Football withdrawal update: NASCAR weekend in Daytona was a wreck-fest

Here is my latest update on how I have been surviving my football withdrawal symptoms so far. This weekend was a little better because NASCAR has come to the rescue! Yes, the auto racing season is on for real now, with Daytona happening this weekend.

Quite honestly, though, the two races on the weekend were wreck-fests. The Xfinity race on Saturday went into overtime because of a wreck in the late going, but it didn’t end there.

Because of some new NASCAR rule that allows unlimited overtime restarts, we ended up with five overtimes due to five different yellows, one of which was from a big 18-car pileup in the first overtime. In the end, Tyler Reddick nosed out Elliott Sadler by a hair for the win.

Then came the Daytona 500 the next day, which also saw its share of wrecks.

Danica Patrick ended her NASCAR career in absolutely typical Danica fashion, with her GoDaddy car getting collected due to an incident that wasn’t her doing. Again.

That wasn’t even “The Big One”. This was:

Finally, in overtime, the leader of the race Aric Almirola hits the wall and hands the 500 to Austin Dillon.

See, this sort of mayhem is the reason why NASCAR is my preferred entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays now, at least until baseball season begins. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to concentrate on upper-crust sports like PGA golf, even though I did catch some of that Genesis Open at Pacific Palisades, California won by Bubba Watson.

As an aside, it was a big weekend for sports in Southern California. It was NBA All-Star Weekend in LA. For some reason, though, everyone is talking about Fergie and her absolutely wretched version of the national anthem before the game. It was so wretched, in fact, that nobody remembers what happened in the game. Hint: LeBron’s team won.

Finally, in UFC news it was a big weekend at UFC Austin for “Cowboy” Cerrone.

Anyway, bottom line is this die-hard football fan is surviving the offseason just fine. Baseball spring training games are happening soon, and it is only another three months until CFL training camps are under way here in Canada!

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Black Panther shatters Feb. record! The fifth largest opening weekend of all time!

It has been a while since I had a post about record-shattering movie 🎥 box office news, but this latest news is big: the latest Marvel effort Black Panther had a weekend domestic haul of $201.8 million, and is expected to haul in $235 million including the Monday holiday.

It is the biggest February domestic opening of all time (shattering Deadpool’s record of $132 mil), the biggest pre-summer weekend, the biggest non-sequel opening weekend, and is the fifth highest opening weekend, ever!

That’s not all the records that fell. Here is a rundown at Forbes of all the records it set.

Is February the new July when it comes to the box office? I dunno about that, but we’re certainly seeing a situation where maybe one movie a year can open in Feb. at the cinemas and do blockbuster numbers. 🍿 🍿 🍿

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs are one big soap opera right now

I really wonder why I am covering politics in Saskatchewan when it is so obvious that Ontario provincial politics is so much more interesting and exciting. (!) (?)

It is sad to watch what is going on with the Ontario PCs right now, they are tearing themselves apart. As you know, this Ontario PC leadership contest is going on, prompted by Patrick Brown resigning in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations that were aired by CTV News.

Well, this week came word that the accusers’ story may, ahem, not have been accurate. In particular, the part claiming one of the accusers was underage.

So now, CTV News’s credibility is in the dumpster over their hit-job story that ruined Brown. Brown is now suing CTV News, and he has been making the media rounds this week over at Global, rehabilitating himself.

Then came news that Brown supposedly didn’t actually authorize his own resignation, followed by the stunning news Friday that he was being kicked out of the Ontario PC caucus, followed closely by the even more stunning news that Brown was entering the leadership race to succeed himself!

That was what I was tuning into Friday: news coverage from Toronto of Brown filing his papers with the party, surrounded by a mob scene of television cameras.

What a gong show, folks, in Ontario. It wasn’t like this when I was living there.

High school massacre in Florida, and Jerry Howarth departure, top the News from Nowhere

After spending the past couple of weeks covering a major trial for hours on end, including outdoors in minus-30 weather, I finally have free time!

I am finally using my banked days for working weekend assignments, so with the exception of one work assignment scheduled for tomorrow, I have a bunch of days off! It’s about time, because I am exhausted.

So, on my first day off what am I doing? Right, I’m watching the news. Again.

Of course, the news is bad. This time it is a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, near Miami. At this point 17 people are confirmed dead. Good grief.

Honestly, I need to watch less of the depressing news and more of the sports. Of which there is plenty to watch.

And bye bye to a class act, Jerry Howarth made the announcement yesterday that he has retired after 36 years of calling Toronto Blue Jays games on the radio, many of them with the late Tom Cheek.

Now, here’s my Jerry Howarth story: back in 2000 when I was a lowly intern at Headline Sports/The Score, I would quite often be the guy who would courier the tapes of Howarth’s post-game interviews back to the station to be put on the air. That was during that brief interlude when Headline Sports held the radio rights to the Blue Iays. This is definitely the end of an era, and hopefully the Ford Frick award is next.

Finally, I notice it is Valentine’s Day, which reminds me to check and see how that hard-R Fifty Shades Freed did at the box office. I see this series has made its usual money, with an opening weekend haul of $38.8 million. This is the end of the series, fortunately.

That is it for now.

Today, I’m trying to return to my normal life watching sports

Now that Sunday has arrived and I have no news assignments to go to today, for a change, I am attempting to resume my full-time activities following the things that are really important in life. Sports.

Last Sunday, I was at a friend’s place watching the Philadelphia Eagles shock the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. We also had a computer screen set up, so we were able to tune in to the local news from Philadelphia to see the fan reaction live. We watched all the entertaining live coverage of all these crazies running into the streets.

To say they went too crazy is a bit of an understatement. I guess there was also looting that went on.

What do you expect? These big sporting events tend to bring out the people who want to use a Super Bowl win as their big excuse to wreak havoc.

Now, we are into the NFL offseason, which always is an annual come-down for North American sports fans as we struggle to find decent “alternative programming” to fill the time until baseball returns.

But it’s not just a struggle for the fans, it’s also a struggle for the US television networks. Here is what we are getting served up this weekend:

  • Your favourite CBS announcers are trying to get excited covering PGA Tour golf at the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. I guess Jim Nantz is commentating while Tony Romo is actually playing in it — funny stuff.
  • They’re also showing college basketball today on CBS. Michigan vs. Wisconsin.
  • Your favourite Fox Sports announcers are covering NASCAR qualifying at Daytona, as well as the “Clash”. Next week is the Daytona 500; the “real” NASCAR season can’t begin fast enough.
  • Over on ABC, later in the afternoon is the NBA. Cleveland at Boston. I guess the NBA will be the real replacement programming for most fans.
  • As for NBC, today they are showing a hockey game. Pittsburgh at St. Louis.
  • Oh, yeah. I think NBC is also showing something today called the Winter Olympics. From South Korea.

The thing about the Winter Olympics is that I just don’t feel into it this year. This is all because of this NHL decision to prevent NHL players from going to the Olympics. So instead of watching the Olympics, I’m watching the NHL most nights.

Which, by the way, is great for the NHL! They automatically pick up an audience of sports fans post-Super Bowl who are desperate for some hard-hitting team sport to watch, now that the NFL is over.

But really, when you look at the lineup of sports on TV today, this is exactly what this lineup amounts to. Desperation programming, for desperate people.

I guess I’ll be spending today flipping channels between NASCAR and golf. I should actually watch golf more often. It’s a nice, calm sport, and I really do need to relax after these last couple of weeks.

My story is up now. Gerald Stanley found not guilty.

The verdict came down last night at the Battleford court house, and it was stunning. Gerald Stanley found not guilty of second-degree murder, they even cleared him of manslaughter. My story here.

I was in the courtroom when it happened and it was a very ugly scene in there when the verdict came down as you can tell. Lots of crying and yelling.

My range of thoughts about it have ranged from being completely shocked at the verdict (and I don’t surprise easily), to thinking this was a complete miscarriage of justice (I had thought this was at least manslaughter) to my current mood. That is summed up by the words “what the H happened?!”

I went to an FSIN news conference last night and today I’m going to cover a rally outside the North Battleford court house. It is fair to say I have to stick with this story, even though it’s the weekend and I am exhausted by the trial. But I can’t blow this off, I feel I need to be there to cover this rally today.

Stanley trial update: jury deliberations now on

Here are the stories I filed today from what has been the most important day yet at the Stanley trial.

First, here is my story on closing statements.

Next, my story on the charge to the jury and start of deliberations.

Finally, my story on the end of the first day of jury deliberations.

That’s it. Back in court tomorrow, at 9 am.

Closing statements tomorrow in the Gerald Stanley murder trial

The closing statements in the murder trial of Gerald Stanley go tomorrow in Battleford, and it seems likely the jury will start deliberations later on in the day. All in all, I am glad we have made it to this point, because it will mean a lot less work for me in general. I’ve been filing multiple stories a day which have been running not just locally, but in several newspapers and online news outlets around the province. Also, I’ve been Tweeting from the courtroom, which has given me sore thumbs as well as a sore back.

So even though I am happy to have worked on such a major story alongside all these reporters from the major news outlets, it has also been a lot of work and it has been exhausting. Moreover, I’ve been standing out there, shooting videos of people going in and out of the court house when it is so utterly, bleeping cold outside. So that’s another reason why I will be glad when this is over.

Also, the other thing I should mention is it has been a sad week here in the press pool because one of the reporters in Battleford covering this trial, Manfred Joehnck from MBC Radio, died suddenly this week. That was really stunning news for those of us here, but we all have to press on with the work we have to do.

Here are links to some stories I filed earlier this week:

First, the morning testimony from the defence witnesses on Monday.

Then, the testimony from Gerald Stanley taking the stand in his own defence that same afternoon. And finally, the reaction to it on the court house steps.

That is all for the time being.

Stanley trial: roundup of the week’s stories

I am trying to have a relaxing weekend before I resume tweeting and writing stories about the Gerald Stanley murder trial. This case has pretty much taken over my life this week, so I do need some sort of break in order to keep my sanity. Fortunately, the Super Bowl is tonight between New England and Philadelphia, so that will be what I am focusing on.

We pick up my roundup of stories from this week with Wednesday’s proceedings:

First, the Crown testimony of Sheldon Stanley. That is Gerald Stanley’s son.

Then the afternoon testimony of Eric Meechance.

Then the Thursday testimony, with the credibility of Crown witnesses under attack.

Then the Friday session, dominated by firearms.

As a bonus, here’s a story about the comments of FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron about the trial.

That is it for now. Busy week ahead.

F1 gets rid of the grid girls. They might as well get rid of their fans, too.

Instead of my usual trial stuff, I am now putting up a piece about Formula 1 and what they are doing.

Like I said before: “when it’s no fun anymore, I’m out.” That’s been my warning to the entertainment industry for all of what it has been doing lately, with all their politics and boring movies, and now it’s also my warning to Formula 1. This week, they decided to get rid of the gorgeous grid girls on the track at the start of races, saying the practice is “clearly at odds with modern-day societal norms.”

Yes, political correctness has struck again. More puritanism! More left-wing fascism! And people still wonder why Trump has supporters? It’s stuff like this!

Incidentally, this sport is now American-owned. This is Liberty Media making this move, so it figures.

I notice ex-boss Bernie Ecclestone was criticizing this decision and saying how he would never have done this. I also notice a lot of “grid girls” have been taking to social media and trashing the decision as well. I know Kelly Brook has condemned this decision (and I have plenty of time for Kelly Brook, I think she’s great); so have a few other ones:

There has been a huge backlash from race fans on social media, bigger than I expected. Seriously, I can’t believe how mad people are about this.

But seriously, what do these new owners think this sport is, tennis? Grid girls are a part of auto racing, just like cheerleaders are part of football. Just like walk-on girls are part of darts — except, wait a minute, they’ve had to walk the plank as well.

Like I said, every sport has a culture, and the culture of auto racing is to have glamorous women there. It’s a glamorous, sexy sport, people, so don’t turn around and say it should act dead-serious like the other sports. This is not tennis, folks, this is not golf, this is not curling! This is not the Olympic Games! It’s auto racing, folks. Auto racing!

And what is the culture of auto racing? That’s right: fast cars, and fast women.

Besides, it is not as if these grid girls are scantily clad. Not at all. In fact, a lot of them wear classy dresses and similar outfits these days, particularly in these more conservative places like Malaysia.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. The vocal minority has struck again. Don’t try to sell me on this line that getting rid of grid girls is feminist. This so-called “feminist” decision has just put a lot of women out of their glamorous, fun gigs at F1 races that could have led to modelling jobs that would have made them rich and famous. Even if they didn’t, they still got into these races for free! And got paid.

Now these women will have to settle for boring office jobs. Also, instead of getting into F1 races for free, they’ll have to fork over $200 bucks to get in like everyone else. Good luck getting anywhere near the track.

This raises another question. With the grid girls gone, is F1 now going to cut their ticket prices at races for the fans?

I didn’t think so. Same old sky-high ticket prices, but less to see. Nice work, F1.

It is stuff like this that makes you nostalgic for the good old days of F1, the days when they still staged races in countries with democratic forms of government, and when they still had cigarette ads all over the vehicles. Remember those? They weren’t so long ago, either. Of course, this sport eventually got rid of cigarette advertising, because cigarettes are bad for people. So, what are they saying here? That beautiful women are bad for people?

Oh yeah, that’s right: men are bad for people. I guess that’s the message F1 is sending.

Seriously, any further nonsense from F1 and I’m done with them. I’ll simply follow NASCAR full-time. Next thing you know, these guys in charge there will try and ban the gasoline in the F1 cars because it pollutes the environment.

Update: As an aside, race car legend Niki Lauda has also condemned this decision, but is suggesting maybe bringing in additional “grid boys” to go along with the grid girls. I’d be fine with that. What’s good for the goose ought to be good for the gander and vice versa, but no one in the F1 leadership is thinking of the fans right now.

Stanley trial day 2: first day of witnesses

Gerald Stanley trial day 1: jury selection

So, here is my story from this morning before the jury selection began. And here is the one I filed after it was selected in Battleford.

Below, here are some Tweets that I posted and re-Tweeted on my Twitter feed today while watching the proceedings.

Not even the Grammys offer any escape from all this political nonsense

The Grammys saw lots of political statements last night. Also reminders, too, about the terrorist attacks at musical venues in Manchester and Las Vegas. Depressing.

Yes, there really is no escape from it in the Upset States of America.

Now, thoughts on XFL 2, the second coming! Heaven help us all

The news broke last week that WWE boss Vince McMahon is bringing the XFL back in 2020. Folks, anyone who was alive to see the utter embarrassment that was the XFL back in 2001 has to wonder why McMahon even bothers. I guess he has a lot of money to throw away.

Apparently, this attempt will be totally different from the cheerleader-strippers and stupid “He Hate Me” slogans on the backs of jerseys, all of which typified McMahon’s previous football effort.

One of the things McMahon plans to do is force all these players to stand for the national anthems; otherwise, they will be fired. This way, they figure, they will attract all the disgruntled fans currently fed up with all this political-activism nonsense ravaging the NFL.

Also, McMahon says he will keep the “criminals” out of this league – ie. Colin Kaepernick and Johnny Manziel. So maybe this XFL 2 does stand a chance, after all — as the league for Trump voters.

I suppose there is one positive about all this. If this latest XFL makes it, it will give the Saskatchewan Roughriders a football league to play in if the CFL ever goes under.

(Ha ha ha! Actually, this is not funny at all; it could actually happen if more fans don’t show up.)

Yes, I plan to be live-Tweeting at the Gerald Stanley murder trial

Monday marks the start of the trial of Gerald Stanley in Battleford — he is the man charged with the second-degree murder of young Indigenous man Colten Boushie. I will be covering the trial and plan to post Tweets at @JohnWCairns and @TheNewsOptimist, and also post stories at http://www.newsoptimist.ca. I might also post stuff here at this blog, but it will probably consist of links to the News-Optimist stories I’ve filed.

Much has already been said about this trial, which is going to attract a ton of media attention. I was down at Boston Pizza tonight and happened to notice the CBC live truck outside – a sure sign that this place is about to become the News Capital of Canada. Again.

Jury selection begins Monday, and then on Tuesday this case should get under way.

Personally, I don’t know if I am excited to cover this trial or not. This case has been so politicized, with so many heated emotions and a lot of talk about “racial tensions”. I guess my approach in this tense atmosphere is that I am going to lie low and just report the facts that come out in court, and do the best I can with this story.

The picture above is one I took from the preliminary hearing held in North Battleford in April. Yes, that is the accused Stanley carrying that box of materials, he is actually out on bail at the moment.

My story on Scott Moe’s leadership victory is now up.

Read it here. I also have filed an even lengthier story about this vote, which will run later this week. (Update: Here it is.)

Also, if anyone in Saskatchewan has “political withdrawal” symptoms after following this race, remember that you can always follow the Ontario PCs. (Update: I guess the PCs are totally imploding as we speak; their president just quit.)

My coverage plans for Saturday’s Sask Party leadership vote

I officially have no life for the next three weeks as I will be covering a ton of important news. On Saturday, I plan to brave the snow on the roads to cover the Sask Party leadership vote at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. I plan to cover it on Twitter at my handle @JohnWCairns, and at the News-Optimist’s account which is @TheNewsOptimist. I will also be filing stories soon after for the paper.

The winner of this vote replaces Brad Wall to be the new Premier of Saskatchewan. The victor also takes over a party with a massive legislative majority and a double-digit lead in the polls, in spite of various problems the party faced in the past year such as an unpopular budget.

Despite all that, they are still ahead. Likely, Saskatchewan will continue to be one of the more boring provinces for politics for the foreseeable future — something that cannot be said for other provinces, like Ontario.

Can you believe what happened there? Indeed, Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown resigned this week after two women accused him of sexual misconduct! The way this played out was a real gong show, with a strange press conference where a very shellshocked-looking Brown totally denied the accusations and pledged to fight them. That was followed by members of his own staff resigning and his whole party basically disowning him, before Brown finally resigned himself.

To add to this, CTV Toronto reporter Paul Bliss, who reported this story, was just suspended today for sexual misconduct! So, things have gone completely bat crazy in Ontario, it’s like Rob Ford never left (RIP).

All I will say is I could never imagine any of these five individuals running here in Saskatchewan getting caught up in something like this. They all seem like fine upstanding citizens. Anyway, one of them will be the new Premier as of tomorrow.

This is not the only major news I am covering. I am also covering the murder trial of Gerald Stanley happening in Battleford next week, and I also plan to be on social media for that one. This is a very big deal, the whole provincial media will be there and even some national ones, too. I’ll tell you more about it in a later post.

My review of Molly’s Game is up!

Democrats cave; U.S. government shutdown ends

Everyone is freaking out over the prospect of a US government shutdown!!

The media has been going ape about this “Trump Shutdown” story all day. Latest news: the latest spending bill to prevent a government shutdown just failed in the Senate.

Oh, boy. Well, all I will say about this is it sure knocks Stormy Daniels out of the news, doesn’t it?

Update: And we are now past the midnight deadline. Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has just issued a statement calling the Democrats “obstructionist losers”.

Not even ill health can stop Maria Lampropulos in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

So, the news out of the Bahamas is that the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is now over for 2018, with the Main Event won for the first time by a female: Maria Lampropulos of Argentina.

She outlasted the entire final table to take home over $1 million smackeroos, even though she was under the weather the whole time. She was forever coughing and wheezing on the final table live stream. “Cough, cough!”

Some people thought it was impressive that Lampropulos managed to win even though she was so sick; normally, being under the weather would be too big a distraction for most players. Others thought this was an unfair distraction to the other players, who ended up tilted by her coughing fits!

Too bad, guys. If this coughing really was a “strategy” instead of a real sickness, then it’s the rest of the field’s fault that they didn’t come up with this idea first.

To the winner goes the spoils, or in this case, the money. Congratulations, Maria; now go to bed.

On a related note, I had an opportunity to see the poker movie Molly’s Game on the weekend, so expect a link to my movie review of it, soon.

My 2017 Box Office Year in Review column is up!

I forgot to put this up, but I figure I should put it up before it gets too stale: the 2017 Box Office results. Obviously, the ultimate triumph of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was overshadowed by big jerk Harvey Weinstein and all his awful nonsense.

As an aside — I see that more articles have started to appear, talking about a growing backlash to the #MeToo movement. There was one piece by Andrew Sullivan that was particularly notable, saying it was time to resist the movement’s excesses, and it also mentioned that letter signed by 100 French women in Le Monde that took a similar stance.

Actress Catherine Deneuve was one of the women who signed that letter and I notice she has now had to dial back on it a bit and apologize to sex assault victims, after people got outraged on Twitter over it.

(Seriously, I think I’m with the people who worry this #MeToo movement is going too far. Due process has taken a hit, and I dislike the puritanical overtones of it. Of course, anyone who says this immediately gets piled on on social media — which is the surest sign of a witch hunt. Dialing back the hysteria would seem to be a good thing, but keep in mind, this is 2018 and this is a tall order.)

Enough of that. If you are wondering what happened at the box office this past weekend, here’s the story of how Jumanji took top spot.

So, it was an interesting day in Hawaii today

Trump does it again; wants to keep people out from “s***hole” countries

President Donald Trump has yet again sent all of polite society into an outrage with his lewd, crude reported comments (I underline “reported”) where a source told CNN that Trump said “Why do we want all these people from ‘s***hole countries’ coming here?” in a meeting. Trump was apparently referring to Haiti and to African countries when he said this.

Now he’s gone too far, folks. I know people are up in arms over Trump disparaging and insulting these countries, but I don’t have as big a problem with that because a lot of places really are lousy to begin with.

My issue is he is disparaging the people from these countries who want to go to America! It doesn’t occur to Trump that there are people elsewhere in the world who are desperate to leave their terrible situations and despotic regimes, who would like to better themselves by pursuing and living the American Dream in a prosperous country that has basic human rights.

Immigrants are the backbone of the USA and are the ones who made the country successful, but obviously the President isn’t big on that and hasn’t been for a long time. Trump also bashed Mexicans right on the first day of his presidential campaign, as I recall. Honestly, I don’t know why the media is suddenly acting surprised. This is nothing new out of him.

Further on this topic, my dad is actually from one of these “s***hole” countries that Trump was supposedly referring to. South Africa!

Now granted, he emigrated during a much different era in South Africa, when things there were a little more prosperous. But it was still an awful country. Apartheid was terrible, the whites-only rule was awful! And life for the black population was very bad, indeed. South Africa was borderline fascist and 100-percent racist, and a blight to the world for that reason.

They have since gotten rid of apartheid, but while South Africa is admittedly a better place than a lot of other African countries and probably doesn’t deserve to be labelled a s***hole, the place has a litany of other problems now — crime, corruption, you name it. Plus, you still have South Africans leaving the country for job opportunities elsewhere in the world.

So, what is Trump saying — that he considers everyone in South Africa awful? That South Africans are supposed to stay there? I guess his real message to everyone in Africa is “don’t come to America”.

To which my response is: come here to Canada instead, we’re a much more welcoming country! Actually, it seems like almost the whole rest of the world is more welcoming than the United States is at the moment.

Anyway, that is enough from me about Trump for one session.

———————————————–

UPDATE: here is some South African reaction to Trump’s big filthy mouth, obviously a lot of South Africans feel insulted.

Full disclosure: I’ve been to South Africa on two occasions and didn’t think the place was a s***hole from what I saw of it. But that was a long time ago, back in apartheid days, and I was staying in top-notch hotels. So my views might be a little skewed for those reasons.

Steve Bannon out as head of Breitbart

In the wake of the controversy over Steve Bannon and his quotes in the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury towards Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and everyone else, he is now done at Breitbart.

CNN is going hog wild covering this, obviously there is nothing else important for them to report on in the world.

Weather report: not much escape anywhere from the COLD

Watching NBA games on TV from places like Phoenix and LA has got me thinking about where I might take a winter getaway vacation. As it stands, it looks like I am not going anywhere until the latter part of February at the earliest, and it’s not just because I have no money and have a ton of work assignments on the schedule. It’s also because it’s too darn COLD!

Check out this Weather Channel map of temps in the US of A tonight:

Of course Canadians are looking at this map and are laughing at these balmy temps (!). “You call that ‘cold’?” I think it’s actually warmer where I am in SK than in parts of Nevada. Las Vegas is not terrible, though, but not fantastic either — they are currently reporting 53 degrees F.

Based on this map, the usual-suspects southern California, southern Arizona and south Florida are your best escapes from the cold in the continental US. And just think, this map looked even worse only a few days ago. Winter sucks! That is all.

UPDATE: the NBA games are over and I am now watching live-streaming of poker. Las Vegas, I promise, I will be back one of these days.

Sorry, but I am not watching the Golden Globes, I’m sick of Hollywood

When it comes to the things I am interested in, I have long had a policy of “if it’s not fun anymore, I’m out.” I am fast reaching that point with the entertainment industry.

They are depressing, and their entire product is also depressing. Sorry, folks, but that is how I feel right now.

I’m not tuning in the Golden Globes, it looks like a miserable affair. These actresses who are wearing black tonight have legitimate gripes, but I have no interest in watching a funeral. As for the guys, who can root for any of them? I’m sick of Hollywood’s cesspool, and fed up with the film and TV industry’s self-importance and one-party politics. Drain the swamp, already.

I am currently tuned to the NBA, following a whole weekend of watching the NFL playoffs. In between times, I am checking my Twitter feed to see the usual cut-down reaction from conservative pundits and other critics to the Golden Globes; it’s more fun than the actual show.

UPDATE: I guess the real news to come out of the Golden Globes is that Oprah is running for President. (!)

“Weather Bomb”, not a “nuclear bomb”, leads the News from Nowhere

Here is a brief News from Nowhere on a day and night when the East Coast is getting socked by a big Nor’Easter known as the “Weather Bomb”, or “Bomb Cyclone.” Hey, as long as it is not a “nuclear bomb,” it’s okay. I notice the Boston stations on cable TV had nonstop coverage of the snow today, I was tuning in to some of that.

In other news of the week:

President Donald Trump has thrown Steve Bannon under the bus.

Meanwhile, Trump is in a Twitter scrap with North Korea over the size of the nuclear button on his desk. (!)

Meanwhile North Korea is being all nice now to South Korea with talk of sending a delegation to the Olympics.

And finally, there are protests in the streets in Iran, all week. Is change coming there?

That’s all.

Welcome to 2018; I spent the last day of 2017 in airports

Hi. Usually I would have more to say around this time of the week, but I am still recovering from my Christmas holidays. I am still recuperating from New Year’s Eve, when I spent a difficult day trying to travel back to Saskatchewan from Kelowna.

First, my plane was delayed an hour leaving the Kelowna International Airport, so I missed my connection in Calgary. When I finally got to Calgary, I found out the airline had put me on the 8 pm flight to Saskatoon.

Instead of sitting in Calgary airport for an unexpected several-hour layover, I took the bus to downtown Calgary in minus-30 conditions and had dinner at McDonald’s. That was, uh, interesting (drug addicts, etc.). If I had more time, I would have gone up the Calgary Tower, but I didn’t.

I finally landed in Saskatoon around 10 pm and it was past midnight by the time I was home again. Not fun at all. Anyway, I plan to do a big screed for the paper about all the hilarity that ensued on my Christmas vacation, for myself and other unfortunate travellers.

World Juniors buried in snow, Johnny Bower dies, and more Sports from Nowhere

Welcome to Sports from Nowhere, which should be a lot more enlightening than if I did a News from Nowhere. Instead of linking to stories about Erie, Pennsylvania being buried in several feet of snow, I’ll link to stories about that World Juniors hockey game in Buffalo which also got buried in snow.

Yes, that’s right, Canada played the USA in a game in which the elements were, uh, a factor. Not only was the game halted several times to allow crews to go onto the ice to shovel the snow away, but many fans in Canada never even got to the game because some truck went on fire on the QEW, backing up the traffic for hours.

It was surely a more interesting experience for those sitting at home watching on TV to see USA come back to win in a shootout 4-3. A game like this is bound to produce a divided reaction; on the one hand, it’s wild weather conditions that often make for memorable and classic game experiences, and this was one of them.

On the other hand, you also have the uptight traditionalists who have always hated outdoor hockey and dismissed it as a gimmick. A lot of them pointed to this awful weather and disgustedly said it was a disgrace, and that this snow ruined the game. It seems to me that these haters mainly reside in Canada, so the final score gave them plenty of reasons to vent frustration.

This game itself in Orchard Park got an attendance of more than 44,000, the biggest crowd in World Juniors history. That should answer critics who pointed to all the lousy attendances at the other games. Of course, attendance issues are nothing new, there have even been empty seats for World Juniors games in Canada in recent years. And of course, the IIHF has done nothing to address the situation. Why the heck these tournament organizers don’t drop their ridiculous ticket prices is beyond me; you practically have to be a member of the “elite” to go to any hockey game anymore.

The fact that it was the third World Juniors in four years involving the southern Ontario market might be a bigger factor. The IIHF really does need to move these games out of the NHL cities and get them back into more CHL grassroots-type venues again, and soon.

Also, as usual, NCAA football fans in Canada are mad again at TSN because they keep on bumping coverage of the bowl games so they can show World Junior hockey games that nobody cares about, not to mention SportsCentre and other highlight-reel crap. Now, granted, nobody’s going to these bowl games, either, but it doesn’t matter. Football fans are sick and tired of seeing football treated in a second-class manner by the Canadian TV networks. They want equal treatment, that’s all. And so there is a lot of built-up resentment towards the World Juniors for that reason as well.

Finally, the other story from this week is that legendary Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower died at the age of 93.

This is a real sad story for me personally. I actually met and interviewed Bower for a TV story back around 2000 in Mississauga, and I always considered that a highlight of my (so-called) journalism career. We got to talking about Bower’s time playing during the “Original Six” era and he was going ‘oh yeah, it was great hockey’.

If you want to know why “Leafs Nation” is such a cult, I think a lot of it has to do with class acts like Bower, who represented the Leafs in the community long after playing in the NHL. Anyway, RIP Johnny Bower.

That is all for now.

My latest Cairns on Cinema column, about Disney’s recent activities, is now up!

Merry Christmas, folks! I notice my latest Cairns on Cinema column about the Walt Disney Company and its recent domination, especially regarding Star Wars and its recent takeover of Fox, is now up. About time.

Trump triumphs on tax reform, and other News from Nowhere

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus (!) (?) and welcome to News from Nowhere for this weekend, marking the conclusion of yet another amazing week of President Donald Trump dominating the headlines. I mean, really, what more must this guy do to be the top newsmaker of the year? The media won’t even give him his due for that title, either, after all the endless havoc he has wrought all year.

Maybe it is because Trump has been “winning” too much lately — something the press is clearly having a difficult time accepting.

Here’s what Trump did this week: he signed the tax reform package into law. That’s right, it’s lower taxes in the United States of America. That has some people in some neighbouring countries (ie. Canada) shaking a little bit over the prospect of jobs and investment relocating to the much friendlier business climate of the USA.

The other thing Trump did to get the masses excited this week was recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel. That caused the UN to vote to condemn the USA for this move, but not before ambassador Nikki Haley reminded the UN about, ahem, just who it is that writes the cheques for that organization.

Oh, and a terror plot planned for Pier 39 in San Francisco was foiled. Good job. Anyway, lots of winning is going on in the USA right now; it is almost enough to divert everyone’s attention away from lunatic North Korea’s latest annoying missile test.

In other news, the Miss America Pageant is in a huge uproar. Seriously, if it weren’t for this Trump character, this would actually be the biggest story in the USA right now. The former pageant winners have all been calling for the CEO Sam Haskell’s head, and others, over leaked emails in which the CEO had insulted the contestants. We’re talking disparaging and crude comments about contestants and in particular the winners.

That’s terrible. No class at the top, whatsoever, towards your own people. Anyway, the CEO has been suspended; people think he ought to be fired. Dick Clark Productions have already cut ties with the organization in protest.

Of course, I have had issues with the running of the Miss America Pageant for, well, decades, long before this current regime took over. What they do need to do is clean things up, and I mean really clean house. Some are suggesting this is going to be the end for the Miss America Pageant, but I don’t know about that; you would hate to see a long tradition come to an end because of the actions of a total nitwit. All that’s needed here are some good firings of people.

(Also, before anyone drags Pres. Trump into this muck, too, remember that his involvement was with Miss USA, not Miss America.)

Other news:

The latest from southern California is that the wildfires are still going on and still wreaking havoc.

Next, also from southern California: legendary sports broadcaster Dick Enberg has died.

While he is best known for his work with NBC ( esp. Wimbledon and the NFL), Enberg also had spent extensive time calling sports in the Southland, including the Angels and more recently the Padres.

Finally, it turns out this was a big week of news from Southern California. As if they don’t have enough to be excited about down there, with the fires and with the Rams winning and so on, it seems residents were freaking out over a strange sight in the skies that people speculated was a UFO or even a nuclear missile! Aaargh!!

Ha ha ha. Turns out all it was was the latest SpaceX launch.

I’m sure there were some people there who might have thought this was Santa 🎅 getting an early start with his sleigh. What a joke. Anyway, Merry Christmas, folks!

So, what do you think of Catt Sadler leaving E! Network in a pay dispute?

The news from “TV land” yesterday is that Catt Sadler left her longtime hosting job at E! the other day in a pay dispute. The reason is Sadler is insulted over a “massive pay disparity” between herself and her male co-anchor Jason Kennedy, who is making twice as much as her. And the network wouldn’t meet her demands for equal pay in her contract extension discussions, so she’s done at E! as of now.

Everyone is now pounding E! for their lousy gender-inequality towards their female talent. But I actually think E! would be open to Sadler and Kennedy being paid the same. Except, what they’d probably prefer is to dock Kennedy’s pay 50 percent when his contract is up!

Ha ha ha. Actually, I don’t think this is funny at all.

Update: For the “other side of the story” to answer all the usual crazed haters on social media, here is what Jason’s wife Lauren Scruggs Kennedy had to say.

It’s the weekend of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. $220 million!

Biggest news of today — Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens

Political roundup in Saskatchewan, now that the federal by-election is over

(Photo credit: myself.)

On Tuesday, I tuned in to some of the coverage of that Alabama Senate election night, and just like I said before, I got all jealous again about all these reporters covering American politics and all its craziness.

But then I remembered that I covered Battlefords-Lloydminster federal by-election results the night before in Lloydminster (the landslide winner was Rosemarie Falk); plus, I had covered a big Liberal rally the previous Thursday in North Battleford that featured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I even shot video of some of it, below:

In fact, I’ve had lots of opportunities to cover politics this past month — whether it has been campaign office openings or visits by federal cabinet ministers, or the Sask Party leadership debate held in a howling blizzard in North Battleford, or interviews with provincial leadership hopefuls like Ken Cheveldayoff or Trent Wotherspoon. Plus, I did another update on the two leadership races a couple of weeks later when Cheveldayoff showed up again.

But the big highlight was really the Trudeau rally, as it is not very often that you have a sitting Prime Minister showing up here to campaign. That was the most exciting thing to happen around here since that Maclean’s magazine article came out about the city’s crime problems.

The Trudeau event was certainly a morale-boost to the local Liberals, but nothing more. In fact, the Liberals did even worse here than last time, finishing with only about ten percent of the vote!

The other thing going on over the past couple of weeks was city budget deliberations that were held on multiple nights at City Hall. That chewed up a massive amount of my time, so it really has been a hectic several weeks.

It is definitely time to slow down as the Christmas break approaches. Moreover, I really do need to rest up now, because I am in for another heavy stretch of news here again in January.

Tonight, we find out who will be the next Senator from Alabama

Forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm. I have just finished covering a federal by-election, and this has been basically my heaviest month of political coverage ever, and I have had enough of politics, period. So what is the big story tonight?

Why, what else: special election coverage in the state of Alabama of the Senate race between controversial Roy Moore versus Doug Jones. Oh, God, no.

I think this might be a good night for me to tune in to some NBA basketball games.

UPDATE- Actually, it turned out to be a good night for me to get some sleep, and I did. Jones won. As far as I know, Moore still hasn’t conceded yet.

This weekend’s roundup of News from Nowhere is wholly inaccurate!

Welcome to another News from Nowhere. Boy, does the whole media business have egg on its face this week. This business looks like it’s entirely out to get Donald Trump, in any way possible — even if their stories aren’t true!

For instance: CNN reported Friday that Trump and his son Don Jr, had been offered access to hacked DNC documents. Wrong! Then the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel Tweeted there was sparse attendance at a Trump rally in Florida, when in fact the photo was taken well before all the people arrived. Fake news!

Needless to say, Donald and Don Jr. have had a field day.

This, my friends, is why Trump is still standing in spite of himself: it is because it is obvious to everyone that the media is on a witch hunt in an all-out effort to get President Trump removed from office. And these reporters aren’t letting the facts get in the way of their witch hunting; they are just reporting whatever. Maybe these elite media organizations should stick to the facts from now on; then maybe they might get somewhere.

This is the part of the article where I point out the number of people elected to the White House — One — versus the number of people elected to the media, which is Zero. My point is made.

So, that’s that for that. Now, let’s move on to some very good news, for a change, shall we? Here it is:

Iraq has declared victory over ISIS.

And that, my friends, is the good news for this week. Also, in other good news, the victory parade for Toronto FC is tomorrow.

Oh, and Coco won the box office for the third weekend running.

That is all I feel like writing tonight.

Toronto FC win the MLS Cup! All of Toronto ought to be celebrating

The big happening today was Toronto FC winning the MLS Cup today 2-0 over Seattle. It is the first time the Cup has been won by a team from Canada! It also avenges last year’s shootout defeat in the same stadium. Jozy Altidore scored the first goal and was the MVP.

Now, my rant. I have been trying to tune in the all-Sports radio stations from Toronto on the Web, hoping to hear excited fans calling in to celebrate this victory, but instead we have been getting nonstop coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Folks, I don’t care about the Leafs, or the NHL today. Toronto, and for that matter Canada, just won a major title in the most important, most popular sport in the world. People in Toronto ought to be bleeping excited, just as they should be bleeping excited about winning the Grey Cup two weeks ago.

So, be excited! Winning a title doesn’t happen every day. Besides, you have the entire rest of the hockey season to care about the Leafs.

Bad News Roundup for this Thursday

I am at home, charging up my iPad in anticipation of important news I have to cover tonight (the Prime Minister is in the city for a Liberal campaign event, fresh off his China tour), so in the meantime here is a very brief Bad News Roundup. Lessee, what bad things are going on in the world?

Here’s a rundown: Sen. Al Franken has resigned, wildfires in Southern California are still going on, Emily Ratajkowski and Piers Morgan are at war with each other, the USA might not send athletes to the Winter Games now, and North Korea now says war is unavoidable.

I’m sure there is more bad news, but I don’t feel like writing any more about it this afternoon.