Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Extent | Episode 12 "The Message Home"

Alright, it was on time as advertised - in fact it was up bright and early on Friday morning. So I'm a little late posting this up here.

Survival of the Fittest


Info: Revelations set some in the group into a new direction.

Hmm, despite this being the first post since December 24; a clear month since the last episode - that time wasn't spent writing anything for the information section. Did I send some for Jay to post along with it? You'd better believe it. Was it worth my time? I guess not. It should read:
Written by: Jay Nassr
Directed by: Jay Nassr

Plot: Putting his plan in action, Luther climbs the ladder to learn more about the camera that has been watching them. It is their only hope – and their escape hinges on whether he can turn that device into a way out.
And even worse, it's hardly even an episode long. The episode actually ends at 4:43 of a 6:07 video. It would appear that even Jay felt that this was embarrassingly little to give fans who've waited a month - so he added a teaser at the end to bulk the video up some more. Yet, we should all know by now, fluff and filler do not a good video make.

Admittedly, there are two plot twists - albeit one is obviously designed for ratings, and it leaves on a relative cliffhanger. These are good things and I hope you appreciate it.

Now, I know what happens in the finale - and I can go and say this - if you're used to Lost finales where they leave you with a huge frustrating cliffhanger - this is probably going to make things easier for you. The show is going to reveal a lot in the next two episodes on Monday. If you're looking for answers - you'll be pleased.

Hope you're enjoying the show.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Back to the 'Borough

Well, the cool thing about my new job (there are others, but this has a ubiquitous quality of excellence to it) is that I have half-Fridays. Plus they're casual Fridays, meaning, I don't need a dress shirt (though I'll probably wear one this week anyhow) and I get to start my weekend at 1:30 in the afternoon - which I'll spend commuting back to Peterborough to be home before you know it.

This is nice. It's especially rewarding because it would appear I've got to work a bit of overtime (about an hour and a half) on Thursday afternoon/evenings. Now, we'll have to wait and see if I get a full lunch break and a 1:30 clock-out?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bad news for Haiti

I don't know if you've heard about this earthquake that destroyed Haiti - but there have since been some horrific discoveries since the destruction. Including:
-- Devastation: Haiti's art museums and galleries suffer serious damage as a result of the recent earthquake. (Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles Times needs to learn about perspective. The art that was affected in the gallery is bad, but ... this is almost as bad as when the City of Atlantis sunk - that's how screwed Haiti is.

But fear not, Haiti, help is on the way:

John Travolta has flown his own Boeing 707 jet to Haiti. The jet carried medical supplies and doctors, as well as a crew of Scientologists. to perform "healing". John Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, accompanied him on the journey. I'm sure the his intentions are good, but this smacks of opportunism: carving out another territory for Scientology using the dubious opportunity presented by a huge disaster. (It's called "Casualty Contact", and the NYPD was having none of it after 9/11)

The only problem is that Haiti needs as many doctors as possible, and let's face it: Scientologist healers are not doctors.

Haiti says: Merci, Travolta. Retournez aux LA, si vouz plait.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dinosaur Round-up 10

Some kid discovers dinosaur bones | me? I'm jealous. Do have any idea how many hours I spent as a kid digging in my back yard (in one spot, admittedly) to find dinosaur bones? Next thing you know, there has never been a dinosaur fossil uncovered in Ontario because of the f-ing Canadian Shield. Thanks allot geography - you ruined my childhood dream!

New dinosaur from Arizona
Sterling Nesbitt spent his youth as a dinosaur detective digging in the Arizona desert.

The Mesa native started collecting fossils of sea urchins and other small creatures at age 8. At 15, he made his first formal foray into paleontology, helping to unearth bones of a Columbian mammoth found at a Chandler construction site.

"He was always outside digging," said his mother, Noreen Nesbitt.

And now all that digging has paid off.

Last month, Nesbitt was featured as the lead author of an article in the prestigious journal Science in which he documented his team's discovery of a new dinosaur species during a four-year dig in New Mexico.

The discovery was a significant one in the competitive world of fossil hunting. The skeleton was not only found intact, which is rare, but it also provided an evolutionary link between older Triassic-era dinosaurs and the relatively younger Jurassic Period relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex.

My wife and I visited [there's an awesome pic of a Tyrannosaurus facing off against a Triceratops] the Cleveland Museum on our last trip to Ohio (I think back in late March?) and had a chance to check out the exhibit. Anyhow, this new exhibit is taking Tyrannosaurus down a peg -

Cleveland Museum updates
Tyrannosaurus rex of "Jurassic Park"? Scary, yes, speedy, no -- not in real life. Scientists have figured out that the terrible lizard couldn't run that fast.

At "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries," on exhibit through Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, you can view a T. rex in motion in 3-D animation. You'll also see full-scale models of dinosaurs along with a 700-square-foot diorama depicting a 130 million-year-old forest in China where a feathered dinosaur, Beipiaosaurus, once lived.

If you're wondering how the extinction of the giant beasts occurred -- by climate change and/or a meteor strike, among other theories -- this interactive exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History in New York will give you and the kids something to ponder.

Here are some facts from the exhibition that may even help answer the age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the feathered dinosaur?

Really? Modern birds and dinosaurs are related?

The evolution of feathers is the early link of dinosaurs to the modern bird. Although some, like the Caudipteryx, which lived about 124.6 million years ago, had birdlike feathers (numerous thin filaments called barbs that extended outward), they could not fly because of short arm length. Modern feathers evolved long before the ability to fly.

Here's another avian connection -- some dinosaurs left tracks very similar to those of modern ground birds like the wild turkey.

How fast could a Tyrannosaurus rex move?

The Tyrannosaurus rex walked at a pace that was comfortable to its weight and the stresses on bone, muscle and tendon created by movement. Scientists estimate that the T. rex moved at about 7-10 mph. The T. rex may have moved faster for short bursts; however, even at top speed, it moved slower than portrayed by Hollywood.

Not quite on the same side as dinosaurs - but more about their extinction (or, not about their extinction, more accurately) ...

Fox news makes a mistake, but don't expect anyone to let them live it down

Does Fox News' "zero tolerance for on-screen errors" also pertain to articles on FoxNews.com? If so, somebody's head ought to be on the chopping block for a recent article on FoxNews.com, marked as "updated" on January 7, 2010, which asserts that a volcanic eruption "killed more than 70 percent of plants and dinosaurs walking the planet 250 million years ago." The problem? Fox News made the dinosaurs extinct before they had actually evolved. Fox also suggested that the same volcano erupted coal.

The FoxNews.com article begins:

The tremendous volcanic eruption thought to be responsible for Earth's largest mass extinction — which killed more than 70 percent of plants and dinosaurs walking the planet 250 million years ago — is still taking lives today.

Scientists investigating the high incidence of lung cancer in China's Xuan Wei County in Yunnan Province conclude that the problem lies with the coal residents use to heat their homes. That coal was formed by the same 250-million-year-old giant volcanic eruption — termed a supervolcano — that was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The high silica content of that coal is interacting with volatile organic matter in the soil to cause the unusually high rates of lung cancer.

In addition to pointing out that there were no dinosaurs walking the earth at the time, the Highly Allocthonous blog notes that Fox is making the ludicrous suggestion that coal erupted from the volcano.

This is probably about as interesting as paleontology actually gets - you find a fractured piece of fossil, then you have to figure out where the hell on a dinosaur it came from, and somehow conclude which dinosaur it came from. Not easy. And in some cases, the fossils will remind you of a paper you read years ago - and then you think, hmm, what if we applied that paper to this fossil? This is what you get:

Gator breath may explain how dinosaurs ruled the world

New insights into the breathing habits of alligators may explain how the dinosaurs' ancestors thrived after a Permian-Triassic extinction that eradicated 70% of all land life and 96% of all sea life some 251 million years ago.

A University of Utah study published in tomorrow's Science discusses how the structure of alligators' lungs may have allowed the dinosaurs' archosaur ancestors to survive Earth's low oxygen environment after "The Great Dying," a massive extinction which killed off most of the synapsids, reptilian precursors to the dinosaurs that eventually evolved into mammals. According to Utah researcher C.G. Farmer,

"A few of the synapsids survived the mass extinction to re-establish their dominance in the early Triassic, and the lineage eventually gave rise to mammals in the Late Triassic," says Farmer. "However, the recovery of life in the aftermath of the extinction involved a gradual turnover of the dominant terrestrial vertebrate lineage, with the archosaurs supplanting the synapsids by the Late Triassic."

From then until the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, any land animal longer than about 3 feet was an archosaur, says Farmer, while mammal-like synapsid survivors "were teeny little things hiding in cracks. It was not until the die-off of the large dinosaurs 65 million years ago that mammals made a comeback and started occupying body sizes larger than an opossum."

Had the Permian-Triassic extinction not occurred (and oxygen levels dipped to 12% as opposed to 21% today), it'd be intriguing to see what sort of proto-mammalian forms could've evolved. Heck, had "The Great Extinction" never occurred, I'm betting we'd be sitting pretty with some Kryptonian-grade superpowers by now.

Are dinosaurs awesome? Yes - so good they can even fix the Detroit Zoo! For the record, I did an article on this for In Business Magazine last summer - and I even blogged about it back then.

Dinosaurs help revitalize Detroit Zoo attendance

Royal Oak -- Attendance at the Detroit Zoo last year jumped 14 percent over the previous year, with zoo officials giving credit to the Dinosauria exhibit.

There were 1,271,633 visitors in 2009, compared with the 1,114,221 people who visited in 2008, according to a press release. It was the fourth consecutive year-to-year increase for the zoo. Officials credit the zoo's advertising campaign and new offerings.

Disturbing or outstanding? A lot of people really love the Jurassic Park franchise, but each movie has ventured away from the awe that the first film inspired - and people seem to cringe when they see what might happen in the next few films. That being said - prepare to cringe:

A 'Completely new trilogy' on its way for Jurassic Park

Is it possible that we'll actually take a return trip to "Jurassic Park" at some point in the future? Judging by the amount of Hollywood remakes, retreads and reboots, it's more or less a certainty that the dinosaur-filled franchise will rear its head again before too much longer.

"Jurassic Park III" director Joe Johnston spoke about the topic at length in an interview with Box Office, during which he also described his upcoming work on "The First Avenger: Captain America." According to the filmmaker, not only will we see future installments of "Jurassic Park," those films will also go in a brand new direction.

"There is going to be a 'Jurassic Park IV,'" said Johnston. "And it's going to be unlike anything you've seen. It breaks away from the first three — it's essentially the beginning of the second 'Jurassic Park' trilogy. It's going to be done in a completely different way."

Different you say? Different as in dinosaurs in space? Dinosaurs in prison? Dinosaurs... in love?!?! At this point, it's just too early to say exactly what direction the new series is going in, but Johnston insists that there are more films on the way.

"If they keep working — and if audiences keep going to them — there's no reason why there wouldn't be," he said. "We just want to make them justified in their own right. We don't want to make sequel after sequel just because there's a market for it. We want to tell different, interesting stories. You don't want to just sell hamburger."

No, you don't. You want to sell dinoburger. Dinoburgers that can communicate not just with each other but also with particularly savvy paleontologists.

Oh, Hollywood. Can nothing stay pure anymore?

Alright - I've got a tonne more dinosaurs stuff - BUT no more time to blog right now. If you like dinosaurs, I hope you've enjoyed this little survey on the subject.

Be good.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Extent | What happened to it?

That's a very good question. I have a few videos and I'll post them here - neither really explain when you should expect a new video - but I've got an inside scoop that will help out.

First video - behind the music of The Extent - which is a really neat little video. I think you'll like it.


Leave a comment, rate it, click on the favourite button, and sign up for a subscription, if you'd like. As soon as the next episode is up, you'll be emailed an update, letting you know that it's up right away. It's a great way to stay in the loop and not miss a beat (esp. when updates are a bit unreliable).

Next video is just a shout-out from Executive Producer and Creator, Jay Nassr.



As for my insider's scoop - the reports are that all the filming for the rest of the season is done, meaning we just have to get'er put together. There's a finale party at Colasanti's (a "farm/petting zoo") in Leamington, Ont. on Wednesday night where the cast and crew are expected to watch the final three eps together - then the videos will be posted on Thursday evening.

This won't be the first time we've been told to expect an episode on a particular date ... but this is what the scoop says, anyhow. So, expect Episode 12 "The Message Home" on Thursday evening some time. My best guess is that the final two episodes after that (Exodus Part 1 & 2) will follow on the same evening.

First day at a new job

Well, yeah, this is it. the first day at my new job. I'm excited. I'm not likely to post too much info about work on the blog - I would imagine employers dislike that sort of thing - so I'll preemptively commit myself to not doing that. But, be assured, I am excited about it. The new job will likely mean fewer blog posts (but hopefully there will be more personal stuff than hobby stuff).

Off I go.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Zombie dinosaurs | research

I've had one of my peer reviews for Lefevre's Redemption come through for me, which is great. There was a load of good feedback and I'm looking forward to getting a few more back and using it all to improve the manuscript. It will be great.

In the mean time I have been wanting to write a bunch more for the Zombie Dinosaur project - but I realize that after the first act (which I was happy with) there is a lot of rewriting to complete, and that has to be done after I figure out how I intend to tell the whole story. My initial impression is that the story is likely going to be at least two books - so I've got to seriously work on two story arcs to make it all work. (this is preferable than writing a 4-600 page novel (which I'm not too interested in committing to). I'm also debating whether Zombie Dinosaurs is really a good title for the project; it's definitely the inspiration, but ... the story seems to be going in an entirely different direction - which is good, because the story is good.

Without giving away any of the plot - there is a significant back-story that I've had to do a lot of research for. If I intend to not only be informed on the subject, but also able to tell the story of the character who is to play a significant role in the motivations of my characters - man, I've got to learn a whole lot more on the subject I'm writing on.

So, while there haven't been many updates on the subject - I have read quite a bit on the subject in question.

First off, in the craft of writing itself, I have been through a couple of books, happily.
  • Stephen King wrote a great book (right around the time he was hit by a truck and temporarily crippled) On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft which was a lot of fun to go through. A lot of very interesting insights on how he works and how he's grown over the years. Funny anecdotes, plus the trials and tribulations of being a starving artist.

  • Syd Field is the staple book for how-to screenplays. Thus, The Screenwriter’s Workbook: is an apt title. I am still considering whether I want to develop this as a graphic novel, a screen play or a novel just yet. Not sure what I want to do with it - besides the tremendous amount of time it would take, the graphic novel idea would be really fun to finish (probably not nearly as much fun to produce, though).
  • Karen S. Weisner's From First Draft to Finished Novel which has a lot of good information for writing a novel.
  • Linda N. Edelstein’s Writer’s Guide to Character Traits to help develop characters > I've been using this quite a bit to help develop characters in The Extent, as well.
  • Richard E. Rubenstein's Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews rediscovered ancient wisdom and illuminated the Middle Ages was a great book on science burgeoning out of the dark ages.
  • Jeffrey J. Butz's The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity provides a very interesting secondary perspective on the life and times of Jesus and the Jewish world of the first century.
  • Michael Grant's Nero which was about one of the Roman emperor's back in the day. There was a great fire in Rome back then, and he murdered a bunch of Christians in the name of justice.
  • And I'm currently fighting my way through David Klinghoffer's Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, providing a lot more context on the Middle East during the first century (and quite a bit before that, too). All very valuable information for the foundation of my story.
I've got a stack of other books I've not been able to get through yet, too. Dave Marcombe's Leper Knights, Scott-Martin Kosofsky's The Book of Customs and Mike Sack's And Here's the Kicker (a book on writing comedy!) so ... lots of work still to do before actually writing more on the project.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lost news 11

There's only 12 days to go before Lost returns, and it definitely won't be interrupted by the President and his State of the Union address, courtesy of him coming to his senses.

And, even though this is the final season of Lost, and the executive producers who have led the series to so much success say there won't be any spin-offs later - that doesn't mean the studio won't consider using the franchise to launch into a new show.
Anything and everything is on the table, as Disney execs map out a long-term strategy for "Lost," the ground-breaking mystery/sci-fi series that returns in February to begin its sixth and final season.

In the short run, that could mean "Lost" novelizations and comicbooks, as well as gaming extensions, digital distribution, recut "Lost" DVDs and an oft-rumored "Lost" amusement park attraction. But further down the road, that might also mean a new TV or feature take on "Lost," complete with new auspices and cast -- in other words, "Lost: The Next Generation."

"We've been talking about this for a couple of years now," says ABC marketing exec VP Mike Benson. "We want to keep it alive but make sure we maintain the integrity of the franchise. We're not about milking this thing for all that it is right now; it's important to see this live for years to come."

Ian Somerhalder might look sleepy this season It's definitely unkind of me to post any spoilers here, especially considering my zero-tolerance for spoilers this year, but knowing who is going to be in the cast for the future is okay with me. But, I don't even want to know what the titles of upcoming episodes are - not at all.


Granted, we know that Boone will be back in some form this last season, and it sounds like Somerhalder, his actor, will be burning the midnight oil to bring him back to the screen.

Asked how many episodes he will appear in, Somerhalder replied: "That, we don’t know. But I will definitely be back as much as I can.

"You know, it will maybe be one of those things like taking a red eye from Atlanta, landing in Hawaii in the morning, working all day and then flying back. I mean we're working every single day in Georgia, but we’re gonna make it happen."

So if he's got bags under his eyes, cut him some slack. Yeah, he'll be six years older than you remember him from the first season, but he's gonna be wicked-tired, too.

Oceanic Airlines promo for Lost's new season



Of course the tough part of this is, if they've got such a good flying record, what about the globally renowned crash of Oceanic 815? Hmm, would this suggest that it didn't happen, then?

Last Supper Image
Jeff Fahey (Frank Lapidus) explains what he knows about that promo image. He basically says that the images were taken individually, and then composited into the images that were released. Fahey goes on to raise awareness for a cause of his.

Odd news 9

This time around, we've got some odd news indeed. It's all weird, but be sure to click on the two videos. The one of the kid who doesn't like his mom is cute - and the one of the snowball isn't ugly, but it is stupid. You'll like it. And read about a new zombie movie that's being set in Ontario!

Deniers claim Loch Ness Monster is alive!

The head of the Loch Ness monster fan club has hit back at claims the mythical creature may have become extinct.

Gary Campbell has dismissed suggestions by a US documentary that the monster’s corpse could be lying at the bottom of the loch after dying sometime in the last few years.

Mr Campbell, chief of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, insists there was one "credible" sighting of the monster in June last year.

But he admits sightings are becoming increasingly rare.

"If it hadn't been for that [sighting], we would have been really, really worried,” Mr Campbell told Britain's Telegraph newspaper.

"There is an embarrassment factor to seeing Nessie — the first thing people say to you is, 'Had you had a drink?’”

He said the June sighting was trustworthy because it came from a local fisherman familiar with the loch's quirks.

Less loch-savvy people sometimes confused boat wakes or even seals with the monster, he said.

Time for some funny/cute videos

Stupid kid gets smashed by a snowball
and
Little kid doesn't like his mum when she doesn't give him cookies

Zombie idea gets a terrifying new twist
Will Pfeifer of the GateHouse News Service says:
I’ve seen a lot of zombie movies in my lifetime, everything from the slow-moving, black-and-white horrors of 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” to the fast-paced, full-color thrills of last year’s “Zombieland.” So when I see a zombie flick that puts a new twist on the genre, I sit up and take notice. 'Pontypool' is worth sitting up for,"
He continues:
Set in a radio station in Pontypool, Ontario, [cool!] the movie watches DJ Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), his producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) and technician Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly) deal with an increasingly chaotic situation outside the building. They’re not sure exactly what’s happening, but the reports are not good: wandering “herds” of people, bodies being torn apart, survivors missing limbs and, most unnerving, seemingly sane folks who get stuck repeating one word or phrase and then become ... something else.
And there's a secret to the film, a kicker twist that makes it all worth while. Sounds very interesting!

Along the lines of zombies,
In the earthquake stricken Haiti, ChattahBox.com suggests that Voodoo priests are actually fearing zombies returning from the dead.
The head Voodoo priest of Haiti is sickened by the desecration of dead bodies, as they are unceremoniously collected off of the city streets and hurled into mass graves. In a nation where many people practice Voodoo, the supernatural prospect of Zombies rising from the mass graves to prey on the living, is a real fear.
This doesn't seem like a very nice thing to suggest of such a poor and crippled nation.

Highlights from comics 9

Cyanide and Happiness

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal




SMBC Theater

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes


Watched the Golden Globes last night, and was really looking forward to Ricky Gervais's hosting. I've absolutely enjoyed his The Office, and the few episodes of Extras were also wonderful. He always plays an overly self-confident character, whose character flaw becomes his hubris, leading to his tragic demise (in The Office) and likely in Extras, too - but I haven't watched enough of it to make such an assertion.

Anyhow - he started off the show with some outstanding material. His jokes about the plastic surgeries and 24 were bang-on. I was laughing all the way through. He only had a few moments in the spot light, unfortunately. While some of his material might have been viewed as tasteless, at least he had the ca-hones to say it right to the faces of the stars about him.

Specifically, his stuff at Paul McCartney and Mel Gibson were the funniest things I've ever heard, especially considering Paul McCartney was on screen listening to the joke, defenseless. He looked almost naked with shock. And Mel Gibson, well, he took it as nicely as he could have. It was low-brown, but hilarious.

Even when he wasn't making fun of the celebrities about him, he was making light of the fact that they're basically useless meat-sacks that make their living pretending to be people of importance. When introducing Jennifer Anniston and Gerard Butler, he didn't even use their names, just "Rachel from Friends and that bloke from 300." Immensley enjoyable - the same disregard for celebrity that you know and love from South Park, except this is right at the Golden Globes, right in their own faces. I really enjoyed that.

Ricky's joke at McCartney's expense prompted Tom Hanks to come out and admit, hey, you've got to have a sense of humour. But it was A+ material. My only regret is that he really only outed McCartney and Gibson - who else did he take shots at? I felt toward the end that the producers were keeping him off stage - after the Gibson gag, he was hardly on the air. And his last bit seemed contrived, like he was instructed to stop telling jokes and just move the show from presenter to presenter. He pulled punches for Mickey Rourke (which I'm sure he wasn't planning) and then wound the show up with the ol' Steve Martin joke: If I could only have one wish segment.

Dumb-ass Brian Logan (who doesn't like Ricky Gervais?) didn't like his performance. He was upset that there weren't more anti-Semitic jokes about Mel Gibson?
Joking about Mel Gibson's drinking is one thing – but off the leash, ­Gervais would surely make hay with Gibson's anti-Semitism too.That, alas, is never going to happen at an event as stage-managed as the Globes – nor from a man as palpably delighted to be a Hollywood insider as Gervais. Yet there were at least glimpses of Gervais at his gadfly best.
"Alas," I stand by "dumb-ass."

Gervais' jokes fall flat:
[I]n mocking the glitterati of Hollywood's glamour stars, NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Gervais simply "bit the hand that feeds him", wrote the New York Daily News.

"When will he learn that his spoof self-absorption is as obnoxious as the real thing?" the Guardian asked.

"In future, Gervais should stick to poking fun at these sorts of events from the sidelines rather than being an official spokesman," blogged one Telegraph writer.

These people are absolutely mistaken. Hollywood stars lining up to be praised in front of one another is absolutely ridiculous. The most sincere speech I heard all night was from Meryl Streep who knows exactly what she's talking about when she said (and I paraphrase): I'm just a conduit that helps tell the stories of amazing women, this does not make me an amazing woman. This realization in fact does make her an amazing person, I would argue, and more worthy of praise than the bunch of them. [Matt Damon, cough, and his stupid anti-dinosaur rant during the 2009 Presidential Election is a great example of dumb celebs stepping over the line of being actually important vs. thinking that they're important].
Canada's National Post praised him for "hitting the ground running" but lamented his lack of stage-time.
I agree - I wanted more Ricky the whole time. Not nearly enough jokes embarrassing the stars in attendance. There was a great joke about Angelina Jolie adopting African children (mistakenly called "Asian") that was well done.

The most classic moments were when he knew his jokes were of particularly poor taste, when he'd cover his mouth and grin, knowing full well he shouldn't say what he was about to say, and then said it. Cheeky, would be the best word for it.

I liked it. Bring him back next year, give him more air time, and put more celebrities in the line of fire!

What the Hell is Wrong with Windsor? 7

Lock your doors and watch yourself on the streets:
Police arrest man after botched burglary attempt and high-speed car crash
Two men broke into a young family's household (waking up their three-year-old) and then escaped in a high speed car escape through the streets of Windsor. Not safe.

A 30-year-old Windsor man is in custody after a botched break-in resulted in him behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle that crashed into a pole.

“This was a violent crash at a high rate of speed,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Langlois of the investigations division. “Our officers are estimating the speed to be 140 km/h at impact, or close to it. The individual was lucky not to have been killed — or (to have killed) anyone else.”

...

The vehicle went out of control a few blocks away and collided with a pole at the intersection of Vimy and Parkwood Avenue.

The driver attempted to flee on foot, but he was quickly subdued by officers.

The suspect was taken to hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries suffered in the crash, then taken into custody.

Langlois described the accused as “well known to police.”

Langlois said the victims have no connection with the accused and their residence was apparently chosen at random for break-and-enter.

“They’re very shaken up over the incident," he said.

Scary stuff - I wonder if the police overestimated when they said that the suspect crashed at 140km/h. That's insane.

Windsor Stuck with Lear Steel Eyesore
Developer Farhi says waste heaps will be cleared soon

We spoke in the last installment of What the hell is wrong with Windsor? we talked a bit about how it isn't always a great idea to have one guy own all the land in the downtown area. Well, here's an example of how they can basically do what they want. [and frankly, in my opinion, good for them. don't let anyone tell you what to]

There's apparently little Windsor can do for now about forcing the removal of the huge piles of twisted scrap steel next door to the WFCU Centre. City officials and councillors have fielded complaints about the unsightly mountains of iron girder and cladding -- the remains of the former Lear plant on Lauzon Road.

[...]

The one-year stipulation exists under the building code, but Lee Anne Doyle, the city's chief building official, said the clock didn't start until the demolition work ceased on Oct. 22, 2009, leaving 7,000 tons in scrap.

Doyle said the owner of the property, London developer Shmuel Farhi, has told the city he's eager to clean up the property but that steel prices tanked over the past year as a result of the global recession.

Doyle said Farhi has nevertheless indicated he'll be moving the waste heaps soon.

"We're hoping for the spring, but we can't legally move until the one-year deadline," Doyle told city council this month.

Farhi acquired the 100-acre Lear property in 2005 for $8 million. In the fall of 2006 he traded 40 acres of land behind the Lear plant to the city for its new arena, in exchange for a prime 1.1-acre site west of the Art Gallery of Windsor plus $1.5 million in cash.
Police warn of lug-nut vandals
It's not just thievery that is inspiring criminals in the area - instead, some clowns are actually loosening parts off of shopper's cars by the outlet mall. Unreal.
LaSalle police are warning residents in the area of Windsor Crossing Outlet Mall and the Heritage Estates subdivision to check their vehicles for loose wheels. Police say several vehicles in the area of Huron Church Road and Sandwich West Parkway had their lug nuts loosened or removed Thursday between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.Police are seeking two suspects.
Students campaign against college strike
Lost semester feared
College students are rightly scared that there is going to be a big strike - although I don't think college profs make as much money as the profs at the UofW, and likely can't afford to hold out for too long.
St. Clair College students and others across the province fearing a faculty strike are taking to the Internet to try to prevent a work stoppage like the one that threatened semesters in 2006.

"Students are concerned, obviously, with all the threat of the possibility of a strike looming in the air and students clearly are wondering what is going on and what is happening," said Justin Fox, the president of the St. Clair College Student Representative Council.

Faculty at community colleges went on strike for 21 days in March 2006 and had the strike lasted much longer the second semester could have been threatened.

It's our hope that both sides will go back to the table since this is kind of a special year. St. Clair has over 1,000 Second Career students here at our campus, the largest in the province, so there are a lot of questions for them as to what is going to happen with their funding and their education as well.

"In contrast to the 2006 strike, this year students are trying to set the agenda ahead of time using online networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, both of which were in their infancy four years ago. [I don't think Facebook is going to get teacher's a raise. Also, in this whole article, all the reporter did was talk to Justin Fox? Fox doesn't even represent anyone on either side of the bargaining table - weird?]

Still no deal, 6 months after city strike ended

Speaking of strikes - would you believe that the paperwork from that 100+ day strike over the summer isn't done yet?

Six months after ratifying a new contract that ended a 101-day strike, city administrators and CUPE union leaders have yet to sign the agreement.

Both sides are refusing to sign because of disputes over what was agreed upon in the three-year deal.

“We still don’t have a signed collective agreement,” said Jean Fox, president of Local 543 which represents city inside workers. “We are at odds with what we negotiated back in July.

“The corporation — for lack of a better word — are reneging on what they agreed to at the bargaining table.”

Local 543 union leaders insist it was agreed that the city’s seasonal workers who tallied 750 hours on the job can apply for posted internal full-time jobs as they become available, Fox said.

But city administrators have disputed that was part of the final agreement and say the number is 1,250 hours, she said.

It has never taken longer than four months to get the union and the city to sign off on a contract during her 30 years with the city, Fox said.

“You might have one unresolved issue, then once it’s resolved then everything is fine,” she said.

If the two sides can’t agree an arbitrator may soon be called on to resolve the dispute, Fox said.

“The way I and the negotiation team interpret this is one way and the way the corporation looks at it is another way,” she said.

“This is huge for the seasonal employees. You have lifeguards who have worked for the corporation for six years and many are university students or have degrees. All they are asking for is a better opportunity to apply from the inside.”

CUPE Local 82 president Jim Wood, representing outside workers, has also refused to sign off until he is assured three part-time workers are eligible for post-retirement benefits.

Under the contract lifetime benefits for all future employees starting the date the contract was ratified will no longer receive post-retirement benefits.

Wood said it was agreed during negotiations that the three workers — who work in municipal arenas and community centres — be included on the list of of those receiving post-retirement benefits should they be hired for full-time jobs.

“It’s pretty well done for us, except as far as these part-timers,” Wood said.

City administrators, including CAO Helga Reidel, who was lead negotiator for the city, could not be reached for comment.

With the exception of the issues in dispute, the terms of the new contract — including pay increases — are in effect.

Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. said city council has not been made aware the deal has not yet been signed.

“It should absolutely be signed and it’s ridiculous it’s not,” he said.

“After collective agreements are reached, it’s normal there is a small window where you need time to get everything in print and signed off, but certainly it doesn’t make sense six months later it’s not signed.”

Spectacular Mountain could be made from all Windsor's fill

Well, it will be interesting to see if one big pile of garbage wants another big pile of garbage in it, to make it look better.
WINDSOR, Ont. -- Does Windsor want a mountain? With a record number of big construction projects about to begin, as well as with the dig of all digs — the Windsor-Essex Parkway — looming on the horizon, a big question is what to do with all the surplus dirt that will be generated. “We could create something pretty spectacular … look at what we have at Malden Park,” said Don Sadler, the city’s executive director of parks and facility operations.

The $60-million retention basin project about to get underway east of the downtown will alone require the removal of about 24,000 cubic metres of dirt for a football field-sized basin.

“There’s going to be a substantial amount of fill generated in Windsor over the next three to four years. The need for a home will be in high demand,” said Sadler.

[C]ity staff are already scrambling with what to do once the dirt starts flying. “It’s safe to say those plans and discussions will become a high priority … it already is a high priority,” said Sadler.

City hopes lofts bring life to core

Bentley's Roadhouse is set to become site of loft apartments?
A downtown Windsor building that has sat vacant for two years is slated to be transformed into loft-style apartments. Formerly home to Bentley's Roadhouse, the building at 747-757 Ouellette Ave. will be renovated into 16 one-bedroom apartments geared to residents with low incomes."

It's pretty much an eyesore right now," said owner Mike Soleski. "It'll be more urban, modern-looking and contemporary."City council approved a zoning change for the property Monday night, allowing the ground floor of the building to be used for residences and the Pelissier Street end of the property to house a laundromat. Other plans for the building include a rooftop terrace for residents.

[If you really want to stimulate the downtown economy, why would you put in low-income housing, one-bedroom apartments? Many low-incomers have small families they can't afford to house - this doesn't seem to really help them, does it?]

Coun. Ron Jones said he hopes the project will breathe new life into a downtown core full of empty storefronts with for sale signs in the windows. [and replace them with people who have no money, and likely bad jobs, hence their Low-income status - great strategy - they'll really brighten up the downtown core]

"We've been looking for diversity in the downtown area, and I think this is a creative way to bring people to the core."[It's awfully creative if you think people with no disposable income are going to help - ... I guess I'm a little off-base here. Unless you're bringing more jobs downtown for these low-income people to work at, it's not really helping anyone]

Soleski said Windsor's entertainment hotspot is moving north to the area of Park Street and University Avenue. He hopes to see the area surrounding the new apartment building -- which is between Tuscarora Street and Elliott Street -- become a residential hub. [Okay, but there still have to be more jobs down there]

The CMHC's most recent housing survey, conducted in October 2009, shows Windsor's vacancy rate for one-bedroom apartments was 12.2 per cent, with 872 of the city's 7,154 one-bedroom apartments sitting empty. While that vacancy rate has fallen over the past year, it's still three times as high as almost all other census metropolitan areas in the province. The average price of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Windsor is $622 per month, the second lowest rate among Ontario's census metropolitan areas.

But the city's high vacancy rate and relatively low rental price don't mean the new units aren't needed, said CMHC spokeswoman Judy Binder. She said there's a long waiting list of residents who need low-income housing. Rent in the new apartments will be fixed at $650 -- including utilities -- for 15 years. The $400,000 loan to the project developers will earn forgiveness over those 15 years as long as the building's owners don't increase the rental price.

Girl fondled in store, cops say

A 45-year-old man is behind bars after he allegedly stalked a young girl around a west side grocery store Monday before grabbing her backside and giving her a wink.

Officers went to the store in the 700 block of Crawford Avenue around 4:30 p.m. after a woman told the manager that a man had grabbed her 14-year-old daughter's buttocks.

Police said the man crouched down next to the girl as if he was looking at something on a low shelf. As he bent down, he also reached up, grabbed her buttocks and winked at her.

The startled girl immediately fled from the aisle and told her mother. The store manager held the suspect until police arrived.

Daniel Joseph Chauvin, 45, of Windsor, is charged with sexual assault.

400 builder denies wrongdoing

If you were wondering what made people upset with the 400 building audit, this is it, basically. There was a tendering process that was not honored, and someone should be held responsible for that (no, not the contractors). Without any edits, you can read it all here.

Why did three city councillors give Vindella Enterprises an opportunity to fix its bid after a deadline passed to submit proposals for the construction of 400 City Hall Square?

"We never knew why they did what they did," said former city auditor Mike Dunbar, whose early findings triggered a more intensive report of the project. "This report is clear on what they did, but not clear on why they did it.

"That was one of big questions we had in our report and it's still not answered."

But the owner and operator of Vindella Enterprises and Oscar Construction, said he did nothing wrong to win the bid to build the $32.5-million 400 City Hall Square building.

"The only thing we did wrong was give a lower price," Vince Balsamo said. "That's the only mistake we did.

"We did a beautiful job, built it on time and I'm not ashamed we did it. Nothing illegal was done. Everything was in the open."

Vindella and Oscar have been thrown into the spotlight after an audit revealed that city councillors and staff violated municipal bylaws in 2002 and 2003 to award Balsamo's firms the project despite an RFP process that gave another construction firm higher marks.

Three councillors -- Fulvio Valentinis, Peter Carlesimo and Charlie Hotham -- who sat on the selection committee breached rules when Vindella was encouraged to amend its bid after the deadline, the report said.

Audit committee member Coun. Alan Halberstadt is curious about the reasons behind the committee's actions.

"Obviously, their story is they were looking for the lowest price, but the audit has different conclusions," he said.

"Yeah, it was lower, but a lot of components entered into it and they went into negotiations with a non-compliant bidder."

Vindella had a non-compliant proposal that should have eliminated the company from consideration, according to the city audit. The company's amended bid proved to be the winner, edging out EllisDon Construction.

"The councillors on the selection committee acted as if they believed that they could, individually, do whatever they wanted in selecting the successful proponent, including ignoring the result of applying the matrix table and applying different criteria," Toronto lawyer Andrew Roman wrote in the audit report.

The three members of the committee disagreed -- with one insisting their actions were "heroic" because they were able to save taxpayers $2 million.

"If you are going to judge the committee it has to be on the mandate we were given," Carlesimo said. "The key consideration was cost. We were heroic in carrying out that task.

"Nearly $2.5 million was saved."

The committee's mandate was to bring back the best deal for taxpayers, Hotham added.

"The lawyer (Roman) is hanging his hat on a matrix," he said. "There was a matrix and he said EllisDon scored higher. Absolutely they did. But nowhere in the documents or mandate of the steering committee did it ever say make a decision based on the matrix. Show me wording that says that.

"My mandate was clear and concise -- bring back the best deal for the city."

Allegations Vindella received favouritism or preferred treatment in the bidding process especially angered Hotham.

"We met with Vindella as many times as EllisDon and EllisDon as many times as Vindella," he said.

"They each had every opportunity to answer the same questions. In the end, Vindella brought back to us a deal $2 million less than the other proponent."

EllisDon said last week that the company will consider legal action against the city -- which maintains the time limitation for such action has expired.

Meanwhile, Halberstadt disputes his former colleagues' arguments they saved taxpayers' money. Vindella's original design was smaller than the one that was eventually constructed, which ultimately cost an additional $7.6 million.

"What upsets me is (Carlesimo) hailing himself a hero for saving $2.3 million," Halberstadt said. "But that's not true. He is going on the bid for a smaller building."

Once several council-approved additions were thrown in, the final price jumped from $24.9 million to $32.5 million.

"Obviously favouritism was shown to Vindella for whatever reasons," Halberstadt said. "Again, I have no idea what conversations took place between them and the proponent. It's not part of what showed up on the audit. Those are questions left unanswered."

Balsamo is listed as co-director of Vindella with Della Pellarin, according to a corporate search obtained by The Star. He described it as the management company for his holdings.

He is also listed as co-director for Oscar with Maria Balsamo. Other officers of that company include Domenic Lapico, Antonio Lapico, Stephania Lapico, Alathattuparambil Razak and Aysha Razak.

Confusion around requirements and expectations of the 400 project were "unbelievable," making it difficult to complete a proposal, Balsamo said.

Nevertheless, his company's bid was strong enough to make the first stage shortlist of six, then pass the second stage down to two companies. From there, both Vindella and EllisDon had a fair shot at making their pitch and received equal treatment from the city, he said.

He contradicts audit findings by saying there never was a second or new amended proposal, just information added to the original proposal at the request of the city -- done by fax or email, Balsamo said.

Balsamo said he has frequent conversations with councillors about projects.

"It's a small city, I talk to everybody, all the councillors," he said.

"I know Eddie (Francis) very well, too. Did I talk (to the three councillors) directly about the project? No. The decision was made by the full council. Those three councillors, they just provided advice and the full council then made the decision."

Canwest papers up for sell

Scary situation if you're in the publishing industry - or are looking to start a career with the print media. And yes, Canwest owns the Windsor Star.
The country's largest chain of newspapers, held by Canwest Global Communications Corp., has been placed under creditor protection and will be put up for sale next week by senior lenders led by a consortium of five Canadian banks.

Following court approval Friday, Canwest Limited Partnership's secured lenders -- which together hold $953 million in debt -- will solicit offers for the publishing division, which includes the National Post, 10 major city dailies including the Victoria Times Colonist, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, The Windsor Star, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.

The unit also owns 26 community newspapers, as well as associated online and mobile properties.The voluntary filing and protection granted Friday under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act will allow the publishing group, known as LP, to operate as usual but provide debt relief while it continues to work on a recapitalization plan.

The entire publishing division is being put on the block. "After due diligence, it was determined there is value in acquiring the whole of Canwest LP's business, given the operating synergies that can be realized from a national chain of newspapers and online businesses,'' said Ann DeRabbie, spokesperson for the agent bank for Canwest LP senior secured lenders.

DeRabbie confirmed "There is no interest in day-to-day management from the ... lending group."Bids will be accepted for seven weeks before they are stacked up against an undisclosed but anticipated bank target of $950 million to $1.1 billion, which is based on the going rate for newspapers multiplied by their earnings. The bids will then be whittled down to a handful of finalists for a second seven-week round of competition.If a superior offer to the target doesn't emerge, the bank-led group of lenders has proposed transferring the newspapers' assets into a separate, independent company.
2000-2010: Windsor's decade that was

WINDSOR, Ont. -- It was a decade of upheaval, but also of success.

The first 10 years of the new millennium brought some difficult times for Windsor: terrorists sabotaged cross-border travel, a car industry imploded during what some call the Great Recession, and war in a far-away land claimed too many Canadian lives.

Yet despite serious setbacks, and some high-profile deaths, Windsor managed to make its mark on history — and in a good way.

In fact, with grand openings and grand parties, Windsor even managed to have some fun along the way.

So as 2009 draws to a close, here’s a quick look back at the top Windsor news stories of the past decade.

9/11

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States made headlines around the world — 2,973 victims and 19 hijackers died when planes flew into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania.

As a result, the U.S. launched the war on terrorism — invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, and enacting the USA Patriot Act.

Windsor in particular was affected by the fallout — tighter border security and passport requirements cut tourism almost by half in this border town. At its peak in 2000, nine million visitors came to Windsor, though annual tourism has now dropped to less than five million.

John Atkinson

Const. John Atkinson, 37, was shot in the face May 5, 2006, when he approached two teenagers carrying out a drug deal in the parking lot of an east side Mac's convenience store. It was the first shooting of a Windsor police officer in the service’s 120-year history.

Nikkolas Brennan is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. It shocked and saddened this community and opened the eyes of many to the growing scourge of guns and drugs in this city. It also changed the Windsor Police Service forever.

“The was probably the most powerful event that happened to this organization in my time,” said Deputy Chief Jerome Brannagan. “It was a very difficult way to reinforce how fragile life is.”

Plant closings

The auto industry meltdown hit Windsor harshly and helped make the city’s unemplyment rate the highest in the country, peaking around 15 per cent. The auto industry as a whole in Canada has lost more than 74,000 jobs since 2000, most of them in the last 18 months. The parts sector was hardest hit. Canada now has only 40,000 parts jobs, compared to the peak of 100,000 a decade ago.

Windsor alone has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs, most auto-related. By next summer, GM is scheduled to leave Windsor completely.

The good news is the auto industry seems to be stabilizing, Chrysler’s assembly plant is expected to run on three full shifts for the foreseeable future and Ford’s Essex engine plant starting Feb. 1 will begin assembling a new five-litre V8 engine for the Mustang GT and possibly the automaker’s best-selling vehicle, the F-150 pickup.

Border crossing

The biggest road project in Canadian history has taken much of the decade to plan, but preliminary work for the $1.6 billion Windsor-Essex Parkway finally started earlier this month. Full construction starts in 2011.

From the 401 on the Canadian side to Interstate 75 on the U.S. side, the whole project — which will include a new bridge — should cost roughly $5 billion. Some 12,000 jobs are expected to be created.

Cpl. Andrew Grenon

On Sept. 3, 2008, Cpl. Andrew Grenon, 23, became Windsor’s first soldier killed while serving with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. An insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan claimed Grenon, as well as fellow Princess Patricia’s Light Infantrymen Cpl. Mike Seggie, 21, of Winnipeg, and Pte. Chad Horn, 21, of Calgary. Five other Canadian soldiers were injured. Thus far, 138 Canadian soldiers have died since 2002 in the war in Afghanistan.

Thousands of people lined the route that Grenon’s casket took on Sept. 12 as the hearse made its way to Our Lady of the Atonement Church for the funeral of the fallen hero.

Spitfires

The Windsor Spitfires defied the odds on May 24, 2009, to capture their first Memorial Cup title in the franchise's 34-year history.

They beat the Kelowna Rockets 4-1 in Rimouski, Que., becoming the first team to win Canada's national junior championship after losing the first two games of the round-robin tournament.

Windsor-born captain Harry Young was the first to raise the Cup after receiving the trophy from CHL commissioner Dave Branch.

Mickey Renaud

The city was saddened when popular Windsor Spitfires captain Mickey Renaud died at his Tecumseh home Feb. 18, 2008, from the rare heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The 19-year-old athlete was a fifth round draft pick for the Calgary Flames. His No. 18 jersey was retired and now hangs at the WFCU Centre. Mickey Renaud Way leads into the facility.

WFCU Centre

The plan to seal the arena deal was kicked into high gear after languishing for decades when, in September 2006, Windsor was blindsided by the announcement that Tecumseh was building its own Ice Track.

But after the community discussed a new arena for half a century, the Spitfires finally played their first game at the $72-million, 6,500-seat WFCU Centre on Dec. 11, 2008.

Caesars Windsor expansion

After three years of construction, the new $439-million expansion of Caesars Windsor changed the local skyline, with the 5,000-seat Colosseum, convention centre, and 27-floor, 269-room Augustus Tower.

The $2.3-million gala opening with 5,000 invited guests and a performance by Billy Joel set the stage for things to come. Though business has dropped at the Windsor gaming hall, the fancy new facility has attracted a number of big-name acts, including Jay Leno and Celine Dion, likely the biggest entertainer ever to perform in Windsor.

CUPE strike

A 101-day strike by 1,800 city workers became one of the most divisive issues in recent memory in Windsor.

About 400 outside workers belonging to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, without a contract since Dec. 31, went on strike April 15, 2009. About 1,400 inside CUPE workers followed on April 18.

Tension rose throughout the summer, as parks went unmowed and trash uncollected. A “near-riot” erupted at a CUPE vote at the Caboto Club on July 16 after the city sent managers there with leaflets. Workers resoundingly rejected the offer.

But CUPE members later ratified a deal, giving up post-retirement benefits for new hires but receiving a $2,000 signing bonus and a 6.3 per cent wage hike over four years.

Losing the Norwich block

The city has so far paid almost $24 million to business owners and tenants of the former Norwich Block. Four business owners have yet to settle.

The Norwich Block, which was the oldest mercantile block in Windsor at the time, was razed to make way for the Canderel-built building at Ouellette and Riverside West. Most Norwich Block claims were settled in 2004, when the city offered a 25 per cent premium on assessed values.

One Riverside Drive West, also known as the Chrysler building since it houses the automaker’s Canadian headquarters, remains partly vacant. Its first tenants arrived in August 2002.

MFP scandal

It was the biggest financial scandal in Windsor's history. Taxpayers were fleeced out of hundreds of millions of dollars in overpayments on lease agreements for everything from fire trucks and communications equipment to computers and the regional landfill.

After The Windsor Star broke the story, there was a massive investigation of the city’s finance department, the firing of two senior officials and a $305-million lawsuit against MFP.

Jesse Imeson

Former Amherstburg resident Jesse Imeson became a triple-murderer at the age of 22 in July 2007 and was the subject of a nationwide manhunt, profiled by U.S. television show America’s Most Wanted.

His killing spree started with the murder of architecture student Carlos Rivera, 26, who was found strangled in Imeson’s Windsor flat July 19, 2007.

While on the run, Imeson went on to kill Bill Regier, 72, and his wife Helene, 73, in their Mount Carmel home.

Imeson was arrested without a fight in Portage-du-Fort, Que., on the evening of July 31. He pled guilty to three counts of second degree murder on Oct. 27, 2008, and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Charles Sylvestre

For four decades, the late priest Charles Sylvestre sexually abused young girls in his parishes.

Sylvestre pleaded guilty Aug. 4, 2006, to sexually assaulting 47 girls over nearly 40 years in Chatham, Pain Court, Sarnia, London and Windsor. By February 2007, nearly 60 women had told Chatham-Kent police their stories of abuse at the hands of Sylvestre.

It was also discovered that church officials knew of the abuse and did nothing. Bishop Ronald Fabbro later publicly apologized on behalf of the Catholic church.

Sylvestre, 84, died Jan. 22, 2007, at Kingston Penitentiary, after serving less than four months of his three-year sentence.

Academic upgrades

The first 24 students of the University of WIndsor’s $15-million medical school began classes Sept. 3, 2008.

The province later announced $4 million more to finish the empty third floor. But something is already amiss at the Windsor school, part of the University of Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, given that its two top leaders, associate dean Dr. Tom Scott, and assistant dean Dr. Raphael Cheung resigned this month.

Meanwhile, the University of Windsor also built the $18-million Anthony P. Toldo Health Education Centre, which houses nursing faculty, in 2003. As well, the school announced plans to build a new 300,000-square-foot, $112-million Centre for Engineering Innovation.

St. Clair College also opened new facilities, with a new downtown campus that opened in 2007, the $33-million Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing which opened in 2003, and the $9-million Centre for Construction, Innovation and Production which officially opened in November. And it announced plans to build a $5 million mediaplex in the old Salvation Army building downtown.

Super sports

Windsor teamed up with Detroit as a sort of secondary host on a number of high-profile sporting events over the last decade, bringing special parties to the city, such as: the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Comerica Park July 12, 2005; Super Bowl XL at Ford Field on Feb. 5, 2006; WrestleMania 23 at Ford Field April 1, 2007; the Final Four April 6, 2009; the annual Belle Isle IndyCar Grand Prix; and two years in row of the Red Bull Air Races, which this year was based in Windsor.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Leafs this week [happy new year]

Man - the Leafs have not played well this week, right? This was one of their busiest weeks of the year, and they lost way too many games to remain competitive in the conference and the league. They lost to Calgary, then beat Florida, and have been on a three-game losing streak to finish the week. Dropping that many points all at once really hurts their chances (but, frankly, their entire season has been hurting their chances).

Weekly scoring statistics

When the entire team struggles this much, there's not much to find that's positive. This is especially hard to swallow, considering how poor their week was the week before, as well. very disparaging.

Top Leafs this week:

1) Matt Stajan gets ranked No. 1 for playing at a point-per-game level and a plus two rating, even though he only managed four shots on goal in those four games. Though he only had one goal, he had three assists. And a plus-two rating while the Leafs lost four games is pretty good.

2) Nik Kulemin last week I said I didn't see what the big fuss over Kulemin was - this week, he was up on the first line and fared very well. A goal and two assists, a plus-four rating (highest on the team) and 12 shots on goal. Pretty good. He even got his bell wrung real good against Philadelphia but stuck in there. Whether he's a first-liner on any other team in the league doesn't matter too much. He did well with what he was given and played well for a rookie.

3) Lee Stempniak had a goal and two assists, an even plus/minus rating and 10 shots on net, which made for a good week for him, as well.

Notable(s) - good: I want to give honorable mention to Tomas Kaberle and Luke Schenn, who both made offensive contributions, were reliable defensivly and kept their acts together.

Bad: First off, Phil Kessel fired 24 shots over the week, way ahead of everyone else on the team, but was absolutely pointless and rated at a minus-two. He's streaking in the worst way possible - and even the head coach is looking for him to rebound so the team can gain inspiration from his play. The goaltending was hung out to dry and they struggled. It would appear that Coach Wilson still doesn't really trust Toskala in net anymore - too bad for Vesa. It seems that Wilson only wants to use Vesa when there are back-to-back games so Jonas Gustavsson doesn't get worn out.

Where do they stand now?

As of today (January 10) they are last in their division still, now 9 points behind the Canadiens (they lost another point this week, even though they have a game at hand over the Habs). Over the past 10 games the Leafs are 2-6-2, indicative of their weak week. They're still in second-last place in the conference, three points behind Tampa, four points behind Florida and five points behind Atlanta - yet are still 8 points up on Carolina (who is really struggling this year). Past the half-way point in the season, nine points back of a playoff spot with six teams between them and 8th place, means they're positively unable to climb back into the playoff picture, unfortunately. In fact, there was only a brief glimpse of them being able to get in, but now that glimpse has faded. They are only one point between the Leafs and the Oilers, and they're fighting it out for the bottom three spots of the entire NHL. The Leafs haven't been this bad in a long, long time. It's remarkable after all the changes that Burke made over the summer that they are as weak as they are.

- - - - -

Leafs vs. Flames (lose 3-1)

The whole tough week for the Leafs started against the Flames on Hockey Night in Canada. One of the Leafs' signature moves this year has been getting scored on repeatedly, very fast. Once one goal goes in, pay close attention, 'cause they're more apt to suddenly score again, than at any other point in a game.

The Flames scored twice in 52 seconds midway through the second period to overcome an early deficit on the way to a 3-1 win over the Leafs before the usual sellout crowd of 19,289 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Flames (24-12-5) have won four straight, including three in a row at the Saddledome, where they're now 12-7-2. The Leafs (14-19-9), meanwhile, have dropped five of six and seven of their past nine.

"Yeah, that's what our game plan was. I think we got off to a pretty good start, and I think defensively in the first, we didn't give up too much. We played solid, we were physical, we got in on the forecheck," Toronto defenseman Francois Beauchemin said.

"(Calgary's) two quick goals changed things really fast. We tried to stay with it, but we couldn't really generate much offense. You've got to give them credit too. They were getting in the shooting lanes a lot, putting sticks on pucks, and (Miikka) Kiprusoff made some key saves at the end there."

"Those things happen. You've got to give credit to the Flames. They played pretty well," said Wilson, whose team remains mired in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. "We had some great scoring opportunities, we just didn't find the net. And Kipper made a lot of good saves when he needed to."

Leafs vs. Penguins (lose 4-1)

Sergei Gonchar scored two goals during a strange 3-minute sequence that also saw a Maple Leafs penalty shot wiped out as the Penguins beat Toronto 4-1 on Saturday night. It was just the second victory in eight games for the Stanley Cup champions.

"That was kind of a game-changer for sure with the way things happened," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We certainly built off that and from there on in, I thought we carried the play."

Wilson ripped into his team earlier this week, but had no complaints after this one.

"It was our fourth game in five nights, and they came in rested," he said. "There was nothing wrong with our effort, I was happy with our energy level. The players emptied the tank, they gave it all they had on the ice."

NOTES: Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek missed his third straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... Pittsburgh defesceman Brooks Orpik left midway through the game with an undisclosed injury. ... Crosby has 12 goals and 30 points in 19 career games against the Maple Leafs.

Leafs vs. Sabres (lose 3-2)

The Sabres's goalie, Ryan Miller, is an all-star goalie all of the time, but he never looks better than when he's playing against the Maple Leafs. Add the outstanding play of the Sabre's rookie, Tyler Meyers, and they're on their way to beating the Leafs over and over and over.

The 19-year old defenseman scored two of Buffalo's three power-play goals and assisted on the other in the Sabres' 3-2 victory over Toronto on Friday night -- their sixth win in a row overall and 10th consecutive victory over the Leafs.
Tim Kennedy had the Sabres' other goal and Ryan Miller made an early three-goal lead stand up with a career-high 48 saves.

Miller has been in goal for all 10 wins over the Leafs.

"I really don't like them. They're a rival and they're in our division," he said. "They constantly talk about how they're going to rough me up every night. I love nothing more than to get a win against them and send them an hour-and-a-half on their way."

In the season series, which only has an April 1 meeting in Toronto remaining, Miller has a goals-against average of 1.58 and a .960 save percentage.

Leafs get whipped by Philadelphia (lose 6-2)

Low-light of the week was the awful effort against the Flyers - when the Leafs got beat on the field and in the alley. Yeah, they might have had some takedowns, but basically, if you're beaten 6-2, get in a bunch of fights, and have the league's worst penalty kill, this really isn't an achievement to be proud of. Nothing good came of this game - even Kaberle's lucky effortless goal from the blue-line. And Philly was one of the worst teams heading into the New Year - they sure turned their game around (just in time to play Toronto).
Philadelphia improved to 5-1-1 in its lasts seven games with a 6-2 victory over the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. It was the Flyers' first home game since a 4-1 loss to Florida on Dec. 21 -- a defeat that dropped them to 2-10-1 in a 13-game slide that included the firing of coach John Stevens and the hiring of Peter Laviolette.

The Leafs came into the game with the NHL's poorest penalty-killing unit, and the Flyers made them pay with three goals in six tries during a game that featured 15:23 of power-play time, eight fighting majors and a pair of misconducts.

The Flyers scored on their first shot when Briere lifted a power-play goal over Jonas Gustavsson's right arm at 4:11 of the first period after Alexei Ponikarovsky was penalized for tripping Claude Giroux in Toronto's offensive zone. The goal came on the Flyers' first shot of the game after Toronto had outshot the Flyers 4-0 to that point.

Toronto coach Ron Wilson was upset with his team, which was unable to build on Tuesday's 3-2 win over Florida.

"I'm sure they'll say that but there's no excuse," he said when asked if his players might have been tired. "You come out, shot out of a cannon and they're on their heels and then we had a few guys didn't compete at the level that we need and the next thing you know it's 2-0.

Leafs vs. Panthers (win 3-2)

TORONTO (AP) -The busy Maple Leafs had very little time to celebrate a stirring comeback victory.

Alexei Ponikarovsky scored the winning goal and Jonas Gustavsson made 29 saves as Toronto rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Lee Stempniak and Tomas Kaberle also scored for the Maple Leafs, who have won only three of 10. Toronto began a stretch of four games in five days, and less than an hour after the win, the Maple Leafs headed to the airport.

Gustavsson was instrumental in preserving the victory. He turned aside a dangerous chance from Michael Frolik early in the third period and got his glove on Dennis Seidenberg's hard point shot that came through traffic.

"These are the games you want to play," Gustavsson said. "Tight games when everything can happen. I didn't know that we were going to win until the last second. It was a great relief."

The rookie goalie also got help as defenseman Francois Beauchemin dived to break up a 3-on-1 rush with under 3 minutes remaining.
NOTES: Toronto is 7-1-2 against Southeast Division teams. ... Maple Leafs D Mike Komisarek sat out due to an undisclosed upper body injury. ... Leafs forward Phil Kessel just one goal in nine games, and no assists in 11. ... The Panthers recalled tough guy Steve MacIntyre and put him in the lineup in place of Nick Tarnasky. ... Toronto's Jamal Mayers recorded his 100th NHL assist.

Dinosaur Round-up 9

It was a slow week for dinosaur news - I guess mining for fossils is more difficult in the winter? But research in the museums and papers published normally come out at any time, so ... there's not much of an excuse for the slow down. Man - dinosaurs are so cool. You think anything we do today will be talked about as much as dinosaurs are now, 100 million years from now? Dinosaurs are awesome.

Footprints show creatures moved from water to land earlier than thought

A reappraisal of ancient footprints discovered in Poland suggests that creatures emerged on to land from the sea much earlier than previously thought.

The tracks, believed to be the oldest footprints ever discovered, date to 395 million years ago, long before the emergence of dinosaurs. They are likely to have been left by a large crocodile-like creature.

Previously the earliest evidence for fully walking four-legged creatures, known as tetrapods, dated to 360 million years ago. The “fishapod” fossil Tiktaalik, the skeleton of which shows both fish and amphibian features, dates to about 375 million years ago.

[...]

The tracks suggest that they were left by a 2.5m (8ft) creature resembling a stout crocodile. However, unlike the modern-day crocodile, the ancient creature appears to have held its body up from the ground as there is no trace of it being dragged along. It may have been closer to a dog in terms of posture.

The tracks are in the Holy Cross Mountains in southeastern Poland, which 395 million years ago was a coastal region. Their discovery in rocks that teemed with marine fossils suggests that the first amphibians came out of the sea rather than freshwater marshes as had been widely assumed.

Awesome! Thanks Poland.

Top dinosaur news maker -

Of all the stories on the list, the so-called Paleocene dinosaurs have seen the most action in the academic world since the original story ran. The controversy the news riled up is not surprising. After all, claiming that large dinosaurs living in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico survived the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period is a huge claim. Though perhaps not for obvious reasons.

“There's no reason, in theory, why there couldn't be Paleocene dinosaurs,” says Spencer Lucas, Curator of Geology and Paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. “But we should be looking for them in China.”

Most paleontologists believe that an asteroid struck the off the eastern coast of Mexico 65 million years ago, an event that pushed the already declining dinosaurs towards extinction. The paleontological data of that era is strikingly clear: the earth shows a distinct change in rock and soil structure along a line known as the K-T boundary, a line that splits the Cretaceous period from the Paleocene, a split between the time of dinosaurs and the rise of mammals.

Dinosaurs on Maui? I'm pretty sure no - but ...
That doesn't mean you can't imagine one is there. I don't know how old the Islands are (they're from volcanic eruptions in the middle of the ocean) but I'm pretty sure that they're young enough to not contain any dinosaur bones.

So ... it's important to use your imagination to make dinosaurs come to life there - which some childrens author has done with the tale of rrReggie T-Rex's Vacation on Maui.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Extent | finale promo

Well, there's no new episode at the Extent's homepage this week - but there is a new promo that says we will have the three final episodes of the season all next week! There's no actual date on the promo - so I can only presume that we should have the final three episodes by Thursday evening at some point. Although this video stated that the next three episodes were actually to have all aired by yesterday - you can trust that this current video is far more accurate.



[No need to comment, the spellchecker actually was broken.]

Other Extent items:
There is a neat radio spot that I recorded that will be released some time (rerecorded with some hot chick's sultry voice instead of mine) - despite the praising reviews I've received for it (People's Choice Award for greatest audio recording by Ryan in 2009!). If you'd like to hear it, send me an email and I'll send you a copy.

I also put together a few images to serve as ads that were never posted up on the site. As I understand it, the audio recording will serve as a backdrop while a series of images are played in a video - and the ads I designed will be among the images in the video, I guess.

I also rewrote a scene for the finale - no word on whether it has been received, approved or incorporated into the final script or not. No word on whether it was filmed or not, either. And I guess we'll just have it on faith that the next episode is up and ready to go by the end of next week.

Until next time ...

Lost news 10

Only 27 more days until Lost gets going again! (unless Barack Obama fucks it all up)


Here's an interesting interview with Michael Emerson:
And yet, even though he's questioned himself about whether he is acting or not, Ben and Emerson are not entwined. "He [Ben] is not about humour. He has an ironical point of view sometimes. He's more childish than I am, but he's also more brilliant than I am. I don't know. I don't have so much-I think that I am more socially skilled than Ben. Ben doesn't really know how to be around people very easily or certainly not how to be around women."

Although Ben hasn't been a hit with the ladies (unlike Sawyer) Emerson won't dismiss the fact Ben could be romantically involved in the future.

"He obviously had complicated feelings about Juliet and other women has yet been unknown probably. We will see," he says. "But he is not very evolved personally, intellectually." However, in the same breath, Emerson offers a contrasting notion whilst sounding perturbed at the same time: "Now, what kind of a scene would that be? With whom?"
Last season is paralleled to the Last Supper

Biggest non-surprise? Check out who's playing the part of Jesus Christ -- none other than John Locke. The promo pic can be found in the latest issue of TV Guide and based on a quick glimpse, it's a safe bet that Lost junkies are gonna have a field day with it -- look at Sawyer leaning on Kate's chair! If you feel like snooping, there's a high-res version of the pic here.

In fact, there are two more better copies of the picture here.
Test your Lost Savvy
Well, if you've been to Oahu, which I have, there's a fun Online game that might be worth your while - and that's to see if you can identify the filming location for each scene (except for two out of over 100 hours of filming) of Lost. In particular, over the years, a real estate listing photographer, Ryan Ozawa, has been recording filming updates and locations all around the Island for years.

Ozawa has been to the set so many times, the crew knows him. Although sometimes he's been asked not to take a photo — and even if he is in a public place, he'll oblige the request — he's frequently allowed to stay and watch.

"When I leave my camera in my car, we're good buddies," he said. "When I have my camera around my neck, the game is on. But if there is anything I want to stress is that it is cordial. It is cat and mouse, but we are friendly."

The extensive location work makes "Lost" a visual treat to watch, in Ozawa's opinion; it may be television, but it has a "cinematic" feel, he said.

"It is fundamentally important," he said. "You can tell when something is shot on a soundstage, no matter how good the lighting is. There is something about an actual street. Real depth."

That's a cool job. I often find updates from him on the site I use for all my Lost scoops (or recaps), Darkufo.blogspot.com

John Locke and Ben Linus are named in the top 10 most memorable characters of the decade.

Locke is No. 7

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

At the start of Lost, John Locke is broken in every sense of the word – his parents abandoned, then betrayed him, he lost his one true love and he was confined to a wheelchair after being brutally attacked. When he crash landed on the island, he became the quintessential man of faith. He’s had a few moments of doubt, but his faith in the island remains strong. We have one season left to find out if his trust was ultimately in vain, but either way, it’s been an incredibly entertaining ride.

Ben was No. 3

“Of course, if I was one of them - these people that you seem to think are your enemies - what would I do? Well, there’d be no balloon, so I’d draw a map to a real secluded place like a cave or some underbrush - good place for a trap - an ambush. And when your friends got there a bunch of my people would be waiting for them. Then they’d use them to trade for me. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not one of them, huh? … You guys got any milk?”

Week after week, Michael Emerson puts on an acting clinic on Lost. It’s impossible to keep your eyes off of him. His slightest inflections and subtle gestures convey so much, adding a whole other dimension to the character. It also helps that the writers of Lost have given him so much to work with, making Ben such a rich and complex character.

Interview on the new season with the executive producers A great interview, a bunch of laughs to be had, and I think, though they are still very guarded about the content of the upcoming season, they are as honest and up-front with their answers as you're going to get. That's what I like about these two - they've got a great sense of humour and you can trust what they're saying.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO PITCH A NEW SHOW, ON ABC OR ELSEWHERE, FOR NEXT SEASON?

Lindelof: No. We don't. The world works in mysterious ways, but our full-time job for the last six years has been coming in here and working 70- to 80-hour weeks on "Lost." The idea of going back into the fray Brett Favre-style is not alluring to us. When we finish "Lost" we will disappear to our undisclosed locations then think about things for a while.

Cuse: I think the one thing that's pretty certain is neither of us have a great (urge) to do something that's this dense, sprawling and serialized. You need to exercise different creative muscles.

Lindelof: My hope is to rip off other successful shows.

LIKE YOU'VE BEEN RIPPED OFF?

Lindelof: Exactly. Maybe a show about vampires that work in an ad agency and one is a serial killer.

Cuse: Especially if the lead character is also cooking meth.

Lindelof: Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Almost guaranteed an Emmy. "Breaking Bad Men."

You can trust every word that they say ;)

Pirates

Lost is the second most pirated television show on the Internet, with Heroes (which I hear will be canceled by the end of this season). So, the two most popular Online programs that viewers are interested in stealing are coming off the market this spring. How do you like that?
Commenting on the piracy of US TV-shows Torrentfreak observed: “The rise of unauthorised downloading of TV-shows is a signal that customers want something that is not available through other channels. Availability seems to be the key issue why people turn to BitTorrent, and this is also reflected in the fact that most downloads occur from countries where the show has yet to air on TV.”