August 2009 Archives

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The Smart Car So Far

CarWhen I first wrote that I was going to test drive a Smart Fortwo car for a week, a commenter warned me to stay off the 400 series highways. That's all I needed to hear. The first thing I did when I got the keys from Mercedez-Benz this morning was hit the 401 and 403.

At 120 km/h everything felt fine. I can now vouch for the fact that the Smart Car can go on the highway. It really didn't take long to get used to the fact you're the smallest thing on the road. It was a lot of fun, and you can parallel park into freakishly small spots.

As much as I love the size of the Smart Fortwo, that's also its greatest weakness. At least it is for a father of two. If I have to get the kids somewhere, the Smart Fortwo is simply not an option. Even without passengers there's a storage issue. My laptop filled up half of the "trunk".

To be fair, I don't think anyone expects the Smart Car to have much storage space. The joy of this car is that's it's tiny, but you never feel unsafe. I'm going to try and break this sucker over the next week and I'll report back on how I did.

P8319217 P8319219

P8319221

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Toronto Stories Review

Movie ReviewToronto Stories: 6 out of 10.

Last December, the PR folks behind this Canadian indie film contacted me and asked me to help promote it. They sent me the DVD to review, but in typical Canadian indie film promotion fashion, the DVD had no audio.

I let my contact know my DVD had no audio, and she apologized, but I'll be damned if I ever received a replacement. They got their entry, but they never got their review. I didn't see the movie until this weekend when it appeared on TMN.

It was neat seeing Toronto playing itself, and it wasn't a bad little movie, but it's nothing to write home about. I suppose you'd write home about it if you wrote home about local flicks that aren't half bad. I might write home about the fact "Toronto Stories was shot in the four corners of the city, from the Don Valley and Cabbagetown to Kensington Market, from St. Clair and Vaughan to the back-alleys of the downtown core and majestic Union Station."

Toronto Stories

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Donate to My Terry Fox Run

Terry foxI'm running for Terry on Sunday, September 13 at High Park. I'm aiming to raise $1000 for The Terry Fox Foundation. I'm really going to need your help.

Donate to my run. They'll email you a tax receipt in PDF. It's easy, secure and for a good cause.

Who has the courage to go first?


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Sam Etcheverry, Dead at 79

In MemoriumSam Etcheverry was 79. He was the legendary quarterback who led the Montreal Alouettes to three Grey Cup appearances in the 1950s then later coached them to CFL title.

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Test Driving the Smart Fortwo Car from Mercedez-Benz

Smart CarA few weeks ago, I wrote I was test driving a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid for a week. Someone from Mercedez-Benz reads this blog and send me an email moments later. "If you're going to test drive the Fusion for a week, you have to test drive our smart fortwo for a week".

I've always been curious what it would be like to drive a Smart Car. This was an offer I couldn't refuse. Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Mercedez to pick up my 2009 smart fortwo passion coupé.

I've intentionally left "smart fortwo passion coupé" in lower case. One visit to their website and you'll see what I mean. Does anyone out there have any smart car driving experience?

fortwo

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Carny Doc from TVO - Watch it Here

tvI watch a lot of documentaries. I love a good doc. One of my favourite documentary series is The View From Here on TVO. If you have a PVR, I highly recommend recording The View From Here as it's better than anything you'll find on ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX.

With the Ex in full swing, my own personal memories of carny folk have peculated to the top of my mind. I'm planning a visit to the Ex next Saturday, and in preparation for that visit, I took in the TVO documentary "Carny" that aired as part of their The View From Here series.

"Carny" is fascinating. Here's the description from TVO.

This documentary will explore the slowly-disappearing world of the family-based traveling carnival and the ubiquitous itinerant workers that inhabit this world. The filmmaker will follow a traveling three-generation family carnival and capture the poetry of the fairground experience. This will be a glimpse into a mysterious, intoxicating and often maligned subculture, providing a unique point of view into a contemporary nomadic way of life that is quickly vanishing.

You've got to check this out. Let me make this easy for you. Watch "Carny" in its entirety below. You're welcome.

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Eat-Man for the Commodore Pet

infoWe never owned a Commodore Pet, but my dad would bring it home from work on selective weekends. That made the Commodore Pet the first computer I ever enjoyed.

One of my favourite games was Eat-Man. I just Googled the crap out of "Eat-Man" and there's surprisingly nothing out there. Eat-Man was Pac-Man without the high-end graphics. Essentially, the character Eat-Man was the < character and he gobbled up -'s in a Pac-Man like maze. I can't remember what character the ghosts were, but they might have been o's or *'s.

Pac-Man was all the rage in the early 80s but I was tearing it up with Eat-Man.

Press play on tape one!

PET

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IMing With My 7-Year Old

IMMy son has a Gmail account. Gmail is integrated with the Google instant messenger, Gtalk, so when James sees me online, he likes to chat.

This afternoon, James' cousin told him about this cool video game he discovered online. Apparently there are aliens and stuff, so James tried to download the free trial. This led him to some frustration and the following IM exchange while he hacked away at the basement computer and I worked on my laptop upstairs.

chat

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Remembering Robert Reichel: Five Years Later

Guest Blog SubmissionI used to have a form on this site for anyone to submit a guest blog entry. Five years ago today, a gentleman in British Columbia submitted a tribute to Robert Reichel who was leaving the Leafs after three seasons to play at home in the Czech league for Litvinov CHP HC.

Reichel was a fourth line player for the Leafs, and I regarded his absence as addition by subtraction. Still, someone felt he needed a tribute, so he got one.

A Tribute to Robert Reichel

It has been something of an enigma to the mind of your writer as I pen these words about the retirement of Robert Reichel from the vaunted Toronto Maple Leafs. A lot of people weren't too impressed with Reichel as a player but I have always liked him. Here are my five favourite goals he scored for us in the season 2003-04:

(Away) November 22nd, 2003. The Leafs roll into Vancouver to take on the greatest team in the Western Conference. I must admit I was fearful of seeing my beloved team lose to the Canucks. Out here in la-la-land, I was privileged to see my team in action, live. I wasn't disappointed. Reichel scored the second goal for the Leafs for a great night that the game ended 5 to 3 Leafs win. As I saw this game live, this was my favourite Reichel goal.

(Away) January 30th, 2004. The Leafs played in Atlanta. This was Reichel's 800th game, he opened the scoring by placing the first goal of the game. This would be his fifth goal (and twelve assists) of the year. Leafs ended the game 4 to 1. It is a note worthy comment here to say that this was Trevor Kidds BEST game of the year. Kidd's net minding preserved the Eagle for on the next night when the Leafs had bigger fish to fry at home hosting the Senator's. Reichel would have decisive contributions to this key game at the A.C.C.

(Home) January 31st, 2004. A score was to be settled. The Leafs earlier took a drubbing at home by the Ottawa Senators. As the Leafs were in for a long night the Ottawa captain thought it was a good idea to mock Mats Sundin. This man has been marked. But, lets talk about the game. I personally thought this was the best game the Leafs played all year. Certainly it was my favourite.It was Pat Quinn's 600th win and Tie Domi got his revenge. Robert Reichel had two important goals to contribute in this epic game. In the first period, Reichel on his knees scored tying the game 1 to 1 . Later, (I've never seen this before) Reichel shot the puck and Gary Roberts tipped it in with NO TIME ON THE CLOCK to score Leafs were now 3 to 1. The end result was 5 to 1 Leafs. I can only imagine how it must have been to see that game at the A.C.C live.

(Away) April 3rd, 2004. At the Toronto Maple Leafs home away from home the Corel Centre, the Leafs proceed to take a ball pien hammer the Ottawa Senators. The 6 to 0 blow out was impressive to watch. Reichel scored the fifth goal in this rout. This sadly would be his last goal in the N.H.L. Reichel was unsuccessful in scoring any goals in the playoffs for the Leafs.

The reader may ask why do I harp on about some fourth line player? I feel it will be the Robert Reichel's or the Travis Green's or the Robert Svehla's that will one day end this cursed drought that has dogged our team. Yes I know our biggest guns (Mogilny, Nolan, Sundin, Nieuwendyk, or their successor's) can and will be counted on to get us, one day, to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Our deliverer, who will score a goal to be the man who's goal will equal Bill Barilko's in fame will be a man from the fourth line. (Or, I'd like Darcy Tucker do be the man). I just feel a laughing fate has arranged that. I regret if I have been too melodramatic here; I'd like to close by saying to Robert Reichel thank you for your efforts and best wishes to you and your family when you return the Czech Republic to live.

     D.C.

Five years ago, this tribute was credited to the author's real name. A few years ago, D.C. wrote me and asked me to delete his real name and use his initials. People would Google him and see his tribute to Reichel. I'm guessing his credibility and integrity was shot right there.

Robert Reichel left the blue and white five years ago this week. He was not The Greatest Leaf in the World, no. This is just a tribute.

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Crazy Town: True One Hit Wonders

MusicWith the death of DJ AM yesterday, people are seeking out his former band's one hit. Crazy Town was an alternative hip-hop ensemble consisting of several artists, including Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein.

"Butterfly" was released back in 2001 and was a massive hit for the band. The contagious groove is courtesy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as it's their "Pretty Little Ditty" from my favourite RHCP album of all time.

Here's a true one hit wonder, Crazy Town, with their one hit, "Butterfly".

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5 Studio Albums Teens Should Be Force Fed

musicIt's been a long week. Earlier today, during a five minute break, I posted five albums every teenager should listen to.

After some reflection I realized that 3/5 were actually compilations, and not studio albums. If we're going to force teens to listen to five albums recorded prior to 1980, let's make 'em listen to proper studio albums.

Here are five studio albums teens should be force fed.

The Beatles - Revolver

beatles-revolver

AC/DC - Back in Black

backinblack

The Clash - London Calling

london-calling

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

pink_floyd_-_dark_side_of_the_moon

Led Zeppelin - IV

iv

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DJ AM, Dead at 36

In MemoriumAdam "DJ AM" Goldstein was 36. He was a member of the rock band Crazy Town, known for their hit "Butterfly", and a recent collaborator with Travis Barker of Blink 182.

Here's DJ AM and Barker doing a drum remix of the NFL on Fox theme for Super Bowl XLII.

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5 Albums Every Teenager Should Listen To

musicAs a teenager, I would hear about these iconic classic rock albums. "Revolver", "Dark Side of the Moon", "Morrison Hotel" and "Have You Ever Been Experienced" were just some of the albums I had to discover for myself. It was a rite of passage.

Here are five classic albums I believe every teenager should listen to. If you believe I missed a mandatory play-through album from 1955 through 1980 that should be in the top five, let me know in the comments.

Bob Marley - Legend

legend

Neil Young - Decade

decade

The Clash - London Calling

london-calling

Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks

hotrocks

Led Zeppelin - IV

iv

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Billy Talent - Devil On My Shoulder

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS22 consideration. I'm submitting "Devil On My Shoulder" by Billy Talent.

I heard this live last June and immediately liked it. You either like Billy Talent or you don't. I do.

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House of Lords Ad From CFNY

radioI haven't cut the top of my hair since the first week of January. My plan is to use it to raise a little extra money for the Terry Fox Foundation.

Every year I run for Terry Fox to get sponsors like you to open your wallets. This year, I'll still run, but I'll also lose the mop top if I raise over $1000. I'll start my hardcore promotion of my Terry Fox run next week, but if you want to donate now, click here.

When I lived downtown for a few years in the mid-90s, I got my hair cut at The House of Lords on Yonge Street. It was a cool place and the price was right. Here's a great old ad for The House of Lords that aired on CFNY back in the day.

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New Personalities Wanted at CFRB

radioI don't listen to CFRB 1010. I recently visited CFRB and sat in on Jim Richards' show, a guy I actually find to be quite funny, but I can't say I ever listen to the Astral station.

Today, Astral let go 12 people at CFRB. Among those let go are on air personalities, including Paul and Carol Mott, Michael Coren and Jacqui Delaney, news staffers, including newscaster Kris McCusker, and producers.

Paul and Carol Mott, a husband and wife radio team known as The Motts, are the only personalities on that list I had ever listened to. Many years ago I used to listen to them on CFRB. It seems like they've been there forever.

CFRB is in the market for new personalities. Know any willing to work in radio?

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Gene Simmons Master Spin Doctor, But Who's Buying?

KISSIt seems rock band KISS was caught screwing with the Shwa and Gene Simmons was quick to call on the spin doctors.

That's Simmons' game. He's always marketing, always selling the shit, and this time his story isn't being bought by anyone. Let's see what Gene Simmons had to say about KISS passing over the Shwa when they released their tour sked.

I'm really pissed off at the media for creating this nonsense.

Respectfully, the fans aren't qualified to understand how things are done ... (they) don't know how things work.

Let's now hear from fellow bandmate Paul Stanley.

You may hear a slightly different story from Gene, but so be it.

The media was carrying the dissent and upset feeling of the fans. They weren't creating anything, they were reporting it. Don't blame the messenger.

And then there's KISS spokesman Erik Stein.

The size of the production turned out to require a larger venue. In this case, that turned out to be the Air Canada Centre.

Nice try, Gene. At least Oshawa gets their concert. Too bad it took a media shitstorm to get it done.

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Moments by Will Hoffman

videoI tweeted about this film immediately after watching it for the first time yesterday. Even though I added "(highly recommended)" to the tweet, only 36 people clicked through to watch. This thing is better than that.

This is called "Moments" and it's by Will Hoffman. This films is a celebration of life that was inspired by David Eagleman's book, Sum. I adore it, and so should you.

Pass it on.

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How Fat is Too Fat for a Cat?

questionAfter work tonight, I paid my first visit to the home of **** and *****. I'm keeping their identity secret, and you'll know why in a second.

***** asked me if I wanted to see her fat cat. At first I thought it was a come-on, but then realized she wanted to show off her enormous pet feline. This was the fattest cat I had ever seen.

My question is, how fat is too fat for a cat? If this was a child, Children's Aid would be knocking at the door. Is this fat cat a victim of abuse?

Fat cat

Note: Cat appears fatter in real life.

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Dominick Dunne, Dead at 83

In MemoriumDominick Dunne was 83 He was the former Hollywood producer and best-selling author known for his Vanity Fair essays on the courtroom travails of the rich and famous.

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Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia

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.

Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia
Before you cry blasphemy, the name Dead Kennedys is not meant to insult anyone's death, as Jello Biafra said, it's "to bring attention to the end of the American Dream".

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Ted Kennedy, Dead at 77

In MemoriumTed Kennedy was 77. He was the patriarch of the first family of Democratic politics known as the “lion of the Senate” who played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

Not to be mistaken for Ted "Teeder" Kennedy, the Maple Leaf great who left us earlier this month.

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There are No Black Guys in Poland, Right?

paintI had some fun earlier this summer when the City of Toronto Photoshopped a black guy onto the cover of their Fun Guide.

At least we added a black guy. Microsoft got rid of the black guy when it came time to serve up a stock image for Poland.

Here's a cap from the Microsoft business productivity for the USA:

usa

Here's a cap from the Microsoft business productivity for Poland:

poland

Are there no black guys in Poland? Was that the problem?

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CNE Conklin Carnies Saved My Life

Tales From The ExI shared the story five years ago and I like the story so I'm going to share it again.

Remember this when you're snickering at the carnies working at the Ex.

During the 125th Canadian National Exhibition, I'm sharing stories from my three years working there as a game booth attendant. Below is one of many.

During the height of Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, I was working a game with a Madonna-wannabee. She copied that complete look, including that fake-blonde pony tail. At this time, Ms. Blonde Ambition was also my manager and in charge of managing our shifts.

This particular game had a microphone and one of us was to be on the mic at all times creating excitement and attracting the next sucker. I was on when I saw a couple of people decked out in 680 CFTR gear handing out swag. In a shameless effort to score some free goods, I hollered "CFTR Rules!" into the mic and got their attention. It worked because they came right over and handed me two tickets to see the Jays at SkyDome that night and attend a Pizza Pizza party beforehand.

Ms. Blonde Ambition had to rearrange the schedule so I could get my free pizza and check out the Jays but she had a condition. She wanted the second ticket. I agreed and that night I gorged on pizza and witnessed the first bug delay in Blue Jays history. The game is rather infamous for the 35-minute bug delay and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Here's where this tale from the Ex kicks into high gear. The next night I was closing up the game booth after midnight when I saw Ms. Blonde Ambition's boyfriend walking towards me. He was clearly drunk and was slurring something to the effect that I should stay away from his girl and he heard I asked her out. There was no point reasoning with this guy. He was there to kick my ass.

I was sixteen and not the biggest dude around. This guy was older, bigger and full of booze. It was after midnight at the CNE and I needed back-up. Where was I to turn?

A Conklin carny was closing up his booth and I quickly approached him and in as few words as possible told him Ms. Blonde Ambition's boyfriend's was there to pummel me and I needed a little help. Even though I wasn't working for Conklin, there was a code amongst us carnies. We looked out for eachother. I'll never forget what this 100 pound, 40-something year old, mullet-headed carny said and did next. He picked up a pipe, pounded it into his hand and called back behind the trailer to a collection of carnies enjoying an end-of-day brew, "You guys ready for a fight?".

This collection of Conklin carnies came through for me that night when I needed them most. I worked for a rival company, but we were all in the same gang. They saw I was in trouble and they took up the cause. To this day I'm unsure how that night ended for Ms. Blonde Ambition's boyfriend, but he didn't bother me again for the remainder of the CNE. I'm guessing he learned his lesson...carny style.

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It is Over! Paul Romanuk's Most Memorable Call

canadahockeyI remember Paul Romanuk calling international hockey games in the 90s and his signature call "It.. is Over!" I've used that call several times in the past year alone, but I'm a sucker for memorable sports calls.

Paul Romanuk is also a regular reader of this blog. I received a nice note from him and I promised to plug his blog. He's living in England now but he keeps tabs on the homeland by reading the sludge posted here.

Go to http://www.paulromanuk.com/ and click "blog" at the top. I'd link straight to the blog, but Paul thinks it's 1997 and is using frames.

Here is where I'd insert the audio or video of Paul Romanuk declaring "It is Over!" but he doesn't have it and I can't find it anywhere on line. If you've got it, and I'm looking at you Down Goes Brown, hook me up and I'll share it.

As for this entry, it is over!

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The Shwa Screwed Over By Kiss

KISSRemember when overrated rock band Kiss held that online contest to determine where they'll play on their upcoming tour? Oshawa won that contest and was named the KISS capital. Apparently, KISS "guaranteed" the top three finishers would get a KISS show.

KISS have unveiled the dates for their KISS ALIVE/35: 2009 North American Tour and the closest to Oshawa on the list is good ol' Toronto. Somehow, I don't think that's what the city of Oshawa was expecting when they declared KISS Week and voted en masse.

Cheer up, Oshawa. They might just be the most overrated band, ever.

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Step Brothers Review

Movie ReviewStep Brothers: 6.5 out of 10.

Roger Ebert, your job is safe. This movie reviewing thing is hard. I recently watched a Coen Brothers film I had high hopes for, thought it was okay and punished it with a 6.5 out of 10 rating. Then, I watched this Adam McKay movie I thought would suck hard, and I was pleasantly surprised. The end result? Both Step Brothers and Burn After Reading ended up with the same grade.

I know, it doesn't make sense, does it? Maybe it's because the genres are so different? Maybe it's because of my sky high hopes for one and my gutter low hopes for the other? Like I said, this isn't easy.

Maybe it was my awesome mood, or maybe it was the cheap drugs, but I laughed loud and often during Step Brothers and if you have a problem with that, join the club. I no longer trust my own judgement.

step-brothers-poster-big

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My Week Driving A Ford Fusion Hybrid: A Review

CarI just returned the the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid I've been driving for the past week. Ford gave me the car for a no-strings-attached seven days and I drove it to Lake Huron and back. I wasn't told to write a positive review or a review at all, they just told me to have fun and try and bring it back in one piece.

It was a lot of fun. It drives wonderfully and has all these extras I hadn't experienced before. When something is in my blind spot, there's an indicator light on the mirror. When I reverse, a camera shows me what's behind me and there's a beep if someone or something is approaching from the right or left. There are visual rewards for conserving energy by way of leaves that grow on the dashboard. It's pretty cool.

The Fusion had Sync technology, so I hooked up my iPod Touch and my Blackberry via Bluetooth. That feature, along with the Sirius satellite radio, will be the hardest to let go. I need me a sweet sound system!

The only negative to report is the lack of storage space. I prefer smaller cars, and I understand this is one of the sacrifices, but packing for a camping trip with two kids was quite the challenge. It's a good thing I left my wife at home.

I sincerely could see myself in a Fusion Hybrid. It's my kind of car.

P8189087

P8189090 P8199092

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Pearl Jam's The Fixer Video from Cameron Crowe

PJThe new Cameron Crowe video for Pearl Jam's "The Fixer" has been released. Check it out below.

I remember after the huge success of "Jeremy" Pearl Jam was done with videos. It was a pretty big deal when we got that cool Todd McFarlane video for "Do the Evolution" back in '98.

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Tech Support Cheat Sheet

mouseI'm the local computer expert. I think when you know html and css and webmaster stuff, there's a general assumption you're a computer expert. My wife is always pimping me out to her friends who have PC issues, and I'm forever supporting the family with their computer ailments.

Here's a webcomic from xkcd that's pretty spot on. Now you can be a computer expert, too!

tech_support_cheat_sheet

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Kings of Leon - Notion

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS22 consideration. I'm submitting "Notion" by Kings of Leon.

Kings of Leon are an interesting example of a band "breaking out" with their fourth studio album. Few of us could have named a single KOL song prior to the release of Only by the Night, a hit-laden album if there ever was one.

I'm sure there are Kings of Leon die-hards jumping off the band wagon now that the masses have discovered them. It's the REM syndrome. You love a band's indie success and turn your back on them when everyone else agrees with you.

Hate the game, not the player. "Notion" is another killer single from Kings of Leon's Only by the Night, an album that now belongs to mass society.

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall Review

Movie ReviewForgetting Sarah Marshall: 6 out of 10.

The most surprising thing about Forgetting Sarah Marshall is that Seth Rogen isn't in it. Seriously, Seth Rogen doesn't appear on screen in this film for a single moment. He's not on the screen and he's not in the credits. Seth Rogen is not in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

But don't worry, there are appearances by Bill Hader, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd. It is a Judd Apatow flick, after all.

It's kinda funny. I was told it was going to be funnier. Still, it's a better comedy than the past few laugh-less dogs I've seen, but it's still not the comedy I'm looking for. My search continues...

forgetting-sarah-marshall-poster-0

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New Hair Style Options

scissorsI'm looking at some new hairstyle options. Thanks to @bkblades, I now have my short list.

wrestlers

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How Pedro Got My Groove Back

groovingIn June I wrote about how much traffic my Best. Party. Playlist. Ever. entry was getting from Stumbleupon. That tap, apparently, is still on, and a commenter named Pedro took up the challenge to duplicate the playlist on Grooveshark.

I received a lot of flack from that entry. For the record, the title was facetious. No, I don't think the greatest music in the world comes from Britney Spears and Falco. It's a purely fun and shallow party mix for a corporate party filled with people born in the 70s and it worked like a charm.

Here it is again, thanks to Pedro who helped me get my groove back.

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Storm's Surprise Semi-final Sweep

baseballLast week, my slo-pitch team stormed back for a come-from-behind quarter-final playoff victory against Game Over. That set up a semi-final best-of-three series against the Cardinals, a team that had beat us badly in all three regular season meetings.

Again, I know only a handful of you care about my RSPA slo-pitch team, but this team matters to me. I've played with them for as long as I can remember and this is only our second season in the RSPA's most competitive division. The come-back last week was entirely unexpected and what transpired Tuesday night was even more surprising.

We were stellar defensively and excellent offensively, and we swept the Cardinals by scores of 16-8 and 12-6. It wasn't even close. Personally, I had my best series in years. Remarkably, we've advanced to the finals in the toughest division in this 108 team slo-pitch league. Essentially, we're playing for the league title.

We're not done yet. There's one more series to win before we celebrate. Two years ago, we won the Int-1 division title and were promoted to comp. Now, we're playing for the championship of the world.

Mr. T

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Tent Camping at Pinery Provincial Park

campingMy personal favourite provincial park for camping is Killarney, but I just realized I've taken the kids to Pinery instead for three summers in a row. The kids prefer Pinery for one reason: the sand.

Pinery is all about sand. It's sand dune after sand dune and the sandiest beach you'll find in this province. We plan these massive sand dune hikes (don't tell the park ranger), sweat up a storm and then spend all afternoon in the water. The nights are for more hiking followed by the mandatory campfire. Sometimes, if I remember, I even feed the kids.

I want to give a big thank you to Canadian Tire for providing me with the biggest tent I've ever slept in, the most comfortable sleeping bags, inflatable mattress and a chair 10x more durable than the piece of crap Maple Leafs chair I bought at WalMart a few years ago. The tent survived an intense thunder storm on Thursday afternoon no worse for wear, and it was larger than the master bedroom in my house. If you're looking for camping gear, check out Canadian Tire, specifically their line of Roots gear.

Next year I'm booking time at two provincial parks: Killarney and Pinery. And, I think the kids are ready to stretch the trips beyond three days.

Here's my Flickr photoset from our camping trip to Pinery.

P8199095 P8199108 P8209151 P8199118

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Pearl Jam Concert Review: Toronto 2009

Pearl JamI was lucky enough to see Pearl Jam live in concert for the seventh time yesterday. I can already hear some of you snickering about how you've seen one band 32 times or another 45 times, but I've only seen one band more times than I've seen Pearl Jam.

This time, Pearl Jam was at the Molson Amphitheatre, a venue they last played in 2003. Before I dive into my review of the show, here's your Pearl Jam Primer and here's my page solely dedicated to Pearl Jam shows I've seen live. Now, on with the show...

Pearl Jam is consistently awesome in concert. They mix up their massive catalogue so there's a great mix of crowd pleasers and lesser played gems. For example, you can bank on getting "Even Flow", "Better Man", "Corduroy" and "Do The Evolution" at every show, but you might also get "Off He Goes", "Lukin", "Why Go" or "Of the Girl", as we did last night.

Here's a taste of a personal favourite, "Given to Fly".

"Given to Fly" was one of five songs Pearl Jam played from their 1998 Yield album, meaning I was wearing the right shirt.

A personal highlight for me was hearing "Black" live for the fifth time. Twenty years later, it still nails that chord. The lyrics, the melody, the emotion...

Eddie Vedder still has the lungs, but we Pearl Jam faithful don't even need him. It's one big sing-along with 15,000 strong carrying the day. Hear for yourself with the longest song title in the Pearl Jam catalogue, "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" and "Better Man".


Fittingly, Pearl Jam wrapped things up well after their 11pm curfew with Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World", a song I've now heard them play live four times. This time, there was no Bono.

Thanks, Yoda, as always. For all my pictures and videos, check out my Flickr photoset. For the entire setlist, including my all-time Pearl Jam song statistics, visit my Pearl Jam in Toronto page.

I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me.

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Pearl Jam, Camping and a Berth in the Finals = Best Week Ever

calendarWhat an amazing week. I couldn't have drawn this sucker on the board any better.

One night I was playing my best series in years as my slo-pitch team surprisingly swept our semi-final and will now play for the divisional title. It's the highest skill level division in this league so we're essentially playing for the RSPA title, something we've never won.

The next couple of nights, it was swimming, hiking and relaxing in front of the camp fire at Pinery Provincial Park. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Then, last night, it was Pearl Jam at the Molson Amphitheatre. An awesome show with a great songlist, closing with a Neil Young favourite.

Hell, all three of these things are worthy of entries of their very own. We'll start with my Pearl Jam review, coming soon...

P8199114

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I'm Officially Unplugged

campingThe car is packed, the kids are psyched and I'm hitting the road. Consider me unplugged.

In the interim, here are the five entries this month that have received the most comments thus far. When you're done resolving these issues, get crackin' on world hunger.

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Fearless Fred Talks About Toronto Mike

edge102I first heard of Fearless Fred when I broke the firing from CFNY / Edge 102 of Martin Streek and Barry Taylor. I was informed by my trustworthy tipster that Fearless Fred had been hired from Edmonton and would debut sometime in August.

About ten days ago, I wrote that Fearless Fred was on his way, and confirmed that Bookie was being bumped so Fearless Fred could take over the drive home slot. I understand that he premiered yesterday.

I just learned from a commenter that Fearless Fred spoke about this site and our discussions about Streek's dismissal and the recruitment of FF. It's an interview with Fred Kennedy on a comedy blog entitled From the Back of the Room.

Fred Kennedy is not Martin Streek – nor will he try to be – a fact that’s a sore point among Toronto radio devotees who view him as the poster boy for the literal and figurative death of quality radio.

“There’s some radio site called Toronto Mike or Mike in Toronto or something. It’s a prototypical website that’s full of people who’ve either been fired or are just starting out and are already jaded. Basically no matter what happens in the radio business they’re the people who will always say it’s for the worst. Joe Blow gets fired and it’s the worst thing that has ever happened in radio EVER! Even though when he was on air the week before they trashed him without remorse. All that typical nonsense.”

Fred, this isn't a radio site, but I do write about radio when it interests me. It's full of something, but not radio rejects. Hell, I'm the only author, and I've never worked in radio. I wasn't happy that Streek got fired, I sincerely was a long-time fan, but there was no trashing of Streek the week prior.

As puzzling as your description of this site is, it's your final statement in the interview that has me most puzzled.

“Let these people run their mouths. I work at the fucking Edge,” he says, “the best rock station in the country.”

I believe what you mean by that statement is that you work at the only non-classic rock station in Canada's largest city. At one time, it was the best, but that was a long, long time ago.

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Burn After Reading Review

Movie ReviewBurn After Reading: 6.5 out of 10.

I'm on holidays. I'm still in the city, because I've got a couple of important slo-pitch playoff games to play tonight and my priorities are in order, so my wife and I decided to watch this Coen brothers film we missed last year.

Generally speaking, I love Coen brothers flicks. "No Country for Old Men", "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "The Big Lebowski", "Fargo", "Miller's Crossing", and "Raising Arizona" are personal favourites. Their direction is consistently awesome, but "Burn After Reading" isn't a home run.

It's possible my disappointment is a result of the aforementioned excellence, as I expect to be amazed by everything Ethan and Joel Coen direct. It certainly didn't stink, but it was a little slower and less intriguing than usual. It was just okay, and for the Coen brothers, that's not good enough.

burn-after-reading-poster

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Frank Zappa Schooling Robert Novak on Crossfire

FuneralPolitical columnist Robert Novak, a diehard conservative, pugilistic debater and proud owner of the "Prince of Darkness" monikor, died today at the age of 78. That's a convenient excuse to share Frank Zappa's 1986 appearance on CNN's Crossfire, a show co-hosted by Novak.

I first saw this clip a couple of years ago and was highly impressed by Zappa's ability to remain very calm and collected despite the fact that he was being personally attacked. While the other guys worked themselves into a frenzy, Zappa just made good sense.

The biggest threat to America today is not communism; it’s moving America towards a fascist theocracy and everything that has happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe.

It's hard to believe Frank Zappa's been gone over 15 years now. Who's the Frank Zappa of today?

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White People Like Camping

campingStuff White People Like has done it again. Just like they did with The Wire, they've nailed camping.

If you find yourself trapped in the middle of the woods without electricity, running water, or a car you would likely describe that situation as a “nightmare” or “a worse case scenario like after plane crash or something.” White people refer to it as “camping.”

When white people begin talking to you about camping they will do their best to tell you that it’s very easy and it allows them to escape the pressures and troubles of the urban lifestyle for a more natural, simplified, relaxing time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In theory camping should be a very inexpensive activity since you are literally sleeping on the ground. But as with everything in white culture, the more simple it appears the more expensive it actually is.

Camping is a multi-day, multi-step, potentially lethal activity that will cost you a large amount of both time and money. Unless you are in some sort of position where you absolutely need the friendship of a white person, you should avoid camping at all costs.

The first stage of camping always involves a trip to an outdoor equipment store like REI (or in Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-Op). These stores are well known for their abundance of white customers and their extensive inventory of things for white people to buy and only use once. If you are ever tricked into going to one of these stores, you can make white people like you by saying things like “man, this Kayak is only $1200, if I use it 35 times I’ve already saved money over renting.” Note: do not actually buy the kayak.

Next, white people will then take this new equipment and load it into an SUV or Subaru Outback with a Thule or Yakima Roof Rack. Then they will drive for an extended period of time to a national park or campsite where they will pay an entrance fee and begin their journey. It is worth noting that white people are unaware of the irony of using a gas burning car to bring them closer to nature and it is not recommended that you point this out. It will ruin their weekend.

Once in the camp area, white people will walk around for a while, set up a tent, have a horrible night of sleep, walk around some more. Then get in the car and go home. This, of course, is a best case scenario. Worst case scenarios include: getting lost, poisoned, killed by an animal, and encountering an RV. Of these outcomes, the latter is seen by white people as the worst since it involves an encounter with the wrong kind of white people.

Conversely, any camping trip that ends in death at the hands of nature or requires the use of valuable government resources for a rescue is seen as relatively positive in white culture. This is because both situations might eventually lead to a book deal or documentary film about the experience.

Ultimately the best way to escape a camping trip with white people is to say that you have allergies. Since white people and their children are allergic to almost everything, they will understand and ask no further questions. You should not say something like “looking at history, the instances of my people encountering white people in the woods have not worked out very well for us.”

To be fair, I don't own a $1200 kayak, and even before Canadian Tire provided me with new camping essentials, I had camping down to a very inexpensive art. For me, that's only part of the allure. Once I'm out there, with my tent pitched and laptop three hours away, I can literally hear myself decompress. It's plenty of hikes, lots of swimming and hours and hours of playing cards, throwing a frisbee and roasting marshmallows on the campfire.

It really is my holiday of choice, but then again, I'm white.

Camping in Canada

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Colder Than Most People From Toronto

CN TowerCoors Light is running a localized marketing campaign in British Columbia poking fun at Torontonians. The billboard campaign proudly declares the beer is "Colder Than Most People From Toronto."

Here's the ad:

colderthanmostpeoplefromtoronto

I get that the rest of Canada is united in their dislike of Toronto. When that guy was touring the country to create the mediocre documentary Let's All Hate Toronto I wrote:

It's nice to see we evoke so much passion. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. The rest of Canada is anything but indifferent about Toronto, and I see that as a positive thing.

There's just one problem with Coors Light's current campaign. In this age of smart phones and social networking and blogs and Google, can an ad campaign truly stay local? How many Torontonians are going to see this billboard today?

Be careful what you put on that billboard, because it won't just be seen by the local Toronto-haters, and there are a helluva lotta beer drinkers here in the 416.

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Early Notes on the Fusion

carI mentioned I'm taking a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid for a week test drive. I picked it up this morning and drove it around town, and here are some quick initial thoughts.

  • When you turn the ignition, there's complete silence. The only indication you've turned the car on is a little green light. It's going to take some time to get used to that.
  • I love getting satellite radio in the car, Sirius specifically. I listened to Howard Stern interview Quentin Tarantino and quickly remembered how much I love that show.
  • As you conserve, you see leaves growing on your dashboard. It helps make it a game. You want to conserve and make those leaves multiply.
  • Once I found the USB port, an ordeal unto itself, I was quickly reminded how cool that Sync technology is with my iPod. Between the iPod and Sirius, I doubt I'd even listen to terrestrial radio in a car like this.
  • When I'm reversing in the Fusion, the front panel shows me what's behind me. There's a freakin' camera mounted above the rear license plate. There are even beeps and other warnings when someone is approaching or when you're too close to that car/pole/person.
  • It's a sweet ride. I took it on the highway and through city streets and it's been a pleasure. I'm looking forward to this road trip, I'm just sorry I have to give it back.

Hey Ford, whattyasay we let this one stay with Toronto Mike?

P8179082

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CFNY's High Frequency Anti-Mosquito Tone

radioThe camper's enemy is mosquitoes. Luckily for me, I'm protected by CFNY's High Frequency Anti-Mosquito Tone.

You can hear all about CFNY's High Frequency Anti-Mosquito Tone in the ad below. It's making the summer of '85 the best ever.

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Camping With Fresh Roots Gear Provided by Canadian Tire

canadiantireI'm camping this week. Not quite yet, because I want to play a Raging Storm playoff game before leaving town, but the kids and I will be away from it all before you know it. I'm officially in prep mode.

I want to thank the very cool people at Canadian Tire for providing me with a new tent, new sleeping bags, a new chair, a new cooler and a sweet new inflatable air mattress. I can't wait to try out the new gear. It's all from the Roots Outdoor line, except for the cooler. And, it's all an upgrade. I'll report back on how it all worked out.

Let's see...

  • tent √
  • air mattress √
  • propane stove √
  • sleeping bags √
  • cooler full of food and drink
  • insect repellant √
  • sunscreen √
  • bathing suit √
  • radio √
  • camera √
  • toiletries √

Only one item left on the list...

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You Don't Mess with the Zohan Review

Movie ReviewYou Don't Mess with the Zohan: 4 out of 10.

I'm getting tired of mediocre comedies. This Adam Sandler flick might be the mediocre-est of them all.

I want my 113 minutes back.

you-don-t-mess-with-the-zohan-poster-1

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Usain Bolt's 9.58 Reminds me of Ben Johnson's 9.79

goldI heard the 100m final from the World Championship in Germany was taking place at 3:35 this afternoon, but CBC was airing tennis. Then, I remembered this fandangled new invention called the internet.

CBCSports.ca was streaming the final live and I witnessed Usain Bolt shatter his world record with an unbelievable time of 9.58 seconds. 9.58.... wow. I still can't believe it. Here's the video evidence, in German to preserve the authenticity.

No other event at these world championships piqued my interest but I made sure I saw the 100m final live. You could sense the record was going to fall. You knew Bolt could run faster. I think he can run raster, still.

Watching Bolt blow away the opposition reminded me of Ben Johnson's 9.79 in Seoul. 24-hours later, Ben broke our hearts, but for a glorious day in 1988, Ben was without a doubt the fastest man in the world.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, here's Ben's drug-assisted 9.79.

I hope Usain Bolt is clean. I want him to make the world stop at 9.4s.

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I Worked at The Ex in '89, '90 and '91

CNEThe Canadian National Exhibition opens next week. Of the 131 years of The Ex's existence, I worked a game booth across from The Polar Express every day it was open for three of 'em: 1989, 1990 and 1991.

If you want to revisit my many CNE memories, visit my CNE page where I've shared several stories from my very first job.

Here are some of the highlights:

If you read nothing else in my 9202 entry archive, read those CNE entries. Trust me, you'll never look at a carnie the same way again.

I recently discovered some old pictures in a shoe box while cleaning my basement and I've uncovered what is likely the only picture of me working that game booth at The Ex. The lack of Bart Simpson dolls tell me this is likely the summer of 1989.

Pop-A-Ball

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Hancock Review

Movie ReviewHancock: 5.5 out of 10.

For the second flick in a row, I was reminded of Arrested Development. Last time I saw George Michael Bluth and this time I saw Michael Bluth and Rita, together again. And once more, she wasn't who he thought she was...

This is typical summer blockbuster fare. The kids enjoyed it, it didn't suck and I got to look at Charlize Theron. Next on my hit list is a Coen brothers film I somehow missed last fall.

hancock-posterbig-trl

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American Conservatives Don't Seem To Get It

USAI don't know about my fellow Canadians, but I've found a great deal of the rhetoric coming from the United States regarding President Obama's health care reform to be incredibly cringe-worthy. The conservatives and anti-Obama crusaders don't seem to understand our health care model in the least.

Here's one of the many ads currently running on American television urging Americans to "say no to government run health care".

That ad makes me nauseous. It's so full of bullshit, I don't know where to start. As a Canadian, I've been served by our "socialist" health care system all of my life. I assure my American readers, we choose our own doctors. Our doctors recommend appropriate treatments and care based on their expert medical opinion.

When my right leg wouldn't let me run more than 4km, I was immediately able to see a top sports doctor, I had an MRI, a bone scan and x-rays, and that same sports doc was able to review video from an MRI I had in 2003 after tearing my ACL as well as x-rays from the early 80s when I broke my leg. My life wasn't in danger, I just had leg pain, but I still received top notch care with very little wait. Did I mention all of the above was covered by OHIP, our provincial health plan that every Ontarian receives, regardless of age, employment status or income?

I recently wrote about my trip to the hospital with a scratched eye. I was in and out in 35 minutes. When anyone in my family has needed more serious treatment, it's been dealt with appropriately and immediately. There is no government layer between us and our doctor.

The amount of misinformation I see spewing from the conservative right goes far beyond ads. Bill O'Reilly from The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News recently fielded a rather timely question from a Canadian. "Has anyone noted that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?" O'Reilly's response is ridiculous. See for yourself below.

My fear is that viewers will accept O'Reilly's fuzzy math, just as they'll accept Sarah Palin's "Death Panel" comments and the fear mongering that's existed in America since Ronald Reagan spoke out against socialized medicine back in 1961.

I stumbled upon the following image while clicking links earlier this morning, and it seems to illustrate the key difference between the American left and right these days. My only objection, as I observe from north of the border, is that the term "conservatards" isn't fair to the mentally challenged. But, the point is valid.

conservatards

Canada's system may not be perfect, but when compared to the United States we live longer, our infant mortality rate is lower, our per capita expenditure on health care is lower and our % of government revenue spent on health care is lower. Those, my American friends, are facts.

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Summer Songs As Summer Arrives in Toronto

SumIf memory serves me correct, summer usually arrives around these parts in June. This year, it came in August. Better late than never, I suppose.

Here are some songs to help you celebrate the arrival of summer. These are "summer" songs in my collection. That means the word "summer" has to appear in the title. Help me flesh out our summertime playlist with summer songs I've missed by leaving them in the comments.

  • Summer Shudder - AFI
  • Jewel Of The Summertime - Audioslave
  • All Summer Long - Beach Boys
  • Summertime Blues - Blue Cheer
  • This Ain't The Summer Of Love - Blue Oyster Cult
  • Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
  • Summer Rain - Carl Thomas
  • Blood Red Summer - Coheed And Cambria
  • Summer Song - Dave Brubeck
  • Summer Skin - Death Cab For Cutie
  • My Own Summer (Shove It) - Deftones
  • Summer Song - Doughboys
  • Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
  • The Other Side of Summer - Elvis Costello
  • Long Summer Days - EMF
  • Summerlong - Emm Gryner
  • Summerland - Everclear
  • I've Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song) - Fall Out Boy
  • Summer's End - Foo Fighters
  • Summer Wind - Frank Sinatra
  • That Summer - Garth Brooks
  • Indiot Summer - Gin Blossom
  • Summer Smoke - Girl Talk
  • Summer Side Of Life - Gordon Lightfoot
  • Summer - Great Big Sea
  • This Summer - Hayden
  • Summertime - Helen Merrill
  • Summertime in the Void - I Mother Earth
  • My Summer Vacation - Ice Cube
  • Summertime - Janis Joplin
  • Summertime - Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince
  • Summerday Sands - Jethro Tull
  • Long Hot Summer Night - Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Summer Nights - John Travolta & Olivia Newton John
  • All Summer Long - Kid Rock
  • Summerboy - Lady GaGa
  • White Summer/Black Mountain Side - Led Zeppelin
  • Summer Nights - Marianne Faithfull
  • You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) - Meat Loaf
  • Midsummer Night's Dream - Wedding March - Mendelssohn
  • Hot Summer Nights - Miami Sound Machine
  • Summer Cannibals - Patti Smith
  • Summertime Rolls - Perry Farrell
  • Feel Good Hit Of The Summer - Queens of the Stoneage
  • Summer in the City - Regina Spektor
  • Endless Summer Nights - Richard Marx
  • Summertimes Blues - Rush
  • Summertime PT1 - Sam Cooke
  • Summertime - Sarah Harmer and Jason Euringer
  • Summertime - Scarlett Johansson
  • Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts
  • Boombastic/In The Summertime (Sting Remix) - Shaggy
  • Hot Fun In The Summertime - Sly & the Family Stone
  • Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly and the Family Stone
  • Summer Of Drugs - Soul Asylum
  • Swollen Summer - The Bravery
  • Indian Summer - The Doors
  • It's Summertime - The Flaming Lips
  • Breathe In The Summertime - The Kleptones
  • Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful
  • Summer in Siam - The Pogues
  • Every Summer With You - The Simpsons
  • Long Hot Summer - The Style Council
  • Midsummer Day - The Tea Party
  • Summer's Killing Us - The Tragically Hip
  • Summertime Blues - The Who
  • Indian Summer Sky - U2
  • Summer Rain - U2
  • Summer - War

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Grass Thrillin' w/ a Little Bit of Illin'

baseballI'm well aware that only a handful of you actually care about Raging Storm, a slo-pitch team in the competitive division of the RSPA, but this entry is for that handful of Storm-rootin' peeps.

Last night, at Max Ward Park in Etobicoke, we played the defending champions in the first round of the playoffs. It's single knock-out, so if you lose you're done for the season. It's two games, and the cumulative score determines the winner who advances to the next round.

We were out played in game one. A few defensive lapses started to make it look awfully ugly, and when all was said and done, we were down by 7 runs. That meant we had to win game two by 8 or more runs to extend the season.

Let's see... Game Over had just smoked our ass, they're the defending champion and they just have to lose by 6 or less to advance. It looked bad, Michael Jackson bad. We needed a miracle.

Boom goes the dynamite! Raging Storm's defense was perfect in game two. Our bats were on fire. We mercied 'em, winning 16-1 and easily winning the series by +8.

Do you believe in miracles? Yes!

Tools of the Trade

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Ted "Teeder" Kennedy, Dead at 83

In MemoriumTed "Teeder" Kennedy was 83. He won five Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs during a Hall of Fame career in which he scored 231 goals and 329 assists for 560 points in 696 regular-season games, as well as 29 goals and 31 assists for 60 points in 78 playoff games.

Without a doubt, Teeder was one of the best Leafs of all-time.

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The Lights Went Out Six Years Ago Today

rewindOne of the cool things about having a blog that's almost 8 years old is that you can go back and read how things seemed at the time they were happening. For example, six years ago today was The Blackout. Six years ago tomorrow, I wrote all about it.

24 hours and 12 minutes. That's how long the power was off at my humble abode.

Of course, the worst black out in North American history had to strike just when our food supply was at its lowest. Already due for a trip to the grocery store, it was quite the challenge putting together enough sustenance to satisfy a growing 18 month old and his two hungry parents. Barbecued fish sticks anyone? The bright side is we had very little to throw away when the power finally returned at 4:23 this afternoon.

I did learn a valuable lessen throughout this ordeal. I learned that we're entirely too dependent on electricity for our day to day lives. Heck, my phone wouldn't even work because it's a cordless. No air conditioning, no stove, no microwave, no street lights, no gas station, no lights, no refrigerator, no tv and no computer. How did we survive over 24 hours? Gotta jet...The Simpsons is starting.

I remember initial reports after the blackout was pinning the blame on us. In actuality, the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force placed the main cause of the blackout on FirstEnergy Corporation's failure to trim trees in part of its Ohio service area. The report said that a generating plant in Eastlake, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) went offline amid high electrical demand, and that strained high-voltage power lines (located in a distant rural setting), which later went out of service when they came in contact with "overgrown trees". The cascading effect that resulted ultimately forced the shutdown of more than 100 power plants.

Damn overgrown trees.

Toronto_ON_2003_Blackout

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Playoff Night = Healthy Dose of Anticipation & Nervousness

baseballI've got a healthy dose of anticipation and nervousness flowing through my veins today. My comp division slo-pitch team has a couple of playoff games tonight.

You can play the game two nights a week, every summer for years and years, but you don't lose that tingly feeling come playoff time. When I'm not nervous during the comp division playoffs, I'll know something is terribly wrong.

We've had a rough season. We lost more games than we won, including three in a row, rather uncharacteristic for this team I've played with for over a decade. But tonight, it's a clean slate. We have one simple objective.

Just win, baby.

Mr. T

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Do You Own a Piece of the SkyDome Roof?

Blue JaysYouTube 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.

This commemorative piece of the SkyDome roof is certainly something over 2 million visitors wouldn't want to be without. I mean, who wouldn't want to share the dream?

Seriously folks, who the hell bought this crap? Do you own a piece of the SkyDome roof?


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Les Paul, Dead at 94

In MemoriumLes Paul was 94. He helped revolutionize popular music with his innovations on the guitar and in the recording studio. He is credited with developing one of the first solid-body electric guitars, which went on sale in 1952 and contributed to the birth of rock.

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Toronto Safe Injection Sites: A Hamsterdam for the T.Dot

AddictionSix years ago, I wrote about the opening of North America's first legal safe-injection site in Vancouver. Here's what I wrote back then.

Today marked the official opening of North America's first legal safe-injection site at 139 East Hastings St. in Vancouver, B.C. It will be staffed by 16 nurses, four alcohol and drug counsellors and peer counsellors. At the injection site, addicts get clean needles and inject themselves at small booths in a room supervised by a nurse. After shooting up, they go to a "chill-out room" before returning to the streets. Up to 800 people are expected to use the facility each day.

Already upset over Ottawa's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, this facility has been criticized by U.S. officials who say it is an example of Canada becoming lax in the battle against illegal drugs. Once again, the needle's point has been missed.

Those addicted to heroin are sufferers of a debilitating disease. Many will overdose and die. Up to 40 percent of these addicts have HIV or AIDS and 90 percent have hepatitis C. Allowing people to inject in a clean place and with ready access to medical help will reduce the spread of these diseases and dramatically reduce accidental overdose deaths. This isn't about legalizing heroin and crack, this is about saving lives. "It is not I who become addicted, it is my body." - Jean Cocteau

The Star is reporting that a group of researchers are quietly studying whether Toronto and Ottawa would benefit from similar facilities.

"This is not a study to see how to establish a site. This is a study to look at whether it makes sense to have a site or not, whether there should be one site or multiple sites or no sites, and whether the sites, if there should be any, should be fixed or mobile. We will be answering those types of questions," said Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, a co-principal investigator of the study and scientist at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael's Hospital.

The feasibility study, dubbed the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment (TOSCA), was requested by the city. It stems from a recommendation in the Toronto Drug Strategy, which was approved by Toronto council in December 2005.

I feel the same way today as I did six years ago, only more so. That's because I've since seen Hamsterdam. Hamsterdam, in The Wire, is the name of a few uninhibited city blocks in Baltimore in which Howard "Bunny" Colvin essentially legalized the illegal drug trade. There was reduced street crime, city-wide, and increased outreach of health and social services to at-risk populations. It was glorious, until it was discovered and Hamsterdam was quickly dismantled.

Here's a great summary of Hamsterdam.

Call me a left wing nutjob if you will, but drug abusers are sufferers of a debilitating disease and will use regardless. Wouldn't it be civilized to provide them with a safe haven for injection where we can ensure they're safe, not spreading disease and aware of alternative programs?

A city that does so for the least among us is a city I would be proud to call my own.

Discuss "Toronto Safe Injection Sites: A Hamsterdam for the T.Dot" (31 comments so far)


CFNY's Catch Us If You Can Contest and No Repeat Workdays

radioIn the Globe's Ballad of Martin Streek, Program Director Ross Winters claimed CFNY's limit for song repetition was now 7 times in 24 hours. I actually believe that limit to be much higher. In January, during one 12-hour random spot check, a song had already been played 6 times.

CFNY used to be known for its wide playlist and rarely playing the same track in the same day. In fact, I've got the old station promos to prove it.

Here's their "Catch Us If You Can" contest that promises $102 to anyone who catches CFNY playing the same song twice in one day.

Here's a promo for CFNY's No-Repeat Workday. Dan Duran will tell you that you could win $5000 if you catch them playing any song twice between 9 and 5.

Things are rather different at 102.1 these days. I repeat, things are rather different at 102.1 these days.

Discuss "CFNY's Catch Us If You Can Contest and No Repeat Workdays" (35 comments so far)


Billy Bragg - A New England

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.

Billy Bragg - A New England
Most people know "A New England" as a Kirsty MacColl song, but that version is actually a cover of this Billy Bragg original.

Courageously, Bragg has admitted he stole the melody from Thin Lizzy.

Discuss "Billy Bragg - A New England" (5 comments so far)


Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Reviewed

Movie ReviewNick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: 6 out of 10.

I love this Michael Cera kid. "The Berenstain Bears", "Arrested Development", "Superbad", "Juno" and the guy's from Brampton. His presence alone gets this flick an extra point or two.

The soundtrack is better than the movie, although the movie doesn't suck. I guess I thought it would be better. Then again, I doubt this movie was made for 35-year old dudes like me.

But Michael Cera... I cannot wait until Arrested Development: The Movie.

nickandnorah-poster1

Discuss "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Reviewed" (22 comments so far)


Toronto Zoo Ad Reminds Me Of Nikolai Volkoff

zoo adThere's an ad airing these days for Sharks at Stingray Bay at the Toronto Zoo. The ad features Russian submariners and concludes with the national anthem of the Soviet Union. Here's the ad, if you haven't seen it.

One note of that Soviet Union anthem and I'm a kid again watching WWF wrestling. In the mid-80s, Nikolai Volkoff, often teamed with The Iron Sheik, was a popular heel, a wrestler you loved to hate, and during a time when the Russians were the "evil empire", Volkoff would always open his matches by singing the Soviet Union national anthem. It was great theatre.

Here's footage of Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirschner in a Peace Match. That was quite the feud back in the day. You can see Volkoff singing the Soviet national anthem at the 2:34 mark. I love how disgusted future governor Jesse Ventura seemed when Kirschner so rudely interrupted.

I thought it in 1986 and I still think it now: Corporal Kirschner folded like a cheap suit.

Discuss "Toronto Zoo Ad Reminds Me Of Nikolai Volkoff" (10 comments so far)


21 Thunder and Lightning Songs

lightningI've heard there's yet another thunderstorm warning for the GTA. This time, we get something extra special with our thunderstorm. They're calling for a tornado.

Beware the funnel clouds, kids. And while you're hankering down in your cellar, play these "thunder" and "lightning" tunes I culled from my collection. If I missed any, add them in the comments.

  • AC/DC - Thunderstruck
  • Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder
  • Cypress Hill - Lightning Strikes
  • Eddie Beram - Riot In Thunder Alley
  • Garth Brooks - Thunder Rolls
  • Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightning
  • Jedi Mind Tricks - Through Blood by Thunder
  • John Mellencamp - Thundering Hearts
  • John Travolta - Greased Lightning
  • Leo Sayer - Thunder In My Heart
  • Live - Lightning Crashes
  • Marc Cohn - Silver Thunderbird
  • Oasis - The Shock Of The Lightning
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Thunder Underground
  • Sam Roberts - An American Draft Dodger In Thunder Bay
  • Sprung Monkey - Thunderstruck
  • The Flaming Lips - Lightning Strikes The Postman
  • The Offspring - Lightning Rod
  • Weeping Tile - Dogs and Thunder
  • White Zombie - Thunder Kiss '65

Discuss "21 Thunder and Lightning Songs" (28 comments so far)


2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Test Drive

carLast year Ford gave me a Ford Focus for a week and I took it all the way to Meaford. Next week they're giving me a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid to scoot around in and I'm planning to drive it to Pinery for a little camping.

I don't know much about the Fusion, but I'm told it's an eco-friendly alternative. It's got this feature called SmartGauge with EcoGuide which "gives hybrid owners a more-connected, fuel-efficient driving experience by coaching them on how to optimize performance of the 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid."

Here's the PR slant on SmartGauge:

SmartGauge with EcoGuide’s unique design uses two, high-resolution, full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) screens on either side of the analog speedometer that can be configured to show different levels of information, including fuel and battery power levels, average and instant litres/100 km. Growing leaves and vines track and reward the driver’s efficiency.

What have you guys heard about the Ford Fusion?

Discuss "2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Test Drive" (7 comments so far)


Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Dead at 88

In MemoriumEunice Kennedy Shriver was 88. She was the sister of President Kennedy and a champion of the disabled who founded the Special Olympics.

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The Best Thunder and Lightning Storm I Can Remember

bolt24-hours after the best thunder and lightning storm I can remember, I'm ready to write about it. I did tweet it in real-time, but a storm like that is worthy of a proper entry.

Two things struck me about last night's storm. Firstly, you couldn't count to three without a flash of lightning lighting up the sky. The thunder and lightning came fast and furiously and every bolt seemed to be striking directly above. Secondly, it lasted over an hour. When you combine the frequency of the strikes and the time span of the storm you have the very best thunder and lightning storm of my life.

Here's a YouTube video of the storm I just spotted on blogTO. If you were out of town, here's what you missed.


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Alex Rios Traded to White Sox For Absolutely Nothing

bluejaysThe title of this entry is misleading. Alex Rios wasn't traded to the Chicago White Sox today. Rios went to the White Sox in a straight waiver claim, with the Blue Jays simply allowing Chicago to take his contract, without getting a player in return.

I had very high hopes for Rios. Admittedly, he's having an off year, but he is hitting .264 with 14 home runs, 62 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. Is that so bad for the 28-year old that J.P. Ricciardi couldn't get a single team to cough up anything for him?

There's something rotten in the State of Denmark. Rios should be a tradeable commodity. Meanwhile, Ricciardi was shopping Roy Halladay because he doesn't think our ace will resign here, and Paul Beeston is on 590 saying he thinks we can lock up Halladay and extend his contract. WTF?

Let's go back to mid-May when we were singing "World Series, Here We Come". Go on and click through, I'll wait. Back? Good. Now tell me what the hell happened?

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My Call From Strombo

phoneLast night, I wrote about George Stroumboulopoulos' "new, independent FM". Earlier today, I had a direct message from Strombo on Twitter. He wanted a phone number he could reach me at.

I gave him my Blackberry number and went about my afternoon, which primarily consisted of picking up my son and taking him to his soccer match. On my way home, I heard Tom Cheek ordering Joe Carter to "touch 'em all". I had a phone call.

"Mike, it's George Stroumboulopoulos."

George had called to discuss his independent FM, but we ended up talking about a great deal more. We chatted about our mutual admiration for Humble and Fred, what CFNY meant to him, his love of radio, Martin Streek, and other things I won't write about here. He came across as a genuinely sweet guy and the convo was effortless.

With regards to The Strombo Show, he told me he pulled it from the Corus lineup. He said his schedule was too hectic so he pulled the plug.

As for independent FM, he emphasized that it's just a kernel of an idea at this point, and it's not yet a podcast, satellite or terrestrial radio show. Strombo is passionate about radio and definitely wants to continue his show, but he's not yet sure about the format or where it will happen. It is important to him, however, that he's able to play what he wants.

There's clearly a spirit to George's independent FM that sounds familiar. He promised to let me know when it's more than just an idea and I promised to promote it best I can.

I dig it when personalities I know from radio and/or television actually turn out to be good people. Thanks for the call, George.

Discuss "My Call From Strombo" (21 comments so far)


Communication for Non-Verbal People, Help for Autistic and Stroke Victims

Communication for Non-Verbal People,My mom, having taught for 39 years and having just retired from teaching developmentally disabled students, has become proficient in the area of communication for non-verbal people. Through a series of communication pictures used through a program called Boardmaker, adults and children alike who are non-verbal, either from developmental difficulties or as a result of a stroke, benefit from making their needs known through this program.

Through pictures it has been proven that those who are frustrated with not being able to communicate can now have access to a board that allows them to pick pictures and make needs and desires known. Expressions of appreciation and feelings can also be displayed. With this program, stress is decreased for the patient as well as the caregiver.

A schedule is made, not only to meet the needs of the caregiver, but also to give the Autistic and stroke victims who cannot express themselves knowledge of how the day will unfold. Through a page with three pictures, the person who will be using boardmaker can let the non-verbal understand how the day will unfold communicating through pictures. With autism, preparation for what is to happen lessons the anxiety, and for adults who were stroke victims who once were independent, it allows them more freedom and understanding/control of the day ahead.

It is my mom's desire to help families caring for a non-verbal Autistic person or stroke victim. She wants to be able to teach families how to communicate with the stroke patient or developmentally disabled child/adult. Although rehab may help restore communication in time, for certain patients this program helps relieve frustration in the short term. For others who may never have verbal skills, it allows for more control over their lives, especially as the young mature.

If you're interested in my mom's help, contact me and I'll pass on your email address.

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Pete and Geets Audio From the Spirit of Radio

radioDavid Haydu a.k.a. Geets Romo and Pete Griffin were the Pete and Geets morning show on CFNY from 1982-1987. I must confess, I was a little young for Pete and Geets, preferring to listen to Tom Rivers and the Rivers Air Force on CFTR, but I've heard great things about Pete and Geets.

Because I now have the Spirit Reunion CD, I have a tonne of great audio to share with fans of the old CFNY. Let's start with a clip from the Pete and Geets show.

It's a great bit about the old CFNY "One of the world's two great radio stations" promo. Have a listen.

Discuss "Pete and Geets Audio From the Spirit of Radio" (8 comments so far)


A New, Independent FM for Strombo

RadioStrombo has dropped a clue as to the future of his radio show now that he's parting ways with Corus. He just posted a teaser on his blog.

strombo

George Stroumboulopoulos is talking about "a new, independent FM". That's the change coming this fall, referenced in his Facebook message on The Strombo Show page.

Hi, Hope your summer is going well... The Strombo Show will be on vacation for the remainder of the summer, with some changes in the works for the fall. But, don't go too far because some really cool things are coming down the pipe. I'll update you as soon as I can :) Thanks, as always. George

Does anyone have a guess as to what this new, independent FM will be? Is it web streaming? A new satellite radio show? A CBC radio show? A podcast?

Discuss "A New, Independent FM for Strombo" (7 comments so far)


15 People You Should Follow On Twitter

twitterIt seems whenever I write about Twitter I'm inundated with negative comments. Clearly, most of you don't share my enthusiasm for Twitter, and that's cool. But, as promised in this comment, I will share my 15 favourite people to follow on Twitter so if you want to give Twitter a spin, you have a good starting point.

@scroll - This guy crams more interesting observations and insight into 140 characters than just about anybody. If you're like me, and enjoy watching the local Toronto media, this is your guy. His battles with the Globe tweeters are legendary.

@mathewi - Speaking of Globe tweeters, this guys is the Communities Editor of the Globe and Mail and a prolific tweeter. Following him is wise as he's got his ear to the ground and will RT the good stuff from those you're not following.

@HumHow - I once wrote that local radio personality Humble Howard was a lousy blogger but a good tweeter. It's still true. His tweets are pretty damn funny and a welcome diversion from all the heavy lifting you do in a typical business day.

@rainnwilson - Of all the celebrity bloggers, Rainn Wilson is the one who gets it best. Funny and insightful, you don't have to be a fan of The Office to follow him, but it helps.

@petermansbridg - He doesn't tweet often, but Peter Mansbridge is another who seems to get Twitter. He's refreshingly honest and revealing in his tweets, despite anchoring our national news. Chopping off the trailing "e" really messed with the plans of whoever is squatting on that Twitter acocunt.

@AntoniaZ - Antonia Zerbisia is a long-time columnist at the Toronto Star and an outspoken tweeter. She's actually been reprimanded by her employer for some of her tweets, and that just makes her more fun to follow.

@DownGoesBrown - I used to love following the fake Brian Burke on Twitter, but when DGB aborted the satire, I discovered you can get your humourous hockey fill by following DGB directly.

@strombo - Strombo's a cool dude, and that comes across in his tweets. Did you know he saw Inglourious Basterds last night and loved it? I do!

@geoperdis - Completely via tweets, I got Geo to attend the Humble and Fred 20th Anniversary Podcast of Memories and give us a second camera angle. You can see plenty of his footage in the video. But that's not why he's on this list, he's here for challenging the MSM and offering good Toronto-centric insight in 140 characters or less.

@THE_REAL_SHAQ - There's no doubt Shaq writes his own tweets. By removing a middle layer, athletes are able to communicate directly with fans in real-time. It's pretty awesome, and Shaq shows you why. Another big NBA tweeter is our very own @chrisbosh.

@mayormiller - Love him or hate him, Toronto's mayor shares on Twitter. He was pretty quiet during the recent city workers strike, but he's easing back into it. Torontonians should be following him.

@stevenpage - Formerly of BNL, Steven Page and I exchanged tweets about the passing of Martin Streek. Again, it's this kind of accessibility that makes Twitter work.

@mrseancullen - @HumHow's Twitter mentor is most definitely Sean Cullen. His tweets are absurd, and very funny. A great break from CNN Breaking News and PR propaganda.

@DarrenDreger - I just learnt Justin Pogge is being traded to the Ducks tomorrow because @DarrenDreger from TSN tweeted it. I've noticed I'm getting most of my news first via Twitter, not RSS or radio or newspapers or websites or blogs. It comes through my TwitterFox first.

@torontomike - I'm on Twitter as well, and if you're not following me, there's something wrong with you. Follow me at @torontomike. Go ahead... I'll wait.

Share with us those on Twitter we should be following in the comments below. Thanks!

Discuss "15 People You Should Follow On Twitter" (19 comments so far)


Pogge Traded to Ducks, My Son Shares His Thoughts

LeafsTSN is reporting that Justin Pogge is being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. The Leafs will get a conditional late round draft pick that can improve based on Pogge's play.

This concludes the Justin Pogge rollercoaster ride. I was sure Justin Pogge was on his way out and that suspicion was confirmed by a Sportsnet report confirming the Justin Pogge era had indeed come to an end here in Toronto. But then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it seemed Pogge was saved from the chopping block. Now, he's gone.

My son sat beside me throughout most of the last Marlies season as we watched Justin Pogge from the first row. He was easy to like and easy to root for. I just conducted a brief interview with my son after telling him Pogge was off to Anaheim. Here's the transcript.

Me: How do you feel about Justin Pogge being traded to the Anaheim Ducks?

Son: I don't like it.

Me: Why don't you like it?

Son: Because, I like Justin Pogge.

Me: What did you like about Justin Pogge?

Son: He was a good goalie. Well... mostly.

James hit it on the head. Pogge was good, not great... and he was inconsistent at that. That's some solid insight. To replace Pogge, the Leafs will sign free agent goaltender Joey MacDonald who I will henceforth only refer to as Joey Mac.

Farewell, Pogge. My son and I wish you much luck on the west coast and hope you make us regret this fateful day.

Me with Justin Pogge

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Fearless Fred On His Way to Edge 102

radioBack in May, when CFNY / Edge 102 showed Martin Streek and Barry Taylor the door, I reported that Fearless Fred from The Bear in Edmonton had been hired as a replacement.

The Twittersphere has exploded the past 24 hours with news Fearless Fred has aired his last show on The Bear and is now on his way to the centre of the universe.

fearless fred

I kid, of course. About the explosion of Fearless Fred chatter in the Twittersphere, not about him leaving his Edmonton gig for a spot at CFNY / Edge 102. Three tweets does not a trending topic make.

There's still no official announcement from CFNY / Edge 102 that Fearless Fred is on his way or where he'll appear in the lineup. My hunch is they'll move Bookie and put Fearless Fred in the afternoon drive spot. Fearless Fred is far more Dean Blundell Show-ish than Bookie and more in line with the kind of radio Program Director Ross Winters seems to crave for this Corus-owned station.

How many final nails in the coffin does one station get?

Discuss "Fearless Fred On His Way to Edge 102" (66 comments so far)


The Best Single of the Decade: Arcade Fire's Wake Up

musicLast week, I posted my 200 favourite songs of the decade, thus far. Today, I'm going to reveal my favourite song of the decade. That would be Arcade Fire's Wake Up from their excellent Funeral album.

I first shared this song back in August 2005, calling it "my favourite cut on the disc" while promising it would "blow your mind". Admit it, I was right. I would later crown it my favourite song of 2005.

Today I crown it my favourite song of the decade. Here it is used masterfully in the new high def trailer for Where the Wild Things Are.

Discuss "The Best Single of the Decade: Arcade Fire's Wake Up" (16 comments so far)


Mike Seeger, Dead at 75

In MemoriumMike Seeger was 75. He was a leading figure in the 20th century resurgence of American traditional music and a noted field collector of rural southern music.

You might know his brother Pete. Here's Mike Seeger performing "Walking Boss" in the Smithsonian Folkways Studio.

Discuss "Mike Seeger, Dead at 75" (3 comments so far)


Pearl Jam - The Fixer

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS22 consideration. I'm submitting "The Fixer" by Pearl Jam.

This catchy mofo from one of my favourite bands is a shoe-in for SLS, but I've got more pressing PJ issues to iron out.

As documented on my Pearl Jam in Toronto page, I've caught a Pearl Jam show the last 6 times they've come through town. And yes, I'm counting the '98 show in Barrie as a local performance. That means I haven't missed a Toronto Pearl Jam gig since September '96.

I didn't buy a ticket for the upcoming show at the Amphitheatre, as I had a hook-up. When Yoda chose John Mellancamp over Eddie, a second hook-up materialized and I was set. Now, it's looking like that one will fall through as well.

Is there a third hook-up possibility out there?

Discuss "Pearl Jam - The Fixer" (4 comments so far)


The Spirit Reunion 2003 CD

radioSteve Macaulay was nice enough to send me a Spirit Reunion 2003 souvenir CD. This thing is awesome. It's 46 stellar clips from CFNY 102.1 that aired between 1977 and 1989. I promise to share some very soon.

In the words of Don Berns:

The audio tracks on this CD are meant as a time capsule of the Spirit of Radio as it was heard during the period of 1977 - '89. I have attempted to give full representation of that era and the special nature of CFNY. However, reducing thousands of hours of entertaining radio to a fleeting few minutes has been a difficult task. Many of my choices of program segments are included because the air talents are talking about signposts from that era: classic radio station promotions, artists, events and of course the music that defined our lives. I only wish we could have included all the magnificent radio performances that defined the Spirit. The personalities who are not represented on this CD are omitted simply because I wasn't able to obtain tapes of their programs. Many of the shows that are represented can be heard extensively at www.spiritofradio.ca, without whose co-operation and enthusiasm this CD would not be possible.

And, in David Marsden's own words:

1977 - '89 seemed like a wonderful radio roller coaster ride. During those eleven years we put together one of the greatest radio teams in history. While those on the air are most often the names so often repeated, we all must celebrate those who worked behind the scenes. The team it took to put it all together was large and every person contributed a particular discipline to the entertainment that came out of your radio. Too numerous to mention in this small space, each name deserves a standing ovation.

Here's the cover. I will share some of this awesome audio over the coming weeks.

P8079080

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Share Pictures via Twitter with Flickr

flickrWhen you've got your mobile smart phone and you want to share a picture via Twitter, there's always been a few options. You can use Twitpic or TweetPhoto or Twitgoo, but if you're like me, you want to use the photo sharing service you're already using. For me, that's Flickr.

Flickr now makes it easy to Twitter your Flickr photos. I set it up last week and tweeted this pic from my walk to James Gardens last weekend and this pic of my recent Scrabble domination. It just works, and if you're a Flickr user and a Twitter user, it makes sense you set it up and give it a whirl.

Setting it up is easy. Choose Twitter from the Flickr add a blog page and follow the steps to authorize posting to Twitter. Then, save the address in your mobile device.

flickr1

Flickr remains the only web service I actually pay for. Their new Flickr2Twitter integration just makes a great service better.

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My Gift to Fellow Jays Fans As We Look Back: Blue Jays Ring Tone

Blue JaysI wanted to do something for fellow Blue Jays fans this weekend. Members of the 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays World Series championship teams have gathered here in Toronto this weekend for a reunion, and every media outlet in the city is looking back. I wanted to do more than look back, I wanted to give back.

My current Blackberry ring-tone is Tom Cheek telling Joe Carter to touch 'em all. I'm hosting the MP3 of this ring-tone and you can download it here.

Trust me, nothing will put a smile on your face faster than that call. Best. Ring-tone. Ever.

If you're hankering for other vintage Blue Jay audio during this reunion weekend, head over to http://www.torontomike.com/blue_jays_songs/ and knock yourself out. All your favourites are there, including this one.

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Buffalo Hookers Come to Ontario, Do They Return?

Buffalo HookersYouTube 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.

Remember back in '85 when all those Buffalo hookers flooded our streets? Western New York cracked down on prostitution and Buffalo prostitutes spilled into Ontario.

The question asked, while ZZ Top's Tush blared in the background, was whether the Buffalo hookers would return to Buffalo. Luckily for us, they never did.

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John Hughes, Dead at 59

In MemoriumJohn Hughes was 59. He was the director of iconic coming-of-age movies "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

If you're around my age, you really did come of age watching his flicks. Seriously, he was the guy in the 1980s. Here are my favourite John Hughes films, in order.

  1. The Breakfast Club
  2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  3. Uncle Buck
  4. Sixteen Candles
  5. Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Here's a great scene from Uncle Buck featuring our very own John Candy.

And here's the trailer for the movie that defined a generation. No foolin', I'm still trying to grow my hair like Judd Nelson in this thing.

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Marco Scutaro Gets on Base

bluejaysThe B-R Blog has a list of the most games this year a player got on base at least once.

Some guy named Albert Pujols leads the list, with 98 games. Then there's Son of Big Daddy, Prince Fielder, who has reached base in 94 games. Rounding out the top six are Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Dunn, Mark Teixeira and, shockingly, Ichiro Suzuki. Guess who's #7?

Marco Scutaro a.k.a. Scooter has reached base in 91 games this year.

Scutaro has been a pretty decent middle infielder for several years now. He doesn’t put up huge offensive numbers but his OPS+ has been consistently right around 90. This year, it’s way up to 118 and he’s already set career highs for walks and SB. In just a few more games, he’s very likely to set career highs in runs, 2B, and total bases. Unless he runs into a big slump, he’ll finish the year with career highs in BA, OBP, and SLG.

Scutaro hasn’t really flown under the radar thanks to a whole bunch of game-winning plate appearances. Can you believe that Scutaro has already been responsible for NINE walk-off wins? That’s more than most players get in their entire careers, much less below-average middle infielders. Those walk-off winners include homers off closers B. J. Ryan in 2004 and Mariano Rivera in 2007.

Best below-average middle infielder ever!

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My Kenyan Birth Certificate

vaultMy Kenyan birth certificate has been discovered. Those damn Birthers wouldn't rest until they proved Toronto Mike was actually born in Kenya.

birth

Make your own Kenyan birth certificate here.

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Coke vs. Pepsi: Logo Wars Take 2

coke vs. pepsiRemember when I shared that comparison chart of the Coke and Pepsi logos? Brand New says I got it all wrong.

They've revised it. It would be inappropriate of me not to post Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Revised Edition.

coke_pepsi_chart_revised

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Bad Brains - Pay To Cum!

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.

Bad Brains - Pay To Cum!
I couple of years ago I watched a documentary entitled American Hardcore that featured a great deal of Bad Brains.

If you're going to sample Bad Brains, start with "Pay To Cum!".

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Why I'm Still Digging Twitter

twitter@scroll just directed me to a CHART OF THE DAY that shows Twitter's growth by age group and helps explain why I'm still digging Twitter.

twitter

No kids allowed. Adults are talking.

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Timelapse Video of Toronto's City Workers' Strike

videoI found a great timelapse video of our city workers' strike on Torontoist.

On the second full day of the city workers' strike—June 23—Torontoist photographer Christopher Drost set up a camera rig in a window at the corner of Runnymede and Annette streets. Set to shoot one photo every ten minutes (and one every two minutes once the deals to end the strike were in place), the camera looked out towards the street and over two waste bins, one on the south and one on the north side of the street, snapping shots all day and all night for the whole rest of the strike.

I didn't know this camera was there, but I know I walked right by it a few times during the strike. Speaking of the strike, after slo-pitch tonight I'll be putting my extra large bin and several garbage bags full of recycling to the curb. I was ready to go another month or two, but it's still nice to actually have some of these services we pay for.

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Kerry Fraser to Face the Music

nhlOn his blog, Chris Zelkovich tells me former referee Kerry Fraser will be on 640 Toronto's Leafs Lunch tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. Yes, he'll be fielding calls from Leafs fans and I'll bet you can guess what 100% of those calls will be regarding.

Here's Fraser's infamous non-call.

You'd think watching that would hurt less and less as the years go by, but it actually hurts more today than ever. Let him have it, guys and gals.

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Pineapple Express

Movie ReviewPineapple Express: 6 out of 10.

Maybe I've had a little too much Seth Rogen lately. Although parts of this movie are kind of funny, as a whole it's really best watched while stoned.

I, unfortunately, was stone sober when I watched this last night. That made chunks of this thing pretty boring. Still, the filmmakers should be proud. This is the first marijuana-themed comedy to gross over $100 million worldwide.

PineappleExpress

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Martin Streek CFNY 102.1 The Edge Tribute MP3s

radioFollowing his death, Martin Streek's official site, MartinStreek.com, was chillingly frozen in time. It alluded to his current DJ gig of 25 years, a gig he lost two months before his death. It was a painful visit.

MartinStreek.com has finally been updated and is actually hosting the 3-hour tribute to Streek that aired on CFNY / Edge 102.1. That's the tribute that led to this collection of thoughts. Download the three MP3s below and throw them on the iPod.

» CFNY / Edge 102.1 Martin Streek Tribute Hour 1
» CFNY / Edge 102.1 Martin Streek Tribute Hour 2
» CFNY / Edge 102.1 Martin Streek Tribute Hour 3

Remember, you can still download all five hours of David Marsden's tribute to Martin Streek that aired on 94.9 The Rock.

Thanks to whomever cracked the code and finally updated MartinStreek.com.

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Radio Raheem Has Nothing On My Daughter

ipodFor her 5th birthday, my daughter got an iPod Shuffle loaded with her favourite songs. She loves music, is always singing, and I knew she was ready for her own personal listening device.

I still remember my first Walkman. It didn't come fully loaded with my favourite tunes, nor could my parents cap the volume to prevent me from blowing out my eardrums... That's right, with an iPod, it's easy to lower your kid's volume ceiling.

michelle's ipod

So far, Michelle's rarely been seen without her iPod. She loves it and has even figured out how to play it aloud on the family docking station. Here's a glance at part of her playlist.

michelle2

I wonder if she'd like Duran Duran's Rio as much as I did?

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Gran Torino

Movie ReviewGran Torino: 8 out of 10.

They say most artists hit their creative peak in their 20s and 30s. Clint Eastwood would disagree. This man didn't hit his creative stride until sixty and he's still directing excellent films at the age of 79.

Think about it. Since Clint turned 70 he's directed Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Changeling and Gran Torino. Francis Ford Coppola is 9 years younger and he hasn't done anything decent since 1992.

Gran Torino reminded me a little of Pixar's Up and Falling Down, not as good as the first but better than the latter. It's a solid film you oughta see... or Walt Kowalski will kick your ass!

gran-torino

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July 2009 Organic Keywords

Search Strings According to Google Analytics, here are the top ten keywords that brought people to this site in July 2009.

  1. martin streek
  2. martin streak
  3. martin streek dead
  4. toronto mike
  5. "martin streek"
  6. barry taylor
  7. norm rumack
  8. martin streek death
  9. martin streek fired
  10. sandra rinomato breasts

For all the wrong reasons, Google searches for Martin Streek dominated the inbound traffic in July. That first keyword alone sent 40,000 unique visitors to this blog.

This blog had more visitors in July 2009 than in any previous month during its seven year history. The previous high was set in January 2009.

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Horse Head Warning

Horse HeadI awoke to find a horse head in my bed.

I now know how Jack Woltz felt.

Horse Head

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Dan Duran Returns to Radio on CHFI

RadioAs seen on Canadian Thinker, former Humble and Fred producer and all around good guy Dan Duran is returning to Toronto radio as a swing announcer starting later this month. Dan Duran will be heard Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings from seven till midnight, then again from noon till six on the weekend.

I'm happy for Dan, not just as a fan of the Humble and Fred show and not just because my son and his son are good buds, but because when I was camping that rainy weekend in May it was Dan who ensured I awoke to fresh coffee brewing. He also makes a mean bonfire. He's just generally handy to have around, and the neighbourhood has been suffering since he left at the end of June. Seriously, there's literally been a foul stench in the air all summer as a result of his absence.

We've now got Humble at EZ Rock and Dan Duran at CHFI. Is there another local chick station for Freddie?

Here's a pic of Dan and I and a few other vagrants we fed that day. Dan's the tall guy in the back. If you want to hear Humble and Fred podcasts we released into the wild, get on over to http://www.torontomike.com/humbleandfred/.

The Gang

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How to Pimp Out "It Was A Good Day" to Nike

CDIn my review for Are We There Yet?, I threw some vintage Ice Cube lyrics right back at him. In the early 90s, I was a big fan of the man's rap stylings, enjoying AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Death Certificate and Predator. Cube was rapping about not having to sell out after his NWA success, and subsequently sold out.

There's a great Nike ad going viral these days. The ad is below, and I really like it. It's set to Ice Cube's classic and personal favourite "It Was a Good Day", the best song on his Predator album. Check this out.

How do you take a song about a typical day in South Central Los Angeles, complete with sex, drugs and a now defunct basketball team and use it to sell shoes to mainstream America? It's easy, if you follow these simple rules.

1. Delete all references to sex
You won't hear these lyrics in the ad above. "Finally got a call from a girl wanna dig out. Hooked it up on later as I hit the do." or "I got a beep from Kim and she can fuck all night." You just take those lines out completely. In fact, you know that verse near the end that's all about gettin' some? Kill it. Kill it dead. You may have been trying to score with her since the twelth grade, and she may not hesitate to call you the "top gun", but that shit's gotta go.

2. Lose the word "niggaz"
This is important. Every time the word "niggaz" is heard in the song, replace it with "bruthaz" or "homiez".

3. Cut out the drugs and booze talk
Say goodbye to such memorable lines as "I had the brew she had the chronic", "took another sip of the potion hit the three-wheel motion" and "drunk as hell but no throwing up". We're selling shoes here, not marijuana and malt liquor.

4. Make the murder disappear
The objective is to make "It Was A Good Day" a feel good summer song, and murder references are a big bummer. Kill that part that goes "Today was like one of those fly dreams, Didn't even see a berry flashing those high beams, No helicopter looking for a murder." The worst crime in this ad is skateboarding on public property.

5. Lose the irony, lose the point
This song was supposed to be ironic. At the end Cube wakes up and says "Hey wait, wait a minute fool, Stop the shit, What the fuck am I thinking about?" The beauty was the cool vibe and chilled out perspective in South Central on a rare "good day" amidst the violent and oppressive norms.

Nike wanted the song, without the irony. Ice Cube was more than happy to comply.

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Top 200 Songs of the Millennium (so far)

musicCQ reminded me yesterday morning that they're airing the Top 200 songs of the millennium on 102.1 this long weekend. She (or is CQ a he?) He decided to throw down her (or his?) his top 200 songs released from 2000 to the present day.

Not to be outdone, here are my favourite 200 songs from this millennium. I didn't have enough time to put them in order, so they're alphabetized.

Artist Song
311 I'll Be Here Awhile
AlexisOnFire This Could Be Anywhere In The World
Andrews, Michael feat. Jules, Gary Mad World
Arcade Fire Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Arcade Fire Wake Up
Arcade Fire Keep The Car Running
Arctic Monkeys I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Arctic Monkeys Fake Tales Of San Francisco
Arkells Oh, The Boss is Coming!
Audioslave Chochise
Audioslave Show Me How To Live
Audioslave Doesn't Remind Me
Auf der Maur Followed The Waves
Band of Horses Is There A Ghost
Band of Horses Funeral
Beastie Boys Ch-Check It Out
Bedouin Soundclash St. Andrews
Billy Talent Try Honesty
Billy Talent The Ex
Billy Talent The River Below
Billy Talent Nothing To Lose
Billy Talent Fallen Leaves
Billy Talent Rusted From The Rain
Black Keys, The Strange Times
Bloc Party Banquet
Box Car Racer I Feel So
Brand New Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
Bravery, The Believe
Broken Social Scene Cause=Time
Broken Social Scene 7/4 (Shoreline)
Cage the Elephant Ain't No Rest For The Wicked
Canning, Brendan Churches Under the Stairs
Cash, Johnny Hurt
City and Colour Comin' Home
City and Colour Sleeping Sickness
Coldplay Don't Panic
Coldplay Yellow
Cornell, Chris Billy Jean
Custom Hey Mister
Cypress Hill Rock Superstar
Dears, The Lost In The Plot
Death Cab For Cutie Soul Meets Body
Death Cab For Cutie Crooked Teeth
Death Cab For Cutie I Will Possess Your Heart
Death From Above 1979 Romantic Rights
Distillers, The Drain the Blood
Disturbed Down With The Sickness
Disturbed Liberate
Doctor What Makes You Think He's Lucky?
Drew, Kevin Backed Out On The...
Elliott Brood The Bridge
Eminem Lose Yourself
Everlast Black Jesus
Finger Eleven First Time
Flaming Lips, The Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber)
Flatliners, The This Respirator
Foo Fighters All My Life
Foo Fighters Times Like These (Acoustic)
Foo Fighters Best Of You
Franz Ferdinand Take Me Out
Franz Ferdinand This Fire
Franz Ferdinand Do You Wanna
Franz Ferdinand Ulysses
Fratellis, The Flathead
Fratellis, The Chelsea Dagger
Gnarls Barkley Crazy
Goldfinger Open Your Eyes
Good, Matthew Oh Be Joyful
Gorillaz Dare
Green Day Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Green Day Jesus Of Suburbia
Green Day 21 Guns
Gorillaz Clint Eastwood
Hives, The I Hate To Say I Told You So
Hoobastank Crawling in the Dark
Hot Action Cop Fever For The Flava
Hot Hot Heat Bandages
Hot Hot Heat Goodnight, Goodnight
I Mother Earth Like The Sun
IllScarlett Heaters
IllScarlett Nothing Special
Incubus Megalomaniac
Interpol The Heinrich Maneuver
Jet Are You Gonna Be My Girl?
Jimmy Eat World Sweetness
k-os Sunday Morning
Kaiser Chiefs I Predict A Riot
Killers, The Somebody Told Me
Killers, The Mr. Brightside
Kings of Leon Sex on Fire
Kings of Leon Use Somebody
Korn Y'all Want A Single?
Linkin Park Faint
Linkin Park Bleed it Out
Louis XIV Finding Out True Love Is Blind
M.I.A. Paper Planes
Manson, Marilyn Personal Jesus
Mars Volta, The The Widow
McNarland, Holly Do You Get High?
Metric Combat Baby
Metric Gimme Sympathy
MGMT Time To Pretend
MGMT Kids
Modest Mouse Float On
Modest Mouse World At Large
Modest Mouse Dashboard
Muse Hysteria
My Morning Jacket One Big Holiday
New Pornographers, The Use It
Nine Inch Nails Only
Nirvana You Know You're Right
Offspring, The Defy You
Offspring, The Hammerhead
One Day as a Lion Wild International
Outkast Bombs Over Baghdad
Outkast Hey Ya!
P.O.D. Alive
Papa Roach Broken Home
Pearl Jam Nothing As It Seems
Pearl Jam I Am Mine
Pearl Jam World Wide Suicide
Peter Bjorn & John Young Folks
Probot (Featuring Lemmy) Shake Your Blood
Queens of the Stone Age No One Knows
Queens of the Stone Age Go With The Flow
Queens of the Stone Age Little Sister
Queens of the Stone Age Sick, Sick, Sick
Queens of the Stone Age 3's and 7's
Queens of the Stone Age Make It Wit Chu
Raconteurs, The Steady As She Goes
Raconteurs, The Level
Radiohead There There
Radiohead Bodysnatchers
Radiohead Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Rage Against the Machine Renegades Of Funk
Raveonettes, The Aly, Walk With Me
Red Hot Chili Peppers By The Way
Roberts, Sam Brother Down
Roberts, Sam With A Bullet
Salads, The The Roth Kung Fu
Shins, The Phantom Limb
Silversun Pickups Lazy Eye
Silversun Pickups Panic Switch
Sonic Youth Incinerate
Spinnerette Ghetto Love
Stars Ageless Beauty
Stars Take Me To The Riot
Stars Bitches In Tokyo
Stone Sour Bother
Stone Temple Pilots All In The Suit That You Wear
Strokes, The Last Nite
Strokes, The Hard To Explain
Strokes, The 12:51
Strokes, The Reptilia
Strokes, The Juice Box
Strokes, The You Only Live Once
Strokes, The Red Light
System of a Down Chop Suey
System of a Down Innervision
System of a Down B.Y.O.B.
System of a Down Hypnotize
System of a Down Lonely Day
Tankian, Serj Empty Walls
Three Days Grace I Hate Everything About You
Three Days Grace Just Like You
Tokyo Police Club Nature of the Experiment
Tokyo Police Club Tessellate
Tool Schism
Tragically Hip, The It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
Tragically Hip, The In View
Trapt Headstrong
TV on the Radio Province
Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole
Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) 2 and 15/16ths
Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) Laces Out
Vedder, Eddie Hard Sun
Velvet Revolver Slither
Velvet Revolver Fall To Pieces
Velvet Revolver The Last Fight
Vines, The Get Free
Vines, The Ride
Von Bondies, The C'mon C'mon
Weakerthans, The Civil Twilight
Weezer Dope Nose
Weakerthans, The The Reasons
White Stripes, The Fell In Love With A Girl
White Stripes, The Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground
White Stripes, The Seven Nation Army
White Stripes, The The Hardest Button to Button
White Stripes, The Blue Orchid
White Stripes, The The Denial Twist
White Stripes, The Icky Thump
Wintersleep Weighty Ghost
Wintersleep Oblivion
Wolf Parade I'll Believe In Anything
Wolfmother Woman
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Maps
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Gold Lion
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Phenomenon
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Zero

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