In 1993, fourteen years ago, Joe Carter touched 'em all. It was our second World Series championship in a row and the Philadelphia Phillies were our victims.
For fourteen years neither the Phillies or Blue Jays could get back to the post season. Today, the Philadelphia Phillies completed an historic comeback by beating the Washington Nationals, 6-1. Seven games out with 17 to play, the Phillies went 13-4 down the stretch to clinch the National League East title. They beat us to the punch, and I'm not happy about it.
Adding insult to injury, guess who's the Phillies GM? Pat Gillick, architect of our World Series teams and resident of the T.Dot. At least we'll always have this...
I finally saw The Queen. Helen Mirren becomes Queen Elizabeth II, even more than Scott Thompson did, and slam dunked that Oscar. Everyone is good in The Queen, the writing and direction is superb and you're not bored for a second. This is a brilliantly crafted film.
What's particularly extraordinary is that The Queen contains no swears, no nudity, no suggestive sex or violence and is rated G. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a non-cartoon rated G as much.
The 2007/2008 regular season is underway and the Leafs play their first game on Wednesday night against our good buddies from Ottawa Kanata. Since I was waxing nostalgic about the old Blue Jays logo yesterday, I thought I'd kick off this NHL season by ranking the current NHL team logos from best to worst.
The opinions expressed are strictly those of Toronto Mike. Reader discretion is advised.
1 - Toronto Maple Leafs
- Lengendary iconic symbol - Solid blue and white - God's team
2 - Chicago Blackhawks
- Named after the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division during World War I - A classic beaut - The best logo not belonging to God's team
3 - Montreal Canadiens
- Historic rivals, but a great logo - Classic red, white and bleu - Drenched in success (argh!)
4 - New York Rangers
- Another original six, another great logo - More clasic red, white and blue - Conn Smythe's chip on the shoulder
5 - Detroit Red Wings
- Another oldie but goldie - The big red machine - Motor city wheels of steel
6 - Dallas Stars
- Simple, but smart - My favourite of the newbies - It's good to be green
7 - St. Louis Blues
- Another simple but smart logo - Named for the W. C. Handy song "St. Louis Blues" - Blue is best
8 - Boston Bruins
- My least favourite of the original six - Still a great logo - Looks great in the video for "Courage"
9 - Calgary Flames
- This logo was so strong, it survived a move from Atlanta - From the Civil War to the Battle of Alberta - Simple, but slick and timeless
10 - Philadelphia Flyers
- Not much of a nickname, but a good colour scheme - 70s succcess gives integrity to the brand - If the Flyers were to change this logo, we'd all go ape-shit
11 - Edmonton Oilers
- Memories of glory days - Check out the web 2.0 mirror effect on the font - As a young man, this was my favourite team, for obvious reasons
12 - Minnesota Wild
- The only non-Leafs paraphernalia I own is a Wild tee shirt - Fantastic colour scheme - Collegiate look and feel for additional coolness
13 - New Jersey Devils
- Simple and practical - It just works - Not a logo you want to face in the playoffs
14 - Atlanta Thrashers
- Of all the Johnny-come-lately teams, this is the best logo - This bird is pretty intimidating, for a bird - Not bad for the middle of the pack
15 - Colorado Avalanche
- Sakic, Forsberg and Roy will make a logo look better than it is - Nice colours, recognizable icon - I miss the Nordiques
16 - Florida Panthers
- This panther looks tough, but could he take on the thrasher? - 14 years of life and only the rats are scared - Otherwise not particularly memorable
17 - Pittsburgh Penguins
- I think this one is living on fumes of better times - Likely got it's name because they play in the Igloo - It's a freakin' cartoon penguin, Crosby oughta sue
18 - Tampa Bay Lightning
- There are worse logos than this one - Lightning is pretty scary - The font is pretty weak
19 - Ottawa Senators
- Yes I dislike this team, but that's not why they're ranked this low - For proof of the above, check out who's #3 - The logo is okay, but not particularly inspiring or memorable or special
20 - San Jose Sharks
- Rode the teal wave to popularity in the early 90s - The original shark was black, much better - Still scarier than a seal
21 - Vancouver Canucks
- This franchise changes their logo so often, it's hard to get used to one - This orca logo is a blatant ad for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment and that's pretty gross - Bring back the stick!
22 - Carolina Hurricanes
- Hurricanes are scary, but maybe a little too scary - This logo isn't bad, but it's a bit busy... just try doodling it during history - I miss the Whalers
23 - Columbus Blue Jackets
- What's so civil about war anyway? - If you didn't know who this logo belonged to, would you guess it in a million years? - Oh say can you see...
24 - Los Angeles Kings
- Should we be afraid of this scary looking crown? - Went from looking like the Lakers to looking like the Raiders to looking like crap - It's a crown, only one thing is less intimidating than a crown...
25 - Anaheim Ducks
- Less intimidating than a crown - A huge improvement over the old Mighty Ducks logo - Your Stanley Cup champions, ladies and gentlemen
26 - New York Islanders
- I know this will anger those who came of age in the late 70s, but I call it like I see it - Not only a weak logo, but a weak nickname - Still better than that fisherman
27 - Phoenix Coyotes
- A dog with fleas - Not even the Great One can give this logo or franchise hope - I miss the Jets
28 - Washington Capitals
- What is this? - Uninspired, unspectacular, uninteresting - No kid on the planet living outside of Washington is going to want a Capitals jersey this Christmas
29 - Buffalo Sabres
- Sorry Buffalo, but I hate this new logo - Who decided on this colour scheme? Is that still a buffalo? - It doesn't get much worse than this
30 - Nashville Predators
- What the hell is this thing? - This franchise was a mistake and this logo was a mistake - Fittingly named after a fossil
Yes, I realize this is my third sports-related entry in a row, but whatcha gonna do? It's all about me, remember?
I officially despise the new Blue Jays logo. My brother gave me a gift card for the official Blue Jays store and I've yet to use it because every item has that damn soul-less logo plastered on it except for two styles of retro fitted caps. I don't like fitted caps. Further hunting reveals a Cooperstown jacket with the old beloved logo on it, but it's $110.
What exactly was wrong with that sharp looking double blue blue jay over top the baseball with our red Canadian maple leaf prominently displayed? Was it too Canadian? Too associated with success? Too popular?
The new logo is starting to seriously piss me off as I pang more and more for the old logo. There's power in numbers and it's time we did something about this. It's time we bring back the old Blue Jays logo.
One of my favourite blogs is Stat of the Day which today has a nice little write up about John Paciorek. 44 years ago today, John Paciorek played his one and only major league baseball game for the Houston Colt .45's.
He got to the plate 5 times that day, going 3 for 3 and taking two walks. He also got 3 RBIs and scored 4 runs easily giving him the greatest one game career in major league history.
John Paciorek made the most of his shot, but never earned his way back to the show. A back injury the next year hampered things and he retired from baseball in 1969. Here's the boxscore from that September 29, 1963 game.
I just read that Canada failed to win a match at the Rugby World Cup for the first time. We got walloped 37-6 by Australia earlier today and I don't care. Rugby is in my C bucket of sports which means I really don't care how Canada fares unless we happen to win something at which time I'll semi-care.
I'm sure this will sound like blasphemy to rugby lovers, but I've never played the sport nor have I ever watched a match, and I'm a sports fan. With a sport in the Toronto Mike C bucket alongside cricket and polo, a world cup can come and go and I won't notice. I read about our loss to Australia at BBC Sport.
Because I'm sure you're curious, here's my A bucket, B bucket and C bucket. The sports I failed to list are probably in the C bucket.
A number of women in my wife's circle of friends are preggers or have cute little babies. This has Taryn talking about having a third.
I've already decided I'm happy with the two angels I have. I've got a boy and a girl and both are smart, healthy, sweet, beautiful creatures. I also have a bedroom for each in a neighbourhood I love. I love things just the way they are and as the kids get older it just gets better. I think I'm done procreating.
Taryn appreciates my argument, but she likes to turn it around. She thinks that we should have more because we create such pretty, smart, healthy children. She thinks we should do it now while we're still sorta young. She sees these cute little babies and pregnant women and she gets a little baby fever.
I still think I'm done. Taryn's argument is falling on deaf ears. I've won the lottery twice and I'm not about to tempt fate by rolling the dice again. At least not until I win an actual lottery, and that's another game I'm not interested in playing.
I watched another episode of Californication last night. That's five episodes and I don't think I actually like this show. I think I'm watching because I think it should be better than it is.
For starters, it stars Fox Mulder. That was enough to get me to watch the pilot. I like David Duchovny, but this Hank Moody character he's playing is just over the top. It's as if the writers took every "cool guy" cliche in the books and slapped them upon his persona. A tortured writer who beds beautiful babes, Moody is James Dean, Steve McQueen and The Fonz all rolled into one. It's enough to make you sick.
Then, there's this stupid subplot with his agent who has this secret dominatrix thing going with his hot secretary and a wife who demands a threesome with him and that same smokin' assistant. Please. I could write that, but nobody would tune in because everything is so overblown. There's no subtlety at all. Even the pig teacher flaunts his interest in teens and snorting coke like he's begging for a visit from the coppers. Californication isn't particularly smart, funny or interesting and the presence of Duchovny shouldn't have tided me over five episodes.
Tell Me You Love Me is far more interesting. If you're looking for a new TMN show to test drive, try that one... if you can handle the sausage.
If you've got something to say or wish to cover a topic and address an audience, you should blog. This web thing is really catching on and a nicely put together blog with an RSS feed is your best chance to actually communicate beyond your immediate family and a few close friends.
If you want a blog, and don't know where to start, drop me a line. I'm not free, but for a nominal fee I'll hold your hand as you pick up a solid domain name and some very inexpensive web space. Then, I install Movable Type, code your preferred look and feel, optimize the sucker for search and teach you how the heck to manage the thing all by yourself. I promise, you don't need to do any coding as I ensure Movable Type does all the heavy lifting, including the automatic creation of permalinks, the adding of the entry to category and monthly archives, the updating of the RSS feed, the pinging of Technorati and other blog aggregators and other bloggy goodness. Oh yeah, I'll set up a cool and free stats app too, so you can watch your traffic grow as you write more and more excellent content, just like this!
Most Torontonians know the names Humble and Fred. I performed all of the above for both of them. Humble's blogging at HumbleHoward.com and Fred's blogging at torontomike.com. Fellow Humble and Fred fan Buffalo Boy just signed up for the Toronto Mike blogging package. Although I just installed Movable Type for him today, he'll soon be blogging up a storm at BuffaloBoyMike.com.
There's a nice little list in the Sun today. They rank the top 10 dumb sports rules and #1 on their hitlist is the Canadian football rouge. Here's what the article says.
How much do we need to say about a rule that rewards failure? If you lineup for a field goal and miss, you should get nothing. Instead, in the CFL, you get a point even if you miss by 20 yards, as long as the other team concedes or the ball goes through the end zone. However, if the ball goes off the upright, which means it was a decent kick that missed by inches, you don't get a point. Here's a single point for you -- the rouge sucks.
I too think the rouge sucks. It's not just in the CFL, I remember Michael Power getting on the board in a Metro Bowl by scoring a rouge. I've never understood the purpose of the rouge, other than to differentiate our game from the American game, and that's not a good enough reason.
The best moment a rouge ever gave us was that great scene in The Simpsons episode "When Flanders Failed" when Homer was watching the CFL draft on television.
It's ok Leafs fans. Don't worry about last night. Don't worry about Vesa Toskala or the fact we got blown out by the Sabres. You see, I've been around, and I learnt something from the Grapefruit League that applies to our current Leafs woes. Pre-season doesn't mean a thing.
Back in the early 90s, our Toronto Blue Jays weren't just good, we were great. We won the AL East pennant in '91, '92 and '93, and we won the World Series those last two years. It's hard for you kids to imagine the success we had. We were oh so blessed, but you wouldn't know it if you looked at our spring training record.
In 1991, the Jays went 9-19 in spring training, 2nd worst in the American League. In 1992 we went 13-18, 3rd worst in the league. In 1993, the year Joe touched 'em all, we were 11-19 in Grapefruit League action, 3rd worst in the American League. I watched or listened to every game back then, and I remember being concerned heading into the regular season because our pre-season performance was so weak. Then, months later, I remember being champion and realizing that pre-season doesn't mean a thing.
This is good news Leafs fans. It means our current suckage could lead us to Stanley Cup contention. We're a lot like those Jays teams of the early 90s. We've got everything they had, except for the awesome talent.
This being election season here in Ontario, it's all about equal time. That's why Zork Hun, Libertarian Party candidate for my riding, got to speak during the opening ceremony of The Terry Fox Run at High Park. That's why they can't air Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in California while he's running for Governor. And that's why this entry is all about my Michelle.
She suffers from extreme elation, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The other day I told her she could stay up and watch the first period of the Leafs game and she got this huge smile on her face, started jumping up and down and screaming in delight. She had the same reaction when I told her she could watch the season premiere of The Simpsons. She also had this reaction when I told her she could have a chocolate chip cookie, so you see, she's extremely excited about just about everything.
I'm sure this will subside, because if you get that happy about a cookie, what the heck do you do when something really cool happens. What would you do if you clinched the RSPA Int-1 divisional championship with a two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the last inning?
You've got to leave some elation for moments like that.
I haven't shared stories about the kids lately, and it's not because there aren't any. It's because there are too many. They're both at these ages where just about everything they do is priceless and precious and too cute for words. It's truly cuteness overload.
Tonight when I got home from work, James excitedly met me at the door to show me his temporary tattoo. It was a picture of Terry Fox. He wanted to tell me all about this Terry Fox fellow, about how he had one real leg and one robot leg, about how he ran so far every day and wanted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer. Hearing James tell me about my hero was pretty awesome, but it was his enthusiasm that got me.
He told me Terry Fox would run first thing in the morning and sometimes didn't eat lunch until dinner. He went on to say he did the Terry Fox Run, but he didn't go as far as Terry would go. He also told me they saw a video about Terry Fox because he couldn't be there in person, having died from his cancer.
He's only five, but James seemed to get it. He seemed to understand how special Terry Fox was and he seemed to be inspired by him. It was very cool.
Now that ball is done for the winter, running is my only exercise of the week. My plan is to complete this 10k clinic and then do Running Room club runs throughout the winter. Then, in February or whenever it's scheduled, I'll join the half marathon clinic at the High Park Running Room.
Last week I shopped around for some cooler weather running gear. I priced pants and long sleeved shirts at the Running Room, Sportschek and a few shops in Square One before I found some pretty good deals on non-cotton stuff at Winners. I've never run in winter before, and I understand the trick is lots of layering. Here's hoping we get another mild winter like last year.
Here are the runs I fit in over the past seven days:
There's a Starbucks on every corner and I don't understand the allure at all. I just don't get it. I enjoy coffee, but have you ever gone into a Starbucks and asked for coffee? They look at you like you just asked for an oil change. Starbucks doesn't sell coffee. They have blends like Joya del Dia, Arabian Mocha Sanani and Ubora.
I like to walk into a coffee shop and ask for an extra large double-double. I don't know how to do that at Starbucks. I don't know how to do that at Second Cup, either, which may explain why I spend most of my coffee drinking moments at Tim Hortons.
At Tim Hortons, they know exactly what I want when I ask for an extra large double-double. They know I want coffee.
I 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.
Public Enemy - Bring Tha Noize Here's a quick story about this tune. I loved "Bring The Noise" from Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. In fact, it was easily one of my favourite cuts on one of my favourite albums of all time. Then, in 1991, I was flipping stations when I heard a heavier, rockier version of the song on MuchMusic. Damn, there was PE and Anthrax doing it up and it was awesome!
"Bring tha Noize" appeared on the very cool Anthrax album Attack of the Killer B's and Public Enemy's own Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black. This version is from that album and it still rocks bells.
I've been following the Steve Fossett search closely as I'm fascinated by his disappearance. Fossett took off September 3rd and hasn't been seen or heard from since. Crews are now combing a rugged area near Death Valley going on new leads from Air Force experts.
Fossett is as experienced a pilot as there is. He's been missing 23 days and counting. Barring a miracle, Steve Fossett is likely dead.
This begs the question, when does hope expire? When do newspapers run Fossett's obituary? When do we acknowledge a man's death when he's disappeared into thin air?
I just submitted a song for SLS18 consideration. I submitted "Civil Twilight" by The Weakerthans.
I'm seriously digging this tune. I caught The Weakerthans at Fort York when they opened for The Hip and I thought they were pretty damn good. "Civil Twilight" appeals to my sensibilities. Have a listen for yourself.
My prediction was wrong. I thought Chad VanGaalen would win the 2007 Polaris Prize, awarded on the basis of artistic merit, regardless of musical genre, profile or record sales. Instead it went to Montreal's Patrick Watson.
To prove how little I know about Patrick Watson, I thought it was a him and not a them. It turns out Patrick Watson is a four-piece band that performs and records under the name of its singer and chief songwriter.
As with last year, better known acts like Arcade Fire, Feist and Joel Plaskett Emergency got shut out. There's something cool about that.
We did it. We swept the S&M Flyers tonight to win our division and that means we'll be playing comp next season. I've played on this slo-pitch team for the better part of a decade and we've never tasted success like this.
Both games were wickedly close. We eked out a 9-8 win in extra innings in game one and then, in game two, I was at the plate with two on in the bottom of the last inning and down by a run. All I could think about strolling to the plate was Joe Carter and his walk-off homer to win the series in '93. I laced the second pitch I saw into centre field, scoring two and giving us a 14-13 win and the championship.
As boring as this is for everyone not on Raging Storm, I've got to get this all down while the euphoria still wafts in the night air. Everything I've written about this team I've meant. It was a controversial regular season and our worst record in years, but I've played on no finer a ball team. We always came back when it mattered. In game two tonight, we were down by seven and easily could have mailed it in and hoped for better in game three. Instead, our defense shut the Flyers down and our bats chipped away at the stone.
Finally, I want to thank my teammates. I had never played the role of Cito before, and I couldn't have asked for a better conclusion to the season. This was awesome and I'm damn proud. Kids, you deserve it.
I enjoy my Sunday night cartoons. Last night, both kids joined me for the Simpsons premiere and then three year old Michelle went to bed. James, however, had caught several promos for The Family Guy Star Wars spoof and as a life long fan of Star Wars, he was hooked.
Actually, we were hooked. I don't know if this makes me a bad dad, but five year old James was allowed to stay up until 10pm to see the ending. This was our Roots!
He loved the scenes of Stewie as Darth Vader and was too young to realize how creepy Obi Wan Kenobi was, so it was ideal for both of us. Although I'll always be partial to the episode with Norm McDonald playing the Grim Reaper, the Family Guy Star Wars spoof might be my favourite episode ever.
As a young reader I would read books from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. In a Choose Your Own Adventure book you make choices that determine the main character's actions and effect the plot and outcome. For example, you'll meet a dragon in a dead-end with a single door and you'd have to decide whether to fight the dragon or run for the door. You might be off to page 13 or you might be off to page 18, depending on your decision.
Today such a game would be better suited to the computer than a book. Click here to fight the dragon, click here to run to the door. Of course, today this wouldn't be a textual game at all. You'd simply use your controller to fight the dragon or head for the door.
Next time on Books Toronto Mike Read As A Kid, we'll revisit the brilliant mind of Encyclopedia Brown.
His name is Laurence Tureaud, but you know him best as Mr. T. The world was first introduced to Mr. T in the guise of James "Clubber" Lang in Rocky III and next as Sgt. "B. A." Baracus on The A Team. Last week, he inspired my slo-pitch team and uttered four words that propelled us to a semi-final victory and a berth in the finals.
Tonight is that final best-of-three as we take on the S&M Flyers in an epic battle for RSPA supremacy. We faced the S&M Flyers three times during the regular season, losing twice and tying them once. As the fourth seed in the division, we're the underdogs, and that's just the way we like it.
You see, Mr. T was an underdog, too. He grew up in the Chicago projects, the youngest boy of thirteen children. Through a killer blend of determination, grit, strength, smarts and a mohawk, Mr. T won our hearts and had us all saying "I pity the fool". If Mr. T could rise like a phoenix to become top dog, so can Raging Storm. Scratch that... so will Raging Storm.
Perusing my music collection, I realize there's only a handful of bands and artists I really, really, really like. There are many I like, such as Coldplay, Broken Social Scene, Sam Roberts and Arctic Monkeys, but I don't really, really, really like them.
When I got home from my 11k run yesterday morning, I got down to work. Two of us were going to redo the porch and after a trip to Rona for supplies we were set to tackle the project. We worked non-stop for nine hours, hooked up again this morning at about 11 and just finished up about an hour ago.
I did all the drilling and screwing (insert joke here) and as I type this my entire body is just plain tired. I'm sore from head to toe, there are blisters on my hand and I'm wondering how the hell people do this for a living. The manual labourers amongst us deserve some mad props because 12 hours in their shoes this weekend have me feeling completely wiped.
Sitting in front of a computer for 7.5 hours a day hardly feels like work in retrospect.
I remember in grade five a nerd in gifted offering to copy some of his Commodore 64 games for me to take home. I couldn't believe he could copy the video game onto a floppy disc for me and I'd have the game for free.
My first brush with piracy likely predates this ad that warns us not to copy that floppy. Had I only heard this gentleman's convincing rap before that nerd gave me Jungle Hunt. It might very well have altered my personal history.
In a speech defending his administration's Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.
"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.
A reputation for a verbal faux pas? Sure, and Tiger Woods is a pretty good golfer.
Speaking of leaders who are still alive, Fidel Castro appeared in a television interview today. That's right, he's still alive, too. The integrity of hard news hound Perez Hilton is lost forever.
A journalism student at The University of Delaware is writing an article on the "Croc Shoe Epidemic" and she contacted me to see if I'd be willing to grant her an interview. Apparently a link from Slate.com is all that's required to make you an expert in any given field. If Slate.com had linked to my entry about my torn ACL in 2003, I'd likely being getting interview requests from medical students and invitations to speak at medical conferences.
Anyone can be an expert in anything. All you need is hyperlink or two.
I was watching last night when Vesa Toskala allowed the first shot he faced to end up in the net. Not long after, another weak shot was in the mesh. Vesa Toskala's Maple Leafs debut was weak, but we must hold our fire. We'll need our ammo for when it actually matters.
You see, this is preseason hockey. It doesn't really matter. It's the time for guys like Tony Salmelainen and Simon Gamache to get our hopes up. Who has the energy to boo a weak preseason performance? Admittedly, I was hoping for better, but I'm willing to hold off on judging the dude until he plays a couple of games that actually count in the standings.
I also have a good enough memory to recall Ed Belfour's debut in blue and white, and he too let in the first goal he faced. As I recall, he went on to have a pretty good season.
I don't know who or what a Sherri Shepherd is, but I respect her Aristotlean opinion that the earth may be as flat as a pancake. She's as ignorant as Jimmy's crazy friend who says it's wrong to eat meat, but she's entitled to be as loony as she wants to be.
And here she is now, unable to conclude whether the earth is flat or spherical. We'll tag this sucker "retro ignorance".
Most people in Ontario who go to the polls will know who they're voting for, or at least which party they're voting for, but how many will be ready for the referendum? Are you ready for the referendum for an electoral system?
The Question Which electoral system should Ontario use to elect members to the provincial legislature? a) The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post), or b) The alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens' Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional).
What the heck is First-Past-the-Post? It's a horse racing analogy. Basically it's winner take all and it's the system we use today after inheriting it from Mother England. We cast one vote for our MPP and whoever gets the most votes wins the seat. Then, the political party that wins the most electoral districts is asked to form a government.
What's this new Mixed Member Proportional thingy? This one is tricky, even for a smart guy like me. You vote twice on election day, once for your MPP and once for a political party. The MPP is the "Local Member" and the other vote determines the number of "List Members" each party gets. It adds proportional representation so the winning party is the one with the largest number of seats in the legislature, including both "Local Members" and "List Members". I told you this one was trickier.
I'm not sure how I'm voting in the referendum and luckily there's a site that explains things a little better than I did. You'll find it at http://yourbigdecision.ca. If you're ready for the referendum before you head to the polls, you'll feel less stupid when you're asked to choose the way we choose our whipping boys and girls.
A web site called Cinema Blend ranked their top 5 grunge albums, and as a product of the grunge outbreak of the early 90s, I read with great interest.
I'm not going to analyze their rankings, which includes a rather surprising number one, I'd just like to state how much I love all five albums they listed. In fact, over a decade after grunge fizzled out, I constantly listen to all four of these discs and enjoy them as much today as I did back then.
I learnt a valuable lesson last night. With my ball game scheduled for 9:30pm, I decided to run hills with the 10k clinic at 6:30pm. We run the 2k loop in High Park and then the steep Spring Road hill five times before running the 2k loop again and heading for home. I felt fine afterwards, but during the ball game my calve muscles kept tightening up. Leading off the game I hit a single up the middle and literally stumbled on my way to first because my calve muscle seized up and hurt like hell the rest of the game. Hills + baseball = bad idea.
The Terry Fox Run became a walk which meant last week was a lighter load than usual. Now I'm back on schedule, training for the Zoo 10k race on October 13.
Here are the runs I fit in over the past seven days:
I heard someone mention The Barracuda on CFNY this morning. In the mid-90s I used to frequent The Barracuda at 21 Scollard Street near Yonge and Bloor, usually on Thursday nights. As I recall, Monday nights were Phoenix nights and Thursday nights were Barracuda nights.
The allure was the fact they sold beer for 98¢ before 10pm. We'd buy a bunch at about 9:45pm and hoard them at our table. On one such toasty Thursday night in 1995, I met my future wife for the first time.
The best part of this story is the fact I actually ended up with her best friend's phone number. A few dates and weeks later, I successfully pulled off "The Switch" in glorious and brilliant Seinfeld fashion, and a few months after that I was married.
The Barracuda closed down in 1996, no doubt a result of those 98¢ beer nights, but it will forever be a part of my personal history. What would my life be like today without the 'Cuda?
I 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 Tragically Hip - Pretend World Container was a damn fine offering from Das Hip. I recently rediscovered it after shelving it for a few months and I'm still haunted by this torch number I first heard in the video for "In View". If you haven't heard it, it's not the Hip you're used to.
I caught a good chunk of the Maple Leafs preseason opener last night against Edmonton. I basically watched until I switched over to Rescue Me at 10 and it wasn't the easy viewin' I'm used to at this point in the season. It was tough to watch, and it's all Justin Pogge's fault.
It was Justin Pogge's first NHL game, and I really wanted him to play well. I so badly want this prospect to pan out and develop into a great goalie I actually got butterflies every time he handled an Oiler shot. I just didn't want him to look out of place.
He looked fine, facing 27 shots and losing 3-2 in overtime. He's got one more season as a Marlie before we call his number. Here's hoping he is who I think he is.
I just watched video of University of Florida police officers using an electronic stun gun to subdue Andrew Meyer who was questioning Senator John Kerry at a campus forum. The video is so disturbing I'm sorry I viewed it. Meyer was asking a question, didn't threaten Kerry at all, and was quickly cut off, arrested and eventually Tasered.
What disturbs me is how quickly it escalated. You'd think in a University what Meyer was doing would be encouraged instead of punished. It's shocking they cut his mic, disturbing they arrested him and sickening that they used the stun gun.
In about 24 hours I'll be preparing for the third game in our best of three slo-pitch semi-final series against RobArts Rage. This is a season I wish could keep going. I think our 2007 campaign, well documented here, is our most fun season to date.
I've never liked the nickname "Raging Storm". Earlier this year, we agreed to change it and bring in new uniforms. We even held a vote with "In The Face" winning out. As much as I dislike Raging Storm and our boring blue jerseys, it's our name and our brand. We're Raging Storm, for better or for worse, and I can't see this same group coming back next season with any other moniker. I'm even looking forward to coming back to this same crappy league in those same ratty uniforms.
If we win tomorrow night, we extend the season one more week, and that's incentive enough to kick some ass. I'll leave the final word to Mr. T.
You know that Good Housekeeping seal of approval? I look at HBO as such a seal. If a television show belongs to HBO, I'll give it a good shot because it's highly likely I'm not just going to enjoy the show but I'm going to love it.
This year alone I've enjoyed the following HBO series: The Sopranos, John From Cincinnati, Flight of the Conchords and Curb Your Enthusiasm. And yes, I realize I'd love Entourage and I'm missing out, but I'm thinking at some point someone will lend me the complete DVD set and I'll catch it from the beginning.
The new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm just kicked off last week and episode one was hilarious. The David's have adopted a less privileged family who lost their home in a Katrina-like disaster, and hilarity is sure to ensue. I love this show.
Yesterday night, Taryn and I watched the pilot of a new HBO series, "Tell Me You Love Me". It had that HBO seal of approval, so I didn't hesitate to give it an hour of my life. We both enjoyed it, and will be checking out episode two this week, but there was something different about this show... Hmmm, what was it? What was I sure to take note of? Oh yeah, "Tell Me You Love Me" is super graphic.
I'm used to HBO shows with nudity, "Dream On" was good for a few flashes a week, but "Tell Me You Love Me" kicks it up a notch. We're talking full frontal nudity and sex that can't possibly be simulated. There's a little too much sausage for my liking, and graphic acts to completion, if you catch my drift, but the wonderful scenes with Sonya Walger and Michelle Borth made it all worth while.
"Tell Me You Love Me" is worth checking out, just make sure the kids are locked away. And prepare yourself for a little more skin than Tony used to see at the Bada-Bing.
Every day I check in with several blogs and among those I enjoy very much is Toronto Mike.
Mike has a blog that’s usually very warm and fuzzy filled with tons of pop culture and neat stuff about the city we love.
However, the other day Mike had a posting entitled Political Apathy and it made me sad. I'm glad Mike isn't voting Liberal, but it still made me sad.
Mike talked about not really caring about the upcoming provincial election and I wondered how that could be. At the same time, it explained to me how someone like Dalton McGuinty survives.
Personally, given four years of McGuinty lies and deceit I can't see how anyone could "not" be into this election. We owe it to ourselves, our families, our friends and our province to become involved.
At the risk of being lumped in with the majority of people who don't know nor care what is going on in the arena of politics, I feel I should clarify a few things. Firstly, I don't vote for the leader. I know this makes me the exception, but I actually vote for the MPP. In fact, I write quite a bit about the local Parkdale-High Park happenings at www.torontomike.com/politics/, so I'm not nearly as apathetic as you think.
So yes, I'm jaded and bored by the McGuinty ~ Tory war of words, but I do follow the local race closely and take my vote very seriously. That's another thing, I actually vote. That also makes me the exception.
More than 8.9 million accounts have been registered with Second Life, the Internet-based virtual world that gained serious steam about a year ago. That means a whole bunch of us are living as avatars in this other "world". I must confess, I have absolutely no interest in Second Life.
The reason is quite simple. I need more time for my first life, so why would I want to dump spare hours into my second life? Isn't it tough enough to get one's first life right?
You can have your second life. I'm still working on this one.
I just submitted a song for SLS18 consideration. I submitted "Thrash Unreal" by Against Me!. We can't forget that exclamation mark, it's very important. Just ask Yahoo!.
When I hear this song I always think the lyrics should be far more clever than they are. It's written at a fourth grade level, so I feel bad for digging it. It is what it is and I think it's at least worthy of SLS consideration. Have a listen for yourself.
Some pages on this site must die so others may live. With less and less time in my day for blogging I thought about retiring Toronto Mike, but then I realized how much I enjoy this little hobby. I'd like to continue blogging, thank you very much.
As a compromise, I've decided to stop maintaining some pages that are part of this site but outside the blog. I'm no longer adding recently deceased celebrities to the Dead Pool page. If you want to see who's passed away recently, you'll continue to find that information at http://www.torontomike.com/rest_in_peace/.
I've also decided to stop maintaining my pictures page. I'm still sharing dozens and dozens of pictures, you'll just have to mosey on over to my Flickr account to see them. They're nicely tagged and grouped and everything. I'll let Flickr do the heavy lifting so I can focus on the blog.
That's enough cuts for today. Some gave all so Toronto Mike could live. This is the hardest part of the job hobby.
I was searching YouTube for something completely different when I came across this montage of the Canadian National Exhibition in 1990. That was one of three summers I worked there and you can read my stories right here.
Watching this video took me right back. Unfortunately, there are no scenes of my game that summer, Pop-a-Ball, but there was plenty of Bart Simpson who dominated the splashing schemas. I still have the Bart Simpson doll we were giving away as the grand prize.
I rarely weigh myself, but lately my pants have felt looser so I decided to check in to see the effect of six months of running three times a week. I was shocked to see I was down to 152 lbs.
This concerned Taryn. Usually when I'm at my heaviest I come in at about 175 lbs and when I'm in pretty good shape I come in at 165 lbs. I haven't been 152 lbs since grade eleven and it didn't seem right to me. I immediately doubted the result and questioned the quality of our scale. Taryn assured me it was accurate and always gave correct weights. Still, it didn't add up. Even though I'm exercising more I haven't changed my diet and was still eating like a pig. There was no way I was down to 152 lbs.
I planned to weigh myself on another scale to prove to Taryn that our scale was spouting out bullshit, but first I weighed myself again, the very next day, just for the heck of it. Overnight I must have gained 10 lbs, because I was back up to 161 lbs, a weight I could believe.
This scale may be accurate, but the results come back in an LED display. The line in the number six that differentiates it from a five was temporarily burnt out. I was never 152 lbs, I was 162 lbs, as I suspected.
Trooper sang about a three dressed up as a nine. In my house, a six occasionally poses as a five. It's the best diet in town.
We spent most of yesterday in Whitby. For those of you from other parts of the world, Whitby is just a little east of Toronto off the 401. East of Toronto goes like this: Pickering - Ajax - Whitby.
We came for the super grub and hot tub but it eventually evolved (devolved?) into a karaoke contest that would make your ears bleed. Whitby Idol was a bust as I warbled my way through Oasis and Taryn murdered Eleanor Rigby. Ellen nearly saved the day with Olivia Newton John, but it was Olivia Newton John and that made salvation unpossible.
The evidence can be seen in this photoset. Luckily, no recording devices captured the audio.
I've been so busy lately I've fallen behind in my blogging. I wanted to write about Kariya Park, a nice little zen garden I discovered when walking along Burhamthorpe near Square One in Mississauga. I was strolling along, enjoying the sunshine, when I stumbled upon a little oasis tucked away amidst all the concrete and office buildings.
It's called Kariya Park and it was opened in 1992 to commemorate Mississauga's twin city relationship with Kariya City, Japan. It's a tiny park but awfully peaceful and full of soothing and eye pleasing waterfalls, ponds and streams. As you'll see from this photoset, it also has a great deal more. It's been around for fifteen years but it's new to me. What a find!
Right off the bat, I want to thank you guys. Another $35 was donated last night which means as of this minute I've raised $600 in online pledges and another $70 offline. When I set my target at $500 I didn't think I'd make it, so to exceed it by $170 is pretty sweet. Pledges ranged from $5 to $104, and to quote Terry Fox in 1980, "If you've given a dollar, you are part of the Marathon of Hope."
I ran my local Terry Fox Run, which was through High Park. I stretched alongside our MP Peggy Nash and MPP Cheri DiNovo and heard them both speak before Mayor David Miller said a few words and cut the ribbon. The route was only 4.5k which I would have ran, but I was joined by my mom, brother and sister-in-law, so I ended up walking the Terry Fox Run with them.
It was a lot of fun and it felt good to raise $670 for the cause. Even though the run itself is over, I'm still accepting pledges, so it's not too late for you to be a part of the 2007 Marathon of Hope. Click on over here, whip out the credit card and chip in a buck or two. Here's the obligatory photoset from my morning in High Park participating in the 2007 Terry Fox Run.
There are moments in a father's life when he's overwhelmed with pride. This week, I enjoyed such a moment.
James, my five year old, was told explicitly he could be anything he wanted for Halloween this year. It was completely up to him and we'd do our best to make it happen, so long as it wouldn't get us arrested. James thought about it, and then delivered to us his final answer.
James wants to be Darth Vader. Taryn found him a sharp looking outfit at Winners and on October 31 he'll be a dead ringer for the Imperial Commander-in-Chief.
The following entry was presented to me by Easton and I agreed to post it in exchange for some sweet Easton gear. It actually is some good information for those of you loading up on hockey equipment, and in this city, that's just about everybody.
Choosing the right hockey stick can be a daunting task these days. There are more manufacturers offering more models, armed with all sorts of technologies aimed at supporting your game. The following are some key elements to consider when making your choice, regardless of brand or price tag.
Stick Length: When standing, the height of your hockey stick should measure between your chin and nose. This will leave the stick sitting between your collarbone and chin with skates on. As a general rule, forwards will have shorter sticks to allow for stick handling and shooting in tight quarters, while defensemen will use longer sticks to enhance their wingspan and poke-checking ability. Most coaches prefer shorter sticks for young players because it forces the athlete to bend his/her knees when shooting, passing or stick-handling, thereby instilling the basic mechanics and fundamentals of the sport at the onset.
Shaft Flex: There is a tendency to think that a stiffer stick translates to a harder shot. In fact a lower flex can generate a blast if the player can load the stick properly and let the stick do the rest. The key to choosing the right flex is to take into account the player’s height, weight, position and playing style. Remember, a shorter player will likely have to cut down the length of his/her stick, thereby rendering it stiffer. This player needs to choose a softer flex off the rack to offset the effects of shortening a stick/shaft. By the same token, the force generated by a 200 pound player’s shot demands a stiffer shaft for optimal transfer of loaded energy. Last, but not least…playing style. A lightning fast, shifty player like Marian Gaborik will have different stick demands than a player with a cannon for a shot like Brian Rolston or Sheldon Souray. Gaborik’s style necessitates a light, responsive stick that will allow for a quick release while the needs of Rolston or Souray translate to a heavier, more durable stick.
Blade Lie: The lie of a stick refers to the angle at which the shaft relates to the blade (most sticks and blades will have a lie between 5 and 6). The lie factor is the one seemingly trivial element that can truly dial in the performance of a stick for an individual. You can best determine what lie suits your style by examining your game. Are you an upright skater? Do you stickhandle and shoot from near your feet? If so, you’re a likely candidate for a higher lie stick or blade (lie 6). Conversely, if you’re more tilted when skating and stick handling you’d probably be happier and more effective with a lower lie. A surefire way to make certain a lie is right for you is to check the wear lines on the bottom of your blade. What you want is level blade wear between the heel and toe. If most of the wear is concentrated in the toe region, chances are the blade you’ve chosen a lie that is too low for your style. Conversely, if the heel of your blade is taking the brunt of the wear, you need to consider a lower lie.
Blade Curve/Pattern: A player can further customize a stick to his/her playing style by choosing from a slew of pattern options. Generally speaking, a forward will have a smaller paddle to maximize stick handling and a slight loft or open face to the blade, making those top shelf shots a touch more spectacular. Most defensemen will opt for a bigger paddle to help block shots/passes, along with a straight or closed face paddle to keep those point shots low. Blade curves are available in varying degrees of hook (some exceeding the legal ½” limit), originating or focusing in the heel, middle or toe region of the paddle. Players can use personal preference as a guideline for choosing what type of curve or blade silhouette best fits their game. In today’s NHL, most patterns lean towards a slight variance of an open-faced, heel curve with a rounded toe.
Stick Model: Hockey can be an expensive sport, so it’s important to know what a player’s expectations are of a stick when making a choice at retail. The one critical factor to consider is the performance vs. durability of a chosen product. You wouldn’t want to mistake a hefty sticker price for durability, much like you wouldn’t expect a Ferrari to survive a monster truck rally. Again, remember, different products target various styles of play. A finesse player will look for the lightest, most responsive stick he/she can find without much consideration for durability. An aggressive, physical player, however, will instead choose a stick that will hold up to his/her style of play.
Hopefully these different elements will aid in your search for THE hockey stick, although finding perfection is usually a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the ride.
Easton Hockey Product Manager, Sticks
Here in Ontario, the signs have sprouted on our lawns like fall flowers. We must be due for an election or something. Oh yes, we're going to the polls next month to vote for our MPP.
I haven't written about politics in a while because I'm jaded by the whole sport. Last time I voted for an MPP, which wasn't that long ago because we had a by-election last September, I found something I could sink my teeth into. The Radical Reverend Cheri DiNovo won the day making Parkdale-High Park the only riding in Toronto with both an NDP MP and an NDP MPP. With a pseudo NDP mayor, this neck of the woods couldn't be more orange.
Although the race is just getting started, I'm totally bored by the Tory - McGuinty war of words. I find DiNovo far more interesting. Her party doesn't have a prayer, but at least she offers more than a well drafted sound bite.
I just noticed I'm wearing my navy blue Toronto Maple Leafs tee shirt today. I haven't worn it all summer, but I subconsciously threw it on this morning. It's happening again, as it does every year at this time, and I don't think there's any way to stop it.
It's truly unfair. It's like leading lambs to the slaughter. I'm excitedly reading quotes from Paul Maurice as to how we're not only going to make the playoffs this year, but we're going to contend for a Stanley Cup, and for a brief moment I believe him. I'm looking forward to hearing how things go during blue and white mock games and I can't wait to watch an actual preseason game on Tuesday. My team is back, it's a clean slate, and anything can happen, right?
It's too late for me, but there's still hope for my five year old son. I sometimes wonder if I should do him a favour and tell him to root for a team like Detroit, New Jersey or, God forbid, Ottawa. It would be the greatest act of love, saving him from decades of heartbreak. When I'm on my death bed, he'll look into my eyes and thank me, I'm certain.
Nah... the kid already digs the Leafers, and this is our year. Vesa Toskala, lead us to the promised land!
Although I almost never write about it, every Thursday night through each of the last several summers I've played in a recreational slo-pitch league I refer to as "The Beer League". Remember that scene from The Simpsons when Chief Wiggums is being told when to take a drink during the ball game and he pipes up "Hey, I know how to play softball?" That's a fairly accurate description.
Not only is beer consumed during games in this league, but many members of the team actually work for The Beer Store. Coolers full of beer are as necessary as bases, bats and gloves. On some Thursday nights I'm the only member of the team who doesn't partake, teetotaler that I am. I'm also one of the few who plays each game like it matters and actually cares if we win. As hard as it is to believe, others in The Beer League are out on a Thursday night to have fun. Perish the thought.
Tonight was the finals and we came up short, finishing second. That sounds pretty okay until you realize there were only four teams in the league. It may not be as competitive as another league I play in, but I'll still miss it. In this league I'm an all-star shortstop and RBI leader.
Maybe instead of The Beer League we should call it The Bizarro League.
"For Your Consideration" isn't terrible, it's just disappointing. It's disappointing because the previous three films from this group were so much funnier. Of the four, which I'll rank at the end of this review, it's a distant fourth.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few laughs and plenty of smiles, but these guys are better than that. Catherine O'Hara is fantastic, Fred Willard gets most of the laughs and the "Home for Purim" scenes are pretty funny, but this one misses the mark. Here, in order, are the best in the series, according to Toronto Mike.
We all saw it coming. If it wasn't Dubai it would have been Chicago, Tokyo or Guangzhou. For 31 years, just about my entire life on this planet, the CN Tower was the world's tallest free standing structure at 553 metres. The Burj Dubai hotel passed 553 metres overnight, bumping our tower to #2.
Say it loud Toronto and say it proud. We're #2! We're #2! We're #2! We're #2!
The NHL just suspended Mark Bell for 15 regular season games. This ends speculation he'll be reinstated in time for opening night.
This is good for my bet, but bad for Mark Bell. He won't get paid during the suspension and that's serious coin for a guy who make over two million bucks a year. There has to be consequences when you drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, nearly double the legal limit of 0.08.
Speaking of NHL hockey, have you visited the countdown clock lately? There are 21 days, 5 hours, 34 minutes, and 26 seconds left until the regular season opener.
I 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.
Raging Storm's much hyped semi-final series against RobArts Rage was full of unscripted drama, but not because of fireworks on the field. These fireworks were in the sky.
Before the raging storm, we managed to finish game one. We were down early and clawed our way back before giving it up again. Two 8-run innings did us in and we lost 18-15. By the end of this disappointing loss, the rain was falling and it was falling hard.
It felt like more of a typhoon than a rainfall. The rain was blowing down sideways and felt like hail and the sky was full of lightning. The ump called a rain delay but ordered us to stay at the park. We were going to wait this out.
We anxiously waited soaked and cold and the rain eventually did subside allowing us to play game two. We owned game two. Leading wire to wire, we weren't about to end this season. We won 9-3 to tie the series at one but at a park where the lights automatically turn off at 11pm, there was no time for game three. Game three would have to wait.
It all comes down to this. One game to decide who faces the S&M Flyers in the finals with an opportunity to move up to the comp division. We don't have a date yet, but we know our destiny. We have to finish this.
It's 9/11. Forever this date will be known at 9/11. When I learnt our playoff series would take place on September 11, my first thought was "that's 9/11".
Six years after that horrific day, I don't have a great deal more to say about it all. Over the years I've written about it here and there, and back in 2004 I shared my vivid memories of September 11, 2001. Here's that entry.
Ask anyone where they were three years ago today and they'll tell you. 2,749 people were killed in Manhattan, 184 people died in Washington and 40 died in Pennsylvania as a result of the worst act of terrorism ever to take place on North American soil.
I remember that day vividly. I had been working away in front of my PC in the office since 08:30 EST and the day seemed typical. I had a glass of ice water beside me and I had just finished reading and replying to my email. Walter arrived and shared some news he had just heard on his car radio. This is when the day stopped being typical. A plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City.
At that moment, I had no idea it was a large commercial passenger plane that was flown into the tower intentionally. I immediately assumed it was a Cessna that had perhaps flown off course. Still, I found it intriguing and jumped on the web for further details. Soon thereafter, the reality of the situation became apparent. A second plane struck the second tower and this was no accident. About a half hour later a third plane struck the Pentagon and then a fourth plane went down in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The United States of America, our geographical neighbour, was under attack.
Fear. That was the primary emotion throughout the remainder of that day. We had no idea what was going to happen next and nothing felt as secure as it did when I awoke that morning. Nothing would ever again. I made contact with my wife who was pregnant with James at the time and heard through my mom that she and my brothers were okay and that gave me some personal relief. The large news websites were choking on the traffic that morning but I managed to stream a live news feed from CP24 which I stayed glued to. The occurrences and disposition of the day was surreal. So many dead, such devastation, so inhumane, so pointless.
I remember driving home that evening, looking toward the sky and realizing everything was different. I got home and wondered what world would be awaiting our son when he arrived. I felt such sympathy for those who lost loved ones that day and simultaneously felt relief that I wasn't one of them. I wondered if we would ever be able to laugh again and enjoy our freedoms and liberties once more.
We are now three years removed from that fateful day. We're laughing again, we're enjoying life, this nation is abuzz about a semi-final hockey game tonight at the ACC. I'm planning to enjoy a BBQ with my beautiful family who I adore with all my heart and then I'm going to watch the game and see Kid Rock at the Amp. We, as a society, have not only survived but have returned to enjoying this precious life. You can't kill spirit. You can't destroy hope. We've proved this. I can vouch for it.
"That some good can be derived from every event is a better proposition than that everything happens for the best, which it assuredly does not." - James K. Feibleman
Someone posted an entry on the Canadian Writer's Collective blog entitled Monsieur Mugs, the Drama and the Enduring Fame. It's about Mr. Mugs, the sheep dog who taught me to read. Well, the dog didn't teach me to read, but his series of books sure helped.
Anne Chudobiak has similar memories of Mr. Mugs, and she hit the web searching for more. That's when she found me, just about the only guy on the web writing about Mr. Mugs and sharing pictures from the first book in the series.
For Anne and everyone else who fondly remembers Pat and Curt, you're welcome.
Thanks to many of you good people, last night I exceeded my goal of collecting $500 in online pledges for The Terry Fox Run. As of this moment I've raised $520 online and $70 offline, but I'm not finished yet.
I run in 5 days so it's not too late to push me over the $600 mark. The following people are already in my good books.
At The Taste of the Kingsway Festival this weekend, the kids got helium filled balloons. I was sure to tie these balloons down as there's nothing sadder than a kid watching his or her balloon float up to the heavens. There was one exception to this rule and that was the Inner City Angels Balloon Day we had every year in primary school.
I'm pretty sure the Inner City Angels Balloon Day was a Toronto-wide event, it was certainly an annual event at St. Pius X. Once a year we'd raise money for the Inner City Angels by buying and selling helium filled balloons. We'd tag these balloons with contact information and then, all at once, we'd let them go in the school yard. That sight of thousands of different coloured balloons floating away at once was pretty awesome.
The idea was pretty cool. If someone far away found your tagged balloon, they'd possibly write you a letter. Then you'd have bragging rights. I never received a response, but others did from far away places in Ontario and New York State. We'd hear stories about balloons making their way to Europe but that may have been an urban legend.
Looking back, this fund raiser was rather ill-conceived. I'll bet we were responsible for a great amount of littering and who knows how many ducks died chocking on our deflated balloons. You wouldn't get away with such an effort today, but we celebrated it back in my day.
Does anyone know when Balloon Day was killed off? Did anyone ever hear back from the person who found their balloon?
As threatened, I tuned into the MTV Video Music Awards last night. While it's fresh in my mind, and because you're dying to know what I thought, here's my two cents.
The Brit wasn't ready for prime time. Bless her heart, she didn't look bad considering her diet of Doritos and Pepsi, but her lip syncing wasn't even close and her choreography was so safe and boring, my three year old daughter could out dance her. I've seen Britney Spears kill at award shows like this, but last night I just saw her die on stage. It was sad.
The format was a fairly ballsy change for MTV, and it eventually grew on me. I applaud the decision to air more performances and less awards, but many of the "private party" peeks were simply too short. For example, I'd just get into a Foo Fighter's performance and they'd be moving on after about a minute. It was a sweet taste, but it wasn't enough. It was one giant tease after another.
Other than the fact many of the aired performances were too short, it was pretty slick. I'm just sorry they didn't air the Kid Rock vs. Tommy Lee episode. I was rooting for Kid.
American Hardcore had such great footage of Bad Brains rocking out in Washington, DC and New York City, I feel as if I've discovered something great. Of course, Bad Brains has been right under my nose this whole time, and most of you are probably laughing at the fact I'm just discovering them, but it's true.
If you're an uncool cat like me who hasn't heard and seen Bad Brains circa 1979, check out these performances of "Pay to Cum" and "Attitude".
Hear the Nirvana? Hear the RHCP? Hear the Offspring? Me too...
The cool kids always wore tee shirts celebrating bands like Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys or D.O.A. It was a scene I completely missed and never totally understood. The songs seemed to be big walls of noise devoid of melody or hook. I just didn't get it.
This documentary on the hardcore punk scene from 1979 through 1985 does a fantastic job of explaining it all and showing the evolution as it spread East. It's loaded with fantastic footage and great insight. I didn't know much about Bad Brains prior to last night, but I liked what I heard and I know I'll be hunting for more about these hardcore pioneers. To these ears, they were the best of the bunch.
I think I get it now. I'm just sorry I was born too late.
Tonight's the 24th annual MTV Video Music Awards and us crazy canucks can watch it live on CTV at 9pm. For years this was my favourite music awards show of them all. The best artists were always on the bill and the coolest videos for great songs often took home an award or two. Then, I got old.
Today it's for the kids, all about the Justin Timberlakes and Beyonces, but there are still great moments tucked in amidst the crud, like Sarah Silverman's Paris diss last year.
This year I'll be watching for a performances from the Foo Fighters featuring Queens Of The Stone Age member's Josh Homme and Troy Van Leeuwen and System Of A Down's Serj Tankian. That, and some comeback thingy by the Brit. Hey, I'm only human.
Everybody's talking about the Kanye West showdown with 50 Cent on September 11. Everybody should be talking about another grudge match that promises to deliver all the drama you can stomach. We in Raging Storm have a semi-final series against RobArts Rage, that same RobArts Rage that went headhunting in late June.
That entry will take you back to that June 18 double header, but in a nutshell here's what transpired. A member of RobArts Rage took exception to Kic's cheers and drilled a ball into Kic's back. Our bench emptied, this RobArts Rage delinquent was kicked out of the game and eventually suspended for a few games, and I've been secretly hoping ever since that we'd run into these guys in the playoffs. On Tuesday night, I get my wish.
We want this one. It's a semi-final series, so we didn't need another reason to get up for these games, but we've got one. What rhymes with bass pickin'?
I'm writing this entry from my front porch. Work bought me a shiny new laptop so this afternoon I picked up a wireless router from Future Shop and just set her up. That's right, I'm a little late to the wireless party, but better late than never.
Testing the new network, I decided to play some YouTube clips for Michelle. The first thing that popped into my head was Kids in the Hall, so I played a few skits from that amazing show. You can forget how clever and hilarious that show was if you don't revisit it once in a while.
The Taste of the Kingsway festival has been around for ten years but I don't think I ever went until today. Sure, I made fun of it, but I never made the stroll to that part of Bloor Street to check it out.
It's okay. The kids got on a few rides and we watched a neat magic show by a pirate named Merlin, but after about 90 minutes I had my taste of the Kingsway. I hear The Taste of the Danforth tastes great. I can vouch for the fact The Taste of the Kingsway is less filling.
Today is the city of Toronto's recreation and cultural program registration day for Etobicoke and York districts. That means Daddy has to wake up early to battle other mommies and daddies for a valuable spot in desired courses.
James needs swimming lessons and Michelle is dying to take ballet, so at 6:59am I'm locked and loaded and hammering away at the F5 button. There was a time I would do the same thing for concert tix, but now I do it so Michelle can take ballet. Argh.
The first few minutes are always anxious as I hit that "maximum sessions exceeded" message and can't break through, but eventually I score and grab one of the last remaining spots. Success!
I never liked Troy Glaus as a Blue Jay. It's not that I don't like Troy Glaus, it's that I loved Orlando Hudson at 2nd for the Jays. Orlando Hudson was the best 2nd baseman to play in this city since Roberto Alomar and I hated giving him up for another bat.
It's being reported today that Troy Glaus received both nandrolone and testosterone from a pharmacy in Florida between September 2003 and May 2004. Those are banned substances he allegedly ordered over the internet. We'll see what the fallout of this will be, but something smells rotten.
Not only was the O-Dog selected to this year's All-Star game, but he's batting .294 and still winning Gold Gloves. He'd sure look good in a Blue Jays uniform. Sigh...
I just received this message via my contact form. I've read it three times and for the life of me I can't figure it out.
Does anyone want to take a crack at deciphering this cryptic message? I changed the rogers.com email addy to protect the guilty.
i have listen and lookd at u web site what u play on cable tv and the radio u like q107 but wors cous try too make it up on the nrt [u trying too make up the contueing same old musi]o pluse the long intermission]email me at ************@rogers.com ps i hop i dont listen u all whinning over the radio like u always do make me feel like a bad canadaian when i listen to jack fm u knowe what im talking about come on
That's a direct copy and paste, other than the email address edit. Any help would be appreciated.
I recently inherited a web site that was littered with BOMs. A BOM is a byte-order mark which is the Unicode codepoint U+FEFF, corresponding to the Unicode character 'ZERO WIDTH NON-BREAKING SPACE' (ZWNBSP). To dumb it down a shade, every instance of a BOM displayed like ï»¿ in the web browser. Occasionally IE would suppress these funky characters, but not always, and Firefox was very unforgiving. ï»¿ was everywhere.
It was fun trying to figure out where these guys were and how to prevent them from reappearing. It seems there's a bug when you combine PHP files with the Apache web server and crappy Microsoft text editors. That told me how to prevent the BOM, but how would I delete a character that I couldn't see in my editor?
The solution is a hex editor. In a hex editor, you can see the BOM and therefore delete the BOM. I downloaded this Freeware Hex Editor XVI32, weeded out the nasty buggers, over wrote the BOM-infested PHP files on the server and banned text editors like Microsoft's Expression Web.
I loved Back to the Future. Scratch that, I love Back to the Future. It's as good today as it was when I first saw it back in '85. Whether I'm watching it 22 years ago or today, I take serious issue with the portrayal of cereal in this otherwise fine film.
When they show George McFly at his weakest and nerdiest, he's always eating cereal. The insecure McFly would shovel the cereal into his mouth whereas the confident McFly would eat a "proper" meal. Cereal is treated as a food for nerds. It appears very uncool and I have a big problem with that.
I love cereal. I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Heck, I could do all three in the same day. We have proper dinners now as we set an example for the kids, but prior to their arrival I would sometimes do just that. If I wanted a big bowl of Rice Krispies for dinner, dammit, I'd do it and I'd love it.
George McFly had issues, no doubt about it, but his decision to enjoy cereal at dinner time wasn't one of them. That choice took balls, and for that, I applaud and respect the man.
I just submitted a song for SLS18 consideration. I submitted "Young Leaves" by Attack in Black.
I wasn't sure about this tune at first, but I now think it's at least worthy of consideration. It sounds an awful lot like late 90s Goldfinger to my ears with a tinge of "Flagpole Sitta", but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And besides, these cats are from Welland, Ontario, and that's good for bonus points.
My monthly Google Friends Newsletter tells me I can now embed Google Maps on my website or blog.
There's a new feature on Google Maps that enables you to easily embed
an interactive map on your website or blog just by copying and pasting a snippet of HTML (much in the same way as embeddable YouTube videos work). On Google Maps, pull up the map you want to embed-- it can be a location, a business, a set of driving directions, search results, or a map you've created. Then copy the embed code by clicking "Link to this page," and paste the code into your blog or website. You can create a map using the map-making tools in the My Maps tab and display it on your website using this embed feature. http://maps.google.com.
Here's a test of the feature. Like flickrSLiDR, it's just an iframe. The fun hill is the one on Spring Road approaching Colborne Lodge Dr.
I haven't been my usual perky self these past couple of days, and my walks have suffered. I'm in that grey zone between not feeling 100% and not feeling sick enough to actually miss any work or a run or whatever.
Here are the runs/walks I fit in over the past seven days:
Thursday - 6k walk
Saturday - 8k run
Sunday - 6k run
Wednesday - 2k walk
Wednesday - 6k run
As part of tonight's 6k run we ran up and down the Spring Road hill in High Park three times. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I would have predicted.
I'm a LeafsTV subscriber, so it's no skin off my back, but twenty games is a big chunk of the season. LeafsTV will broadcast eight pre-season games in addition to the 20 regular season games they have. CBC, Sportsnet and TSN will split up the remaining games.
I caved when there were 13 games on LeafsTV. How many Leafs fans are still holding out at 20?
I 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.
Jerry Lewis is still doing that Labor Day telethon thing and yesterday he slipped and uttered the word "faggot". We all remember what befell Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" after he used the same expression.
I don't think I've ever used the word, but I remember shit hitting the fan back in grade 7 because of this other f-word. The assignment was to choose a song and play it for the class. We had to discuss the song meaning and analyze the lyrics. Marc S. chose the most excellent Dire Straits song "Money For Nothing", and you can probably guess where this is going.
"Money For Nothing" has the word faggot in the lyrics not once, not twice but three times. Mr. I flipped his lid and Marc got a verbal lashing in front of the entire class. This same project got Kris in trouble as well as he chose the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere". Mr. I didn't particularly care for that rap fad...
Marc, this one is for you. That little faggot he's a millionaire.
The Waterloo Warriors beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 42-17 yesterday. That was the University of Toronto's 42nd loss in a row, only five away from York's CIAU record for consecutive losses.
You're not going to believe this, but this team used to be good. In fact, I was a student at the University of Toronto when they were the best. I mentioned it before, but in 1993 Mario Sturino was the QB and he led the Varsity Blues to a Yates Cup victory.
Things have deteriorated in my absence, haven't they?
Last month I shook on The Mark Bell Bet. My brother said Mark Bell would score 20 goals for the Leafs next season and I said no way. We've got $50 on the line.
I closed that entry by suggesting it was a kin to taking candy from a baby. Today, the NHL announced Mark Bell has been suspended indefinitely. That has me upgrading my confidence level from "feelin' good" to "spendin' the money".
What exactly does "indefinitely" mean? Is the NHL still thinking about the term of the suspension or are they going to call an audible at some point and just tell us Bell can play? Why couldn't they attached a game value to the ruling?
As sad as it is to admit this, I'm getting used to hearing my favourite tunes exploited to sell products. For a long time I had a serious issue with this and bitched every time an artist sold out. Now I'm okay with it so long as it's a fairly appropriate product and the original recording is used instead of some watered down cover by studio singers. I'm okay with it until I hear "Smells Like Teen Spirit" used in a deodorant commercial or Pearl Jam's "Wash" in a shampoo spot.
I just saw an ad for birth control using a re-worked girly version of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It". I know Dee Snider is an astute business man, but is this the right product and arrangement for his biggest hit? I cringed listening to the thing, and then I called my doctor about alternative oral contraceptives.
The video for "We're Not Gonna Take It" was killer and totally made by Mark Metcalf's performance in the intro as the abusive dad. Metcalf went on to create another stellar character, The Maestro, but here he is in the role that first made him famous.
I just read that Toronto's Boonaa Mohammed finished third at the 5th Annual Toronto International Poetry Slam (TIPS). I took note because the cats name is Boonaa, which sounds a lot like Booner, my long-time nickname. His debut album is even called Boonaafied.
Every once in a while I get an email from someone wondering how they can download the MP3s listed here. Arnaz just asked that question so I thought I'd spell it out for everyone.
For fun, I maintain a list of the 1600+ albums in my personal MP3 collection. As you'll see, you can drill down and see the individual tracks in each album. It's merely a collection of the song titles sorted by album and artist. I'm not actually hosting my collection on the web so there's no way for you to download the songs.
Back in the day when I used to have the guest blog form I received this rather angry guest blog from Bob who was pretty pissed that I'd list songs without hosting the MP3 files for anyone to grab. Here's how I responded back then and the same applies today, except now my collection is 130+ GB.
Bob, Bob, Bob. Don't you realize you'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar? If you had nicely written me and told me what you were looking for, I would have been happy to help you any way I can. Instead, you chose to ball me out because I'm not hosting 30+ GB of copywritten files so ungrateful wastes of time like yourself can drain all of my bandwidth while pleasuring yourselves in the fruits of my labour.
The reason I haven't given this film a score is that I fell asleep about half way through it. Before I dozed off I remember thinking it was just like The Royal Tenenbaums without the wit and comedic elements.
When I'm enjoying a film, I never doze off. 'Nuff said.
Since I worked at the CNE for three years in the late 80s and early 90s, I've only been to the CNE once. I think I simply overdosed on the place, having walked that midway 60 days in a row. Taryn and I went once about ten years ago and we hadn't been back until today.
The Smell The first think I noticed about the CNE was the smell. The Ex has an odour, and it's not necessarily bad, despite what some would say. It's a smell of carnival snacks and food more than anything. The Ex has an odour, and one whiff takes you back to your last visit, even if it's been about a decade.
The Memories For me, walking the CNE brings back a trailer load of memories, many of which I shared here. The configuration has changed a little, and a soccer stadium has been built, but a great deal is exactly as I remember it. The Food Building still has those powdered doughnuts and 99¢ spaghetti, the Polar Express operator is still asking if you wanna go faster and the ring toss is still rigged.
The Ex The Exhibition itself is a little underwhelming. I'm not a midway fan, knowing how foolish you have to be to play the games, and the rides aren't particularly inviting. That leaves you with the buildings, and they're no great shucks either, except for The Food Building, which I thoroughly enjoy. I enjoy the CNE for the sights, sounds, smells and the air show.
The Air Show This was the primary reason we all went to the Ex today. My buddy Humble Howard came through with free passes to the grounds and air show and I've always loved the air show. It was three hours of awesomeness and a total blast. Michelle thought some of the jets were a little loud, but she loved it as did James.
Oh yeah, I had my 10k running clinic at 9:15 and we ran 8k along the lake shore. On a clear sunny day like today, you can't imagine how awesome that was.
Then I raced over to a friends house to help her move. Actually, it's Taryn's friend I helped move, but the word is out I'm a good mover and now I'm screwed. Good dependable movers are as valuable as an honest mechanic. I blitzed the heavy lifting from 10:30 to about noon.
Then, we were due at Walter and Audrey's house for 1:00. A quick shower and trip to the LCBO later, we were there at the stroke of one. The highlight of this most excellent visit was Walter's pond which is remarkable. Words won't do it justice, so I'm sharing a picture of the kids feeding the fish below and you can see more in this photoset.
We're back, the kids are beat and I'm thinking a movie is just what the doctor ordered to close this blur of a day. I'd better get a little rest. Tomorrow we're taking over The Ex.
These are the top searches that referred people to this site in August of 2007. It's strange not seeing "wedding playlist" on this list. I guess the wedding planning goes into a slower gear in August. I just Googled it and I'm still #1.
The debut of "mike boon" and "toronto mike" on this list is indicative of how many visit sites these days. Instead of shooting over to youtube.com, they google youtube and click the first return. Apparently, many of you visit this site by Googling my name or Toronto Mike.
And finally, I'm glad to see "saint ralph soundtrack" make this list. I'm not sure why the volume of searches suddenly increased, but at least when they hit this site they'll get what they're looking for. That's not the case for those Simpsons Hit and Run map seekers.