Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Spoiler Alert: 2015-16 NHL season. It's all here.

Last year's predictions were money-in-the-bank, 100% correct in every way, shape and form.

No need to go back and check on that, just trust me.

This year's predictions are 100% guaranteed*.

I think I'm going to like the Western playoffs this year. East, notsomuch maybe.

Playoff teams:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

1. Tampa Bay
2. Montreal
3. Detroit

Metropolitan Division

1. NY Rangers
2. Columbus
3. Washington

Wild Card:

1. Pittsburgh
2. NY Islanders

3. Boston
4. Philadelphia
5. New Jersey
6. Ottawa
7. Carolina
8. Florida
9. Toronto
10. Buffalo

WESTERN CONFERENCE


Central Division

1. Chicago
2. Dallas
3. St. Louis

Pacific Division

1. Anaheim
2. Los Angeles
3. Calgary

Wild Card

1. Nashville
2. Minnesota

3. Colorado
4. Winnipeg
5. San Jose
6. Edmonton
7. Vancouver
8. Arizona

Stanley Cup Winner:

Los Angeles Kings over Tampa Bay Lightning

Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh

Norris Trophy: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles

Vezina Trophy: Carey Price, Montreal

Lady Byng Trophy: Tyler Seguin, Dallas

Selke Trophy: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles

Calder Trophy: Connor McDavid, Edmonton

Jack Adams Trophy: Lindy Ruff, Dallas

GM of the Year: Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus

Please, folks....no wagering.

* no ACTUAL guarantee should be inferred or assumed

Sunday, 13 September 2015

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?!?!?!?!?

Christmas morning has come early for those of us who spend every Sunday praying at the church of the National Football League. Some random musings and predictions below.

1. The rumours of the demise of the San Francisco 49ers have been greatly exaggerated. I've seen experts suggesting they will win as few as three games. Pu-lease. Despite having the most tumultuous offseasons in NFL history, there is just too much talent there to have such a precipitous decline. Navarro Bowman is back to lead the rebuilt defense and he is on a mission. Colin Kaepernick will have a solid season and let's face it, Vernon Davis cannot possibly be worse. Count on a 9 or 10 win season and the Niners will be in the playoff race most of the season before just falling short.

2. The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will completely dissolve and both miss the playoffs. OK that one isn't as much a "prediction" as a "dream scenario".

3. Alex Smith will finally shed the label of "game manager", throwing for 4000 yards (many of them to Jeremy Maclin) and cancer survivor Eric Berry will inspire the defense as the Chiefs win 11 games and win the AFC West.

4. The NFC West will reclaim it's status of "best division in football" as the Cardinals finally take that next step and win the division. The Rams will also finally make strides and win 9-10 games.

5. The Redskins are really going to regret demoting RGIII and by mid-season, when the team is 1-7 and both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have been completely ineffective, fans in DC will be clamoring for his return.

6. Andrew Luck will flirt with the NFL Record of 5,477 passing yards in a season, before falling just a couple hundred yards short of Peyton Manning's mark.


Division Winners:

AFC:
Chiefs
Steelers
Cheat-riots
Colts

NFC:
Cardinals
Saints
Packers
Cowboys

Wild Card Teams:

Broncos
Ravens

Seahawks
Giants

AFC Champion:
Colts

NFC Champion:
Packers

SuperBowl Winner:

The Green Bay Packers' defensive depth will be just enough to edge out our Colts, 38-35.

Now let's play some football!!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Vacation Blog Part V: the Voyage Home

8:08 AM - we both slept well and are up and ready to start the last day of fun and merriment before getting back to our dull, dreary and depressing lives. OK none of that is true, they just seem dreary and depressing when compared to Disneyland.

9:30 AM - we are all packed up and down to the pool to check in to our cabana. THIS is the way to end a trip! Our car service isn't picking us up until 3 PM so we have lots of time to relax and enjoy our private pool. I say "private" because there isn't anyone else in it. There are times when it becomes only "semi-private" but for the most part it's just us. Beautiful cabanas with a fridge, TV, couch, loveseat, safe and all the towels you could imagine...plus a fruit plate, water, private cabana host and private waitress. Pretty excellent service. This is going to become our new "Disneyland last day standard" for sure.

10:00 AM - breakfast at Storyteller's Cafe, the best breakfast buffet ever. They manage to do things that no other buffet can pull off, like keeping the pancakes and Eggs Benedict warm without getting crusty around the edges. Everything here is first class. I've mentioned this restaurant before, it is the one with the critter problem. At one point we have a chipmunk AND a bear at our table at the same time. Foraging for bacon I assume.

1:30 PM - our cabana rental is up (they didn't have any full day rentals available) so we change into our travel clothes and hit the lounge to have a small bite, a drink and relax before our car arrives to take us to the airport. The heat and whirlwind-style of this trip has now hit us both full force. We have some sliders and a couple diet cokes; both of us are too sleepy for wine even though they have a decent by-the-glass menu. We are both ready to tap out.

3:00 PM - I get a phone call that our car is having mechanical difficulties and they are sending a different driver who is 25 minutes away. Tracey figures they are lying and they are just running late but it doesn't really matter, we have time.

3:30 PM - a huge Escalade SUV pulls up for us. The driver is very nice and the car is new and pretty good but a far cry from the Caddy we came in on. Oh well if that's the worst thing that happens today I guess we will survive.

7:01 PM - no issues boarding the flight which actually leaves about 10 minutes early. I'm already into my second Chardonnay. God I love first class.

Sometimes today's technology can be a pain in the ass, but here I am updating my blog at 38,000 feet. That's pretty sweet.

When we land around 8:20 PM we plan to stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a couple things (to my Canadian friends, do you guys know how cheap bottled water is down here?????? Even with the shitty FX it's almost free), then stop in Sumas at our package storage facility to pick up a few spectacular bottles of wine that we had shipped up here last week to bring across with us tonight. Duty won't be zero unless the border guards are particularly kind, but it should be pretty reasonable. Anyway, assuming that nothing exciting happens between now and getting home, this will be my last post in this trip. I will update all the blog entries with the appropriate pictures and repost the links this weekend (unlike Tracey, I have to work tomorrow). Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.

UPDATE: The duty WAS zero, we got a border guard in a particularly good mood :)

Next up: 7 days on a brand new Norweigan Cruise ship Touring the Eastern Caribbean plus two weeks at a resort in Orlando. Going to be EPIC!!!!






Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Vacation blog part four!!

5:28 AM - really? REALLY?? I somehow managed to set the alarm on my phone to go off at 528??? What an asshole.

10:00 AM - well that's sleeping in. The latest I have slept in about a decade, I reckon. Not a great sleep though, and Tracey slept even worse so hopefully we can soldier on and still have a full day. It won't be quite as late a day as the parks close earlier tonight but we are viewing World of Colour at 8:15 tonight so it won't be a short day either.

Oh boy. Tracey asks me what the weather will be like today to which I respond "sunny and hot". She asks me to be a bit more specific so I pull up the forecast and notice it is ALREADY 31 degrees, on its way to 37 in a few hours. Holy shit. We are under a "severe heat advisory" today. Gulp.

We head into Disneyland to try to take advantage of a quieter day and a day that had to be devoid of school age children. If k see any kids older than 5 in the park today I am going to place them and their parents under citizen's arrest. It's just the right thing to do.

Oh, and since the park closed at Midnight last night, Hall'o'ween has arrived. The entire set of Hall'o'ween decorations went up in 9 hours. Unreal.

And OMFG it's hot and humid, it reminds me of our first trip to Florida when we could hardly stand to be outside for more than 20 minutes. Literally DRIPPING in sweat.

After a few rides including Indiana Jones, Peter Pan (which just recently re-opened after a significant remodel) and Buzz Lightyear (where Tracy beat me AGAIN!), we decided to take the Monorail out of the park and walk up Downtown Disney to do a bit more shopping; just one problem, the Monorail was shut down due to the heat!!! You know it's hot when.......

So we walk out of the park through the main gates for the last time this trip, which always brings sadness. What a great, albeit short, trip this has been. It's not over yet of course.

Doing some shopping at World of Disney and we come across a little girl (3ish) bawling and bleeding a bit from a small head wound. A manager has brought some ice for the girl but her parents are going apeshit. Dad says "where are the nurses???? If someone had a heart attack they'd be dead by now!!!!" The manager politely points out that the nurses aren't going to come running for a small wound that only requires some ice, to which the Dad starts yelling "LAWSUIT LAWSUIT!!!!" and mom pulls out her camera to take a picture of the small bump on her head. I am not making that up.

Now, full disclosure, I did not see what happened to the child, but let's assume it was not a rogue Disney employee attacking her with a baseball bat. You're really going to threaten a lawsuit because the nurses won't come running to deal with your kid's insignificant wound? They brought her ice, they are trying to help, so shut up and say "thank you", you overbearing, overprotective pricks. Oh and Dad, I can guarantee that if "someone had a heart attack" the nurses would have been there in time to help. They just didn't come running because a tiny nosebleed is a nuisance, not an injury.

Jesus, if my parents treated me like that every time I hurt myself when I was younger I would have spent my entire childhood in bubble wrap. What the Hell is wrong with parents these days???

3:30 PM - we are all parked and shopped-out for now, back to the room to rest up for our dinner and World of Colour evening.

5:15 PM - Tracey is up from a little nappin' and we are off to Wine Country Trattoria for dinner. While we are waiting we get to see the Pixar Play Parade which is exactly the same as the last couple times we saw it except that the Monsters Inc. floats morphed into Monsters University. Nice parade but it needs an upgrade, it's been around too long.

Dinner is excellent as always and we finish with lots of time before we need to get in the viewing area for WOC. Seated next to us is the most adorable infant who keeps trying to play peek-a-boo with Tracey.

We head over to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid which is an underrated ride and also it is VERY COOL inside which is a bonus as it's still crazy hot out. Right after the ride we notice that a line is starting to form to get into our VIP viewing area for the show so we head over there and soon head inside to secure our places for the show. I am peeved to discover that some people are allowed into a special place where they get to sit while we have to stand. Tracey points out that they are in wheelchairs. Damn, first all the good parking spaces and now this? They get all the breaks.

7:30 PM - sitting down waiting for the show writing the blog and I notice that my feet have both fallen asleep. I may have to get up now which is considerably easier said than done. Pretty close to falling into the water.

Looking around I notice how gorgeous it is here when the sun goes down. The lights are spectacular.

8:15 PM - the new World Of Colour show begins and Tracey and I stand in awe for half an hour. It's inconceivable to suggest that they managed to surpass the old show that was close to perfect as it was. The other show was a celebration of Disney animation, mostly, and this was was more of a celebration of Disneyland and Walt Disney himself. Breathtaking doesn't do it justice.

And oh, it also contains a long tribute to Disney's latest cash cow, Frozen, which actually gave me goosebumps. And let's not forget some scenes from their next big thing, Star Wars Episode VII. I have three words for you:

"Chewie, we're home."

Tracey, we're home. And I wish we never ever had to leave.

Tomorrow, a relaxing pool day and hopefully an on-time First Class flight back home. There are worse ways to leave the Happiest Place on Earth.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Vacation Blog Part Three!!!


8:30 AM - now that's a decent night of sleep. A good solid 8 hours with little to no wake-ups during the night. I have a severe case of sleep apnea so sleeping well is quite an achievement for me. I wouldn't go so far as to say I woke up "refreshed" this morning (let's not go nuts) but this is probably as close as I've been in a couple years.

The wife is still asleep and she can stay that way for as long as she likes. Today we have lots to accomplish again but she might as well be rested while we attack DCA.

As I'm sitting on the patio typing this, I hear the toilet flush. Vacation bear is out of hibernation and "The Process (TM)" can begin! The parks are supposed to be very quiet today so hopefully we can get all of DCA done today before we have to be back in our room around 5:30 to prepare for our Fantasy Football draft which starts at 6.

9:30 AM - we are out and on our way back to La Brea for breakfast where we both order exactly the same thing as yesterday. Given the myriad of excellent dining opportunities here you know it must be good if we are doubling up.

After breakfast we head through the front gates of DCA and right over to Soarin' to get a Fastpass before heading over to Screamin' and Toy Story. Screamin' is my favourite coaster anywhere. It's just extreme enough to be thrilling but not so crazy that it makes this old fart dizzy or nauseous. And once again I need to mention that Disney just "gets it" when it comes to wait times. The posted 30 minute wait at Screamin' was about 15 and Toy Story's 45 minute wait was maybe half that. Unlike some theme parks COUGH UNIVERSAL COUGH where a 45 minute posted wait time really means "come back tomorrow", Disney understand the principal of under promising and over delivering. Don't tell your boss or client you can have something to them by noon if you are going to struggle to get it done! Tell them they'll have it by 3 and then when they get it at 1:30 they are thrilled. Common sense.

On the way over to Screamin', we notice that the Fastpass return time for Radiator Springs Racers is already between 9 and 10 pm, which is actually perfect for us as we are having dinner tonight at 8 at the Carthay Circle. We already have Fastpasses for Soarin' though so we can't get another Fastpass until 12:15 which is a bit of a problem. When we share our conundrum with a cast member near the Fastpass area, he promptly goes and gets us two Fastpasses for the ride! Just another example of perfect service here in Disneyland.

After Tracey beats me at Toy Story (an appeal is pending) we walk down the boardwalk where I finally find my new Iphone case, featuring everyone's favourite snowman, Olaf (sorry Frosty). I came here with a broken case expecting to have no trouble finding something cool but it was tough to find a good case for the 5S. I was looking for Jack Skellington but nothing to be found, so Olaf to the rescue.

12:30 PM - on the way to use our Fastpasses for Soarin' we notice that the return time for the Grizzly Rapids inner tube ride is between 4:15 and 5:15 which is also perfect for our timing today as that is just before we would be leaving the park anyway to head back to the room, so since its past the start time for our Soarin' passes we are able to get two more passes for this ride. The first time in my Disney life that I've ever been holding three Fastpasses at once.

We enjoy this version of Soarin' for likely the last time ever as they are changing the movie in the next year to be Soaring Over The World, with better sound and graphics. I'll miss this California based movie though but we are looking forward to the new one. Maybe it will be open in Florida by March.

After a little shopping and picture taking we are hitting a wall of extreme heat. It's crazy hot again today, hotter than we were expecting, so it's time for a bit of down time.

2:30 PM - back in the room to relax for an hour or so until we go back to use our Fastpasses for Grizzly River Rapids. If anyone ever wonders why we always pay the absurd prices to stay here and why we would NEVER dream of staying off-property, this is exactly why. A crazy hot day, 5 hours in the park, we need a short break. We stop at Haagen Dazs again for lunch (as Tracey says, why fuck with perfection???) and head up to the room for a very quick rest. Try doing THAT while staying offsite. It's just not practical.

5:00 PM - back in the room after successfully navigating the Grizzly River Rapids and getting modestly soaked, but not completely drenched. Not that it matters, this is another reason why we stay here....go down to the park in my swimming trunks, sandals and tank top, and get as wet as I get and don't care. No worries about having to walk around the park in squishy shoes or drenched jeans....Tracey calls us "Disney professionals" LOL.

And we get back to the room to this:




Our new Mickey Mouse wine glasses with some of that lovely Oregon Pinot that we picked up at Seatac. Tracey takes her wine into the bath while I update the blog, while we wait for our 6 PM date with Fantasy Football greatness to begin. I log into the app and notice that I pick second to last, and Tracey just one spot in front of me. PFFFFT.

7:50 PM - back to DCA for our reservation at Carthay Circle restaurant. Another fabulous dining experience. We have a terrific waiter, the food is incredible and we have a world class bottle of wine to accompany it. Awesome.

After dinner off to Cars Land to use the Fastpasses we were so generously given this morning. It's a really terrific ride, maybe even better when it's dark. The scenery is breathtaking. We win the race, again. I'm not sure how many times I've been on this ride, 6 or 7, but I'm undefeated which means I'm bucking the odds quite a bit...given my assumption that the ending of the "race" is random. Not that it matters but winning is better than losing at ANYTHING :)

DCA closes at 10 PM tonight so we head across the courtyard to Disneyland to hopefully knock one or two more rides off the list, but everyone else had the same idea and it's really busy. We only manage to get on a few rides that are, well, aimed at a less mature audience. Alice in Wonderland, Mr Toad's Wild Ride (not that wild even with Tracey driving), Pinocchio's Daring Journey (not that daring) and Snow White's Scary Adventures. Scary? Well if you don't know the plot of the movie, I'd say it is. The last scene in the ride shows the witch at the top of a hill about to unleash a boulder onto the 7 dwarves. Then you go through a door and a sign says "...and they lived happily ever after". WOAH. IF I'd never seen the movie I'd be pretty sure at this point that the witch was the hero of the story and had vanquished those pesky little people by crushing them with a rock. Go witch!!


11:30 PM - back to the room as we are exhausted after another full day. Tomorrow is already the last full day of our vacation (WTF??????) so we have to make the most of it!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Vacation Blog Part Two!

7:00 AM - HELL NO I AM NOT GETTING UP AT 7 on vacation!!!!!

9:30 AM- much better. I'm actually awakened by the maid knocking as we forgot to put the "privacy" sign on the door last night. That works out pretty good though as its time to get started anyway, lots to accomplish today. I carefully and gently poke the bear with a long stick to wake her up. Despite not getting a great deal of sleep, she awakes in a terrific mood. I ask her how we can arrange that mood every morning and her answer is "move us to Disneyland"! Fair enough.

I walk down to La Brea Bakery to pick up breakfast while Tracey hops into the shower and gets ready for the day. I get a couple of croissant breakfast sandwiches which are just amazing. They are so filling I can barely finish. Outstanding.

As I'm walking to and from the bakery I pass by a bunch of runners who finished today's half marathon. Never seen so many fit people in Disneyland before. Or anywhere in this country for that matter. Many of them are dressed in traditional running gear but many of them ran in Disney costumes, which is pretty cute. Must be hot in them though, especially for the guy that ran in the full-length Winnie the Pooh costume. OK I probably made that part up.

10:50 AM - off to Disneyland where we manage to finish off just about everything we want to accomplish in Frontierland and Adventureland in a few hours. It's not that busy in the morning but starts to get crazy as the afternoon starts to pass.

Of course, we keep with tradition and make Pirates of the Caribbean our first ride. We do Big Thunder Mountain, Winnie the Pooh and Splash Mountain, get wet (but not totally soaked) and then hop onto the railroad to take us to the front gates where we exit and head back to the room to change into our bathing suits to spend a bit of time at the pool before it's time to get ready for dinner.

Oh, and I thought I'd seen everything here, but this was a first for us: a cat. Not an animatronics cat, an actual living, breathing domestic cat, hanging out in the shade under a tree in the lineup for Big Thunder Mountain. I've named him "Thunder". It's crazy hot today, about 33 Celsius, so he's pretty lethargic and not moving much, but he pops his head up a couple times as if to say "could you people please shut up? I'm trying to sleep over here!!"

On our way back we stop for lunch and when I say "lunch" I mean Haagan Dazs ice cream. No judgement dammit I'm on vacation.

2:30 PM - we get to the pool and it's crazy busy, nowhere to sit at all, so we put our stuff down on the ground and hop into the pool for a quick swim and then give up. We will come back at some point during the next couple days, when everyone goes home. The next two days are supposed to be two of the quietest days of the entire year.

3:30 PM - back up in the room to relax for an hour or so before our dinner at the Chef's counter at Napa Rose. Very exciting. We actually wanted to do this last year when we were here celebrating our 10th wedding Anniversary but it just so happened that the restaurant was closed for upgrades that week. They have a food and wine pairing menu that they will customize for us based on our likes and dislikes, sort of a poor man's version of the incredible meal we had at Victoria & Albert's in the Grand Floridian Hotel a couple years back.

5:30 PM - We get seated promptly at the pastry portion of the Chef's counter. In other words we get to sit here and watch Chelsea, our resident pasty chef, make dessert right in front of us all night. Watching these delicious concoctions being created right in front of our eyes made us even hungrier than we already were; good thing we were about to embark on a 5-course wine and food pairing unlike anything we have ever experienced West of Florida.

Chelsea, and the view from our table.

Let me just say that the entire meal was absolutely spectacular. As our servers brought us each course they explained what was in every dish, but a couple of the servers had thick accents so we didn't get every detail. What I do know is that I ate octopus and lived to tell the tale. the wine that they served me was also fantastic. Tracey wasn't quite as lucky as her wine wasn't always to her exact tastes but it did pair well with her food. Having said that, the wine was all top-notch. A definite must-do experience for future trips!!

Here are pictures of most of the food.

My first course, a 'salad' with spicy beef underneath and tempura lobster.

Tracey's first course, heirloom tomato salad

My second course, a bunch of seafood including (somewhere in there) octopus.

Tracey's second course, pheasant and gnocchi with a jus

My third course, a perfectly seasoned rib eye

Tracey's dessert, peanut butter and chocolate cake with banana.

My dessert, chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow and ice cream


8:30 PM - three hours later we finished up and headed back to the room to change into more casual clothes. Back to Disneyland to catch the nighttime fireworks and parade. Both shows are new and exclusive to the 60th Anniversary so that is exactly what we are here to see.

Both shows are very good and quite different than what we have seen before. Again I will post pictures once we are home and can get everything uploaded. They did an excellent job at incorporating some stuff that they've never featured in their previous fireworks shows, like Winnie the Pooh and Frozen. And yes, they played THAT song. Boy that Adell Nazeem sure can sing.

11:30 PM - back in the room and about 10 seconds from collapsing from sheer exhaustion. Oh what a great day. And tomorrow will certainly be another one.

Vacation Blog, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi-toy-buying-nerds

Saturday, September 5th

9:30 AM - in the car and ready for our whirlwind 5-day trip to Disneyland to celebrate their 60th Anniversary! No hurry to get to Seatac for our 2:55 pm flight into Ontario airport but better safe than sorry, so we are giving ourselves lots of time and are planning to have a relaxing lunch. We have no idea just HOW relaxing the lunch is going to be......

On the way to Seattle I get a message saying our flight is going to be delayed, now leaving at 3:26 PM. Now we have even more time to relax.

12:15 PM - we arrive at Seatac with lots of time to spare. Little traffic on the I-5 today. We park in the best spot in the house, get through security in about 30 seconds, and head towards the gates where we are expecting to have lunch. In this day and age of Nexus and TSA pre-check travelling is really so easy for us, but it's still a relief once all the checks are over. You never know what's going to happen.

As we walk towards the restaurant area my eagle-eyed wife spots a place called "Vino Volo". A wine bar in an airport and we just happen to have a couple hours before our flight? YES PLEASE!!!!!!

For you wine lovers I will have a full tasting report in the wine blog once we get home, but it was a terrific experience. We had tastes of 7 different wines including 3 big Washington reds, 3 Oregon Pinots and a Gruner Veltliner from Washington, and all were lovely. We also enjoyed a very nice charcuterie plate, and bought a bottle of one of the Oregon Pinots ($55) and our entire bill including tip was only $140! What an absolutely fabulous way to start the trip. And we discovered that they are a chain in many airports, including YVR, so when we fly from YVR to Florida in March we have an excuse to go early!!  Well now that I think about it our flight leaves at 6AM so that might not work out so well.

2:30 PM - we get to the gate a few minutes before we start boarding. No first class seats available on this flight but we did upgrade to "preferred seating" (exit row) so we will be boarding before the general boarding call.

2:55 PM - boarding begins.

2:55:45 PM - notsofast. The pilot calls through to stop the boarding. Turns out there is a problem with a circuit breaker and maintenance is in the cockpit. Going to be about a half hour until they have any kind of timeframe for us.

3:40 PM - electrical problem is fixed and we board. It sucks losing an hour of our vacation but we can't complain much at this point, sitting next to us is a young Army Private who is going home for the first time in 9 months and only has 36 hours to visit with his family. Due to one of his co-workers being 6 hours late to relieve him he has already missed one flight and is now delayed another hour. Poor guy is hardly going to have any time to visit.

And the news just gets worse, as right after we pull away from the gate, the pilot sees another unrelated electrical problem and brings us back to the gate. After a couple minutes of waiting we are told they have another plane for us, thank God, so we de-plane and take a long walk and shuttle ride to another part of the airport to get on a plane that actually works. We hope.

We have dinner reservations at Catal for 730, which ain't going to happen, so I call and change them to 8:30. The Army Private is less than pleased, I see him start a text with "MOTHER FU****", but he didn't use the asterisks.

The plane does take off and we have an uneventful flight. They area buying the first drink for everyone due to the inconvenience. We actually get two since we apparantly get a feed cocktail anyway for the upgraded seats. Tracey has Bailey's and I have a reasonably decent Sauvignon Blanc. Hey, for airplane wine, it's not bad at all.

7:55 PM - we finally land in Ontario and our driver is waiting for us. He was aware that the flight had been delayed but had been at the airport for hours anyway. Poor guy. Anyway we get our luggage and he escorts us to his car, a nice Mercedes. I joke that this brand new Mercedes was the best he could do? My wife rolls her eyes and pints out to me that it's actually a Cadillac. Duh. What can I say, from time to time I catch the dumb.

8:45 PM - after a very comfortable ride we arrive at the Grand Californian Hotel, perhaps our favourite place on the planet. We have a regular room this time, which is unusual for us, we always pay extra for a view of Downtown Disney. My thinking is that if you are willing to pay the absurd prices to stay here, you might as well pay absurd+$100 and get the great view too. We are here at the wrong weekend for that though, as there is a Disney Marathon going on this weekend and it is one of the busiest weekends of the year so we are actually pretty damn lucky we got a room at all. The hotel is totally sold out.

The advantage of arriving close to 9PM is that there is nobody else checking in so we are done in minutes, take our stuff to the room and head to Catal for our late dinner reservations. It's somewhat busy considering the time of night, but we get lucky and get seated at the best table in the joint, right against the railing overlooking Downtown Disney. Someone below us is performing the Beatles classic "Something". Minutes later, the fireworks start and we have a great view. This day started great and is ending great.

The food here is always excellent, in fact the last time we were here Tracey had a risotto dish that was the best we had ever tasted. In fact we ate here twice that trip and the second time we BOTH ordered the risotto....so you can imagine our disappointment when the mushroom risotto that Tracey ordered was probably the WORST risotto we have ever had! It was so bad she sent it back and we never do that. They were happy to replace it without any trouble however and her replacement dish, a carbonara pasta, was excellent, as was my prime rib. Both dishes went nicely with the bottle of wine we ordered, a 2005 Tempranillo/Graciano blend from the Rioja region of Spain. It was a good bottle but not that special.

After dinner we head to World of Disney and do a little shopping before heading up to the room to unpack and hit the sack. It's been a long day and we both went head first into a large wall right as we got up to the room. We are both asleep within minutes of getting into bed. We know this trip is going to be fun but we have a lot to cram into a few days do we are going to be hitting it HARD, especially for a couple of old people!!!!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Goodbye Hot Rod.....you will be missed.

Today the world of entertainment lost one of it's giants; not literally, of course. In fact, in the world of Professional Wrestling, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper wasn't anything resembling a "giant". He was of average height (just 6'0") and weight, not in particularly great shape, and in fact, wasn't even a very good wrestler.


But, oh, could he talk.

About six weeks ago, the world of pro wrestling lost another legend who could be compared to Piper in many ways. Sure the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes was a couple inches taller than Piper, and a lot heavier, but nobody would ever have confused either of these men of being great "wrestlers".

But, oh, could HE talk.

Rhodes' death hit me hard. Way harder than I would have expected, given that I was never much of a fan of his. I was late to the "pro wrestling" party. I didn't watch wrestling when it was hitting it's peak in the early 1980's, and when I did start watching, it was WWF only. Rhodes was a longtime NWA/WCW guy, and I had never, until very recently, seen any of his classic matches against the likes of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard or Harley Race. When he did finally come to the WWF, he was given a ridiculous gimmick of a buffoon in polka dots. He even made that work.


He was a classic "good guy". Fans loved him but I never got it; I don't think I ever cheered for him once. He was always in a feud with one of my favorite "heels"...whether it be The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Mr. Perfect, or Randy "Macho Man" Savage, I was always cheering against Rhodes. So why did his death hit me so hard?

I felt the grief; not my own grief, but the grief of everyone who ever knew him. This man was loved and revered by all. Social media absolutely blew up with condolences and sadness when word of his passing leaked out. Everyone who ever came into contact with him, even years ago, had nice words to say about him. The WWE, with whom he was still working as a trainer at their NXT facilities (where the stars of tomorrow are honing their craft), put on hours of tribute programming for him. It was SO upsetting, not because of my own personal experiences with the Dream, but because my heart ached for those who knew and loved him - including all the current wrestlers in WWE and NXT - and especially for two of those performers, his two sons Cody Rhodes (Stardust) and Dustin Runnels (Goldust). I never met the man born Virgil Riley Runnels Jr, and I never cheered for him, but I'll miss him forever.

And here we stand, just six weeks later, and we are about to experience it all again. Roddy Piper was another one of those universally loved legends. Check out Twitter today; every WWE Superstar, past and present, saying about the same thing: Roddy Piper was a legend in the ring, but more importantly, a great human being and family man out of it. The grief is palpable. Because Piper crossed over into a couple of mostly-forgettable mainstream films (although "They Live" is considered a cult classic by many), even the world of Hollywood is offering their condolences. Piper transcended wrestling. He was an entertainer.

Piper wasn't working with WWE much these days. Outside of a few random appearances, he had pretty much faded into the background....but I would imagine we are going to be able to watch quite a tribute on Monday Night RAW. And every other WWE programming this week, and the WWE network, and everywhere else.

Nobody could cut promos like these gentlemen.






They brought us in, made us love or hate them, and most importantly, made us watch. Every week, every Pay-Per-View, every time we knew they were performing. It wasn't about title matches: although Rhodes was a three-time NWA Heavyweight Champion, that was many years before I knew him. He never got near a title in the WWF. Piper was never World Heavyweight Champion, settling for only one short run with the WWF Intercontinental Championship around his waist. No, it wasn't about titles, it was just about entertainment, and few did it any better than these gentlemen.

Roddy Piper, born Roderick George Tooms, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, passed away last night in his sleep of an apparent heart attack. He was only 61.

Just when you think you know the answers, he changes the question.

Rest in peace, Hot Rod. Tell the Dream we said "hello".

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Stanley Cup Finals!!!

When the playoffs began, I predicted the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Stanley Cup in a 7-game series over the Chicago Blackhawks. After getting 12/14 series correct, and correctly predicting the Stanley Cup Finals participants, I'd say I've had a fairly good spring so far.

Obviously, I have no reason to change my prediction now. Lightning in 7.

Should be a great series, I just wish it started before Wednesday....and game 2 not until Saturday? Good grief, the schedule for this series sucks.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Achtung, Baby!! The World's Greatest Rock Band Is In The House.....

U2. The second show of their Innocence and Experience World Tour.

After a nice dinner we arrive at our seats and are thrilled to find that there is nobody sitting behind us.

We are NOT so thrilled that the reason nobody is sitting behind us is because there are no seats behind us. We are in the last freaking row!!! Wow.


I'm up so high I keep looking around for a stewardess.

My buddy, who is sitting in really good seats, is merciless with his taunting when he finds out where we are sitting.

"I'll send a Sherpa up to find you"

"I can't believe you get cell reception up there"

"I've never had any poor friends before"

I can't even give him grief, because if the situations were reversed I'd be saying exactly the same things.

He was also at last night's opening show and he does say that the show itself is so huge it fills up the entire arena. It better. I warn him that the sound may take so long to get up here that we may be a couple of songs behind, so please, no spoilers.

The show, scheduled for 7:30, doesn't start until around 8:45. The restless crowd starts doing "the wave". Yes, the wave.

BTW I posted that statement on Facebook at the time, and I'm sure glad I did. More on that later.

The show starts off with a bang and the band's biggest hit off their new album, The Miracle (of Joey Ramone). The crowd is electric, and so is their huge screen. If you look at the picture above, rather than one of those screens behind the band that everyone uses, they have a screen that runs horizontally the entire length of the arena. It is right above the walkway that they use to go back and forth between the main stage and the circular auxiliary stage at the right end of the picture. The show really is huge, and the sound is also excellent, even in row 845. By the time the second set starts with Invisible, I've almost forgotten how far away I am.

Seriously, the last time I was sitting in front of a wall was the early 80's, at the Pacific Coliseum, having coke thrown at my head as the Flames kicked the extra point to go up 7-0 on the hapless Canucks.

The last concert I was at where I was up this high was November 12, 1987, at BC Place. The band, coincidentally, was U2. Man how far technology has come; although that was a good show, the acoustics of BC Place were so bad you couldn't hear anything, couldn't see anything, it was almost like being at home on my couch listening to scratched records.

Kids, ask your parents what "records" are.

It is at this point in our story where the dark clouds part (and being up this high, we have no trouble seeing dark clouds), as my wonderful, awesome brother-in-law (I'm forgiving his supporting of the Canucks and Seahawks for one month) sees my Facebook text and invites us down from the Heavens into his suite!! Woo-hoo! Oh man, what an upgrade.

Now that we've arrived in the suite, we can confirm that it actually IS U2 playing, not some band of impostors. I need to sit down for a minute, as a trek from that altitude can mess with your head.

Now we have great seats, a little bit of wine, and shrimp. Coconut shrimp.

So. Much. Coconut. Shrimp.

I'm delighted that they launch into "Angel of Harlem", one of my favorites, and one that they did not play last night. And it got even better right after that, as Bono paid tribute to the one and only legendary B.B. King, who passed away earlier today, in the only way a rock and roll band knows how to pay tribute: through song.

When Love Comes to Town, the duet that the band had done with King on their 1988 Rattle and Hum album and documentary. The first live performance of this song by the band since 1993. Just awesome.



The show continued with hit after hit, finally finishing up the encore with perhaps their biggest hit ever, "One". Interestingly enough, they didn't play "One" at last night's show, which was the first full concert since 1990 that they had skipped it.

You could make a Hall of Fame level album with the amazing songs they did NOT play last night, but when you go to see a band that has been dominating the charts since around 1980, you have to expect that.

Oh, and when we got to the suite, there were three young girls in the row directly in front of us, dancing around like lunatics, singing along with every lyric. I'd say they were around 11, maybe 12 years old. I mention this because it's nice to see that in this day and age of horrible boy bands (One Direction), talentless assclowns (Pitbull, Chris Brown) and horrible hip-hop artists (basically all of them), some young people can still appreciate what great music really is.

What a show.

Here is a link to the entire set list.





Wednesday, 13 May 2015

NHL Playoffs, Round 3

Well I'm having a pretty good year in the predictions department, going 3/4 in the second round. Of course, since the one I missed was my beloved Flames, it really doesn't feel as good as it could.

10/12 in the first two rounds so far. Here we go:

Eastern Conference Finals

Tampa Bay over NY Rangers in 6

Gotta stick with my pre-playoffs pick to win it all, and Tampa Bay looked much better in beating Montreal than they did in the first round, so it seems like they are trending in the right direction. The Rangers will live and die with Henrik Lundqvist, and he's a pretty good guy to hang your hat on. I'm expecting a long series and the Lightning to prevail at home in Game 6.


Western Conference Finals

Chicago over Anaheim in 5

Honestly the Ducks don't impress me the way they do some; certainly Getlaf and Perry are top notch players but after that, their depth can't even come close to the Blackhawks. You can stop Kane and Toews? How about Hossa? Saad? Sharp? Etc etc etc.

If they can sweep the Wild, they can sweep this team too, but I'll give the Ducks a shot at one win.


Thursday, 30 April 2015

NHL Playoffs, Round 2

I had a pretty good Round 1, going 7/8, the only blemish being the Islanders losing Game 7 to the Capitals. Let's see what happens in Round 2:

Calgary over Anaheim in 6

I'm honestly pretty skeptical about this one, as I believe the injuries to the Flames' defense has to catch up to them at some point, but I will stick to my original prediction that the Flames would make it to the Conference Finals before losing to....

Chicago over Minnesota in 5

Devan Dubnyk? OK I don't believe anymore. Yes I do, actually, but the Hawks are just too good. I think.

NY Rangers over Washington in 5

As I'm typing this the Rangers have already lost Game 1 but I made these predictions before that so I'm sticking with them. Not crazy about my chances at this point.

Tampa Bay over Montreal in 7

Another one I'm not totally convinced on, but I picked the Lightning to win it all before the playoffs began and I'm sticking to it. They found a way to beat the plucky Red Wings without any contributions from Steven Stamkos. I'm guessing he will contribute in this round.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

And away we go....NHL Playoffs, round 1

Well it has been an up and down season for my NHL teams! More down that up, of course, as 4 of the 5 of them are yelling "FORE" right about now. Quite a shock that the only one still alive is the only one I predicted not to make it: my beloved Calgary Flames.

And as if that wasn't enough, they drew a dream first round matchup. Now before the Canucks fans reading this chuckle as if I'm just taking another shot at a team I despise, ask yourself this question: If YOU were a Flames fan, who (of the teams they could have legitimately faced) would you want them to be playing in Round 1? Anaheim? Chicago? St. Louis?

Or Vancouver?

Right.

Can't wait for this series. Yes, I wish the Flames were completely healthy, but we have survived with huge injuries most of the season (although I think we may find out just how important Lance Bouma is during his absence from these playoffs) so we can certainly make it through a round without him.

So here we are, my predictions for Round 1

WEST

Calgary over Vancouver in 5

The Flames lead in every meaningful statistical category (although all are close) and despite the injuries, should really have no trouble here. Sometimes Cinderella shows up to the ball and f'n dominates it....

Anaheim over Winnipeg in 5

.....and sometime Cinderella shows up late, falls down the stairs and rips her dress. I've said it all along, the Jets roster isn't a playoff team (I predicted them last overall in the pre-season) and although I think the Ducks are vulnerable in some ways, not to these guys.

Having said that, Ondrej Pavelec hasn't allowed a goal since Nixon was re-elected, so if he keeps that up, it will be tough to beat them. I'm saying he won't.

Minnesota over St. Louis in 6

Devan Dubnyk? Really? OK, OK, I've seen enough, I believe. The Blues are a stacked team but Minnesota has been great since Mike Yeo's infamous practice-meltdown and I think they pull off the mild upset here.

Chicago over Nashville in 5

Yeah Pekka Rinne is great, but Chicago just has too many weapons and the news that Patrick Kane is going to play in Game 1, about 4-5 weeks before expected, tips the scales way in their favor.

EAST

Montreal over Ottawa in 5

This was the nightmare matchup for Ottawa; they only way they can beat anyone is to out-goaltend them. Can the Hamburgler do that to Carey Price, the consensus league MVP? No way.

Tampa Bay over Detroit in 6

Here is my bold prediction: whomever wins this series wins the Stanley Cup. Detroit is well balanced, well coached, and features two series-changing forwards in Datsyuk and Zetterberg. However, Tampa Bay is a firepower machine, the highest scoring team in the regular season, and it would take Herculean goaltending from Mrazek or Howard to steal this one, methinks.

NY Rangers over Pittsburgh in 5

How can a team with Crosby and Malkin be THIS big an underdog to anyone? Well, have you seen their injury-ravaged defense? Word has it they reached out to Paul Coffey to comeback to help them out. King Henrik may not be quite back to pre-injury form yet, but in this series he probably won't have to be.

NY Islanders over Washington in 7

This should be a great series and could go either way, but I think the Islanders time is now. Washington really has a big statistical advantage, particularly in goals against, but I'm going to call this series the official coming out party for John Tavares.


So what happens next? My Flames make it to the Western Conference Finals before being dispatched by the Hawks, who come within a hair of winning another Stanley Cup, losing in 7 games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa's goaltender, Ben Bishop, wins the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

So now you know. Go out and bet the other way.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Vancouver Canucks, their fans, and something that actually matters

Last evening, I had the good fortune of attending Rogers Arena, for a contest between the Vancouver Canucks and a team that actually doesn't make me want to puke, the Los Angeles Kings. While there, I was reminded of the immortal words of the great Denis Lemieux:

(in strong French accent)



"My h-allergy....to these fucking fans.....has returned."

While standing outside the arena in my Kings jersey and hat, minding my own business, having said absolutely NOTHING to any of the passing Canucks fans, waiting for my buddy who had the tickets, I was approached by a young C-U-Next-Tuesday who told me how ugly I was. Yes, how ugly *I* was. Not the jersey I was wearing was ugly (well, that too), but *I* was ugly for wearing a Kings jersey.

Now, you would have had to see her to really understand how ironic that comment was. She was wearing a blue T-shirt that said "STAY CALM AND BO HORVAT". I kid you not. You can't make that kind of shit up. STAY CALM AND BO HORVAT. Holy shit. If that wasn't enough, her boyfriend, who was at least smart enough not to chime in and make it worse, was wearing a Todd Bertuzzi jersey; and not just ANY Bertuzzi jersey, one of these monstrosities:

Yeah, MY jersey was ugly.

 I have admitted many times that when I go to Rogers Arena, which isn't that often, one of my truly great pleasures is tormenting Canucks fans as much as I possibly can. If I can lessen their enjoyment of a hockey game to any degree, I feel like I have achieved greatness.

But WHY do I feel that way? Well, the little bitch mentioned above is a pretty good example of my experience with these people. But it is SO much more than that. 

I say "FUCK YOU", to the Canucks fan who threw a full pop at me, missing my head by about a half inch, spraying pop on the wall behind me in (around) 1982. I was twelve years old, and not doing anything but cheering on my beloved Calgary Flames who were kicking the crap out of the hapless Canucks.

I say "FUCK YOU" to the asshole who threw a hot dog in my face, spilling mustard on my jersey, around the same time period. A security guard, upon being called by a nice lady, told me I DESERVED that treatment for wearing a Flames jersey into the Pacific Coliseum. Man, did I ever have nerve. This security guard removed the offending dog-tosser, but rather than remove him from the building, simply relocated him to another section. FUCK YOU, Mr. rent-a-cop.

I say "FUCK YOU" to the guy who dumped half a beer on my head, ruining my favorite Flames hat and staining another jersey.

All of these things, and a few other random threats of violence, happened to me before I was old enough to drive. Gee, I WONDER why I am predisposed to hate Canucks fans?

A handful of years ago, I bought two sets of Canucks tickets and presented them to my wife, who was a Canucks fan at the time, for Xmas. I intentionally bought tickets to games featuring teams I did not care about, Columbus and Minnesota, so as to avoid any potential conflict or incident. We were excited to get to the game against Columbus. We had great seats. Sitting about 5 rows behind us were two assholes who showed up for the game completely hammered, proceeded to get up and get as much beer as they could legally acquire, and generally make complete asses of themselves for the first half of the first period. They were so loud, obnoxious and lewd, that a young lady who had brought a very young child to the game (don't get me started on why you'd bring a baby to a hockey game) got up and left before the first period was over. I called security over and said something, and these two idiots decided they were now going to spend the entire last two periods yelling at ME, hurling insults and chanting obscenities at me. Remember, as far as they knew, I was a Canucks fan, I wasn't cheering for Columbus and had not been remotely obnoxious. Needless to say, we ended up giving away the other tickets and my wife has never been back to a Canucks game. In fact, she is not even a Canucks fan anymore (thank Heaven for small favors). To those assholes, I say FUCK YOU.

A couple years after that, I went to a Canucks/Flames game in my Iginla jersey. The Canucks opened up an early 2-0 lead, and the two jackasses sitting directly behind me decided it would be a good idea to lean down to within about a half inch of my ear, and YELL insults into my ear because I had the nerve to show up in a Flames jersey. Keep in mind it was 2-0 Canucks, I had not said a word to them, I had not engaged them at all, I had not cheered, I had done nothing except show up in an Iginla jersey. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed tormenting them the rest of the game as the Flames came back, and when Iginla scored the game winner in the third period, it's amazing how quiet they suddenly got. To them, I say FUCK YOU. Actually, I already said that to them in person, while showing them the middle finger on each hand. But just for posterity's sake, FUCK YOU.

The other day, I made a comment on Twitter about something stupid that Alexandre Burrows had done. One fine gentleman responded to my criticism with this gem of wisdom: "Your mother is a cunt whore".

Hmm. Well, I'm pretty sure she isn't, sir, but I'll look into that for you. And even if she IS, how does that have anything to do with Alex "I'm going to bite you" Burrows??

And let's face it, I'm not the only one to suffer abuse from Canucks fans. It's well documented that during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the elderly grandparents of Bruins player Milan Lucic were verbally harassed and pelted with peanuts. Very nice. FUCK YOU.

Any time that I mention this, I am inevitably told "oh well, that's just a few bad eggs, every fan base has those". Maybe. But this is not a "FEW" bad eggs. It's a prevailing problem in this fan base; in this city. 

Quick Jeopardy question: "The only city in North America that has seen TWO riots at the end of a major sports championship".

"What is Vancouver, Alex".

Yeah, that's just a few bad eggs. Those eggs multiplied into a riot. Twice. TWICE.

I lived in Calgary for three years. I went to many Flames games, and there were plenty of visiting fans, particularly Oilers and Canucks. Although I was never excited to see visiting fans in the Saddledome, I always treated them with respect, and so do the other Flames fans. I never saw one fight in the stands in three years. NOT ONE FIGHT. 

Of course, we all remember the spring of 2004, when the Flames came so close to winning the Stanley Cup, falling in game 7 in Tampa Bay. The Flames fans created quite a bit of controversy, setting the city ablaze, turning over police cars, beating up anyone in a visiting jers.....wait, what's that? They didn't do ANY of that? So what was the big controversy?

Oh yeah, a bunch of young girls flooded the Red Mile and flashed their tits. Oh, those crazy Flames fans.

I've been to games in Anaheim and Los Angeles, in visiting jerseys. Always treated with respect. OK my wife may disagree with that last statement, as the Kings mascot Bailey did wipe his ass and tail on her Canucks jersey, but if being playfully mocked by the team mascot is the worst thing that happens to you in a visiting arena, I think you've done OK.

I enjoy playful banter with Canucks fans (or fans of any opposing team). Just last night, standing in line at a concession, we made conversation with a 20-something girl in a Vancouver Millionaires hat and her boyfriend who were in front of us in line. They respectfully commented on my jersey and hat, I retorted back, and all was good. He was wearing a Burrows jersey so I was careful not to get my fingers anywhere near his mouth, but I digress. As they left I smiled at her and told her to "enjoy your game". Clearly, classy Canucks fans exist. But I can honestly say that I could count the number of positive experiences I've had with them on one hand, and have some fingers left over to make obscene gestures with.

Last night, the Kings opened the scoring just over one minute into the game. I stood up and clapped, as did many other Kings fans. It's possible that I might have yelled something along the lines of "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?!?!?!", but c'mon, that's an old joke. Seriously, that was the only remotely obnoxious thing I did all night. When Henrik Sedin was given a video tribute for scoring his 700th NHL assist, I stood up, dropped my pants and mooned the little Swedish bitch.

No, of COURSE I didn't, I stood and gave him the ovation he deserved. What a player. 

I'm not asking for credit for applauding him, just providing some context; there was little reason for anyone to be mad at me for anything I had done that night. 

After the Canucks had won the shootout, my friend and I walked up the stairs to the exit, where a drunken behemoth decided that it was a good time for him to shoulder-chuck me, while screaming "WOOOOOOOOOOO" about a half inch from my face. He did it twice, and twice I responded by shoving him back and telling him to keep his fucking hands off me. I honestly don't know what prevented this into turning into a brawl, and part of me honestly regrets that he backed off because sending a Canucks fan to the hospital would have crossed one thing off my bucket list. Still, cooler heads prevailed and I made my way out of the arena, and that was that. Honestly, this is probably the incident that prompted this blog post. I likely would have overlooked the incident with the Bo Whore-Vat from before the game. But this is the type of thing that so many Canucks fans think is acceptable. A guy who he's never met, who he has had zero interaction with, who has the unmitigated gall to wear a jersey of another team to a hockey game, he deserves to be assaulted. FUCK YOU.

Do I hate the Canucks? Difficult question to answer. I would probably say "yes", if I had to answer the question, but with a lot of reservation.

I don't even hate all the Canucks players, or members of their organization. How could anyone not respect Trevor Linden or the Sedins? Mattias Ohlund? Markus Naslund? It doesn't matter what jersey you wear, or wore. Class is class. 

I have good friends who are Canucks fans. The buddy who took me to the game last night has recently adopted the Canucks as his second team (his first team being the Buffalo Sabres; I guess eventually he got frustrated cheering for a team who has existed for over 40 years without ever having won anything.....er......nevermind. Jesus Christ, that poor sonofabitch is a glutton for punishment). My brother-in-law, a great guy who I love and respect, is a die-hard. I regularly interact with several Canucks fans on social media who are generally intelligent and decent people. It's not necessarily about the human being. 

You can be a Canucks fan, and I might like you. I might even love you.

But I hate you.

And that's never going to change.

Go whomever-the-Canucks-are-playing-tonight.




















Sunday, 22 February 2015

And the Oscar goes to.....

Here are my thoughts and predictions on the major categories on tonight's big show!

"Winner" is my prediction on who will receive Oscar gold.

"My Pick" is my personal choice if I had a vote. And I should.


Best Animated Feature Film

Nominees:
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The stunning omission of The Lego Movie here leaves the field wide open. But I'm going to go with the logical choice, a well received Disney film.

Winner: Big Hero 6

My Pick: No clue, haven't seen any of these yet

Achievement in Cinematography

Nominees:
Birdman
the Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

Winner: Birdman

My Pick: Birdman

Achievement in Costume Design

Nominees:

the Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

Winner: Into the Woods

My Pick: Into the Woods

Achievement in Directing

Alejandro G. Inarritu - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson - the Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum - the Imitation Game

Months ago it seemed a slam dunk that Boyhood was going to sweep the Best Picture and Best Director category, but there has been a lot of late momentum for Birdman, including a win by Inarritu at the Director's Guild Awards. So while I am not totally convinced of this, I'm going to stick by my original thought here.

Winner: Richard Linklater

My Pick: Linklater. Duh. It took 12 years to film. TWELVE YEARS. And it was brilliant.

Achievement in Sound Editing

Nominees:

American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

Winner: Interstellar

My Pick: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Achievement in Visual Effects

Nominees:

Captain America: the Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Winner: Interstellar

My Pick: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Seriously, those monkeys looked incredibly real.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Winner: American Sniper

My Pick: Whiplash

Achievement in Film Editing

Nominees:

American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

Winner: Boyhood

My Pick: Boyhood. Duh again. TWELVE YEARS of film to edit.

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel (BARF)

My Pick: Guardians of the Galaxy

Original Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
The Theory of Everything
Mr. Turner

Winner: Interstellar

My pick: The Imitation Game

Original Song

Nominees:

Everything is Awesome - the Lego Movie
Glory - Selma
Grateful - Beyond the Lights
I'm Not Gonna Miss You - Glen Campbell....I'll be Me
Lost Stars - Begin Again

Winner: Glory

My Pick: I'm Not Gonna Miss You. This would be a wonderful tribute to a legendary country artist, a heartbreaking song about his battle with Alzheimer's.

Achievement in Production Design

Nominees:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel (double BARF)

My Pick: Into the Woods

Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Winner: Birdman

My Pick: Birdman

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Laura Dern - Wild
Keira Knightly - the Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

Winner: Arquette

My Pick: Emma Stone. Arquette is worthy and is a slam dunk, but I'm picking Stone by a hair.

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Marian Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones - the Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild

Winner: Moore

My Pick: I've only seen two of these (Jones and Pike), but I'll stick with Moore who is always good and has won everything under the sun, so I'm sure she is a worthy winner

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
JK Simmons - Whiplash

Winner: Simmons

My Pick: Simmons. This is my "BEST BET" of the night, and it's a worthy one; this always-reliable character actor turned in the performance of a lifetime here.

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

Winner: Redmayne

My Pick: Redmayne. Without his mesmerizing performance, this movie would have been completely unwatchable. Keaton is a very, very, very close second. Carell was also quite amazing.

Best Picture

Nominees:

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Winner: Boyhood. Despite the late momentum for Birdman, I just cannot believe the Academy could overlook this special film and the achievement that was making it.

My Pick: Boyhood. No question. A hearty tip of my cap to Birdman which probably wins this prize in many years, but not this time.


Dean's LOCK OF THE NIGHT: I already mentioned it, J.K. Simmons for Best Supporting Actor.

Dean's UPSET SPECIAL of the night: I didn't pick any, but if I were forced to choose a possible MAJOR upset, I'll pick American Sniper as Best Picture, in case the Academy picks with their patriotic heart, rather than their movie-loving heads.


Thanks for reading and enjoy the show!!!