Friday, December 26, 2008

Auto bailout is good for...?

Gas cheap but good luck finding some

Gas dipped down yesterday to 66.5 cents per litre if you could find a station with gas. And no there wasn't a run on gas. Supposedly numerous gas stations across the GTA ran out of fuel, the lingering result of a series of snowstorms that walloped the city earlier this week.

Though I'm not sure how a storm on a Friday can push back deliveries so much that on the following Thursday there still is a shortage. Really makes you wonder. You just can't trust these oil companies.

According to, a division of, Toronto prices hovered around $1.06 per litre this time last year.

Eartha Kitt dies at 81

Singer and actress Eartha Kitt has died on Thursday at 81 in New York, where she was being treated for colon cancer.

She was performing almost until the end, taping a PBS special six weeks ago in Chicago, Illinois. The show is set to air in February.

Kitt was well known for her distinctive voice and made a name for herself in her portrayal of Catwoman in the television series "Batman." That role produced Kitt's recognizable sultry cat growl.

She was the best Catwoman.

Another victim of the economy

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Better to give than receive - just ask Jessica Biel

The 5 most wasteful NHL moves for 2008

5. Tampa Bay's free agent spending spree

Rookie Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie decide to run their own team and sign 16 free agents committing the organization to about $100 million in salaries without any thought to team chemistry or needs. Most signings were a bust and 2 players (Chris Gratton and Radim Vrbata) have already been waived through the league. Then they sign Barry Melsrose as coach for 3 years and $2.25 million despite being out of hockey for 13 years. He last 16 games and then dumps on the team and owners. What a circus.

4. Dallas spends $15.5 million for 23 games of Sean Avery

For some reason Brett Hull felt that what the Stars were missing was a side show like Sean Avery. Hull signs him for 4 years and $15.5 million which is about what Niklas Hagman signed for with the Leafs. Avery embarrassed the league and himself one too many times and is now been sidelined. Oh and Hagman is one of the Leafs best players this season.

3. NHL allows 'Boots" Del Baggio to purchase Nashville but he has no money

The NHL spurns a perfectly good and generous offer from Jim Balsillie to purchase the Nashville franchise because he planned on moving the team to Hamilton. So instead the team went to Del Baggio who it turns out had no money. He turns out to be a crook and headed to jail. The NHL claims to have done due diligence but did they really.

2. Rangers spend $52.5 million on 2 defensemen then can't afford Sundin

This summer the Rangers spent $32.5 million over five years for Wade Redden and $20 million over four years for Michal Rozsival. Both have been mediocre and have a combined +/- of -15. When Mats Sundin finally decided he wanted to come back to the NHL he decided on the Rangers. Only the Rangers had no cap space and no one would take either Redden or Rozsival off their hands. So Sundin signed with the Canucks (supposedly his first choice). Finally the salary cap working to take away the financial clout of the rich teams.

1. NHL continues to allow Phoenix to lose $30 million per season

Team owner Jerry Moyes has been ensuring the Coyotes cover their losses, which are expected to be more than $30-million (all currency U.S.) this season, and as much as $200-million since he and former partner Steve Ellman bought the team in 2001. But Moyes's chief business, Swift Transportation, is in severe financial difficulty. It was hit by the economic downturn that crippled many trucking companies, which calls into question his ability to fund any hockey losses. The Coyotes have a 30-year lease at Arena with the city of Glendale. While the lease does give the team most of the revenue from the arena operations, there are items such as parking in which the city takes money from the Coyotes. The only way the team can break its lease and relocate is by declaring bankruptcy.

Oh, Oh, someone better tell Santa

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

VHS is officially dead

Pop culture is finally hitting the eject button on the VHS tape, the once-ubiquitous home-video format that will finish this month as a creaky ghost of Christmas past.

After three decades of steady if unspectacular service, the spinning wheels of the home-entertainment stalwart are slowing to a halt at retail outlets. On a crisp Friday morning in October, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Fla., warehouse run by Ryan J. Kugler, the last major supplier of the tapes.

It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."

Kugler estimates that 2 million tapes are still sitting on shelves of his clients' stores across the country, but they are the last analog soldiers in the lost battle against the digital invasion. "I'm not sure a lot of people are going to miss VHS," he said, "but it's been good to us."

I'm glad I stuck with my Betamax.

Stephen Harper less optimistic about 2009

Hugh Hefner is going to burn in hell!

...for this Christmas card with two topless 19-year old twins.

Mug Shot of the Week

You gotta love the attitude!

Woman Claims She Was Fired For Saying 'Merry Christmas'

A Christian woman claims she was fired from her job because she greeted callers with "Merry Christmas," but the vacation rental company says it's no Scrooge and the woman is just a disgruntled employee.

Tonia Thomas, 35, said she refused to say "Happy Holidays" and was fired, even after offering to use the company's non-holiday greeting. The Panama City woman filed a federal complaint that accuses the company of religious discrimination. She is seeking compensation for lost wages.

"I hold my core Christian values to a high standard and I absolutely refuse to give in on the basis of values. All I wanted was to be able to say 'Merry Christmas' or to acknowledge no holidays," she said Tuesday. "As a Christian, I don't recognize any other holidays."

Thomas said she is Baptist.

Her former employer, Counts-Oakes Resorts Properties Inc., said she wasn't fired for saying "Merry Christmas," but would not elaborate.

"We are a Christian company and we celebrate Christmas," said Andy Phillips, the company's president. Thomas is "a disgruntled employee," presenting a one-sided version of what happened when she was fired Dec. 10, Phillips said.

Snowzilla returns!

A giant snowman named Snowzilla has mysteriously appeared again this year — despite the city's cease-and-desist order.

Someone again built the giant snowman in Billy Powers' front yard in an east Anchorage neighborhood.

Powers is not taking credit. When questioned Tuesday afternoon, he insisted Snowzilla just somehow happened, again.

For the last three years, Snowzilla — to the delight of some and the chagrin of others — has been a very large feature in Powers' yard. In 2005, Snowzilla rose 16 feet. He had a corncob pipe and a carrot nose and two eyes made out of beer bottles.

This year, Snowzilla is estimated to be 25 feet tall. He's wearing a black stovepipe hat and scarf.

Not everybody in the neighborhood liked all the cars and visitors who came to see him.

City officials this year deemed Snowzilla a public nuisance and safety hazard. A cease-and-desist order was issued. The city tacked a public notice on Powers' door.

City officials said the structure increased traffic to the point of endangerment and that the snowman itself was unsafe.

The mayor's office says Powers appears to run a large junk and salvage operation from his home. He has violated land use codes for 13 years, the city said. He owes the city more than $100,000 in fines and other assessments.

The city said it did not expect to take any further action until after Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas - Day 12

Merry Chrismahanukwanzakah!

Blame it on the dogs


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy 41st birthday Carla Bruni Sarkozy

Funky Hanukkah Menorahs

Star Wars Menorah

Pez Menorah

Corkscrew Menorah

Ken and Barbie Menorah
(yeah they don't look Jewish)

12 Days of Christmas - Day 11

Not Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song.

Harper decides he likes appointed Senators

Prime Minister Stephen Harper temporarily reversed his position on Senate reform in order to allow him to begin the process of stacking the Red Chamber. Since he can't convince enough people to to support electing Senators, he now plans to fill the Senate with enough people who agree with him to bring his reforms.

The funny thing about his 18 appointments is that most of the new Senators would likely never win an election if the voters had their say. The new Senators include two former Conservative and Progressive Conservative MPs; two former Conservative candidates; two former Conservatives political advisors; six party officials, fundraisers, supporters and organizers; three former provincial elected officials; and three minor celebrities (how else do you describe former Olympian gold medalist Nancy Greene).

Harper did not appoint any Ontario MPPs, which would have opened up a riding for provincial Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory to run for a seat in Queen's Park. Why would be help a fellow Conservative?

Meanwhile the new Senators will go through a thorough orientation which will include sleeping in a sitting position, completing expense reports, and ordering stationary.

Used space shuttles for sale: one owner, high mileage

For anyone with an interest in the starry skies and around 42 million dollars to spare, NASA may have an interesting proposition.

NASA has issued a Request for Information, or RFI, seeking ideas from educational institutions, science museums and other appropriate organizations about the community's ability to acquire and publicly display the space shuttle orbiters and space shuttle main engines after the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program.

The US space agency has announced it is selling three used space shuttles when they are retired in 2010, after 30 years of service.

One of the three craft has already been earmarked for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The others are up for grab.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Toronto Igloo

What to do on a Sunday with too much time and snow on your hands? Some folks in Toronto made snow bricks and converted a TTC shelter into an igloo.

12 Days of Christmas - Day 10

Ummm, just a little NSFW.

Can someone please gag Julian Fantino?

Does OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino ever think before he opens up his big mouth? He had political staff in Queens Park running around in circles after suggesting the Ontario government enact legislation that would make drivers pay for accidents caused by negligence.

Fantino's proposed law would let insurance companies off the hook and make motorists pay for accidents in which they were driving aggressively in poor weather. So now he wants to rewrite Ontario insurance law because we had a weekend of bad weather and his officers got cranky responding to accidents.

It's totally inappropriate for a senior police official to be proposing new laws. We elect MPPs to debate and consider legislation, usually after public consultation. But Commissioner Fantino doesn't feel that our democratic processes apply to him.

Auto insurance has been mandatory in Ontario since the 1970s. The reason it was made compulsory was to protect people from large losses. Who in their right mind would drive in bad weather if there was a risk you might slide into someone and not be able to claim on your insurance policy? What would that do to the economy of the province if people refused to drive in bad weather? And who would decide if someone was driving to fast for the weather conditions?

Fantino claims that almost every U.S. state has this exclusion. Some how I doubt it. Start excluding accidents in bad weather and you pretty much let insurance companies off the hook for most accidents. I tried to find a state with this type of exclusion and couldn't locate even one.

The police have enough tools to use against bad drivers. Why don't they use them. Leave policy making to the elected representatives.

Torontonian is latke eating champion

A 23-year-old bodybuilder from Toronto broke the world record for the most latkes consumed in one sitting.

Pete Czerwinski ate 46 latkes (that's seven pounds' worth) in eight minutes to win the National Potato Latke Eating Championship held at Zan's Deli in Lake Grove, NY on Sunday, the first day of Hanukkah. None of the other 10 contestants were even close. Previous record was 31 latkes.

You gotta love competitive eating!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One Hit Wonder

Loudon Wainwright III - Dead Skunk (1973)

12 Days of Christmas - Day 9

Olivia Mumm auditioning for one of Santa's reindeers.

Happy Hanukkah!

...from the lame duck Commander in Chief!

Leaf Nation upset with Mats Sundin

There is a lot of back and forth on whether Leaf fans are justified in being upset with Mats Sundin. Many fans believe he owned the loyal fans some payback for the his huge paychecks by allowing the team to trade him for prospects. While others feel he has been very loyal to the organization that has failed both him and the fans.

Frankly no one is wrong on this one. Fans have a right to be upset. He refused to waive his no trade contract which he had every right to do. He indicated that he did not want to be a rental player. He suggested that he would only be comfortable playing for a team right from the start of the season. He repeated over and over that he could not see himself wearing another team's jersey. He could displayed his "undying" loyalty to the team and city by working with management to facilitate a trade that would benefit both he and the Leafs. Unfortunately he couldn't find it in him to do that. Players like Ron Francis, Brian Leetch, Ray Bourque accommodate their teams and in some cases landed on a Stanley Cup winner.

However, he had no obligation to help a team that no longer really wanted him. He was a model players for 14 years that never knocked an organization that at times was a laughing stock. He was one of the most productive players ever to wear a Leaf jersey although very well compensated. He gave it all he had although management never provided him with any decent linemates. He never jumped ship until he was literally push overboard.

Many fans were expecting more that he was able to give and because of that he legacy as a Leaf may be tarnished. Only time will tell. He was a great player although I never felt he carried the team through even a single round of the playoffs (unlike Gary Roberts or Curtis Joseph). Somehow I doubt he will be able to do with with the Canucks. I wish him well.

Film Review: Milk

December is one I go out to see films, I'm not that much into fluff so most of the serious films come out now. So I started our with Milk which is a film about Harvey Film, the first openly gay American politician who was shot and killed by an unstable political rival. The film is essential a docudrama as it very accurately follows the last 8 years of Milk's life when he decides to become politically active.

Quite simply, the film is another vehicle to demonstrate Sean Penn's extraordinary acting skills. Using a fake nose to elongate his face, Penn vibrantly conveys the essential energy of the man, the combination of relentless determination and innate likeability that could disarm even his most ardent opponents. But the film is also an excellent period piece in its portrayal of the political struggles of gays in 70s. The portrayal of Anita Bryant and John Brigg and their "propositions" to strip gays of their civil rights is a reminder that these battles continue today.

The director, Gus Van Sant, has spent his own career travelling between the margins and the mainstream, and has grappled before with gut-wrenching headlines, most profoundly in Elephant his film about Columbine.

I would expect to see several Oscar nominees coming from the film. Worth seeing.