My “Cairns on Cinema” 10th Anniversary column is now up!

Bloodbath Day at ESPN: 100 people being let go, mostly on-air

The executions have been going on all day over at ESPN as a bunch of on-air people and online writers are being sacked. A host of talent has hit the street including Scott Burnside, Pierre LeBrun, Joe McDonald (good grief, ESPN has basically gutted their entire hockey coverage), Dr. Jerry Punch, Brett McMurphy, Jaymee Sire, Paul Kuharsky, Ed Werder, Doug Padilla, Danny Kanell, Jayson Stark, Trent Dilfer (of NFL fame), Jade McCarthy, Darren Haynes, Marysol Castro, Ashley Fox, Len Elmore, Jay Crawford, and on and on. 

Awful Announcing has a running tally here. Deadspin here.

Why is this bloodbath happening? Well, first of all, the TV business sucks, they like to fire people. Second of all, everyone knows and has already written endlessly about the fact that ESPN overpaid for the rights to the NFL, college football, baseball, and the NBA! And these rights fees are choking the life out of them. That, plus there is tons of cord-cutting going on as people across America decide they won’t waste their money anymore for these hundreds of cable channels that have nothing on. 

But these layoffs aren’t going to solve any of ESPN’s problems. Their problems have nothing to do with these people they are tossing out onto the street. Instead, it’s got a lot to do with their lousy programming. Their lineup is littered with loud-mouthed debate shows with analysts shouting at each other. And oh yes: there’s also the liberalism

And that is why people are cutting the cord, because people don’t feel compelled to keep on paying for the lousy programming being served up at ESPN! On top of that, people are hurting financially, they’re all trying to save money! So, instead of cable, the fans will simply try and get by watching network TV sports on weekends with rabbit ears. That is what is happening now.

I notice the reaction on Twitter to this bloodletting and people are comparing ESPN to MTV, which is a good example of another cable channel that went straight to hell. But I think you can add other channels like CNN, TV Land, and most definitely A&E to this list. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are baseball fans ticked off that TBS doesn’t even show the Braves games anymore. And of course, Fox News Channel has gone right in the tank just in the past week alone.

In short, American cable television in 2017 has become a wasteland, and that is why people are cutting the cord en masse. And that is why you are seeing what you are seeing happen today at ESPN. 

Update: Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage, who has been writing at length about ESPN’s coming implosion for a while now, has his thoughts here on what went down.

Another update: here is another piece, from The Comeback, about ESPN’s decimation of hockey coverage.

Breaking news: Kevin O’Leary quits Tory leadership race, endorses Maxime Bernier

Hold onto your hats, folks. Kevin O’Leary has announced today he is withdrawing from the Conservative leadership race, and endorsing Maxime Bernier.

This is a stunner, not only because this has happened way past the dropout deadline (which means O’Leary will still have his name on the ballot, even though he is out), but also because O’Leary was perceived by the media as one of the race’s frontrunners. 

The key word, though, is “perceived”. The reality was probably a different story. I think the political pros and backroom people, and Tory party members for that matter, all knew full well what the media did not: that O’Leary had tons of problems as a candidate. He skipped out on debates, was no good at the French language, and a lot of Tories didn’t like his policies (which they thought were too liberal) and didn’t like his style (big mouth, reality TV resume, etc.). Sure, he had name recognition, and that is probably why his polling numbers were good early on. But lots of Tories didn’t like him for whatever reason; he had very little growth potential from the first ballot on, and no hope at all in Quebec. O’Leary basically acknowledged that today in pulling out.

As for Bernier, this is a huge boost to his campaign which is already rolling in dough and who is at or near the top of the polls. And while this race had been a bit of a jumble with upwards of 14 candidates running, it’s far less of one now. Maxime Bernier is going to emerge from today as the clear-cut, undisputed front runner in the race for Conservative leader. While it’s not in the bag for him yet, the question is increasingly going to be: can anyone stop him?

Sports radio wars heating up in Vancouver: Sportsnet 650 to take on TSN

The only reason I am interested in this radio news out of Vancouver is because I spend an increasing amount of time in BC, more so than ever in fact, so I hear their stations a lot while I am there. 

Anyway, earlier this year Rogers Media announced they had stolen the rights to Vancouver Canucks hockey away from TSN 1040, but they still didn’t have a station lined up for the games. Now, they finally have a flagship. The big news today is Rogers have acquired CISL 650 from Newcap. 

The 650 location on the dial has some sports history: this is the same station that also carried Sports Talk with Dan Russell at the end of his long radio run, and they carried Vancouver Giants WHL games for a while as well. But they played music most of the time. Once Rogers gets CRTC approval, they will ditch the music format and change it into Sportsnet 650 by the fall

The station will be the Canucks flagship and also carry the Toronto Blue Jays (starting in 2018), and I expect it will carry Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and other shows that are staples of the Rogers lineup on their other all-sports stations Sportsnet 590 The Fan Toronto and Sportsnet 960 The Fan Calgary. 

When the Canucks announced the Rogers deal earlier this year, there was lots of speculation of what this meant for both TSN 1040 and 1410. Honestly, I don’t know, it depends on who they get as personalities. No doubt, this new Rogers station is a lifeline for a lot of sports broadcasters that TSN/CTV have just laid off. The thing is, TSN in Vancouver still have the radio rights to a ton of sports, including the BC Lions, the Vancouver Whitecaps, the single-A baseball Canadians, the WHL Giants, the lacrosse Stealth, as well as the Mariners and the Seahawks! 

So it’s not as if they will be hurting for things to air. The problem for TSN is that all of these sports are regarded as a distant second fiddle to the Canucks in that market. 

My guess is this new Sportsnet 650 station is going to go hog wild with Canucks coverage. That is based simply on my experience as a longtime listener to the two other Sportsnet radio stations. Their station in Calgary, especially, is notorious for only caring about hockey. It can be pretty frustrating if you like other sports such as, say, the CFL, and instead of hearing football news on 960 you are stuck with Peter Loubardias or somebody else, talking about the Flames again. Not that there is much wrong with Peter Loubardias talking about the Flames, but in mid-July, or August

Anyway, I’m digressing. The bottom line is, expect a ton of hockey talk on this new Sportsnet 650 — all year long.

Macron, Le Pen projected to advance to presidential second round in France

So the centrist-independent Emmanuel Macron and the hard-right Marine Le Pen are projected to be in the runoff for president of France. 

This may not seem like such a shock result to you, the polling had predicted this same outcome, but in fact this is a major political revolution for France. Both mainline parties, the Socialists and the Republicans, have been eliminated: the Socialist nominee in fact only got 6 percent of the vote. What’s more, the Communist Jean-Luc Melenchon got over 19 percent of the vote! 

So it’s been a big night in general for populists, mavericks and outright radicals in France — sort of like what happened in the USA last election.

First round of French presidential election to be decided tomorrow.

Voters in France have a dubious choice in front of them this weekend as they go to the polls in the first round of voting for a new President. 

You have hard-right anti-EU lunatic Marine Le Pen, the conservative but scandal-plagued Francois Fillon, the upstart centrist Emmanuel Macron, the hard-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, and whoever is the Socialist candidate. I guess it is Benoit Hamon. The problem is that party is so unpopular that Hamon is already practically out of the race. 

In fact, we could see history tomorrow — both of the mainline left and right parties in France could see their nominated candidates KOed immediately in the first round, and that would be a story in itself.
The polls are showing a tight race among the four front runners and it seems like Macron and his upstart movement might be ahead. This is in spite of all the hype you hear about Le Pen and how dangerous she is to the existing world order. But Le Pen is expecting to get a vote bump due to ISIS interference in the election with a deadly terrorist shooting attack this week.

Also, it seemed in recent days the momentum seems to be with Melenchon, of all people. Quite honestly, I can’t believe the French would vote for this guy, he’s far worse than the unpopular Francois Hollande ever was. Melenchon is talking about taxing the rich 100 percent! That’s right, you read it right, 100 percent! If he gets in, trust me, there will be a flood of rich French people leaving the country. 

In fact, I worry about what the result will be tomorrow, because these French voters are so mad right now that they could do something really crazy. If it goes to round 2 and it’s a runoff between Melenchon and Le Pen, there is a real chance voters could put that awful Le Pen woman in, just to keep Melenchon out!

What a choice! I guess I’m glad this is their election, not ours. 

Bill O’Reilly canned, Aaron Hernandez dead in prison, and other News from Nowhere

Welcome to News from Nowhere on a day when it seems all the news is happening at once. 

Indeed, all heck has broken loose again over at the Fox News Channel. Bill O’Reilly, their loud and obnoxious talk show host, was fired today in the wake of all kinds of sexual harassment and other allegations against him. This, coming after the mess with Roger Ailes.

O’Reilly had been on a vacation this week to Italy and he was in Vatican City today and even met the Pope. I guess he was there begging for forgiveness. Anyway, not even Pope Francis could perform a miracle to save O’Reilly today.

The reality is that O’Reilly had this huge political target on his back for years, and people on the left of the spectrum have been trying to get him fired for years for no shortage of reasons — for fabricating stories, for all types of things. It wasn’t just sexual harassment. I think all of it finally caught up with him, and the Murdochs finally decided they wouldn’t put up with any more of it.

I notice a lot of the left-leaning people were rejoicing today, saying “we finally got rid of him!” I find this reaction a bit worrisome. Glenn Beck is convinced this was the work of an organized smear campaign to try and drive O’Reilly off the air. Personally, I think the Fox News haters may be encouraged now to go after even more people at the channel. Who else is next: Sean Hannity? Tucker Carlson?

I also notice the “culture wars” are still going on in the “Uptight States” and there was a huge clash that erupted at Berkeley on the weekend between the “AntiFa” crowd and the right-leaning folks. I guess the righties were holding a “Patriots Day” speech and these lefties decided they wanted to shut it down, again. Except, they made the mistake of losing their cool and getting violent.

I was amused by Gavin McInnes’ reaction to it all: he seems to think his side won this particular battle. McInnes has a point. People are getting fed up with the left censoring people and trying to shout their opponents down all the time. It really is anti-democracy, anti-free society and anti-free speech. 

Anyway, the folks on the left may have lost the battle at Berkeley, but they surely won a battle today in getting rid of O’Reilly.

Other news of the day, and this is a surprising turn of events: Aaron Hernandez is dead. The word is the former New England Patriots tight end committed suicide today in his prison cell, but even that is in dispute — some people think there is no way this is a suicide. 

This turn of events happens just says after his double-acquittal in a second murder trial. Now it looks like Hernandez’ murder conviction from his first trial could be vacated, all because his case was on appeal when he died, I’ll never understand the way justice works in Massachusetts, it’s almost as bad as Canada. Anyway, this sad story is over at last.

Also, I notice this news happened on the same day that the Patriots were at the White House celebrating their Super Bowl win with Donald Trump.

I think that will be all for now, there are some big hockey games I want to tune into tonight. See you later.

Today, UK prime minister Theresa May called a June 8 election

Well, this is a surprise

A lot of people think Theresa May and the Conservatives will crush Labour and the hapless Jeremy Corbyn

But I have to say this: if this were Canada we were talking about, voters would all be complaining about how opportunistic this was, and how the election was unnecessary and a waste of money, and then they would boot the government out and put in people who would end up ruining things anyway. 

Truly, this is another situation of “not again!” for U.K. voters, who already had one election two years ago, and then a Brexit referendum! Who knows what the real motivations are for this — whether this is to crush Brexit dissenters, or what. But this surely reminds me of what happened in Alberta with Jim Prentice.

We’ll see what transpires, but I would be cautious yet about accepting the conventional wisdom that it will be a Tory romp. We have seen some very strange elections all over the world lately. Heck, look at France and the motley cast of characters running there for President right now!

News of the hour: search is on for the guy who killed somebody live on Facebook!

The Fate of the Furious cleans up: $100 mil domestic! $532.5 mil worldwide!

I have nothing better to do today so I might as well put up the weekend box office results for The Fate of the Furious. 

It opened Friday and as predicted by everyone it is cleaning up with a $100 million domestic weekend and $532.5 million worldwide, including all-time record weekends in 17 markets. (Update: it was China that powered this movie to the record worldwide opening of all time.)

Why did this movie clean up? Easy: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and cars — lots of them. This is the eighth Fast and the Furious movie and this franchise may never end, even without Paul Walker (spoiler alert!). That’s it for today.

Happy Easter! We’re still here; North Korea hasn’t started World War III yet

So now we know the real reason for all this North Korea news and sabre-rattling you’ve heard about lately: it was the “Day of the Sun” celebrations honouring the founding leader of North Korea, so that meant a big military parade in front of Kim Jong-un and the leadership. I actually tuned into this online — RT was running a live feed of it. 

All I have to say is: my God. I cannot believe in this day and age that a regime like the one in North Korea exists. It was like watching old newsreels of parades the Soviet Union would put on back in the day, when the Politburo would stand there saluting as the tanks rolled by. It really was a throwback to the old days: a bad throwback.

Worse yet, it seems like that place is on a permanent war footing: it’s all military all the time. They just tried another missile launch the other day, but fortunately it failed. Still, it was enough to scare the heck out of the civilized world. People are increasingly worried — especially the Americans — about the ability of North Korea to do major damage.

Let’s all hope for more “failed missile tests” in the future — I don’t want to find out what transpires from a “successful” one.

Oh, Donna! Baywatch’s Donna D’Errico is on my mind this Easter Sunday

Oh, what the heck. With that new Baywatch movie coming soon I definitely have Baywatch on the brain. So, I am digging deep in the fault to put up this retro Nineties photo of one of my all-time favorite Baywatch hotties, the fabulous Donna D’Errico (Miss September 1995).

Happy Easter, all you rabbits.

Aaron Hernandez not guilty of double murder. Another huge win for Jose Baez

Out of sheer boredom I tuned in to LawNewz and learned the jury had just come back “not guilty” for both murder counts against Aaron Hernandez. He was also acquitted of five of the six other charges.

Based on the analysis, it sounds like the prosecution had an uphill battle all along. Still, it is another big win for defence lawyer Jose Baez, his fees are going to go way up as a result of this. He even has a TV show now, on FOX, called You the Jury. Of course, the haters who hated him for what he did with Casey Anthony’s case are hating him even more now. Apparently Baez wasn’t in court today, though, for some medical reason.

As for Hernandez, he was already serving time for another murder, so it’s back to jail for him.

Anyone else concerned about all this North Korea nuclear war talk?

What a way to start a long Easter weekend: by going online and seeing stories like this one in the Mail Online. “War at any moment.” 

Well, I guess this is one way to get everyone’s attention off of Syria.

You know, some of us just want to sit at home this weekend and watch the Stanley Cup playoffs. We don’t need to have our hockey-watching interrupted by breaking news coverage of North Korea starting a nuclear war

The world is hurling itself off a cliff! Good grief.

More disappearing Toronto heritage: HMV on Yonge Street.

I haven’t returned to Toronto for any reason, vacation or otherwise, since I moved out of there a decade ago, and sadly I don’t think it would feel much like home anymore if I did go back. Too many of my favorite haunts there — record stores, book stores, movie theatres — are now gone forever. I guess it’s supposed to be progress.

The latest to go is HMV, whose stores are rapidly disappearing all across Canada due to bankruptcy. Their massive store at 333 Yonge St. was definitely a place to go see whenever I was downtown, along with Sam the Record Man and The World’s Biggest Bookstore (R.I.P.).

Anyway, be sure to check out this item from NOW Toronto about HMV’s last days

M.O.A.B. (Mother of All Bombs) blows up ISIS cave and tunnel complex in Afghanistan!

Sean Spicer’s gaffe, plus more world-going-to-heck news in News from Nowhere

It has been a crazy and bizarre several days of craziness and gaffes to report on for this edition of News from Nowhere. First, we had the infamous Kendall Jenner “protest” ad for Pepsi. Then we had this United Airlines overbooking nonsense. As if that wasn’t enough stupidity, yesterday White House press secretary Sean Spicer commits a White House gaffe of epic proportions. In making his case about how evil Syria’s Assad is, he tells the press corp that even the evil Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons“.

Uh, well, what about those gas chambers Hitler had? Anyway, Spicer has egg all over himself over this. I notice Dan Rather weighed in on it and said “a bar, already set low, continues to drop.” I simply think this is another example of Spicer being in over his head, looking like a rank amateur. It’s not the first time for him, either. 

You know, it’s incompetent stuff like this that continues to drag down the Donald Trump presidency, one that I keep on comparing to “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. But this no longer only describes Pres. Trump — it describes his whole team at the White House, with all these stories about infighting there. The dysfunction is obvious to everyone. Seriously, Trump needs to do something he did so well on reality TV for years, and that’s fire people.

Trump himself is, at least, showing a few signs that he might finally be getting the hang of how to do this “presidency” job of his. Last week, Trump actually seemed to be presidential, very “Jekyll-ish”, by making a widely-hailed presidential decision to bomb the heck out of Syria for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on their own people. The United States was finally showing them who was boss and standing up to these rogue regimes, they said. Now granted, people like Sen. Rand Paul were complaining about Congress not being consulted, but still, most people agreed that Assad had it coming. 

The problem is the Russians are reacting badly to all this as they continue to be all-in with this lousy Assad regime. They were raising the prospect of war over this attack, and quite honestly, I’m really worried. I worry one more incident in Syria could be the spark that ignites World War III

Just today, with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over in Russia to attempt diplomacy, Pres. Trump was saying relations with Russia could be at an all-time low. Given the four decades of Cold War that went on, this is saying a lot. Let me add this: if the Russians can’t get along with Trump, of all people, then there’s no hope of them getting along with the Americans, period.

On a cheerier topic, let’s talk about North Korea, who have been threatening nuclear war in the wake of this Syria bombing. 

Apparently, this half-crazed Kim Jong-Un character has planned some “big event” for tomorrow, which is speculated to be a nuclear test. (Update – Friday: the “big event” turned out to be the opening of a new street! What a joke.) 

Meanwhile, the US and the Chinese have been talking and trying to figure out what to do about this maniacal regime.

While all this is happening, we have attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt on Palm Sunday, no less, and Piers Morgan cannot believe this is not major news. 

Also this week: a bomb explosion on the team bus of Borussia Dortmund prior to their UEFA Champions League game with Monaco. One player was injured; the match was postponed.

I mean really, the world has gone mad! You cannot even tune in the sports without being reminded.

In other sports news, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are on. There better not be any bomb scares there.

As for Canada’s other favorite sport, the CFL, commissioner Jeffrey Orridge is walking the plank

Other craziness: you may have seen the last of Bill O’Reilly, who is on vacation from Fox News this week amid rumors he might not be back over sexual harassment allegations.

Sad news for viewers of David Letterman’s show: his mom died.

Box office news: another winning weekend for The Boss Baby, swamping Smurfs 3.

That is all I can stand, for now. I think I will spend the rest of tonight watching live South Korean all-news TV, just for the heck of it. 

Everyone, I mean everyone, is talking about United Airlines incompetence today!

You know, I think what happened with United Airlines the other day in Chicago – in which they bumped a passenger and then had him dragged off the plane after he refused to give up the seat he paid for – has really struck a nerve with people. 

It seems symbolic of all the things people hate about air travel, and especially air travel in the United States! Passengers are sick and tired of being disrespected when they travel on airplanes. They already have to go through endless, invasive security; they have to pay ridiculous fees; and now they find out there is no guarantee of a seat on the flight that they paid for! In particular, this whole nonsense of “overbooking” flights just is not right. Heck, you don’t see sporting events or concerts getting “overbooked”. Everyone knows this practice is ridiculous.  

On top of this are the stories about drunk pilots and flight delays. Of course, on international flights there is the additional pain of going through customs. For people of a certain nationality, there’s even travel bans to deal with.

This is why this latest crazy incident struck a chord; air travellers are fed up! But United’s PR mis-handling of it all just made it worse. They should have apologized right away and been done with it, but they didn’t. Instead, they tried to blame this fiasco on the passenger! Finally, the CEO apologized today.

But it is too late now. United’s name is mud, and the airline is now the butt of endless jokes from late night comedians because of the way this was handled. 

  • Jimmy Kimmel: “I don’t even understand this, by the way. I’ve been to 100 games in stadiums with 50,000 seats. They never sell the seat two times to one person, but for some reason, airlines cannot figure this out.” 
  • Conan O’Brien: “A Turkish airline crew helped deliver a baby onboard a flight. And then, in keeping with the times, the baby was dragged from the plane by security. It was overbooked, that’s what you do! Get outta here, baby!”

Here in Saskatchewan, talk radio host John Gormley just ripped United to shreds on his show today. I heard his ranting on the radio about it, it was funny stuff. Of course, United has a history in Saskatchewan — an infamous history, because first they cut the direct flights they were offering to Chicago, and then they pulled their direct flights to Denver, too! So now, United doesn’t fly here at all, and we have no direct flights to Chicago or Denver at all. And as Gormley was saying today, this decision had nothing to do with demand; it was all because the Canadian dollar was too low! I even wrote a big screed about it at the time, saying United’s decision to pull the Denver flights humiliated our province.

Now, instead of going straight to Denver and getting a reasonable fare en route to LA or somewhere else half-decent, Saskatchewan people must now go through Calgary or Vancouver or somewhere to change planes, and pay more for the privilege. Thanks a lot, United.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that so many people are fed up with air travel nonsense. This ridiculous story about a passenger being hauled off this airliner is everyone’s collective tipping point, and so they are taking out all their frustrations on United. Let this be a lesson to the entire airline industry: start respecting the customers! At the very least, quit overbooking! That is all.

Alabama politics is surely more interesting than everyone else’s politics is at the moment

I’ve been following the fast-moving developments today of Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama being arrested and hauled into court, and ultimately resigning today over a scandal in which he supposedly used campaign funds to cover up an affair he had with a top aide. The resignation was part of his plea deal after he plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges; as part of the sentence Bentley also must repay approx. $36,000 in campaign funds and also serve 100 hours of community service. 

I’ve watched the coverage today from Alabama’s TV stations and was quite jealous of the reporters down there. I was going: “gee, I wish I was covering politics for a living!”

Then I realized: “wait a minute, you goofball, you already cover politics for a living!” But clearly, my political beat is not as exciting as what you’ll find in the deep South of the USA. Not by a long shot.

The United States has launched air strikes tonight on Syria

On an evening when I am burned out from covering all the news, on an evening when all I want to do is not watch the news, what happens?! Why, what else: major news. Air strikes in Syria after that awful chemical attack that killed 70 people on Tuesday.

So, because I cannot wean myself off of the news cycle, I have to tune in to this depressing news. That’s what I am doing now.

What a loss for comedy. Don Rickles, RIP.

Say goodbye to sexy Carl’s Jr. supermodel ads! Carl Hardee Sr. has returned to clean up Jr.’s mess!!

The era of sexy and politically incorrect Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s commercials is over. Instead, this chain is going back to basics with a new campaign emphasizing their product of charbroiled hamburgers. Their latest ad features a dude named Carl Hardee Sr., who has a strong resemblance to the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World,” coming in to right the ship from that incompetent party animal Carl Hardee Jr. 

I gotta admit, I’m kind of sad to see the supermodels go. Then again, Kendall Jenner was a big help for Pepsi lately so I don’t blame Carl’s Jr. for trying something different.

The angry social media crowd sinks Pepsi’s bizarre protest commercial starring Kendall Jenner!

What a farce. Pepsi-Cola thought it was promoting peace, love and harmony by rolling out an ad featuring Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a cop during a protest. Instead, all the uptight protest people, and others on social media, were all upset that this ad seemed to be trivializing their important issues. So, the ad has been pulled. 

Clearly, no one in Donald Trump’s America is in any mood for peace and harmony right now. Pepsi learned that the hard way.

NHL makes it official: they are blowing off the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea!

While the temptation among sports fans in Canada is to string up NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for this decision by the league to not send their top players to the 2018 Winter Olympics, look at it their way. 
They would have had to shut their league down for two weeks while all their players were over in South Korea, playing hockey games in the middle of the night to few North American viewers. It doesn’t help the league’s bottom line to do this, plus the players could get injured. I don’t blame these NHL owners one bit.

Still, the players had wanted to go, the NHL fans wanted them to go, and it would have been the opportunity to showcase the game at its highest level to a new audience in South Korea. Elliotte Friedman says it all when he calls this decision bad for hockey.

So, folks, what did you think of WestJet’s rebrand today to “Canada Air”?

Found out about the WestJet name change and rebranding earlier today on Twitter while listening to the Finance Minister for Saskatchewan speak at breakfast. I thought it was a totally unnecessary name change and that it had to be some sort of joke. Then I learned, ahem, it really was a joke. 

Good one. I don’t know if WestJet is Canada’s best airline, but hands down they are the funniest

(P.S.: it may have been March 31 in Canada but it was April 1 at the same time in some time zones.)

(P.P.S.: Air Canada repainted its planes and brought back its classic maple-leaf-in-a-circle logo on its tail, and claimed they were inspired by Canada’s 150th anniversary. No doubt, WestJet is having fun with that.)

News from SK: everyone is still stark raving mad over the provincial budget

It is proving to be a busy week for me news-wise. Here is my story on North Battleford city council’s freak-out reaction to the provincial budget in Saskatchewan. Beyond that, I have a hectic next 24 hours planned covering, you guessed it, politics. Tomorrow, the finance minister Kevin Doherty is in town for a breakfast presentation explaining the budget and the reasons for all the tax increases and cuts. Obviously, he is a very brave man coming here. 

In other news, what the H is going on in Saskatoon?!

Hey, guys, here it is: the trailer for Fathom!

So anyway, folks, I sort of promised you a Raquel Welch movie trailer, so here it is for Fathom. Rated only at 40 per cent at Rotten Tomatoes. As you can tell from the trailer below, Raquel spends most of this movie in a bikini. 

I’m struggling to figure out what is harder to believe — the fact that this movie is now almost 50 years old, or that Raquel is 76 years old!!


Now, a last word about the future of the NHL Vegas Golden Knights

In the wake of the announcement of the NFL Raiders’ upcoming move to Las Vegas I thought I would chime in with views on what this means for the new NHL expansion team the Vegas Golden Knights.

What is particularly annoying is seeing so many stories about how this is bad news for the NHL. The tone is that fans in Vegas will automatically hand their money over to Mark Davis now and not support the NHL, as if the NHL was like the plague. Quite honestly, this is exactly the “loser mentality” insecurity we have come to expect from followers of the NHL for years. 

The way I see it, either the NHL is worth supporting or it isn’t. If you think it is, then darn it, it ought to be in a world class entertainment capital like Las Vegas. Otherwise, why should anyone bother to watch this league anywhere — including New York, Chicago, Toronto or Montreal?

If the NHL is a first class, major-league product, it ought to stand on its own merits and be supported in its own right. If that happens, they won’t have to worry about the NFL or UFC fights, or the NCAA, or any other sports league. Besides, 16,000 people have apparently already been roped in to buy season tickets for the Knights, so I doubt those folks will be bailing out any time soon, especially once they see stars like Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid coming in there on a regular basis. 

Besides, plenty of NHL franchises have gone up against tough NFL competition in their markets, even in non-traditional sunbelt ones. And won


  • Tampa Bay Lightning. A sunbelt city in a football state, up against a popular NFL team in the Buccaneers. But the last time I checked, attendance for the Lightning was outstanding. In fact, the real basket case in that market is not the hockey team, but the baseball team, the Rays.
  • St. Louis Blues. A really good example. The NFL Rams came in to town to set up shop in a fancy new domed stadium, and they even won a Super Bowl, but not only did the Blues survive, they outlasted the NFL.
  • San Jose Sharks. A good example of how an NHL team can win consistent fan support in one of the most saturated sports markets in North America. The Bay Area was a market where the NHL failed in the Seventies, but a compelling on-ice product combined with one of the best logos in sports went a long way here.
  • Los Angeles Kings. If the Golden Knights want the blueprint of how to run a franchise in a sunny, non-traditional market, look no further than the Kings. The deal to acquire Wayne Gretzky put them on the map; moreover, they outlasted two NFL teams that left in the mid-Nineties. Now, the NFL has moved back to LA with two teams, but where are all the stories about the “negative impact to the NHL” in LA? There aren’t any, because after two Stanley Cups, the Kings product stands on its own.

Here is another important fact that everyone overlooks about the Sharks and the Kings: both franchises had to compete in the same market as… the Raiders

That’s right, the Kings not only survived the LA Raiders years, they outlasted them, and after the Silver and Black moved back to the Bay Area the Sharks did just fine up against the Oakland Raiders, not to mention the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Keep in mind, too, California isn’t considered the biggest hockey area in the world. So if the Kings and Sharks could manage sellout arenas and help drive the Raiders out of the metro area, I’m sure the Golden Knights could find a way to survive at T-Mobile Arena! Heck, it wouldn’t even surprise me if the Knights end up outlasting the Raiders in Las Vegas, too, given this history.

So don’t give me this line of bull about how the NHL’s fate is sealed against the Raiders in Las Vegas. It’s not like the Raiders or even the NFL are so special! Besides, the Raiders will likely charge an absolute fortune for tickets anyway at this multi-billion dollar stadium of theirs, so NHL ticket prices will probably look good by comparison. 

NHL fans, it’s time to quit with the self-pity, and show some confidence in the product you support.

CTV has whacked the best part of local TV news: the sportscast. Not cool, CTV!

I just found out Bell has whacked the sports segment from several CTV stations across Canada. From the information I’ve gathered the stations impacted include Calgary, Vancouver, Barrie, Kitchener, London and Windsor. (I notice CTV Saskatoon had a sportscast tonight, so it looks like they were spared.)

Most of these stations got the bad news this week. Among the people whacked in Calgary was Lisa Bowes who I knew from my own sports TV days in southern Ontario. I was interning at The Score the same time she was there. 

I’m not exactly sure what these stations will be doing in the future. It sounds like the sports segment might end up coming from a national feed! The problem is a national feed will always give local sports teams the shaft. I’ve seen Citytv try to go this route and it is an absolute cheapskate way to do sports, and viewers see right through it and don’t tune in.

The reason this latest move by CTV is dumb is because many people tune in just to watch the sports! This is where you get your information on local happenings like junior hockey or the university athletics, or who won at curling, and so on. And sports is a huge part of the life of a community – it certainly is in the place I am now, and it was a big part of Peel Region when I was reporting there for cable TV. One of my ex-sports colleagues there liked to say sports was the best part of the newscast, and he was right! It certainly livens things up and provides a respite from the doom and gloom of the rest of the newscast.

Anyway, this is more depressing news for the media in Canada. I understand many journalists at the Vancouver Sun/Province got whacked last week, too. But the real people who get whacked whenever this happens are (a) readers, and (b) viewers. 

This industry is being run into the ground! There, that’s my rant about the media for tonight.

Welcome to Brexit. Article 50 has been triggered! 

The news is that this weekend I rescued Raquel Welch from the HMV closing sale!

The big news in my boring life is that this weekend I dropped in at HMV in Saskatoon to see what was left in their stock in their big closing-out fire sale that is still on.

Wow, what a sad scene there — the stock is emptying out fast. Clearly, the end is near. Their DVDs are now selling at 70 percent off, so there were lots of good deals to be had.

Given how empty the shelves were I was surprised to find any good items at all. But fortunately I was able to buy some Sixties stuff: Fathom, starring Raquel Welch, as well as Lady in Cement — Raquel Welch again, with Frank Sinatra

Those should fit in quite nicely alongside Modesty Blaise and my collection of Matt Helm movies starring Dean Martin, and other Sixties schlock movies that might appeal to Austin Powers and his generation. Still conspicuously missing from my collection, though, is Deadlier than the Male starring Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina, and Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. 

For you so-called “Millennial” folks out there who are too young to know who Raquel Welch is, she was basically the Emily Ratajkowski of her day: a true sex goddess. The main difference is she could also sing and dance. For a good example of that, here’s a video below of Raquel on TV in the Sixties singing Bang Bang

Have fun looking at that. I might post the trailers of other Raquel Welch movies later on in the week.

Get ready for the “Las Vegas Raiders.” NFL approves move out of Oakland

Today the National Football League voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas

It’s a day that, honestly, a lot of us never thought we would ever see, given the NFL’s long-standing animosity towards gambling. But it’s happening, though not for another season or two as they await construction of a new publicly-funded, and tourist-funded, $1.9 billion stadium in Vegas. 

If you want to know why this move is happening, it is because Las Vegas clearly wanted the NFL more than Oakland did, and made Mark Davis an offer so good that even the league recognized they couldn’t say no to it. 

Vegas wanted the NFL no matter what, and now they’ve got it. I have to admit, I am happy for my “winter home” Vegas today.

As for Oakland, it’s a sad day for Raiders Nation again, just as it was the first time this team moved back in 1982 to Los Angeles. But the team has no choice but to leave Oakland again, because their stadium is a dump. Still, it is a real loss. I heard a lot of chatter on the Bay Area radio stations today about what the NFL will lose when the Raiders move, in terms of the unique fan experience associated with Raiders football in Oakland. 

It is also another blow to sports in Oakland, because the Golden State Warriors had announced plans a while ago to desert their longtime home in Oakland to go back across the bay, to San Francisco. Anyhow, I hope fans in Oakland enjoy A’s baseball, because that’s all they’ve got now.

Pres. Donald Trump’s health bill fiasco leads off this week’s News from Nowhere!

Welcome to News from Nowhere during what has been a tumultuous week in politics in the USA, as the goofy Republicans wilted under the political pressure and withdrew their health care bill to replace Obamacare. So, Obamacare gets to stay, for now. 

This is being seen as a big defeat for Pres. Donald Trump and for Capitol Hill Republicans. Their big majority in the House and Senate has amounted to absolutely nothing in coming up with a suitable replacement health care plan that could get passed, and the finger pointing for who is to blame is now on! What a joke. Still, some Republicans are smiling, with Sen. Rand Paul declaring victory in defeating “Obamacare-lite”.

Other news from the week: legendary TV game show producer Chuck Barris who brought you The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game but is best known as host of the Gong Show, has, according to Salon, been “gonged at last”. He’s dead, age 87.

It was a scary situation Saturday on the Las Vegas strip as a shooter killed one person on a bus and injured another – for no apparent reason, says police.

In other news concerning Las Vegas, it looks like the NFL will approve the Raiders’ move to their city on Monday.

Finally, the Writers Guild of America could soon walk out on strike.

As for me, I think I’ve written about enough for now.

TV, I mean movie news: CHIPS is a box office dud! Plus, Baywatch trailer is out. 

If you want to do something different from watching TV, guess what: going to the movies is not going to help! Movie theatres are certainly the “home of the TV retreads” these days. All the shows that used to be on your TV set can now be seen on the big screen in the cinema. Aren’t you excited by this prospect? No?!

Fortunately, fans have sent Hollywood a message and have spurned the awful-looking CHIPS, the retread movie version of the old NBC television show about the California Highway Patrol that had starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox. Neither Dax Shepard nor Michael Pena could save this latest critically-panned turkey, which earned a lousy $2.6 million on Friday night. Its projected weekend haul is an awful $7.3 million! (If you are wondering, it was Beauty and the Beast that cleaned up again this weekend, with Power Rangers second. Power Rangers — that’s another ex-TV show revival.)

I wonder if this abysmal box office showing by CHIPS could be a bad sign for Baywatch, another upcoming revival of yet another remarkably cheesy TV series. Maybe Dwayne Johnson’s involvement will save it. Or maybe guys will want to check out gorgeous Kelly Rohrbach and Priyanka Chopra. Anyway, they released their trailer this week and since I have nothing better to do today, I thought I would share it here.

F1 goes this weekend, with the first Canadian in the field in 11 years!

I am really happy because this weekend marks the start of the Formula 1 racing season! 

It’s a new year with new American owners, with former boss Bernie Ecclestone getting the boot in the off-season. It will also have more of a Canuck flavour than in the past. Racing for the Williams Martini Racing team will be Lance Stroll, who is 18 years old and already a phenom in Formula 4. He will be the first Canadian competing in Formula 1 since Jacques Villeneuve 11 years ago. 

It will take a lot of effort to keep up with the Lewis Hamiltons of the world in the early going, though. Mainly, it will take a good car. I find that in this sport, the driver is only as good as the vehicle, and if the car is a piece of junk, the driver is sunk. We’ll see.

The first race of the season goes this weekend in Australia, and you can bet I will be staying up late this Saturday night/early Sunday morning to tune in. 

As an aside — this is my annual rant about how bad it is to be a F1 fan in North America. Just look at the schedule! The only time I really get to be a fan of this sport is early in the season, when I usually have the stamina to watch the races late at night from Australia or Asia, or later in the season when I can watch the races on Sunday afternoons from Canada, the USA, Mexico and Brazil! For these other races from European venues, I’d have to wake up at 6 am or 7 am CST in the morning on Sundays, a day that I normally devote to catching up on my sleep! 

So with this schedule, I’m sleeping through half the F1 season, every year. Forget it!!

I hope the new owners are serious about trying to go after a North American audience; then maybe they could schedule some more races in North America that are on at a reasonable time in our time zones. Then, more fans around here might be interested. That’s that about that!

Update: It turns out this is a big weekend for sports in Australia. In addition to the F1 race, this also is the start of the Australian Rules Football season.

Terrible news from the UK: terrorist attack on Westminster

Here is the story from the BBC of the terrible events today at Westminster in the U.K., with five people reported dead so far, including the attacker who tried to storm Parliament. 

Reminds people of what happened when Parliament was attacked in Ottawa not too long ago. What awful times we are living in, folks.

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry dies, and other News from Nowhere

Welcome to News from Nowhere and the big news from the weekend is that 2017 is proving to be another big year of celebrity deaths. The latest is musical legend Chuck Berry, who basically invented rock and roll in the Fifties with hits like Maybellene and Johnny B. Goode. When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland, Berry was the first inductee.

Now, he’s dead, age 90. It almost feels like rock and roll, too, has died right along with him.

And that is not the only big loss from the weekend: we also got word that journalist Jimmy Breslin, too, is dead. Age 88.

What else is going on? Well, there was James Comey testifying today about how the FBI was investigating collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russians.

Also, the trial of an ex-MMA fighter called “War Machine” has ended, and the jury handed him 29 out of 34 possible convictions for his role in assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

In political news from western Canada — namely Alberta — Jason Kenney has won the leadership of the PCs and is now moving full steam ahead on his main platform: uniting the province’s right into one party.

In other important news, Tom Brady’s missing jersey from Super Bowl LI has been recovered.

I notice that the list of the world’s happiest countries is out and Norway is Number One — it always seems like Norway is always at or near the top of surveys like this, for some reason. 

Quite honestly, I question this list’s credibility. For instance, it ranked Finland in the top five, but that makes no sense at all because everyone knows the Finnish are notorious for being absolutely miserable. Even 60 Minutes did a piece years ago on how melancholy they are. So this list is completely suspect.

Also conspicuous by their absence from this list: Latin American and Caribbean countries. You would think there would be at least three or four but only Costa Rica made this list, even though the weather is sunny and a lot of people move to Latin America and the Caribbean to escape their depressing, awful lives in the “Uptight States of America”. 

Speaking of Latin America, the PokerStars Championship from Panama is playing to a winner tonight. Updates here. See, life in Central America can actually be pretty good. Proves my point.

That is it from here for tonight.

Beauty and the Beast scores March box office record opening of $174.8 million!

Long-awaited box office news: from all accounts it was going to be a “monster” opening, and that was exactly the case. Disney’s highly-anticipated Beauty and the Beast raked in $174.8 million this weekend, easily winning the weekend and eclipsing the previous $166 million March record set by Batman V. Superman. It’s also the top pre-summer (meaning: May) box office of all time.

Beauty and the Beast is also doing so well overseas that it looks like its entire worldwide haul could ultimately top a billion dollars.

You can do a lot with a billion dollars, folks.

My TV is inundated with March Madness games!

I am burnt out and exhausted after the last couple of weeks of running around working, and now I have three days off. I think I am going to pause the posting at this blog for the weekend while I tune in to the NCAA basketball coverage that is littering CBS, and also TSN here in thawing-out Canada. Updates here. The live bracket here.

The real reason this tournament exists is so bored American sports fans can keep their sanity while waiting for baseball season to arrive. Shouldn’t be long now. 

Mayweather v. McGregor. Dana White thinks it will happen!

Well, the rumors have been flying for a while about a potential multimillion dollar boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the UFC’s star, Conor McGregor (pictured). 

This could turn out to be the next big superfight on the horizon, after that last sorry borefest of a superfight in which Mayweather spent the entire night running laps around Manny Pacquiao. Lately, though, there have been rumors UFC boss Dana White might block the fight and that it may never happen. The problem is McGregor is contractually bound to UFC and would need their clearance to go ahead with the superfight — something White has expressed reluctance about doing.

Things may have changed in that regard. White went on Conan last night and he said he believed a deal would get done. So that has got the Twitterati and social media people all excited, with this news that White won’t block such a superfight. White is trending on Twitter and Facebook! 

Now, the question is how to actually get this fight deal done, where and when would it be, etc. etc. Of course, the deal for Mayweather’s superfight with Pacquiao took years to transpire and looked for a while like it might never happen.

It would be a heck of a spectacle, let me tell you that. Mayweather vs. McGregor. We shall see if it happens.

Update: Stephen A. Smith thinks it will happen, too.