Hey Canada, This Sucks.

28 04 2011

Towle was named the Ottawa Citizen's Male Athlete of the Week in October 2009. (Photo credit: Bruno Schlumberger)

It’s hard to expect much from a nation that allows residents to wait for hours on end (sometimes a whole day!) in emergency rooms across the country, but I had hope for the great state up north before reading this Yahoo Sports article yesterday.

Canadian teen Andrew Towle, 19, a student at Ottawa Technical Learning Centre, made a name for himself in competitive (cross country) running — and hoped to best his second-place showing at last year’s national conference next season.

Unfortunately, the Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association has been barred from competing. Towle has not been deemed ineligible because of his age, but instead for his grade status– he has technically been a high school student for five (going on six) years.  OFSAA regulations state that students can only be active in competition for five years.

Towle, who has a mild form of autism, did not participate in athletics before his third year at OTLC. 

The Globe and Mail, the leading newspaper in Canada, printed three letters to the editor last week after readers of Towle’s situation.
One such concerned reader, Chris Wightman, said “Andrew Towle’s personal triumph and rise to athletic and academic success exemplifies the positive effects of sport in kids’ lives. The additional dimension regarding his autism is even more inspiring. 
Yet at their showcase athletics event, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations is somehow equally determined to stand behind flawed eligibility rules. A rule that excludes by starting the eligibility stopwatch on academic participation, not athletic, seems pretty myopic. Starting high school and starting high school sports aren’t necessarily related.
It is a shame Mr. Towle’s inspiring efforts won’t be showcased further by the very organization that exists to do so.”

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It is unfortunate that Towle is being held back, given that his success on the track field lead to improvements in his social and academic lives as well. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that the five-year eligibility rule doesn’t begin when the student first enters the sport, instead of when they are first enrolled at a particular school.

I hope the folks up in Ottawa and all readers of the Globe and Mail make a ruckus and get this decision overturned! Andy Towle deserves the chance to shine and to make the most of his senior year — just like everyone else does.

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Related items :
Washington football player, who has Down Syndrome, scores winning touchdown
– Family depicted in Lifetime film, “Miracle Run,” grow up: Checking in with Corrine Morgan-Thomas and her twins
Comraderie fills Pate Stadium in Laurinburg, NC as 2011 Special Olympics begin





Musical Icon Dabbles as Restaurateur

28 04 2011
Jon Bon Jovi can add equal-opportunity restaurateur to his long list of charitable ventures — which includes activity with the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, and advocacy on behalf of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation.
 
 

Jon Bon Jovi, second from left, at the 2009 ribbon cutting for a Newark, NY housing project (Photo credit: The Star-Ledger)

 
The new eatery will follow in the footsteps of the “SAME” Cafe, in Denver, CO, and “One World” Cafe, located in Salt Lake City, UT: which feature absolutely no prices for their meals.  Instead, patrons are encouraged to “pay what they can.”
 
WABC reports that the community planning board in Red Bank, NJ unanimously approved the project, which could open as early as July.

At Bon Jovi’s establishment, a suggested donation is $10– more if you can afford it. Additional funds raised will go toward paying other people’s bills.  An alternative to monetary contributions is volunteer work– pitching in at the place!

The restaurant, which has yet to be named, will feature healthy, locally grown foods. The building that will house this venture is a former auto-repair business. It stands among several commercial structures in development for an update.  Plans for the restaurant are said to include limited parking, so as not to disturb the few residential propertys adjacent to the vacancies, as well as a garden.





Has Lady Gaga Peaked?

24 04 2011

I suppose there have been several red flags in the short career of Stefani Germanotta, known the world over as Lady Gaga.  But who could have known that the outrageous fashions and manic lyrics were just expressions of a deeper, much more complex series of issues with herself, organized religion, and society as a whole.

With her latest single, “Judas,” drawing controversy before it’s even officially released, Gaga’s “Born This Way” continues to dominate the charts and our airwaves.

Personally, I was let down by “Born This Way.”  After months upon months of buzz for the title track of her junior effort, and a convoluted premiere at the Grammy’s in late February (see below), I was underwhelmed by the presentation. The music itself was not nearly as layered and technical as some of her other work, and the lyrics — which are fairly profound and topical — get lost in the showiness she has to maintain.

The question of whether Gaga has taken her affection for the maven of envelope-pushing, Madonna, a little far and (inadvertently?) copied the 1989 hit “Express Yourself.”  Comparisons of the two songs have been popping up for months, online and in print, and someone finally had the balls to ask the new Queen of Pop what she thought of the implications.

I totally understand the concept of a creative process, and I respect Gaga for putting herself out there. But there is definitely a line between what is (performance) art and what is publically marketable; if Stefani Germanotta loses the understanding and appreciation of consumers with her ranting and higher-than-thou attitude, she loses what makes her Gaga.

I’ve listened to both songs several times over, and I hear more than a few similarities… basically “Born This Way” is jut a faster pace than “Express Yourself” but the underlaying notes are the saaaame! 

<<Click Here to Listen for Yourself!>>

Gaga saying that she hears no overlap, considers no comparison, is like Vanilla Ice saying he didn’t rip off Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” for his one-hit wonder “Ice Ice Baby” in 1990. 

It’s obvious to everyone else, but some people just have to live in denial. The idea that their own success has piggybacked off the hard work of others is infathomable.

I consider this the crossroads in Gaga’s career, if she keeps up this ridiculous behavior and clings to the idea that her ‘Little Monsters’ will support every single thing she does or says, she will ascend to the level of nonsensical jabbering previously displayed by Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Prince. They have all maintained consistent fan followings, and continue to cash in on events, but they are arguably no where near the level of fame and talent they used to be.

Lady Gaga is set to appear as the musical guest on this season’s finale of Saturday Night Live (May 21), so in the event that she rips up a picture of the Pope — ala Sinead O’Connor — don’t say I didn’t warn you!





What The Hell, Kate Hudson?

24 04 2011

 Kate Hudson. Kaaaaaate Hudson.

 With the Oscar-winning role of Penny Lane in Almost Famous as distant a memory as razor scooters or Juicy Couture sweatpants (all of which date back to 2000), I find myself less and less likely to jump in and sing her praises. Honestly, I’m embarassed when friends skim though my DVD collection, stopping to comment on the fact that I own How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days.

 That foray into rom-com land in early 2003 was forgivable — as Hudson played the adorable, clumsy, passionate Andie Anderson with just enough depth to make her endearing and relatable. Also, the role of

 But it’s 2011 and Hudson has a slew of flops and sleepers on her resume, going from bad to worse: Alex & Emma. You, Me and Dupree. Fool’s Gold. My Best Friend’s Girl.

The vapid, stereotypical, over-the-top Bride Wars (2009) seemed like it would be the breaking point, that we would have to accept that Hudson had become one of the Hollywood types that doesn’t get better with age, but rather, does this job for the hours and the paycheck. (Which is a hefty one, Hudson receives about $8 mil per film)

I read good things about her performance in 2010’s The Killer Inside Me co-starring Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba, but that movie went right to DVD after making the rounds at the Berlin, Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals.
No amount of positive buzz could make me watch this intensely violent psychological thriller, whose budget was about $13 million and US gross a little more than $1 mil over a six-week period. Rough.

Maybe the new baby and part-time relocation across the pond with beau Matt Bellamy will give her the break she needs and renewed focus audiences deserve.

To drive home my point, I will share with you the latest Hudson venture — Something Borrowed, opening May 6.

Fingers crossed that Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski can save this one; because Kate Hudson as the hot but indecisive and manipulative best friend is getting old. Just like she is.





Dear Vh1, I watched and now I’m discussing.

19 04 2011

The drunken, overtanned, self-righteous cast of Vh1’s new series Mob Wives are a little much to handle, even for reality TV.   Renee, the Mafia Princess; Drita and Carla, the Single Moms by way of Felon Spouses; and Karen, the Rat’s Daughter; all made for some seriously overdramatic Sundy night television.
By appearances, these are four fur-laden, hard-talkin’ gangster groupies who would’ve been kicked outta the Bada Bing faster than… well, faster than I can finish this Sopranos analogy.

Speaking of,  I think that the concept of Mob Wives comes too long after the close of HBO smash The Sopranos, which ended production in 2007, to really cash in on the American public’s fascination with the mafia.

I had two thoughts while watching the 10pm re-run of the Mob Wives premiere:

1.  Every single one of the Italians who huffed and puffed over Jersey Shore better be as, if not more, upset about these four broads and their famiglias.  
The Shore crew got nothin’ on these Staten Island women- they curse, drink, talk shit and fight more in the first episode than the fist-pumpers did all summer! If Jersey Shore made people perceive all Italians as sloppy and spoiled, Mob Wives will typecast those same Italians all as criminals.

2. Snitching is bad. Rats ruin families. Sooo what the hell kind of disgrace are these women bringing by being filmed discussing their lives so prominently connected to an unspeakable lifestyle?
This “Don’t Judge Me Cuz You’re Not Me” attitude doesn’t fly, because they’ve volunteered to be on television! Signing on for a reality show puts a face on the organized crime epidemic that is obviously alive and well in the boroughs on NYC, so people are going to draw conclusions and form opinions about you, your family and how you’re raising children in such an environment.

The format of the show, depicting each “wife” as an inmate — sentenced to hard time keeping the family together while their men do a stint in the pen — and using surveillance photos to transition from situation to situation, is about the freshest thing to hit the dishevelled network (are they about music? reality shows? award shows and specials? cultural countdowns?) in years.

The four women are seemingly all bravado, but there is a certain depth to their mindset that needs to be examined. How anyone could believe that the whack-and-lie process is one to be admired or revered is baffling, but these women are sure to continue preaching about loyalty, judgement and how hard they have it — while wearing lynx coats, designer heels, extensions, perfectly manicured nails and professionally done make-up — sitting inside their gated mini-mansions on (presumably near the upscale Todt Hill section of) Staten Island.

The NY Daily News said this series “should sleep with the fishes,” but overall, Mob Wives is sure to be a trashy little pleasure for the under 45 crowd — far surpassing the shallow Real Housewives.

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UPDATE : Ratings for the flagship episode are in! The first two airings, at 8 and 10 pm, brought in a combined 2.2 million viewers. Other shows kicking off on Sunday were Audrina, following the ‘hectic Hollywood life’ of Audrina Patridge formerly of MTV’s The Hills (1.2 million viewers) and Saddle Ranch, a hard look at the hot mess of a business and the staff of a chophouse/bar on the Sunset Strip (1 million viewers).





‘Harry Potter’ and the Death Penalty

6 04 2011

Audiences at CinemaCon this weekend got a sneak peek of the final Harry Potter installment, and it will definitely be as epic as you’re hoping.  The seventh and final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was so dense (US version is 759 pages long) it had to be sectioned into two screenplays.
The first half hit theaters in November and will be released on DVD April 15. 
Part two is due on 2-D and 3-D screens near you this summer, July 15.

Warner Brothers distribution

The story ends for beloved child-heroes Harry, Ron and Hermoine, as “Hallows” chronicles the definitive battle between good and evil.  And the wizarding world will be forever changed.

While the seven volumes of Potter have dealt significantly with the concepts of death, loss, oppression and courage; “Hallows” in particular, although it is said to be one of the shortest screen adaptations, is PG-13 material.  (Part 1 received such a rating because of “intense action violence and frightening images.”)
Unequivocally the most violent addition of the series, audiences will see good-guys like Remus Lupin, Fred Weasley and Nymphodora Tonks die for the cause. Harry too will be hit with the Killing Curse (explained below), but we rightly hold out hope for he who may be the greatest wizard of all time.

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All this anticipated violence and struggle and death… and the film is still expected to take in three to five times it’s production budget. (The lowest grossing Potter flick, “Prisoner of Azkaban,” made a mere $795 million globablly and had a $130 million budget.)
We eat this stuff up!!   It makes me wonder…   If executing prisoners was as easy as it is in the Harry Potter movies, would people be more apt to support it?

The ‘Potter’ saga has introduced audiences to two methods of magic by which a wizard may kill or be killed.

The first, one of three so-called Unforgivable Curses, kills the victim dead.  Avada Kedavra, the killing curse, manifests as a bolt of green light from the wand of the conjurer. Following a reform by the Ministry of Magic in 1717, the consequence of using Avada Kedavra is a life sentence in Azkaban prison– which happens to be guarded by the creatures who are paramount to the second method of execution.

The Killing Curse’s alternative, and arguably the more cruel practice, is the Dementor’s Kiss.  A process by which large, cold, bony, hooded creatures suck out one’s soul. The recipient does not die by Kiss alone, they are merely reduced to an empty shell.  At one point Headmaster Dumbledore refers to the act of having one’s soul sucked out as “a fate worse than death.”

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This is a silly conversation, maybe, but I can’t help but wonder whether people have a bigger problem with the ‘approved’ methods of execution, or the act of taking a life itself.

There are enough people who complain about violence in films, and the $15 billion franchise used in this discussion has not been devoid of controversy, but the so-called anti-Christian concepts and glorification of the occult are what parent groups focus on the most.

Just a few days ago the New York Times featured a story about yet another side to the constitutionality debate of capital punishment.  Something not often considered in the argument is how many people are involved with the prison system and execution process, specifically– people who will join the nation’s 8.8% unemployment rate if and when state’s overturn the ability for corporal sentences.

Many argue that capital punishment only perpetuates the violence so rampant in our culture, to which I must ask: How?  Execution gives us the opportunity to rid your streets of the rapists, murderers and drug-addled thieves who are committing crimes.

I feel as though those complaining about the volumes of human depravity have misplaced anger. People who should be locked up are allowed to get out to steal, rape and assault again.  Prison overcrowding and accelerated release negate any or all efforts at deterrence or rehabilitation.  Why do they get out? Because there are spaces being taken up by inmates who committed even more horrific acts and were told to sit in what is basically ‘time out’ for the rest of their lives.

I’m almost convinced that the ways in which prisoners are executed in the US is what gets people to the other side of the fence. The “Wishful Thinking” side, I call it.  The US has the highest crime rate of any country, and statistically we are fifth on a list comparing countries for volume of individuals executed (China is first).

I’m sure this all sounds very pragmatic and a little calous, but I know I’m not going to change my mind about capital punishment.   If someone raped and murdered my sister, my cousin or friend, there is not a chance in hell I would want the tax dollars of my family or anyone else going toward sustaining the offender’s life. 
You have to take the emotion out of it, right and wrong do not depend on a judge’s mood that day, laws are finite.   If someone gives themself the right to end a life, they’re giving the authorities even more right to take theirs.

What do you think?  Would you be more likely to support a statute for capital offenses and sentences if you knew that the inmate’s eventual demise would be as easy as a twist and flick of the wrist?  No chemicals, no electricity, no chamber, no bullets; Just a will and a wand.





New Miley Doll… for Adults.

5 04 2011

 Unlike the Vanity Fair photoshoot, the leaked cellphone pictures, the bong video, and the age-inappropriate clothing and performances, the latest Miley Cyrus scandal isn’t her fault.

This most recent chapter in an epic novel of Miley missteps, comes in the form of an inflatable, laytex companion marketed by Pipedream Productions.

I hadn’t heard about this controversial new product until a friend blogged about it for Q103.  A little while later I was swimming in blogs and statements regarding the “Finally Mylie! Love Doll.”

On Amazon.com, the doll is going for $27.45 and is eligible for Super Saver shipping.  Pipedream spokesman Kevin Johnson says that demand has been so high since the latest in their “Super Star Series–” which includes inflatable likenesses of Jessica Simpson, Jessica Alba, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera– they have sold out in under 48 hours.

Johnson is aware of the online rumors that Cyrus’ camp will pursue legal action, but has yet to receive a cease & desist order.

The teenybopper is said to be “disgusted” with the item, which reads “Just add air and this teen-queen pole-dancing princess comes of age right before your own eyes!” on the packaging.  (Other punny quips emblazoned on the box are not PG.) 
No doubt papa Billy Ray is outraged, having just gotten his family back on track after a tense fall, unflattering GQ interview and separation from wife Tish.

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Is this just par for the course in the life of an increasingly too-mature-for-her-own-good poptart?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say she deserves to have pervy guys huffing and puffing before, during and after opening the “Mylie” doll… but I’m not entirely surprised it exists.

With her purity ring no doubt somewhere on the floor of Justin Gaston’s car and her dignity buried in the fake sand back on the Hannah Montana beach set, Miley is going to have to either get in on the joke that her ‘career’ is or she’ll have to just make a more sincere effort not be the worst influence for girls age 9-15.

Disney should be making moves to distance themselves (further) from the Cyrus’– not only because of the disparaging comments Billy Ray made in the March issue of GQ, but because the longer they try to save face and support this one-time cashcow the more sour the milk will be when it splashes back in their face.
Some of these Disney girls were just NEVER going to live up to the wholesome, all-American, pure little princess image they have to fit into.  Ex) Lindsay Lohan, Vanessa Hudgens, Demi Lovato.