The Humanoids: Back to School

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back off for another 10 months of having their heads crammed with stuff that they’ll quickly forget over the intervening two months before the next school year. That is unless you’re at college or university. Then you’re learning stuff that is generally useful to you. Actually, at least around my neck of the woods, the kids aren’t in school today. Teachers are already burning a day off today because school had to start early because Labour Day was later this year. Universities and colleges don’t need to start the year earlier to get in all the teaching they need. I’m sure elementary school and high school teachers would protest my insinuation that they are wasting their and the kids’ time by starting school early. They’re wrong, though. The whole first week of school is a waste anyway. Why not start the Tuesday after Labour Day and actually get down to business right away? And don’t get me started about the waste that is the month of June. Anyway, the subjects of today’s series of skewerings need to go back to school or have to their associates back to school. It’s an amazingly eclectic lineup that I’ve got today. Something for the whole family here.

This week’s radio show news is good news. Jackie and I are taping the season premiere on Saturday. Our new boss at CHRW wanted to hear the show early. The news will be a little dated but we’ll manage somehow. We’re still waiting to hear back from Activision and Harmonix about getting games to review but no dice so far. I was hoping to make GH5 and The Beatles: Rock Band the centrepieces of a music special but those dreams are disappearing quickly. By the way, have you checked out the new car wall index we put up on the blog?

The Government of Ontario
dalton-mcguintyLet’s review some of the fun they’ve had over the last little bit. There was that whole deal with the City of Toronto strike that the Ontario government wouldn’t end with back to work legislation to force them to end the strike. They’re planning on introducing a harmonized sales tax when the provincial legislature resumes in the fall that will drive up the cost of living in Ontario. The CEO of eHealth was tossed to the curb because her crown corporation was awarding contracts without competitive bidding and there were massive spending abuses. Now, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is back in the midst of scandal because of excessive spending on travel and entertainment. This means that the McGuinty government will be bringing in a new board of directors and team of executives for the second time during their tenure. I don’t know how they survived the first OLG scandal but I think they’ll survive this one too. They have a majority government so they aren’t about to lose a confidence vote. The fixed election dates mean that the Liberals have about 25 months to let all the anger die down and pick up another election win. If I ever got into politics, I thought the Liberals might have been for me but, at the provincial level, I’m not so sure any more.

Phoenix Coyotes
phoenix-coyotesIf Jim Balsillie is in the news, it can’t be a good thing. Either he’s trying to make an end-run around the Ontario Securities Commission’s rules about stock options or he’s trying to make an end-run around the NHL’s rules about purchasing a team. He’s back in a Phoenix court to make his case that the NHL can’t deny him an opportunity to bid on the Coyotes franchise because he is poor of character. Basically, he wants a judge to say that a professional sports league can’t make its own rules governing the ownership and transfer of ownership of franchises. I hope other pro sports leagues are watching this because they could see any control they have tossed out the window with one slam of the gavel. The thing I’ve come to realize over the last couple of days is that Balsillie is probably the best man to own the Coyotes franchise now. The fans in Phoenix have been dragged through so much over the summer, with the fate of their franchise hanging in the balance, that they’ve probably given up on them. Not that there ever was much of one, but I think it’s safe to declare the hockey market in Phoenix officially dead. At this point, the NHL should cut its losses on the desert hockey experiment and let Balsillie give it a try. It can’t get any worse for this franchise than this summer has been.

Bob Barker
bob-barkerOn Monday night, there will be a massive crowd on hand for the return of Bob Barker to primetime television. I can hear it now: “Come on down! You’re the next contestant on MONDAY NIGHT RAW!” Yes, I know technically that’s Johnny Olson/Rod Roddy/Rich Fields’ line but you get my point. Bob Barker, who is 85-years-young, will be the next special guest host of WWE’s Monday Night Raw. Now, I love Bob Barker but he’s 85-years-old. There’s no guarantee that he’s going to be healthy enough to make it Raw on Monday let alone be a good host. Maybe that’s why I stumbled across this earlier in the week as opposed to having seen it everywhere. If the best and most popular game show host in the history of the world was appearing on your show, I would promote the hell out of it. I’m guessing Bob told them he wasn’t planning on doing a lot of stuff on Monday and the WWE doesn’t want to disappoint fans expecting The Price is Right (not that disappointing fans has ever been a concern of the WWE). He wouldn’t exactly be out of place in the ring. He was trained in karate by Chuck Norris but I don’t think Vince would let Bob kick his champion’s ass. That being said, I would be very surprised if someone in the audience didn’t have a chance to win… A NEW CAR! I also expect to hear the divas referred to as “Barker’s Beauties” and hear someone say “The price is wrong, bitch!”

Ana Ivanovic
ana-ivanovic-fhm08-7Since Jackie and I declared her one of the saviours of women’s tennis (along with Maria Sharapova) in January 2008, Ana has won exactly two tournaments. Her finals appearance at the Australian Open against Maria Sharapova was enough for Jackie and I to taken notice and talk about women’s tennis on the radio show for the first time. We said that if they were to meet in each grand slam final for the rest of the year, interest in women’s tennis (especially among men) would skyrocket. I can’t say much about Sharapova being off top form because she underwent shoulder surgery. Ivanovic has been healthy but it seems since she rose to superstar status, she hasn’t lived up to the hype. Our saviour of women’s tennis was just knocked out of the first round of the US Open. She hasn’t made it past the 4th Round of a major since she won the 2008 French Open. Her only tour win since that French Open was a Tier 2 event in Austria and she has made only one finals appearance in 2009. Do I really have to give more evidence of her crash and burn? There’s no where but up from here for her. Unless she blames an injury. The injury excuse absolves her of all… And gives her time to do FHM again.

Football
footballPigskins are in the air and that means it’s time for college football. And it’s also time for Canadian university football. The one thing I’ve struggled to understand is how football played on an American campus is more popular in Canada than football played on a Canadian campus. It’s not just a general public thing. Even students care less about the teams at their own school than Notre Dame, USC, Michigan, etc. It can’t be the quality of play that makes the American game seem better. Sure, the best players are all recruited to the top American schools. However, the Canadian game is faster, more wide-open, and you see a hell of a lot more offense. The Canadian game is the more exciting one week in and week out. Maybe it is the Canadian rules that are part of the problem. The exposure of the American game is so high in Canada that people just don’t know what’s happening with all the forward motion, three down ball, rouges, and giant fields. There just doesn’t seem to be an effort to educate people about the nuances of the Canadian game (though I tried when I was broadcasting) so they go to the American game where it’s easier to find people/articles to teach you. Oh, yeah. And those pro guys start the season next week, too.

Chelsea FC
chelsea-fcThere’s more than just the fact that I’m a Manchester United fan for why I’m happy that Chelsea was banned from signing players for the next two transfer periods. For those that ignore soccer stories, this is one of the more intriguing ones of recent memory. Chelsea was found guilty of convincing a French teenager to breach his contract and sign with Chelsea back in 2007. Justice was a long-time in coming but it sure was severe. Basically, Chelsea won’t be able to sign any new players, from English clubs or international clubs, until January 2011. I would assume that also means that they can’t sign players on free transfer (the European equivalent to free agency), either. But like I said, I don’t like this because I’m a United fan. I like this because it shows a sports governing body showing some teeth over tampering. Tampering is when a team or an agent of the team tries to influence a player to sign with the team while that player is under contract with another team. Do you think any deals could get done on the first day of a free agency period without some tampering? We all know it happens but leagues won’t do anything about it. I don’t know what would be a fair punishment in the world of North American sports but maybe just enforcing tampering rules would be a good start.

Lime Beer
red-baron-lime-bud-light-limeLet’s get something straight off the top: I like beer. Be it an ale, a stout, a lager, a wheat beer, a pilsner, I like it. I don’t like light beers which are often cheap imitations that don’t much taste like real beer. And cheap imitations brings me to lime beers. I’ve never had one but I would imagine that they wouldn’t be as popular as they are if they didn’t taste like lime rather than beer. And if you do some digging, you’ll find out that The Globe & Mail’s Stephen Beaumont thinks the most popular lime beer, Bud Light Lime, tastes like lime soda. Maybe that’s why the Financial Post wrote that it’s one of the top-selling beers of the summer. Of course, Bud Light has one weapon in its arsenal to keep lime beer supremacy. They’re suing Brick Brewing who are making Red Baron Lime because both use clear bottles with green as a label colour. Beaumont says that’s where the similarities end because Red Baron tastes like beer with a lime squirted in it. Of course, this isn’t the first time InBev (Bud’s owner) and Brick Brewing have clashed over labels. This summer, they sued Brick because Red Baron and Brava looked similar in that they were in clear bottles with white, red, and black labels. Seems to me that InBev can’t take the heat of competition. So what will Moosehead do now that it’s selling Moosehead Light Lime? I hope they’ve set some money aside for legal fees. I also hope that they haven’t underestimated their customers tastes by making a lime beer. Come on, people. Either drink proper beer or drink coolers and stop embarrassing the beer drinking population.

Erin Andrews
erin-andrewsDon’t stop me if you’ve heard this before but why is she doing Oprah now? The video of her nude in her hotel room has long since fallen to the far reaches of the back of everybody’s mind. Now she’s going to bring that up at the start of college football season so it will be fresh in the minds of all the drunken frat boys going to games. Of course, this whole thing would have never happened if her lawyers didn’t issue a very public statement confirming that it was her, then it could have been any one of a million attractive blondes in that video. Now that I think about it, she doesn’t pay her handlers for the advice she’s getting, is she? It’s not that I don’t feel bad that she’s had to go through all this but I have to wonder how much of this her handlers or ESPN wanted her to go through. Doing the interview now makes any games she does for the next few months must-see television for the Oprah crowd looking to see how she copes with the attention thrust upon her by the aforementioned drunken frat boys. Maybe ESPN is pulling the strings for ratings. I seem to recall that as a conspiracy theory when the story first broke.

Star Trek
stare-trek-tos-crewWhat was it that I said about having an eclectic bunch? The reason I mention Star Trek is that the sci-fi channel in Canada (imaginatively called Space) is running an original series marathon on Monday to celebrate getting the remastered, high definition episodes to broadcast. The movies are playing on the weekend (sadly, including The Final Frontier and Nemesis). The top ten Star Trek episodes are being marathoned on Monday along with the unaired pilot, The Cage. Obviously, any Top 10 marathon of Star Trek must include The Trouble with Tribbles, Mirror, Mirror, and The City on the Edge of Forever. The Menagerie was a good two-part episode but you don’t need to show it when it’s two parts and you’re showing the original version at the end of the marathon. For those of you who are worried that doing the digital remastering of Star Trek will turn out the same way as the original Star Wars trilogy, worry no longer. I’ve seen some episode broadcast in the States and can tell you that new special effects don’t take away from the show. It’s just some updated ship and planet models with the occasional new phaser blast or transporter effect. Nothing that ruins the experience like Greedo shooting first or the Sarlacc having a beak.

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