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The old hacks who make The Ex-Press the glorious, old-school rag that it is.

Rod Mickleburgh pens an ode to Jay messiah

Surprise slugfest shatters expectations of a humdrum night of baseball, inspiring a veteran scribe to take an original trip around the horn of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic, published June 3, 1888 By Rod Mickleburgh Earlier this week, on a beautiful night for baseball, I was at the Skydome for what hardly promised to be a classic ball game, between the struggling Blue Jays and woeful White Sox. But my friend Peter McNelly, having spent part of his boyhood in Chicago, remains a diehard Sox fan, and me, well, I love baseball at any level, so off we went. Of course, since baseball ever produces the unexpected, what transpired on the field, against all expectation, was as exciting a game as I can remember (and I remember Mazeroski’s homer!). It was an old-fashioned slugfest, with more twists and turns than the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. It was a pitchers’ duel all right, as in who would get to the showers first: the Jays’ R.A. Dickey, whose knuckleball danced about as much ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Children’s Books

Misty Harris deciphers the hidden messages in beloved kids’ tales to discover the secret meaning of Green Eggs and Ham, and Robert Munsch's ode to Psycho By Misty Harris Read the same children’s books night after night AFTER NIGHT and two things are likely to come to mind: suicide, and questions about what the respective authors were really trying to say.   From Lewis Carroll to C.S. Lewis, scribes of children’s literature are notorious for hiding political, religious and even mathematical messages in plain sight. Is this also true of more straightforward titles such as Everyone Poops and Mortimer? I watched enough Carmen Sandiego as a kid to feel comfortable playing gumshoe on this one.* Let’s detect!   Green Eggs and Ham: If you push something bland and unappetizing on people long enough, they’ll relent and accept it – a timeless message that explains everything from reality TV to the endurance of Gwyneth Paltrow.   Love You Forever: ...

Judge’s dissenting remarks draw chalk outline around corpse of collective bargaining

Justice Ian Donald emerges as a lone voice in the labour wilderness with recent 38-page dissent concluding the BC government did not bargain in good faith with teachers By Rod Mickleburgh “[If] the government could declare all further compromise in any context to be untenable, pass whatever it wants, and spend all ‘consultation periods’ repeatedly saying ‘sorry, this is as far as we can go,’ [that] would make a mockery of the concept of collective bargaining.” - Justice Ian Donald, dissenting from the B.C. Court of Appeal decision overturning a lower court ruling that found the government’s imposed 2012 contract on B.C. teachers unconstitutional. I’ve known Appeal Court Justice Ian Donald for a long time, not recently or as a friend, but during his time as a lawyer representing non-mainstream unions who made a lot of news in those long lost days when I was a labour reporter. His clients included independent Canadian unions such as the Pulp, Paper and ...

Pop Culture Decoder: American Ninja Warrior

Misty Harris breaks down the appeal of TV’s best competition show that's basically the sports equivalent of dating George Clooney between 1994 and 2013 By Misty Harris American Ninja Warrior is summer’s best competition show that sounds like it was named by a six-year-old who just watched his first Chuck Norris movie. The series features increasingly grueling obstacle courses designed to test the mettle of America’s top athletes, and to shame everyone watching from their couch at home (those who can’t do, watch).   A part of me, childishly, wants to hate ANW for its hyperventilating celebration of all the people who would’ve picked me last in gym class. But as much as I’m a bitter old wannabe who can’t touch her toes, I find myself impervious to the charms of this show – the seventh season of which premieres May 25.   Contestants train like fiends year-round, will often wait days to audition, and have less fat in their entire bodies than I have ...

Baseball: And it’s root, root, snooze for the home team

Rod Mickleburgh pays a visit to Seattle's Safeco Field to deliver valuable coaching advice from 30 rows up that, tragically, went unheeded By Rod Mickleburgh One of my favourites among the many things Yogi Berra never said is: “There’s one word that describes baseball: you never know.” Like so many Berra-isms (“It gets late early out there.”), it has a wisdom all its own. For it really is one of the great things about baseball: you just never know. So many sports have a sameness to them, and I don’t mean that as a knock. I’m a huge hockey fan, but basically, the players go up and down the ice trying to score. It’s pretty basic. How many Kevin Bieksa-type stanchion goals are there in a season? Not so with baseball. It’s been played for more than 125 years, and you can still go the ballpark and see something that’s never happened before. Last year, at Safeco Field, I saw the left fielder throw out a runner at first (explanation available on request). On the ...

Time has come today, and Apple Watch can have tomorrow

Charley Gordon remembers the good old days when timepieces needed winding and tattooed skin was the exclusive reserve of sailors By Charley Gordon How to greet the news that the Apple Watch doesn't quite work when fastened onto tattooed skin? Satirical comment is too easy, isn't it, the news equivalent of a batting practice fastball. Here it comes, not too fast, right over the middle of the plate. You can see the seams. How can you not take a swing at it? But where to start? Point out that the watch is unnecessary. Point out that the tattoo is unnecessary, the two cancelling each other out. Hey, the useless thing I put on my arm is making the useless thing I bought for my wrist useless! Then there is the rant about First World Problems, always a crowd favourite. Or move, ever more comfortably, into old fuddyduddyism. In my day, you had to wind your watch and it never talked to you, because it had better manners. As for tattoos, you had to be a sailor. Each of these is a ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Bad Blood

Misty Harris unpacks Taylor Swift's latest celebrity-filled video, which belly-flopped onto YouTube earlier this week By Misty Harris Confession: I was counting down to the debut of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video the way normal people count down to Christmas, or Kardashians to their next selfie. Say what you want about Swift’s love life, which has played out like a cautionary tale against dating songwriters, the girl has chops when it comes to producing killer music videos.   Imagine my disappointment, then, when Bad Blood finally landed and turned out to be all style, no substance (if you put your nose to your computer monitor, you can actually smell the aroma of “meh”). Though all the elements were in place for another hit – slick set design, more than a dozen star cameos, and a budget equal to the GDP of some small countries – the end result was more mess than masterpiece.   Let’s decode, shall we?     Too many celebri...

Pop Culture Decoder: The Catch

Misty Harris uses her forensic skills and pop culture instincts to dissect the new trailer for Shonda Rhimes’ new show featuring Mireille Enos as a feisty fraud investigator By Misty Harris In the bloody wake of McDreamy, whose death left a hole in our hearts and in the men’s haircare market, a nation comes together to ask: Can we learn to love Shonda Rhimes again? If the trailer for her upcoming drama The Catch is any indication, the answer is yes. Big yes. Yes on a Post-It yes. Here’s what ABC is telling us about Shondaland’s latest: “This thriller centres on the strong, successful Alice Martin (Mireille Enos). She’s a fraud investigator who’s about to be the victim of fraud by her fiancé. Between her cases, she is determined to find him before it ruins her career.” Ok, kind of a dull description; I’ve had bathroom breaks that were more compelling. But the slick trailer suggests there’s more to this show than White Olivia Pope™ risking (gasp!) ...

From Cowtown to Maotown

Rod Mickleburgh takes a long view on Rachel Notley's longshot win that changed Alberta's political landscape overnight, maybe for good By Rod Mickleburgh I wasn’t there, but I bet a lot of tears were shed by Alberta NDP oldtimers at the party’s giddy, raucous ‘n’ rollin’  post-victory celebration in Edmonton. That was certainly the order of the evening on a similar dragon-slaying night long ago, out here in British Columbia. On Aug. 30, 1972, Dave Barrett, the 41-year old son of an East Vancouver fruit pedlar, led “the socialist hordes” inside the province’s gates for the first time, after nearly 40 years of repeated failure. Among the hysterical crowd greeting a triumphant Barrett at the Coquitlam Arena (it was a different time…) was veteran union official Rudy Krickan, who’d worked for the party since the 1930’s. His eyes moistening, Krickan told a reporter: “This is the greatest night of my life.” Barrett’s mother Rose, who put young Dave on a ...

Can’t anybody here hear this game?

Charley Gordon finds quiet the beauty of the moment amid the constant cacophony of mindless colour commentary By Charley Gordon Sports can be nice when nobody is talking. I had that realization a few weeks ago when I watched a professional golf tournament in Florida. My son and I had been given tickets. Not knowing exactly how these things worked, we walked through a gate, followed some people and suddenly were beside the third green, along with a handful of others. We saw some men walking up to the green and suddenly realized they were well-known golfers (whose names I now forget), along with their caddies. There was no spoken announcement of who they were, no shouts from the crowd. They walked, without fanfare, onto the green, where, I now noticed, two golf balls lay, and got ready to putt. It was mid-morning and the leaders of this tournament wouldn't tee off for a few hours, so the crowds were thin and a certain calmness prevailed. Part of the calmness was due to the ...