Sunday, December 23, 2007

And yet another response to the first page of comments from the CBC's link:

My blog was linked by the CBC in reference to my "fight" with Canadian Tire -- although I'd hardly call it a fight. I was sold a defective item, returned it and was told I wouldn't get a full refund because I didn't have coupons that I didn't accept at the time, and I queried the company about it.

And no, I'm not the Lee profiled in the piece, which some people seem to be having trouble understanding.

I have no real qualm with Canadian Tire in general. I find it to be an adequate store, no better or worse than most other large retailers. I don't really care about the CT "money" program either. If others choose to use it, that's terrific. I don't.

But isn't it a fair assumption to make that CT writes the cost of its rewards program into the merchandise it sells? What company doesn't do that, and why wouldn't they -- they're out to make profits, not friends?

The "money" is simply a way to get customers back into Canadian Tires, and again, there's nothing wrong with that. But if CT really wanted to help you out, wouldn't it just lower the prices on everything across the board by 1%? Couldn't CT just take the money it spends administering the rewards program (printing money, making up flyers, etc) and donate that directly to charity?

I would expect Canadian Tire to do neither. CT obviously has an extremely successful program and would be foolish to abandon it. But folks, see it for what it is -- marketing, plain and simple. This is a corporation, not your kindly Uncle Bob in Minesing.

As for the people who work for CT, I'll stop in my local store right after Christmas and check out what you said about signage. I do know, however, that there is no such signage at the Canadian Tire gas bar I frequent. I can also assure you the $.40 I didn't take in my last trip went right back into the cash register. If there's some mechanism for separating that out at the end of shifts and making sure it goes to charity, please let me know so I can add that info on my blog.

My response after being linked by the CBC's web site:

I’m the fellow whose blog is linked above.

I’d hardly classify my exchange with CT as a “fight”. I sent a note to their customer service department discussing my displeasure with selling with the defective product the company sold me and to question why I lost out on $.40 from a rewards program. The company chose to send what appeared to a form letter, which I posted.

Reading through the comments here and some of the nasty notes I’ve received at my blog, it’s nice to immediately be labeled as dishonest or an idiot because I raised the question of why CT doesn’t simply post something at the registers about mentioning before the transaction that CT “money” can be kept off a receipt by request. I’ve also received some pretty vile stuff and one assumedly empty threat, but that’s what comes with having a blog, I suppose.

I’m also a little shocked to see the number of people who seem to think Canadian Tire is giving out “money” out of the goodness of its heart. Handing out what are in essence coupons is just a marketing trick to get consumers back into the store – a good one and a nice one, but a marketing ploy nonetheless. If CT was really nice, they’d just lower the price on everything in the store by 1-2%, wouldn’t they, and save consumers the hassle of redeeming the cash?

As for donating the money, in the future I’ll make clear to the cashier that’s what I’d like done. I hadn’t thought about it before because I hadn’t had to return a defective product, and didn’t really care about the $.25 or whatever I might be pitching out – and frankly, I kind of thought the company might be doing it on its own anyhow. However, the money I turned down that day went right back into the register.

Just the picks again! We were 1-1 in the two early games.

Cleveland (-2½) at CINCINNATI: Cleveland 34, Cincy 30.
Green Bay (-8) at CHICAGO: Packers 24, Bears 17.
Houston (+7) at INDIANAPOLIS: Colts 29, Texans 20.
Kansas City (+5) at DETROIT: Lions 30, Chiefs 17.
Miami (+22.5) at NEW ENGLAND: Patriots 30, Dolphins 13.
N.Y Giants (-2) at BUFFALO: Giants 19, Bills 16.
Oakland (+13) at JACKSONVILLE: Jaguars 31, Raiders 20.
Philly (+3) at NEW ORLEANS: Saints 27, Eagles 20.
Washington (+6.5) at MINNESOTA: Vikings 27, Redskins 21.
Atlanta (+10) at ARIZONA: Cards 34, Falcons 13.
Baltimore (+10.5) at SEATTLE: Seahawks 23, Ravens 16.
NY Jets (+9) at TENNESSEE: Titans 24, Jets 23.
Tampa Bay (-6) at SAN FRANCISCO: Bucs 28, 49ers 23.
Denver (+8) at SAN DIEGO: Chargers 37, Broncos 16.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sorry, just the picks this week!

Denver (-1) @ HOUSTON: Broncos 23, Texans 20.
Cincinnati (-8) at SAN FRANCISCO (42): Bengals 23, 49ers 17.
Arizona (+3.5) @ NEW ORLEANS (47.5): Cardinals 26, Saints 19.
Atlanta (+12) @ TAMPA BAY (39): Bucs 27, Falcons 16.
Baltimore (-3) @ MIAMI (37): Ravens 20, Dolphins 10.
Buffalo (+5.5) @ CLEVELAND (41): Browns 23, Bills 20.
Green Bay (-7.5) @ ST LOUIS (44.5): Packers 30, Rams 20.
Jacksonville (+3.5) @ PITTSBURGH (37): Steelers 20, Jags 19.
N.Y. Jets (+22) @ NEW ENGLAND (43): Patriots 40, Jets 14.
Seattle (-7) @ CAROLINA (37): Seahawks 34, Panthers 13.
Tennessee (-4) @ KANSAS CITY (33.5): Titans 29, Chiefs 10.
Indianapolis (-10.5) @ OAKLAND (45): Colts 23, Raiders 19.
Detroit (+9) @ SAN DIEGO (46): Chargers 26, Lions 19.
Philadelphia (-9.5) @ DALLAS (49): Cowboys 30, Eagles 17.
Washington (+4) @ N.Y GIANTS (37): Giants 24, Redskins 17.
Chicago (+9.5) @ MINNESOTA (43.5): Vikings 23, Bears 14.

Lock of the Week: Tennessee

Trifecta: Tennessee, Oakland, Seattle

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Welcome to Week Fourteen of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where our losses are higher than Barry Bonds’ hat size.

The Hoser stumbled to an 8-8 week against the spread and went 9-7 straight up. Frankly, we really have no idea how we managed to get to even last week, but as we’re still hanging on to be above .500 for the season, we’ll just be grateful. Of course, Houston reverted to being Houston and boned us for the Lock and Trifecta.

Oh, and we already blew the Chicago/Washington game. Yay!

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as having two girls share one cup.

Carolina (+10.5) at JACKSONVILLE – O/U 37.5: We don’t necessarily disagree with the line here, but if the O/U is that low and the Panthers put up 31 last week, is a 10-point spread really advisable? Jaguars 27, Panthers 17.

Dallas (-10) at DETROIT – O/U 51.5: Matt Millen’s on his way to his car after a Lions game when two muggers jump him. Millen fights savagely, but the thieves finally subdue him and turn out his pockets.
“Man, you fought that hard for $1.25?” asks one of the muggers.
“Oh, man,” Millen says, “I thought you were after the $300 in my sock!”
Cowboys 36, Lions 20.

Miami (+7) at BUFFALO – O/U 36: Go watch that “Two Girls One Cup” video instead. It’ll be more pleasant. Bills 20, Dolphins 17.

New York Giants (+3) at PHILADELPHIA – O/U 42.5: We looked at this five or six times and still can’t figure it out – why the hell are the Eagles favoured? Giants 23, Eagles 20.

Oakland (+11) at GREEN BAY – O/U 41: Didn’t the Raiders just hammer Denver? Isn’t Brett Favre banged up? Does it really matter? Packers 30, Raiders 20.

Pittsburgh (+10.5) at NEW ENGLAND – O/U 48: Yes, we know it’s a sucker bet, but that little bitty half a point is going to make us bite here. Patriots 29, Steelers 20.

San Diego (PK) at TENNESSEE – O/U 41: We think Norv & Co. is figuring it out. Step One: Hand ball to LT. Step Two: Repeat Step One. Chargers 23, Titans 19.

St. Louis (+8) at CINCINNATI – O/U 47: We have loofahs less porous than Cincy’s D, and Rams’ QB Marc Bulger returns just in time to clean up. Rams 29, Bengals 23.

Tampa Bay (-2.5) at HOUSTON – O/U 40.5: We’re rooting for the Bucs just because QB Luke McCown makes us think of the fan scene in Tommy Boy. Buccaneers 23, Texans 17.

Arizona (+6.5) at SEATTLE – O/U 44.5: The Cards should have lost last week, and they will this week. Seahawks 26, Cards 23.

Minnesota (-8) at SAN FRANCISCO – O/U 39: We have learned – never, never bet the 49ers to cover anything. Vikings 30, 49ers 14.

Cleveland (-3.5) at N.Y JETS – O/U 48: Think Chad Pennington has sold his house yet? Browns 28, Jets 20.

Kansas City (+6.5) at DENVER – O/U 37.5: Why isn’t anyone talking about Mike Shanahan getting fired? Broncos 26, Chiefs 16.

Indianapolis (-9.5) at BALTIMORE – O/U 42.5: The Colts are too banged up and the Ravens are pissed. Colts 24, Ravens 20.

New Orleans (-4) at ATLANTA – O/U 43: Yay, it’s Monday Night … and … maybe there’s a rerun of “House” or something. Saints 26, Falcons 19.

Lock of the Week: New York Giants

Trifecta: New York Giants, St. Louis, Baltimore

Final Week 13 results:

ATS: 8-8

SU: 7-9

Lock of the Week: 0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: -$760

For the season:

ATS: 94-90-8

SU: 125-67

Lock of the Week: 4-9

Trifecta: 1-12

The Money Game: $-4,180

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good Lord.

Go check out this dude launching a Suzuki Samurai about 15 feet in the air.

Bo and Luke would be so proud.

I know this is lame, but I swear on my autographed David Carr mini-helmet I haven't looked -- Chicago 24, Washington 20. That's my pick for the Thursday night game.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An update on the Canadian Tire "money" post from last week. Here's the response I received from CT:

Dear Mr. Frazer,

Thank you for contacting our office regarding your recent experience.

We apologize that this product did not meet your expectations and thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention. It is through the input of customers like yourself that we are best able to monitor such concerns and identify areas of possible improvement.

Please be assured Canadian Tire Corporation and our Associate stores strive to provide both quality products and excellent service to our customers.

Canadian Tire "Money" or Canadian Tire "Money" on the card is earned on all purchases paid for by cash, debit, Canadian Tire Credit Card and Options MasterCard. This program, exclusive to Canadian Tire, rewards our cash paying customers as well as our Canadian Tire cardholders instantly for their purchases.

Canadian Tire "Money" is treated with the same care and can be used in the same fashion as actual money. One dollar in Canadian Tire "Money" is equal to one actual dollar in our stores. Due to this fact, when a product is returned it is expected to have the Canadian Tire "Money" that was earned returned as well. If the Canadian Tire "Money" is not returned the amount will be deducted from the refund. If you do not wish to receive any Canadian Tire "Money", simply inform the cashier at the start of the transaction. Your receipt will then show that no Canadian Tire 'Money' was earned and will not be deducted if you return the item.

Products purchased on the Canadian Tire Credit Card and Options MasterCard, when returned, will automatically have the Canadian Tire "Money" on the card deducted.

In a situation where a customer is using a credit card other than Canadian Tire, Canadian Tire "Money" is not issued for the simple reason that the customer will be benefiting from the reward program issued by that financial institution.

Our success is based on the voice of our customers. We thank you for providing us with the opportunity to respond.


Customer Relations Representative
Canadian Tire Corporation Limited

So ... a form letter. Thanks for all the personal service, CT. Much obliged.

I also appreciate finding out three years after my first visit to a Canadian Tire that if I ask the cashier not to give me CT "money" (the company's own quotation marks, not mine), it won't appear on the receipt. Someone want to let me know if that's posted anywhere in the store or at the register? I'd think someone would have mentioned it to me during one of the 100 or so transactions where I've declined it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Atlanta (+3) at ST. LOUIS – O/U 41: An awful, awful matchup – like if Phyllis Diller and Dom DeLuise released a sex tape. Falcons 22, Rams 20.

Buffalo (+6) at WASHINGTON 6 – O/U 37½: Bills fans know all this evil can be traced to benching Flutie for Johnson. Redskins 24, Bills 19.

Detroit (+3) at MINNESOTA – O/U 45: Cue up those Matt Millen jokes in 3…2…1… Vikings 26, Lions 20.

Houston (+4) at TENNESSEE – O/U 43: When you can only muster six points against the Bengals, you’re done. Texans 27, Titans 13.

Jacksonville (+7) at INDIANAPOLIS – O/U 45: The Jags looked dominant against a bad team last week. The Colts looked lackluster against a bad team last week. Are we reading too much into that? Colts 27, Jaguars 26.

New York Jets (+1) at MIAMI – O/U 38: At 0-11, the Dolphins are favored by a point? That’s like Vegas backing Glass Joe. Jets 21, Dolphins 16.

San Diego (-5) at KANSAS CITY – O/U 37½: The picture’s becoming clearer in KC – don’t say cheese, say Kolby. Chiefs 22, Chargers 19.

Seattle (+3) at PHILADELPHIA – O/U 43: How disheartening for Eagles fans is it that A. J. Feeley looks better at QB for Philly than Donovan McNabb? Eagles 22, Seahawks 20.

San Francisco (-2½) at CAROLINA – O/U 35: The “Rhea Perlman/Danny DeVito” sex tape. 49ers 22, Panthers 17.

Tampa Bay (+3) at NEW ORLEANS – O/U 42: We’ll take slow n’ steady over amazing but inconsistent. We reserve the right to reverse this decision if Garcia sits. Buccaneers 23, Saints 19.

Cleveland (PK) at ARIZONA – O/U 52: Cleveland’s high-powered offense meets Arizona’s waterwheel-powered defense. Of course, vice versa also. Cardinals 33, Browns 30.

Denver (-3½) at OAKLAND – O/U 42: We may end up with the No. 1 overall pick in our Fantasy Rookie Draft next season, but we’ll also earn the “Patience of Jobe” Award for hanging onto Justin Fargas for this long. Broncos 27, Raiders 17.

New York Giants (-2) at CHICAGO – O/U 43: The Bears could guarantee themselves a win if they wore purple jerseys. Bears 23, Giants 20.

Cincinnati (+7½) at PITTSBURGH – O/U 46: Ocho Cinco’s back. Unfortunately, so’s Cincy’s defense. Steelers 29, Bengals 20.

New England (-20) at BALTIMORE – O/U 51: People are saying Philadelphia made the Patriots look human last week. Folks, there’s nothing human about New England. Patriots 43, Ravens 13.

Lock of the Week: Houston

Trifecta: Houston, Chicago, Jacksonville

Over/Under Good Buys: Cleveland/Arizona Over

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Welcome to Week Thirteen of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we finally got the kick to the jimmy we'd so been waiting for all season.

The Hoser was an atrocious 4-12 week against the spread and just 10-6 straight up. Had Rams backup QB Gus "KY" Ferotte actually held onto the ball on fourth down against Seattle, however, we had a great chance to come out to the good for the week with the Trifecta. Instead, we'll have to settle for nailing our Oakland Lock down to a one-point differential.

We're also sorry to see Ricky Williams manage just six carries before going out for the season. The good news is he appears ready to rent himself out as a dance floor.

The remainder of the picks will be posted tomorrow morning.

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as the folks at right your headlines. One of Thursday's read, "STEELERS PLAYERS WANT TO KEEP GRASS". Are they trading for Ricky?

Green Bay (+7) at DALLAS -- O/U 51.5: The Cowboys have been on a roll, winning five straight. But Dallas's defense isn't all that terrific, having given up more than 20 points to powerhouse offenses like Buffalo and Washington.

We still think Romo and Owens shine big and bright deep in the heart, but Brett keeps it to within a field goal. Cowboys 27, Packers 24.

Final Week 12 results:

ATS: 4-12

SU: 10-6

Lock of the Week: 1-0

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: -$560

For the season:

ATS: 86-82-8

SU: 118-58

Lock of the Week: 4-8

Trifecta: 1-11

The Money Game: $-3,420

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Canadian National Sportcard Expo held twice a year in Mississauga. It's a long and labourious process to haul everything in, set it up and then tear it back down again.

This year, I thought I would be smart enough to buy myself a nice handcart, so I stopped at Canadian Tire on my way to the International Centre on Thursday night (after hitting Home Depot and finding one lousy cart with plastic wheels for $100).

Canadian Tire is very similar to Wal-Mart, but switch clothing and entertainment to automotive and household products. They occasionally have some spectacular bargains, but then, so does everyone else.

CT had the requisite cheapo models for around $20, but they also had a heavy-duty cart rated for 600 pounds on sale half-off for $44.99. It appeared to be repackaged, but that doesn't bother me -- I figure all the parts must be there or it wouldn't be put back out for sale.

Normally I'm a cheapskate, but this time I spent the extra money, figuring I could loan it out to others at the show and not have to worry about it breaking.

On Thursday nights, you're able to drive your vehicle into the building, so I didn't need the cart. I came home pooped and set the alarm for 6 a.m. to assemble my new toy.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the packaging and found one of the pieces which holds the major wheel axle not welded to the cart's frame. This rendered the cart useless, and of course it was too early to return it for another, which added up to me having to rent a cart at the show (actually, I got it for free by trading baked goods, but that's another story).

I finally got around to returning the cart a few days ago. The young girl behind the counter didn't seem too thrilled to see me when I handed her my receipt.

I explained that one of the parts wasn't welded, blah blah. She didn't seem to understand the difficulty, but she also didn't seem to care.

"Do you want another one?" she asked.

"No, I don't," I said. "I think this one was repackaged and it was broken, so I'd prefer just to get my money back."

"Okay," she replied, "but do you have your Canadian Tire money?"

I didn't get what she was asking at first. For those of you who are unfamiliar, CT money is doled out as a percentage of what you spend in the store. It spends the same as regular money in the store, and CT sometimes has special days where you can get double and triple your CT cash.

I never take the stuff. It's unwieldy, inconvenient and I frankly don't like CT enough to shop there enough to save up for anything. I do use a Canadian Tire gas station frequently, but I always tell the clerk to keep it. I believe they save it up and then go to the store to buy something for themselves.

On my $44.99 purchase, I had earned $.40 in CT money -- or less than 1%. So I had refused it. The salesperson simply put it back in the register.

"Oh," my current clerk said. "Well, we have to take that off your refund."

"Why?" I asked. "I didn't take it. I never take it."

"It still has to come off," she replied.

I didn't argue with her, because she doesn't set the policy. So I put it to you, Canadian Tire executives -- are people buying large, cheap (and broken) items from you and then returning them for $.40 in fake money a huge problem? Do you have people purchasing lawn mowers at $1K a crack on triple cash days, then bringing them back for the $30 it nets them?

I hope so, because your theft of my $.40 when you sold me a broken item will keep me out of Canadian Tire stores for a long time to come.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Welcome to Week Twelve of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where if you like ‘em big, Vegas is catering to you.

The Hoser posted a decent 8-6-2 week against the spread (hate those three- and 10-point lines) and was 12-4 straight up. Of course, we managed to blow every single one of our extra picks. This week, we’re just throwing darts for those – after we remove the 8x10 of Ann Coulter that resides on our board now.

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as having your wife head for the bathrooms off Ramp D at the Meadowlands.

Green Bay (-3.5) at DETROIT – O/U 47.5: Brett Favre’s mojo vs. a team that racked up a whopping 10 points against the Giants. Tough call. Packers 27, Lions 16.

NY Jets (+14) at DALLAS – O/U 48: Eric Mangini will run out of phones before the Cowboys stop scoring. Still, the line’s too big. Cowboys 34, Jets 21.

Indianapolis (-11.5) at ATLANTA – O/U 41.5: Joey Harrington earns a pair of wins, then gets benched when Byron Leftwich returns. Now the Falcons name Harrington the starter again. We’ll give Joey $50 if he walks out for the coin flip, drops trou and takes a dump on the team logo at midfield. Colts 28, Falcons 17.

Denver (-2.5) at CHICAGO – O/U 41: Remember when people used to fear the Bears’ defense? Broncos 23, Bears 17.

Tennessee (-1.5) at CINCINNATI – O/U 47: Which will suck less, the Titans’ offense or the Bengals’ defense? Titans 27, Bengals 20.

Buffalo (+7.5) at JACKSONVILLE – O/U 36: Did anyone hear John Madden talking Sunday night about eating a bunch of Buffalo wings billed as “suicidal”? What do they have for a septic tank on the Maddencruiser – a missile silo? Jaguars 23, Bills 14.

Oakland (+6) at KANSAS CITY – O/U 34.5: Great special at Arrowhead Stadium this week – buy two bratwurst combos and get one carry as a Chiefs running back. Raiders 20, Chiefs 16.

Houston (+3.5) at CLEVELAND – O/U 51.5: We’re hoping Phil Dawson gets a McDonald’s commercial with MJ and Bird – “Off my foot, off the upright, off the standard, nothing but confusion.” Browns 30, Texans 24.

Seattle (-3) at ST. LOUIS – O/U 44.5: The sad thing is after St. Louis wins this game, they’ll only be three games off the division lead after starting 0-8. Rams 26, Seahawks 20.

Minnesota (+7) at N.Y GIANTS – O/U 41: Tarvaris Jackson threw the ball 22 times last week and we’re wondering, “Why?” Giants 24, Vikings 14.

New Orleans (-2) at CAROLINA – O/U 41: Does anyone else look at Carolina’s receiving totals and think, “Dale Jarrett?” Panthers 22, Saints 20.

Washington (+3.5) at TAMPA BAY – O/U 37.5: Boy, that Clinton Portis trade has sure done wonders for the Redskins, hasn’t it? Buccaneers 20, Redskins 19.

San Francisco (+10.5) at ARIZONA – O/U 38: The 49ers picked up exactly one more rushing first down than The Hoser did last week. That’s no way to run a football team, son. Cardinals 29, 49ers 13.

Baltimore (+9.5) at SAN DIEGO – O/U 38.5: Can we start turning Matt Millen jokes into Norv Turner jokes now? Chargers 23, Ravens 16.

Philadelphia (+21) at NEW ENGLAND – O/U 49.5: With McNabb out for this game, we expected to see a +∞ for Philly. Patriots 40, Eagles 17.

Miami (+16) at PITTSBURGH – O/U 42: You lose to the Jets and you get a 16-point spread the next week? Oh, the Dolphins, right. Steelers 34, Dolphins 13.

Lock of the Week: Oakland

Trifecta: Oakland, Green Bay, St. Louis

Final Week Eleven results:

ATS: 8-6-2

SU: 12-4

Lock of the Week: 0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: -$560

For the season:

ATS: 82-70-8

SU: 108-52

Lock of the Week: 3-8

Trifecta: 1-10

The Money Game: $-2,860

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Welcome to Week 11 of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we faltered for a second straight week.

The Hoser struggled to a 6-7-1 week against the spread and 8-6 straight up. In our defense, we were told San Francisco would actually be fielding an NFL team in Seattle.

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as calling Barry Bonds as a character witness.

JACKSONVILLE (-3) vs. San Diego 40½: Strictly an anti-Norv pick. Jaguars 24, Chargers 17

INDIANAPOLIS (-14½) vs. Kansas City 42½: No Freeney, no Harrison, no Ugoh ... no cover. Colts 27, Chiefs 14

MINNESOTA (-5½) vs. Oakland 35½: If you wait long enough, someone actually will score in this game. Raiders 16, Vikings 10.

Cleveland (-3) at BALTIMORE 44: The youthful Browns aren't ready for this yet. Oh, and take the under here big. Ravens 19, Browns 17.

Pittsburgh (-9) at N.Y JETS 40: We hate the Jets, but we don't hate Kellen Clemens. Steelers 23, Jets 17.

Tampa Bay (-3) at ATLANTA 35½: Our gut tells us to go with the Falcons, but then our gut told us to go for three Taco Bell gorditas last night. Good thing the wifi reaches into the can. Buccaneers 23, Falcons 19.

CINCINNATI (-3) vs. Arizona 48½: The Cardinals are inconsistent, but the Bengals flat-out suck. Cards 31, Bengals 20.

PHILADELPHIA (-10) vs. Miami 41: The John Beck era starts today ... with a big loss. Eagles 34, Dolphins 17.

New England (-15) at BUFFALO 47: We've been riding the Pats all year long, but the Bills keep this to within a couple scores. Patriots 30, Bills 20.

DALLAS (-11) vs. Washington 46½: The spread seems too big. It isn't. Cowboys 35, Redskins 16.

New Orleans (PK) at HOUSTON 47½: The Texans get Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson back this week. Yay. Texans 27, Saints 24.

GREEN BAY (-10) vs. Carolina 38: Enjoy the ride while you can, Packer backers. It ends in Dallas in a couple weeks. Packers 27, Panthers 13.

N.Y Giants (-2½) at DETROIT 49: The Lions are 4-0 at home, and isn't it about time for a Tom Coughlin choke job? Lions 29, Giants 23.

St. Louis (-3) at SAN FRANCISCO 39½: Only the 49ers could be dogs at home in this case. Rams 28, 49ers 17.

SEATTLE (-5) vs. Chicago 37½: Hey, Rex Grossman's back! Seahawks 20, Bears 13.

DENVER (-2½) vs. Tennessee 38½: Travis Henry's banged up, but there's good news -- he's gained the naming rights to the former Holiday Bowl. This year, Air Force and BYU will meet in the Zig-Zag Smoke-A-Bowl. Broncos 21, Titans 20.

Lock of the Week: Oakland

Trifecta: Oakland, Detroit, Baltimore

O/U Good Buys: Cleveland/Baltimore under, Minnesota/Oakland under

Week 10 results:

ATS: 6-7-1

SU: 8-6

Lock of the Week: 0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: -$760

For the season:

ATS: 74-63-6

SU: 96-48

Lock of the Week: 3-7

Trifecta: 1-9

The Money Game: $-2,300

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Week Five Final numbers:

ATS: 7-6-1

SU: 10-4

Lock of the Week: 0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game:

Damn you, Brett Favre.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Welcome to Week Five of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we’re still marvelling at former Barry Bonds gal pal Kimberly Bell’s statement that despite the fact she’s nude in Playboy in a couple months, she’s not a golddigger. Right, and I’m Jimmy Kimmel.

The Hoser had another ugly week, going 7-7 against the spread and a miserable 6-8 straight up. Also, not only did we miss the Lock of the Week, but we missed all three games of the Trifecta. Right now I don’t think we could pick Barbra Streisand’s nose.

Weight-loss company Nutrisystem has launched a campaign centering on ex-NFL players slimming down. Why hasn’t anyone called Tony Siragusa about this?

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as having Travis Henry watch your stash.

Carolina (+3) at NEW ORLEANS: Dear Saints fans, we hope you feel better soon. Here is quarterback David Carr to help you on your road to recovery. Love, Carolina. Saints 23, Panthers 21.

Jacksonville (-2.5) at KANSAS CITY:
The Hoser gives credit where it’s due – we thought the Chiefs were deader than vaudeville this season. We don’t like this pick, but we can’t go against the Arrowhead homers two weeks in a row, and no, we’re not getting free brats for saying that. Chiefs 26, Jaguars 24.

Detroit (+3.5) at WASHINGTON: Detroit is 2-20 against Washington since 1968, but how can the Lions be an underdog to a team that signed Keenan McCardell for receiver help? Lions 23, Redskins 17.

Atlanta (+8) at TENNESSEE: One more week of this and we’ll be able to put our Joey Harrington autographed Oregon Ducks mini-helmet back on eBay! Only $39.99! Titans 23, Falcons 19.

Miami (+5.5) at HOUSTON: Startling news from the world of marine biology – dolphin language can now be converted into English. According to scientists, the first message translated as follows: “Please ask the SPCA to file suit against Miami to have them change their mascot. It’s demeaning to us.” Texans 22, Dolphins 21.

Seattle (+6) at PITTSBURGH: The Hoser shouldn’t be the one to point this out, but Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren probably needs to lay off the latte. His manboobs are starting to make Phil Mickelson look like Twiggy. Steelers 31, Seahawks 20.

Cleveland (+16) at NEW ENGLAND: Sixteen points is a really, really big line. And the Patriots are a really, really good team. Patriots 34, Browns 17.

Arizona (-3) at ST LOUIS: Football fans in St. Louis are looking forward to the return of their old team. They aren’t, however, looking forward to the return of Brenda Warner’s hair. Does she take a troll doll to Magic Cuts for reference? Cardinals 30, Rams 13.

New York Jets (+3) at N.Y GIANTS: The Giants recorded an amazing 12 sacks against Philadelphia last week. Due to injuries, however, the Eagles were apparently forced to start Stephen Hawking at left tackle. Giants 23, Jets 21.

Tampa Bay (+10) at INDIANAPOLIS: How good is Indy’s front office? Knowing the team would need a tackle, the Colts traded their 4th rounder this year and first rounder next year for San Fran’s second-round pick – and took Tony Ugoh, who has been fantastic this season. Bill Polian should be running the world. Colts 30, Buccaneers 22.

San Diego (+1.5) at DENVER: We’re rooting for Denver. If the Chargers blow one more game, The Hoser staff will be able to start recycling all our Matt Millen jokes into Norv Turner material. Chargers 27, Broncos 26.

Baltimore (-3.5) at SAN FRANCISCO: With the injury to Alex Smith, the 49ers will turn to Trent Dilfer at quarterback this week. Does anyone else view Dilfer’s Super Bowl ring with the Ravens like a safety award for a monorail driver – as long as you don’t totally screw things up, how could you possibly get in serious trouble? Ravens 23, 49ers 13.

Chicago (+3.5) at GREEN BAY: Bears quarterback Brian Griese attempted 52 passes last week in a loss to Detroit. That’s a sign of The Apocalypse, isn’t it? Packers 24, Bears 20.

Dallas (-10) at BUFFALO: Filling in for the injured J.P. Losman, Bills rookie QB Trent Edwards led his team to its first win of the season last week. Some people have wondered if this would lead to a quarterback controversy, but we think it’s ridiculous – that’s calling Losman a quarterback. Cowboys 34, Bills 13.

Lock of the Week: Dallas

Trifecta: Dallas, Arizona, New England

Final count for Week Four:

SU: 6-8

ATS: 7-7

Lock of the Week: 0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: $-760

For the season:

SU: 38-24

ATS: 29-30-3

Lock of the Week: 1-4


The Money Game: $-1,520

Friday, September 28, 2007

Welcome to Week Four of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we’re still trying to figure out how Oklahoma State University head coach Mike Gundy thinks screaming maniacally at a female reporter during a press conference makes him look like a stand-up guy. The Hoser’d rather have Jason Voorhees overseeing our kids.

The Hoser had a lousy week, going 7-7-2 against the spread and 11-5 straight up. Our Trifecta was a mess, and Washington was an uninspired choice for a Lock of the Week. For a look at some good picks, check out AP writer Dave Goldberg, who went a stellar 12-3-1 ATS last week.

Michael Vick tested positive for marijuana use this week, which may mean a stiffer sentence. It seems like a bad decision, but it can’t totally be blamed on Vick – the state set him up with a counsellor from the Tommy Chong Clinic.

This week, we up the Lock of the Week money to $500 to keep the betting at $2,000 per week. Our bookie said he doesn’t mind – it all ends up in his pocket eventually anyway, and thanked us for his new wine cellar.

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as having Vince Wilfork crawling around your house.

Oakland (+4) at MIAMI: This is the NFL’s version of “Nobody’s Watching”. Dolphins 23, Raiders 21.

Houston (-3) at ATLANTA: It’s good to see things running smoothly in Falcon country. Vick dogs it, DeAngelo Hall flips out – and Atlanta brings back Morten Andersen for the second year. That’ll fix it! Texans 22, Falcons 16.

Baltimore (-4½) at CLEVELAND: With the Browns’ total lack of understanding on how to handle young quarterbacks, The Hoser bets we’ll see Brady Quinn in the worst situation possible this week – against the Ravens’ defense. Ravens 24, Browns 14.

Chicago (-3) at DETROIT: Newly named Bears QB Brian Griese gets it easy his first week, given that the Lions defense handles itself with the aplomb of John Pinette in a Pepperidge Farms outlet. Bears 31, Lions 20.

Green Bay (-2) at MINNESOTA: Packers QB Brett Favre should break the record for most career passing TDs this week. He already owns the record for “Most Incredibly Stupid Passes Forced Into Triple Coverage”. Packers 23, Vikings 20.

St. Louis (+12.5) at DALLAS: Without Steven Jackson and Orlando Pace, the Rams are deader than George Hamilton. Wait, what? But he looks so dead on those Ritz commercials! Cowboys 33, Rams 10.

New York Jets (-4) at BUFFALO: The Bills would be underdogs to the New York Islanders this week. Jets 26, Bills 14.

Tampa Bay (+3) at CAROLINA: Delhomme will play, and then he won’t play. The Hoser is betting he won’t – although it probably wouldn’t make any difference. Buccaneers 21, Panthers 16.

Seattle (-2) at SAN FRANCISCO: Ah, 49ers fans, we hope you enjoyed those two weeks of false hope. At least you can laugh at the Rams this season. Seahawks 26, 49ers 23.

Pittsburgh (-6) at ARIZONA: The Hoser staff thought it smelled a great marketing opportunity after last week’s surprise performance, but Cards QB Kurt Warner shot down our planned “Second Coming” t-shirt line. Steelers 30, Cardinals 21.

Kansas City (+11.5) at SAN DIEGO: We would not want to be Larry Johnson this week. Actually, with LJ playing for the Chiefs, we wouldn’t want to be him any week. Chargers 31, Chiefs 16.

Denver (+9.5) at INDIANAPOLIS: Quick, what’s greater – the number of points given up by the Broncos in Indy their last two trips, or your best guess as to what President Bush would score on an I.Q. test? Hint: Denver’s rolled over for 90. Colts 37, Broncos 21.

Philadelphia (-3) at NEW YORK GIANTS: The Hoser staff had to wait until Thursday to start writing this week – it took that long for our eyes to readjust after seeing those monstrosities Philly wore last week. They appeared to be patterned after the taffy-and-cotton-candy upchuck outside a Tilt-A-Whirl. Eagles 28, Giants 23.

New England (-7) at CINCINNATI: A simple equation – Patriot offense + Bengal defense = Marvin Lewis doing that stupid Pepto-Bismol dance. Patriots 37, Bengals 24.

Lock of the Week: New York Jets

Trifecta: New York Jets, Baltimore, Chicago

Final count for Week Three:

SU: 11-5

ATS: 7-7-2

Lock of the Week: 0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: $-560

For the season:

SU: 32-16

ATS: 22-23-3

Lock of the Week: 1-3

Trifecta: 0-3

The Money Game: $-760

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome to Week Three of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where it’s tough to figure out what’s weirder – the Texans being 2-0, or Wayne Newton being on “Dancing With The Stars”. That guy’s face is stretched tighter than Larry Birkhead’s credibility.

The Hoser had a decent week, going 9-7 against the spread and 11-5 straight up. We also nailed the Steelers for the Lock of the Week, but Cincy killed our Trifecta. Is it us, or wasn’t there a time when Marvin Lewis was a defensive genius?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said this week the door was open for more sanctions against the New England Patriots in CameraGate. The Hoser is pulling for double secret probation and a kegger at the Delta Tau Chi house.

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as asking O.J. up to fluff your pillows.

Indianapolis (-6) at HOUSTON: They say everything’s big in Texas – but this line ain’t big enough. Colts 30, Texans 20.

San Diego (-4.5) at GREEN BAY:
Our crack staff came up with a list of Turners who might be better head coaches than the Chargers’ Norv – Ron, Ted, Kathleen, Tina, Ike and Lana. And yes, we’re aware Lana is dead – what’s your point? Chargers 26, Packers 20.

Minnesota (+2.5) at KANSAS CITY: It’s hard to tell which problem is bigger for Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson – overcoming his groin injury, or getting people to realize there are two “r”s in his first name. Chiefs 20, Vikings 17.

Detroit (+6.5) at PHILADELPHIA: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb looks rusty and RB Brian Westbrook is banged up. God help me, what I’m trying to say is – I like the Lions in this one. Lions 24, Eagles 23.

Buffalo (+16.5) at NEW ENGLAND: Holy geez. You’d think the Patriots were playing Notre Dame. Patriots 31, Bills 16.

Miami (+3) at NY JETS: Looks for back-up John Beck to make his debut soon, as Dolphins QB Trent Green gets picked more than Ben Wallace’s afro. Jets 22, Dolphins 17.

San Francisco (+8) at PITTSBURGH: Everything’s going right for the Steelers so far this season – except for that abomination of a mascot. That thing looks like Kirk Douglas after going 12 rounds with Joe Louis. Steelers 26, 49ers 19.

Arizona (+7.5) at BALTIMORE: Leonard Pope caught the first touchdown pass of his NFL career last week. Cards QB Matt Leinart said he would have thrown to the 6-8 tight end earlier, but thought Pope was a back-up goalpost. Ravens 22, Cards 21.

Tampa Bay (-3.5) at ST. LOUIS: Where might the problem with the Rams lie? Well, after running back Stephen Jackson apologized for last week’s sideline tirade, St. Louis head coach Scott Linehan said, “(Stephen) knows it's not productive to get cross with people, but that's what happens.” He actually said “get cross” – and then referred to Jackson as a “real pip” and went outside to pick wildflowers. Buccaneers 27, Rams 24.

Jacksonville (+3) at DENVER: From the “We Can’t Make This Stuff Up” Department – Broncos kicker Jason Elam will be releasing his first novel, Monday Night Jihad, early next year. It’s about a terrorism-fighting placekicker who also doubles as a supermodel – we believe it's based on the life of Toni Fritsch. Broncos 24, Jaguars 17.

Cincinnati (+3.5) at SEATTLE: The Hoser wonders how many quarterbacks have ever lost a game in which they threw six touchdown passes? Bengals QB Carson Palmer might get close again, as this game will feature all the defense of the Maginot Line. Seahawks 34, Bengals 31.

Cleveland (+3) at OAKLAND: In an attempt to stop the icing of kickers, the NFL has instituted a new rule – any coach successfully screwing up a made field goal with a time out will now be kicked in the sack by Sebastian Janikowski. Raiders 29, Browns 27.

Carolina (-4) at ATLANTA: By the time you finish this sentence, former Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich should be starting for the Falcons. Panthers 22, Falcons 13.

New York Giants (+3.5) at WASHINGTON: Sorry, The Hoser was going to say something about Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs, but Tony Kornheiser stopped by and slobbered all over our copy. Redskins 27, Giants 20.

Dallas (+3) at CHICAGO:
Bears QB Rex Grossman is ranked dead last in passer efficiency so far this season, but there is still no truth to the rumour that Lovie Smith has Chicago’s front office trying to find a number for Bob Avellini. Bears 19, Cowboys 17.

Tennessee (+4.5) at NEW ORLEANS: And you thought The Tragically Hip’s “New Orleans Is Sinking” was eerily prescient when it came to Hurricane Katrina. Saints 24, Titans 23.

Final count for Week Two:

SU: 11-5

ATS: 9-7

Lock of the Week: 1-0

Trifecta: 0-1

The Money Game: $+260

For the season:

SU: 21-11

ATS: 15-16-1

Lock of the Week: 1-1

Trifecta: 0-2

The Money Game:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Going into the Sunday night and Monday games:

SU: 10-4

ATS: 8-6

Lock of the Week: 1-0

Trifecta: 0-1 (Cincy, bite my shiny metal ass)

My possible future brother-in-law, however, hit two different four-team parlays.

I'll be over here drinking and crying.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Welcome to Week Two of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we’d like a head count of the number of people in the Eastern and Central Time Zones who stayed up for the end of the San Francisco-Arizona tilt Tuesday morning. Was it more than normally watch Chuck Norris flog that crappy Total Gym thing?

The Hoser didn’t see the end of that game, but that’s okay – Bill Belichick taped it for me.

Speaking of unwatchable crap, Keith Olbermann is doing guest spots for NBC, including a weekly piece entitled “The Worst Person In The NFL.” For his opener, Keith chose himself, which was good – we’ve heard less contrived banter at a George Bush presser. C’mon, Keith, loosen up and call Tiki out for being a dong!

The Hoser had a pretty lousy week, going 6-9-1 against the spread and 10-6 straight up. The Lock of the Week was a push, and of course we blew the Trifecta. In the words of David Byrne, “Same as it ever was.”

On a serious note, our thoughts go to Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett. Thanks to the terrific work by the sideline staff in Buffalo, Kevin at least has a chance to walk out of the hospital. The folks at The Miami Project also deserve a big nod, and you can visit them at

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as sending Steven Jackson out for some eggs.

Buffalo (+9.5) at PITTSBURGH: Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger is dating “Heroes” star Missy Peregrym – and you thought Hines Ward made nice catches! Steelers 33, Bills 13.

Cincinnati (-6) at CLEVELAND
: The Browns this week swapped Week One starting quarterback Charlie Frye to Seattle. Hey, at least he lasted longer than FOX’s “Anchorwoman.” Bengals 30, Browns 14.

Indianapolis (-7) at TENNESSEE: The Colts thrash the Saints by 31 and they can only get a touchdown against the Titans? Your classic trap game, and The Hoser advises avoiding this one like Keira Knightley avoids shower drains. Colts 29, Titans 23.

Houston (+6.5) at CAROLINA: Calm down, Texans fans – it was freaking Kansas City. I’m sure England didn’t get all cocky when they waxed Argentina in the Falklands. Panthers 24, Texans 17.

San Francisco (+3) at ST LOUIS: Here’s a tip for the Rams’ secondary – you may want to occasionally cover the other team’s best receiver this week. 49ers 20, Rams 19.

Green Bay (PK) at N.Y.GIANTS: Due to Eli Manning’s shoulder issues, the Giants may be starting Jared Lorenzen at quarterback this week. When Lorenzen backs away from the center, do his pants beep? Packers 24, Giants 16.

Atlanta (+10) at JACKSONVILLE: The Hoser is expecting Joe Horn to pull out his cell phone again on the field sometime soon – but this time he’ll be firing his agent for advising him to sign with the Falcons. Jaguars 26, Falcons 13.

New Orleans (-3) at TAMPA BAY: The Bucs cut WR David Boston loose this week after a urine test came back positive following his being stopped for DUI. Boston had a good excuse, though – he said it was a contact high from Lindsay Lohan doing a press tour in Florida. Saints 26, Buccaneers 17.

Minnesota (+3.5) at DETROIT: The Hoser is glad for the fans of both of these teams, but the Lions winning means no more converting regular jokes into Matt Millen jokes. Go Minnesota! Lions 24, Vikings 20.

Dallas (-3.5) at MIAMI: Picking up on Wade Wilson’s medical defense of his use of HGH, former Cowboy Nate Newton is now saying the 213 pounds of marijuana he was caught with in 2001 was to help him with his flagging appetite. Cowboys 30, Dolphins 20.

Seattle (-3) at ARIZONA
: Yep, the arrival of Charlie Frye is just enough to give the Seahawks the edge here. Seahawks 23, Cardinals 21.

New York Jets (NL) at BALTIMORE: For the Jets – please see the Rams/49ers contest. Ravens 23, Jets 20.

Oakland (+9.5) at DENVER: No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders have finally agreed to a contract. The deal will give Russell $29M in guaranteed money, easily reachable escalators – and the right to tell girls he actually plays for the Patriots. Broncos 28, Raiders 20.

Kansas City (+12) at CHICAGO: Only a 12-point spread? Against K.C., the Bears will cover even if they score only 10. Bears 34, Chiefs 13.

San Diego (+4) at NEW ENGLAND: Because of CameraGate, the Patriots will suffer a few penalties. They’ll lose at least one top pick in next year’s draft, be fined a total of $750,000 – and have to dismiss Chuck Berry as Director of Bathroom Security. Patriots 24, Chargers 21.

Washington (+7) at PHILADELPHIA: The Eagles have expressed some concern about Washington’s ability to videotape illegally on the sidelines, especially given that Redskin owner Daniel Snyder could do it while hiding behind a football. Eagles 23, Redskins 17.

Lock of the Week: Washington

Trifecta: Washington, Indianapolis, Arizona

Lock of the Week: Pittsburgh

Trifecta: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Cincinnati

Week One results:

Straight Up: 10-6

Against The Spread: 6-9-1

Lock of the Week: 0-0-1

Trifecta: 0-1

Total for Season: -$460

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Welcome to Week One of the 2007 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we tap every available resource to bring you the best in handicapping – just not in the same way Senator Larry Craig might.

It’s been a busy offseason. Byron Leftwich is out in Jacksonville, Priest Holmes is still out in Kansas City, and apparently Michael Vick is going to be in for a while. At least Vick’s friends knew how to roll over.

It’s been hopping in The Hoser’s household, too. We’re expecting our second child, but my wife seems to be dead set against naming the new arrival Dobler Dierdorf Hoser. Oh well … maybe if it’s a boy I’ll have better luck.

The format will stay as it has been for the past two seasons – each game is $100 ATS, with a $100 Trifecta and a $100 Lock of the Week for an even $2K per week. When the bye weeks begin, we’ll jump the Lock to $500 to keep the number even. We’ll use Danny Sheridan’s line in the USA Today each week.

To recap last season, The Hoser was 129-123-6 ATS, 156-99 SU, 7-10 on the Lock and 2-15 for the Trifecta. We managed to lose nearly $3K during the season, but made a little back during the postseason.

Which leads us to this final sentence, a version of which you’ll see every week:

Remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as having Wade Wilson pick up your prescription.

New Orleans (+6) at INDIANAPOLIS: According to NFL insiders, neither the Saints or the Colts are particularly nervous about opening the season on national TV. Both teams are petrified, however, that special guest John Cougar Mellencamp might play “This Is Our Country” for the 8 billionth time. Saints 27, Colts 26.

Kansas City (+2.5) at HOUSTON: Masked gunmen broke into the home of Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson over the weekend. Police said the burglars were able to enter easily, as Robinson had hired Houston’s offensive line to guard the house. Texans 21, Chiefs 20.

Denver (-3) at BUFFALO: The Bills ranked a stellar 30th in total offense last season, and how did they react? They let disgruntled RB Willis McGahee walk in favor of rookie Marshawn Lynch and Bears castoff Anthony Thomas. The Hoser likens this to when ABC thought “Three’s Company” would be just fine with Cindy replacing Chrissy. Broncos 29, Bills 13.

Pittsburgh (-4.5) at CLEVELAND: Browns rookie quarterback Brady Quinn may not be the starter, but he’s still getting mobbed by girls – despite his uncanny new resemblance to Full Metal Jacket’s Private Pyle. Steelers 20, Browns 16.

Tennessee (+6.5) at JACKSONVILLE: The Hoser has read new starting Jags QB David Garrard will make everyone forget about Byron Leftwich. We looked at last year’s numbers – seven TDs, five picks and a 79.5 passer rating – and said, “Byron who?” Jaguars 30, Titans 20.

Carolina (PK) at ST. LOUIS: The Panther depth chart lists “M. Moore” as Carolina’s third-string QB. It’s Matt, not Michael, but given that Jake Delhomme and David Carr are ahead of him, we’d say that situation is pretty Sicko. Rams 24, Panthers 21.

Philadelphia (-3) at GREEN BAY: The Hoser doesn’t want to say Brett Favre is getting old … but he totally dug our Jenilee Harrison reference back there. Eagles 22, Packers 17.

Atlanta (+3) at MINNESOTA: The Hoser has said for the past two or three seasons the Falcons needed to replace Michael Vick with a real quarterback. Well, we’re still waiting. Falcons 19, Vikings 17.

Miami (+3) at WASHINGTON: Given the drafting of Lorenzo Booker and the emergence of unheralded RB Jesse Chatman, the Dolphins may be planning a musical revival this season – “The Extremely Sinkable Ronnie Brown”. Redskins 24, Dolphins 13.

New England (-6.5) at NEW YORK JETS: Boston Herald writer John Tomase broke the story this week that Pats’ DL Le Kevin Smith enjoys painting roses in his spare time. Smith is not the first NFL player to show an interest in flowers, as I believe several Vikings players had tulips on their members during a boat ride last season. Patriots 24, Jets 20.

Tampa Bay (+6) at SEATTLE: I was mystified to read this week the Buccaneers had decided to keep four QBs on their roster. I did the math several times, and then realized many people are still counting Chris Simms as a quarterback. Seahawks 23, Buccaneers 16.

Arizona (+3) at SAN FRANCISCO: The Hoser doesn’t expect this to be a very exciting game, but check out and listen to the “Wolfleyisms” – the odd phrasings of Cards’ color man Ron Wolfley. Our fave? “Mike Martz would challenge the First Amendment.” Cardinals 29, 49ers 21.

Chicago (+5.5) at SAN DIEGO: This line increases to two touchdowns if Lance Briggs drives Chicago’s team bus. Chargers 22, Bears 14.

Detroit (+1.5) at OAKLAND: The Raiders will start Josh McCown at quarterback in Week One after a ridiculous amount of secrecy from Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin. Man, if that doesn’t sound like a character from a John Hughes film. Lions 24, Raiders 13.

New York Giants (+5.5) at DALLAS: After Tiki Barber retired this offseason, most fans expected to see a big hole in the New York offense. Now, they also get to see one every time Tiki’s on camera. Cowboys 27, Giants 17.

Baltimore (+1.5) at CINCINNATI: The Bengals are reportedly looking at RB DeDe Dorsey, late of the Indianapolis Colts. Head coach Marvin Lewis, short on bodies in the backfield, is also interested in a.a. milne, B.B. King and CeCe Peniston. Bengals 26, Ravens 19.

Lock of the Week: Washington

Trifecta: Washington, Denver, Detroit

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Richard Jewell, the security guard wrongly accused in the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, died yesterday at 44.

Jewell had a lawsuit pending against the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for its reporting on the event, and the AJC just couldn't help but to try to make its case by shouting while standing on the dead man's grave:

After (Jewell) was cleared, Jewell sued the AJC and other media outlets for libel, arguing that their reports defamed him. Several news organizations settled, including NBC and CNN.

The Journal-Constitution did not settle. The newspaper has contended that at the time it published its reports Jewell was a suspect, so the articles were accurate. The newspaper also has asserted that it was not reckless or malicious in its reports regarding Jewell. Much of Jewell's case was dismissed last year. One claim, based on reports about a 911 call, is pending trial.

However, Jewell's death Wednesday "is not a day to consider lawsuits, rather a day to pay respect," said John Mellott, AJC publisher.

"Richard Jewell was a hero, as we all came to learn," Mellott said. "The story of how Mr. Jewell moved from a suspect in the Centennial Park bombing to recognition as a security guard who averted a greater tragedy is one The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported fully even as it defended itself in a libel suit brought by him.

So, it's not a day to consider lawsuits, John -- but it is a day to insert yourself unnecessarily into a story. Nice.

I also find it difficult to reporters Mike Morris and Jeffry Scott would have put this tripe in on their own. Did AJC management have that bit about not settling all cooked up and waiting for the day Jewell died, ready to be dropped in to the obit?


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Act I, Scene I

At RISE: A young man in a Mets uniform stands in front of a boardroom filled with milled-aged men and women in suits. He shifts from foot to foot nervously and holds something tightly in his right hand. A distinguished man at the head of the table clears his throat.

DISTINGUISHED MAN: So, you say you have a proposal for us?

MURPHY: I do. I'd like you to rent me and this baseball for one year.

(general murmurs and quiet laughs from around the room)

DM: Why would we do that, Mr. Murphy? We already pay a princely sum to have the naming rights to the stadium where Mr. Bonds hit No. 756. PacBell's name has been mentioned in the news in the last seven days more than Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton combined.

We've also discussed the possibility of buying the ball from you and displaying it in our corporate headquarters, but have rejected that notion. We feel our customers would view it as wasteful spending.

MURPHY: I'm sure that's true, sir, but hear me out. What I'm proposing is a goodwill tour for the ball and myself, one that would generate immeasurable publicity and goodwill for Pacific Bell at a limited cost -- a cost of $2M.

(Startled grunts from those assembled. Murphy holds up the ball and the room settles)

DM: Mr. Murphy, did you think we didn't research the value of the ball? Todd McFarlane's ridiculous $3M purchase of Mark McGwire's 70th is a thing of the past. We feel you'd be lucky to get $500,000 for that.

MURPHY: I think I'd get somewhere in that vicinity, sir, and if you accept my proposal, that's exactly what I'll get. But I'm not selling you the ball, as I said. I'm renting it -- and myself -- to you. For one year.

See, this whole idea of putting the ball up for auction makes me uncomfortable. I know it's the best way to get the most value for the ball -- but what happens to it then? I'm a fan of the game, not some huckster. I want people to be able to enjoy it in at least some small part the way I have for the past week.

That's why I came to you. For $2M you get the ball -- and me -- for one year. We tour the U.S., Japan, Sierra Leone, wherever your public relations staff says we should go. We make a roadshow of it -- let people see the ball, get close to the ball. Maybe the Hall of Fame would get involved, make a History of the Homer caravan. Ruth's bat, Baker's cleats, Reggie's wristbands. And on the side of the semi is "Proudly Presented by PacBell".

At the outset, every newspaper and network in the country, maybe the world, would run a story about how PacBell is taking the ball around the world. Then each city's papers and stations would cover the events. You'd get one full year's worth of great publicity.

DM: Intriguing. But you said you wouldn't be selling us the ball. So you'd keep it?

MURPHY: No sir. At the end of the tour, you'd have two choices -- donate the ball to the Hall of Fame, or present it to Bonds before the last home game of the 2008 season.

It's the whole reason I'm doing this. I'd like to get some financial security out of this -- I'd be foolish not to do so. But I can also help out baseball, get the ball in the hands of someone who will deserve it and share it, and possibly help you out in the deal. Where's the downside?

DM: Why $2M? I thought you said you'd receive around $500,000 if we agreed to your proposal?

MURPHY: I would. You would also sign two cheques before I start the tour -- one in the amount of $500,000 to the charity of Barry's choice, and the other for $1M to the Negro League Baseball Players Association.

I do have one other request, though.

DM: What is that?

MURPHY: I'd like a job in your marketing department.

DM: (shakes head)

Pretty slick.

(turns to rest of room)

What do you all think?

(heads nod throughout room)

Son, I think we have a deal.

(lights fade and curtain closes)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cam Cole of CanWest News Service has an interesting piece up this morning in the National Post about the struggles of the Canadian Open to land big-name talent.

Much of the article centres on the Royal Canadian Golf Association's chartering a jet to fly golfers home from the British Open and deposit them neatly in Toronto for this week's tourney. According to the Open's tournament director, Bill Paul, five players -- Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, Carl Petterson, Ryan Moore and Boo Weekley -- took the flight and then took off.

This sounds unsporting, but Paul charged each passenger $1,000 for the flight, and later he says the RCGA allowed the players on as a matter of goodwill, and ...

"You know what? There are players that have been good to us, and we let them on," Paul said. "Will it pay dividends? I don't know, but I think it's goodwill and it's positive. I won't lose any sleep over it ? but I will definitely remind them."

So why the complaining then? It's not as if they were freeloading -- those five seats being filled is $5,000 back into the RCGA's pockets, and could fund a nice day camp for local youth, I'd think. In addition, any goodwill gained is definitely going to be dampened once word gets back to these players Paul has dumped on them after the fact.

It's possible Cole may have found this out on his own and pressed Paul for an explanation, but perhaps Paul needs to have someone hold up one of those "QUIET" signs in instances such as this.

Cole also takes David Love III to task for not playing in the Open.

No use asking why Love took a quarter of a million United States dollars from Angus Glen to re-design the North course two years ago -- move some tee boxes and bunkers, grow in the rough here and there, toughen it up -- then didn't show up at the tournament where the quality of his work will be judged.

Well, Cam, I'm guessing he took the $250,000US to, I don't know ... redesign the course? I mean, is Love not supposed to be paid for his work? And unless the deal had an appearance contract attached to it, Angus Glen has probably gotten $250,000 worth of publicity from having a PGA Tour star pimp its course.

Want to attract more players? Start with a larger purse. Apparently $5M doesn't buy what it used to, because that's one of the smaller payouts on the Tour. It puts the Canadian Open behind such Tour classics as the PODS Championship, the Frys Electronics Open and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

It's a tough go with no major sponsor, but that falls on the shoulders on the Open to find someone with deep pockets (Mr. Balsillie to the first tee, please). A big sponsor and a big purse means more of the little goodies for players Cole mentions -- a Mercedes loaner and a bottle of Dom at the Wachovia vs. a BMW at the Canadian -- and that could translate to a deeper field.

By the way, the Wachovia Open's purse is $6.3M.

The other big factor is playing the week after the British Open. Players are tired, full of haggis and looking to take a week off and recharge for the PGA and the NASCARization of golf, the Fed Ex Cup, but the chance to take home a huge first-place cheque -- say, $1.5M instead of $810,000 -- might make a few fellows take notice.

There isn't much the Open can do to force a change in the schedule, so it's going to have to be money and perks. Too bad a two-four of Moosehead and some autographed copies of "Strange Brew" won't cut it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In case you missed it, Lindsay Lohan has been arrested for the umpteenth time. Not surprisingly, the incident involves drugs and alcohol.

Here's a photo of Lohan from the arrest:

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Looks quite a bit like Farrah Fawcett from The Burning Bed, doesn't she?

Anyhow, my favourite quote in this story comes from Lohan attorney Blair Berk.

"Addiction is a terrible and vicious disease," Berk said in a statement Tuesday.

Now who does that sound like? Oh yeah, I remember ...

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I'm hoping Lohan's penalty this time will include her being stripped naked and being beaten savagely with a sack of Valencia oranges. They apparently don't leave marks, and the whole thing could be put on PPV to raise some money for victims of drunk driving. I know I'd pay $29.99 for that.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I'm really puzzled by the lack of a secondary move by Toronto general manager John Ferguson Jr. Here's how I figured on things playing out right before the trade:

1) Leafs bring in Curtis Joseph for not much money on a one-year deal. Since the Leafs aren't going to win a Cup this year anyway, he mentors both Raycroft and Pogge while playing 20-25 games and taking some of the pressure off of Razor.
2a) Raycroft matures and shows marked improvement, solidifying his place as the No. 1 and giving Pogge time to develop slowly. The Leafs spend their draft picks and cap dollars on big wingers, and Curtis rides off into the sunset an even bigger hero in the GTA tham he already is.


2B) Raycroft fails to develop, and the Leafs hit the free agent market to pick up a goalie, or decide to move up Pogge and possibly resign Joseph for one more year as the back-up.

Picking up Toskala isn't a bad move -- it just underscores the lack of direction in the Toronto front office. I can only guess Ferguson figures he can play them as a platoon for the season, allowing Maurice to ride the hot hand, then deal one or the other next season.

That's not a terrible plan, but I can't imagine it's going to make either one of the Leaf netminders very happy -- and it's not going to thrill fans, either.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Leafs have just made their first deal of the draft weekend, acquiring Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell from San Jose for (maybe)their first-round pick at No. 13 this season, a second rounder and a fourth-round pick in 2009.

I'm not thrilled about the loss of the first-round pick, but Toskala is the real deal. He was 26-10-1 with a 2.35 GAA and a .908 save percentage last year, and he'll only be better if he's the main man. The pick also can switch to the 2008 draft if the Sharks don't like who is available this year, but Toronto has Top 10 protection in that case.

Where this leaves Andrew Raycroft is up for debate. Raycroft wasn't the problem last season (hello, Kubina and McCabe!), but he wasn't the solution either. Dealing him or relegating him to the back-up spot would be an admission of defeat for Toronto GM John Ferguson, Jr., in the trade that sent Tuukka Rask to Boston last year. I have to think (and hope and pray) JFJ has a deal in place to move Razor and a defenseman.

It also makes you wonder whether the Leafs have already soured on Justin Pogge. I didn't hear anyone come away from last year's Marlies games saying they were overly impressed with Pogge, and the organization has been pretty mum. Pogge's way too young to write off, but if the right package came down the pike to move him and acquire either a high pick or a solid scorer, I think the Leafs would jump.

As for Mark Bell, he can't possibly play down to the lousy level of last year again, can he? Bell's 6-4, 205, so he's got the size Toronto needs in the corners and to free up Mats Sundin (hint hint), and he's only $2M a year. Wjat's the harm?

This is definitely a nice move by Ferguson, but keep your fingers crossed that another deal's coming.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Just a quickie -- if you haven't seen previews of the upcoming Family Guy season premiere, they're fantastic! The FG gang has remade Star Wars, and although the YouTube clip of the showing at a Star Wars celebration has been yanked (thanks to the legal idiots at 20th Century Fox), you can still find it at Devil Ducky.

It's worth the click, trust me!

Friday, June 01, 2007

I was just checking out my MySpace page (Yes, I have one. No, I'm not 15. Yes, I'd be glad to send $5,000 to Nigeria or view your web cam for $1.99 per minute) and near the bottom of the front page, there's a spot for some hot musical artist.

Today's choice is Ben Kweller, who is a part of the joint SPIN/MySpace Smashing Pumpkins tribute CD. I happen to love tribute albums (especially versions of rock tunes that switch genres -- see also Breathe, a collection of Dave Matthews songs as bluegrass), so I hopefully listened to Kweller's version of "Today", which is on his page.

Awful. Gigantically, spectacularly awful. Kweller takes a powerful, angry anthem and reduces it to a wimpy, washed-out whine. It's like remaking "Pulp Fiction" with Nathan Lane and Bob Ross.

Go listen for yourself and explain to me how this guy -- who sings like Fran Drescher acts -- got a record deal on the first place.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

In the aftermath of last night's drive-by shouting by New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, opinions seem to be wildly mixed on the legality and morality of the play.

In case you missed it, the Yankees led the Blue Jays 7-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. With runners at first and second, Jorge Posada skied one to the right of third base. Howie Clark, appearing in his first major-league game of the season, camped under it, and then quickly ducked away as Rodriguez passed behind him.

An absolutely livid John McDonald, the Blue Jays shortstop, immediately began yelling at Rodriguez -- who stood at third smirking and, according to at least one report, pushed away third-base umpire Chad Fairchild when he appeared to disagree with the play -- and most of the Toronto bench came onto the top steps of the dugout or the field. Manager John Gibbons came out to ask for a ruling and argue with the crew chief but got nowhere.

But why didn't he? Rule 7.08 from the Official Rules of Major League Baseball states:

Any runner is out when --
(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball

That's not particularly ambiguous to me. ARod is running from second to third and yells something at Clark as he passes behind him. After viewing the play repeatedly, I'm almost certain it was "Mine!", but that's not material here. Rodriguez attempted to hinder the fielder, he succeeded and he should have been called out.

There's no question as to the sportsmanship of the play. As a former high school player and coach, I know most leagues up through American League have rules forbidding yelling or clapping on the basepaths. Young players are quickly discouraged from attempting to distract the fielder, as it's a good way for the fielder to end up getting beaned with the ball.

How often does it happen in pro ball? Well, you could ask Clark:

"I was expecting McDonald to make the catch," the third baseman said. "I have been playing professional baseball for 16 years and never saw that."

Or you could ask consummate professional Matt Stairs. The journeyman was a bit less tactful, calling it "a horseshit play" and saying if Rodriguez's teammates gave no comment, that was their way of saying they didn't appreciate it either.

Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, incidentally, didn't want to comment.

Some of the fault lies with McDonald, who as the shortstop should have called immediately for the ball. But there has also been blame assign to Clark for not sticking with the pop-up, and that's way off base.

Assume, as Clark did, that the person loudly yelling "Mine!" in your ear is McDonald. If you don't clear the way and you collide with McDonald, it's your fault for not yielding to the shortstop on a ball that could easily have been his.

Finally, Rodriguez said similar things happened to him "three or four times a week." That would seem unlikely. As Clark said, it's not something he'd ever experienced. Blue Jays slugger Troy Glaus said it had never happened to him in 30 years of baseball.

It's more likely Rodriguez either was read the riot act or given the cold shoulder in the Yankee locker room after the game -- not that he isn't use to that -- and felt compelled to concoct something to make himself look better.

The most unfortunate victim of the whole situation was pitcher Brian Wolfe. Making his major-league debut, he ended up being charged with two hits and a run when he induced a pop-up from Posada that should have ended the threat.

It was also unfortunate for Gibbons, who may have told a more experienced pitcher to buzz the tower of the next hitter as a way of expressing the displeasure of the Jays. But then, it's tough to justify beaning Giambi in retaliation when ARod's teammates seem to dislike him as much as the Jays do right now.

No, Toronto will have to wait to extract its measure of revenge until the next meeting between the two teams on July 16.

Well, that or just hang out outside strip clubs and watch for Rodriguez leaving with women other than his wife.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A few thoughts from around the world of sports today:

* Kobe Bryant is apparently demanding a trade out of Los Angeles. Most of the discussion is centering on how the Lakers could possibly get fair value for Bryant. I suspect they'll move Kobe for a lesser player and a pick, but there's good news -- at least this time he let the other party involved know before he stuck it up their ass.

* Mike Milbury has stepped down as general manager of the New York Islanders, which has shocked many hockey insiders who had no idea Milbury still had a job.

* The New York Post published photos Wednesday of Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez in the company of a blonde woman who was not his wife in downtown Toronto on Sunday evening. Surprisingly, however, Belinda Stronach has an alibi.

* Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is considering forming a professional football league in partnership with one of search engine Google's top executives. Before he gets too involved, Cuban may want to visit Google and type in "USFL".

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I just finished watching "Leela's Homeworld", an episode of from season four of Futurama. Does anyone else cry every time they see this one?

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It's not the funniest episode of the show, but damn it ... every time! There's an episode of Family Guy that does the same thing to me, the one where Brian ends up spending time with Pearl, and then holding her hand when she dies.

Anyone else? And stop laughing!

I don't want to turn this into YouTube central, but this video of Martin Leung -- "The Video Game Pianist" -- is definitely worth a look, whether you like tremendous musicianship or you just love the old video game classics. It brings a tear to the eye of this old man to hear the "Super Mario Brothers" theme treated so lovingly, and Leung so obviously enjoys himself (even playing with a blindfold at one point), how can I not also enjoy it?

Martin Leung - Super Mario Piano Medley

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Leung has toured all over the world playing not only as VGP, but also simply as one of the world's best young pianists. You can find out more about him at

Friday, May 25, 2007

I feel for the family of Josh Hancock, I really do. The former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher died after slamming into the back of a parked towed truck at 1 a.m. last month on Interstate 40.

Rumours were rampant about Hancock being drunk at the time of the accident, and the subsequent toxicology reports showed him with a blood alcohol level of 0.157 -- nearly double the legal limit in Missouri.

But now Hancock's father has filed a wrongful-death suit. In it, he names Shannon's, a popular hangout near Busch Stadium, as a defendant, and adds:

* Patricia Shannon Van Matre, daughter of the former Cardinal player and current broadcaster, and manager of his bar/restaurant;
* Justin Tolar, the driver of the car which struck a median wall and was stranded in the left lane of the highway;
* Jacob E. Hargrove, the tow truck driver who stopped to help Tolar; and
* Eddie's Towing, owner of the tow truck.

You can read the particulars of the suit in the linked story, but there's one extremely sentence -- "The intoxication of Joshua Morgan Hancock on said occasion was involuntary."

Involuntary? Did the staff at Shannon's hold Hancock down and force the alcohol down his throat? Did they surreptitiously inject it into him while he was looking the other way?

Hancock was a grown man. He headed for Shannon's of his own free will, and I'm guessing he didn't go there for the curly fries. He got drunk, then chose to put himself behind the wheel of his vehicle and endanger himself and anyone else on the road. If Shannon's overserved him, they may be held partially liable.

But to target the driver of the stopped vehicle, the tow truck driver and the tow company is misguided and mean-spirited. The only possible gain from this is financial, and to try and pull money from those incidentally involved is nothing short of a macabre cash grab.

If the Hancocks were upset about the speculation over their son's condition at the time of his death, they're going to be shattered by the well-deserved villification they'll now receive. I hope Tolar and Hargrove file a countersuit against the Hancocks for mental anguish caused by having to be a party in their drunk son's death.

You know, Americans have a lot to thank Canadians for -- softwood lumber, beer that doesn't totally suck, Rush, most of the people Americans think are funny and think are actually American.

But my God, I am soooo sorry for this.

I expect the bombing to start at any moment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Man, I love someone who really believes what he's saying.

Reverend X The Cursing Preacher

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Take a second and hop over to, where you can find out about getting Toronto's mustachioed wonder into this season's All-Star game!

You don't think a career .219 hitter deserves a trip to San Francisco?'s Jeff Pearlman would disagree with you, and I'd wholeheartedly concur, especially as Sal's from Chicago and played at the University of Evansville.

Go, Sal, Go!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm calling it here first -- I think we just witnessed the end of American Idol.

Just after he finished receiving his reaming from Simon Cowell on Tuesday night's show, Chris Richardson sent his thoughts out to those affected by the Virginia Tech massacre. He seemed genuinely upset, saying he had many friends in that area.

The cameras cut back briefly to Simon and Paula, and Simon clearly rolled his eyes at Richardson's statement.

Now, I'm not saying Richardson's words couldn't be seen as a bid for sympathy by someone who had just given a particularly lousy performance, but how terrible does it look for Cowell to apparently be shrugging off someone's reaction to the tragedy? Whatever his intentions, Cowell has just opened himself up for a world of criticism.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'll post a little bit more about the media coverage of the attack at Virginia Tech, but after watching the press conference just a few minutes ago on CNN, there's at least one jackass who deserves a beating right now.

Some asshole actually asked VT's president how the shootings might affect recruiting and registration of new students. This is eight hours after 33 people have been killed.

Here's how Dr. Charles W. Steger should have responded:

"You ridiculous, insensitive fuck. We have more than 30 people dead on our campus, and you think I'm wondering about whether we'll have a problem filling our seats next term? Get out of this press conference before I come down there and snap your neck, you prick."

Of course, there shouldn't be any press conferences at this point. The media (and I used to be one of them) should all have to work from the same release sheets and the same canned quotes. Our right to know is not nearly as important as the necessity for people such as Dr. Steger and the police to do their jobs.

Our hearts are with you, Hokies.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A couple of literary notes:

* So long to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I have nothing to say that hasn't been said more elequently already by someone else closer to him, but Slaughterhouse 5 is one of my favourite books and one of the few I've sought out on audio because I thought it would play by ear even better.

If you haven't heard Ethan Hawke read it, go buy it. There's also a nice interview with Vonnegut at the end.

* The recent news that David Sedaris fudges his facts and characters isn't really news, is it?

As a former newspaperman responsible for writing our paper's columns, I never intentionally fudged the characters or facts of my pieces. I would have felt I was taking liberties that wouldn't have been appreciated by my readers.

However, having read Sedaris, I never remotely considered that every bit of his work might be factual. It simply would have been too convenient and too miraculous.

Do I feel cheated now to know this to be the case? Oddly enough, I do -- and I think it's because Sedaris chooses to work in "nonfiction" when he's clearly not. I'd also believe those writing him cheques would take kindly to a head's up on stretching the truth, but then, maybe Davis thought they were all in on the joke already?

Change your labels, David, and you lose your problems.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This was our first trip the Aji Sai on Bayview, although we have eaten at the same restaurant's Barrie location. As was true farther north, we were not disappointed!

We ordered the dinner menu and enjoyed the rolls and sushi, including our favourites, the spider roll, crazy love roll and aji sai roll. The butter fish and salmon sushimi was fresh and cut in nice pieces, and my two hand rolls featured perfectly sticky rice.

What sets Aji Sai apart is the wider selection of dishes. They make a terrific sesame chicken, fantastic crab cakes and wonderful cheese wontons -- things you might not be able to get from other AYCE sushi restaurants. There are also more than 30 rolls, so try a bunch of different stuff.

We were served incredibly fast for our first order, but the second took quite a long time. I think, however, that it was done, and they just missed bringing it out to us.

Staff was extremely courteous (and interested in how they stacked up against the Barrie restaurant!) and helpful, and they even left me a pitcher of ice water on the table! Take note, other restaurants!

Highly recommended and we'll definitely be back -- our five-year-old commands it!

Visit them at!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Also, here's a new photo of my daughter enjoying a couple of her first birthday presents.

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Mac loves the baby grand piano John and Jenny bought her, but that Elmo chair appears about to swallow her.

Here's a fun little quiz (courtesy of Ordinary Girl) which proves I can handle most questions grammatical, but I still need my dictionary on my desk:

Your English Skills:

Punctuation: 100%
Grammar: 80%
Vocabulary: 80%
Spelling: 60%

It didn't give me my results, but a couple of the word definitions are iffy, especially if it counted me wrong on "ponderous."

How will you do?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I enjoy the occasional round of golf, which is to say I get my money's worth by running up a combination of 110-120 swings, chips, putts, hand wedges and furtive kicks.

So I'm delighted by the positively balmy weather we've recently experienced. It means soon I'll be out on the course, cursing and making excuses while wondering which hole hides the next snack shack. It also got me thinking about my current equipment, traded for at a local pawn shop and certainly adequate for my low-level skills. Still, it's the duffer who thinks that new $400 driver will turn him from Al Czervik to Jesper Parnevik.

I hit a few of the web sites looking for the newest gadget, but my favourite was revealed on me in a link dump on SportsFilter, and you have to see it to believe it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the amazing Golf Ball Launcher!

I'm not sure what's funnier about this -- the idea that these guys are seriously marketing this as an alternative to carrying around a bag of clubs, or the fact they couldn't have picked a bigger redneck for the guy in the first picture. Nothing says golf more than jeans and tennis shoes.

There are some neat features to this gizmo. You can adjust the power to fire a ball from 25 to 300 yards, so it's good anywhere on the course (well, maybe not in the clubhouse, although I bet you'd get the bartender's attention pretty quickly). The inventors also make sure you know it can be fired right from the cart, which takes all the pesky standing up and sitting down out of your round.

Still, if these are made legal, someone in Georgia is going to shoot his buddy for sneezing during his aim. For that reason, I can't recommend the Golf Ball Launcher -- or the haircut that guy in the picture has.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Addendum: I spoke with a couple of tellers this morning who thought my idea was a good one. However, they said those people coming in and having them pay bills are not the most annoying customers.

No, they voted for patrons who come into the bank to get $20 in cash when there are four ATMs outside. I don't think there's much yuo can do about those folks, except maybe just punch them out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I have a great way to make banking in Canada more efficient and fair -- make it work exactly like Fido's new cellular phone billing.

You may have seen the new Fido ad, where a man and his frighteningly similar dog make a three-second phone call. It's apparently to order a mob hit, but that's beside the point, which is that Vito only got billed for the time he was on the phone.

I'd like to see this system applied to in-branch banking. I happen to be a former resident of the United States, where a bank transaction involving a deposit generally goes like this:

"Hi, I'd like to deposit this cash and a check."
"Great! Here's your receipt. Bye!"

Conversely, a bank transaction involving a withdrawal sounds like this:

"Hi, I'd like to withdraw $500 cash from my checking account."
(Teller reaches into conveniently placed drawer)
"Here you are! Is there anything else today?
"Can I have a sucker?"
"Sure! Have a great day!"

Nice and easy, right? Unfortunately, Canadian banking doesn't work in the same way. My deposits go very smoothly, and the withdrawals a bit longer, as the teller has to go back to the big boss and ask her for my money. Not that big a deal.

The problem comes when Johnny Luddite comes in with his four credit card bills, his car payment, truck payment, house payment, hottub payment, boat payment, Hydro bill, gas card bill and several other rumpled pieces of paper. Johnny lays this on the counter in front of the teller and says, "I'd like to take care of these."

As an American, when I first witnessed this, I expected gales of laughter from the teller, followed by pointing and sniggering from the other bank patrons. I mean, c'mon -- who doesn't pay their bills through the mail by a cheque, over the phone or in person at the utility office.

Canadians, that's who.

The teller calmly gathered the heap of financials and in 10 short minutes was able to put Johnny's financial house back in order. This is quite the feat the first time or two you see it, I must admit.

However, the 50th or 60th time someone dumps a laundry bag full of bills on the counter when you need to get on your way, it can be irritating. Therefore, I propose this new two-pronged system in an effort to speed up bank lines, make tellers lives easier and, more importantly, lower my ridiculously high banking costs.

First -- employ the Fido method. Each patron should be charged for the amount of the teller's time taken up. In my case, the average transaction takes less than a minute -- I never ask for a receipt (it's available online) and I count my money before I hand it over.

I think $.25 a minute is a reasonable charge. That works out to $15 per hour, assuming the teller doesn't dawdle much between customers, and it also means anyone coming into the bank with their entire fiscal history expecting the teller to handle it is going to bear the burden of taking up more time than I do.

Second -- a fee for paying bills. If the bank is willing to take care of this for patrons, then patrons should be willing to give a little something back. Perhaps $.50 per bill paid? I'm guessing there would be a sudden stampede of people asking about paying by phone or signing up for online banking.

This could also be a boon for the bank managers, as the system could provide them with an extra tool for tracking teller performance. Of course, all I really care about is getting in and out of the bank a little more quickly and perhaps with a little more dough still in my pocket.

So let me know what you think, TD Canada Trust, BMO and Scotia. Oh, and if you decide to employ this -- I'd expect more than a sucker.