Thursday, September 29, 2011

BASEBALL IS CRAZY

What else is there to say after all the baseball action last night? I was glued to the TV and flipping channels like everyone else, tuned in to the Yankees-Rays game that the Yankees led 7-0, only to see TB tie the game on a home run in the 9th; the Phillies-Braves game that Atlanta lost 4-3 in 13 innings at home to lose the wild card spot to the Cardinals; and the amazing Red Sox-Orioles game that ended up in a rain delay for the longest time.

When it resumed, Boston blew a 3-2 lead in the 9th and lost 4-3 in Baltimore, and then just minutes later they watched on TV as Evan Longoria completed the Rays comeback with a 12th-inning home run to knock the hapless Sox out of the playoffs. As you can see below, the commentators are taking it hard in Boston.



Talk about a nightmare finish for the Red Sox, who blew a nine game lead for the wild card spot in September. I say the Curse of the Bambino is back.  Anyway, I found myself rooting for the Orioles, mainly because I wanted to see Boston cut down a notch. The Red Sox reminded the fans that they are the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Anyway, here's what Bill Simmons had to say about the whole Red Sox collapse. What a night of baseball. It's hard to imagine the playoffs being any better than this.

(And oh, by the way -- this is a good case to not expand the playoffs.)

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UPDATE: After the Red Sox' shocking collapse on Wednesday, manager Terry Francona has walked the plank.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DR. CONRAD MURRAY TRIAL IS ON

Pretty emotional first day of the trial from LA. The story from KTLA and from the LA Times.

 

Monday, September 26, 2011

NO TV FOR ME TONIGHT

It will have to be a couple more days yet until I give my further thoughts on the new TV season. All I will say for now is that I saw all of five minutes of Pan Am on Sunday night and was totally unimpressed, and switched back to football on the other channel.

Overall, I'd say it's pretty hard to give thoughts on TV when I am totally unable to watch TV. Tonight and tomorrow, I was/am on assignment, right in the middle of prime time. Not happy about it -- I would rather be in front of my beloved television set, but that's life.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

RICK PERRY CAMPAIGN GOING NOWHERE, AND OTHER NEWS FROM NOWHERE FOR THIS SUNDAY

Welcome to another News from Nowhere for this Sunday, a weekend I am spending on assignment for the paper covering local happenings. Fortunately, there isn't much happening here, which allows me time to update this blog with the real happenings going on around the world -- such as, politics in the USA.

This weekend was the straw poll in Florida and to the shock and surprise of everyone, the poll was won by none other than Herman Cain, with Rick Perry barely beating out Mitt Romney for second. Now, I don't take these straw polls seriously, because it seems to me that it's mainly wingnuts and other radicals who vote at these things. For some reason, though, the bigshots in the press in the USA are taking this result seriously, and it has proven to be a really bad result for Rick Perry. People had been playing up Perry as one of the frontrunners along with Romney, but he had a less-than-stellar debating showing, and now this loss to Cain has exposed all kinds of problems with his campaign.

I'm beginning to think Romney's the clear GOP favorite now, what with Perry's latest problems and with Michele Bachmann's campaign going in the tank over her comments over some vaccine or other that I couldn't care less about. The real problem with Bachmann's campaign is she's too busy focusing on these social issues that nobody cares about when she ought to be focusing on telling Americans how she would lead them out of the economic dumpster.

People in the GOP want to see a credible contender to President Barack Obama emerge, and more and more of these GOP "pretenders" are showing "the wrong stuff" and eliminating themselves from contention. Anyway, it looks like Romney's ahead this week, but there's still a long way to go in this thing yet.

As for Obama, his political problems are so immense right now that there are people out there already writing editorials calling for him to maybe get out of the 2012 race. Not a bad idea. In fact, I have an even better idea -- why not quit right now?! Even CBC's Rex Murphy is on his case, calling him "disastrous". 

Enough about American politics. In other news, campaigns are going on in most of Canada for provincial elections. Several provinces go to the polls the first week of October, with Ontario voting October 6. One poll has the Ontario election too close to call, which I find hard to believe given all the tax increases and dishonesty that Dalton McGuinty's government has inflicted on Ontarians. His party ought to be way behind, yet here they are tied with the PCs. Are people there such gluttons for punishment that they are willing to re-elect him to Queen's Park again?!

Fear not -- you free-enterprise types stuck in Ontario can always move to Alberta. Recently, the always-smiling Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi went on a tour of eastern Canada playing up Calgary and saying how great it is in the West. Right now Calgary is looking awfully good as a potential destination for Easterners. In fact, the whole region is doing great. Hey, I voted with my feet and moved West. It worked for me and it can work for you.

Back to elections for a moment -- Saskatchewan's provincial vote is this fall and witty Les MacPherson has this look about the dire state of affairs for the Saskatchewan NDP. I gotta say, when you have people like MacPherson making jokes at the NDP's expense, things are bad.

As I said before -- Saskatchewan has gotten to be a really conservative place these days, both provincially and federally.

I sure hope you're enjoying the NFL season and the NASCAR season, because it sure looks like you won't be enjoying an NBA season for a while. These clowns cancelled their first pre-season week, although the folks at ESPN say it is still too soon to P A N I C.

It's also too soon to P A N I C about the global economic situation, although Europe is still in trouble and people are still worried about a Greece default.

I have no idea where that satellite that was supposed to have fallen out of the sky landed. It looks as if the debris probably landed in the Pacific Ocean. It sounds like it didn't land on a human being, which is good.

And finally in news, I saw Moneyball on Friday night. Review to come.

That's it for right now. Coming soon: another update on the new TV season, which I am absolutely not excited about one bit.          

Thursday, September 22, 2011

DID YOU ALL REALLY THINK WE WERE DONE WITH TRIAL COVERAGE ON TV?

We are all still recovering from all the Casey Anthony trial coverage on TV during the summer. She's out of jail now and presumably in hiding, and the legal analysts have pretty much said all that they are going to say about it. It has left quite a void for the trial junkies looking for a case to follow and get upset about.

But never fear. Everyone is going to be back to work very soon covering yet another trial that is sure to be a big circus again. I am, of course, talking about the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, accused of killing Michael Jackson.

(Jackson, of course, had a well-publicized trial of his own at one point in time.) 

The folks at HLN are planning wall-to-wall saturation coverage of this latest trial, just like they did with Casey Anthony. It's sure to be fun. I'm sure Nancy Grace will have lots to say about it after she's done Dancing With the Stars.

You know, wouldn't it be funny if on the first day of the trial Murray changed his plea to guilty?! Then what will the networks do?!

(P.S.  -- In too many of the local legal cases I cover, this is EXACTLY what happens -- the lawyers enter a guilty plea and it's all over on the first day, and everyone goes home.)

FULL TILT PONZI

To say it's a mess doesn't even describe it when it comes to Full Tilt Poker these days. No doubt, some business journalist should get started on the book about this wretched company. No doubt a movie is on the way, too. Believe me, I can hardly wait for it -- it ought to be a good one.

The big story from earlier this week is that the US Attorney's office is lodging a civil complaint accusing Full Tilt Poker of being a Ponzi scheme for its rich owners.

They're saying the poker players who had signed up with Full Tilt were being credited with phony money in their accounts. The money that was in their accounts was apparently raided by the owners to fund their operations! There was supposed to be $400 million in player funds but there was actually $60 million!

Wow, no wonder the players can't get any money back if this is what is going on over there. What a gong show. Story from the Wall Street Journal.

I don't doubt things have really taken a turn for the worse over at Full Tilt Poker, and the players all have a right to be mad at them for failing to return their money and for a variety of mismanagement and alleged criminality over there.

But to call it a Ponzi scheme?! Wow, that's pretty charged language -- in league with Bernie Madoff and the like. Why not simply call them "crooks" and be done with it?

Some, like Pauly over at Tao of Poker, still wonder why the DoJ is going after the Full Tilt people and not the folks on Wall Street who ran the USA into the ground. Good point, but that doesn't excuse the folks over at Full Tilt Poker for raiding accounts, if that is what they were doing. It doesn't take a genius to realize that's a no-no. If Full Tilt Poker was having any serious cash-flow problems, they needed to shut themselves down and close down everyone's accounts, and return everyone's money. But they DIDN'T.

A lot of poker players are still waiting for Full Tilt to refund them their money, and if this is indeed what was going on, then it explains a lot about what has gone on over the past few months over at Full Tilt, what with player funds not getting returned and with their online license getting revoked and so on.

A lot of fingers are being pointed towards Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, the two star poker players who were the two biggest bigshots at Full Tilt Poker. Much of the poker community now hates their guts and wants them locked up, and the Epic Poker League has now kicked both of them out.

Well, someone has to take the blame for this mess, and if this mess was created due to players' funds getting raided, then there is no doubt in my mind that heads have to roll and people need to be thrown in jail. What this is, essentially, is players' money getting stolen, if true. End of story.

Anyway, here's a piece that ran on CNBC about this whole mess.


Once again though, I gotta say this is all a sad situation where once again the online players have wound up the biggest losers. The collateral damage as a result of all these "Ponzi" allegations is that you'll probably have people in the USA trying to use this as their excuse to continue efforts to keep on shutting down online poker. That's no good for the players who've made their living off online poker in the USA and who want to play on credible sites for real money. Some of them have even moved to Canada and elsewhere to continue playing online -- though, obviously, not for Full Tilt Poker anymore.  Personally, I think this whole mess involving Full Tilt is Exhibit A for why you need a regulated environment to begin with. If there were rules in place ensuring online poker sites were well-capitalized, you wouldn't have any of these problems. Period.

Anyway, this is all another black eye for poker. Too bad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RATINGS IN FOR THE START OF NEW TV SEASON: SHEEN-LESS "MEN" PREVAILS

As you may have noticed from watching your local TV channels, the rerun season is over and the new TV season is on with fresh new shows.

One of them was the much-anticipated season premiere of Two and a Half Men, sans Charlie Sheen but with Ashton Kutcher, which started out at his funeral packed with all of Charlie's jilted exes. Ratings for the premiere episode were through the roof -- apparently 28 million tuned in.

ABC ended up winning the night thanks to good ratings from Dancing With the Stars - in spite of the controversy surrounding the inclusion of Chaz Bono in the cast. Only in America would this be controversial -- though come to think of it, it might also be contoversial in Middle Eastern countries and parts of Asia and Africa, too. So maybe I shouldn't be so hard on the USA.

But really, these Americans who watch that show are so uptight these days. Their priorities seem to be misplaced -- they'd rather get upset over transgendered folks dancing on a television show than get around to solving their nation's problems.

Fans of the show were all threatening to boycott the season, just because someone with a sex change was on it. This seems common with viewers of that particular show -- I remember they also got mad when contestant Joanna Krupa posed for Playboy. Boy, are the viewers ever uptight.

Speaking of uptight --

Am I alone in thinking we aren't going to see The Playboy Club stick around NBC for very much longer? Ratings for the first episode were in the sink. You'd think, given all these boycotts and protests for months on end from the feminists and religious folks before even a single episode aired, that the controversies would have led to more curiosity from viewers, but no. No doubt, those stories simply turned off the boring folks at home, instead, in the States.

Too bad, but I just never thought it would do well on NBC on Monday night anyway, especially given what the competition was throwing at it. The women who might watch the show are all tuned to Castle on ABC at that hour, while guys who might otherwise be interested in seeing gorgeous Laura Benanti sing in a bunny suit on TV are instead all watching Monday Night Football on ESPN  -- or alternatively, if the game is a blowout, Hawaii Five-O. Hopefully it might get moved to another night -- that'll be the only hope to save the show now.

I think the real issue is that folks at NBC tried too hard to copy Mad Men, completely forgetting that Mad Men has also been a washout in the ratings pretty much ever since it began. Mad Men may be the coolest show on TV and the Sixties the coolest decade ever, but a sure-fire ratings winner it is not.

Trying to copy the 1961 vibe elsewhere might just not be the answer to a network's ratings woes. If it were we'd be seeing a lot more reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show on TV than we do now. (Whatever became of that show, anyway? It's nowhere to be seen these days.) That's all for now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

POLITICAL ARTICLES FROM MYSELF

Here are a couple of links to some articles about recent political happenings.

First of all, Parliament came back today and there were quite a few tributes paid to the late NDP leader Jack Layton. I thought on this occasion I would post this link to my column paying tribute to Layton. (I thought it would be a more classy approach for me to take in my column than to join in with the folks who were criticizing his funeral and so on.)

Also, we are in the middle of provincial election season all over the country. Campaigns are under way in Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland, PEI and soon here in Saskatchewan. In the runup to the Saskatchewan vote I recently interviewed provincial Liberal leader Ryan Bater, and that article can be found here. Sounds like his party is having to go the low-budget route, relying on YouTube and the like.

That's it for the moment.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

EMMYS WERE TONIGHT

I have little to say about this year's Emmys as I once again missed the entire show, just like last year. But fear not: you can read the live blog from Deadline Hollywood. Only read Deadline Hollywood if you are in a snarky mood -- which I'm in tonight, fortunately.

In other Emmy news, Alec Baldwin walked out of the show.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MOVIE COLUMNS ARE UP: TIFF MEMORIES, PLUS THE SUMMER BOX OFFICE IN REVIEW

Couple of movie links for your pleasure tonight. First, my article from earlier this month wrapping up the summer box office is up and I am finally linking to it.

Needless to say, Harry Potter was the big winner, but there were quite a few others. Personally, though, I am kind of glad the summer popcorn movies are out of the way. Now we can all look forward to some of the real movies coming out this fall (like Moneyball, 50/50, and a few others) -- some of which already premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Speaking of which: my recollections of the Toronto International Film Festival from my time there back in 2006. Hey, just because I am not in Toronto this year doesn't mean I have to miss out on all the fun of writing about it.

One of these days, I'll be covering the movies for real, full time -- that's what I keep on telling myself. Anyway, hopefully later this week I'll write about some of the intriguing movies from TIFF this year that I am actually interested in seeing. Hey, maybe I'll even review them! That is all for now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NEWS FROM NOWHERE ABOUT SEPT. 11TH ANNIVERSARY, THE ENTOURAGE FINALE AND OTHER HAPPENINGS

Well, it looks like I will be busy over the next couple of days or so, so this post will have to do, with a rundown on what is happening in the world of news.

First, we are on the eve of the 9/11 10-year anniversary, and if you can believe it, we are getting more threats of terrorism involving possibly a car bomb. Good grief, this is just what New York and the world needs right now -- more misery.

As for the 9/11 anniversary, people are remembering where they were. Here's what one of our local radio stations News Talk 650 CKOM had to say about their day of coverage.  Also, here is a look back at what happened at the Toronto International Film Festival on that fateful day.

While on the subject of misery,  the funeral was held today for Lokomotiv, and the team has now cancelled the rest of their season. 

Monday night is the Miss Universe Pageant from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and of course I won't be able to tune in to check out the women in bikinis on NBC, because I will be covering yet another city council meeting.

Found this piece on the Internet about Fox News anchor Shannon Bream and I found it interesting because, well, she quit being a lawyer so she could go into TV news. Not the first time that's happened. 

Also, financial reporter Nicole Lapin has quit CNBC to start a production company.

Finally, so long to Entourage whose HBO series finale show is tomorrow. I'm going to miss that show, even though quite frankly it went off the rails a couple of years ago. It's my contention this series has gone downhill ever since the season when their movie project Medellin bombed at the Cannes Film Festival.

People are saying this show should have ended years ago, but I think it could have gone on even longer had these fools in charge not completely botched the job right up in the past three seasons. They could have come up with storylines that were (a) compelling, and (b) not so freaking annoying -- like, for example, this Ari-Mrs. Ari divorce storyline they've got going.

Am I the only one annoyed with Mrs. Ari and her overall unreasonableness? She should be thanking her stars she has a faithful husband who still loves her, even if he is a blowhard and an embarrassment at times. Talk about a woman who won't stand by her husband -- what a ***** !!!    

The whole on-again, off-again romance storyline between E and Sloan is annoying, too, and E sleeping with her stepmom is a new low. This is why this show has managed to tick off the critics in the past year -- they've been focusing on all this boring/crazy relationship stuff and getting away from stories about the interesting movie projects these guys had going, like Queen's Boulevard or Aquaman or the rest of them.

Now, we're reduced to storylines about TV movie projects and this idiotic cartoon Johnny Drama has going, Johnny's Bananas. No wonder this show is ending, then, if this is the best they can do for a plot. Anyway, maybe the finale will find a way to come up with some sort of happy ending for all these jokers.

I had to rant and rave because I'm sad and mad that the show is ending, but these folks in charge really failed to deliver the goods the way they did the first few years.

One of these days this week I should do up a writeup about the upcoming TV season, as fall TV is fast approaching. Not that I really care about the coming season now that Entourage is over, but I'll try. That's all for the moment. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

LIVE TIFF COVERAGE

On to happier topics. This week is a great one for a couple of reasons. First, it is a big week for football fans as the NFL is back! They kicked off their first game last night.


Also kicking off on Thursday night was the Toronto International Film FestivalBono and U2 were there for the opener "From the Sky Down" last night. The photos are here from day 1.

There is plenty of coverage to be had of the film festival and the good news this year is that you can check out the live streaming webcasts of the red carpet from the folks at CTV eTalk at this link, and from Global TV`s Entertainment Tonight Canada crew. CP24 streams the press conferences live here. Citytv's TIFF coverage is here and their Twitter feed is here. Also, for those in Toronto, here`s a fan`s guide to the festival.

As well Hollywood Elsewhere is worth reading for its usual TIFF coverage.

Wish I was there in Toronto at the moment -- Canada's home of both the film festival AND the NFL. (Well, sort of -- the Buffalo Bills once a year, eh?!)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

RIP, LOKOMOTIV


By now everyone has heard about the tragedy yesterday involving the plane crash that wiped out all but one person on the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team in Russia's KHL.

The tragedy, so many thousands of miles from where I am, has hit particularly close to home in Saskatchewan because the Lokomotiv team's coach, Brad McCrimmon, used to be head coach of the WHL's Saskatoon Blades. Given the coverage on TV we got here locally, you would have thought it was the Blades' plane that had gone down. That's how close to home this story has hit.

This Russian hockey tragedy was the number one story here in Canada yesterday, mainly because so many of the people on that flight had connections to North American hockey and especially to the NHL.

I remember that when I was at the Score TV network in Toronto I used to shotlist tapes of highlight footage of Pavol Demitra when he was with the St. Louis Blues. I particularly remember how play-by-play announcer Ken Wilson used to go especially nuts whenever Demitra would score a goal. "Pavol Demitraaaa!!!"   

This is just another of the tragedies the NHL has suffered this summer, along with the deaths of NHL enforcers Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak. But as tragic as this latest event is from the NHL's perspective, let's face facts -- it is a far worse day for the KHL. They've postponed the start of the season now because of the tragedy. As for Lokomotiv, they now plan to field a team with replacement players. I guess that gives new meaning to the words "the show must go on." 

Good grief, I cannot image what the fans of that franchise must be going through right now. I cannot imagine any of them caring one bit about the upcoming hockey season.

Yet this isn't the first time such a tragedy has happened, as you can tell by this montage compiled by CNN Sports Illustrated. Looking at some of the tragedies over the years, particularly the ones involving these soccer franchises like Torino AC, and Manchester United, you have to wonder how the heck North American major-league franchises have managed to spare themselves from this sort of disaster given all the flying these teams do around this continent. We've been really lucky on this side of the Atlantic that way.

May something like this never happen to any major-league franchise here -- or for that matter, never again for any team, period.

Monday, September 05, 2011

WEIRD LABOUR DAY ALL AROUND

It has been a very strange Labour Day - or as they say in the USA, Labor Day - to say the least. For one, the MDA Telethon didn't run on "Labor Day" in the USA, because, uh, it ran the night before.

So I had to stop and remind myself at that certain point in the afternoon when I had that urge to turn on the TV to see what the telethon was up to. I was telling myself "you fool, the telethon has been over since last night!" I guess now I'll have to start a new Labo(u)r Day TV-watching tradition (ie. get interested in tennis, or something).

As predicted, Jerry Lewis didn't even bother to show up on the show, not even for a walk-on role to say goodbye. That was one weird thing about the show -- the other was how short it was, only six hours. The telethon didn't even bother with a tote board, either. No timpani, nothing. Strange.

It was just a very weird show without Jerry there, and I thought the show really suffered for it. Nigel Lythgoe said as they were signing off "we missed you, Jerry," to which a lot of people at home likely shouted back at the television "you sure @#&* did," but the MDA people are claiming they actually made more money than last year! Go figure that one out.

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The other weird thing about Labour Day here in frozen Canada was the lack of a traditional Toronto versus Hamilton Labour Day football game. Due to scheduling difficulties, the rivalry game got moved to another date, and the hapless viewers at home saw the Tiger-Cats host Montreal instead. Toronto, meanwhile, played BC on Friday and was hammered.

So much for Labour Day, then, with the traditional rivalry thrown in the trash can. It just made no sense for me for the CFL to mess with tradition. This league ought to be doing all it can to boost its presence in southern Ontario, what with all the sports competition that's down there now from the NHL, NFL, Major League Soccer and the rest of it. If the CFL wants to kill itself off in southern Ontario, getting rid of the Argos-Ticats rivalry on Labour Day is a good way to do it.

Anyway, this was a strange, strange Labour Day, and I plan to spend the rest of it relaxing and reflecting a little bit before I go back to work tomorrow for what I expect will be a hectic two months until the provincial election.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

THE 'CANES JUST KEEP ON COMIN'

Well, people are still cleaning up from Hurricane Irene, which ended up dumping a lot of water on Vermont and flooding the whole state.It turned out to be a big problem for the East Coast after all -- the initial reports were that the damage was less than expected, and maybe in New York that was true. But tell that to the people in Vermont, which joins Minot, North Dakota on the list of flooded-out places across the USA. And power is still out all over the place.

Unfortunately, the hurricane season is still going strong. That means more tropical storms wreaking havoc. The latest place to get hit with floods and power outages now is Louisiana, which is getting hit by Tropical Storm Lee. And if that is not enough, there's another hurricane to look forward to. Hurricane Katia is on the loose in the Atlantic and it could threaten to hit -- get this -- New York City!

Oh no! Not again!

Thursday, September 01, 2011