April 2017 Archives

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Jays in Trouble, But Not Done Yet

The Jays just took two out of three against the Rays and are now 8-17. That's a .320 winning percentage. That's not good.

I wouldn't bet my own money on the Jays making the playoffs this year, but there's hope. In 1989, back when I wouldn't miss a single inning, my beloved Blue Jays were 12-24 when they fired manager Jimy Williams and gave the job to Cito Gaston. 12-24 is a .333 winning percentage. We ended up winning the AL East that year.

It won't be easy, but there is precedent in Blue Jays history, and that was before there were wild cards. We no longer have to win the AL East to make the playoffs.

mookie

The '89 Blue Jays were a good team that needed a spark. The 2017 Blue Jays aren't that different from the 2015 and 2016 teams that made the ALCS, and as bodies return from the DL and bats warm up, you just never know.

Stranger things have happened.

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Blinky Used to Talk!

I love writing about Blinky. In the early 80s, Blinky the Police Car was everywhere. He and Elmer the Safety Elephant were primary school staples.

I remember Blinky blinking, but I forgot Blinky used to talk. Thanks to my pal Retrontario, here's raw footage from the 1981 Santa Claus Parade with Blinky's voice on proud display.

As an added bonus, you can see Uncle Bobby in that footage. I'll never forget the Uncle Bobby story Retrontario told me in episode 167 of Toronto Mike'd.

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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 233: Bernard Cowan

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 233In this 233rd episode, Mike chats with Bernard Cowan's son Elliott about his father's esteemed career voicing popular cartoons and Canadian programs as well as his work as a crusader and founding member of ACTRA. Lots of great old clips in this one. This episode is exactly 55:41.

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

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Jonathan Demme, Dead at 73

Jonathan DemmeJonathan Demme was 73. He was the Academy Award winning director who brought us Married to the Mob, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married.

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2017 High Park Cherry Blossoms

On Friday, I biked to High Park to check out the cherry blossoms. Afterall, they didn't bloom at all last year. Many buds hadn't bloomed yet, so I figured it was still a few days away from peak bloom.

With rain in the forecast tomorrow, I determined today would be the day. I biked over and can confirm that this is the ideal day to check out the cherry blossoms at High Park. But if you do, don't try and drive into the park. You'll just loop around at 1km/h and wish you had biked or walked in.

Here are photos I took at lunch today.

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The Cosmic Ballet of Toronto's Big 3 Pro Sports Teams

Despite frustrating me for three quarters, the Raptors actually won in Milwaukee yesterday to tie their first round series with the Bucks at 2 games apiece. They should advance to the second round, although nothing is a surety when this team is in the playoffs. They're rather unpredictable, hence the frustration.

Tonight I'll be glued to the Leafs game as we try to win at home to force a game seven with the President's Trophy winning Capitals. What a series this has been... four games have been decided in OT and the other was decided by a single goal. The Leafs are hanging with the big boys and it's been thrilling.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are in Anaheim so I've been waking up to find out how we've done. We lost last night, lowering our record to 4-13. That's a .235 winning percentage. That's bad... very, very bad.

The past two years the Jays and Leafs were flipped. The Jays were thrilling, advancing to two ALCS. The Leafs were junk. They've essentially switched spots on the Toronto pro sports spectrum.

One day, all three teams will be competitive. It's never happened before, but hope springs eternal. In the meantime, I'm just glad we've had two out of three in the playoffs the past few years. It sure beats how things looked a mere five years ago.

And two out of three ain't bad.

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Of Bill Barilko and 100 Years of Maple Leafs History

Bill Barilko's overtime winner in game five of the 1951 Stanley Cup final was scored 66 years ago tonight. I love the legend of Bashin' Bill and have hosted this tribute in one form or another for the past 19 years.

If you're interested in Bill Barilko's story, I urge you to listen to my conversation with hockey historian Kevin Shea. He's quite the expert and full of interesting details. It's mandatory listening for any Maple Leafs fans interested in the club's 100 year history.

On the topic of Leafs history, Tim Thompson's updated Maple Leafs Forever montage captures it perfectly. I simply can't get tired of watching this.

Tim and I spoke about this montage in great detail during his visit to my basement studio. If you want to hear how it came together and the effort involved, listen to this.

The song accompanying Tim's montage is Peace and Quiet by Ron Hawkins, lead singer and songwriter for Lowest of the Low. Ron visited me last summer and we spoke about this song and its use by Tim for Maple Leafs Forever. Here's that conversation.

Tonight, let's win it for Bill. Go Leafs!

Barilko

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The lowdown on the world of VPNs!

We hear a lot these days about a little something called a VPN- but do you really know what it is? Do you really know why you would need it and what benefits it can bring you? I noticed quite a bit of confusion and at times, misinformation in the online community when it comes to VPN so I thought as a sort of public service announcement, I would fill you in on the details. When it comes to VPNs there is a huge range of options out there, but if you want to drill down to the best on offer- be sure to check out these best online reviews!

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What is a VPN?
A VPN is a virtual private network and it enables you to have a secure connection to a specific network via the internet- all data is encrypted, private, and safe from prying and nosey eyes. The easiest way of explaining it is by using the analogy of you piggybacking on someone else, to get to a destination.

Why do I need a VPN?
A VPN is the key to your privacy. Whether is it websites using your browsing history to target adverts, or regulations in your country stopping you from accessing certain sites-using a VPN can bypass all of this and allow you to access a range of services that are not currently available to you. A Great example would be- Mrs X is from England originally, she now lives in Canada but wants to be able to catch up with her soap operas from the UK. Some UK sites won’t allow her to watch because she has an IP address that is hosted in Canada. Therefore, by using a VPN she can bypass this restriction and watch her EastEnders in peace.

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Another use for a VPN is the example of a student or office worker who needs to access the school or workplace network remotely. With a VPN they can quickly and easily log into this remote network via a VPN and password an access all of their files and data from an outside location. One can also utilise the services of a VPN if you are accessing a public WiFi service and you need to send sensitive information or personal details over the network. By using a VPN you can ensure that your details and information remain private at all times and free from snoopers!
There are other reasons why you might need to use a VPN but some of them, such as downloading films, and streaming TV shows border on illegal in some countries and we would never want to advocate things like that!

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What makes a good VPN?
The sign of a good VPN is a solid combination of great features, a good servicer location, and a good price. Some VPN services are meant for constant use and some are designed for occasional use- like streaming a football match or watching the tennis! What VPN works for you, really depends on what you are looking for and what you intend to do with it, and once you have decided that you can really get into the nitty gritty of the technical details.
So, I hope I have managed to clear up a few of your misconceptions and confusions about VPNs- what they are for and why you need them- so what are you waiting for? Go find the VPN for you, and get going!

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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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Night Walk

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 232: Howard Berger

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 232In this 232nd episode, Mike chats with Howard Berger about his 23 years at The Fan 590, the blog he started the day he was fired, and whether he'll ever work in the MSM again. This episode is exactly 2:24:41.

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

Howard Berger and me

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Leafs Win!

leaf-fan

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Canadian Gambling Facts

Gambling in Canada goes back long before it was declared a country in 1867, and it was John Cabot, who happened upon Canadian shores in 1497, who traced its roots back as far as the year 6000 B.C. Fast-forward through the centuries and we see how native games of chance have evolved from sticks and pebbles, cards and dice, and bingo and lotteries to a 13 billion dollar industry it is today it is today. The one thing that’s clearly remained unchanged is the fact that gambling remains a favourite pastime for Canadians, whether it’s time spent in a land-based casino like the FallsView Casino Resort , or the more popular online casinos as this infographic indicates.

Canada Gambling Info graphic

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 231: Elvis

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 231In this 231st episode, Mike catches up with Elvis. This episode is exactly 1:28:37.

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Elvis and me

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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 230: Bill Hayes

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 230In this 230th episode, Mike chats with Bill Hayes about his years at 680 CFTR, Mix 99.9, The Fan 590, Q107 and AM640, what it was like working with his brother John Derringer and how proud he is of his son Bryan Hayes. This episode is exactly 1:16:34.

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

Bill Hayes and Me

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2017 Playoff Pool Draft Complete

I've been hosting the annual playoff pool for several years, but I've never won. Before I hosted, when I was merely a participant, I didn't win, either. In total, I'd guess that's over two decades of futility.

With Great Lakes Beer flowing and Palma Pasta fresh from the oven, fourteen of us made our picks last night. I had the 11th overall pick and here's my team that's all but guaranteed to lose.

  1. A. Panarin - CHI
  2. D. Keith - CHI
  3. P. Bergeron - BOS
  4. D. Krejci - BOS
  5. J. Carlson - WAS
  6. R. Hartman - CHI
  7. P. Eaves - ANA
  8. R. Spooner - BOS
  9. S. Vatanen - ANA
  10. L. Eller - WAS

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My Youngest Son Turns Three

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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 229: Chris Murphy from Sloan

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 229In this 229th episode, Mike chats with Chris Murphy about his 25 years with Sloan, his new Trans-Canada Highwaymen project and why he lied to us about the word "underwhelmed". This episode is exactly 1:30:42.

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

Chris Murphy and Me

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Don Rickles, Dead at 90

Don RicklesDon Rickles was 90. He was the honorary Rat Pack member and celebrity roast guest whose comedy career spanned six decades.

If you can I highly suggest you track down Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, a documentary I caught back in '09. I love insult comics, and Rickles was the best.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 228: Brian Williams

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 228In this 228th episode, Mike chats with TSN's Brian Williams about his years at CBC, the 14 Olympic games he covered, the Punch-up in Piestany, calling Blue Jay games and the broadcasters he admired. This episode is exactly 1:30:42.

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

Brian Williams and Me

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We Leaf Fans Deserve This

Looking back, the best thing that ever happened to the Toronto Maple Leafs was blowing that 4-1 third period lead in Boston. At the time, it was excruciating. Up 4-1 in the game seven with about ten minutes to play, the upset was imminent. Or so we thought...

Had we won that game, would we have torn it all down for a true rebuild? Would the Shanaplan have come to town? Would we be where we are today?

Where we are today is what this entry is all about. The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. The rookies have exceeded all expectations, and Auston Matthews is sitting on 39 goals. It's a young, fun team that's getting results for Mike Babcock. It's a team that looks like it's only a couple of years away from truly contending for the Stanley Cup.

We Leaf fans deserve this. If you exclude the shortened 2012-13 season, we haven't been in the playoffs since 2003-04. I was in my 20s in 2003-04 with a two year old who is now a hulking fifteen year old. And that fifteen year old owns an Auston Matthews jersey and absolutely adores his Leafs. I can't tell you how excited I am to watch Leaf playoff games with that boy.

Go Leafs Go!

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Property in the 6ix

Toronto Mike'd, my weekly podcast about anything and everything, has a new sponsor.

I'd like to formally introduce Brian Gerstein from PSR Brokerage to this exclusive club. Each guest on Toronto Mike'd will receive Propertyinthe6ix.com cups to complement their six-pack of Great Lakes Beer.

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I've met Brian several times and have been engaging with him on Twitter for years. He's been through several real estate markets and know what to expect, he does tons of due diligence, is an expert negotiator, and markets the hell out of listings. If you're looking to buy or sell in Toronto, visit Propertyinthe6ix.com and tell him Mike sent ya.

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Hip Dis at Junos

I just watched the Juno Awards. As I type, Sarah McLachlan is actually still performing. It was a pretty good show with a brilliant tribute to Leonard Cohen by Feist. I don't know where she's been, but I'm glad she's back.

A short while ago, The Tragically Hip won group of the year, and Rob Baker and Paul Langlois accepted the award. While Paul was speaking, they started to play him off. Thankfully, Paul ignored that and continued speaking. Then, just as he was about to talk about Gord Downie, they cut his mic.

That's right, as Paul Langlois was about to speak about Gord Downie, the Juno Awards cut his microphone so we couldn't hear a word.

If the purpose of the Juno Awards is to celebrate Canadian music, and you have two members of The Tragically Hip on stage after the year they've had, it is not okay to cut their mic. Consider for a moment what this band means to this country, and the thoughts that are with Gord.

Who makes this decision? Who decides there's no time for such things but has Bryan Adams and Russell Peters awkwardly vamping a short time later?

Such bullshit from CTV and the Juno Awards. We can now collectively wonder what Paul was about to say about Gord and his battle.

Paul said it best as the Junos played them off. "This is our arena, not yours."

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The Toronto Casino Debate Continues

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The Toronto Casino debate might have died a few years ago but opponents of a casino shouldn’t assume the fight is over. It could get revived at any time by a provincial government and by the city of Toronto. All it takes is a mayor or premier to say they want to go all in and make a Toronto casino a reality. Selling the idea of a casino is probably an easy one and it really requires planning and campaigning which during the last time around that campaign was fairly weak and it allowed people to research more on the topic and learn the pros and cons of having a casino in the city. We know that Toronto city council voted 40-4 to reject the casino proposal, this was in 2013 and the debate is far from dead. One would think after OLG launched their first provincially licensed online casino, playolg.ca, that they don’t need this tax revenue they claimed they needed. The truth is gamblers have had access to online casinos for a number of years and playolg has been a little late to the party but it will probably quiet the need for more gambling income as they got it.

We know that Caesars Entertainment was behind the bid for the Toronto casino and it seems they still wanted to push for a deal to go through. Caesar’s is now in bankruptcy protection and an article by the New York Post here claims this was part of an effort was to win support from creditor’s for reorganization efforts. Maybe the company should change it’s name to Seizures Entertainment to be more fitting. Without a doubt, if they were to win the Toronto contract, it would definitely help the floundering company but it goes to show how desperate they were back then and how they still are now.

The pros of having a casino in Toronto

There are some pros about it and we’ll focus on these before we start talking about the cons. The pros are that it would spark a major development from an infrastructure point of view. Assuming Ontario Place could be an ideal spot for a new casino, this would add another entertainment complex that would cost a lot of money to build, create some local jobs in the construction as well as hiring staff and other spinoff industries. Whatever it would be, it certainly wouldn’t be ugly. That might sound good and rosy but let’s check out the cons.

The cons of having a casino in Toronto

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There are many experts that predict that a Toronto casino would be bad for the local economy and it’s a negative drain on the economy rather than a helping stimulate the economy which is something you’ll hear Caesar’s claim to be true. To claim that a casino would be a positive economic gain is like saying that legalizing heroin would be a positive economic gain for the local economy. We can already see what the opioid epidemic is doing in the US and the drug dealers, aka doctors and the pharmaceutical industry is making a good profit but it’s coming at the expense of the money and life being sucked out the poor suckers that are addicted to these drugs, which are prescribed by doctors that we expect to look after our health. It’s maybe no different we expect the same from politicians to look after our city and the people in it rather than any potential kickbacks whether anything illegal is happening there or not.

Casino Windsor: A case study

Look no further than Casino Windsor to know what a casino was supposed to do for the local economy but didn’t do. When the casino first opened, a lot of shop owners and restaurants were excited at the influx of people that were coming into the city to gamble. Instead, all of these restaurants and jewelery shops had to close down because the money just wasn’t there. If people were coming to gamble, they weren’t really spending their money elsewhere. The casino also sucked up more money from the locals that otherwise might have spent it locally outside of the casino. You can argue all you want about the tax money that comes in but money doesn’t grow on trees and if you look at the economics of the situation, there are too many experts that point that casinos are a drain on a local economy and not the opposite. On top of this, the casino in Windsor is part of the Harrah’s group of casinos which you guessed it, profits by them leave the country.

In the United States where more and more casinos keep being built but are failing. Funny enough Caesar’s was one to put a casino in Baltimore and we now know that Caesar Entertainment are struggling financially. This article from The Atlantic explains how casinos wreck a local economy and how casinos are even suffering.

Problem Gambling

Problem gambling always increases anytime a casino opens its doors around the world and the problem is a local one. There are a lot of gamblers that don’t go to the other casinos like Casino Niagara, Casino Windor or Casino Orillia because it’s a long distance both in time to get there aside from the fact it costs money. These casinos will certainly offer you access to a free shuttle bus service but let’s be honest, a casino in Toronto is going to activate more problem gamblers in this city. A good resource on the topic is ThePOGG’s problem gambling addiction guide.

Some of the arguments against a casino in Toronto are that 60% of profits come from people that have a gambling addiction and also many of the marginalized communities are affected and prone to gambling.

2017 and beyond

John Tory is now the city mayor and Kathleen Wynne is barely hanging on as premier and she is really showing how out of touch she is with people. There’s a good chance she is not back for another term and nobody knows what the next premier would have on their agenda. The question keeps coming up as there will always be lobbyists pushing for a casino in Toronto but after the last debate, it seems that most of the people in the city are in favour of keeping it out. Toronto has become a world class city without the help of a casino and there are too many indicators that suggest a casino wouldn’t help our city get better.

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