Saturday, November 26, 2011

Revisiting : Flash Occupations...a flash in the pan? (Second and hopefully the last part)

Part II of my blog article titled Flash Occupations...a flash in the pan? (Part I published on October 22, 2011).

Well, what's up with the Flash Occupations (Wall Street, Oakland, UC Berkley, etc.). What's new? (Watch the video).

Not much, uh! Are we surprised? Hate to say it but...I told you so. It was inevitable. We all knew the Occupants would not be tolerated indefinitely. Firstly, for good reasons: safety and public health. Secondly, for bad reasons: the image of public officials.

Although it was bound to happen, I'm very sorry to see that police brutality was the main event again. Not much was accomplished, except horror scenes. That is really sad. Watch the next video. It was filmed on November 18, 2011, at "Occupy UC Berkley", in California. I tried to pick the shortest one because it's difficult to watch (if you have a heart):

And that's only a tiny example of what happened out there. Try to guess how the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley (also referred to as Cal), Robert Birgeneau, responded to the student community regarding "Occupy UC Berkley"?
"It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience."
So, basically, Mr Birgeneau is saying that linking arms is violent. At some point, I was afraid he was going to say "Stop hitting the policemen's fists and batons with your faces. This is violent behaviour. You could injure their fists!".

But don't worry. The Occupants have morons on their side too. They keep the same number, you know, just in case...Here's an example (see video):

But if you are going to send in the clowns, at least, send in the funny ones.

As it turns out, the only common denominator of the Occupants is that they are pissed-off. Some are mad at the System, the Government and Wall Street, which in my book, is more than legitimate. But for some others, it gets a little blurry...not to say, plain moronic. All of that is normal. 99% of the whole population is a whole lotta people!! In such large numbers, it's impossible to get unanimity.

I'm definitely part of the 99%. And as I watch all kinds of clips about the Flash Occupations, I feel I have a lot in common with a few of the Occupants. However, I feel that I don't have a thing in common with most of them...except maybe being pissed at the System.

But even then, we are not pissed for the same reasons and we certainly don't believe in the same solutions. So where does that leave us? (See the cricket sound video at the beginning).

As I said before, although I totally agree with the principal behind the Occupations, I totally disagree with the way it was done. Again, the media was underestimated. Like children, the media needs to be entertained. You need to give "some" once in a while...but not all at once.

I think this is all the result of a magical way of thinking: we don't need to organize this, it's just going to "happen" as we go along, an inner voice will lead us (it seems the only voice is the sound of the cricket), we don't need a leader, we don't need a uniform strategy, we don't need a media spokesperson.

From the get-go, I thought it was naive. Did we really expect that things would just "happen", that we would sing Kumbaya, that we would only have to join hands with flowers in our hair (well, count me out, I'm completely bald!!).

The media is like a hyperactive child, not staying at one place at a time, running around, expecting something new every day. But it's sneaky and slick too. The media gives the impression that it wants to be your friend, that it's there to help you. But it's not. It's a hyperactive child craving candy. In our case, candy would be new stuff. "You don't have new stuff to give us, we'll find new stuff!!" Media will concentrate on things that have nothing to do with the Occupations: drugs, drug overdoses, fights, rapes, police brutality, violence and/or provocation of some Occupants against the police, Occupants being non respectful of surrounding businesses' restrooms, the outcasts and bizarre people that just happen to be there (without really being a part of it), etc.

The message gets diluted. Then the media focuses on everything but the real message. It starts to sound like the G6, G7 or G8 (did I hear someone scream "BINGO!"??) protests. In those cases, the media concentrated more on the thugs and hooligans than those who were protesting for good reasons.

The result: your chance to make a good first impression is ruined.

The Occupy Movement in general tries to make us believe that everyone gets along. Occupants in the Zuccotti Park are beginning to be concerned about the financial transparency, feeling underrepresented and not having enough daily resources as winter nears. Some are forming their own movement. There would be an Uptown Zuccotti Park and a Downtown Zuccotti Park. Some are calling the latter "The Ghetto", the Uptown being the 15% more educated and/or fortunate...

Is there a Sub-Wall-Street or a Sub-1% amongst the 99%? Is it 15% of the 99%? Or is it 15% of the percentage representing the 99% at the Zuccotti Park? This is getting confusing... One thing is for sure: even if the 99% is protesting against the 1%, it surely doesn't make the 99% homogenous.

Now there are different messages coming from different sites. Some more "hostile" than others. There are talks about blocking roads or bridges...

I'm not an expert at this. But as a member of the 99%, if you protest against the System, the Government or the 1%, I have no problem with that as long as it's peaceful. On the other hand, if you make the 99% pay by preventing them to go to work, or to pick up their children at the daycare on time, the public opinion will suddenly shift. Not only it won't help the 1% acknowledging their faults, but on top of that, the Occupy Movement will lose a lot of public support...including mine.


This week’s lucky number: No lucky number this was unfortunately snowed in...NOT!'s only covered by 17.78 centimeters of snow. The lucky number of the week is the conversion of that number into inches.

Happy and Dandy Clown of the Week: The first snow of the season. Fluffy. Immaculate. Snow crystals swaying as they fall, slowly...dancing to faint Christmas melodies escaping from chimneys, only to lie down on top of each other to form a blanket that covers everything. A blanket that warms our hearts. 30 minutes away from the resurrection of Frosty the Snowman. But only a second away from giggling children.

Sad Clown of the Week: The first snow of the season. People haven't put on winter tires yet. Accidents. Traffic. White shit that rapidly turns to brown (shit) slush that splashes you while you stand on a street corner. Ice covering windshields of vehicles. People slipping and falling on ice...looking like human pretzels. Weathermen, with crazy names like Dusty Sunshine, constantly reminding you it's "only" the first day of snow. One minute away from the resurrection of snowballs...that little brats will aim at your car. A few hours late for work. But only a second away from a staccato melody of creative and graphic swearing. Wishing for the snow to melt into a beautiful liquid called water...that shall finish its journey into the sewers...deservingly so!

Clever song lyrics: "Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there. With open arms and open eyes." - Song: Drive - Artist: Incubus

Cheesy song lyrics: "I'm too sexy for my shirt. So sexy it hurts."  Song: I'm too sexy - Artist: Right Said Fred

Philosophical Quote of the week: "People who talk in metaphors oughta shampoo my crotch." Character: Melvin Udall (wonderfully played by Jack Nicholson) - Movie: As Good as it Gets

Good song for Ron Paul’s campaign: “The more you ignore me.” (Morrissey)

Love letters, comments, opinions and complaints:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The story of an autumn Leaf that fell and went back to its branch

As your are reading this article, we are right in the middle of autumn here in Canada and the northern part of the United States of America. It's such a beautiful season, even if it's a little chilly. The scenery is spectacular as the season changes green leaves to beautiful shades of red and yellow. The downside is that the leaves eventually all fall and most of the trees become completely naked, which is ironic because freezing winter is coming...

Allow me to tell you the story of a Leaf that not only fell to the ground during autumn, but also fell into a hole that looked like a bottomless pit.

This is the story of a man. His name is Ryan Leaf. Although he was a professional American Football player, this is the story, in a nutshell, of a man and his mistakes. You don't need to know anything about American Football. It's a story about great expectations and greater deceptions. In other words, this could very well be the story of you or me. I never thought that one day I would tell his story, in a positive way. He was always perceived as an individual that did just about everything to be disliked by everyone. Here's another auto-destructive person with loads of talent.

He was what we call a stud. He was both a high school and college American football superstar. He probably got all the girls he wanted. He was the toast of the town. He was The Man as in "You tha man!".

To make a long story short, at the 1998 NFL Draft, the first choice over all was between him and Peyton Manning. The Indianapolis Colts had the first choice and they opted for Manning. The Chargers chose Leaf with the second over all pick. Deceiving? Maybe just a little bit...But Leaf got a four years contract worth more than 30 million dollars, one third of it as guaranteed money (a signing bonus).

Leaf was rich. He became a little cocky. Before playing one game, before even winning one game, he told the press bluntly: "I'm looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego".

A couple of trips to the Super Bowl? A parade? Was I the only one that had a strong feeling that it was about to get ugly for our little champion? Although he already had issues with his team about his attitude, he played well during pre-season. Heck, he even won his first two regular season games.

That's when the wheels came off...

He started to throw more interceptions than touchdowns (for those who don't know much about American football, an interception is basically throwing the ball to a member of the opposing team...which is not good at all!). Funny thing, he also started to slip on imaginary banana peels. He would trip and fall on his butt without being push or tackled by an opposing player. Basically, he was inventing new ways to screw up. He was finding new ways to lose games.

Teammates were beginning to lose confidence. Sports reporters were murmuring words like bust. Pundits were saying Payton Manning was the real deal. Was Leaf spending too many nights partying in Vegas?

The pressure on the young man seamed, at the time, to be unbearable. The bubble was about to burst. That's where we got to know the dark side of Ryan, as you can get a taste it in this video:

Ryan was carrying such a load. Any stupid question from the media was interpreted as an insult. He was young, immature and throwing tantrums at will.

His worst fault? Being rich at such a young age (and being so immature). It gave him the illusion that he was entitled to something. Fans didn't see it that way. It was more the other way around: Ryan Leaf owed them something...for all the money he got.

But his problems didn't end with that. They were only beginning. He got a serious shoulder injury. Then he got into an argument with the Chargers General Manager, his boss. He was suspended and fined. Back from injury, his performances were terrible and he was released by the Chargers. For all the money he was paid, Ryan gave them only four wins in three years. It was a disaster.

After his release, he leaped from team to team. The downward spiral only continued until he hit rock bottom and decided to call it quits.

He then found a "job", as a volunteer, as a quarterbacks coach with West Texas A&M University, a small Division II college. He found a way to mess that up too. Addicted to pain killers, he tried to get some of those pills from the university football players. He was forced to resign (as a volunteer!!).

As if it wasn't enough, he got deeper in his mess (see the video):

Spearing you the legal details, after pleading guilty, he got 10 years of probation and a fine. All of the sudden, he became a joke, a running gag (see video for an example):

Happy ending? You betcha!!! He got into drug rehab which seems to have worked out for him. He understood that Ryan Leaf didn't mean much in Canada, so he moved to Vancouver. Great place for a new start. He got a normal job, and occasionally works for sports radio. And despite being on the right track, last June, he had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain stem (It simply never ends for Ryan...).

Now, he enjoys not to be the superstar stud anymore. He also got a book deal for a three books to be written about his football career and personal life, the first of which was released at the beginning of November 2011. He's now in the business of helping others about that for a transformation?

"How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?"
- Song: Blowing in the wind - Artist: Bob Dylan

In Leaf's case, I can't tell you if Leaf became a man. But one thing is for sure, figuratively speaking, he must have travelled 3/4 of the roads on Google Maps. And for him to show, humbly, signs of change, is remarkable and almost miraculous. Let's just say that almost everyone threw away the towel with regards to Leaf. This story reminds us that we are alone in this life and that it all starts by loving what and who you are.

But you know what? When you really think about it, this story is not about Ryan Leaf. In truth, this story is a tribute to second chance, even if sometimes it seems unlikely. At one point or another in our lives, we all need a second chance.


This week’s lucky number: The clue...You go on a trip to Canada, more precisely in the province of Quebec. You stop at a convenience store. You buy two soft drinks ($2.50 x 2) and six packs of jawbreakers ($0.19 x 6). The answer is the total amount it will cost you. (Bonus clue...don't forget to add the two sales taxes that sum up to 14%).

Clever song lyrics: "We can't afford to be neutral on a moving train." - Song: Deer Dance - Artist: System of a Down

Cheesy song lyrics: "My only addiction has to do with the female species. I eat 'em raw like sushi" - Song: Rico Suave - Artist: Gerardo (Question: you eat them with chopsticks, soya sauce and wasabi?? Dude!!!???)

Sad (and shameful) Clown of the Week:  Joe Paterno. He was a "God" at Penn State. He was a "God" in Happy Valley, PA. There is NO WAY he didn't know about Jerry Sandusky "horseplaying" in the showers. Shame on you. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Joe.

Happy and Dandy Clown of the Week: Barack Obama. Giggling, as he watches the The Republican Party Presidential Primaries.

Great idea for a movie sequel: In the first movie, a teenage girl, who moved to Washington State, found her life radically changed when she fell in love with what she thought was a vampire. In the sequel, she finds out that the boyfriend is not a vampire but only a pale skin dude, with a bad case of psoriasis and genital herpes, that could not pull off fake fangs from a previous Halloween costume.

Something a Martian might say if he came to visit earth: Hey! Dude! The Republican Party Presidential Primaries is a spin-off of Saturday Night Live, right? It makes fun of politicians on how stupid they can be, right? That Rick “oops” Perry character is hilarious.

Good song for Rick Perry’s campaign: “Oops! I did it again.”

Love letters, comments, opinions and complaints:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A yellow card for inappropriate behaviour

A little more serious this week. But we still have the Hodgepodge at the end of this article...on a lighter note.

Man has a tendency to fear the unknown. In reaction to that fear, Man has created many mechanisms to protect himself. One of the modern mechanisms is without a doubt cocooning. With television, the Web, including social media, eBay, on-line shopping, food ordering services, who needs to go out? In the comfort of our living room, we are almost immune (or we pretend we are) against mugging, diseases, rudeness and unpleasantness of other people, accidents, etc.

Furthermore, Man is unable to live with the fact that he can't explain why something happened. And the fact that Man cannot fathom something that occurred will sometimes motivate him to push beyond his limits. In the end, he may even surpass his own expectations. Inspired to conquer the unknown, he may conquer his fears as well.

However, on the darker side, when he is a little lazier (as many of us are), Man may be tempted to invent, imagine or improvise an explanation. That's where it gets messy. That's where it also gets interesting. Our Modern Circus, as we know it now, loves to conceive and produce stories to reassure itself. If the answer is unknown, we'll figure out some plausible explanation, then we'll pretend it's real. We'll repeat it so many times that we'll believe it and then, we'll sell it to the people. And they will buy it too (until they find out the truth...but how long 'til they find out?).

Replace "we" by the media and you get what we see every day on the news. The media will find some wacky, wacko, pseudo-expert to make us swallow the explanation that suits any problem. "Ma! If they said it on the TV, I reckon it must be true!" (to read with your best southern accent).

Someone gets killed in your neighbourhood. Of course it's a tragedy. The media implies that you could be next. "Ma! I reckon we need to find tha killa, ma" (again with your best southern accent).

But if they find only a body...but they are no leads. "We need to find a culprit". No evidence against anyone? Media publishes polls on TV saying that the "man on the street" thinks that the first guy that the police interrogated looks suspicious. He lives alone, doesn't talk much, a little shy and anti-social, doesn't seem too intelligent, doesn't care about his general appearance. In other words, he would have no chance to be selected on American Idol (probably the only thing he would be guilty of). If they had to bet money on it, they would bet against him.

Silently, people think that its not such a bad idea. Police wouldn't mind saying they solved it. A scapegoat would be so convenient. Until we catch a culpable party, people live in fear, in the unknown. Like a magician, the "scapegoat" will transform the unknown into a (pseudo) known. Everyone will finally sleep at night. But we would have to cross our fingers the real killer doesn't start killing again...

This is dangerous stuff. When it comes to condemn a person, it's not a "democracy" in a sense that it should not be determined by a poll. Leave polls to TMZ (where you can vote on whether Kim Kardashian should go through with her divorce...). If a person is innocent until proven guilty, I guess it all has to be based on evidence. It's sort of scientific. There's a method to it. It surely has nothing to do with what the "man on the street" thinks.

Please watch the next video. It's a little long, so please forward it to 6:30:

That was the street reaction to the verdict in the Conrad Murray trial was found guilty on one count of involuntary manslaughter of pop star Michael Jackson. A jury found Murray guilty. I'm pretty sure justice was served.

But in the video, at 6:30, you actually hear a crowd cheering out loud. Folks, this is not American Idol or The X Factor. This is not about cheering for your favorite singer, nor is it about cheering for your favorite sports team. Let's keep this in perspective.

I guess the crowd was composed of Michael Jackson fans. But the verdict won't bring him back. The verdict will have absolutely no direct effect on the fans lives either. What is there to cheer about? A man going to prison. Is that what it all comes down to? Is that what we've become as people? I'm satisfied that Conrad Murray will go to jail for what he's done. Nevertheless, the crowd going wild doesn't seem appropriate in my book. It seemed like they were convinced before the trial, before seeing the evidence. Could they influence the jury before the verdict? This ain't right.

Are we too much accustomed to contests like Dancing with the stars and do we feel we have to react that way to any event? Is it the anonymous factor...the Twitter factor? It's easy to take an anonymous stand, without assuming the responsibility of the choice. Some people are referring to it as an historic moment. Really?

Worst part is that it seems to be a new trend (see the video).

If you didn't know the video was about the reaction to Osama Bin Laden's death confirmation, when you hear the "USA! USA! USA!" chant, you could swear that it was a soundbite taken during the Olympics. A sigh of relief would certainly be in order. But cheers, chants and celebrations? Chauvinism. We are not playing video games here where soldiers that die are fictional. After the thousands of American soldiers that died during that war, out of respect for them, I don't see how we can be in a celebrating mood. The troops are still at war. And even if an evil man was killed, Evil (including terrorism) didn't die with him. People in other countries cheer when something bad happens to USA? Ok. But do we have to lower ourselves to their level?

On that day, I had a sigh of relief, I prayed for all the troops that died and for all the ones that are still out there. I keep my cheers for my beloved New England Patriots, during football games...where cheers belong.

In sports, you get penalties or yellow cards for unsportsmanlike misconduct or unnecessary roughness. We should be able to give those in real life, for every day behaviour. Today, I would give a penalty for inappropriate behaviour to all of the above-mentioned people.

Remember this wonderful quote by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts."


This week’s lucky number: The clue...sept (in French).

Clever song lyrics: "Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came." - Song: Eleanor Rigby - Artist: The Beatles.

Cheesy song lyrics: "Mmm bop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop, Ba du." - Song: MMMBop - Artist: Hanson. (Ah! Goddammit! I'm stuck with that stupid song in my head now!!! Grrr...).

Bad rock group names for Herman Cain:  1-Raising Cain; 2-Herman & the Victims; 3-Grope'n'fondle.

Bad idea for a movie: A young millionaire woman, named Kim, marries her boyfriend, makes money with the marriage itself, then files for divorce after 90 days...then tries to make money with the divorce too (wait a minute...I heard about that before somewhere...).

Good idea for a movie sequel: A girl, named Kim, bumps her head, then realizes she has no talent whatsoever, decides to abandon everything she's got and becomes a nun in Tibet. She brings her talentless friend, named Paris, with her.

Suggestion of a bad musical combination comparable to Metallica and Lou Reed: Willie Nelson and Motörhead.

Appropriate song for the Penn State University scandal soundtrack: "Say it ain't so, Joe" (Re: Joe Paterno)

Love letters, comments, opinions and complaints:

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Next question

"There are no stupid questions, just stupid people."
- Mr. Garrison, South Park

It may sound harsh. But it's also very true. For instance, take the following question: "How much do you weight?"

Right off the bat, it sounds like a reasonable question when asked by a doctor to a patient. The same question could be asked to a male, or even a female, athlete for statistical purposes.

In the wrong situation, a normal question asked with poor judgment (by a moron) could drastically become a tragedy. For instance, if a guy asks an slightly overweight woman "How much do you weight?", on a first date, with a face that says "This is a test that you might fail", that could be classified as screwy. Or if a guest at a wedding would ask the bride, while dancing with her, "Geez, how much do you weight?", you would have to agree with Mr. Garrison's theory on this one too.

It's not the question. Therefore, it has to be the (stupid) people.

"How do you feel?". Sounds like a nice question. It could be great to ask your significant other "How do you feel, sweetie?". They same question could very well be asked to a colleague who comes back to work after a prolonged stay at the hospital.

However, the wide world of sports offers plenty of examples proving Mr. Garrison right when reporters ask the same question: "How do you feel?". Someone has to do something in order to prevent (stupid and desperate) sports reporters from repetitively asking that question.

My immediate reaction as a sports fan is "What a lazy and pointless question" (and many other words before, in between and after that I don't need to put here to make my point).

If the question is asked to athletes or coaches after a defeat, or even worse, after a terrible lopsided blowout defeat, I'm no rocket scientist, but I can tell you exactly how they feel. They feel like shit. They are angry. They are devastated. They are sad. They feel like they've been ran over by a steamroller. There is no point in asking them that question.

Asking athletes and coaches "How do you feel?" in those situations is an easy short cut to bad and irresponsible journalism. It's like showing live images of a sunny day and asking a meteorologist "according to your expertise, is it raining?". Isn't it obvious enough?

Duh! What answer did the reporter expected in that case? "I felt good about the fans cheering as I was being pulled out. Never felt better. As a matter of fact, it was a milestone in my career. A dream come true". It's like shoving your dog's muzzle in its own vomit to make it understand it was sick (the dog knows...and so do the athletes and coaches). This is not journalism. It's humiliation. It's making the new instead of reporting it.

I can hear sports reporters barking at me "What do you want us to ask them, smart ass?". Well, have you ever thought of not doing those (stupid and useless) on-the-spur-of-the-moment interviews? You are predictable as sunset. You are boring. And sports are enjoyable to watch (as a true unscripted reality show!!!). But, all in all, they're not that important when you don't take them out of their context. In other words, there's no need to over analyze them like WWI & WWII or the JFK assassination. Just watching sports does the job.

Or, how about when a reporter asks a coach, either after a quarter (basketball), a period (hockey) or at halftime (soccer or American football), whose team is losing the game, what's his plan or strategy for the rest of the game. To all those reporters, as a sports fan, although I'm not an expert, I think I can answer once and for all that (stupid) question:

1- We'll try to stop the other team from scoring; and
2- We'll try to score more goals or points than the other team.

The coach won't reveal his specific strategy. Therefore, the answer I provided is the only answer the reporter will get. Or maybe he or she could get this answer:

You just gotta love that guy! Completely incomprehensible but you know it comes straight from the heart.

I was wondering how we could have a revenge on them. Simple. After one of the above mentioned reporters had a poor sexual performance in bed with the significant other, I would surprise him or her and come straight from under the bed with a live microphone and ask bluntly "How do you feel? How do you plan to rebound from such a disastrous and deceiving performance? Do you think it's the result from a lack of effort or it's the direct consequence of your lack of athletic abilities? Or both".

But I have something even better in store. For every dumb reporter, the answer should be a Bob Knight (the punch is at the end of the clip).

That was dumb...and dumber. He deserved a Bob Knight.

But to all the you sports reporters out there, don't worry about it. Cheer yourselves up. We enjoy your annual Super Bowl Stupid Questions, such as "How long have you been a black quarterback?" asked to Doug Williams, the Washington Redskins quarterback in 1988 that also happened to be black. The reply by Williams was brilliant and priceless "I've been a quarterback since high school. I've always been black."

One other thing that might cheer sports reporters (that ask stupid questions) would be that you are not the only ones to do so. Political reporters, political "experts" and pundits like Glenn Beck do too.

Here's my stupid question of the week: What color would a smurf turn if you choked it? (Can I hear you ask "Why would anyone want to choke it?").

Well, it's the end of this blog article. I have only one more (stupid) question for you: "How do you feel?".


This week’s lucky number: The clue…A Frank Sinatra song: When I was  _____teen.

Clever song lyrics Part I: "Growing up it all seems so one-sided. Opinions all provided. The future pre-decided." - Song: Subdivisions - Artist: Rush.

Clever song lyrics Part II: "But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth." - Song: Subdivisions - Artist: Rush.

Cheesy song lyrics: "And I know that it must be the woman in you that brings out the man in me." - Song: Feels Like The First Time - Artist: Foreigner.

Signs you have to run for your life : While walking on a sidewalk, a white Econoline-type van stops besides you. The side door of the truck slides open. Inside, there’s a half dozen of black dressed and hooded men.

Things you can’t scream before a plane takes off : “Oh! No!...We’re all gonna die!!!!”.

New term to describe how Tony La Russa managed his bullpen during the World Series: The Russa Roulette.

Love letters, comments, opinions and complaints: