Thursday, July 31, 2008

The dangers of bus travel.

If you've been living under a rock for the past couple of days, or if you've been out of the country, there was an incident on a Greyhound bus, on its way from Edmonton to Winnipeg, in which some dude's head fell off.

(Mind you, it didn't fall off on its own; some crazy guy helped it get that way by "cutting the guy's head off and pretty much gutting him up," according to a fellow passenger.)

Now, this would be a disturbing enough story if I was sticking with my normal mode of transportation for the forseeable future: namely, getting carted around on one of those "sedan chairs" by four scantily-clad nubile young women, but not so young as to invite police scrutiny. Really, it's the only way to travel.

However, next week I'm going out to Edmonton to hang out with a few people I haven't seen in a while, then in order to get to a workshop in Saskatoon I'm TAKING THE GREYHOUND EASTWARD FROM EDMONTON. In case you didn't read the top of this post, a bus recently left Edmonton going east, and the number of heads that made the trip attached to their respective bodies did not exactly match the number of total heads on said trip.

Needless to say, my trepidation about bus transportation has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of days. Oh, I saw a thing on the CBC tonight wherein a Greyhound spokesperson assured us they have a "zero-tolerance policy" about unruly passengers. But I bet that policy hasn't just come into effect in the past 48 hours; I bet it was there before Slashy McHacksalot treated some unsuspecting passenger like a side of beef at a butcher shop.

So, if I suddenly stop writing on here for an extended period of time...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ivan Rodriguez, we hardly knew ye.

Actually... that's not entirely true. The guy did spend nearly four years in a Tiger uniform, so I think fans of the team pretty much got to know the guy.

Anyway, the point is that the Tigers traded Pudge to the Yankees for a relief pitcher, Kyle Farnsworth. This works out well for both teams:

  • acquire solid help in the bullpen since the demotion of Todd Jones as closer
  • allow Brandon Inge to start more games at catcher; while he's a great defensive defensive third baseman, one should expect a third baseman to hit better
  • apparently Pudge has been something of a mope around the Tiger clubhouse lately, according to ESPN's Buster Olney
  • seriously, if you were a professional, would you go by the name "Buster"? I wouldn't.
  • who fucking cares about the fucking Yankees?
  • fuck you, Yankees
  • you suck, Jeter!
The point I wanted to make, though, was that Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was the first big name to come to the Tigers after their disastrous 2003 season, in which they nearly broke the record for losses in a season. Detroit was just about the most hopeless franchise in all of baseball, yet Pudge — for reasons I still cannot fathom — decided to come to town as a free agent. That paved the way for others like Kenny Rogers to jump on board, and with solid talent coming up from the minors, the American League pennant followed in 2006.

So, in conclusion, thanks for helping to rescue my Tigers. You did some good work here, and we wish you the best of luck in New York.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conspiracies aplenty.

I have a friend, let's call him "Andy" — actually, he's more of an acquaintance that I've kept in touch with over the past couple of years — who seems to get suckered into believing a lot of fantastical theories and ideas which "the mainstream" deems unpalatable, untenable, or just outright fucking crazy-town.

He'll read a pop-culture book on Subject X and then get completely obsessed with it. Now, I get obsessed with things just like anyone else — with the musical stylings of Hall & Oates, with buying bananas in bunches of five only, with scaling the Big Apple beside the 401 using nothing but dollar-store suction cups — but I try to keep at least one foot planted in reality.

Here are some of the things he's been obsessed with over the past couple of years:
  • spooky recordings you listen to that change your brainwaves and make you smarter
  • ludicruous applications of quantum physics that suggest rats learn mazes from each other on the other side of the world
  • militant veganism (actually, this one does make a little sense on environmental grounds)
  • the 9/11 Truth conspiracy which suggests it was an inside job by the US government
  • the Illuminati, a global cabal of world leaders which secretly controls everything
Now, I'm certainly not the kind of guy who would watch the NBC Nightly News and believe everything I hear; heck, I've even donated to Zmag on several occasions and have stared down more than my fair share of riot cops at protests over the years. I regularly read books by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and Richard Clarke and Paul Hellyer (sometimes). I'm more inclined to believe NOW Magazine than anything I see on Fox.

At some point, though, you have to figure out where to draw the line. You have to touch base with reality (although I'm sure Andy and I would disagree on what "reality" actually is; gotta love postmodernism, eh?), and in the end, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. In Matt Taibbi's latest book The Great Derangement, he attacks the 9/11 Truthers in a satirical conversation involving Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Irv Kristol and others; the following is Wolfowitz's response to why, instead of just slamming a plane into the Pentagon (like they apparently planned for the World Trade Center), they'd fake that whole crash scene:

WOLFOWITZ: Okay, let me back up. Rather than just finding some patsies who can fly — which is exactly what we'll be doing in New York — we instead seize an actual passenger flight and remove the passengers to a remote location and kill them, disposing of the plane later. Then we attack the Pentagon and kill one hundred or so of our own people with either a missile or a Global Hawk drone plane, banking on the probability that no one will see a plane shooting a missile in broad daylight in the nation's capital. Then, after we execute this attack on the Pentagon, we go back to the site and cleverly rearrange the evidence to make it look like a plane crashed there, including planting the samples of DNA of all the people we killed in Ohio or whatever. I'm not saying it doesn't sound like a good plan, but can I ask why we're doing this? If we can't find a patsy who can fly a plane, why not just crash a plane into the Pentagon?
. . .
CHENEY: Are you suggesting that instead of executing hundreds of sinister, secretive, murderous subplans that all must go off flawlessly together to create a single underpublicized deception, that instead of that we just blow it off and go with the much larger and more spectacular World Trade Center event?
. . .
FEITH: I don't know, Dick. It just seems much easier to go with the whole fake-the-flight, kill-the-passengers, fake-the-cell-phone-calls, pass-off-the-missile-attack-as-a-plane-crash thing. I can't think of any simpler way to do this plan than that.
KRISTOL: Yeah, Dick, frankly, neither can I. I like your plan better. It's so much more... cloak 'n' daggerier!

Anyway, the point is, there's a lot of bullshit out there. If it sounds too convoluted to possibly be true, it probably is.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I have immense influence over the wheelings and dealings of the front office of the Detroit Tigers.

Let's follow the sequence of events here, shall we?
  1. Todd (gay name) Jones blows his third save in his last seven tries on Friday night.
  2. Very shortly thereafter, I, JTL (extremely heterosexual name) go ballistic on this very blog. Right here.
  3. Sometime on Saturday, Jim (also a very heterosexual name) Leyland demotes Jones from the closer role, promoting Fernando (sexuality undetermined) Rodney into the role.
I think the case is pretty clear here.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Breathe in, then out.

I'm okay now.

Seriously, I am — last night's blowout after Todd Jones essentially threw away the Tigers' 2008 season is well behind me, insofar as now I'm completely resigned to Detroit finishing the season with something along the lines of an 83-79 record, far out of the playoffs, about ten games behind the White Sox after perhaps making an early-September run when they close the gap to maybe four or so games but then lose, like, seven in a row and slide back into an extremely expensive flavour of mediocrity.

However, through the wonders of Statcounter, which tracks each and every page-load on this here blog (PS: I can totally see you right now), it came to my attention that, if you typed in something including the Tigers' closer's name and the f-word, my post came up pretty high on the list. Even just now, almost a day later, I don't do too badly in the search results:

Not bad, eh? A day later and I'm still #3 on the list.

In other news, get yourself a copy of Matt Taibbi's latest book, The Great Derangement. Just a sample of the introductory chapter, when he compares the nuttiness of some on the far left (e.g. the "9/11 Truthers" conspiracists) and the far right (e.g. Ron Paul's collection of wack-job fans):

Abandoned by the political center, both groups ascribed unblinkingly to a militant, us-against-them worldview, where only their own could be trusted. What made them distinctly American was that, while actually the victims of an obvious, unhidden conspiracy of corrupt political power, they chose to battle bugbears that were completely idiotic, fanciful and imaginary. At a time when the country desperately needed its citizens to man up and seize control of their common destiny, they instead crawled into alleys and feverishly jacked themselves off in frenzies of panicked narcissism.


Friday, July 25, 2008

goddamn fucking todd jones

how much is it to ask for a fucking goddamn closer that doesn't give up walks and hits and goddamn ninth-inning 2-run homers to jermaine fucking dye to blow leads and throw away games, goddamn horseshit pitcher, millions of fucking dollars to blow saves, i could blow games for them for so much fucking less

sox 6 tigers 5

so long 2008 playoffs


ps: todd is a gay name

pps: i should fucking know

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A-way down south in Dixie.

Seems there's an AIDS crisis facing the American south (which a study from the Southern AIDS Coalition defines as roughly everything east of Oklahoma and south of Kentucky):
  • 36% of the US population lives there, but contains over half of its HIV cases
  • more than 40% of all new HIV infections are in the south
  • perhaps most troublingly, African-American women constitute 83% of all new cases
Now, far be it from me to be an armchair sociologist... but the American south strikes me as the kind of place where people are more likely to let the Great Spook in the Sky heal you, as opposed to people with white coats and "degrees." It also seems like a place where abstinence from premarital sex (among other things) is preached to youngsters, and that these little latex doohickeys — while not perfect, they're pretty good at preventing the spread of HIV — aren't made as freely available to young people, and hence aren't used as often.

Not surprisingly, the group that did the study called for more "age-appropriate, science-driven education for prevention of all sexually transmitted diseases" (my emphasis).

Big shocker there. If there's anyone from the American south reading this, please take the following message, and spread it far and wide amongst your friends and neighbours:


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You and I could've predicted this.

Consider this quote from a member of the American media. After you read it, think to yourself, "What kind of a political outlook does this person likely have?"

In 99 per cent of the cases, [a child with autism] is a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. ... What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, "Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, you idiot."

Alright, I'll give you a minute to think.

. . .

. . .

. . .

If you said this person is a conservative radio talk-show host, you would be correct. If you guessed that this was Michael Savage — nĂ© Michael Weiner — I'll send you ten Schrute Bucks.

The weird thing is that Weiner-cum-Savage has more degrees than a thermometer: a BA in education and sociology, a MS in medical botany and medical anthropology, and a PhD in nutritional ethnomedicine. Alright, it's true that the last one sounds totally bogus, and it is; he's written books on homeopathy, which officially certifies him as a Grade R Quack. And yet, he has the third most-listened-to radio show in the US (behind such intellectual heavyweights as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity), which... well, I guess that tells us everything we need to know, doesn't it?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some suggestions, please.

What's the best, cleanest, easiest way to murder your across-the-hall neighbour's ridiculously small and yappy dog?

Y'know... just out of curiosity.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Colbert, genius is thy name.

Last night's Colbert Report found Steven giving his "Alpha Dog of the Week" award to none other than President George W. Bush, for his conduct at his last G8 meeting (previously reported here). As Mr. Colbert said,

You hear that, World? George Bush hates the environment so much he punches the air. [makes punching motion] "Ooooh, I hate you! I hate you, air!" This is terrific. President Bush may be a lame duck, but nobody told that to his balls. Picture it... he said this to the most powerful leaders on Earth! And the Canadian Prime Minister!

Also on the show, making their first TV appearance in thirty years:


Sweet Jesus, if it was possible for me to bear his children — using his Formula 401-brand man-seed — I totally would. (See clips from the show here.)

* * * * * * *

Wait, is it supposed to be, "Genius, 'Colbert' is thy name?"

Aw, who the hell cares. Just watch the Report.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free-market economics are a fickle mistress.

Wait... should that be "is a fickle mistress"? Or is "economics" a collective noun?


I'm always a little bit bemused when the shit from economic crises, e.g. the US mortgage/housing clusterfuck of recent months, hits fans from coast to coast. Nevermind that the neoliberals, who have essentially been guiding the US economy through the past three or four decades, always clamour for "lower taxes" and "less government interference in business" and "cutting red tape," created this latest fiasco themselves by getting all cozy with Bush & Co. and practically held their hands as they've drastically changed economic policies aplenty.

It feels like the right thing to say, doesn't it? "Hey government, get the hell outta my face and let me make the investments I want to, and don't tell us what we can and can't do." Follows nicely from a nifty US Revolutionary War motto:

This may have been prudent in the 1770s in the fight against the Redcoats, but when it came to the willy-nilly trading of hazily-defined second-hand, high-risk mortgage debt on the open markets, it would've been nice to have a few safeguards, wouldn't it? Might've prevented this lil' ol' meltdown we've been seeing.

Just sayin'.

...oh, and that reminds me: Remember when the likes of pre-Prime Minister Steve Harper, showing his true colours as the head of the National Citizens' Coalition in the late-'90s, called for the Canada Pension Plan to be privatized? Yup, put all the money in the stock markets, because businesses totally know what they're doing, and they do an infinitely-superior job, all the time, and let's just trust them always!

Funny how nobody in Canada is talking about privatizing the CPP these days, though.

Anyway, the point is, the neoliberals are all for the guns-a-blazin', free-wheelin', libertarian-in' approach to the economy when times are good. But when times are bad, all we hear from them is a meek, "Um, guys, tax cuts? Tax cuts would save the economy." Meanwhile, interviewee after interviewee who's just been pitched out of their house seems to say the same thing: "Hey, the government should have some sort of protection so that things like this don't happen."

The thing is that we used to, before the neoliberals got their hands on our governments.

New heights of douchebaggery.

Q: How many more months is this guy going to be President?
A: Too many.

President George Bush: 'Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter'
George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan.

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Mr Bush, whose second and final term as President ends at the end of the year, then left the meeting at the Windsor Hotel in Hokkaido where the leaders of the world's richest nations had been discussing new targets to cut carbon emissions.

One official who witnessed the extraordinary scene said afterwards: "Everyone was very surprised that he was making a joke about America's record on pollution."

Mr Bush also faced criticism at the summit after Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, was described in the White House press pack given to journalists as one of the "most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice".

The White House apologised for what it called "sloppy work" and said an official had simply lifted the characterisation from the internet without reading it.

Out of 300 million or so Americans, they had to pick this one to be their leader? Twice?

(Original article here.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Three recommendations.

Recommendation the first.

Don't go to the Applebee's restaurant on Mavis, just south of the 401 in Mississauga. There were eight of us at our table (we came straight from our baseball game around the corner), and three of us had something wrong with our orders:
  • They were "out of fish & chips." (Seriously? That's like going to the symphony and having the conductor saying, "Um, yeah, ladies and gentlemen, all of our violins and cellos are out for cleaning tonight. So, tonight's performance of Schubert's Symphony No. 3 in D major will be played by Steve on piccolo, Brenda on tuba, and Consuela over there on the triangle. Enjoy. Oh, and no refunds.")
  • One guy ordered an appetizer and an entree... the appetizer came alright, but the entree never materialized. Mind you, it was some sort of crunchy fried shrimp concoction, so it was bound to be disgusting anyway.
  • The guy sitting beside me got those sizzlin' chicken fajitas. As he got down to the bottom of the pile of rice, I noticed something stuck to the plate... some sort of price-tag or something. (The manager looked at it and said it was something which was on the bottom of the little plastic cup of guacamole which had been on the plate before. Still.)
Add that to the slow-ass service we got from a waiter who obviously didn't care about us and you have the ingredients for a magical evening of post-game dining.

Recommendation the second.

If you're a self-absorbed, moronic, brainless, soulless yuppie moron douche-fag, go and shop at the Dominion at Bayview & Eglinton. You'll feel right at home amongst your brethren.

Recommendation the third.

Listen to Little Steven's Underground Garage on a radio station near you. Or, failing the presence of such a radio station in close proximity to your location, stream it online. Little Steven is none other than Steven Van Zandt, the guitarist from the E Street Band and Silvio Dante from The Sopranos (which I admit I've never seen), music aficionado supreme, and conoisseur of fine garage-rock tunes from the 1950s to the present day. Totally fucking worth your time.

I mean, seriously, what other two-hour radio show can feature these artists all together in one place?
  • The Go-Go's
  • Foxboro Hot Tubs
  • Sly & the Family Stone
  • The Cramps
  • The Mother Truckers
  • Alejandro Escovedo
  • Elvis Costello
  • Moby Grape
...and that's a fairly average show. Totally blows my goddamn mind, every week.

* * * * * * * * *

Special Bonus Recommendation (Free of Charge).

You want a catchy song? This song is pretty G-D catchy. (It's a live version, a little different from the studio one, but I think I actually like this one better — it's a little slower and grooves a little more as a result.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

You know, I wish I had something more to tell you.

Two months without having to work is an extreme luxury, I'll grant you that. However, this means people expect you to have some sort of grandiose answer for when they ask you, "So, do you have any big plans for the summer?"

Acceptable answers seem to include the following:
  • breeding giant pandas to replenish the wild population
  • travelling to Antarctica
  • perfecting cold fusion once and for all
  • writing the Great American Novel
  • knitting an entire set of loud "Cosby sweaters" for the offensive line of the Toronto Argonauts
  • figuring out how to fully recharge my iBook's dying battery
  • determining who exactly shot J.R.
  • winning at least three stages of the Tour de France
  • breeding giant pandas to replenish the Girls Gone Wild population
Now, while my regimen the past few days hasn't exactly included Otto the Bus Driver's proclamation of "Spaghetti-O's and daytime television" (I don't think I've turned on my TV today, other than to catch highlights of last night's Tiger game in which they beat the Mariners 2-1 in 15 innings, with the M's using their backup catcher to pitch the 15th to make up for an injury-depleted bullpen), it hasn't exactly been an eventful time, to say the least. Highlights have included sleeping late, plentiful naps, and... um... more sleeping late.

I mean, just take a look at this here blog. I tend to post more often when stuff is happening all around me — yet, my last post was eight days ago. My summer is actually peppered with medium-sized events (trips to Detroit, Edmonton/Saskatoon and Toledo/Cleveland/Chicago are coming down the pipe), but in between them... it's pretty relaxed around here.

That's pretty much how it was last summer, too.

(Hey, I ain't complainin'.)