December 2005 Archives

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Staying Up 'Til Midnight

RewindI was just talking with Taryn about what's going on in the city and on television tonight as we welcome 2006. We were trying to remember the last time one of us was actually awake when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. We were guessing it's been a good five years. We were wrong.

I was awake at midnight on New Year's Eve as recently as two years ago. It's well documented and you can read about my New Year's Eve 2003 in the Archives. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote.

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

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

And it was. So was 2005. Happy New Year everyone.

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Hitch

A Movie ReelHitch: 5 out of 10.

"Are We There Yet?" left such a bad taste in my mouth, I hadn't seen a feature film since. "Hitch" was a great deal better, but anything would seem better by comparison. It's a pretty safe romantic comedy that doesn't suck but doesn't deliver many big laughs either. It's exactly the kind of film that will gross $177,575,142 at American box offices.

What ultra-safe comedy starring a former rapper will I see next?

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

A picture of Homer Jay Simpson"I hope I didn't brain my damage!"

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

To Mona:

How nasty and how incredibly sad that you are such a racist. Your comments would completely freak Jane Creba out. She was a girl with an open heart and cared about EVERYONE.

Your ignorance is astounding and incredibly hurtful.

Are you trying to tell me that white people are never violent or hurtful. Every single famous serial killer was....hmmm what .......WHITE GUYS!!!!!!!

      anya

So long as we paint everything black or white we're spinning our wheels. We need to be more constructive than that. Mona's comments have freaked many of us out but I suspect she's not alone in her views. Jaydee's comments were even more disturbing.

Two were charged earlier today in the Boxing Day shooting. Andre Thompson, 20, and a 17 year old who cannot be identified are in police custody. Every action has a consequence. All responsible must be captured and must face the consequences of their actions. That's a start.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayIFILM - Viral Video: Best of 2005 - This is a tremendous collection of the year's best viral videos, many of which I've linked to in the past. They're all here... Kanye West's attack on Dubya, Tom Cruise going wild, Tyra Banks going apeshit and the Superfriends' salute to "Office Space".

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveSad celebrity passings in 2005

  1. Tom Cheek
  2. Peter Jennings
  3. Richard Pryor
  4. Pope John Paul II
  5. Pat Morita

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My Favourite Songs of 2005

MusicIt's the year-end list you've been waiting for. I've already documented my favourite albums of 2005 and now here are my ten favourite songs of 2005.

10. Wolf Parade's I'll Believe In Anything
I only got into this band recently when a friend insisted I listen to Apologies to the Queen Mary. When I first heard this album, I had to hear it again. At the time I didn't know where Wolf Parade was from but their raw sound seemed to capture what I dig about Arcade Fire. The song "I'll Believe In Anything" struck a chord with me and became my favourite cut on this fine disc. It turns out these guys are from Victoria and are based out of Montreal. Go figure... and go listen!

9. The Strokes' Juicebox
This is the new single from these guys and will on their new album. It's that sound I love from these guys - great screaming over a catchy hook.

8. Louis XIV's Finding Out True Love Is Blind
This tune is a little silly, but it's a great single with funky lyrics and a nice juxtaposition between the sexually aggressive male voice and female harmonies. It's pure fun.

7. Elliott Brood's The Bridge
I first wrote about this tune back in November after hearing it on CBC Radio's "The National Playlist". I've since scored an MP3 of the tune and I'm still digging it. It's got a Simon & Garfunkel meets Blind Melon quality to it before it breaks down at the 1:25 mark in a rustic sort of dirty Texas way before sweetly returning to the aforementioned melody.

6. System of a Down's B.Y.O.B.
These guys always have something interesting to say. This was the first single from the first of their two albums released in 2005. It's catchy enough to dance to and angry enough to be vintage SOAD.

5. The Mars Volta's The Widow
Some have called this song pretentious. If an original, jazzy, manic, epic track like this is pretentious, pretent away!

4. Stars' Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
If you hurry, I'm sharing this song right now. Again I like the play between the male and female voices in a raw yet melodious package.

3. The New Pornographers' Use It
Did I mention I like this album? Oh yeah, it's my favourite album of 2005. Guess what's my favourite song on my favourite album of 2005?

2. Death From Above 1979's Romantic Rights
Wow. This is my kind of single. It's got a great beat and a totally raw and rough sound. The remixes of this song are all good too. I could create a playlist of all five versions of this track I have, shuffle them and never get bored.

1. Arcade Fire's Wake Up
I'm not sure this song qualifies for this list, but it's my site and I'll do as I please! From an album that was released in 2004, this was my favourite song of 2005. I've rambled on about it before. It's a perfect single and still a delight to hear. I see it's finally cracked the top ten of the Thursday 30 at CFNY Edge 102. Reaching #1 is only a matter of time.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Regarding Mona's rant and Boon's justification of her nearsighted and racist post, let's be reminded that the identity or race of the shooter who's bullet struck Creba have not been identified. It's important to withold one's conclusions until all the evidence is on the table, because anyone with a modicum of life experience will tell you, assumptions frequently turn out to be incorrect.

What man calls "me" is nothing more than a collection of sensate experiences gathered throughout their lifetime. Put another way, if you experience shit you'll spread shit. And that's not regarding the hue your skin gives off in the light. One who is in conflict creates conflict -- it begins from within. Turn out the light and a conflicted white youth is just as conflicted as a black one, and both carry the same potential to carry out what happened downtown this past Boxing Day.

When unfortunate circumstances like this manifest, we want to compartmentalize the problem -- find a specific cause for a specific result, and above all, we want to put a name (or skin colour) behind the cause. For starters, we must put an end to this sort of materialistic thought process.

It never occurs to people that some things may not have clear causes, if any at causes at all. Sure life appears to be driven by a degree of predictability, but I believe that every occurrence in the universe was manifested by the full weight of the universe -- our task is to grow from those occurrences whether they be pleasant or unpleasant. No amount of analysis, theory or parrotting dead cliches like "enough is enough" will address this issue satisfactorily.

What is my stance on the issue? Indifference. That's not to say I hold no concern for what happened, but the world is our teacher and man doesn't have his attenae tuned. The clues for human growth exist as much in a blade of grass as it does in a wild Yonge Street shootout, but we don't look for them.

We don't know how.

You won't hear any plaintiff cries of "stop the violence from me," because I am perceptive enought to recognize the futility of that. After the Cadougan boy was caught in the crossfire of a housing complex shootout last summer, I even said more four year olds need to be caught in the middle of gun battles if that's what it will take for people to wake up. Controversial sure, but it may be the best cold shower that'll make these punks come to their senses.

Proton out.

      Proton

You're right, I gave Mona an easy out. Initially my response was going to be quite a bit harsher, but then I felt my tone was going to be too judgmental so I gave her the benefit of the Chris Rock doubt. If I close my eyes and visualize the person who fired the bullet that killed Jane sometimes it's a white male, sometimes it's a black female, other times I see a black male or even a white female. Always it's a lawless, fearless punk.

You're right about something else. We don't know. That's why there's so much frustration. If I can do nothing else at least I can give everyone who has an opinion on the subject a forum to express it, for better or for worse. My greatest fear is the spread of further indifference.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Thanks to the Liberals who allow these third world pieces of garbage into this country we now have a dead 15 year old girl to bury. All in the name of multiculturism. Thanks a lot you Liberal bastards. Now they want to ban all handguns so no Canadian has the means to defend themself. I'm sure all these Jamaican gang bangers will be the first in line to hand in their guns once the ban takes effect. Voting Liberal means voting for your own demise because they dont give a crap about you. Judges have no balls. Laws have no teeth. Cops are charged with assault if they lay a finger on these pampered thugs. Defence lawyers earn ten times the salary as a prosecuter. Law abiding Canadians will be charged if they try to defend themselfs. Yes, voting Liberal will get you killed, just ask Jane Creba.

      jaydee

I'm not sure which entry is more offensive, Mona's or yours. I'm offended by how easily you pin the entire blame on "third world pieces of garbage". We're all looking for easy answers to a highly complex problem and scape goating isn't going to get us anywhere. We're better than that, aren't we?

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

i want to tell JANE CREBA's family and friends to walk with there heads held high for JANE. she had everything going for her. i'm a stranger to JANE CREBA but i am not a stranger to all the gun violence in and around our streets. i want JANE's family and friends to know that it was a COWARD that killed

their beautiful daughter, NIGGAR's, are NIGGAR's are NIGGARS. i never met a brave NIGGAR yet.when they get the fucken NIGGAR who shot JANE CREBA, watch he'll be walking with his head between his legs because that is what NIGGARS do. gangs or not, there all NIGGARS and NIGGAR means COWARD, COWARD, COWARD.

      mona

This is probably a good time for me to remind everyone that the content in blocks of blue within entries entitled "Guest Blog Entry" are submitted by readers via this Guest Blog form and do not necessarily represent my views and beliefs. I copy and paste the submissions as I receive them. It seems this page is ranked rather high in Google when people search "Jane Creba". Sadly, this is the second time this month I've seen an influx of traffic due to the tragic death of a teenager.

Chris Rock does a good bit about the difference between "niggers" and "black people". Here's some of that bit for those who don't know the routine. Mona is understandably angry and frustrated and her rant seems to be built upon Rock's assertion. I truly think she's using the term "niggar" in her second paragraph in the fashion Rock used it. At least, I sincerely hope so.

Everyone is welcome to write about this. As HiMY Syed wrote, Toronto needs to begin 2006 by healing the wounds of city-wide gunfire from 2005. You'll find a great deal written about this over the past week. Add your voice.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Re: The posting by Anonymous

This has nothing to to do with race and everything to do with decency and respecting each other. The government cutbacks from youth programs is what has affected the youths of today. The doors were closed to them and they were told to fend for themselves ... and THAT is exactly what they did. Nobody (Politicians) has ever asked them what they needed ... they've just been accustomed to taking what they can get and making the best choices from the options given to them. Their communities became the breeding grounds for anger and escalating aggression. In turn, this anger with no outlet for its release, feels empowered when you put a weapon in their angry hands. Increased spending in community programs is necessary to guide the youth to become better adults in the future. Will social programs help change the ways of those currently shooting guns in the street? Probably not. For those, we need enforcement. From a strong police presence in our communities and tough sentances. But for the young ones, we need to be sure that they grow up to care about something. They need to have something to lose in order to be a functioning member of society. For those kids, the social programs are necessary.

      Jill

Well said.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Toronto needs to begin 2006 by healing the wounds of city-wide gunfire from 2005.

I was the one who almost immediately after the police tape was removed from the Yonge Street Boxing Day crime scene, created what the media has been referring to as a 'makeshift memorial' for the young victim who we now know as Jane Glenn Creba.

I am organizing an hour long vigil on Monday January 2nd, from 5 pm to 6 pm with a moment of silence at exactly 5:19 pm.

It will take place on both sidewalks along Yonge Street between Elm and Gould Streets.

That moment of silence will be exactly one week to the minute (to the best of my understanding from media reports) when Jane Creba along and the others were shot and she was killed.

The moment of silence is for ALL the victims of gunfire in 2005.

I have a webpage and blog up online :

http://www.YongeStreetPeace.TYO.ca

Please attend if you can, and BYOC, bring your own candles and BYFC, brings candles for others...

      HiMY SYeD

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Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 3

Go Leafs Go!This was a really exciting game. We jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first thanks to a brilliant short handed goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky and rare even strength goal by Bryan McCabe before getting caught and blowing a 3-2 lead in the third. This set up an exceptional overtime with loads of action and our best shootout effort ever.

Prior to last night, the only Maple Leaf to score a shootout goal was Eric Lindros, and he's still out with a torn wrist ligament. Mats Sundin started things off last night with a brilliant shot that beat Martin Biron and Ponikarovsky followed that up with a wicked deke to clinch the victory. Eddie Belfour did his part stopping both Ales Kotalik and Thomas Vanek. We're 13-0-1 this season when leading after two and we've now won four in a row, all by a single goal.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
21-14-3
45 points
3rd in Northeast
4-3 Win vs. Buffalo
3-2 Win vs. Pittsburgh
2-1 Win vs. New Jersey
B. McCabe - 45
J. Allison - 34
T. Kaberle - 29

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Canada 4, Norway 0

Canada HockeyI didn't watch a lot of this game because the Leafs game was far more exciting. What I did see in the first period was disappointing. I suppose it's unfair to compare this team with last year's team which may just be the finest junior squad we've ever assembled. Dion Phaneuf, Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Anthony Stewart, the list goes on. The team I saw last night needs a dab of offensive finish.

Still, we outshot Norway 50-13 and won easily. The big test is a day away when we face USA.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Totally Awesome, thank you for the music video link. Half of this stuff i didn't even know had a video. This is a late Christmas gift. Don't you wish Much Music could get a clue and actually show some of theses! Sadly MM is dead to me. This Rules

      Carter

I agree on all counts. I too couldn't believe how good that link is. When your only source for music videos is MuchMusic, you're missing so damn much it's frightening. MuchMusic, sadly, is pretty much dead to me too. Other than the odd Green Day or Arcade Fire video, it pretty much ignores the music I'm listening to these days. I'm too old for them, unfortunately.

On Christmas Day I got into a big discussion with my brothers about all the wicked music coming out of Canada lately. What boggles my mind is how CFNY Edge 102, the local alternative station here in Toronto, seems more content to fulfill their CanCon quota playing the hell out of Nickelback's "Photograph" or Sum 41's "Some Say" when they could try some Elliott Brood, The New Pornographers or Broken Social Scene. At least they play lots of Metric, Arcade Fire and that first Stars single. Here's hoping CFNY Edge 102 discovers Twin Cinema in 2006.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayTop 50 Music Videos Of 2005 - Totally awesome collection. He's got links to all the videos too. I don't know who this guy is, but I love him!

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

So let's all STOP it now. We are to a degree to blame. We Liberals who cherish some of what that party stands for might have to stop and look more seriously at other issues. I for one have been a liberal all my life and have never considered the Conservative party. But now I am revisiting this party's philosophy. We have to feel safe in our streets. We have to have peace of mind that when our children go downtown, which is the perogative of every young child to get to know the downtown district of their fair city, that they are safe. We cannot live in fear. We do NOT want to become like American Cities where whites to not venture to a black area and blacks do not venture to a white area. We have built our city on multiculturalism and until now have felt secure that this was the right thing to do. Harsher penalties have to become the norm for these crimes. There are individuals walking those downtown streets with a crime rate as long as my arm and they are on the streets. Why? Why? Why?

      Anonymous

I see somebody brought race into this discussion, but they're hiding behind the Anonymous tag. Are you, Anonymous, suggesting that we white people (assuming you're white... I suspect you are) may no longer feel safe in "black areas" because 52 people have died from gunshot wounds in our city in 2005? Would Prime Minister Stephen Harper (perish the thought) come down hard on those with criminal records thereby making "black areas" safer for white people to visit?

I don't mean to be snarky, I actually want to hear what others are thinking about all this, but I'm a bigger fan of Jill's suggestion. I'm also uncomfortable with labelling this a black problem. It's more of a self respect problem. I hope it doesn't appear as if I only took notice of this once an innocent young white girl got shot. When I wrote this I didn't know if she was black, white, yellow, brown, green or purple. All I knew is a 15-year old girl, shopping with her family at Yonge and Dundas on Boxing Day, was dead.

Enough is enough.

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Canada 4, Switzerland 3

Canada HockeyThat was close! Penalty after penalty made it a game of special teams. I must say, we didn't look very good and not nearly as polished as last year's squad. We're supposed to handle these teams with ease. Canada is 16-0 all-time versus the Swiss in the world junior tournament.

With 57 seconds remaining in the second period and a pane of glass in need of repair, they actually started the second intermission and finished the period on the clean ice just prior to the third. I had never seen that before, but it seemed to work.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

This violence MUST stop as innocent people are paying with their lives. Guns are easily smuggled over the border & IT is time our politicians both local, provincial & federal take note. New York City many years ago was noted as the crime capital of the U.S. Rudy Guliani became mayor & changed the laws with little support from state & federal government. New York City now is a changed city because someone cared in local government. Things will only get worse before they get better. Now is the time to change.

Who else must die innocently before someone takes notice?

      Dale

This is good, we have a dialogue regarding the safety of our city. I still want our juniors to make Swiss cheese tonight, but also want to feel safe when walking Yonge street with my kids.

Following the senseless death of Jane Creba on Monday, I wrote this, my mother wrote this, Jill wrote this and now Dale has written this. Speak up Torontonians. Your voice should be heard.

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumMichael Vale was 83. He was the actor best known for portraying sleepy-eyed Fred the Baker in Dunkin' Donuts commercials.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

The shooting on Boxing Day outside the Eaton Centre deeply disturbed my husband and I. This act of violence was committed in areas we frequent. This election season when the parties in each riding call to ask if we are going to vote, maybe we should ask, "Convince me why we should." I think that politicians have absolutely NO understanding of what is going on. I feel that politicians, often, live in their own bubble, much like anyone of us. Their needs, are not the needs of the single mom who has 3 children, and needs to work 2 jobs to survive and can't afford to send her children on field trips or pay for tennis lessons they have always wanted because the rec centre in the neighbourhood closed down due to government cutbacks. It is these government cutbacks from youth programs that has affected youths of today. I believe the violence we are seeing today is a result of youth boredom in impoverished communities. Educational curriculum for children needs to include problem solving and conflict resolution skills, build on values of mutual respect and nonviolence. We all need to live less in our bubbles and work together to strengthen community cohesiveness. Secondary factors, include access to weapons and the responses to violence, including policing presence, access to social services, courts and corrections. We need changes to our legal system. We put the politicians in office to speak on our behalf. We employ them, insist they make changes to our legal system. Every time a gun is fired on our streets, it's not only the shooter who is to blame, it's us for not putting a stop to this behavior.

      Jill

We totally agree. This was Jane Creba, a grade 10 student at Riverdale Collegiate Institute. A promising life cut brutally short. We're all to blame.

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My Favourite Albums of 2005

CDWith only a few days remaining in the calendar year, it's time to write a bunch of year-end "best of" entries. I've already hit you with my favourite television shows in 2005 and my favourite musical guilty pleasure of 2005 but now it's time for a biggie. Here are my ten favourite albums of the year that were released in 2005.

10. Feist's Let It Die
I first heard Leslie Feist on Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People. Let It Die, her second solo effort, was my quiet album of 2005. It's a great deal slower than my usual fare but it gently rocks my world. There's definitely something about her I dig.
Essential Track: Mushaboom

9. Neil Young's Prairie Wind
I really wanted this to be good. Neil Young is a musical hero of mine and earlier this year, his sixtieth, he required emergency surgery for an aneurysm. On Prairie Wind he's clearly looking back, writing about his recently deceased father and growing up in the prairies, but he's looking back in a collection of solid songs that will please any Young fan.
Essential Track: When God Made Me

8. Kanye West's Late Registration
My ears were very pleased with Kanye West's follow up to his debut smash The College Dropout. Every track sounds great with solid rhymes over solid rhythms. It was the best rap album of the year and, in my humble opinion, West's best effort to date.
Essential Track: Hey Mama

7. Stars' Set Yourself On Fire
I call this sweet rock. It's heavy, but in a soft and melodic way. Just before "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" we're told "When there's nothing left to burn, you must set yourself on fire." That pretty much sums up this great album out of Montreal.
Essential Track: Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

6. System of a Down's Mesmerize/Hypnotize
Yes, System of a Down released these as two separate albums, but they're clearly meant to be a double album and that's exactly how I view them. Legend has the guys taking their lead from Quentin Tarantino who released Kill Bill as two separate films even though they're two parts of a single whole. In total we have 23 typically awesome SOAD tracks, aggressive, manic and thought provoking.
Essential Track: B.Y.O.B.

5. Death From Above 1979's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine
I listened to this album after my brother Steve suggested I'd like it. He was right. It's all pretty heavy and groovy and they're from Toronto to boot. The remix album is awesome too.
Essential Track: Romantic Rights

4. Audioslave's Out of Exile
Admittedly, my vulnerability to nostalgia had me digging Audioslave before I heard a note from them, but this is their second album and I've loved them both. They've both been chock full of great rock songs that get me singing along with Chris Cornell. Out Of Exile is fantastic, three singles deep with more on the way.
Essential Track: Doesn't Remind Me

3. The White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan
I wonder if these two can do no wrong? Their seven appearances on SLS tie them with the Foo Fighters for first place overall. I consider every album they've released to be pure play-throughs. Get Behind Me Satan is no exception, even if it is a slight step back from Elephant and White Blood Cells.
Essential Track: My Doorbell

2. Broken Social Scene's Broken Social Scene
I describe Broken Social Scene as absolute melody in a most chaotic way. Listening to their latest album I'm overwhelmed by this chaotic order that somehow, against all odds, melts into such beauty. Play a game of Six Degrees of Separation with this band and you'll smack right into other personal favourites like Feist, Metric, Stars, Arcade Fire and more. It's incredible what's come out of the Toronto alt-rock scene in recent years.
Essential Track: 7/4 (Shoreline)

1. The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema
Best album released in 2005! If the idea of a Canadian album with great harmonies, greater melodies and spectacular play-through quality is at all appealing to you, this is your band. Buy it! Borrow it! Listen to it!
Essential Track: Use It

Other Great Albums From 2005: Beck's Guero, Foo Fighters' In Your Honor, Metric's Live It Out, Wolf Parade's Apologies To The Queen Mary, Franz Ferdinand's You Could Have It So Much Better, Gorrilaz's Demon Days.

It was a great year for music, but nothing sounded as good as 2004's Funeral from Arcade Fire. Although it was released in 2004 and didn't qualify for this top ten list, it truly was my favourite album of the year.

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Weekly MP3

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
I've been busy assembling my top ten songs of 2005 and this one is on it. It might be the finest track on Set Yourself on Fire, one of my favourite albums of the year.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

I would like to go one step further with your argument Mike and say that those children swarming teenagers 15 years ago for the doc marten shoes were the prelude to all of this. To take something from someone that does not belong to you and beat them up in the process was just one step ahead of the now easy access to illegal gun weapons. If those teenagers 15 years ago had had the guns that are now readily available I am not so sure that they would not have used them then. The point being that even then there was no respect for individuals. You took what you wanted however you had to. Yes it has escalated simply bc the weapons have now become more readily available. The federal leaders have got to take a stand on this matter. I think this matter more than anything else will be what all adults in Toronto of voting age will be concerned about. I for one will be listening to Paul Martin and Stephen Harper to see where their stand will be on the punishment of these crimes and how to deal with the entry of these illegal weapons. Weapons have been banned for 70 years. How are these teens and young people getting these weapons? How can we stop the entry of these illegal weapons is one of the topics that must be addressed during this month's campaign.

      Mary

Guns are smuggled across the border from the United States with a fair bit of ease. Gun control doesn't help because the lawless don't register their weapons. The kids who would roll you for your docs and the kids who fire bullets amidst Boxing Day shoppers are the same in that they all lack self respect. If every kid in the city had self respect, the murder rate would plummet.

As for how we give our children self respect, that's the million dollar question. It doesn't happen over night and it isn't easy. It's also never too late.

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Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 2

Go Leafs Go!This was a particularly sweet overtime victory because we had to kill off a barrage of penalties late in the third to get there. Mikael Tellqvist was great as we played 3:23 successive minutes being down at least a man, often two.

Don't look now, but we've won three in a row. The captain was our offensive star of the night scoring a goal and adding two assists. Tomorrow night we host the Sabres.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
20-14-3
43 points
3rd in Northeast
3-2 Win vs. Pittsburgh
2-1 Win vs. New Jersey
2-1 Win vs. Boston
B. McCabe - 44
J. Allison - 34
T. Kaberle - 28

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the Day25 Most Interesting Webcams of 2005 - EarthCam, the world's favorite webcam network and recognized authority on the Internet camera industry, has released its seventh annual list of the world's best webcams.

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Stop The Violence

GunWhen I was in high school, I remember hearing stories about kids who were being swarmed at the Eaton Centre. If a group of teens wanted your pair of Doc Martens, they simple swarmed you until you handed them over or you were going to get beat up. As a guy who wore Doc Martens and frequently visited the Yonge and Dundas area, I remember being particularly interested in these tales classmates were telling.

Fifteen years later, that legend sounds like a story straight out of the 50s. All year long we've been hearing that gun violence has increased in the city but yesterday's news of gun play really pissed me off. At about 17:00 EST, outside the Eaton Centre at Yonge and Dundas during the hustle and bustle of Boxing Day, gunfire broke out between two groups. 10 to 15 people in their late teens to early 20s were involved as six people were wounded and one innocent 15-year old girl was killed. She was standing outside a Foot Locker store, shopping with her family, when she was shot in the head.

I sincerely believe kids today are more brazen about these activities than they would have been even ten years ago. These people who fire guns into crowds of Boxing Day shoppers have no fear and simply don't care. 52 people have died in Toronto in 2005 due to a gunshot wound. This 15-year old girl wasn't shot at an after hours club at 03:00 but was shot while shopping at the Eaton Centre on Boxing Day. Are we simply getting a taste of what big American cities have been experiencing for decades? Have we indeed lost our innocence as Detective Sargent Savas Kyriacou said yesterday? What's the solution? Is there any hope for the future?

I have plenty of questions, but few answers. When shooters are as brazen as this I'm particularly fearful. Lawless, fearless, lost souls with access to firearms and a tragic agenda are in a different category altogether than the swarming groups we were warned about by our peers.

I remember in 1989 a collection of popular rappers who called themselves the Stop The Violence All-Stars recorded "Self Destruction". The Stop The Violence All-Stars were KRS-One, Stetsasonic, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Just-Ice, Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D, Public Enemy and Ms. Melodie. I was a big Public Enemy fan at the time, and I remember Chuck D's line at the end of this single. "To revolve to evolve to self respect cause we got to keep ourselves in check or else it's self destruction, ya headed for self destruction".

I think Chuck D nailed it. It's all about self respect. Those with self respect don't fire bullets amidst a crowd of shoppers. Those with self respect don't shoot innocent 15-year old girls in the head. Those with self respect don't acquire guns in the first place.

All we need to do to reverse this trend is give our young people self respect. It's that simple.

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Celeb Spotting In The T.Dot

BinocularsAt Perkins this morning, I saw WWE wrestler Edge. He was with a friend who looked like he too could have been a WWE wrestler and we watched as they paid for their meal and hopped in a black Hummer.

I'm an old school WWF fan but I haven't paid much attention since the mid-80s. If you want to learn more about my brunch buddy Edge, his Wikipedia page is a great start.

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The Tradition Continues

GiftFor the second Christmas in a row, Steve and I exchanged the exact same gift. Last year we gave each other The Simpsons Season Five on DVD. This year, keeping with tradition, we exchanged The Simpsons Season Seven on DVD.

It's exactly what he wanted and it's exactly what I wanted. The end result is two happy Simpsons fans enjoying "Bart Sells His Soul", "Lisa the Vegetarian", "Team Homer", "A Fish Called Selma", "22 Short Films About Springfield" and more.

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Maple Leafs 2, Devils 1

Go Leafs Go!Eddie Belfour stood tall making stopping 33 shots to secure this badly needed win. Bryan McCabe continued his amazing season with that trademark blast of his on the power play which beat Martin Brodeur in the first and held up as the winner.

On the down side, Jason Allison fractured a finger and Darcy Tucker may be suspended for ripping the helmet off Cam Janssen in a fight and twice hitting him in the face with it. John Pohl has been called up from the Marlies and may be in the lineup tonight as we face Sid the Kid for the first time.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
19-14-3
41 points
3rd in Northeast
2-1 Win vs. New Jersey
2-1 Win vs. Boston
4-1 Loss vs. Boston
B. McCabe - 43
J. Allison - 34
T. Kaberle - 27

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Canada 5, Finland 1

Canada HockeyIt was a battle of Maple Leaf goaltenders as our first round pick this year, Tuuka Rask, faced our first pick from 2004, Justin Pogge. I wanted Justin Pogge to get the shutout, but I didn't want Rask pummelled. In the end neither happened and I was happy.

Dustin Boyd scored two and Blake Comeau added a goal and an assist to pace the offence. We face Switzerland on Thursday.

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The Reality of Mortality

DeathLooking back at the past year, there was a great deal of the good life and a solid reminder that life, good or bad, always ends in death. As The Flaming Lips recently reminded us, everyone you know someday will die. It was hard to forget that in 2005.

Mother Nature's Brutal Force
It was still 2004 when I wrote this entry about the devastating tsunami that sent huge waves crashing into coastal resorts across south and east Asia. At that time they were predicting a death toll of 23,000. It soon became clear that figure was way low. As we began 2005, we were offering unprecedented relief while learning of unprecedented body counts.

As August came to a close, Katrina struck. On September 1, I wrote this entry about her brutal blow to New Orleans and the desperation and danger she left behind. Death was everywhere; floating in the streets, trapped in flooded buildings and even in the home stadium of the New Orleans Saints. If the flood didn't kill you, the contaminated water would, we were warned.

In October, with the massive death tolls from the tsunami and hurricane Katrina still being tallied, an earthquake hit South Asia. Thousands and thousands more would perish. Again, the footage from the disaster scene was horrifying. Mother Nature had made her point loud and clear. She could be as brutal as she is beautiful.

The Terri and John Paul Death Watch
I wrote about Terri Schiavo in March. Terri was in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. Terri's husband fought to have her feeding tube removed while her parents fought to keep it in place. The media frenzy surrounding the Terri Schiavo death watch was highly disturbing but it forced everyone to choose a side in the debate regarding ones right to die. Death was the lead item on the news and Terri wasn't the only reason.

Pope John Paul II had been quite ill and at the end of March there was much talk of his imminent demise. On April 1st I sat down to write an entry entitled "My Pope Is Dying" but instead wrote this. He would pass away the next day. The death watch concerning both Terri Shiavo and Pope John Paul II overwhelmed the month of March and continued the death theme started on Boxing Day 2004 with the tsunami. As I realized the fragility of life and mortality of us humans, I needed something to put this bleak smog of death into perspective. I needed something to remind me of the natural role death plays in the cycle of life and that it isn't to be feared. That would come, in of all things, a television show.

Six Feet Under's Finale
I had followed this series from the beginning and felt it was second to none when it comes to dramatic television. In August I sat down to witness the finale which I wrote about here. It was another great episode in another great season of this great show, but the final ten minutes brought everything home. We witnessed the death of every surviving main character. We saw how they died, who was at their funeral and how old they were when they shuffled off their mortal coil. It was highly interesting and most effective.

Watching the Fisher family age and die had the most calming effect on me. We're all going to die. You're going to die, I'm going to die, your best friend is going to die and your worst enemy is going to die. It's up to us to make the most of life and accept our inevitable demise and the inevitable death of our loved ones as an essential component of this exceptional ecosystem. If we're lucky, we get a lengthy and happy life as Claire did. If we're unlucky, our life is cut short a'la Nate.

In my lifetime, I don't remember a worse year of natural disasters. Throw in threats of an Avian flu pandemic, the Terri Schiavo media circus and the passing of the Pope and we have a year draped in black funeral attire. With the foul stench of death in the air, "Six Feet Under" put everything in perspective and eloquently presented the reality of mortality as a concept I can fully understand, effectively inducing catharsis.

We all need catharsis.

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumVincent Schiavelli was 57. He was the droopy-eyed character actor who appeared in scores of movies, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Ghost."

Farewell, Mr. Vargas.

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Viewing Conflict

HockeyThe Leafs host the Devils tonight at the ACC with the puck set to drop at 19:35 EST. Meanwhile, a half hour earlier in Vancouver, our World Junior Championship team takes on Finland. What's a hockey fan to do?

Some things are obvious. The juniors are getting a 30 minute head start on the Leafs, so they'll have my uninterrupted attention during this time. Then, there will be lots and lots of flipping. During commercials I'll bounce over to the other game and I'll do the same during intermissions, which shouldn't overlap. When both games are in progress, how things are going for my team will determine which one I watch. Otherwise, it's a night of flipping.

It's times like this I wish I had picture in picture.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI've posted four new pictures in Pictures. They're from yesterday afternoon whereas the first four were from yesterday morning.

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The Monday Shuffle

iTunesEvery Monday I shuffle my entire MP3 collection in iTunes and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten tunes I heard today with a personal story about one of them.

  1. Bewitched - Brutal Juice
  2. Last Kiss - Pearl Jam
  3. Been There Done That - Dr. Dre
  4. Fake - Korn
  5. Stick 2 The Script - Jay-Z
  6. Soldier - Neil Young
  7. Caring Is Creepy - The Shins
  8. Tears On My Pillow - Clem Snide
  9. Logical Song - Supertramp
  10. Awake - Godsmack

"Stubbs the Zombie" is a video game. I didn't know that when a friend told me to take a listen to the soundtrack. Video games, it seems, now have soundtracks.

The game takes place in 1959 and the soundtrack is a number of songs from the era performed some of today's coolest artists. Death Cab For Cutie, The Flaming Lips, The Raveonettes, The Walkmen, Rose Hill Drive and more. This stuff is solid gold for car rides with the kids. They love these sweet 50s ditties like "Tears On My Pillow", "My Boyfriend's Back", "Earth Angel" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and I dig it too. James is always asking for "Lollipop" from Ben Kweller.

Stubbs is a family friendly Zombie and welcome in my car anytime.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI've posted four new pictures in Pictures. It was an absolutely fantastic day. I'm sharing four shots from this morning and tomorrow I'll share four shots from this afternoon. I hope your day was as awesome as mine.

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Merry Christmas!

ChristmasFrom my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.

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My Quote of the Week

Opening Quotes"For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace."
      - Isaiah 9:5

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Merry Christmas to all your readers & especially you & your family Mike for keeping us all in touch with reality.

Keep it up.

      Thanks,
      Twins From Bolton

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DaySouth Park's The Spirit Of Christmas - Hosted by AG, this is the Trey Parker and Matt Stone short that led to the series. Jesus and Santa fight over Christmas and Brian Boitano saves the day. It's 6.8MB and full of very bad words. Not for the overly sensitive!

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The Guilty Pleasure of 2005

MusicI've never been ashamed to write about the guilty pleasures in music, film and television. These are the things you know you shouldn't like but you do. Like a grilled cheese sandwich on a lazy Saturday, they just feel good even if it's not necessarily good for you. To borrow Jill's line, "I feel happy and jovial, like I'd just come in from the cold and had a nice mug of hot chocolate. It's not necessarily nutritious or filling, but it's just what I wanted".

Looking back at the year of 2005 in music, there was a lot of awesome stuff I enjoyed. Next week I'll write a detailed entry about my ten favourite songs of the year and my ten favourite albums of the year, but this is about my favourite musical guilty pleasure of the year. The guilty pleasure of 2005 was Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone".

Kelly Clarkson, a former American Idol winner, is a pop star. How is it that I like "Since U Been Gone" so much? I shouldn't be enjoying this, should I? It starts out sweet, that pluck enters the fray at 0:34 and then, at 0:44, it kicks into an extra gear it shouldn't even have. At 1:32, this kick returns for another round and at 2:19 it dares to return once more for a flourish finish. Kelly gets what she wants and so do we. It's 3:09 of pure pop pleasure, 2005's best guilty pleasure.

There, I said it. I feel better already.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayNORAD Tracks Santa 2005 - Track Santa live as he travels around the world. Don't miss the live QuickTime stream. He's currently visiting Nepal, Himalayas.

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Random Sports Shorts

TennisHere are a few sports thoughts for a warm Christmas eve.

  • Vince Carter scored 51 last night for the Nets. That matches his career high, scored as a Raptor during a game I attended. I was really hoping the jerk would never hit 50 again.
  • It appears as if the Jays have acquired Troy Glaus in a trade with Arizona. The price is Miguel Batista and Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson. Although this will give us some more pop in the line up, I really didn't want to part with Hudson. The best second baseman this side of Robbie Alomar is undervalued by J.P. Ricciardi, in my humble opinion.
  • Prior to losing a close one in San Antonio last night, the Raptors had one three straight road games. The Raptors are road warriors with a respectable 5-9 record. Now if they could only win a second game at home...
  • A couple of days ago, I noticed a spike in terms of new visitors to this site. I checked the referral logs to see where all the new traffic was coming from and I quickly realized it was because Tony Dungy's son had been found dead. During this month I wrote about Tony Dungy when I hoped he'd go for an undefeated Colts season. I'm always writing about my son James, which was also the name of Dungy's son, and I started the month writing about the wicked CDLX tracks I was streaming via Myspace. The combination of the terms "Tony Dungy", "James" and "Myspace" had me highly ranked on a number of popular Google searches when word of this tragedy hit the news. It was not the kind of traffic I was looking for. This was news that really struck a nerve with me. My thoughts and prayers are with the Dungy's. It's every parents worst nightmare.
  • I forgot to put in my NFL picks this week, meaning I have all the home teams by default. Go home teams go!

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Maple Leafs 2, Boston Bruins 1

Go Leafs Go!A couple of power play goals gave Leaf fans a badly needed two points for Christmas. As the league takes a two night breather we find ourselves tied with Tampa Bay for seventh in the conference. Montreal has a point on us and a couple of games in hand.

If we finish eighth in this conference, and there's a good possibility exactly that happens, we'll likely face the Senators in round one. Neither Senator fans or Leaf fans want that. Trust me...

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
18-14-3
39 points
4th in Northeast
2-1 Win vs. Boston
4-1 Loss vs. Boston
9-6 Win vs. New York Islanders
B. McCabe - 42
J. Allison - 33
T. Kaberle - 27

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

A picture of Homer Jay Simpson"You must love this country more than I love a cold beer on a hot Christmas morning."

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayReuters Pictures of the Year 2005 - A nice showcase of Reuters pictures from 2005. On the bottom rung is a priceless photo of Courtney.

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Happy Festivus 2005!

Snow FlakeI want to wish each and every one of you a very happy Festivus. For those who don't know what Festivus is, there are three easy to follow steps:

  1. "Get the pole out of the crawl space". Or go out and buy one. Remember, it should be aluminum, due to the "very high strength-to-weight ratio". Remember, "it requires no decoration". Tinsel is "distracting".
  2. "The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances...At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year."
  3. After dinner, it is time for the "Feats of Strength". Remember, Festivus is not over until someone is pinned.

The origin of Festivus was explained nicely by Frank Costanza in the Seinfeld episode "The Strike". Here's his historic exchange with Cosmo Kramer.

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born . . . a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must've been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite television shows in 2005

  1. Six Feet Under
  2. Arrested Development
  3. Weeds
  4. Rescue Me
  5. Curb Your Enthusiasm

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Maple Leafs 1, Bruins 4

Go Leafs Go!When I watch a game with my brothers this season, we're 0-3. Should we make the playoffs this April, we may want to consider amending our Maple Leaf playoff game ritual. Our ritual may also explain why we haven't won a Stanley Cup once in my lifetime.

It was another frustrating affair for Leaf fans with our power play a dismal 0-9. We have the Bruins again tonight and if they're smart they'll play Leaf killer Hannu Toivonen one more. I'm asking Santa for a badly needed two points.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
17-14-3
37 points
4th in Northeast
4-1 Loss vs. Boston
9-6 Win vs. New York Islanders
8-2 Loss vs. Ottawa
B. McCabe - 40
J. Allison - 32
T. Kaberle - 25

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My MP3s Updated

CDI've added 18 new CDs to my MP3 collection. Here they are...

  • The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
  • Death From Above 1979 - You're a Woman, I'm a Machine Remixed
  • Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
  • Metric - Live It Out
  • System Of A Down - Hypnotize
  • Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
  • Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
  • The Tragically Hip - Yer Favourites (Discs 1 & 2)
  • Various Artists - Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack
  • Sarah Harmer - I'm A Mountain
  • Beck - Guerolito
  • Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
  • Damien Rice - O
  • Public Enemy - Power To The People And The Beats
  • City and Colour - Sometimes
  • Eminem - Curtain Call: The Hits
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve and Other Stories

That's 1137 complete albums, 16,763 songs and 45.1 days of tunage. Check it out.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI've posted four new pictures in Pictures. There are some great shots of James and Zander and what might just be the best picture of Michelle ever.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

I just wanted to agree with Jill. Love Actually is a very cute and funny Christmas movie and I have watched it quite a few times with my parents. Definitely worthy of at least 1 viewing a year.

      Kara

The "Love Actually" love-in continues...

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Deconstructing SLS14

SLSNow that SLS14 is in the bag, it's time to deconstruct the 19 tunes that made the final cut. How much of SLS14 is CanCon? How many artists are making their first appearance on SLS? Find out the answers to these questions and more below.

  • Canadian Content - 7 (Arcade Fire, Death From Above 1979, Metric, Custom, Stars, Matthew Good & Hot Hot Heat)
  • Making Their SLS Debut - 4 (Death From Above 1979, Death Cab For Cutie, Stars & Gorillaz)
  • Artists That Also Appeared On SLS13 - 10 (Arcade Fire, Audioslave, Custom, Foo Fighters, Franz Ferdinand, Hot Hot Heat, Metric, Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down & The White Stripes)
  • Providing a Female Voice - 2 (Metric & Stars)
  • Songs In My MP3 Collection - 16 (Everything except The Strokes and Custom which are not yet released and Disturbed.)
  • Longest Current SLS Streak - 4 (Franz Ferdinand)
  • Longest SLS Drought Ended - 6 (Matthew Good)

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Happy Birthday Ryan!

Happy BirthdayDon't talk to Ryan about Glen Healy. The mere sight of Healy upsets him. Many years ago, Ryan, always a fan of sports betting, played a big Pro-Line ticket and had it all sewn up except for one game. The mighty Pittsburgh Penguins had to beat the New York Islanders in the seventh game of their playoff series. Pittsburgh, led by Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis, had won two Stanley Cups in a row. They were the clear favourites and Ryan was going to win a lot of cash once they disposed of the Islanders. Money in the bank, right?

Glen Healy, who stood on his head the entire series, didn't let up and stole the game. Healy's exceptional performance killed the ticket for poor Ryan and he has never forgotten. Even the sound of bagpipes brings him back to that fateful day in Pittsburgh.

Today, my little brother Ryan turns 29 and I'd like to wish him all the best. Happy Birthday Ryan!

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

So the final squad of players have been selected for Turin. I wasn't really shocked about the selection except for - Todd Bertuzzi & Shane Doan (and I am a fan of Doan). I think someone like Shannahan should have been there, even Stall & Spezza were deserving of automatic choice. What about Brendan Morrison or Michael Ryder? I would have gone for those two or atleast one in the list. Anyway, I'm just a lone hockey fan from India - but I will be screaming for team Canada all the way. Oh and my Sens beat the Maple Leafs 8-2. 16 goals in two games against the same team? Nice!!

      Roshan

Morrison and Ryder are fine players, but Team Canada is so strong there isn't room for everyone. No Shanahan, no Kariya, no Brewer... no room! I keep having this wonderful day dream in which we're allowed to field two teams in the Olympics. Both would be sensational.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Your guest entry about the Top 10 Christmas Movies prompted me to reflect on my favourites and one that has become my new "must see" each holiday season is Love Actually. What I love the most about this movie is the feeling I get left with. I feel happy and jovial, like I'd just come in from the cold and had a nice mug of hot chocolate. It's not necessarily nutritious or filling, but it's just what I wanted.

      Jill

Checking out the "Love Actually" IMDB page, it does look view-worthy. I've added it to my list. By the way, that list of ten movies wasn't my list but another guest blog. I did, however, throw down my favourite five in 2003.

I'm in love with your description of the feeling it leaves you with. It nicely surmises how I feel when Les Nessman catches that ball. I can hear the violin now... you can do it Les! You can do it!

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SLS14 Unveiled

SLSIt is with great privilege and honour that I unveil to you the final song list for SLS14. For an SLS primer, go here and to see what appeared on SLS13, go here.

We listened to hours and hours of new rock before deciding upon these 19 tracks totalling more than 78 minutes. We've played the cards we were dealt and below is SLS14.

  1. Wake Up - Arcade Fire
  2. Hypnotize - System of a Down
  3. Romantic Rights - Death From Above 1979
  4. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab For Cutie
  5. Juice Box - The Strokes
  6. Monster Hospital - Metric
  7. Stricken - Disturbed
  8. Fuck Off - Custom
  9. Only - Nine Inch Nails
  10. The Denial Twist - The White Stripes
  11. DOA - Foo Fighters
  12. Doesn't Remind Me - Audioslave
  13. Ageless Beauty - Stars
  14. Girl - Beck
  15. Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day
  16. Do You Wanna - Franz Ferdinand
  17. Oh Be Joyful - Matthew Good
  18. Dare - Gorillaz
  19. Middle of Nowhere - Hot Hot Heat

I just updated The Complete SLS Database. Look for SLS15 in late June, 2006.

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Our Team

Hockey CanadaHere is the team that will represent us in Turin and my thoughts about each selection. The three preceded with a * are alternates.

Goaltenders

  • Brodeur, Martin - No brainer. He's the man.
  • Luongo, Roberto - I don't have a problem with this pick. I can't think of a clearly better choice.
  • Turco, Marty - Having a great season and deserves to be in Turin.

Defence

  • Blake, Rob - No brainer.
  • Foote, Adam - No brainer.
  • Jovanovski, Ed - I like this pick. I've always been a fan.
  • *McCabe, Bryan - We're an injury away from a Maple Leaf playing for Canada in this tournament. McCabe deserves his alternate status.
  • Niedermayer, Scott - No brainer.
  • Pronger, Chris - No brainer.
  • Redden, Wade - No brainer.
  • Regehr, Robyn - I'd bump Regehr for Dion Phaneuf, a far better choice. Yes folks, he's that good.

Forwards

  • Bertuzzi, Todd - I'm really on the fence about this one. I love his style of play but he's having a so-so season and he got off easy for essentially ending Steve Moore's career. I'd have left Bertuzzi off the list and would have added fellow Michael Power alumni Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan belongs in Turin.
  • Doan, Shane - There's no way Doan makes this team if Gretzky's not involved. The Olympic ice was made for Paul Kariya yet he's not on this team. Both Staal and Spezza deserve the ice time over Doan.
  • Draper, Kris - There's nobody better in this role.
  • Gagné, Simon - He was good in Salt Lake City and he's having a tremendous year. No brainer.
  • Heatley, Dany - With the year Heatley's having, this was also an easy choice. I just wish we could put him on a line with Spezza.
  • Iginla, Jarome - No brainer.
  • Lecavalier, Vincent - No brainer.
  • Nash, Rick - No brainer... can't wait to see him with Thornton again.
  • Richards, Brad - Richards is having a good season which helped him get on this team, but I'm not sure I'd go with him over Patrick Marleau. I know I wouldn't pick him over Brendan Shanahan.
  • Sakic, Joe - Next to Brodeur, the biggest no-brainer of them all.
  • Smyth, Ryan - Close to a no-brainer... I like Smyth playing for Canada.
  • *Spezza, Jason - I'd have put him on the actual team instead of making him an alternate.
  • *Staal, Eric - I'd have put him on the actual team instead of making him an alternate.
  • St-Louis, Martin - I can't think of a better choice. Can you?
  • Thornton, Joe - No brainer.

In conclusion, we have another amazing team here. It will be a joy to watch these guys in February. If I had my druthers, I'd boot Regehr and put Phaneuf in his place. I'd also bump Spezza and Staal up and add Shanahan while leaving Doan off the team and making Bertuzzi and Richards the alternates. Who am I to second guess The Great One?

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Justin Pogge Between the Pipes

Hockey CanadaToday is a big day for fans of Canadian hockey. At 16:30 EST we're going to learn who will be representing us in Turin. We're also only five days away from our Junior team's opening game against Finland in the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championship.

I'm a huge fan of this tournament and this year the man between the pipes is none other than Justin Pogge, the Maple Leafs' first pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. With Bryan McCabe likely on the wrong side of the bubble it's sweet having a little blue and white representation on a national team.

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Weekly MP3

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

The Pogues - Fairytale of New York
Today I'm sharing my favourite Christmas song. It's not about Santa Claus, joy or Jesus. Enjoy The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl and "Fairytale of New York".

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We Need A Ruling

SLSThe SLS charter is clear, only one song per artist per edition. If we like "The Denial Twist" for SLS14, which we do, then "My Doorbell" has to be left on the cutting room floor. That's the rule. Another rule is that a song may only appear on one edition of SLS. We may love System of a Down's "Hypnotize", but once it appears on SLS14 it can't also appear on SLS15. Duh.

Death From Above 1979's "Romantic Rights" is a virtual guarantee to make SLS14 but we're also loving the "Romantic Rights" remixes on You're a Woman, I'm a Machine Remixed. There's the Phones Lovers remix, the Erol Alkan Love From Below Re-edit, the Marczech Makuziak remix and the Dahlback remix. They're all sensational, but the Phones Lovers remix could easily have the legs to appear on SLS15. What's uncertain at this point is whether this is permitted.

Do remixes counts as a new song and are they disqualified because the original appeared on a previous edition of SLS? Covers of songs are treated as new songs, but they're always from a different artist. These remixes of "Romantic Rights" are still Death From Above 1979.

We need a ruling!

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Great New CanCon

CanadaI'm so damn proud of the new music I hear coming from this country. This week I've been heavily spinning the tracks from The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema, Metric's Live It Out and Broken Social Scene's Broken Social Scene. All three albums are fantastic. They're a joy to listen to and they're Canadian.

It's a great time for CanCon. My favourite disc all year has been 2004's Funeral from Arcade Fire. Throw in personal favourites from Feist, Hot Hot Heat and Stars and we're really rockin'. No less than seven Canadian tracks will be appearing on SLS14, due to launch this week.

The Maple Music Revolution continues...

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Maple Leafs 9, Islanders 6

Go Leafs Go!Ed Belfour finally has #448 in his win column putting him alone in second place on the all-time list. Of course, it's only a matter of time before Martin Brodeur blows him out of the water, but this is still quite the accomplishment.

Trailing 4-2 in the first, I was feeling queasy. We were blown out Saturday night and wins have been hard to come by lately. We needed two points against the Islanders, one of the teams trying to steal our 8th place slot on the Eastern Conference ledger. That's when it started. In a wild game, the Leafs scored six straight and hung on to beat New York by a field goal.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
17-13-3
37 points
4th in Northeast
9-6 Win vs. New York Islanders
8-2 Loss vs. Ottawa
3-2 Win vs. Anaheim
B. McCabe - 40
J. Allison - 32
T. Kaberle - 25

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumPhyllis Gretzky was 64. She was the mother of The Great One who Wayne described as the glue that held her family together.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Top 10 Christmas movies:

  1. Once Upon a Christmas - a heart wrenching story of family life. By far the best.
  2. Home Alone 1
  3. The Santa Clause - with Tim Allen
  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the original
  5. Miracle on 34th Street - the original
  6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - with Burl Ives
  7. A Chipmunks Christmas - awesome cartoon
  8. A Charlie Brown's Christmas - one of my son's 1st plays at school - he was Snoopy
  9. Nightmare Before Christmas
  10. A Christmas Story - still waiting for my BB gun.

Some of these haven't been on TV yet this year - but # 1 is on this Friday night. To all a good night.

      twins from bolton

Everything on your list that I've seen I like. I haven't seen #1, #3 or #9.

My five favourite Christmas specials from December 2003 really haven't changed.

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More Right Wing Yankee Rubbish

Thumbs DownTucker Carlson is experiencing another bout of verbal diarrhea. Only a year ago he ridiculed this fine nation in a typically immature fashion and just last week he made the following statements.

Anybody with any ambition at all, or intelligence, has left Canada and is now living in New York. Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada.

Jon Stewart was right. This guy is a dick.

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Thriller

LeafsTonight's game is thrilling. The action is awesome and the good guys have the 6-4 lead half way through the game. I'm spending more time on my feet than on my seat.

Keep it up boys! Help me forget Saturday night.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayDownload The Kleptones' A Night at the Hip-Hopera - Below this entry you'll find me singing the praises of The Kleptones' A Night at the Hip-Hopera. Why don't you download the 23 MP3s and discover this finest form of bastard pop for yourself.

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The Monday Shuffle

iTunesEvery Monday I shuffle my entire MP3 collection in iTunes and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten tunes I heard today with a personal story about one of them.

  1. My Life - Billy Joel
  2. Green Onions - Booker T. & the M.G.'s
  3. Down Another Day - Limp Bizkit
  4. Young Offender - New Order
  5. Antiquity - Spot
  6. Slaves & Bulldozers - Soundgarden
  7. Future - Leonard Cohen
  8. It Takes Time To Build - Beastie Boys
  9. Really Rappin' Something - The Kleptones
  10. Silver Jet - The Tragically Hip

In 2004 I downloaded a collection of MP3s from The Kleptones entitled A Night at the Hip-Hopera. It's a mash-up of Queen songs with a number of rap songs and movie sound bites. They call it bastard pop, but when it's done right, I call it sweetness.

For over a year I've been returning to A Night at the Hip-Hopera just as I return to other favourites in my collection. The fact it's essentially an internet-only bootleg matters not, it's tremendous art and a brilliant blend of a good rock band with just the right amount of flavouring. All 23 tracks have found a permanent home on my iRiver. The track I heard today, "Really Rappin' Something", actually appears on their follow-up collection, From Detroit to J.A., also really good.

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An Under Appreciated Modern Christmas Classic

SantaFor the second Christmas season in a row, I spent some time with "Bad Santa". Sure, I watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with the kids, but "Bad Santa" was for Daddy. It, in my humble opinion, is a modern Christmas classic that deserves to be revisited each holiday season.

It has all the elements of a feel-good story. Willie had a rotten childhood and has become an absolutely miserable adult.who periodically attempts suicide and lives off stolen money. He's rude, he's obnoxious and he's a department store Santa. There's no hope for Willie until he meets the kid. In brilliant Grinch-like fashion, it's eventually revealed that even Willie has a heart.

"Bad Santa" is under appreciated. Perhaps people aren't willing to accept a holiday feel-good movie with 170 instances of the F-word and 74 uses of the S-word. Maybe people don't understand there can be a touching holiday movie that isn't suitable for children, I know I couldn't watch until James was a safe distance from the television. It's as crude as can be imagined but lovingly guided by Terry Zwigoff to a rewarding holiday pay-off.

I still love "A Charlie Brown Christmas", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "A Christmas Story" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", but when the kids are asleep, I'm sure to save 98 minutes for Willie.

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Why He's The Great One

HockeyIn his illustrious NHL career, The Great Wayne Gretzky scored 894 goals and added 1963 assists for a total of 2857 points. There is nobody like him. He's the greatest player ever to play the sport.

I've loved him for as long as I can remember. I shared some of my appreciation for Wayne in an earlier entry. In addition to dominating the NHL record book, he's built two championship teams for this country including the gold medal winning squad in Salt Lake City. He's been a tremendous ambassador for the sport and a true professional in every aspect of his life. Even with his personal life, The Great One always does the right thing.

He has taken an indefinite leave as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes and has joined his sister Kim, and brothers Brent, Glen and Keith in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. His beloved mother, Phyllis, has lung cancer. He has his Coyotes at 16-14-2 and as executive director of Team Canada he was expected to announce our Olympic roster on Wednesday, but none of that matters. His mother is seriously ill and he knows where he belongs.

Even when it comes to priorities, there's no one better than my hero, The Great Wayne Gretzky.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI've posted four new pictures in Pictures. In anticipation of Ryan's big birthday bash and the arrival of St. Nick I'm wiping clean my xD cards.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayPowers of Ten - A film made for IBM in 1977 to explore the effects or adding a zero.

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Maple Leafs 2, Ottawa Senators 8

Go Leafs Go!I've previously declared myself a tweener. We tweeners are those people who are realistic and objective about their team. We stick with our team no matter how it's doing but we have a sense of what's really going on.

The tweener in me realizes the Leafs are a far worse team right now than the Sens. Although last time was worse, this was pretty bad. When Mariusz Czerkawski is your best player, you know you're in trouble. We're clinging to 8th in the east with a bunch of teams knocking on the door. Making the playoffs is going to be a serious challenge.

Diehards have it easy. They put the blinders on and and turn chicken shit into chicken salad. Unfortunately, this ain't no salad.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
16-13-3
35 points
4th in Northeast
8-2 Loss vs. Ottawa
3-2 Win vs. Anaheim
2-1 Loss vs. Dallas
B. McCabe - 40
J. Allison - 30
T. Kaberle - 23

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My Quote of the Week

Opening Quotes"I've been to Canada, and I've always gotten the impression that I could take the country over in about two days."
      - Jon Stewart

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AFI TV Programs of the Year

TVIn addition to listing their official selections for movies of the year, AFI also lists their TV programs of the year. I just wrote about only seeing one of their ten movies but I can also cop to watching but one of their ten television programs.

The one I did watch last season is "Rescue Me". I'm shocked that "Six Feet Under" didn't make their list and surprised that the very good "Weeds" was also omitted. Here's their list in its entirety:

  • 24
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Deadwood
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • House
  • Lost
  • Rescue Me
  • Sleeper Cell
  • Sometimes In April
  • Veronica Mars

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The Kids and Christmas

ChristmasIn the years between being a kid and having kids of my own, the Christmas season was missing something. Not being a particularly religious guy, Christmas requires a child-like innocence and excitement to elevate it from a couple of days off to something magic.

Although it's only December 17, this is already the best Christmas ever, and it's all because of James and Michelle. James is totally into it this year. He practically decorated the tree by his lonesome and he's decorating Grandma's tree today. Every day he excitedly visits our Advent calendar as he counts down the days until Santa's visit. Every morning he demands the lights on the Christmas tree be lit immediately and they can't be turned off until he's asleep. He's deliriously happy and that makes me deliriously happy.

Michelle isn't really sure what's going on, but she loves the new addition to our living room and she senses something exciting in the air. Like James at that age, she hasn't quite grasped the concept that the guy with white hair and a beard who says "Ho, Ho, Ho" is bringing her toys and such for Christmas. She's feeding off of James' delirium and doesn't care why.

If you're experiencing the doldrums this season, find yourself a kid and tap into their spirit. It's awfully infectious and unbelievably satisfying.

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AFI Movies of the Year

MoviesI just read the AFI Movies of the Year Official Selections. I've seen one movie on their list. In my defense, I'm notoriously late getting to movies because I see so few in theaters and many of these are awfully fresh. A number of the movies below are on my "to see" list, but I'm so behind I still have to get to "Million Dollar Baby".

For the record, one one I've seen is "Crash" and I loved it. Here's their list in its entirety:

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Capote
  • Crash
  • The 40 Year-Old Virgin
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • A History of Violence
  • King Kong
  • Munich
  • The Squid and the Whale
  • Syriana

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Weekly MP3

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

The Christmas Massacre of Charlie Brown - DJ John
Wait a minute. Today is Saturday, not Wednesday. Last Wednesday I shared "O Tannenbaum" from the Vince Guaraldi Trio, a holiday favourite from "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Next Wednesday I'll be sharing my favourite Christmas song. Today, I'm linking to a great mash-up of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" from DJ John entitled "The Christmas Massacre of Charlie Brown".

Bonus!

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

A picture of Homer Jay Simpson"I'm not a bath man myself. More of a cologne man."

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Dubya On His iPod

USAWanna hear what Dubya has to say about his iPod? He chatted briefly with Fox News anchor Brit Hume about it after Hume asked him what was on his iPod these days. Here's the transcript.

Bush : Beach Boys, Beatles, let's see, Alan Jackson, Alan Jackson, Alejandro, Alison Krauss, the Angels, the Archies, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, Dan McLean. Remember him?
Hume: Don McLean.
Bush: I mean, Don McLean.
Hume: Does "American Pie," right?
Bush: Great song.
Hume: Yes, yes, great song.
Unidentified male: ...which ones do you play?
Bush: All of these. I put it on shuffle. Dwight Yoakam. I've got the Shuffle, the, what is it called? The little.
Hume: Shuffle.
Bush: It looks like.
Hume: The Shuffle. That is the name of one of the models.
Bush: Yes, the Shuffle.
Hume: Called the Shuffle.
Bush: Lightweight, and crank it on, and you shuffle the Shuffle.
Hume: So you - it plays...
Bush: Put it in my pocket, got the ear things on.
Hume: So it plays them in a random order.
Bush: Yes.
Hume: So you don't know what you're going to going to get.
Bush: No.
Hume: But you know -
Bush: And if you don't like it, you have got your little advance button. It's pretty high-tech stuff.
Hume: ...be good to have one of those at home, wouldn't it?
Bush: Oh?
Hume: Yes, hit the button and whatever it is that's in your head - gone.
Bush: ...it's a bad day, just say, get out of here.
Hume: Well, that probably is pretty...
Bush: That works, too. (Laughter)
Hume: Yes, right.

Solid gold. Last night on Larry King Bill Maher was joking about Dubya's two terms, begging America to stop voting for the guy they'd want to drink with. He pointed out that Al Gore and John Kerry actually read things and are aware of things in the world outside their backyards. He thought it was probably a good thing that the President be aware of things and a reader and just because he seems like a folksy fun guy you might want to hang with doesn't mean he'll make a good President.

Again, solid gold.

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite Winter songs

  1. Winterlong - Neil Young
  2. A Hazy Shade Of Winter - Simon & Garfunkel
  3. Song For A Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan
  4. Winter Time - The Steve Miller Band
  5. Winter Song - Crash Test Dummies

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJohn Spencer was 58. He played Leo McGarry on "The West Wing" and Tommy Mullaney on "L.A. Law".

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayHoward Stern Don't Bleeping Miss This - In 44 minutes Yahoo! is covering the Howard Stern festivities on the streets of New York as he concludes his career on terrestrial radio.

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Setting Up The Storm Centre

SnowflakeYou know they're busy setting up the Storm Centre at 680News in anticipation of tonight's storm. Earlier today they were predicting up to 30 cm but now I see they've downgraded it to 5-10 cm. Hell, if they thought we were getting 2 cm they'd be in full Storm Centre swing.

Checking the 680News bio page there's no sign of Scott Simpson. Perhaps he's moved on to greener pastures or greater environmental disasters, but it doesn't appear as if he'll be manning that desk. When he was the Storm Centre guy, he was nice enough to write an email in which he totally dished the dirt. Here's an excerpt from that August 2004 entry.

Hey! I'm the Storm Centre guy, Scott Simpson. (see the 680news.com bio page for more.)

Setting up the storm centre basically entails somebody telling me, "Simpson, you're on standby for Storm Centre tomorrow." That means I try to get to bed early, but end up tossing and turning until 4:15am when I call the newsroom ... I say, "It's not even snowing. The Weather Network says we're only getting 5cm." They say "Well, it's hit Chicago and they've cancelled a ton of flights. Come on in, you're our man."

That's about it. I get in, I see if any schools are closed, I find out what's up at the airport, maybe call Gary Welsh from Toronto Transportation to see what gear they're sending out, load up the admin side of the web site, and climb on the news wheel ... There's no time to run back and forth into and out of the control room, so I sit at a desk (the proverbial "Storm Centre" which, internally, is dialed up as CHFINEWS, even though they haven't done CHFI news from the newsroom in ... erm ... well, I don't think they ever did. Legacy tech, natch.) and broadcast from there, getting up now and then for fluid management.

So I sit there at the desk, and every half hour they throw to me, I read a sponsor or two, and try to tell it like it is .... sometimes it's a brain-bending five-hour whirlwind of bus cancellations and school closures (how many Montessori schools *are* there in the GTA, and why can't they get their kids to class when it snows?!) though, thankfully, most days I end up saying "Well, there's no big storm here ... but if you're travelling by air, you're screwed." I would rather be the voice of "everything's fine, get out and live your lives!" than the voice of doom and gloom when there's nothing to freak out about. I don't want to get a reputation as Chicken Little. If anything, I downplay the severity of what's going on out of the fact that I don't drive.

I saw Bowling For Columbine and some other stuff that has convinced me that keeping listeners "in a state of fear" is a terrible thing to do. I also don't like "neighbourhoods in a state of shock" or "outraged residents" or such things. I have two rules: tell the truth, and never be boring. They rarely clash, because the truth well told is usually a really interesting story.

Thanks for listening! I'm trying to enjoy the summer, 'cuz there's no Storm Centre.

Simpson, you're on standby for Storm Centre tomorrow... wherever you are.

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My Toronto Morning Radio History

RadioListening to the second last live broadcast of Howard Stern's radio show on WBUF this morning I started thinking about my Toronto morning radio history. I've been with Howard for about eight years but before that I spent time with several other morning shows in Toronto. Here's a brief recount of where I've been.

Tom Rivers on 680 CFTR - As a young kid going to primary school my clock radio was set for 680 CFTR which played top 40 music. Tom Rivers was the morning man and for years he entertained me before I headed off to St. Pius X.

Jesse and Gene on Q107 - As I got a little older and became a pre-teen, my tastes changed from top 40 to a harder rock sound. Jesse and Gene hosted the Q Morning Zoo and I listened to their program for a while until they left Q107 for AM radio.

Brother Jake Edwards on Q107 - When Jesse and Gene left Q107 I stayed put for their new morning guy Brother Jake Edwards. Brother Jake was great and introduced me to a character that would entertain me for many mornings, The Champ. I wrote about The Champ here.

Humble and Fred on CFNY Edge 102 - In the early 90s, my tastes in music changed again and I left Q107 for CFNY. Humble and Fred would be my morning show of choice for many years afterwards, always entertaining with their banter and always playing the best music on Toronto radio. I wrote about Humble and Fred here and here.

Howard Stern on Q107 and WBUF - Tomorrow ends the Howard Stern era for me. It's been a sweet ride. I've written about Howard here, here, here, here, here, and here.

???? - What's the next chapter of my Toronto morning radio history going to look like? There's always the tunes on CFNY Edge 102, but the hosts gab way too much and are as annoying as hell. Do we really need to have another useless unfunny conversation with Eduardo? There's Metro Morning on CBC, but that can be dry if it's not a topic I'm into. I can spend ten minutes or so at the Fan590 for a sports update and discussion with a hockey insider, but that's not a permanent solution to my problem.

I'll probably replace Howard with my iRiver H10.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

The joke's been on us since we first elected these corrupt promise breakers in 1993.

      Teeder

You're right Teeder, the joke has been on us for a while. The joke's on us because we all despise the corruption that has been unveiled before our eyes and we're still going to vote that party into government. This so-called democracy of ours is also a joke as there really is no alternative.

So many jokes and so few laughs.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

Dubya & Steven Harper a marriage made in heaven - too bad Mr. Harper doesn't accept these type of marriages. What a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Anonymous

This is the election nobody wanted. We're all extremely busy at this time of year with seasonal festivities and battling Mother Nature. The result of this election will be eerily similar to the results of the last federal election with Paul Martin's Liberal Party winning a minority government.

The joke's on us.

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Arresting Developments?

TVWatching "Arrested Development" these days is bitter sweet. It's sweet because it's so damn funny and smart but it's bitter because I know the end is near. Or is it?

There's word that Showtime is in talks to pick up the comedy. Nothing's certain but just knowing they're talking about it gives me hope. If Showtime picks it up there will be less FCC restrictions and a Canadian network like Showcase or TMN is likely to pick it up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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Gift From The Washington Times?

NewspaperPatrick Basham's commentary in The Washington Times from earlier this month is entitled "Gift From Canada?" and it's all about Stephen Harper putting a big ol' smile on Dubya's face. According to Basham, Harper may be Canada's Christmas gift to Bush. Here are some excerpts from the article.

Why does President Bush hope Christmas comes a little late this year? Because on Jan. 23, Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the Western world. Free-market economist Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, is pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative. Move over Tony Blair: If elected, Mr. Harper will quickly become Mr. Bush's new best friend internationally and the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader.

Though still a young man in political terms, Stephen Harper may not receive a better opportunity to gain power and to steer Canada in a more conservative direction. If he and his fellow Conservatives can seize this opportunity to recast the policy debate, it will reveal a great deal about the evolving nature of Canadian political culture.

A Harper victory may prove to be the exception to the international rule -- a rare foreign event that manages to put a smile on President George W. Bush's face.

If you ask me, Basham's "Gift From Canada" is actually a gift to the Liberal Party from The Washington Times. The verbal duel this week between David Wilkins and Paul Martin is further proof that being perceived as America's bedfellow negatively impacts a party's popularity at home in Canada. Does the average Canadian want to put a smile on Dubya's face by giving him a gift? No. Does the average Canadian want a "pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative" leader? No. Do we really want our Prime Minister to become "Mr. Bush's new best friend and poster boy for his ideal foreign leader?" Absolutely not.

We already fear Harper's hidden agenda and conservative rhetoric, Basham simply reminds us of what we could be in store for. If a vote for this guy is a vote for Dubya, Martin just received everything on his Christmas wish list and more.

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Weekly MP3

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

Vince Guaraldi Trio - O Tannenbaum
I love "A Charlie Brown Christmas". It's a great special with an amazing soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. This is one of my favourite tracks from the album that always gets me in the spirit.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayGolden Globes 2006: The nominations - The nominations for the 2006 Golden Globe Awards for film and TV productions have been announced in Hollywood. Here are the nominees in selected categories.

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumStanley Tookie Williams was 51. He was the Crips gang co-founder whose case stirred a national debate about capital punishment versus the possibility of redemption. He became an anti-gang activist while on California's Death Row, renouncing his gang affiliation, apologizing for the Crips' founding, and co-authoring books and beginning programs to prevent youth from joining gangs.

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Maple Leafs 3, Mighty Ducks 2

Go Leafs Go!That was a much better effort last night and the Leafs were rewarded with a badly needed two points. Mikael Tellqvist got the start and played well, meaning Ed Belfour stays stuck at 447 victories, tied with Terry Sawchuk for second on the all-time list.

We don't play again until Saturday night when we visit Ottawa. We all remember what happened last time we faced the Sens. History never repeats, I tell myself before I go to sleep.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
16-12-3
35 points
Tied for 3rd in Northeast
3-2 Win vs. Anaheim
2-1 Loss vs. Dallas
2-1 Loss vs. Los Angeles
B. McCabe - 38
J. Allison - 30
T. Kaberle - 23

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The Monday Shuffle

iTunesEvery Monday I shuffle my entire MP3 collection in iTunes and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten tunes I heard today with a personal story about one of them.

  1. Open Your Eyes - Goldfinger
  2. The Beating Of A High School Bus Driver - Adam Sandler
  3. Bull In The Heather - Sonic Youth
  4. Gun Control - Ian Hunter
  5. Broken Gun - Beck
  6. A Minute To Pray - Scarface
  7. Don't Wake Daddy - The Tragically Hip
  8. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown - Frank Sinatra
  9. How To Kill A Radio Consultant (The DJ Chuck Chillout Mega Murder Boom) - Public Enemy
  10. Sing - Travis

I'm looking forward to the weekends when I can tell James and Michelle "Don't Wake Daddy". Since James came around almost four years ago, Taryn and I have been following a rather fair and simple system. We each get one day during the weekend when we can sleep in.

James is almost four, so he's starting to sleep in himself until about 09:00. Michelle, however, is still waking up around 07:30 and that means somebody has to get up with her. When she's of an age when she doesn't need adult supervision the moment she gets out of bed, I'll be quoting The Hip. "You can drop the bomb that restores the calm then promises rebirth. Just don't wake daddy."

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

And a little story from me that is only vaguely related to your post. I'm a Canadian living in Manchester UK and I'm often asked "What part of America are you from?" My standard response "The Canadian part". Cute, eh?

      Nancy

Very cute.

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The Canadian Flag On Your Back Pack

CanadaWhen Americans travel in Europe, do they really stitch a Canadian flag into their back pack and pose as Canucks? I've often heard about this and yesterday on "The Simpsons" Lisa did just that before their trip to Italy. Is this practice merely an urban legend or does it actually happen?

A little Googling proves this is very common advice given to Americans who are worried they'll be mistreated because they're American. Many give this advice and speak of people they know who did this with much success, but there are few first hand reports from people who have done this. Now that the sewing of a Canadian flag on one's back pack has been immortalized by the Simpsons, I want proof that people actually do it and I want to know if it actually makes a difference.

During the Dubya years, you'd think this would be commonplace.

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Go For It

NFLThe Indianapolis Colts are 13-0. They've also secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They now face a decision that's the water cooler talk across this continent this morning. Do they rest their stars in preparation for the playoffs or do they play to match the 1972 Miami Dolphins who are the only undefeated, untied championship team in NFL history.

I've given this a lot of thought and I've decided the Colts should do whatever it takes to go 19-0 this year. I didn't immediately arrive at this conclusion and the route I took to get there is sort of interesting. At first, I adamantly believed they should rest their stars because with home field clinched throughout the playoffs the next game that matters is three games away. Winning the Super Bowl is the primary goal and the only goal that matters. Why risk injuries or having tired first stringers for the opening round?

Without a strong emotional tie to the Colts, it's easy to think this way. Then, I thought about the passionate Colts fan. What if I had fire in my belly for the Colts the way I do for the Leafs or Jays? I'd want them to go for 19-0. I'd want them to match the '72 Dolphins and reach that rare, immortal plateau. Opportunities like this come so rarely in the NFL it would be a damn shame to sit Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison et al. Even if the Colts win the Super Bowl having finished the regular season 15-1 because they didn't put their A team out there people will wonder forever "what if?".

I hope Tony Dungy goes for it. How often does NFL immortality knock at your door? It's worth the gamble, and if Manning blows out his knee in the last game of the season going for 16-0, Colts fans will be forgiving. They know the risks...

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My 2005 Christmas Playlist

ChristmasLast December I unveiled my definitive Christmas mix. This year I created a 247 song Christmas playlist and quickly got tired of skipping over the songs I didn't feel like hearing. My solution to this problem was to create a second Christmas playlist consisting only of the tunes I feel like shuffling this season. The result is my 2005 Christmas playlist, 37 songs strong.

Interestingly enough, there are a number of songs that appeared on my 2004 list but didn't make my 2005 list, even though this season's list is 15 songs longer. Here are the 37 songs I've chosen...

  • Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
  • Jingle Bells - Barenaked Ladies
  • Green Christmas - Barenaked Ladies
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings - Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan
  • I'll Be Home For Christmas - Bing Crosby
  • White Christmas - Bing Crosby
  • You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Boris Karloff
  • Mary Had A Baby - Bruce Cockburn
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Coldplay
  • The First Noel - Crash Test Dummies
  • Peace On Earth & Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie & Bing Crosby
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin
  • Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern) - Drunken Boat
  • Christmas at the Zoo - The Flaming Lips
  • Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over - Jack White
  • Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band With The Harlem Community Choir
  • O Holy Night - John McDermott
  • Zat You Santa Claus? - Louis Armstrong
  • Christmas Night In Harlem - Louis Armstrong
  • The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Nat King Cole
  • Merry Christmas Baby - Otis Redding
  • Let Me Sleep - Pearl Jam
  • Fairytale of New York - The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - The Pretenders
  • 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
  • Thank God It's Christmas - Queen
  • Baby It's Cold Outside - Ray Charles with Betty Carter
  • Ave Maria - Sarah Brightman
  • Song For A Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - U2
  • O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Welcome Christmas - The Whos of Whoville

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Finally!

ShowereTravelerGear is selling an erasable shower tablet. "Record all your big shower-induced thoughts on our reuseable note tablet. Waterproof crayons (included) capture the flow of your creative ideas, to-do lists, and more for easy transport to and from the bathroom. Complete with crayon caddy and suction cup mounts."

Finally, something to prevent all my shower ideas from flowing down the drain. What an age we live in!

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Pulp Fiction Flaw

Movies"Pulp Fiction" is my favourite movie of all time. It's a multi-layered gem of a flick with great dialogue, a fantastic editing style and one memorable scene after another.

One of my favourite scenes is when Jules and Vincent pay a visit to Marvin, Roger and Brett. Jules and Vincent are unaware there's a fourth guy in the apartment until he jumps out of the bathroom emptying his gun in Jules and Vincent's direction. The bullets miss them, leading later to Jules' moment of clarity when he claims he "felt God's touch, God got involved". It's an almost perfect scene. Almost...

The bullets are actually in the wall before that fourth guy shoots. Here's a screen cap to prove it. It's a sloppy director's error but it's a significant one. The soul of this movie, in my humble opinion, is Jules feeling God's touch. If the bullet holes Jules sees behind him are not from the shooter, Jules doesn't decide to quit and walk the earth and Honey Bunny and Yolanda are goners.

I choose to believe that God got involved.

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Sized By Population

CanadaCanada is the second largest country in the world after Russia. We've got all this space but only 30 million or so people. There's a lot of room to spare.

Have you ever wondered what a map of the world would look like if all countries were sized by population? Here's such a map. We get pretty small in a hurry and countries like China and India swell to massive sizes. From this vantage point, Canada is but a miniscule speck of dust in a mighty dustbowl of a planet.

Just a speck, but a speck to be proud of.

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Are We There Yet?

A Movie ReelAre We There Yet?: 2 out of 10.

Following a frustrating Leafs loss we decided to watch "Are We There Yet?". I was a big Ice Cube fan from his days with NWA and as a solo artist and I've never forgotten his role in "Boyz n the Hood". How bad could "Are We There Yet?" be?

Don't see this film. We weren't even able to survive the 95 minutes. It's nauseatingly sanitized crud that is far too dumb for anyone over the age of.... hmmmm... I'll say five, that it's probably safer to say four. There are no redeeming qualities. Even the kids are obnoxious and hateful. On Ice Cube's excellent "The Wrong Nigga To Fuck With" from his 1991 album Death Certificate he makes the following statement: "I'm platinum bitch and I didn't have to sell out. Fuck you Ice Cube, that's what the people say". Cube, ya sold out big time and the people are indeed saying "fuck you Ice Cube".

We can handle the crossover to family-friendly Bill Cosby style, it's the total crap we can't stand.

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Maple Leafs 1, Stars 2

Go Leafs Go!There have been many frustrating losses of late, but none more frustrating than the one last night. I spewed a string of expletives at the poor television and joined the crowd at the ACC in booing our boys in blue. The Leafs went 0-for-7 on the power play and are 1-for-16 their past two games. We've lost three straight and four of five.

In a lackluster effort there were few positives. Mats Sundin's goal in the third seemed to provide a spark and this was followed by an awesome Carlo Colaiacovo hit on Bill Guerin, but the end result was a well deserved loss. We're clinging to the eight and final playoff spot in the East.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-12-3
33 points
4th in Northeast
2-1 Loss vs. Dallas
2-1 Loss vs. Los Angeles
5-4 Loss vs. San Jose
B. McCabe - 36
J. Allison - 28
J. O'Neill - 22

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My Quote of the Week

Opening Quotes"Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something."
      - Thomas Edison

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayA Bunch Of Intros Mashed Up - I'm enjoying this. It's an MP3 of a mash-up that's essentially a whole bunch of well known song intros mixed together.

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumRichard Pryor was 65. He was the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off.

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New Pictures

New PicturesI've posted four new pictures in Pictures. We put up the Christmas tree today and a couple are of James managing the decorations. The other two are a couple of cuties of Michelle taken over the past week.

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Dissecting Jesus of Suburbia

MusicIt looks as if Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia", the second track from their 2004 American Idiot release, will appear on SLS14. At 9:08 it will be the longest song in the history of SLS.

It's an epic with several twists and turns. In the spirit of Meatloaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" it's many songs in one. Let's dissect "Jesus of Suburbia" in the hopes that we can learn more about this intriguing specimen.

0:00 - 1:51
This is the first song within the song, almost two minutes of a nice little Green Day ditty. Religious connotations abound, the son of rage and love shares his sins and while noting that no one ever died for his sins in hell. This is part one of "Jesus of Suburbia".

1:51 - 3:41
Still poppy and catchy as hell, things slow down a bit for part two of "Jesus of Suburbia". This part actually reminds me of Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69"...."Those were the best days of my life!". This part is all about the city of the damned, "lost children with dirty faces".

3:41 - 5:20
Things speed up for part three of "Jesus of Suburbia", perhaps my favourite part of all. It's the punkiest part and full of apathy. "I don't care" is echoed throughout bookending a rant that kicks off with the brilliant observation "everyone is so full of shit, born and raised by hypocrites".

5:20 - 6:30
There's little wonder I haven't got bored of this song, even though I've been hearing it for a year. 5:20 into it we start our fourth song in the epic, and it's another great tune. Slow, sweet as hell and almost Beach Boys like with the soft "oooh"ing and that bell. "Are we demented or am I disturbed? The space that's in between insane and insecure." The protagonist has shared his story and now asks this immortal question.

6:30 - 9:08
You could extract this final 2:38 and release it as a stand-alone single. Hell, with a little stretching "Jesus of Suburbia" could easily be five solid singles. In this final chapter, the protagonist leaves behind this hurricane of fucking lies and runs away. It's worth noting that even during this final 2:38 there's a dramatic pace change at the 8:25 mark where everything slows way down for us to hear the what's been decided. "I don't feel any shame, I won't apologize, When there ain't nowhere you can go, Running away from pain, When you've been victimized, Tales from another broken home".

This tune is a lot like the weather in Ireland. If you stumble upon "Jesus of Suburbia" on CFNY Edge 102 or your local Green Day station and you don't like what you hear, wait a bit. It will change.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

A picture of Homer Jay Simpson"And if you get kicked out of that one, you're going straight in the army, where you'll be sent straight to America's latest military quagmire. Where will it be? North Korea? Iran? Anything's possible with Commander Cuckoo-Bananas in charge."

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A Rooting Interest

SoccerThe World Cup draw took place today. I don't care about soccer, but the World Cup transcends the sport and even I pay attention. To make things interesting, however, I must have a rooting interest.

My go-to team, obviously, is Canada. Canada hasn't qualified for the World Cup in twenty years, so I'm used to going to my back-up, Ireland. This time Ireland isn't represented either, so I'm forced to go three deep and root for the Netherlands.

Canada is an obvious #1 and Ireland is an obvious #2, but where does the Netherlands come into play? I get numerous emails from the Dutch telling me how popular my name is there and asking me if I'm aware my name is Dutch. Boon, it seems, came to Ireland by way of Holland.

Joining Holland in Group C is Argentina, Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

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A Couple Of Jays Thoughts

Blue JaysThe Jays have been busy beavers lately, making quite the off season splash. The sports headlines around these parts are full of letters. There's J.P., B.J., A.J. and O.K.

Earlier this week, we traded outfielder Gabe Gross and pitchers Dave Bush and Zach Jackson to Milwaukee for first baseman Lyle Overbay. I'll always think of Gabe Gross fondly because he hit a grand slam during James' first game. That was quite the September 2004 event. I also caught my first ball from an actual game and we witnessed Russ Adams' first career homer. Throw in a Carlos Delgado round tripper and a 12-5 victory and you've got yourself a first game for the ages.

In the midst of all this wheeling and dealing by the Jays, John Olerud announced his retirement. Close your eyes and picture the clinching out in the 1992 World Series. Otis Nixon lays down a bunt, Mike Timlin fields it cleanly and tosses the ball to Joe Carter at first base. Carter starts that historic leap in the air as the celebration begins.

Now, imagine that same play if Olerud was playing first. Upon catching the ball to end the game and clinch the series in six, Olerud would probably smile a little and slowly pump his glove in the air. There would be no leaping and no great grin of joy.

That was one time I was glad Johnny O was riding the pine.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayMake A Snowman - Go ahead. Make a snowman.

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite Snow songs

  1. 15 Feet of Pure White Snow - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin
  3. What The Snowman Learned About Love - Stars
  4. Snowsuit Sound - Sloan
  5. By-Tor And The Snow Dog - Rush

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The Snow and Howard Stern

SnowWhile we slept last night, it snowed in Toronto. That meant a morning of shoveling and slower-than-normal traffic. Creeping along a highway can be hell, but I didn't mind. I was enjoying the Howard Stern radio show.

I've got five more mornings of this and then I'm S.O.L. Five more mornings of Stern on WBUF and then he's off to Sirius, but only in America. He's not part of the initial Sirius Canada lineup which means there's really no way I can continue to enjoy his program.

Helping someone forget they're battling deranged drivers in slippery, icy snow during a painful commute to work is a truly priceless service. Five more mornings and counting...

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

This is indeed a very sad anniversary with the passing of John Lennon 25 years ago. Such a senseless death. I was driving along Lawrence Avenue on my way to teach when I received this news. It was difficult to leave the house to teach with three small children and so this was the first news of the day and very shocking for me. I remember that John Lennon had made a difference to me in my rebellious days when there was so much to be angst about. His songs made us feel we would be successful at changing the world. You have been sadly missed John Lennon. Have we seen anyone as committed to world peace? Perhaps, but still his absense has created a large void in our society.

      Mary

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

#10 from my list - July 21/05. The day the music died. John & Paul - best songwriters ever. That day everyone realized a reunion of the Beatles could never happen. Reading articles this past while the reunion WOULD have happened as John said "time heals wounds & WE are older now". He was the last Beatle to compromise & with his release of Double Fantasy at this time he didn't say no.

One of my saddest days - IMAGINE!!

      DALE

He was only 40 and still full of creative brilliance. It's safe to assume that we'd have more great music today had Mark Chapman ignored the voices in his head. It's a damn shame.

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My Memories of John Lennon

RewindThe murder of John Lennon 25 years ago today is my first memory of a news event. I was quite young at the time, but I vividly remember telling a grade one class mate at St. Cecilia's that a Beatle had died. I can even visualize the coat rack behind which I made this statement.

Somehow, I knew this was a big deal and I understood the severity of the situation. I had a sense that the Beatles were important and the death of one was a sad and significant event. Even to a six year old, Lennon's death transcended the world of music.

What would Lennon have created had he lived the past 25 years? One can only imagine...

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Johnny O

MLBAnother key member of our back-to-back World Series championships has retired from baseball. John Olerud calls it quits as a .295 career hitter with 255 home runs and 1,230 RBIs in 2,234 games. Johnny O's best season was 1993 when he won the AL batting title with a .363 average, beating out his Blue Jays teammates Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar.

Way back in May 2003, I checked in on the '93 Jays to see how many were still active and I updated this list in March 2005. Of those who played for the Jays during the '93 playoffs, only four remain active in the Major Leagues.

  • Woody Williams - Starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres
  • Mike Timlin - Relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox
  • Al Leiter - Finished last year with the New York Yankees
  • Pat Borders - Played last year for the Seattle Mariners

The final four... and 42 year old Borders is hanging on by a hair.

I found it impossible not to root for Johnny O, even when he was playing for the Mets, Mariners and Yankees. He was an extremely likable, soft-spoken player with the sweetest swing you've ever seen.

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Turin or Torino?

OlympicsTurin is the host city of the 2006 Winter Olympics, taking place February 10 to 26, 2006. With Canada aiming for another gold medal in men's hockey, Turin has been on my mind lately. Or is it Torino?

Turin is the english name of the Italian city of Torino. Traditionally, we refer to cities by their english name. This is why we refer to Rome and not Roma. The 2006 Winter Olympics will be known as the Turin games.

Having said that, I keep calling them the Torino games. In fact, I did so recently in this entry about Bryan McCabe. I never think of the Rome games as the Roma games, but this seems different somehow. For one, the official logo blares the name Torino at you. That logo is everywhere. Secondly, the name Torino looks and sounds a lot like the name of the greatest city in the world, Toronto. It may be the closest we get to hosting one of these things.

Turin or Torino? La scelta è la vostra!

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247 Song Christmas Playlist

ChristmasI just created a playlist that includes all my Christmas albums plus all seasonal songs found on other albums in my collection. I then removed all repeats. The same song may appear multiple times, but only if it's by different artists. Only one "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby allowed!

This holiday playlist now stands at 247 songs. That gives me 12.4 hours of Christmas music without hearing the same song by the same artist twice. I'm shuffling this playlist as I type.

"Silent Night" is the song the appears the most number of times. There are six versions on my Christmas playlist, from the following artists:

  • Bing Crosby
  • Elvis Presley
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Stevie Nicks
  • The Primatives
  • Boys II Men

Appearing five times are several songs, including "The First Noel", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". Although I only have the one version, nothing says Merry Christmas like "Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo". Why more artists haven't covered this holiday classic is beyond me.

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

It's been a while since I posted here. I was catching up on your blog, reading all the posts that I had missed out. I find it funny that you get your inspiration from Homer. I am a big fan of the Simpsons too. I didn't watch it for years and suddenly in the last few months I have been watching it regularly. I find that in the earlier episodes it was all about Bart but Homer seems to be the focus of all the episodes that I have been watching recently (they are all in syndication, all mixed up and here in India we get them so late that what they show in the US & Canada. The last one I saw, last nite, was the one in which Homer forms his own Springfield security force and the mob trys to take him down). Have you seen that one? How far behind you am I? Will Maggie ever speak?

Oh & Go SENS GO!!!

      Roshan

Yes, I've seen that episode, no, Maggie will never speak, although she did utter "daddy" in the voice of Elizabeth Taylor once and no, the Sens will never again hoist Lord Stanley's mug.

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Weekly MP3

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

Tracy Bonham - You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
This is the Dr. Seuss classic as interpreted by Tracy Bonham. It's the first of three holiday MP3s in a row.

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Maple Leafs 1, Kings 2

Go Leafs Go!That was a frustrating loss last night. Los Angeles goaltender Mathieu Garon made 36 saves and we went just 1-for-9 on the power play.

We don't play again until Saturday. Meanwhile, we get to watch teams like the Islanders and Devils make up their games in hand, potentially bumping us from our precarious eighth place position in the conference.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-11-3
33 points
4th in Northeast
2-1 Loss vs. Los Angeles
5-4 Loss vs. San Jose
4-0 Win vs. Atlanta
B. McCabe - 36
J. Allison - 28
J. O'Neill - 22

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My MP3s Updated

CDI've added 5 new CDs to my MP3 collection. Here they are...

  • Christmas Music - Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown
  • Christmas Music - Music for the Wholidays
  • Christmas Music - A Lump of Coal
  • Christmas Music - A Very Special Christmas
  • Christmas Music - Loreena McKennitt's A Winter Garden (Five Songs for the Season)

That's 1119 complete albums, 16,466 songs and 44.4 days of tunage. Check it out.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayLists: 2005 - Every year this guy tracks the "best of" lists that appear as the calendar year winds down. You'll want to bookmark this sucker and check it out in a couple of weeks.

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A.J. Joins B.J. As A B.J.

Blue JaysIf you believe what the Globe and Mail is claiming today, our Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a deal with free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett that will pay the righthander $55-million US over five-years. This significant free agent signing comes only ten days after the Jays landed B.J. Ryan in the largest deal for a reliever in the history of baseball.

We're kicking around some hefty coin and we're a much better team as a result. Burnett will be our #2 behind Roy Halladay and will allow us to improve further via trades. If the Yankees or Bosox stutter just a bit, we're ready to pounce.

Go Jays Go!

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Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids

A Movie ReelBorn Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids: 6 out of 10.

I'm a big doc fan, so it was with great anticipation that I sat down to watch the 2005 Oscar winner for best documentary. It's a fine piece of work, but far from the best doc I've seen over the past 12 months.

The children are endearing and and clever and you're rooting for them, but it quickly becomes all about Zana Briski. "Capturing the Friedmans" was better.

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What Would Homer Do?

HouseEarlier today I was invited to a holiday luncheon featuring a bunch of sushi. I'm not really a sushi guy, but I immediately thought of Homer. Homer wasn't a sushi guy either, but he tried it for Lisa and ended up loving it. Of course, it almost killed him, but that's not the point. The point is he didn't think he'd enjoy eating raw fish but he did.

Earlier today I reminisced about my U of T days living in a bachelor apartment, even though I wasn't a bachelor. We were really poor but we scored this great rent near the heart of the city and within walking distance of the university. We needed a place to put our books and my thoughts immediately turned to Homer. When Homer went back to college, he altered his room at home so it was more college-student-like. He made a makeshift bookshelf from four planks and six cinder blocks which he stole from a construction site. I had the answer. I would do what Homer did.

I found some suitable planks and, instead of stealing them from a construction site, I purchased eight cinder blocks from Home Depot and built a highly functional, very Homer-esque bookshelf that served us well for years. I intend to dig up, scan and share an old photo of this bookshelf I built in 1996.

Homer was right about the planks and cinder blocks and I'll bet he's right about sushi too. Whenever I'm in need of answers, I wonder to myself "What would Homer do?".

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The Monday Shuffle

iTunesEvery Monday I shuffle my entire MP3 collection in iTunes and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten tunes I heard today with a personal story about one of them.

  1. Night of the Living Baseheads - Public Enemy
  2. Code of Energy - Papa Roach
  3. Call Me (Come Back Home) - Al Green
  4. Spin The Black Circle - Pearl Jam
  5. Don't Be Afraid To Sing - Stars
  6. Santa Claus Is Back In Town - Elvis Presley
  7. I Will Buy You A New Life - Everclear
  8. Groove Me - Blues Brothers
  9. Born Slippy - Underworld
  10. Box Of Rain - Grateful Dead

Sometimes I miss the simpler times. For a couple of years in my early 20s, Taryn and I lived in a little bachelor apartment near Yonge and Bloor overlooking the Uptown Theatre and across the street from The Brass Rail. One of the CDs we listened to on a fairly regular basis was the Trainspotting soundtrack and one of our favourite cuts on that album was Underworld's "Born Slippy".

If you know "Born Slippy", you know it's a pretty heavy beat that needs to be loud to be appreciated. In our little apartment we'd blare the sucker so loud, you could hear it from down the hall. Those were the days.

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Kinsey

A Movie ReelKinsey: 7.5 out of 10.

The story of Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey is a very interesting one, and this Bill Condon flick about the man's work surmises it nicely. At the time, the only acceptable sex was that of husband and wife and acknowledging the existence of another form was strictly taboo. Even today there are nine states where oral sex is against the law, even within a heterosexual marriage. Kinsey certainly had his work cut out for him.

Everybody's sin is nobody's sin. And everybody's crime is no crime at all.

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My Quote of the Week

Opening Quotes"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
      - Det. Graham Waters, Crash

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Rallying The Troops

RaptorsIt seems I've lit a fire under the Raptors' collective asses. Just two mornings ago I call them out for playing like a bunch of 1-15 bums and now they're on a two game winning streak.

With great power comes great responsibility. I shall use it wisely.

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The Worst President Ever

USARichard Reeves asks the question. Is Dubya the worst President ever?

James Buchanan, the 15th president, is generally considered the worst president in history. The case against Dubya to assume that position is strong:

  • He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process
  • He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich
  • He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state
  • He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign
  • He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida)
  • He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity
  • He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress
  • He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime

Go Dubya Go!

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Classifying Christmas Music

ChristmasLast month I announced I had taken the Christmas discs on my MP3s page out of "Various Artists" and was now sorting them by "Christmas Music". Should a Christmas album be from a single artist, I decided that would remain under the artists name.

A couple of anonymous souls wrote me via this form to tell me Christmas music was Christmas music, even if it was from a single artist like "Elvis Presley's Christmas Peace". My initial instinct was that an Elvis Presley Christmas album belonged under "Presley, Elvis" but these emails had me wondering if my initial instinct was wrong.

You anonymous souls convinced me to change the way I sort Christmas music collections from a single artist. Go here and scroll down until you hit "Christmas Music" to see what I've got to spin this month.

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My MP3s Updated

CDI've added 21 new CDs to my MP3 collection. Here they are...

  • Korn - See You On The Other Side
  • Christmas Music - Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics
  • Christmas Music - Elvis Presley's Christmas Peace (Discs 1 & 2)
  • Johnny Cash - The Legend Of Johnny Cash
  • Various Artists - The Ongoing History of New Music (Volume 2)
  • Various Artists - Spirit Of The Edge (Volume 1)
  • Various Artists - CFNY 102.1 New Music Search 1994
  • Various Artists - Free At Last 1
  • Various Artists - Free At Last 2
  • Various Artists - Free At Last 3
  • Various Artists - Chef Aid: The South Park Album
  • OST - South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut
  • Elvis Presley - Artist Of The Century (Discs 1, 2 & 3)
  • Various Artists - Frosh 2
  • Various Artists - Frosh 3
  • Various Artists - The One And Only 80's Album
  • Various Artists - Maxi-Music
  • Shania Twain - Up! (Disc 2)

That's 1114 complete albums, 16,380 songs and 44 days of tunage. Check it out.

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Maple Leafs 4, Sharks 5

Go Leafs Go!The Leafs let a 3-1 first period lead evaporate, playing a brutal second period on route to a loss in their first game against a Western Conference opponent. We're now 0-2 when the Boon brothers get together to watch the blue and white.

Mats Sundin drew an assist on Tucker's goal, giving him 769 points as a Leaf. That bumps him past Borje Salming into third on the all-time Leafs list. Dave Keon (858) and Darryl Sittler (916) are next on Mats' hit list.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-10-3
33 points
3rd in Northeast
5-4 Loss vs. San Jose
4-0 Win vs. Atlanta
2-1 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
B. McCabe - 35
J. Allison - 28
J. O'Neill - 22

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayHip Music - I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to beta test the new official Hip site which went live a few days ago. This link is to the new Hip Music Player which will stream a bunch of good Hip tracks for you so you can truly have your music @ work.

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Sideways

A Movie ReelSideways: 7.5 out of 10.

Yes, I'm about a year behind on my movies and I'm only getting to "Sideways" today. It was very good, but not as good as I had heard it was. The way they heaped praise and awards on "Sideways" I was expecting something truly extraordinary. Instead I merely got a really good movie.

Paul Giamatti was once again fantastic. I love this actor. From "American Splendor" through "Man on the Moon", "Saving Private Ryan" and "Private Parts", he's top notch.

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My Link of the Day

Mike's Link of the DayPardon Our Dust - A Gap commercial directed by Spike Jonze.

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Crash

A Movie ReelCrash: 8.5 out of 10.

I'm a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia". I've seen it several times and I love the style. It's a big ensemble cast with several interwoven plotlines that create a greater thought-provoking sense. "Magnolia" came out six years ago and I hadn't watched a flick since that came close to this all-encompassing spirit. Canadian Paul Haggis' "Crash" is filmed in a similar style with a similar positive effect.

It's a well-written, well acted two hours that makes a number of bold statements about our racist world. It was exceptional and now it's made me want to watch "Magnolia" again.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

A picture of Homer Jay Simpson"Woo hoo! 350 dollars! Now I can buy 70 transcripts of Nightline!"

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Worse Than I Thought

RaptorsWow. I knew they'd be bad, but I didn't think they'd be this bad.

Our Raptors are 1-15. It's the 1997-98 season all over again. That year we came out of the gates 1-19 en route to a 16-66 mark. If we manage to win 16 games this year, I'll be amazed. The NBA record for futility, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers who finished 9-73, is well within our grasp.

If we're going to lose, we might as well lose big. Unfortunately, we're tanking in a very weak draft year. Typical Raptor luck. Where's Acie Earl when you need him?

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite December songs

  1. December 4th - Jay-Z
  2. A Long December - Counting Crows
  3. December - Collective Soul
  4. December - Weezer
  5. December Will Be Magic - Kate Bush

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Ads

FirefoxWhen Firefox 1.5 was released the other day, I was quick to install it. It truly creates a better web experience and I encourage all of you to download and install it right now.

One of my favourite Firefox extensions is Adblock which filters ads from web pages. I've been using Adblock for quite some time but when I first installed Firefox 1.5 I noticed a few Flash display issues so I disabled Adblock until they released a version that works properly with Firefox 1.5. For one thing, the music players on this page and this page wouldn't display until I disabled Adblock. Visiting my regular suite of sites without Adblock enabled was like drifting through a minefield of ads. I totally forgot how many obtrusive image and flash ads were littered on a number of sites I visit daily.

Thankfully, there seems to be a new release of Adblock so I can kiss these ads goodbye once more. Firefox + Adblock = ♥

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Maple Leafs 4, Panthers 0

Go Leafs Go!You never forget your first. Mikael Tellqvist stopped 28 shots for his first career shutout as the Leafs beat the Thrasher for the sixth time in a row. We've outscored these guys 18-2 this season.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, we were tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference and today we're tied for third. It's going to be one of those seasons.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-9-3
33 points
Tied for 2nd in Northeast
4-0 Win vs. Florida
2-1 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
2-1 Win vs. Florida
B. McCabe - 35
J. Allison - 26
J. O'Neill - 22

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Guest Blog Entry

Ink StainAnyone is welcome to submit a Guest Blog Entry to torontomike.com. I received the following entry earlier today.

After reading your 3rd anniversary post, I noticed the part about the 'self-inflicted gunshot wound'. I don't think we've ever heard your opinion on all the conspiracy theories floating around Kurt Cobain's death. What do you think? Was it in fact a suicide?

      Mike H.

I just searched my page for all references to Courtney Love. Here they are:

You're right, I don't comment on the conspiracy theories floating around in any of these entries which just goes to show how unsure I am. But then, I found this discussion about Hole's "Celebrity Skin" on our very own Smells Like Sour site where I leave little doubt as to where I stand. I've read Charles Cross' "Heavier Than Heaven", which is awfully kind to Courtney and lets her gently off the hook, but I can't shake a sneaking suspicion that she played a role in Kurt Cobain's death.

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Wicked CDLX

MusicWhen Custom first sent me fourteen new tracks he was working on, I was blown away. What I haven't been able to write about until today is that he also shared with me a bunch of tunes that he was producing, performing and attributing to a side project he called CDLX. CDLX stands for Custom Deluxe and the CDLX tracks were as impressive as the Custom tracks. This multi-talented freak has a shitload of amazing new material that I've been enjoying for the past ten months.

CDLX is more hip-hop than the Custom material, but it's totally wicked. Today I got permission to let this cat out of the bag and I'm streaming four CDLX songs on the CDLX Myspace Music page. Do yourself a favour and click on over there to listen to "Whatever", "Bong Bubble", "Fuck Off" and "Weed" then listen to them again and let me know what you think.

While I was at it, I decided to share four new Custom tunes on Custom's Myspace Music page. I'm now sharing "Fogg", "Field", "Yes, Dear" and "One Day". "One Day" appeared on Custom's debut Fast but this is the UK remix.

If you like what you hear, you'll want to bookmark Custom's official site which I built and maintain. Prepare yourself... you'll be singing "Bong Bubble" for a while.

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Hip Special

The HipFans of The Hip should mark December 7th on their calendars. Global Television is airing a special entitled "That Night In Toronto" at 22:00 EST.

To borrow a piece I just read in The National Post, "If you don't love the Tragically Hip, then you just don't love Canada. Ergo, you must watch That Night In Toronto, their special at 10 ET on Global."

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Rest in Peace

In MemoriumWendie Jo Sperber was 47. She appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, including all three "Back to the Future" films.

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Maple Leafs 1, Lightning 2

Go Leafs Go!I believe we're going to the well too often. In five powerplay opportunities, including a rather lengthy two man advantage, the strategy was to feed the puck to Bryan McCabe so he could rifle it home. It didn't work last night and we lost a game we should have won.

We're now tied for eighth in the conference and you know what that means. It's going to be a dog fight to the finish.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
14-9-3
31 points
Tied for 3rd in Northeast
2-1 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
2-1 Win vs. Florida
4-3 Win vs. Montreal
B. McCabe - 33
J. Allison - 24
J. O'Neill - 22

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