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December 2007 Archives

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Freddie P. On TV

December 31, 2007 @ 10:29

Check out Live at 5:30 on CHCH this afternoon.

I make a year end appearance with Donny Skelly, guest co-host Mary Ann Meed Ward, and freelance TV critic Bill Brioux. (Mark Hebscher is pullin' his plank somewhere in downtown Dundas.)

On today's show we’ll discuss the good and bad of 2007.

Did you know that Bill Brioux lives not far from me in Brampton, and he loves it just as much as I do?

Bill and I spent a several minutes talking about “B-town” the other day and how it unfairly takes a bad rap.

Like I did, Bill is raising his kids and Brampton and can’t say enough about what it offers young families. The parks, recreational facilities, wide open spaces and safety.

By the way, Brioux has recovered nicely since being unceremoniously dumped last year by Quebecor who own the Toronto Sun. He was just another victim in a long list of people who gave their heart and sole to the company.

Bill is freelancing for several publications out of his home in Brampton and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Category: Television

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Marek Makes His Mark

December 30, 2007 @ 10:19

It was just by chance that I happened to be on my Ottawa Starchoice feed last night and saw Jeff Marek on Hockey Night in Canada.

He was doing the rink side stuff that Elliotte Friedman often does in Toronto and Jeff looked right at home.

I don’t know if this was Marek’s debut on Hockey Night in Canada, but when I saw him I wondered what must be swirling around his head. Appearing on Hockey Night in Canada is the dream of any young sportscaster in this country, and Jeff Marek has made it.

Eyebrows were raised when Marek left am 640 and his association with Bill Watters because many felt he was leaving conventional radio for satellite radio and that’s still considered precarious at this point.

But that wasn’t the entire story. Marek was leaving 640 to work for the CBC and Hockey Night in Canada, the vehicle that he would be hosting just happened to be on Sirius satellite radio.

Marek made the move with a long term goal in mind. He was promised opportunity within the HNIC franchise and other work with CBC including the Olympics so it was something he couldn’t say no to, and last night was just the first step in what I’m sure will be a long and lucrative career.

Jeff’s a good boy and I can’t help but think back to 2001 when I first started working with him at MOJO.

Marek became the newscaster on the Humble and Fred Show and I remember knocking heads with him during the aftermath of 911.

Jeff subscribed to the idea that American foreign policy was to blame for 911 and it would probably open the door for a war in the Middle East and an excuse for George W. to go into Iraq.

Marek laughed at the weapons of mass destruction stories while I supported them whole heartedly. Marek predicted a long and useless war in Iraq that would accomplish nothing but make a whole lot of people rich, and Marek predicted that Osama Bin Laden would never be caught because the Americans really didn’t “want” to catch him.

I vehemently disagreed with the naive young man and figured time would tell the real story and eventually he’d be forced to understand the realities of the situation.

Oh well.

Category: Friends | Sports | Television

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Abu Hasan And Me - Part Three

December 30, 2007 @ 10:18

I had dinner with my friend Abu Hasan on Friday night.

Back in March Abu sent me an e-mail that led to a meeting at a local Tim Horton’s and we’ve stayed in contact since then through the website.

On Friday our schedules finally allowed us to get together again and we met at a Somali restaurant called “Hamdi” on Rexdale Blvd in Etobicoke.

The food was interesting and was best described by Abu, who said it’s like Indian food without the hot spices. We had chicken and beef over a bed of rice and we washed it down with Mango juice and it was quite tasty.

When we first arrived at the restaurant I asked for a beer but quickly found out there was no liquor served at this Muslim restaurant. Liquor is a no no.

Oh well, I can go a few hours without a beer so I settled in and enjoyed the meal and good conversation with Abu who frets over the reputation of Muslims in Canadian society.

The vast majority of Muslims in Canada are good people he says. They are people who want to live in a peaceful and prosperous country and have nothing but distain for extremists who promote hate and violence.

They’re not even real Muslims says Abu because it’s widely believed within the religion that to kill one person is the equivalent of killing all mankind.

Abu Hasan has some other concerns as well. He’s concerned that Canada is being infiltrated by radicals and he’s concerned with cultural problems that are not being addressed by South Asians in particular.

We talked about the young girl in Mississauga, Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered by her father and Abu maintains that violence against women and children in South Asian homes is common and not really considered a problem as it is a way of life.

Like any problem it can’t be addressed until it’s recognized and to this point, it’s simply not recognized.

Again, this is not to say that this applies to all South Asian homes or that it's exclusive to South Asian homes because that wouldn’t be fair. But according to Abu, who’s a Canadian of Indian heritage, it definitely is a problem within that culture in Canada.

Give him credit for admitting it.

Category: Friends | Stuff

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Never Say Never

December 28, 2007 @ 11:30

To tell you the truth I’m not well versed on Pakistani politics and the wide spread corruption or Western influence when it comes to the so called ongoing war on terror, but I do know that we should count our blessings in Canada.

When the story first broke yesterday about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto I wasn’t surprised. I had followed her return to Pakistan enough to know that her life was at risk given the wonky political structure of that screwed up country, and the insincere support of President Pervez Mushareff.

I flipped on the TV and again wasn’t surprised by what I saw; the chaos, destruction and death. Bodies lying in the street in the aftermath of a bombing are a familiar sight from that part of the world but still something we can’t really relate to.

It’s something that happens “over there”, something that we see but can hardly believe yet at the same time take in stride because we live in a sense of security that tells us it doesn’t happen here and probably never will.

Can you imagine in Canada, just 18 days before an election, the leader of the opposition being murdered in the streets, shots being fired and then a bomb going off?

It’s not part of our world. In Canada you run for office and for the most part you win or lose on merit. If you win you govern to the best of your ability and if you lose you go find another job.

We don’t have to worry about outside forces corrupting the system and robbing us of basic democracy. The most powerful weapon in our democracy remains the ballot box and we should savour it each and every day and we should also protect it.

As Canada continues to grow and welcomes people from all corners of the world we have to make sure that our democratic system remains free and clear of the corruption that is practiced in so many other places.

The idea of such horror happening in Canada may seem far fetched at this point, but to write if off as impossible would be naive and careless.

Category: Stuff

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Leafs 2008

December 26, 2007 @ 12:00

My first observation looking towards the New Year deals with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If you love them, really love them, you will want them to lose every game they play staring tonight on Long Island, and right through the end of the season.

If you love your Leafers and you want them to return to lost glory there is only one way for it to happen and that’s for them to fall to the bottom of the standings and then work their way up again.

This is not rocket science or nothing new or profound, it’s the way successful hockey organizations become successful. We all know it but it never happens in Toronto.

I don’t have to go on about MLSE and they position they’re in. Answering to shareholders and the Teachers Pension Fund means they need playoff games, and that’s why they’re patchwork attempts at building a team have put us where we are.

The ironic part is that patchwork has actually seen them miss the playoffs the past couple of seasons, so they’ve pretty well wasted two years on the road to respectability.

Oh no, I haven’t forgotten that they didn’t have decent draft choices the past couple of years because they dealt them away in dumb as trades that they’re still paying for.

I’m talking ideally. If they had made the right choice to take the proper route three or four years ago they would have been leaps and bounds ahead of where they are now and who knows, maybe they'd have a future superstar in the lineup.

But they don’t. It’s the same old crap and the only way its going to change is for it to get worse before it gets better and that brings me back to my original point.

If you really love the Leafs you will want to lose every game they play starting tonight. When the game begins, get it in your head. Bad is good. The worse they are the better.

It’s a simple concept that could bring joy through pain and there are many examples of other teams going through the same thing to get to where they are now.

I’m going to stop now. I could go on about the importance of good ownership and management to make the right decisions to pull this off, but then I look at the Leafs drafting record over the past four decades and it’s not very good.

As it stands, Maple Leaf management is more than capable to fall to the bottom of the standings, it’s climbing back up that poses the problem.

Category: Sports

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A Desperate Man

December 26, 2007 @ 11:59

Category: Sports

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Have A Good One

December 24, 2007 @ 10:19

It's Christmas Eve so I thought I'd get away from the usual tone of this blog and extend my best wishes to each and every one of you.

I had a look at my most recent postings and thought, "holy cow, they're a little on the serious side for a couple of days before Christmas, I better soften things up with a little dose of nicety."

I can get back to all that other crap on Wednesday.

I don't plan on doing much today, other than just hanging out with the family and preparing for tomorrow.

I shipped in a big order of beer. I got some Moosehead, which my son likes, one of those Molson Pleasure Pacs for those who like Canadian or Coors Lite, and of course I got myself a big box of Bud Lite to get me through the next couple of days.

The Bud Lite cases come with NHL toques and I just know 2008 is going to be a good year because the first case I bought had a Leafs toque in it. Since then I've gotten Washington and Colorado, but hey, that's better than Montreal or Ottawa.

Have you ever had bark? My wife makes great bark and she's really gone to town this year and I'm paying for it with a couple of extra inches of flab on my midriff.

Bark is salted crackers covered with a mixture of brown sugar and butter, and then a layer of melted chocolate. It sounds simple, and to some I'm sure it might sounds gross, but its bloody good.

It's addictive. As fast as Delyse makes a pale I wolf it down which means she's had to keep the production line going. Yesterday she hid what she made and in order to get some more I had to bark for my bark.

That's right, she made me bark for my bark. But that's OK because I used to bark a lot on the Humble and Fred Show. For no particular reason, sometimes it's all I could come up with.

Maybe that's why my ass is on the sidelines right now.

Hey, here's a turkey tip. Try one of those "cook from frozen" turkeys. I know right now there are millions of people throughout North America who are worried that their turkeys might not be thawed by tomorrow. A turkey of size takes about three goddamn days.

A while back we tried one of the Butterball cook from frozen bastards and it was fabulous. They're already stuffed. They take longer to cook obviously, but they are so convenient.

Simply remove from the freezer and plunk in the oven. (remove the wrapper first)

I've got a twenty-two pounder, which means I'll have to put the son of a bitch in the oven about eight o'clock tomorrow morning, but who cares. Throw it in and let her go.

Here's another turkey tip. Take it out about ten degrees earlier than recommended. Then let it rest covered with a thick towel for about 90 minutes. Remember, turkeys continue to cook after you remove them from the oven.

By taking them out early, they don't over cook, and there's nothing worse than a dry turkey.

You go to all that trouble and then ruin the prick.

I'm also making a ham tomorrow. Not one of those fully cooked ones that you heat up and always have a funny taste to them. No, this one you actually have to cook and I'm going to do it on the barbeque. Mmmmmmmm.

I'll light the burner on one side and then place the ham on the other side and close the lid for about two and a half hours, medium heat. Good shit.

My wife makes a fabulous ginger gravy to go over the ham and I'm telling you right now, its makes the ham every bit as inviting as the turkey.

It should be a great day tomorrow; however we will have a heavy heart when we open gifts in the morning. It will be our first Christmas without our beloved Billie. We treated her like one of the kids with a stocking and presents every year.

But hey, what are you going to do? Time and age can be such a fucker.

Anyway, all the best and I'll leave you with this video.

Category: Family | Stuff

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Searching For Racism

December 23, 2007 @ 11:18

The world really has gone mad. In the good old days someone like Chris Simon would stomp on somebody’s leg with his skate blade, he‘d get a suspension and that would be the end of it.

But not in 2007.

No, today it’s got to be twisted into a racial issue even though the vast majority of people didn’t even think along racial lines to begin with. In todays politically correct, over analyzed world, the very people who don’t want race brought into situations often do it themselves.

A fine example is First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine who turned the Simon suspension into stereotyping of native people.

It blows me away.

When Simon was suspended on Wednesday, the fact that he was native never came to my mind. And when NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell suggested Simon get help through the leagues “drug and alcohol program”, I failed to make a link between his problems and his native heritage.

But Chief Fontaine did.

Even though Simon apparently doesn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol and it’s strictly an anger management problem, Simon will still be directed through the leagues Substance Abuse and Behavioural Health Program, and that’s what Campbell was referring to.

Here we have a situation where one player stomps on another player with his skate and he’s suspended, and even though he's been offered help, which he asked for, it’s been turned into a racial issue by Fontaine who claims the very suggestion that Simon might have a drug or alcohol problem creates a stereotype.

Here’s what he said.

“It was extremely hurtful to Mr. Simon, and his many fans, including those in our First Nations communities, to hear from Mr. Campbell that such behaviour is related to drug and or alcohol abuse. Mr. Simon, and all of his fans, would like to hear an apology, especially since it smacks of stereotyping."

Stereotyping? How?

If anything, it’s Fontaine who’s perpetuating any stereotype. I’m convinced the vast majority of hockey fans who saw the incident and then heard about the suspension and then became aware that Simon had been offered help, even if they thought it was alcohol related, did not assume it was brought on by his native heritage.

It probably didn’t enter anyone’s mind until Phil Fontaine brought it up.

Chris Simon has been suspended seven times by the NHL and the last two incidents included clubbing a player with his stick and stomping on another player with his skate but its Colin Campbell who’s been turned into the bad guy for using the term “drug and alcohol” instead of “substance and behavioral.”

Chris Simon wanted help and he was offered help. That should have been the end of it.

Category: Sports | Stuff

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December 23, 2007 @ 11:17

Further to the Simon incident, how much of a hypocrite is Don Cherry?

Last night on Coaches Corner he came to the defense of Chris Simon and said he "understands" why Simon stomped on Pittsburgh Penguin Jarkko Ruutu's leg during a game last weekend.

"He broke the code, you never do anything like that, but you can understand it somehow," said Cherry. "The last two incidents that he's done, he's got 55 games. You know how many games his victims missed? None. I'm not making excuses for it, but none."

I know what Cherry’s getting at because I heard a few other guys defend Simon in a sideways manner this past week.

Ruutu is considered one of the NHL’s rats. One of those weasels who’s gained a reputation for doing underhanded things on the ice, but in the Don Cherry world of masculinity and integrity how could even suggest there was anything acceptable about what Simon did.

He's stooping to Ruutu's level.

Put it this way. For stomping on Ruutu’s leg Simon got thirty games. If he had gone the route that Cherry always advocates, dropping the gloves and fighting a man face to face, fist to fist, he may have gotten no games.

Even if Simon had chased Ruutu down, cornered the rat and kicked the shit out of him in a one way fight, he still wouldn’t have gotten thirty games.

What Simon did is indefensible on every level and to “understand” it, is a bit weird.

And Cherry’s argument that Simon’s suspensions have been too long because his victims haven’t missed any games is ridiculous. The intent and Simon's history justifies everything.

Having said all that, kudos to Cherry for his stance on the tedious racism angle and then for taking a shot at the even more tedious David Suzuki.

Category: Sports

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The Sweet Sound of Romy

December 22, 2007 @ 09:06

I made this point last year; one of the highlights of the Christmas break is the World Junior Hockey Championship that gets underway on Boxing Day.

Unfortunately, for the past several years the tournament has been missing one significant ingredient and that’s our pal Paul Romanuk.

Say what you will about Paul’s politics, when it comes to calling a hockey game there are few better. His voice became synonymous with World Juniors and then it came to an abrupt end when he made the decision to leave TSN for the doomed “Team” radio experiment.

Since then the play by play duties have been handled by Gord Miller, and although capable, he’s not nearly the equal of Romy.

Having said all that, you can still enjoy Romanuk’s over the holidays on Rogers Sportsnet. For the past few seasons Romanuk has been calling the games of the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland.

Admittedly, it’s not the World Juniors but it’s a good brand of hockey played by a bunch of guys who absolutely cherish the chance to wear the maple leaf on the front of their jerseys.

The Spengler also gets underway on Boxing Day, and at this point I’ll direct you to Romanuk’s website where he’s set up a Spengler Cup blog.

Please take the time to go over there and read some of the stuff he’s already written. It’s interesting to find out how he became involved with the tournament and the significant position he now holds.

Romy’s a good fella.

Category: Sports | Television

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