Posted in Community, government, Life, politics, Toronto

What the Ontario Liberal Party, NBA referees and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford have in common


I have to be honest.

I’m pissed off.  I am fired up and I have not felt this way in a LONG time.

What has me all fired up, you ask?  Well it is the common bond that ties together Ontario Liberal Party leader Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the referees of the National Basketball Association (NBA) who “officiated” the Toronto Raptors series against the Brooklyn Nets.

Any guesses?

Let me throw out a couple of terms which come to mind;

Stupidity.
Incompetence.
untrustworthy.

… and with all of these terms there is the one thing that binds them – that they are all completely inadequate at doing their jobs – and the frustration that they will not be punished for their inadequacies.

I’m at a loss.

Let’s start with the Premier of Ontario who took over from the former Premier but won this leadership role without a) knowing of any wrongdoing by the party before and b) took part in any decisions which were wrong (ie/shredding documents).  She thinks the people of Ontario are not aware that she is the exact same as Dalton McGuinty.

Really, Kathleen Wynne should not Wynne (err, win) the upcoming Ontario election, right?  She’s lied, played dumb, and is suing anyone who talks shit about her. She has proven to be a clone of Dalton McGuinty – spend first, then delist services and tax later. Then blame the Conservatives… Or the NDP.

Now that the campaign is on, I listen to her talk and no matter what she says, I cannot hear her.  I want to hear her – her message, her thoughts on the Province, on the city I live in, and on the hot button issues, but I cannot.  She talks and talks and I hear, “blah, blah, blah” and that noise is the past 9-years of Liberal rule and the lies, and waste that they have created all the while running the Province without any public scorn that has come the way of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (more on him coming up).

I’m angry because I feel like no matter what she says there are a whole lot of Ontarians who are going to vote for her anyways because the Liberals are the middle of the road party so a vote for them is a “safe” vote. But it’s an expensive vote!

I’m even more frustrated because I do not feel that the PC’s leader is fit for the job – he’s not warm and fuzzy like Dalton was – and no one wants to see a NDP government in power (thank you Bob Rae), I’m afraid for Ontario…

Now on to Toronto and Mayor Rob Ford, who continues to show even his most ardent supporters that he’s somewhere between a moron and a giant moron when he tells the public he’s not drinking anymore, that his drug use was a one time affair (drunken stupor, anyone?), and then he continues to get caught doing the things he’s been stating he was not doing.  On video yet!

So here is what I know now about him.

He’s a liar.
He’s a thug.
He has addiction problems.
He is in denial, and he thinks that the public will continue to forgive him time and time again.

That was until this latest video emerged of him getting high, talking rudely about fellow colleague Karen Stintz and in doing so, flushing away his chances at re-election.

So he pulls the rehab card.

And while everyone knows he should have been in rehab a long time ago, he has “checked into” the world’s most effective treatment facility where after one week he is able to make outgoing calls and report that he feels “incredible”.

This time no one buys it, and trust me… in the same way the Toronto Star refuses to touch the George Smitherman story, they will find Ford and expose him again.  Even toying with the idea of Doug Ford running for mayor was thrown out, the bottom line is that Rob Ford will not and can not be Mayor come the next election.  Politics is about trust and he’s blown it time and time again.  I don’t trust him, the people of Toronto don’t trust him and those who were out to get him from election day (hello Joe Mihevc) are laughing and laughing.

The final piece of this puzzle of stupidity have the names and faces of the referring crew who handled the Toronto Raptors series against the New Jersey (err, Brooklyn) Nets.  Foul after foul called on the Raps and you started to understand that the whispers surrounding this series might be true – that no Canadian team was going to beat the Nets.

Even after acknowledging that the Nets tanked their last 2 games of the season to set up a playoff series with the Raps, the league said and did nothing, and while fouled after foul were committed against the team from Toronto, they said little more.  It got to be so obvious that even in the game 7 loss, the refs called a foul on Kevin Garnett of the Nets instead of Deron Williams because Williams would have received his 6th foul and fouled out of the game, whereas KG could take another.  On this specific play, it was 100% clear that Williams bear hugged and took down the Raptors player and sat on the floor hands together as if praying not to be called.

Clearly guilty.

Until determined to be innocent by the referees.

It was awful.  Embarrassing.  A black eye for a league which already had to deal with a referee who was cooking games for betting purposes.  The league would have been wise to comment at any point in time to suggest there was nothing happening – even suggest there would be a review – but the league was silent and the Raptors lost.

 

So here I sit, frustrated that Wynne, Ford and these referees continue on today as if they have legitimacy in their roles but they do not.

They lie, cheat and steal and until we, the public, have our say and force them to find a different job, we will continue to be frustrated, and shake our heads in bewilderment.

 

 

Posted in music, news

You Gotta Fight… Beastie Boys Adam Yauch Passes Away at Age 47.


It’s always surprising when someone so young dies, especially when famous, but the death of Beastie Boys Adam Yauch today, May 4th after a 3 year-long battle with a rare form of cancer, salivary gland cancer, caught me by surprise.

Yauch, 47, also known by his rap moniker “MCA” co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz in 1979 in Brooklyn, N.Y.  The Beastie’s smashed onto the music scene in 1986 with the album “Licensed to Ill” and from that the anthem “Fight for your right to Party” which was a massive hit for the band putting them on the charts and bringing hip hop into the mainstream.

After transforming the hip hop industry – white guys don’t rap, let alone Jewish ones (Yauch was born to a Jewish mother and Catholic father but was a practising Buddhist) – Yauch turned his attention to Buddhism and Tibetan independence in which he helped set up the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, which helped raise money for Tibetan independence.  He felt that he needed to give a voice to the Tibetan cause and help them get free from Chinese rule.

Yauch also helped form the successful production company Oscilloscope Pictures, which many did not know about him, which released acclaimed films such as “Wendy and Lisa,” “Burma VJ” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

Under the pseudonym “Nathanial Hörnblowér” (his middle name was Nathanial), Yauch directed many of the Beastie Boys’ music videos, making his televised debut as Hörnblowér at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards as he stormed the stage in costume to protest after R.E.M. won the award for Best Direction over the Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys video “Sabotage”, which was a great video and a really good song.

I suspected he was starting to lose his battle with this disease when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, and Yauch was not there – the award was accepted by Diamond and Horowitz although they read a letter written by Yauch and them, nad the other bands dedicated their performances to Yauch.

Yauch leaves behind his wife and daughter who would be around 14-years-old.

Did you know this fact about the Beastie Boys; According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term mullet – the hairstyle which is short on the top and long on the back – was “apparently coined, and certainly popularized, by the Beastie Boys who used “mullet” and “mullet head” as epithets in their 1994 song “Mullet Head”.  The Beastie Boys’ fanzine Grand Royal Magazine was the first to use the term in print

Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch dies at age 47
Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch dies at age 47 (Photo credit: rusty-boxcars)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=evA-R9OS-Vo

Check out www.beastieboys.com for more!

Posted in family, Life

It’s nice to be back from summer vacation


Home sweet home.

I missed you home.  I missed you bed.  I missed you air-conditioning, especially after spending 2 1/2 weeks in a car and on a boat in the heat, with 3 very energetic children.

We had a wonderful time and a tiring time as the same time on our family vacation.  Read on to see how we survived and maybe you will find some ideas for a trip with your families.

Since I do not generally like to announce my impending vacations, I kept this one quiet but now I can spill the beans and talk about this trip and how we became friends with Irene.  Hurricane Irene that is.

At a very high level here was what we did;

Our trip began with a nice relaxing drive from Toronto to Rochester, NY in which we had to pull off the 401 (Canada’s busiest highway) so my 4-year-old son Stewie could pee. Sure I asked them to pee before we left and yes he was the one who didn’t need to, but while we were standing on the shoulder with cars zipping by, he took the longest pee ever recorded on the cement barrier separating the West-bound traffic from the East-bound traffic. It never ended. My wife started laughing, and then I did too.

As well, having all 3 kids in the same row of the car was… Interesting.  When they were not doing the WWE / UFC and trying to kill each other, they were quietly playing on their iPad‘s, watching the Cat in the Hat, or playing Angry Birds or Plants versus Zombies.

So we left beautiful sunny Toronto at 1:23pm and arrived in Rochester just past 8pm. We stayed at the Strathallen Hotel and it was awesome. There were some nice things to do close to the hotel, but we arrived late in the evening (kids bed-time is normally 7:30pm) and it rained SO much that there was immense flooding in the area we decided to grab a pizza and hit the sack. Of course the kids wouldn’t eat the pizza so they ate the fruit we packed and went to bed really late in the night, a pre-cursor of things to come. As well, a huge tree around the corner from the hotel uprooted, blocking off the road. Little did we know the rest of the damage.

Rochester looked like this:
http://youtu.be/TiwmY6Vn304

After it stopped raining, Rochester looked like this:
http://youtu.be/pNMpF1eFqhc

For our Rochester activity, we took in the Children’s Museum and it was fantastic! The kids loved it, there was so much to do there and we raced from display to display. We of course stopped in the middle to eat grapes and watch the pouring rain.

The 14th of August, our museum day, looked like this after the rain left:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPWuP_8FclE&NR=1

I’m pretty sure we caught the tail end of this mishap as we sat in the car and watched the police drain the water into the sewers under this bridge. The car had probably just left.

From Rochester we drove to Howes Caverns, NY and we stayed in the motel and went into the Caverns the next morning. It was very cool… Literally. My wife had to purchase a hoodie from the gift shop prior to the adventure. The 45-minute trip was fun, the tour guides were very knowledgeable and they get extra credit for the boat ride that they had to paddle the 20 of us through. All in all, it was totally worth it and the kids loved it.

Later that day we headed closer to New York and stayed at a horrid Super 8 motel in New Paltz, New York. It was small and gross and the only thing that saved it was the 24 hour coffee and the “breakfast” the next morning. Sure the coffee in the morning was just coloured water, but at night when I needed it, it was hot, wet and strong.

From New Paltz, we headed into Brooklyn, New York where we had rented a floor in an old brownstone through http://www.airbandb.com. What an amazing experience. Not far from where Jay-Z grew up, we were on the top floor of this historic building in a pretty interesting area. We parked the car in front of the building and left it there for 3 days until we had to move it for the street cleaning.
An aside: Do you know how hard it was to find cottage cheese or plain yogurt in Brooklyn? I mean why spend $5.99 on yogurt when you can buy a prepared dish full of preservatives and salt for $1.99. That was one horrible realization for us. Might be a reason for rising obesity rates in Americans…

From our headquarters in Brooklyn, we hit the subways and headed into the City. Navigating the subway was easy enough but lifting the stroller up and down the stairs, not so fun. That and the subway staff couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you had directions or not, or if you paid or not. They often chatted with each other instead of tending to the people around or they mumbled their responses back to everyone. The announcements were inaudible. These guys could learn something from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) who had dramatically improved the clarity of their announcements, especially when calling out stations. But all that aside, we were really worried about Berry who hates subways, and the first trip we took she was held by her mummy, head down on her shoulders and very scared. But as we travelled, she really started to enjoy the subway trips, and eventually she came around. Whenever someone looked at her, she would point to herself and say, “Berry”, then wave and say hi. She had quite the audience and considering how friendly New Yorkers are, each trip was a lot of fun. She had plenty of new-found friends to keep her company and give her attention and we had one less frightened child with us.

We hit the City every day and visited a bunch of must see shops, like; M&M store, Lego store, FAO Shwartz (kids played on the giant piano there), Disney store, bead shops and TD Bank which has no ties to the Canadian TD Bank… Very odd there.  We walked to Canal Street and bought Cherries, raw peanuts and strawberries from the vendors, we bought a Hello Kitty backpack for Berry and Angry Birds t-shirts for the boys. We took a cruise of the skyline and saw the Statue of Liberty and the new and old Twin Towers locations. We walked up down and sideways the City, my step count for the Global Corporate Challenge was in the 40,000’s almost every day. We ate Dim Sum in Chinatown and found yogurt in Manhattan. We took in a unique Chinese candy store and had the kids pictures taken with New York’s finest. It was a hot, tiring, but really fun experience. We had very little rain, usually in the evenings and the apartment we rented had air conditioning and Netflicks so the kids were kept cool and they watched Phineas and Fern, Dora and Diego and other kids shows to bide their time from their 6am wake up’s.

By Saturday – a week later – we had said goodbye to Brooklyn and we drove to the pier in Manhattan where we parked for only $21/day so we could hop onto the Norwegian Cruise Ship, the Jewel, for a week long cruise.  The Jewel is identical to the Pearl which we had been on before, however this time with 3 kids we needed 2 staterooms and we had adjoining cabins with the ocean views (we were concerned about having balcony’s). Each room had a bunk bed and a pull out, but we ended up sticking the 3 kids in one room and we hung out in the other.

The cruise was good, the kids camp was okay (although for the life of me I never understand why they won’t: 1) change the kids – not an issue this time around, the boys are 4 and 6, but was a huge problem on the Pearl when Stewie was left standing in the corner soaking wet because they would not ask him if he needed to pee and he forgot, and they didn’t want him sitting and getting the floor wet. 2) Why the kids are inside all the time. 3) Why the kids watch movies in the camp. I don’t pay all that money for my boys to cruise so they can watch TV.  I can turn up the heat at home and we can do that here.

Anyways, we had Berry with us for the trip and that was fine as she was too young for the kiddie camp.  As a family, we all ate together, we swam, we walked the ship endless amounts of time and we walked up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator from the 5th floor, to the buffet on the 12th floor whenever possible and that includes Berry.

Speaking of Berry, she stole the show this cruise with her knowledge of her body parts in Tagalog, with all the Filipino staff calling out for her to perform – which she obliged to do – and the other staff asking for a wave and a smile. Since this ship was also a Nickelodeon ship, and my daughter loves Dora the Explorer, this doubled her fun. “Berry see Dora… Yeh-hey” was her cry. She was one very happy camper. Linus on the other had was miserable. He had bumps on his tongue and refused to eat anything healthy, sticking to the starches – bread, pasta, crackers, cereal and it took him 4 days to get something with vitamins and nutrients in his body before he could have any treats – which turned out to be the night of the chocolate buffet.

So we saw Dora, Diego, Sponge Bob, Patrick Starr and 2 other guys – Chum Chum and Fan Boy if I remember correctly at the character breakfast and at other events for the kids.  It got to the point that the Nickelodeon crew would point out Berry to the characters and she would get hugs and high fives.  She loved them and they loved her.  She had a blast.

Our had 3 scheduled stops; Port Canaveral Florida, their private beach and Nassau in the Bahamas.

We stayed on the boat and swam on the Florida day, taking an hour in the afternoon to taxi into Cocoa Beach to buy bottled water and to play on the beach. Our $24.00 case of water was cheaper than the ships $4.50 a liter water. It was a good buy even if we had to shlep the leftover bottles with us back off the ship. I’ll never forget my wife’s comment to me as we were packing them up; “Start drinking!”

Also in Florida, we walked around Ron Jon’s – which was identified to us as being a tourist destination – it was very cool in there and super hot and humid in Florida so that worked for us. Taking Berry into the ocean for her first time was a lot of fun. We walked to the beach and dipped in our toes, but because it was so hot and the water was sooo nice the 5 of us ended up soaking wet, the boys essentially jumped into the water fully dressed. That was a ton of fun until walking back when they started complaining about being wet, tired and full of sand.

It was also in Florida where we got more information on Hurricane Irene. It was really coming.

From that point I started with my Hurricane Helms sayings… “Stand back, there’s a hurricane coming!” I had the kids doing it too. It fit.

The following day on the Great Stirrup Cay expedition we met a couple couples, both from the NY/NJ area, and we hit it off with a couple from NJ who had kids around the same ages as our boys. We hung out with them the rest of the trip. It made it more fun for us because of the adult conversation and it gave us an opportunity to keep our kids up late and hang out as families.

A side note from the NCL private beach was that Linus got stung in the inner thigh by a jellyfish. He was complaining of an itchy rash on his leg and it looked really ugly, but when I saw an older teen complaining about the same thing, I asked the lifeguard and he said, “oh yeah! There are jelly fish and they sting!”. Thanks buddy. So we went to the dive hut and they sprayed it with vinegar which stung a LOT.  Linus crumpled to the floor crying and the woman there said in a very monotone delivery; “I won’t kid you, the vinegar stings worse than the bite, but it will get better”.  No shit.  Really.

10 minutes later he had completely forgotten about it.

Another highlight of this beach was the outdoor buffet and our 4-year-old eating machine, Stewie, who ate 2 giant hamburgers at 11am topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions.  These were big hamburgers, not the small thin ones. 

We never did make it to Nassau as a result of Hurricane Irene scheduled to be there the same day as us, so the ship turned and booted it for Washington where we stayed for 2 days in the middle of the ocean.

We came into Manhattan and everyone got booted off the ship earlier so the Jewel could take the next group into the ocean before the storm hit.  We got into our car and headed out to visit my wife’s uncle and then to New Jersey to hang out with her cousin. 

While in Jersey we were west enough that the hurricane hit at night when we were sleeping and the following day there was a lot of wind, but we were not in any danger.  The kids LOVED staying inside and playing on their iPads with their cousins and playing with toys and eating treats they would not get at home.  I was watching the clouds fly by in the sky, I took a walk in the storm (and got soaked), my wife went to Target to shop for school supplies, and the kids had the blast.

We hung out for an additional day and left the next morning at 8am, arriving in Toronto at 10:30pm after stopping at every rest station and to shop.

A fun, yet tiring vacation. 

Would we do it again?  Sure.  If there was a way to seperate the kids, it would be better.  Or maybe a shield like they have in cabs.  Watching Berry using the back of his fist to backhand smack Linus every now and then was funny – it’s what she saw them doing, but the mouth fart noise that Stewie taught her… So NOT cool.

I love NY!