No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Just 5 Sundays to Go!!

Sure, summer's great and all. It's sunny and hot and the days are long. There's ice cream a-plenty. But come the beginning of August, I start to get anxious for the arrival of September. Sure, I be a bit sad to see summer drift off into a hazy, lazy oblivion - but the rewards of September are worth it. Yes folks, we're just 37 short days away from the official kick-off of another glorious NFL Season.

As a Canadian, I am contractually obligated to be a hockey fan (and, of course I am - Go Leafs Go!). But it's football that I really love. Not the actually-soccer-but-every-other-country-in-the-world-calls-it-football kind of football. And not the marginal pass-and-punt-and-go-bankrupt style practiced up here in Canada. Nope, I love the real, honest-to-goodness, tailgating, head-smashing, touchdown-celebrating, are-you-ready-for-some-football kind of football.

You can bet there'll be some Monday-morning football blogs come the Fall. But in the meantime, here are the games I'm most looking forward to. Mark your calendars, kids!

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants
Sunday, September 9
It's Manning versus Manning, as Eli tries yet again to prove he is every bit as good as his big bro' Peyton. Is he? Probably not just yet. Maybe never. He's definitely got talent, but it remains to be seen if Eli's willing to put in the hours of homework Peyton's so renowned for - and whether Burress or Toomer can become Eli's Marvin Harrison. Regardless, this competition is always fun to watch. Plus, the Colts are my team. Go Colts.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Monday, September 25
Football returns to New Orleans, and to the refurbished Superdome, for the first time since Katrina. On a Monday night to boot, this'll be an emotional highlight of the season.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, October 8
Party at my house! T.O. takes to Lincoln Financial field in Philly for the first time since the Eagles suspended, then released the talented and troubled star. I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens. One thing about T.O., you know it won't be boring. It's Canadian Thanksgiving that weekend, and I'll pass up the turkey and stuffing for this game.

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
Sunday, November 12
Assuming he can make it to November injury-free, this'll be Steve's McNair's return to Tennessee, to play the team that treated him pretty shabbily this off-season. After 9 years of service from McNair, Tennessee traded the 3-time Pro-bowler to the Ravens for a fourth-round draft pick. But not before trying to cut his salary and refusing to allow him to work out on their property in the weeks before he was traded. Classy.

And so many more. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Indy and New England, and on and on. It's just 17 weeks of joy (then even more play-off joy).

I can hardly wait. Just 5 more Sundays to go.

Yet More Stars Behaving Badly

Last week, movie star, Academy-award winner and erstwhile sexiest-man-alive (ugh) Mel Gibson was arrested for allegedly drinking and driving. Reports indicate that Mel, who has admitted to struggling with alcoholism in the past, had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, rather above California's legal limit of 0.08. No-one was hurt in the incident, and at first it seemed like it would be just another bad night Mel (and the rest of us) would eventually forget. Then, reported some elements that the police had neglected to mention in their reports to the media. And that really got the bloggers buzzing.

Mel, it seems, was a tad belligerent to his arresting officer. TMZ claims that Gibson threatened to destroy officer James Mee. They quote the officer's initial report as saying: "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me." Then, things got really nasty. "The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "...The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"

Gibson has been accused of anti-semitism before; some claim his film The Passion of the Christ blamed Jews for the death of Jesus. He has also declined to distance himself from his father's views, after the elder Gibson was quoted as denying the Holocaust ever took place. Mel deflected claims of his own anti-semitism by arguing that he could not be anti-semitic, because the Pope says anti-semitism is a sin.

Now, I don't want to make any unfounded accusations here, but if someone makes dumb-ass anti-semitic comments, whether said person is drunk or sober, that person is probably a dumb-ass anti-semite. I don't know about you, but when I get really, really drunk, I still tend to avoid shouting racist and anti-semitic comments at police officers. And I find it hard to believe that a bottle of Tequila could make Mell say things he didn't really believe. So, I conclude that Mel's a complete wank - your conclusion is up to you.

The part of the report that has been much overlooked in the face of the anti-semitic comments is Mel's charming complete sense of entitlement. He seems to honestly believe that the officer should let him go, simply because he is Mel Gibson. Similar self-aggrandizing took place when all-star hockey goalie Ed Belfour was arrested for drinking and driving in Texas a few years back. After a few attempts at "But don't you know who I am," Belfour is alleged to have offered the arresting officer a billion dollars to let him go. Don't you love how these larger-than-life figures seem to honestly believe that they should be allowed to break whatever laws they please and be let go with a warning and a kiss on the forehead? And anyone who doesn't let them off is clearly out to get them. Ah, to be a dumb-ass celebrity. Tequila, anyone?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Oh Lindsay, when will you learn?

If, like me, you've watched Lindsay Lohan's descent from apple-cheecked Disney starlet to skinny, seemingly drugged-out skank with a certain awe, it may hearten you to know that someone finally called her on her sh!t. And someone else helpfully leaked the written reprimand to The Smoking Gun, so we could all enjoy it together. I love the internet age

Earlier this week, Lindsay was taken from the set of her new movie, Georgia Rule, to hospital due to "heat exhaustion" and "dehydration". The fact that she had reported for work straight from a club wasn't mentioned by her PR flacks. A B12 shot later and Lindsay was well enough to be back out partying with her new boy-toy that very night. A veritable medical miracle! Yet, not everyone was pleased to see our Lindsay back on the party scene. James Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek, producers of Georgia Rule, laid it for Lindsay in a hand-delivered letter:

"You and your representatives have told us that your various late arrivals and absences from the set have been the result of illness... We are well aware that your on-going all night heavy partying is the real reason for your so called 'exhaustion'. We refuse to accept bogus excuses for your behaviour.

To date, your actions on Georgia Rule have been discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional. You have acted like a spoiled child..."

Robinson then goes on to warn Lohan that further delays and absences will not be tolerated, and that she will be held financially responsible for them.

Oh, snap! Guess she won't be working for Morgan Creek again anytime soon.

Is it unseemly for me to take pleasure in this? I know it really is an undoubtedly small irritation for Miss Lindsay. Yup, it's wrong. Yup, I'm petty. But let's face it.. if you or I were showing up to work totally strung out on a regular basis, our butts would be fired in no time. Lindsay gets a public slap on wrist - likely with no longer term repercussions. The girl is still rich, marginally talented (I liked Mean Girls, I really did) and totally famous. But it is still nice to see someone in Hollywood doesn't feel the need to kiss her skinny, strung-out a$$.

Not 'The One'

Not so long ago, CBC seriously ruffled some feathers by announcing that they would simulcast a new ABC reality series called The One. While this may have seemed like an innocuous decision - after all, the Mother Corp has dipped its toes into murky reality waters before (Hockeyville, anyone?) - it got some viewers and commentators all in snit.

The problem was that The One, which sounded like a full-on American Idol rip-off, would cause The National to be bumped from its normal timeslot on some nights. Oh, the indignity. See, we Canadians take our news seriously. No fair-and-balanced info-tainment up here. We're all sent to bed with good old left-wing sanctimony every night, thanks to Mansbridge and company. Unless it's hockey season, in which case The National can be bumped every damn night for all we care. (It's worth it to see how pissed off Mansbridge looks when he comes on the air after another overtime game. He's one Canuck who you know just hates hockey!)

Ok, back to CBC picking up The One! It seemed like a strange decision to me at the time. CBC generally lets CTV and Global gobble up these variety/reality hybrids. Then, they announced the host of The One and it all became clear. The One was to be hosted by punky-hunk CBC-staffer George Stroumboulopoulos. George, you see, is the too-cool-for-school former MuchMusic veejay that the Corp poached a few years back and whom they count on to attract a certain, ahem, younger demographic to the net. With their golden boy hosting this new show, no wonder CBC was willing to bump old Peter and friends.

Now, after all the fussing and feuding comes work that ABC - the original broadcaster - has canned The One, in the face of low ratings. Seriously, painfully low. Near-record lows. Ouch.

Better luck next time, Stroumbo.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Great Canadiana, Animated

As my friend Jason pointed out in his blog, the2scoops, the National Film Board has released 50 of their most beloved animated shorts on their website. While Jay highlighted one they missed (the CBC late-afternoon classic , The Logjammer's Dance), I found two absolute classics on the NFB site.

The first is the Roch Carrier's classic, The Sweater. Narrated in a rich Quebecois accent, the film tells the story of young Montrealer who, along with all of his friends, lives and dies for the Montreal Canadians. Each of the boys dresses as a miniature Maurice Richard on the ice. When his jersey grows tattered, the boy's mother writes to monsieur Eaton to order a new one. Tragically, when it arrives, the jersey is not a beautiful red, white and blue Montreal jersey, but a horrible blue and white jersey from a team just west of Montreal. Despite his horror at having to wearing the sweater of a team that always loses to Montreal, his mother makes him wear the jersey. Misadventures ensue. Delightful.

The second is The Big Snit. Beginning innocuously with a game of Scrabble, the film progresses to a frenzy of furniture sawing, eyeball shaking, nuclear war and, well, you just have to see it.

Nice Attitude, eh? Canada's Bad Sports

Earlier this week, the Toronto Blue Jays - struggling to stay in contention in the American League East - essentially released one of their top players. They designated him for assignment, which in baseball terms meant he would no longer be playing for the team - though he could be traded at a much reduced, firesale price.

Shea Hillenbrand is a plus .300 hitter with 12 homeruns so far this season. He was runner-up in Jays MVP voting just two years ago. It's been no secret that Hillenbrand wanted out of Toronto, unhappy with his role as designated hitter and unable to get on manager John Gibbons' good side. But things really came to a head this week, when Hillenbrand allegedly wrote "this is a sinking ship" and "play for yourselves" on a clubhouse blackboard. An incensed Gibbons called Hillenbrand out, may have challenged him to a fight, certainly said "it's you or me" and then kicked Hillenbrand out of the clubhouse and off the team. Since his release (and subsequent trade to the Giants), members of the Jays management team have labeled Hillenbrand a "cancer" and a bad influence on younger players. Harsh words to be sure, but it's clear that Hillenbrand is another over-entitled, whiney jock out for himself. Sadly, Canada has seen more than our share - from athletes to managers to owners. So, in honour of Hillenbrand's departure, here is my list of Canada's worst sports:

1. Harold Ballard
Rich, mean and clearly in love with power, he was the sole owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1971-1990. He created teams that made him lots of money, but that failed to contend (and often, failed to make the playoffs) - making his tenure the darkest period in Leafs history. He refuse to pay big-money salaries, which is not such a bad thing, but he also went out of his way to alienate some of the most beloved sports heroes in Toronto history, including Darryl Sittler (dismantling a competitive team, trading Sittler's best-friend and linemate, belittling Sittler's achievements in the press) and Dave Keon (blocking Keon from joining another NHL team and essentially ending a great NHL career - forcing him to the WHA). Ever charming even away from hockey, he once remarked of Barbara Frum (one Canada's most respected and accomplished journalists): "Women are best in one position -- on their backs."

2. Vince Carter
Selected in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft, Carter made an immediate impact, winning Rookie of the Year honours, dramatically winning the Slam Dunk contest at the All-Star Game, signing a rich contract with Nike and playing in the Summer Olympics. By 2001, the rapidly improving Raptors even made it to the Eastern Conference finals. The next year, it all started to fall apart. Carter hurt his knee and spent the next few seasons in and out of the line-up. His attitude soured, and fans and media began to whisper about his lack of intensity and his half-hearted play. Finally, he demanded a trade and admitted that he had, in fact, been dogging it Toronto for years. Way to earn your millions of dollars and be an inspiration to the youth of the world, Vince.

3. Emmanuel Sandhu
Sandhu came into a great figure skating tradition. He following in the skates of a series of Canadian world champions: Brian Orser, Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko. And no one thought more highly of Sandhu's chances to join that elite group than Sandhu. He was proud, arrogant, flamboyant and dismissive of his competition. Too bad he never had the goods to back it up, consistently failing to make a mark in international competition and always coming up with an excuse. If you're gonna be a diva, baby, you better bring your game.

4. Todd Bertuzzi
I'm no big fan of Steve Moore. And I don't think that Bertuzzi meant to hurt him as badly as he did. But a star player has no business seeking revenge on a thug like Moore. And a sucker punch is never, ever okay, on the ice or off. Bertuzzi did a lot of damage that day, not just to Moore, but to himself, the Canucks and the sport of hockey.

5. George Bell
Bell was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in the heady, growth-oriented 1980s. An all-star leftfielder and a serious homerun threat, he became the first Blue Jay to win the league MVP award. He also had an ego and attitude the size of a major league ball park. The highlight of his Toronto tenure came when he told the media that anyone who didn't like him could "kiss (his) purpe butt." Purple? Really?

While Canada may not have produced an attitude as toxic as Terrell Owens, or player as profoundly unlikable as Barry Bonds, we have had a few very special efforts.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Canada's Next Top Eating Disorder

Are you kidding me??!!

I'm a fan of trashy reality tv - especially in the summer - so, of course, I watched Canada's Next Top Model every damn week. It was much like its American counterpart, with a few key exceptions. Host Tricia Helfer was the anti-Tyra Banks... poised where Tyra is earthy, chilly where Tyra is warm, stiff where Tyra is, well, Tyra-licious, high-fashion where Tyra is oh-so Sports Illustrated. On the plus side, Tricia seemed to offer practical, realistic advice in photoshoots - explaining how and why to do things, whereas Tyra tends to say "just do it like I do it." The photoshoots themselves tended to the arty and high concept, but the Covergirl commercial was laughably low-rent relative to the American version. The strangest element of the Canadian show was its location - in that hotbed of international fashion, Victoria BC. Um, ok. I assume the location was chosen to allow Tricia to work on the Vancouver set of Battlestar Gallactica. It made for some beautiful scenery shots, but added a strange, almost rural feel to the model world.

All the same, the show was good clean fun, until the winner was announced.

Andrea was easy enough to root for. A shy mama's girl who'd never had a boyfriend, who'd been bullied and teased as a child and who had barely a cent to her name. One thing she did have, in addition to lovely bone structure, was a painfully thin frame. Even on a model scale, Andrea is sickly skinny. Seemingly subsisting on candy and little else, it seems clear that Andrea has some serious food issues. As I watched her week to week, I kept thinking that if the camera really does add 10 pounds she must be emaciated in person. To win, Andrea beat out girl-next-door Alanna, who was criticized for her "gym body" and told she had shoulders like a hockey player (no hockey player I've ever seen, but what do I know?). By choosing the girl with the stereotypical waifish model body, the girl who clearly has no idea of what healthy diet and exercise mean, the producers of Canada's Next Top Model have reinforced the beauty myth that fashion has been peddling for years. And that's a very sad message to send to the young Canadian girls who watched the show.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Evil Dead on Broadway

Evil Dead: The Musical will soon make the move to Broadway!

Inspired by director Sam Raimi's 1980s cult classic films Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, the musical first hit the boards in Toronto in 2003. Now, it is following in footsteps of The Drowsy Chaperone, a Tony award winner that began life as a Toronto Fringe Festival show before making the leap to Broadway success.

But a slasher flick as musical fodder? Well, if the idea of dancing ghouls and bloody chainsaws seem a strange topic for a Broadway show, consider that musicals about a disfigured creep in an opera house, starving rebels during the French Revolution and a bunch of cats have all done pretty well. It couldn't be worse than a musical Lord of the Rings, right?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Where Did All the People Go, Pixar?

I went to see Cars at a matinee last week. It was me, my husband and 12 little girls who seemed to be celebrating a birthday. It was a Thursday afternoon and I've never watched a movie in so empty a theatre. But that wasn't nearly as surreal as what was on screen. The really unnerving thing about the film is that Pixar has created a world that is totally devoid of human beings.

One of the central conceits of all of the Pixar movies up to now has been the interplay between the 'imaginary' world of the main characters (Buzz and Woody, Nemo, Mike and Sully) with a human world that any kid could recognize. The main characters interact with each other primarily, but are always on the periphery of the 'real' world, represented by Andy in Toy Story, the dentist and his niece in Finding Nemo and Boo in Monsters Inc. This structure made the stories more delightful and magical, as kids could connect the charming stories to their own reality.

Now, in Cars, the world is constrained entirely to the vehicular realm. It isn't a big step to anthropomorphise the race cars, and even the vehicles of Radiator Springs, but where one would expect to see people in the stands watching the cars race and in the stands announcing the race, there are, in fact, other cars. This notion necessitates the suspension of a whole new level of disbelief. It's just weird. The movie's still a hoot - with great voicing by Owen Wilson, Paul Newman and Michael Keaton - but I found the lack of people cold and irksome. Not that the kids seemed to notice - they seemed to love it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More than just trash talk: Zidane loses it

Italy won the World Cup final a few days ago now, but Sunday's game remains stubbornly in the headlines thanks to a single interaction near the end of the match. French captain Zinedine Zidane was red carded (to the non-football-savvy, that means he was thrown out of the game) for executing a seemingly unprovoked headbutt to the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

In the closing minutes of a well-played World Cup final, France's football hero just lost it. After coming out of retirement to play in a final World Cup, and playing well enough to win the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player, Zidane ended his career on the sidelines as his team lost in a shootout. It wasn't the first time Zidane was kicked out of an international game, but it was certainly the most dramatic.

The question on everyone's mind, then, is what could possibly have caused Zidane to act in such manner. What could Materazzi possibly have said to Zidane that would make him forget the game, his reputation and all hope of victory? The British tabloids have paid lip-readers to try to figure it out. A Paris-based anti-racism advocacy group thinks they know the answer: sources tell them that Materazzi called Zidane a "dirty terrorist". That's a hot-button accusation to make against anyone these days, but Zidane, the French-born such of Algerian immigrants, would be particularly sensitive to such a horrible slur: the Algerian-based terror group GIA has tormented France for the past 10 years. To attempt to associate Zidane with their actions is both cruel and racist.

Trash talk has been around as long as sport, but it seems to have grown in its strategic importance. Players from Kobe Bryant to Darcy Tucker taunt their opponents, goading them into making a mistake. It seems clear that Materazzi was doing the same thing. But what is fair game in trash talk? Sheldon Kennedy acknowledged that many NHLers knew he had been abused by his junior hockey coach before it became common knowledge to the rest of us. Despicably, some players would use that knowledge to taunt Kennedy on the ice. Surely, some things should be unspoken. But in the world of higher, faster, stronger, it seems there are no limits.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

So You Think You Can Dance

I revel in reality television. Particularly in the summer when there is nothing else on and it's too hot to go outside. So, from the climate-controlled environment of my living-room couch, I watch some really awful stuff. And some wonderfully awful stuff too, like So You Think You Can Dance. And you should watch it too.

Here are my top 5 reasons you should watch So You Think You Can Dance.

1. To see what the hell Cat Deely is wearing. Cat Deely is the Seacrest-light (that's mean, I know, but true) who hosts the whole show, comforts the contestants and assures us that something truly exciting will happen 'right after the break.' She's a vast improvement on last year's hostbot and has one particularly notable attribute - the worst wardrobe in reality TV. Who dresses this woman? Every week, you think the outfits can't get less flattering or more absurd - and then they do! This week, she looked like she had made a dress out a Thanksgiving tablecloth.

2. They really can dance. Well, the ones that are left can. The chaff is mainly gone and we are left with the finalists who try hardest, learn fastest and move best. Some highlights: Benji and Donyelle are clearly fan favourites, based on the deafening cheers when they hit the stage, mainly because they are funny, seem to like one another and are clearly having the time of their lives; Dmitry can probably dance, but what he does best is look really, really excellent shirtless - an underrated skill if you ask me; and, finally, Musa is a totally untrained dancer who learned breakdance on the streets - and every week he gamely takes on ballroom, contemporary and more ballroom with his scorching partner Natalie. You can't help but cheer for these people. Especially if, like me, you can't dance at all without embarassing yourself and possibly hurting innocent bystanders.

3. Nigel Lithgoe's ego. It's massive, and on amusing display. He is always introduced as "Executive Producer Nigel Lithgoe", to make it clear he is no mere judge thank-you-very-much. He references Idol all the time to remind people of his previous success and all his money. It is clear at any given moment that he makes all final decisions, regardless of what the other judges say - and he's actually said as much on air. Delightful.

4. They have a Paula too! Here name is Mary Murphy, she's a ballroom specialist and she is completely loony. High praise from Mary is a patented high-pitched shriek in which her face remains eerily expressionless (yay Botox). Her nonsequiters and short attention span are truly Paula-esque, though she isn't afraid to be brutally, acidicly critical, too.

5. Drinking Game potential. Take a shot every time Cat says Ameriker. Or fiddles nervously with her fingers when asking the judges questions. Or when a judge sucks up to the choreographers while saying the dance totally sucked. Or when Nigel tries an age-inappropriate dance move. Or when Mary says something unintelligible. Or just screams. You'll be drunk off you ass in 10 minutes. Ah, summer fun.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Devil and Carrie Bradshaw

Saw The Devil Wears Prada last night, in a packed theatre. I'm not sure the last time I've seen so many women together in one place.

First things first. Meryl is as brilliant as you've heard. Arch, cruel, perfectly expressive. With Cruela Deville hair and a chilly poise, her Miranda Priestly owns every second she's on-screen. And when she's not, her absence is palpable; like a lull in a storm, you feel unsettled and expectant until she returns. Most actresses would have created a cartoon, yet Meryl somehow creates a whole person - complex and vastly entertaining. That's a lot more than can be said of the rest of the cast. Anne Hathaway, as abused assistant Andy, mostly holds her own, but her character really exists in reaction to Miranda. The rest of the cast, unfortunately, has little to do and less to do it with, as they seem to have been provided with characteristics rather than characters, soundbites rather than subplots.

Still, the movie is fun and frothy, in that quasi-literate Bridget Jones kind of way. Yet it seems to owe its sensibility less to the book its based on than to Sex and the City. The exuberant Patricia Field fashions, the idealized vision of the city of New York and the denouement in Paris all call Carrie and friends immediately to mind. There's even a warm, sensitive Aidan of a boyfriend, played by Entourage's Adrian Grenier. He's a chef (suitably sexed up from a school teacher in the book, but still meant to suggest a certain soulful quality) with soft puppy-dog eyes and an understanding nature. A few carefully placed scenes are meant to suggest that he and Andy have a scorching sex life as well, presumably to help convince the viewer that he and Andy truly belong together. But who could pass up Mr. Big, or rather the literary version of him, in the person of Christian Thompson? Played with a subtle sense of entitlement and a lovely unsubtle sex appeal by Simon Baker, Thompson saves Andy's job and seems to offer her a devilishly easy way in to the world she seeks. That the movie seems to demand that Andy choose the soulful chef over the man who shares her ambition and her passion for writing is its chief flaw.

The movie is so busy judging Priestly (and Andy for being seduced by her larger-than-life job and catering to Miranda's crazy demands) that it dismisses what she accomplishes. Though characters pay lipservice to Miranda's success, it is clear that we are to see all she has given up to get it, and feel, if not pity than smugness at her failures. The message of the film is that sacrificing personal life for career simply isn't worth it if it means missing one birthday celebration for your soulful chef boyfriend. Please. There's a balance to be had between ambition and real life, though the movie suggests that ditching the ambition is the only way to succeed. Nice work of you can get it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bad, Bad Bosses

In The Devil Wears Prada, released this weekend, Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestly, an Anna Wintour-like editor of a Vogue-like publication. She is a cruel, biting and mercilessly sarcastic boss who takes pleasure in humiliating her assistant, played by the dewy Anne Hathaway. Priestly is, from the top of her impeccable snow-white hairstyle to the tip of her pointy Manolos, a personification of the very bad boss. And she's just one in a long line of bad bosses Hollywood has given us. I've had my share of real life bad bosses, but here's my list of the worst bosses on film:

Bill Lumbergh, Office Space (Gary Cole)
Ummm, yeah. Lumbergh is Hollywood's best example of the soulless boss who slowly sucks the will to live right out his employees, with his artful communication style and deep empathy for those around him. Plus, he takes away Milton's red Swingline stapler and really, really gets off on doing it. C'mon now, we all know that stapler wasn't hurting anyone.

Katharine Parker, Working Girl (Sigourney Weaver)
Katharine is coolly efficient, calculating and extremely successful. She tells Tess her ideas are no good, then promptly claims them as her own. A player in the power-hungry world of mergers and acquisitions, she takes great pleasure in cutting Tess down and always keeping her in her place. Male or female, this is boss a real bitch.

David Brent, The Office (Ricky Gervais)
OK, this a TV show and not a movie. And it isn't even from Hollywood, but rather from the brilliant mind of Brit comedian Ricky Gervais. But Brent is another classic example of a bad boss - inept, inappropriate and clueless. Manager of a paper-supply company in industrial Slough, Brent thinks he's a cool, popular and funny boss. He's not. Cringe-inducing, in a good way.

The Emperor, Star Wars films (Ian McDairmid)
You do his every evil bidding and he's ready to replace you as soon as a new, more forceful potential sith shows up. And that's just if you are his second-in-command. Heaven help you if you are a disposable foot soldier. Apparently, he's so cheap, he won't even pay for you to get arms training or target practice. Your chance of being ignobly defeated by a rag-tag handful of rebels is very high indeed.

Dr. Evil, Austin Powers Films (Mike Myers)

I suppose if you have an evil disposition, he might not be so bad. Unfortunately, you might be his favourite one day, only to find yourself on the outs the next. And, with Dr. Evil, on the outs might involve freakin sharks, with freaking laser beams on their heads. Not to mention that his evil plans are always foiled, virtually ensuring that you, the flunky, will have to take the fall.

Any other nominees?

After Lance, Scandal Reigns

Last week, I posted a lengthy article on Lance Armstrong and the accusations of doping that have hounded him throughout his career. Armstrong has always strongly denied the use of any kind of performance-enhancing drugs, but many still believe that he was dirty, and the majority of the riders on the Tour de France continue to be so.

This week came news that more than a dozen riders - including some of the riders expected to challenge for the Tour championship this year - have been kicked off the Tour after being implicated in a doping scandal that looks a lot like the BALCO probe that ensnared Barry Bonds and so many others.

According to MSNBC, the scandal is linked to Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor who was "arrested in May when police seized banned performance-enhancers at a Madrid doping clinic. Outgoing Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc said the Spanish investigators cited doping 'dosages' apparently prescribed" for top racers. Racers implicated and banned include two of the pre-race favourites: Jan Ullrich, who won the race in 1997 and who has finished second to Armstrong three times; and Ivan Basso winner of this year's Giro (the Tour of Italy) and second to Armstrong last year.

In both the BALCO probe and this year's tour scandal, it is clear that large scale operations exist to develop and disguise ever-better performance-enhancing drugs. And there is clearly a lucrative market to support them. The temptation to use them, when so many of your competitors anteammateses clearly aravailingng themselves, must be incredible.

As for Lance, many have remarked that he chose the perfect time to leave. And that does seem true - dirty or not, all the racers on the Tour will hear the doping whispers getting louder and louder as the race is overtaken.