Spicy Food Mood

Don’t ask me why the word “mood” is in the title. I don’t have an answer for you. This is my 705th post, alright. By this point, the fingers type what they type and I have no control over them. So, just go with it and we’ll get through this together.

If I’ve learned anything about people, it’s that those who like – and can handle – spicy food, make sure everyone else knows of their super power. It’s fascinating, really.

I guess it’s a badge of honour. It’s like they want you to know that they can host a fire fest in their mouth and manage the flames just fine.

Good for them. The really cocky ones will call out the people who can’t handle spicy foods and make them seem like muggles.

I’ve always been on the side of the fence that can’t handle spicy food. However, in the past, I’ve tricked myself into thinking that I can. Big mistake. I’ve learned my lesson.

Growing up, I preferred spicy sausage over mild because they seemed to have more flavour. Then I’d eat them and realize the taste isn’t worth the pain.

I’ll explain that pain via this story.

Over five years ago, I went to a restaurant with friends after a Blue Jays game. The restaurant was called, East Side Mario’s. Hey budda boom budda bing!

A handful of you understand what I just said. The rest of you want me admitted to the nearest hospital.

Anyway, for you non-Canadians, East Side Mario’s is an Italian restaurant, complete with pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and endless salad and bread. It’s like the minor league version of Olive Garden.

Since I like pasta, I ordered Sausage and Peppers Penne. Being Italian, I like mixing sausage with pasta. By choosing this option, I completely ran the red light staring right at me, which was the red “S” on the menu to signify that it was spicy.

I thought I would be fine. The pasta wouldn’t be spicy, right? Just the sausage and peppers. I could avoid the peppers if they became too much, and I can manage the sausage.

Wrong. It came with arrabbiata sauce which means, “What the matter with you?” in Italian. Or something like that.

There was a pitcher of water on the table and a refreshing caesar salad, what could go wrong?

I started eating the pasta and it was delicious. And then about halfway through, the alarm bells started ringing. My mouth was on fire.

To quote the Rocky song:

In the burning heart mouth
Just about to burst
There’s a quest for answers
An unquenchable thirst

Note: I’ve never watched any of the Rocky movies, but I have the soundtrack on CD because of course I do. 

There was not enough cold fluids in the world to make my mouth stop burning.

And then I started sweating. And then my nose started to run. And then I had tears coming out of my eyes. I was in rough shape and was quickly running out of serviettes.

Yeah, I call them serviettes instead of napkins. This should surprise none of you.

It was bad. My friends started to notice I was in rough shape. I kept poking at the food, wanting to eat more, but I couldn’t finish it. I had been defeated.

The waiter asked if I wanted to take the rest home. I declined.

When you’re on fire, you stop, drop, and roll.

YOU DON’T TAKE THE FIRE HOME WITH YOU.

Since then, I’ve avoided spicy foods and spicy pastas. However, if I’m at an Italian buffet, I’ll put about five penne arrabbiata on my plate to send a message to the Pasta Gods that they will never defeat me. 

Shoutout to seafood linguine and penne a la vodka for being delicious, by the way.

Lately, I’ve been getting into spicy chicken.

This includes: the junior chicken from McDonald’s, spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s, and as of last weekend, the spicy chicken tenders from Popeyes.

I realize I just gave a free advertisement for unhealthy takeout food, but I’ve been the same weight for four years, so if there’s anyone who can deliver this message, it’s still probably someone else, but I’ll fill that role for now.

Spicy chicken sandwiches have a little kick to them, which I enjoy. It’s not the kind of kick a bull gives when someone tries to ride them at a rodeo but rather, the kind of kick a five-year-old would give a soccer ball.

As for the spicy chicken tenders from Popeyes – oh man, they had me sweating for bit, but they were good. That was my first time eating Popeyes.

What I’m getting at is, spicy food can turn me into a one man sprinkler within minutes. However, there are some milder levels that I can handle and do enjoy, without needing a serviette to mop myself up.

The End.

How about you? Can you handle spicy food? Ever find yourself sweating at a restaurant because you’ve had something spicy? 

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Posted in Food, Humour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Toronto Raptors – Round 1

The Toronto Raptors are in the NBA Playoffs for the sixth year in a row. Normally, I’m a bit nervous for them and their chances of progressing into deeper rounds, but not this year.

I’m about as optimistic as a groundhog who can’t find its shadow. Just call me Punxsutawney Paul. By the way, you have no idea how hard it is to spell, “Punxsutawney”. I had to stop halfway through the word for a water break.

Over the last five years, the Raptors own a win/loss record of 21-30 in the playoffs. Twelve of those losses came at the hands, feet, and mouth of LeBron James.

However, you want to know who’s not in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season? LeBron James. That’s who.

Double or nothing, follow up question: Who’s not in the Western Conference playoffs this season? I’ll give you a minute. Time’s up. LeBron James.

LeBron James cannot knock the Raptors out of the playoffs this year. It is a thing that logistically cannot happen. That, alone, is cause for celebration. Hit the music.

“In the arms of an angel, fly away from here, from this dark, cold hotel room….”

Whoops, sorry about that. Looks like we got our tapes mixed up.

The regular season was a mere formality this year. It was something that had to be done, in order to get where they wanted to be. No different than ordering a pizza and waiting for it to arrive.

I liked the approach of new head coach, Nick Nurse, this season. He was a laid back personality, who liked to try new things, like experimenting with different player combinations on the court.

When Dwane Casey was here, he had a set rotation for every single game, which was easy for me to pick up on, and I’m not even a scout. Sure, it’s fine to follow a pattern of getting players in and out, but when things don’t go your way, then what?

I thought the Raptors were ill-prepared in the playoffs last year, when certain combinations weren’t working on the floor and they didn’t know what else to turn to because they had never put Player A with Player Y and Z.

The starting lineup is 80% different heading into this post-season, compared to last year.

Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol.

It’s the most experienced playoff starting lineup since the days of Charles Oakley, Antonio Davis, and Mark Jackson.

With experience comes confidence. I don’t think that unit is going to be scared, or timid, or unsure of themselves. In the past, it always felt like the team thought they were good, until they saw great players on the other side.

Kyle Lowry is the little engine that could, but with a big caboose. In the past, when the team depended on him and DeMar, it felt like he tried to do too much and riled himself up to the point where he was ineffective.

This year, it’s not all on him. He can distribute the ball, let others make plays, and look for his shot when it’s there. There’s no pressure to be “the guy”. This team does not need him to score 25 points in order to win. That’s a good thing.

Danny Green is as cool as a cucumber and gives this team a legitimate three-point shooter for the first time in who knows how long.

Kawhi Leonard coasted through the regular season; I don’t think we’ve seen him at his peak, yet. I think he raises his game when he’s challenged, or when the stakes are higher, so don’t be surprised to see him take over some games.

I thought it was brilliant to manage his workload throughout the season. Why push his body to the limit in games that don’t matter? All these people made a big deal of him not playing in back-to-back games. So what?

BIGGER PICTURE, PEOPLE. LOOK AT IT.

Do you want to win a game in January and risk him getting injured, or do you want to win games in April, May, and June, and have him healthy?

And to all the media members who have been asking, “Is he going to miss games in the playoffs for load management?”, please just go away. Literally, go away.

I’ve spent the whole season watching Kawhi’s facial reactions, to determine if he’s happy in Toronto and if he’ll stay. None of that means anything if the Raptors don’t win in the playoffs.

Pascal Siakam is the athleticism, energy, and all-around weapon this team hasn’t had in a long time, if ever. He plays happy out there and I think that’s important. Sports are supposed to be fun. You can’t win if you’re miserable.

Marc Gasol is finally a Toronto Raptor. This feels like it was three years in the making. Now that he’s finally here, there has been some buyer’s remorse among some fans after they saw how well Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright performed for Memphis.

Fans bother me, let me just get that out there.

For almost the entire time Valanciunas was a Raptor, people wanted him to be traded. His pump fake bothered them. He never played down the stretch in the fourth quarter. He couldn’t guard quicker guys. He was too slow. The list of reasons why he shouldn’t be on the team went on and on.

All of a sudden, he starts putting up big numbers in Memphis and people are like, “Why did we get Gasol? We should’ve kept Valanciunas.”

Stop it.

Valanciunas has been a solid player for the last few seasons. Let’s not act like he found his game overnight in Memphis. The Raptors were not built around him. He was never the focal point of the offence.

In Memphis, they don’t have anyone else.

And yeah, Delon Wright has put up good numbers as well, but he wasn’t going to do that here because that’s not the role we needed him in.

If you had been paying attention, you would’ve known these guys were always capable of what they did in Memphis.

People look at individual stats and think they can just plug them in to any roster and think it applies. It doesn’t. Wright and Valanciunas were role players on this team. On Memphis, they’re integral parts of the offence.

Gasol is the better fit at this time. Since his arrival, our three-point shooting numbers have gone through the roof, thanks, in part, to his superb passing abilities.

Fred VanVleet is as good as it gets in terms of point guards off the bench.

Normal Powell needs to calm down, in order to be effective. It feels like he’s always on the hunt for a big breakaway dunk, or a big three pointer, when we don’t always need that.

OG Anunoby had an appendectomy the other day, so this a problem. It’ll be a tighter rotation in the playoffs, but it would’ve been nice to get 18 minutes from Anunoby. Those minutes will have to go somewhere else.

Serge Ibaka can be a big problem for the backup big men on opposing teams.

I hope Chris Boucher finds some minutes in the playoffs. I think his length is a defensive game changer.

If Jeremy Lin gives this team some reliability off the bench, even if it’s for four minutes at a time, it’ll be helpful.

The Raptors have all their bases covered. They have size, athleticism, three-point shooting, experience, youth, passing skills, and defensive stoppers.

The Orlando Magic do not scare me in the first round. Nikola Vucevic is really good, Aaron Gordon might be a problem, and Terrence Ross can hit threes off the bench, but so what?

That is a young team. They are the Raptors, circa 2015. They might win one game, but they won’t win four.

In the second round, it’s either Philadelphia or Brooklyn. Brooklyn is still really young and inexperienced, so I’m expecting it to be Philadelphia. They don’t scare me, either.

Ben Simmons can’t shoot. Joel Embiid is one step away from any sort of injury. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are good but are they impossible to stop, or beat? No.

The 76ers don’t have a bench. If they beat the Raptors, then the Raptors might as well blow it up and start from scratch.

If Toronto meets Milwaukee in the conference final, I still like Toronto. Milwaukee reminds of last year’s Raptors. First place in the East, lots of hype, and then they lose in the playoffs.

Let’s not forget that Milwaukee hasn’t won a playoff series since 2001. I am highly skeptical of teams going from not winning a playoff series, to all of a sudden appearing in the NBA Finals.

They’re a great team, sure, but the playoffs are a different animal. You have to learn how to win.

If the Raptors make it to the NBA Finals, I don’t know what will happen. It’s a roster with players that have been on that stage before, so I wouldn’t expect them to crumble under pressure. It just comes down to who’s coming out of the western conference.

If it’s the Warriors, it’ll be hard. I don’t care that we beat them twice during the regular season, they’re the Warriors.

If it’s anyone else, like Houston, I like the Raptors chances.

This whole blog post may have come across as biased and I don’t deny that. I’m just confident in this Raptors team and the players they have.

I fully expect the Raptors to win at least two rounds. Anything less is a complete failure. Some people would even say anything less than an appearance in the finals is a failure. That may also be true.

Ultimately, anything can happen. That’s why they play the games.

Enjoy the NBA Playoffs.

Posted in Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Paulo’s Kitchen: Yolk’s On You

Previously on Paulo’s Kitchen, Chef Paulo heated up meatballs in a pot and spotted a watermelon sitting in the audience, which turned out to be a chubby baby in a green onesie. Tonight, the chaos continues as Chef Paulo and Cameraman Sam reach their breaking point with one another.

And now, here is the milk to your cookies…Chef Paulo!

Ciao! Bonjour! And hello! I am Chef Paulo, welcome to my kitchen!

We are back after a long hate us. Something to do with traumatizing a watermelon. I don’t know what the network executives were talking about.

Cameraman Sam: It was a baby in a onesie! And it’s not “hate us”, it’s “hiatus”!

Yeah, they hate us so they put us on hate us! Makes complete sense to me. And what is this onesie you speak of? Is that like a bathing suit? Chef Paulo uses a threesie, or as I like to call it, a three piece.

Cameraman Sam: You wear a three piece bathing suit, Paulo?

I do! They call me a three piece chicken because not only am I whole meal deal, but I’m scared of getting wet so I wear a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and another pair of shorts. Layers, baby, layers!

Cameraman Sam: I’m gonna throw up.

That must mean it’s meal time! Let me tell this wonderful audience what I am making today!

It is a Chef Paulo Classic (CPC) and is a dish for everyone!

Today, I will be making an omelette!

*the crowd goes mild*

If you want to stay home, it’s a home-lette!

If you want to eat it really fast, it’s an omnomnom-lette!

If you want to do yoga, it’s an om-elette!

If you want to feed it to your garden gnome, it’s a gnome-lette!

If you want to read Shakespeare, it’s a Hamlet!

See, a dish for ev….

Cameraman Sam: And if you want to wear it as a toupee, it’s a dome-lette!

Hey, up shut it, Sam! Omelettes are no joke! And they’re not meant for your head!

Cameraman Sam: You mean, no yolk!

No, why would I mean that? We need the yolk!

Cameraman Sam: If you say so…

Here is a list of things you’ll need to make the perfect omelette:

Egg
Green Onions
Salt
Oil
Pan
Spatula
Fork
Mug

And away we cook!

Step 1: Take out a pan and pour some oil in the middle of it, no bigger than the size of two quarters. You don’t want to be swimming oil, water wings don’t work. Trust Chef Paulo on this one.

Step 2: Next, we’re going to throw some pre-chopped green onions into the pan. This is the magic of TV, it’s already prepared for us.

Cameraman Sam: BECAUSE THE NETWORK EXECS DON’T TRUST YOU WITH A KNIFE.

HEY! Don’t go giving away insider secrets!

Step 3: Place your pan on the stove and turn it up to around a Number 7. If Number 7 is unlucky for you, you can put it to a 6.5. Cooking is all about adjusting the recipe on the fly!

It’s like Nonna says, “If you don’t like making it, you’ll never make it again, and then you’ll starve and die alone!”

Cameraman Sam: A true Maya Angelou, that Nonna.

I don’t know what May-and a-June have to do with this, Samuary, but I’m getting the signal to go to commercial, so let’s do that. We have some new sponsors!

Commercial #1: Do you feel tired during the day? Ever wish you could just take a nap, but have nowhere soft to lay? Well, worry no more! Introducing the Air Shirt! By day, it’s a regular shirt, but my mid-afternoon when you’re feeling the post-lunch blues, all you have to do is pull on the collar and it inflates, providing you with an air mattress outfit, perfect for laying down on hard surfaces like your desk! With an Air Shirt, you never have to worry about uncomfortable naps. Your state-of-the-art Air Shirt will provide a soft cushion, so you can get cozy next to your keyboard and not feel weird about it! Air Shirt – changing the way you nap in public. Air not included.

Holy macaroni and cheese, I WANT ONE….HUNDRED of them for our live studio audience, I mean…

Chef Paulo already has one because he’s tight with the sponsors, so don’t worry about me!

*Chef Paulo doesn’t have one. He’s not tight with the sponsors*

Cameraman Sam: He’s also tight with the shirt!

Hey! This isn’t Fritter. No bully talk!

Cameraman Sam: Twitter?

Twit who? Never mind! Back to cooking.

Step 4: While your pan is heating up, crack an egg into a mug and whisk it with your fork until it becomes liquid.

Step 5: Add a little sprinkle of salt into the mug. Not too much, or it’ll become a mean mug!

Let’s check on the pan. When you hear it sizzle and frizzle, that’s when you know it’s ready.  I call it a Screaming Pan in Pain. SPP, for short.

Cameraman Sam: Why would anyone ever need to use that abbreviation?

Would you rather me teach them the SSA?

Cameraman Sam: What’s that?

The Screaming Sam in Amsterdam! Now stop distracting me or we send you away.

Step 6: Pour the egg onto the middle of the pan, so it absorbs the green onions.

Step 7: Now we wait, with our spatula in hand.

Anyone want to sing a song with Paulo, while we wait to flip the omelette? Okay!

And a one, and a four, and a…if you’re sappy and you know it, pour the syrup! If you’re sappy and you know it, pour the syrup! If you’re sappy and you know it but don’t want anyone else to know you’re burying your head in pancakes, if you’re sappy and you know it, pour the syrup! Yay!

Let’s go to a commercial, now.

Commercial #2: Do you like sidewalk chalk? Do you wish you could draw masterpieces on your driveway, but can’t because you suck at drawing? Well, have no fear…Chalk About is here! Chalk About Chucky is the first ever virtual assistant sidewalk chalk. Just lay it on the ground, tell it what you want to draw, and it’ll draw it for you! “Hey Chucky, draw a rainbow.” “Hey Chucky, draw the Eiffel Tower.” “Hey Chucky, draw a car at a McDonald’s drive thru window, with pigeons lingering nearby.” No command is too difficult for Chalk About Chucky. Impress your friends, annoy your neighbours, and get a masterpiece on your driveway today!

I need to get me a Chalk About Chucky! I don’t have a driveway, but it would just be nice to have someone to talk to…uhhh wait, are we already back from commercial?

Uhhh, let’s edit that part out. Back to the recipe!

Step 8: When you think your egg is ready, slide the spatula underneath it and flip it over. Do this gently. If you rush it, your omelette will be mangled and tangled and won’t look good on Aitch Dee’s TV.

Cameraman Sam: Hey Paulo, some day we should invite Mr. Aitch Dee in as a guest and ask him how he makes the images on TV so clear, almost as if they’re in high definition.

This might be your first good idea, Samuel! I’d love to meet the guy behind my Aitch Dee TV!

Oh no! Paulo’s flip is a flop. Ahh turn away, everyone. Samurai, you distracted me!

Sorry folks, the omelette looks like me after I change out of my three piece bathing suit.

Cameraman Sam: PAULO, WE DON’T NEED TO KNOW THAT.

Step 9: Let it cook on the other side. It won’t take long. By this point, the omelette is itching to come out of the pan, but can’t. It’s like a kid with chicken pox.

Cameraman Sam: Let me guess, the kid’s name is Omar Let.

Actually, it is! I call him Omar Let The Dogs Out and his parents are like, “Who who who…do you think you are?” It’s fun. Should be a song.

Step 10: Remove the omelette from the pan. And voila! Ready to serve!

And there it is, looking less like Chef Paulo and more like the shape of Italy! A perfect omelette.

Cameraman Sam: Why do you continue to make such generic recipes?

What do you mean? Who’s Jen and Eric? This is a Chef Paulo Classic! Have some respect.

Cameraman Sam: You’re right, Paulo. I’m sorry. Hey, what’s on your head?

What? Nothing’s on my head! What? Where is it? Is it a bug? Is it an onion? Get it off! Do I need my spatula? Tell me, Sam!

Cameraman Sam: Just stand still, I’ll come take it off. Don’t move.

*Sam, with his hands in his sweater pocket, approaches Chef Paulo. Sam goes to remove something from Paulo’s head, but it’s a trap! Sam has an egg in his hand!*

DID YOU JUST BREAK AN EGG ON MY HEAD, ON AITCH DEE TV, SAM!?

Cameraman Sam: YOLK’S ON YOU!

Great, now I have egg on my face.

Cameraman Sam: To be fair, you always do.

I don’t know what that means but Screaming Sam in Amsterdam is happening! Ah, how could you! My fans are watching this.

Ah, right. It’s time to go. I can’t believe I have to sign off with yolk on my head.

Thank you for joining me today for another edition of Paulo’s Kitchen. I’m Paulo, I’m in the kitchen, and I look like this because of Cameraman Egg Fool Young, over there.

Ciao for now, and ciao for later!

Paulo’s Kitchen is filmed in front of a live studio audience. The people are REAL. The food is REAL. The beef between Chef Paulo and Cameraman Sam is REAL. Portions of the episode not affecting the bickering between Paulo and Sam, may have been edited out for time constraints. 

Posted in Fiction, Food, Humour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Thank You, Bob Cole

All I have written is the title and I already have chills. That’s how you know you are writing about a legend.

Bob Cole has been the voice of Hockey Night in Canada for the last fifty years. Tonight, he calls his final game as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens.

In the standings, the game means nothing. In the hearts of many, this game means everything, and it’s because of Bob Cole.

Hockey and Canada go together like pancakes and syrup. You don’t question it, it just is. First you crawl, then you learn to walk, then you learn to skate, and then you hold a hockey stick. That’s the natural progression of life.

I have so many great memories of playing road hockey in the summer with the other kids on my street. The games were never planned and you never needed an invitation. If you saw someone shooting on a net outside, you grabbed your stick and joined them.

Within ten minutes, there’d be enough players for two teams.

On the days I couldn’t go out to play, I’d watch from the window in my room and do play-by-play.

I’m willing to bet that many kids did play-by-play, whether it was for a game on ice, the street, or in their house when mini sticks were involved.

We all wanted to be like Bob Cole, or at least I did.

Saturday nights always held a special place in my heart because it was the one night of the week that Bob Cole called the Leafs game.

Everyone be quiet, Mr. Cole is delivering his sermon.

He is, without a doubt, the soundtrack of hockey. He, seemingly, knows when a goal is coming before anyone else does, and uses his voice to build anticipation, so when the puck finally crosses the goal line, your emotions are already at the surface and come out naturally.

Bob never wasted time with stories or statistics, or things that didn’t matter. He spoke about what was happening right in front of him. At the same time, he didn’t have to use many words, or scour the dictionary for synonyms, his emotion carried every line out of his mouth.

He’s been doing this for fifty years. Can you imagine doing any job for fifty years and still loving it on the last day, as much as you did on the first? That’s remarkable to me.

Just think of how many people grew up listening to him on Saturday nights, who now have kids or grandkids. He connects generations in a way very few people can.

Sports are like a book. When you attend a game in person, you only get the title of each chapter. When you watch the game on TV, or listen on the radio, you get all the words from cover to cover.

Bob Cole wrote that story every Saturday night.

I wouldn’t have such an emotional connection with the Leafs playoff runs in the early 2000s if it weren’t for Bob’s voice providing the sound. Those games aren’t the same if you watch them on mute.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to YouTube to watch clips, just because Bob Cole provided the commentary. They never fail to bring a smile to my face or cheer me up when I need it.

Here’s one, from 2002, I go back to a lot:

Sports are about emotion. They’re about losing yourself in a game and riding the waves of success and failure. Bob Cole always put that feeling into words and enhanced what you were experiencing.

I could go on about him for days, but I will end with a small story.

In 1999, during the last game at Maple Leaf Gardens, Bob Cole said:

“This great and admired lady has been just fine since 1931, thank you, well times change and one must move one.”

Isn’t that just brilliant? Find me a broadcaster today who can sum up their thoughts on a building in one succinct sentence like that.

I remember that line, and go back to listen to it often, because it’s played at the beginning of the final Maple Leaf Gardens tribute video, which aired that night.

Though it feels like the last part of my childhood is fading away tonight, I’m thankful for all the memories Bob Cole has given me and millions of other viewers. He impacted so many lives and handed out goosebumps on a weekly basis.

They say that people don’t remember what you say, but they remember how you made them feel.

Of course, I’ll remember Bob’s famous calls like, “Ohhh Baby!” and “They’re going home!” (which I say at least once a week, for any and all occasions), but there is no way I’ll ever forget how he made me feel, as I watched Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night.

Tonight will be bittersweet, but times change and one must move on.

Thank you, Bob Cole.

Posted in Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Bust The Writing Rut

The first thing you need to know about a writing rut is that it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. It can happen to your friend. It can happen to your dog. It can happen to your dog’s friend. It can happen to your dog’s friend’s dog, who is imaginary.

Rut roh.

If you, or someone you know, are in a writing rut, here are some things you can do to unrut yourself.

DM your friends. DM your writing friends. Start a group chat. Complain to each other about your writing rut, in the group chat. Be rut buddies. Shift your shortcomings onto someone else. Let them carry your burden.

You will feel better about yourself when others are also unsuccessful in their writing endeavours.

Be the writing rut. Don’t let the rut consume you. You consume it. Eat or be eaten. It’s a dog eat dog world.

All together now….rut roh.

Get creative. Don’t just be creative. Get it. Think about thinking outside the box. You know why people think outside the box? They’re claustrophobic. Claustrophobia is your ticket to the outside. Claustrophobia leads to creative freedom.

But Paul, where do I begin?

Write the words. Write any words. Write about giraffes. Write about pencil crayons. Write about a kite stuck in a tree and how it’s recovery might just be the next best thing but not quite me.

Boom. Rhyme the words.

Rhyming what? Writing rut.

Write about your writing rut. Write about having nothing to write about. When you write about how hard it is to write, you inspire others to also write about how they have nothing to write about.

It’s a behind-the-screens pity party.

Next thing you need to do is get out of your own way. Get in someone else’s way. You can’t write, if someone else is stealing your material. Be a one lane road. You want to go North? Wrong. Go South. That’s where the keyboard is.

Boom. Enlightenment in the face.

Re-route the writing rut. Go places you’ve never been before. Take your words in different directions. Use a map. Be the compass. Write about your feet. Write about your friend’s feet. Write about your friend’s dog’s imaginary friend’s feet.

That’s called a writing rut roh.

When you’re done, release it into the world.

Writing is all about forcing others to read your words. Tape their eyelids open. Threaten them with pudding under their armpits. Blow in their ear. Let them know that your words are more important than anything else they could be doing.

As the saying goes, even a writing rut is right twice a day. Not once. Not thrice. But twice. Twice a day. That is one more than one. It’s two, buckle my shoe, three four, use the correct version of “your”.

Writing rut recap.

DM a friend. Get creative. Rhyme the words. Become claustrophobic. Write any words. Behind-the-screens pity party. Re-route the rut. Be the compass. Pudding pits. Twice a day.

Bust the writing rut.

Posted in Humour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

21 Years of Blue Jays Memories

I became a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998 at the age of seven. Since then, a lot of players have come and gone, but memories associated with most of them have remained lodged in the back of my mind.

So, I used the Baseball Reference website to access every Blue Jays roster since 1998, picked out the players that brought back a certain memory, or thought, and created this list.

If you’re a fan of the Blue Jays, I hope this brings up some memories for you as well. If you’re not, perhaps this brings back thoughts of former players on your favourite team.

DARRIN FLETCHER – I used to sing a song in my head (still do, sometimes) that went like this: Darrin Fletcher is a catcher and so is Mike Matheny.

CARLOS DELGADO – My first memory of seeing the Blue Jays on TV was of Delgado stretching at first base to receive a throw from the pitcher; Those four home runs against Tampa Bay (and subsequent bat toss/flip after #4) were iconic.

CRAIG GREBECK – Never used batting gloves and always reminded me of Woodstock from Peanuts.

SHANNON STEWART – The ideal lead-off hitter.

JOSE CRUZ JR. – In Grade 2, my class had an ant farm and we each got to name an ant. I named mine Jose Cruz Jr. because he was one of my favourite players.

SHAWN GREEN – Hit in front of Delgado; never aged; wore turtlenecks under jersey.

JOSE CANSECO – He had American Gladiator-sized arms.

TONY FERNANDEZ – He reached a milestone at SkyDome and the number 400 flashed on the video board. I’m pretty sure it was for career doubles because it was right after he lined a double down the left field line.

ROGER CLEMENS – I’d imitate his pitching delivery in front of the TV, and over-exaggerate the part where he threw his glove out front before following through with the pitch, as to distract the imaginary hitter in my family room.

BENITO SANTIAGO – He was the next line in my Darrin Fletcher song. Darrin Fletcher is a catcher and so is Mike Matheny, and Benito Santiago.

KEVIN BROWNDarrin Fletcher is a catcher and so is Mike Matheny, and Benito Santiago, and Kevin Brown. I’m a lyrical genius, I know.

KEVIN WITT – His photo was in the Blue Jays Yearbook magazine and he was wearing a batting practice jersey.

FELIPE CRESPO – Loved saying his name.

WOODY WILLIAMS – Always had perfectly trimmed facial hair.

CHRIS CARPENTER – Tall and lanky; was hyped as a guy who could be really good, but never got to that point in Toronto.

HOMER BUSH – He’s Homer Bush. The name speaks for itself.

TONY BATISTA – He had an extremely open batting stance and I always feared he wouldn’t close it by the time the pitch reached the plate, and that he’d get drilled in the stomach. His shin/ankle guard felt like a comedic prop.

WILLIE GREENE – In my mind, he was the greatest pinch hitter ever. I don’t know where I got that notion from, but I’d always use him to pinch hit in MLB Baseball 2000 for N64.

JACOB BRUMFIELD – I figured he was a young center fielder who would take over if Jose Cruz Jr. ever left. I now realize that Brumfield was approaching his mid-thirties. WHAT?

DAVE SEGUI – We traded him to Seattle and when we faced him, he hit a home run against us.

PAUL QUANTRILL – Mr. Reliable out of the bullpen. It was cool to see another Canadian named Paul playing for my favourite baseball team.

DAN PLESAC – Big lefty.

ALEX GONZALEZ – I equate his popularity to that of Felix Potvin.

CHRIS WOODWARD – Most of my memories with him as a Blue Jay have been written over by images of him as a base coach wearing a helmet.

BILLY KOCH – I was at a Saturday home game, which meant kids ran the bases after the game. When the bottom of the 8th was over, a bunch of people took off to go line up, while I stayed in my seat and watched the guy with tall socks jog in from the bullpen. He brought intimidation with him and you could feel it in the stands.

JOEY HAMILTON – I went to a game he pitched and, apparently, it was his first game back from an injury. I’m 73% sure he got a standing ovation when he came out of the game.

DAVID WELLS – I always feared for the Manager when he went to take the ball from Wells.

RAUL MONDESI – He had a cannon of an arm, which won me over as a suitable replacement in RF for Shawn Green.

MICKEY MORANDINI – One of those names a kid could repeat over and over again and not get tired of.

MARTY CORDOVA – He went on to play for the Baltimore Orioles and I’d see him and think, “Hey, he used to be on the Blue Jays.”

DEWAYNE WISE – Never got on base enough to showcase his speed.

 CHAD MOTTOLA – I’d look at his AAA stats and think of him as a really good hitter and didn’t understand why he never got much of a chance in the big leagues.

JOSH PHELPS – They didn’t know where to put him – Catcher? First Base? DH? – all they knew was that he could hit home runs. He hit one to the 500 level in LF.

BRAD FULLMER – He always had something in his cheeks and whenever he was hitting, he’d pull up his short sleeves between pitches.

FRANK CASTILLO –  He went on to play for the Boston Red Sox and I’d see him and think, “Hey, he used to be on the Blue Jays.”

DARWIN CUBILLAN – I thought he had an electric fastball. Whether he actually did, or not, I don’t know.

KELVIM ESCOBAR – I didn’t like how they wanted to transition him to the bullpen. He belonged in the rotation, according to me.

ESTEBAN LOAIZA – Every time we faced Michael Young and the Rangers, we were reminded that Loaiza is what we got back in the trade.

JOHN FRASCATORE – I called him John Cacciatore.

LANCE PAINTER – He was a reliever who made a spot start one time and I was really excited for it.

PEDRO BORBON – Lefty reliever; didn’t trust him.

PASQUAL COCO – Another great name.

JEFF FRYE – He hit for the cycle at SkyDome by turning a double into a single.

FELIPE LOPEZ – I had high hopes for him. They moved him to third base because Gonzalez was still at shortstop and Cesar Izturis was also coming up as a shortstop.

CESAR IZTURIS – Felt like we gave up on him too quickly. Was always weird seeing him with the Dodgers.

CHRIS MICHALEK – The nastiest pick-off move to first base in Blue Jays history.

BOB FILE – Reliable reliever, who wore high socks. This lasted for one season.

BRANDON LYON – I remember watching his debut in 2001.

BRIAN BOWLES – Thought of him as a guy who had been plucked from the bullpen of a baseball movie and put on our roster.

KEN HUCKABY – Opening Day 2003 against the Yankees, he ran from behind the plate to cover third base and collided with a sliding Derek Jeter. Jeter separated his shoulder.

ORLANDO HUDSON – Once played an inning of defence at second base with a butterfly on his shoulder.

ERIC HINSKE – The heckler behind home plate in Tampa Bay always picked on Hinske.

VERNON WELLS – I wore #10 on my baseball team for three years because of him.

JAYSON WERTH – Another player who came up with such promise, but never given a real opportunity.

KEVIN CASH – He could not hit.

PETE WALKER – The long reliever out of the bullpen.

MARK HENDRICKSON – Really, really, tall. Like, really.

COREY THURMAN – Pitched with his cap slightly tilted to the side.

LUKE PROKOPEC – I always dissected his last name. Pro-cop-eck. Pro-co-peck. Prok-O-Peck.

REED JOHNSON – His walk-up music was St. Jimmy by Green Day, which I thought was perfect.

FRANK CATALANOTTO – He had six hits in a game, on the road, against the Chicago White Sox.

BOBBY KIELTY – We traded Shannon Stewart for him, which freed up left field for a platoon of Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto.

HOWIE CLARK – Allowed an infield pop up to drop because Alex Rodriguez ran by him and yelled, “Mine!”. A-Rod claimed he said, “Ha!” but the video evidence proved he was a liar. Bush league play.

AQUILINO LOPEZ – He was hyped up to be our next closer.

TANYON STURTZE – I always picture him wearing a Tampa Bay Devil Rays sleeveless jersey with green undershirt.

JOSH TOWERS – Frustratingly inconsistent on the mound. High socks.

VINNIE CHULK – Traded to San Francisco with Shea Hillenbrand for Jeremy Accardo.

GREGG ZAUN – Involved in collisions at home plate.

ALEX RIOS – That YouTube video where he refused to give an autograph to a kid and then swore at a guy.

FRANK MENECHINO – Solid back-up infielder.

GUILLERMO QUIROZ – The catcher of the future. (He wasn’t)

GABE GROSS – Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in a package for Lyle Overbay.

DAVE BERG – Always wondered if he was related to Aki Berg.

SIMON POND – General Manager, J.P. Ricciardi, mentioned him a lot when talking about prospects on the “Wednesdays with J.P.” segment of Jays Talk with Mike Wilner.

ERIC CROZIER – I thought he would take over first base when Delgado left.

TED LILLY – Heralded as a big acquisition because the starting rotation needed someone not named Halladay to be good.

JUSTIN SPEIER – High socks and high leg kick.

MIGUEL BATISTA – They Kelvim Escobar’d him by turning him into a closer.

BRANDON LEAGUE – Wore glasses on the mound and was touted as the next closer.

RUSS ADAMS – “Air Mail” Adams.

AARON HILL – Was a shortstop who came up to play third base, before being moved to second base.

SHEA HILLENBRAND – Wrote on the whiteboard in the clubhouse: “This is a sinking ship” and was subsequently traded.

GUSTAVO CHACIN – He had his own cologne. I repeat, he had his own cologne. There were commercials for it and everything.

JASON FRASOR – I remember reading an interview in the Blue Jays game day program where he talked about getting traded here from the Dodgers and becoming our next closer.

SCOTT DOWNS – Exhibit A for why pitchers should not hit.

SCOTT SCHOENEWEIS – They leaned on him a lot to get lefties out late in the game.

BENGIE MOLINA – Not fleet of foot.

LYLE OVERBAY – All he did was hit doubles to the gap and the outfielders never shifted to take it away from him.

JOHN MCDONALD – I think we all secretly wanted to see him play a full season at shortstop just so he could be in the running for a Gold Glove award; The Father’s Day home run he hit after his Dad passed away was a wonderful moment.

TROY GLAUS – Middle of the order masher, who didn’t like playing on turf.

JASON PHILLIPS – Goggles.

A.J. BURNETT – Scared he was going to leave in free agency…and then he did.

CASEY JANSSEN – His right knee got close to the ground during his pitching delivery. Once threw an errant pitch into our dugout, I believe.

BRIAN TALLET – He started more games than fans wanted to see.

JEREMY ACCARDO – The team stumbled through 2-3 closers at the start of 2007 before giving Accardo a chance.

B.J. RYAN – Do we really have to pay that much money for a closer?

SHAUN MARCUM – Finally got a successful homegrown starting pitcher, and we traded him away.

FRANK THOMAS – Those were the days when people thought the Blue Jays were “one or two bats away from contending”. (They weren’t)

MATT STAIRS – He hit in the lead-off position a lot because there was no one else to choose from.

ROYCE CLAYTON – The (seemingly) annually search for a shortstop in free agency continued with him.

SAL FASANO – Great moustache.

DUSTIN MCGOWAN – So much potential, but could never stay healthy. Felt like Chris Carpenter all over again.

JESSE LITSCH – The broadcast team never failed to mention he used to be a bat boy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

TOMO OHKA/VICTOR ZAMBRANO/JOHN THOMSON – Depth starting pitchers signed in the same off-season.

ROD BARAJAS – His last name was pronounced “Ba-rah-haas” but that didn’t prevent me from calling him Courageous Ber-ay-geous.

DAVID ECKSTEIN – A friend of mine looked exactly like him.

MARCO SCUTARO – He was in the Opening Day lineup at third base in his first season as a Blue Jay. I wasn’t sold on him being any good, but he was.

SCOTT ROLEN – Not a bad return for Troy Glaus, who couldn’t wait to get away from the turf.

BRAD WILKERSON/KEVIN MENCH – The platoon in left field reminded me of Catalanotto and Johnson, but far less talented.

JOSE BAUTISTA – Bat flip. Contributor to the craziest inning in Blue Jays history. Jaw of steel.

ROBINZON DIAZ – Traded for Jose Bautista.

TRAVIS SNIDER – The prospect that got away. Had a really good September call-up at age 20, but then yo-yoed between the majors and minors, with a few injuries sprinkled in, before getting traded.

SHAWN CAMP – John Gibbons loved bringing him into games. High socks.

JESSE CARLSON – Felt like the understudy to Scott Downs.

ADAM LIND – He hit everything in sight during his initial September call-up, but took a few years to put it all together.

KEVIN MILLAR – Cowboy up, I guess.

EDWIN ENCARNACION – Cincinnati didn’t want him; poor defence at third base; moved to first base; became an elite power hitter; walked the parrot around the bases.

RANDY RUIZ – We released him and he signed with a team in Japan.

RICKY ROMERO – Struggled in the minors, but flourished in the big leagues until the wheels abruptly fell off after his all-star season. I attended his first game back with the team in 2013 after he tried to rebuild himself in the minors.

ALEX GONZALEZ – The “other” Alex Gonzalez.

FRED LEWIS – I thought he could be the speedy left fielder we’ve been looking for, but he was traded away.

MIKE MCCOY – So many “Real McCoy” references.

J.P. ARENCIBIA – Hit two home runs in his debut and I thought we had our catcher for the next 10 years.

BRETT CECIL – He came in as a starter, but they always talked about how he was a closer in college.

BRANDON MORROW – Power arm, but couldn’t stay healthy – along the same lines of Chris Carpenter and Dustin McGowan. He had a 17-strikeout, 1-hit game and went way over any recommended pitch limit.

KYLE DRABEK – Acquired from Philadelphia in the Halladay trade.

BRETT LAWRIE – The first Blue Jays jersey I ever owned, if you can believe it.

ERIC THAMES – Another in a long line of left fielders who had to endure a platoon.

RAJAI DAVIS – Woah, we finally have someone who can steal bases?

JOSE MOLINA – Like his brother, not fleet of foot.

ANTHONY GOSE – So much speed, but could never get on first base.

OMAR VIZQUEL – We have a 45-year-old shortstop?

AARON LAFFEY – Laffey Taffey.

J.A. HAPP – Felt like we had been rumoured to acquire him for two years before he finally got here.

STEVE DELABAR – I referred to him as “Deli Bar” not because of anything he did, but because I like delis.

AARON LOUP – “Loup, Loup, Loooooup” – to the tune of The Price is Right‘s victory horns – “Whoop, whoop, whoooooop”.

EMILIO BONIFACIO – Didn’t work out as planned.

JOSE REYES – Injuries.

MELKY CABRERA – The Melk Man.

MUNENORI KAWASAKI – “Bush party tonight!”

JOSH THOLE – The only man on the planet deemed capable enough to catch a knuckleball.

KEVIN PILLAR – Put on a highlight reel of catches in left field before the team realized his defence would be better served in centre field.

R.A. DICKEY – I still don’t know if he prefers the roof open, or closed, when pitching.

JOSH JOHNSON – He was supposed to be way better, right?

MARK BUEHRLE – Game was over in two hours on days he pitched.

SERGIO SANTOS – Used to be a shortstop, but turned into a reliever and never panned out as a closer.

DIONER NAVARRO – He helped turn Marco Estrada into a really good pitcher.

DANNY VALENCIA – Ran out of a roster spot for him.

RYAN GOINS – Goins, Goins, Gone.

MARCUS STROMAN – That time Stroman, Russell Martin, and John Gibbons were all ejected because the home plate umpire was Will Little.

TODD REDMOND – My friend called him, Tedmond.

AARON SANCHEZ – He held the bullpen together during that 2015 playoff run.

LIAM HENDRIKS – Australian

MAICER IZTURIS – Brother of Cesar.

RUSSELL MARTIN – Montreal loved cheering for him during those two annual games in Montreal at the end of Spring Training.

JOSH DONALDSON – MVP; all-around gamer; bringer of rain.

BEN REVERE – I was confused when he was traded for Drew Storen. Still am, actually.

JUSTIN SMOAK – There was a time when every fan knew how the pitcher was going to strike him out, but to his credit, he turned himself into an all-star.

DEVON TRAVIS – Really good player, but can’t avoid injuries.

TROY TULOWITZKI – Hit a home run in his first game as a Blue Jay.

MARCO ESTRADA – Playoff hero.

DAVID PRICE – Bought everyone on the team a bathrobe.

MELVIN UPTON JR. – Didn’t want to be called “BJ” anymore.

JOE BIAGIANI – One of a kind.

JASON GRILLI – Fire up the Grilli! Whenever he ended an inning with a strikeout, he was hyped all the way back to the dugout.

JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA – My sister would call him, Salted Caramel Macchiato.

KENDRYS MORALES – He pitched a scoreless inning last year.

ROY HALLADAY – I intentionally saved Halladay for last. To me, he’s the best Blue Jays player I’ve seen in my 21 years as a fan. I remember his first start and that darn Bobby Higginson hitting a home run with two outs in the ninth inning, to ruin his no-hitter. What always stood out to me was Halladay’s temperament on the field. He never showed much emotion, except for one time in Tampa Bay where there was a roller up the first base line and he picked it up, thinking it had crossed over into foul territory. The umpire ruled Halladay had touched it while it was still a fair ball. Halladay proceeded to argue with the umpire, like he never had before. That’s how I knew Halladay was in the right. He wouldn’t argue, otherwise.

Thank you for reading!

Do you remember past players of your favourite team? Feel free share your stories below.

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F1: Drive To Survive

It’s nine o’clock (and 56 minutes) on a Saturday, and I have three hours to kill before the first race of the Formula One season takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

Could I record it and watch it in the morning? Yeah…but no. That’s not happening. I don’t want to spoil the results for myself, if I groggily log on to Instagram or Twitter when I wake up, nor do I want to cover my ears when I walk by the kitchen radio.

I’ve been spoiled by both in the past.

Besides, I stayed up until after 3:00AM last night to watch qualifying. I’m committed to this.

To get me through the next three hours, I’ve decided to write this blog post and have the TV on in the background. It’ll be an assortment of college basketball, hockey, pre-race coverage and if I’m desperate – TLC. They’re airing new episodes of Trading Spaces and While You Were Out…which I discovered last night.

Oh, as if you didn’t watch those shows in 2003! I have strange interests, don’t question them.

Anyways, back to Formula Uno.

About a week ago, a Netflix docuseries called F1: Drive To Survive was released. I’ve known it was coming since January 2018, and let me tell you, those were the longest 14 months of my life. Also the fastest, but that doesn’t fit my narrative, so we’ll scratch this out.

The series is a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 F1 season. I loved it, but I knew I would before I even watched. I’m just sad it was only ten episodes.

I watched nine episodes in two days and then waited a few days before watching the last one, so I could savour it.

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title of the series. Drive To Survive seems like a very North American title, which might be the point since the sport is much bigger on the other side of the world, and it would be great if more people over here paid attention to it.

But when I first heard the title, I thought it was appealing to the lowest common denominator and trying to use dangerous crashes as a means to sell the sport. Then I realized that wasn’t the case.

I also realized that Drive To Survive could also be used to explain how each driver has to perform, or they’re out of a job, no matter how young or promising they may be.

So, I’m fine with it. But, I still think if this wasn’t a global series, the word “Prestige” would be somewhere in the title.

The top two teams in F1 – Mercedes and Ferrari – did not want to be in the series, so they weren’t. As a fan, I was glad they sat out. They get so much attention during the season, I didn’t need to know more about how great they are.

It was nice to see the other teams in the spotlight and how they know their limitations, which allows them to get excited over a 7th place finish.

Looking back to my early days of watching F1, I knew nothing about the drivers. I barely heard them speak, outside of the top three at every race. That would always be a combination of: Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Mike Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Ralf Schumacher.

Jenson Button needed more air time back then, is what I’m getting at. As did Giancarlo Fisichella, if for no other reason than it gave me an excuse to say, “Heeeere Fishy Fishy Fishy-chella.”

That’s a Sesame Street reference.

I didn’t realize how disappointing that was at the time because that’s how things were back then. Everyone still had some privacy. There was no social media to see what the drivers looked like when they weren’t inside a car. You just assumed they always wore a helmet.

I think a Netflix series like this can attract so many new fans to the sport. I already got my friend Chris to watch it and he confirmed to me a few days ago that he’s hooked.

Would a non-fan like to see the top two teams featured in the series? Maybe. Probably. I think Lewis Hamilton has become a global name and for him to be glossed over, probably had some people confused.

One thing I learned from the show is that the drivers probably aren’t as friendly with their teammates as I thought they were.

I mean, I knew Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon weren’t the best of friends based on how many times they tried to run each other off the track, but other drivers always brought up how badly they wanted to beat their teammate.

That makes sense, but I guess I always had this vision of drivers really caring about how their team performed and that they were happy for their teammate if they did well.

I don’t think that’s the case. I think they put on a happy face in front of the cameras, just to play the part. If you notice the post-race media scrums, there’s always a member of each team, recording the answers the driver gives the media.

I was also lead to believe, last season, that Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull would eventually come to terms on a new contract and everything would be fine. Everything they told the media seemed to be positive, when really, it was eating Ricciardo up and he eventually left for Renault.

All this means is that I’m going to be over-analyzing every interview and looking for any sign of malcontent. I can’t wait.

I’m, truly, looking forward to this upcoming season. There was a lot of musical chairs in the off-season and I’m excited to see what happens when the music stops and the lights go out.

That was a good line, eh?

Last night’s qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix was bananas. Hopefully, the race is equally fruitful.

Another good line, let’s just appreciate that for a second.

Whether you’re a racing fan or not, I highly recommend the F1: Drive To Survive series. Behind the scenes sports documentaries are the best kind of documentaries. I think the average person will grow to appreciate just how difficult it is to drive these cars, as well as the skill and risk that goes with it.

It sounds like there will be a Season 2 and they’re working to get all teams signed on.

This season, I’m thinking of doing a recap (Paul style) after each race. I haven’t decided if I’m doing it for sure, but you’ll know when I know.

I’ll end this post by listing the drivers for each team and an accompanying thought.

MERCEDES
Lewis HAMILTON – He’s won 51 of the last 100 races.
Valtteri BOTTAS – I’d be a bigger fan if he wasn’t with Mercedes.

FERRARI (The matte finish on their car looks really good this year)
Sebastian VETTEL – He’s 31-years-old and started in Formula 1 as a test driver in 2005.
Charles LECLERC – I can’t wait to watch this kid compete at the top. Big future ahead.

RED BULL
Max VERSTAPPEN – Please God, let him be a legitimate challenger to the top two teams.
Pierre GASLY – Not sold on him yet, but he’s growing on me.

RENAULT
Daniel RICCIARDO – Hopefully, this car won’t leave him stranded on the side of the road.
Nico HULKENBERG – He really hates Kevin Magnussen.

HAAS
Kevin MAGNUSSEN – Did not receive a Christmas card from Nico Hulkenberg.
Roman GROSJEAN – He was in his own head a lot last season.

MCLAREN
Carlos SAINZ – He really idolizes Fernando Alonso and is now in his seat.
Lando NORRIS – He’s 19 and is starting 8th in his first race with a mid-tier car. Woah.

RACING POINT FORCE INDIA
Lance STROLL – His dad owns the team, therefore he will always have a seat.
Sergio PEREZ – Is probably glad Esteban Ocon isn’t on the grid this season.

TORO ROSSO
Daniil KYVAT – Max replaced him at Red Bull a few years ago, so this is a rebirth.
Alexander ALBON – He’s one of three rookies on the grid this season.

ALFA ROMEO (I’ll always call them Sauber and picture a blue/turuqoise car)
Kimi RAIKKONEN – Excited to see him will this car to finish 5 spots higher than it should.
Antonio GIOVINAZZI – Just wait until the Italian Grand Prix. Just. Wait.

WILLIAMS (Their car is about 2-4 seconds slower than everyone else. Oh Dio.)
Robert KUBICA – So good to see him back on the grid after 8 years.
George RUSSELL – He’s in the early stages of a “Young Bieber” haircut.

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‘Twas The Night Before Qualifying

‘Twas the night before qualifying, when all through the track
Not a driver was steering, not even a Williams alone at the back
The tires were put on the cars with care
In hopes that qualifying would soon be there
The drivers were nestled all snug in their seats
While visions of pole position made their healthy hearts beat
And Max in his Red Bull, and Lewis in his Mercedes
Had just settled down from singing “All The Single Ladies”
When out in the stands arose such a clatter
The fans had arrived to observe all the matter
Away to their seats they flew like a flash
Tore through their pockets and emptied their cash
The sun warmed up the pit lane below
It would soon be time for the drivers to go
When, what to their wondering eyes would appear
But nineteen other cars and a first turn so near
With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be Renault’s Danny Ric
More rapid than eagles the finish line came
And he whistled, and shouted, and passed each driver by name
Now, Sainz! Now, Gasly! Now, Norris and Russell!
On, Albon! On, Stroll! On, Bottas and all of Mercedes’ muscle!
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
Happy racing to all and to all a good championship fight!

Wow, that was fun. Not what I expected to write when I sat down, but there it is! I guess I’ll be back tomorrow with the Formula 1 post I intended to write.

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Viewing Notes: The Bachelor (Colton) – Finale Pt. 2

This is the show that never ends, but tonight it does. I’d like to welcome back Cass for the final time this season. Her thoughts will be in bold.

Sorry I went MIA last night everyone, I was just in no mood to watch The Bachelor…shocking, I know.

If you missed my notes for Part 1 of the Finale, how dare you? Click HERE to give it a read, but only if you want.

Now then, let’s breathe some life into this show. (This is foreshadowing something)

~ Hit the music, fade in, and away we go with Chris Harrison in front of a live studio audience.

~ Chris calls this the most anticipated season finale ever. I don’t know about that.

~ Nothing can compare to 2007, when Brad Womack sent home both women in the Final 2 – DeAnna and Jenni. I was #TeamJenni all the way back then. I hope she’s doing well.

~ I’ve been watching this show for way too long.

~ Back to Portugal we go and Colton is knocking on Cassie’s hotel room door. The hallway looks like they’re in an old residence hall that first year students would rank fourth on their residence request form.

~ Cassie opens the door and doesn’t look shocked to see him. She is also put together, so someone tipped her off that he was coming.

~ “I love Cassie, but Cassie broke up with me.” – Colton

~ They’re outside and sitting down to talk in very low voices. No one ever speaks up on this show. Their sentences are always very slow and choppy, too.

~ “I ended things with Tayshia and Hannah.” – Colton

~ “What?” – Cassie

~ “This is crazy. This is really crazy.” – Cassie

~ “I know, right. I jumped a fence and Chris Harrison ran after me in the dark!” – Colton did not say this

~ Cassie is confused because she thought the other girls were further along than she was.

~ OH MY GOD, HE SAID HE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU AND NOT THEM. WHAT’S SO CONFUSING?

~ Colton says he gave everything up so he can not just tell her, but show her he loves her.

~ Unrelated to anything: I feel like Colton is the kind of guy who would hire a pilot to write a message in the sky, but it would be on a cloudy day.

~ “I’m so confused.” – Cassie

~ Colton wants her to meet his family, who are waiting for them in Spain. She agrees to go meet them. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

~ So now they’re back together? All Colton had to do was send the other two girls home, even though he had already told Cassie he didn’t want a future with either of them?

~ This show is painful. I need a Spainkiller. GET IT? BECAUSE THEY’RE GOING TO SP- ah what’s the point.

~ Colton quit the show, but is now in Spain, wandering the streets like nothing ever happened.

~ Cassie is working through her feelings, while getting a free trip to Spain. Can’t say I blame her.

~ Colton meets up with his family and breaks the news that there is only one girl with him, instead of two.

~ They look shocked and he says, “Hey, for 24 hours it was just gonna be me and Chris Harrison!” Nah, he didn’t say that. Someone needs to hire me as a writer on this show.

~ Why is the family so unsettled by the fact that Cassie isn’t in love with him yet? It’s only been two months. She’s only seen him twice a week. They’ve never texted.

~ Cassie is now coming in to meet the family.

~ She breaks into a soliloquy about how hard this has been. Exactly what the family wants to hear, I’m sure.

~ Colton’s mom, Donna, pulls him aside and says she’s scared that Cassie already left once.

~ Colton asks what she thinks of Cassie so far: “Ohhhh mannn”.

~ Cassie is now sitting down with Mr. Underwood and says, “I love him and I care about him so much, but I’m hoping for clarity.”

~ Woah, did she just profess her love for Colton to his father, before telling him?

~ Or was that the kind of “I love him” that’s the equivalent to saying you “like” someone rather than “like like” them.

~ I’m employing elementary school level terms to try and understand this show. What is life?

~ “I’m so confused. – Cassie” – Me

~ After a few more conversations, the meet and greet is over.

~ As we head to commercial, pot stirrer Chris Harrison, says they have one final date and asks if Cassie will be able to truly fall in love with Colton.

~ Stop it, you! One date isn’t going to solve anything.

~ Chris Harrison is like a human Twitter account that tweets out skeptical thoughts about everything, just in case one of them comes true.

~ Cassie and Colton are driving around Spain in a jeep.

~ “I do love him, but Colton’s been a step ahead of me.” – Cassie, slow walker

~ Does she still think she has to accept a proposal at the end of this, or else Chris Harrison will ban them from seeing each other ever again?

~ They’re having a picnic, but have to rappel down the side of a mountain to get there.

~ This is their punishment for almost derailing the show and cancelling the trip to Spain, right? Production is getting back at them – that’s what this has to be.

~ Colton asks Cassie what she’s afraid of. She says she’s not afraid of being in a relationship with him, it’s about being in a relationship – in general. Oh.

~ In words we can all understand: I didn’t come on this show for the right reasons.

~ “I feel how much Colton loves me and I think I’m starting to accept it.” – Cassie

~ What the heck does that mean?

~ To recap: Cassie made it to the Final 3 before she started to feel like this relationship wasn’t right. Colton tells her he loves her and doesn’t want to be with the other two. Cassie leaves. Colton send the other two women home. Cassie comes back. Cassie continues to be hesitant to get back into a relationship with him because it’s a big commitment. Got all that?

~ Oh wait, now they’re going to the fantasy suite.

~ Are they even technically in a relationship? Has Cassie said they’re actually back together?

~ Colton kicks the camera crew out of the fantasy suite and hangs a “do not disturb” sign on the door. One second passes before they realize they’re still wearing microphones.

~ Back in the studio joining Chris for a roundtable discussion are six former Bachelor/Bachelorette participants: Sydney, Onyeka, OH MY GOD IT’S DEMI, doesn’t matter, don’t care, and not important.

~ Ok fine, those last three people are actually, Chris, Jason, and Ben.

~ I’d fast forward but Demi is there.

~ That was a wonderful surprise. She should be the host of The Bachelorette. Give Mr. Harrison a break, he’s been doing too much this season.

~ Back in Spain, it’s the next morning and Colton is in the shower, which means the camera is too.

~ They’re having breakfast in bed, and by that I mean there is a tray of food that they’re refusing to touch.

~ Last night seemed to go well for them, so they say.

~ Back in the studio, Colton and Cassie come on out to a standing ovation from half the audience.

~ “We’re in love.” In other words, they’re dating.

~ Chris asks if they plan on getting engaged and Cassie says it’s something they’ve discussed.

~ Colton has moved out to LA to be closer to Cassie and they’re going to be travelling around a lot together. Oh, so it’s like The Bachelor, but with they’re own money.

~ Now we’re getting a video update of how their life has been since the show ended.

~ Colton sits on counters as Cassie tosses food into his mouth from afar.

~ Colton can’t bend his legs as Cassie tries to teach him yoga.

~ In conclusion, Colton is basically a pet dog.

~ Well, I just missed the whole first half of tonight’s episode, but that’s okay because Colton & Cassie are apparently just so in love.

~ I may or may not have wanted to watch tonight. I’m a little annoyed with this season, clearly.

~ In the studio, Colton is now asking Cassie if she will accept the final rose. She does.

~ He just gave her the final rose, that’s cute.

~ Omg they get to go back to Thailand, so not fair.

~ YES CHRIS, ASK THAT FANTASY SUITE QUESTION.

~ Damn it, Colton, it’s a yes or no answer.

~ So, is he still a virgin?

~ Chris Harrison says we have an unbelievable surprise now – a live performance from a legendary band….AIR SUPPLY!

~ Who the heck is Air Supply?

~ I can’t stop laughing.

~ YES! Air Supply! 75% of the people watching this don’t know who they are, but whatever! This isn’t for them! This is for me! And my loyalty to this show!

~ They’re gonna sing Making Love Out of Nothing At All, aren’t they? They are!

~ Never mind, my mom knows who they are…and she’s singing along.

~ I know just how to whisper and I know just how to scheme, I know just when to face the truth and then I know just when to dream, but I don’t know how to leave you and I’ll never let you fall, and I don’t know how you do it, making love out of nothing at all, making love out of nothing at all, making love out of nothing at all, making love out of nothing at all.

~ This is hilariously amazing. Pretty sure they skipped a bunch of lyrics, though.

~ Every time I see you all the rays of the sun are streaming through the waves in your hair, and every star in the sky is taking aim at your eyes like a spotlight, the beating of my heart is a drum and it’s lost and it’s looking for a rhythm like you, you can take the darkness at the pit of the night, and turn it into a beacon burning endlessly bright, I gotta follow it, ’cause everything I know, well, it’s nothing ’till I give it to you!

~ I can’t breathe, this song is so fast paced, and I can’t stop laughing. Annnnd back to singing…

~ Making love out of nothing at all, making love out of nothing at all, making love out of nothing at all…

~ Hold on, I’m gonna rewind and enjoy the performance one more time, without racing to type out the lyrics.

~ I enjoyed that way more than I should have.

~ Last night, they should’ve shown up and played “All Out Of Love”, then play “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” tonight, and “Lost In Love” can be their wedding song when they probably don’t get married.

~ Maybe next year they can get Meatloaf to sing, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”.

~ If Mr. Loaf isn’t available, I’ll settle for Bonnie Tyler singing, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

~ Just putting that out there in case the producers read my blog and are wondering how they can further engage with a 27-year-old male viewer, who is familiar with old love songs.

~ I’m just happy they didn’t rush an engagement and are taking it day by day, just so much more realistic.

~ IT’S BACHELORETTE ANNOUNCEMENT TIME.

~ Drum roll please.

~ Hannah BEAST!

~ And it’s Hannah B., Alabama Hannah.

~ She’s been in beauty pageants and is a beast, so if the tagline for her season isn’t “Beauty & Beast”, I’m going to be disappointed.

~ I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone found this out like two weeks ago, but we can pretend to be surprised.

~ How many times are we gonna hear “Roll Tide” this season?

~ She’s going to meet her first five men right now. Prepare yourselves for a bunch of gimmicks.

~ Chris just said she couldn’t outrun him in heels. Girls have a superpower sometimes & we can run real fast.

~ They’re setting up the outside of the mansion behind her.

~ WATER THE GROUND! THE GROUND IS ALWAYS WET ON OPENING NIGHT. WATER THE GROUND!

~ They didn’t water the ground.

~ “Don’t leave me” – she’s so cute

~ Out first is Luke, who has very extreme close range eye contact.

~ Out next is Dustin, who had two wine glasses, so they could make a toast. I’ve seen butter. Get it? Like “better” but “butter” because there was a toast? Does anyone follow my jokes?

~ “Cheers to the start of a wonderful beginning.”

~ I don’t think that makes sense. The start is the beginning.

~ NEXT!

~ We are going to get some seriously hilarious reactions out of her this season.

~ Out next is Cam from Austin, Texas. He unleashes a rap on her that’s kinda scary.

~ I think he got the Hannahs mixed up. Hannah G. is the one who can rap.

~ Up next is Connor. He brought her a bedazzled step stool, so they can always be on the same level. Do girls like that? A corny gesture mixed with a short joke?

~ Out last is Luke S., who looks like the child of former bachelor Nick, and Justin Timberlake. He made sure to embarrass his family the moment he opened his mouth.

~ Luke S. had one interesting opening line.

~ Hannah wants to give out a rose.

~ First rose of the season, wow.

~ Cam is getting the rose. The guy with the rap?

~ As much as I want to stop watching this show completely, next season is probably going to be filled with southern hunks because she’s “Alabama Hannah” and I am all in for it.

~ The Bachelorette starts on May 13.

~ Good, we have two months to recover and prepare.

~ “See you all at the mansion and try harder”. – Hannah Beast

Big thanks to Cass for joining me this season and giving her thoughts on the show!

And thank you to everyone who takes the time to read this every week! In my heart, this is the best Bachelor recap on the internet. I don’t care what anyone says. I hope you found it funny, if not informative and mildly ridiculous.

Viewing Notes will return on May 13.

See ya!

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Viewing Notes: The Bachelor (Colton) – Finale Pt. 1

Of course this show has a two-part season finale. Of course.

~ We kick things off with Chris Harrison in front of a studio audience.

~ He asks rhetorical questions like, “Will Colton come back to the show?” and “Will he find love with Tayshia or Hannah G.?” Such dumb questions. He’s under contract and is in love with Cassie. Come on, Chris.

~ Are we getting a recap now? We are! Time to fast forward!

~ Twelve minutes in and we have no new footage. There are 3 hours and 48 minutes left in this season. Maybe I should bury my head in pudding.

~ Now we jump (GET IT?) back into things in Portugal from the moment Colton jumped the fence.

~ Resident bounty hunter, Christopher Zzz. Harrison, goes for a light jog down the street, looking for Colton.

~ The production crew has hopped into a vehicle the mystery machine to go after the bachelor. They’re driving so slowly, it’s like they’re on the lookout for a deer.

~ Meanwhile, Chris is on a phone telling someone on the other end that it’s 11:40pm and they can’t find Colton. He says they’ll call the police in half an hour.

~ I guarantee there wasn’t anyone on the other end of that phone. Who’s he calling? The whole crew is already there.

~ The producers in the mystery machine have finally caught up to Colton. Colton just keeps walking, like Michael Myers in Halloween.

~ Back to Chris Harrison, who is on a different phone than he was on a minute ago. What a continuity error this is. Those darn phone case covers are blowing his cover!

~ Cut to Chris finally catching up to Colton. Colton says he is done. He has his wallet and that’s it.

~ Hasta la vista, maybe!

~ Chris is disappointed that Colton is “done done”.

~ They hop in a car to go back to the hotel.

~ Colton is crying as Chris H. reminds him that Tayshia and Hannah love him.

NOT NOW, C-HARRIS! HE DOESN’T LOVE THEM. YOU JUST WANT HIM TO RETURN TO THE SHOW AND PICK SOMEONE.

~ I don’t think Chris Harrison is here for the right reasons.

~ Back to the live studio audience, who are all deathly silent. Guys, this isn’t that serious. Giggle a little.

~ It’s the next morning and Chris knocks on Colton’s door.

~ Chris Harrison Sleeve Watch (It’s been awhile): ROLLED UP the rim to win.

~ “I was just worried about you.” – Chris, trying to get Colton to talk

~ Colton says that every time something good happens to him, it’s followed by something bad.

~ “I was falling in love with Tayshia. And I was falling in love with Hannah. I fell in love with Cassie.” – Colton

~ He thinks that Tayshia and Hannah being apart of this is what held Cassie back, while Chris chimes in with, “What if she’s just not that into you?”

~ Man, Chris is trying so hard to get him to stick around and pick someone else.

~ Colton has decided to fight for Cassie. Oh, here we go. Set up the boxing ring.

~ Colton is going to see Tayshia now.

~ They sit in silence. How sweet, he’s going to break up with her via telepathy.

~ “I knew that I was falling for you, but in my heart I know I can’t love two people.” – Colton

~ You mean to tell me, that the bachelor/bachelorette doesn’t actually fall in love with multiple people and then just pick one at the end!?

~ Well colour me inside the lines.

~ “I love Cassie.” – Colton

~ “Mhmm.” – Tayshia

~ Tayshia asks if they can talk without the cameras. He agrees and they go inside.

~ Too bad their microphones are still on. They’re both crying.

~ Get these people the heck out of Portugal and give them their lives back.

~ Tayshia grabs two small bags, gets in a taxi, and leaves. Does she not have to pack anything? Is the taxi just going to go in a circle and return to her room?

~ Now we have Chris talking to Tayshia in front of the studio audience.

~ I was fast forwarding through it and then saw Colton come out to talk to her, so I’ll watch 15 seconds and see what he says.

~ Tayshia says they had something special and lists off three glamourized dates they went on. Alright, back to fast forwarding.

~ Colton is now going to visit Hannah G, who we haven’t seen in two weeks.

~ She’s preparing for their date by writing in a diary and telling us she loves Colton. Well, this should be a train wreck.

~ Colton is giving her the same break-up speech he gave Tayshia.

~ Hannah is staring daggers through him.

~ “You still remind me of home.” – Colton

~ WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT AT A TIME LIKE THIS?

~ Hannah is thrown off right now. How dare he be in love with someone else, on a show that he once had 30 girlfriends!

~ “I was ready to move to wherever.” – Hannah

~ “What am I doing? I don’t want to lose you. I don’t know if I’m making the right decision.” – Colton

~ Well, this is just great. No one knows what they’re doing anymore.

~ “I don’t even get to explore…..us.” – Hannah. She was about to say “Portugal”, wasn’t she?

~ The entire premise of this show requires the bachelor to build up every relationship as far as they can and then dump all but one person at the drop of a hat, making every prior interaction feel meaningless.

~ The consolation prize is a bunch of Instagram followers and partnerships with brands that no one has ever heard of.

~ Colton leaves and cries in the hallway. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

~ Hannah is packing her suitcase because unlike Tayshia, she actually brought stuff with her to Portugal.

~ A producer asks him if he’s okay and gives him a hug. Hey, maybe they’d make a good couple.

~ Boltin’ Colton (it took me this long to think of a nickname, sorry) doesn’t know if he’s giving up a sure thing for something impossible.

~ We’re back in the studio and Hannah is with Chris. Time to fast forward because it’s just going to be a lot of “I was shocked” and “I thought it would be us in the end” and “I want to know why it wasn’t me”.

Former members of the show – Garrett, Ben, Blake, and Jason – are there for a roundtable discussion with Chris.

~ Yeah, this isn’t happening. I’m fast forwarding again.

~ Back in Portugal, Colton is packing his bags. He brought so much stuff, he might have to ship some back to the US by boat.

~ Cassie is still in Portugal, packing her things. Meanwhile, the other two girls got an escort to the airport the second they were let go.

~ What a rigged show. The producers kept her there because they knew there would be more scenes with her and Colton.

~ They are driving Colton to see Cassie. Did all the women stay at separate hotels on opposite sides of Portugal?

~ He knocks on her door and the camera cuts away, as we hear the door open.

~ I really hope it’s a random person on the other side of the door and they’re like, “Vut is a Cassie?”

~ Chris tells us tomorrow night will be crazy and what happens is truly shocking. Okay, Chris. Whatever you say.

There’s no reason why this should be two nights. See you tomorrow.

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