BLATCHFORD’S LAYTON COLUMN: TIMING IS EVERYTHING

The tone is insensitive, but there’s some gleanable insight, too.

Saw, earlier today, that National Post columnist Christie Blatchford was trending big time on the Twitter machine, so I decided to, after reading some of the vitriol that was being hurled her way, see what all the fuss was about.

If you haven’t read her quick-to-become infamous column reflecting on the death of Jack Layton, and the media coverage of it, please have a look and then come back for my views on it.

In a general sense, my overall feeling after reading the column (several times) was one of unease, due to its insensitive nature and timing. However, in a more detailed sense, I find myself carrying a number of view points, not the least of which is that the column has its flaws, certainly, but also some thoughtful insight. I do believe that some have misinterpreted the column as an all-out attack on the memory of the man when, really, it appears to me to be, primarily, a damning of the media coverage of Layton’s passing.

Exclusive to that, I’m again dumbfounded by the electronic “stoning” that goes on with the age of instant messaging. Blatchford is certainly a target of that right now — check the Twitter postings or comments under her column in The Post. I won’t cover that ground again here, but suggest my column on the case of hockey agent Todd Reynolds may be an appropriate companion.

There is plenty of insensitivity to go around in her piece — good lord, does one really have to refer to Layton in his last public appearance as appearing “cadaverous” on the very day he died? Does one really need to refer to the recently deceased’s last public note as “vainglorious” even as those who feel his loss most are only beginning to mourn? I’d suggest you might wait a day or two on that one.

To say that there’s nothing unusual about the outpouring of public grief over his loss is a bit laughable. It is, of course, not usual at all for this kind of thing to happen. Many, many people die every day and it doesn’t spark public gatherings of a national sort. It is an indicator of how strongly some people feel about Layton. Blatchford’s insistence that the age of Facebook and Twitter and instant messaging somehow diminishes the spontaneity and number of people who gathered to honour Layton rings hollow. You can message me a thousand times about something, but if I don’t frankly give a damn about you or your cause, I’m not showing up.

Still, I believe Blatchford is not entirely off in her assessment of the story. Perhaps just the characterization of it. Her damning of the media coverage is also not entirely off the mark, although there, too, she occasionally shows a misunderstanding of the job and demands of a live anchor. She particularly gives a rough ride to CBC’s Evan Solomon.  She’s correct in her assertion that Prime Minister Harper’s remarks of the day needn’t have been solely focussed on Mr. Layton.

As well, I think Blatchford has struck an incisive note when she muses on the attachment people in the modern age have for someone they don’t know personally. That is either testament to the power of modern media (nice call, Marshall McLuhan) or to something else. Perhaps a longing by people to attach to someone who they believe exhibits a trait or traits to which they can easily relate or praise.

Her noting of a certain inauthenticity when it comes to media people waxing on about a person they may have only met briefly or interviewed once is bang on. Happens all the time. Regrettably, I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it too.

However, when she criticizes Solomon for his repeated use of the word “extraordinary” in reference to Layton’s final letter (a term that she agreed was actually appropriate) or his “repeatedly” speaking of the difficulty as “we all try to cope” with the news of Layton’s passing, Blatchford illustrates either a disregard for or, as I say, ignorance of the job of a live broadcaster during an unfolding story of great drama. When you’re live, and anchoring ongoing coverage, you’ve a duty to an audience that is changing. Tuning in, tuning out. In service of that, it’s quite necessary to be a trifle repetitive to the ears of those who don’t stray. It’s a little different from print where you write it once, edit it a time or two and then send it out to the world in its static form. There’s no delete button on a live broadcast. The story doesn’t end when you type the last period and hit “send.”

Blatchford asks a question that I think is an easy one to answer. She wrote:

Who thinks to leave a 1,000-word missive meant for public consumption and released by his family and the party mid-day, happily just as Mr. Solomon and his fellows were in danger of running out of pap? Who seriously writes of himself, “All my life I have worked to make things better”?

I believe many, many people leave final messages. They do it for family, friends and colleagues. That message comes in different forms. A hug, a kiss, a word of wisdom, a video or a written message. Not very many do it for the public at large. Except public figures. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jack Layton felt obligated to record some kind of sentiment; philosophical, political or otherwise, being that he was very much a public figure. As for the last line, I’m going to give Mr. Layton the benefit of the doubt and figure he meant that all his life he’s tried to make things, in his opinion, better. I don’t think he meant that he’s definitively made things better. So, the use of the word “vainglorious” to describe the missive is bit misdirected, in my opinion.

Blatchford is right about Layton’s message being political. So it can be embraced or attacked on its merit in those passages. Nothing wrong with her taking umbrage with his line about Canada restoring “our good name in the world.” Not everyone would agree we’ve lost that good name. As well, he takes a clear political shot at the Conservatives. So, his final words include, as you’d expect, some politics. You can call that vain or cynical, or you can call it being a leader to the end. Whether she intended to or not, Blatchford’s characterization is that Layton was being a leader to the end. Sounds right to me.

While the Twitterverse has been quick to jump all over Blatchford for desecrating the memory of the man, it’s probably fair to point out that there are passages in her column that show admiration for Layton in some sense. For example:

His greatest moments — the bravest and most admirable — came during his fight with prostate cancer, the subsequent hip surgery and his most recent battle with the cancer, whose nature he never disclosed except to say it was new, which killed him.

He must have been in pain; he may have been afraid. Yet again and again, waving the cane that became in his clever hands an asset, he campaigned tirelessly.

Those are complimentary words and worthy of note.

In the immediate aftermath of the death of a beloved public figure, Christie Blatchford’s column is ill-timed. While there’s plenty to quarrel with in it, there’s also some insight that, when you peel away the veneer of insensitivity, just may ring true. Will the column look differently in 2 months?

[box border=”full”]To read SUN TV INTERVIEW ISN’T WORTH COMPLAINING ABOUT, click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”] To read THE MAMMOLITI GAMBIT: COUNCILLOR STRANGELOVE, click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read WHERE IS MARSHALL MCLUHAN’S COUCH, click here. [/box]

 

THE NUTSHELL: The NHL’s Trapezoids, McCallion’s Big Fish And Deep-Fried Everything At The Ex

A weekly feature, with a collection of random thoughts on random things.

Note: After this week, The Nutshell will revert to its older, historical name: The Royal Canadian Nutshell.

 SPORTS

Mr. Bettman, tear down this line.

The NHL is trying out a few new wrinkles at its research and development camp, in Toronto. (Ain’t modern hockey grand? In the old days, if you uttered the words “research and development camp” to Eddie Shore he’d have “researched” your noggin by “developing” a right cross to your chin.) One of the possible changes they’re trying out is removing those ridiculous trapezoids in the corners, where no goalie is allowed to handle the puck. Goalies have been treated like wayward dogs who left the yard. Might as well have fitted them with those “invisible fence” collars to make sure they didn’t go get the puck in the corner. It was a silly rule when it was brought in, it’s a silly rule now. I’ve always thought punishing goalies who had good puck handling skills and took the time to hone them was a trifle idiotic. It’s like prohibiting good defensive pitchers from fielding the ball outside of the mound, or forbidding running backs from ever throwing a pass on an option. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, I say. Fun to watch a master at work, such as Martin Brodeur. Come to think of it, it’s just as much fun to watch the butchers try and do something with the disc, out in no-man’s land.

POP CULTURE

Ernie (Left) and Bert. If they were gay they would have left Sesame Street to live in Mr. Dress Up's Tickle Trunk.

I’ve been enjoying seeing Donald Trump hawking his mattresses on commercials for The Brick. The Trump home mattress collection is available. Was wondering: Are the mattresses stuffed with Donald’s hair? If so, that’s what I call luxury. Love for him to do a Willy Wonka kind of promotion, where he’d actually stuff one out of every 10,000 mattresses with cash. Or a golden ticket that earns the winner a visit to Gary Busey’s place for a day. It occurs to me that I may be mistaken about these commercials. They may actually be for “Donald Trump’s Matted Tresses.”

The good people at the Children’s Television Workshop found it necessary to step forward in the face of a social media onslaught (okay, Facebook page) that suggested Bert and Ernie come right out of the closet and get hitched. Love that they felt it necessary to reiterate that Bert and Ernie are, in fact, not actually living beings. This episode has been brought to you by the letters D, U and H.

Anybody else out there feeling they’re being strung along by George Stroumboulopoulos? He starts every show by saying “I’m your boyfriend….” That’s enough, Strombo. I mean, what are we? Commit to us, already. If you’re not ready to be our husband by now then I just don’t know what we’re doing here.

The Canadian National Exhibition opens up, today. Among the features they’re trumpeting this year — cholesterol. Plenty of it. You can get deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried cola, deep-fried Nanaimo bars and, of course, deep-fried butter. My guess is that they’ve stopped trying to thrill you with attractions and rides. It’s just easier to raise your heart rate with a hamburger that features a bun made of Krispy Kreme donuts, instead. What kind of person would indulge in such gastrointestinal masochism? The kind who likes passing out while eating, I guess. A lot of people have bypassed the Ex in recent years. Seems the Ex is bent on forcing a lot of people to have bypasses instead.

POLITICS

Mayors Rob Ford and Hazel McCallion: If I were them I'd get that thing deep-fried, whole, at the CNE.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion gave Toronto Mayor Rob Ford a big, big fish. An 18 pound salmon that the 90 year old reportedly reeled in during a fishing derby on Lake Ontario. Well, that’s the story. Personally, I doubt she caught it with a pole. More like she stripped down to her skivvies, dove head first into the water, swam after the sucker, grabbed it with her bare hands and then proceeded to swing it over her head like an Olympic hammer thrower, and tossed it on to the deck. That’s more like Hazel. Not only did she catch it, she apparently packed it in ice and drove it to Toronto to personally present to Ford. It’s head will, undoubtedly, make its way onto the desk of the next councillor to question a policy decision.

Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann wished Elvis Presley a happy birthday, this week. Problem was, she was a day early with the wishes. No, wait. Problem was, it was the anniversary of Elvis’ death (August 16th, 1977). Elvis was born January 8th, 1935. I’ll cut her some slack. She’s probably exhausted from a long summer revival tour with Fred Turner. Gosh, I still love “Takin’ Care Of Business.”

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak admitted to smoking marijuana while he was in university. Does this bother me? No. Do I wish he and every other politician would smoke pot now? A resounding yes. Maybe some of those hyper-partisan walls would fall and they could all actually chum together to do what’s best for the rest of us. In fact, let’s go a step or two further and pipe in smoke from a giant bong when the legislature is in session. Bet you Dalton McGuinty would be the first to wear his tie around his head like a bandana. Hudak could replace the Tories’ policy manual, “Changebook,” with “Highspace.”

 FINAL THOUGHT

Qantas Airlines is experiencing some turbulence over one of the in-flight movies they’ve been showing. It’s called “The Female Orgasm Explained.” I say what better place to learn about that than while travelling on an airline that’s served Down Under so well for so long.

[box border=”full”]To read a previous THE NUTSHELL, click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To hear this week’s podcast, THE GIST OF IT, click here.[/box]

The Gist Of It – August 17, 2011

Play

This week on “The Gist Of It,” Bill and Don wonder if Blue Jays’ rookie phenom Brett Lawrie will be able to continue to live up to the hype. As well, they discuss baseball veteran Jim Thome’s no-brainer inclusion at Cooperstown. Can you stomach the CNE? The boys talk over some of the gastronomic… um… delights available at this year’s Ex. They also explore the synergy that a possible provincial Conservative government could create with the Feds and debate the name changes coming for Canada’s military branches. What about the kid who won $50k in a hockey game intermission contest? Should he be penalized just because it wasn’t actually he who took the shot, but rather, his twin brother?

THE NUTSHELL: The Mammoliti Gambit (Or: Councillor Strangelove)

Usually, the Nutshell is dedicated to random thoughts about many things. In this week’s special edition, I focus on what may one day be referred to as the rise and fall of Giorgio Mammoliti’s Facebook page.

Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has certainly been spicing up the current events reports this week. His unveiling of a Facebook page “Save the City…Support the Ford Administration” was merely the beginning of a week of provocative hilarity. Mammoliti’s basically been a one-man comedy quote machine, with no end in sight. With his insistence that he knows “how communists smell” leading off the week with a double to the gap, the onslaught of political satire was on. By the way, if Mammoliti knows how communists smell, he’d sure have come in handy for Senator Joe McCarthy. Think of it. Instead of labourious, time-consuming hearings, socialist sympathizers could have just been brought to Giorgio’s office, where he could nuzzle up to them and swiftly decree “Commie” or “Non-Commie.”

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti: That better not be a Cuban cigar, sir.

Mammoliti went on to declare the definition of a communist: “Anyone who is able to work, doesn’t want to work and wants everything for free.”  A trifle simplistic, but maybe he has a point. By his definition, I don’t know a single 8 year old that’s not a communist. Round ’em up. Oh, and I guess anyone who buys a lottery ticket might also be an enemy of the Mammoliti state. That makes me guilty. I’d better double-dose the Hai Karate from now on.

Fast forward a few days and we have the Ford Motor Company asking Mammoliti to remove their logo and the phrase “Built Ford Tough” from the Facebook page as they own it and they’d prefer he not use it, thanks. Did you pay to use it, Giorgio, or did you just decide to procure it, for the good of the group. If so, that sounds a little like communism. You may not pass your own smell test. At the very least, you ought to fire back at the Ford Motor Company with some kind of accusation that they’re stripping down old Ladas for parts for their F-150’s.

According to the Globe and Mail, Mr. Mammoliti has “abandoned” the Facebook site now and has left it to “the jokers” to continue running it. However, he continues to sound the air raid sirens on the underground communist plot to take over the city. Mammoliti has declared that a half dozen or so city councillors are bent on installing “a system of government where government takes over all private property and controls the thoughts and views of people.”

“I know some of my views are outside the box,” says Mammoliti. No, Giorgio, they’re not. They’re very much IN the box. A very tiny, oxygen-free box. Constructed in the mid to late 1950’s.

But what if he’s right? Maybe there is an underground movement designed to reshape Toronto in the image of an Iron Curtain, Cold War burg, where men were men and so were half the women. At least it appeared that way during the Olympics.

I suggest we immediately take the following precautions:

Raccoon: Where's your fur hat, comrade?

  1. Reclaim the HMCS Haida from Hamilton and deploy it, along with the City of Toronto ferry armada, in a blockade of Centre Island. We can’t afford the possible installation of Chinese missiles there.
  2. Cease and desist all manner of operations that allow for the fluoridation of Toronto’s water. That’s just everyday, common, anti-commie good sense.
  3. A full-on cull of raccoons. They don’t work. They eat OUR garbage. Garbage that we worked hard to produce. They sleep all day and stay up all hours of the night, scheming and executing Lord-knows-what under cover of darkness. Wake up. They are obviously a covert army of the underground communist agenda. Either that, or slacker teens.
  4. Hire a team of undercover, anti-commie restaurant inspectors whose responsibility it would be to report on patrons who share trays of nachos. As well, they would have the power to close down restaurants whose sous chefs distribute the salsa, cheese and ground beef too evenly.
  5. Construct a wall the length of University Avenue. This could be done cheaply, as we really only need a barrier a few feet high, denying the communists of The United Socialist Republic Of Queen West the ability to cycle in.

Mr. Mammoliti, thank you for your public service. Your efforts to unite Torontonians through the use of social media have added to your collective good works. I implore you, sir. Don’t abandon your facebook page. Do not “tear down this wall posting.”

 [box border=”full”]To read “Where Is Marshall McLuhan’s Couch?” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To see a previous “THE NUTSHELL,” click here.[/box]

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BLOGGERNAUT: Aggressive “D” Needed

 NOTE: TO SEE THIS POSTING AT ARGONAUTS.CA, CLICK HERE, OR ON THE PHOTO BELOW.

A third of the way into the season, the disappointment is etched in the faces of the players and the coaches. But, there is time for the Toronto Argonauts to reverse the course of 5 straight losses and begin a push towards a playoff spot. The good news is that a win in Hamilton would close them to within 2 points of their arch-rivals. It might even give them a leg up on a possible crossover playoff position, depending on the outcomes of the Lions’ and Roughriders’ games.

Far from feeling helpless and hard done by, the Argos seem intent on making a turnaround. The mood at Wednesday’s practice seemed upbeat, the executions crisp. As an added bonus, injured linebacker Jason Pottinger suited up. Maybe that added to the bouncy mood. Could he return to bolster the defence much sooner than was thought? It’ll be a few weeks, yet, but the original prognosis was that he was done for the season. At the very least, his presence might serve as a touchstone that quick turnarounds are possible.

That’s what the Argo defence needs. Allowing 407 yards of offence a game, the Argos rank last in the CFL. The top-ranked Winnipeg Blue Bombers give up, on average, almost 120 fewer yards per game.

New Defensive Coordinator Orlondo Steinauer has his work cut out for him, but it’s not a grim task. Even with injuries, the Argo defence has shown a considerable depth in talent, with no shortage, it seems, of big-play abilities. Steinauer’s challenge, then, is to move the pieces around a little, and afford them the opportunity to be in the position to make the game-changing plays. It’s the type of defence Steinauer played so well. Would it be to anyone’s surprise if he implemented that approach as a coach? A more aggressive Argo defence is possible and some would say, needed.

By way of example, in two losses to Montreal this season, the Argos basically hung back on defence, rushing 3 players much of the time while an extra defender dropped into pass coverage. Anthony Calvillo racked up 656 total passing yards in those two games while running back Brandon Whitaker cruised for 270 along the ground. That type of lay-back philosophy has allowed opposing quarterbacks ample time to survey and exploit. So far this season, the Argo defence has allowed a pass completion rate of 72%. That’s far too high. Can it be dealt with?

It can, with more aggressive coverage schemes and, especially, more aggressive rush schemes. A front four of Ricky Foley, Ronald Flemons, Claude Wroten and Kevin Huntley has the potential to be oh so damaging to an opponents’ passing game. Keeping Foley on the line with the other three might provide the Argo defence with one of the league’s more formidable sack attacks. Throw in the odd blitzing linebacker or defensive back and the Argo D may well have its answer. Short of sacks, an aggressive pass rush might at least force opposing quarterbacks to make quicker, possibly ill-advised decisions. And defensive backs love ill-advised quarterback decisions.

This type of defensive philosophy has its risks, of course. But the Argo defence does seem well-stocked with players who could make it work. Having said that, don’t expect all blitzes, all the time. That would mean too much man to man coverage in the secondary for Head Coach Jim Barker’s liking. He believes, as do many coaches, that excessive amounts of man to man coverage can burn out a defensive secondary quickly.

On offence, Cory Boyd’s return against Hamilton could provide the offence with the elixir it needs. He was last year’s Argonaut MVP and there’s good reason for that. His battering ram running may provide the offence with one of the most cherished of CFL commodities: Manageable second down yardage. Six or seven yard gains on first down make life infinitely more enjoyable for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators alike.

 

THE EXTRA POINT

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. I asked Argonaut receiver Jermaine Copeland if he’d ever heard that saying.

“No, but I get it. Better to be the windshield than the bug, because of the splatter part.”

Exactly. It’s a philosophical thing, really. Some people believe a bug can , through no fault of its own, find it’s way on to that windshield. It’s just fate. Others believe the bug authored its own demise, it’s mistakes leading it, eventually, to that windshield and an unsavoury demise.

With the Argos this year, they’ve had more than their fair share of “bug” moments. Some of their own design (fumbles, penalties, missed opportunities) some that were beyond their control (injuries, an oddball clock moment in Edmonton).

You can’t do much about the fickle finger of fate stuff. But you can diminish the number of your mistakes.

“That’s what we need to do,” Copeland told me after practice, this week. As a veteran, he knows this. What he hadn’t known, before this season, was the feeling of being on a 1 and 5 team. He’s never suffered that in his entire CFL career. Beyond, actually.

“I’ve never faced this my entire life. I’ve never been one and five, and I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old. I don’t like it. I hate it. But on the positive side I know there’s definitely a turnaround waiting. A few tipped balls here and there, a few plays turned the other way… all of a sudden we’re on the victorious side of things.”

He’s hoping to lead the Argos out of that wilderness, beginning this weekend.

[box border=”full”]To see the previous “BLOGGERNAUT,” click here.[/box]

BLOGGERNAUT: Fletcher Paying It Forward

[box border=”full”]NOTE: TO SEE THE POSTING AT CFL.CA, CLICK  HERE, OR ON THE PICTURE BELOW.[/box]

Michael Fletcher, All-Time Argo and Grey Cup Champion, has regrets.

Odd that when I asked him what immediately comes to mind when I say the phrase “your Argonaut career,” he doesn’t talk about that Championship team of 2004, or being named  one of the greatest linebackers in team history. No particular spectacular play, no triumphant moment. Instead, he talks about regret.

“Maybe I’m different than most people but I think about the missed opportunities. If I had a mulligan I’d like to do the 2007 Eastern Final over again” (The Argos lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 19 – 9). “Oh, God, that right there… we had the opportunity to play in a Grey Cup at home. Not capitalizing on that moment doesn’t scar my Argo career, but… you just wish you had some of those moments back.”

Fletcher returned to the scene of that disappointment this past week, a guest of the team he still follows, in a city he still loves. We talked, prior to Thursday night’s game  between the Argos and Montreal Alouettes.

A coach and substitute teacher at his alma mater, Paramount High School, in Southern California, Fletcher reflected on that one big regret. But also on football, family, and hamburgers. Yes, hamburgers. More on that a little later. But first, let’s catch up with the Argo great and his real life “Friday Night Lights” existence.

Fletcher is about to enter his second season as Assistant Head Coach at Paramount (the Pirates went 5 and 5 last season), located between Long Beach and Compton, Fletcher’s home town. It’s a big, big school, with some 5,000 students in what he terms a “blue collar city.”

“I really thought I wanted to be a college coach, but, I’m really loving the high school scene right now,” said Fletcher. “I get to go to school and I get to coach for a couple of hours, so, that’s pretty good for me.”

The hours help him balance his life pretty well, allowing him to spend time pursuing his Masters in Education and his teaching credential in English. As well, Fletcher has a young family he loves to spend time with. His wife and high school sweetheart, Brandi, was Head Cheerleader and Fletcher was the starting Quarterback, at Paramount. “The all-American story,” he chuckled. With daughters Ryan, 11, Reese, 3, and Reagan, 18 months, Fletcher counts himself as blessed.

“I’m surrounded by four beautiful ladies every time I go home. Even our pet dogs are girls. I’m a lucky guy. And I have almost 200 sons at school I get to go to almost every day and coach (or teach).”

Although he prefers the lifestyle of a high school coach, Fletcher does cast the occasional glance toward the league in which he starred. It’s because he believes a CFL coach’s lifestyle, more than that of an NFL or college coach, suits his goal of staying in football while spending quality time with family.

“Like, a CFL job is perfect. In the NFL or college you’ve got a lot of guys who meet just to meet, for some odd reason. There’s only so much film you can watch. I think some people make it more difficult than it is.”

Pursuit seems to be a big part of Michael Fletcher’s life. Whether it was the relentless pursuit of ball carriers during his pro career, or his pursuit of education and coaching excellence now, you can say he most certainly has the motivational gene. Both in the sense of his ability to be motivated and to motivate others. When it comes to those in his charge, he sees plenty of similarities between coaching football and teaching english.

“Coaching is teaching. (in both) You’ve got to find out what fits each student, how to motivate each student. It’s kind of the same mentality in a sense. That’s a challenge for me as a teacher, a coach. To find out how to get the most out of them and then you teach or coach from there. You get them for 52 minutes a day, 5 days a week, to try to get the most out of them. It’s a challenge I enjoy.”

He expresses satisfaction in connecting with kids and helping propel them forward. Especially rewarding for him is helping to raise the game of gifted athletes to an even higher level.

“I like to help make the best players become even better, and then they share that knowledge with other people.”

While we chat, Fletcher’s 2004 Grey Cup ring rests on the table in front of us, not perched on his finger. He’s very proud of the accomplishment, but not keen on flaunting it.

“I’m not a big jewellery guy. For the young men I coach, if they ask me to bring it in I bring it. They love seeing things like that and it does spark some guys.”

Fletcher keeps tabs on his old team, as he does pretty much every Toronto team. He mentioned that the Blue Jays blew a chance to climb into 3rd in the A.L. East earlier in the day, and said he follows the Raptors, in part , because a fellow Compton native, DeMar DeRozan, plays for them. As for the Argos?

“Typical Argo story. Start off slow. But they always seem to wake up on Labour Day for some odd reason.”

What’s the trouble this season?

“Not scoring enough points, it seems like. I just look at two stats. Points against and turnovers. And you know what’s going on.”

As for the city, itself?

“I miss it. It’s a part of me. It’s a piece of me that will never leave. I have had nothing but positive experiences here, on and off the field. I’ve met people who are friends and colleagues for life.”

All – time friends for the All – Time Argo.

THE EXTRA POINT

In his playing days, crunching tackles weren’t all Fletcher was known for. He was also known for munching hamburgers, right before a game. Along with teammate Clifford Ivory, they could occasionally be seen sitting in the stands, half-dressed in their football uniforms, enjoying a burger from the dome’s now-defunct Hard Rock Cafe.

“Once my career was done I guess they closed the Hard Rock down. I kept them in business.”

Well, you need to fuel up for a big game, that’s true. What raised eyebrows was the fact that they downed the burgers so close to the time they were needed to take the field.

“When I’d come in from warm-ups I’d eat 20, maybe 25 minutes before kick off.”

Maybe you should bring a tray of hamburgers into your high school team’s locker room just before game time, Michael. Worked for you….

“They’ll eat anything. We do feed ’em before the game. Not that close to kick off because… I wouldn’t recommend it for people with weak stomachs.”

 

[box border=”full”]To see the previous “BLOGGERNAUT,” click here. [/box]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NUTSHELL: China’s Watermelons Explode, The Olympics Call On The Clash And Turmel Gets Detention

A weekly feature, with a collection of random thoughts on random things.

POLITICS

Prime Minister Harper attended a barbecue thrown by Rob Ford, this week. It was there that the PM let us know that he and the Mayor have gone fishing together. Video of the speeches, including one given by the PM are marked “private” on YouTube.You can only see them if you’re invited. Taking this controlling of information a little far, aren’t we, Mr. Harper? It was a speech at a barbecue, for crying out loud. I look forward to your releasing of birthday cards with redacted portions.

Stephen Harper and Rob Ford. Looks like the secret Tory handshake might involve that wiggling finger thingy.

Of course, video of some of the speeches leaked out. In his monologue, Harper noted that he’d gone fishing with Ford recently. Wonder what Liberal carcasses they chummed the water with. The PM also pointed out that Ford didn’t live up to his reputation because when he caught a fish, he didn’t gut it and eat it. Good line. But I’ll guess that if that fish had a library card, the mayor’s brother would have jumped in and beaten it with a Tim Hortons Bagel Belt. It’s the fish’s fault for getting caught. That’s what it gets for “surfacing.”

U.S. President Barack Obama held his 50th birthday bash this week. Jennifer Hudson and Herbie Hancock performed. Herbie Hancock? If you were going 80’s, Barack, I’d have preferred Lionel Ritchie singing “Dancing On The Ceiling.”  Too soon, Mr. President? Top ticket price for the bash was just under $36,000.00. For that amount of money, they should bloody well have had Marilyn Monroe come back from the dead to sing “happy birthday.” The soiree was cut short in dramatic fashion when Republican House Leader John Boehner burst in and refused to back Obama’s exhortations to guests that they “raise the roof.”

It was revealed that Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel once held memberships in both the NDP and Bloc Quebecois at the same time. She said she only joined the BQ to “help a friend.” Great answer. If you’re 16 years old and you pulled the fire alarm in the hall to keep your friend from being busted with a bottle of Kahlua in the washroom. Yes, you thought you were helping a buddy. But, she was still doing something wrong, young lady. We’ve no choice but to send you to the Parliamentary Library this Saturday for a day’s detention, a la Breakfast Club. “Don’t You Forget About Me…” Or should I sing: “Je Me Souviens….”

 POP CULTURE

"Guys, this has been great. But, seriously, send my waiter over. I ordered the fajitas, like, an hour ago."

You know how, every once in awhile, you’ll say or write a sentence you’re pretty sure you’ve never before uttered or typed? This is one of those cases. Here goes: Click here to see a Beluga Whale dancing to a mariachi band. The song is “Yellow Bird.”  Now, that’s entertainment, Obama. THAT I’d have paid 36 large to see.

Martin Sheen marked his 71st birthday this week. The highlight occurred when his son arrived and snorted all the icing off dad’s vanilla meringue cake. Ashton Kutcher will take over as Sheen’s son in time for the family’s Labour Day Weekend barbecue.

 SPORTS

The Nashville Predators lost their arbitration case against Shea Weber. Although “lost” is an odd term to use when you consider they still have one of the NHL’s best defencemen in uniform. Weber was awarded $7.5 million on a one year contract. Hey, isn’t that Gary Bettman money? I know a number of hockey fans who wish Bettman was also on a one year contract.

Major League baseball is investigating Yankees’ 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez for possible gambling infractions. There are tabloid allegations that A-Rod has been involved in high stakes Beverly Hills poker games with the likes of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Leonardo Dicaprio. Are we sure they weren’t just screen testing for “Oceans 14”? Anybody check to see if George Clooney was in the room, poring over test footage? Sources say MLB wants to meet with Rodriguez to discuss the situation. Which could merely mean that Bud Selig wants to ask Rodriguez if he can forward Clooney the screenplay he’s been working on about his life.

Personally, I think The Clash would have made an excellent 4 x 100 metre relay team.

The London Olympics Organizing Committee has secured The Clash’s “London Calling” as its theme song. I suppose they’ll be changing the lyrics a wee bit, won’t they? Here are some samples of that song’s sentiment that may not be in the Olympic spirit. “London calling, to the faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down.” “London calling to the zombies of death.”  And, finally, “London is drowning and I live by the river.” Here are my proposed changes: The first line? Easy. “London calling, to the faraway towns, now games are declared and athletes come ’round.” Second line… “London calling, to the …umm, er.. let’s just leave it at “zombies of death.” I get the feeling that tri-athletes can’t possibly be killed. It’s a tribute to them. Last line? “London is swimming and I live by the Aquatic Centre.”  You’re welcome, London Olympic Organizing Committee. Hope this helps. Because if the song’s original disaffected, rebellious siren call is heeded, we could be in for an athlete uprising. Fear the javelin and hammer throwers the most.

CURRENT EVENTS

China has been plagued, recently, with exploding watermelons. Acres and acres of exploding watermelons. Could be a routine explanation, however. Anybody check to see if comedian “Gallagher” has been touring the Jiangsu Province? If you’re under 40, you may need to look that up. Officials actually think that the overuse of a growth chemical might be the culprit. But, some farmers claim they haven’t been using it. And that they got their seeds from a Japanese supplier. Which may just go to show that the Japanese have a helluva sense of humour. Or a misguided military sense of how to defeat China.

FINAL THOUGHT

MTV turned 30 on Monday. Pathetic how it’s still hanging out with teenagers.

[box]To see a previous THE NUTSHELL, click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To hear this week’s podcast, THE GIST OF IT, click here.[/box]

The Gist Of It – August 3, 2011

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On “The Gist Of It” this week, Bill and Don discuss Nycole Turmel’s dual – party status, Margaret Atwood’s war with the Fords and The Sheepdogs’ landing on the cover of Rolling Stone. As well, they kick around the Argos’ season so far and the Jays’ adding of Colby Rasmus (and his dad). Don bombs the Leafs over the Ryerson arena deal while Bill takes on the 24-hour news cycle. Oh, and there’s the case of the Dunkin Donuts prostitute.