Saturday, June 28, 2008

The mysterious origins of tennis

With Wimbledon upon us it seemed like a good time to take a look at the origins of tennis and it's strange scoring system. After possibly originating in France, the game eventually made its way to England where, apparently, King Henry VIII invented the 'service' - his servants used to throw the ball up in the air for him because he was too fat to do it himself. Good times. Learn more here.

From my reading this suggests tennis players were just degenerate gamblers. Okay, 'degenerate' might be a little harsh, but the sport was generally played for money and the gambling terms came to define the scoring system.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Music for the long weekend

1. I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You - Black Kids

Normally descriptions of what new music sounds like aren't that helpful (e.g. Hot Chip was often called Abba meets Radiohead. In terms of musically sensibility, maybe. In terms of sound, that is a stretch). However, in this case, I think you can describe the Black Kids sound, on this song anyway: The Go! Team if they were fronted by Robert Smith of the Cure. Awesome song.

2. Violet Hill - Coldplay

I was quite prepared not to like their new stuff but this song is good and has an edge to it. I'm not as enamoured with the title track.

3. Shut Up And Let Me Go - The Ting Tings

I don't know if this is terrible or cool? The CSS comparisons are definitely valid, and someone said they reminded them of Blondie, but the Tings could also slip into Black Eyed Peas territory. Very catchy and not sure if it is good or trash? Sounds like a perfect summer song.

4. See You Again - Miley Cyrus

Full, embarrassing disclosure: I love this song. I really, really love it. I love it in a way I haven't loved a cheesy, pop song since Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". There, I've said it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wasabi Popsicle

Nothing cools you down like wasabi. Well, like a wasabi popsicle anyway. Can't wait until a TO restaurant imports this idea, although I'm guessing Tim's "nothing chills like it" slogan is safe.

And for your added viewing pleasure, here's a classic Budweiser "Whazzup?" commercial. And an all-time classic alt-version.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Euro 2008 report: England's progress thus far

When Saturday Comes - The Half Decent Football Magazine tracks England's progress to date at the Euros and comments on who made it through the Group stages and who had to go home. If you enjoy satire this is the article for you. If you don't get satire you may be offended.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sean Avery completes his Vogue internship and lives to tell about it.

Everyone's favourite love-to-hate (or is that hate-to-love?) hockey player, Sean Avery, recently wrapped up his internship at Vogue and as the guest editor over at Men's Vogue. He talks about his experience here.

My favourite quote (thanks to James Mirtle's outstanding hockey blog for highlighting the article and the quote):

"So that's what I learned. And if you'd like to learn something, consider this: If you feel like teasing this hockey player about an obsession of his that you might think is a little unusual, go right ahead. Just know that you may get your ass kicked by a very expensive pair of shoes — and that they'll probably match both my belt and my shirt."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yeah, but how much to make it a combo?

A Burger King location in London has launched a Kobe Beef burger that sells for $200 (85 quid).The Burger’ as it is known, features Wagyu beef, white truffles, Pata Negra ham slices, Cristal onion straws, Modena balsamic vinegar, lambs lettuce, pink Himalayan rock salt, organic white wine and shallot infused mayonnaise in an Iranian saffron and white truffle dusted bun. All the proceeds from the burger go to a children’s charity.

A bargain at end price, I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Most Beautiful Goat Competition

The Most Beautiful Goat competition happened recently in Riyadh. Competition was fierce and the judges were under intense pressure. I think they made the right call. The winner is one fine looking goat.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Special US Open Playoff-inspired golf posting

In honour of today's US Open 18-hole playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate I bring you a special all-golf posting. [Side note: Rocco has one of the best names in golf, not the least because former TSN anchor Brendan Connor once called him "Rocco Meh-die-a-tie". Les Nessman must have been proud.]

1. Tiger Woods is an inspiration to us all. He is a medical marvel, a great golfer, the world's most important human and, perhaps, Batman. I loved the comment about his dad in the Responses section. Too funny.

2. TIME Magazine looks at golf fashion over the years. There are some good pics here, but I think they could have done better.

3. And lest we get bogged down focusing on the professionals, awesome urologist Floyd Seskin has come up with an invention so ingenius, yet so simple, that it makes me wonder why I didn't invent it. This is a new club for the weekend hacker and low handicapper alike. No, not another $600 driver with a club head the size of a toaster, this club might even be more useful for those boys' golf days/trips. As per their product tag line it is, "The only club in your bag guaranteed to keep you out of the woods!" You can buy one here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song

Well, the CBC losing the Hockey Night In Canada theme song has certainly been hot news. In fact, it is such big new that it has even attracted the attention of key American media outlets.... For the final word on the the CBC losing the HNIC theme song we go to the one and only Stephen Colbert:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Derrie-Air: the future of air travel?

An idea whose time has come?

Derrie-Air Exposed
June 09, 2008 Associated Press

Readers of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News opened their papers Friday to see ads for a new airline called Derrie-Air, which purportedly charges passengers by the pound.

But the new carrier will never get off the ground. It was a one-day advertising campaign about a fake airline by Philadelphia Media Holdings, the papers’ owner, and Gyro ad agency.

In light blue banners throughout the papers—as well as on their website—Derrie-Air cheerily trumpeted its policy: The more you weigh, the more you pay. The ads directed readers to

Philadelphia Media Holdings spokesman Jay Devine said the goal is to “demonstrate the power of our brands in generating awareness and generating traffic for our advertisers and put a smile on people’s faces.”

The company tracked traffic to the Derrie-Air site. Derrie-Air’s sample rates range from $1.40 per pound to fly from Philadelphia to Chicago, to $2.25 per pound to fly from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

Those who scroll to the bottom of the homepage find out the truth behind Derrie-Air.A disclaimer labels the ad campaign “fictitious” and says it is designed “to test the results of advertising in our print and online products and to stimulate discussion on a timely environmental topic of interest to all citizens.”

“In other words,” it says, “smile, we’re pulling your leg.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I Found Your Camera

Ever lose your camera or a memory stick with photos on it? Sucks, doesn't it. Well, the good people at I Found Your Camera are using the internet to reunite lost cameras and orphan photos with their original owners.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Euro 2008 Preview (Part III)

So, that brings us to the knockout rounds. For some reason they aren't doing a crossover this year which means the easier top half of that draw just got that much easier. Germany and, maybe, Portugal, are the only real big boys in the top half of the draw; whereas, the bottom half has Italy, France, Holland and Spain, plus the defending champion Greeks. Or, as Mr. Bush preferred, 'the Grecians'.

Germany hasn't won a game at the Euros since their 1996 title, and England didn't even qualify, so maybe I'm reading too much into where the big footballing countries are grouped. This tournament has also seen longshots contend and win: Greece won it last time as "the ultimate outsiders", the Czechs lost in the finals in 1996 and Denmark won it in '92 as, er, "the ultimate outsiders".

[Sidenote: Which of Greece and Denmark really was "the ultimate outsider"? Tough question. No one gave Greece a chance to win, or even to get out of their group. Denmark didn't even qualify for the tournament they ended up winning, but were a fancied side. Close call but I have to give it to the Danes since it took a war to break out for them to even get to participate in the tournament.]

On to the match-up and the predictions.


Czechs v. Croatia -- Czechs take it 2-1 (penalties)
Germany v. Portugal -- Germans take it 2-1
Holland v. Spain -- game of the tournament goes to Spain 3-2
Sweden v. France -- Swedes go out in their customary round 1-0 to France

Germany v. Czechs -- Germany turns the screw en route to 2-0 win
Spain v. France -- France always knocks out Spain. Not this time. Spain wins 3-1

Germany v. Spain -- Spain goes ahead only to agonizingly give it up and lose 2-1 to the Germans who win their fourth Euro and first since 1996

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Euro 2008 Preview (Part II)

Yesterday I previewed Groups A and B. Today we look at Groups C and D. Tomorrow we'll look at the knockout rounds and predict a winner.


France - This is a team in transition and are still looking to define themselves post-Zidane. The good news: Henry should be well rested and play like he has something to prove after a disastrous first season at the Nou Camp. The bad news: Their central midfielders once played for Caesar in the Roman era Euros. Makele and Viera are still both capable players but they aren't what they were. Are suitable replacements available? I look for Frank Ribery to shine in this tournament and I expect him to be the breakout star of the Euros.

Holland - Babel injury probably locks in the un-Dutch-like 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1. This could be a blessing in disguise as either of those formations should get the best out of Ruud van Nistelroy. Expectations seem lower than usual for the Dutch which likely means this is a year they impress. A healthy Van Persie is key to their hopes.

Italy - Cannavaro's injury is a serious blow to the World Champions. He hasn't really been up to his 2006 standards but he's the calm centre of Italy's backline. Italy is another team in transition. Who will be pulling the strings and getting the ball to Luca Toni? Do Pirlo, Gattuso and the gang have another magical run in them?

Romania - They will be overlooked in this group but are definitely capable of pulling off an upset. By all accounts they are a good team and are unfortunate to be drawn into this group.

Prediction: Well, what more can be said about this group? The Group of Death certainly lives up to its billing. The biggest surprise, for me, is how the Czechs managed to avoid this group? I will probably rue this prediction at the end of June, but I see Italy crashing out here with Holland winning the group and France coming in second.


Spain - Stop me if you've heard this before. They have too much talent and could score goals by the boatload. Who can stop Torres? They are loaded in attack and defense and have, arguably, the best goalkeeper in the world. The finals are not out of the question. Still, they are Spain.

Greece - They look to be a better team this time around than when they won in 2004 (and bored everyone to death). Ironically, despite being better and playing more attractive soccer they aren't likely to advance. No magic run this summer.

Russia - They didn't impress in qualifying - barely finishing above England is not exactly a significant accomplishment.

Sweden - They are always better than everyone thinks and gives them credit for. They always qualify with ease and usually navigate trickier groups than this one. Ibrahimovic's form is a concern. The returning Larsson should be good for a diving header. Undoubtedly they will field the best looking team with the most attractive fans. So they got that going for them, which is nice.

Prediction: This is a tough group to figure out. Sweden wins the group and Spain also advances after making it difficult for themselves.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Euro 2008 Preview (Part I)

As promised (threatened?) here is your can't miss, super-genius Euro 2008 preview (Part I).


Czech Republic - Losing Rosicky is a real blow. They have been the hard luck team in the past. I'm betting (well, not with my money) that this is the year it breaks right for them. Um, kind of like 1996. The Czechs are this year's Ewing Theory candidate with Nedved's international retirement.

Portugal - They have skill to burn and, arguably, the best player in the tournanent and Carvalho is as good as it gets at centreback but... they probably blew their best chance for a title in 2004 when they lost in the final at home to Greece. Burning questions: After an unbelievable season how much does Ronaldo have in the tank? Can their strikers actually put the ball in the net?

Switzerland - The event should be well run. Senderos will be carded.

Turkey - A wildcard in this group but I don't see them advancing.

Prediction: the Czechs top the group and Portugal also advances


Austria - Should be a great party atmosphere at their games, and at all the games played in Austria

Croatia - Without Eduardo they can't win the title. Sorry, but it is true. They will be a tough out and can beat anyone on any given day.

Germany - Tournament favourites and probable finalists. They have the best draw of the traditional powers. Hopefully they continue the attacking style they played under Klinnsman and through qualifying. Ballack is on form, although goalkeeping remains a concern.

Poland - Capable of advancing at the expense of Croatia.

Prediction - Emotional matches. Obviously this group has games with a lot of 'history' attached to them. Germany wins the group with Croatia runner-up.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The last boozy Tube ride

As of yesterday, drinking alcohol is no longer allowed in the London underground train network. I remember being in London visiting friends a few years ago and we stopped by the corner store to pickup a couple of tall boys for the Tube ride to Covent Garden. It struck me as a bit odd since we are very fussy in Canada about public drinking, but it was also oddly civilized. That, as I recall, was fairly early in the evening and the subway car was pretty empty. I imagine drinking on the Tube would get messier as the evening turned into night.

Monday, June 2, 2008

KFC to put ‘vegan chicken’ on the menu

This was emailed to me today and I had to share it.

KFC to put ‘vegan chicken’ on the menu
June 02, 2008 By Canadian Press

Following a five-year roasting by animal-rights activists, KFC Canada is promising improved welfare for the chickens it buys for its fast-food outlets in exchange for an end to a boycott campaign that will continue in the U.S. and elsewhere.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has agreed to call off its Canadian “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” campaign, which featured high-profile actress Pamela Anderson among others, following a signed agreement with the company.

Among other things, the deal obliges KFC Canada to buy from suppliers who use gas to kill their chickens painlessly, considered to be the least cruel method of slaughter. The company is also promising to insist on other “animal-welfare friendly” measures relating to how the birds are kept, including a maximum on crowding and phasing out non-essential growth hormones and other drugs.

Customers of the popular restaurant chain will also be able to order a vegan “chicken” item, according to the deal that followed almost seven months of negotiations.

“It’s going to drastically reduce the suffering of chickens in slaughterhouses and also... improve the living conditions for animals while they’re on the farm,” Matt Prescott, PETA’s assistant director of corporate affairs, said from Norfolk, Va.

KFC Canada president Steve Langford said he was delighted with the agreement.

“It will be nice to put this behind us,” Langford said. “Our preference is to have nothing negative attached to our brand.”

Langford said the Canadian operations, which are independent of those in the U.S., chose to take the situation into its own hands and talk to PETA about animal welfare.

“Once I got involved and we actually met face to face, we found out that we had no differences of opinion about how animals should be treated,” Langford said.

PETA’s campaign included more than 12,000 protests at KFC restaurants and outside the homes of company senior executives.

KFC Canada is owned by Priszm Income Fund, based in Vaughan, Ont., which operates 465 outlets across the country. The fund has been struggling to stem a flow of red ink and shore up falling share values.

Most of the 300 independent franchisees have agreed to abide by the agreement with PETA.

While the anti-KFC campaign will now end in this country, PETA said it would continue in the U.S., the U.K. and other countries. However, it is hoping to persuade Yum Brands, which owns KFC outlets in the United States, to follow the Canadian lead.

Originally published in Marketing Magazine, June 2008

Why we love Kristen Bell

I haven't seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall but I hear it is surprisingly funny. Always a good thing for a comedy. The titular Sarah Marshall character is played by Kristen Bell. I don't think I've ever seen a Kristin Bell TV show or movie - unless I go see FSM between now and whenever you read this - but she definitely seems to be a pseudo-"it" girl right now. Beyond the obvious reason (i.e. she's a babe), here are two reasons why we love Kristen Bell:

1. She is a huge hockey fan (well Detroit Red Wings anyway) and had a crush on Chris Osgood when she was in high school. read her full interview here.

2. She does a mean Princess Leia impersonation.