Friday, December 26, 2008

The Presidential To Do List

The White House
Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

The President of the United States
George W Bush

To Do List--January, 2009

1. Pardons.(Double check to make sure none of us can be tried. Question for Attorney-General: pre-emptive pardons?)
2. Outgoing legislation. Save automobile industry--at least until spring. Then it's Bam's problem. (Real shame, that).
3. Farewell phone calls to global leaders. Keep them short.
4. Also remember to call Tony Blair. Nice guy.
5. Visit more foreign countries. (In retrospect, this would have been nice to do before running for President, but it is what it is. Is it my fault Midland has no international airport?)
6. Hire one of those lit agents to get me a book deal. I hear Bubba got $10 million. Maybe Bam has agent?
7. Talk to Laura about where she wants to go for Feb. vacation. (We could take an extra week.)
8. Ask Poppy about getting hired by Carlyle Group.
9. New York Marathon--early registration!
10. Read some Presidential autobiographies to learn how to write one.
11. Never too early to start callin' around to see if anyone needs a former two-term President to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day.
12. Call Bob Woodward. Get him to autograph all four books he wrote about the Bush years.
13.Quality lunch with Condi.
14. Cancel hunting trip with Cheney.
15. Call Wolfowitz. See if he has any bright new ideas.
16. Work on historical legacy. (Call Harvard & Yale. See if they want speech about global vision things, letting the market decide, or spreading freedom and democracy around the globe).
17. Speak to Roger Ailes at FOX News about becoming their newest military expert.
18. Give Bam the nuclear codes, and speech about having the fate of the planet in his hands.
19. Call Rumsfeld, then tell him you'll call him back--after the quality lunch with Condi. LOL.
20. Email Arianna about getting a blog on HuffPo, even if it's filled with liberals.
21. Hire Frum to ghostwrite it. That oughta to piss off all those Hollywood elites.
22. Join Facebook. Don't add Roger Clemens! He's calling about pardons.
23. Buy newest Kinky Friedman novel. They're always fun.
24. Book some plane tickets to Houston. How does one book plane tickets?
25. Turn out the Pennsylvania Avenue lights. The party's over.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,
It has been brought to my attention that you have changed your mind about the shameless partisanship and essentially undemocratic nature of having an appointed Senate, because appointed senators tend to vote the way the people who appoint them want them to. Fair enough. The senate is quite the august political institution, and in these days of stateless countries (see: pirates, Somalia) with no governments at all, it's difficult to see the harm in a few appointed senators coming aboard just in time to keep the coalition of the winless from doing anything foolish.
I hear you may have eight spots left to fill. You have my Blackberry coordinates. I am ready to serve.
Stephane Dion
Dear Steve,
Duffy? Duffy is a senator? LOL. That guy's in such bad shape (don't buy it if he tries to sell you that he's quit smoking, either), the over under on the guy lasting 18 months in the Senate is not high. If you want a political junkie journo on the senate who's gonna be around a while, Steve-o, here I am brutha!
Rick Mercer
Dear Prime Minister,
Ignatieff is behaving as imperialistically and pompously as ever. The guy gives such long-winded, thoughtful, judicious, extemporaneous answers to even the dumbest little question, it leaves no room for pedantic, over-sincere, economically-challenged, ideological progressives like myself to get on television anymore. I'll reform your Senate for you. Just name me to it.
Bob Rae
Dear Mr. Harper,
I read with interest your recent appointments to the Senate. While I have a great deal of respect for Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Nancy Greene, I noticed you haven't named any former NHL general managers to the Senate recently, an oversight I may be able to help you with.
John Ferguson Jr.
Dear Prime Minister,
This is just a bit of a pre-emptive attack (Ha!), but could you consider me the next time you make a batch of Senate appointments? I do good work, and have done a lot of television, and will live a long time, in case you get elected out of office and want someone to stick it the Liberals for the next six decades.
Daniel Cook
Dear Mr. Harper,
Me too!
Happy holidays,

Emily Yeung
Dear Stephen,
A pardon from any future malicious attempts to prosecute me for stupidly accepting those envelopes full of cash nearly two decades ago would be nice; a seat on the Senate even nicer; the Habs winning it all, priceless.
Dear Steve,
Catching a lot of heat for accepting this Senate appointment. Any chance I could get a sitdown with you for the national news to discuss? (I'll ask tough stuff so it doesn't look like you were trying to buy off the media on this).
All best,
PS. I quit smoking. I swear.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Just want to confirm that I can use the whole 90K travel budget you provide each Senator with to hang out in New York and go to cocktail parties with my Big American Media pals.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Post Up or Die! Ken Mink, 73, Oldest Living College Basketball Player

Slowhopes is a sucker for late bloomers, but 73-year-old Ken Mink is ridiculous. He made the Roane State (Tennessee) junior college basketball team this fall as a 73 year old! He played in the 1950’s, for Lee, Kentucky Junior College but got kicked off the team and never played again, for another 50 years. He started out in college ball with President Ike, and may finish up with President Obama!

Fox Sports ran an item about him in late October:

Ken Mink may be the first guy who can qualify for a senior discount during his senior season.
Ken Mink is living his college hoops dream at the age of 73.
Mink, 73, is a 6-foot, 190-pound newcomer to the Roane State (Tenn.) junior college basketball team about 35 miles west of Knoxville.
He’s likely the oldest person to ever play college hoops. To put Mink in perspective, Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson will be among the oldest Division I players this season; he just turned 26.
Mink played for Lees (Ky.) Junior College until 1956 when he was dismissed following a prank he still denies.
Mink, an avid outdoorsman, said he realized he could still hoop it up when he was shooting baskets in his driveway last fall.
“I had been knocking down shot after shot, so when I came in the house I told my wife, ‘I’ve still got it,’ ” Mink told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “She said, ‘You’ve got what?’ I said, ‘I can still play.’ ”
Mink wrote to some coaches seeking the chance to play, and Roane’s Randy Nesbit gave him a shot. Mink spent the summer getting into shape and playing with a senior team from the area in three state tournaments.
Mink says he was a good high school player in the ’50s and had several scholarship offers, but went to Lees because it offered a full ride. He says he averaged about 12 points a game until his dismissal.
He can still shoot (watch
this video from the Knoxville News Sentinel), moves pretty well for a septuagenarian and has bonded with his younger teammates.
Mink is unlikely to play for more than five or six minutes a game once Roane State opens its season Nov. 3.
“There’s a lot of complicated offensive and defensive schemes that I have to learn, but the other players have been helping me every step of the way,” Mink said.

Today, the New York Times weighs in with a story of its own.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Greg Freaking Maddux

Greg Maddux was the most ordinary-looking, least ordinary sports star Slowhopes ever came across.

He had a body like an office administrative assistant.

He threw a baseball with the ferocity of a Sunday afternoon, Central Park slow pitch superstar.

And he won. And won. And won. 355 times, against the best batters in the world, more than any pitcher in baseball except seven other freaks.

Maddux also is personally responsible for one of Slowhopes worst decisions of his life.

It was the 1996 World Series. The Braves v. the Yankees, who weren't quite the Yankees yet--they hadn't won a playoff series of any kind since 1978. Jeter was a rookie. Torre was the new manager in town.

And Slowhopes somehow managed to score tickets to Game 1 & 2 of the World Series!

This evident miracle rapidly turned into a fiasco. Andruw Jones, who was 19 years old, clobbered two homers in Game 1 and the A-T-L crushed the Yankees, which was depressing enough, but the very next night, Slowhopes watched in total despair as Greg Maddux completely shut down the Yankees. We think the score was 4-0, but it seemed worse--Maddux simply owned them in the way an ace sometimes destroys his opponents. He didn't throw hard, either. He looked like a librarian getting some fresh air, and threw like one, too, and the Yankees simply couldn't touch him.

Cut to:

The Yankees, against every conceivable odd, after losing those first two at home, won the next three in Atlanta! It was insane! Pettite won a 1-0 thriller v. Smoltz. Leyritz lined a three run homer into the ATL bully late in Game 4, erasing what remained of a 6-0 Atl lead. It was incredibly dramatic, sensational October baseball drama, all of which led to:

Game 6, Saturday night, Yankee Stadium.

Slowhopes, as luck would have it, possessed a pair of tickets for Game 7. The question was: would there be a Game 7? If the Yanks won Saturday night, it was all over.

Who was pitching Saturday night? Maddux the Witch.

Slowhopes had discovered, in the nascent days of the internet, a Yankees thread, and managed to wrangle an offer of an exchange: two Game 6 tix in return for his two game 7 tix. Plus $50 for beers and whatnot.

The only obstacle to this MLB Sophie's Choice was the witch. After sitting in pain through Game 2, in which Maddux utterly dominated the Yanks' lineup, Slowhopes made the call:

Don't bet against Maddux. We held on to our Game 7 pair and tuned in.

Only to hear Joe Girardi, of all the unlikelies, scorch a triple to deep left center early, to drive in two or three and stake the Yanks to a lead.

Saturday night, late October, a two or three run lead, 57,000 lunatics cheering: there was no hope. The Yankees prevailed, winning the first of their four 1990's World Series titles. Slowhopes was happy and heartbroken at the same moment. Later that week, he caught the D train to the Bronx and redeemed his two useless Game 7 ducats for $140, then caught the train back.

You were still one of the greatest, Maddux.

Charlie Brown: The Original Slowhopes

It is always a little weird to see the things you loved as a child all those years later, when they turn out to be completely idiotic, trite, and not as funny as you remembered.

Happily, Slowhopes checked out A Charlie Brown Christmas Monday night and found it funnier, smarter and more enjoyable than he remembers it being when he watched it as a kid. (This could be even more disturbing. We're not sure).


Charlie Brown is a wonderful creation. Even though he's a loser/blockhead, who does everything wrong, Charlie's heart is in the right place. He is disheartened by the rampant commercialism of Christmas. He is a bit of a pushover as the director of the Christmas pageant, mainly because he isn't bossy, like Lucy, his chief tormentor. And when Lucy sends him out to find a flash Christmas tree, he comes back with a distinctly underwhelming, undersized, malnourished tree everyone hates but he sees potential in.

There is also a lot of very toe-tapping jazz piano that we have always loved, and Snoopy doing his ecstatic Snoopy dance, which we have always thought was one of the finest expressions of happiness ever animated!

We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with Gus, the five year old, who didn't quite get all the anti-commercialism blasts, and even if he did, probably wouldn't have agreed with them. But we can only hope ABC will continue to broadcast A Charlie Brown Christmas year after year, and the message will hopefully take.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Selected Entries From the Diary of Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Selected Entries from the Private Journals of Prime Minister Harper

Oct 14, 2008
Dear Diary:
No majority. No biggie. The Libs are in ruins. I don't see any problem keeping this gig going until around 2011.

Oct 15, 2008
Dear Diary:
Dion is toast. Announced he's stepping down, after a new leader is chosen in May.
Don't say I never did anything for Canada: I kept the the wrong Steve from setting his carbon-free footprints in 24 Sussex.

Nov. 4, 2008
Dear Diary:
America now has a hipper leader than Canada. There. I said it. Who says I have no sense of humour? I bet I have a better backhand than Barry, although I'm pretty sure he'd trounce me in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Memo to self: finish the hockey book sooner than later. Statesmen need to write books in order to have a legacy. (Be sure to include a shot or two at Dion in the chapter about the Nordiques moving to Denver.)

November 27, 2008
Dear Diary:
Flaherty unveils the budget tonight. Have I got a surprise for Canadians! No more taxpayer-provided funding for those poutine-eating Bloc Quebecois freeloaders! No more right to strike for public service employees! No stimulus package! Hey Windsor: suck on this!

Who's going to stop me? Jack Layton? LOL!

November 28, 2008
Dear Diary:
Boy, you should have been in Ottawa today. Talk about a shit-storm erupting. You would have thought I'd pre-emptively invaded Toronto. (That's not the worst idea I've come up with. Discuss with McKay).

Dion says he has the NDP and Bloc onboard to form a coalition government. He's bluffing. Is that all the little green tax man's got? I'll eat his lunch! Does he really think this country is going to stand for a coalition that includes a separtist party? (The same separtist party who wouldn't form a coalition with me in 2004 to take down Martin. I hate separtist parties who hate me).

Monday, December 1, 2008
Dear Diary:
Just to be safe, I postponed the budget confidence vote a week. All hell is breaking loose. Ottawa hasn't been so much fun since Margaret turned up on tour with the Rolling Stones.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Dear Diary:
Have I ever said anything bad about Michaelle Jean? I sure hope not, because I need her now more than ever!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Dear Diary:
The (dirty, rotten, evil, liberal) Globe & Mail says for the good of the country, the party ought to consider replacing me as its leader in order to win back to support of the country.

How come nobody likes me? My whole life, it's been like this: Steve sucks. Steve thinks he's so smart. Steve is just a pudgy, Albertan, know-it-all a-hole. (Is it my fault I know it all? Should I play dumb, like Chretien? Should we make Tie Domi the PM?)

How can this have happened? (How can Dion have discovered his spine, so very near his ultimate disappearance from public life? If that little chinless wonder moves in here, I'm going to look for a job as a political columnist at the Globe & Mail and write really, really mean things about him twice a week, like that Dion apologist Jeffrey Simpson writes about me).

Less than a week ago, I was about to crush the Liberals into two decades of sitting on the opposition benches, and now the punditry are saying I must go? (We just painted the bedroom! We just bought the NHL Centre Ice package! The kids would have to switch school in the middle of the school year! I like the chocolate chip cookies the official chef cooks!)

I've got it! I'm going on television tonight to convince the country of the illegitmacy of this coalition! I've been Youtubing a lot of Barry's speeches and I think I've picked up quite a bit:

The Conservative Party is the change we've been waiting for! (Is that an oxymoron?)

Yes we can (govern!) Yes we can (get along with the sore losers, err, opposition). Yes we can! (Cough up a few bucks for Windsor, even though the auto industry is deader than the newspaper industry.)


Viva la Santa Monica Steps!

Slowhopes spent the best part of a decade jogging up and down the Santa Monica steps, all 189 of them. They’re at the corner of 4th Street and Adelaide, one of the more gorgeous corners of the universe, and overlook Malibu Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

There’s a class war brewing over the steps because personal trainers have turned the boulevard on 4th Street into a public gym. When Slowhopes lived there, sneaker companies would sometimes do shoe promotions. TV crews would shoot the workout artists, and needless to say, the steps were an outstanding view in more ways than the one looking out at the ocean.

Of course, it’s a little stressful to own one of the $7 million homes that line Adelaide (among them, Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver and Don Bachardy the ex-lover of the late Christopher Isherwood), but the Santa Monica steps are also a wonderful example of the genius that is America when America gets it right: the steps are all about enjoying beauty, they’re as green an activity as you can get, they’re non-exclusive, accessible, fun, and free. Maybe it’s more of an example of California getting it really right– only now, there are cops posted, writing $158 citations to anyone who lies down (as Slowhopes did every day for 9 years) to stretch and do a few stomach crunches.

Wrong! (How can California, with the all-time workout artist as its gov, allow this to happen?)

Mary Margaret O'Hara, Where are Ya?

Slowhopes can be expressed in a variety of forms:

Books (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver)

Movies (Atlantic City, Sideways, The Visitor)

Television Show (The Rockford Files, Hill St. Blues, The Sopranos)

Band (Los Lobos)

Singer/Songwriter (John Hiatt, John Prine)

and girl singer: that would have to be Mary Margaret O’Hara.

You may never have heard of her, except for the fact she’s the sister of SCTV alumnus Catherine O’Hara.

MMO is a kind of cross between early Ricki Lee Jones and some great jazz diva. She moves like a toy running out of batteries, sings like a religious movement, and all at a tempo that perhaps can best be described as alt.Canadian.

She was a Toronto art student in the 70’s. Slowhopes first saw her at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, in the mid-1980’s, in a field, in a driving rain, hopped up on (for the first time) magic mushrooms and scotch (easier to sneak in than beer). She was part of a band (we think) called something like the Cuban Fence Porch Climbers, although that was 20-odd years ago and it was, ahem, raining that night.

We remembered, in the fog of our hallucination, and the mood of our whiskey, thinking the gal singing lead for the band was an absoute genius of tempo and tone–but it coulda been the ’shrooms, right?

In the winter of ‘87, we found ourselves in Parkdale, on the way west end of Queen Street in Toronto, at some venue of some sort, quite a bit more clear-headed. MMO had left the band by then, and sang solo, and we were there, waiting to discover it had just been the drugs.

It wasn’t. MMO was the real deal.

And shortly thereafter, she released her solo LP, Miss America, on Virgin Records. Slowhopes loved that record, and spent many a Vancouver rainy night at Birch and 10th Street, holed up in the Shaugnessey Apartments listening to it, predicting all manner of greatness for MMO–but instead, it turned out to be the only real album she ever made.

Despite that fact, MMO continues to be a bit of an urban legend,and Slowhopes really really wishes she’d just make another record.