Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On Wrestling Terminology and Storylines

I had a request to explain some wrestling terms and current feuds so that newcomers to the sport can understand my blog posts. I will do my best. Here I go:

Heel (H): a bad guy in a wrestling match/storyline. The crowd usually boos them.

Face/Babyface (F):  A good guy in a wrestling match/storyline. They are usually cheered by the crowd, except in rare cases like John Cena. Fans boo him even though he is a face.

Heel Turn: when someone mentions a "heel turn", they are talking about a good guy who turns bad.

Face Turn: A "face turn" is when a bad guy turns good.

Promo: When a wrestler speaks to the crowd/other wrestlers either in the ring or behind the scenes.

Crowd Pop: When the crowd gets really loud and excited because of something happening in a wrestling ring, on the entrance ramp or behind the scenes that they can see on the big screen in the arena.

Spot: An incredible move inside or outside the ring by a wrestler.

Current Storylines:

Brodus Clay: Clay (F) just came back after months of being off TV. He is now this funky disco dancer character and his new nickname is "Funkasaurus". He wiggles and dances in the ring.

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho: CM Punk (F) is the WWE Champ right now and Chris Jericho (H) is the bad guy who wants to take Punk's title at Wrestlemania in April. Jericho attacked Punk on Monday (without explaining why) to begin the rivalry between the two. For the next few weeks, there will be speeches about why Jericho attacked him and how much they hate each other and it will lead to a match at Wrestlemania. Punk is witty on the mic and isn't afraid to speak his mind. He also calls himself "the greatest wrestler in the world". Jericho, on the other hand, is very similar. He has a lot of charism and speaking skills and he is awesome in the ring. He also wears a light-up jacket to the ring and I think is mad because Punk practically stole his nickname as "best in the world at what he does".

Triple H (F) vs. Undertaker (F): These two good guys had an epic match at last year's Wrestlemania, which is like the Superbowl of wrestling. Undertaker had not been seen again since then until last night, where he came back to challenge Triple H. They haven't said for sure, but it looks like Undertaker wants a rematch against Triple H and it will probably happen at Mania, where the Undertaker is 19-0. Undertaker is one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, as he has been playing "the deadman" for 20 years. Triple H, on the other hand, has been around for a long time too and is a no-nonsense, kick-your-ass-rather-than-chat guy. He is also - in the storyline world anyway - the COO of the WWE and has a lot of power and influence.

Miz (H) vs. R-Truth (F): These two used to be tag-team partners, but Miz turned on Truth and ended their friendship. Since then, Truth has had a face turn and the two have been arguing and fighting for weeks. They will probably be going at it until Wrestlemania. The Miz is always angry when he speaks and R-Truth plays a crazy, weird, funny character who talks about an imaginary friend called "Little Jimmy" all the time.

John Cena (F) vs. Kane (H): John Cena is the face of the company and the ultimate good guy right now. Think Hulk Hogan in the 1980s. Kane is a big, demonic monster. He has fun destroying opponents. Right now, Kane is trying to get Cena to "embrace the hate" all the fans are showing him when they boo him and turn him bad. Cena and Kane have been fighting for a couple months now and Cena seems to slowly be turning evil week by week. Think of Kane as the Emperor and Cena as Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi.

Ok, that's some of the basics I can think of at the moment. I will add more information if I think of anything. Reading this before reading my forthcoming Royal Rumble and WWE Raw posts will help it all make a bit more sense.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On Monday Night Raw: January 23, 2012

I know it's very late, but here goes the Raw review for the January 23rd show:

In the ring                     12.5/20
CM Punk and John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger:
Ziggler's in-ring charisma is impressive and I think his showing off really brings him to the next level. Cena mocking him was also a nice touch. The match was a good length and had all the usual tag team conventions (pin break ups and crawling to the corner for a tag). I like how once again Ziggler rolled Punk up with the help of Johnny Ace. It gives Ziggler momentum going into the Rumble.

Zack Ryder vs. Kane:
Kane destroyed Ryder again, making Ryder look extremely weak. I don't like Ryder getting little-to-no offence and being used as a pawn to further the Cena-Kane storyline. Terrible match that lacked balance. The only redeeming quality was chokeslamming Ryder through the stage. That was a cool spot.

Jinder Mahal vs. Sheamus:
Another week, another tussle between these two. Same moves in the ring. Same result. Sheamus gets 95% of the offense and wins with the brogue kick. Please WWE creative, think of new rivals for these two.

Brodus "Funkasaurus" Clay vs. Heath Slater:
A third straight one-sided match. No creativity here. Clay showed his limited in-ring skills and didn't even get to show any charisma or dance moves during the match, as it was less than 2 minutes long. Didn't help anyone or help to further build up Clay. Waste of time.

The Miz vs. R-Truth:
Finally, a match worthy of the viewer's time. both competitors got some offense and looked strong. They also got enough time to actually tell a story in the ring. Truth won with the "Little Jimmy (?)" move, knocking Miz out. Good match that was the right length for both competitors to get some shots in.

John Laurinitis vs. CM Punk:
The match didn't really happen, as Laurinitis said he couldn't wrestle. Punk then took out David Otunga, followed by a GTS to Laurinitis.

On the mic:                    8.5/10
I liked CM Punk's Steve Austin-esque promo to start the show. He used strong language to get his point across, but he doesn't have as much fire as Austin and he does ramble a bit too long all the time. His promo after the tag match was a lot better, though.

John Cena's interruption was short and sweet and he is showing that he is turning edgier and becoming a no BS competitor. It's a nice turn to not see him smile or play to the crowd.

John Laurinitis is also showing more skill on the mic. He is sounding more emotional and serious and he is making less verbal mistakes. Nice.

Jericho's Highlight Reel was absolutely perfect. It keeps the silent troll character going and drew more heat, but he gave the fans a bit of a tease by uttering one sentence: "This Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it's gonna be the end of the world as you know it." Ooooohhhh...cryptic. What's going to happen? And he brought out a t-shirt cannon!! Who doesn't want to see what his bizarre character does next?

Cena's mad face after Ryder got massacred was laughable. It was like a 6 year-old trying to look angry.

Miz showed some fire in his promo before his match with R-Truth. He's still got it, but Truth really outshone him with survey results. Classic! Truth is going to be champ one day.

Good little verbal battle between Punk and Laurinitis at the end of the show. I especially liked Punk's Vince MacMahon immitation.

Storylines:                    8/10
Ziggler's win over Punk with the help of Laurinitis again makes people really feel that Ziggler has a good shot at defeating Punk at the Royal Rumble, especially considering Laurinitis will be the ref. He looked even more like the imminent champion when he knocked out and stood over Punk at the end of the show.

Ryder being destroyed by Kane and Eve blaming John Cena help push Cena closer to a possible heel turn and I like the direction this storyline is going. Kane and Cena are going somewhere, but I will repeat that I don't like that it's at Zack Ryder's expense. Ryder is looking soft and people are quickly forgetting he was US Champion a few short weeks ago.

Why does Sheamus keep getting into the ring with Mahal when they are trying to build the Barrett-Sheamus feud? Put them in the ring together already!!

I liked how Miz became the #1 entrant in the Rumble by losing to R-Truth. Now the "awesome one" can go on a long run, only to be thrown out near the end of the Rumble match, thus elevating his character back to main-event status.

Finally, Laurinitis being forced to call the Punk-Ziggler title match at the Royal Rumble down the middle by HHH was an excellent twist, as it makes people wonder if Mr. Ace will be honest or still try to screw the champion. I can't wait to see Hunter and Laurinitis go at it next week. I am hoping they have secretly been in cahoots from the beginning.

Commentary:                    3/5
Same as every week. Some match calling. Some arguing and yelling. Nothing new or special.

Crowd:                     3/5
Not much fire in the crowd on this night. No sustained cheers really, until the end of the show.

Overall:                     35.5/50
This was a show with a few good promos, but the in-ring action left a lot to be desired. Too many short, one-sided non-matches. this was not a super get-ready-for-the-Royal-Rumbe-on-Sunday show, but it added some heat to the Cena-Kane and Punk-Ziggler-Laurinitis feud. Again I wish there was more build towards the Royal Rumble match itself and more promos and matches with Rumble implications. Finally, the crowd reaction was somewhat appropriate. A mild crowd for a mild show.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Liquor Control

There is quite the alcohol-related hullabaloo raised every summer and holiday season in Ontario due to what many consider to be "unfair practices". In order to create a genesis of discussion on the various alcohol-related issues, I will give my take on some of the annual issues. Here goes:

Liquor laws for parks, beaches and other outdoor sites need to be relaxed somewhat. The rules about drinking at outdoor venues have been softened in the past 10 months, but are still a bit too draconian and limiting for my liking. Right now, except for a bit more lenience at outdoor festivals, you can only drink in parks and beaches if there is a roped-off beer tent. Those places get very crowded very fast and don't allow responsible adults the freedom to sit/walk on the beach sipping a drink and don't allow people to relax in their local park with a beer. I

t's true that if there was more freedom to drink in a park or on a beach, there would need to be security around to enforce public intoxication laws, just like in a bar, and that the drinks would have to be kept away from children and teenagers. On the other hand, responsible adults who want to have a drink and enjoy a day on the beach should be allowed, as long as they don't get carried away or drive drunk. I see no harm in that. That is legal in most other countries in the world and works for them. Why not here? Ontarians can drink on campsites, so why not open it up to a few more places?

Secondly, the government should not sell off the LCBO, as it brings in way too much revenue for the province. The link below illustrates the amount of revenue, before taxes, that the LCBO generated for the province between August 2010-August 2011.


The LCBO gave 1.55 billion dollars in net revenue to the government BEFORE TAXES were added last year. That is a hell of a lot of money that couldn't be made up by other funding sources, money which is needed to fund infrastructure programs all over the province. Yes, it's true that there would be a ginormous one-time payment to the Ontario government if McGuinty and friends did sell off the LCBO to private investors, but that's just the problem. It would be a one-time deal and that income would be sorely missed the next year. That's too many dollar bills to throw away every year to sell off the LCBO.

Finally, it is better, in my opinion, to have alcohol controlled in LCBOs and Beer Stores than to allow it to be sold in convenience stores and the like. It would just be too easy for people who are under age to get alcohol if it were sold in convenience and grocery stores. Cigarettes already get into the hands of minors too easily, and who is to say it wouldn't be the same with alcohol?

Advocates of looser alcohol laws also say that liquor prices would drop if alcohol were sold at Mac's and Beckers, but then again there is a higher risk of it getting into the wrong hands and the government would lose over a billion dollars annually on the sale of alcohol.

Right now the province controls alcohol sales and receives 100 % of the profit from it. That same government is also responsible for checking ID's at liquor and beer stores to make sure minors don't get drinks. The government can't afford to lose that revenue stream and we also need someone at least trying to ensure that only responsible adults get access to beer, wine and spirits etc.

OK, your turn. Shoot.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Toronto City Councilors and Joseph Stalin

Rob Ford opened his mouth on live radio a few short hours ago, and what he had to say was nothing short of flabbergasting. Apparently, Josh Matlow, Adam Vaughn and other centre and left-leaning councilors are "two steps left of Joseph Stalin." You can read the Toronto Star article about this at the link below.


Ford was angry because most members of city council didn't support Ford's budget cuts last week and didn't want to get rid of the land transfer tax. So that makes them comparable to a man who killed millions and let millions of others starve and/or suffer? Makes perfect logical sense to me. PERFECT. This is not the dignified behaviour people expect from this city's chief of staff. Sure, Vaughn et. al. are champions of some "communist" ideas like working together to build a better society, but it doesn't make them murderous dictators. It makes them wise and good humanists.

Rob Ford is mayor of Toronto and is supposed to represent the 5 million people that live here. Comments like that make me want to distance myself from him as much as possible. Just because he was defeated in an attempt to remove a tax that brings in millions of dollars for the city whilst not costing a heck of a lot to any individual doesn't give him justification to a temper tantrum. And it gives him no right to make inflammatory, defamatory remarks about fellow politicans. He owes those councilors and the city of Toronto a huge apology and should think before he opens his mouth next. He's just upset because people see through him and his inane ideas.

Well, Mr. Mayor, there aren't many people in this great metropolis that would shed a tear if you took your ball and went home.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Cuts to Nutrition Programs

I felt very angry and disgusted yesterday at work. I was supply teaching at the First Nations' School of Toronto and one of the staff members was talking about the school's nutrition programs. Many programs got saved from the chopping block in Toronto's city budget that was voted on this week, but these important initiatives were not among them.

Essentially, the school - along with every other school in the Toronto District School Board - lost their funding to provide healthy snacks to students. That amounted to $7000 that the First Nations' School will no longer receive. Luckily, a donation of that exact amount of money was made to the school to save the program for this year. But what about future years? And what about the hundreds of other schools around the city that didn't get such a generous donation and can't raise 7 grand through fundraising? I don't know about anyone else, but I find it disgraceful to find money in the budget to pay for a plethora of other programs, but not for food for school children. Where do the priorities for this perplexing government lie?

These nutrition programs are important and must be saved for a variety of reasons. First of all, especially in the case of this particular school, many students come from poor families and don't get much healthy food to eat at home. Breakfast usually ends up being the meal that is skipped most often, meaning that some students have nothing to eat from the time they wake up until lunch time. In extreme cases, they may not have lunch either and might not eat until dinner. Imagine being 6 or 7 and trying to concentrate on academics when you are that hungry. Many of the families at the First Nations' School are not well off and can't afford a lot of food, so many students would be in dire straits without the nourishment they receive at their academic institution. Some pupils even receive school-provided lunches and would be left to starve if these programs are cut.

Additionally, these nutrition programs are a valuable part of the education students are getting at TDSB schools. The fruits and vegetables etc. that are provided daily are examples of healthy snacks that are good for the physical and mental health of students, thus making it easier for learners to achieve good results at school. They also serve as good examples for parents of the types of snacks that students should be eating at home.

It easy for politicians to see they can save millions of dollars by taking away funding for nutrition and food programs at schools. It is easy for them because many of the current administration are business managers who never spend time in schools and never see the huge positive impact providing nutritious meals for students has. I challenge Rob Ford and his inner circle to spend a day at the First Nations' School, or at any of the other schools in the city, and not want to start funding food initiatives again after seeing the faces of starving children who depend on them to satiate their hunger. If he has a shred of compassion and empathy in him, he won't be able to do it.

I will concede that there are well-off neighbourhoods in this city in which the majority of students eat breakfast at home and bring snacks and lunch to eat during the day. They are also often the ones that can fundraise to run nutrition programs for those that don't bring their own food to school with government funding. On the other hand, there are a great many neighbourhoods in which the people are mostly middle class or live below the poverty line. The latter is in the majority and it is for these people and their children that the city started funding healthy eating initiatives for.

Let's not let the city save money on the backs of the poor any more. Let's give them a chance to succeed in life by giving them a good education and a good start to life, including the nutrition they need to maximize their academic potential. It really makes me furious to think that the "haves" are able to make decisons that will directly hurt the "have nots" without losing any sleep over it.

The municipal government can't get away with this outrage. It is just not right to take food out of the mouths of needy children. It is time to campaign to get funding restored to nutrition and food programs in Toronto schools. Who's with me?

Friday, January 20, 2012

On the Death of SOPA and PIPA?

Good news!! Today the U.S. Senate and Congress delayed votes on SOPA and PIPA, saying that they need to rethink them after massive internet and real-world protests over the past few weeks. A link to the BBC story on this matter is posted below.


The internet is not out of the woods yet, however. The bills still may be voted on in the future, and a new bill named OPEN is being worked on as we speak. At least this time an open dialogue with the internet community is being held before OPEN comes up for vote. Hopefully this bill will help eliminate internet piracy without crushing sites like Wikipedia and without threatening free speech.

Either way, the news received today was good. I am sure we will soon see what the next battlefield turns out to be...

Thursday, January 19, 2012


So, the great battle of our time has begun. It will be fault on a digital battlefield and will feature the US government and major corporations like Universal and Viacom against people of all stripes and colours all over the world. The weapons will be firewalls, website shutdowns, lawsuits and massive advertising campaigns.

The US government has drafted two pieces of legislation, SOPA and PIPA for short, that claim to target internet piracy of copyright music, movies and the like. The problem is that the legislation is way too vague and gives companies and the government power to shut down any site or Youtube video that they claim infringes on copyright in any small way. So, even if you have a link to a video that is deemed piracy on your website, the whole thing can be shut down.

Even more dangerous is the censorship of discourse, dissent, criticism and free speech that these bills would make possible. It would make it too easy for a website that questioned the government or a major corporation be shut down on the flimsy, false grounds that it infringed some copyright somewhere. Essentially, the internet would be neutered as much as modern TV is. People can't let this happen, as the internet has become a place where real, uncensored news and information can be found, where grass-roots movements can be organized and where corporate and government agendas can be seen through and fought against.

The video below is a really hilarious-yet-frighteningly accurate portrayal of Hitler reacting to news of SOPA and PIPA.

Wikipedia, yes THAT Wikipedia could be shut down due to "copyright violations" if these pieces of controversial legislation pass the House, Senate and White House. Not good. The world, not just the U.S., would suffer from the loss of these sites.

SOPA and PIPA must be fought and defeated. They would give the American government and media companies too much power and would be a victory for corporate interests over freedom of speech and information. People have fought for decades for the right to protest government policies and the right to speak and act freely. Now people must fight for the right to blog, use Wikipedia, Youtube and Facebook, criticize governments and corporations online and give our free and honest opinoins on the internet.

If SOPA and PIPA are passed, what could be next? If the government and media companies see that they can get away with this much censoring, what is to stop them trying to quell all decent by taking away other forms of information sharing and free speech? In a time when China is slowly opening up to the world and allowing more information into the country (to a point, anyway), why is the United States going in the opposite direction and trying to enact Communist-style media/information censorship and propaganda? Because it threatens the power of the wealthy and multi-national corporations.

Well, one thing is sure. The revolution of the 99% has begun and it won't end until guarantees to protect internet freedom are in place and the world's wealth and decision-making power is shared much more equally among the 7 billion people on this planet.

This is my opinion and I am very passionate about this topic. Post your comments below and get the discussion going.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On The Toronto City Budget

This is a happy (mostly) day, as Toronto's 2012 budget was passed yesterday and excluded most of Mayor Rob Ford's proposed cuts!! Homeless shelters, TTC services, public daycares and swimming pools, among other things, were saved from the chopping block by an omnibus motion tabled by councillor Josh Colle. Read more in the article below.


To me, this is a victory for common non-partisan politics due to the fact that members of the left, centre and right negotiated and together came up with a plan to save services and community programs that are essential to many Torontonians, especially in middle and lower-class neighbourhoods. In his first few months as mayor, Rob Ford thought it was going to be easy to sweep in and make disastrous cuts to many city departments and services. He didn't count on council and the public fighting back, though. As soon as people woke up and smelled that not every item on the gravy train was ready for the garbage bag, they turned against the bully and turned instead toward empathy and reason.

Council also voted on a 2.5 % property tax increase, which only adds another $60 dollars on the average home. 60 bucks for families is something, but the millions in extra revenues it will generate makes it well worth it. This money will make it easier for the city to fund some of the aforementioned programs in the long-term and is a good example how the community can chip in a little bit more for the greater good.

If it was a larger tax increase, I would have a problem with it, as it would be too much of a burden for lower-income households. But $60 should be manageable for most.

The budget wasn't perfect from my perspective. There was still small cuts to some programs and departments, including custodial staff. However, this was far from the doom and gloom that was sought by the cocky conservatives on council and today I am going to have a beer to celebrate the reasonable 2012 budget put forth by Toronto's City Council. And any time you can see Mr. Ford on the losing side of vote after vote, It's definitely time to shine up the ol' dancin' shoes and party like it's 1999!

It's also true that surplus money was used to save some services and I worry that next year Ford will try to induce the same cuts if that surplus shrinks. It is a fair concern, but I think that some of that money can be made up by the taxes that will be paid by people who benefit from those services. Daycares allow more people to work and pay taxes. The TTC allows people to take jobs in more locations around the city and income from those jobs is taxed. Libraries allow people to look for work for free on the internet and, you guessed it, people pay income taxes for those jobs. The rest of the difference can be made up through a cut to  the mayor's food budget, which is especially timely because he has made a pledge to waddle off the weight. Just kidding about that last one!

What do you think of the 2012 budget that was just passed by city council?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Monday Night Raw: January 16, 2012

It's that time again. Here is my in-depth review of  Monday's Raw show:

In-ring action:          14.5/20   
1.) Primo and Epico beat Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne to retain the tag titles. Epico and Primo looked ok in the match and showed some mean streak by beating Bourne. This contest was a bit short, but there was a bit of decent action.

2.) Swagger destroyed Zack Ryder to become the US champ. Not much of a match. Ryder had next to no offense and they really played up the injury angle.

3.) Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox beat the Bella twins after Perez Hilton prevented them from using “twin magic”. There were no real tags in this 1-minute match and it was another example of WWE not giving time to the divas or caring about their division as a proper wrestling group. 5 more minutes would have given the girls a chance to showcase their skill.

4.) R-Truth wins the battle royal. The match was ok. A few real wrestling moves and a lot of time spent trying to throw opponents over the ropes. It was a good mini-preview of the Rumble match and was a good way to build hype

5.) Brodus “Funkasaurus” Clay took apart JTG in a quick match. It was too fast and JTG had no offense at all. Cay was awesome in the ring, though, as he has added a lot of humour and charisma to his character. I like how he is developing.

6.) John Cena acted like a madman and destroyed Jack Swagger before their non-title match could get going. No wrestling moves to speak of, but it was a breath of fresh air for Cena to do something different and show a vicious side.

7.) The six-man tag was absolutely brilliant, thanks to Chris Jericho. The match was unspectacular until the aforementioned Jericho was tagged in, played to the crowd and walked away. He has all the charisma in the world and his actions were hilarious. Foley running in was a good way to make use of Mick being there and he brought the mandible claw and his usual repertoire to the contest. Him ending the match took away a chance for one of the others to build heat/momentum, though.

On the Mic:          9/10
CM Punk and John Laurinitus had awesome nights on the mic. Punk had a Steve Austin-level of attitude and willingness to kick ass. Laurinitus, on the other hand, finally showed some emotion and a mean streak with his words. His character is building depth and he is finally getting entertaining to watch.

Mick Foley was the same old Foley on the stick. He was entertaining enough, but not phenomenal.

Dolph Ziggler continued to show he has the skills to be the next big heel. His speaking skills were great, as he showed no remorse and a lot of cockiness when taunting Foley. He is one to keep watching. 

Finally, Kane kept the heat on himself by playing the devil that is slowly turning Cena. He played that character well in his short speeh this week. 

Storylines:          8/10
The continuations of the Miz-Truth storyline is similar every week, but entertaining every time, due to the development oR-Truth. Fans love him and he gets more outrageously funny every week. It’s all leading to a good Rumble match. Truth got more momentum by winning the battle royal, making him a legitimate threat to win the Rumble match and establishing him as a main-eventer or almost main-eventer.

Cena is playing a good Luke Skywalker to Kane’s Emperor Palpatine. He is teasing a turn to the dark side, but may pull off a last-second salvation ala the Jedi Knight. It’s all leading to an epic Rumble match.

Swagger beating Ryder was necessitated by the “injuries” that Ryder needs to push the storyline mentioned above forward. I understand it, but I wish that Ryder didn’t have to be the scapegoat to help push the Cena angle. Maybe there is real truth to the injuries or Ryder just needed some time off.

Johnny “Ace” Laurinitus did a great job pushing his character forward and solidified himself as a real bastard of a heel. Telling Mick Foley that he was going to screw Punk at the Royal Rumble and then attacking Foley show that he has a mean streak and makes the Punk/Ziggler match more interesting. 

The rivalry between the Bellas and Perez Hilton was a bit of fluff thrown in the show, as it won’t lead anywhere. The divas continue to not be taken seriously.

So, it appears that Mick Foley will now also fued with Mr. Laurinitus and may be in the Royal Rumble. He will be one of the nostalgia entries who likely won’t last long. This angle didn’t add much to the major storylines taking place on RAW

Announcers:          3.5/5
Cole actually spent more time calling matches this week, keeping the editorializing to a minimum. It was still eye-gougingly painful at times, but a step in the right direction for sure. The King was his normal self and the commentators didn't take away much from the show, which they usually do.

Crowd:          4/5
Chris Jericho really got the crowd boiling and popping, even though he didn't actually wrestle and is trying to be a heel. CM Punk and Mick Foley also got huge cheers from the crowd, which was much more alive than last week. The audience was certainly into most of the show and what a huge difference that makes.

Overall:           39/50
Raw was much more exciting than last week. The crowd being jacked helped a lot, but the great mic work by Punk and Johnny Ace really did, too. There was also some fun in-ring action provided by Jericho and Clay and the announcers actually mentioned a few wrestling moves for a change. Too bad the divas were an afterthought again.

 Your thoughts?         

Monday, January 16, 2012

On U.S. Republicans

The total disdain for anything foreign, including knowing a language other than English, that some Americans show is mind-boggling. Take for example the recent stories about Mitt Romney and other Republicans attacking President Obama for being "too cozy" to Europe. You can read the article below.


So, everyone in Europe is on welfare, huh? and the American economy is in MUCH better shape than most European countries, eh? I'm not saying a lot of European countries are not in turmoil, but that has nothing to do with welfare. It is because they loosened bank and allowed them lend more money than they should have to people who could never pay it back. They also allowing bankers and corporate execs. to avoid paying their share of taxes, thus leaving government pockets a lot emptier than in years past.

On the other hand, many European countries have wonderful support systems for their citizens, including excellent (and sometimes totally paid for by taxes) health care and education systems. They also have welfare systems to help out the unemployed, elderly and disabled - people who need support and often can't work through no fault of their own. Is that really a bad thing, Mr. Romney?

Furthermore, the economies of Europe and North America are intrinsically linked in this large global village, so Obama working with European leaders on economic problems will not only help Europeans, but will benefit Americans, too.

And, hey, Europeans actually value intellect and knowledge of foreign languages, which is in stark contrast to how Newt Gingrich and many other Republicans feel. They don't trust people who are too smart or know too much about non-American matters. Below is a link to a brilliant blog entry from Metronews.ca on this issue.


Republicans actually criticized Presidential hopefuls Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney for knowing Mandarin and French, respectively.

So, let me get this straight: according to some American Republicans, knowing French, Mandarin or any other language than English is scary and a valid reason to distrust someone. Why? Are they worried they will make secret plans with other nations to destroy American values and the economy because they know other languages? Are they worried that the knowledge of French or Mandarin makes Huntsman and Romney too worldly and too intelligent to be President of the United States? Because W. DEFINITELY showed us how much better it is to have a simple redneck as president over a well educated, knowledgeable leader like Clinton or Obama. It was some of ol' Georgie's policies that got us into this current recession in the first place.

To me it's absolutely ridiculous to fear a knowledge of and relationship with foreign languages and cultures. An American president must be well educated so that he/she can make the best decisions for the country. He or she must also have a knowledge of Europe and Asia so that the President can trade and work together with other leaders to improve America and the world. Knowing French and/or Mandarin is a bonus, as it helps build trust and break down communication barriers between leaders of different countries. After all, France and China (especially China) are two of the United States' biggest and most important trade partners.

Huntsman and Romney and any other presidential candidate should be praised for their intelligence, as it will be a huge asset to whoever is in the White House next. Time for people to wake up and realize that xenophobia and ignorance are not going to get the world out of the mess it's currently in.

Your turn. Feel free to agree, disagree or further add to the discussion by leaving comments.

Friday, January 13, 2012

On Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce

Same-sex marriage (SSM) and divorce have become hot-button topics over the past couple days in Canada. A link to a CBC article is posted below.


Basically, some same-sex couples that came to Canada to get married, because SSM is not legal in their countries, have come to Canada in the hopes of getting divorced. The problem is that they are being denied that right because they haven't lived in Canada for at least one year. Apparantly, that is the law for all couples, same-sex or otherwise. Below is a link to the Attorney General's response to one such divorce application.


My take on the matter is this: you must have the same rules for same-sex and "straight" couples, so if you must live in Canada for at least a year to get divorced if you are heterosexual, then the law needs to be the same for homosexual couples.

Do I agree that couples should have to live here a year before getting divorced, though? No, because of the unique circumstances surrounding all kinds of unions. For example, a same-sex couple comes to Canada to get married because their own country doesn't allow SSM. A few years later they come back to Canada to get divorced because they can't in their own country. Then what do you do? This couple came here because they wanted to have the right to get married, just like anyone else. And, just like any other relationship, SSMs don't always work out, so they want to be able to get divorced just like anyone else. The law needs to be updated and changed to take into account circumstances such as this.

I believe that the divorce application needs to have a box for extraordinary circumstances where one can write why they haven't lived in Canada for at least a year and, subsequently, why they are in Canada seeking a divorce. If they can't get a divorce in their country, Canada may be a last resort and needs to be an option for people.

Another aspect of this story that has many up in arms is the fact that lawyers for the Federal Government presented documents in court that suggest that some SSM' may not be valid because the  couples do not live in Canada, and in fact live in countries where their unions are not recognized. Check out the CBC blog post below for more information.


This is certainly a dicey situation. Couples can legally marry here, but that marriage is never officially acknowledged where they live. Is it a legitimate marriage? I think so. Why wouldn't it be? They went through the same steps and ceremonies to get married and that marriage should be recognized like any other no matter where the couple chose to live. Why should country of residence matter after you get married?

I think the simple solution, and what will happen in the long run is that more and more countries will recognize SSM as legal, thus alleviating the need for partners to come here to wed and taking away the grey area we find ourselves in today. In the meantime, until that happens, the Canadian government better not re-open the debate about SSM being legal in this country, as some people fear they will. Also, it is vitally important for the government to take into account the unique situations same-sex couples find themselves in and amend the divorce laws so they can legally separate, just like any heterosexual couple. This is a very modern problem and needs a modern, progressive solution.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Wage Inequality

Just came across a very eye-opening read about wage inequality in Canada on straightgoods.ca.


^There is the link to the article.  I was shocked to read that the average wage for the top 100 CEOs was $8.4 million a year while the average Canadian working a full-time job earned a humble $44,366. Now, 44 grand isn't a bad salary and an individual (not a family) could live a reasonable life with that income. But 8 million is excessive for anyone. No one needs that kind of money, especially considering the deficits and budget crisis' almost all levels of government in Canada are having. Not to mention the millions of hungry, starving and homeless people all over the world that could have their lives transformed with even a hundredth of 8 million dollars.

The problem isn't just that those CEOs are earning so much money, either. The bigger problem is the fact that they aren't giving back enough. There are so many tax loopholes and hedge funds and tax schemes that people with money use to avoid sharing their wealth with society. The trickle down works only if people with money pay taxes and the government uses that tax money to provide health care, education and essential services to a whole society. It doesn't work if the top 1 or 2% make millions and don't pay much tax on it.


^ That is a link to a very good interview with Warren Buffett, an American businessman, philanthropist and billionaire. He says that he pays more taxes each year than his secretary, and he doesn't even use tax-dodge schemes and loopholes to keep more money in his pocket. Can anyone else see the problem with that?

It is my humble opinion that almost all the world's current financial problems could be solved by increasing tax rates for corporations and incomes over $100,000/year, as well as closing loopholes that allow the wealthy to shelter too much of their money from being taxed. That would generate billions upon billions of dollars in income for cash-starved governments on the verge of bankruptcy all over the world. Seems simple. Is simple. But corporations and wealthy citizens control the media and most governments, so it's unlikely that this will happen any time soon. But one can dream and work towards this goal, can't he?

To me, everyone should pay their fair share to make a better society for all people. Helping out financially by paying a reasonable amount of taxes is one way to do this. Working together and selflessness are not old, outdated ideas. I would love to get your thoughts on this timely topic.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Monday Night Raw: January 9, 2011

Time for some wrestling on this wrestling and politics blog. Here are my thoughts on Monday's WWE Raw:

In-ring action:          13/20  
1.) Sheamus pinned Jinder Mahal AGAIN. This time it was in a tag match, where Wade Barrett and Santino Marella barely got involved. Short, predictable match that didn't do anything to progress the story of any of the characters.

2.) Daniel Bryan beat Kofi Kingston when he caught Kingston with a Labelle lock off when Kofi jumped off the top rope. Good ending to a match that was way too short. Could have been excellent.

3.) Brodus "Funkasaurus" Clay beat Curt Hawkins in his re-debut. Clay was mildly amusing with his new character and did a little Val Venis-esque wiggle in the ring to confuse Hawkins. Ok match and Clay is finally showing some real personality during matches.

4.) CM Punk defeated Jack Swagger with the help of the referee. Decent match that was for some reason in the middle of the show. Punk won, which he probably was supposed to, when the ref didn't notice Swagger's shoulder up and counted to 3. Legit mistake me thinks, not storyline related.

5.) Beth Phoenix vs. Eve didn't happen because of the Kane attack and John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler got ruined by Kane as well. Too much Kane disruption for my liking.

On the Mic:         8 /10
Jericho garnering heat by saying nothing was genius again, especially when he started crying. Ricardo Rodriguez insulting R-Truth and Truth's response was pretty amusing and the Kane speech to start the show did a good job to progress the rivalry.

Storylines:         8 /10
Kane vs. Cena and friends progressed nicely, with Cena now getting to Cena by attacking his friends. Zack Ryder got attacked for being Cena's buddy and Eve got attacked for being Ryder's girl.

I didn't mind Daniel Bryan backing away from the slow heel turn by offering to fight Big Show any time. They want to do it slowly and hint that Bryan may stay good.

Miz calling out Truth and that rivalry ramping up will hopefully lead to a good Rumble match, which I would watch for sure.

Punk beating Swagger, which means Vickie and Swagger are banned from ringside at their title match at the Rumble, is good because it evens the odds out a bit (don't forget John Laurinaitis will be special referee and he DON'T LIKE Punk).

I didn't like the Diva's match being sacrificed for Kane/Cena, though, as it is another example of the WWE not taking women wrestlers seriously and it didn't do anything to make fans care about the ladies.

Anyone else find it weird that Flair is being inducted into the Hall of Fame again (along with the other 4 Horsemen), even though he is currently working for TNA and already in the hall?

Finally, Jericho is gold when he opens his mouth, but even better when he stays silent. He has made people hate him in 2 short weeks. Brilliant.

Announcers:          2.5/5
Michael Cole wasn't as loud and obnoxious as he usually is. He wasn't jumping up and down or interrupting matches, but all they do is argue and don't really call matches any more. I miss JR and true play-by-play announcing. The announcers are a reason people tune out instead of helping push talent to superstardom.

Crowd:          2/5
The crowd really never seemed that interested in the show, except for when Jericho showed up. There was a bit of a surprised pop for Funkasaurus Clay, but even CM Punk didn't liven the people up that much.

Overall: 33.5/50   -> An ok show that progressed storylines and had some OK mic work. The in-ring action could have been better and the announcers just don't make people care in the wrestlers, though. Also, the lack of sustained crowd pops is disappointing and why wasn't there more than a passing reference to the Royal Rumble match itself? The WWE should start building hype with qualifying matches and by discussing scenarios if certain people win the match.

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 09, 2012

On The Toronto Surplus and Quality TV

So, apparently the City of Toronto is looking at a deficit for 2012, but at least we have a surplus from 2011 that will hopefully keep daycares, homeless shelters and HIV clinics open. I can't believe these things were near the top of the list of things to cut in the first place, but I digress.


Here is an interesting article from the Globe and Mail about the surplus and the 2012 budget.

Any thoughts people?

EDIT: Just saw an article on Thestar.com about Karen Stintz going undercover to work for the TTC for a few weeks. Very interesting. Here is the link:


It is for the show Undercover Boss, which is finally coming to Canada. What a great way to show the rich CEOs of companies how hard millions of underpaid, under-appreciated employees are doing to earn them that wealth.

My question for the reading public is, who else in Canada (or the world for that matter) would benefit from a few weeks in their employees' shoes?

Off the top of my head, I would vote for:

1. Stephen Harper working in the Alberta Oil Sands
2. Tea Party politicians in the States living a month in the shoes of a family living below the poverty line. That would include doing their job, trying to pay their bills and thanking the lord every day for their small fridges and basic cable TV.
3. Rob Ford working as a garbage collector and/or in a homeless shelter.
4. Nike founder Phil Knight  working a week in the sweatshops that make his company's products.
5. The Walton family and other Walmart big wigs working a few weeks in one of Walmart's production factories and/or retail stores to get a sense of how their products are made and what life is like for their |"well-treated" employees.
6. Paris Hilton managing her dad's hotel empire for a week, or really keeping ANY job for more than a few hours without throwing a temper tantrum.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

On Celebrity Culture

I hate, I absolutely despise modern celebrity culture. Here are the bullet points explaining why:

1. People don't even pretend to be role models any more. Until the 1980's and maybe even early 90's, a part of an athlete or movie star's job was to have a public persona which children and young people could admire and attempt to emulate. I know there were bad boys/girls then, too, but at least some of them tried. These days, that concept doesn't exist. What parent wants their children growing up and behaving like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan or Michael Vick (who is back playing football again after killing numerous dogs and spending a short spell in jail for it)? And yet, we let our children watch and idolize these Cretans.  Celebs don't feel it's part of their mandate any more to have a wholesome public persona, so they don't even try. In fact, they make more money by behaving badly and don't care if it is sending the wrong message to children

2. People can make themselves a brand and make millions despite having NO TALENT. PERIOD. How and why is Snooki a rich celebrity with her own show and countless appearances on talk shows and the like under her belt? She's just a whiny, short woman from New Jersey. Same with the Kardashians and Paris Hilton. They are from famous families and some consider them to be mildly attractive, but they don't act, sing or dance or play a sport well. So why does everyone want to be like them and look like them? They are showing the world that if you make a sex tape and do outrageous things in public, that you can be a super celebrity, too. Well, guess what? They are leading empty, meaningless, useless lives and anyone who follows their lead is just a whore to money and fame, too.

3. We tune in every day to see what JLo tweeted or what Ashton's Facebook status is, or who broke up with who in Hollywood. We also throw millions of dollars at these people through tuning into their shows or buying their sex tapes or their line of clothing/perfume. Why are we worshipping these talentless patrons of the worst kind of escapism and not devoting our time and money to people who are actually changing the world, like: politicians, doctors, researchers, scientists, environmentalists, philosophers, teachers etc. These are the people that deserve the big bucks because they are actually making a positive difference in society.

Ok, rant over. Discuss.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

On Unions

Well, the way I see it, there are legit. arguments for and against unions. I have heard many and will summarize briefly here before giving my opinion.

The arguments against unions seem to focus around pay and work ethic. Naysayers suggest that unionized workers make more money to do the same jobs private or non-union employees make, which is often true. Just consider the auto industry and the GM plants in Oshawa, eh. People who don't want unions suggest that these people don't deserve this extra pay. They also say that unionized workers have too much job security. They are of the belief that unionized workers know they can sit around and be lazy and not work hard because they have the union to protect them and there are very strict procedures that must be followed to discipline/fire someone. These naysayers would rather that these people were forced to "work as hard as them" and want workers to be able to be fired easier if they screw up and/or sleep with the boss's daughter.

On the other hand, the arguments in favor of unions are more about equity and worker rights. People who support unions believe that unions help workers fight for equal treatment and equal pay. They say that unions prevent big companies or organizations from taking advantage of workers or enforcing illegal or extreme work practices. After all, who wants Darth Vader firing them for breaking a coffee mug or tasting the wrath of Palpatine's lightning fingers for accidentally putting 2 left shoes in the same box, Unions prevent workers from being fired without due process and just cause, claim pro-union hippies, and they fight for fair wages and reasonable pay increases over time. In fact, they say, that unions help bring in minimum wages and health and safety standards into all work places in a city, province or country. It's hard to argue that minimum wage laws have benefited from union campaigns and worker actions.

Ok, so, which side am I on? I, in fact, am pro union. Call me a pinko-commie Liberal and all the rest, but I do believe that, in this day of big business and small government and profit at all costs, unions still have a vital role to play. We need groups fighting for livable wages and organizations fighting to keep work weeks under 60 hours. We need organizations making sure that workers are given good working conditions because happy workers = loyal, productive workers. And unions also make sure that all senior employees aren't fired because they are more expensive to keep than young, inexperienced workers or that workers aren't fired on a whim or in the heat of a moment. We don't want to turn into Mexico or China, where workers are often jailed for forming unions or fighting for better wages and shorter work weeks. We don't want to race to the bottom in terms of salary. All those people who say "I don't get that high a salary and that many holidays, so why should those union guys?" should be fighting for better conditions at their workplace, not work to bring everyone else down to them. Let's work to improve everyone's life instead of try to  pull everyone down into the mud. Frankly, I don't want to see salaries decrease and minimum wages disappear like is happening in some places...ahem...America.

And don't think that I am delusional and think unions are perfect. I agree that sometimes bad employees are protected and shouldn't be. I also agree that unionized employees make better wages than non-union counterparts, but like I said, I think the non-unioners should work to bring their salaries up. But, these days, we need unions to make life better for employees worldwide. Are you listening China?

Anyway, that is my opinion. What's yours?

On Politics

So, now that the introduction is out of the way, let's start discussing some real topics. Here are my thoughts on some of the major happenings of 2011. I would love to hear comments as to whether you agree or disagree. Here goes:

Rob Ford: Oh, where to start? First he promises to stop the "gravy train", then proceeds to claim the deficit at City Hall is around 800 million and claims that everything needs to be cut, then he goes after the police, fire department and libraries to cut their budgets. He also tried to sell the zoo, cut funding for any and all arts programs in the city and wanted to privatize every city service in order to save money.

Then what does he do? He takes even MORE money out of the city coffers through stupid decisions. First, killing the Transit City plan. There was money committed from the feds and province and construction had already started for new street car lanes. But NO, this mayor can't accept anything that he feels will disturb car traffic. So, what is his alternative? A public private partnership to build a new subway line. When that failed he went begging to the province for more money. When that failed, well... ... ..the city was left with nothing.

Then there was the plans to kill the land transfer fee and the automotive fee when you buy a car. Now, I'm not a huge fan of extra fees or charges here and there, but when you claim to be so short on money that you need to chop 10% off of police and library budgets it doesn't make any sense at all to take millkons of dollars of potential revenue away. And who cares about a couple extra hundred dollars when you are spending hundreds of thousands on a new house? I didn't know that Mayor Rob Ford was on the payroll of big real estate companies and developers.

Then Ford and his brother Doug wanted to waste a ton of money on building a ferris wheel, mega mall and a monorail by the waterfront. Umm, we have all seen that Simpson's episode, yes? Anyway, those millions are needed elsewhere and why pull out of and completely destroy a unilateral plan already in place with the province and the feds? On top of that, there is no flood prevention plan in place yet for the portlands where all this fancy stuff would be built. Let's take our time and develop the waterfront properly and not make it tacky Niagara Falls #2, eh?

In all honesty, I think a lot of people in the GTA would grudgingly accept a small property tax hike over the looming doom and gloom cuts to services and possible user fees.


^This chart makes it clear that tax rates are lower in Toronto than Ajax, Pickering and many other GTA cities/towns. I think it is time to increase them a wee bit in order to save this fair city from starting a slow decay cuts bring. After all, we don't want to be Detroit North.

Finally, I believe in the adage "you must spend money to make money" and I think it is true when governments are concerned. Conservative politicians seem to have the idea that cutting costs and leaving everything in the hands of big business will sort out all our problems. Well, what is the incentive for big business to give money back to the community. Hasn't happened yet. Isn't it better for governments to spend money to make a city like Toronto as attractive and vibrant as possible to attract business, tourists, sporting events etc.? Isn't it better to show the world how absolutely amazing your city is and make people want to go and spend their money there than let the city slowly rot and decay through attrition and gradual cuts of services? Investing in transit, affordable housing, libraries, arts and the police make the city cleaner, safer and happier and give outsiders a reason to visit and businesses a reason to set up shop in that place. To me, that's what Toronto should be doing, but then again, I'm no politician.

Ok, long post over. Let's get the conversation started with comments.

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Hello all. I am Matt and I want to welcome you to my blog. As the title suggests, this blog is meant to be a dialogue between me, the humble blogger, and you, the beautiful, brilliant, opinionated world. Twitter is too limited for what I want to accomplish, given it's word limit. And Facebook, oh Facebook, is not what I want.

And what do I want? Not a site to make myself a brand or post pictures of my latest drunken sexcapade or family party. I also don't want to poke people on a wall, update my ever-changing relationship status or know when my friends have deposited a # 2 on the loo.

All I want, my friends, is a never-ending conversation. I will share my thoughts. You will comment. I will comment on your comment, etc. Most posts will be about wrestling, politics, sports, music and those little, brilliant philosophically deep notions that seem profound at the time but often feel like mental wankery the next day.

So, if this sounds interesting to you, please join the conversation. If it doesn't, move along. Ok, enough chit chat. The meaningful discussion begins...