I’m soooooo excited.  Why?  Because it’s…
‎Why yes it is – and it’s about time!
After what felt like an interminably looooooooooong off season, CFL training camps are underway. And that means three four things:
1. The hockey season is almost done.
2. Summer is (supposedly) here.
3. Your email inbox will be filled with CFL-centric missives for the next 6 months.
4. I will spend an inordinate amount of time writing said CFL-centric missives and finding appropriate pictures to send with them.
‎Montreal Alouettes

Your inability to win the Grey Cup last year indicates otherwise.

I was hoping Les Alouettes would fail soooooo hard last year. And it looked so promising at first as Anthony Calvillo finally retired, Tom Higgins (aka ‘Flanders’) took over as coach and ‎the team got off to a 1-7 start. Alas, they managed to climb out of the basement and walk all over the hapless Lions in the East Semi-Final before ultimately losing in the East Final.
Jonathan ‘Goldilocks’ Crompton will begin his first full season ‎as starting QB. The Als’ receiving core was revamped with the loss of Duron Carter to the NFL and the acquisitions of Fred Stamps and Nik Lewis. And when I say revamped, I don’t necessarily mean revamped for the better, as both Stamps and Lewis are likely past their best before dates.
Last year the Als survived in large part due to their solid linebacking core. Chip (Cheap Shot) Cox and Kyries Hebert return, and with the emergence of Bear Woods (real name – Jonathan – so much less scary) last year, the linebacking core will likely remain the Alouettes’ strength.
The key for the Alouettes will be keeping their focus on football, as the signings of Michael Sam – the CFL’s first openly gay football player – and Khalif Mitchell – whose Holocaust-denying Twitter rants got him in trouble this off-season (and who knows what else he may come up with during the year) may provide Flanders, er Tom Higgins, with more off-field challenges than on-field ones.
Prediction: 2nd in the East
Toronto Argonauts

A picture of all of the Arblows’ players.  Who thought that this was a good idea??

After missing the playoffs last season due to the crossover (HA!), the Arblows appear to have entered a rebuilding year – just like MLSE’s other franchise (there will be oh so many Leafs jokes this year).
The key for the Arblows, as usual, will be the health of Ricky Ray. After missing only one game during the 2014 season, Ray underwent off-season surgery to repair a tear in his throwing shoulder. He is expected to start the season on the six-game injured list, which means the Boatmen will likely begin the year with Trevor Harris (who?) at QB.
The rest of the Argos’ ‎roster contains few recognizable names. Ricky Foley returns after being traded back to the Double Blue by the Riders. Chad Owens and Andre Durie (if he can stay healthy) are now the only receivers that will strike any type of fear (albeit rather limited) in the hearts of opposing defences. And Brandon Isaac and James Yurichuk are two of only a handful of veterans in the Argos’ backfield.  The Arblows will need to rely on their defence early in the year while their offence gets on track, but given the lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball, this will be more than a little problematic.
Prediction: 4th in the East
Hamilton Tiger-Cats

This moment was so awesome.

Grey Cup 2014 was a tough game for this sports scribe. While I wanted the Stumps to lose, it was more than enjoyable to watch the Kitty Cats lose their second Grey Cup in a row – and in rather spectacular fashion.

Suck it, Kent!

Early in the year, the Ti-Cats looked nothing like the team that earned a Grey Cup berth in 2013. This gives us the opportunity to revisit my favourite picture from the 2014 season (although we’re mostly revisiting it because this is my column):

Sad Sack Zach.  CLASSIC.

Zach ‘Sad Sack’ Collaros enters his second season ‎as the Cats’ starting QB. All of his receivers return, including Andy Fantuz, Luke Tasker and Bakari Grant, along with CJ Gable and Nic Grigsby in the backfield. And then there’s near-Grey Cup hero Brandon Banks.
The Ti-Cats’ defensive line is once again anchored by Justin Hickman, the affable Simoni Lawrence (whose web series where he plays board/card games with various CFL players is kind of entertaining) leads the linebacking core and a relatively young backfield is led by veteran ‎Brandon Stewart.
With few changes, the Kitty Cats are looking to start the season strong and get back to the Grey Cup. And given their competition in the East Division, it’s quite probable that they’ll succeed. BOO. 
Prediction: 1st in the East

This really should say “The Ottawa REDBLACKS: In Training Camp since June 2014”

In 2014, the Ottawa REDBLACKS played football just like Rod Black calls football games: blissfully unaware that they had no idea what they were doing.
And that is why they will hereintofore and forevermore be referred to as the RODBLACKS.
The RODBLACKS’ biggest‎ problem in Year 1 of a projected 5 year franchise life (their season ticket base diminished by 20% this off-season) was that their receivers couldn’t catch.
Thi‎s is a problem in a game where you essentially only have two tries to move a ball ten yards.
So what did the RODBLACKS do? They spent all of the money they didn’t spend on Weston Dressler (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) on free agents, spending freely and at whim, just like our Ottawa-based senators. But unlike the Canadian taxpayer, the RODBLACKS might actually get some bang for their buck as they acquired Maurie Price and Chris Williams. Signing Williams is particularly interesting given his all-star play before he became a divo (the male form of diva), sat out the 2013 season due to a contract dispute (see 2013 ONSC 5483 – for real) and went to the NFL for one fruitless season.
But a few receivers won’t solve all of the RODBLACKS’ problems. They still need an o-line, a d-line, linebackers and a secondary. In other words, there are still a few holes to fill.
Luckily for the RODBLACKS, though, Ricky Ray is hurt and Henry Booris can at least throw a football – and sometimes even to the right team.
Prediction: 3rd in the East
That’s it for my East Division preview.  The West Division preview is next!

So this happened last night…



Hell froze over.  Pigs flew.  The world ended.

Forty-four years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta came to an end.


It all began so innocently.  Premier (soon to be former premier) Jim Prentice put forth a budget.  That budget prescribed tax increases, public sector layoffs and a $5 billion deficit.

Jimbo thought it was a good time to go to the polls – a time to get a ‘mandate’ from the people.

It sounded like a good idea.  Democratic, really.

Two hundred and thirty-three days after he became Premier, he then stood in front of a half-empty room resigning not only as leader of his party, but as an MLA.


So what happened?

Well, some people have all the luck.

First: timing.  Since 2011, and with the election of Rachel Notley’s NDP, Albertans will have had five premiers in the span of four years.  Alberta is usually heralded as a bastion of political stability, but it became rather apparently over the past couple of years that something was rotten within the PC party, and Notley managed to ride the wave of voter discontent.

Second: a strong campaign.  Time and again we have seen seemingly vulnerable governments manage to come back from the brink of political death and somehow win majorities (see Alison Redford’s 2012 election victory).  This is usually due to a meltdown by the party threatening to take power.  Rachel Notley and the NDP managed to take the momentum built by the leaders’ debate and not only maintain it, but build it.  This was quite the feat given the inexperience of many of her party’s candidates and her political team.

Third: a weakened Wildrose party.  One of the questions that hasn’t been asked is why Albertans didn’t flock to the Wildrose party.  Given the decades of conservative rule, the Wildrose would seem like a more palatable alternative to Albertans than the NDP.  But a few months ago, a number of prominent Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to sit with Prentice’s PCs, leaving the party to have to search for a new leader.  Brian Jean only assumed the leadership of the Wildrose Party at the end of March, leaving him with little time to introduce himself to Alberta voters.  Also, the floor crossing no doubt left some voters wondering if a vote for the Wildrose was a vote for the PCs anyway given the seeming fluidity between their caucuses lately.

Fourth: fatigue.  Sometimes enough is enough and it’s time for new blood.

The bigger question, though, is what impact does this have, if any, on the upcoming federal election?

At this point, who knows.


Results of the 2015 Alberta provincial election.     Results of the 2011 Canadian federal election.

Currently, the federal Conservative Party holds all seats in Alberta save for one NDP seat in Edmonton.  The federal boundary ridings in Alberta have been redrawn for the upcoming federal election, and more than 50% of the seats will be in urban areas.  The NDP’s complete domination of Edmonton and surge in Calgary mean that it’s within the realm of possibility for the NDP to pick up a few more seats in urban areas, but many of those same seats are held by Conservative Party veterans, including cabinet ministers.  It may be difficult for the NDP to get past the notoriety factor of many of the Conservative MPs in Edmonton and Calgary.

However, you can bet that the Conservatives will spend a lot more time in Alberta over the next few months ensuring that their stronghold is secure.

Finally, two other election-related issues of note:

1. Voter turnout in this election was the highest it’s been in Alberta since 1993 at a whopping 57%.  Remember, though, that this is Alberta, and 57% is a good number for that province.  They’re relearning democracy out there.

2. Of the 53 NDP MLAs elected last night, 45% are women.  This is a record for any Canadian government, federal or provincial.  Unfortunately, though, women will still only comprise 33% of the provincial legislature.  Of the 31 PC and Wildrose candidates elected, only four are women – two from each party.  While progress was made on this front last night, there is more work to be done.

I hate exercising.  This is me when exercising:


I hate it.  I hate it a lot.

Exercise and I don’t have a good history.  I think it started back in elementary school was I was more than a little pudgy and my lack of perceived athleticism created a lack of self-confidence.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always thought of myself as not athletic.

Anyway, tomorrow I begin my latest attempt to try and get into some sort of exercise routine.  Nearly every morning for the last year I’ve looked in the mirror and berated myself for how my waist size has increased.  I’ve taken to calling it my ‘depression weight.’  It seems to happen every time.

It was last year around this time that I could feel myself turning inward and I could sense the fog beginning to descend again.  I now realize that it wasn’t so much that it came back, but that it had never really gone away.  And now that I have felt ‘normal’ again for a few months, it’s time to figure out what that new ‘normal’ looks like and how I can protect myself from going down that deep hole again.

I get angry when I think about the fall of 2011.  I started running that fall, and for some reason I actually kept up the habit for about three months. I’d never slept so well or had so much energy as I did during those months – despite my hectic schedule.  I was amazed at how well I handled the stress of exams and law school.  But then Christmas came, I went home for the break and I never went back to running.  And nine months later I could not stop crying and I could barely get out of bed.  I can’t help but think that I might have avoided that hellish period had I just kept on running.

So this time, as I begin a new exercise journey, that experience is in the back of my mind.  This time I’m not just exercising because I want to fit into my cute sundresses again – although I really do want that, too.  This time I’m exercising so that I can be me and live my life the way I want.  In a way, I’m exercising in order to keep my own freedom.  If that isn’t motivating enough, I don’t know what is.

New Year’s resolutions.


Seriously. Who likes making them? Like I said in my last post, New Year’s resolutions make us feel like failures. They’re idealistic lists that show us what we think we should do, what we should be like, and what we should become.

New Year’s resolutions are also rather pedestrian. Who doesn’t want to be healthier? Or slow down? Or read more? Okay – maybe not everyone wants to read more.

I’ve noticed a shift away from resolutions by some of my favourite bloggers. Instead, they choose a word or phrase to guide them throughout the year. I remember picking a word last year, but I can no longer recall what it was. Obviously it was a very meaningful word.

I’ve thinking a lot lately about how my life is currently very work-centred. This was both necessary and not all that surprising given what I am doing and the path is took to get me there. But I’ve recently become less comfortable with that, craving more balance and a better quality of life outside of work. Don’t get me wrong.  I love work – I do. But I don’t want my work to define me, and right now, it does.

After some reflection, my word for 2015 is going to be EXPLORE. I’ve had a few ideas of things I’d like to do outside of work, but I’ve never put them into action. This year, I want to focus on building my life outside of work now that I’m somewhat settled in my job and have (finally) realized that I’m not going back to school. Although I’m getting my Ph.D. in political studies with my thesis about sports and its role in political messaging. That will somehow happen.

Exploration is not without risks, though, and I fully realize that.  I will fall flat on my face doing some things, but I will be better for having tried.

May 2015 be full of discoveries and excitement!

A few weeks ago, I came across an article urging people to eschew the usual year-end resolution-fest. The reason for this was because resolutions tend remind us of all of our foibles and follies – our vices and our failures. Instead, the article asked us to reflect on the past year and ask ourselves, “What did you do this year that made you proud?”

I am generally not one to toot my own horn, so to speak. Except for when I win a bet – in those cases I can be rather insufferable. But usually, not so much. For example, I have four university degrees. That’s right. FOUR. I graduated with great distinction not once, not twice, but three times. Yet I’m more embarrassed than proud of these accomplishments, mostly because it means I was a student forever.

But even though I’m not much of a “Rah rah – goooooo me!” type of gal, I’ve been thinking a lot about what things I did this year that made me proud – and what things I did that SHOULD make me proud.

I will fully admit to being a bit envious of my siblings’ accomplishments this year. One had his first child, while the other one became engaged and is planning a wedding. In my head, my accomplishments paled in comparison.

I am such an idiot sometimes.

It’s not as if I sat around all year eating chips and ice cream and watching all seven seasons of ‘The Wesr Wing’. However, I did do those things for part of May and for the majority of June and July in the evenings when I wasn’t working (I continue to be somewhat baffled as to why my depressive episodes always begin when the weather is warm and the days are long).

So here’s a list of things of things I’m proud of and/or should be proud of accomplishing this year:

I finished articling.
I became a lawyer.
I finished tied for the top mark in my provincial bar admissions class.
I was re-hired at my firm as an associate.
I have a job and an employer that I love.
I have received kind words and referrals from my clients.
I became an aunt for the first time.
I remembered that I love to sing.
I cared for myself through a trying time this past spring and still managed to continue to work and carry on with my life.
I cultivated new friendships.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone on a near-daily basis.
I wrote briefs of law and factums that helped clients win cases.
I pushed through even when I was terrified.
I set boundaries.
I took on a major file and have it nearly resolved after having to sort through years of inaction.
I took chances and reaped rewards.

Given how I felt at times throughout the year, I should be amazed at what I accomplished. Professionally, the year likely could not have gone better.

So here’s to me. Good job, girl. I’m proud of you.

It’s one of my FAVOURITE times of year, y’all – it’s CFL playoff time!

Let’s take a look at this week’s match-ups..

als v bc

Do I care a lot about this game?  Um, no.

Does anybody?

Anyway, I think Montreal wins this game by at least two TDs for the reasons set out below.

BC has confused me all year long.  While everyone knew the Lions would begin the season without starting QB Travis Lulaylemon (i.e. Travis Lulay), most thought Kevin Glenn would be a capable game manager who would simply step into the Lions’ system and hold down the fort, so to speak, until Lulaylemon returned.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Instead, BC struggled all year to find any sort of consistency, especially on offence.  Defensively, the Lions held their own; they’re in the top three in most defensive categories.  While defense wins championships, the Lions need to score early and often in order to disrupt Montreal’s home field advantage.

Montreal is an interesting case study.  The Als looked fugly earlier this season, and I enjoyed it immensely.  But somehow they managed to find a QB, Jonathan Crompton (whose flowing locks are no doubt the envy of many men – and women) and they started putting some wins together.  It seems the Als took a few lessons from the Lions, who notoriously started the 2011 season 1-6 but ended up winning 10 of their next 11 en route to winning the 2011 Grey Cup.  But the Alouettes are not nearly as good as the 2011 Lions, and really, Montreal played quite a few games against its weak Eastern Division siblings that likely helped pad their record.

So why do I think Montreal will win on Sunday?  Easy: history, time difference, BC’s poor showing against Calgary to end the season and Kevin Glenn’s ineptitude in big games.  History because Western teams historically struggle in crossover playoff games.  Time difference because the game starts at 1:00 pm in Montreal, which is 10 am Vancouver time.  BC laid a proverbial egg against Calgary in its final game of the season in a game that had huge playoff implications, which doesn’t give the Lions a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs.  And finally, Kevin Glenn does not have a good playoff reputation.  Add in the fact that Montreal is playing at home, and I think it adds up to a solid win for Montreal.

But enough about this game.  Let’s turn to the game that REALLY matters…

riders v esks

Dear CFL.ca: PLEASE quit overselling these playoff match-ups.  You should still be embarrassed by dubbing last year’s Grey Cup QB match-up as the best ever.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since the Riders had to go into the Evil Empire’s territory in the playoffs.  Again, I immensely enjoyed how much Edmonton sucked over the past couple of years.  Sadly that time has come to an end.

I must admit that this week my mind has floated back to the 1989 Western Final between the Riders and Eskimos when the heavily-favoured Esks were beaten by the Riders in an outcome that conjured up comparisons of David versus Goliath.  While this Eskimos team is solid, it’s not even close to being on par with the 1989 juggernaut.

The CFL rumor mill has been working overtime regarding Eskimos QB Mike Reilly (sadly I have no mocking nickname for him – yet). Rumor has it that he has a broken bone in his foot.  The Esks’ announced that Matt Nichols will be starting in Reilly’s place. The Eskimos’ nickname for Matt Nichols?  Matty Ice.  Really?  ROFL.

Some Riders’ fans are salivating at the prospect of Matty Ice (?!?!) starting on Sunday.  Sure he threw a few interceptions in a nothing game for the Esks last week.  But now is NOT the time to be underestimating the Eskimos – especially when the Eskimos’ defence was the league’s top defence and the Riders’ offence was MIA for most of the year.

This brings us to the Riders.  Yes, the Riders went on a seven game winning streak early in the season, but when I look back on the 2014 season, I mostly think about the Riders’ inability to score points against the freaking basement-dwelling REDBLACKS. My concerns are not alleviated by the fact that the Riders also have serious issues at QB.  I suspect that while Kerry Joseph will get the start, my future husband or husband in an alternate universe, Darian Durant, will be second on the depth chart.  Given Joseph’s struggles against the Esks’ defensive line last week, I hope and pray that Riders’ offensive co-ordinator George Cortez has been playing possum for the last couple of weeks and brings out the Riders’ actual playbook for the playoffs.

Defensively, the Riders HAVE to stop the run.  The cold weather, plus having a second-string QB starting will likely force Edmonton to run the ball more.  The Riders have to find a way to plug the middle and keep the Esks from picking up 5 or 6 yards on first down. The Riders also have to make sure Eskimos’ MOP Adarius Bowman doesn’t get behind coverage, and the same goes for Fred Stamps.

On special teams, the Riders need their cover teams to be solid.  Any special teams disasters by the Riders’ special teams will significantly affect Riders’ morale and momentum, not to mention my heart rate and sanity.

If Mike Reilly was starting, I’d say the Riders’ chances of winning this game were at about 10%.  Mike Reilly is to the Eskimos like Darian Durant is to the Riders: he’s their leader.  With Mike Reilly out, the Riders’ chances significantly improve.  While my head is telling me the Eskimos win in a close game, my heart says the Riders will somehow eke this one out.


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