2/23/2015 0 Comments
Really, the title of this post is all that is required to understand the ridiculousness of the subject matter.
The morning after the Oscars, it’s always entertaining to hear about or read something quirky that occurred the previous evening surrounding the Academy Awards. Usually, it’s something that happened on stage, what one of the winners said, what one of the presenters did or how long past the five hour mark did the bloated extravaganza go. Not this time.
I nearly choked on my Cheerios when I read the dollar value of one of these “gift bags” that some of the nominees get: $165,000. Each. In US dollars. What?! What a waste to give millionaires even more money – for what? For showing up? For being lucky to be showcased in probably the most self-gratifying ceremony on earth? I can think of 10 more worthy causes than already-rich celebrities to give $165,000 worth of “stuff” to. How about Habitat for Humanity; the Cancer Society; the Red Cross; Oxfam; World Vision; WWF; Greenpeace; an animal shelter; a food bank; the Alzheimer’s Society.
The losing nominees in all the acting categories and best director all receive these outrageous bags. The IRS cracked down on these opulent giveaways a few years ago. If I was a B or C list movie star with a substantially lower salary than Meryl Streep, I’d think twice before I’d accept one of these “gift bags”.
Who do these people that vomit this extravagance think they are? How does giving over-priced stuff to millionaire celebrities make the world a better place? If you want to make a statement and promote your “stuff”, do something worthwhile like make a donation to a worthy cause instead of a worthless cause. It smacks of elitism and only results in the people with their heads screwed on straight to ignore your products because your self-serving attitude smells.
I can just see Marion Cotillard going on a $12,500 luxury camping trip. Can’t you? Give me a break. The people who run the Oscars are not affiliated with these gift bags, yet they allow the company that does to affiliate themselves with the Oscars. I don’t get it.
2/13/2015 0 Comments
Photo Credit: Graham Hughes/CP
This article could just as easily be titled “Why Tennis Canada Should Move the Federation Cup Tie to Romania” or “Why Canada Should Host the Federation Cup Tie vs. Romania”. The pros and cons for each are mirror images of each other. In other words, this upcoming tie in April 2015 is a no-win situation for Canada.
Just like the most recent tie played in Quebec City vs. the Czech Republic, Tennis Canada has been handed a situation where they will (most likely) be without the star of the show. Eugenie Bouchard, now focused on her career as one of the top players in the world, will likely take a pass on this tie again because it interferes with her schedule. It’s probably best that Canadian tennis fans come to terms with that right now so that they won’t be entirely disappointed when it happens in April. The tie in Quebec City, despite being played in (almost) her backyard, just happened to be scheduled right up against the next week of a tournament in Belgium that Bouchard was entered.
I understand Bouchard’s problem. Last year, after playing a Fed Cup tie in Montreal, she hopped on a plane almost as soon as she hit the last ball for a tournament in Europe. She arrived jet lagged and nowhere near tournament play level. It probably planted a huge seed of doubt in her mind about ever being put in a situation like that again. Consequently, the situation that happened in Quebec City was already pre-ordained. In April, after the at-home tie with Romania, Bouchard is scheduled to play a tournament the following week in Germany. Don’t expect Bouchard to make the same mistake she made last year.
As she should be, Bouchard is focused on her career as one of the best tennis players on the planet. That Federation Cup should pop up on a couple of occasions per year is like an irritating mosquito when you look at it from the standpoint of an athlete who is dedicated to training, traveling and competing. On the other hand, Fed Cup is part of the overall tennis machine, as well as the Olympics – as a way of growing the game both internationally and in each country. When a country like Canada rises to the most elite level in a team-oriented event like Fed Cup and Davis Cup, it raises the stature of the game and gets more and more people involved in the sport.
Tennis Canada needs Fed Cup and Davis Cup ties to be played at home as much as possible because they generate money to grow both the game and the federation. Although it is a huge advantage to have a tie played at home, in this type of circumstance, Tennis Canada should seriously think about deferring the tie to be played in Romania on clay instead of in Canada on a hard court. I think a lot of people (sports commentators, tennis analysts, the media) underestimate Canada’s tennis proficiency on clay – especially our female players. Bouchard is excellent on clay. The best performances from our female tennis players have been on clay (Bassett, Kelesi, Hy, Wozniak). I think the surface suits their style of play instead of the power-based male players.
If Bouchard were to play on clay in Romania, I think Canada would have an excellent chance to win. With a healthy Sharon Fichman alongside Gaby Dabrowski, we’d have a superior doubles team. The loss of the home court advantage would be a tough pill to swallow, but the team would have more depth and no one would be under pressure to have to travel on the red-eye to the next tournament because it’s basically next door in the same time zone.
The outcome of this draw was never going to favour Canada. That being said, the issue of the WTA Tour and the Fed Cup and their ongoing compatibility problem is something that is going to have to be addressed. Some solutions:
– Give WTA ranking points to players who play Fed Cup.
– Schedule Fed Cup during the silly seasons (from the get go in January; a couple weeks after Wimbledon; a couple weeks after the U.S. Open; and at the end of the year).
– Set aside a week or two during the year to play it (like it used to be) with ranking points equal to a top tournament.
Something’s got to change.
I am really torn about this predicament that Tennis Canada is in. They have a world-class tennis player in Eugenie Bouchard whom they want to see progress as far and as high as possible on the world stage to promote tennis in Canada. On the other hand, Canada, for the first time, is in the top tier of the world’s best team tennis competition (the Federation Cup) and in order to stay there, Canada needs its best performers to participate. Bouchard and Tennis Canada are in a no-win situation.
Canada has had success before in Fed Cup, reaching the quarterfinals on three separate occasions (1964, 1967 and 1987) and the semifinals once (1988) but that was before the format was changed in 1995 and tweaked again in 2005 to create a separate World Group 1 of eight nations and a World Group 2 of the next top eight nations. Since this format change, Canada has never been in World Group 1. 2015 marks the first year Canada has been one of the top eight nations in World Group 1.
So this is a big deal. Though Canada is seeded at the bottom of the group and plays the defending champs the Czech Republic in round one, their team is missing their A team. If Bouchard were to have played, a victory (and an upset) would have been clearly in play. Now, it is up to the (mostly) inexperienced Canadian team to show their mettle. If Canada wins this tie, it will be a major upset. The highly-experienced doubles players Sharon Fichman and Gabriela Dabrowski are valuable to Canada’s team. It’s the singles that will produce either a surprise win or a loss.
Bouchard played a lot last year. She has a ton of points to defend. After she played Fed Cup and advanced Canada to the playoff round February, she was off on a plane to another tournament and arrived there in not-so-good tournament condition – jet-lagged and tired. She lost early and she continued to lose early for a short period of time after. It is going to take a lot of fortitude to say “no” to a lot of non-tournament-tennis-related activities if Bouchard is professionally serious about becoming the best that she can be. That includes saying “no” to Fed Cup, when it is better for her to rest/train/practice and not jump on the next available plane after Fed Cup to be at a tournament that starts on Monday.
For her career, it also includes saying “no” to tournaments so that she can pace herself, re-energize her batteries, train, practice and enjoy non-tennis activities that are so important when all you do is eat, sleep and breathe tennis. The last thing Canada needs is a burnt out, tired and listless tennis player – just when she is at the cusp of greatness.
The only unfortunate circumstance about Bouchard’s decision not to play Fed Cup was her flippant response to the obvious question “Are you going to play Fed Cup?” Instead of answering the question concretely, the answer was immaturely wishy-washy. I’m chalking this attitude up to the intense pressure Bouchard must have been under to play Fed Cup and the response was a result of that pressure. After all, the tie is being played in (almost) her backyard.
In the end, not playing Fed Cup is best for Bouchard, Tennis Canada and Canadian tennis fans. It is a decision made that has everyone’s long-term goals in mind. Her decision may irk some people and be deemed self-important, but it will quickly be forgotten. People have very short memories. They will become even shorter once Bouchard wins or challenges for the best titles in tennis. These people need reminding that it was Bouchard that put Canada through to World Group 1. She was also there when Canada was toiling in zonal playoffs.
I don’t believe that Bouchard will never play Fed Cup again. This is just one of those times when the timing of it conflicts with her own plans for her career. It is in everyone’s interests (Bouchard, Tennis Canada, Canada, fans) that she continue to progress and grow her career. Fed Cup is a team competition, but it is really just a blip on the radar for the entire year of tennis filled with majors and premier tournaments that hold much more importance and status in the tennis world – and more importantly, to the general sports world audience and in the media as a whole.
Having said that, if Canada pulls off the upset or even gets a sniff at the overall Fed Cup title this year or in the years to come, Bouchard will be under pressure to make herself available – and I think she will. The temptation of Canada at the cusp of winning the world team title in tennis would be just too great to ignore. For now, the earlier rounds will have to be contested by seasoned and untried talents who also want to be in Bouchard’s position one day.
Calgary has always been and will always be a car-centric city. It was built for cars – not pedestrians, sort of like Los Angeles. They have sidewalks in Los Angeles for pedestrians, but there is one thing they don’t have: snow. It snows in Calgary. A lot of people don’t know that and they live there. I can’t think of another reason why a lot of people in Calgary don’t clear the snow and ice from their sidewalks.
Maybe they all have broken arms and legs. Maybe they’re blind. Maybe they’re stupid. Maybe they’re too busy on their computers buying crap from Ebay and Amazon while their lazy, entitled kids lounge on their beds in a contorted position that would make a chiropractor have nightmares, yip yapping on their smart phones about nothing while updating their Facebook page regarding the latest school yard gossip to fill their mundane lives. That has to be it. I can’t think of another reason.
Yes, now that everyone is safe in their houses, locked away from the bad, cold world, segregated from each other, let’s all ignore the hazardous, potentially life-threatening situation that is our unshovelled (yeah, I’m the one who invented that word and will submit it to Webster’s) sidewalk. Let’s leave it unshovelled so that it becomes hard-packed, rutted and an obstruction. Let’s continue to leave it unshovelled so that it slowly melts and turns completely to ice – now an even bigger hazard and life-threatening situation. Let’s NOT put salt or sand on it and completely ignore it.
One of these days, your complete disregard and lack of respect for your fellow human beings (a lot of whom are your neighbours and friends), will come back to haunt you. The little old lady down the street who uses your sidewalk to get from her house to point B will slip and fall on your recklessly maintained, unsafe sidewalk. She may break her arm, her leg, her hip. She may crack her head on the sidewalk and die. Are you willing to let that happen? If you are, you need serious help. I suggest you sell your house now and move your family into a mental institution, safe away from the rest of us.
Where I came from (the area and the time), kids did chores. They worked in and around the house and got an allowance for doing things like shovelling the snow. Not once have I ever seen kids out shovelling snow in ANY community in this city – EVER. Where are they? Like I said before, locked inside the house staring at their smart phones – either by choice since kids run roughshod over their parents these days or by force because the parents are too much in fear that they’ll be stolen away by all the bad people in the world that they think live on their street.
It’s always the adults who do the shovelling. Well, guess what? You aren’t very good at it because it’s not being done. I don’t care if you’re too busy or run off your feet. You have a responsibility as a homeowner (and a human being) to make sure that there are no hazards on your sidewalk – which by the way I know that you don’t own – the city owns it. As a homeowner with a piece of land adjacent to a city sidewalk, you essentially lease it from the city for as long as you own the property.
That little old lady, your neighbours, the paper boy, canvassers, meter readers, delivery persons, runners, kids in strollers – they are all at risk of injury because of your negligence. I think it would be quite a sad day for you if one of them slipped, fell, broke bones or killed themselves in front of your house on your unshovelled sidewalk. I think it would be quite funny if their relatives sued you and they suddenly owned your house. Funny thing about that isn’t it? Hope you have some good insurance. Better yet, clear the ice and snow from your sidewalk to begin with. It takes 5 minutes out of your alleged busy day.
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