Rob Ford’s Secret iPod Playlist

Of all the startling revelations that came out this past week regarding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, there was one that didn’t get a lot of attention:  for years, he maintained a secret playlist on his iPod.  Now, for the first time ever, here is the track listing:

1. Pussy (Lady)

2. Pussy Walk (Iggy Pop)

3. Pussy Power (Iggy Pop)

4. Can Your Pussy Do The Dog? (The Cramps)

5. What’s New, Pussycat? (Tom Jones)

6. Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent)

7. I’m Goin’ Down (Bruce Springsteen)

8. Lick It Up (Kiss)

9. Eat It (Weird Al Yankovic)

10. Moist Vagina (Nirvana)

11. Eat To The Beat (Blondie)

12. Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke)

13. Sex Type Thing (Stone Temple Pilots)

14. Touch Me I’m Sick (Mudhoney)

15. Tongue (R.E.M.)

16. Fingerbang (South Park)

17. Pretty In Pink (Psychedelic Furs)

18. Brother Down (Sam Roberts)

19. Tear In My Beer (Hank Williams Sr.)

20. Crying (Roy Orbison)

21. Fuck Or Kill (Peaches)

22. I Feel Cream (Peaches)

23. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (The Hollies)

24. Captain Jack (Billy Joel)

25. Chester The Molester (Sloan)

26. Don’t You Want Me? (The Human League)

27. Misogyny (Rusty)

28. Stick It Out (Rush)

29. This Old Man’s Too Drunk To Drive (Junkhouse)

30. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (Ultravox)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, November 17, 2013
12:06 a.m.

Published in: on November 17, 2013 at 12:06 am  Comments (1)  

Why I Stopped Watching Monday Night Raw (Part Two)

5. John Cena and Randy Orton are once again World Champions.

The big reason I decided not to watch the October 28th edition of Raw was because of what happened during the two world title matches at the previous night’s Hell In A Cell event (unseen by me).  John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship and Randy Orton, with a little help from Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels, snatched the vacant WWE title away from Daniel Bryan.

Um, guys?  It’s 2013, not 2008.  So, why are you going back to the “tried and true” instead of the daring and new?  Between the pair of them, Orton and Cena have collectively won 25 world titles.  Why are they getting additional title runs when they don’t need them?  Granted, I much prefer The Viper as a villain and have thoroughly enjoyed Cena’s matches with CM Punk over the years but it’s time to put other talents in these positions.  Cena & Orton are the past, not the future.

6. The screwing over of Daniel Bryan.

What was one of the big reasons WCW ultimately went bust?  Oh yeah.  They had great talent and didn’t know what to do with them.  Steve Austin, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero all found much greater success in the WWE after disappointingly spotty runs in Eric Bischoff’s former company.

But even Vince McMahon and his minions can fuck up a good thing.  Consider Daniel Bryan.

After his surprisingly enjoyable tag title run with Kane concluded in the spring, the former American Dragon suddenly exploded into the main event picture all on his own.  The “Yes!” chant he introduced in late 2011 during his heel run, which, after catching on at WrestleMania 28, then led to his counter-chant of “No!” in 2012 (during his anger management phase), evolved into a rallying call for the heroic underdog he was quickly becoming in the summer of 2013.

Looking nothing like the usual superstar with his average size, unkempt hair and increasingly absurd beard, he was nonetheless the hottest babyface in the company.  So, naturally, for the first time in more than a year, he got a WWE Championship opportunity on pay-per-view.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  He beat John Cena.  But just moments after his stunning victory, Special Guest Referee Triple H pedigreed him and Money In The Bank briefcase winner Randy Orton, who had run down the aisle just before this happened, immediately cashed in and pinned him.  That set up a championship match with The Viper for Night Of Champions where once again Bryan won the title.

But because the referee counted a little too quickly, The Yes Man was stripped of his title the very next night on Raw by H.  That let to a rematch at Battleground which ended in a no-decision thanks to a rampaging Big Show knocking out everybody in sight.  Finally, at the recent Hell In A Cell show, despite the presence of his real-life trainer Shawn Michaels in the role of Special Guest Referee, Bryan got screwed again, thanks to a HBK superkick.  Orton regained the title.

So, after all of that, what do the geniuses in the WWE decide to do next?  How about pairing him up with old pal CM Punk for a mid-card feud with The Wyatt Family.  Listen, I like the Wyatt Family, Bray in particular.  He’s a hell of a talker and there’s great potential with his Max Cady-esque cult leader character.  But Bryan should be the WWE Champion right now.  And he should be having the kind of title run Punk had not that long ago.

Instead, he’s been demoted and who knows if he’ll ever get another main event shot any time soon.  The WWE will ultimately regret this bad booking decision in the long term.  Cena can’t be the face of the company forever.

7. The boring Divas division.

Not that long ago, we had Kharma, Beth Phoenix, Trish Stratus and Lita.  Even further back, there were The Jumping Bomb Angels and Wendi Richter.  Now we have Oksana and The Bella Twins.  Womens wrestling is deadly dull these days.  Only the awesome AJ Lee has been able to consistently stand out during this unusually dark period.

Some will argue that the reality show, Total Divas, has helped raise the profile of the sagging division.  True, but has it led to a series of great rivalries and matches on a consistent basis?

The sad thing is there are actually some strong talents on the roster.  Besides the current Divas Champion, I also like The Funkadactyls (they remind me of the Bomb Angels), Alicia Fox (remarkable flexibility), Natalya (hell of a worker), Kaitlyn (when she was actually on TV) and Tamina Snuka (love the Superfly splash she inherited from her father).  But they’re not given anything remotely interesting to do besides doing decent bumps here and there in nothing matches.  Or they’re matched up with mid-card male wrestlers who aren’t going anywhere.

Imagine this scenario:  what if the WWE suddenly decided to drop the Divas altogether, would there be much of an outcry?  Would anyone really miss them?  If it happened right now, I suspect the answer is no on both counts.

And that’s really not fair, is it?

8. Same old match-ups.

What are the two big attractions for the upcoming Survivor Series pay-per-view next week?  Let’s see.  There’s World Heavyweight Champion John Cena defending his title against Alberto Del Rio.  And then there’s WWE Champion Randy Orton putting his belt on the line against The Big Show.

Wait.  Why are each of these pairings so familiar?  Oh, that’s right.  Big Show feuded with Orton back in the spring.  The Viper beat The World’s Largest Athlete at Extreme Rules.  (Orton was the ‘face and Show was the heel.)

Cena and Del Rio previously feuded over the WWE title two years ago.  After the Mexican Aristocrat cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase on a vulnerable CM Punk at the end of SummerSlam 2011, Cena took his title at Night Of Champions.  Then, all three were involved in a Hell In A Cell match where Del Rio regained the belt.  In a one-on-one rematch with Cena at Vengeance, where they had to work in and out of a collapsed ring thanks to Big Show superplexing Mark Henry in the previous WHC bout, Del Rio came out on top.

Last year, when the Cena/Punk feud was being revived, Del Rio and Cena had a Falls Count Anywhere match on Raw.  Thanks to Punk’s interference, Del Rio squeaked out a victory.  (That was the night Paul Heyman officially aligned himself with his now estranged protégé.)  And, of course, most recently, Del Rio dropped the WHC to Cena at the most recent Hell In A Cell pay-per-view in the latter’s first match since recovering from elbow surgery.

Let me be clear.  The revival of an old program can be very entertaining when booked correctly.  Just look at Punk/Cena and Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart.  But is anybody really excited about these two Survivor Series title matches?  To be fair, I haven’t been watching how they’ve been built up on TV but based on what I’ve read about them online, it looks like I’m not missing anything.

And it’s not just pay-per-views, it’s Raw itself.  How many times have we seen the same boring match-ups over and over and over again week after week after week?  Look, I get it.  The roster isn’t as deep as it once was.  And there’s no division of talent any more.  Up until about a year or so ago, Smackdown superstars were rarely if ever seen on Raw.  Now they’re on there all the time.  Why?  Because it’s a Supershow!  Even Raw wrestlers are popping up more and more on Smackdown.  There hasn’t been a draft since 2011.

The WWE is very fortunate to have so many superb athletes working for them.  Quite a few are also strong personalities who can easily handle not having their promos scripted right down to the very last word.  But they’re selling them all short by making the same match-ups over and over again with next to no emphasis on doing something creative and different.

Maybe they’re just going through a bad period right now, I don’t know.  But the lack of imaginative bookings is turning me off.

9. SportsNet360’s annoying technical difficulties.

Back when it was still The Score, Raw used to be aired on a delay here in Canada.  Then, thanks to a vocal, public campaign by Aftermath contributer Nug earlier this year, it finally started airing the show at the same time as the USA Network.  I don’t remember exactly when I first noticed technical glitches during these broadcasts, but the last two weeks I watched the show on the now-named SportsNet360, it was painfully clear that the video was out of sync with the audio.

No one at the station seemed to notice and therefore, the problem wasn’t fixed.  (I have no idea if it continues to be an issue today.)  Even before these recent problems, I’d notice the audio briefly cutting out several times during a broadcast.  Incredibly annoying.  This went on for many months before somebody finally paid attention.  Now, there’s the sync irritation.

It’s really hard to get into a three-hour show when you’re distracted by these “technical difficulties”.  It’s even harder when there’s little to enjoy in the first place.

Either way, unless things improve, I’ll be sticking with WWE’s DVD releases for the foreseeable future.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, November 16, 2013
7:45 p.m.

CORRECTION:  Daniel Bryan briefly regained the WWE Championship from Randy Orton at Night Of Champions, not SummerSlam as originally asserted.  I apologize for the error and for not noticing it a lot sooner.  The text has been corrected.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 12, 2018
1:55 a.m.

Published in: on November 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Why I Stopped Watching Monday Night Raw (Part One)

A few weeks ago, I made a decision:  no more Monday Night Raw for me.

Only a few years ago, it was just something to watch while I ate my supper.  Then, over time, it became appointment Television.  I had to watch it the second it came on rather than join it in progress.

Now, at least for the time being, I see no reason to watch it at all.  Here are 9 reasons why:

1. It’s too long.

When it debuted in 1993, it was just an hour.  Then, as the decade progressed, it became a two-hour broadcast.  Since the airing of the 1000th episode on July 23, 2012, it’s been expanded to three hours.  In the past, three-hour shows were strictly for special episodes which was perfectly fine.  But having this much time to fill on a permanent basis?  Despite some occasionally strong episodes in the last year and a half, the WWE is having a difficult time justifying the need for these epic weekly broadcasts any more.

True, there have been some very good long matches since the third hour was added.  Think CM Punk vs. John Cena back in February this year to determine The Rock’s opponent at WrestleMania 29 or Punk vs. Ryback in a ladder match for the WWE title during the first 2013 show in January.  Unfortunately, great long matches have been pretty rare in the three-hour era.  In fact, great matches period are increasingly uncommon.  For the most part, short, forgettable encounters in the ring are the norm.

Talking segments can be electric and exhilarating when they involve top performers in a great story.  But when they don’t?  The show drags on considerably.  Lately, practically every match and promo has felt that way.

Those who know their pro wrestling history remember that WCW’s two-hour Monday Nitro program also expanded to three in January 1998.  They also know that they went right back to two hours two years later.  The show was cancelled in 2001.

Obviously, Raw isn’t going off the air any time soon.  (Ratings are fine and no other wrestling shows air Mondays at 8 p.m.)  But how long can it pretend that its endlessly dull three-hour shows are worth slogging through?

2. The awful, overcrowded announce team.

I’m old-school when it comes to wrestling announcers.  I want a play-by-play person calling the holds during a match and I want a colour guy to make interesting comments to enhance the story being told in the ring.  What I don’t want is endless bickering, pimping of products and shows I’m not interested in, or any discussions unrelated to what I’m watching.  And I also don’t want more than two broadcasters at the table.

Since the Attitude Era, either Jim Ross or Michael Cole has handled the action between the ropes and Jerry Lawler has supplied colour commentary.  But ever since The King’s scarily real heart attack last year, we’re back to three announcers for the first time since Vince McMahon still pretended he wasn’t the owner of the WWE.

In the beginning, it was surprisingly great.  Ross temporarily came back along with John Bradshaw Layfield to sit with Cole while Lawler recovered.  For a couple of weeks, the trio were very entertaining.  But some time after The King returned (Ross went back to NXT before being fired recently), what once greatly annoyed me about JBL during his first stint on Smackdown (of which I’ve thankfully only suffered through in bits and pieces on DVD) irritated me all over again.

Layfield is obviously trying to be Jesse Ventura in the heel colour man role which means arguing constantly with his babyface colleagues to the point where it’s distracting.  These verbal disputes frequently take place while a match is going on which means no holds are being called and no analysis is given.  As a result, the poor wrestlers in the ring (particularly the women) are not considered important enough to push.  They can’t possibly be pleased that their efforts are almost completely ignored.

Usually, the only time Cole in particular pays any attention to what’s going on is when someone makes a pin attempt or goes for a submission.  Then, after the inevitable kick-out or escape, it’s back to the bickering.

Also annoying is the constant promotion of shit I don’t care about.  I don’t own a cell phone and therefore will never care about the WWE App.  I don’t buy WWE Magazine so I don’t care about the articles Cole brings up.  And any mention of the Total Divas reality show is met with indifference.  I’ve yet to sit through an entire episode.

It’s bad enough having an announcing trio.  But what about those times when they have additional guests sit at the table during specific matches?  You can forget about the calling of holds because it’s interview time!  Considering this is a three-hour broadcast, couldn’t that same interview take place, oh I don’t know, after the match, or possibly before?  The current approach is rarely successful.

When he’s allowed to, Michael Cole is a good play-by-play guy (check out his fine call of the Brock Lesnar/Kurt Angle WWE title match from WrestleMania 19) and JBL & Lawler have had their funny and insightful moments over the years, as well.  When a match is cooking, which doesn’t happen very often, they thankfully drop all other discussions to sell like crazy for the audience.

But after a year of this, I can’t take it anymore.  Go back to the two-man booth (maybe even start thinking of replacement announcers) and focus more on the action.

3. Champions constantly losing non-title matches.

Right now, the WWE has six titles:  the WWE Championship, The World Heavyweight Championship, The tag belts, The United States Championship, The InterContinental Championship and the Divas title.  When a holder of any of these titles works a non-title bout on Raw, you would think they almost always win.  You know, because they’re the champions.

But anyone who watches Raw on a regular basis, like I did up until a few weeks ago, knows the opposite is true, for the most part.  (How many times did we see then-US champ Antonio Cesaro lose when his title wasn’t on the line?)  Even Money In The Bank briefcase winners job more than they win before they cash in.  Just look at all the losses Damien Sandow, Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan piled up.

It’s one thing if the non-title loss sets up a title match on another TV show or pay-per-view, even if the champion retains.  It’s quite another if that doesn’t happen at all.  Yes, when a championship is at stake, naturally the title holder will get his win back during most encounters.  But how we can take them seriously if they don’t win non-title matches?

Which leads to my next complaint.

4. The lack of title matches.

I became a wrestling fan during Hulk Hogan’s first WWF title run in the mid-80s.  Back then, he rarely appeared on the weekend TV shows.  And when he did, he rarely defended his belt.  You had to wait for the monthly Saturday Night’s Main Event broadcasts to see him take down the top heels of that era in championship matches.

Today, the WWE airs its shows in prime time during the week, not on Saturday afternoons.  And quite some time ago, with some exceptions, they dropped the idea of doing old-school squash matches altogether.  (Where are you now, AJ Petruzzi?)  There have been numerous title matches on Raw over the years, some of which had significance like Mick Foley’s first WWF Championship push in 1999.  But now, when you want to see the current champions in action, their belts are almost never at stake.

Even when there are title matches, the lack of importance and excitement attributed to them is solidified by the announce team’s focus on other things like something that happened earlier in the show or something that is completely unrelated to the story being told in the ring.  And don’t get me started on those non-title champion vs. champion encounters.

Yes, it was great seeing The Rhodes Brothers beat The Shield for the tag belts last month (even if it was only the second half of that match that was at all interesting).  And yes, Damien Sandow and John Cena won raves for their WHC battle a couple of weeks ago (I didn’t see it) even though Sandow, who cashed in his MITB suitcase to seize this opportunity, ultimately came up short and has been in creative limbo since then.

But for the most part, title matches on Raw are next to non-existent.  Count me out.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, November 16, 2013
7:17 p.m.

Published in: on November 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm  Comments (2)  

Why The Ford Brothers Won’t Save The Sun News Network

For nearly three years now, The Sun News Network has been searching for an audience that doesn’t exist.  Despite launching with much fanfare in April 2011 (during an election year, no less), its ratings are routinely in the thousands range.  It doesn’t help matters that it can only be seen in less than half of Canadian homes.  It also doesn’t help matters that it generates little to no respect from critics.  But there might be hope coming next week.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his Councilman brother, Doug, will be co-hosting a new show called Ford Nation which begins this coming Monday at 8 p.m.  On paper, it sounds like a winner.  Both men are notoriously outspoken hotheads who have attracted not only intense media attention in The Big Smoke lately but even more scrutiny internationally.  Let’s face it, they’re hot properties right now.  Everybody is talking about them.

But here’s the thing.  Sun News is not carried on every cable provider in Canada.  Furthermore, it’s relegated to the digital wilderness, a lonely broadcasting netherworld where unloved specialty channels are routinely ignored by already gouged subscribers.  Thanks to the CRTC denying them mandatory carriage status, in order to get the channel you have to specifically order it.

How many people not entirely fed up with these two are willing to fork over whatever price they have to pay to see them rant dishonestly on a weekly basis on a channel they otherwise wouldn’t watch?  I’m willing to bet it’s a very small number.

I’m also willing to bet that Sun News will ultimately regret ever hiring them in the first place.  Why?  Consider Rob Ford himself.  For the past six months he’s been the laughingstock of the entire world thanks to his chronic bumbling in the aftermath of his crack video scandal amid further allegations of maniacal behaviour.  Somehow, he’s been able to hang on to his job despite repeated calls for him to take a hint and go away already.  Even being recently stripped of some of his mayoral powers (with more to come) still hasn’t awakened him to his uncomfortable new reality.

On Thursday, while attempting to refute the latest set of accusations against him, regarding one in particular, he basically said there’s no way he told a female co-worker he wanted to “eat her pussy” when “I’m happily married and I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.”  It should be noted that this was said live on morning Television.  Uncensored.

Is this the kind of “straight talk” the Sun News folks are hoping for?  Or maybe they prefer his “drunken stupor” stories.  Or the dramatic pauses he sometimes takes to answer simple “yes” or “no” questions.  Hey, I know!  Maybe they’ll ask one of his staffers to repeatedly call in pretending to be a supporter.  Or maybe they would rather he forgo the talking altogether and have him walk through a claustrophobic press line in the most agitated state possible.  Maybe bring the wife along.  She loves that shit!  Unfortunately for Sun News, almost all of his most newsworthy moments take place in environments beyond his control.  Has he ever acted this crazy while broadcasting his own show?

Up until recently, the Fords already had a media platform on Toronto radio station CFRB.  But thanks to the Mayor’s ongoing antics, the show, which aired for almost 2 years, has been scrapped.  Bizarrely, Sun News appears to be the only company willing to be associated with him right now (despite The Toronto Sun Editorial Board publicly calling for his resignation.)  For a floundering channel so desperate for credibility in the TV world of Canadian news, is this really the best move for them?

Look, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe Ford Nation will be a huge success and a major turning point for the poor man’s Fox News.  However, since the mayor does his best work saying consistently outrageous things impulsively in press scrums and council meetings, why would anyone watch him act normal and controlled on a TV show that’s hard to find?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, November 16, 2013
2:29 a.m.

UPDATE & CORRECTION:  Ford Nation won’t be seen on a nightly basis as erroneously noted, it will be seen on a weekly basis.  The correction has been made to the original text.  My apologies for the mistake.

Meanwhile, according to this Huffington Post Canada article, if Rob Ford is indeed serious about running for reelection next year, as absurd as that sounds, he won’t be able to keep his Sun News gig.  Once he officially declares his candidacy for mayor on January 2, he’ll be yanked off the air.  Will this maddening circus ever leave town?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, November 17, 2013
2:30 p.m.

UPDATE 2:  Despite 155,000 viewers tuning in for the debut broadcast, Sun News has already cancelled the show.  I’m willing to bet that if it had returned for a second airing, the ratings would’ve plummeted.  But thankfully, we’ll never know.  Meanwhile, Canadian Press TV Critic Bill Brioux gives Ford Nation the review it probably deserves.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
10:10 p.m.

Published in: on November 16, 2013 at 2:29 am  Comments (2)  

American Wedding (2003)

In the first one, he loses his virginity to her.  In the second one, he falls in love with her.  And in this one, he marries her.

The moment the sweet but terminally clumsy Jim meets the sweet, sexually confident Michelle in American Pie, he finds his future without even realizing it.  In American Pie 2, he finally acknowledges his good fortune.  And in American Wedding, he hopes for a perfect ceremony and the start of a great life together.

Number two set a high standard for this raunchy series.  It was one of the funniest movies I screened in the last decade.  And although number three couldn’t possibly top its cheerful, gross-out silliness, I liked it as much as the first one.  I laughed so hard I gave myself a headache.

Like its predecessor, the movie opens strong with a sex gag.  Jim (the always affable Jason Biggs) is out to dinner with Michelle (the always lovely Alyson Hannigan), his girlfriend of three years.  Now college graduates, he’s eager for her to reach for that napkin which is covering up something very important.  If she accepts, he can finally move out of his parents’ house for good.

Unfortunately, this request takes place during a misunderstood conversation about spicing up their sex life which inspires Michelle to do something so impressively bold it can only happen in a movie like this.  In the middle of it, Jim gets a frantic call from his dad (the delightful Eugene Levy) who tells him that his surprise is about to be spoiled if he doesn’t get there in time.  To say anything else would ruin the many pay-offs of this terrific sequence.

What I will say is that a proposal is made and accepted in between two hilariously embarrassing discoveries.

And the laughs keep coming as preparations are made for Jim & Michelle’s wedding.  Most of them involve Stiffler (the brilliant Seann William Scott), the coarse, oversexed yet strangely endearing son of the alluring MILF (the awesome Jennifer Coolidge) the public-toilet-phobic Finch (Nicolas Cage sound-a-like Eddie Kaye Thomas) has been remarkably able to bed on more than one occasion.

Now an assistant football coach, Stiffler is stunned to learn that he’s not been invited to the ceremony after showing up unannounced at the engagement party.  (His confrontation with his old high school buddy leads to a very funny moment.)  Fortunately, Jim can’t dance and needs a teacher so he doesn’t look foolish pairing up with his bride during the reception.  It just so happens that the Stif-meister is light on his feet (blame the MILF for making him take all those lessons) and willing to help his reluctant friend.  He’s hoping his efforts will convince Jim to change his mind about that reneged invite.  This ultimately leads to a later scene in a club which features one of the funniest dance-offs in movie history.  The less I say about this, the more you’ll enjoy it.

In the meantime, Jim is not making a very good impression on his future in-laws (Deborah Rush and Fred Willard in fine form here).  The incident with Stiffler is mostly to blame.  So, he secretly invites the Flahertys (a sly SCTV tribute) to a private dinner only to discover that Stiffler, Finch, Kevin (the always supportive Thomas Ian Nicholas), a couple of cute strippers and an assless chaps-wearing gay guy are already there having an impromptu bachelor party.  (Long, funny story.)  Let’s just say Michelle’s mom is incredibly understanding about the blatantly bogus reasons given for their presence there.

A lot of the credit goes to the Stif-meister who hilariously channels Eddie Haskell to not only win over Jim’s fiancé’s parents and to score with Michelle’s beautiful, recently unattached sister, Cadence (the elegant January Jones from Mad Men), who also attracts Finch’s interest (he amusingly imitates Stiffler to win her affections with some degree of success), but also to be included on Jim and Michelle’s big day.  Despite his arrogance and lack of couth, he actually cares about them.

Meanwhile, the bride and groom both privately fret about the wedding.  He’s worried about everything not being perfect (and with good reason), she’s worried about not finding her dream dress and writing her vows.  Thanks to Finch’s secret surveillance, Jim learns that Michelle is looking for a specific type, elusive in the local bridal shops, but able to be made specifically by a designer in Chicago.  The lads tag along for support as they try to track the person down.  As for her vows, there’s a lovely, humourous scene where Michelle asks Jim’s dad for advice on what to say during her big moment.  It turns out to be quite helpful.

And therein lies the remarkable strength of this surprisingly heartwarming series.  In the midst of all this outrageous comic mayhem are genuinely likeable characters who care for each other so deeply, they are willing to do literally anything to preserve these relationships, even if it means sometimes humiliating themselves, intentionally and accidentally, in the process.

Consider Jim’s pursuit of Michelle’s dream dress in Chicago and the lengths he’ll go to please her parents; consider how his dad saves his ass in the opening scene and his loving support for his nervous future daughter-in-law; and especially consider everything Stiffler does for the happy couple, even if most of his actions are make-goods for serious screw-ups.

Seann William Scott’s performance here is so integral to making American Wedding work overall.  If he’s not funny, the movie isn’t funny.  Plus, he has to convince us that not only is he genuinely remorseful for his careless mistakes and willing to fix them, he also needs to make us believe that he can evolve a little bit without losing the core obnoxiousness of his character.  If Stiffler wasn’t already an iconic movie character before, he is now.  It’s a testament to Scott’s performance alone that even though it’s really weird that the absent Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Chris Owen (the Shermanator) and Tara Reid are never mentioned once (did these characters all have a falling out with Jim and Michelle?), they’re not really missed here.  That said, the rest of the cast also deserve credit for their funny performances, as well.

Yes, not every one-liner is funny (only a few actually miss, really, which is rare for a three-quel) and some suspension of disbelief is definitely required for some of the physical gags like Stiffler’s mishap with a wedding ring or Jim’s bad decision to do some manscaping (both are very funny despite being quite contrived).  Indeed, the angle involving Finch and Stiffler switching personalities to win over a woman is as old as time itself (still hilarious, though) as is the entire plot of the film, like the two previous entries in this series, for that matter.  And yeah, as much as I liked the soundtrack, I prefer James’ original version of Laid, thank you very much.  (However, the use of Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic during the wedding reception is an inspired choice.)

But imperfections and hilarious comedy aside, at the heart of this story is the very sweet romance of Jim and Michelle.  There’s a nice scene where she explains to him why it’s so important she finds that elusive dress.  She wants to be the most elegant woman in the room, a feeling she’s never experienced before as a quirky band geek.  And there’s another one while they dance at their reception.  After she refers to him as a “perv” and he calls her a “nympho”, both said with half-joking affection, they collectively agree that what they really have together is “perfectly natural”.

In that instant, you can feel them shed their fears and worries as they dance their way to a hopefully happy future together.  As American Wedding draws to a close, your own fears and worries that this film wouldn’t be funny and sweet completely disappear as well.  I can’t believe I waited ten years to finally see it.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, November 14, 2013
5:16 p.m.

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 5:16 pm  Comments (2)  

What Will Be The Last Straw For Rob Ford?

He’s been publicly intoxicated on numerous occasions.  He’s referred to members of the media as “pathological liars” and “maggots”.  He has an explosive temper.  He’s been accused of groping a woman’s ass.  He temporarily lost his job due to a conflict of interest scandal.  He freely associates with alleged drug dealers and violent thugs.  He’s been charged with drunk driving.  He attempted to score some Oxycontin for a constituent.  And he admitted to smoking crack cocaine.

If any other politician humiliated themselves only half this much, they would be finished.  But Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is not just any other politician.  A repeatedly elected member of City Council for more than a decade, he has survived more personal indignities than can be listed in a single paragraph.  (As Toronto Sun columnist Warren Kinsella helpfully pointed out on his blog, Jeromie Williams has a more thorough, sure-to-be-expanded summary of over 100 such past incidents here.)

And now, we can add yet another public embarrassment to the list.  Earlier this morning, The Toronto Star posted a cell phone video of an agitated Ford channelling Hulk Hogan as he verbally threatens to beat the hell out of some unnamed adversary.  Restless and constantly cursing, he’s so angry he actually uses the phrase “first-degree murder”.  Not cool, brother.

Just two days earlier, after finally acknowledging that he “tried” crack cocaine, Ford addressed a jam-packed media throng in his office.  Looking and sounding worn down from the increasingly bizarre scandal, he stubbornly refused to resign his position.  Astoundingly, he even declared that he would run for re-election next October.  He also noted, “Folks, I have nothing left to hide.”

Wrong again.

And to think, this isn’t even the video all of us have been talking about since May.  That video, the one where Ford smokes a crack pipe while saying asinine things about Justin Trudeau and black people, remains in the firm custody of the Toronto police department.  (Despite the Mayor’s recent, baffling, repeated requests for its release by law enforcement (he originally denied its existence), only a judge can order its public airing.  Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Ford…)  And it’s not the only one they have, either.

Furthermore, there are still many unanswered questions regarding his suspicious connection to alleged Somali-Canadian drug dealers, three of whom he was photographed with in front of a crack house in Etobicoke.  (One of them was later murdered.)  Honestly, why is a conservative anti-drug politician, who is adamantly against safe injection sites for addicts and strongly in favour of putting addicts reluctant to go to rehab in prison, hanging around such allegedly dangerous, shady characters getting high with them and allowing himself to be both photographed and recorded on video in their company?  Do Torontonians want to support such a blatant drug war hypocrite who refuses to even acknowledge that he just might be an addict himself?

Judging by the ever growing chorus of detractors who impatiently urge his exit from the local political scene, that would be a no.  Many in this city, this province, this country and all over the world are perplexed by his antics.  They cannot understand why he refuses to listen to reason.  They cannot understand why he won’t seek help for his health.  And they cannot understand how a man under intense legal scrutiny by the Toronto police department can still decide the financial terms of their budget.  (Then again, he’s no stranger to blatant conflicts of interest.)

Make no mistake about it.  Things are not going to get better for Rob Ford, they will get worse.  Much worse.  Based on the constant barrage of media coverage regarding all of the twists and turns in this never-ending scandal, the amateur and professional comedians who take absolute delight in mocking his foibles, the ordinary citizens who alternate between anger, embarrassment and laughter over all of this nonsense and the upcoming extortion case against his violent friend Alexander Lisi, his defiant fight for survival is looking more and more like a lost cause.  When even The Toronto Sun Editorial Board is urging you to give it up, you should probably give it up.

And that begs these uncomfortable questions:  how much is enough?  How many more awful revelations need to be aired before his stubbornness is replaced by inevitable resignation and acceptance?  What will it take for Rob Ford to reach his bottom?  What will be the last straw?

In a dire political situation where much of what is happening is now fully beyond his control, he still has two good choices left.

When will he make them?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, November 7, 2013
7:36 p.m.

UPDATE:  Almost half a year after this was posted, it has finally happened.  Ford is going to rehab.  After all of this time, why now?  Because of this, this and this.  You know you’ve reached bottom when Justin Bieber mocks you right to your face.

May this finally mean the end of the Ford Administration and hopefully, a year-long commitment to kicking all of his monstrously bad habits for good.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, May 1, 2014
12:54 a.m.

UPDATE 2:  Well, so much for going to rehab.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
8:10 p.m.

UPDATE 3:  Rob’s out of the race.  His brother Doug is taking his place.  But the outgoing Mayor, suffering from a potentially serious tumour, is now absurdly running for his old Council seat in Ward 2’s Etobicoke North riding.  A sheer sign of desperation.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, September 14, 2014
6:17 p.m.

Published in: on November 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm  Comments (4)