Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Christmas Nymph

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. And I couldn't be happier. I've hated Christmas most of my life. I thought it was great when I was a little kid--I mean what small child doesn't love being bombarded with gifts--but, once I got a bit older, I started to wonder about the whole thing.

I think the thing that bugs me most about Christmas is how a sombre Christian holiday has been transmogrified into an orgy of empty commercialism and pressure to spend, spend, spend. I'm also confused by some of the imagery associated with Christmas. Wisemen, mangers and camels I can understand. But Santa Claus? What does he have to do with the birth of the Christ child? And Christmas trees? Haven't those been co-opted from pagan winter rituals? Isn't having a living coniferous tree in your house something that might appeal more to Wiccans than Christians? Just asking....

Maybe part of the reason that I'm such a Grinch is that there really isn't a part of Christmas focused on adult guys. The kids have Santa Claus, the women have the decorating and baking and all that other crap. Adult men? We get nothing. I propose the introduction of the Christmas Nymph, a comely young woman who will do a seductive dance around the Christmas tree while kids open their gifts and women watch them do it. Imagine, if you a will, a hottie like this:

Whoa-HO-HO, talk about a Merry Christmas! Forget about my two-year old son, I'd be the first one downstairs Christmas morning if I knew she was waiting for me!

Gentlemen, let's all band together. The time for the Christmas Nymph has come!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lawyers Gone Bad....Yet Again

The most successful guy in my law school class never practiced law. Not one day. A math major and actuary prior to law school, he returned to finance as soon as we graduated. After several years creating sophisticated financial products for some of the largest insurance companies in the world, my classmate chucked it all to start a hedge fund based upon an algorithm that he had created that generated consistent gains through currency arbitrage trading. Over the course of ten years, all the trappings of extraordinary success--the monster house, a collection of classic cars, personal jet travel and eye-popping philanthropic giving--ensued.

And then my classmate was indicted for running what the U.S. Attorney called "a classic Ponzi scheme." According to the indictment, there had never been a trading algorithm. My classmate was simply taking money from people, generating fictitious trading records and using funds from later investors to pay "returns" to earlier investors.

My former colleague and friend, Philip Slayton, is the author of Lawyers Gone Bad--Money. Sex and Madness In Canada's Legal Profession. Here's Philip looking considerable more relaxed than when we practiced together back in the day:

Philip's book generated a lot of buzz in the Canadian media when it came out in the summer of 2007. Things really took off when Macleans did a cover story on Philip's book using the headline: "Lawyers Are Rats!"

Philip, if you ever want to do a second edition of your book, have I ever got a story for you!

Monday, December 1, 2008

US Thanksgiving Musings

Well, another U.S. Thanksgiving has come and gone. I've really grown to enjoy Thanksgiving and some of its traditions. I get a particular kick out of the Presidential turkey pardon. I'm not sure why I like it so much, but I think it's because there's always the possibility that the turkey will go berserk and embark upon an all out claw scratching, beak pecking assault on the leader of the Free World. Here's a photo of President Bush taken last Wednesday pardoning 2008's lucky gobbler:

No outrageous turkey behavior this year. But, there's always next year!

My parents came from B.C. to join the festivities this year. I was a little concerned about how my mother and my mother-in-law would get along. I joked with my wife and sister about getting a pair of those semi-circlular blade-tipped thingies that Kirk and Spock fought with in that classic episode of Star Trek. You know, the things in the following photo:

Nothing as dramatic as the fight between Kirk and Spock (which you can catch here broke out. Just a lot of wary eyeballing. Once again, there's always next year!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Presidential Dog Years

Not being a natural born United States citizen, I can't become President. I'm not sure that I care. Presidents seems to age in dog years--seven years of aging during each calendar year. Here's the official portrait of President Bush taken shortly after he was sworn in back in January 2001:

Here's a photo of him taken on Wednesday:

Sobering, isn't it? President-Elect Obama is already joking about the gray hair he's got from the nomination battle and the presidential election. Imagine what he's going to look like when he's done being President....

President-Elect Obama

Before posting on the historic election that took place this past Tuesday, I thought it prudent to wait a couple of days. Just to let things shake out a little. It's now Friday, so here we go.

In the interests of full disclosure, I voted for Barack Obama. It wasn't the easiest decision for me, though. My policy views are much closer to those of John McCain. However, I just couldn't bring myself to vote for McCain. He just acted like a cranky, crazy, erratic old man during the campaign. And don't get me started on Sarah Palin.... I mean what the f*ck was John McCain thinking there? Seriously. John McCain acting like John McCain with Mitt Romney as his running mate? I'd have been behind that ticket 110%.

I'm very concerned about the level of expectations that everybody seems to have for President-Elect Obama. Wednesday was all about the significance of his race and how the aspirations and dreams of African Americans over the last several hundred years are about to be realized. Yesterday, there were all sorts of comparisons being made between John F. Kennedy and President-Elect Obama and references to the dawn of a "New Camelot."

This hype is driving me nuts. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!! Everyone just calm the f*ck down and and let the President-Elect go about the business of getting ready to assume the most difficult job on Earth!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jean Charest: The New Wilfrid Laurier?

I was just catching up on my Canadian news when I came across the following photo of Jean Charest:

"Wait a second," I thought to myself. "He looks like somebody familiar."

I thought for a moment and realized that he looks exactly like Sir Wilfrid Laurier on the old five dollar bill! It took a little searching but I managed to find an image of the old five dollar bill. Here it is:

Am I on to something, or what? While doing a little research on Sir Wilfrid Laurier, I came across the following portrait which really drives the similarity home:

Same bushy hair, same chin.... Could they be related?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanksgiving Musings

I hope all of you in Canada enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday. I found myself wondering why Canada and the United States celebrate Thanksgiving on different days. My initial thought was that the holiday started in the United States and that Canada "borrowed" it because it looked like such a good time. I mean who wouldn't want a day off to hang out with friends and family, eat your face off and watch football?

Turns out that I was wrong. Some form of Thanksgiving took place in what would become Florida and what would become Newfoundland in the late 1500s. Who knew? You can check out the history of Thanksgiving here:

For Canada:

For the United States:

Thanksgiving is a much bigger deal in the United States than it is in Canada. In fact, the sanctity of the holiday is on par with Christmas. When I practiced law in Toronto, getting called in on Thanksgiving was annoying but not all that rare. When I practiced law in New York, Thanksgiving Day itself was sacrosanct. Not even the dickheadiest of dickhead partners (and there was no shortage of those, let me assure you!) expected anybody to work. The rest of Thanksgiving Weekend was pretty much off limits as well. I'll leave it to the social scientists to explain this disparity. It's just something that Canadians should keep in mind when dealing with Americans.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"100% Cheese-Free"

I was at the Metrodome in Minneapolis last Sunday for the NFL match up between the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. Part way through the second quarter, my wife pointed out a fellow fan who was marching up the aisle one section over. He was a big bull of a man wearing purple camouflage pants, a purple tank top and a championship belt like those worn by professional wrestlers. The man sported a garish yellow moustache and similarly colored eyebrows. To cap it all off, he was wearing a Viking helmet with braids hanging from it.

"That guy's famous," my wife said. "My parents know him. He's from Winnipeg. I think he works for CP Rail. He stays at the same Marriott that my parents stay at. They see him all the time."

The burly Viking uber-fan walked up and down the aisle a few more times during the game, drawing attention everywhere he went.

When we got back to the Marriott, we ran into the guy in the lobby and rode up in the elevator with him. He was polite and well-mannered, betraying his fierce Viking get up.

When I got back home, I did a little research on the guy. In a matter of minutes, I discovered that the super fan is referred to as "100% Cheese-Free," that his real name is Syd Davy and that he's a locomotive engineer from Winnipeg. Here's a picture of Syd as "100% Cheese-Free":

A couple of years ago, USA Today had a feature on "100% Cheese-Free" that you can catch here

Now I wish I'd had my picture taken with the guy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sarah Palin: Practically From B.C. (Part II)

I just LOVE the SNL skit that constituted my last post. I first heard about it on Sunday morning and have watched it at least twenty-five times since. I've always been a huge fan of Tina Fey but her performance as Sarah Palin was outstanding, even by Tina Fey standards. Way, way too funny!

My favorite line is Tina Fey/Sarah Palin's comment that: "And I can see Russia from my house!" Out of curiosity, I searched for a map of Alaska to see exactly where Wasilla is. Here's the map:

Wasilla is just north of Anchorage and they're both a long way from Russia. What struck me, though, is how close Juneau is to B.C. Growing up, I always thought that Juneau was in the main part of Alaska, not the panhandle. The country that Sarah Palin can see from her Governor's residence isn't Russia, it's Canada!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sarah Palin: Practically From B.C. (Part I)

You Can "Count" On Wayne Gretzky

Have you seen the article in today's on-line version of The Globe & Mail discussing the role that Wayne Gretzky will play with the 2010 Olympic hockey team? If you haven't seen it, check it out here:

The story is pretty umremarkable. However, the photo of Gretzky accompanying the article kind of caught me off guard. Here it is:

That guy sure doesn't look like the Wayne Gretzky that I remember!

I found myself wondering who this older, pointier Gretzky reminded me of. All of a sudden, it came to me. Gretzky looks like this guy:

Wayne Gretzky and Count Chocula: Twins Separated At Birth!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Canadians In The NFL

The NFL regular season kicks off tonight when the SUPER BOWL CHAMPION NEW YORK GIANTS--let's just say that again, shall we--SUPER BOWL CHAMPION NEW YORK GIANTS take on the Washington Redskins. It's been a long wait and I'm ecstatic that the action is back!

Have you wondered how many Canadians will be playing for NFL teams at the start of the season? I wanted to find out and, in less than a minute of on-line research, I came across a fantastically helpful website: According to that website, fourteen Canadians have survived training camps. Twelve will be on active rosters and two will be on practice squads. You can check the article out here:

I was surprised by one of the names on the list of Canadians. Who knew that Shaun Suisham, the placekicker for the Washington Redskins, is from Canada? I sure didn't. Here's Shaun doing his thing:

Shaun is from a place called Wallaceburg, Ontario. Although I lived in Toronto for nine years, I've never heard of the place. A little more research revealed that the town is named after William Wallace, the Scottish rebel portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart (for more on Wallaceburg, check out,_Ontario). You gotta love a town named after that guy! Freeeeeeeeeeedommm!!!

Anyway, I hope Shaun Suisham has a great game tonight. In fact, I hope he kicks ten field goals, accounting for all of Washington's points provided that the Giants score at least thirty-one points, of course! Go Giants!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Stumpy" And "Hottie"--Olympic Thoughts

Wow, it's hard to believe that the Olympics have been over for almost a week now. I have to say, I enjoyed the NBC coverage a lot more than I thought I would. The network seemed to deliver on its promise about more live coverage and there seemed to me to be fewer athlete "background stories."

NBC's pre-Olympics hype was centered on Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin and Shawn Johnson so, of course, I felt compelled to follow their progress. I was particularly interested in Natalie Coughlin and Shawn Johnson because the NBC commercials made them look hot. Let's not kid ourselves here folks, sex sells-- even with respect to coverage of the Olympics.

Natalie Coughlin lived up to her aquatic mer-babe hype. Here she is after winning gold in the 100m backstroke:

She came across as demure (and sexy!) in all of her post-victory interviews. Apparently, she's getting married to another swimming type who is now a coach. Lucky, lucky, lucky guy!

I have to admit, I turned pretty quickly on Shawn Johnson. She's just weird looking. It's as if someone grafted a cute-girl head onto the stumpy body of a freakishly muscled little man. Not for me, thanks. Also, I felt like the ultimate perv when the announcers mentioned that Shawn Johnson is only sixteen! Shame on NBC for sexing up the coverage of somebody so young. Sheesh, keep the exploitation to the legal ones for goodness sake.... In that spirit, I felt perfectly within my rights to ogle Nastia Liukin. Nastia didn't just win the gold as the world's all around best female gymnast, she's also eighteen. Here's a picture of Shawn and Nastia:

See what I'm talking about? I propose that, going forward, Shawn and Nastia's nicknames be "Stumpy" and "Hottie," respectively.

On a completely different topic, I think congratulations are in order for the Canadian team. I took a ton of abuse over Canada's seriously slow start. But with eighteen medals by the end of the Olympics, Canada did better, on a per capita population basis, than the United States which managed to win one hundred and ten medals. So, good job Canada!

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Cheap And Italian"--A Bad Combination

In my June 1, 2008 post where I pointed out how much Joe Clark and Hillary Clinton look alike (and they DO--check out the pictures of the two of them on my June 1 post and tell me that they're not freakin' twins separated at birth!) I mentioned that I had a photo of me standing with Joe. An anonymous commenter requested that I post the photo. Always eager to please the readership, I'm happy to oblige:

The day after I received the photo back in early August 1988 (twenty years ago!), I showed it to all of my much older co-workers in my unit at the Department of External Affairs. The economic desk officer for Cuba burst out laughing when he saw it. "Look at Joe's suit!" he chortled. "It's cheap. And Italian. That's a bad combination!"

Sartorial commentary aside, it's not every day that you get to have your photo taken with a former Prime Minister. The photo of me and Joe is on prominent display in our living room.

Is Avril Lavigne Too Sexy?

Have you seen the article in the on-line edition of The Globe & Mail about the opposition party in Malaysia urging the government to cancel Avril Lavigne's concert because--wait for it--she's "too sexy!" If you haven't seen the article, check it out here:

It's funny how Avril started out as a tomboy and now, well, let's take a look shall we:

So what's the verdict? Is Avril "too sexy?" YES SHE IS! And that's exactly the way we like her thank you very much!

Friday, August 8, 2008

American Jingo-Fest: Here. We. Gooooooooo!

Well, the Beijing Summer Olympics are finally here. I can't say that I particularly care. I'm just not that into the Olympics, especially the Summer Olympics.

A large part of what turns me off about the Olympics is the TV coverage. I want to see the freakin' events live with a particular emphasis on the finals of every event, regardless of the nationalities of the finalists. In recent Olympics, the NBC coverage has been heavy on tape-delays and human interest stories about American athletes, even those (sometimes especially those) who don't have a shot at a medal. What happens if there are no Americans in the final of an event? You can read about it after the fact.

I also hate the over-the-top homer-ism of the NBC broadcasters. It's kind of like watching a supposedly neutral Toronto-based Hockey Night In Canada crew calling a Leafs playoff game but ten times worse. Look, there's nothing wrong per se with a little pro-US boosterism. Just don't be so obvious about it.

NBC has promised more live coverage than ever this time. That's a promising start. Let's hope that there's a little more balance to the coverage, too. If the coverage turns into a tape-delayed, American Jingo-Fest, I won't be watching.

Louis Ramey's Canadian Connection

I was extremely disappointed with the season finale of NBC's Last Comic Standing that aired last night. I was absolutely dumbfounded when Louis Ramey was the first of the five finalists asked to leave the show. I'd never been a fan of Last Comic Standing before this season. About a month ago, I caught part of one of Louis Ramey's acts and found myself in hysterics. The guy is HILARIOUS! From that point forward, Last Comic Standing was "must see TV" for me.

Wanting more Louis Ramey, I did a quick search on Youtube to see if any of his performances were posted. There were a few, including a performance he gave in Toronto! Check out the first few minutes of his show at Massey Hall here:

Louis Ramey deserved to win Last Comic Standing. If they know what they're doing, one of the networks will offer him a development deal. We need more Louis Ramey!

Monday, July 28, 2008

See Avenue Q!

Good grief, I can't believe that this blog is becoming an on-line Arts & Entertainment column. That having been said, I exhort everybody in Toronto to go see Avenue Q which I understand is opening at the Elgin Theatre tomorrow. As you can see, the puppets look a whole lot like those found on Sesame Street:
Be forewarned, though, what the puppets say and do is very, very adult indeed! I saw Avenue Q in New York back in 2004 shortly after it opened. I laughed my a** off! Normally, I hate musical theater with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. Not Avenue Q!

I can't believe that the show will be running in Toronto only until August 31. Buy your tickets now Torontonians! Don't miss Avenue Q!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heath Ledger's Canadian Connection

I saw The Dark Knight last week. LOVED IT! More accurately, I thought Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was outstanding in every respect. Yes, the Joker was menacing but what I liked about him was that he was hilarious! I was rolling around laughing at a lot of the Joker's lines (even when the rest of the theater was stone cold silent). And, as a libertarian, I actually found myself agreeing with most of the Joker's philosophical observations. Anyway, here's the Joker:

I'm definitely going to go see The Dark Knight again. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

I was extraordinarily saddened when I learned of Heath Ledger's death earlier this year. I enjoyed him in A Knight's Tale and The Patriot and was just blown away by his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Such a talented guy. Here's Heath looking normal:

I spent some time trying to find a "Canadian connection" for Heath. I knew that Brokeback Mountain was shot in Alberta. I dug deeper and learned that Heath attended the Toronto Film Festival in 2006 and that he shot a movie about Bob Dylan (which I haven't seen) in Montreal.

CTV news reported a story (which you can check out here where Heath revealed his feelings about Canada. Here is what he had to say: "I absolutely love it. I love the people, I love everything about it here. I don't know what it is about Australians and Canadians getting along so well but they do. It seems like there's the same sense of humour, very dry, and just a very modest society."

It's hard to believe he's gone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yankee Stadium

Yesterday's MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium got me thinking about my own visits to the place. I caught my first Yankee game there way back in May 1994 on my first visit to New York with a couple of buddies from law school. We sat at the front of the upper deck, two-thirds of the way from home plate to third base. This is sort of the view that we had, although we were closer to third base:

I can't remember who the Yankees were playing or what the score was. However, I do remember:

*the tenement buildings just beyond the stadium looking very foreboding (they look a lot better in the photo above than I remember them being)

*wanting ice cream and instead being served frozen yogurt in an upside down, mini-batting helmet emblazoned with the Yankee logo (I recall being absolutely stunned at how effete it was--"Frozen yogurt? In this tiny fu*king helmet? In the fu*king Bronx?" I remember saying to my friend Stuart)

*buying a very expensive Yankees shirt for my then girlfriend to sleep in (the clerk thought I was nuts--"Yo'ar a very nice boyfrien' ta spen' fitty daw-las on freakin' pajamas," she said with a laugh).

Of course, once I moved to New York, I attended a couple of Yankee games a year. Although I enjoyed every trip to Yankee Stadium, there really was something special about my first visit. I'm going to miss the place.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cultural Quiz

With the Fourth of July falling on a Friday, this past weekend was three days of Independence Day celebrations, fireworks, small U.S. flags and hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and baked beans.

During a rare quiet moment, I slunk away to check out the on-line version of The Globe & Mail to see what was going on in Canada. I stumbled upon a quiz testing knowledge of Canadian and American culture. If you haven't seen it, you can check it out here:

SPOILER ALERT! I'm about to discuss the quiz and some of the answers. Take the quiz yourself before proceeding.

I was pretty cocky going into the quiz. Working through the first ten questions about Canada, I found myself grateful for having actually stayed awake in my Constitutional Law class. It was tougher than I thought it would be. The second ten questions about the United States were easier.

How'd I do? Well, I scored 8/10 on the Canada section and 9/10 on the American section. My downfall? I got some arcane question about female Canadian authors wrong. I also blew both questions on women's suffrage. Now, you're no doubt expecting me to make a comment about women being given the right to vote, aren't you? I'm a brave guy but I'm not that brave!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

I hope you all are enjoying the celebration of Canada's 141st birthday. It's been more than a decade since I've spent Canada Day in Canada. Enough time has passed that I can declare my "Favorite Canada Day Ever." It's actually pretty easy--Canada Day 1988. I had just graduated from McGill and was working in Ottawa at the Department of External Affairs. My then girlfriend and a bunch of other McGill friends came down from Montreal. Following a day filled with hanging out in downtown Ottawa, we attended the Canada Day celebration on Parliament Hill. Once the speeches by the politicians were over, we enjoyed the free, outdoor concert by--wait for it--Bachman Turner Overdrive! Can you believe it? BTO! They were ancient then. Are any of those guys still alive?

About a week ago, the on-line version of The Globe & Mail began a feature asking readers to submit photos of their favorite places in Canada. At the risk of drawing hate-filled comments from people elsewhere in Canada, I have to say that Toronto is my favorite place in Canada. And it's not just because it was home for nine years, either. Toronto is a very scenic place. Check out the following photo that I took last July on my way back to the ferry terminal on Ward's Island.

Just to bring the story full circle, we were on Ward's Island last July for the wedding of one of my friends from McGill who was part of the group of us that attended that Canada Day 1988 BTO concert on Parliament Hill!

Once again, Happy Canada Day! And a slightly early "Happy First Anniversary" to my McGill friend who got married on Ward's Island.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Canadian-Free NBA Finals

I've never been much of a basketball fan. I did, however, catch a bit of game five of the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics and really enjoyed it. I decided to watch game six which the Celtics won last night to clinch the championship.

I wasn't particularly bothered by the fact that the game was totally one-sided. I was just watching for the spectacle of the whole thing. Kobe Bryant was the only player that I knew. As I watched the other players I found myself wondering who they were and where they had come from.

This morning, I did a little research to see if any Canadians played in last night's game. It turns out that the NBA website contains a comprehensive list of player nationalities. You can check it out here: I was a little surprised to see that, in addition to Steve Nash, there are only three other Canadians in the entire NBA! Where are all the Canadians? Dominating the game of hockey, I suppose!

(p.s. Just as an aside, is anybody else befuddled by the names of the two teams that played in the NBA finals? Why is Celtic pronounced "Sel-tik" rather than "Kel-tik?" Given that the team is presumably named after the Celtic people, it really should be pronounced "Kel-tiks"--look it up in the dictionary. And the Los Angeles Lakers? calling the team the "Lakers" made sense when they were based in Minnesota--the land of 10,000 lakes. But, news flash, there are no freakin' lakes around Los Angeles! Why didn't the team's name change when they moved to Southern California? Just wondering....)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Miracle On Ice," my ass

I burst out laughing when I read Mark Spector's article in the National Post about Ron Wilson, the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The article (which you can find here recounts how, in trying to motivate Tony Amonte in the 1996 World Cup, Ron Wilson exhorted him to be Team U.S.A.'s "Paul Henderson." And Amonte's response? "Who the hell is Paul Henderson?"

The article goes on to decry an apparent lack of appreciation for hockey history among Americans. I'm not sure that I agree with this premise. Americans do appreciate hockey history, they just define it narrowly to mean U.S. hockey history.

I learned this first hand when my wife and I first visited the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto four years ago. My wife was keen to see the display dedicated to the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. She was apoplectic over the relatively few items--a Team U.S.A. jersey and a couple of other baubles--on display. "But. but, but it was the Miracle on Ice!" she stammered indignantly. "They have a whole movie theater built around that stupid Canada/Soviet series from 1972 and all the Miracle on Ice gets is this? This is ridiculous," she fumed.

My wife didn't buy my argument that the 1980 Olympic victory was really no big deal because Canada didn't send professionals to the Olympics back then. The Canadian team was made up of fourth-rate scrubs. Basically, the U.S. gold was a minor victory at best. My wife remains unconvinced. She still thinks that the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics is one of the greatest moments in hockey history. My response? "Miracle on Ice," my ass.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Joe Clark's Doppelganger

I like Joe Clark. He came to my hometown to speak during the 1984 federal election campaign. I know this may sound hard to believe, but he gave one of the most rousing political speeches that I've ever heard. The Progressive Conservative candidate in our riding won in a landslide.

Following my graduation from McGill in 1988, I spent the summer working for what was then known as the Department of External Affairs. Joe Clark was then the Minister of External Affairs and, at the end of the summer, invited the Department's summer interns to his offices in the East Block of the Parliament Buildings. He was a pretty funny guy and we all really enjoyed meeting him. Each intern then had his or her photo taken with Joe. It's not every day that you get your photo taken with a famous politician and the photo of me with Joe is framed and on prominent display in our living room.

I was very pleased to read about the unveiling of Joe's formal portrait to be hung in the House of Commons. Here's a photo of Joe at the ceremony:

Looking at Joe, I realized that he looked a lot like somebody that I'd been seeing a lot of lately. I furrowed my brow, doing a mental inventory of everyone that I'd been in recent contact with. I just couldn't place who he reminded me of.

Several days later, it all became clear. Joe Clark's doppelganger is Hillary Clinton! Check out this photo of Hillary:

It's not just their chins and jowls that match. Check out their noses. They're identical! Eerie....

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I didn't pay much attention to Memorial Day in 1998, my first in the United States. I'd just been staffed on a US $600.0 million junk bond financing and was working like an animal. As November 11, 1998 approached, I expected to see veterans selling poppies, just like they did in Toronto. To my surprise there were no poppies. When I asked one of my friends about it, she shot me a blank stare. She'd never heard of people selling or wearing poppies to commemorate the November 11 Veterans Day holiday.

The lesson that I learned is that, in the United States, Memorial Day is the holiday reserved for honoring those who died in wars. Veterans Day, the November 11 holiday, honors all veterans, both dead and living. Memorial Day is the much more significant of the two holidays. In fact, in many workplaces, Veterans Day isn't even a "real" holiday. Everyone just reports to work as normal.

Until I did a little research for this post, it wasn't clear why the United States honored its war dead in May while Canada, the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth countries did so in November. The answer is that the United States started commemorating those who lost their lives in battle shortly after the Civil War. The Commonwealth countries only started to do so after World War I. For brief histories of Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, visit, and

Be it in May or in November, those who died in the service of their country deserve to be honored. That's why this post has a serious tone to it. Back to inane stuff next time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"I Love The Smell Of Herbicide In The Morning"

This morning, while my wife and son were at church, I tended to some yard work. First on my "to do" list was spraying the grass and weeds that had sprouted up between the cracks in our driveway. As I squirted the herbicide on, I detected a faint, slightly pungent odor. That got me thinking about Ontario's recent ban on pesticides and herbicides. I have to admit, when I read about that, I just rolled my eyes and laughed at the left-wing lunacy of it all.

This was the first time that I had ever used herbicide and I was more than a little sceptical of the claim that I'd see results in less than three hours. Well, we just got back from lunch and guess what? The weeds are already starting to shrivel and die! I don't know what sort of eco-green freak remedies Ontarians are supposed to use now. All I know is, "I love the smell of herbicide in the morning. It smells like...victory."

(p.s. For those of you wondering where the "punchline" is in this post, check out the clip from Apocalypse Now posted here

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ryan Reynolds: Canada's Super Stud

While channel-surfing last Saturday evening, I came across National Lampoon's Van Wilder--one of my all-time favorite movies. Starring in the lead role as "Van" was Vancouver-born Ryan Reynolds. Here's a picture of Ryan from his most recent movie, some chick-flic that I've already forgotten the name of:

Well, I'm secure enough in my masculinity that I can say that Ryan is one helluva good looking dude! The ladies clearly agree. As you all probably know, he was engaged to Alanis Morissette until their relationship ended in February 2007. And now, one year later, he's engaged to Scarlett Johansson! Wow! Talk about an impressive record with the babes! Here are photos of Alanis and Scarlett:
I've always found Alanis incredibly sexy, especially when she first burst onto the scene in the early 1990s. That having been said, Scarlett Johansson is off-the-charts smokin' hot!

I found myself wondering what Ryan saw in Scarlett that he didn't see in Alanis. I thought it might be their age. Scarlett is only twenty-four while Alanis is thirty-four. But then Ryan is thirty-two himself. He clearly doesn't seem hung up on the age thing, having dated "older-woman" Alanis for four years.

I found myself surfing the Internet looking for the answer.

I searched and I searched.

"What could it be?" I wondered.

I then searched and searched some more.

And then I stumbled on the answer:

ALL HAIL RYAN REYNOLDS: CANADA'S SUPER STUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Would You Like Some Cleaning Solvent With Your Fries, Sir?"

My wife is a Director of Development at one of the most prestigious public universities in the United States. In essence, her job is to be nice to people and to ask them for money. Part of my wife's job is attending receptions and dinners. Every so often, I get dragged along to some hellacious "spouses mandatory" event. I do not exaggerate when I say that I usually hate these events with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

The dinner that I attended this past Saturday was an exception. I wound up sitting at a table with a couple of history professors visiting from Canada. It didn't take long before we started swapping tales about the cultural distinctions between Canada and the United States.

The best story of the evening was recounted by a history professor from UBC. Last summer, he and his family were driving through western Pennsylvania and pulled into a roadside diner for lunch. The professor asked the server for some vinegar for his fries. She responded with a confused look. When the professor assured her that, yes, he really wanted vinegar for his fries, she nodded and disappeared. A few moments later, the server appeared at the table with an industrial-sized jar of vinegar. As she struggled to pour a small amount into a saucer, the server explained that she was surprised that the professor actually wanted vinegar on his fries. She'd never heard of that before and found it odd--the only reason that the restaurant had vinegar on hand was to use it as an "environmentally friendly" cleaning solvent!

I long, long, long ago gave up trying to get vinegar for my fries down here. The few times that I was told that I could get vinegar, it always turned out to be that nasty, urine-colored malt stuff. My advice to Canadians visiting the United States? Don't even bother asking for vinegar with your fries. Just appreciate it as one of the good things about living north of the border!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hortons Hears A "Boooooo"

My wife is as patriotic an American as there is. With her, it's pretty much "my country right or wrong," with one exception--donut holes. My wife absolutely LOVES Timbits. I remember well the first time that she ever tried them. It was July 2004 at a Tim Hortons not too far from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. As soon as she took her first bite of a succulent, sugar powder-dusted Timbit she was hooked. For the remaining ten days of our vacation in Canada, frequenting the nearest Tim Hortons became a daily obsession.

My wife thought I was kidding a few years ago when I reported that I had read that Tim Hortons was expanding to the U.S. "This is great!" she cried. "How soon 'til they get here? Those 'Munchkin' things at Dunkin' Donuts are a lame rip off."

I seem to remember Tim Hortons setting some ambitious timeline to "take the United States by storm." Of course, it never happened--yet one more Canadian business getting its ass handed to it in the U.S. market. Yep, just another statistic. Move along, nothing to see here.... Over time, my wife gave up all hope of ever having a local Tim Hortons to call her own.

It seems, though, that my wife's despair may have been premature. According to an article by The Financial Post's Hollie Shaw, Tim Hortons has undergone a "management shake up" (you can check out the article here: Let's hope that the new management team can get things back on track. They've got a killer product to work with. All they need to do is get the execution right!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Handling A Transit Strike--New York Style

I feel terrible for all the Torontonians stranded and inconvenienced by the TTC strike. I remember well another TTC strike in 1992. I was working at King and Bay and living in North York. In the mornings, I was able to catch a ride most of the way downtown with one of my roommates who had a car. However, because of my unpredictable hours, I was on my own when it came to getting home in the evening. It took me almost THREE HOURS to walk home straight up Yonge Street. And as those of you familiar with Toronto's geography well know, my trek was almost entirely UPHILL! By the end of the third day, I had quads that could crush an anaconda.

The New York Transit System has been subject to strike action three times (you can find a history of these labor disputes here After a particularly nasty, twelve-day stoppage in 1966, legislation was passed making transit strikes illegal. There was an illegal, two-day transit strike the week before Christmas in December 2005. At the time, I was living in Midtown Manhattan and walked everywhere so I wasn't particularly inconvenienced. However, most people weren't as lucky as me and the city was thrown into a state of chaos during the busiest shopping week of the year. As part of the aftermath of the strike, the union was fined and its leader, Roger Toussaint, was sentenced to a jail term.

Ontario should follow the New York model--transit strikes should be declared illegal. And if a union breaks the law, its leader should be sentenced to time in jail, preferably with a hulking cellmate called "Bubba" determined to train his new "friend" to respond to the name "Princess."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Danica Patrick's Canadian Connection

Congratulations to Danica Patrick on her victory in the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300! Here's a photo of Danica with her trophy:

I did a little research and discovered a "Canadian connection" for Danica.

For those of you not familiar with Danica's racing history, you can check out her biography here: To make a short story shorter, she started racing go-carts as a kid and moved to Europe to compete on racing circuits there when she was sixteen. In 2002, when Danica was twenty, she signed with the Bobby Rahal team and moved back to North America to compete in the Barber Dodge Pro Series--sort of the "minor leagues" for Indy Car racing. As you can read here:, Danica's first race was part of the Molson Indy at Exhibition Place. Danica's road to victory lane started in Toronto! How cool is that!

Just because I'm so darned excited that she won, here's another photo of Danica, this one taken at the 2007 Indianapolis 500:

Let's hope that Danica's victory in Japan is only the first of many!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The "Slutty Chick From McGill"

Just to clarify, the "slutty chick from McGill" that I referred to in my previous post was, and is, a hypothetical creation of my imagination. At least that's my story. And I'm sticking to it.

Have a great weekend!

"You Can't Suck And Blow At The Same Time"

In discussing judicial decisions, a number of my professors at U. of T. Law School used the expression: "You can't suck and blow at the same time." I always tittered to myself under my breath when I heard it. It just sounded sort of naughty to me. I always wanted to blurt out: "Yeah, well I knew this really slutty chick at McGill who's the exception that proves THAT rule!" but I never had the guts to speak up.

Moving right along, the expression came to mind as I read about Canada's outrage over the decision of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to work with its counterpart in Australia in establishing a completely free movement of capital between the U.S. and Australia and the Canadian government's decision to block the acquisition of B.C.-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. by Minnesota-based Alliant Technologies Inc.

In case you missed it, the G&M article on securities regulation written by Andrew Willis can be found here Having practiced securities law in both Canada and the U.S., I feel particularly well-qualified to speak to the matter at hand. Recognizing that securities law is a MAJOR snoozefest for most people, let me just say two things: (i) Canada's province-based regulatory patchwork is an absolute nightmare and I can't fault the SEC for preferring to deal with a country with a national securities regulator; and (ii) certain Canadian companies can already issue their securities into the U.S. under the Canada/U.S. Multijurisidictional Disclosure System by filing their Canadian disclosure documents with the SEC.

The G&M story about the Canadian government's blocking of the MDA transaction written by Virginia Galt can be found here One of the areas that I specialized in when practicing in Canada was foreign investment review under the Investment Canada Act. Nobody ever thought that the government would actually block a deal. Worst case scenario, a foreign acquirer would be required to make certain undertakings to do, or refrain from doing, certain things. But actually blocking a deal? By a U.S. buyer? Unheard of. Not even the Liberals blocked any deals.

The government of Canada wants special accommodation from the U.S. on securities regulation while prohibiting foreign investment by U.S. businesses? Hmmmm, sounds like "sucking and blowing at the same time" if you ask me. Just like that slutty chick from McGill....

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Pride Of An NHL Father

I was channel surfing on Saturday night and stumbled across the game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames on Channel 625--that night's free "teaser" game being offered by our cable provider to showcase its NHL and Major League Baseball pay-per-view services. I'm not sure where our feed originated (the commercials made me think somewhere in the Maritimes) but it was the live Hockey Night In Canada broadcast. A real treat, indeed!

Part way through the first period, Trevor Linden's parents were interviewed. In case you missed it, it's already on YouTube here I found the interview very touching. Trevor Linden's dad did all the talking (at his mom's request) and seemed like a very, very nice man who is extraordinarily proud of his son's twenty-year career in the NHL.

The interview reminded me of a conversation that I had with my own father seventeen years ago. I was in my last year of law school getting ready to start my job as an articling student with one of the big, Bay Street-based, national law firms. I had recently seen some statistics on the number of kids playing major-junior hockey and eligible for the NHL draft and compared it to the number of students at Canadian law schools eligible for articling jobs with the major national law firms. It turned out that, on a purely statistical basis, it was tougher to get an articling job with a national firm than it was to get drafted by an NHL team.

I shared my analysis with my father and asked him what he thought. Dad was quiet for an uncharacteristically long time. "Well, don't get me wrong," he said pensively, "your mother and I are very happy for you and proud of what you've achieved." There was another pause before my father continued: "But to say that your son plays in the NHL? Now that's REALLY something!!!!!!!!"

Of course, I agreed with my father at the time and now, seventeen years later, I agree with his sentiments even more!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Q1 2008 Results

Having been posting for three months now, I thought I would share my thoughts on how things are going.

The response to my inaugural post entitled "Joining Team U.S.A." (posted on December 30, 2007) was resoundingly negative. Somebody left the comment, "Huh?" and I got an e-mail from a close friend implying that he was highly offended by my post and suggesting that I change the tone of the blog. I also took a major new orifice ripping from another friend over my "Flag Controversy Revisited" post on February 8. My friend went off on a major rant about how disrespectful it was for me to "knock the flag of the country of my birth, where I had received an inexpensive education, free health care" and so on and so forth. He wasn't the least bit mollified by my response that I was merely suggesting that the old flag was more aesthetically pleasing. My friend was hell-bent on being offended and proudly declared that he stopped reading my blog at that point and would never read it again.

Some posts that I thought would absolutely KILL didn't. I really, really like my March 27 "Lessons From My Donald Trump Doll" post but, so far, it has received relatively light readership. Same thing for my March 14 "Ho, No!" and March 9 "The Hyper-Allergenic Google Dork" posts--visits from all my regulars but, in relative terms, mostly just the sound of crickets rubbing their legs as one lonely tumbleweed gently bounces by.

So which posts have done really well? The January 9 "John McCain's Canadian Connection" post drew some significant traffic. Notable visits came from the CBC and the Privy Council Office in Ottawa. The post also received a series of hits from Arizona. I'd like to think that the last visitors were from the McCain campaign but my tracking software isn't able to provide that level of detail. My March 23 "Who Will Win? Who Will Lose? Pinkberry vs. Yogen Fruz" post also generated significant interest and some comments disagreeing with my analysis.

However, my most popular post thus far is my February 25 entry entitled "Hot Curlers!" where I wax eloquent about Canadian curling sensation Jennifer Jones' extreme hotness. Things started slow with this post. Again, just visits from the regulars. Then, all of a sudden, I was inundated with hundreds of visitors. It turns out that my post had been picked up by the blog run by The Curling News which you can check out at A special shout out "THANK YOU" to The Curling News for the coverage.

Following up on Jennifer Jones, to my tremendous delight, she won the World Championship on Sunday, defeating the team from China. Here's a picture of JJ, guiding her teammates:

Wow, love that angry look--it totally blows the needle off the Babe-O-Meter! Everything I said in my February 25 post? More true than ever!

Overall, I'm very pleased with our Q1 2008 results and look forward to continuing to do my best to educate and, hopefully, entertain!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lessons From My Donald Trump Doll

The two-hour, live finale of the The Celebrity Apprentice airs tonight. I can't wait to see whether Trace or Piers will emerge victorious. I suspect that Donald Trump will pick Piers. Sure, Piers is ruthless, but he's proven time and again that he can raise copious quantities of cash and, really, isn't that what charitable fund raising is all about?

I absolutely loved The Apprentice when it debuted in January 2004. Knowing how crazy I was about the show, my wife bought me a talking Donald Trump doll. Here's a picture of my talking Trump doll (note the right hand raised and in the "cobra" position):

My fifteen-month old son loves it when I make the Trump doll utter one of its seventeen phrases. Listening to the Trump doll provides some real insight into American business culture. Consider the following, straight from the mouth of my Trump doll:

"Remember, the buck starts here." Initiative is paramount in American business culture. This extends beyond its obvious application to entrepreneurs. If you've worked with Americans, have you noticed how they'll step up to draft the document, volunteer to follow up or just generally take the lead in moving things forward?

"Have an ego. There's nothing wrong with ego." This follows from wanting to take the lead. As an American business person, you can't just think that you can get it done, you have to KNOW that you can get it done. And better than anybody else as well.

"Go with your gut instinct." Dithering is not acceptable in American business culture. Sometimes you have to make a decision, even if you would like more facts or time to contemplate. "Paralysis by analysis" isn't a problem in this country.

"Never give up--under any circumstances--never give up." Tenacity is one of the most admired business traits in American business culture. There's nothing quite like achieving victory after a dogged, tireless pursuit.

"Do you really think you're a good leader? I don't." Pride in one's leadership abilities is of paramount importance. Most American business people would rather be considered bad lovers than bad leaders.

"In my businesses you've gotta be tough. You underperformed and you let people walk all over you." Toughness is perhaps the most revered of characteristics that an American business person can have. So what happens if an American business person isn't tenacious enough, a good enough leader or tough enough? Well, he or she will probably hear something like:

"I should fire myself just for having you around. This one's easy for're fired."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Who Will Win? Who Will Lose? Pinkberry vs Yogen Fruz

A recent on-line version of Business Week has an interesting article on Canada-based Yogen Fruz's plans to expand into the United States (check it out at

The gist of the article is that Yogen Fruz plans to work with existing independent frozen yogurt vendors or failing franchisees of other frozen yogurt chains to establish a "beachhead" in the United States. Sounds slow. And painful.

There's another frozen yogurt firm taking New York by storm: Pinkberry. My more trendy friends simply cannot shut up about the place. The lines are so long that they snake out of the stores and down the street. Right now, Pinkberry only has locations in California and New York but a national roll out seems to be in the offing.

Who's my money on? Pinkberry all the way. Check out the Pinkberry website at and compare and contrast it with Yogen Fruz's website at The products and toppings look pretty similar. What really sets Pinkberry apart for me, though, is the design of its stores. Check out the Pinkberry "Shop Concept" here All I can say is GAME OVER. Thank you for playing Yogen Fruz. Pinkberry's decor will absolutely KILL in New York. And what's big in California and New York eventually will become big everywhere else in the United States.

The last confectionery to take New York by storm like Pinkberry was Jamba Juice. It rolled out quickly and went public soon thereafter. Look for a Pinkberry initial public offering in eighteen to twenty-four months.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Dinger Of A Ringer

The popularity of the NCAA men's basketball tournament amazes me. When I moved to the United States, I knew that "March Madness" gripped the nation at this time of year. I just seriously underestimated the strength of that grip!

The productivity lost as a result of people agonizing over their bracket selections must be in the many billions of dollars. At the firm I joined when I first moved to New York, the office betting pool was taken very seriously. There was a "Commissioner" (usually a senior associate) whose job was to oversee things and a group of five or six other people (typically junior associates) who were responsible for collecting the bracket sheets and, most importantly, the money for the pool--$10 per entry.

Shortly after joining the firm, I became great friends with a guy named Peter who was a real college basketball guru. Peter came by his basketball knowledge from the inside--he attended Princeton on a full basketball scholarship before getting his JD at Cornell Law School. While I wallowed in ignorance and finished near the bottom of the pool, in the three years that we worked together, Peter always finished right near the top just out of the money.

My big break came when Peter left the firm and moved to Menlo Park in June 2000. For the next four years, in addition to submitting my own entry, I submitted several more entries in conjunction with Peter, with Peter making the expert picks and me ponying up the bucks. How did we do? Well, my ill-advised "pure guesses" beat Peter's picks every time! Talk about a dinger of a ringer!

In any event, set forth below are my picks for this year:

I know that the print is tiny but it's as big as I can get it. In making my selections, I used the same strategy that I always do: pick the heavy favorites and then randomly choose upsets when two teams are fairly closely ranked. I've picked Duke as the champion, defeating highly-touted North Carolina in the final.

I have no idea who Peter is picking. We just talk about other stuff at this time of the year now....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ho, No!

OK, I'd like to take credit for the title of this post but I can't. The New York Post ran it as its headline the day that the Eliot Spitzer scandal broke. It really says it all, doesn't it?

In the interest of full disclosure, I should make it clear that I've always hated Eliot Spitzer. There was just something incredibly off putting about his self-righteous, tendentious zealotry when he was Attorney General. I also find his beady eyes very creepy. Here's a picture of Eliot owning up to his dalliance with "Kristen":

From friends of friends that know Eliot Spitzer or used to work with him, I understand that he likes to pepper his conversation with "f-bombs" (he is famously on the record referring to himself as a "f*cking steamroller"). Well, if there was a little thought bubble above Eliot's head, what would it say? I'm betting something like, "F*ck. This is one f*cked up f*cking cluster-f*ck of a f*ck-fest. F*ck, f*ck, f*ckitty f*ck. F*************ck."

It's interesting how so many American politicians get caught up in sex scandals. Idaho Senator Larry Craig and his shenanigans in the men's room at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, Jim McGreevey and the sordid little saga that culminated in his "I am a gay American" declaration and the whole suspicious Gary Condit/Chandra Levy matter all come to mind. And, of course, let's not forget that granddaddy of sexual imbroglios--Bill Clinton's extra-curricular activities with Monica Lewinsky.

I wanted to compare these scandals with some recent sexual misconduct by Canadian politicians. However, all the Canadian scandals that I could think of seemed to involve money. I was thinking of the nefarious dealings between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber, "Shawinigate" involving dubious real estate dealings by Jean Chretien and the recent "Sponsorgate" controversy. I did a little on-line research and came across an article by Jim Coyle of The Toronto Star confirming the dearth of sex scandals involving Canadian politicians (you can read the article here

How do I explain this? I think it has something to do with the fact that American politicians are either rich before they get into politics (Eliot Spitzer's father is a zillionaire real estate developer) or expect to get rich after they leave the political arena by writing a memoir and lecturing (in the case of presidents, senior senators and governors of big states) or joining a high-priced lobbying firm (in the case of everybody else). With the exception of guys like Paul Martin, Canadian politicians have less money when they get into politics and the relatively small size of the Canadian market and more limited opportunities make it less likely that they'll be able to jump on the gravy train when their political careers are over. Thus, to Canadian politicians, money is a more likely corrupting influence.

Just a theory from the Star-Spangled Canuck.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Hyper-Allergenic Google Dork

Remember that computer engineer/lawyer friend of mine who works as in-house counsel at Google? One thing that I didn't mention is that she's hot. My Hot Friend (hereinafter "HF") has big brown eyes, a major mane of chestnut hair and all the requisite girl curves, in ample abundance, in exactly the right places. HF's appeal isn't limited to the computer nerd crowd, either. I once took her to a party hosted by an I-banker friend and HF caused a veritable feeding frenzy among the overworked, rutting young analyst types in attendance.

In October 2005, my wife and I were in San Francisco and decided to visit HF at the Google campus in Mountain View. My wife and I weren't sure what to make of Google's offices as HF showed us around. There were bean bag chairs, candy stations and scooters that you could ride between buildings. It seemed like a huge camp for young adults rather than a market-leading software company. We ended our tour with dinner at one of the five cafeterias serving free meals to all Google employees, friends and family.

As it started to get dark, HF suggested that we ride back to San Francisco with her on the Google shuttle bus. My wife and I sat together near the back of the bus on the right side, my wife with the window and me on the aisle. HF took the seat next to me across the aisle. Her seatmate was a computer dork straight from Central Casting--a slightly pudgy guy in his late twenties with a pasty complexion, unkempt dark brown hair and unstylish glasses with thick lenses. Like most of the other people on the bus, the Dork was working on a laptop computer, his fingers flashing over the little keyboard.

We hit a random bump on the road and HF accidentally banged into the Dork's computer. "I'm so sorry!" HF exclaimed, "I didn't mean to bump you like that."

The Dork's head snapped up, his glower turning to a smile when he looked at HF. "Heh, heh, heh," he laughed nervously. "No problem."

The Dork continued to stare at HF. "Soooooo," he said, "what group do you work in?"

I could tell by the look on the Dork's face that he was smitten. "Oh sh*t!" I whispered to my wife, "that Dork's got game and he's bringing it on HF!"

Over the course of the next few minutes, the Dork and HF engaged each other in friendly conversation.

"You know," I said, turning to my wife, "HF doesn't seem completely uninterested in this guy."

A moment later, HF pulled out a pack of gum.

"Would you like a piece?" HF asked, motioning the pack towards the Dork.

The Dork beamed. "Is it sugarless?"

"Yes," HF replied with a nod of her head.

"Well, in that case, no thank you," the Dork said, pushing his glasses further up his nose. "I'm allergic to aspartame!"

And the moment was over. HF slowly turned away from the Dork and towards me. HF chatted with my wife and me the rest of the way to San Francisco.

My trip to the Google campus left me with two major "take aways":

1. Google's "aren't we cool" culture of extravagance is a waste of stockholders' money and is unsustainable in the long term; and

2. If you're a computer dork looking to score with a hot chick and said hot chick offers you a piece of gum, TAKE THE GUM! Even if it means having to steal away a few minutes later to jab a syringe into your thigh and inject yourself with an antidote to anaphylactic shock, TAKE THE GUM! For the love of God man, TAKE THE GUM!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Ladies Of Tech

I was a little puzzled by a recent post by Jack Kapica, the resident technology blogger for The Globe & Mail. In the piece entitled "Why Tech Careers Are Less Fun" (which, in case you missed it, you can find at, Kapica talks about how tech is "male dominated."

What perplexes me, though, is that the only two people that I know who actually work in "tech" are both women.

One is a friend from my days practicing law in Toronto. She left the gleaming tower at Bay and King where we both toiled to join Nortel's in-house legal department. Following stints as the general counsel for a tech start-up and several years as a venture capitalist, my friend founded a law firm catering to Toronto's tech and start-up community. Her blog is an absolute "must read" for anybody interested in technology and law. And it's pretty darned funny as well! Check it out at

The other woman is somebody that I worked with at my firm in New York. She received her undergraduate degree in computer engineering before enrolling in the joint JD/MBA program at the University of Toronto. After four years practicing intellectual property law in New York, she moved to Silicon Valley to become an in-house lawyer at--wait for it--Google!

So what's the deal here? Is Jack Kapica talking out of his arse? Does the fact that my friends practice law rather than write code make a difference? Or do I just happen to know some pretty darned extraordinary women?

I know, I know, an unusually serious tone for this blog. Back to the fun next time when I plan to tell the tale of "The Hyper-Allergenic Google Dork." Trust me, you're gonna love it!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hot Curlers!

I grew up in the warm and rainy part of British Columbia. If you didn't mind the occasionally soggy conditions, you could pretty much play golf year round. My grandfather enjoyed golf well into his seventies and I have very fond memories of playing with him. My grandfather was also into curling but, for whatever reason, we never played together. A casual fan of the game, I always considered it a pastime for "old guys," something best left for my retirement years.

Well, imagine my surprise when I saw the following photo of Jennifer Jones celebrating her victory at the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women's curling championships:

Whoa-ho-ho, just a second here! Is she smokin' or what? Curious, I checked out Jennifer's biography on Wikipedia at There are some additional photos of Jennifer and her teammates at their team website

I see a real opportunity here for curling to inject a little "sex and sizzle" into its game. If the LPGA can portray Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis as major cuddle kittens and auto racing can play up Danica Patrick's absolutely ridiculous sex appeal, why shouldn't curling take advantage of Jennifer Jones' extreme hotness? I say do it and do it fast before she melts all the ice!

Just a thought from the Star-Spangled Canuck....

Friday, February 22, 2008

Labatt's Fading? Sacre-Blue!

Did you catch that article in the on-line version of the Globe & Mail about how Labatt's Blue is the number FOUR beer in the country after Budweiser, Coors Light and Molson Canadian? If you missed it, you can catch it here:

What the heck are you Canadians thinking? We can quibble over the Blue vs. Canadian issue, but there's just no way that Budweiser or Coors Light taste better than Blue. I mean, come on! When I first moved to New York, I was overjoyed to discover that I could actually buy Labatt's Blue at the grocery store. And buy it I did! In fact, I continue to buy it. The little mini-fridge in my garage is stocked with Labatt's Blue for me and Michelob Ultra for my wife.

The G&M article implies that crappy marketing is responsible for Blue's demise. Well, helpful guy that I am, I have a suggestion for Labatt's Brazilian owners--we need a new Labatt's Blue girl!

Back in the day, I seem to remember Pamela Anderson as the Labatt's Blue girl. In fact, Pamela was "discovered" at a B.C. Lions game sporting a Labatt's t-shirt (in case your memory needs a little refreshing, you can find a brief history of Pamela Anderson and her relationship with Labatt's Blue here:

Well, Pam is too old and too skeezy for the job now (talk about a thoroughbred that was "ridden hard and put away wet"--yikes!!!!!). Not to worry, though. I have the perfect replacement candidate--Avril Lavigne! If you haven't seen her new video, check it out at: I can absolutely, 100% guarantee you that Avril's new, edgier personae would appeal to the young, male, beer-drinking demographic that the brewers all covet.

Did I mention that the title of Avril's new video is "Hot?" Having watched it a couple of times (just to make sure that the hyperlink works, of course), I have to say that it's getting a little warm in here. You'll have to excuse me, I'm going to go pull a nice, cool Labatt's Blue out of my mini-fridge....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Kraft Dinner"--A Tasty Test Alternative

Over the weekend, one of my buddies from law school reminded me that the "Touque Test" isn't the only way to experience a fun cultural distinction between Canadians and Americans. He was quick to point out that you can do the same thing with "Kraft Dinner"--Americans will stare at you with a puzzled look if you say it. If you're lucky, you'll get a polite, "Do you mean Kraft Macaroni & Cheese?" If you're not quite so fortunate, you'll be met with, "What the hell are you talking about? Is that some sort of stupid Canadian term for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese?"

The folks at Wikipedia have a fairly interesting history of my favorite orange-tinged pasta dish that you can check out at It turns out that the original name was "Kraft Dinner." How about that!

Here's a photo of the American version of the product, straight from my pantry:

You'll have to excuse that "Whole Grain" nonsense. That's my wife's doing. My son and I eat Kraft Dinner/Macaroni & Cheese by the pallet and she thinks this stuff is "healthier" for us. Whatever. Just bring it on--and lots of it!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The "Touque Test"

OK Canadians, brace yourselves for this. Ninety-nine percent of Americans have absolutely no idea what a "touque" is. I kid you not. I really wasn't aware of this until living in the US for nine years. My son was born in December 2006. As we bundled him up to take him home from the hospital, my wife and I had the following conversation:

Me: I think that Notre Dame touque you've got him wearing is too big. Maybe he should wear the one the hospital gave him....

Wife: Huh?

Me: His touque. It's too big.

Wife: His what?

Me (slightly agitated): His TOUQUE. The thing on his head.

Wife: Oh, you mean his knit cap.

Me: No, his TOUQUE. "Knit cap," what the h*ll are you talking about?

At that point, my wife explained that she'd never heard the term "touque" before. I was astounded. My wife grew up in rural Minnesota, four hours from Minneapolis/St. Paul and four hours from Winnipeg. If any American was going to know what a "touque" was, it would have been her.

Since then, I've tried the "Touque Test" on all of my American friends and none of them, not a single one, has ever heard the term before. It's the craziest thing.

There's hope that this may change, though. Earlier this year, I watched with interest as the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins played the "Winter Classic" outdoors in Buffalo. Here's a picture of Buffalo's goalie, Ryan Miller:

To my utter amazement, Darren Pang, one of the commentators referred to the thing on the top of Ryan Miller's head as a "touque!" Now if only more Americans had actually been watching the damn game....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I had a few minutes to kill on Sunday afternoon, flicked on the TV and started channel surfing. I happened upon the start of NBC's national coverage of the game betwee the Detroit Red Wings and Anahiem Ducks. I was surprised that the commentators were showing clips of, and talking about, all the fighting going on in the NHL. "It's not the 'No Hit League' any more," one of them effused with great jocularity.

So, is this the new way to try to attract US television viewers to the NHL--by portraying it as a goon-fest, smack-down orgy of violence? Have we decided to come full circle after that idiotic glowing puck and the "free flowing European style of play" initiatives failed to give the NHL more viewers than, say, bass fishing? I know that the NHL is courting US audiences with the hope of securing a lucrative national TV contract. Guess what NHL, it's never going to happen. The US is just not that into you.

The NHL should focus on the limted number of US markets that truly have embraced hockey and Canada, the country that loves the game above all else. I checked this year's NHL attendance records as compiled by ESPN at In terms of home game attendance, five of the six Canadian teams (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver) are in the top eight (Edmonton is seventeenth). These five teams all have 100.0% or more attendance at their home games meaning it's "standing room only" each night, every night.

This, of course, is in contradistinction to teams like Florida, Columbus, Washington, Nashville and Phoenix which all draw in the mid-14,000s for each home game and the New York Islanders who are averaging a paltry 13,288 fans per game.

What's the point of all this? Well, I think it's high time that the NHL thought about relocating some of its franchises. And I'm not talking about moving teams to Seattle, Portland or Kansas City either. The NHL needs more teams in Canada! Moving the Phoenix Coyotes back to Winnipeg is a no-brainer. Putting a team back in Quebec City also seems to make sense. I also think that each of Toronto and Montreal could very easily support an additional franchise each. If the metro New York area can support three teams, Toronto and Montreal could easily support two each.

How about it Canadians? It's time for you to rise up and bring some NHL teams home!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Flag Controversy Revisted

I've been a U.S. citizen for two weeks now. I applied for a U.S. passport thirteen days ago and, in a truly remarkable (nigh unbelievable) display of bureaucratic speed, my passport arrived today!

Earlier this week, I was chatting with a buddy who grew up in Canada and became a naturalized U.S. citizen nineteen years ago. I don't remember how exactly, but we got onto the topic of flags. My friend gushed how much he loved the Stars and Stripes, not just because of everything for which it stands but as an aesthetically pleasing exercise in design. I enthusiastically agreed. The American flag truly kicks a**! Here it is in all its glory:

Of course, the topic then changed to the Canadian flag. We both had to give it an "F." Just look at the thing:

BOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRR-iiiinnnggggg. My friend mentioned that he thought that the Liberals had modeled the flag in their own party colors and rammed it through Parliament. We went off on an anti-Liberal, hate-filled rant before recalling that the flag that Canada had before was much cooler. Shortly thereafter, the conversation went off in a different direction.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see if I could find the old Canadian flag that was replaced by the hideous monstrosity above. Here it is:

Now THAT'S a flag worth saluting! Very interesting to the eye, pays homage to Canada's former British heritage and even includes a little fleur-de-lys action for our French Canadian friends.

I did a little further digging and discovered that the whole flag thing created a HUGE controversy back in 1965. The CBC has a story on it that you can check out here:

According to the guy who designed it, the "single maple leaf" flag was based on the flag of the Royal Military College in Kingston. I'm sure that the fact that it was in the colors of the Liberal Party certainly helped move it along. It turns out that the Pearson government had to use "closure" to shut down debate and jam it through Parliament. Liberal skullduggery if you ask me.

I know that I don't really have a "dog in the fight" any more, but I think Canadians should start a movement to BRING BACK THE OLD FLAG!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I'm still reveling in the fact that THE GIANTS WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As Eli Manning took a knee and the last second ticked off the clock, I jubilantly yelled: "This is one of the greatest days of my life!" My wife shushed me with an indginant, "The baby is sleeping and don't tell me that this compares with our wedding day or his birth." Now what the hell kind of moment-killing BS was that? I think my wife is just bitter becase her beloved Minnesota Vikings have never won a Super Bowl. Ever. And how many have the Giants won? THREE, BABY!

The Super Bowl telecast and the fact that THE GIANTS WON (yeeeee-AHHHH, BABY!!!!) compel me to update two prior posts. In my last post, I made a big deal out of the whole misuse of the term "World Champion." Well, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman never uttered the term. It was first used by Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, as he presented the Lombardi Trophy. If you missed it, you can catch the trophy presentation at .

The fact that THE GIANTS WON THE SUPER BOWL also has implications for the financial market jitters that I spoke about in my January 22 post. There's a theory that when an "original" NFL team wins the Super Bowl, the stock markets will finish the year higher (you can read about this theory at As an "original" NFL team, the fact that THE GIANTS WON THE SUPER BOWL means that the markets should end the year higher. Given the absolute drubbing that my portfolio has been taking lately, let's hope the theory holds true!

Friday, February 1, 2008

"NFL Champions," Yes! "World Champions," No.

Here I go again, one last time before the Super Bowl, posting in Giants blue. LET'S GO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!

I've been reading with interest how gambling types can make all sorts of "prop bets" on the most arcane aspects of the Super Bowl. Apparently, there are betting lines on which team will win the coin toss, the color of the Gatorade that the players from the winning team will use to douse their coach and who the MVP will credit first for his team's victory--his teammates, the coaching staff or God.

I think there should be a betting line on how many times the commentators refer to the winning team as the "World Champions." This drives me absolutely bat sh*t crazy! The winner of the Super Bowl will be the champion of the NFL, nothing more. Teams from around the globe aren't allowed to compete so there's no "World" aspect to any of this.

This is a particularly good example of how, every so often, Americans get caught up in their own hyperbole. I learned the hard way that it's usually best to just play along with this American cultural trait. More on this in a later post after the Super Bowl.

Anyway, getting back to the Super Bowl, I recently learned that Lawrence Tynes, the placekicker for the Giants (seen here kicking the winning field goal against Green Bay),

played briefly for the Ottawa Renegades of the CFL. I hope that all fans of the CFL will adopt the Giants as their team on Sunday!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State Of The Yawn-ion Address

Well, I was all set to do a post on the State of the Union address delivered by President Bush yesterday evening. I was going to play pseudo-journalist and give my insight on how the policy issues addressed in his speech would impact Canada. One problem, though--the speech was so damn boring I couldn't even follow it! I think President Bush mentioned Canada once in connection with some meeting he wants to have with Canada and Mexico or something. I dunno. I wasn't really paying attention.

One thing that I was looking forward to was seeing Barbara and Jenna, the First Twins. Here's how they looked last night, flanking their mom (I have no idea who the wrinkly little gnome on the far right is):

I've always been more of a fan of Barbara than Jenna. Last night, though, Barbara just didn't look that great. What's with the expression on her face? She has the same taut-lipped, tense expression that my thirteen-month old son gets just before he loads his diaper.

In any event, I apologize for dropping the ball on providing any useful commentary. I'll try harder next time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oath Of Allegiance

Well, yesterday was the big day--I was sworn in as a United States citizen. There were 106 of us at my ceremony, six other Canadians and 99 other people from all parts of the world.

The final step in becoming a citizen was swearing the Oath of Allegiance. All 106 of us stood up, raised our right hands and followed the lead of a Federal Court judge in reciting the Oath out loud in unison. It was all very moving. Here's the Oath and exactly what I was thinking as I recited it:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and adjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;"

OK, I guess that's it as far as any of that "loyalty to the Queen" crap is concerned. Can't say I'm going to miss any of that. Why Canadians still pledge fealty to some foreign monarch has never made any sense to me. It's not that I have anything against the Queen. She seems like a nice enough old lady. I think Prince William will make a fine King and I'm a huge fan of that Kate Middleton girl he's rolling around with--she's one delectable English muffin that I'd love to slather in clotted cream and jam before devouring. Mmmmm, mmm.

"that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;"

Most definitely. I'm feeling especially feisty this morning. Bring on some foreign and domestic enemies and I'll kick their a**es!

"that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;"

This is badly drafted. I'm fine with the concept but it could have been combined with the part we just said.

"that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law;"

Are you kidding? Count me in! I once fired a military sub-machine gun at a test range and it was the coolest thing ever. If I have to bear arms, I hope I get a choice. I don't just want some standard issue M-16. Can I be in a tank? I'd love to fire one of those cannons. Or maybe I could be the bombardier on a bomber carrying one of those "bunker buster" missiles. How awesome would it be to fire one of those babies?

"that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by law;"

Noncombatant service? Do I look like a girl?

"that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law;"

What the hell is this? Didn't I just agree to bear arms? I'll do what I'm asked to do, but I'd rather shoot at stuff than shuffle paper.

"and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;"

I'm good on all counts.

"so help me God."

God? How'd that reference sneak in here? What happened to the separation of Church and State? Is the ACLU aware of this? You know it'll just be a matter of time before somebody launches a challenge....