(Darcy Tucker, Mike Walton, Rod Seiling, Ed Olczyk, Rick Kehoe, Larry Hillman)
Saturday, March 07, 2009
(Darcy Tucker, Mike Walton, Rod Seiling, Ed Olczyk, Rick Kehoe, Larry Hillman)
Michael Jackson will perform 10 concerts in London this summer in a comeback aimed at restoring his tarnished King of Pop crown. My guess is that if these concerts go well there will be more.
Jackson, 50, has been known in recent years mostly for his eccentric behavior, changing appearance and faltering health. He has not toured since his 82-date world tour in 1996-97, which grossed $178 million. His last studio album was 2001's Invincible. A much-hyped concert at the 2006 World Music Awards in London ended in disappointment, with Jackson muttering just a few bars We Are the World. Several other comeback projects, including a Jackson 5 reunion, never materialized.
But now, Jackson has a major incentive to return to the stage: money. Once one of the world?s wealthiest entertainers, Jackson has struggled with financial difficulties since 2003, when he began battling child-molestation allegations. After his acquittal in 2005, he fell deeper into seclusion and debt. In November, he defaulted on a $24.5 million loan owed on his Neverland ranch. That same month, he settled a lawsuit with the Prince of Bahrain, who sued the singer for $7 million he had invested in projects that were subsequently abandoned.
Friday, March 06, 2009
(Dave Andreychuk, Jonas Hogland, Miroslav Frycer)
Perhaps his die was cast when he first decided to run for the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party following the resignation of Ernie Eves. Tory’s leadership platform was based on a progressive agenda and he was able to hold off right wing challenges from Jim Flaherty and Frank Klee. However, it’s not clear that the party was prepared to shift to the centre of the political spectrum. To make matters worse for Tory, Premier Dalton McGuinty was comfortably occupying the centre which made it difficult for Tory to differentiate his platform from the Liberal’s.
He won a by-election in 2005 in the safest Conservative seat in the province – Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey. But he made the first of several blunders at the start of the 2007 election campaign. Instead of sticking to this safe seat, he decided to run in a riding in Toronto. The idea of representing an urban Toronto riding had obvious appeal to Tory since his constituents better reflected his values and lifestyle so he chose Don Valley West which where he lived much of his life. However, in doing so he ran against a popular Liberal cabinet minister Kathleen Wynne.
His platform was not very distinguishable from the Liberal platform and the campaign would have largely been based on the leaders’ personal appeal if not for one issue. For some reason John Tory decided to include funding for faith-based schools in his platform. It’s not clear why he felt the need to include this issue in his platform – maybe he was desperate to find a policy that was distinguishably different to the Liberal position. That issued polarized voters and guaranteed another Liberal majority.
In the meantime he might have recovered politically if he had won a seat in the election but he didn’t. Losing the election and his riding was in fact his political death although he insisted on clinging to life support for another 18 months. He survived the threat of a leadership review but couldn’t find a sitting member who would resign their seat for him. His caucus was divided over his leadership and drifting without a rudder. Finally Conservative MPP Laurie Scott resigned her seat in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock but Tory couldn’t win that seat either. To add insult to injury, the Liberals had won a by-election in a safe Conservative riding while the public was questioning their handling of the Ontario recession.
So after 4 years of invisible leadership, the Ontario Conservatives are weaker than after the defeat of the Eves government in 2003. John Tory’s political legacy is an embarrassment. He lost two winnable ridings as well as a winnable election. Add to that his loss to David Miller for mayor of Toronto and the disastrous results when he chaired Kim Campbell’s election campaign (the Conservative lost all but 2 seats), I’d say John Tory would likely be the first guy voted off the island if he was on the Survivor reality TV show.
On March 6, 1834, with William Lyon Mackenzie as its mayor, the Town of York became incorporated as a legal entity. Since then, the city has grown from a municipality of fewer than 10,000 people, mainly from the British Isles, to a city of more than 2.5 million, with residents from virtually every country on the planet.
The city has planned a number of events over the weekend. Check it out at:
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Trade deadline day has to be just about the biggest event in the NHL calendar besides maybe the Stanley Cup finals. It’s bigger than the Amateur Draft or the start of free agency because moves made on trade deadline day impact on teams immediately as opposed to several months later.
The number of transactions and the number of players moved yesterday are similar to previous years. It’s just the nature of the transactions that were different. From the Maple Leafs' perspective, they couldn’t have picked a worse time to begin rebuilding. A rebuild requires a stockpile of draft picks and young prospects which today are the most coveted commodities in the NHL.
The salary cap has neutralized the financial clout of the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers. The Rangers would have signed Mats Sundin if not for the salary cap. Instead they had to settle for Nik Antropov. As for the Leafs, they would never have chosen a 3-5 year rebuilding program when they could just restock their lineup with free agents. And if you make a few mistakes well then just sign some more free agents. Without the cap, hockey would look like baseball where the Yankees, Dodger and Red Sox show no restraint even during these tough economic times. So instead we saw the Leafs essentially “purchase” a fourth round pick by taking on $600,000 in salaries from cash-strapped Tampa Bay for injured players. The guys are so banged up they probably will come to town in ambulances.
Yesterday there were 22 transactions but included very few big names. No one is interested in taking on additional salary and no one really wants to part with cheap talent. So it was amazing there were even 22 transactions. A total of 21 draft picks changed hands but only 1 was in the first round. Last year at the deadline there were 4 first round picks moved. The year before there about 10 moved in the days leading to the trade deadline. A number of Cup contenders decided against making moves (Detroit, Washington, Vancouver, Montreal). There were a large group of big stars that were clearly on the market but no buyers. With so many teams in a playoff position still it was thought to be a sellers’ market but it turned out to be neither. There was a lot of window shopping but you couldn’t give away expensive assets.
A number of teams with serious financial problems were able to move some salaries through either the waiver wire or trades but they wish they could have done more. I expect that going into next season, there may not be any teams at the salary cap and many down near the salary floor. So it is not likely to be a good year for free agents. If Brian Burke was right about the market, don’t be surprised if Dominic Moore winds up signing with the Leafs this summer.
We have not seen an economic downturn like this in our lifetime. It should be interesting on how this plays out for sports leagues and franchises in the next two years.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Southwest Airlines has angered passengers with an image of a bikini-clad model on the side of a Boeing 737.
Describing it as 'soft porn' and offensive to families, the image features Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, currently dating actor Leonardo DiCaprio, lying down in a brief white bikini. It is part of a promotional deal with Sports Illustrated magazine.
This is the same airline that tried to boot a woman off of one of their planes because her outfit was too skimpy. I guess what goes inside the plane is more important than was goes on the outside. Or maybe it's the big fee paid by Sports Illustrated.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Not quite a Big Mac Attack. More like Nugget Emergency.
Angered that her local McDonald's was out of Chicken McNuggets, a Florida woman called 911 three times to report the fast food "emergency." Latreasa Goodman, 27, called police to complain that a cashier--citing a McDonald's all sales are final policy--would not give her a refund. When cops responded to the restaurant, Goodman told them, "This is an emergency. If I would have known they didn't have McNuggets, I wouldn't have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don't want one." Goodman noted, "I called 911 because I couldn't get a refund, and I wanted my McNuggets," according to the below Fort Pierce Police Department report.
That logic, however, did not amuse the cops who cited her for misusing the 911 system. Even after being issued a misdemeanor citation, Goodman contended, "this is an emergency, my McNuggets are an emergency." The McDonald's devotee is seen at right in a mug shot snapped after a previous encounter with police.
Oh and the manager acknowledges that the unsatisfied customer should have been given a refund. One is being mailed out along with an apology and some free voucher. See this had a happy ending after all.
Some guy was charged after Ontario Provincial Police clocked him travelling 250 km/h (about 155 miles/h) on Highway 400 just after midnight. In case you were wondering he was driving an
Police charged him with stunt driving, sometimes referred to as street racing, under the province's Highway Safety Act. He had his car impounded and his license suspended as a result of the charge.
He could face a fine of anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 if he's found guilty.
(Rob Ramage, Jim Dorey, Rocky Saganuk, Brit Selby)
Monday, March 02, 2009
The company is giving away 35 Toyota Venza V6 AWD vehicles, 100 cash prizes of $10,000 each, Toshiba laptops, $100 Tim Card gift cards and food prizes.
In all, 281,686,000 cups have been produced for the contest, Tim Hortons said. The cups will be available through May 1. But I never win. Below is the best I ever do.
He clearly suggests that no Canadian boy would embarrass himself with a display like that. So tell me, wasn't Theo Fleury from Alberta? How about Tiger Williams riding his stick like a horse after scoring a goal?
Delicious though they may be, Girl Scout Cookies are not recession-proof. Sales are down by as much as half according to one troop leader.
As if that weren't enough to deal with, some jerk in Washington state is buying Girl Scout cookies with fake $20 bills. One troop is out $100. How low can you go?
But the scouts will be back out - with counterfeit detecting pen in hand, next weekend.
Above is the Freedom High (Bethlehem, Pa.) cheerleading team, and they had a busy December. Steven Russo, 36, has a 17-year-old son who attends Freedom, and they decided to host a party. In attendance were several Freedom cheerleaders (14 to 16 year olds). And like all good parties, it occurred in the basement and included booze and a stripper pole.
Of course photos were taken, and that they showed up on Facebook. One of the photos — showing two of the girls kissing Russo on the cheek — began circulating at school and eventually found its way to a school administrator.
Mr. Russo was subsequently arrested. Russo is charged with endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and other offenses. The pole-dancing 16 year old is no longer a cheerleader.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
(Charlie Conacher, Ron Ellis)
A trio of Louisiana nitwits agreed to swap two young children for a $1500 cockatoo and $175. The deranged exchange was hatched after Donna Greenwell, a 51-year-old trucker, learned that the bird was being offered for sale by Brandy Romero, 27, and Paul Romero, 46. Brandy Romero told cops that Greenwell contacted her and said that while she could not afford the cockatoo's price tag, she did have children to trade (in a bid to sell the bird, the Romeros posted a flyer at a barn, where Greenwell spotted the notice, which included a photo of the cockatoo). Investigators have determined that Greenwell is not the mother of the children, a four-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. It appears as if the children, whose mother is a criminal fugitive, have resided with various families over the past several years, and have spent the past year in the custody of Greenwell, a convicted pedophile with a lengthy rap sheet.
After several years of disappointing films, Woody Allen finally returns to form with Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I had pretty much given up on him although I still caught every flick in the hopes that he would finds some inspiration. The movie is funny and I would say also his sexiest film - it smokes!
Allen has moved his latest production from London to beautiful Barcelona. As for the story it's about Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are young American friends who are spending the summer at the vast home of Vicky's aunt in Barcelona.
The level-headed and somewhat neurotic Vicky is studying Catalan culture and preparing to marry a somewhat dull fellow-New Yorker in the financial industry, settle down in the suburbs and have babies. Christina is more moody and tempestuous with vaguely artistic aspirations and disdain for the upper-middle-class existence that Vicky aspires to.
Cristina is attracted to Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a Spanish painter who oozes charm - especially after she learns his ex-wife tried to kill him with a knife.
An illness temporarily sidelines Cristina and a tipsy Vicky is surprised to find herself being willingly seduced by her host. Which complicates things when Cristina recovers and moves in with Juan Antonio - and even more when Vicky's fiance arrives for an extended visit. Then one night, Juan Antonio's ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) tries to kill herself and the artist brings the disheveled woman home to live with him and the initially annoyed Cristina. Anyway the story just gets more and more complicated as Allen develops one of his typical love triangles (he loves them in his movies).
Woody Allen seems to get much more out of Scarlett Johansson than he did in the two earlier films with her (Scoop and Match Point). Have never seen Rebecca Hall before but she was very good as well. As for Penelope Cruz, she literally sizzled on screen. I've always found that she struggles in English-language films and does her best work in Spanish. Well in this film she mostly uses Spanish (as does Bardem) with terrific results. The Oscar was well deserved.