Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rats Celebrate New Year in Chinese Restaurant

A Toronto Chinese restaurant, Dumpling House Restaurant has been closed down when a passerby noticed rats feasting on a counter by the front window. A phone camera provided all the evidence required. I know its the Year of the Rat but this is going too far.

This type of problem probably common in big cities. Last year a similar incident in New York in a Taco Bell got national attention.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Is Britney Spears the new Frances Farmer?

Frances Farmer was an American film, television and theater actress during the 1930s and 1940s. She is perhaps better known for sensationalized accounts of her life, and especially her six-year involuntary commitment to a mental hospital rather than her acting.

Farmer signed a 7-year contract with Paramount on her 22nd birthday and moved to Hollywood. She went on to make a good number of films but she was better known for projects that were announced with her as a lead that she did not get to perform.

In an age when the studios dictated every facet of a star's life, Farmer rebelled against the studio's control and resisted every attempt they made to glamorize her private life. Her temperamental work habits and worsening alcoholism began to damage her reputation.

In 1942 and 1943, a series of sensational arrests, erratic behaviour and court appearances ended in her being institutionalized. Because of violent behaviour her family had were commited to a mental hospital where was diagnosed as manic depressive. After her release she was never able to recover professionally because of continued erratic behaviour.

Her story was a very sad one. Every story printed about Britney Spears makes me think of Frances Farmer. The problems with alcohol and pills, the inability to maintain her career, legal problems, the media coverage and her family's frustration in getting her help. It's all the same. But Britney is still young and one can hope that a better outcome is still possible.

Saturday May be Sundin's Last Game as a Leaf

The media buzz regarding a Mats Sundin has been relentless for 2 months. That is all that is being discussed on the radio, TV and in print. It has really polarized fans between those who think he should leave for the sake of the team and those who believe he has earned to the right to decide his destiny.

I would love to see a package of prospects and picks that could turn around the Leafs but I don't think he should be traded. The Leafs have an ugly history of trading their best players when they don't want to go. Sittler, McDonald, Horton, Clark, Gilmour, etc. I don't even want to talk about how they treated Dave Keon. Isn't it time the organization did the right thing and keep this guy around until he is ready to retire.

Many fans were slow to appreciate his greatness. They said he was soft. A lousy captain and no leader. He has responded by putting together a career like no other Maple Leaf. In 13 seasons with the Leafs he has only missed 42 games. That is incredible! Here are his other accomplishments.

1290 games
547 goals
755 assists
1302 points
35 goals and 74 points n 83 playoff games
9 All Star game selections
15 overtime goals (NHL record)
First European to be draft first overall
Only Swedish player to reach 1000 points
1 Olympic Gold
3 World Championship Golds
1 World Chamionship Silver
2 World Championship Bronze

Next week the GMs meet in Naples, Florida for 3 days and rumour has it the Ducks are putting together a package that will knock the socks off of Cliff Fletcher. If it's true Sundin could be gone. So Saturday could be his last game in a Leaf sweater. Very sad.

New York Condom Ad Uses Toronto Landmark

People in Gotham City are not amused. The new NYC Condom campaign features Toronto's Flatiron Building also known as the Gooderham Building. The ad entitled “The Village” (image above, highlighted on the right).

It has been used in many films when Toronto is filling in for New York. So I guess everybody just assumes that it is in New York.

7,100 Starbucks to Close on Feb. 26

Calm down addicts! It's only for 3 hours. 'm not sure if it's just US stores or those in Canada as well. Also it's just standalone stores and not those inside book sotres and supermarkets so there will be a lot of driving around that evening for a latte fix.

Starbucks plans to close the stores for three hours (5:30 pm -8:30 pm local time) on the evening of Feb. 26 to retrain about 135,000 in-store employees and people who oversee the stores. Some people are speculating that the company is going back to manual expresso machines but Starbucks says there will be no new equipment involved.

The retraining is part of Starbucks' plan to revive its brand and sales growth, which by one measure sank to an all-time low last quarter.

One Hit Wonder

Marmalade - Reflections of My Life - 1970

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kinky Montreal Prof Goes Public

That kinky retired Montreal math prof gave the NY Post an interview and went public about his secret kinky sex life.

He said that he's been secretly involved with S&M for many decades. In order to take trips for NYC's S&M clubs (while staying at a Y), he would claim he was visiting the city to take photographs and enjoy Brooklyn pizza. "My biggest fear has always been that someone would find out. That's why I come to New York and never do this in Montreal."

He spent three days in a coma after he slipped out of a high heel shoe - while a chain attached to his dog collared-neck was suspended from the ceiling at the Nutcracker Suite (website is active again) in Midtown - and almost choked to death.

He is desperately trying to break his addiction.

"It's like when you crave a turkey," he said. "You eat it and you eat it and you eat it, but you still want it. But now I've had enough. I don't want turkey anymore. I'm full." ..."Now that I've almost died, I can't see myself going back to S&M," he said. "If you gave me $100,000 to spend there, I wouldn't. I'm not crazy."

Clemens Hearings Going Fabulously

I just can't believe what a huge waste these hearings are. You would think with thousands of Americans losing their jobs and homes, national security concerns, and immigration problems, Congress would have other priorities. Obviously not.

If you have listened to any of the questioning it becomes obvious that the hearings are as partisan as everything else in DC. The Republicans side with Clemens and the Democrats side with McNamee. Who cares about the turth anyway.

Speaking of the truth, you won't find out what it is by following the hearings. So far the only thing that Clemens and McNamee have agreed on is that Debbie Clemens was indeed on the juice. At least they can agree on something! Whenever Clemens doesn’t like the question he just says “I don’t remember.”

The problem is that McNamee is a sleazebag and Clemens is doing his best Richard Nixon imitation. It may take years to crack this nut.

Good Luck Trying to Leave Facebook

Even though Microsoft recently spent $240 million to buy a 1.6% stake in Facebook, Bill Gates recently decided to stop using the site because he was tired of dealing with the 8,000 friend requests he was getting every day. If he ever wants to actually delete his account, though, he might want to read this New York Times article about how it's nearly impossible to do that.

“It’s like the Hotel California,” said Nipon Das, 34, a director at a biotechnology consulting firm in Manhattan, who tried unsuccessfully to delete his account this fall. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

Deputies Dump Paralyzed Man from Wheelchair

Four sheriff's deputies have been suspended after purposely tipping a paralyzed man out of his wheelchair onto a jailhouse floor.

Surveillance footage from Jan. 29 shows Hillsborough County deputy Charlette Marshall-Jones dumping Brian Sterner out of his wheelchair and searching him on the floor after he was brought in on a warrant after a traffic violation.

Sterner said when he was taken into booking room and told to stand up, Jones grew agitated when he told her that he could not. Obviouisly she didn't believe him. The moments were recorded by cameras in Orient Road Jail.

The Deputy involved is quoted as saying "I feel positive. When I know I'm not wrong, I feel that way. ... I do believe the truth will come out, but I can't offer more than that." But it's hard to imagine what would justify dumping a paralyzed man onto the floor.

Current Delegate Count

Barack Obama hammered Hillary Clinton in last night's Potomac primaries. Obama for the first time won the majority of Latino voters, the majority of women voters, and the majority of senior citizen voters, while broadening his support in the demographics he was already winning. I don't see any positive for Clinton in last yesterday's vote. She was won 12 primaries to Obama's 21 but has lost the last 8 primaries. Her campaign manager has been replaced and the deputy resigned last night. And Clinton is now behind in Wisconsin which is the site of the next Democratic primary. This may be over sooner than the Republican race despite the fact that John McCain needs only 370 more delegates.

On the Republican side, John McCain won all his primaries, butthe margins weren't as large as Obama's. He used the victories to begin attacking Barack Obama which indicates that the leading contenders will begin focusing on each other. Mike Huckabee stubbornly hangs in and is attracting good numbers in the South (eg., 41% in Virginia). Again, it shows a lack of confidence in McCain from the "family values" conservative base. Leading one to speculate that he may reach out to this group when choosing a running mate. Huckabee has been careful to avoid attacking McCain and he would certainly the 2nd spot on the ticket.

Democrats (2,025 needed to win)
Obama 1223
Clinton 1198

Republicans (1,191 needed to win)
Romney 278
Huckabee 241
McCain 821
Others 21

number from the NY Times

The secret lives of regular guys can be scary

You would think that a 67-year old, married, retired math prof from Montreal would lead a pretty boring life. Not necessarily. This one particularly kinky guy almost choked to death at a Midtown Manhattan masochism club last Friday and had to be rushed unconscious to a hospital.

He choked and turned blue while wearing a hood and being trussed up in an S&M contraption called "the wheel" at the Nutcracker Suite, a pain palace on East 33rd Street. He had his hands bound behind him and had a leather collar around his neck that was attached to a rope secured to a hook on the ceiling.

He was wearing women's high heels and began choking when one of his feet slipped out of the shoe.

In keeping with the secretive nature of the S&M world, Benjamin was carrying only his MetroCard, and no ID, when he signed in at the club's guest registry as "Roger." So police were unable to indentify him and contact his family until he regained consciousness.

The S&M club's website is down, but a Google cached version revealed these names. The site asks "If this is something that you do wish to view, click enter button and "'Step into my parlor,' said the spider to the fly....", however, the Enter button is down, and it leads to 404 Not Found.

Giddy Up, Gary!

40-year-old Gary Coleman has revealed to that he's secretly married to 22-year-old Shannon Price. In an interview Gary said the two married in Nevada on August 28, 2007. They met on the set of one of his movies.

Gary said that he's 4'8" and she's 5'7" and it doesn't matter. Shannon said, “He was ten feet tall to me because he was sweet and I really liked his personality. That doesn’t really matter to me.”

I can't believe its already lasted over 5 months.

Trailer for 'Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?'

Here are Natalie and Scarlett on a Cold Snowy Night

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Snow Snow

It's been snowing in Downtown Toronto all morning and it looks like 20 cm will fall by midnight. That will make 70 cm in just 10 days. Typical February snowfall is 22 cm for the entire month.

I'm running out of places to put the stuff. I understand Toronto Works Dept. is hauling snow down to Lake Ontario and using ice melters to dump it in the lake. Should be another lovely commute home.

TSN Hires John Ferguson

TSN has issued a press release announcing John Ferguson has joined the TSN broadcast team as an analyst for the February 26th NHL trade deadline. He is quoted as saying:

"I made many trades over 10 deadlines in management with St. Louis and Toronto. I look forward to plying a new trade with TSN this deadline."

I don't want to sound cruel but hiring JFJ as analyst on NHL trades is like hiring Britney Spears as a parenting expert. I can hear one of the co-analysts turning to JFJ to ask:

"So John, how does that Montreal-San Jose trade compare to your deadline deal of Yanic Perreault and a 2008 5th round draft pick for Brendan Bell and a 2008 2nd round draft pick? Or how does it rank with Andrew Raycroft for Tuukka Rask?"

Jesus Image Found in Tree Log

The media is giving a lot of media coverage to a Bensalem, Pa., furniture maker who says he's found a holy item and he's been taking care of it religiously. Craig O'Connor has a block of wood that he chopped from a pine tree. On it, is an image of a Jesus-like figure with its arms outstretched. The tree rings form a kind of halo around the figure's head.
Check out the Video.

It is incredible what types of objects people will identify as containing an image of a holy figure. In the past, images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary have come in many forms, including a grilled cheese sandwich which sold for $28,000, a grease stain in a pizza pan and a fish stick. But I still think that these images could be just about anyone and not necessarily a holy figure.

Most Expensive Tuition in America

Tuition for incoming George Washington University freshmen will increase by 3 percent in the fall to $40,392, maintaining the school's position as one of the most expensive in the country to attend.

Between tuition, room and board and fees, the total cost of attending GWU climbed to $50,660 in 2007-2008. The university's board of directors agreed Friday to ramp up financial aid efforts and introduce other price control measures to bring the soaring tab under control.

Here is a quote from GWU President Steven Knapp:

"The affordability of higher education is a pressing concern for American families. "We are committed to moderating overall costs and to preserving the benefits and predictability that our fixed-tuition program offers students and their families."

What a bunch of horseshit! Fees at the University of Toronto for students in the Arts and Science program is a reasonable $5,550, Law school is $20,000 and Medical school is $18,000. That leaves enough for a nice week in Florida during Reading Week.

North America Goes Through 3 hours of BlackBerry Withdrawal

A three hour Blackberry outage affected millions of people across North America yesterday, leading to much wailing and handwringing over the temporary unavailability of a technology that didn't even exist ten years ago.

If this isn't an addiction then listen to the comments from Liveral MP Garth Turner.

"Everyone's in crisis because they're all picking away at their BlackBerrys and nothing's happening. It's almost like cutting the phone cables or a total collapse in telegraph lines a century ago. It just isolates people in a way that's quite phenomenal."

In a statement, RIM said a "data service interruption" resulted in "intermittent service delays for BlackBerry subscribers in North America." The company said voice and text-messaging services were not affected.

Monday, February 11, 2008

God help us, 3rd storm in 10 days hitting Toronto

Amy Winehouse at the Grammy Awards

Alicia Keyes singing No One at the Grammy Awards

Roger Clemens' wife was also on the juice

It's become a daily routine: A new element of Brian McNamee's "I injected Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone" story emerges -- and Clemens' attorneys call the pitcher's former personal trainer a liar. The latest, and quite possibly oddest, twist involves Clemens' wife. McNamee told congressional investigators he injected Debbie Clemens with HGH -- at the seven-time Cy Young Award winner's direction -- before the couple posed for a 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition photo shoot, a lawyer familiar with his testimony said Friday. source

Vanity Fair Features Hitchcock

In interesting item is the Vanity Fair's 2008 Hollywood Portfolio edition (March issue), which features several notable celebrities re-creating memorable scenes from Alfred Hitchcock films. Vanity Fair loves to do stuff like this and I think this one works out great. Among the celebs who took part are Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr., Jodie Foster, Seth Rogen, Naomi Watts, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Marion Cotillard, James McAvoy, Emile Hirsch, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Charlize Theron and many more.
Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem re-creating a scene from Rear Window.

Jodie Foster re-creating a scene from The Birds.

Very Nasty Hockey Injury

Florida Panther Richard Zednik suffered a horrific injury yesterday when he was cut in the throat by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate. Both fans at the game and players on the ice were shaken up and the NHL office was consulted on whether to cancel the game. It wasn't but I suspect people weren't into the game after that point.

The good news is that Zednik is going to be fine, although no details about his return to hockey have been made available. The surgery was successful and he remains in hospital. He might not have made it if not for the fact that team doctors literally ran to the bench to assist him.

This will be debated for the next few weeks but I feel that game should have been stopped. Fans and players observed a near-death accident and you can't expect people to continue like it was just another pulled groin. Players on both teams complained it was hard to refocus and Jokinen was quoted as saying if it was his call, he would have gone to the hospital with him.

Look out, Leafs Only 6 Points Out of the Playoffs!

It's happening again! Each year the Leafs go into a nose dive in mid-winter to the point where making the playoffs is mathematically possible but virtually impossible. Once they reach that point, the pressure to win disappears and suddenly the wins start to come. Of course, they finish just out of the playoffs but everyone is optimistic about next year because of their strong finish.

This past week the Leafs looked liked contenders (if you can ignore the 8-0 embarrassment against the Panthers) by beating Ottawa, Montreal and Detroit. Seems very impressive except that the Leafs will once again not make the playoffs so these games are meaningless. Suddenly, key players (eg., Tucker and Blake) who have done nothing all season, are scoring again so that by the end of the schedule they statistically will appear to have had acceptable seasons.

To make the final playoff spot in the East, you will need at least 90 points. The past 2 seasons the 8th place teams had 92 points. The Leafs currently have 55 points and are tied for 13th spot in the East. To reach 90 points and 8th place they would need to leap frog 6 teams and go 17-7-1 the rest of the way. That would be quite an achievement for a team that needed 48 games to win its first 17 games.

This team can't even lose right. Pushing up to to 9th or 10th place means that at the Amateur Draft in June, the Leafs will not be able to grab an impact player. Hopefully, this nonsense will soon be put to an end by Cliff Fletcher when he trades away the dead weight that finally woke up for the last 25 games of the season.

Current Delegate Count

On the Democrats side, big wins in Louisiana, Nebraska, Wahington and Maine by Barack Obama has provided him with more momentum in the race for delegates. Difficult to say whether Hilary Clinton can recover in the next few weeks with Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Wisconsin in the next 8 days and delegate-rich Texas just 3 weeks away. She may not be dead yet but her campaign looks like its on lifesupport. The Clintons have come back from the dead before so you can't write them off. The other factor to remember is the 796 unpledged delegates. Clinton with strong establishment connections would likely fill the current delegate gap once the unpledeged select a candidate. Even Chelsea Clinton is recruiting delegates.

For Republicans, Mike Huckabeen too Kansas and Louisiana while John McCain grabbed Washington. So as much as you think this is over, we're not quite there yet. The family value crowd have not given up and are not ready to back McCain. The ongoing internal battle is probably not going to serve the party well and I think Huckabee is serious about continuing to fight for the nomination.

Democrats (2,025 needed to win)
Obama 1143
Clinton 1138

Republicans (1,191 needed to win)
Romney 278
Huckabee 234
McCain 724
Others 21

Mugshot of the Week

...with backward baseball cap sunburb.