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, April 30, 2007

Moss and Brady, Together at Last

I actually laughed out loud. The idea, the very idea, tickles me. The most over-hyped, over-credited QB in the game is going to be throwing to the most vilified WR out there.

Tom Brady meet Randy Moss.

On the surface, the trade is win-win-win-win. Brady gets a supremely talented target. Moss gets out of a quagmire in Oakland. Oakland gets rid of a disgruntled, underproductive player. New England gets a top receiver while giving up virtually nothing.

Of course, though, with a mercurial wide receiver in the mix, there is a lot more to the story. Will Moss shake his reputation as a selfish, me-first player? Or will his tempermental diva demeanor disrupt the Pats chemistry? Can the Patriots, with Moss on board, challenge the Colts to regain their place as the AFC's top team?

In any case, I'll be watching. Because, here's what I find so amusing - this trade presents quite the pickle for the NFL commentators. With Brady, the media fawns. They fall all over themselves to elevate the guy to demigod status, chatting up his football smarts, his big game wins, his supreme team-first selflessness. With commercials and endorsements second only to Peyton Manning's death grip on Madison Avenue, Brady is a golden boy. Any other player dumps his knocked-up fiancee for a supermodel and he'd be crucified in the press. Brady? Well, these things happen. He is untouchable. Moss on the other hand? The Sunday afternoon talking heads have decided he is the worst thing for football since OJ Simpson. Stunts and soundbites that would have been dismissed as entertaining hyperbole from, say, Terrell Owens, are seized upon as evidence of game-threatening bad attitude. Moss 'moons' the fans in Green Bay and Fox falls all over themselves to decry his desecration of the game of football. Moss walks off the sidelines with 30-seonds to go in a blow-out game, and rather than being seen as evidence of his hatred of losing, the move is considered to be abandonment of his noble teammates on the field of battle. Soldiers have been shot for less.

So, does the media stay on the Tom Brady bandwagon, or jump off because it will now be sullied by the presence of the hated Moss?

For me, I like Moss. I think he's incredibly talented and has been punished for his refusal to play ball with the media. He's tremendously entertaining when he wants to play. And under Belichick. I'm guessing he's going to really want to play. At least until November or so. This could be fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Draft Day - It's Coming Up

To non-sports fans, and even to some serious fans, the allure of NFL draft day is elusive. Hours upon hours of TV coverage of a bunch of suits pondering whether to go for the undersized safety or the QB who scored a 6 on his Wonderlic test. Even I can't claim to sit through the whole day - that's too much Chris Berman even for me - but sometimes those first few rounds make for some great drama. Like when a snot-nosed kid-brother QB lets it be known he'll refuse to play for the team with the number one pick. Or when the team with that blessed top pick passes up a game-changing running back and a not-so-bright but undeniably talented QB to shore up their defence - to howls of disbelief from fans.

But the real drama comes after the fact - when we get a good hard look at the real goods - and find out who really had the stuff to make it in the big leagues and who should have just stayed in college. That's the real test of the picks. Who found a diamond in the rough - a Zack Thomas in the 5th round, say? And who got totally hosed by pre-draft hype? It's a long list and MSNBC highlights the greatest of draft days mishaps here. No questions about that number one - Ryan Leaf was the number 2 pick of the draft in 1998, and many pundits had him going ahead of the actual number one pick, some guy named Peyton Manning. Manning's headed to the Hall of Fame. Leaf, not so much.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On Thin Ice

I used to be a full-on hockey girl.

Watched it.

Loved it.

Bled blue and white for my beloved Leafs.

Could have pontificated at length on the various fortunes of the players, owners, teams and rivalries. Lately, though, not so much. I'm not sure I could even name 5 of the current batch of Buds. Let's see - Sundin, Kaberle, McCabe... Tucker.... um... give me a minute.... the crap goalie - what's his name again? Raycroft. So that's 5. And that was painful.

As a kid, I watched hockey every single Saturday. There was no question about it - though we often did miss the second period to achieve household detente. You see, Love Boat was on Saturday night too, and we only had one TV (and no remote control either - so flipping involved actually getting up. Flipping was not an option). So, some Saturdays it was just the first and third periods, with some b-list celebrity cruising in between.

But, how I loved the game. I still remember getting a Rick Vaive t-shirt for Christmas one year - and wearing it for days in a row. My brother usually refused to play house - too girlie - but would sometimes play if he could be Daryl Sittler. We were just a Leaf household, through and through. Through the horrible, lean Harold Ballard years, when Leafs just sucked and sucked for most of the 1980s. Through to the resurgence of the early 1990s, on the shoulders of first Wendel Clark and then, oh then, on the teeny tiny shoulders of one Doug 'Killer' Gilmore. The early 1990s were just a grand time to be a Leaf fan. Under the management of Cliff Fletcher and the stern eye of coach Pat Burns, Dougie and the lads went deep into the playoffs in 1993 and 1994, only to see their dreams dashed by a Wayne Gretzky clip one year and the freaking Canucks the next.

The Stanley Cup dreams weren't to last. The Leafs traded Gilmore away, and much of the magic seemed to go with him. Sure, the Leafs made a run of it in 1998 with Pat Quinn and Curtis Joseph, but by then the clutch-and-grab, neutral-zone-trap style of hockey had spread from New Jersey across the league. Play was slower and duller. So were the Leafs.

Part of it, I think, was Sundin. Yes, yes, I know he's talented. Possibly the most purely talented Leafs captain in a generation. But I've never warmed to him. No matter how many hits he took, no matter how bruised and battered he looked, I just couldn't love him like I loved Dougie. And I'm not alone. Sundin has never gotten the fan props that his predecessors did. On some level, I think it has to do with our conception of Toronto. For all the Toronto-bashing, centre-of-the-universe crankiness that emerges from across the rest of Canada, on a world stage Toronto is really just the kid brother who wants to impress his big brother's friends. We're small, we're scrappy, we're over-eager and quite dorky. We have to be home before the streetlights come on. New York would never feel like the underdog, pushing and pushing to be seen as world class. They just are. But Toronto isn't, so we have to try harder. Like Dougie did. What was he, 5'8"? He pushed and tried and scrapped and dove and bled and did whatever it took. He was Toronto, reflected back to ourselves. He was, in Don Cherry's words, a good Canadian kid. Sundin - what does he reflect of Toronto? He's massive, preternaturally gifted, fast and fluid. It's all just a little too easy for Mats. So we'll never really love him.

But it isn't just the captain. The team, the league, the game, became less lovable at the turn of the century. Canada's great Olympic moment in 2002 in Salt Lake City was a joy to watch - reminding me of how fast and exciting the game could be. But the NHL just couldn't measure up. And when the lock-out cancelled a whole season, I have to say I didn't miss it all that much. I found other things to do with my Saturday nights. And I've never quite made it back.

Friends tell me I should - that the new rules have made the game better and faster, that Sidney Crosby is the new Gretzky, that there is more to the league than the Leafs. One can only hope. Because with the front office and ownership in place now, the Leafs are as far from the Cup as they've been in 40 years.

Maybe I should start watching the Senators, then. It couldn't be worse, could it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To be continued

Blogging will return... I promise... after this damn course if over.

In the meantime, watch Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll. It's absolutely ridiculous, in that creepy, voyeuristic, cheestastic reality-TV kind of way. How they found 9 girls who's lifelong dream was to tart themselves up as a backup singer/stripper is amazing to me. More amazing - the founder of the Pussycat Dolls is more tranny-like than even Tyra Banks. More amazing still - the choreographer is quite simply the girliest guy who ever lived. Miss jay from Top Model, totally butch next to this guy. Certainly, he's way girlier than any of the wannabe Pussycat Dolls. Yet more amazing - how host Mark McGrath gets through his lines without screaming "I used to be a rock star, damn it!! How did I get here?!?" And finally, most amazing, that 'Lil Kim is the official Paula Abdul of the judging panel - and gives the girls advice on what it takes to make it. Lots of plastic surgery and an affair with a heavy-set, married, soon-to-be-killed rapper? Nice.

Check it out. Even my friend Amy approves. Grab your feather boa and settle in.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Democracy just doesn't work.

I'm finding myself deeply amused by the uproar surrounding this season's American Idol results.

See, we all know that American Idol is a popularity contest. Plain and simple. Just like high school, really. The snarky mean kid tells you who to like and you're supposed to toe the line. Unfortunately American Idol doesn't want you to believe it's all a popularity contest. It wants you to believe it's about talent, that it is about finding the best singer, that Kelly Clarkson, Rueben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Carrie Underwood won purely on the strengths of their pipes and their dedication. Umm hmm. And Richard Hatch could really survive on a deserted island and wouldn't be eaten by a slow-witted snake in the first week.

And now, after last season's victory by the singularly unmarketable Taylor Hicks over Chris Daughtry and Katherine McPhee, the producers are sweating over this season. It's one thing to have kids with actual talent discarded early. Like he did with Jennifer Hudson and Daughtry, Simon Cowell can recant the criticism and say - "hey, we put them in finals, we always knew they were great. It's America who decides."

Well this year, American has decided to vote en masse for Sanjaya. Cute, harmless, talentless Sanjaya. And producers have no-one to blame but themselves. Though Cowell bitches about Sanjaya's baseless fan base, he can't deny that he and producers colluded to put the telegenic kid in the finals and to spend a heck of a lot of screen time on his 'story' in the early rounds. So now, Sanjaya has a big fan base and the support of and their own biggest fan, Howard Stern (Check this link for a great interview with the founder of votefortheworst). Apologists for the show argue that a Sanjaya win would destroy the show's integrity. But doesn't that assume the show had some to begin with?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Toronto International Film Festival: Creating Friendships, Saving Lives

You just never know how influential you can become.

Lots has been written about how the Toronto International Film Festival has become one the most important fests in the world. But it turns out there is more to TIFF's filmic impact than just predicting the Oscars.

Example 1. TIFF parties save the life of underpants-promoting rap star, future academy award nominee.
In 2001, Mark Wahlberg was scheduled to head from his home in Boston to LA. Instead, some friends (from his Entourage, maybe?) convinced him to hit Toronto and party it up TIFF-style. He did. And so he wasn't on his originally planned Boston-LA flight on the morning of September 11, 2001. That plane, of course, never made it Los Angeles. Which means Wahlberg was spared by a desire to party at Lobby? Eerie.

Example 2. Mr Rodriguez, meet Mr. Tarantino.
I'd heard the Wahlberg story before, but this other tidbit was news to me. As explained in Entertainment Weekly, gory auteurs and best pals Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino actually met on a TIFF panel about movie violence in 1992. Rodriguez was at the festival with El Mariachi; Tarantino brought a little film called Reservoir Dogs. As Tarantino puts it "We were the only two people dressed in black." Just like in high school, fashion choices can create life-long bonds. Here, they forged the start of 15-year friendship and a powerful creative collaboration. But since Rodriguez tends to write parts for Tarantino into his films, maybe this one's got a down side too.