Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sick and Tired of Winter and a #17 nightmare

Well it's not even January and I'm tired of winter.

Of course the fact that we're having a winter of epic proportions doesn't help. It started with sub Arctic, by Vancouver standards, temperatures in the first week of December and now we've had freakin' snow on the ground for over two weeks with no sign of relief in sight.

Hey, if I wanted winter I'd have stayed in Ontario and learned to love ice storms.

As a true Vancouverite I have no snow tires on my car, but unlike many locals I don't drive in the snow as a result. This means that for the past two weeks I've been a dutiful walker/public transit user. The walking is fine but the transit is ludicrously bad. We live in a transit "Black Hole" so it's almost always quicker to walk anywhere less than a couple of miles from the house but getting to work requires a bus.

On Monday I left work early and walked the 15 blocks to Robson and Howe to catch the #17 Oak home. I walked because the bus service up Georgia or Robson in "late night hours" is once every 30 minutes, and because I wanted to stop off at the BCLDB to restock my cider and king can inventory. My question would be: since when is 9pm in a major city "late night" ?

So I arrive at Robson/Howe at 9:44, there is a very long line of people which leads me to believe that the buses are not running very frequently but a couple arrive quickly so I feel OK. I call translink and identify my stop # and am informed that the next "#17 Oak" will arrive at 9:52 pm - excellent I should be home by 10:15ish. I then phone wife to advise her that I'm at the bus stop and should be home soon, and then I resume my wait.........and wait.........and wait. Many #10, #7, #4 and #17 UBC buses arrive and depart but still no elusive #17 Oak.

I phone Translink again and wait 6 minutes to be connected to a human, I ask if there are problems with the #17 Oak as I've now been waiting 45 minutes. I am informed that while there was a reported mechanical problem earlier there should be no delays but that the conditions were making things slow, I'm then asked "where would I be taking the bus to ?" - I reply "17th and Oak" and am told that the trip should only take 12 minutes from where I am.

I hang up and inform the gentleman behind me with his 5 year old that TransLink has no solution, he then says "well we're heading to 19th and Oak. Shall we share a cab?' - you bet we shall. I flag a cab and as we are about to get in a woman asks if she can join - she's going to 10th and Oak, we all board. As we cross the Granville bridge we spot no fewer than 5 buses stranded at the Hemlock underpass with flashers on, not moving.

So my question is: If the freakin' buses were stuck why didn't Translink know ?

Anyway my share of the cab is $5, as opposed to $2.50 for the bus and I arrive home at a few minutes before 11pm. And they wonder why people don't ride the bus.

It's New Year's Eve and I'm working, of course, it's still not fit for me to drive and getting a cab at 3 in the morning will be impossible so I've resigned myself to walking home.

Happy New Year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

You've gotta kiss a few Frogs

Disaster stuck our house about 6 weeks ago when our venerable House Wine, La Chamiza Shiraz/Malbec, disappeared from the BCLDB shelves. My sources at the board indicate that it will return in late November but we've been forced to take drastic measures in the meantime. House wine is essential to wife and I because we work opposite schedules so we only sit down to dinner together two, maybe three, times a week. The rest of the time wife may grab a glass while dining with daughter and I'm always going to have a tumbler full upon returning from work. so we need something that will hold up to being open for 4-5 days or more and is cheap enough to be used in the pasta sauce while still being drinkable.

The above mentioned La Chamiza has filled the bill for about three years now, it's reliable, tasty enough and sells for $16 for a magnum. The inability to have access to our "House Wine" for two months was like being handed lemons, so I set about to make Lemonade. I decided to work my way through the "cheap and cheerful" section of the BCLDB catalogue in search of a suitable replacement. The requirements were that the wine should be red and price out at less than $9.00 per 750 ml., things did not go well. I have tasted a half a dozen "House Wine" replacements and only one has really come close to matching "The Venerable Chamiza", that being Concha y Toro's Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot CSPC#286187, $15.97. The wine is medium bodied with little tannins but reasonable balance in that it's not over the top fruity and has the bonus of being under Stelvin Closure (screwcap) to aid in lasting for up to a week. This wine will tide us over until TVC returns, but I tried some bad alternatives in the meantime. Potential House Wines to be avoided include, anything from Tocornal, anything from Italy and Stanley's 2L. bag in a box Cabernet-Shiraz. All in all this was an exercise I'd rather not have to go through again in the near future.

I'm suffering from "Going to the Pollsitis" having voted in both federal and provincial elections recently and now I'm forced to vote on the Vancouver civic slate tomorrow. In all honesty my choice for mayor is probably "none of the above" as neither "Ken Doll" candidate has impressed me much but I'll make an informed choice sometime tomorrow morning, assuming I can find my voting card.

Business at the restaurant where I work is, to say the least, slow. At this time of year we depend strongly on traffic from the hotel beside us, along with local corporate business, and the economic slow down has basically seen both sources dry up. Not quite sure what I'm going to do about it, maybe 6/49 will do the trick....... yeah that's it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Well I don't know if anything is scarier than the current economic picture but last night was Halloween.

I generally work Friday nights, my token appearance on an "amateur night", but booked off last night to involve myself in the festivities. What a night it was. Daughter is nine now so Halloween has become a simple commercial venture, make as many calls as possible and maximize your return of "free sugar".

At 5:30 we sat down to pasta with daughter, daughter's BFF, BFF's mom, BFF's mom's boyfriend, McGyver, T-money, wife and I. Simple bolognese to maximize carb intake for the upcoming marathon. Shortly past six all others head out leaving me to side the table, start the dishes and dole out candy to visitors.

Daughter and BFF are witches, as is BFF's mom, T-Money (age 5) is a King, wife is a monk/priestess from another planet, quite disturbing actually. McGyver and BFF's mom's boyfriend are plain clothes, or dressed as Dad's escorting their kid's trick or treating if you will. The weather has actually broken, the rains gone and it is a mild overcast evening - perfect for massive acquisition of candy.

Over the course of the next hour and a half we are visited by close to 100 kids and just around 7:45 daughter and BFF return with bags full, T-Money packed it in after about 45 minutes and has just been wandering around in a sugar induced zombie state for the past hour insisting that his candy stay on the floor - better to select his next victim.

McGyver has planned a neighborhood fireworks display, permit obtained online at 5:30 pm, so the kids are now running around with sparklers while the "Wheelbarrow of Excitement" makes it's way into the front yard. A solid ten minute display of pyrotechnics wraps up the evening's entertainment before we close up shop shortly after 8 bells. Guests, and neighbours, depart and while I tidy wife and daughter sort the loot into various piles, sours here, chocolate there etc.

Daughter is always generous with her bounty, though she doesn't share her sours, so she offers up some KitKats and then is finally prodded into bed at 9ish. We've always gone with the "let her gorge" theory so sleep comes slowly but does come.

Soccer is at 12:45 today, it'll be interesting to see if the buzz has worn off by then.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Promised Don I'd Blog Today

Life has not been easy lately for former major firm partner. He quit his job three or four months ago but still goes to the office every day, I know it's confusing, just leave it be. His new dog is not quite up to scratch and the Red Sox are not going to the World Series.

Thank Christ about the Red Sox, I honestly think I would have had to kill myself if they had pulled off another miracle come back and beaten the Tampa (Don't call us Devil) Rays in the ALCS.

Don't get me wrong, there are things I like about the Red Sox: Big Papi, Jason Bay and Historical Icon Park spring to mind. but their fans are the most insufferable "Nation" on the face of the Planet. I mean c'mon, when you go 86 freakin' years between Championships and then turn the trick twice in three seasons do you really think you're a fucking Dynasty ? I mean Florida has the same number of World Championships as you have since the end of WWI so lighten up boys.

Anyhow, while consoling FMFP on the phone yesterday I promised I'd blog today so here we go.

First off I didn't report on my nine days off because I was sick as a dog for half of them, and secondly nothing else memorable happened besides me going to bed at the same time as daughter.

I have had some interesting beverages in the past couple of weeks and thought I'd share. In the red wine department two new choices have been added to my stable, the first is Librandi Ciro Rosso Classico 2005 a lovely Calabrian wine made with 100% Gaglioppo grapes that is medium bodied with nice hints of spicebox and dried fruits with nice tannins to complement most things with tomato, red peppers, red meats or spicier fare.

Gaglioppo is an "ancient grape" that has been cultivated in the southern part of Italy for 3,000 years or so. The grape is hardy and ripens late in the year so Calabria's hot dry climate is a natural, Italian wine writer Tom Ciocco refers to Gaglioppo as the "Barolo of the South" which is high praise indeed but he's really just putting the boot to an old expression calling Aglianico "the Barolo of the South" when Aglianico wines are not at all similar to Barolo.

I'm not sure I'd ever confuse this bottling with Barolo but at $11.99 retail it's a great match for pasta or ragouts, not widely available I have a feeling this is a product that has been discounted so if you see it grab a few to enjoy over the winter, CSPC#244442.

The other red I've recently added to the rotation is Graham Beck's entry level Pinotage, Pinno 2007, CSPC#208488. This wine I am sure has had it's price reduced recently from $14.99 and now retails at $11.99. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault created in South Africa in the 1920s,it was the feature grape of many South African reds from the late 1950s through the early 1990s. The wine was over planted and over cropped however and made indifferently it fell out of favour.

Graham Beck is a South African mining gazillionaire who entered the wine business in the '80s and has great track record of making modern style wines with good varietal character. Pinotage is not easy to make as if improperly handled it tastes medicinal but this example is rich flavoured with plums, red berries and just a touch of barnyard. It's a nice accompaniment to pizza or pasta and I like it, not as much as I like the Ciro but the Pinno is easier to find.

I also tried two new Beer lately, with mixed results. I liked the Organic Ale from Duchy Originals, CSPC#689497 $3.50 for a 500ml. bottle., the beer showed medium hops and a nice after taste, it has great colour and will probably make a regular appearance in my fridge over the winter. Duchy Originals are the organic food company founded by Prince Charles in 1990 that produce everything from seeds to trowels and all organic. All profits are donated to the Princes Charities Foundation to the tune of more than 6 million pounds since 1999 - so it's good beer and good for the planet.

The other beer was a disappointment on many levels, it was the latest seasonal bottling from Granville Island Brewing, their Limited Release Oktoberfest Lager, CSPC #731752, $4.90 for a 650ml bottle. I want, badly, to be impressed with Granville Island's beers but I rarely am and this was no exception the beer was just ordinary and for $4.90 for a 650ml with words like "limited release" involved I want more than ordinary.

I love the idea of a craft brewery in the middle of the urban jungle turning out quality beers year round but I'm almost always disappointed in the finished product from GI. In addition as part of the Sleeman conglomerate of "micro brews" they don't really deserve my love the way many other local brewers do, still a man can dream.

Tomorrow promises to be a big day as it is the premiere of High School Musical III, the first theatrical release from the Disney juggernaut ......... but you already knew that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nine Days Off

It is wife's annual Convention trip next week, Atlanta this year, so I am off for the week. I have made this an annual "sanity break" even though I technically probably could go into work and have Auntie Margarethe care for daughter, but I don't think that's the best use of my week (or Auntie Margarethe's).

I have no major plans for the week, although it's Thanksgiving this weekend so I'll mostly just be eating. I have the Holiday Weekend Food Trifecta all set up: Saturday is Prime Rib, Sunday is Irish Ham and Monday is Turkey with the R's, wines are all chosen, shopping done, Yeah Baby I'm set.

So what do nine days off mean to me ?

1) Nine straight nights of eight hours sleep

2) Nine straight days of not having to eat my main meal at 3:30 in the afternoon

3) Nine days in a row when I can have a beer while cooking dinner

4) Nine consecutive days when I can kiss my daughter "Good Night" while she is still awake.

5) The option to watch prime time television for an entire week, it doesn't sound like much but believe me it's a treat.

6) Nine days without having to shave, though I probably will.

7) Nine days without having to talk to strangers, though I probably won't.

8) A whole school week when daughter can play in the schoolyard without being rushed home.

9) Nine days without downtown traffic and downtown drivers.

I'll try and post about the food on Tuesday but remember ........... I'm on Vacation.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Winter approaches, a New Red, and a too-old Red

Well the rains have begun. If you don't live in Vancouver it's difficult to imagine the change that happens when summer ends and fall begins.

The rain comes almost daily it seems, and not for an hour or so as in other parts of the country, when it rains in Vancouver it rains for days on end. The first year that wife and I lived here we arrived in late September and it was glorious, long warm sunny days that drifted on until the middle of October, when it began to rain, and rain, and rain. That fall it rained something like 37 days in a row, and it seemed as though it would never stop. People get nasty when they don't see the sun for a month so I anticipate some testy times ahead.

On a happier note the beginning of Fall means that the grill can be ignored and the oven/slow cooker put back in use. I'm already dreaming of short ribs and butt roasts and, daughter's favourite, "ragout". I am battling a bit of a bit of a cold so in search of comfort food on Wednesday I braised chicken thighs in stock with carrots, shallots, celery and fennel then thickened the braising liquid and served it with saffron rice. It was just the comfort food I was looking for and was nicely accompanied by a new addition to the red wine rotation in the house Anakena Carmenere , a new worldish red from a 10 year old winery in Chile.

Carmenere has been dubbed as Chile's signature red grape, the off shoot of Merlot is not grown very much elsewhere, but the BCLDB offers scant opportunity. This varietal is a slightly smokier version of Merlot to my palate and the Anakena offers up lots of red fruits and spicebox with a smoky after note and a nice long finish. The wine retails for $12.95 and is widely distributed, it's stock # is 72157 and I recommend it as a nice partner to pizza, pasta, roast fowl etc.

Last night was daughter's soccer practice so wife and I eat together after daughter is in bed. Practice runs from 6 till 7 so daughter must be fed beforehand, it amounts to a bit of a "stay at home date night" so I usually cook something that daughter would eschew. Last night I prepared a stroganoff with top sirloin, mushrooms, shallots, dijon and sour cream over buttered noodles. I was going to just crack open some house plonk but decided to take a shot on a bit of a gamble. back in the summer, at BratFest 2008, someone brought over a bottle of Cotes du Rhone Villages from the 2000 vintage which I left unopened.

I wasn't trying to "hoard a gem" in fact the opposite was true, I was pretty sure the wine would be over the hill and wanted to save my guest from any awkwardness. I stuck the bottle in my living room rack and forgot about it until last night. With nothing to risk I popped the cork and ............ it was dead as a doornail, no fruit except stewed fruit and a musky aftertaste.

A good thing to remember is that 95% of the wine made is best when consumed within 3 years of bottling, so don't tuck away any bottles of "Little Penguin" to save for that special occasion five years down the road.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If only she were still on SNL


Is it just me, or do other people look at Sarah Palin and go "Wow, Tina Fey has absolutely nailed her !"


Monday, September 22, 2008

Where were you when Summer ended ?

According to the local morning newscast summer ended at 8:44 AM Pacific today. So, where were you ?

I was a few steps south of 16th Avenue on Cambie walking daughter to school. It is a stunningly beautiful day today so hard to believe summer is gone but soon enough the rains will come.

Had a brilliant dinner on Saturday at G's, superb grilled cow and some impressive vino. I didn't mention this earlier but we took a family vacation in the Okanagan in August and I got time to prowl the Naramata Bench for wines. As always the wines of Kettle Valley and LaFrenz were impressive but the best red wine I tasted was Lake Breeze Vineyards Tempest, 2005, this is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is difficult to find and sells at the winery for $39 but it is a shining example of what BC can do with Bordeaux varietals. Sadly I have only 2 bottles left after cracking one on Saturday so if anyone is headed to Penticton in the next little while please pick me up a bottle or two.

Had a great dinner Sunday as well but it was more about the friendship and the comedy than the wine and food.

Friday, September 19, 2008

NHL approaches, how bad will the Leafs be ?

I know the glasses are always rosy in September but I fail to see why everyone is predicting a huge fall off for Toronto. Last year's edition finished with 83 points and where is the huge drop off ?

I've seen estimates of 25 wins for the season, as opposed to 36 last year. Is Mats Sundin worth 11 victories on his own, if so that $10 million from Vancouver may be a bargain for the Canucks.

Other than the now inevitable loss of Sundin, a big one I agree, where is this devastation going to come from ? Toronto lost Tucker, McCabe, Gill, Kilger, Wellwood and Raycroft and added Frogren, Fingers, Hagman, Grabovski, Kulemin, Joseph, Van Rynn, Mayers plus a full year of Bell.

So Tucker for Hagman: depending on which Tucker and which Hagman you get let's call it even.

McCabe for Van Rynn: McCabe has more upside offensively and more downside defensively, again let's call it even.

Gill for Fingers: Fingers is either a very solid #4 or the worst player in the NHL depending on who you listen to, Hal Gill is well, Hal Gill but let's buy into the Leaf haters and give this one to the '07-'08 team.

Kilger for Kulemin: nobody has been rushing out to offer Chad a new contract that I've heard about. Kulemin is said to be a solid two way player with 25 goal potential, kind of what everyone hoped Chad Kilger would become so let's give this one to youth.

Wellwood for Grabovski: I haven't seen much of Grabovski but apparently he's offensively gifted with great speed and Wellwood was the softest forward I've seen in a long time and lacked foot speed. Lets give this one to the '08-09 edition.

Joseph for Raycroft: maybe Andrew Raycroft will get his career back on track in Colorado but he was down right awful in Toronto, the opposite of Grant Fuhr Raycroft always found a way to give up "the goal that beat you" Cujo can't be any worse so I'm giving this to '08-'09.

I still haven't added in any bonus that Frogren, an X factor, the possible improvement of Strahlman, a full season of Bell and the addition of Jamal Mayers, a role player but a really good one, may bring.

Much has been made of the Leafs perceived inability to score goals this year, and I'm sure they aren't going to have anyone challenge for the Art Ross Trophy, however Blake and Bell both punched well below their weight last year so there may be room for improvement there. I also think the Leafs will be a much more sound defensive and fundamentals team under Ron Wilson which will offset some of the missing offense.

So unless Cliff decides to truly tank and deals out one, or both, of Kaberle or Kubina I think this is an 85 point team. Classic Leafs they will be too good for the top 3 picks but not good enough for the post season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Decent run on Reds and some other Observations

So I'm just going to use denial. I refuse to admit that I'm only blogging once every three months or so, in fact I'm blogging daily but I just don't post the blogs.

That's it, that's my story take it or leave it.

Anyway the kid is back in school and I have some time on my hands so I thought I'd actually post my blog today.

I've had a good run with red wine lately including two new products, one old favourite and one great bottle from the cellar.

Wine #1 Soleus Cabernet Sauvignon "Organic" 2006 - Chile, new listing, CSPC#705306, $12.99.

Anytime I can try Organic Cabernet for under $15 I'm going to give it a shot. This wine is made by the large, and under rated, Chilean producer Mont Gras. As befits its' price point the wine is fruit forward and ready to drink but not so one dimensional as to be boring. The wine has definite Cabernet character with black fruits and plums in the taste, it is medium to full bodied with moderate acidity and I think very solid value. The wine has good distribution in the Lower Mainland.

Wine #2 Nieto Senetiner Cabernet Shiraz "Reserva" 2005/06 - Argentina, Specialty Listing, CSPC#367193, $14.49

Nietro Senetiner is one of my fave Argentinean producers but they are sadly under represented in the BC Public store system. This Reserve Cab/Shiraz is the only product fron Senetiner that the BCLDB carries but it's a good one. As with most Argentine producers the Malbec is the best red wine but this full bodied blend has a lot to like, the nose is a bit smoky with some red berry and leather underneath. The flavours are cherry, spice box and a bit of strawberry and it has good acidity and a long finish. This wine drinks well above it's price point and is highly recommended, the wine has good distribution in the lower mainland.

Wine #3 Lungarotti Rubesco - Rossi di Torgiano 2003, Italy, CSPC#41947, $15.99.

An old fave the wines of Lungarotti are always good value, the wines are produced in Umbria which is sort of like Tuscany without the hype. This wine is a blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo and possesses much of the charm of a Chianti. I gave in to the fact that fall was dragging it's heels on Sunday and made stuffed cheese Manicotti in sweet basily tomato sauce and the medium bodied dried cherry, tobacco, leathery character of this wine with it's dry acidity was perfect. Great wine for tomato based anything and highly recommended. This wine has moderate distribution in the Lower Mainland.

The last wine I had recently was a bottle of Kettle Valley Merlot, McCrae Vineyard 2003 which we drank on Saturday night with grilled Angus Rib Eyes. Both the steaks and the wine were superb, the wine showing all those qualities which made Merlot so popular with the masses. The wine had gobs of red and black fruit flavours and was layered over sweet vanilla from the oak. The flavour just went on, and on, and on in an almost hedonistic way. The wine was so rich that we saved half of it for the cheese plate an hour later and it was still excellent. Sideways may have killed Merlot for many people but this bottle was outstanding, and sadly I have only one more.

A couple of "Life Observations":

Read in the paper today about a 60 year old couple who had been kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Somalia being rescued by French Commandos. Did I read that correctly: France has Commandos ? Wow, just Wow.

The BC Liberal Party, behind their leader Gordon Campbell, have decided that the fall session of the legislature is irrelevant and will be canceled. This after Gord got busted for breaking his own guidelines by taking a private jet to China with Peter Brown. I'm pretty sure the cancellation is to allow for the February coronation when Gord will change his name to "Gord il Cambo the First" and be crowned Emperor for Life.

I mean hey, if you're going to deny the democratic process why not go all the way.

I don't think they can win it all but man the Tampa Bay (don't call us Devil) Rays are fun to watch.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Theme Songs, Plagiarism and the Azzuri

Is this the biggest news story in history or what ?

Some wizened old crone decides to hold up the mothercorp for more than a million bucks for her jingle and Scott Moore shows some fiscal responsibility by saying No. The result is that the weasels at CTV jump in and pay a reported $2.5 million for Dolores Claman's ditty and you would think someone had just taken a dump on the front lawn of the Parliament buildings and wiped their ass with the flag from the resulting firestorm.

Moore is vilified by every moron with a keyboard for ruining our heritage.

Let's get some freakin' perspective here people. If the Theme song to "Hockey Night in Canada" is the last bastion of our cultural heritage then we are seriously fucked.

The national economy is slipping into a serious downturn, gas prices are through the roof, Canadian soldiers are shipped home weekly from Afghanistan in body bags and our principle concern as a nation is a jingle changing networks ?

I love the song, it's an iconic anthem but I'm sorry as a tax payer who ultimately pays for the CBC I am happy to wave goodbye to Ms. Claman's anthem to greed. I mean c'mon $65,000 a year wasn't enough ? A million bucks wasn't enough ?

It's a shame that Hockey night in Canada won't have it's theme song but let's move on people.

Oh and two more things: Won't it be a bit embarrassing for CTV to advertise the competition every time they play the song? and before last week did anyone not named Claman have any idea who wrote the thing ?

A week or so ago David Pratt was dismissed from his position as a weekly columnist at The Province for plagiarism. This shocked me on a number of levels, first off that anyone read Pratt's column and thought to complain, and secondly that the editors actually fired him over it. I mean really, plagiarism is a crime against journalistic ethics and so by extension the editor is calling Mr. Pratt a journalistic. A bit of a reach I think.

Euro 2008 opened this weekend and since Scotland failed to qualify I am unburdened with having to cheer for the Tartan Army. All went as planned on Day 1 and Day 2 but yesterday a major bump occurred when the consistent under achieving Netherlands took Italy out behind the woodshed 3-0.

Now the Azzuri are the defending World Champions and as a result there appear to be as many Italian soccer fans as there are Irish on St. Patrick's day. Personally I've never been a fan of the Italian style, which for the last two decades or so has been one of stifling defense, pray for a 0-0 draw and win the shoot out.

The only downside to yesterday's Dutch Treat was that the first goal was fairly clearly off side so the Italians can all wail and moan about the officiating. Of course I'm not sure what the excuses will be for goals #2 and 3 but the early line appears to be:

"Well c'mon, after being jobbed so badly for the first goal how could we possibly concentrate".

We'll see how things progress in "The Group of Death" but I still think Italy will find a way through to the next round. Hopefully this will be the year Spain or Portugal can seal the deal overall but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Maybe that's where the Larrys and Sharons come from

Our neighbours are expecting their second child. In fact their baby girl will enter the world today but she will be nameless.

The parents have been struggling for the past seven months or so on what to name "Baby Girl" and have not, as of last night, come to a consensus so the child will be anonymous at birth.

Many names have been suggested, probably too many, but as yet none have passed muster. Despite some wide spread appeal it appears that the suggestion by their 4 1/2 year old son of Queen Chocolate will not win out so they have a bit of a dilemma on their hands.

It's okay though because in British Columbia you have thirty days after the birth of a child to register the child's name with the government ........ or what ?

I mean what if you haven't decided after thirty days. Does the government then step in and name the child ? Does the child have to go through life as "Baby Girl" ?

My personal theory is that there is an office in the back of the Legislative Building in Victoria where an aging civil servant plays out his last days before retirement providing government approved names.

These names would, naturally, hearken back to the soon to be pensioned off bureaucrat's youth. In the 1950s, for example, both Larry, #18, and Sharon, #14, were popular names for children born in the US but by 2007 they had fallen to #322 and #715 respectively.

I mean honestly, can you imagine anyone willingly naming their child Larry or Sharon in this, the age of Ethan and Emma, the era of Joshua and Ashley ?

When was the last time you were at the park and heard a parent call out:
"Sharon, Larry, hurry up it's time to go home !".

If you did hear it just shake your head and realize that not once, but twice did those parents forget to pick a name for their kids - unless of course they were twins in which case I think you should get 60 days.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The State of Canadian Hockey

Alright as round one of the NHL Playoffs are winding down I felt it time to talk a bit about the state of Canadian hockey. Well, to be more specific, the state of hockey within the six NHL franchises based in Canada.

We had a 50% success rate in making the playoffs, although we were really really close with two others, and currently appear to only be leading the NHL in General Manager searches, Vancouver, Toronto and can Ottawa be far behind ?

There is very little coming out of the Toronto media regarding the ongoing search for MLSE's new whipping boy. Personally my money is on Colin Campbell with Brian Burke a dark horse. Ottawa has not actually fired a General Manager in almost a whole calendar year but given their stunning fall from grace this season you have to figure Bryan Murray has his resume updated.

Then there is the Vancouver situation, but I'll get to that later.

Of the three Canadian based teams that made the post season tourney Ottawa is already gone in four, Calgary are trailing San Jose 3-2 and Montreal leads Boston 3-2. Calgary have played great hockey against San Jose, using their speed and physicality to stay even with a more talented squad. Strangely Calgary's downfall has been goaltending, Mikka Kiprusoff has been solid but he needs to be spectacular if the Flames are to advance, still I think it's even money heading into game six.

Sadly I also think it's even money for Les Habitants over Boston after Montreal's brutal collapse in game 5. With a chance to advance, on home ice, Montreal played one of the worst periods of hockey I've seen in a while to give the Bruins new life. Still, if nothing else, this series has given me new appreciation of Alexei Kovalev.

Of the four teams eliminated Edmonton has the brightest future, but I'm sure they'll find a way to screw up.

Now on to the saga of the valiant Vancouver Canucks. After they coughed up a virtual lock on the playoffs by losing a bunch of games, often in embarrassing manners, down the stretch there was much wailing and moaning about how to fix the squad. Personally I knew that Francesco "rhymes with wienie" was going to fire Dave Nonis. How did I know this you ask ? Well on the last night of the regular season I shared a beer with our sous chef at a local Hotel watering hole and was apprised by the waiter that "A couple of hockey guys were in here tonight and they said Nonis is done". If you think that a comment from a waiter in a hotel bar isn't much to go on then you are sadly unaware about the workings of:

A) Waiters
B) Bars in General
C) Hockey Guys

Sure enough a little more than a week later Nonis is canned and the search is on. Now much has been made in the local media praising Aquilini for moving forward so quickly to find a replacement. Excuse me but when you fire the top guy in the company don't you always look for a replacement pretty quickly ? In fact in most business environments wouldn't you already have a replacement selected ?

A couple of points about how "L'affaire Nonis" has been handled by the local media.

1) Francesco Aquilini's asshole called me yesterday to see if I could come over and remove Tony Gallagher's tongue.

I mean seriously could the fawning by the "pale white Duke" be anymore embarrassing. Given the way Gallagher writes you'd think the Aquilini family were modern day Rothschilds, what with Tony waxing on about their business acumen when we all know they made their money as slum lords. It doesn't take great acumen to make money as a slum lord, just greed and a general disregard for the well being of your fellow man so stop with kissing up.

2) Apparently Francesco is unhappy with the way The Province is treating him in the press.

This despite the fact that Cam Cole blasted him on the front page of The Vancouver Sun in much more scathing ways than anyone in the tab has. I guess Francesco has trouble with all that folding and arranging you have to do with the "big boy paper" so doesn't bother with it.

In fact I think firing Nonis was a bold stroke, and probably the right one. The Canucks are simply not very good and the current management group must be held responsible for that but please let's keep it in perspective. The long term future of this club is almost entirely in the hands of Francesco Aquilini, and if I was a Canucks fan that would make me very, very nervous.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Dream is over and MisPlaced Charity

The dream died last night in Toronto. It wasn't much of a dream to begin with (just making the playoffs) and didn't have much chance for success but it official ended with the Bruins 6-2 butt kicking of the Maple Leafs last night.

The offseason promises to be interesting.

Will the upper management of MLSE actually hire a new General Manager and give him full control over hockey operations ?

Will the new GM have the stones to eat some contracts, Raycroft, Tucker and maybe Blake spring to mind, and move in a new direction ?

History tells us no and regardless the Leafs will continue to be a huge cash cow but as fans we can only hope.

My plan sees a new 2 year deal for Sundin at 4 million a year, a couple of small signings along with buy outs of Tucker, Raycroft and maybe even McCabe. Bring back Clemmenson at 500K, play Toskala 65 games and play Pogge 60 games in the AHL, resign Deveraux, Moore and look to deal McCabe (with the threat of a buyout if he won't waive his no movement), Bell and Wellwood.

That's a start at least, and if they can pry Kulemin free from Mother Russia they have three solid lines and five reasonable D Men (Kaberle, Kubina, Colaiacovo, White and Stralman) and whatever they get for McCabe/Bell/Wellwood.

If anyone is interested I'd be happy to take an assistant GM position for 200K and a moving allowance.

On another note I awoke this morning to see the Vancouver media rallying around the plight of David Scholfield and DJ Kearney whose house burned down on Tuesday. Both the local TV outlets and the Vancouver Sun were calling out for support for the couple and their two teenage children.

Excuse me ?

Yes the loss of one's home and many personal possessions are tragic and I feel for them but Mr. Scholfield was the former director of purchasing for the BCLDB, drawing down six figures prior to his early retirement and 50K+ per year pension and Ms. Kearney is a sommelier of some note so I'm assuming that they:

1) have some financial resources

2) had insurance on the house they owned.

I should, at this point, mention that I've known Mr. Scholfield for many years and do not like him but, that notwithstanding, if we are going to "rally around" the plight of people in the hospitality industry how about the single moms working double shifts at White Spot or the dishwashers working 10 hour days to take home $300 a week without benefits.

It is unconscionable to me that prominent people in my industry are asking for assistance for a couple earning six figures a year when we can't get dental plans in 75% of the restaurants in the Province and the drive to view the burnt out Scholfield/Kearney residence will likely take you over the Second Narrows Bridge, under which people live in cardboard boxes.

I'm sure I'll draw some heat for this but I can't believe that this is the way the hospitality industry should provide a "wave of support" for the unfortunates in the industry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Importance of Being Mats

Let me preface this by stating that I have no empirical proof that Scott Burnside's parents and grandparents are 1st cousins, but it is at least an explanation for the drivel he writes.

In his latest column Burnside proposes that should Mats Sundin not waive his no trade clause the Leafs should:

Strip him of his Captaincy

Make it clear that they will not give him a new contract

Send him to his room

Okay I'm an acknowledged Leafs fan and Mats lover and I really believe the best interests of the team lie in trading the captain at this time, however a "no trade clause" is a commitment that should be upheld. What Mr. Burnside is saying is basically that the team says "Yeah we'll give you a no trade clause but if we want to trade you you better waive it or we'll treat you like a pariah". Given that Mr. Burnside resides in Atlanta it's entirely likely that he is unaware that some athletes wish to stay in the city where they have played for a considerable length of time.

Sundin, and other players like him, have no trade clauses in their deals because they don't wish to have their personal and/or business lives uprooted every spring. No trade clauses are not handed out to journeyman and third year players they are rewards for veterans who have roots in the community they play in, and who are generally solid leaders within those communities.

Burnside further smears Sundin, and Tomas Kaberle, by stating that their only reasons for the "no movement clause" is that they don't want to play in the playoffs. Of course Burnside has no evidence to back this up but hey he's a columnist so it's his opinions that count, not facts or journalism.

The fact of the matter is Mats Sundin has earned the right to decide his future and where he finishes this season, and MLSE put that right in in his contract. In my perfect hockey world Sundin would be traded for two solid prospects and a #1 pick, win the cup with Detroit/Anaheim/Dallas and then return to Toronto in the offseason but that decision is Sundin's, and Cliff Fletcher's, to make not anyone else.

Given his stated contempt for legal boundaries and his desire to punish someone for just doing what is rightfully their due I can only imagine how the discipline runs with the children in the Burnside household.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tony Gallagher made me Blog

I thought it was all over. I really felt the blog had run its' course and would just die off, in fact it had been so long since I'd blogged that forgot who I was and I had to remember passwords and shit to get this far.

Finally, however, something rattled my chain enough to make me blog again.

No, it wasn't the sorry state of The Leafs, no it wasn't the Canadian kicker shanking a gimme and giving the SeaHawks new life when my Redskins had their hands around Seattle's collective throats, it wasn't even the delay in the start of production of High School Musical 3 or the fact that There Will be Blood isn't a vampire movie. What finally forced my hand was the most recent musings of Tony Gallagher in what passes for a newspaper here in Vancouver.

Now I've never really gotten Gallagher to begin with, his grumpy persona and West Coast homerism have never really appealed to me. I mentioned him in an earlier blog when he blamed the Minnesota Twins hitting coach for Justin Morneau's hitting woes - though of course when Morneau was successful it was all because of good clean Canadian air growing up. Truth be told I just stopped reading his column, but this morning his mug was on the cover of the Daily Fishwrap so I turned to page A4 to read Tony's musings on the recent Canuck's ownership flap, and was glad I hadn't eaten yet.

I don't think I've ever seen such a ridiculous display of flag waving outside the US border in my times. Gallagher would have us believe that the saintly Francesco Aquilini never had any partnership with the evil litigious Gaglardi-Beedie cartel and that his lack of details on cross examination was simply the honest omissions of a very busy man. What's more Gaglardi and Beedie are nothing but thugs for attempting to besmirch the reputation of a man who made his fortune benefitting from his family's long tradition of being Slum Landlords.

C'mon Tony we know that you have to kiss ass with the Canucks brass to get any quality time with Nonis et al, but does your tongue have to go up there too ?

Why is it I get the feeling that Tony had two columns written for this scenario, the one he published and the one that spoke of the evil Aquilini taking advantage of two honest hardworking BC boys named Gaglardi and Beedie.

I'm not sure I'm all the way back but at least the blog is alive for this week. I'll talk about the hamster later.