Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 279: Ernest And Bertram

http://www.theblaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/new-yorker-cover-bert-ernie-gay-marriage-580.jpg

This is Pride Week in Toronto, kicking off what will be a ton of similar festivities for the LGBT community across the country.

But while Gay marriage has been an accepted practice in Canada for over a decade, it’s still a divisive topic in other parts of the world. And in some places, just being Gay can still get you executed, or have the authorities turn a blind eye while somebody offended by your sexuality brutalizes or ends your life.

I came into show business through the theatre, exposed to many men and women who didn’t share my sexual preference. And although I sometimes got annoyed at being hit on (or getting turned down by a hot actress who liked women as much as I did) –- I never really thought their lifestyle was that big an issue.

In addition to fellow thespians, I had agents and lawyers who were Gay. I worked for Gay directors and Gay producers. More than once, I played Gay and Bi-Sexual characters onstage.

But while I didn’t feel threatened or disgusted, it was clear others did. I spent a lot of time in New York in the early 70’s, where the battle lines were clearly drawn and the collision of the cultures was often frightening.

One night, during Fleet Week, when Manhattan was awash in American sailors in their crisp, white uniforms, my girlfriend and I found ourselves at a stop light with a particularly spirited young man in tights and a tutu and a wand with a star on the end, offering to sprinkle passers-by with “fairy dust”.

As we smiled, two huge sailors stopped to wait for the light to change as well. One of them glared at the young man and growled to his friend, “They should round up all these fucken queers and drop ‘em on an island”.

Without missing a beat, the young man waved his wand in their direction. “They have!” he squealed, “You’re on it!”.

Not long after, I wrote my first produced screenplay. The character of the male second lead was openly Gay, played by an openly Gay actor without any of the clich├ęs or affectations typical of onscreen Gay characters of the time.

A lot of people thought that was ground-breaking. The director and I just thought it was realistic.

The parades in Toronto and elsewhere this Summer might make you think that people in the LGBT community have finally won all their battles and arrived. But they haven’t.

This week alone, we saw some progress for them in the US Supreme Court. But not as much as had been expected.

Meanwhile, actor Alec Baldwin went on a homophobic Twitter rant for which few in the media seem to feel he should be condemned.

And in Washington, Congressmen asking why IRS employees who regularly included Gay slurs in their official communications still had government jobs were rebuffed by the powers that be.

On top of that, the New Yorker cover atop this post is considered “scandalous” by many and the video which follows was vigorously attacked by “Sesame Street” producers, the Children’s Television Workshop, in 2002 and has remained banned all over the place.

As long as people can’t openly be with who they love, the world just isn’t a better place.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We Got Us A Winner!!!

With two minutes to go, I think we were all thinking we’d be back in front of the big screen LG come Wednesday. And then –- one of the most unbelievable championship finishes in the history of sports.

Congratulations to Chicago! Boston, you’ve got nothing to feel bad about. Thanks to you both for reminding us all of how spectacular the hockey experience can be.

But the real big news from last night is that Will Zmak has won the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool in a dominating finish. Really, since the beginning of the finals, it has been clear who among us had been blessed by the hockey Gods this year.

This was the scene at Casa Zmak last night as Will realized he’d finally won it all.

Second place goes to perennial “Props” winner David Kinahan with Eric Anderson nosing out the final place on the podium.

Over in the PROPS division, Allan Eastman comes out on top and has me wondering how some guy on a Balkan beach who can’t even see the games knows so much about what’s going on.

He’s really back in Winnipeg, isn’t he?

I'll be in touch with all the winners over the next couple of days and Will’s address will be passed on to all poolies, so the booty of their choosing can be delivered to him.

The Legion will take care of rewarding our 2nd and 3rd Place finishers and the Props winner.

And then the shortened, but no less satisfying 2013 Season will be a wrap.

I hope you all had fun and the Pool added a little something to your enjoyment of what's already the best Championship series in professional sport.

And for those hungry to redeem themselves, the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool will be back for an Eighth Season next April.

Have a great Summer. Training camps open in about a month…

THE FINAL STANDINGS:

25-06-2013 4-30-51 PM

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pool Report: The Penultimate

Game 6 Could Come Down To The Skating Wounded

Well, it either ends tonight or Wednesday (and I’m still hoping for the latter). And thus we have arrived at the final Pool Report for this season. The next time the topic at the Legion is hockey, it will be to crown our new champions.

And while some may bemoan the lack of lead changes over the last month, I think we also need to acknowledge the puck acumen of those who now top the pool.

Meanwhile, the rest of us resemble the walking wounded who now populate both sides in this epic Chicago/Boston battle. It’s been a rough final for all involved and anybody confident in one team dominating hasn’t been paying close attention.

This could still go either way and wouldn’t a double overtime in Game Seven just top it off perfectly.

Back when we’ve got a winner. Here are the standings on this final Monday.

24-06-2013 4-03-14 PM

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 278: The Little People

http://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/news/canada/2013/05/31/why_stephen_harper_should_appoint_mike_duffy_to_cabinet_walkom/senator_mike_duffy.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox.jpg

Whenever elected members of any level of government vote themselves or those in government employ a raise, the argument is invariably made that such an increase is necessary in order to attract the best and brightest to public service.

For it seems, we, the little people, need the governance and guidance of those far more intelligent and of much stronger character than we possess and the only way to encourage such people to care for us is to open the public purse a little wider.

My response to this has always been, “Why hasn’t that worked so far?”.

I just completed a cross Canada tour and one thing that struck me from one end of the country to the other was just how bereft of class, character and accountability are so many who purport to lead us.

Virtually every Mayor and public official in Quebec seems to be either under arrest or under investigation for being on the take.

In Ontario, government minions insist it was okay to delete all record of cabinet decisions that have cost the province hundreds of millions of dollars while saving political careers.

We have three Conservative Senators with six figure salaries and almost as much more available in public perks up to their necks in financial scandals.

There are NDP Members of Parliament, always eager to bump up our taxes, who apparently haven’t bothered paying their own.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Liberal party hop-scotches the nation charging a five figure fee to speak to charities, his way of further assisting we, the little people, in helping our fellow citizens, I guess.

No matter which party you might vote for, there doesn’t seem to be a one that has actually found the kind of high-minded public servants we’ve been told it takes good money to capture.

And that rot apparently has become ingrained in the career bureaucrats who implement the laws passed to care for the little people who pay for it all, while their own perks, indexed pensions and the aggrandizement of their positions continually increase.

In Canada, we seem to have an epidemic of civil servants booking off sick when they’re not. And South of the border, it appears Americans have tax collectors who need to know what books you read and the content of your prayers before determining how much you might owe them.

It is, to come to the point, a massive and tragic failure of character by all concerned. An entire governing class proven incapable of honesty or accountability. A revelation finally verbalized a week ago by a frustrated to the point of tears American Congressman involved in the IRS investigation.

It’s a speech that makes you finally realize who “the little people” in our society really are. And why there will never be enough money to make them do what’s expected of them.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pool Report: Hoping For Seven

It’s not that I’m trying to drag this thing out. I’m just luxuriating in perhaps the best hockey we’ve seen all season and don’t want either Boston or Chicago taking home the Cup in six.

There’s something to be said for a shortened season after all, since it's given us two teams at peak mid-season form at a point in the calendar when the natural attrition of a brutal schedule has usually taken its toll.

I think I’m also hoping to avoid dealing with the off-ice deals that are setting us up for the 2013-14 tilt. I was in Toronto last week, finding the local papers full of all the big names that could be snagged for Leafs who simply haven’t turned out to be the Messiahs they were touted to be on arrival.

Gawd, it never ends in that town, does it? Somebody back there needs to understand that the “buy low, sell high” wisdom of Bay Street does not translate to hockey. Stick with what you’ve built guys. Believe it or not, it’s actually working.

Meanwhile, Vancouver is trying to come to terms with the possibility that John Tortorella may be the new coach. If that’s confusing for those in Lotus land, imagine being Torts, moving from a town that never sleeps to one that never wakes up.

If I may make a prediction, Canuck Fans –- next June that riot you’ve got scheduled might actually turn into a celebration.

But enough about the future. Back here in the present, Will Zmak appears to have become an unstoppable juggernaut in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool.

2nd and 3rd places look like locks as well. But depending on what transpires this weekend, that could still change.

Game on, for the final weekend of the season and the Pool. Next week we crown some winners!

21-06-2013 6-22-42 PM

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pool Report: Words Fail

http://www.hhof.com/graphspot/one_fhewitt02.jpg

The original voice of “Hockey Night in Canada”, Foster Hewitt, is credited with coining the phrase, “He shoots. He scores!”.

I think play must’ve gotten faster since Foster’s day because now about all the game callers seem to have time to spit out is “Shoots. Scores.” Unless it’s Bob Cole, in which case the call is usually, “Is that in? I think so”.

But like writers, hockey announcers are always looking for new ways to describe repetitive action. And that’s been no more obviously on display than during the first two overtime games of the Stanley Cup Finals, where pucks have been “forked”, “paddled”, “wanded”, “banged” and “squibbed”.

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy website has been so impressed by the rapidly expanding hockey thesaurus to publish a bingo card for NBC sportscaster Mike Emerick.

Meanwhile, in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool, the vocabulary remains the same. No new names at the top of the Poolie heap -– and unless the scoring in this final tilt picks up, the likelihood is that this will be the order of finish.

More Friday…

17-06-2013 1-06-25 PM

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 277: Frankie

There are no perfect fathers.

But all fathers love as perfectly as they can.

Have a Happy Fathers Day. And…

…Enjoy Your Sunday.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pool Report: We’ve Arrived

Chicago's Win: 112 Minutes, Two Empty Bruins, And One Pinball Wizard

For about as long as I can remember, the mantra has been “Americans just don’t like hockey”. What’s more, barely a Canadian TV sports panel goes by without mentioning the mistaken placement of NHL teams in “non-hockey markets”.

Apparently, that’s an argument of the past.

For it seems -- We’ve arrived.

Wednesday night’s Game One of the Stanley Cup Final drew a 4.8 overnight rating (6.42 Million viewers) for NBC, up 100% from last year’s LA/New Jersey series opener.

What’s more, well over half of those watching the game fell into the extremely desirable 18-49 demographic.

Chicago might’ve won triple overtime. But hockey won the night for NBC, delivering 28% of the total viewership in Boston and 25% in Chicago, two of the country’s major markets.

As the past half dozen Olympics have proven, our game has gone worldwide. And now, the toughest TV audience in the world, the one with the most viewing alternatives, has begun to embrace us.

Although you might feel this will hurt the chances of Quebec City, Saskatoon or Southern Ontario getting another team, it is still a very good thing.

Even the most die-hard Boston supporter has to admit that Wednesday night’s game was a classic. And classic games build loyal audiences.

How rabid are some Americans for the Canadian game? Well, diehard Bruins fans,The Dropkick Murphys, refused to start their concert Wednesday night until the game was over. When it went into overtime, they stayed offstage and had the venue play it on the band’s projection screens.

Meanwhile in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton all used their speeches at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting to voice their support for the Blackhawks.

Bill especially likes the Chicago ice girls…

In other news – a quick reminder that you have until Saturday night to enter the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool Props Contest. Less actual hockey knowledge required. Same great prizes. Just ask David Kinahan, who’s won it more than once.

Details here.

As for the big dog…

Will Zmak holds his lead with the aforementioned Mr. Kinahan and Eric Anderson still within striking distance and a couple of other dark horses rising through the ranks.

More on Monday.

13-06-2013 11-14-08 PM

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pool Report: The Props Are Due

THE PROPS CONTEST

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a little history.

Betting on sports has been around as long as there have been guys who needed to pump up their self-esteem by proving they were right about something.

And for centuries money changed hands based on who won or lost a contest.

Then Las Vegas and the Super Bowl were invented. Pretty soon the smart guys who ran the Casinos realized that while you could make millions on who won a football game, you could make Billions with side wagers.

So Proposition Betting was created to give us sports degenerates an opportunity to blow our money on outcomes nobody in their right mind can confidently predict.

wayne gambles

You might be wagering on the coin toss (Janet Gretzky's favorite -- seen here at Caesar's Palace with absolutely non-betting husband and Hockey Great One Wayne) or if a touchdown is made by a player whose jersey number is over 30.

Props are also not one bet options. You need to pick at least a half dozen. The odds of collecting on your bet are infinitesimal. But then, you can't put a price on a good time, can you?

So here's how the "Infamous Writers Pool Hockey Props"  works…

There are six bets. All are related to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Some require sports knowledge. Some only require guts! The player with the most correct answers wins. And a special piece of Canadian Hockey memorabilia (currently treasured by Yours Truly) will be awarded to the winner.

Should there be a tie -- uh -- we'll figure that out if there's a tie.

But this contest will definitely not be decided until well after the final game!

Entry is open to all current pool players, everybody who’s been kicking themselves for not getting in on the original action and anybody who thought Pittsburgh had this thing sewn up when the season ended.

Entries must be sent to seraphic77@gmail.com anytime between now and the 8:00 pm Eastern faceoff for Game Two on Saturday June 15 in Chicago.

Like the rest of the pool this year, we’ve built in a delay to compensate for how fast the NHL is trying to get through this thing.

Your six Hockey Propositions are:

1. The 2013 Stanley Cup winner will be decided in:

     a) Four Games

     b) Five Games

     c) Six Games

     d) Seven Games

2. The total number of goals scored in the Final series will be:

    a) Less than 20

    b) 20 to 30

    c) More than 30

3. Chicago Goalie Corey Crawford enters the final round with a .935 Save Percentage. Boston’s Tukka Rask's average is .943. At the end of the final series, the Highest Goalie Save Percentage will belong to:

a) Crawford

b) Rask

c) Neither

4. "Hockey Night in Canada"  icon Don Cherry always confidently predicts the winner of each game prior to the opening faceoff. For the FOURTH game of the series, he will be:

a) Correct

b) Incorrect

For non-Canadian players -- CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" is streaming all games at http://www.cbc.ca/sports, usually in more languages than English.

Unless Bob Cole is calling the game, in which case your guess is as good as mine as to what he just said.

5. The Leading Scorer in the final series will be:

a) David Krejci (Boston)

b) Nathan Horton (Boston)

c) Patrick Sharp (Chicago)

d) Bryan Bickell (Chicago)

e) Other

6. The Captain of the winning team is the first player to hoist the Stanley Cup and skate a victory lap. The Cup is then passed to each member of his team. And it's usually passed to someone the player holding the Cup feels is especially deserving. The Goalie of the winning team will be:

a) One of the first six players to hoist the Cup

b) The Seventh to Twelfth player to hoist the Cup

c) One of the remaining players to hoist the Cup

Tough enough? C'mon, suck it up! How often do you get a chance like this?

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Pool Report: Crushed!

http://3.cdn.nhle.com/nhl/images/upload/2013/06/KingsHawks6-10-2013_SI_cover_large.jpg

In the end, it wasn’t even close.

A couple of overtime periods aside, Chicago pwned Los Angeles. And what can you say about Pittsburgh falling so hard to Boston…

Crosby

Malkin

Iginla

Neal

Letang

Not a single point against the Bruins from the whole bunch! Aren’t  you glad you stuck with scoring leaders when making your pool picks?

crosby toss

Well, they’ve all been moved over to the golf course now, so a couple of the storied “Original Six” teams can settle this thing.

And the standings in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool are about to undergo a major shakeup. Can Will Zmak hold on to what looked like an insurmountable lead? Or will Barry Kiefl, currently buried at 11th but with a full team of healthy Hawks, be able to close the distance?

Puck drops on Wednesday and tomorrow we add the Props Competition for those who want to take another shot at some Pool Glory. Entries will remain open until Saturday.

The Standings as we enter the final round…

09-06-2013 11-42-23 PM

Lazy Sunday # 276: Stronger Beer

I’ve been from one end of the country to the other this week, each day reminded more than once of what a special place I’m blessed to live in.

There were the natural moments, like walking out my motel room door one morning to come face to face with an entire herd of Elk, who seemed to all look up and make eye contact in unison and then, just as uniformly, returned to grazing.

But mostly, it’s been the people. We really are awful damn friendly. And what’s more, not a single conversation I had, either casual or serious, ever touched on the hot topics of the day on the news or in my social media streams.

No whining. No regurgitating the talking points. It seems most of us just have better things to do.

On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massascre, I had a beer one with a guy who’d been there and only wanted to talk about all the happiness he’d found in this country. On another, I shared a brew with a bunch of guys heading off to do the back-breaking work of fighting forest fires and joked about the dangers.

We’re not only friendly, we seem constantly imbued with a sense of joy.

Or maybe we’ve still got a bit of a buzz going from the drinks we shared the night before. Since, after all, we do have stronger beer.

I gotta hit the road. So have a cold one for me today. And –- Enjoy Your Sunday.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Pool Report: Say What?

How does Round Three threaten to end this quickly? Both East and West are one win away from declaring a winner barely a week after the conference championships started.

Somebody in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles needs to step up.

Penguins, let’s pin this up in the room…

Bruins-Penguins Hate History

Kings, you got this…

I don’t know. Maybe we’re looking at the first”Original Six” Stanley Cup final in years?

And perhaps a major change in the standings in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool…

07-06-2013 9-03-43 AM

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Speaking Truth To Power

Since the following video of testimony in the current American IRS investigation has gone virtually un-broadcast on Canadian TV and most American media as well, I thought I’d offer it here.

You do not have to share this woman’s politics or world view to understand her feelings. This is how most of us feel when we’re put in the position of having to confront government or the massive bureaucracies (both public and private) that intersect much of our lives.

But unless we are willing to confront those powers, to have this woman’s passion and courage, their strength and their capability to determine our futures grows unchecked.

Suck it up, kids! Being quiet changes nothing for the better.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Pool Report: And The Hits…

…just keep on…

…coming!

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

And a couple of up-to-now “hot” goalies in Pittsburgh and LA still feel like they got hit by a bus this morning.

Series in the East and West turned suddenly nasty this weekend. And I got a feeling they’re both gonna get meaner. When you have four teams that have all won the Cup in the last four years, you’re dealing with a lot of guys who remember how good winning felt and want that feeling back in their lives.

Same thing goes for the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool. David Kinahan, multiple winner of the Props contest is nipping at leader Wil Zmak’s heels, while past champ Barry Keifl is burning up the charts on the strength of Chicago’s scoring power.

I’m in transit today, so this has gotta be quick, unless I want to be one of those guys who writes in a Starbucks. But there should be a lot to report when we get back to this on Friday.

The standings as of this morning.

03-06-2013 2-37-54 AM

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 275: Gratitude

I’m in the middle of nowhere on a boat, looking up at a star filled sky. There are no words to describe a moment like this –- beyond…

Gratitude.

Enjoy Your Sunday.