Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ON THIS CONRAD MURRAY SENTENCE

Well, today Dr. Conrad Murray got his sentence for his involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson, and California's justice system yet again proved a mockery. Murray got the maximum, all right: four years, but he'll be serving less than two years of it in total in county jail. Why? Because all the jails in California are overcrowded and have no room for convicts like him. So he'll be out in no time, making room for other, more violent offenders.

Is it any wonder that people are ticked off over this? California's justice system -- what a joke. Again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

THE LAST WORD ON THIS MONTH'S PROVINCIAL ELECTION

Since Sunday mornings are usually the time for political talk on TV, I thought I would provide this long-overdue link to my monthly column with thoughts on the Saskatchewan provincial election results from November 7, focusing my attention on the local results of the Battlefords riding.

Also, here is my First Person Adventures on the Campaign Trail story, where I recount what it was like following the leaders during the election. Sort of like "The Boys on the Bus", except I never actually made it onto the bus: I only took the picture of it (see opposite).

As for post-election news -- there is no change to the cabinet, at least for now, and the legislature returns to work on December 5th for the Throne Speech. Meanwhile the NDP have picked Regina MLA John Nilson to serve as interim leader until a permanent leader is selected next year. 

---------------------------------------------

That is finally it for my Saskatchewan election coverage. Honestly, I don't know what will keep my interest where I am right now, as the major news has completely dried up and we are looking at no more federal or provincial elections around here until 2015. There was also no official "Black Friday" where I was here in frozen Canada, so I couldn't even cover that (although to be honest, I had the day off anyway because I had worked the previous weekend). Life is dull around here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NBA LOCKOUT IS OVER!!!


They finally came to their senses and realized they ran the risk of turning off all their fans if this kept up much longer. The season starts just in time --- on Christmas Day, so they saved Christmas for the NBA.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NICKELBACK

Despite all the controversy from Detroiters who wanted someone from Detroit's musical tradition, or anyone else for that matter to play at halftime of the Lions-Packers Thanksgiving game today, the folks in charge said to heck with the paying customers and chose Canadian band Nickelback. That drew protests from people who thought Nickelback was terrible and a terrible choice, etc etc. There was even an online petition.

Anyway, the organizers stood firm and Nickelback played at halftime today. Indeed, there were some people booing. All I have to say is that there is a reason why folks were up at arms over this decision: these guys are no good!

It's not that they gave a particularly lousy performance at halftime today: it was more that they were simply lousy to begin with, period! I don't even remember what the heck it was they played, and that's the problem right there: all their music is forgetable.

Please, folks in the USA, whatever you do, do not blame Canada for this. It's not our fault these guys are from our country.

Oh, and I understand they play at the Grey Cup on Sunday. So much for that halftime show, then. You can't escape Nickelback, even if you want to.

HAPPY FOOTBALL DAY

It's Thanksgiving Day in the USA, and you know what that means. Lots of NFL action. And you know what that ALSO means. That's right, it's my annual excuse to put up a picture of the hottest Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader I can find.

Well, here she is. (Hey, something for the fans to be thankful, for, right?) Enjoy the games, guys.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MOVIE BOX OFFICE: BREAKING DAWN, PLUS THE RETURN OF THE MUPPETS

I haven't really been following the movie box office too much lately, as I've been preoccupied with other more important business over the last several weeks.

Apparently, the box office was in a bit of a slump for a number of months, based on what I've read at Deadline Hollywood. But according to them, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 has broken that long slump.

It almost set the Twilight record opening, based on this report at Box Office Mojo. Not bad for a movie getting killed by the critics. It just seems to me, though, that it doesn't matter. The Twilight fans are Twilight fans and they love the Twilight movies no matter what anyone else thinks. As for guys, you won't find many of us caught dead in a theater watching it, that's for sure.

There are some predictions out there for the Thanksgiving weekend that this flick will hold the Number One spot, which surprises me a little because The Muppets are coming out. I would have thought The Muppets would just clean up and dominate, because I don't know one person who doesn't like the Muppets. 

The movie, co-written by big Muppet fan Jason Segel (who also stars in it), is getting exceptional reviews. The story is about how all the Muppets reunite to save the Muppet Theater from being razed. You'd think kids would go crazy over it, but maybe the Muppets have just been gone from the scene too long. Anyway, I still think it might do very well and rake in the dough in the end. The Muppets are due for a huge comeback.

Here's an interesting thread in the National Post all about the Muppets, with readers voting on who is the greatest Muppet of them all.

Check it out, it's fun reading. That's it for now.

THE US CONGRESS IS A JOKE

So the big bipartisan Super Committee in the USA, that was supposed to find spending cuts in the wake of the budget deal compromise and subsequent credit-rating debacle, has disbanded over their partisan differences.

Why am I not surprised? There might have been a time in US history not too long ago when the two parties could bridge their differences, but not anymore. The rot of partisan politics is crippling the US government and is splitting apart and ruining the United States. Common sense seems to have left the building.

Monday, November 21, 2011

VERY COLD NEWS FROM NOWHERE FOR THIS MONDAY: SID THE KID RETURNS, AND THE GOP STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHO TO NOMINATE

And now, another News from Nowhere from my cold neck of the woods. Yes, where I am there is snow on the ground everywhere and conditions are getting terrible already. They tell me it will warm up later this week. I'm not holding out hope. 

After watching Tony Stewart wrap up the NASCAR title in a thrilling nail-biter finish, and after seeing David Beckham lift the MLS Cup for the LA Galaxy (good luck ever seeing Toronto do that), it's been a hectic weekend of sports. What could possibly top all that?

What else -- the return of Sidney Crosby to the Penguins from a concussion. Can you believe this was the top story on the CBC News earlier today? Someone tell the CBC that Crosby plays for a team in the 'States.

Other stuff -- a big week of TV wrapped last week with the departure of Regis Philbin from the airwaves of Regis and Kelly. Definitely the end of an era. 

In other TV news and proof that TV news is going to hell, NBC News has hired media-hating Chelsea Clinton (refused to grant media interviews, etc.) as a correspondent. Why couldn't they have phoned me up for the gig?? Even I have more news and TV experience. I've even agreed to be interviewed by the press, something Ms. Clinton has apparently refused. I don't get it!!!  

One more piece of TV news to tell you about: there's an online petition that about 100,000 have signed calling for the Kardashians and their TV shows to be booted from TV.

Now, that's an idea. Here's another: why not also boot off all the Real Housewives, too, while we are at it? Seriously, reality TV is the reason why so many people would rather go surfing videos on the Web or playing Angry Birds on their iPhones.  


In the USA presidential sweepstakes, nothing has changed. The Republicans still don't seem to want Mitt Romney (pictured), who with every passing day appears doomed to be the Best President America Never Had.

Meanwhile, these silly GOPers still have no clue who else to support in his place. Apparently the Tea Partiers are starting to be bored with Herman Cain and all of his problems (just as they got bored with Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann). Their latest infatuation: Newt Gingrich.

The polls have Gingrich leading now, which is amazing since earlier this year his campaign was in the tank and his entire staff quit. Apparently, he's now possibly on the brink of beating Romney in New Hampshire, a state Romney ought to have locked up. Will this Gingrich boom last? I dunno. He still has all kinds of skeletons in his closet just waiting to be unearthed.

I think eventually this Gingrich boom, too, will pass. Something will finish him off, and these Republicans will be back supporting Michele Bachmann in no time flat, having forgiven and forgotten all her past nutty statements. Or maybe they'll finally say to heck with it and nominate Ron Paul. Apparently, he's supposed to be surging in Iowa, now, too, just like Gingrich is. It has been that sort of a race.

I really do think these hard-line GOP radicals are going to hurl the party right off the cliff if they are not careful. They're going to hand the next election to the Democrats. I still say the GOP should just nominate Romney if they have any sense at all, but the GOP seems to have lost their senses, as David Frum is rightly pointing out in New York magazine today.

Read this blurb that the death of Natalie Wood from years ago is back under investigation as the case is reopened. 

Finally, some baseball news. The Toronto Blue Jays are taking a retro page from their glory years with their redesigned uniforms. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles are reviving their goofy cartoon bird logo.

Good moves. It's stuff like silly cartoon birds that makes baseball fun for the fans. That's all for now.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NASCAR ROARS TO A FINISH

Just a reminder to myself that there is just one race left on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar today at Homestead-Miami in Florida. It's the finale of the Chase and it's either going to be Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart lifting the Sprint Cup.

All I want to say is I hope this NASCAR season finale doesn't end the way the INDYCAR season finale did in Las Vegas earlier this year. The race fans definitely do not want to see another scary death on the track like what happened to Dan Wheldon.

Needless to say I care about this race a lot more than I care about the current CFL playoffs, particularly because a certain team isn't in them this year. So auto racing gets my vote for one final week before I turn all my attention to the NFL. That's all, folks. Boogity, boogity, boogity! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

FRIDAY NIGHT WITHOUT THE NBA

I'm learning to live without these greedy bums in the NBA. Friday night is usually a big NBA night from ESPN at this time of year, but because these jokers are still locked out and since the NBA has cancelled even more games now through mid-December, I am reduced to watching college football and whatever else I can find on TV. Tonight Oklahoma State is playing Iowa State in an important game with BCS implications. And that's basically about it.

I'm just trying to not be bored. My main objective right now is to find ways to fill my time so that I don't find myself feeling deprived of my usual sports fix. Right now Thursdays are taken care of with the NFL, Fridays usually have a good college football game, Saturday is college football, hockey, soccer and the fights, Sunday is the NFL (and NASCAR for one final week), and more soccer (and by the way, the MLS CUP is this Sunday). And Mondays is Monday Night Football.

That leaves Tuesdays and Wednesdays as days when I need to fill some time up with something. I figure college hoops, the NHL, and poker reruns will do me fine. 

It's not as if I really care that the NBA is gone, since my favorite team the Raptors would be losing anyway. But the main reason I don't really care is because it's obvious the NBA doesn't care. My attitude, and the attitude fans really ought to take, is this: if NBA owners and players don't care about whether their games are played, why should we?

Anyway, this fiasco has completely messed up the TV schedules of the NBA rights holders and you can see from this article what their alternative plans are. 

All in all, I should be fine as long as football season lasts. Let them eat cake, that's what I say about the NBA owners and players right now.

UPDATE: Well, that college football game sure had major BCS implications, now, didn't it? Happy times for supporters of Iowa State, winners in double-overtime 37-31. Who cares about the NBA when you have games like that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

PLAYERS REJECT OWNERS' OFFER, NBA SEASON IN BIG TROUBLE NOW

All in all I am not surprised by what happened today, I was totally prepared for the bad news. The NBA players union rejected the owners' latest offer -- and furthermore, they are decertifying the union and taking the league to court. All I have to say is this is likely to put the whole NBA season on the scrapheap. I just don't see any real possibility for a deal now. Enjoy college hoops, and the NHL, folks, because there isn't much else to look forward to once the NFL ends.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

UFC ON FOX WAS A KNOCKOUT

First of all I want to congratulate UFC president Dana White for bringing his sport to prime time TV with the UFC on FOX. This is not only great for mixed martial arts, but great for the fans and an excellent way to promote the sport and keep in in the public eye. So I hope this continues for a long time to come.

I also want to thank Dana White, for another reason. By putting tonight's Heavyweight Championship fight in Anaheim between  Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on in prime time instead of Pay Per View, he saved fight fans TONS of MONEY that they otherwise would have been forced to shell out. For that, fans are very thankful on this night in particular...

... because IT WAS A LOUSY FIGHT. Dos Santos knocked out Velasquez in the first round in swift fashion to gain the heavyweight title. So, yes, it was a good thing this was on free TV in prime time, because otherwise a lot of fans would have completely wasted their money.

So, thanks again, Dana White, for looking out for the fans and saving them money! Better luck next time.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

RICK PERRY OOPS, JOE PATERNO FIRED, AND OTHER NEWS FROM NOWHERE

In a week when Silvio Berlusconi walks the plank in Italy with that country's debt levels out of control and threatening to sink Europe, here is my latest News from Nowhere on this side of the earth.

Well, after a heavy week covering political wins and losses in Saskatchewan, you would think I would be ready to be done with politics for a while.

But no. Instead I watched the hilarious CNBC Republican presidential debate from Detroit. If you missed it, believe me, you really missed out.

First they went after Herman Cain on all these latest sexual harassment allegations against him. He got big applause from the audience for denying those charges. But that was nothing compared to Rick Perry, who embarrassed himself when he made a case for eliminating three federal US departments, only to forget which one of them to eliminate. He couldn't remember the third one, and even said "oops."

My goodness. If it is possible for a presidential campaign to end because of a bad debate performance, this was it. This has to rank as one of the worst debate gaffes ever.

Anyway, as I have said before -- why the heck don't these Republicans simply get on with nominating Mitt Romney already? He's clearly the only one of the bunch who's electable. He's clearly not a lunatic. Moreover, it's also clear he's the only one who can actually hold his own in a televised debate after last night's display of incompetence by Rick Perry!

Yet these GOP voters still can't make up their bleeping minds whether to vote for him or not. Get on with it, folks.  

Other news: Penn State University is in an uproar today over all these terrible criminal sex and abuse allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, all involving children. Joe Paterno was fired as head football coach last night, apparently for not doing enough to report it or stop it when he was told of it. He went to the athletic director and a vice-president at the university with what he was told. Both of them are now charged with failing to report it to authorities. What Paterno should have done was call the cops in the first place. He didn't, and now he's out of a job.

Now you have these students protesting and demanding Paterno be reinstated, which kind of misses the point in my view. Paterno had a responsibility as head coach, as a leader, to intervene and call in the authorities, and just didn't do it. So he had to go, in spite of all the rest of the good things he did during his coaching career. Anyway, it is a very sad situation, and the revelations of what went on are getting to be very ugly, with rumors being reported now of the university possibly covering it up. If that really happened, then this university is going to be in big trouble.

Finally I want to say that I am really starting to miss the NBA, there is literally nothing interesting to watch as far as sports is concerned these days on the weeknights. Talks went on Wednesday and there seems to be some movement and more reason for optimism, but there is no deal yet. Again, just as I said with Mitt Romney: get on with it, guys. Do a deal and get it over with. We sports fans are suffering right now.

And some fun news to end on now. The Miss World contest was last weekend, and guess who won the whole thing? That's right  -- Miss Venezuela won it all. Again. Venezuela is DEFINITELY still the home of the beauty queens! (Oh, and there was a lot of picketing outside by uptight protesters.)

That's all for now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

WSOP HAS A CHAMPION

I ended up not staying up late to see the end of the World Series of Poker final table on ESPN -- I guess I was too tired after all that election coverage the previous night. In any event, the final heads-up matchup lasted a very long time and saw several lead changes.

Pius Heinz ended up the winner and becomes the first German to win the Main Event title. He collects both the WSOP bracelet as well as $8,711,956. For a full live-blog recap of the final night at the Rio in Las Vegas, here's Tao of Poker.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

WSOP MAIN EVENT FINAL THREE GO AT IT TONIGHT

Just a reminder to the whole wide world that the World Series of Poker final table resumes tonight with the final table of three remaining players tonight in Las Vegas. Updates here, and live coverage here. They're also doing inductions to the Poker Hall of Fame prior to the final table tonight.

It's the culmination of what has been an absolutely terrible year for poker in the US of A, but at least this tournament has been good for getting peoples' minds off of the Internet poker situation and has provided a lot of excitement. As well, the live TV coverage this year from ESPN has been excellent.

(Except in Canada, where TSN didn't even bother to show us the final table coverage on Sunday, forcing the poker fans to follow the action on the Web instead. Typical. They don't show enough NCAA football games up here either.)

Who will take home the grand prize: Pius Heinz, Ben Lamb or Martin Staszko? We shall soon find out.

UPDATE: Lamb busted out in third place and right now it's a tug of war between Staszko and Heinz.

Monday, November 07, 2011

HUGE VICTORY FOR BRAD WALL AND THE SASKPARTY

49 SEATS TO 9!!!! Even NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter lost his seat. Biggest popular vote landslide in Saskatchewan history (64 percent)!

Story from the CBC. Story from the Star-Phoenix. More about the results soon.

SASKATCHEWAN ELECTION NIGHT

Well, it's finally here. Election Night. The results will come in beginning at 8PM CST. That's 9PM Eastern, 6PM Pacific for the rest of you out there. And no, I am not expecting a long night.

I'll be helping with the News-Optimist election coverage which you can find here. Also, here are links to the other election coverage:
CBC News
Star-Phoenix
Global TV
CTV
CKOM
Sun News Network

I'll post results here eventually, but those are your best bets for the live breaking coverage. Enjoy, political junkies.

DR. CONRAD MURRAY FOUND GUILTY

The big verdict came down today. Guilty of involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson. And it all ended with Dr. Murray being escorted out of the courtroom in cuffs.

The story here. More later.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

WORLD SERIES OF POKER FINAL TABLE TODAY

We interrupt live continuing coverage of the situation in Greece to let you know that today the World Series of Poker Main Event goes to a final table in Las Vegas! The way it will work today is nine players will play down to three remaining, and then the final three will play Tuesday for the title.

The format last year had them playing down to two on Saturday and then reconvening on Monday with heads-up play. I think the WSOP wanted to avoid a situation like last year, when the two chipleaders Jonathan Duhamel and Joseph Cheong decided to get it over with before heads-up play even began  and went all-in for the biggest pot ever. Heck, there's no glory in finishing second anyway, so why not go for it all right away. Cheong lost the pot, busted out soon after in third place and it led to a very boring heads-up showdown with Duhamel having an absolutely insurmountable chip lead on John Racener. Needless to say, it ended pretty quickly. In short, it made for very dull poker. At least with the way it is set up this year, you figure there will be more drama going to Tuesday with three players still in it.

PokerNews has final table coverage here. Also, the live stream is back up here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

BRAD WALL TALKS TO EZRA LEVANT

I have to say that I've really enjoyed what Sun News Network has been doing this fall with their "Election Season" coverage of the provincial elections all over Canada. They are basically giving the provinces their due and going from place to place providing election coverage, and I think it's great. It's really putting that news operation on the map.

Next week, they're planning to put up a similar effort in providing live results from Saskatchewan, which may seem a little surprising since there is hardly any interest in this foregone conclusion of an election. I haven't even seen many blog posts about it anywhere from too many political people -- meanwhile, there were lots of people out there commenting on the Ontario and Manitoba votes. Still, I think it's good that Sun News is showcasing Saskatchewan and showing the rest of the country the interesting political scene here.

Today, Ezra Levant of Sun News was on the banks of Wascana Lake interviewing Premier Brad Wall, and you can see that here.

NEWS FLASH: ELECTION IS STILL A BLOWOUT

Well, the latest poll numbers are in for the Saskatchewan election, and they remain about as bad as they have been before for the NDP. In fact, it's even worse: the Saskatchewan Party has an unheard-of 40-point lead! The numbers are 66 to 26 percent.

I gotta say, this really looks ridiculous, and we are looking at the biggest rout in the history of Saskatchewan on Monday. It'll possibly make the 1982 Grant Devine "Monday Night Massacre" look like a minor flesh wound. But I think this poll is on to something about where the public is at in Saskatchewan. You know, the final results could still end up closer, but I have to say, even a 30-point margin would be damaging to the NDP. Even a 20-point spread would be a terrible result. There is nothing good about the situation the NDP is in today in Saskatchewan three days to the big vote.

Here's the story on the poll numbers from Praxis Analytics' poll for the Leader-Post and Star-Phoenix. Also, here's Murray Mandryk's take on the whole situation. 

Also, here is my analysis of the state of the campaigns in the Northwest region heading to election day.   

Thursday, November 03, 2011

ON THE GONG SHOW IN GREECE

Enough about the election in Saskatchewan. Now on to some talk about the situation in Greece, which is really getting to gong show proportions. The scary thing about it all is that the whole European economy, not to mention the world economy, might be riding on what is happening.

First there was the idiot decision by Prime Minister George Papandreou to put the issue of a debt deal to a referendum, only to back away after a hostile market reaction and some heavy lobbying from Euro leaders like France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel. Actually, it kind of sounds as if they read them the Riot Act.

Also, you had the opposition storm out of Parliament, and now it looks like they're going to try and vote non-confidence in the prime minister tomorrow. All in all, this looks like a mess.

I think everyone needs to take a step back, and try and restore sanity right away to the parliamentary situation for the greater good of Europe and the whole wide world. The world's stock markets don't need this chaos from the Greeks, they need some order restored. Maybe it will do Greece a lot of good in the long run if they kick the current prime minister out, but not right now. Right now they need to just get a freaking debt deal through so that the entire world economy doesn't fall off a cliff. AGAIN. Enough said.

CHANGE OF PLANS: TRUDEAU A NO SHOW

Well, when it rains it pours, and it was definitely pouring on the Liberals in Saskatchewan. This is definitely not what the local Liberals needed to win the Battlefords riding. Justin Trudeau was supposed to be in Saskatchewan today helping the Ryan Bater Liberal campaign in North Battleford and Saskatoon. It was much anticipated, even promoted on the Liberals' own website.

Unfortunately a bill went before the House at the last minute, so Trudeau had to stay in Ottawa and his whole tour ended up on the scrapheap. He never showed up.

At least, not in person. I guess he appeared by Skype at these events today. Well, I guess that's one way to use new media in politics, by making virtual public appearances.

What's worse for the Liberals was the fact that Premier Brad Wall WAS in North Battleford today, as were four cabinet ministersMy account of the day here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

SASK ELECTION: BRAD WALL, JUSTIN TRUDEAU TO VISIT NORTHWEST TOMORROW

Well, we are sort of in a holding pattern on the Saskatchewan election trail where I am, with some big political visits scheduled for tomorrow in the Northwest. Premier Brad Wall is holding a big event at the Tropical Inn in North Battleford for the Saskatchewan Party. Also due to visit Saskatchewan tomorrow: Justin Trudeau, here to help out Liberal Ryan Bater.

Last week it was Ralph Goodale in the city for a joint press conference with Bater on the Liberals' plans to cut spending. So I was there covering that. Also, here are two, yes two, of my stories on the Battlefords election candidates forum that went on last week.

It sometimes seems like I'm the only reporter in Saskatchewan who even bothers covering the Liberals on a regular basis. Anyway, it's good that Premier Brad Wall is coming here tomorrow, it'll save me from covering the Liberals yet again. 

In other election news, a new poll is meant to be released tomorrow by the Star-Phoenix and Leader-Post showing whether this race has stopped being a complete blowout yet. The last two polls done last week showed pretty ridiculous margins in favor of the Saskatchewan Party. Premier Wall has been going around downplaying them, warning about complacency and so on.

Also, I've decided to link you to some election pages with media coverage of the campaign. The Star-Phoenix page is here. The Rawlco Radio (CKOM, CJME) page is here. And the CBC page is here.