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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Censorship? What Censorship?

So, IOC officials have now confirmed that the Chinese government is limiting access to certain websites during the Olympics. Up to now, both China and the IOC had insisted that censorship would not be an issue at these games.

If only there was some way to have predicted this. I mean, who could possibly have guessed that a regime that rolled tanks over Tiananemen Square would stoop to restricting net access to media and athletes during the Olympics?

Let's not kid ourselves. It's going to get worse. In the next two weeks, and during the games themselves, China will tighten its grip on the Olympic coverage to ensure that only the officially sanctioned version of the event reaches the west. No protesting Tibetans. No Chinese drug cheats. Just a little brutal, totalitarian oppression. And IOC - a bit totalitarian themselves, if you ask me - will turn a blind eye and argue that they aren't a 'political' organization, that it isn't there place to say anything.

Nope, nothing political about the Olympics at all. Germany 1936. Moscow 1980. Los Angeles 1984. China over Toronto for 2008. No politics at all.

Wouldn't it be nice if just once the IOC used its power to do something other than sell sneakers?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Then again, this is probably worse...

So long as I'm judging my own pop culture tastes and inviting others to ridicule same, why not overshare a little more:

Here's the thing... I'm a little sad about the new 90210. Not that they're doing it. Not that they're making it look like Gossip Girl: West Beverly Edition. But rather that they are bringing back the girls, so we can see where they are now.

And where they are seems pretty lame to me.

Now, I take my beloved characters seriously. I want things to turn out how I want them. So things like the afterward to the last Harry Potter bug the crap out of me.

In this case, while I couldn't care less what happened to Brenda or, ugh, Donna, I just know they're going to mess with my bff Kelly Taylor. The casting news says it all. No Brandon. No Dylan. No great, long-lived romance for our girl Kelly. Just a new gig as a guidance counsellor. Let's be honest - and no offense to real guidance counsellors - but that job was lame when Buffy did it.


But not as lame as the fact that I actually care about it...

Is it wrong...

... that I'm more than a little excited to see Sisterhood of Travelling Pants 2?

And does it say something concerning about my cinematic taste that I have seen both Sex and the City and Mamma Mia but have yet to see The Dark Knight?

Seriously, I'm judging myself here.

On the Sisterhood, though, I have to admit I'm totally amused by the marketing angle that plays up Blake Lively's Gossip Girl connection. The complete unknown from the first film is now front and centre in ads for the second. Wonder how that makes Alexis Bledel, who was the most well-known of the four the first time around, feel? About as good as watching her ex-boyfriend date his 18-year-old Heroes castmate, I guess. Poor, poor Rory.

Update: Saw The Dark Knight. Yes, it was very good. But is it my imagination or, every once in a while, did Health Ledger start to sound like Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Just me, right?

Lessons from the Brett Favre Affair

1. Never announce your retirement at the end of a long, punishing season. Wait a while until your bones stop hurting, and to see if that old 'itch' returns. If the prescription powder doesn't take the itch away, then you play another year. No harm, no foul.

2. Don't believe anything Brett Favre says about retirement, ever.

3. It sucks to be Aaron Rodgers. When he was drafted in 2005, he was touted as a top-ten pick, maybe even a number one. Went 24th (18 spots behind Pacman Jones, in case you're interested). That's gotta be a long afternoon. Still, he's in the NFL and learning from a superstar. Then, after a few seasons holding Brett's clipboard, Rodgers gets the official status as starting QB for the Packers. Dream come true. Now, his life is back to being all about Brett Favre. How much you want to bet he has a Brett Favre voodoo doll at home?

4. Brett Favre is a gun-slinging championship quarterback. He is also kind of a dillhole.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tee Hee

This Freakonomics post made me laugh out loud. First, because Dubner thinks the Economist has made a mistake when they haven't, second because he makes this mistake in a post all about writers' mistakes and third, because the commenters seem to get an almost unseemly amount of joy from correcting him. One even suggests he made the mistake on purpose to make the whole thing a bit meta.

Irony is fun...

Fit or Fat

Okay, this is interesting...
A few days ago, I saw a blog posting on Calorie Lab's ranking of fattest States. (My observation: Perhaps southern BBQ isn't so good for you after all). Then along came a post that applied similar metrics to Canada. The surprising thing? It says we Canadians are actually a good deal better off than pretty much all of the American states. At first I was shocked - having seen no shortage of less-than-svelte folks sitting at the local mall foodcourt. But then I remembered walking around Orlando last year... and decided we probably aren't so bad after all.

Source: David Eaves, via Richard Florida's blog

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Anne Eternal

On Canada Day long weekend, I started reading Anne of Green Gables to my 7-year-old niece (and her 5-year-old sister, who seemed less enthralled and more squirmy). It had been years since I'd read the book myself - but when I was 12, I must have read it dozens of times.

I loved that Anne was quirky, funny, overly dramatic and not all that enamoured with her own freckly appearance. I can't imagine a fictional character with whom I could have so closely identified. I just loved her, and her over-the-topic poetic imagination, gentle hometown, bosom friend Diana and destined-to-be love Gilbert. Plus she was Canadian.

As I read the first few chapters aloud the other week, I was surprised at how much fun it still was. And how much my niece enjoyed it.

Turns out, this is Anne's 100th birthday, and a few other people are taking note too.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Hear, Hear

Here's Alan Cross' take on Entertainment Weekly's recent list of the 100 best albums of the last 25 years.

For my part, Cross has it pretty much all right. Entertainment Weekly, on the other hand? Well, it's hard to argue with Purple Rain at number one. But Achtung Baby in the top 10 instead of The Joshua Tree? Was Achtung Baby not simply the beginning of the end for U2's authenticity? MTV Unplugged instead of Nevermind? What the frack? It's as if the editors said "OK, what artists should be on this list? Great, now what's their second best album? Let's put that so we seem all different and edgy."

Other notable missteps? Cross highlights a few - 10. Licensed to Ill. Bloodsugarsexmagic. Automatic for the People. Definitely Maybe. Violator. Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup. Yup.

Anything else that's there that shouldn't be? Cat Power at 13? Really? Appetite for Destruction as low as number 30, just ahead of Justin freaking Timberlake? Really? Really?!?

I know that these lists are created to fuel debate. But this one seemed so overly manufactured to create dissent that it left me more irritated than interested.

Is it Canada, or Something Else

Cito Gaston's semi-triumphant return to his role as manager of the craptastic Toronto Blue Jays has got me wondering.

Joe Torre has won 4 championships as a manager. For this, he has been lionized as one of the greats of the game. In 2007, he lost the divisional series and left his job as the Yankee's manager, turning down a one-year contract with a pay cut. In big-league terms, he was a good as fired. He was snapped up by the Dodgers within two weeks.

Cito Gaston has two world series rings (back-to-back, let us not forget). That means he has the same number of championships as legends like Tony 'steroids, what steroids' LaRussa, Tommy Lasorda and Billy Martin. Bobby Cox, the forth winningest manager in baseball history, has just one championship.

So why has Cito gotten so little love and so little respect from the U.S. media and the baseball establishment? Sure, his '92 and '93 Jays teams were stacked with talent. But like the Yankees weren't? I could have managed the '98 Yankees to the big win and so could you.

After Gaston was fired in 1997, he was offered a few interviews but no jobs. Finally, he gave up having to prove himself, and seemingly, on managing in the bigs. I'll admit Cito left the Jays after some dismal seasons... but surely this is a guy he deserves more credit than he's gotten.

So the question is... is Cito's lack of props due to the fact that he managed a team that plays in such a low-profile backwater? Or is there some other reason?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Few Random Tidbits

Alex Rodriguez and Madonna?

Really?I guess it makes sense. He does have a thing for 'muscular' blond women. And she has a thing for athletes (and singers, and actors, and dancers, and lesbian models and comedians, and, oh never mind). Initial stories out of New York had the Yankees slugger gifting Madge with tickets to a game (innocent enough) and making a few late night visits to her apartment (somewhat less innocent, me thinks, unless they spent the time talking about their respective spouses or Jose Canseco). In any case, lots of folks dismissed the story as so much unfounded gossip. Now though, it gets juicier though. A-Rod and his muscular blond wife Cynthia have split, three months after the birth of their second child and amid reports that the erstwhile Mrs. Rodriguez has been spending some quality time with Lenny Kravitz. Of course, Lenny and Madonna once knew each other pretty well too. So tacky. So A-Rod. So many happy Red Sox fans.

The Un-Retirement

Seems Brett Favre is experiencing the 'itch'. I think there are over-the-counter powders that can take care of that, no? Oh wait. Different itch. This itch is to play some football. Shocking! The guy who has made a late-career tradition of generating will-he-or-won't-he retirement talk for the last 5 freaking years may not be done with the game. Thing is, though, I think the Pack are pretty much done with him. I believe this one when I see it.

Jen's Award Show Outrage

I finally got around to watching Brokeback Mountain. It was my pride weekend activity. For some reason, the weary hubby took a pass on the viewing. In any case, I so loved this film. I loved Heath Ledger. I loved Jakey G (big shock, I know). I loved the story, the characters, Wyoming. I had a quiet ache for several days after it was over. I cried. A lot. Then I thought about the fact that this beautiful film actually lost out on the Academy Award to the insipid let's-all-be-friends-even-though-we're-all-actually-racist parable Crash. On what planet is that possible? Why? Why!?! Stupid academy.