Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Violet Hill

Coldplay's New Single

By now if you haven't downloaded "Violet Hill," then you probably hate Coldplay. Or maybe you're just terribly lazy. Either one: not cool. Go here.

Chris Martin has made several promises about the band's next album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. In a Rolling Stone article, Martin said this album would be a break from the band's previous three. While we've only heard the first single, judging by it, I can't say I hear much difference.

The song clocks in at almost four minutes, rough the same as other Coldplay singles. The style of "Violet Hill" is less than foreign for anyone listening to a Coldplay song. I do like "Violet Hill" but after listening to it, I don't think Viva la Vida will be like when Radiohead went from The Bends to OK Computer.

--Czobit

Commuting 043008

Buying TTC Tokens at Bay Station

I approached the ticket booth: Could I please have twenty tokens?

I pushed my money towards the ticket seller, and it started to blow away. Without hesitation, Ms. TicketSeller began swearing at me for pushing my money towards her. I wasn't cognizant she was counting money at the time of request.

You may say: Michael, that's insane. A TTC ticket seller swearing at you. You should file a complaint to be promptly ignored.

I would say: Ignorant fool, don't you see that I'm completely at fault here?

TTC employees work in the harshest of environments. Toronto is beginning to resemble Fallujah, circa December 2004. The two twenties and tenner I gave Ms. TicketSeller was a threat to her safety as soon as it went airborne. If I hadn't been shocked at the time of Ms. TicketSeller's profane outburst, I would have apologized.

However good has come out of this unpleasant event. I've learned an important lesson: TTC workers deserve to be treated better. After all, their professional and courteous manner is an example for the rest of us heathens.

--Czobit

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's Coming

Fall Books Already

BEA starts in one month, and Publishers Weekly has a good rundown on the galleys booksellers will want to grab.

The ones that caught my eye include:
The Given Day
Dennis Lehane (Morrow, Sept.)
Pitch: Bestselling author's epic novel of two families, white and black, set in 1918 Boston captures the nation's political unrest.
Buzz: Brad Parsons: “Lehane's crossover into film and TV has expanded his readership.” Burton: “I'm a Lehane fan but was disappointed that this isn't a mystery. There's some interesting history, but it's predictable, which is a surprise coming from him.”

Indignation
Phillip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, Sept.)
Pitch: Reigning literary lion's tale of a young man from Newark, N.J. who attends college in Ohio during the Korean war.
Buzz: Parsons: “I have a feeling this could be the galley to grab at BookExpo.” Burton: “Oh, Roth. He hates women, so I hate him!”

Goldengrove
Francine Prose (HarperCollins, Sept.)
Pitch: A wrenching story about adolescence, family and first love narrated by a young girl, with echoes of Vertigo and Pygmalion.
Buzz: Burton: “Her last two nonfiction books have gotten a lot of buzz. I think she's ready to break out.”

The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own.
David Carr (Simon & Schuster, Sept.)
Pitch: New York Times columnist Carr on his years as a crack addict, in recovery, as a cancer patient and a single parent.
Buzz: Parsons: “Could appeal to fans of A Million Little Pieces, Tweak and Beautiful Boy. Carr plays with his own harrowing memories and recollections of those affected by his addiction.”

--Czobit

More Diaz

Granta Updates its Site; Adds Content You Actually Want to Read


Granta has launched a website redesign. Part of the relaunch is exclusive online material including this interview with Junot Diaz:
‘I think that at best our sense of what a human is is fragmentary. When I try to translate the human onto a simplistic axis like a book, I can do one of two things: I can pretend that I’m really giving you a full person, or I can accept the fact that you are getting nothing more than the most shattered transmission from across the galaxy of what is human.’ Díaz says that ‘accepting these limitations and saying, “hey, but isn’t that what is human”’ is something he believes in, and seems to be ‘the way we really deal with each other’. Human expression, he says, is like ‘short bursts of messages of who we are, a lot of it gets lost in the ether; most of us are asleep at the radio set when the transmission comes in.’

Díaz doesn’t buy ‘entirely full and rich characters’ in other people’s fiction, even though he succumbs to creating them himself. But he does believe that these characters fail to show how ‘fragmentary our sense of the world is and how the world resists giving us fully rounded narratives. The world tends to give us pieces, and then in our imagination, because of our desire and because of our need, we make them whole’.

I ask him whether obsessive narrative disorder is just a New York thing. He’s vehement that it’s not. ‘The world is not interested in consoling anyone with narrative,’ Díaz says. ‘The world is like, oh, you’re going to get married, well, your car just got blown up. We’re the ones who say, “It’s for the best, God loves us, we’re going to put a spin on what in some ways makes no fucking sense”.’
Also interesting is Diaz on his new novel, Tokyo Rose:
‘I want to write a book where I get to blow up the planet and kill off the whole human species,’ he says. ‘I’ve basically been obsessed with apocalyptic narrative, movies and books and TV shows. I always had this obsession with the end of the world, and part of it came from mysterious places inside of myself and part of it came from growing up in the 1980s, which was the most apocalyptic period you could ever live under.’

With this novel he is not trying to break out of genre – it’s a science fiction book. Although the novel is called Tokyo Rose it doesn’t take place in Tokyo – ‘that’s just the project designator, that has very little to do with it,’ he says. ‘It’s a novel that springs from my apocalyptic anxieties and I’m trying to write about the end of the world in a very specific sense. We watch X-Men and these movies. They play with certain things but they don’t follow them to their supreme and ultimate logic. For example, they have this idea of humans and other species in competition with each other. They raise the competition but then diffuse it. They kind of hassle and wrastle with each other and then everything returns to status quo. Well, I’m sort of imagining there are two human species: one of them ours, and the other slightly different.’

I interrupt to say that it seems ethnic politics will be a theme in this book, too. He shoots back, smiling, ‘I feel like, what else could it be about? You have two races trying to eliminate each other…but yeah, it’s a genre book, you have these two races who do crazy things to each other and outlandish and terrible things happen. I’m trying to blow up about four or five cities.’

I ask whether Tokyo Rose is representative not so much of Díaz’s evolution as a writer but of his devolution.

‘I actually don’t know,’ he says. ‘I come from an area of the world that has been blown up so many times, that has suffered so many damn apocalypses, where literally all sorts of weird science-fiction stuff happens, from the breeding of human beings to the first contact with aliens. There are all these things inscribed over the Caribbean, and I think the only way for me to get at them is to re-imagine them among genre lines. It’s a way to have fun with these historical movements while simultaneously bringing a reader in to a deeper debate or exploration without triggering their defences. If you’re like, “I’m going to talk about slavery”, you automatically lock out ninety percent of the readership because everyone’s defences are so high around these issues – it’s like historical fatigue or historical trauma fatigue – but if you couch the historical trauma in genre terms, then people will read that shit till the cows come home’.

--Czobit

Monday, April 28, 2008

Great Cover

Coldplay's New Album

Coldplay released an image of the cover to their upcoming album, “Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends”:



On the band’s website tomorrow, you’ll be able to download the first single for free. That track is called “Violet Hill.”

Who can wait?

--Czobit

Early Reviews

Will Iron Man be as Bad as I Predicted?

Two early reviews of Iron Man have been published. The film is released this Friday.

The first review, from Variety, like it:
Snapping off lines as crisply as Bugs Bunny might bite into a carrot, the sculpture-bearded Downey invigorates the entire proceedings in a way no other actor ever has in this field. Initially conveying Tony's Matt Helm lifestyle as if it's second nature, Downey possesses a one-of-a-kind intensity that perfectly serves the character's second-act drive and obstinacy. His Achilles' heel is his heart, at first threatened by shrapnel and later central to his superpower and his submerged romantic relationship with ever-loyal assistant Pepper Potts, who Gwyneth Paltrow, in an unexpected casting move, endows with smarts and appeal.
The second, from CBR, liked it, too:
Favreau, a director whose previous credits have included “Swingers,” “Elf,” and “Zathura,” has created in “Iron Man” a successful blend of indie wit and blockbuster action. With exactly the right cast, a strong team of writers, and top-notch special effects which serve the story rather than simple spectacle, “Iron Man” is a shiny golden example of how to do a superhero movie.

OK, maybe I'll see it. Maybe.

--Czobit

Ugly Cover

The Cover Matches the Movie

A while back I wrote glowingly of the film Vantage Point. By "glowingly" I mean I wanted to crack my skull with a hammer after watching it.

Now comes the DVD release on Canada Day. A cover this awful is an indication of how bad the film is: cluttered, foolish, crap.

(I tried adding the image of the cover to this post, but my source blocked me with another ugly image of its own.)

--Czobit

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Poetry Review

Just What The...?

In today's Times, Dwight Garner reviews August Kleinzahler's new collection of poetry, Sleeping it Off in Rapid City. I don't read poetry, and I rarely read reviews of poetry, but I've liked some of what Dwight Garner has written at Paper Cuts (a blog that hasn't been as good after it added other contributors). I read his review and found some great stuff:

It makes a certain kind of sense, then, that Mr. Kleinzahler’s career-spanning new book of poems, “Sleeping It Off in Rapid City,” features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castle’s pint-size hamburgers, Mr. Kleinzahler’s poems are of uncertain if not dubious nutritional value. And while there is nothing made-to-order about them, his poems arrive salty and hot; you’ll want to devour them on your lap, with a stack of napkins to mop up the grease.

But then Garner lessened my appreciation with this:
It’s easy to troll through any of Mr. Kleinzahler’s books and pick out fresh, alert observations. (Flipping almost at random through this one I find: “Say, who among us does not care to be undressed?” and “If butter can’t cure what ails you,/no cure is there to be found.”)

Um, what? How are those two examples alert observations? What the hell do they mean?

Those two examples are senseless and impossible to understand: The reason I wouldn't bother with this poetry collection.

--Czobit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Next Round

Time for the Picks

OK, I went 4-4 in predicting the first round winners. Considering there were three seventh games, that record could easily have been on the better side. (I also have to mention that because otherwise you'd think you might as well flip a coin instead of reading my picks.)

Now it's time for round two.

Eastern Conference

Philadelphia vs. Montreal: Both of these teams let 3-1 series leads disappear, and are lucky they finally woke up in game 7. The Habs are still the better team and will win.

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh: It's easy to forget Pittsburgh is still in the playoffs since it's been long since they embarrassed the Ottawa Senators. They may be rusty to start, but Pittsburgh moves on.

Western Conference

Colorado vs. Detroit
: Ah, a familiar playoff rivalry. I said it last time around, Detroit falters come Round 2. And they will.

Dallas Stars vs. San Jose: The Stars upset the defending champs last round, but this time they won't upset the Sharks.

In summary, I'm picking Montreal-Pittsburgh and Colorado-San Jose conference finals.

--Czobit

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Own Goal

A Miracle in Football?

Whoa, what a finish (the cliché count goes up 1) to the Liverpool-Chelsea Champions League game today.

In injury time, my side benefits from a Liverpool own goal to earn a draw - one that seemed unlikely and must leave Liverpool crushed.

Now all Chelsea needs to do is draw at home 0-0 in the next leg, or win. Seems simple enough.

--Czobit

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Weezer

'Bout Time

The disc is out June 24. Until then enjoy the first single, "Pork and Beans."

--Czobit

Uncool Politicians

What's the Quickest Way to Lose the Youth Vote? Try to be Cool


In attempt to seem with it, the three remaining senators in the U.S. presidential election will appear tonight on WWE Raw.

This being 2008, the video has hit the Internet first:



Lame.

--Czobit

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Owed Apology

Because I Hate the Sens

At this point I should let the Senators Spartan entrance debacle die, but no, no, I won't.

Michael Farber on TSN's The Reporters:

My thumb is down, and thrown to the lions to the centurion who showed up to Game 3 in Ottawa. What an idea! This is a bad year in the nation's capital - bad coaching decision, bad GM, bad goaltending, now a really bad marketing ploy. Fortunately he didn't show up for Game 4, neither of course did the Senators. This franchise began long ago with an apology by general manager Mel Bridgman at the first expansion draft. Now it's Eugene Melnyk's turn. Ottawa should apologize.
It's unanimous, the Sens should be ashamed.

--Czobit

A Correction

A Bit Off, But Obviously Not My Fault

Earlier this week, the Canadian Press erroneously reported that the Star fired their entire Internet production staff.

But in today's Star, of all things, CP clarified the firings:

The online department layoffs do not directly affect the Star's editorial web operations, but instead dissolve a legacy operation that had existed since the formation of the website back in the 1990s.

Kuntz said two Internet departments will continue to exist – a 21-person editorial team in the Toronto office (which could increase to 28 by the end of the year), and a separate digital team that hosts the websites.
This more accurate description of the firings obviously changes my commentary, so I would simply ignore it as it was based on incorrect information.

Apologies, friends.

--Czobit

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Not Long

One Day Is All It Took

Thursday the Star fired their Internet department and Friday they posted ads to fill some of those positions.

We have postings for:
In a business where papers like the Star are seen as the Big Time, I'm sure some opportunistic people would love the chance to fill these new vacancies.

--Czobit

Book Trailer

Whoa, Bad

In February I reviewed Lauren Groff's The Monsters of Templeton. Since then I've changed my blog writing style -- note the italics -- and saw this trailer for Groff's book (presumably the British release):



If I had seen that trailer first, I doubt I would have read the book. The trailer is a complete disservice to Groff's novel. I'm not sure why books need trailers; how does a group of bad actors reciting dialogue (poorly) from a novel help with sales?

--Czobit

Nickle Strike

Let's Hold 1.5 Million People Hostage

One issue preventing an agreement between the TTC and its union of workers is a pay raise. Do TTC employees deserve a raise? No, of course not.

Since their last contract agreement, I've seen no improvement in service. That doesn't mean TTC employees do a poor job; they're just the same group of good, bad and absolute shit people they always have been. But the whole lot of them can be described as fucking crazy if they strike Monday for one of these:



Just as fucking crazy is the TTC if they don't give their workers that raise (the union has more demands, but the raise is the most prominent, probably because the idea of not giving it is incomprehensible).

And after you give the TTC workers a raise, pass legislation so they can't make threats on such frivolous desires again.

--Czobit

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Star

Can a Website Get Worse? Yes, It Will

News today:

TORONTO - Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B) is cutting 160 jobs, including the entire Internet production staff at its flagship Toronto Star daily, in a restructuring prompted by continuing weakness in the newspaper industry.

The publisher said Thursday the restructuring involves "a combination of voluntary and involuntary staff reductions" and that the company will take a $21-million charge as part of the process, but expects to save $12 million annually in labour costs.

Most of the job cuts, taken through severage packages, were already expected, but the Internet layoffs came as a surprise, said Maureen Dawson, an official with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

"Their message to the world is that they're all dedicated to the Internet, but then they lay off the whole department," she told The Canadian Press shortly after meeting with Torstar respresentatives.

It's great when a news company blurts out doublespeak like its reciting dialogue from 1984.

And with this news, The Star loses its place on my Seal of Approval to the left.

--Czobit


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Senators

The End of the Franchise

Kerry alerted me in her comment to my earlier post about the Senators of the team's pre-game ceremony Monday night. I missed the atrocity when it happened that night, but through the magic of YouTube, it's available below:



Couldn't the Senators have at least hired someone who looked more like one of the juiced up Spartans from the obvious inspiration for this skit, the awful 300?

And haven't Sens fans suffered enough?

When a team embarrasses itself more than the Toronto Maple Leafs manage on a daily basis, the end of the franchise probably isn't too far away.

--Czobit

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cliché Count

Bob McKenzie's Poorly Written Blog

We all use clichés. It's unfortunate, but unavoidable. But that doesn't mean we should rely on clichés like Bob McKenzie does in his "blog" on TSN's website.

For example, today McKenzie writes about the Vancouver Canucks firing general manager Dave Nonis. Below I've reprinted McKenzie's pathetic attempt at writing. To make them easier to spot, I've underlined McKenzie's clichés:

The firing of Vancouver GM Dave Nonis is wrong on so many levels.

I fully understand the disappointment in Vancouver with the Canucks missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, but it's tough to get by the following:

- Nonis has been the GM of the Canucks for only four years and one of those years was the NHL lockout. As a rule (me here: who's rule?), GMs are given at least a five year run unless there is a sense the franchise is spiraling in the wrong direction and although the Canucks missed the playoffs this season, there doesn't appear to be any empirical evidence (um, I don't think McKenzie knows what empirical means) that the Canucks are on a free fall.

- Nonis was GM of the team last season when the franchise posted a record 105-point campaign and the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

- Nonis orchestrated one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history when he acquired netminder Roberto Luongo from the Florida Panthers.

- The Canucks missed the playoffs by three points this season despite losing a ridiculous number of man-game to injuries, especially to their core starting six on defence (Kevin Bieksa, 48 games, Lukas Krajicek, 43, Mattias Ohlund , 29, Aaron Miller, 25, Sami Salo, 19, and Willie Mitchell, 10). The surprise is they didn't miss by more than three points with that injury list.

One would have thought those factors would have allowed Nonis another year to make the bold moves he needed to make to transform the Canucks from a goaltending-dependent team with a pop-gun offence, but that is not to be.

On the flip side, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

Since Nonis took over from GM Brian Burke during the ownership era of John McCaw, the new Canucks' owner, Franceso Aquilini, obviously felt no sense of loyalty or attachment to a GM he did not hire.

The fact that Nonis is a low-key type individual who doesn't provide scintillating sound bites probably didn't help his cause either, but the sense throughout the league is that Nonis has put together a good organization in Vancouver and was doing a good job of drafting and developing young talent. Most thought he would get this off-season to make a bold initiative to re-vamp the persona of the team and inject some much needed offence.

But it's not to be (twice in the same "blog"?).

Someone else will get that opportunity and while many will speculate on the possibility of Brian Burke returning to his old stamping ground in Vancouver, sources suggest Aquilini may already have his new man in place and that would most certainly rule out Burke, the subject of much conjecture for the vacant Toronto Maple Leaf GMs' job. Burke, of course, isn't going anywhere in the immediate short term.

Stay tuned, this should get interesting.


OK, by my count, McKenzie used 12 clichés in a 465-word "blog." Is this what TSN considers good writing? Doesn't the site have standards or editors? Does anyone read this garbage before it goes online?

Now go ahead and count the number of clichés I've used in my last ten posts. I'm sure you'll find some, but it's not like I'm being paid to write this. Though I should be paid to read that TSN shit.

--Czobit

The Senators

Ottawa Returns to its Playoff Form

Now that it seems apparent the Ottawa Senators will complete their hard-to-fathom collapse, it's a good time to analyze this disappointing club.

Last playoffs, the Senators were praised for finally "coming so far" - they won the Eastern Conference, they competed for the Stanley Cup. They still ended the playoffs a loser; perhaps the biggest loser because no team carries as much disappointment than the conference champion who fails in the final round.

These playoffs, the Senators are a team on the verge of being swept (again) in the first round. Who could have predicted this when Ottawa was the No. 1 club in the league in October?

It gets worse for Sens fans though. What options does this club have in the off-season? Only hard ones; much harder than anything the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to make.

Do the Sens fire Bryan Murray, one of the smartest general managers in the NHL?

Do the Sens trade Daniel Alfredsson, one of the league's best captains?

Do the Sens trade Danny Heatley, one of hockey's most lethal snipers?

Or do the Sens trade Jason Spezza, an extremely talented playmaker?

The easy thing for Sens fans is to blame the team's pathetic goaltending. But if you move Martin Gerber or Ray Emery, can you name me a superstar goaltender that is available? Of course, one can be had for one or more of the Senator's prized players above.

It's destruction time for this team, though. Despite all of its talent, it hasn't proved to be a playoff winner. The team can blame goaltending but that doesn't explain four goals in three playoff games. There's something else wrong with this team and the only way to fix it is to overhaul the roster.

If the team wants to win the Cup - and which team doesn't? - it'll mean a few more painful months.

--Czobit
 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Youth Language

Is Juno the Best Word on Today's Youth?

In today's Star, Trish Crawford writes about the Mo' Urban Dictionary that will be packaged with the Juno DVD at HMV stores. Here's the lede:

Aaron Peckham was chillin' at the computer nine years ago, when he dreamed up Urban Dictionary – a ridonkulous slang online dictionary co-created by fellow technogeeks.

That one sentence is reason enough to burn today's Star in absolute disgust; writing about youth language and employing the gimmick of using so-called youth words is the type of creative masturbation exercise that I would expect from a second-year j-skooler. Crawford isn't that, and judging by how tragically un-hip this article is, and by her photo on the Star's site, she's probably in her mid- to late 50s. Just another reason why she has no reason to write about anything youth-related. (Yes, some older writers can pull the trick off, Crawford evidently cannot.)

But instead of stopping after Crawford's pathetic lede, I continued to read and found the premise of her article:

What Juno did was give audiences over age 35 a window into the secret language of young people.

Really? I know what you'll say: "Michael, what do you know about youth culture and language? You're an old man now. You have gray hair. You have wrinkles. You have an enlarged prostate." And I will reply, "Good morning. I'm doing fine. How are you?" because my hearing is going too.

But while I may not be of the age that makes me an authority on youth culture, I do know that the language in Juno, written by Diablo Cody (whose blog suggests she's far removed from the youth scene), is clichéd and inaccurate. My sister (oh, he pulls out the My Sister Argument) is 16, and the only time she or her friends use words like 'chillin'' or 'fo shizzel' is to be ironic and self-mocking.

The problem with Crawford's article and Juno for that matter is that it lives the cliché. Youth lives in the present, in the future. The only way to get there is make it up as you go along.

--Czobit

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

History/Fiction

So What's The Difference?

A few weeks ago, the New Yorker published Jill Lepore's fascinating (excuse me for using this word) article on the divergences of history and fiction writing. It's worth a whirl:

Historians and novelists are kin, in other words, but they’re more like brothers who throw food at each other than like sisters who borrow each other’s clothes. The literary genre that became known as “the novel” was born in the eighteenth century. History, the empirical sort based on archival research and practiced in universities, anyway, was born at much the same time. Its novelty is not as often remembered, though, not least because it wasn’t called “novel.” In a way, history is the anti-novel, the novel’s twin, though which is Cain and which is Abel depends on your point of view.
--Czobit

Playoff Picks

Czobit's First Round Prognostications AKA First Round WTF?s

So, let's just get to the picks:

Eastern Conference

Montreal vs. Boston: Easy. Montreal wins. Even I'm not that biased against the Habs.

Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh: If Crosby was healthy, Pittsburgh could have been the best in the league. They'll send the Sens away/

Washington vs. Philadelphia: One of the hottest teams going in (I really didn't look at any statistics, so they may have been the hottest), Washington beats Philly.

New York Rangers vs. New Jersey: This one is a toss-up until you remember that Brodeur plays for the Devils, who will win.

Western Conference

Detroit vs. Nashville: Detroit doesn't choke until the second round.

San Jose vs. Calgary: Calgary grinds out this series, and San Jose continues to under-perform in the playoffs.

Colorado vs. Minnesota: Colorado wins.

Anaheim vs. Dallas: Since I think Anaheim has the best chance to win the Cup, I don't have much choice but to pick the Ducks to win.

Did I get them wrong? Wait a week or two to find out.

--Czobit

Diaz Wins

Junot Picks Up the Pulitzer

I'm ashamed to say that Junot Diaz's Pulitzer-winning novel (announced yesterday), "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," has been sitting on my shelf, unread. OK, to be accurate, it's been sitting in my stack of books, along with Diaz's earlier collection, "Drown," unread.

I'll have to get to it soon, or next. But I think both of Diaz's books are easy recommendations. I've heard many good things about both, and have read several of his short stories. Not to mention, "Oscar Wao" also won the Tournament of Books a couple of weeks ago.

OK, I just mentioned it.

--Czobit

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Playoffs

Picks to Come

I still have to take a look at the match-ups and the wealth of statistics available for this year's NHL playoffs.

After that, I'll roll out my genius picks, complete with insults.

Of course, I guarantee anyone using my picks in a pool or in conversation with their friends about the playoffs will be disappointed when everything I said would happen fails to happen.

The picks are coming. Patience.

--Czobit

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Gender Bias

What We Do Without Thinking

Nicholas Kristoff wrote about the subconscious racism that seems to be present in all of us. He also wrote about gender bias:

Women now hold 55 percent of top jobs at American foundations but are still vastly underrepresented among political and corporate leaders — and one factor may be that those are seen as jobs requiring particular toughness. Our unconscious may feel more of a mismatch when a woman competes to be president or a C.E.O. than when she aims to lead a foundation or a university.

Women face a related challenge: Those viewed as tough and strong are also typically perceived as cold and unfeminine. Many experiments have found that women have trouble being perceived as both nice and competent.


Perhaps this explains why some Americans have turned away from Hillary Clinton - perhaps it explains why I don't think she's the stronger candidate. Though my problem with Clinton (and being a non-U.S. voter renders my problem irrelevant), or at least, the problem I say I have with her is that I don't think she can defeat John McCain - Republicans hate the Clintons more than Barrack Obama - and I'd like the Democrats to win the presidency.

But unrelated to U.S. politics, the idea a woman cannot be nice and competent is ridiculous; I've worked with more women who were nice and competent than the opposite.

--Czobit

Mercifully Over

There's Always Next Year

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs season finished, a welcomed conclusion to any person who has the misfortune of being a Leafs fan.

What went wrong this year? Everything. None of the team's lofty expectations were met, losses mounted, and Leafs fans settled into watching a team of destiny. Unfortunately, the destiny was to miss the playoffs and embarrass the club in the process.

Fans with a lesser pain threshold turned away as I did in October. I watched only parts of games, even when I happened to be in the ACC for a game. I don't think I can be faulted for being disgusted with this team.

One player who did show some heart last night was Bryan McCabe, who in the final minute of a 3-1 loss to Montreal, dropped his gloves, and got dropped in a fight. That was McCabe's second defeat in two games. Greg Millen, the CBC commentator, cried that McCabe should have given it a rest - the season was over. I disagree: It's refreshing to see McCabe show he cares. Unfortunately, this character development came in game 81 of a season long lost.

But I don't want to single out McCabe. Many Leafs showed more determination once the season appeared lost. Give those guys credit for caring about keeping their jobs. Making the playoffs? Not so important.

The Leafs are a team fond of hitting the self-sabotage button. This coming off-season, if the club knows what's best, it will hit the self-destruct button.

"They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result": That precious Hives lyric says it all. Isn't it time to stop the madness?

--Czobit

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ticket Scandal?

The Star Hits Its Low Standards Again

Last Saturday, the Star was transformed into a glorified paid advertising supplement. This week the "newspaper" continued its descent into low-quality news coverage with a front-page article about a "ticket scandal" inside Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment.

Having a story about a ticket scandal involving the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs is a story that should sell papers. And that's the reason the Star's editors put the story on their increasingly irrelevant front-page.

It's a shame though that nowhere in the story can the reader find an explanation of the ticket scandal. We only learn that an MLSE executive resigned and some staff were fired. The final paragraph references an earlier scandal that involved scalping, so perhaps that's what happened. But that's a guess.

If the Star couldn't provide details because legal reasons or it simply didn't know, then the story should have been held. Instead, the Star shamelessly printed a story that discredits the writer, Rick Westhead, as a journalist reporting nothing but the vaguest of details. Westhead is a better journalist than this embarrassment suggests, and it's a shame the Star had to go as low as it did in attempt to sell newspapers.

Maybe someone should check the financial info of Torstar.

And if this garbage wasn't enough, yesterday the Star published Antonia Zerbisias's column about Hillary Clinton's "real crime" of not knowing her place. Zerbisias correctly says that Clinton has received unfair criticism, but the subtext of the column is that this unfair treatment somehow validates Clinton's claim to be the Democrat's nominee. Yes, let's just forget that among the remaining candidates, Clinton has carried out the dirtiest campaign, and shown a repugnant side of her character.

I'm not saying the Star should have censored Zerbisias's column, but I'm not saying it's not more trash from this fading newspaper.

--Czobit

Friday, April 04, 2008

Commuting 040408

The First in a Series of Rants

One thing that annoys me during my commute, which includes GO Transit (Old Unreliable) and the TTC (Please We Deserve More) are the people who read the free dailies and think they are of a special breed because they ingest small morsels of news, hardly worthy of the classification 'article.' I approve of people wanting to know the news, but let's not confuse Metro with The News. And 24 is really the Toronto Sun minus the sex ads in the back (even their website links off to the Sun).

Earlier this week, I was getting on the GO at my morning stop. I stepped into the train, at stood near the door as there were no seats available. A woman came up behind me, said, "Excuse me." Before I had chance to move, she shoved her way past me, pushing me with what as her shield: a copy of Metro.

Somehow she found a seat, and began to read her "newspaper" as if it were the most fascinating of documents.

This gives me another reason to detest free daily enthusiasts. It's tenuous, I know, but who's policing my assailable grudges?

--Czobit

The Return

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I need to apologize for the lack of posts in March, and none (until now) in April. Things, as they're called, have got in the way.

Rest assured, I'm back.

--Czobit