Friday, April 27, 2012

HOCKEY NIGHT NOT IN CANADA; GOLF SEASON COMES EARLY TO CANADIAN NHL FANS

Hello Canada, and welcome to Hockey Night Not in Canada.

It just is not going to be the same here in Canada without any Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mind you, it wasn't the same to begin with with only two Canadian teams in the playoffs this year.

Vancouver Canucks shocked everyone with their swift elimination at the hands of LA; meanwhile the Ottawa Senators, proud winners of this year's trophy as Last Canadian Team Standing, threw the kitchen sink and other appliances at the New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist, but still lost in Game Seven by a count of 2-1.

The other five Canadian teams -- Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary all were sitting at home watching the playoffs to begin with. So that's it. All the Canadian teams are out, and Canadian fans officially have no further rooting interest in the Stanley Cup.

Not only does this extend Canada's Stanley Cup drought to a miserable 20 seasons (since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens last title), but this is one of the absolute worst Canadian showings in the Cup playoffs of all time. Our combined seven Canadian franchises won a grand total of four games.

It is certainly the earliest exit since 1996, when five Canadian teams that year were all eliminated in the opening round. Coincidentally, that was the last year Winnipeg was in the league before they moved to Phoenix. Now, in Winnipeg's first year back, it's happened again. What irony.

Not only are all the Canadian teams all out, but so are a lot of Canadian fan favorites such as Sidney Crosby, whose Pittsburgh Penguins were bounced in the opening round. In fact, good luck finding too many teams that Canadian fans are going to have much interest in in the next round. Not only are the last seven winning Stanley Cup franchises all out (defending champs Boston being one of them), so are five of the six Original Six teams (Rangers excluded).

Adding insult to injury for Canada, three of the remaining eight contenders are in the Sunbelt -- Los Angeles, Nashville and Phoenix. If there is one thing that drives Canadian hockey fans crazy, it's whenever a Sunbelt team wins a Stanley Cup. If Phoenix wins the Cup, believe me, Canadians will be beside themselves.

Topping it all off is the fact that for most Canadians their playoff pools are officially ruined because of all the crazy first-round upsets (President's Trophy winner bounced, defending Cup champs bounced, Pittsburgh bounced, Detroit gone, etc.).

What is the CBC going to do with Canada's official sport now? They are going to be stuck for the next several weeks broadcasting games from American rinks. Seriously, Canadians are not going to be tuning in. All the bars around here are going to be empty. But on a positive note, at least we won't be having any riots like last year. 

I suppose there still is some hockey to follow for the Canadian nationalists out there -- there's the junior hockey playoffs, not to mention the World Championships. But really, who cares about that. It's not the NHL.

This situation ought to free up time for Canadian sports fans to follow our three Major League Soccer teams (Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps), and of course the baseball Toronto Blue Jays. And look on the bright side, CFL fans --- football season is not that far away.

Monday, April 23, 2012

PCs WIN AGAIN IN ALBERTA

Well, it was a wild election night in Alberta but in a different way than a lot of people expected. PCs are back in with a majority, with 60 seats in the legislature. The livestream is on from Global Calgary.

ALBERTA COULD BE IN FOR A WILD ELECTION NIGHT

Well, after all the excitement from the French election, we have more excitement tonight. For the first time in ages Alberta could be in store for a change of government if all the polls are any indication. Danielle Smith and the Wildrose could be on the brink of toppling Premier Alison Redford and the 41-year PC dynasty in Alberta. That would be a significant upset if it were to happen. Already, the editorial pages have weighed in with the Calgary Herald hedging their bets, while the Sun chain is full-on calling for a change in government.

The election results are not in yet but the postmortems have already started from the likes of Andrew Coyne and others. We'll see.

Personally, I haven't written too much about the election so far but plan to write a big column on it for the paper. Last week, for laughs, I decided to drive to Lloydminster just to check out the election sign wars there, and I saw lots of PC and Wildrose signs, so it's a pretty hot race there.

Results from the CBC can be found here starting at 8PM Mountain time (10PM EST). As for me, I will be sitting in city council chambers tonight and plan to follow the results from inside by tuning in the booming radio signal of 660 News. See you later.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS TODAY

You thought that all the fun was over when Rick Santorum dropped out of the US presidential race? Fear not. There are still fun election activities happening around the world.

I am sitting here waiting for the polls to close in the French presidential election, and you can watch that live coverage here from France 2 and the news channel BFM. It's always fun to watch the results and the analysis, even if you have no clue what they are saying. For a look back at how election nights were covered in France in years past, here's a look back.

Right now it looks like Francois Hollande, the Socialist, could be about to oust incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy, but it will likely take a second round of voting before it's official. Complicating matters are the numerous third-party candidates including the infamous Marine Le Pen, a woman who makes the aforementioned Santorum look like a flaming liberal.

This was the last poll results before election day. We'll see if they hold up.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS HAVE SO FAR BEEN A GOON SHOW

Well, even though there are only two Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, interest is way up here in Canada and I notice ratings are up in the USA as well. Why? Some people are speculating it is due to the goon show we are seeing on the ice.

Last week, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh engaged in a big brawl in game 3 involving multiple players on the ice. That got a lot of press. Then we had that vicious late hit by Phoenix's Raffi Torres to the head of Chicago's Marian Hossa. Today the NHL lowered the boom, hitting Torres with a 25-game suspension that puts him out of action for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Some people are actually finding these playoffs to be more entertaining than usual due to the brawls and hard-hitting play, not to mention the close games. But I notice a lot of whining and complaining from a lot of folks up here in Canada. Most of the whining seems to be originating from the network TV news reporters in Canada who are treating all these hockey fights as if they are important news, which they are not.

These hard-news outlets have been doing their usual depressing stories on how terrible all this is. They're treating this like some national crisis, when in fact it's not our crisis at all because the teams involved are all American. Philly, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Chicago -- yep, last I checked, Canada still has not taken the USA over.

But never mind that. Here's what I have to say to all these folks in Canada who are mad about the state of hockey and all the violence in it: quit following the sport, then! It's not as if someone is pointing a gun at your head, forcing you to watch this goonery. If you don't like what you're seeing, then don't watch it!

Heck, baseball season is on. It's not like there isn't a choice.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DICK CLARK HAS DIED

So long to America's oldest teenager. New Year's Eve will be missing something this year.

Story from ABC.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SOME MAD THOUGHTS ABOUT MAD MEN

I have not been watching this season of Mad Men, although I would like to. I caught the season premiere episode online at the AMC website, but since my cable lineup does not include AMC I have missed the whole rest of the season, which isn't being streamed for free online. Instead, they expect me to fork over money to iTunes to watch it. Good luck with that.

Anyway, the season premiere was really good. It sort of got me interested in the advertising business all over again.

I went out and bought a book called The Real Mad Men, which talked about what really went on in advertising during Don Draper's time. Apparently a lot of the creative people in advertising really don't have much good to say about Mad Men's accuracy in depicting the advertising industry. There was a really big hit piece that legendary ad man George Lois wrote for Playboy a couple of years ago, where he trashed Mad Men and said Sterling Cooper was a misrepresentation of what was really going on at ad agencies in the Sixties. The ad business was far more cool, hip and creative than what you were seeing from these dinosaurs at Sterling Cooper. Anyway, that book I bought was a real eye-opener about what really went on in those days.

As for this season of the show, the real eye-opener for me was Jessica Pare playing Draper's wife Megan. It turns out she's Canadian! Here's a profile of her that ran in the papers up here in frozen Canada.

Jessica was scorching hot on the show, with a famous scene where her character loosened up her chronically-uptight husband by singing a rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou. It didn't go so well, because, well, Don is way too uptight for his own good.

That wasn't the only big scene she had. Check out this video of a scene from near the end of the premiere episode where Megan cleans up the apartment after the big 40th birthday party for Don. Needless to say, it's hot stuff on Mad Men this year. I gotta say it: Megan Draper rocks.


I think I am going to do some more advertising stuff here at the blog -- one of these days I want to put up some of these ads from the Sixties which would have been produced during the Mad Men days. That's all for now.

MIKE WALLACE TRIBUTES

Well, the tributes have been running today to Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes. He died last week and 60 Minutes ran their hour-long retrospective to him on tonight's show. Boy could he ever conduct a hot-seat interview. The link to CBS News' tribute is here. Also, his son Chris Wallace did a tribute piece on Fox News Sunday today and the link to that is here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

THE US PLAINS ARE GETTING SOCKED BY TORNADOES

It's a massive swath of severe weather across the central plains of the USA. Oklahoma is getting hit right now. Live coverage from channel 9 in Oklahoma City. Also, live updates from the Weather Channel.

UPDATE: Not good news from Oklahoma in the wake of the tornadoes -- five people killed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sunday, April 08, 2012

TALKING ABOUT THE STATE OF THE MOVIE AND TV BUSINESS HERE IN FROZEN SASKATCHEWAN

On this Easter Sunday, I've decided to post a few of the items I've written over the past while about the movie business. First, here's my piece that ran about the massive flop that was John Carter. Disney estimates it's cost their studio at least $200 million.

Second, here's my news story about the Saskatchewan government's plans to scrap the film employment tax credit in the province, followed by my column in the News-Optimist about it. Needless to say, I was not happy with the decision and thought it was the type of decision that would contribute to more people leaving the province. Really, part of the reason this province has revived itself over the past years has been due to the great publicity and work generated thanks to shows like Corner Gas (pictured). 

I'm sure my stance surprised a lot of the local readers. I should point out there was a lot more behind my column than might be apparent. For one thing, I have family in the film industry (ie. my brother), not to mention my own TV background. So I actually have some clue about how difficult it is for a movie or TV production to get financing and what a risky venture it really is. Besides, I lived in Toronto and saw first-hand what a vibrant movie industry did for the economy there.

Moreover, though, I'm really frustrated with what I've been hearing from people in Saskatchewan over the last several months, who seem to expect our young people to settle for these abundant resource-sector jobs regardless of whether they are cut out for that line of work or not. I want to say to these folks around here that there are still people from Saskatchewan who would rather do something else instead -- like break into the movie business, for example. Yet, too few Saskatchewanians seem to care whether those folks stay or go!

I could go on and on. I guess a lot of pent-up frustration with my home province finally boiled over into my column last week. Anyway, those movie business articles were my contributions to the cyber media universe.

In other movie news, learned that The Hunger Games beat American Reunion and Titanic 3D to win the box office again this Easter weekend (Deadline Hollywood).

Saturday, April 07, 2012

HAPPY EASTER!

Yes, it's Easter tomorrow, and you know what that means right here at the blog.
You guessed it: RABBITS.


Yes, my annual tradition of putting up pictures of Playmates continues. (I can't help myself -- I like these ladies.)

Have fun eating the Chocolate eggs tomorrow, guys.

GLAD TO SEE THIS NHL REGULAR SEASON ENDING

I have to say, I am very happy to see the major league baseball season under way. For whatever reason I've really been looking forward to seeing the season back on, mainly because it marks the official end of winter around here.

I am also very happy to see the NHL playoffs arrive next week, so that we folks here in frozen Canada can see some meaningful hockey games on our television sets once again.

Believe me, the last few weeks of Hockey Night in Canada, not to mention Sportsnet and even TSN, have subjected Canadian sports fans to an endless glut of meaningless nothing games involving all our country's crappy teams, like the stinking Montreal Canadiens or pathetic Toronto Maple Leafs, not to mention the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

The games we've seen lately on TV have been a joke. The other night Sportsnet ran a nothing game between Edmonton and the stinking Anaheim Ducks; today it was Calgary's turn to go on Sportsnet and beat them. The early games on Hockey Night in Canada tonight are all meaningless as far as the standings are concerned: a nothing matchup between Montreal and Toronto for the folks out east, while we here in Saskatchewan are subjected to Tampa Bay at Winnipeg -- which at least settled the drama of whether Steven Stamkos would get 60 goals. Well, he did, early in the third period, turning that contest into a complete nothing game, too.

So needless to say I will be so happy to see the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, for no other reason than to put an end to these nothing games littering our televisions. Be ready, instead, folks, for the endless glut of Canucks games instead.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

TORNADOES AGAIN, THIS TIME IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH

What a horrible year it has been so far for devastating tornado weather in the USA. Now today it's the Dallas-Fort Worth area that got hit this afternoon. It sounded like there were about a dozen tornadoes touching down all over the place. What a big mess down there, folks. The story here from the Dallas Morning News.

SWEEP

Mitt Romney has now won the three contests today in DC, Maryland and importantly, Wisconsin, a state Rick Santorum really needed to stay alive.

It now looks as if the Republican race is all over but the shouting, and the question now is whether Romney can deliver the knockout blow to Santorum in Pennsylvania on April 24.

I still think it would be a tall order to beat Santorum in his home state, but if it were to happen it would definitely be the knockout punch. Santorum would pretty much have to leave the race out of sheer embarrassment at losing his own home state.