September 2003 Archives
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No sooner did I post a blog entry on crappy sitcoms (see September 30, 2003 / 15:20 EST) than I came across the Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy's list of the best 20 sitcoms of all time. Now the Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy is a British publication, so 11 of their top 20 are United Kingdom productions. Three of my favourite shows of all time cracked their list (The Simpsons, Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show) with The Phil Silvers Show taking the top spot. I see where they're coming from, but I can't say I agree.
Here's the entire list: 1. The Phil Silvers Show (US), 2. Seinfield (US), 3. Fawlty Towers (UK), 4. Porridge (UK), 5. Yes Minister (UK), 6. Frasier (US), 7. M*A*S*H (US), 8. 'Till Death Us Do Part (UK), 9. Hancock's Half-Hour/Hancock (UK), 10. Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? (UK), 11. The Larry Sanders Show (US), 12. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (US), 13. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (UK), 14. The Good Life (UK), 15. Steptoe and Son (UK), 16. Only Fools and Horses (UK), 17. Cheers (US), 18. The Dick Van Dyke Show (US), 19. Dad's Army (UK), 20. The Simpsons (US)
I would like to discuss three shows that the masses seem to find quite humourous. The general consensus from what I read online or in magazines and newspapers is that these three shows are each very successful with a devoted fan-base. A couple of these shows are regularly celebrated come award time, showered with Emmys and Goldon Globes. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the world not laughing at the following trio of sitcoms.
Friends - This is the last season of Friends. Millions of people throughout North America base their Thursday night around this sitcom about six friends living in Manhattan. The build-up to the finale is already underway..tears are already being shed. I can hardly wait. I haven't seen five minutes of this show in years. Do you know why? Because it stinks. It's not funny, the characters are annoying and the story lines are weak. I have never understood the worship of this show. It's terrible.
Everybody Loves Raymond - It seems this show cleans up at every year's Emmy Awards. The old guy's winning, the old lady's winning, the mechanic from Seinfeld is winning. Everybody is winning awards and everybody seems to love this show. I don't get it. This show is annoying and not the least bit funny. Do people know what funny is anymore? Seinfeld was funny. The Simpsons are funny. Curb Your Enthusiasm is funny. Everybody Loves Raymond is not funny!!!
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter - Let me start by stating that I never saw a minute of this show while John Ritter was alive. When he suddenly passed away during the filming of an episode a couple of weeks ago, I found myself reading piece after piece about what ABC was going to do with his show in his absence. I read about how 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter was ABC's hightest rated sitcom with a fairly large fan base. I also read that they had three episodes in the can when Jack Tripper kicked the bucket, so I had to give it a shot.
I sat down and watched the season premier of this show with the very long title and it was brutal. I didn't laugh once. I didn't even crack a smile. And what's with the laugh track? According to the studio audience, I was watching The Naked Gun. Will people watch anything these days? Will people laugh at anything these days?
Just say no to mediocre sitcom trash.
Six new videos of James, all taken this afternoon, are now available in Videos. Two of them are footage of James as he watches the opening to The Simpsons. You've got to see James' Homer imitation.
Speaking of Homer, if you weren't aware already, I post a different quote from Homer Simpson every Saturday in Homer's Quote. Check it out.
Having lost two in a row, our Bills are starting to look more like pretenders than contenders. Was that explosive start to the season an illusion? Where's the offense? The Bills managed just 129 net yards of offense through three quarters before Drew Bledsoe closed the gap with a fourth-quarter flourish. That's simply not going to cut it in this league.
Another Blue Jay season has come to an end with eerily similar results. The American League East, a division of five teams, has finished in the exact same order for six consecutive seasons. Once again, our Jays finished in 3rd, but this year there is much reason for optimism. The young Jays are better than they were a year ago. They have a winning record and a couple of all-stars who could very well win the Cy Young and MVP awards. Also, three significant Blue Jay records fell in 2003.
Roy Halladay now owns the Blue Jay record for wins in a season with 22. This passes the record of 21 held by Jack Morris and Roger Clemens. Vernon Wells now owns the Blue Jay record for hits in a season with 215. This passes the previous record of 213 held by Tony Fernandez. Not to be outdone, Carlos Delgado has bettered his own Blue Jay record for RBIs in a season with 145, surpassing his 137 from 2000.
Go Jays Go in 2004!
A common pastime for Jay fans is to turn down the volume on the TV and listen to the play by play of Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. Tom and Jerry have been calling Blue Jay games for as long as I've been a fan, and they've always been far superior to the commentators on television. It had been a while since I've done this, but with a couple of Jays pursuing team records, today seemed the ideal day to revisit this old custom.
It didn't fly. For some reason, there was a lengthy four second delay between the call on the radio and the visual on the television. I would actually hear the results of the play before seeing the pitch delivered. I remember a subtle half-second difference between the two as a kid, but never anything close to this. Such a delay on the television side made it impossible to enjoy Tom and Jerry's call of the game. Write your MP and demand an obliteration of this sinful four second delay.
"Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat."
- Mark Twain
I'm proud to declare that all pages within torontomike.com conform to the W3C XHTML 1.0 standard. That means these web pages are now full-fledged XML documents, which can be validated using any XML parser. Go ahead and click that XHTML 1.0 logo to the left and see for yourself.
In a previous blog entry (see August 25, 2003 / 16:03 EST), I ranted and raved about my attempts to validate my HTML 4.01 code for torontomike.com. HTML 4.01 was the standard before XHTML 1.0. The future, it seems, is XML and since XHTML is XML-based, and ultimately designed to work in conjunction with XML-based user agents, it was really the only way to go as I saw it. I promise future blog entries will be slightly less boring.
Carlos Delgado hit four straight home runs vs the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night at SkyDome. He's the first Blue Jay to do so and only the 15th player in the history of Major League baseball to accomplish the feat. Furthermore, he's only the sixth player ever to homer in four straight at-bats.
A night for the ages for Delgado, but as my brother Stephen wrote me this morning, "Delgado forgets how to play when the heat is on! But, when the heat is off, LOOK OUT!!"
Here's the complete list of the "4-in-1" club: Bobby Lowe, Boston 1894, Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia 1896, Lou Gehrig, New York 1932, Chuck Klein, Philadelphia 1936, Pat Seerey, Chicago 1948, Gil Hodges, Brooklyn 1950, Joe Adcock, Milwaukee 1954, Rocky Colavito, Cleveland 1959, Willie Mays, San Francisco 1961, Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia 1976, Bob Horner, Atlanta 1986, Mark Whiten, St. Louis 1993, Mike Cameron, Seattle 2002, Shawn Green, Los Angeles 2002, Carlos Delgado, Toronto 2003.
As I mentioned in my blog entry of August 21st (read it), I tore the meniscus in my left leg back on July 27th. Or so I thought... It turns out my injury was misdiagnosed!
According to the doctor's report based on an MRI of my left knee, I fractured "the anterior aspect of the medial tibial plateau". How they missed this fracture on the x-ray I took that night I'll never know. On top of that, I also tore my ACL. This may explain the immense pain and prayers for a quick death.
I've been avoiding strenuous use of my left leg for six weeks now and I've been ordered to continue doing so for at least another six weeks. There goes my annual ski trip to Aspen.
The other day, Taryn and I were watching TV when we saw a PSA about bullies in the school yard. This sparked a brief discussion about what we would tell James if he was being tormented by a bully. Right on cue, I went into a dialogue about how I'd teach James to fight dirty because "we Boons sometimes have to bend the rules a little in order to hold our own". I even did my best Homer and threw in a little "and there's nothing wrong with hitting someone when his back is turned". These references, obviously, are to Bart the General, an episode of The Simpsons from their first season.
This discussion was taking place as we awaited the beginning of an episode of The Simpsons. As the clock hit 10:28, I quickly turned the channel to WUTV. As if the Simpsons gods were smiling down upon us, guess which episode we were in store for? Bart the General, the very same episode I had just finished quoting. Out of over 300 episodes, we were about to enjoy Bart the General. How was this possible? It's not as if the PSA on bullies was on the same channel. Some would chalk this up to coincidence, but I'm not sure. Some things are greater than you or I. Some things are cosmic.
There goes the 16-0 season. Ricky Williams ran all over us and we managed just 118 yards of total offense. The Bills' only points came on Nate Clements' 54-yard interception return. Lets not make this a habit. It was ugly.
How bad was it? It forced me to visit the Prime Time Emmys to watch Everybody Loves Raymond win yet another award. And what's up with that? Not everybody loves Raymond. I don't even like him. That show is such an average comedy yet it seems to clean up come award time. If you want funny, watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. A friend of mine has made every episode available to download.
I have a beef with long distance providers in Canada. Our household makes only a few long distance calls each month, all within Canada. We were on a plan with a small telecommunications re-seller, paying 7¢ a minute for these calls no matter when the call was placed. This was perfect for us, as we only paid for what we used. Our long distance bill was often as low as $4 a month.
One day out of the blue, we received a letter indicating that we would be paying a $2.95 monthly network fee in addition to the per-minute fee. This hardly seems far, does it? Why would we have to pay this $2.95 monthly network fee in addition to our regular rates? Even if we place no long distance calls in a given month, we would still be charged $2.95.
Unhappy with what I perceive to be a hidden cash grab, I began to look elsewhere. Primus seemed to have what I was looking for. Their "Dime Anytime" plan promised "10¢ per minute anytime to anywhere in Canada" with "No monthly fees". You can see for yourself. A month passed and my first Primus bill arrived in my inbox and what did I see tucked in amidst the calling details? A $2.95 monthly network fee. Apparently, Primus doesn't regard such a charge as a monthly fee. It's a network fee, as if that's somehow different. They'll call it marketing. I call it intentional deception.
I've checked with every long distance provider I could find, and every single one of them is charging this bogus $2.95 fee. Furthermore, most plans have an additional monthly fee in exchange for lower per minute rates. I'm now on the First Rate 24 plan with Bell that is 7¢ a minute anywhere within North America at any time. They've promised to waive the $4.95 monthly fee for at least 12 months, but they refuse to waive the $2.95 monthly network fee. I just don't get it...
"You don't need no gun control. You know what you need? Bullet control. I think all bullets should cost $5000. You know why? If a bullet cost $5000 there'd be no more innocent bystanders."
- Chris Rock
As I write this, the remnants of Hurricane Isabel are hitting the GTA. It's dark, rainy and extremely windy...up to 76 km/h they say. Other than about 10,000 people losing power, it's nothing to fear from where I'm sitting. Isabel has clearly run out of steam.
I have a rather strange obsession. It's with the Freeplay Ranger, a wind-up, solar and rechargeable powered radio. Sure, it's only an AM/FM radio, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for months now. Admittedly, I have a strange fascination with the radio (see July 24, 2003 / 10:51 EST), but the Freeplay Ranger will play for approximately 35 minutes per 30-second wind, and can be rewound at any time for as much playtime as you want. The sunlight charging feature is a bonus. I simply love the concept of a self-sufficient radio.
So why haven't I gone out and bought myself this new toy? I can't find it anywhere. Coleman is carrying it in the USA, but not in Canada. Radioshack and Home Hardware were supposed to be carrying it, but when I talk to them they plead ignorance. I've found a couple of places online that will ship it, but some place in the GTA must carry this sucker. If you know where I could pick up the Freeplay Ranger, I will forever be in your debt.
Those of you who follow this Blog have come across a couple of references to the Smells Like Sour franchise. I pondered what tunes would comprise SLS9 here and revealed the final songlist for SLS9 here. I even maintain the SLS Database here.
For those of you just joining us, Smells Like Sour is basically 80 minutes of what the SLS committee deems to be the best tunage of the previous six months. SLS is "released" just prior to Canada Day and Christmas Day each year.
Finally, Smells Like Sour has an official home page. From this page you can access the songs that have appeared on the first nine installments and suggest a song for #10. You can even comment on the current submissions. Click here now for the new and improved Smells Like Sour homepage and get on the bus.
Today marked the official opening of North America's first legal safe-injection site at 139 East Hastings St. in Vancouver, B.C. It will be staffed by 16 nurses, four alcohol and drug counsellors and peer counsellors. At the injection site, addicts get clean needles and inject themselves at small booths in a room supervised by a nurse. After shooting up, they go to a "chill-out room" before returning to the streets. Up to 800 people are expected to use the facility each day.
Already upset over Ottawa's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, this facility has been criticized by U.S. officials who say it is an example of Canada becoming lax in the battle against illegal drugs. Once again, the needle's point has been missed.
Those addicted to heroin are sufferers of a dehabilitating disease. Many will overdose and die. Up to 40 percent of these addicts have HIV or AIDS and 90 percent have hepatitis C. Allowing people to inject in a clean place and with ready access to medical help will reduce the spread of these diseases and dramatically reduce accidental overdose deaths. This isn't about legalizing heroin and crack, this is about saving lives. "It is not I who become addicted, it is my body." - Jean Cocteau
I could get used to this. Another game, another blow out for the good guys. I can't tell you what a joy it is to sit down and watch the Bills without that pansy Rob Johnson at the helm. In Drew we trust...
Again, Drew Bledsoe looked impressive throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Although not on his game, Travis Henry was money in the red zone running for three scores. All in all it was another very convincing win for a sweet and tidy 2-0 start to the campaign. Next week we squish the fish.
"How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man."
- Johnny Cash
As is my daily ritual, I was listening to the radio while taking a shower this morning. The news brief opened with word of John Ritters surprising death at 54. Following this piece of information, I heard there was another death to mourn in the celebrity world. Johnny Cash had passed away. Even though I knew he was dying, my heart sank.
The Man in Black really struck a chord with me. He sang for the working man and downtrodden. He sang for the prisoners and the hurt. If you do nothing else today, watch his video for the Nine Inch Nails classic "Hurt". As Trent Reznor said upon first hearing this cover, the song was written for Johnny Cash to sing at this point in his life. Watch it here. Watch it now.
"That some good can be derived from every event is a better proposition than that everything happens for the best, which it assuredly does not."
- James K. Feibleman
I applaud the Leaf's signing of Joe Nieuwendyk. I only wonder what took them so long. Nieuwendyk is a tremendous two-way player with three Stanley Cup rings with three different teams. The Leafs are a better team with him as our number two center.
Of course, our greatest need is on the blue line. With the departure of Glen Wesley and Jyrki Lumme, the leg injury to Bryan McCabe and the mysterious virus affecting Karel Pilar, our opening day defensemen may look something like this: Tomas Kaberle, Bryan Marchment, Aki Berg, Rik Jackman, Wade Belak and Carlo Colaiacovo. For depth there's Anders Eriksson and Brenden Bell. We're in some serious trouble my friends...
One final word on Doug Gilmour's retirement. No other player on this planet played with the grit and passion Gilmour displayed day in and day out while with the Toronto Maple Leafs. #93 exemplified what it means to play for God's team, and in one exhilerating moment on May 3rd, 1993, he sent an entire city strait to heaven. It was game one of the Norris Division Finals at Maple Leaf Gardens. Gilmour takes the puck behind the net and scores a brilliant wrap-around goal against Cujo at 3:16 of the second overtime period. The Leafs win 2-1. Some of us are still riding that high...
A whopping 6 new pictures of James from his adventure in British Columbia are now posted in Pictures.
Did you know British Columbia's provincial motto is "splendour without diminishment"? Learn more useless facts about this province to the west here.
In a mere 15 minutes from now, my all-time favourite Maple Leaf is set to announce his retirement from the NHL. Doug Gilmour set Toronto records in 1992-93 with 95 assists and 127 points, helped the Maple Leafs reach the Western Conference finals in 1993 and '94 and served as captain from 1994-97.
The Kingston, Ontario native will end his career with the blue and white having scored 450 goals and 964 assists for 1,414 points in 1,474 games. I will continue to wear my #93 jersey with pride. There was no better Leaf in my life time. Farewell Dougie.
Now that's what I call redemption. Lets hope this is an omen for the Bills 2003 season. 16-0 sounds more than reasonable to me.
I thought Drew Bledsoe had a solid game and the new-look Bills defense was dominant. Lawyer Milloy caused an interception, had a sack and recorded five tackles, Takeo Spikes had two interceptions and six tackles, and Sam Adams had a 37 yard interception return.
I've just arrived back from Edgefest 2003. Before I give a brief review of the six bands I saw, I'd like to reflect on the fact this was the last ever concert at Molson Park in Barrie, appropriately enough labelled "Last Bash in Barrie". Apparently the park is going to be made into yet another strip mall. That's a shame, because I've enjoyed many a spectacular concert at this venue. If you were to ask me what my favourite concert venue is, the answer would be Molson Park in Barrie. I'm seriously going to miss the ol' dust bowl. But I digress...
Fefe Dobson - Fefe was the newcomer to the Edgefest lineup. Although her current single "Bye Bye Boyfriend" gets plenty of air play, I didn't know what to expect from this young Torontonian. She was surprisingly good. Polished and tight, she won me over fairly quickly.
Sloan - What can I say about Sloan? I've loved Sloan from the first moment I heard "Underwhelmed" in the early '90s. It wasn't my first time seeing Sloan, and they were great as usual. As far as I'm concerned, these Haligonians can do no wrong. I only wish they would play something from Smeared.
Stereophonics - Out of necessity (they were missing their drummer), the Stereophonics performed a stripped-down acoustic set. I'm far from their biggest fan, so this fact lacked a certain significance to me. The coolest factoid about this band from South Wales is that they were originally called Tragic Love Company, partly because of their fondness for our very own Tragically Hip. Under blue skies and very close to the stage, their unplugged performance was quite pleasant.
Finger Eleven - This is a band that sounds better and better each time I see them. Tonight they rocked hard. "Good Times" is proving to be one hell of a closer for their live shows. Burlington should be proud.
Our Lady Peace - This was my second time seeing OLP and I consider myself a pretty big fan. Their entire performance was awesome. Even the two new songs they introduced had the crowd singing along by the second verse. Highlights include "Naveed" with "Life" inserted during the break down and the crowd-sung "4am". Any other Edgefest and Toronto's Our Lady Peace would have been your headliner. Setlist: All For You, Whatever, Superman's Dead, Naveed (Life), Innocent, Is Anybody Home?, Wipe That Smile Off Your Face, Walking in Circles, Birdman, Clumsy, 4 AM, Somewhere Out There, Starseed.
The Tragically Hip - To say I'm a big Hip fan would probably be understating it somewhat. I've now managed to see the Hip six times since new year's eve 1999. I simply can't get enough of this band from Kingston, Ontario. I love every track on every CD and every chord live is a blessing. As usual, the Hip were killer. There was no better way to say goodbye to Molson Park than with the Hip rocking out with "Little Bones". There's a reason this is my favourite band of all time. Hip! Hip! Hip! Hip! Hip! Hip!
Setlist: Fire In The Hole, Grace Too, Poets, Dare Devil, Silver Jet, Boots or Hearts, Looking For A Place To Happen, Nautical Disaster, Ballroom, 100th Meridian, Springtime In Vienna, Joe, Locked In A Trunk Of A Car, Wheat Kings, New Orleans Is Sinking, 50 Mission Cap, Puttin' Down, Little Bones.
"I left your house this morning about a quarter after nine.
Coulda been the Willie Nelson, coulda been the wine.
When I left your house this morning, it was a little after nine.
It was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time."
- The Tragically Hip, Bobcaygeon
It's hard to believe it's only been 3 days since Ernie Eves dissolved Parliament and called a provincial election for October 2nd. Three days of campaigning and I'm already incredibly sick of the three leaders plying for our votes. Do we really have to endure an entire month of this?
And really, could our three choices have names that are any geekier? With all due respect, Dalton, Howard and Ernie are amongst the nerdiest names we have. It's enough to make you miss Mike Harris.
Fellow members of Hooray for Everything are probably wondering how to get to our softball page now that the permanent link has been removed from the left in favour of the new Google search field. Rest assured, the official Hooray for Everything home page is still being maintained and can be found here. You can permanently book mark our softball page at http://www.torontomike.com/softball.html.
Neil, I don't have your email address so please send a note. Good luck on Sunday.
Universal Music Canada announced today they're instituting a $14.98 maximum suggested list price on all its top line CDs and a $9.99 price tag for developing new artists. It seems somebody at Universal finally woke up and realized high retail prices have been driving today's youth towards person to person file sharing networks for the past half-decade.
Lower prices is a start, but I say it's too little, too late. CDs have been grossly over-priced for far too long. Today's typical music lover prefers to download 80 minutes of solid tunage via the Internet to burn on an 80 cent CD over shelling out $20 for the three singles he/she really wants.
I suggest all record labels unite and begin selling individual songs over the Internet for no more than 99 cents a song. I want a website for one-stop-shopping. I log in, build my customized CD with the songs I want, pay via credit card and choose to access the MP3s or have the CD pressed and shipped to me for a reasonable surcharge. In 2003, this is the only way to go.
Bright's Grove, Ontario's Mike Weir is having the best season of his career. Weir won this year's Masters, is fifth on the PGA Tour money list and sixth in the world rankings. Everything is in order for Weir to become the first Canadian to win the Canadian Open since 1954.
Follow Weir in his pursuit of the national open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club here. Go Mike Go!
The Toronto Blue Jays just unveiled their new logo.
In a previous blog entry I hoped the new logo would be a return to our standard logo from the glory days. This new logo certainly isn't that. It seems they've completely done away with incorporating the word "Blue" into the logo and are just going with the zippier "Jays". The colour scheme is a rather slick silver and blue. As much as I want to, I simply don't hate the new look. In fact, I rather like it. I suppose anything is better than the current steriod-induced blue jay peering out from around the big red T.
MTV2 in the USA just aired a countdown of the "22 Greatest Bands" since MTV's inception in '81. It's quite the list. They didn't get it perfect, but came much closer than I expected. The fact MTV2 airs only in America excuses the lack of Canadian bands like The Tragically Hip and Our Lady Peace. The most glaring omissions otherwise are Soundgarden, Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots. I can't be the only one who can't name a single Phish song, can I?
In alphabetical order, here's the entire list: Aerosmith, Alice In Chains, The Cure, Dave Matthews Band, Green Day, Guns N' Roses, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, No Doubt, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Phish, R.E.M., Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and Van Halen.
Why is it that Canada has such difficulty convincing its few NBA players to play for their nation? Last night we lost a berth in the 2004 Olympic Games when we fell to Puerto Rico by a score of 66-79.
Where was Jamaal Magloire, Rick Fox or even Carl English? As it was, only one Canadian NBA player gave up his summer to help us qualify for the next summer Olympic games. When an American player is invited to join the USA basketball team, they're honoured to represent their country. When a Canadian hockey player is invited to play for the red and white when the best is taking on the best, they too drop all for the cause. Why is Canadian basketball the exception?
We won't be in Athens, but don't place the blame on Steve Nash. This man is a Canadian basketball god and single handedly carried our team into the final four. This product of Victoria, BC is far and away the greatest basketball player our nation has ever produced. We're not worthy.
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