March 2008 Archives

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Lego Club Member, 1980

toysI was a member of the Lego Club. They sent me a membership card and everything. I loved Lego and would build castles, Star Wars spacecraft and cities galore.

Lego is still everywhere. My son plays Star Wars Lego on our Nintendo Wii. It's the story of Star Wars in Lego form, and it's extremely popular. He's also a member of the Lego Club, only he gets an actual magazine every month or so in the mail. I'm jealous!

Here are classic images recreated in Lego. These pictures blew my mind, but then again, I was a Lego Club member.

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Talking to the Wall Street Journal

newsI was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal today. Reporter Matt Phillips was collecting info for a story he's doing on cassette tapes and how mix tapes compare to today's MP3 playlist. He came across this picture of my old tapes and asked me if I would talk to him about my memories.

I found the timing interesting because just yesterday, at the tail end of a little podcast I was recording with the kids, I told them how I put such things together in the 80s. I told them about the dual cassette deck and the dubbing and all the analog effort and how lucky they were to be living in this easy breezy digital world. Then, this afternoon, I heard something different come out of my mouth when being interviewed by Matt.

I told Matt how much I miss the old cassette deck days when a mix tape meant a lot of rewinding and fast forwarding, practices that are completely foreign to kids today. You had to get to the right spot, time it perfect, and you don't want any noise in front or tagged on the end. It was a lot more work, but somehow it seemed more romantic. It seemed to matter more.

We'll see if Matt's article gets the WSJ's blessing and if I make the cut. It was fun to revisit 1984 regardless.

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Rob Ford Video Hits

cityhallStop the presses. There's late-breaking news from Toronto's City Hall. Rob Ford took offence to something he thought Globe & Mail reporter John Barber said. Apparently, and it's hard to tell from this video, not that it justifies another embarrassing Ford outburst, John Barber called Rob Ford a "fat f*ck".

Here's the video that will go totally viral today in the 416.

I'm not a Rob Ford fan, and I've said as much in this space on numerous occasions, but I totally gave the guy a free pass when he was arrested by Toronto police last week and charged with assault and threatening death. I think I'll just leave the last word to Toronto Life's Philip Preville.

Schadenford: The arrest of Rob Ford, city hall hoser

Poor Rob Ford. If only he’d slept beside a machine all his life like those Orientals from the Orient, he probably wouldn’t be in this pickle. As you surely know by now, Ford was arrested Wednesday on charges of assault and threatening death in a domestic dispute involving his wife. When you heard the news, did you have that weird paradoxical reaction of being simultaneously surprised and not surprised? Shocked and blasé? You know, the kind of vaguely self-aware reaction that would make for a passable media studies paper or maybe, if you’re Lynn Crosbie, another tortured column in the Globe? Because when you think about it, didn’t the latest circus seem inevitable?

I mean, just look at him, right? Here’s a guy who is as unenlightened a hoser as you’ll ever find. Once, at a Leafs game (typical), he got drunk (typical) and belligerent (same), and then made fun of the Green Party (predictable) and Iranians (predictable, and also crass). He opposes speed bumps, and he once said that when cyclists get killed “it’s their own fault.” He has called Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti “Gino-boy,” made some comments about gays and AIDS that were so 1989, and said that “Oriental people work like dogs” and “are slowly taking over.” (He apologized to both Mammoliti and his Asian overlords. The LGBT crowd is still waiting.)

Perhaps, in a meta-analysis kind of way, you considered it some form of poetic justice that someone who has so frequently made recourse to ethnic and cultural stereotypes should himself come to symbolize the worst clichés of his own type—that the fat, white, insensitive, car-commuting suburban conservative WASP should end up being arrested for allegedly abusing his wife. And there’s the rub: if that’s what you’re thinking, then you are engaging in some pretty offensive ethnic caricature, which means you are no better than Rob Ford. Schadenfreude is such a guilty pleasure.

Meanwhile, if you can see past the prejudice, it’s clear that Rob Ford should not resign from council. Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, points out that Ford was given custody of the kids despite the charges. Yesterday morning, AM640 broke the news that Ford had called the police the day before his arrest, to complain about his wife’s irrational behaviour. In other words, the known details of the case don’t conform to type at all. It’s messy and could get messier still. For the moment, the only conclusion to be drawn is that some serious marital difficulties are unfolding in the Ford household—not something to ever wish upon anyone.

Here's more schadenfreude.

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Male Slo-Pitch Player Wanted, Apply Within

baseballMy slo-pitch team Raging Storm just got word that one of our players can't commit this season because of a 12-8 shift he can't shake. That means we need to fill a roster spot asap.

We play in the RSPA, which means diamonds in Mississauga or Etobicoke, and we play once a week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday night. The guy we're replacing was one of our bats, so if you can hit for a little power and don't mind playing the outfield, we need you.

Contact me if you're interested. $118 will cover you for the entire season plus a tournament and you'll get to part of a passionate slo-pitch team.

Who wants to play for Raging Storm this summer?

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Elephant Paints Elephant - Seeing is Believing

paintingAs Marge Simpson would say, now I've seen everything!

And before you call bullshit, this is the real deal. Aristotle once said that elephants were "The beast which passeth all others in wit and mind".

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Family Podcast

podcastIt was chilly today, and the kids and I were looking for a fun little project to tackle together. I thought I'd take my emarketing skillz and apply them at home. And so, the Family Podcast was born.

Originally it was going to be a true podcast, with an RSS feed and everything, but the production values were so poor I just decided to throw in on YouTube. If you're going to do this, I highly recommend you use an actual microphone and not the default internal mic that's built into your laptop.

Very few of you will find this interesting, but this isn't for you. This is for the grandmas and uncles and aunts.

Here's our first Family Podcast. I'll work on the production values and maybe even encourage coherency for round two. Enjoy...


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Where's Andrew Raycroft When You Need Him?

leafsI promise I'll be brief, but something has been eating at me all day and I need to get it off my chest. Why did Vesa Toskala start his 30th game in a row last night?

Think about it, the Leafs are playing for honour now, having been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. Toskala has been great, and he helped make things interesting until this last week, but why not give him a rest and let Andrew Raycroft help us slip just a little in the standings. This is prime Raycroft time.

Mats Sundin is another story. He was so hurt, he had to miss vital games for this team. What's the point in risking a groin tear at this point in the season? We should shut him down because there's absolutely nothing to gain by playing him.

I'd better see Raycroft between the pipes Tuesday night or I'm going to start thinking we don't actually have a plan for future success.

41-Years

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CKVR, Before It Was New and Before It Was A

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

Admittedly, I don't spend much time watching A-Channel. To be honest, I don't think I've watched more than a minute of A-Channel. A-Channel will always be CKVR to me.

CKVR, a CBC affiliate when I was growing up, broadcasts out of Barrie. When that CBC affiliation ended in 1995, CKVR was re-branded The New VR, and it stayed The New VR for a decade, even as jerks like me ridiculed them for it.

As silly as it was for a network to call itself The New VR after ten years, that name was a helluva lot better than A-Channel. I find myself wondering what was wrong with good ol' CKVR. Then again, I haven't watched since I got my fill of "Leave It To Beaver" re-runs in the late 80s.

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Punch Andrews, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumChris "Punch" Andrews was 43. He was a disc jockey heard locally on Newstalk 1010 CFRB, 97.3 EZRock, and 99.9 MIX FM where his show aired on Saturday nights.

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Dith Pran, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumDith Pran was 65. He was the Cambodian-born journalist whose harrowing tale of enslavement and eventual escape from that country's murderous Khmer Rouge revolutionaries in 1979 became the subject of the award-winning film "The Killing Fields."

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Pictures of Toronto During Earth Hour

picturesHere are a few shots of Toronto during Earth Hour last night. Just before 9pm, the meter at the Toronto Hydro control centre hit a low of 2,738 megawatts - 5 per cent below the demand an hour earlier and about 8.7 per cent less than a typical late March Saturday night.

The first two pictures are from the Associated Press and the third, our skyline as seen at 8:27 p.m. on March 29, 2008 compared with how it was seen at 8:19 p.m. on March 26, 2008, is from The Toronto Star.

Toronto EarthHour Toronto3

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Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2

LeafsIt's been a while since games at this point in the season meant butkis. I guess anytime you get to knock Montreal down a peg it's a good thing.

Remember earlier in the season when it looked like Ottawa might set a record for most wins? They got off to an incredible start, but now I see they're only two points out of 8th spot in the conference. Now that's incredible... Incredibly awesome!

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
36-33-10
80 points
11th in Conference
4-2 Win vs. Montreal
4-2 Loss vs. Boston
6-2 Loss vs. Boston
M. Sundin - 78
N. Antropov - 56
T. Kaberle - 52

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How I Spent My First Earth Hour

globeYou can pretty much guess who amongst your friends will embrace Earth Hour and who will poo-poo the whole thing. There are certain people who like to crap on anything of this nature. Sure, it's a marketing ploy and there are probably better solutions to our energy crisis, but I love the idea of Earth Hour and we had a lot of fun at 8pm.

My wife wasn't particularly warm to the idea of Earth Hour, so we agreed she could spend the hour in the bath reading. The compromise was that our house could have one light on, in the bathroom, which probably wasn't a bad idea with a three year old and six year old about. At about 7:58 the kids and I went through the house to ensure all lights were off, I lit a candle and we plopped in my bed for story time.

It was pretty awesome. The flickering flame lit the way as I told tales of Fancy Nancy, Alice the Fairy and dinosaur drummers. I paced myself, paused often for dramatic effect and wrapped up around 8:40. Then, it was time to brush our teeth and a couple of tired souls got tucked in for the night.

I went outside shortly before 9pm and saw very few lights. I can't wait to see photos of downtown as most businesses and all landmarks went dark for the hour. Don't tell me Earth Hour didn't have an impact. I'm starting to think every Saturday could use an Earth Hour.

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Acceptance

runningI had a blast running last year. Last March I took up running and I went out three times a week for seven months, even finishing a few races. I got in great shape, felt fantastic and thought I had discovered a year round activity for the long haul.

As documented on my running page, I hurt myself in late November and eventually got referred to a sports doctor who diagnosed my injury and outlined a treatment program. I was asked to shut it down for six weeks, and I did. I quit dodgeball, stopped running and let myself go for about two months. Starting with last week's slo-pitch tournament, I've started walking again and today I went for a light 4k run.

At the 3k mark the same old symptoms resurfaced. There's tender soreness on the right side of my right leg and the pain is so severe I can't run with it. About four months ago I was running 13k without a problem but now my leg is good for only about 3k before it quits on me.

I've written my therapist who will chat with my doc, but it's almost April and I'm starting to accept the fact I might not be running this summer. I'll play ball twice a week, as my leg doesn't complain about that, and I think I'll polish off my old bike and see how my leg feels about a good ol' fashioned bike ride. I used to bike like crazy, and I used to love it.

Acceptance is key, as I'm losing faith in my ability to heal from whatever it is that ails me.

bikes

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Let's Give Chris Cornell A Little Credit

idolIf you caught American Idol on Tuesday night, you saw David Cook sing Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". It was the best performance of the night and he received a great deal of praise for the arrangement and modern spin on the Thriller classic. The praise was well deserved, but it was directed at the wrong guy.

David Cook's cover of "Billie Jean" was actually a cover of Chris Cornell's cover of "Billie Jean". The arrangement and style was identical to Chris Cornell's, found on his recent solo album Carry On. I found it interesting that Cook didn't mention Cornell's version as he received praise from the judges and few seem to be acknowledging the fact Cook wasn't being that creative with the song.

And it's not like Cornell's cover was obscure. It was a hit, receiving plenty of airplay on our local modern rock station and I even put it on SLS17.

Here's David Cook's performance of "Billie Jean". Enjoy it, just make sure you track down Chris Cornell's version, too. Without Cornell's cover, Cook would have sung something else on Tuesday night.

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Better Than His Old Man

familyIt didn't take James long to demonstrate more artistic talent than his father. James just drew this and it's way better than I could do.

Of course, I wouldn't draw it. I'd spark up Photoshop and go digital. There's something charming about the old school methodology of the kindergarteners.

James' Art

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Tony Fernandez: Four Tours of Duty in Toronto

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

I once put Tony Fernandez at #4 on my favourite Blue Jays position players of all time list but he's #2 on my favourite Murray Eldon announcements list (to be read in your best Murray Eldon). Toooo-neeee Fer-NAN-deeeeezzzzzz.... I can hear it now. We need Murray Eldon now more than ever.

I could write pages and pages about the greatest Blue Jays shortstop in the history of the franchise. His 213 hits in 1986 is still the single season hits record for this team. He's fourth on the career stolen base list. He's the only player I know of to serve four different tours of duty with a Toronto based professional team. He enjoyed his first stint from 1983-1990, came back to help us win a World Series in 1993, played his third stint from 1998-1999 and made one last stop in Toronto in 2001 before retiring. He was welcomed back with open arms each and every time.

I could go on about how his injury in 1987 sparked our greatest collapse or how he was the answer I gave to Mike Wilner when I called his Cable 10 show "Let's Talk Sports", but I'm going to close with the enduring image of #1. I wrote all about that October 5, 1985 Saturday we clinched our first divisional pennant. George Bell made the catch, dropped to his knees and was met by Tony Fernandez, hand extended for a well deserved high five. Here's that picture as it appeared on the cover of the special Drive of '85 insert the Toronto Star printed the next day. It's hard to believe that was almost 23 years ago.

Tony Fernandez

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Virgin Festival 2008 Tickets

ticketstubsAt some point over the past few years, the price of concert tickets in this city jumped. I used to attend plenty of big shows, and it wasn't that long ago that $50 was a pretty expensive ticket. That's changed, especially with festival shows.

Virgin Festival 2008 tickets go on sale tomorrow. The lineup is great, with the Foo Fighters, Oasis, Bloc Party, Paul Weller and others, but the price put me in sticker shock. They want $159 for a two-day ticket.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but I don't have that kind of cabbage in my concert going slush fund. I'm still hearing about the $80 Edgefest 2008 is setting me back and the $118 I'm spending on slo-pitch. Coughing up 200 bones for the Foo and friends isn't an option at this point in my life, and by the time I can afford it, a two day concert on the island will likely be the last thing I'm up for.

If Sir Richard Branson is reading this, I'd love to cover this event free of charge. You just have to send me a couple of tix for the September 6 & 7 weekend. Drop me a line and I'll give you the address where you can send the Virgin Festival 2008 tickets.

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Earth Hour: Five Things You Can Do

The Number FiveFive things you can do for Earth Hour

  1. Sign up for Earth Hour 2008
  2. Get involved and create a bigger, better Earth Hour
  3. Reduce your impact on climate change
  4. Create your own Earth Hour event
  5. Know your footprint and challenge your friends

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Away from Her

A Movie ReelAway from Her: 8 out of 10.

Toronto's Sarah Polley's directorial debut is a winner. "Away from Her" is a poignant tale about Alzheimer’s disease, and Polley's subtle touch and Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie's amazing performances gives it class.

It's also a movie that isn't ashamed to take place in Ontario. It references Paris, Ontario and Brantford, focuses upon a Maple Leafs playoff game and Brant County. It's a Canadian film that succeeds on a global scale, like "The Sweet Hereafter" and "The Barbarian Invasions".

See it.

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Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 4

LeafsThis is the first time since the 1926-28 seasons the Leafs have gone three years without a playoff appearance. Throw in the lockout season, and we haven't been to the big show in four years. Here's my recap of our last playoff game. I opened that entry with "I am 29 years old." By the time this is over, I'll be pushing 40.

In a crazy coincidence, I watched Sarah Polley's excellent Away from Her last night, and that film included scenes from that very same playoff game against the Flyers.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
35-33-10
78 points
12th in Conference
4-2 Loss vs. Boston
6-2 Loss vs. Boston
5-4 Win vs. Ottawa
M. Sundin - 78
N. Antropov - 53
T. Kaberle - 52

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762

mlb762 will be the answer to a common trivia question. That question, of course, is "what's the most home runs hit in a major league career?"

No team will touch Barry Bonds. He's been blacklisted as a steroid user and perjurer. Quite frankly, it looks good on him. He finished last season with 762 career dingers and that's where he'll stay.

I'll have no problem memorizing this number for future editions of Trivial Pursuit as it's the start of my childhood telephone number back in the days before we had to dial the area code for local calls.

Not that he deserves the exposure, but here's more Toronto Mike ramblings about Barry Bonds.

I miss the days when my heroes were disgraced for accepting money from boosters while in college. Those were far more innocent times.

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Dan Duran is 50

radioHumble wrote a nice little piece about Dan Duran today. Dan Duran is 50.

I don't know Dan the way Humble knows Dan, but we are neighbours, our kids go to the same school and I've crashed his home for a few podcasts and software demo recordings.

On Dan's 50th, here's Dan Duran saying "The Humble Report".

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Everything I Knew About Tibet I Learnt From The Beastie Boys

newspaperJust about everything I ever knew about Tibet I learnt from the Beastie Boys. I doubt I'm alone.

I was (and am) a big Beastie Boys fan, and back in 1994 they sampled Tibetan monks on Ill Communication. The Milarepa Fund fund was created to disperse royalties to these monks and in 1996 the first Tibetan Freedom Concert was held. Adam Yauch used his band to support the cause of Tibetan independence and increase awareness and it certainly worked on me.

The recent unrest in Tibet is huge news right now, especially with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing mere months away. As always with events in China, information is difficult to attain and believe. On March 16, for example, the Chinese government says at least 22 people died in Lhasa violence. Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans were killed that day. There's a Wikipedia page tracking the unrest.

As if we needed another reason, this crackdown on Tibet has people considering a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The Polish government has already decided to boycott the opening ceremonies. That's a start.

When I think back to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the overuse of capital punishment, the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, the deadly pollution crisis and the overall suppression and oppression of Chinese citizens, and now this recent Tibet unrest, I hate the idea of rewarding the Communist Party of China with an Olympic Games. Isn't it time we enlightened nations sent a message that these practises aren't acceptable?

And to think all this awareness started with the album that brought us "Sabotage".

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The Rules of the Pool

HockeyWe're only 11 days away from drafting our annual playoff pool. We've got the location set, so if I know you in the real world and you want to join in the fun, drop me a line and I'll set you up.

Even though this pool has existed for over a decade, we've never actually documented the rules. For those of you joining us @ 6pm sharp on April 7th, here are the rules of the pool.

10. No proxies - you must draft your own players.

9. The draft ends when everyone has ten players.

8. A point is a point is a point. The final NHL.com statistics trumps all.

7. In the event of a tie, the poolie with the most players from the Stanley Cup winning team assumes the position. If it's still a tie, the winnings are shared.

6. There is a 2 minute time limit on each pick in the first five rounds and a 3 minute time limit for picks 6-10.

5. Drafting order is determined by drawing numbers from a hat.

4. $20 gets you in. The treasurer needs your money before you're allowed to draw from the hat.

3. There is a full disclosure policy with regards to injuries. If someone knows something about a players injuries, they should speak up so the drafter has a chance to reconsider. This rule applies to players who have sat out the last regular season game due to injury.

2. No helping. Other than disclosing player injuries, don't suggest picks to others or otherwise taint the integrity of the draft. Let the cards fall where they may.

1. Have fun. It's all good. May the best man poolie win.

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C-Webb's March Madness

webberChris Webber has retired from the NBA. This isn't just a sports story for me, this feels like something more.

In the fall of 1991 I was 17 years old. I caught an NCAA basketball game on television and the commentators were talking about these five freshmen who were all starting. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwon Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson played above the rim and I was smitten. After that, I caught every Michigan Wolverines basketball game I could, followed the team as closely as possible and sang their praises to my brothers. I loved that team.

I've got to dig up the Michigan leather jacket I bought that year. This thing was loud and proud but I wore it religiously and although I haven't worn it in well over a decade, I know I never threw it out. I couldn't.

In 1992 and 1993 my Wolverines played in the NCAA title game, losing both times. I'll never forget that second loss. Earlier in the day, I learnt my grandfather had passed away. With a heavy heart I sat down to watch Webber, Rose, Howard, King and Jackson and the game ended with the infamous time-out that wasn't. A mental gaffe by Chris Webber sealed their fate and that summer Webber announced his eligibility for the NBA draft.

Chris Webber has retired, without an NCAA title or an NBA title. Although he had a very good career, my lofty expectations for him went unfulfilled. When C-Webb, the best of the Fab Five, left Michigan, he took with him a great deal of my NCAA passion. I haven't enjoyed March Madness the same since.

As he goes, so goes a part of my youth. I guess you had to be there. I was.

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The Raconteurs - Salute Your Solution

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS19 consideration. I'm submitting "Salute Your Solution" by The Raconteurs.

This is fresh Rac. Everything Jack White touches turns to gold, so this will be on SLS19. I can't wait to hear this album, Consolers of the Lonely.

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New Blue Jays Ads

bluejaysI enjoyed last year's Blue Jays ads. You might remember the controversial spot with Frank Thomas decking that kid with a pillow. Click on over and watch that one again, it's great.

Here are this year's batch of TV commercials promoting Blue Jays baseball. These are pretty good, too.

Roy Halladay

Aaron Hill

Alex Rios

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The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey

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 Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey
After this I feel a need to redeem myself. Here's the excellent "Just Like Honey" from The Jesus and Mary Chain's debut album, Psychocandy.

I just picked up 21 Singles on the weekend, so I've been listening to a lot of The Jesus and Mary Chain this week. I just totally redeemed myself!

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Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 6

LeafsNow that was disappointing. Unless Sundin's groin is ripped to shreds he should have been out there last night. And Mark Bell, how the hell does he still have a job?

I'm just cranky because the SOBs did it again. Let the healing begin once more.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
35-32-10
78 points
12th in Conference
6-2 Loss vs. Boston
5-4 Win vs. Ottawa
4-1 Win vs. Buffalo
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 52

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Quentin Jerome Tarantino Tribute

moviesA couple of years ago I listed my ten favourite movies of all time. On that list you'll find four of Quentin Tarantino's six films, and when I put that list together he had only directed five movies. That meant I found 80% of the man's career worthy of my top ten movies list.

So yeah, I'm a Tarantino fan. You'll find a lot of guys my age are pretty big Tarantino fans. I think Scorsese is great, I love Coppola's work, I respect the hell out of Stanley Kubrick and think old Woody Allen and Joel and Ethan Coen are top notch, but there's no better director for my tastes than Quentin Jerome Tarantino.

Here's an awesome tribute to his six films that I just stumbled upon.


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I Liked That? Get The Funk Out!

musicI got asked an interesting question the other day. I was asked what was the most embarrassing thing on my iPod. My thoughts instantly turned to some rather cheesy late-80s rap I still enjoy, then I wondered if it could be Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone". The question had me revisiting the cheesier tunes and artists I've enjoyed over the years.

Without a doubt, the most embarrassing album in my collection is Vanilla Ice's To The Extreme. I actually refused to rip that album to MP3 for years for fear people would point and laugh at me as I walked the streets of Toronto. Less embarrassing than that, but equally concerning to me now, is the fact I really liked Extreme's Pornograffiti.

Pornograffiti hooked me with "Get The Funk Out". I was really enjoying the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the time, and Extreme seemed to be cut from the same funky rock cloth. It didn't take long for me to realize I was betting on the wrong horse and way off base. When "More Than Words" broke, I was out like Buster Douglas.

Here's a song I can't believe I liked. Don't tell anyone, k?

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Crap, They Did It Again

swearsI can't believe I'm writing this entry. It's after 4pm, there's a blizzard outside my window and I'm feeling that nervous tingle in the pit of my stomach. Like a dumb ass catfish, I saw the worm dangling in open water and took a whopper of a chomp at it. They do this to me every time....

I call it the annual tease. For the third year in a row, I had completely given up on my hockey team only to get sucked back into caring by a late season surge. Like the other years, I know I'll end up disappointed again, but I can't help myself. I'm thinking about a sweep against the Bruins and slipping into 8th.

It's deja vu all over again. Here are exhibits A and B.

Go Leafs Go!

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The SI Vault

vaultI just discovered The SI Vault. 54 years of Sports Illustrated history is online and free. A sports fan could spend a week there one night.

I actually searched for all articles that included the keyword 'toronto' and scanned the 586 headlines. Of course, who could stop at the headlines when there was this 1979 piece on Toronto Blue Jay Bob Bailor and this fantastic 1994 piece on Wendel Clark.

Aw heck, here's that Wendel Clark article in its entirety. If you love sports, you'll love the SI Vault.

Conn Smythe would have loved Wendel Clark. Smythe, one of the early patriarchs of the NHL and the fellow who built Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, was fond of saying, "If you can't beat 'em in the alley, you can't beat 'em on the ice."

Clark, the Maple Leaf captain, has a style suited for either venue. His eight goals through two playoff rounds include a pair he scored last Saturday night in Toronto's 4-2 Game 7 win over the San Jose Sharks at the Gardens, a victory that advanced the Leafs to the Western Conference finals against the Vancouver Canucks. And when Clark isn't illuminating the little red lamp, he's lighting up opponents.

Ask Chicago's Chris Chelios, who crawled to the bench after being freight-trained by Clark during Game 6 of the Maple Leafs' first-round series against the Blackhawks. Ask San Jose's Jeff Norton, who was bent into a horseshoe by Clark in front of the Shark bench in Game 4 of their series. So enthusiastically did Clark finish his check that Norton was left gazing up into his teammates' nostrils, then was helped off the ice, semiconscious.

Around the NHL, Clark is given wide berth even though he doesn't drop his gloves as often as he did when he first arrived in the league, nine years ago. "He can still fight like a bastard," says Toronto assistant general manager Bill Watters . "He's just more selective." Adds Leaf defenseman Todd Gill, "There's not a guy in the league that wants a piece of him. Wendel isn't swinging for show. He's swinging to hurt you."

He's also swinging to score. With a wonderfully soft touch in close, rare for a pugilist, and one of the most dangerous wrist shots in the game, Clark has learned that he can do more damage with his hands wrapped around the shaft of a stick. This year the left wing had a career-high 46 goals during the regular season. Says Gill, "Wendel's finally using his hands to score, not fight."

But for a man who causes so much mayhem on the ice, Clark is surprisingly unimposing off of it. The program says he is 5'11"?maybe he's 5'10"?and with his playoff beard and progressing baldness, he is an old-looking 27. He even sounded mature after the Leafs ' elimination of San Jose Saturday evening, philosophizing that "every player has his ups and downs. Life is a circle."

Clark is up now, as he was in 1985-86, when he had a team-high 34 goals and set a Toronto scoring record for rookies. With 37 goals the next season, he was beloved by Leaf fans and then-coach John Brophy, who had played in the minors with Clark's father, Les, now a wheat farmer on a 4,000-acre spread in Kelvington, Saskatchewan. Says Clark, "Dad always said, 'I don't care what you do, just do it as hard as you can.' "

Following that advice has probably shortened Clark's career. He ran everything that moved and fought everyone who looked at him the wrong way, and then his back went out in the summer of 1987. Over the next five seasons Clark averaged fewer than 40 games and got used to talk that he was malingering. His manhood was questioned again last winter when a Detroit Red Wing player said, "He's Wendel at home and Wendy on the road." That label resurfaced a month later during postseason play after Clark disappeared in the first two games of Toronto's opening-round series in Detroit. Trashed by the hometown media as well, Clark responded by playing huge the rest of the way, scoring 10 goals as the Leafs made it to within a game of the Stanley Cup finals.

He hasn't let up. He's now contending for the postseason's MVP award, a gaudy piece of hardware known as the Conn Smythe Trophy. Smythe's kind of guy all the way.

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Fracture

A Movie ReelFracture: 6 out of 10.

I had never heard of Fracture but took a chance on it because it starred Anthony Hopkins and cool Canuck Ryan Gosling.

If you're comfortable with plot holes you could drive a Plymouth through, Fracture is actually a lot of fun. It's full of twists and turns, some plausible, some not, but all entertaining.

Note to self: see Half Nelson.

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Crosby vs. Toskala For Gatorade

leafsHave you seen this ad yet? Orff's "O Fortuna" plays in dramatic fashion as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins are tied at 3 goals apiece. The game has gone to a shootout and Sidney Crosby is shooting against Vesa Toskala.

The fate of the game lies in the hands of a kid. After all, every game needs a hero. But is it going to be Sid the Kid or my new best friend Tosky. Watch and see for yourself.

I'm a sucker because even though I know this is a regular season game and unworthy of Carl Orff's masterpiece, I still love it.

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Manicurist Needed

Blue JaysThe Toronto Blue Jays might be the first team in urgent need of a really good manicurist.

A.J. Burnett lost most of the nail on his index finger after closing a car door on it. As a result, he was unable to throw his curveball until a fake nail was attached last week.

Now comes word that third baseman Scott Rolen has lost most of a nail on his right hand when it was struck by a ball during fielding drills. He could be out a month.

This team needs a manicurist!

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Garth Iorg: A Unique Batting Stance

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

We already covered Rance Mulliniks, so now it's Garth Iorg's turn. You simply can't discuss one without the other. They platooned at third for much of the 80s and with a great deal of success.

What I remember best about Iorg was his unconventional batting stance. I used to mimic it in the backyard with my blue Catelli bat. Wikipedia describes the stance as "on the toes of his front foot and leaning back toward the catcher as the ball was being pitched". I've never seen another player hit that way since.

Another thing I think about when I think of Garth Iorg is his mother. Prior to the ACLS championship series between the Blue Jays and Royals, I saw an interview with Mrs. Iorg as to who she was rooting for. Garth played for the Jays and her son Dane Iorg played for the Royals. I don't remember the exact quote, but there was little doubt she was rooting for the Royals. I always felt bad for Garth after that.

Garth Iorg

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Exploring the Old Mill

binocularsAs we did last Easter, we went to the Old Mill for brunch this morning. As you can imagine, the Old Mill gets pretty busy on Easter morning, so we go there at 9:30am. This gave the kids and I a chance to explore.

Imagine a completely empty, totally quiet Old Mill. Imagine having complete access to every nook and cranny. It's awesome.

We climbed every staircase, took a peek in every room and took in all that history. A highlight was a visit to the chapel. It's a great old chapel, and it's especially reverent on Easter morning. Here are some pictures from our visit.

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Damn Long Ears

easterThis weekend I caught an old episode of Family Guy. Peter saw the rabbit from those old Trix commercials and said, "Noooo, silly rabbit, Trix are for kids. Damn long-ears trying to steal Easter from Jesus."

This day is either all about Jesus or all about that damn long-ears. For Christians, it's a super religious time of year that culminates in the glorious resurrection of Jesus. For others, it's the day the Easter Bunny hides goodies for kids to find and families get together to celebrate all the wonderful chocolate bunnies that have been received.

I'm off to an early brunch. Happy Easter!

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Maple Leafs 5, Senators 4

LeafsThat's six straight road wins if you're counting at home. And that's four straight against the Senators if you're counting in Ottawa.

One thing is clear, the Leafs really, really want 9th place and they're not going to let anything stand in their way.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
35-31-10
78 points
12th in Conference
5-4 Win vs. Ottawa
4-1 Win vs. Buffalo
3-1 Win vs. New York Islanders
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 51

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Getting Smarter

familyIt's fun watching your kids grow smarter. My son James is six years old and I've noticed the complexity of his questions of late have graduated from "where did the dinosaurs go?" to "if all Cretans are liars, how can this testimony be true?"

Ok, he's not quite there yet, but today I got a question that brought a smile to my face because I remember wondering the exact same thing when I was just a little older than James. The strange thing is, I wondered but never thought to ask anyone the answer. A sure sign James is smarter than his old man is his willingness to ask questions he doesn't know the answer to.

James wanted to know how New Yorkers knew who to cheer for: the Islanders or the Rangers. I vividly recall lying in bed as a nine year old and wondering how New Yorkers knew whether they were to be Yankee fans or Mets fans.

After tackling the Islanders v. Rangers question, I'm ready for the Cretan one. The utterance of a paradoxical sentence is pragmatically self-defeating.

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Bitter Sweet

hockeyI'm spending this Saturday night like I spend most of my Saturday nights during the winter. I'm watching my hockey team on Hockey Night in Canada.

Alex Steen just scored to give us the lead over the Sens. Even though I've reviewed the NHL standings countless times, and basic math assures me we won't be playing in the post season again this year, I still find myself pleased with our effort tonight and strongly rooting for a victory against Ottawa. The Leafs have been great these past sixty days, and it's made Saturday nights fun again, but it's bitter sweet. It's too little, too late.

As I type, the Sens didn't just tie it up, but they took the lead. That's okay. The way the Leafers are playing these days, I smell a third period comeback.

Where was this team the first few months of the season?

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George Gross, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumGeorge Gross was 85. He was the founding sports editor of the Toronto Sun.

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No Condition for Old Ball Players

baseballThat was ridiculous. Whose idea was it to hold a slo-pitch tournament outdoors on March 22?

I've just returned from a day of slo-pitch at Diamond Beach at Centennial Park. They called this a sno-pitch tourney, but they should have named it the ice bowl. The diamonds were covered by a sheet of ice making it rather difficult to get any traction. As I said, it was ridiculous, and I'm just happy I escaped unscathed.

And no, we didn't win the tournament, either. We were eked out in the playoffs by a single run. I'm putting the glove away until the temp hits positive figures.

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Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 1

LeafsNo Mats Sundin, no Nik Antropov, no Carlo Colaiacovo, no problem. Thanks to Vesa Toskala's 35 saves the Leafs won their fourth in five games.

Yes my friends, the drive for ninth is well underway. This juggernaut won't stop until it gets there. Our next victims: the Ottawa Senators.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
34-31-10
76 points
12th in Conference
4-1 Win vs. Buffalo
3-1 Win vs. New York Islanders
6-2 Loss vs. Buffalo
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 50

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Launching A New Site

clockIf it seems I'm neglecting my duties here, it's because I'm pretty busy right now working on a new site. I've partnered with Fred Patterson from the Humble & Fred Show and torontomike.com on this new project and I'll divulge all details as soon as it's ready to launch.

Fred recognized something was missing in the Canadian blogosphere, we hooked up at Kelsey's to exchange ideas and a collaborative partnership was formed. I'll be hacking away at it this weekend between Easter egg hunts, brunches, slo-pitch tournaments and hockey games.

Stay tuned...

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Internet Culture IQ

schoolThis quiz is kind of interesting, as it sort of gauges your familiarity with web memes and such, like the flying spaghetti monster and lonelygirl15.

I'm pretty tapped into this world, but not nearly as tapped in as I thought. There were a few questions I was totally clueless about. Go here and see how you fare.

Internet Culture IQ

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Your Spring Headquarters

sunThe number of unique visitors to this site spiked today. When that happens, a quick glance at the referral links reveals the reason. Today's spike in traffic to TorontoMike.com has everything to do with the vernal equinox.

If your Latin skills are rusty, today is the first day of spring. If you Google first day of spring, I'm currently ranked #4 overall with this entry about the great CanCon classic "The First Day of Spring" by The Gandharvas.

I wonder what "first day of spring" Googlers are looking for?

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Beyond Verdana

notepadI've been slapping pages on the web for a decade now. A long time ago, after a great deal of experimentation, I concluded that Verdana was your best bet when designing a commercial site, particularly if that site was for a software vendor.

Before we all had to have blogs, we had personal sites. When this site was younger, I was always changing the font family. I remember when I first switched the markup over to an external CSS file and feeling the power you get when a single edit in a single file changed the font on every page. I abused that power by trying Arial, Courier, Times New Roman, Georgia, and yes, Verdana.

A few years ago I decided I'd stick with Verdana. It always seemed the safest. Most people had it installed on their computer, for starters, and it was highly legible. Verdana was my default font and I was done messing with it. Until today, that is.

The vast majority of you are reading this in Georgia. I'm going to ride Georgia through the long weekend. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Help Us Mookie

jaysThere are two Mookies of note in this neck of the woods. One, Derrell "Mookie" Mitchell, was released today by the Toronto Argonauts. Hearing that news got me thinking about the other Mookie.

When Mookie Wilson came to town, he was best known as the New York Met who hit the ball that fooled Bill Buckner. The 1989 Toronto Blue Jays season was full of drama. We had our first mid-season managerial change, George Bell said goodbye to Exhibition Stadium with a walkoff homer and Mookie Wilson came to town on July 31.

Mookie provided this intangible spark. You had to be there. He had this big smile, seemed to slap singles in the clutch and he was always hustling. I don't believe we'd have won the pennant in 1989 without him.

This song is "Help Us Mookie" by The Kokomo Beach Band. It's a parody of "Help Me Rhonda" by The Beach Boys if there are any kids in the crowd.

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Q107 Ad From 1983

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

I wasn't listening to Q107 in 1983. At that time, I was a young AM listener who enjoyed the top 40 music on CFTR. As the 80s progressed, I started listening to harder rock, and that meant discovering Q107.

There were years in the late 80s that I awoke to Q107. There was Jesse and Gene, and then Brother Jake Edwards and the Edwards Air Force Base when Jesse and Gene moved to the AM dial. I remember around the time Appetite For Destruction was released that Q107's Top Ten at Ten was essential nightly listening for me.

Here's an ad for the mighty Q from 1983.

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Disney on Ice: Princess Classics

familyI spent last night with several princesses. These were Disney princesses, and they were on ice, telling the stories of Aladdin, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

The kids just loved it. I didn't mind it, although most of my entertainment came from watching how much the kids loved it, but I had my fill by the intermission. They cram the first six stories into the first half and devote the second half to Cinderella. And yes, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy all have cameos.

Watching these stories, I realized how few of these Disney films I've actually seen. I knew all the stories except for Mulan, but I think the only one of the bunch I've seen in its entirety is Cinderella.

Here are some pictures from Disney on Ice: Princess Classics at the stadium formerly known as SkyDome.

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Paul Scofield, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumPaul Scofield was 86. He was the towering British stage actor who won international fame and an Academy Award for the film "A Man for All Seasons."

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Ivan Dixon, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumIvan Dixon was 76. He brought the problems and promise of contemporary blacks to life in the film "Nothing But a Man" and portrayed the levelheaded POW Kinchloe in TV's "Hogan's Heroes."

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Disney Princess Overdose

familyIf you have a young daughter, you're likely familiar with the Disney Princesses. At some point Disney figured out a way to tap into the young girl demo by grouping their princesses together in a bundle. My three year old daughter absolutely adores the Disney Princesses, which include Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan.

This franchise is well represented in my house. We have Disney Princess DVDs, books and dolls all over the place. Michelle even has a Disney Princess outfit she prances around in. I understand girls love princesses, but tonight my tolerance will be tested.

We have tickets to see Disney on Ice: Princess Classics tonight at the stadium formerly known as SkyDome. That's right, I'm going to SkyDome to see Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Aurora and Mulan skate around for an hour or so.

Michelle will be in heaven. I think I'll bring my iPod.

DisneyOnIce

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Maple Leafs 3, Islanders 1

LeafsI've got to level with you, the rest of these recaps are going to be me going through the motions. Yes, it's nice to win 3-1, but... you know...

The highlight last night was a 178-foot goal by Rob Davison on a bouncing shot from his own blue line that fooled Toskala. Alex Foster, who I saw score a goal for the Marlies earlier this year, made his NHL debut.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
33-31-10
74 points
12th in Conference
3-1 Win vs. New York Islanders
6-2 Loss vs. Buffalo
3-2 Win vs. Philadelphia
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 50

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Dream Warriors - Wash Your Face In My Sink

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.

Dream Warriors - Wash Your Face In My Sink
In the summer of 1991, I was loving the Dream Warriors album And Now, the Legacy Begins. The first single from that album was "Wash Your Face In My Sink" and I ran out and bought the 12 inch single. While working at the CNE that summer, I actually won the cassette single from CFTR. That was pretty cool.

It was fantastic unplugged back in '92, too.

Wash Your Face In My Sink!!

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

beerA few weeks ago, I started hearing "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on television again, but it wasn't before an episode of Cheers. The song had been licensed for use in commercials for Kelsey's restaurants.

This was the first time I remember hearing this song promoting something other than Cheers and it seemed strange. It's one of the most memorable theme songs in television history and it perfectly suited the opening of Cheers with those great drawings. Kelsey's is a fine restaurant, but it's no Cheers.

I was watching something the other day when I heard "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" again, only this time it was an advertisement for Dr. Pepper. Nostalgia is clearly for sale.

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Arthur C. Clarke, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumArthur C. Clarke was 90. He was a visionary science fiction writer who won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future.

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A Welcomed Raptor Swoon

raptorsThe Raptors, without their best player, just went winless during a five game road trip. I'm a Toronto Raptor fan, and I was totally cool with this. Allow me to explain...

Prior to this late season swoon, we were pretty secure in 5th place in the NBA Eastern Conference. That would mean a first round match-up with LeBron James and the 4th place Cleveland Cavaliers. I don't see us winning that series.

Today, we're only .5 games up on Washington. The goal is to finish sixth so we face the Orlando Magic. I think that's our best chance at winning our second playoff series in franchise history.

It's a slippery slope, so we have to be careful not to fall into seventh. That's a match-up with the Pistons. We want 6th! We want 6th!

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Anthony Minghella, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumAnthony Minghella was 54. He won an Oscar for directing "The English Patient," one of a series of literary adaptations that include "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain."

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No End In Sight

no end in sightCBC Newsworld aired Charles Ferguson's No End In Sight on Sunday night. No End In Sight was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards and it's about the American occupation of Iraq.

I finished it last night and it does an excellent job of taking everything you think you know and stitching it all together. The people interviewed are people with integrity, people without political bias who were part of the reconstruction effort. People like General Jay Garner, Richard Armitage, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson and Ambassador Barbara Bodine. It's overwhelming and compelling evidence that serious mistakes were made by the Bush administration in the two year period following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The wiki page summarizes the gut wrenching role of L. Paul Bremer role in this text book example of arrogance and incompetence.

According to No End in Sight, there were three especially grave mistakes made by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the CPA:

  • A move toward "De-Ba'athification" in the early stages of the occupation. Saddam Hussein's ruling Ba'th Party counted as its members a huge majority of Iraq's governmental employees, including educational officials and some teachers. By order of the CPA, these skilled and ultimately apolitical individuals were banned from holding any positions in Iraq's new government.
  • Not providing enough troops to maintain order. The looting of Iraqi museums sent chilling signals to the average Iraqi, telling them that the American forces did not intend to maintain law and order. In addition, arms depots were available for pillaging by anyone who wanted weapons and explosives.
  • The disbanding of the Iraqi Army, which made 500,000 young men with weapons and training unemployed and bitter. Many of them decided that their best chance for a future was to join or, together with the rest of their unit, become a militia force.

The film cites these three mistakes, as well as many others, as the cause of the rapid deterioration of occupied Iraq into chaos.

It would be easy to Dubya-bash at this point. He was the man in charge, the commander-in-chief, and he has to be accountable. In this instance, it's clear he deferred the responsibility for post-war Iraq to others, and he showed no interest in taking part of the process or even questioning the decisions of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, L. Paul Bremer or Paul Wolfowitz. He let others make one bad decision after another, without adequate planning or even talking to those in the know. Bush was a puppet and history will view him as such.

I actually don't know of anyone, other than those who defend George W. Bush's every decision for pure shock value, who believes the occupation of Iraq is going well. If you're unsure, or if you believe Dubya when he pronounces "In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed" in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner, I highly recommend this excellent documentary. As you'll see, there's no end in sight.

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Free Movie On Me

ticketstubI recently wrote about the grand opening of AMC Yonge & Dundas 24 in the Toronto Life Square. Before it opens on March 28, I can get you in for free.

From March 22 until March 25th there are free screenings at the Yonge & Dundas 24 and all you have to do is print off this PDF to get in.

Don't say I've never done anything for ya.

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Ola Brunkert, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumOla Brunkert was 62. He was a former session drummer with Swedish pop band Abba.

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Irish Rover

shamrockThis is The Pogues with The Dubliners performing "Irish Rover".

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Death Proof

A Movie ReelDeath Proof: 8 out of 10.

I had a helluva lot of fun with Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. I started watching Grindhouse, which includes Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror, but after the fantastic phony coming attraction I realized Rodriguez' movie was first on the bill and I was hankering for some Tarantino. So, I bailed on Grindhouse and shot straight to Death Proof. I'll check out Planet Terror later this week.

Firstly, I loved the fake jump cuts, bad editing and scratchy film effects. The mood was perfect, in fact, until one of the girls checks her cell phone, I thought we were right in the 1970s.

I hear some are knocking this film for having too many allusions to earlier Tarantino movies. Personally, I loved that aspect. Of course, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill films all rank high on my favourite movie list.

It's a lot of fun. I hope Planet Terror is just as good.

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Why the Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade Rules

shamrockThe conclusion of the Santa Claus Parade is always the big Santa float. Naturally, the conclusion of the St. Patrick's Day Parade is the arrival of St. Patrick himself. He rolls by in the back of a pick up truck in some Popemobile phone booth thing and waves. Hastily pasted to the side of the pick up are the words "St. Patrick 389 A.D. - 461 A.D."

'Nuff said.

2006 St. Patrick's Day Parade

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Incredible Hulk Battles On Yonge Street By Sam's

Sam'sAjax Mike tipped me off that the new Incredible Hulk trailer prominently features Yonge Street during the fight sequences. You can't miss that Sam the Record Man sign.

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Maple Leafs 2, Sabres 6

LeafsStick a fork in this season. It's done.

I say we shut down Mats Sundin for the season. We wouldn't want to rush him back from his groin injury. And Nik Antropov, he hurt his knee last night. Let's shut him down as well. And finally, after 24 starts in a row, Vesa Toskala must be exhausted. Andrew Raycroft, come on down!

Maybe, just maybe, that'll slip us into a top five pick. The phony playoff drive is finally over. With Mark Bell as our #2 centre, we're a bona fide lottery team.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
32-31-10
72 points
12th in Conference
6-2 Loss vs. Buffalo
3-2 Win vs. Philadelphia
4-3 Win vs. Philadelphia
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 49

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Kenny Reardon, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumKenny Reardon was 86. He scored 122 points in 341 games with the Montreal Canadiens and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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1984 Blue Jays Preview a'la Michael Jackson

bluejaysVegas Geoff alerted me to this Yahoo! blog entry about some more vintage Blue Jay cheese. On the heels of The Blue Jays Rap, I'm starting to wonder if all my 80s and early 90s Blue Jays memories are pure cheese in retrospect.

This report for City TV was filed by Peter Gross and the theme is Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's neat to watch because I remember that 1984 season well. The Tigers bust out of the gates in unprecedented fashion and, even though we played our tails off, we couldn't catch them.

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Google's Free 411 Service

googleAccording to BlogTO, Google's free 411 service is now available here in Toronto. This is a pretty awesome service from Google that beats the crap out of the 75¢ 411 service we all hate to use. Program 1-800-4664-411 into your mobile phone now and you'll thank me later.

Here's a quick demo of how it works. Remember, it's completely free, so this is a video you actually should watch.

I just tried it and it's pretty slick. You just call 1-800-4664-411, say "Toronto", and name the company you want to call. Then, Google even connects you.

411 is dead. Long live Google's 411.

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Mike's Mailbag

emailI just got an email from a loyal reader who enjoys "all entries except the ones about sports." She thinks I've had way too many sports-related entries lately and she'd like me to write less about sports and more about "other stuff".

Here are the last 40 entries I've posted on this site. I've put a bold S next to the sports-related ones.

14 of the last 40 entries were primarily about sports. That's a little over 1/3. I wrote this person back and told her I just sorta write about what's on my mind, and with the Leafs resurgence and spring training, I've been going heavier on the Leafs and Jays lately.

I also told her to avoid this site for the rest of the day because I've got a pretty cheesy Jays bit from 1984 to share and I might just throw down a Raptors entry about why I'm happy Chris Bosh is out and we're getting slaughtered.

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Passchendaele: The 10th Battalion, CEF

poppyWhen I saw No Country For Old Men recently, one of the coming attractions we saw was the trailer for Passchendaele, a Paul Gross film about the 10th Battalion, CEF in the First World War at the Battle of Passchendaele.

I thought the trailer was pretty good and I'm looking forward to seeing the film, the most expensive Canadian film project of all time, so I went searching for this trailer on YouTube and the other video sharing sites. I wanted to embed the video here and spread the love a little. After all, I've been looking for more films about Canadian success stories in WWI.

The only instance of this trailer I could find was the premiere as it aired on ET Canada. I figured I'd wait it out and post the Passchendaele trailer when a better version appeared on YouTube. I didn't want to share this trailer with an Entertainment Tonight intro, a tacky "Exclusive ET Canada" logo in the bottom left corner and a ridiculous curtain effect that fills the top and bottom of the screen.

I'm tired of waiting, so I'm just going to ask you to go here to watch the trailer on the official Passchendaele movie site. I'll still embed the ET Canada version, but you're not allowed to click play.

If this were an American film about an American sacrifice there would be trailers oozing out of every crevice of the web. I'm just sayin'...

The film comes out Remembrance Day 2008.

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God Hates Leaf Fans

bibleIf I recall my days of scripture study, there's a part of the Book of Deuteronomy (or is it the Book of Leviticus?) that references Toronto Maple Leaf fans. The translation, and bear with me as my Hebrew is rusty, is "If a man roots for the Maple Leafs, following the great expansion, he has committed an abomination: and shall surely be destined for heart breaking failures."

Five years ago today, I wrote God about this unfortunate fact. Here's what I wrote on March 15, 2003.

Go Leafs Go!Hello God, it's me Mike.

What exactly do you have against my Toronto Maple Leafs? Why to you use your omnipotent power to crush us at every opportunity? You tortured us with the Harold Ballard regime, forcing me to grow up in a decade almost completely void of playoff victories. Then, when everything lined up perfectly for a Habs-Leafs Stanley Cup Final in '93, you gave The Great One yet another break and used your mighty power to blind the refs as Gretzky clearly high-sticked Gilmour. We deserved to win that night. You made sure it didn't happen.

Now, in 2003, that very same Gilmour came home. On Thursday night, I watched #93 play for four minutes and fifty-one seconds. Everything seemed right again. Everything seemed perfectly in place for a serious run at the cup. Leaf fans were happy. We were oh so happy Lord! Then, as quickly as you giveth, you taketh away.

Dougie was laying on the ice, clearly in pain. The war horse couldn't stand, but this warrior was going to get to the bench on his own. As I watched him crawl twenty feet to the bench, I looked up and asked you one simple question. "Why?"

On behalf of all Torontonians, I apologize for whatever it is you don't like about us. Perhaps it's our arrogance? We are the self-proclaimed capital of Canada, you know. Perhaps it's the fact that many Leaf fans spill on to Yonge Street to celebrate a single playoff victory. Is it that we're satisfied with so little from our hockey team? Should we expect more? Tell us oh Lord, tell us what we can do to earn your favour. If we change now, maybe Dougie is back for the playoffs? Please see what you can do...

Your biggest fan,
Mike

That plea clearly fell on deaf or disinterested ears. Since I wrote that letter to God, an entire season was cancelled and we finished two points out of the playoffs, one point out of the playoffs, and however close we get this year before the final buzzer sounds.

On behalf of Maple Leaf fans everywhere, oh Lord, I cry "UNCLE!!!!!!!"

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The Blue Jays Rap

blue jaysIt's that wonderful time of year. Baseball's back. It's a clean slate and hopes are high we'll return to the post season for the first time in 15 years. I can't believe it's been that long.

WARNING!!! The Jays song I'm sharing today is awful. It's so bad, it's actually good. In the comments for my "Okay Blue Jays" entry, Kirsten, a Jays fan now living on the west coast, wrote the following.

SWEET Mike, thanks for the quick reply. Now maybe you can help me with my second search... the song that they used to play I think right before games started that included *this is from about a 12 year old memory, sorry*

"Let's go Blue Jays, rock em and a sock em and a bring them all home?"

I'm sure it was on one of those Blue Jays CDs, but I'm having a hard hard time finding it.

The song Kirsten was remembering is "The Blue Jays Rap" by The Variety Club Rap Gang. Here it is, if you dare play it aloud. Go Jays Go!

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Toronto is Safe and Sound

cntowerGo figure, Toronto is merely #26 on a list of the 100 most dangerous cities in Canada. To assemble the rankings of the most dangerous and safest cities, Maclean's magazine used 2006 crime data from the Canadian Centre of Justice Statistics. The magazine then calculated the percentage difference from the national rate for six crimes - homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, vehicle theft, robbery plus breaking and entering - to determine the overall scores.

Here's the top twenty dangerous communities in Canada.

  1. Regina
  2. Saskatoon
  3. Winnipeg
  4. Prince George
  5. Edmonton
  6. New Westminster
  7. Chilliwack
  8. Victoria
  9. Vancouver
  10. Halifax
  11. Brantford
  12. Kamloops
  13. Burnaby
  14. Surrey
  15. Thunder Bay
  16. Kelowna
  17. Fort McMurray
  18. Nanaimo
  19. Montreal
  20. Abbotsford

I find it intriguing that the most dangerous city in Ontario is home to the hockey player least likely to drop the gloves.

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3 Years Ago, SLS Did Not Sell Out

slsThree years ago today, I wondered aloud if SLS had sold out. On that day, we started selling Smells Like Sour tee-shirts.

Three years later, I'm happy to report SLS didn't sell out that day, because in 36 months we've sold exactly zero of those wonderful tees.

sls shirt

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The Best Toronto Blue Jays Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite Toronto Blue Jays songs

  1. OK Blue Jays
  2. Along Came Joe
  3. The Ballad of Tom Henke
  4. Help Us Mookie
  5. Jays to the Top

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1967

1967

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The Single Guy

familyI left my mom's home when I was 21 and moved in with my wife. I've been living with her ever since, and we've added a couple of kids to the mix. I've never lived alone.

Occasionally I get short periods of "single guy" time, and that happened this week. The family is cottaging during this March break while I stay in Toronto to work. It's during these periods that I wonder what kind of a bachelor I'd make, and I don't think it would be pretty.

The mornings aren't bad, I wake up, clean myself up, get dressed and hit the road. After work, things are just too damn quiet. Yesterday I actually stayed late at work because there was no incentive to go home. Once home, I force myself to make something to eat, hack away at something on the laptop and watch sports. Then, at some point when my eyes start to get heavy, I hit the hay and do it all over again.

In an alternate universe the single version of me is a pretty pathetic sight. He likely eats cereal for dinner every night, spends far too much time online and I don't think he does laundry. How the hell is the single version of me ever going to get a girlfriend?

Tonight feels like a Raisin Bran night...

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MuchMusic Ad From 1984

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

I recently posted a laundry list of things I don't get, and on that list I included the fact that I don't get MuchMusic these days.

Yes, I understand that as I get older it's only natural I'm going to be less targeted by this station, but I like to think that even 18-year old Toronto Mike would hate today's MuchMusic. This is a station that used to play music videos. A lot of what they played was top-40, but there were specialty shows where you could catch great rap videos, hard rock videos, indie videos, etc.

Today, every time I flip by MuchMusic it's a reality show, or syndicated reruns like The O.C. There are no videos, no interesting content, no compelling discussions, no smartness or even edginess.

Here's an ad for MuchMusic from the days when not everybody got it with their cable packages. You might call this, the good ol' days.


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Maple Leafs 3, Flyers 2

LeafsI was sure we'd get trounced last night in Philly. Shows ya what I know.

I took the steam out of this recap last night with Too Little, Too Late. Here's the crux of that entry: it's too little, too late.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
32-30-10
72 points
Tied for 11th in Conference
-3-2 Win vs. Philadelphia
4-3 Win vs. Philadelphia
2-1 Loss vs. New Jersey
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 49

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Too Little, Too Late

clockOur damn Leafs swept Philly. The jerks are doing it again. We're only five points out of the playoffs, but it's too little, too late, dammit!

It's too bad, because I've been enjoying this little resurgence. This team is practically likable again, with amazing goaltending and a never-say-die swagger. Even with Sundin out, they found a way to stay alive. But it's too little, too late, dammit!

It's not my favourite Barenaked Ladies period, but the sentiment is right. Here's Toronto's BNL and "Too Little Too Late", dammit!

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Frozen Union Station

torontoI forgot to share this when it first went viral over a month ago, but better late than never. This is a wicked stunt at Grand Central Station in New York where hundreds of people freeze at the same time.

I'm sharing this because we had better be planning something similar at Union Station. If we're not going to set these trends, we'd better perfect them.

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J.I. Albrecht, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJ.I. Albrecht was 77. He had front-office stints with the Montreal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Rough Riders and expansion Shreveport Pirates.

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Corky and the Juice Pigs - REMember

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.

Corky and the Juice Pigs - REMember
In 1994, Sean Cullen's comedy music group Corky and the Juice Pigs released Pants and this track got some airplay. It's a spoof of REM and it's pretty good.

Earlier in the year I wrote about The Radio Free Vestibuels' "The Grunge Song". "The Grunge Song", which you can watch below, is even better, and even today people think Corky and the Juice Pigs were behind it. It's likely people associate "The Grunge Song" with Corky and the Juice Pigs because of "REMember". See how it all ties together?


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Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 3

LeafsIt's much too late, but this was my favourite Leafs game of the season. It was guaranteed win night and we were down 3-0. Then, in the third period, we started to play inspired hockey. I haven't enjoyed a period of Leafs hockey like this in quite some time. With Tosky on the bench, we almost pulled it out in regulation.

Tonight we're in Philly, and I'm prepared for the let down. I've had my joy for the week.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
31-30-10
70 points
Tied for 10th in Conference
4-3 Win vs. Philadelphia
2-1 Loss vs. New Jersey
8-2 Win vs. Boston
M. Sundin - 77
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 48

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Some Things I Don't Get...

question markThere are some things I just don't get.

I don't get curling. It's shuffleboard on ice, right? I hate the way I feel un-Canadian in my disinterest, but I just don't care about this sport.

I don't get Justin Timberlake. I guess he's a handsome guy, but is he that great a singer? He sounds like a low-rent Michael Jackson to my ears. Every time I see him in a movie I cringe. I think you have to be female to get JT.

I don't know why we always greet each other with "how are you?" or "how's it going?" All hell could be breaking loose and the answer would still be "fine" or "pretty good". Do we even want honest answers to these questions? I think a nod of the head should be suffice.

I don't understand why some people think John Tavares has a case as to why he should be eligible for the next entry draft. This is the fairest of rules, if you're born after a certain date, you're ineligible. There's no grey here, it's as black and white as it gets. I'd like to see Tavares in the NHL next season but I don't see how he has a case for eligibility.

I don't get people who only check email once a week, if that often. Cito needs answers and can't wait 7+ days for a reply. This is 2007, check your email, dagnabbit!

boonesfarm

I don't get why NFL fans have to laugh at the CFL. Why can't NFL fans in Toronto just leave the CFL and CFL fans be? Do they have to laugh at us and call the league "Mickey Mouse"? It's not very nice.

I don't understand how a pair of running shoes can cost $150. It's just a little fabric, some rubber and gel. My new pair hardly weighs a thing but they cost me a small fortune. I know there's research and development to pay for, but c'mon. The price of decent running shoes is out of whack.

I don't get MuchMusic these days. I know I'm too old for MuchMusic, but it used to be a fairly cool station. There were music videos and interesting complementary programming, and now there's just reality crap, unfunny fromage-type shows and reruns of The OC. MuchMusic has gone from hero to zero.

I don't understand why I can't develop a taste for veggies. I want to like veggies, I really do, but I don't. I'm a wannabe salad guy whose body rejects the notion.

I don't get the allure of Billy Crystal. Someone's going to have to explain that one to me. City Slickers wasn't bad, and When Harry Met Sally... was good for a chick flick, but man, I find him annoying and very unfunny.

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Guaranteed Win Night

thumbsupI'm going to preface this entry by assuring you that I don't believe there's a snowball's chance in hell that the Leafs will qualify for the post-season this year. I'd put it at 1%. It's just not going to happen.

Still, the media likes to create hype and Maple Leaf hype is tied to hope. As a result, you're reading and hearing everywhere that the Leafs have to sweep the home-at-home with the Flyers. They're calling it "do or die", even though this team has been dead for weeks.

Since some are holding on to this 1% possibility and hanging their hopes on a sweep of the Flyers, this is guaranteed win night. As usual, with it being too late the Leafs will come up big and create a sliver of drama tomorrow. We'll lose large tomorrow night, but tonight we can't lose.

There's still a half an hour to go. You might want to put a toonie on this one.

The Rafters

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The Great Melt

XXXWe've been warned. With 7° temps Thursday and Friday, all this snow is going to melt and that could mean flooding in the streets of Toronto.

I need this big melt. Raging Storm, my champion slo-pitch team, has registered to play a tournament on March 22nd. That gives Mother Nature 11 days to clear this white crap off of the field. A little warmth to thaw the ground might be nice too.

Of course, with the strong possibility Diamond Beach could be one massive pool of water, I might be better off with the snow.

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Toronto's First Subway in 1954

ttcThis 1954 footage from the CBC is making the rounds. If you know the TTC subway system, you'll get a kick out of this.

Toronto's got itself a subway!


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2008 NHL Playoff Pool To Draft April 7

hockeyPlayoff poolies, mark April 7th on your calendars. That's the day we'll draft our 2008 NHL playoff picks in our annual pool. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can view our 2007 results, 2006 results, 2004 results, 2003 results and all relevant blog entries.

If you've never drafted with us before, it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on. We all hook up at a west Toronto location and one by one we pick players on playoff bound teams. Everyone drafts ten players and no player is drafted more than once. Then, a point is a point and every day I post updates online.

If you'll be in the GTA on April 7th and you're interested, contact me. Once we draft, daily updates will be posted at http://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html. It's only $20 and every dime is awarded to the winners.

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AMC Yonge & Dundas 24

ticketstubI've been exchanging emails with Quincy from Allied Advertising. Quincy is promoting the grand opening of AMC Yonge & Dundas 24 in the Toronto Life Square. This new state-of-the-art theatre is the first all-digital theatre in the area and it will be open to the public on March 28. All guests will receive one free small popcorn through April 24 to celebrate the grand opening.

Quincy's job is to raise awareness about this local event and he seems to get it. Sure, he issued the standard press release and is reaching out to the mainstream press, but he's also reaching out to guys like me who help fuel the new media, web 2.0 style. Quincy invited me to an exclusive press-only event to showcase the new theatre and its digital projection capabilities and he even even met my demands in exchange for a reference in this space.

Quincy, this entry's for you, a man who appreciates the value of viral buzz.

amc

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Dial 'N' For Nerder Or Not

homerI watched a new episode of The Simpsons last night. It was called "Dial 'N' For Nerder" and as usual with new episodes of The Simpsons these days, it was nothing special.

I'm also making my way through season 10 on DVD. By season 10 you can see the sparky genius dissipating. Now in season 19 it's not uncommon for a new episode to draw less than 8 million viewers. It's no longer must-see television.

I'm at a place where I still enjoy new episodes, especially with the kids, but I know I wouldn't be watching if it weren't for those first six seasons in the 1990s that blew my mind. Homer has earned the right to be just okay.

P2247012 P2247013 P2247018 P2247010 P2247016

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300

A Movie Reel300: 8 out of 10.

Now that was fun. I finally saw 300 so I can now participate in popular culture exchanges that were fresh 12 months ago.

300 wasn't just a great tale about King Leonidas and a force of 300 men who fight the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., it's also a fantastic looking flick. You could mute the volume on this sucker and still enjoy the hell out of it.

King Leonidas has given me a new battle cry to complement my Braveheart arsenal. "My children, gather round! No retreat, no surrender; that is Spartan law. And by Spartan law we will stand and fight... and die. A new age has begun. An age of freedom, and all will know, that 300 Spartans gave their last breaths to defend it!"

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The Record Will Be Ours

snowflakeThe record snowfall for a Toronto winter, since we started measuring such things, was 1938-39 when 207.3 centimetres fell. You remember the winter of 1938-39, don't ya?

69 years later, we're going to smash that record. As of 8pm last night we were sitting at 195.2 centimetres. I can almost taste the record.

Another record has already been set. This is my sixth winter of blogging and I've never written more snow entries than I have this winter. Here are my snow-related entries from the snowiest winter in Toronto history.

12 centimetres to go. We can do this.

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The Bible as a Weapon

bibleFor the Bible Tells Me So is a 2007 documentary directed by Daniel G. Karslake. A MetaFilter FPP linked to the entire doc on Google Video. Over the past couple of days, I watched all 1 hour and 39 minutes and it's extremely good.

For The Bible Tells Me So is about homosexuality and its perceived conflict with religion. I touched upon these themes over four years ago in God Hates Shrimp. If you want to upset me, share with me clips of religious leaders using the Bible to promote hatred. Everyone has their hot buttons, and the use of the Bible as a weapon is one of mine.

I realize it's a lot to ask, but if you have an hour and 39 minutes click here and check out a great doc that puts it all together. If you're a parent, you likely know the power of unconditional love, and this will strike a chord.

I have no idea what my six year old son or three year old daughter's sexual preference will be, and I'm proud to say it doesn't matter. The love I have for them, far too strong for words to adequately describe, is most definitely unconditional. It is without conditions or limitations.

Here's the trailer for For The Bible Tells Me So.

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Gordie Johnson's O Canada Live on CBC

canadaYouTube user inklinkinklink wins the Coke. This is Gordie Johnson playing O Canada on his electric double neck guitar prior to last night's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils at the ACC.


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Maple Leafs 1, Devils 2

LeafsMartin Fu**ing Brodeur. The guy was awesome once again, making 42 stops and infuriating me all night. Even though I'm no fool, I cheered like a mofo when Mats Sundin scored to tie things up in the 3rd. You know the rest of the story.

We'll know Paul Maurice and the gang have officially given up when Andrew Raycroft gets the call. Set your ARGH detectors to "imminent".

A quick note about Chad Kilger... I get visits from people wondering what's wrong with Kilger b/c I have some Google juice with his name. After we traded him to Florida, he was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. His leave ended but he never showed up in Florida. This caused the Panthers to suspend him indefinitely without pay. It sounds like Kilger is battling some personal anxiety issues and will skip the rest of the season. That's all I know, I don't know the man personally, but I hope he works things out and returns to the NHL.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
30-30-10
70 points
13th in Conference
2-1 Loss vs. New Jersey
8-2 Win vs. Boston
4-1 Loss vs. New Jersey
M. Sundin - 75
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 46

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Gordie Johnson's O Canada

canadaThe first one to upload video of Gordie Johnson's O Canada from tonight's Leafs game at the ACC wins a Coke.

If you missed it, CBC broadcast the national anthems and Big Sugar's Gordie "Grady" Johnson played O Canada on his electric double neck guitar in Hendrix-like fashion.

It was pretty awesome. Ladies and gentlemen, start your uploading!

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Women in Art

paintingThis awesome video is 500 years of female portraits in western art.

After you watch, go here for the complete list of artists and paintings.


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A Licky Boom Boom Down

snowflakeThroughout the day, I made four trips outdoors to shovel this snow. It's coming down so hard right now, I'm just going to leave it for the night and get it all tomorrow morning. I'm not complaining about all this snow, I actually don't mind shovelling, I'm just impressed by how quickly it accumulates and how it hasn't let up all friggin day.

Speaking of snow, "Superb Notorious Outrageous Whiteboy" was born and raised in Toronto, and this is his biggest hit.

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A Wrinkle in Time

bookMy kids went to a toy exchange this morning. A bunch of neighbourhood mommies hook up and swap books and toys and such. It's a pretty good idea, so yesterday we were going through a bunch of old books to see what we could bring to the party.

Amongst the books in James' bookshelf I was surprised to find my old copy of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. L'Engle recently passed away at the age of 88.

Finding this old favourite reminded me of what a ferocious reader I used to be. My mother tells me stories about how I'd devour books like candy when I was a pre-teen. I remember reading books every night until baseball season and then turning to Tom and Jerry on CJCL, 1430. That was my routine from the age of 8 to 14 or so.

I almost never read books anymore. I read plenty online, a newspaper every day and plenty of magazines, but no books. It's a shame.

A Wrinkle in Time

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WKBW Oscar Oops

oscarSpeaking of Buffalo's channel 7 WKBW, Coffee and Grilled Cheese has made me aware of a great oops from their Oscar telecast this year.

First, the now MIA WKBW statement.

At 11:43pm, during the ABC telecast of the Academy Awards on WKBW, background audio from the news studio accidentally aired for a few moments before returning to network sound. The management of WKBW apologizes for the inappropriate language during the Oscars

Now, the video itself. It's quite awesome, isn't it?

"A guy with no expression who keeps blowing up everything" as a descriptor for No Country for Old Men is the best I've heard since this exchange between Jerry and George in Seinfeld regarding Titanic.

George: I saw "Titanic". So that old woman, she's just a liar, right?

Jerry: And a bit of a tramp if you ask me.

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Just a Fool to Believe

leafsYou've likely heard the unfortunate news about Patrick Swayze. The Dirty Dancing star was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The Dirty Dancing soundtrack features a little number written and performed by Swayze. You likely know the words to "She's Like the Wind" by heart. In case you've forgotten, here are the opening verses.

She's like the wind through my tree
She rides the night next to me
She leads me through moonlight
Only to burn me with the sun
She's taken my heart
But she doesn't know what she's done

Feel her breath on my face
Her body close to me
Can't look in her eyes
She's out of my league
Just a fool to believe
I have anything she needs
She's like the wind

"She's Like the Wind" is about the Toronto Maple Leafs. When Swayze refers to "she", he's referring to the blue and white, the franchise I've loved and supported my entire life. When Swayze sings "just a fool to believe", he speaks for all Leaf fans. Since the lockout, the Maple Leafs have been pretty damn good after the Olympic or all-star breaks, making late runs at the playoffs only to come up short. It's the annual tease and it never fails to get die-hards believing again.

The Globe and Mail put numbers to the annual tease today, and postbreak the Leafs were 14-8-3 in 2005-06 and 18-10-5 in 2006-07. This season, we're 10-6-2, kicking ass with the pressure off for the third season in a row.

We finished a couple of points out of the playoffs in 2005-06 and one point out in 2006-07, and we'll come up short again here in 2007-08.

She's like the wind. Listen to Swayze.

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Blades of Glory

A Movie ReelBlades of Glory: 5 out of 10.

This film is super disappointing. Isn't Will Ferrell supposed to be funny?

Much better than "Blades of Glory" is "Blades of Steel", the Nintendo game I adored in the late 80s. Fight!

blades_of_steel_box_art

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The Best Linkin Park Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite Linkin Park songs

  1. Faint
  2. Lying From You
  3. Points of Authority
  4. In The End
  5. Bleed it Out

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Jeff Musselman: Traded For Mookie

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

Jeff Musselman was a nice little lefty out of the pen back in 1987. That season he went 12-5, which earned him this lovely Topps All-Star Rookie card. He would play his last MLB game in 1990, a mere three seasons later.

Musselman is likely best known around these parts as part of the package that brought Mookie Wilson over from the Mets in 1989. That was a fun time in Blue Jays history, and Mookie was the spark that propelled us to our 2nd American League Eastern Division pennant.

We started the season 12-24 and that's when Jimy Williams got canned and Cito Gaston took over. Mookie joined the squad on July 31, a great gift for my mother's birthday, and on September 30 Tom Henke struck out Baltimore Orioles pinch-hitter Larry Sheets to clinch the pennant.

And yes, I will be sharing "Help Us, Mookie" soon.

Jeff Musselman

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Maple Leafs 8, Bruins 2

LeafsIt's too late, but that was a hell of a lotta fun, wasn't it?

Sure, we've won 7 or our past 10, but we're still 6 points out of 8th and sitting in 12th, and I'm not drinking that blue kool aid. Well, maybe just a sip...

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
30-29-10
70 points
Tied for 12th in Conference
8-2 Win vs. Boston
4-1 Loss vs. New Jersey
3-2 Win vs. Washington
M. Sundin - 74
N. Antropov - 52
T. Kaberle - 45

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Buffalo Eyewitness News

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

If you're not from Toronto, you can't appreciate our relationship with Buffalo, New York. We get the ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX Buffalo affiliate stations, not to mention WNED, the Buffalo PBS station. When I was younger, we didn't have hundreds of television stations. I remember getting 29 or so stations, and many of those were from Buffalo.

I love this WKBW 7 Buffalo Eyewitness News Nightcast opening from 1988 because it's typical of what I think about when I think about Buffalo.

  • Irv Weinstein is the Eyewitness News anchor I knew best. It's too bad Irv isn't featured in this clip, because to me he is Buffalo.
  • They say Irv was first to use that "It's 11 o'clock, do you know where your children are?" line. That's just awesome.
  • Buffalo was all about the Bills and Sabres and Bisons. Only one more subject was more Buffalo....
  • Fires! It's awesome this clip's lead story is a fire. Buffalo fires dominated the Buffalo news. I often wondered as a kid why Toronto didn't have fires like they have in Buffalo so regularly. Did they not have bricks when they built Buffalo homes?

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My Last Rob Ford Quote

cityhallRob Ford is simply too easy a target, and posting his dumb-ass quotes just isn't as much fun as it should be.

If you Google rob ford quotes, this entry I posted about two years ago is #2. Then, a year ago this week, I posted his fantastic quote about bike lanes. That sucker is the gold standard.

This will be the last Rob Ford quote I post. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Go to the Orient, go to Hong Kong. You want to see workaholics? Those Oriental people work like dogs... they sleep beside their machines. The Oriental people, they're slowly taking over... they're hard, hard workers.

It's not as good as the bike lane quote, but it ain't bad.

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The Curious Cultural Journey of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

LinkThe Curious Cultural Journey of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" - Earlier this week, a contestant on American Idol sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". The dude did a pretty good job (yes, I saw it, but this isn't about that) and Simon mentioned it was one of his favourite tunes. I get the idea that's true of a great number of people with whom this song resonates.

Although Jeff Buckley's cover has the most fans, I've written extensively about the Gord Downie cover of "Hallelujah" that appears in the movie Saint Ralph. Rarely a day goes by that I don't hear from someone who has come across an entry on that page and wants me to share the MP3.

With this AI exposure, the curious cultural journey of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" continues, and I'm just happy to play a small role in the whole fantastic percolation. This link is to a source that does a thorough job of analyzing the whole thing, complete with graphs and charts. It's great reading for any "Hallelujah" fan, but when you're done, don't forget to check out my Gord Downie's "Hallelujah" collection.

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Freddie P Returns to CFNY

radioI've got a radio in my shower and this morning it was tuned to 102.1. At about 7:40am or so, I heard a familiar voice. Freddie P was in the studio, chatting with the crew that took over after Humble & Fred left CFNY for Mojo.

Freddie P was in the building because he was scheduled to appear with John Derringer on Q107, but Dean Blundell showed some class by letting Fred be heard on 102.1 for the first time since the spring of 2001. It was great hearing his voice again, I'm just sorry it was only for a few minutes and that it wasn't accompanied by another dude.

Sometimes the shower can act like a time machine.

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Snow

snowflakeUncle!

I give up. It's relentless. Since my shovel broke from being abused all winter long, Mother Nature hammered us again and I almost broke my back trying to clear all that snow without a damn handle on my shovel. The crack in the base I can manage, but you don't realize the importance of the handle until it's gone.

The forecast for the weekend promises another 1-3 cm tomorrow and 10-15 cm on Saturday. I give up. I need a new shovel.

I'm scheduled to play a slo-pitch tournament on Easter weekend. This one is outside in Etobicoke, and I'm thinking we're going to need snow shoes. Al Gore teased me with the promise of warm Canadian winters and now I feel cheated.

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CityTV CityPulse Sports Team 1984

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

Here's a promo for CityTV's CityPulse sports back in 1984. The team consisted of Peter Gross, Debbie Van Kiekebelt and Jim McKenny. Join me after the clip for more discussion, won't you?

Who were these guys and where are they now?

Peter Gross was an out-of-work actor driving a cab when he picked up Moses Znaimer one day and asked him for a job. He was sports director at CityTV in the 1980s and today can be heard reading sports for 680 News.

Debbie Van Kiekebelt was an Olympic Pentathlete, Canada's female athlete of the year in 1971 and Canada's first woman sportscaster when she took the gig at CityTV. In the video above, she can be seen wearing a Toronto tee. I too wore a Toronto tee, but it never won me a damn thing.

Jim McKenny scored 327 points in 594 games as a Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman. That's the fourth highest total for defencemen in franchise history. Today, you'll still catch him on CityTV, talking sports. The more things change...

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Kerry Joseph An Argo?

argosThe Toronto Argonauts appear to have landed a bonafide starting quarterback who's not in his 40s. Sources say the Argos have acquired the Canadian Football League's reigning outstanding player, Kerry Joseph, for a group of players. We'll likely get the details tomorrow at 10am.

Joseph ranked third in CFL passing last season with 4,002 yards and guided the Roughriders to a 12-6 record and their first Grey Cup appearance since 1997.

Arrrrrrgoooooos!

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The Ballad of Tom Henke

bluejaysI wrote about Tom Henke yesterday and Stephanie suggested I insert "The Ballad of Tom Henke". I didn't want to bury such a great song in the comments, so this entry is all about "The Ballad of Tom Henke".

"The Ballad of Tom Henke" appeared on the same Blue Jays compilation that gave us "Jays to the Top", "Sunny Jays" and, of course, "OK Blue Jays (Let’s Play Ball!)".

Term-in-a-tor, Term-in-a-toooor...

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Maple Leafs 1, Devils 4

LeafsIf the Leafs lose one more game, just one more, I'm going to stop believing in them.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
29-29-10
68 points
Tied for 12th in Conference
4-1 Loss vs. New Jersey
3-2 Win vs. Washington
3-2 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
M. Sundin - 71
N. Antropov - 50
T. Kaberle - 43

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The Jeff Healey Band - See The Light

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 Jeff Healey Band - See The Light
If the only Jeff Healey song you know is "Angel Eyes", download this sucker, turn up the volume and enjoy. The man could play.

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Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Medley

musicDo you remember the Sean Connery movie Finding Forrester? It wasn't a bad little film, I recall enjoying it at the time, but today the first thing I remember about the movie is the song that played during the closing credits.

It was "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "What A Wonderful World" tied together and it was so mellow and sweet I was sure to wait for the soundtrack credits to learn who was behind this intoxicating medley. It was Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, a name I had never seen before.

I soon learnt Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a recently deceased Hawaiian musician and that his medley of "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" was his signature song. I've heard it since in other films and commercials and here it is, an ideal song to take us away as we await yet another snow storm.

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Tom Henke: An Absolute Stud

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

When B.J. Ryan went down about a year ago, I wrote a little tribute to Tom Henke. He is, after all, my favourite Toronto Blue Jays pitcher of all time.

When I was growing up, the first thing I'd read in the newspaper was the box score from the previous night's Blue Jays game. Baseball is all about stats, so I'd monitor each pitcher's ERA, SOs, BBs and IP. Read this quote from the 88 Topps blog and tell me if you know what an ERA+ is.

Henke was an absolute stud. He had a rough 28 innings in 1984, but otherwise the rest of his career was stellar. After 1984, the lowest ERA+ he posted was 127, and he finished at 156 for his career. Here is the full list of all pitchers in history with at least 700 IP, a WHIP under 1.1, and ERA+ over 150. Just four guys. The other guys are all HOFers, probably.

Tom Henke

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Gary Gygax, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumGary Gygax was 69. He co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon.

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Brett Favre Retires

nflI'm too busy right now to do this justice, but I'm disappointed Brett Favre is calling it quits after 17 seasons. He's going out on his terms, at the top of his game, but the fan in me wants one more year.

Brett Favre was my kind of player, the epitome of heart. The AP article I just read says "he dazzled fans with his grit, heart and rocket of an arm". Damn straight. I became a Favre fan in 1992 and when he led the Packers to a Super Bowl win in 1997, I celebrated like the home team had triumphed. With Favre gone, I couldn't tell you who my favourite player in the NFL is. This is the end of an era for me.

So you see, I wasn't ready for this ride to end. He's started 275 consecutive games, a guy can get used to that kind of dependability.

Here are a few entries I've written about Brett Favre over the past five years.

He retires with 5,377 career completions in 8,758 attempts for 61,655 yards and 442 touchdowns.

Brett Favre

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The Cult of Oprah

bibleIt's 9:17pm, do you know where your wife is? Check the computer. If your wife is anything like my wife, she's attending the church of Oprah.

That's right, Taryn has registered on Oprah.com for a 10-week Web seminar with Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth, a spiritual self-help guide that's the latest pick of Oprah's Book Club. The first webcast began at 9pm.

I've got to give Oprah some credit, she knows how to press the right buttons. My mom was over on the weekend and she and Taryn had a looooong discussion about this Eckhart Tolle book. As they discussed A New Earth, it sounded more like a religion than a self-help guide. I've been living with an Oprah fan for 12 years now, and it's always been rather culty, but this is the tipping point.

I'm sure it's more harmless Oprah bubble gum, I just hope these 700,000 fanatics don't break the Internet.

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Making Cash From Your Blog

moneyOver five years of blogging has taught me a thing or two about Google Adsense, the program responsible for the ads you see on the left of this page. I closely monitor traffic trends and how it relates to monies earned from Google Adsense and I now believe I know where the cash comes from..

Before I tell all, let's break traffic into two distinct groups: The Regulars and The One Hit Wonders.

The Regulars - The Regulars are those who return on a regular basis because they like the content. Most have this site bookmarked or click on over from the same blog as part of a routine. It's not unusual for a regular reader to visit ten times in a single week.

The One Hit Wonders - The One Hit Wonders account for the bulk of traffic to this site. In fact, about 90% of visits are by these folks who have clicked through following a Google search or via a link on a site they read regularly. It's likely they were seeking the Edgefest 2008 lineup, Bill Barilko's statistics or perhaps good songs for a wedding, and they've clicked through to grab what they wanted and then disappeared in cyberspace. They won't be heard from again.

I get paid by Google every time somebody clicks an ad on the left, and when the amount owed to me exceeds $100, Google mails me a cheque. In my experience, almost all cash made from this blog has come from The One Hit Wonders. The Regulars simply don't covert.

When you stop and think about it, this isn't surprising. The Regulars are just here for the content, so why would they click an ad? The One Hit Wonders, however, are looking for something, and if I don't have what they're looking for, they very well may find it in a Google ad served up on my site.

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Unencrypting WiFi Networks

wifiThe other day I was downtown with an hour to kill and I had some work to do. I had my laptop with me, but I needed a WiFi hotspot so I could jump on the web. Sitting in the McDonalds in the Eaton Centre at Queen and Yonge, I started scanning for an open network.

The One Zone wireless network was strongest, as you'd expect considering its radio access points are installed on streetlighting poles, but it's not free. Several other WiFi networks were encrypted. One, named The Apple Store, was left open and was just strong enough to get me online so I could do what I needed to do. I was very happy I found it.

This got me thinking... Isn't it awesome when you find an open WiFi network when you need one? It's been drilled into our heads that we need to encrypt our networks, but why? Is the fear that someone will use the connection for illegal activity? If so, why do so many coffee shops and hotels offer open free hotspots?

I'm starting to think of an open WiFi network as a sign of good citizenship. Share access and earn karma credits, spread the love. It's for the greater good, isn't it?

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The Bearded, Neutered Wonder

Canadian TireIt's been two years since we lost The Canadian Tire Guy, and I'm missing him now more than ever. Love 'em or hate 'em, you remember the Canadian Tire ads featuring Ted Simonett as the bearded, neutered male. Quick, tell me about a Canadian Tire ad you've seen since CTG left our screens?

The absence of The Canadian Tire Guy hasn't made anything better. In fact, it's made things worse. After two years, it's time to resurrect this poor bastard and make things right again.

Canadian-Tire

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Jeff Healey, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJeff Healey was 41. He was a legendary Juno-winning rock and jazz musician who taught himself to play guitar by laying the instrument across his lap.

Fourteen months ago I shared a little story about Jeff Healey after I read he had major surgery to remove cancerous tissue from both lungs. I'm sharing that story again here as I remember a fantastic musician and local legend.

I always liked Jeff Healey. I had the 45 single for "Confidence Man" and See the Light on cassette. It was a solid album with "Angel Eyes", one hell of a sweet tune. I liked Jeff Healey well before a priest told me we were related.

Apparently, I had a distant relative in Ireland who was a Roman Catholic priest. I met him in the early 90s when he was visiting my grandmother. He asked me if I knew the blind musician Jeff Healey. When I answered in the affirmative, he continued to tell me that Jeff Healey was a second cousin of mine. I thought that was pretty cool.

You'll be missed, cuz.

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No Country for Old Men

A Movie ReelNo Country for Old Men: 9 out of 10.

After seeing Juno a couple of weeks ago, I finally finished off my 2007 must-see list with No Country For Old Men, which I caught in theatres this afternoon. "Caught" is the wrong term, as you don't really catch No Country For Old Men. It's as elusive as Anton Chigurh and still, hours later, I find myself wrestling with this exceptional film.

As one who absolutely hates spoilers, I assure you I'm writing this in a fashion that won't ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. This, in itself, isn't easy, because there are pages and pages I wish to write about the ending alone.

Instead, I'll regurgitate what you already know, if you've read any reviews of this film. The direction by the Coen Brothers is awesome, every actor nails their role and this might just be the best Coen Brothers movie to date, and that says just about everything you need to know.

Now about that ending...

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Mr. Dressup Meets the Polka Dot Door

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

I've written extensively about the children's shows I grew up watching in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Visit my TV time machine if you want to see what I saw. Two shows I watched as a wee lad were Polka Dot Door and Mr. Dressup.

The closing credits for these two shows were eerily similar. They both played the familiar song we associated with the show while cartoon images of the characters were displayed.

Here's Mr. Dressup's closing credits:

Here's Polka Dot Door's closing credits:


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Premonition

A Movie ReelPremonition: 3 out of 10.

Have you ever watched a movie and then completely forgot you had ever seen it? Taryn and I watched Sandra Bullock's Premonition either Wednesday or Thursday, and I just now remembered I had even seen it. Yes, it's that memorable.

Premonition isn't very good, either. It tries to get funky with the plot, but it comes across like Memento made by primary school students, except I think I'd care about that movie. In this movie, it's impossible to give a rat's ass. Surprisingly, I'm not recommending this complete waste of 90 minutes.

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Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 2

LeafsWith all hope seemed lost, the Leafs have gone 4-0-1 in their last five games. The same thing happened last season and the season before. There was no season before that one.

Mats Sundin was the offensive hero last night and Vesa Toskala was once again excellent. I'm old enough to remember a goaltender controversy at the beginning of this season. Now if I could only remember that other chap's name. Andrew something...

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
29-28-10
68 points
Tied for 11th in Conference
3-2 Win vs. Washington
3-2 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
4-3 Win vs. Florida
M. Sundin - 70
N. Antropov - 49
T. Kaberle - 42

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February 2008 Search Engine Referrals

Search StringsThese are the top searches that referred people to this site in February of 2008. The three wedding searches below all resolve at this entry. That's one of only a handful of entries on this site with "sponsored links" at the bottom. Move over Daddy Warbucks!

  1. wedding playlist
  2. wedding playlists
  3. marge simpson nude
  4. tie domi
  5. big shiny tunes 3
  6. toronto blog
  7. big shiny tunes 4
  8. big shiny tunes 7
  9. i choo choo choose you
  10. wedding song playlist

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Bill Clinton Endorses Obama?

spookyLaugh if you will, but we've been playing will.i.am's "We Are The Ones" quite a bit these last two days. Even my kids love it and can be heard chanting "O-BAM-A, O-BAM-A" as they play around the house. The Obama message of change and hope is only getting stronger.

Meanwhile, Hillary's latest ad uses scare tactics, appealing to the fears of the voters. Watch it here.

Now watch this 23 second clip of Bill Clinton.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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My Beloved Olympus Stylus 410

picturesI've got 4,851 photos in my Flickr account, and the vast majority were taken with my trusty ol' Olympus Stylus 410. I got this 4mp Olympus camera for my birthday in June 2004 and four years later I still love this camera.

A couple of years ago, my wife wanted a camera, so we went out and bought her the newer version of the same model, except 6 megapixels instead of 4. You'd think a more recent version of the same camera with more megapixels would be a better camera, but it's not. I'm never happy with the pictures from that camera and if both are within arms reach, I always grab mine.

Four years is pretty old for a digital camera, and I have no interest in an upgrade, but recently about 5-10% of shots taken won't render. It's as if they're only partially complete and I'm forced to delete them. Whether I like it or not, I might be getting a new camera this birthday, but I won't be buying into the Myth of Megapixels.

What's a good point and shoot digicam in the $300 to $500 range to replace my beloved Olympus Stylus 410?

stylus 410

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7am Toronto Reload-a-thon

mouseThere's nothing I like better then waking up at 7am on my Saturday so I can press the F5 key on my laptop hundreds and hundreds of times. Today is the Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation registration day for spring and summer 2008, so hundreds of parents like myself had to log on at 7am to secure a spot for swimming lessons, day camps or whatever.

My wife thinks I'm better at this because I work on computers. The fact is, all I do is visit http://efun.toronto.ca/torontofun/ and reload the page until I get in, but apparently I'm good at it. She carefully put together instructions as to which swimming lesson to get James in and which camps to get Michelle in and so forth, and at 7am I was online and F5ing away.

My mom tells me she used to have to physically go to the swimming pool to secure a spot and that I'm lucky I can do this from my own bed. She might be right, but when the clock hit 7:15am and still hadn't made contact, I was pretty ticked off at the whole process.

By 7:20am I was in and our kids' summers were successfully planned. You should expect nothing less from a professional reloader.

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In Like A Lion

snowflakeAfter a few years with little snowfall, my shovel got used to one, maybe two big snowstorms a winter. This winter, however, there have been several days of heavy duty shovelling.

My shovel got one hell of a workout, and earlier today, as I was shovelling the walk, it gave out on me. The handle came clean off and a massive crack appeared at the base.

Now that we're into March, I'm going to get through this winter with this shovel come hell or high water. There's no way I'm buying a new shovel this close to spring. Here's the damage caused by the snowiest Toronto winter in recent memory.

Shovel: RIP

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Swansea Hockey Wraps for 2008

hockeySwansea Hockey is wrapping up its 35th season, and it's the season that almost wasn't. MasterCard Canada's generous donation at the last moment saved this season from cancellation as the city was delaying the opening of outdoor rinks until January. Thankfully, the show went on and it got me on skates regularly for the first time since I was a 12 year old playing Swansea Hockey at this same Rennie Park.

The Swansea Hockey Association might be the best kept secret in the city. It's affordable and accessible outdoor hockey and both James and I had a blast this season. Today was our last Learn to Play Hockey clinic so I brought my digital camera along to take some shots. Little did I know the surprise that was in store for these four, five and six year olds.

The Toronto Marlies sent a squad to Rennie Park to entertain the kids, and this team included the very popular Duke the Dog. My son loves this guy, and he was seeing him again today for the third time in less than a month. It was a fantastic morning and I can't wait for another season of Swansea Hockey.

Here are a few shots. The whole shebang is in this photoset.

march1-2008 (13) march1-2008 (33) march1-2008 (28) march1-2008 (24)

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Maple Leafs 2, Lightning 3

LeafsPavel Kubina is really getting on my nerves lately. Last night, he took a stupid penalty in overtime that cost us a point. He's overpaid with a no-trade clause he decided not to waive and now he blew a great little comeback in Tampa.

Luckily, there's a slight window of hope. If the Leafs fail to make the playoffs this year a clause clicks in on Kubina's contract, giving the opportunity to trade Kubina. It's a short window, from the June draft to August 15. I'll bet Kubina is playing elsewhere next October.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
28-28-10
66 points
12th in Eastern Conference
3-2 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
4-3 Win vs. Florida
5-0 Win vs. Ottawa
M. Sundin - 67
N. Antropov - 48
T. Kaberle - 42

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