Friday, September 24, 2010


I’m not really a morning person.  I usually stay up late with total disregard to what I’ll feel like in the morning.  I guess you can call me a night owl.  Though as I’m getting older these late nights are taking a toll on me the next day, so I am starting to limit the number of nights I go to sleep late.  Besides feeling all grumpy in the morning, another symptom of staying up late is that I can’t eat breakfast.  Most mornings I just eat a piece of toast (with Philadelphia cream cheese) and drink some orange juice, anything else would make me puke (literally).  Strangely enough though, I do love breakfast foods (eggs, bacon, buttered toast, hash browns, coffee, etc…) late at night.  This sort of food tastes amazing after a night on the town and you’re at a 24 hour diner being served by a waitress with too much make-up on.
Regardless of whatever time it is, the best place to eat breakfast food is at IHOP, or the International House of Pancakes.  Though there isn’t any local IHOP near Toronto, when I do visit the US the first place I go to is an IHOP.  What makes the trip worthwhile is their Stuffed French Toast, among other delicious choices.  According to their website, its cinnamon raisin French toast stuffed with sweet cream cheese filling with cool strawberry topping. OMG it’s so good!  Add some whipped cream, butter and maple syrup on top and you’re experience what heaven must be like with every bite.  It’s truly one of my favorite foods, and it blows every other breakfast dessert out of the water.  Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toronto Maple Leafs Exhibition Home Opener 2010 - Coke Zero Fans First

For a couple of years now Coca Cola has been offering hockey fans here in Toronto the chance to win free tickets to go watch a Maple Leafs exhibition game.  Canadians love their hockey and to go watch a Leafs game is like being able to go watch a baseball game at Fenway Park, a football (soccer) game in Santiago Bernabeu, or a basketball game at the Staples Center.  While I’m not a huge hockey fan, I have been following the boys in blue since the early 90’s when they had Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour.  So to finally have a chance to go watch the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, and have gold seats/tickets made me feel overwhelmingly euphoric.
Ordinarily these tickets are very expensive to buy, despite the fact that the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967.  A friend of mine once told me that parents put the names of their babies on a waiting list with hope’s that one day their kid (as an adult) will be able to buy season tickets.  Win or lose Toronto loves the Leafs.  So when I finally got to the ACC, despite it being the new home of the Leafs it wasn’t so much the building that made it all exciting but seeing all the fans and how much they love and support our team that made it special.
The inside of the ACC is very stylish and clean, and the staff was kind and courteous (maybe because it was the first game).  The seats were comfortable and the view was better than any television coverage can match.  My only complaint about my visit was how expensive food and beverage was, but I guess it’s no different from any other sports stadium I’ve been to.  Although the Leafs lost that night 5-0, I still had lots of fun and even got to see a fight up close and personal.  So here’s hoping the Leafs have a wonderful 2010-11 season this year, all-the-way! Go Leafs Go!
Toronto Maple Leafs:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sneaker Wars

Title:  Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sports
Author: Barbara Smit
Publisher: Harper Perennial
The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover.  It displays a picture of an Adidas Gazelle sneaker in marine blue suede with white leather highlights and a pair of Puma Suede sneakers in red ribbon suede with white highlights.  I have been buying various types of Adidas and Puma’s for many years now and so I instantly wanted to know what this book had to say about them.  This book tells the story of the sneaker war that developed between the sneaker brands Adidas and Puma.  The most interesting part of these two brands is that the creators are both brothers, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler.  The book starts off by telling the story of how the Dassler family lived in the small German town of Herzogenaurach, when suddenly both brothers were called to join the First World War.  When they returned, Adolf or “Adi” decided to build a small shoe production company using debris from what the army had left behind.  Three years later in 1923 his older brother Rudolf decided to join him in his production and form Gebrüder Dassler.  Adi would design and create the shoes, while Rudolf would handle the business side of the company.
Unfortunately over the years the Nazi movement started to grow and their success came from supplying the army with spikes.  During this time Adi got married to a girl named Käthe, and Rudolf married a girl named Friedl.  Eventually the Nazi movement, which both brothers did not embrace with warmth, forced them to join the war again.  However, Adi was released early while Rudolf was forced to stay behind causing him to believe that Adi along with Käthe (who he believed was hostile towards him) were trying to oust him from the shoe company.  After the war the years that followed contained a series of misunderstandings, deceptions, and accusations that created animosity resulting in both brothers having to split the company.  Their feud also divided Herzogenaurach in two by placing family members and employees against each other.  At one end Adi decided to name his shoe company Adidas, combining his name and surname together.  At the other end Rudolf also wanted to name his company using a combination of his name (Ruda) however he settled on the name Puma instead.
In order to distinguish itself as a quality made brand, Adi decided to add three white stripes to his shoes, which not only acted as a logo but also strengthen the sides of the shoes.  Rudolf also placed a logo on his shoes; a stripe (Formstripe) that ran across the shoe and would become thinner towards the heel.  Although initially Puma sales rose rapidly, what ultimately gave Adidas the advantage was Adi’s friendship with Sepp Herberger, Germany’s national football coach.  This friendship allowed Adi to supply the German national team with Adidas cleats for the 1954 World Cup.  Referred to as “The Miracle of Bern” Germany went on to win the World Cup, and provided the world a chance to see Adidas.  Observing the power that an athlete wearing a particular shoe could have for sales of a shoe, both Adi and Rudolf began a contest to see who could get more athletes wearing their shoes.  But as both Adi and Rudolf became older, their son’s took over the struggle to outwit the other.  Horst Dassler the son of Adi took over for his father, while Armin Dassler the son of Rudolf partially took over for his father.  Their competition would be most extreme in the Olympics and World Cup, where they would try to bamboozle each other, and even illegally pay athletes to wear their shoes.
As both these companies grew bigger and more successful, their feud would not allow them to concentrate on more important issues.  Both of them suffered from various issues such as; not being able to deliver their products on time, focusing too much on the European market while ignoring the American, manufacturing their products in Europe, expanding their distribution rights uncoordinatedly, over spending on endorsements, being too arrogant to listen to their customer’s feedback, and brushing off competition from smaller shoe companies such as Blue Ribbon Sports.  Ignoring all these issues ultimately caught up with them in the mid 80’s when Blue Ribbon Sports who would become Nike, would take away the American sneaker market from Adidas.  By the time Horst realized that Adidas sales were dropping because of Nike and Reebok, it was too late to do anything.  Although he did strike back at Nike (promoting Adidas with Run DMC), it wasn’t enough to topple them.  Adidas and Puma’s decent caused each Dassler family to face bankruptcy offering them no choice but to sell off their companies.
The part of this book that I really enjoyed was when it spoke about the work that Peter Moore and Rob Strasser had done for Adidas.  Both Moore and Strasser had just left Nike when they joined Adidas.  They were very talented because they had helped launch Nike Air and Air Jordan when they worked for Nike.  As soon as they came over to Adidas they demonstrated their talents by launching new athletic concepts such as Equipment, creating a new logo, and trying to organize Adidas America.  Lamentably this was short lived because in 1993 Rob Strasser died from a heart attack.  Fortunately over the years, both Puma and Adidas have been able to stay afloat and regain some control of the sports wear market.  Puma has found success by mixing sports wear with high fashion, and investing in Formula One.  Adidas has found success by buying out Reebok, getting both the NFL and NBA license, and attainting endorsement deals with superstars such as David Beckham.  I really enjoyed this book because it pointed out the problems that caused the downfall of Adidas and Puma.  It also serves as a great warning to Nike, that history can repeat itself if they follow the same mistakes that Adidas and Puma did.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Force Impulse Gundam: Part 2

So reality came crashing down on me big time when I finally assembled this Gundam model kit.  I had big dreams of wanting to paint it up all nicely like the version on the box, but that was until I came to realize how much time and money would go into doing that.  Time is an issue because I have a very low attention span, and just can’t spare many hours taping this kit up just to paint it.  I also don’t have the dexterity to keep my hand still in order to paint free hand like most people do.  And then there is the money issue; I don’t want to pay for all the paint colors that are necessary to make it look nice.  Even when you do have the right paint, from past failures I have also learned that you need a good air brush compressor to make the paint job look professional.
Although I did realize from the beginning that painting it would take a while, I now acknowledge that “that while” will take longer than what I had anticipated (here’s hoping I find a great deal on paints and an air compressor sometime this century).  But as far as this model kit, I have to say I really enjoyed building it.  Although the instructions are in Japanese, the drawings or diagrams make it real simple to follow.  The joints attach to one another nicely and smoothly once you build them together.  I was surprised by how much of an improvement the model appears when the stickers are added on.  The only negative thing I can say about this model was that the stand that it comes with make’s the Gundam face the ground.  Other than that, I really enjoyed building this kit and highly recommend it to any novice starting out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Force Impulse Gundam: Part 1

Talk about getting in over my head, I bought a Gundam model kit set this weekend.  I haven’t done one in years, and I am aware of what these models require to make it look like the box pictures.  Sure you could go at it easy and just build it, add the stickers and leave it as be.  But when I buy these models I buy them because of what the robot looks like on the cover of the box.
I want what I build to look like the box picture; but then reality sinks in and I realize that it won’t be that easy.  However since I am getting back into certain hobbies, in this case model kits, I figure I must start at the bottom.  My first model is the Force Impulse Gundam by Ban Dai.  The pilot of this robot is named Shinn Asuka and the model number is ZGMF-X56S/a.  My intentions are to start off slow and progress with time, and hopefully one day I will be able to paint it.  Here’s hoping it comes looking close to the way it appears on the box, lol.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Liu Bolin and the Art of Concealment

I first noticed these pictures in the newspaper The Guardian. This artist, Liu Bolin is amazing and very talented.  All his pictures are fascinating.  I can spend hours wasting on the internet looking at crap like this. :-) “Known as the 'invisible man', artist Liu Bolin camouflages himself against different city locations, from China to the UK. Each of his photographic artworks takes up to 10 hours to complete, with an assistant helping to paint him into the background.” Can you spot him in these pictures?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Identity Crisis

Title: Identity Crisis
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artists: Rags Morales and Michael Bair
Publisher: DC Comics
Boy, have comic books gotten real mature since I was a kid.  I must confess, I haven’t read many comics in my life.  I mean as a kid I did like to buy them as much as any other kid, and in high school I only read a few here and there.  But I never stayed with the scene.  The problem for me always was that I didn’t like the dreaded ‘to be continued’ at the end of a comic.  I felt almost cheated knowing that what I paid for didn’t have an ending.  Of course all of this changed when a comic book store worker recommend that I should read graphic novels, after I told him my “to be continued” issue.  He told me that graphic novels basically are a collection of comic books that do have an ending.  Ever since then I have loved to read graphic novels.  However what I didn’t expect to find in these novels was issues dealing with adult subjects.  The graphic novel, Identity Crisis is a perfectly good example of what I’m talking about.  It starts off with Elongated Man and Firehawk doing some surveillance on some would-be criminals.  Firehawk then starts asking Elongated Man how he met his wife.  He tells her the story of how they met, and why he loves her so much.
Suddenly the would-be criminals start to move and as Elongated Man expands to see, he hears the voice of his wife calling for help.  He then rushes home to her, but by the time he gets there it is too late because someone has killed her.  At her funeral almost every superhero shows up to the service.  After the funeral they all decide to split into groups and investigate the murder.  However Elongated Man and a few more superheroes stay behind because they want to go after the man they think is the real murderer, Dr. Light.  The Flash who is there then asks why they think it is him.  What follows is the story of when Dr. Light raped Elongated Man’s wife, and as a result the superheroes chose to punish him by erasing some of his mind.
The Flash becomes angry with the group because they did this, but the Green Arrow defends their actions.  Eventually the mystery of who killed Elongated Man’s wife is solved, but more importantly the Green Arrows explains his reasoning behind the decision to erase some of Dr. Lights mind.  According to him, guys like Superman and Batman get to be the big-shots when the villains are caught and they get to leave.  However for guys like the Green Arrow they have to stay behind and deal with the clean up.  In a previous story a captured villain knew their real identities, and so the “clean-up” heroes had no choice but to prevent him from ever sharing that information with other villains by erasing his memory.  According to the Green Arrow this was because it would have placed their loved ones in jeopardy.
Because of moral issues such as this one and other issues that come up during this novel, I really liked this book.  They demonstrate how comics are no longer simple stories of good vs. evil, but can really intrigue the reader and make them question a lot of things.  While issues dealing with murder and rape can be troublesome to read, it does bring a little bit off reality into comics which keeps you focused on the story.  Although the story is sad to read, I did like the ending because it was emotionally sweet and   I would recommend it to anyone that wants to read a good graphic novel.
Wikipedia link: