September 2008 Archives

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The Force Is Strong With This One

LeafsIt's nice to see Pension Plan Puppets, a fun little Leaf fan blog, enjoyed my Luke Schenn photoshoppery.

I used that same picture again last week when I declared Luke Schenn was our Scott Stevens. It took me five periods to realize how damn special this kid is. He's already the best Leafs defenseman on the ice, although that's not saying a great deal.

After this little spark last night to seal the deal for Tosky and the boys, I'm thinking Scott Stevens is selling the great Luke Schenn short. I'm going with #4 Bobby Orr.


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Looking Back at Booner.net

googleThis is fun. In honour of Google's 10th birthday, they've brought back their oldest available index so you can Google like it's January 2001. Get your fill off it now b/c they're only keeping it online for a month.

In January 2001, I was focusing on a site I aborted shortly thereafter. Before the blog we called these personal journally sites "home pages" and my primary home page was BOONER.net. Below is the Google search for booner back in January of 2001.

I decided to let booner.net go and put all my eggs in torontomike.com. In November of 2002, I decided my home page was actually a blog, and a few years later I picked up torontomike.com. The plan was to make torontomike.com the blog and torontomike.com my eConsulting Services site.

One day I'll actually finish that phase of the project.

booner

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Classic Albums: Nirvana - Nevermind

nirvanaClassic Albums: Nirvana - Nevermind was a documentary DVD released in March 2005 as part of the Classic Albums series. It featured interviews specifically for this release with members of the band and "Nevermind" album producer Butch Vig about the recording of the album. Other interview highlights include Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, and Steve Diggle from The Buzzcocks.

If you have an hour, this is solid gold.

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Weezer - Troublemaker

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Troublemaker" by Weezer.

I sorta thought I was done with Weezer. Nobody was a bigger fan of their blue album than yours truly. It was a play-through that I played through hundreds of times. Pinkerton was a tremendous follow-up and I saw the band live twice based on the strength of these two albums.

Then, they disappeared for a few years and I moved on. The green album was okay, but now I just enjoy the hits and spin the blue album and Pinkerton once in a while. "Troublemaker" is a nice tune and will probably appear on SLS20.

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Does VANOC Own Our National Anthem?

canadaNot only am I not an economist, but I'm also not a lawyer. As a non-lawyer, I find myself confused by copyright law.

This story says the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee has trademarked the line "With glowing hearts". That's right, they've trademarked a line from "O Canada", our national anthem.

VANOC would only challenge the commercial use of the mottoes if a business began using them to create a specific, unauthorized commercial association with the 2010 Winter Games, said the statement.

O Canada is over 100 years old and, according to the Department of Canadian Heritage, is in the public domain so may be used without permission from the government.

How can they trademark something that's in the public domain? How can they trademark something they didn't create or invent?

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Boom Goes The Dynamite

MoneyI am not an economist. I took economics in grade 11, but that was it. I remember something about supply and demand... the rest is a little hazy.

I have been following the US government's $700 billion bank bailout plan, and I am aware the House of Representatives has voted it down. According to preliminary tallies, the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 777.68 points, surpassing the 684.81 loss on Sept. 17, 2001 - the first trading day after the September 11 attacks. Before you jump out of that window, keep in mind the 7% decline does not rank among the top 10 percentage declines.

Watching 60 Minutes last night, the $700 billion bank bailout plan looked like a done deal. Dubya and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke praised the bill and urged Congress to pass it quickly. The House rejected the package 228-205.

If you're like me, and you've forgotten your grade 11 economics class, here's how the United States got in this mess. It's all about housing. Earlier this decade, it was much easier to get a mortgage. US home prices soared about 85% from 1996 through 2006 in inflation-adjusted dollars, creating a bubble. Then, as good bubbles do, this bubble popped. Boom goes the dynamite.

When that bubble burst, investment firms like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Washington Mutual were left with staggering losses. Risky borrowers scored mega mortgages, which is all fine and dandy when you can sell your house for more than you owe, but when the bubble burst, it was all loan defaults and foreclosures.

17.44% of visitors to this site are coming from the United States of America. To those 17.44% I direct the following questions. How is this current economic crisis affecting you personally? How difficult is it to secure credit these days? Is the worst behind you, or do you believe the worst is yet to come?

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60 Concert Posters From Ten Amazing Artists

Link60 Concert Posters From Ten Amazing Artists - Here are 60 inspiring concert poster designs from 10 amazing artists, as compiled by Smashing Magazine.

Pixies

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Toyko Police Club - Graves

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Graves" by Tokyo Police Club.

Instead of telling you why I'm submitting "Graves" for SLS consideration, I'm going to blow your mind with an amazing fact about this Elephant Shell album by Newmarket's Tokyo Police Club.

TPC cover "Friends of P" by The Rentals. No foolin'. Friend of freakin' P. I couldn't make this stuff up.

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The Bourne Ultimatum

A Movie ReelThe Bourne Ultimatum: 8 out of 10.

Like most of you, I enjoyed the Jason Bourne trilogy based on Robert Ludlum's books. I really liked The Bourne Identity, didn't like The Bourne Supremacy as much, and I think The Bourne Ultimatum might just be the best of the bunch.

And just in case I've forgotten what I thought about The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, I have this handy, dandy blog to remind me.

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Let's All Hate This Documentary

Thumbs DownIt was well over a year ago that I first wrote about Let's All Hate Toronto, a documentary that pokes fun at the fact all of Canada outside the GTA seems to dislike those of us in the capital of the universe.

I loved the title, and I loved the premise, but I didn't get around to watching this doc until I saw it on CBC Newsworld last week. I was ready for a good roast, but instead I got a big chunk of stinkin' cheese.

It was unwatchable. I've never been so bored by a documentary. It's hard to believe a documentary with a title as interesting as that turned out so bland.

I'm fine with everybody hating Toronto, that doesn't bother me one bit, what bothers me is the fact I wasted an hour of my life wading through this drivel.

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Slap Shot Theatrical Trailer

Movies"They spent their own dough to get here, and they came here to see us! All right, let's show 'em what we got, guys! Get out there on the ice and let 'em know you're there. Get that fuckin' stick in their side. Let 'em know you're there! Get that lumber in his teeth. Let 'em know you're there!" ~ Reggie Dunlop, Slap Shot


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The New Math

CalculatorI spent the day working on the new math.

99¢ laminate flooring
+ a basement floor that isn't as level as you thought it was
= 42 swears

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Paul Newman, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumPaul Newman was 83. He was the legendary film star whose brilliant blue eyes, good looks, cool style and talent made him one of Hollywood's top actors over six decades. He appeared in more than 50 movies, including "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting", earning nine Oscar nominations for acting and winning the best actor honour for 1986's "The Color of Money."

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The Future is X-Rated

USAThe popcorn is popping and the kids are off to bed, I'm watching Obama v. McCain tonight. I'm not sure why I'm bothering, I may as well just watch the end of the Leafs game. You see, according to an ad in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal this morning, McCain has already won.

26Sep_Friday_WSJ

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Ralph Sazio, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumRalph Sazio was 86. He won three Grey Cups as a coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and served as Toronto Argonauts' team president from 1981 to 1990.

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Songs About Hair

The Number FiveThe best "hair" songs (or songs with "hair" in the title)

  1. Hair of the Dog - Nazereth
  2. Hockey Hair - Atmosphere
  3. Hair - The Cowsills
  4. Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair - Nina Simone
  5. Black Hair - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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We Rule In Complete Games

JaysI'm crazy busy with a couple of web projects, but I wanted to throw down my little observation about our Toronto Blue Jays and complete games by starting pitchers.

Roy Halladay won his 20th game of the season yesterday, and it was his 9th complete game. That's pretty amazing for this day and age. Halladay will finish the season as the league leader in that department. If you look back over the past 12 season, the Jays have pretty much dominated the AL in this department.

2008 - Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
2007 - Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
2006 - C.C. Sabathia, Indians
2005 - Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
2004 - Mark Mulder, A's & Sidney Ponson, O's & Jake Westbrook, Indians
2003 - Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
2002 - Paul Byrd, Royals
2001 - Steve Sparks, Tigers
2000 - David Wells, Blue Jays
1999 - David Wells, Blue Jays
1998 - Scott Erickson, O's
1997 - Roger Clemens, Blue Jays & Pat Hentgen, Blue Jays
1996 - Pat Hentgen, Blue Jays

That's 8 of the past 12 season a Blue Jay has led the American League in complete games. And there's four different Jays on that list, too. I'm just sayin'...

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Letterman on John McCain

tvLeave it to David Letterman to tell it like it is. Last night, his scheduled guest bailed. Letterman let John McCain have it in typical Letterman style.

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Finding Bill Barilko

LeafsThose who Google Bill Barilko usually end up at my tribute to Bashin' Bill. Here's the summary I wrote for that page.

It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs.

The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship.

Marlene Pearce found my Bill Barilko page via a Google search and sent me the following note.

I am the daughter of Ron Boyd who was the helicopter pilot who found the crash site of Bill Barilko and Dr. Hudson's Fairchild 24. If you'd like more information and articles, government letters, etc. from my dad's scrapbook, I would be happy to share this with you. The story of the discovery of the site is quite interesting.

As you can imagine, I was very interested in everything Marlene could share with me about the discovery of Barilko's crash site. This is something I want to share with fellow fans of the legend of Bill Barilko. This, in essence, is why I blog.

Marlene sent me four images I'm sharing below. The verbiage above each image are Marlene's words. If you click a picture, it will take you to the Flickr page for the image where you can view it at a larger size.

1. Newspaper Article explaining the entire situation around the discovery of the plane and crash site. I think you'll find it interesting. My father's name was Ron Boyd and he was with his engineer, Mr. Phil Weston.

Barilko Newspaper2

2. A photo from the newspaper of the wreckage, along with original photos my father took with his camera of the wreckage, and the crash site as he and Mr. Phil Weston flew over it.

Barilko Newspaper Pictures & Photo3

3. A letter from the Department of Lands and Forests giving a commendation to my father and to those involved in the discovery.

Barilko Letter fromDOLF3

4. A letter from F. A. MacDougall, Deputy Minister to the Department of Lands and Forests re: my father's work in this case.

Barilko Letter sent to DOLF

Thanks, Marlene, for taking the time to scan these images and send them to me. It pleases me that this exercise brought back wonderful memories of your father and his career.

He's our Buddy Holly, immortalized by the Hip's "Fifty Mission Cap", and scorer of the 1951 Stanley Cup winner for my beloved Maple Leafs. Every year, Bill Barilko's legend grows.

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Best Toronto Blogs

cntowerLet's take the pulse of Toronto's blogosphere. I'm breaking blogs into three categories: best independent blog, best professional/media blog and best Toronto Mike blog. That last one is a little biased, so we'll start with it.

Here are five blogs I'd like to recognize because they're run by frequent commenters on this blog, torontomike.com, or by friends of yours truly.

Here are five blogs that I believe to be one-man-shows. They're independent and written and maintained by a single person, just like this blog you're reading right now.

Here are five blogs I read, even though the writers are paid by large media empires (or small independent organizations) to write 'em.

I've always felt this city was under served by the blogosphere. We deserve better blogs. Please start the next great Toronto blog.

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Luke Schenn is Scott Stevens

leafsI realize Luke Schenn's NHL career has just entered its fifth period of preseason play, but I've seen all I need to see.

Luke Schenn is Scott Stevens. And no, I'm never wrong about such things.

Luke-Schenn

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Sil Campusano: Jimy's Guy

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

In an effort to preserve brain cells, here's what I once wrote about Sil Campusano when commenting on Juan Beniquez' card.

Does anyone remember the rookie who was supposed to start in left field when George Bell was moved to DH in '88? It was Sil Campusano who retired with a .202 batting average, 5 home runs and 23 RBIs. Hey Jimy, if you're going to piss off the AL MVP, make sure it's to promote someone who will manage more than a couple of dozen rbis in his career.

Sil "the thrill" Campusano lasted half a season with Toronto before going back to the minors and being being Rule V drafted away by the Phillies.

Sil Campusano

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Al Green - Here I Am (Come And Take Me)

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.

Al Green - Here I Am (Come And Take Me)
Kids today are losing their soul. Ask that 25 year old you work with about Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke or Al Green. They won't have a clue who you're talking about, but they know their T-Pain and Akon, that's for sure.

I love this Al Green song from '73. But then again, who doesn't?

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Live Blogging A Toronto Morning Show

RadioHumble Howard has invited me to sit in with the new EZ Rock morning show. It should be a crowded room as I join Humble, Kim Stockwood, Colleen Rusholme and Rick Hodge.

I'm going to sit in and live blog the show, assuming they can throw my laptop on the net. I want to document how it all comes together for those of us not in the biz. If nothing else, it should be good for shits and giggles.

Since I'll be there, hanging with the EZ Morning crew, I can get any info you want. What are you most curious about in the morning show radio universe? Do you have any specific questions for Humble, Kim, Colleen or Rick?

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The Great Milk Switcheroo

foodI've always loved milk. It's pretty much been my drink of choice for as long as I can remember. Growing up, we always had plenty of 2% milk in the fridge, so as an adult I stuck with what I knew. Our house goes through 8 litres of milk a week.

This summer, my wife decided to pull the old milk switcheroo. Instead of my usual 2% milk, she brought home 1% milk. I poured myself a tall glass of this 1% stuff and gave it a go. I swear, I couldn't tell the difference.

Now we're going through 8 litres of 1% milk each week. And yes, we've had a little chat about skim milk and I've put my foot down. I can only hand a 1% reduction every 30 years or so.

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M.I.A. - Paper Planes

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Paper Planes" by M.I.A.

This tune has had a very interesting year. It was released on iTunes back in February, it got my attention shortly thereafter when I read about MTV's refusal to air the video with the gunshots and then I hit up YouTube to hear what all the fuss was about.

I liked the tune, thought it was awfully catchy, but it wasn't until I started hearing it again during the Pineapple Express trailer that I started to really dig it. Now, 102.1 has decided to add it to their playlist and I've been catching it on the radio. All this exposure has me finally succumbing and nominating it for SLS20 consideration.

This one has legs.

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Las Vegas 51's Our AAA Farm Team

JaysVegas Geoff actually wrote me last night all exited that our AAA farm team would be playing in his backyard. I was surprised we couldn't find an affiliate closer to Toronto than the Las Vegas 51's.

Forever, Syracuse has been home to our AAA team, but the Syracuse Chiefs ended out 31-year relationship in favour of one with the Washington Nationals. Buffalo, which would have been a perfect fit, has signed with the New York Mets. It doesn't sound like we hada much choice but to sign a two-year agreement with a team in Vegas.

Our hockey team can call up a recruit and have him at the home arena in 15 minutes. The Jays will need a little more time.

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Sports Wishlist Flashback

rewindFour years ago today, I threw together a little sports wishlist. There were five items on my wishlist, and here they are. We'll revisit the five again after the flashback.

The following are my current sports wishes in no particular order.

  1. I wish Vince Carter would stop being such a suck. He just signed a long-term, big-money contract to play in this city and now he wants to be traded. I wish he'd rescind that request, play his ass off, stay healthy and lead us back to the playoffs.
  2. I wish the Blue Jays could afford to re-sign Carlos Delgado. He's an awesome player, a great person and a our biggest offensive threat. I'd love to see the Jays keep him.
  3. I wish the Buffalo Bills were a better football team. Drew Bledsoe is awfully disappointing and these 13-10 losses are hard to watch. It's going to be a long season.
  4. I wish the NHL season would resume. James had a great time wearing his hockey jersey and chanting Ca-na-da! Ca-na-da! during the World Cup. I think he'd really enjoy watching Leaf games with Daddy this season. It's a damn shame these millionaires can't figure this out for the fans. Without us fans, they're playing nothing more than a game of shinny on a pond.
  5. I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me.

A lot happens in four years.

  1. The Vince Carter era ended a couple of months later. We had a lot of history together. Luckily, he'll never win a thing. FUVC!
  2. Carlos left. He's never really been replaced. In Travis Snider we hope and trust.
  3. Over the past four years, I started liking football less and less. The militaristic style with interchangeable parts stopped appealing to me. Today, I don't read past the headlines and I haven't yet watched a minute of action, NFL or CFL.
  4. We got our hopes up in February of 2005 and the NHL season eventually started up again on July 21, 2005. We're still waiting to enjoy another Leafs playoff game, and it seems we'll be waiting a while.
  5. This was a lyric from a Pearl Jam song I dug. I still dig it.

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My Goal: 100,000 Unique Visitors

moneyTechnorati is releasing their State of the Blogosphere 2008 this week. I find this very interesting, as you can imagine, especially their statement "Blogs are Profitable".

The majority of bloggers we surveyed currently have advertising on their blogs. Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it's paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month. Note: median investment and revenue (which is listed below) is significantly lower. They are also earning CPMs.

Bloggers are sophisticated in using self serve tools for search, display, and affiliate advertising, and are increasingly turning to ad and blog networks. Many bloggers without advertising may consider it when their blogs grow - the inability to set up advertising will not be a factor.

Now I have a goal. I need 100,000 unique visitors each month. I'm almost half way there...

bloggers

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Pat Borders: MVP, Baby!

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

In an effort to preserve brain cells, here's what I once wrote about Pat Borders in June of 2006.

Pat Borders has finally retired at the age of 43. That means Mike Timlin is the only active player to have played in a World Series game for the Toronto Blue Jays. Timlin is 40 years old and 3-0 for the Boston Red Sox thus far in 2006.

Borders was always a personal favourite. I remember listening to his first career at-bat on the radio which was either a double, triple or home run, I can't recall. I do recall Jerry Howarth referring to him as the future with enormous potential. Always a decent contributor, Borders had a series for the ages against the Atlanta Braves in 1992, batting .450 and earning a permanent spot in the hearts of every Jays fan by winning the MVP award.

Pat Borders

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Some Day We'll Go All The Way

stanleycupEddie Vedder feels about the Chicago Cubs the way I feel about the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's in his blood, and he holds out hope, despite never seeing a championship in his lifetime.

Eddie wrote a great song for his team called "All the Way". I've embeded it below. As I listen to his passion and hope, I think about my Leafs. Some day, we too will go all the way... and many a tear will be shed.

I want a song like this. Who should write and sing it? Is Hayden a Leafs fan? Should The Rheostatics reform and make it happen? Can Blue Rodeo pull it off?


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Cease and Desist, You Old Fart

Justice"Barracuda" is a rockin' little tune from Heart's 1977 LP Little Queen. The Republican Party has been using it as Sarah Palin's theme song of sorts. Heart is more than a little pissed about this.

Heart sent a cease and desist letter to McCain's camp, but they're still playing the song, claiming they've obtained all necessary licenses. Apparently you can get clearance to use a song like this without actually getting permission from the artists.

I don't believe the ad below is legit, but it's damn funny. I actually thought it might be real until I did some digging and found this. It might be fake, but Heart really is donating 100% of the royalties to Obama's campaign.

f-you john mccain

Crank it up.

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Uninspired

canadaWe're less than a month away from a federal election in this country and I find myself completely uninspired. I'm part of that small percentage of Canadians who actually reads the news from Ottawa, gives serious thought to who gets my vote and actually casts a vote, so if I'm feeling this uninspired I can imagine how apathetic the average Canadian is at this time.

Sure, Stephen Harper hasn't been as frightening as some of us may have feared, but his social politics are just too misaligned for me to give him serious consideration. That leaves me with the Liberals, NDP and Green parties. Cast stones at me if you will, but I still don't consider the Green Party a legitimate threat in my riding, and as a fringe party, they too are cast aside by yours truly. That leaves me with the Liberal Party and NDP.

I've voted for our current MP, NDP Peggy Nash, the last two federal elections, but prior to that I supported the Liberal MP in my old riding. This time, Peggy Nash has to deal with a formidable opponent in Gerard Kennedy. Nash vs. Kennedy is going to be a nail-biter.

Both Nash and Kennedy inspire me more than the leaders of the two parties. In particular, I'm going to use this entry to call out St├ęphane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party.

St├ęphane Dion doesn't evoke an ounce of hope from me. He's completely uninspiring, making Harper appear Churchillian by comparison. I'll never understand why he was chosen to lead this party unless they were looking for someone to throw under the bus while they waited their turn. Dion's complete lack of charisma and absolute failure to motivate voters and energize the old Liberal faithful is the main reason I'm seriously thinking about voting NDP again.

Until Dion is gone, and I'll bet that happens sooner rather than later, his party will be awfully lucky to hold in to a slim minority, and the way I'm feeling, I'm betting Harper gets his majority.

The Liberals are a party without a leader, and without a leader there's nothing to vote for.

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Keswick Virgin

carI have never been to Keswick, Ontario. That's right, I've lived in Toronto for all of my 34 years yet I've never set foot in the Town of Georgina.

Today, that streak comes to a grinding halt as I've been invited to a BBQ in the birthplace of Curtis Joseph. And yes, I'm familiar with all the Keswick jokes and slightly concerned that I'll be turned away at the Keswick border for having too many teeth.

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Dr. James Andrews is Scary

medicalIs there a scarier person on the planet for baseball fans than Dr. James Andrews? Just hearing his name frightens me. This has been the case for as long as I can remember.

Non baseball fans won't know what I'm talking about, so here's a quick explanation. Dr. James Andrews is an orthopaedic surgeon from Birmingham, Alabama who diagnoses all the knee, elbow, and shoulder injuries belonging to Jays pitchers. I'm sure he does this for all teams, but I've only ever focused on Jays pitchers. When you hear a pitcher is off to see Dr. James Andrews, you fear the worst.

Shaun Marcum's MRI was just reviewed by "heralded sports surgeon" Dr. James Andrews and the news ain't good. He'll undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and will miss all of the 2009 season. Dr. James Andrews, of course, will perform the surgery.

He's the scariest dude in baseball. Every time I hear his name, I cringe and pray he's not visiting with Doc Halladay.

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Boat Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite songs with "boat" in the title

  1. Love Boat Captain - Pearl Jam
  2. Riverboat Fantasy - David Wilcox
  3. Missed the Boat - Modest Mouse
  4. Day-O (Banana Boat) - Harry Belafonte
  5. Sittin' on the Boat Dock - Freddy King

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Talk Like A Pirate Day

calendarIt won't be long until International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a stat day. In a mere 13 years it's gone from a silly parodic holiday to serious business. Check out Google's pirate edition.

For instructions on how to talk like a pirate, check out http://www.wikihow.com/Talk-Like-a-Pirate.

Arrr!

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Simpsons Department Store

memoryYouTube user Retrontario frequently uploads fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips never fail to bring back a ton of memories for me, so I feature them from time to time.

It's been a while since we've shopped at Simpsons. When I was a kid, Simpsons was a big deal. It was right up there with Sears and Eatons. The Simpsons location on Yonge Street was especially important because that's where the gang from Today's Special hung out.

That Simpsons location is now a Bay, and the name Simpsons hasn't been used since 1991. As I understand it, the Hudson's Bay Company actually bought Simpsons in 1978 and today it's Sears Canada that actually owns the rights to the name, even though most of the outlets were converted to Bay stores some time ago.

Here's an ad for Simpsons for those of you too young to remember this slice of Canadian department store history.


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Roast

HumourTonight my Thursday night softball team went out to dinner to celebrate our spectacular fourth place finish.

I decided I'd do something I've always wanted to do. I decided to roast everyone in attendance.

I've always been a fan of the roast. Let's face it, who doesn't want to be roasted? I wrote some A material and delivered it perfectly in front of 13 teammates at Alice Fazooli's. I think I've found my niche!

If you ever need a roast master, give me buzz.

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Ron Lancaster, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumRon Lancaster was 69. He was a legendary CFL quarterback, coach and general manager known during his playing days as the Little General.

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Put A Fork In Me

runningI had a blast running three times a week throughout the summer of 2007. Then, during a 17km run last November, I broke down.

I eventually tired of all the disappointing attempts at running again. I loved running, but every time I gave it another shot, I'd feel the same damn pain in my right leg and I'd have to stop. This usually happened at the 3.5km mark. I'd feel good for 3km, then the pain would set in, and then I'd spend the next week or so limping around.

As you can imagine, all this leg pain started to mess with activities I love like playing ball twice a week and going for nice long walks. I made a decision to shut it all down for the summer until baseball season was over. Then, I figured I'd try it again.

My baseball season ended Thursday and then I got a taste of that running high when I participated in the Terry Fox Run on Sunday, so tonight I decided to go for a real run for the first time in about four months. The result broke my heart.

It's the same pain in the same place and it's no better than it was last November. I hereby announce my retirement from the running game. Put a fork in me, I'm done.

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Re-Flex - The Politics Of Dancing

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.

Re-Flex - The Politics Of Dancing
With both a Canadian and American federal election looming, this song seems appropriate. Return to 1983 with Re-Flex's one and only hit, "The Politics of Dancing".

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Mr. Goohead

RadioAs the guy who helped Fred Patterson with canadianthinker.com, I happen to have access to some sweet audio gems, including a bunch of Mr. Goohead prank calls that fans of the old Humble & Fred show will remember. Many a morning I awoke to Mr. Goohead.

Here are 10 episodes of Mr. Goohead. Enjoy.

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My Dragon Boat Test Paddle

waterI've been invited to try out for a dragon boat team. Tonight I made my way to Port Credit in Mississauga for a one hour test paddle. If you don't know what dragon boating is, here's the Wiki page that explains this popular sport.

It might be popular, but it was new to me. I had never been a part of a dragon boat crew which is why I was so interested it giving it a whirl tonight. I've always wanted to be involved in a water sport but just never had the chance.

Ya know, it's not as easy as it looks. An hour was about all I could take tonight. I won't know until March if I'm on the team, but I hope I am. It was a lot of fun, it was beautiful on the Credit River and the upper body work can only help my power hitting at the plate.

Reach and catch... reach and catch. And take your boating exam with BoaterExam.com, a supporter of this blog.

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Dave Stieb: Simply the Best

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

Dave Stieb is the best starting pitcher the Jays have ever had. Roy Halladay is #2 on that all-time list. This, my friends, is not up for debate. It's a fact.

SOTD has Stieb as the best starting pitcher from 1982-1985. With that in mind, take note of this... In addition to his 1990 no-hitter, both of his last two starts in 1988 were one-hitters, with the lone single coming with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th inning in each game. Check out these gems.

And finally, in the greatest baseball song this side of Take Me Out To The Ball Game, Dave Stieb is the Dave who was putting down a smoker. It's true, you can look it up.

Dave Stieb

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Billy Talent & Anti-Flag - Turn Your Back

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Turn Your Back" by Billy Talent & Anti-Flag.

This is the first single from the new album. I don't believe they've named the new Billy Talent album yet, but my money's on Billy Talent III.

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SOWNY Show With Humble and Fred

radioI'm not a radio insider, I'm just a fan of the medium. I always have been. Perhaps it has something to do with watching WKRP or all those nights as a kid listening to Blue Jays baseball on my old transistor radio. As a fan of radio, especially Toronto radio, I'm always interested in what's new in this market, even when it applies to stations I don't listen to.

The big yellow board, officially known as The Southern Ontario/WNY Radio-TV Forum, is one place to check the pulse of radio in this city. The Sowny Show with moderator Craig Smith and Don Andrews is a one hour live audio program in which they discuss what's new in radio and speak to guests. Over the past six weeks they've spoke with both Humble Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson of the old Humble and Fred show, although they didn't appear together. I know, the title of this entry is a little deceiving, but it got you reading this far!

They appeared on separate shows, but both were honest and insightful making for great insider radio content. I didn't listen as a guy who knows them both personally, I listened as an old fan of their morning show and I thought it was awfully compelling. You don't hear this kind of brutal honesty very often.

SOWNY, bless their hearts, makes it a little tough to actually hear this show. Once I've navigated the 1997 frames, I'm never able to get that SOWNY Show player to actually work, so I've gone ahead and taken their MP3s and streamed them through my Odeo account. Guys, before you get your knickers in a knot, realize that this is only going to let more ears hear your show and that's what it's all about.

Here's Humble's appearance from August 11.

Here's Fred's appearance from September 8.

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Richard Wright, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumRichard Wright was 65. He was a founding member of the rock group Pink Floyd. He wrote "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Us and Them" for Dark Side of the Moon, and also worked on the group's epic compositions "Atom Heart Mother," "Echoes" and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond."

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An Endangered Species: The Raycroft Shirt

hangerPrior to the start of the Terry Fox Run on Sunday, I spotted something in High Park I thought was extinct. As it turns out, it's only endangered. I saw a youngster wearing a #1 Raycroft Leafs shirt.

I couldn't believe my eyes at first. I did a double take and then starting wondering if perhaps the young man was related to Andrew Raycroft or if he coincidentally had the same last name.

I snapped a picture and then cropped his face to protect his identity. The Raycroft shirt lives!

Wow

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A Father's Guide to Reclaiming the Wii

WiiWe got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas last year. Well, in reality, James got a Nintendo Wii. He's been hogging the thing, occasionally throwing his old man a bone by letting me take him on in Wii Sports baseball or tennis.

This weekend, I reclaimed the Wii. Follow these three steps and you too can take back the Wii.

Step One: Cough Up a Little Cash
Assuming your Wii is on your wifi network, and if it's not it really should be, visit the Wii Shop from the main menu and go to WiiWare. For $10 US, you can buy 1000 credits. This will be the best $10 you ever spend. Whip out the credit card and cough up the coin.

Step Two: Download a Browser
For 500 credits, you can download an Opera web browser for your Wii. Do it. You'll be sharing YouTube videos with everyone on the television, browsing Flickr pics, checking the news and getting more personalized content on demand. Your Wii is already on the net, it's time to bring down the web.

Step Three: Go 8-Bit
This third and final step is the most important one of all. The quickest and most powerful way to reclaim your Nintendo Wii is to make it your old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. There are many retro games available in WiiWare, and this weekend I downloaded Ice Hockey for 500 credits. Ice Hockey is making me very, very happy and 15 years old again.

Now that I have Ice Hockey back (and it's exactly as I remember it, which is a good thing) I just need to score RBI Baseball.

I've got my Nintendo back!

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Odeo Stops Uploads, I Search For YouTube of Audio

podcastI've been a member of Odeo for many years. Odeo was where I'd upload MP3s for sharing on this site. I always considered it YouTube for audio.

Odeo is how I'm streaming Ok, Blue Jays, Tom Cheek's Greatest Hits and these old Humble and Fred Christmas bumpers. The Odeo Studio was like a jewel in the rough, exactly what I was looking for. But now, Odeo has stopped allowing uploads, effectively eliminating the studio and forcing you to host your mp3 files elsewhere.

Is there a YouTube for audio files? I'm looking for a free service where I can upload MP3 files and easily embed a flash player.

I've got some audio I want to share but I'm not interested in hosting the files myself. If you know of a service I can try, leave me a comment.

Update: Testing Hound Bite

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$749 for the Terry Fox Foundation

Terry FoxWhat an awesome morning for the Terry Fox Run. It was warm, the sun broke through the clouds and the turnout at High Park was much better than last year.

David Miller addressed the crowd before cutting the ribbon and starting this year's 4.5 km race. With a federal election next month, Liberal MP candidate Gerard Kennedy was there with the Green Party candidate, Robert Rishchynski. Although I saw her out last year, incumbent MP Peggy Nash didn't make an appearance.

This wasn't about political photo ops. This was about raising funds and awareness for The Terry Fox Foundation. Thanks to your generosity, I ran with $749 in pledges. It was also my first Terry Fox Run with my son.

James did great, hanging tough for all 4.5 km. It was more of a brisk walk than a run, but he was rewarded at the finish line with a bottle of water, a banana and chocolate chip cookies. Thanks, James, for joining the cause. We'll do it all again next year.

James

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Roger Ebert Attacked

MoviesLast week Oasis' Noel Gallagher was attacked here in Toronto and the other day Roger Ebert was attacked during the Toronto International Film Festival. I'm just catching up on my TIFF news, so if this is old news I apologize.

From what I read here, it was the press screening of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. Ebert, who can't speak after battling thyroid and salivary gland cancer, tapped New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick on the shoulder asking him to move over so he could see the screen. Without knowing it was Ebert doing the tapping, Lumenick turned around and whacked Ebert on the head with a big festival binder.

I don't know Lumenick, but he sounds like a grade A jerk. I'm a big Ebert fan, however, and I love this last paragraph from the news story.

Lumenick's lashing didn't prevent Ebert from enjoying the film. The critic walked out of the screening with two thumbs up - and handed Boyle a note saying he's bound to get an Oscar nod.

Slumdog Millionaire subsequently won the Cadillac People's Choice Award at this year's TIFF.

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Things We Lost in the Fire

A Movie ReelThings We Lost in the Fire: 7 out of 10.

Although it started to lag a bit in the last chapter, Things We Lost in the Fire is a pretty good movie. Do you know why it's a pretty good movie? Three words: Benicio Del Toro.

Benicio Del Toro is awesome. Halle Berry is pretty fine herself, but Benicio Del Toro carries this sucker. It's hard to believe we're already a decade removed from his performance in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Was Traffic really eight years ago?

It's a shame he doesn't work more. My math suggests we're getting short changed.

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How Many Active Blogs Are There?

Question MarkI'm working on my basement for most of today. My plan is to make my basement a comfy, fully functional all-purpose room where I can throw the kids for hours on end. Today I finish the ceiling before I do some painting and put down the new floor.

I just jumped online for a bit for an Ike update and to catch up on the blogs in my RSS feed. I follow a couple of dozen blogs, all of which are updated quite regularly. That got me wondering how many active blogs are out there.

I'm sure there are millions of blogs out there, but many are abandoned after a single entry, many more are abandoned shortly thereafter and many others are updated so infrequently they can't be labelled 'active'. I consider an active blog one that's being updated at least two times a week.

In my family, there is no other blogger. I can't think of many off-line friends with a blog. Fred Patterson has an active blog and Humble updates his blog on a regular basis and a guy on my dodgeball team has a blog that he updates about twice a month but that's about it. There are a handful of bloggers I've met through this site, but that's sort of like meeting fellow baseball fans at a Jays game.

This brings me to my original question. How many active bloggers are there? Last year, Technorati claimed there were 15.5 blogs updated within the previous 90 days. However, Technorati also claimed the number of English language blogs were declining as bandwagon jumpers realized blogging wasn't for them. As I search for an estimate as to how many active English-language blogs there are world-wide, in Canada and in the GTA I'm quickly discovering it's an exercise in frustration.

There are Blogger blogs and LiveJournal blogs and MySpace blogs and corporate blogs and self-hosted blogs and how many are indexed by Technorati and how many are active and... you get the picture.

Maybe you can help me with this. I'm looking for estimated ranges for the following. Throw me a comment if you have a clue.

  1. How many active English-language blogs are there in the world?
  2. How many active blogs are there in Canada?
  3. How many active blogs are there in the GTA?
  4. Are you an active blogger? If yes, please throw your blog URL in the comments.

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In It For The Long Haul

leafsDuring the 1990-91 Toronto Maple Leafs season, I continued to wear my Leafs cap to Mr. Rocca's math class. When your second leading scorer is Mike Krushelnyski with 39 points, you know it's a rough year. That 1990-91 season was very rough indeed, and my classmates ridiculed me for continuing to don the Maple Leaf.

I took the abuse and continued to support my team. I could see they weren't very good, but that didn't mean I was going to bail on them. I was in it for the long haul.

I'm on the record as saying this coming season will be the worst Leafs season yet. As I eyeball our list of forwards, I don't see anything more than a long list of fourth liners and fringe players who wouldn't see much ice time on any competitive team. I'm slightly more optimisitic about our defenders, but not much. Our only hope is that Vesa Toskala stays healthy and steals several games between the pipes.

Cliff Fletcher, who may or may not read this blog, is all but agreeing with me. "You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know there's going to be rocky days ahead, tough games, maybe tough stretches." He went on to say the Leafs have only one top six forward: Nik Antropov.

I agree with Cliffy that there are rocky days ahead, but I disagree with him about Antropov. I don't believe he's that good, despite his miraculous campaign of 2007-08. I don't believe we have a single forward worthy of a half decent team's top two lines.

Just as I continued to wear my cap in 1991, I take no delight in the fact my team will be horrible this coming season. It is what it is, but I won't bail. I'm in it for the long haul.

Here's the current Maple Leaf depth chart. Brace yourselves, this is going to get ugly.

depth

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The Man In Black

Johnny CashHas it really been five years? It must be true, because I wrote this entry five years ago today.

As is my daily ritual, I was listening to the radio while taking a shower this morning. The news brief opened with word of John Ritters surprising death at 54. Following this piece of information, I heard there was another death to mourn in the celebrity world. Johnny Cash had passed away. Even though I knew he was dying, my heart sank.

The Man in Black really struck a chord with me. He sang for the working man and downtrodden. He sang for the prisoners and the hurt. If you do nothing else today, watch his video for the Nine Inch Nails classic "Hurt". As Trent Reznor said upon first hearing this cover, the song was written for Johnny Cash to sing at this point in his life.

Five years later, I'm still listening to a lot of Johnny Cash. I don't listen to a lot of his older stuff as I tend to gravitate toward his American Recordings.

Johnny Cash's American Recordings were four albums he recorded in his finals years under the guidance of Rick Rubin. I love all four albums, which include plenty of covers and a little original material. Five years after I learnt of his death, here's one of my favourites. It's Johnny Cash covering Soundgarden with "Rusty Cage".

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The Best George Clooney Movies

The Number FiveMy favourite George Clooney films

  1. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  2. Out of Sight
  3. The Perfect Storm
  4. Three Kings
  5. From Dusk Till Dawn

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9/11 Seven Years Later

7 Years Ago Today9/11 was seven years ago. Four years ago, when we were three years removed from that infamous day, I wrote this.

Ask anyone where they were three years ago today and they'll tell you. 2,749 people were killed in Manhattan, 184 people died in Washington and 40 died in Pennsylvania as a result of the worst act of terrorism ever to take place on North American soil.

I remember that day vividly. I had been working away in front of my PC in the office since 8:30am and the day seemed typical. I had a glass of ice water beside me and I had just finished reading and replying to my email. Walter arrived and shared some news he had just heard on his car radio. This is when the day stopped being typical. A plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City.

At that moment, I had no idea it was a large commercial passenger plane that was flown into the tower intentionally. I immediately assumed it was a Cessna that had perhaps flown off course. Still, I found it intriguing and jumped on the web for further details. Soon thereafter, the reality of the situation became apparent. A second plane struck the second tower and this was no accident. About a half hour later a third plane struck the Pentagon and then a fourth plane went down in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The United States of America, our geographical neighbour, was under attack.

Fear. That was the primary emotion throughout the remainder of that day. We had no idea what was going to happen next and nothing felt as secure as it did when I awoke that morning. Nothing would ever again. I made contact with my wife who was pregnant with James at the time and heard through my mom that she and my brothers were okay and that gave me some personal relief. The large news websites were choking on the traffic that morning but I managed to stream a live news feed from CP24 which I stayed glued to. The occurrences and disposition of the day was surreal. So many dead, such devastation, so inhumane, so pointless.

I remember driving home that evening, looking toward the sky and realizing everything was different. I got home and wondered what world would be awaiting our son when he arrived. I felt such sympathy for those who lost loved ones that day and simultaneously felt relief that I wasn't one of them. I wondered if we would ever be able to laugh again and enjoy our freedoms and liberties once more.

We are now three years removed from that fateful day. We're laughing again, we're enjoying life, this nation is abuzz about a semi-final hockey game tonight at the ACC. I'm planning to enjoy a BBQ with my beautiful family who I adore with all my heart and then I'm going to watch the game and see Kid Rock at the Amp. We, as a society, have not only survived but have returned to enjoying this precious life. You can't kill spirit. You can't destroy hope. We've proved this. I can vouch for it.

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Girl Talk's Feed the Animals

cdI love mash-ups. I'm very happy with so-called illegal music put together by the Kleptones or Danger Mouse or whoever. Last night, I learnt about Feed the Animals, the fourth album by Girl Talk.

Girl Talk, it turns out, is actually a guy named Gregg Gillis. Feed the Animals is one massive mash-up of dozens and dozens of sampled songs, an orgy of tunes you know and love. I'm still spinning it and, if you're even just a little like me with at least a little interest in hip-hop, I guarantee you'll love it.

Go to http://74.124.198.47/illegal-art.net/__girl__talk___feed__the__anima.ls___/ and, in Radiohead style, pay what you want for the 14 songs. Any time Public Enemy's "Rebel Without A Pause" is followed up with Len's "Steal My Sunshine" with Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" and Yael Naim's "New Soul" following, you're in for a audio treat.

Trust me...

Feed_the_Animals

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Running for Terry on Sunday

terryfoxI'm running for Terry in High Park on Sunday morning. I've thus far raised $572 but I'd like to raise more. That's where you can help.

If you haven't yet contributed, pledge my run online and help me help the Terry Fox Foundation.

It's really, really slick. You enter your credit card number, securely and easily, and your tax receipt is emailed to you as a PDF right away. Thanks to all who have already chipped in and to those who needed this final prodding.

Terry Fox

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Tones on Tail - Go!

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.

Tones on Tail - Go!
There are two sure-fire ways to revisit 1984. You can don a #22 Rick Vaive Leafs jersey or you can get down to "Go!" from Tones on Tail.

Here's a little about Tones on Tail from Wikipedia.

Tones on Tail was a musical side project created by Daniel Ash of Bauhaus along with friend and 'Bauhaus roadie' Glenn Campling in 1982. After the demise of Bauhaus in 1983, they were joined by drummer Kevin Haskins. The band folded in 1984 shortly before Ash and Haskins went on to form Love and Rockets. Glenn Campling was also responsible for the cover art of Bauhaus' first full release, In the Flat Field.

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The Odds Ain't Good

JaysWith the Blue Jays on a ten game winning streak, it's okay to dream. We all ponder "what if" scenarios and wonder what might happen if we keep this up. After all, anything is possible, right?

Wrong. Ken Roberts has created an "odds of the making the playoffs" website. He calculates our Jays now have a 1.6% chance of making the playoffs.

If we go undefeated the rest of the season, we're in. If we lose a single game, we have a 99.1% chance. If we lose two games, we have an 88.5% chance, and if we lose three games we have a 63% chance. But, should we go 14-4 in our remaining 18 games, our odds of making the playoffs plummets to 32.7%.

Going 13-3 from here on means we'll have won 25 of our last 28 games and we'll still only have a 63% chance of advancing to the playoffs. In layman's terms, it's too damn late. Where the hell was this in June?

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It's Not What You Write, It's How You Get There

MouseThe blogosphere is a funny place. It's not as important what you write as it is how people get there. Allow me to explain...

When my friend Humble Howard became part of the morning team at EZ Rock this summer, I wrote about it. My entry didn't even mention the host who was let go to make room for Humble. If you click back, you won't find the words Stu Jeffries, but that entry is now purely visited by fans of Stu Jeffries.

You see, Stu's name appeared several times in the comments for that entry, and Google began to rank that entry quite high when people Googled Stu Jeffries. In fact, at the time of this writing, that entry about Humble starting at EZ Rock is #1 when you Google the name Stu Jeffries.

Fans of the old Stu & Colleen morning show are naturally missing Stu. They want to know where he's at and how he's doing, so they Google his name. Then, they find a forum where they can share their feelings and discuss the change with others who have found the entry the same way. In other words, the traffic to that entry is primarily comprised of Stu Jeffries fans and this has resulted in 77 comments and counting, most of which are critical of the change.

I find this somewhat amusing because when Humble Howard was fired from his morning show gig with Mix 99.9, I wrote an entry that quickly became number one when people Googled Humble Howard. Heck, I'm still #5 for that search. 400 people left comments after searching his name to learn where he was at and how he was doing. The traffic to that entry was primarily comprised of Humble Howard fans who wanted to hate on Mad Dog and Billie.

It's not necessarily what you write that will drive the comments, it's how people find the entry. In the blogosphere, context matters more than content.

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The Simpsons Intro With Lego

HomerBrian tipped me off about this homemade Simpsons intro using Lego. Sweet...


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Manny Lee: Call Him Manuel

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

Lest we forget that we won a World Series with light hitting Manuel "Don't Call Me Manny" Lee playing shortstop. In 1991 he became the only guy to ever strike out 100 times in a season with no homers. That's amazing!

Manuel "Don't Call Me Manny" Lee is a throwback to a time when you wanted defence from your shortstop and you were willing to put up with abysmal offence from the position. As mediocre as he was at the plate, we won it all with him and he helped us win that first AL East pennant in '85.

Just don't call him Manny.

Manny Lee

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Sam Roberts - Detroit '67

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Detroit '67" by Sam Roberts.

Yes, I'm nominating "Detroit '67", but I'm thinking about "Bridge to Nowhere". Every time I see or read about Sarah Palin, which is all too often, I think about Sam Roberts' "Bridge to Nowhere". Here's a taste of the lyrics:

She says you're on a bridge to nowhere and you're gettin' there fast
Put it in the past, put it in the past
If this is a race then I hope you come last
You're on a bridge to nowhere and you're gettin' there fast

The McCain~Palin ticket is trying to use the Alaskan bridge to nowhere as her Maverick mark, but they fail to note her flip-flop. She was for it before she was against it.

Sam Roberts got it right. If this is a race then I hope they come last.

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Teen Wolf Question

questionmarkNot only did I catch Teen Wolf at the old Humber Odeon during its initial theatrical run, but we recorded it onto VHS when it played during a free preview of First Choice - Superchannel and watched it incessantly. My brothers and I knew every line by heart and we lived for that final basketball scene when the Beavers win in the end.

Looking back all these years later, I'm curious about something. Why wasn't there more of a reaction from spectators and players when Scott first became the wolf during a basketball game? Sure, people got all quiet, but where was the screaming and mass hysteria? Why weren't the police called in? Shouldn't that unnatural occurrence have been a bigger deal?

Today, the department of Homeland Security would swoop in and arrest the wolf faster than you could say "Give me a keg of beer". Here's Teen Wolf dominating in hoops. Chubby even gets to eat an apple during the game.

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Duane Ward: Lights Out

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

Duane Ward was lights out for the Jays in 1992 and 1993. In 1992 he usually came in to close out the 8th leaving the 9th for Terminator Tom Henke. In 1993, Ward was remarkable, recording 45 saves and leading us to our second World Series title.

As good as Ward was in the regular season, he was even better in the World Series. In the two World Series' he played in, he had a 1.12 ERA. In 1994 he was struck with bicep tendonitis and when he was shelved, so was the Jays pursuit of a 3-peat.

The bigger they come, the harder they fall. When he was healthy, Duane Ward was lights out.

Duane Ward

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Noel Gallagher Attacked

musicOasis front man Noel Gallagher was treated in hospital after a man ran onto the stage and attacked him while he and his brother Liam were performing at the annual Virgin Festival here in Toronto. As you'll see in the footage below, Noel Gallagher "fell heavily onto his monitor speakers," and may have fractured his rib and sustained ligament damage.

This kind of thing scares me. I always think about John Lennon, Dimebag Darrell and Monica Seles. The attacker appears to come from behind the stage and may have been a roadie or member of the crew.

It was during one of my favourite Oasis songs, too.

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Humble and Fred 20th Anniversary Podcast

podcastOn Fred's entry today about his new job in Peterborough, Humble just left a comment.

Hey Pal,
Congratulations on the next phase. Feels great to be back doing something don't it? As you know I wish you all the best in the world, I just thought I'd say it here as well. Let's start thinking about the H+F 20 year anniversary podcast.

Let me be clear about this, I will do everything in my power to ensure this happens. There will be a Humble and Fred 20th Anniversary Podcast and I'll be there to take pics and witness the fun in person.

Fellow Humble and Fred fans, I will not let you down. You have my word...

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Erik Nielsen, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumErik Nielsen was 84. He was a former deputy prime minister in Brian Mulroney's Conservative government and elder brother of comic Leslie Nielsen.

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Yet Another Election

VoteFor the third time in four years, we've got a federal election. Stephen Harper has dissolved Parliament and has called an election for October 14.

It's a shame we're going to the polls only a couple of weeks before our neighbours to the south as I fear Obama vs. McCain will hog most of our American-heavy media and water cooler chatter. Let's face it, Obama is far more interesting than Stephane Dion.

Harper's Conservatives have formed a minority government for the past 31 months and he now believes he has a shot at a majority. It will be awfully tough forming a majority while getting shut out of the entire city of Toronto, so my money is on another minority government for the Conservatives.

They say the majority likes Harper, but dislikes his party, while it's the opposite with the Liberals. We like the party, but dislike Stephane Dion. I see a new leader in the Liberal Party's future.

In my riding, I'm expecting a tight race between the incumbent NDP MP Peggy Nash and rising Liberal star Gerard Kennedy. I'm betting we go red again after a brief tryst with Jack Layton's party. Stay tuned, this thing is just getting started.

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Breakfast with Scot

A Movie ReelBreakfast with Scot: 6.5 out of 10.

"Breakfast with Scot" was the first of the two Toronto Maple Leaf movies released over the past twelve months. I first wrote about it here. You may recall the buzz about it because it featured an ex-Toronto Maple Leaf who just happens to be gay and the film received permission by the NHL, and the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey organization to use jerseys, clips, and other items relating to the Leafers. It is the first time in major professional sports history that such permission has been given.

Yes, there is footage of the ACC and a Leafs practice and plenty of Maple Leaf posters and hats, but this isn't a hockey movie. It's a nice little Canadian movie about a couple who have a unique child thrust upon them. Yes, the couple happens to be a same-sex couple, but it's all pretty sweet and classy I'm willing to bet they could have viewed this film at the Republican National Convention and nobody would have squawked afterward.

Go Leafs Go! There are only 32 days, 10 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds left until the Maple Leafs opener!.

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Wikipedia As A Reference

wikiOften, when I need to learn about an event, a person or a thing, I start with Wikipedia. For everything from sports to music to politics, Wikipedia serves up a ton of great info. Sometimes, however, you have to wrestle with wikiality.

When Gregg Zaun came to the plate today in the bottom of the 13th inning down by a run with two outs and the bases loaded, I looked at his .227 batting average and thought Cito was making a mistake. Surely there was another bat on the bench for this situation. Zaun hit a walk-off grand slam and when I got home I visited his Wikipedia page to remind myself as to why he was named in the Mitchell Report. That's when I read this slice of wikiality.

In 2004, the Blue Jays were the first team to make Zaun, at 33, a starting catcher. Valuable in the line-up as a switch-hitter, he set a career high in 2005 with 133 games, which helped him earn his nickname "Big Jeezy". He is openly homosexual, and was made famous by an onfield argument he had with former partner Jason Phillips.

The edit was made by an anonymous person earlier today, and could very well be gone by the time you click through. Jason Phillips and Gregg Zaun did fight to backup Bengie Molina a couple of years ago, but I don't believe Phillips had anything to do with Zaun's alleged homosexuality. In fact, I can safely say Zaun is not openly gay, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Kids, as you Google your way through your essays this school year, remember this sage advice from a guy who had to collect all his university research from actual books. Wikipedia is not a reference, and Gregg Zaun is not openly homosexual.

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My Walk-Off Grand Slam

JaysI just got back from a little 13 inning game at the ballpark formerly known as SkyDome. I took the kids who were enthusiastic angels for all 13 innings and it couldn't have been a more exciting game.

It should have been a quick 3-0 shut-out and a well deserved win for Shaun Marcum. With B.J. Ryan on in the ninth to close it out, the Tampa Bay Rays managed to tie it at 3, in part thanks to an infuriating error at second base by one Joe Inglett. Instead of a tidy 2.25 hour game we got a 4+ hour marathon that ended in 13 on a 2-out walk-off grand slam by Gregg Zaun. This is the first walk-off grand slam I've ever witnessed live and it gave us a 7-4 win. That's right, if Zaun gets out, we lose this sucker.

Hot damn, that was fun. The kids and I were literally jumping for joy as Zauny got mobbed at home plate. It's our seventh win in a row, our highest total in four years. Not even my presence was enough to break this streak.

A big thanks to Stephanie, a regular reader, who sent me the tickets. They were great seats, in the first row of the 200 level right by 3rd base. It was an even better game. The photoset is here.

P9068043

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I am ASTAR, a Robot

RewindIf you recognize the title of this entry, you're a child of the 80s and Canadian. You're also likely a little creeped out right now.

I'm a child of the 80s, and the ASTAR public service announcement from The War Amps always freaked me out. It was a pretty cool PSA, but chilling. During the ad ASTAR's arm is amputated by moving blades and he/she reattaches it. Then, he/she delivers that memorable line.

I am ASTAR, a robot. I can put my arm back on. You can't. So play safe!

Does that ring a bell? Perhaps you need to revisit the PSA. Here it is in all its original glory.

The War Amps hit a home run with this one. Twenty years later and I still remember it. It was also effective. I've never played around spinning blades. You see, ASTAR was a robot. She (or he?) can put her (or his) arm back on, but I can't.

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Best Electric Songs

The Number FiveMy all-time favourite songs with "electric" in the title

  1. She's Electric - Oasis
  2. The Body Electric - Rush
  3. The Electric Co. - U2
  4. Electric Relaxation - A Tribe Called Quest
  5. Over the Electric Grapevine - Primus

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Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have Pagination

constructionIn this entry I mentioned my need to introduce pagination for my category pages. Some categories have many hundreds of entries making the pages very long and painfully slow to load.

MT-Hacks has a slick little pagination plug-in for Movable Type that introduces pagination. I've got it working now. For example, if you visit my Toronto Blue Jays category page, it will only display the 20 entries at a time and you'll have to advance the pages via the menu at the bottom of the page.

This is very small world we live in. The chap behind MT Hacks is the same guy who works worked with me on SLS. He was also in the passenger seat when I ran my new car into the back of a pickup on he 401 while rocking out to Everlast back in '99, but that's another story.

If you're using Movable Type for your blog or website, you really should check out MT Hacks.

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Be Like John Thompson

BallI'm still angry. Last night my rec league softball team lost a semi-final game by a single run. It was as close as a game can get with me as the tying run deserted at third base in the bottom of the last inning.

I'm still angry because one of my players played a horrible game. He killed us defensively all night and in the last inning when we needed four runs to tie, he was the first out in the dumbest base running play I've ever seen. That's when I thought about John Thompson.

John Thompson was coach of the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team. In 1982, his Hoyas were in the NCAA finals against Michael Jordan and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Thanks to Jordan's jumper, North Carolina led 63-62 with 20 seconds to play. Georgetown's Fred Brown dribbled the ball up court and inexplicably threw an errant pass right into the hands of North Carolina's James Worthy.

At that moment, Fred Brown had cost Georgetown the national title. I can imagine how Brown felt. Right after the buzzer went, John Thompson went straight to Fred Brown and hugged him. I often think about that moment and remember it's just a game. I try and be like John Thompson at that moment in 1982.

Fred Brown would never play NBA ball, but he would eventually win an NCAA title with the Hoyas in 1984. I couldn't find footage of the hug, but here's the last 20 seconds of that game that inspired me so.


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Sports Shorts

question markI caught about 4 minutes of The Fan 590 during lunch and they were calling in to vote on which sport was best on the radio and which ones you have to see in order to enjoy.

This got me thinking about the four major sports: baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Which one do I enjoy most on the radio? Which one do I enjoy most on television? Which one do I enjoy playing most? Answers below!

Best on Radio

  1. Baseball
  2. Basketball
  3. Hockey
  4. Football

Best on TV

  1. Hockey
  2. Baseball
  3. Basketball
  4. Football

Best to Play

  1. Baseball
  2. Hockey
  3. Basketball
  4. Football

The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Canadian males in general.

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Cheek's Ford C. Frick Award

microphoneLet's try this again. This will the fourth year in a row I've encouraged you to vote for Tom Cheek as a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award. You can vote here at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here are previous entries I've written about Cheek's eligibility for the Ford C. Frick Award.

In that 2nd last entry, I went off after Denny Matthews won the award.

Removing my extremely biased perspective for a moment, Tom Cheek called Blue Jays games since day one, calling 4,306 of them in a row. During that time Toronto won two World Series championships and a few additional division pennants. Tom Cheek's no longer with us.

Dave Perkins wrote about this in today's Star, but I was thinking the exact same thing, I swear. If Tom Cheek had called games in the United States of America, he'd have won the Ford C. Frick award long ago. Of this I am certain. There's a definite bias against recognizing baseball achievements in this country and Tom Cheek is a victim.

And yes, I shall use this opportunity to remind you that I've archived all of Tom Cheek's Greatest Hits. Click over and remember the glory days of Blue Jays baseball. And don't forget to vote for Tom.

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Good News For Freddie P

radioThe summer of 2008 has been bitter sweet for fans of the Humble and Fred show. Over the past few weeks both Humble Howard and Fred Patterson have moved on to the next phase of their professional lives. I'm very happy for both guys, even though I'll likely never get to hear my favourite radio tandem on the air again.

Today Freddie P announced he's the new program director of two radio stations: Peterborough's Best Rock, 101.5 the Wolf, and Home Town Oldies 980 Kruz that will move to 100.5 FM sometime in the fall. It's perfect for Fred as it will allow him to spend more time at his beloved tin palace, a trailer a mere 20 minutes from Peterborough.

Humble has moved on to mornings on EZ Rock 97.3 as he works toward his goal of being the Canadian John Tesh. I'm rooting for him. Actually, I'm rooting for both Humble and Fred as they move on from the old Humble and Fred show.

Nothing lasts forever. Congrats, Fred. I remember really digging The Wolf during a trip to Peterborough. Any station that plays that much Hip and Neil Young is alright by me.

Like They've Done This Before

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Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around

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.

Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around
I just finished watching the 7-part miniseries from HBO about the United States Marine Corps' 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the Iraq war's first phase in 2003. It's called "Generation Kill" and it was based on the book of the same name by Evan Wright.

I enjoyed the series, although it scared the shit out of me. The final episode ends with a video produced by one of the marines set to the song "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash. The song was a perfect conclusion to seven hours in the wilderness.

Here's the scene, if you're interested.

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Help Me Help The Terry Fox Foundation

terryfoxI'm running for Terry on September 14. That's less than two weeks away, and thus far I've raised an underwhelming $44.

I serve up lots of content and never ask for a dime, so here's what I'm hoping you'll do so I can save face. My target is $500. I've got a long way to go. Brother, if you can spare a dime, pledge my run online and help me help the Terry Fox Foundation.

That link again is http://www.terryfoxrun.org/ENRunner/default.asp?s=1&RunnerID=52623 and it's secure and easy and you'll earn plenty of karma credits.

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11 Teams!

MLBFarewell, Matt Stairs. One of the 14 Canadians to play for the Jays, Stairs was recently traded to Philadelphia.

Now that he has one game under his belt as a Phillie, he's officially played for 11 different teams. That's right, 11 different teams in the majors. I couldn't believe it, either.

Here are the 11 teams Matt Stairs has played for in his solid career.

  1. Montreal Expos
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Oakland Athletics
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Milwaukee Brewers
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates
  7. Kansas City Royals
  8. Texas Rangers
  9. Detroit Tigers
  10. Toronto Blue Jays
  11. Philadelphia Phillies

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Margot at the Wedding

A Movie ReelMargot at the Wedding: 6.5 out of 10.

For the first half of Margot at the Wedding, I was digging it. It was kind of different and moody with just the right amount of family dysfunction. Then, it started to get boring.

It's only 91 minutes but by the end it feels like 3 hours. You're sick of this family and wishing they'd stop pestering you with their idiosyncrasies and melodrama.

And what happened to Nicole Kidman? She no longer looks like Nicole Kidman. I found her new eyes and nose distracting.

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Jimmy Key: Underrated

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

Jimmy Key was highly underrated. I think we appreciated him here in Toronto but he never seemed to get his dues outside of the GTA.

He finished his career with a .614 W-L% and two World Series rings. He always seemed to come up big in important games as he did in the 1992 World Series, winning two games for the Jays. Back in 1987, he actually finished 2nd in Cy Young award voting, finishing behind some guy named Roger.

This is actually the 2nd Jimmy Key card in the set. We covered his all-star card earlier. My favourite personal memory of Jimmy Key can be found in this entry about the last opening day in Exhibition Stadium history.

Jimmy Key

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Jerry Reed, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJerry Reed was 71. He was a singer who became a good ol' boy actor in car chase movies like "Smokey and the Bandit."

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Coldplay - Viva La Vida

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay.

Someone came up to me the other day and said the new Coldplay song was the best Coldplay song they had ever heard. I found this shocking. I like "Viva La Vida" as much as the next guy, but I didn't even feel compelled to nominate it for SLS consideration.

My brain quickly ran through the songlist of Parachutes. Surely "Don't Panic" is a better song. "Trouble" and "Yellow" are as good, if not better. And there are several song on A Rush of Blood to the Head that are in the same ballpark.

Then, I listened to "Viva La Vida" again. It's very good. It's no "Don't Panic", but it's most definitely worthy of SLS consideration.

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Bryan McCabe Traded to the Florida Panthers

leafsIn one horribly kept secret transaction, the Toronto Maple Leafs are sending Bryan McCabe and a draft pick to the Florida Panthers for defenceman Mike Van Ryn.

As the Bryan McCabe era comes to a end, it's time to reflect upon #24 and what he meant to this city. I just searched this site for instances of the keyword mccabe and there is 215 such entries. He's been on our blue line for the past eight years, delivering some horrible seasons and some solid ones. Remember, the man was an alternate in Torino.

He was good enough that my brother wears #24 on his Leafs jersey but then he scored that massive contract that his shoulders couldn't bear. I was ecstatic last year when I heard the rumours somebody wanted McCabe's contact but I never blamed Bryan for not waiving his no-trade clause. That mess was the doing of JFJ and MLSE.

Farewell, #24. Good luck with the Panthers. It was time to move on, and besides, Uncle Cliffy has already given us The Finger.

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Don LaFontaine, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumDon LaFontaine was 68. He voiced over 5,000 trailers and almost 350,000 commercials and is responsible for the ubiquitous trailer-opening phrase "In a world..."

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Google Chrome Beta Test

ChromeI just read the great Google Chrome comic book that so clearly explains Google's new open source browser, Google Chrome. The beta version of Google Chrome launches tomorrow. Once again, it appears Google gets it.

All of us at Google spend much of our time working inside a browser. We search, chat, email and collaborate in a browser. And in our spare time, we shop, bank, read news and keep in touch with friends -- all using a browser. Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.

On the surface, we designed a browser window that is streamlined and simple. To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff -- the pages, sites and applications that make up the web. Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go.

Under the hood, we were able to build the foundation of a browser that runs today's complex web applications much better. By keeping each tab in an isolated "sandbox", we were able to prevent one tab from crashing another and provide improved protection from rogue sites. We improved speed and responsiveness across the board. We also built a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren't even possible in today's browsers.

We'll see how Google Chrome matches up against Firefox 3. I'll leave a comment after I give it an initial spin.

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August 2008 Google Organic Keywords

Search Strings According to Google Analytics, here are the top ten keywords that brought people to this site in August 2008. There's still a lot of Toronto radio morning show searches taking place and the debut of Igor Kenk.

  1. wedding songs
  2. rick hodge
  3. roger rick and marilyn
  4. george carlin quotes
  5. big shiny tunes 2
  6. igor kenk
  7. stu jefferies
  8. wedding playlist
  9. mike boon
  10. prima tv

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Sarah Palin Talks Leafs Hockey

USAI am not American, but I'm keeping my good eye on the American political landscape as the Jackass and Elephant ramp up for the November 4th Presidential election.

We had a family BBQ yesterday and among the many topics covered was John McCain's choice for VP. Sadly, in my circle, the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate is a rather frightening joke. By most accounts McCain made this decision based on a single 15-minute meeting with the 44-year old mother of five. Other than 1.5 years of flip-flopping as governor of the 47th least populated state (683,478 people, many more moose), the experience that makes her fit to be a heartbeat away (and that's one questionable heartbeat) is being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 8,000.

She was also a sportscaster! Here's some great footage of the future Sarah Palin, then known as Sarah Heath, doing sports for Channel 2 News. Be sure to pay extra special attention to the 2:52 mark when she notes the Winnipeg Jets are killing our Toronto Maple Leafs 8-1. The more things change...

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Working Songs for Labour Day

Labour DayLabour Day in this country used to be all about union parades and picnics. We'd celebrate the working class, advances in the labour movement, and the like. Today, it's more about one last long weekend before the kids go back to school and the chill settles in.

In keeping with the great tradition of Labour Day, a holiday that started in Canada way back on April 14, 1872, here are ten great tunes with "working" in the title. With apologies to Dolly Parton, there will be ten and ten only.

  • Working Class Hero - John Lennon
  • Welcome to the Working Week - Elvis Costello
  • Working for the Man - Roy Orbison
  • Working on the Highway - Bruce Springsteen
  • Working for the Weekend - Loverboy
  • Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man) - Randy Newman
  • Working Man - Rush
  • Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad - The Clash
  • Got My Mojo Working - Muddy Waters
  • Senses Working Overtime - XTC

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