Saturday, April 11, 2009

Could be in need of some economic stimulus?

Woman decide to visit polar bears during dinner time

Some crazy-ass woman decides to jump into the polar bear enclosure during feeding time at the Berlin Zoo. The surprised bears decide that she might be a special Easter treat and try to eat her. Zoo workers tossed rescue rings toward the woman to hoist her out and distract polar bears swimming nearby.

The woman was severely injured and was being treated at a hospital, police said.

It's unclear why the woman entered the bear habitat, but police issued her a citation for trespassing.

One Hit Wonder

Al Stewart - Year of the Cat (1976)

Statue of the Week

What will the Maple Leafs look like next season?

Some fans with satisfied with the progress made this season in rebuilding while others found the experience utterly frustrating. Callers on sports radio shows were rather subdued and small in number by the end of the season. There isn't much to say.

There were a few surprises this season. For one, I and others had suggested that without Mats Sundin there would be no offense. But both Nik Antropov (until he was traded) and Alexei Ponikarovsky both had career years playing with various centres. Who would have figured. Matt Stajan, Domenic Moore, Ian White and Pavel Kubina also had career offensive years. In other words these players were able to step it up when given additional ice time. But the additional ice time sometimes is a reflection on the lack of depth rather than the quality of these players. Afterall would you rather have Eric Staal at centre or Matt Stajan?

The Leafs have scored 15 more goals than last season but given up 30 more. They were the worst defensive team in the NHL by a sizable margin. I think fans expected this team to be better defensively with the addition of a defensive-minded coach as well as defensive defensemen like Jeff Finger and Jonas Frogren. So what happened? Well the addition of so many new players does not created a cohesive defensive unit. There were 39 different players in a Maple Leaf jersey this season. Most nights the Leafs played 5 or 6 rookies who are all learning the game and making mistakes. The defensive core experienced a lot of injuries (Finger, Frogren, Kaberle, Van Ryn). And the goaltending was awful.

So what can we expect next season? Likely more of the same as more young players get seasoning and players not part of the future core are moved out. Here is a run down on who might be back with the Leafs next season.

Jason Blake - At the start of the season Blake had already been written off as Ferguson's worst free agent signing. But Blake was the best forward for most of the season. Most people may not realize it but he had a career high 38 assists and still led the team in shots on net. It would be an ideal time to trade him but the remaining $12 million on his contract makes that impossible. As long as he continues to contribute like he has, he does not need to worry about being bought out or banished to the AHL.

Alexei Ponikarovsky - He had a very streaky year but had a career year for goals, assists and points. He also leads the team in plus/minus. His physical play has always been lacking for a big man. He has one year left on his current contract so I expect he will be returning next season. He is a decent 2nd or 3rd line winger but will continue to play on the top line until the Leafs find better players.

Niklas Hagman - Until his two concussions he might have been the best forward for the Leafs. When he returned he lack the fiestiness that he had earlier in the season. I see him starting the season with the Leafs but could be a player that a contender might be interested in later in the season.

Matt Stajan - Scored 20 points more than the previous season but increased his physical play. Still he is not skilled enough to be a top 6 forward and not physical enough for the bottom 6. His days as a Leaf have to be numbered.

Lee Stempniak - Fletcher's last mistake that will disappear very soon.

Mikhail Grabovski - I wasn't sold on this guy and felt sure he might have a short tenure as a Maple Leaf. Now I'm not so sure. Yes, he is the first Leaf rookie in 12 years to score 20 goals. But that was Sergei Berezin and I'm not so sure that's a good comparison. But as the season wore on he played with enough nastiness to prove that he could stick in this league. He leads the Leafs in penalty minutes and has transformed himself into a Darcy Tucker-type irritant with more offensive skills. Nothing wrong with that. I'm not sure how long he can play like that at his size but while he does, he will remain a Leaf. One of Cliff's successes.

Nikolai Kulemin - I always thought he belonged in the AHL. He was a speedy winger yet having trouble adapting to the speed of the NHL game. By the end of the season he seemed to have adapted anyway and finished with 15 goals. Not bad for a rookie. Lets keep playing him and see what he can do.

John Mitchell - Like Moore, he made the most of the ice time given to him. As a rookie he scored 12 goals yet played most of the season on the 4th line. He is one of those cheap, versatile role players that you need to have on a team if you want to develop some depth.

Jamal Mayers - Mayers seems to have lost his offensive here but then he received little ice time. I think he can easily be replaced by someone younger in the organization with some toughness.

Brad May - I was also puzzled by this trade. But I have to admit I really like this guy. With very little ice time he often led the team in hits. He plays hard every shift. But he is also taking the potential spot from a young player. I think he may retire.

Jir Tlusty - Did nothing for the Leafs last season or this one. But he found his game with the Marlies and will more than likely start the season with the Leafs.

Jeremy Williams - Yes he is a sniper. But I'm not convinced he is a NHL sniper. He is small but unlike Grabovski, not very physical. He is weak in the defensive zone so I doubt Ron Wilson will have him in his starting lineup next season.

Tim Stapleton - See comments on Williams.

Ryan Hollweg- See comments on Stempniak.

Andre Deveaux - Has a decent shot as a 4th liner. Physical and eager to fight. He can also chip in with an occassional goal.

Ben Ondrus - Penalty killing skills could earn him a spot on the 4th line. Also not adverse to dropping his gloves.

Jeff Hamilton - May have earned a job in the NHL next season. But at age 31, not going to be with the Leafs.

Boyd Devereaux - Will be looking for employment elsewhere next season too. He has great speed but is fighting a youth movement in Toronto.

Christian Hanson - Starts next season with the Toronto Marlies.


Luke Schenn - Not deserving of the accolades he received but this is Toronto. He is physical and block shots. Made lots of rookie mistakes but never got flustered. He was very effective at making good short outlet passes when under pressure. Whats not to like? Captain next year?

Tomas Kaverle - He is not a Burke/Wilson player but they recognize a valuable asset when the see one. He will be traded but only for a decent return.

Ian White - The surprise of the season but then White has been winning over coaches his entire career. He is very smart with the puck and surprisingly physical for a small defenseman. He will take over on the powerplay when Kaberle is traded.

Pavel Kubina - Big and strong means Burke may keep him around. He is an awkward skater but seems to get by. On the powerplay he provides that big shot after McCabe was run out of town but without coughing up the puck. He has 14 goals which ranks him 9th among NHL defensemen.

Jeff Finger - Last summer he was Jeff Who (?) and he began the season with an injury but Finger is the type of defenseman the Leafs have been lacking. He is a defensive defenseman who blocks shots and uses his body. He will be a fixture on the Leaf defense for the next few years.

Mike Van Ryn - Too fragile. Another Cliff experiment gone bad.

Anton Stralman - The prospect did not develop this year and will start the next season with the Marlies working his way back to the NHL.

Jonas Frogren - I saw nothing that would have warranted that much attention or hassle. Though he had a lot of injuries and not given much chance to adopt to the NHL. His physical ability means he will be given a shot again next year.

Jay Harrison - The previous Leaf management had this guy so low in their depth chart than he had fled to Switzerland. But he has a legitimate shot as a 6th defenseman next season. He is a physical, stay at home defenseman that will likely beat Frogren out for the last spot on the roster.

Phil Oreskovic - Another physical defenseman who will be given a shot next season. Even he doesn't make it, he will see time with the Leafs during next season.

Jaime Sifers - Not ready for the NHL. Another physical defenseman that will have some appeal to current management.


Vesa Toskala - Ron Wilson knows what this guy can do from his days in San Jose. If healthy next year he will see the bulk of games. The decision for the Leafs is what to do with him in 2010-11 considering the lack of goalie depth in the organization.

Curtis Joseph - The fans were far too kind to the fading star. In fact he embarrassed himself this season. Next season he will not be at the end of the Leaf bench - more likely on a dock off Lake Simcoe.

Justin Pogge - It's time to hit the panic button on the future franchise goalie. Burke may not be dumping him just yet but he will be bringing in at least one new prospect to compete with Pogge next season.

Martin Gerber - Played some decent hockey in his run with the Leafs but he remains inconsistent. I bet he is interested in the Leaf's backup job. Burke might find better out there in the free agent pool.

Sexy Joss Stone is 22 today

Top salesperson fired because she needed surgery

A saleswoman for Zales who had earned 5 diamonds and almost a dozen commendations over the past 4 1/2 years—she's the area's first employee to earn a million dollars in sales in one year—was terminated last month, one week after she requested time off to have surgery for a life-threatening aortic aneurysm.

ven worse, Zales dragged its feet on providing the paperwork needed for Rose Camilleri to start her COBRA coverage, forcing her to postpone the surgery. When her son emailed asking them to speed things up, they responded, "Well, if the surgery was rescheduled, then it's probably not a life-or-death situation."

And now some holiday entertainment

Friday, April 10, 2009

White House Seder

President Obama hosts a traditional Seder dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House on Thursday night, April 9, 2009. Some friends and White House employees and their families joined the Obama family.I just want to know who asked the Four Questions.

Best NHL shoutout goal this year

...goalie is still looking for it.

Worst boxer ever

...but a great looking mullet.

Sean Avery is 29 today

...but still not a grown up.

Not enough shrimp, call 911

First there was the woman who called 911 when McDonalds ran out Chicken McNuggets. Now a Buffalo woman dialed 911 to report that she didn’t get extra shrimp in her fried rice order.

Restaurant' employees said the woman originally left with her order, but came back claiming she did not get her full $1.62 worth of extra shrimp. Since she had already left the building with her food, they refused to give her a refund.

"She started yelling and screaming, brought her boyfriend in and they started making a scene in here," said Alex Kim, the restaurant's attorney. Employees said that's when the irate woman called 911 to try to get help from the police.

"I always get the shrimp fried rice, so I said I'm going to get extra meat this time. But he didn’t even put extra shrimp in there," she told the 911 operator. The woman also told the operator that she demanded either a refund or the additional crustaceans, and that she decided to place the emergency call when she was met with resistance.

"I'm just saying, to get a police officer up here, what has to happen?" the caller asked the operator.

A police officer was dispatched to the scene, but the woman was no longer at the restaurant when he arrived. Police spokesman said she likely will not be punished for her call.

Worst job ever!

A theme park has been forced to employ a vomit collector for the first time. 22-year-old Rhys Owens will be in charge of keeping the park's most extreme ride vomit-free.

The park says the easter holidays are some of the worst for vomit-related 'sick shutdowns', due to the high quantity of chocolate being eaten.

Owens said: "The sick is just something that you have to grin and bear. I keep a nose peg attached at all times and I'm normally alright.

"Basically I'm a massive fan of rollercoasters, so I've pretty much been on it every single day.

"If all I have to do is clean up maybe one or two bits of sick throughout the day I'm not really fussed. It's a dream for me."

Last year, 619 'sick shutdowns' took place at Thorpe Park, 40 of which were in the Easter holidays. It's estimated customers left around 150 litres of sick at the park in 2008.

Britney Spears walks off stage during concert

The show didn't go on in Vancouver Wednesday night after Britney Spears pulled the plug on her sold-out Circus concert 15 minutes and three songs into her performance – departing the stage and leaving the audience in the GM Place in the dark for more than half an hour. Boos ensued.

Cigarette smoke from the crowd was blamed, with a female voice announcing to the crowd, "The building is awfully smoky. It is uncomfortable for everyone on stage, including Ms. Spears. Please extinguish all cigarettes – this is a non-smoking building, and the show will resume when the smoke on the stage is cleared," the Vancouver Sun reports.

Incredible how temperamental someone with no talent can be.

When tofu is obscene

Man stabbed for passing wind

A man's flatulence problem in a Texas motel room annoyed his room-mate so much that he ended up stabbing him.

Two friends were sharing a meal in the motel room in Waco, Texas on Tuesday, according to local police, when one of them started passing wind. The other had something of a problem with this, it seems, as he threw a large knife at his companion, hitting him in the leg.

For good measure, he then stabbed him in the chest as well.

Some guys just flat out don’t get that simple rule of society.Some guys think that farting in a small motel room with a bunch of other guys is funny. But not everyone does. I hope a lesson was learned here.

Happy to cut a Matzah in half

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Billy Bob Thorton following in the footsteps of Joaquin Phoenix

Billy Bob Thornton appeared on CBC Radio this week and refused to cooperate with host Jian Ghomeshi.

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#52 - Alexander Karpovtsev
(Robbie Earle)

#54 - Kris Newbury

#55 - Jason Blake
(Larry Murphy, Andy Wozniewski, Danny Markov)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

ATM skimming devices

Network World has got a bit of "Rogue's Gallery" of the credit card-number stealing machines so you'll better know what to look for out in the wild. For instance, this photo shows how thieves will mount a camera on the ATM so they can record you typing in your PIN. It's placed over the statement dispenser using plastic that matches perfectly with the "host" ATM. Sneaky.

Film Review: Anvil! The Story of Anvil!

Now I have disclose that I happened to have gotten to know Steve "Lips" Kudlow and his family over the past few years. I've heard some of the stories covered in the documentary but never with the emotion portrayed on the screen. This is a film have to run out and see. It is the feel good movie of the year. And its about some 50 year old heavy metal rock has beens. Lips grew up maybe a mile from where I grew up but we never knew each other and went to different high schools.

The documentary takes you on a journey through the eyes of Lips, a true Rock n' Roller. He started a band with his teenage friend Robb Reiner, called Anvil. Two nice Jewish boys from a Toronto suburb. In 1984 they were at the height of their career, traveling the world with their album Metal on Metal, what some call the album that started it all. They paved the way for bands like Metallica, Anthrax, and Guns N' Roses. They played Japan alongside the Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi. While those bands went on to sell millions of records, Anvil somehow ended up stuck in Canada. While some bands, after failing to attract a major label may call it quits, Lips has kept Anvil together in one form or another for over thirty years.

First time director Sacha Gervasi discovered the band at the age of 15, when he saw them play at a London Marquee Show. He sneaked his way backstage and the band took him up on his offer to show them around London the next day. They instantly adopted him, giving him the tender nickname of "Teabag." Eventually he went out on the road with them, touring with them three times throughout the 80s.

Gervasi lost touch with the band after the 80s, but one night in 2005 he decided to Google them. "I thought they'd died or broken up, you know, I didn't know what had happened. They produced 13 albums and they never stopped. And they still hadn't made it," he says. So Gervasi called up Lips and wrote to the website. Lips wrote back and said "Teabag, we thought you'd died or became a lawyer." Gervasi flew them out to L.A. and said, "within 10 minutes it was as if those 20 years had melted away. And he was so, like as I remembered him. It wasn't just that they'd play music, it was that he really knew if they put in the work some miracle would happen someday. It was so infectious, his enthusiasm, and I thought, there's a film." The relationship between director and subject is not a typical one. It's apparent on screen the love the band feels for the director as we become more and more intimate with their story.

Many critics are calling this a real-life version of This Is Spinal Tap. It gives you more than those cartoon characters in Spinal Tap. The film will make you laugh and cry as you watch these guys press on, through insult and indignity, to the next gig.


It might be unhealthy

Breakfast Cake

Two layers of egg, sausage, bacon, cheese quiche with country gravy in between, topped with gravy icing garnished with bacon bits.

One Hit Wonder

A-ha - Take On Me (1985)

Opening Day snow

It snowed today on Opening Day but it hardly mattered since the Jays play in a dome. Of course they didn't always. Who can forget Opening Day in 1977 when the Blue Jays (or should I say Snow Jays) played their first game in Toronto. It snowed that day too and was cold as hell down by Exhibition Stadium. Although the game should have been canceled, there was no way they were going to let that happen.

Exhibition Stadium was built for football in 1958 and modified for Blue Jays baseball. It could hold 43,737 baseball fans. The stadium had several drawbacks: the only covered section was over the left-field general admission seats (ironically, the cheapest in the park); the open end of the field faced windy Lake Ontario and the metal seats were particularly uncomfortable in cold weather. I did go out for games in April and man it was cold.

Anne Murray, dressed in a red parka, sang a rather hurried version of O Canada before the first pitch. The Blue Jays won the game, outscoring the Chicago White Sox 9-5. Jays first baseman Doug Ault became an instant hero by hitting two home runs and 4 RBIs. Bill Singer started the game but Jerry Johnson got the win in relief. Pete Vuckovich got the save.

The Blue Jays' record in their first year was 54 wins and 107 losses. The Jays finished last in the American League East.

Not a good start for the $161 million pitcher

C.C. Sabathia flops in his debut for the Yankees, who lose 10-5 at Baltimore on Monday.

He has seven years to make good on his record-breaking contract, but C.C. bombed in his Yankees debut. Sabathia was torched for six runs in 4-1/3 innings.

Sabathia struggled with his fastball command all day, giving up eight hits while walking an eye-opening five batters. The southpaw failed to record a strikeout for just the fifth time in his career.

Meanwhile the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, earned a win in his franchise-record seventh consecutive Opening Day start.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The continuing saga of the Wasilla Hillbillies

Levi Johnston's interview on The Tyra Banks Show aired today. The teenager and Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol Palin are the parents of a three month old son, Tripp Johnston (no child has a normal name in this family).

The young couple called off their engagement recently and Levi has been sharing his story on network television, much to the displeasure of Bristol and her family.

The interview, taped last week, included Levi’s mother Sherry Johnston (who was busted for drugs) and his sister Mercedes. The three family members said that the relationship has broken down between Bristol and Levi to the point where the Palin’s are keeping the child away from the Johnston’s. Levi said that some conversations with his ex-girlfriend are better than others, but that mostly she is in a bad mood when they speak. The Johnston’s greatest source of displeasure seems to be the fact that they can’t take Tripp out of the Palin home.

Festival of the Steel Phallus is NSFW

Yesterday was the Kenmare Matsuri in Japan (Festival of the Steel Phallus). Now I've heard of some bizarre holidays but this one takes the cake.

It all takes place around a phallic shrine, which was built for a local legend in which a demon hid inside a girl, forcing her to castrate two men on their wedding nights, and then a blacksmith made an iron phallus that was used to break the demon's teeth. Of course. The shrine was also a popular place for prostitutes to pray, protecting themselves against sexually transmitted disease.

These days the Kanamara Matsuri is mostly about raising money for HIV and AIDS research, and dick-shaped treats. A big pink ding-a-ling
is carried through the streets by transvestites, there are doodle shaped lollies, and even veggies are carved to represent the almighty penis.

Sneezing panda

I guess you could say this was a snake on a plane

Sarah Hannon, 35, is said to have woken from a nine-hour flight onboard Kingfisher Airlines to from the Indian city of Bangalore to find Daniel Melia had turned his attention to another woman, 29-year-old Clare Irby.

Ms Hannon, a magazine covergirl, fell asleep after drinking with Mr Melia, 35, before and during the flight. However she was awoken when a flight attendant was called by other passengers to reprimand Mr Melia over his behaviour. She then began screaming.

Mr Melia and Ms Irby were arrested for alleged gross indecency while Sarah was held for being drunk on an aircraft. All three were released on bail.


Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) is 62 today

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Are you looking forward to the Blue Jay opener?

Opening Day is just about here and barring a miracle, the Blue Jays won't be competitive in 2009. In fact they might be awful. But let's not totally blame embattled general manager J.P. Ricciardi. Instead, let's acknowledge that much of the team's plight is still largely down to bad luck. They're in the unfortunate position of sharing a division with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, whose off-season arms races are beginning to sap the enjoyment out of being a baseball fan in general and a Blue Jays fan in particular. The Yankees sign A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, the Blue Jays sign Matt Clement; the Yankees sign Mark Texeira, the Blue Jays sign Kevin Millar, and so forth.

Though the sudden rise of the Tampa Bay Rays suggests money doesn't necessarily equate with success—but the Rays were bad for so long it was really only a matter of time until all those draft pics blossomed into a competitive unit. The problem for Jays fans is that they may not have been terrible for a long period of time but they sure have been mediocre. Which is just as bad.

One can only hope that this season is going to be a building block towards a brighter future. Though we have gone through 15 years of rebuilding and retooling to no avail. But this year we have no choice. The team's pitching staff has been decimated; Dustin McGowan's health seems to be a question mark, while Shaun Marcum will not pitch again until 2010. At least Ricciardi didn’t waste money on any stop-gap measures (David Eckstein, Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas) and instead will stick with what he’s got. That strategy will give the team’s youngsters an opportunity to prove themselves (Travis Snider has a shot at AL Rookie of the Year). I know that's becoming a tired cliche here in Toronto—but if the Blue Jays aren't going to be competitive this year, why not give the younger players a chance?

Well after the disappointing Maple Leaf and Raptor season, why not throw in a depressing Blue Jay season and call us the City of Chumps.

The continuing saga of the Wasilla Hillbillies

Todd Palin’s half-sister was arrested Thursday after police say she broke into a Wasilla home for the second time this week to steal money.

Tood Palin youi may recall is the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin.

Diana Palin, 35, entered a home near Wasilla’s Multi-Use Sports Complex and attempted to steal cash from the owner’s bedroom, police said.

She also broke into the same house on Tuesday and stole $400, they said.

She was arrested Thursday morning on felony charges of first-degree burglary and misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and theft, police said. Friday morning, she remained jailed at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer in lieu of $10,000 bail and court-approved third party custodian.

Jewish religious fundamentalists are just like all other fundamentalists

As a liberal Jew I am embarrassed by reports that Israeli newspapers aimed at ultra-Orthodox Jewish readers photoshopped the inaugural photograph of the Israeli Cabinet - by erasing the two female ministers Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver.

Ultra-Orthodox newspapers consider it immodest to print images of women. Well, Canadians are fighting religious extremists in Afghanistan over the same type of thinking.

One newspaper digitally changed the photo, moving two male ministers into the places formerly occupied by the women. The other paper simply blacked the women out, in a photo reprinted Friday by the mainstream daily Maariv.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the government has responded to news reports showing video images of the public flogging of a woman in the Swat Valley in January that have recently come to light. You get the picture.