December 2007 Archives

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Edge 102's Top 102 of 2007

radioMy radio is tuned to 102.1 as I listen to their top 102 countdown of 2007. I can't remember the last December 31 I didn't do this, it's sort of an annual tradition of mine.

This year I'll record the top ten live as I listen. Reload this page every few minutes and you'll get an updated list. When it's done, I'll throw my two cents at the bottom of this entry.

  1. Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
  2. Incubus - Anna Molly
  3. Alexisonfire - Boiled Frogs
  4. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
  5. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer
  6. Linkin Park - What I've Done
  7. Tokyo Police Club - Nature of the Experiment
  8. Rise Against - Prayer Of The Refugee
  9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Snow (Hey Oh)
  10. The Fratellis - Flathead

Only two songs appeared on both this CFNY list and my personal top ten of 2007. There would have been more overlap, but I delisted a few of their picks because the song was released in 2006.

Nothing shocking here. I'm still surprised at how overrated that Finger Eleven song is. I'm not a huge fan of that Chili Pepper song, either. I'm a big fan of 60% of this top ten, including their choice for #1.

Bonus thought: How old is Martin Streek? He's been on the Edge forever. Seriously, I can't remember listening to 102.1 without Streek. He's got to be pushing 60.

That's it for me, I'm logging off for the year... Happy New Year everyone.

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Running Woes

runningI use this site sometimes as a personal bulletin board of sorts. It's a convenient way to document things I'll want to reference later. This is one of those entries so you might want to pass on by.

In my haste to write about my near death experience yesterday, I forgot to throw down a proper running update. On November 17 I hurt my right leg. Until that day I had enjoyed 37 straight weeks of pain free running. I took a week off and tried a short run on November 27. After a couple of km the pain was too intense and I had to walk/hobble the rest of my 6k run. That's when I saw a doctor.

I was told to take anti-inflammatory drugs and rest it for two weeks. Then, if the pain was still there, she'd send me off to physiotherapy. I didn't rest it for two weeks, I rested it for a month. I tried another 6k run yesterday and after 2 km the pain was back. It's alongside my right leg and it becomes impossible to pump my leg into a single stride without severe pain. I can't run more than 2 km right now, which makes it awfully difficult to train for my half marathon in March.

I'll return to the doc to give her the update. It has me totally bummed because I thoroughly enjoyed running and I've got my sights set on a full marathon. I just hope this is something I can figure out and heal before spring.

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Free TTC Tonight

ttcDon't forget Torontonians, the TTC is completely free tonight from midnight to 4 am. Go ahead, get drunk and stupid as you ring in the new year, then leave your car and TTC it home.

The free ride tonight is thanks to Capital One. That's the second time this year a credit card company has stepped up for this city. MasterCard coughed up $160,000 to make sure city ice rinks open in December.

By the way, it's not just the TTC that's free tonight. Transit systems in Mississauga and York Region are also offering free rides starting at 7 pm and running until the systems close in the wee hours of the morning. GO Transit will also be offering free rides starting 7 pm New Year's Eve until service ends.

Have fun tonight, kids. Daddy's staying home and watching more "Arrested Development".

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Canada 4, Denmark 1

Canada HockeyWe finished 3-1 in the preliminary round of the world junior hockey championship after disposing of Denmark 4-1. We're groomed to be disappointed with anything other than perfection in this tournament. Sweden went 4-0 to secure the bye so we've got a quarter-final game against Finland on Wednesday.

Not to look ahead or anything, but a victory against Finland would set up an exciting semi-final rematch against Sweden and a victory there could pit us against our continental rivals. And no, that wouldn't be Mexico.

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What Do We Call This Decade?

calendarYes, 2007 went by awfully quickly, but I'm more concerned with how we're burning through this decade. How can we be hitting 2008 already? Didn't we just say goodbye to the 90s? 2008 is awfully late in this decade and I still don't know what we're calling it.

Do we call this decade the zeros? I don't think so. Is it the oh-oh's? Nah... Do we go old school and call it the aughts? I doubt that'll catch on.

We should name this sucker while we're still in it. In 2011 we're going to want to look back at this decade and it'll need a nickname.

It feels like it's just begun but my calendar suggests it's winding down. Time flies when you're bashing Bush, praising Google and throwing away your incandescent light bulbs.

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My Ten Favourite TV Shows of 2007

tvTelevision got jealous of music after I posted my ten favourite songs of 2007 and demanded fair treatment. I didn't want any trouble and caved immediately.

Here are my ten favourite television shows in 2007. These are shows that aired new episodes during the 2007 calendar year, so shows like "Arrested Development" I revisited in DVD were ineligible.

10. Rescue Me

I watched this show for years until a series of weak episodes caused me to bail. Then, I caught a good episode and came back for the season finale which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was pretty much guaranteed to make this list because I only watched about 12 series all year.

9. Family Guy

Can I lump "Family Guy" in with "American Dad"? This show is good for shits and giggles, and that's not a bad thing.

8. Dexter

Season two of "Dexter" was pretty interesting. I don't know how long this series will go before it gets repetitive, but I hope it has at least two more seasons in it.

7. 30 Rock

I didn't watch a minute of this show during its first season and then I caught a rerun during the summer. I liked what I saw and came back for more. Now I'm a big fan.

6. The Simpsons

Me and the kids appointment view this show every Sunday night. I've been doing that for a couple of decades. You knew this was going to show up on this list somewhere.

5. The Office

"The Office" is my favourite network series. It's plain fun. I still can't believe the Yanks took a brilliant BBC show and made it better.

4. This American Life

There were only six episodes of this documentary series but each one touched me in a profound way. There is no series on television as thought provoking and interesting as this one.

3. Flight of the Conchords

Pure hilarity. It's not only completely hilarious, but the music is great too. Bonus!

2. The Sopranos

Fuggedaboutit. Tony: RIP.

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm

There was something about the dynamic of this season that slayed me. Larry and the Blacks was a perfect blend and Leon stole the show. Get in that ass, Larry!

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My Must See and Hear List

documentationMy mental "must see and hear" list is pretty short. There are two current movies I'm aching to see and one album I'm dying to hear.

I read plenty of movie reviews, even if I rarely catch a film while it's in theatres. There's one movie out there that has been consistently praised by critics like no other. Over and over again I saw "No Country for Old Men" top best of 2007 lists. I already love Coen brothers movies, and I know I'm going to love this one.

The other movie calling my name is "Juno". I love what I've read about "Juno" and think that's a tremendous cast. The CanCon is strong with this one and I'm a babysitter away from checking it out for myself.

On the music front, I keep reading about The National's Boxer. It topped several "best of" lists and Spin says "The National traffic in poignant moments of heartbreak and regret, but pain has rarely sounded so beautiful".

I want to hear that.

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Nerd Trio

wirelessTaryn caught this moment of nerd zen yesterday and snapped a picture.

It's a nerd trifecta.

Nerds!

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Two Feet From Certain Death

diceI went for a run this morning. I almost didn't live to write about it.

While running South on Jane toward Bloor, I had just come to the realization that my leg wasn't better and I wasn't going to make it through the planned 6k. As we passed a store that makes trophies, I started telling tales of all the trophies they made for me during my illustrious primary school public speaking career. That's when we heard the bang.

It seemed to come out of nowhere and it was deafeningly loud. We heard the crash and instinctively ran away from the noise. This two seconds felt like a minute. It all seemed to slow down. I remember looking over my right shoulder to ensure we weren't in an imminent danger. A young man driving a blue sports car had jumped the curb and crashed into newspaper box and then a pole before spiralling onto Jane Street. We were about two feet from this pole when the car, most definitely exceeding the 50k speed limit, smashed into the box, creating that big bang I won't forget anytime soon.

On a bright, dry Sunday morning, there was no reason for the accident other than careless driving. I made sure he was okay and help was called, but I didn't stick around to learn if he'd pass a breathalyser. I was two feet from certain death and I had a run to finish.

There's no moral to this story or epiphany that took place. It's simply a real-life reminder that sometimes you can do everything right and still be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And sometimes you can be awfully lucky.

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Maple Leafs 1, Rangers 6

LeafsWriting these Leafs recaps is usually one of the first things I do the morning after a game. It's past noon and this is the first time I turned on the laptop. That was one ugly game and I don't even feel like recapping it.

It would be easy to blame this atrocity on Red Light Raycroft, but it's not that simple. There are two issues at hand. One is the craptacular effort from this team when Andrew Raycroft is between the pipes and the other is the overwhelming evidence this is simply a shite team in serious need of major surgery.

Why do the Leafs suck with Raycroft in net? Do they play with more passion for Toskala because they trust Tosky to make game-saving stops when necessary? Last night's game was dreadful. When the fifth Rangers goal was scored and Scott Clemmensen made his Leafs debut, I had to turn away. We deserve so much better, which leads to the obvious truth MLSE has to deal with at some point.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, my favourite team since I was old enough to follow the puck, stink. They aren't even good enough to finish in the top eight in the Eastern Conference. As addressed several times on this site (go to my Leafs category if you're sadistic), there's no hope for the future. The present sucks and the past hasn't been much to write home about in over 40 years, so what do we have? We have a mediocre team, a captain who should be traded, a GM without vision and a coach who is proudly underachieving. This team needs an enema.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-16-8
38 points
5th in Northeast
6-1 Loss vs. New York Rangers
4-1 Loss vs. Philadelphia
4-3 OTL vs. New York Islanders
M. Sundin - 43
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 26

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Has Jim Passed Away?

fbofwThe Leaf game was breaking my heart, so I pulled out today's Toronto Star and checked out For Better Or For Worse. The Toronto Star runs the Sunday strip on Saturdays, so this strip hasn't appeared online yet. I could be wrong, but I think Jim just passed away.

Jim was just foreshadowing his imminent demise by suggesting this may have been his last Christmas. Then, surrounded by friends and his loving Iris on New Year's Eve, there's this:

Has Jim Passed Away?

For the record, my wife doesn't think Jim passes in this strip. What make me think he's gone is the look Iris gives him in the second last frame. It's her realizing he's gone while the party sings "and who knows when we'll be all together again". Then, the final frame with Jim in the same peaceful pose and Iris giving him a kiss and silent message "Happy New Year, Jim".

This could easily be Jim having fallen asleep during the party, but wouldn't this make for a wonderful death? I'm hoping Lynn has finally let Elly's dad go.

Is Jim dead or just sleeping?

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Canada 3, Sweden 4

Canada HockeyUp 2-0 in the third, I wasn't just thinking about our 21st win in a row, I was thinking about an unprecedented 3rd shutout in a row, and perhaps going the entire tournament without surrendering a goal. That's when Team Canada turned into the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That Tobias Forsberg goal was a heart breaker. It figures a kid named Forsberg would score the winner that ends our winning streak. We're not, it seems, invincible. I'm glad we discovered this unfortunate fact in round one.

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My Ten Favourite Songs of 2007

musicOh 2007, where have you gone? It seems like only a year ago you showed up, all fresh and new. Now, it's time to say goodbye.

It wasn't easy trying to come up with my ten favourite songs from 2007. I had "Nature of the Experiment" from Tokyo Police Club on here before I realized it was released in 2006. Same for "Lazy Eye" from Silversun Pickups. Then, I had a couple of Arcade Fire tunes on here before I started making cuts. It turns out I like Neon Bible better as an album than a collection of singles.

Here's my 10 favourite songs of 2007 complete with videos so you can hear the great tunes you missed this year.

10. "Flathead" by The Fratellis

9. "1234" by Feist

8. "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn & John

7. "The Last Fight" by Velvet Revolver

6. "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters

5. "Empty Walls" by Serj Tankian

4. "Backed Out On The..." by Kevin Drew

3. "Is There A Ghost" by Band of Horses

2. "Take Me To The Riot" by Stars

1. "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes

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Toronto Doesn't Like Sean Avery

nhlThe New York Daily News has quite the interview with that pest Sean Avery. Asked after practice yesterday whether he was looking forward to visiting Toronto tonight, Avery, who grew up in neighbouring Pickering, Ontario, replied:

No. I never enjoy going to Toronto, really. So all that'll do is motivate me to play better, probably.

Why? Let's see. ... Because I don't enjoy hockey-obsessed Canadians. The exchange is not very good right now. And it's going to cost me a lot of money in tickets for people I don't even like.

How's that for an answer? Would you like me to go on? Nah, I think that's probably enough.

I was at Avery's last game in Toronto when he jawed at Darcy Tucker during the pre-game skate. He's a grade-A jerk. It's probably not worth responding because he gets off on being hated. Obviously, we "hockey-obsessed Canadians" prop up this league and ensure he makes such a fantastic salary. As far as him not liking Toronto, I'm okay with a Pickering boy spouting off against Toronto, in fact, when it's Avery doing the yakking, I take it as a compliment. We don't like him either.

Damn... That asshole threw down the lure and I bit.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"I'll make sure you Christian Fundamentalists control everything by the 21st century!"

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Five Entries of Note from 2007

fiveLooking back at 2007, I wrote a lot of forgettable crapola, but here are five entries of note worthy of a revisit.

The Saint Ralph Soundtrack
Acquiring the Saint Ralph soundtrack became a personal quest. After years of hunting, I became one of the very few to secure a copy of this unreleased album, which includes not one but two studio versions of Gord Downie's "Hallelujah".

My Personal Offline Challenge
The entry above about receiving a copy of the Saint Ralph soundtrack inspired this one. Ralph needed a miracle, so he set out to win the Boston Marathon. I decided I too could run a marathon, even though I had never really run before. The result was a summer of running three times a week. This goal continues as I start my half marathon clinic in February.

Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street to Close
I got a bit of an exclusive on this big local story from my friend in the music distribution business. I have so many memories of Sam's on Yonge Street and it's been such a big part of Toronto's cultural fabric, I hated the idea of it going gently into that goodnight. At least the facade is safe...

The Crocs Conundrum
This entry, like most entries in 2007, was written off the cuff. My wife had bought me a pair of Crocs and I wanted to jot down my struggle with them. In a nutshell, they're comfy but dorky. This entry was linked to from Slate.com resulting in over 10,000 unique visitors in one day and $128 in ad revenue. This entry reminded me that there is money in this hobby if you attract the right eyeballs.

17 and Out: A Toronto Tradition Ends
In the Humble & Fred universe, I'm in a rather unique position. I helped both Humble and Fred with their respective blogs and I'm in regular contact with both. I'm also a big fan of their old radio show on 102.1, so this entry saddened me. Humble & Fred are done, and all we're left with are the memories. Sigh.

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50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007

Link50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007 - I enjoyed this list of the 50 most loathsome people in America. #1 wasn't a surprise at all.

1. George W. Bush

Charges: Is it a civil rights milestone to have a retarded president? Maybe it would be, if he were ever legitimately elected. You can practically hear the whole nation holding its breath, hoping this guy will just fucking leave come January '09 and not declare martial law. Only supporters left are the ones who would worship a fucking turnip if it promised to kill foreigners. Is so clearly not in charge of his own White House that his feeble attempts to define himself as "decider" or "commander guy" are the equivalent of a five-year-old kid sitting on his dad's Harley and saying "vroom vroom!" Has lost so many disgusted staffers that all he's left with are the kids from Jesus Camp. The first president who is so visibly stupid he can say "I didn't know what was in the National Intelligence Estimate until last week" and sound plausible. Inarguably a major criminal and a much greater threat to the future of America than any Muslim terrorist.

Exhibit A: "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."

Sentence: Dismembered, limbs donated to injured veterans.

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Bobby Day and My First Fave

rewindI've had several favourite songs these past few decades. At one point I remember a Duran Duran single being my favourite, then there was Billy Idol, then Guns N' Roses, Public Enemy and Nirvana. My first favourite song, however, as memory serves, was sung by Bobby Day.

In 1958, Bobby Day released what would be his only hit single, "Rockin' Robin". In my youth, I loved music from the 50s and 60s, and "Rockin' Robin" appeared on a compilation cassette I would play over and over and over again. "Rockin' Robin", along with "Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper, was my first favourite song.


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Bad Beard Grower

Beardless WonderI can't grow a decent beard. It grows out, but it's not thick enough to look right. I've never been happy with it and that's why I almost never go more than two days without shaving.

Since I've been hibernating, I'm on my third day of growth. I was just looking at the pictures I took of James and I by the Humber River and it reminded me that I'm still a shitty beard grower. Just once I'd like to be able to grow a full beard but as this picture will attest, it's going to be an ugly journey to that particular destination.

Is there some Dimoxinil-like remedy out there I can lather on my face to make this dream a reality or should I just be glad I've got lots of hair on my head where it matters most?

PC286685

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Hibernation Over

zooI haven't worked since Christmas Eve. From Christmas Eve until this morning, I didn't leave the house. I was hibernating.

A bug of some sort got into our home and both my daughter and wife were sick. I felt under the weather too, feeling really tired and not at all hungry. I was in that mode where I could just sleep and sleep, and since I'm on holidays, there's nothing to prevent me from doing just that.

This morning I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. The girls went to the mall and James and I went on an adventure. We walked to Etienne Brule park where it's gorgeous at this time of year. It's all icy and white and just what I needed to awaken from this hibernation.

PC286689 PC286691 PC286684 PC286687

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Take Me To The Riot

musicOne of my favourite songs of the year is "Take Me To The Riot" from Stars. It's just a great little ditty. Here's the video.

The Stars are responsible for one of my favourite songs of all-time. I don't remember the last time I synced my iPod without including "Your Ex-Lover is Dead". The video is perfect for this time of year, full of ice and snow.

You likely know Stars best from their 2006 hit "Ageless Beauty". That's a great tune, although I prefer The Most Serene Republic Mix. Here's the video for the original.

They'll call Stars a Montreal band, but they were originally formed right here in Toronto. They've got a fantastic sound, don't they?

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Maple Leafs 1, Flyers 4

LeafsPrior to last night's game I read a couple of articles about the excellent timing. The Leafs were running into a slumping team that had lost six in a row. Also, this is a team we have owned, having gone 5-0-1 against them recently. The two points were sitting there, waiting to be taken.

The loss slips us into 12th place in the conference. Vesa Toskala is still nursing a groin injury. Hopefully he's back in net Saturday against the Rangers, although that's likely wishful thinking. I've had enough of Red Light Raycroft.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-15-8
38 points
5th in Northeast
4-1 Loss vs. Philadelphia
4-3 OTL vs. New York Islanders
2-1 Win vs. Florida
M. Sundin - 43
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 26

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Deconstructing SLS18

SLSNow that SLS18 is in the bag, it's time to deconstruct the 20 tunes that made the final cut. How much of SLS18 is CanCon? How many artists are making their first appearance on SLS? Find out the answers to these questions and more below.

  • Canadian Content - 6 (Arcade Fire, Kevin Drew, Matthew Good, illScarlett, Stars & The Weakerthans)
  • Making Their SLS Debut - 9 (Against Me!, Band of Horses, Kevin Drew, Matthew Good, Interpol, The Raveonettes, Serj Tankian, Eddie Vedder & The Weakerthans) (of course, we've heard from Kevin, Matt, Serj and Eddie on SLS before...)
  • Artists That Also Appeared On SLS17 - 7 (Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, IllScarlett, Linkin Park, Queens of the Stone Age, Silversun Pickups & The White Stripes)
  • Providing a Female Voice - 2 (Stars & The Raveonettes)
  • Longest Current SLS Streak - 4 (Arctic Monkeys)
  • Longest SLS Drought Ended - 9 (Radiohead)

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Canada 2, Slovakia 0

Canada HockeyThe Canadian juniors won their 20th in a row in this tournament with another shutout, this time posted by Steve Mason. Kyle Turris, a Phoenix Coyotes prospect playing with the Wisconsin Badgers in the WCHA, scored both goals.

Next up is Sweden on Saturday.

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Ella Fitzgerald - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

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.

Ella Fitzgerald - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

During the summer of 1960, Ella Fitzgerald recorded Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. This song appeared on that album, and seems appropriate at this time. Enjoy some holiday Ella.

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Benazir Bhutto, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBenazir Bhutto was 54. She was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state, twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

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First Sounds in Kitchener

mouseAl just wrote me about First Sounds, a blog written by Derry, a former Deaf Mute who had his life changed by a specialist who did an implant surgery giving him the ability to hear and speak. Al does a far better job describing First Sounds.

Hi Mike,

It's Al, one of your faithful readers and a fellow blogger. I don't normally do this, but I felt compelled to let you know about a blog I've been reading that may interest you. I write about it on my own blog here. The blog is called First Sounds. I feel it's very important that this kid's story be read by as many people as possible. Since your readership is a lot larger than my own, I thought that maybe you could (that is, if you agree with me) direct some readers his way.

Thanks for your time and Happy Holidays.

Al

The blog only has 15 entries thus far, but it's pretty hearty stuff and well written. The author is now dealing with a tumour on the base of his brain stem. He's in Kitchener, Ontario, which is about 100 km west of Toronto for you out-of-towners.

Derry sounds like an awfully brave kid. If you seek perspective, click on through.

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Maple Leafs 3, Islanders 4

LeafsThe Dubie strikes again! Wade Dubielewicz was born in Invermere, BC and I think he hates Toronto. He knocks us down every chance he gets.

Mark Bell scored his second goal as a Leaf. You may recall the $50 Mark Bell bet I have with my brother. Last summer, after we acquired Mark Bell via trade, Ryan predicted he'd score 40 goals in his first season as a Leaf. I was positive he wouldn't score 20 and bet $50 he wouldn't. I didn't think he'd come close.

It was Mark Bell's 22nd game after a 15 game suspension. That puts him on pace for 6 goals this season.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-14-8
38 points
5th in Northeast
4-3 OTL vs. New York Islanders
2-1 Win vs. Florida
2-1 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
M. Sundin - 42
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 25

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Canada 3, Czech Republic 0

Canada HockeyMake that 19 straight wins in this tournament. That's an incredible streak and probably under appreciated at this point. John "The Next One" Tavares led the charge with two goals.

I watched this game and thought it was awfully close. If not for some solid goaltending from Jonathan Bernier, we easily could have been down early. The Canadians face Slovakia on Thursday.

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Early Raycroft Warning System

leafsDanger! Danger! Danger!

Andrew Raycroft will be in net tonight when we play the Islanders. Raycroft last started November 24 in a disastrous 5-1 loss in Phoenix. That's the game that triggered these 41 tears.

My new best friend Vesa Toskala has been 7-2-3 since that game, but he can't play 'em all. Prepare yourselves for the return of Raycroft. I'm calling this the Early Raycroft Warning System. Consider yourselves warned.

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Hello, Mike

tvDid you know 30% of visitors to this site are named Mike? It's true*.

This teaser for the new Knight Rider series with home boy Will Arnett as the voice of KITT is for that 30%.

* Not necessarily true.

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My Favourite Boxing Day Tradition

Hockey CanadaMy favourite Boxing Day tradition is settling in to watch the Canadian juniors open their World Junior Championship. The World Junior Championships 2008 takes place in the Czech Republic and we play the host team in about 130 minutes.

The Star has a nice summary of players representing the GTA. They are:

STEVE MASON G
Oakville
(London OHL)
Columbus draft pick in '06 (third round) was OHL's goaltender of the year last season, set CHL record for assists by a goalie (13).

P.K. SUBBAN D
Toronto
(Belleville OHL)
Montreal draftee ('07, second round) can get physical but can also score from the point on the PP.

STEFAN LEGEIN F
Oakville
(Niagara OHL)
Columbus draftee ('07, second round), can play any kind of game, led OHL in short-handed goals last season with nine.

STEVEN STAMKOS F
Unionville
(Sarnia OHL)
Draft-eligible in '08, Markham minor hockey product has great wheels and plays well at both ends.

JOHN TAVARES F
Oakville
(Oshawa OHL)
Draft-eligible in '09, the Marlboros minor hockey product won OHL and CHL player-of-the-year honours last season.

SHAWN MATTHIAS F
Mississauga
(Belleville OHL)
Taken by Detroit ('07, second round) then traded to Florida for Todd Bertuzzi last February, is big and skates well.

MATT HALISCHUK F
Mississauga
(Kitchener OHL)
New Jersey draftee ('06, fourth round) makes his international debut; is an excellent two-way player and penalty killer.

WAYNE SIMMONDS F
Pickering
(Soo, OHL)
Los Angeles draftee ('07, second round) isn't the prettiest of skaters but has good hands and a nose for the net.

We're on quite the role having won the past three championships. We've also won 18 games in a row in this tournament, and we almost swept that Summit Series redux thing against Russia in September.

Go Canada Go!

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Our Wiiview

wiiBoth kids got awfully spoiled yesterday. James got Transformers and Hot Wheels while Michelle got Baby Alive and Cinderella. As I sit here on Boxing Day, fresh from nine rounds of golf with James, it's pretty clear which present will bring the most joy to this household. That would be the Nintendo Wii.

As I've written before, I haven't owned a game console since the Super Nintendo, so I'm not what you kids would call a gamer. This Wii, however, is completely different. I set it up in minutes yesterday, and I even connected it to our wireless access point. With the Internet connection, it's not only a gaming console, it's an up-to-date weather and news channel that I control. There's even a version of the Opera web browser for this sucker I have to install so I can surf the web on this thing. Oh yeah, it plays video games as well.

We've been playing a lot of tennis, baseball and golf. James and I love playing the golf. Michelle is a little young to get into it all, but she has fun trying to bat in baseball and she seemed to enjoy bowling.

Here's a photoset from our Christmas. This being Boxing Day and all, it's time I tried the WiiSports boxing...

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Merry Christmas

xmasSanta came. I've set up the Wii and I'm loving it. We're all loving it, but I'm really loving it. Everyone is coming over for food and drink so I wanted to pop online quickly and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

So Merry Christmas!

Michelle and James

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Oscar Peterson, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumOscar Peterson was 82. He was the the Canadian known globally as one of the most spectacularly talented musicians ever to play jazz piano.

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Lordy, Lordy, It's My Christmas Top Forty

christmas musicI've got a little thing for lists. I'll throw anything in a list. Top ten movies with a geographic location in the title, best songs written by a Canadian citizen while living in England, greatest top ten lists ever, you get the idea.

This is prime time for hanging with friends and family, so you really shouldn't be reading this. Turn off the computer, will ya? In case you are taking a few minutes out of your Christmas Eve to check things out @ torontomike.com, here are my forty favourite Christmas songs. Happy Christmas Eve, everyone.

  1. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
  2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
  3. Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  4. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
  5. Baby It's Cold Outside - Ray Charles with Betty Carter
  6. Peace On Earth & Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie & Bing Crosby
  7. O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  8. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band With The Harlem Community Choir
  9. Christmas Time Is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  10. The First Noel - Crash Test Dummies
  11. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
  12. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Nat King Cole
  13. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
  14. Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin and the Chipmunks
  15. Jingle Bells - Barenaked Ladies
  16. You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft
  17. O Holy Night - John McDermott
  18. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Coldplay
  19. Christmas Night In Harlem - Louis Armstrong
  20. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin
  21. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings - Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan
  22. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Bing Crosby
  23. Let Me Sleep - Pearl Jam
  24. Christmas at the Zoo - The Flaming Lips
  25. Green Christmas - Barenaked Ladies
  26. Zat You Santa Claus? - Louis Armstrong
  27. Merry Christmas, Baby - Otis Redding
  28. Song For A Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan
  29. Mary Had A Baby - Bruce Cockburn
  30. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - U2
  31. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  32. Welcome Christmas - The Whos of Whoville
  33. Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over - Jack White
  34. Ave Maria - Sarah Brightman
  35. That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! - Sufjan Stevens
  36. We Three Kings - Reverend Horton Heat
  37. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
  38. Twelve Days of Christmas - Bob & Doug McKenzie
  39. Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern) - Drunken Boat
  40. Thank God It's Christmas - Queen

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NORAD Tracks Santa 2007

linksI wonder what a traffic chart for noradsanta.org would look like? For 11 months of the year it would be pretty dead, then for the month of December traffic would increase with a massive spike on December 24th.

If you want to track Santa's journey across the world today, you can't beat NORAD Tracks Santa 2007. The dude's been busy, having just hit Broome, Australia.

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SLS18 Unveiled

slsIt is with great privilege and honour that I unveil to you the final song list for SLS18. For an SLS primer, go here and to see what appeared on SLS17, go here.

We listened to hours and hours of new rock before deciding upon these 20 tracks. Without further ado, I give you SLS18.

  1. Stars - Take Me To The Riot
  2. Serj Tankian - Empty Walls
  3. Band of Horses - Is There A Ghost
  4. Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
  5. Kevin Drew - Backed Out On The...
  6. The Weakerthans - Civil Twilight
  7. Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun
  8. Foo Fighters - The Pretender
  9. The Raveonettes - Aly, Walk With Me
  10. The White Stripes - You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)
  11. Velvet Revolver - The Last Fight
  12. Interpol - The Heinrich Maneuver
  13. Queens of the Stone Age - 3's and 7's
  14. Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker
  15. Ill Scarlett - Nothing Special
  16. Linkin Park - Bleed it Out
  17. Matthew Good - Born Losers
  18. Radiohead - Bodysnatchers
  19. Silversun Pickups - Well Thought Out Twinkles
  20. Against Me! - Thrash Unreal

I just updated The Complete SLS Database. Look for SLS19 in late June, 2008.

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Happy Festivus 2007 To All!

FestivusHappy Festivus everyone! For those who don't know what Festivus is, I've summarized it below in 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 Morning After Chill

familyIgnorance might be bliss, but knowing is half the battle. I just wrote about the agreement I struck with my wife yesterday and already we're coming to our senses. We'll call this the morning after chill.

The pros of having a third child:

  • children are awesome
  • another person to love and care for
  • the more, the merrier

The cons of having a third child:

  • they're expensive
  • the early years are a lot of work
  • a third child creates a middle child
  • adding a third theoretically diverts focus and attention from the first two
  • if it ain't broken, don't fix it

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel awfully blessed. I'm in love with both my son and daughter and I'm very comfortable stopping with my millionaires family. I could go for three, but I think life would be easier and just as fulfilling if I stopped at two.

My wife sees my point. I don't think she'll hold me to my six month promise. When you're presented with fantastic art work like this on a daily basis, life isn't going to get any better.

PC236616

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The Pretenders - 2000 Miles

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 Pretenders - 2000 Miles
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

It's strange but my favourite songs at this time of year are melancholy Christmas songs. It's a happy time, but I just prefer melancholy songs in general, and Christmas songs are no exception. For my money, nothing says Christmas like Chrissie Hynde tailing off with "I can hear people singing, it must be Christmastime..."

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Maple Leafs 2, Panthers 1

LeafsThe Leafs haven't had much luck this road trip. Vesa Toskala, or Tosky as I like to call him, has been brilliant, but goals have been few and far between. We keep getting caught from behind, as we were yesterday, but this time we found a way to win.

Pavel Kubina scored the winner as we moved into a tie for 8th in the East. Don't celebrate too early Leaf fans, we've got games in hand on most of the conference.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
15-14-7
37 points
5th in Northeast
2-1 Win vs. Florida
2-1 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
3-2 OTL vs. Carolina
M. Sundin - 42
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 25

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12 Days of Christmas

christmasI've never liked "The Twelve Days of Christmas". It's so repetitive I'm usually bored by the third day. Bob and Doug's 12 beers of Christmas is fun, but is there a version of the proper song that isn't terribly boring?

I say there's one. This is John Denver singing with The Muppets and it's the one entertaining version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

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Gingerbread House for Dummies

foodWe bought this gingerbread house kit at the grocery story that seemed easy enough. It came with ready-made icing and all the pieces. There was even instructions. How could we fail?

It was easy enough to put together, but decorating it was a challenge. James wanted it to look like the picture on the box, and that wasn't going to happen. I've never been very good at arts and crafts.

I documented the gingerbread house for dummies experience in this photoset. The end result isn't quite what we expected, but I'm pretty sure it's edible.

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Ignorance Is Bliss, Either Way

babyBack in September I wrote about negotiations discussions I was having with my wife. She wanted a third child and I was pretty sure I was done. I've got the two best kids in the world and I'm not feeling an urge to do it all again.

Today, with my mom by for some wine and holiday cheer, the topic came up again. It seems to pop up now and then, usually the day after my wife is around a friend's newborn. I had just had an amazing time on the ice with James and then me and the kids attempted to build a ginger bread house (more on that later), so I was feeling a fatherly buzz. During this conversation, my wife and I arrived at a compromise.

She has my explicit permission to stop taking the pill. I don't even want to know if she's taking it or not, I'm cool either way. If she stops taking it, she gets six months without it. If I slip one by the goalie during this period, I'll be very happy. If I don't, I'll be very happy. It's a can't lose scenario.

This agreement came with one caveat. I don't want to hear any more about a third baby unless she's showing me a positive pregnancy test at some point. Now back to my Leafs game. We're up 1-0 in the first.

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It's the End of the World As We Know It

usaI just shared Dubya's great cover of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", and now I see the President of the United States of America is at it again.

This time Dubya's taking on R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)". He does a pretty good job, too.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"We have a great life here in Alaska, and we're never going back to America again!"

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Blogging for the Fun of It

documentationAlmost a full year ago, I declared blogging was going to be all about me in 2007. I was only going to write about what I wanted to write about. I was going to write the same content whether 40 people were reading or 40,000 people were reading.

I think I did just that. Blogging was fun again in 2007. It felt as if I blogged less in 2007, so I extracted some metrics to learn if that was in fact the case. It wasn't.

Here are the number of entries for every year this blog has existed.

  • 2007 - 1610
  • 2006 - 1598
  • 2005 - 1640
  • 2004 - 1722
  • 2003 - 369
  • 2002 - 3

As you see, I've already written more entries in 2007 than I did in 2006 and there are still ten days to go. I'll likely surpass the 1640 entries I wrote back in 2005 making this my second most prolific year of blogging. My personal best from 2004 is safe.... for now.

graph

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You Scumbag, You Maggot

videosI shared The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" earlier in the month as a weekly MP3. Normally I only host MP3s for seven days before yanking them, but dammit, this is Christmas, so you can still grab it if you haven't already.

If you can't wait to hear this holiday favourite, the video is below. It's Matt Dillon's greatest role to date.

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Saddest Celebrity Passings of 2007

The Number FiveSaddest celebrity passings of 2007

  1. Honest Ed Mirvish
  2. Don Chevrier
  3. John Majhor
  4. Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto
  5. June Callwood

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Boonie's Angels at SkyDome

baseballThe 2008 'Round the Clock Coed Slo-Pitch Tournament takes place at SkyDome in January. For those only born in the past few years, the SkyDome is that ball park downtown officially named the Rogers Centre. Call it whatever you want, I'm just psyched about playing there.

That's right, my championship winning slo-pitch team, Raging Storm, has been entered to compete. I don't believe I've ever played ball in January, so this should be fun. I know I've never played ball at SkyDome, and that will be very cool.

Another member of the team filled out the registration papers and he didn't enter us under our usual moniker. For this tournament, we'll be Boonie's Angels. Another dream come true...

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Maple Leafs 1, Lightning 2

LeafsIt's deja vu all over again. For the second game in a row, we got burned for a goal with less than a minute to play. This time, we were left with no points to show for a solid effort.

On the bright side, we're losing close games and getting good goaltending. Still, these are points we're going to want when April comes around. Hell, these are points we're going to need.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
14-14-7
35 points
Tied for 5th in Northeast
2-1 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
3-2 OTL vs. Carolina
4-1 Loss vs. Montreal
M. Sundin - 40
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 23

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Stephane Dion Sent Me A Card

OttawaWe're having a pretty good discussion about the separation of church and state in the comments of my What Really Matters? entry. After sharing my concern at the overtly religious nature of Dubya's Christmas Card I had a laugh when I came home from work today and found I had received a holiday card from Stephane Dion.

Stephane Dion's card has a picture of his family on the front, with their dog Kyoto, and this text on the inside in both English and French.

From our family to yours, we wish you all the best this holiday season, and health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year.

Stephane, Janine, Jeanne & Kyoto

That's the kind of secular holiday greeting I'd expect from a politician.

Why did I get a card from the next Prime Minister of Canada? Did everyone get one? Did you get one? Am I on some Liberal Party mailing list or is Dion a fan of my Harper bashing?

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Michelle's First Haircut

scissorsMichelle is three and a half years old and today she had her first haircut. James was a little younger when he got his first cut and I'm not surprised Michelle lasted a few months longer. Michelle was bald for the longest time.

The barber gave me a lock of Michelle's hair as a memento. At first I declined the offer, thinking it was kind of creepy to hold onto a lock of hair, but then I changed my mind. What the heck, one day I may be glad I held onto it. Now I sort of wish I had done the same when James got his first haircut.

Here's Michelle's new do.

PC206582

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Peter Puck

hockeyI just watched my first episode of Peter Puck. They just ran it on LeafsTV during the first intermission of tonights Leafs game in Tampa Bay. I remember hearing about Peter Puck as a kid, and I had a Peter Puck colouring book, but I had never caught his little educational series that I recall.

Tonight Peter Puck taught us about icing and offsides. These were created for NBC in the 70s to teach Americans about NHL hockey, but they're great for kids. I can't wait for the next episode.

peterpuck

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Casino Royale

A Movie ReelCasino Royale: 7 out of 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my first James Bond film. It was my wife's first James Bond film as well, so last night two 30-something year olds sat down for their first taste of 007 action.

It was a little long, but pretty good overall. Daniel Craig played a pretty cool cat and Judi Dench was great as usual. I don't have a frame of reference, but I'd guess this was James Bond at his most sensitive. The dude fell hard.

Will I go back and visit previous instalments of the James Bond franchise? Probably not, but I'm glad I finally popped my 007 cherry.

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33 Years and No 007

moviesI know a fair bit about James Bond. It's almost as if I've seen a James Bond film. Truth be told, until yesterday I had never seen a James Bond movie.

This wasn't easy. I had to avoid the following films.

  1. Dr. No (1962)
  2. From Russia With Love (1963)
  3. Goldfinger (1964)
  4. Thunderball (1965)
  5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
  7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
  8. Live and Let Die (1973)
  9. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
  11. Moonraker (1979)
  12. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  13. Never Say Never Again (1983)
  14. Octopussy (1983)
  15. A View to a Kill (1985)
  16. The Living Daylights (1987)
  17. Licence to Kill (1989)
  18. GoldenEye (1995)
  19. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
  20. The World is Not Enough (1999)
  21. Die Another Day (2002)

I wonder if there's another 33 year old movie loving North American male who can make the same claim. I'll bet there's not.

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I'm Sick of Those Sick of Political Correctness

crossI used to rant more on this site. Something would irk me, and I'd ramble on here sharing my two cents with the world. It felt good getting it out there and I'm not sure why I stopped ranting so much. I think things just stopped bugging me.

This, my friends, will be an opinionated rant. It's not a clean point, that is to say, it's a reaction to an overreaction. There will be some dots to connect, so don't even bother reading this until you've had your morning coffee.

When I was young, this was Christmas. It was "Merry Christmas" everywhere. Most Torontonians were Christian and celebrated Christmas, so we called Christmas trees what they were and had Christmas parties and Christmas gatherings. We celebrated the season named for the birth of Jesus Christ.

At some point, this became politically incorrect. After all, those of the Jewish faith don't celebrate Christmas, and many new Canadians aren't Christian and don't celebrate the birth of Christ. The word Christmas was weeded out of the public sphere. It became "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays". "Merry Christmas" stopped appearing in ads for fear of alienating and offending non-Christians. This is how it's been for some time now.

I'm sensing a growing voice from those who feel the pendulum has swung too far in this regard. I sensed this in comments left on this entry I wrote yesterday. Those who celebrate Christmas don't like "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays". They want "Merry Christmas", after all, it is Christmas and the majority of Canadians are Christian. As anonymous just wrote on that entry:

I am so sick of this political correctness! This time of year, the tree represents the wilderness that Mary and Joseph were in, the gifts represent the gifts from the Wisemen etc… this is all about Christmas. The direct translation is Christ’s Mass. Christ the Christian/Catholic leader and the Mass is a celebration of his life. Why do we Christians have to shut-up and give up the true meaning/name. Why do we have to transform and be made to change or be beaten down for the name of our celebration. We do not ask that of any other religious group and we sit back and take it in the name of correctness, and that is just plain wrong. No one seems to have a problem with taking the time off that companies offer in the name of Christmas, or if they work making double or triple time. So if someone wishes you a Merry Christmas that is a blessing not a slap in the face. I see no problem with the card or the message it was from their heart and their belief's and that is what matters, it's not a message that is being forced down anyone throat it's a wonderful shared gift.

I am so sick of people who are sick of political correctness. I'm not the most religious guy, but I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools all of my life. I even went to St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. I'm also totally comfortable with the removal of "Christ" from the public sphere. I don't need to hear "Merry Christmas" in governmental communique, at public school recitals or at company parties. I'm totally fine with "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays".

If you have an issue with this new wave of political correctness craziness, learn to live with it. When you send cards to your friends, you can say "Merry Christmas". When you have a party at your home, you can call it a Christmas party. If you're surrounded by secular holiday greetings understand that it's not all about you. It's about us, and we don't all believe what you believe.

Let's keep religion where it belongs, in our homes and hearts. Outside of our homes and hearts, let's not only be cool with the absence of Christ, let's demand it.

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Snow Removal Machine

musicWhen I listed my favourite "snow" songs the other day, Phil left a comment reminding me about "Snow Removal Machine". "Snow Removal Machine" was Fred Patterson's parody of The Cult's "Love Removal Machine" and was often played at this time of year during the CFNY morning show. I remember it from the Humble & Fred show, but I understand it's older than that.

From Freddie P. himself, "This is the shortened version.. the long original version is on a tape that I can't transfer until I find an old "cart" machine." By the way, we played this during the 17th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas podcast last year. Enjoy.

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What Really Matters?

usaI am not American nor have I ever lived in the United States of America, so I realize how it may be perceived were I to throw stones at our neighbours to the south. Fully understanding that we aren't perfect up here and those living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, a couple of grains of web dust I've absorbed lately have me frightened for my friends in the States.

First I read about Barbara Walters and her concerns about the Christmas card she received from the White House.

“Usually in the past when I have received a Christmas card, it's been 'Happy Holidays' and so on,” said Walters.

But the veteran anchor expressed dismay that President Bush and the First Lady would send out a “religious Christmas card” with a direct Bible verse from the Old Testament printed inside:

“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”

After reading the scriptural message of the card, Walters asked in a critical tone, "Does this also go to agnostics, and atheists, and Muslims?"

"Don't you think it's a little interesting,” continued Walters in her questioning, “that the president of all the people is sending out a religious Christmas card?"

The card, which was paid for by the Republican National Committee, closes: “May the joy of all creation fill your heart this blessed season 2007.”

When did the nation of America and Christianity become so intertwined? America doesn't have an official religion, does it? Does Dubya know this? Aren't there many Americans who are non-Christian?

Then, I saw the ad below from Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is in hot pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination and has clearly decided to focus on the evangelical Dubya voters. Could a political ad be more religious? This scares the shit out of me. Is there any separation of church and state in the USA anymore?

If Huckabee is Bush 2.0, God help us all.

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Crash Test Dummies - The First Noel

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.

Crash Test Dummies - The First Noel
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

I thought I'd go to Winnipeg for this holiday MP3. This one appeared on the compilation A Lump of Coal and features Brad Roberts' standard baritone.

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Maple Leafs 2, Hurricanes 3

LeafsIt would be easy to pin this blown opportunity on Alexei Ponikarovsky. With the Leafs up by a goal with less than a minute to play, the puck was on Poni's stick and all he had to do was shoot it toward an empty Carolina net. Instead, Cory Stillman picked his pocket and the rest is history. We couldn't hold on with a 2-0 lead and only 90 seconds to play in the third.

It would be easy to blame Ponikarovsky, who was also in the box when the winning goal was scored, but it's more likely my fault. I never should have wrote this. I should know better.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
14-13-7
35 points
4th in Northeast
3-2 OTL vs. Carolina
4-1 Loss vs. Montreal
4-0 Win vs. Atlanta
M. Sundin - 40
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 23

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Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart

giftIs there really only a week until Christmas? Holy crap.

Here's a little something from me to you. It's Wham's "Last Christmas". Don't pretend you're not ecstatic.

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Terrific Toskala

hockeyThis could be an entry I regret writing, but with 8:00 remaining in the second period, Vesa Toskala is putting on a show. It's damn fun watching a goalie stand on his head. During the brief Raycroft era, nights like this were few and far between.

He's only faced 15 shots thus far, but many were great opportunities and he came up big every time. When you have confidence in your goalie, it changes your entire approach to the game.

Toskala is terrific.

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Winter Running

runningHaving only taken up running this past March, I've never run during the winter. My plan was to do just that before I was forced to rest a strained muscle. Today, I tried to arrange a run to test things out but nobody was biting.

The vast majority of my running buddies don't run outdoors during the winter. It's not hard to understand why. It's freezing cold out and the streets are filled with snow, ice and slush. They either shift their training indoors or switch to weight training. Where does that leave me?

Sure, I can run alone, but I suck at running alone. What I need is a stop-gap solution until I join the half marathon clinic on February 7, and I need it quick. I've fallen into a comfortable routine that primarily consists of cookies and ice cream.

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Don Chevrier, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumDon Chevrier was 69. He was a popular sports announcer best known as the original television voice of the Toronto Blue Jays.

I haven't thought about Don Chevrier in a while but hearing this news makes me very sad. He was a fixture on Blue Jays telecasts from 1977 to 1997 and that means I spent many an afternoon and night listening to the man's voice while I watched the birds of summer.

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Evan Almighty

A Movie ReelEvan Almighty: 6.5 out of 10.

I would have made a terrible movie reviewer. I watched "Evan Almighty" with the kids and they loved it. The more they loved it, the more I liked it. They transformed a safe and predictable disappointment into a fun 95 minutes.

Evan Baxter is a watered down version of Michael Scott, only he's surrounded by much less interesting characters. Had I watched this alone or in adult company, it's a solid 4.5. Today, however, it's a sweet 6.5.

Yeah, I'm a horrible movie reviewer.

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26 Centimetres of Snow in Autumn

calendarToronto got about 26 centimetres of snow yesterday, which was close to our single-day record for December. The record was set on Dec. 11, 1944, when 28 centimetres fell on the city in 24 hours.

It seemed like more than 26 centimetres, didn't it? The rest of Canada will likely point and laugh when they read and hear what a big deal we made out of this blizzard. I can hear the snide comments from Winnipeg, Moose Jaw, Ottawa and our American friends in Buffalo now. In defense of Toronto, I would like to raise two points.

It's Still Autumn
Winter doesn't begin until Saturday. In my lifetime, there has never been an autumn storm as snowy as this one. By the fourth round of shovelling yesterday, I was running out of places to put snow. With months of cold weather ahead, what the heck will we do during the next snow storm? Should I go outside and start melting the stuff with a hair dryer? We aren't supposed to get 26cm of snow in the fall!

We Don't Get Much Snow
This point is aimed directly at those who live in places like Winnipeg, Moose Jaw, Ottawa and Buffalo. Toronto simply doesn't get that much snow. 26 cm may be just another snow storm in Winnipeg, but it's not just another snow storm here. There's something about our geographic location that shields us from mega snow storms. Nearby locales, like Barrie, Keswick and Buffalo, get buried, but we typically only get a few centimetres. We're not used to this, so it's a bigger deal for us than it would be for you.

This is it for snow-related entries today. I just wanted to get that off my chest. We now return to our regularly scheduled content.

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39 Years of Homer Simpson Time Lapse Video

homerI not only watched The Simpsons last night, I enjoyed The Simpsons last night. Maybe it's nostalgic fumes that are forming rose coloured glasses, but I've enjoyed this entire 19th season thus far. It's still sharp, it's still funny and it's still The Simpsons.

There was a great parody of this popular YouTube video showing photos Noah took of himself every day for 6 years. This one is a time lapse of pictures Homer took of himself every day for 39 years. If you missed it, see it now while YouTube DailyMotion still has it.

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Dan Fogelberg, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumDan Fogelberg was 56. He was the singer-songwriter famed for the soaring vocals and elegant instrumentation of tunes such as "Leader of the Band", "Longer" and "A Love Like This."

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Songs for a Snowy Day: The Best Snow Songs

Snow SongsI just scanned my collection for songs with "snow" in the title. Here are the best of the bunch.

Note the dominance of Canadian artists. This list is 50% CanCon. We write about what we know.

  1. Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  2. What The Snowman Learned About Love - Stars
  3. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Dean Martin
  4. Snowsuit Sound - Sloan
  5. 20 Years of Snow - Regina Spektor
  6. Snowed In - Joel Plaskett Emergency
  7. Snowblind Friend - Steppenwolf
  8. Snowmobile Song - Stompin' Tom Conners
  9. By-Tor and the Snow Dog - Rush
  10. Snowbird - Anne Murray
  11. Footprints in the Snow - Mac Wiseman
  12. On a Snowy Christmas Night - Elvis Presley
  13. Snow (Hey Oh) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  14. Snowmen - Barenaked Ladies
  15. Snow White Queen - Evanescence
  16. Snowblind - Black Sabbath

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Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow

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.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

I've always loved this Nick Cave tune, and today it seems rather appropriate. I don't know if we're getting fifteen feet, but I have officially declared it a snow day.

Enjoy the tune, and stay home if you can.

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Snow Day

snowLast night I tried to watch Saturday Night Live's Best of Chris Farley on Buffalo's WGRZ-TV but they were stealing a good chunk of my 27 inch screen to tell me about all the church functions that were closed due to the imminent snow storm. I wondered to myself, wouldn't it be easier to just make one statement, "Everything in Buffalo is Closed on Sunday"? If you were planning to attend a religious education class this morning, would you really go to WGRZ-TV and watch the scroll until you saw your class was cancelled? If you didn't see it, would you assume it was still a go? I found it awfully distracting during the Matt Foley bit.

Here in the T.Dot we're just entering the heavy phase of this storm. My mom reports that in the next four hours we we'll get another 15cm.

As usual, I had my camera handy and just snapped this shot outside my home. I'm officially declaring a snow day.

Snow Day

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Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 4

LeafsWe didn't just lose a game last night in Montreal, we lost Bryan McCabe for at least six to eight weeks, maybe longer. He broke his left hand in three places. A few weeks ago, I might have sarcastically deemed this a positive, addition by subtraction if you will. But, McCabe's been a lot better lately and seems to have stopped pulling all those boners, so this is a bad break for the team, pardon the pun.

McCabe typically plays almost 30 minutes a game. With him out for a couple of months, it means more Woz and some Kronwall or Stralman. That doesn't improve our playoff chances.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
14-13-6
34 points
4th in Northeast
4-1 Loss vs. Montreal
4-0 Win vs. Atlanta
6-1 Win vs. Tampa Bay
M. Sundin - 40
N. Antropov - 35
J. Blake - 21

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Dubya Covers Lennon's Happy Xmas (War is Over)

USAJohn Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" packs a punch at this time of year, but this cover by George Dubya Bush is even more powerful.

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Michelle and Santa

santaSanta showed up at Michelle's nursery school Christmas party yesterday evening. I was there because watching kids see Santa is pretty sweet. They gaze at him as if he's larger than life, sort of like how I'd look if Eddie Vedder put me on his knee and asked me what I wanted.

Michelle told Santa she wants a Baby Alive. Her message has been consistent. That's what she told me she wanted back when I took notes last month. Rumour has it she won't be disappointed in ten days.

Kids with Santa typically follow the same pattern. At first they're cool with the big guy, because they're little blobs who don't know any better, then they fear him, because he's a white bearded stranger, and making strange with such people is probably a good idea, then they start to accept him again, because they know he'll bring them gifts. That's where both of my kids are at right now. They look at St. Nick as their money ticket. It's a lot like requesting something of the Godfather on the day of his daughter's wedding. It's a very big deal.

PC146549 PC146561 PC146555 PC146570

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Letting Go Of The Past

mouseIn 1995, during the brief period I dated my wife, Taryn bought a Packard Bell computer from the University of Toronto computer store. She paid for it monthly, so I believe it cost us about $400,000 by the time it was all said and done. I say us because we married in January 1996 and this crappy Packard Bell computer with Windows 3.1 was part of the deal.

The PC itself is long gone, but I held onto the monitor. It worked, and I always felt we should have a 2nd monitor on stand by, especially back in the day when monitors were fairly pricey.

This thing sat in our basement forever, and last week I finally threw it out. I didn't even bother giving it to someone because I can't imagine someone being so desperate as to want a 12 year old 15 inch CRT.

Before the sanitary engineers came by to take her away, I snapped a couple of shots. At one point I recall it was an off-white before becoming a lovely tint of yellow.

Farewell Old Friend Out to Pasture

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Winter Storm Warning

snowflakeTorontonians, consider yourselves warned. A near-crippling snow storm with very heavy snow and blowing snow as well as some ice pellets is imminent. I know this because I visited the Weather Network page for Toronto Weather Watches & Warnings.

Cue the Storm Centre Guy, this one could be a lot of fun. I'm standing at the door holding my shovel in anticipation of the great dig. If you aren't prepared yet, read this:

warning

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Maple Leafs 4, Thrashers 0

LeafsVesa Toskala is quickly becoming the most popular guy in town. He's been standing on his head lately and the Leafs are playing with renewed confidence. It's a completely different team out there and a pleasure to watch.

In his past seven starts, Toskala is 6-1. What's most impressive is that Toskala has not allowed more than two goals in any game during the seven-game stretch. It's no wonder we haven't seen that other guy between the pipes.

This is fun. A win tonight and I'll officially label this team a potential 8th seed in the East.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
14-12-6
34 points
4th in Northeast
4-0 Win vs. Atlanta
6-1 Win vs. Tampa Bay
2-1 Loss vs. Boston
M. Sundin - 40
N. Antropov - 34
J. Blake - 21

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"A gun is not a weapon! It's a tool, like a butcher's knife, or a harpoon, or an alligator."

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Black Snake Moan

A Movie ReelBlack Snake Moan: 6.5 out of 10.

Where did Christina Ricci go? You see all of her in this film, but there isn't as much of her as there used to be. Where did the rest of her go?

I found this movie surprisingly watchable. It's got a dirty South flavour to it with good bluesy music and just enough charm to carry you 116 minutes. The only scenes that bored me were those with that N*Sync guy. When it's Ricci and bad mofo Sam Jackson on the screen, it's pretty good.

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Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!

fast forwardThanks to the magic of time travel, I've already seen my kids open their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. This is video of little James and Michelle opening their Nintendo Wii. You might hear Nintendo 64, but I assure you, James is saying Nintendo Wii.

Sure it's an oldie, but it's a goldie.

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When Humour Hurts

googledSometimes I forget that with great power comes great responsibility. As I alluded to yesterday, I've done a number of things intentionally so that I rank highly in Google for topics I write about. Sometimes this isn't such a good thing.

Back in 2004, like many kids who grew up with the Star Wars trilogy, I was anticipating Revenge of the Sith. I wrote this entry I entitled Battered Wife Syndrome. I can have a warped sense of humour at times, and I was drawing a parallel between sufferers of Battered Wife Syndrome and fans of the original Star Wars trilogy. George Lucas had abused me with "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" and I thought it could happen again, but I was going to give him another shot.

At the time I wrote that, it was for a few friends and family members and a smattering of web peeps who visited regularly. That entry is now on the first page when you Google battered wife syndrome and therefore gets lots of traffic from those actually looking for information on the syndrome or looking for help. People in that state don't find my entry particularly funny, in fact, it can be downright painful. Penny Lighthall, a recent commenter on that entry, says it best.

I am appalled that you would equate your disappointment in a movie plot with the extremely serious social problem of spousal abuse by titling this article battered wife syndrome. Can you not imagine how distressed a person trying to find information on this topic would be to come across this in their search and see how little regard you have for their suffering by making light of this problem. Shame on you.

She's right. I've added a comment linking to the battered person syndrome Wikipedia page so those who find my silly little entry can quickly click over for the valuable information they seek.

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My Favourite Old School Raptors

The Number FiveMy favourite old school Toronto Raptors

  1. Damon Stoudamire
  2. Carlos Rogers
  3. Acie Earl
  4. Tracy Murray
  5. Popeye Jones

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Blue Jays Sign David Eckstein

jaysOvershadowed by yesterday's other baseball news was the fact our Blue Jays signed a new starting shortstop. Free-agent shortstop David Eckstein agreed Thursday to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million US. The move will be finalized once the former St. Louis Cardinal passes a physical.

This makes defensive star John McDonald our backup next season. Ecksein is certainly an upgrade at the plate. He batted .309 for the Cardinals last season with three home runs, 31 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases.

It's also worth noting Eckstein has won a couple of World Series. In 2002 he won it all with the Los Angeles Angels and in 2006 he was the World Series MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Is a third World Series imminent? Don't bet on it...

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Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumFloyd Red Crow Westerman was 71. He was a Dakota musician, activist and actor who appeared in "The Doors", "Dances With Wolves", was "Albert Hosteen" on the X-Files and most recently the face of "Lakota" brand topical pain reliever.

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Lost in Translation's Lost Whisper

moviesDo you remember the final scene of Lost in Translation? Bill Murray's character Bob Harris hugs Scarlett Johansson's Charlotte, whispers something in her ear, kisses her and walks away. We can't hear what he whispered. We know it was unscripted, but neither actor nor Sofia Coppola will tell us what was said.

The website Vid22.com has deciphered the lost whisper and this video finally reveals what was said.


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George Bell Wasn't Named In The Mitchell Report

asteriskI've been thinking a lot about the Mitchell Report this evening. A lot of players were named, including some huge names. I've been wondering how I'd feel if George Bell was named.

George Bell retired after the 1993 season and could never have been named in the Mitchell Report, but he was my favourite player growing up. He was my baseball hero, and had I learnt today he cheated, I'd have been crushed.

For many, their George Bell was named in the report. How many idolize Roger Clemens, for example. It's the details about him that most intrigue me. He was getting roids at Skydome and was cheating during his Cy Young seasons here in Toronto. Statistically speaking, those are the two best Blue Jays seasons ever recorded by a starting pitcher. Now I wonder if they shouldn't be wiped from the record book.

On this very blog I've written extensively about Roger Clemens. In the summer of '04 I called him the best pitcher of his generation. I actually think he might be the best pitcher of all time, and now I'm left shaking my head.

Imagine if he was George Bell.

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Movable Type's Freedom

movable typeThis blog is powered by Movable Type. Movable Type is what gives this site its bloggy goodness: comments, trackbacks, RSS, category archives, date archives, and all of that. I've spent a lot of time installing, configuring and optimizing Movable Type for various purposes. Humble's blog runs off of it, Freddie's blog runs off of it, the SLS page runs off of it and Buffalo Boy's new blog runs off of it. I believe in this blogging platform and it just got better.

Movable Type is now open source. As explained on the Movable Type Community Blog, this means we can freely modify, redistribute, and use Movable Type for any purpose we choose. If that wasn't clear enough, here's how they spelt it out in the comments. You can:

  • use it for your business
  • get paid to install it
  • get paid to support it
  • modify it (and release your modifications)
  • rebrand it, modify it, and sell it

This leads nicely to my next point. Now that Movable Type is free for both non-commercial and commercial endeavours, anyone can be managing their own Movable Type powered blog or website with just a little help from a Movable Type expert. That's me. I install the wonderful new version, MT4, configure it, optimize it for SEO, write the XHTML and CSS templates so it looks and feels the way you want it and teach you how to use it. Next thing you know, you're a hero to thousands in cyber space and a guest on CBC RadioOne.

Smooth move Movable Type. I like freedom.

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The Mitchell Report

baseballGeorge Mitchell, a former United States senator and prosecutor, releases his report today following a 20-month investigation into drug use in Major League Baseball. I understand it's going to come out in about 30 minutes.

A couple of big names in the report have already leaked out. ESPN.com reported Brian McNamee, a former trainer for the Yankees and Clemens, told investigators he supplied Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte with steroids and that information is in the report. That's right, the Rocket is named in the Mitchell Report. This is going to be big.

Will there be Blue Jays, other than Troy Glaus, in the report? What other future hall of famers will be named? What next?

Expect this Wikipedia page to contain such names very soon. I'll keep my eye on it. This is going to be interesting.

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The Story of Stuff

moneyIn Fight Club, a most excellent movie I've seen dozens of time, Tyler Durden says "The things you own end up owning you." At this time of year, we all go into zombie mode and accumulate stuff. We're not buying stuff for ourselves necessarily, at least not directly, but we're buying stuff for others and we feel obligated to do so.

I used to own a great deal more stuff than I do now. I went through a minimalistic period in which I started giving stuff away and throwing stuff out. I still have stuff, like an MP3 player, digital camera, and other entertainment-"necessities", but there's very little I need.

Alexi, hockey-poolie and future neighbour, encouraged me to visit The Story of Stuff. "That hippie has opened my eyes", he wrote. "I'll never buy anything again... I'm gonna go punch some industrialists in the face".

It's a whopping 20 minutes, but it's got great animation and it's truly eye opening. We're all about consumption in this culture. Do we really need to consume this much? How do we stop this vicious cycle?

Watch The Story of Stuff and get back here and give me answers. It's American-centric, but it applies here in the Great White North as well. Don't sugar coat it, I want the truth.

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Ike Turner, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumIke Turner was 76. His role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife Tina Turner.

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Humble and Fred Christmas Bumpers

christmasAs promised, here's a bunch of old Christmas bumpers heard on the Humble & Fred Morning Show. Share this link with fans of the show and help make it a Humble and Fred Christmas after all.

Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Let It Snow

Carol of the Bells

Little Town of Bethlehem

Little Drummer Boy

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Three Kings

Three Kings 2

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Heretic Jew

Building A Snowman

Joy To The World

Deck the Halls

Christmas Morning

Holiday Bonus: Norm Spencer Saying "The Humble Report"!

Merry Christmas!

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Don't Do It, J.P.

bluejaysYou've likely heard the rumour that J.P. Ricciardi is talking trade with the San Francisco Giants. The deal on the table is Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum, and that scares the crap out of me.

I realize the importance of pitching and that Lincecum is a solid prospect, but Alex Rios is young, awesome defensively, hits for power and even steals bases. He's still got great upside and was our only all-star last season. He's the kind of player I want to see patrolling right field at the diamond formerly known as Skydome for the next decade.

I know what Rios is and I know he's only getting better. Lincecum is one big maybe. The good news is this deal likely won't happen if the Giants trade for Hideki Matsui to replace Bonds instead. Let's hope that happens.

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The Pogues - Fairytale of New York

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
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

You knew I was going to share this one. I share it every December as it's the tune I dig the most at this time of year. I thought I'd share it now so you have a couple of weeks to enjoy it.

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Aqsa Parvez Tragedy

question markThe juxtaposition is jarring. Tonight I watched my three year old daughter perform a ballet routine. Watching three year olds dance ballet is just about the cutest thing on the face of the earth. With every twirl and every step I beamed with pride. Then, my thoughts turned to Aqsa Parvez.

Aqsa is the 16-year old Mississauga girl allegedly murdered by her father. Reports suggest Aqsa's father was upset she shunned the hijab, a traditional shoulder-length head scarf worn by females in devout Muslim families.

I've never given Michelle a spanking. I've never spanked James, either. I can't imagine what would make a father so angry he'd attack his 16-year old daughter and kill her. I can't comprehend how such a thing could happen. Aqsa never had a chance.

Our children rely on us, look up to us, depend on us. Our duty is to give them every opportunity in this lifetime. We're their advocates, protectors and guides. The Aqsa Parvez tragedy dumbfounds me and saddens me.

I just don't get it...

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Maple Leafs 6, Lightning 1

LeafsWe own the Tampa Bay Lightning. Seriously, they're our beeatch. We kick the crap out of them.

We're 5-1-1 since that pathetic game against the Coyotes. We're putting in a much better effort and actually looking like a team that might contend for a playoff spot. Look for JFJ to be named Executive of the Year.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
13-12-6
32 points
Tied for 3rd in Northeast
6-1 Win vs. Tampa Bay
2-1 Loss vs. Boston
6-2 Win vs. New York Rangers
M. Sundin - 38
N. Antropov - 31
J. Blake - 21

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Bring the Noise

peAfter hearing It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back for the first time, I couldn't believe my ears. I had finally found music that got my heart pumping, my head banging and my mind racing all at once. A standout track on that phenomenal album is "Bring the Noise".

It only took me a few listens to memorize the lyrics and I've never forgotten them. A few years later, while flipping through the channels, I heard that beat again, only it was different. It was rocking hard. It was Public Enemy and Anthrax. It was awesome.

Every time I hear this, I rap along. It came on the radio this weekend and I treated James and Michelle to my Chuck D and Scott Ian. I brought the noize and they loved it.

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1623 Block Rockin' Beats

cdMy MP3 collection is a huge part of my life. It's in good shape right now, but it had a modest beginning. Let's step into the time machine and revisit this entry I wrote four years ago today.

DigitalizationI'm in the process of digitalizing my entire CD collection. Since I left behind good ol' cassette tapes for CDs back in the 80s, I've amassed hundreds of discs and kept them in various CD racks to I could easily access whatever I was in the mood for. Some time last week I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized I needed to digitalize my entire collection.

This is no small task. There was much to consider. What format did I want my songs stored in? Where would I store them? What's an acceptable bit rate? What software would I use to rip my CDs? I decided to rip them as MP3s with a bit rate of 128kbps. I'm using Audiograbber and BladeEnc's MP3 DLL to up the bit rate. I've decided not to rip every CD I own, merely the ones I may actually listen to from time to time. When it comes down to that CD with only one song I like, I'm only ripping the one song. I'm storing the MP3s on my home PC's 40GB hard drive until I save up enough to buy a 2nd hard drive of at least 120 GB that will be used for all my multimedia. If I run out of room before then, I'm going to archive my less frequently listened to tunes on CDRs. Once I've got every CD I care about ripped into MP3 and organized nicely on my new hard drive, I will be finished. With my entire collection digitalized, I can grab what I want for whatever purpose. I envision one day owning a portable MP3 player and even an MP3 player in my car. Until then, it's simple to create an audio CD with the songs I want. As I've written before, the compact disc as a medium is quickly becoming obsolete.

I've been ripping steadily for a few days now and I've only scratched the surface. It's going to be weeks before I'm finished this phase of the project. I've already taken all the CDs off the CD racks in the living room and moved them to the basement. When I'm complete, they will be stored away some place in case I ever require the source material again.

I should have done this long ago. The freedom this gives me is rather liberating. Hey, I want to hear Liberate from Disturbed. It's only a click away...

That was four years ago, but I remember those early ripping days. I ended up upping the bit rate to 192 and I did indeed store away all my CDs. I decided to rip every one of my CDs and then some. I haven't seen them since.

I've neglected the growth of my collection the past few months but I'm looking forward to adding to it over the next few weeks. 1623 albums and counting...

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Mats, We Love You, Now Go!

leafsMats, we need to talk. It's about us. We've been close for over a decade, you're our star and we love you, and it's because I love you that I want you to get out. Go! Jump on the QEW and head West young man.

I know Nik Lidstrom and other Swedish members of the Detroit Red Wings have been in contact with you. I know they want you to join the Red Wings at the trade deadline. I know everything, and it's okay.

I want you to win the cup. You deserve it. You're a team player, loyal to a fault and highly skilled. You're not going to win the Stanley Cup here in Toronto, but you might in Detroit. You'd be a perfect fit there.

I've never cheered for the Red Wings, but if you go there I'll root for them to win it all. Mats, we love you, now go!

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Inner City Angels Balloon Day Update

birthdayA few months ago I wrote about my memories of Inner City Angels Balloon Day. Yesterday, Jane Howard Baker, the Executive Director at Inner City Angels, chimed in with a comment that answered a few of my questions.

Hi Mike,

Inner City Angels halted the balloon race in 1990 (last race was 1989) when the City of Toronto made it illegal to do such a silly thing. Yes it was ill conceived but it brought in a few million dollars for artist visits in inner city schools. Inner City Angels still exists and reaches 10,000 children each year in 100 schools. Our 26 artists deliver some wonderfully innovative programs, working hands on with kids. This is what we have always been about...not balloon races. I joined the Angels in 1993 and have met many balloon race kids now grown up--including accountants, lawyers and bank tellers--who recall their elementary school days letting balloons off in the skies. I received balloon letters back from the US until about 1995.

Today our fundraising comes from smaller events, corporations, government and individuals who remember the balloon race days!

Cheers.

Jane Howard Baker
Executive Director
Inner City Angels

I participated in that last balloon day in 1989. I was in grade 8. Ill conceived, but a hell of a lot of fun.

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The Tree Is Up, The Season May Begin

ChristmasIt's official, the Christmas season has begun. This weekend, several key indicators took place. It can no longer be denied.

  • We put up and decorated our Christmas tree
  • We put up the lights outside
  • We decorated the house with Christmas season artifacts
  • We put a wreath on the door
  • I added a wreath to the TorontoMike.com header

There ya have it. Enjoy the next 16 days.

PC086539

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Red Hot Chili Peppers Signature Song

musicThere's something that hasn't settled well with me since I heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers were suing Showtime over the name "Californication". What I don't get is Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis saying "Californication" is the band's signature song.

"Californication" is a fine song, but does anyone actually consider it to be their signature song? I don't even think people think of it as that album's signature song. I think "Scar Tissue" is the signature song on Californication.

As for RHCP's signature song, most would agree it's "Under the Bridge". I'm not suggesting that's their best song, but I'm pretty sure it's their signature song.

What's Kiedis smoking? And why am I almost a month late with this rant?

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Tipitina's Foundation - O Holy Night

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.

Tipitina's Foundation - O Holy Night
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is long gone now, but there's one gift this show gave us that keeps on giving. Their Christmas show last year featured an awesome jazz rendition of "O Holy Night" by musicians from New Orleans. You've really got to hear this version which has become a holiday staple for me. Enjoy.

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No Pressure, But It's Time to Accomplish Something

CalendarI am 33 years old. I've accomplished a little bit here and there, I've produced a couple of great kids, and I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve, but others have accomplished so much more at this age.

For a dose of humility, check out Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age. Here's what others did at the age of 33.

  • English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "Vindication of the Rights of Women"
  • Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone.
  • Jesus of Nazareth, a moral teacher and faith healer, was executed and eventually became the most renowned religious figure in history.
  • Vaudeville performer Walter Nilsson rode across the United States on an 8 1/2 foot unicycle.
  • Successful merchant Cyrus West Field retired at age 33 to devote himself to laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable.
  • John Knowles published A Separate Peace, which was immediately successful.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his essay, "Nature," encouraging readers to see the miraculous in the common.
  • Vijay-Kumar Solanki realized that he was not a human being having spiritual experiences, but a spiritual being having human experiences, a realization that he says "changed his life forever".
  • Paul Raposo began studying watchmaking.
  • Susan Presley took her ten-year-old son to Jarrell, Texas to help clean up after a tornado so he'd realize it wasn't just a "COOL!" thing he was seeing on TV.
  • Robert Hensel set a world record for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair. Mr. Hensel, who was born with spina bifida, covered a distance of 6.178 miles. He is also an internationally published poet with over 900 publications to date. He has since been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for renowned poets and writers.

I'd better get cracking.

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Maple Leafs 1, Bruins 2

LeafsHad the Leafs won their fifth straight last night, I was going to write the most amazing recap. It was already brewing in my mind when we went up 1-0. It was going to be the perfect blend of appreciation and celebration with just a dash of optimism and a splash of perspective.

It was going to be something very special. Maybe I'll throw it down next time we win five in a row.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
12-12-6
30 points
4th in Northeast
2-1 Loss vs. Boston
6-2 Win vs. New York Rangers
3-1 Win vs. Nashville
M. Sundin - 36
N. Antropov - 29
J. Blake - 20

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A Taste Of Things To Come

christmasA Humble & Fred holiday tradition may be dead and buried, but that doesn't mean Toronto Santa Mike can't dig into his holiday sack of MP3s and throw a whole wack of Humble & Fred holiday-themed jingles at you. I've got lots, and one day next week I'll write a monster entry in which every one of them is playable.

For a taste of things to come, here's one of my personal favourites. This is the Humble & Fred take on Carol of the Bells.

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John Lennon Loved Us

John LennonIt was twenty-seven years ago today that John Lennon was shot four times in the back by Mark Chapman. As my blogging years advance, it becomes harder to write these annual-type entries without repeating myself. As a result, I'm blatantly ripping off this entry I wrote four years ago today.

I was quite young at the time, but I remember a brief discussion in grade one that one of the Beatles had died. I knew the Beatles were famous and that this was a significant event, but only years later would I realize how significant it was.

A brilliant, peaceful man, it's terribly tragic that he'd be murdered at the young age of 40. Without a doubt my favourite Beatle, his songs had the most depth and sounded cooler than any of Paul's. His solo work was awesome as well and he always had a special relationship with the city of Toronto and Canada. He came here in May 1969 promoting world peace, praised Canada as the first nation to embrace his campaign for peace, played his first live performance outside of the Beatles at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival at Varsity Stadium and wrote and recorded "Give Peace A Chance" in Montreal.

Chapman has thus far cheated us of twenty-seven years of John Lennon's music. That really, really sucks.

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Breaking and Entering

A Movie ReelBreaking and Entering: 7 out of 10.

Anthony Minghella took Jude Law from the excellent The Talented Mr. Ripley and Juliette Binoche from the exceptional The English Patient and made this surprisingly fine film. I write "surprisingly" because I had never heard of Breaking and Entering. It somehow flew so far beneath the radar I completely missed it.

It's a sharp looking movie with a cool score and a several pro-Mac statements. There are times when it feels like an ad for Apple. The acting is excellent and Mingella's screenplay is good, although confusing. I'm still not entirely sure where we ended up and what was resolved, but the message is clear. When you score a hot Swede, don't throw her out with the bath water.

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Another Mother Moment

rewindIn the Albert Brooks comedy Mother, Brooks' character moves back home to sleep in his childhood room as he reexamines his life. Lately, as my oldest child progresses through his own childhood, I've been finding myself in several Mother-like situations drenched in surreality. Today was another example of such a moment.

The last time I remember skating was at Rennie Park when I was 12. It was the final game of the season for my team, the CN Towers, and I was going to be moving up a division as a 13 year old. There was body checking in the next division and I wasn't a very big kid, so I decided to hang up my skates and focus on my blossoming ball hockey career.

This morning I found myself at that very same Rennie Park, tightening my new skates as I prepared to take the ice for the first time in twenty years. It was the same old clubhouse, with those change rooms I remember well, and although the actual rink had a face lift recently, it was like getting caught in a time warp. This time though, it wasn't about me, it was about helping James learn how to play hockey.

Most parents opted out of this part of the program, preferring to watch their kids from behind the glass. I was one of four dads to participate and I'm proud to say I didn't fall once. Compared to a bunch of 4-6 year olds, I was actually pretty damn good. I can't wait for next Saturday when I get to do it again.

It wasn't just getting out there on that familiar ice that was fun, it was doing it with my son. The coaches do a great job of instructing, but being there to reinforce points and help James along is pretty awesome. He got #6 and was thrilled when I told him it was one of only two numbers retired by the Leafs.

The time warp strikes regularly these days. I'm already back in the same Beavers lodge, swimming at the same pool and playing hockey at the same old rink. I wonder what's next...

James After the Game

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Imagine

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"I think the saddest day of my life was when I realized I could beat my Dad at most things, and Bart experienced that at the age of four."

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In Praise of the Long Song

cdI discovered this Rolling Stone list after Fameone linked to it. It's the 50 best songs over 7 minutes long, and it's got me thinking...

What are my favourite songs over nine minutes in length? Here are my top ten.

  • In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - Iron Butterfly (17:02)
  • The End - The Doors (11:44)
  • Xanadu - Rush (11:07)
  • Cowgirl In The Sand - Neil Young (10:08)
  • Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (10:08)
  • All I Want Is You - U2 (9:52)
  • Born Slippy - Underworld (9:45)
  • Down By The River - Neil Young (9:20)
  • Jesus Of Suburbia - Green Day (9:08)
  • Tainted Love - Soft Cell (9:01)

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My Favourite Songs With Christmas in the Title

The Number FiveCulled from my collection, my favourite songs with "Christmas" in the title

  1. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
  2. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
  3. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
  4. Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin and the Chipmunks
  5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Coldplay

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Maple Leafs 6, Rangers 2

LeafsIt took eight years, but Nik the Stik finally has another hat trick to throw on his resume. He's already out of my doghouse, and now he has his first three-goal game of the decade.

Watch out Boston... take heed Montreal... we're a-comin'. That's four in a row, believe it or not. Since I publicly declared my sadness, we've secured nine points in five games. I already knew MLSE read these entries, and now I know somebody up there likes me.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
12-11-6
30 points
4th in Northeast
6-2 Win vs. New York Rangers
3-1 Win vs. Nashville
4-2 Win vs. Pittsburgh
M. Sundin - 36
N. Antropov - 29
J. Blake - 19

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1982 Sears Wishbook

giftSomebody scanned 657 pages from a 1982 Sears Christmas Catalogue. I was six years old at the time, and that was precisely the kind of catalogue I'd be handed and asked to circle things I wanted for Christmas. I would have headed straight to this Dukes of Hazard page. I'm pretty sure I asked for and received the Slam Figure-8 Raceway.

In later years, I'd head straight for the electronics section and admire the radios and cassette tape players. The AM/FM transistor radio below would have been right up my alley. In fact, I once wrote about the little blue transistor radio I received around this time.

Check out this guy's effort and enjoy your trip back to 1982. I know I did.

231090809_beb35d2056

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James and Michelle's First Raptors Game

raptorsI rarely buy tickets to sporting events. I buy the odd Blue Jays ticket, but usually when I'm at a live sporting event it's because someone offered me free tix. So when I bought four tickets to last night's Raptors game, it was because the price was right and there was someone special I wanted to see.

The tickets were $15 each, $60 for the four of us. You're tucked away in the Sprite Zone, but I don't mind that one bit. In fact, it's better. The kids are entertained during breaks in the action, Michelle actually won a tee-shirt that James wore throughout the game, and the crowd is young, enthusiastic and sincerely happy to be in the building. If you're taking kids to see the Raptors, I highly recommend the Sprite Zone. It's the best bang for your Toronto sports scene buck.

The atmosphere itself is completely different than that of a Leafs game. The music is hip-hop and R&B, with Kanye instead of Nickelback. The crowd is much younger, less comatose and much less white. My wife, who I've never caught watching the Raptors on television, loves going to Raptor games at the ACC. My daughter keeps her eyes focused on the dinosaur mascot and James was blown away by the whole experience. Raptor games are fun, even when you lose by 13.

And of course, I was there to see Captain Canada, the greatest basketball player this nation has ever produced. Steve Nash didn't disappoint, dishing off a season-high 18 assists while chipping in 10 points. Leandro Barbosa scored the baskets but Nash was everywhere. He was worth every cent of my $15.

Here are pics I took. A good time was had by all.

PC056512 PC056507

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Who Will Score 52?

raptorsThe last time I was at the ACC to see the Raptors face the Phoenix Suns, it was a significant milestone in Toronto Raptor history. It was the first nationally televised game for the Raps, airing on NBC at 12:30 on February 27, 2000. It was also the game Vince Carter scored 51, still a franchise record.

Tonight, I'll be watching the Suns and Raps again. I bought the tickets to see the greatest Canadian basketball player in the history of the sport, but I'm still cheering for a Raptor victory. With Bosh out of the lineup, I wonder who will step it up to set a new franchise mark for points?

Carlos Delfino, this is your night.

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The Annual Ford C. Frick Award Plea

voteFormer Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek is back on the ballot for the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award, given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame for excellence in baseball broadcasting. Cheek, who died at 66 from brain cancer in 2005, is among the 10 finalists for the honour. He called 4,306 consecutive games from 1977 to 2004.

I first lobbied for Tom to win this award in 2005 and then again in 2006. When he was beat out once more, I suggested it was an anti-Canadian bias at work. If Tom Cheek had called games in the United States of America, he'd have won the Ford C. Frick award long ago.

The winner of the Ford C. Frick award will be announced on February 19, 2008. If the weather outside has you feeling cold, warm up with Tom Cheek's greatest hits.

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Vince Guaraldi Trio - O Tannenbaum

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
For the remainder of the month I'm going to share two MP3s a week. I'll post the files every Wednesday and Sunday and they'll all be holiday-themed.

My kids and I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on Monday night and it still rocks. Sure, it's a little over the top with the morality message and it's a tad preachy for my liking, but it's still sweet and sentimental and ideal for this season. The soundtrack is perfect for holiday get togethers.

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Gord Downie and Dallas Green Sing Sleeping Sickness

tragicallyhipCity And Colour, Dallas Green's solo project, is releasing a second album in February entitled Bring Me Your Love.

I'm most interested in hearing "Sleeping Sickness". "Sleeping Sickness" features guest vocals by none other than Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip. The first person to score me a listen wins a Coke.

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Maple Leafs 3, Predators 1

LeafsWasn't Vesa Toskala fantastic? That flurry in the third he handled with grace reminded me of vintage Belfour and Cujo. And did I really see Wade Belak score a goal? That was his first since 2003.

Mats Sundin's assist on Nik Antropov's goal extended his record home-ice points streak from the start of the season to 16. Things feel better in Leafs land since that loss to Phoenix. Of course, this is all part of the annual tease. We'll flirt with a playoff spot, get our hopes up and then miss out by a point. Sigh.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
11-11-6
28 points
4th in Northeast
3-1 Win vs. Nashville
4-2 Win vs. Pittsburgh
4-2 Win vs. Atlanta
M. Sundin - 34
N. Antropov - 26
J. Blake - 19

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17 and Out: A Toronto Tradition Ends

podcastNow that both Humble and Fred have publicly stated it, I can finally write this entry. There will be no 18th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas show. Not on the radio or in podcast form. After 17 years, this annual Toronto tradition has come to an end.

Fans of the show will tell you this streak wasn't really in tact anyway. Back in 1991 Humble was at CKFM-FM while Fred was still at CFNY and in 2005 the show went on without Fred who had been relieved of his duties at Mix 99.9. Still, we all got together for the 18th annual show last December, against all odds, and it felt awfully special.

That's right, I said "we". I was invited to Dan Duran's house that Saturday morning we recorded the podcast and I took a bunch of pictures. Although I've known there would be no 18th Christmas show for some time, I had no idea I was witnessing the end of an era on December 16, 2006. At the time, I assumed we'd be doing it all again in December 2007. I was wrong.

As a fan, this truly sucks. The on-air chemistry between Humble Howard and Freddie P was awesome. They complemented each other so well, and watching them do their thing was like watching a long-time married couple complete each other's sentences. As a fan, I think it stinks that I can't hear another podcast and laugh my ass off.

On a personal level, it saddens me. I've grown quite close to Howard, we chat often about a variety of subjects and hook up whenever possible, and lately I've spent more time chatting with Fred and getting to know him. Both guys are solid citizens with unique talents and it would be a treat to watch them share a mic one more time. I root for both in their post-Humble & Fred careers, but it's tough when you think they're better when they're together. Like a long-time marriage, it's not necessarily forever. They've moved on, and so must we.

As I mentioned last month, I secured a complete backup of the old humbleandfred.com and I'm hosting it for posterity's sake. You can revisit the 17th Annual Christmas Show web page and listen to last year's podcast. You can stream it from that page, subscribe to the podcast or download the MP3. I covered all the bases. Trust me, it's a year old, but it's still hilarious. And now, it's bitter sweet.

Below is me, Bingo Bob, Fred Patterson, Dan Duran, Scary Bald Headed Pete and Humble Howard Glassman after we recorded the 17th and final Humble & Fred Christmas Show on December 16, 2006.

The Gang

For waking me up every weekday morning of the 90s, for making me laugh and for helping me through both high school and university, thanks...

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The SLS18 Home Stretch

slsWe're about to put the 18th edition of SLS to bed and for the first time since we started throwing SLS together I've taken my eye off the prize. The past three months have been insanely busy... I haven't even looked at smellslikesour.com let alone maintained the sucker. Still, the show must go on and SLS18 is due at the end of the month.

If you're wondering what the hell this SLS thing is, this guide answers your FAQs. In a nutshell, we (and we is essentially me, although I let one other dude think he's part of the process) pick 20 songs every six months and bless them as SLS-worthy.

Here are the twenty I'm looking at for SLS18. I'll lay down the final tracks in a few weeks.

  • Against Me! - Thrash Unreal
  • Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
  • Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker
  • Attack in Black - Young Leaves
  • Eddie Vedder - Hard Sun
  • Foo Fighters - The Pretender
  • Ill Scarlett - Nothing Special
  • Interpol - The Heinrich Maneuver
  • Linkin Park - Bleed it Out
  • Matthew Good - Born Losers
  • Queens of the Stone Age - 3's and 7's
  • Radiohead - Bodysnatchers
  • Serj Tankian - Empty Walls
  • Silverchair - Straight Lines
  • Silversun Pickups - Well Thought Out Twinkles
  • Stars - Take Me To The Riot
  • The Weakerthans - Civil Twilight
  • The White Stripes - You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)
  • Velvet Revolver - The Last Fight

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Skates

hockeyI've lived in Toronto all my life and I follow the Leafs closely, but I don't think I've been on ice skates in about fifteen years. I realized this the other day when I signed up my son for a local "Learn to Play Hockey" program. This particular class requires that a parent join the child on the ice as they learn the fundamentals of hockey. Each session is wrapped up with a fun game of hockey.

Our first class is Saturday, and I don't own a pair of skates. I played organized hockey until I was thirteen, and then I got out for some games of shinny at Rennie Park in high school, but I haven't been on the ice since.

I don't think James will be the only one needing practise out there but I'm glad this is happening. I needed a reason to get back out there. It's embarrassing being a Canadian hockey fan who doesn't own ice skates.

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Young Toronto Mike

bluejaysI was just watching Sportsnet following a big Raptors win and they showed footage of the old Blue Jays uniforms as they promoted next year's Flashback Fridays. In the past week alone I've shown you a blind arts student sculpting a likeness of George Bell and MSTRKRFT's Jesse F. Keeler going retro, but tonight I'm going to show you the primary reason I'm on this crusade.

This is a picture of young Toronto Mike when he was wide eyed and innocent. His heart was powered by that logo. When that logo returns, young Toronto Mike will follow.

Ryan and I as Kids

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Blogs in Plain English

mouseThis video does a good job of explaining blogs in plain English. Of course, this is a kin to preaching to the choir, but you might have a friend, co-worker or aunt who just doesn't get it.

It's pretty good, but it needs more cowbell... and RSS.

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Pen Pals

penDid you have a pen pal growing up? I'd always hear about kids maintaining long term long distance relationships with pen pals. They'd exchange birthday wishes, holiday greetings and well wishes over years and years. I always thought this sounded like a great idea.

I never had a pen pal like that but I gave it a shot a few times. In the days before the Internet, pen pals were our Facebook friends. You didn't know them in the real world and they might live far away, but you could follow their lives from a distance and considered them "friends". That's Facebook in slow motion. I wonder if email has killed the pen pal star?

I think I would have made a good pen pal.

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MSTRKRFT's Jesse F. Keeler Goes Retro Too

bluejaysblogTO has a little write up about local boys MSTRKRFT making good. Their entry about MSTRKRFT features a picture of Jesse F. Keeler sporting my favourite Blue Jays logo on his cap.

Add Jesse to the growing list of people begging for a return to the old school Jays logo.

MSTRKRFT

For more Blue Jays logo rants, check out:

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How Free is Now?

mouseThose of you who also frequent torontomike.com know there have been technical issues over there since Thursday. I knew there would be a natural curiosity as to what the heck was going on, so I tried to keep everyone up to date with this posting. Now it's time to tell the rest of the story.

The first sign of trouble was November 29 when CGI scripts at torontomike.com wouldn't execute. To a visitor that just means you can't leave comments. For Fred, that meant he couldn't publish new entries or edit existing ones. I wrote the hosting company to complain about the issue, assuming it was a permissions thing that the hosting company could remedy in seconds, but I was told it was far more serious.

torontomike.com was under attack! The hosting company shut down the CGI scripts and eventually the entire site until we could determine what the cause was or what was being exploited. This is standard practise and I don't judge them for it. I started investigating and wondering who would have motive to instigate a Denial of Service attack and then it occurred to me that Fred writes very opinionated entries daily. He takes a public stand on just about everything, and it's often controversial. It's very likely a number of factions would want torontomike.com offline. Fred's even been threatened for what he's written. An easier question might be "who doesn't want torontomike.com offline?"

When life gives you lemons, it's best to make lemonade, so we took this opportunity to give torontomike.com a new home and update his version of Movable Type to 4. Propagation started yesterday afternoon and by now most of you should be seeing the new site when you hit up torontomike.com.

They say there's freedom of speech on the world wide web, where you can speak your mind, but I'm not sure it's as free as it should be. I suppose we'll soon find out. Fred's back blogging.

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Jill Kicks Cancer's Ass, Labels Me Hero

documentationIn June I wrote about Jill's Squamous Cell Carcinoma with a T2 tumour. Although she recognized me once at an Argos game, I only knew Jill through her comments on this blog and then her own. I followed her fight online as she wrote about the difficult ordeal and today she published a big update.

I am HAPPY to say my fear has been alleviated and as the doctor read the negative results from all tissue samples I cried tears of happiness and joy.

That's great news, but it gets better. In that entry, I'm listed as one of her heroes. I got a partial credit for the cancer ass-kicking. That's pretty damn cool.

It's also pretty damn cool Jewelgurl is on the mend. I miss her comments over here. Someone has to counter-balance the OJ crusade.

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Hello? Is it George Bell You're Looking For?

binocularsThe other day I wrote about the old Blue Jays logo and posted a picture of my favourite Blue Jay of all time, #11 George Bell. This picture of George Bell reminded me of something, but what?

The video for Lionel Richie's "Hello" tells the story of a blind arts student sculpting a likeness of Richie's head. Picture that bust of Richie in your head. Is it Lionel Richie, or did that blind arts student sculpt the likeness of George Bell.

You decide.

george-bell

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The Miyagi Trick

familyWith a five year old and three year old running a muck in the house, there are all sorts of bruises and bumps. Ever since James was a baby, I've treated these injuries in a fashion taught to to me by Mr. Miyagi.

Remember in The Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi heals Daniel's leg with that hand rubbing trick? That's what I do. I get all serious, channel Mr. Miyagi and rub my hands together fast and furiously. Then, I place my warm hands upon the wound and make this ooohm sound. This technique never fails to work and the kids now demand my "Miyagi trick" when they hurt themselves. When I remove my hands, the pain is gone.

Thank you, Mr. Miyagi.

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Serj Tankian's Empty Walls

slsI just submitted a song for SLS18 consideration. I submitted "Empty Walls" by Serj Tankian.

A big System of a Down fan, I wanted more Serj. His solo effort, Elect the Dead, gives me what I asked for, and this single rocks. It's a slam dunk for SLS18 which we'll put to bed in a few weeks.

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Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 2

LeafsMy company's Christmas party was last night and there wasn't a single television in the restaurant. Every so often I pulled out the Blackberry and checked in the Leafs and Raps. It figured I'd miss Mark Bell's first goal as a Leaf. Is it his first of twenty?

Mats Sundin set up Bell's goal, and the assist stretched his point streak from the start of the season to 15, breaking an 83-year-old Toronto record. Babe Dye went 14 games in 1924-25. We'll go for three in a row Tuesday against the Predators.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
10-11-6
26 points
4th in Northeast
4-2 Win vs. Pittsburgh
4-2 Win vs. Atlanta
4-3 SOL vs. Montreal
M. Sundin - 33
N. Antropov - 25
J. Blake - 19

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The Definition of Gamer

nflLike many of you, I've always been a fan of gamers. Gamers are a special breed of athlete. They play with a linebacker's mentality and elevate their game when it matters most. They hustle all the time and never let up. They play through pain and do what it takes to get the job done.

A gamer plays the way Pete Rose played, the way Doug Gilmour played, the way Michael Jordan played. The all-time epitome of a gamer, however, is Brett Favre.

Favre will start against the Raiders next week after he was knocked out of the Packers' 37-27 loss at Dallas with elbow and shoulder injuries. It will be his 250th consecutive start at quarterback, a streak that dates to 1992. If you include playoff games, and we should, the streak will hit 270. That's absolutely incredible, because not only does he play a most targeted position, but he plays it hard, sacrificing his body whenever necessary and he plays it well, accumulating several passing records. Check out the Favre Record Watch.

He's 38 years old, battered and bruised, and can't play forever, but I wish he would. I don't want this ride to stop.

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Shutting it Down

runningI saw a doctor yesterday about my right leg. I had to get a flu shot anyway, so I decided to kill the two birds with one stone.

The doctor doesn't think I'm suffering from anything more than a muscle strain. She prescribed me anti-inflammatory drugs and told me to shut it down for a couple of weeks. Then, if I still can't run without pain, we'll try physiotherapy.

I suppose if I have to take a break from running, this is the time to do it. Forecastfox tells me it's -12° right now.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"In a world gone mad, only a lunatic is truly insane."

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