The Death Of American Justice

They’ve planted the seeds of perversion
In the minds of the weak
So they know nothing but compliance
And never have the courage to speak
As their bubble of denial continues to grow
And their murderous mayhem continues unabated
The Arab World seethes and despairs
For their innocent brothers so wrongly incarcerated

They also grieve for the hundred prisoners who perished
And were needlessly tortured beyond recognition
Starved and stripped of their humanity
By the unrepentant American mission
They never got their day in court
They were denied the right to clear their names
Plucked from their lives and left to rot
Thanks to a decade of “legal” mind games

Stored like animals in confining cages
Treated like vermin without any souls
Subjected to countless interrogations
To satisfy sadistic American goals
Long targetted for being different
Endlessly engulfed in an ocean of suspicion
They just want to live in peace
And not face any more painful derision

But their collective torture will undoubtedly go on
As their perpetrators routinely get slaps on the wrist
When there is no accountability for so many wrongful acts
It makes no sense to remain a pacifist
So the cycle of violence rages on
As the wheels of justice grind to a halt
Two Presidents are now responsible
For overseeing this unspeakable assault

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, August 31, 2012
11:15 p.m.

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Published in: on August 31, 2012 at 11:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Lance Armstrong’s Revealing iPod Playlist

1. Tour De France (Kraftwerk)

2. It Wasn’t Me (Shaggy)

3. The Perfect Drug (Nine Inch Nails)

4. An Innocent Man (Billy Joel)

5. Evidence (Faith No More)

6. Not Guilty (The Beatles)

7. In The Blood (Better Than Ezra)

8. I Want A New Drug (Huey Lewis & The News)

9. Would I Lie To You? (Eurythmics)

10. Ridin’ Dirty (Chamillionaire)

11. Blood Brothers (Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band)

12. A Conspiracy (The Black Crowes)

13. Condemnation (Depeche Mode)

14. Knives Out (Radiohead)

15. That Don’t Impress Me Much (Shania Twain)

16. Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon)

17. Leave Me Alone (Michael Jackson)

18. Not Happy (Jale)

19. Running Out Of Time (Sugar)

20. Your Cheatin’ Heart (Hank Williams Sr.)

21. Terrible Lie (Nine Inch Nails)

22. Diggin’ A Hole (Big Sugar)

23. You Complain (The Age Of Electric)

24. Anything Cept The Truth (Eagles Of Death Metal)

25. One Inch Man (Kyuss)

26. Caught By The Fuzz (Supergrass)

27. Double Agent (Rush)

28. No Surprises (Radiohead)

29. Love Like Blood (Killing Joke)

30. Watchin’ The Detectives (Elvis Costello)

31. Drugs In My Pocket (The Monks)

32. The Chemicals Between Us (Bush)

33. Secret Heart (Ron Sexsmith)

34. Cheatin’ On You (Franz Ferdinand)

35. Into Temptation (Crowded House)

36. Bad Timing (Blue Rodeo)

37. Digging The Grave (Faith No More)

38. Cranky (The Age Of Electric)

39. Mad At The World (The Age Of Electric)

40. Suffer Well (Depeche Mode)

41. Distant Early Warning (Rush)

42. Don’t Let It End (Styx)

43. I Pity The Fool (Bobby Bland)

44. Don’t Cry (Guns N’ Roses)

45. Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina (Evita Soundtrack)

46. I Might Be Wrong (Radiohead)

47. Ego Override (Bob Mould)

48. I Was Wrong (Social Distortion)

49. No Leaf Clover (Metallica)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, August 30, 2012
12:52 a.m.

Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 12:52 am  Comments (3)  

90 Reasons Not To Re-Elect President Obama

1. He promised to close the disgraceful Guantanamo Bay prison within his first year of office.  Four years later, it still hasn’t happened.

2. He didn’t include a public option in his health care reform bill like he promised.

3. He ordered the unlawful murder of Osama Bin Laden instead of having him arrested and put on trial.

4. He ordered the unlawful murder of Anwar Al-Alwaki, an American citizen who openly criticized American foreign policy, without providing any evidence of wrongdoing.

5. Despite promising to be the most transparent American President of all time, he’s the most secretive since Nixon.  He has so little shame he even accepted a transparency award behind closed doors.

6. He hasn’t ordered the investigation of a single Bush Administration official for war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and God knows where else.  Ditto his own administration.

7. But he has had six whistleblowers arrested and prosecuted for exposing torture, civilian murder and government waste.  (Incidentally, during the campaign he was pro-whistleblower.)  Good to see he knows the difference between right and wrong.

8. Not a single banker or Wall Street worker has ever been held accountable for the 2008 economic bust.  He needs their contributions to his re-election campaign.  They are his base, after all.

9. His heartless mission to shut down legally recognized medical marijuana outlets, most notably in California, despite publicly saying he would do the opposite.

10. His overall refusal to end The Drug War.  Guess he could do illegal drugs in his youth without being incarcerated but nobody else can.  They just rot in a prison cell for years without hope.

11. His acceptance of a Nobel Peace Prize while overseeing at least two needless wars in The Middle East.  (We’re up to 6, at the moment.)  If he had a conscience he would’ve refused the honour.  Mass murder doesn’t lead to global peace or respect.

12. His lack of outrage over the endlessly illegal and immoral occupation of the Palestinians.

13. His open dismissal of legitimate liberal criticisms of his policies.  He gets away with it because he knows his worshippers would never fully support Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the chronic flip flopper with equally extreme foreign policy views.

14. He doesn’t support the legalization of marijuana.

15. He won’t end America’s six colonial wars and remove all military personnel from The Middle East and Africa.

16. He doesn’t support democracy in the Arab world, only ruthless dictators who have no problem doing America’s bidding even if it means overlooking mass human rights abuses for decades.

17. Despite claiming with a straight face that operations in Iraq have concluded, the military and independent mercenaries are still fighting there.

18. The terrible mistreatment of the wrongly incarcerated Private Bradley Manning.  Set him free already.  He saved lives with his actions.

19. He promised “hope” and “change” but actually deepened the growing despair and cynicism about American imperialism all over the world.  That’s what happens when you keep killing innocent people.

20. He broke his promise to cancel the deal the Bush Administration made with telecom companies who participated in the wireless surveillance scandal.  They still have immunity and won’t be prosecuted for illegally spying on Americans.

21. The Solyndra screw-up.

22. The Fast & Furious fiasco.

23. He backed down on confronting Israel’s endless illegal settlement movement.

24. He hasn’t condemned the illegal surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD or even The Surveillance State in general. 

25. His lack of action regarding the thousands of homeless veterans living in the streets and shelters of America.

26. He broke his promise not to extend President Bush’s tax cuts which greatly favour the rich at the expense of everybody else.

27. The illegal Libya invasion (remember, it’s not a war!) which deposed a once-friendly dictator is now in utter chaos and detested by the Arab world.

28. Despite publicly announcing the end of “rendition”, America is still torturing Muslims abroad thanks to a sneaky loophole in this executive order (under “Sec. 2. Definitions”; (g)).

29. He may have returned to his original 1996 position on gay marriage (he’s for it again) but prefers letting the states decide whether it should happen or not.  How brave.  He hasn’t proposed a national bill to either Congress or the Senate proving talk is inevitably cheap.

30. His cabinet is filled with Wall Street cronies and former lobbyists.

31. He laughably refuses to acknowledge the deeply immoral drone program in court always citing “national security concerns” while simultaneously bragging about its successful kills in public.  You can’t have it both ways.  Guess his real last name is Orwell.

32. In order to cover up civilian deaths caused by those same drones all legal age male victims are filed under “militant” regardless of whether or not they posed an actual threat.  How shady.

33. He backed out of prosecuting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, in a real courtroom in New York City because of the irrational backlash against following the law even though hundreds of similiar cases went through the court system there without a fuss.

34. His draconian use of military tribunals rather than civilian criminal courts to prosecute alleged enemies of the state.  Anyone accused of a crime deserves to have their name cleared.  It’s what a civilized society should be doing.

35. Despite setting aside 75 billion to help 9 million Americans deal with the foreclosure scourge in a special fund (he had actually promised only 10 billion), government malfeasance has completely derailed its progress and people are still losing their homes.

36. His lack of persistent outrage over the numerous crimes of harassment, arson and abuse needlessly hurled towards American Muslims and now Sikhs.  Leave these people alone!

37. His misguided hostility towards Iran and its civilian nuclear program.  He’s only doing this because he doesn’t want Republicans to call him a pussy.  No matter how many laws he breaks and how many useless wars he wages, however, they’ll continue to absurdly call him weak on foreign policy.  Truth hurts their stubbornly powerful narrative.

38. His lack of outrage over the way demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street movement (he pays mere lip service to them) are treated by overzealous police officers.  Is using pepper spray on non-violent protestors (to name just one awful tactic) perfectly acceptable now?   

39. He failed in his promise to improve the economy within the first three years of his first term. 

40. His complete lack of respect for the dignity and independence of Muslims.

41. His foolish support for nuclear energy.

42. He rules like a far-right Republican while talking like a milque toast Democrat.

43. His bad policies continue to add to the ever growing multi-billion dollar deficit and multi-trillion dollar debt.  China must be thrilled.

44. He won’t cut back instantly and significantly on the needlessly bloated military budget.

45. Despite campaigning against it, he supported the extension of The Patriot Act.

46. His tortured comments on the proposed Islamic Centre in Area 51 of NYC.  He didn’t come right out and say what needed to be said:  there’s no legitimate reason why it shouldn’t exist there.

47. His shocking willingness to make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid just to appease impossible-to-please Republicans, an unprecedented move for a post-Roosevelt Democrat.

48. He promised to exempt seniors, who make $50000 or less, from paying annual income tax.  It hasn’t happened.

49. He drafted legislation to prevent those anti-gay maniacs, the Westboro Baptist Church, from protesting their hateful message at military funerals.  Whether we agree with the message or not, everyone has a right to assemble and protest peacefully.  That unconstitutional legislation sets a bad precedent for future government officials to curb movements that are more acceptable to the mainstream.

50. He won’t have the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, especially the ones not being tried in secret, released from custody.  None have had the chance to clear their names in this disgusting legal limbo they still find themselves in.  He also continually fights their justified lawsuits in civil courts.

51. Speaking of those same prisoners, the ones who aren’t contesting their illegal confinement (most likely because of cruelly expensive lawyers’ fees that eat up one’s savings over a considerable number of years) now have no access to their legal representatives at Gitmo who, in turn, can’t see their case files (because of supposedly “classified” information) without approval from the authorities.  What a load of bullshit.

52. Despite promising to legally force food companies to clearly label all genetically modified ingredients in their products, no bill making that a reality has ever been proposed.

53. He keeps urging the debt limit to be raised instead of being truly fiscally responsible.

54. He continued the Bush-era multi-billion dollar bailouts of both the auto and bank industries.

55. His endorsement of more gas and oil drilling particularly in environmentally sensitive areas.

56. His indifference to reigning in smog.

57. His lack of action on legally recognizing bi-national same-sex couples.  If you’re a gay American citizen and you marry a gay person from another country, you can’t be together in the United States or your foreign partner will be deported.

58. His authorization of hundreds of despicable drone missions to the Middle East resulting in countless civilian deaths including innocent rescue workers and funeral attendees not to mention women, children and teenagers.

59. His unkept promise to double federal funding for cancer research “within 5 years”.  Pretty shameful considering his own mother died of ovarian cancer.

60. Despite a campaign promise to create  “an independent watchdog agency to oversee the investigation of congressional ethics violations”, it never came to be.  Gee, I wonder why.

61. Despite offering to “double funding for afterschool programs”, there was no follow through.

62. He failed to raise the national minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.  It’s still a pathetic $7.25.

63. He promised to bring back the Superfund program which was designed to financially punish Big Polluters into cleaning up their own environmental messes but the funding hasn’t been restored.

64. His failed promise to recognize the Armenian genocide as President.

65. His lack of political will to revive the ban on assault rifles.

66. He renamed Bush’s “War On Terror” “Overseas Contingency Operation” without any significant policy change.

67. He abandoned his cap and trade proposal to counter the effects of global warming.

68. His promise to do an annual State of our Energy Future report went unfulfilled.

69. The imaginary Privacy & Civil Liberties Board and its invisible powers of oversight.

70. His proposal to have American citizens comment on impending “non-emergency bills” five days before he signs them into law has never been honoured.  Thanks for not asking.

71. His supposed plans to toughen the way former government officials transform themselves into corporate lobbyists easily fell by the wayside.  So much for that two-year grace period.

72. Every Tuesday he’s given a kill list where he selects the next batch of Muslims to die without proof of guilt.  It’s called Terror Tuesday.  Catchy.

73. He signed into law a bill that gives the government the sickening power to illegally detain someone without due process or legal representation indefinitely.  I thought this was America, land of the free.  What a joke.

74. He abandoned a plan to form an international coalition that would look after refugees displaced because of the second Iraq War.  Like besieged homeowners, imprisoned drug addicts and Muslims in general, they’re on their own.

75. Even if he did close down the Guantanamo Bay prison he would’ve simply relocated the mostly innocent prisoners to a brand new American facility.  Same shit, newer smell.

76. Because of the stress and frustration of a war and culture they don’t understand, many American military personnel kill themselves.  This year alone, the average is one suicide a day and is on a record-setting pace.  This shouldn’t be happening.

77. Elena Kagan, his second Supreme Court Justice nominee, hasn’t been very liberal since joining the highest court in the land in 2010.

78. He hasn’t transferred the innocent (and psychologically tortured) Omar Khadr back to his home country of Canada where he belongs.  The kid has suffered enough.

79. Like recent predecessors he has far too much unchecked executive power.

80. His early broken promises (check out this comprehensive five-page list covering his first term, some of which have already been mentioned here) led to significant Republican gains during the 2010 midterm election.

81. His disappointing inconsistency on choosing qualified liberal judges to be put up for confirmation in the higher courts.

82. The utter lack of urgency in restoring the regulations that would’ve prevented the banking and housing scandals or any future ones.

83. His war on Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and their supporters.  So much for being accountable and having honour.  Assange needs to get to Ecuador already.

84. His continuation of the Bush Administration’s policy of cyber warfare, particularly the use of viruses against Iran’s civilian nuclear facility.  Yeah, no one will think to use viruses of their own against America in retaliation.

85. His administration’s plans to take this “Iranian dissident group” off the official list of “foreign Terrorist organizations” because they pay many Democrats and Republicans to shill for them.  So they’re cool now like Saddam back in the day.

86. Despite promising reform he’s deported roughly three million Latin people, many of whom are simply the offspring of illegal immigrants who didn’t have a choice while others were turfed for very minor offences.  Maybe if he focused more on angry white guys, a lot of families wouldn’t be suffering right now.

87. The use of Karl Rove-style campaigning tactics against Republicans.  Fear has officially replaced hope.

88. Those unconscionable drones are creating deep resentment in the Arab world (duh!) and could potentially lead to more attacks. 

89. He supports those nationally loathed (and completely unnecessary) patdowns and intrusive body scans passengers receive from TSA workers at American airports.

90. He should be impeached instead.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, August 18, 2012
3:31 a.m.

Published in: on August 19, 2012 at 3:32 am  Comments (8)  

Breaking Dawn – Part 1

The permanent mystery of The Twilight Saga is the continuing fascination a jerky werewolf and a creepy vampire have with a dippy teenage girl.  Since the first film in this sadly successful franchise, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) have found it impossible to completely disentangle from Bella (Kristen Stewart).  Sure, she’s lovely and looks great in lingerie, but come on, she’s never had a winning personality.  In fact, when we first met her in Twilight, she was about as warm as a blister. 

Yet, through the course of this series, they both remain deeply smitten.  Their devotion to her is so absurdly intense they never even consider any other options.  And while, yes, Bella has lightened up a smidge, it’s still only a smidge.

At the end of New Moon, the first sequel, after doing the Costanza pre-emptive break-up routine and disappearing for most of the two-hour-plus running time Edward proposed to Bella.  It wasn’t until chapter three, Eclipse, that she gave her perplexing answer and only after a proper presentation.

And so, at the start of Breaking Dawn – Part 1, they finally get married.  Without a doubt, the conviction of those early scenes greatly depend on how much you’ve believed in this relationship from the start.  Anyone who has read my reviews of the earlier installments already knows where I’ve stood throughout the series.  This fourth chapter hasn’t changed my mind.  (Big shocker, I know.)

That being said, there is one entertaining thing about the wedding.  Without saying a word Stewart does an effective job of conveying, purely through facial expressions, how Bella really feels just before she’s walked down the aisle by her sheriff father (the reliable Billy Burke who could’ve been given funnier lines during his sour reception speech, although his misery is completely understandable).  For a brief moment, the sheer terror on her face, the unmistakable nervousness of this monumental decision in her life, brings out her fragile humanity in a way Edward and even Jacob never could.  Because of that, in that instant, we feel for her in a rare, positive way.  Then, just as quickly, it disappears as she stares blankly at the ugly guy she’s going to be stuck with forever.  (How odd that she doesn’t offer any kind of a smile at that point.  Can’t say I blame her, though.)

After the ceremony and reception (where a late-arriving Jacob angrily learns that the virginal Bella is still determined to get it on with Edward (why does this surprise him, exactly?) at some point during their honeymoon (she says she doesn’t want to be “writhing in pain” on her wedding night but ultimately doesn’t stick with that plan)), the newlyweds make a pit stop in Brazil before going to a private island old vampy got from Carlisle (Peter Facsimile) as a wedding present.  Once again, Edward dusts off the old hot-and-cold routine because apparently, and I never realized this before, vampires fuck violently.  The morning after the marriage is consummated the bedroom looks like Keith Moon’s hotel room.  Bella even has “love bruises” all over her.

Understandably worried about his technique but not at all interested in easing his thrust (or punches, apparently), Edward temporarily backs off, much to Bella’s disappointment.  Well, at least that leaves more time for chess.  This is some honeymoon, I’m telling ya.

At some point, we learn that vampire sperm isn’t exactly undead.  (Guess that wasn’t in the brochure.)  After hurling some hastily made fried chicken in the bathroom toilet, Bella notices a bit of a bulge in her tummy.  (How is that possible?  It’s only been two weeks since the wedding!)  That can mean only one thing:  yep, a rapidly growing demon fetus.

Because the pasty race and the human race don’t exactly knock boots on a regular basis (it’s just not kosher), this is unprecedented territory for the Cullens.  (There’s a strange disagreement between Alice (adorable Ashley Greene) and Rosalie (the often glaring Nikki Reed) over what to even call this unborn child.  (“Fetus!” “Baby!”).)  Regardless, Edward’s paternity means guaranteed problems with the birth (and a potential conflict with the werewolves who view the kid as an inevitable threat).  Furthermore, Bella is warned over and over and over again about the deadly risk of carrying her child to term.  (The pregnancy isn’t a lot of fun, either.  She starts losing weight, the baby gives her a broken rib, she has to drink blood like a slurpee and she generally looks terrible, as Jacob helpfully points out at one point.)

After hearing that, a reasonable person would say, “You know what?  I think I’ll take a pass on raising a bloodsucker.  Get it out of me.  I’d like to live, thanks.”  But not our Bella.  Nope.  Despite countless warnings from Edward, Carlisle and even grumpy, surprisingly shirted Jacob, no one can talk her out of being an idiot.  As she accurately noted after Jacob storms off in the reception scene, “I’m really, really, really stupid.”

Breaking Dawn – Part 1 suffers from the same afflictions as its predecessors:  tedious pacing; weak, unsympathetic characters; unpersuasive romances.  Even at just under two hours, it still feels too long.  God knows what the final running time for Part Two will be.  (I’m counting on at least 150 minutes.)

And yet, also like the earlier films, it’s quite beautiful to look at.  Watching a snoozefest like this deepens your appreciation for the cinematography, the set design (love that 30s movie theatre), and in the case of Bella’s emaciated state, the special effects.  But it’s not nearly enough to distract you from this far from exhilarating storyline.  I mean a wimpy vampire with a guilty conscience?  As Howard Stern would say, “Get out of here!”

It must be said, however, that there’s a nice payoff involving Bella at the end (maybe she’ll finally become interesting in the final sequel) and, once the “opening” titles conclude, a short, little scene involving The Volturi (where the hell have they been?) with reliably campy Michael Sheen at the helm.  From the start, he’s been the only actor who recognizes the utter silliness of this franchise and acts accordingly.  (Speaking of silly, what about Bella’s wedding nightmare?  Unintentionally hilarious.  On the other hand, Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick, who got a big laugh in New Moon delivers two more during her reception speech.)

As we crawl to the end of this tripe, one can’t help but feel for Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.  They seem trapped in these awful roles that may very well define their careers, an unfair fate for these young actors who I’m sure are quite eager to play a wide variety of characters far different from Edward and Bella. 

The real Pattinson comes across as far more good-humoured and likeable on The Daily Show than in his most famous role.  Maybe it’s the accent and the smile.  And although Stewart has never had a media-friendly disposition (she doesn’t sound or look any less miserable than the old Bella, unfortunately, which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t really matter anyway) she gave a fine performance playing Jodie Foster’s kid in Panic Room.  I’d like to see them get as far away from Twilight as possible.

In the meantime, the end of this sorry saga can’t come soon enough.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
2:06 a.m.

CORRECTION:  The start of paragraph six originally began this way:

“After the ceremony and reception (where a late-arriving Jacob learns that Bella isn’t a virgin anymore (you mean it took four movies for this dopey couple to get it on and they do it off-camera?) and becomes angry when she tells him it won’t be a one-time deal (why does this surprise him, exactly?))…”

Despite watching this scene three times, this is dead wrong.  For the record, Bella and Edward did not get it on off-camera, or on-camera for that matter, before their wedding.  When she tells Jacob, “I didn’t really want to spend my honeymoon writhing in pain,” for some reason I misinterpreted that to mean they had already had premarital sex.  Expanding my confusion is the next exchange where Jacob notes, “It’s not like you’re gonna have a real honeymoon with him anyway.”  To which Bella replies, “It’s gonna be as real as anyone else’s.”  Although she means she will have sex for the first time during the honeymoon, just not on the first night, I thought she meant she was going to do it for a second time.  Wrong.  The key line of dialogue that clears everything up comes shortly after Jacob’s temper surfaces when, upon learning this news, he says, “What?  While you’re still human?”.  (Duh!  How did I miss that part?)

Anyway, regardless of my confusion, the bottom line is this:  Bella’s still a virgin during this conversation and Jacob’s pissed because she won’t be at some point during the honeymoon which, as I said, ends up being that first night after all.

Special thanks to my pal Heather for pointing out my mistake.  I apologize for the delay in addressing this.  It took me four days to finally make sense of this stupid scene.  I hope everything is much clearer now.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, August 20, 2012
3:33 a.m.

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 2:07 am  Comments (5)  

Unofficial 2012 Summer Olympic Awards (Part Three)

They’ve Cemented Their Olympic Legacy

Canada’s Emilie Heymans won her fourth straight Olympic medal, a Bronze in the womens’ three-metre synchronized diving competition with partner Jennifer Abel (who won her first).  Heymans’ is the first woman to achieve that remarkable feat.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt added three more Gold medals to his collection after winning the mens’ individual 100 and 200 metre finals as well as the 4 X 100 relay final.  (He won Gold in the same races in Beijing four years earlier.)  He also set a new world record time in the 100 and helped establish another new one in the relay as the anchor.  He even got to keep the baton.

The American beach volleyball duo of Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh Jennings won their third consecutive Gold medal in the womens’ tournament.  They lost only one set in their last group match against Austria.  But even more impressive than that:  they went unbeaten throughout their entire Olympic career.

And American swimming sensation Michael Phelps added four more Golds and two more Silvers to his extraordinary collection of Olympic medals.  He ends his amateur career with 18 Golds, 4 Silvers and one Bronze, the most overall medals by an individual Olympian.  He also became the first man to successfully win two of his races in three consecutive Olympics.  Talk about ending on a high note.

Classiest Gesture (tie)

After groundbreaking South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius (the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics) finished last in a semi-final 400 metre heat, that race’s winner, Grenada’s Kirani James, shook his hand, gave him a hug and asked to exchange name tags with him.  The remarkable 19-year-old James went on to win the Gold medal.

After Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang re-injured his right Achilles tendon trying to jump the first hurdle in the last 110 metre qualifying heat, he eventually hopped on one leg to the finish line where Hungarian Balazs Baji greeted him and raised his arm.  Two other competitors, Spain’s Jackson Quinonez and the heat’s winner, Britain’s Andy Turner, both carefully carried him off the track.  By the way, Xiang just finished having surgery on the tendon and is expected to make a full recovery.

Most Inspirational Olympians

Oscar Pistorius wouldn’t even be allowed to compete at all this year were it not for the courts.  Once safely permitted to enter the London games, the double amputee better known as Blade Runner made history with his admirable runs in both the mens’ 400 metre and 4 X 400 relay.  In the former, he finished second in his heat with his best time of the season but sadly finished last in the semi-final.  In the latter, he never got to take the baton in a semi-final because his teammate was tripped by a Kenyan.  Thanks to an appeal, Pistorius and company got to race in the final but they were a non-factor by the time the pioneering athlete entered the fray.  (He was the anchor.)  They finished dead last.  Still, he made history and received routinely warm receptions from the media and citizens of the host country.  He was most appreciative.

The Canadian womens’ soccer team finished dead last in The World Cup last year and were not expected to hit the podium at the Olympics.  But thanks to new coach John Herdman, they transformed themselves into a much more competitive squad in just a year.  Despite losing their opening match against Japan, they went undefeated right up until the now infamous semi-final battle with the best team in their sport, the Americans.  After scoring two answered goals, Captain Christine Sinclair headed a third giving them a 3-2 lead in the last fifteen minutes or so of the second half.  (She scored six overall in the tournament, a new record and the most of any woman this year.)  Then, after two questionable calls by the Norweigian ref (a free kick in the box for goalkeeper time wasting and a handball leading to a penalty kick), America tied it up.  In the dying seconds of extra time, the fourth and decisive goal gave the US the hard-fought albeit lucky victory they coveted.  (They took the Gold over Japan in the final.)  Despite the anger and despair in the immediate aftermath of the game, Canada regrouped in a tough Bronze medal match against France, the country that humiliated them 4-0 at the World Cup.  This time, it was a different result.  The French had way more scoring chances overall, but in the end as the game was coming to a close, Canada eeked out a 1-0 win, thanks to a second half injury time goal by Diana Matheson, their only shot on goal.  If you ask me, they really deserved no less than a Silver.

South Korean archer Im Dong-Hyun set an individual world record in Archery as he went on to win Bronze in the team competition.   The legally blind athlete had previously won back-to-back Gold medals in 2004 and 2008 in the same event.  Show off.

Imagine getting shot in both your legs because two assholes mistook you for a gangbanger they wanted to kill.  That was the unfortunate situation American runner Bryshon Nellum found himself in in 2008.  Thankfully he survived but it wasn’t easy:  multiple surgeries, plenty of pain and a lot of doubt about a full recovery.  Despite not making the final of the mens’ 400 metre in London, he was part of the American relay team that won Silver in the 4 X 400 event.  As a lovely gesture for all his hard work, he carried the Stars & Stripes at the Closing Ceremonies.  As for the two morons who fucked up in more ways than one, they were each sentenced to 15-year prison terms.

Canada’s greatest male diver Alexander Despatie (a two-time Olympic Silver medallist) suffered a terrible head injury during a practice dive in Spain back in June which greatly interfered with his otherwise rigourous training regiment.  Despite that horrible setback, he made it all the way to the three-metre springboard finals (after qualifying in the prelims and semi-finals).  He may have finished 11th (he had an awful last dive), but the heart and determination it took to even make it that far was mighty impressive.  One can only imagine how much better he would’ve performed without the injury.

But that was nothing compared to Chris Mears.  The 19-year-old Brit suffered a ruptured spleen three years ago and was told by doctors he had a 5% chance of surviving the surgery needed to correct it.  He didn’t medal but by God, getting ninth in the three-metre springboard final was an accomplishment in its own right.

Which brings us to Kayla Harrison.  Olympians face enough adversity to first make it to the games and then to attempt to finish in the Top 3, but like Bryshon Nellum the American Judo fighter had to overcome personal trauma on top of everything else.  A longtime student of the sport since she was just a 6-year-old, when she was a young teenager her then-29-year-old-coach Daniel Doyle started taking advantage of her sexually.  It lasted three years until she told her future fiance who, in turn, told Harrison’s mom.  (Doyle was ultimately sentenced to a 10-year prison stint in 2007 and is forever banned from coaching in American Judo.)  Enter new coach Jimmy Pedro who re-built her confidence and turned her into the best current American fighter in the sport.  (She’s ranked fourth in the world.)  At the London games, she made history.  She became the first US citizen to win Gold in Judo.  The word “hero” is used far too flippantly in modern times, especially in the world of athletics, but in Kayla Harrison’s situation, outspoken advocate against sexual abuse and future firefighter, it’s more than deserved.

Canadian Athletes Most Deserving Of A Hug (four-way tie)

The totally distraught womens’ soccer team after losing to the United States in that heartbreaking semi-final.  A tearful Paula Findlay who needlessly apologized for finishing last in the triathlon.  (She had a tough year training because of a hip injury.)  The absolutely devastated Tiffany Foster who cried through her press conference announcing her disqualification from her equestrian show jumping team because her horse had a minor issue with its left hoof.  (The remaining members finished 5th in the team event.) And the mens’ 4 X 100 relay team who thought they won the Bronze in the final but because of a lane violation detected by the judges upon viewing the replay (poor Jared Connaughton had accidentally touched the line of an adjacent lane which is an infraction), they were ultimately disqualified.  (To his credit, Connaughton accepted blame for the unintentional mistake.)  Trinidad & Tobago took their place on the podium.

Three Bolts Of Lightning & Plenty Of Hilarity In Between

Jamaican sprinting phenom Usain Bolt.  In between winning three Gold medals and setting two world records on the track, he was Mr. Entertainment.  He did push-ups, did a front somersault, fist bumped with two delighted Olympic volunteers, gave his toque to another, wore his country’s flag like a cape while posing, waved like the Queen, shook and slapped hands with many first row spectators as well as hugging some others, demanded a try-out with the Manchester United football club and, most amusingly of all, grabbed a media photographer’s camera to do an impromptu session with multi-medallist teammate Yohan Blake who gamely posed for several seconds.

Best Original Pose

Blake’s very funny cheetah pose.  No wonder they call him “The Beast”.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, August 13, 2012
12:21 a.m.

Published in: on August 13, 2012 at 12:21 am  Comments (1)  

Unofficial 2012 Summer Olympic Awards (Part Two)

Most Intense Coach

Who is that crazy man who slapped the holy hell out of Cuban weightlifter Ivan Cambar’s face before the snatch and clean & jerk competitions?  Whoever he is, he’s good at what he does.  Cambar ended up winning a Bronze medal for his country in the 77 kg weight class.

Best Celebration By An Olympic Medallist

German discus champion Robert Marting who, after ripping off his jersey like a maniac, tied his country’s flag around his neck like a cape and proceeded to do the 110 metre hurdles as officials were finishing setting up for that particular race.  He wasn’t fast but he cleared every one he jumped.

Best Way To Ruin That Same Celebration

While basking in his moment of glory with friends and family later on that night onboard a boat on the Thames River, Harting’s Olympic Village credentials went missing.  Without them, he was refused entrance into the building.  So he slept outside.  At 6 a.m.  It was all sorted out the next day.

Worst Journalistic Faux Pas

During a press conference with members of the Jamaican sprint team, a daft questioner accidentally referred to them as “the Jamaican drug team”.

The Jesse Ventura “Tell It Like It Is” Award for Best Colour Commentary

Hands down, Russ Anber.  The longtime boxing analyst offered plenty of entertaining comments about the often questionable officiating and occasionally dirty tactics of fighters in the most reliably controversial sport of the Olympics.  He also rightly praised talented fighters who legitimately won their matches (and in some cases, got screwed) and clearheaded referees (a rare breed) who did their jobs properly.

The Dolph Ziggler “It’s Not Showing Off If You Can Back It Up” Award

American freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs was so confident he would win a Gold medal at the 2012 Olympics he changed his Twitter account to “All I See Is Gold”.   In 2011.  After working his way to the final in the men’s 74-kg weight class, the 2011 World Champion posted this tweet which ended with this bold statement:  “My next tweet will be a picture of me holding that Gold medal!!!”

True to his word, after beating Iranian grappler Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi in two straight rounds on points, he tweeted this.

Best Name For A Female Olympian

Destiny Hooker who won Silver as part of the American female indoor volleyball team.

Best Name For A Male Olympian

Brent Newdick, a New Zealand decathlete.

The Danny Davis Award For Biased Officiating Against Canada (tie)

The Norweigian referee in the Canada/U.S womens’ soccer semifinal for the questionable free kick in the box (due to goalkeeper time wasting which usually results in a warning or a yellow card) and the even more debatable hand ball that led to the penalty kick which tied up the game.  (America won it with a pivotal header late in extra time.)  And the third man in the ring who screwed welterweight Custio Clayton out of a much deserved Bronze medal.

Olympic Sport In Dire Need Of Review

Boxing.

35 Years Later And They Still Scare America, But Not Canada

When The Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant started playing during the tribute to British music section of the Opening Ceremonies, NBC took the opportunity to take a commercial break.  When they came back, the song was pretty much over.  CTV, on the other hand, aired it in full.

Least Likely Venue To Hear A Marching Band’s Version Of A Turtles Song

During the Gold medal womens’ field hockey match between The Netherlands and Argentina, the familiar sounds of Happy Together could be heard in the stands reverberating throughout the Riverbank Arena.

Best Alternate Play-By-Play Commentary

If you weren’t happy with the Australian commentary team covering the field hockey competitions, not a problem.  During some games, another announcer could be faintly heard in the background doing a much better job calling the action.

Best Spontaneous Commentary

At the conclusion of an interview with CTV anchors James Duthie and Jennifer Hedger, Jamaican athletics play-by-play man Lance Whittaker (who excitedly called Usain Bolt’s races) was offered the opportunity to call Sydney Crosby’s game-winning goal in the hockey final of the Vancouver games.  His best line:  “The Americans are beaten!”.

Silliest Random On-Air Confession

Womens’ volleyball colour analyst Emily Cornier who admitted to having a childhood crush on Ernie from Sesame Street.

Most Incredibly Useless Fact

After the surprise reinstatement of Alex Bruce and Michelle Li, the previously eliminated badminton duo better known as Bruce/Li, overly excitable TSN anchor Michael Landsberg took to Twitter to post this important revelation:

“As Canada’s ‘Bruce/Li’ play 4 medal, we’ve uncovered a real movie called ‘Bruce Lee Played Badminton Too'”.

It’s a 15-minute comedy short that no one has seen.

Best Recovery After A False Start

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang jumped the gun in the mens 1500 metre final but was allowed to stay in the race because of an apparent misunderstanding.  When the race was re-started he ended up winning his second Gold medal of the London games in world record time.

Best Show Of Respect For A Silver Medallist

After winning a Gold Medal in the heavyweight Tae Kwon Do final by decision (it was 9-9 after three rounds and stayed that way after a sudden death fourth round), Olympic Champion Carlo Molfetta of Italy voluntarily untied Gabon native Anthony Obame’s chest protector and removed it for him.  By that point, both men had already raised each other’s hands and embraced numerous times.  Molfetta hugged Obame’s coach so warmly you thought he was his own cornerman.

Winner…By A Pair Of Blue Balls

Defending Olympic Gold medallist Carol Huynh won her Bronze medal 48 kg freestyle match in a most unusual fashion.  After two consecutive scoreless rounds against Senegal’s Isabelle Sambou, each wrestler (Huynh in the first, Sambou in the second) reached into a bag hoping to pull out a ball in a purple cylinder that matched the colour of their wrestling attire (Huynh wore blue, Sambou wore red).  Whoever’s colour ball was drawn would receive an advantage to score a point (the opposition would offer up a free leg) within 30 seconds and win the round.  Both wrestlers each pulled out a blue ball, Huynh’s colour, and she quickly executed takedowns to secure the victory.

Best Involuntary Reaction To Winning A Bronze Medal

American rower Henrik Rummel looked more than a little excited to win third place in the, ahem, coxless 4-man rowing final. 

Best Tribute To Janet Jackson (tie)

During a water polo match between the United States and Spain, American Kami Craig pulled down the top of an opposing player’s one-piece swimsuit, as revealed in an instant replay aired during NBC’s live coverage.  Meanwhile, Spanish diver Jenifer Benitez accidentally revealed, in a split second, her right nipple while briefly adjusting her own one-piece suit in a hot tub after a terrible dive in the womens’ three-metre springboard competition.

What Harry Potter Will Look Like In 40 Years

NBC broadcaster Bob Costas in his new, oddly familiar-looking glasses.

Best Usain Bolt Impression (tie)

Italian heavyweight Tae Kwon Do champion Carlo Malfotta after winning his semi-final fight against Mali’s Daba Modibo Keita and the mens’ French handball team, who won Gold, at their victory ceremony.

Most Heartbreaking Canadian Losses

The womens’ soccer team going down 4-3 to the United States late in the second half of extra time of their semi-final thriller.  The mens 4 X 100 relay team who finished third in the finals and celebrated for several minutes before a replay revealed they had been disqualified during the last baton exchange for a lane violation.  And tennis player Milos Raonic who forced a third and deciding set in his second round match against Frenchman Jo Wilifred Zonga only to go down 25-23 in what became the longest tennis match in the history of the Olympics.

Biggest Missed Opportunities

Once again, a lack of a tribute to the 11 murdered Israeli athletes of the 1972 Munich games, NBC’s insistence on saving exciting morning and afternoon live events for taped primetime replays and a rebuffed offer by retired Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, an 18-time Olympic medallist, to personally present American swimmer Michael Phelps’ record-breaking 19th all-time medal (he ended up with 22) because it was against IOC rules. 

Borat Would Be Proud

Kazakhstan won 13 medals, seven of which were Gold.

Best Fashion Accessory

Those blue bowler hats with light bulbs sticking out the top that security volunteers wore during the Closing Ceremonies.

Classiest Tweet

Canadian trampoline Gold medallist Rosie MacLennan to Bronze medallist Christine Sinclair:

“Congrats @sincy12 for being selected as flag bearer! She lead the women’s soccer team to making history- what an athlete!!”

Didn’t We See Him In The Thriller Video?

Ugandan marathoner (and Michael Jackson-as-zombie look-a-like) Stephen Kiprotich who won the Gold medal in the mens’ race, the only achievement for his country this year.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 12, 2012
10:07 p.m.

Published in: on August 12, 2012 at 10:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Unofficial 2012 Summer Olympic Awards (Part One)

Most Unlikely Pairing

Daniel Craig as James Bond picking up the real Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace for a trip via helicopter to the Opening Ceremonies.  Too bad they weren’t actually parachuting into Olympic Stadium, though.  (Those were stunt doubles, of course.)  That would’ve been truly bad ass.

His Agent Deserves A Raise

Film composer Vangelis whose famous Oscar-winning theme for Chariots Of Fire was not only used in a bit involving Mr. Bean at the Opening Ceremonies it’s also been heard at every medal ceremony. 

Ballsiest Olympic Volunteer

Madhura Nagendra, an Indian-born woman who resides in London, caught up in the spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies, who suddenly decided to walk with India’s National Olympic Team (she was walking with the flag bearer) during the Parade of Nations much to their bafflement and annoyance.  (An official letter of complaint was sent to the IOC.)  She eventually apologized for the harmless stunt.

This Song Is Older Than Most Of The Olympians

The Beatles’ Hey Jude, performed by its composer Paul McCartney at the end of the Opening Ceremonies, is 44 years old.  McCartney also led an impromptu sing-a-long of the chorus later on at the conclusion of the indoor women’s cycling sprints competition. 

Most Deserving Of An Apology

American soccer legend turned colour commentator Brandi Chastain.  Concerned they were in trouble she correctly pointed out her country’s defensive vulnerabilities early on in the women’s tournament which publicly irritated goalkeeper Hope Solo who wrote several cranky, disrespectful tweets on her official Twitter account in retaliation.  (The breakout star of the 1999 Womens’ World Cup stood by her remarksSo did Solo who, nonetheless, was called into a team meeting but didn’t face any punishment.  Interestingly, she never complained again.)  Judging by the four goals conceded by the Gold medallists in their final two games, Chastain was proven correct.  Don’t expect Solo to say so, although, truthfully, she kinda already did.

Most Idiotic Fan

Just before the historic mens’ 100 metre final at Olympic Stadium, 34-year-old Ashley Gill-Webb, a British spectator, threw an empty bottle onto the track which thankfully landed well behind the starting blocks, completely missing all of the competitors.  (American Bronze medallist Justin Gatlin was the only runner who later admitted to being slightly distracted by the dickish gesture.)  Gil-Webb not only faced the humiliation of being arrested, he was also karate chopped by Dutch Judo competitor Edith Bosch (CTV Prime Time anchor Brian Williams sang her praises for it) who ended up missing the race live because of this nonsense.  As for the now infamous bottle thrower, his needless trial commences in early September.  It would be surprising if he does any jail time.  Public embarrassment is punishment enough.

Best Hulk Hogan Impression (tie)

Jamaican sprinting phenomenon Usain Bolt’s hilarious posing after winning both the mens’ 100 metre and 200 metre finals and German discus behemoth Robert Harting who, upon winning a Gold medal of his own, proceeded to excitedly rip off his jersey in front of a throng of photographers and camera men.  Your move, brother!

Spoken Like A True Jabroni

After barely squeaking out a 4-3 victory against Canada in the highly acclaimed semi-final women’s soccer match, American goalkeeper Hope Solo couldn’t be bothered to compliment the opposition for their efforts.  Regarding Canadian striker Christine Sinclair’s astounding hat trick in that battle, Solo could only offer this:  “We made her look good.”.  So does that mean that America is Heath Slater and Canada is Randy Orton?  Good to know.

Best Backpedal

Facing an avalanche of criticism for that remark, Solo offered a far more gracious tweet shortly thereafter.  That’s more like it.

Best Performance By An Asshole

She may have been a classless jerk to Chastain and initially showed no respect to the Canadians, but if Solo hadn’t made those two spectacular saves in the Gold Medal match against Japan, America would not be the Olympic Champions.  There’s a very good reason she’s the most respected goalkeeper in the women’s game.

Ding Would Be Proud

Chinese trampoline gymnast Dong Dong, the Bronze medallist in the mens’ competition in his home country four years ago, took home the Gold this year.

Scariest Camera Shot

The one overlooking the 10 metre platform used in the individual diving competitions.

Second Scariest Camera Shot

NBC’s intense close-ups of some of the female divers’ faces while they’re in handstands on that same platform.

Dorkiest Head Gear

Those silly caps worn by all the water polo players.  Guess they’re swimming in an Amish Paradise.

Did They Watch “The Experts” On CTV?

Tennis legend John McEnroe and two-time Winter Olympic Gold Medallist Shaun White learning how to fence on NBC.

Most Surprising Scandal

Four duos were disqualified for rigging group matches to get more favourable positions in the womens’ badminton competition.  Who could’ve ever predicted such a shocking development?

Funniest Jay Onrait Moment

The eternally goofy TSN SportsCentre anchor hilariously hyped up the Bronze Medal womens’ soccer match between France and Canada by screaming at the audience on more than one occasion to just “Watch it!  WATCH IT!”, a bit he’s done before for other sporting events.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, August 10, 2012
1:28 a.m.

Published in: on August 10, 2012 at 1:28 am  Comments (3)  

Natalie Portman: Another Hot Girl I Won’t Be Getting

Oh, Natalie Portman.  You tantalizing shiksa, you.  You’re one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood.  It simply doesn’t matter whether your hair is long, short or temporarily shaved off, you always look elegant to me.  Let’s face it.  Pregnant or not, you’re completely incapable of taking a bad photo.

But alas, you’re off the market.  People Magazine is reporting that you’ve married some French guy who you met on the set of Black Swan a couple of years ago.  Apparently he was the choreographer for the movie.  (Big deal.  I was Mo The Hawk.  Deal with that, Millepied!)  And yeah, you won a Best Actress Oscar for playing the lead.   So, one good thing came out of that experience.

And now my heart is broken.  Whatever will I do?

I’ll tell you what I won’t be doing.  I won’t be enjoying the pleasure of your company as you recall your experiences at Harvard.  (Oh, to wonder about your stint as a research assistant for the controversial attorney/author Alan Dershowitz.)  I’ll never know what it was really like for you to be a famous movie star trying to blend in with the student body as you went on to graduate with a degree in psychology.  (By the way, if you were hoping to take over for Dr. Phil in the near future, be my guest.  He’s useless.  Besides, you’re much smarter and look way better bald.)  From the little I’ve read of your time there, it sounds like it was a mostly positive experience.

I’ll never learn firsthand about your early life in Israel and how you ended up in various parts of the United States.  It must’ve been a pain to make friends in one city only to have to move somewhere else because of your dad’s job.  (How long has he been a fertility specialist, by the way?)  I’m under the impression, however, that you’ve never had a problem forging new platonic relationships while maintaining the old.  It’s a nice quality to have.

Speaking of nice, it’s pretty cool that our birthdays are a day apart.  I was born June 8 and you came into the world on the 9th.  Granted, you’re six years younger than me but still, that’s nifty.

I’ll also never get the chance to learn intimate details about all your film experiences.  It must’ve been daunting to work with Gary Oldman, Jack Nicholson, Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman and Rosie O’Donnell on various projects all before your 20th birthday.  But it must’ve been a lot of fun, too.  (Were you disappointed you didn’t get to do William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet?  How could you have been too young for the part when Miss Capulet is a young teenager?)

I understand you have a keen fascination for languages.  (Are you fluent in more than two?)  How sad that I’ll never have the privilege of hearing you talk dirty to me in Hebrew.

How cool that you learned how to dance as a wee lass.  What was that like?  Did you take tap like I did many moons ago?  If so, I wonder which of us would do a superior cramp walk.  Alas, I’ll never know.

We would’ve talked about any subject you desired, be it politics (we’d probably argue a lot about the Democrats and Israel), entertainment (why the huge jones for the late Patrick Swayze?) or anything else worth dissecting and pontificating (example:  is there really a difference between being a vegan and a vegetarian?), or simply drop that whole idea and make sweet love to each other for hours on end.  Either works for me.

But much to my terminal chagrin, you’ve chosen another and have already made a baby together. 

It’s just as well.  I wouldn’t pass your parents’ vetting.  Natalie Portman, you’re another hot girl I won’t be getting.

(Congratulations on being a mom and the new marriage.  Many happy returns, young lady.)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
2:49 a.m.

Published in: on August 8, 2012 at 2:49 am  Comments (1)