January 2004 Archives

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Recognizing the Call

Recognizing the CallDuring the first period of the Leafs game tonight, I let James play with my Freeplay Ranger. My Freeplay Ranger is a radio I carry around the house and James enjoys sitting with it and tuning in different stations. He gets awfully excited when pulls in a new station and he starts banging his head and dancing to a particularly upbeat rock song.

At one point he switched from FM to AM and brought in the Leaf game. After hearing Joe Bowen call the game for approximately six seconds he got a huge smile on his face and looked at me to exclaim "Hockey Daddy! Hockey!".

I knew he's been able to identify hockey on television by the visual for many months now, but I had no idea he's be able to identify it so quickly on the radio. All I know is at that moment I was a very proud papa.

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Maple Leafs 5, Senators 1

Go Leafs Go!Awesome, simply awesome. What a great game. This one was entertaining from start to finish as the Maple Leafs extended their division lead over the Ottawa Senators to three points with a convincing victory at the ACC.

Lets talk about special teams for a moment. This is where the Leafs absolutely dominated. They scored four power play goals in seven opportunities while killing penalty after penalty. The Senators are known for their great power play, so when the parade of blue and white to the penalty box began, I was concerned. In the end we managed to kill 10 of 11 penalties with the only goal coming while down two men. On both sides of the coin, the Leafs put on a special teams clinic.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
29-13-8-3
69 points
5-1 Win vs. Ottawa Senators M. Sundin - 50
G. Roberts - 33
J. Nieuwendyk - 30

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I've Seen a Movie Nominated For Best Picture!

I've Seen a Nominated MovieWhen the Academy Award Nominees were announced on Tuesday, the first thing I noticed was that I hadn't seen a single movie nominated for Best Picture. Pathetic, eh?

And the nominees for Best Picture are...

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Lost in Translation
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
  • Mystic River
  • Seabiscuit

I'm pleased to announce this is no longer the case. I've just seen my first movie on that list of nominees. We just watched Seabiscuit and it was damn good. It was Rudy with horse racing in place of football. Actually, it was much better than Rudy, but it had that Rudy feel to it. Rudy may not have been a great movie, but I could watch it over and over again. I never get tired of that ending, in fact, I get weepy just thinking about it. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

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The Best Super Bowls Ever

Best Super Bowls EverYesterday, it was suggested that I list the top five Super Bowls ever as my Friday Five. I didn't, but I did surf the web to find a list of the top 7 Super Bowls of all time as compiled by Rush Magazine. It's a pretty decent list, so I'll post it here and then make a few comments.

  1. Super Bowl III - Jets 16, Colts 7
  2. Super Bowl XXXIV - Rams 23, Titans 16
  3. Super Bowl XXXVI Patriots 20, Rams 17
  4. Super Bowl XXV Giants 20, Bills 19
  5. Super Bowl XIV Steelers 31, Rams 19
  6. Super Bowl XIII Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
  7. Super Bowl XXIII 49ers 20, Bengals 16

To be fair, here's how Rush Magazine justified their number one choice.

If you've ever been amazed at what you just saw in a football game, you can relate it to this dandy. It didn't end with a miraculous play, and there isn't some overwhelming statistic that you can hang out there that will never ever be taken down... but holy Lombardi's, this was the birth of football. Broadway Joe, calling the win. Calling the win, against the mighty Colts! It just wasn't going to happen!

If you were around then, you'd remember thinking what an idiot this man was to be not only digging his own grave, but bringing a bathtub and a toaster with him. You then watched in head-shaking, head-numbing, head-warping disbelief as you gradually understood that he was going to pull it off. He knew. He just knew. And after that game, we all knew.

In my humble opinion, nothing has surpassed Super Bowl XXXIV in terms of pure excitement. The Tennessee Titans trailed the Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams by seven with six seconds left in the game. Steve McNair was in the red zone, 10 yards from a tie score and overtime. The pass was to Kevin Dyson whose outstretched arm fell a yard short as time expired. I remember watching this one at a house party and you could hear a pin drop during this final play. I think there was a unified "F*ck Off" or "No F*cking Way" when we realized Dyson missed it by this much.

Best. Super Bowl. Ever.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesSuper Bowl Urban Legends - In the spirit of Super Bowl weekend, this link from Snopes presents "a review of some of the more commonly-known legends associated with the Super Bowl". Are two-thirds of all avocados sold in the USA bought within three weeks of Super Bowl Sunday? Visit this link to find out.

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Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl CommercialsEvery year a big deal is made about the commercials that debut during the Super Bowl telecast. It's when companies spare no expense to make the biggest bang in front of televisions largest audience. Every year we hear this hype in Canada and miss out on all the fun.

You see, in Canada, the broadcast rights are purchased from CBS by CanWest Global Communications Corp. who air it on Global TV. In order to make a profit on their investment, Global TV sells their commercial time mutually exclusive of CBS. So while CBS is debuting all the really cool commercials that are often more exciting than game, few of them are sold to Global TV. I expect to see promo after promo for Friends/Survivor/Malcolm in the Middle and the rest of the shows bought by Global TV. Commercials will probably be the same ol' boring ones we're used to seeing during episodes of The Simpsons. I can hardly wait.

What ticks me off this year is the fact I'll be missing a 30-second MasterCard ad that is set to premier on CBS during the Super Bowl. The star of the commercial is Homer Simpson himself. The New York Post has a pretty detailed description of the ad if you want to see how MasterCard will use my hero to sell their service.

Thankfully, in this Internet age I don't anticipate waiting long to see Homer's ad or the other entertaining commericals Americans will see during the game. They'll be available online somewhere I'm sure. What an age we live in.

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Maple Leafs 4, Thrashers 1

Go Leafs Go!The defining moment of this entertaining game game late in the second period when Patrik Stefan unleashed a wicked slap shot coming down left wing. Trevor Kidd got part of it, then turned around in time to bat the puck out of the air as it was fluttering toward the net. It was awesome and was followed very quickly by Alexei Ponikarovsky's go-ahead goal and the Leafs never looked back.

A glance at the Eastern Conference standings show the blue and white back on top but only by a single point over the Ottawa Senators who have a game in hand. That makes tonight's game all the more important. We're still missing Alexander Mogilny, Owen Nolan, Darcy Tucker, Tom Fitzergerald, Wade Belak and Mikael Renberg, but it should be a good test nonetheless.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
28-13-8-3
67 points
4-1 Win vs. Atlanta Thrashers M. Sundin - 47
G. Roberts - 31
J. Nieuwendyk - 30

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"When I look at the smiles on all the children's faces...I just know they're about to jab me with something."

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Spanking

Spanking LawsThe Supreme Court of Canada upheld "spanking" laws earlier today. This law permits the use of "reasonable" physical force to discipline children. Basically, Canadians can spank their child within reason and not face criminal charges.

Prior to having children, Taryn and I discussed this very topic and our beliefs when it comes to corporal punishment. At the time, I remember us agreeing that a spank on the bum was okay under certain circumstances. The childless version of myself felt it was perfectly acceptable to discipline in this fashion. So long as it was on the behind, I had absolutely no problem with it.

Approximately five minutes after becoming a father, this entire philosophy changed. James is now two years old and I've never struck him in any manner nor will I. I can't imagine striking his bottom as a corrective action, even with a light tap. I had to become a father to realize how barbaric this practice really is. I simply no longer believe it to be an effective method of punishment. Even the thought of spanking James upsets me.

James is disciplined, and when he misbehaves he's threatened with a time-out. Should punishment be necessary, and luckily James is a wonderful child so this is rather rare, he is given a time-out. A time-out consists of him sitting in a chair in the corner of the room for forty seconds. After a time-out, James never reoffends. He gets the message immediately. Time-outs I can live with. Spankings I can't.

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Tickets to Conan

ConanAs I've written previously, Conan O'Brien is bringing his talk show to my fair city for four shows in February. Those who wanted tickets were invited to send an email to NBC and winners were randomly selected. I entered but didn't luck out in the draw. My brother Steve did and now has two tickets to the taping of "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" at the Elgin Theatre.

Who will he take with the second ticket? It is I who joined him for Conan O'Brien at 12:30 in the morning every night for an entire summer. It is I who sat beside him while we watched musical guests Barenaked Ladies and Weezer. I laughed with him during "The Year 2000" and that gag where they drove his desk. Logically, he'll take me, right?

I just spoke to him and I've made the final two. He's going to offer them to his girlfriend first and if she passes I'm there. Vanessa, if you're reading this, I strong advise you to be unavailable that afternoon. Being unavailable may be good for your health. Wink, wink.

Guests for the four Toronto shows are Mike Myers, Michael J. Fox, Ron James, Eric McCormack, Barenaked Ladies, Nickelback and Stompin' Tom Conners. The only non-Canadian scheduled thus far is Adam Sandler.

I'll share in this space the winner of the Steve Boon Conan O'Brien tickets sweepstakes. Cross your fingers for me.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Mike I still think your Friday Five's are lame. This is the greatest football weekend of the year and I thought you would be able to come up with a good super bowl 5 of some kind

     Paul Catterall

I strongly considered posting the five best Super Bowl's, but thoughts of Scott Norwood kicking wide-right cause me to break out in a serious rash. It's quite uncomfortable.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Now would be a great time to trade the injury prone (well paid) star. The raptors might even get a couple of players who want to play with a little injury.

     Anonymous

If you had brought up the subject of trading Vince Carter a couple of years ago, I would have laughed in your face. Perhaps I'd have pulled the deal for Shaq and Kobe, but otherwise the idea of trading Air Canada was unfathomable.

Today, I must admit he's no longer untradable. The injuries are becoming a factor and it's looking less and less likely he's the second coming of Air Jordon. I wouldn't want to give him away, but I'd trade him for a couple of durable stars with heart.

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveEnough of you hated my Favourite Fruit Friday Five enough to write me, so I'm posting a bonus Friday Five. To quote one email I received, "This weeks Friday 5 was lame-o. Fruits, you couldn't think of anything better, Come on now, I'm so disappointed." Not that I owe you an explanation, but I've been busy. Chew on this one for a while.

My Favourite Ed Norton Movies

  1. Fight Club
  2. American History X
  3. The People V. Larry Flynt
  4. The Score
  5. Primal Fear

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy Favourite Fruit

  1. Oranges
  2. Green Grapes
  3. Apples
  4. Water Melon
  5. Bananas

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Mr. Popular

Mr. PopularVince Carter received 2,127,183 votes and will once again start at forward for the Eastern Conference in the 53rd All-Star Game on February 15th. It is the fourth straight time Carter has been the league's top vote-getter. Michael Jordan and Julius Erving are the only others to receive the most votes at least three times.

Talk about Mr. Popular. His last two years have been injury plagued, yet he still received more votes than any other player in the league. More than Allen Iverson, more than Shaquille O'Neal and more than Yao Ming. I'm a huge Vince Carter fan, don't get me wrong, I was there when he single-handedly scorched the Suns by dropping in 51 in our first ever NBC game, but how is it that he remains this popular? He's not just popular, he's in Michael Jordon and Dr. J territory. He hasn't won an NBA championship, in fact, he's only won one playoff series ever, you can't claim he's the best player in the league and he doesn't play in a huge US market, he plays in Canada. It's miraculous when you think about it.

I'm happy for Vince and ecstatic as a Raptors fan, but his popularity astounds me.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesNES Sports Bloopers - I owned an 8-bit NES game console. My brothers and I would play till our fingers bled and a number of the games we loved were sports games. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this sports blooper movie.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

And what about Mr. Dressup? have we all forgotten Mr. Dressup?

go leafs go!

     Anonymous

What about Mr. Dressup? I spent countless hours as a youngin' watching Mr. Dressup on TV. Casey and Finnegan were two of my closest friends, as pathetic as that sounds. I certainly haven't forgotten him.

Are you referring to my blog entry following the death of Captain Kangaroo in which I reminisced over the shows from my childhood? I listed some of the shows I loved and I definitely mentioned Mr. Dressup. See for yourself.

And to be frank, I resent the implication that I would overlook Mr. Dressup. I cherished every moment we spent together and I will never, ever forget him or his tickle trunk. If I had my druthers, I'd put him on the new $100 bill.

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The Thermostat Shuffle

The Thermostat ShuffleIt's become a "thing" Taryn and I do. We've been doing it for eight years now, so we've become rather good at it. It's so rhythmic it's almost like dancing. She gets a turn than I get a turn than she gets another turn and so on and so on. This routine continues all winter long. I'm referring to what I call The Thermostat Shuffle.

Whenever we're both home at the same time, one of us is unhappy with the setting of the thermostat. Taryn turns it up a degree or two and shortly thereafter I turn it back down. When Taryn gets home the first thing she does is increase the room temperature. If I get home after her, one of my first actions is to lower the heat. We've got this down to a fine art. It's sort of romantic, really. The Thermostat Shuffle has become a dependable event in an ever-changing world.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Re : Your Super Bowl Entry..

Unless it's pretty obvious, don't bail early on this game. There's only a 7-point spread, and both teams (if I remember correctly) are known for come-from-behind heroics. It should be a good game!

     Michael Hollick

Who am I kidding, I'll be watching on Sunday, I'm just saying the match up isn't ideal. I can't find that slant that pulls me in when I don't have an obvious rooting interest. I'm fairly indifferent to both teams. At least the Carolina Panthers have He Hate Me, that's kind of cool.

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Super Bowl XXXVIII

Super Bowl XXXVIIISunday is Super Bowl XXXVIII. The AFC Champion New England Patriots are taking on the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers in Houston, Texas. I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself.

Sarcasm doesn't translate well to the written word. I should point out the aforementioned expression of my excitement was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek. I don't find this match-up intriguing in the least. There's nothing I can sink my teeth into. Where's the interesting angle? Where's the rooting interest? I don't give a rat's ass about these two teams.

Admittedly, I'm not the world's biggest football fan. It ranks as my fourth favourite sport to watch on television and follow in the papers. Still, I typically get pretty up around Super Bowl Sunday. This year, not so much. I'll probably still watch, but only in the hopes it's an exciting game that comes down to the wire. If a team goes up by more than two possessions, I might bail.

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New Ticket Stub Added

New Ticket Stub AddedI've been keeping the ticket stubs from concerts and sporting events I've attended over the years. I don't get to many these days, but when I do I post a scan of the ticket stub in Ticket Stubs.

I just added the stub from the Leafs game I attended on January 20th.

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Pop-Ups Killed

Pop Up KilledIt's been a while since I've been annoyed by a pop-up window. It used to be my web browsing experience was greatly detrimented by the presence of pop-up windows, a most annoying advertising ploy used by evil webmasters. I was content killing the pop-up windows as they arose until Google introduced their "popup blocker" as part of their latest toolbar release several months ago. Since then, I haven't seen a single one.

With effective pop-up killer applications available for free left, right and centre, one must wonder by web authors are still using them. I don't believe they ever worked to begin with and they certainly don't work when most web surfers never see them. Even if you're not using the popup blocker that is part of the Google Toolbar, you're likely using the one that comes with the Yahoo! Companion Toolbar or other free applications. Aren't you?

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Gord Martineau

Gord MartineauIt seems like Gord Martineau's been around forever. For as long as I can remember he's been anchoring the six o'clock news on CityTV. He's become a Toronto institution.

Poor Gordo made some off-colour remarks between takes of a promo that was recorded and leaked to the Internet the other day. There used to be links to the offending material, but Frank Magazine took them down upon receiving a letter from the lawyers. CFNY Edge 102 was playing the clips all morning yesterday, and I can vouch they were pretty funny. Martineau called co-anchor Anne Mroczkowski a "f*cking bint", cracked off about pancreas transplants and made a "homo" joke about Roch Voisine. He also enjoyed making a few references to little Gord.

As far as I'm concerned, what these guys say when they're not being broadcast makes no difference. You've got to maintain a sense of humour and a joke or two is good for on-the-job stress. Sure, it's best to keep the humour PC when you're being taped and are a television personality, but we're none of us perfect. For what it's worth, he's already issued the obligatory apology.

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Bill Clinton's Email

Bill Clinton's EmailBill Clinton was President of the United States of America from 1992 to 2000. It was during his two terms that the Internet came of age and email became a common means of communication amongst his citizens. Today, less than four years after Clinton left office, everyone and their grandmother has an email account and is on the web.

With this in mind, how many emails would you guess Bill Clinton sent while in office? No less than 40,000 emails sent by Bill and his staff are being archived at the Bill Clinton presidential library, but how many did he actually send? The answer is two. One was a test to see if Bubba knew how to send an email and another was an email to John Glenn when he was part of the space shuttle crew orbiting the earth praising his return to space after almost 40 years.

I found this little fact fascinating. Bill Clinton managed to lead America for eight years and in all that time only sent two emails. That is, of course, assuming he didn't have a Yahoo! or Hotmail account for more personal exchanges.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Re : Your Street Names Entry..

As an FYI, Bovaird Drive is also Hwy 7..

go Figure...

     Mr Lyon/Vash

Yep, and Don Mills Road suddenly becomes Leslie Street at John Street. Go figure indeed.

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Courtney Love

Courtney LoveI thought I'd check how Courtney Love's court appearance went yesterday and I'm glad I did.

The Associated Press had a great photo of her. Do yourself a favour this morning and check it out.

Feel free to read more about my immense dislike for Courtney Love.

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Maple Leafs 0, Hurricanes 2

Go Leafs Go!Pure shite. You have to beat the Carolina Hurricanes on your home ice. We missed a glorious opportunity to register our fourth win in a row. Sure, Kevin Weekes had a strong game between the pipes but that doesn't excuse allowing a short handed goal and giving away the second goal on a arrant pass by Tomas Kaberle.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
27-13-8-3
65 points
2-0 Loss vs. Carolina Hurricanes M. Sundin - 47
G. Roberts - 30
O. Nolan - 28

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NME Awards 2004

NME Awards 2004The NME Awards 2004 nominations were unveiled earlier today. NME seems to have their finger on the pulse of good tunage so I always look forward to who's nominated each year.

Here are the nominees for Best Single.

  • The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
  • Radiohead - "There There"
  • The Darkness - "I Believe In A Thing Called Love"
  • The Libertines - "Don't Look Back In To The Sun"
  • Outkast - "Hey Ya!"

Here are the nominees for Best International Band.

  • The Strokes
  • Kings Of Leon
  • The White Stripes
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Foo Fighters

Here are the nominees for Best UK Band.

  • Radiohead
  • The Darkness
  • Coldplay
  • Muse
  • The Libertines

See why I like these nominations so much. There's a load of good stuff being celebrated. Pretty close to bang on, especially for a UK publication.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceJack Paar was 85. He pioneered late-night talk as host of "The Tonight Show".

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Mars

MarsI love checking out the latest photos being taken on Mars. NASA's second rover, Opportunity, is now sending numerous pix back to Earth and they're awesome.

A buddy, Mark Carey, has begun a blog from the Rover's point of view. It's also got a pretty cool collection of pictures from Mars. You've got to check them out.

It's worth noting Mark's Mars blog got him a mention in a New York Times article today. Even though they erroneously state his occupation as graphic designer, it's still pretty cool. Where the hell is my New York Times mention? When will they quote my blog?

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceJack Tunney was 68. He teamed with Vince McMahon Jr. in 1984 to bring the World Wrestling Federation to Toronto.

As a child, I loved watching WWF wrestling. I remember clearly Billy Red Lyons on CHCH announcing the card coming to Maple Leaf Gardens and it was always brought to us by Jack Tunney.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today in response to her earlier entry today.

Yes, Renee Zellweger is a perfect illustration of my point. At her usual 106 pounds she is underweight for her height, but praised by Hollywood for her "svelt" figure. At her current 126 pounds, she is still at the lower end of her healthy weight range and yet Hollywood deems her "chubby". It's completely ridiculous.

Hollywood's obsession with extreme thinness needs to stop, its influence is much too strong and it makes real women feel inadequate and self-concious about their perfectly normal, healthy bodies. Again, I am tired of it.

     Vanessa

Testify, Vanessa. Testify.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Re: Your Golden Globes blog entry

Seriously, what was with that horrible rendition of "Hey Ya"? I cannot believe that Outkast actually allowed such a great song to be so completely butchered.

I realized while watching the Golden Globes that it is not I that am too fat, but rather Hollywood that is too thin. When did having curves become such a crime? When did eating become a career-ending event? Apparently, it's only okay for Queen Latifa. I for one am tired of it! I impatiently await the day when actually having an ass is considered a good thing.

     Vanessa

What really hits home the weight issue is the big deal everyone makes of the fact Renee Zellweger gained a few pounds to reprise her role as Bridget Jones. We're so used to Hollywood starlets weighing in at 100 pounds we're freaked out when one balloons to a still sexy 130.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Favourites2004 Oscar Nominees - They just unveiled the nominations for the 2004 Academy Awards. You know you're curious. Go ahead, click the link and have a peek. Find out who got slighted and screwed over.

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The Storm Centre

Storm CentreWe're in the midst of the worst snow storm to hit Toronto since 1999. This morning in my car I tuned in 680News for a quick update on the road conditions. The announcer was bragging in all seriousness about how the 680News Storm Centre had been up for 24 hours already. That's right, they had set up this virtual Storm Centre to deal with this blast of typical January weather.

I wonder what setting up the Storm Centre entails exactly. As far as I can tell, it's business as usual with more time devoted to the top story of the morning, our little snow storm. Media outlets like 680News thrive when their listeners in are in a state of fear. Listening to them you'd have thought we were all buried and trapped in our homes living off the food and drink we have stored away. In reality, it's not that bad. Really.

From the torontomike.com Storm Centre, I'm Mike Boon.

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The Trouble With Scott Weiland

Scott WeilandPoor Scott Weiland. Weiland, former lead singer of the now defunct Stone Temple Pilots, was ordered to return to a live-in drug detoxification centre. He's not eligible for release until July. This is just the latest in a long line of legal troubles Weiland has had as a result of his addiction to heroin.

I've always been a big fan of STP. I saw them a few years back and Weiland was electric on stage. I was sorry to hear the band broke up this year and I included their farewell single in my top five of 2003. Unfortunately, the man is seriously addicted to smack and I'm afraid he's not long for this world so long as he keeps falling off the wagon. I've believed this to be the case for a while, even picking him in the Dead Pool my brothers and I drafted back in 2000.

So many musicians I dig have died as a result of a heroin overdose. Brad Nowell, lead singer of Sublime, died of a heroine overdose in '96. Their self-titled third and final release remains one of my favourite discs of all time. Andrew Wood, lead singer of Seattle's Mother Love Bone, died of a heroin overdose just prior to the release of their major label debut in '90. Members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hole and Sex Pistols have all succumbed to a heroin overdose. Layne Staley, lead singer for another of my favourite bands of all-time, Alice in Chains, died two years ago of a heroin overdose. Lest we forget Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana. His death certificate may claim he died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound, but there is no doubt as to the role heroin played in his untimely demise. This was the hardest pill to swallow.

Here's hoping Scott Weiland doesn't join the others in this tragic club. I fear it's already too late. It's just a matter of time before he succeeds.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesKill Bill: Volume 2 Trailer - It's no secret I absolutely loved Kill Bill: Volume 1. I'm counting the days until I can see Kill Bill: Volume 2 with the gift certificates I got for Christmas. Here's the first trailer to whet my appetite.

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Whodathunkit?

Go Leafs Go!Let me get this straight. Nathan Perrott emerged as the fastest skater and hardest shooter in the Toronto Maple Leafs skills competition Sunday. If I were to have guessed who'd be clocked as the fastest skater and hardest shooter, Nathan Perrott would have been way down on my list.

Whodathunkit? Not I, that's for sure.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

I too took quite some time in life to realize what exercise can do for the body as well as the mind. It is one of those things that gives you a good feeling about yourself if you stick to your program. It also allows you the euphoric feeling that having done about 1 hr. of exercise does for you. The best part of it is that I can eat anything I want and not gain weight. Why wouldn't one put up with an hour of something that makes you feel good inside and look good outside and better yet allows you that pizza and pasta or chocolate that you love so much. Being thin as an adult I never realized what I was missing until I gained a few midlife pounds and found this all out the hard way. Everyone who likes themself should do this for themself. Better late than never.

     Mary Boon

I get the sneaking suspicion you're all trying to tell me something. Message received. My Mom's Guest Blog is in response to Vanessa's entry which was in response to Marc's entry from earlier in the week.

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Golden Globes

Golden GlobesThat's it, I'm done with the Golden Globes. To appease the Mrs., I set the VCR to tape "The Simpsons" at 8 last night and watched the Golden Globes instead. The show opened with a horribly cheesy remake of Outkast's "Hey Ya!" with the lyrics changed to remark upon the glamorous stars in attendance. I couldn't believe my ears. "Shake it like a Golden Globe picture". It was atrocious.

Meanwhile, award after award went to people and shows I couldn't care less about (except for "Six Feet Under"'s Frances Conroy) and when it came time to announce the nominees for best comedy I was reminded that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was somehow overlooked. How is that possible? Then, Eddie Vedder lost out and by 10 we turned it off and went to sleep.

That's it for me. I'm just watching the two MTV award shows and perhaps the Brit awards from here on in. I'm finished with the Golden Globes.

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Street Names

ConfusionI was in Brampton earlier today. Going Southbound on Airport Road, I knew I wanted to turn left on Highway 7, so I set my sights on the sign for Highway 7. When it wasn't where I anticipated it would be, I suddenly remembered Highway 7 was called Queen Street in this particular neck of the GTA. Queen Street would become Highway 7 further East.

I wonder how a tourist or someone not born and raised in Toronto manages to navigate our incredibly confusing street naming system. There are numerous examples of streets that go by one name in one area only to become another name without warning. Luckily I knew Queen Street in Brampton became Highway 7, but if I didn't I'd have been lost.

Try explaining to visitors that the Gardiner Expressway is the Queen Elizabeth Way or the Don Valley Parkway is Highway 404. Need to get on Airport Road? Why, that's Dixon don't ya know. Dupont? It's Annette until Dundas Street West. Looking for Highway 10? At this point we call it Hurontario Street. It's a state of confusion.

If you're visiting the GTA, bring your Perly's. You're going to need it.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceFanny Blankers-Koen was 85. She claimed four gold medals at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and was widely considered the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.

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Netiquette

NetiquetteIf I send you an email, I expect a reply. Even if it's just an "OK", "Cool" or "Thanks", I need that follow-up correspondence. I consider it decent cyber citizenship. I rarely get this courtesy from others for some reason.

If I get an email, I make sure to reply promptly. Without a reply, how can one really know the message was received? With all the spam we're getting these days, it's entirely possible good email is getting deleted by mistake. Without a reply I never really know the message was received and read. The only exception to this rule is when I see I'm on some joke distribution list. I don't feel a need to reply to such a message nor would I expect a reply if I were to forward a particularly funny joke.

Since adding this blog to torontomike.com over a year ago, I find myself sending less and less email. If I have something to share, I typically add it to my site whether it be new pictures, videos or an interesting piece of information I've come across. When I do have a question or something to share that isn't fit for public consumption, I use email and expect a reply as confirmation of receipt. Am I the only one who thinks not responding in any way is rude?

There, I feel much better now. Somebody who shall remain nameless hasn't replied to the Optimus Prime email I sent him last week, thus prompting this rant. Hey nameless, did you get it or not? Reply to my damn emails, will ya?

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SLS Submission

SLS SubmissionI've just submitted a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

I submitted "Megalomaniac" by Incubus. I had heard this song about 8 or 9 times during the past week, but yesterday morning upon hearing the opening chords while driving in my car I began to sing it out loud. It was at this moment I knew the song was at least worthy of SLS11 consideration.

Incubus has had a couple of appearances on SLS in the past. "Pardon Me" appeared on SLS4 and "Wish You Were Here" appeared on SLS6.

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Eddie Olczyk's Autograph

The VaultI worked at the CNE for three summers as a teen. At the time, the Hockey Hall of Fame was located on the Ex grounds so for 20 days ever summer I'd be within walking distance of this shrine to Canada's sport.

Periodically, NHL players would sign autographs outside. One morning I read a sign outside the facility claiming Ed Olczyk would be signing autographs that afternoon. I made sure to free myself up to meet Eddie O, the best Leaf at the time.

Eddie O!

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I Found Nemo

Finding NemoJames typically has two requests when it comes to watching DVDs. He wants "Homer Doh!" a.k.a "The Simpsons" or "Nemo" a.k.a "Finding Nemo". We've owned the Finding Nemo DVD for well over a month now, and James has seen it countless times, but I've never actually sat down to watch it. This morning we watched it together.

The kid has good taste. I thought it was pretty damn good. I'm glad I finally found Nemo. He's no Homer, but entertaining nevertheless.

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"Keaton once said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."
      - Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects

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Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1

Go Leafs Go!A convincing victory over our storied rivals has given the Leafs their third win in a row. Nothing is finer than listening to vocal Leaf fans cheering the blue and white to victory in an enemy arena. It started feeling like a home game in the third.

HNIC Observation: When I watch games on television that are taking place in the Bell Centre, I find it rather dark and shadowy. Games at the ACC always appear so clear and bright on television. All game long I kept thinking they hadn't turned on all the lights. It looked a little dingy to me. I wonder why all arenas can't look as sharp on tv as the ACC does.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
27-12-8-3
65 points
4-1 Win vs. Montreal Canadiens M. Sundin - 47
G. Roberts - 30
O. Nolan - 28

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SLS Database Updated

SLS DatabaseI'm only about a month late, but I've finally updated the Smells Like Sour Database to include songs that appeared on SLS10.

My list of things to do before New Year's Eve 2003 is now shorter by one.

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Friends With Balls

Friends"Friends" wrapped its final episode in front of an invitation-only audience on a set veiled in secrecy yesterday. Boo hoo. What a crappy show.

I suspect we'll be seeing numerous Friends-related news items from now until the airing of the final episode on May 6th. I haven't seen Friends in many years, but I might even tune in to the finale to celebrate the death of one of the least funny sitcoms ever to receive such undeserved admiration from the masses.

I've read that NBC is running promos claiming Friends is the funniest television show of all time. Spare me. How can they make such an insane claim? There should be a law against false advertising of this obscene nature. Are they trying to tell us Friends was funnier than "All In The Family", "I Love Lucy", "M*A*S*H", "Frasier", "The Larry Sanders Show", "The Simpsons", "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld"? That's quite the stretch.

The secrecy surrounding this Friends finale is to keep the plot from being revealed before it airs. I'm hoping the writers of Friends have some balls and go out with a bang. I have a few ideas. Perhaps the six could join a cult and commit mass suicide a'la Heaven's Gate. Maybe that coffee shop guy could go postal and the final scene could be six body bags being wheeled out of the joint. My final suggestion is that Monica finally snaps and ends up in a mental institution, Chandler realizes he's been living a lie and has a sex change operation, Ross offs himself upon realizing he's a total geek, Phoebe is busted for prostitution while giving an undercover cop a happy ending after his massage, Rachel is killed in a freak blow dryer accident and Joey, who are we kidding, Joey ends up perfectly fine. NBC's banking on his spin-off next fall.

Will the Friends writers have the balls to make this finale something interesting? Hell no. Look for a closing scene with a group hug. A big hug by these six souless maggots is inevitable.

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Childhood TV

Childhood TVWith the passing of Bob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan yesterday, I realized I have no memory of ever watching Captain Kangaroo on television as a child. According to IMDB, the show was on from 1955 to 1984. That put it right in my wheel house. How did I miss it?

I certainly knew of Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans as a youth. The names were such a part of popular culture you absorbed information about them through osmosis. I still don't think I ever saw a minute of the program.

The shows I do remember watching I have fond memories of. I recall spending the majority of my time with Big Bird, Oscar, Ernie, Bert and Mr. Hooper and the gang from Sesame Street. You might say I'm a product of the Children's Television Workshop. I also remember "Polka Dot Door", "The Electric Company", "Jeremy", "The Friendly Giant" and "Mr. Dressup". I caught a little "Uncle Bobby" and "Mr. Rogers" here and there, but the previous list were my staples.

On a side note, I learned one more interesting thing about Captain Kangaroo from IMDB. I shared a birthday with him.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesHey Ya, Charlie Brown! - I first watched this video of Outkast's Hey Ya! as performed by The Peanuts yesterday, it seemed so natural. Even Andre 3000 would agree this is the song Charlie Brown and the gang were born to sing.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"And what if we picked the wrong religion? Every week, we're just making God madder and madder!"

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Excellent movie sequels are indeed a very rare breed. I personally agree with your list and have a couple more to add:

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back - Many people, like myself, prefer this edgier, darker tale over the almost equally fantastic, Star Wars: A New Hope.
X-2 - This excellent action series has the potentional to continue its winning streak. This was probably the best action movie of the summer.
Aliens - Another close call because I enjoyed Alien very much. I'm simply a bigger fan of the way Cameron directs his action sequences.
Star Trek TNG: First Contact - I know this entry makes Mike cringe, but this tale of Man versus Borg is superior to the tamer Star Trek: Generations.

Mike, you're right about sequels. Just think about how many sequels were released this year. With the low quality, it's no wonder why box office figures declined. Hopefully, the public has spoken against lazy Hollywood script writing.

     Steve

Steve, I don't entirely disagree with you putting "The Empire Strikes Back" ahead of "Star Wars". My preference for Star Wars has more to do with the memories I have of watching it over and over and over again as a wee lad. I haven't seen "X2" yet, although I might get to it this weekend as it's sitting in my living room at this very moment. "Aliens" is another good choice but I'll refrain from commenting on "First Contact" because I haven't seen it or any other Star Trek TNG flick.

If anyone wants to add to our list of sequels that were better than the original, Guest Blog away.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceHelmut Newton was 83. He was a fashion photographer whose work appeared in magazines such as Playboy, Elle and Vogue. He was best known for his stark, black-and-white nude photos.

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Movie Sequels

SequelsWhen a movie is successful, there is often a sequel. A sequel to a box office champion is seen as an opportunity to print money. Movie sequels are often money-makers. A rarity in Hollywood is a sequel that is superior to the original.

Of the hundreds of sequels I've personally watched, there are only three I enjoyed more than the original.

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day - The Terminator was a great movie, but when I saw this sequel in the theatres it completely altered my expectations for all action movies to follow. The special effects were brilliant and the story compelling. James Cameron deserved every dollar of box office this flick brought in. I thought it was superior to the original.
  • Toy Story 2 - Toy Story was a wonderful tale and groudbreaking as the first fully computer-generated full-length feature film. Toy Story 2 just happens to be better. There's more action, more fun and more humour.
  • The Godfather: Part II - I absolutely love both The Godfather and this sequel and have seen both numerous times. If I had to choose my favourite of the two, it's this one. We get to go back to Sicily to see a young Vito Corleone, witness the hardening of Michael Corleone and the confrontation between Michael and Fredo Corleone. The Godfather: Part II is one of the finest movies ever produced. "It was you Fredo. I know it was you. You broke my heart. You broke my heart."

If there's a sequel you thought was better than the original, write a Guest Blog telling me about it and I'll post it on this page. Generally speaking, sequels suck, but I found three that didn't.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceBob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan was 76. As Captain Kangaroo he entertained and educated generations of children.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

The greatest deal on the planet is back! Yes Delissio pizza is again on sale for $4.99. You can find it at Loblaws for sure, that is where I got them today. I picked up 3, walked away and then came back for a fourth pizza. 4 pizzas for under 20 bucks. I was driving by Pizza Pizza on my way home when I saw a new deal they have, a medium pepperoni (walk in) special for $6.99. You can have an amazing Delissio pizza in less than 25 minutes and you don't even have to leave your house.

Oh it is a great day to be alive! I am now going to put a pizza in the oven and eat like a king.

     Marc Felice

Marc, I'm very happy for you. I used to make a Delissio pizza every week but I no longer buy it. As good as it is, it's still rather expensive for what it is and I find it very salty and too heavy for my liking. I've gone back to making my own pizza. When I want a quick fix, I buy the ready-made crusts with pizza sauce packets and go from there. Just yesterday I threw some mozzeralla cheese and pepperoni on one of these crusts with pizza sauce and it was darn good.

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Declining Birth Rates

Declining Birth RatesCanada's birth rate has been declining steadily for years now. Statistics Canada says the fertility rate is now less than 1.5 children per woman aged 15 to 49. That number was about 4 in 1960.

There are many theories as to why we're having less children now than ever, but the most obvious theory is continuously overlooked. When I reveal this reason, you'll find it most obvious, but you won't read about it in the Statistics Canada reports or in the mainstream media. We're producing less children because of the television remote control.

Back in the day, people had to get up out of their seat to manually change the channel on the television itself. If they wanted to lower the volume, change the channel or even turn the tv off or on, they couldn't to this without a visit to the boob tube. Believe it or not, this is 100% true. There was no remote control. As a result, people had children to accomplish this task for them. If you wanted the channel changed, you could order little Billy or Sally to do it while you sat comfortably in your chair. People had more than one child to better the odds of one of them being around to do this. Children were a parent's remote control.

Today, with a converter readily available, children are become obsolete. As a result, we're producing less and less of them. Statistics Canada are really missing the boat on this one. I think it's rather obvious.

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveBest One Hit Wonders from the 90s

  1. Tracy Bonham - "Mother Mother"
  2. Faith No More - "Epic"
  3. Tripping Daisy - "I Got a Girl"
  4. Urban Dance Squad - "Deeper Shade of Soul"
  5. Whale - "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe"

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SLS Submission

SLS SubmissionI've just submitted a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

I submitted "Echo" by Trapt. When I first heard this tune, I thought it was a little soft. Upon further review, it turns out I like it. Something about the melody sticks with me.

The first time I heard Trapt was when I scored a goal in EA Sport's NHL 2003. You see, when you score a goal in this video game, music plays while they show the slo-mo replay. It's a very cool effect and there's a selection of about 6 songs you may hear. I had just scored a goal back in late 2002 and while admiring my deke I heard "Headstrong". "Headstrong" went on to be Trapt's first of two appearances on SLS making the cut for SLS9. "Still Frame" appeared on SLS10.

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Disturbing Headlines

News HeadlinesI was just catching up on the news and came across a few disturbing headlines. All three of these items are legitimate news items from reputable sources.

  • Doctors hope to aid baby with extra head
  • Doctors Remove 175-Pound Tumor from Woman
  • 11-Year-Old Girl Gives Birth in Ukraine

Strange days indeed.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceAnn Miller was 81. She was a tap dancer and actress who starred in such Hollywood musical classics as "Easter Parade," "On the Town" and "Kiss Me Kate".

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Say It Ain't So, Jesse

Jesse PalmerOne month ago I wrote about Toronto-born Jesse Palmer who became the first Canadian-born and trained quarterback to start a game in the NFL. Palmer didn't win that Sunday, but he did give thousands of Canadians something to cheer about.

Today, Jesse Palmer is back in the news for another reason. Palmer, it seems, is set to become the next star of ABC's reality series "The Bachelor". Say it ain't so, Jesse. Say it ain't so.

As a fourth round draft pick by the New York Giants, there's no way he needs the money. As an NFL quarterback, there's no way he needs the fame. As Jesse Palmer, there's no way he has trouble finding dates. Why estrange yourself from football fans by appearing in this wussy reality show? Why humiliate yourself on this cornball series? Why Jesse, why? I don't get it.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

I couldn't agree with you more, Marc. Television does suck and exercise is extremely important. There's nothing like the feeling of finishing a good workout. Due to my wisdom teeth removal and a bad bout of the stomach flu, I haven't been able to hit the gym in over a week and I can't wait until I get back there tomorrow.

Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic in North America. It makes me sick when parents blame fast food for their child's weight problem. Your 3 year old cannot drive to McDonald's and buy himself a Big Mac! Parents need to take responsibility for their children's nutritional habits and ensure they are getting adequate amounts of exercise. This problem will not go away on it's own.

     Vanessa

If you're just joining the convo, Vanessa's Guest Blog entry is in response to Marc's Guest Blog entry earlier. It's unanimous. Exercise is good and obesity is bad.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

There are hardly any good shows on television anymore. That is why I am so happy I joined the YMCA. I have been going 3-4 times per week for the past 7 weeks.

For me, sitting and watching crappy Reality T.V is no longer an option. The only things to watch on t.v these days are the Leafs and Simpsons.

Exercising has become almost addictive. I hate not going, because I will miss the great feeling I have after running around the track, playing volleyball and even blasting my quads. It is easier especially when you have friends to go with, it makes it that much more enjoyable.

I know those of you, who have 9-5 jobs, kids and other responsibilities have trouble finding time to exercise, but there are only benefits to exercising. There is an epidemic happening in Canada. Many children are considered obese, and it is our responsibility to provide a healthy lifestyle for our children.

     Marc Felice

First things first. You're absolutely right about the state of television in 2004. It's horrible. Other than sports and "The Simpsons", there's simply nothing I can stomach on network tv. Reality tv sucks, sitcoms suck and everything else produced by CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and the like sucks. The only shows I look forward to, in addition to the aforementioned sports and Simpsons, are shows produced for HBO. Specifically, I'm referring to Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I'm glad you're enjoying yourself at the YMCA. I wish I had the time and commitment to get myself back into excellent shape. I haven't done much of anything since the accident, but I'm at a point now where I should start back on the road to wellness. Once the weather improves I plan to chase James around the park as often as possible and I'll be playing slo-pitch a couple of times a week. Participaction, get in the action!

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Cecilia Zhang

Cecilia ZhangThree months after disappearing from her family's North York home, Cecilia Zhang is still missing.

Last night at midnight, the bulk of the privately-raised $165,000 reward money for her safe return was taken off the table. This follows the Toronto Police Department's announcement that they've ruled out money as the motive for Cecilia's abduction.

Because Cecilia and her family emigrated from China, I had always hoped in the back of my mind that she was abducted for ransom. From what I've read, kidnapping for profit is not unheard of within the Chinese community. With money as the motive, the likelihood of Cecilia being returned unharmed greatly improves.

I assume the reward money was withdrawn because of the fear the abductors may hold out while the pot gets bigger and bigger. Why cash in for $165,000 if you can wait another couple of months and cash in for much more. There is some logic to this decision. Still, I cling to this belief that Cecilia's kidnappers want something in exchange for her safe return. If it's not money, what is it? Why haven't they contacted the family or police? Unfortunately, the many questions vastly out number the few answers.

Simon & Garfunkel's 1969 hit "Cecilia", for which Ceclilia Zhang was named, opens with the following lyric:

Cecilia, you're breaking my heart
You're shaking my confidence daily
Oh Cecilia, I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you please to come home

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SLS Submission

SLS SubmissionI've just submitted a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

I submitted "Re-Align" by Godsmack. Godsmack takes a lot of flack for sounding like Alice in Chains, which I think is unfair. Considering Godsmack named themselves after an Alice in Chains song, I don't thing they were going to great lengths to hide the influence. Is it a similar sound? Absolutely, but they're hardly an AIC cover band as some have suggested. I love Alice in Chains and listen to "Dirt" several times a week while I work, so this may explain why me ears enjoy Godsmack so. I dig their sound.

Godsmack has had a few appearances on SLS in the past. "Voodoo" appeared on SLS4, "Awake" appeared on SLS5 and "Straight Out Of Mind" appeared on the recent SLS10.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission late last night.

Now I might just be the son of a retired Union steel worker from Hamilton (Go Hamilton!) but here's the lo-down of the Union. It is unfortunate that the concept of "Unions" are being taken advantage of with people doing as little as possible at work. It is a kick in the teeth for the hard workers who can't get ahead due to the seniority rules. It really does stink, and it's today's lazy work ethic that has given Unions a real bad rap. But, here's the scenario...It does not in anyway GUARANTEE your job. If you're Unionized, and you go to work drinking a bottle of Malt Liquor as you walk in the door, then there's not a heck of a lot that the Union can (or should) do for you. In certain walks of life, there is no need for one, and I'll be the first guy to address that. But they do indeed have some pluses. In many Non-Unionized workplaces, you are as expendable as anything. People nowadays are a dime a dozen, and really if you quit, or are fired they can replace you just like that. The concept is for the people, but the people ruin the concept. By the way, am I unionized? Nope!

     Mark

As the son of a retired unionized steel worker from Hamilton, I'm glad you chucked your two cents worth into our union discussion.

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Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 2

Go Leafs Go!Scoring came from some rather unlikely sources tonight as the Leafs won on the road for their second victory in as many days.

Craig Johnson scored his second goal as a Leaf while Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice to give him seven in his career. Once again, Eddie Belfour made some tough stops to secure the win.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
26-12-8-3
63 points
3-2 Win vs. Washington Capitals M. Sundin - 45
G. Roberts - 30
O. Nolan - 28

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

After reading Marc's guest blog, I couldn't help but recall similar instances with government employees. This total lack of consideration for the customer can be blamed on one thing: Unions!! Back in the day, unions were formed to upgrade the terrible treatment of the worker. Unfortunately, unions have become so powerful that merit has nothing to do with job retention or financial compensation. Unions have provided such comfortable job security, that employees can never fear being disciplined by their employers. Just look at the all-powerful teacher's union and wonder no more why Ontario's education system has struggled. Granted, unions protect the worker, now who is going to protect the customer?

     Steve

Steve, as I see it, it's a matter of exploitation. Unions are here to prevent employers from exploiting workers. Now, it seems unions are here to enable workers to exploit employers. I agree whole heartedly with your point about incentive. Where's the incentive to excel in your job when you're protected no matter how incompetent you may be?

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

I hate having to stand in line, to wait to talk to someone, behind a desk, who is in the position of administration of any kind. Just recently I had to go down to 40 College Street to the Toronto Police Headquarters to get a criminal check done on myself, for the purpose of applying to be a teacher. The woman behind the counter was such a bitch, it was unbelievable. She would roll her eyes, make snappy rude remarks. Total disrespect.

One may ask the question "Then why are you doing this job?" Or even "how do you possibly keep your job?" Her job like others behind desks have people come up to them and need to fill out forms and ask questions for clarification. They should not be behind these desks, if they are not going to be helpful to the people coming up to them.

If you act like this why work in this field in the first place. We all have only one life to live, so why work in a place where you become such a bitch or jerk, whatever the case may be.

I myself am not going to make millions, I am going to start my teaching career soon. I hope that I will love it, I feel that I will because it is the only thing I have every really wanted to do. But if in a few years I find I hate going into work everyday, I am going to change professions. Like I said earlier you only live once, therefore why would anyone waste their life being miserable?

     Marc Felice

Marc, I also believe one should enjoy the work they do. I can't imagine what it must be like to put in your 40+ hours doing a job you dislike. I would rather work at a job I love for $30,000 a year than a job I couldn't stand for $200,000.

By the way, writing this Guest Blog very likely added another year or two to your life. When you feel a rant coming on, feel free to express it here. I'm in the business of extending lives. Donations are accepted.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesHit The Penguin - Warning: This is rather addictive. The object is to hit the penguin as far as possible. My personal best thus far is 304.

Update: I just got 317.2.

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Statistics Canada

StatsCanWhat would we do without Statistics Canada? They just completed a study into what is stressing Canadians. 10,151 people participated in this study for six years and the results are mind blowing.

The common stressors are:

  • doing too many things at once
  • not having enough money
  • marital problems
  • concerns about children

Six years and how many dollars to learn that time pressure is the most common cause of stress amongst Canadians. I would have told Statistics Canada that in 30 seconds for $5 even. Hell, I'd have done it for a loonie.

I never have enough time to do everything I need to do. There's work, a home and car to maintain, a toddler to raise and several hours of sports and "The Simpsons" on the television. It ain't easy finding time, but somehow I manage.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceNoble Willingham was 72. He worked steadily as a supporting actor over the last 30 years and left his role as a saloon owner on the series "Walker, Texas Ranger" to run for Congress.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission late last night.

Six separate penalties for high sticking in the Leaf Game last night!! Don't get me wrong.. I am just glad we won, but keep the sticks down!!! Sloppy, sloppy play. Let's not forget the stellar play we were getting from Berard before that high stick from Hossa. Now he is averaging a -2 every game for the Blackhawks. I'm just saying that professionals should be able to keep their sticks below waste level. This old timer does go on sometimes, Sorry. GO LEAFS!!!

     Ryan

I agree. I just covered that exact topic in my Leafs Recap this morning. Before you consult your lawyer, I wrote that entry before I read your Guest Blog submission, I swear!!!

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Maple Leafs 2, Islanders 0

Go Leafs Go!It's a completely different perspective watching a game live in person as opposed to checking it out on the television. You can watch plays develop and anticipate maneuvers when you can see the entire ice surface at all times. Hockey is truly a wonderful game.

From where I was sitting, one line was providing all the offense. Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts and Mikael Renberg played an exceptional game, scoring the only two goals. Eddie Belfour stood tall when called upon to record his 70th career shutout.

Another thing I noticed from my seat at the ACC is the number of high sticks. A few guys dropped to the ice after taking a stick blade to the face. Six of the nine penalties called on this night were for high sticking and the worst of the bunch, inflicted upon Darcy Tucker, received no penalty at all. Tucker went ballistic. Should players be wearing visors? I believe so. Should penalties for high sticking be more severe? Definitely. What will it take for changes of this nature to be implemented? I'm afraid someone's going to have to lose an eye.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
25-12-8-3
61 points
2-0 Win vs. New York Islanders M. Sundin - 45
G. Roberts - 30
O. Nolan - 28

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

As a 25 year old product of the "MTV Generation", I find it very hard to be overly enthusiastic or excited about anything. Yet, it is 3:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon and I can barely contain my enthusiasm. Only one thing can bring me this excitement: The Leafs!! Tonight I will be attending a Leafs game with my brother and some friends. Nothing in this world can bring me the high of watching a puck bulge the twine and hearing the roar of 18000 fans. If there's a better high in this world, I have yet to feel it.

     Steve

That's right! We're goin' to the ACC tonight to watch the blue and white. I've got my Bill Barilko jersey ready to go. I get to one or two games a year, so this is a pretty big deal. I'll see ya in a bit. Go Leafs Go!

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

From the gang of "It's a tie", Happy Birthday James! Our cutest model on the site! He is now online under the cartoon tie section. Check it out!

     Sebastien

Ah, yes. James' first modelling gig. I hope he's making commission on the additional sales these pix are bound to pull in.

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State of Dubya

DubyaToday, Dubya is due to give his annual State of the Union Address. The Independent has compiled some figures to give us an idea as to the real state of the union. You'll want to take a look at this. Here's a brief excerpt:

232: Number of American combat deaths in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2004
501: Number of American servicemen to die in Iraq from the beginning of the war - so far
0: Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed to be photographed
0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq
100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003
1st: Rank of the US worldwide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per capita
1st: George W Bush became the first American president to ignore the Geneva Conventions by refusing to allow inspectors access to US-held prisoners of war
58 million: Number of acres of public lands Bush has opened to road building, logging and drilling
200: Number of public-health and environmental laws Bush has attempted to downgrade or weaken

There's much more where this came from. Of course, this has all been said before. Never underestimate the S-factor.

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Deja Vu

Ed the SockHoward Stern recently turned the big 5-0. This morning they replayed an appearance from his birthday show by Triumph the Comic Insult Dog. It was pretty damn funny. I've seen and heard bits and pieces of Triumph the Comic Insult Dog on Conan, the MTV Video Awards and his latest single, "I Keed", so I was familiar with him. For those who have never heard of him, he's essentially a dog puppet who roasts celebrities. He'll rip someone to shreds by telling it like he is even if the target is present. You may recall Eminem had an issue with this a couple of years back.

It's a funny bit, but I couldn't help but feel I've heard all of this before. Hmmmm...lets see. A puppet who makes fun of celebrities by telling it like it is... Where have I seen and heard all this before?

Of course. I've been seeing the near exact bit for almost a decade now from Ed the Sock. My brothers and I used to watch Ed the Sock hosting a show on Rogers Cable 10 years and years ago with co-host Harland Williams. Ed's "Fromage" year-end review show on MuchMusic is a show I won't miss. Ed currently hosts "Ed's Night Party" every Friday night, and as his website proclaims, it's "still #1, beating Leno and Letterman two years running." He's hilarious, especially for a hand puppet sock.

As funny as Triumph the Comic Insult Dog is, he's forever indebted to his inspiration, Ed the Sock. It's Deja Vu all over again.

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James in the NICU Ward

The VaultIn honour of James' 2nd birthday today, I'm delving into the vault for a couple of pictures from that great day of January 20th, 2002.

Here's James meeting Mommy for the very first time and here's James in the NICU ward surrounded by a proud Papa and Uncle Ryan and Uncle Steve.

James' Birth

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Happy Birthday James!

Happy Birthday JamesTwo years ago today I was settling in to watch the St. Louis Rams take on the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship. Then the phone rang. Five weeks ahead of schedule, Taryn was in labour. I remember putting on the scrubs and watching while they delivered James via c-section. It was awesome.

Today, sweet baby James is two years old. He's talking up a storm, singing all the time and just about as smart as his daddy. If you're interested, there are videos from his little birthday party the other day in Videos. Happy Birthday James!

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Nick Carter Update

Nick Carter UpdateNo, I'm not a fan of The Backstreet Boys. I do, however, pause and read articles concerning Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. You see, Nick Carter is the only celebrity I've ever played ball with and I consider him a buddy. You can read all about it here.

My buddy Nick has been all over the news lately. It seems his mom, Jane Carter, was arrested and charged with battery in an alleged attack on her estranged husband's girlfriend. This comes only a month after Nick's pop star brother Aaron issued a statement alleging his mother had taken more than $100,000 from his bank account. They have since reconciled.

Of course, the biggest story to hit the wire concerning my pal Nick involves everyone's favourite hotel heiress. Nick Carter, it seems, has shacked up with Paris Hilton. That'll get your mug in the papers.

Nick, if you're reading this, give me a buzz. It's been too long.

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Equal Treatment

Equal TreatmentAs promised, I've started posting an entry here every time I submit a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

In my previous post, I also indicated what other songs from the artist had appeared on previous editions of SLS. I also did this with my post of last week. To be fair, I will do this now for "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" by The White Stripes which I submitted yesterday.

The White Stripes are on an SLS streak of sorts. "Fell in Love with a Girl" appeared on SLS7, "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" appeared on SLS8, "Seven Nation Army" appeared on SLS9 and "The Hardest Button to Button" appeared on SLS10. Should The White Stripes be represented on SLS11 (extremely likely), they will become only the second band to appear on five different editions of SLS. The first to accomplish this feat was the Foo Fighters. The White Stripes already hold the record for most consecutive appearances with four and counting.

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SLS Submission

SLS SubmissionI've just submitted a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

I submitted "Reptilia" by The Strokes. It's a great tune from a great band. No further justification required. I dig it.

The Strokes have been well represented on SLS. "Last Nite" appeared on SLS6, "Hard to Explain" appeared on SLS8 and "12:51" appeared on the recent SLS10.

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Stop Treading on My Tunage!

Pet PeeveIt happened again this morning. It's been happening a lot lately and it's got to stop. It's just not right.

The deejays from the Dean Blundell Show on CFNY Edge 102 this morning talked all over the first 30 seconds of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". Forever this has been a pet peeve of mine. I want to hear a decent song in its entirety without a deejay jabbering all over the intro and outro. CFNY Edge 102 has been extremely careless in this regard lately and they should know better.

Sure, "Bittersweet Symphony" has a rather long instrumental opening, but that's not license for a deejay to yak away until the words kick in. "Bittersweet Symphony" is a song I happen to dig and part of the beauty of this tune is that opening melody. I almost wrote an entry in disgust on New Year's Eve upon hearing Martin Streek tread all over tunes on the Top 102 of 2003 countdown show, but then I got distracted. Streek went so far as to trample over lyrics thus violating the cardinal sin of radio. Shame, shame.

Out of respect to the listener it would be awfully nice if deejays made a concerted effort to say what they have to say before playing a song and waiting until the final note is completed before talking again. It would make this devoted listener a much happier man.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today in response to my entry of earlier today.

Re: Stop Treading on My Tunage!

I agree wholeheartedly, and would like to add more. What I despise even more than talking over the song, is simply cutting it short. If you need a song to fit within 3:45, play a song that's 3:45! All radio edits should die.

     Michael Hollick

I'll never forget how I felt when I first heard the radio edit of Everlast's "What It's Like". It was horrible. Fairly harmless words like "whore" and "green" were covered with sound effects. Radio edits suck large. Radiohead's "Creep" just doesn't sound the same without the F bomb. You can forget about the censored version of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer". What's the point?

I understand there are CRTC regulations and stations are trying to avoid fines and must play by the rules to renew their license, but censorship of songs by removing or beeping swear words really ruin the experience for me. I still can't believe Everlast felt he had to remove his reference to smoking the "finest green". Please.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

It feels horrible to be a T.O sports fan right now, and although things change fast, let's look at the situation. Leafs are looking a lot more like the team we began the season off with. They are old, they are injury prone, and it is showing!!! The Raps are barely a team without Vince, and I'm pretty sure Mike could stay healthy longer in the nba than Vince can!! Even with Vince, we are barely a playoff team. The Jays have not done anything to make me believe they are doing anything special for us this upcoming spring.... although we are in the east playing with NY and Boston, so it really matters not.

I'm waking up and finding myself staying away from the sports section, flicking it quickly past TSN and THE SCORE on the tube, and for the first time in a while, torontomike.com is getting more hits than sports.yahoo.com.

I'm disgruntled and pissed and all those things that I feel I have the right to be as a die hard Toronto sports fan all my life.

On the positive side, James' Birthday party rocked on Sunday!!! He's good, the Leafs are not.

     Ryan

No doubt things look rough right now. The Leafs have certainly been underperforming when facing the likes of Philadelphia, Ottawa and New Jersey. It hurts to see Vince out of the Raptors line-up too. As for the Jays, you're absolutely right. They're already third.

Keep your chin up bro. A three game winning streak by the Leafs and we'll be back to planning the parade route down Yonge Street. We'll be so busy planning the Stanley Cup celebration we won't have a moment to get down about the Raptors or Blue Jays. It's all about distraction.

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New Videos

New VideosThis afternoon was James' 2nd birthday party. He was spoiled as usual and I've got the video evidence to prove it.

Visit Videos to check out six clips from the festivities.

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SLS Submission

SLS SubmissionI've just submitted a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

I submitted "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" by The White Stripes. I think every song on Elephant is SLS-worthy, so I'm essentially submitting this track as it's the third single off the CD. Should The White Stripes release a better song before the Canada Day deadline for SLS11, that song will supplant this one. I think they should release "Black Math", an absolutely killer tune.

I well aware this isn't an original Jack White composition. It's a cover of an old Dusty Springfield hit. The moment I heard "Son of a Preacher Man" used to perfection in Pulp Fiction, Dusty Springfield had me. The White Stripes do this tune of hers justice. A White Stripes tune will be on SLS11, you can bank on it.

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Mr. Mugs

Mr. MugsI just found a very old Mr. Mugs book. Mr. Mugs was a sheep dog who starred in a series of books designed to help young children learn to read. I had several as a young child and even read them in kindergarten. It's fair to say Mr. Mugs had a huge role in teaching me how to read.

Surprisingly, there's very little about Mr. Mugs on the Internet. Is Mr. Mugs that obscure a reference? I assumed most children learning to read in the late 70s would have the same attachment to this mutt that I have. Apparently not.

Here's a scan of the cover and another page from the copy I just found. You know it's dated by the fact the second picture shows the dad smoking a pipe. Try and find someone smoking in children's reading books used in schools today. Let me know if you remember Mr. Mugs fondly or if I'm the lone member of this shaggy dog's fan club.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesToronto Gas Prices - My apologies to visitors from outside the Greater Toronto Area, this link is for the T-Dotters. I fill up the gas tank of my car about once a week, and I hate paying 75 cents a litre only to see it's 69.9 at the next gas station I pass. This site is constantly updated and ranks the lowest gas prices and highest gas prices in the GTA. For Ontario visitors outside the Toronto area, go here.

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown."
      - Woody Allen

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Maple Leafs 0, Flyers 4

Go Leafs Go!6-1, 7-1, 4-1 and 4-0. Those are the scores from the last four Maple Leafs - Flyers games. All four games were Philadelphia victories. The combined score of the four games is an embarrassing 21-3. That's horrible.

Tonights game was dreadful to watch. The offense didn't show up and the defense was pushed around the entire time. The way we're playing lately we can forget about finishing first overall in the conference, we're not going to win the division. Finishing behind Ottawa will ensure us no better than a fourth seed in the East and if both Philadelphia and New Jersey finish with more points, we'll be seeded fifth with a first round match-up against the lesser of the two. If the Leafs have to face Philly or New Jersey in the first round, there will most likely be no second round for the blue and white. Getting healthy is important but I still believe a couple of upgrades are required to reverse our fortunes. Our defense must get tougher. I'm sick of seeing opposing forwards out muscle our blueliners to score goals as Philadelphia did for their first two goals tonight. Enough is enough.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
24-12-8-3
59 points
4-0 Loss vs. Philadelphia Flyers M. Sundin - 44
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 28

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Not In-Vince-able

VinceI'm bracing myself for the worst. Vince Carter strained his right quadriceps in the first quarter of Thursday's 78-74 overtime win in New Orleans and is out of action listed as day-to-day. Carter is far and away our best player and having a pretty darn good season thus far for the Raptors. We've seen what happens when he's out of the line up for an extended period of time.

Vince Carter is starting to remind me a lot of Wendel Clark. Clark was the best player on the Maple Leafs but would miss large chunks of seasons with various ailments. He'd be missing for months at a time and then he'd return and score a hat trick. You always wondered what might have been had he remained healthy.

Last season, Carter was on the injured list three times and missed 39 games because of injuries to his left ankle, right knee and left quad. Two seasons ago, Carter missed 22 games because of injuries to his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery, and to his left quad. I hope Carter only misses a few games with this latest strain and returns to lead us to the playoffs, but as I said, I'm bracing myself for the worst.

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No Escape

Coming Attractions on DVDMy friend lent me his Hulk DVD which I watched this morning. When I started the DVD three or four coming attractions began to play. Immediately I pressed the MENU button but this function was disabled. There was also no way to advance or fast forward to escape these commercials. Essentially, I had to sit through almost five minutes of crap I had no interest in before I could advance to the main menu to play the movie. It was extremely irritating and had me cursing Universal Studios before the 137 minute movie even began.

How unfair is that? I remember coming attractions at the beginning of movies on VHS, but at least you could always fast forward through them to the beginning of the flick. This DVD was going to show these ads one at a time and there was absolutely nothing I could do other than mute or turn off the television awaiting their completion. I was borrowing this movie from a friend, but if this had been the case with a DVD I had paid $20+ for, I'd be fuming. Sticking ads on movies one buys is wrong but having them automatically play at the beginning with no escape is pure evil. The power to play them or not should reside with the paying customer. I won't buy a DVD from Universal Studios so long as they continue this annoying practice.

As for the movie, it was too long and lacked a story I could sink my teeth into. I didn't mind the comic book effects and even enjoyed the CGI Hulk running amok and chucking tanks 500 feet, but it dragged to a point where I simply didn't care how it ended. It made "Spider-Man" seem like "The Godfather" by comparison. Save two hours of your life and skip this one.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceOlivia Goldsmith was 54. She was an author who penned "The First Wives Club" which sold millions of copies and became a number one film in 1996 starring Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler.

Much like Uta Hagen, I read of Olivia Goldmith's passing and didn't immediately post it here because I had never heard of her. I consider myself well educated in the field of popular culture so I assume if I haven't heard of a celebrity they aren't really that famous. I've learned there are at least two exceptions to this rule: when the fame is acquired on Broadway and when the fame is aquired for writing a book no man would ever read. Olivia Goldsmith has been added to the list.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceUta Hagen was 84. She dazzled Broadway for more than 50 years and wrote what many consider the actor's bible on performing.

I first read about Uta Hagen's death a couple of days ago but didn't initially add here to the Dead Pool list because I had never heard of her. I'm not particularly educated in the world of Broadway and since her main claim to celebrity is her fame on the stage, never hearing of her until now isn't surprising. From what I've read, she's famous enough for the list.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"All right brain, you don't like me, and I don't like you. But let's just get me through this, and I can get back to killing you with beer."

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Maple Leafs 1, Flyers 4

Go Leafs Go!Facing the Philadelphia Flyers seems to bring out the worst in Eddie Belfour. He was shelled for seven goals on 22 shots back on November 2nd and tonight he didn't make it out of the first period. The Leafs won't have to wait long for revenge with Philly coming to town tomorrow night.

A friend of mine who's attending Saturday night's game at the ACC asked me for my prediction for this home-at-home series earlier today. I told him we'd split the series with the home team winning each game 3-1. I was pretty damn close. You may want to put a couple of bucks down on a Leaf victory tomorrow.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
24-11-8-3
59 points
4-1 Loss vs. Philadelphia Flyers M. Sundin - 44
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 28

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Poor Customer Service

Bad Web ExperienceWhenever possible, I prefer to make my gift purchases online. During the pre-Christmas rush, I had a bad experience doing this that I'd like to share.

I wanted to buy my brother Ryan one of those four-in-one printer/fax machine/photo copier/scanner dealies. I found a good sale on the Staples Business Depot website, and made the purchase. I had never ordered online from this particular company before, but there's a first time for everything. There's also a last.

Four or five days went by and I still hadn't received the package or any communication whatsoever from Staples. I finally got around to calling their customer service number and was told an attempt was made to deliver my package but because nobody was home it was sent back to the warehouse and my order was cancelled. A credit was being applied to my credit card as a result. With Christmas getting closer and closer, I didn't want to hear that my order was cancelled. I wanted the product I ordered for the price I ordered it for. Every other time I've ordered something online, if I wasn't home when the deliver was attempted I was left a slip of paper indicating where I could pick the order up. I wasn't given this opportunity by Staples. Furthermore, I didn't receive an email, telephone call or note at my door indicating that my order was being cancelled. They just up and cancelled it because nobody was available to sign for the delivery.

At this point, I was most frustrated. I was more than willing to pick the item up at a local Staples store or have it delivered to my work where someone could sign for it. I asked that my order be brought back to life and was told it was cancelled and I'd have to start from scratch. It was as if that order never existed. With no other options, I attempted to reorder the identical product only to learn that the sale had ended and I'd have to pay an additional $50. Not only was I unable to get it for the price I had purchased it for days earlier, it was now out of stock and I wouldn't be able to get it before Christmas. I demanded satisfaction and spoke to several representatives at this company and nobody was willing to give me the sale price I had originally paid or make any attempt to appease me.

It was as if Staples was so burdened by my order they didn't want it. What company cancels an order without making any effort whatsoever to salvage it? Isn't the objective to make sales and customers happy so they return with credit card in hand? Needless to say, I will never give Staples Business Depot one penny of business for as long as I live. That same week I purchased a couple of gifts online with Future Shop and got great sale prices, free shipping and most importantly, the items I bought. I ended up buying Ryan's gift at Best Buy, walking into the store and waiting in line like I did in the days before the world wide web.

I'm still angry with the service I received from Staples Business Depot and I'm writing this blog entry in the hopes others will read it and direct their business elsewhere. Every dollar not spent at Staples because of me eases my pain.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceRon O'Neal was 66. He played a cocaine dealer named Youngblood Priest in "Superfly" and the sequel, "Superfly TNT," which he also directed.

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Paul Martin Quits?

Martin QuitsApparently, Paul Martin has quit. His blog, that is. In a previous blog entry, I wrote about how our future Prime Minister had a blog. In his own words, maintaining the blog was "an opportunity to express my thoughts publicly without having to go through all the sturm und drang that is a major speech or even a media scrum".

I'm sad to report that Paul Martin hasn't added an entry to his blog since October 19, 2003. Prior to that entry, he was maintaining it fairly regularly since his first entry of April 30, 2003. I think we can safely declare the Paul Martin blog is dead. He's quit blogging.

It's a shame, really. I think it was a tremendous communications tool that would benefit all Canadians by giving us access to the thoughts, beliefs and strategies of our leader. Canada has always been at the forefront of web-based communication initiatives, and a blog written by the Prime Minister was a wonderful extension of this philosophy. I'm sorry he didn't keep it up. Like so many bloggers before him, he was unwilling to invest the time and energy.

I'll still stop by every few weeks, just in case the Prime Minister decides to post an entry or two "without having to go through all the sturm und drang that is a major speech or even a media scrum".

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveBest Slacker Anthems

  1. Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit
  2. Radiohead's Creep
  3. Beck's Loser
  4. Green Day's Longview
  5. The Offpring's Self Esteem

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Mystikal

MystikalReading about Mystikal's six year jail sentence for sexual battery, I started thinking about the one song I listen to from Mystikal. I'm referring to "Shake Ya Ass", and it's what I would call a guilty pleasure.

Every once in a while I really dig a tune that I'm sure I'm not supposed to enjoy as much as I do. "Shake Ya Ass" is such a song. I found the uncensored version creeping into the mixes I make. It started getting car play during which I would always jack the volume. I was a true fan of the tune.

Mystikal's "Shake Ya Ass" was covered by lounge singer Richard Cheese, another guilty pleasure of mine. Richard Cheese covers my kind of tunes in a cheesy lounge style. My favourite Richard Cheese covers are "Chop Suey", "Down With the Sickness", "Last Resort" and "Guerilla Radio". I don't know why, but I love hearing killer modern rock tracks sung and broken down lounge style and Richard Cheese is the king.

I have more guilty pleasures when it comes to tunage, but I'll just share these for now.

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Deep Freeze

ColdHow cold is it? I just checked the Toronto weather forecast and was pleased as punch to see we'd reach a sweltering high of -3 Degrees Celsius on Saturday. -3 sounds very, very warm to me right now. With a slight 5 km/h wind expected, I may even wear shorts.

You know it's cold when you change the radio station in the car and it takes a couple of seconds for the LCD display to change to the new frequency. The LCD is practically frozen solid.

While we're discussing the weather, it's worth noting that Americans sharing this cold spell will do what they typically do when in crisis. They will blame Canada. An Alberta clipper is the cause of this unforgiving winter chill.

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The Vault

The VaultI promised I'd share a picture of Taryn and I before the Justice of the Peace eight years ago. Here's the pic.

Consider it part three of my anniversary trilogy today following my dip into the vault earlier.

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Anonymous Message

EmailI get some interesting messages via my Contact Mike form. This is the form you can contact me with if you don't want your message published on this site. When you want to write a Guest Blog and have it appear here, you go to Guest Blog.

I just received a message from someone which I'm reprinting below. The author of this message requested I write her back, but failed to supply me with her email address. I only receive the text submitted in the form via a perl script and therefore have no way to know your email address unless you add this information.

who are you. how old are you do you know Mike Weir my name is Wendy wright back

Wendy, I would have written you back, but because I don't have your email address I'll answer your three questions here.

  • Who am I? I'm Mike Boon from Toronto.
  • Do I know Mike Weir? I know of him. We've never spoken directly. I don't think he's heard of me.
  • How old am I? I'm 29.

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Top 10 in the World?

Top 10?CFNY Edge 102 airs a promo every once in a while that claims they are "One of the ten most listened to stations in the world". Every time I hear it, I wonder how they can justify such an outlandish claim.

I read the most recent BBM Ratings for Toronto radio stations, and CFNY Edge 102 can safely claim they are one of the ten most listened to stations in the GTA. They aren't number one, but they're in decent shape. The Greater Toronto Area, however, is not the world. CFNY Edge 102 shouldn't be able to claim they're one of the ten most listened to stations in Canada let alone the entire planet.

A visit to the CFNY Edge 102 website yielded no further details. They don't reference the promo anywhere. I did some further digging and I think I know what this promo is referring to.

Arbitron maintains a list of Webcast Ratings. "Arbitron Webcast Ratings is a server-side measurement, which captures all tuning to participating streamed media channels by compiling a near census of Internet tuning sessions." It's difficult to access these charts, because this information requires a paid subscription, but I was able to gander at a series of the Arbitron Webcast Ratings top 75 as part of some of their news releases. This release has CFNY Edge 102 listed at a healthy #39 with 148,798 hours of total time spent listening in February of 2003. I had to go back to their chart of February 2001 to find CFNY Edge 102 in the top 10 when they were 10th. It's my belief that CFNY Edge 102 took this chart listing them as the tenth most streamed station on the world wide web in order to justify their "One of the ten most listened to stations in the world" promo.

Their spin doctors deserve a round of applause for that one. At one time they were possibly one of the ten most listened to stations on the web, but when you factor in people listening to radio stations on actual radios, their statement doesn't come close to holding up. It still sounds impressive though, doesn't it?

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The Vault

The VaultBecause it's my anniversary today, I thought I'd reach into the vault for a picture from that afternoon eight years ago.

This picture was taken in the room at Old City Hall we waited in prior to being wed. I'll post another picture tonight of us in front of the Justice of the Peace.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today regarding my recent entry about SARS and the Asian Bird Flu.

"I miss the good old days when we got the 24 hour flu and the common cold. Our biggest threat was chicken pox and the worst side effect was some itching. There was nothing some Tylenol couldn't cure. The times they are a-changing."

Yeah, whatever happened to that Bubonic Plague thing anyway? Scarlet Fever and Typhoid were fun. Or even Smallpox? I miss those...

     Michael Hollick

I'm sure the Bubonic Plague, Scarlet Fever and Smallpox were bad bugs, but they were slightly before my time. Smart ass.

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Anniversary

Happy Anniversary To MeShe's my best friend and I love her to pieces. Eight years ago today, I married Taryn. It's one of the smarter decisions I've made in my life.

We both had classes that chilly Toronto afternoon, but we had an appointment we couldn't miss. Ten days earlier, while chatting on the phone with my twenty year old girlfriend of less than eight months, the topic of marriage came up. "We should just do it now", one of us suggested. The next morning we met at Ossington Station and got our marriage license at New City Hall for $53. The next stop was Old City Hall where we booked a time with the Justice of the Peace to get hitched. The cost was another $53 and the next available time was 2:00pm on January 15th. We took it and never looked back.

I love ya poops. Happy Anniversary.

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Lenny Wilkens

LennyIsiah Thomas has fired New York Knicks head coach Don Chaney and hired former Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

I can't believe Lenny Wilkens has managed to find himself another head coaching job this quickly. Not only did he land a head coaching position, but one in the largest NBA market to boot. Is Isiah Thomas an idiot? Do Knicks fans realize what's in store for them? I can't help but laugh out loud at this ridiculous turn of events.

It's possible Lenny Wilkens was an effective head coach at one point in his career. The man does hold the record for most NBA victories by a head coach. Of course, he also holds the record for most NBA losses by a head coach. I watched him lead my Raptors for three seasons during which time he was 113-133. There was no leadership, no system and no coaching to speak of. Lenny's only play was to get the ball to Vince Carter. During his third season at the helm, not a day went by that I didn't pray for his firing. I hated his style and knew the Raptors would never be successful under his indifferent watch. This man is a dinosaur who has failed to change with the times. His only title came in 1979 and he's been milking it ever since.

I can't wait for this hiring to blow up in Isiah Thomas' face so I can laugh some more.

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Asian Bird Flu

Asian Bird FluFour letters I didn't want to hear in 2004 were S-A-R-S. Unfortunately, I've been finding the S-word all over the news lately as China last week confirmed its first SARS case of the season, and has since announced two additional suspected cases. I've seen this movie and it sucks.

To make matters worse, I stumbled upon a quote from WHO regional coordinator Peter Cordingley regarding the new Asian Bird Flu in Vietnam. Cordingley suggested that if the Asian Bird Flu begins to spread person-to-person, it could become a bigger problem than SARS. A global health crisis could erupt. Five more suspected human cases of this virus were reported yesterday.

I miss the good old days when we got the 24 hour flu and the common cold. Our biggest threat was chicken pox and the worst side effect was some itching. There was nothing some Tylenol couldn't cure. The times they are a-changing.

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Outsourcing Your Ripping

RippingThere's a new company called RipDigital that will rip your entire CD collection into MP3s for a price. For $129 USD you can ship them up to 100 of your CDs and they'll ship them back along with a DVD containing your CDs as MP3s. Their site celebrates the act of ripping your entire CD collection with the following verbiage.

Unleash your music and you can:

- enjoy your entire music collection any time, anywhere: at home, while you travel, exercise, work
- keep your music collection organized perfectly by artist, album, genre or any combination
- create mixes and play-lists of hundreds of songs that play for hours without ever swapping a disc

I'm speaking from experience when I tell you they're right about the advantages of ripping your entire CD collection to MP3. I undertook this task last month and wrote about it extensively on this site. I feel extremely liberated having every song I care about ripped to an MP3 file I can take and use anywhere. It was a big task, but the end result was well worth it.

I ripped like a mad man for a solid week, all day long while I worked and all night long while I played. In the end, I ripped well over a hundred discs at a cost of some blood, sweat and tears. RipDigital's website will tell you not to waste your time. "Thinking about ripping your music collection at home? Brace yourself. At six CDs and hour for an hour a day, it will take you several months." Several months? Who are they kidding? One long week of my life and I was able to keep my $300+ Canadian dollars for something else. If you want to digitalize your CD collection, save your money and read what I did. The end result will look something like this. Feel free to contact me if you need help.

One line in particular that is posted on the RipDigital website was enough to prevent me from utilizing their service even if it was free of charge. "RipDigital actively encourages the responsible use of digital music by including uniquely identifiable information in each track converted." I'd want to know a whole lot more about this "uniquely identifiable information". That sentence alone would ensure I rip my own CDs regardless of the time and effort involved.

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Digital World

KodakKodak has announced plans to stop selling traditional film cameras in North America and Europe. It's digital only from here on for the world's biggest photography company.

This is a bold move for Kodak, but a necessary one if they're to compete with Canon, Dell and Hewlett Packard who have already made the switch to digital products only. The world is going digital my friends. Traditional film cameras are quickly going the way of the phonograph. I've been working on digitizing as much of my life as possible, and as soon as I have the funds, I'll be snapping pictures with a digital camera instead of scanning prints from our film camera. The digitization of the universe continues...

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Maple Leafs 4, Flames 1

Go Leafs Go!The Leafs looked great last night. Playing a good team, we dominated, winning every race to the puck and showing energy that was non-existent on Saturday night. Bryan McCabe scored another couple of goals and Nik Antropov added a goal and an assist in the Toronto victory.

For the first time in the history of the NHL, two players recorded their 1000th game in the same game. Gary Roberts and Tom Fitzgerald accomplished the feat last night. A quick note about Fitzergerald: prior to this season, I viewed him as one of those fourth line guys that are fairly interchangeable. He was decent, but nothing spectacular. I often felt others deserved his roster spot more. This season, I've been very impressed with his play. He is a special player and worthy of sporting the blue and white. I've been converted to a Fitzgerald fan.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
24-10-8-3
59 points
4-1 Win vs. Calgary Flames M. Sundin - 44
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 27

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesBush in 41.2 Seconds - The Bush in 30 Seconds ads have received a great deal of press lately, and earlier today they announced the winning ad. If you're looking for the straight-up goods and have an addional 11.2 second to spare, I recommend Bush in 41.2 Seconds. Sound is necessary for full enjoyment.

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Classic Alternative

Classic AlternativeI just read an article from the New York Times that reveals the latest radio format sweeping the United States. They call it "classic alternative" and several stations have switched to the format in the past month.

"Classic alternative" is essentially music from the early 90s like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, and so on. In other words, my kind of music. To quote the article, "Like the classic rock format that started in the mid-1980's to cater to aging baby boomers, classic alternative - with new songs from retro-alternative bands like the White Stripes and the Strokes thrown into the mix on some stations - appeals to Generation X'ers who are beginning to show some gray." That's me!

CFNY Edge 102, my current favourite station, is pretty close to "classic alternative" as it is. They play a great deal of current modern rock hits but still hit you with a Nirvana track or two just about every hour. Just the other day I was listening to "In Bloom" and realized they're playing Nirvana as often now as they did ten years ago. I also hear a great deal of older material from bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Weezer and Soundgarden. For all intents and purposes, CFNY Edge 102 is "classic alternative" save for the wider scope of new hits being spun. Is a truer form of "classic alternative" in 102.1's future?

This new format is projected right at a guy like me and I dig it. Being catered to is always a good thing.

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Camp Oba-Sa Teeka

The VaultI was a Cub Scout. As a kid I would cross the street to the United Church to attend Beavers and then Cubs. One of my fondest memory of being a Cub Scout was the summer we attended Camp Oba-Sa Teeka for a weekend.

It was 1983 and I was only nine, so a weekend of playing survival games, hearing ghost stories and visiting the outhouse in the middle of the night only to learn it was booby trapped left a whack of memories. Here's the badge I received following the trip.

Camp Oba-Sa Teeka

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Pot House Flowers

Pot HousePolice recently uncovered Canada's largest indoor marijuana factory in the old Molson brewery in Barrie. The more I read about this story, the more impressed I become.

This wasn't a couple of dudes growing pot to make a few bucks. This was an extremely sophisticated operation. 30,000 plants were discovered within the 5,400-square metre complex. The cutting-edge technology to make this possible required electrical engineers and heating duct specialists, according to Barrie City Police Chief Wayne Frechette. The factory operated around the clock and was capable of producing $100-million worth of marijuana annually. It was also capable of housing as many as 50 people at once. This was a serious business.

Sure, it's illegal, but you've got to respect the organization and effort that went into this crime. When I think of illegal marijuana grow operations, I think of a guy with a mullet and hydroponic lamps and about 10 plants. This recent bust in Barrie is very impressive. As I see it, the factory had but one flaw. It was discovered.

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New Pictures

New Pictures just posted three new pictures of James in Pictures.

The first is a neat shot of James in mid-laugh taken sometime in December and the other two are from our trip to the Woodbine Centre Fantasy Fair last month. If you've never been to the Fantasy Fair, it's billed as Ontario's only indoor amusement park. James had a blast.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesThe Chilly Beach Great Canadian Trivia Shootout - 10 Canadian trivia questions with entertaining results whether you're right or wrong. I scored 8 out of 10. I should have scored 9 out of 10, but I misread the question about consecutive years in office for a Prime Minister. Give it a go, eh?

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The People's Crap Awards

People's Crap AwardsThe People's Choice Awards aired last night. If there's a more useless awards show on television, I've yet to hear about it. There are a number of crappy awards shows, but this is the crappiest of them all.

I just read the list of "winners". Mel Gibson won for best actor. Mel Gibson hasn't actually starred in a widely released film since "Signs" in 2002. I assure you, the people who voted for Mel never saw "The Singing Detective" in which he has a role. Who won for best actress you're asking? Why, it was "Julia Roberts" of course, for the 11th time. I feel sick to my stomach. This is the one award show you must ensure you miss.

Just to prove how awful it is, lets review a few of the other big winners. Favourite male musical performer? Some guy named Tim McGraw. Favourite male television performer? The most unfunny Ray Romano. Best comedy series? "Friends". Yuck.

I made sure I didn't waste a second on this garbage, and now I'm wishing I hadn't read a word about it or written an entry on the subject. The People's Choice Awards mean absolutely nothing because people like garbage and typically vote for garbage. Matchbox Twenty is the best band in the world. The people have spoken.

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Similar Sounding Songs

Similar Sounding SongsI was showing off my collection of newly ripped MP3s to my friend Marc Felice the other day. He was nice enough to drop off some tunes I didn't own so I could have a listen. Among the CDs he lent me was Warning by Green Day, the lone Green Day disc missing from my collection. Listening to this CD reminded me of how much "Waiting" sounds like Petula Clark's 1964 hit "Downtown". It's unmistakable. It's so similar, it must have been intentional.

I've noticed other modern rock hits sounding similar to older tunes. The Offspring's "Why Don't You Get a Job?" sounds almost exactly like The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". It's a blatant rip-off.

One of my favourite bands, Pearl Jam, are guilty of this as well. "Given To Fly" from Yield is eerily similar to Led Zeppelin's "Going to California". Still, the song kicks ass and is a personal favourite.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Mike, cords are very cool. No need to be ashamed.

     Vanessa

It's true, I now own a pair of cords. Vanessa, I find your words of encouragement comforting during this time. Thank you.

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Pirate Keith

Pirates of the CaribbeanI watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl this afternoon. It wasn't a bad flick, but I couldn't get past the Keith Richards-like antics of Johnny Depp's performance. If you haven't seen it yet, Depp plays Jack Sparrow as if he's imitating Keith Richards. The voice and mannerisms are bang on.

Watching Keith Richards as a pirate was the best part of the movie. His campy one-liners kept me from being bored. Depp did Keith proud.

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SLS Submission

SLS SubmissionI've just submitted a song via the Smells Like Sour website for SLS11 consideration.

I submitted "The Ex" by Billy Talent. I must admit I like this band's sound. Their breakthrough single "Try Honesty" appeared on SLS10 and "The Ex" is just as good. I believe it's SLS-worthy.

Please be assured this submission has nothing to do with the fact Billy Talent met while going to high school in Streetsville, Ontario and are named after the Billy Tallent character from one of my favourite movies, Hard Core Logo. My ears simply dig the tune.

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Nicely Said

The SimpsonsI thoroughly enjoyed The Observer's list of "300 Reasons We Love The Simpsons". In particular, I appreciate #23 on their list. I've reprinted it below.

Ideally, you should be able to watch each episode anew at five distinct stages in life. As a toddler, marvelling at all the bright colours; as a teenager, enjoying the tilts at authority; as a student, relishing the in-jokes and movie references; as an adult, musing on the truths about life, love and death; and in your dotage, marvelling at all the bright colours.

The Brits got it dead-on. This explains why James and I share the same favourite show. He's marvelling at all the bright colours while I'm musing on the truths about life, love and death. There must be a bit of a student left in me as well, because I also relish the in-jokes and movie references. And perhaps I'm still a teenager at heart because I do enjoy the tilts at authority. I marvel at all the bright colours too.

By the way, tonight's episode, entitled "I, D'oh-Bot", is a new one. Here's the description from simpsonsarchive.com: "Homer and Bart build a Robot Wars-style robot, but when they discover they don't know as much about building killer robots as they thought, Homer decides to get inside of it; Marge and Lisa are under the impression that Snowball II 'went to kitty heaven'". Enjoy!

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceYinka Dare was 32. He led the George Washington Colonials to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances before being drafted in the first-round of the NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets.

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Wearing Cords

Old NavyWhen Old Navy invaded Canada a couple of years back, the buzz was the quality wasn't great but the prices were reasonable. I've never bought anything at Old Navy, but that's mainly because I'm not one to buy myself clothes. I have certain tops and pants I find comfortable, and I keep to them. I once got a polar fleece top for Christmas that came from the Gap and I liked the feel of it so much I went out and got three of the same top in different colours. I like simple, comfy clothes and when I find something I like I'll wear it forever. That's just the way I'm wired.

Yesterday, Taryn went to our local Old Navy because she heard about a big sale they were having and James needs a few things (James always needs a few things). She picked him up a couple of nice pieces for $5 each, but she also came home with a pair of pants for me. A pair of brown corduroy pants that were at a price she simply couldn't pass up.

So, I have my first piece ever from Old Navy and my first ever pair of cords. I've always thought cords were the geekiest pants on the planet. Taryn swears they're in style right now, but I still can't see myself in cords. How can cords suddenly be cool? How am I supposed to pull this off?

I've been wearing them all day and I must admit they're rather comfy. There may have been a cords guy within me all along that I never had the courage to free. I'm wearing brown cords and I like it!

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."
      - Henry David Thoreau

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Maple Leafs 0, Devils 1

Go Leafs Go!The debut of Clarke Wilm wasn't enough last night as the Leafs were shut out by Martin Brodeur and the Devils. Eddie Belfour played well, but the offense was pretty much non existent.

Watching this game, it's my observation that the Leafs didn't want to win. There was no energy at all from the blue and white. We seemed completely uninspired. Where was the team from December that played like world-beaters? That team had better return before April, or it will be another tough summer for us Leaf fans.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
23-10-8-3
57 points
1-0 Loss vs. New Jersey Devils M. Sundin - 43
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 27

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Brrrr

ColdIt was a week ago today I asked if spring had sprung early. 12 Degrees Celsius in Toronto will cause such delusion. God, apparently, is not without a sense of humour.

The Weather Network claims it feels like -21 Degrees Celsius right now, which would make it the warmest it's been in a few days. It's bloody cold out. It's that bone chilling cold you still can't shake even 30 minutes after you've come inside. This is definitely winter.

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Spooky

SpookyWhen James is napping, I use a set of baby monitors so I can hear him while I'm hacking away on the computer. Moments ago, I heard someone whisper the word "Mike" through the baby monitor receiver. Besides myself, only James and Booner are in the house right now. Or so I think...

I ran to the source of the whisper and there was nothing. Taryn is still at that Lord of the Rings movie. The whispered "Mike" was so clear...do I have ghosts? Spooky.

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Scott Anderson and SLS

Scott AndersonI thought this was cool so I thought I'd share it. On our Smells Like Sour website, people can post comments and have a discussion on songs that are submitted for SLS consideration. Just last week I mentioned a few of the more interesting discussions and listed the one for Finger Eleven's "One Thing".

About an hour ago, lead singer of Finger Eleven, Scott Anderson, posted a comment explaining exactly what "One Thing" is about. I think it's pretty damn cool that we can have a discussion about the meaning of a song's lyrics and receive direct communiqué from the author setting the record straight. This is what it's all about!

A search for the four word's "finger eleven one thing" on Google, by the way, has our page at numero uno. That too is pretty cool.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"Being eaten by a crocodile is just like going to sleep...in a giant blender."

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Taming the Beast

Taming the BeastEarlier in the week I claimed we created a monster when we launched the Smells Like Sour website seven months ago. I'm pleased to say we've made some significant changes in an attempt to salvage the spirit of SLS on the web.

Henceforth when someone submits a song for SLS consideration, it will first be posted on a separate page and Mark and I will screen the entry to see if it qualifies. There are three reasons why songs don't qualify: they're too old, they've already been submitted or they're simply the completely wrong genre of music. If the song qualifies, we'll move it to the home page. If it doesn't qualify, we'll move it to this page.

This won't solve all the problems with our Smells Like Sour webpage, but at least it preserves the integrity of the home page. No more J.Lo, no more Fat Joe and no more Avril Lavigne.

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Matthew Goode

Matthew GoodeListening to CFNY Edge 102 today, I heard an advertisement for Chasing Liberty starring Mandy Moore. The advertisement gave me a jolt by announcing this was a film starring Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode. Remember, you can't tell Goode is spelled with an "e" on the radio.

I was a fan of the Matthew Good Band and saw them in concert three times. I frequently spin their Underdogs disc and wondered to myself if Matthew Good had taken up acting since his band broke up. Although it turned out to be a different guy with the same sounding name as the Canadian rocker, I'm certain the advertisement was attempting to mislead the CFNY Edge 102 listeners intentionally.

Think about it. Mandy Moore is a 19 year old former pop princess starring in a fluffy teenage romantic comedy. The target audience for this flick is teens and pre-teens who enjoy the music of Moore and her compatriots Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. This target audience will not be reached by advertising on CFNY Edge 102.

CFNY Edge 102 does play a lot of Matthew Good though. Matthew Good fans listen to CFNY Edge 102 and may be inclined to check out a movie he was starring in. I believe we were intentionally deceived!

The movie is a dog with fleas by the way. Bill Muller of the Arizona Republic says it best, "Not a pleasant way to spend an hour and 45 minutes."

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy Favourite Public Enemy Songs

  1. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos
  2. Bring tha Noize w/ Anthrax
  3. Night of the Living Baseheads
  4. Fight the Power
  5. Timebomb

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesInstant Audience Soundboard - Have you ever let out a real zinger at work but felt it needed a laugh track behind it? Have you ever made a real bad pun and wished there was a crowd booing you in the background? Have you ever demonstrated your brilliance and wished the accomplishment could be followed by a mass "Wow!". This link provides what could be the laugh track for your life. Ohhhhhh.

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Maple Leafs 1, Ottawa Senators 7

Go Leafs Go!The less said about this stinker, the better. Seven minutes in the Leafs were down 5-0. The 7-1 final was rather flaterring for Toronto considering the way we played last night.

In all fairness, the following players didn't dress for the blue and white last night: Eddie Belfour, Mats Sundin, Alexander Mogilny, Owen Nolan, Tomas Kaberle, Robert Reichel & Wade Belak.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
23-9-8-3
57 points
7-1 Loss vs. Ottawa Senators M. Sundin - 43
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 27

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House League T-Ball at Swansea's Rennie Park

The VaultI only introduced this feature yesterday, but the feedback was so positive I've decided to delve into the vault once more.

As a kid I played T-Ball. Where I played ball, you played T-Ball before "graduating" to softball. The thing about T-Ball was there wasn't three outs to an inning. You batted through the entire order each inning, so strategically you'd benefit from having your best hitter bat last. In 1985, I played house league T-Ball at Swansea's Rennie Park. Here's the crest they gave me for participating. I'm proud to say I batted last that season and moved on to softball in 1986.

T-Ball

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Making It Tougher

Making it TougherJames loves to sit down with a book and peruse the pages. He also loves to have Mommy or Daddy read to him. One of his favourite books at the moment is "There's a Wocket in my Pocket" by Dr. Suess. I have a few issues with this fact.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Dr. Suess' books. I myself enjoyed many a Dr. Suess book as a wee lad. My issue is with this particular "Book of Ridiculous Rhymes" for very young children who can't yet read.

You see, Dr. Suess makes up words to create a rhyme. This is a Dr. Suess trademark of sorts. He'll rhyme "bofa" with "sofa and "zable" with "table". How this is supposed to help a child learn to read I'll never understand. Learning to read English is not an easy task. Why do we make it that much tougher for kids by having them read books with fake words mixed in with real ones. James can't tell them apart. How is he supposed to know "bofa" is not an actual word? Shouldn't a child be able to read real words before we introduce fake ones for comedic purposes?

Before you tell me to take a chill-pill, please realize I'm not really that upset over the fact James has taken a liking to this nonsensical book containing the actual sentence "like the tellar and the nellar and the gellar and the dellar and the bellar and the wellar and the zellar in the cellar". I just find it interesting that we expect our children to learn to read proper English when the books we give them contains text that is at least a third non-existent in any decent dictionary. We're just making a tough task even tougher.

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Greg Rusedski

Greg RusedskiTennis player Greg Rusedski has tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone. Reading these reports brought back some pretty ill feelings I have towards this athlete. There are few I dislike as much as I dislike Rusedski.

Rusedski was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. He's as Canadian as I, and played professional tennis as a supposedly proud Canadian. In 1995 he applied to change the country he played for to Britain and based this on the fact his mother had lived in England until the age of four. He simply decided he didn't want to play for the country in which he lived and trained his entire life and opted to be regarded as British instead. His motives, no doubt, were monetary. Seeing him ham it up at Wimbledon sporting a Union Jack bandana was rather hard to digest. It was a cheesy move and I've detested him ever since.

What made the switch an even more bitter pill to swallow is the fact Canada has had such a difficult time producing a quality male tennis player. Rusedski was showing such promise in 1995 and there was a sense that we'd finally have a homegrown rooting interest on the ATP. Instead, he became a phony Brit and an ungrateful Canadian. Seeing his name attached to this controversy pleases me. Seeing he's now ranked 119th in the world pleases me even more.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

You're right, I failed to check the archives. Shame on me, shame.

     Vanessa

Yes, shame on you. For those just joining the discussion, Vanessa's Guest Blog entry will make more sense after you read her entry from earlier today.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

I've noticed a slight discrepency in the praise and adoration directed towards the younger Boon brothers. torontomike.com seems to do a lot of Ryan-loving, but what about the youngest and cutest brother of all -- Steve? Where is his adoration? Someone's playing favourites.

     Vanessa

Vanessa, I resent the implication I'm favouring Ryan over Steve. I'm sure you're basing your comments on the picture I posted of Ryan and I as kids and the birthday message I posted for Ryan on his 27th birthday.

I can honestly say there is no preference. I dig Ryan and Steve equally. I think your favouritism of Steve led to these offensive accusations. Did you peruse the archives before making these allegations?

Recently I reminisced about watching Conan with Steve, followed his advice and added Jonathan Brandis' untimely death to the Dead Pool (while making fun of Ryan in the same entry) and nominated Blink 182's "Feeling This" for inclusion on SLS 10 after speaking with him about it beforehand. And that was only December 2003.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceJ. Douglas Creighton was 75. He founded The Toronto Sun in 1971. Under Creighton's leadership, the "little paper that grew" became a national chain, including Suns in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.

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My Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa SmileAs I've written previously, I hate Julia Roberts. That's why it brought me such joy to read the following synopsis of Julia Roberts' latest film, Mona Lisa Smile. This appeared recently in Time Magazine and was written by Richard Corliss.

To judge from this appallingly reductive weepie, Wellesley College in 1953 was more close-minded than Selma, Alabama. The posh young ladies looked into their futures and saw not Marie Curie or Clare Boothe Luce or Ivy Baker Priest - she was Eisenhower's Secretary of the Treasury at the time = but Generic Wife of Prominent Gent. This canard is a libel on the millions of postwar middle-class working women (including my mother and her sisters, all teachers) who had some aspirations to do good and do well. The movie, with Julia Roberts as a progressive teacher corralling her own Dead Artists Society, also lies about the place in 50s American culture of Jackson Pollock, whose work shocks some students and faculty when Roberts shows it to them. (Pollock had been an American avant-icon at least since 1949, when LIFE magazine ran a famous story with the headline "Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?") But Mona Lisa Smile is awful for so many reasons beyond its historical irresponsibility. It reduces all supporting characters to stereotypes (this one a society bitch, that one a neurotic Jew, the third a self-deluding nerd). And, like Erin Brockovich, it tries to establish the Julia Roberts character as a saint by painting everyone else as a knave, a fool or a weakling. That's lazy moviemaking that shows a contempt for its audience's intelligence. Other than that, I liked it.

Reading that made my day.

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Ryan and Me as Kids

The VaultI was organizing some old pictures I have lying around when I came across this one of Ryan and I as kids.

I like this picture because I'm such a young tyke in my Blue Jays shirt and looking at an even younger Ryan I see a lot of my son James. There's definitely a family resemblance.

Just a couple of dudes hanging out on a bench on a hot summer day in Toronto. One of my favourite pictures shared with you from the vault.

Ryan and I as Kids

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Blame Canada

Blame CanadaOn December 23rd, agriculture officials announced the latest mad cow diagnosis in Washington State, marking the first time the disease has been found in the United States. This shocking development was followed four days later by the announcement the infected Holstein was born in Canada. Blame Canada for America's mad cow scare.

Back on August 14th, many of us were hit by the worst black out in North American history. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Governor George Pataki were quick to claim the blackout originated here in Ontario. The facts would later prove a failure to contain problems with three transmission lines in northern Ohio was the likely trigger. Still, the initial reaction was to blame Canada for America's worst black out ever.

Even after 9/11, erroneous reports fueled popular belief among Americans that several of the terrorists entered their country from Canada. The portrayal of Canada as a sort of refuge for terrorist cells was commonplace in the American media. As printed in the Washington Times back in January 2003, "Over the last two weeks, front page reports have trumpeted the claim of "Five Terrorists Heading to the US From Canada," and several self-appointed experts and analysts have stated or implied that Canada is the "Achilles heel" of US homeland security. Yet last Tuesday, the FBI announced that the account of the five entering the United States was fabricated and withdrew the photos of the five from its website." The worst terrorist action in American history and some felt it fitting to blame Canada.

It seems that many of America's recent crises, from the extreme with 9/11 to the annoying blackout and the economically devastating disaster that is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, are initially blamed on Canada. It's as if our geographic locale directly above Uncle Sam makes us a natural target for such reflex actions. They always blame Canada first.

It seems that everythings gone wrong,
Since Canada came along.
Blame Canada,
Blame Canada.

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Hooray For Everything Name Origin

Hooray For EverythingWith the name Hooray For Everything being retired, I thought we'd take one last trip down memory lane to explore the origin of the name. For the record, Hooray For Everything as a ball team was extremely successful. In four seasons, we won the championship three times. Where did the name come from? The name Hooray for Everything comes from "The Simpsons", and is a tribute to our enduring love of the show.

Hooray for Everything first appears in episode 7F07 "Bart vs Thanksgiving". During halftime of the traditional Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving, Hooray for Everything perform "Get Dancin'" by Disco Tex and his Sex-o-lettes. Here's an excerpt:

Announcer: And now, get set for our fabulous halftime show, featuring the well-groomed young go-getters of `Hooray for Everything!'
Homer: Oh, I love those kids. They've got such a great attitude!
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, 'Hooray for Everything' invites you to join them in a salute to the greatest hemisphere on earth, the Western Hemisphere! The dancingest hemisphere of all!

Hooray for Everything next appeared in episode 9F11 "Selma's Choice". While the Simpsons watch TV, an ad for Duff Gardens sounds like this:

Announcer: Come to Duff Gardens, where roaming gangs aren't a problem anymore. Now featuring the clean-shaven sound of "Hooray for Everything"!
Hooray for Everything: Hey, kids. Take a walk on the wild side!
Hooray for Everything: And all the races sing... Shoo-be-doo, shooby-dooby-doo, shoo-be-do, shooby-dooby-doo, yeah!

Hooray For Everything will be missed.

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Hooray For Everything Vote Results

Hooray For EverythingA few weeks ago, I announced that the Hooray For Everything slo-pitch team was changing its name. Members of the team were invited to visit our voting page and cast a vote for one of the nicknames listed. Voting has come to a close and the results are now final.

The final totals are:

Raging Storm - 6 votes
Bad Monkeys - 1 vote
The Homers - 1 vote

So, Hooray For Everything is now the Raging Storm. Raging Storm is going to need a home page, so I'll get on that just as soon as I find our our new logo, colour scheme, etc. I'm going to miss calling us Hooray For Everything. Why did we have to change our name anyway?

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Happy Birthday Jen!

Happy Birthday JenHere's hoping Jen has a happy birthday today.

While I'm at it, congratulations to Jen and her fiancé Barry who got engaged last week. It's about damn time. I understand an engagement is symbolic as the time a couple agree to marry, but I never understood the years of being engaged to be engaged. Is the promise to get engaged in fact the actual engagement since it is an agreement to eventually get married? And if that's the case, isn't this congratulation less so for the engagement and more so for the fact Jen got an expensive ring?

Whatever the fact, at this time next year Jen and Barry will be married and that's swell. We'll call them Barrifer.

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The S Factor

The S FactorYesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a column by Neal Starkman who attempts to explain the popularity of Dubya south of the border.

Starkman observes the fact the president's popularity hovers at around 50 percent. He asks, "What can explain his popularity? Can that many people be enamored of what he has accomplished in Iraq? Of how he has fortified our constitutional freedoms with the USA Patriot Act? Of how he has bolstered our economy? Of how he has protected our environment? Perhaps they've been impressed with the president's personal integrity and the articulation of his grand vision for America?" Of course, the answer to all of the above is a definite "no".

Dubya remains astonishingly popular in the United States because of the S Factor, or the Stupid Factor if you will. "It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think."

I agree with Starkman's comments. The S Factor has been around forever and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. The S Factor is not an American monopoly, it can be found in every country. These are the people who keep Jerry Springer on the air, ensure Dude, Where's My Car? has a sequel and create a demand for story after story about Bennifer. The S Factor will get Dubya re-elected in November, in spite of the fact few Americans can honestly say their life is better today than it was 4 years ago.

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Maple Leafs 2, Predators 1

Go Leafs Go!The Leafs won for the first time after trailing after two periods thanks to two Bryan McCabe goals in the third. Mats Sundin picked up an assist on both goals and Trevor Kidd had a pretty good game between the pipes.

Tomas Kaberle isn't one to throw his body around, so he picked an interesting time to deliver one of his best checks to date. The target (a mistake we presume) was Gary Roberts and Kaberle is out of the lineup with an injured shoulder as a result. Injuries are starting to pile up with Owen Nolan, Eddie Belfour and Alexander Mogilny still out with injuries. Perhaps we should sit Sundin and Roberts now as a precautionary measure?

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
23-8-8-3
57 points
2-1 Win vs. Nashville Predators M. Sundin - 43
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 27

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesSubtly Simpsons - As the site says, "What follows is a list of lines from The Simpsons that we, your editors, have found to be particularly witty, often with their humor derived from subtleties of language, esoteric allusions, or just plain wit." It's a must-visit for fans of my favourite show.

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Paul Molitor

Paul MolitorPaul Molitor has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, being picked on 431 of 506 ballots (85.2 per cent) cast by reporters who have been members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for 10 or more years.

Molitor is beloved by Blue Jays fans. He was MVP of our 1993 World Series title giving his all during three season in Toronto. He becomes only the third Blue Jay ever elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Phil Niekro and Dave Winfield. Neikro merely stopped by for a cup of coffee while Winfield helped power us to our first World Series title before being replace at DH by Molitor for the 1993 season.

There were few Blue Jays I admired as much as Molitor. The man was one of the best pure hitters I've ever had the pleasure to watch. In 21 seasons he batted .306 and amassed 3,319 hits. He's the only player in history to reach 3,000 hits, 500 steals and hit 200 home runs. It's also worth noting he was the only Blue Jay at the time to spend his winters in Toronto. He embraced our city and we embraced him back.

Congratulations Paul Molitor, a more-than-worthy member of the Hall of Fame.

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Creating a Monster

Creating a MonsterAbout seven months ago, Mark Carey and I brought Smells Like Sour to the web. Smells Like Sour is a hypothetical compilation series of New Rock songs, with a new release every six months. I've posted the songlists from the past two editions here and here and a database of all SLS songs here.

The idea was simple. The general public would be allowed to submit songs for SLS consideration and comment on those that have already been submitted. In a sense, it worked. All songs from the recent SLS10 were secured from submissions to the site, although all songs chosen were submitted by either Mark or I. Also, there are some fairly entertaining discussions going on about Finger Eleven's "One Thing", the merits of Good Charlotte, the merits of Simple Plan and more. So, in a sense, the SLS site is doing what it was supposed to do. Then why am I so displeased with the results seven months later?

Here's the problem. We've given a voice to the general populous and specifically those who might peruse the web for bulletin boards about their favourite band or tune. This is exactly the crowd I don't want suggesting songs for SLS. SLS is too important a franchise to leave in the hands of the general public.

I still visit the SLS site on a regular basis to see what people are saying about what and what songs they are suggesting for SLS11, but each time I'm greatly disappointed. I'm sick of songs being submitted that are way too old or others that are of a totally different genre. Futhermore, people keep submitting songs that appeared on a previous SLS or are really, really bad. Do people even read the rules? Of course not. When June rolls around and it's time to choose the best 80 minutes of the previous six months for SLS11, Mark and I will end up doing what we've always done: negotiate amongst ourselves from our own personal list of favourites.

I'm not giving up on the SLS site as I believe it still has potential, but something has to change. As it stands, it's nothing more than a place for pre-teens to confess their love for the latest boy band posing as punks, written in IM-speak I can barely understand. SLS deserves better.

In the future, I'll add a line to this site every time I hear a song I believe to be SLS-worthy. You're welcome to contact me if you have a suggestion or a comment about one of my submissions. I'll still submit these tunes to the SLS page, but tracking them here will save me from wading in the cesspool of crap that has become of our Smells Like Sour vision. It's truly starting to turn sour and that's disappointing.

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Box Office Decline

Box Office DeclineIn 2003, U.S. and Canadian box office revenues fell for the first time since 1991. Attendance slid by 4.5 percent causing some concern in Hollywood.

Is it that there are too many alternatives these days with DVD, video games and the Internet? Is it that tickets now cost well over $10? No and no, because 2002 was a blockbuster year for the movie industry and other entertainment options and high-priced tickets were in existence then. There is only one reason 2003 was such a disappointing year at the box office. The movies stunk.

If Hollywood would spend just a little more time creating a good script and ensuring the movies they release are quality, I'll bet they see a jump at the box office. Marketing will only buy you a good opening weekend. It's positive buzz and word of mouth that keeps the money flowing past week one. 2003 gave us such dogs as "Gigli", "Daredevil", "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life", "Kangaroo Jack", "Mona Lisa Smile", "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat", "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle", "Bad Boys 2", "From Justin to Kelly", "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde", "Uptown Girls", "Beyond Borders" and "Daddy Day Care". Even movies I wanted to be good received poor reviews, like "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions". I myself only got to the theatre twice in 2003, once for a great movie and once for a terrible movie. I don't think I've been to the theatre less since I was 3. It was a terrible year for flicks.

I would like to see more good movies. That's all. I'm tired of all the crappy movies being made.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceTug McGraw was 59. He's the zany relief pitcher who coined the phrase "You Gotta Believe" with the New York Mets and later closed out Philadelphia's only World Series championship.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Hey Mike,

I just wanted to say that your site is really great, it also gives me something interesting to read when I'm bored shitless in my dorm room.

Anyways just I wanted to tell all my boon cousins, and your wife, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Go Leafs Go!

     Adrian Gibbons

Happy New Year to you too. Being bored shitless sounds like nirvana to me. I sincerely miss those moments at U of T when I was truly bored shitless. You make being bored shitless sound like a bad thing.

April 4th is the last day of regular season action in the NHL. That means we'll be drafting our annual playoff pool on either April 5th or 6th. If you're in Toronto those dates, you should come to the draft. I'll post more details closer to that date. Anyone else who knows me and will be in Toronto on those dates should contact me and let me know if you're interested. It's always awesome and you don't want to miss out. Last year's results are archived here.

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

Welcome home sweet baby James.

'Nuff said.

     Tim et all

Agreed. We just had toast and Cheerios. At 10 it's a couple of puffers and some steriods. So far so good so it looks like I'll be seeing you tomorrow. Thanks for the note!

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Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 0

Go Leafs Go!Playing the Mario Lemieux-less Pittsburgh Penguins is a lot like facing an AHL club. Your backup goaltender can record a shutout, Nathan Perrott can score a goal and Tie Domi can have a multiple point game. Nevertheless, it was a convincing victory with scoring coming from five different players. We'll take the points any way we can get them.

The Leafs are 17-0-3-1 when leading after two periods, something Team Canada could learn a thing or two about.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
22-8-8-3
55 points
5-0 Win vs. Pittsburgh Penguins M. Sundin - 41
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 26

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

CYEOne of the funniest shows I've ever had the privilege of watching is Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm". This show nails every funny bone in my body with a vengeance. I've seen every episode from the first three seasons numerous times each, and the hilarity intensifies with every viewing. I'm a huge "Seinfeld" fan, but I find Curb Your Enthusiasm to be even funnier fare.

Season 4 premiers on The Movie Network tomorrow night at 8:30 pm. If you don't have TMN, or if you just want to see what you've been missing, my friend maintains a Curb Your Enthusiasm site and has each episode available to download.

Watch an episode or two and tell me if this isn't the funniest show you've ever seen.

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Popular Names

InterestingI stumbled upon a website entitled Name Statistics that lists the most popular first and last names in the United States and allows you to search for your name to see where it ranks.

Michael was ranked as the fourth most common male name, although it was the second most popular baby boy name of 2002. 3,220,525 American men are named Michael while an additional 231,525 are named Mike. Are there really people with the name Mike on their birth certificate? I assumed every Mike was really a Michael like me. Regardless, few names are as common as mine and I can vouch for that. It wasn't unusual for me to share as class room of 30 with two or three others with the same name as I. In fact, On my slo-pitch team of 15 people, I'm one of three Mike's. When I hear someone call my name on the street, I rarely turn around. I've learned that it's almost never for me and I just end up looking silly. I'm more likely to turn around when I hear someone calling "Dude".

Speaking of popular names, I apparently don't even have the most common name in my little family of three. James is the most popular name for males in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 3.318% of men in the U.S. have the name James on their birth certificate. It's also an extremely common last name ranking 71st among U.S. surnames in popularity.

Taryn, on the other hand, can safely turn around when she hears her name being called. Unlike the two men she lives with, he name is rather unique. Only 8,925 U.S. females share her name.

My mom's name is ranked number one amongst females while both my brothers rank in the top fifty. Because you're curious, below are the top five names for each sex.

Top Five Male Names in the U.S.

  1. James
  2. John
  3. Robert
  4. Michael
  5. William

Top Five Female Names in the U.S.

  1. Mary
  2. Patricia
  3. Linda
  4. Barbara
  5. Elizabeth

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James Update

James UpdateWe're back! Just in time for Daddy to watch the World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal final from his own living room, James was discharged from the hospital. Honourably, I might add.

He'd been there since 2003 battling the big P, but now he's home and sleeping comfortably in his own bed as I type this entry.

It's not all good. We'll be treating him for Asthma during the winter months and he's not allowed to have any stuffed animals. Apparently, these toys are a haven for dust mites which is a big no-no. One of the victims of this proclamation is his favourite little Homer Simpson doll. He loves Homer. Oh well. At least he's home and on his way to a full recovery. "There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway. A song that they sing when they take to the sea. A song that they sing of their home in the sky. Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep. But singing works just fine for me."

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Silver Sucks

Silver SucksFor the third World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal final in a row, Team Canada failed to hold the lead. This time, they led the U.S. team 3-1 in the third before losing 4-3 on one of the flukiest goals you'll ever see. Marc-Andre Fleury was attempting to clear the puck but inadvertently deflected it off his teammate in the process. The puck bounced into the Canadian net and once again we had to settle for silver.

When it comes to hockey, silver sucks. This is the one sport from which we demand a first place finish every time at every level. A silver medal in skiing or boxing would be widely celebrated, but in hockey, it's as good as finishing last. I challenge you to find me one Canadian who is proud of our second place finish today.

It's now been seven years since Canada won the gold at the World Junior Hockey Championship. In Canada, that's an eternity. I'd say wait until next year, but I uttered that exact phrase following our loss to the Russians in last year's gold medal match. Hell, I'm saying it again. Wait until next year...

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Top 102 Songs of 2003

Best Songs of 2003On New Year's Eve I posted my five favourite tunes of 2003. My only rule was that the song had to have been released in 2003. Songs released in 2002 that experienced most of their airplay in 2003 were ineligible. To refresh your memory, here was my top five.

  1. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
  2. The Distillers - Drain The Blood
  3. The Strokes - 12:51
  4. Stone Temple Pilots - All In The Suit That You Wear
  5. Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl

Later that night, CFNY Edge 102 played their top 102 songs of 2003. Below I will reveal my feelings about their top five. Unlike my list, CFNY Edge 102 did not insist that the song be released in 2003. Here are their top five and my comments.

  1. Linkin Park - Somewhere I Belong
    I'm rather shocked this is ranked as high as #1. I enjoy Linkin Park as much as the next guy, but this was only the third best song off of Meteora to receive heavy air play in 2003. I'll take the far superior "Faint" or "Numb" any day of the week. They were ranked #9 and #29 respectively. Does anyone really think "Somewhere I Belong" is a better song than "Faint"? If you do, write me.
  2. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
    What more can I say about the tune I had ranked as my favourite of 2003. The haunting simplicity of that bass line still finds its way into my psyche on a regular basis. The entire Elephant CD is great, but this was one helluva lead single. Awesome tune.
  3. Audioslave - Like A Stone
    I'm a huge fan of this entire CD. It's fair to say this band had me at hello. When I first read that the members of Rage Against the Machine were forming a group with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, it was music to my ears. I'm a huge fan of both Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden, and Audioslave didn't disappoint. I too read the mediocre reviews, but then I gave it a spin. "Chohise" was one of my favourite tracks of 2002 (along with Nirvana's "You Know You're Right", Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows" and Johnny Cash's "Hurt") and this melodic trip ranks right up there as well. Of course, all songs off this CD did not qualify for my top five, having been released in November of 2002.
  4. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Can't Stop
    Lord knows CFNY Edge 102 played this song enough, but I just couldn't get into it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It was a catchy ditty that I found myself singing each time I heard it, but I can't say it deserved a ranking as high as this.
  5. Three Days Grace - I Hate Everything About You
    And now for the CanCon portion of our chart. Three Days Grace are a Toronto-based trio originally from Norwood, Ontario. Don't get me wrong, "I Hate Everything About You" was a great tune, but the fifth best song of the year? Not if they're from Texas. Naturally, CFNY Edge 102 is going to favour a young Toronto-based band like this, and there's nothing wrong with that. A top five without any Canadian representation would be just wrong!

There you have it, my reaction to CFNY Edge 102's top five songs of 2003. If you're curious where the rest of my top five ranked on their chart, they had The Distillers at #94, The Strokes at #34, Stone Temple Pilots at #64 and Jet at #31.

I'm on my way back to the hospital now. If all goes well, James will be coming home tomorrow. I'm just looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, something I've yet to do this year. I'll update you all on his status tomorrow.

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File Sharing

File SharingReaders of this site know I try to keep abreast of the ongoing battle between the music industry and file sharers. I'll be posting significant developments as they arise both here in Canada or in the United States.

I just read Kate Taylor's article in Saturday's Globe & Mail. I agree with her that the legality or illegality of it all is so wishy-washy it's virtually impossible for a Canadian to know what's a violation of copyright law and what's not. There were significant victories for downloaders in Canada and the U.S. yet still a promise from the CRIA to file lawsuits. Kate Taylor sums up the current status below.

CRIA has specifically stated, however, that it will not sue mere downloaders. Although CRIA argues the practice is illegal, when you download a music file from the Net, you could be considered to be making a single copy for personal use, which is permitted under copyright law. When you upload, that is when you allow other users to copy your copy, you are on much shakier legal ground because you are distributing the music. And it is the users with thousands of music files sitting on their computers and available for sharing who are the industry's target for lawsuits.

In 2004, there should be more concrete developments in this arena so stay tuned.

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory."
      - Albert Schweitzer

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Maple Leafs 3, Sabres 3

Go Leafs Go!Trailing 3-1 in the third period, I half expected the Leafs to fold like a cheap suit. Then, wave after wave of Leaf forwards began crashing the Sabres net and a comeback appeared imminent. O captain! My captain! Mats Sundin scored to bring us within a goal of forcing overtime and Matt Stajan tipped a shot from unlikely offensive hero Ken Klee to bring us even.

Klee's point production this season is most unexpected. His previous high for points in a season was 20 in 1998 and again in 1999. Already this season he's amassed 23 points for the blue and white.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
21-8-8-3
51 points
3-3 Tie vs. Buffalo Sabres M. Sundin - 40
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 26

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Britney Costanza?

Britney Costanza?I'm just catching up on my news after another night in the hospital. Are these news reports accurate? Did Britney Spears marry Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame in Las Vegas?

"I have to get out of this! The wedding is next month! I know, I'll take a plane somewhere and maybe it will crash!" - George Costanza
"That's like a million to one chance!" - Jerry Seinfeld
"Well it's hope!" - George Costanza

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesCBC Newsworld Hourly News - This is very cool. Watch CBC Newsworld's Hourly News on demand with this link. It's a great way to catch up on current events. You can also view the most recent episodes of The National and Canada Now. If you prefer radio feeds, you can listen to the Hourly News, World Report or The World at Six from CBC Radio.

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Is This Spring?

Spring?I feel like I fell asleep for a few months and have awakened in April or May. Is this spring?

Currently we're sitting at 12 Degrees Celsius here in Toronto. I don't know if this is spring, but I do know it's unreal.

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Going For Gold

Going for GoldTeam Canada dominated the team from the Czech Republic this morning, beating them 7-1 in the semi-final matchup at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Finland.

Canada will face the winner of the semi-final between the U.S. and Finland for the gold medal on Monday at noon. It's currently 1-0 for the Americans going into the third period. Last year we lost a heart breaker to the Russians in the finals so I'm looking for nothing short of gold on Monday. The U.S. team was the pre-tournament favourite in some people's books, but not in mine. This is our tournament to lose and I don't expect to be on the losing end of Monday's contest.

Go Canada Go!

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Guest Blog Entry

Guest Blog SubmissionAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following submission earlier today.

My grandson has been hospitalized for the past few days with pneumonia, a life-threatening disease if not treated properly. He had been very sick but doctors misdiagnosed it and thought he had a virus. As he deteriorated to the point where he slept 24 hrs except when receiving liquids it became evident that he would have to go to hospital on New Year's Eve. His progress is slow but he continues to improve. It is difficult to watch him breathing and seeing him hooked up to many gadgets to assess his condition minute to minute. Oxygen has been the main worry because with his lungs having been blocked so much when entering the hospital, the oxygen that goes through our mainstream without our thinking about it is blocked for him. He is not receiving enough oxygen yet for the doctors to feel that he can safely return home. I can honestly question why anyone would destroy the oxygen they are lucky to have naturally with such a serious substance as cigarettes that they pay great amounts of money to receive. There are things in our environment that are difficult to change with the growing metropolis and all that goes with that. But people, for heaven's sake, take a good look at those tobacco sticks that you inhale so fiercely and think about not only yourselves but others around you. The government is never going to illegalize such a horrific act as it is a gold mine for them in taxes, so it is your fight for every breath with a government that profits daily from your mistakes. For my grandson, sweet baby James, think about what you are doing, but most of all for yourself. Quit smoking before it's too late. It will only cause you and your loved ones pain down the road.

     Grandma Mary

Mom, it's about time you wrote a Guest Blog Entry. Taryn and I don't smoke and my home is definitely a non-smoking household because I know the damage inhaling cigarette smoke can cause. I agree and appreciate your sentiment. When you see someone you love struggling for oxygen you have to stop and wonder why others willingly pollute this vital act by smoking. Of course, nicotine is addictive, and there's no doubt it can be extremely difficult to quit something you're hooked on chemically. There is help for those who need it, but most of all one requires a desire to quit and the will to endure some tough weeks ahead.

I know you're concerned about your grandson, so I think this is a good time for a brief James update. He's still in the hospital, and he'll most likely be there for a few more days. He had a very bad bout of pneumonia, and the doctors believe this is due to underlying undiagnosed asthma. Essentially, we're still waiting for the antibiotics to reduce the liquid on his little lungs so he can get enough oxygen. It's not good, but it could be worse. He has made quite a bit of progress and we expect him to be fully recovered within the week. Once home, he will be treated as if he has asthma with a puffer he'll take twice daily.

I'll be going back to him in a little while for the night as we've got a Leafs game to watch. Slowly but surely the energetic, talkative 23 month old is returning and it's a great sight to see. The worst is behind us. Go Leafs Go!

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"Weasling out of work is important to learn; it is what separates humans from animals. Except for weasels."

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveI'm aware I'm a day late with the Friday Five, but moments when I have access to an Internet-connected computer have been scarce lately.

My Favourite Cereals

  1. Rice Krispies
  2. Shreddies
  3. Raisin Bran
  4. Quaker Instant Oatmeal
  5. Frosted Flakes

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A Centralized Health Database

A Centralized DatabaseAs I wrote yesterday, I took James to two different doctors in the three days before he was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. I should also point out that during the one day I didn't have James at a medical facility I was in the emergency room with Taryn who has been quite sick herself lately. Since James was admitted three days ago, he was in the pediatric emergency room for a night before being admitted to the pediatric wing of the same hospital. In the process, there were conversations with several different doctors and nurses. It is with the sweat, blood and tears shed over this past week's experience I write the following entry.

Ontario desperately needs an Internet-based centralized health database. Back in October I wrote about the Alberta Electronic Health Record, an Internet database of patients' medical information that will be used by almost all health professionals in the province. Every citizen's health record, such as prescription history, allergies, lab test results and ailments, can be accessed by doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals who would need to view and update this information. The end result of this centralized, streamlined communication is better healthcare for patients. At the time, I urged all of Canada to follow Alberta's lead and harness the true power of the Internet.

During the past week, I found myself being asked an identical series of questions by numerous nurses and doctors from different facilities. I would even get the exact same questions from different departments within the same hospital or even different staff in the same department. Does James have any allergies? Does he take any medication? Is he generally healthy? Has he had his shots? There are many other questions that seemed to be standard. As I answered them over and over and over again, I just hoped my answers were consistent. At times I found myself forgetting exactly which antibiotic caused that rash a few months ago or exactly which shots he's received thus far. During this exercise in frustration I kept wondering why we didn't have an electronic health record for James.

If Ontario had instituted such a program, every doctor that has treated James during his two years of life could have recorded the diagnosis and prescribed medications in such a database. This is also where his pediatrician could record the shots James has received and the clinic we went to to get his flu shot could have recorded that fact. All pertinent medical information that a doctor would need to determine necessary action would be accessible to him or her via this database. And best of all, it would be up to date and far more accurate than my memory. What if James became ill and neither of his parents were with him? In an instance such as this, an Internet database of his medical information could save his life.

I'm on my way back to the hospital now for the night. I'm already in answer-mode.

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2003 Year-End Google Zeitgeist

2003 Year-End Google ZeitgeistGoogle has released their 10 most popular queries for 2003. I can't think of a better way to take the pulse of the world than by analyzing popular search queries. Below is the 10 most popular queries for 2003 throughout the entire world.

  1. Britney Spears
  2. Harry Potter
  3. Matrix
  4. Shakira
  5. David Beckham
  6. 50 Cent
  7. Iraq
  8. Lord of the Rings
  9. Kobe Bryant
  10. Tour de France

Here are the 10 most popular queries for 2003 in Canada.

  1. Finding Nemo
  2. Paris Hilton
  3. Inuyasha
  4. Canada 411
  5. Orlando Bloom
  6. Loft Story
  7. Canadian Tire
  8. Michael Jackson
  9. Toronto Star
  10. Toronto Maple Leafs

I myself had to Google Inuyasha and Loft Story to figure what the hell they were about (Japanese Anime and a French reality show respectively). It's interesting how high Lord of the Rings ranks globally while Orlando Bloom is the more popular search on the subject in Canada. I also like how we don't like being teased in Canada. World-wide, people are searching for "Britney Spears" and "Shakira" while Canadians go all the way in search of the infamous Paris Hilton video. If we want to see skin, we want to see everything.

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Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 3

Go Leafs Go!James was finally given a room in the pediatric wing of the hospital which meant we finally had a TV. With the game on TSN, I brought my Freeplay Ranger just in case we were without cable, because the Leafs were in Boston and James and I were ready for another Leafs win.

Unfortunately, the Bruins had other plans. I'm not sounding the alarm bells yes, but the blue and white haven't won since December 26th. Our lead over Ottawa in the North East Division is now a mere six points and the Sens have a couple of games in hand.

Current Record  Last Game Season Leaders
21-8-7-3
50 points
3-2 Loss vs. Boston Bruins M. Sundin - 38
O. Nolan - 28
G. Roberts - 25

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My New Year's Eve

My New Year's EveWhere were you when the New Year arrived? What were you doing? Were you at a party? Were you at a nightclub? Did you have a good time? This entry is about how I spent New Year's Eve 2003 and welcomed 2004.

James has been rather sick for days. About five days ago he awoke from his nap with a fever and zero appetite. The next day I took him to the clinic where he was diagnosed with a cold and we were instructed to manage the symptoms with Tempra and keep an eye on him. A couple of days later when he failed to improve, I took him back to the clinic to be seen by another doctor. This time, an ear infection was detected and we were given antibiotics to clear things up. The extreme lethargy James was displaying was so entirely out of character (even for a sickie) I found myself in the emergency room last night demanding he be reevaluated. This time, the diagnosis had evolved into something a little more serious. James has pneumonia.

There was the oxygen mask because his oxygen levels were low, there was the intravenous to keep him hydrated and to give him antibiotics, there was the withdrawal of blood and chest x-rays to determine the extent of his pneumonia. All of this in the pediatric emergency room and it was approximately 11:00 pm EST. James was admitted for a minimum 48-72 hours, but there were no beds available. The nurse blamed SARs, claiming new rules limited one child to each room, and the rooms that were previously used by four children were now holding one. So, James and I were stuck in the ER for the night, but were given a stretcher-like cot to sleep on. This cot was a little narrow for me, let alone a sick child in an oxygen mask and intravenous injected into his little arm. I managed to squeeze myself against the bars of the cot so that I wasn't interfering with the flow of the intravenous but could still keep James' oxygen mask on his face in spite of his attempts to rip it off every few minutes. At this point I glanced at the big digital clock on the wall and it read 11:51.

Nine minutes later, an announcement was placed over the intercom wishing all of us in the emergency room on New Year's Eve a Happy New Year. I leaned in and gave James a kiss on the cheek whispering in his infected ear "Happy New Year Sweet Baby James. 2004 is going to be a great year." And it will be.

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