Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blockbuster Bankruptcy

It seemed to fly under the radar, but since I have spent some time in this store recently, I thought I would bring it up again.

In case you didn’t hear, Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States.

The Canadian operations are not affected by the move.

Blockbuster, which at one point was the #1 video rental retailer, is reportedly carrying 900 MILLION dollars in debt.

How did this happen, you ask?

Well in many ways, Blockbuster had an auto industry approach to business – specifically comparable to the Big 3.

There was an arrogance to Blockbuster – sure there was Jumbo Video in the past and Rogers Video as their only current retain competition - but they forgot something – the wonderful world wide web.

Netflix popped up, as did the ability to order movies off your satellite provider with a click of a button, and Blockbuster did not adjust until it was too late.

Then, when they did, their marketing ploy was vacuous (vak-you-ous) and negligent.

They offered no late fees – an excellent idea for families on the run who aren’t able to find two hours in a night to sit down and enjoy their flick.

But then realized late fees accounted for 16% of their revenue and brought them back.

In place, they have come up with the 2-night and 7-night rental…without changing the prices.

You can order a movie on pay-per-view for around 5 dollars, you can use Netflix for anywhere from $5-$25 dollars a month – and that’s for as many movies are you want.

Blockbuster is still $6+ dollars a rental, and even more for Blu-Rays.

Like GM, Ford and Chrysler – I think Blockbuster got it in their minds that they were irreplaceable.

But they aren’t.

Like Honda, Toyota and other foreign brands – alternatives like Netflix and Pay-Per-View have been stocking up their army and have unleashed a wrath of opportunities for the movie watcher.

As I mentioned earlier, Blockbuster Canada is not expected to be affected by bankruptcy protection – but that’s for now.

Netflix has just arrived in the Great White North, so how long can Blockbuster keep up the charade before they are left out in the cold?

Like the Big 3, Blockbuster needs to get with the times or they will be as extinct as a character in one of their high priced Science Fiction rentals.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sept 3, 2010

Well there goes summer.

In the blink of an eye, I found myself at home, watching the start of the NCAA Football season, planning my tailgating party for tomorrow and turning off the air conditioner for the evening, wondering if I’ll ever even need it again this year.

Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but really – it’s September now.

We are expecting a nice, warm fall, leading into a reportedly mild winter – which I’m perfectly fine with, but did it seem like this summer went by faster than most?

Maybe it was because it was so nice, most people’s monthly plans were filled by the time the calendar flips.

It’s not officially fall, but this long weekend really does seem to be the final chapter in the thriller that was the summer of 2010…and it was a good one.

Hey, it’s been four months since the explosion that resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. I guess it’s time for another:

Luckily, a fire on an oil production facility 100 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico appears to have ended without disaster.

Houston-based Mariner Energy Inc. reported that it was able to shut in the wells connected to the oil and gas production platform, averting leaks.

Do you think they have any pamphlets on how they did that? I know a company that could get good use out of reading that manual.

Have you heard about the 10 month old Chinese Michelin baby? At 10 months he weighs 44 pounds – the average weight of a 6-year old! That’s all.

You know when life is unfair to you when you are stuck in a mine in Chile – and could be there for another three MONTHS – have been denied some of the necessities of life.

The 33 men, who have each lost at least 22 pounds each, are being given something like tuna and water every day. They have been sent down cards, music and fresh clothes to help cope with the “discomfort” of being stuck 23-hundred feet under the ground.

But they have now been denied booze and cigarettes. Now, how unjust is that! Is there really a better way to pass three months than drinking yourself to sleep? Poor guys, I feel for ya.

So just for you tonight, I’m going to get completely annihilated on Cerveza Cristal and fill my lungs with Marboro’s just for you guys.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Sleep Patterns

Sometimes – and only sometimes – I follow a chain of thoughts in my mind that connect to a fairly interesting topic.

Follow me through the 6-degrees of Matt’s mind to the point of my world according to today.

I was lying on my couch yesterday afternoon, drifting into my much-deserved dreamland, when I was startled by the fire alarm in the hallway.

I noticed it had only been about 15-20 since I saw the clock last and didn’t feel all that refreshed.

But my first thought was to go through the rolodex of Seinfeld episodes in my brain to find the one where Kramer goes on the DiVinci sleep pattern – sleeping 20 minutes every 3 hours.

I found it, through a little online research, on The Friars Club episode - #128 of the series.

So after my nap I had to throw it in and have a few laughs as Kramer explains how he’ll get an extra 2.5 days a week by using this sleep pattern.

It ends with Kramer being tossed into the Hudson River after falling asleep on top of a woman, who of course thought he was dead.

At the conclusion of the episode, I dug a little deeper on that DiVinci sleep pattern, and was quite intrigued.

Polyphasic (poly-fey-sic) sleep refers to the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour period—usually more than two, in contrast to biphasic sleep.

An example of polyphasic sleep is found in patients with irregular sleep-wake pattern, a circadian rhythm sleep disorder which usually is caused by head injury or dementia.

There was a guy by the name of Dr. Claudio Stampi who tested systematic sleep as a result of his boat racing hobby.

He ended up writing a book in 1992 called Why We Nap: Evolution, Chronobiology, and Functions of Polyphasic and Ultrashort Sleep about his findings, concluding that polyphasic sleep can actually ”improve prolonged performance” in some situations.

The US Military has studied sleep patterns and in their Air Force reports it says “Each individual nap should be long enough to provide at least 45 continuous minutes of sleep, although longer naps (2 hours) are better. In general, the shorter each individual nap is, the more frequent the naps should be.

On the other side of things, biphasic sleep is sleeping through the night, getting up, napping mid-day and then repeating.

Before the advent of electric lighting in Europe, sleepers awoke from their "first" sleep for an hour or more during the night, before returning to their "second" sleep.

I found this topic fascinating, but I gotta tell you…all this talk about napping is making me a little…*yawn*…tired.

These are words??

What has happened to the English language.

I’ve always been a bit of a word and grammar geek, even to the point that I signed up for the “Word of the Day” feature.

I read a fair amount, in a number of different genres, I’ve flipped through vocabulary books and thesauruses and even write in my spare time – some for local magazines and some just side projects.

And I cringe every time I see stories like this.

Every year, the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words that have entered pop culture and are supposed to pass as legitimate English phrases.

Over 2,000 new words were added this year, and there are a few that are prime examples of how the human race is getting DUMBER and DUMBER.

Here are a couple of the words, and their definitions, that have been added to the Dictionary.

--VUVUZELA. "Long horn blown by fans at soccer matches."

--BROMANCE. "A close but non-sexual relationship between two men."

--CHILLAX. "Calm down and relax."

--BUZZKILL. "A person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect."

--CHILL PILL. "A notional pill taken to make someone calm down." (???)

--CHEESEBALL. "Lacking taste, style or originality."

--WARDROBE MALFUNCTION. "An instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of their body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position."

--HATER. "Negative person."

--DEFRIEND. "Another term for unfriend (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site)."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Previously on 24...

Monday night at 10:01pm will be the end of an era.

On November 6, 2001, television changed and on May 24, 2010 it will come full circle.

“24” will wrap up on FOX with a two hour series finale starting at 8pm.

It was one of the first shows in primetime to experiment with the “real time” concept. Every minute in real life was a minute on the show, every show was an hour of Jack Bauer’s “day”, every season was one day in their main character’s life.

A quote by Kiefer Sutherland during interviews on the first season said “The time element is the main character of the show. That gives the writers a chance to do things with characters that other shows can’t do.”

But, it didn’t take long for people to become attached to Jack Bauer’s family and his daughter Kim and wife Teri.

And that’s why when the non-stop action of season 1 culminated in the death of Jack’s wife, people took notice that this show is unlike any other.

I saw a trailer for the show before it aired and thought the “real time” element was interesting, so I watched it…I have never missed an episode since.

In the Eight seasons to follow, Jack has stopped a Presidential candidate from being assassinated, stopped a bomb from detonating in Los Angeles, fought a heroine addiction to stop a Mexican drug cartel from acquiring a deadly virus, captured terrorists trying to steal nerve gas, been kidnapped by the Chinese, protect the United States from several nuclear devices and protected a peace treaty, until things went wrong.

In between his wife was killed, his girlfriend was killed, he was betrayed by friends, he had to kill friends, his daughter disowned him and he has seen more dead people than a funeral director.

I think you’re lying if you can say to me that in your life there has never been a character in TV or movies that you didn’t become attached to.

For me, Jack Bauer was the ultimate. He was vicious, hostile and deadly, while also being someone who would do anything to protect the people he cared about.

It is, of course, fiction…but it’s entertainment and no one has delivered a better week-by-week punch than Jack Bauer.

And the critics agreed: “24” has ironically won 24 major awards and nominated for over 65 more.

It’s always been one of those shows that if you haven’t watched it from the start of a season, you are probably out of the loop – and that may be it’s downfall.

I know many people who have never watched a second of the show, but I can honestly say have yet to meet someone who has started watching the show – and then stopped.

So Monday night I will be following a very familiar pattern of sitting on the couch, grabbing a snack and waiting for the ticking clock to begin.

But Monday will be different…it will be the last time.

It’ll be sad to see Jack Bauer go, because for me – he was the best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Now We DON'T Want Jobs??

There’s a great article on the Windsor Star’s website by Chris Vander Doelen about the new solar panel plant being built at the Windsor Airport – creating around 150 jobs by the end of the year.

Apparently, there are some people in the city that believe this whole “green-energy” thing is a flash in the pan because a lot of the money is coming from the government.

Some worry about what will happen when the Ontario funding dries up, and aren’t convinced this industry will strive in the future.

Well guess what – it’s new jobs. Deal with it.

It’s funny how we can be in the middle of one of the worst recessions in our history and people still believe they can be picky with their careers – or the jobs that come into our region.

Thousands of people are out of a job, and a brand new industry is coming to Windsor and carries with it the potential for thousands of jobs – but we aren’t sure we want it here.

What happens when the government is done paying for these programs to start and the city has to front the money on it’s own?

Solar Source has a game plan where they want to become the first company able to produce made-in-Ontario panels.

And that will begin in Windsor.

In fact, Solar Source President, Ross Beatty has been quoted in the article saying “the largest market for energy in the world is right here, right below us” in reference to Windsor.

I don’t buy into the whole Al Gore/green lifestyle thing, but if it’s creating jobs and the new “auto” industry in terms of growth and potential – then welcome aboard.

I can imagine there are several cities in Canada and the U-S that would love to have any ray of hope for having a new business come to town.

I’d even go beyond calling it a new business – maybe a new industry.

U-S President, Barack Obama is in Buffalo right now, hosting a town hall meeting and was greeted by a billboard reading simply “I need a freaking job”.

It was put up by a man named Jeff Baker, who lost his job at a textile business.

It’s plain and simple these days – jobs are jobs, new business is new business and growth is growth.

So whether it’s solar panels or art or animal cracker manufacturers, we should be welcoming these enterprises - who are taking a chance on us - with open arms.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hit The Road, Jack - 24 Ends

For me, the best TV show that has ever hit the airwaves will be wrapping up after their 8th season.

Here are a few great articles about the show's finish and memories.

Various Thoughts

Is there anything more disappointing than going to a movie you’ve been looking forward to seeing – and it sucks?

Now, I wasn’t expecting “She’s Out Of Your League” to be great, but I at least hoped for a laugh here and there…and I really only had one.

There’s no way of getting your money back, no way of getting those 2 hours back, really nothing.

At least Hot Tub Time Machine comes out tonight – that better be good.


On the way home from the movies, Kim and I got talking about actors who we feel are overrated.

Kim’s selection was Will Ferrell. I disagreed.

My choice was Tom Hanks. She disagreed.

There was a survey done recently that Tom Hanks was the most liked actor in Hollywood. Am I the only one who doesn’t get him?

There’s no question he’s a very good actor, award winning and whatnot – I just think he’s a bit overrated. I can only come up with a few movies that he’s really stolen – of course Forrest Gump and Big are two of them.

But most movies I’ve seen him in, he’s not the strongest actor in the film. Some examples for my case:

Apollo 13 – Ed Harris
Toy Story – Tim Allen
Splash – Daryl Hannah
Road To Perdition – Paul Newman
The Green Mile – Michael Clark Duncan
Turner & Hooch – The Dog

Again, no doubt that Tommy is a heck of an thespian, but for the most part I find him to be a bit of an over-actor and a guy who really relies on his others for his performances.


There was a recent survey done by Ipsos-Reid that said for the first time ever, more Canadians are going online than watching TV.

Do you agree? If you had to choose – which one would you pick?

For me, the choice isn’t much of a brain-tickler…I’d give up TV for the internet…for one simple reason that you can watch TV…on the internet.


Oh, and one more thing – it’s 14 days till the Home Opener at Comerica Park…but who’s counting.

Oscar Picks

The Oscars are being handed out on Sunday and even though I won’t spend 5 minutes watching them, that doesn’t mean I can’t make predictions of my own.

Granted I have not seen most of the movies that are up for awards, so most of these picks will be on personal preference of by some bias.

Here we go:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker…great movies…great story…great characters.

Best Actor: Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker…I didn’t see any other nominated performance this year, but Renner’s was very impressive for an unknown.

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side…she did a phenomenal job in this role and has grown up quite a bit from her Speed days.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds…maybe my favourite performance of any actor in any movie this year.

Best Supporting Actress: I didn’t see any of these nominees…but from what I hear Mo’Nique did a superb job in Precious.

But of course, most of the nominations are those of the Academy. The white-haired, no risk, crusty old boys club who wouldn’t take a risk on a movie for the every day man and woman.

That’s where I come in…
Now my winners and Best Picture nominees for The Matt-scars or Osc-mouchelles.

Best Picture: The nominees are Inglorious Basterds, The Blind Side, The Hangover, Saw 6 and Taken…I’d have to say the best movie I saw in 2009 was The Hangover.

Best Actor: Liam Nieson in Taken was a poor man’s Jack Bauer and he did a kick-ass job doing so…he gets the nod from me.

Best Actress: I actually have to go back to my actual Oscar pick and give the honour to Sandra Bullock. It’s just a great movie from start to finish.

Best Supporting Actor: In a stunning development, we have a tie. Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds is sharing the trophy with Zack Galafanakis from The Hangover. Oh, you’re going to tell me that Alan wasn’t the best character in the movies this year??
And finally Best Supporting Actress: I liked Helen Mirren in State of Play. She was tough, hostile and downright hot.

So enjoy the Oscars on Sunday everyone and remember…if you’re a man over 30 years old…you best not be hosting an Oscar Party…or as the Academy hands out their awards…you will have to hand in your man papers.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

30 Medals For Canada

It’s time for Canada to announce their presence with authority in the Winter Olympics.

For decades Canadian athletes have just been another name in a long list of forgetful performances on the world’s biggest stage.

This time, the stage is in our own back yard – and we must be ready to answer the call.

If you look back at the history of Canada at the Winter Olympics, you’ll see unachieved goals, mediocre performances and a plethora of 6th and 7th place finishes.

It is time for that to stop.

Each year since the ’84 games in Sarajevo, our medal count has risen – slowly but surely – to its all time high at the last games in Turin with a total of 24.

It is time for us to take the next step.

There’s no reason Canada cannot reach 30 medals in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

We have stood by as Canadians, expecting every year to get better and better during the two wintery weeks of the Olympics, only to have our hopes dashed time and time again.

Whether it’s bad efforts on our part or unexpected finishes from unknown competitors, we have struggled to earn more than double-digit medal totals only four times.

It’s a foregone conclusion that Canada will never be a powerhouse during the Summer Games – even though we once won 44 medals in 1984 in Los Angeles – but you would just have to think that in the Great White North we’d be able to compete in most events during the Winter Games.

It hasn’t been the case until recently.

Not only did we finish in the Top 3 at the Turin Games (behind only Germany and the United States), we tied the 2002 Games for the most gold medals by Canadian athletes with 7.

It’s time to ride that momentum.

There are added pressures in 2010, no question. The Games are on our home turf and the entire world will be watching not only how the Games are operated, but how the host team rises to the occasion.

We don’t have another choice but to succeed.

There has always been the argument that Canada receives very little funding from the Federal Government to practice and train for the Olympic Games and that is the cause for their struggles.

But that funding has gone up recently, as has the request for every day residents to pitch in when they can to help the team.

I know for one that if I am paying 20 dollars for a pair of gloves or 5 dollars for a Canada mug at a gas station – I want a return on my investment.

If you want to show Canadians across the country that our athletes are worth sponsoring and funding, then we need to see some medals around their necks.

We need to take a different approach at these Games than others.

“With Glowing Hearts” shouldn’t be the motto for the 2010 Games, for that they should look no further than Notre Dame Head Coach Dan Devine’s classic line from the movie “Rudy” - “No one comes into our house and pushes us around”.

Sure, it may not as friendly in a spirit-of-the-Games type way, but it’s a message to other countries that if you plan to invade our country on skis, skates, bobsleighs or snowboards that we will not make it easy for you to go home victorious.

Canada has only once hosted the Winter Games – back in 1988 in Calgary – and because of their disappointing finish, has not won a Gold Medal on home turf.

That will change this year.

Predictions range anywhere from 20-28 medals for our country at these Games, I think we can do better.

Our hockey teams are, on paper, the best in either men’s or women’s competition.

We can expect speed skating to again be one of our best events, in fact, Canada has won more medals from speed skating than any other event (28) and with athletes like Christine Nesbitt, Kristina Groves and flag-bearer Clara Hughes among the favourites, we should be able to ensure some medals in this category once again.

Curling is a sport Canada has been consistent in since it secured a spot in the Olympic program, by picking up medals each year.

And you can’t count out a medal here and there in different skiing events and a figure skating medal or two.

206 athletes will represent Canada at the Olympic Games this year and many will set personal best times and experience a magic and excitement that will never be equalled.

Some will leave Vancouver with bruises, not only on their bodies but on their egos.

And others will bask in the glory of hearing the Canadian National Anthem pumped from the speakers of their respective venue for the world to hear.

It’s time for Canada to take the next step.

It’s time for Canada to be a force to be reckoned with.

And there is no better time to do it, than within our own borders.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jan 29 - Post Surgery

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

They say it and it’s true.

I went into surgery last Thursday expecting a minor bump in the road, and by the next week I’d be moving around like nothing happened.

Ya…not so much.

It’s Friday now and I’m able to put a sock on my right foot, put very little weight on it and hop up and down the stairs.

Earlier this week, I experienced life as I never want to again…without mobility.

I was not able to put pressure on my foot for 5 days and thus I was stricken to crutches for my regular movement.

It took me about 5 minutes to get up from the couch and hobble my way to the bathroom and back…or to move from the living room to the bedroom.

I could not climb stairs and I was not able to go outside for 4 days.

It’s pretty unreal how you have to adjust life when you have any kind of injury, your whole world changes.

After having surgery on this part of the anatomy, I would have to say there may be no more crippling injury than one done to the foot.

Try it, even for an hour or two…try not being able to walk on your right foot, hoping around and holding your foot off the ground or at a 90 degree angle at the knee.

I challenge you to be able to go about your regular routine with that deprivation.

I’m not looking for sympathy here, I’m just sharing my experience and offering my sincere worship for people that are stuck with these wooden assistants for a much longer time than I am – because I could not do it.

I got used to moving around slowly but surely and all the bandage changes and sporadic shooting pain became tolerable.

But, I’ve always been a person that does not like to ask for help, whether it’s the macho testosterone gene or a belief that other people couldn’t do it as well as me, it’s hard for me to put faith in other people’s assistance.

This past week though, I have depended on it.

Craig has given me rides into work every day this week, Kim has driven me to the mall, my Mom and Dad – God bless them – have done everything from making lunch for me to getting me glasses of water at my request to changing my bandages daily.

Some people would revel in this lifestyle – ask and you receive – but I not only felt guilty and embarrassed by having to ask for these things, I also felt useless and frustrated.

On Thursday morning when I was able to put a sock on my foot for the first time I was immediately thrilled to achieve such an accomplishment in my recovery – then became immediately frustrated, realizing I was celebrating PUTTING ON A SOCK!

I understand after any procedure, there is a period of recovery…and I’ll be the first to admit I am not as active as I should be…but I didn’t lose the ability to go for a morning jog – I lost the ability to walk from a bedroom into a living room without an aid.

And there may be no more abnormal feeling than when you put your foot on the ground for the first time in 4 or 5 days and have literally forgotten how to walk on it.

Not in the sense of one foot in front of the other, but in having enough faith and confidence that if you begin to step and land properly on that foot that it won’t buckle underneath you and send you falling without a net onto the ground.

So I need to thank all the men and women at Windsor Regional, Bayshore Home Health, my parents, Kim, Craig, Maureen, Dr. Adams and many others for there help…everything from surgery to bringing me another glass of milk or making sure I don’t do a faceplant while walking up the stairs.

It is an experience I will not forget, an experience that now doesn’t seem worth it, and one I would never want to go through again.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jan 8

All my best wishes have been passed along to Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent for a promising 2010 and that we will soon blossom once again.

But there’s another city that I would hope to see recover just as much - the city of Detroit.

I have a special place in my heart for the Motor City because I’ve lived so close to it for the majority of my life.

It is where I go for, quite honestly, 90 percent of my entertainment – from concerts, sporting events, shopping and travel.

I also understand in large part, as Detroit goes – Windsor and Chatham go and as much as we’d like to deny it, their success will only help with our success.

Over the holiday break, when I heard the story about the attempted terrorist attack on the airplane from Amsterdam, I wasn’t as upset to hear about the attack as I was to hear that it would have happened in Detroit.

I was left thinking to myself “is there any other bad things that can happen to this city?”

I just read the murder rate has gone up and driving through the streets anywhere outside of Woodward Avenue and you see nothing but abandoned buildings, burned-out cars and people looking for shelter and their next meal.

It also doesn`t help their city council is as corrupt as their city is empty.

But, there is no doubt we will need help from our American friends if we want to see things turn around in our region…so as you continue to hope for good things for our city, don`t forget to look across the border and extend the same wishes…it can only benefit us.