November 2009 Archives

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Seventh Blogiversary

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

The Tale of the Tape


First Snow-Free November in 162 years - Let's Make It So

snowflakeI like records. Toronto's going for a pretty awesome one today. If we can make it to midnight without a snowflake falling from the sky, it will be our first snow-free November in 162 years.

(David) Phillips said that besides the lack of snow, this November has been warmer, drier and has had about 30 per cent more sunshine than ones in the past.

Temperatures have been about three degrees above the seasonal average and we have had about 45 per cent of normal precipitation, he said.

Those facts, plus the lack of smog means November was "the best month ever," he said.

The new numbers come from the oldest weather station in Canada, currently located at the University of Toronto campus.

We can do this, Toronto!


Fantastic Mr. Fox Review

Movie ReviewFantastic Mr. Fox: 8.5 out of 10.

In a word, this film is fantastic. Betcha didn't see that coming, eh?

This is one of those rare films that fulfils both the 35-year old and the 7-year old. I can personally attest to this. It nails both audiences in terms of story, dialogue and visual appeal.

And that visual appeal is something special. I just enjoyed looking at this movie. They could have muted the audio and I'd have been mesmerized. This movie looks unlike any animated film I've seen previously. It's stunning.

And that story and dialogue... charming and funny as cuss. As a big fan of previous Wes Anderson efforts like Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, this is another W.A. gem, with the voices of your usual W.A. movie suspects. Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson all contribute, but it's George Clooney who perfectly captures the essence of Mr. Fox.

Cuss, I'm going for it one more time. See this movie, it's fantastic.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox movie poster


The Astronaut Farmer Review

Movie ReviewThe Astronaut Farmer: 3 out of 10.

I hated The Astronaut Farmer. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 58% and I find that shocking. The Astronaut Farmer is the worst kind of cinema and should be avoided at all cost.

It's good to have dreams. When this Farmer chap decides he's going to build a rocket in his barn, blast off to outer space and orbit the earth, people are sceptical. But it's his dream, don't you see? How will his teenage son feel if his daddy gave up on his dream?

Although I hated the "you can do anything so long as you believe in your dreams" Disney Americana crapola, that's not what got this movie a 3 out of 10. This movie gets a 3 out of 10 for plot holes you could fly a rocket through and for requiring a complete suspension of logic, reason and belief. Essentially, it's all completely ridiculous. All of it. Field of Dreams, a much better slice of Americana, seems far more plausible than The Astronaut Farmer, and that guy ended up playing catch with his dead dad.

How many people did Farmer almost kill when his first launch failed? How was he able to blast a rocket in Texas and get off without even a warning? How did he score all the fuel for that launch, let alone the next one? In post 9/11 America, how exactly does one manage to secure that much fuel for their missile-like rocket? How did he, his teenage son and illegal alien labourer manage to build that second rocket so damn quickly? And where did all the parts come from, Home Depot? OMG, you have to see this movie just to see how impossible and moronic it all is. The FBI come across as complete morons, the wife appears to be completely brainwashed and Farmer - well he's clearly a demented egomaniac with delusions of grandeur and completely and utterly dangerous. That, ladies and gentlemen, is your American hero.

Oh it's bad... and simply based on the fact a guy on a ranch said he was building a rocket to go into space, without anyone actually seeing said rocket, the space cowboy became a world-wide sensational story. Every news outlet in the world descended on his ranch, he was talked up in talk show monologues and "space cowboy" entered the lexicon. All because some cracker in Texas said he was building a rocket. I'll bet there are at least 4 dozen Americans building rockets in their barns as I type, but we don't know their names because they're nuts.

I hated this movie, and if you enjoyed it, I hate you, too.

astronaut-reg


I'm Giving Away 38 Google Wave Invitations Today

googleI've got 38 invitations to Google Wave.

If you want to use Google Wave, leave a comment and I'll hook you up. The first 38 commenters get one.

For realz.

google_wave_invitation


Utah Spelunker's Death Reminds me of Omayra Sánchez

candleI find it difficult to even read about the 26-year-old Utah spelunker who died after being trapped in a cave's narrow crevice.

I can't imagine how helpless rescuers must have felt, knowing John Jones was there and being unable to free him. They'll never be able to recover his body so they're going to shut down the cave instead.

The entire episode reminded me of Omayra Sánchez. I only learnt about Omayra Sánchez a couple of years ago and that story and this story are eerily similar. Omayra Sánchez was trapped in water, but she was trapped in such a fashion that they couldn't help her, and efforts to drain the water around her failed. They could see her and talk to her, but they couldn't free her.

Here's Omayra, shortly before she passed away.

Omayra Sanchez


Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 4

leafsIt didn't take the Leafs long to fall behind 2-0, and then I had to go to my own game. It sounds like a missed a great little comeback with a pair of goals from Phil "The Thrill" Kessel and everybody's favourite Hagman.

Don't look now, but we're 3-0-1 in our last four games. And since we started at 0-7-1, we're a very respectable 6-4-6. If the season had started 16 games ago, we'd be in great shape.

I'll conclude this Leafs recap by calling out the idiot schedule makers at the NHL head office. It's Saturday. Saturday nights mean Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada means the Leafs at 7pm on CBC. This is a ritual you can't fuck with. Why, NHL head office, have you fucked with it?

A Leaf-less Saturday night in November just doesn't make sense...


Rufus, Our First Child

BabyI was just going through some old photos when I saw Rufus. My wife and I adopted Rufus when we were trying to start a family. Rufus is a monkey... well, to be more accurate, Rufus is a picture of a monkey.

My wife and I got married almost 14 years ago, and it took us a while to have our first kid. Not for lack of trying, mind you, it just didn't come together for a few years. During this period of our lives, we had Rufus. My wife even had a picture of Rufus pinned to her office wall.

Here's our Rufus. He looks exactly the same as when he first came into our lives. We don't need him anymore, but it's good to know he's still around.

Rufus


This is a Blog. This is My Blog.

justiceI started blogging here exactly 7 years ago this week. It was a place to sharpen my writing skills and a chance to test various SEO practices and web development techniques. In the beginning, the number of daily unique visitors was often less than ten, and I knew them all in "the real world".

Seven years and 9525 entries later, I'm still writing for the fun of it. I choose topics based on what's of interest to me, as I sharpen my writing, web development and SEO skills to determine what can be applied on the commercial front. I'm still writing for my brothers, my buddies and myself. The only thing that's significantly changed is the number of visitors this blog gets.

This is a blog. This is my blog. I'm not trying to break news, I'm not trying to be CNN or TMZ or The Toronto Star, I'm just trying to write about stuff I dig, things of interest to me and things I think should be shared.

Earlier today, I wrote about a shake-up with the EZ Rock morning show. Of course I wrote about the dismissal of Rick Hodge and Kim Stockwood. You could have bet the farm on it. After all, I've always loved radio, I wrote about Rick Hodge leaving CHUM-FM, about Humble getting a new gig at EZ Rock and it's the only morning show I've sat in on. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb if I didn't address this developing story.

So I did what I've done 9524 times before. My fingers hit the keyboard and I reported what I knew to be true. Then, because it's my blog, I threw down some personal opinions about it all. And yes, that included a less than flattering story about Rick Hodge. This isn't something I do lightly, I managed to not tell the story for 18 months, but this morning I felt like sharing it. So I did.

Rather quickly, my email filled up with angry emails and comments. It was as if I had attacked the Pope. I came back from lunch, read one negative email after another, and quickly realized it simply wasn't worth it. This is my hobby, I had shared a little story about the subject of the news story I was writing about, and suddenly I was under attack. That prompted me to do something I haven't done in 9525 entries over 7 years. I deleted the story about Rick Hodge.

Rick, if you're reading this, I got your note but you didn't provide an email address for me to write you back. I'm happy to write you if you give me an email address. To everyone else, nothing I wrote this morning was based on anyone's opinion but my own. I just threw down some thoughts about a local DJ based solely on one morning I spent in the EZ Rock studio.

That's what I do here. You're welcome to read it... or not. This is a blog. This is my blog. Nothing more...


No, Not That Alex Gonzalez

JaysThe Toronto Blue Jays have a new starting shortstop for the 2010 season. They've inked Alex Gonzalez to a one-year contract worth $2.75 million US, plus a 2011 club option.

If you're having a deja-vu moment, you're forgiven. This isn't the first Alex Gonzalez to start at SS for the Jays. From 1994-2001 the other Alex Gonzalez filled the role when he wasn't renting videos from the Blockbuster my brother worked at.

Below is the other Alex Gonzalez, not the guy we signed yesterday. Try not to be confused.

lex-gonzalez


Hodge and Stockwood Out, Humble and Colleen Remain @ EZ Rock

RadioI'm hearing from usually reliable sources that Rick Hodge and Kim Stockwood are no longer part of the EZ Rock morning show. It's now a two person booth with Humble Howard and Colleen Rusholme.

A lot of noise was made by Astral when Rick Hodge left CHUM-FM for EZ Rock and CFRB last year. Roger, Rick & Marilyn on 104.5 CHUM-FM was a Toronto radio staple, and my mom's favourite morning show. Apparently, the EZ Rock / CFRB experiment failed.

I'll preface the following editorial with the following. I've met Kim Stockwood twice: at a party at Humble's house and when I sat in on the EZ Rock morning show to live blog everything. She's absolutely lovely, and I'm very sorry to see she's become yet another Toronto radio victim. Rick Hodge, however, is another story.

I didn't blog everything I witnessed that morning. I was there from before 6am until the show ended at 9, and since they were nice enough to let me into their off-air world, I understood some things weren't fit for print. The main event that morning never made it to this blog.

** Note: I just did something I haven't done in 9525 entries. I've removed a paragraph. **

Furthermore, I don't believe a four-person crew can truly work. I realize a number of three-person teams have succeeded, such as the aforementioned Roger, Rick and Marilyn and The Dean Blundell Show, but the best morning show teams seem to consist of two people. When this new morning show launched on EZ Rock, my initial thoughts were it would be better as Humble and Colleen. They were the pillars. Kim Stockwood seemed too green and it always felt as if Rick Hodge was being forced into the show with a shoe horn. It never sounded natural and it was entirely too busy.

So Rick Hodge and Kim Stockwood are gone at EZ Rock, and the show is now Stu and Colleen with Humble playing the role of Stu. They're also playing nothing but Christmas music starting now, but I doubt they'll be playing Stockwood's "Marshmallow World". That's too bad, I've always liked her version.


Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS22 consideration. I'm submitting "Heads Will Roll" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

This will be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' fifth song on SLS, following "Maps", "Gold Lion", "Phenomenon" and "Zero". "Maps", btw, still makes it onto just about every iPod playlist I make.


Lee's Palace Facade Comes Down

cntowerYou know how much we Torontonians love our signs. I previously examined our love affair with signs after Ed Mirvish passed and I wondered what would happen to the Honest Ed's sign when that property is eventually re-purposed. Prior to that, there was the united cry to save the Sam the Record Man sign and the City TV truck and relief when they saved the iconic CHUM sign from demolition.

Now I've learnt the mural outside concert hall Lee's Palace was torn down Tuesday. The piece by street artist Runt was created in 1986, before he re-did it in 1992.

Thankfully, he'll be doing it again in the spring. "It's going to be comical, it's going to be cartoonish, maybe a little bit ..... I don't know," he said. "It's going to be absolutely fantastic."

lee-s_palace_phone

Image from daily dose of imagery.


Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3

LeafsEverybody's favouriite Hagman scored twice and the Leafs actually held on to a third period lead to win in regulation.

After losing four straight in regulation, we've now picked up six points in the last four games. We're now only six points back of the 13th-place Florida Panthers.

This cup be half full!

half-full-glass


Sia - Breathe Me

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

play Sia - Breathe Me
Six Feet Under is possibly my second favourite television series of all time. They're re-airing the series on HBO Canada and using Sia's "Breathe Me" in the awesome promo ads.

This song was pivotal to the series finale, my favourite series concluding scene of all time.


Toronto's Ghost Signs

torontoA mondoville tweet led me to a fantastic Flickr photoset from Dave Till entitled Toronto ghost signs.

Before the invention of modern billboards, sign painters used to paint advertisements and company names directly onto building walls. These gradually fading painted signs are known as ghost signs.

Here are a few of my favourites.

ghostsign3

ghostsign1

ghostsign2

See them all at http://www.flickr.com/photos/davetill/sets/72157594474186564/.


Bohemian Rhapsody by The Muppets

musicI have vivid memories of discovering Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, it was years before Wayne's World brought the song to a new generation. I discovered it in the best possible way. I started playing vinyl records found in my old man's collection.

I also have vivid memories of discovering The Muppets. I was very familiar with Sesame Street, having been raised on the show, but I first discovered The Muppets when I stumbled upon The Muppet Movie in the very early 80s.

I loved Bohemian Rhapsody and I loved The Muppets. And yes, I love Bohemian Rhapsody by The Muppets.



The Final Taboo: The Man-on-Man Mouth Kiss

thumbsdownI recorded Sunday night's American Music Awards and watched it last night. Most of it was pretty bad, so I'm glad I was able to fast forward a good chunk of it. I did watch the closing performance by Adam Lambert, however, and part of that performance was one of the final taboos on American television.

Adam Lambert, an openly gay man, had the audacity to kiss another man on the lips. The kiss with his keyboard player lasted only a second, but it resulted in over 1,500 complaints by American viewers to ABC. ABC's "Good Morning America" has even cancelled an appearance by Adam Lambert on their show as a result of this performance.

I believe the man-on-man mouth kiss is one of the final taboos on network TV. When Britney Spears and Madonna smooched during the MTV Video Music Awards, it was great water cooler chat fodder, but there was no FCC action. We'll see if the FCC can resist creating a clear double standard moment with Lambert and ABC.

2009 AMA Awards Show

I think those 1,500 people complaining about Lambert's 11pm performance need to get over it. Same sex kissing is just as boring as opposite sex kissing.


My Sore Arm (Or Proof I Practice What I Preach)

needleYeah, I'm the guy who called you selfish for refusing to get the H1N1 vaccine. And you parents who won't get your kids the shot, you're doubly selfish. There, I said it.

I wrote that at the end of October, but practising what I preached turned out to be trickier than I thought. For the longest time, vaccination clinics were only serving the very young, the very pregnant and those with other conditions. Finally, at some point in mid-November, my kids were able to get their H1N1 flu shots.

To close the communication loop, and to prove I practice what I preach, on Sunday my wife and I made our way to the Etobicoke clinic at Burnhamthorpe and West Mall to receive our vaccines. I'm feeling great, but I must warn you, this ain't your yearly flu shot.

My left arm still hurts! It's not the worst pain I've felt there this year, but I'm surprised by how much it still hurts two days later.

Now get yourself to one of our free clinics. Many have no wait at all right now. It's better to have a pain in the arm than be a pain in the ass.


Maple Leafs 3, Islanders 4

leafsI still can't believe we lost this one. In the third period alone, we outshot the Islanders 23-4.

Down 3-0, you could feel the momentum shift the moment I turned on the television. That's right, I tuned in after the three Islander goals on poor 'ol Tosky. I'm taking credit for the comeback.

Unfortunately, I couldn't deliver the win. I'm just one man. I did all I could.


Haydain Neale of Jacksoul, Dead at 39

In MemoriumHaydain Neale was 39. He was the Juno Award-winning lead singer of Jacksoul.


Ready for a No-Buy, No-Recieve Christmas

moneyIt all started two years ago with an entry entitled "The Story of Stuff." It was about our mega-consumer society and the stuff we accumulate, particularly at this time of year.

In the comments of that entry, I wrote a comment that was heavily on my mind all last December. Here's what I wrote.

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

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

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

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

Last year, my wife, my mom and my brothers and I reached a compromise. We played "Secret Santa" and threw our names in a hat. I saw "Secret Santa" as a gateway drug to where I wanted to go in 2009. No-buy, no-receive.

Now I'm ready to go whole-hog. Don't buy me anything for Christmas, please. With kids being the exception, it's time we all implemented a no-buy, no-receive policy.

We've all got enough stuff.



Wendy and Lucy Review

Movie ReviewWendy and Lucy: 7 out of 10.

I must confess, I had never heard of Wendy and Lucy. My wife essentially ordered me to watch it and for 80 minutes I was drawn into Michelle Williams' character's world.

Michelle Williams is fantastic in this, by the way. This ain't no Dawson's Creek, this is Wendy's life, and it's raw, sad and dire.

It's only 80 minutes, and there's very little action, but you're strangely riveted. My wife was right about this one.

wendy_and_lucy


Anvil! The Story of Anvil Review

Movie ReviewAnvil! The Story of Anvil: 9 out of 10.

I've been looking forward to this one. It just seemed like my kind of documentary. I'm happy to report it was well worth the wait.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is awesome!!!1!1!!

Read this little synopsis and tell me you're not intrigued. I dare you.

At 14, best friends Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, hailed as the "demi-gods of Canadian metal, " influenced a musical generation that includes Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, despite never hitting the big time. Following a calamitous European tour, Lips and Robb, now in their fifties, set off to record their 13th album in one last attempt to fulfil their boyhood dreams.

Lips and Robb are Toronto boys, full of passion and an unwavering belief in themselves. This story isn't just for fans of heavy metal or Canadian music, it's for anyone who has ever had a dream.

I absolutely loved it, and I'm watching it again as soon as I find 90 minutes. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be inspired. I promise.

anvil


Last Bride Standing

tvItem #15 of the Bloggers Code is the following: "When friends make TV shows, free promotion is mandatory".

My good friend Humble Howard, along with new friend Mike Wixson and the gang at Redfish Entertainment Studios, have a new 13-episode docu-reality show entitled "Last Bride Standing". And this one actually airs on a station you probably get! It all starts tonight at 6:30PM on SunTV.


Maple Leafs 2, Capitals 1

leafsDo not adjust your laptop, desktop or smart phone. All of the following actually happened last night at the ACC.

  • The Leafs won a game
  • The Leafs won a game in a shootout
  • The Leafs won a game in a shootout with Toskala in net
  • The Leafs won a game in a shootout with Toskala in net against a top tier opponent

And you know how we're always talking about MLSE being full of hot air? That, apparently, was the difference maker. Alex Ovechkin said after the game that the arena was really hot and "after I took two steps I couldn't breathe."

We have a new plan for all future home games. Turn up the heat.

hell


How the Heat Freed Up My Weekend

sunIt's unseasonably warm in these parts. I don't think we're supposed to have double digit highs in late November. This heat has totally freed up my weekend.

You see, I had a pretty busy weekend planned. This morning I had Learn to Play Hockey with my daughter, this afternoon I had to take my son to his hockey game, tomorrow morning he has a practice scheduled and then there's a whole bunch of other stuff planned around the rink sked.

When your kids play in the world's largest outdoor hockey league, double digit temperatures put a serious kybosh on everything. They simply can't keep the ice at Rennie Park when it's this warm, so both games and the practice have been cancelled.

That opened things up for me quite nicely. I got my chores out of the way early so I could enjoy "Anvil: The Story of Anvil". A review of that gem is coming soon.

I've got to wrap this up. I've got bonus free time on a Saturday and that's pretty damn sweet.


If Hitler Was A Toronto Maple Leafs Fan

leafsBeing a Leafs fan can be pretty tough. If we don't laugh, we'll cry. It's time for yet another remix of ."Downfall"

This is a glimpse of what it might have been like if Hitler was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.



The Holiday Comment Blogger Returns

musicFor the third straight year, "nobody" is back. "Nobody" is an anonymous soul who essentially blogs on an entry I wrote six years ago about Christmas music. He or she posts these humorous updates on their Christmas tapes and love for holiday music.

After this morning's comment, "Nobody" has left over 50 comments. Here's what he or she wrote earlier today.

I think you have no right to complain. If you personally don't enjoy being festive or listening to Christmas music change the station. All you do is complain and considering the fact that I personally want them to begin playing Christmas music now, rather than later. So stop being a cold hearted scrooge and lighten up for a change.

What's fascinating is that the entry is six years old and "Nobody" has been consistently chiming in over there for three years. It's at the point where I smile when I see the return of "nobody" and wonder what's wrong if a few months go by without a peep from him or her.

I hope "Nobody" keeps going.


Niedermayer's Sick and Classy Ducks Fans

puckScott Niedermayer was named first star the other night after scoring the overtime winner for the Anaheim Ducks. He then tossed his stick to a little girl in the stands. That's when all hell broke lose.

Stay classy, Ducks fans.


Those Creepy Sarah Palin Ads

MouseThe entry I just wrote about Oprah triggered an onslaught of ads for Sarah Palin's new book. I'm guessing the company behind the ads, Newsmax.com, is bidding heavily on the popular keyword "Oprah", perhaps in conjunction with the keyword "magazine", realizing those in the Oprah cult are most likely to spend $4.97 on Palin's book, "Going Rogue".

As many of you have remarked, the ads are pretty creepy. I took a screen cap of them in case Newsmax.com gets outbid.

palin

I'll conclude my Oprah ~ Palin entry with a prediction. Taking over for Oprah in her syndicated talk show in 2011: Sarah Palin.


This is an Entry About Oprah

tvI've written about the cult of Oprah before. My wife is an Oprah fan. She records every show, reads her magazine, talks about her with friends. She's a big fan.

The big Oprah news of the day is that she's pulling the plug on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011. Oprah fans everywhere are mourning the loss of their show, but don't believe the hype. It's a ruse!

Oprah ain't goin' anywhere. This is from her own site.

For an hour a day, she's been bringing 'live your best life' television right into your living room. Well now it's time for what's next. Not just what's next for Oprah, but what's next for you. The Oprah Winfrey Network will be a 24/7 cable network devoted to self-discovery, to connecting you to your best self and to the world. Oprah will be with us every day. She's the life force of OWN.

That's right, she's leaving her hour talk show to focus on her 24/7 cable network. In 2011 we'll have more Oprah than ever before.

That's not retirement, that's business.


Maple Leafs 5, Hurricanes 6

LeafsEnough is a enough. We jumped out in front 3-0, coughed that one up and blew a 4-2 lead in the 3rd. Ian White then scored with 30 seconds remaining, but the Leafs couldn't hold the 5-4 lead. Erik Cole scored with three seconds left to force overtime.

The Monster did his best Tosky impression in the shootout, and the rest is history. We couldn't hold a 3-0 lead against the worst team in the NHL. The only silver lining is that this total collapse should spur Brian Burke to actually do something. Let's shake this thing up.

And then, it's time to follow these three simple steps the rest of the way.

3-steps


Them Crooked Vultures - New Fang

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS22 consideration. I'm submitting "New Fang" by Them Crooked Vultures.

Let's see... singing this song is some guy named Josh Homme. The bassist and keyboardist is a guy named John Paul Jones. And on drums? Some dude named Dave Grohl.

Did that get your attention?


Homo Milk

foodFive years ago I wrote about milk bags. My family drinks a lot of milk, and we buy bags of milk. Canadians will be familiar with the three bags of milk totalling 4 litres that are so common in these parts.

As peculiar as that sounds to an American, it's not the Canadian milk drinker fact they find most amusing. That would be our term for homogenized milk. We call it homo milk.

Tell an American you enjoy homo milk and they'll likely giggle or laugh hysterically. Americans call it whole milk, because homo milk has different connotations... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Personally, I've never been a fan of homo milk. I was raised on 2% and recently started enjoying 1%. As a result, the below Neilson Trutaste milk that "tastes like homo" does not appeal to me.

homo


Mississauga Blogger's Mississauga Blog

linkChildren of the blogosphere, there's a new blog in our midst. Horonymous has been commenting here and at Canadian Thinker for years, and now he's started his own blog.

You'll find his blog at http://www.mississaugablogger.com/ where he's writing about things he finds interesting in the 905 and beyond. I particularly liked his thanks to his father, posted in time for Remembrance Day.

Click on over and check out Mississauga Blogger. If you'd like to unleash the inner blogger within you, contact me and we'll make it happen.


Ranking the Radio Listener Outcries

radioIf my memory serves me correctly, I've written about five radio stations flipping formats in the past seven years. I'm sure more stations heard in Toronto have changed their formats during this period, but I've only blogged about five.

Here are those five entries and the number of comments left by frustrated fans of the abandoned format. The total for the Country 95.3 entry is as of this moment and will most likely have increased by the time you read these words.

  1. Country 95.3 Quits Country - 308 comments
  2. 1050 CHUM Now CP24 Radio 1050 - 83 comments
  3. Kiss 92.5 All Hits Radio Born From Ashes of Jack FM - 71 comments
  4. Virgin Radio 999 FM - 13 comments
  5. WBUF Drops the Rock - 0 comments

Don't go messing with a country boy.


Depeche Mode - Black Celebration

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.

play Depeche Mode - Black Celebration
This is the title track from Depeche Mode's fifth studio album, released in 1986. I was surprised when this song was omitted from Depeche Mode's double disc greatest hits compilation "The Singles 86-98". As Depeche Mode albums go, Black Celebration is the red-headed step child.

I've always liked this song.


Maple Leafs 2, Senators 3

leafsThe Leafs have surrendered the first goal in 17 of 19 games this season. That's a big reason why we're 3-11-5.

Did I just write 3-11-5? Three wins in 19 games? Are we really losing 84% of our games?

New rule: pass the puck to Kessel, get out of the way and pray.


The Carlton Theatre to Close December 6

moviesRight after getting married in the mid-90s, my wife and I moved into a bachelor apartment near Yonge and Bloor. That's when we discovered the best movies, the films critics raved about and the masses rejected, could always be found at The Carlton cinema.

We've since moved west of the downtown core and procreated, so we don't get to The Carlton very often, but I'm still very sad to see it's closing December 6, 2009.

One of the last remaining shoebox multiplexes from the Reagan era, the Carlton opened its doors in 1981 during the Canadian indie-cinema renaissance, providing a venue for local filmmakers like Ron Mann to screen their earliest efforts. Since then, the theatre has provided valuable screen time to small Canadian distribution companies (Mongrel Media, Films We Like), hosting obscure international films for extended runs enough that would allow them to build an audience through word of mouth.

I saw many great films at The Carlton cinema, but I think my all-time favourite Carlton movie experience was seeing "Crumb" there in '95. "Crumb" wasn't playing anywhere else in the city, but I had read enough about it to know I had to see it. Then, I saw it, and it was even better than I could have hoped. I absolutely loved "Crumb", and I still think about it to this day. I'm not sure where today's "Crumb" will play.

With the closing of The Carlton, all instrumental theatres of my youth will be gone: The Runnymede Theatre and Humber Odeon I grew up with and the Uptown Theatre and Carlton Cinema of my young adulthood. Like Heraclitus said, nothing is permanent but change.


An Ode to Brendan Shanahan: My Favourite Non-Leaf Retires

PuckBrendan Shanahan holds the NHL record for Gordie Howe hat tricks. He recorded 17 Gordie Howe hat tricks during his hall of fame career, 15 more than Gordie himself. He also holds the distinction of being my favourite player who never donned the Maple Leafs' blue and white.

Admittedly, I was predisposed to liking him. I attended Michael Power High School in Etobicoke, Shanahan's school. Several teachers spoke highly of Shanny, and even his siblings taught there. He must have had a lot of siblings, because his siblings were also teaching at St. Cecilia's primary school, another school I attended. Like Shanahan, I rode the red rocket to Power where he was a legend.

Although I was predisposed to liking him, he made it easy to root for him in a way I've never rooted for a non-Leaf. He was a deadly sniper, scoring 656 goals, and he was a natural born leader, winning three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal. He was also incredibly consistent, scoring 20 or more goals in 19 consecutive years. And, as his Gordie Howe hat tricks attest, he was one tough sonufabitch.

Shanahan announced his retirement today, and I'm going to miss him dearly. Nobody did it better.

shanny


When Your Favourite Radio Station Flips Formats

radioAs a life long fan of radio, I know how attached you get to your favourite stations. You get familiar with the personalities, the schedule and the genre of music. When your favourite radio station flips formats, it can be jarring to fans.

Last Friday, Country 93.5 out of Hamilton stopped playing country music and started playing oldies. I wrote about the switch, and thousands of Country 93.5 fans found the entry. As of this writing, 258 comments have been left, almost unanimously calling out Corus and General Manager Suzanne Carpenter. Country music fans in the GTA are pissed.

I chuckle to myself when I think that I'm now the go-to place for country music fans to voice their displeasure at the format change, because new country is probably my personal least favourite genre of music. I can't stomach the crap.

The Hamilton Spectator even covered the format flip today and included quotes from this blog.

As soon as the last country song died on the station, listeners crowded onto online discussion boards to voice their disapproval. At torontomike.com, a fan with the screen name Sheila moaned, "The last thing this area needed was another Rock station ... Talk about bad judgment."

Jared T declared, "Country 95.3 was a fantastic radio station and a great refuge from the kind of radio 95.3 has now become."

If the lack of country music in the GTA has you down, join the support group at http://www.torontomike.com/2009/11/country_953_quits_country.html.

Yee haw!


Seinfeld Reunion Update, Courtesy of Curb Your Enthusiasm

tvI loved Seinfeld and I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. Last night, as I watched Sunday's episode of CYE, I was treated to the best of both worlds.

If you're a fellow Seinfeld fan, you've got to see this episode. The primary Seinfeld actors had a table reading of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's Seinfeld Reunion script and we gained insight into what's happened to the characters these past dozen years.

Here are some of the highlights: (SPOILER ALERT, ELVIS!

  • Elaine had a baby courtesy of Jerry’s donated sperm.
  • George got rich inventing an iToilet app for the iPhone, but lost all his money to Bernie Madoff.
  • George’s ex-wife, Amanda, still had her hefty divorce settlement, so naturally he wants to win her back.
  • Newman is still a postman.

We're promised more Seinfeld character updates next week.


Old Footage of Downtown Toronto in 1986

TorontoYouTube 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.

I love this footage from Global TV circa 1986. It's simply a drive around downtown Toronto to the smooth sounds of Guido Basso's trumpet and flugelhorn. They called this "Night Ride" and you can see the old Sam the Record Man and A&A Records signage in all its glory.

I also love these scenes because I can spot my old arcade hangouts from the mid-80s. I loved those arcades when you could actually play a game for a quarter.



No More Cookies! No More Cookies!

santaAs Santa rolled by yesterday at the Santa Claus Parade, he made a request. I captured his plea on video.

He's asking that we not leave him cookies anymore. He'd far prefer an apple or orange. My kids have taken note.


Never Trust a Politician

thumbs downNever trust a politician. It's a kin to trusting a salesman. They'll most likely tell you what you want to hear in an effort not to alienate potential voters.

Browsing Saturday's Globe, there was a fluff piece in which several people at a party celebrating the Indian Festival of Lights were asked about their cinematic allegiances. Bollywood or Hollywood?

The non-politicians asked seemed to answer honestly. Sudhi Matholi admitted he preferred Hollywood movies. Anita Kapal wanted to say Bollywood, but admitted she preferred Hollywood because Bollywood is overdramatic. But wait until you read the answers from Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff and George Smitherman.

Bob Rae

Bollywood is bigger, it's alive and it's having a huge impact on Toronto. I like both, but if I had to choose - there was no better movie last year than Slumdog Millionaire.

Michael Ignatieff

In this crowd, it's got to be Bollywood. I love the singing and the dancing. It lifts you up every time. There's a kind of joy there that we all need.

George Smitherman

I like Bollywood for the authenticity.

Again, never trust a politician. Authenticity is not on the menu.


7 Santa Claus Parade Links to the Past: From Blinky to the Upside-Down Clowns

santaAs I mentioned in my review this afternoon of today's Toronto Santa Claus Parade, I've now gone to six in a row. Prior to that, I missed at least fifteen, the years between my childhood and fatherhood.

The parades I've witnessed these past six years include all new floats and a modern flare, but there are certain constants that link the parades of my youth with these recent parades. Here are seven links to the past. Note: All pictures were taken by yours truly earlier today and can be found in my Flickr photoset.

Blinky the Police Car

Blinky was always there when I was a kid and I'm glad he's still making the rounds. I'm also glad he's looking better after a brief rough patch.

2009 Santa Claus Parade

Upside-down Clowns

I always felt the Upside-Down Clowns were kind of creepy, but even today they were blowing the kids' minds.

2009 Santa Claus Parade

Elmer the Safety Elephant

Did you know Elmer's been asking kids to safen up since 1947? It's true, you can look it up.

2009 Santa Claus Parade

Old School Costumes

Although most outfits have been updated since the 80s, you can always spot the vintage old school costumes. In addition to the above upside-down clowns and the below polar bears, I spotted retro tigers, skunks and bears.

2009 Santa Claus Parade

Horse Riding Police Officers

I always feel sorry for the poor souls dressed as clowns and following the horses along the parade route with a shovel, broom and garbage can.

2009 Santa Claus Parade

Marching Bands

A staple of a good Santa Claus Parade will always be a massive quantity of marching bands.

2009 Santa Claus Parade

The Big Guy a.k.a. Santa Claus

He's the guest of honour, the final float and he's guaranteed to get the biggest cheer. From the first parade to the 105th parade, Santa Claus was there.

2009 Santa Claus Parade


2009 Toronto Santa Claus Parade

santaI took the kids to the 2009 Santa Claus Parade today. It was my sixth parade in a row, so I've got it all down to a fine art. I know when to arrive, where to score great seats for the kids and how to keep them warm and entertained during the two hour wait beforehand.

Last year was windy and chilly and we had to deal with a rain / snow combo near the beginning, but this year it was far warmer and dryer. Truth be known, a blizzard / hurricane combo couldn't keep me away, because both kids absolutely love it and I'm not sure how many years we have left with both fully aboard the Santa train.

I took 148 photos and videos you'll find here. We'll be back next year.

2009 Santa Claus Parade 2009 Santa Claus Parade 2009 Santa Claus Parade 2009 Santa Claus Parade 2009 Santa Claus Parade 2009 Santa Claus Parade

Here are my recaps of the last five Toronto Santa Claus Parades I attended.


Maple Leafs 2, Flames 5

LeafsHow wise was it to honour a decade in which we posted a record of 263-443-94? On 80s night, the Leafs did Paul Morris proud, stinking up the joint like it was 1984.

MLSE: Leave the 80s be.

pacman


Anticipating Anvil! The Story of Anvil

moviesI love me a good documentary, and as a fan of music and Canadiana, I simply can't wait to see "Anvil! The Story of Anvil".

I watch the bulk of my movies on The Movie Network, and generally you wait almost a full year from the time a film hits theatres to the time it debuts on TMN. "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in January 2008 but hasn't yet aired on TMN.

When the hell is "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" debuting on TMN? I don't think I can wait much longer...


The Wire #1 Most Important Show of the Past Decade

wireIn an article entitled "10 most important TV shows of the past decade", the Toronto Star lists The Wire at #1.

THE WIRE

One of the great benefits of cable, in addition to freedom from the network limitations of content and ratings-driven advertising, is its ability to embrace and nurture shows of unusually high quality and relatively limited audience appeal. The Wire is the most extreme example, the best show on television nobody was watching.

The interwoven stories and characters, with an entirely different focus for each of its brilliant, all-too-brief five seasons, were ripped from the pages of the Baltimore Sun and the work of former crime reporter David Simon. His non-fiction bestseller, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, was adapted as a similarly titled network series, which he also wrote and produced.

Inevitably frustrated by the constraints of network prime time, he pitched a tougher, even more downbeat version to a reluctant HBO, and then spent the next half-decade labouring in obscurity, beloved by critics and ignored by viewers. The final season, bemoaning the fall of print journalism, featured Toronto actor/director Clark Johnson, who also directed key episodes.

Unappreciated as it may have been, The Wire outlasted other prestige buried treasures that were to follow, such as Deadwood (three seasons), In Treatment (just renewed – barely – for a third) Carnivàle and Rome (two each). And there's always DVD.

Rob Salem

The Wire, or The Greatest Show On Television, Ever™ as I like to call it, has been on my mind a lot lately. I'm ready to revisit all 60 spectacular episodes. If you haven't seen it, here's a taste of what you've missed. This is my favourite character, Omar Little, and his confrontation with Brother Mouzone.



Maple Leafs 2, Blackhawks 3

leafsYou can't spot a team like Chicago a three goal lead in their barn and expect to come back. Yes, Tosky played his best game of the season and Kessel proved he's far and away the best sniper on this squad by potting both goals, but a loss is a loss.

We're now 3-9-5, good for 14th place in the conference and 29th place in the league. Welcome to the winter of our discontent.


Country 95.3 Quits Country

radioCountry 95.3, a station with the call letters CING-FM broadcasting out of Hamilton, Ontario, billed itself as "Canada's Most Listened To Country Station". I didn't know that until exactly two minutes ago when I found out they've flipped formats. Country 95.3 is now The New 95.3: Southern Ontario's Greatest Hits.

"Southern Ontario's Greatest Hits" apparently means classic hits, or oldies if you prefer. There's no market in southern Ontario for country music, even if it's "Canada's Most Listened To Country Station".

Recent Toronto area radio ratings revealed there really is nobody listening. They scored a 1.1, the lowest score this side of CP24 Radio 1050.

Farewell New Country 95.3. I hardly knew thee...


Got Paraskavedekatriaphobia?

CalendarThis is not a good day for those who suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia. Even those who merely suffer from triskaidekaphobia are feeling uneasy.

If you suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia or triskaidekaphobia, don't fret. Tomorrow is another day.


Ready for Google’s Chrome OS

googleI have an old laptop primed and ready for Google's Chrome OS.

Sources have told TechCrunch that the new Google OS will become available for download within a week.

We expect Google will be careful with messaging around the launch, and endorse a small set of devices for installation. EEE PC netbooks, for example, may be one set of devices that Google will say are ready to use Chrome OS. There will likely be others as well, but don’t expect to be able to install it on whatever laptop or desktop machine you have from day one. Google has previously said they are working with Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba on the project.

Ok, so I likely won't be installing it on my old laptop next week, but it's getting closer. Here's what I wrote following the announcement from Google that they were developing an OS, something I've been hoping for.

Google-Chrome-Logo


Hugh Dillon's Hard Core Logo

filmI just watched a show called "Ink: Alter Egos Exposed" on IFC Canada. It's a cool series about comics and graphic novels that I stumbled upon. It's hosted by Headstones lead singer Hugh Dillon.

Is it me or is Hugh Dillon everywhere these days? Between the promos for Flashpoint and Durham County, he's the hardest working guy in Canadian showbiz this side of Humble Howard.

Speaking of Humble, he and Fred told some fantastic Hugh Dillon stories during their Christmas podcast back in 2006. If you haven't heard it, listen to it now! Dillon, don't ya know, was quite the.... nah... I won't ruin the surprise. But my favourite Hugh Dillon memory is being blown away by his performance in Bruce McDonald's Hard Core Logo back in 1996.

I was 22 when I first saw it, and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It was a road movie, it featured great music and it was totally and completely Canadian. It remains one of the finest Canadian movies I've ever seen.

I heard there will be a sequel. I wish they'd leave it alone. You just know they're going to ruin it.

Here's the original trailer.



Ambiguous Movie Endings Resolved - Find Out What Happened to Tony Soprano

sopranosThe CollegeHumor.com folks are on a roll. When it comes to original comedic content for the web, they're probably the top dogs right now.

They call this clip "Ambiguous Endings Resolved". The final resolution is of The Sopranos and what happened to Tony Soprano after he looked up in that diner. It validates what I believe to be true.

If you want to read more of my ramblings about The Sopranos, check out http://www.torontomike.com/the_sopranos/.


40 Funny Print Ads

humourHere are 40 funny and clever print advertisements.

This is one of my favourites:

father


TV Tax Ads Lie, Annoy and Infuriate

thumbsdownI hate those TV Tax ads. There are the two varieties... the ones from the cable and satellite guys and the ones from the networks telling us "Local TV Matters". I hate them both.

twitter2

That's my tweet after seeing another TV Tax ad during the Leafs game last night. I thought they were gone, but apparently not.

twitter

That was someone replying to me on Twitter, helping to explain why these ads are so annoying. I find them insulting, but not just because of the obnoxious sarcasm. I resent the implication we're about to be hit with a TV tax. There is no TV tax!

Only the government can tax us. The government is not taxing us here, the CRTC is just ruling whether TV broadcasters can charge the cable and satellite providers for their content. If our cable bill increases as a result, it's because Bell and Rogers and the gang passed on the extra cost. It's not a tax, it's a multi-million dollar company passing on a new business expense to its customers.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Bell on both sides of the fence here? Bell is one of the big names behind the "TV Tax" ads (along with Rogers, Telus, Cogeco, EastLink, BellAliant and others), but they're also part-owner of the CTV network, one of the big names behind the "Local TV Matters" ads (along with CBC, Global, A Channel, CHEK and others). They simply can't lose.

I fully expect my Rogers bill to go up after this CRTC ruling, but it won't be because of a TV Tax. The TV Tax doesn't exist. My bill will go up because the cable and satellite companies are greedy bastards.


We Do Work For Pearl Jam

emailI get letters...

Mike,

Hey - We do work for PJ and are trying to spread around this official widget. We'd love if you could post it on the site. Let me know, thanks!


Remembrance

poppyOn the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause and remember the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom and democracy during the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and during peacekeeping missions.

I've scoured my site for relevant entries. Here are some you may want to revisit today.

Here are some entries about Alfred Finley, a veteran and familiar face in Bloor West Village for many years.

And to those who served, or are serving this great country right now, I have one word: Thanks.


Maple Leafs 2, Wild 5

LeafsYou can't win them all. After we were blessed with a fabulous 7 game point streak and 2 game winning streak, the Leafs conceded to the mighty Minnesota Wild at home last night.

Despite the score, it actually got rather interesting at the end. With two Wild in the penalty box and THE MONSTER on the bench, we were down by 2 with a 3 man advantage. Alas, it was not to be.

At least we'll always have memories of those two successive victories when we were kings of the world.


Five Best Covers by Guns N' Roses

MusicIn the late 80s, I absolutely loved Guns N' Roses. I literally wore out my Appetite for Destruction cassette. I had to score both Use Your Illusion 1 and Use Your Illusion 2 the day they were released. For a few years at least, GNR was the best band on the planet.

This entry isn't about GNR, although they're a candidate for my next primer. This entry is about my five favourite cover songs by Guns N' Roses.

1. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" - Originally recorded by Bob Dylan

2. "Mama Kin" - Originally recorded by Aerosmith

3. "Hair of the Dog" - Originally recorded by Nazareth

4. "Live and Let Die" - Originally recorded by Wings

5. "Since I Don't Have You" - Originally recorded by The Skyliners


A Month Without Sugary Treats

calendarOn Halloween night, I think I consumed about 20 chocolate bars. They were those smaller sized bars for trick or treaters, but it was still 20. Both kids scored so much loot, I knew I'd be surrounded by chocolate for all of November.

I'm not particularly good at moderation. I know myself well enough that I'm aware of my weaknesses and limitations, and I figure I'd be good for about 10 sugary treats a day throughout the month of November. No, I don't believe I could stop at just one.

I decided on Halloween night to go the entire month of November without eating any candy, chocolate, cake, brownies, donuts or other sugary treats. It's been ten days, and my pledge is in tact. In fact, I'm surprised at how easy it's been, despite being surrounded by Halloween snacks at home and work.

You see, although I'm not particularly good at moderation, I kick ass at cold turkey tests of will power. Once I hit the switch, sugary treats were dead to me.


"No Interest" in Returning to Edge 102 Following Death of Martin Streek - Strombo

RadioMartin Streek took his own life in July. The last time I saw Martin, he was chumming around with his pal George Stroumboulopoulos at the Casby Awards. Here's a clip of them that night.

The first Sunday following Martin Streek's death, I tuned in 102.1 the Edge to hear The Strombo Show. I was hoping for a tribute of some kind. When 102.1 the Edge didn't air The Strombo Show and didn't utter Stroumboulopoulos's name, I asked aloud whether Strombo had quit Corus. I put on my detective badge and started to follow the clues.

Last Sunday, I noted that CFNY did not air the first Strombo Show following Martin Streek's death. I was speculating that perhaps Strombo, a good friend and fan of Martin, made this happen. His show did air on other Corus stations. I'm a big Strombo fan, and I was interested in his tribute to Streek. For my money, nobody could impart their passion for good music the way Streek and Strombo could.

In a new interview with CHARTattack to promote his new CBC Radio 2 show, Strombo has admitted that Streek's death played a role in his decision to leave Corus. Here's an except:

And to be honest, after [friend and colleague] Martin Streek died I had no interest in going back on The Edge [in Toronto]. So Corus was not the best place for me to be.

Radio may well be a business, where people are hired and fired all the time, but that doesn't mean it has to be entirely void of integrity. Strombo made a business decision with his heart, refusing to be a part of the machine that fired his friend after 20+ years of passionate service – his friend who literally had the station's call letters tattooed on his ass and remained one of the last links to the days at CFNY when spirit mattered. George took a stand and I admire the shit out of that.

Well done, George. Thanks for proving me right.


Five Years of Firefox

firefoxThe Mozilla folks are celebrating Five Years of Firefox. As they say over there, "that's a long time on the Internet, so let's celebrate five years of working together to make the Web better for everyone".

Firefox became my default browser in June 2004 when it was version 0.9. It remains my default browser today.


Santa Claus Parade Website Revamped

santaThe 105th Annual Santa Claus Parade is next Sunday, so I just made my annual visit to http://www.thesantaclausparade.ca/ to make sure the route and starting time hasn't changed. I haven't missed a Toronto Santa Claus Parade in several years, and I don't plan to miss it next Sunday.

You know what else is an annual tradition of mine? Complaining about the awful Santa Claus Parade website. Back in 2005 I wrote "Good Parade, Horrible Web Site" in which I complained about the brutal graphics and navigation. I begged for a new site, but that didn't happen.

In 2007 I wrote "The SantaClausParade.com Stays Sucky" and urged the organization to update their site. I even volunteered to do it for free. It was embarrassing.

santa

People of the GTA, I have good news. The official Santa Claus Parade website has been completely overhauled. That horrible FAQ page is a thing of the past, replaced by a completely new and improved one. It's no longer embarrassing to send your family and friends to www.thesantaclausparade.ca.

If you want to join me next Sunday, here's the route. It kicks off at 12:30pm, but you'll want to score your kids a good spot a whole lot earlier.

parade_map


Son of Rambow Review

Movie ReviewSon of Rambow: 6.5 out of 10.

Much like Where the Wild Things Are, which I saw the previous day, Son of Rambow is about the wonders of a child's imagination. It's a very cute and charming little British film about a sheltered boy who is shown a pirated copy of First Blood. That unleashes the creative filmmaker within.

It's a simple movie, but pleasing. Taking place in the early 80s, it has a great soundtrack with The Cure, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees and more. Heck, it's worth watching for the soundtrack and the prototypical French cool 80s guy alone.

son-of-rambow


Where the Wild Things Are Review

Movie ReviewWhere the Wild Things Are: 6.5 7 out of 10.

I've been looking forward to this Spike Jonze adaptation of Maurice Sendak's book since I first saw that great trailer featuring Arcade Fire's "Wake Up". But luke-warm reviews removed the urgency. Yesterday, on a rare afternoon without kids to care for and a free movie pass burning a hole in my wallet, my wife and I headed out to see the latest Coen brothers film, A Serious Man.

As it turned out, Saturday was the only day of the week A Serious Man wasn't playing at 3:55. A quick scan of the other films playing revealed very little I could stomach. Where the Wild Things won by default.

It's not as good as I had hoped, but it's not bad. The creatures look great and you're completely drawn into Max's world - which mainly serves to remind us adults that the world can be a pretty scary place for kids.

I'm glad we didn't take the kids. Where the Wild Things Are isn't a kids movie. It's all about remembering the insecurities, fears and abandonment issues shared by many a youngster. That's some scary shit.

When I first left the theatre, I thought this was a solid 7. The morning after, however, it's a 6.5. A 9 sentence book does not a 100 minute movie make.

where_the_wild_things_are_poster

Upon further reflection, we're back up to a 7/10.


Maple Leafs 5, Red Wings 1

LeafsNow that was fun. We didn't just beat the Red Wings tonight, we annihilated 'em.

For the first time this season, we have ourselves a winning streak. Not only have we won two in a row, but we've secured points in seven straight games. I'm now legally obligated to present you with this warning before continuing this recap.

warninglabel

Now that that business is complete, back to the celebration. Why are the Leafs suddenly competitive? Remember, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote this rant begging MLSE for real hope. What's different?

1. Goaltending - THE MONSTER (henceforth to be written in ALL CAPS at all times) is playing great, and when you get great goaltending, it's a totally different game. Vesa Toskala cannot be the #1 goalie for this team if we want to be competitive. THE MONSTER is so much better, it's almost enough on its own to give us hope.

2. The Kessel Factor - Phil Kessel is far and away the best offensive player on this team. He makes that big a difference., and he's making others, especially Blake and Mitchell, better. It's no coincidence that pucks are starting to fill the opposing net.

3. Don Cherry Was Right - This team needed some time to gel. I'm not convinced we're a playoff team, but I know we're a great deal better than that team that was winless after 8 games. We're starting to play as a unified unit, and with points #1 and #2 above, this could get interesting.

Our next victim is the lowly Wild on Tuesday night.


Get Your Goddamn Flu Shot, Fred

H1N1A little over a week ago, I suggested your personal decision to not get the H1N1 vaccination was selfish.

That's right. I think those who reject science and prefer to buy into silly conspiracy theories and urban legends and reject the free H1N1 flu shot are selfish. They're selfish because getting immunized means a person does not spread the illness to others. That's one less carrier walking around, shaking hands, touching public door knobs and TTC poles and spreading the virus.

With 54 comments, that entry seemed to strike a nerve with people, especially my pal Freddie P from Canadian Thinker. He wrote an entry about my stance in which he said he was "amazed" by what I had wrote. Freddie didn't hold back and let me have it.

It's a personal decision and certainly not something that should be criticized or lead to insults from people who are willing to buy into every flavour of the month.

If you want to throw the word selfish around, how about those bastards who showed up even though they knew they weren't eligible. And I wonder how many healthy people have actually contracted something while standing in one of those pathetic lineups.

If you're that worried about the virus put your house in lock-down or wear a flippin' mask when you leave the house.

There are 47 more comments over there. Hector wrote, "Well said Fred! I couldn't believe Mike's stance on this issue." Argie wrote, "I totally agree Freddie. Mike, I'm afraid, has a case of Torontoitis. This sickness is diagnosed as any person who follows, like a blind sheep, whatever the Toronto media preaches." And James Edgar wrote, "I usually side with Mike but this time he's off base."

I value Fred's opinion, as I do Hector's, Argie's and James Edgar's, but I stand by what I wrote. The more people who get the H1N1 flu shot, the less dead bodies there will be.

As I read the dead tree version of today's Globe, I couldn't help but notice a full-page letter to Canadians from Dr. David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. Dr. Butler-Jones outlines the government's plan to protect Canadians against the H1N1 flu virus.

IMG_0116

There was one line that spoke to my point about how not getting the vaccine is selfish. "The more Canadians who get vaccinated, the better we all are protected against the H1N1 flu virus".

quote

Without actually printing the word "selfish", Dr. David Butler-Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, has my back. It's a simple numbers game. The less people carrying the virus, the less people contracting the virus, the less deaths there will be.

Get your goddamn flu shot, Fred.


Maple Leafs 3, Hurricanes 2

LeafsBilled as The Battle For The Basement, the Leafs finally secured their second win of the season in their 14th game. As bad as that sounds, there's a sliver of hope. We've earned points in our past five games.

While we're on the subject of hope, isn't it great having a decent goaltender between the pipes? The Monster is living up to the hype and the team plays with a great deal more confidence when he's back there.

One more interesting footnote before I end this recap. I've caught parts of every Leafs game this season. I can only remember missing the 3rd period of two games, and those are our two wins. Last night, I was on the ice playing my own game when Blake scored the winner. I'm tempted to turn off the TV tonight after the second period, just to see what happens...

We're #29! We're #29!


Toronto Radio Ratings (Now with PPM!)

radioNow that we have Portable People Meter (PPM) technology, we have a better grasp of true Toronto radio ratings. Mondoville just tipped me off that David Bray has published the latest Toronto PPM figures for September 2009.

Toronto
% Share of Hours Tuned
(Mon.-Sun, 5a-1a)

Station A12+ W25-54 M25-54
  PPM
Oct  ‘09
PPM
Oct  ‘09
PPM
Oct  ‘09
CBC Radio Two 1.8 1.1 0.9
CBC Radio One 9.6 7.5 6.2
AM 640 Toronto 2.6 1.1 5.3
Classical 96.3 FM 4.2 1.6 1.2
102.1 The Edge 5.3 5.9 9.3
News Talk 1010 CFRB 4.4 1.4 4
680 News 8.4 6.9 7.9
Flow 93.5 1.7 1.2 3.3
AM 740  Prime Time Radio 2.8 0.2 0.3
98.1 CHFI-FM 12.1 14.2 7.4
CP24 Radio 1050 0 0.1 0
104.5 CHUM-FM 12.8 20.4 11.8
Z103.5 2.7 4 3.5
Q107 8.6 8.1 13.8
New Country 95.3 1.1 1.1 1.5
The FAN 590 2.9 1 5.7
97.3 EZ Rock 6.3 7.7 6.8
Jazz FM 91 1.7 0.7 0.7
88.5 The Jewel 1.2 0.7 0.2
Virgin Radio 99.9 6.7 11.6 7.1
KISS 92.5 1.8 2.1 2.1

Here are a few of my thoughts as I take in the numbers. David Bray has a nice September vs. October chart, btw.

What do you guys think?


Globe Interview About Raymi and Remembering Toronto 1

newpaperThe Globe and Mail is writing an article about fellow Toronto blogger Raymi and they had a few questions for me about her and her recent breakup. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true. The article should appear in tomorrow's Globe and we'll see if any of my quotes made the final cut. I got a juicy quote last time a Globe reporter chatted me up.

Coincidentally, exactly six years ago today, I wrote about my big break. A producer with Toronto 1 wanted me to appear on a Toronto Tonight panel regarding someone who believed Star Wars was their religion.

Remember Toronto 1? It's now SUN TV and it's still horrible.


Big League Chew

Big League ChewYouTube 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.

We chewed Big League Chew gum because it looked like chewing tobacco. In the early 80s, when I enjoyed Big League Chew, several ball players chewed tobacco and nothing was cooler than mimicking that awful, cancer causing habit.

A perfect complement to Popeye Cigarettes, another personal favourite as a young lad.



Leafs and Raptors Pregnant

BabyCongratulations are in order for the members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. They're all expecting!

I assume they're pregnant, because I know they're over the age of five, and they've all received their H1N1 vaccinations while the shots are reserved for high-priority groups. It's miraculous to consider one man becoming pregnant. Over 30 men becoming pregnant is something else entirely.

I want to be vaccinated as well, but as a healthy non-pregnant adult I'm not in the high-priority group so I have to patiently wait my turn. Ontario health minister Deb Matthews says we'll run out of the H1N1 vaccine before school-age children like my very own can be vaccinated.

But at least pregnant folks, like members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, can jump the line before the province’s supply dwindles. Good on them.

preggers


Hoop Dreams Fifteen Years Later

basketballHoop Dreams is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. I first saw it fifteen years ago after seeing it reviewed on Siskel & Ebert.

Here's the review that got me to invest 3 hours in Hoop Dreams, one of the best investments I've made.

Roger Ebert looks back upon Hoop Dreams on his blog. Here's an amazing detail I did not know until today. I still can't believe it.

The way seemed clear for an Academy Award as best documentary. Then a shameful thing happened. It wasn't even nominated by the Academy's documentary committee. We learned, through very reliable sources, that the members of the committee had a system. They carried little flashlights. When one gave up on a film, he waved a light on the screen. When a majority of flashlights had voted, the film was switched off. "Hoop Dreams" was stopped after 15 minutes.

If you've never seen Hoop Dreams, do yourself a favour and get a copy. Like Roger said, you owe it to yourself.


You Know That Part of the Movie, Where they Say the Name of the Movie?

moviesSometimes they say the name of the movie in the movie. Here's a nice montage of such moments in several films you know and love.

[via Videogum]


And the Yardworks Lawn Vacuum Goes To...

cantireCanadian Tire is giving one of you a $199.99 Yardwords Lawn Vacuum. The winner was randomly selected from the 68 comments left on this entry.

The winner is Alex with comment #6. After all, Ace Bailey's #6 jersey was the first ever to be retired by an NHL team.

Alex, I just sent you an email to get your shipping information. Congrats!

0603877___09_04624


I Was Sure HyperLists Would Take Off

hyperlinkAbout ten years ago, while learning HTML and practising the trade with a couple of websites, I had an idea. I called this idea "HyperLists" and I was sure it would take off.

HyperLists were simply "Top 10" lists in which each item on the list linked to the most relevant site on the web. Ten years ago there was no Google, no Wikipedia and no blogs. We had search engines, but they weren't quite as relevant as they are today. HyperLists weren't just interesting and fun (everyone loves lists!) but they served a purpose and I thought they'd make for a very interesting site.

I gave up on HyperLists around the time I changed this site into a blog about 7 years ago. There's very little evidence of my early efforts left on the web, but thanks to the Internet Archive, you can see a sample HyperLists page from early 2001.

ia

Not everything got archived correctly, the page's images didn't make it, but that's a taste of what could have been the next big web sensation.


Mississauga Retailers Pray for Toronto Sales Tax

MoneyYou've likely heard that Toronto city hall officials are considering a new Toronto Sales Tax. Why shouldn't the most expensive city in Canada gouge us a little more?

The new city sales tax, which would be applied to anything bought in Toronto, would be on top of provincial and federal taxes, and would need provincial approval. As a resident of Toronto, I promise we won't stand for a Toronto sales tax. It's not going to happen and it's a terrible idea.

I would do all of my shopping in Mississauga.


Nobody's Comparing Phil Kessel to Ovechkin or Crosby

notepadOpen letter to Bob McCown: Nobody is comparing Phil Kessel to Alexander Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby.

This morning I heard a promo for Bob McCown's Prime Time Sports on The Fan 590 in which he belittled Leafs fans for comparing Kessel to Ovechkin and Crosby. I chat up several Leaf fans a day, follow several more on Twitter and dive into the Barilkosphere frequently to read what's on the minds of fellow Maple Leaf fans, and I've never heard this once.

We're not stupid, Bobcat. We're hopeful, but not stupid.


My Thoughts on Google Wave: It's Complicated

XXXI've been beta testing Google Wave for about a month now, and... well... it's complicated.

I want to love Google Wave, because it's a bloody seductive premise, but it's just not intuitive enough for mass appeal. I'm one of those bleeding edge guys when it comes to web apps and I have a very hard time wrapping my feeble brain around Google Wave's advantage. I can't tell you how many folks I've been waving with who just throw up their arms and exclaim "I don't get it!". It's so hard to figure out, and life is so short...

And chatting via Wave is dangerous. Unlike every other IM that sends your message when you press "Enter", Wave sends each character over in real-time. Typos, mistakes and awkward pauses while you check your thesaurus or Wikipedia are fully exposed. It makes you not want to chat. How's that for improved communication?

Wave is supposed to be email were email invented today. It's very ambitious, but possibly too smart for its own good. Besides, Google has already re-invented email for the better. It's called Gmail.

complicated127


Fu-Schnickens - Ring The Alarm

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.

play Fu-Schnickens - Ring The Alarm
Yes, I owned F.U. Don't Take It Personal. That was the Fu-Schnickens' debut album.

If you ever want a good laugh, ask me to drop you some true Fuschnick rhymes.


Raised on Sesame Street

rewindI grew up on Sesame Street. I watched it daily as a toddler. In the mid-70s, it was the show for us kids.

I recently revisited the late-70s Sesame Street episodes that included Eleven Twelve, one of my favourite bits. Sesame Street became common ground for my kids and I, even though I continuously booed Elmo and Zooey when they appeared on the screen and openly complained that Snuffleupagus could now be seen by everyone, not just Big Bird.

My personal favourite memories of Sesame Street include that wonderful Camping in Canada cassette and my very favourite bit of all time, Cookie Monster as Casey McPhee getting that train through.

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street. Thanks to Google for tipping me off.

google


Maple Leafs 1, Lightning 2

leafsIt was Phil Kessel night in Toronto, and he didn't disappoint. He didn't score either, unfortunately, but he did record a career-high 10 shots on net. He was everywhere, showing a nose for the net no other Leaf possesses.

The script called for Kessel to score the winner in overtime, but he hit the crossbar instead. At least he survived the hit from Mattias Ohlund.

The glass half empty guy sez: 13 games in, we only have one win. That's disgraceful.

The glass half full guy sez: The loss-less streak has hit four. With The Monster playing great and Kessel firing on all cylinders, good things are right around the corner.


My Halloween Costume the Past 5 Halloweens

halloweenI've worn the same costume the past five Halloweens.

It's quite simple. All I do is wear my old school goalie mask à la Friday the 13th's Jason.

Halloween 2009

That mask is the genuine article. I plan to make it my Halloween costume every year I'm walking this earth.


My PVR Hit List These Days

tvI caved and got a PVR earlier this year. It has radically altered the way I watch television.

Other than live sporting events, everything else I watch is watched at my convenience after I've recorded it. I watch television when I'm ready to watch television, typically at about 10pm, and I fast forward all the commercials.

Here are the television programs I currently record and watch when I get a chance.

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • The Simpsons
  • The Cleveland Show
  • Family Guy
  • American Dad
  • 60 Minutes
  • The View From Here
  • The Passionate Eye
  • Modern Family
  • Glee (the kids like it, it bores me to tears when they're not singing)
  • The Office
  • 30 Rock
  • Californication
  • Dexter
  • Saturday Night Live

That's my current PVR hit list. When Lost starts up again, we'll throw that in the pile.


Every Nickelback Wikipedia Page Vandalism Ever

musicThe best and worst thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. When it comes to the Nickelback Wikipedia page, the vandalism is constant, intense and pretty damn funny.

Here's every Nickelback Wikipedia page vandalism, ever.

[via CollegeHumour]


Building a City That Thinks Like the Web

TorontoThis is pretty cool. Toronto is promising to build a city that thinks like the web.

The first step in this progressive initiative is OpenTO, the City of Toronto's official data set catalogue. At OpenTO you can access City data, get information about City data and the City's OpenTO initiative. As stated on the site, "The City of Toronto is committed to open, accessible and transparent government".

The first thing I did was dive into the data where I found such nuggets as a real time XML feed of City-sponsored events and festivals in the City and three published OGC compliant WMS services to facilitate access to live geospatial data from the City of Toronto.

That's a lot of data. Now we just have to figure out how to do something worthwhile with it all. But remember, kids... knowing is half the battle.


Poor Phil Kessel

LeafsI feel badly for Phil Kessel. Brian Burke paid a hefty price to bring Kessel to town, giving up a 1st and 2nd round draft pick in 2010 and another 1st round pick in 2011. The way this season is going, that 1st pick next year could easily be in the top three overall.

It's a pretty high price for a player who recorded his season high for goals last year with 36. He had Marc Savard feeding him last season. This season, he'll start on a line with Matt Stajan and Jason Blake. There is no Marc Savard on this team.

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see Kessel scoring 30 for the Leafs this season. I don't see Leaf fans being patient with a guy who cost us as much as Kessel cost us. The disappointment that is Jason Blake only cost us room under the salary cap. Kessel cost us cash, a 1st and 2nd round draft pick in 2010 and another 1st round pick in 2011. I don't see this going well at all.

Poor Phil Kessel...

kessel-run


Phoenix - 1901

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS22 consideration. I'm submitting "1901" by Phoenix.

I friggin' love this song. In fact, the entire Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix album it comes from is stellar.

If you're digging this tune like I am, download the MP3.


Don Mills Road Coyotes in NHL?

humourI just checked my 680 News RSS feed to see the latest headlines.

Here's a screen cap of the two items awaiting me.

coyotes


My Twitter DM Spam Episode

TwitterI have 1198 followers on Twitter. Earlier today, I sent a direct message to each and every one of them.

To clarify, I didn't intentionally send a DM to each of my followers, but a DM was sent to each from me claiming I had made $424.23 online today and that I make money with Google. These were spam messages and I have no idea how they were sent by me.

spam

I'm Googling the shite out of this, trying to figure out how my account was hacked. If anyone has any idea how these direct messages were sent from my account earlier today, I'd love to read about it in the comments.

And if I spammed you earlier today, I'm pleading ignorance.


In The Beginning... The Early Days of the Toronto Blog Scene

rewindLater this month, this blog will celebrate its 7th birthday. Seven years of constant blogging means this blog is older than the vast majority of blogs you read each day. Name a blog... I'll bet I beat it to the blogosphere.

I've had this site for ten years, and I remember well making the decision to turn the site into a blog. During the summer of 2002 I discovered a few blogs, back when the mainstream didn't know what a "blog" was, and it seemed ideal for my writing style. There weren't many blogs back then, and here in Toronto there were very, very few, but there was one local blog by a young woman who threw it all down online. She's still blogging today, and this entry is about her.

Raymi was also blogging in late 2002. I interviewed her back in 2005 and again in 2006. She's still blogging at raymitheminx.com, but lately her entries have seemed uninspired and forced. They've seemed... fake... highly unusual for someone so incredibly forthcoming and honest for years. Now we know why.

do you want to know the honest truth? i became ornamental and allowed it. i became alone and it felt normal. i gave up on myself, on being myself. i became callous. i forgot what romance was, passion. it got lost. real world stresses took it away and in its place we put booze and companionship and familiarity. thought we’d have the rest of our lives to work it out, he did. he feels that was such a gaff, and i agree. i said (and am saying way too much now) you are going to lose me and not even notice. the last two weeks of it, personal shit (though there was always something), were very fucking hard on the both of us, for two different reasons. the short of it is i could no longer tolerate being shut out emotionally, my spirit had had enough. i actually once daily said to myself the words i want to die. over-melodramatic words, that i meant, but i could never do that. but daily i felt it. i think i even said it to a few deaf ears. i know i did.

Her entry today about the demise of her relationship with her fiancée is why we're glad Raymi still blogs. It's real. It's honest. It's raw.

Throw it all down, Raymi. Throw it all down...


October 2009 Organic Keywords

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

  1. sandra rinomato breasts
  2. toronto mike
  3. party playlist
  4. party playlist 2009
  5. wedding songs 2009
  6. prima tv
  7. torontomike
  8. fearless fred
  9. big shiny tunes 2
  10. difference between cold and h1n1

That last search term is interesting. People are searching for the differences between the common cold and H1N1 in so many different ways, it's amazing one term cracked the top ten.

In October alone, 1,239 different search terms contained the expression "H1N1". Here are the top ten "H1N1" keywords that brought visitors to this site last month.

  1. difference between cold and h1n1
  2. h1n1 clinics in toronto
  3. h1n1 clinics toronto
  4. h1n1 flu clinics toronto
  5. difference between h1n1 and cold
  6. know the difference between a cold and h1n1 flu symptoms
  7. difference between cold and h1n1 flu
  8. h1n1 vaccine clinics in toronto
  9. h1n1 flu symptoms
  10. difference between a cold and h1n1

P.S. I'm now officially in the market for a photo of Sandra Rinomato's breasts. Contact me if you have such a picture.


Viktor Stalberg Sends Message to Brian Burke #marlies

marliesMy son and I spent the afternoon at the Marlies game watching us beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-2 in American Hockey League action. Driving to the game, we planned to focus on three Marlies: Viktor Stalberg, Christian Hanson and Tyler Bozak.

Bozak was scratched with the flu, so our eyes were set on Stalberg and Hanson. We watched each of them score a pair and Stalberg added a couple of assists. It was the Stalberg show all afternoon as if he was sending Leafs general manager Brian Burke a loud and clear message. Burke was at the Ricoh Coliseum as well, and I hope he was taking notes.

As cool as it would be to watch Stalberg from the front row of Marlies games all season, he should be a Leaf. He will be a Leaf. Hanson's looking like he wants another shot with the big club as well.

After Hanson scored the opening goal, I asked my son about it. This clip gives you a gander at our regular seats for Marlies games.

More pics and vids are in the photoset.


Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father Review

Movie ReviewDear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: 9 out of 10.

"Dear Zachary" is a documentary by Kurt Kuenne for the son of his close friend Andrew Bagby who was murdered by Newfoundlander Shirley Jane Turner. It is the best film I've seen this year.

Watching "Dear Zachary" was emotionally exhausting, because the brilliant frenetically paced editing took us on a journey so twisted, so unexpected and so unbelievable, it starts to feel like fantastic crime fiction. But it's real. It's very, very real. And it's chilling.

As a Canadian, it's tough to watch parts of this doc in which our judicial system, particularly in Newfoundland, comes across as a catalyst for disaster. But the facts speak for themselves.

For several reasons, the contents of this film will stick with me for some time. There's the life of Andrew Bagby, Zachary, and Andrew's incredible parents, David and Kate Bagby, the true stars of this remarkable film.

dear_zachary



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