Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Ticats Endangered in Hamilton by Stupidity

Ever had one of those days where you think to yourself, “Wow, I’m terrible at my job”?  Well never fear, you can make yourself feel better in the most human of all ways – by pointing and laughing at someone who’s even worse at their job than you are at yours.

I’m talking, of course, about Hamilton Ontario City Councillors.  And the Mayor.

Here’s the scenario:  The 2015 Pan Am Games are awarded to the Greater Toronto Area.  As part of the deal, the corporate entity hosting the games (“HostCo”) negotiates a deal with the federal and provincial governments, securing funding assistance for the building of certain venues.  Among these venues is a multipurpose stadium suitable for soccer events.    There’s one important proviso: money will be available from the feds and province for a soccer stadium provided the planned new stadium has a “legacy tenant”, somebody to use the fucking place after the 2 week Pan Am games are over. Hamilton gets targeted for, among other things, some of the soccer events.

The timing of all of this is like a gift from heaven for the City and its professional football franchise, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, because the Ticats currently play in an aging and decrepit facility that is difficult if not impossible to retrofit, and because it was unlikely the City and football team would be able to swing the construction of a new facility on their own.  Everything is falling into place: other governments are willing to help build an already needed stadium, provided things can be worked out to get the team that needs the new stadium to play in the planned new stadium.  Shouldn’t be hard, right?  All that remains is for the City of Hamilton to choose its proposed stadium site.

Cue the lunacy.  Ten sites are identified as possible Hamilton locations for the new stadium.  One of them – the West Harbour location – is identified as most beneficial to the City in terms of assisting with downtown redevelopment, but absolutely the worst for the Ticats.  The Ticats commission several studies, all of which tell them that they will struggle financially – or more accurately continue to struggle financially – if they go to the West Harbour location.  The Ticats express the importance of choosing  some other location to the City.  They express a preference for a location at Confederation Park.  The City resists.  A facilitator is appointed to mediate the dispute.  The facilitator agrees with the Ticats that the West Harbour site is not feasible for them, and recommends an alternative compromise site, something called the “East Mountain” site.

The Ticats are not thrilled, but indicate they are prepared to make it work.  The owner of the team even indicates he’s prepared to put $15 million on the table to assist with the funding, and to arrange for $59 million in additional funding to sweeten the pot for the City.

The City still wants its West Harbour site.

The owner of the team says in no uncertain terms that the Ticats will not play at the West Harbour site.

City Council votes and chooses – you guessed it – the West Harbour site.

So Council has recommended the one site that does not meet with the basic funding requirements, because it cannot boast an anchor or legacy tenant. No legacy tenant means there is a very real chance that no funding for the stadium will be forthcoming.  No funding means no stadium.  No stadium means no Pan Am games events and no economic development of any kind.  Aside from the profound embarrassment for the City that would result from a failure of this nature, such an outcome would represent a failure to move forward that is unlikely to be overcome in a generation.  City Council has made the one decision that results in the opportunity of a generation leaving town, likely to York University.

City Council has also thoroughly pissed off the Hamilton Tiger Cats and their owner.  As someone who’s been involved in a lot of community fundraising over the years, I can tell you this is horribly unjust as the Ticats, under the stewardship of Bob Young, have been tremendous corporate citizens and very responsible and caring contributors to the community.  The Ticats have a year and a half left on their lease at the charming, but inevitably obsolete Ivor Wynne Stadium.  The hope they had of moving to a new, more economically feasible, modern stadium in this City has been extinguished by the ridiculously short-sighted vote of City Council.  There is now a realistic chance that a team with 141  years of history in this city will be pushed out for no good reason.

“But wait, we can get a soccer team!  They’ll play at the new stadium!”  So sayeth the West Harbour types.  Not going to happen.  Bob Young, the owner of the Ticats, owns the rights to NASL soccer in this town.  The City better not be holding its breath for Bob to come riding in on a stallion to save their sorry behinds.

“But this is a victory for democracy! It’s about city-building, not a site for a football team!” So sayeth the West Harbour types.  Terrific and full of lofty principle, but it ignores the fundamental truth that there isn’t going to be a West Harbour stadium.  No stadium, no city building.  How is an embarrassing failure to achieve any of the objectives on the table a victory for democracy?

Ridiculous.  Embarrassing.  Ludicrous.  Hamilton politics all the way.

So go ahead, dear reader: walk in to your job tomorrow, drop your trousers and hop up on the photocopier glass.  Make a few thousand Xeroxes of your hairy ass and distribute them to your superiors.  Answer your phone by barking into it.  Answer each and every customer inquiry with the phrase “Robots.  Killer robots from the future did it.”  Remove your pants entirely.  Do the Stanky Legg every third step you take.  Insult a passenger, steal a beer and depart via the inflatable chute at the rear of the aircraft.   You can do all these things secure in the knowledge that, as bad as you are at your job, Hamilton’s Mayor and City Councillors are even worse at theirs.

3 Not Only Wise, But Security-Conscious, Men

On New Year’s Eve, the coffee shop that we usually go to near the office was closed.  Despite the impending festivities, it was a crazy busy day for Spouse and I, and at some point it became necessary to make a caffeine run.  I headed out the door, a little off the routes that I would habitually have occasion to pass along, and loaded up on Tim Horton’s steeped tea for Spouse and I, as well as a few other souls also unlucky enough to be in the office.

As I retraced my steps through the frigid December air, hands full of the supplies I had been sent to retrieve, I had passed by the City of Hamilton’s public nativity display in Gore Park.  As I’ve already said, it was a busy day and I had about six trillion other things on my mind;  I was in one of those mindsets that I get into when I have a lot of tasks to accomplish in a short period of time and I’m afraid of getting off schedule and causing complications further on down the line.  Single-minded, laden with cups of tea and timbits and striding purposefully back to work, I only half-noticed the display out of the corner of my eye. I had completely passed the display and was just stepping into the street when what I had seen scrambled up out of my subconscious and screamed at me to do a double-take.  I stopped, turned around and walked back and couldn’t stop laughing when my second look confirmed what my peripheral vision had told me was there.  As pressed for time as I was, and even though it was difficult to juggle about forty-five cups of tea while I fished my iPhone out of my pocket and got the camera app ready to go, I just had to take a picture:

Wide angle nativity
Nativity, Hamilton Style

Close-up view:

Closeup Nativity Warning
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3)

“…and in the darkness shineth
an everlasting light…”

Next step in Hamilton’s war against magi thieves?  Three words:  “booby-trapped Balthasar.”  Can’t be too careful with all that gold, frankincense and myrrh laying about.


Psssst!! Wanna buy a stick?

Okay, Barilkosphere, here’s your chance to pick up a piece of Leafs memorabilia.

My wife and I are running a charity auction tonight.  One of the items that’s up for grabs is an autographed hockey stick that  Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was kind enough to donate.  It’s autographed by the 2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs;  you know, the pre-truculent ones.

Now I know that there will be some among you who say, “Meh.  No Nasty Nazem, no Komikazi, no Happy Trails.  I am excited about this year’s team.  Last year is so – well, last year.”   But there’s a lot of this year on the stick too;  Luke Schenn, Mickey Grabs, Nick Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin, for example, were all Leafs last year.  And if I could identify all the signatures on it, I would be able to assure you that they’re all there (just kidding – most of them added their numbers beneath their signature).

There are also some elements of history and soon-to-be-history.  For example the stick is signed by Nik Antropov and Anton Stralman.  Since both of those players were traded by the Leafs, the successful bidder is virtually guaranteed* to own a stick signed by sure fire future Hall of Famers and future winners of multiple Norris, Hart and Art Ross trophies.

The stick comes with a certificate of authenticity.  I picked it up myself from MLSE;  it’s the real deal.

The auction is taking place between 5:30 and about 8:00 tomorrow night.  If you’re interested in submitting a bid on the stick, I can do it for you – we can communicate by Twitter (my handle is warwalker) or email (junior [at]  on my iPhone.   I’ll cough up the dough for the charity, you can PayPal me the amount of the bid if you win, and I’ll even pay to ship it to your home, apartment, dorm room, cardboard box or park bench. Which is a joke, of course, but it’s a nice way to segue to…

…the charity.  It’s called “Miles for Smiles“.  We’re raising money for homeless and street-involved youth here in the City of Hamilton.  All the money we raise tomorrow is going to the Good Shepherd Centres and is specifically ear-marked for two facilities they run for these kids, Notre Dame House and Brennan House.  They’re places that these kids can go when they have nowhere else to stay;  they offer social support services and try to hook the kids up with counselling and educational services to help the kids try to address whatever problems may be causing their homelessness.   This year, our honorary chairperson is a young lady who once found herself having to make use of these services, but who has made a success of her life – she’s off the street and attending a post-secondary institution, and she wants to become a social worker to help the clientele of these facilities.  So it’s a good cause.  If you’d like to help out, I’d appreciate it.


*If you listen to the mittenstringers, anyway.  What I’m saying is that the guarantee is entirely fictional.

Hulk 2 Movie Trailer Now Online

Parts of Hulk 2 (due for release in June of 2008, starring Ed Norton and Liv Tyler) were filmed here in Hamilton last fall. The Hulk 2 Movie Trailer is now available online (go clicky on the link). Many of the scenes featuring destruction in the streets that are shown in this trailer were filmed in Toronto, on Yonge – out front of Sam the Record Man and the Zanzibar Tavern (which looks to have gotten quite a facelift courtesy of the art department). There are, however, a couple of scenes in which you can quickly glimpse the set that was built here in Hamilton – you have to keep your eyes peeled, but there are a couple of scenes in which a club called “Apollo” is visible; that was one of the fake buildings constructed on the North side of King St. east of John.

I posted about the production of some of these scenes here (posts include some video taken on scene during the filming). Here is some video of a bus explosion scene that was taken during the production:

There’s no business like snow business

We, um, got a little bit of snow here in the Hammer. It snowed Friday night and then again all day Saturday. I didn’t go outside when it was storming, because it was cold and not very nice out there. I did stick my head out the back door for a couple of minutes to take a couple of pictures. Here’s one from Saturday afternoon, showing the general blowiness of this model of snow.
blowing snow

I took this one late yesterday afternoon from the (open) bedroom window upstairs. Never underestimate the strength of your marriage. If your wife comes upstairs and finds you – in the middle of a snowstorm, mind you – with the windows open and struggling to get the screens back on, it is not necessarily true that you will be thrown out of the house immediately; no guarantees or warranties are implied, reader assumes his own risk and your mileage may vary. I think it’s awesome how confused Popeye looks. Though he loves the snow, I think even the Popper was wondering where the hell all this stuff came from. You can see how deeply buried Spouse’s car is if you look to the left of the fence, in front of the shed.

birds eye poppy

Last night, I poked my head out the back door when it looked like the snow had finished hurtling out of the sky. I snapped a shot of one of the solar powered patio lanterns on our deck. For reference, the portion of the lamp visible in the photo below is about 8 to 10 inches from top to bottom.

patio lantern

I took this one this morning after the TWO HOURS worth of shovelling it took to make the driveway passable. That thing in the middle, covered in the white stuff in front of the house – that’s my car. It’s buried, it’s not accessible, it’s not going anywhere until May, apparently, but it’s my car.

So now we use these for transport.


I have approximately seventy-seven pictures of this icicle now. This one is unique, because it shows the water droplet falling through space.


You don’t have to go to day care, but you can’t stay here

Quickly, as I have much work to accomplish this evening and little motivation with which to do it:

On the way home from work tonight, I saw a sign that announced, “CHILD BOUNCER PARTY“. I immediately had visions of an enormous man with multiple piercings and several threatening tattoos evicting eight year-olds – unruly after a surfeit of grape juice – from the local tavern. Alternatively, I thought, perhaps the sign foretold of a gathering of aspiring juvenile door staff, kind of like Junior Achievement for the hospitality industry. I rejected as too violent a third possibility, one that involved my imagined revelers dribbling six-year olds around the room with cocktails in hand.

Whatever the sign really means, I can’t imagine it’s nearly as much fun.

Announcements 101

Around 5:00 p.m the other day, building maintenance staff were preparing to conduct some sort of test of the emergency alarm system.  First, there was a piercing beep that came out of the speakers installed in the ceiling throughout the building.   Next came the voice of some poor bastard (note to Mike:  not “rat bastard”), probably from security, who had been elected to make the dorky pre-alarm test announcement over the intercom (so as not to frighten the living bejesus out of the harried worker drones, already stressed to the uber-max by their monotonous labours for The Man).   I didn’t recognize the voice, so I can’t say for sure who made the announcement, and it is difficult to convey in words how the voice sounded (that’s a little bit like doing a dance about architecture), but for the limited literary purposes of this anecdote, you are requested/permitted to imagine that kid from the Simpsons, the one perpetually struggling with a puberty-related voice break.   The announcement he made is as follows:

Attention!  {ed. note:  Good start there, that one’s straight from Chapter 1 of the Big Book of How to Announce Things} We are about to conduct – er, we’re gonna do a test of the um, alarm.  You may experience some difficulty with your electrical computers or stuff.

…which was fine for me, because I was using no ‘stuff’ and a mechanical computer.

Optimism defined.

Walking to work today, Spouse and I passed a very large man who was animatedly talking to his own upraised right hand.  I turned to Spouse and asked whether she had seen it.  She had.  I asked whether she thought it strange.

“Yes,” she said, “but he didn’t seem upset or angry.  Just chatty.”

True enough.

Hulk 2 too.

In between periods of the Leaf game last night (yay Leafs fans for not booing McCabe -at all – and yay Leafs for showing up when it was gut check time), I banged together a rough edit of some video from last week’s Hulk 2 film shoot in downtown Hamilton. The big buzz on the street was for a scene where a vehicle (generally believed to be a “Hummer” by the man on the street, but described to me as a “jeep” by one of the movie guys) was to be propelled through one of the fake movie building walls. Obviously, everyone and his brother was interested in seeing this scene. That was what had kept me up until 3 o’clock in the morning on a couple of nights. I had been down to the set on Thursday October 11th, which was the second last day of filming – and saw no such scene. I figured that meant it was going to happen Friday night for sure. As it turned out, the scene they were doing did involve a Jeep, but the movie guys seemed to be working on a sequence in which the jeep, loaded with armed soldiers, goes careening through traffic on Main Street. In the meantime, extras were fleeing something on Hughson Street (presumably, this will turn out to be the Hulk in the finished movie). One good thing about this montage is that I did manage to get the scene from a number of different angles – but don’t hold your breath for a jeep smashing through a wall. In the end, Spouse and I gave up and went home to bed.

Youth is fleeting; that one is fleeting down the street in his underwear.

Saturday afternoon I went down to Ivor Wynne Stadium to watch some CIAU football – McMaster University vs. York in the last regular season home game to be played in the friendly confines at Balsam and Beechwood.  I went to the game because my friend’s son Joey is a first-year running back for the Marauders, and I didn’t want to miss possibly my last chance to see him play this year.   Joey had a great game in service of a McMaster victory over the Lions (since when are they no longer the “Yeomen”, by the way?) – he scored McMaster’s third touchdown, carried the ball 19 times for 121 yards and was named co-winner of the Mark Timpany trophy, presented to the MVP of McMaster’s homecoming game each year.  I very much enjoyed the game, though it was freaking cold sitting up in the stands, and I was thrilled for my friend (Joey’s father);  he had every reason to be beaming a thousand watt grin after the game.  There was no disguising the proud papa (though I noted he has begun sporting a soup strainer over his upper lip that some might argue represented an attempt at going incognito).