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Ok, so I’m a bit of a geek. As much as I try to hide it, people usually figure it out once they hear about things like my job as a programmer, the math degree from Waterloo or that I had Napoleon Dynamite glasses with super thick coke bottle lenses back in high school.

However, one of the things I never really got into was comic books. I’m pretty sure that I wanted to be Batman at some point of my childhood (but face it, who didn’t?) but outside of Archie & the gang from Riverdale, I never explored the medium. It’s only been lately that I’ve been checking some of them out, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta or Scott Pilgrim.

Today is the release day for Issue #6 of Scott Pilgrim or Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer or the commercials for the upcoming feature film starring Michael Cera and thought that it looks kind of like a comic book. Well, yeah, it’s actually six different books with the conclusion of the series being released last night. Actually, I shouldn’t act like this is some big underground, secret series as it’s featured in most bookstores these days and it’s pretty tough to ignore.

So anyways, where was I? Right, Scott Pilgrim #6. Since the series was set in Toronto and the writer was from Toronto, there were some pretty cool events in the city last night to celebrate the release of the conclusion to the story. I met up with fellow SilentTalkie Radio host Karim and his wife Kristie to check out the goings-on at The Beguiling, which is apparently a famous Toronto comic book store in The Annex. There was to be a few bands playing, awards for costumes, swag for sale and of course a lengthy autograph session with the man himself Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Karim and I showed up around 9pm and there was already the beginnings of a crowd gathering. There were a couple hundred people dillying about on a street that would typically have been quiet on a Monday night. I would’ve contemplated joining the autograph line, but I didn’t bring anything with me to get signed. After wandering the block, there were plenty of signs of life among the patios surrounding the store, but we could find no sign of the promised bands, so we tried to find a patio to grab a drink. An hour and a half later, we joined Kristie and headed back. The street was now so crowded with people that it was unofficially shut down. About halfway down the block, they were handing out awards for the best costumes and some other stuff. Unfortunately, instead of a PA, they were just using a bullhorn, so I couldn’t really hear exactly what was going on, but there was a real sense of anticipation building.

After a short detour for ice cream, (which I got in a mini-Blue Jays helmet, just admit it, you’re jealous) it was finally time for the book to be unveiled. The event seemed to lack organization for the hundreds of people there. (I think they hit their target of 1000 or at least were really close) People were standing in unofficial lines until about 11:45 when they finally announced where the lines were to get your autographed copy, or if you didn’t want to wait in the line of 500 strong, just your copy of the graphic novel. After a muffled countdown at midnight, we were handed our books and sent on our way.

All in all, it was a neat event. It was cool to see so many young people (everyone seemed between the ages of 15 and 35) just chilling, waiting for their piece of Toronto lore. On the nerd scale, with 0 being the Super Bowl and 10 being LARPing or a Star Trek fan expo, this is probably an 8 or about on par with the World RPS Championships. It was definitely nerdy, but it was still cool with plenty of girls and hipsters to be found. As for the actual book? Well, I won’t ruin the story for you, but it’s a fitting end, so check it out or just wait for the movie in a month.

Jared

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It’s been a while since Dave’s had a non-sensical rant on here, so I’d thought that I’d take this opportunity to fill that void. I’ll touch on a topic that’s become an increasingly frustrating part of my life, namely cyclists.

Now, I’m all for cycling most of the time. If I had a commute that was shorter than 35km, I’d probably be cycling to work. I understand that cyclists have tough choices. Whether you choose to ride in on the street or on the sidewalk, there’s always dangerous obsticles that present themselves. Most of these times, these obsticles are moving and don’t show you any respect. This is why there’s a push for bike lanes and bike paths to help alleviate these concerns and reduce the risk of an accident. So why don’t people use them? My place of dwelling is situated between one street with a bike lane and another without one. Would it surprise you to learn that I see more cyclists on the street without a bike lane? Are cyclists that lazy that they won’t go one block east to use a street with a bike lane? Instead, they’ll travel on a street, with high traffic density, typically used by cars to get in and out of downtown as quickly as possible. This seems like a poor choice, to willingly put yourself in a perilous situation, when, with 30 seconds of effort, you could be travelling on a street with your own lane and much less traffic. I just don’t get it.

The other thing is the number of cyclists that have blatant disregard for the laws of traffic while on the roadways. Stop signs, one way street, traffic lights or even attempting to pass a car on the right, who is in the process of turning right. Maybe the government needs to adopt an education and licensing system for people that ride bikes to make it safer for everyone. It seems like most of these things are common sense, yet they seem to be disregarded quite easily by cyclists, who apparently, have no concept of the trouble they can cause.

I know this doesn’t apply to most cyclists, people that are grateful for reserved bike lanes, use them, and continue to push for more. I’ll support your cause in the name of safety and enjoyment. Just please realize that if you want continued respect on the roadways, make you sure you respect the vehicles as well. It does work both ways.

-Jared-

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I’m not sure if you remember my last post for Dave’s blog but I summarized Canada’s latest World Cup Qualifying campaign at the halfway point. Needless to say, the second half of the campaign continued the trend started in the first half and Canada failed to advance. So once again, in 2010, I will be reduced to cheering for a country with whom I have no ties beyond a shared ethnic background that has little impact on my day-to-day life.

But not all is lost in the world of Canadian soccer. The CONCACAF Gold Cup has just started and once again, Canada is poised to make a decent run in the tournament. But wait, you say, aren’t these just the same teams that have defeated Canada over and over again in World Cup Qualifying? How can Canada hope to have an impact when it has struggled continuously on the International scene?

Well, it’s pretty simple. No one cares about the Gold Cup, especially in years when its champion does not qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup. That’s right. Most countries have not sent their stars to this tournament and although Canada is missing some of it’s key players (Dwayne De Rosario, Lars Hirschfeld and Rob Friend to name a few), Canada has done pretty well in the tournament the last few times and is off to a good start, having beaten Jamaica on Friday, thanks to a nice goal by recent Toronto FC signing Ali Gerba.

Canada have won the tournament twice. Once in 1985 (just before making its only appearance at the World Cup) and again in 2000. They also would’ve reached the final in 2007 if not for a very questionable offside call that nullified a late potential tying goal against the US.

Just like in World Cup Qualifying, Canada have been placed in the toughest group, but, as mentioned above, they started off strong with a 1-0 win over Jamaica. Next is El Salvador (you can catch the game at 9pm Eastern tonight on Sportsnet) and if they can win, they will qualify for the knock-out round. Rounding out the group is a Costa Rican team, which has already lost to El Salvador.

I’ve already mentioned who’s not on the team but there’s still plenty of talent and some talented new faces who have an opportunity to impress. The squad will be led by Julian De Guzman and Atiba Hutchison in the midfield and Ali Gerba up front. Be sure to keep an eye on Simeon Jackson, who recently scored a last minute goal to give his team, Gillingham, promotion to England’s third level, and defender’s Dejan Jankovic and Andre Hainault, who are both having great first years in MLS.

-Jared-

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Dave Duncan is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

It’s amazing what brainwashing can do, just ask me to play a game of solitaire. Once I find the red queen, I’m open to the power of suggestion.

Now that I’ve got the obligatory, obscure old movie references out of the way, I can get down to business. I was asked to write a post on the occasion of Dave’s 31st birthday. But since I’m known to be terribly apathetic, I’ll just leave you with this:

Happy Birthday Dave and may the Ides of March continue to be kinder to you than it was to Julius Caesar. Sic semper tyrannis!

-Jared-

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After last week’s contribution, I figured that I’d stick with another patriotic subject. Although this subject was mentioned only in passing by Dave about six weeks ago, I figured that it needed a full post.

The Canadian Men’s Soccer Team has not qualified for a World Cup since 1986, where they were eliminated from group play without having scored a goal. Since then, it’s been frustrating loss after frustrating loss leaving the Canucks on the outside looking in. Whether it’s a lack of skill, extremely poor officiating or incredibly bad luck, Canada has failed to be represented on soccer’s biggest stage in over 20 years. A frustrating time for those of us who were too young to watch that campaign in 1986. Sure there was the Gold Cup win in 2000, but I’m not sure how many people realize that Canada was once champion of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) or could identify Carlo Corazzin and Craig Forrest as national heroes.

This time around was supposed to be different. Canada was supposed to qualify for 2010 in South Africa. They had a talent level previously unseen in Canadian history with players representing large clubs in England, Spain, and Germany. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy for Canadian soccer. After easily dispatching St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Canada was drawn into an incredibly tough group with Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica, where only the top two teams advance. I know what you’re thinking, “It shouldn’t be that bad. Second place should be attainable. After Mexico, the Canadians should be able to beat everyone else.” Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The group really features the strongest teams in CONCACAF aside from the United States. But like any good Canadian, optimism reigned. These teams had never seen the talent of Julian De Guzman and Dwayne DeRosario.

We should’ve known something was up when one of the most promising Canadian talents in Jonathan De Guzman acquired Dutch citizenship and offered to ply his trade in Orange rather than red and white. It was all downhill from there. It started off with an embarrassing 1-1 draw with Jamaica before a raucous crowd in Toronto. I say embarrassing not because Canada was outplayed by Jamaica (which they weren’t), or because Jamaican ex-pats in Toronto outcheered the Canadian home support (for the first time in a while in Toronto, this wasn’t true) but because of a miscue on a corner kick where an innocuous kick by Toronto-born Andy Williams wound up in the back of the Canadian net. Whether it was a misplay by goalkeeper Pat Onstad or if he was fouled on the play, it really doesn’t matter as Canada was unable to recover and settled for the 1-1 draw.

Although there was this set back, there was still hope. Canada carried the play against Jamaica and this set them up really well for the next match against Honduras in Montreal. Unfortunately, this would be as good as it got. Canada lost 2-1 to Honduras and then went on to lose 2-1 in Mexico where the score line indicated a much closer game than what actually happened.
So as we stand at the halfway point, we have Mexico with 9 points, Honduras with 6 and Canada and Jamaica with 1 point each.

As you can see, Canada isn’t out of it yet. If they can win out, they still have a chance to finish second. But this means winning in Honduras on Saturday while missing two players to suspension (De Rosario and Adrian Serioux) while their best player, Julian De Guzman, watches from the sidelines with an injury. It’s still possible but even if it does happen, there’s still beating a much superior Mexican team in Edmonton (although they’ll have already clinched a spot and have nothing to play for) and beating a tightly-knit Jamaican squad on their island. While not impossible, it’s definitely daunting and there’s no room for error.

So if you’re finding yourself with nothing to do at 9:30 pm on Saturday night, flick over to Sportsnet and cheer on the boys in red. They’ll need all the support they can get.

Oh yeah, and if my last post didn’t scare you off, get out and vote on Tuesday. Despite what I said, your voice needs to be heard and voting is the easiest way to do that. Unless of course you end up dating a cabinet minister and he leaves sensitive documents lying around the house.

-Jared-

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We’re a little over a week away from the Canadian federal election and I’m struggling to invest the time necessary to analyze party platforms and care about this election. No, I’m not all tied up in the US election, but I’m just having trouble believing that my vote makes a difference. This isn’t one of those “The system is broken” or “I don’t care about politics” posts, it’s just, this is my third federal vote while living in Toronto Centre (the previous full election and a by-election earlier this year) and all I’ve seen is one party’s candidates easily walk away with the seat. You may as well paint the entire riding red, as the Liberal’s will win the seat easily. I was hoping for a little more competition after Bill Graham retired, but Bob Rae won by an even larger margin during the by-election.

When Dalton and I were heading to vote in the by-election in March, we ran into some NDP canvassers. When they noticed the voter registration card in my hand, they asked who we were voting for. I joked that it doesn’t matter since the Liberals will win handily. I was trying not to laugh when they insisted that their candidate had a real chance and they mentioned some people thinking that Toronto Centre would be a close race between the Liberals and the NDP. Trying not to seem rude, I wished them luck in their campaign and went to vote. Although, I did laugh a little when I saw the results with 59% of the votes going to Rae and the NDP candidate finishing nearly 11,000 votes behind him and only 113 ahead of the Green Party candidate.

Anyways, hopefully you’re lucky enough to live in a contested riding, so watching the English Language Debate tonight (or the French Language Debate last night if you’re so inclined) will actually mean something. Even if the result in your riding won’t be close, get out there and vote. Parties receive federal funding in the next election based upon votes received, so a vote for a losing candidate means a couple extra bucks for their campaign next time around. Plus, it’s always fun scanning through the names of the lesser parties. Who actually votes for a party entitled the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada?

-Jared-

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Dave “Now happily married” Duncan should now be sitting in a cramped seat, flanked by his new bride and probably some fat guy, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, so I taking up the gauntlet he has thrown down to keep you, the reader, hopefully entertained but probably underwhelmed until he returns. Based upon his last few entries, it should not be that difficult. I just need a somewhat clever title referencing a film or song that you might have seen or heard and then a brief summary of some event, with little depth.

The wedding took place on a typical fall day in the Ottawa valley. The temperature rested in single digits, the sun and clouds alternated dominance in the sky with occasional showers and a light fall breeze stirred the air. I could give you a play-by-play summary of the day but I’ll leave that to Dave or a future guest blogger should one of his groomsmen step up and give you the inside story. All I’ll say is that it was a beautiful ceremony and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Dave that happy and exited.

If you need to kill some time, step into the “Way Back Machine” and check out the Grudge Match archives. It’ll take you back to a time where MP3’s required time and skill to locate and rap metal was all the rage.

-Jared-

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