December 2013 Archives

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2013 Was an Amazing Year

2013 Was an Amazing YearIn 2011, almost everything in my life changed dramatically. There were changes in regards to where I live, where I work, my romantic life and just about everything in between. 2011 was a year of great change, but 2012 was amazing.

Looking back, I'm pleased to say everything was fantastic again in 2013. What happened to me in 2013?

I Got Married
On June 15, at an art gallery in the Distillery District, I married Monica. We were surrounded by great people with great music and just the right sprinkle of controversy.

I Impregnated My Wife
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jarvis Henry in the baby carriage. Jarvis is due in April.

I Bought A New House
We looked long and hard for the right neighbourhood to settle into for the long haul, and we found it. We moved into our new home (it's actually very old, but new to us!) in early September and we love it. I don't ever want to move again.

I Visited Europe Twice
In March, I visited Frankfurt, and in September I visited Amsterdam, Italy and Iceland. It was awesome.

I Created My Own Podcast Studio
With the help of audio guru Andrew Stoakley, I purchased and assembled my own podcast recording studio. From the comforts of my own home I can now record podcasts giving me full control of the entire process. It's been great fun.

I Had a Blast
Whether it was taking Michelle to her first concert, cottaging in Muskoka, camping at The Pinery, golfing at a resort, biking daily, visiting Banff, Europe or just enjoying this great city with friends and family, 2013 was fun. I'm a very lucky guy.

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Happy New Year, everyone.

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Last Open Mike of 2013

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet in 2013

Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet in 2013While I'm knee-deep in Google Analytics for this site in 2013, I thought it would be interesting to see how people are visiting Toronto Mike these days.

This site is 11-years old, so there was a time when 100% of visitors came from a desktop / laptop. Today, that's definitely not the case.

Here are the stats for desktop, mobile and tablet visitors to this site in 2013:

  1. Desktop - 60.72%
  2. Mobile - 30.49%
  3. Tablet - 8.79%

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Top Browsers in 2013

Top Browsers in 20132013 was the year of the Mac with a big change in the browser rankings.

Here are the browsers used by visitors to this site in 2013:

  1. Safari - 27.83%
  2. Chrome - 25.10%
  3. Internet Explorer - 18.08%
  4. Firefox - 13.14%
  5. Android Browser - 7.04%

There was a time when Internet Explorer absolutely dominated these rankings...

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The Waterville Gang

The Waterville GangAs I just mentioned, few unauthorized YouTube clips survive the years with one pleasing exception. Retrontario's clips have held up extremely well, which pleases this home-grown 70s child.

Here's the opening of The Waterville Gang, a CTV show from the early 70s starring Billy Van. Thanks, Retrontario!


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YouTube Cleansing

YouTube CleansingThe first time I embedded a YouTube video on this blog was February 4, 2006 when I shared Brokeback to the Future. Since then, I've embedded over 1000 YouTube videos, and over the years many of those have been yanked from YouTube for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes it's a claim from the copyright holder, other times it's because the uploader closed his/her account or marked it private, and sometimes the videos simply won't play in Canada. This has created a great deal of dead videos in the archives, so I had some cleaning to do.

I've always tried to go light on YouTube clips, which I once called "the blogger's crutch", but I still had a whack of crap to clean up. I wonder what older more YouTube-dependent blogs do? I'll bet they do nothing...

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29 Unanswered Questions for Rob Ford

29 Unanswered Questions for Rob FordCBC Radio's Day 6 with Brent Bambury aired their year-end episode this morning and named Rob Ford their newsmaker of the year. In honour of the occasion, they assembled a list of unanswered questions from reporters following the story.

You can hear these questions asked here or read them below.

Don Peat, The Toronto Sun:

1. Do you not feel shame about what you have done?

2. What happened the night and early morning of April 20 at 15 Windsor?

3. What makes you think Toronto residents will ever trust you again enough to re-elect you in 2014?

4. Why won't you speak to Toronto Police investigators?

5. What does getting high on crack cocaine feel like?

Christie Blatchford, The National Post:

6. How could you have said, in front of all those TV cameras, what you did about your wife? Do you have any idea how coarse you sounded? And why did you then and do you always, offer a quick "I apologize" and expect to be immediately forgiven?

7. Do you have any friends who don't have criminal records and, without naming them, who are they in a general way?

8. Why do you think losing weight is your biggest challenge given your acknowledged binge drinking and occasional drug use?

Jonathan Goldstein, Wiretap, CBC Radio:

9. When was the moment you realized this whole thing might have gotten away from you?

Robyn Doolittle, The Toronto Star:

10. At the end of the so-called crack video, you look directly at the person filming and say: "That better not be on." What happened next?

11.  Wiretaps suggest you offered the dealer $5000 and a car in exchange for the footage and that he intended on asking you for between $100,000-$150,000. Were you being extorted?

12. If you had never gone into politics, what do you think your life would look like right now?

Jackson Proskow, Municipal Affairs Reporter, Global News:

13. What was in those packages you exchanged with Sandro Lisi?

14. How did you come to know the people who provided you with crack cocaine?

15. Have you ever drank or used drugs at work?

Greg McArthur, The Globe and Mail:

16. Between May 16 and 18, less than 48 hours after the Star and Gawker published stories about you smoking crack cocaine, 13 phone calls were made to Sandro Lisi from phones belonging to you. What did you discuss with him? Why did you need to speak with him so many times?

17. Over that same period Mr. Lisi also made a number of phone calls to two alleged drug dealers who had a copy of the video. Toronto police say that over those two days, Mr. Lisi told them they would harmed if they didn't hand over the video. What did Mr. Lisi tell you about his conversations with the accused drug dealers?

18. During those two days, Mr. Lisi also made five phone calls to the home of Fabio Basso, your longtime friend who lives in the alleged "crackhouse" where the video was made. And on May 21st, three days after he called Mr. Basso, someone burst into that home and assaulted Mr. Basso and his family members. Since then, have you spoken to Mr. Basso? If so, what did he say about the attack? If not, why not.

Jayme Poisson, The Toronto Star:

19. Mayor Ford, after the mass shooting on Danzig St. in 2012, you said that you had declared "war" on gangs in this city. On Project Traveller wiretaps, alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods street gang describe several situations involving you and drugs. The men who tried to sell the now notorious "crack video" are also alleged members of this gang, and are now facing gun and drug trafficking charges. Can you give us a complete and honest account of your association and dealings with these alleged Dixon City Blood gang members?

20. Did you, or anyone associated with you, offer $5,000 and a car or any other reward in exchange for videos or photos documenting your drug use?

Kevin Donovan, Toronto Star:

21. Mayor Ford, from the moment I saw the video of you smoking crack cocaine I have had a nagging question. Who is the man, a friend it seems, who is loudly goading you off camera into making rude, racially charged and homophobic statements? What is the name of that person?

22. Mayor Ford, when the Toronto Star exposed your involvement with Sandro Lisi, who had tried to retrieve the video and who had told people he was your drug dealer, you pointedly told the world you do not "throw my friends under the bus." Was this a message to Mr. Lisi in the hope that he would not turn police informant on you?

23. Mayor, you have described yourself as a family man and the best father there is. Do you think it was wise to have Sandro Lisi, a man convicted of threatening to kill a young woman, attend a child's soccer game? Would you please tell us what Mr. Lisi gave you that day and what you gave him in return.

24. Mayor Ford, many of the people you surround yourself with have criminal records, some for drugs, some for violence. Do you intentionally seek these people out and if so, for what reason?

George Stroumbolopoulos, George Stroumbolopoulos Tonight:

25. Why is your brother always there in interviews?

26. If you were in City Council and a Mayor acted like you did, would you call for their resignation?

Natalie Alcoba, The National Post:

27. Mayor Ford, your former press secretary, George Christopoulos, told police that you said you knew Anthony Smith, the man pictured with you in the notorious photo taken outside 15 Windsor Road. Smith was a suspected member of the Dixon City Bloods who was gunned down outside a down-town nightclub in March. You've commented on the photo before - but I want to ask you specifically, did you know Anthony Smith? Do you know anything about why Anthony Smith was killed?

28. Mayor Ford, since you were elected, how often did you go to the house on Windsor Road that police believe to be a crack house? What did you do there?

Mary Walsh, This Hour Has 22 Minutes

29. Why do you always lie first and tell the truth later, why not simplify your life and tell the truth first?

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10 Celebrity Deaths of Significance in 2013 (According to Me)

  1. Nelson Mandela, Dead at 95
  2. Stompin' Tom Connors, Dead at 77
  3. Roger Ebert, Dead at 70
  4. Lou Reed, Dead at 71
  5. Stan Musial, Dead at 92
  6. James Gandolfini, Dead at 51
  7. Marcia Wallace, Dead at 70
  8. Jonathan Winters, Dead at 87
  9. Jean Stapleton, Dead at 90
  10. Rita MacNeil, Dead at 68

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Buick Encore: My Ice Storm Sleigh

Buick Encore: My Ice Storm SleighLittle did I know last Friday, when I picked up a 2014 Buick Encore for a test drive, that it would be my ice storm sleigh. Appropriate for the season, it was red, and in some ultra slippery conditions, it got us where we needed to be without a problem.

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Nature gave us ice which gave me a chance to test Buick's StabiliTrak® stability control system. It totally rocked, but with 10 airbags, I felt safe enough even if something did go wrong. 10 airbags is a lot.

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I'll write more about this Buick Encore before I return it next week, but here's a fun shot of the rearview camera following the ice storm.

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Flyer Trojan Horse

Flyer Trojan HorseWhen Canada Post announced they were going to stop door-to-door delivery, it sparked quite the conversation. Many, including me, remarked that most of what we receive in the mail is junk mail.

While this is true, most of my junk mail does not come from Canada Post. The vast majority of junk mail delivered to my home arrives in a Trojan horse called "The Guardian".

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The Guardian is the local paper we get each week in southwest Toronto. I believe all of Etobicoke gets it, and it includes hyper local stories that are sometimes interesting. I learned more about this year's Lake Shore Santa Claus parade from The Guardian than I did online.

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Inside this tiny local newspaper are dozens and dozens of flyers. The paper is about 12 pages and the ads are at least 20x that. Canada Post doesn't deliver most junk mail in our neighbourhood, the poor young Guardian delivery person does.

When Canada Post made their big announcement earlier this month, I'm sure the Guardian folks cheered aloud. I suspect the Trojan horse will contain a few more Greeks in the coming years.... Watch out, Troy!

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Friday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day. I'm sorry it's late, but I completely forgot it was Friday.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Christmas Day Nature in Toronto

Christmas Day Nature PicsYesterday was a great day for a walk and to see how Etienne Brule Park survived the ice storm. Here are a few pictures I took from a perfect day.

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The Heartbeat of My Unborn Son - Merry Christmas!

Merry ChristmasOn Friday, I got to hear the heartbeat of my unborn son. My wife recorded it so I could share it here.

It's strong... which is the best Christmas gift I could ask for. I'll be spending today with the people I care about most. My hope for you is that you're able to do the same.

Merry Christmas to all!

Download the MP3 here.

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Christmas Eve Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's very festive Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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A Festivus for the Rest of Us

Snow FlakeI want to wish each and every one of you a very happy Festivus. For those who don't know what Festivus is, there are three easy to follow steps:

  1. "Get the pole out of the crawl space". Or go out and buy one. Remember, it should be aluminium, due to the "very high strength-to-weight ratio". Remember, "it requires no decoration". Tinsel is "distracting".
  2. "The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances... At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year."
  3. After dinner, it is time for the "Feats of Strength". Remember, Festivus is not over until someone is pinned.

The origin of Festivus was explained nicely by Frank Costanza in the Seinfeld episode "The Strike". Here's his exchange with Cosmo Kramer.

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born . . . a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must've been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.

Here's everything you need to know. Happy Festivus everyone!


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It's Icy in Toronto

thermometerThis is my first winter in my new home in southwest Toronto. I was told the effect of being so close to Lake Ontario was cooler summers and warmer winters. I'm assuming that's why we've been spared the worst of this Toronto ice storm.

Don't get me wrong, it's icy out there... it's just not nearly as icy as I'd expected after reading everyone's tweets this morning. We never lost power and it's a little warm to call the sidewalks and roads a skating rink, although the car windows do need a good scraping.

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How is the ice where you are?

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Thoughts After Watching Love Actually for the First Time

Thoughts After Watching Love Actually for the First TimeEvery year as Christmas approaches, I hear about people watching Love Actually. It seems to have become an annual holiday classic, like A Christmas Story and It's A Wonderful Life. Last night, I watched Love Actually for the very first time.

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It was cute and funny and had a wonderful cast. I could watch Bill Nighy in anything and enjoy it. When asked via Twitter what I thought, I surmised it in one word.

Then, last night, while lying in bed with my wife who had just watched Love Actually for the second time, I started asking questions. These questions and thoughts, naturally, contain spoilers.

  • Didn't Colin Firth's character skip a rather important step? Sure, the Portuguese woman looks good in her underwear, but is that enough to propose marriage? Shouldn't you have at least one conversation before taking that plunge?
  • That guy obsessed with his buddy's new wife, Keira Knightley. That's super creepy, right? Yes, Keira Knightley is very attractive, but it's clear he'll only love her forever because she's hot. They've never had a conversation, after all, and if he wasn't attractive, I'm sure she'd have a restraining order out on the guy.
  • Yes, Prime Minister Hugh Grant is single, but it's still inappropriate for him to start making out with a member of the staff. It's quite the position of power he holds over her. And I get the joke that everyone calls her chubby (she's not) but it wasn't funny. It was actually a little disturbing.
  • Speaking of not being funny, the British guy who went to Milwaukee to get laid immediately bedded four incredibly hot chicks. I realize this is the fun joke, but it fit right in with the ridiculous theme of this movie. It's not Love Actually, it's Lust Actually.
  • I loved the interaction between Liam Neeson and his stepson, as well as when his stepson pursued his crush, but hooking Liam up with the most beautiful woman on the planet (Claudia Schiffer) just reinforced the obvious confusion between love and lust with the only exception being the couple who met filming the porno. That surprisingly seemed sweet and sincere.
  • And finally, there's the plotline that might have been the most serious and the most confusing to me. Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson are faced with a serious violation of trust when he gifts a necklace to the saucy minx who works for him. I still have no idea how this ended when she meets him at the airport with their two kids. Did they work it out? Did they end the marriage? Are they staying together for the kids? If you know, let me know in the comments.

In conclusion, Love Actually was indeed a cute, funny film with a great cast. It's not as good as Four Weddings and a Funeral, but cut from the same cloth.

It's not about love, however, and I don't see it as a Christmas classic I'd want to watch every year at this time. In fact, I feel I've had my full.

I'll stick with A Christmas Story.

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Daily Photo: Wreath by Humber River

Daily Photo: Wreath by Humber RiverWhile walking along the Humber River in Etienne Brule Park I saw someone had affixed a Christmas wreath to a tree. It looked awfully festive surrounded by nature so I thought I'd take a pic.

Etienne Brule Park

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Friday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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What Makes You Happy?

What Makes You Happy?During today's bike ride, I started thinking how happy it made me. Rain, shine or snow, I love jumping on my bike and going for a ride. It's a chance to get outside, get some exercise, and solve the world's problems.

Then I started thinking of other things that make me happy. I was happy playing Jeopardy with my wife last night. I know I'll be happy skating with the kids tonight. I was happy to learn my buddy Mike will be home for Christmas. Lots of things make me happy.

Even little things make me happy. I was happy hearing someone say they enjoyed my Christmas podcast so much they shared it with friends and family. It always makes me happy to see people I genuinely like, and nothing beats a good conversation over good food and/or coffee. Generally speaking, I'm a very happy guy.

I have one simple question for all of you and I'm hoping you'll take a moment to answer. What makes you happy?

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Solar Power in Ontario

Solar Power in OntarioLongtime readers of this blog will remember Blackberry Ry. Ryan was a staunch defender of all things Blackberry and was even nice enough to lend me a Blackberry Playbook.

Ryan's no longer with Blackberry and is now working with the sun. I'll let him explain further in this guest blog entry he wrote.

I am solar (And so can you!) – Solar power in Ontario

I’m Ryan - that guy who used to work for BlackBerry. I work in the solar industry now.

Mike asked me to write up a guest post – with Saturday being the winter solstice (the shortest day in the year) it's probably a bad day to talk about solar... but it’s always a good day to talk about clean green energy.

There are a lot of questions about solar and a few myths… I just wanted to share my newly minted solar installation as well as answer some common questions.

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So these are solar panels. They convert radiation from the sun into DC power…the same type of power that starts your car or powers your cell phone.

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These are inverters. They take the DC power and turn it into AC power – the same type of power that comes out your wall sockets. This power is then sent into the electricity grid.

One of the most common questions I get about the system is – Do you have a hydro bill anymore? Yes, I still have a standard hydro bill. My installation went in under the Ontario Power Authority’s microFIT program… FIT meaning Feed-In-Tariff. Under this program, my home is essentially a very small power plant. I produce and sell electricity to my Local Electric Company at a fixed rate for 20 years. I have 2 electric meters on the side of my house – one for the solar generation and one for the power my home uses.

There are 2 other ways to put solar on your home – net metering and off-grid.

Off grid as some would know is where you are disconnected completely from the utility and use a system of batteries, solar panels, various controllers and even a propane generator for those cloudy days.

Net metering is where your electric meter would run forwards and backwards – forwards when the sun is down and backwards when the sun is up. This is the system where you offset or eliminate your hydro bill.

The controversy in solar started with the introduction of the Green Energy Act and the original rate that was set.

The original rate for the microFIT program was 80.2c/kWh – which at the time was about 10 times higher than you and I were paying for power. At that time a solar installation cost about $60,000 to $80,000. The rate was reflective of the cost of a solar installation plus giving a decent return on the buyer’s investment. This has changed and so have the rates. Now a solar installation will cost about $30,000 for the same size installation – less than ½ price of the original installation. Accordingly, the feed-in-tariff rate has dropped. New contracts received a rate of 39.6c/kWh – about 3 times what we all pay. Larger projects (anything which is greater than 10kW) receive an even lower rate.

So now that we're past the controversy (I can't wait to see the comments!)… let’s talk about the benefits of putting solar on your roof – for you and for Ontario.

Obviously, it’s a good feeling producing green energy. Making some money is nice as well – we have customers that have used solar as an RRSP plan or RESP plan! There are so many benefits outside of this.

Solar is a peaking power – that means when energy usage is highest, Solar is outputting at its highest.

This helps level off the price of electricity during the day – especially in the summer(and if you want to confirm that, just ask the IESO). Another benefit of solar power is how it benefits the electricity grid. In areas which are far away from a big generation plant – like Bruce Power or Niagara Falls – solar power can postpone upgrades to the transmission lines which saves money that us taxpayers would otherwise have to spend.

Solar power is one of the cleanest energies we have – this is something we can all agree on. When a solar plant explodes or experiences a catastrophe, you just have a bunch of glass, silicon, plastic, metals and wire to clean up. When you have catastrophes at some of the other energy producers you have long term real consequences to face. I’m not saying that solar should be the exclusive energy producer anywhere in the world – this is not practical. I just want to pass some knowledge to the great people who read this blog.

I look forward to your comments!

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The $1.56 Balaclava

The $1.56 BalaclavaWhen the weather started to dip in early November, I hit the market looking for a good balaclava.

I picked one up at Mark's Work Warehouse, which was just fine until the temps dipped again. At that point, I started preferring a fleece balaclava from Costco. That's the one I wore today.

During this balaclava accumulation period, I bought one online via Amazon.ca. After taxes and shipping the grand total cost of this balaclava was $1.56 CAD.

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It took over a month to arrive from China, but here it is.

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I'll likely never wear it, because I have two better balaclavas, but it still blows my mind how little this thing cost. Now there's a razor-thin margin!

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Humble and Fred's New Studio

Humble and Fred's New StudioI biked over to Humble and Fred's new studio this morning to check out their new digs. It's in the same Thirtieth Street building, but it's one floor lower and much better space.

Here are some pics I took. You can hear me on today's show here.

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Hanging with Toddy Tickles on Humble and Fred @iamtoddytickles @humblefredradio

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The new studio is definitely an upgrade @humblefredradio

By the way, they're having an open house Friday morning if anyone wants to drop by between 7am and 9am. It's the first left at the top of the stairs when you get to 146 Thirtieth Street.

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Ford DANCES!



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Orange Chocolate Sucks

Orange Chocolate SucksA guest brought Laura Secord chocolates with her when she visited Saturday night. We love Laura Secord chocolates.

Orange Chocolate

Except the orange chocolate. Orange chocolate sucks.

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That Time Pepsi Tried to Change the Way We Cheer for Canada

That Time Pepsi Tried to Change the Way We Cheer for CanadaExactly four years ago today, I wrote about "The Pepsi Cheer".

The entry is below, and it turned out I wasn't the only one offended by the campaign. I did interviews and everything, and eventually we won. Pepsi killed their cheer.

If you've watched any hockey lately, you've likely seen the ads for Cheer Nation. Pepsi seems to think the voices of Hockey Canada's fans need to be united with an official cheer. They've unveiled this new cheer under the marketing banner "Cheer Nation".

I've got several issues with this. Let's see... where should I begin...

The Premise is Faulty
Team Canada hockey fans don't need to be united. We are united. It's not broken and certainly doesn't need fixing. As my Twitter buddy @vinaymenon said, Cheer Nation reminds us all of New Coke and other forced marketing gimmicks.

The Cheer is Shitty
The cheer, in case you've missed it, is Eh! O' Canada Go!. That's awful. I'd be embarrassed to be caught saying that in public. I think I'll stick with the tried and true. Ca-Na-Da! Ca-Na-Da!

We Aren't Owned by a Multinational Corporation
PepsiCo, Incorporated is in the business of selling carbonated and non-carbonated beverages. There's nothing wrong with that, but this "Cheer Nation" moniker and the cheer itself is theirs. Hockey Canada fans are not sheep. We'll be cheering for Team Canada, but not for Pepsi.

And one more thing before I leave this topic for good. Pepsi promises the names of the first million fans to join 'Cheer Nation' in support of the cheer will be displayed in Hockey Hall of Fame. Thank you, PepsiCo for devaluing that hallowed hockey shrine with one fell swoop. I can't imagine anything minimizing the accomplishing of being displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame quite like that.

You can keep your Cheer Nation. I'm not chanting for Pepsi.

Ca-Na-Da! Ca-Na-Da!

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Tuesday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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NHL Fan Distribution Map

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[via Reddit]

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Dean Blundell Show Suspension: 5 Possible Outcomes

Dean Blundell Show Suspension: 5 Possible OutcomesWith Dean Blundell suspended following their most recent controversy, I've been receiving a number of emails, Tweets and comments chock full of speculation. Here are 5 possible outcomes.

1. Window Dressing

The likeliest outcome of all is that Dean Blundell returns to host the 102.1 morning show early in 2014. He was likely going to take a couple of weeks off anyway, so sending him on vacation early and calling it a suspension is just window dressing to make it look like Corus takes this very, very seriously.

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2. Fearless Fred

It's possible that Dean Blundell is now costing Corus too much money, and a move is in order. You could slide me in that spot and hardly miss a beat, but Corus is more likely to hand Fearless Fred the keys.

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3. Adam and Billie

Derek Welsman, Sunshine Marlowe and Adjwoa may have already been terminated, and Dean could be next. That would leave Billie as the sole remaining cog of the DBS wheel who could be joined by Adam. Adam and Billie in the mornings?

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4. All Country

In a shocking move, 102.1 The Edge could leave the alternative rock format in the capable hands of Indie88 and bring country music back to Toronto. When 102.1 goes all country, Bill Welychka will be their new morning man.

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5. Humble and Fred

Humble and Fred were the morning show on 102.1 before Dean Blundell took over. They're available to slide right back into their old spots and it will be just as if the 2000s never happened.

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Just kidding about that last one. I'd get the gig before Humble and Fred.

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Toronto Mike'd Christmas - 10 Great Xmas Songs

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 59In this 59th episode, Mike plays 10 of his favourite Christmas songs and shares a story or two about each one. This episode is exactly 38:33.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

toronto-miked-christmas

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Peter O'Toole, Dead at 81

In MemoriumPeter O'Toole was 81. He was the actor who found stardom in David Lean's masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia.

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Daily Photo: Distillery District at Christmas

Daily Photo: Distillery District at ChristmasI enjoyed an excellent meal with wonderful friends last night in the Distillery District. Afterwards, I felt like a kid again running in the cold surrounded by the giant Christmas tree and festive lights.

Xmas cheer in the Distillery District

More Distillery District Christmasyness

It was my first visit to the Distillery District since getting married there this past summer.

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Friday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Daily Photo: Lake Ontario from New Toronto

Daily Photo: Lake Ontario from New TorontoWhile biking west on the Colonel Samuel Smith Park trial, I had to get off my bike and snap this photo of the sun peaking through and reflecting off the newly frozen ice.

Lake Ontario from New Toronto

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 58

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 58In this 58th episode, Mike and his wife unveil the name of their unborn son. This episode is exactly 30:03.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

Happy Birthday, Cheryl!The first comment left on this blog by Cheryl was "I want to say I am happy. I live in Toronto, but am a Habs fan. That's just the way it is. I love my Habs and I also like the Phoenix Coyotes. I hate the Leafs." That was November 1, 2009, and little has changed.

Cheryl still lives in Toronto, is still a Habs fan, still hates the Leafs, and I hope she's having a happy birthday today.

cheryl

For the visually impaired, the image above is George Smitherman wishing his #1 supporter a very happy birthday.

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Fordtacular Spectacular!



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Will You Miss Door-to-Door Mail Delivery?

Will You Miss Door-to-Door Mail Delivery?Working from home, I hear the clank of our letter box closing after a visit from Canada Post. It's usually around 2pm and as soon as I hear it I scurry down the stairs to see what I've been left.

Since I moved into this home over three months ago, the mail delivered to my door breaks down as follows:

  • 50% junk mail
  • 25% mail for previous residents
  • 20% banking statements for my wife
  • 5% mail for me
  • 0% personal mail, other than a thank you card if we attended a wedding or shower

Canada Post has announced it is phasing out door-to-door delivery of regular mail over the next five years. For many reading this, you're already making a short trek to community mailboxes. Soon, I'll know what that's like.

I won't miss door-to-door mail delivery, because I already get and pay my invoices online and all personal communication I get is either in person, on the phone or via email / Twitter / Facebook or other digital means. I just hope there's a big recycling bin by my community mailbox so I don't have to lug all the junk mail home.

How about you? Will you miss door-to-door mail delivery?

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CBC and You in 1990

CBC and You in 1990Speaking of 1990, this CBC Television ad from 1990 is the most 1990ish thing on the web.

[via Retrontario]

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Biking This Winter Until I Can't

Biking Until I Can'tI normally don't bike this late into fall. Even when I biked regularly as a much younger man, I would usually give it up for the season in early November.

This year, I've decided to bike until I can't. That means no matter what the temperature, or how much snow and ice I see on the ground, I get out there and try. If I can't do it, I just go home and try again the next day. But I always try.

I've yet to miss a day this season. I've managed to ride at least 13km each weekday this month and last. Just yesterday, however, I was reminded as to why I haven't done this in the past.

Screen shot 2013-12-11 at 10.24.13 AM

While biking through Marie Curtis Park, which starts in Toronto and ends in Mississauga, I hit a patch of ice on a turn and completely wiped out. I wasn't hurt, just reminded that ice is slippery and dangerous for cyclists.

But I'll be going out there again today. I've designed a route with very little interaction with the true dangers out there: trucks, buses, and cars. If I catch a little ice on a park trail at least I know I'll live to write about it.

The Bike

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The Power of Song

The Power of SongI caught an interesting discussion on CBC Radio this morning about the power of music as therapy. Music can be used to soothe and revitalize those suffering from dementia, for example.

A popular example of this can be seen in this clip of Henry that made the rounds a few years ago.

The music therapist said they were experiencing the most success with the music one enjoyed most as a young person in their late teens. For me, that would be the very early 90s. In the very early 90s, my go-to musical acts were:

  • Nirvana
  • Pearl Jam
  • Public Enemy
  • The Tragically Hip
  • Soundgarden
  • Beastie Boys

Even today I feel a sense of revitalization when I hear a tune I was cranking on my Walkman back in '92. Start a cut from Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet and I'll finish it for you. Play me the opening chords from Pearl Jam's Porch and I become Eddie Vedder.

It's the power of song. There's nothing like it.

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Tuesday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Roy Halladay is Not Retiring as a Blue Jay

Roy Halladay is Not Retiring as a Blue JayRoy Halladay announced his retirement today, but not as a Blue Jay. He retires as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

I realize he signed a one-day free-agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays before announcing his retirement, but that's just pr spin. The fact of the matter is we traded him to the Phillies back in 2009 and that's where he played his final game.

Roy Halladay is not only the greatest starting pitcher in Blue Jays history, he is also the classiest man to ever don the uniform. We were lucky to have him and he deserves to have his name on the Level of Excellence as soon as is logistically possible.

What an unbelievably inspiring career. Thanks, Roy, even though you did not retire as a Blue Jay.

More on Roy Halladay:

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Non-Snarky Questions for Those Who Believe in God

Non-Snarky Questions for Those Who Believe in GodI was accused of being snarky in my last entry. I probably was being a little snarky, but this entry is snark-free.

I have some basic questions for those who believe in god. These questions aren't intended to belittle, I'm sincerely interested in your answers.

  • If your friend had cancer, would you pray for this cancer to go away?
  • Do you believe god gets involved to a point where he could take this cancer away? In other words, can praying work?
  • If the cancer doesn't go away, is that because god wanted that to be the case and that this happened for a greater reason?

I'd truly appreciate it if those of you who believe took a moment to answer these questions.

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Where's Your Messiah Now, John Salmons?

Where's Your Messiah Now, John Salmons?The Toronto Raptors made a big trade yesterday. Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy have been traded to the Sacramento Kings for guard Greivis Vasquez, swingman John Salmons and forwards Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.

With John Salmons now a Raptor, you have to wonder what god thinks of all this. Back in 2006, Salmons walked away from a verbal deal with the Raptors because of god.

Originally, I felt like I had to make a decision," Salmons said. "But I didn't really feel [Toronto] was where God was leading me..."It was hard to tell [Bell], but I had to," he said. "It took all the courage in the world. I had faith something good would happen, but I'm human like anyone else; I was still nervous. I tried not to worry. Joel was pulling out his hair. Then a couple days later, he told me Sacramento had called... I slept on it. It felt right.

God, apparently, has flip-flopped.

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Derek Welsman and Dean Blundell Show Disrespect Judicial Process

Derek Welsman and Dean Blundell Show Disrespect My Cause MistrialWe've been talking a lot about the Dean Blundell Show on 102.1 The Edge lately. Last week Dean Blundell attacked Humble and Fred and just Friday Todd Shapiro chimed in on the controvery.

Now Derek Welsman, a.k.a. Blind Derek, is in some hot water for a discussion he had on the air with Dean Blundell and Billie Holiday.

On a recent Monday morning inside the studio of the Dean Blundell shock-jock radio show, giggles and guffaws filled the airwaves as the host and his sidekicks ridiculed several gay men involved in a criminal trial.

A jury had just convicted a man for sexually assaulting three men he met in a Carlton St. bathhouse. The show’s producer and on-air personality, Derek Welsman, was the foreman.

The radio personalities chortled as they mocked gay men who visit bathhouses and the intelligence of the sex assault victims. They snickered as they imagined the perpetrator’s excitement for prison showers.

This, as you can imagine, suggests prejudice and could should result in a mistrial.

Three years ago, I was too was the foreman of a jury. My trial was a murder trial and we found the accused guilty. I wrote about this experience here. I respected the process, took it extremely seriously, and chose not to reveal a single detail about what happened in the jury room.

This disrespect and homophobic discussion on this popular Toronto morning show is extremely disappointing. I suspect it will be Fearless Fred in the mornings on 102.1 The Edge before you know it.

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2013 Etobicoke Lakeshore Santa Claus Parade

Etobicoke Lakeshore Santa Claus ParadeAfter attending 9 Toronto Santa Claus Parades in a row, I didn't make it downtown for this year's event. But I did attend the Etobicoke Lakeshore Santa Claus Parade along Lake Shore in New Toronto yesterday morning.

I was there to support my new hood and check out this annual event for myself. Unlike the main Toronto parade, there is plenty of room for all in attendance but the trade-off is comparably underwhelming floats with a fraction of the budget and a rather small town vibe. And by small town, I just mean small...

The very first "float" was the "Rehab Unit", rather appropriate since Rob Ford threatened to crash this party.

First float... rehab truck for Rob Ford?

Toronto sports teams were well represented. There was Carlton from the Leafs, Jason from the Argonauts and a mock-up of the Leafs and Raptors dressing rooms. Oh, and Mike "Pinball" Clemons was walking the route and I told him I liked his jacket. He seemed to appreciate that.

Untitled

Carlton

Leafs dressing room

Raptors dressing room

Then there was this big unwelcome distraction called Rob Ford. He walked the route while tv cameras followed him, and his driver slowly drove Rob Ford's Escalade on the other side, saying "Merry Christmas" to us as he rolled by.

Ford ruckus

Untitled

There were floats, too... many clearly unauthorized by the copyright holders, others mashed together in nonsensical ways. Here are a few of the better ones.

Bugs

Princess

Alice

Hook

Dwarves

Ski

And finally, there was the guest of honour himself, Santa Claus.

The big guy

It was cold, but I didn't have to battle crowds and I was home in seconds. Nice job, Etobicoke Lakeshore.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 57

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 57In this 57th episode, Mike and another Mike almost come to blows (trust me, it's intense) and regular commenter Ben tells us why he won't use a grocery divider. This episode is exactly 45:59.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Todd Shapiro Discusses Dean Blundell vs. Humble and Fred

Todd Shapiro Discusses Dean Blundell vs. Humble and FredIf you want to hear the first two chapters of this trilogy, I have the audio here.

In a nutshell, Dean Blundell went off on Humble and Fred after they had Todd Shapiro on their podcast. Humble and Fred responded, and today Todd Shapiro returned to the Humble and Fred podcast to discuss the controversy.

Listen here:

Download the MP3 here.

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The 16th Man

The 16th ManThis documentary showcases the South African "Springbok" National Rugby Team and its impact on South Africa's transition from segregation to integration.

If you haven't seen it, do so... here it is in HD.

Hamba kahle Madiba.

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Friday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Nelson Mandela, Dead at 95

In MemoriumNelson Mandela was 95. He endured 27 years in prison before winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and becoming South Africa's first president from 1994 to 1999.

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Leafs vs. Habs Opening Montage on HNIC

Leafs vs. Habs Opening Montage on HNICThe Toronto Maple Leafs ~ Montreal Canadiens rivalry is almost 100 years in the making. That music you hear over this fantastic Hockey Night in Canada montage is Luciano Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma.

[via Deadspin]

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The Bert and Ernie Christmas Special with Tony Sirico and Steve Schirripa



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Rob Ford Had Lots Left to Hide

Rob Ford Had Lots to HideWith the last of the Project Brazen 2 documents being released this afternoon, we're learning a whole lot about the skeezy behaviour of our mayor. For example:

  • Rob Ford was involved in attempts to retrieve the crack video, offering "$5000 and a car." Weeks later, Ford claimed video "may not exist".
  • Sandro Lisi said the mayor would bring "heat" on Dixon if nobody gave him his stolen phone back
  • Rob Ford's cellphone was stolen while he was at a crack house after late-night calls were made arranging a drug delivery "because Rob Ford wants some drugs"
  • The crack video is related to a kidnapping on Dixon Road
  • Rob Ford was smoking crack at 15 Windsor as recently as April 2013
  • A gang member said, while on wiretap, that he had pictures of Rob Ford doing heroin
  • And much, much more...

While this news comes out, just remember these words from Rob Ford on November 5, 2013.: "I have nothing left to hide".

nothinglefttohide

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Circle Your Xmas Gifts in Your Consumers Distributing Catalogue

Circle Your Xmas Gifts in Your Consumers Distributing CatalogueChristmas is coming, and that means getting out the Consumers Distributing catalogue and circling the gifts you desire.

Sure, that Citizen brand stereo you want will likely be out of stock, but what are ya gonna do?

If you're curious as to why Consumers Distributing didn't survive, read the comments here and you'll quickly learn why.

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TV Shows I Watch These Days (Excluding Sports)

TV Shows I Watch These Days (Excluding Sports)Excluding live sports, I'm watching less conventional television than at any other point in my life. There are only a few programs I'll still tune in to watch...

The National
I'll tune into The National either at 9pm on CBC News Network or 10pm on CBC, depending on whether I'm watching a Leafs game or doing something else. It's what we'll watch before bed.

Jeopardy
Using a tablet as our scoreboard, my wife likes to challenge me at Jeopardy. She's never beat me.

60 Minutes
If I'm around, I try not to miss 60 Minutes on Sunday nights. I've been enjoying 60 Minutes for as long as I can remember and it's still interesting.

That's it until Mad Men returns early next year. In the meantime, I'll be watching my Leafs, our Canadian junior team and the Olympics in Sochi... and maybe a little NBA and NFL playoffs.

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Dean Blundell on Humble and Fred (Updated With Response from Humble and Fred)

It seems Dean Blundell went off on Humble and Fred during the December 3rd episode of The Dean Blundell Show Podcast. Here's the audio:

Download the MP3 here.

Update: During their podcast today, Humble and Fred responded. Here's the audio:

Download the MP3 here.

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JPA: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Jays JPA: In Like a Lion, Out Like a LambAll Jays fans remember J.P. Arencibia's major league debut. He homered on the first pitch of his first at-bat, a two-run shot to left in the second. He added another first-pitch homer in the sixth, and finished with four hits.

Arencibia demonstrated a whole lot of power out of the gate, but didn't show much of anything offensively last season. His batting average last year fell to .194 and his on-base percentage was a remarkably poor .227. And those strikeouts... so many strikeouts...

Arencibia, now a free agent, won't be back with the Blue Jays next season. Instead, the Jays have signed Dioner Navarro and traded for Erik Kratz.

J.P. Arencibia

JPA: In like a lion, out like a lamb.

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The Best Podcasts (According to You)

The Best PodcastsLast week I asked you for your favourite podcasts. Many of you left your lists of preferred podcasts and I've collected them and tallied the totals.

Here, according to you, are the best podcasts.

Podcast # of mentions
Toronto Mike'd 9
Humble and Fred 8
Your Blog Sucks 7
Geeks and Beats 5
WTF 5
Conspiracy Queries 4
Prime Time Sports 4
This American Life 4
Filmspotting 3
Here's The Thing 3
Q 3
Adam Carolla 2
No Agenda 2
Radiolab 2
Sound Opinions 2
Stuff You Should Know 2
The BS Report 2
The Nerdist 2
99% Invisible 1
AbsolutePunk.net 1
All Songs Considered 1
As it Happens 1
Audiojunkies 1
Baby Geniuses 1
BBC's Global News 1
Bullseye 1
BuzzKill 1
Canada Live 1
CANADALAND 1
CBC Radio 3 with Grant Lawrence 1
Comedy Bang Bang 1
Common Sense 1
Coverville 1
CrackPot 1
Dan Carlin Hardcore History 1
Davey Mac Sports Program 1
Doug Loves Movies 1
Drive to Work 1
Drunk Jays Fan 1
ESPN: Baseball Tonight 1
ESPN: Hockey Today 1
Filmjunk 1
Food for Thought 1
Fresh Air 1
Getting Blanked 1
Giant Bombcast 1
Girl on Guy 1
Hardcore History 1
High Society Radio 1
How Sound 1
In Her Shoes 1
Invisible 1
Joe Rogan 1
Jonah Raydio 1
Judge John Hodgman 1
Kevin Pollack Show 1
Le Show 1
Mac OS Ken 1
MacCast 1
Marek vs Wyshynski 1
Married to the Games 1
More Lost Time 1
My Wife Hates Me 1
Never Not Funny 1
On Being 1
On the Media 1
Phedippidations 1
Risk! 1
Savage Lovecast 1
She's So Young 1
Smartest Man In The World 1
SModcast 1
SpyCast 1
Stop Podcasting Yourself 1
Streaming Video Unit 1
Talking Canadian 1
Tapestry 1
Team Coco 1
Tech News Today 1
TedTalks 1
The Agenda with Steve Paikin 1
The Brian Lehrer Show 1
The Current 1
The Dan Le Batard Show 1
The Dinner Party 1
The Dork Forest 1
The Fitcast 1
The Fogelnest Files 1
The Internet Box 1
The Leonard Lopate Show 1
The Moth Podcast 1
The Patch 1
The Rock N' Roll Geek Show 1
The Rooster Teeth 1
The School of Greatness 1
The Seanpod 1
The Sniffer 1
The Starters 1
The Story Collider 1
The Tobolowsky Files 1
The Tony Kornheiser Show 1
The Zach Bussey Show 1
This is That 1
This Week in Tech 1
TLDR 1
Toby 1
Today in Canadian History 1
Travel 1
Trinity Force Podcast 1
Vinyl Cafe 1
Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! 1
Welcome To Nightvale 1
White Coat, Black Art 1
Witness 1
You Had To Be There 1
You Look Nice Today 1

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Tuesday Open Mike

Open MikeWelcome to today's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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TVO Polka Dot Door Outro and Dr. Who Intro

TVO Polka Dot Door Outro and Dr. Who IntroI have a vivid and frightening memory of watching Polka Dot Door on TVOntario in the very early 80s (or was it the late 70s?) and getting spooked by the opening theme of Doctor Who.

I first wrote about this scarring memory almost 7 years ago but now, thanks to Retrontario, I can share footage of exactly what I remember.

It's still difficult for me to watch. That Doctor Who opening still freaks me out.

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Christmas Songs I Enjoy

christmas musicIt's December, and that means you'll likely need to assemble a Christmas party playlist for a holiday party or two.

A great deal of Christmas music is awful, but there are a few dozen or so I can stomach. Here are my personal favourite Christmas songs if you need a little help building your playlist. To make things extra fun, I'm going to mark my top 7 by making them bold.

  • Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • Christmas Must Be Tonight - The Band
  • Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
  • Green Christmas - Barenaked Ladies
  • White Christmas - Bing Crosby
  • Mary Had A Baby - Bruce Cockburn
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen
  • Merry Christmas Baby - Chuck Berry
  • Joy To The World - Clem Snide
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Coldplay
  • First Noel - Crash Test Dummies
  • Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie and Bing Crosby
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Death Cab For Cutie
  • Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
  • I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake
  • Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto - James Brown
  • Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John & Yoko And Plastic Ono Band And The Harlem Community Choir
  • Honky The Christmas Goose - Johnny Bower
  • I Wish It Was Christmas Today - Julian Casablancas
  • Father Christmas - The Kinks
  • Christmas Night in Harlem - Louis Armstrong & His All Stars
  • Carol Of The Bells - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Nat King Cole
  • Merry Christmas, Baby - Otis Redding
  • Let Me Sleep - Pearl Jam
  • Fairytale of New York - The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
  • 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
  • Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight) - The Ramones
  • The Christmas Song - The Raveonettes
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside - Ray Charles
  • Christmas in Hollis - Run DMC
  • Song For A Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan
  • What Christmas Means To Me - Stevie Wonder
  • You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft
  • O Holy Night - Tipitina's Foundation
  • Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis - Tom Waits
  • Baby Please Come Home - U2
  • Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental) - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Greensleeves - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
  • Welcome Christmas - The Who's of Whoville

If you're interested in hearing about the worst Christmas song ever, there's more on that here.

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