Thursday, June 30, 2005


I think the blog is taking a vacation again for a few days.

And uh, happy birthday, PAM!!! Read any good books lately, Ms. Anderson?


Karla Homolka did not get what she wanted.

She wanted some media ban put in place to keep people from reporting her big release from jail. Well, the court did the right thing and said no to that.

Now the media is in a frenzy, staking out the jail and chasing after prison vehicles and paddywagons, all in an attempt to be the first to report her big release.

It's times like this that our media looks and act pretty much like the Americans. And we thought we were all above this sort of stuff, that Canadians weren't into reporting tabloid crime news. I guess not.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Movie theatre attendance is down at all the cinemas. They're blaming DVDs and the recent offering of really lousy movies for the dropoff.

Caught up in the malaise is the Ron Howard boxing movie Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe as Jim Braddock. The Depression-era movie was shot in Toronto and has been getting rave reviews from the critics. In fact it's getting talked up for the Oscar. But the box office has been a flop. This movie was made for $88 million but it's only made $50 million and now some theatres are starting to pull the flick.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. AMC, an American movie chain, is offering a money back guarantee on Cinderella Man. They say that this movie is so good they guarantee it, or you get your money back. On the spot.

You can bet what will happen, thousands of moviegoers will go to Cinderella Man and walk out in supposed disgust, and then they'll get their money back and then waste it on a real, true clunker. Genius marketing by AMC. I haven't seen Cinderella Man yet but I ought to, since it was shot in TO. Got to support the local industry, you know.

Personally, I'm of the opinion the reason why movie attendance is down has a lot to do with a slate of lousy movies and less to do with DVDs or any of that. It seems like every movie I've seen this year has been a clunker, except for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The main problem is there's not much originality out there, it's Remake Central. I saw The Longest Yard, too, and laughed like a hyena, but that movie wasn't so original. And I never did see the umpteenth Star Wars flick, I should go see it. The one I was disappointed with was Bewitched. I loved the old TV series and watched it when I was a kid; it may have been a stupid show but it had charm to it. But the movie has no charm and is three times as stupid. Will Ferrell was out of control as he usually is, but he was stuck in a terrible movie. When you remake a bad TV show, you get a bad movie.

Later this year they're gonna have yet another remake of yet another bad TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard. What's next, a remake of Three's Company? How about Gilligan's Island?!?! Starring Adam Sandler as Gilligan?! Yecch.

(Actually I hear that what actually IS next is a remake of Get Smart. I hope it's good.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Well, I've been changing the fonts and adding a few things over to the side there, here at the CAIRNS BLOG, but my ranting and raving continues unabated.

Lately, I've gotten interested again in Hollywood and in California, generally. Maybe it's because the weather around here recently has been California-hot, with plenty of heat and a lot of smog. It's unbearable, but it's better than the freezing cold.

I might as well say this off the bat. I want to live in California! I want to live the LA lifestyle with the palm trees and all that, and hang out with girls. There, that's my declaration for the day. See, I grew up in a cold and miserable place on the Prairie so that explains my pent-up desire to go somewhere like California, plus I happen to like the place after visiting LA a couple of times. Plus, they have real baseball fans in California, not these bandwagon- jumpers they have in Toronto.

Potential problems are drive-by shootings, earthquakes and a terrible transit system. Rats. Maybe I'd be better off in New York, where the transit system there is a lot better. But that place is loaded with criminals and other scoundrels.

One link I have added is to a web site called Hollywood Momentum. I read about it in Creative Screenwriting magazine. It's basically designed for these Hollywood assistants who are trying to climb up the ladder there in Tinseltown. Quite a few of these assistants have a background similar to mine, which I find interesting: they either have law degrees or worked somewhere in television for a news program or something, or even worked in politics. In fact there's tons of assistants in Hollywood who worked in politics in Washington D.C. The similarities are quite pronounced: in both politics and in Hollywood the assistants have to work for low wages to help make their high-profile bosses look good. And in both cases they're working for people who wield a lot of power. I see a lot of similarities.

Anyway, check it out. I happen to have a family connection to Hollywood who keeps telling me how terrible the business is and how it's not so glamourous. Starting out, well, it sure isn't. But he works on the actual day to day end of things on the actual productions, not the "management" track that these assistants are part of. So he has maybe a different perspective.

Anyway that's that for that. More later.

UPDATE: Here's an article on some lawyer guys who quit being lawyers so they could be writers in Hollywood for shows like Law and Order and NYPD Blue.


Well, our continuing coverage of Nancy Grace continues on the CAIRNS BLOG.

Tonight on her CNN Headline News show she was on her usual rampage again. But guess who Nancy was going after tonight.

She was going after one of the locals.

You guessed it.
KARLA HOMOLKA, who's going to be released from prison pretty soon. Karla is so infamous that CNN feels it's got to join 640 Toronto, the Toronto Sun and the usual media outlets in providing saturation coverage of this story.

And you know, who can really blame Nancy Grace for going nuts about this case? I guarantee you this, if she had worked for the Ministry of the Attorney-General in the Province of Ontario she would NEVER have allowed that lousy plea deal to turn Karla loose to happen.

Never in a million years.


Big news. You may have heard that Miss America got kicked off ABC and drummed off of network television, and that the whole pageant was in trouble and possibly would go out of business because it had no TV deal. Well, never fear, because it's been rescued.

Miss America has made a long-deal with Viacom which will put the pageant on CMT for January 2006 and January 2007. CMT!? That's that country-music video channel! They figure, from what I gather, that Miss America appeals to middle America and all these country-music fans, so that's why it supposedly makes sense to put it on CMT. CMT's beloved by the Red States, you know.

I don't know what other changes they have in store; I suppose we'll see once the pageant airs. But frankly I've never been a big fan of Miss America. I guess it used to be pretty exciting when they'd announce the winner and she'd walk down that runway in Atlantic City with the crown on her head, with Bert Parks singing and all the flashbulbs going off, but frankly that was the only part of the pageant that was any good. I've always preferred the Miss Universe pageant, because (a) the women are muchos better-looking, and (b) they don't bother with the stupid talent competitions or stupid rules that the Miss America Pageant has. Over the years the Miss America Pageant contestants had to wear the ugliest one-piece swimsuits imaginable, while also wearing high heels! And the talent competitions were pretty dumb as well, although lately they've improved. The low point was when they fired Vanessa Williams for posing for those photos that ended up in Penthouse. They should NEVER have fired Vanessa Williams! Vanessa was simply the greatest Miss America of all time- she had beauty, brains, and real talent, AND she was sexy! She was the total package; who cared that she was also African-American and making history, just by being Miss America! And these clowns went and CANNED her in mid-term! (I know, I know; she, uh, "resigned".) That tells you all you need to know about this phony competition. It's small-town America's idea of what the perfect woman ought to be and frankly, I think they're pretty clueless.

The latest piece of phoniness from the Miss America organization is that they force these contestants to run on a platform or something and all I got to say about that is these women are better off advancing their issues by running for President or something. That's yet another reason why I don't take this pageant seriously anymore. I'm sure these are all terrific women, and I hope they all put to good use all that scholarship money they get out of this, but this pageant sucks.

See, this is another example of me being out of touch with the Red States, even though I used to live right next door to one (North Dakota). The Red States love their NASCAR, their country and western music, and their Miss America. And they don't want to see MAXIM or FHM in their Wal-Marts, don't want to see any of that filth from Hollywood, and they go to church every Sunday. Culturally, I've got nothing in common with them. I guess that makes me a Blue-State Conservative-type person, but I sure as heck ain't sounding like much of a conservative today.

CMT can have the Miss America Pageant as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Another classic CNN show departs the scene, unfortunately.

You know, it's sad that the Capital Gang is leaving the air, it was one of my favorite CNN shows for obvious reasons (politics, etc.). But it sure sounds as if the cast of characters wanted to go their separate ways and go do other things anyway. So the show sort of died of natural causes.

Kind of like the breakup of the Beatles. Maybe not.


I found this story on the state of local TV newscasts and their coverage of sports. Basically, it's not good news.

The time alloted to the sports segment has been getting cut from newscasts right across America. To a lesser extent it's happening in Canada; I know for a fact that the sports segments have been getting cut at the CBC. But then local news has also been getting cut at the CBC. I think, overall, it's much more of an American problem.

I watch a lot of local newscasts and I notice that sports has been shrinking. When you tune into the stations from sports-crazy Buffalo, you notice it. The link I gave you was to New Orleans, and from what I know of New Orleans (by listening to WWL 870 during the football season), the place is a crazy sports town with huge interest in football. Basically, that's all that people care about down there. If they're cutting back on sportscasts on TV in a place like New Orleans, well, then, it's bad right across America.

Frankly, if I were an aspiring sportscaster today I'd forget about local TV and go straight to all-sports radio and the cable channels. They're better places to be, generally, and I think the upward mobility is a lot better. That's where the most potential growth is right now. The best thing about being in an all-sports environment is that you don't have to deal with news directors or colleagues who hate sports and don't understand the culture of sports. They think these sports fans who go crazy over the Leafs are completely nuts and that it's more important to cover serious issues, like crime and car wrecks and my personal favorite, City Council!!

Len Berman is a longtime New York sportscaster and he claims in a book he just wrote that lots of news directors just don't care about sports. News takes an absolute priority at these TV stations. Frankly, I haven't met a lot of serious newspeople who've been very much into sports. Some are, though- I know Brian Williams of NBC News keeps bragging about being a NASCAR fanatic- but a lot aren't. The one thing I noticed about newspeople is that they seem to absolutely believe everyone should be following the news no matter what, ahead of everything else, and that anyone who doesn't read newspapers or watch serious newscasts should be ashamed of themselves for being such ill-informed dolts. Whenever I was doing news I always got the impression that these news people expected you to be interested in these boring news stories you were doing, and if you weren't, well, what is wrong with you? It was sort of held as a strike against you. That sort of thing.

They cannot imagine that other subjects might matter more to people, like sporting events. The consultants agree, claiming sports gets the lowest viewership of any portion of the newscast, way worse than news or weather. And there are other excuses, like the fact that you can get highlights from ESPN and cable networks. Personally, though, I do not want to see sports cut from the newscasts. Sports is the best part of the newscast! The only portion that even comes close in my book is the weather segment during hurricane season in a place like Miami. But fortunately I don't live in Miami. Still, hurricane coverage would have sports pretty much beat, largely because the sporting events in the area would be pretty much cancelled.

I've always enjoyed tuning in to hear these sportscasters on the local news go do their highlight thing. I don't want to see city council meetings and car wrecks all the time.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


The Live 8 concert to fight world poverty is certainly a worthy cause by Bob Geldof and a great international event, but the Canadian portion of it promises to be, well, a big letdown.

The reasons are many. Everyone remembers the great SARSTOCK concert with the Rolling Stones and everyone else ( frankly, AC/DC stole the whole show ) and what a great event it was. People were hoping this Live 8 concert would be equally fabulous with some appearances by some famous rockers.

Well, instead of getting big appearances by the Stones, Avril Lavigne, or anyone famous or half-decent, we're getting... Gordon Lightfoot and Burton Cummings and other geezers from the '70s.

People have been ranting and raving about what a letdown this concert is and Bill Brioux is just one of the many trashing this effort.

Frankly, though, there aren't many acts out there who might be an improvement on the lineup they got. I'm trying to think of some big youthful Canadian names who could appear at this thing and frankly I don't think there are too many who've made it big in recent years. The ones who have are people like Shania Twain, but who wants to see her again, yecch. And I have no interest in Avril Lavigne. They do have Celine Dion, but who wants to see her.

Still, these critics have a point when they rip the lineup for Live 8. Personally, I am not excited about the prospect of seeing Gordon Lightfoot or any of these so-called legends. I want to see something current. No big drawing-cards here.

The other reason people are disappointed is because the event went to Barrie, Ontario instead of Downsview Park. So instead of being a fabulous, memorable event that could rival the 2003 Stones concert, it's going to be held in front of 35,000 people in a city that isn't called Toronto. So everyone in Toronto is thumbing their noses at Barrie and calling it Hicksville, but then again Toronto completely screwed up by not making the arrangements in time to get in the running for the event.

All in all I have to say that I decided to skip Live 8. I went to that great Stones concert because I knew that it would be absolutely the greatest concert ever assembled, something you could tell your grandkids about.

But who wants to fight the traffic to go to Barrie to see Gordon Lightfoot!?! Really.


And thank G for that because I don't think I could have taken any more of Movie Night in Canada! Saturday nights on CBC have been rescued!

My life as a sports fan is officially back to normal.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


As you know I link often to TVNewser and often find valuable articles over there, so I credit that site again for alerting me to this profile of Alexis Glick, who some are speculating could take over for Katie Couric on the struggling Today Show. Boy, has Katie's stock ever fallen fast. The ratings are going south over at the Today Show and now Katie's being blamed and called a diva. Well that's television for you, eh?

You know what happens to anchors when the ratings go down: the bosses get some hired guns and rub you out out a la Howard Beale. Not a pleasant business.

Alexis Glick hasn't been in TV all that long, she's a reporter for CNBC from the floor of the Stock Exchange. In fact she was Maria Bartiromo's replacement on the floor, and Maria was an absolute legend. So Alexis has a big job at CNBC. In fact, before she went to CNBC she was a big head trader on Wall Street. I guess she got tired of all the stress on the Street and thought TV would be more fun.

Anyway, that's good that she's getting good press. About time people in business news had good things happen to them.

In other news Fox News apparently is ready to go ahead with its long-rumored plans to launch a business news channel pretty soon and Roger Ailes is apparently going to head the whole thing up. This is good. I think it's officially safe to look for jobs in business news again, now that the economy has improved. CNBC had better have a lot of its people under contract, because the raids are bound to start soon. (I heard that they tied up most of their big star anchors to long-term contracts and the like anyway.)

And finally it's a big news day at The New VR in Barrie, because Barrie got the Live 8 concert and not grumbling Toronto. So VRLand gets to feel important and I'm sure Lance Chilton (New VR anchor, formerly MuchMusic VJ) will be pleased. I know, this has nothing to do with business news, but I had to mention it because it's big news around here.

That's it, the blog is finally going back to sleep again for a few days.


There will not be a lockout in the NBA. Commissioner David Stern and union head Billy Hunter announced a six-year tentative deal today. Main news is they set the draft age limit at 19.

I have to give everyone in the NBA credit for this on both sides. This league has had an excellent record for settling labour disputes (only work stoppage was at the start of the season in 1998). This has been a difficult year for the league with players getting into fights with fans and with players being primadonnas and demanding trades all over the league, but at least they have their act together as far as labour relations are concerned. And the NBA has shown once again that it is, in spite of its problems, an extremely well-run sports league that shows some consideration to the fans.

And I laugh at all the hockey-obsessed sportscasts in Canada, which can't help but compare the NBA negotiations (ho, hum) to the state of affairs in the hockey world and imply that the NHL ought to be embarrassed. Well, they should be embarrassed. They still can't figure out how to get a deal done over there, and they've had years to figure out something! In fact the one thing that a lot of hockey people were hanging their hat on as their excuse for not getting any deal done was that "the NBA has the same problem! They're going to lock themselves out, too!" Um, no, guys. They're competent human beings, unlike you.

The fact that the NBA has a deal and hockey still doesn't is yet more egg for the NHL to clean off their red faces.

Monday, June 20, 2005


What else can I say? The debacle at the United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis ruined my weekend and ruined F1 racing in the United States, possibly for good. There are rumors flying that the Speedway will pull out of future F1 races. There's also increasing talk that McLaren and the rest of the teams will lead a breakaway from F1 in 2008 and start their own series, and what a mess that is going to be if it comes about. Ferrari is likely to stay in F1 no matter what and turn that series into the Ferrari show every week, and we've seen how boring that's been for racing fans the last couple of seasons.

This sport is overregulated, overrun with bureaucracy and petty politics, and seems determined to act in a manner typical of other poorly-run sports like boxing and the NHL. Guys, learn a few lessons from NASCAR about how to run a sport, and grow up.

And for more on the F1 mess, here's a BBC story.


They're still discussing the media and Michael Jackson.

On the weekend Howard Kurtz hosted Reliable Sources on CNN and TVNewser picked up on a quote from Jane Velez-Mitchell calling for cameras in the courtroom. You can read the whole transcript and see for yourself what it says about all the coverage.

Personally, my stance is this: if the case is open to the public, if they allow people in there to sit there in the courtroom to watch the proceedings, then cameras should be allowed. Personally I feel that it is the right thing to do from a freedom-of-speech perspective, it encourages transparency and accountability from judges, plus it encourages people to report the trial fairly and accurately without spouting off their opinions all the time. When you put the trial on TV the public can bypass all these talking heads and see for themselves what is happening in the courtroom. The public ends up better informed and can come to a fair conclusion about Michael Jackson's guilt or innocence on their own. Now I know that E! did these re-enactments on TV with actors every night, but you don't get that all the time, either.

I agree with Jane Velez-Mitchell. What we did end up with was ranting and raving from biased observers all the time. It's not good for the justice system or for the credibility of the media. I know they banned the cameras in order to keep the trial from becoming a circus, but it became a circus anyway. I won't names names, you know who they all are (those people who show up on all these talk shows etc.).

I think there are times when having cameras or microphones in the room adds to the proceedings. I remember when they were making the arguments in court during the legal battle over the 2000 US election and I think that was a very helpful exercise having the microphones in the Supreme Court. It was a good move, it allowed people to get information about the arguments on the election without having to listen to all these politically-motivated commentators. So that's why I generally want to see cameras and microphones in the courtroom in these important cases and especially when a public figure is involved. We have cameras in Canada's Supreme Court and I think it's a great thing.

The reason I rant about this is because Court TV tried to overturn the ban on cameras in New York's courts last week, calling the ban unconstitutional, and well, they failed. Too bad. Besides I think they're right , I think it is unconstitutional. Like I say, put me down as in favor of cameras in the courtroom.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Well, I really thought that auto racing was immune from most of the nonsense that goes on in other sports. I was wrong.Boy was I ever wrong.

Earlier this week Ralf Schumacher had a spectacular accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because one of his Michelin tires blew out on the track. Now, today, Michelin just told their seven F1 teams that they can't guarantee their safety on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with their tires, so as a result these teams have elected not to race. But they aren't even going to cancel the race! They couldn't even decide to cancel the race!

So because of a big controversy over tires at the US Grand Prix, 14 cars have exited the race right from the get-go and we have the spectacle of six cars running around the track in what has turned out to be a complete joke of a race. They should have simply cancelled it and given everyone their money back. What a disgrace.

And I am tuning into the French commentary and they are calling this whole situation "unique et bizarre". No joke. They also used the word "goof" to describe this mess.

The fans are in absolute shock because of this display of incompetence by Michelin, who couldn't even make a decent tire for this track! It wasn't the track's fault, it was Michelin and the teams' fault for botching and ruining this race! Surely they could have come to some kind of an agreement before the race, these teams, on whether to race or whether to put something on the cars to slow them down, but they couldn't even do that. Formula 1 gets a big black eye in the United States, a market where they are getting killed by NASCAR. And NASCAR looks like it's a brilliantly run sport today. No wonder they're killing everyone.

I'm looking at the Indy Speedway and the stands look half-empty. You honestly think these people will be back next year after this? Disgusted fans are seeing what is going on and throwing bottles onto the track in disgust. Fans are holding up signs saying "$ Back" on them and are hooting and stamping their feet in disgust.

This is a dark day for the United States Grand Prix and for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

And I'm disgustedly switching to the NASCAR race on the other channel, this is NONSENSE. Happy Father's Day, race fans!

Friday, June 17, 2005


I think I will be taking some time away from blogging for a few days. So if this post looks pretty old to you, well, that's the reason why.

In the meantime I am linking to Autosport which has coverage of the Le Mans race this weekend. They are broadcasting the race live over the Internet with Radio Le Mans. Reminder to myself to tune in.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Good news from the CRTC! They just said yes to satellite radio for Canada.

There were three applications - one affiliated with XM, one with Sirius, and the third was CHUM - and all three were approved, BUT with strict, draconian conditions ordering heavy Canadian content. Something like eight of these channels had to be Canadian channels and had to carry 85% Canadian content, and they also ordered them to play 25% "emerging Canadian artists" or something like that. Several channels had to be in French.

Already there is griping. The SIRIUS people are shellshocked because they apparently only budgeted for four channels. Eight will break the bank. As well, the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting are having a cow because they backed CHUM's bid (which had heavy Canadian content). Because the CRTC approved everyone, they think CHUM will get shortchanged and go out of business, and with that a lot of Canadian content will be up in smoke. So they don't even think the CRTC did ENOUGH! They are thinking of appealing the decision to CABINET!

Good grief, the politics never ends in this country. What bureaucracy, having self-important special interest groups lobby the Canadian government in order to tell you what programming you should be allowed to hear on satellite radio. This is absolutely maddening.

You know, the CRTC should simply stay out and the government should stay out of satellite radio. Satellite radio isn't the public airwaves, it's not some public trust. People don't get this stuff for free. It's private business where people have to fork over 13 dollars a month to listen to this. So Canadians who buy Satellite Radio are going to be milked by the CRTC, and see their money go to prop up our dying Canadian music industry. I don't want the government forcing me to pay extra to hear emerging Canadian "talent", I hear enough of that on Canadian Idol. In fact I get enough Canadian content from these local radio stations in Canada.

What I want to hear is endless pro sports and Howard Stern. That's what I call real talent! That's the reason why I want satellite radio in Canada, and that's why this decision to allow it in was long in coming.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


There are still a lot of stories about the legal pundits on TV and their reaction to the Michael Jackson verdict, and here's one from the AP.

UPDATE- And here's an entry from Greta Van Susteren's blog on her frantic day covering the Jackson verdict for Fox News. There's also a link to some Fox News video from Santa Maria.

Already Nancy Grace (of CNN and Court TV) announced she was going to eat crow over the verdict, but the funniest reaction was from Geraldo Rivera, who by the way just signed a new contract to stay at Fox News. Geraldo was so convinced of Jackson's innocence that he threatened to shave his moustache off if he was convicted. Anyway that would have been a sight. ( Rivera had actually grown a beard once when he was at CNBC, which was even worse.)
Anyway it was interesting seeing these Jackson supporters like Rivera react. I didn't
know Jacko had so many friends in high places, people like Donald Trump and Elizabeth Taylor. And then you had those Jacko fans at the trial, especially that woman who released that dove into the air. This is practically a cult, these Jackson fans. But then again, who am I to say, I'm a sports fan, and sports fans can also get crazy.

Anyway, what's next? What are these LEGAL TALKING HEADS going to do without Michael Jackson? Not only him, but the Kobe Bryant case was settled, Martha Stewart did her time, Scott Peterson was sent to Death Row, and Robert Blake got acquitted. Is there any possibility of Jackson getting sued?! I heard that these jurors just about killed any hope of that with their verdict. They didn't even convict Jackson on the alcohol charges.

I think all these legal pundit shows have some problems on their hands--- especially these ones that were only making noise about Jackson all the time. Who's the next poor chump they're going to go after? SADDAM HUSSEIN?!

I mean, really, it was much more fun trashing Jackson. Saddam is, well, Saddam, and everyone hates him anyway. It wouldn't be very sporting of them, going after Saddam. It would be like piling on. Especailly after those photos of him in his underwear were released, that was a low blow.

And what are the anchors going to do, and these reporters? What's Diane Dimond going to do now? Go back to the tabloid press? She might as well, now that the Jacko trial is over. What else is she qualified to do at Court TV besides cover Jackson!? I just can't see her going over to cover the Saddam trial. Can you?

So I think these legal pundits are going to be twiddling their thumbs for a little while. This is bad news for all of them, because this could lead to a big dry spell. At CNN Burden of Proof was a big hit for years with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack, thanks to the Simpson trial and the interest in legal news. But then things died down for a long time and well, that killed off the show and Greta and Roger had to leave the network. Nancy Grace might have been getting big ratings for Jacko, but who else is out there? I wouldn't be surprised if her ratings go right into the tank for a while and then there will be needless panic at CNN and the knives will be out as usual. All because there's no big trial to cover.

But I think eventually another big trial will come along. It never fails, because this is America. Somebody down there is bound to tune in to too many crime shows, get some ideas, and go nuts and kill somebody.

And then Nancy Grace and the rest of them will be able to continue their ranting and raving and make big money. America, land of democracy, rule of law, and huge royalties.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


The confidence votes were a joke, the Tories were caving in and voting with the Liberals all night except for one bill that was sort of close. Interestingly, Pat O'Brien voted much of the night against the Liberals. So his threat came true. Big deal.

Actually Bill C-48, the infamous NDP budget amendment, wasn't on the table tonight, that will be voted on later, in a few days. So no wonder the Tories didn't rush to show up for these "confidence" votes, the one they really are hopping mad over has yet to be voted. So the story isn't over yet, but boy do the Tories ever look deflated in the House.


There are a series of confidence votes scheduled for tonight in the House of Commons and there was absolutely no hype for this, absolutely no thought given the prospect of the government falling, because they already had that big megaproduction of a confidence vote a couple of weeks ago and survived it. The thought was that Harper and the gang were so demoralized that they were going to roll over and play dead. It was thought that the House was going to return to normal.

But today Harper and the gang went nuts in the House over a supposed deal the Liberals made with JEAN CHRETIEN to cut the legs out of Gomery. And Irwin Cotler was busy denying it.



And from what I hear the Liberals don't have their full complement of MPs in the House and can't rely on Chuck Cadman!


Monday, June 13, 2005



Well I saw the verdict just as you all probably did and what do I think of it? I dunno what to think. I just hope the jury made the right decision. And Michael Jackson needs some serious counselling. He really does. Because he got himself in one heap of trouble.

I really wanted to believe the prosecution's case. I really do think Jackson's a really messed-up individual. But at the end of the day the prosecutors just didn't have enough to convict Jackson, that's what I think. Their case was full of holes and I was pretty frustrated with their handling of the trial. They had proof of all kinds of horrible things against Jackson except for the crime itself. What they had related to the charge were a lot of unreliable witnesses who didn't come through as expected. In short I think the prosecution put forward a flawed case from start to finish, and the defense team did an excellent job and deserved the big legal fees they were able to extort from Jackson for getting him off.

People are now pointing to the Deborah Rowe testimony as the turning point. The prosecutors put her on the stand thinking she was going to trash Michael Jackson because she was in a custody battle with him, and instead she praised Jackson as a parent. And that was the story of the trial, prosecution witnesses letting the prosecution down or otherwise damaging their own credibility by forgeting key details or contradicting themselves. That's why they lost, it's so obvious. If they had DNA evidence or photos or something that absolutely proved Jackson did the crime, it might have been different. But I just think they had a lot of problems proving their case at the end of the day and it was too much for them to overcome with this jury.


You'd never know they were in trouble from the trial coverage, though. I didn't have Court TV access but I have it on good authority (talking to my parents) that much of their trial coverage was of the "Jackson is guilty" variety. Nancy Grace, Diane Dimond, Catherine Crier, basically "all the women" from what I was told, were angry because they thought for sure Jackson was guilty, and they were ranting and raving. I even read on their own Court TV blog that the Jackson people were pretty upset with Court TV and some of the female anchors for crusading against Jackson.

You know, they do have a point. The anchor deck at Court TV seemed somewhat stacked, from what I read and heard. There was an article in the LA Times about it and Tim Rutten was complaining about the ranting and raving that has been going on with these biased prosecutorial reporters ranting about Jackson. TVNewser has a link to it. Seems like a few of the anchors over there are former prosecutors who spent their whole lives putting people away, and they think everyone out there is automatically guilty and that the police never get anything wrong. Abbie Carmichael from Law and Order (Angie Harmon's character) would fit right in with this crowd. They're out for vengeance.

I mean really, come on. This isn't the prosecutor's office anymore, this is television! THIS IS JOURNALISM! If you're going to cover a trial and be an anchor, at least try and be objective! You have to inform the public and give them the facts and the ebb and flow of the trial! Don't go on a rampage against the accused all the time, they could be innocent!!!

It was a lot different at the OJ trial. I remember watching that trial and even though a lot of these trial watchers were pretty biased (prosecutors thought he was guilty, defense attorneys thought he was innocent), at least the main people who covered the trial on CNN- Jim Moret, Roger Cossack and Greta Van Susteren- seemed pretty fair and even-handed. Geraldo Rivera, another lawyer-journalist, is opinionated but all over the place as far as whether certain individuals are guilty or innocent- he thought OJ was guilty but thought Jacko was innocent. But still, I just think it's terrible to cover a trial and be biased one way or another, crusading for someone to get the book thrown at them.

You know, this is why there needs to be cameras in the courtroom for a lot of these trials. You don't get any accuracy watching Nancy Grace or any of these people, and you don't see the justice system at work or see for yourself what the jury has to consider. I mean, Nancy Grace is entertaining and has an opinion, but frankly you won't get objective reporting about these trials and about how they are going from these biased, opinionated commentators who give you their version of the truth. You're better off getting it live from the court, with cameras, in my estimation.

Anyway, that's this Trial of the Century over, at least until they they deal with Saddam.

UPDATE: A jury member has spoken and hints he suspects Jackson was not such an innocent guy.

But they didn't have the proof they needed to convict him. And then you had Macaulay Culkin and these others who were defending Jackson as well. There just weren't enough people willing to stand up and say Jackson molested people, and there were stories out there of people being bought off and stuff. Disgusting.

When you think of it, if Nancy Grace and Catherine Crier and the rest of them were disgusted and revolted by Michael Jackson, who could really blame them?

Yecch, what a revolting case. I don't know if Jackson needs jail time as much as he needs a doctor and a stay in a mental institution. He is a TWISTED individual.





ANY MINUTE NOW, it'll be announced in the Jackson trial. Judge allowing a partial audio feed of the verdict.

I'm listening to CNN right now and they definitely have a verdict.



The verdict could come any day, any time.


Well, the Tories have been getting pretty badly bodyslammed in the press recently. There was that Decima poll last week that had them behind even the NDP in Ontario, and there's total sniping from everyone about how bad the poll numbers still are even though this Liberal government is mired in Adscam and has all kinds of ethical issues surrounding them.

The papers are just killing the Tories and more particularly Stephen Harper. The Edmonton Sun derisively called them the Not Ready for Prime Time Players and mused that the party is really lucky not to be in an election campaign right now because they would surely be cruising to a big defeat. The National Post has an editorial today blasting Harper and the people running the party. They write:
We are not calling on Mr. Harper to resign. But recent events have put into question whether he is the man who should be leading the Conservatives. In particular, the failure of the party to surge ahead of the Liberals in popular support, even as the government has been buried in scandal, and Mr. Harper's misplaced trust in Gurmant Grewal's claims regarding his jobs-for-votes tapes, suggest this is a good time for reflection.
They say they aren't calling for him to resign, but they might as well have with those statements. What's troubling for Harper is that this criticism isn't coming from the usual suspects like the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. This is the Sun chain and the National Post doing the griping. These are people who are supposed to be the party's friends, saying this. When you have that happening, boy, that's trouble.
Honestly, though, whether you want to admit it or not, Stephen Harper just led the Tories to a major, major defeat in the House of Commons on that confidence vote. They lost that vote not only numerically in the Commons, but in the court of public opinion as well. They couldn't get the people of Canada angry enough to demand that their MPs take down this government. If they had, there's no way any of these independents or even Jack Layton would have been rushing back to Ottawa to prop the government up. Nobody wanted an election, and Harper just couldn't inspire any Canadians to want any election to boot the Liberals out. If he had, I think we would have gotten an election. And then you have the GREWAL mess, which made the party look like Watergate wire-tappers.
I feel Harper has to do some thinking as well. He's got to ask himself whether he honestly believes that he's the man to lead this party to victory, especially in Ontario. I can tell you this, the Tories have no shot in Toronto right now. It's not all Harper's fault, but the Tories ain't gonna win a thing in Toronto with him as leader. People would rather go with "the devil you know", so they keep on telling me (repeating Joe Clark's PR talking point line over and over again), claiming they still don't know Harper and feel he has a hidden agenda.
He also has to honestly think about whether he is ready to get rid of the people around him who've been giving him bad political advice over the past several months, and start putting in place some pros who will be ready to tell him what he needs to hear as opposed to what he wants to hear. Among other things, he's got a lot of serious image problems. A lot of people are harping about the usual complaints, that he's too angry, that he hasn't got a clear vision of what the Tories will actually do. (The Sun was ranting and raving about that.) And besides that, the whole party comes out of the last couple of months looking pretty inept. But the biggest problem, I think, is that Harper looks like a guy who doesn't entirely believe his own line of bull on stage when he gives his policy speeches. Instead, it looks like he's adopted a bunch of policies he doesn't really care about, just to get elected. And that makes him suspect in the eyes of voters who think he may have other ideas. Look at all the policies he's adopted over the past several months, agreeing with the Liberals on policy after policy. So as a result the passion is not there for the vision of the country that he's trying to sell to people, a vision which right now consists entirely of getting rid of a bunch of corrupt people and replacing them with less corrupt people. A vision now up in smoke, thanks to Gurmant Grewal.
At least when someone like Jim Flaherty or Tony Clement or Ralph Klein or John Tory or Mike Harris or someone like that gets up to speak, you're inclined to believe what they say, because their heart is in it. Stephen Harper has to decide whether his heart really is in it. Because the party is going nowhere without a leader who believes in his agenda and has a clear vision for the country.
My suggestion: start selling a line of bull that you actually believe in which will sell with the voters. Simple formula, but it's bound to work.
And in other news Gilles Duceppe has decided to stay in Ottawa and keep the Bloc in fighting trim. Frankly, this is good news for sovereigntists all around. They get fresh blood in Quebec City and they stay strong in Ottawa. Which unfortunately is bad news for Canada. I know a lot of people were saying Duceppe would give the PQ a better shot at beating Jean Charest, but frankly I think anyone can beat Charest the way things are going in Quebec these days. There are also rumors that Bernard Landry may try and run for his old job again. Strange times in Quebec politics.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


This has turned into the Weekend of the Washed-Up Athlete.

Last night I had a chance to see yet another Mike Tyson fight, if I wanted to. I could have tuned in to see Tyson's comeback.

And I said to heck with it! I knew Tyson's track record: every fight Tyson's been in for the past two decades has ended up being a travesty. Either he would knock his opponent out in the first round or bite the guy's ear off, or otherwise turn the fight into a freak show.

I had no interest in wasting my time watching yet another bizarre Mike Tyson performance. So instead of watching Tyson attempt to fight Kevin McBride, I went to a nice air-conditioned movie theatre in sweltering Toronto to see Brad and Angelina fight in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Let me tell you something, that movie is going to be one huge hit. There was a big lineup at the theatre of people, all wanting in just to see the flick that was rumored to have busted up Jennifer Aniston's marriage.

This is a perfect movie for fans of spy flicks and I heavily recommend it to people who like James Bond movies and stuff. Plenty of violence. Someone put Angelina Jolie into a Bond movie. Please.

Anyway after the movie I came home and found out that, well, I didn't miss much with Tyson. His fight was another horror show and Tyson announced that he was going to retire from boxing after he failed to answer the bell for round 7. Thank GOD.

Apparently you really can "thank God" for Tyson's decision to retire because he says he is going to become a missionary! Wow, I didn't know he had gotten religion. And actually I find it odd that a convicted rapist now wants to be a missionary. Well, if it keeps him out of the ring, that's GOOD. All boxing fans should rejoice that Tyson is going to retire. I hope he never comes back to the ring, his career is FINISHED.

Unfortunately one man whose career is not yet finished, yet still dead on its feet, is Jacques Villeneuve, whose big homecoming to the Canadian Grand Prix has been a royal flop. The other day F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone trashed Villeneuve, saying Villeneuve has "lost his motivation". Well, what do you expect him to say. Jacques is taking the money and running by driving for Sauber. He'll never win a thing with their crummy cars. If he really was motivated to win he'd drive for someone else. But he isn't. Jacques is just another hired gun... just like Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I'm really looking forward to this weekend's big races.

NASCAR will be at Pocono this weekend, and the IRL will be at the Texas Motor Speedway for the Bombardier Learjet 500.

It's the first major IRL race since the Indy 500, so of course everyone there is already going crazy over Danica Patrick. Already she's on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which usually is a curse to everyone who's on it. If she wins in Texas, it'll be major news. But it's Tomas Scheckter who has the pole and it's Dan Wheldon going for his fourth straight race victory which would be an IRL record.

Meanwhile the first major race on Canadian soil is this Sunday as the Canadian Grand Prix takes place in Montreal. And the big news is that Jacques Villeneuve is back, not necessarily in triumph. Will he win? Well, he told a reporter that he's hoping for rain, because that's the only way he'll win this race. Today in practise Villeneuve was a lousy 13th with his heap of a car.

I read somewhere that ratings for the Grand Prix may not be all that good on Canadian TV this year, that NASCAR might beat Villeneuve and the Grand Prix in the ratings. Well well, I guess Canadians aren't such big road-racing fans after all if that's the case. People make such a big deal about how Canadians supposedly don't like oval-style racing and would rather see these Champ Cars racing down these winding streets. I just think that's hogwash. The problem in Canada is that there's no decent oval track anywhere. If you had a decent oval track then NASCAR and the IRL will come up here, and then watch the fans show up in droves. People should quit trying to say that we like a different form of racing when the truth is that Canadians will watch any kind of good racing, oval or not.

Anyway after this weekend the next three big events in Canada are the ChampCar events in Toronto, Montreal, and for the first time, in Edmonton on that track at the old airport. The big international race next week (reminder to myself) is LE MANS!!!


But in other news there was an important Canadian ruling on medicare that could allow private clinics; they declared the ban on private clinics unconstitutional. Well, who cares about that, Michael Jackson is more important.

It's now Day 6 and the media hordes continue to swell. Check out the verdict blog at Court TV and you'll see that the media are all camped out. It's like Camp O.J., except this time it's even more media from all over the world. My sense is that while Americans may not be as interested in the Jackson trial, the rest of the world is even more into it, because a big international star is involved. O.J., on the other hand, was a big NFL star, and nobody outside of North America cares about the NFL. (Except maybe in Germany- the World Bowl is this weekend.)

And you have all the wackos and other freaks showing up to rant and rave. Never fails. Personally, I can't wait for O.J. to get arrested again so that we can see the media go through this circus one more time. It's just too bad this Jackson trial isn't on TV.

We'll see if they come up with a verdict today or whether we all have to wait, again.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Last night I went to a Kiwanis dinner in East York to hear Elliotte Friedman talk hockey.

Frankly, I'm not a Kiwanis member and I don't think I'll ever show up at a Kiwanis event ever again because I'm far too interesting and witty a person for that organization. I'm just not into serving my community or civic-mindedness or any of that, at least not right now. I was there at the invitation of one of my political connections; he told me Elliotte Friedman was going to be there. Plus, there was food there. That was the real reason I went, an excuse to eat.

If you're wondering, Friedman is still employed at CBC Sports (unlike a lot of people who were laid off by the lockout) and has been doing one "make-work" project after another for the past several months, covering really boring amateur sports. His latest assignment was table tennis, or as one audience member mentioned, "ping-pong". So yeah, Elliotte Friedman's had a great year, not, but he's happy he still has a job. At least he'll be doing stuff on the sidelines for the CFL on CBC pretty soon.

Elliotte had a lot to say about the state of things in the world of sports and the Kiwanis crowd had a lot of passionate opinions about the sport of hockey and the general state of things. I'd say about 90% of the questions fielded by Friedman were on hockey and of course, whether it will ever come back.

The news from Friedman is that HOCKEY WILL BE BACK. The unions are basically conceding defeat on pretty much every issue imaginable and plan to settle at a cap of 38 mil. The sense is that they've lost the fight and are simply interested in getting back onto the ice and getting this all over with so they can play again. Friedman also mentioned there were a number of rule changes coming in, like a shootout and getting rid of the red line, and they're still seriously looking at wider nets. So people were interested to hear about that.

Friedman also had blistering words to say about the state of the game and the whole lockout situation, commenting on the infamous ESPN cancellation debacle. He commented again about how ESPN ran poker and a few other marginal sports, all of which beat hockey in the ratings. He also said hockey learned nothing from baseball's infamous strike/cancellation . Baseball was so badly tarnished after the 1994 World Series was cancelled that they rushed to make a deal in 2002, just so they wouldn't all be villified by the public again. As a result, attendance went up and baseball is booming again. But hockey never learned those lessons, and he was talking about how the sport was now a running joke on the Letterman show and all that.

I tend to agree with Friedman that hockey is going to be back, the signs all point to it returning. They are holding practises in Mississauga this week to try out some of the rule changes they are proposing and see the impact. All in an attempt to get rid of the "trap" and make it as unappealing to teams to use as possible, and open the game up again. They wouldn't be doing this if they were planning to be out for the entire season again.

The other thing I can point to is word that the AHL Edmonton Road Runners are going to be gassed next season, and to me it sure seems as if the Road Runners are being put out of business for a reason: they know something, folks. The Road Runners drew one of the highest attendances in the entire AHL and the reason they are folding is so they can make room for their parent club the Edmonton Oilers and bring that team back. (As for the Road Runners, well, this is the second city they have been kicked out of in two years. They should just move that team back to Phoenix.)

Finally, Gary Bettman announced some time ago he wouldn't be bringing the replacements in. That was a big olive branch right there and a sign they're close to getting something acceptable.

Anyway, bottom line is the NHL will be back, it will be a total defeat for the union and not much of a victory for these owners who just lost their TV deal and saw $60 million a year flushed down the toilet thanks to their own incompetence, And Friedman expects a deal to be done maybe next week, but possibly by the end of the month. I hope so. I have had enough of watching English soccer and American sports.

Don't get me wrong, I like American sports and I'm a huge baseball and football fan. During the hockey lockout ESPN Radio has been great, it's as if sports life in the States is completely normal. But I feel when I tune in to American all-sports stations that I'm disconnected with Canada, especially during the wintertime. They just have no interest in any Canadian sports and Canadians, frankly, have no interest in their sports, either. Which inevitably means that during the summer, I end up complaining about Canada and the lack of interest in baseball, and feel compelled to tune into WFAN New York and WGR in Buffalo, just to hear people talk about steroid use and the latest firings and trades, and rant and rave over the Yankees and the Mets. Nobody rants and raves about the Blue Jays here. Instead they want to talk about the shut-down Toronto Maple Leafs, these chumps.

Anyway, it will be great if hockey returns, then they can start the long process of trying to put this sport back together after the mess they made of it. Oh, and by the way, welcome officially to the off-season. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the Tampa Bay Lightning beating the Flames to win the Stanley Cup in Game Seven. We have all officially survived a full season with no NHL hockey without going crazy. Way to go, hockey fans!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


The deliberations for the Michael Jackson trial are now into Day 3.

Looking back at this trial I have to say that the prosecution team has had its share of problems. Their main one right now is that they have had a difficult case from the get go. They didn't have DNA proving Jackson did it, and the witnesses in this case kept on changing their stories and being unreliable. You had that kid changing his story and admitting he changed his story on the witness stand, that sort of thing.

After the prosecution rested commentators like Andrew Cohen over at CBS were openly saying the prosecutors were in trouble. I can't disagree; my reaction was sort of a disgusted "is that it?!" I personally will be quite surprised if Jackson ends up being convicted here, because frankly the case against Jackson was far weaker than the cases against other celebrities like O.J. Simpson, whose DNA was everywhere. And HE was acquitted! I have a really hard time believing O.J. is innocent. Frankly I'm with the people who think he got away with murder, but the prosecution team made a lot of mistakes during that trial and the defense team (Barry Scheck in particular) did an excellent hatchet job on all the DNA evidence.

The only reason the prosecutors have a chance with Jackson's case is because I have a suspicion these jurors, some of them anyway, could be out to get Jackson and might look hard for any reason to convict him. After all, kids were involved and they want to take these charges seriously. Another reason I think this Jackson jury is going to be out for a while is because clearly the prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Michael Jackson is a total weirdo. Unfortunately, Tom Sneddon and the gang needed to do much more than that to convict him, they need proof of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. I think it helps them that Jackson has been such a headcase, being late for court, showing up in his pajamas, and now this weekend winding up in the hospital again. I also read something about him selling Neverland. Michael Jackson's having nothing but problems and frankly I don't have sympathy for him. The guy is just too weird.

Anyway to sum up, I think the prosecutors feel they have a chance with this jury despite their problems, and the defense team is really confident. That's why you never saw a plea bargain deal like what you saw in the Marv Albert case. I had thought there might be a chance at a plea deal earlier in the trial but it's been apparent for a long time now that this wasn't going to happen, especially after the prosecution rested and Tom Mesereau moved to have the whole case dismissed. You could just tell that the defense team was sensing blood and refusing to give an inch. When you have a confident team of defense lawyers, any chance of a deal is likely to go up in smoke.

As for the circus elements of this case, well, they got old pretty quickly. You had Larry King called to the stand only for the judge to rule that his testimony wasn't relevant, so he never got on the stand. Then you had Jay Leno and his testimony and that made the news. But all in all it got kind of boring. The big problem is that compared to the O.J. trial there were no cameras in the courtroom, so even though there were 3,000 press people covering Jacko, the rest of the country was pretty disengaged and couldn't follow along on TV. I know I sure didn't. Instead you could get the usual ranting and raving from the likes of Nancy Grace and the rest of them, and frankly I find it difficult to trust any of these talking heads. The defense attorneys think the defendants are always innocent while the prosecutors have the prosecutorial mentality. I think Nancy Grace is completely biased. She's totally prosecutorial and seems to think everyone who's charged with something is automatically guilty. And then you have Diane Dimond there and basically her whole career has consisted of following the train wreck that is Michael Jackson's life and investigating him.

I think people are just tired of the Jacko show and tired of these trials. The Scott Peterson trial was another big one and everyone went nuts over that one, too, and now you see the books on the case coming out from Catherine Crier and Amber Frey and everyone else. Everyone is just cashing in on that case, just like they cashed in on O.J. Simpson, and for that matter Martha Stewart. I notice even Larry King is fed up with these things, he spent all of last week interviewing other people like Bill Clinton and Woodward and Bernstein. I guess they're letting Nancy Grace deal with these trials now.

Anyway we still await a verdict. Day 3. In the Robert Blake case it took over a week.

UPDATE: For another opinion from Andrew Cohen about the state of the case, click here; he thinks maybe some late videotape evidence may have saved the prosecution's case and cast the accuser in a more positive light than before. It would be interesting to see if the jury comes back and asks to see this tape again, or something. Something more to think about.

Monday, June 06, 2005


I don't know about you but as a long-time CNN viewer I'm kind of fed up with all the changes over there at CNN. Every year there's panic because CNN isn't beating Fox News, so every year they get some new administration that changes things and messes the place up. Doesn't matter who they are, it never fails, the place always gets screwed up. One day they should come up with the novel idea to hire back all the people they canned over the last few years, and put shows like Crossfire and Inside Politics back on the air. Then the loyal CNN viewers will come back. But fat chance they'll ever do that, though.

Today comes word that even more changes are coming, in addition to the changes they already made to the channel. American Morning has replaced sports guy-turned-serious-news-anchor Bill Hemmer with Miles O'Brien and Hemmer is leaving the network. Say what! Word is they were trying to get Hemmer to leave the morning show and take some big correspondent's job in DC but Howie Kurtz wrote a big piece in the Washington Post a few weeks back, saying Hemmer was thinking of simply pursuing other offers. COURTESY WASHINGTON POST:

Hemmer, who for the moment is barred from negotiating with other networks, said he is weighing the White House post -- recently vacated by John King -- against his enjoyment of living in New York. But a person close to him said Hemmer was concerned that moving from anchor to correspondent would be seen as a demotion.

I also read in one of the gossip columns out of New York that Hemmer may be going steady with Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, who used to be First Lady of San Francisco. I suspect that may be a factor, he has a life in New York.

Bottom line is Hemmer didn't want to go to D.C. and made that public, and I don't blame him for saying no to D.C. under his circumstances, it would have messed his life up and his future at CNN wouldn't have looked all that promising.

Anyway a bright light at CNN is gone. Again. What a great business, eh?


That's right, you read it. Another one says take this party and shove it, this time to the Liberals.
You need a scorecard to figure out who's in which party these days. Pat O'Brien quit the Liberals today because he opposes same-sex marriage. There's a bill going through Parliament right now and basically this is a big issue for O'Brien, actually probably his only issue at the moment. He's basically staking his whole political career on his opposition to same-sex marriage. I don't even think he really cares about any other issue right now.

So that's him now moving over to sit with Carolyn and David and Chuck now in the darkest recesses of the Commons (independents). And topping it off there's uncertainty over Gilles Duceppe who might be pressed to take over the Parti Quebecois in Quebec City, now that Bernard Landry has quit. But I think he's going to stay. The Bloc needs him to defeat the Liberals right now in Parliament, where every vote counts, and the fact of the matter is that right now Duceppe has a lot of power in Ottawa, a lot of clout. And I think he wants to use it. Besides, if he quits Ottawa that's one less vote for the Bloc in Parliament on a non-confidence vote, and there's no way he's going to allow Paul Martin to get away with stalling on a byelection call. I don't think Duceppe is going anywhere, at least not right now with things the way they are in Ottawa.

Well, well. A day ago the Liberals and their allies had a slight numerical edge, respecting whether they still had the confidence of the House: 153-152 from my count, counting the new MP that was sworn in. They had themselves, the NDP, Carolyn Parrish, Chuck Cadman, Belinda, and that new MP. And in a tie they have the Speaker. Now O'Brien has quit and that edge is gone. What does this mean? It could mean Pat O'Brien is so determined to kill same-sex marriage that he could actually vote to kill the budget in order to bring down the house and stop same-sex marriage from happening.

And then we'll see more Gurmant Grewal-type shenanigans from the Liberals, and the government will survive, again. Just what Parliament needs right now. Or maybe the government WILL fall and Paul Martin will call the Conservatives a bunch of extremists because they collapsed the government over same sex marriage!

Regardless, you can bet the Tories are going to pounce on this gift from this disaffected, disgusted former Liberal.

UPDATE: Ahem. Forget it, the Tories won't be up to much pouncing anytime soon.
Just heard on the news that O'Brien says he's still going to vote with the Liberals on the budget, so I guess we can all calm down again. And now there's news that he may be joined as an independent by... GURMANT GREWAL! So I guess the Tories aren't going to be pouncing on anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Seems Grewal is in deep trouble because he tried to have someone courier some package for him through Air Canada, which is a no-no since 9/11 and also Air India. This looks highly suspicious. Plus there are more forensic people claiming tape doctoring and that these tapes were messed around with, and that it's more than simply a tape transfer issue.

Grewal looks increasingly like a loose cannon and a living, breathing advertisement why the people of Canada ought to always vote Liberal. People were uncomfortable with him taping conversations to begin with and if it turns out there was doctoring, well, that makes the Conservatives in Ottawa look really bad. More and more people in the Tory party are getting fed up with Grewal and they've already stripped him of his caucus duties and are distancing themselves from him. Their next move may be to just boot him right out on the street. Personally, I hope so. Grewal's reputation, what there is of it, is up in smoke. With friends like Grewal the Tories don't need any enemies now, do they?

As I say, the ghost of the Alliance lives on. It haunts, forever. Oh, and here's the worst part: his wife Nina Grewal is in the House, too. If they kick Gurmant out Nina may quit the party, too.

Won't be long before the "independents" have a majority in Parliament, then they could take the government over.


Day 2 of deliberations in Santa Maria today.


We interrupt Jackson trial coverage to bring you... poker.

As you may have noticed, poker is all the rage on TV these days. A lot of people in Canada are blaming poker for the demise of the NHL on ESPN. It's being cited as the reason why the beloved NHL has been kicked off TV, the fact that they put poker on to replace the NHL and poker actually did better in the ratings, so that gave ESPN their out to play hardball with Gary Bettman.

As Kenny Rogers said, you've got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to walk away, and know when to run. The folks at ESPN ran away from the NHL because they knew what was good for them.

But these sportswriters up here are writing articles of the "poker sucks" variety. That's typical of the coverage up here. It's "hockey is the greatest sport ever, and it's being shunted aside to make way for poker." Uh, listen guys. Hockey isn't so great, they proved that in spades this year. Most of us don't miss it at all as you can tell. But we sure would miss our poker tournaments. Other thing in poker's favor: no strikes or lockouts. Last time I heard the World Poker Tour was actually having tournaments. That helps a lot, eh? And if they ever go out on strike, they can bring in the celebrities and have them play poker on TV.

Why is poker attractive to these networks? Truth is it's cheap, and it fits the insatiable appetite for American fans for everything gambling. They just love money and the Vegas lifestyle, unlike a lot of die-hard hockey writers. Hey, the NFL is big for one reason: GAMBLING on the GAMES. Heck, I tune into the pre-game shows on radio and they're into the point spreads and all that. Poker just feeds into that.

Plus, they have all these hot models as sideline reporters and that helps the ratings. Who would you rather see, Don Cherry or Shana Hiatt?! Case closed. Over and out.

(Say what?! You want to see Cherry?! You silly hockey fans. Actually, Shana's not going to be on the World Poker Tour anymore, she's retiring. Maybe they can make her a hockey reporter and help save that sport.)

Yet despite what poker on TV has going for it, you still have all these sports columnist people saying watching poker on TV is like watching paint dry! I don't get these people. Personally, I can't get enough of this stuff, I'm always glued to the TV set every Sunday to watch the World Poker Tour on Citytv.

Here's a good article in the Toronto Sun on the TV poker craze.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Other blogs go nuts over Gurmant Grewal and Ujjal Dosangh; I go nuts over Michael Jackson.

The trial is over, thank God, and a verdict is coming soon, I hope. I sure hope they are going to have a decision. I don't want to see a retrial and another replay of this circus. Actually, I kind of can't believe it's over so fast. I remember the O.J. Simpson trial and that one absolutely took forever compared to this case. But I've got to say, of the two trials, O.J. was much more interesting because they delved heavily into interesting evidentiary stuff and forensics. The Jackson case had less of that and more sleaze, and the crime Jackson's accused of is a really disgusting crime. So, frankly, that's why I didn't find it as interesting.

There's coverage at Court TV. There's also coverage from MSNBC with a blog from Santa Maria from anchorwoman Lisa Daniels, who is also a lawyer.

Of course, Canada's media types say they are above this sort of stuff, yet they were all in Joliette making a circus out of that parole hearing that featured Karla Homolka. So I wouldn't get too smug if I were any of them. They had that awful woman on every front page in the entire country on Friday and Saturday and all over the TV news in Toronto. And they wonder why people would deign to cover Michael Jackson.

I plan to add more Jackson verdict links, with my own additional thoughts, soon.

UPDATE: Here is the Court TV verdict blog.


I was looking at TVBarn and found this site with all this great video from the first day of CNN. Great site and great video.

The CNN of 25 years ago looked nothing like the CNN of today. For one thing, they weren't at CNN Center in those days, they were located at some plantation or somewhere in Atlanta. And they made a lot of technical mistakes and lots of video feeds that went missing, anchors introducing the wrong people, etcetera. It looked like a regular '80s newscast having a really bad day. I also noticed that they didn't have any teleprompters; a lot of stations didn't have them in those days. Man, when I did anchoring on TV I couldn't live without a teleprompter. Whenever there was some potential technical problem with the teleprompters going down everyone would panic. I can't believe how those people were able to get through a live newscast without them, but they managed.

The best part of the first day was the sports. They had an interview with Pete Rozelle and Pete was talking about the Oakland Raiders situation, whether or not the team was going to move to Los Angeles. The big story was some goon taking a shot at Reggie Jackson on the street the day after a game the Yankees played against the Toronto Blue Jays. They also had highlights from an NASL game from Washington D.C. that over 50,000 people went to see. Those were the days.

The news stories were typical humdrum news from that day: Vernon Jordan had been shot and President Jimmy Carter went to visit him and had a live press conference that CNN picked up. There was also a prison riot in Arkansas or something and they actually mentioned "Governor Clinton."

It was fascinating. There were very few people on that original news day who I actually recognized: Bernard Shaw, Lou Waters, Fred Hickman, Mary Alice Williams who's been long gone. Flip Spiceland did the weather, that's yet another guy they kicked out. Most of the people they had on, though, were people I never heard of, and probably people you never heard of, either. It was way different from today, or even from five years ago. Compare it to ABC or CBS or NBC from the same time period, where you'll find plenty of folks who are still around. But CNN has nobody.

In fact a lot of the big names from CNN for the past 25 years, people like Larry King, Judy Woodruff, Christiane Amanpour, Wolf Blitzer, even Peter Arnett- a lot of them actually didn't arrive until several years later. Larry was still on the radio late at night back in 1980, Wolf and Arnett were in print journalism, and I'm not sure where Woodruff was in 1980; I know she was at PBS for a while, though. Amanpour joined CNN two or three years after its launch, as a grunt production assistant, and quickly rose the ranks because it was a growing operation.

In fact the early CNN hired lots of underpaid production assistants and it sure showed. Word of advice to news organizations: make sure you shell out the money for good help. Because if you go cheap, you'll get cheap, and that's what we got from CNN on the screen in 1980!

The other thing that struck me were the stories from that era and more particularly the public service announcements. There were PSAs and ads talking about how to conserve energy and the like, and quite a few stories about the price of oil and the economy. No mistaking that the energy crisis was the top story of the day and you could really notice it in the coverage from this 25-year distance.

I found the advertising quite interesting- there were ads from the "new" Chrysler Corporation, which of course had just about gone totally belly-up. And lots of ads from drug companies. But in those days it was mild stuff like Maalox and Contac. Now it's Viagra and all these other newfangled prescription medications that you see advertised on TV all the time during the news- all these ones where they have to list the multitude of side effects. I guess people need stronger drugs these days.

It was really interesting watching those videos. Last week certainly was a big one for CNN, they've come a long way. In fact there were a few other big events. Larry King celebrated his 20th anniversary at CNN and Crossfire finally went off the air, and Judy Woodruff bid farewell to the network.

Friday, June 03, 2005


The reason I like to talk about sports on this blog is because I get fed up with the political scene in Ottawa. I'm so frustrated that I have to switch topics. I've had enough of the coverage of Gurmant Grewal and those tapes. The situation smells too much like Watergate.

Unbelieveable, but I totally forgot to talk about Rudy Giuliani and that goofy plan to start up a rival league to the NHL with the backing of the Player's Association and even the World Hockey Association; something called the International Hockey Association.

It will never see the light of day.

I think it's a bad idea to try and come up with a replacement to the National Hockey League, because I think it just breeds instability in a sport and wrecks fan interest, generally. You can see from all the problems the sport of soccer has had in North America what I think of such an idea. Soccer hasn't recovered from the collapse of the North American Soccer League, which died, I gather, due in large part to wild spending and expansion into non-soccer markets that didn't take to the game. Sort of like what the National Hockey League was doing. But the NASL never did solve any of its problems and died a horrible, bloody death.

Since then they started up a replacement league, Major League Soccer, a league that is well managed and very stable. But none of the old NASL franchises from the glory days- the Cosmos, the Sting, the Sockers, the Whitecaps- are a part of this group. Instead it's the MetroStars, DC United, the Chicago Fire, and the LA Galaxy, among others. And it's just not the same and all the old fans who followed the old NASL all are disenfranchised because their old teams are all gone. The only old NASL franchise to be a part of MLS is the San Jose Earthquakes. That's basically it.

Anyway I don't want to see the NHL go the way of the NASL, that would consign a lot of historic teams to the dustbin of history and there's no way I would endorse that.


I've sort of adopted soccer as a replacement to the NHL these days, largely because the fans of the sport are so crazy and you can't help but get caught up in the enthusiasm. Plus I like to see how other parts of the world get excited about the game. I tune into a lot of TV feeds from all over the world and notice how crazy the fans get about the game of soccer in these Latin American countries. They will follow soccer from England, Italy, Germany, Spain, everywhere it's played. I've watched TV coverage of the sport from Mexico on the Internet, and they treat soccer like it's Hockey Night in Canada. Or the NFL Today. You see what I mean. Citytv has the RAI soccer show on Sunday mornings and I tune in to that to check out the scores and highlights from Italy.

Officially the soccer season is over- the regular season, anyway. The Scottish Cup was awarded last week and that was the end of the big cup matches. But the soccer season never really ends. Tomorrow, a bunch of World Cup qualifying matches are scheduled for around the world, and later that night Major League Soccer will be playing a bunch of games. I like to tune into some of the streaming audio feeds from some of these MLS cities- MLS really doesn't get the coverage it deserves. But thanks to MLS there is soccer to follow basically all year, so the die-hards in Europe who can't live without soccer will be able to tune in. (Just as there's football to follow all year with the NFL Europe League playing mostly throughout Germany.)

Another reason I tune into MLS is because it's a soccer league in a non-soccer country. Let's face it, soccer has hardly any fans in the United States. It seems like the only fans they have down there are immigrants from other countries. There's even a team, Chivas USA, which is basically the American version of the Mexican team, and basically all their fans are Latinos. But these ordinary ignorant Americans don't care about the rest of the world's sports and don't bother to show up. They play this game when they're kids, and then they grow up and decide they aren't interested in the sport because all the best leagues are European. Every time the USA qualifies for the World Cup I've seen stories done on nightly news to the effect of "Americans ought to get with the rest of the world and follow soccer, and why aren't Americans soccer fans?"

To which I respond, "because soccer is not part of the American culture. American culture is baseball, football and basketball." And Canadian culture is hockey. It's like saying the British ought to be baseball fans or hockey fans. Let's face it, soccer just isn't part of the culture the way it is in England or Brazil or Italy. You just don't see people in pubs in the USA drinking ale and watching soccer games, and then committing acts of hooliganism. Instead they drink beer and watch the NFL, and then they go home. Different culture.

That's why I find it interesting to tune into soccer games in the US. When you see pro soccer played in the USA you think "what's this game doing here?" You're so used to seeing these games played in these exotic European countries and in Latin America before huge crowds in big stadiums. So it's really cool to tune into coverage of a sport that the mainstream American sports media basically ignores all the time. It's also cool to tune into games from a place like LA and see actual fans in the stands, for a soccer game, in the USA. All the die-hards.

I blame my political colleagues for getting me interested again in soccer, a lot of them are massive soccer fans and that got me sucked into following the game again. Plus, I have the NHL to thank for all the freed-up time. Thanks again, Gary and Bob!


Global TV has a lot of work to do with its lineup.

Read an item in one of the papers (I think it was the Globe) that said they used to dominate Thursday nights with Friends and Survivor, and the Apprentice, but now they are getting killed by CSI, Law and Order and American/Canadian Idol over on CTV. Even The Amazing Race is a runaway hit in Canada- it's a bigger hit in Canada than in the United States. Meanwhile CTV has also picked up Lost and Desperate Housewives, and those look like genius decisions today, even though in the entertainment business, as William Goldman once pointed out, "nobody knows anything."

Over at Global, it's a mess, largely because all their hit shows have been cancelled in the 'States. Friends and X-Files are gone now, and so are the ratings. The Globe says 18 of the 20 hit shows in Canada are CTV shows, which I found a little hard to believe. Until I looked at the ratings. And yes, the only two shows on Global that get any ratings these days are Survivor and the Apprentice. The rest of their lineup has just tanked. It's actually pretty shocking how bad it is over there. But what do you expect when you put on junk like those Fab Five guys and Last Chance for Romance, and all those crappy FOX shows? Their lineup of FOX "Animation Domination" cartoons is being creamed by Teri Hatcher and those housewives on Sundays, and their lineup of FOX shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays must contend with everyone flipping the dial to CTV to watch Idol on the same nights. They might as well put up a test pattern against Idol.

They also had on Last Comic Standing which was a big help to the ratings, eh? Sadly, Global got what they deserved in the ratings department, folks.

The other problem is that they aren't doing too well in developing Canadian shows; again, CTV has Ben Mulroney and Canadian Idol to thank, plus they have a hit in Corner Gas and lure the young viewers in with Degrassi. And the CBC has every Canadian show under the sun. Global has Canadian shows, too, but nobody watches them. They tried late night TV with Mike Bullard, but that did so well that Bullard had to be yanked from the air. And Global has a lot of co-productions going with the States so you get a lot of shows on Global that are made in Canada but have nothing to do with the country, set in the USA or in the tropics or somewhere. So in the end nobody in Canada cares about them. Even CityTV has more identifiable Canadian shows, like Ed the Sock (!). Global did have Traders for a long time, but that show is long gone.

Now they've cleaned house and are trying to make some changes so they can get back on a winning streak. One of the first to go is Train 48, that absolute no-budget waste of time with a bunch of people riding a GO Train on a commute home and making up their lines as they go along. It was on pretty much every day at 7PM on Global, occasionally pre-empted by Entertainment Tonight and Must-See-TV on Thursdays. I know people are moaning about its cancellation already, but personally I will NOT miss that show AT ALL.

In a way getting rid of this show is good news and bad news for Global at the same time. On the one hand they got rid of a boring, waste-of-time show that ranks with the truly terrible productions of Canadian TV history... like Ed the Sock, for example. (I was going to mention it in the same breath as The Trouble with Tracy, but decided not to- no show could be as bad as Tracy.) So getting rid of Train 48 frees up some real estate on TV for something better- which, quite simply, ought to be easy to find. That's the good news.

The bad news is this was a show everyone could point to and say "oh yeah, Train 48! That's that Canadian show on Global!" So it was something Global could point to and everyone could say nice things about how Global is putting money back into Canadian production and into Canadians' pockets. Personally, I don't care if a show's Canadian; if people watch the thing, then good, it should stay on the air. But like every other show, if it's a piece of nonsense that gets bad ratings, you have to get rid of it. The problem with too many Canadian productions is that they stay on the air because they're Canadian, not because they're any good. They're using the CRTC Canadian content rules as an excuse to keep their lousy production going. As a result, these shows give all Canadian content a bad name and make all Canadian productions out to be mediocre, second-rate trash, even when they aren't. But people whine and yell whenever someone tries to pull one of these crappy Canadian shows off the air, and they use the excuse that the Canadian networks aren't promoting Canadian productions, etcetera, to account for their show's rock-bottom ratings. Train 48 has no such excuse, though: Global TV promoted the heck out of it and gave it a prominent time slot. Now it's over.

So Train 48 is gone, and I say that's good. Maybe I'll have a choice on the dial at 7PM for a change, and I won't have to tune in to Wheel of Fortune.

Anyway, we'll see what Global has up its sleeve. They need to do something, fast.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Welcome back to the NHL Lockout Blog, which has been on ice for a while. But since Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow are back talking again in Toronto, and since there's increasing speculation that a deal will be done by July (just in time for the NBA's lockout!), I thought I might as well give you an update from the perspective of the fans once again.

And you may have noticed there's been quite a bit of news this week that has been hockey related and I will get to my thoughts about that in a moment. But first, time to talk about the very last hockey event of this wretched season.


Yes, the Finals have started with Game One of the championship series between... wait for it!... CHICAGO and PHILADELPHIA!

That's right, it's the Blackhawks and the Flyers in what is sure to be a... wait a minute, those guys are in Europe.

Rats, it's the crummy Wolves and Phantoms for that mediocre trophy the Calder Cup.
Never mind.

Actually, this isn't a bad matchup, these are two of the better franchises in the league. Chicago actually has a terrific organization, in fact. They've won three titles down there in Chicago with the Wolves and they play in a first-class facility at Allstate Arena. It's too bad when the minor-league team in town gets more wins and bigger crowds than the supposed major-league club. It's even worse when the major league club isn't playing games at all.

Anyway, the NHL-starved fans in those two cities still have hockey they can go see. It's just desserts that the final is basically a major market all-NHL final series. It ought to have been Rochester versus Binghamton, or somebody. As I say the AHL belongs to the smaller market cities like Hershey and Providence and Portland. It shouldn't be serving as the official replacement to NHL hockey in the NHL's cities. But that's the way it worked out all season long in places like Edmonton and Toronto and Buffalo. We wound up with AHL games whether we wanted it or not.

I've been looking around to see who might be carrying the finals in Canada but it looks as if none of the big networks are even bothering, at least not with Game One. TSN is showing an NBA playoff game, Sportsnet has a baseball game planned for this evening, and The Score has the WWE. And of course CBC, CTV and Global have better things to do than show the AHL. Surely somebody's carrying these games, maybe one of the digital channels like Leafs TV or the NHL Network, but those stations have hardly any subscribers. I'm frustrated because I can't even log on to the website to get the audio webcast, apparently it's been crashed by a flood of frustrated Canadian hockey fans. I guess no one cares about televising hockey in this country unless a Canadian team is involved. It's surprising that the Calder Cup has garnered so little interest.


In other big news contract negotiations broke down between the NHL and ESPN once and for all. The folks in Bristol finally got fed up with the uncertainty and with the nonsense surrounding the National Hockey League and broke it off and went home. If they do a deal with the NHL it's gonna be profit-sharing. A la PBA Tour, Arena Football League, you name it.

I've already stated what I think of this situation, it's obvious nobody in the United States CARES about hockey at all. They can't even get the world championships or any other big events shown down there. ESPN might have thought that maybe they had some clout with the National Hockey League and that by initially dumping the 60 million dollar deal they had with the NHL over the weekend that the NHL might run back to the table and settle their labour mess. Usually when a major network threatens to pull a TV deal, sports leagues listen and get motivated to settle their problems. Well, we see how that all worked out. ESPN has no clout at all with the NHL, the NHL wasn't worried enough about ESPN to want to do a deal with them.

No mistaking it, this is a blow to the reputation of the NHL, this loss of ESPN. This hurts this sport badly. All the other sports out there, even the marginal ones like Major League Soccer whose audience consists mainly of friends and relatives of the players, have some presence on ESPN or somewhere else on national cable. For the NHL to basically be kicked off the network in such a humiliating fashion is a death blow. They have no cable contract in the US to speak of right now. True, the NBA weren't on ESPN either for a lot of years, but that was different: they were on TNT several nights a week. And had a big network deal with CBS and then NBC. The NHL now has been reduced to rubble as far as TV is concerned in the United States. All that's left are a few games on NBC, which is now the official home of every marginal American sport you can think of, especially Arena Football. What a state of affairs.

Where does the NHL go from here? Well, they could go to TNT, which has a relationship with NBC on a lot of the sports broadcasts. They could go to Fox Sports and get their games on FX. Those would be the two most viable options. Darnet, they have to show their playoff games somewhere, they can't rely on local cable stations like FSN, Comcast or MSG to do that. A lot of these stations run baseball games in April and May! Is this ever a mess for the NHL. Getting kicked off of ESPN makes this whole league look really bush-league, in addition to all its other problems.


Finally, a brief word about Canada's junior championship won by the London Knights 4-0 in the final game on the weekend. As a former Londoner myself I am mighty excited about this accomplishment, and it's a great win for the franchise and for the whole city after so many years of mediocrity and disappointment. The Knights had the best record in the country and one of the most amazing seasons anyone ever heard of. They got their fans worried in the playoffs a couple of times, losing a couple of games in the OHL playoffs and having some close contests, but they did win the OHL title in the end. And they beat the best opposition they could come up with (Sidney Crosby and Rimouski) to win the Memorial Cup title.

The Memorial Cup is a great event and I had occasion to go to the tournament as a spectator when I lived in Saskatoon. Having said that, I'm not a big fan of the Memorial Cup format; the home team automatically gets a berth every year, so London could have sat at home and done nothing all year and still have played in the Memorial Cup. To their credit, they played hard all year. But because London won the OHL title, the OTTAWA 67s automatically got into the Memorial Cup tournament as the OHL representative, even though they did nothing in the OHL playoffs.

Oh all right, so they won one game against London in the OHL finals. Big deal. Thanks to the CHL's goofy rules, they got a second crack at knocking off London by being allowed into this tournament, which they didn't deserve to be in at all as far as I was concerned. I don't care that they beat Kelowna in double-overtime in the tournament, Ottawa didn't deserve to be there because they were the champions of nothing. The Saskatoon Blades didn't deserve to be in the Memorial Cup the year they were in it, either, because they also were the champions of nothing. Yet they almost won the whole thing.

The other problem is it comes down to a single winner-take-all game in the end, one game for the whole shebang, and I don't like it. It should be best two-out-of-three or something. This isn't supposed to be some tournament like the world juniors or the world championships, with a bunch of countries competing. This was one game for the championship of the whole CHL! I was worried that London's whole record-setting season would go down the drain because of just one game.

But they did smoke Rimouski in that game 4-0, and also beat them during the round-robin, went undefeated in fact, so you have say the best team did win in the end and that it was a successful Memorial Cup. And apparently there were wild celebrations in the streets of London, a big parade, etcetera.

There's not one person in the city of London, Ontario who cares about the NHL today.

As for the NHL, hopefully a deal will be done soon, but it will be too late for any of us. Here it is, June, and nothing but the NBA Finals to look forward to for any of us chumps. And we don't even have Steve Nash to cheer for, either.