views from canada’s left coast

views on movies, sports, and politics

someone put Dion out of his misery

The latest news in a long series of bad news for the Liberals is that there is nearly open revolt amongst many top Liberals in Quebec.  Apparently the ground game in Quebec is going quite poorly.  Candidates are not elected in all of the ridings, fundraising is going poorly, and the party is having troubles organizing volunteers that it will need to fight any effective campaign.  I say it is time for Dion to shut everyone in the party up for good by bringing down the Conservative government; there is even an issue to bring them down over, the proposed immigration changes that are tied to a spending bill.

Dion will continue to face criticism from his party, particularly from the Quebec wing, right up until he manages to fight an election and regain some of the Liberal seats lost there in 2006.  Waiting makes no sense for Dion at this point in time.  It seems that at the present time many Liberal MPs would like to wait to see how bad the economy gets before going to the polls.  Maybe the economy will get pretty bad and the Conservatives will take a big hit for that, but maybe the economy will stabilize, heck maybe it will be better than predicted and then the Conservatives look like great financial managers.  There is just too much uncertainty on the economic forecast to hope that it will trip up the Conservatives.

If Dion were to bring down the Conservatives now he could quell the rising opposition in his party.  Dion would either do well in the campaign, maybe even well enough to win a minority government of his own, or fail miserably, in which case the Liberals can get rid of him.  The way I see it now is that Dion continues to face troubles from within his own party, continues to run away from confidence motions, continues to flounder on Liberal policy, all the way until the fall of 2009 when he loses big time in an election.  The Liberals should go to the polls now, either let Dion prove he is a worthy leader capable of running a successful campaign, or let him go down to defeat and find a better replacement.

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March 25, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , | Leave a comment

youtube is not necessarily lost ppv revenues for boxing

I read this on Boxing News today and I must say that I disagree with the article pretty strongly.  Basically the article highlights the large number of people now watching boxing matches, or portions of matches on youtube.com shortly after the fights are done (usually their are uploaded within a day).  Using the recent Pacquiao-Marquez rematch as an example the article says that potentially hundreds of thousands of pay per view dollars are lost when fans choose to watch the fight on youtube rather than purchase the fight for $50 to watch it live.  The assumption that many of the people watching on youtube would actually buy the fight if not for youtube is a weak one in my view.

A casual boxing fan is not likely to shell out $50 to watch any fight.  The casual fight fan might watch some highlights, might see a fight at a bar showing ppv sometimes, or watch fights available through regular cable channels.   Casual fight fans are also likely to check out some fights, or some clips on youtube on a regular basis.  By watching clips or entire fights on youtube that casual fight fan might even become a serious boxing fan if they like what they see.  Without youtube many boxing fans would never get to see many of the best bouts.  Most top boxing matches are put on ppv, usually at $50 or more for the card.  Only very serious fans will actually pay $50 a piece to see a fight, and only serious fans will manage to pool together several friends to buy the fight and watch it together.  Only serious fight fans will make a point of going out to a bar showing the fights on a Saturday night.

Youtube catches the attention of mostly casual fight fans, most of whom in my view would never consider buying the fights that they are watching.  It is my opinion that youtube might even lead to great ppv revenue as casual fight fans slowly become serious boxing fans as they are exposed to more and more great fights.

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Sports | | Leave a comment

Southland Tales (2/4)

I watched Southland Tales last night, the latest film from Richard Kelly of Donnie Darko fame.  The film received an incredibly poor reception at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and I can understand why.  The plot is confusing at best, and many times downright incomprehensible.  The film looks good, has some funny moments, and even a couple of good performances.  The movie is kind of a sci-fi, comedy, action, mystery, thriller, spoof, sorta thing.  In other words it does not really seem to know what it is, or maybe it does and the audience is just not smart enough to figure it out.  I am convinced that there is something going on in this movie, something that could have been great, but it is just too confusing to pick much out of the film.

I watched this movie on DVD where the version is apparently 20 minutes shorter than the one that was shown at Cannes.  The re-cut version is supposed to be more clear by cutting out some characters and plot lines, but it is still extremely confusing.  Perhaps there will be another version of this film one day, one where Richard Kelly can make the film as long as he would like, perhaps long enough to explain a little more what is actually going on in the film.  It seems unlikely that a film that has already had two version that no one liked would be released in yet a third version, but that is exactly what happened with Oliver Stone’s Alexander (which went from long, to to shorter, to much longer versions).

One thing worth noting is that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was again passable in this movie.  The Rock continues to put in workable, passable performances in a variety of roles.  Normally passable is not very high praise, but for an action star it is often the best that you can hope for.  I have great hope for The Rock, he is not a terrible actor, presumably can get better, has a great look for an action star and some decent off-screen charisma.

March 18, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , | 2 Comments

boxing vs mma, a draw in my opinion

These days it is hard to find any true boxing fans, especially in Vancouver. I have plenty of friends who are sports fans, and many of them follow mixed martial arts, primarily through the UFC, but none of them are real boxing fans. I can understand some of the appeal of MMA and the UFC. The top selling point is that top fighters are continually matched up against other top fighters. A loss is not a crushing blow to the career of an MMA fighter, whereas and undefeated boxer can lose most of their luster with a single defeat. What confuses me about most MMA fans, and their general apathy towards boxing is that the most popular fighters and the best fights tend to involve strikers and big knockouts. Boxing is all about punching, it is all that you can legally do in a fight. Most exciting MMA fights involve two guys who stand up and throw punches with perhaps a flying knee or a head kick thrown in.

I am not saying that MMA fans are wrong for liking the sport. What I am saying is that MMA fans should give boxing another shot. I think that largely due to the popularity of MMA boxing promoters have been forced to put on better fight cards. Top boxers are now facing other top boxers with increasing regularity. Last year was an outstanding year for boxing, and so far this year has been plenty entertaining as well. Pacquiao-Marquez II this past week was action packed, bloody, and brutal, a great fight. Even the generally lacklustre heavyweight division (which is still my favourite) put on a decent show between Sam Peter and Oleg Maskaev.

I think that boxing and MMA fans should stop arguing about which sport is better and start watching each other’s fights. I prefer boxing, but MMA offers a different brand of fighting that can be very exciting. For MMA fans who tire of too many long drawn out fights taking place mostly on the ground they should check out some of the big name boxing matches that have been and are continuing to take place. Even the heavyweight division, long the star of the boxing world, should get more exciting this year than in years past. Sam Peter now holds the WBC title and is due to fight Vitali Klitschko; they are both big punchers and Peter lacks almost any ability to avoid a punch. With fighters like Peter and Wladimir Klitschko at the top of the division there are bound to be some good slugfests coming up in the division.

March 18, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , | Leave a comment

When 3 out of 4 is kinda bad

The Liberals managed to win 3 out of the 4 by-elections held tonight, March 17th.  It was largely expected that the Liberals would win the 3 ridings that they did, but the result in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River is a disappointment.  Joan Beatty, Dion’s handpicked candidate is going to lose by about 16% to the Conservative candidate.  Granted by-elections do not always reflect the results that would happen if the vote were during a general election, but losing so big in a riding that was so close in 2006 has to be seen as a rather big disappointment.  Further, if Dion had allowed David Orchard to run in the riding instead the result might have been quite different tonight.

Even more disappointing than Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River is the result in Vancouver Quadra.   Joyce Murray, the Liberal candidate, is going to win, but only by about 3 percent.  Stephen Owen thoroughly dominated the field when he held the riding.  It is understandable that the Liberal numbers would slip somewhat, but to go from about 49% to about 37% is a pretty big, and potentially worrisome drop off.  The Liberals cannot afford to lose any of their BC seats in the next election.  If there is any hope for a Liberal victory in the general election it will have to mean that they hold what western seats they have now while hopefully adding some seats from Quebec.

While there are some disappointing results for the Liberals tonight overall they will spin the results as a victory.  The additions of Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay to the Liberal front benches should be a boost for the party.  Bob Rae in particular forms a nice contrast to both Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.  Adding Martha Hall Findlay strengthens the Liberal message and image of working hard to include women in the party.  Joyce Murray also helps with the Liberal gender message.

March 18, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast with Scot (2/4)

I don’t usually have much hope for any “gay themed” movies. They tend to be full of cliches, they tend to have poor acting, and they tend to follow along the lines of coming out stories. Breakfast with Scot had promise in that it appears to be a gay movie about parenting. I do not want to go much into the plot (I find it unhelpful for reviews to explain what happened in a movie, it just ruins the movie should the reader choose to go and watch it), I will just say that this movie is about a gay couple who unexpectedly are left in charge of raising an 11 or 12 year old boy. I spent the first half of the film generally offended by the tone, and particularly by the attitude of both of the new gay male parents. I found both “dads” to be homophobic homos. One character is understandably a little homophobic; he is a former NHL hockey player who has spent most of his life in the closet and is still closeted at work. We are not told if the other dad is out of the closet, he is a lawyer, so it is possible that he too is in the closet but this is never made clear. Regardless, both of the leads seem generally ashamed of themselves and their relationship. There are virtually no displays of affection between the two and not attempts to understand the others point of view. The characters came across as two straight male actors doing a poor job of playing two gay males are are supposed to be very much in love with each other.

If not for the second half of the movie I would not be giving this movie such a generous 2 out of 4 rating. While the ending is stereotypically cheesy with everything wrapped up in a nice tidy little bow, it is nonetheless somewhat heart warming. There is slightly more affection shown between the dads and between them and the young boy Scot, who is now their son.

Perhaps I am just not the right audience for this movie. I can see how the lack of any gay male affection in the movie would be a smart move if the target audience were a straight one. The film goes out of its way not to offend heterosexuals, but while doing so comes across in many parts as offensive to gay people. If this movie somehow manages to reach some straight people and improve their perceptions of gay people in general then I would say the movie is a success. However, I do not see many straight people rushing to the video rental store to pick up this flick. I sincerely hope that most gay people, like myself, are at least somewhat offended by the poor portrayal of gay male relationships in this film.

Breakfast with Scot

Starring: Tom Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman, and Noah Bernett

Directed by Laurie Lynd, Written by Sean Reycraft (from the novel by Michael Downing)

A 2007 Canadian production

Running time 90 mins

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , , , | Leave a comment

Trade Luongo

I know that it would seem crazy to trade the Canucks best player and probably the best goalie in the league, but can we win with this team? I think that the answer is no. The Canucks clearly do not have the offensive firepower to be serious contenders. Granted we would be next to nowhere without Luongo saving the game virtually every night, but we would be able to get something very serious in return for Luongo.

Lots of Canucks fans, including myself, think that next year will be a better year. This year we have $9.2 million in cap space tied up with Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison. If there were someone out there this summer to throw $9.2 million a year at then we might have a real cup contender for the 08/09 season. The only top notch unrestricted free agent this summer will be Marian Hossa. In my view Hossa is not worth $9 million a year. He is not even the kind of player that I would pay $6 million. If the Canucks are going to throw top of the league type money at someone it had better be a big dominant centre, not another flimy European player.  There are also no impending restricted free agents that the Canucks could throw a huge contract at.  That pretty much just leaves the trade route to improve the team.

Luongo is the biggest assets that the Canucks have.  He is there only franchise type of player, he is the only guy they have that they could trade and get a real bona fide star back in return.  I am not sure if we would have the goaltending to go it without Luongo, but Schneider will have get his shot at some point.  There is another problem of finding a team that has assets to move for someone like Luongo.  Tampa Bay seems like an obvious candidate, someone like Lecavalier would be a fare straight up trade.  With Richards gone now I think that Tampa might have to hold on to Lecavalier and hope that Mike Smith solves their goaltending troubles.

If the Canucks hold on to Luongo, and I think that they will, he would definitely be a prime candidate to trade in the 09 offseason.  Luongo has two more years on his deal after this year.  It seems almost certain to me that Luongo will not resign with the Canucks unless they are defending cup champions at the time, or perhaps were in the finals the year his contract was up.  Luongo’s wife still lives in Florida.  They have a young family.  It seems like Luongo would like to at least play on the East Coast so that he could be closer to his wife and young child.

I like the fact that Nonis went out and made the big deal to get Luongo.  I do not like the fact that since we have had such a great goalie we have completely lost our ability to play an exciting style of hockey.  I like to see the Canucks win, but watching them grind out one goal victories night after night gets very frustrating.  Even in games where the Canucks get a lot of chances they can never really finish teams off.  They need a scoring forward with the killer instinct to put away the good chances that they get.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , | 1 Comment

Bill C-10, is it a veiled attempt at censorship?

Tax credits for Canadian film and television productions supposedly serve both a financial and cultural purpose.  The tax credits help keep Canadian production going, keeping people working in the industry with all the positive economic spin-offs that come from that.  Tax credits by helping to keep the industry alive also serve a cultural purpose in that there continues to be Canadian film and television product out there on the market for Canadians and the world to consume should they so desire.  I think that the real purpose of tax credits is a cultural one more than anything.  Tax credits could be given to all sorts of different industries out there, or corporate tax rates could be cut, or direct subsidies could be given to certain industries.  The tax credits are more like an easy way to subsidize a major part of Canada’s cultural industry.  I think that it is culturally important to have Canadians films and television programs, in fact we probably do not have enough of them as it is.

The changes proposed by the Conservatives to the tax credit system would allow Heritage Canada to deny tax credits to productions that it deems are contrary to public policy.  What exactly, or even imprecisely, “contrary to public policy” means is unknown.  I think that it is very dangerous to start picking and choosing what productions get tax breaks and which do not.  The worry that violent or exploitative productions may benefit from government programs is one that is not warranted in my view.  What is too violent?  What is exploitative?  If the worry is funding films that promote violence or hatred that sort of thing will already be caught with provisions in the Criminal Code.  Productions the exploit children would be caught by employment standards legislation, and productions that go even further and potentially sexually exploit children would be caught by the Criminal Code.  We already have laws in place to prevent unlawful things from being recorded and passed off as art.  If the images and storyline being depicted fall within the law then it should not be the role of government to decide which films get tax credits and which do not.

Being a gay male I am always wary of the potential to censor.  The past 20 years has shown that when government employees are given the ability to censor gay and lesbian material they tend to go way overboard (the ongoing battles of Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium have proven that).  Queer people are clearly not the most popular with this government either.  If given the chance I am sure that many in the Conservative party would undue all the legal and legislative victories that queer people have achieved over the decades.

Bill C-10 is currently being reviewed by the Senate Baking Committee.  Now that the potential censorship issues have been brought to light I think that it is incumbent upon the Liberal dominated Senate to amend the bill and send it back to the Commons for more review and discussion.  If the Conservatives are determined to allow Heritage Canada to deny tax credits to certain film and television productions there should at the very least be a set of guidelines developed so that bureaucrats are not able to make arbitrary decisions, and even worse to prevent Conservative politicians from giving orders about what films/television programs pass muster and which do not.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Liberals look bad on Afghanistan

Tonight the House passed the Conservative/Liberal compromise on the mission in Afghanistan, agreeing to extend the mission until at least 2011, in all likelihood continuing the dangerous assignment in the Kandahar region during that time.  While the motion has some wording about putting more emphasis on development and assistance the mission appears to be set to continue along the same lines that it has for the past 5 years plus.  I like the extension to the mission, I think that Canada is playing an important role in Afghanistan, and I think that our input there strengthens our voice in international affairs and we are actually fighting to make a difference for millions of Afghani citizens.

Even though I support the mission and the extension I think that the Liberals have made a big political mistake on the issue.  Up until very recently the Liberals, and Dion in particular were calling for an end to the combat mission by the current deadline of February 2009.  The Conservatives did a good job of getting John Manley on board for the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan.  With Manley’s voice behind the recommendations it suddenly became very difficult for the Liberals to continue to call for an end to the combat mission by early 2009.  What makes the Liberal move to support the extension of the combat mission is how vocal they had been about bringing it to an end in February 2009.  If the Liberals were not willing to make Afghanistan a major campaign issue they should not have been talking about it so much in the lead up and aftermath of the Manley Report.

The Liberals need to adopt some strategy out of the Conservative playbook.  Pick some key issues, something clearly Liberal, and something also small ‘l’ liberal and stick to those issues.  Granted they have to respond to whatever the government brings forth, but they can avoid taking unequivocal positions and then backing down when it actually comes time to back up their rhetoric by voting in the House.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , | Leave a comment

Sign someone, anyone, please J.P.

Casey Janssen went from either an excellent option for a fifth starter in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation, or a good 7th or 8th inning man to nothing, he is gone for the season before the season has even started.  Gustavo Chacin is apparently not close to being ready for the rotation at the beginning of the season leaving only Jesse Litsch as an option for the fifth spot in the Jays rotation.  I like Litsch, he pitched well last year and should continue to improve but I see him better suited to AAA this year with the occasional call up to fill in for the injuries that are sure to affect the Jays this season.

The Jays strangely decided to sign Armando Benitez to a minor league deal yesterday, before they found out about Janssen being gone for the season.  Ricciardi said that Benitez was available, looked good throwing for the Jays staff, so they signed him.  Nothing wrong with having an abundance of good arms in camp.  Using that same thinking, Ricciardi should go out and get the Jays a fifth starter, or at least an option as the fifth starter, someone to compete with, and push Litsch.  Kyle Lohse, Freddy Garcia, and now Horacio Ramirez recently released by the Seattle Mariners are all available starting pitchers.   Garcia is coming off an almost completely lost season due to injuries.  Garcia might be a bit of a longshot, but he might be worth a look.  Lohse was looking to sign a big multi-year deal this offseason but so far has gotten nothing.  Lohse would probably demand a decent paycheque, he is has the potential to still be a strong starter, and at 29 should be entering his prime years.  I don’t think that the Jays should sign Lohse long term, but if they could get him for one year at $3-5 million I would take him in an instant.  Ramirez looks like a terrible option based on his awful 2007 numbers (8-7, 7.16 ERA).  The upside to Ramirez is that he is a lefty.  The Jays do not have any left handed starters.  Ramirez is a relatively soft tosser and would make a good contrast in a series where Halladay gets to pitch right after him.   Assume as well that Halladay and Burnett will both at least miss a few starts.  Inserting Ramirez in to the 1, 2, or 3 slot would allow the Jays to have a lefty thrown in to the mix in most series that they play.

Litsch might very well be the best option available to the Jays right now as a fifth starter, but is clear that the Jays starters are incapable of going through a season without some injuries.  Litsch would benefit a great deal from regular starts at AAA where he should dominate many hitters.  When someone in the rotation inevitably goes down Litsch would be a great call up.  Without Litsch as insurance the Jays would have to rely on some other young, untested arm.  Go out and sign some insurance J.P., the fans deserve it.

March 12, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , | 1 Comment