the Bruins still suck...

Continue reading ...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back on the Scene / Makin' Like Diddy

Crispy and Clean
You can try
But then why?
Cuz you can't intervene...

It's been too long my friends, it's been too long.

Since I last checked in, I've left Ontario, spent four hours in the airport in Halifax with nothing open (not even Timmy's), worked Christmas Day and Boxing Day (boo-earns, even though I volunteered), moved into the new pad and have finally gotten online to check the goings-on and get back to doing what I do best....


Jokes aside, this has been a painful thing, this being without access to this here space. I didn't think it would be that bad, since it was only going to be about a week or so and there was a ton of stuff that I had to do, but I tell you what... I need this...

As much as this is an opportunity for me to do even more writing than I already do, it's also my way of winding down. All the other stuff is work, where this is just, as my friend Paul put it, stream of consciousness blogging about whatever junk is in my head or songs I love or idiots like the Spears Clan who piss me off. None of these pieces are rehearsed, planned or penned out in advance; they just happen and they usually happen fairly quickly and that is the joy of it...

So it's great to be back. I hope you missed me. All seven of you.

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Spencer's Health Update

Not that you necessarily care, but I thought I would let you all in on a few developments, health wise, for your friendly neighbourhood bloggerman.

I quit smoking, as of 9:52 this morning, when I ran out of smokes. I haven't bought any and I don't intend to. That shit'll kill me.

Sans car, walking has become my method of transportation to and from work. It only takes about fifteen minutes, but a third of it is uphill and since it's goddamn freezing on this stupid island, the forty-seven layers of clothes I wear make me sweat like a bastard, so I'll at least lose a little water weight.

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Penning a new segment over at Epic Carnival starting Monday.

The series is called Press Coverage and will highlight athletes who deserve to be recognized for their contributions to society and for the things that they have overcome. After being so pissed off about all the negative press and negative stories over the last handful of months, I decided that writing about the good guys is one way to pry the focus away from the jackasses and knuckleheads out there doing dirt.

Make sure you check it out... Up first - Captain Canada, Steve Nash

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It's time to get my Diddy On!

Much like the name changing chameleon known to his mother as Sean Combs, it's time for this place to get an update.

I Blog Because I Can is used by a bunch of other people and it just doesn't have the umph and flare that we all know I have. Dan Tobin's wife has the best named blog I've seen in a while - A Blog In My Throat - and I want to christen this place with something unique and original like that.

That being said, I want your suggestions and ideas. I may not use them, since I am the creative one here (except for you, Newt...), but fire off some thoughts and we'll unveil the new handle in, say, a week.

Next Saturday: new name. As for now, it's The Blog To Be Named Later...
(The truth? I want to be more findable via Google... I'm an attention whore!)

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Things I Learned This Week

There has been a lot, so we'll get right to it...

1. Deer vs. Car is a Draw
Yes, the deer died and some hillbillies from out around Cambridge took him home and have undoubtedly enjoyed a bunch of nice steaks and stews. But the car died too, literally. We were sitting in Faye's car waiting for the OPP to show up and get things sorted when the four-way flashers just stopped flashing. The reason? Dead battery. Add into that the front left quarter panel than was laying on the shoulder of the road next to the deer, the crumpled hood and smashed windshield, the glass of which I am still picking out of my coat pockets, and I have to call this a draw. No, I don't want a rematch.

2. Getting in an Accident has Freaked Me Out
This was the first real accident I have ever been in. Sure I slid into the back of a car once and banged into someone out in Campbellville a couple years ago, but I saw both of those coming and was able to brace myself for them. This one was different. I had no idea that this was going to happen. It happened that fast. I drove yesterday for the first time and it was weird. I'm shaky and their are no deer jogging down the road in London. Honestly, while I understand the jokes, it doesn't change the fact that I know if I was going a little faster that deer would have come all the way through the windshield, the airbags would have deployed and things would probably be a whole lot different.

3. My Mother Lives in the Dark Ages
Granted, she is renting for a short term where she is, but get this - she has no shower (bathtub only), no home phone, no Internet, no cable (two channels on a rotary TV), no DVD. She doesn't even have a phone book we could use to call a cab... Dark Ages.

4. Glad I Broke One of My Rules
National Treasure: Book of Secrets was pretty good. It was exactlty what I expected actually - some cheesy bits, some hokey elements, but it was an entertaining and enjoyable movie, despite Nicolas Cage. Justin Bartha was great, again, as Cage's sidekick. Besides, the other option was P.S. I Love You and that just isn't something I want to see with Sarah and her dad... so we're saving that for Date Night when we get home.

5. Home Geeves!
Five days after we were supposed to leave, using an entirely different mode of transportation, we will finally make our way back to The Rock tomorrow. Down a car and up an experience, we're both pretty excited about getting home, just to get the things we need to get done finished and be back in our own element. Thankfully, deers don't fly...

6. Extra Sushi
The only thing I can call as a positive stemming from our extended stay here in Ontario is that we're heading back to Ye's in Waterloo tonight for dinner. Honestly, it is the best All You Can Eat Sushi joint around and I can't tell you how damn tasty everything is. Once again, I urge everyone to at least try - TRY - sushi...

7. I Never Thought I Would Say This...
But I miss the cats. Somehow, in taking care of them over the last month before we left, both Sarah and I got really attached to those strange little furballs named Shabby and Mumu. I can't wait to get home and have Mumu smash open a door just to announce her presence and watch Shabby paw at Sarah's shoulder to get under the covers when we go to bed at night. The worst part of all? I'm going to miss them even more when we move out in three days...

8. New Apartment Here We Come!
Our new place - 24 Wexford Street, Phone Number 743-4771 - is awesome. Our landlords totally renno'ed the place over the last month and it is waaaaaaay better than any other place I have live in, in terms of price v. niceness. Gorgeous bathroom, cute little kitchen and all to ourselves. Simply put, it's heaven. Feel free to drop by with housewarming gifts any time after the 27th...

9. Back On The Wagon
The week before the accident, I hadn't had a single cigarette. Seven days, no darts. I was pretty proud of myself. One car crash later and I was buying smokes quicker than that deer crumpled our car. However, I am proud to say that I finished that pack Friday night - and since when does a pack last me from Tuesday AM until Friday PM? - and have gone another two days sans cigarettes. I told you I could quit whenever I wanted to...

10. I'm a Fantasy GOD!
During the baseball season, I named one of my teams in a league with some friends "Betcha I Win This" because I'm a cocky bastard. I won, handily, just as I knew I would. So, as the same crew set up a football league, I named my team Betcha I Win This 2. While the end results won't be known until tomorrow night, I can tell you that I am in the finals and should be okay... I'm also crushing a couple basketball and hockey leagues too right now. Someone needs to hire me to do this stuff. You hear that Yahoo!?

Continue reading ...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dye Jobs, Blow Jobs and Breaking My Own Rules

As of yesterday, it had been four days sans Starbucks and for a couple of Starbucks whores like Sarah and I, that is too long, so we got delivered to the nearest 'bucks to intake some coffee-liciousness. But before we got coffee, we hit Shoppers.

For our American readers (Chalk, Scrap) Shoppers is Shoppers Drug Mart, a mega-chain drug store that has started to slowly morph into a mini grocery store over the years where you can get everything from laundry detergent and pop to magazines and deoderant. We went in to get some fake nails and hair dye for Sarah and a new magazine (Details) for me since I have exhausted my book collection now that we've spent an extra three days here.

So, after collecting some blondish highlights and French manicures, as well as two venti peppermint mochas that were delicious, we came home and got to work.

It didn't work so well. In fact, Sarah hated it. Pretty certain that it wasn't going to work out, I fired a stripe down the middle of my tennis ball head to make her feel better. She liked my reverse skunk design better than her own.

Which meant that we were back at said Shoppers this afternoon purchasing a darker, full coverage dye to fix / replace yesterday's disaster. I played stylist and again riffled some of the remains into my now striped tennis ball to ensure that if her's didn't work out, I'd look stupid too. You know, aside from the fact that I'm shaving it up again when I get home...

But it work! It really worked! Sarah's hair looks great (thank you, thank you...) and mine looks, well, like my natural hair, which is an improvement on being striped.

Two morals to this story:
(1) Don't dye your hair yourself. It goes with my ideas about why their are plumbers and electricians for me to hire to do my plumbing and electrical... because they are trained and I am not!

(2) Putting a single stripe down the center of your head is always a bad idea. No matter how nice you think you're being and how much your girlfriend appreciates you looking like a jackass, unless you're willing to shave it off, don't do it...

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Two questions: (1) Why didn't I think of this? and (2) Are you fucking serious?

Both of these questions apply to You Porn. Yes, You Porn.

For those of you who have been blissfully unaware, there is in fact a You Tube of Porn out there and, while I kinda wish I had thought of the idea because I'm certain whoever did is raking in some cash right about now, something about it kinda freaks me out.

I know everyone will be calling bullshit on this, but with God as my witness I have never watched a single You Porn clip. Not one. Swear on our love...

Like I said, it kind of freaks me out. Call me old fashion, but I like my porn the way it has been for years and years and years. No, not arty and airbrushed a la Playboy and Penthouse, but the amateur shit just doesn't do it for me, especially not the homemade, dude holding a digital camera while his girlfriend/wife/neighbour gives him a hummer type.

I want a little production value. Even amateur porn isn't really amateur porn. It's usually amateur chicks and that I'm down with. Then there is my other worry...

Seeing someone I know.

Sure, it could happen in any other porn realm - magazine, movie, my pornsite of choice, whatever - but something about seeing a video that someone I know consciously made, whether for distribution or not, creeps me the fuck out.

Plus, I know that our B&C female writer Andrea is a You Porn addict and I don't ever want to start getting into "Hey have you seen this clip?" conversations and emails with her.

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I can't think of an actor I like less than Nicolas Cage. Save for a couple performances - Raising Arizona and Leaving Las Vegas - the guy makes me vomit. Ghost Rider? Con Air? Windtalkers? I actually wish he was Gone in 60 Seconds...

Bad puns aside, my disdain for Cage makes my activity planned for tonight all the more remarkable: I'm going to see National Treasure: Book of Secrets with Sarah and her dad. By choice. Literally, I picked the movie.
Remember how I said I liked a couple of his flicks? NT1 was one of them. A part of it was his sidekick Riley, played by Justin Bartha, and that Sean Bean was the bad guy, but mostly it's that I am a giant geek underneath my freshly dyed hair and afraid of You Porn exterior and the premise of this film interests me to no end. Yes, I like history.
Besides, Bartha is back as Riley, Diane Kruger is still Abigail Chase and now we're adding the always outstanding Helen Mirren and Ed Harris to the mix as well. And they're dealing with the Lincoln Assassination...
I'll let you know tomorrow if I'll ever break one of my rules again.
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Pictured: Lily Allen, striking a perfect pose whilst walking down the street!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: The Seed 2.0

Artist: The Roots feat. Cody Chesnutt
Album: Phrenology

Everyone needs to listen to The Roots. Not just this song - everything they have ever put out. Why? Because if for some reason you don't like this song (and you should regardless of what kind of music you prefer) there is something in the expansive catalogue that is The Roots' discography that anyone who likes music will enjoy.

This song for me is the best embodiment of all the things I love about The Legendary Roots Crew.

The outstanding musicianship of the band - "Hub" on bass, Kamal on keyboards, F.Knuckles on percussion, Captain Kirk on guitar and the man I think is one of the greatest musicians alive, Amir "?uestlove" Thompson, on drums. Seriously, this isn't a rap group. The Roots is a band, and a really fucking good band at that.

Black Thought's lyrics and flow - no word better describes the way he layers his words over not just this track but every track than flow. The way he doesn't try to overpower the band and become the focus, but instead works as part of the whole is what makes it work so well. Plus, listen to what he's saying in this tale of infidelity and pregnacy and hear that this is one of the best lyricist of our time.

Couple those two things with the outstanding guest spot put forth by Cody Chesnutt - someone else you should give a chance if you like cats like Jack Johnson and Ben Harper - and this is an absolute home run.

Listen, I could go on for hours about The Roots. This is actually the fourth incarnation of this post that I'm working on now because I have so much to say about them and have a hard time picking just one song to talk about. At one point I just listed their entire discography and said I couldn't choose, but that would have been counteractive to the point of a soundtrack.

So I give you The Seed 2.0 and this advice - go and get it and more... thank me later.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dishonour Roll: The Spears Family

Seriously, this is just too easy. The jokes almost write themselves. God love families like this and the ridiculous society we live in that has thrust the daily happenings of these good folks from Kentwood, LA into our lives.
We know all about Britney; for the sake of keeping the reading quick and easy, I'll simply say this:

When Kevin Federline is the good parent, you've got some serious issues. Right now - post VMA's - he also may be the better performer, which is a definite sign that the apocolypes is coming.

Now for the real good stuff.

Brit's Lil' Sis Jamie Lynn, who has her own show on Disney and is sort of a less liked version of Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus, announced to UK tabloid OK! that she is pregnant...

She's 16!

I'm no idiot and I know this stuff happens all the time and blah, blah, blah, but sweet merciful jebus wouldn't you think that this kid would take a look at what a train wreck her sister is and do everything imaginable to ensure she doesn't get knocked up?

Don't even start with the "accidents happen" and the only way to be 100% safe is to abstain mumbo-jumbo either; I've yet to meet anyone who got pregnant from swallowing, not to mention sundry other adult film options I won't get into at this time.

D'you know what makes it all even better? The cherry on top of the Britney / Jamie Lynn sundae?

Their mother was planning a parenting book!

Honestly - how does this happen? Who makes these decisions?

Unless the book was going to be called "I Raised'em Right and They Still Fucked Up" by Lynne Spears, this shouldn't have even been an option. Unless, of course, it was meant all along as a joke, but I know that wasn't the case.

Best of all was the "After the news of her 16-year-old daughter's pregnancy, plans for the Lynne Spears parenting book that she was working on have been put on hold."

D'you think?!

I never thought a family could out crazy the Lohans, but my god, the Spears Clan has gone and done it!

Someone needs to make this into a weekly TV show - Lohan's vs. Spears' : Crazy in Life. Sad thing is, I'm almost certain someone has probably suggested it at one point or another...

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Rundown: Travel Insanity

I can't begin to tell you how awful the last couple of days have been. Actually, yes I can, as this is my blog and I can tell you whatever the hell I want.

Anyway, the short version is this - we were driving to Cambridge on Monday night and a deer jumped in front of the car. Nine seconds later, the deer and the car were fucked, Sarah and I were covered in glass and our hearts were racing. After a couple days of sitting around Cambridge sorting things out, we booked a flight tonight to get us home on Christmas Eve.

All that being said, since we're due for a rundown, let's get it under way, shall we?

Five Worst Moments of This Trip

5. Missing Tania & Tim's Wedding
Remember, this was originally supposed to be a trip to the Dominican for the wedding of two of Sarah's close friends that got kiboshed by school obligations at the start of January. Maybe we should have just cut our loses here...

4. Vancouver Appendectomy
After we adjusted from the DR plans, we were set to go to VanCity to visit Sarah's Mom, Brother and the aforementioned Tania and Tim, as well as squire me around her stomping grounds. Two days prior to takeoff, Sarah's appendix decided it needed to be removed and once again, a trip was over.

3. 4 AM Shovelling
We finally had a flight plan that wasn't ruined by surgery and heading to bed we read of an incoming snow storm, but figured we'd be fine. Sarah, a notorious pre-flight insomniac, woke at 4 AM to see what she called 6" of snow outside and told me I should go out and shovel. Turns out, Sarah really doesn't know what 6" looks like (insert joke here) as there was two feet of snow for me to shovel a path through. Better yet, the cabbie pulled into the uncleared neighbour's driveway and asked me why I hadn't shovelled.

2. Figuring Out How To Get Home
Lemme tell you - this part has seriously sucked balls. There aren't many options for flights at Christmas time and getting to Newfoundland is even harder than that. Everyone - Garry, Aunt Maxine, The Eugenius, EVERYONE - has been involved in sorting us out. I've stayed quiet; they can sort it out and tell me where to go. Take that however you may.

1. The Deer
I know this part is obvious, but hey, it's one of the worst experiences of my life period, yet alone this trip. Thankfully, Sarah and I are both safe and without injury and we're now able to laugh at the absolute ridiculousness that is this trip. But wait, there's more...

We owned that car for exactly 11 hours when we ran into Bambi's friend. We signed for it at 11 AM in London and at 10 PM on Highway 8, WHAMMO!

It's not like we were in uncharted territory: I grew up twenty minutes from the accident, have friends that live right down the road and have been through there more times than I can remember without even seeing a deer.

From the time of the accident until we set foot in my mom's apartment was three hours. It too two hours for the OPP and a tow truck to arrive. What happens if we are randoms to the area and don't have my mom's warm car to sit and smoke darts in?

So now I gotta sign off - I'm tired, I'm a little hung over after powering back 50 oz. of beer at dinner and I'm sick of thinking about this stupid trip. Goddamn deer!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Things I Learned This Week

Welcome to the quick, mobile version...

1. Doing This On The Road Sucks, Part 1
Writing at home is easy; Sarah knows I need to do it and at times we arrange our days around the work that I need to hammer through here on the old Interwebs. Outside of Sarah, not many people completely understand. As much as it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to do - put together an article or write a few words about the latest Blue Jays signing - it's a bit more complicated than that. Maybe one day people will figure that out.

2. Doing This On The Road Sucks, Part 2
Right now, I'm in the Middle of Nowhere, Ontario posting this using dial-up. Yes, there are still places that operate strictly on dial-up. London wasn't even that much better as the DSL only worked down in the basement, close to the modem itself. Someone - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs - needs to get on this.

3. It's Just Snow People
For the last three days I have been hearing about the Winter Storm that is coming to Ontario and how it could shift our travel plans. We drove out here last night and it wasn't that bad. Woke this morning and all the news stations wanted to talk about was how Ontario was getting walloped by a storm which was going to drop - gasp! - 20 cm of snow...

4. Surprisingly...
Toronto has yet to call in the Armed Forces to help dig them out of this perilous situation. I loved Mayor Mel, but that was the stupidest thing ever.

5. Nothing Is Simple
I should have known better than to think coming to Ontario for a vacation was going to be easy-peasy. Everything is complicated, from getting sushi yesterday night to finding time to pen (type) this little number here. From now on, vacation might have to mean "go away somewhere where there is no family..."

6. Emily Grace is Still Adorable... Even When She Cries
Managed to sneak in a visit with Murielle and the baby yesterday, sort of. We had a visit but Gracie Lou was sleeping, until she woke up when we were leaving and got freaked out by the sight of her ugly unlce (read: me) standing at her crib. For the next 45 minutes, she proceeded to make strange and cry while staring at me like she had no idea who I was. This is reason #27 why we need to move home sometime soon... I need to be a part of my niece's life.

7. Today is Cole Family Christmas
I have mixed feelings about this. Everyone has always been very inviting and welcoming, but something tells me that today might be a little different. Before it was only ever adults and things change when you mix kids into the equation. Cuple that with the religiousity of the group - outside of Sarah and her dad, all are Church going folks - and my penchant for swearing could get me in trouble. Oh yeah, this is a dry event too...

8. No Booze + No Smokes... What Am I Going To Do?
Garry, Sarah's Dad, was discouraged from bringing a bottle of red wine for today's festivities. I haven't had a smoke in six days now either. That means I will be without my two greatest coping mechanisms for the duration of the day. Sarah better not stray too far from my side.

9. Passion Magazine, Issue #2
Got my finalized assignment for the next issue - January / February - and it's even better than last time. 1800-2000 words on Celebrity Comebacks and hopefully a profile on my buddy Jeff Woodrow's company Joy Apparel. I know I've told you all this before, but hey, I need to fill up a little space here people.

10. The Mitchell Report was a Big Waste of Time
There weren't many shocking revelations to me. Even Roger Clemens wasn't that big of a shock to me. As my man Cabbie said back when I interviewed him for Bugs & Cranks, you gotta wonder how a 40-year-old man keeps bringing it the way he has over the last bunch of years. Kudos to Andy Pettitte for stepping up and admitting his HGH usage; that is a class move from a class act. The rest of the "This is an outrage! I've Never Used Steroids!" bunch could stand to learn a litte from the Yankees hurler.

That's it, that's all... time to get on with the day!
(P.S. No Einstein this week... he's at home in St. John's on my computer and pulling a picture off dial-up seeems like too much work...)

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Soundtrack of My Life

Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Album: Busted Stuff

I first saw Dave and the Boys on Saturday Night Live when the Under The Table and Dreaming album was released. On the stage stood this ragtag bunch of guys with no visible signs of pretention; everyone rocked what was obviously their own personal wardrode not something someone in Costumes had thrown at them and they smashed out both "What Would You Say?" and "Ants Marching" during the show. I was hooked.

Jump ahead some years. Dave et al have released sundry other albums, built the fanatical fanbase that treks all over the continent and world to see them and I had become friends with two very big Dave Matthews fans in Butch & Beast. Butch, real name Bryan Buchanon, worked with me at the casino and Beast, Greg Jorden, was a buddy of his from high school. Our favourite pasttime was heading down to our local watering hole - Tiff's in fabulous Barrie, ON - grabbing some grub, some pints and watching Leafs games. Yes, I watched a lot of Maple Leafs hockey, that is beside the point.

Anywho, the best thing about Tiff's was their jukebox. Actually, the best thing about Tiff's was that we knew everyone and so we got special treatment which included free reign on the jukebox and the jukebox happened to hold some Dave. You knew we were in the bar when you heard "Two Step" start playing.

Then Busted Stuff came out. Bucky and I copped it at Music World across the street from my house the day it came out. Later that summer, a tour was announced. I had never seen Dave Live; Beast and Bucky were vets, having tripped to Hartford to see him among their many shows. Checking dates, we discovered a very awesome possibility: back-to-back Dave in Montreal and Toronto at the start of September. What better way to close out the summer than a road trip to see DMB?

We planned it, executed said plan and rocked the two shows, which were exceedingly different. The first night, Montreal, was a fan show, where they played a lot of stuff that serious Dave fans were stoked to hear. Toronto was the Radio Show, where all the Dave Classics (read: the radio hits) were belted out in succession. There was some overlap from the two shows, including "Grace is Gone".

I've been known to love a sad bastard song or two and this is my personal favourite. A lament about love lost while riding the rail of a bar, stool under your ass, empty glass in front of you, heart heavier than ever. While I was a fan of the song already from the album, hearing it live, two nights in a row at that, cemented it's place in my heart and my all-time mix tape.

Starting off slow and somber, the song builds into Dave practically pleading with the bartender, his heartache and pain and loss more than he wants to feel at the time. As much as you can feel it through the CD version, seeing Dave's strained face on a giant screen back-to-back evenings as he raspily begs to a legion of fans sent shivers down my spine.

Excuse me please one more drink
Could make it strong cause I don’t need to think
She broke my heart my Grace is gone
One more drink and I’ll move on
Couple Dave's pleading and playing with the insanely good musicianship of the rest of the boys - LeRoi, Stefan, Carter and Boyd - and you have the makings of one of those songs that burns into your memory, forever capturing a place in your soul.

While I may not have the same kind of sad bastard days going forward that have prompted me to slap on Grace, there will always be a place for her on my playlist.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dishonour Roll: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig

After $60M and a whole truck load of time, the long-anticipated findings of Senator George Mitchell's investigation into the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in Major League Baseball was released today and the results are...

Entirely unsurprising.

There are no shocking revelations, no big names that you never would have expected to see on the list. No A-Rod's or Albert Pujols' or Ryan Howards. There are more middling major leaguers than big name attractions, guys that the average fan would have no idea who they are and even hardcore fans (read: me and the B&C Family) strain to remember like Chris Donnels, Stephen Randolph and F.P. Santangelo.
You may be thinking right now, "How does this land William H. (Bud) Selig on the Dishonour Roll for Thursday, December 13, 2007?"

Simple - he's to blame, for everything.

He's to blame for the ridiculous amount of time and money it has taken to procure such a report.

He's to blame for the numerous players, mentioned in the report or not, who have tarnished the game through the use of PEDs.

He's to blame for the obvious hypocricy of seeking to punish this current batch of offenders while turning an obvious blind eye to the likes of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's definite use of PEDs during their chase of Roger Maris' Home Run Record that brought the fans back to the ballpark folling the last work stoppage the game endured.

Oh yeah - just to keep with the theme, Selig was responsible for that stoppage too.

I'm no fan of Barry Lamarr Bonds, but even I can laugh at the stupidity of chasing after Bonds, who continues to maintain his innocence in the face of Grand Jury Indictments, while not enforcing any punishment whatsoever on admitted cheater Jason Giambi.

He spends insane amounts of money to track down cheaters that have tarnished his game while he turned a blind eye to the one's who ushered in the Steroid Era to begin with.
Besides, the guy called the All-Star Game a tie a few years back, made the winner owner of home field advantage in the World Series and is generally just a Owner Operated Puppet who has helped ruined America's Pasttime.
Bud Selig, Welcome to the Club Big Fella!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Rundown: Random Happenings

The past seven days has been a giant collection of completely random situations, from Sarah's need to have her appendix removed to our quickly put together revised travel itinerary. As such, there was nothing more fitting for today's Rundown...

Top Five Random Thoughts in My Mind

5. Somehow, Kevin Smith Hasn't Had a Heart Attack
He hasn't, or rather didn't because he stopped smoking and started eating much better than before. And it's a good thing, because I'm through about 30 pages of his latest book and Silent Bob and Co. rock the Griddle for breakfast nearly every day, with stops at Wendy's, Carl's Jr. and Mickey D's mixed in for variety.

4. When Am I Getting Sushi?
Before the whole appendix situation, I knew that there would be a bare minimum of two all-you-can-eat journeys, one in VanCity and one in TO. Now, post-op and with different arrival times, things are a little hazy. As it stands now, we're Googling sushi restaurants in and around London, as London proper doesn't believe in sushi restaurants. Suddenly, I'm a little less excited about moving there in May.

3. Strange Things Irritate Me
Like how soft cover books get that bend in the cover when you're reading them. I hate that. Newfoundland drivers, but I've covered that before. How stupid people stand in front of the viewing mirrors at the Sears Fitting Rooms. This is especially annoying because I'm not allowed beyond the doorway since I have testicles.... and I get funny looks for being there with Sarah and having opinions on her outfits.

2. Why Are Athletes Stupid?
And by stupid I mean why do they do stupid things that put their lives and the lives of people around them in jeopardy? In the wake of Jamaal Tinsley's latest incident and the recent death of Sean Taylor, you would think athletes would be taking a second look at their lifestyles and choices, but sadly, I don't think that will happen... read more of my views on this topic here or see what Jemele Hill at ESPN has to say or the fine folks at The Starting Five.

Note: Yes, I'm in 100% agreement with Jemele Hill here, which is a departure from normal. Maybe I was too quick to judge last week...

1. What Has Happened to Society?
Broad strokes, I know, but I long for the halcyon days of my childhood. Reality TV and things like and Perez Hilton hadn't turned the average people into gossip crazy celebriholics*, athletes weren't going to jail for dog fighting, nightclub brawls or trying to hire a hitman to kill their agent and gas cost 49 cents a litre. Sure those days had their problems too, but it wasn't like this. The question that scares me most is what's next?

* celebriholics: those who are obsessed with the lives and travails of celebrities, especially scandals. This is my word and I hereby claim it in the name of ESKimo Enterprises...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My name is Spencer and I am a Metrosexual!

It's not a good thing when your girlfriend looks at you with a "Really? Did you just say that?" look on her face when you're talking about clothes. It's especially awkward when it's not following a "Your ass looks huge in those pants" statement, but rather a "Well, it pulls a little here, but otherwise it's great and would go wicked with those white pants and your new heels."

After a day of shopping, primarily for her, I'm betting Sarah is a little less sure about me as her prospective husband. She's also maybe a little more sure that I could very well end up as the next host of TLC's What Not To Wear, replacing the stylish Clinton Kelly next to the somewhat annoying Stacy London.

I think I freaked her out a little bit today with how much insight I had into her wardrobe options, piece selections and general comments about which shoes go with which pants and how everyone looks good in a wrap dress. After arguing with me when I told her to try it on, the wrap dress that is, she apologized for her earlier comments as she carried it to the cash register.

In all honesty, Sarah and I have often joked that we have somewhat reversed gender roles in our relationship - not in the way you're thinking you sick bastards! She's good with electrical and mechanical things like hooking up the satellite and fixing the broken toilet, while I excel at, well, girly shit like picking outfits and interior design. Whatever, we're good with it.

My defense to it all, aside from the fact that I just have a generally outstanding sense of fashion and design is that I write for a Female Life / Style / Culture magazine at Passion.

What can I say? I'm just a diverse, metrosexual bastard with zero aptitude for socket wrenches and electronics.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

I Should Buy Shares In Chapters

The amount of money that I spend in that place is absolutely ree-dick-you-lous!

Our plan for the day was to head into school so Sarah could sort out her exam situation and then meet Chad and Jeremy - two guys from her nursing class - at Starbucks / Chapters for a coffee and chit-chat. Surprisingly, we were on time and that was even with a mid-morning nap session on the couch for the recuperating one.

We even got there before Jeremy, who arrived sans Chad as he apparently hit the bar somewhere around 1 o'clock... I knew I liked that crazy hippie for a reason.

Anywho, post Venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, we trolled the aisles. A couple weeks ago, we picked up this free gift card that had a mystery value attached to it for you to redeem whenever you spent $50 plus. Since we're boarding a plane later this week, we decided to make this our in-flight reading acquisition day which means I was in heaven, free to spend copious amounts of money on my favourite addiction not named cigarettes.

After helping Jeremy find the Cormac McCarthy books - he too wants to give No Country a read before seeing the movie - I'm quick to grab the items on my wishlist. Always been a big fan of the James Patterson Alex Cross series, so finding a paperback copy of Cross with a 30% off sticker is a great start. Knowing that Sarah's Mom will be sending us money to spend at Chapters early in the New Year since our VanCity trip has was demo'ed by the whole appendix thing, I decide pleasure reading is the best course of action and opt to leave the John Prendergast / Don Cheadle Not On Our Watch on the shelf for later. Besides, who wants to read about the genocide in Darfur on their holidays? Not I for one...

So instead I snatched up the latest Kevin Smith offering, My Boring-Ass Life. Been wanting to read it since it came out but just haven't been able to justify dropping $20 on a collection of his blogs, until now, as it's the perfect book for a time like this. Not at all serious, easy to read and something I can put down at any moment without forgetting the plot, as there isn't one. Plus, I'm a devote View Askew guy and this is all about those boys, so it's a good call.

Also picked up Jamie Oliver's latest - Cook with Jamie - which is both cook book and How To manual. It was also 50% off... KA-CHING! Toss in the required nonsense reading for the plane - GQ with Kanye on the cover for me, gossip rag for Sarah, plus a new Marian Keyes for her and we're at the counter with a bag full of books. Seriously, one of the Chapters guys came over and handed me a bag.

Get to the counter and the cashier totally up-sells us and I can't blame her. There was no way we shouldn't have scored an iRewards card and I have a laugh in my head about how easy the sale was, knowing what it's like after shilling Rewards Memberships by the dozens at The Block. Total comes to silver shy of sixty bones, with something like forty bucks worth of savings after redeeming our $5 giftcard (not surprisingly), iRewards discounts and sticker promo savings. This is the most money I have spent in one sitting in quite some time that didn't involve me thanking a waiter for their service afterwards.

* * * * *

So I've decided that once we get back, I'm going to take the time to sit down with someone and hash out where I can save money as a writer. Since I'm certain there are tax loopholes that I can work in my favour, it'll easily be worth the afternoon spent in some office figuring out what I can call "work related" from things like rent, money spent at Chapters (research?) and my Internet bill...

* * * * *

The asterisk as page break thing is a direct rip off of my man Dan Tobin at Bugs & Cranks. He's our BoSox writer, which means he was an arrogant prick throughout October, but on the whole, he's aces. Writes a mean blog himself too. Anyway, I mention this because I told him a couple weeks (months?) ago that I was going to steal something from his site; namely his Books I Read This Year list.

Admittedly, his is far more impressive than mine will possibly be, but that's because Dan is smarter than I am. Though we both read Hornby - everyone should - he also reads Gabriel Garcia Marquez while I read Silent Bob...

Why am I telling you this? I've got two books on the go and two more ready to knock out, so I'm starting the list now.

* * * * *

Sarah beat me at Scrabble again and this one stings more than normal.

I started the game with Bingo. For you non-Scrabble geeks, a bingo is when you use all your letters to make a word, thereby getting an extra 50 points. So yeah, I was out to a nice little lead and she slowly but surely clawed her way back into contention before dropping QUIZ on a double word score right at the end of the game.

Final Score: Sarah 276, Spencer 256... at least I have Monopoly.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Things I Learned This Week

Once again, it's been an interesting week, you know, with emergency surgery for Sarah and all.

Here we go...

1. Things Change
If things went according to plan, we'd be in Vancouver right now, just finishing up dinner and enjoying the company of Sarah's mom and brother and playing with her dog Skippy. Instead, we're sitting on the couch in our living room watching Iron Chef: America planning our trip into school tomorrow to reschedule her exams.

2. I Am The Monopoly Champion... So Far
We bought it this afternoon when we went fro groceries. We started playing once we got home and got settled. At the time Sarah threw in the towel, I owed all but three properties on the board. I almost don't want to play anymore because I'm sure Sarah is only going to improve.

3. The Patriots are Going Undefeated
Even better is that they are going to go undefeated by kicking the living crap out of everyone. Watching them smash Pittsburgh this afternoon was one of those games where you wonder "Who could possibly beat this team?" The answer is no one...

4. Miami Won't Win A Game
Which actually makes for an interesting storyline this season in the NFL, but that doesn't make any Miami fans feel better. Seriously, this is possibly the worst team I have seen in my NFL watching lifetime.

5. Chris Rock is A Lot Smarter Than You Think
He's a lot smarter than I thought too. Watched him on a two-hour Actors Studio this afternoon and listening to his breakdown of comedians, Stand Up and the usage of the N-word by black people was outstanding. You people need to take my advice and watch this show. Artists are inspiring, even for non-artist people.

6. Jane Is Warming Up To Me
Jane is Sarah's Mom and she didn't like me off the bat. What could it have possibly been? The smoking, the bankruptcy, the quick move to Newfoundland to be with her daughter, who knows? But after having spent the past couple days looking after her little girl and having a couple nice conversations on the phone, I think she likes me a little more. Or maybe just dislikes me a little less. Either way, it's a victory.

7. I've Developed A Love of Sleeping
I had never been that guy who liked to sleep until all hours of the day, but moving out here to The Cove has changed that. It's a good thing I didn't have anything to do any of these last couple days, because I haven't moved out of bed before 10 AM once and the only reason I get up in the first place is because peeing the bed isn't acceptable at my age...

8. The Internet is My Home
Let's see, there are three websites I write for, 10 Fantasy teams on the go, Facebook, ESPN, Craigslist and so on and so on and so on. There are even more sites that I could be working for (Suite 101 is a new possibility) but do I really need to be doing any more right now? Seriously, I spend a bare minimum of three hours a day on the 'Net.

9. The Excitement for Issue #2 is Insane
I have my assignments - a feature on Celebrity Comebacks and a profile on my friend Jeff Woodrow's company Joy Apparel - plus there is a good chance that my picture and bio will be making it's first appearance in the contributors pages. No timeline yet, but with the success of Issue #1, both personally and commercially thus far, I can't wait for that day to come.

10. Good Music Turns Me On
The Friday feature Soundtrack of My Life is my personal favourite here because sitting during the day and coming up with each track is something I love. Flipping through the 1500 songs I have on my computer and thinking about the relationship I have with the ones that strike me is inspiring and then hearing things like the crescendo in Stop Me or some of the key elements of the next couple tracks - yes, they're pick already - just gets me fired up.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Of Super Spies, Teenage Wizards and House Flipping

Don't get me wrong - I would very much rather be airborn on route to Vancouver at this time instead of sitting in The Cove, but the situation being what it is, it's been a pretty enjoyable day all around.

Since there isn't a great deal Sarah is able to do, the best bet has been nonstop movies and television, with little naps and trips to the kitchen and bathroom sprinkled in when necessary.

We've watched a bunch of home renovation stuff over the course of the day. From an Extreme Makeover Home Edition marathon to several episodes of Flip That House, one thing is certain: I now have a wealth of information to write about over at the newest addition to the Spencer Kyte Writing Portfolio, a Real Estate website called Nudigs. A friend operates the site and asked me to contribute and so far, I have one article up for your enjoyment. Besides the house flipping shows, my bedouin lifestyle really comes in handy for this one...

Started in on the Harry Potter series today, as the fifth installment comes out Tuesday and I grabbed it from work. It was a handful of years ago that I watched the first three episodes with my friend Chrissy, so I don't remember a lot other than names and general themes. One down, four to go... not sure if we'll get through them all or not. Wish us luck...

The series we should have nabbed from Blockbuster was The Bourne Series, as Ultimatum comes out Tuesday as well and I am a far bigger fan of International Super Spies than Teenage Wizards. I absolutely loved the first Bourne, enjoyed the second and having watched the third early this AM must say that three was good and I only hope they make the next installment too. It would only be right since there are two books left and all...

We're taking a break from the routine we've set forth today and watching one of our favourite movies of all time, Love Actually. Could you imagine if Hugh Grant really was Prime Minister of England... How awesome would that be?!

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Stop Me
Artist: Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather
Album: Version

The most recent of any of the songs that is bound to end up in this feature, this one earned a spot the first time I heard it. I fell in love with it instantly and remain in love with it six months later. Every time I hear it I get the chills; it's one of those songs for me.

This tag team effort between super producer / deejay Ronson and Australian crooner Merriweather comes from Ronson's latest work Version, which I told you about a couple weeks back on The Hip List Rundown and is undoubtedly the best mash-up I have ever heard and that is saying a lot because I have the Jay Z / Linkin Park Collision Course album on blast regularly. Taking The Smiths "Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before" and The Supremes "You Keep Me Hangin' On," Ronson constructs an incredible song around Merriweather's outstanding vocals.

But the best part of all for me is the building orchestral section at the beginning of the song. It's starts out with Merriweather cooing the opening words as this soft sample of the original track starts to filter in accompanied by some new strings. Honestly, I think it's the combination of the tambourine and the funky bassline that is laid down that does it. Yes, I pay attention to these things.

And it builds and builds and builds until...

A funky booming crescendo of dance worthy awesomeness with a pronounced drumbeat that just makes you - well me - full on bob my head, tap my foot and sing along everytime.

But it's not just about music of it - which is saying a lot because the music of it is outstanding. Anyone who hasn't been fortunate enough to have Morrissey introduced to their lives in some way shape or form needs to go out and fire up a little bit of The Smiths and his own solo work. Oh yeah, The Supremes where pretty bad ass too!

Seriously everyone - go get this song. Trust me. You will not regret it. Get the originals too...

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dishonour Roll: Sarah's Former Appendix

I know I said last week that I would stop naming non-humans in the Dishonour Roll, but honestly, this one takes the cake!

Laying in bed last night when I got home from work, Sarah complained of minimal pain in her abdomen, which we both credited to a combination of the Kentucky Duck that we ate during the afternoon and a general not feeling well. She joked that she might have appendicitis...

She really is going to make a great nurse because she nailed this diagnosis.

After writing her exam this morning, she went to work at Student Health, felt kind of crappy and decided to get checked out. The doctor at the clinic sent her to Emerg, where she called me at work and told me the news. Three hours later, a surgeon is telling her they're going to take it out, just like that... and they did. Apparently it takes like twenty minutes.

So now, Saturday's flight is a no go and we're rethinking our vacation as a whole. Instead of getting out to Van City for sushi, family and friends, we'll be hanging out in The Cove for movies, rest and minimal movement in and around the abdominal region, all thanks to a little organ that you technically don't even need in the first place...

Stupid Appendix!

* * * * *
A couple quick hits before I shut it down after an exceptionally long day:

  • My fellow Bug David Chalk read my "Oscar Speech" as he called it about getting published and told me to "act like I've been there before." Dave, the point is that I haven't been there before and there is only one first time, so I'ma be excited and emotional and thankful as shit. It's who I am...
  • There is this other dude we write with at B&C named Steve Hulkower - I don't like him much. He likes to pick apart all arguments that don't fall in line with his views and does it in a real smug sorta way. And don't worry - I'm not talking about people behind their backs here; I told him all this earlier today.
  • No more KFC, ever! That shit blew up Sarah's appendix and ruined our vacation. If Colonel Sanders was alive, I'd fly to Kentucky and kiss his, I said, kick his ass, yessir I would.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Rundown: It's All About The Wordplay

Yes, I just used a Jason Mraz (Mr. A to the Z himself) lyric as the title of today's post, but trust me, it is quite appropriate. It's Wednesday and it's time for a Rundown...

Top Five Favourite Words

5. Balls
And no, I don't mean basket or base... though I am a fan of those too! I mean good ole nuts. I use this word so often that I have convinced Sarah that it would make the perfect name for our future dog because if we don't name him (and it will be a him) Balls, he'll develop a complex for sure because I say it so often. Things are referred to as "hot as balls," I say "Ah balls!" when something doesn't go right and just the word itself is good for a childish giggle every now and again. Go ahead, try it... say balls.

4. Passion
It is very fitting that I write for a magazine of same name. Not until I found this writing thing did I really know what it was like to be passionate about something; to feel that deep gutteral desire to be doing that thing you love and the sense of accomplishment one feels from finding success in those endeavours. There is a reason the Greeks used to ask of a man when he died, "Did he have passion?"

3. Knowledge
Simply because there is huge difference between being knowledgeable and being smart. I know people who are insanely booksmart and have zero knowledge to speak of and vice versa. You can acquire knowledge in countless ways and I honestly believe that a portion of life should be about our never-ending quest for knowledge. I always want to learn more, whether it is about a topic I know little about or something I am well-versed in. Knowledge is power...

2. Fuck
The most dynamic, multi-purposed word in the world is easily number two in my books and how could it not be? Think of all the ways it can be used or better yet, watch this video that illustrates them for you you fucking fucker!

1. Free
Liberated... without restrictions and borders and llimitations... able to choose your own path and make your own adventure... void of persecution... without a price, monetary or otherwise... original and unrehearsed... spontaneous... free.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's Official: I'm A Writer!

With all due respect to my boss at Bugs & Cranks Jesse Pugh, my man Doug "DC Scrap" Scheckler at Epic Carnival and you my dedicated seven followers here at this blog, picking up the first magazine to ever put my name in print earlier today is the mark of my official foray into the writing world.

My man Smitty told me it would be a bit of an overpowering feeling seeing my name in print for the first time. He wasn't lying; I welled up just flipping to page 46 of Passion Magazine to see the words "By E. Spencer Kyte" on the glossy page of my Hive Mobility Profile. Then to flip through the next set of pages and see my second piece in the magazine, a beautifully laid out Christmas tech gifts piece called iChristmas - my title, rather ingenious I know - it was more than I have ever experienced. I was like a first time dad showing off pictures of his newborn son today to everyone who came into work, flashing them the cover, opening to my articles, preening like the proud Papa I am...

Now I have clippings!

One thing I do want to make clear though - this serves as the "official" foray only because some in the industry are too blind to acknowledge and understand the value and significance of the online and blogging industries. My real first step into the writing world came courtesy of Jesse Pugh at Bugs and Cranks and he knows how eternally thankful I am for getting that opportunity. Everything I have achieved and done in writing since then has been through my work at Bugs...

Now I gotta get sentimental and sappy for a second, so leave if you're not interested:

I wouldn't be where I am - published and moving forward - without the encouragement and constant support of my beautiful girlfriend Sarah. And no Brad, I'm not just angling for more touching...

To my lost friend Chrissy who first encouraged and pushed my penchant for writing I thank you. I have no idea if she reads this stuff, but she was a huge part of me getting her, so she needs to be acknowledged.

To The Bugs: Fuck you all... just kidding. Your work makes me a better writer and pushes me to do the best I can with each post and piece. Thank you for that.

As stupid as this sounds after having rambled on as long as I have here already, words can't describe how I feel today. It's some combination of rewarded, blessed, fortunate and motivated... and a little bit drunk from the bottle of Pinot Gregio I've drank since I got home!


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Monday, December 3, 2007

The Complicated Details of Trying to Make Life Easier

There is no doubt about it - simplifying your life is a complicated, convoluted, difficult task that takes far more time than it actually should. This I know first hand.

We're getting a new car because mine is The Shitbox - it leaks when it rains too hard, the seat is rusted in place due to all the water that has collected at the base and needs a whole lot of work that isn't really worth doing.

We're moving to a new apartment in town because living in Portugal Cove just isn't as good a fit as we originally hoped it would be. Plus, living in the city is just a whole helluva lot more convenient for the work/school dynamic and let's be honest, having a place 100% unto ourselves is more to our anti-social nature.

However, you would think that since we are (a) being given a replacement car for The Shitbox as a gift and (b) secured a new place rather quickly and at a decent price that all of this would be a fairly easy transition. That is where you would be wrong.

Shuffling the new used car out to Newfoundland and getting everything setup has been an entire day in the figuring, literally. Between Sarah and I we've been on the phone all day with either her dad - the person giving us the car (Thanks Garry!) - or my insurance provider to figure out the best possible solution to the owner/insurer/primary driver trifecta. It's 3 pm and we finally have it all sorted out, you know, other than actually getting the car out here, registering it and getting a policy in place. Basically, we have a plan...

Moving has it's own set of monkey wrenches being thrown at it. The place we're moving into - a cute little above ground basement apartment - is under construction. The ugly living room carpet has been pulled up to reveal beautiful original hardwood floors, the bathroom has been redone completely and well, pretty much everything is being revamped, which is awesome. Except that we wanted to snag the place a little early to facilitate an easier transition out of our current dwelling.

That's not going to happen, in part because we're not going to be back in town until the 21st, but still. Renovations may not be done which means our window of opportunity for moving gets smaller. Where we were going to have a full nine days to pack, slowly deliver boxes to the new house and get setup there has now shrunk to maybe 7 days, during which period I will be working 40 hours, still meeting writing deadlines and Sarah will be prepping for another semester of Nursing School.

Couple that with the unfortunate but inevitable awkwardness of moving out of a house we moved into with a friend and you get the picture. Oh yeah, we're dog-sitting from the time we get back until Boxing Day-ish too, which further limits what we can and cannot do.

My Bedouin Lifestyle of the past eight years has taught me a great deal, but nothing more important than this: find a place you want to set up roots and do so, as moving around is a real pain in the ass. Get a good car and keep it - you only get what you pay for and what you put into it, so invest wisely. Most importantly, find an incredibly patient partner who puts up with your being a broke-ass would be writer who does more for you than she even knows and thank the stars for her every day...

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Things I Learned This Week

It's been an interesting week to say the least.

1. Being the Bigger Person Sucks!
You know when those situations come up where someone does something stupid to you and all you want to do is lose it but you can't? That was my Friday afternoon. Even worse is when you can't even spend 24 hours avoiding the bullshit because your stuck going to work and the issue is obviously going to come up. It's not like you can refuse to shake someone's hand when they apologize, even when their apology is the most hollow, self-serving thing you've ever heard.

2. I Have a Different View of Apologies than Some
I dunno, but to me, saying "I'm sorry" is more for the person who screwed up than the one who was slighted. While uttering those two little words makes the person who effed up feel better, it doesn't do anything for the person who was wronged in my eyes. What really matters is seeing after the fact that you understand what you did wrong and you don't do it again. Sure it's nice to hear, but I'd rather see you do better than hear those words.

3. Sarah Really is the Scrabble Champion
We sat down to play this afternoon and at one point I cheated - switched up a couple letters while she wasn't in the room so I could make a better word. I know... I'm a horrible person. Anyway, she still ended up beating me by 20 points. Even when I stack the deck, she still gets pocket rockets and cleans me out.

4. Some People Have No Social Etiquette
When a group of people are all buying drinks, isn't it customary for everyone to just take turns? And another thing: if you're going out - even if it wasn't all that planned - have some money in your pockets or go to the bank. Bringing five bucks to the table just doesn't cut it.

5. Our Vacation Couldn't be Coming at a Better Time
I just really need to get away from this island for a while. Besides the whole situation vaguely described in #1 & #2, it's supposed to sleet all week, The Shitbox is on her last legs and I'm craving a little time in a more metropolitan area. So heading to Van City next weekend is just what the doctor ordered...

6. If this is the Voice of Pop Culture in Canada, we're screwed!
I picked up Naked Eye magazine this week, who claims to be the voice of Pop Culture in Canada or something like that. I know there are difficulties to staying current when you're a quarterly magazine, but nothing should stop you from making sure there are no spelling / grammar mistakes in your final published product.

7. Consequently, My Future Got a Little Brighter
Not that it wasn't bright already, but c'mon, knowing that "The Voice of Pop Culture in Canada" put out a shitty mag with dated stories, grammatical errors and some of the same stuff that I covered in this month's issue of Passion very much works in my favour.

8. No Grey's Really Threw Me Off This Week
Yes, I watch Grey's Anatomy; religiously actually. This week was a rerun and I had no idea what to do with my Thursday night. Apparently I've become that regimented when it comes to this show that when it's not on, I'm a little lost. Thankfully, I work 9-5 Thursday and will be home for the conclusion to the "Seth Green's Neck Exploded" Episode.

9. My Mind Works in Mysterious Ways

  1. A couple came in on Saturday night looking for "a Christmas movie about a bunch of girls. Well it's not really a Christmas movie but it's always on around Christmas because there is a Christmas scene. D'you know what it's called?" If your first thought was Little Women, we're a lot alike... you would have been right too.
  2. My friend Kory Steward's name on MSN yesterday was God Shamgod and I was the only one who got it. Apparently no one else remembers 5'10" NYC Point Guards who played at Providence and had a cup of coffee in The Association....
10. You know you're domestic when...
Someone asks you what you want for Christmas and your first thoughts are new towels, a Scrabble Dictionary, a couple of books and some new wine glasses. When did I stop asking for money, clothes and CDs? Where did that guy go?

Boston Celtics Update: 14-2, 9-0 at Home... I know, I'm a moron!

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: I Used to Love H.E.R
Artist: Common
Album: Resurrection

If Change is the song that I live my life by - and it is - than no song better encapsulates my love of music, especially Hip Hop, than I Used to Love H.E.R.

Long before he teamed up with Kanye West and began gaining the kind of critical acclaim with his last two albums - 2005's Be and 2007's Finding Forever - Common was still known as Common Sense and he penned what to me is the greatest Hip Hop track ever. Seriously.

Quite simply, this song is timeless. Where a growing segment of today's hip hop is made up of one hit wonders and flash in the pan artists, so much so that Nas proclaimed Hip Hop is Dead, this song and this artist speak to the power of good music and what it means to have a connection to that music.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Google the song and see the list of praise this joint has gotten over the years. Or pop the movie Brown Sugar in your DVD player and watch as I Used to Love H.E.R is mentioned as the two main characters sit in Central Park reminiscing about the first time they heard some of the iconic songs in Hip Hop.

The connection between the movie and the song runs deeper than that though, as both personify Hip Hop, illustrating how it can become something so much more than just a genre of music, a sound and a culture. It becomes something you have a relationship with. It can become almost human.

For all the sharp lyrics and deft descriptions floated by Common throughout the track, it has always been the first few bars that hooked me:

I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
She has been there for me, as will be shown throughout this feature over the coming months, and I know that she always will be.

There is no catchy hook. There is no stylized beat produced with the purpose of hooking you in despite hollow lyrics and marginal skills. There is only Common, jazzy sample of George Benson's "The Changing World" and his open love letter to one of the most important people in his life...Hip Hop.

I Used to Love H.E.R. I still do and I always will.

* * * * *
Sorry I'm a day late... there was drinking that needed to be done last night.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dishonour Roll: Newfoundland

Normally, this segment is reserved for actual people, but today - and today only - I'm including an entire province.

Now before I go any further, allow me to once again issue a disclaimer:

  • There are a number of people here that I am very fond of and they all know who they are
  • It's damn beautiful out here and you should come see it
That being said, what the hell is wrong with this stupid island?!

As mentioned in a previous installment of this blog, Newfoundlanders have an problem when it comes to employing Mainlanders like me. The proof of this extended to new heights yesterday when my manager, a fellow mainlander, informed me that one of our customers was asking a fellow Lackluster Video employee "Why we're out here?" as if you need a special pass to be allowed on the island.

Now, I could see if I was out here doing nothing, collecting a government cheque and being a drain on the economy and society, but I'm working and spending my hard earned in my community. I'm trying to give back.

Secondly, for a group who seems to be so up in arms about mainlanders coming to their island they don't seem to have any problem with the thousands - literally thousands - of Newfoundlanders who are abroad right now earning their livings. Whether it be the scores of people working in Fort Mac or the countless Newfies who trek to Ontario to find better opportunities... nothing like a nice double standard to make you feel welcomed!

But the employment gripe is one that has already been covered, so let's move on to some other points shall we?

Everything gets here late. It takes six weeks for mail to get from Ontario to Newfoundland, even longer if it's coming from Vancouver and apparently not at all when it's coming from England. This normally wouldn't be a problem, except a certain someone (uh, me...) is waiting to see his name in print on the shelves of Chapters.

Earlier today I cleared up my worries that the magazine was pushed back in an email with my Editor who assures me that our distributor has sent out our issue to all our retailers. That means one of two things is taking place:
  1. Lazy ass Chapters hasn't put it on the shelf yet...
  2. It's sitting at Marine Atlantic somewhere because the transport hasn't gotten here yet
Either way, it's sucks and is a Newfoundland issue. This type of shit doesn't happen on The Mainland. A magazine is supposed to be out Tuesday, you can go to the store and get it Tuesday...

No one knows how to drive here either. I don't mean in a literal sense, like everyone rides a bike or takes the bus, but in a "they drive like effing morons" kind of way. Seriously, these people would die instantaneously on any of the 400 Series Highways, if not from fear alone than from their horrific driving.

The speed limit is a suggestion. You don't have to stay five kilometers under the posted speed, especially when that speed is 40...

Sunday Drives:
They're called such because they are supposed to occur on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, not every day of the week at all hours. Believe it or not, some of us are in a hurry and have places to go, people to see, things to do, so either speed up or get the hell outta my way so I can at least go 60...

Left Turns: it's a lot easier to make the turn if you creep into the intersection a little like they teach you in Driver's Ed... staying behind the line at the light means you take longer to actually make the turn when you can and less people are able to make the turn with each light. Therefore, I end up sitting through four sets of lights because one car goes through each light, no one plays the extra car and turns during the yellow-to-red progression and I end up swearing a great deal.

Merging: You don't slow down to wait for someone to let you in... you speed up to the flow of traffic and go from there. No one is going to drive you off the road, but you might cause an accident by jamming on your breaks and waiting for someone to do the same so you can get over one lane.

Random Stopping: Don't get me wrong, it's a nice gesture, but that nice gesture is going to cause an accident some day. Whether it be stopping to let a pedestrian cross the road or not following proper driving / traffic protocol, the random stopping is probably the most dangerous of all Newfie Driving Errors...

Add to all this the unfortunate accent / drawl that some Newfoundlanders possess that could make even the smartest person sound like an idiot, the misuse of simple English and incorrect grammar of common statements like "I loves it", "Where ya to?" and "Whattya at?"...

I hate to say it... it pains me to say it... but Newfoundland has found a place on the Dishonour Roll.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Rundown: One Sick Puppy

So I woke up this morning feeling like ass and it hasn't subsided since. Thankfully, I'm off tomorrow, which affords me to opportunity to do nothing but the five things that make up today's Rundown...

Top Five Things To Do When I'm Sick

5. Sleep
Pretty much the most obvious of the list. Who doesn't like staying in bed all day, sick or not?

4. Watch Old Movies
Since no one can sleep all day, there doesn't need to be any getting out of bed and old movies are the perfect solution. You've seen them hundreds of times, so if you do pass out - or need to run to the bathroom - who cares? Personal favourites include Pretty Woman (it's the only movie we owned when I was in high school), Thank You For Smoking and High Fidelity.

3. A Nice, Hot Soak in the Tub
I understand that following up Pretty Woman with a nice, hot soak in the tub is going to make some question my masculinity, but I don't give a damn... It's not like I'm adding in lilac bath oils or having a bunch of candles lit or anything like that; I'm just saying a nice hot bath soothes the aches and pains is all.

2. Read Magazines
I'm quite certain that trashy magazines and sports books like SI and SLAM were created for days like I'm sure tomorrow is going to be. Easy to digest, quick to read and requiring absolutely no mental effort whatsoever... just the way we like them.

1. Being A Total Sook
The only thing better than the four that came first, is getting to stay in bed and have someone look after you by bringing you your favourite movies and trashy magazines, then drawing you a bath when you finally wake up from your mid-afternoon siesta. In an interesting twist, Sarah is off almost all day tomorrow... SWEET!

* * * * *

Update to yesterday: Still no Passion in St. John's, plus the website doesn't go up until tomorrow or so it says today... if I get up in the morning and it says Friday, I'm going to start worrying.

* * * * *

ESPN has a writer named Jemele Hill, who I have to say, makes me angrier than any one person in the world has to date.

Ms. Hill likes to interject race into every single article she writes, whether it belongs there or not. I agree that sometimes race is a factor, but her post yesterday on the tragic death of Washington Redskins Safety Sean Taylor was not the time or place. I was impressed with her coverage until this:

Although study after study shows black men are more likely to be victims of crime, rarely do they receive victim treatment. When black athletes are crime victims, the undertone seems to be they somehow were at fault. Eddy Curry, Antoine Walker and Bucs cornerback Phillip Buchanon all have been victims of home invasions that seem as orchestrated as the one that claimed Taylor's life. In March of 2006, Buchanon was stripped naked and tied up by seven men in ski masks who robbed him and jammed a gun in his mouth. This past July, Curry and his family were bound by duct tape as men robbed him at gunpoint in his suburban Chicago home. The Pistons' Flip Murray narrowly escaped the same fate, slamming the door on two gunmen on his porch before he called police. Yet we seem to think it's much more likely a black athlete is holding the gun instead of staring down the barrel of one.

I haven't heard anyone saying Sean Taylor was to blame or at fault for the unfortunate circumstances that took place, nor did I hear anything like that in regards to Curry, Buchanon or any of the other athletes mentioned. The simple fact is that Ms. Hill didn't have an appropriate angle to play the race card from, so she created one on her own.

To me - and I know this might seem like the easy opinion and notion, but whatever - race will become less of an issue when people stop making it an issue, from both sides. Not everything in this world is racially motivated. Someone at The World Wide Leader needs to make that clear to Jemele Hill.

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