Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Black Bear Video: So Much Better Than Blockbuster!

Back in the early days of iBlog, I was working at Blockbuster.

You remember; once or twice a week I would bitch and complain about the customers or the company or whatever.

Ah, the good old days.

Turns out, moving to Kimberley further proved just how absolutely ridiculous Blockbuster Video and all the other corporate video stores truly are...

See, I now rent my movies at Black Bear Video and Books. Yeah, they have books too and by books, I don't mean magazines and I certainly don't mean porn like customers used to ask all too often at Blockbuster.

They also let me bring Luke into the store, provided he doesn't pee on anything like he tried to do today before Sarah whisked him out of the store to whiz.

Oh, they also sell the most incredible, homemade gellato I've ever tasted. Yeah, gellato, as in "better than ice cream" and they make it right there and it's cheap and delicious and awesome.

But the capper - you know, besides the clerks not wearing uniforms, trying to sell you everything from a $20 coupon book you're sure to forget and the annoying loop of crappy trailers blaring in the background - comes down to money.

Monday to Thursday, two new releases... $7. Yeah, seven dollars, also known as 93 cents more than it cost to rent one new release at Blockbuster. It's not like the price skyrockets on weekends either. That extra dollar they charge me certainly isn't going to break the bank.

And previously viewed movies aren't stickered arbitrarily and placed on a giant display wall; they're in a couple cool old milk boxes and are $5 each. Old, new, whatever. $5, as in "Today I bought Pineapple Express and Max Payne for $5 each."

One and for all, Black Bear Video has proven something that I knew all along: Blockbuster Video sucks balls.

Continue reading ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Seriously... What's With This Chick?

If you don't know, this is Lady Gaga.

She's a big hit in the music world right now and I for one have absolutely no idea why. Have you heard her music? Poker Face? Just Dance? Love Game, where she tells you that she wants to ride on your disco stick?

Now, some may think I'm just being a crotchety old man who is ripping a chick for being not-so-coyly sexual after years of rap artists doing the same, but she can be as sexual as she wants. That isn't my issue.

My issue is that she actually sucks. Everyone can sound great with an auto-tuner and a catchy dance beat. Add to that the ridiculous outfits - she pretty much wears bedazzled bathing suits and jackets with shoulder pads all the time - not to mention the face paint or masks and you have the makings of one craptacular artist.

What makes it worse is that she is actually a classically trained musician who has written hits for various people.

Too bad all that has to be covered up by some elaborate stage persona and ridiculous attire...

Bring back good music!

Continue reading ...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

10 Things I Learned This Week

After a month long hiatus, Albert is back in effect!

1. I Missed This Place
Strange how you go through lulls in life. For the last month or so I have been so wrapped up in making sure everything is running smoothly over at The Love of Sports that I haven't felt like sitting down to pen this page. Now that I've been back for four straight, I wonder how I ever stopped. I need this outlet to ramble about all things Spencer and am glad to be home.

2. You Need to Check Out TLOS
Seriously - me and my man Rip have been putting in crazy hours getting the site loaded with content each and every day and I can say without bias that it is a fantastic site. Even if you don't like sports all that much, you'll enjoy it, especially my stuff. It's the same over there as it is over here - sarcastic, entertaining and smart - just with a focus on sports.

3. My Bracket Got Busted Last Night
Stupid Villanova beating Pitt! In truth, it's my own damn fault, taking Pitt to win it all on two of my four brackets, including beating North Carolina. This is what I get for straying away from my beloved Tar Heels.

4. Getting Close to Getting Hitched
We leave for our week in Ontario in under two weeks and as my man Deuce keeps informed on MSN everyday, we're T-23 days to hitting the shores of Samana. In less than a month, I'll be married... crazy!

5. Still Don't Know What I'm Wearing Either
I have an idea and a backup plan, but as of now, I need to go shopping. Of course, that is incredibly problematic living here on the edge of the Rocky Mountains where actual malls just don't exist. I mean, WalMart is the biggest name store I could hit up in a 100 km radius and there is no way I'm wearing WalMart on my wedding day!

6. Calgary Was a Bust
Last Monday, me and two of my managers bombed into Cowtown to watch the Wings and Flames. Not only did the Wings lose and look horrible, but the night of having a few drinks and some laughs turned into me being the only one who actually drank (and I only had six...) and spending two periods in the bleeds instead of down behind the Flames bench. At least I got to have a laugh with my man Tommy after the game...

7. You Know What I Just Realized?
I say "my man" a lot. Three times already in six items... guess that's the price of being as popular as I am!

8. Bouncing Back to Bugs
If you think I have strayed away from this site for too long, you should check out the Blue Jays page at Bugs & Cranks. I haven't written a thing in nearly three months, but that too is going to change. We're doing a revamp to the site and I'll be taking my baseball blabber back to where it all began on a semi-regular basis. And yes, I'm very excited that baseball is back despite how bad I think the Jays will be this year.

9. We've Got a New Sushi Joint in Town!
That is absolutely exclamation worthy and the best part is, the food is pretty damn solid. You wouldn't expect it from the look of the place; it's in an old hotel bar that has been around since Christ was a cowboy, but it's run by a Japanese family and they rock the rolls really well. Makes getting our fix a lot easier than the hour and half drive into Fernie.

10. Congratulations Pete & Brooke
I'ma be an uncle again! My brother and his new wife are expecting, so while Brooke won't be sipping the sangria while we're in Samana, there is all the more reason for me and Pistol to tie one on once we touch down.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This One Might Get Me in Trouble

But honestly, I don't care.

Just like all those guys Jose Canseco accused of using steroids couldn't do anything back then because he was telling the truth, the same goes for this one right here.

My career at Fight! Magazine was extremely short-lived.

Their side of the story will be that I wrote something on here a few months ago that they weren't too happy with and decided to cut ties with the mouth Canadian kid who was looking for a job.

My side is that - while I love each and every one of you - about 40 people a day drop by and read this thing, so getting your panties in a bunch because I mentioned how shitty the copy you sent me makes you look pretty ridiculous. Oh, did I mention they then didn't use the edited version I sent back to them?

What makes this even funnier to me is that MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, these guys have the largest North American market share and the material that comes out every month is not only full of errors, but generally a little outdated.

I can't tell you how much I wish there was a million bucks in my bank to start-up my own MMA mag to go toe-to-toe with Fight! Not because I'm sour that I didn't get more of an opportunity, but because if they can put out what they do on a monthly basis and be successful, someone needs to put together a really tight, well-written, insightful monthly MMA magazine and make a mint.

Any investors out there?

Continue reading ...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Soundtrack of My Life

The Way I Am
Artist: Eminem
Album: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

Trust me when I tell you that this is hard for me to say:

Eminem is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Hip Hop today. The saddest thing is that it didn't have to be that way and this song is a shining example for what could have been.

Remember when Em was fierce?

Yeah, he dropped a hooky, fun track each time out, but then the rest of the albums would have these dark and moody joints like this. This was a monster, a colossal middle finger to doubters and haters and everyone who didn't like Marshall the way he was...

And then he changed.

Now every song is about shaking your ass or popping bottles. I mean shit, he did a video with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog sniffing people's asses for chrissakes.

What happened to the Eminem who gave white boys like me who grew up loving true hip hop a beacon to point to as our guy?

He sold out.

Thankfully, the talented, angry legacy he left behind lives on in this track...

Continue reading ...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yes, That's a Picture of Everlast...



Just like the prodigal son, I've returned
Anyone steppin' to me you'll get burned
Cuz I got lyrics and you ain't got none
If you come to battle bring a shotgun!

Gotta love House of Pain!

* * * * * * * *

All classic hip hop references aside, I am back. Officially. For good.

No more of this one post every two weeks crap that I've been delivering for the last couple weeks. My apologies, again...

The return to form is due to two things: (1) writing has always been my catharsis and I need that right now, a daily release from the annoyances of life and (2) a old friend of mine who I rarely talk to left me a Facebook message asking me where the hell my blog posts went.

Thanks for kicking me in the ass Cam!

So, be ready... I'm back and you better get your reading glasses!

Continue reading ...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Soundtrack of My Life

Artist: Lily Allen
Album: Alright, Still (2006)

I don't know how it took me so long to get to Lily Allen. I guess this is what happens when you have the attention span of a gnat and 30 billion thoughts running through your head all day.

Now that we're here, however, I have one important thing to say right off the bat: You must go out and buy this album. Seriously. I don't know a single soul who has listened to it that hasn't absolutely loved it and why wouldn't they? It's brilliant and this song is a great starting point for your Lily Allen love affair.

Energetic and lively, this track is a sarcastic and slanted ride through London set to infectious horns and a danceable beat. The first three bars can't play anywhere in our house without both Sarah and I bouncing back and forth to it.

There is nothing better to me than being able to poke fun at someone without them knowing and that is a little bit what this song is to me. It's Allen' poking fun and drawing away the curtain on London to reveal that it's not all the hype and glamor it's often made out to be:

When you look with your eyes
Everything seems nice
But if you look twice
you can see it's all lies

Metropolitan commentary in musical form aside, how can you not enjoy the second verse all on it's own for the truth about our society that it delivers:

There was a little old lady, who was walking down the road
She was struggling with bags from Tesco
There were people from the city having lunch in the park
I believe that it's called al fresco
Then a kid came along to offer a hand

But before she had time to accept it
hits her over the head, doesn't care if she's dead
Cause he's got all her jewelery and wallet

Too funny and too true and too good for you not to being busy downloading it right now.

P.S. Get the new album too, it's also brilliant.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dishonor Roll: Cheap and Stupid

On their own, these are two character traits that are annoying, but manageable. When you combine them together, however, it's a lethal combination. Without getting into too much detail about things, I got to deal with the dynamic duo last night.

For me, the way it works is this: if you can't do it somewhere else, you can't do it here. For example, I can't go to another restaurant, walk behind the bar and make my own drinks because the bartender isn't around. Just doesn't happen.

In fact, if you were caught behind that bar, chances are you would catch the business end of a baseball bat or another blunt object in the knees while someone screamed profanities at you.

So what in the hell makes people think they can do the same anywhere else, regardless of the fact that you work there? When you're a customer, you're a customer, period. Customers don't go behind the bar.

What makes it all the more pleasurable is that the individual has made a habit of stiffing me on a nightly basis. A dollar here, two bucks there and one night where because she made no money, she decided it was okay that I didn't get what I was owed for making her drinks all night.


Now, I don't know what's going to happen to this chick; I know she's going to get in shit and I don't feel an ounce of sympathy. You get what you deserve and that's that.

The awesomeness is going to be seeing how things shake out at work once I go back, since I'm the newish guy and she's been around for a while. The good thing is I know I have a few people on my side, not that this is some kind of gang war or anything.

Honestly, it's just amazing to me how some people haven't already been eaten by bears.

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Rundown: Music I Miss

I rip on current music a lot around here. Maybe that makes me a grumpy old man or maybe that makes me a rock snob who has a taste for music that is better than shiny beats and meaningless lyrics.

Whatever it makes me, I got thinking today about artists and bands that I miss; musicians that would, in my opinion, have kept me from becoming so disinterested in what is on the radio today. Not that there aren't some things I still like, but if I hear Lady Gaga one more time, I might just cut my ears off.

Since it's Wednesday, you know what that means.

Top Five Musical Acts I Miss

5. Boogie Down Productions / KRS-One
One of the first intellectual rappers that I ever got into was KRS-One. Amidst all the dance rap on Rap Traxx 1 and 2 was "My Philosophy" by BDP, a totally different cut from everything else on the cassette and I latched on. KRS went solo after DJ Scott LaRock was murdered and did some good things for a while, but then he got flashy with I Got Next and has disappeared since.

4. Rage Against the Machine
Part of me is mad at myself for being so deeply into hip hop that I listened to almost nothing else during the high school years because I kind of missed Rage during their rise. Thankfully, I caught on later and fell in love, only to have them disband. While they have reformed at various stages, it never lasts long and that sucks, because we could really use a band like Rage today.

3. A Tribe Called Quest
Q-Tip is still around and The Renaissance was cool and all, but Tribe was arguably the best unit out there for some time and I miss that. Tip and Phife Dog played off each other perfectly and Ali Shaheed Muhammed was a drastically under appreciated DJ and producer. Midnight Marauders and Low End Theory are two of the best hip hop albums ever and I wish there were dozens more that followed.

2. Sublime
Every so often, I toss the Sublime Greatest Hits into the CD player and just chill. It reminds me of university and hanging out on the patios of Waterloo with the boys, good times that I enjoy reminiscing over. Then I remember that Bradley Nowell didn't have to die and Sublime could have kept putting out killer ska for years and years and I turn it off because I'm sad.

1. Blind Melon
I don't even really want to get into it more than saying these guys were my favorite band when lead singer Shannon Hoon OD'ed. While most people remember them as the guys who did that song with the bee girl in the video, they were so much more than "No Rain" and their greatest hits is on regular rotation in my office.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Closing in on Smashy Smashy

I make my living on the computer. Well, you know what I mean. I try to.

So, when the computer isn't working, I tend to get a bit irritated.

Down for the afternoon? Not so bad.

Down for a day? Getting grumpy.

But when the effing thing won't connect to the goddamn Internet for three days and no one seems to have any answers for me, we get dangerously close to my computer looking like the one in the picture above.


It's not the computer. I know that because I spent an hour disconnecting the stupid thing and lugging it into the store for someone to check it.

When you surf the 'net as much as I do, there is always the worry that some site I've stopped at gave me the computer equivalent of HIV.

But that's not the case; had it been, when buddy at the store hook it up to his network, there would have been all kinds of bells and whistles going off and telling him to get out as fast as he can.

Instead, I've played phone tag with the folks that run the joint up here and should have the same guy who handles the yard work in the Spring here to help me with my computer situation sometime in the next 10 minutes or so.

Which leads me to my big question of the day: How do you build a beautiful new complex like this and fuck up something as basic and essential as Internet service?

I know people come here to ski mostly, but some of us just don't like the slopes... or the outdoors in general, for that matter.

Continue reading ...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Soundtrack of My Life

Artist: K'naan feat. Chubb Rock
Album: Troubadour (2009)

(Sorry I keep disappearing... hectic life, but I'm going to try real hard to be here as routinely as possible... now on with the show!)

All kinds of elements at play in this track that get it some serious play from me right now.

I love supporting our own and K'naan is in fact that, an immigrant from Somalia who grew up in good ol' Rexdale, Ontario. While some are going to see the conscious Canadian rapper and immediately make a link to k-os, please don't. K'naan isn't all high and mighty like my man Kevin...

Second element at play is the guest appearance by Chubb Rock. Old school hip hop heads with certainly remember the big man from back in the day, just as I do, and it's nice to see him back on a beat and doing his thing. And by his thing, I mean tight lyrics like this:

The game dried up, so we come with the grease
Leadin' ya right and treatin' ya right, so peace

Element three: the beat. Produced by Track and Field, this song is infectious with the horns, the very dance floor friendly break beat and the ease with which it all rolls together.

Lastly, there are the lyrics. If you've been coming here a while, you know I'm a big fan of songs that actually say something and this one does in spades. Like I said off the top, dude is from Somalia, one of the most ravaged nations in the world and the chorus of this song, while seemingly charming and sung by children are not quite what they appear:

They don't teach us the ABCs
We play on the hard concrete
All we got is life on the streets
All we got is life on the streets

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: this is what hip hop is supposed to be and should be: Influential, intelligent and meaningful.

Continue reading ...