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Artist: Wu-Tang Clan
Album: Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
If you've ever wanted a shining example of what great hip hop is supposed to sound like, go out and get this track.
Nine talented MCs drop verses on a six minute song with no chorus. Sounds weird, I know, but with super-producer The RZA in control the whole time, this song was a monster that played on mixtape after mixtape during the summer of '97.
What made Wu-Tang so tremendous was the diversity of the lineup and songs like this showcased the varied skills and style of each member.
Under the radar members like Inspectah Deck (verse one), U-God (verse four) and Masta Killa (verse seven) all rip their contributions and force you to pay attention, while the more well-known soldiers like Method Man, Raekwon and Ghostface all deliver the goods you've long expected from them.
Particularly Raekwon, what with the "sickenin' / guaranteed made'em jump like Rod Strickland" and all.
It's news that a follow-up to his solo debut Only Built for Cuban Linx is finally set to be released after nearly four years of speculation that thinking about The Wu-Tang Clan again.
Now I'm going to have to make a homemade Classic Masters album of Wu-Tang goodness.
Track One? Yep... this one.
Friday, July 31, 2009
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Thursday, July 30, 2009
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I'm a big fan of Spike Lee despite his undying love of the Knicks and turncoat dalliance with Kobe and the Lakers this season.
To this day, Do The Right Thing is one of my favorite movies. Great soundtrack, outstanding cast, and a powerful message and commentary on race relations.
However, the title of the film isn't applicable in real life.
It appears to me that doing the right thing is for suckers and I am a Class One sucker.
I'm the dude who shows up to work every day ready to smash it out; positive attitude, work ethic in tow, ready to earn my keep.
When the phone rings to fill shifts, unless something is already planned, I'm in attendance quicker than you would have imagined.
I literally do the right things, like paying attention to my customers and engaging them in conversation, making their experience the best I can 99 times out of 100.
What has that gotten me?
Nothing but a headache.
The halfwits makes as much money as me by doing half the work, no one gets on the case about slacking on the job and chumps like me end up running around twice as much and for what?
Instead of getting the odd perk here and there, I'm working even more, including randomly having my shifts changed from time-to-time without my knowledge or consent.
"We don't need to cover that shift 24 hours from now in the bar even though we know the scheduled bartender won't be here. Spence is in, we'll just move him up there and work the crap out of him."
This isn't even an exaggeration. Two weeks ago, this exact thing happened.
No thanks, no "lemme buy you a beer" and no help scoring an impromptu day off after slugging it out hardcore for the last two weeks.
Doing the right thing is for suckers... and I'm done being a sucker.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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The last week has been insane on a number of levels for me, and has gotten me thinking about the future a great deal.
Not the future like "Will we ever get to have flying cars like the Jetson's?" or "What if we really do live in The Matrix?" but more in a sense of the direction my life is heading and all that good stuff.
You would think a guy who spends a combined six hours a day (most days) sitting at his computer in basketball shorts writing and playing UFC Undisputed wouldn't have much to think about, but you'd be wrong.
Why would you go and think something like that about me in the first place? Do you want to hurt my feelings? Just kidding ...
Five Future Thoughts Dominating My Thinking
5. There Are Better Jobs Than This, Right?
Slugging away at a restaurant at an uninhabited ski resort over the summer isn't really proving to be the most rewarded experience life has to offer. But in the last couple years, these are the only kind of jobs that have been coming my way.
Between Blockbuster, Montana's and Kelsey's, I've been a chain store chump for the last couple years and I'm starting to think it's all I'm cut out for. I don't want to be wearing crappy uniforms and slinging mediocre food you can get at any one of 47 other chain restaurants a year from now...
4. What I Want to be Doing is Getting Paid to Write
Why else do you think I spend six hours a day sitting at this here computer, pounding away on the keys, writing blog posts and articles and chapters for my still-unaccepted-by-an-agent book that would be literary gold?
As much as there have been some breakthroughs and progress in the last month or so (cool interviews, offers to cover events), there still isn't anyone willing to put my name on a bi-weekly piece of paper that says how much money they just turned over to Sarah on my behalf.
Hopefully, someone will start doing that in the next year or so.
Let's face it: I ain't gettin' any younger.
Sorry, I just always wanted to say that because, well, it's one of the most ridiculous routinely-used phrases out there. No one is getting any younger, so just stop saying it.
Anywho, I've always said I didn't want to be too old to play with my kids and by play, I don't mean fall asleep in the chair at 6:00 pm so they can draw on me in permanent markers. I mean get out there and whip their asses at basketball, coach their soccer teams (though I have no stategic knowledge of soccer whatsoever) and do the fun things my old man did when I was growing up.
Clearly, I've been thinking about this a little. Don't worry - Sarah knows.
2. Being from "Parts Unknown" is Getting Tired
At Kelsey's, your name tag is supposed to have your hometown underneath your name. Mine says, "Parts Unknown." That's what happens when you've live in three provinces over a span of six months when you start a new job that wants your hometown on your name tag.
Though it's an easy way to spark a conversation with my tables - who then see how charming and entertaining I am, not to mention a terrific server, thereby tipping me more - I'm really, really ready to find a city, settle down and start getting down to taking care of #3 if you know what I mean.
That's why I'm so jacked up about this potential (read: probable) Victoria move. It offers all the things we're looking for, puts us closer to some of our family and has been discussed as the final destination in the whirlwind travels of Sarah & Spencer.
Tell me you didn't know this was coming?
While I do spend a bunch of time just thinking about my beautiful wife and wondering what she's doing, a lot of the thoughts as of late have been about making her life better, which is where #2 really comes into play.
Her job sucks, the hospital sucks and it's making her doubt herself and that isn't cool with me. She's a terrific nurse and has proven that before, only to have this poorly-run hospital crush her spirit and make her question whether she even really wants to be a nurse at all.
I know she does and I know all she needs is the right environment to be successful and happy. My goal is to provide said environment in any way I can, whether it's moving to Victoria or making a killer dinner.
See? I got a lot on my mind...
Monday, July 27, 2009
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That's been the message on my computer for most of the last 24 hours. Outside of the weird little window I had last night to drop Albert into your life once again, the damn Internet has been on the fritz.
Pretty hard to keep up a following as an Internet writer when you can't connect for more than two minutes at a time.
Count this as another reason moving to a bigger center makes so much sense. A man needs better Internet service.
We've gotten smashed by thunderstorms the last couple days and went through a two hour power outage yesterday as well. Clearly, those kind of things affect Internet connectivity and you would think that the people in charge of the buildings here would recognize something like that.
You would think that, wouldn't you?
Nope, not the case here. Despite his having come and gone already this morning, I had to call the Building Maintenance guy and get him to come up and reset the modem for me, you know, so I could do a little work and stop playing Undisputed.
Wouldn't you know it - one little reset and we're up and running.
I wonder if he'll remember that after the thunderstorms we're supposed to get later today?
Probably not... that's why I have his number on speed dial.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
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1. Kenny Florian is a Good Dude and I Can Make Him Laugh
On very short notice Friday, I was given the opportunity to interview the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight championship and after stuttering and stammering my way through the first five minutes, I asked him if he got into any trouble while training in Montreal with GSP.
He broke out laughing and I calmed right down. The rest of the interview was smooth sailing, including a few more bouts of laughter at my insightful / ridiculous line of questions and comments. Being able to make interviewees laugh is something very important in my line of work (I think), so this was a very good day.
2. Everything Evens Out
Remember that old Seinfeld episode - the one where Jerry says everything in his life always evens out and balance is maintained? As it turns out, the same applies to my careers. When one is in the pooper, the other is off the charts and vice versa.
Since you now know I interviewed one of the very best fighters on the face of the Earth this week, that should tell you where things are at with Kelsey's. If things keep going as they have been, I might actually punch a colleague or two pretty soon.
3. Kenny Florian Isn't My Only Interview
As mentioned Thursday, I've also secured Canadian Krzysztof Soszynski for sometime later this week. Additionally, I'm getting off my ass and trying to convince TSN to do the same and bring in someone (read: me!) as an MMA writer / columnist / expert so that "Canada's Sports Leader" is adequately covering the fastest growing sport in the world.
4. The NFL is a Joke
Not in total, but if they actually suspend Michael Vick for four more games, Commissioner Roger Goddell will have lost my respect. While that certainly won't make him sleep uneasy at night, the fact that the league is punishing Vick again is ridiculous and not just because Terrell Owens says so. Dude already missed an entire year... why does he deserve four more games?
5. I've Got a Little Redneck in Me
How else do you explain me chugging cans of ice cold Old Milwaukee this week? And it's not like someone gave it to me either... I bought it with my own money! Two words - hill... wait for it... wait for it... billy!
6. I Couldn't Be Amish
The power went out for 90 minutes here tonight and I was stuck wondering what to do with myself. No television, no computer, no stove to cook on; what do you expect me to do - talk to the wife? After barbecuing ourselves a pizza, we started to read. Thankfully, the power came back on shortly thereafter, preventing any unnecessary intelligence intake.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
There are a lot of things in this world that make me scratch my head in confusion. Some of them I understand and just find ridiculous, some of them baffle me every time.
For instance, I get the whole "kids on leashes" thing, but it still is one of the most ridiculous concepts around to me. Kind of like Crocs.
One that I don't get - and am now soliciting your help with - is this:
Why do people go to a fast food restaurant, get the food "to go" and then sit in their car in the parking lot, sucking back the greasy goodness?
We witnessed this again the other night when we made a long-overdue McDonald's run and I posed the question above to Sarah.
Her explanation - "maybe some people don't want to eat alone in the restaurant" - is very plausible for individuals making the shortest "to go" trip imaginable with their goodies, but what about the rest of the people?
Unless you're flying solo, I don't understand this one bit.
You've get less surface area to spread of the tasties, potentially make a mess of your car and create more garbage with the take out bag, as opposed to the plastic "dine in" tray that I tend to throw in the garbage 7 out of 10 times... accidentally, of course.
And it's not like your local McRaunchies is some kind of sterile, entertainment-free zone. The one in Cranbrook has like six flat screen televisions, a cool little "coffee house" area with comfy chairs and always has decent music playing.
Unless you're opposed to stimulus, it's gotta be better than putting back a burger or seven in the Hyundai ...
Somebody has got to help me out with this one.
P.S. Tell me that isn't one of the best usages of those Ronald McDonald statues you've seen... hilarious!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Song: Everything is Everything
Artist: Lauryn Hill a.k.a. L-Boogie
Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
This is what hip hop needs to sound like.
Not necessarily a female MC delivering brilliance the way Lauryn did here, but well-written, well-produced music with intelligent lyrics instead of pedestrian rhymes over manufactured beats or bastardized samples of quality songs turned into oral sex opuses.
Yeah, I said it. Flo Rida's "Right Round" is horrible, regardless of how much it makes you wanna dance.
Back on topic, this album was one of the best of the last 25 years, a brilliant collection of creative and intelligent thoughts with original beats and musical, all accompanied by a delicate voice that could hit the high notes and flip rhymes without missing a step.
For me, this track was the epitome of everything incredible about Lauryn Hill and this album. The combination of her singing and rhyming paired together with a sonically-appealing melody featuring some unknown cat named John Legend on piano just clicked instantly for me.
Though the first single "Doo Woop (That Thing)" was the bigger commercial success, reaching #1 on the Billboard charts, this song received the greater critical acclaim. Lyrics like this are why:
L. Boogie spars with stars and constellations
Then came down for a little conversation
Adjacent to the king, fear no human being
Roll with cherubims to Nassau Coliseum
Now hear this mixture
Where hip hop meets scripture
Develop a negative into a positive picture
This was supposed to be here coming out party, announcing herself as a beautiful voice for a generation heading into the new millennium.
Instead, it stands as a one-off testament to her talents, as Lauryn all but disappeared, leading to her placement on The Rundown a couple weeks back.
Regardless of all the crazy rumors that circulated back in the day or how aloof and unhinged L-Boogie comes across these days, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a classic that anyone who enjoys great music should have.
And if you just want one track, this is the one.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
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I know I've said it here before, but I really should have been on Bleacher Report years ago.
Having the backing and name recognition of a major site like B/R is opening doors and providing opportunities that certainly wouldn't have come my way otherwise.
Not only is the site helping my work circulate to more and more people, yielding an average of 500 reads a day, but I've been able to secure my biggest interview to date, UFC Light Heavyweight and Winnipeg native Krzysztof Soszynski.
Add to that the syndication and partnership agreements in place with CNNSI, Fox Sports, CBS Sportsline and both Strikeforce and the WEC, and you have the makings of all kinds of fantastic opportunities collected under one roof.
This whole time, one of the stated reasons that I've covered sports as much as I do is to get a chance to go see sporting events for free. In the Bugs & Cranks days, I would have been pumped to watch the Jays play without it costing me anything.
Multiple that by a thousand and you have how excited and amped I would be to go to an MMA show with a Press Credential hanging around my neck. D'you know what's even more exciting?
Those opportunities are out there and already coming my way. I'm just not in a position to take advantage of them just yet.
But I will be soon enough and then weekends will be spent catching planes and watching fights, interviewing a who's who from the world of Mixed Martial Arts and pushing this burgeoning career of mine to that magical place I've been waiting for all along ... a place where I get paid to watch fights and write about MMA.
The first step is always the hardest and I've now passed that milestone.
Time to run with this thing.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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So it turns out I screwed up yesterday on Keyboard Kimura.
After getting up and reading some credible sources reports of the death of MMA fighter Kimo Leopoldo, I wrote about the lasting image and memories I will have of Kimo now that he's gone.
Turns out he wasn't dead. Yikes ...
A mistake? Absolutely, but not even close to one of my best. Those are captured here for your enjoyment in today's edition of The Rundown.
Top 5 Mistakes in the Life of E. Spencer Kyte
5. Becoming a Slot Supervisor
I had the best part time job in the world, working as a Slot Attendant back in Barrie. Basically, I worked three or four times a week for eight hours, walked home with at least $100 every day and had zero responsibility.
Instead of continuing to ride the Gravy Train, I took a promotion and while the base pay was far greater, so too were the responsibilities and the undeclared, cash money in my pocket went the way of the dinosaur. While my friends were buying flat screens and cars and houses, I was broke and working twice as hard.
4. French 102 - Final Grade: F-
Not only did I fail, I failed miserably, earning a 32% in the equivalent of Grade 10 French.
Now, that wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't taken Grade 10 French in high school and earned a B+. It's also kind of incredible that I managed to fail so impressively when my grandmother is a retired French teacher who used to speak French with us on a regular basis.
Let this be an indication to all that an 8:30 class Thursday morning is a very bad choice when Wednesday night is the killer night at the campus pub.
3. Guess What? I Bought a House!
Seriously, who buys a house with someone six months into the relationship? Answer: me, apparently.
Despite the fact that I was broke and knew that buying a house was a completely ridiculous idea, I still did it anyway because, well, I used to be a moron. Four months later, the relationship frizzled and we were left with an already under construction house that we needed to resolve.
Once again, people with no money should not be allowed to put themselves in positions where great amounts of money might be needed.
2. My University Career as a Whole
I should have known things were going to be bad when my first choice as a major (English) was mocked horribly by my parents, the people paying for said higher education.
Not only was I going into a program I had no real passion for, we all should have known that there was no way I was maintaining the 80% average needed to continue in the program. I got bounced after one year. The following year I got tossed from the university as a whole.
Though I went back and smashed out my degree - with exceptional grade upon my return, thankyouverymuch - my degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Resource Management isn't really helping my career as a writer in the same ways that say, I dunno, an English degree would.
1. Leaving the Casino
Long story short - me and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation parted ways on not so happy terms. This left me broke, unemployed and very, very scared.
After a brief tour of duty at Home Depot, a close friend offered me the opportunity to run his bar and I took it. Three months into the job, this girl with the most incredible eyes I've ever seen came in looking for work and we hired her.
Nearly three years later, she still has the most incredible eyes I've ever seen and she's helped me straighten out my mixed up life.
If I hadn't left the casino, I never would have met my wife.
Funny how life works sometimes ....
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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Well if it isn't the cast of Entourage.
For the first three or four seasons of the show, I was an addict. Love it, watched it religiously and rented full seasons from Blockbuster when I didn't have access to The Movie Network to watch episodes as they aired.
But somewhere a few seasons back, the show became stale. Truthfully, there is only so much weed-smoking and ass-chasing a guy can watch when the real stars of the show - E and Ari - are doing the same bits over and over again.
So it amazes me to read this morning that the writers of Entourage took a shot at Seth Rogan in last night's episode, pondering whether a real life pairing between he and Knocked Up co-star Katherine Heigl could ever really happen and calling his look "oddly fascinating."
First of all, the "Seth Rogan as a different sort of leading man" debate went down about four years ago now, back when Knocked Up was relevant, so you kind of missed the boat on that one. And really, you're show has kind of jumped the shark and only remains an HBO staple because there will always be legions of frat boys who like seeing boobs on cable and guys sitting around smoking weed.
Here's the other thing: Seth Rogan is doing far better career-wise than the entire cast of Entourage ... combined.
Jeremy Piven is one of my all-time favorite sidekicks and a fantastic actor, but it's not like people are breaking down doors to get to Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara or Kevin Connelly.
Of all of them, Connelly is the only one to have marginal success outside of the show and that was basically playing a real estate agent version of E in He's Just Not That Into You.
Meanwhile, Seth Rogan delivers serious box office numbers every time out and is set to have yet another successful opening next week with Funny People.
Who cares that he doesn't look like Johnny Depp and a real-life romance with Heigl could never happen?
Your show sucks balls now ... maybe you should worry about that instead?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
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1. This Place Confuses Me
Last week was Accordion Fest, this week is Julyfest, highlighted by drunken bocce ball. How are either of these big draws? It's not like there is a massive bocce league here either; this is a one-off weekend of excitement before the lawn bowling gear goes back in the garage. So very, very weird to me...
2. I'm Glad I'm Old
Seeing all the insanity up here this weekend, not to mention colleagues coming to work hung to the gills or worse, I'm pretty glad that my "drink-til-you-puke" days are far behind me. While I still like to sip a few suds on the deck or around a fire, getting wasted until the middle of the morning has no appeal to me whatsoever. Hell, I was in bed at 11:00 last night!
3. My Dog is Sick
I don't know what I'm going to do when I have kids and they're sick, because Cool Hand Luke has a cold and I don't want to leave his side. The poor bastard was puking and hacking yesterday and there is nothing I can do. Can you imagine how helpless I'm going to feel with kids?
4. The Amount I Write Surprises People
I've been on Bleacher Report for 23 days and in that time, I've published 37 articles. Apparently that's a lot because my profile wall is covered in congratulatory comments about "really cranking them out" and being "on a tear" and whatnot. I don't see the big deal. I write Keyboard Kimura every day, it gets imported to Bleacher Report, easy as that. Maybe I've mixed in a couple more original pieces here and there, but really, I still think I'm being kind of lazy.
5. Should This Writing Thing Not Work Out
I'm really going to buy a bar and make millions. I even know where I'm going to put it. Right here in Kimberley! This town is in serious need of a classier joint where you can get great food, sit on a nice patio and not have last call come at 11:45 p.m. and one of these days, someone else is going to realize that and make themselves a whole whack of cash.
That's about it for this week.
Time to walk the sick little dog and then head off to work... Happy Sunday, bitches!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
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Maybe I missed the newsletter, but when did bocce become a major attraction?
This weekend is Julyfest here in Kimberley, and apparently people from all over the surrounding area have invaded the town for bocce, beer and barbecues, making my neighborhood the busiest it's been since we moved here.
Personally, I don't get it.
Maybe it's because I grew up in Hamilton, where bocce was played by all my Italian friends' grandparents and no one else.
Or maybe it's because everywhere else I've lived there has been far more interesting things to do than invade a town that doesn't have a Tim Hortons for some serious bocce and partying.
Seriously, it's busier up here than it was at Christmas, New Year's or Canada Day.
We've been known to have some completely random parties - July 24 Weekend for example, known as Beastfest in honor of the birth of Greg "Beast" Jorden, but never have this many people followed us to our destination of choice.
They tell me it's a great time; some have even asked if I was, "coming out to watch the bocce this weekend?"
An afternoon watching people I don't know lawn bowling isn't high up on my list of things to do with my time off.
But apparently I'm the minority on this one, because Kimberley is flooded with people and they're dying to watch them some bocce!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
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Nicknames are a key component of being a member of The Kyte Family.
Everyone has one, sometimes regardless of whether they like it or know it. Some people, myself included, have multiple nicknames. You can't just be the name on your driver's license; that's just too boring.
Additionally, you can't just pick something and attempt to run with it. A nickname must be bestowed upon you for it to work. My mom and I are shining examples of that.
My mother, Carol, hasn't been called Carol by either me or Pete in years. We call her Faye, as do a lot of people, thanks to us.
Way back when, Pete and I watched this movie, A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, and the father was this abrasive alcohol who screamed about something every time he came home from drinking. The target of his tirades?
His wife ... Faye.
Twenty years later, she's still Faye, and a few other things.
Me? I'm Sherman.
Have been since Grade 11 or so, thanks to a horse racing friend named Keith Oliver and the last reasonably entertaining Eddie Murphy movie, The Nutty Professor.
For those who don't remember, the lead character's name is Sherman Klump, a rotund scientist with a fondness for food. Keith, whose nickname is Redman, saw said film and thought I bore a strong resemblance to the Eddie Murphy's character.
The exact quote was "Every time I see you, you just keep getting fatter and fatter. (Laughs) You're like that fuckin' Nutty Professor! (Laughs) What are you doin' Sherman?" Laughter filled the shed row, the comedy was explained to Pete and a nickname was born.
In fact, my friend Cornflake's mom - whose nickname is Ma Bell - used to introduce me to people as "Pete's brother Sherman," thinking it was my actual given name.
Which brings us to Gerard Butler and my beautiful wife.
For the nearly three years we've been together, we've been trying to come up with a nickname for Sarah. We being me and Faye. She's tried to force a couple lousy ideas on her, but nothing has stuck.
Last night, Sarah and I settled in to watch P.S. I Love You, laughing through the opening scene that is actually quite reminiscent of some of the moronic arguments and fights that we have.
She's the worrying, panicked, "What if it all doesn't work out?" type and I'm, according to the movie, "the care-free Irish guy who sings all the time."
At the climax of the fight, Gerard Butler storms out of the house, frustrated with his wife's ridiculous worries and word-twisting, angrily exclaiming, "Crazy bitch pain in me hole" on his way out the door.
And thus, a nickname was born.
Now, I can't rightfully use that in public to get my wife's attention; parents will be offended if their children are in range and females everywhere will slap me before hearing the explanation. At that point, it's too late anyway.
But PIHM works real well.
Full name, C.B. Pihm, as in Crazy Bitch Pain In Me Hole, but shortening it to just Pihm works well enough for me.
I love you Sarah, even if sometimes Sarah goes away and C.B. Pihm takes her place ...
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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Last week, The Rundown was loaded up with ladies who were once everywhere and are currently nowhere to be found. Seriously, when is the last time you saw Rachel Leigh Cook?
As promised, this week's installment switches sexes and looks at the guys who have gone AWOL. Fittingly enough, another She's All That alum is leading us off.
Top Five Male Disappearing Acts
5. Freddie Prinze Jr.
Much like the lady who played Laney, Prinze was everywhere during the She's All That / Summer Catch / Scooby-Doo days and now, ghost. His most memorable turn in the past few years probably was his guest spot as a male nanny on Friends, and that was seven years ago. Sadly, he's coming back, joining the cast of 24 for the 2010 season.
4. Cuba Gooding Jr.
Everything was going great. Good roles were coming in. Then came the Oscars and Rod Tidwell's acceptance speech. Since then you've got Rat Race, Boat Trip, so many straight-to-DVD releases they could fill an entire wall at Blockbuster. Let this be a lesson to actors everywhere: if you win an Oscar, don't act a fool or else you'll end up being Cuba's co-star in Daddy Day Camp 2.
3. Joaquin Phoenix
I know where he's gone - CRAZY! Consider this more of a "Get your ass back here and quit being all weird" than a "Whatever happened to?" type moment. Easily one of the best actors of this generation, Rivers' little brother decided earlier in the year to pack it in, grow a ridiculous beard and become the worst rapper ever, as if the world needs more shitty rappers and less great actors.
2. Everyone From N Synce Not Named Timberlake
These guys collectively are the new Andrew Ridgeley. You know - the other guy from WHAM! with George Michael. These four schleps are the modern equivalent. Let's see what they've done since JT left town:
Note to all groups with one super-talented member: keep them around or fade into oblivion.
Whether you call him Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy or any of the 47 other names he's used, you might have a hard time calling him since he's seemingly disappeared. There was a point when you couldn't escape him. He was Making the Band, opening restaurants, taking over the fashion world with Sean John and producing hits left, right and center. Now I can't tell you the last time I saw Diddy on a magazine cover or on television. Where'd you go, Diddy?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
That's what happens when you launch into the first fourteen hour gaming session you've had in years on a dreary afternoon. And to think, I was originally supposed to work all day yesterday.
UFC Undisputed cripples your hands and leaves you wanting more. As I write this, I'm already thinking about the next move in the career of my created fighter. For those of you wondering, the answer is no; I'm not using an in-shape incarnation of myself to pummel people.
That guy wasn't that good, so I retired him and made Urijah Faber as a lightweight instead.
After waiting a couple months to pick up the game, I can see what all the hype and accolades were about. This really is a pretty incredible game that works for both hardcore MMA fans like myself and button-mashing addicts who don't know Rampage Jackson from Janet Jackson.
To me, the best part is that unlike various other combat sports games, you can't just pick up the sticks and crush everyone; you're fighter has to learn and grow and improve or else he'll end up next to Spencer "The Fury" Kyte on the retired fighters list.
Time to go and further develop my fighter ... and my Nintendo thumb.
Monday, July 13, 2009
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Another evolution that has seemed to have taken place in our society over the last decade is how everyone is now an authority and to-be-respected critic of at least one thing or another.
Right along with the ability to make random accusations about people and the undying desire to tear down anything remotely positive, we're littered with pseudo-critics with little to no basis for giving advice or commentary.
I'm not Gil Grissom - I don't know absolutely everything about absolutely everything. I know a little about a lot and a lot about a select few things, like MMA, song lyrics, Pop Culture and maybe writing.
So, I feel qualified to discuss those things and give my opinions and critiques of them because I can back them up with sound reasoning and evidence.
That doesn't seem to be the case much anymore.
I hear from 462 critics who offer ways to improve my writing on sites like Bleacher Report everyday, only to remember that they're not critics, they're just people on the other side of a monitor who feel the need to feign superiority and knowledge over others.
One of the things I've been working on the most in my writing is avoiding confrontation in comments and debates. I used to get all fired up and just lose it and I'm trying better now.
So you can understand how much energy it takes when some random guy who I have never met or talked to before decides to call me by my last name (I hate that if we're not friends or we're not having attendance taken) and drops a couple "people like you" comments followed up by the always appreciated "you need to do this to make yourself better blah blah blah..."
I calmly asked him to keep the advice and guidance to himself until I could review his resume and see his journalistic qualifications.
Normally I'd have just called him "Slapnuts" and told him to fuck off.
Growth... I need it more than ever apparently because everyone is a critic and an unqualified expert.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
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I'm double-dipping today because an afternoon of writing and talking MMA after last night's UFC 100 has got me fired up...
Let me start with this: Brock Lesnar's post-fight antics and comments were horrible. Nothing funny, entertaining, or appreciable in what he said and what he did. Kudos to Dana White for immediately acknowledging that Lesnar was out of line and telling the big man just that once he got into the dressing room.
Now, what the hell is with the masses of people who would much rather fire baseless accusations at people and pray one of very few negative elements from an otherwise outstanding evening instead of celebrating the achievements and giving a person his due?
Since I'm sure a lot of people are out in left field right now, here we go.
I've read countless accusations today of Brock Lesnar being a 'roid-raging meathead and causing the UFC and MMA as a whole to lose any footing they had in regards to becoming more mainstream.
The first part of that statement sickens me and not because I like Brock Lesnar as a fighter. During the course of his athletic career, Brock Lesnar has been submitted to steroid tests more time than these keyboard jockeys have gone to the dentist, resulting in zero positive test and not even a shred of evidence to the contrary.
Now, either he has the most intricate masking system in the world and has been made away of each random test he's taken over the last ten years far enough in advance that he's never gotten caught or... he isn't the 'roid-raging meathead some people would rather he be.
How someone can have zero knowledge, proof or evidence to support a statement like that - one that is making it's rounds today amongst the anti-Lesnar contingent - is sickening to me, but sadly, it has become all too commonplace in society these days.
Secondly, just because some members of the media want to make Brock Lesnar the current poster boy for Mixed Martial Arts and use him as an example of all that is wrong with MMA doesn't mean it is accurate.
Those of us who love the sport - we follow it with dedication, write about it with passion and integrity and work to educate people about the beauty and artistry and respect involved at the highest levels - would never point to Lesnar as our Chosen One. He wouldn't be our Chosen 47 to be honest.
His antics last night were reprehensible, but his were the only unprofessional antics of the entire night. The rest of the way before that fight and in the one match afterwards, nothing but the highest levels of respect, sportsmanship and integrity were shown.
Our real poster boy is a guy like Georges St-Pierre, who routinely spends a few minutes after each fight huddled up with his opponent, thanking them for a great fight and showing nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for a hard-fought battle.
The truth is that the vast majority of Mixed Martial Artists operate on that same level of respect, integrity and sportsmanship - the ancient idea of Bushido - as GSP, with very few taking the same path Lesnar chose to take last night.
Yet here we are this morning and across the Internet today, with countless people using Brock Lesnar as the basis for their continued dislike of Mixed Martial Arts and launching unfounded attacks against a guy who has time and again came up clean against the mud these people are throwing.
Too bad our society has become a place where scandals and failures, unfounded allegations and trying to tear something down has replaced good news and success, evidence and building people up.
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1. My Resort Doesn't Like Customers
How else can you explain the (a) lack of ability to show the UFC fight cards in our bar at Kelsey's and (b) lack of advertising around the fact that the golf course we operate in conjunction with apparently having UFC 100 last night? The local dive was packed so tight that Sarah and I couldn't find a seat, yet our bar was completely empty. Super.
2. UFC 100 Kicked Ass
Last night's centennial UFC event, though actually UFC 105 if you're counting, was awesome and led me to bring 10 Things over to Keyboard Kimura this morning. Go read the piece to get all my thoughts.
3. Back to the Drawing Board for Baby Names
For two years, Sarah and I have agreed that we were naming our daughter, should we have one, Charlie. Found out yesterday that my brother and his wife have selected that name for their soon-to-be-born daughter. We're always one step behind those two and it's getting ridiculous.
4. I Have No Time for Complainers
Walking the pug this AM, a lady who owns a place up here, but lives in Calgary was out back bitching about the hike in condo fees and whatnot associated with owning her condo here. Does it suck that you're being asked to pay more for a vacation home here than you pay for your mortgage in Calgary? Maybe, but you have a vacation home! Cry me a river... and for once I'm not talking Justin Timberlake.
5. Hello, Hip Hop?
It's me, Spencer. I need you to make an appearance on the popular music scene once again and I'm not talking about your current incarnations like The Black Eyed Peas or Soulja Boy. I'm talking to you Talib Kweli and you Mos Def. Call The Roots, tell them to quit doing Jimmy Fallon and put some serious and legit Hip Hop back on the airwaves or you're going to put me on indefinite hiatus from the music I love.
6. Another Move is in the Works
Not quite sure when and not quite sure where to just yet, but we're definitely getting out of Kimberley sometime soon. As beautiful as it is here, Sarah's job isn't anywhere near as fulfilling and rewarding originally anticipated and since I can do my thing anywhere, why not load up and ship off somewhere that we would actually like to settle down long-term?
That's it for this week's new nuggets of knowledge.
See you back here for more Albert next Sunday.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
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It really is scary just how similar my brother and I are. He's the one on the left if you're wondering.
Beyond looking like twins for our entire adolescence and all the shared traits and mannerisms, it turns out we're eerily similar in terms of a number of other things as well.
We've both taken very odd paths to find the careers we want and the work that makes us most happy. Pete was on his way to stardom and success as a horse racing analyst and host before leaving it all behind to get more hands-on with the ponies. Now, he's found a great mix, working as an agent (he buys and sells horses for people) and being back behind the mic at Fort Erie and Tioga Downs.
If you've been here more than a minute, you know my story, so no need to say more than after years of trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I stumbled upon writing, fell in love with it and now you're reading the 509th post in iBlog history.
The most interesting - and also frustrating - similarity between mon frere et moi has to do with marriage and children.
I had everything planned out to propose to Sarah. We were having a weekend getaway at a beautiful hotel and I was going to do the "propose over dinner" like so many men before me. About three weeks before we went on our little trip, Pete popped the question. Not wanting to step on his toes, I pushed things back a month.
Then, whilst in the middle of getting everything coordinated and finalized for our beautiful destination wedding (and while in the process of moving here to Kimberley), an impromptu wedding announcement hit my Inbox. Pete and Brooke were making it official in Vegas at the start of November.
Now, Faye (our mom) calls me this morning to catch up. In the course of the discussion, she tells me that Pete and Brooke have selected a name for their daughter who will be entering the world some time in late September.
They're going to name her Charlie Olivia. Immediately, I started swearing.
Take a guess at what Sarah and I have always discussed and planned on naming our daughter, should we have one?
Technically, we were going to name her Charlotte and call her Charlie, but it's the same damn thing and now the version of me that is two years older and still not shaving on a regular basis has gone and Bogart'ed our name. Grrrrrr!
Is he going to shave a mohawk into his head and start writing about MMA?
Maybe develop a fondness for tattoos and get some ink?
How's about moving to British Columbia?
Seriously, it's incredible how much alike the two of us are. Maybe that's why we fight like cats and dogs just about every time we see each other.
Friday, July 10, 2009
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Song: Second Chance
Album: The Sound of Madness (2008)
Hearing this song actually made my day today. I'm not even joking.
Work looked like it was going to be complete crap and then this came on the radio and things got better. Work was still fairly craptacular, but at least I had Shinedown.
What makes this song even better to me is that it's about taking chances and following your dreams; breaking away from the image and dreams your parents hold out for you and realizing that the most important thing in the world is living your life for you, because in the end, you're the one who has to be happy.
Honestly, I wish I could have figured that out a long, long time ago. I wouldn't have spent thousands of dollars earning a Psych degree with an HR minor from Waterloo or spending nearly five years twiddling my thumbs at the casino.
I would have followed the love of English and writing that was in my heart coming out of high school and taken a journalism degree or an English Lit degree and gotten on this path that I am on a long time ago.
The good thing is that I am here now and things are slowly falling into place.
And whenever I get frustrated or negative about it, there is Shinedown.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I'm not the only one who has fallen off the face of the Earth and at least I have a good excuse.
While I've been off hammering away on the MMA side of my career aspirations, these five females in today's Rundown were all on the cusp of greatness or plastered everywhere at one point not that long ago and then... POOF!
And don't worry - the male equivalent of this list will appear next week. I'm not just looking for an excuse to put a pretty face on the front of my blog.
Top Five Female Disappearing Acts
5. Rachel Leigh Cook
Our cover girl was everywhere at one point in the late 90's to early 2000's, starring in like 497 movies and making appearances on Dawson's Creek. Now, most of those movies were complete crap and mindless sludge that continues to be shown in heavy rotation on the channel formerly known as TBS, but the real-life version of RLC is nowhere to be found.
4. Vanessa Carlton
Her melodic brand of piano pop hit the airwaves like a refreshing freight train back around the same time as Michelle Branch. I remember because I thought they were the same person at one point. But while Branch has gone on to success with The Wreckers (check'em out, they're solid), Carlton hooked up with that guy from Third Eye Blind and vanished, kind of like Third Eye Blind. Coincidence?
3. Helen Hunt
She had a string of successes, including an Oscar nod for As Good As It Gets and I would have bet money on her continuing in that pattern without missing a beat. Instead, she hasn't done much of anything and I miss her.
2. Lauryn Hill
Remember The Fugees? It was Wyclef, that guy you can't remember (Pras) and L-Boogie. She dropped The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and it was one of the best albums ever made. Then... gone. She resurfaced amid crazy rumors and a brief appearance with The Fugees at Dave Chappelle's Block Party, but other than that, nada. I miss you Ms. Lauryn... please come back and don't be crazy no more.
1. Jennifer Lopez
Remember when J-Lo was everywhere? Like, literally everywhere. Magazine covers, top of the charts, box office successes. Before the world got hooked on The Goslin's and Brangelina, everyone wanted Bennifer. Now, she's married to Rat Boy Marc Anthony, had some kids and somewhat vanished and I think the world is a better place for it.
Who should make the men's list? Let me know in the comments section.
Sorry I had abandoned you...
Monday, July 6, 2009
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You can dress up a job title or award to sound better than it actually is pretty easily.
Subway has Sandwich Artists. I once convinced everyone that I spent my summers working construction as a Site Delivery Liaison Technician, a title I invented to avoid telling people I was a go-fer.
That being said, there is one title that cannot be saved - The Biggest Loser.
Think it through for a minute or two. We all know that it comes from the television weight loss show, but is there a more unfortunate moniker around that being crowned The Biggest Loser? I think not.
Unless you're going to preface everything you say with, "So I was on that weight-loss show and I won," you're stuck answering every single person who stops you and asks, "Where do I know you from?" with, "I'm the biggest loser."
No matter how you follow-up, you immediate image conjured up in the minds of everyone who hears those words is the academically-apt gentleman pictured at the opening of this post. Actually, the real "biggest loser" is probably a little south of the guy pictured; hair a little messier, glasses a little more broken, nice set of braces and an unironic Care Bears t-shirt sounds about right.
I'm no physical specimen; I could certainly stand to lose a couple lbs and my lazy ass could really benefit from spending a little more time exercising and a little less time thinking about stuff like this, but I tell you one place you'd never find me.
On a show that awards me for winning by branding me in front of thousands - if not millions of people - The Biggest Loser.
I'll stick to being a little chubby and marginally cool, thanks.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
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Notice the title isn't 10 Things I Learned This Week ... the winds of change are blowing through iBlog.
1. I Should Have Been Posting on Bleacher Report Months Ago
The only way to build a following is to get your work to the greatest number of people imaginable and see what happens. That was my reasoning for starting to post on Bleacher Report; that and syndication on CNNSI, but still. In the short period of time I've been there, my work is getting read with increased frequency and comments are pouring in. And Press Credentials have already been offered to me too ...
2. Truly Freelance
Not only am I a freelance writer, turns out I'm a freelance bartender as well. Worked a wedding last night for a friend of my boss and in the process, I picked up another wedding for the same crowd later in the summer. Even if its half as easy and half as lucrative as last night, it will surely be better than a night at Kelsey's.
3. My Dog is Growing Up
He sleeps in his own bed now, without quarrel and without being forcibly directed to his kennel. In other news, my wife and I can actually cuddle in bed again for the first time in over a year.
4. Getting Closer to Completion
My man Newt has been working on a site for me for some time now and we're getting close to breaking it out. It'll be a one-stop shopping center for all things E. Spencer Kyte, including both iBlog and Keyboard Kimura. Hopefully we'll be rolling it out soon.
5. Booster Juice Might Bump Starbucks for the Summer
I love coffee, but summer is a time for refreshing, not overly-caffeinated hot beverages, so a switch to Booster Juice stops before running around in Cranbrook could be in order. Not only is it a more refreshing and cooling choice, the store is right there across the parking lot from SuperStore meaning we use less gas. For the record, Brazilian Thunder is the pick.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Like countless others, I'm kind of mesmerized by Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" and in watching the video recently, I have one question...
Ron Howard? Seriously?
I know you're a huge star Foxx and you can have pretty near anyone in your videos just by picking up the phone, but Opie? Really?
Watch the video; it's loaded with cameos including Jake Gyllenhall, Samuel L. Motherfuckin' Jackson, Forest Whitaker and Quincy Jones. While Jake G. doesn't necessarily fit, at least he's young and hip and the chicks dig him.
But Ron Howard?
Friday, July 3, 2009
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Album: Life Left to Go (2008)
Totally addicted to this song right now.
It plays routinely on XM Radio in the bar and I've learned all the words just from listening to it. I know that makes me sound like a bit of a geek, but let's face it, we all knew I was a bit of a geek already.
These guys are a perfect indictment of everything that is horribly wrong with the current state of music, because I guarantee there loads of people who have never heard of SafetySuit - I hadn't before this song - and they are actually pretty damn awesome, yet we get bombarded by Britney and the pop sluts, Auto-tuner hip hop and 47,000 Nickelback songs.
Seriously, this is what great rock music is supposed to sound like Mr. Kroeger, not the junk you boys from Hanna have been putting out as of late. Have a listen and go record something I want to hear.
Along with Kings of Leon, OAR and Shinedown's latest, these guys have made me almost stop listening to hip hop altogether right now. Note - I said almost. Old School classics still bump with regularity, but not much new stuff... that's just how it goes.
Anyway, have a listen and I guarantee you'll be hooked just like I was.
Happy Weekend, Fuckers!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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As cliche as the notion and cheesy as the picture may be, I'm somehow sitting here writing this post at shortly after 2:00 in the afternoon with no idea where the earlier part of the day went.
Admittedly, I got up later than originally planned, but it's not like 9:30 is crazy late or anything. Since then, we took the dog for his morning walk and I've been pounding on the keys every since. How that turned into nearly four hours of my day is beyond me...
What I will say is that the overly quick lapse of time while spent working on all things MMA this morning (and afternoon evidently) should be a clear indication to anyone who thinks it's all fun and games for me and my fellow starving artists trying to craft a career on the Internet.
Sure, I love what I do and wouldn't change it for the world, but I would certainly love to have a couple of those hours back to spend vegging on the couch with the wife or joining her and the dog on a hike, instead of taking four hours to write two articles and continue the Shameless Self-Promotion Tour.
But this is what I have to do to give myself the best chance at making writing my career. Either that, or they need to introduce writing as an Olympic event so that my not getting paid to do what I do would equate to maintaining my amateur status and give me a chance at winning a medal.
Unlike the Mexican bandit leader in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I need badges!
Or medals or something...