May 2015 Archives

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week'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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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 123: Steve Anthony

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 123In this 123rd episode, Mike chats with Steve Anthony about his years on MuchMusic, his work at Breakfast Television and CP24 Breakfast, replacing Pete and Geets on CFNY, his use of cocaine, his broken hip and where Anne Rohmer went for a few months. This episode is exactly 1:12:29.

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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If the Ducks Win...

During the NHL playoffs, you may have noticed a new link in the main menu for this site. Playoff Pool is for those who drafted with us in early April, an annual tradition that started in the late 90s. I participate every year, and I've never won.

Considering we sometimes only have 10 or 11 participants, it's no easy task to lose almost 20 times in a row. I've had to bank on great regular season teams that faltered in the playoffs. I think I went to the San Jose Sharks well over and over and over again.

This year, I thought the Ducks were the team to beat. I loaded up on productive Ducks, and a few Minnesota Wild players, because I thought they'd upset the Blues in the first round. So far, I've played it perfectly.

If the Ducks eliminate Chicago, I'll win big. They're one win away...

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 122: Jonah from Toronto Sports Media

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 122In this 122nd episode, Mike chats with Jonah from Toronto Sports Media about Toronto's sports media. We talk about changes at The Fan 590, life after Bob McCown on PTS, Bryan Hayes, Mike Richards, how Rogers hockey is going, the Krystalization of Dean Blundell, Hebsy, Tim and Sid, Brady and Walker, Bob McKenzie, Steve Simmons, Ron MacLean, Howard Berger, who we like, who we don't like and much, much more. This episode is exactly 1:19:04.

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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The Size of Coffee Cups at Brunch Joints is Too Damn Small

I love brunch. I could eat brunch any time of the day and be completely satisfied. This morning, I enjoyed morning brunch with my family.

Here's a picture of my coffee mug. I've included a creamer for scale, so you can see how small the cup is. I find this cup size is typical at most brunch establishments.

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I enjoy coffee in the morning. I typically only drink one cup, but it's a fairly large travel mug. A tiny cup like this? I'll need several refills to get my fill.

My kingdom for a brunch place with a reasonable adult-sized coffee mug!

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Everything is For Sale

I was listening to the Jays game this afternoon. I'm struggling with Buck and Pat on the TV lately, so the radio has become my preferred method of following my Jays.

Ryan Goins hit a ground ball and quickly crumpled to the ground, writhing in pain. At the time, we didn't know if he had torn his Achilles tendon or what. All we knew was that our shortstop was on the turf hurt. That's when Mike Wilner broke in to tell us the injury was brought to us by some injury lawyer firm. That's right, even active on-field injuries are now sponsored events.

It's possible this has been the case for a while and I only noticed it today, but it felt rather inappropriate. It's one thing to have a pitching change brought to you by this company or an inning brought to you by that company, but an injury as-it-happens before we know the extent? That just feels wrong.

Today, everything in the media is for sale. If there's a potential buyer, they'll sell it. You can take it to the bank.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week'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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Road Tripping in a Buick Enclave

We decided to take a road trip to Gatineau this past long weekend. This isn't as easy as it sounds now that we're a family of five. We needed more room, and a Buick Enclave that comfortably seats 7 was ideal.

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This Buick Enclave isn't just roomy, it's a dangerously smooth ride. I say "dangerously" because I kept having to remind myself the speed limit is still 100 on the 401 and 416. You could cruise at 140 in the Enclave and it's as smooth as butter.

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It was also nice to have a modern car with Bluetooth and satellite radio for a road trip this long. A good playlist does wonders when you're on the road for five hours. Throw in a fresh coffee and we're all set.

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Thanks for the Laughs, David

letterman

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Mike Babcock New Head Coach of Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the bidding war for Mike Babcock with a monster $50 million deal over 8-years.

There's plenty of work to do before this team is competitive again, but this is a solid start.

welcome

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9/11 On Ice

No word if Disney will produce it, but based on Titanic: The Musical, Mirvish's new show in Toronto, perhaps 9/11 On Ice could make it's way to New York, Chicago, London and Hogtown at some point.

Perhaps the historical pattern with grand tragedy is that you first make a serious dramatic film about it, then wait for all relatives to die, then make a romantic version (Cameron's Titanic), and then a song and dance production. So maybe it'll take a hundred years or so, but we'll get there.

Clefto commented on this over at my blog at hobogauntlet.blogspot.ca:

"In the early morning hours
The planes brought down the towers!
(step, step, kick. Step, step, kick)

A horrific attack!
It must have been Iraq!
(step, ball, chain. jump and kick.)"

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The Runnymede Theatre as a Shoppers Drug Mart

As a kid, I saw many films at the Runnymede Theatre. I saw a Star Trek there, the second Poltergeist movie, a Lethal Weapon, Beatlejuice, and a bunch of others. It was a great little theatre on Bloor near Runnymede.

Then, it became a Chapters. Chapters did a great job of paying tribute to the old theatre. We were all pleased.

Then, it became a Shoppers Drug Mart. Last Thursday afternoon, I popped my head in to see how it looked.

I'm pleased to report SDM did a fine job maintaining the old infrastructure. Here are some pics that show the Runnymede Theatre is alive and well, it's just selling cosmetics and ibuprofen now.

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Mad Men Finale Thoughts: Spoiler Alert!

I distinctly remember initially being disappointed by The Sopranos finale. It cut to black, and I felt cheated, as if David Chase copped out. Then, the final scene churned through my mind over and over again and by the next day I had completely changed my tune. The Sopranos finale is now one of my all-time favourite finales.

Matt Wiener learned his craft from David Chase, so it shouldn't surprise you to learn I had an eerily similar reaction to last night's Mad Men finale. Initially, I felt cheated by Wiener, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw the genius in what his ambiguity gave me. What we believe becomes of Don Draper depends on how we feel about this complex character. It's heavily inferred he goes back to McCann Erickson and helps Coke develop the successful "I’d like to buy the world a Coke" ad. The rest is up to us.

We bring our own baggage to this show, and watch what unfolds through our own biases. I am a divorced man with two children from my first marriage. I watched this finale hoping Don Draper would immediately return to New York to be there for Sally, Bobby, and Gene with their mother dying. It was important to me that he step up and focus on the most important job he has, that of a parent. I was extremely disappointed that Sally had to fill that void and that Don chose to accompany Stephanie to a hippie retreat instead. Don, we've learned, doesn't always do the right thing, and rarely has his priorities in order. Some things never change.

Otherwise, I'm satisfied with the ending, but could have done without the lazy Peggy and Stan love-fest. That part felt like the last half of the Breaking Bad finale, giving fans what they want instead of what they need.

I'm going to miss this show. Mad Men has always been about the journey, not the destination, and it was a helluva trip.

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Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa

Yesterday, I took my family to the Canadian Tulip Festival at Dow's Lake in Ottawa. We happened to be staying in nearby Gatineau, so this was a short trip.

I had previously written about our gift of tulips from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, but I had never seen the tulips for myself. I can now confirm that they're real and they're spectacular.

Here are a few pictures I took of the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa.

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B.B. King, Dead at 89

B.B. KingB.B. King was 89. He was one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of Blues." He's best known for such hits as The Thrill is Gone and Every Day I Have the Blues.

You might remember him from When Love Comes to Town, a great ditty from U2's Rattle and Hum.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week'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

Discuss "Open Mike" (111 comments so far)


My Thoughts on The Simpsons Without Harry Shearer

They recently renewed The Simpsons for two more seasons, which will bring them to 28. But the big news is that Harry Shearer will not be a part of the cast. Shearer voiced Ned Flanders, Charles Montgomery Burns, Waylon Smithers, Seymour Skinner, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny Leonard, Kent Brockman, Scratchy, Kang, Eddie, Otto Mann, Rev. Lovejoy, Rainier Wolfcastle, Jasper, Dr. Marvin Monroe and many, many others. It's a rather significant loss.

At this point, The Simpsons has gone on so long, there's a whole generation of people like me who grew up worshipping the show and have grown incredibly indifferent over time. I was a fan since day one (literally!) and collected the first ten seasons on DVD. I can watch those early episodes over and over and over again. I loved that show.

Then, during the show's second decade, I loved it less, but I still watched. After all, even when The Simpsons aren't at their best, they're often better than whatever else is out there.

But then there's the last several seasons. I never tune in on Sunday nights anymore, and only catch up on interesting episodes that entice me, like the Lego episode. I've completely lost touch with what's going on in Springfield, but I'll still sit down and watch an early episode and laugh out loud.

I would be really upset at the show for going on without Harry Shearer if this was 15 years ago. But it's not, and I've already moved on.

End the damn show and let the tributes flow in already!

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Let's Talk Television Spoilers

Mad Men is one of my all-time favourite television programs. Already I've got it sitting comfortably in third place, just behind Six Feet Under and just ahead of The Sopranos. In time, we'll see where it ends up.

The Mad Men finale airs Sunday night. That's as good a reason as any to re-open the spoiler debate.

In episode 120 of my podcast, I called out Roz Weston for talking about a significant plot point in the previous night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. I personally didn't care, as I don't watch the show, but I'm sure many had it DVR'd or planned to catch up on the weekend or later and had this bombshell completely ruined for them because Roz talked about it. Roz told me he felt television spoilers should be treated the same as election results and shared as news. I told him he was just a jerk.

A couple of years ago, I shared my spoiler code of conduct. At the time, I wrote "publicly airing spoilers is downright rude... live tweeting quotes or plot turns is a dick move."

Am I way out to lunch here? Is it okay to Facebook, Tweet, and chatter at work about major plot points revealed the night before? If Don Draper jumps out a window Sunday night, is it okay to blab about it everywhere on Sunday night and Monday morning?

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No Wonder I Enjoyed Conan So Much

When Late Night with Conan O'Brien debuted in '93, I was instantly smitten. I watched every night and laughed my ass off. Those early years at 12:30 were magic.

No wonder... check out this 1993 pic of Conan O’Brien with his writers for Late Night with Conan O’Brien – Bob Odenkirk, David Reynolds, Robert Smigel, Andy Richter, Marsh McCall, Louis CK, Dino Stamatopoulos and Michael Gordon.

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That's quite the lineup.

[via This is Not Porn]

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The Final Days of Captain John’s

Captain John's, the floating restaurant in the water at Yonge and Queen's Quay, will be gone by May 26. It'll be tugged through the Welland Canal to Port Colborne where it will be dismantled for scrap. These are indeed the final days of Captain John's.

Captain John's Restaurant has been around all of my life. I've never been inside, but I've walked or biked by it hundreds and hundreds of time. I always found the idea of a restaurant in a boat rather charming. I agree it needs to go, but I can't say I won't miss it.

Anchor's aweigh, Captain John's.

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On the side (pun intended), and relevant considering my previous entry, there's a glaring misspelling of the word "everyday" on the east side of the sign about brunch that always irks me. I've got to get a pic before it's too late.

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Copmputer [sic] Repair

I pass this sign almost daily and it irks me every single time. It's been this way for years, and the owner doesn't seem the least bit interested in fixing it. I'm assuming he or she is aware there's an extra "p" in there.

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Canadian Premiere of I Am What I Play at The Royal

I attended the Canadian premiere of I Am What I Play at The Royal last night. You might recall me writing about this documentary. It features Meg Griffin, Charles Laquidara, Pat O'Day and our very own David Marsden.

Marsden was at the premiere, and we chatted before the curtains went up. A number of old CFNY staffers were there, as well as radio fan Erin Davis who gave me a big hug. It was a great atmosphere.

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And for this longtime fan of radio, it was a great doc. Aside from Marsden, i was only slightly familiar with Meg Griffin from her appearances on Howard Stern. The others, Charles Laquidara in particular, were great story tellers.

And that's what makes Marsden so great. The man is an excellent storyteller, with fantastic stories to tell. It's why his appearance in episode 106 of my podcast is one my personal favourites. I Am What I Play features plenty of great Marsden tales with old audio, video and photos I had never seen. I've finally heard what Dave Mickie sounds like!

If you love radio, you'll adore this doc. It's also got a great soundtrack and closes the only way a good radio story should.

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Dean Blundell Improves, but Below Rogers's Expectations

Demographics are everything to a station. Performances in a targeted demo determine a station's revenue generation potential. Dave Shoalts writes in today's Globe and Mail about Dean Blundell's rating improvement in The Fan's targeted demo of men aged 18-34. I have it on good authority that The Fan is actually targeting men aged 25-54, a subtle but significant difference.

Looking at that M25-54 demo, Blundell & Co. rose to 6.4 in April. That's great when compared to the competition on TSN Radio 1050, but not-so-great when compared to how Brady and Walker fared in that same time slot last April. In April 2014, Brady and Walker got a 9.8. Blundell lost a 3.4 share and Rogers executives expected the opposite.

Let's talk about TSN Radio 1050 for a moment... That station has had terrible ratings for over four years, and Mike Richards slipped to 1.1 last month. How long does Bell prop this station up?

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week'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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Morning Alarms: Then and Now

I loved my clock radio. I'd fall asleep to the sweet sounds of Tom and Jerry calling Blue Jays games, but waking up to CJCL 1430 meant "music of your life" mouldy syrup, so I'd wake up to this:

This is my current alarm on my LG G3. It's called Voices of Nature.

Of all the advancements we've made as a society over the past 40 years, this may just be number one.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 121: Billie Holiday

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 121In this 121st episode, Mike chats with broadcaster Billie Holiday about getting fired from the Maddog and Billie show, what Maddog said about that, working with Dean Blundell and whether she has any regrets. This episode is exactly 57:38.

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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Pictures of the 2015 High Park Cherry Blossoms

I just rode my bike to High Park to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. I make the pilgrimage annually to shoot the Somei-Yoshino cherry trees, and here are a few of my favourite pics from this year.

Pictures of the 2015 High Park Cherry Blossoms

Pictures of the 2015 High Park Cherry Blossoms

Pictures of the 2015 High Park Cherry Blossoms

And here's something they've never had before.

Pictures of the 2015 High Park Cherry Blossoms

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The GTA Housing Correction That Never Seems to Come

Toronto home prices are awfully high, and getting higher. This past April, for example, prices were up 10% year-over-year.

Detached home sales saw a 17 per cent spike across the GTA, with sales gains stronger (18.2 per cent) in the 905 regions than the City of Toronto (up 13.8 per cent.) The average price of a detached remained above $1 million in the 416 region, up 9.2 per cent year over year in April to $1,056,114. The average detached price was up 13.1 per cent in the 905 regions to $729,961.

Sales of semi-detached homes climbed by almost 15 per cent across the GTA and prices hit a new high of $727,875 (up 3.5 per cent) in the City of Toronto and $489,796 (up 10.5 per cent) in the 905 regions.

For years I've read and listened to economists claiming a housing correction in the GTA is imminent. This bubble has to burst, and every year someone predicts that is the year it'll happen. Every year comes and goes with housing prices rising.

A smart first-time home buyer would be wise to wait until the correction before entering the market, but is that so wise if the correction never comes? If detached home prices are up 17% this year, you'd have been far wiser to buy last year, unless your crystal ball works better than mine.

Is anyone out there waiting for the bubble to burst before buying a home in the GTA?

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3 Topics I Choose Not to Write About

The following are topics I choose not to write about. Luckily for you interested parties there are thousands of other websites covering all three in great detail.

1. The Royal Birth
I hear a young British couple just welcomed a healthy daughter into the world. Good for them. I wish them all nothing but happiness, but my interest level is minuscule.

2. The Death of Boxing
I understand a couple of boxers just made gobs of money. Neither are guys I'd want to grab a coffee with, but that's not why I'm not going to write about how boxing died on Saturday night. I'm not going to do that because I already wrote that entry three years ago.

3. Bruce Jenner's Transition
I'm casually following this story, and from what I gather, Bruce Jenner has dealt with gender dysphoria since his youth and now identifies as a woman. My only hope here is that she's true to herself and finds happiness. I have no interest in writing about her personal journey.

There are dozens of other topics I choose not to write about, but those are the big three of the moment.

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Midges by Lake Ontario in Toronto

The midges along the lake in Toronto are in full effect. They come out every spring for a few weeks and although they look like mosquitoes, they don't bite. They're completely harmless.

Last May, the midges in my neck of the woods were worse than ever. They appeared in larger numbers and stuck around until mid-June. I was biking in a balaclava in 20° because I grew tired of ingesting a pound of midge meat during waterfront rides. This year, the midges are far more tolerable.

But they're out there, annoying the mess out of walkers, jobbers joggers and cyclists. Just be glad they're not mosquitoes.

How are the midges where you are?

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Cycling: April 2015 vs. April 2014

April was pretty awesome for cycling in Toronto. It warmed up considerably, was relatively dry and almost completely bug-free. Here's how my cycling in April 2015 measured up against April 2014.

April 2015: 542.78 km

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April 2014: 291.72 km

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In defence of April 2014, I was a little busy with the arrival of baby #3.

My goal for 2015 remains a personal best 5,000 km. I'm currently at 1644.85 km with 8 months to go.

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Ben E. King, Dead at 76

Ben E. KingBen E. King was 76. He was the soul and R&B singer best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me" which hit the top ten twice, in 1961 and 1986.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week'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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