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Mega Marlies Mania

hockeyMy son and I had a blast at the Marlies game this afternoon. It was super fun for several reasons.

1. Media Credentials are Cool
That's right, the Marlies contacted me and invited me to attend a game. They set me up with media credentials which meant James and I wore special stickers that essentially gave us complete access to the Ricoh Coliseum. As cool as that was, we also got $16 in food coupons, although $16 doesn't go very far at a Marlies game.

2. Dream Seats
Wearing these stickers meant we could have sat in the media box, but I had another idea. I have never watched a professional hockey game from the first row and tonight that 34 year streak was going to end. We sat ourselves in the first row just to the left of the net we shot on for periods 1 and 3. We were literally in the game, we were those guys you see banging on the glass after big hits. These were my dream seats and brought a whole new dimension to the game.

3. Wendel Clark
We all got to watch that Wendel Clark video tribute they aired the night #17 was hoisted to the rafters of the ACC and then Wendel Clark himself came out onto the ice for an encore. It was a great start to the game.

4. Great Game
The biggest reason we had a blast at the Marlies game was the fact we got a great game. Down by one in the third, we tied it up and eventually won it 4-3 over the Rochester Americans in an extended shootout. This is my fifth Marlies game and I've enjoyed every one of them.

Marlies Notes
Justin Pogge let in two soft goals. Admittedly, I too indulged in the Pogge kool-aid at one time, but now I think it's safe to say he isn't what we thought he was going to be. I don't think he's an NHL starting goaltender. On the positive side, Jiri Tlusty will be back. He's too good to be a Marlie. And hopefully, Robbie Earl will find his way back too. I love the way he plays, and he was great again today.

Now I just need MLSE to grant me media passes for Leafs games...

PB308356

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Sixth Blogiversary

birthdayIt was six years ago today I changed my personal home page into a blog. In the world of blogging, six years is actually pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. The vast majority of your favourite blogs started later than November 30, 2002.

The Tale of the Tape

  • # of entries (including this one): 8318
  • # of comments (excluding comment spam): 11503
  • # of comments on one entry (this entry): 400
  • # of unique visitors (approximately): 800,000
  • Most visited page (excluding the home page): 100 Wedding Songs

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Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 2

LeafsBrian Burke is amazing. We can't lose with him as our team president and GM. I missed the entire game because I was stuck at the office Christmas party, but I hear it was a solid all around effort.

Here's a little piece of trivia for ya. Andre Deveaux, who played his second career game last night, is the first player born in the Bahamas to play in the NHL. I'll be watching his former team, the Marlies, later today.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
8-10-5
22 points
4th in Northeast Division
4-2 Win vs. Philadelphia
2-1 OTL vs. Ottawa
6-3 Loss vs. Atlanta
M. Stajan - 20
N. Antropov - 18
N. Hagman- 16

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Comments King

notepadI took a beating in the comments of my Sundin Trashes Toronto: Toronto Mike Exclusive! entry. There are 18 comments there as of this posting, but that's nothing. This entry is about Freddie P, the comments king.

Fred linked to that entry as part of his "Comments We Like" series. Fred's entry linking to my entry has 36 comments thus far. I like Trish's comment over there.

Find VegasGeoff a house on Wisteria Lane. He really is sounding like a desperate housewife. Maybe Sundin said exactly what he knew VegasGeoff wanted him to say. Maybe he's just creating a little mischief. You guys sound like a bunch of girls - it really is a silly thing to argue about. When Sundin's banner ascends to the rafters of the ACC 30 years from now, he will be there to watch with tears in his cold, Swedish eyes. You can bet on that.

C'mon Trish, it won't take 30 years to raise #13 to the rafters. I'll bet it happens before 2020.

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Love and Presents

giftEarlier in the month I wrote about how I see "Secret Santa" as a gateway drug to no-buy, no-receive. As I lobby to push my agenda forward I'm encountering quite a bit of resistance from members of my immediate family.

It seems some equate love with presents. The giving of stuff has become a symbol of caring, an act of love. This is precisely why I seek to exit the crushing consumerism of the Christmas season. In a nutshell, it's this perceived correlation between love and presents that I wish to obliterate.

First I'd like to address a few misconceptions. No, I'm not trying to take the fun out of the holiday. I'm pro-fun. I want lots of time with loved ones, lots of good food and drink and conversation. I want to see the kids open their gifts and lose their minds when they see they got what they asked for. I want Christmas to be less stressful and more fun.

And no, I'm not trying to be cheap. This isn't about saving money. The problem with the holiday season is that we're obligated to spend X and it's this obligation I'm trying to eliminate. We give our loved ones stuff they don't really need or want because that's the rule. That's a rule we need to break.

I sincerely believe that we've lost our way as a society when it comes to the festive spirit. I'd just like to see us get back on track. I'd like us to stop equating love with stuff. They completely lack a logical or causal relation.

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I Live In A Digital Ghetto

digitalJesse Brown has an interesting entry on his Search Engine blog for CBC Radio. He laments about the growing list of backwards policies in Canada that he believes is creating a sense of digital isolation.

1. Last week the CRTC sided with Bell against a group of small Internet Service Providers who want to offer their customers unthrottled connections where what they download is their own business and not subject to interference.

2. In last week’s throne speech the Conservative government renewed their intention to “modernize” Canadian copyright law. Their effort to do so last session was Bill C-61, a woefully unbalanced and retrograde piece of legislation that led to the greatest citizen backlash to any proposed bill in recent memory. Yet there has been no indication from new Industry Minister Tony Clement that a much-needed public consultation will take place. The best he has offered is the possibility of a “slightly different” version of the bill.

3. Twitter has just announced that they are killing outbound SMS messaging in Canada due to exorbitant and constant rate hikes from Canadian cell providers (former Industry Minister Jim Prentice vowed to get tough on SMS price gouging, then backpeddled). Cell phone rates in Canada are among the highest in the world, and the result is that mobile penetration is pathetically low and that emerging new cultural platforms like Twitter are being hobbled.

The Internet's where I live and how I earn my income. My home is turning into a ghetto.

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Coalition Government

ottawaI majored in History, which demanded I take a few Canadian history courses, and even I'm confused by what's taking place in Ottawa right now.

Stephane Dion's Liberals have proposed a governing coalition with the NDP. A non-confidence motion drafted by the Liberal Opposition could be introduced in the House of Commons as early as Monday.

If it passes, and it sounds like it might unless Harper's Conservatives change their tune, the Liberals and New Democrats would visit Governor General Michaëlle Jean to request her permission to try to form a coalition government.

That's right, Dion could become our Prime Minister without an election. Stay tuned, things are starting to heat up in the nation's capital.

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Has It Been 5 Years?

rewindHas it really been five years since I bitched about local radio stations playing holiday music 24/7? I reference that entry today because that's the entry in which somebody in the guise of "Nobody" started his or her own blog of sorts.

I haven't heard from "Nobody" since April 16, 2008, but others are now searching for Toronto stations playing Christmas music and finding that five year old entry.

First there was Santa Claus himself, on November 14.

Mike, Mike, Mike...

Your a naughty little boy for complaining and calling this radio stations "crap" for playing Christmas music 24/7 for the next month.

Considering that it is only once a year and actually helps people look forward to such a special time. You really have nothing to complain about.

There are plenty of other radio stations that actually play real "crap" or apparently your type of music. So you are welcome to turn the knob that way.

So please stop being such a Scrooge and try and be a nicer boy between now and Christmas, otherwise Santa will not visit you this year. Ho..Ho...Ho

Then, on November 23...

WHEN are they going to start this year? I was excited last weekend I found all Christmas for 2 days - but can't find the 24/7 station yet...MIKE don't you know there is a cult like following of the Christmas spirit - I'm the lead cheer elf.

Followed by Dannie on November 25...

i cant wait to hear all the christmas music
please dont let the scrooges stop you from playing them for the holidays.
Its once a year, is it that bad to have a month or so of xmas music??????if u dont like it then dont turn it on!SIMPLE AS THAT..DEAL WITH IT!

And then yesterday...

You're a goof... Merry Christmas to you too.... deal with it! It's all about getting into the spirit of things..

Mamas, don't let your sons grow up to be bloggers.

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Joy Division

A Movie ReelJoy Division: 8 out of 10.

This documentary on the late 1970s English rock band Joy Division was just what the doctor ordered to get rid of the bad taste Four Christmases left in my mouth. Even if you know the story, this is a riveting retelling of the Manchester bands rise and sudden demise.

I watched it last night because I plan to watch Anton Corbijn's Control at some point this weekend. Here's the Joy Division trailer. I highly recommend this doc.


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Maple Leafs 1, Senators 2

LeafsTosky finally played a great game as we almost stole one in Ottawa. The Sens victory puts them in a tie with us for last in the division except they have a game in hand. I'm okay with sucking this year, but I'd love to finish ahead of Ottawa.

We also got outshot for the first time this season. That's pretty amazing when you think about it. Until recently we couldn't outshoot anybody.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
7-10-5
20 points
5th in Northeast Division
2-1 OTL vs. Ottawa
6-3 Loss vs. Atlanta
5-4 Loss vs. Chicago
M. Stajan - 20
N. Antropov - 16
N. Hagman- 16

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Top 10 Own Goals in Hockey

nhlMontreal Canadiens defenseman Ryan O'Byrne recently scored an "own goal" into an empty net with 4:47 remaining in the third period. That tied the game the New York Islanders eventually won.

Here are the ten best (or is it worst) own goals in hockey.

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Nerd Rap That Ain't Half Bad

musicMe and my nerdy friends were sharing this video today. It's an ad for Seagate but it's actually pretty good.

I don't want to like it, but I do.

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Sundin Trashes Toronto: Toronto Mike Exclusive!

LeafsReports have GM Cliff Fletcher or Special Assistant to the GM Joe Nieuwendyk sitting down in L.A. to talk with Mats Sundin about his return to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In a Toronto Mike exclusive, I wouldn't bet on Mats playing another game with the Leafs. Here's what I know...

VegasGeoff is a frequent commenter on this blog and he works at a coffee shop in Las Vegas. On the day of the Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen trade for Lee Stempniak he left the following comment on my entry about that trade.

So, guess who I heard this news from this morning? Mats Sundin!

I work in a coffee shop down here in Vegas, and when I turned around to help a customer, I was shocked to see it was Mats himself. He's down here vacationing with his parents and wife, and was ordering coffee for them all. I told him I was a huge Leaf fan, originally from Toronto, and we chatted while his coffee was being made. He told me about the trade, made a comment about the team that I won't post here, and just chuckled when I asked him if we'd see him back this year. I told him I wasn't going to run and spill the beans to the Sun, but he wouldn't give up any info.

I pressed VegasGeoff to reveal the statement Mats Sundin made to him in the coffee shop that morning, and I can now divulge that information. Mats Sundin said "Toronto is going to shit, man."

MLSE can keep those Mats Sundin jerseys at their discounted price. #13 will not retire a Maple Leaf.

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Four Christmases

A Movie ReelFour Christmases: 3 out of 10.

I had several issues with Four Christmases, a family comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.

First and foremost, this supposed comedy isn't the least bit funny. I think I smiled twice, but I didn't register one chuckle. The writing is weak, the characters are hateful and the primary comedic device for laughter are babies who vomit. If you think a baby vomiting on someone is comedy gold, this is the movie for you!

In addition to not being funny, this holiday film isn't the least bit endearing. You never care one iota about these two selfish idiots and their families are even worse. Jon Voight shows up for a pay cheque and gives us the moral of the story, something about the importance of spending time with family, and we learn at the end that this advice was completely ignored. This movie is under 90 minutes in length and it's still way too long and surprisingly empty. There's nothing to take home with you. Absolutely nothing.

And plot holes... don't get me started. There are plot holes in this movie you can drive a mack truck through. The entire premise is faulty.

In conclusion, this is the worst movie I've seen in a theatre in about a decade that isn't funny, isn't endearing and isn't worth 82 minutes of your precious life.

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How I Saw A Crappy Movie

ticketstubsI'm very careful as to which movies I see in theatres. I try and see movies I'm pretty certain I'm going to enjoy, not only because I don't want to waste the money, but because nothing irks me more than wasting two hours of my life watching a piece of crap.

Back in March I wrote this entry about the AMC Yonge and Dundas and scored myself a bunch of free movie passes. They weren't just movie passes but they included free popcorn and drinks too. It was a sweet deal, but they expire this week and I had four left. There was no way I was going to burn four free movie passes.

The plan was for the entire family to catch a film tonight, but my wife and daughter had seen the only G rated film playing. It was something about chihuahuas... That meant we had to pick a PG film and the only one that was even close to family friendly was Four Christmases. Long story short, the four of us ended up catching Four Christmases tonight at the AMC Yonge and Dundas.

It's the first non G-rated film I've ever taken the kids to and there were two scenes that required my patented distraction maneuver. If you're curious, that involves me leaning into James and asking him questions about school, hockey or whatever. He completely loses focus on the screen and dialogue and remains blessedly innocent.

And yes, Four Christmases is bad. I'll review it tomorrow with all the gory details. It's the worst movie I've seen in a theatre in about a decade. I now happily return to my "only see good movies in theatre" policy.

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James Brown - Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto

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.

James Brown - Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto
This song is quickly becoming one of my favourite holiday tunes. This appeared on James Brown's Funky Christmas and should be added to your Christmas playlist stat.

And a funky Christmas to you all!

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Maple Leafs 3, Thrashers 6

LeafsThe Lee Stempniak era is underway in Toronto. It was another dud and we've now lost twice as many games as we've won. The plan is coming together.

What plan? you're likely wondering to yourself. The plan was to shed the veterans and overpaid (Sundin, McCabe, Tucker, Raycroft), lose the failed experiments and underachievers (Wellwood, Steen, Colaiacovo), get Brian Burke and have a shitty season resulting in a sweet draft pick.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
7-10-4
19 points
4th in Northeast Division
6-3 Loss vs. Atlanta
5-4 Loss vs. Chicago
3-2 Loss vs. Boston
M. Stajan - 20
N. Antropov - 16
T. Kaberle- 15

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The Floppy Disk Save Icon Deserves to Stay

MouseWhen was the last time you saved a file to a floppy disk? It's been a while for me. In fact, I doubt I've saved to a floppy disk any time this century. Since the floppy we've advanced to CD, DVD and USB.

Now that saving to floppy disk has gone the way of the rotary phone, isn't it strange that the floppy disk remains the unofficial "save" icon? Whether saving to a hard drive or a web app, we click a little picture of a floppy disk. Heck, my son clicks a floppy disk to save his documents yet he's never actually laid eyes on a floppy disk let alone used one.

The floppy disk save icon survives in spite of progress, and I think it deserves to stay. It's sort of funny, this throw back medium persevering, like a cockroach post-apocalypse. Long live the floppy disk save icon!

flopy

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Brian Burke New President and GM of Maple Leafs

leafsI didn't see this coming. Wow. Brian Burke has a five year deal on the table to become the new President and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

According to Damien Cox, the only thing holding up the announcement is the reporting structure of the new regime, whether Burke will report directly to the MLSE board on a regular basis, or to a senior executive like current Leaf president Richard Peddie.

I don't know if this is the right direction, but it's direction, and we've been rudderless for so long I'm just relieved to know the end of our mediocrity is potentially in sight.

burkes law2

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Neil Young: Exclusive First Listen

musicI apologize for not posting today, but I've been listening to Sugar Mountain - Live At Canterbury House 1968.

Neil Young was just a few days shy of his 23rd birthday when he took the stage at the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Mich., for what would become a legendary performance. It was 1968, and Young was about to release his self-titled debut solo album. His old band, Buffalo Springfield, had split up six months earlier, and few people even knew who Young was. But to his own surprise, and to the surprise of the Canterbury House, Young drew a sold-out audience.

You can stream his album in its entirety for free at NPR Music. That's what I'm doing right now.

It's 40 years later and Neil Young and Reprise Records are finally releasing the long-awaited Canterbury House performance as part of the Archives Performance Series, Young's effort to release box-set editions of past live concerts. Live at the Fillmore East was released in 2006, with Live at Massey Hall 1971 following a year later.

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Kenny MacLean, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumKenny MacLean was in his early 50s. He rose to fame as bassist in the 1980s Toronto-based new wave band Platinum Blonde.

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Blue Chippers?

thumbsdownAs this blog approaches its sixth anniversary, it becomes easier to delve into the archives to gain some perspective. Following the big Leafs trade this afternoon, I searched this site for the keyword Colaiacovo, a rather unique term. I've used it 19 times.

Way back in March of 2004, John Ferguson, Jr. traded for Brian Leetch at the trade deadline. I wrote an entry about it that included the following line.

The Leafs needed an upgrade on the blue line and this is exactly that. The key to this deal is the Leafs hold on to blue-chippers like Carlo Colaiacovo and Alexander Steen and don't give up anyone on their active roster.

I referred to Colaiacovo and Steen as "blue-chippers". Yes, the very same Colaiacovo and Steen we just shipped out of town for a player few have even heard of.

It's amazing how quickly players in this city go from blue chip prospects to mistakes we run out of town. Four years ago these two were the youth we were going to build around and now they're Lee Stempniak.

Blue chippers indeed.

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Five Christmas Songs Santa Can Keep For Himself

xmasI've pruned my Christmas playlist down to a 430 songs. That wasn't easy, as I've got days worth of Christmas tunage. I'm working on the ideal holiday playlist for 2008 but this entry isn't about those 30 songs. This entry is about the five Christmas songs I dislike the most.

#5 - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd
This song resurfaces every December in various forms, but it's the original by Jimmy Boyd that I hate the most. I don't know who this Jimmy Boyd was, but he sings this generally crappy tune as if he's three years old and it's as irritating as all hell. I wish Santa Claus would stop kissing Jimmy's mom and start kicking his ass.

#4 - Chrissy The Christmas Mouse by Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor
The years have not been kind to Chrissy. I've got this on an album of classic Christmas songs but I rarely hear it in malls or on the radio anymore. That's for the best, as Chrissy the Christmas Mouse makes Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer sound like Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."

#3 - Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy Shropshire
On the bright side, this song's got a death count. Granny drinks too much eggnog and gets killed by Santa. I'll bet Santa leaned into the accelerator when Grandma staggered into his path. Kill this song and we've got ourselves a joyous bloodbath.

#2 - Another Rock and Roll Christmas by Gary Glitter
Even before Glitter's legal troubles came to light, this one made me cringe. This song is so bad it took another Brit to top it on my list of worst Christmas songs ever.

#1 - Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney
This is the first Christmas song deleted from my playlist and the worst Christmas song in the history of popular music. I hear Paul was in a rather successful quartet at one time, but you'd never know it by this steaming pile of shite.

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Leafs Trade Colaiacovo and Steen for Stempniak

LeafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak.

Colaicovo was a nice little player, but injury prone. I have no faith he can stay healthy and contribute on a consistent basis. Steen has been a disappointment. I expected far more, but it appears he's just another guy and not the player his father was. This is no great loss for the Leafs, but what do we know about Lee Stempniak?

Here's a little Wikipedia blurb on the newest Leaf.

Stempniak was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in the 5th round (148th overall). He led the team in goals in his first full season (2006-07) with 27. He and David Backes joined Jay McClement to form one of the NHL's youngest lines.

Sounds like he has a lot of upside and might be able to be the kind of player Steen was supposed to be. Will Brian Burke be the next Leaf?

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There Will Be Blood

A Movie ReelThere Will Be Blood: 8.5 out of 10.

They should rename this film "The Daniel Day-Lewis Show". It's his movie, in fact, I can't remember a scene without him as the focal point. He's all over this Paul Thomas Anderson flick about a a turn-of-the-century oil prospector and he's brilliant.

I'm not a fan of movies in excess of 2.5 hours because it's so tough with two kids to find an uninterrupted block of quiet time that length, but I didn't want this one to end. If you haven't seen it yet, add it to your queue.

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Maple Leafs 4, Blackhawks 5

LeafsWe were up 3-0 in this one. Up by three at home, I should be able to stick a fork in these suckers. It shoulda been done. It wasn't, and we coughed this one up in overtime.

Here's a quirky fact for ya. The Leafs are 0-for-15 on the season with a two-man advantage. That's really, really hard to do.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
7-9-4
19 points
4th in Northeast Division
5-4 Loss vs. Chicago
3-2 Loss vs. Boston
4-2 Loss vs. Vancouver
M. Stajan - 19
N. Antropov - 15
T. Kaberle- 15

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Metric - Help, I'm Alive

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Help, I'm Alive" by Metric.

"Help, I'm Alive" is the first single we've heard from the next Metric album, coming out in early 2009. There's a bit more at http://www.ilovemetric.com/, but not much more.

I'm digging this track. I can't wait to hear the album.

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You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown @ the LKTYP

thumbsupNow that I've figured out the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People is the Young People's Theatre I frequently visited in my youth, it was time to share the experience with my own children. Today we saw You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at the LKTYP.

I had never seen this production on the stage so I was surprised by how deep it all was when watched through adult eyes. My four and six year olds just loved the characters, singing and story, but I dug it because there's a pretty cool message in there about the insecurities and doubts within all of us. This really is an ideal family production, with something for everyone, regardless of age.

Ok parents, now I'm talking to you. I know what it's like to be restricted by a tight budget for entertainment, but we're talking a weekend matinée for $15 a kid. A piece of junk like Bolt will set you back more after the popcorn and drink. Adults are only $5 more, so you can take two kids to see some great live theatre in the Distillery District for a mere $50.

You can buy tickets online at https://tickets.lktyp.ca/YPWeb/default.asp.

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Wendel Clark: It Was About Heart

leafsI'm putting every ounce of my heart into this entry. Wendel deserves nothing less. It's Wendel Clark Day here in Toronto and I've got a few things to say about #17.

The 1980s was brutal for us die-hard Leafs fans, but there was a silver lining. As bad as things got, with Ballard at the helm, Courtnall leaving town for Kordic, and guys like Tom Fergus and Miroslav Frycer expected to play like all-stars, we always had Wendel.

Wendel never led us to the Stanley Cup finals. Wendel never scored 50 goals in a season, and only once scored 40. Only once did Wendel play a complete season, and he often missed massive chunks of time with an assortment of injuries. With Wendel it wasn't so much about numbers and milestones, it was about heart.

From the moment Clark hit town, we were smitten. He played as if he were a much larger man, dropping his gloves to take on every pugilist in the league. His wrist shot was deadly and he left it all on the ice every game he played. During a period with little hope, we all found a hero in Wendel Clark. Sure, players like Vincent Damphousse and Eddie Olczyk would lead the team in scoring, but Wendel was the captain. Wendel was our captain.

During the 1993 Conference finals, we came within a game of playing Montreal for the cup. In game one, Marty McSorley levelled Doug Gilmour and Wendel didn't hesitate to stand up to McSorley. Here's that legendary battle that defines Wendel, smaller in stature but greater in strength.

A couple of years ago I shared a tribute to Wendel found on YouTube. It was aptly titled "All Heart" and it's set to Metallica's "Hero of the Day". Here it is again. Watch it before we raise his #17 to the rafters tonight.

About a year ago I shared the video for The Rheostatics' "The Ballad of Wendel Clark." I hope we hear it again tonight.

When the SI Vault unleashed 54 years of Sports Illustrated history upon us, I was drawn to a fantastic 1994 piece on Wendel Clark by Austin Murphy. This sums it up nicely.

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.

They say our views are shaped at a young age. During the 1986 NHL playoffs, I was 11 years old. As I wrote in great detail here, the first round sweep of the Chicago Black Hawks was my first taste of Maple Leafs playoff success. Wendel was our offensive and spiritual leader in that series and my brothers and I celebrated as if we had just won Lord Stanley's mug. Wendel was king, and three and a half years later, he scored the overtime winner in the greatest game I ever saw.

The Habs can have their Patrick Roy and Stanley Cup banners. I was born a Leafs fan, and tonight I'm celebrating something greater. Tonight, it's all about heart.

Wendel-Clark

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Goal Three: Score a Goal

HockeyI just finished my third week of recreational hockey. The goal in week #1 was to survive, and my modest goal in week #2 was to accept the fact I wasn't Mario Lemieux. Tonight, I wanted to score.

I don't remember scoring a single goal in my entire house league career. I played for several years at Swansea, and I'm pretty sure had I scored it would have been rather memorable. Going goalless my first two weeks meant I'm goalless in a lifetime of ice hockey. That's pretty remarkable. Tonight, I intended to break that streak of futility.

I actually scored twice twice tonight. The first was a breakaway as I faked to the back hand and slipped the puck in alongside the opposite post. It was pretty sweet because this was no garbage goal. I shaked and I baked.

The second goal was on a nice pass as I waited in the slot. I let go a nice little snap shot that bulged the twine. I actually think I'm getting the hang of this.

I have one more goal to accomplish, but more on that next Friday. For now, I'm basking in the glory of my two-goal effort and the demise of 34-year shutout streak.

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Edmonton Meteor Video From Police Dashboard Camera

binocularsThe Canadian Press is reporting that a likely meteor lit up the sky in Edmonton, Alberta last night. Here's the very cool footage from a police cruiser's dashboard camera.


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New Google Search Doesn't Make Me Smile

googleThe joke at work is that I'm a Google bigot. I'm the only one who found a way to kick Outlook to the curb so I could live in Gmail. I prefer to Gtalk over MSNing. I won't tell you how much money I spend with Google Adwords, but it's a small fortune. Google gets it, from their maps to their docs and spreadsheets, I'm a fan.

Today I saw Google unveiled a new search for those of us logged in with a Google account. You can leave comments on results, promote results, remove results and whole bunch of stuff. As a test, I Googled toronto blog and promoted my own site, organically ranked #3 overall. This was my first mistake.

Here's the new result when I'm logged into Google, something that's true 100% of the time I'm surfing the web.

logged in google

And here's the results for the same search when I'm not logged into Google - I actually switched to Google's Chrome browser to take this screen cap.

organic google

I hate not seeing the organic results. I hate the new clutter in my search results. I miss the old Google, the one I used earlier this week.

The new Gmail themes made me smile. This new search doesn't. I just wish there was a button I could press to return to classic Google, the one we all know and love.

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The Best Vince Vaughn Movies

The Number FiveMy favourite Vince Vaughn films

  1. Swingers
  2. Into The Wild
  3. Old School
  4. Wedding Crashers
  5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

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Twitter as an RSS Feed - A Social Experiment

twitterWhen Twitter first took off, I was sceptical. I didn't think it would make it, but I kept my good eye on it to see if it would fizzle out or reach the mainstream. I think it's now safe to say that Twitter has gone mainstream.

I don't have an interest in Twitter as a status tool, although I see the allure, I'm more interested in Twitter as an RSS feed alternative. Not in terms of reading RSS feeds, but in terms of publishing. Would people follow a Twitter feed as a means of following a blog like this one?

I found twitterfeed which promises to feed your blog to Twitter. You create an account, enter your Twitter account info and the RSS feed of your blog. The RSS feed for this blog is http://feeds2.feedburner.com/TorontoMike and my new Twitter account can be found at http://twitter.com/torontomike.

And so begins my little social experiment. Will people follow a blog with Twitter? If you'd like to be a guinea pig, start following http://twitter.com/torontomike and tell me how it goes...

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30 Rock on Toronto

quoteWatching 30 Rock tonight, I just heard special guest star Steve Martin, playing eccentric businessman Gavin Volure, make the following statement.

Toronto is just like New York but without all the scum stuff.

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Who Is Lorraine Kimsa?

questionmarkAs a primary school student here in Toronto, many a field trip was taken to the Young People's Theatre at 165 Front Street East. I remember several of the plays I saw there, including The Story of Anne Frank, which has stuck with me to this day. The Young People's Theatre was where our youth got introduced to theatre.

Last week I was contacted by a woman with the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. She offered me complimentary tickets to see "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" at what she referred to as LKTYP. Hmmmm, I wondered to myself. Could the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People by my old Young People's Theatre?

It's one and the same. The company changed its name to the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in 2001 to acknowledge an extraordinary contribution made by Kevin Kimsa to honour his mother, former president of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association, and co-founder in the 1980s of Broadway North, a community theatre.

Here's hoping the only thing that's changed is the name.

Lorraine_Kimsa_Theatre_for_Young_People

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Be Nice Clear Your Ice with Ben Wicks

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.

If you're a Torontonian who was around in the early 80s, you remember the "Be Nice, Clear Your Ice" campaign. It was based around Ben Wicks' cartoons and featured his voice. I know I always repeated the "Be Nice, Clear Your Ice" catch phrase after nights like the last one.

Here's the original ad I remember so fondly.

Stop the presses!!!! I just found the follow-up version from 1988 featuring Wendel Clark and Lloyd Moseby. No word of a lie, my brothers and I would repeat Lloyd Moseby's line all the flippin' time! "You should see me catch a baseball". Thanks, Retrontario!


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Otis Redding - Merry Christmas Baby

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.

Otis Redding - Merry Christmas Baby
I realize it's still November, but that leaves us with only five Weekly MP3s before Christmas. I missed yesterday, so pretend it's the 19th.

I've got a playlist of holiday MP3s that will start to see some action, and one of my favourites in this playlist is Otis Redding's rendition of "Merry Christmas Baby". "Merry Christmas Baby" is an R & B Christmas standard written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore and was a hit back in 1947. My preferred version, this Otis Redding rendition, was released the year after Redding's death.

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Let Me Google That For You

googleWhen people ask me something that can be answered by a simple Google search, I usually send them to http://fuckinggoogleit.com/. Unfortunately, that site is a little crude for the delicate amongst us and those you have to be politically correct with.

Now we have a hilarious solution that can be shared with your grandmother. It's called Let Me Google That For You and here it is in action.

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19th Birthday Horseshoes

shamrockSpeaking of the mid to late 90s, one of the television shows I enjoyed at that time was The Drew Carey Show. Although the show aired for nine seasons, there was a dramatic drop-off in quality after the first few years. I think I stopped watching Drew back in '99.

I heard he got the job hosting The Price is Right, but I've never watching television during the day so I've never caught a minute of the Bob Barker-less game show. Then, I was led to the clip below.

It's just some kid on The Price is Right on what happens to be his 19th birthday. He's got horseshoes, and it's fun to watch.

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The Rise and Fall of RealAudio

MusicIt's been 30 years since the Jonestown massacre. That got me interested in learning more about the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project formed by followers of the Reverend Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. That led me to NPR Online where you can listen to a great doc entitled "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown."

You can stream the audio, but it's in RealAudio. That's right, it's in RealAudio. When I saw that, I had a very webby flashback.

In the mid 90s, lots of audio required the RealPlayer. Most of us downloaded the RealPlayer just so we could listen to .ra files. At a time when WinAmp was my music player of choice, RealPlayer quickly became a necessary evil.

Firstly, they made it near impossible to find the free version. That download page was a serious pain in the ass. Then, there was this terrible interface, even for the mid to late 90s. Then, there were those bloody pop-ups. At one point several years ago, I swore I would never install RealPlayer again.

I've kept that promise, and that means I won't be streaming this Jonestown doc on NPR Online. That's a shame, but at least I enjoyed this webby trip down memory lane.

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Remember the 70s?

CarWhen I was driving an '85 Ford Escort in the mid-90s, I wouldn't fill up the tank if the price exceeded 50¢ a litre. I'm not kidding. I managed to drive this way for years and years.

About six years ago, prices hit 80¢ a litre in these parts and kept rising. We hit $1 and started talking about $2. Today, I'm happy to report the price in Toronto is back in the 70s.

The 60s would be even cooler.

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XMp3 Player With XM Satellite Radio

XMA package arrived for me today with a letter. Here's how that letter started.

You are one of only 25 individuals in Canada who will receive this exclusive XMp3 Kit!

Your XMp3 Experience includes:

  • 1 XMp3 player
  • 1 XMp3 accessory kit (earbuds, remote control, home antenna, home dock, and more)
  • 1 year subscription to XM Satellite Radio
  • 1 bag of XM Swag (water bottle, hat, notebook, pen)

I've been playing with it for the past hour and having fun. I've heard some alt rock on Lithium, some live Neil Young on The Loft, Norm McDonald on Laugh Attack, some pop on Top 20 on 20, some indie on XMU and some cat named Mad Dog talkin' sports. I've tried recording a few tunes to MP3 and now I'm setting up the XM2go Music Manager to run this thing from my laptop.

After I spend more time with my new toy I'll write a review.

PB188332

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The Flickr Lady at the Parade

yahooLast year I wrote about the Yahoo! float at the Santa Claus Parade. This year it was back, but there was something extra. A young woman was biking alongside the float taking pictures and sending them to Flickr in real-time.

Here's my pic of the Flickr Lady promoting Yahoo!'s coolest property on Sunday afternoon.

PB168266

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Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 3

LeafsBefore we panic about Vesa Toskala's .878 save percentage we should remember that in the early part of last season there was actually a goaltender controversy in these parts. Tosky, apparently, is a slow starter. He'll heat up, you'll see.

I missed this game because I was 351 metres above the action, but it sounds like we fought back once more and should have tied it, if not won it. On this night, Thomas trumped Tosky.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
7-8-4
18 points
4th in Northeast Division
3-2 Loss vs. Boston
4-2 Loss vs. Vancouver
5-2 Win vs. Edmonton
M. Stajan - 17
N. Antropov - 15
T. Kaberle- 14

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CN Tower Power

CN TowerI'm about to do something I haven't done since I was in primary school. I'm on my way to the CN tower.

I'm playing host to a bunch of out-of-towners and taking them to the top of the CN Tower seemed like the thing to do. I get to play tourist in my own city.

I've got 351 metres of climbing to do and an overpriced and overrated meal to digest. See ya at ground level.

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This Simple Little Site Just Screamed Canada

emailIt's been crazy busy today, but I wanted to share an email I received from Matthew Ward. He stumbled upon my site and asked for the Gord Downie "Hallelujah" MP3, a request I get at least twice a week. As usualy, I obliged, and then I got the email below.

Hi Mike,

First, I wanted to thank you for sending me that mp3. It's a beautiful rendition of a song quite beautiful in its own right.

I decided to roam around your blog, and saw one post where a contributor sent you a little piece on themselves. A post just after that inspired me to send you my own comments.

As I looked around your blog, I felt pride. It's hard to explain, but this simple little site just screamed Canada. I'd been dying for something to be proud of. Something so purely Canadian that one couldn't help but say "Yes. That's me, that's us." Certainly the Hip fulfil a great portion of that wish, but they're almost like an inside joke. As a Nova Scotian, I had donair's and Keith's. Something tangible, something I could raise and say "This is ours," and be proud. But what of being Canadian?

Reading some of your posts, agreeing with this, not sure about that, I realized what it was to be a Canadian. It's that inside joke. It's not flags outside the house, nor is it Chevy trucks or historic battles. It's being the everyday man or women who goes over to their buddies house to watch Hockey Night in Canada, and brings a 12 pack with them, be it Keiths, or Blue.. It's being the person who gets giddy at any obscure reference to Canada on American television, or to root for the home team, be they the Leafs, or the Habs. We search for some national identity. We come up with answers like the Hip, or the Leafs. Yet we're a country of such great diversity, that some coverall culture just wouldn't work out, and good on us for it! Those differences, be the subtle or be they grand..that is Canada, and I am forever proud of that fact.

As a closing note, I'd like to mention the first time I really, really felt like I was part of this thing called Canada. It was, incidentally, my first Hip concert. I'd been forewarned not to get my hopes for Fiddlers, and so I didn't. Just as you put it, it only took the first note for my to realize what I was about to experience. With that first note, tens of thousands of people became quiet after a small cheer, and we listened. I don't know if it was the song itself, the feeling of being a part of that .. knowledge, of what was happening, or the two combined, but my emotion overcame me for a second, and I freely admit my eyes became a little teary. For those few moments though, ten thousand people of different backgrounds, of different beliefs, of different values...we became one. Forgive me if I seem melodramatic, but for a moment, we were Canada.

Thank you for being Canadian! Merci!

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The 2008 Santa Claus Parade

santaI've just returned from taking the kids to the 2008 Santa Claus Parade. We got there nice and early and secured a perfect spot across from Toronto General Hospital on the divider island. That way you score a seat that's far more comfy than the curb. This is my fifth year in a row taking at least one offspring to the world's longest running children's parade and I've finally figured out all the tricks.

It was windy and chilly and we had to deal with a rain / snow combo near the beginning, but it was worth it. The kids love this thing and I understand that window when they're blown away by stuff like this is pretty short.

I took 52 photos you'll find here. We'll be back next year: rain, sleet or snow.

PB168262 PB168258 PB168292 PB168306

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Maple Leafs 2, Canucks 4

LeafsThere's something appropriate about Kyle Wellwood tearing it up and scoring the opening goal last night. Poetic justice, perhaps?

We actually outshot the Canucks 30-15. It wasn't long ago that we weren't outshooting anybody, and now we regularly outshoot our opponents. When your starter only makes 5 saves on 9 shots, outshooting the other team isn't nearly enough to secure two points.

As I exit this recap and start preparing for one cold Santa Claus Parade, let me just say this: As mediocre as our record is, we are still ahead of the Sens. That, in essence, is my goal this season.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
7-7-4
18 points
4th in Northeast Division
4-2 Loss vs. Vancouver
5-2 Win vs. Edmonton
4-3 Loss vs. Calgary
M. Stajan - 17
N. Antropov - 15
T. Kaberle- 14

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Bolt in 3-D (This is Not a Review)

boltWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada invited me to an advanced screening of Bolt this morning, but they had one request. They asked that I not review the movie until it opens on November 21. As a result, this is not a review of Bolt, merely some notes about the experience.

Upon my arrival my daughter and I were handed pairs of glasses. I must plead ignorance, I had no idea Bolt was in 3-D. I don't think I've seen a 3-D movie since I caught a nature film at the Ontario Place Cinesphere over a decade ago. 3-D has come a long way...

These weren't those crappy paper red and blue framed 3-D glasses from the 80s, these were full glasses that looked like a pair of shades Elton John might have worn back in the day. Our first taste of 3-D action came with the trailer for Pixar's Up, and damn that was cool. My daughter wanted to reach out and touch the action before her and I just wanted to see Up.

A full length feature film in 3-D is a bit of sensory overload. It's almost too much. You have to focus more and viewing the entire movie through glasses lost it's cool after about 30-minutes. Although it added an extra layer of wowism, I wonder if it's worth all the extra effort required to absorb this additional dimension.

I'll review this film next week. If you're curious about the 3-D technology used by Disney in Bolt, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_Digital_3-D. It sounds like I'm going to have to get used to this Real D Cinema technology because starting with Up all Pixar films will be released in 3-D.

Maybe I should have held on to those glasses.

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Goal Two: Don't Be Magnificent

HockeyLast week I played my first game of hockey in about 21 years. My goal was to survive, and I accomplished that objective with ease.

Ok, it wasn't with ease. I was pretty winded by the 40 minute mark. We only had one sub, so I was out there for the bulk of the hour and I was pretty beat before the final buzzer.

My primary objective this week is to realize I am not Mario Lemieux. Last week, when my defenseman had the puck, I'd rush on the wing and look back to receive the pass on the fly. I found it awfully tough to skate full steam ahead while looking back to take the forward pass on the tape of my stick. You see, I was trying to play the way I see NHLers play, and I just ended up with a sore neck and no goals.

Tonight, as I lace up the skates for game #2, I won't try to take the pass in full stride. Tonight I will not attempt to be magnificent.

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Blurring the Media Lines

NotepadThe media lines continue to blur. I know this because I have a great view from where I sit. As a blogger with some Google juice, I've seen first-hand a dramatic expansion of the term "media" the past six years.

The traditional media are the journalists who write for newspapers and magazines or radio and television reporters. The new media consists of bloggers and web personalities who publish content that is only available via the internet. More and more marketers are reaching out to this new media, seeking web-based exposure that includes an additional and significant SEO benefit.

I've been given free concert tickets, theatre tickets, movie tickets, a ten-day Ford Focus test drive, Easton apparel, iPod skins and media seats for Walking With Dinosaurs, all in the past couple of years. Tomorrow I'm taking my daughter to a media-only preview of a new Disney animated feature. Next week I'm taking my son to the media box to watch the Marlies game. XM Canada will soon be giving me an XM Radio MP3 player and a year's subscription to the service, just so I'll review it. And unlike the cell phone I turned down a couple of years ago, I won't have to give this back.

This is my hobby. I blog because I enjoy the exercise and, as an emarketer in my 9-5 gig, this is an ideal way to keep my ear to the ground and see where things are going in the world of SEO and Web 2.0 initiatives. I find the recent push to blur the lines of "the media" fascinating, and so long as it remains fun and includes some decent swag, I embrace it fully.

I just wonder how the traditional media folk feel about a dude like me encroaching on their turf. When Disney starts to recognize members of the new media, you know it's gone mainstream.

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The Best Crash Test Dummies Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite Crash Test Dummies songs

  1. Superman's Song
  2. Afternoons and Coffee Spoons
  3. Androgynous
  4. The Ghosts That Haunt Me
  5. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

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Maple Leafs 5, Oilers 2

LeafsHopefully Blake has had his wake up call. Leading 3-2, Jason Blake assisted on Ian White's goal for some much needed cushion. Throw in a goal and we've got a great effort from an underachieving winger who was a healthy scratch in Calgary

<rant>

I heard on The Fan 590 this morning that we were above .500. I'd just like to remind everyone that the total in the third column is not ties but losses for which we were awarded a point. They're still losses, however, which means we've won 7 of 17 and last I checked that was not over .500.

</rant>

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
7-6-4
18 points
4th in Northeast Division
5-2 Win vs. Edmonton
4-3 Loss vs. Calgary
6-3 Win vs. Montreal
M. Stajan - 16
N. Antropov - 15
T. Kaberle- 13

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The Gateway Drug to No-Buy, No-Receive

moneyLast December, I wrote an entry entitled "The Story of Stuff." It was about our mega-consumer society and the stuff we accumulate, particularly at this time of year.

In the comments of that entry, I wrote a comment that's been bouncing around my skull all year long. Here's what I wrote.

I've been flirting with an idea. Not for this Christmas, but for next Christmas. It's still perculating, but the premise is fairly simple.

It's a "no-buy, no-receive" policy that we, as individuals, promote. It requires one inform all of their friends and loved ones what they're doing in advance. Essentially, you're not buying holiday gifts - and you don't want to receive holiday gifts. You can do things for people, and should do things for people, and you should spend time with those you care about and spread good cheer, but you don't buy them stuff.

When you're in the "no-buy, no-receive" program, you may influence others to try something similar. Heck, if you can do it, so can others. You still take care of the kids, Santa still comes, but adults get nothing. If they want to get you something, ask them to donate a little coin to your favourite charity or to sponsor your Terry Fox run or something like that.

"No-buy, no-receive"... I'm seriously considering making such a statement in 2008, and if I do, you can read how it all works out right here.

I raised this thought with my wife, my mom and my brothers, and we've reached a compromise. We're playing "Secret Santa" and throwing our names in a hat. Then, we're each only buying the one gift with a $100 cap.

I see "Secret Santa" as a gateway drug to where I want to go in 2009. No-buy, no-receive. We've all got enough stuff.

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David Wells: I Saw STP and the RHCP With Him

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

The first thing I thought when I saw this card was, "damn, he was slim back then!" David Wells was larger than life and a fan favourite during his two tours of duty in Toronto. I was a big fan.

On August 16, 2000, I saw Stone Temple Pilots and Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Molson Amphitheatre. That's the same summer David Wells went 20-8 for our Jays, and he attended this same show at the Amp. He was like a rock star when he arrived and sat only a few rows in front of me.

It's strange reminiscing about his 1988 baseball card because he played as recently as 2007 and hasn't officially retired yet. I miss the big guy.

David Wells

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The Highway of Heroes

CanadaHumble posted this today. It's a piece by NBC News on our Highway of Heroes.

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Mitch Mitchell, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumMitch Mitchell was 61. He was the drummer for the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 1960s and the group's last surviving member.

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Brian Burke's Destiny

leafsBrian Burke is out as GM of the Anaheim Ducks, paving the way for Burke to be hired as president and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It never did seem right that the Leafs' GM could be running another hockey team.

The only question is when? Will Burke be announced as our new GM in the coming days, weeks or will they drag this out a few months?

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The Dropkick Murphys - The Fields of Athenry

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 Dropkick Murphys - The Fields of Athenry
"The Fields of Athenry" is an Irish folk ballad set during the Great Irish Famine. The Dropkick Murphys recorded a punk-rock version of this song on their 2003 album Blackout, and it's one of my brother's favourite songs.

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Maple Leafs 3, Flames 4

LeafsIt's hard to believe this is our first road trip through Western Canada since January 2006. Sometimes I wonder what Gary Bettman is thinking, The Leafs should make stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver each and every season.

Once again, we fell behind by two goals before clawing back. Once again we came up just a little short.

I for one was happy to see Jason Blake benched. He's underachieving and hogging a spot in the lineup. Heck, I'd give Ian White another shot up front before I'd put Blake back in.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
6-6-4
16 points
4th in Northeast Division
4-3 Loss vs. Calgary
6-3 Win vs. Montreal
5-2 Loss vs. Boston
N. Antropov - 14
M. Stajan - 13
A. Ponikarovsky - 12

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My Most Popular Flickr Picture

FlickrThere are 5,693 pictures in my Flickr account. These 5,693 pictures have been viewed a total of 51,429 times. The picture viewed the most times, at least amongst the shots I personally took, is a shot of Santa Claus closing out the 2004 Santa Claus Parade.

I mention this shot, viewed 1,207 times, because this coming Sunday is the 104th Toronto Santa Claus Parade. I attended this parade as a kid and started attending again when my son was born. I'll be at my fifth in a row Sunday

Here's the money shot.

Toronto Santa Claus Parade 2004

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Todd Stottlemyre: I Met Him at the Ex

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

Todd Stottlemyre was here for seven years and played a key role in our back-to-back titles. He was never the ace, but he was fairly solid, particularly in his later years here.

In 1990, my Jays were in a heated pennant race with the Boston Red Sox. Boston came to town for a crucial four game series in late August or early September, I can't quite recall that detail. I do remember we got swept and Todd Stottlemyre pitched one of those games and got pummelled.

The Saturday night after Stottlemyre laid an egg in that key game, I saw him walking with his wife by the game booth I was managing at the Canadian National Exhibition. I jumped out of the booth and introduced myself. I almost didn't, knowing that he had to be in a super foul mood, but I was a massive Jays fan so I went for it. He didn't smile and he didn't seem interested in small talk, but he did give me his autograph. I was actually happy to see he was in a shitty mood, because it told me he actually cared that he pitched like shit with the division leader in town. I think I would have been dismayed if he was jovial.

Todd Stottlemyre

I can't find my Todd Stottlemyre autograph, but here's Todd Gill who I met that same summer when he was signing autographs outside the old Hockey Hall of Fame on the Exhibition grounds.

Todd Gill Autograph

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117,000 Reasons to Remember

PoppyVeteran's Affairs Canada provides general statistics about Canada's participation in war, including numbers of casualties. It doesn't include our recent losses in Afghanistan, but the figures are still staggering for a country our size.

South Africa War (1899-1902)
Approximately 7,000 Canadians served; 267 of them gave their lives.

First World War (1914-1918)
Approximately 650,000 Canadians served, including members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served with British forces (Newfoundland was a colony of Great Britain until 1949) and merchant mariners. Of this number, nearly 69,000 gave their lives.

Second World War (1939-1945)
More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in Canada's Armed Forces, in Allied forces or in the merchant navy; over 47,000 of them gave their lives.

Korean War (1950-1953)
26,791 Canadians served in the Canadian Army Special Force; 516 of them gave their lives.

Peacekeeping/Foreign Military Operations (as of March 2006)
Approximately 150,000 Canadians have served in peacekeeping missions/foreign military operations since 1947; more than 160 Canadians have given their lives in this service.

If you include the 97 Canadian soldiers who have died at war in Afghanistan, the number exceeds 117,000. That's 117,000 reasons to observe two minutes of silence at 11:00 this morning.

Poppy

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We Just Came From the U.S.A.

usaI've been seeing ads lately for Burton Cummings' new album, Above the Ground. The featured song is entitled "We Just Came From the U.S.A." and it's super catchy. It ought to be catchy as it's chorus is an old school yard chant I remember well.

My first three years of school were spent at St. Cecelia's on Annette Street and in the yard during lunch and recess it was fairly common to see a group of kids holding hands and repeating the following chant over and over and over again.

Hey hey, get out of our way,
We just came from the U.S.A.

When I changed schools after grade one, I never heard that chant again, so I've always assumed it was exclusive to St. Cecelia's in the late 70s. Then, when I heard Burton Cummings singing the same song, I realized it had reached all the way to Winnipeg.

Does anyone else remember this old schoolyard chant? What's the origin?

For more playground nostalgia, visit Games We Played in the Schoolyard.

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Monday Shuffle

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

  1. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Up Around the Bend
  2. Sarah McLachlan - Do What You Have To Do
  3. The Tragically Hip - Are You Ready
  4. Nivana - Even In His Youth
  5. Saga - On The Loose
  6. Elvis Costello - Miss Macbeth
  7. Billy Paul - Me and Mrs. Jones
  8. Radiohead - In Limbo
  9. Ben Folds Five - Evaporated
  10. Dropkick Murphys - Keep the Faith

Few songs bring me back to the early 80s the way Saga's "On The Loose" does. Saga was from Oakville and "On The Loose" was their big hit. Trust me, this tune was huge... you couldn't avoid it back in the day.

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Miriam Makeba, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumMiriam Makeba was 76. She was the South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for more than 30 years under apartheid.

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Vote 4 Pedro

halloweenLots of houses in my neighbourhood go all out for Halloween, creating elaborate displays and building scarecrows and other seasonal characters. One house, however, had my favourite Halloween display.

Here's a pic I took of the Napoleon Dynamite Halloween display that makes me giggle on my way to work each morning.

Napoleon Dynamite Halloween

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Ghost Town

A Movie ReelGhost Town: 7.5 out of 10.

November is almost half over and I just realized I had some free movie passes for the AMC Yonge & Dundas 24 that expire in a few weeks. Reviewing the films currently playing there, I could only find one I'd be willing to commit 100 minutes of my life to, even though that movie was sorted in the dreaded "romantic comedy" genre category.

Luckily for me, this romantic comedy was both funny and endearing. Ricky Gervais was the key reason why. Dare I say it was delightful?

Heck, I'm just gonna come out and say it. Ghost Town was delightful.

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Maple Leafs 6, Canadiens 3

LeafsI thought Mikhail Grabovski was our best player in the pre-season. I was disappointed by his slow start in the regular season, but now he's really come on. He was clearly the offensive spark yesterday, scoring a goal and setting up another early. Grabs has six goals and two assists in the last four games, teaming with Niklas Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin to form a line in desperate need of a nickname. Enemen might work, but we can do better.

Our Canadian tour will now continue with stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. If we play like we did last night, out shooting the Habs 41-20, this will be a fun week.

Compare and Contrast: On Friday night, I played my first game of hockey in over twenty years, giving me an ice-level view of the action. Last night, I watched this Leafs game from the fourth row, giving me yet another ice-level view. The only difference, in my humble opinion, is skill.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
6-5-4
16 points
4th in Northeast Division
6-3 Win vs. Montreal
5-2 Loss vs. Boston
5-4 Loss vs. Carolina
N. Antropov - 13
N. Hagman - 12
M. Grabovski - 11

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Bestest Seats Ever

ticketstubI just got back from watching a fantastic Leafs game from the bestest seats ever. At least they're the best seats I've ever had for a Maple Leaf game and way better than the last Hall of Fame game I attended. I was treated to seats in the 4th row at the ACC where I witnessed a 6-3 spanking of the hated Habs.

It's a whole different game from that level. Grabs was flying, Price was falling and I got to watch the Leafs take the ice from beneath the platinum seats.

I took a few pics, but they really don't do it justice.

PB088217 PB088222 PB088214 PB088215

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Goal One: Survive

HockeyTonight I play my first game of hockey on ice in 21 years. I had a helmet, skates, stick and jock strap, and woodpeck, a reader of this blog, set me up with the rest of the gear. Thanks, woodpeck!

My primary objective tonight is to survive. If I accomplish that goal, I'll be happy. Everything else is gravy.

I'll let you all know how it goes. I'm just sorry my old Sam's Auto Repair jersey from the Swansea Hockey Association circa 1987 no longer fits.

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The Best of Flight of the Conchords

The Number FiveMy favourite Flight of the Conchords songs

  1. If You're Into It
  2. Hiphopapotamus v Rhymenocerous
  3. Business Time
  4. Not Crying
  5. Humans are Dead

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Maple Leafs 2, Bruins 5

LeafsIt's nice to see Blake doing what we signed him to do. He scored three goals last night, hopefully a sign of things to come. Blake came over for big money after that 40 goal outburst in New York, but miraculously lost his prolific scoring touch the moment he arrived.

Aw crap, this is embarrassing. I'm sorry, it wasn't our Jason Blake with that hat trick, it was Bruins winger Blake Wheeler. Wow, I blew that one...

Here's hoping for a better effort on Saturday night, because I'll be sitting in the fourth row at the ACC to witness the NHL's greatest historical rivalry.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
5-5-4
14 points
Tied for 4th in Northeast Division
5-2 Loss vs. Boston
5-4 Loss vs. Carolina
6-4 Loss vs. Carolina
N. Antropov - 10
N. Hagman - 10
A. Ponikarovsky - 9

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Death Cab for Cutie - Cath...

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Cath..." by Death Cab for Cutie.

"Cath..." is the second single from Death Cab for Cutie's sixth studio album, Narrow Stairs. It's not as strong as "I Will Possess Your Heart," but it's still solid DCFC.

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My Obama Pics

PicturesWhen I see an image I like, I throw it in my Flickr account. Over the past year, I've added nine images I've tagged "obama".

Here is my Obama collection.

omg Obama-I-Got-This obamamatrixkh0 wecome back america McCain Hope Obama Logo

november-4-2008

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Andy Barrie Takes Indefinite Leave from Radio

CBCI was listening to CBC RadioOne this morning when Andy Barrie told us at 8:27am that he had something personal to announce. He told us he was leaving the show indefinitely.

Immediately I suspected his health was the reason. Andy has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. He quickly reassured us he was fine, but there were serious health issues in his family right now and he needed to leave his post in order to offer his full support there.

Andy has been host of CBC Radio 99.1's Metro Morning since 1995 and is one of the finest broadcasters working in this city. He'll be missed.

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PC Salvation

UbuntuOne perk when working for a software company is easy access to hardware deemed insufficient for development purposes. At least this is a perk when you're buds with the IS guy. Older desktops and laptops are taken out of circulation and replaced, usually because the latest version of Windows demands too much under the hood.

When I get my mitts on one of these desktops or laptops, I breathe new life into them with a proven technique that never fails. I get Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system, and my personal favourite distribution of Linux. Oh yeah, and it's completely free. Here are the steps I follow when salvaging PCs.

  1. I visit http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download and download the latest version of Ubuntu's desktop edition, currently 8.10. This gives me an .iso file that will fit on a blank CD.
  2. Using the free InfraRecorder I follow the super easy steps here to burn the image to CD.
  3. With this newly burned Ubuntu install CD in the CD-ROM drive, I start up the PC and get into the BIOS. Usually that means pressing F10 or F1 or some key combination. Here's a cheat sheet.
  4. Once in the BIOS, set it to boot from your CD-ROM drive. Save changes and exit.
  5. Ubuntu will now guide you the rest of the way. It's super easy, trust me. You don't need to be a geek. The entire installation takes less than 30 minutes.

Almost everything is done in the browser these days, and Ubuntu comes ready to rock with Firefox. Connecting to the internet, either wired or wireless, is easy. It just works. Windows users will adapt quickly.

So if you have a PC that might be a little dated and lacks the horsepower for Windows, give it a new life. Give it Ubuntu. That's what I do.

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Toronto One

TVHey, remember Toronto One? I just hit up the archives to throw down something from five years ago when I saw this entry I wrote five years ago tomorrow.

A producer for Toronto Tonight had asked me if I was interested in appearing on their program. The program aired on a new station known as Toronto One and was accessible here in Toronto on channel 15. I declined the invitation, because I didn't think I could pull of appearing as someone who viewed Star Wars as his religion.

Toronto One arrived and left in the blink of an eye. It was sold by Craig Media to CHUM Limited and then to Quebecor Media. It was re-launched as SUN TV during the summer of 2005, thus ending the brief life of Toronto One.

SUN TV's slogan is "Fun to Watch" which I find ironic considering it's home to the crappiest of crappy television and rather painful to watch. Still, Toronto One had good taste in potential panel guests for Toronto Tonight.

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Michael Crichton, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumMichael Crichton was 66. He was the million-selling author of such historic and prehistoric science fantasies as "Jurassic Park," "Timeline" and "The Andromeda Strain."

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Otis Redding - A Change Is Gonna Come

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.

Otis Redding - A Change Is Gonna Come
This is Otis Redding covering Sam Cooke's classic "A Change Is Gonna Come."

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Maple Leafs 4, Hurricanes 5

LeafsIs this how it's going to be all season? We were down 3-0 early last night but fought back to secure a point in overtime. It seems we do this just about every game, we fall behind early and then battle back. How do you sustain that over an 82 game season? I suspect you don't.

As a fan, I'm just glad these games are so entertaining. We can skate, dammit.

These-Leafs-Can-Skate

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
5-4-4
14 points
4th in Northeast Division
5-4 Loss vs. Carolina
6-4 Loss vs. Carolina
5-2 Win vs. New York Rangers
N. Antropov - 10
N. Hagman - 10
A. Ponikarovsky - 9

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The Most Precious of Gifts

USATomorrow we'll return to our regular blogging schedule, but tonight it's all about our neighbours to the south. America has elected an African-American as their President, 232 years after the United States Declaration of Independence.

I've recently been asked if I was rooting for Obama because he's black. I followed this political race carefully, and in my eyes the Democrats ran a perfect campaign. Everything about Barack Obama was presidential, every word he said and every point he argued. The colour of his skin didn't sway me one iota. It's the man who is the ideal candidate at this time, for America and for the world.

Others have wondered where this enthusiasm was during our Canadian election last month. I actually addressed this point back in September. I'm aching to feel such passion for our elections. I would absolutely love to be inspired by a Canadian politician in the fashion I've been inspired by Barack Obama. I am Canadian, and I love this country, but the recent Canadian election left me completely unmoved while this euphoria in the wake of Obama's overwhelming victory has left me invigorated and motivated to change things for the better. Obama has given me, and millions of others throughout the world, the most precious of gifts. He's given us hope.

Tomorrow there will be entries about the Leafs' overtime loss, a great tune will be shared and I'll likely revisit a local Toronto memory from the early 80s, but today it's about something greater. It's about time.

Obama Logo

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Follow the 2008 USA Election Right Here

USAWatch as real-time election results come in tonight. Select a state to see county-by-county results and view House and Senate races by using the dropdown toolbar.

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Hope

VoteI held on to this photo just so I could post it the morning of November 4th, 2008. You'll have to click through to see the picture I was going to post, because I've decided not to post it. I'm going to post a different image this morning.

This poster is from Shepard Fairey and was available from Obey Giant. It says it all, as far as I'm concerned. It just seems most appropriate on this historic Tuesday.

Hope

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." - Barack Obama

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322 Samples in Feed the Animals

MusicIt's been almost two months since I downloaded Girl Talk's Feed the Animals. It's one of those pay-what-you-want deals and it's a mash-up of hundreds of tunes.

Part of the fun in listening to Feed the Animals is naming the samples. Trust me, nobody could nail them all, so I was happy to see Waxy posting the official sample list as a CSV, Excel, and Google Spreadsheets document.

There are 322 samples in total. Feed the Animals is one of my favourite albums of 2008.

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Don't Celebrate Too Early

partyI'm no political scientist, but I don't anticipate a nail-biter tomorrow night. This will be an overwhelming electoral college victory for Barack Obama.

But let's not celebrate too early...

obamobile

Awesome animated gif stolen from WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

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Maple Leafs 4, Hurricanes 6

LeafsApparently, our 2-0 lead isn't safe either. The Hurricanes stormed us in the third and we never recovered, although these cardiac kids came close.

It wasn't a great night for Curtis Joseph, winless in three outings this season. If Tosky was between the pipes, we'd have pulled this out.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
5-4-3
13 points
4th in Northeast Division
6-4 Loss vs. Carolina
5-2 Win vs. New York Rangers
6-5 Win vs. New Jersey
N. Antropov - 9
A. Ponikarovsky - 9
N. Hagman - 8

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Grooveshark Test Drive

GroovesharkDon't mind me, I'm just testing Grooveshark. They claim they can play millions of songs on demand, and even let you embed the songs on your site.

Here's some old school Toronto hip hop for ya. If they've got the Maestro, I'm impressed.

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I'm Unretiring, Twenty Years Later

puckLast December I wrote about putting on skates for the first time in about fifteen years. I bought a pair of skates and skated with my son every Saturday through the winter.

I just joined a recreational hockey team, and we make our ice debut on Friday. I haven't played ice hockey since I was 13. That was over twenty years ago.

I own a pair of skates, a helmet and my old baseball jockstrap, but I need everything else by Friday. Where should a poor bastard like me score the rest of my protective gear so I can survive my long overdue return to the world's fastest game?

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Maple Leafs 5, Rangers 2

LeafsYour 2-0 lead isn't safe against this lovable squad of overachievers. We're fast, we work hard and, dammit, we're winning. That 5.5 minutes of awesomeness in the 3rd would melt even the coldest heart.

And if one more person gives me the "Leafs can't even lose right" line, I swear, the gloves are coming off. And it'll be justified.

The Leafs are winning, the Raptors are winning and Obama is winning. Life is good.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
5-3-3
13 points
4th in Northeast Division
5-2 Win vs. New York Rangers
6-5 Win vs. New Jersey
3-2 Loss vs. Tampa Bay
N. Antropov - 9
A. Ponikarovsky - 9
M. Stajan - 7

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October 2008 Organic Keywords

Search Strings According to Google Analytics, here are the top ten keywords that brought people to this site in October 2008.

Over the past 31 days, 72.83% of visitors to this site came via a search engine. 90.8% of those searchers come from Google. By a pretty good margin, the Google search to bring the most visitors to this site is a search for wedding songs.

That's right, I'm #1 in Google for wedding songs, a rather popular search term, as you can imagine. Now excuse me, I have money to count.

  1. wedding songs
  2. george carlin quotes
  3. roger rick and marilyn
  4. rick hodge
  5. prima tv
  6. stu jeffries
  7. hockey songs
  8. wedding songs 2008
  9. big shiny tunes 5
  10. big shiny tunes 2

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Jacques Piccard, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJacques Piccard was 86. He was the Swiss deep sea explorer and inventor who holds the record for travelling to the deepest point underwater.

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Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow

EarthThis planet we all share really isn't that big. Like many of you, I tend to focus on North American news and events. Sure, I read the international news from the BBC, but it's primarily headline reading unless it's a significant news event.

I don't pretend to be an expert in the Somali Republic and their politics. I had to visit Wikipedia to learn the I.C.U. and their militia took control of much of the southern half of Somalia, including the southern port of Kismayo. I'm referencing the instable political situation in Somalia because of this story being reported by Amnesty International and Somalia media.

A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human rights group said.

Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses. The Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.

It's a small world, but it's easy to forget events like this are still possible. When you fail to look beyond your own city, province, country or continent, it's easy to ignore the fact a quarter of Somali children die before age 5.

It's difficult to even imagine a stadium packed with spectators to witness the stoning to death of a 13-year-old rape victim. It's even more difficult to accept the fact there's so little we can do.

Shock and disgust are natural reactions to Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow's story, but otherwise useless. Is this just a shit pill we civilized folk have to hold our nose and swallow or can we actually do something to right such a barbaric wrong in our very small world?

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HBO Canada

HBO CanadaI've got a new television station. Channel 302 is now HBO Canada and it's free with TMN.

On the surface this sounds pretty cool. I've been a huge fan of some HBO shows, from Dream On to Larry Sanders through Oz, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Some of my current favourites are form HBO, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords and The Life and Times of Tim. Yet this news that I finally get HBO (or at least the Canadian version) is pretty underwhelming.

You see, TMN is already airing those current favourites I mentioned, along with Entourage, Big Love and In Treatment. TMN also aired The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, along with all the HBO docs and movies. So this is a good thing, but not nearly as good a thing as it would seem.

Although I do see several hours of Real Time with Bill Maher scheduled today, so I for one welcome our new HBO overlords.

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