April 2004 Archives

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Maple Leafs 3, Philadelphia Flyers 1

Go Leafs Go!When you have to win, it's nice to have a captain you can lean on. Over the years there have been many who didn't think Mats Sundin was worthy of the C and that he never came through when needed most. Tonight, Sundin once again proved the nay sayers wrong by scoring two huge goals in a big win for the Maple Leafs. He's our best player who doesn't tend goal, and he provided the spark we needed after a horrendous Bryan McCabe giveaway led to a demoralizing Flyers goal early in the first. McCabe should send Sundin flowers.

It's now a best-of-three with only one more game remaining at the ACC where we have excelled of late. We're going to have to win in Philly if we want to face Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference crown, we may as well win on Sunday. For those of you on auto-pilot expecting us to face off at 19:00 EST on Sunday, consider yourselves warned. It's a 16:00 EST start, so you'll be able to catch The Simpsons without the aid of a VCR.

Philadelphia has looked awfully flat the past two games and nothing like the team that destroyed New Jersey in five and took the first two games of our series. As I've said before, we should have won game two and could have won game one, so there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't win this series. This is especially true if Ed Belfour continues to play as he has thus far. Eddie has been better than steady and looks as focused as ever. Lets keep this rock rolling.

Series tied 2-2

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Online Banking

BankingI'm old enough to remember a time when I actually had to visit a bank to pay a bill or transfer money from one account to another. Seriously, if I owed money on the Visa or if I had a cable bill to pay, I had to physically visit a bank to pay the bill at the bank machine. At least I never had to actually line up to deal with a teller for such transactions. But still, I had to geographically position myself in order to pay that bill I got in the mail.

I can't imagine doing that today. I almost never visit a bank. Like many, I pay my bills and do most banking transactions via the Internet and I've been doing so for years. In fact, both my telephone and cable bills are sent to me via email and I ding my credit card for the appropriate amount via their respective websites. For the vendors who don't offer email billing, I still get that piece of paper via snail mail, but I pay it at my computer while I'm surfing the web.

The Internet has completely revolutionized the way we work and do business. It's a tool I use several times daily for various purposes and I no longer know how I'd function without it. To think this is just the tip of the iceberg. What an age we live in.

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy favourite Maple Leaf goals

  1. Bill Barilko's cup winner in 1951
  2. Bobby Baun's cup winner in 1964
  3. Nikolai Borschevsky's 1993 Game 7 OT winner vs Detroit
  4. Lanny MacDonald's 1978 Game 7 OT winner vs the Islanders
  5. Doug Gilmour's 1993 wrap-around OT winner vs St. Louis

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Pool Update: Day Twenty Three

Playoff PoolAu revoir Canadiens. Montreal has been swept in four and Joe suffers as he loses two of his players in our 2004 playoff pool including his high scorer, Alexi Kovalev. Alexi Chabane appears to be clicking along nicely as he picked up another four points last night to increase his lead over Ryan to four. Alexi has a couple of Colorado players though, so his lead may be short lived.

For the current standings go here.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceSid Smith was 78. He was a a former Toronto Maple Leafs captain and three-time Stanley Cup winner with the blue and white. In 601 NHL games, Smith scored 186 goals and assisted on 183. When he retired only three active players had scored more goals -- Gordie Howe, Maurice (Rocket) Richard and Ted Lindsay.

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Not Sold Out Yet

Edgefest 2004Back in March I bitched openly about the crappy Edgefest 2004 line up. You may recall I exchanged emails with Alan Cross in which he stated, and I quote, "If we manage to sell out the show this week (which is something we think we'll do), we'll have enough cash to maybe do something else this summer". Alan was justifying the inclusion of Good Charlotte as headliners. It's all about moving units, apparently.

All week long I've been hearing radio advertisements for Edgefest 2004. Tickets are still available, it seems. Not only did they not sell out that week in late March, but it's almost May and they still haven't sold out. I wonder why?

Edgefest 2004 hasn't sold as well as Alan Cross hoped because it's being headlined by Good Charlotte. The people who listen to CFNY Edge 102 and the people who would be interested in the Edgefest franchise don't want to spend their hard earned money to sit around all afternoon when the closing band is Good Charlotte. What a joke. I hope CFNY Edge 102 takes a bath on this one. It serves them right.

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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.

Wow, your little tyke is adorable...congrats...

     Stella

Am I living in the bizarro world? Does hello now mean goodbye and good mean bad? Has my arch nemesis Stella written a Guest Blog in which she not only compliments my offspring but also congratulates me?

Now that I've picked myself up off of the floor, I can continue with my response. To you, dear Stella, I simply say...Thanks!

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New Pictures

New PicturesI took a few more pictures with the Olympus Camedia C-50 Zoom I borrowed. I've posted four new ones of James in Pictures.

Did I mention I want a digital camera?

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Donald S. Cherry

Donald S. CherryThe Globe and mail is reporting that the relationship between the CBC and Coach's Corner host Don Cherry is so strained that they are preparing to sever it at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

I don't agree with everything Don Cherry says, but I'm a big fan of his. Following the first period during Hockey Night in Canada I don't go anywhere until after Coach's Corner. Don knows hockey and isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and bluntly share his thoughts with us. Recently, Don found himself in some pretty hot water after stating the fact that most NHL players wearing visors are "European or French guys." The language police are still investigating. I'm still embarrassed.

I'll be very sorry if there's no Don Cherry around after the first period to tell me what he thinks about my Maple Leafs or the latest controversy. My brothers will tell you I had a cardboard cut-out of Don Cherry giving me the thumbs up in my bedroom for years. I still have that cardboard cut-out in my basement. I've never had the privilege of meeting him, but Taryn and James did and he was nice enough to pose for this picture.

It's a shame we have such an issue with a man who refuses to speak "diplomatically". We don't have to agree with his opinions, but it would be nice if we were allowed to hear them. Especially on a Saturday night during the first intermission.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceMike Wadsworth was 60. He was a former defensive lineman for the Toronto Argonauts, Canadian ambassador to Ireland and Notre Dame athletic director.

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Pool Update: Day Twenty Two

Playoff PoolWhen Joe Sakic scored in overtime last night to extend the Av's season, he also bumped Alexi back into the lead in our 2004 playoff pool. Joe C. has been quietly creeping up the standings and his three points last night have him only ten behind the leader. Joe C., you may recall, finished second last year.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 1

Go Leafs Go!This was the tenth playoff game thus far for the Maple Leafs and their best. We came out hitting and generated offense. In the end, it was an easy victory and we're right back in the series.

All day long I felt eerily confident about tonight's game. We were back home and we've actually been playing well despite being down two games to none. Discussing my optimism with colleagues at work I predicted a 4-1 score in our favour. Lo and behold, we won 4-1. I'm predicting a victory on Friday as well. Philadelphia has yet to impress me.

Philadelphia leads series 2-1

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The Beastie Boys

The Beastie BoysI just read that The Beastie Boys will be performing at the MTV Movie Awards next month. I'm a Beastie Boys fan from way back, so I'm looking forward to hearing something new from them. Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head rank among my favourite albums of all time.

I've actually been thinking about The Beastie Boys quite a bit lately. Not because they are releasing To the 5 Boroughs, their first new album in five years, but because of a high profile visitor we've had in Toronto this week.

The Dalai Lama was paying our fair city a visit. 30,000 were at Skydome Sunday to hear the Tibetan leader's message of peace and he spoke at the University of Toronto just the other day. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and heads what he calls a government-in-exile in the mountain town of Dharmsala in India. Most of what I know about the Dalai Lama I know thanks to The Beastie Boys.

Adam Yauch is a practicing Buddhist who met the Dalai Lama. As a result, The Beastie Boys have for several years fought for the independence of Tibet. They played the Tibetan Freedom Concert three times and have been preaching about the Dalai Lama and Tibet ever since.

More than three MC's and one DJ are these boys.

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What's Up With the Weather?

What's Up With the Weather?I was out and about this morning at around 07:00 and it was damn cold. I could see my breath. The weather report claimed it was -3 degrees Celsius. -3 and we're almost in May. That stinks.

Right after I learned it was cold enough to snow I heard we're expecting it to be 24 degrees Celsius tomorrow. Toronto weather can be crazy at this time of the year. Over a period of one day we're going to go from -3 to 24. That's a range of 27 degrees. Unbelievable.

I think sub zero temperatures at this time of the year bother me more than the average Joe because I stubbornly put my jacket away after a warm day four weeks ago and I refuse to take it out of the closet again until October. Once I decided it was time to abandon the jacket nothing could get me to reverse my decision. It could be a blizzardly -30 day next week and I'll be the guy shovelling his walk in only a sweater. What's wrong with me? Wait, don't answer that question.

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Pool Update: Day Twenty One

Playoff PoolMy entire life I have been taught to hate the Montreal Canadiens. As a devout Maple Leaf fan, I had little choice in the matter. In my life time alone they have won six Stanley Cups and have been spoiled with 24 overall. I hate them.

Having said that, I actually felt bad for them last night. That was truly a heart breaking loss for the Habs and they're now done like dinner. Only Pops, Joe and Anthony drafted a Montreal player in our 2004 playoff pool, so their elimination doesn't have much of an impact in the standings. Should Colorado be ousted in four Steve and Stefan will certainly be devestated and Alexi's slim lead will be threatened.

For the current standings go here.

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My MP3s Updated

My Entire MP3 CollectionYou'll find a whole bunch of new CDs have been added to my MP3 collection. The new additions run the gamut from the latest Default to Lenny Kravitz' Greatest Hits to Willie Nelson's 16 Biggest Hits to Blues Classics from 1927 - 1969 and a shitload more. Blues fans will be particularly interested in what I've added.

That's 493 complete albums and 7582 songs. Check it out.

I'm seriously considering sharing an MP3 every week with a few words about why I like the song. Is this something you'd be interested in? Drop me a line if you'd dig it. If enough people respond positively, I'll do it.

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceHubert Selby Jr. was 75. He was the acclaimed and anguished author of "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "Requiem for a Dream".

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Human Kleenex

Human KleenexHow would you feel about a person who thinks it is okay to grab your shirt and use it clean their eyeglasses? This website asks that very question and then shows video evidence of Dubya doing just that during a commercial break on the Late Show with David Letterman. To quote the site, "Regardless of your political party and beliefs, we all know that this administration has raised some serious questions, and has often asked for us to blindly believe in the their drastic actions, all of which are clearly far more serious than this boner on the Letterman show. However, there is not a spin, explanation, or flat out lie that can defend Bush's character in this revealing moment, when he was dumb enough to think that people or cameras were not looking. Even worse scenario is he did know, but just didn't care."

You can read more and watch the video evidence here. I'm telling you, this dude is bad news.

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Pool Update: Day Twenty

Playoff PoolOnly one goal was scored in the NHL last night and only one person in our 2004 playoff pool registered a point. Joe's Patrick Marleau is turning out to the be the pick of the draft as he secured his tenth point of the playoffs thus far. With San Jose's overwhelming lead over Colorado, it looks like Marleau is going to have an opportunity to score many more.

For the current standings go here.

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SLS Submission

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

I submitted "Vaccination Scar" by The Tragically Hip. When I hear the intro to Vaccination Scar, I'm jacking up the volume. It's vintage Hip and it's great.

Although I didn't submit it, there is another tune I think we should consider. I'm referring to "Duality" by Slipknot. I've been listening to the MP3 of this song quite a bit lately and I'm digging it.

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The Monday Shuffle

Monday ShuffleMy MP3 player of choice on the computer is Winamp. Winamp 5 beats the bejeezus out of Windows Media Player when it comes to playing MP3s. It's far lighter than Windows Media Player and far more intuitive. It's my default player for audio files.

One of my Winamp playlists is entitled "Everything" and it contains the 7582 MP3s currently in my collection. I often play all 7582 with "shuffle" turned on and I never know what I'm going to hear. It's fantastic.

Every Monday I'm going to shuffle the deck and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten I heard tonight.

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers - They're Red Hot
  2. Neil Young - Unknown Legend
  3. The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man
  4. Porno for Pyros - Pets
  5. Janis Joplin - Get It While You Can
  6. Public Enemy - She Watches Channel Zero
  7. Nirvana - Big Long Now
  8. White Zombie - I Am Legend
  9. Neal Pattman - Shortnin' Bread
  10. Soundgarden - Drawing Flies

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The First Cut is the Deepest

The First Cut is the DeepestYesterday, over 27 months after his birth, a lock of James' hair met scissors for the first time. Seeing that strands of hair were dangling over his eyes while he played, I realized he needed his bangs trimmed just a little. Out came the scissors and off came a centimetre or two above the eyes.

James has very cool hair. It's a little curly but not too curly and so far it's a neat dirty blonde. He's part surfer dude, part Kurt Cobain. It hurt me cut even a single strand, but as they say, the first cut is the deepest.

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Pool Update: Day Nineteen

Playoff PoolFor the first time in quite a while, Ryan is not alone at the top of our 2004 playoff pool. He's now tied with Alexi who got another two points from his productive Tampa Bay tandem. My Vincent Lacavalier slept through the first round but now has five points in his last two games.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 1, Flyers 2

Go Leafs Go!We could have won on Thursday, but we should have won tonight. That's what made this loss particularly painful.

The Maple Leafs had plenty of chances but failed to capitalize. Where this game was lost was special teams. Philadelphia scored both their goals on the power play while we failed to execute with the man advantage. The series now moves to Toronto where the Leafs have to win on Wednesday night. Have faith my brothers and sisters.

Philadelphia leads series 2-0

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceEstee Lauder was 97. She took a family recipe for skin cream and a passion for female beauty and turned them into a $10 billion cosmetics empire.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI borrowed a digital camera for the weekend. It's an Olympus Camedia C-50 Zoom and it's pretty slick. On Friday I took a bunch of shots of James running around in the backyard and I'm sharing five of them in Pictures.

Boy do I want a digital camera.

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Above Par?

Above Par?The headline for this article reads "Dog Feels Below Par After Eating 28 Golf Balls". A German Shepherd had managed to eat 28 golf balls and wasn't feeling too well as a result. The headline writer decided to use the "below par" expression because it fit ever so nicely with the golf theme.

I've been hearing people use the expression "under par" and "below par" forever as a way to express negativity. For example, if someone was feeling a little sick they might tell you they're feeling under par. When someone does badly, we remark it was a sub-par performance.

From what I gather having watched a fair bit of golf on the television, the goal is to shoot as below par as possible. Being under par is a good thing. The lower your score, the better. Therefore, when someone fails or isn't well, shouldn't they be above par? The dog who ate 28 golf balls isn't feeling below par but above par because being above par is bad. Am I wrong here? If I fail at something, I certainly didn't deliver a sub-par performance. I'd celebrate a sub-par performance. I want to be sub-par!

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The Vault

The VaultIt's been a while since I've delved into the vault, but telling the tale of the lost and found wedding ring forced me into the vault to retrieve the receipt from that purchase back on January 4th, 1996.

Here's the receipt.

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Found Ring

Found RingAbout four weeks ago, we lost Taryn's wedding ring. She had taken it off for one reason or another and it disappeared. Had James picked it up and deposited it in parts unknown? Had Booner played a role in the shenanigans? We searched and searched for two days straight but couldn't come up with her ring.

This seriously bummed me out. I remember very clearly that afternoon of January 4th, 1996 when I shelled out a total of $189.75 at a little jewelry shop in the basement of the Eaton Centre for two wedding rings. $189.75 seemed like an awful lot of money back then for a couple of university students slugging away at part-time jobs. I was working as a grocery clerk at the Food City in the Galleria Mall. It took a while to make $189.75.

Yesterday, well after we had given up the search, I was doing some work in the furnace room in our basement when I caught something in the corner of my eye. Just under the door was Taryn's ring. How it got there, I'll never know, I'm just happy I found it.

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference."
      - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

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Pool Update: Day Eighteen

Playoff PoolI'm a lot like a trained seal. It's Saturday night and we're right in the thick of the NHL playoffs, so naturally I'm on autopilot heading to the living room to watch Hockey Night in Canada. Unfortunately, there are no games scheduled tonight.

There were a couple of games earlier this afternoon, so I've gone ahead and updated our 2004 playoff pool page. Steve had the biggest day but if his Avalanche goes out to San Jose, he's in some serious, serious trouble.

For the current standings go here.

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Out of Gas

Out of GasYesterday I passed not one, but two gentlemen walking along the side of the road with a portable gasoline container. Clear, they had each run out of gas and had to walk to a gas station to buy enough fuel to get their respective cars going again. They weren't going to the same car as they were a couple of blocks away from each other walking in opposite directions.

I've been driving for about thirteen years now, and I've owned four different cars throughout this period, but not once have I actually run out of gas. You see, each car had this handy gage that actually tells you how much gas you have left in the tank. You can pretty well tell how far you can go once the the gage hits empty. I'd understand this happening perhaps in the middle of nowhere on a long highway stretch where there are no open gas stations, but the two guys I passed yesterday who had both run out of gas did so in a part of the GTA where there's literally a gas station every 3 blocks.

Was the fuel gage broken on both cars? Were these guys having a contest as to who could go furthest left of the "E" a'la Kramer? Were these just a couple of dull knives that needed to go back in the drawer?

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Pool Update: Day Seventeen

Playoff PoolThanks to Tampa Bay's 4-0 shut out of the Habs, I actually scored some points in our 2004 playoff pool. In fact, Marc and I led the way with four points a piece. Look out now, I'm only 15 point from Ryan!

For the current standings go here.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"You know, my kids think you're the greatest. And thanks to your gloomy music, they've finally stopped dreaming of a future I can't possibly provide."

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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 Top 100 Moments entry

What's #4 all about? It's not ringing any bells at all.

     Mike Hollick

I had no idea either. Number four reads, "Collapse of the Mercer Arts Centre and CBGBs convinced to have a rock night." I had to do a little research to figure it out.

The Mercer Arts Center was located at 240 Mercer Street New York City. It was the home-base for bands like the New York Dolls, and when it literally collapsed in 1973, CBGBs (Country Bluegrass Blues) filled the void nicely. "The bands that converged on CBGB rejected the blandly professional pop, overblown guitar jams and elaborate progressive rock they were hearing on the radio. But instead of attempting some kind of revival, they reconfigured old rock virtues into music that had not been heard before."

So, the demise of the Mercer Arts Center created a setting at CBGBs that would give birth to The Ramones and we have our fourth top moment in new rock history.

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy favourite news sites

  1. Google News Canada
  2. BBC News | World | Americas
  3. The Toronto Star
  4. CBC News Interactive
  5. Canoe

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Hero

HeroWe as a society have seriously devalued the meaning of the word "hero". We toss it around so lightly it's lost all substance. The player who caught the Superbowl winning touchdown pass isn't a true hero. Pat Tillman is a true hero.

Pat Tillman abandoned his $3.6 million a year job as a starting safety for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL so he could join his brother as an Army Ranger for the 75th Ranger Regiment. Following 9/11, Tillman felt he needed to "pay something back" for the comfortable life he had been afforded. As an Army Ranger he would collect $18,000 a year and not a penny of the $3.6 million he would have been paid for playing 16 games in the NFL. He would also have to risk his life.

Tillman's 75th Ranger Regiment was deployed to Afghanistan where he wound up in the middle of the most serious action. Yesterday, following a firefight with anti-coalition militia forces about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. military base at Khost, Pat Tillman was killed.

I'm not a man easily touched by stories. This particular story, however, struck a chord with me. Pat Tillman wanted to do something following 9/11 and he walked away from $3.6 million and the fame of an NFL player to help where he was needed most. In my humble opinion, that's the courageous action of a true hero. Pat Tillman was 27.

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Top 100 Moments

Top 100 MomentsThe Ongoing History of New Music on CFNY Edge 102 have listed their Top 100 Moments. Here are their top 10.

  1. Death of Kurt Cobain.
  2. Edison invents recorded sound.
  3. Invention of the electric guitar.
  4. Collapse of the Mercer Arts Centre and CBGBs convinced to have a rock night.
  5. Ramones at the Roundhouse 1976.
  6. Sex Pistols swear at Bill Grundy.
  7. The release of the first Sex Pistols single, "Anarchy in the UK".
  8. Nirvana releases Nevermind.
  9. First online downloads.
  10. Invention of the MP3.

Interesting... This is so incredibly subjective, we could argue about it forever. The death of Kurt Cobain and the release of "Nevermind" are certainly important moments in the history of new music. The first online downloads sort of goes hand in hand with the invention of the MP3, both significant developments in terms of how we get and listen to our music. I am absolutely consumed by my thousands of MP3s I play with Winamp throughout the day. The MP3 has completely revolutionized the way I store and play my tunage. The invention of recorded sound and the electric guitar were essential, but I'm not certain about the others listed in the top 10. But again, we could argue about this forever.

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Pool Update: Day Sixteen

Playoff PoolAlexi picked up three points last night to move to within a point of Ryan in our 2004 playoff pool. Joe equaled Alexi's output thanks to Patrick Marleau's hat trick.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 1, Flyers 3

Go Leafs Go!Less than 48 hours removed from a hard fought seven game series against the Senators, the Maple Leafs opened their second round against the well-rested Flyers in Philadelphia. We shouldn't have won this game. We didn't.

Clearly, this is going to be a tougher challenge than the one we just completed. Philadelphia is a strong, talented team that doesn't have Patrick Lalime between the pipes. Still, I felt we played well enough to steal this one. I suspect we'll win on Sunday to tie this series at one.

Philadelphia leads series 1-0

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Remembering SARS

RewindAs I've mentioned before on this blog, I frequently use Google News Canada as a portal to various articles on the latest news stories. Today, one headline jumped out at me and forced me to recall a less joyous time in Toronto. The article, Suspected SARS case in Beijing, brought me back to last April when the entire world saw Toronto as a SARS-infected pariah state.

Here is some of what I wrote in my entry of April 24, 2003 which I called SARS Update: From the eye of the storm.

The World Health Organization has just issued a warning against travelling to Toronto. Don't travel to Toronto unless it's essential, they say. Major League Baseball is issuing warnings to teams visiting Toronto. They're asking that contact with fans at SkyDome be kept to a minimum. Headlines all over the world are painting Toronto as a dangerous place to be right now. A global pariah!

I live in Toronto. I spend every day in Toronto. I've never put on a mask and my day-to-day living hasn't changed a bit. The only thing that's even slightly different, as far as I can tell, is that we're all sanitizing our hands throughout the day at work.

Last time I checked the stats, 16 people in Canada had died of SARS. All 16 people had a pre-existing diabetic condition or heart disease. If SARS kills, it gets plenty of help.

Life goes on in the big T.O. The Leafs are out of the playoffs, the Jays have slipped to last in the AL East and the Raptors haven't been seen in weeks. Sounds like a typical spring to me.

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Hip Tracks

Hip TracksThe new Tragically Hip CD, In Between Evolution, is due to hit stores in June, but the track listings can already be found here. To quote the page, "Propelled by raw, driving guitars and Gordon Downie's inimitable vocals, In Between Evolution features standouts such as "Vaccination Scar," "The Heart of the Melt," and the first single, "Summer's Killing Us.""

"Summer's Killing Us" might be the first single in the United States, but here in Canada "Vaccination Scar" is already spinning at radio stations. Here are the 13 tracks that make up In Between Evolution.

  1. Heaven Is A Better Place Today 02:56
  2. Summer's Killing Us 03:30
  3. Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park 04:09
  4. Vaccination Scar 02:56
  5. It Can't Be Nashville Every Night 02:54
  6. If New Orleans Is Beat 03:16
  7. You're Everywhere 03:35
  8. As Makeshift As We Are 03:15
  9. Mean Streak 04:10
  10. The Heart of the Melt 02:36
  11. One Night in Copenhagen 02:21
  12. Are We Family 04:34
  13. Goodnight Josephine 03:26

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Roll Call

Roll CallWhen it comes to sleeping, James is a champ. Like clockwork, every evening at 20:25 he brushes his teeth and heads to bed. Before Mommy and Daddy kiss him goodnight, there's only one more thing that needs to be done before James drifts away for the night. That's roll call.

These days, there must be three items lined up on his pillow before he'll catch some zzzzz's. He must have his little Winnie the Pooh bear, his stuffed chicken and Dizzy, the cement mixer from Bob the Builder fame. If Pooh, chicken and Dizzy are all present, James is out like a light in no time flat and we don't hear from him again until the morning.

Like I said, when it comes to sleeping, this kid is a champ. So long as Pooh, chicken and Dizzy are there.

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Ottawa Newspapers

Ottawa NewspapersFollowing their fourth loss to the Maple Leafs in five years, fans of the Ottawa Senators must be as bummed as I am giddy. Earlier today I had a great time reading reaction from the Ottawa press.

There are two daily newspapers in Ottawa: The Ottawa Citizen and The Ottawa Sun. Unfortunately, the idiots at The Ottawa Citizen have made most of their articles accessible only to subscribers so I can't to link to everything printed in today's paper. Here are the two articles you can read.

The Ottawa Sun is sharing all Senator articles online and they're listed below.

They all say the same three things. The Senators are under-achievers, the Senators can't beat the Leafs when it matters most and Lalime saved his worst for last and has to go.

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BB16

BB16It was 53 years ago today #5 Bill Barilko scored the goal. It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs. The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship. If you've never seen my tribute to Bill Barilko, today is the day to do it.

Throughout the first round of this year's playoffs, Leaf players have been wearing a blue cap with BB16 embroidered on the front. The "BB" is to invoke the spirit of Bill Barilko while 16 represents the number of games a team must win in order to capture Lord Stanley's Mug. A fellow Leaf fan's site adorns a graphic nicely counting down our wins to the magic number 16.

Only 12 to go...

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Pool Update: Day Fourteen

Playoff PoolEight teams remain now that Ottawa has been kicked to the curb. This means a number of players drafted in our 2004 playoff pool will never play another game this season, making it awfully difficult to score points. Anthony was hit hardest, losing seven of his ten players while last year's champion Pops has lost six. Neil managed to fare the best in this regard losing only two.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 4, Senators 1

Go Leafs Go!I would like to bottle this euphoric feeling I have right now in order to preserve it for moments in the future I'm feeling less joyous. What a fantastic night. For the fourth time in five years, the Ottawa Senators are going home early from the Stanley Cup playoffs thanks to my beloved Maple Leafs. Ottawa is 0-4 in series against Toronto and 0-4 in Game 7s overall.

Lest we forget Daniel Alfredsson's promise to win this series tonight at the ACC. Alfredsson, like the rest of his teammates, were all but invisible tonight. They have proven time and time again that they aren't built for the playoffs and can't win when it matters most. At the trade deadline, there was much speculation the Senators would upgrade between the pipes as Patrick Lalime was showing himself to be rather inconsistent. Staying with Lalime would prove to be their downfall. Tonight, in the most important game of the season, Lalime was horrible while Maple Leaf goaltender Eddie Belfour shone bright. Belfour was brilliant throughout the series and is the biggest reason I'm sitting here right now with a huge smile on my face.

Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!

Toronto wins series 4-3

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Worst Song Ever

Worst Song EverBlender magazine has published its list of the 50 worst songs ever. I haven't seen the whole list yet, but below are their top (bottom?) 10.

  1. We Built This City, Starship, 1985
  2. Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus, 1992
  3. Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Wang Chung, 1986
  4. Rollin', Limpbizkit, 2000
  5. Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice, 1990
  6. The Heart of Rock & Roll, Huey Lewis & The News, 1984
  7. Don't Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin, 1988
  8. Party All the Time, Eddie Murphy, 1985
  9. American Life, Madonna, 2003
  10. Ebony and Ivory, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, 1982

I hate to admit it, but I actually like #'s 3 and 4. It's nice to see Madonna on the list though. Everything since True Blue has been pretty crappy.

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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.

Hi Mike

It has been in the news lately how dire the situation is regarding available organs for tranplants. Could you please put something on your website encouraging people to sign their donor cards and to tell their loved ones that would like to donate any and all useable organs. It's not like you will be needing them, where you are going?

     Sue Martin

You just did!

If you are 16 years of age or over, you can register your consent to donate your organs and/or tissues upon your death by completing an Organ and Tissue Donor Registration form and submitting it to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care who keeps a registry of donors. The facts speak for themselves.

  • Nearly 3,700 Canadians are waiting for organ transplants that could enhance, even save their lives.
  • In 2000, 147 patients on transplant waiting lists died when no organ became available.
  • As of April 2001 there were 3,269 Canadians waiting for a corneal transplant.

Once you decide to become an organ or tissue donor, it's important you share this decision with members of your family. A colleague recently brought in a photo album he produced during the time his sister received one of his kidneys and seeing these pictures truly brought home the benefits of donating an organ or tissue. Count me in!

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Game Seven

Go Leafs Go!Since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1939, the Maple Leafs have played in 20 Game Sevens. The Leafs have a record of 11-9, 5-8 on the road and 6-1 at home. That's right, we're 6-1 at home in Game Sevens. Tonight, at the ACC, the Leafs and Senators play a Game Seven.

Is there anything in sports as stressful as a Game Seven? Every mistake, every play, every moment is that much more maginified. One team will advance, one team will be finished for the season.

I'll never forget the Game Seven between the Leafs and Red Wings back in 1993. This game went to overtime. A Game Seven that goes to overtime is the ultimate heart stopper. The name Nikolai Borschevsky will forever arouse positive feelings in Leaf fans thanks to his overtime winner eleven years ago.

The spirit of Nikolai Borschevsky will be with us tonight. Go Leafs Go!

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Pool Update: Day Thirteen

Playoff PoolVancouver and Boston have both left the party early, meaning Montreal and Calgary advance. Marc Felice drafted the only Calgary Flame in our 2004 playoff pool when he took Jerome Iginla in the third round and it's certainly paid off. Iginla has 8 points and counting.

For the current standings go here.

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The Honours BA

The Honours BAI just read an article in today's Globe and Mail that suggests a postsecondary education has less benefit today than it did in the 90s. "Last year, for the first time since 1997, blue-collar employment grew faster than the number of white-collar jobs."

After high school, I started attending school a little East on Bloor Street and enrolled at the University of Toronto where I eventually graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts. Looking back, I don't really see it as a choice I made but a natural extension of my schooling that was expected from me. At 18 I certainly had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew University was as good a place as any to burn four years while I figured it all out. Besides, what else was I going to do? I could work part-time at the grocery store to pay my tuition and buy my CDs but I certainly wasn't about to get a real job. Everyone was pounding into our heads the fact that you would never find a decent job without a degree. This was the mantra I was hearing since kindergarten. People with only high school never amount to anything. At least, that's what every guidance counsellor, every teacher and my very own parental units would tell me.

As it turns out, many do just fine without high school and many with a University degree don't. I certainly don't regret getting the degree. As I type this I see the lovely diploma on the wall and I know it has opened doors for me that would have otherwise been shut, but it's clearly not the necessity we were led to believe it was.

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TV-Turnoff Week

TV-Turnoff WeekIt's TV-Turnoff Week. This is the 10th anniversary of Turn Off TV Week, begun in 1994 as a statement against "the dead end couch culture." We're encouraged to turn off our TV for the entire week to "reclaim time to talk, play, read, exercise, create, dream -- and live".

Last night I taped three programs while I watched the Leafs game. I taped "The Simpsons", "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood". I fully intend to unwind over the next few nights by watching these shows as I really don't watch much else during the week. Then tomorrow night, there's literally nothing that could keep me away from the boob tube for game seven of the Maple Leafs - Senators series. Then, if all goes well, there will be round two games later in the week.

Other than that, I'm a full participant in TV-Turnoff Week.

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What's Wrong with the Blue Jays

What's Wrong With the Blue JaysWhile the Maple Leafs dominate the sporting news in Toronto, the Toronto Blue Jays have quietly opened the season 3-9, their worst start in history, and 0-6 at home. They're just horrible so far, neither hitting nor pitching well at all.

I'm blaming the uniforms. The new logo isn't so bad, it's just those all black uniforms with the silver and blue logo doesn't have enough blue in it. Forever we've had uniforms that were dominated by blue and white with some good ol' Canadian red thrown in for good measure. Now we're trying to look like the awful Tampa Bay Devil Rays with our black on black motif. It's obviously not working.

Call me a sucker for nostalgia, but I'd like to see a return to the retro logo of old I grew up adoring. Bring back that sharp looking Blue Jay with the red Maple Leaf hovering around his ear. Bring back the uniform that had Joe Carter leaping for joy in '93. Do something...anything...please!

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Pool Update: Day Twelve

Playoff PoolOne game, three goals, little movement in our 2004 playoff pool. Shockingly, Gary Roberts' assist on the Leafs goal gave me my first point of the weekend. Yay.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 1, Ottawa Senators 2

Go Leafs Go!Damn. I wanted to win in six. Now we have to win in seven. At least it will be in front of the home crowd. Seriously though, I'm sure this is how it was scripted. Mats Sundin triumphantly returns to lead the blue and white into the next round of the playoffs.

Series tied 3-3

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Another Overtime

OvertimeThere was a frenetic pace to that first overtime period. Both sides had an opportunity to end it, both sides failed to do so. Period #5 awaits.

Call me crazy, but Tie Domi looks as likely to end this thing as anyone. I'm hoping I'm right.

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Overtime

OvertimeSudden. Death. Overtime.

Who will be the hero? Gary Roberts? Joe Nieuwendyk? Alexander Mogilny?

Anyone but Daniel Alfredsson, please Lord. Anyone but him...

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesRamones Name Generator - Haven't you always wanted your own Ramones name so you could pretend you're a member of The Ramones? This amazing Ramones Name Generator will tell you what your Ramones name would be. Go ahead and get your Ramones name.

My Ramones name is Mike Ramone.

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Dear God

Dear GodIt's clinching night. If my beloved Maple Leafs defeat the Sens tonight at the Corel Centre, we're on to the second round. We're about 90 minutes from game time and I feel like I'm playing tonight. I'm anxious, hopeful and more than a little nervous. I really want to wrap this thing up in six to give our guys a little breather before round #2.

History is on our side. Here are the results from the previous 4 elimination games between the two clubs:

2000: East CQF, Game #6, Toronto 4, Ottawa 2, Leafs win series in 6 games
2001: East CQF, Game #4, Toronto 3, Ottawa 1, Leafs win series in 4 games
2002: East CSF, Game #6, Toronto 4, Ottawa 3, Leafs force Game #7
2002: East CSF, Game #7, Toronto 3, Ottawa 0, Leafs win series in 7 games

While we're talking Leafs here, I received an email from a gentleman named Drew who lives in British Columbia. His team is not the Canucks but the Maple Leafs. In his email to me, he shared his letter to God he wrote following our game four loss. I've pasted it below.

Dear God

Hope you are well. I have a selfish request to ask of you. I was wondering if I could better learn from you how to conduct ones daily struggles if perhaps you could stop teaching me life's lessons by gouging the eyes out of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey players. It would also be nice in my humble opinion, if you could stop breaking the legs on the Leafs players. I must admit, I personally think it is revolting and I can't possibly see how such acts must occur. If there is something you are trying to tell us; please save us from ourselves tell us (especially me) in an easier way so we'll all understand what you expect from us.

One of your finest creations the immortal leafs is now locked in mortal combat with a boorish team with gaudy jerseys. As you well know it's been a VERY long time since you have blessed our team with the cup. I'm sure God you found it very gratifying to keep the Leafs and the Habs away from each other again in this playoff series. I was so hoping to see the Montreal - Toronto match but you said no. So be it. Would it be selfish to allow our team to defeat the Senators in this years playoffs? After all we have trounced them usually very well in the regular season; it's expected. Please God make 1/3 of the country happy. I thank you for your attention.

Drew's letter to God reminded me of a letter I wrote to the Big Guy Upstairs in March 2003. You can read my letter here.

Go Leafs Go!

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New Videos

New VideosI know I'm a week late, but three neat little clips of James' Easter egg hunt last Sunday are now being shared in Videos.

I considered releasing my Easter trilogy over three years each a year apart as such a tactic has proven to be rather successful for Peter Jackson and others. I considered it, then quickly realized it was a horrible idea and decided to release them simultaneously. Enjoy!

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Pool Update: Day Eleven

Playoff PoolJust when it looked as if Ryan was going to run away with our 2004 playoff pool, Vancouver won in overtime giving Alexi five points moving him within a point of first. Should Vancouver win this series in seven, Alexi has a chance to win it all.

I'm no longer commenting on my effort. I had seven players playing yesterday who combined for a grand total of zero points. Just wait until next year... For the current standings go here.

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive."
      - Stephen Leacock

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The Most Popular Discussion

The Most Popular DiscussionThe Smells Like Sour website was launched back on September 16, 2003. Since then, I've been maintaining it and my friend Mark Carey has been hosting it. It has become a popular destination for people looking for discussions about the latest rock song on the radio. Of course, some discussions are more popular than others.

Today I decided to check the stats to see which song has generated the most interest based on the number of posts. Much to my dismay, the song with the most posts at 191 and counting is Good Charlotte's "Girls and Boys". My friend Marc Felice submitted this awful, awful song on September 18, 2003 and the rest is history.

I should point out that exactly 13 minutes after Marc submitted "Girls and Boys" (probably because he knows how much I dislike the song) I posted the first comment trashing the band and submission. What gets me is the discussion about this song has 191 posts while the page for The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" is stalled at six replies. When it comes to popularity, mediocrity will win every time.

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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 would have thought Tigertown would take out 69*. I remember your love for that boy, who believed he needed to be there in the ballpark for his team to win. I fondly remember his trek to try to make the big game when everything was seemingly disallowing his presence there.

But the other four are my top four as well. I love baseball movies!! I may love baseball movies more than I love baseball. (George Bell would spin in his grave if he heard me say that...) Wait.. he's not dead. I just imagined that with all the smokes he was having while telling the media to "screw themselves" he would be.

I LOVE GEORGE BELL!!!!

     Ryan

As a kid, I loved "Tiger Town". That kid was living my dream. He had seasons tickets to Tiger Stadium and attended every game to send Billy Young those positive vibes. I was so envious. I wanted seasons tickets to Exhibition Statium so I could send those vibes to George Bell.

In the end, Tiger Town lost the #5 position to 61* because Tiger Town is only good if you're under the age of 13. If we were to watch it today we'd laugh out loud at the cheesy Disney made-for-tv, Natural rip-off quality of it all. 10 year old Mike felt Tiger Town was worthy of an Academy Award and little Justin Henry's performance as the kid who had faith worthy of a Best Actor nomination. 10 year old Mike was a dumb ass.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"Now, son, you don't want to drink beer. That's for daddies and kids with fake IDs."

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Pool Update: Day Ten

Playoff PoolWith only two games on the schedule, there wasn't a whole lot of movement in our 2004 playoff pool last night. Alexi and Marc had the biggest gains with three points a piece. The New York Islanders were eliminated, but only Pops suffers as a result. Will Pops go from first to worst? Stay tuned.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 2, Senators 0

Go Leafs Go!All three Maple Leaf victories in this series have been 2-0 Eddie Belfour shut outs despite the fact the Senators have actually out shot us 155-100 in the series.

Daniel Alfredsson has guaranteed his team will force and win a game seven in this series. Stop writing cheques your butt can't cash Alfie! I'm sticking with my prediction of Leafs in six.

Toronto leads series 3-2

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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.

Er, you do know that the rovers aren't actually coming back, right? Once they run out of juice or otherwise break down they'll just sit on Mars like the rest of the landers (intact and otherwise) that we've sent before.

     Mike Hollick

Of course I know that, but how else was I going to work in such a cool Cancon joke?

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Mars Rover Soundtrack

Mars Rover SoundtrackThe Mars Rover engineering team plays a tune or two each morning for Spirit and Opportunity. The songs played are usually related to the day's events. The Beatles "Good Morning, Good Morning" for the first morning, Ratt's "Round and Round" when the rover is turning, etc.

I was perusing this site which lists every song played for the Mars Rover. Some of the tunes are good, some are really bad. Below are my favourite five songs from the Mars Rover Soundtrack.

  • Otis Redding - Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay
  • Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World
  • The Beatles - Here Comes the Sun
  • The Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
  • Nirvana - On A Plain

Below are my least favourite songs from the Mars Rover Soundtrack.

  • Baja Men - Who Let the Dogs Out?
  • Sade - Smooth Operator
  • Sting - If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
  • Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out
  • Whitesnake - Here I Go Again

I recommend "When Did You Get Back From Mars?" from I Mother Earth upon their return to earth.

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Ripping to MP3 the Collection of Another

Ripping CDsOne of the best things I ever did for myself was rip my entire CD collection into MP3s. You can read about this here and check out my collection here.

Back in January, I wrote about RipDigital, a company that will rip your entire CD collection into MP3s for a hefty price. I offered my MP3 consultation service free of charge to anyone who was interested. A friend of mine with an extensive CD collection took me up on the offer.

Right now there are two large garbage bags full of CDs belonging to this friend of mine sitting in my basement. I'm going to rip his entire collection and return to him his CDs along with blank CDs containing his new MP3 collection. It's going to take a while, but I'm already enjoying it. The vast majority of this tunage is the blues, and I'm having a fantastic time listening to songs like "Turtle Twist" by Jelly Roll Morton, "Dust My Broom" by Elmore James and "Stones in my Passway" by Robert Johnson. This is a very cool way to hear cool tunes I wouldn't normally stumble upon. Maybe I should be paying him for this opportunity?

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy favourite baseball movies

  1. Field of Dreams
  2. Bull Durham
  3. The Natural
  4. Little Big League
  5. 61*

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Kill Bill: Volume 2

Kill Bill: Volume 2I rarely anticipate the theatrical release of a particular movie any more. Today, however, there is a movie being released that I simply can't wait to see. In fact, I've been heavily anticipating this flick for several months. I'm talking about "Kill Bill: Volume 2".

Back on November 2, 2003, I wrote about how much I enjoyed Kill Bill: Volume 1. In fact, I haven't enjoyed a movie as much in years. This comes as no surprise considering Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs rank amongst my favourite films of all-time.

I've got my theatre gift certificates saved from Christmas so all we need to do is line up some babysitting and we're there. It's currently holding an excellent 88% freshness rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Times says "Quentin Tarantino's deliciously perverse semisequel is the most voluptuous comic-book movie ever made.", Newsday simply states it's "A powerhouse movie." and Rolling Stone says "You'll thrill to the action, savor the tasty dialogue and laugh like bloody hell."

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Pool Update: Day Nine

Playoff PoolSt. Louis is the first team eliminated from this year's playoffs. Current leader Ryan loses two players in our 2004 playoff pool as a result, but the two players he lost had only combined for two of his 33 points anyways. I'm thinking he won't even notice they're gone.

For the current standings go here.

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SLS Submission

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

I submitted "Vaccination Scar" by The Tragically Hip. This is a great song. It's fantastic. It's vintage Hip. If you haven't heard it yet, there's a 10 second teaser on the Hip's home page. Otherwise, keep your ears open for this tune on your local Hip radio station.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesBubblegum Machine - It's no secret I love listening to music. Although I prefer rock, I enjoy a variety of genres from gangsta rap to Johnny Cash. Sometimes, although I'm ashamed to admit it, I'll even enjoy bubblegum music. This link is an awesome collection of MP3s you can download and enjoy. "If it's ever been on K-Tel or Ronco, it's in. If it features hand claps, cow bells, syrupy orchestration, walls of sound, wrecking crews, sha-la-las, toothy teen idols or candy-based metaphors for carnal acts, it's in."

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Poor Courtney

Poor CourtneyCourtney Love is a lot of things, but being poor isn't one of them. Or is it?

According to a Reuters article, she is in debt to the tune of at least $4 million. "I'm covered with loser dust" she told Blender magazine. "I found out that our dog walker was making $100,000. One person put a BMW on my credit card."

Every time I write about Courtney (here, here, here and here) I promise myself it's the last time. Rules were meant to be broken I suppose, because here I go again. How is it possible the woman who inherited Kurt Cobain's money and owns a third of his music can end up broke? Sure, her recent album "America's Sweetheart" spent just four weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart, but she's one of three shareholders in Nirvana Incorporated.

L.O.S.E.R.

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The Invasion of Norway

The Invasion of NorwayYesterday I took a swipe at Dubya, so in an effort to be "fair and balanced", today is Prime Minister Paul Martin's turn.

When addressing 350 soldiers at the CFB Gagetown training base outside Fredericton, New Brunswick, Martin made the following statement.

Sixty years ago, Canadians were working alongside their British and American allies planning for the invasion of Norway and the liberation of Europe...Today, it is every bit as important that Canada step forward -- just as we did during the invasion of Norway.

Ouch. I'm fairly certain our fearless leader meant Normandy, where on June 6, 1944, Canadian soldiers stormed Juno Beach with the allies to defend Europe. Had Dubya made this statement, I'd have jumped all over him like white on rice. Martin really should have known better.

Serves those Norwegian bastards right!!!

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Pool Update: Day Eight

Playoff PoolRyan has 18 points from three Philadelphia players and the lead in our 2004 playoff pool. I've fallen to 8th place and am now 14 points out of first. That stinks.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 1, Senators 4

Go Leafs Go!It's a simple law of physics. What goes up, must come down. Tonight, Eddie Belfour and his Maple Leafs crashed back to earth when the Senators gave it to us good.

Two big question marks causing concern for the future are last game's scorers Joe Nieuwendyk and Mats Sundin. Nieuwendyk was a surprise scratch from tonight's game and Sundin limped off the ice after falling awkwardly feet first into the boards.

Nobody said this would be easy.

Series tied 2-2

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Dubya's News Conference

Dubya's News ConferenceWith the Montreal Canadiens up 3-1 over the Bruins, I decided to watch Dubya's News Conference last night at 20:30 EST. I was looking forward to hearing his answers to some hard hitting questions about Iraq and 9/11.

Clearly, Dubya has an issue with taking responsibility for his actions or lack thereof. Over and over again he was asked whether he made any mistakes prior to 9/11 and whether he and his people in any way should assume some responsibility for Osama Bin Laden's attack on that fateful day. One question in particular went exactly like this.

You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11 what would your biggest mistake be, would you say? And what lessons have you learned from it?

Dubya then gave my favourite reply of the night because it's so Dubya-ish.

John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way or that way. You know, I just - I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer. But it hasn't yet.

Nothing ever did pop into his head. This man has issues.

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Barry Bonds

Barry BondsAs a kid, I was enamoured by baseball trivia. At one time in the mid-80s I had memorized every member of the 500 club. The 500 club was an elite club of home run hitters who had hit at least 500 in their major league career.

The 600 club was so exclusive, there were only three members. Hank Aaron was the king, Babe Ruth was the only other to hit 700 career dingers and Willie Mays was a comfy third with his 660. Such a nice round number for The Say Hey Kid who many considered to be the best all around ball player ever.

Last night, Barry Bonds hit his 661st career homer off right-hander Ben Ford over the right-field arcade and into McCovey Cove. Bonds now sits alone in third place on the career home runs list bumping his godfather to fourth.

Many dislike Barry Bonds. He's short with reporters and fans and not the easiest guy to root for. As for pure baseball talent, there may be none better. Pitchers fear Bonds' power so much, they rarely pitch to him. He was once intentionally walked with the bases loaded in an 8-6 game. In fact, he was walked a whopping 198 times in 2002. He's also the only man to hit 73 home runs in a single season and slug .863 in a season, as Bonds did in 2001. The man is certainly the best player of his generation and you've got to respect that.

Babe Ruth and his 714 career homers should be Bonds' next target, and the way he hits that number could be passed about one year from now.

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Pool Update: Day Seven

Playoff PoolRyan picked up another three points to put a little distance between himself and Steve in our 2004 playoff pool. Stefan became the third person to reach the big 2-0 but Alexi is right there at 19. I gained a whopping 0 points last night. In fact, my five players playing last night played for teams that were shut out. If Detroit exits in the first round again, I'm toast.

For the current standings go here.

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Hey Now!

Hey NowEvery once in a while, I catch Taryn watching Dr. Phil. I know very little about Dr. Phil, and I haven't seen more than 30 seconds of his show, but a single glance at him always makes me say the same catch phrase: "Hey Now!"

In my humble opinion, Dr. Phil looks exactly like Hank Kingsley, Larry Sanders' sidekick on The Larry Sanders Show. The Larry Sanders Show ranks among my favourite television programs of all time and Hank was always one of my favourite characters on that hilarious show. That moment I remember Hank, exclaim "Hey Now!" and smile makes Taryn watching crap like Dr. Phil A-OK with me.

As Hank once remarked when dictating "Hanks Thoughts" for a newsletter, "If I had my druthers, there would be no more world hunger."

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Farewell Kevin

Farewell KevinFarewell Kevin, we hardly knew thee. Reports indicate Toronto Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill will soon be gonzo as he and the club finalize a buyout of the final year of his contract.

If the Raptors lose one of their final two games, they will have lost 50 or more games two seasons in a row. Hell, I'm glad they're cleaning house. Grunwald is gone, O'Neill will be gone, the assistant coaches will be gone...I'd like to can that overly-enthusiastic Raptor mascot and that baldy announcing the players while we're at it. I'm tired of missing the damn playoffs.

"Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change." - Henry Steele Commager

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Pool Update: Day Six

Playoff PoolWith Ryan scoring huge points every time Philadelphia takes the ice and Steve doing the same every time Colorado plays, it's no wonder my brothers are now sitting in first and second place respectively in our 2004 playoff pool. I have returned to my rightful place in the middle of the pack.

For the current standings go here.

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Maple Leafs 2, Senators 0

Go Leafs Go!Awesome. Eddie Belfour is playing awesome. The Maple Leafs shut out the Senators for the second straight game thanks to a goal by Joe Nieuwendyk and a stunning insurance marker by Mats Sundin.

This has to be getting in the heads of the Senator players. They simply can't beat Belfour right now. He's seeing everything. He's firmly entrenched in the zone. This is playoff hockey at it's best. I can't wait for Wednesday night.

Maple Leafs lead series 2-1

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesHeadbanging - In honour of Rock & Roll turning the big 5-0, this page enables you to headbang away. Memories...

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Office Space

Office SpaceI love Office Space. It's a priceless gem of a movie I never get tired of watching. If you haven't seen it yet, and you've ever worked in the cubicle jungle, you should run out and rent it. Peter Gibbons remains one of my heroes.

In honour of today, yet another Monday, I bring you one of my favourite sound bites from Office Space:

A Case of the Mondays

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Rock and Roll Turns 50

Rock and Roll Turns 50Fifty years ago today Bill Haley and the Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" at New York City's Pythian Temple. Blackboard Jungle featured Rock Around the Clock during the opening credits and the rest is history.

If you're interested in reading a pretty good synopsis of the past fifty years of Rock and Roll, you might enjoy this article from the New Zealand Herald. Below is their synopsis of 1991.

1991: Smells Like Teen Spirit and Nevermind. Seattle and Smashing Pumpkins. Bryan Adams' Everything I Do, Janet Jackson signs a US$16 million contract with Virgin for three albums. Miles Davis will blow no more, nor will Freddie Mercury. Pearl Jam's Ten and the Black Crowes. Lollapalooza. I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt. NWA's Efil4zaggin first gangsta rap album to top US charts.

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My Masters Pool

The MastersI mentioned I entered a Masters pool at work. I selected Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III in an effort to have the threesome with the lowest combined score.

Out of twelve entries I finished fourth. Not bad I suppose. I asked my brother Steve to assist me with my selection and he lead me into the top third. I'm just thankful I didn't follow my heart and pick Mike Weir.

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Pool Update: Day Five

Playoff PoolThe biggest move in our 2004 playoff pool yesterday was made by yours truly. I'm now in second place within four points of Ryan. There are three merely a point behind me. One reason this competition is so tight is the fairly balanced scoring throughout the league. Only one player in the pool has 5 points and there are very few with 4, even though many teams have already played three times.

For the current standings go here.

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Happy Easter

Happy EasterBefore the egg became closely entwined with the Christian holiday of Easter, it was honoured during many rite-of-Spring festivals. The Romans, Gauls, Chinese, Egyptians and Persians all cherished the egg as a symbol of the universe. From ancient times eggs were dyed, exchanged and shown reverence.

In Pagan times the egg represented the rebirth of the earth. The long, hard winter was over; the earth burst forth and was reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life. The egg, therefore, was believed to have special powers. It was buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil; pregnant young Roman women carried an egg on their persons to foretell the sex of their unborn children; French brides stepped upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes.

With the advent of Christianity the symbolism of the egg changed to represent, not nature's rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose.

Happy Easter everybody.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI just purged a bunch of older pictures from Pictures and uploaded a whack of newbies. There are five new pictures of James we just got developed as well as a few from Taryn's trip to Portugal last month. You'll find them all right now in Pictures.

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Pool Update: Day Four

Playoff PoolRyan has surged ahead in our 2004 playoff pool thanks to some hefty output by his Philly threesome. He now has a four point lead over Steve and Stefan.

I had a fairly decent day gaining a couple of points from Brenden Shanahan and a couple more from Gary Roberts. I've finally hit double digits and sit comfortably in the middle of the pack planning my next big move. It might be today if my Detroit threesome ever get their act in gear. For the current standings go here.

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"NOOOOOO. Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids. Damn longears, trying to take Easter away from Jesus. Anyway, what was that you were saying?"
      - Peter Griffin, Family Guy

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Maple Leafs 2, Senators 0

Go Leafs Go!The Maple Leafs had to show up tonight with more intensity than they displayed on Thursday night and that they did. Eddie Belfour was absolutely brilliant and Gary Roberts showed why he's Mr. Playoffs by potting a pair on feeds from Mats Sundin.

I don't want to lose this series. I've grown to dislike the Senators very much and it would take weeks to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth losing a series to them would cause. Thanks to tonight's effort, I suspect I won't have to worry about it.

Series tied 1-1

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Two Hit Wonders

Two Hit WondersI was channel surfing the other day when I came upon a Muchmusic bit entitled "Two Hit Wonders". They were counting down the top two hit wonders and at number one they had Papa Roach for "Last Resort" and "Broken Home". By my count Papa Roach had a third hit with "She Loves Me Not" but that's not the purpose of this entry. I'm writing about this because they played the video for "Last Resort" and I was shocked by how censored it was.

"Last Resort" is a great song. It's almost four years old now but it sounds as fresh as ever. It's heavy, angry and catchy as hell. It's also about suicide, but you wouldn't know it by the video. They censor any references of the sort...and that's about half the song. I understand they'd have released the video without the prominent F bomb to ensure heavy rotation, but they also muted lines like "I cut my arms bleeding", "I die bleeding", "suffocation, no breathing" and "I'm contemplating suicide". Trust me, there was more muted than actually said in this overly sanitized version of a previously powerful tune.

I wonder how Blink 182's "Adam's Song" ever got played. As I understand it, Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" was an MTV smash. In a related story, I read today that Britney Spears just edited her new video by removing a scene of her dead in a bath tub for fear viewers would think she committed suicide. Is the fear that teens will hear and see this and try it themselves? I'd like to say that's rather unlikely, but a quick read of the SLS pages for Blink 182's "Adam's Song" and Good Charlotte's "Hold On" suggest they just might. Still, if "Last Resort" is going to be played on Muchmusic, I want the version I know and love. We'll worry about the body count left in Papa Roach's wake another time.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesSpider-Man 2 Trailer - I had a great time watching Spider-Man and this is the trailer for the heavily anticipated sequel. It looks very cool and will hit theatres June 30th.

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My MP3s Updated

My Entire MP3 CollectionThe page I created listing my entire MP3 collection is apparently rather popular, so this post is just to let ya all know I've updated the page with about 20 new CDs. A little Sarah McLachlin, some I Mother Earth, some older music from The Vines, the latest Nickleback and Radiohead and more!

Check it out.

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Pool Update: Day Three

Playoff PoolColorado's big guns came through last night in their 5-2 victory and many in our 2004 playoff pool reaped the benefits. Steve was the greatest beneficiary as he surged into a tie for the lead with Ryan and Alexi.

I was completely shut out and now find myself in seventh. Today could be my day with eight of my ten players taking the ice. For the current standings go here. I'll be updating that page after the afternoon games and before the blue and white take the ice at 7. Don't forget, they'll be debuting The Tragically Hip's new single "Vaccination Scar" when the Hockey Night in Canada telecast opens, so get yer butts to CBC at 6:58 just to be on the safe side. Go Leafs Go!

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."

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Rest in Peace

Rest in PeaceCarrie Snodgress was 57. She was an actress who starred in such films as "Diary of a Mad Housewife", "Pale Rider" and "Wild Things".

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy Favourite Songs With "Jesus" in the Title

  1. Soundgarden - "Jesus Christ Pose"
  2. Ministry - "Jesus Built My Hotrod"
  3. Nirvana - "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam"
  4. Everlast - "Black Jesus"
  5. Johnny Cash - "Personal Jesus"

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Pool Update: Day Two

Playoff PoolAlthough the 2004 playoff pool home page was updated by 07:48 this morning, I waited until 11:00 to post this entry. The lazy bums in the pool are probably slumbering out of bed about now on a Good Friday statutory holiday.

Ryan has a slight lead but the Chabane brothers are in hot pursuit. Last year's winner Pops is only three back and sits in fourth. I don't expect a great night for me as only my two Vancouver players take the ice, but look for me to surge ahead after Saturday's games. Access the latest standings and statistics here.

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The Passion of the Easter Bunny

The Beating of the Easter BunnyIn Pennsylvania, a church trying to teach about Jesus' crucifixion performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs. To quote this Newsday article, "People who attended Saturday's show at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified".

What exactly is so Christ-like about beating the snot out of a furry rodent? I understand Christians wanting to preach about the true meaning of Easter, but please, leave the poor Easter Bunny out of it. He's harmless and the kids love him.

James knows the Easter Bunny is coming on Sunday morning and he's excited about the chocolates he gets to find, if Booner doesn't find them first, that it. If James was at this church he'd have been scarred for life. Watching the Easter Bunny getting whipped and hearing actors exclaim "There is no Easter bunny" would have guaranteed him decades of therapy.

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Copy Controlled?

Copy Control?Nickelback's The Long Road contains a stamp on the back that claims it's "Copy Controlled". The basis of the technique is the observation that computer CD-ROM drives are generally cleverer than simple CD players and are more likely to notice errors on the disc. By putting intentionally bad or misleading data onto a disc, it was found that it was possible to confuse most computers but still have the majority of normal CD players play the disc apparently without problem.

Obviously, I was very interested to rip this "Copy Controlled" CD to MP3. I used the same application I used to create my MP3 collection, Audiograbber. Was I successful? Did this copy control give me grief?

Not a problem. She ripped like a doll and every MP3 sounds just great. Theoretically speaking, I could now add these MP3s to various mixes and compilations without a problem. Copy Controlled indeed...

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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.

It hurt so much to watch that performence in game one.... like so many other fans I felt sick when the ref put his hand up to call McCabe for the slashing call. I really want to look forward to the playoffs, and saturday will be very telling to whether I will. The refs called too many penalties, but the Leafs better recognize this trend that is spread across all eight series and smarten up!!! Tucker isn't even playing and we take these dumb penalties.... It's baffling.

On another note... I am so sick of these home makeover shows. They are being duplicated with similar names. Not only home makeover, but home organization, makeovers to make ugly people less ugly through the power of science, finding love on television. Watching people date. I'm done with it. Television is awful as it is without those shows on. I used to look so forward to May Sweeps and I feel nothing this season.

Negativity sweeps over me after a game one loss. Sniff....

     Ryan

I have successfully avoided all home makeover shows. I know they exist, but only through osmosis. Trading Places, Trading Spaces...they're all merely a rumour to me. Screw May sweeps...it means nothing on the only network that matters. In Canada, we're forbidden by law to subscribe to HBO, but TMN buys most of the best HBO shows. Sunday nights have become a glorious oasis of quality television in our home. After The Simpsons it's not long before The Sopranos and Deadwood. Both are just awesome. We've just come off another brilliant season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and soon we'll be blessed with another season of Six Feet Under. Remember the prophetic words of Bruce Springsteen. "57 channels and nothin' on."

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Maple Leafs 2, Senators 4

Go Leafs Go!When the going got tough, the Maple Leafs were no where to be found. Tonight's effort was weak. A few more outings like this and we'll be golfing in no time.

Where was the effort? Where was Sundin? What's with all the weird penalties being called? Why did Belfour gamble like that on Hossa's breakaway?

Ottawa Leads Series 1-0

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesHow You Remind Me of Someday - This is great. This link is an MP3 of Nickelback's "Someday" in your left speaker and "How You Remind Me" in the right. It's the exact same song! For more on Nickelback songs that sound like other songs, read my entry of March 2, 2004.

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My Prediction

My predictionTonight, at 19:05 EST, the puck will drop on the Maple Leafs 2003/2004 Stanley Cup playoff run. Our first round opponent is none other than the Ottawa Senators.

One of the cool things about having a site like this is I can make a prediction and see if I was right or wrong. I am predicting a Maple Leaf victory in six games. Take it to the bank.

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Pure Genius

Kurt CobainHe wasn't just good, he was scary good. Over the past week I've spun every Nirvana CD in my collection. I've listened to Bleach, Nevermind, Incesticide, In Utero and MTV Unplugged in New York (Live) several times each. Every note reminded me of how talented a musician Kurt Cobain was and this entry will never be able to do his talent justice.

Perhaps this will. On November 18, 1993, Nirvana performed an acoustic show at Sony Music Studios in New York for MTV. The performance was taped and posthumously released on CD as the aforementioned MTV Unplugged in New York (Live). Everything was done in one take, as live, with absolutely no re-takes. There was minimal rehearsal and not a single run through of the actual play list Kurt would settle on. Kurt was also going through withdrawal and needed periodic hits of valium to keep him from falling to pieces.

Having read the previous three sentences of this entry, spin MTV Unplugged in New York (Live). Even if you don't consider yourself a Nirvana fan or don't give a shit about Kurt Cobain and his death that was reported ten years ago today, give this disc a spin. Hell, if you don't have it or access to it, I will personally hook you up. Contact me for details. I feel that strongly about this.

One take, completely live to tape and an absolutely perfect end result. Pure genius.

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And We're Off

Playoff PoolLast night the first four games were played in the 2004 NHL playoffs. The 2004 playoff pool home page has since received its first updates. The Chabane boys have jumped out to an early lead but Ryan is hot on their tails. View the current standings here.

I'm in the middle of the pack thanks to Vancouver's big night but my three Detroit players were completely shut out in their victory. As for tonight's action, I've got my jersey on and I'm in the zone. Put me in coach, I'm ready. I'll be posting my prediction for the Maple Leafs - Senators series later today.

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Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)With apologies to John Winston Lennon...

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here.

Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy.

Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It's getting better and better.

Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy.

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime...

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans.

Beautiful,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy.
Darling,
Darling,
Darling James.

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Rwandan Genocide

Rwandan GenocideTen years ago, 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were systematically slaughtered in Rwanda. Survivors of the genocide buried 20 coffins today filled with the remains of victims in a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the atrocity in the central African country. Paul Martin did not attend this symbolic burial.

I use the words of Amnesty International below.

Between April and July 1994, as many as one million people were killed in a genocide organized by extremist elements within the Hutu-dominated government and armed forces, the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR). Many of these killings were carried out by the militia known as interahamwe. Most of the victims were members of the Tutsi ethnic minority, but members of the Hutu ethnic majority who were not supporting the extremists or who were viewed as political opponents were also killed. The international community must accept its responsibility in the genocide. Arms supplies from French, Chinese and South African companies as well as political support by several foreign countries to the government of President Habyarimana helped extremists gain political and military power. During the genocide, perpetrators received arms from Albania and Israel, organized by traders based in the United Kingdom. The international community failed to react to warning signals before the violence, and the UN peace-keeping force was withdrawn from Rwanda at the height of the massacres.

Our very own general Romeo Dalliare was in charge of the small UN peacekeeping forces during the genocide. His words ring true. "There exists no country today that, 10 years later, has the right to wash its hands of Rwandan blood, by simply saying 'sorry' and giving money." He went on to say "The Rwandan genocide happened because the international community - if I may be brutal, as the genocide was - didn't give one damn for Rwandans because Rwandans don't count. Rwanda is of no strategic value to anybody, and has no strategic resources".

Ten years later, decomposing bodies are still being found. Sadly, I sense people in North America simply don't care. Dalliare is right when he bluntly states that Rwandans don't count. Human rights abuses, even on a scale as large as this, are conveniently ignored when they occur in poor, distant lands such as Rwanda. There is no doubt in my mind that racism plays a huge role in this general disinterest.

More than 800,000 perished in particularly brutal fashion. May they not have died in vain.

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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 Whole World is Going Crazy!

I just read the headlines in today's news - "American Missile Attack on Fallujah Mosque Kills Dozens". My first reaction was - "Stupid Americans...how could they be so foolish and insensitive as to bomb a mosque!!!" As I read further into the article, it revealed that the American soldiers were retaliating against known sniper positions, hunkered down inside the mosque and the neighbouring Muslim cemetery. My thoughts then raced to - "Stupid Sunni insurgents (I'm not sure what to call them anymore...the article referred to them as such.) ...how could they be so foolish and insensitive as to use their own hallowed-ground as a battlefield!!!"

What is this world coming to? I have given up taking sides or trying to understand the logic of "American Democratization" and "Islamic Jihad".

Shame on all those who kill in the name of their God!

     Marty

I agree 100%. I thought we finished the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Thousands and thousands of people were slaughtered in the name of religion during this dark period in the history of our world. It seems we, as a society, have not lived and learned from the errors of our ways. It's tragic that our sons and daughters are murdered for this senseless purpose.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesKill Bill Volume 2 Trailer - It had been quite some time since I saw a movie I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed Kill Bill Volume 1 when I saw it last November. As a result, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Kill Bill Volume 2 later this month. Today's link is for the trailer for this sequel.

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The Masters

The MastersThis weekend is The Masters golf tournament from Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Bright's Grove, Ontario's Mike Weir is the defending champion.

I just entered a Masters pool at work. I had to select three golfers and the objective is to have the lowest combined score. Every member of the threesome chosen have to make the cut or you're disqualified.

As you'll read in my When I'll Watch Golf entry, I don't follow the sport very closely. In fact, I asked my brother Steve to guide me in the right direction as I selected my three golfers for the pool. Based on his advice, I selected Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III.

Visit The Masters Leader Board to follow the action beginning Thursday.

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Vaccination Scar

Vaccination ScarWhen Hockey Night in Canada opens at 19:00 EST this Saturday night for the Maple Leafs - Senators game, they will be debuting a brand spankin' new single from The Tragically Hip. The tune is called "Vaccination Scar" and is set to hit radio airwaves on April 12.

Fellow Hip fans will be interested to know the new Hip CD is entitled In Between Evolution and will be available June 29th. I'm very much looking forward to spinning this one. Rumours are their sound on this disc harkens back to the Road Apples days.

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Anonymous Message

Anonymous MessageThis entry is intended for the anonymous person who just used the form on my Contact Mike page to ask how he/she could get into our 2004 Playoff Pool.

We drafted our teams, so it's too late to join in the fun now. If you're seriously interested, contact me with a little more info and you can draft a team with us next spring...if there's an NHL hockey season next year. Nobody can plead ignorance because I fired a warning shot on March 31 and again on April 3.

I'll make brief updates here throughout the pool, but to follow the action daily you'll want to click the puck next to the torontomike.com logo on the very top of this page.

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Mini Cones

Mini ConesOnce I told Taryn how much James enjoyed an ice cream cone at his grandmother's house, she added ice cream cones to the grocery list. I wasn't with her when she bought the mini cones, but I wish I was.

As I understand it, there were these mini cones in a box next to the regular ice cream cones. Taryn chose the mini cones because James is sort of a mini person. She figured they'd be a little smaller than the regular cones and would therefore be easier for the little dude to handle.

Calling these cones "mini" doesn't do them justice. They're puny little things. It's almost impossible to get ice cream into them because there's no spoon small enough for the job. Seriously, these ice cream cones are laughably miniature. I accidentally inhaled one of these so-called cones moments ago.

We laugh every time we offer James a treat. Even James looks a little disappointed when he's handed his mini cone. I don't blame Taryn, bless her heart, but she should have been tipped off when she saw this small box contained 72 cones. We're none of us perfect I suppose.

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Sesame Street

Sesame StreetI grew up on Sesame Street. In the mid to late 70s, it was the show for children and I watched it daily. my mother tells me I'd be glued to the television when Sesame Street was on.

Sesame Street is now beginning its 35th season. In recognition of this milestone, Sesame Street has launched their 35th Anniversary Trivia game online. I had a blast playing this game hosted by none other than Oscar the Grouch. He's as grouchy as I remember. If you ever spent time on Sesame Street as a kid, you've got to sample 35 years of Sesame Street trash.

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Discontent

Homer's Quote of the WeekFans of The Simpsons are well aware by now that production of the new season has been held up over contract demands by the actors who play major voice roles in the comedy series. As many a headline has stated, they want more dough to say "doh!".

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there is a strong possibility the NHL could shut down for all of next season. The owners and players association are that far apart. The playoff hockey kicking off tomorrow night might be all we see for quite some time.

Two television essentials for me during a long, cold Canadian winter are Maple Leafs hockey and The Simpsons. They have both been a big part of my life for the past 14 years. It seems labour strife could cause me to lose both next fall.

Welcome to the winter of my discontent.

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Playoff Pool Drafted

Playoff PoolI've just returned from our annual playoff pool draft and everybody's picks can now be seen here. You can jump right to the official 2004 playoff pool home page by clicking the puck next to the logo at the very top of this page. Try it!

I seem to have drafted heavy from Detroit, Tampa Bay, Vancouver and New Jersey with a Maple Leaf sprinkled in the mix for good luck. We'll see how I do. Remember, you can follow along at home by clicking the puck at the top of this page anytime.

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Kurt Cobain

Kurt CobainI intended to write a lengthy piece about Kurt Cobain, his musical genius and his tragic demise ten years ago today, but there has been so much coverage of this in the printed press, on the radio and on television that I decided to spare everyone the details you all know too well. Instead, I'm going to revisit my teenaged self and briefly recount how Kurt's life and death touched my spirit.

When I was a teenager, there was no bigger band on the planet. From the moment I spun Nevermind on my portable Phillips CD player for the first time on the strength of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", a single getting heavy airplay on CFNY, the desires of my ears changed forever. Prior to this, I was a guy listening to Guns 'N Roses, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and other such 80s rock bands. When I needed an edgier fix, I would spin Public Enemy, probably my favourite band at the time. I was desperate for a musical movement to devour me whole, a musical movement that seemed far more organic than the contrived sounds of Warrant, Poison and Skid Row. Nirvana turned me on to a scene that offered me everything I was looking for. The media anointed it grunge.

I was 19 when I first heard that Kurt was dead. I went numb. He had it all. He was a huge rock star with lots of money and a baby girl. There were other options, weren't there? Couldn't he have just quit the business? Was it better to burn out than fade away?

At 27, Kurt Cobain had produced a great deal of genius. I loved Bleach, I loved Nevermind, I loved Incesticide and I loved In Utero. I remember going to Sam the Record Man at Yonge and Dundas the morning In Utero was released. I remember reading the liner notes during class at U of T...I couldn't wait to get home to give it a spin. I had a similar love for the music of Pearl Jam, but Nirvana was #1.

What I remember the most in those days and weeks following Kurt's suicide is listening to nothing but Nirvana. It's how I fed my sorrow. All Nirvana, all the time. Shortly thereafter, Alan Cross did an "Ongoing History of New Music" on Nirvana and Kurt's suicide and I still have that episode on tape. Unplugged in New York and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah would follow, and both were as awesome as I expected them to be.

It was ten years ago today. The music Kurt Cobain produced during the short career of Nirvana is as relevant to me today as it was then. He was pained, vulnerable, screaming for help. He was ours and I miss him.

I am now 29 years old. That's two years older than Kurt was at the time of his death. I often wonder how he was able to look his daughter in the eyes and still want to end it all. Clearly, he felt his daughter would be better off without him. That, in a nutshell, is the saddest note in his final, tragic song.

Peace, love, empathy.

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Bring On The Sens

Go Leafs Go!This afternoon, I rooted for the New Jersey Devils. I don't believe I've ever done that before. A win by the Devils over the Boston Bruins would have given us the division title and a first round match up against the Montreal Canadiens. Who wasn't looking forward to that?

The Devils came out flat and were defeated by the Bruins 3-1. That means the Maple Leafs are now officially the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and we face the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Been there, done that.

Ottawa is a good team, no doubt about it, but I'm cautiously optimistic about this match up. Not because we're 3-0 in playoff series against the Sens but because Eddie Belfour is playing great and the team in front of him are in the zone. We finished up strong with a veteran-laden line up ready to do what it takes to succeed. I wish we could kick this series off tonight because I too am in the zone. 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.

Re: Top Grunge Albums

What happened to Soundgarden's Superunknown? Or was it too late / too commercial?

     Ajax Mike

I can't speak for the Mercury News, but you raise a good point. Superunknown would most likely make my top 10 although I would rank Badmotorfinger higher. Nothing beats "Jesus Christ Pose".

My very first blog entry entitled "Grunge Forever" was posted back in November of 2002 and in it I wrote the following. "Music peaked in 1991-1994. Specifically, the days between the release of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and the moment a self-inflicted gunshot pierced Kurt Cobain's brain. There is little doubt of this fact." Soundgarden's Superunknown was actually released on March 8th, 1994...the exact date Kurt Cobain's body was discovered. That may very well put Superunknown on the grunge era bubble.

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11 Greatest Grunge Albums

11 Greatest Grunge AlbumsThe Mercury News out of the Bay Area has listed what they believe to be the 11 greatest grunge albums. I read this list and article with great interest considering the majority of what I listen to was released during the golden era of grunge.

Here is their list.

  1. "Nevermind," Nirvana
  2. "In Utero," Nirvana
  3. "Ten," Pearl Jam
  4. "Dirt," Alice in Chains
  5. "Vs.," Pearl Jam
  6. "Temple of the Dog," Temple of the Dog
  7. "Core," Stone Temple Pilots
  8. "Sweet Oblivion," Screaming Trees
  9. "Singles (Original Soundtrack)," various artists
  10. "Bricks Are Heavy," L7
  11. "Badmotorfinger," Soundgarden

The Mercury News did a great job. Every album on thier list is spun by me on a regular basis except for their selections from Screaming Trees and L7. In fact, if I were to compose my favourite 10 grunge albums, I'd have an eerily similar list. I'm spinning Dirt from Alice in Chains right now and it's a complete coincidence, I swear!

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My Quote of the Week

Mike's Quote of the Week"And I swear that I don't have a gun. No I don't have a gun."
      - Nirvana, Come As You Are

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Maple Leafs 6, Ottawa Senators 0

Go Leafs Go!This game felt like a playoff game. Too bad it wasn't because we whipped 'em good.

By blanking the Sens tonight, the Maple Leafs have assured themselves home ice advantage through the first round. Furthermore, if Boston loses tomorrow against New Jersey, we're winning the whole damn division. That makes us the second seed in the entire conference. Awesome, totally awesome.

We're unbeaten in five and hitting our stride just in time for the playoffs. As the second seed, we'll face our historic rivals from Montreal. As the fourth seed, it's Ottawa again. Either way, we're ready. Bring them on.

Current Record  Last Three Games Season Leaders
45-24-10-3
103 points
1st in Division
6-0 Win vs. Ottawa
2-0 Win vs. Buffalo
4-2 Win vs. Atlanta
M. Sundin - 75
B. McCabe - 51
O. Nolan - 47

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Baseball Prediction

Baseball PredictionThe Toronto Blue Jays' 2004 season opens on Monday night against the Detroit Tigers. Roy Halladay will be on the mound for the Jays and it's a 1:05 pm start so I'll be following the game online while I work. I'd prefer to listen to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth calling the game online, but they want $14.95 USD for a season of that privilege.

I've given this up coming season a great deal of thought and I've studied our pros and cons closely. Here is my prediction as to how the American League Eastern Division will finish in 2004.

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

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Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving TimeHere's where we get screwed. Our weekends are already too short and tonight an hour evaporates into thin air. After the Leafs game I'll bump each clock up an hour and our weekend drops from 48 to 47 hours just like that.

Sure, we get an extra hour in the fall, but I've already done plenty of griping about that. On October 28, 2003 I wrote the following. "We've essentially taken an hour of sunlight we'd experience in the evening and moved it to the morning. Wouldn't it be more beneficial for our society to keep that hour of sunlight in the evening where it can be enjoyed? Does anyone really care if there's light at 7am?"

Let's make this the last time we have to change our clocks like this. Whattyasay people? Just say no on October 26, 2004. Enough is enough.

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New Videos

New VideosFour new videos of James are now available for your viewing pleasure in Videos. They were all shot earlier today.

Seinfeld fans won't want to miss James exclaim "It's my butler!" There's also some retro action and a demonstration of how to eat an ice cream cone while creating the biggest mess possible.

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Playoff Pool Draft

Playoff PoolListen up poolies...this is last call. We will be hosting the draft for our annual hockey playoff pool this Monday, April 5th @ 6:15 pm. If you want to participate in this thrilling annual ritual, please contact me asap and I'll share with you the pertinent details.

We're organizing everything this weekend so the more who confirm their presence on Monday night, the better. Go here, drop me a line and see ya Monday!

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Maple Leafs 2, Sabres 0

Go Leafs Go!The Maple Leafs only have a single regular season game to play, yet there are so many possibilities when it comes to our first round match up. With our win last night it's still possible to win the Northeast division and secure the 2nd seed in the conference but it's also possible to finish third in the division and be seeded 6th. The ideal scenario is this: Boston loses their last two games and we beat the Sens tonight to win the division and the 2nd seed. In this instance, we get to face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Admittedly, the odds of Boston losing both remaining games is slim, but Joe Thornton is day-to-day with an upper body injury and they are playing New Jersey both games. Anything is possible.

I love this time of the year. Tonight's game against Ottawa is going to be great. With a victory, we leap frog the Sens and guarantee ourselves home ice for the first round. Go Leafs Go!

Current Record  Last Three Games Season Leaders
44-24-10-3
101 points
2nd in Division
2-0 Win vs. Buffalo
4-2 Win vs. Atlanta
2-2 Tie vs. Ottawa
M. Sundin - 74
B. McCabe - 51
O. Nolan - 47

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"Kids, kids. I'm not going to die. That only happens to bad people."

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Deadwood

DeadwoodI really don't watch very much television. If you take sports out of the equation, there are only a few shows I have to watch each week. The Simpsons and The Sopranos are probably the only two currently on my "must see" list now that Curb Your Enthusiasm is finished for the year and Six Feet Under is still a couple of months away.

TMN, the Canadian cable network that airs HBO's The Sopranos here, is airing another HBO series immediately following the exploits of Tony and the gang. It's called Deadwood and it's set in a lawless South Dakota mining camp in 1876. I've seen the first two episodes and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest. It's good.

One thing about Deadwood is the abundance of swearing. I'm used to hearing swearing in my television shows with all the HBO series I watch (Oz, Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Larry Sanders Show, Dream On, etc) but in Deadwood, it's really in your face. All the bad ones, all the time. Apparently, this is how they spoke in the wild west. Who knew?

I've added Deadwood to my short list of shows I want to catch each week. Quality programming is a rare thing these days, but it seems to grow like weeds on HBO. HBO really does produce television that's too good for tv.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's FavouritesUVA Computer Science: Star Links - Remember Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? This link makes it easy to connect anyone to anyone is as few degrees as possible. I just searched for a link between Pauly Short and Ed Norton and learned that Pauly Shore was in Lost Angels with Donald Sutherland who was in The Italian Job with Ed Norton.

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Dave Matthews

Dave MatthewsThey're advertising a Dave Matthews concert on the radio. I'm told Dave Matthews is extremely popular with a devout fanbase who follow him on the road in much the same manner Dead Heads followed The Grateful Dead. I just don't get it.

First and foremost, I can't stand Dave Matthew's voice. It doesn't appeal to me in the least. Whenever a Dave Matthews song comes on the radio, I turn the station. His popularity astounds me.

Many moons ago, in the days when I would purchase CDs with my hard earned money, I bought a compilation entitled "MTV's Buzz Bin". It had some tracks I wanted from White Zombie, Radiohead, Filter and Danzig. It also had "What Would You Say" by the Dave Matthews Band. It wasn't a bad tune, but it seemed so regular to me. I was completely indifferent to it. I've yet to hear a song by Dave Matthews that I've liked as much and that's why I'm so surprised by his popularity. Am I missing something?

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The Friday Five

Friday FiveMy Favourite Nirvana Songs (at this moment in time)

  1. Lithium
  2. All Apologies
  3. Pennyroyal Tea
  4. Sliver
  5. Rape Me

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Gmail

GmailWhen I first read about Google's new webmail service, I thought it was another April Fool's Day joke. Google unveiled Gmail, "an experiment in a new kind of webmail, built on the idea that you should never have to delete mail and you should always be able to find the message you want."

In a bold attack against Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, Gmail offers 1000 MB of free storage. That's right, they're going to give us each a whole GB of storage for our email while Hotmail offers 2 MB. I have a Yahoo! Mail account and get a whopping 6 MB from them. 1000 MB is hard to believe. This is why I thought it was a hoax.

It turns out it's no joke. This is the real deal and this could get very interesting. Imagine the possiblities with a GB of storage at your fingertips.

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Grunwald Fired

Grunwald FiredJust last weekend I expressed my frustration with the Toronto Raptors and reiterated the fact everyone is all too aware of, "Something's Got To Give". Today, something gave.

The Raptors have fired general manager Glen Grunwald, according to reputable sources. Former Detroit Pistons GM Jack McCloskey will take over Grunwald's duties on an interim basis.

We're currently 11th in the weak Eastern Conference and that's not nearly good enough. Grunwald has had seven years to produce a winner and he's failed. He's a great guy, and he made some good moves, but the end result is the only result that matters. Will Kevin O'Neill follow? If Vince Carter demands a trade, we'd better hope so. Now lets hope the new GM can pull a point guard and a center out of his hat.

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Cross & Lopez

Cross & LopezI got in my car this morning and started channel surfing as is my usual routine. I heard the 07:00 news, a great tune from Broken Social Scene and then switched to 92.9 to hear what Howard Stern was up to. The voices eminating from WBUF did not belong to Howard, Robin or Artie but a couple of perky deejays going by the names Cross & Lopez.

Cross & Lopez were everything I hate about radio. They were 100% pure American cheese playing top 40 music from Britney and the gang. It was garbage, it was boring and it was an April Fool's joke.

Apparently, the station's general manager opened this morning's broadcast by reading a statement that Infinity Broadcasting had parted ways with Howard Stern following pressure from the FCC and Cross & Lopez was the "fun without the filth". A lot of people bought it hook, line and sinker. I thought it was a good wake-up call for people. This exact scenario could play itself out in the not too distant future if the FCC and Congress get their way. The sanitization of the public airwaves has already begun. Get used to Cross & Lopez, they may become the only voices heard on the radio.

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Homer Simpson's Bonus Quote of the Week

Homer's Quote of the Week"It's a good thing that beer wasn't shaken up any more, or I'd have looked quite the fool. An April fool, as it were."

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