Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Rundown: Celebrity Headlines

With all the hulabaloo about Ms. Miley both here and in the media in general as of late, a bunch of ridiculously amusing stories seemed to have cropped up and gone unnoticed... until now!

Top WTF? Celebrity Headlines

5. Roger Clemens... and a 15-year-old Mindy McCready
Has anyone's credibility taken such a hit in such a short period of time than Rocket Roger? Steroid allegations look tiny next to this doozy. Apparently Clemens had a 10-year-affair with the one time country star turned boozehound and pill popper. Of course, Clemens denies every ounce of this story, while McCready has tearfully confirmed the deets... but she's lying too, right Rog?

4. People's Most Beautiful
Took a quick run through the preview photos of the next issue of People, featuring their Most Beautiful list. It's headed by Kate Hudson - you know, the one who cheated on her husband with Owen Wilson - and features a Playboy model (Amanda Beard), the cast of Gossip Girl (yack!) and a Disney teen queen with a thing for Polaroids (Vanessa Hudgens). Of course, no one has anything to say about this, even though Amanda Beard's back is provocatively exposed in her picture.

3. How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Katie Holmes
Tom sent me to Scientology Boot Camp, because apparently I'm not scientologicalized enough. Also, Tom earns extra Air Miles and Levels Up every time he sends someone to camp.

2. Proof Good Charlotte Is, Was and Always Will be Horrible
Lead singer Benji Madden has penned a love song for his girlfriend... Paris Hilton. No word yet on whether it contains any references to her awesome acting skills or talents with a bow staff. Not to be outdone, twin / guitarist Joel Madden will probably write a song for his women, Nicole Richie. Let the chorus be "Baby, can you please eat a sandwich."

1. Mariah Carey is Engaged... to Nick Cannon?!
Crazy Mimi is marrying the dude from Drumline? When the eff did this happen? Wasn't Nick Cannon just hosting his own show on Nickelodeon like two years ago? How is he all of a sudden a certified loverman... and with Mariah? Dude, she's bonkers! Anyone who gets nekkid on Cribs will never get the "Not Insane" stamp on their hand.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Miley...

Here is the picture in question for the four people on Earth who haven't seen it yet.

Now let's talk about it.

Is it a little racy? Yes; she's 15 and clutching a sheet to her naked body, offering up a demur look to Annie Leibovitz' lens.

Is it any different than Brooke Shields frolicking topless in Blue Lagoon at the same age? Uh, no. Click for visual proof.

Or her declaring that "nothing comes between me and my Calvin's..."

I could go on and on with the far more dangerous and explicit images of young girls that have been laid out for society over the years I've been on this planet.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm sorry, but this isn't that bad.

Here is my take on why there has been such an uproar over the picture:

Seeing Disney's Perfect Princess taking photos like this scares the hell out of every parent who has encouraged their daughters to be like Miley.

You see, pre-photos, Miley was a perfect role model for the tween set and parents could point to her as the picture of virtue and purity and goodness.

Now, out come these photos - and others on some kids MySpace page - of a not-so-perfectly wholesome Miley doing what millions - literally millions - of kids in that age range do... discovering sex and sexuality.

The problem then becomes that if these parents can't point to wholesome Miley, who are they going to encourage their children to pattern themselves after? What are we to do?

1) You (parents) should be the best role model for your child. Hands down. NQA. I know it's not always the case, just saying...

2) Females - think back to when you were 15... did you start liking boys and experimenting a bit? Why should it be different for anyone else, including Miley Cyrus?

3) Diablo Cody said it best through Allison Janney's "Bren" in Juno: I think kids get bored and experiment with sex. More truthful words could not be uttered, especially in our current over-sexed society.

To draw from the anonymous comment left on yesterday's post, I offer up these thoughts:

You're right that "we" have to educate our children about what is right and wrong, but the "we" is parents and guardians and Miley's parents and guardians gave the thumbs up to these photos before the hoopla came to a head. Do you honestly think Achy Breaky Dad is trying to prostitute his daughter...

These aren't random photos found on Chester the Molesters hard drive, so therefore, they are different. It's not child porn masquerading as art. It is a goddamn photo shoot and thousands like it took place before this one without anyone batting an eye.

Is this really the biggest issue for us to be dealing with right now? I mean shit - it's a goddamn picture exposing her back. It's not like she's facing the forward doing the old "hand bra" technique or anything. But this is waaaay more important than the wars going on all over the world, the fact that people everywhere are without food, The Terminator runs California, Global Warming...

Have a little perspective, that's all I ask.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

One Standard Isn't Good Enough. Make It a Double.

As I'm sure you know, there has been a great big uproar in the media about the forthcoming Vanity Fair article and photos featuring Miley Cyrus.

Disney, whom brought Miley to megastar status via Hannah Montana, is calling out Vanity Fair.

Miley says she's embarassed and sorry.

Vanity Fair says it's all crap.

In this one, as I would in many cases, I'm siding with Vanity Fair and not just because I would love to work at the Conde Nast Building.

First of all, it's her back for chrissakes. Her back!

Yes she's 15, but when did the media become a bunch of puritans who think a little ankle is too much skin? Then, of course, there are the years and years and years of far-more-horrible images that the media have made oodles and oodles of money on the back of. See how I did that there?

I know Disney is wholesome and wonderful and nice and clean and respectful and on and on and on, so I see their play in this. Their wholesome cash cow showing a little skin at 15 could turn some parents off letting their daughters spend gazillions on the myriad Hannah Montana marketing materials on the market.

Miley is in a dangerous spot here because she agreed to the shoot and her people (read: Achy Breaky Dad et al) were present the whole time. Now that there is a little scandal, they're trying to throw Vanity Fair under the bus. This is a bad spot for Miley no matter what. You either alienate Disney or Vanity Fair. Since Disney tends to end for people around, I dunno, say, 16, pissing off Vanity Fair may not be the career move you wish to make.

As for VF, they're still golden. This doesn't change anything for them. If anything, it sells more magazines, as if they need help. Annie Leibovitz did the photos and she's an icon, not some hack or scam artist who slying whispered in Miley's ear to show a little more back. Also, it's her back!

Which brings me to the main argument here. In case you've missed it thus far, people are in uproar over a young girls back.

Where the hell is the uproar when starlet after starlet puts their vagina on display heading to the clubs?

Or when these crotch-flash fanatics are rolling out to clubs long before they hit the legit limit? No one seems to be up in arms about that.

Why does the back of Miley Cyrus now become an issue?

Is it because she's the image of wholesomeness and young grace that parents want their daughters to aspire to? Because not that long ago, they wanted their daughters to grow up to be like Britney the Virgin, until she decided the sweet innocence routine wasn't paying enough and adopted her slutty hillbilly baby factory persona she rocks today and no one says a goddamn word about Britney and those like her.

We're never going to escape this. There is always going to be the ridiculous double standard where sex sells but scores of people, including those who gain from the selling sex, get angry about things that they perceive as sexual.

I just didn't know that we were back in the old days where seeing a little back was enough to drive man into a sexual frenzy.

Continue reading ...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

I learned that I kind of shot myself in the foot for an easy three points rambling on about the recent developments of my life yesterday... d'oh!

1. Everyone Should See the Film Operation: Filmmaker
Easily the best documentary I've seen in a while. I watched it last night and haven't stopped thinking about it since. Just go watch it. Seriously.

2. I Jinxed the Jays
They haven't won a game since I set foot in the Rogers Centre for the first time this year. Hopefully, they win one before my next visit, since I don't know when that is going to be.

3. My Life Has Gotten A Lot Busier
This is a good thing, as now there isn't time for sitting around watching movies or just sacking out on the couch for the entire day. I have interviews to conduct for the Trot Magazine article, somehow have to find a way to sit down (on the phone) with Michael Musto, as well as my commitments to Bugs and Epic and writing this blog everyday. And two more weeks at Blockbuster. Then whatever shifts I have at Montana's. The summer is going to fly by.

4. Six More Sleeps...
Don't think that I forgot spending time with Sarah in the above list, because I didn't. She gets her own section. I pick her up next Saturday - or as Faye said last night, "Already?" Yes, already. We're both going to be super busy, but that is going to make all the time we do get to spend together and all the excursions we do go on even more enjoyable, because for the first time ever there is no studying or exams or homework or classes... just work and play. Again, this summer is going to fly by!

5. Montana's Is Already Better Than Blockbuster
Went to Orientation this AM and I have to say, being back in a restaurant environment with minimal responsibility and a high-energy atmosphere is so refreshing. Sure there are remedial tasks and there will be slow days, as well as all the usual crap that accompanies any job, but at least at the end of the day I will have tip money to come home and count. Note: This only applies to the London Bklockbuster... I miss the Ropewalk Crew!

6. You Know You Visit Starbucks Too Often When...
The people behind the counter already recognize you. Seriously, I've been here in London for what, two weeks? Once again - My name is Spencer and I have a Starbucks Addiction.

7. Getting the Ink Itch
My friend and tattoo artist Mark Zammit has been posting a bunch of pictures of his work on Facebook over the last couple days and it always ends up in my stalker feed. Consequently, I'm dying to go and get more work done. Every time I see something I like, I clutch at the cross on my arm where the next few pieces are going to go.

8. The Idea
I got the cross a couple years ago now, not really on a whim, but without doing any research or finding something really unique. Not that I don't like it, but it's kind of plain, which isn't me. I don't do vanilla, which got me thinking about what I can do with it to make it more personal and more me. The results? I'm going to add various other pieces of religious iconography to it - Buddha, Star of David, a Hindu deity, etc. - and get the words for "equality" and "understanding" in Islamic script put above and below it. In my mind, it looks awesome. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

9. Can I Write That Off?
Dropped $100 on a digital voice recorder this week so that instead of scribbling away in a notepad while pressing the phone to my ear, I can simply press record and have a conversation with the people I'm interviewing. It also comes with transcription software, you know, because I'm lazy. But dropping that kind of cash on something for work made me wonder if I can write that puppy off at the end of the year? Anyone with a little insight, feel free to let me know.

10. Congratulations Tony & Heather... Hello Baby Jessica!
A new edition to the Ropewalk Blockbuster family arrived this week with the birth of my former ASM Tony's daughter Jessica. Mother and daughter are both doing well by all accounts and Tony has already started polishing his shotgun for the first time some snot-nosed punk comes to pick Jessica up for her first date. She's beautiful guys... congratulations!

Continue reading ...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Damn Straight, Sheryl Crow!

A change will do me good and over the last couple of days, a great deal has changed. The goodness of said changes will officially be determined later, but I'm pretty psyched about the possibilities.

The biggest announcement - or at least the one I am happiest about - is that my time at Blockbuster Video is coming to an end.

I gave my two weeks notice earlier today, as instead of asking "Ever heard of our Rewards Program?" I will now be asking "What can I cook for you tonight?" in my Montana's Cookhouse shirt. Spencer the Server is back and I like it!

But I wouldn't be evoking Sheryl Crow for just one thing. One thing is a tweak.

Announcement #2 is my addition to the contributors list at Trot Magazine (Stop Laughing Sarah...) with an initial assignment already sitting on my desk and being worked on in my head.

As much as I love working for Passion and you, me and the intelligent folks in the world acknowledge the validity and quality contributions of blogs and sites like Epic and Bugs, Trot serves as my first foray into a nationally recognized publication in an industry that I have a great deal of knowledge about and have grown up loving.

One is a tweak, two is only an adjustment. A change is three...

Interviewing Michael Musto for the next issue of Passion rounds out the trio of triumphs that leads to referencing Sheryl Crow songs.

This was something I put to my editors and they have agreed, marking the second time in as many issues that I will be putting together something of my own creation for publication.

Musto is one of the best in the celebrity gossip business and has been for years with his La Dolce Musto column and Daily Musto blog at the Village Voice and getting this interview is a huge step forward for my career. Now all I have to do is manage to nail him down for a couple minutes sometime soon to see what he has to say about our current crop of celebrities.

Now that I've put all of this down in words and sat here looking at it, perhaps I've picked the wrong song to riff on. Maybe this should have been The Doors...

Break on through to the other side

Naw, Jim Morrison was as dick and I hate Val Kilmer!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: SexyBack
Artist: Justin Timberlake
Album: FutureSex / LoveSounds (2006)

Anyone who says this song isn't infectious and original is a liar. Period. End of sentence.

Forget all your preconceived notions about former boy band members, channeling Michael Jackson (not literally) and all the bullshit people spew about liking a cat like JT. The truth is, you should like JT and this song and this album.

FutureSex is one of my All-Time Favourite Albums and that's saying a lot because not very many artists put out worthy albums anymore. Justin did and its dynamic lead single was all the reason I needed to cop the album and keep on it heavy rotation to this very day.

What I love about this song is that when it first came out, people were totally divided on it and the majority were in the "What the hell is this?" Camp. Obviously, I was on the other side of the room, dancing my ass off knowing full well that "SexyBack" was going to end up being more than just a song.

Of course, I was right. Actually, I have to give credit where credit is due: Erica Sandy hooked me up to this track for the first time. She was my DJ at Na-Na's on Friday nights and spent her non-working hours scouring the Internet for the freshest music around. The instant this dropped, she had it and was playing it at Na-Na's to an empty dancefloor while she and I rocked out in the booth. So Erica was right and I tagged along on her very good call.


What has always gotten me about this song is that it was different from everything else at the time. Synthesizers hadn't made a comeback. Timbaland wasn't the producer of 2/3 of the songs on the radio and some people questioned whether the growing-up Justin that debuted with Justified could turn into Grown Man Justin and deliver something beyond bubblegum pop and thinly veiled Britney bashing.

"SexyBack" answered that in spades, as the song became more than a song; it became a fashion statement, an all-too-often-used turn of phrase and ushered in the era of Justin Timberlake, Megastar.

There are no razor sharp lyrics to speak of when it comes to this song - though I do thoroughly enjoy the line "Them other fuckers don't know how to act." YEAH!

For me, this song is about attitude and atmosphere. You can't deny that even today, as we're rapidly closing in on two years since it's release, this song still gets it done in the club and in your car and you develop a bit of a swagger whenever you hear it. At least I do.

Go White Boy Go!

Continue reading ...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wait, Someone Is At The Door

Opportunity is knocking and it couldn't be happening at a better time.

Blockbuster is growing more tiresome by the day and a change of scenery - even though I just started there - is desperately in need.

Enter Montana's.

The triumphant return of Spencer the Server looks like a good bet following my initial interview this morning. I was early, I was charming, I was funny and I said all the right things... I think. I must have done something right because Interview #2 takes place tomorrow with the person who put me through to Interview #1 in the first place. Me thinks this is just a formality...

That's not the only time opportunity has come knocking in recent days, as I've cultivated a new freelancing possibility as well.

One of the first things I did when I got back was start getting in touch with some old colleagues who always seem to know about an opportunity or two for a guy in my situation. One of those connections suggested I get in touch with the people at Standardbred Canada and, more specifically, Trot Magazine. Stop laughing Sarah...

I did just that and got a quick response to pass along whatever materials I had available so they could determine whether I was just a chucklehead with a lot of friends in the industry or a talented writer with a lot of friends in the industry.

After receiving and reviewing my portfolio yesterday, I got an email regarding my first potential assignment for an upcoming issue.

I don't want to jinx anything so I'm going to end it here, with my fingers crossed and an optimistic outlook for a summer filled with slinging ribs, counting tips and cranking the writing output up to 11.

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Rundown: Under the Influence

With moving to a new city again, there have been a number of instances over the last week or so that I have been quizzed about my career choice.

The first question, usually, is how I came to freelance writing, as no one tosses out "freelance writer" during the customary Elementary School "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Sessions. Hell, I couldn't even have answered "freelance writer" myself as recently as a couple years ago.

After that though, one of the most frequently asked questions is about my influences. Somehow, I've gone this long without putting them down here for your knowledge.

Top Five Influences

5. Peter Kyte
As much as we don't see eye to eye on a number of things, my brother was the first person in my life that I saw find his passion and chase after it. From the time he was fourteen, he knew he wanted harness racing to be where he made his career and nothing stood in the way of that. It's been a long and hard road over the years, but he's doing what he loves and is having some success doing it and that is really all that matters.

4. Kevin Smith
Speaking of people who dropped out of school to pursue their craft... Jersey's Own has built an outstanding career that started from thousands of dollars in credit card debts to make a little movie called Clerks. There is just an openness that comes across in Smith's work makes him even more appealing and influential to me. He's just a dude who wanted to make movies with his buddies...

3. Kanye West
Some people dislike Kanye for what they perceive as cockiness. I see it as confidence and an unwavering belief in himself. To me, anyone who wants to be the best at what they do needs that quality and Kanye has it in spades. How could he not? Not that long ago, no one had any interest in Kanye West the rapper. Now, he's one of the top artists in the world and one of my greatest influences.

2. George Stromboulopoulos
If you were around for Rundown #1, this one shouldn't surprise you. Strombo presents the ideal package of what I would like to be as a journalist - intelligence, character and wit with a healthy dose of Pop Culture knowledge thrown in there too. My Canadian idol...

1. Chuck Klosterman
His work is what first made me think a career in writing was a possibility. His Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs was the first book I had come across (courtesy of a Strombo segment on The New Music, incidentally) that combined great writing with the topics that are nearest and dearest to my heart: pop culture, video games, music, movies and self-deprication. I've read it all since then and have even followed him to Esquire over the last couple of years. Homeboy is my hero.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Book vs. Movie: Whose Side Are You On?

Normally, renting the movie version of a great book sits somewhere near the top of my Blockbuster Pet Peeve list.

Coming in and picking up a crappy rip off of Othello or Hamlet or Romeo & Juliet makes no sense to me. I mean, Shakespeare's work is so incredible on the page and open to such great personal interpretation that watching Josh Harnett as a high school Iago is absolutely ridiculous to me. Some of my All-Time Favourite Movies are based on books and as much as I like the movies, the books are still better.

But there are exceptions to ever rule. For instance, even I would much rather watch Ellen Burstyn in a film adaptation of the classic Margaret Laurence novel The Stone Angel.

Pete Luvisa subjected me to reading this book in Grade 10 English class and I've held a grudge against him ever since. Well, he was also my football coach for the one year I played and dogged me worse than anyone for the entire season, so that probably has something to do with it too.

If we're being honest - and we're always honest here - if the movie was around when I was reading the book, I wouldn't have hesitated to toss it in the VCR and faked my way through the differences. Yes, I said VCR. We didn't have DVD when I was in Grade 10.

This book actually shapes up quite well as a movie, as some often do. It's a visual book, from what I remember, rich in descriptions and emotion, which, when done correctly, works much better on the screen than it does on the page.

Stone Angel aside, I still advocate reading the book. It's almost always better - like the original over the remake and the first one over all the sequels.

Besides, I decided I'm going to start off by writing my book and I don't want you just sitting around waiting for the movie to come out...

Continue reading ...

The More Things Change...

Two minutes into arriving at Gate 9 and hooking up with my friend Beast (*pictured) today, I knew that nothing had changed.

You would think two years and life would make it a little difficult to fall right back into that old flow wouldn't you? Silly you...

It was like the whole moving to Newfoundland never took place, other than the fact that we talked about my move and life in Newfoundland right off the bat. But you know what I mean.

Witty, entertaining banter with Beast isn't the only thing that hasn't changed in the two years since I last frequented Toronto.

Street meat out front of the Dome is still one of my favourite delicacies in the world. All beef dog, egg bun, lots of mustard. Golden.

Toronto sports fans are still as annoying in person as I remember them being too. We had a collection of know it all wannabes behind us all afternoon who critiqued every pitch and discussed the production of their fantasy lineups all game long. This wouldn't have been bad, except for the fact that they didn't know shit and just kept tossing out douchebag cliche after douchebag cliche, including all the requisite pseudo-cool guy poseur comments about good looking women and how it's not the same sitting amongst the common people instead of being in a box.

Trust me, everyone in the section would have loved for you to have been in a box!

Josie Dye on 102.1 The Edge is still awful. Honestly, she might be the worst DJ in the world. It's as if she enjoys listening to herself, so she never shuts up and what she does say usually contains mistakes. Not as bad as the guy on some nobody station introducing the latest from Millie Cyrus today, but still.

Traffic out of "The City" is still a pain in my ass too. 3 hours from Dome to Home... Garbage! Not that the drive will stop me from making routine trips to the Rogers Centre this season or anything. It'll just be something I complain about every time I go, that's all.

Most of all, the experience of live baseball hasn't changed, both the game itself and how much I love it.

The crack of the bat.
Watching a curveball curve and a slider slide from behind the plate.
The Jays failing to score a run with the bases loaded on two separate occasions.
Beast's insistence that he could hit an 85 mph fastball if he knew it was coming.

Nothing has changed... and that's just the way I like it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Okay, so the picture isn't Beast.
It's Jack Black.
But it could be Beast.
I honestly think they're twins who were separated at birth, which would either make Beast 38 or Jack Black 29...

Go Beast Go!

Continue reading ...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

Back on my own computer, sitting in my newly established "office" and ready to deliver.

Come and get it, bitches!

1. Patience
Seriously, I learned to be patient this week. Actually, somewhat overnight. Yesterday I was in a funk, stuck with the lingering thought that I won't ever get off my ass and write my book and might not amount to anything more than a movie jockey at Blockbuster who does a little writing on the side. Then I got off my ass this morning and hit Staples to get my portfolio put together and wrote two pieces for Bugs. Now I'm here doing this little number and it's not even 1:00 yet. I needed to feel miserable in order to remember that things aren't going to happen overnight and I can't control the written universe. I know - I'm a bit dramatic sometimes, eh?

2. My Head Isn't In It
There is no part of me that is conscientious about working at Blockbuster now. It is merely a distraction that interferes with every other aspect of my life. Case in point, I drove to work yesterday without my keys to lock up at the end of the night. Normally, I'm an anal retentive, overly prepared freak show who turns up for work 20 minutes early to see if there is anything I can help with. Now, here, I show up totally unprepared five minutes before I go on the clock. Not a good sign.

3. A Must Read
I started reading John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me earlier in the week and though I am only a handful of pages in, I feel obligated to tell everyone to read this book. Griffin, a white man, dyes his skin and lives a year as a Black man in the South, starting in October 1959. This could be one of those life changing books for me.

4. Tomorrow, I Relax
And by relax, I mean grab a seat in the upper deck of the Rogers Centre alongside my one-time roommate Beast and a couple friends watching the finale of the Blue Jays - Tigers series. I'm looking forward to this for many reasons: (1) "Beer and a Dog," (2) Beast is one of the funniest people I know and always entertaining, (3) it gives me a chance to price out a retro Blue Jays jersey so I know how much it'll cost when I try to convince Sarah that I really, really need one.

5. After Today, I'm Flying Solo
That ironic twist I told you about a couple weeks ago gets triggered today, as later this afternoon I'll be dropping Garry off at the airport in Hammertown for a three week jaunt to Calgary and Vancouver. While we haven't gotten the month of "bond building" I initially aimed for this to be, we've had a solid ten days and there is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a smooth and enjoyable summer.

6. What is it with London and Homophobia?
One of the people I work with has insinuated twice that things I do - or don't do - are gay. My owning and drinking from a pink Brita water bottle caught me an awkward glance and curious questions. My refusal to move the two awareness bracelets that have adorned my left wrist for the better part of four years over to my right to cover my tattoo was met with the remark, "Why is it a gay thing?" That one got Person A the stink eye. It's 2008 and for chrissakes! Get over yourself and your hangups already...

7. Dinner Monday Night...
Harvey's! It's been too damn long since I sank my teeth into a bad-ass, made just the way you like it Harvey's Hamburger and Monday is going to be the end of that drought. Bacon Cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, relish, tomato, hot peppers and pickles... Delicious!

8. Apparently, I Have a Talent for Unpacking
Garry was quite impressed with how "industrious" (his word, not mine) I was on Thursday once my stuff arrived. We bombed it into the kitchen around noon and by the time he came home at five, I had pretty near everything unpacked, the room totally realigned to best optimize space and many of the little "feels like home" touches already in place, like Sarah's Mini Christmas Tree and a couple of framed pictures. This is what happens when you've moved as much as I have.

9. My Name is Spencer and I Have a Caffeine Dependency
Friday on the way to work I declined a coffee. I wasn't feeling well and just knew that a large double-double wasn't the cure that I needed. In my head, not having to go to boring-ass work was the cure I needed. All day long, my headache persisted. Ate food, drank water and nothing. Sitting after dinner, Garry tossed me the keys and told me to go to Starbucks. Twenty minutes later and three chugs into my Venti Komodo Dragon, headache gone. Good ol' caffeine to the rescue. The moral of this story: Coffee has healing powers!

10. How Cool Would It Be...
If I got to interview Ellen Page for the next issue of Passion? We're doing a Celebrity Issue next and in Spencer tradition, I started pitching assignment ideas to my editor a couple weeks ago. Then I watched Juno Tuesday night (and again Wednesday night with the Commentary) and got to thinking, "Hey, Ellen Page fits everything we're looking for. Canadian, celebrity, relevant, even buzz-worthy..." So I sent Nicole an email saying the same and am sitting here clinging to my pipe dream of picking up the phone in the next two weeks and having a conversation with Juno MacGuff. Is it going to happen? Probably not, but shit, what's the harm in hoping?

Continue reading ...

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I have to go to work tonight.

Not a major event, I know, but it's eating away at me.

In the two days I've Rocked the Block London-style, I've served maybe 25 customers. Maybe. Sure, that was daylight hours and people got jobs, but still. I had to call the store last night and the report was that the tumbleweeds were rolling down the aisles. This is what happens when the sunshine comes out.

For the first time in since I've been here, I really just feel like staying where I am right now and putting fingers to keys for the duration of the night.

Actually, I finally feel like putting fingers to keys for the duration of several nights, weeks even and getting my much-talked about, much-delayed book out of my head and into words on the 19" flat screen before me. Stupid Josh Harnett, making we want to display my developing voice.

I know: WTF?

Last night I watched Resurrecting The Champ, a flick that stars the doe-eyed Harnett as a second generation sports writer who hasn't found his voice, or himself for that matter, who stumbles upon a homeless man who claims to be a former heavyweight champ. Said homeless man is portrayed by a dreadlocked Samuel L. Jackson, with a voice very similar to Tyrone Biggums. With every line, I waited for a "I don't know if you know this Joe Rogan - I Smoke Rocks!"

Anyway, point is, that over the course of this flick - which I recommend to everyone once it hits shelves Tuesday - Harnett sorts out who he is, what he is and what is most important to him. He finds his voice. Which got me to reflecting.

I have my voice, or at least I think I do. And I have my subject matter. I know my plotlines and I know the arc of the story. So what the hell is topping me?

Up until yesterday evening I would have told you any number of things: from Blockbuster to being tired to spending way to much time watching shitty Blue Jays games where they can't hit with runners in scoring position. But none of that is actually the truth.

I'm stopping me.

I'm scared to write my book.

It's way easier to sit here being the sarcastic blogger with a couple other gigs who can slag on Blockbuster Video without ever taking the chance to see if I actually have what it takes. Plus, the security of a job, regardless of how much I hate it, means that I don't ever feel a sense of panic to change things, because I can always tell myself and others that I haven't just said, "Fuck it" and reached for the brass ring because I have responsibilities.

Responsibilities aren't holding me back.

I am and I don't know how to get out of my own way.

Continue reading ...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Better Life
Artist: Keith Urban
Album: Be Here (2004)

Plain and simple, this is our song. I miss my girl and this is for her.

Someday baby,
You and I are gonna be the ones
Good luck's gonna shine
Someday baby,
You and I are gonna be the ones
So hold on, we're headed for a better life.

Get home soon...

Continue reading ...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Life is a Sitcom, My Stuff Has Arrived and My First Spam Encounter

Talking to my friend Smitty today, he quipped that living here with Sarah's dad and the unique dynamic that presents itself has all the makings of a sitcom.

This was before I told him about the cleaning lady.

Unintenionally entertaining is the only way I can explain it. You know those people who just don't have off switches and who say whatever it is that comes to mind, without sorting it out in their head to make sure it's not offensive or able to be misunderstood? She's one of them and I nearly pissed myself listening to her this morning.

Understand this: she arrives at 9 AM and from the pace she rambles on at has been up since 5 and had 47 cups of coffee before she got here. Wired!

So the non-stop talking machine blows through the door this morning and offers up some Mexican candy to both Garry and I right off the hop. I accept a piece with every intention of throwing it out when she isn't looking (which I did) just to save any further interaction. Somehow, Garry doesn't pick up on this tactic and simply declines.

Her response? "What's wrong Garry, you don't like Mexicans?"

I nearly fucking died. If I wasn't heading out the door for the morning 'bucks run (Venti Komodo Dragon Bold Blend... my new fav) I would have jumped in with a "Yeah Garry, what do you have against Mexicans?" as if declining a piece of candy makes you opposed to an entire nation of people. That wasn't it though.

Around 11 or so, my stuff arrived, finally.

So the delivery guy and I are bombing it into the kitchen when the cleaning lady fires out, "Oh, this must be the boyfriend's father. Hi there!" Note: I'm only referred to as "The Boyfriend" since asking my name would be way to simple...

Laughing, Garry counters by explaining, "No, that's the shipper."

"Oh, hi Shipper!"

I peed my pants a little, I'm not going to lie.

Toss in her insistance that I remove myself from the kitchen table 45 minutes before she got around to cleaning it, her belief that I'm "awful fancy" for having coffee and a piece of toast in the morning and telling Garry on the side to make sure I know to stay out of her way because she needs to clean, as if I was trying to box her out the whole morning and you have to agree that somewhere in there lies a potential sitcom.

Or lawsuit.

One of the two.

* * * * * * * * * *

As mentioned, "Shipper" arrived with my stuff today, a few days beyond the weekend delivery date I was originally given, but I kind of expected that.

You do, in fact, get what you pay for and since I didn't pay very much for the transit of all our worldly possessions from St. John's, a couple extra days sans full wardrode wasn't a big deal at all.

Everything is here, despite the mismatched counts of boxes; 25 left Newfoundland according to the boys loading it and 23 hit the kitchen floor today. I've unpacked it all and have come to the conclusion that the boys in Newfoundland didn't do so well in math class, which probably explains why they're working for the discount shipping company...

* * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday's post garnered a rather unique initial comment.

As my man Newt astutely points out, I received my first spam comment, a benchmark for any blogger.

It's reassuring to know that my work is "likeable" and "very interesting," garnering me "a hug" from the sender.

Needless to say, I didn't click the link and don't recommend anyone else try it either.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Be-da-be-da-be-da-be Dat's all folks!"
-Porky Pig

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Rundown: Feeling Basic

It's 9-ish and I just got home. Been a busy day, sort of.

Day One rocking the new Block was okay - no problems, no hassles, no work to be honest. It was boring and I don't like boring. Boring makes me want to slit my wrists. Not really, don't worry.

After that, Garry called and said Boston Pizza was cooking dinner tonight and who am I to argue with that?

So, me and my full belly are ready to get horizontal and watch Juno. Can I just say one thing?


Okay, that was three things. Whatever!

Prepping to watch one of my favourite movies and being extremely chilled got me thinking that it's been a long enough time since debuting this segment to drop a easy one on you.

Like Cusack's character in High Fidelity said when his turn to drop an All Time Top Five rolled around - I'm feelin' basic. Not the All-Time Side 1, Track 1 but...

All-Time Top Five Movies

5. Crash
The one about how racism touches all of us, not the one about people who really, really like car accidents. What can I say about this movie? It's poignant without being heavy-handed and has some incredible performances, including a surprisingly good turn by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. Certainly a must-see movie.

4. Thank You For Smoking
Juno's Canadian Director Jason Reitman's first foray into feature films ranks in the five hole for being bitingly funny, sarcastic, critical and altogether awesome. Aaron Eckhart is supremely underrated, Mario Bello is always awesome and I'm already given you my thoughts on JK Simmons a couple months back. As much as I love this movie, the book is even better.

3. Godfather II
If I need to explain this, than you have no concept of what a great movie is. I'm leaving it at that.

2. Garden State
D'you know how some movies that try to be about "real life" are really crappy and have no connection to "real life" at all? This isn't one of them. In fact, it's the opposite. It's real and funny and sad and smart and ironic and sarcastic and awesome. Zach Braff is one of my heroes and gets extra points for not being JD from Scrubs for a minute of this movie.

1. High Fidelity
I can't believe how many people haven't seen this movie or totally disregarded it. It's wicked! Jack Black and Todd Louiso as "The Musical Moron Twins" as John Cusack's Rob Gordon calls them are pitch-perfect for the entire movie. Tim Robbins' pseudo-Seagal rebound boyfriend is classic and Cusack as the everyman dumbass anti-hero delivers a performance that is sure to make every man see themselves from some point in their life. On top of that, the soundtrack is so good... same with the book!

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Business 101

Just a quickie to see if I'm totally insane or whether my business sense is as good as I've always thought it was.

You hire a new guy that you don't necessarily want to bring on board but someone tells you you have to, so you do but your frustration with having to do so is pretty obvious.

Then, the day that you arrange to come in and meet him, you no show because something else came up, making him feel even more welcomed.

Finally, the day before he's supposed to work his first shift, you give him a call to see if he can come to where you are and pick up keys to open the store the next day. By himself. When you still haven't met him. And he has no idea where anything in the store is. Or who anyone is. Or say, I dunno, the code for the safe and the alarm maybe?

Is it just me or is that a really, really bad business strategy?

Please send any interesting job opportunties to

Thank you.

Continue reading ...

I Gotta Work Tomorrow?

D'you know how hard it is going to be to go to work tomorrow?

I've been off now for nearly two full weeks and I have no desire whatsoever to continue my career shilling movies.

Not that I have anything against Blockbuster, just it's Blockbuster. Even though they're giving me a raise and I don't have to work that many hours, the store is way across town, I don't have a car full-time yet and have never been a fan of Public Transportation Systems and, well, yeah, I'm a slacker!

I would much rather sit at home, watch afternoon baseball games and type away on this here computer, providing you with witty goodness and self-righteous opinion like yesterday than say, receive next week's rental and once again listen to people ask me for that movie starring that guy that was in that film with that other guy...

Thing is, it's not that I don't like work in general; I do, when it is work that I see a purpose in and a point to doing. Shilling movies, while it provides a couple hours of entertainment for each paying customer, isn't really what you call rewarding.

It's like my friend Jeff Woodrow, who quit his well-paying job doing what he went to school for to start making t-shirts. Today, that t-shirt idea is a growing company that is gaining national and international attention (including an article in the latest issue of Passion penned by me) and giving Woody the opportunitity to do work that he enjoys. Isn't that what it's all about?

For me, it is and it will be, just I don't have the ability to walk away from a job right now. I've done it too many times before and need to ensure that the cash continues to flow into my bank account. I have responsibilities right now and I intend to honour them.

One of these days though, things will work out. A few more freelance jobs will fall into place, the money will start to get better and better and I can get on with doing what I want to do...

Grab a bag a chips and a can of Coke while I kick back and watch the ball game!
* * * * * * * * * *
Help change the world one t-shirt at a time... Visit Joy T-Shirt and order your own today!

Continue reading ...

Monday, April 14, 2008

In a Way, I Hate Myself

Technically speaking, I am part of the media.

No, not because I operate this here blog o'goodness, but because someone pays me to write things that are accessible to millions, though only about 47 people ever read them.

Over this weekend, listening to and reading all the coverage of The Masters has made me very,very angry with the media.

Therefore, I was very, very angry with myself, in a way. See how that works?

Now, the truth of the matter is that I called my peers out on this yesterday over at Epic Carnival and have done so again today with a follow up piece reminding everyone that Trevor Immelman won, as opposed to Tiger losing.

But this isn't confined to golf. Or sports. It's an all-encompassing epidemic and it's taken over mass media.

The biggest names get the biggest coverage even when their story is of the least significance. I know this is because the biggest names draw the most attention and yield the most dollars for the companies and conglomerates who produce the product, but that doesn't mean I have to accept it.

This is the same kind of machine I was raging against earlier this year when I started my Press Coverage series at Epic; drawing attention to the stories that are worthy of our attention, instead of just the arrested athletes and boozy trainwrecks of the world.

What happened to that segment? It fell by the wayside because (a) there just aren't enough great stories in sports over a week that you can find coverage of and (b) readership wasn't that strong because none of the articles involved sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Pushing positive is a precarious position.

Don't get me wrong - I love my Pop Culture and know all the scoops and all the stoies; it's just that I also know about the shady electoral results in Zimbawae and the Seal Hunting Scandal back East, which makes Pop Culture the junk food in my information diet, not the main course.

The big names may sell the most issues, but when the big names aren't doing big things, why not focus on the little people who are?

At least Esquire called themselves on it with their current cover - the picture may be Jello For Brains Jessica, but the words tell you they "used this picture to get your attention" so you read the story of an American soldier in Iraq that is outstanding. For now, I'll take these little victories.

For now...

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

Whirlwind Week is officially over. Here is what came from it ...

1. Where's Justine Bateman?
I've already found my new watering hole here in London and it's called The Alex P. Keaton. How awesome is that? A bar named after Michael J. Fox's classic Family Ties character that features big plates of Sweet Potato Fries, unique beverage choices and live music every night, including Old School Hip Hop Saturdays. Cold beer and vintage Eric B. and Rakim? Sign me up.

2. I Miss My Store
Been to the new Blockbuster location twice and I gotta say, I'm not impressed. I won't go into detail and I knew this would be the case, but I really do wish everyone I rocked the Block with in St. John's had just relocated up here with me.

3. London Makes Me Read
No idea what it is, but me being in this city makes me read more. Or maybe it's that I have books on my nightstand that I want to read whenever I am here, but still. I knocked off three books when we were hear over Christmas killing deer and in the four days since I arrived, I've already just about finished How to Lose Friends and Alienate People with Black Like Me waiting in the wings. Sadly, I still can't find $40 Million Slaves anywhere in stores. Guess I'll have to order it.
4. Angelo's = Awesome
Having an Italian deli / butcher / grocer in my new backyard is tremendous. Shopping fresh daily is something that I am very much in favour of and being able to go next door, grab some fresh breads, meats, cheeses and snacks whenever I want is going to be a favourite activity all summer long.

5. Opportunity Will Knock
It hasn't yet, but they'll have the address shortly so that they can come calling. Checking out the possibility of doing some freelancing in the harness racing business, an industry that I grew up around and which provides a living for a number of close friends. Fingers crossed people, fingers crossed.

6. Already in Rhythm
Garry and I have found a nice rhythm to living together already. Playoff hockey, Blue Jays baseball and The Masters will do that for you. So too does the wicked new TV we're currently sitting in front of watching Montreal and Boston battle it out. But it's more than sports - meals, groceries, dishes, laughs, everything is falling into place and confirming even more that this was a good idea and will be a great summer.

7. Speaking of Montreal...
Of course I want my Red Wings to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup, but Montreal looks really, really good. All those people who called for Bob Gainey's head at the Trade Deadline need to offer up their apologies right about now. All Carey Price does is win. Last time I checked, that was a good thing.

8. Sarah is Settling in Too
Reports from the booming metropolis of Hopedale are great so far; no problems this first week, aside from a snow storm and she sounds more confident than I have ever heard her when it comes to her nursing skills, abilities and future. As an added bonus, she's adopted the Clinic's puppy and made it her mission to teach this dog some tricks.
9. Dude, Where's My Stuff?
Because it's not here yet. Talked to the fine folks from Ship It earlier in the week and was told one day this weekend. It's now Sunday night and no sign of them. Hopefully they come soon - the wardrobe is awful thin right about now.

10. Stop-Loss: Just Okay
As you know, I was really looking forward to seeing this film, Kim Peirce's second effort about soldiers being sent back to Iraq after their tours are completed. While I love the fact that it tackles a very difficult issue, contains the line "Fuck the President!" and has an Oscar-worthy performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it still fell a little flat for me. Probably Ryan Phillippe's fault, since I don't really like him and he isn't great carrying this movie. Channing Tatum could have been even better too.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Connecting With Connections Who Have Connections

I know what you're thinking: Huh?

Allow me to explain.

Getting home to Ontario has re-opened the digital pathways and social networks that I developed and cultivated over the 27 years I spent here before my Newfoundland adventure. That may sound like nothing overly exciting to any of you, but for me, it's fantastic.

One thing I learned very early in life is the old axiom is true - it's not what you know, it's who you know and here in Ontario, I know a lot of people.

That's one of the perks of having been a nomad my entire life; moving around gives you the opportunity to meet a lot more people than staying in one place. Being an extrovert helps too, as does the record amounts of useless Pop Culture and sports-based knowledge I have stored away in my big ol' head.

So, over the years, I met a lot of people. Surprisingly, most of them actually like me enough to remain in touch and friendly now that they know I'm back home. And that is important.

Somebody is bound to know somebody who is looking for someone to write something for them or has an opening somewhere or doing something a little more fulfilling than ensuring Londoners have themselves a Blockbuster Evening. The Facebook'ing has already begun in full force.

But let's be honest - it's not all about job hunting. The connections have also yielded a night out for drinks tonight with an old friend... which is something else that was missing in Newfoundland.

Continue reading ...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Artist: City and Colour
Album: Sometimes (2005)

There are so many reasons why this song makes the cut for today's feature on the soundtrack.

We'll start with this week being my actual homecoming, as I landed in Ontario on Tuesday morning and in the three days I have been home, I've felt more comfortable than I did in nearly two years in Newfoundland.

Not to say anything against the people there and the friends I made - because I love you all - but there is just something about returning to a place where there are people you have long-standing relationships with that feels right. This is where my family is and having them close by is a comfort and something I have missed.

Except, the most important member of my family isn't here with me. She's away and that is part number two of the connection with this song.

Dallas Green - get it, city and colour - spins this song about being away from the one he loves and the stress and strain it puts on a relationship. Now, I'm not saying there is stress and strain between me and Sarah, because we're the furthest thing from it, but being away from one another, no matter what the circumstances, is heartache.

Well I've seen a palace in London
I've seen a castle in Wales
But I'd rather wake up beside you
And breathe that old familiar smell.

This line sums it all up perfectly. You could offer me anything in the world and provide me the greatest riches around, but I would take laying in the same bed as my beautiful girl over anything and that is an awesome feeling.

Finally, there is simply the musicality of the song itself.

I've said before that I have an incredible love of acoustic music - and if I haven't before then I just did now - and this song, as with all City and Colour songs, delivers in spades. It would also be extremely fair to say that I really love the wicked paradox between this project and Dallas Green's other project, Canadian hardcore stars Alexisonfire.

Do yourself a favour and look into City and Colour. Same as always, you can thank me later.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

D'You Know What I Did Today?

I went for a walk.

Me, the smoky bastard who used to drive around the corner to go to the store instead of marching the twelve steps it would have taken.
Well, not any more.
After waking up and spending a little time surfing - making up for lost time in the Dark Ages of Faye's house - I realized that I don't live in the frozen wasteland of Newfoundland anymore and it's well above freezing already, so why not get off my ass and get out of the house?

Okay, that's a bit of a lie.

The main reason for leaving was two-fold: Starbucks and a cigarette. Threefold if you include the search for the latest issue of Passion, featuring my profile of Joy T-Shirts.

Regardless, my intentions being whatever they were, it's still involved getting up and outdoors and walking to Starbucks, a location I remembered from our Bambi Killing extended stay here over Christmas.

No luck finding the new issue, but I did find myself a nice Venti WCM, took a quick glance through the latest issue of Naked Eye - it's a Canadian Pop Culture Mag you sick bastards - and strolled home in the beautiful sunshine and cool breeze.

The plan for the rest of the day is all about hyper-domesticity: unpacking the bags and getting situated in my (our) new room, grabbing a couple groceries at the awesome Italian bakery / deli behind the house and making an awesome dinner of Italian Sausage and Peppers pasta with a nice fresh loaf of crusty bread.

So far, so good... not that I was worried.

* * * * * * * * * *

Scored sushi at Ye's in Kitchener last night.

Best ever, no question. $25 All-You-Can-Eat, the freshest you can imagine and damn delicious.

Now, if they could get the servers to not throw everything at you, the joint would be perfect.

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Rundown: Drink It In

Spent last night hanging out and having dinner with Faye, Murielle and Emily Grace. Today is Mur's birthday and we wanted to have a little visit since I haven't seen my beautiful niece since Christmas when all she did was cry.

The visit was awesome - she's so big and so active and so much like my brother it's not even funny. She's going to be a stunner and a little troublemaker; you can already see it in her eyes, the way she knows when she's doing something she shouldn't but keeps doing it anyway.

Once we got home - around 10:00, 11:30 to me - Faye offered me a drink she called Blueberry Tea. Now, since my mother has a long history of drinking actual tea, I figured it would be some new flavoured deal that she's into and said sure. Boy was I wrong.

This concoction did involve a bags worth of Orange Pekoe and hot water, but also a sizable shot of Grand Marnier and Amaretto and all I can say is Yowza! Hot, sweet liquor is not my thing. Faye, she loves the stuff. Me, not so much. But it got me thinking and brings me to today's Rundown...

All-Time Top Five Drinks (Alcoholic or Otherwise)

5. A Nice Glass of Wine
In no way am I a Wine Snob. I know a little, but I'll never be the guy who sits around trying to explain to someone who just happens to like wine the difference between a Cabernet and a Merlot. Who cares? If you like it, drink up. I'm still big into the Australian wines right now and a nice Italian Pinot Grigio is always good. But ultimately, any glass will do.

4. Venti White Chocolate Mocha
Oh yeah, Starbucks is making an appearance on this here list! Faye actually had the audacity to tell me yesterday that she, "Doesn't really like Starbucks," as if that is humanly possible. Everyone should like Starbucks, even if it's simply for the fact that small, medium and large doesn't exist and you can order the most basic or elaborate beverage you please. Mine is fairly easy, but utterly delicious.

3. Bailey's on Ice
This one should be a standard for everyone. Seriously, a nice tumbler full of Bailey's over a couple of ice cubes is heaven in a glass at just about any hour. Winding down at the end of a long day? Sip some Bailey's. Casual dinner party where you don't want to get too loaded? Sip some Bailey's. Wednesday afternoon in Cambridge with 20 minutes left on your guest pass for the library computer? Go home and sip some Bailey's...

2. Tim Horton's Double Double
I have no idea what it is about this stuff. Maybe they do actually put addictive chemicals into the mixture. Whatever the case, I can't drink anything else from this Canadian institution. The even weirder part? I'm not picky about the amount of sugar or cream in my coffee anywhere except at Timmy's. It's ridiculous... and so damn good that I'm going to get another one before I head home for that Bailey's.

1. Guinness
There is nothing else that could possibly top this list. It's kind of like the Bailey's idea where it fits at just about any time and place, except that there are the added bonuses of (a) it's full of vitamin goodness, (b) a couple of these is like a colon cleansing in a glass and (c) watching the cascade of this dark deliciousness is absolutely one of the best barstool experiences and man can have. Mix in the nostalgia factor of Pub Days Past and you have the makings of an easy #1.

* * * * * * * * * *

Heading off to London tonight to get settled in with Sarah's Dad.

I'm actually really looking forward to it and am glad that we're getting this time to hang out together without her. Not that I don't want her around of course, but getting a little time to get to know Garry outside of being Sarah's dad is important to me and can only serve us better down the road.

That also means that the pack of smokes currently residing in my left front pocket is the last one.

Yeah. I know. You've heard it before. Only difference is, this time, I have my future father-in-law ready to bust my balls every time I venture outdoors for some unfresh air and that's not the summer I want to have.

* * * * * * * * *

Should be back online full-out tomorrow. I never knew how addicted to Facebook I was until yesterday... I'm twitching without it.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Back to Ontario and The Dark Ages

Goddamn today has been a long day. It's 4:30 in my world, but only 3:00 here in Cambridge, Ontario and the little library that could around the corner from Faye's place where I'll be holed up for the next day or two having a visit and detoxing from Newfoundland...

As nice as it is to be back in Ontario, shacking up at Faye's is like a trip back to The Dark Ages. I feel like Harrison Ford in Witness when he hides out in Amish country, except there is no barn-raising scene and I'm no John Book.

What does all that mean? It's means my mother lives in the goddamn Stone Age, sans TV save for two, sometimes three fuzzy channels on her 12" rotary dial television and devoid of the Internet. How in the world can someone survive in today's day and age without Internet access?

Which brings me to the little library around the corner and the timer counting down from 20 minutes in the top right corner of my screen, an indication of the amount of time I have left on my guest pass to accessing the Internet. Seriously, this is what it comes to for the next couple days. Your favourite blogging smart-ass tripping around the corner to write in twenty minute installments, so long as one of the six computers are free.

Nothing personal against my mom, but I think it goes without saying that I'm eager to relocate to London and as much Internet as my heart desires.

* * * * * * * * * *

I hate flying. I only figured this out today.

It's not the actual process that I hate, but more the lack of comfort a gentlemen of my, how shall I put this - carriage - can achieve cramped into the window seat while the complaining airhead in front of me insists on having her seat as far away from the upright position as possible.

Couple that with a 6 am departure, only pay-per-view movies and the $3 charge for headphones that I was certainly not going to pay (yes, I'm that cheap) and it makes for a long 2 hours in the friendly skies between St. John's and Toronto.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sarah's flight got delayed, so I spent most of the morning wondering if she had made it out of the St. John's Airport or not.

She called a couple hours ago and has arrived in Goose Bay for the night before shuttling off to Hopedale and her community of 600 people for the next 26 days. No, I'm not counting at all.

I miss you Baby Girl... glad you're okay!

* * * * * * * * * *

No regular access = No photos. Sorry for the lack of visual stimulation...

Continue reading ...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Today really sucks.

Tomorrow is going to suck even more.

Everything except the things we're each bringing on our respective flights is packed and ready to be picked up, which means I'm sitting here in a big-ish empty house surrounded by boxes and even though I've done it more times than I care to count, it still gets to me.

Leaving Newfoundland is a lot harder for me than some of you may believe.

I know I bitch about things out here fairly regularly on this space, but the truth is that the best two years of my life, relationship wise and professionally, have taken place since I landed on the shores of Dear Ol' Newfoundland.

Coming here to be with Sarah was a huge leap of faith; a belief that the feelings we shared in our three weeks together before she returned for school were real and that the beautiful weekend we had at my cousin Rob's wedding that Thanksgiving could be duplicated.

Seventeen months later, I can't imagine being without her, even for this next month and know that the decision I made in October 2006 was easily the smartest decision of my life.

But Newfoundland has been about more than Sarah.

This is where my writing talents flourished and found homes.

I found Bugs & Cranks sitting in our apartment on Crosbie Road while scouring the Craigslist Toronto website one day. Passion Magazine happened the same way. Epic Carnival came from my work at Bugs.

And this little number right here was born out of an evening of drinks and dinner for my birthday at Fog City.

All the future success that may come via the pen or the keyboard originated in Newfoundland and that makes getting on a plane tomorrow with an indefinite return date a very hard thing to do.

What makes it a little easier is knowing that the friends I've made here are going to be friends for life.

They don't have a choice... I'll Facebook Stalk them!

Continue reading ...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

1. Best Weekend Ever
Everyone needs to do a weekend away whenever they have the opportunity. We spent the past couple days at The Beach House, a must visit for anyone coming to Newfoundland and a great spot for those who live here and need to get away. I'll tell you about the meals in a minute...

2. Thumbs Down: The Keg, Friday Night with the Nursing Class
Oh, the meal was good, as per usual and the Kettel One Martini was great, but the service... saying it was a little lacking would be an understatement. The point of reservations is to assure a group they get what they want, so why was the group that had the room from 5-8 still there when we rolled in and how was that our problem? And another thing: the waitress was either the most easily rattled waitress in the history of the world or it was her first night. She was horrible. That's why she got a $5.49 cent tip on a $70 bill...

3. Thumbs Up: Atlantica, Saturday Night at The Beach House
I interviewed the parties involved in Atlantica last June for an article that has yet to materialize in Passion Magazine and so finally getting to eat there was a nice treat. Actually, it was beyond a nice treat; it was the best meal I've had in my life. You have got to go. There is a reason it was named Canada's Best New Restaurant for 2007. The Seafood Soup starter was outstanding and my main, the biggest, most delicious tuna steak every, was heavenly. Yeah, I said heavenly. Sarah loved her Salmon Tartar and Pan Seared Scallops too. The Chocolate Truffles to end the night were dynamite too. You've got to go...

4. My Happy Place, Part I
Saturday morning we got up real early - Sarah woke at 7 am and opened the blinds. We were done breakfast and off for the day before 10 and our first stop was Middle Cove Beach. This spot is one of the reasons I'll miss Newfoundland. While it's only 20 minutes out of town, it feels like miles from everything. Peaceful, beautiful, right on the ocean... calming and soothing are the best two words to describe it. Being there refreshes me...

5. My Happy Place, Part II
Chapters followed Middle Cove Beach. I love Chapters. Delicious coffee, books and magazines galore, comfy chairs... heaven. You can be as social or antisocial as you want, leaf through as many magazines and books without buying a thing and stay until they close the store. Every time I walk out of that place I feel ready for a nap, it's that relaxing to me. They may not have Middle Cove Beach in Ontario, but at least I'll have Chapters.
6. So Much for UNC
Kansas thumped them last night. Thumped doesn't actually do it justice. They put a big time beatdown on the Tar Heels. The loss actually makes for an interesting question: Does Tyler Hansbrough turn pro or not? Last season's loss in the tourney left a sour taste in his mouth, so what will this one do? Sure he won Player of the Year, but he still doesn't have that National Championship. I still think he'll declare for the draft. Oh, and Kansas will beat Memphis tomorrow night.

7. The T-Shirts Look Great
I got my going away present from the E, Smash and Kim Thursday night - the long rumoured "I Heart Spencer" t-shirts with the address for this little number on the back. Sarah can be seen modeling the homemade beauties on the Facebook Fan Page. The desk pen and gift card were great too... as were the Cinnamon Buns too Yennifer!

8. Happy Birthday to the Original Edgar
My grandfather and namesake Edgar Gordon Levy turns 90 tomorrow. 90! I can't even imagine. Buster has been one of my artistic influences throughout my life, as he is a gifted painted and woodworker with a talent with the pen as well and I am proud to carry on his name. He's the reason the "E" is present in all my published works. That and I think it looks cool...

9. Decisions, Decisions
Book or Screenplay? Which do I write? Part of me thinks screenplay because I can bang it out faster than an actual book, but the novel is what truly burns inside me to be written. Any thoughts?

10. A Couple Days of Goodbyes...
Saying goodbye to the '97 Saturn Shitbox SL later today, my man Deuce later tonight, the Blockbuster Posse Monday afternoon and Newfoundland as a whole Tuesday morning. Parting is such sweet sorrow...

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Thnks fr th Mmrs
Artist: Fall Out Boy
Album: Infinity on High

So many reasons for this so we'll jump right in.

First and foremost - this is my shout out to The Blockbuster Posse.

I worked my last shift last night and all I can say to E, Smash, Kim, Lo, Jen, Cal, D, Tone and The Newbies is thanks for the memories. Even though I bitch about the place incessantly, it's never been about the people, because the people are top shelf.

Now I have to go to London and teach a whole new crew of people about the "What the Hell Happened To..." Game, the Direct to DVD Hall of Fame and what the definition of gangsterdom is.

Moving on...

I love Fall Out Boy and I could care less what you think about that.

Call them emo, call them pop punk, call them sell outs... whatever. They're dope, plain and simple. Yeah, I said dope.

Been down with the boys from Illinois since before the mainstream. Ask my old roommate Beast; I used to use Fall Out Boy lyrics and titles as my MSN name when we lived to together and he, like everyone else, thought I was totally insane... until "Sugar, We're Going Down" blew up and the light went on.

As for this song itself, there is a lot to like.

Pulling all the vowels from the title is awesome and has a two-fold intention. First, it's a nod to text messaging culture where ever word in the English language is shortened to the bare minimum. While I think texting is contributing to the dumbing down of our society as a whole, it's a great marketing idea and I can appreciate that. Cash rules everything around me... (someone please finish the lyric)

The second bit of awesomeness with the title is that it's a "Here, is this better?" to FOB's record label which has always complained about the long-winded titles of their songs. While I have to agree that "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued" is a bit much, it could be worse. They could have pulled a Fiona Apple and named their album... wait for it...

When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You'll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right.

As far as the actual song goes, the first thing that caught my ear was the great orchestral inclusions at the beginning. I don't know why but any song where orchestral music wouldn't normally be sounds really cool with an orchestral ensemble in it. Find the Orchestral Live Version of "Drive" by Incubus and tell me I'm wrong...

The second thing that hit me were, as per usual, the lyrics.

I've been the guy sitting down penning the letters or, more appropriately for this song, the text messages that fit with Pete Wentz' words:

And I want these words to make things right
But it's for wrongs that make the words come to life
Who does he think he is?
If that's the worst you got, better put your fingers back to the keys

Now there is one line that has been puzzling to many, myself included initially, from the time the album was released. It's the last line of the chorus, which goes as follows:

One night and one more time
Thanks for the memories
Even though they weren't so great
He tastes like you only sweeter

The "He tastes like you only sweeter" is an reference to a line from the Mike Nicholls film Closer (available at Blockbuster Video...) and is meant to be a verbal dagger to a scorned lover. She's telling him about the sex with other guy... not he's having sex with the guy too as some have thought.

I just realized that this is the longest Soundtrack I've dropped in some time, by far, so I'm going to wrap it up.

I dig this band - and their friends Gym Class Heros (One Day at a Time, Trav....) - and I dig this song.

Give them a shot and give it a listen and you will too.

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D'You Know What I Won't Miss?

The 8 a.m. stomping and shouting matches in the apartment above us.

I mean, it's bad enough that they apparently are on the cutting edge of the fashion industry and are the first to realize that cement shoes actually are a great look, especially when you come home loaded at 2 in the morning, but then how come they can't be like the rest of us after a good drunk?

Sleep in and stay as quiet as possible. Hell, I turned our fridge off two Sunday's back just because it was making too much noise...

Not these people though; they're up at 8 a.m. slamming doors and screaming at each other in between trips to their deck to smoke darts that end up making the yard look like a giant ashtray.

I could handle it when it was the 3-year-old kid; he doesn't know any better and that's what kids do, right? I got up every morning at 7 to watch cartoons and have pretend wrestling matches with pillows as opponents on the L-shaped sectional couch we had for 47 years...

But grown folk should know a helluva lot better than to be up and screaming and stomping that early in the morning, especially when you're in a non-soundproofed house with four other people.

Try to keep it to a dull roar for the poor bastards that'll be moving in underneath you once we clear out.

Or at the very least, take off your goddamn shoes!

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

So Long Old Friend

I'm somewhat saddened today, as the first car I ever owned is no longer mine.

The Shitbox is changing hands, so I thought I would pay her one last tribute.

We've been together since February 2002, when I bought her off the shady Armenian guys in North York who somehow managed to get the car safetied without a horn or left turn signal, not to mention the ashtray that somehow when AWOL following my test drive.

Those first few months were dicey, as a mysterious problem drained her of her energy every other day. Even the folks at the Saturn Dealership with their fancy computers couldn't figure out what was wrong. Stupid trunk light...

With over 100,000 km logged together, we had some great adventures:

  • A Cornwall trip to see the old man, soundtracked by 50 Cent's debut album
  • The Dave Matthews Two Day'er - Montreal and Toronto, Back-to-Back
  • Runs to every stop I've made along the way, from Midland to London and all points in between
And of course, our two and a half days together, loaded to the hilt with all my worldly possessions coming here to The Island where she'll spend her last years.

Mind you, there have been some shit moments too:
  • The Katie Cain Keying Incident
  • A Year and a Half with Jay-Z & Linkin Park Collision Course stuck in the CD Player
  • All the leaking...
  • Surprise! No More Stereo!
In a weird way, it's like she knew the last thing I really needed her for was getting out here to Newfoundland, because it's been a rough go since we arrived. The TLC she was afforded at Don's Brake & Tune Up (Dunlop Street in Barrie, ON) went the way of the dinosaur as soon as money got tight and slowly she's faded into the snow covered carcass that sits in my driveway.

The '97 Saturn Shitbox SL is going to a new home now, with Derek, my boss from Blockbuster. He's a Saturn driver himself, so I know he'll treat her well.

Actually, I don't know that he will. I don't even care really. I'm just glad to be rid of the heap. The fact that he's paying me for it is... I mean...

You're getting a great deal Derek. If I didn't have to go so soon I'd wait and get a better price on the old girl. But I'm off on Tuesday and the timing is right. You be good to my girl.

I'll miss you Shitty.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Rundown: Beyond A Bad Idea

So, Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson are dating again. How cute?

There is even talk that Kate wants to get a place with "The Butterscotch Stallion" in New York. Can't blame her on that one - rent is a bitch!

But really, am I the only one who sees this a horrible, horrible idea? I'm no psychic but I can tell you right now that this ends badly. Not Owen back in the hospital because he's tried to kill himself again badly, but badly enough that someone needs to slap the two of them upside the head for thinking this could work out.

She's going in undoubtedly loaded with guilt - now that she's done humping the likes of Dax Sheppard and Owen isn't loco anymore - and wants to make the relationship work, but trust me, doing things because you're feeling guilty isn't a good starting point.

As for him, he gets what he has wanted all along. He wanted her when she was married to Jesus Impersonator Chris Robinson, he wanted her when they were together initially and he wanted her when she broke things off the first time. How is rewarding the guy with his track record and some serious dependency issues a good idea?

But this is Hollywood, man. These people are celebrities. This type of bad idea is a daily occurrence. Someone in Hollywood is having a horrible idea right now. There is nothing we can do to stop it. Or is there?

Top Five Bad Celebrity Ideas

5. "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days 2: Fool's Gold"
Just because a pairing catches lightning in a bottle once doesn't mean that it's sure to happen every time you put them opposite each other on the screen. And no, I didn't intentionally use Kate Hudson here, it's just the most recent example of Hollywood stupidity that came to mind.

4. Madonna's New Album... Produced By Timbaland
Listen, I'm a huge fan of Tim Mosley - have been from the jump with Aaliyah's second album - but his teaming up with JT and making the best album of the last five years (I said it!) doesn't mean that he can revive your aging career. Madge was great and is an icon. That being said, she needs to make like Ric Flair and hang'em up. Retire to the English countryside and work on her not failing marriage while raising her kids. No one needs a woman who turns 50 in the summer prancing around in a unitard trying to be hip. Think I'm being overly cruel to The Material Girl? Go back and listen to her rapping on American Life and get back to me, m'kay...

3. Katie Holmes' Haircut
Unless she is trying to look more like her husband, the short bob thing she has going on is absolutely awful. Yeah, I'm being a catty bitch today, I know. It's just one of those days...

2. A New Kids On The Block Reunion
A couple thoughts on this:
a) Making your first appearance together in years on the Today Show: Your former fans are all at work. Their mothers and grandmothers will be glad to TiVo the segment for them though.
b) At what point do you have to stop using the word kids in your name? I know they tried to grow up and switch to NKOTB, but that K still stands for kids. Seriously... you're all pushing 40!
c) No one really cares, so why bother... or are you all broke?

1. Being Dane Cook
It's been some time since I kicked the dumb bastard in the balls, so why not fire off another round of crotch shots today, seeing as a pair of Boston area DJ's have named Dumb Fuck Chuck the "Unfunniest Comic" on the face of the Earth? D'you know what makes it all okay though? Knowing that in a year or two, the rest of the world will catch on and Dane Cook will be on Surreal Life or some show full of washed up has-beens, longing for the days when frat boys and ditzy blonds thought he was funny.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thank You Ric Flair

We're going down to the squared circle, so if you don't like wrestling, come back tomorrow.

I don't watch much wrestling anymore. It used to be a staple of my television diet, first on Saturday afternoons, then through the Monday Night wars and then all the WWE programming once they laid WCW to rest. Now I only turn it on when there is something I want to see.

Something like last night on Raw.

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair said his goodbyes yesterday evening and then a whole host of superstars, past and present, came down to the ring to share in the moment and pay tribute to the man that is easily, despite any claim Bret Hart may make to the contrary, the best there ever was in the wrestling business.

Flair fought'em all and beat'em all for that matter. Who else went toe-to-toe with the best from four generations? He battled Harley Race in the '70s, Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat in the '80s, Sting, Hulk Hogan and ever other star on the scene in the '90s, all the way through Triple H, Cena and Shawn Michaels today. No one has a resume like "The Dirtiest Player in the Game" and the send off he received last night was fitting.

You want a measure of the impact Ric Flair had, not only on wrestling, but in a pop culture sense as well? Ask 100 guys the question, "Can I get a Ric Flair?" and I would wager that at least 85% of them will respond with a thunderous "WOOOOOOOOO!" Not too bad for an average sized guy who made his living in "sports entertainment" eh?

Need more proof?

LeBron James and his three best friends refer to themselves as, you guessed it, The Four Horsemen. Not bad when the greatest basketball player on planet Earth bogarts the name of your crew for himself.

Personally, I've loved Flair from the minute I first heard him cut a promo. There was no one better on the mic. And in the ring, Flair was one of the best showman around, with the strut and the crazy bumps in the corner and the way his peroxide hair turned reddish-pink whenever he bled in the ring.

Flair always said, "To be the man, you've got to beat the man."

Well, The Man has hung up the boots. Thanks for the memories Nature Boy!

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