Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rain -A tribute to The Beatles

-Simply an incredible night of watching The Beatles.

This was the best concert that I have been to in a long, long time. So good, in fact, that I don't actually know where to start. There were just so many great tributes to this concert. First of all, the talent on these musicians was unparalleled. In many ways, I would think that they were more talented as performers than the actual Beatles themselves. But it was the stage performance of them that really gave their music merit.

I have been a Beatles fan since I was about 10 years old. After listening to their LP, "Something New", I was hooked. I became an actual Beatles Fanatic, consumed by them in every aspect of my life. I read everything about them, watched every piece of footage on TV, listened to every song, and drew pictures of them for years. So to say that I would have had big expectations of this show would've been an understatement.

As a fan of The Beatles, you never want to see a show where a tribute band ruins the image of what you love about the real band. But from the very start, this show far exceeded that. In many ways, I felt lucky enough to catch The Beatles on stage performing in a live show, even though they last gave their final concert show 6 years before I was born.

In this re-creation, you have to duplicate not only the music, but many other aspects. In order to have a perfect tasting dessert, there has to be cake and icing. -The cake representing the music, and the icing that makes the perfect cake that much better by having a great stage show. This show had the best of both icing and cake.

There also has to be an almost anal attentiveness given to the slightest detail because somebody out there will spot the slightest imperfection. I can tell you that this show had the greatest sound, note for note of the Beatles that I have ever heard. The costumes were impeccable, and their instruments were true to every detail. The demeanor of each was eerily close to that of the actual Beatle they portrayed. Their accents, their charm, their stage presence was immaculate. In every situation, they remained true to the sound, and the style of the original Beatles, note for note, step for step, and laugh for laugh. And a real Beatles trivia fan such as myself, could be very impressed that they did all the small things that only a person who studied The Beatles for years would appreciate.

So, if you like The Beatles, or you know somebody who does, I would URGE you to go out and watch this show. They are simply incredible, and there is not another way to say it. After watching this show, I can honestly say that I feel that I have seen The Beatles in real life. I may have been a generation late to see them live, but RAIN gave me the chance to fulfill an impossible wish to see The Beatles live in Concert. I can now safely cross that impossible wish off of my bucket list.

Check out their website to see when they are coming to a theatre near you...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Gold Medal game between the USA and Canada, Feb. 28, 2010 Olympics

Who could've predicted the results in Men's Ice hockey in the 2010 Olympic Games? Just a few odd facts...

Canada finished 6th after pool play. The host nation squeaked by the Swiss in a shootout, lost to the USA, and beat Norway. Not exactly what the country expected.

Slovakia beats the Russians in a shootout.

The Swedes lose to Slovakia in the Quarter-Finals.

The Russians get blown away by Canada in the Quarter-Finals in an unlikely match up.

The USA team goes undefeated to the Gold Medal Final as the sleeper in the tournament.

And now the stage is set for a re-match of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics between Canada and the USA. A rivalry that, over the last few years looks to replace Canada-Russia.

The Americans are young, fast, and have a World Class goalie in Ryan Miller. All the characteristics that gave the USA Gold 30 years ago in the Miracle on Ice game in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

The Canadians are slow to start, but have come back to show heart and hard work as the tournament has progressed. I think that the best thing that could've happened to this Canadian team was to lose to the USA in pool play. It did 2 things:

1) It gave Roberto Luongo the opportunity to usurp Martin Brodeur from the #1 goalie position. Brodeur had walked into that role after sitting behind Patrick Roy in '98, and now it is his turn to sit behind Luongo.

2) It gave the Canadians a feeling of let down and disappointment, and a wake up call to see that they are not as good as they thought they were in a one game format.

So now it comes down to 1 game. The best of seven final and this is it. Anything can happen in one game, right? The Americans showed how they can dismantle a team like they did in the first period of the Finland Semi-Final yesterday.

The first goal will be key. If Canada scores first, the roof will come off the joint, and you will see new inspiration. Like Mike Richter, the USA goalie in 2002, you will see the pressure mount as the offense keeps on coming, wave after wave. Can you withstand all of it? It's happened before, as the Miracle on Ice proved.

But will history repeat itself?

I don't know, but I know that this will be a great game. I just hope that the referring doesn't factor into this game. If they let the players decide this game, it should be a classic. For my 2 cents worth, I think that the Canadian team you will see tomorrow will be a totally different team than you saw against the USA last week. They have finally found the line match-ups that are successful, and they have blown away the Russians en route to the Gold Medal Game on home soil.

I think this will be Canada's proudest moment in Men's hockey.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Canadian Hockey Just Rocks...

After watching that good ol' ass-thrashing of the Russians last night, I was finally relieved to see our National Men's team look like they were working harder. They came out of the gates last night like a bunch of gorillas out of a cage, scoring 4 times alone in the first period.

It was only a game, but I'm quite sure that I'm not alone in thinking that it made the rest of Canada feel vindicated that our National Men's team, loaded with deep talent in every position, was able to prove it against our #1 rivals, the Russians.

As we unloaded goal after goal against the Russians, I felt more and more excited. The final score turned out to be 7-3, but it may as well have been 17-3. A great relief came over me.

It sounds stupid, but it's true. For some reason, hockey pulls Canada together. I mean, you could go to work and face your idiot boss that you have NOTHING in common with, and not like the SOB, but for the one time in a year, you could discuss the hockey game of how we put the beating on the Russians last night with arms wrapped around each other like you were frat buddies.

You would use pronouns like "we" in referring to the game, and it would sound like you we actually ON the team, flew to Vancouver, played in the game, hung out, flew BACK in time for the 9am meeting, and get ready to close some deals.

Every Canadian feels like that today. Well, not EVERY Canadian... I'm sure there are people who really don't care about it, but if they are, they are certainly not reading MY blog, because I simply wouldn't know anyone like that...hahaha

But mostly, the Olympics and sports in general just end up being a simple game, but it adds much more to your life. You get a chance to see the hard work and sacrifice of any given athlete working for years, to stand for mere minutes on a podium that tells the world that it was worth it. All the human interest stories, and come from behind underdog scenarios were the things that made you think that your day and your life isn't so bad.

And that's exactly what sports does. It gives you that one moment of escape from your regular life to appreciate what you are really passionate about.

And it gives you that certain feeling of glee, when you see that glee and indescribable pride in your athlete's eyes when they hoist the same common flag that we know and love as Canadians.

And that's why I love the Olympics. I can appreciate the other countries out there, but just like every other person, I cheer for my home athletes on home soil, and we are proud of each and every one of you, regardless of outcome or medal.

Go Canada Go!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Miracle on Ice

I was a 7 year old kid, just about to turn 8, and my family was living in the small town of Vienna,Virginia in the United States. Being a Canadian boy, I was a lover of hockey and there wasn't a lot of love for hockey in Virginia. But there was one event that changes all of that...

It was the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, a tiny village in upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains. This was the second time that the village of Lake Placid had held the Olympics, but this time around it was on a much grander scale. It was in the middle of a real low time in Morale in the US. Unemployment was high, gas shortages were everywhere, the middle of the Cold War was going on, and they had that bout with Iran, and the Hostage taking Crisis. Jimmy Carter was in what would prove to be his last year in the White House, and morale really couldn't have been lower.

But enter the US Men's hockey team...

A bunch of college kids taking on the World's best hockey teams, including nations who were expected to be heavy favourites. The Swedes, The Czechs, The Canadians, and the mighty Red Machine from the Soviet Union who had won every Olympic Gold medal since 1964. They boasted the world's best Goaltender in Vladislav Tretiak, and many hockey legends that simply dominated International Hockey.

The US was not supposed to contend in Hockey, and if they were to get any medal, it would've been a great accomplishment. There wasn't really a single standout star on the team, and the one player who would've been that star, Joe Mullen, left to play pro in the NHL. That left a team of college kids under the helm of fanatical coach Herb Brooks. Brooks himself was the last man cut from the Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Olympics just days before the Olympics started. That was the last time that the USA won Olympic gold, and he was not part of it. How heartbreaking that would've been...

But Brooks conditioned his team for 6 long months before the Olympics and had his team in great shape. They started out slow in every game, but seemed to continue on where other teams lacked the legs and that's when the magic started.

In the first game vs. Sweden, they were down 2-1 when they pulled Goalie Jim Craig for an extra attacker, and Bill Baker scored to tie the game with seconds left in the game, saving their medal hopes. Their next games vs Czechoslovakia was an upset win and they seemed to gain momentum in every win after that. Wins against Norway, Germany, Romania followed and the US found themselves in the medal round with the Soviets, Sweden and Finland.

They drew the Mighty Soviets in the first round game. The Soviets had just embarrassed Team USA at Madison Square Garden just days before the start of the Olympics 10-3 in an exhibition game. The sworn Cold War Rival of the USA was setting up the stage of the biggest upset and greatest moment in sports history.

Today, Feb.22, 2010 is the 30th anniversary of that game. Of course everybody knows the outcome, that they USA came from behind and beat the Soviets 4-3 and went on 2 days later to beat Finland to win the Gold Medal, upsetting the greatest hockey team in history, on home soil at the Olympics.

It was a fantastic moment. And not just for hockey fans. It was a moment unlike others before it. Instead of asking the question "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" it was a positive question. "Where were you when the Miracle on Ice happened?"

And that moment really did a lot to unite the Americans. It gave everyone around the States something to cheer about. There wasn't a moment that could've made the nation of the USA more proud. And 30 years later, it is still being felt.

This being the 30th year anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the Village of Lake Placid is starting a fundraising campaign to make the Herb Brooks Arena, the building where the Miracle on Ice happened into a living museum to reflect the event that took place on this day 30 years ago.

If you have some fond memories of that event, and you would like to contribute to the cause of making this event everything that it should be, please feel free to send your tax-deductable donation to:

Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum

2634 Main St.

Lake Placid, NY 12946

Phone: 800 462 6236 / 518 523 1655


Sunday, February 21, 2010

The 2010 Winter Olympics Games in Vancouver

First of all, I wanted to start out by saying how disappointed I was in the organizing committee for the Opening Ceremony. It was horrible...

Not to say that it didn't have its good points, but I just hate it when you try to please everyone because then, you just won't please anyone. Canadians, are always worried that we will upset somebody. Who will be hurt by not being represented in this showing of our culture? Did we include the Natives? What about the French, -did they get enough air time? How about the gay population, the handicapped, did they get their time as well?

I'm tired of having all of these sub-cultures complain about their 15 minutes of fame when the world is watching. If you are a proud Canadian, you are a Canadian first, then you are Native, French, English, Gay, or whatever. The representation of our red and white flag with a Maple Leaf is enough to make you feel that lump in your throat when you see your Olympic athletes come out of that tunnel. You cheer and support them regardless if they are white, gay, French, or whatever they are. They are country men and women, PERIOD.

Of course, you are going to hear the French population come across and claim that the ceremony wasn't represented as much as it should've been in French, considering that Canada is officially a Bi-lingual country. But in the effort to keep the ceremony interesting, and as reasonable that time would allow, it must be in the language that every country in the world speaks. -ENGLISH. This isn't a slight towards our French countrymen, because it is done in every Olympic games, because the international language is ENGLISH.

I can't tell you how embarrassed I was when all my friends from other countries sheepishly told me that they were surprised with how Canada chose to represent itself in the Opening Ceremonies, and I had to agree with them. It was embarrassing, but truly representational of how Canada will include everyone in their country. To be honest with you, I felt that Canada went WAY out of their way to include as many different sub-cultures as it could possibly fit in to make everyone feel included, while the world watched and wondered where our unified spirit went.

So to say I felt let down being a proud Canadian was an understatement. I wanted the world to see how Canada is really represented. -The good, and the bad. Show the world our hero’s and legends. (Where was anything of Terry Fox mentioned?!)

Show the world our funny stereotypes like Bob and Doug McKenzie, and let the world know that we can laugh at ourselves and still be proud Canadians. Show our Mounties, Armed Forces and Peacekeeping Forces, and let our elected leaders project that pride. I can't believe how little I saw of any of this. The Chinese had their culture front and centre for their Olympics and did a fantastic job of doing it. In comparison to their effort, I give Canada a "D+" for the entire performance.

I just hope the Men's Hockey Team can come up with a performance to unite us again as one nation of Canadians, because that's what Hockey seems to do in this country. No matter what, if you are a Canadian, you cheer for your hockey team wearing Red and White with that proud Maple Leaf on the front. And it's a lot of pressure, but everyone knows that anything less than Gold is a disappointment. And after the opening ceremony, I can't accept any more, so...


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Women's International Ice Hockey is Joke

This is why I don't like this sport. There are only 2 teams in the entire world that compete against each other. It's only a matter of luck if you are a woman's hockey player, and if you are born in Canada or the USA, you have a chance to win gold if you can make the team.

When you are beating up on other teams 18-0, it's embarrassing. It's certainly embarrassing to be beaten that badly, but worse, it's embarrassing as a Canadian to see your country run up the score unnecessarily against such an uncompetitive opponent. And don't give me this horseshit about "Goal Differential" Canada will always be playing for Gold no matter how many or how few goals they score on a team like Slovakia. It's poor form, in the biggest venue of the world; in the Olympics, and it's on home soil. Please don't embarrass us like this again.

And for the men playing Norway on Tuesday, please heed the same call. Just because you are stronger, doesn't mean that you run up the score.

That's completely void of class, and doesn't represent Canada well at all...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking a Blogging Break

I really do love blogging. It gives me the time in the morning, or whenever I feel like writing about nothing and everything on my mind. It stimulates me, and gives me that creative outlet that I have found that I really need and more importantly, enjoy.

A lot of people ask me, how I have the time to blog everyday, and I tell them simply, that I MAKE time for it. I really love it, and I feel the need to write everyday.

So that is what I am going to do...

Write everyday, but with a twist. I'm putting my blogging on the sidelines for now, while I concentrate on my book. I haven't been good about writing in my book lately, and to tell you the truth, I am disappointed about that. I really think that this book could be really great, and I think that right now, it is merely a great idea. I need to really work hard, and consistently at making my book great.

And so, that is why I am going to be taking a break from blogging on this site for a while. Oh, I'll add some here and there, but for the most part, I am going to concentrate on keeping my writing for my book.

I want to thank you for all your support lately in reading my blogs. I know a lot of people who won't be happy about this, but rest assured, it is really for the best. Like many people, I am not very good at dividing my time, and this will give me every effort to finish the first drafts of my book a lot sooner so that you can all read, and hopefully enjoy it.

Feel free to visit my site and view my blogs in my archive files in my abscence. Feel free to comment, and keep sending me your emails, I really appreciate the support;)


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Worst 30 Seconds of Being a Canadian...

What a great Superbowl yesterday!!

It was filled with action packed football, it had a great half-time show; it had all those commercials that were... Canadian. Ugh.

I swear, this is the one time a year that I am embarrassed at being a Canadian. During the 30 seconds slots in between plays in the Superbowl that sell for over 3.5 million for a time slot in the States, but here in Canada, just plain suck.

The thing is, I know that we are different from being Americans, but it doesn't mean that they get to have all the good commercials, and we get stuck with the Canadian ones!! That's not fair!! We're too nice of a nation to be subjected to commercials about Insurance, Cars, and Banks. -That's all we get during the Superbowl which is supposed to be the best of the best in terms of commercials.

Insurance companies, banks, and cars. That's the best you got?!

I thought the automotive industry was dead? So why are you spending millions advertising your foreign car amongst a bunch of boring commercials that we are just turning the channel from anyway?

Here's a tip... Canadians are pretty funny people. We enjoy a joke once in a while. So be a little funny, and we will remember your product, tell a friend about it in the dressing room, and generally give it some legs in the society we live in.

OR... You could keep advertising YOUR way, and completely turn us off. Oh wait, sorry...You've already done that.

Do you know that if someone walked up to me in a bar and said, "I've seen your commercials in Canada during the Superbowl. How do you live in a country that tolerates that?" I just might have to buy him a drink...In fact, maybe a double.

He's got a point...

We must have a bunch of old Victorian Bible-Thumping advertising executives that thwart away any new ideas coming into CTV... "Sorry, if it's not a car, insurance, or a bank, we can't advertise it."

Good policy.

In fact, the only thing worse than that advertising, was the advertising that the Olympics were coming to Vancouver...

Wow, now there's a newsflash. I didn't know that. -I'm glad that they kept using valuable airtime to advertise it over and over again, that the Olympics are coming to Vancouver. -Apparently soon too...

So if you asked me if I enjoyed the Superbowl last night, Check. Were the snacks good? Check. How were the commercials? Hang on, I'll have to check.

Maybe I'll look on a non-Canadian network, and see something funny for once...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

What a great American tradition!!

And this tradition has no border. There is no 49th parallel to divide North from South on this day. On this day, we are all football lovers. Indeed, numerically, we are just a small force of the people in the world who like American Football.

And even if you don't like football, or simply don't understand it, you get "Superbowl Sunday" don't you? It transcends much more than the sport itself, and it combines big business with tradition, and makes it a world class event every single year, regardless of who plays.

Families who may have never watched a football game all year will go over to a friend's house with platters of wings, nachos, chips, dips, and appetizers in hand and be happy just to watch the infamous commercials that cost 3.5 million for a 30 seconds slot. And if that doesn't float your boat, you can get off by watching this year's halftime entertainment; all the way from the depths of Hell and back again, The WHO.

And just to add some icing on this cake, you can actually be assured that the 2 best quarterbacks this season will be attending roll call today and will be gunning for their place in Superbowl history. These 2 teams were both undefeated until the 2nd last games of the year. I simply can't remember when #1 from the East played #1 from the West in the Superbowl...

So get out your charts, your pools, your wagers will count today! Enjoy the day with family and friends, and root for your favourite team (today)

Oh, and who am I rooting for? Well, I'm just hoping for a great game back and forth, but I would love to see the City of New Orleans have something to cheer about. The Sentimental Chuck is hoping for the Saints by a field goal, and letting the party on Bourbon Street celebrate a truly worthy victory, for a city that is long overdue for some Love...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brian Burke Loses His Youngest Son, Brendan, in a Car Accident

Just when you think that the rich and famous have it all, a day comes along like today that clears it up convincingly enough. The all-powerful Brian Burke, who holds titles such as President and General Manager of The Toronto Maple Leafs, and General Manager of the USA Olympic Team, lost his youngest son in a car accident late last night.

Brendan Burke was killed when his 2004 Jeep Cherokee slid into oncoming traffic, colliding with a truck, killing him and his 18 year old friend, Mark Reedy.

It is a moment that every parent fears. This moment seemed to have a much greater tragedy to me, than simply the facts of yet another young man dying in a chance accident. This story caught my attention because I was watching TSN in the late Fall 2009, and saw Brian Burke and his now late son Brendan talking about how Brendan was openly gay.

Obviously, there were a lot of concerns of how someone so powerful, macho, and old school like Brian Burke would take this. Being a man in his position, having an openly gay son in sports and the media, might tarnish his reputation. But here sat Brian Burke on TSN openly supporting his youngest son Brendan on a TV exclusive coming out for all to know.

I thought to myself that it takes great courage to be a man that would openly support his son and his lifestyle when it clearly would go against his own moral upbringing. To be honest, I was a bit surprised to see Brian Burke be so supportive of his son's decision to come forward, and live his life in the vast shadow that his father's reputation casts. Brian Burke has always been that hard nosed Irishman with a eye for calling a spade a spade.

Not that there is anything wrong with his son's choice, but in the past, you have seen other examples of celebrities children coming out, and receiving less than the support which you would expect a parent to show. But that day, Brian Burke surprised me. Surprised me so much in fact, that I wrote him an email telling him how I admired his actions, and that they spoke volumes about his character.

But today, I imagine his resolve is a bit different. Only a few months ago, his son had made a brave step forward with the support of his father, and now today, he is no longer with us. As tragic as that may be, Brendan's actions to come forward certainly will pave the way for countless others, to come forward and live their lives being openly gay.

But this will not take away the sting of the loss that losing a child will bring... My heart goes out to the Burke family, and all those in Brendan's life, whom he came into contact with that made a difference in their lives. I cannot imagine the pain and senseless hurt that they are feeling at this time. I just hope that they are left with the memory of their brave son, in his brief life that will undoubtedly pave the way for others behind him to live their life in the same courageous manner.

Rest in Peace Brendan Burke...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Morning Routines

When I wake up, the first thing I think of is, "Hmmmmm, Coffee!"

I was never a coffee person before, but now there is just no going back. If coffee were lethal to a human being, I would be dead at the end of today from a suicidal dose, and I would go out with a smile on my face. The worst thing is, I hate being a coffee lover. To me, it's like being a smoker, and being proud of it. I think I should be saying, "Yes, I'm a coffee lover, but I'm trying to quit..."

But not this cat...

I'm hooked, and today I can't have my precious cup of Joe. So what am I doing about it? I'm ranting to you because misery loves company.

I never realized just how much I love my morning coffee until I can't have it. The idea of it right now is like a crack addict looking for his next fix. And that person is me...

Like smoking, I'm quite sure that half of the addiction is by daily routine. I wake up, get my coffee, head to my desk, and start on my computer to face the day. I work, I blog and start my day, and all of this with a warm cup of Java on my desk. It's just a routine that I have that starts me off on the right foot, and when you get rid of it, you lose a part of your comfort zone. And nobody at my age likes that very much.

We all have our morning routines that start us off. I think that the older I get, the more I need these routines, whereas when I was a kid, I could care less about them.

I guess this is the time where I have accepted that I am a little bit crazy, and I know what I like.

And this morning, I really miss my morning coffee...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

It's the least known "Holiday" of the year, yet that silly Groundhog goes about his job every Feb.2 no matter what. Sounds like a characteristic of you and me, having to do the same thing everyday whether we like it or not, eh? lol

I always loved Bill Murray in this Movie, "Groundhog Day." He's done many great movies, but this is by far my favourite Bill Murray movie. Here demonstrates a miserable, loath able self-centred man, and everyday he gets the chance to better himself and make it a great day. No matter how many times he fails, he wakes up the next day just the same way he did the morning before. There isn't any yelling, chastising, or nagging about what he did wrong; he just has to do it again until he gets it right.

Of course, he has some fun with it in the beginning to make us laugh, until he gets the idea of what he needs to do. And I think that is the same metaphor that we could use in our everyday lives, isn't it?

So enjoy your Groundhog Day. It's another 6 weeks of winter, but hey, we live in Canada so we can enjoy it!!