With only a couple of days to go before I head back to Vancouver, I thought I’d take a tour of some of my old childhood stomping grounds. It was a little surreal, like those dreams in which you find yourself in familiar yet slightly incongruous surroundings. The neighborhoods don’t look quite like how you remember them, the shops and businesses mutated versions of their former quaint selves. The Beaconsfield Shopping Center, the once bustling hang-out for high-schoolers and determined shopaholics, is deserted. Sam the Record Man moved out ages ago along with Zellers, replaced by a dollar store and a knick-knack emporium. The Bookmarket, where I used to stock up on back issues of X-Men and Avengers comics, is long gone as well. I remember reading about how the owner was involved in some sort of tax dispute and vowed to fight the bullying government that was threatening to shut his business down. I remember seeing the signs outside the book market that week. “Come down on Sunday and see Manny take on the big bad government!”they proclaimed, alluding to the date on which the business was slated to be shut down. And I remember visiting the shopping center later that week and walking past the cleaned-out space that once housed The Bookmarket.

The Win Wah Buffet is gone (which my sister and I would refer to as the Wishy-Wash Buffet on account of its lukewarm and uninspired offerings), one of my father’s favorite dining destinations. He loved those chicken balls. Gone too is Odessa Video (run by that stoic Russian couple), the Movenpick, and the mailing depot where one of the guys on duty would always insist I pull some strings and try to get Space Ghost back on the air. Some things have survived, transformed by time. Others have remained surprisingly unchanged, like the Italian deli where we used to pick up our bagettes, still thriving after all these years, 1 000 000 Comix where Charlie still runs things with Al, looking exactly as I left him eight years ago, and, of course, my Aunt Grace’s holiday desserts. Among the goodies we sampled today was a great almond brittle and some truly fabulous soft almond iced cookies.

Well, I noticed that my previous post has engendered a fair amount of interest as fans have attempted to decypher the occasionally cryptic rhyme. Sorry, no hints, but I will offer some clarification. The rhyme touches on every episode in the back half of Atlantis season 3 (no front half references), as well as a good chunk of the stories we’re working on for season 4. Only one of the stanzas refers to only one episode. The others refer to two and occasionally more.

And since I’m in a soothsaying mood and the NFL regular season has wrapped up, I thought I’d weigh in with my Superbowl XLI prediction. Some of you will recall that at this same time last year, I picked the Steelers to make their way through the playoffs, upsetting the Colts along the way, to meet Seattle in the Superbowl – where they would beat the Seahawks by 10 points (The Steelers actually ended up winning by 11. Close enough.). This year looks to be a lot tougher to predict, but I’m going to try anyway. In the NFC, the Giants have looked far from impressive in the back half of the regular season, and the Seahawks are a pale imitation of the powerhouse that competed in last year’s big game. The Cowboys are – what’s the opposite of peaking? – at the wrong time. The Eagles are this playoff’s darkhorse and have a good shot, but the team they’ll be playing in the second round, The New Orleans Saints, have an even better shot. As much as I love their defense and would love to see the Bears head to the Superbowl, they’re iffy at the quarterback position and all that comes to mind is the way the Saints dismantled then hot QB Romo and his Cowboys in Dallas. And so, I’m taking the Saints to make their first Superbowl appearance (but keep an eye on those Eagles). In the AFC, the Jets and the Chiefs look overmatched in the wildcard round. The Colts, like the Seahawks, are not the team they once were, and while I love that Raven defense, I’m still unconvinced by their offense. Never underestimate the Patriots. Like the Eagles in the NFC, they’ve got a shot. But the road to Superbowl XLI goes through San Diego and the Chargers look like the team to beat. And I just don’t think anyone will. Superbowl XLI, Final: Chargers 38 Saints 21.

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Hatusu
Hatusu

No mention of the Bears?! I’m mortally insulted. OK. They have been in a slump. At least they waited until they clinched their spot. They’ll pull it together. They’re “Da Bears”!

Hats, Chicago

Hatusu
Hatusu

Oops. OK. You did mention the Bears. You have a point. I still think that they will pull it off.