Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 In Music

Is it just me, or was 2008 one of the worst years in music history? Not that it was as cheesy as 1984 (think '80s' without a record by GN'R or Michael Jackson or Prince - no balls at all) , mind you, but nothing really stood out in terms of records, albums...

Coldplay were the year's best-selling band, clocking in at well under 5 million copies sold worldwide, combining both online sales and physical CDs... a poor number by any standards.

Madonna, Britney Spears and Pink are back, sort of. Again. With half their records, at least, being utter blandness. And the rest not breaking any sort of ground either.

Spin magazine named Metallica and Guns N'Roses in their top 15, yet placed The Raconteurs at #46... so I know for a fact they've gone mad, because The Raconteurs' record was a solid piece of rock while Metallica's opus, even if it recaptures some of their past sounds and sentiments, is nowhere near anything they've done before, and should not be on anyone's list of tops of nothing (it's also too good to be on a list of shitty records, I'll admit that much). GN'R, on the other hand, could make a list of the year's worst, and likely did mine, with only one song, Madagascar, good enough to make the grade (as the worst song, perhaps) on any of their previous records, and the rest was just some overproduced crap that I got bored of after no more than three listens.

There seems to be a lot of decent independent releases, some only on vinyl, this year, but there were so many that it was hard to keep count. Looking at many of my friends' Top Of '08 lists, I found many acts I had never heard of before, and very few that were repeated from one person to the next, so either they were all trying to one-up one another in the 'oscure reference' department, or many starving artists who have only sold/given 5 copies of their stuff have made very good music.

At least there were memorable singles. The song of the year, without a doubt, was I Kissed A Girl, by Katy Perry. No contest. It was everywhere, it took longer than any other song to get tired of, it was sung by a hottie, and didn't just use a fashionable beat that we'll get tired of within year's end to bring its groove home, unlike, say, anything by Lady Gaga, who also takes the prize of worst name.

My choice for #2 single of the year is the theme from the latest James Bond flick, Another Way To Die, by Jack White and Alicia Keys. Many will disagree with this choice, as most people I've talked about this song to didn't like it; only actual musicians did. It's got everything you could want from a Bond song, from the fast breaks to the lush phrasing, but they added a sense of satire when bringing in the orchestral parts where it fits so well in the song that you could never fathom the song being without it, but at the same time seems like they're making fun of every past Bond song. It's really a pleasure to listen to.

Thirdly, I'll put a Coldplay song because it wasn't annoying, surprisingly, and the drum beats were quite penetrating. And, no, I'm not talking about the yawnfest that Viva La Vida was, I'm talking about the exact same song but with soul, the one they titled Violet Hill. Like Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls and Nickelback before them (and many others even further back), Coldplay have etched out a career for themselves by re-writing the same song over and over again, barely changing anything in the process, but actually making the more recent version a little more tolerable than the last (although since Viva came out after Violet, I guess they'll be regressing now).

The Raveonettes never get their due respect. Hopefully, the sounds of Aly, Walk With Me will keep rolling for them in '09; they sure deserve it.

And to round out my Top 5, Radio Radio may not have made a dent in the worldwide electro-hip-hop scene, but they made a killing here in Québec with their originality and humour. It's like as if the Beastie Boys meant something again. Cliché Hot, the title track to their CD, was on most stations' playlists and got them into a slot at Pop Montreal, but Jaccuzzi is the song that had more of everything they do right.

Top Singles Of 2008
1. I Kissed A Girl, Katy Perry
2. Another Way To Die, Jack White and Alicia Keys
3. Violet Hill, Coldplay
4. Aly, Walk With Me, The Raveonettes
5. Jaccuzzi, Radio Radio
6. Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It, Ice Cube
7. Rich Kid Blues, The Raconteurs
8. We Call Upon The Author, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
9. Gamma Ray, Beck
10. Nine In The Afternoon, Panic At The Disco

Top Live Shows Of 2008
1. Eddie Vedder, Place-Des-Arts, summer
2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Metropolis, October 2nd
3. The Nevers, UnPop Montréal, The Pound, December 6th
4. Might, UnPop Montréal, Cagibi, December 4th
5. The Raconteurs, Metropolis, summer
6. Madonna, Centre Bell, fall
7. Radiohead, Parc Jean-Drapeau, summer
8. Eagles Of Death Metal, late fall
9. Coeur De Pirate, Laval, late fall
10. Sébastian Hell, Montréal Chose, Cagibi, April 27th (hey, it was a slow year, and I rocked!)

Top Albums of 2008:
1. TV On The Radio, Dear Science
2. Wolf Parade, At Mount Zoomer
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Dig! Lazarus! Dig!
4. Amanda Palmer, Who Killed Amanda Palmer
5. The Raconteurs, Consolers Of The Lonely
6. Coeur De Pirate, Coeur De Pirate
7. The Kills, Midnight Boom
8. The Raveonettes, Lust, Lust, Lust
9. The Nevers, single
10. Ice Cube, Raw Footage
11. Nine Inch Nails, The Slip
12. The Black Keys, Attack & Release
13. T-Bone Burnett, Tooth of Crime
14. Beck, Modern Guilt
15. AC/DC, Black Ice

Biggest Shits (in no particular order): Tam, Guns' Chinese Democracy, Nickelback released the worst record of the year for the fourth (?) time, rap had little to offer of consequence - and the major labels seem to have died - good riddance.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guys Who Hate Bobby Orr

I'm one of those who would say Bobby Orr might be a tad overrated, particularly by those who say he's the best hockey player of all time.

Best of his era, perhaps, but I don't even think he qualifies for best defenseman ever. That honour likely belongs to Doug Harvey, who invented the end-to-end rushes Orr made more famous in an age of more media exposure, and the perfect Nicklas Lidstrom dominating this era's game makes a case for himself as well.

And the forwards! Wayne Gretzky's points totals (heck, his assists totals alone would make him the top point-getter in NHL history!) speak for themselves. Mario Lemieux was the most gifted player ever, if only his passion would have been equal to his set of skills. And what about 'Rocket' Richard, Gordie Howe, Jean Béliveau?

And if you include goalies, too? Patrick Roy, the best under pressure, for sure; Terry Sawchuck, Jacques Plante, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek... Vladislav Tretiak in the USSR...

However, some guys take their Orr-hatred a bit extremely... The Folks at NoMoreOrr.com go as far as saying he ruined the game of hockey! A fun read, though, if you take it tongue-in-cheek!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Riots In Greece

For the record, it's scary as hell being in one. Living in the area where it's happening is even worse; your safety is compromised, and rioters rarely remember the citizens in their environments, much less remember to be mindful of them.

Yet, upon looking at pictures of the recent riots in Greece, and particularly in Athens, I could not help but think that the least few times these sorts of 'events' happened here, it was either to celebrate after a sporting event, or to show disarray after a rock show.

Over there, there was latent tension between the government and the People it should serve, what with a ridiculous unemployment rate and living conditions unfit of a European country in the New Millenium. But the pressure went past its boiling point when cops killed 15 year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on December 6th. And the cop was charged, too.

Here, when police officers kill people, they don't even face murder charges, and the public outcry displayed rarely goes beyond small communities, usually visible minorities. The media talks about it a bit, people express their shame and fear, and we move on to bigger and better things, like waiting 12 hours before seeing a doctor at the hospital for a common cold, and the stories die down.

In Greece, and in most countries where Citizens have more power than Law And Order, when dissatisfaction occurs, it shows. Leaders' heads get chopped off, cops get set on fire, military coups happen.

The Disco Inferno:

Guess I'm Doing Fine

It's not the first snow storm of the year, it might not even be the second one, but it's the most annoying, for sure. The first one to make me forgo sleep because it'll be more of a bitch to get home and come back to work than just stay here and write.

I'll need caffeine and uppers: Pepsi, Rockstar (pomegranate flavour, with vodka, because it doesn't specify a daily limit I can intake), Wake Ups. To start. Then, in a couple of hours, I'll decide if I need more - or stronger - material. Hopefully not, because I'm more than due for a full night's sleep tonight... seven nights in the making. Wouldn't want my day's consumption to ruin the night I so rightfully deserve.

I'm seeing birds flying in the top-right corner of my right eye, my left eye feels like it's covered in Vaseline, my balance is off a bit; I probably look like a drunk when I walk the hallways going to washroom.

My headphones are on, and ironically '80s-style goth-rock fills my ears, adding to the sense that I'm out of synch with the world; Joy Division's Transmission, And One's Military Fashion Show, The Cure's The Blood... never has the 'random' feature been so focused.

My stomach grawls, as wretched gases fight to leave my body's premises. I'm freezing one minute, boiling the next. Outside, the world is not only covered in white Artic Leftovers but actually drowning in it, not inch by inch but foot by foot. Sitting inside, ten feet from the windowsill, I wonder if death will feel this weird, if I'm nearing it somehow with my decadent lifestyle. I wouldn't be ready, that's for sure.

To think two months ago I was in Cuba, the one place on earth that makes you truly wonder about divinity, but also the one place where you wouldn't need it.

My body is doing all it can to shut down. My eyes close, my brain blinks, my mouth won't open. Nine more hours and it'll be smooth sailing. Cold sweat covers me, shivers take over, a wonderful piece of machinery that needs to rest.

Beck comes on, with Guess I'm Doing Fine. Figures.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Exaggeration Is The Finest Form Of Flattery

Sheldon Souray, former star defenseman of the Montréal Canadiens, now with the Edmonton Oilers, showed an unusual amount of praise, and a bit of a reality check recently...

Indeed, he compared teammate Dwayne Roloson, a very decent netminder, to gods and legends Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.

Now, I'll admit Souray almost knows what he's talking about: as a young rookie, he played in front of Brodeur with the New Jersey Devils, and also played with José Théodore, the only heir to Roy worth mentioning so far in Montréal since coach Mario Tremblay got him sent to Denver to finish his career as a Colorado Avalanche.

It's intended as a complimet to Roloson, for keeping his head up in a three-way battle for net time in Edmonton, where he shares duties with Mathieu Garon (Théodore's former pupil in Montréal) and newcomer (and Quebecer/Canadiens fan) Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, the Oilers' future star goalie. Indeed, Roloson deserves much respect for being to keep his team in games even at 39 years of age, after propelling the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Finals just a few years back...

It's also a bit of a slag on Théodore, who won the Vezina Trophy (best goalie in the league) and Hart Trophy (most valuable player in the league) for the Habs in 2002 after being the team's best player for the four years prior. Théo, as he is known, was chased out of Montréal when his off-ice problems started interfering with his game; it took him a year to get back on point, in Colorado, too, as he single-handedly brought the team to the playoffs last spring. His ego also got in the way of his game as he tried playing through an injury and was ransacked by Detroit when they should have been an easy target. This season, Théo is sharing duties with Brent Johnson for the Washington Capitals, winning most of his games, but giving up more than 3 goals per game, on average, a statistic that didn't mean much 15 to 20 years ago but puts him in the bottom third of the league at the moment.

Nice of him to keep an old-timer's spirits up. Lord knows he needs it, especially if he's to play more than the two others guys he's sharing a job with. But to compare a guy whose biggest feat was in the minor leagues with the two winningest goalies in the history of the league (and the best and fifth-best of all time, in my opinion, with Roy at #1) is going a little overboard, especially when you've played with another (perhaps) overrated goalie who has habits of being the best in a series of short stints but has struggled with consistency over the course of his career...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was thinking about this, talking with friends whose parents had passed away, some recently, one three years ago...

I'm the most independent person I know. Too much, at times, in a way. Many of my family members would like me to call more often, but Life gets in the way. I hope they know they're the most important thing to me, just that we keep different schedules and don't always think alike, but I still have all the love in the world for them.

Especially my mom. She's devoted to our cause like no other, always there for me and my brother. We do our best to not abuse it, she does her best to let us live, but I'd be lost for a fucking while if anything happened to her.

I see her once or twice a year; I'll see her soon, for the Holidays. It doesn't happen to me often, but these two weeks seem really far away...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Feel-Good Hockey Story

It had been in small-town papers, and slowly made its way towards bigger ones. It's now on the NHL's website.

Players from the Chicago Black Hawks, all of them in fact, instead of boarding a chartered plane and heading home for a well-deserved day off, chartered a pair of buses and went to a small town in Ontario to attend to their GM's father's funeral.

Then they stopped at a McDonald's on their way back and signed autographs for everyone there.

Feel-good. Millionaires who do good.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Day Democracy Died

I'm usually pretty fucking quick to respond to political events - especially the really big ones. I've been asked by many how I felt about the current situation in Canada, what with the prorogation and not having an actual government in place for the next month to month-and-a-half.

It's funny because both sides of the argument, at one point or another, have used the same arguments and same metaphors to describe opposing points, usually something about the ''rape of our democracy''.

It started with angry Albertans who blindly believe what ''their'' leader has to say, even when it's dumb, even more so when it's a blatant lie. By using Karl Rove's tactics that did so well for the Republican Party in the U.S. for a decade or so (but ironically got whooped just a month ago...), Stephen Harper has managed to divide the country... by blaming all of Canada's problems on 'separatists'. And since Quebecers have been the target of most campaigns of fear in this country since the '70s - the Albertans bit on the hook again, only this time, they're alone, because it really hasn't been an issue since 1998.

What was an issue, though, was addressing the current worldwide economic crisis. Stephen Harper, who was elected as a minority Prime Minister with barely 25% of the voting public's votes, thought doing nothing was best. Not just that, but to prove he was serious about silencing the opposition right off the bat, he came in with aggressive confidence motions in the first session of Parliament that go against most Canadian values, including but not limited to women's rights to equal pay.

The opposition, who represent not only more members than the ruling party but a vast majority of voters as well, decided to not let themselves be backed into a corner and reacted accordingly with Canadian law - by banding together to represent the vast majority of voters and change the course of where the country was headed. Because in Canada, contrary then in the U.S., we can stop mistakes like most of George W. Bush's decisions from happening, when they are contrary to what the majority of elected officials want. And all elected officials have to represent the district they came from, the voters who elect them - and their values.

What is difficult to understand is why the Governor General, the Queen of England's representative in Canada, went against the wishes of most Canadians' (and, therefore, a majority of elected officials') wishes and decided to give Harper time to either settle down and be more reasonable and convince others to join a more reasonable plan - or to call another election, 2 months after a useless one, two years after the last one. And have no government to deal with the economic crisis in the meantime.

Just last Friday, 1000 people in Grand Falls-Windsor lost their jobs, and there is no government in session to either help them or comfort them, and there will be none until some time in January. Who knows how many more will be let off in the meantime.

What's scary is this: So far, by using the same tactics that failed the Republicans just a month ago and diverting blame on his opponents, Harper has been able to not only keep his supporters, but also make them more angry and militant, ready for groundwork to their Cause, which in itself is wrong, but that's beside the point.

My guess is he'll be able to convince them that if the economy fails because we've had no government, it'll be the coalition's fault for not letting him rule as the (not really, but hey, it works) ''elected'' leader.

And if the economy doesn't really fail, he'll be able to convince more idiots that his no-plan wasn't all bad since no government didn't even kill the cash flow.

He's in the driver's seat, not realizing he's drunk, and refusing to let the designated driver drive. And he knows that, statistically, he has less of a chance to die than the car he'll be hitting in the one-on-one collision. Problem is, most Canadians will be pedestrians by the side of the road by the time this is all finished, and many of us will be collateral damage.

Too bad Stéphane Dion is hated by so many people, me included, the whole ''coalition saving the country'' thing will die just because he would have been the one in charge of it.

After capitalism showed us its limits in the past couple of months, this is democracy at its finest, I guess.

UnPop 2008 Is Over!

UnPop Montréal. Year Four: 4 More Days Of No Sleep And Good Music. It ended in the wee hours the morning, ended well in a warm atmosphere amongst friends in a climate of love... until it was time to leave and off we went into minus-30 weather. Ah, the joys of winter!

So this year gathered less media attention, most probably because it was completed in a haste, barely a week ahead of the scheduled shows. The turnout was generally fine, overall. And the money required to put the shows on was a lot less than that of years past. All in all, a success story.

It kicked off on Thursday night at Cagibi. Sébastian Hell, Might, Reason To Hide and Anti-School-Year.

Then off to The Pound on Saturday for weird music, with Merles Guitar Band, Launie Anderssohn, The Montreal Nintendo Orkestar and Raw Madonna.

Saturday night, still at The Pound, Smoked Meat Fax Machine improvised a set of instrumental madness, ElevenEighty grooved the house on down, and The Nevers brought the crowd home to an era most of them hadn't even lived in, early-80's Manchester, England, with a sound reminiscent of a cross between Joy Division and The Cure, but realer in a way than Interpol. It's pretty fucking hard to believe these kids are so good.

Then it was back at Cagibi for a case of Patrick Hutchinson (of Swift Years, formerly of Bare Bones), Will Austin, Allan Lento and Elizabeth Bruce. A top-quality finish, but one of those that usually goes unnoticed for too long.

Individual show revires may follow on this blog, as they will be posted from somewhere else.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Brothers Who Loved Boys Too Much

The Gazette came out today with an amazing in-depth look at sexual abuses at my alma mater, Collège Notre-Dame.

It talks about one particular case but also says the bulk of the cases reported to it took place in the 1970s.

I was there from 1990-95. I can say that cases in my era were absoltely not blatant and exposed. For one thing, Brothers no longer taught any classes, and only two were still on duty, in charge of the boys' dormitory for seventh graders.

Others roamed the halls at times, yes, because they still lived in the building, but most were never present when students were around.

It's hard to pinpoint how many kids were susceptible to have been abused, because you cannot assume a teen has been raped just because he acts weird.

But the two who tended to the boarding boys should not have been there in the first place. Whether accidental or intentional, some slips have definitely occurred. And to think that some kids were scarred to the point of committing suicide - for something that could easily have been avoided - by keeping the priests away from the kids. As simple as a math problem, really.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The 15 Stupidest Musician's Quotes of 2008

Leave it to a guitar manufacturer's website to come up with an original list of Top Tens (we,, fifteen, actually) for year's end: The 15 Stupidest Musician's Quotes of 2008. Some really are the dumbest fucking things, for sure, but others got me thinking ''wait, you mean to tell me Britney Spears didn't say anything dumber than that in all of 335 so far in the year''?

Then again, does she qualify as a musician? She doesn't have Mariah Carey's vocal chords, to say the least. Heck, she doesn't even have Chris Martin's. By the way, both Carey and Martin made the list. Sort of.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Germany's Top Goalie Plays Despite Incurable Cancer

If I had half this guy's will power, I'd sleep even less.

He has terminal brain cancer, yet still plays hockey at a top level in Europe.

He also has a wife and two kids, mind you, and maybe if I were in his situation, I'd try to see them a little more often than not, but you have to keep doing what you love to make it through the day, and if he can make time for both family and work/passion, all the better for him.

Hats off to you, Robert Müller of Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One Of Those Days

I took a 4-day weekend, so technically, today, Wednesday, should be my Monday. And it feels like a Monday, in a sense, because it feels like utter shit. Let alone that I've slept but 4 hours so far since last Friday, that I worked for 3 of my 4 days off...

But everything's going wrong. My computer is so slow, it feels like I'm typing on a fucking retard. I have to wait for it to catch up with me, and rebooting didn't change a thing. I feel like I'm Usain Bolt waiting for the runner-up to finish the raceso we can hop on the podium, and it's taking hours.

But I'm so fucking dazed myself that when everyone else is speaking to me, it feels like Alvin and the rest of the Chipmunks are playing on fast forward when I would rather h a v e t h e m t a k e t h e i r t i m e...

It's like that Radiohead video, ''Street Spirit (Fade Out)'', I guess, with all the varying speeds.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mitch Hedberg - Do You Believe in Gosh

A friend of mine brought me this today. Mitch Hedberg - if you've never heard his comedy before, do yourself a favour and buy his three records, and watch videos of him on YouTube. He was so fucking funny. It's a shame he couldn't live without drugs; cocaine and heroin are what eventually took him away.

At first (10 years ago, maybe?) I was thrown off by his speech pattern, it was like a Southern accent mixed with an ''I'm reading out loud but never learned to read as a child'' factor, kinda like Bernie Mac, but actually funny. But the minute I got used to it, he was just that much funnier.

Fuck, you've got me: I'll listen to every Hedberg album today!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chinese Democracy

Seriously, I saw Guns N' Roses live in '06, and they really are the best GN'R cover band in the world.

It's too bad they suck at writing their own songs and ran out of covers before they could release something as terrible as their version of Sympathy For The Devil again (or as decent as Spaghetti Incident again).

Chinese Democracy has to be the muddiest-sounding, most poorly written, anticipated rock record ever. 3 okay riffs on one record, one barely listenable song that is almost a 'cut/paste/recut/turn the pieces around' rendition of Estranged, but shorter and more like a cheap knock off.

And considering some of Buckethead's parts still made the record, it's also got to be the most disappointing release by a bunch of (mostly) very talented rockers ever (also Brain Mantia, Robin Fincke, Tommy Stinson).

I guess that's what $15M buys you: talent to play on your record, but not an ability to work well together - or songwriting talent.

Or maybe we're all wrong, and 50 years from now we'll realize how much Axl was ahead of his time and will be considered the Mozart of rock, you know, like supposedly the history books will be kind to W. Bush as the conservative Americans say.

There will always be those who dismiss them as another Bon Jovi-type hair metal band. But their sound was pretty far from that of Poison, Ratt, Mötley Crüe and the like... they had a rawness and a 'realer' rock sound that was closer to a mix of Zeppelin and Dead Boys, rather than a castrated and emasculated Aerosmith/Van Halen like the other bands that I would qualify as 'cock rock'.

Those who don't see the difference will say they didn't have any memorable songs apart from the hits, but it all depends what you want to listen to. As far as straightforward rock goes, Rocket Queen, My Michelle, Mr Brownstone, 14 Years and a few more are just as good as any Nirvana or Pixies or Stones song.

Also, I doubt anyone living outside the U.S. would really be that excited about that record, since only Americans are allowed their free Dr Pepper when the record gets released. But it's here, it's hyped, it cost a fortune - curiosity can bring a listen and that listen brings the inevitable conclusion that it wasn't worth the wait, for whoever actually was waiting.
It's been 14 years of silence
It's been 14 years of pain
It's been 14 years that have gone forever and I'll never have again
Who knew Izzy was such a visionary?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bernie Ecclestone And The Selling Of Dreams

Bernie Ecclestone's verdit is final: there will be no Montréal Grand Prix in 2009, maybe ever. The City didn't feel it was worth losing millions upon millions for a worldwide visibility that merely lasts one weekend. Sure, the Formula 1 race brought more money to the City in a single weekend than any other, even events that last weeks or months cannot compare. But when the asking price is more than the financial benefits, the deficit doesn't make sense.

Montréal isn't the first city to say no to Bernie; Buenos Aires did it before, Indianapolis, Lisboa, Imola, Magny-Cours... Bernie has decided that the traditional Western markets, even if they sell more tickets, will keep watching the races on TV even if they take place in Singapore, Shanghai or Istanbul, who are willing to shell out more money for half-empty races.

But I'm just not sure it's so wise to not have a single race in either Americas...

Anyhow, Bernie had been trying to get Montréal off of its schedule for a decade now. We gave and gave until, for the last three years, we have lost $10M every year. With a worldwide economy on the decline, Montréal decided to play it safe and not keep losing cash. Bernie is trying to suck up all the capital he can before everyone else on the planet goes bankrupt, especially the car companies that make up his product.

By wiping the humanity and common sense from his being, Ecclestone has become the ultimate Business Man of our era, not the richest in the world, but among that elite group and the only one without any competitors to speak of; he will also be the last one standing in his area of expertise, which should be a sign for Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari and the others to never trust him for extended periods of time. As soon as he stops making them money, they should leave his ass behind before he starts eating into their deficits, because that's the type of man he is - a Business Man, for the end of the '90s, the beginning of the New Millenium.

He isn't made for the Conscious People that are on the rise right now, but he doesn't care: the minute he stops making money, he'll just take off with the billions he already has in store and make a comfortable living for himself, by himself. He has nothing riding in anything, no manufacturing plant to take care of, very few employees (everything is subcontracted), he can stop at any given time, which isn't true for anyone dealing around him and making him money.

He is selling other people's services, and the buyers are getting fewer, but as long as there are 15 of them remaining, he will keep raking the money in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

I saw this movie recently, and I'm glad to say it lived up to the hype. I was hoping it would be better than Knocked Up, as good as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and dreaming it could come close to Old School. Well, as Meat Loaf put it, ''Two out Of Three Ain't Bad''.

What's nice is that the one-liners were almost all chuckle-inducing or better. What was surprising was that the scene-stealing moments were all done by supporting cast members, with Mila Kunis and Russell Brand doing most of them.

Da'Vone MacDonald as the bartender had a few too. And with Kristen Bell basically parodying herself (and doing an okay job at it), it's a wonder why Jason Segel was so good at self-effacing when he could have had a few moments himself.

A good way to spend a couple of hours, especially the unrated version. 7.5/10

Monday, November 10, 2008

What This Picture Looks Like To Me

Mr Cowboy, meet Mr Classy.
One of them looks Presidential.
Guess Who's Coming To Fix My Fuck-Ups?

Bush: You know, Mr. Bama, or can I call you B.O.B., or Barack O, or just O? Hey, what does that 'O' in your middle name stand for, anyway? I thought your middle name was Hussein, or did my team just make that up?

Obama: Actually, Sir, my last name is ''Obama'', it's just one word.

Bush: Huh... Really? Go figure. Hey, are you going to mind that most of this room is all white, or will you have it redecorated? 'Cause my wife tells me it needs to stay Presidential, whatever that means.

Obama: Sir, really, I haven't thought of how the room should look, more about how to use what it represents to get my point accross when I'm sitting in it.

Bush: You'll see, it's an easy job. Heck, I did it for 8 years and barely remember the names of 5, maybe 6 people I've met from other countries. Did you know that most of our imports come from other countries? Those guys kept reminding me, some of them are pretty good negotiators...

Obama: Yes, sir, I've met a few of them on my recent tour of Europe.

Bush: Europers, those are crazy fuckers. You never know who's in charge, they change Presidents every year and add new states to its members all the time; it can get pretty confusing.

Obama: Uh, yes. I'll take note of that.

Bush: Heh heh. Hey, this is where Bill did the thing with the cigar. And here's where we hide them, just in case you wanna, you know?

Obama: Uh, no, thank you.

Bush: And over there's the only spot in the room that's shielded from cameras, it's where I go to pretend I'm reading the newspaper.

Obama: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Hey, do you mind if I try the chair out for a second?

Bush: Boy, you best not start being too presumptuous now... You're lucky I stole elections myself, or I'd have you locked up for messing up the promise I made John McCain when I kicked his ass in 2000.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grey's Anatomy Fired Actress After Lesbian Scene

Although many sources, including Huffington Post, cite Grey's Anatomy executive producer Shonda Rhimes as saying this decision has nothing to do with actress Brooke Smith's recently-aired lesbian love-making episode.

Uh huh.

The fact that ABC executives were afraid of losing Christian viewers and/or valuable advertizers had nothing to do with the firing, which was told to the actress at the very last minute - when she got her next script. And the fact that it looks abrupt and forced in the script and is left rather unexplained is likely a coincidence too.

So let me get this straight: you do your job and go ahead with what's in the script, you lose your job. You refuse to go through with it (which never came to Smith's mind, mind you, consumate professional that she is), you're a sexist - and fired too.

''Damned if you don't, damned if you do'', said philosopher Bart Simpson in the song ''Deep Deep Trouble'' in the early '90s.

I guess so.

Nice to see networks still don't have the stomach to defend their employees and the purity of the art they're trying to maintain in a landscape dominated by reality shows. The bigger the corporation that's your boss, the less they've got your back. Good to know.

At least viewers got to see some girl-on-girl action, and film producers and directors saw someone willing to go where the script will take her, for future reference.

Alexander Semin Has Balls

It's a little old in terms of news but the Washington Capitals' Alexander Semin has called out the NHL's superstar and #1 attraction, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, as not being as talented as the hype surrounding him would suggest.

In a TSN.ca article, indeed, the NHL's leading scorer (that would be Semin, by the way) goes as far as saying sophomore Patrick Kane of the Chicago Black Hawks has better moves and an overall better game.

While I haven't seen Kane play enough to either agree or diagree with that last statement, I do agree that Corsby has been overhyped and is nowhere near the best player in the league as of yet. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier, Detroit Red Wings defender Nicklas Lidstrom and Calgary Flames power forward Jarome Iginla, among others, would be way ahead.

He's not even the best in his age range (the Caps' Alexander Ovechkin and Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf would be ahead of him in that last category, in my book).

But he is still young and could develop into a real force if he bulks up and stops whining. And is likely in the top 30 forwards in the game as it is, which is still ahead of most others.

It's a debate that will only be settled when all players have retired and comparisons can be made. In the meantime, though, Alexander Semin's first real interaction with the North American media has been one in which he's shown tremendous character. After all, you don't get recognition by beating puppies (unless you're Michael Vick), but by going for one of the top dogs.

Another Sign The End Times Are Upon Us

Oh Fuck.

It started with a stupid comment from Martin Brodeur, lone star player of the New Jersey Devils, and - for an unknown reason - all goalies' representative to the league when it's time to change something in a sport that in itself is the fastest and requires the most endurance on the face of the earth - and doesn't really require much change.

A year or two ago, he suggested owners should think about using goaltenders' jerseys to sell advertizing space to increase revenue, citing soccer (European and South American 'football') as an example of jerseys being used for ads.

But the idiots who bought the Tampa Bay Lightning (who apparently have 15 pretty good fowards - all on a scoring drought - no worthy goalie and barely one proven defenseman) have taken it a little further this year - by forcing their goalies to paint their masks to advertise a movie they've produced... Saw V.

It's funny that the only form of self-expression allowed in the NHL regarding uniforms is if a player wants to tuck in half his jersey; goalies have it a bit better, as they're allowed to have their masks painted to reflect their personality, usually still meshing with the team's colours. Here's where the funny kicks in: if anyone in the league gets a feeling that it's unethical to use that right to self-expression as an advertiizng tool, the league will turn to its 'changes commitee' and Martin Brodeur, of all people, to see if it's right or wrong. Oh boy.

Mike Smith's mask, at the top, doesn't even fit with his team's colours. How far are we from having Budweiser buy the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose nickname is actually the Buds, just for the advertizing space?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Birth Of Hope

It's a wonder why I'm not already in bed.

Tomorrow should be a new day, full of hope. Maybe even a New World.

It's hard to imagine drastic changes in the Machine that makes the world turn, it is has more cogs and screws than you can throw a plumber at, be it Joe or any other. But there was one thing people needed more than change anyway, to keep this machine turning.


Hope that everything's possible. That the strongest political machine can be defeated. That it isn't wrong to help others in need. That, albeit with a lot of effort, Right will triumph over Wrong in the end. That we will live to see another day. That reason can exist, coexist with and overcome unthought aggression and brash stupidity. That things can be better, and are going to.

Hope. Hope in the exact Machine we might have needed to stop believing in so we could be free. The Machine that crashed the markets so the already-rich could buy once-and-future cash cows at the lowest possible prices; the Machine that sent people to the poor house and seized their homes while people running for office can't even count the amount of property they own; the Machine that even French President Sarkozy said needed a complete overhaul.

Hope. The Rebirth Of Capitalism, Federalism, the American Dream (and the American Imperialism), hot dogs, baseball, 24-hour news networks with barely 5 hours of news on them; sounds a lot like the Clinton years, and we know what happened as soon as someone else took over.

And guess what? It's still a whole lot better than the alternative of more wars, more debt, less government intervention in the wrong (right?) places, more tax breaks for the rich, and possible setbacks in the areas of women's rights and civil liberties.

And here I hope: that Barack Obama really becomes what he says he will. He won't part the waters, won't even get nearly half the things done that need to be done; the Machine he's given us Hope in won't let him, it has mechanisms to keep him from changing too much of it, but here's Hoping the Machine doesn't rein him in and break him like it did John McCain in the past year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama Eats Babies

After being called the Antichrist, a Muslim, a friend of terrorists, a socialist, been referred to in racist terms... Barack Obama now eats babies! What's next, a puppy-kicker?

If only the game was the least bit addictive. I got bored after 4 babies the first time, and 7 the next when I gave it another chance.


Poor Bono

Fucking paparazzi. There is nowhere left to hide for celebs who just want to relax a little... damn modern technology.

I agree the pictures look bad (for his reputation as a model family man, not that he or the barely legal teens look anything less than great). But if there were any that were worse, they'd be there, in that article, too. The paparazzi have no morals or limits, so if he had participated in an orgy of young flesh - or even just taken one - they would have pics. But they don't.

So the dude partied, drank, and took pictures in warm weather with bikini-clad 19-year-olds. Last time I checked, it wasn't a crime in either France (where he was), Ireland, or the rest of the UK (where he's from and lives mostly). His bases are covered.

Leave Bono ALOOOONE!!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election Fever?

First it was a federal election which proved useless because the conservatives remained a minority. So we spent $300M (yes, three hundred million dollars) to end up just about exactly where we were, which is at a stalemate, with much more interest in the American federal election.

So the American federal election happens next week. We'll know just how fucked our neighbours to the South are, and whether they intend on fixing themselves up or want to wait until they get even worse.

So the fashionable word these days is election. Since our provincial government can't make their own minds up and would rather follow trends rather than set them, they want in on the fun. Those bastards know how fed up we are with the whole process, they know that chances they will remain a minority government, they know it'll be wasted money in harsh economic times, and they know how sick we are of seeing signs and billboards all over the fucking place.

But they don't care. And not in a George W. Bush ''my balls are bigger than my brain'' way, either, no, in a ''I don't give a shit, I have a budget I'm allowed to waste and I'M fucking wasting it'' kind of way that reeks of self-importance and seems to be the complete opposite of what public service actually means.

But that was expected, right? I mean, we're talking about a leader who has crossed party lines just to win and sit on an easy throne, who tried to sell a fucking mountain (is anything any MORE public domain than a fucking mountain???) to his condo-building friends; a party whose ranks just grew with other party-line-crossers (crosseurs?); a party that tries to privatize everything public and that does its best to work illegally...

A party that'll stay in power because people are unsure about the PQ's new program of not holding a referendum in the near future but that still brought, historically, equal pay for women in the workplace, affordable babysitting programs, facilitated unionizing, increased minimum wages and is vowing to keep post-secondary education fees as low as they can. Who the fuck do these commies think they are, Barack Obama?

Anyway. Elections. Yay.

I hear the Canadian Army is working on super-smart environmentally-friendly bombs that kill all humans but leave trees standing. Can't they work on one that eliminates politicians and corruption instead?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm In French, Too!

For those familiar with Céline Dion's mother tongue, my French blog can be found here.

In the best of worlds, I would write everything that comes to mind in both languages and they would be replicas of one another. Likely, though, they won't.

However, they may complete one another. It's like both hemispheres of my brain working separately. I just wonder which one seceded first, and if a unification is possible.

Who knows, really? Those who read both blogs, that's who.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why I've been ''Away''

I haven't blogged much recently, because I've been writing my best (favourite?) song of the past 3-to-5 years. It's a weird situation, if only because I usually write my favourite lyrics in one sitting, in a stream-of-consciousness style.

But I'm writing this one song as more of a short story, in multiple takes and a variety of places, while doing my best to not make it epic. In Guns N' Roses terms, My Michelle rather than November Rain. Except it's not about girls, but more about the overabundance of possibly fun things that I seem to attract.

Of course, I'm only using a GN'R analogy because I'm currently reading their biography, Watch You Bleed, by Stephen Davis, that I really liked at first but as it goes on, the writing becomes less professional, more botched. But still wildly entertaining.

Marc-André Grondin

On apprend ici que Marc-André Grondin vient de tourner trois films en France, que les Français l'aiment, qu'il a maîtrisé l'accent parisien, qu'on le vend comme un mélange de Vincent Cassel et Romain Duris.

Ben, crisse... gardez-le.

Son plus haut fait d'armes ici, selon moi, c'était ses qualités de batteur (de drummer, pas batteur de femmes).

C.R.A.Z.Y.? De la grosse marde. J'allais ajouter ''surtout lui'', mais ce n'est pas vrai. Le scénario et la réalisation étaient bien pires. Mais ce film 'over-rated' en masse qui n'aurait jamais survécu plus d'une semaine en salle n'eut été de sa bande sonore de hits trop entendus des années 70 n'avait que Michel Côté pour le sauver.

Il y a des tonnes de films de 'coming-out' qui sont meilleurs, des masses de films à 'contenu gay' qui le dépassent, dont certains relativement 'grand public' qui se sont rendus aux Oscars (allo, Crying Game).

Les Américains et les British ont montré comment bien faire ces films-là; il faut relever le défi et les surpasser, pas en faire des copies pâles pleines de clichés.

Anyhow... Grondin. Rien de personnel. Mais profite bien de la France, et ne te gêne pas pour y faire fortune.

Google Ads

These are coming up after the text on my page.

It's a test, for now. Not sure how long they'll stay, but I figured since everyone had them anyway, we've sort of gotten sued to them by now, but they might not stay forever.

Friday, October 24, 2008

When Republicans Choose Obama

First it was Colin Powell, decorated former General, Bush's first Secretary Of State, whom the White House humiliated by sending him in front of the whole world to support the WMD theories. That wasn't all that much of a shock.

Then came Bush's former official mouthpiece, Scott McClennan and Arne Carlson, former Governor of Minnesota. Considering McClellan had also publicly said he had been manipulated when came time to defend the Iraq war, that wasn't a huge surprise either. Loyalty only goes one way so far before enough's enough.

Today, it's William Weld, former Governor of Massachussets, and Charles Fried, a McCain advisor who used to work for Ronald Reagan.

Just when I was thinking that McCain's new strategy of abandoning certain states and having advisors publicly backstabbing each other in newspapers might be Karl Rove's new strategy to keep Democrats at home thinking a landslide was coming and getting the Republican vote to come out and mean something might be genius...

It doesn't really look like a strategy anymore.

Have we all overestimated America's racism? Could they really go back to being the force of Progress and Reason on this big blue globe? Could it be (gasp)... HOPE?

I'm still doubting. Hopeful, but doubting.

And the New York Times endorsed Obama today. Considering their recent track record, that may not be the best idea.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Family Guy Has Balls

I haven't always been a fan of Family Guy. I've thought their strong points, the only funny parts, were in bits that usually had nothing to do with the story line, as opposed to, oh, say... The Simpsons, who fit their jokes into a story line, which when done right is much better, subtler, smarter, but when done wrong becomes obvious, apparent, contrived and cheap. In recent seasons, The Simpsons have gone back to doing it well, for a viewership in the modern era, when they had gone more '50s and forced on their base in seasons previous.

But Family Guy has taken a few bold stances worth noticing recently, and it would be wrong to not mention it at all. For instance, this clip takes a bold stance on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election by showing a nazi who supports the McCain-Palin ticket - of which I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

It remains to be seen whether Family Guy can go the South Park way and become a quintessential big-audience animation show that ignites position-taking and provokes thoughts on a constant basis (on current divise issues, more often than not) rather than just go for a cheap pop-culture laugh - and I'm not even sure it's their intention to get there either. But this particular shot was bold, and deserved mention.

On either side of the political spectrum, when someone has balls, it's good to talk about it; even more when they're on the right side.

Monday, October 20, 2008

John McCain's Sidejob


Just how old is John McCain anyway? Well, on weekends, he's been used as Gene Simmons' double when KISS plays the Heartland...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elections Canada, Take 2

So I've had 30-some hours to digest this. And what it comes down to is that if it weren't for Québec voting massively for the Bloc, the Conservatives would have a majority government, which would set the country back nearly 50 years in the exact areas of expertise - freedom, liberty, common sense, tolerance, peace, human rights - where we were once world leaders.

But when you look more closely, the independents have a tendency pushing ''to the right'', and some elected Liberals are over 60 and share some ideas with the Conservatives. Which means not only will their ''cabinet'' be able to slash all the programs they don't agree with (women's rights, funding the arts) like during their last term, but they might also be able to have laws passed this time. Laws that would make Canada that much closer to the U.S. - like having 14 year-olds tried as adults and able to face life in prison.

To think that we were so close to decriminalizing marijuana!

Some are arguing that Canadians were confused by the harsh economic times, and harsh perspectives... so they voted for the one party that had no plan and said ''everything was fine''????

It's also peculiar, but also self-explanatory, that the ''winners'' of this election have elected a grand total of ZERO (0) representatives in any of the country's 3 biggest cities - Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver. Which means the three metropolitan areas that most represent the country abroad will not be represented in the government's caucus, which is perfect when you want to cut everything that made the country shine on the international level.

And it's self-explanatory because the Conservatives have been using the American Republicans' strategy of cheap personal attacks, dividing opponants, favouring small towns and the countryside rather than cities, tax breaks for the rich and increased military spending explained through false nationalism.

I'm glad Québec voted massively for the Bloc, winning two-thirds of all the province's seats. Not only will it stop the Conservatives from having an actual majority, but it also shows once more the difference in cultures between the two entities that comprise (and created, sort of) Canada. With its own language, culture and progressive thinking, Québec really is a distinct society. When the Rest Of Canada goes to the Right, convinced by fear, Québec goes massively to the Left, doing what it can to preserve its (remaining) rights, liberties and freedom.

While some pundits will try to say the Bloc's performance actually dropped 4% from last time, that's a spin that in no way represents the Truth. The voter turnout was actually the lowest in recorded history. The Bloc won most of the tight races, and lost by landslides in others, not wasting votes in counties they have no shot of winning in. In doing so, they effectively killed their opponents at just about every turn. The only hurtful defeat was of Vivian Barbot, who unexpectedly (and unexplainably) lost to Liberal Justin Trudeau, who had no business winning anywhere, let alone in an area where visible minorities are actually more of a majority. I suspect many dead people from the '70s voted, or that Bloc supporters decided to stay at home there as well because victory was assured - a terrible lesson that should be learned and corrected within 2 to 4 years.

Hopefully, Canadians will soon learn they've made a mistake and we'll get to do it all over again, and this time the Conservatives will take a huge nosedive for having taken a massive dump on us - and bringing us to the harshest recession in our history. If not, it won't be all bad - the Conservatives will make it ever-the-more obvious that Québec doesn't fit in with the rest of the country, and will facilitate its independence. Either way, the next couple of years won't be easy, but the future should be golden. This dark, black cloud has a grey lining, but I can almost see it shine.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Does It Work?

It's quarter to 5AM. I've had an alright night, going all around town looking for a place to chill among fellows - with some kind of womanly attention going on. It took us at least two hours to get settled, but once we did, it was all right. So, Cafe Campus it was. None of us were looking to get lucky per se, but it was mutual consent, which is more than I can say for our conversations an hour previous.

So the Night happens, relatively uneventful; no one cheats on their girlfriend, no one does anything stupid, but some people are provided with a ride home, Facebook/cell phone numbers/emails, are exchanged, but no one gets hurt, right?

But on the way home, a real man deserves a poutine before going to bed. The girls go home first,but the men deserve fries with cheese and gravy; there is no more humane way to go to bed in Québec, period.

Problem is, I take it to go; and I watch TV when I get home. Tune into MusiquePlus, which should be the last cultural threshold we have before turning into monkeys. There is a Sam Roberts video, yes, sure; but nothing else worth mentioning, which is where the problematic issues arise. So... a half-decent rock video, and I'm-better-off-scratching-two-rocks-together-and-get-me-some-fire music.

It would (probably) be fine in and of itself; but when half the people you meet every day praise you for showing them unsigned bands worth checking out, when your own stuff seems light years beyond what is force-fed... your stomach gets some sort of a twitch. It would be vomit to most, but in 15 years of dealing with it on a nightly basis, you get used to it. It's the feeling that your City, your Culture, isn't doing half of what it should if the mainstream knew what was going on, even 10% of it.

Tonight, I could have had sex with 10 people; tonight, I could have started 15 bands - it's sad enough when the artist/fuckable female ratio is uneven, it's even worse when you trust that some of these people could bring something useful to the table.

In 2007, when I first took UnPop on my own, nearly half the bands had feminine content. Rock is at that level now anyway, whether you acknowledge it or not. It would be stupid and unfair to not acknowledge it, but some folks live in the past - and that's their choice.

Tonight especially, though, things stuck out. Girls are still waiting for that Grand Romantic Gesture. Why? You want s0mething - you take it. If it's not yours to take - you're told. No questions.

It's been a weird evening. I'm not sure whether that's because I've had more ''I want to play music with you'' offers (4, maybe 5) than ''I want you to come over and fuck me all night'' offers (3), but the math was off.

Either way - I got home by 4:30AM or so. Sam Roberts was playing on MusiquePlus. And the 0nly thing can got in my head was ''don't these guys have anything else they can play?'' Keep in mind, Sam Roberts is the most mainstream, conventionally-acclaimed singer-songwriter we have here, much more normal than Arcade Fire or Wolf Parade or Ghettonuns or AIDS Wolf. They don't play Beatles-like songs, but they don't seem like they're playing on broken instruments either; they're not inventing a style, but they're not playing to a crowd of 17 in-the-know fans either. Sam Roberts is the middle-ground for everything outsiders love about Montréal, but he's also the middle-ground for everything we can agree on.

Yet I couldn't help thinking everything else just sucked.

Maybe I was lucky; maybe Dead Messenger, Ghettonuns, Devil Eyes, Raw Madonna and the like are too raw for the mainstream. But then, how do you explain the success of Ideal Lovers, Coeur De Pirate and ElevenEighty?

I think programmers are just afraid of the Future, of what Montréal artists can bring to the table. And it hurts me inside, because I've seen that they can do it, that the empty space is theirs to take. On Bodies, Les Vestons, Allan Lenton, Elizabeth Bruce, Plunt, Nightwood... - I'm specifically talking about YOU. Time, money and energy is wasted on others. I really hope you don't get passed over like a passed-due carton of milk.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wash The Dirty: The Treacherous Journey From Employment To Unemployment, Volume 1 - Etiquettes To Firing Someone

How would you fire somebody? And when? There has to be some sort of etiquette if the person has given you all they had to give, no?

If it's a lazy-ass troublemaker, no question, you boot them out. Take them aside - or not; then tell them straight-up: you suck, it won't do, you've had enough chances, get the fuck out, thanks for your time.

But a good worker? Someone's who's done everything you've asked of them at all times, regardless of the variety of tasks, of the degrading nature of said tasks? Someone's who's been burning themselves out to the point of obvious health issues doing the work of three people at once in five grueling 9-hour shifts per week (and who would be underpaid in the market for the work of just one of those three people)?

Today I witnessed a firing that not only made no sense in and of itself, but that seemed a little harsh (to say the least), considering. I saw the most respected member of an office middle-management team, who had been under employment at said company for just about three years - that the company had in fact stolen from a competitor - get the boot 5 minutes before the end of their shift, in the middle of the week, with a shitload of work due the next day at various times between 9AM and 8PM.

''We're no longer going in the same direction'' is the only reason given to the rest of the management team, also grossly underpaid and overworked, some of whom cried. Apparently, they had subtly offered the worker a(nother) new position in previous weeks, a proposition that was declined. But when you've had 8 job titles in the past year or so and had responsibility over 3 different departments in that span, I can understand wanting to stick to one thing, especially if the offer isn't all that clear to begin with and sounds more like a vague possibility than an actual threat.

It seems like company policy to tell people 5 minutes before the end of their shift with a few working days left in the week. To not give them time to clean out their emails and voicemails, to make sure they don't forget their lucky pen, to say goodbye. It's happened quite a few times in, say, the last couple of years, but this one is a lot harder to take. And I say this while I've had actual friends that I had brought to the company myself get the same treatment.

I've played hockey long enough to see people get traded, cut from teams, replaced. Heck, I've been traded (and fired too!) myself. Sometimes it's because you no longer ''fit in the plans''. Other times your value may be so high that you're now worth the same as someone who fills other needs better than you fill your hole. Sometimes you just don't get along, or maybe they just want to ''change the culture of the dressing room''.

These things happen, they're rarely joyful, but there are ways to do them right. But this... This ranks just about as low on my Chart Of Shitty Ways To Leave A Job as when I was falsely accused of stealing bootleg CDs from a record store I used to work at just because the boss' daughter didn't like working with me - but I'll save that one for a later text.

In the meantime, I've lost the person I had seen the most of in recent years, even if only because we both spent a third of our time in the middle of the same four beige-and-burgundy walls, walking on the same dusty brown carpet, breathing the same moldy air conditionning, drinking the same half-filtered water, bossing around the same nine people, fixing the same computers over and over again, sharing a desk and germs, working for the same greedy bastards, each working our different specialized skills to solve different ends of the same problem.

It's always middle-management that gets the cut. The executives lose clients, lose money, ask for impossible things and get raises. Employees can find their niche between working just hard enough and wasting time on the internet. But middle-management types get fired and the remaining staff members get to see their workload increase. Or, in hockey terms, I guess: it's easier to fire the coach than 23 players, and the GM will go through a few coaches before the President loses patience, and the owner will let the President go through a few GMs before losing patience.

But this coach was an anchor to most, a buoy to the rest of us. The Scottie Pippen to my Michael Jordan. No, wait, the talent has to be reversed: the Peter Forsberg to my Joe Sakic. I have durability (7 years and counting in this place), I'm looking at a Hall of Fame career of sorts, but the work could only be done right with a perhaps more talented but injury-prone superstar who would do all the things I wouldn't, while I'd do what they weren't able to.

And I work better, in most spheres of life, when I have someone who completes me rather than someone I completely share interests with. I'm only a good team player with a reduced team, and I like to exchange ideas to get somewhere. I have no idea if that's what I'll be handed tomorrow. Anyone hiring?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2008-09 NHL Predictions

So it's this time of year again, where people put their feet in their mouths hoping to at least get a few predictions right for something that will only really happen between April and June of next year... so many things can happen: firings, trades, injuries - and most of them will. In the meantime, a so-called 'expert' has to try to be Nostradamus. And here I go...

First off, the conference final standings...

Eastern Conference:
1. New York Rangers
2. Montréal Canadiens
3. Washington Capitals
4. Philadelphia Flyers
5. Boston Bruins
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
7. Ottawa Senators
8. New Jersey Devils
9. Buffalo Sabres
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
11. Florida Panthers
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. New York Islanders
14. Toronto Maple Leafs
15. Atlanta Thrashers

Western Conference:
1. Detroit Red Wings
2. San Jose Sharks
3. Calgary Flames
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. Dallas Stars
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Chicago Black Hawks
8. Phoenix Coyotes
9. Vancouver Canucks
10. Minnesota Wild
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Colorado Avalanche
13. Nashville Predators
14. St-Louis Blues
15. Columbus Blue Jackets

Eastern Playoff Finalist: Montréal Canadiens
Western Playoff Finalist: Dallas Stars
Stanley Cup Champions: Montréal Canadiens

My reasoning is that, yes, the West is much stronger than the East, but they will be killing each other while the team from the East will have an easier ride and will get to the end in better shape, ultimately. Well, if the Habs meet the Stars, which would seem like fate, considering this year is the Habs' centennial and all the common ground between both organizations. But the Habs can't beat any other Western team in the Final; no one can, especially Detroit or San Jose.

Hart Trophy (MVP): Jarome Iginla
Art Ross (Leading Scorer): Joe Thornton
Rocket Richard (Goals Leaders): Alexander Ovechkin
Vezina (Best Goalie): Roberto Luongo
Norris (Best Defenseman): Nicklas Lidstrom
Frank Selke (Best Defensive Forward): Pavel Datsyuk
Jack Adams (Best Coach): Wayne Gretzky (runners up: Guy Carbonneau and Mike Babcock)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fucking Buses (Murphy's Law Part 2)

We've gotten used to missing City Transit's buses, having them not come on schedule - or not at all. So much so that those who complain are viewed as impatient cry-babies or annoying assholes.

Well, I missed one on Saturday night, but I can't blame the STM (the transit 'company'/monopoly) for it. It's more a matter of circumstance, another fine example of Murphy's Law fucking with people's brains.

I was at a friend's house, visiting him for his birthday, in a pretty ghetto part of town that's a bus ride away from a subway station, having a good time, drinking some fine Cuban rum, and actually comparing between two kinds of Havana Club brown rums (5 and 7 anos, respectively). Since he works rather early in the morning at his new job, the plan had always been for me to leave at a relatively early midnight-ish.

Over the course of the evening, plans had developped with a couple of other friends, to meet them at their favourite bar, Le Passeport, smack-dab in the middle of downtown. If I can catch a bus that takes me at the subway station before its closing time (close to 1AM - what kind of self-respecting city doesn't have a 24-hour underground subway service, anyway?), all would be fine. It never happens, I always miss it, but technically, some day, it could.

So we looked at the bus schedules. One bus at 11:55PM, one at 12:27AM, one at 12:51AM. It was 12:15AM. Had we not been in Montreal, I would have done everything in my power to run the 5-minute distance to the bus stop and caught it. But in this city, with the STM's record of punctuality, a 10-minute buffer is nowhere near enough. The bus can be over 5 minutes early, over 5 minutes late, or just decide to not show. We decided it would be safer for me to wait 20 minutes so I could have a realistic shot at the 12:51AM bus, which would lead me to an area of downtown where I'd be a 20-30 minute walk from my destination, or perhaps I'd be lucky enough to have a night bus (what we have to replace the subways at night, which often only come every hour and stop running at 4:30AM) come and take me there.

So I get to the bus stop. There was no way in Hell this was going to be easy. There's a sign that reads ''because of the public works and street repairing, the service at this stop has been moved to the corner of Légaré street''. With no other signalisation, no maps, nothing. I'm not from the area, I have no clue where to go.

So I do the wise thing: stay on the 'main' street, Côte-Des-Neiges, and walk towards where I'm going until I reach either Légaré, or the bus comes back on its route because the repairs zone is done. Cross Plamondon, cross Carlton. Realise Légaré is probably parallel to Côte-Des-Neiges, so I look towards the West for a street big enough to have a bus re-routed there, but the only street worth a light is at least four blocks away. I decide to stay on my path, because four blocks is enough to have the bus zip right past me when I get there, and there is still a chance repairs will end soon and I'll be back on the bus' path. Plus, being on a main street, I can also catch a cab.

It's cold and getting colder. I hail a cab, and tell him to head downtown. Two blocks South, we cross the bus, turning back onto Côte-Des-Neiges. It's already cost me $5 to get into this cab, so I figure ''fuck it'' and stay in it, and head where I'm going directly.

I would never have caught up with the bus on time by walking. But Murphy's Law made it so that by taking the cab, I met up with it. And it's happened so many times with city buses that it feels normal.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave is a difficult beast to explain to the profane. He has switched his song topics enough to not really be classified as one specific type of writer. My favourite record of his is Murder Ballads, which consists of, of course, songs about murders. He's mostly into a darker style of songwriting, I'll start there.

On his slower, more orchestral songs, he can be like Hell's equivalent of Tito Puente's Big Band, with dark topics, with some references to the underworld, crime, satanism, things that crawl into dark places in the night. His harder songs are like if Bruce Springsteen's band had balls. And then there are the soft songs, which sound like a Burt Bacharach character is about to kill a zombie. His baritone could scare Depeche Mode back to the gay bars of London.

Then you see him live. They're all wearing suits. Not matching suits, they're not attending a wedding, just nice suits. To show they care. To make us think they're the Mob. Or undertakers. They make nice suits look grim. They all have long hair, albeit receding and with patches of baldness, but at their age, nothing could be more normal. Except they don't really look normal, either.

The show started off softly, with Hold On to Yourself. But then the show kicked in with a harder track and off we went. Highlights were, of course, Red Right Hand, Weeping Song and Stagger Lee. A (more) complete account of the evening's proceedings can be found here. I would have taken another song from Murder Ballads, at least, maybe The Curse of Millhaven or O'Malley's Bar, and thought after the first encore that, at 16 songs in total, it was a short one. He'd usually do 20 on this tour; other bands I like (step right up, Pearl Jam) often go to 25, sometimes even 30. But the Cave-man had a second encore in store for us, a long while after the first one had ended. An actual encore, where the artists has to come back because the crowd just won't leave. A good night indeed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tell-Tale Signs Of Shitty Days To Come

Get to a street that's usually crowded, but it's not. Understandable, 7AM is no time to exist. If anything, early-birds should wake up at this time, or die. Which is the point, isn't it? Because on this Monday morning, on Sainte-Catherine street, a bird commits suicide. Falls right off a tree branch, falls neck first on the asphalt and stops moving. Forever. Right across the street from me, becomes car fodder.

Chances are it was a natural death, and it just fell. Or that it had broken wings and couldn't escape its fate. But it could also be that it couldn't bear to live in this place. Not like this. Not in this day and age. A bird like Hunter S. Thompson, like Elliott Smith. Man we're fucked if it's come to this.

And it does, indeed seem like it's the case, when one of the busiest patches of circulation cement is so desolate, the sky is so grey, the world's economy is on the brink of collapsing, wars are raging, Elections are happening and seemingly complementary with possibilities of hostile Conservatism takeovers... I could understand why a bird wouldn't want to live here anymore.

Sure, there are pieces of paradise in the Caribbean, but can't the birds sense danger looming? Perhaps the prettiest islands on earth are also doomed.

And some species are more apt at survival. Rats, locusts, roaches, vermin. Birds can fly away, but if you take away their desire to fly, break their wings by breaking their minds, their spirit - they will be left with nothing. Just like us. We mostly seem to be able to take it, some of us barely, a few can't at all. It's a wonder why we do, though. We are fully aware that there are too many of us in this world, not only for comfort, but also for the planet's ressources and balance. And billions of us go on with misery, unhappiness, useless stress, obeying corporate or actual masters for no good reason at all. You've got to know Keith Richards knew what he was doing when he fell out of that tree a few years ago. He knew. He had decided. He missed. And The Beast took him back in, told him he had better not do it again, and off he went Rolling Stoning again with his buddies, ridding the world of half of its drug-and-alcohol content selflessly, as a one-man sniffing task force.

But birds, eh? Way to start the day. One has to end for another one to start? Good thing I ever hardly sleep, I'm doing more than my part. But as the sun was coming up this morning on a grey artery that barely keeps the city's blood alive, the light seemed terribly dark.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beer And Unloading In Varadero, Cuba (or How I Learned To Start Running And Drop A Liquid Bomb)

It was an awful hour of the morning in Varadero, say 6AM, with no sleep and sun sneaking through the lead-like blinds.

Nothing else to do but start a new day anyway. Two glasses of orange juice and bacon, then time for rum and coke and the ocean.

Your body does weird things when you don't sleep. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you haven't lived - and you might want to try it before you keep reading. The metabolism goes much faster. I'm already on a 2-shit-a-day diet here, but sleepless it can go up to 5, I'm sure.

And the beach is far enough from the room, 5 minutes sober, maybe 15 otherwise - it's gonna be a bitch trying to keep this pudding from pouring down my leg.

I grab a book for when I get there, a strawberry-vodka for the road - and start walking. For subtlety's sake, I smile at passers-by. The 25 stairs between the ground level and the rooms are like a dream, over in a half second. The yardage to the door is me at the Super Bowl, going for a touchdown with no one in front of me. The easiest 6 points of my career. The key's in the lock socket before my hand is even out of my pocket. The door opens and I'm but one jump from my destination. I get naked 'cause I know what's coming next. As soon as my knees bend, the shit hits the fan. Best two minutes of my life.

Wipe off, get up. I need another goddamn drink.

Back From Vacation

1 week in Cuba. Best week of my year, despite catching a nasty cold on the very last day.

And how the heck do you catch a cold in 34 degrees Celcius (100 Fahrenheit)?

But that's a question that shall remain unanswered because, quite frankly... who cares?

It was nice to get a break from the Elections, both Canadian and American.

I wrote things out there though. They'll make it here soon enough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What It Feels Like To Drink Stella Artois

Since my last trip to NYC a couple of years ago, where it was very hard to drink decent beer and I had tons of overexpensive Stella Artois instead, it's been my default beer of choice.

Even when I came back to Montréal, I'd start preferring it to Heineken and Kilkenny and Molson Ex at the dep (convenience store to the international crowd).

And today, completing an online survey, I was asked to describe the very first time I had it. Well: the fuck if I know. I can't remember. So here's my answer:

it must have been summer, on a terrace with many plants and smallish trees, surrounded by dozens of nubile young women who served me melted Toblerone chocolate; it was decadent and superb, worthy of remembrance and a day whose grace I strive to attain/maintain ever since
There's a 50-50 chance that it isn't exactly the way I claim to remember it, but now that I crave a bottle, I'm pretty sure that's how it would taste to me. Good thing I have Toblerone at home, and deps aren't closed yet.

Murphy's Law

I've become quite an expert in Murphy's Law. I think I may even be the defense lawyer in its courtroom on most days. Its rules shower on my head, first thing in the morning and keep at it until the next morning, when I'm finally exhausted enough to sleep.

This weekend has been no different.

Those who know me are aware that sleep, although an activity I very much enjoy, is not something I do as often as most people. Not just in length - in frequency as well. Most weeks include at least 2 sleepless nights, oftentimes three. If I don't have three, then I'm likely to sleep no more than 5 hours a night for the rest of the week. I'm a busy guy, but also one who needs to be entertained in between the activities I'm doing.

In that vein, it is now Monday, September 15th, at 5:35AM for most humans in my timezone. To me, it's past my bedtime, Friday night. You can call it a busy weekend, I didn't have enough time to see it pass by properly.

You see, Friday was my boss' last day at the office; he's moving onto bigger and better things - better paying, surely. But we all appreciate him enough, so we went out for a celebratory/goodbye drink. It was a very good evening. Heading home,though, I had friends I hadn't seen enough of lately who decided they needed taking care of, so I rightfully did. Then they headed home and went to bed, I presume, but I was still awake, so I spent the rest of the night online, catching up on news events, reading sports analysis, listening to music, playing Scrabble on Facebook... the usual.

Saturday came along, and my friends decided it was perfect to set me up for a SECOND surprise birthday party in the span of two weeks. We went out to dinner, 30 or so of us, then went to a club, everybody went home. So did I.

But by the time I got home, we were Sunday, September 14th. It actually was my birthday. My 30th. I had long planned to make it a special day, so I relaxed, surfed the web a bit, read up on David Foster Wallace's suicide, played some GTA4, then went on to my planned activity: having two friends over for some afternoon birthday champagne.

Thing is, I learned Friday that despite my boss leaving his position and thus having more work to do in the upcoming week, I also had a deadline for work that was to be handed in on Monday, before (or at... I tend to be late) 8AM. 10 hours' worth of work. So what's a guy to do? Fuck sleep, when my friends left, I headed to work. I'll soon be done, ahead of time for once. But I have to come back in at 3PM, for a shift that ends at 10.

The point of this is, this has been just one very long day for me. Lots of things happened, many people are pleased with it - as am I - but it was just my luck, wasn't it: a reason to celebrate in a grand way, people to celebrate with that I really wanted to see - but a deadline looming just above my head.

Just like I haven't had more than 5 days straight off work in the 7-plus years I've been here, and my family offered me a trip to Cuba, 1 week, all expenses paid, four-and-a-half-star hotel, starting this Friday, for my 30th. And it looks like it'll rain all week.

Every day I go to court challenging Murphy's Law, and I haven't even met the judge yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tennis: US Open 2008

So... many observers thought Roger Federer was over and done with, that he could no longer compete at the elite level he was at... 6 months ago. After 5 years of total domination, talent doesn't just go away.

And had nobody watched the Olympics, where he won in doubles and said he felt ''revivified''? That should have been a sign.

And who the Hell has a bad year in which he ends up second in the world in two major events (Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, in arguable the best tennis match in history), and among the semi-finalists in the other major event (Australia)?

The ATP lists over 1500 players... which means at least 1498 players would have dreamed of having a 'bad' year like his!

Anyhow, the King is back. Long live the King?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gearing Up For The Centennial

Nice post here from The H Doesn't NOT Stand For Habs on the Bob Gainey-Mats Sundin meeting last weekend.

Many have called Sundin the Habs' ''missing piece of the puzzle'' in their quest to bring the Stanley Cup home for the team's centennial, and he would be of great help, although they already have an impressive team if it can come near what it did last year during the season.

But one must not forget nothing is guaranteed. There would be ample examples in the league's 85-year-plus history, but one need look no further than the 2003-04 season, when the Colorado Avalanche added Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne to a roster that already included Joe Sakic, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, J-M Lilles, Adam Foote, Derek Morris, the best grind line in the league and, of course, David Aebischer to replace the incomparable Patrick Roy in nets. With its last line of defense (Roy) just retired - and a slew of injuries - the Avs failed to perform come playoff time and the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup against the Calgary Flames in a grueling 7-game series.

There's no doubt Sundin would help tons. Especially if injuries were to happen, the added depth would be the difference between fighting for top spot and fighting for a playoff spot.

But the biggest (only?) question mark remains 'blue chip prospect' Carey Price in nets. How will he bounce back from his meltdown against Philadelphia in last year's playoffs? Have other teams found his weakness - going top shelf? Can he perform well during the whole year and not be burnt out by playoff time?

If he was burnt out during the few final games of the playoffs, he should have let his more than capable backup Jaroslav Halak take the driver's seat for a few games. Instead, the fans and most general managers will forever be plagued with doubts - will he be a cold-blooded killer like he was as a teen prodigy (World Juniors and AHL), or the teary-eyed motionless target practice piece of plywood wearing #31 of last Spring?

Had he taken a backseat for a few games to relax, get his mind working again and get back into it when he's ready, it would have been the other way around - he would have been the great teammate (instead of the selfish teenager), and even if he'd failed later on in his career, the fact that he'd have succeeded that one time when he came back would have given him multiple free passes - like Cam Ward in Carolina, who hasn't done much since that Cup-winning run that gave him an undeserved Conn Smythe trophy.