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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bye Bye Tricia, Hello Jay!!

As noted previously, I watch way too much TV. And, clearly, I'm just a little too involved in it. How else to explain the glee I felt at this news:

New host for 'Canada's Top Model'
Oct. 31, 2006. 10:22 AM
Jay Manuel is taking over the hosting duties at ``Canada's Next Top Model." The Toronto native is already known to TV viewers for putting models through their paces on "America's Next Top Model," hosted by Tyra Banks.

That's Mr. Jay to you and me.

Hooray! Jay combines just the right amount of bitchy, with just a splash of diva (unlike Miss Jay who has clearly been marinating in diva for years). With his platinum locks, he's got the best hair on ANTM (not that much of an accomplishment, admittedly, given Tyra's tranny-light styles). And, unlike past Canadian host Tricia Helfer, Jay has the benefit of an actual range of emotion beyond cold, chilly, not quite warm and awkward.

Season 2 of Canada's next Top Model airs in the spring. Cannot wait!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bye, Bye Bledsoe

That's right, I'm calling it now - Dallas Cowboy (soon-to-be-backup) quarterback Drew Bledsoe should call it a career and retire at the end of this season.

The time has come. It's actually past the time for Drew to hang 'em up. Frankly, let's not sully a Hall of Fame career any further.

Trust me, Drew, this hurts me more than it hurts you. But I just can't watch you get sacked on the field and abused in the pressbox anymore. You and I both know that the sacks have more to do with a crappy-ass offensive line than your legendary immobility in the pocket. But why take the punishment? Why listen to fans chanting for Romo? It's time.

I have been a huge Drew Bledsoe fan since back in the Patriots days. And I thought the five-time pro-bowler was treated quite shabbily by Belichick and co., losing his starter's job to Tom Brady after an injury. But Belichick wanted a younger arm and didn't care how many dues Bledsoe had paid. So Brady's a Superbowl MVP and Drew has to listen to Terrell Owens bitch and whine all Sunday afternoon.

Bledsoe was pulled from Monday night's game at the half, and if Romo was anything like Vince Young the starter's job would be his. Romo is no Vince Young, so Bledsoe may have a few NFL starts left in him yet. But the writing is on the wall and it's time for Drew to move on. He couldn't get it done in Buffalo, and Dallas is looking dodgy. The end is nigh. And since drew is famously loath to mentor young quarterbacks, he seems like a bad pick to stick around as a backup. One look at him on the sidelines last Monday tells you all you need to know about his relationship with his young backup.

So, that's it folks. Bye bye Drew. It's been fun.

How to be the Most Hated Woman in Britain

Oh, Heather Mills.

How must it feel to be so vilified by so many? To marry a beloved Beatle (the cute one, or so I've read) just a little too soon after the death of his age-appropriate first wife and the sad end of one of the most famous and enduring love stories in music. In 25 years of marriage, Paul and his wife Linda spent just one week apart - that came when he was briefly in jail on drug charges (note to self: leave the bong at home when traveling to Japan). The Linda legacy was a lot to live up to - unless you count her singing in Wings. Okay, so maybe legacy is a stretch. But she wasn't Yoko, so Linda was not an easy act to follow.

At first, it seemed Heather had the goods. With a sympathetic story (a former model, she had one leg amputated after an accident) and hard work on the charity front (picking up on Princess Diana's campaign against landmines), Heather seemed like she could rise above the fray. Surely she could disprove the gold-digger accusations that arose from the more than 25-year difference in their ages. Oh, and the lack of a pre-nup. And that Stella and the other kids reportedly hated her.

Now, after 4 years and a child together, the marriage is kaput. And if Heather thought the British media and Paul's fans hated her before, oh man, is she in for a shock. Last week, the Daily Mail published leaked documents that claim Heather was abused by a cold, uncaring, drug-addled McCartney.

Okay. Let me be absolutely clear. It is never okay to hit. It is especially never okay to hit your spouse. Domestic violence is every kind of wrong. Yet somehow, reading the reports, inevitably accompanied by photos of Heather looking sourpussed as always, I had a very wrong thought. All that came to mind was the episode of The Simpsons in which Sideshow Bob is up for parole. To wit:

Selma: "Sideshow Bob tried to kill me on our honeymoon."
Bob's lawyer: "How many people in this court are thinking of killing her right now?"
A few spectators raise their hands.
Bob's lawyer: "Be honest."
Many more hands go up. Even Selma's sister Patty raises her hand: "Aw, she's always leaving the toilet seat up."

Very, very wrong, I know. But so is leaking hateful allegations that someday your child will read, just so you can get a few million more in the settlement. But no-one would do that, right?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Anyone but Iggy: the Precipitous Decline of Michael Ignatieff

Just what the hell happened here?

Just before the last election, the Liberal elite was elated to announce that they had convinced noted human rights expert, Harvard professor, sometime journalist and Important Thinker with A Very Big Brain(TM) - one Michael Ignatieff - to come home at last. He was parachuted into a cushy Toronto riding, spoke ardently about his Canadian roots, mused about his passion for public service and all seemed right with world. Here was the brilliant academic returning to Canada in triumph, to become a central figure in Paul Martin's government and a strong heir apparent, the future PM. Or so it seemed.

But Iggy couldn't seem to get his footing. The local riding association got seriously pissy about his parachuting in to bump their own candidate. The election campaign proved bruising and Iggy won, but emerged a little worse for wear. He was accused of being racist and elitist. Opponents dug up articles and quotes that illustrated 1) Iggy had supported the war in Iraq; 2) Iggy had condoned the use of torture by the American government; and 3) Iggy had come to consider himself an American, and to publicly present himself as such (the word 'we' would become to Ignatieff what the word 'is' once was to Bill Clinton). The Liberal party stalwarts can't have been thrilled. The Liberals lost power, Martin resigned and the party leadership campaign began.

Almost immediately, Ignatieff was cited as the frontrunner. He had the support of important party power brokers, he had a lot of money and he had, as noted above, A Very Big Brain. But once again, Ignatieff proved his own worst enemy, spouting off on all topics to the press, consequences be damned. Would he stay in Canada and in parliament if he lost the leadership? "Depends who wins." His opinion on the Middle East? Israeli attacks on Qana were either not worth losing sleep over, or a war crime. He's put his foot in it so often, momentum has shifted to an Anyone but Iggy position. Polls of Liberal Party members indicate he is in first place, but by much less than initially expected. Worse, he is almost no-one's second or third choice, indicating little room to move as candidates drop out at the Leadership Convention. Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Gerard Kennedy are now within spitting distance of the job originally anointed as Iggy's.

So what's the problem with Ignatieff? My take is that he is simply too used to being the smartest guy in the room. He takes his own council too seriously and dismisses the concerns of others too easily. He has the habit of making broad, pithy declarations that garner attention but may not be carefully thought out; he moves too quickly in an effort to prove how smart he really is. He knows how smart he is, and he wants you to know it too. It's petty, condescending and pointless - and its why he's screwed.

I had the chance to see him in action at his original nomination meeting in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Back then, the Trudeau comparisons were thick on the ground. And, yes, he was cerebral, arrogant and a bit mysterious. But his personal charisma in that room was much more reminiscent of John Kerry - he came across a chilly northeastern academic. Not much there to set the electorate afire. And that's why he will lose. If not the leadership than the next election. Canadians, who see smug-self-satisfaction as one of the worst of sins, are just going to hate this guy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wide Receivers Behaving Badly

What is it with wide receivers? They get a huge helping of attention and adulation. When they want a little more press, all they have to do is get a little creative with their touchdown celebrations (which may include but are not limited to the use of a cellphone, a sharpie or an endzone moon). Yet it seems all the attention and love is never enough. Because, once again, wide receivers were all over the news this weekend with their big attitudes and bad behaviour.

Terrell Owens mixed it up yet again, apparently getting into an altercation with Cowboys wide receiver coach Todd Haley. (See, I told you that guy had the worst job in football. The laundry guys get more respect). Haley's offence? Pointing out the T.O. was late to practice. Again.

Then there are the wide receiving corps of the Oakland Raiders. First off, it is important to note that Oakland sucks. They really, really, really suck. There is no question about their degree of suckiness. San Francisco, who apparently only really, really suck, beat them two weeks ago. That's just downright bad. Randy Moss said as much, and suggested he wouldn't mind a trade. Of course, the media, who hate Moss for refusing to play their game, jumped all over him. But, this week, Moss' fairly benign observation that his team sucks was nothing compared to the antics of his teammate Jerry Porter. Porter, who demanded a trade in the pre-season and who has yet to play in a game this year, was suspended for 4 games for 'conduct detrimental to the club'. Basically, it's a showdown between coach Art Shell and Porter. Shell figures, like Jon Gruden and Andy Reid before him, it's time to take a stand against a whiney bitch of a player.

So for now, Owens and Moss are still in, and Porter's out. But players like Porter, Keyshawn Johnson and Owens always seem to find another team willing to take a chance on a game-breaking receiver with a bad attitude. Me, I'd take a Marvin Harrison over a Terrell Owens any day. But I'm not the one with season tickets and commercial time to sell. And you've got to admit, these crazy-ass wide receivers make Sundays a lot more unpredictable and a bit more fun.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Studio 60 - Sports Night Redux?

I've been watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

I know I shouldn't. I know I have a problem, but I just can't help it. I know it'll probably get cancelled, leaving me a sad shell of a viewer, jonesing for a show I can't have. After all, it has happened before. Years ago, I fell in with Aaron Sorkin and, back then, I got burned. I tried out a little show called Sports Night and before long it was a deep, absorbing addiction. Sports Night was Sorkin's perfect gem of a first tv show. It was smart and funny, with characters I loved and a refreshingly frenetic pace. Despite the talents of a pre-Desperate-Housewives Felicity Huffman and a pre-Six-Feet-Under Peter Krause, it couldn't last. And it didn't. ABC axed the show after just two seasons.

I tried again with the West Wing, but my heart wasn't really in it. Sure, the dialogue was whip-smart and the cast was mostly stellar, but the presence of icky 80s relic Rob Lowe kept me from really diving in. And its a good thing. The show started to struggle. Sorkin was caught with drugs. Worse, from the studio's perspective, his scripts were late and the show was slipping in the ratings. Sorkin was canned and the show lasted two more Sorkin-less seasons before bowing out.

So I was nervous. I was torn. Should I try Studio 60 or not? I think it was Matthew Perry what got me. I do love him so. So now, 4 episodes in, I think I'm on the way to a full-blown Sports-Night-style addiction. Dammit. And unless the ratings pick up, I'm totally screwed. So watch it. Please. For me?

I know it's not a perfect show. The sketch comedy from the show-within-a-show is almost shockingly unfunny. But then so is SNL. And it could get better; maybe Sorkin will let sketch comedy vets Nate Corddry and D.L. Hughley help him out. It's true too that the show's pop culture barometer is a bit off. Sarah Paulson's impressions of Holly Hunter and Juliette Lewis were spot on, but neither star is exactly on the top of the 2006 Hot List. That's okay - we can give Sorkin some time to catch up. Right? Just a little time? Please?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Answers to Week 2's Big Questions

Just a few short weeks ago, I posed some burning questions that were raised by play on opening Sunday. And by week 5, we have some answers!

NFL Week 2: Big Questions

1) Will Bledsoe shape up before TO loses it?
No. Poor, poor Drew Bledsoe. His kingdom for an offensive line. And some ear plugs.

2) What effect will the Branch trade have on Tom Brady?
New England is 4-1, but by no means are they the dominant team they were a few years ago. They've struggled against bad teams (hello, Buffalo) and stepped it up for big games (good-bye Cincinnati). Brady's passer rating is 88.2, a full 10 points lower than the past two years. His completion percentage is the lowest its been since his first year in the league. He isn't dying out there, but oh yeah he misses Branch.

3) How long until Vince Young is starting in Tennessee?
Not long at all. He was in there by week 4. And looking damn good by week 5 at Indianapolis. Bye, bye Kerry Collins. Bye bye.

4) What is Mario Williams gonna have to do to silence the haters?
More that this: 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks on a bottom-feeder team. On first-place New Orleans (that's right, I said first-place New Orleans), Reggie Bush struggled a bit until this week. A 65-yard punt-return TD marked the first step in the right direction. Poor, poor Mario Williams.

5) Which QB sucks the most?
Still Chris Simms. Yes, he played with a damaged spleen. Very gutsy. He still sucks. In terms of guys actually on the field in week 5? Jake Plummer's stats are not a pretty thing. He sucks too.

Now that's some football!

Watched one of my can't-miss games of the season yesterday - and what do ya know, this one actually didn't miss!

Sunday's Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys match-up marked Terrell Owens' first return to Philadelphia since being suspended and released by the team for a very, very bad attitude. In the meantime, he's signed with Dallas, missed a whole bunch of practices, broken his finger, possibly (or possibly not) tried to OD on a bunch of pain pills, dropped way too many passes, had some vintage sideline hissy fits and made it pretty damn clear (to me) that he is not the player he used to be.

I'm not saying that TO is washed up. I'm saying that, right now, he's not playing like he can. Maybe he is more hurt than we've heard, maybe he is tired, maybe the media circus is finally hampering instead of helping him. But yesterday, he dropped balls, seemed to run routes that surprised his QB and made some pretty half-assed attempts at the ball. And that's when he even got near the ball. For most of the game, he served as a decoy to keep Philly from triple-teaming Terry Glenn. Given that Fox hyped the TO-McNabb story to no end - they even had a little arrow to show us where number 81 was lined up each play - Owens virtually a non-factor. The Philly fans ate it up - they loved every misstep and delighted in seeing Owens struggle while Donovan McNabb made it all look so easy.

You gotta feel for the Dallas Cowboys. They were pretty good last year. They would have been pretty good this year. But now, it's all about TO. And in the course of the game, I came to see to see who we should really feel badly for. It isn't really coach Bill Parcells, though he fixed a few death stares during the game. It isn't even QB Drew Bledsoe, who, due to the combination of a sieve-like o-line and a dominant Philly defense spent half the game on his ass. Nope - I have officially found the guy with the worst job in football. It's one Todd Haley, wide receiver coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys and evident object of TO's wrath every time the big-game receiver left the field empty-handed. Owens seethed, whined and screamed at his coordinator the entire second half of the game. Yeah, yeah, he was wide open. Yeah, yeah, the drop wasn't his fault. Yeah, yeah, he is the greatest of all time.

Seems to me that somewhere in Oakland, Randy Moss would kill to be where TO is right now. And he might even appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Harry Potter and the Burning of Books

Holden Caulfield, Atticus Finch, Huck Finn, Lady Chatterley, Harry Potter. Banned, baby, banned.

People have tried to ban books almost since the invention of the written word. Concerned parents have long targeted Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Lady Chatterley's Lover. The sins of these books? Profanity, sexuality, rebellion - you name it. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl has been challenged due, unbelievably, to sexual content. Forget 1984, Brave New World and Slaughterhouse Five - violence, sex, communism, completely unacceptable! Even Judy Bloom and Robert Munsch have seen their books banned.

And, now, sadly, dear Harry Potter.

A suburban mom from Georgia has asked her school board to ban all the Harry Potter books from its schools. According to The Star, one "Laura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction series is an 'evil' attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion."


It isn't the first attempt on Harry's life, and it won't be the last, but, man does it raise my hackles. This chick wants to take the Harry, Hermione and Ron away. Not just from her kids, mind you. From the whole neighbourhood. From your kids. And she thinks that it is the school board's job to do so. Even assuming the books do promote Wicca - who wouldn't want to play Quiddich and sic a Dementor on their cousin? - Ms. Mallory's request to ban them is still disturbing. It's not the just the idea of banning a book that bothers me - it's the idea of banning these ones that drives me nuts. The thing is, the Harry Potter books are phenomenonon. They actually get kids - boys especially to read. Boys, READING!! And some parents actually relish the opportunity, reading the books with their kids. And more than just getting kids reading, the books actually have important messages about friendship, trust, believing in yourself, loyalty and courage. Reading expands the mind, creating thoughtful people who question and grow. Maybe Ms. Malloy is right; that's some dangerous stuff.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gilmore Girls, minus 1

Too much football on the blog lately? Hankering for some girlier stuff? Well, then, today is your day. It's Tuesday, which means it's time for Gilmore Girls!

Sigh. I loved Gilmore Girls. I thought what we had was real. I loved the zippy banter. I loved the quirky but loving relationship between Lorelei and Rory. I loved that Rory was unapologetically smart and shy. I loved the loopy Stars Hallow denizens. I loved to hate Emily and Richard (forget an Emmy for Lauren Graham, where is Kelly Bishop's statuette?). I loved Tuesday nights. It was all one delightful, super-caffeinated, pop-culture-fueled hour of girlie joy.

Until last season. I didn't mind the Rory-Lorelei rift (it was time). I didn't mind Rory uncharacteristically dropping out of Yale to become a mini-Emily (well, why not go there?). I didn't even really mind Rory's inexplicable attraction to Logan - or as I call him, Tristan 2.0 (for those not quite as obsessed with past seasons as I am, Tristan was a ne'er-do-well rich kid who pined for Rory at Chilton and tried to steal her from Dean. Played by Chad Michael Murray, he could be Logan's slightly more surly doppleganger). No, the reason I found last season insufferable was the utter lobotomization of Lorelei and Luke. He is too freaked out to tell his fiancee he has a long-lost daughter? It didn't come up over breakfast? Like, he wouldn't mention a weird little girl showing up at the diner to perform a DNA test? For months and months? Who would do that? And more importantly, who would put up with that kind of shizz? Not our Lorelei. Oh, but wait, she totally did put up with it. And then, having waited and waited and waited, finally begged Luke to marry her so she could finally wear the fugliest dress in the history of weddings.


So, I was more than a little annoyed at creator Amy Sherman-Palladino for messing with my beloved Lorelei, making her weak and pathetic and mockable - and for making Luke such a dunce that I started to believe Lorelei really should wind up with Christopher. I started to wonder if the appearance of April meant they'd finally jumped the shark.

Even so, I didn't want things to end like this. Palladino and her husband Dan, who together have written and directed some of Gilmore's best episodes, left the series when the WB wouldn't meet her contract demands. Now that is a problem. Palladino was the heart of the show; if you've seen her interviewed, you'll know that, in many ways, she was Lorelei. She was the source of the zip, the patter, the oddball sensibility. And now she's gone. We're down one Gilmore Girl.

So, it was with serious trepidation that I watched last week's season premiere. Sookie and Michel arm wrestling? Weirdly out of character, and not in a good way. Banter? Snappy but not smart. Lorelei and Rory playing racquetball? Never, ever, ever! Why oh why? Emily and Richard? MIA. The episode felt a little slow and stilted - and even missed on the emotional highlight. Despite Scott Peterson's best efforts, the denouement between Luke and Lorelei - the one we waited a whole summer, and then a whole hour, for fell kind of flat.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Maybe Palladino wasn't as central as I think. But last week's episode missed the emotional mark with me, by playing too cutesy with some characters and not respecting others. Will it get better? I hope so. For the last season, I'd hate the Girls to go limping out. C'mon CW, bring back Amy Sherman-Palladino for the finale and all is forgiven.