A Spiritual Mismatch

Madonna is really sticking to this Kabbalah binge isn't she? Hey, maybe a leopard can change its spots after all. Who are we to say? Still, it's too rich of an oxymoron to miss.

If only she discovered it earlier we would have been spared some of her more exaggerated indiscretions. Maybe even her music would have been worth a whole lot more. 'Like a Virgin' would have probably been called 'Like a Spiritualist.' File this under the woulda, coulda, shoulda of history.

The Kabbalah's influence is immeasurable and difficult to quantify. It cuts right through to the very core of what we strive to be as a species.

There's a point of contradiction it seems. Madonna's career ran against all what the Kabbalah teaches. Madonna's life and times as a star was one for the chattering classes. Gossip magazines, tabloids and entertainment shows all wanted to know who she slept with and what decadent sexual act she would dreamed up next. That's what, for me anyway, her gift was to society. She fed off the immediate self-gratification we yearned for like a cheap parasite.

She gladly fed the beasts' belly. That was her choice. Now she has decided to get in touch with her spiritual side. It's as if she suddenly awoke one morning and said, "Ok, I made my bucks now let's develop my spiritual side." The question is shouldn't we all be taught at an early age to do so? Where have we gone wrong that we treat our inner soul like a light switch?

Forgive me if I see something unholy - or at the very least hypocritical - in her new found love for the Kabbalah. She went from 0 to 60 in seconds flat. Sex to the Kabbalah. Nothing in between. Has she grown? I'm not normally a cynic but it stinks of just another celebrity type who remains unfulfilled. Some run to Scientology and others find other forms of spirituality. They all seem to do it for the wrong reasons.

One night flipping through channels I stumbled upon one of her films. I think it was 'Truth or Dare.' I watched the scene where Kevin Costner went backstage and told her that the show she had just performed was 'neat.' Madonna's response was to gag. It seems she did not like the word 'neat.' It said a lot about her. Yup, the Kabbalah was screaming for her.

I changed the channel.


Death of the University

Students at the University of Waterloo, Ontario celebrated the Tamil Tigers on the campus yesterday.

It seems more and more people who hold terrorist sympathies are becoming bolder in expressing this fact on University grounds. We have seen since 9/11 many incidences of this nature from coast to coast. We have also witnessed Professors being suspended, their seminars canceled or forced to resign under the onslaught of radicalism taking root in various institutions of higher education across the continent.

It is time for us to take a stand. They must not be allowed to turn our schools into a breeding ground for intolerance under the guise of empty freedom of speech.

In essence, what I am advocating is that we call out these people for what they are: a scourge of modernity. We have to decide once and for all if we should as a civilized society tolerate these anti-intellectual bandits.

If not, watch the University whither and perish.

Coaching kids, teaching parents

A few years ago I coached soccer for a summer. The local soccer association I joined started me in House League - where winning doesn't matter. It was the bottom of the pile.

I consider myself to be a healthy balance between being competitive and understanding the overall concept of gamesmanship. It was at first difficult to train and practice without the intent of winning. It's all I knew. That didn’t mean I couldn’t teach the kids the merits of competitive spirit.

No sooner did I hit the park, equipped with a set of balls, parents came up to me and asked if I could teach their kids the basics of the sport. They didn't want their kids to be short changed - again. Indeed, if these kids were to learn to play with heart and pride they deserved to at least be taught the basics of the game. Many had no clue what soccer was all about. I was determined to accept the challenge and change that.

It didn’t take long before I realized I had inherited Bad News Bears. In time, they began to have fun learning the fundamental skills that make soccer a beautiful game. I discovered that some of my players could outright play and others were willing to practice to improve their skills. Still, others were oblivious to the point of sheer hilarity. One kid was more interested with the ragweed on the ground than playing defence.

As it turned out, we did not have a great season but many parents thanked me. It seemed their kids had fun playing soccer again.

The season wasn't perfect. I did encounter what has become all too familiar with parents in contemporary times - the species of the aggressive parent. We all know the type. The one that complains about their kid not getting enough playing time or spews expletive name-calling words to children from the sidelines. The jerk that never played organized sports and has no clue what it means to play team sports. Some of these parents were and are downright ugly in their behaviour.

They existed when I played and they littered the stands while I coaches. Nice legacy to leave behind, eh?

One day during practice a parent stood behind his child and told him to speak with me. The kid had his head down - almost in shame - and proceeded to tell me that a couple of parents had been harassing him during the games for not being a "good" defensive player. I was stunned. This was house league!

I've always played soccer at a high level and never did encounter this sort of stuff. It was new to me.

Here was a kid that was not a star athlete and he was feeling the sting of over bearing and thoughtless parents. He was crying. I was livid. I gathered all the parents and scolded them to the best of my professional abilities - as best a 23 year old kid living at home with no kids of his own could do. I also banned parents from going behind the nets during a match. I reprimanded those who logged playing time. My mandate was to play everyone and teach them the skills of the game.

I was, in other words, instructing them on how to live with civility.

I played that kid the next game. I encouraged him. He wasn't any good but that wasn't the point. In fact, I saw an improvement in the game of many of my players.

During the trophy presentation at end of the season, some of the parents found out I wasn't coming back and expressed disappointed. As one parent told me in French, "My kid learned so much from you. He actually loved coming to practice."

My intent was to eventually work my way up to inter-city play. Seeing that kid cry under the pressure of mean spirited parents changed my mind. I wasn't interested in being a part of it.

The essence of sports has been lost on some parents. They have forgotten their moral responsibility to teach their kids life skills through sports. They are intoxicated by the notion of making the "big leagues." Worse, they are governed by the notion of Darwinian survival of the fittest for its own sake.

Some indeed live vicariously through their children. They are so smothered by the intensity of their myopic goals that it has sometimes proven fatal for coaches and referees.

Moreover, their thoughtless actions can leave an everlasting impression on a child. They may be in the minority but these parents have no place in the culture of sports.

Many times, the kids are the ones assuming the role of adults. I've seen it. Too bad parents, in their personal delusions, fail to listen.


Sweeping Dust Under the Rug: Iraq

The American government is trying hard to run against the rising tide of disaffection among its people and critics. They are trying their best to not 'cut and run' from Iraq. This is the right thing to do. Never mind the reasoning that got them there. What's done is done.

America and its people must find the resolve within to not abandon Iraq. If they do the ramifications can prove more costly than actually occupying Iraq until it is ready to stand on its own.

It is here the analogy to Vietnam is appropriate. It was the aftermath of an American withdrawal that was perceived as a dishonorable one by its enemies. This image and belief - albeit misguided - has perpetuated the persistent myth of America as paper tiger. The Arab world is no different as their own perception of what power differs from the one that marks the West. While to our sensibilities 'cutting one's losses' is considered not only to be smart but a moral one, it's not the case among Arabs. With this in mind, America must consider that part of the equation as well.

There is such a thing as leaving a foreign land properly. That some people have suggested America to leave by setting a deadline is a recipe for failure.

History lesson not learned. We'll see.

A Return to the Future by Learning from the Past

"Why don't you ever let me tear up the room like that?" I asked my wife during a scene in 'Citizen Kane.' That was one of the lighter sides of my pondering what is widely regarded as the greatest film of all-time.

It was my second viewing of the film and this time around I could not stop but repeat "they wouldn't have the audacity to write like this anymore." Would it be profitable? Would it feed the instant minds of the masses? Just the pace and symbolism alone would annoy patrons of today.

Once long ago, it seems as though high quality and profitability were as close as they could come to cooperating. What made it to the screens or on vinyl was the best artists had to offer. There was no room for mediocrity.

The best analogy I can come up with is one my grandfather always posited. He stands by the fact that prior to expansion in the NHL there were six teams and therefore no room for weak players. The thinking goes those since there are 30 teams most players are mere fillers for rosters. The problem with this line of thinking is that there is far more talent today; especially with the influx of European players.

Nonetheless, it is a compelling one. Same with baseball. Going deep in the game was once the norm for a pitcher. With expansion, came a scientific approach to the point that it is often argued that the 4th and 5th and sometimes even the 3rd man in the rotation would never have survived during more glorious epochs.

Are we seeing this in the arts? Are there too many mediocre people stealing the spotlight? Does the 'Oprah Machine' only contribute to this mess? Why does Hollywood have the image of selling a product rather than art? Just because we don't see films of Kane's caliber does not mean they are not being done. Maybe the big monsters do not want to distribute them. Is the talent pool bigger? It probably is but we are probably not encouraging it to develop. A vast empire of budding geniuses lay beneath the ground living like worms rather than kings.

In other words, the conditions that which accept a great piece of artistic work are all but gone. What is needed is a Renaissance!

Today we want great scripts and great movies but not necessarily together. We have forgotten to bring the two together. In music, the concept of the album has made somewhat of a comeback but it remains a shadow of its former self. One or two songs are enough to sell millions thanks to the media and marketing - if you're lucky enough to know someone. Aesthetically superficial fabrications are what captivates us.

Which leads to another question. Who and what determines demand? If we make it will they come?

In a similar vein, is opinion more valued than knowledge today? What I see on today is a lot of opinion being passed off as knowledge. An even stranger kind of opinion is the expert how-to kind that is based and rooted in obvious inferences. Have we sunk so low that we don't even notice being fleeced? What's next? How to use toilet paper?

Same with the relationship between perception and knowledge - an ancient debate to be sure. Too often we confuse the two without first separating and then empirically studying facts so as to attempt to bridge both. In today's fast-paced consumer society, advertisement does not have the time to find out. Are we in a Dark Age?

Let me stretch this out some more. Should managers, or people in positions of influence and decision making, be required to be people of knowledge? By this, I do not mean product knowledge. Here, I define knowledge in very simplistic terms. Since we have delegated and segregated so much of our economy it is only fair to start in increments. The important thing is that we condition the bosses of the future to at least strive to be Renaissance men. The lack of curiosity is appalling among such individuals. Nor do I speak of the ones who cling to something of value without fully comprehending its inherent worth.

In other words, if you are a banker should banks not teach their workers the history of the bank? Too often, there are people in high position that are woefully inadequate to stimulate meaningful conversation.

This is why movies like 'Office Space' are cult classics. In the 'PC Load Letter' era, it asks that we question if not rebel against the present corporate structure as presently configured. 'Is this good for the company?' should be replaced with 'are we asking the right questions so as to improve both the worker and company? By extension, our families and communities.' One of the more intriguing parts of that film is when three workers steal the office fax/printer machine and smash it to bits. It was a Luddite catharsis moment that revealed a lot about the modern workplace.

Who has the time for this? Read a book? Objectives must be met! We must plan to plan! No room for ideas, buddy. Did you get that memo about the TPS report?

Citizen Kane succeeded because it was made during a period whereby the conditions were ripe to accept it. I can just picture people leaving for Harlem to catch Count Basie after a night of watching Orson Welles. A night out meant fine threads, fine music and fine food.

Today? Everything is dumbed down in the name of cold comfort. Birdland is dead and nothing has replaced it.

And my wife still won't let me tear up the place.


The Dumbest Segment on Radio

Every once in a while you come across a radio show that tries too hard to be hip and indie cutting edge. Enter Team 990 in Montreal and one of its sports shows.

Every week they have something called 'American Idiot of the Week.' The thing that strikes me at most odd and at the very least hypocritical is that it's a Canadian show. Where do they come off? Where do they find the moxy? All in good fun? Bah. More like intellectual cultural vulturalism.

It seems to me a more inquisitive and honorable producing and creative mind would have suggested a 'Canadian Idiot' segment. Stick to what you know? After all, it's our own backyard. Or our we above this? Personally, I would have suggested a compromise since there are so many more Americans out there on a population basis. I would have opted for 'North American Idiot.' Either the brains and powers that be thought there were not enough dumb Canadians or none worth poking fun at - this is mathematically impossible.

Specifically, it does point to a reoccurring theme in Canadian culture: That of not attributing much importance or relevance to ourselves. We'd rather look to others in search of blemishes. It somehow, somewhere makes us feel better. "Damn Yankees...." It's better than heroin. In any event, imagine the uproar if we hosers found out that Americans were doing a segment called 'Canadian Idiots.' I don't think Gillette has invented a shaving cream that can help soothe our mega-ultra-sensitive skin.

Once again, Canadians piggy back off American culture. Only this time, it's in a distasteful manner.

Hard hitting wits? More like soft bunting twits. By far the dumbest segment on radio.

Yes, but....

The conjunction 'But' as in "I love you, but" must be considered a candidate for most vile word in the English vernacular. Look at it. Examine it. It's ugly as hell. Yet, many people can't live without it.

Grammatically, it starts sentences off, is the saviour to novice or disinterested writers and is often used to connect a run-on phrases. But it's - did I just use it? - in the way we use the word in contemporary times that makes it downright offensive.

'But' is the 'notwithstanding clause' or 'opt-out clause' of words. We use it to escape or dance around an issue. We reserve the right to make one eye-catching statement only to gun it down with a 'but.' "We want democracy but we want the veto and the but!"

We usually resort to it in contempt of some point we're trying to make. "Terrorists are crazy but we helped make them that way...*", "My wife is a great cook but my mother is far better", "I'm unemployed but it's the government's fault." "Canada is a great country but...(you fill in the blanks)", "America is a great country but..." But, but, but NOTHING.

Can it be the word mirrors a mirage? Is it in fact the tramp of all words? If we use it in excess what does that make us?

This blog could have been better but my authority on the English language is not up to standards.


Well Worth the Faint

A marvelous blue sky clashed poetically with my off-white linen attire. The sand never felt softer as it comfortably formed itself under the soles of my feet. Walking along the shore, I observed that the water was much calmer than it was the previous day. Cool and assertive, it therapeutically surrounded my ankles. Wind and air were the next elements. This time, it was the contours of my face that benefited. My feet, ankles and face were all being seduced by earth's finest elements. What could make this dream fresco perfect? Caravaggio painting the scene? I settled for the next best thing. A scantily dressed sensual lady showed herself as she jumped into my arms. I was set.

With one eye open I could see a thick blanket of frost had designed itself on the window of my bedroom. "Dreams can be so cruel," I thought aloud, as I clamored out of bed.

The second my foot hit the wood floor, my knee reminded me that it was indifferent to sultry dreams about a sexy girl, sand, water and air. It was damaged and no amount of natural voodoo hocus-pocus was about to fix them.

After many weeks of ignoring the truth, it had become glaringly apparent to me that it was time to go under the knife. Screw the naturopath who told me that it was unnatural to heal the body by cutting it open. All kooky, spooky crazy-talk. She did not have to live with a bad knee. Conventional medicine beckoned!

The day I left for the doctor, as I sat like a bump on a log in the examining room, my mind was occupied by the fact that I was being yanked out of regular school and sent to prep school. I wasn't a very reliable student. Just as I was about to pull out an apple from my pocket, the doctor walked in. He was tall, thin and red-haired.

He asked two questions and said, "That's an ACL tear."

"What's an ACL?" I meekly asked.

"You're anteriour cruciate ligament. You see, the ligaments that run…" I tuned out - maybe prep school was the right thing to do - as he began to rub his knuckles together to explain how the ACL functions.


"Let's check you out."

He took my leg and placed it between his arm and chest and began to push and bend the leg towards me.

"Feel that?"


"That's your ACL giving way,"

My decision to go ahead with the long and difficult process of repairing my knee was an unfortunate one. As the old adage reminds, once knees are opened up they are never the same again, or something like that.

Nonetheless, if I wanted any shot at an active life the knee had to be sliced open, stapled and stitched.

I tried every way to weasel my way out of it. I asked the specialist if it could be rehabilitated through physiotherapy.

That sound you hear is the exaggerated laugh of my doctor.

Once he regained his composure he said curtly, "No. Judging by my examination it's completely torn." That was that. More impressively, he accurately deduced - as it turned out - all this without the benefit of a MRI, which weren't used back then.

I was 18 years old and already washed up. A has-been before it ever began. So much for the big leagues. My talents were not to grace a soccer pitch for a long time - if ever.

A lot of stuff happened from the time the doctor confirmed I had a torn ACL until the surgery wearing those girly gowns - including eight other knee injuries.

I had a choice of a full anaesthetic or an epidural.

"What's the difference? I asked.

"Under a full anaesthetic you are asleep throughout the surgery. With an epidural we freeze from the waist down. You can witness the whole thing," the doctor explained. I decided to go for the epidural. Ring side seats to my own repair. All I was missing were some peanut M&M's.

"Ok, Alessandro. Here we go. It's the right knee," the doctor tells the nurse.

What? It was the left knee! Is he mad?

"Kidding," he said. I was not amused by his childish wink.

The anesthesiologist was young and talkative. Reading my chart he asked, "Nicolo? Do you have a sister?"

"I have two."

"What are their names?"

"Maria and Giovanna."

"Maria! She went to Laval Catholic High School right?"

"Yes. So did I."

"Wow. I knew her. She was going out with Joe, right?"

"Yeah. She married him. Not to sound like a smart ass but I'm about to lose a knee here and my ass is exposed."

"Ha, ha. You're sister was pretty funny, too. Ok, here's how this is going to work. I need you to curl up and place your head between your knees. Whatever you do, don't move. It can cause spinal damage. Ok?"

"Got it."

I cracked. I looked back. I saw the needle. It was as big as a lobster. I fainted.

"I told you not to look back."

"I know. Sorry."

A nurse came over and held my head down. I was now injected.

"Pretty soon you won't feel a thing."

"How will I know?"

"You won't feel your penis," my doctor interjected.

"Yeah right"

Within minutes he asks, "So, can you contract your penis?"

I tried. Boy did I try. I even burst some capillaries. My eyes turned purple I strained so hard. For some reason my fear entertained the nursing staff. I had no penis and they were laughing at me! What if I never regain feeling!

I began to wonder what life would be like without the use of my penis. Right then and there I secretly began to panic. Alternatively, I always dreamed of making love to a nurse on an operating table. Not today.

"Ok, Alessandro. You can watch the whole thing on the screen up above and to your right. Sit back and relax."

Relax, Alessandro. Story of my life. It's a lot easier said than done for some.

Just then he raised my leg. It didn't look like mine. It was orange and listless as he manipulated it however he saw fit. The iodine made it looked like road kill. I fainted.

"Are you going to be ok?"

"Yeah, no sweat. It's my first major surgery where I am awake. I'll be cool."

"Ok," the doctor said unconvincingly.

Lying back on my elbows I was sure the worse was over. So I fainted twice. Big deal. Until….

I swear there was blood everywhere. It sprouted out profusely. Like that scene in The Shining where Danny sees the twin girls. A flood of blood buckets. The nurse handed the doctor a tiny square shaped cloth to apply on the incision. I fainted.

I could overhear the doctor say, "Give him a sedative."

It was just what the doctor ordered. I never felt so composed in my life. I needed more of those pills for my high-strung genetic make-up. I don't remember much about the surgery but I do remember him pointing to the torn ligament. It looked like a torn kleenex.

Soon the doctor proclaimed, "That's it. We're done."

I was wheeled into a room. Half awake, I asked for a cheeseburger. I must have dozed off - or fainted - because I sure don't recall eating it.

A couple of weeks later I visited the doctor to check up on my wound. It was the first time the bandage was going to be removed. The knee felt extremely tight and my leg had been reduced to a mere twig-like limb. He began to remove the bandages. I felt woozy. Finally, he reached the knee. One look was all it took. I fainted.

My mother looked at me as she handed me a glass of water. "You're such a wuss."

It took months of rehab, but fixing the knee gave back my athletic life. I was active once again. Psychologically, I'll never be the same as I still vividly remember how I tore it the first time right through until the 9th time. There is no doubt that if one plans to lead an active life surgery is a necessity when it comes to the ACL.

When I tore my right knee16 years later it took me seconds to make my decision. On the operating table the anesthesiologist suggested an epidural which was the standard. I chuckled and instructed him to, "Knock me out." I wanted to get out there with some dignity. Besides, there was a student doctor present. I wasn't interested in hearing any "Oops."

I may have even dreamt of that sweet girl as I frolicked with her on the beach.

Needless to say, I didn't faint.


The CFL vs. the NFL

Once upon a time the Canadian dollar was on par with the U.S. greenback as recent as the early 1970s. In fact, for period between the early 1860s and late 1870s the Canuckollar was stronger.*

In football, the CFL was/is not quite on par with the NFL. Though not as bad as many thought - especially during the golden period between the 50s and 70s. What they lacked in talent they made up in creativity. Many innovations in the NFL in reality had their origins in the CFL such as the 'shotgun,' 'man in motion,' sprint-draw,' and one man in the backfield. Even the legendary West Coast offense made famous by the San Francisco 49ers may have had its roots with the Calgary Stampeders - but I can't prove this as I heard this somewhere.

Each time I look at the two leagues I can't help but conclude that they are a proxy for how the two countries operate. The NFL on this count is a much better managed league. The CFL's existence is an odd one. It still does not get - improving attendance notwithstanding - unwavering fan support. The other night I was watching the Saskatchewan Roughriders play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before 22 000 fans in Regina. 22 000? What better things do they have to do in Saskatchewan? Shouldn't that park always be full? Aren't the 'Riders the only game in town? And Saskatchewan is considered a hard core football town. You don't see that sort of thing in the NFL - except in Arizona.

I would not be surprised if many Canadians actually tune in to NFL games on Sunday's. That's why the CFL smarten up and decided to make Thursday and Friday the key match days - to avoid, in part, competing with the NFL marketing juggernaut.

Don't tell me there aren't any differences between the two countries!

It's too bad that the CFL remains an obscurity to some. To my mind, while the NFL does have the overall better quality, the CFL does possess specific advantages. From a purely entertainment perspective the CFL arguably offers the better - if not more kooky - product.

If the the respective championship game is of any value as an indicator, in the last 25 years most Super Bowls have been Yawn Bowls while many Grey Cups have been exciting showdowns.

Interestingly, there was a period where the two leagues did play against each other for bragging rights. The NFL won 6 of 7 matches. The lone CFL win came against the AFL. Using a special set of rules combining both rulebooks, here are the results of those games:

1950 - Ottawa - New York Giants 27 Ottawa Rough Riders 6.

1951 - Ottawa - NY Giants 41 Ottawa Rough Riders 18.

Despite the lopsided scores and confusion regarding the rules, the NYT described the games as thrilling and tighter than the scores indicated. I don't see how.

1959 - Toronto - Chicago Cardinals 55 Toronto Argonauts 26.

The Cardinals outweighed the Argos by an average of 20 pounds.

1960 - Toronto - Pittsburgh Steelers 43 Toronto Argos 16.

The Toronto Star questioned the reasoning for such matches. They called them mismatches as the Steelers and Cardinals were just too powerful. Humiliating was one of the words used.

1961 - Toronto - St.Louis Cardinals 36 Toronto Argos 7.

Former CFL star and Alouette Sam Etcheverry signed with the Cardinals that year.

1961 - Montreal - Chicago Bears 34 Montreal Alouettes 16.

Yards gain were 516 to 206 in favor of the physically superior Bears. Former Packers star and Alouettes head coach Perry Moss told the press that the Als would lose 50-0 or 80-0. He did say the game could be tighter. He was right. He was just happy to have his players exposed to the American brand of football. It didn't help any as the Als did not win the Grey Cup that year.

1961- Hamilton - Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38 Buffalo Bills 21

This was the last time the three leagues ever played against each other.

Overall attendance to the games were average. Between 12 000 and 27 000 fans showed up.

There you have it. A piece of North American football history.

*In 1864 it hit an all-time high of $2.78.

Images from mmbolding.com


Excesses of Freedom

Pierre Falardeau is a controversial nationalist film-maker and he's an example of all that is wrong with modern intellectualism in Quebec.

Without getting into details about the man himself - I really don't want to give him more attention than he deserves - let's just say that he thinks the the plight of the Quebecois is similar to those faced by the Palestinians. Many Quebecers disagree with him.

He's hilarious isn't he? Of course, there is no comparison to be made. Last I checked, Quebecers enjoy all the advantages and rights of other Canadians. Never mind that the Canadian government has never invaded the homes of Quebecers. Ironically, the only tolerated form of legal harrasment happens in Quebec via the L'Office de la Langue Française - Quebec's version of the Black and Brown shirts - without the violence but equipped with intimidation nonetheless. Let's call them Blue shirts.

Quebec pretty much runs its own show - as the sinking of Montreal can attest to - in one of the world's most decentralized Federations. So any complaints about having power concentrated in Ottawa rings hollow. In the minds of people like Falardeau, we are in theory 'oppressed' like the Palestinians. Quebec has power to determine what's good for them; the Palestinians do not.

Ah yes. The incessant theorizing of Quebec nationalists lamenting of a nation under the shackles of 'les anglais' has become tiresome and antiquated. Canadians fear American hegemony; Quebecers Canadian hegemony.

So it is no surprise then that Mr. Falardeau was seen carrying a Hezbollah flag during a pro-Lebanon rally - which quickly became an anti-Israeli rally. Duh. That it came from him should not surprise anybody. Perhaps he should go live in the Mid-East?

As a citizen, I have grown concerned at the boldness some Arabs have found in taking out the Hezbollah banner. Quebec leaders - not that Falardeau is one. He's not fit to lead anything - should know better.

The argument always inevitably turns and degrades into 'Well, why was Israel given the land of the Palestinians?' As if to justify malignant terrorists such as Hezbollah. This line of reasoning is an intellectual security blanket. Personally, I don't see the comfort in it. For it suggests there is a starting point and thus an explanation for why madness prevails in the region. However, the problem is much deeper than 1948.

Let us assume that it was a mistake to create Israel in 1948. For 60 years Arabs have gone on the offensive in trying to belittle and decimate a democracy. It has failed miserably.

At what point will people actually sit, think and conclude that Israel is here to stay? That to believe otherwise is perpetuate the cycle of destruction? In other words, learn to deal with the hand that has been dealt. The Arabs are not innocent in this. They too are authors of their own destruction.

To take part in rallies Quebec leaders help to symbolically ensure that Arabs keep pointing the mirror elsewhere. Much like they do themselves to had hideous realities within Quebec political and academic circles and laws.

Are Ottawa and Israel perfect entities? Of course they are not and they do have much to account for in some cases. When will we ask the other side of the equation - in this case Quebec and Arabs - do the same for a change? Do the grievances Quebec have against Canada justify their behaviour in this instance. Absolutely not. It's too wide of a discrepancy to stand next to Hezbollah.

When does freedom become offensive?

It becomes so when you see men of high rankings such as Andre Boisclair and Gilles Duceppe exercise their rights to be incredibly ignorant by attending political rallies that are of little concern to them. Quebec politics is good at justifying its backwardness. Their actions don't stem from being oppressed.

Rather, it is borne out of having too much freedom. Too much freedom in consistently conjuring mythical battles that no longer apply. It's decadent self-victimhood at its worse. It happens so frequently that they mock freedom. They are not democrats nor are they enlightened. They are- our business, political and academic classes - just tiny, little parochial colonial jackasses.

Ça c'est la verité.

The Battle of Teutoberg Revisited at Fenway

During the Age of Augustus in A.D. 9, three Roman legions under the Governor of Germania Varus were annihilated in the German forest of Teutoberg. 20 000 Romans, scattered and out of their familiar positions, were ambushed and wiped out. News of the defeat shocked Rome, an Empire at its apex, to the point of never recovering. Plans to conquer Germany were abandoned and the implications of this battle were to impact world history. There was to be no collision of the Romance and Germanic languages. The borders had been set separating Latin and Germanic civilizations.

Only once Rome had fallen for the last time in the 5th century did the two cultures collide to form new bloodlines.

On a modern sports equivalence, that's what the New York Yankees did in their stunning five game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Ok, the comparison to Roman history is a little much but you get the picture.

The Red Sox were never in it. Mentally and physically they were wiped out. They seemed to be as disorganized and frightened as the Roman legions must have been. Despite fighting in mud on an unfamiliar terrain, accounts of the battle describe the Romans as being valiant and putting up a fight. No such thing happened at Fenway. It was a massacre in its purest form.

It remains to be seen what affect this will have on the organization. The same thing happened in the late 70s when the Yanks swept the Sox in a four game series at a critical point in the season. Chances are the Sox will overcome this. It's just fun to draw historical analogies.

Does it have to be this humiliating for Sox fans? As if Bruins fans haven't had enough of being perennial bride maids to the Montreal Canadiens in hockey. It seems like Boston is a town that invites pain and agony.

Note: Boston won the World Series in 20o7. Too-tee-too...


Sports Illustrated remembers Steve Yzerman

Sports Illustrated came out with a special Steve Yzerman commemorative issue after he announced his retirement following a spectacular NHL career. The man Wayne Gretzky once called 'quiet and classy' rode off into the Detroit sunset and called it a career after 22 seasons.

Steve Yzerman finished his career with 692 goals (8th all-time), 1063 assists for 1755 points (in 1514 games) good for sixth all-time behind Gretzky, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe, Ron Francis and Marcel Dionne. He finished ahead of the legendary Mario Lemieux. Accumulated numbers are fine but I like to break down numbers. On a points per game basis Yzerman actually did better than Howe, Francis and Messier. He finished with 1.16 PPG. However, his career did not come close to matching Howe's.

Yzerman accomplished much during his career. He won three Stanley Cups; he won a gold medal for Team Canada at the Olympics as well as at the World Championships and Canada/World Cup. Once a prolific goal scorer with gifted hands and nifty moves, Yzerman's game became better rounded in the twilight of his career.

For me, the Yzerman I remember was the #19 of the1980s where he played in the shadows of 99 and 66. He and Denis Savard were two of the most entertaining players to watch. As a kid, they were some of my favorite players.

Despite all this I wondered why a special issue was committed to him. I don't recall one for Mario Lemieux but I digress and in any event I could be wrong. I could not bring myself to pay the $8.99 cdn to buy it - and I buy almost anything. Why? Yzerman wasn't the most dominating player of his generation. He never won an Art Ross (though he's won a Conn Smythe) and his all-star selections simply do not measure up against the all-time greats.

Many will counter and say Stevie Y was more than just about stats I agree. In the modern era, Yzerman was indeed a rare bird. He was the longest standing captain of any pro team and spent his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings. He was instrumental in resurrecting a once proud franchise (once known as the Dead Things) from the bottom of the pits into an elite powerhouse. Hockeytown was back thanks to Steve Yzerman.

But many players meant so much to so many. When you single out players on subjective levels it lends itself to selectivism (my word). When Mark Messier retired, for example, the consensus was that he was not only the greatest captain in NHL history but among the greatest in North American pro-sports. This was more romanticism than fact. There is no doubt Messier is among the greatest leaders ever but he was not the backbone of the Edmonton Oilers dynasty. Wayne Gretzky was. People forget (conveniently) but it was #99 who made all those already talented players into Hall of Famers. There is no debate about this.

I'll put it you this way in debating whether he deserved an issue. Let's take who I regard as a comparable player in Joe Sakic. Jumping Joe's totals are:

574 goals, 915 assists, 1489 points, 1237 games (17 seasons) - 1.2 PPG

Sakic's accomplishments mirror Yzerman's (Stanley Cups, Olympic gold, World Championships, World Cups, Conn Smythe). He too has never won the Art Ross though he came within three points in 2001. However, he has 3 first all-stars to Yzerman's one selection. And he's not done. Interestingly, Sakic too has had to endure some hard times early in his career with the Quebec Nordiques and was rewarded 2 cups with the Colorado Avalanche. Last, but by no means less important, Sakic may also end his career with one club. * One last similarity: he is widely regarded as a quiet and classy leader.

Steve Yzerman represents all what we look for in a star player. We see him as the quintessential North American athlete. He's a throwback to a simpler time. A golden age of sports where loyalty to a club governed many - even though it wasn't always a two-way street. There are no allegiances; just convenient arrangements. Mercenaries now rule the game. No wonder, we look at Yzerman and we see what athletes ought to be. How we yearn for our sports to be pristine and free of unbecoming behaviour. Hence, the special issue in his name.

Question: Will SI dedicate a special issue to Joe Sakic when he retires?

*The Nordiques moved to Colorado for the 1996 season.


Little Leagues; Little Minds?

Every once in a while we come across a story where sports and life become one and the same.

This was the case during a Little league game not so long ago. By now, some of you already know what happened but for those of you who do not here's an ever so brief description.

When a slugger for one team came up to the plate, the opposing coach decided to walk the kid. Fair enough. Intentional walks are part of the game and a strategic option available to a manager. The only problem in this case was that the batter who followed was feeble - because he had cancer. Naturally, he struck out. Game over.

SI's Rick Reilly felt compelled enough to write about this story and subsequently it became a national sensation. Did the coach do the right thing? Or were his actions over the line?

In his favor, the argument will go something like 'well, he is part of the game so therefore part of the strategy.' Can't argue with this explanation.

On the other hand these were 9-year old kids. I'm sure that kid who was walked wanted to a chance to slug the ball. If he is Major League material there'll be plenty of opportunities to be walked in the future. This didn't have to be, to me anyway, one of them on this day. There's a time and place for everything. It's a fine line between teaching kids on how to to strive for excellence while having the aptitude to know when to act with grace, respect and honor. Then again, I happen to be one of those guys who would send an underdog to take a last kick in a soccer shoot-out. The message is bigger than the sport.

To submit the coach missed the point may very well be valid. He may go through life just fine and perhaps go on to claim he was a winner at every level should he find a career in coaching.

Maybe. But he's already failed miserably on what makes us all inherently decent. Taking the side of humility could have been one of the greatest gifts he could given every single kid that day. His legacy would have been set and rightfully so. Alas, he had his reasons and priorities set.

Strike three! You're out. Game over.


Inorganic Television Observances

-Why do journalists/anchorpeople/reporters always say 'thanks for this' whenever a colleague does their job? Politeness in journalism is an oxymoron.

-Reality TV is decadent in its unrealism.

-The organic badge of honour means compromised taste and inflation.

-Vain celebrity cosmetic surgery is the crooked pathway to that persons untrue self.

-I must stop this shit.


Mount Everest is Man's Mental Achilles Heel

The world is filled with egomaniacs. History's pages are littered with figures endowed with abnormally inflated minds. It did take, for example, a certain personality to have the audacity to explore centuries ago. A sense of adventure is what brought us to this point. Particularly during the Renaissance when the philosophy of Humanism exalted man into a new sense of self-worth. From that point it was a domino effect of events and movements; Scientific Revolution, Reformation, Industrial Revolution etc.

But sometimes letting the ego drive the rational mind leads people to fool themselves. The Age of Exploration had clear ramifications for human history. What does the need to climb Mount Everest do exactly except satisfy a personal selfish craving? Is there any benefit to mankind? Is there something up there that can solve our problems or find a cure for a disease?

What about a team of scientists who go into the Arctic? I don't mind when scientists take daring expeditions in search of proving a theory. It's in the interest of humanity - even though it too is sometimes motivated by the ego.

Arrogance can lead to some good even though it rubs people the wrong way. Sometimes, however, arrogance and self-indulgence for its own sake can lead to death.

It's a few documentaries I watch and articles I read* about people who undertake the dangerous journey into Everest. To prove they exist no doubt. To stare death in the face and spit upon it! Many good people have lost their lives along the way. Stubborn fools who should have known better made many miscalculations that had dire consequences. I fail to see the point of such an adventure.

To me, it's as pointless as those people who wanted to act as human shields during the initial stages of the Iraq war. They were prepared to abandon their responsibilty to their society and family in order to make a point. A rather elusive and selfish one at that. It was a sickening and reckless display of post-modernism gone awry.

It also reminds me of adventurers who would take on Niagara Falls by placing themselves in a barrel and subsequently thrown over as they attempted to escape the jaws of death. Thankfully, officials put an end to that stupidity as the death toll mounted and rank amateurs began to emerge thinking they could succeed.

They should do the same with Mount Everest. Leave it to real experts and Sherpas. One shouldn't be allowed to profit from such a dangerous adventure. I know it sounds like interventionism or communism but convince me otherwise.

*Jon Krakauer's 'Into Thin Air' is one of the greatest articles I have ever read. It poignantly tells of his experience climbing Everest. It was gripping drama to read.

Canada's Walk of Fame Continues to Baffle

Canada's 'Walk of Fame' is slowly becoming diluted - like the Hockey Hall of Fame. Too many people are getting in and one in particular continues to stand on the periphery of its cemented grounds. How Andy Kim continues to be shunned is beyond me. Especially considering Brendan Fraser and few others were recently inducted.

It's like letting Clark Gilles in but not Dino Ciccarelli. It makes no sense.

You will never convince me that Brendan fricken Fraser has done more for Canadian arts and entertainment than Andy fricken Kim. Just on the force of 'Sugar, Sugar' alone Kim beats Fraser by a mile. But it's not about beating anyone. Fraser has done well, but he should not have been honoured before Andy Kim.

Note to CWOF: Get it right once and for all. Until then, the walk is just another sidewalk to me.


In the Boredroom of My Mind

"So when you break down the broken numbers and express them in percentages in the prospectus you get a lot of numbers."

11:02am. I hope he doesn't go on and on and on....and on.

"When you examine them it really works out to 12% for income from attrition..."

Attrition? World War I Trench warfare? That couldn't have been pretty. Dig your own grave.

"Discretionary payments add up to 33.34%..."

My discretion is to make-out with the lady next to me. She looks good for her age. She reaches for my pen and gives me a smile instead of an official 'may I?' I nod approvingly as I lower my pants.

"Income from matured plans is 42%..."

Mature. Now there's one word I have a hard time with. I'm trying hard but this mature thing is not working out. Bending my boss over on a table; that's about as high on the maturity scale I'll go. How can people trust their money with me? Did she glance at me? I bet she did. She looks good in mahogany.

12:14pm. Eye contact is on the rise. Nervous ticks become more apparent. "I guess that's it for toda...wait one more thing."

There's always 'one more thing' that usually drags forever. At least mighty mouth is keeping his mouth shut. Maybe we'll have a shot at leaving early. I'm starving. I have to go buy a cantaloupe.

"Are there any other quest..."

Oh fricken no. No!

"Um, yes. Um could you please review the donations from the general fund and how they relate to past figures?"

I...can't....believe it. He actually asked the most useless question he's ever asked. The boss won't bite will he?

"Sure....approximately half of a quarter of the donations come from the EAP which itself comes from the foundation and this in turn all leads to a return in the form of dividends that dates back to 1974. Let's go over each year..."

What I really hear is, "let's smoke pot and read the prospectus. I'll order pizza and shish-taouk. After that, I will offer my wife in a ritual corporate gangbang. If you are one of us you will pander to our smut indulgences! Randy will pass the steroids to enhance your sales. Don't inject! We are not animals. Just rub it in."

I'm losing my mind. I'm gonna jump someone. Should I just walk out? I think I'll walk out. When the right moment presents itself I will bolt. 12:42pm. I'm in position. Give a few serious look of intense pondering and vanish.


1982? Falklands, 'Hurts so good'....death of Gilles Villeneuve...I'm outta here. I wonder if she'll follow....


The Vanishing Country: A Review Part I.

"In spite of the voluminous amount of well-documented evidence published in both Canada and the United States that clearly shows the overall superiority of Canada's publicly supported and publicly managed Medicare system, during the last few years there has been an almost daily barrage of attempts to discredit Medicare."

Quite an assertion by Mel Hurtig in 'The Vanishing Country.' A newer version of George Grant's 'Lament for a Nation' - without the polemics. Over the next four posts I will review this passionately written book. In the interest if space and time, I chose to begin with public health.

Returning to the above claim. I have not seen "voluminous" evidence that reveals our "superiour" health system. Forget the numbers and debates for a second. One need only be thrown into the system to make a decision as to whether or not we have a great system. What Mr. Hurtig is not saying is that contrary to his over use of the 'radical right' brainwashing us poor folk, the reality is that people with any form of sanity will tell you that the system is downright a mess.

Canceled surgeries, ridiculously long waiting periods, understaffed and under-equipped - to name a few- the public health system is not modern enough. For the millions we pour into the system it's no longer acceptable to rationalize the system by saying 'we don't throw anybody into the streets.'

The fact is that we're not allowed to bring up these issues in Canada. Not with Tommy Douglas being selected as the greatest Canadian in a recent countrywide poll. Public health is the leitmotif of the Canadian identity.

Poor management notwithstanding, I have nothing but full confidence in the doctors and nurses who are slaves to this collectivism run amok. Canada has a proud tradition of medical excellence. Alas, the way they are treated is a travesty and what the patients endure inhumane. So how is it superiour? We shouldn't make social contract promises we can't keep.

A couple of weeks ago, the medical profession took out an ad in a newspaper attempting to shame the government into taking action to improve the health system. To me, this is a clear indication that something is wrong. It's a huge step for doctors to take.

What was the reaction? Politicians went berserk. I'm always suspicious of politicians who defend the system so vehemently. Sure they do; they get to jump the queue or split for the U.S. - sometimes on taxpayer expense I am sure. I doubt they get to sit with the masses and witness first hand the anger among us.

Which leads me to his next comment. " Until recently, Canada was the only country in the OECD where there is no way to buy your way to the front of the line for medically-necessary medical and hospital services." I'm surprised this made into the book. Maybe payment isn't exchanged but, wink, wink, I'm so and so. "Yes sir to the front of the line. " Why, not so long ago a hockey player received remarkably fast and efficient service to treat his cancer. Meanwhile, kids rot in beds waiting to die. Our priorities are just as a screwed up as anybody.

The book ventures into places in which it has no business going. Like talking about the evils of the American health system for example. I won't get into it here but for me it stunk of selective musings. Tired old cliches that have since been proven inadequate to describe the complex and imperfect American version. All I know is that using our public health, as some proxy to show we are superiour is absurd.

I'm not knocking the system. I have benefited from it. But to hold on to it and blindly believe in maintaining the status quo to satisfy our nationalism serves no one. It only amounts to a colossal failure in keeping the system up to par in relation to what we put into it.

With health falling under provincial jurisdiction I remain skeptical that we will ever solve our problems. Our 10 jackals that pretend to be leaders are way too parochial to come up with a plan that benefits us all.

His answer to solve our problems? Bigger government and more money. It's already been squandered away so why not, eh? We agree with problems and symptoms but disagree with the cure.


Introducing Two Canadian Sports Icons: An Aide Mémoire

Athletes who play multiple sports are a rare breed. Does anyone have to be reminded that Michael Jordan tried - and failed? Professionally speaking.

When it came to playing more than one sport, no one tried to be like Mike; Mike tried to emulate others. Just because Jordan failed didn't mean the same fate awaited others. In the United States, Jim Thorpe, Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson are the most famous multiple sports icons. Thorpe in particular is justifiably considered one of America's greatest athletes ever. The list, of course, does not end with them. There have been many great athletes who played and excelled in various sports at the collegiate and pro level including Jim Brown, Tom Glavine and Jackie Robinson.

Canada was and is not without its icons, though we do not celebrate them all that much. Here, we have Lionel Conacher and Gerry James.

Who? I love digging such figures up. Larry Walker is a more recent example. He played hockey as well as baseball.

Consider this quote by Carl Snavely of Cornell University when he said Lionel Conacher "was probably he greatest athlete that I have ever coached in football or in any other form of athletics…. I don't believe I ever had a fullback who was a better runner in an open field, or was a better punter, or who so fully possessed all of the qualities of speed, skill, dexterity, aggressiveness and self-control…"

On the Historica.ca website they add, "He had to have endurance, too. One day in 1922, he hit a triple in the final inning to give his Toronto Hillcrest baseball team the Ontario baseball championship, then jumped into a waiting car and crossed the city to join his Maitland lacrosse team in their championship game against Brampton. Maitland was trailing 3-0 when Conacher arrived, but he scored four goals and assisted on another to lift his team to a 5-3 victory."

Lionel 'Big Train' Conacher played and participated in several sports. Football, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, boxing and wrestling. He became the Canadian Light Heavyweight champion in 1920. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Montreal Maroons, New York Americans and the Chicago Black Hawks in the NHL - winning two Stanley Cups. In football, his best sport, he won the Grey Cup in 1921 when his Toronto Argonaut's defeated the Edmonton Eskimos.

Back then, Canada was a highly successful athletic society - especially on the amateur side**. The British legacy of needing to be athletic in order to be a 'fully integrated' individual.*

Gerry James was 'restricted' to two sports. Hockey and football. Football in Canada has had a strange evolution. The sport has always been popular - like baseball - but it could never emerge from the shadows of hockey. James played right wing in 149 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and was a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 1950s. In today's lingo he would have been a defensive forward in hockey. But his football numbers were far more impressive. He led the Blue Bombers in rushing for three seasons***:

1954 - 106 carries for 576 yards (5.4 yards per carry)
1955 - 189/1205 (6.4 yards per carry)
1957 - 197/1192 (6 yards per carry)

James won two Schenley Awards for Outstanding Canadian**** in 1954 and 1957. He is a member of the CFL Hall of Fame. He was the last Canadian to play two sports and the only one to ever play in a Stanley Cup and Grey Cup final. As if this wasn't enough he also played in a Memorial Cup with the Winnipeg Monarchs in 1952.*****

Now you know who they are.

*The concept of the well-rounded individual dates back to Ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy - AKA as the Renaissance Man or L'Uomo Universali. The British continued the tradition especially for men heading into the military. The concept seems to have been abandoned by the latest great power - the United States.

**And it wasn't only the men. Fanny 'Bobbie' Rosenfield was a star in track, tennis, basketball, speed skating and hockey. Her reincarnation can be found in Clara Hughes who represented Canada with distinction (including a gold medal in Torino) in cycling and speed skating.

*** The CFL does a poor job of cataloging its statistics. As the league improves in stature this may change but for now it can stand to learn one, two or 15 things from the NFL about marketing and immortalizing their great players.

****There is such an award because the majority of the players have always come from the U.S. The CFL's top QB's have always historically been American born. Think Warren Moon, Joe Theisman and Doug Flutie.

*****Again for my American audience an explanation. The Memorial Cup is a prestigious junior hockey tournament that brings together the champions of Canada's top three leagues: The Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and The Quebec Majors. Collectively known as the Canadian hockey league. In terms of purity, there is nothing better than the Memorial Cup. It's an outstanding tournament and wickedly fun to watch. It's the closest thing Canada has that rivals the College sports phenomena in the U.S.


Cleaning Madness

My family is one strange puppy. Families are meant to be absurd organisms. A day does not go by where my parents pull something that befuddles the mind - my precious little, brain. When I waltzed into the house - more like swaggered - my mother was scurrying around cleaning. "Take off your shoes. I'm cleaning the house. The cleaning lady is coming tomorrow."

Did she just say the cleaning lady is coming?

Pan to camera as I stared blankly into it.

I had to ask. "If the cleaning lady is coming tomorrow why are you cleaning the house? Aren't you paying her? What's left for her to do?"

"Yes, but the house is a mess," she curtly responded.

Again, the cut scene. The house is pristine. "You're nuts you know that?"

"You want us to live in squalor." My mother had lost complete sense of perspective on what is acceptable living conditions and what is not. Worse, my mother prepares a two-hour huge lunch to feed her help.

The house sits on 9 000 square feet of land and her tiny 5'3'' frame is nervously and neurotically clamouring about frantically to keep it 'clean.' My mother is terrified of dust. She considers it worse than bio-chemical weapons. Iran and the nuke? Bah. Dust is the real killer. My father walks in and literally leaps over the vacuum cleaner on his way to the kitchen. Men care less about dust. Not when there's risotto waiting in the fridge.

"I'll be back," I tell her. "Ok. Do you mind passing the vacuum on the stairs?" I look down at the 15-step monster. The camera pans...

Just another warped day in the household where I grew up.


The Cross that Defines

It can't be missed. One of the first things anyone will see on the island of Montreal is indeed the Mountain known as Mount Royal. However, it's not the only thing. As one ponders, there stands a gigantic cross that spiritually towers above the city. Its original wooden structure was erected by the co-founders of the city in New France Jeanne Mance and Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve.

It really has become a unique structure on the North American landscape in what is already an interesting city. Despite this obviously important landmark that helps to define our heritage, I have begun to wonder about its lasting power. It would be unthinkable to remove it from our midst.

Or is it given the intellectual climate that litters our minds? Is it a matter of time before the armed forces of political correctness ask for it to be taken down lest it offends? I would not put it past anyone to do so.

We've already begun converting Montreal's beautiful Church's into condominiums. Sign of the times. Sigh, of progress they tell me.

Andre Boisclair and Gilles Duceppe: Two Majestically Stupid Men

You both offend my intellectual and moral core for your incredible lack of judgment by attending a rally in support of Hezbollah. Ignorant, idiotic and insulting. I point you to 'The Inferno.' Dante and Virgil are waiting to take you to Charon and your deserved boat ride into hell.

Why Quebecois leaders have the balls to take to the streets to oppose the action of a state that is defending itself is beyond anything imaginable. They are men that have attained a higher existence of stupidity.

Will Return with Post Shortly

-I'm quite tied up with other projects. However, I will leave you this thought: Ever notice how a Chef at the end of a cooking show always tastes their own food in front of the camera? As if we don't know what's coming next. "Hmmmmmm..." orgasm style. How credible is this? What can they say other than "delicious!" I like to envision a scenario where a cook tastes the food only to spit it out spontaneously. "Hoo! That didn't work out. I guess garlic and strawberries don't go well together after all! Terrible!" Note to producers. Stop this conflict of interest.

- Note to Americans and other tourists: Here in Quebec, yield means speed up and a stop sign is optional. As for the walkway, you know the yellow stripes on the floor, they are meant strictly for road decor.


Mom: I Married a Teenaged Alien

They tell me you need to grab the headline with a neat hook. Once you do grab them, I suppose you then have to shake them as hard as you can. Now that I have failed, I shall move forward with this cool-lection of assorted words that help to form quasi-coherent phrases.

I selected the above title because this is pretty much how Quebec politics functions - like a cheap tabloid. Whenever I hear one of our dippity-dappity politicians speak about something or another it harks back to a golden age of 'The National Enquirer.' Usually, I just brush them off like you do a fly circumnavigating (did I just say cum?) your ear; I have no idea why they would want to get in the waxed tunnel. But it's hard to always flick them away since they, well, live among you.

This is where a blog like this one can help enormously to help deal with the ill-advised amount of ignaramuseses that fill up the ignoble National Assembly in Quebec City - or Ottawa for that matter.

They....just....don't....get....it. Me and them - we just don't see things, you know, through the same prisms. Apparently, we could not help the Expos because we needed the money for the 'ospitals.' This is how they see things - with no economic coherency.

David Ricardo and Adam Smith aren't friends of Quebec.

I pretty much disagree with them on everything including family values, economics, political ideas, food etc. Foreign policy is another. The Blockhead Quebecois and their Marxist-Leninist leader from Jippity Jupiter (who collects rent like a good capitalist) have been hammering this week Stephen Harper and his position of supporting Israel. Of course they do. Quebec has a secret ugly history of anti-semitism. Wink, wink. Shhh. The don't want to believe they are capable of discrimination. Shhhhh!

All these medium sized tomato heads have been plucking all kinds of moments history to serve their own nimroddick views. They are wrong. Boy are they ever wrong when it comes to the Mid-East. We're watching the 1930s unfold right before our eyes and we are choosing to appease - Again. Yet, no calls on this parallel are made.

Peace at all cost is a dangerous proposition you know. Now, our appeasement is under the guise of American Imperialism and the Israeli occupation. Delude yourselves. Go ahead. Buy the bit the terrorists and their apologists are selling you. But stand aside and let Stephen Harper do his job. He is not willing to let malignant malcontents use the media to maliciously manipulate our minds.

Look, er, read. It really doesn't matter what they think because they can barely run their own Vaudeville show. Mammy! Mammy! Quebec has no clue what it means to have real power and wield it. Their whole existence is premised on a bunch of myths and 19th century ideals mixed in with some modern revisionism. It sounds great to them but it makes no sense to those of us outside the box. Quite frankly, it's so kooky sometimes we don't want to know. Hence, we ignore it as best we could. Call it fusion politics.

They identify themselves with the Palestinians because they truly believe they are in the same boat. Yeah, I can just see Canadian Federalist black shirts laying down mines to prepare for 'settlements' (aka reservations) in Quebec. Mind you, the Cree are prepared for a battle should Quebec ever actually pull the trigger and insanely secede. Shhh. More secrets.

Fly on the wall scene if they ever get the vote they want in a referendum seeking to break Canada apart: "Wha? We won? What de le fuck do we do le now? "Um, let's call it a democracy but we have to act like a dictatorship so we can get our act together, Jean-Guy."

How can they possibly form a decent opinion on the Mid-East? They habble and babble and habble and babble. Yet, they tolerate pathetic little outfits that apparently preserve the pride of the language in L'Office de la Langue Française - our very own subtle but no less harassing Brown shirts. Only without the bats. They are armed with rulers.

Here's a thought. Instead of dipsy-doodling around with wooden rulers measuring the size of fricken English letters -finks - how about you instill some hardcore family and educational values in your society again before tackling bigger issues?

Until then, step aside, grumble in whatever tongue you want and let Harper lead.

I wonder if the aliens tolerate divorce.


The Depressing Disgrace of DePaul University

What more proof does one want that University or College is not what it's all cracked up to be? Specifically, they are no longer true bastions and preservers of our collective intellectual heritage. Universities and Colleges are magnificently malfunctioning in what can only be described as a make-believe nightmare. Edward Gibbon himself was not too fond of them a few centuries back.

I'm not sure if I, The Commentator, can convey into words what I see developing in the woeful dark halls of our institutions of higher learning - make that middle learning. Professors are no longer free. They are now to be constrained by a faceless faculty who are in turn controlled by the tricky trail of money bags. More frighteningly, they are subservient to the keepers of political correctness and organized special interest. What is left but mere lost and empty souls giving lectures with a wink or two?

During one of my Western Civilization classes in University, the Professor opened his class with some quotes by Edmund Burke. He used them to set-up the intellectual climate of the period. It was skillfully done and I rather enjoyed myself I must say. Alas, one man's entertainment is another man's gargoylic (my word) fear or nightmare. It seems one student in particular was not happy with Burke and proceeded to take it out on the Professor. As if he was Burke reincarnated. In the mind of this student, he interpreted Burke as a racist and therefore the Professor had no business bringing him up. Omit one of of world history's finest philosophers?

The Professor, taken aback, reminded the student that he did not pen the words and that he should take his complaints to Burke. He also reminded the dimwitted student that Burke was dead.

Enter DePaul University and the suspension of Professor Tom Klocek for 'offending' Muslim students after defending Israel during one of his classes. What kind of heavy madness was allowed to enter the minds of the President of the school Dennis Holtschneider along with his Dean of the School for New Learning - New Learning? - Susan Dumbleton. I'll allow you to discover the root word on your own. How have we come to this? How is it that a regressive and ignorant minority of intolerant, infantile students can wield such power over a professor? Indeed an entire University!

Have we lost our minds? Has Western culture degraded to such a level that we no longer have the wherewithal to debate within our own schools? This is no longer a political debate. This is an issue that strikes deep within the core of our Occidental legacy. It's a simple case of right and wrong. Those students are the ones that have abdicated the privilege of sitting in our schools. Higher education is not a right nor a political battle ground but a place to exchange ideas freely.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened and it surely won't be the last - Concordia University here in Montreal has long decided to perform oral sex with similar ogres - as our Universities are filled with gutless individuals with minds that have been reduced to the size of a gherkin.

What's that? That's the gangrene setting on our brains after an attempted suicide.

General comments

My mother insisted I watch the news today. "They are going to talk about selling property to pass down to your kids and the subsequent tax implications." How do you tell your mother that the local news isn't going to tell you anything magically different from what your lawyer and accountant have already said? Add that I spent a decade in financial services and you pretty much have low expectations on what the panel will discuss. Love the panel talk. Once again, I was proven right. I wasted 45 minutes waiting for a person to come on and talk about - cottages and second homes properties. "Did you see it?" my mother eagerly said hoping to gain more insights from her first born son. "Mom, we own COMMERCIAL properties. It was all nice but how does this help us?" "Oh." Mama mia and Madonna, for real.

So, I figured I may as well continue watching. I was not rewarded. The news quickly descended into the usual maddening belief that celebrity news is worthy news -see Lascivious Polyphony for more thoughts on this. The question of the day was whether people thought Mel Gibson was going to be able to revive or regurgitate - whatever - his career. This is news? If there any kids reading please cover your ears and eyes: Who the %#%!1 fuck cares? Leave all this junk to mind-numbing programming like 'Insider' and 'ET.' Like I really give shit about what goes on behind the scenes of 'American Idol' or where that Brit buys his lousy tops. Or that loud-mouth Barkley is insanely running for office in Alabama. Just go away and bring back real news. Oh, that takes vision and intelligence. Sorry.

-Since I've gone on to a mini-rant, I see that the local sports radio station has hired another young person to speak on the airwaves. I'm all for this but how low are the barriers to entry? Part of the host's Team 990 Drive crew (two in particular) must lead North American sports talk with the most 'ums, you knows and I means.' The fact is that the local talent on the air is slightly above average if not mediocre. I wish them well and hope they improve. In order to do this you need to be driven and to be driven you want to be compensated for your hard work. Alas, there is no money in sports radio in Montreal. It's a tough gig for sure. And it reflects on the on-air talent. As for the Montreal Gazette, it seems having one beat writer take on more than one section - badly I might add- is good, sound business. Just shoot this paper out of its misery already.

-Many mistake having a political opinion against an existing government as being unpatriotic and anti-American. I disagree. While it is true sometimes some do push their privileged rights to extremes most of it is just an opinion and usually has little weight. I may disagree with some opinions but I by no means dismiss it as being treason. I was listening to Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp today - to avoid the 38c sweltering heat - and was reminded just how proud of America they are. If they weren't they wouldn't vividly choose American settings to drive the imagery of their music. Some of it is patriotic and some of it is not so. But there's nothing wrong in this. They are entitled to some flexibility on political issues. Look, I'm not always enamoured with some of their thoughts but that only makes us stronger. It does make you think. Isn't this the hallmark of our democratic values? After all, I'm not always right* so it's good to see different perspectives. Besides, their music is simply outstanding.

-Fidel Castro is temporarily stepping aside as he recovers from surgery to rectify intestinal bleeding. This spontaneously led millions of Cuban-Americans in Miami to take to the streets in jubilation. These people are dying for him to, well, die.

I'm not so quick to dance. While I look forward to the day where Cuba is freed from the yokel of tyranny, Cuba has been grooming communist successors to take over El Cigaro's job. Now whether this is just an intermediary step towards ending the dictatorship is unclear. Democracy may be a long way off as many people do believe in the revolution spearheaded by Castro. The road looks rocky to me.

I'll never forget my trip to Cuba. I regret going. All I saw was a beautiful people put on a courageous face in the middle of madness. A people that when they spoke to you would always look over their shoulders. Who would wink to show their disapproval of Castro. One person I shot hoops with was a Russian trained engineer. He was passing towels for a buck a month to a bunch of whiny, spoiled Euro-trash millionaires and haughty, annoying Canadians draped in Maple Leaf apparel. I kept thinking Tim Horton's was right around the fucking corner.

Until Cuba gets on track and we set our own priorities straight, we will be treated to millions of Canadians who see no hypocrisy in dishing out thousands of dollars that only further the misery of Cubans. Some of us hide behind the notion that Cuba has a social welfare state where medicare (which has little medicine and equipment) and education (more like indoctrinization) that is more humane than America's. What I like to do is reverse the question: Ok, would you live there? Would you tolerate not being allowed on beaches to mingle with tourists? Would you accept those conditions? The stupid blank stares are priceless.

-The most insulting commercial out there? Try Lays. You know, the 'get your smile on' chip maker. Apparently, according to the commercial, Lays chips are made from a careful blend of three ingredients: potatoes (no!), Salt (get outta here!) and sunflower oil (just like the bag says!). No fucking shit! Just for that I'm buying Ruffles. Not that I eat chips too much. I'm more of a cookies guy.

*According to my stats - and my math was never very good - I am right about 94.46% of the time.

Canadians and the Mid-East

A recent Globe and Mail poll revealed that 77% of Canadians want the PM and Canada to remain neutral on the Mid-East crisis. 45% do not agree with Prime Minister Harper's support of Israel while 32% do.

Let's tackle the 77% group. There is something strange going on here. Implicit in taking such a stance, is that despite our apparent commitment to democracy we choose to not support one in the Mid-East. Is neutrality the best policy on an important issue? We would like Canada to display its magical values but when it is time to project those values on a big stage we seem to want to pull back. Maybe we feel this is not the stage to do it on. Who knows? Canadians should be confident and proud enough to take a stand. We have done so in the past and we should do so now.

Also inherent in this logic - and this also permeates throughout academia - is that the whole crux of the problem begins and ends with the occupation. The "If they would just leave all would be a-ok" belief is a pile of dung that no one truly believes. Worse, the Syrians are claiming this line. Not exactly the country you want to align this line with. More importantly, consulting history of course reveals that the problem is slightly more deep rooted and it doesn't necessarily point towards Israel. Or the U.S. They are just convenient scapegoats. The Jews in particular have always been the convenient black sheep between Islam and Christianity. But I digress.

The people are saying - possibly unwittingly - that democracy can't work in the Mid-East so butt-out. Which in turns means Arabs are not just an unwilling party but incapable of such a experiment.

Conversely, it can be argued that given the right conditions and resources any culture from any society on all four rounded corners on the planet can adopt and adapt to some form of democracy. Arabs seem to adapt just fine in North America which proves being democratically deficient is not genetic. If African tribes removed from modernity can function on some democratic level as some indeed do, then it stands to reason that Arabs - who have more exposure to it - can also. A dab of leadership and voila! The world is theirs.

It would be nice if the UN, Kofi Annan and the world community in general would for once refrain from condemning Israel and for once - just as once - demand that the Arabs begin to face the music and take responsibility for their own actions. We never have strong words for the inept governments of the Middle-East. Why is that? Are we indirectly saying that they are incorrigible?

What's interesting to detect in the 45% group is that they no doubt feel they are a minority. They must look in horror at Harper's courageous position. It's courageous because I never thought I'd see the day where Canada would actually take a stand on major international issues.

We often hear about how voices are being suppressed and that many truths are hidden - thanks to a Zionist plot of course - yet, from what I can tell, it is clear that articles, polls and popular consensus cite Israel as the problem. Take a walk anywhere in North America and stop anyone and see what they say.

Canadians have forgotten what not having a leader means. If anything, Harper is bucking the intellectual trend by ignoring this stupid faux-pas and actually standing on principles. Jean Chretien and his cronies were a bunch of decadent worms who took decisions based on political expediency and passed them as being progressive. It was never about values but rather about preserving Liberal power.

Harper brought back democratic scruples by leading a new Conservative government into power. Canada was fast becoming a 'Mexico of the North' in that we were on our way to being a corrupt, one-party state. Democracy won when Harper was elected - it would have won if anyone had been chosen.

Whether the Conservatives can uphold their own standards is still very much in the air.