Monday, June 30, 2008

Down by the Bay

So in a very short period, about two and a half weeks, the Tampa Bay Lightning have gone from the worst team in the NHL to a team that probably has the most interest going into the next season.

They of course drafted Steven Stamkos first overall, and are expecting him to be an impact player in the NHL as a rookie, and then they locked up Vinny Lecavalier for about 7 years. I would have thought that they would be strapped for cash, but apparently, they can offer guys like Ryan Malone to a big deal that was worth over $4 million per season, they start acquiring the rights to other players, too.

Now, if I understand correctly, Malone made in no ways unclear that he was interested in testing the free agent market, trying to get paid big money - but Tampa convinced him to do otherwise. What was part of their plan that had him so interested? Well, they paid him really well, BUT they must have convinced him they were up to something special.

Now, they're in negotiations with Gary Roberts and Brian Rolston (who are gritty players - the latter a bit more of an impact player than the former). The question is, whether or not the acquisition of Mike Smith is enough to shore them up in net or not. They will have a set of formidable forwards and an anchor on defense with Dan Boyle, the question mark remains, as it has since they lost Khabibulin, will they get what they need from their goaltending.

Octagon Global Recruiting

The new Lost ARG appears to be setting up to be quite interesting. I'm not sure what Lost's relationship with Comic Con is, but they appear to be quite interested in revealing all their finest plans over that weekend in August. Last year's Comic Con had a fantastic Q&A session, as well as a new promotional video.

This time around, the rumour has it, that actors will be representing Octagon Global Recruiting, and giving tests to potential recruits. Basically, it's a hiring station, or a job fair, where Dharma is looking to recruit more people. No doubt, this could certainly give us more insight into the lives of Kelvin Inman and Mikhail. We were to believe, in season three, that everything Mikhail told us was true, just that he wasn't the last remaining member of the Dharma Initiative.

I think one of the most disappointing aspects of season four, for me, was that after learning so much about the others and the DI, that the writers left all of that stuff behind, and resorted to telling a totally different story instead. Sure, we got a new station, and saw some crafty things that Ben had done with his house (in terms of hidden passageways, etc.) but we didn't get any cool flashbacks to Ben's childhood, we didn't learn more about Olivia and Horace Goodspeed, we didn't see others like Juliet being recruited to the island, and we didn't see the island bring people to her intentionally, like Anthony Cooper. Those things really weren't a part of the new season - just guns jamming on people who were trying to shoot Michael.

The really neat part about Comic Con, to get back on track, is that this year will be much more like at the end of season two, where Rachel Blake appeared and confronted the producers about what she'd learned about the Hanso Foundation. This will have a similar confrontation between the DI and some other group.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Russia challenging the NHL

Well, today starts off with someone named Wade Dublielewicz, who was made a pretty good deal from Russia. Turns out AK Kazan from the Russian Continental League decided to pay him a good deal of money to play for them.

This is the signing I've heard of, but not the first mention, of teams in the Russian league sniping players out of the NHL. The biggest name mentioned so far is Jaromir Jagr, which was just a rumoured contract offer, yet one he hasn't reportedly made yet. Another big name would be Evgeni Malkin, who was reportedly offered a contract as well.

Apparently in mid-2007, Alexei Yashin hopped the Atlantic to play over there, too. Difference with him is, nobody wanted him to play another game for them in the NHL, so he would have been lucky to be getting offers to play. But for the Russians to be attempting to lure significant NHL players to the RCL is an important step in their growth.

In the history of the NHL, they have simply purchased competing leagues so that they could ensure that they had the best hockey product with the best hockey players - I'd be shocked if that was the avenue taken this time. But the best league to play in will have the best players, and that usually means, the league that can pay the most. Will the RCL be able to put a dozen $10 million players on a team? I would doubt it.

Perhaps I'll look more into the RCL one of these days and offer a better report on what their up to. Granted, I don't even recognize their alphabet, let alone understand the language, but someone has got to have information on the league somewhere.

The New York Times made this report earlier in February. Basically it says that Russia is luring the NHL stars - although their example of luring big stars remains Yashin, who couldn't get a contract from any team in North America (NHL, IHL, AHL, etc) and so went to Russia. The other example is Dublielewicz, a back-up goalie who couldn't sign for more than $500,000 / season. Are these the types of 'stars' that the RCL is 'luring'? They've got some work ahead of them before they can boast that they've got the best players in the world.

BUT snagging Malkin and Jagr could really be important maneuvers to that accreditation. While Jagr would be more a symbolic signing (because he's among the best European-born players ever) Malkin would be a more contemporary example of a genuine Hart Trophy candidate (MVP of the league-type player) who elected to stick in Russia.

Major elite player Pavel Datsyuk was a Restricted Free Agent when the lockout hit the NHL and he played (and signed some contracts) with the RCL - who offered him a lot of money to stay in Russia. I thought I heard reports that the contracts weren't really offered, and he had just bated the Red Wings into signing him with some big bucks. Regardless, he didn't have to strong-arm them into the 7-year contract they wound up paying him two seasons ago. He's a wealthy man ... but really, really ugly.

Sundin signing? Two more days

Well, Tuesday marks the beginning of the Unrestricted free agency, and that means that whatever offer the Maple Leafs gave to Montreal for the rights to Sundin will expire. So the Sundin watch is down to two more days. You think he's going to sign something in that period? If he hasn't done it by now, would he be feeling the pressure to sign for any particular reason?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

If you had a friend named Jack, and he couldn't get off a horse ...

It's time to get Jack off of the horse, and me back on it. I've got about three unfinished writing projects on the go - substantial ones that need significant amounts of work done on them - and I'd like to take this 'long' weekend to tackle them a bit more.

First off, there's my novel: 'Untitled!' that I cranked out back in November. The second part is about four chapters in, and is scheduled to be about seven more - but I haven't even looked at it in a long while, and will likely have to read the entire first part before I can get back in the swing of things with this.

Second, Jay Nassr and his production company, Twenty One Three Productions 'hired' me to write a few scripts for a show he was intending on producing, but then shortly afterwards scrapped - at least, he told me he scrapped it - he could be secretly doing it behind my back without my involvement. Any ways, the script was coming along nicely, and it would be nice to finish it up and say that I've got a script written to my credits.

Third, my 'Choose your own adventure' book remains about 10 pages in the formative stages. If I crank out 10 pages on each of those projects this weekend, I will have to give myself at pat on the back - BUT I'd have to do it.

Judging by the weather right now - coming down harder than Niagara Falls - I will have nothing but time to work on these projects, as well.

I never meant to be so bad to you,
One thing I said I would never do ...

I'd like to comment on Darcy Tucker's comments in an 'exclusive' interview with Nick Kypreos from SportsNet. Good on Kyper to stay on topic and not waste too much time talking golf with Tucker.

Tucker says he's sad to leave Toronto, and I sincerely believe him. He also seems optimistic being a UFA for the first time in his career - although I'm not certain he'll be paid more than $3 mill per season. Who knows, though. Kypreos also asked about Ron Wilson's comments about Tucker being run-down, which Tucker took well - he chalked last season up to being injured, not worn down.

The part that got under my skin a little bit was this:

"K: Knowing that I've got a few dollars coming my way the next six years from the Toronto Maple Leafs, I'd be thinking about retirement.

T: I'm just going to take it year by year.

K: Would you sign a multi-year deal?

T: At this point, no. I learned from a good guy that I played a great number of years with, Mats Sundin [seriously, he's name dropping?], that I'm not going to put the org. that I go to in the position where they think they have to give me a multi-year deal and it gives me the leeway to do what I want to do at the end of the year."

Like Tucker is in the same ilk as Sundin, where GMs around the league are going to let him do whatever he wants at the end of each season. First off, Sundin can get away with that sort of thing because he's the Maple Leafs' all-time leading scorer and long-time captain - not some yippy punk nick-named Side Show Bob. Players like Sakic and Neidermayer can sign one-year contracts because they're awesome and have demonstrated loyalty to a franchise.

Tucker is a very different case - you can't get that kind of deal as a walk-on. At least, I don't think you can. I'll bet Tucker works out in some place like Atlanta, Nashville or Columbus, where the team is looking for some excitement - and Tucker will just become another Wade Belak that gets the fans out of their seat - and plays a bit on the power play. And you think retirement is going to look a whole lot better at that point? He's not long for this league, me thinks.

Why would anyone sign a guy that doesn't seem to care whether he plays again or not. You think he's going to go cheap, either? I mean, he could play for the league minimum, and still be making millions a year from the 'pension plan' he's got from the Maple Leafs. But I'll bet he and his agent are going to go out looking for 'market value.' Well, his points were down, his heart isn't in it, he can be difficult with the media, and he has trouble controlling his temper. What's the market value on that? Perhaps he could ask Alexei Yashin?

Tucker appears to have no loyalties and no attachments ... which is fine, but ... just his statements seem to be absent of any passion to play. It seems very much like Toronto has broken his heart.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Science for the birds

One of the things that I generally dislike is scientific papers that are reported on in newspaper, not becaue the stuff is boring, but it always seems that the reporter has absolutely no idea what they're reporting on, and they report exclusively on the conclusions, not the method.

This means they report the conclusions from scientific reports as facts, and don't suggest how they came to their findings, which leads people to think that there are broad new thruths about the world to put into their list of random trivia facts for the next party.

Take this article for example: by searching genetic codes, researchers in cooperation with the Field Museum of Natural Science in Chicago have a better understanding of how 169 birds are related to one another.

The surprise is that some birds would appear to be related due to their genetics, and not due to their physical attributes - meaning birds that don't look alike may be closely related, and birds that very much alike, may not be related all that closely at all. Yet, for hundreds of years, birds have been phylogenetically classified by their physical attributes, meaning this study would shatter existing phylogenetic trees like a Jenga tower, and have to be rebuilt. Then the reporter tosses in a brief mention about dinosaurs, arguing that:

"Scientists believe birds, evolved from small-feathered carnivorous dinosaurs which roamed the Earth 150 million years ago."

This should definitely read "Some scientists" and perhaps explain why they believe dinosaurs are the root of all birds. It doesn't, mostly because the data on the subject is a bit scattered, still. In fact, some paleontologists have been arguing that some of the dinosaurs like velociraptor are flightless birds. That's a bit of a stretch, let me tell you. But not one that shouldn't be considered. Yet, imagine if such a contested study was reported on as a brand new fact for everyone to know. THEN we get into what my grievance is - these reports have to be far less superlative in their statements.

Anyhow, the researcher that redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports interviewed, Sushma Reddy, didn't make any mention of dinosaurs herself, and I can't even imagine why that statement was thrown in there. They were just analyzing the genetic similarities between extant species of birds, certainly nothing about origin of the species.

If anything, the study suggests that phylogenies of the avian species may have to be revised or revisited in light of new genetic observations.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cliff Fletcher "explains" himself

But he didn't have to.

Not to go on and on and on about the Leafs but ... well, Cliff Fletcher apparently had to explain himself for making the moves that he's pulled off in the last little while. My favourite quote of this whole thing:

"Sometimes you make business decisions," [Flethcer] said. "At this stage we're not interested in buying Bryan McCabe out. It's a business decision that doesn't make any sense at this time."

Unfortunately, these quotes all seem to be from articles we've already read, and there's nothing new. We KNOW that Kubina is for sale, but for a higher price than they've been hearing so far. We KNOW that Sundin is being negotiated and that the Leafs would ask for his services if he hits the open market. We KNOW that Wellwood and Raycroft were put on waivers.

And it offers notably little in response to the Tucker toss, which is crap. Also, isn't it bullshit that none of the media outlets have managed to get a quote from Tucker yet? I'm a bit concerned that nobody can get out from behind the desk and call around to talk to the guy. But that's just the journalist in me. Thanks anyhow, TSN.

I am positive that the actual episode of Off the Record with Michael Landsburg went much better than this crap blurb.

To reiterate, I grossly dislike SportsNet. Their coverage of events is pretty lame, except for Jason Portuando (if that's how you spell his name). I enjoy TSN much better, their affiliation to ESPN opens up much more possibilities in coverage and a tremendous quality archive of highlights from many, many years ago.

TSN's online content is nothing but disappointing

BUT TSN's online material is apparently untenable to read. SportsNet's online material appears to be much better. They've had better insight to the Sundin rumour mills, and today they have more rumours. They've actually found new news on the Maple Leafs, whereas TSN is just rehashing the old shit they've had for the last three days. And isn't that the kind of stuff you headline your website it - rehash? Not impressed.

So, SportsNet, what do you have for me today? Cujo and Gary Roberts returning to Toronto? That's a neat story - although you admit that Cujo is under contract with Calgary and that Toronto hasn't been in coversation with his agent - and have no further details about Roberts other than that he's a veteran. Also, it was initially reported by the Toronto Sun, which spends more time in the rumour mill than the pulp and paper mill. Besides that, Cujo returning is a bad idea. Why?

Because he can't stop a slap shot. Seriously, and I'm sure scouts have mentioned this to teams when they're playing against Cujo. Scout: "Don't fuck around with the puck, and dangle and drag it. Just fucking shoot it real hard at Curtis Joseph. That shit will blow right past him." Player: "I'll give it 110%." Oh yeah, also, people in Toronto hate Joseph for bailing on the team to play for "a contender" (which was beat out in the first round - see my tribute to their efforts).

No qualms with Roberts though - he's bad-ass.

Roberts would even fit with the Master Plan I discussed earlier. No big signings, no long-term contract extensions, and trades for the future until the front office is in place.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Not for a lack of trying ...

The Leafs can't get rid of McCabe just yet ...

Fletcher's plan might have come across a stumbling block with the cost of releasing the expensive Bryan McCabe. 

If they drop his hip-checking can, he'll cost the $3 M right now and an additional $1.6 M for the next three years. Yikes. Despite this, the Islanders appear to remain interested in him, should he waive his no-trade clause. 

Perhaps The Silver Fox (Fletcher) can make things uncomfortable enough for McCabe that waiving the clause will be like shooing a horsefly. We'll have to wait and see. 

But - just a few hours since my latest post, it appears Wellwood will be playing for the Canucks instead of lining up at the unemployment office. Vancouver, what happened last time you had a diminutive player that wasn't quite fit for the NHL? At least people were excited for Steve Kariya, I mean, his big brother was scoring 50 goals a season at the time. Remember when Paul used to do that? No, I can't remember either. 

Maple Leafs washing away the damage Ferguson has done

Well, hockey didn't turn out as planned - although we won a tough game again. We were doing really, really well, until we got into penalty trouble and had to start shuffling the lines. Chemistry was just a confusing subject instead of an on-ice experience, and we basically scored two goals when our defenseman Tim rocked two individual efforts through the opposition's five-hole.

Then my fiancee scored the empty netter to solidify our 3-1 win, which was great. In 30 minutes of game time, we took five penalties, meaning we weren't operating like we should. Two of the penalties against us were such bad calls that even the opposing team was laughing at the ref. But the important thing is we played really well as a team, and got the job done. So, good for us.

- - - Moving on

Leafers making final moves before July 1

First off, we've already discussed the draft of Luke Schenn and 'Purple' Hayes, which should have some impact on the Maple Leafs leading into the next couple of seasons - but some much more significant changes have just occured.

D'Arcy Tucker can basically take a hike, although, this is the most shocking thing the Leafs have done if you ask me. First off, the article I've linked to is written by Darren Dreger, who apparently reports with periods in the middle of sentences, and quotes some asshole named "Sosa," which doesn't make a lick of sense. His editors should be fired.

Regardless, Tucker was being groomed to be the captain of the Maple Leafs. He's strictly focused on working hard and being the message centre during press conferences instead of being the side show at the ACC each night. Part of this was probably because he was looking for a big contract extension, which he did get, and part of it was because he was likely asked to step up and be a leader on the team, esp. while he was scoring in big numbers.

So - what now? He was committed, he was signed, he was a season removed from big scoring numbers and was dedicated to the team. Was simply dropping him from the lineup and paying him off better than having him play? ... well, consider the following.

Chad Kilger was a helluva Maple Leaf. He worked hard, skated fast, shot the puck harder than anyone on the team, killed penalties, and was a real good player for a real bad team. I don't think anybody was upset with Kilger's efforts - which was probably why he was one of the only players Fletcher could trade before the trade deadline. BUT they only got a 2nd round draft pick, which they then swapped for Jamal Mayers, who is on Bates Battaglia level skill, if you ask me. A player for the Marlies to learn from.

Kilger - 6'4, 224 lbs, strong and fast (4th overall in 1995) 32 years old.
Mayers - 6'1 214 lbs, (89th overall in 1993) 34 years old.
They've both struggled to be regulars in NHL lineups, though Mayers has made more a career with the Blues, while Kilger remains a journeyman around the league. Personally, I'd take Kilger over Mayers, but ... that's just me.

This suggests that there is something else going on around the Leafs' dressing room, more in alingment with making change for change's sake.

Ultimately, Fletcher is acting like a lion who has just taken control of a pride. When a young lion becomes strong enough, it challenges for supremacy and casts the old leader aside. Afterwards, the lion will then slaughter all the cubs so that the lionnesses don't have any kittens to take care of - mostly so that they will mate with him instead of playing daycare. It's not all about shacking up, but about having kittens of his own to create a new legacy in the pride. He's the strong one, and passing his genes along is nature's way of propagating the species, etc, etc.

This is what Fletcher has done. He's moving out everything that Ferguson did, that he can manage. Whoever picks up after Fletcher will have none of the decisions that Ferguson made looming over him. The Raycroft mistake (signing a big loser to a big contract after he's been run out of Boston) and Wellwood disappointment (an uncommitted centreman who they should have traded while he still had potential) are both coming to an end, too.

What's on the horizon? If this is his formula, he'll be getting rid of McCabe and Kubina shortly, followed by Steen, Stajan and Antropov. Fletcher must have an inclination that he can still trade these players in exchange for the future, else he'd just be dumping them off at the orphanage as well.

What further evidence is there that cleaning house is in Fletcher's plan? Consider IF he hadn't traded Sundin's rights away - do you think he'd have a prayer of resigning him after ditching Sundin's entire team?

Me neither. This probably shouldn't come as a surprise, though. But with Fletcher not part of the Maple Leafs' longterm plans, could this go awry? Quickly? Are these the steps that he should be making?

Don't expect Fletcher to make any serious long-term committments to any players in the next season, nor to spend the league maximum this year. I'm predicting he's going to put an able group in the locker room this season, and spend his real efforts trying to rebuild the front office. A long-term GM, coach, assistants and hopefully some high quality scouts to continue to make the most of the draft should be on his agenda. And judging by his actions so far, this is likely what he's doing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Choke - going to be awesome

For your pleasure I have posted the link to probably the next movie I'll wind up seeing in theatres.

The book was outstanding, and in the vein of Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects and Identity, there is a twist that catches you so offguard that it genuinely sends shivers down your spine.

This is the only time a novel has been able to catch that magic of twisting the story around with merely a couple of words - with a simple paragraph altering the entire way that you viewed everything that had come to pass before that point - and I have absolutely no doubt that this movie will be outstanding.

So, what does this movie have going for it? The director, Gregg Clark, also directed What Lies Beneath, which was pretty chilling and certainly well done. The story was written by the one-of-a-kind Chuck Palahniuk (which I still don't know how to pronounce, but I'll correct people if they say it in some way that I dislike), who also wrote Fight Club and Lullaby (which was awesome).

Also, Sam Rockwell should be excellent, whom you'll remember from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (as Captain Zaphod Bleeblebrox) and in the Green Mile (as the psycho killer Wild Bill). He's got that twisted attitude that should bring some bite to the protagonist.

Angelica Houston is a big enough name for people unfamiliar with the rest of this dialogue to trust that this is going to be a neat movie - and perhaps suggest that the Mental Mother will likely play an influential part of moving this movie forwards.

If you're still in doubt, think "The Shipping News" meets "Fight Club."

Thinking inside the box

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic

Monday, June 23, 2008

Still early, so here's what I'm looking forward to

Extra, Extra, Read all about it.

George Carlin has died at 71, in hospital in LA. Here's some highlights that we can remember him by. I would have liked to have The 7 Dirty Words as my ring tone on my phone. Who would be upset with that? Surly, a dirty look would morph into a sweet smile as listeners would recall the first time they heard the skit. 

The outspoken atheist and misanthrope not only had no faith in religion, but in mankind, America, or anything else for that matter. With nothing to hold him back or morally responsible, he pursued avenues for the shock of it, just to find humour, but mostly contempt, in everything around him. 

I hope in the next few days his dying wishes are revealed, to see what revelations he may have had, if any, in his last few moments, when he knew the end was near. I'd be interested to hear what he wanted done with his body, as well. Would he give it to science, bother burying it, cremating it? He certainly wouldn't have a funeral service, but perhaps a showing or memorial. It's hard to say what will be done. 

He'd probably prefer to have his corpse left in a ditch where it might cause future car accidents - he was such a bastard.

- - - - -

There isn't much going on just yet, as it's still early on a Monday - but that doesn't mean I can' t make some hopes and predictions for the week.

At The Lance, I'm hoping to establish a new printer, get to videos up and running on our website, see if I can't acquire a new IBM relatively cheaply, and finalize a plan for our next publication.

At In Business, first off, I expect that they'll update their site to include this month's work on Point Pelee, but if they don't, then ... I guess I'm just looking forward to an exciting new project that my editor Mark has for me. As usual, he called me up last Friday telling me he had an exciting new project for me, but this time, it's really special - something that they're hoping to get the scoop on for August. He told me he'd have the details to me later on that afternoon ... and of course it's Monday and I still haven't heard from him.

Do you think that's going to affect my deadline? You'd better believe it.

With the Windsor Spitfires, they have a score of awesome new details coming up that should be a lot of fun to cover and great to write about. I'm very pleased that I have had the opportunity to be a part of the Spitfire family for the last couple of years. The writing is rewarding, and I get to do my part for the city's OHL team. I've met some great young kids and a few former pros now, too, which is rewarding in itself.

There are fireworks tonight that are celebrating the Declaration of Independence and Canada Day - just a little bit early. It's usually a big show, it usually rains a bit, and I don't usually care to go, but my fiancee loves it ... mostly because of tradition, so we go. Just cause it's something she's always done, she's got to keep doing it. I'd prefer the excuse, 'I like to go,' to 'I've always gone and I've only missed it once, and we're going to go to them forever.'

Tuesday is Co-ed Naked Hockey, and I'm going to score a goal this time. The team we're playing isn't particularly strong, and ours is, and I think our centre got suspended last week, so I might get some quality ice time as a result. Any way you say it, I'm going to the net with the puck, and it's time I score a goal this season. Even the girl who can't shoot the puck scored this season.

Wednesday, I'm going to go to the league meeting and what the hell is going on there. If players on my team are getting suspended, I want to be there to find out why. Just reading the meeting minutes isn't good enough. Plus, it'll be something to get more involved with - and I like hockey.

Thursday is baseball, which had better not be rained out. I've been out practising a lot of the last week, and it's time to put the bat over my shoulder and start swinging. I'm feeling good with my swing and upgraded to a 32 oz. bat, from the 28-er, without losing any speed. I should be able to whack the ball pretty good. Just have to wait and see if I get my pitch. Let's hope so.

Friday, believe it or not, no plans to speak of. I was thinking of going home for the long weekend, and so were my parents, but I've got to bartend a family party for my fiancee's brother. As I understand it, the Boy doesn't want it, the wife doesn't want it, their friends may not go because they're all off camping for the long weekend, and so a bunch of guests will arrive, sit around a few hours, and head home in the dead-centre of a long weekend. Kinda kills any plans to get out of Windsor for a while - which you HAVE to do or else you wither away into a phantom-like shell of a man.

No plans Saturday, can't go anywhere, remember.

Sunday, bartending a party. I'm sure some good stuff will emerge in the next few days, too. All in all, this week should fly by once again. Enough stuff to look forward to to make it interesting.

Then July 1 hits, and the NHL free agent market opens up, which should make for some dramatic moves and keep hockey interesting for a little while longer during this hiatus.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

'Underground-ology,' Leaf Land, SportsNet and ... I get cranky

I just finished a book called Terrible Lizard, which was about dinosaurs, so I thought. By Deborah Cadbury, the book is a story about the history of the first dinosaur hunters. It was odd, once I got the jist of what was going on, to have a book dedicated to the history of prehistory, but ... after that, it was pretty captivating.
Admittedly, you can go through about 130 pages of this book before the word dinosaur even comes up, so if you're a dinosaur buff, this is possibly not for you. But if you're interested in the formative years of the field of paeleontology (and who isn't?) then you might enjoy this.
Cadbury has gone through an incredible amount of old diaries, newspapers, science articles and correspondences to capture the voice of the 1800s. The entire book would range from the early 1820s to the 1870s, spanning the coronation of Queen Victoria, the debates over the first British Museum of Natural History and, of course, the discovery of some of the first dinosaurs known to man.

The book doesn't really take shape until the feud between Giddeon Mantell (famous for the Iguanodon) and Richard Owen (the man who coined the term dinosaur). The two of these scientists had a series hate on for each other, and that made the back end of this novel very interesting. Some real drama played out between these two, and Cadbury was able to capture the tone and taste of what they must have been feeling at the time.

This dramatic feud is the centrepiece of the book, as the sick, poor and studious Mantell efforts to make a name for himself, and gain the credit he deserves, while the wealthy, patronized, villainous Owen plagarizes and scorns all those who challenge his interpretations. Here's a bit of a spoiler, but Owen doesn't have his heart grow three times that day - he still tries to steal Xmas.
I enjoyed the book, but don't let the cover fool you. As many an old adage might say, you won't find complete skeletons of Baryonx in the book, you won't find the description of any dinosaurs as we know them now in this book, and you won't find recreations of any tropical facinating far away lands - just soggy old London town.

What you do get is a convincing connection to the small town life, the eloquent language of the period, the war between religion and science in its infancy and a real shape of the Victorian era. No fax, no phone, no motor cars, just a couple professors preening over rocks with fossilized teeth in them for a few hundred pages.

In Leaf Land ...

The Maple Leafs, after grabbing Schenn whom it is said "You rebuild teams around defensemen like this," according to wind-fucker Pierre McGuire (- so you take that with a grain of salt), they drafted Jimmy Hayes. I'm going to go ahead and be the first guy to call him Purple Hayes, because that's a swell nickname. Now, is Purple Hayes going to be any good? Well, it's hard to say, but considering that the good things that reports have had to say about him is that he happens to know people who've played in the NHL before, I'm guessing he's a long shot.

Just because Keith Tkachuk is your mom's cousin doesn't make you an NHLer. That's like saying my mom's cousin is ... well, I don't know any of my mom's cousins. So it goes to show, it doesn't fucking matter who your cousin is - it likely doesn't mean dog barf to you. But SportsNet had to say something about the Leafs, and while there hasn't been any good news for them in years, a puff piece will have to do. Stay tuned on SportsNet where we'll show you shocking footage of Roger Federer petting a kitten (his mom's cousin's kitten). SportsNet is garbage - but I'll still brag that I met Ian Mendes. It was sweet.

Where are the Jay's?

I have to say, the radio down in Windsor is letting me down. As much as SportsNet's sports coverage is pretty lame, at least they've got the Jay's games on. Without cable, though, I can't watch 'em. And most deterring is that the radio stations have given up on them. The only thing to listen to now is the Tigers, and that's tough. I like the Jays, I like going to Jays games and I like listening to the radio - but now ... that's a shame.

It goes to show how your allegiances get very regional once you've only got the local radio to satisfy you. So now I'm a in-depth Tigers fan because they're the only team I can listen to, and they're having trouble beating anyone who isn't at the bottom of their division right now. It's okay Tigers, I'm warming up to you. I don't know what any of your baseball players actually look like, but I can repeat the names I hear on the radio over and over clearly and with the proper annunciations, too. Unlike most callers after the game.

Besdies that, Marcus Tames is the man. In fact, he's so 'the man' that hippies are going to start protesting when he goes up to bat. It's okay though, Thames could beat the bejesus out of a hippy, and then hit a home run just to add insult to injury.
In conclusion, bringing back Cito Gaston is awesome! And it parallels with my theory that the Leafs should bring back Pat Burns, God willing. His health has been a concern for a few years now, and with our prayers, he'll be back behind the bench beating the crap out of the Senators in no time. Interim coach Ron Wilson knows his place, and will step aside for Burns (I'm sure of it).
Lastly - 10 pages into the Choose your own adventure story. It's going to take a while, it appears. And it's not as funny as I thought it might be. Till next time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lost and Lazy

5440 had it right.

Off the bat, Lost has a new ARG emerging from the shadows, which should be exciting. While it's frustrating to only get just over a dozen new episodes each season, and the story seems to plod along with only asking new questions, instead of answering any of the questions we've been asking since the beginning, the powers that be do make an effort to make the off-time a bit morer bearable.

I first learned about Lost last season when I got involved in an ARG for the Cloverfield movie that came out earlier this January. When the trailer for Cloverfield came out just before Transformers, I thought that perhaps the monster would be related to Lost (because the 1.18.08 movie release date and the late January premiere for the show). Needless to say, I was incorrect - but I did get myself involved and invested in Lost.

With a new Alternate Reality Game in the works, there's a neat new community to get involved with and new clues and mysteries to ponder over - and in the end, it makes the whole situation much more engaging. For now, it would appear that Octagon Global Recruiting has something to do with the Dharma Initiative and that we hopefully can learn something new about the back-history of the island and why people are there.

I was a bit disappointed with Season 4 mostly because they answered fewer questions than ever, and all they did was ask more questions. As a viewer, I want to know more about the island, not about why people are off of it. BUT that's not really a good story, it's just a neat island.

Anyhow, I hope the ARG works out well - it's always fun to follow along and learn something new about the show. For now, there are Unpaid Positions available in San Diego, linked with the ComiCon, which should be neat.

In other news, the Maple Leafs apparently drafted a helluva defenseman in Luke Schenn, and everyone seems very excited about it. If he's half as durable as Carlo Coliacovo, then the Leafs should be in good shape - but let's be realistic, there's still nothing to be excited about next year for. It's awfully hard being a Leafs fan.

I'm not too sure what I think about the Leafs letting Sundin go to the Canadiennes, though. It would certainly mark an end to an era, and perhaps that's just what the Leafs org. and fans need. To just let go of everything that's happened and REALLY start over this time. ANOTHER thing it could mean - by beefing up the opposition in your own division, it's a surefire way to keep your team out of the playoffs and high in the draft - which would be key to their rebuilding effort. He's pretty much solidified that he won't let the Leafs deal him for anything of value, so perhaps they'll get something in return if Montreal can sign him.

The Untitled Project News of the day: I've hammered out about two pages of story ideas for the Choose your own adventure motif, and it's a little bit dark - to be honest. I thought that this would be a lot more funny, but it is much more like a horror story in every direction you turn. Perhaps we can burst into different genres as you go - you really get to choose your own story line and everything as you go. Will it be horror, adventure, action, a medical drama, or a comedy? Well, you get to decide, and that's a pretty neat concept.

for now, my battery is dying, so ... gotta go.

Friday, June 20, 2008

untitled Project

For now, I've got an exciting new project under way that I think is going to be a lot of fun to get off the ground.

There isn't a lot to report on it, but it's going to be in the same vein as the 'Choose your own adventure' genre from back when we were kids. I think it's going to be a lot of laughs, and hopefully people will be interested in it.

The premise is simple, we're presented with choices daily, yet we almost always take the conservative predictable option - it's just easier to fit into your schedule this way.

Well, the idea with this book would be to take the route less traveled; to explore the unknown, without putting some crappy diamonds, a purple dragon and a tsunami on the cover.

If you're interested in a copy, let me know. I'm hoping it gets off the ground well.

Operation: Inauguration

I was out in Ottawa back in January for the Canadian University Press's Nash 70, and had an opportunity to meet Stephen Brunt, among others.

While I was there chiefly as a sports writer, there were some welcoming hopes for the future in that field. While most other career paths face certain difficulties, it seems that sports writers are an aging demographic, and that there will undoubtedly be some opportunities in the future.

That being said, Brunt made a point that branding yourself can becoming truly important when trying to make a name for yourself - and he is continuously pursuing avenues through which to push his brand, which contractually belongs to his company. So when he's writing for the Globe & Mail, or appearing on the radio with The Fan 590, or its televised duplicate on Rogers SportsNet, he is continuously marketing himself and the companies he works for. And in some cases, promoting his books.

What does all that have to do with me?

This is where his advice begins to rub off, like newsprint on your hands after flipping through a couple of pages - finding a way to transcend different forms of media and expanding your profile is becoming an important part of breaking into the media scene. Perpetually producing content for consumption is a habit that amateurs need to get into, and it's one that I've considered for a long while now.

Initially, I didn't have a lot of respect for blogging - it had a stigma to it, a type of stereotype that lonely and sad highschool kids moped around over. Emo haircuts and shitty videocams seemed to dominate the image of blogging - but those things have changed.

People with much more vision that I saw hope for the blog-market and have begun investing heavily in the contsant production of content to be available at all times throughout the day. Major news sources, magazines, newspapers and sports networks are now featuring blogs, bloggers and constant updates to tap into this market. More importantly, themed blogs are becoming more reliable sources of information that some news outlets, especially when there's breaking news or gossip in the entertainment industry - most specifically about movie production (not so much about celebrity exploits - although blogs have dominated that sphere, too).

So, with this understanding, I hope that this blog will be an opportunity to promote whatever projects I'm involved in, to explore writing styles and deadlines that are more relative to my own personal pursuits, and a chance to strengthen my voice, arguments and ideas - - - whether anyone is watching or not.

I'm sure my interests will become clear shortly - and I hope to be able share all the wonderful things that influence my world in this quiet little space on-line.

Talk to you all soon.