Monday, October 31, 2011

THE BIGGEST NEWS TODAY IN THE WORLD IS THAT KIM KARDASHIAN IS FILING FOR DIVORCE

THAT didn't take long, did it? It's pretty much official  -- as the headline says, Kim and Kris are kaput. Try not to let this news ruin your Halloween, folks.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

AREN'T YOU GLAD YOU DON'T LIVE THERE?

Big Nor'easter Snowtober! Snow, power outages, etc. --- what a mess.
Thankfully, none of this is happening where I am. Yet.

Happy Halloween, I guess.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

POLITICAL HAPPENINGS IN SASKATCHEWAN: FEDERAL MPs ROMEO SAGANASH, RALPH GOODALE IN NORTHWEST

Who would think that northwest Saskatchewan would be such a popular place for the politicians to visit these days?

Earlier this week we had a visit from Romeo Saganash, a northern Quebec MP and a candidate to succeed Jack Layton in the hotly-competitive federal NDP leadership race. My story on his visit to the region and his candidacy can be found here. I also understand one of the other leadership candidates, Paul Dewar, was also in Saskatchewan, campaigning with the local NDP in Regina. So a lot of NDPers have been coming here to get their message out.

As well, the local Liberals are pulling out all the stops trying to help leader Ryan Bater capture the Battlefords seat in the provincial election. They brought in Ralph Goodale for a press conference with Bater, where they talked about their policies to reign in spending. I am also told by the campaign that they have another big name planned to come to the area before the week is out. I leave it to you to speculate -- it is a very big name, indeed.

The Liberals have also lodged a complaint over one of the NDP campaign offices. The NDP call the complaint frivolous.

As for the rest of the race, two polls came out showing Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party way ahead. 

One poll had them at 60 percent while the other had them as high as 66 percent, which is really ridiculous. That would put them in Alberta PC/Peter Lougheed-type territory if true. The televised debate wasn't up to much either, most people say they didn't bother to tune in.

This really is starting to look like a runaway and the only question now is whether the NDP can salvage a respectable contingent of caucus members after November 7. Jordon Cooper at his blog had a good rundown on the problems the NDP is facing in this campaign.

I fully expect a lot of provincial election activity in the coming week around here, so stay tuned for links to more of my stories from the campaign.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GAME SEVEN

Well, Game Seven of the World Series is on right now and after the great game last night, when the Texas Rangers had the St. Louis Cardinals down to their last strike not once but twice, only to lose 10-9 in 11 innings, I think it's a foregone conclusion. I think the Rangers have had it.

I see no way they can win now. Texas looks like they're about to go down in history as the Buffalo Bills of major league baseball, right into the same dustbin as the '97 Cleveland Indians who blew a World Series to Florida in similar fashion. Last night was their opportunity, and they let it get away. And when you let opportunity get away like that, chances are it won't come back. Right now they're down by three runs. Well, anyway, at least it's nice to know there are other sports fans suffering (folks in football-mad Saskatchewan are not alone...).

Speaking of suffering sports fans -- get ready for a full month of nothing after this, because the NBA just got rid of two more weeks of the season. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

GAME 6 TONIGHT IN WORLD SERIES

The great thing about baseball is sometimes it RAINS. Fortunately, it rained last night when I was covering an all-candidates meeting, and that's good because I would've missed it otherwise had the game gone ahead. Texas takes on St.Louis in Game 6 right now of a very cold World Series. Someone tell these folks it's hockey season.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I DON'T THINK LINDSAY LOHAN GETS MY VOTE

You know, I think there was once a time when people would have been excited over news that Lindsay Lohan has agreed to pose nude for Playboy for almost a million dollars.

Unfortunately, Lindsay's career and life have really gone downhill in every respect, as she just can't stay out of jail to save her life. I think people are just going to look at this and say this is Lindsay being desperate, and Playboy being desperate.

I don't think there are too many red-blooded American males still interested in her anymore, frankly. Then again, maybe she can summon up the strength to do at least one last good magazine cover before she heads to the jail cells, again. Maybe she can remind us all how captivating she can be (see Entertainment Weekly cover below).

Maybe. One can hope.

DEBATE TONIGHT

The party leaders from the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP in the Saskatchewan election go at it tonight at 6PM Saskatchewan time.

(That's 8PM Eastern and 5PM Pacific for the rest of you normal people in time zones where people actually understand what time it is.)

While you wait, here is my article on NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter's second visit to the Battlefords last week to talk about his policies on mental health care. Expect more fun articles focusing on the other parties and their amusing activities in the coming days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

POKER PROS RELOCATING TO TORONTO

Coverage of the April 15th "Black Friday" USA poker crackdown continues here at the blog, as the exodus of American online poker players from the United States continues. (And they wonder why the American economy is in the tank right now -- they still haven't gotten around to legalizing it yet.)

With online poker shut down in the States, the online pros continue to move to other, freer, poker-friendly countries to play. A lot of them are choosing to move to Canada, mainly due to the similar culture and its easy proximity to the USA, plus the fact you don't need to learn a second language to live there (unlike, say, Costa Rica or Panama, two other popular spots for the poker exiles these days). 

Here's an article on the PokerNews website all about the pros and cons of relocating to Toronto, a popular spot for many online pros to move to. Among other things, famed poker player Daniel Negreanu is from there and moved back from Las Vegas after the online crackdown hit.

You know, after reading this article I want to move to Toronto, and I used to live there! I think Toronto offers a lot of advantages -- plenty of baseball, football, hockey and rock concerts to see, plus easy proximity to a lot of nearby casinos for the players who want to also get their live fix. Plus, they mention in the article the Hockey Hall of Fame -- a place I have been to more than once. It is definitely not to be missed by any sports fan.

You know, other cities in western Canada might also be worth a look by poker pros. One option that seems to be getting overlooked by a lot of people is Calgary, Alberta. Among other things, it's a very easy plane ride to Las Vegas from there. So folks who still want their regular live Vegas fix and like the "wild West" atmosphere in general might find Calgary a good fit. Anyway, it's just a thought.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SASKATCHEWAN ELECTION: WALL RELEASES HIS PLATFORM

Well, the Saskatchewan election campaign continues on -- only a couple more weeks to go. Today, Premier Brad Wall announced and released his party's platform, which you can read here in its PDF format.

Also, earlier this week he was in North Battleford unveiling his party's health care platform and my story on that is now up.

Friday, October 21, 2011

CONRAD MURRAY TRIAL STILL GOING: PROSECUTION ON A ROLL, IT SEEMS

The testimony continues in the Dr. Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial related to the death of Michael Jackson. This week has seen prosecution expert star witness Dr. Steven Shafer on the stand doing demonstrations and simulations for the jury to show how Murray hooked Jackson up to a propofol drip and how Murray deviated from what his medical duties should have been.

It's been described by numerous legal observers as really damaging testimony. The general feeling seems to be that Murray and his entire defence team are going down with the Titanic.

Anyway, the defence lawyer Ed Chernoff is cross-examining Shafer and trying to somehow discredit him, but Shafer seems to have made a big impression on the jury and everyone else watching this trial. Murray definitely looks like he's doomed. Still, you never know -- this is Los Angeles after all, where juries routinely allow people to walk free.

Just as I write this now, the testimony has ended for the day and week. See you again next week for more fun. You can catch up on the happenings in the trial here at the In Session blog.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

THINGS GOING DOWNHILL FAST FOR THE NBA

Well, folks, I sure hope you are enjoying the World Series and the current NFL season, because you have ZILCH to look forward to as far as the NBA is concerned.

It's day 112 of the lockout, and after three days of talks involving a federal mediator, they have now broken off completely and everyone has gone home.

Here's the story from ESPN. To say things look grim is an understatement.

HE'S DEAD

Moammar Qadhafi --- or Gadhafi, Khadafy, Kadhafi or however you want to spell it --- HAS BEEN KILLED!!!! Bye bye to one of the world's most brutal and crazed dictators.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MORE ON THE INDYCAR TRAGEDY

I am still shaken up from witnessing that horrible Las Vegas 15-car wreck from the weekend Indycar season finale, the incident that cost Dan Wheldon his life.

This has affected both race fans and people within the auto racing community, and has brought a renewed and much welcomed soul-searching about safety on the track. Ironically, Wheldon was test-piloting the new, safer Indycars that were going to replace the current batch that were on the racetrack this season. Among other features, the new cars are supposed to be less likely to go airborne in a spill. Sad irony.

Anyway, five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson weighed in on the whole situation and he says that INDYCAR should just not race on ovals. Later, though, Johnson backtracked and clarified his statements after a lot of Indy people got mad at him, thinking he was slamming Indycar.

He has a point, though, about the safety issues at the ovals. There have been some very scary open-wheel crashes on the ovals, where these cars have hit the walls and come to a very fiery end. These Indycars need to slow down, some way, on these tracks.

I mostly agree that it would be safer for Indycar to stick to the road courses where cars are forced to slow down -- except I think they should still be able to race at Indianapolis because that oval is bigger, wider and safer. The bottom line is that if Indycar is going to race on ovals, they have to race on ones that are built for Indycar -- not these crowded NASCAR tracks with the high embankments. They're built for big, hulky, slower cars like the NASCAR machines -- not these top-speed Indycars. 

The problem at Las Vegas was that the Indycar machines were too crowded on the track and had nowhere to go in an accident. As well, the Vegas track has these embankments on it making it too easy for an Indycar to wipe out and go airborne into a wall, just like what killed Wheldon.

In short, these were Indycars driving at crazy speeds on a track that is built for NASCAR. Sorry, but I wouldn't race Indycars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway again. If Indycar goes back to Vegas, they've got to race on a road course -- in this case, the streets. No other way.

That's it for now -- time to tune in the World Series and relax. It's been a hard week.

SASKATCHEWAN ELECTION: LINGENFELTER'S TURN

Well, yesterday was Brad Wall Day in the Battlefords. Today was Dwain Lingenfelter's turn as he outlined the party's mental health policy at the CUPE office in downtown North Battleford. Nothing earth-shattering, as we pretty much knew the NDP was in support of mental health care and the building of a new Saskatchewan Hospital.

It was a much busier news day elsewhere. Maple Leaf Foods announced they were cutting 1550 jobs across Canada and closing the North Battleford plant. That's 330 area jobs up in smoke right here.

So that ended up being my afternoon, getting comments for THAT story after I got back to the office. Unfortunately, it also pushes politics right off the front page around here with that unexpected turn of events. Anyway, that was today in the campaign.

As for story links to what's happened here over the past week, here are links to stories I filed on the Ryan Bater Liberal campaign office grand opening from last week, as well as the previous Dwain Lingenfelter visit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SASKATCHEWAN ELECTION NEWS: BRAD WALL ON THE ATTACK ON NDP PROMISES

Observations of the second week of the Saskatchewan provincial election campaign:

I have been busy this past week covering campaign events. Today, I was at a Sask Party media event for Premier Brad Wall at candidate Herb Cox's campaign office in North Battleford.

The focus of the event was on health care and on a student loan forgiveness program the Sask Party were offering to rural health care workers. But I noticed that Wall really wanted to talk about something else. He came back over and over again in his news conference to the subject of the costs of the NDP campaign promises. Wall was really laying into NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter today over the NDP's daily policy announcements, which he contends will drive the deficit up. One day it's school dental care for the kids, the next day it's resource royalty deals with the First Nations, another day it's a tuition freeze for students. Just the other day Link was offering a $500 property tax rebate to seniors. During the news conference today Wall was told by the reporter from CTV News that Link had just done it again and announced something on childcare that morning. Wall looked unimpressed and said this was yet another example.

It's been like this the entire campaign from the NDP with one promise after another. At least the NDP campaign hasn't gone negative, which is a relief to many. There hasn't been any mudslinging, just "positive" announcements daily from Lingenfelter of "positive change where you benefit", according to the NDP campaign slogan.

Wall is claiming all these promises are costing a boatload of money and he was telling the media today the Lingenfelter promises now cost over $2 billion. At least, they think it is $2 billion but they aren't too sure of that either because they say the NDP hasn't bothered to give us specific details on costs.

Anyway, Wall really was sounding the alarm at his news conference and raising the spectre that in order to keep their election promises the NDP would either run a deficit, or make cuts.

Say this for the NDP, at least with all these election promises Lingenfelter has shifted the focus away from all these terrible poll numbers and terrible columns and news stories that have been running about the state of his party. Those stories are gone now. People no longer are writing about how badly the NDP is going to get clobbered; instead, they're talking about costs of election promises. I guess that's an improvement.

Eventually, I'm sure, Lingenfelter will hold his big press conference declaring that the books will be balanced at the end of all this, with plenty of NDP math from NDP accountants to back it up. That will probably lead to another Brad Wall press conference claiming the numbers still don't add up.

Anyway, there is never a dull moment in Saskatchewan politics, we have Ontario and Quebec all beat.

Last week I was at two Lingenfelter events on Wednesday and Thursday -- one was a campaign office opening and the other was a media conference where Lingenfelter promised to eliminate the small business tax. I was also at a local Liberal event for party leader Ryan Bater last Friday night, in my usual attempt to make sure everyone gets their share of coverage.

The Liberals aren't running much of a provincial campaign in this election, but they are throwing their entire effort towards winning a seat in the Battlefords. So it's making for a far more interesting race around here than might otherwise be the case.

One of these days I will link to my news reports about what's been going on in politics around here -- look for that in the coming days. Stay tuned for more election coverage right here at the blog as the campaign unfolds.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

INDYCAR'S DAY OF DEATH IN LAS VEGAS

What a horrible day this has been for auto racing.

Today, I planned to catch the Indycar World Championships race from Las Vegas on TV before driving off to Saskatoon for the afternoon. I ended up watching in horror, along with everyone else, the 15-car pileup that occured on lap 11 of the race. This was truly unlike any other 15-car pileup I have ever seen before -- this had vehicles on fire and flying through the air, and hitting the wall at top speed.

Usually when 15-car wipeouts happen in NASCAR, they're actually kind of fun and nobody really gets hurt, but this was different. This was downright frightening. When people are saying this was the worst auto-racing crash they have ever seen, they aren't lying.

Initially it looked like nobody had died, and my first thought was that it was amazing no one had been killed in this carnage. People like Paul Tracy had gotten out of their cars and were walking away seemingly unhurt. But then the word started to leak out about how bad a shape Dan Wheldon, the reigning Indy 500 champion, was in, and he was airlifted to the hospital.

It was around that point that I decided to hit the road early, because it was clear the race was going to be red-flagged for a long time. I had thought I might hear updates on Wheldon's condition on the radio, but there was nothing. The sports guys were just too busy covering the bleeping NFL to be concerned about a life-and-death situation like this.

So once I finally got to a TV in Saskatoon I turned the channel to ABC thinking the race might have resumed. Instead, I happened to tune in right at the moment when the drivers were starting to do their five laps around the track in salute to Dan Wheldon. You can imagine my shock and surprise when I tuned in at that moment. I knew, just looking at the scene of people crying, that all the worst fears of everyone had been realized. It was truly one of the saddest scenes I've seen in sports.

For the whole story of what happened, here's the account at ESPN.

What's really sad for me is that I had made a point of watching this race because it was the final race of the 2011 season. If I wanted to watch Indycar, this was my last chance until next year. This race was supposed to be the battle for the championship between Dario Franchitti and Will Power. Plus, this was going to be Danica Patrick's final race as a regular driver in the Indycar series before joining NASCAR full time (she might still come back to the Indy 500). There was this huge buildup all season to this race in Las Vegas that was supposed to be the culmination of the season for Indycar, a showcase for the sport. Instead it ends up turning into this unspeakable tragedy.

What happened today was on a par with what happened to Ayrton Senna and Dale Earnhardt, because Wheldon was a two-time Indy 500 winner and a former Indy series champion. In fact, it's worse that what happened with Earnhardt's death because of the circumstances surrounding it --a scary, horrific, terrifying crash during the last race of the season. It really puts a black mark on the whole season, seeing such an end to it like this. It's yet another reminder of how dangerous this sport really is.

Frankly, this incident has really shaken me up as an auto racing fan. In fact it has turned me off the sport -- for the next couple of weeks, anyway. I'm sure I'll be back watching before too long, but it is going to be very tough for auto racing fans to get over this horrible day in a hurry.

RIP Dan Wheldon -- you will be missed.   

Friday, October 14, 2011

GOODBYE TO CHARLIE'S ANGELS

That didn't take long. The new Charlie's Angels joins such names as Dragnet, The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider and even Get Smart as revivals that couldn't make it the second time around. It's GONE from ABC after four shows.

Well, at least it lasted longer than The Playboy Club. Now, how long before ABC gets rid of Pan Am?

MORE BAD POKER NEWS: NATIONAL HEADS-UP POKER CHAMPIONSHIP SCRAPPED BY NBC

It's fair to say this has been a terrible year for all poker fans. First came Black Friday, which shut down online poker and shuttered a lot of your favorite poker TV shows, and then came the ongoing problems at Full Tilt Poker -- so many, in fact, that it's getting a bit too comical. That leads us to the latest bit of poker TV news surrounding NBC.

To make a long story short, NBC is now out of the poker TV business. A few weeks ago they cancelled Poker After Dark, their excellent late-night poker TV show that aired every night after Last Call with Carson Daly. It was done in mainly by the fact the whole show was underwritten by Full Tilt Poker, which was being called a Ponzi scheme by the Department of Justice. Needless to say, NBC doesn't want to be associated in any way with any crooks, so they put an end to the show and took down the NBC poker website.

Now comes word that NBC has cancelled the annual NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship held at Caesar's Palace every year. This was the tournament where 64 big name players would be invited to do heads-up battle, and it would air over a few weekends on NBC. Again, sponsorship woes the issue, what with the online poker advertisers all out of business and so on. As well, the hosts including Leeann Tweeden and Ali Nejad were all also on Poker After Dark.  

This tournament got its start way back when the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 hockey season. No doubt, it would probably have been welcome spring TV viewing next year, especially if the NBA lockout takes down their entire season. Maybe this is an opportunity for ESPN-ABC to take the thing over, since ESPN is still in the poker business. Barely.

Anyway, the whole online poker situation in the United States continues to boggle my mind. It beats me why the US government doesn't simply get on with ushering in regulation right away. Really, this is millions of dollars in economic activity down the drain and a lot of American jobs lost. I notice a lot of professional poker players have now moved to online-friendly countries to be able to continue to play online poker. A lot of folks have moved to Canada, and a good many number of them have set up in Vancouver as this PokerNews article notes. According to the article, they say the poker players now living in Vancouver include "Brian Hastings, Phil Galfond, Randy “nanonoko” Lew, Maria Ho, Christina Lindley, Tom Marchese, David “Doc” Sands, Erika Moutinho, Shane Schegler, and William Reynolds."

As well, a lot of poker players have set up in Toronto (including Daniel Negreanu, who has returned there from Las Vegas) and a few other places in Canada. A few are opting for warmer climes, though. There's a company set up called Poker Refugees who are helping American poker players move not only to Canada, but to Costa Rica and Panama. The UK also seems to be a popular spot for poker exiles.

All in all, I am just shaking my head. This self-imposed US poker crackdown is forcing a lot of talented players with a lot of money to permanently leave the United States, the supposed "land of the free". I know the US justice department needs to throw the book at some of these crooks who ran these online operations into the ground and refused to pay players back, but really, couldn't they come up with a way to let the players play?! This continuing refusal to let talented Americans play in a regulated online environment in their home country is just overkill. 

Is it any wonder the United States is in trouble? The USA seems absolutely determined to do everything possible to hurl itself off the financial cliff.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NOW, NEWS FROM NOWHERE FOR ALL 99 PERCENT OF YOU

Welcome to this edition of News from Nowhere for this Wednesday night, and since the baseball games are over and there are no NBA games, either (hee hee), I figured I might as well update this blog.

The trend that has been all the rage in the past weeks has been the "Occupy Wall Street" movement with these sit-ins going on all over the financial district. You know -- "we are the 99 percent" and all that.

Now they are spreading across the continent, even to Canada. Just this week I found out the city I cover, North Battleford, is having its own Occupy Wall Street protest, too! I kind of find the whole thing bizarre and a waste of time. I know everyone feels hosed because of what went on in 2008, but trying to bring down Wall Street is just going to make things worse for everyone. If measures are brought in aimed at these Wall Street bigshots, all that will happen is the bigshots will simply insulate themselves and send the misery elsewhere by cutting jobs and cutting thei own spending. And what will end up happening is that other more vulnerable folks will end up getting hurt. They'll lose their jobs while these corporate bigshots will get off scott free again! So that is my take on this Occupy Wall Street movement. The "99 Percent" need to try another tack.

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Other news: the Dr. Conrad Murray involuntary manslaughter trial surrounding the death of Michael Jackson continues on down in Los Angeles and I once again am having no luck at all trying to find time to watch this thing, given all the important election news I am covering for the moment. Apparently the case revolves around Murray administering propofol to Jackson in Jackson's home, when in fact this drug should be administered nowhere outside a hospital setting. They have been putting up on the stand all these experts and it actually reminds me of a lot of cases I've actually covered where expert witnesses would be called to give testimony.

The folks at HLN have coverage going and you can follow the happenings here. That's what I intend to do, as I need to do a lot of catching up. There are also live streams from the likes of KTLA during the open sessions.

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In legal news from around the world last week, Amanda Knox was freed of murder charges in Italy but apparently the prosecutors there still want to go after her and think she's no angel. If I were her I would stay as far away from Italy as possible.

Also, thanks to being preoccupied elsewhere I missed the whole Hank Williams Jr. departure from ESPN Monday Night Football over comments comparing President Obama to Hitler, the debut of Erin Burnett's new CNN show, and the passing of legendary Raiders owner Al Davis, described as a rebel to the end.

Just win baby! That's all for now.

SASKATCHEWAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN ITS FIRST WEEK

So the results are in from the Newfoundland and Yukon votes (with the respective conservative parties winning both of them), and we now focus our remaining concentration on the Saskatchewan election race for the next month.

They go to the polls on November 7, 2011. I wrote up this piece on the start of the campaign, mainly focused on the competitive race expected in the Battlefords. (I call it "competitive" rather than "close" because it could yet end up being a blowout, for all we know.) Also, I mentioned before that I attended a weekend rock-and-roll fundraiser event put on by the provincial Liberals. Here's my account of that. 

More election coverage to come in the next few days and weeks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

YUKON RESULTS

May I add that you have to be a big political geek to be interested in THIS election. Results from the CBC. 

NBA BEGINS CANCELLING REGULAR SEASON GAMES

To no one's surprise commissioner David Stern announced Monday the NBA has scrapped the first two weeks of its season. That's about 100 games down the tubes.

Talks did actually resume on Sunday to try and find a last-ditch deal, but no common ground was found. So the lockout goes on, now over three months and counting. All in all I think people are disappointed but not surprised by this news. Both sides have dug in their heels and I expect it will be a long time before we come to a resolution.

People still don't miss the NBA yet because this is still technically the NBA pre-season period and people are too interested in all the other sports going on right now (the Detroit Lions are 5-0!!!!). But wait until December rolls around when baseball is over and when everyone's favorite football teams are out of the playoffs. THAT is when people will start to miss the NBA -- assuming they miss these greedy players at all.

NEWFOUNDLAND ELECTION RESULTS COMING IN NOW

Here are links to the live Newfoundland and Labrador election returns coming in:
CBC Newfoundland, and VOCM.

Already, the PCs are in the commanding lead with the NDP in second place. Later tonight, the Yukon results. See you later.

Monday, October 10, 2011

ELECTION WEEK IN CANADA CONTINUES TO ROLL

Well, I just looked at the stats and my viewership last week was way up. After scratching my head about it a while I finally figured out why I managed to get more hits on this blog. It was because I was talking about all the elections.

With that said, I just want to say -- stay tuned for coverage of the Newfoundland and Yukon elections tomorrow night.

(There you go. Instant hits. Life is good here at the blog. Oh, by the way, Saskatchewan just called an election today.) 

DICK VAN DYKE SHOW IS BACK

Some time ago I was musing on this blog about where the heck The Dick Van Dyke Show went, because I couldn't find it in reruns anywhere. I found it odd given the current fascination with all things 1961.

It turns out this marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere season of The Dick Van Dyke Show on TV. As a result there is quite a bit of commemorating going on about the show. In fact last Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the show's premiere.

TV Land has picked up the show for its schedule and ran a marathon for the show this past week. As well, a new book is out with the whole behind-the-scenes history. Good stuff.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

F1'S COMPLETELY BORING SEASON HAS A CHAMPION


As it turns out, he is the same guy who won last year. Honestly, is it any wonder why I tune into NASCAR and IndyCar so much these days when Formula 1 has gotten so dull and predictable? Much as I am a fan of Formula 1, I hate it when the season ends up a foregone conclusion with no excitement.

This F1 season is basically over, and yet we are still nowhere near the end! We've got four more races left through the end of November in South Korea, India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil, all of which mean nothing as far as the drivers standings are concerned! In fact, Red Bull could clinch the constructors title in the very next race in South Korea, which will mean the last three races will count for absolutely nothing at all!

I'll tell you this much -- I'm not getting up in the middle of the night to watch these next races coming up in F1, that's for sure.

SIMPSONS ARE BACK FOR TWO MORE YEARS OF LAUGHS

I want to say right now that I am very happy with the news that The Simpsons will be back for two more seasons of new episodes on FOX. There was a big dispute this week with all this talk that the show would be forced to cut costs across the board, including the big salaries of their voice actors, to stay on the air. The talk was that the show was going to be cancelled if the actors balked! Fortunately, that situation was happily resolved this week.

Now I'm reading all the usual miserable no-lives people on the comments sections of these news articles, making snide remarks claiming the show sucks and that they stopped watching years ago. Well, I for one am still watching this show and getting a chuckle out of it. This show is a television institution and I would hate to see it go (especially since there isn't much left that's worth watching in network prime time these days).

It's great to see a deal reached to keep The SImpsons. Now, if only the NBA owners and players could resolve their differences, too.

START OF NEW NBA SEASON IN MAJOR PERIL RIGHT NOW

Well, it's tough for fans to get their minds turned to the fortunes of the NBA given all the rest of the sports going on right now, but there have been some worrisome developments lately in the league with the union negotiations. It seems the latest talks have been cancelled because the league won't move off their demand to a 50-50 split of basketball-related revenue. As a result the first two weeks of the season are sure to be cancelled.  

All in all this looks worrisome for the NBA. I am certain we are going to have a shortened season. I would like to think the NBA won't hurl themselves off the cliff and cancel the entire season over this situation, but I am afraid they can and will. The owners seem hard-line about getting a deal done on their own terms, and now we're hearing all these stories of players signing deals in Europe, including Kobe Bryant going to Italy.

I wonder if these owners and players really understand what they are doing. They threaten to marginalize their own sport in the USA and reverse years of work building up the NBA. Frankly, with all the other sporting alternatives out there including the NFL, the NHL, college football and the like, I don't think most regular NBA fans will miss the NBA for months. Already it's clear that in hockey-mad Canada, nobody misses them at all right now.

Speaking of which -- fans in Winnipeg are celebrating the return of the Jets, playing their first NHL game of the season this afternoon versus Montreal.  

MONEYBALL

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to see the new movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt. It's about how the cash-strapped Oakland A's, decimated by free agency, put together a winning team on the field during the 2002 season, using sabermetrics and other fancy computerized mumbo-jumbo. It's a movie that will hit home for a lot of fans of cash-strapped baseball teams fed up with the rich teams winning all the time.

My review of the movie is here. Get a chance to see it in between playoff baseball games. (Fans of the Yankees and Phillies might have some unexpected time on their hands and may want to watch, too.)

Friday, October 07, 2011

MINORITY RULE

So Dalton McGuinty's Liberals have been reduced to a minority -- denied a majority by a single solitary seat. Meanwhile Tim Hudak's PCs don't feel too good today after blowing a lead in the polls.

So yeah, I think it's fair to say Ron MacLean won the election -- because nobody really won in the end and more folks were interested in the NHL games on TV than in voting in the election. Turnout was below 50 percent. Pathetic.

No doubt a lot of PCs will be mad about the result and we'll get these usual knife-the-leader stories coming out in the press. I hope the PCs keep their calm and look soberly at what they need to do next, because we all saw how well the knife-the-leader routine worked the last time they tried that stunt: the party was made to look really bad.

I think the real problem in this 2011 election wasn't leadership but policy, or lack of it. That cost the party both the usual endorsement of the Toronto Sun as well as the election. Anyway, it could have been worse.

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

In other news, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is set to call an election on Monday and I wrote up this column in advance of the writ drop, looking ahead to this fall's vote. Things look pretty grim for the opposition provincial NDP here, at least as it stands right now.

Tomorrow night I plan to hang out with the provincial Liberals, covering their rock/blues concert fundraiser event. Expect more Saskatchewan vote coverage here as the campaign unfolds.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

IT'S ELECTION NIGHT IN ONTARIO

That's right, folks, it's Election Night in the provincial Ontario election. The good news is we already know the winner of the election.

No, it's not Dalton McGuinty or Tim Hudak, or even Andrea Horwath. No, the projected winner is -- Ron MacLean.

The reason is because election night coverage runs right against Hockey Night in Canada. Because CBC is covering the entire opening night of the hockey season including the game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, the CBC has been forced to move its live Ontario results coverage to cable to the CBC News Channel, and to the Internet instead.

The hockey fans are reacting by saying they don't want to watch boring election night coverage -- but I don't understand why anyone would call elections boring. In fact, they're pretty exciting with a lot of human drama! (Politicians losing their jobs, leaders resigning, etc.) 

ELECTION LINKS

Anyway, those of you wanting to catch the election night coverage can tune in the CBC coverage on the Internet, as well as CTV Toronto, Global Ontario, and CityNews. Also, the Sun News channel has live streaming election coverage, and the radio fans can tune in on Newstalk 1010. I think it really helps that 1010 doesn't have the Leafs rights, which AM 640 is still stuck with. 

Polls close at 9PM EST, so maybe you can catch the results after the first game is over.

Try and have a happy election night -- especially to any of you political folks who might be gathering as usual at Joe Maggiano's Restaurant in north Toronto. (At least I'm assuming it'll be the same crowd gathering there as in previous years. Maybe they'll just go home instead.) 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

PRESIDENTIAL RACE: GOP SHOULD JUST NOMINATE ROMNEY AND BE DONE WITH IT, ALREADY

Well, this week we continue to have non-stop breaking political news, this time from the USA presidential election. Today, it's concerning all of these presidential candidates who are not in the race, but who have been under a lot of pressure from supporters to get into the field for the Republican nomination to take on President Barack Obama.

The other day, popular New Jersey governor Chris Christie, under mounting pressure to change his decision not to run, finally said once and for all that he isn't running. So that's that.


Meanwhile, the polls continue to indicate that supposed GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney (right) is having no end of trouble consolidating his position at the front of the field. The problem seems to be that the more conservative types in the party just find him to be not enough of a conservative. 

That's why you've seen a lot of support showing up for right-wing types like Michele Bachmann, who has since faded from the picture because, ahem, she is just too nuts on some of the issues. Then you had this boom for Texas governor Rick Perry, and then the Florida straw poll debate debacle happened and he has since faded.

Then you had this boom for Christie revive itself again, only for Christie to quit the race he never entered on Tuesday.

Now you have polls showing that the GOP frontrunner is --not only Romney, but Herman Cain, the Godfather's Pizza magnate. I take it the right-wingers like him just because he's not Romney. But I dunno if voters will go for Cain. He doesn't seem electable to me somehow.

All in all, it all spells trouble for Romney. He would seem like the obvious choice for the party at this point since all the other major contenders have self-destructed, more or less, but the GOP still won't warm up to him.

It's going to make for some very interesting times when the Republican primaries and caucuses get going in just three months. Try as he might, it isn't in the bag yet.

APPLE'S STEVE JOBS HAS DIED

Story here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

MANITOBA RESULTS

Well, the popular vote was close but the seat count was a slaughter as the NDP under Greg Selinger won another majority in Manitoba and the PC leader resigned immediately on election night. I guess it still isn't safe for the free-enterprise people to move back to Manitoba.

Also, the Ontario election looks like it might turn into a similar slaughter in a couple of days as a new poll gives the Liberals a ten-point lead. It's shaping up as a really bad week to be a PC.

MANITOBA ELECTION COVERAGE

I'm just putting up here the links to the live Manitoba election results tonight. They say it will be a tight one but I dunno, it looks to me like it could be a very dull night with few major upsets.

CBC 
CTV
Global -- plus, their election blog.
CJOB 68
Winnipeg Free Press

In other news, it was Liberals 22 PCs 5 in the PEI election. The Manitoba Liberals will be lucky to do that well tonight -- apparently they're fearing a possible wipeout.

That's it for now.

FIRST AXE OF THE TV SEASON FALLS ON THE BUNNY'S HEAD; BRIAN WILLIAMS TO TAKE OVER TIME SLOT

Well, to no one's surprise NBC put the rabbit on the chopping block and chopped its head off today, as The Playboy Club has the embarrassing dishonor of being the official first cancellation of the 2011-2012 TV season.

I don't think the show had a chance in the Boring States of America. I also don't think I'll miss the show much, actually. The only reason I watched it was to get back at these religious groups who were trying to get it pulled from the air before we got a chance to see it.

Anyway, those of you who had the rabbits in your fall Cancellation Death Pool can now collect your winnings, as it is GONE after just three showings. Meanwhile, just like earlier this year with the infamous Crystal Harris "Runaway Bride" issue, Playboy is again stuck peddling magazines that are already out of date. They have issues on newsstands now with Laura Benanti on the cover, all promoting The Playboy Club on NBC! Well, if you tune in now to NBC on Mondays you'll instead be seeing this guy (right).

According to this Hollywood Reporter account of what happened today, Brian Williams will be taking his new newsmagazine show Rock Center to the former timeslot. I'm sure he'll be more palatable to the folks in Utah -- it's safe for them to turn on the TV again.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

MORE THOUGHTS ON THE NEW TV SEASON: X MARKS THE SPOT, AND MY THOUGHTS ON PAN AM

The new TV season is well under way now and folks are sizing up who the winners and losers are in the early going. So far, the expected domination of The X Factor on FOX has failed to materialize. The first four shows are in the books and the ratings are just, well, meh.

I think this points to problems down the road for these TV networks. They seem to want to keep throwing the TV talent shows down audiences' throats but the folks at home are just getting tired of them. Look at The Sing-Off on NBC; their ratings are even worse. Personally, I am fed up with all these talent shows and fed up with singing in general (ie. Glee), but more to the point I am fed up with reality shows littering prime time television. I think this is true for a lot of people, in general. I notice the ratings for the Survivor premiere were also down. That's good! I am sick of reality shows crowding out the scripted programming in prime time.

Overall, I have got to say that I am really not into this current TV season. Too many of my favorite shows that I have watched over the years have either been cancelled or have otherwise ended (Entourage being the most recent one). So when I watch TV these days I'm usually either (a) watching the news or (b) watching the sports, or (c) watching something that once played in a movie theater. What I am usually NOT watching is an actual TV show aimed at actual TV viewers.

I think the real problem is too many of these shows just aren't aimed at guys. Look at most of these scripted shows on the networks, ranging from sitcoms about females (2 Broke Girls, Whitney) to action shows about females (Charlie's Angels) to period dramas about females (Pan Am). This is all well and good for the women in the audience but it's no good for me. I don't mind women having their entertainment too, but the entire schedule?! All I want is some balance here. Actually, all I want is something good to watch on TV, and I'm not finding it.  

Now, a few words about the big trend of this TV season: towards aping Mad Men and showing off how cool and glamorous the Sixties were. Well, it's certainly more cool and glamorous than THIS economically-depressed decade is so far, that's for sure! 

I notice there has been a change in the way TV shows depict the Sixties. These days we're seeing a lot of shows heavy in nostalgia about the "cool" Sixties, filled with these ad agencies and the Playboy Clubs, and people flying on classy airlines like Pan Am.

But shows about the Sixties are nothing new on TV. What is new is that the Sixties seem to be depicted these days in a positive light! Back when China Beach, Tour of Duty and these other shows were on the air, the Sixties was depicted as a hellhole of a decade where people were shipped off to Vietnam to get shot at! So the image of the Sixties has really turned around on TV. I guess maybe they want to focus now on that part of the Sixties that was actually good before things went down the tubes with Vietnam.

I finally have Pan Am figured out. That's that new show on ABC about Sixties stewardesses flying for Pan Am. Most people say it's inspired by Mad Men, but I think comparing it to Mad Men is kind of off-base. Instead, I think it's more a cross between China Beach and Flying High.

You remember Flying High? Connie Sellecca was in that show.


Yep, nothing's changed in TV land -- they're still short of new ideas. No doubt, soon we'll see a show about United or Delta, or maybe Southwest?!

That's enough talking about TV for now.

MORE POLITICS: NEW ALBERTA PREMIER, AND THE SUN WEIGHS IN ON TWO PROVINCIAL RACES

Well, I definitely have got to be losing my enthusiasm for politics in my old age, because I went to bed rather than stay up to see Alison Redford crowned as Alberta PC leader in a stunning upset. It was already past 12 am where I am and I was dog tired, so I shut down the computer and went to bed with my radio tuned into CHQR 770, where I hoped to get updates on the race in between the old-time radio shows they were running.

Well, the old-time radio shows must have been REALLY boring last night because I fell asleep and didn't find out who won until the next morning. I think it was Our Miss Brooks that was on. Or was it on the previous night? I don't remember.

You know, the next time the Alberta PCs pick a leader, they ought to figure out a way to get the tabulations all done so that your new leader can get on TV by 11pm. I remember being at the Ontario PC convention in 2004, and people were criticizing that event because the count went on and on and on, but at least they were able to announce the winner in time for the late local news!! This business of taking all night to count votes is no way to go, some of us can't hack these late nights anymore.

In other news -- the usually-conservative Sun Media chain came down with endorsements in the Ontario and Manitoba elections, but it seems the editors over there aren't too happy with what they are hearing from these provincial PCs these days. They held their nose over in Manitoba to endorse Hugh McFayden, while in Ontario they refused to even endorse anyone at all.

Well, so much for Tim Hudak's hopes of a majority. Ontario seems determined to drive itself right off the left-wing cliff as a minority government situation looms large. This non-endorsement seems to have definitely sealed everyone's fates. Thanks for nothing, Toronto Sun.

The PEI and NWT polls close tomorrow as Election Week in Canada continues. That's all for the moment.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

BIG MONTH OF CANADIAN PROVINCIAL POLITICS, STARTING IN ALBERTA

Well, I am officially a geek, as I am following all the political happenings in Canada this coming month. We have provincial elections going on all over the place, with several provincial elections this week alone. Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories votes Monday, Manitoba on Tuesday and Ontario on Thursday. (I'll be interested in the latter two since I used to live in those provinces.)

Newfoundland goes to the polls October 11 and the Yukon also votes that very same day. Then it will be a long several weeks until Saskatchewan votes on November 7th, but fortunately people will be more interested in the campaign this year given that the Riders are now completely out of it (rats!).

This is all after a competitive May federal election, and once this is over the fun will be far from over, as the federal NDP are in a leadership race.

Tonight the folks in Alberta get into the act as the Alberta PCs are choosing a premier. Right now Gary Mar leads Alison Redford by a narrow margin, about five percent, but we're going to have yet another full count to go after the results of this count are in, when all of Doug Horner's votes will be redistributed. People are predicting Redford will get most of those. All in all, it's about as exciting as Alberta politics is likely to get, because the elections there are usually absolute one-sided blowouts. CTV Edmonton has live blogging coverage of the leadership vote, complete with a video feed from where the results are coming in.

Look forward to more political coverage and links to live election results in the coming days.