Sunday, August 31, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

Well nothing retarded happened this week like helping a guy who tried to kill himself or anything like that, which was a nice change after last week's experience. But it was an interesting week nonetheless, so let's get to it, shall we?

1. Summer is Over
Exactly when did this happen? It's August 31st. This is bullshit. I want a Do Over. I only made it to three Jays games, one fire at Shelby & Mark's, no trips to Midland to go boating and basically spent the whole time working. Ridiculous.

2. Three More Shifts, Then I'm Gone
Close the bar tonight, work a two hour day shift tomorrow and sling some slop Tuesday night and then it's adios Montana's for nearly three weeks, if not for good. Chances are I'll be back before we pack up our things and move somewhere new, but I got screwed on the schedule this week and kind of hate my manager right now for it, so we'll see.

3. BC is Looking More and More Likely
Like I said last week, we'll know more once we've gotten out there and toured around a bit - which we're going to do when we arrive - but every time we talk about the possibility, it seems like the logical choice. Sarah can make more money and I can hook up a job at one of the resorts where I should make enough cash to only need to work 8 months a year, which means four months a year to write... and procrastinate with Luke.

4. Loyalty Doesn't Exist in the Business World
Since starting at Montana's, there hasn't been a time that they've called me to come in that I have turned them down. I've done everything that has ever been asked of me and done so with a smile on my face. So what do I get in return? I lose the closing shift on Mondays that I've been working for two months on the holiday when I could actually make some great cash while the new hire who happens to be someone's little sister and the returning complainer each work a double. Classy Montana's... classy.

5. The Last Good Book I Read
Finished off Bret Hart's book Hitman this week and was fairly impressed. I know wrestling isn't everybody's thing, but it was mine for years, including Hitman's time in the ring and reading the behind the scenes stuff from that time was pretty cool. The family drama from The Hart Family was incredible too. Well done and recommended to anyone who every watched "The Excellence of Execution" operate inside the squared circle.

6. Can't Wait to Watch a Porno
No, not like that you sick fucks! Kevin Smith's latest, Zack and Miri Make a Porno starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. I watched the trailer the other day and nearly pissed myself. The fact that it's Silent Bob's flick would have made me see it regardless, since we all know I have a big ol' crush on him, but after seeing the trailer, I know want to see it twice as bad.

7. New Project, Part I
I started on the first few pages of a book this weekend and it will be taking priority over all other projects moving forward. Like I said earlier in the week, I'm doing too many things and need to start focusing on the ones that could yield some return, although I will still be blogging every day. I don't want to give anything away, but the feedback I've gotten on the idea thus far has all been positive and part of my BC trip will be spent pushing forward with this effort.

8. New Project, Part II
Some one you may have noticed the disappearance of the E. Spencer Kyte Facebook Fan Page this week. Let's be honest - none of you noticed and that's okay. I axed it because, well, it wasn't something I put any time into, but also because me and Newt are working on a little something that will be unveiled to the world soon and will serve the same purpose as the other page and then some.

9. No One Ever Pays Me
Thus far, I've had five articles published in four different magazines for two different publications. The only thing they have in common? I haven't been paid for any of them. The fine folks at FutureCore Media, Passion's Parent Company, refuse to return my messages and Canadian Sports Magazine has come up blank thus far. I'll give them a little more time, but as of now I'm not impressed.

10. Operation: 185 Update

Starting Weight: 204 lbs.
Last Update: 198 lbs.
Current Weight: 200 lbs.

It's about time nature took it's course. Considering I haven't done a workout in nearly three weeks (this week got written off too... just because), putting on two pounds isn't all that bad in my books. Not that I don't want to drop the pounds and tone it up real nice for the festivities next April, but there are other things that are taking priority right now. We'll get back at it soon enough...

Continue reading ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Yes We Can
Artist: Barack Obama
Album: None

I know I've dropped this video on you before, but after the stirring speech delivered last night, I felt it only right to include this song in the Soundtrack.

While I am certainly not an American, Barack Obama gives me hope and that speaks to the power of his words, his presence and his conviction to make our world a better place.

What he said about the American soldiers - that they weren't fighting for Red America or Blue America but the United States of America - sent chills down my spine and still does as I re-read it again today.

These are the messages that we need to spread, not only throughout America, but throughout the world and I look forward to being able to talk to my kids in the future about watching the times change right before my eyes as the first Black President of the United States was elected.

I won't stump for a Canadian politician to rise up and assume an Obama-like position within our country because politicians like Barack Obama don't come around very often. This is a man who can change our world and I only hope that he is given every opportunity to do so.

Yes We Can, Yes We Can.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Rundown: Feed Me

Rocked Mandarin for lunch yesterday.

I have to tell you, there may not be a better deal in town than the Lunch Buffet at Mandarin, especially if you get there as they're opening the doors at 11:30 like we did yesterday.

Think about it - all you can eat including really fresh shrimp and mussels, all your Chinese food favourites and countless North American bastard dishes too like fries, onion rings and the one that always makes me laugh, roast beef at a carving station. Nothing spells Chinese like Roast Beef!

Anyway, rocking the Mandarin for lunch got me thinking about the things I like to eat most, since it is in the Top 25 of eating experiences for me solely based on the fresh Crab Leg feast you can gorge yourself on during the Holidays. Then I realized that I haven't delivered a foodie Rundown as of yet and well, here you go...

Top Five Foods / Meals

5. Holiday Turkey Dinner

This one should be on everyone's list I would imagine, because really, loading around a table with the fam and stuffing yourself on turkey, mashed potatoes and whatever else you choose to cover in gravy is always a good time. This is also one that I'm looking forward to in the coming years, as I want to be one of those people who hosts one of these dinners every year for our family and friends.

4. Street Meat

There isn't much better to me than a dog or a sausage on an egg bun slathered in mustard outside of the ball game or Canadian Tire or wherever else a quality Street Meat stand happens to pop up. There used to be one in the parking lot of one of the Beer Stores in Barrie that I would hit up on a regular basis. Not when I was buying beer, just to get a dog. That's how much I like these things.

3. Steak

Whether I make it at home on the barbecue or we go somewhere to partake, a really good steak is always an excellent choice. It actually pains me to work at Montana's and allow people to order steaks anything more than Medium. Why would you do that to a delicious cut of beefy goodness?

2. Sushi

I think I could eat sushi every day and not get sick of it. Seriously, that's how much I love it. The beauty of "sushi" is in the variety, ranging from actual sushi itself, to sashimi to hand rolls and rolls and on and on and on. This is actually a non-starter for me now: if you don't like sushi, we can't be nearly as good friends as if you do, simply because at some point, I'm going to want to go for sushi and when you shrunch up your nose at the idea, I'm going to want to punch you in the mouth.

1. Breakfast
Bacon. Eggs. Sausage. Toast. Baked Beans. Hash Browns or Home Fries. Coffee. Delicious. I can and do eat breakfast for any meal at any time in any setting. And it's not just homemade breakfast that takes the cake either. McDonald's Breakfast? Awesome! A little bit of the Griddle while out and about? Wicked! Denny's? Hell yes! The list goes on and on. Best meal ever, at least in my books.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Picture Says It All

My cup runneth over.

As of right now, I have way too many things on the go and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them all, which means some things are going to start failing by the wayside for the next six weeks or so.

Bugs isn't going anywhere. They gave me my start and I will stick with them come hell or high water. Besides, the Jays season ending is where I got the six weeks from, so after that, baseball takes a spot on the back burner a little.

This bad boy right here isn't going anywhere either. How could I spend nearly a year putting in work to build a readership (thanks all 8 of you!) and then shut it down? Not going to happen.

Since I can't walk into my manager's office at Montana's, pull an Ed Norton in Fight Club and get paid to not show up at work, ditching delivering dinners is out of the question as well. Actually, it's a big part of the reason my beverage container is overflowing. I've working six days a week, closing three of those nights and a man has got to sleep sometime...

Where does that leave us?

I've already pretty much stopped writing at Epic Carnival over the last month. I can't tell you when I last posted there. In fact, I had made this decision long before my drinking glass couldn't hold any more theoretical liquid.

The thing with Epic is that it's a Boobs & Babes site - which there is absolutely nothing wrong with - except that Boobs & Babes isn't what I do. Call me ridiculous, but I want people reading my work because I have something interesting and insightful (or scandalous and off-kilter) to say about the topic, not because I have a picture of some tart in her bra and panties.

Unfortunately, bras and panties generate a lot more hits that witty banter and actually having something to say...

In the end, it looks like Season Three of The Wire is what is going to suffer the most.

Even though I just picked it up yesterday and am dying to tear into the next batch of episodes to see what's happening with everyone, the DVD player is going to have to stay off.

Either that or I give up working out.

"Fat guy on the beach who has watched every episode of The Wire" or "Guy with the toned physique who doesn't know what has been happening with The Barksdale Organization" come April?

Decisions, decisions...

Continue reading ...

Monday, August 25, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

Without exaggeration, this has been an insane week. Good things, bad things and altogether surreal things make up the countdown - delayed because life invariably happened yesterday - so let's get right to it.

1. We Helped a Man Who Tried To Kill Himself
On our way to do some running around, there was a man laying on the ground in obvious pain, people beginning to crowd around him. Being a nurse (and wonderful human being) Sarah pulled into the parking lot to help. I called 911 while she did her thing. Turns out, the man tried to hang himself from his third floor balcony and the cord snapped. No major injuries and words don't describe how proud I am of my future wife, but I still can't shake the images from my head.

2. Wedding Date Confirmed
I am pleased to announce that we are officially getting hitched in the Dominican next April. The 23rd to be exact. That means I have less than 8 months of freedom remaining.... Invites are on the way.

3. BC is Back in the Picture
When we set out for BC in a couple weeks, there will be a couple new stops added to the itinerary. We're going to slide through the Lower Okanagan Valley. Sarah applied for some jobs out there because it never hurts to apply and with the benefits that BC offers (more money, student loan relief) moving to the West Coast is gaining a little momentum.

4. Just Wondering
Why do people who have places to be and time lines to maintain go out to eat at busy restaurants during the busiest times? I know it shouldn't take 40 minutes for you to eat, but sometimes it does and that's not our fault. This message has been brought to you by the staff at Montana's. Welcome to the Cookhouse!

5. Grand Bend Made Me Feel Old

I hadn't been to Grand Bend since I was 12 or 13 and we hit the South-Western Ontario Beach Town this week and one thing was abundently clear - it's a young persons destination. Not that there weren't people my age and older, but all of us looked out of place, what with the facial hair and flabby physiques... and that was just the women - ZING! I'm here all night folks...

6. Cool Hand Luke now known as Captain Annoying
I don't know what it is, but the little monster has been barking up a storm all week. Every little sound sets him off on a barking fit and there is nothing - aside from taking him for a W-A-L-K every ten minutes - that can stop him. Car door closes? Bark. Train goes by out back? Bark. Someone three doors down sneezes? You got it... Bark!

7. Off To Best Buy

Finished Season Two fo The Wire yesterday night after a long shift slinging drinks and I'm itching to get the remaining three seasons. I can't stress this enough - find a way to watch this show. Hell, email me and tell me you want to borrow the seasons - I'll send them to you. It's that damn good.

8. Still No TV
The Olympics came and went and I watched exactly zero hours of coverage here at the house. We're still without our television. I caught some key moments on the big screens at work, including Usain Bolt killing'em all on the track not once, not twice but thrice (Thank you, Monty Burns) and Michael Phelps being superhuman. Can't really say I miss the stupid thing to be honest.

9. I Can't Wait to Move
Not that I am desperate to get out of London or anything like that, but everywhere I go, all I can do is see things that I want for our next place. I think about how to set up my office - because no matter where we land, I will have my own office - and the colours we're going to use. What furniture we'll need and now that we have an abundance of picture frames from the EP last weekend, how to organize those has become a thinking point as well.

10. Operation: 185 Update
Starting Weight: 204 lbs.
Last Update: 198.5 lbs. (two weeks ago...)
Current Weight: 198 lbs.

Here is the crazy thing about this: I haven't actually worked out in the last ten days - for various reasons - and there has been a lot of eating out and boozing over that time frame and still I've managed to drop a Double Quarter Pounder! Workout resumes today; eight months less a couple days to drop 13 pounds... even I should be able to manage that.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dishonour Roll: Gwen Stefani

Technically, Gavin Rossdale should be getting lumped in here too, but since I'm certain Ms. Hollaback Girl is the one who wears the pants in the relationship, she's taking the heat solo.

What has landed Ms. Stefani on the always popular Dishonour Roll today?

Naming her second child Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale.

Be advised, there is profanity ahead...

What in the fuck are you thinking?

How do you actually look at your child and think, "You know what would be a good name? Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale. I like that."

This one actually takes the cake over all the other horribly retarded celebrity-named spawns out there like Suri Cruise and Apple Martin and Peaches Geldoff.

Fuck it, this one tops the Frank Zappa Collection of Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuuhka Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

Well maybe it doesn't top The Zappa Kids, but still.

Where the fuck do parents get off dropping these kinds of names on their children? I know I've ranted and raved about this before, but then something like this happens to give credence to the argument that there should be some kind of regulatory board parents have to apply to in order to name their child.

Not that this kid - or any of the other celebrity spawns with stupid names - are ever going to live quiet, normal lives in the first place, but naming your kid Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale is a whole different ballgame.

Remember how your face scrunched up when you heard Gwyneth and Chris Martin named their kid Apple? "It's fruit, not a name," were the first words out of my mouth. Not so bad now, huh?

What makes this all the more incredible to me is that I'm one of those people who doesn't want to saddle his children with generic, boring ass names once they get here. They also will not receive the trendy (read: overused) monikers like Madison or Mackenzie, Caleb or Aidan either. But nothing we're thought up (yes, we've discussed baby names...) even comes close to comparing with Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale.

Maybe I should start using that in my arguments for some of the names I like.

"How about Zuma Nesta Rock Kyte? No? Makes Xavier sound a whole lot better thought, doesn't it?"

Continue reading ...

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Sky's The Limit
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
Album: Life After Death (1997)

In dropping the LeRoi Moore Honourary Rundown the other day, I suddenly realized that I have gone this far in the Soundtrack without offering up one anything from the late Christopher Wallace.

Personally, there isn't another song that I could even consider.

Not that Biggie doesn't have a solid collection of hits to choose from - he assuredly does - but this track, as mentioned Wednesday, is one of those tracks that always gets me. It puts a smile on my face and is easily my favourite Biggie track of all time.

Part of the reason I love this song so much is that it's a bit of departure for Biggie. While he covered many topics in his songs, this one is still a little outside the lines of the standards about drugs, money or women. This is almost a Biggie talking about his past and where he came from while offering a chorus of encouragement courtesy of 112.

The one line that always gets me - and has been in consideration as a tattoo over the last few years - is what Biggie refers to as The Hustler's Prayer:

If the game shakes me or breaks me
I hope it makes me a better man
Take a better stand
Put money in my moms hand
Get my daughter this college plan, so she don't need no man
Stay far from timid
Only make moves when ya heart's in it
And live the phrase Sky's The Limit

Now, I'm no gangster and I don't play one on TV, but even outside of the rap game / crack game Biggie lived, these words are suitable for everyone. The goal is always to improve and grow, find a better position and let's be honest - we all want to do only the things that are heart motivates us to do.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Hype Williams directed video featuring kids playing all the roles was in heavy rotation when the song was released. Seeing it four or five times a day probably helped earn the song a permanent place in my head.

Sky is the limit and you know that you keep on
Just keep on pressin on
Sky is the limit and you know that you can have
what you want, be what you want

Words to live by from Christopher Wallace.

R.I.P. Biggie... we miss you!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stumbling Upon Some Motivation

Found me a couple pieces of motivation today while roaming through the assembled links on BallHype.

Well, it's more like one and a half great pieces, as a portion of Henry Abbott's piece at True Hoop is taken from Merlin Mann's piece "What Makes for a Good Blog?" at 43 Folders.

The things that Mann describes as characteristics of a good blog are completely on point, at least in my opinion, as too are the sentiments that Abbott offers at the outset of his piece. They are also things that I have been saying from the first day I started writing this blog and hearing other people - talented, respected and knowledgeable people - echoing ideas that I have discussed at length with Sarah and others is both reassuring and motivational.

As someone who has predominantly built his career and portfolio through online publication, reading someone else discussing the validity of the medium is a welcome breath of fresh air. Far too often I feel like not enough credit is given to bloggers who approach what they do as a career and aim to build something through their blogs. While anyone can start a blog, it is a whole different ballgame to produce new and fresh material on a daily basis for an extended period of time.

Even though the blurb correctly describes this place as the collecting point for the daily ramblings of yours truly, the truth is that very little of what comes to be posted on this site is every done haphazardly. Everything is thought out and formulated to reflect what I'm thinking about, my opinions on a certain topic or provide further insight into me and my life, whether you want that insight or not.

Best of all, these pieces come at a very appropriate time for me, as yesterday was spent wallowing in my own misery about having to go to work and not getting to spend as much time as I would like focused in on the things I want to do with my writing. What can I say? I'm a bit of a girl some times...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Rundown: In Honour of LeRoi

Pictured to the left is LeRoi Moore, sax player for the Dave Matthews Band. Yesterday, Moore passed away due to injuries suffered in an ATV accident earlier in the month.

I am a huge DMB fan and reading the news of LeRoi's death wasn't exactly how I was planning on starting my day. The guy was super talented and will surely be missed, much like the rest of the people taken from us too soon who make up today's Rundown.

My Top Five Musicians Who Died Too Soon

5. Tupac Shakur
While I wasn't a huge West Coast rap guy at the time of his death, there is no denying the incredible talent and intellect that was Tupac Amaru Shakur. Lots of people associate Tupac with his run-ins with the law and gangsta rap anthems of violence and partying, which is fair enough. But don't forget about tracks like "Dear Mama" and "Keep Your Head Up" to name two. Tupac wasn't just a musician either; this was an artist in every sense of the word and I wish he didn't have to go so soon.

4. Kurt Cobain
I do not include Cobain because I was one of the millions of Gen X kids who thought I had found my saviour when I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the rest of Nevermind. I actually didn't like Nirvana at all. I still don't. I think Cobain was a messed up dude who couldn't deal with fame and pressure and copped out by killing himself. So then why do I include him here? Because I would have loved to see where he went to next and how he evolved as a musician and leader of a musical generation.

3. Marvin Gaye
We lost Marvin at age 45 in 1984. He'd have turned 69 this year and I'm certain he would still be churning out music. The man has been a staple in the samples of hip hop tracks for years and is a certifiable icon in the music business. You think Kanye wouldn't be doing something with Marvin if he were still around? Or what about one of these younger R&B cats like John Legend or Alicia Keys lining up next to him? Imagine how beautiful that would be.

2. The Notorious BIG
A small part of me still thinks that had Biggie lived, he would have turned into 50 Cent, going from drugs and violence being the dopest MC in the game to rapping about nothing but asses over slinky P. Diddy beats. "Hypnotize" over and over and over again. Then I listen to tracks like "Sky's The Limit" or "I Got a Story To Tell" or "Juicy" and I remember that Christopher Wallace was the King of New York at the time of his death and I wonder if it would be any different now?

1. Shannon Hoon
A lot of people look at Blind Melon as One Hit Wonders, only able to recall "No Rain" thanks to The Bee Girl. That's fine by me. I loved them. I have no problem admitting that I cried when I heard of Shannon Hoon's death. "Change" is still my favourite song of all-time, with a segment of the lyrics to one day be etched into my skin permanently. This one clobbered me and still makes me mad to this day.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Is Summer Almost Over?

There is a good likelihood that my employment at Montana's will be coming to an end in the next three weeks.

Not because I'm going to go postal and shoot up the place or stand on the bar with my pants around my ankles singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or anything like that.

No, my tenure is linked to Sarah's job situation and well, since it's almost September, I'm almost out the door.

How the hell did that happen so fast?

It's been three months since I started at Montana's and four since I arrived in London. That's insane!

This summer has flown by and it doesn't get any slower from here on out. Actually, it gets even more hectic, as the aforementioned Sarah Job Hunt gets into full swing which will undoubtedly be accompanied by packing, finding an apartment in another new city and moving all our worldly possessions.

Of course, that's while we're hammering out all the details of the wedding via email with the lazy wedding coordinator at the Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa in Samana. I know things are a little more laid back and relaxed down there, but does it really take two weeks to return an email?

And there is also a little thing called "Spencer Finally Sees Vancouver" taking place in September, which comes after we trek to Ottawa for a weekend for Sarah's friend Erin's wedding.

Hopefully when we get to the Left Coast things will slow down a little. But let's be honest - we're going back to Sarah's home - we'll be on the go 24/7.

No rest for the wicked...

Continue reading ...

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Helluva Weekend!

The last 72 hours have been the best 72 hour stretch of time in my life.

Getting to be around a large collection of the people who care and love about Sarah and I and threw us an incredible party Saturday was far more than either of us could ever ask for.

Everyone assembled in the booming metroplis of Damascus, Ontario - my apologizes to everyone who got lost along the way - and there is enough left over chicken and wine to feed thousands for the next week to ten days.

Friday brought Sarah's mom in from Vancouver and a first trip to the airport. All went well, aside from an extra thirty minutes in the Cell Phone Lot waiting for the phone to ring while Luke barked at anything and everything around.

Six hours after we jumped into our tent on the front lawn, it was time for Trip #2 to the Airport to collect Sarah's Best Friend and Maid of Honor Jena. Luke stayed at home for this one and we actually parked instead of waiting in the Cell Phone Lot.

Fun, little interesting tidbit of the day: we picked Jena up at the exact location where Sarah and I got engaged. We thought it was a fun way to start Engagement Party Day. Mind you, we only had a couple hours of sleep on the uneven ground with a barking dog sniffing his way around a tent.

The party itself was incredible. I won't go into details about place settings and table decorations and the little jars of candies for everyone.

All the people who said they were coming made it there (except Newt, but he had two sick kids so we understood) and all had a great time. We had some laughs, a couple of tears and a great time.

Thanks to everyone for the terrific gifts and all the generosity. It means more to us than anyone will ever know.

And then we got hammered!

Somehow, waking up bright and early Sunday morning for breakfast didn't even include a hangover and it certainly should have when you factor in the copious amounts of wine that filled our bellies that evening.

Gotta love it - a killer party with all our loved ones (well - many of our loved ones) and no hangover to make us feel bad about it the next day.

Next up: finalizing the Flying 20...

Continue reading ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: No One
Artist: Alicia Keys
Album: As I Am (2007)

Sarah already knows this, but just so the rest of y'all understand - I love Alicia Keys.

Like, there ain't many women in the world who rank higher than her. The list is pretty much Sarah, Diane Lane, Natalie Portman and P!nk. That's some pretty heady company right there...

As has been the case for a couple of previous Soundtrack pieces, I've decided to pick one song that most exemplifies all the things I love about the artist being featured. At least, when it comes to an artist the caliber of Alicia Keys, the honest truth is that there are a whole list of songs that I could use here without hesitation.

This one is extra special though for somewhat obvious reasons which are heightened this weekend.

Plain and simple, this is an old-fashion love song and with this being Engagement Party Weekend, nothing was more fitting than a song that expresses the thoughts I have for Sarah.

When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain

You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don't worry 'cause
Everything's gonna to be alright
People keep talking they can say what they like
But all i know is everything's gonna to be alright

No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I'm feeling
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you, you, you
Can get in the way of what I feel

Of course, the other kicker is that Ms. Keys is the talent tickling the ivories throughout this track and all the others that make up her albums.

Just to recap, she's an insane musician, pens solid lyrics and is crazy attractive. I honestly don't understand people who don't love Alicia Keys. With all the bullshit Pop Tarts out there today, here is a fierce young woman who does it herself and does it better than almost everyone else.

If you haven't listened to an entire Alicia Keys album yet, I suggest you do so. It doesn't matter which one you pick -they're all outstanding.

Just know that if you do, you're going to get hooked and end up listening to them over and over and over again.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dishonour Roll: Bar Training

Making another appearance here on iBlog is the always popular Dishonour Roll, a segment dedicated to the stupid people and ridiculous events that enter my world.

Stepping up to the plate today are the fine folks at Montana's Cookhouse and their conviction that I must undergo Bar Training.

As I told you a couple weeks back, I'm back pulling on the taps and popping caps off bottles on a semi-regular basis. At the same time that they hired me, two other people were also given an opportunity to work behind the bar, neither of whom have any experience.

My appointment to the role of bartender was someone out of necessity - a dude got himself fired and they needed someone with experience ASAP to cover the shifts he would no longer be working.

Cue me and two days later, I'm opening the bar solo.

No big deal - been there, done that, got the t-shirt. A week later, I was closing the bar on a Sunday night. Again, no problemo.

In the meantime, the other two hires have been pulling 3 hour shifts training behind the bar for the last two weeks or so, getting used to the pace, learning how to do counts, figuring what makes a Long Island Iced Tea and all that.

So here I am yesterday, chilling on my day off when the phone rings at 6:45.

The bar is getting swamped and they want me to come in and help out.

After a brief internal struggle over my willingness to go in, I showed up at work, smashed through an hour on the bar and was ready to go when the bartender who was on asked me, "Aren't you staying to train on close tonight?"

I says pardon?

In the least arrogant way possible, I explained that training on the bar isn't something that I am in serious need of, what with having run a fine establishment on my own for a time up in Midland and having been behind a bar a time or two. The newbies I understand, but me? No thanks.

Unfortunately, this might be something I can't escape.

See, the managers aren't going to want to be put in a position where the other two hires can complain about having to go through training while I just waltz back behind the bar and start making cash - training shifts mean no tips.

They also won't want to put themselves in a spot where I can screw up and then use the "Well I didn't get any training" cop out, which I would never think of doing to be totally honest.

So, I can understand the need to make me work a couple of craptacular 3 hour tours of duty behind the bar under the watchful eyes of K. Reid or CB (our two senior bartenders), but here is the rub:

How you gonna make me do these stupid training shifts after I'm closing the bar next Saturday and Sunday night?

I'm scratching your back and covering for when you gave two bartenders the same entire weekend off. Now you scratch mine and get rid of the unnecessary training.

Pouring beer is pouring beer, I'm a clean freak when it comes to the areas I work and I know how to count. What else is there to know? At least there is no eLearning to go along with it...

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Soapbox Spencer: Young Bloggers

When I sat down this morning to eat my breakfast (two pieces of toast with peanut butter and a glass of Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappuccino in case you were wondering) an article entitled "Young bloggers prompt safety worries" obviously caught my attention.

I barely made it to the second column of the article before I knew what I would be writing about here today.

The article - if you chose not to read it yourself before proceeding here - talks about young girls and the concerns that parents and social watchdogs have over the content they post on their blogs, citing two younger females interested in fashion who post pictures of themselves in their designs on their blogs, Style Rookie and The Fashion Void That Is DC.

In the AP article, they question the safety of Tavi Gevinson, the 12-year-old blogger cum fashion designer responsible for Style Rookie, posting pictures of herself in her creations, what with all the pervy bastards out there and all.

While I completely agree that there are a lot of pervy bastards out there who could potentially find a 12-year-old in homemade designs appealing, it's some of the choice quotes from the piece that had me seething.

Parry Aftab, a lawyer who heads the online protection site delivers this gem:

Parents have no idea what their kids are doing online. Most parents have no idea what a blog is.

Uh, isn't it your job as a parent to know what your kid is doing?

Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure if my kids (when I have them) are spending copious amounts of time hunkered down in front of the computer, I'm going to be spending copious amounts of time hunkered down in front of the computer seeing what they're up to.

In contrast, Tavi's dad Steve, a high-school English teacher, had no clue what his daughter was up to until she was asked to be in a New York Times magazine story about blogging. He was generous enough to drop the Parent of the Year Award Winning "I wasn't terribly interested in seeing it."

Can we please give Steve Gevinson a round of applause? Way to go, Steve... douchebag!

I know times are different now with single parent homes and both parents working and blah blah blah blah blah, but taking an active role in your kids lives is one of those absolutes of parenting, no? You can't pawn off the fact that you have no idea what your kids are into and up to because you worked a long day at the office. Suck it up and be involved.

Quality Quote #2 comes from Addie Swartz, CEO of B-tween Productions and mother of two teenage daughters, who said, "I feel that it's not safe to have a child who's 12 or 13 have a blog."

Dear Ms. Swartz,

Below is a brief list of things far more potentially dangerous than a 12 or 13 year old having a blog:

Knives, guns, sharks, bears, second-hand smoke, cars, that bottle of drain cleaner under your sink, fast food, UV Rays, Anderson Silva, coming across the middle on Brian Urlacher, anything attempted by the cast of Jackass, listening to Celine Dion for excessive amounts of time, shopping on Christmas Eve and naming your child Hubert or Edna.

Need I continue?

Kindest Regards,

It's a blog for chrissakes!

If you're involved in the kid's life, raise them to know what is acceptable and not acceptable, talk with them intelligently about things of this nature and monitor their posts, what is the problem?

You do your job to make sure they aren't posting scantily clad pictures or telling the world that you and the mister head out of town every third weekend leaving them all alone in the house and your fears are quashed.

I know kids are always going to do things behind their parents backs - it's part of being a kid - but I also know that telling them things they can't do only makes them do it more, while explaining why something isn't allowed builds understanding and acceptance, even when it's coupled with the requisite "I Hate You," "You're SO Mean," or "Janie's Mom Let's Her Do It!"

And why doesn't Ms. Swartz think it's safe for tween-age girls to have blogs? The potential negative comments they might receive, what with girls being so impressionable, especially in that age group.

Hi Addie,

It's Spencer again.

Do you honestly believe that negative comments are restricted to blogs and the Internet?

Kids sling negativity everywhere - at school, in extra-curricular activities, sports teams, the mall - not just on these ever-so-harmful blogs you're worried about and this is coming from a guy who receives numerous comments a month slagging me and my existence in this world.

Besides, if you take my advice from Letter #1, you shouldn't really have any serious concerns on this front, since you'll be monitoring the situation and able to discuss any nasty comments with your kids up front.

Keep in touch,

The bottom line, at least to me, is this:

Work with your children so that they know what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable.

Be involved in their lives, regardless of how busy your own is and how much you don't have an interest in fashion design, Yu-Gi-Oh or whatever else they are into.

Monitor their activities - they are your kids and your responsibility. If you know what they are doing, you just might be able to eliminate some harm before it ever happens.

Remember that you were a kid once too and despite all the mean and horrible things some people undoubtedly said to you on the phone, playground or walking down the street, you turned out okay... you're kids will too.

* * * * * * * * * *
That's what I got. Lemme know what you think.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Complete and Utter Randomness

Nothing meaningful on my mind today, so why not delve through the debris that currently clutters my melon?

* * * * * * * * * *

I saw a preview for a new movie called the other day.

The movie's tagline is "In a world gone blind, what if you were the only person who could see?"

Answer: Score for me, but still a little creepy.

While I could do whatever I wanted - both legally and illegally - it would be more than a little strange to be the only person who could see the sunset or what other people looked like.

Clearly, the film is set up to be a psychological thriller and they aren't expecting people to think being the sole sight-seeing survivor on Earth is an awesome stroke of luck, but you have to admit that the pros outweigh the cons.

Sure no one else can see, but you can, so what's the big deal?

* * * * * * * * * *

I saw some douchebag driving down the street today in an Orange Lexus.

Why would someone do that to a Lexus? I say "do that" because it's quite obvious that Lexus wouldn't have created a luxury orange on wheels themselves and this guy clearly painted the car himself - perhaps even with spray paint - in order to display his utter disdain for quality vehicles.

Making it even better were the orange dual exhausts and gold decals.

Seriously - what's with some people?

* * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of retarded, there is a lady in our neighbourhood who walks her cat on a leash.

Again I ask you - what is with some people?

Cats aren't leash-walking animals.

If they are allowed out, they go out on their own to roam free and return home whenever they please. And if they aren't to go outside, then keep them inside. Don't degrade your poor pet by making it look stupid in some harness as you try to drag it down the street, angry that it isn't obeying your every command.

You take dogs for a walk. Leashes are made for dogs. Not cats. Or ferrets, rats or children.

* * * * * * * * * *

In having watched one and a half seasons of The Wire in the last week, I really don't understand how more people didn't pay attention to this show. It really is awesome.

Unlike Network Television dramas that recycle plots over and over after about a year of being on the air - Tonight on Grey's Anatomy: an Emergency at Seattle Grace and Relationship Drama between two or more characters! - every year of The Wire focuses on a different area of Baltimore, complete with new characters and plot lines.

Sure they carry over characters from season to season and keep things running that way, but each episode is 100% fresh without feeling forced. So while Season Two still has subplots involving Season One's antagonist Avon Barksdale and his drug crew, as well as my personal favourites Omar and Bubs the Heroin-fiend Informant, there is also the new main plot surrounding The Docks to build a whole new set of circumstances around.

All I know is that I can't wait to finish Season Two so I can justify dropping another $60 on Seasons Three and Four.

* * * * * * * * * *

Luke hates our Cleaning Lady.

By "our" I mean Garry's and by "hates" I mean completely and utterly detests. It's to the point that we leave the house with him before she shows up and try to to stay away for the duration of her time in the house.

This wouldn't be such a task if it didn't take her four hours to get everything done.

There are only so many laps of the path at the dog park one can do before both dog and owner get bored.

* * * * * * * * * *

Don't ask me why, but I just love the picture for this post. I can't explain it, it's just cool to me.

* * * * * * * * * *

Let's call it a day for now... check back later in case I stop having mental diarrhea and write something meaningful!

Continue reading ...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Please Don't Let Me Have Daughters

No one ever believes me when I tell them that come October 30th, I'll be turning the Big 3-0. Maybe it's because I still don't have to shave every day.

That part is a familial / genetics thing because my brother Pete will be turning 32 in September and if he shaves twice a month it's generally one too many times. The baby face is genetic too. Dude is going on 32 and could reasonably pass for early 20s. I'm not even kidding.

Anyway, age has been on my mind for the last little while because working at Montana's has totally skewed my ability to accurately gauge the ages of the people around me. More correctly, I have no idea how old girls are anymore.

This is what happens when you're surrounded by a large female population anywhere between the ages of 16 and 25; they all just blend together and you either look like an idiot for thinking someone is too old or make yourself feel a little creepy when you find out that the tall, attractive young hostess is half your age... literally.

I may not look 30, but at least I couldn't get you thrown in jail!

Two things:

  1. I've just stopped answering when people ask me how old I think they are because I always end up getting it wrong
  2. Please Don't Let Me Have Daughters!
Honestly, I couldn't deal with this shit as a parent.

It's bad enough now as an innocent bystander and occasional horribly bad guesser. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't spend part of my shift wondering why in the hell these girls come into work decked out like they're going out. And not just to some shit-shack, hole in the wall either.

They come in decked like they're off to the VIP after work, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the fragrant aromas of Montana's are going to linger in their near lingerie. Nothing like heading out for a night on the town smelling like ribs!

Between jeans so tight you can't put a quarter in your pocket to call your Mom when you need her to pick you up and slathering on the makeup so that your teenage skin looks old and weathered like a battle-hardened booze hound, I can't walk into work without shaking my head and praying to whoever is in charge up there that one day there will be a wholesome, Girl Next Door Renaissance.

Those were the days - when natural was pretty, what your boobs actually looked like remained a mystery and fifteen year old hostesses looked like fifteen year old hostesses, not Heidi fucking Klum.

* * * * * * * * * *

Here's Me on My Soapbox

The "Older Than You Are" thing only lasts so long, then it becomes the "Younger Than You Are" thing. Neither of which is very beneficial.

We parade out late teen / early twenties actors to play 14, 15 and 16-year-olds and then wonder why our kids want to grow up so fast. Only then, we turn around and cast 30-year-olds as the twentysomething inhabitants of shows like Friends.

Here's a novel idea: Why not give people an honest portrayal of age for once?

Don't rush the 15-year-old supermodel onto the stage in the latest from Gucci.

Cast 16-year-olds to play 16-year-olds and 27-year-olds to play 27-year-olds for that matter too.

Stop trying to accelerate childhood only to slow down aging.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint and 19 is still going to be there, even when you're 16 and it seems so far away.

And when you're 37, understand that 19 was a long time ago, so stop stealing your daughter's clothes!

* * * * * * * * * *

Continue reading ...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

1. You Can't Teach Work Ethic
It's been a busy week at Montana's and over the last seven days, it's become painfully obvious to me that there is nothing anyone can say or do to make someone work harder. For a time, maybe, but not over the long haul. Management is included in this sadly, as our new guy bailed when his shift was scheduled to end Monday, despite all kinds of people answering their phones and coming in to help him. The right thing to do would have been to stick around. But you can't make people do something they don't want to do.

2. Through The Wire

At least Season One so far. Honestly, without harping on the subject for too long, if you like cop shows with an edge and some realism to them, go find this show. Best Buy dropped their prices on the seasons - they're only $30 a piece now - so instead of having a beer and pizza night, make a sammich and go buy this show.

3. Silencing Critics Inside the Octagon
While I'm still pissed that I didn't get to watch UFC 87 last night, I know all the results and have to give a round of applause to George St. Pierre, Brock Lesnar and Kenny Florian. I picked against all three and the trio came out and fought the fights that everyone (myself included) knew they were capable of fighting en route to unanimous decisions for all three. Most impressive of the group is Lesnar, the one time WWE Heavyweight Champion who could soon be wearing a similar belt in the UFC.

4. Mixed Emotions for Next Sunday
A week from today, I won't be writing this column. Instead, I'll likely be sitting at the kitchen table stuffing my face with breakfast foods recovering from what is sure to be a crappy, wine-enduced hangover following our Engagement Party. Kind of torn on this one still. On one hand, it's going to be nice seeing the people who are coming that I haven't seen in a while. But on the other hand, there are a bunch of people who aren't going to be there that disappoints me. Funny how some people will go to great lengths to show their love while others won't make the smallest effort...

5. R.I.P. Bernie Mac
Everyone has their own opinion of Bernie Mac, the comedian who passed away recently from pneumonia. Sarah hated him. Me? I've been a fan for a while and will miss him. He fit perfectly in his supporting roles in the Ocean's Series and Bad Santa and will always be one of the Original Kings of Comedy in my books.

6. Radio Show Regular
A pattern is forming on C101.5 - Mohawk College Radio on Tuesday nights around 7:30 or so: the host and this cat who writes for a baseball website talk shop for fifteen minutes in between Canadian Indie Rock tracks. Tune in and enjoy my latest efforts in the shameless self-promotion of Spencer Kyte.

7. My Name is Spencer and I'm a Smoker
Still doing pretty good, but let's face it: I've smoked for 13 years and it's the one thing I use as a way of calming down, chilling out and dammit, I just plain like it. There is no way that I would get through the awkward interactions coming next Saturday without the occasional smoke and I would surely have snapped on someone at the Cookhouse by now if I didn't step outside for some unfresh air every once in a while.

8. Olympic Tragedy
I'm no tree-hugger, so I won't stump for the enviromental reasons why we shouldn't be staging an Olympics in Beijing, but the quickness with which there was an incident against American family members of a US Coach in the Communist country shows me that a mistake was made. I will never understand why decisions like this are made when there are less dangerous, equally willing and viable cities always interested in hosting the Olympics.

9. It Really Is Like Having A Kid
Being a dog owner really is a great way to prepare yourself for kids. At least, I would say so now that I'm a dog owner. Everything we do has the "Luke Factor" tied into it and he's been known to throw tantrums now and again for no apparent reason. Our little man is a total handful, but I wouldn't trade him for the world.

10. Operation: 185 Update
Starting Weight: 204 lbs.
Last Week's Weight: 198.5 lbs.
Current Weight: 198.5 lbs.

No change, which is better than going up. This week was actually a fairly crappy week Op-wise, as rain washed out a couple outdoor training sessions and the indoor replacements never go as well. Something about being outside that focuses me more. Probably because I don't have a dog licking at my face when I do crunches...

Continue reading ...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

When Writer's Block Attacks

Now some people will tell you that Writer's Block doesn't really exist; that the writer who feels "blocked" simply isn't coming up with anything and needs to just stay at it.

I want to kick those people in the nuts, provided they have some, because for the last three weeks I've been sitting here twiddling my thumbs trying to come up with a premise for my short screenplay and all I got is better at Chess Titans.

While I haven't reached the stage of "All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy" or anything like that as of yet - something I attribute to not residing in a creepy hotel created in the brilliant mind of Stephen King with my horribly ugly wife - I'm having thoughts about going the Hamlet 2 route.

Hollywood does it all the time - sometimes without any continuity at all - so why can't I? Pick some flick or storyline that everyone is familiar with and just start fresh from where the last guy left off. Mix in a failed actor and you have the actual premise for Hamlet 2. No wonder it's getting crushed by critics. Then again, David Arquette is in it, so how good could it be?

Since I've still sans television - which means sans UFC tonight... ARGH! - and will be sans Sarah for the next two evenings as well, the plan is to put my ass in this chair and my fingers to these keys.

If all goes well, 10 Things tomorrow will include a progress report.

Otherwise, I'll tell you how good I'm getting at Chess Titans.

Continue reading ...

Friday, August 8, 2008


It takes a lot to make me cringe these days.

Not that I have some sort of insane tolerance for things, but let's face it: in the world we live in with media coverage of pretty much everything, the Internet providing access to whatever sick, twisted and depraved material people are searching for, I'm just generally never surprised at the things that people are into any more.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I got an email today and it made me cringe. Please note: I didn't even open the message.

I have a friend who sends out roughly 963 emails a week, generally from one of two categories: twisted shit (accidents, violence, etc.) or porn. And ladies, you're in luck, he's single!

Anyway, most of the time I simply delete anything he sends me because I'm not a nearly 40-year-old guy who doesn't realize that the people I email can just as easily access porn as I do without flooding their inbox with boobs on a daily basis.

Clicking around, I heard that familiar ping signaling a new message and went to check it out. It was from this friend. Let's call him Bas.

Anyway, Bas' latest forward to me - The Police Scanner audio from the Greyhound Bus decapitation.

Who in the fuck wants to listen to that? I sure don't.

The thing that gets me about messages like this is what goes through someone's head before they (a) listen to the thing themselves and (b) decide it's something they need to send to everyone they know.

Personally, hearing people undoubtedly screaming in horror during an incredibly horrific event isn't my cup of tea. If it's yours, I don't know if we can be friends.

It's like the premise of the movie Untraceable, where the more people that log onto a website the faster the victim dies. Me, I'm never logging onto that website because I'm not one for watching someone die. In this case, the same goes for hearing it.

Somebody has violently lost their life.

A family has lost one of it's members.

Lives have been eternally changed.

And I've got some douchebag friend that is flipping the audio of the whole thing to everyone he knows.

Maybe you think about that before you hit that "Send" button next time...

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Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Lollipop
Artist: Lil Wayne
Album: Tha Carter III (2008)

I can't get this song out of my head.

I'm not complaining, simply stating a fact. This song is insanely infectious and leaves me walking around work spending entire shifts mumbling, "L-L-L-L-Like a lollipop" over and over and over.

There is a good chance that some of you have absolutely no idea who Lil Wayne is and that's a shame, because aside from Kanye, he's probably the most talented dude in the rap game today. Despite being all of 25 years old, Weezie has been doing this for ten years. But it's only in recent years that he has risen to the upper echelon of the industry and only with this track that he's seen the top of the charts.

No one will ever confuse this track with being full of deep lyrics - to put it simply, this track will be playing in strip clubs from now until there are no longer strip clubs in existance. It's a get naked and get nasty song, which probably explains why it's had such outstanding commercial success.

This song on this list more as a representation of Lil Wayne as a whole - both past, present and future - because I'm one of the many who think that a couple of years from now, we'll be talking about what a pioneer Lil Wayne was in terms of being a digital artist and blending genres.

Don't believe me? Weezie's favourite artist growing up... Nirvana.

You may think he's a rapper, but truth is he's a musical Mad Scientist and this pole dancer's delight is just a taste to get you hooked.

Listen to the song twice and then try not to sing it the rest of the day.

Good luck.

* * * * * * * * * *

R.I.P. Static Major

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Trust Me, Get Travel Insurance

We've been hammering out the details of the wedding over the last couple weeks and one thing that has come up both with the travel agent we're working with and our friends and family is the topic of Vacation Travel Insurance.

Previous to last year, I had never, nor would I ever, consider spending money on insurance. It just didn't make sense to me. I was traveling on the date I already picked, no questions asked and nothing was going to happen to me to change that.

Then last Christmas happened.

An appendectomy foiled Trip #1 and slamming our 12-hour-old car into a deer changed the plans for Trip #2.

Since then, everything we've planned vacation-wise has involved spending that extra hundred bucks to cover our backsides.

How beneficial is it? Well, our travel agent is planning on discussing it individually with each person who is coming to our wedding. Incidentally, that number is now looking a lot more like 20 as opposed to 10 like we were originally thinking... WOOT WOOT!

If you've ignored every other piece of advice I have given you over the life of this site - be it movies, music or random nuggets of knowledge - believe me when I say this is one thing you'll want to trust me on.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Rundown: Yes, I Enjoy Reading

I find it incredible how many people think of reading as one of the most painful acts on the face of the Earth. To some people, if you gave them the option of sitting down and reading a 300 page book or having an anal probe, they would scoff at the notion of opening a book and bend over. To me, that just seems wrong.

All of this came to light again today as I sat in the bar at work, just hanging out, waiting to see if Juice (one of my managers) was going to need me to start. I had opened the bar as a "training exercise" and volunteered to sit tight in case we got busy. To occupy my time, I brought Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs.

Note: Not bad so far, especially when I only paid $4 for it at Chapters last week. Really, how bad would a book have to be to not be worth $4?

Of the collection of people in the restaurant at the time, one shared my love of books and Chapters, two were entirely non-committal and two were astounded that anyone would choose to open a book of their own free will, let alone make it through 56 pages in roughly an hour.

While I know my stance on this might be skewed by the fact that I intend to make my living (and hopefully a modest one at that) off people being interested in reading, the fact that reading makes some people's skin crawl is mind-blowing to me.

As the NBA taught me years ago through All-Star laden Public Service Announcements, Reading is Fun-damental!

Without reading, I never would have become a writer, because I never would have encountered the subjects of today's Rundown.

All-Time Top Five Books

5. Rebels of the Backlot by Sharon Waxman
As has been mentioned a time or two, I like movies. I also like books about movies or books that become movies, as you'll see shortly. This effort is a behind-the-scenes look into the careers of six of the biggest and brightest directors in Hollywood today - Tarantino, Sodderberg, David O. Russell, Spike Jonze and Paul Thomas Anderson. If you don't know these names, you (a) have missed some really good movies and (b) would absolutely hate this book. If you have any interest in Hollywood, the film industry or what it would be like to get into an argument with George Clooney while filming Three Kings, find this book and read it.

4. Everything Bad is Good for You by Stephen Johnson
As part of the video game, music video, Reality TV generation, I've been told countless times how all of today's technology and entertainment mediums and everything else in the world is making me dumber. Finding a book that actually proves that we're becoming smarter and more intellectually advanced as a result of all these things is outstanding. Seriously, this book is a well-researched middle finger to parents everywhere who told their kids that watching too much TV or playing too much Nintendo would rot their brains.

3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Seeing the movie made me want to read the book. I loved the movie - it's #1 on the All-Time Top Five if you recall - and since the old standing truism is that the book is always better than the movie, I had to find out for myself. Since reading High Fidelity, I've read everything else Hornby has put out, except for his most recent effort Slam, since it's geared to teens and I'm painfully far removed from the teenage demographic. Anyway, the book was better than the movie, though not by much. Then again, it's my favourite movie ever, so being even a ounce better is pretty damn impressive.

2. Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley
Back-to-back book to movie adaptations near the top of the charts, where both hit the Top Five on my movie list too. While the movie rankings for these two efforts are reversed, Buckley's book has a lot more to offer that wasn't brought to the screen and therefore bests Hornby's best effort. Maybe having seen Aaron Eckhart play Nick Naylor so perfectly on screen influenced my enjoyment of the book. But if biases came into play, I would have hated the character Heather Holloway because Katie "Kate Cruise" Holmes brought her to life on camera and I downright loathe the former Joey Potter. That wasn't the case though. I loved everything about this book, including Ms. Holloway, dirty, scheming tramp that she is.

1. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Imagine opening a book and finding everything you have ever thought of on the pages before you. That is what this book is to me. I've wondered about the suddenly enormous amounts of "Housewife Sluts" willing to pose nude since the rise in cultural relevance of the Internet. I too have known since I first saw Say Anything that every woman wants to be with a guy like Lloyd Dobbler and I would never quite make it to his level of excellence. Klosterman seemingly tapped into my brain - or that of every other Pop Culture Obsessive with the attention span of a gnat - when putting together this collection. Everything he has done has struck a chord with me, but this one was first and it will probably always remain that way.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Time to Start a New Addiction

I've always known that The Wire was arguably the best show on television.

I've known this for three reasons:
(1) I've seen a couple dozen episodes myself and loved them
(2) my man Smitty swears by the show and Smitty is one of the most intelligent people I know
(3) HBO does gritty drama better than anyone

After months of deliberation, a couple good nights of tips from Montana's and an afternoon stop at Best Buy, I begin my foray into the Cops and Robbers world of Baltimore one episode at a time starting the minute I finish typing this piece.

Let me apologize right now for all the pieces about how awesome The Wire is or referencing characters that only me, Smitty and the people smart enough to have enjoyed this show during it's five year run will understand.

Time to go kick back, relax and get hooked.

B-More here I come...

Continue reading ...

Monday, August 4, 2008

How Much For Our Precious Family Memories?

D'you know what I love seeing as I'm standing in line at the grocery store, ready to have the lady with the haired lip and wonky eye look mysteriously at my produce purchases trying to decide what kind of apples I've bought (Royal Gala) and what the long cucumber-looking thingy in the bag is?

The thing in the bag is zucchini (for Sarah - I think it's nasty) and the thing I love is all the magazine covers shouting about Exclusive! First Photos of (Insert Celebrity Name Here) and their baby!

This week, of course, is the week of the newest members of the Brangelina Family, Vivienne and Knox, on the cover of a couple glossy-paged mags. But they are far from the first as anyone who has bought groceries in the last half-decade knows.

Everyone has been doing this as of late and I have to say that I think it is the most ridiculous thing in the entire world.

Now, the celebs themselves will cling to the "this way we have control and don't have to worry about the paparazzi" line, except we all know that is a load of crap. It's not like some money-hungry camera jockey isn't still going to follow Brad and Angie around everywhere they go, especially now that there are two new additions to the posse.

What they should really be saying - the celebrities - is something along the lines of, "Well, we figured since these rat bastard photographers are going to make a mint snapping pics of our kids, why shouldn't we too?"

Note: Brad and Angelina netted a cool $14M for these phots. Fourteen Million Dollars!

The other part of it that makes me cringe is that all you ever hear celebrities say about photoshoots is how they're never as glamourous as they end up looking: it's a lot of standing and posing and bending and twisting and getting the shot set up and blah blah blah blah blah.

If it's wholly unenjoyable for a grown-up, how awesome can it possibly be for a kid who only entered the world a handful of weeks ago?

Scariest thought of all: What's next?

Exclusive: OK! Magazine in the Delivery Room, complete with action shots!

Continue reading ...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

1. Things Always Seem To Work Out
My man Bucky was to be in town Monday night for some meetings and pints were definitely in order. Unfortunately, Monday night is the night I close at Montana's and passing up a guaranteed $150 bucks would be insane. So I had to cancel with Bucky. Turns out Bucky got to town super late and would be hanging around throughout the day Tuesday. Guess who happened to be off? Nothing better than afternoon beers and wings with an old friend.
2. Blue Jays Jinx Continues
This season, the Jays are 0-3 when I'm in attendance as they dropped Wednesday afternoon's game to Tampa while I was 18 rows up at third. As always, big thanks go out to my man Chris Schiel for the hookup - everyone had a great time... except the Jays.

3. OCD and Me
So, I kind of have a little bit of an issue with schedules and order. See, I like them, a lot and really, really don't do so well when things get thrown off schedule and out of order. Case in point, Wednesday morning. We were supposed to be leaving the house around 9:30 in Garry's car to go to the game. Too bad he took his keys with him when he left at 7:00 AM. Tried to find Sarah at the hospital to get her set, but no one could direct me to her floor. Did I mention it was pouring rain? Soaked and dejected, I got home at 9:50, pouted on the bed for about 3 minutes and drove Shitbox 2 to Toronto. We got into our seats for the bottom of the second. ARGH!
4. Chapters Really Does Have Magic Powers
I've been kind of bummed lately about writing and just work in general; no real reason, just July was a slower month and there hasn't been anything new coming down the pipeline for a few weeks. All that was washed away and the fire rekindled by a Monday trip to Chapters. Twenty minutes of shopping for cheap books (I bought three, have already read Fargo Rock City) and another twenty sitting in the chairs reading the latest issue of Spin - great story on D'Angelo and an interview with Q-Tip - and I was ready to rock the keys again. What can I say, the place just inspires me.

5. Wedding Plans Are Made
In the span of three days, we went from dealing with Lindsay the Halfwit at Flight Center who never got back to us about anything and had no real information to walking into Marlin Travel, meeting Judy (I Love Judy!), telling her what we were looking for and having everything in our hands with final confirmation coming sometime this week. Once we get it all in stone - the exact date and whatnot -you'll be sure to know. If I can give everyone some advice it's this: when it comes to your wedding plans, you want someone who is a bit of a bitch working for you; Judy is great with us but a total bad-ass on the phone and via email getting everything done and we couldn't be happier.

6. 10 Days of No TV
Have to say I'm pretty impressed, because so far it hasn't really been much of anything really. I mean, I wish I could watch Iron Chef: America every night when I get home from work (and Sarah misses Jon & Kate Plus 8) but for the most part it's been no inconvenience at all. I've read more, written about as much as always and it makes going out the door to workout a much easier decision, since I can't sit in front of sports highlights and afternoon baseball.

7. Hangover City
So I decided to have a couple drinks with some people from work on Friday night. Sarah was working at the hospital overnight and having a beer or two chatting with my colleagues sounded like a good idea. When am I going to learn that this is never what ends up happening? A couple beers turned into three Guinness, three vodka waters and tray after tray of shots that left me feeling like someone had kicked the living hell out of me all day yesterday. And then I had to go to work all night...

8. The Hangover Cure Still Works Like a Charm
I could swear I've shared my sure-fire hangover buster formula with everyone before, but just in case I haven't, I need to pass it along because it truly did make all the difference in the world yesterday. Besides the obvious (sleep, Tylenol Extra Strength) the key components are: lots and lots of water, a warm shower and McDonalds. The sooner you shower the better, as this will get you feeling better for a period. Ideally, you eat the McDonalds before the positives of the shower subside. Keep the water going all day. Next time you're feeling like I was yesterday, give this a try. You can thank me later.
9. The Motodanica Commentors
My new pet peeve here at iBlog are the random "promotional commentors" who take on various names and make witty banter about stuff they obvliously don't care about in the comments section. They're always linked to - an ad page for some Motorola phone - and pop up once or twice a week. I guess I should be flattered - getting SPAM is the mark of making it, isn't it?

10. Operation: 185 Update
Starting Weight: 204 lbs.
Last Week's Weight: 199 lbs.
Current Weight: 198.5 lbs.

Another half pound down and considering that I injested a great deal of McDonalds yesterday to combat the booze sweats, this is yet another accomplishment. I also think it's the first time in about four years that I have been under 200 pounds for consecutive weeks, so there's that too!

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Something to Believe In
Artist: Poison
Album: Flesh & Blood (1990)

Dropping Slaughter earlier in July was just because the song was fitting to my current state.

Pulling out some Poison is an ode to The Hair Metal Days that everyone went through - whether for or against - and it's all Chuck Klosterman's fault.

I'm currently reading Klosterman's first effort - Fargo Rock City - where he chronicles his growing up with Heavy Metal. Like all his work since, it's not one long narrative, but rather fractured, essay type pieces on different, related topics, including one simply titled "Poison."

I used to draw the Poison logo on just about everything. I loved these guys. How could you not?

Okay - you could easily have not, but still, I did and while there were more popular songs (Nothin' But A Good Time), better karaoke tunes (Every Rose...) and ridiculous up-beat stupidity (Unskinny Bop), this track actually has something to say.

For a Hair Metal / Glam Metal / Whateveryouwanttocallthem Metal band like Poison, that's pretty heady stuff.

I drive by the homeless sleeping on a cold dark street
Like bodies in an open grave
Underneath the broken old neon sign
That used to read jesus saves

A mile away live the rich folks
And I see how theyre living it up
While the poor they eat from hand to mouth
The rich is drinkin from a golden cup

And it just makes me wonder
Why so many lose, so few win

While the band went into serious decline following this album's release - and despite Rock of Love being a VH1 smash - Poison's best years are long behind them. Now they're that band you get to wax nostalgic about like I am now.

I remember when Poison was on top of the world - Get out your hair spray!

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