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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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yeah, So, This Sucks...

Apparently, magazines take longer to get to Newfoundland than expected.

Passion Magazine was supposed to hit newstands today and there is a chance that it did in other parts of Canada, but it sure as hell didn't in St. John's. Not that I'm overly disappointed, because it's not like I got an email this afternoon that said, "Hey Spencer, just kidding, you're not in it and we'd never publish you" or anything like that; it's still coming, I just have to wait longer. So I bought something else instead and it's time to go read that now.

I'll update the situation tomorrow night... worst case scenario, you can check out the website tomorrow.

OUT / ONE

RIP Sean Taylor...

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Monday, November 26, 2007

My Exercise in Narcissism


You know what's fun? Building a self-referential Facebook profile of yourself...

That's how I've spent the better part of my morning, creating the E.Spencer Kyte Facebook page, where for the low low price of nothing, you too can click a button and become a fan of little, old me.

All joking aside, this is something I have been thinking of doing since my colleague from Bugs & Cranks AJ hooked up a B&C Page on The 'book. It's just a spot where you can collect updates on what's going on, like, say, I dunno, the relaunch of Passion Magazine tomorrow featuring none other than me! Sorry, I'm a little excited.

I decided to go with a Facebook site over MySpace for a couple reasons:

  1. I'm always on Facebook anyway and I have a lot more friends there than on MySpace
  2. MySpace seems to send me a lot of porn / "Hi, Spencer, I saw your profile" crap
  3. I really do think that Facebook has the staying power necessary to become an outstanding networking and social interaction medium
Plus, once I accumulate clippings and pictures and whatnot, it gives me somewhere easy to post everything, I can run a link to the four sites from the page and if you have any incriminating pictures of me, you now have somewhere to put them for everyone to see. I know someone out there from the St. Jerome's days has a picture of me dressed as Britney Spears...

Anyhoo - drop by the new page, keep checking in here and if you ask me about the Britney Spears thing, I'll tell you...

OUT / ONE

P.S. If you can tell me who the picture is of and why it's here, you win a prize... I don't know what it is yet, but I'll think of something.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Things I Learned This Week


1. Sarah is The Scrabble Champ
Seriously, I've beaten her once in roughly 20 games. She is incredible. If there is an open double or triple, she'll find a word to make there and it's usually something good. I've even recruited her as my Scrabble coach when I'm playing on Facebook with the other word game geeks I know.


2. I Am Definitely Allergic to Cats
All this week I was waking up in the middle of the night having coughing fits and I said it was due to our roommate's cat Shabby having taken up residence in our room as of late. Sarah, the future nurse, thought there were additional causes, namely my being a smokey bastard. So last night we banished the cat from the room, washed all the sheets and settled in to bed and d'you know what happened? Nothing... I slept like a baby. Stupid cute cat...

3. My Car Knows I'm Getting Rid of Her
Yes, my car is a female. Anyway, Sarah's dad has been kind enough to give us his car (kind meaning he gets to buy a new car) which means the old Shitbox is no longer needed and I think she has figured it out. We're driving our new, used car out from Ontario in two weeks and over the last two days, The Shitty has been making some awful scary sounds. Hopefully she'll last the next fourteen days.

4. I Have a Serious Coffee Problem
And by problem, I mean addiction. Is four coffees a day too much? I don't think there is a time of day that I would say no to grabbing a coffee, whether it is made here at the house in the morning, purchased at the Timmy's across the street from work or served up with a fancy name from the baristas at Starbucks. I've had two today already and I know a third will be acquired on my way to work...

5. Having a Schedule Makes Things Easier
As you may or may not have noticed, there are a few more weekly segments popping up around here and I have to tell you, it sure does make coming up with something to write a whole lot easier. I mean, sure, I still have to come up with a top five list for Wednesdays and a song every Friday, but that's easier than picking from any of the random thoughts traveling through my head. Who am I kidding? I'm just lazy.

6. Joe Kennedy's Death Scares the Shit Outta Me
The former Devil Ray, Rockie, Athletic and Blue Jay died suddenly earlier in the week at the age of 28. He was a Major League Baseball player, which means he was probably in fairly good shape. I'm a 29-year-old who has been smoking for 13 years and no one would ever utter the words "In Pretty Good Shape" in reference to me. Always makes me a little worried when stuff like this happens... but I still haven't quit smoking.

7. Update: Boston Celtics, 11-1...
Yep, seems like putting those three guys who haven't won anything individually together is working just fine. In other news, I'm an idiot!

8. Sarah Really Loves Christmas
We were walking through the mall yesterday looking for a bridal shower gift for one of her friends when, in HomeSense, I saw a miniature Christmas tree and suggested we buy it for our room. I've never seen her face light up so quickly - not when I first told her I loved her, not when I told her I was moving out to this frozen wasteland, never. As soon as we got home, on went the Christmas music, out came the lights and up went the tree. She hasn't stopped smiling yet either.

9. I Really Don't Understand How People Don't Like Sushi
Out with some friends yesterday - before hitting the mall - the idea of going to grab some sushi came up and we headed down to Sun's. Lemme tell you, it was perfect: Miso soup, Green Tea, a Red Dragon Roll and a 6 piece platter with California Rolls. How anyone can dislike sushi is beyond me. It doesn't taste fishy, it's fairly good for you and you don't end up getting the McSweats afterwards. Not liking sushi is definitely a non-starter from here on out.

10. Launch is in TWO DAYS!
To quote Blue Rodeo, "Hey, hey, I guess it hasn't hit me yet..." but I'm sure it will when I head to Chapters after work Tuesday. For the first time ever, I'll be able to pick up a magazine off the rack, open it up and see something I have written, not to mention a picture and bio as well. I'll tell you all about it Tuesday night after we get back from our Celebration Dinner.

That's All Folks! Play nice...

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Layout, Same Old Blog

Yeah, so I was kinda bored / having a few drinks at the computer tonight and decided to mess around with the layout. What that really means is that I clicked through the options your given on Blogger and pick the one that was the least, um, how can I say this... chick-like. I know, I am fairly chick like when it comes to some things - shopping, clothes, decorating, man crushes - but the layout of my blog is different and this is the one I liked the most.

One of these days (read: when I'm less broke) I'll shell out the required bucks to get my talented friend Jeremy to build be something sharp and to my specifics, but until that day comes, this is what we have.

Lemme know what you think: about the layout, the weather, politics, anything.

See you tomorrow for Things I Learned This Week.

"The ESKimo" (A new nickname bestowed upon me by David Chalk of Bugs & Cranks)

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Good People, Bad Business


Things on the writing front aren't always as wonderful as they may seem, if it ever seems wonderful to you out there. Sure, I get to sit around in my housecoat looking at the Internet all day and call it research, but that doesn't mean I don't have other shit to do too...

Believe it or not, I don't sit around the house waiting for the people I am working with to call. I'm more of a schedule guy, so if we don't have plans in advance, I'm out, especially when I remain underemployed at Blockbuster with only two days off a week. Time is precious and I'm not at anyone's beck and call... except maybe Sarah's.

So this rant really goes in two different directions.

The first is that if you want to work on something, you have to be willing to put in the time. Deciding the day of that you want to get together just doesn't cut it. Like I said, I'm a schedule type of dude. If I don't hear from you by Friday, don't expect me to be available on Saturday, that's just how it goes.

As much as this is my passion and what I want to do, it is also a business for me and time is therefore a very valuable commodity, especially when the work is pro bono. Not that I expect everyone to shell out for my mediocre services, but understand that the time I spend working on one project takes away from the time available for others. Since the others are the paying gigs, there needs to be a great amount of commitment and dedication to the project.

Yes, we all have lives full of things that are far more important than sitting down and writing, but if it's something you want to do and every time we talk you want to discuss the urgency of getting it done, call me mid-week and make concrete plans. That is the only way the work will ever get done.

Avenue Two is home to two men for me - former Toronto Raptor and current Houston Rocket Mike James and ESPN Senior Baseball Writer Jayson Stark. I know - look at me name dropping...deal!

Anyhow, their stories are very similar. Both are people that at one point or another I got in touch with about conducting an interview and both were quick to say yes and excited about the prospects.

Basically, after agreeing initially, I put in work on coming up with questions, prepping the pieces and getting set to do the actual interview. And then nothing.

A week goes by... nothing.

Another week... nothing, so I send a "Just Checking In" email.

Still nothing.

Eventually, Mike James' agent, whom I had been dealing with all along, just stopped taking my phone calls. Jayson Stark hasn't even been that courteous.

Now both are probably outstanding human beings and I know that they are busy men with busy lives and I'm just some hack with a keyboard in BF, Idaho who wants to interview them, but c'mon:

HOW HARD IS IT TO SEND A "SORRY, BUT I'M GONNA PASS" EMAIL?!

That's all it takes. 37 seconds at a keyboard to tell me that the questions sucked, were too long, you're too busy or you never wanted to do it in the first place and things would be fine. I honestly wouldn't have any problem with that; I too have lots on my plate and no time for interviews... just do things the right way.

Tip your waiter, sign every autograph you can and get back to people if you say you're going to do something with them. It shows class and professionalism and it goes for the Senior Baseball guy at The World Wide Leader and the Shoot-First Point Guard of the Houston Rockets as much as it does for the guy who is just starting out.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Soundtrack of My Life


Welcome to the latest weekly segment where each week you'll find out a little more about me through the songs that mean the most to me. Also, after a couple of months, you'll have one hell of a mixed tape!

Song: Change
Artist:
Blind Melon
Album:
Blind Melon, 1992


Remember The Bee Girl? That's Blind Melon...

The band caught the attention of the masses with their catchy single No Rain and the even more memorable video that featured a little girl dressed in a bee costume randomly dancing around in an unnamed city until finally arriving at a field full of fellow dancing Bee People.

Tucked away on that album, which went four times platinum, is the song Change. Though it originally caught my ear because of the harmonica at the beginning and the bluesy guitar solo in the bridge, when I sat down and started to actually listen to the lyrics, everything clicked. To this day, the quote that I use to embody my beliefs, ideas and goals in life is a lyric from this song. Since you can't take up an entire page with a quote, for the most part, I've always shortened the lyrics down, but now that I have this little platform of mine right here, the full verse goes as follows:

And when you feel life ain't worth living
You've got to stand up and
Take a look around you look up way to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
Keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin' it's time to die.
And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
some ways we'll work and other ways we'll play.
But I know we can't all stay here forever,
So I want to write my words on the face of today.
And then they'll paint it


I always use the last bit, for obvious reasons, but really, the whole thing is remarkably true and poignant I think. Then again, I'm biased because I'm the guy who decided at 26 that he wanted to be a writer even though he had no formal training or background and has just been trying to live out his dream ever since...

This song also carries with it two very different memories for me.

The first is hearing the news of Shannon Hoon's death. Hoon was the lead singer of Blind Melon - and also the back-up singer / Second Axl in the G'n'R video for Don't Cry - who was discovered dead of a drug overdose on the band's tour bus on October 21, 1995. The band had just released their follow-up album, the very underrated Soup, and suddenly, something very promising just stopped.

Memory #2 is of my first ever live solo performance behind a microphone. We always had these little Coffee House nights at the college I went to and after balking at getting on stage countless times - and having one very forgettable performance two years before with a couple friends - I decided to give Change a try. Much thanks to Carl Prey for doing a helluva job on the guitar all those years ago...

That's it. Track One, Side One of the Spencer Kyte Mix Tape...

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dishonour Roll: Dina Lohan


Dishonour Roll is the new Thursday feature where each week, one deserving mouth-breather will be taken to task for whatever reasons I see fit.

Something tells me that Dina Lohan paid way more attention to Amy Poehler than her daughter Lindsay during the filming of Mean Girls. And not the real Amy Poehler, but Poehler's character, the mother of alpha Plastic Regina George. You know, the one who's not a real mom, but more like a cool mom.

Sadly enough, she'll tell you the same thing. By you, I mean Harper's Magazine, where she said she's more like a sister to Lindsay.

Guess what Dina? You're not her sister. You're her mother. You're also her biggest enabler, because you would rather be her sister and collect as much residual celebrity as you can while your daughter spirals out of control.

Well congratulations - you've done it! You have your own show in the works. By the way, how's Lindsay doing? That's right, she's a cokehead, a booze hound and has seen more shaft than your average elevator and she's what, 21? Don't tell me - the media and society are to blame right?

D'you know who is really to blame D-Lo? Three guesses, first two don't count...

How about instead of riffling Daughter #2 into the industry that has turned Daughter #1 into the colossal fuck-up that she is, you take ten minutes and reevaluate the situation. Maybe you want to spend a little time with Lindsay, you know, maybe help her kick the drugs and booze and teach her how to drive? Let Ali have a normal childhood instead of seeing the dollar signs? Living vicariously through your children is different than prostituting them to Hollywood...

One thing you definitely can't do is say you fear for your daughter's life because of the paparazzi that is always hounding her while you vamp for pictures and self-promote. Maybe, and this is just me thinking out loud here, if your barely legal daughter wasn't out in clubs sans panties from age 16 on hanging out with Paris the Heiress and Mrs. Federline, the paparazzi wouldn't be following her every move. I hate the bloodsucking, rotten bastards as much as the next guy, but to an extent, they're only doing their job. Maybe you should do yours, hmm?

If you're really worried and not just saying what you think the media wants to hear from "Lindsay's Mom," go grab her by her over-dyed hair, drag her out of the club and toss her into rehab for an indefinite period. And not Celebrity Rehab either - Real Rehab - where some sketched out meth-head will scare the stupid outta your daughter. Or is it going to take something worse for you to get over yourself and see your daughter is a mess and needs serious help? Maybe an overdose or a more serious car accident than the 47 fender benders she's been in already?

Or maybe Ali will get her tits done too and start clubbing it up too. Yeah, that would be way more fun, especially if you're Dina Lohan.

Pffffffffft!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Rundown: Hip List


When I picked Sarah up from school last night, she told me about a conversation she had with a mutual friend of our's named Dylan. He's the boyfriend of a girl in her class that we've hung out with a bunch over the past few months, and at some point or another I told him Kanye West is the greatest music artist on the face of the planet today. He disagreed.

"Tell Spencer I owe him an apology," he said to her yesterday. "After listening to the new Kanye West album (Graduation), I liked it so much I went out and bought the other two and they're outstanding as well."

My response... I told you so.

And it's with that in mind that I bring you today's Rundown.

The Top Five Things I Can Make You Hip To
(Yes, I'm tooting my own horn... deal with it!)

5. Better Magazines
There is more to the world than Maxim and FHM. Put those down for a minute and go pick up the latest Details or Esquire or GQ. Excellent writing, better suggestions on style, fashion, music, technology and all safely outside of the Fratboy "Look at her tits!" stance of the magazines you read when you were, well, a fratboy. We all have to grow up sometime...

Oh - do yourself a favour and pick up Passion Magazine next Tuesday too.

4. Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio
It doesn't matter if you're not a film geek like me, this show isn't just about movies. It's about listening to people speak passionately about their craft, where they came from and the decisions that put them where they are. Plus, finding out what people's favourite curse word is is always entertaining.

3. Nick Hornby
There shouldn't be a lot of people who aren't hip to one of the best writers of our generation, but there really are. His works are outstanding and whether you know it or not, you've enjoyed them too. High Fidelity, About A Boy, Fever Pitch - even though Hollywood bastardized the story - are all Nick Hornby. Johnny Depp even bought the movie rights to his second last release - Long Way Down - before the book was finished. Also falling into this category are Chuck Klosterman, Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) and Cormac McCarthy.

2. The Hour
I can't stress this enough - you need to be watching this show. It mashes politics with pop culture and something about Strombo makes guest feel comfortable enough to be candid. If you're in the 20-30 demographic, this is the best show on television for you to watch. I know you love House (I do too) or maybe The Hills (ech!) but honestly, do yourself a favour and give it a shot...

1. Good Ass Music
Open your ears and experience things outside of your comfort zone, then thank me for it later. Buy an album by The Roots (My picks: Things Fall Apart or Phrenology) and hear what intelligent hip hop on top of an incredibly talented band sounds like. Download Stop Me by Mark Ronson (feat. Aussie Daniel Merriweather) and realize that North America missed the boat on an incredible track, not to mention his entire Version album. Get over your "he was in 'N Sync" bias and listen to the best album of the last year and a half, FutureSex/LoveSounds. Lily Allen is brilliant, so too are Wilco and The Shins. Rilo Kiley, Rilo Kiley, Rilo Kiley...

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Anger Has Subsided, But The Sadness Remains


This is a follow-up to my earlier post "I'm Sick of These Little Wannabe Thug Bastards"

A couple days have passed since I came home and pounded on the keys to release the frustration I was feeling about the plight of a segment of today's youth. The rage has gone, but now, a honest and genuine sadness lingers.

I've gotten a couple comments on the piece courtesy of my fellow Bugs Patrick Smith and David Chalk and I feel the need to maybe elaborate a little further on the actual core of this issue that troubles me, since their comments lead me to believe that I am being somewhat misunderstood.

This is not a case of me nearing 30 and falling out of touch with Pop Culture. For starters, I still look like I'm 25, 21 when I shave the sad excuse of a beard that I grow over a two week period of not shaving. More importantly, there are aspects of Pop Culture that I am still insanely fond of and ridiculously in touch with. These are not the ramblings of a guy who doesn't understand why kids these days don't know Grand Funk Railroad...

Here is my problem, hopefully, more eloquently than before:

There doesn't seem to be the prevelance of people - parents, family & friends, educators, the artists and media themselves - that make sure that the people who are taking in all the media that is available these days are getting the right message. By no means do I think that Biggie, Scarface and Pulp Fiction should be collected and burned in the center of the town. What I do think is that someone needs to be on the other end, explaining the negative consequences of the actions and lifestyles displayed and discussed in these works.

I have to disagree with Patrick Smith, in that I don't see the people putting out today's bullshit hip hop getting marginalized. They are cashing in. Artists drop one hot song and style like they've been doin' this for years. Then they disappear of the face of the Earth but the message that you can get rich quick by (fill in generic pre-hip hop career) is all that is left for the unintelligent masses.

In his comment, David Chalk expanded on what 2Pac's THUG LIFE tattoo across his abdomen stood for: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone. While the message is noble, it is also one that is not readily available to those who do not seek out the meaning and instead is construed as and plead of allegence to the streets and advocacy of the hustler lifestyle, and therein lies the problem.

While I strongly agree with Chalk that it is more about opening minds, I also think what "na" says is accurate as well - some form of censoring isn't a bad thing. He and I sound like we came from similar upbringings and I'd like to think I turned out alright. Hip Hop still permiated my soul, but I also was conscious enough and educated enough to see the shiny beats and empty lyrics as that while taking in message laden albums like Things Fall Apart.

A friend of mine back home is a teacher and has expressed similar sentiments to me. She did it on Facebook of course because adding to the discussions here appears to be a totally foreign concept for some. Anyway, she sees the numbers growing within her school and her classrooms and agrees that it is a troubling trend.

There is far more media for these kids to take in today and the weight of the content has ramped up exponentially over the last ten years:


  • 2 Live Crew was censored for singing Me So Horny, but now we have 4000 G-Unit songs about selling drugs and violent crime. Sure artists and labels are forced to put out Radio Friendly versions sans cussing, but the message that is relayed is far worse than hearing someone say fuck.

  • I used to shoot little cartoonish bad guys or an attacking alien race on my Atari. Go grab Manhunt 2 for your system of choice and try to tell me their isn't anything disturbing about the violence and imagery in that game

  • And don't get me started on the bullshit ideals and ideas that shows like The Hills and Laguana Beach and the tabloid rags spread to young girls.

I'm not saying that we need to revert back to the days of Little House on the Prairie and Road to Avonlea, but since everything else is being excelerated, so too should the education that we're providing for these kids about what they are seeing, hearing, watching and doing. And that education doesn't come only from a classroom.


You know what else could really help? Sitting all these kids down to watch the Dave Chappelle sketch of "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong"...






Continue reading ...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Calling All Readers!

I'm wondering how many people actually stop by and read this bad boy and what and where my demographic hails from. There are a handful of people that I know for sure - Sarah, a couple of the Bugs, the ladies from Blockbuster - and I've already expressed my appreciation accordingly to them. But is that it?

I sure hope not, because it would really suck if I was only pulling seven readers, all of whom feel somewhat obligated to read my ramblings because they know/work/live with me. So here is what I am proposing:

Drop me a little "Hello" in the comments, so I can know a little more about you. Nothing major - who you are, where you're from, how you got here and let's say, your favourite musician. Don't know, something about this idea just makes me feel a little more connected with the people who are taking time out of their day to read what I think and I want to get to know each of you a little bit more. Except Chalk... I know enough about you!

Plus - I'm getting tired of getting messages on my Facebook Wall telling me how much you like / disagree / can't stand my blog while the "Comments Section" always reads ZERO.

Let's do something about that people and I'll get to know you a little more in the process.

OUT
N
E

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things I Learned This Week


1. This is the year I start to make a difference
So, if you've read the last couple posts, you know I've been in an angry / contemplative / advocate kinda mood and the thing is, I kinda dig it. Something about wanting to take action and be involved feels real good to me. With that in mind, the remains of this year and all of 2008 will be dedicated to getting involved whatever way I can. The time to start caring is now. Maybe one of these days I'll do what so many people predicted of me back in school and get political...

2. I'm done with the fake smile, pretend I'm happy bullshit
Work has sucked balls lately and with each passing day I get closer and closer to the end goal of being able to tell day jobs to go fuck themselves. As such, no more inter-office politics. If I'm pissed off, you'll know about it and if it's your fault, we can talk about it if you like...

3. Dan Tobin has funnier pretend conversations with his cat than most people have actual conversations.
Seriously - click the link on the left that says Surgical Strikes! and read the conversation between Dan and his cat Trout, about Watson J. Dog (aka Dog Mirabelli)... I nearly pissed myself.

4. The Boston Celtics really are making me look like a loudmouth jerkoff
KG & Company are 8-0 at last count and it doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon. He's playing every minute of every game as if it's the final two minutes of Game 7 of the Finals. Except, the way he's playing, there won't be a Game Seven... it'll be done in four.

5. Barry Bonds did steroids.
Now, I had sorta known that for a while, but a big old Federal Indictment solidified that belief for me earlier this week. Charles Barkley is right, this is a witch hunt and Barry is being treated unfairly, but could somebody, anybody just please step up and finally fucking admit that Barry Bonds cheated and this isn't all just made up media bullshit? Chalk?

6. Wrong = Wrong
I know McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro and scores of other Major League Baseball players used steroids, the same ones Barry Bonds used. That still doesn't make what he did right, okay or acceptable to me. People break rules every day and get away with it, but the guy who gets caught can't just say, "Oh, well what about them?" That isn't a proper defense...

7. I Own A Lot of Shit Music
Since I've moved to the new computer - which is still goddamn awesome - I've been copying CDs to my media center so I can listen to tunes whilst working. The one thing I have realized is that I bought a whole bunch of bullshit over the years. I haven't had back to back songs come on that I like enough to listen to since I've started doing this... I need to start downloading again!

8. Relaunch is in 9 days...
Passion Magazine, the Canadian Life / Style / Culture mag I work for, returns to shelves across the country next Tuesday. And yes, it's coming to the web too so my four American readers can check out my shit too. The link is over there on the left... but the site isn't up yet. It's not November 27th.

9. I'm not afraid of the future anymore
All this introspection and self-evaluation this week has made me painfully aware of a couple things:

  • I have an amazing girlfriend who I look forward to starting a family with
  • There is nothing wrong with only finding your way at age 29
  • Everything starts with one person
  • I'm a lot better off than I thought I was
10. You Want a Good Shoot'em Up Flick?
Live Free or Die Hard... Yippee Kai Yay Motherfucker!

Have a good week people... be good!
OUT
N
E


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm Sick of These Little Wannabe Thug Bastards!


Someone needs to grab all these little punks by the back of the neck, take them to a maximum security facility and let them talk with the people who have actually committed all the serious, hardcore crimes they idolize and watch them piss their pants!

Maybe then they will realize that the life they're leading right now, is one that ends in jail, dead or as a dredge of civilization.

This venom towards a segment of today's youth comes from two incidents today while I was at work. The first was the little bastard decked in a New Era Cardinals cap - cocked sideways of course - and PNB Nation hoodie that took off like a bat outta hell after stealing a couple movies. The second was the the tilted brim, neck tattoo sporting douchebag who came to the counter and asked "D'you got Menace II Society, yo?" and then was all pumped to go home and watch O-Dogg bust some caps with no idea what the actual message of a film as powerful as Menace truly is. Same goes for Boyz in the Hood...

Seriously, how the fuck did we let our children turn out like this? What the fuck happened?

I'll tell you what happened...

50 Cent happened. Grand Theft Auto happened. Glorification and desensitization of violence, drugs and sex has rotted away the brains of a segment of today's youth and it's goddamn scary. They idolize hip hop artists who glorify "money, cash, hoes" as Jay-Z once rhymed. They think Al Pacino's Scarface is a suitable idol, despite his demise at the end of the film. They think stealing and hustling and being little stick-up kids is a viable occupation, totally oblivious to the damage they do to society, themselves and the people around them. And it sounds corny as hell, but if they're stealing a movie today, next week it's a car and on and on and on until they wind up either dead or in jail. Then it becomes "such a sin what happened to little Johnny..."

Bullshit. The sin is letting it get to this stage in the first place.

Now listen: I'm not going to be another in the long list of people to blame hip hop for all of society's ills. That's too easy and not fair to the incredible artists who have nothing do with this problem - Common, The Roots, Dead Prez and Talib Kweli didn't have nothing to do with this right here...

First and foremost, this is a family issue. Someone along the way that was supposed to steer these kids in the right direction dropped the ball, for whatever reason. Educators too. But after that, a big portion of the blame falls on mass media, some of it's stars and the people that power the machine.

D'you know how hard 50 Cent is now? He's so gully that he lives in Connecticut! That's gangsta!

It's a goddamn shame, but living the Thug Life didn't work out so well for Biggie & Tupac did it?

And all the record executives that want to harp on about freedom of speech can kiss my ass. I'm not saying these bullshit artists poppin' off at the mouth about slinging drugs and bangin' bitches can't say whatever the fuck they please, but that doesn't mean record labels have to put that shit out. No publisher would put out a book of racist poetry would they? Or an instruction manual on how to build bombs? They couldn't do that and then claim freedom of speech without facing the wrath of thousands, so why is this any different?

Unfortunately, the almighty dollar reigns supreme and because such a growing portion of the youth market is drawn to this bullshit - all of it, the music, the image, the bullshit posturing - the cycle just keeps on churning and more and more crap flows into the world. And it's not just music either.

How does a parent let their 7 year old kid play a game like Grand Theft Auto? My old man - for all his shortcomings - would have beat my ass if he caught me playing a game where I could score some drugs, bang hookers in my stolen car and gained points for killing people. When did running around as a little Italian plumber stop being enough?

My solution? I'm taking action - positive action - and getting involved. I'm going to become a Big Brother and perhaps down the road, you know, once this writing thing takes off, do some speaking about topics just like this. If I can help one kid, then I have made a difference. If each of us helps one kid, think of the difference that would make...

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Friday, November 16, 2007

My Rolling Stone Interview


Before the seven of you reading this get super excited for your favourite blogger, understand that the good people at Rolling Stone haven't come knocking, nor have I secured Jann S. Wenner to sit down and answer some of my mundane questions.

Today's installment comes as a result of my purchasing the 40th Anniversary issue of Rolling Stone. The whole thing - at least the meat of it - is a collection of interviews with "important people" like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Dave Matthews, Tom Hanks and a handful of others with different writers asking questions about what the future holds on various fronts, including politics, technology, music and what the most pressing issues are for the coming generations. And this inspired me to conduct my own version of the interview.

Questions by Rolling Stone. Answers by E. Spencer Kyte. Enjoy.

In general, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
Neither, I'm realistic. Things aren't going to change overnight and that means that the immediate future will most likely be a lot like the present and the present kind of sucks. I mean, sure there are scattered positives, but on a whole, on a global scale, the world sucks. Our troops are in a war that we really should have nothing to do with, no one seems to be willing to do anything about real crises like Darfur and there is this little thing about the environment that has Al Gore all up in arms. And best of all, our politicians would much rather just tell you all the stuff the other guy didn't do than actually do something positive themselves.

On the topic of religion, do you see people getting more or less rational in the coming years?
Hopefully more rational, but I know religion is a very divisive topic so that is just optimism. To me, organized religion is a sham and I don't say that to disrespect anyone. But for me, it simply becomes another reason people fight, which is unnecessary. There are much bigger issues to take than someone believing in a different god than you. And then there is the whole "God's Law" side of the debate where people do things and refuse to do things in the name of God instead of acting and living like rational human beings.

Has your career unfolded the way you expected?
I'm just getting started and so far, I'm pleased. I was just saying earlier today that I look forward to being able to tell my children that anything is possible and be a real-life example of that for them. I only decided to do this (writing) a couple years ago and in the last year I have signed on with two sports websites, am a regular contributor to an outstanding magazine and have started this bad boy right here. Plus, I have a couple other projects in the works that have me more excited than anything else.

How could Canada make an difference in Darfur?
Right now, any form of action would be a starting point. Too much time is spent debating the issues and talking about finding a solution and putting an end to the atrocities and that goes for me too. It's easy for me to say, "I'm appalled by the situation in Darfur" and then do nothing about it. From my position, one of the foremost things I can do is present the issue and talk about it, as well as seek action in government. As for Canada, maybe they would like to think about where our troops are allocated. I mean, an entire culture of people are being eradicated in Darfur, yet we're in Iraq trying to bring democracy to a country that obviously doesn't want it.

Do you believe free speech is truly in danger?
100% I do and that really sucks for someone like me. I think there are still outlets where free speech is encouraged and welcomed, but as the global community become more and more of a multinational corporation and media outlets continue to dictate what you see and hear, those avenues will eventually be shut down or muted as best as they can be. It's not as bad here in Canada as it is in the US - yet - and the yet is what scares me.

Are there public figures who you think are inspiring as we move into the future?
Barack Obama gives me hope. I honestly wish he was a Canadian citizen or decided to become one so we could have someone like him leading our country. He is so different from the current regime on so many levels that, whether he wins the Democratic Nomination or not, knowing he will be a very visible and involved government figure makes me very pleased. Besides him, I'm waiting for the next great Canadian to step up in that role. We haven't had anyone who inspired us since Trudeau and that was before my time. Since I can remember we've had Mulroney, Kim Campbell briefly, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and now Stephen Harper. Someone has to step to the forefront and be willing to be that person that champions Canada as the incredible nation that it is and unites our country, instead of dividing it. Not that everyone will agree on everything, but right now, all we keep electing are minority governments, which means everyone is split every which way and nothing greatly productive or impressive or groundbreaking gets done in Parliament because everyone is too afraid of losing what little bits of power they have.

How would you describe the state of pop culture?
Fucking train wreck. Seriously. I like to think of myself as a bit of a Pop Culture guy and it's sad the state of affairs right now. Even shittier is that it might just keep getting worse and worse. I mean, Dina Lohan has her own reality show and she's using it to promote her next daughter. Meanwhile, daughter #1 Lindsay is a total fucking mess who can't stay out of rehab and off the blow. Worse yet, Britney Spears has a number one single and a number one album. Tell me how in the world does this happen? Shouldn't someone have stood up and said, "We're not making your album until you get your shit straight?" It's not about your fifteen minutes of fame anymore. Now it's down to fifteen seconds, thanks to YouTube, Us Weekly and TMZ. People are missing the bigger picture of pop culture and what it can be. Instead, the focus is on dirt - tabloid bullshit - and that is really troubling.

Are you worried about the predicted disappearance of books and magazines and newspapers?
Not one bit. As much as technology has advanced and more types of media are available online and in different forms, nothing will ever beat the real thing. There is something about sitting in the park or a coffee shop or your living room reading a book or the newspaper that you just don't get from flipping through the virtual version. If anything, I think the Internet helps strengthen things because it is another avenue for getting your name and your work out to people. That wasn't available before. Some of those new people might just find the online version of your work, but there are still thousands of people who buy books, have magazine and newspaper subscriptions and do things the old fashioned way. That will never disappear.

What songs do you want played at your funeral?
The only one I know for sure is "Change" by Blind Melon. There is a lyric from that song that has been my quote for as long as I can remember. It's at the top of this blog actually. Other than that, I'd want something, not upbeat, but uplifting. I don't want my funeral to be a big sad bastard festival. I want to be celebrated and remembered. There would probably have to be some Kanye...

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Writer Available to Telecommute Across Picket Line


Perhaps you've heard that there is a little strike going on South of the Border. It's having a small effect on a couple of shows...

Anyway, in thinking about it, this would be an ideal opportunity for someone like me to make my mark in the writing game, at a time when Studio Execs and Producers are in desperate need of someone to pen the next episode of their cash-cow of a show.

Besides, does it really count as crossing the picket line if I send all my ideas via email? I mean, it's not like I'm going to pull an Ellen and actually walk across the line or anything.

For those execs out there who need a little proof of the skills, here are some sample storyline ideas for some of the big shows.

Grey's Anatomy

  • Grey #1 and McHair will continuing the same song and dance they've been doing for the past three seasons.
  • Angry Chinese doctor will remain angry , but will suck it up and pledge her allegiance to her new female boss. She will also continue with her trend of sleeping with her superiors, or at least try, but the new boss will turn her down because she is an angry, unattractive woman.
  • McPlastic will continue to try to hump anything and everything that walks.
  • Bailey (I use her real character name because she is awesome) will whip the new Interns into shape and clean up the mess Kaleidescope left behind.
  • G.O.G. (Good Ol' George) will still have problems sexing it up real nice with Dr. Hottie, causing all the men subjected to this show by their lady friends to throw empty beer cans at the television and curse his name.
24
  • Some terrorists or radicals or militia group will threaten the United States and Jack Bauer will be nowhere to be found.
  • The rest of the members of the task force will go on a manhunt for him, ultimately finding him passed out at the wheel of his Ford F150, hammered.
  • The side plot will involve a lot of Elisha Cuthbert swimming, showering and playing in the hose.
CSI (Doesn't matter which of the 43 we're talking about...)
  • The super genius guy (Bill Peterson, David Caruso or Gary Sinise) will solve the case by knowing some ridiculously obscure information about a ridiculously obscure bug / plant / metal / chemical
  • Various smaller characters will scurry about looking tense
  • There will be a whole bunch of fancy schmancy camera shots to make up for the recycled story ideas.
Heroes
  • Sick of trying to save the world, Super Cheerleader will spend each episode doing tumbling routines in the shortest cheerleader outfit ever seen.
  • Does anyone really care what the rest of the cast is up to?
Of course, Reality TV will go on as normal, since there is nothing at all scripted about that...

So Hollywood - if you need me, call me. I'll be the guy sitting by the phone with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Rundown: Songs For Mama

To tie into the preceding post about the passing of Dr. Dondra West, a woman her son Kanye often spoke of in his songs, I give you the Wednesday Rundown:

Top Five Songs that Remind Me of My Mom - Carol Anne "Faye" Kyte

5. "Hey Mama" - Kanye West, Late Registration
This isn't just a token Kanye shout out. This song is incredible and I am glad to say that even though we've had our differences, Faye is one of my best friends and the words Kanye speaks resonate with me.

4. "Me & Julio" - Paul Simon, Greatest Hits
My mom bought this CD and played it non-stop from the get-go. Every time I hear it I still picture Faye in the kitchen, doing the dishes, bopping to the beat and it makes me smile.

3. "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard OST
Again, purchased and played constantly. As much as I really, really dislike this song and it's building, bellowing, booming climax, Faye loved it... so I like it.

2. All The Songs "Grown Folks" Dance to at Weddings
I've been to a handful of weddings with my mom and she doesn't leave the dance floor. I left the last one before she did. If it's older and got a beat, she'll dance to it and that's pretty cool to me.

1. "A Song for Mama" - Boyz II Men, Evolution
My best friend Francis danced with his mother to this song at his wedding and I'm probably going to steal it from him and do the same. No one song encompasses everything I feel for my mom better than this song.

I love you Faye...

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Show Some Respect: Dr. Dondra West


On Saturday, November 10, the mother of Hip Hop Superstar Kanye West, Dr. Dondra West died unexpectedly at age 58.

Since that time, there have been hundreds of posts and stories about this tragedy and thousands of more comments on blogs just like this one. Jump over to Show Hype and see for yourself if you don't believe me.

I was moved to write this piece after reading some of the garbage that is floating through the blogosphere in regards to Dr. West's passing. My standing as a Kanye West fan has nothing to do with this. This is about showing respect.

Too many of the postings that I have seen in the past days have discussed the potential botched cosmetic surgery, speculation about the legitimacy of the doctor(s) who performed said operations and numerous other things. One person was even kind enough to impose their religious views about cosmetic surgery and vanity on the discussion.

An incredible woman died and I haven't read one article celebrating the life she lived and to me, that's a god damn shame.

Obviously, I didn't know Dr. Dondra West personally. What little I do know about her has been gleaned from interviews, articles and the lyrics of her son's songs. To me, the things that need to be remembered and spoken of about Dr. West were best said by John Legend:


"Dr. West wasn't just the mother of a superstar. She was an accomplished, successful, beautiful woman in her own right. She raised and nurtured a brilliant son with the strength and resilience to follow his dreams and to turn tragedy to triumph."
After 30 years as an educator and at one point serving as the Chairwoman of the Chicago State University English Department, Dondra West left education to work with her son, serving as both CEO of West Brands LLC and Chairwoman of the Kanye West Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping decrease dropout rates and improve literacy.

Whatever you think about Kanye West doesn't matter. You're views on Plastic Surgery are inconsequential as well. Step out of the TMZ, Us Weekly, Reality Television haze and understand this:

The world lost an incredible woman last weekend and it is a tragedy. Her family deserves your sympathy and she deserves your respect.

R.I.P. Dr. Dondra West

And Kanye - Mama was very proud of you...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Searching for a Porn-ucopia


Not me: I have the Internet. All the porn I could ever ask for is only a mouse click away. If I ever wanted to look at porn....

No, this is the story of quite possibly the funniest customer interaction I've had in my lifetime working in the Customer Service industry. And I've been involved in some weird shit in working the casino and in bars over the years, but this trumps them all.

Last night, sometime around 10:30, a middle aged (read: 40's) guy comes into Blockbuster, doeas a quick glance around the store from just inside the door, turns to me behind the counter and asks, "You have an Adult Section?"

This is not an uncommon occurrence. We get lots of people asking if we carry porn. We don't, other than some softcore stuff like Married People, Single Sex Volumes 1-3 and a few artsy films that use that banner as a means of putting out naughtier stuff than the Playboy Channel.

"No, sorry man," was my reply, just as it always is. My usual choking back a laugh occurred too. What can I say, I find it amusing that people (1) still rent porn and (2) think that Blockbuster is going to have a back room full of it.

"D'you know anywhere I can get some?" the would-be viewer asked.

"Yep, right across the street. Jumbo," I answered, instructing the porn-seeking gentlemen to shop with our competition at Jumbo Video.

"D'you know anywhere else? The selection they have over there sucks."

Stifling a laugh, I managed to get the words, "No. Sorry, I don't," out as the disheartened porn hunter left the store. Then I died laughing.

Answer me this: At what point do you stop driving around town looking for porn, especially when you've located an establishment from where you can procure the object of your desires?

11:00 at night? Midnight? Never?

Do drunks go bar to bar asking what kind of whiskey is on the shelf, only to leave when they find out they're only serving CC?

"Swill... I may be a drunk in need of a drink, but I won't drink that piss!"


Somehow, I think not.

I can just picture this guy driving around town in an effort to find Bad Babysitters 7 because Jumbo's choices of Bad Babysitters 2: Even Badder and Asian Heat 52 wasn't quite good enough.

And what determines a quality porn selection anyway?

I know everyone has the things that they're into, but at a certain point, porn is porn. The end result is the same, just how the "actors" get to that point is different. So too might be the outfits, locations, horrible dialog (if any) and ethnicity of the female cast. But at 10:30 - 11:00 at night, do you really need to be picky with your porn?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Dispensing Distractions


Just a minute ago I was sitting here at my computer drafting a basketball team on NBA Live 06, part of the EA Sports 06 Pack that I bought the other night with twenty bucks that Faye had sent me for my birthday. I figured, buying Live 08 for $50 didn't make as much sense as getting five games with older rosters for $20...

But I turned it off mid-draft. I'm actually contemplating uninstalling the software. Why? I'll tell you why...

I NEED TO WRITE!

Last night, I had a breakdown. One of those "I Just Want It All To Be The Way I Want It" type moments where I was just pissed about everything and one of those things was that I don't have enough time to do the writing that I want to do. I'd blame Blockbuster, but it's not so much Blockbuster's fault as it is just an economics thing...

Since I'm intending to make this writing thing the way that I pay the bills and support my family, I can't rightfully have a breakdown yesterday night and then spend today playing video games. I got shit to do. The list looks something like this:

  • Post #2 @ Epic Carnival (Done... CLICK HERE)
  • Daily Post at The Blog (You're reading it...)
  • The Eulogy of Philip Lawrence Kyte (A Book About My Relationship with My Dad)
  • Go over my notes from the Untitled Project with Sarah's Professor
Mix into that an extended shift tonight rockin' the Block and there really isn't much time for anything else, yet alone building a virtual basketball dynasty. I'm not even going to watch Shrek the Third that I brought home this weekend...

I'm just going to write. That's it. Eat, sleep, write, work, with healthy doses of Sarah mixed in there too. Oh, and smokes. Can't forget smokes... I love to smoke!

Time to go - smoke break, then I'll get to work, honest.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Things I Learned This Week


WOO HOO! Two weeks in a row...

Betcha thought I was giving it up when you saw the Film School post, huh? Just decided to pull a little double duty today since I skipped out yesterday is all.

This week's list:

1. A New Word
Disapprobation: [noun] strong disapproval, especially on moral grounds.
Thanks Chalk... you wordy bastard!

2. Give People A Second Chance
Sarah & I were supposed to meet a couple last night at 8:30 to see an apartment. They didn't show initially. As we were jumping in The Shitbox, a truck pulled up. It was them. I was fuming. Bad business bothers me. Sarah told me to take a deep breath, go in and humour them and have a smoke when we got out and I agreed.

Forty-five minutes later we had found our new place and know that we have outstanding landlords.

3. JT is My Man!
I don't know how in the hell I left him off Wednesday's Rundown, but Mr. Jessica Biel should definitetly be there, perhaps in place of Robbie Williams. Why am I remembering this now? Watched a concert film of his from MSG this afternoon...

4. The Boston Celtics Might Make a Moron Outta Me
My debut post over at Epic Carnival asked the question "Why is everyone handing the Eastern Conference to the Celtics?" Their 5-0 start, in which they have looked every part the best team in the East, has me wondering what is an appropriate side dish for crow?

5. I'm A Thief
Or at least, I will be come the New Year. I plan on stealing an idea from my man Dan Tobin and compiling a running list of all the books I've read during the year. You don't have that copyrighted or anything do you DT?

6. Casey Affleck Steals Ocean's Thirteen
Watched it the other night and have to say, in addition to the best mustache I've seen in some time, the side plot of Casey's Malloy Brother organizing a strike and revolt at the Mexican Dice Plant was the best part of the movie. And he has the best line too, with his response of "I hate that question" to Scott Caan's "Are you in yet?" Every guy hates that question...

7. December Can't Get Here Fast Enough
Normally, I'm not an advocate of the winter months, but this December brings with it a trip to Vancouver and Ontario, Sarah & I driving back to Newfoundland, a "new" car and a brand new apartment. Oh yeah... Christmas too!

8. I Really Do Love to Smoke
The plan was to quit after my birthday or whenever the pack I had at the time ran out. Can't do it... there really is something about lighting a dart after a meal/on the way to work/while drinking coffee/pretty much whenever that I love. I know - that's sad.

9. It's Been Two Years, Again...
Since I last talked to my old man. And it's his birthday today. You're right Smitty - I gotta write that book.

10. My Focus Here Has Changed
With adding Epic Carnival to the fold, I now how an outlet for all things sports, as well as a strictly baseball forum with Bugs. So, from here on out, this bad boy is all about Pop Culture and me, nothing more. Hopefully that doesn't alienate any of the seven people who actually read this mess.

16 Days until I'm Published...

OUT
N
E

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Film School


As some of you may know, in addition to being the world-renowned blogger that I am, I spend upwards of 30 hours a week standing behind the counter at Blockbuster Video getting my Randal Graves on, without the graphic ordering of porn over the telephone in the presence of small children.

Let's not kid ourselves here either, I work at Blockbuster for one reason and one reason only - free rentals. No, it's actually like Nick Naylor says: "It pays the mortgage" which is actually rent in my case, but that's just semantics.

Anywho - the problem (or one of the problems) with me rockin' the Block is that I'm an incredible film snob, which puts me in a precarious position at least once or twice a day where I have to stop myself from laughing at what people will actually pay to watch. Pumpkinhead 4? Honestly?

Which brings me to the focus of this here rambling...

The Spencer Kyte Guide to Blockbuster

By no means is this an all encompassing list or anything like that, just a couple of pointers from a guy who has watched more movies than you and your five closest friends combined. Shall we?

Don't be afraid of Documentaries
Yes, they're short on explosions and CGI and big name stars, but they're chalk full of information and knowledge. And it isn't only Michael Moore who makes documentaries.

Recommendations: The Devil Came On Horseback about the conflict in Darfur or Shut Up & Sing which details the whole Dixie Chicks uproar from a couple years back.

Big Budget Does Not Equal Better
Ghost Rider cost a lot of money to make. It's barely watchable. You Kill Me didn't and it's easily the best movie I've seen this year. Sir Ben Kingsley as an alcoholic hitman is priceless.

Recommendations (besides You Kill Me): Brick, Thank You For Smoking and stay the hell away from The Reaping.

Subtitles Aren't Harmful to Your Health
Can you read? Then you can enjoy a subtitled movie as much as any other. Granted, I understand the fact that people rent movies so they can watch something and you've got to be in the right state of mind to enjoy a subtitled film, but boycotting them altogether would be a mistake.

Recommendations: Letters from Iwo Jima and Pan's Labyrinth.

There is a reason it wasn't in theatres...
Sure you can find some pretty decent Direct to DVD titles, but for the most part, it wasn't a theatrical release because the people making the movie knew it wasn't going to do very well with The Popcorn Set. As such, something that was in theatres almost always trumps something that came right to Blockbuster.

Recommendations: Watch The Departed or Fracture before you grab Animal 2 or Man About Town

Sequels
If the actors who were in the first film didn't come back for the second, that should tell you something. And no, the fact that the Prince in Prince & Me 2 is the same guy doesn't count. Consider this The Batman Theory. The original - Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's - was great, then they both walked and the revolving door of actors and directors started until the series spiraled into oblivion. Thankfully Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have breathed new life into The Dark Knight...

Recommendations: Ocean's Thirteen not Butterfly Effect 2

The Book is Always Better
A lot of people - parents and kids - have been coming in lately looking for various Shakespearean adaptations and other book into film ventures. This frightens me, (1) because I'm a writer and need people to be able to read in the future to continue paying the bills and (2) because I can't think of a single film version that has been better than the book. As great as The Godfather was, Mario Puzzo's words are still superior.

Five to Watch from the Past Year-ish
1. You Kill Me
2. Thank You For Smoking
3. The Prestige
4. Zodiac
5. Ratatouille

Five to Avoid Like The Plague*
1. The Reaping... get it? The Plagues...
2. Evan Almighty
3. Delta Farce
4. Home of the Brave
5. The Lake House

* this doesn't include all the unfathomable nonsense like Return of the Living Dead 47 and anything starting Steven Seagal / Jean Claude Van Damme.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

My Carnival Debut / Rain + Shitbox = Soaked Car


First, my debut piece over at Epic Carnival is up, so you have to go check it out. I'll even make it real easy for you... [CLICK HERE]

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It's pouring rain here - has been since I got up at 7:30 this morning.

I drive a car known by one and all as "The Shitbox" or "The Shitty" to it's close friends. Back in the Midland, Ontario days, it leaked like a sieve. Pools of water would accumulate at my feet and the seat would just suck in the water like Lindsay Lohan does the booze and blow... then it stopped.

For some unexplained reason, sometime last April or so, the car stopped leaking. We stopped having to bring fresh towels and garbage bags to sit on. I no longer had to worry about the cuffs of my pants getting drenched in the watery build-up that congregated at my feet.

So when I went out for a smoke a couple minutes ago I thought I'd check out the car, just for curiosity's sake. That, and I have to leave for work soon so I wanted to know if I needed to bring a towel to sit on.

The answer? HELL YES! Drenched, that is the only way I can describe it. Droplets of water are actually falling from my interior...

Good thing we're getting rid of the Shitbox come December! (Thanks Garry)

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Eric Lindros: Hall of Fame?


Thursday afternoon in London, Ontario, the original "Next One" hung'em up and the debate began.

Eric Lindros was the heir apparent to Wayne Gretzky's throne. He was a man amongst boys dominating the OHL with the Oshawa Generals in the early '90s and oozed talent as a member of the Canadian National Team while boycotting the Quebec Nordiques*, who drafted him First Overall despite knowing he would never suit up for them.

Even as he entered the NHL, Lindros displayed his game-changing talents, though he would finish behind "The Finnish Flash" Teemu Selanne for the Rookie of the Year Award. Lindros' trajectory to stardom was on course following the 1995 - 96 NHL Season where he won the Hart Trophy as League MVP after posting an easy career best 115 points.

Though the Big E led the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in '97, they were beaten by the Detroit Red Wings with Lindros managing only one goal on th ultimate stage. Injuries limited his playing time and his performance, although it has to be said that when he did play, he produced.

The beginning of the end is easily identifiable in Eric Lindros' career. It take the night he crossed the middle of the neutral zone with his head down against the New Jersey Devils and Devils Captain / Bonecrusher Scott Stevens leveled Lindros. From then on, things never were the same again.

While Lindros posted a point a game average during his first year in New York, he also sat out the entire preceding season, as effects of the Stevens hit still lingered.

After three years in New York and zero playoff appearances, Lindros emerged in his home town of Toronto following the lockout, but only lasted 33 games before a wrist injury ended his season with the Maple Leafs. An uneventful year in Dallas followed and wound up being the last of Lindros' career.

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So the question of whether Eric Lindros belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame is one that is sure to be debate a great deal over the next couple of days by hockey analysts, fans and television types. Being the opinionated soul that I am, I figured I would chime in here.

The answer is no.

Beside his one Hart Trophy, only an Olympic Gold Medal as a role player on the 2002 Nagano team resides in the Lindros Trophy Case. There are no Stanley Cup rings, just the one finals appearance and a truckload of unfulfilled expectations.

Some will argue that Lindros marked a changing of the game - the first of the bigger, stronger, faster NHL'ers who combined skill with size and strength, but to me that isn't enough. That would be akin to putting Kevin Garnett in the NBA Hall of Fame simply because he was the first to go from high school to the pros.

Before Lindros goes in, there are a number of other players who deserve entrance, including Dino Ciccarelli and Glen Anderson. And if Lindros goes in, what of his contemporaries?

Sergei Fedorov has a couple of Stanley Cup rings to go along with his Hart Trophy.

Since I don't think Fedorov, his rings and his MVP belong in the hall, when it comes to Lindros, I gotta say, "No Hall for You!"

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Quebec received Ron Hextall, Mike Ricci, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, 2 First Round Picks and $15M from Philadelphia. Oh yeah, and some kid named Peter Forsberg who helped lead them to two Stanley Cups as the Colorado Avalanche.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Odds & Ends & Updates


The last 24 has been a pretty busy time, so I figured what better space to keep everyone up to speed than right here...

My interview with Cabral Richards - TV's Cabbie on the Street is up at Bugs. Gotten some nice feedback from the crew and even earned a few votes at both BallHype and ShowHype for my troubles.

That post was actually my third of the day yesterday at B&C with the other main one being the continuing saga of Barry Bonds, Marc Ecko and Injustice... seriously. People are tossing around terms like injustice, morality and disapprobation about baseball players and balls. I don't even know what that last word means. You can get the latest here.

Somehow, in the process of just riffling through emails last night, I got another job too.

Yours truly is now a proud member and contributor at Epic Carnival, one of the top sports oriented sites around. It boasts a roll call of some of the best from various sites and I'm honoured to have gotten the invite. My debut post should be up some time tomorrow after noon, so go read it and tell them how much you love me...

What else?

I started reading the Don Cheadle / John Pendergrast book "Not On Our Watch" today at Chapters and I gotta say, it's equal parts motivating, depressing, sickening, educational and ultimately exceptionally well done and really, really sad. The situation in Chad / Darfur is dire and has been for years, yet still, nothing is getting done. The book outlines way you can get involved, and I intend to however I can. Learn more by visiting Not On Our Watch.


Other than that, not much to report. Settling in for a quality two hours of television - Grey's followed by flipping between The Hour and Score Tonight to see if I get a shout out for the interview.

Until tomorrow... you stay classy readers!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Rundown


I like the idea of having things that will appear on specific days - like the Things I Learned This Week that will appear every Sunday. For one, it makes determining what I'm going to write a little bit easier and two, if it's good, you get used to it and make a habit of coming back, at least on those specific days.

With that in mind, Wednesday is going to become home to The Rundown.

What is The Rundown?

It's going to be a list of five somethings. Top 5 Movies, Top Five Albums, Top Five Songs and on and on and on. But it won't only be mundane, normal stuff like that. What else is going to be covered? Stuff like this week's:

Top Five Man Crushes

I have no problem admitting to having man-crushes. I actually got the idea from my interview with Cabbie, because he used it in reference to his favoute athlete ever Eddie George.

Anyway, on with the show...

5. Robbie Williams, Pop Star
The "fat one" from British Boy Band Take That became a fav well after harmonizing on "I Want You Back." It actually started when I first heard the song "Angels," which has since become a karaoke favourite of mine unfortunately for those in attendance. What is it about Williams that I love? It's the mixture of arrogance, charisma and showmanship coupled with the willingness to be extremely open about who he is and the things he's done. Plus, I'm sure he'd knock back a few pints of the dark with me if I ever ran into him... and that's cool.

4. Johnny Depp, Actor
I actually don't think this one needs much explaining. Anyone who is as ridiculously talented as the former 21 Jump Street star and has the integrity to march to the beat of his own drum is aces in my books.

3. Chuck Klosterman, Writer
Everyone needs to have their model of who'd they aspire to be like and Klosterman is one of mine. It's not just that he is a writer, but also what he writes, how he writes and who he writes for. Beyond his own novels - Fargo Rock City, Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs, Killing Yourself to Live and IV - Klosterman writes his own column in Esquire, does numerous guest spots on ESPN and The Magazine and pretty much does it all in the exact same way I one day aspire to.

2. Don Cheadle, Actor / Activist
Listen. You can say whatever you want about whoever you want, but if you say something bad about Don Cheadle, we're fighting. Dude is just lights out every time. He can be funny, serious, part of an ensemble or carry a movie all by himself, which speaks volumes about his talent. But it's more than that. Cheadle is also the co-founder of Not On Our Watch, an organization that focuses global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities as in Darfur and is also very outspoken about racism, an issue close to my heart. Seriously, I'll fight you over Don Cheadle. And he ain't even #1...

1. George Stroumboulopoulos
Every Canadian knows this man or at least they should. Those of us who grew up in and around The GTA met him on The Edge 102.1. Some watched him on The Nation's Music Station, Much Music which I gotta say was painful,, other than The New Music. But where Stroumbo has gotten his most attention - and deservedly so - is as the host of CBC's The Hour. Part talk show, part news magazine, all Stroumbo... it is hands down the best show on Canadian television and one of the best on TV period. YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS SHOW PEOPLE! George is intelligent, well-spoken, funny, self-deprecating, sarcastic and just plain effin' awesome. When I grow up, I wanna be George Stroumboulopoulos...

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If there is something you want to see in The Rundown, let me know in the comments section. Nothing is off-limits...

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