July 2007 Archives

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Poisonous Songs

crossbonesPoison was a guilty pleasure from the 80s. They were more than just "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", they were "Talk Dirty To Me", "Fallen Angel" and "Something To Believe In". But this isn't about Poison, this is about "poison" songs, or songs with "poison" in the title.

Here are the poisonous songs in my collection.

  • Poison - Alice Cooper
  • Poison My Eyes - Anthrax
  • The Sky Is A Poisonous Garden - Concrete Blonde
  • Church of the Poison Mind - Culture Club
  • Poison Arrow - ABC
  • Poison - Prodigy
  • Penny is Poison - Verve Pipe
  • Poison Ivy - Von Bondies
  • Poison Ivy - Willie Mabon
  • Poison - Bell Biv DeVoe

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Too Early To Cover Yourself?

musicThe latest single from Arcade Fire is "No Cars Go" from their Neon Bible album. It's a great single, and I'll probably throw it on SLS18, but any fan of Arcade Fire has heard this song before. Arcade Fire has covered themselves.

Before Funeral, Arcade Fire had a self titled EP that contained "No Cars Go". The two versions aren't that different. Arcade Fire has essentially covered themselves, and they're doing it on their second full album. I'm wondering if it's too early for a band to cover their own work.

Of course, I don't think they call it a cover when it's your own work. They'll tell you they re-recorded the song. I'm not judging Arcade Fire, a band I totally dig, but was it necessary to re-record a song at this early stage of their career? And it's not like this EP is obscure and difficult to get. After Funeral, it was remastered and rereleased and it quickly found it's way into my collection.

I expect this from a band like Aerosmith who felt “Sweet Emotion” needed another crack at the charts, but Arcade Fire are not Aerosmith. That's what we love about them.

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YouTube: The Bloggers Crutch

videoKids, gather around. Toronto Mike is about to spin a yarn for y'all. You see, I've been blogging daily for almost five years. When I started blogging, there was no YouTube. I actually had to create content.

YouTube is a blogger's crutch. When you're busy, or when you've just got nuthin', there's always YouTube. Yesterday alone I shared four different YouTube video clips. If that ain't a crutch, I don't know what is.

It's a crutch, but it benefits you as much as it benefits me. Would you rather read several paragraphs from some Toronto blogger bitching about YouTube as a crutch or would you prefer to watch that awesome scene from Almost Famous in which they all sing Elton John's Tiny Dancer?

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Bill Walsh, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBill Walsh was 75. He was the groundbreaking football coach who won three Super Bowls and perfected the ingenious schemes that became known as the West Coast offense during a Hall of Fame career with the San Francisco 49ers.

During Walsh's tenure, Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark with The Catch.

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The 50 Best Movie Robots

star warsTimesOnline have put together a list of the fifty best robots on film. They judge plausibility, coolness, dangerousness and comedy value. Here are their top 10.

  1. Terminator Series 800/Model 101 from The Terminator
  2. HAL9000 from 2001, A Space Odyssey
  3. Kitt from Knight Rider
  4. SID 6.7 from Virtuosity
  5. ED 209 from Robocop
  6. Swarms of robot spiders from Lost In Space
  7. ABC Warriors from Judge Dredd
  8. Evil Bill & Ted from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
  9. Sonny from I-Robot
  10. The Sentinels from X-Men 3

I cannot believe R2-D2 didn't crack the top ten. That's insane, the little dude was a total hero.

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Tom Snyder Interviews The Clash on the Tomorrow Show in 1981

tvIf you're my age, you likely remember Tom Snyder as host of The Late Late Show. David Letterman hand picked his idol Snyder to follow him at 12:35 am.

Before all that, Snyder hosted Tomorrow with Tom Snyder and had some neat interviews, like this one with The Clash in 1981. I'll miss that Snyder laugh.

Another gem is this interview with Howard Stern in 1991.

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Tom Snyder, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumTom Snyder was 71. He was a talk show host whose smoke-filled interviews were a staple of late night television.

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Jeremy Hotz

humourI saw my brothers on the weekend, and we ended up talking about Jeremy Hotz. Jeremy Hotz is a Canadian comic who did a great set at the Just For Laughs comedy festival many years ago. We recorded this performance and watched it several times. This weekend, we recited it.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the same experience with one of my wife's friend's husbands. He had the same set memorized and we went through the whole thing. Here are the bits I recall.

  • The New York Zoo in winter - the unnatural state of freezing giraffes and their farts
  • The smell of pee in China town - you never catch the guy doing it
  • Cana-duh - duh is in the name of our country. We should invade a country because nobody will have seen it coming. We'll invade Turkey and name it Chicken.
  • The crack RCMP squad defending the Prime Minister. Guy breaks in with a plastic knife from KFC and Aline Chretien foils the whole plot by closing the door.
  • Stuff in the mail - Mr. Christie, you make good cookies... just don't mail them ya asshole. I used free samples of maxi-pads as coffee filters and now the garbage man thinks I have a terrible disease.

I couldn't find that routine online, but here's another one that's pretty funny.

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Ingmar Bergman, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumIngmar Bergman was 89. He was an iconoclastic filmmaker widely regarded as one of the great masters of modern cinema.

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Michelle is Three

birthdayThat's the thing about kids... they grow up. There's nothing you can do to slow this process down, so I recommend getting comfy and enjoying the ride.

One of the benefits of maintaining a blog like this is I can't forget things. If I want to remember the details of Michelle's birth, I just have to read this. As with James, I got to watch the whole thing, but this time I got to cut the cord. I also shot a little video.

My little girl is three years old today and she's amazing. She's smart, funny, enthusiastic and beautiful, not that I'm biased or anything. Here's how she looked three years ago and how she looks today.

Happy Birthday Michelle!

The Day Michelle Was Born P7285991

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The Whitby 5000 in 24:53

runningEarly this morning, I ran the second 5k race of my life. I ran my first race, the Hazel 5k, in 27:50. With ten more weeks of running under my belt, I was looking to annihilate that time before I move on to the 10k.

5:20am - My alarm was actually set for 5:25am, but my mental alarm went off five minutes earlier than that. I quietly showered, dressed, grabbed my camera and iPod and hit the road. The 401 was nice and empty, and my thoughts drifted to July 29, 2004 when I was driving Toronto streets in the early hours of the morning. This time there was no transport back to the 1930s, but it was calm and serene and I was in Whitby before I knew it.

6:20am - At the check in table, they gave me a badge to pin to my shirt and a hat. I had forgotten I wasn't getting a tee shirt. I'd wear the shirt, but when the hell will I ever wear the hat? I was directed to another booth where I picked up my tag. Unlike the Hazel 5k, this was a strap you velcroed to your ankle and I don't think it was going to feed the results to a web site. The 5k was set to start at 7:45am, so I had a solid hour to kill hanging out by the boats and water and psyching myself up.

My buddy Tim showed up. He lives in Whitby, and I mentioned I was running this race. He decided he'd run as well. I asked him if he ran at all and he told me he used to run but hadn't run in about a decade. Tim was about to learn it's not nearly as easy as it looks.

7:45am - I run faster when I'm running with someone who pushes me. I ran this race alone, and I think it hurt my time. Yesterday morning, I ran a fast 5k, which was probably a bad idea because I didn't feel particularly fresh and zippy during this race. I felt slow.

My plan was to sprint with a kilometre to go, something I've done quite successfully during training runs, but when I hit the 4k mark I just didn't have that extra gear. My target time was 24 minutes, but I started to think I might be able to go even faster. As it turns out, I was barely under 25 minutes. That's 3 minutes faster than my first 5k race time, but I know I can do better.

8:45am - I waited for others from the High Park Running Room to finish, and then we enjoyed brunch at the Whitby Yacht Club. A couple of bagels, some water melon, orange juice and coffee while overlooking the water was a great way to wind down after my second run. The chow was part of the race registration, which almost made up for the fact they didn't give me a shirt.

Here's the Flickr photoset. It's not yet noon, but I feel as if I've enjoyed a full day. My next race is The Terry Fox Run and then a 10k through the Toronto Zoo. That will be cool.


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Michelle's 3rd Birthday BBQ Bash

bbqIn honour of Michelle's 3rd birthday, which is tomorrow, we had a little bbq get together to celebrate. My nephew was born on that same July day back in 2004, so we killed two birds with one cake.

Good times, good burgers, good political discussions, good comedy review and psycho analysis followed. Michelle and Zander seemed to enjoy themselves as well. Here's the photoset to prove it.

My alarm is set for 5:15am so I'm going to try and unwind now. Michelle, on the other hand, crashed long ago. A tonne of chocolate will have that effect on a 2.9999 year old.

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And Barry Bonds Can't Play for Everyone

mlbBarry Bonds sent a 2-1 pitch from rookie Rick Vanden Hurk over the wall in left-center in the first inning last night for a solo shot in the San Francisco Giants 12-10 win over the Florida Marlins. It was the 754th home run of his career.

I'm stunned by how muted the hype is surrounding this pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, but I'm not shocked. In addition to the clear (and cream) signs of steroid use, Bonds is one major league son of a bitch. He's nearly impossible to like as a human being, even when acknowledging he might be the best hitter to ever play the game.

Over the past five years, I've written quite a bit about Bonds. It's the Bonds conundrum: he's statistically awesome but he's an arrogant SOB who artificially enhanced his power.

Personally, I'm not happy that this imminent moment will replace the one you're about to hear. Listen to this, enjoy the goosebumps and understand why Barry Bonds hitting 755 and 756 isn't nearly as significant as it ought to be.

Sorry, Barry... but karma can be an awful bitch at times.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"Fame was like a drug. But what was even more like a drug were the drugs."

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D'oh Canada!

homerSpeaking of positive reviews for The Simpsons Movie, the Globe and Mail had a nice little collection of Cancon Simpsons moments in an article they called D'oh Canada. I like it so much, I'm reproducing it here in its entirety.

D'oh Canada! by David George-Cosh

The members of America's favourite nuclear family have shared a long love affair with their northern neighbours. Everything from the National Film Board of Canada, which gets a credit in the fake film Poke of Zorro (E-I-E-I-Annoyed Grunt, Season 11) to Gordie Howe, as the unsuspecting object of Ms. Krabappel's affections (Bart the Lover, Season 3), have been lampooned by the show's writers, including Calgary's Rob and Joel Cohen and Exeter, Ont.'s Tim Long (the guy you can blame for most of the gags in the Toronto-centric episode, aired in February, 2002).

Simpsons creator Matt Groening even joked that Homer holds dual citizenship (Groening's father, whom Homer was based upon, was born here). Some classic Canadian victims:


When Flanders Failed, Season 3

Homer lies on the couch, watching "exciting 15th-round action at the Canadian Football League draft." Monotone announcers can barely contain their excitement on how many rouges the Saskatchewan Roughriders scored last year.

Lisa the Greek, Season 3

Lisa helps Homer bet on football games, and in researching the sport's origins at the Springfield Library, comes across an "oddball Canadian rules" card.

Our hopes and dreams

Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington, Season 3

When Lisa goes to the U.S. capital to compete in a national essay contest, fellow contestant Trong Van Din mentions in his eventual winning essay ("USA A-OK!") that his immigrant family's choice of a new homeland was easy: "Where else but in America, or possibly Canada, could our family find such opportunity?"

Our geography

The PTA Disbands, Season 6

When the teachers at Springfield Elementary go on strike and Marge fills in as a substitute, she bemoans to Homer how it took her class 40 minutes to find Canada on a map. His reply: "Marge, anyone can miss Canada, all tucked away down there."

And in Girly Edition (Season 9), newscaster Bart reports a feel-good piece about Joe Banks, an 82-year-old man who's gone to the same pond every day for 17 years to feed the birds, only to have them suddenly vanish. To where? As Bart says, "Some say the ducks went to Canada. Others say, Toronto."

The way we talk

You Only Move Twice, Season 8

Bart and Lisa attend a new school after Homer moves to Cypress Creek to start a new job for megalomaniac Hank Scorpio. After Bart gets shipped off into a remedial class, he meets a Canadian kid, Gordy, who congenially introduces himself: "I moved here from Canada, and they think I'm slow, eh?"

In Bart's Friend Falls in Love (Season 3), Milhouse's romance with Samantha Stanky threatens to break apart his friendship with Bart, until her father gets wind of it and ships her off to a French-Canadian nunnery: "They're very nice," she says, "except they never let me 'oot.' "


The Bart Wants What It Wants, Season 13

Actor Rainer Wolfcastle and his daughter Greta go to Toronto for a movie shoot, and a love-struck Bart follows them. The rest of the Simpson clan comes along, with initial apprehension by Homer ("Why should we leave America to visit America Junior?"). As soon as they arrive, Marge falls in love with the city ("It's so clean and bland. I'm home!"). Homer takes advantage of the then-poor exchange rate with a security guard ("American currency! What time would you like your breakfast, sir?"). Bart takes in a very special episode of Curling for Loonies, then lands a spot on the Olympic basketball team - as a centre, no less.

Health care

Midnight Rx, Season 16

To bring affordable prescription drugs to Springfield, Homer and friends drive up to Winnipeg and smuggle back cheap pills. (Ned meets his Canadian doppelganger, who offers him a marijuana joint: "It's legal here!").

And in Homer's Triple Bypass (Season 4), Homer reassures Marge that his surgery will go all right since "America's health-care system is second only to Japan, Canada, Sweden, Great Britain, well, all of Europe, but you can thank your lucky stars we don't live in Paraguay!"

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I Think It's Good

homerI made it all the way to 7pm without reading a single review of The Simpsons Movie. I successfully avoided all Simpsons-related news and the entertainment section of the paper. Then, I decided to get my head out of the sand and see what I'm in store for.

I think it's good. The two papers on my kitchen table gave it a positive review and The Simpsons Movie Rotten Tomatoes page has it at 88%. I'm so happy I could cry.

Scott Foundas from LA Weekly wrote a line in his review that could have been shaved off that spot in my cranium where hopes and dreams are preserved. In his profound words, "...what The Simpsons Movie does -- and does well -- is to revisit the series’ most enduring situations and themes while upping the ante just enough to lend everything a new level of suspense."

Trying is the first step towards failure, but I'm glad the guys behind my favourite show gave it a whirl. Now I just have to see it.

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The Friday Five

The Number FivePeople I tip

  1. Waiter
  2. Waitress
  3. Pizza delivery guy
  4. Barber
  5. Cab driver

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April and Eva Perform Everybody's Different

fbofwI've written about For Better Or For Worse in the past. It's the only comic I read daily, and today's strip has a new layer we could only dream about back in the day.

April and Eva are performing a duet at this telethon and along with the lyrics that appear in the strip we're presented with an MP3 of their song. It's a brave new world, and Lynn Johnston is all over it.

I know you're anxious to hear this masterpiece. Here's April and Eva performing "Everybody's Different". http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/everybodys_different.mp3

Bring the noise.

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Pearl Jam on SNL Back in '92

Pearl JamFor a very long time, Porch was my favourite Pearl Jam song. On April 11th, 1992, Sharon Stone hosted Saturday Night Live and Pearl Jam was the musical guest. First they played Alive, and then they played Porch.

Here's that performance.

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A Toronto Blog For Accordion Guy

Toronto SkylineIn his entry We Need More Toronto Blogs, Accordion Guy calls out popular local blogs that focus too heavily on the local Toronto hipster crowd. Accordion Guy writes that this demo is mostly white, under 30, and only attend events that take place in an area bounded by…

  • Dupont on the north
  • The Distillery District on the east
  • The lake on the south
  • Roncesvalles on the west

In response to this suggestion, I present to Accordion Guy a little blog called Toronto Mike which is a hodge podge of thoughts, rants, observations, bits and bytes from a 416er who...

  • Is over 30
  • Eats meat
  • Plays slo-pitch
  • Openly admits to listening to The Tragically Hip, watching The Simpsons and rooting for the Leafs
  • Has kids
  • Has never kissed a member of the same sex
  • Has never used the phrase “post-modern”
  • Owns a pair of Crocs
  • Doesn't drink
  • Spends time in Etobicoke and (gasp!) Mississauga
  • Has never been mistaken for a hipster, for all the reasons above

Accordion Guy closes his plea with a modest proposal.

We need blogs that cover events in areas outside the hipster core, whether they’re in the near-burbs like Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, or out in the 905 area code. Blogs for people who work in offices, drop their kids off at hockey practice and have Costco memberships. Blogs for people who don’t look as if they were descended from the Family Compact. Blogs for people who both buy fair trade coffee and Harry Rosen shirts. Blogs for people who work the night shift.

Accordion Guy, I've been all over it for five years and 6307 entries.

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Mike Peca vs. Matt Stajan

leafsIt's July 26 and we're expecting a high of 28° here in the big smoke, a perfect time to talk Leafs. Paul Hunter suggests in today's Toronto Star that Matt Stajan may have to go if the Leafs want to re-sign Mike Peca. It's a salary cap issue, and trading Stajan might free up enough coin to score a home town discount with Peca.

Matt Stajan and Mike Peca both play centre, but Stajan is 23 while Mike Peca is 33. The question is, if you could only have one, which one would you keep?

I'd go with Peca. I think our team is better with Peca over Stajan. Peca is lethal on the penalty kill, a tenacious defensive forward who won the Selke Trophy twice. Before he went down with a leg injury last year, I thought he was a huge asset, and we all know what he can do in the playoffs.

As much as we all like Matt Stajan, he's just an okay player who periodically shows a little flash. I'm pretty sure we can replace the ten goals he scored last season. With Stajan, I think what you see is what you get. I choose Peca.

According to the official countdown, there are now 69 days, 8 hours, 55 minutes, and 35 seconds left until the Maple Leafs regular season opener. Giddy-up!


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My Offline Challenge: Week Twenty

runningTwenty weeks ago, I showed up at a Learn to Run clinic at my local Running Room. After ten weeks of learning to run, and now ten weeks of training for a 5k, I start a 10k clinic on Saturday. This 10k clinic is being instructed by Mike and Ale, the same dynamic duo who ran my Learn to Run clinic twenty weeks ago.

I'll miss my target three days of running this week, but that's okay because I have a race on Sunday. Tonight I ran 6k, but it was my first run since Sunday morning. It was a slick 6k around Grenadier Pond that ended with some hills up to Bloor Street. I'm ready for Whitby on Sunday morning where I should destroy my Hazel 5k time of 27:50.

My goal is to run a marathon. It's a long road to the finish line, but I'm right on schedule. Hallelujah.

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Marigold Chimes In

tvIt's not often I hear from Polka Dot Door's Marigold, but she just left a comment on this entry.

I actually played Marigold on Polka Dot Shorts for the eight years it was being shot.

It was pretty fun, you can get tapes at TVO. Patricia Ellingson is still the head of childrens, and you can find the Producer, Jed Mackay on myspace under "It's all Meat"

Good luck.

And yes there was a brown boot. it's name was BOOT.

The Marigold I grew up watching was just a doll and wasn't played by a human, but the younger crowd will likely remember Polka Dot Shorts.

My Marigold was speechless, unless she was whispering something to Alex, Nerene or Denis. Still, it's nice of her to chime in.

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Yet Another Running Playlist

running cdI've completed the new running mix for this Sunday. I didn't use a single song from the last running playlist and I restricted each artist to one song. Each song was selected because it had a running theme, a winning theme, or a general road racing theme.

  • Against the Wind - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
  • Baby Ran - 54-40
  • Body Movin' - Beastie Boys
  • The Distance - Cake
  • Footloose - Kenny Loggins
  • Fuel Injected - Swollen Members
  • Further Again - Staggered Crossing
  • Go - Pearl Jam
  • Fuel Injected - Swollen Members
  • Baby Ran - 54-40
  • Hard Road - Sam Roberts
  • The Long Road - Eddie Vedder and Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn
  • Marathon - Rush
  • Middle of the Road - The Pretenders
  • Nice Guys Finish Last - Green Day
  • No Time - The Guess Who
  • Running - No Doubt
  • Running Out Of Time - Hot Hot Heat
  • Steady, As She Goes - The Raconteurs
  • Tie Goes To The Runner - Public Enemy
  • Where the Streets Have No Name - U2
  • Winning Days - The Vines

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Homer Simpson's Tonight Show Monologue

HomerI don't watch Jay Leno's Tonight Show, but I just found out Homer Jay Simpson performed the opening monologue last night.

Here it is.

And as an added bonus, here's a pretty cool Burger King ad featuring characters from The Simpsons.

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A New Mix, A New Hope

musicI've got to find some time to put together a new running playlist that will get me to Whitby on Sunday morning. Last time I went with tunes that had "run" in the title, but this time I'm just looking for tunes with a running or race theme. "Nice Guys Finish Last" by Green Day and "Against the Wind" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band come to mind.

The van plays this old format called "audio cd" which only holds 80 minutes of music, so that's the target length. It's hard to believe our media used to only hold 80 minutes worth of tunage. How the hell did we ever survive?

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Alice Cooper - Only My Heart Talkin'

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

Alice Cooper - Only My Heart Talkin'
In 1989, Alice Cooper came back with Trash, which was a great rock album. One of my favourite tracks on the disc was "Only My Heart Talkin'", which includes a cameo from Steven Tyler.

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Tom Slick

rewindGeorge of the Jungle and Tom Slick will be forever connected in my mind. The other day I wrote about George of the Jungle, and ever since I've been hearing the Tom Slick intro in my head.

It's a pretty simple tune, and maybe that's the appeal. It's something I could write. If you, Cuz A and Lev enjoyed George of the Jungle after school at grandma's house, you likely caught Tom Slick. Throw this in the nostalgia bin for safe keeping.

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Croc Authority Shunned

cbcNo, you didn't miss me on CBC radio last week. A week ago Olivia contacted me to appear on Metro Morning while they discussed Crocs. This entry has made me an authority on the subject. That's how things work in the world of Web 2.0 dontcha know.

Toronto Mike will not be part of this debate. Here's what Olivia told me earlier today.

Hi Mike,

It's Olivia from Metro Morning...we spoke last week about setting up a Croc shoe debate on our show.

Just wanted to let you know we are running the interview tomorrow. It was short notice because of an article published in the Toronto Star this morning about Crocs being banned in certain hospitals...instead of saving it for a rainy day like we originally planned, we decided to run it ASAP so it doesn't look like we're stealing the story.

We have two guests - a local shoe designer versus a nurse who wears Crocs to work. Because we're pressed for time, I have to cancel a couple of different angles (a podiatrist, two retailers) including yours. I apologize for that - but appreciate that you took the time to talk to us.

The interview may run at 8:15 tomorrow depending on, once again, time constraints. Tune in to see what happens!

Could this be the end of the Ceeb as we know it?

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The NBA's Devastating Pill

NBA BasketballThe FBI is investigating Tim Donaghy for allegedly betting on games he officiated during the last two seasons. NBA commissioner David Stern is holding a press conference this morning and he'll hopefully tell us what they knew and when they knew it.

Refs intentionally influencing the outcome of games is a devastating pill to swallow. It's sport poison, for without integrity, sport is theatre.

Check out this footage of Tim Donaghy's final game, a round two playoff game between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs.

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Chantal Kreviazuk Least Likely to Appear in a Headline?

newspaperThe Associated Press has a story entitled "Singer-songwriters, or just singers?". It's about Chantal Kreviasuk's recent comments regarding Avril Lavigne's songwriting ability and whether artists actually co-write all the songs they get credit for.

As a Canadian, I was caught off guard by the opening paragraph of this article.

Of all the names in music, Chantal Kreviazuk may be the least likely to appear in a headline. Though she recently released her own album, the songwriter usually stays behind the scenes to pen hits with artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne.

Sometimes an artist has a string of hits in Canada and you just assume they've made waves in the American market. Ten years ago, Kreviasuk's Under These Rocks and Stones spawned a number of hits over here, with "Wayne" and "Surrounded" being two of my favourites. Hits like "Feels Like Home" and "Before You" followed, but in retrospect it seems these were only hits in Canada. According to her Wikipedia page, she only struck big in the USA with her cover of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" that appeared on the Armageddon soundtrack.

It's hard to say why some Canadian artists sell well south of the border while others do not. Avril's a household name in the states and Kreviazuk is least likely to appear in a headline. Go figure.

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Call Me Samson

baseballIt was another tidy victory for Raging Storm tonight, but something was missing. For the first time in many seasons, I didn't wear my retro Blue Jays logo cap and wore a Maple Leafs cap instead.

I blame Taryn. Following last Monday's game, I asked her if she'd be able to wash it. She said she would and I haven't seen it since. Tonight, as I prepared for the game, my Jays cap was nowhere to be found. The Leafs cap was an emergency choice.

Samson's strength was tied to his hair and mine is tied to my Jays cap. Now where the hell is it?

Tools of the Trade

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Wasp Season

waspI was just starting to wonder where the wasps are this summer. Until this past weekend, I don't think I saw a single one in our backyard, and now I'm seeing them all over the place.

Did they arrive late this year or is this their usual pattern?

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The Monday Shuffle

iTunesEvery Monday I shuffle my entire MP3 collection in iTunes and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten tunes I heard today with a personal story about one of them.

  1. Marcy Playground - The Vampires of New York
  2. Billy Idol - Love Calling
  3. Kool & the Gang - Jungle Boogie
  4. Regina Spektor - Bonne Idee
  5. The Clovers - Love Potion No. 9
  6. Pearl Jam - Wash
  7. Goo Goo Dolls - Slide
  8. Billy Joel - Uptown Girl
  9. Ram Jam - Black Betty
  10. 2Pac - This Life I Lead

I was going to write about how awesome Ram Jam's Black Betty is, but instead I'll go way back and write about The Clovers' Love Potion No. 9.

As a very young man, I loved 50s music. My favourite cassette tapes were collections of pop hits from the late 50s and early 60s. In the early 80s, a chain of gas stations sold a series of such tapes in a promotion and I loved them all. One song that appeared on this compilation was Love Potion No. 9.

This love of 50s and 60s rock n' roll led to an admiration for The Stray Cats, and Built For Speed quickly became a personal favourite. This was soon replaced by Duran Duran's Rio and the rest is history.

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Simpsons Marketing Blitz

homerWith The Simpsons Movie only days away from your local theatre, The Simpsons marketing blitz is in full effect. 7-Elevens have become Kwik-e-Marts, Simpsonizeme.com is completely overloaded, a giant figure of Homer with a doughnut was painted on a Dorset hillside alongside the ancient 180-foot figure known as the Cerne Abbas Giant and there's a huge painted doughnut at the base of the CN Tower as I type this. This week, our yellow friends from Springfield are everywhere.

As a fan of the series for over 17 years, I'd like to contribute to Simpsons-mania. In addition to my Homer Simpson Quote of the Week, which I've been updating every Saturday morning since August 8, 2003, here are my favourite Simpsons-related entries from the past five years.

James Clobbers Homer

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Link: 680 Traffic and Weather

Link680 Traffic and Weather - This is actually pretty handy to have around. It's the most recent 680 News traffic as an MP3. This one is for locals only.

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The Illusionist

A Movie ReelThe Illusionist: 7 out of 10.

Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti are always good, but who knew Mary Camden could act? Jessica Biel more than holds her own here in an entertaining flick with a funky ending.

This is easily Biel's best work since Ulee's Gold. It's even better than Stealth.

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Walking For Two Years

rewindExactly two years ago today, I wrote an entry entitled "Michelle Walks!". It was about how Michelle took her first solo stroll on July 21, 2005.

Next week, Michelle turns three. She's incredibly well spoken, throwing together complex sentences and engaging in interesting discussions. I often can't believe the insight that comes out of her mouth, and her sense of humour is pretty sharp. And soon she'll be three.

Michelle is the baby of the family, and she's growing up awfully quick. It seems like only yesterday I took this video.

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Mother's Milk and Me

musicBack in 1989, I was a member of Columbia House. Almost all of my disposable income was going toward CDs, so I whipped out a calculator and figured the 7 discs I'd get for a penny made up for the 4 or so I'd have to buy at $20 a pop. I discovered a great deal of new music through this club and in 1989 it helped me discover the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In the monthly magazine, the quote for Mother's Milk read something like this: "The Red Hot Chili Peppers make me want to pee in my pants!". That was all I needed. I ordered Mother's Milk and dove in.

Wow. The quote did this album justice. It was the Red Hot Chili Peppers' fourth album, but it was my first taste and their first disc with guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith. It was a total play through with funky songs like "Good Time Boys" and "Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky", solid singles like "Knock Me Down" and "Taste the Pain" and fantastic covers like "Higher Ground" and "Fire". There was also the instrumental gem "Pretty Little Ditty" and the basketball tribute "Magic Johnson".

I remember how cool it was when Q107 started playing "Higher Ground" and how shocked I was to learn it was a Stevie Wonder song. Their next album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was massive and RHCP belonged to the masses. My favourite Pepper album remains Mother's Milk, as you never forget your first taste.

August 16, 2000 - Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Tammy Faye Messner, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumTammy Faye Messner was 65. As Tammy Faye Bakker she helped her husband, Jim, build a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire and then watched it collapse in disgrace.

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Google Adsense Insight

Google AdsenseI've run ads on this site for about a year now. They're from Google as part of their Adsense program, and their content is driven by my content. For example, if I write about the Leafs, the ads will typically be about Toronto Maple Leafs tickets or memorabilia.

Last Monday taught me a great deal about this program. On that day, I almost earned as much as I did the previous six months. That was the day Slate.com featured their Crocs article which contained a link to my Crocs Conundrum entry. 10,000 page impressions later and Google's cutting me my biggest cheque to date.

Here's what I noticed. There's a core group of visitors who visit regularly but aren't clicking the ads. The Crocs people came in droves and the vast majority of them only hit that entry and didn't click another link on this site, indicating they will likely never return, but while they were here a number of them hit a Crocs ad on the left. It's a numbers game. Get enough eyeballs to a page with ads targeting their interests, and there's a great deal of money to be made.

Without the slate.com link, it would have been just another Monday. I didn't orchestrate the slate.com link, in fact, I only learnt of it when I saw the referrals last Friday, so how do I ensure it happens again?

The answer, is simple. I keep on keeping on. I'll write about whatever, whenever, because you never know what's going to strike a chord and blow up. Or maybe I'll keep writing about Crocs...

The Crocs

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Some SLS18 Submissions

slsOn another beautiful Saturday afternoon in Toronto I'm thinking about late December when the 18th instalment of SLS will be unveiled. Here are a few songs I've recently submitted for consideration.

  • Matthew Good - Born Losers
  • Interpol - The Heinrich Maneuver
  • illScarlett - Nothing Special

Here's the video for Interpol's The Heinrich Maneuver which is pretty cool because it's really only a few seconds of footage dragged out over 3:28. Why didn't I think of that?

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False Attractiveness on Facebook

mouseI may be finished with Facebook, but I'm lingering long enough to throw one more Facebook beef at y'all. On Facebook, everyone is attractive, even when they're not.

All of your friends in Facebook are represented by 50 pixel wide profile pictures. If you visit their profile, this same picture becomes 200 pixels wide. This picture, which they have chosen, always shows them in their best light. Sometimes it's a wedding photo or a shot at the perfect angle with wonderful soft lighting and showing off their best features. You start to think of this friend as their profile picture, and everyone looks their best in their profile picture.

To take this image association one step further, I now forget that my profile picture isn't even me. I've tricked myself into thinking I'm better looking than I actually am, so you can imagine how I'm thinking of others on Facebook. The shock is when you see a Facebook friend in real life and remember how they actually look. They're not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as their Facebook profile pic would have you believe, and that's always disappointing.

Facebook is that dark club after a few drinks. Everyone appears better looking than they actually are. Consider yourselves warned, and be careful who you poke.

Toronto Mike on Facebook

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George of the Jungle

rewindEarlier today, while I built yet another wonderful product from Ikea, I heard a familiar theme song in the background. I heard the theme for George of the Jungle, only it was different than I remembered it. I turned around and saw the kids were watching a modernized version of this cartoon I watched as a kid.

The original George of the Jungle I know and love was from the people behind Rocky & Bullwinkle and was bundled with Tom Slick and Super Chicken. The new version, which airs on Teletoon, doesn't hold a candle to our late-60s George. Damn kids, always trying to modernize our gold.

Here's that classic intro.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"Save me, Jeebus."

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Soccer Captures My Attention

soccerI realize I just shared my total lack of interest in this soccer thing, but I didn't see this coming. Following their loss to Argentina last night, officers detained several members of the Chilean team after a melee broke out.

As facts leak out, it sounds like the Chile players were a little ticked at the ref and the coppers had to step in to protect the zebras. At least one Chilean got Tasered and several were handcuffed. The Chilean government issued a formal protest today to Ottawa over the police action.

Now I'm interested...

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite Audioslave songs

  1. Cochise
  2. Doesn't Remind Me
  3. Show Me How To Live
  4. Be Yourself
  5. I Am The Highway

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One Week To Go

homerIt's almost here. I first wrote about The Simpsons Movie back in February of 2004 and I've written about it a few more times since.

As much as I've been anticipating this movie for the 18 years, I probably won't see next weekend. In fact, I probably won't see it for a few weeks, but I will see it. I wouldn't miss it.

This cats name is Zack Kim and look what he can do. I wish I could do that.

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Aaron Guiel Spreads Hip Love in Japan

tragicallyhipThis Japan baseball update is about Aaron Guiel, a 34 year old from Vancouver Island. He plays for the Yakult Swallows and is a fan favourite at Jingu Stadium. He also loves The Tragically Hip.

What's your favorite music?

I play the Tragically Hip song "New Orleans is Sinking" when I bat at Jingu. I tried to get them to play a different Hip song for every at-bat but that was a little too complicated, we over-loaded somebody, so now we just get one song.

The Yakult Swallows actually play out of Tokyo. They're named after the Yakult Corporation. If you're in Tokyo, you know where to go to hear some Hip.

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Heartache Songs

heartThere are eight songs in my collection with the word "heartache" in the title. Here's the counter punch for the heart songs I listed a couple of years back.

  • Good Morning Heartache - Billy Holiday
  • Tonight The Heartache's On Me - Dixie Chicks
  • That's When Your Heartache Begins - Elvis Presley
  • Nothing But Heartache In Your Social Life - Gord Downie
  • Heartaches By The Number - Guy Mitchell
  • Heartaches & Troubles - Jimmy Reed
  • Good Morning Heartache - Ol' Dirty Bastard
  • Can't Stand The Heartache - Skid Row

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People and Dogs

teardropMy wife can watch a news report about 100 innocent people being slaughtered without visibly responding, but if she sees someone kick a dog in a movie, she becomes visibly shaken and upset and has to turn her head. I haven't told her about Michael Vick, and I don't think I will. I know she won't be able to handle it. There's something about people and dogs.

It must be the centuries of loyal companionship that makes it easier for us to hear about a person being murdered than a dog being killed. Much like we've bred dogs to protect and serve us, we're bred to care for them and treat them as members of our family. It's easy to dislike a person, but it's difficult to dislike a dog. I can vouch for this fact from personal experience.

I never wanted a dog. Shortly after we got married 11.5 years ago, Taryn begged me to let her get a puppy. I stopped fighting it and we bought Booner, a Maltese/Yorkie blend. I always thought of Booner as Taryn's dog, even though I've shared the bed with Booner every night for 11 years. Although she still looks like a puppy, Booner is getting older and I know she won't be around forever. I often joke about the day we get our freedom back, but the fact is I know I'll miss her. She's always there, she's awfully loyal and she's a part of the family.


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Words I Often Mistype

bookI write a lot. Professionally speaking, I'm always writing white papers, press releases, articles, marketing copy, education guides or plain and simple web site copy. As a hobby, I'm writing here. I spend a solid chunk of every day writing, and when you throw a double major in English and History in the mix, I've been doing so for well over a decade.

There are two words I've always mistyped, and I'm not sure why. I know how to spell these words, they're simple words, but my fingers go into autopilot and type a completely different word. These words are "alone" and "say".

Often when I mean to type "alone", I type "along". Even now I had to consciously think about the keys I was punching to make sure I got it right. When I mean to type "say", it often comes out as "saw". Spell check doesn't help, as I'm mistyping a legitimate dictionary word. A wire gets crossed and alone becomes along and say becomes saw.

Strange, but true.

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Unique Marketing Opportunity: Sponsor Our Slo-Pitch Team

moneyIf you're a business owner, entrepreneur or just somebody with a little extra disposable income, I have a unique marketing opportunity you may be interested in.

My slo-pitch team is looking for a new name and new uniforms for next season. If someone was willing to pay our registration fee and buy us new jerseys, that someone could choose our new nickname as well as influence the jersey colours and design.

For example, if you owned a grocery store called "Sam's Grocery", we could be Sam's Grocery with the team name on our jerseys. There would be some value to that exposure in a good sized league, but there's an additional benefit I believe is far more valuable. I would write about Sam's Grocery and their generosity on a regular basis, targeting the appropriate keywords and earning a high rank in Google and the like. The SEO juice will far outweigh the expense.

If you're interested in sponsoring us, I'm interested in speaking with you. The registration fee is approximately $1600 and we'd require about 14 jerseys at $40 a pop. In exchange, you will:

  • Name our team
  • Choose our jersey colour and design
  • Reap search marketing benefits with an enhanced web presence

It's first come, first serve. This note's for you.

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My Offline Challenge: Week Nineteen

runningIt's your favourite entry of the week, my running update. If you're just joining us, I decided earlier in the year I had to run a marathon. You can check out my Hallelujah entries for a little back drop. As a non-runner who had never run before, I started from scratch by enrolling in a Learn to Run clinic at my local Running Room. That was 19 weeks ago.

My 5k clinic is winding down and I'll be starting my 10k clinic in less than two weeks. I'll also be running a 5k race, my goal race for this clinic.

This past week, I got in a great 11k run on Sunday and a nice little run yesterday and tonight. I scored a free hat tonight, and although I'll likely never wear it again, I just couldn't say no to a free hat. Can you?

I think I can run my 5k race in under 25 minutes. In fact, if I don't, I'll be quite disappointed. I'm secretly aiming for 22 minutes, but don't tell anyone, k?

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Toronto the Good

cityhallThe Toronto area has the second-lowest crime rate of all large urban regions in Canada, behind Quebec City, according to figures released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

One of the great myths about Toronto is that it's a dangerous, crime-ridden place. Per capita, it doesn't get much safer. Greater Toronto had 5,020 criminal code offences in 2006 for every 100,000 people. Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton recorded more than twice as many.

Our history as a bastion of 19th century Victorian morality earned us the nickname Toronto the Good. I think it's still appropriate.


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The White Stripes One Note Show In St. John's

musicThe White Stripes played a secret gig in St. John's, Newfoundland. They didn't play a very long set, in fact, they played a single note. Jack White picked up the guitar and hit a C-sharp, putting Newfoundland in the books as the final province The White Stripes would play on this tour. They played in every province and territory in the nation.

Here's the secret gig, caught on tape.

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The Cranberries - Ode To My Family

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

The Cranberries - Ode To My Family
I've always had a soft spot for this Irish alternative rock band. We first heard Dolores O'Riordan's sweet voice on Dreams and Linger, but this was followed by the heavy Zombie and then this great single, Ode To My Family.

Dolores O'Riordan is now married to a Canadian and she's been known to spend a great deal of time in a log cabin somewhere in Ontario. That's another reason to dig her.

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Web Crash 2007

webIt's happening now...

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Some Soccer Thing

soccerWe in Toronto are hosting some big soccer thing. I see lots of press about this, but I couldn't tell you which countries are involved or who's left. I take it this is the soccer equivalent of the junior hockey tournament I watch at Christmas time.

I know Canada was part of this tournament but I understand we went 0-3 without scoring a goal. That's typical. We're the only nation to go gold-less in an Olympic games we hosted, and we did that twice.

Enjoy your soccer. I doubt this is as big a deal as the CBC would have me believe it is, but I'm admittedly not a big fan of the sport. Until we hosted, I didn't know this soccer thing existed.

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Steve Varga Sounds Like A Made Up Name

musicSomebody named Steve Varga took exception to this entry about Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend being a little too similar to The Rubinoos' I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.

It was a rather interesting comment, so I'm reposting it here. The spelling and grammatical errors belong to Steve.

This goes out to anybody caught up in this mishap. Those accusations against my girl for copyright infringment, are bologney, and they are not quite true, there 2 differnet songs and I can prove it. First of all they have 2 differnt meanings, Avril is a very close friend of mine and I have known her for years. I told her " I LOVE YOU" and I called her my "GIRLFRIEND" I do the rumors are true. Then when she was working on the album they decided to write the track GIRLFRIEND I guess Av talked her band into it. The guy she is singing about is me And this song meant something to me, the song was the bands gift to me, and for these guys to put a lawsuit up against her is unfair, and they should have done their reasearch because I'll try my best to be at the trial and those dummies think she coppied it while this is the truth They didn't , they don't deserve a penny, from this and for them to get a settlement they don't deserve is unheard of. I think they are just jelous of her sucess, In the lyrics av said I meantioned it a lot, maybe AV was right women always are I did meantion it a lot I told her "I love you" every day , for the first time the other day I personally did my reasearch and read the lyrics and This song makes sense to me. I am the only guy out there besides her band that actually understands what she is singing about. I also found five other songs with the chorus starting off with" HEY HEY " This is just a big misunderstanding, this is not a copied version if the song was copied The band would have made it a tribute because they do do tributes, which they have done for a number of other bands in the past.

MY name is STEVE VARGA I am 23 years old and I live 1 hour north of Toronto, for anyone who wants to contact me or leave me their comments you can at ferencjames@yahoo.ca

I have the real story and for these guys to say she copied a song that menat so much to me is rude. They owe me and the band an apology and thanks for wasting our time and money. I would be willing to do an interview if someone is available and I also can't wait to talk to Tommy and james about this , I am personally going to review this track with them and explain every line of the song to them, For future references tell them they obviously havn't done there reasearch, don't just assume something,and accuse someone before you find the truth.


LOVE always and forever


Steve is either a stalker or he's got a great story to tell his grandkids.

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When Metro Morning Calls, You Accept the Charges

cbcI received a voice mail this morning from Olivia, a producer of Metro Morning on CBC Radio One. Metro Morning is the top morning show in the city, and even though Andy Barrie is on vacation, I returned the call.

Metro Morning wants to discuss Crocs, and they found this entry via a heavily promoted article on Slate. That makes me an internationally renown Crocs expert and a potential guest on Friday morning's show.

Blogging is strange. You never know which entries are going to explode. I wrote about the Croc conundrum off the cuff and spent about two minutes on it, and now it's most likely the most read entry on this site. Yesterday alone 9,000 unique visitors came to read that entry, and Olivia was one.

I'll let you know if I'll be on 99.1 on Friday. It should be good for shits and giggles.

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If You Could Only Own 20 Albums

cdThere are 1623 complete albums in my collection. That's a lot of music. Imagine if you had to start your collection from scratch but you were capped at twenty discs. Which twenty albums would make the cut?

It's a ridiculous question, because in reality there is no 20 CD maximum, but it's a question that really gets you questioning the value of each album in your collection. If I had to prune my collection to 20, here are the discs I'd own.

  1. Alice In Chains - Dirt
  2. Arcade Fire - Funeral
  3. Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
  4. Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
  5. Green Day - Dookie
  6. Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits
  7. The Lowest of the Low - Shakespeare My Butt
  8. Nirvana - Nirvana
  9. Pearl Jam - Rearviewmirror (Down Side)
  10. Pearl Jam - Rearviewmirror (Up Side)
  11. Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
  12. Radiohead - OK Computer
  13. Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
  14. Soundgarden - A-Sides
  15. System of a Down - Toxicity
  16. The Tragically Hip - Yer Favourites (Disc 1)
  17. The Tragically Hip - Yer Favourites (Disc 2)
  18. Weezer - Blue Album
  19. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
  20. Neil Young - Greatest Hits

That wasn't easy. At the last second I bailed on my Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden selections and went with their greatest hits packages. I figure the mix on Nirvana beats the collective that is Nevermind. I did, however, stick with Alice in Chains' Dirt instead of going with their greatest hits compilation. Tough decisions were made, now it's your turn.

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Remembering My Fractured Foot

medicalWhen I was in grade three, I fractured my foot and wore a cast for six weeks. There was a playground at St. Pius X that featured a fireman's pole. St. Pius X now has a new playground, but this was the old one we built with money raised by selling chocolate covered almonds. The fact it's no longer standing tells you all you need to know about that deathtrap.

We played a lot of tag on that playground, and during such a game I shot down the pole. Fergus Kelly, a bigger boy with about forty pounds on me, came down right after me and landed on my leg when it was in an awkward position. I tried to take one step with it and immediately realized that wasn't going to fly. The principal drove me to St. Joseph's Health Centre where x-rays revealed a fracture and I was put in a cast and given crutches.

I remember getting crutch lessons and how difficult it was at first. This wasn't some fancy modern walking cast, this was the old school casts you couldn't put any weight on. It took a couple of days to master these things, but then I was flying. After six weeks I was a master of the crutches, faster than any able-bodied kid.

When the cast came off, there was a whack of rehab, because I favoured the leg, but in grade four I shocked the track and field universe by not only making the 4x100m relay team, but by winning the Metro finals and missing the city record by 1/100th of a second. The rest is history, as underwhelming as it all may be.

So you see, a fractured foot isn't the end of the world. You can still run your marathon. In fact, you'll likely come back stronger than ever and start kicking my ass. Keep your chin up and be glad today's casts are walkable. And stay away from fireman poles and Fergus Kelly. That's what I do.

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Memorable For Being Unnoteworthy

bseballWe in Raging Storm showed up tonight, played great defence and beat the Sharks 6-4. You don't see many 6-4 games in slo-pitch, but this game was memorable for another reason. It was memorable for being completely unnoteworthy.

Let's review our last four games, shall we?

So you see, the past four nights of ball have all included a great deal of controversy. Tonight, however, everyone showed up, we won a tight one and there's nothing noteworthy to report.

It was just a friendly game of ball. Sorry...

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The Monday Shuffle

iTunesEvery Monday I shuffle my entire MP3 collection in iTunes and list the first ten songs that play. Here are the ten tunes I heard today with a personal story about one of them.

  1. Pay to Play - Nirvana
  2. Evacuation - Pearl Jam
  3. Soldier In A Box - Hot Hot Heat
  4. Ruby Soho - Rancid
  5. Come On Home - Franz Ferdinand
  6. Release - Pearl Jam
  7. Highway to Heck - Bran Van 3000
  8. Fear of a Black Planet - Public Enemy
  9. St. Andrew's Fall - Blind Melon
  10. 5 Days in May - Blue Rodeo

I know I'm supposed to write about Fear of a Black Planet the song, but I'm going to write about Fear of a Black Planet the album instead. Fear of a Black Planet was a very important release in my personal music loving history. The grunge explosion was still a year away and I needed something meaty to bridge me from Appetite for Destruction to Nevermind, Ten and Dirt.

TGFPE. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back came out in '88 and Fear of a Black Planet came out in '90 giving me a few years of Public Enemy gold in my teenage years before Seattle took over my Walkman. If you haven't heard Fear of a Black Planet, you should. They don't make music like that anymore and that's a damn shame.

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Our Love Affair With Signs

CN TowerI once wrote that I like progress but dislike change. I'm wondering if this isn't true of most Torontonians. Over the past few months, three of our city's distinct signs have been threatened, garnering a great deal of press in the process.

First there was the Sam the Record Man sign on Yonge Street. When I learnt Sam's was closing, my first thought was of this great sign that gives Yonge Street such character. Thankfully, this sign is now safe.

Next there was that exploding truck sign on the Chum City Building at Queen and John. It has since been removed as not enough people cared enough to make enough noise to save it. That was probably the way it should have unfolded for as much

Now, there's the Honest Ed's sign at Bathurst and Bloor. With Ed Mirvish's passing, the big question is what his son will do with this property. An article I read on the weekend suggests the sign will eventually go as the property is re-purposed. When this comes closer to fruition, expect an uproar from Torontonians who see the cheesy Honest Ed's sign as part of the fabric of our city. They might be right.

We love our signs, particularly the loud and proud ones that bring a smile to our face on a daily basis. Sometimes you can get away with taking them down, but sometimes, if the sign means enough to enough of us, you'll have a better chance of ripping out our collective hearts. In a sense, that's exactly what you'd be doing.

Sam the Record Man

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Jedi Politics

moviesWatching Clerks II last night got me thinking about Clerks. The reason I loved that movie was because of awesome exchanges between Dante and Randal like this one regarding Jedi Politics.

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Clerks II

A Movie ReelClerks II: 7 out of 10.

Clerks was one of my favourite films of all time. I loved the dialogue, I loved the raw indie feel and I loved the sentiment. Everything was ultra cool, from the Death Star discussion to the ball hockey game on the roof. Even that Soul Asylum tune kicked ass.

I was worried about watching Clerks II because I love Clerks so much. Thankfully, Clerks II is good. It still has that charm and entertaining dialogue, and even Jay and Silent Bob show some restraint that keeps them funny as opposed to annoying. Clerks II is good, but it suffers from the same faulty premise that plagued the even funnier Knocked Up.

Ugly dudes like Brian O'Halloran who work at a fast food joint don't score total babes like Rosario Dawson. At least, not in the real world. And Seth Rogen, bless his heart, doesn't get my Izzy to fall in love with him. It's fiction.

Once you accept this premise-flawing required leap of faith, Clerks II is a winner.

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Finished With Facebook?

thumbsdownI resisted Facebook valiantly, much like I resisted MySpace, until I was pulled into the Facebook universe by a group I wanted to run with. Toronto Mike was on Facebook and I've been there for a little over one month. I think I've had enough.

At first, the social networking power of this community blew me away. It really did feel like MySpace for adults. The interface was clean and intuitive, the discovery of lost souls was fun and just about everyone seems to be there. Although I never dove in fully by posting my high school or real name, I got a good taste for the potential and understood why people love it.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've started to see Facebook as more of a chore than a productive and fun tool. In fact, Facebook revealed itself to be highly inefficient and redundant. Here are my issues with Facebook and why I'm just about done with it.

The Redundancy
I already have an inbox, but with Facebook I have a second inbox. I only want to have to check one and I want all email correspondence filtering through that one funnel. Facebook's inbox won't talk to my preferred inbox, and that's a problem. Furthermore, I'm already a happy and loyal Flickr user for hosting and sharing photos. I'm not interested in maintaining a second album in Facebook. There are redundancies of this nature all over the place. If FB would let me use my existing email and photo album with my Facebook profile, it would make a great deal more sense.

The Honeymoon is Over
For the first few weeks, you're discovering all that has taken place before you got there. There's a group for Michael Power's class of '93, another for a company you used to work at, and so on. After a month or so, you've discovered everyone you'd ever want to discover. Suddenly, Facebook is a chore, one more thing to keep up to date and check.

The Raison d'être Is Broken
I joined for one very specific reason. There was a group created where we would manage our runs. The wall would be used to communicate whether one could make a certain run or not. The wall, and this group, is seriously damaged. Some use it, some don't. There's no consistency as to when someone will declare their absence. There are several false positives, with people saying they'll be at a run only to skip it entirely. Quite simply, you can't trust what you read on the board and this misinformation is far more dangerous than no information at all. I find myself confirming runs and communicating with the leads via email or Gtalk and leaving the bloated and misinformed Facebook element out of the mix.

With redundancies, inefficiencies and apathetic groupees, Facebook isn't that fun and far too work-like for my liking. I'll return to my simple world of this blog, my single email / im client and my Flickr account. You know where to find me if you need me. Less is more.

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The Footwear Five

hangerA long running joke in my house is the number of different pairs of shoes my wife owns. She's a typical female, and that means buying and collecting shoes. Us guys just can't relate.

Now that I've publicly admitted I own a pair of Crocs, I realize for the first time in my life I regularly wear five different pairs of shoes. I don't know how this happened, it just sort of crept up on me. I'm wondering if five is too many for a dude, but I'm not sure where to trim. Here are my footwear five.

The Docs

The Docs

Ah yes, my good ol' 3 hole black Doc Martens with yellow stitching. As you'll read here, I've been buying this same pair of shoes since grade nine. These are my dress up, wedding, funeral and general "gotta look half decent" shoes. I could never, ever give these up.

The Sandals

The Sandals

If I'm going to leave the house in shorts, and it's not to play ball or run, I'm throwing on my sandals. During the summer months, you've got to have a decent pair of sandals.

The Running Shoes

The Running Shoes

I recently started running. In fact, I ran 11k this morning. I learnt very early on that you've got to own a good pair of running shoes. If I'm going for a run or a lengthy walk, I'm throwing on these Brooks.

The Cleats

The Cleats

I play ball twice a week, and that means wearing these suckers. This is like a golfer owning a pair of golf shoes, and that's okay, right? I can't give these up, I need the traction.

The Crocs

The Crocs

These are the infamous Crocs. I wear them around the house. I suppose if a pair of shoes had to go, these would be the ones to bite the dust. Sure they're funny lookin', but you see, they're awfully comfy, and that's the Croc Conundrum...

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John Ferguson, Sr., Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJohn Ferguson, Sr. was 68. He won the Stanley Cup five times as a player with the Montreal Canadiens and was the assistant coach for Canada's 1972 Summit Series victory over the Soviet Union.

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The Fire Amidst That Smoke

rewindOne year ago today I detected a series of searches bringing people to this site. These searches were for statements like "humble howard fired" or "humble howard fired from mix". The first thing I did was check the local news outlets for word that Humble had been canned. Even though there was no evidence that Humble Howard was out of a radio gig, I could smell a story brewing.

I wrote this entry entitled Humble Howard, Are You Okay? that night and the very next day, a Saturday, the news appeared in the National Post. Mix 99.9 had fired Humble Howard and those searches I detected were likely from some of the people in the know, searching for leaks. Little did they know that their search for leaks would in fact cause such a leak.

Over the next few months, as people hit the web searching for Humble Howard status updates and further news on their favourite morning man, that entry I wrote became a place for people to pay homage to Humble for seventeen great years. They came to chastise Mix 99.9 management, to wish Humble well and to say thanks. The 394 comments left on that entry are the most left on any of my 6256 entries to date.

I remember writing that entry one year ago today. It was done completely on a whim, and I almost didn't write it at all. Eleven days later I first heard from Humble himself, we chatted on the phone and hit it off instantly. We've been pals ever since.

I asked Humble Howard if he was okay. I'm happy to report, one year later, he definitely is.

Check out the shades

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The Effect of Music On a Road Trip

carLast weekend we loaded up the van and hit the road for a little road trip. It was about a six hour round trip, so I filled up my new iPod Shuffle, plugged it into my FM transmitter and shuffled my way to Pinery and back.

Never underestimate the positive effect of a good music mix on a road trip. I was singing along with every track, loving every minute of it. I didn't even notice I was driving, it was heaven. I never heard the same song twice and I started wishing the road trip was longer just so I could finish the 1GB of music I had lined up.

With the right music, everything is tolerable. It makes all the difference in the world. It's everything.

A Peek At My Cassettes

Trip planning

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A Movie ReelRatatouille: 8.5 out of 10.

Avoid Ratatouille if you hate funny, charming, entertaining films.

Pixar is 8 for 8 if you're scoring along at home. We'll see if Wall-E makes them an unprecedented 9 for 9.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"Remember that postcard Grandpa sent us from Florida of that Alligator biting that woman's bottom? That's right, we all thought it was hilarious. But, it turns out we were wrong. That alligator was sexually harrassing that woman."

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Don't Hotlink!

boltTohea is a text-based roleplaying game centered around the popular show and game, Pokémon. I only know this because a Tohea forum has been hotlinking to one of my images for some time now. Hotlinking is not very nice, as I absorb the bandwidth cost every time someone loads a page in that damn forum, and judging by the stats that's a whole lotta hits.

Instead of just blocking the hotlink, I decided to have a little fun with the RPG crowd. I replaced the picture of a lightning bolt with an image that reads "Toronto Mike sez Don't Hotlink!"

Here's a screen cap of their forum as it looks right now. Click the image to see it full sized.


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Mo Pete's 542

raptorsMo Pete played 542 games for the Toronto Raptors, a franchise record. His next game will be for the New Orleans Hornets who signed him to a four-year $23 million dollar deal.

Morris Peterson was around a long time, and although I liked him, I never felt he reached his full potential. When I was ready to write him off and move on, he'd do something like this and blow my mind.

When the Hornets come to town, give this guy a seven year salute.

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exclamationpointLast night I threw down my thoughts on John From Cincinnati, a new HBO series airing on TMN here in Canada. I wrote that I had read a negative review in the New Yorker before watching the pilot. I've been corrected.

In fact, Taryn read this negative review in the New Yorker to me before we watched the pilot. I don't read the New Yorker, I just look at the comics.

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Friday the 13th

crossbonesOn May 9, 1980, an independent slasher film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller was released to the masses.

The rest is hockey mask history.

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite Alice in Chains songs

  1. Would?
  2. Them Bones
  3. Angry Chair
  4. Man In The Box
  5. Nutshell

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The Crocs Authority, According to Slate

mouseI noticed a traffic spike to this site this morning, so I checked it out and learnt a link from this Slate article is the culprit.

The article is about Crocs, and they linked to my entry about The Crocs Conundrum. They look nerdy, but they feel good.

Here's Slate's reference to me in The Croc Epidemic: How a heinous synthetic shoe conquered the world by Meghan O'Rourke.

A first-time Crocs wearer will indeed find that the shoes are springy and light, as their fans aver, and cushion the feet with what some have called a "marshmallow fluffiness." On a muggy New York day, the holes punched in the toe box allow for a soothing breeze to cool the sweating foot. Even so, the ratio of shame to comfort was extreme. When everyone else on the avenue is garbed in proper footwear—even something as unpretentious as flat sandals or ballet flats—an adult, it seemed to me, must blush at the sight of her bulbous feet. But those who wear Crocs all day long swear that the springy material holds up like nothing else; one painter reported that his chronic shin splints disappeared after he began wearing Crocs. Thus was born what one blogger has labeled the "Croc conundrum": Crocs make you look absurd, but they can change your life.

Welcome, Slatesters.

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And The Winner Is...

ballWe have a winner in the great re-name the Raging Storm slo-pitch team vote.

Despite my best efforts to sell everyone on "The Zit Remedy", a name I believe would be perfect, the overwhelming favourite amongst my dumb ass teammates is "In The Face".

Let me go on the record in saying "In The Face" is a crappy name, but nobody ever said democracy was flawless. "In The Face" won fair and square.

Maybe I'll just call us The Zit Remedy regardless. Who's going to stop me?

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John From Cincinnati

tvIn the absence of The Sopranos, I was looking for a new drama to sink my eyeballs into, so we decided to try John From Cincinnati.

John From Cincinnati was created by David Milch and Kem Nunn. Milch created the very cool Deadwood, and John From Cincinnati is equally compelling. It's hard to describe, but it sticks to you and draws you in.

I read a negative review in the New Yorker before watching the pilot, so I was ready to ditch it. It has such a weird feel to it I kept coming back for more. I'm five episodes in and digging it, but I keep reading about poor ratings and I fear HBO may pull the plug before I see this through.

Only the good die young.

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It's The Little Things That Kill

nintendoBush's "Little Things" came on my iPod Shuffle during my lunchtime walk. Hearing this song only reminds me of one thing: playing hours and hours of NHL 95 on the Super Nintendo.

I think NHL 95 and Bush's Sixteen Stone came into the house at the same time, because I always associate the two. We'd blast Sixteen Stone on the stereo and play NHL 95 until our thumbs bled. They took out fighting by this point, but you could trade players and play an entire season. It was awesome.

I've played some newer NHL games on the PC, but it just isn't the same. I want to go back to 1995 and take on Ryan again on the Super Nintendo while listening to Come Down.

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Bob Marley Steals From Banana Splitz

musicForget all this Avril Lavigne controversy, this is actually important.

Did Bob Marley steal the "Buffalo Soldier" melody from the "Banana Splits" theme song? I think it's pretty clear he did. Listen for yourself.

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Freddie P Sends Me To Bettman

infoI usually check my RSS feeds first thing in the morning, to take the pulse of the blogosphere. Today I'm behind schedule and I'm only getting caught up now. There's an entry on Freddie P's blog that really spoke to me.

Fred has forwarded my official Toronto Mike Maple Leafs Countdown clock to the NHL offices in New York to show them what Canadian devotion to hockey is all about. He and I are equally pissed about the lack of respect Bettman shows Canadian NHL fans. I suspect Bettman would rather a team die in the Nevada desert than flourish in Southern Ontario.

I met Fred through my buddy Humble Howard and it was clear from the get-go that he was full of good content but lacked the web infrastructure to support it. I sold him on a true blog powered by Movable Type and today he's got permalinks, an RSS feed, monthly and category archives and you can even leave a comment or two. torontomike.com has really taken off and I was just happy to be a part of it.

As for Humble, I sold him on the blog thing first, and he's still tickling the funny bone at HumbleHoward.com. I might even be making a big Humble Howard announcement soon so stay tuned.

And Bettman, assuming you got Freddie P's email and linked on over to this blog, Canada is hockey and hockey is Canada. Never, ever forget that.

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Unintentionally Sexual Archie Comic

paintingI read my fair share of Archie comics growing up, but I didn't realize how unintentionally sexual many of the covers and panels were. This message board has some hilarious examples, and not only from Archie.

Here's one particularly creepy page from Archie. Yikes, that's pretty gay!


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My Offline Challenge: Week Eighteen

runningI totally missed my week seventeen update, so I'm doubling up this week. I write these things for myself and fully realize there's no value to anyone outside of my dusty cranium.

Here are the runs I managed to squeeze in over the past two weeks.

  • Sunday, July 1 - This morning run was long and awesome. It might be my favourite run of all time.
  • Monday, July 2 - Finally my ball game was on a Tuesday night which allowed me to attend my 5k clinic. We ran 10:1s for 26 minutes or so, but I snuck in an extra hill.
  • Tuesday, July 3 - I ran with the good ol' AM2 gang before my ball game. We did 5k and Raging Storm followed that up with a 32-6 killin'.
  • Wednesday, July 4 - I ran another 26 minutes with the 5k clinic. It wasn't particularly fulfilling.
  • Tuesday, July 10 - After six days off, I ran 3k with AM2 and then another 3k with just the Hooster. Hooster's run had lots of hill action, so I actually felt it.
  • Wednesday, July 11 - Tonight I ran 28 minutes of 10:1s with the 5k clinic, but Tall Luke and I threw in an extra km and two extra hills.

That puts us up to date. I don't have another run scheduled until Sunday morning when I hope to duplicate the feat of two Sundays ago. The Whitby 5000 is less than three weeks away.

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Lady Bird Johnson, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumLady Bird Johnson was 94. She was the former first lady who championed conservation and worked tenaciously for the political career of her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson.

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Guns N' Roses' Patience

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

Guns N' Roses - Patience
This might just be my favourite Gunners tune of all time, and that's saying something.

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2007 Maple Leafs Countdown Clock Launched

Maple LeafsThe official Toronto Mike Maple Leafs Countdown clock has been launched. You'll find it at https://www.torontomike.com/countdown.html.

There are only 84 days, 5 hours, 42 minutes, and 16 seconds left until the Maple Leafs opener against the Ottawa Senators at the ACC.

Our Most Important Ornament

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Avril's Peaches Tribute

MusicAvril's crappy month continues... On the heels of the great Rubinoos rip-off comes evidence she's been borrowing from Peaches.

I'm not here to hate on our Avril, but often where there's smoke there's a little fire. Jet did pretty well for themselves borrowing melodies and riffs from others. At least Avril is bumming from artists I've never heard of. I didn't know the Rubinoos and I never heard of Peaches.

Here's Avril Lavigne's "I Don't Have to Try" compared with "I'm The Kinda" by Peaches.

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Honest Eds Memories

TorontoHonest Ed Mirvish passed away earlier today, and that's got me thinking about the man and what he meant to this city. His annual Christmas turkey giveaway is legendary and Mirvish Productions has brought a great deal of theatre to Toronto, but I'm going to focus on more personal memories of Ed.

My mom often told me stories about going to Honest Eds with her mother. It was always a big event and these trips were highlights of my mom's childhood, as money was tight and bargains were to be had. My grandmother, who was born the same year as Ed, led these Honest Eds expeditions and she would glow when she spoke of Ed Mirvish.

If there was a big event to celebrate, my grandmother would invite the entire family to Old Ed's Warehouse at King Street West and Duncan Street. Old Ed's Warehouse, in her opinion, was the place to go. It's since closed, but I have memories of getting dressed up to go to Old Ed's Warehouse for an English cut of roast beef, rolls, kosher dill pickles, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and canned peas, not exactly a kid's ideal meal.

For years I attended a school near Bathurst and Bloor for one day a week. We'd take the subway to Bathurst and I'd see those lights and signs which always brought a smile to my face. I didn't personally shop at Honest Eds, but I liked knowing I could go there and score a 99¢ tee shirt if I needed one.

Honest Ed was a Toronto institution who gave us Honest Ed's and Mirvish Productions, but I'll always remember him for the stories he gave my grandmother and mom. He will be missed.

Honest Eds

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Honest Ed Mirvish, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumHonest Ed Mirvish was 92. He was the Toronto businessman and philanthropist best known for his world-famous "Honest Ed's" bargain store on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets.

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2007 Polaris Prize Nominees

musicThe Polaris Music Price is meant to recognize Canada's best album based on creative quality, regardless of musical genre or sales figures. It's essentially our Mercury Prize.

Last year's winner caught me off guard, so this year I'm predicting Chan VanGaalen will win. I never heard of him/her/them, so he's/she's/they've gotta be cool.

Here are the nominees.

  • Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
  • The Besnard Lakes - The Dark Horse
  • The Dears - Gang Of Losers
  • Julie Doiron - Woke Myself Up
  • Feist - The Reminder
  • Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
  • Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
  • Joel Plaskett Emergency - Ashtray Rock
  • Chan VanGaalen - Skelliconnection
  • Patrick Watson - Close To Paradise

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Brendan Shanahan Double Dare

nhlBrendan Shanahan said he only wanted to play in New York. I didn't believe him. I held out hope the unrestricted free agent would sign with his home town team. Shanahan was true to his word, however, and he just signed a one year deal with the Rangers. It's highly unlikely he'll ever play for our beloved Maple Leafs.

I've always loved the way this guy plays hockey. He has more career goals than any other active player in the NHL. He is my favourite hockey player never to wear the blue and white.

And no, this praise has nothing to do with the fact we went to the same high school. I dare you to say one negative thing about the way this guy plays. In fact, I double dare you.

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See Velvet Revolver in Toronto For Free

musicShowClix is a live music search engine that helps music fans find, track and share live music online. Here's a direct link to concert listings in Toronto: http://toronto.showclix.com.

Lynsie wants you to know that they're celebrating their Canadian launch by giving away concert tickets. In Toronto, they're giving away tickets to see Velvet Revolver at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 12. Here's where you register to win.

I must confess, Lynsie had to cough up a pair of Velvet Revolver tickets to Toronto Mike for the plug. It'll be cool seeing Velvet Revolver, but I'm really psyched about catching the opening band. It's some outfit called Alice in Chains. It won't be the same without Layne, but it sure has my curiously piqued.

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Michael Moore Trashes CNN on CNN

videoMichael Moore has his critics, but I'm a fan. I've enjoyed all his docs and I find him to be a rather sensible and enlightened chap.

Here he is with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The Situation Room kicking ass and taking names.

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Deconstructing SLS17

SLSNow that SLS17 is in the bag, it's time to deconstruct the 20 tunes that made the final cut. How much of SLS17 is CanCon? How many artists are making their first appearance on SLS? Find out the answers to these questions and more below.

  • Canadian Content - 6 (AlexisOnFire, Arcade Fire, Billy Talent, illScarlett, Sam Roberts & Tokyo Police Club)
  • Making Their SLS Debut - 6 (Fallout Boy, The Fratellis, Peter Bjorn & John, The Shins, Silversun Pickups & Tokyo Police Club)
  • Artists That Also Appeared On SLS16 - 5 (AlexisOnFire, Arctic Monkeys, Billy Talent, IllScarlett, & Sam Roberts)
  • Providing a Female Voice - 2 (Tokyo Police Club & Peter Bjorn & John)
  • Longest Current SLS Streak - 3 (Arctic Monkeys & Billy Talent)
  • Longest SLS Drought Ended - 14 (Chris Cornell)

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Pitcher Wanted, Apply Within

baseballThe other day J.P. Ricciardi publicly called out A.J. Burnett. In a similar fashion, I'm calling out our Raging Storm pitcher, M.F.

Mofo, that's three game day cancellations on your part. When a Patino or a Matty bails, it's no biggie. I shuffle the lineup a little and we don't miss a beat. You, however, are our pitcher. It's no secret we don't have an awesome backup, so when you bail on game day we're left scrambling. In the four games you've missed, we're 0-4, mainly because the competition walks their way to a big inning and buries us.

We're 5-5-1 overall, and that fifth loss was the game you were late for, so in games you show up to on time we're undefeated in six. With a reliable pitcher, we're pretty awesome. Without a reliable pitcher, we're a fairly mediocre bunch.

Mofo, what's the deal? Where's the commitment?

To everyone else, if you play slo-pitch and can pitch in games in the Etobicoke / Mississauga neck of the woods, please contact me. If you're a female who can pitch, I already love you. Drop Cito a line...

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Pinery's Sandy Beaches

campingI've returned from a three day escape to Pinery, a Provincial Park on Lake Huron near Grand Bend, Ontario.

I've camped at Pinery before, but not in 16 years. It was even better than I remembered it. The sandy beaches at Pinery beat the crap out of anything you'll find at Wasaga and there's no tacky strip to compete with the landscape. The swimming was outstanding, the trails were fun and the nightly campfires were the icing on the cake. Here's a photoset of pics I took throughout the extended weekend.

This was the first time in quite a while I totally unplugged. For three whole days I didn't hear a single news report on the radio, I didn't read a single newspaper, I didn't catch a millisecond of television or stumble upon a single computer. It's nice to see everything is where I left it and nothing of significance happened in my absence. The cosmic ballet continues...

P7085946 P7085910 P7085949

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women."

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Benefit Concert Fatigue

earthI was just reminded that Live Earth is taking place this weekend. I'm just not feeling it. I think I'm suffering from benefit concert fatigue.

After 9/11 there were a few big benefit concerts, then we had SARSstock, the tsunami, and then Live 8 which was sort of a Live Aid redux. I was down with Live 8 because I dug the line up. Neil Young, Our Lady Peace, The Hip, Gordon Lightfoot, BNL, it was fantastic. Just this past weekend I think they had a benefit concert for Princess Di, but I totally missed every second of it.

Al Gore says Live Earth is to mark "the beginning of a three year campaign worldwide to deliver information about how we solve the climate crisis". I'm totally down with the cause. In fact, I've been making fundamental changes in the way I live my life just to please Mother Earth. I dig the planet, I just don't care about the concerts.

Reviewing the confirmed performers, I'm not overly impressed. I see the Beastie Boys and Foo Fighers are in London, but so is Madonna and the Pussycat Dolls. I'll pass, thanks.

I'm all benefit concerted out and I don't need the Black Eyed Peas to remind me we're poisoning the planet.

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The Leafs Love Unproven Goalies

leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs love to sign goaltenders, but only if they're unproven. This started last summer when we sent Tuukka Rask to Boston for Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft had one decent season and one horrible season under his belt, and we wanted him in blue and white. Go figure.

About a year later, somebody realized Raycroft might not be the #1 we need, and we traded for Vesa Toskala. Toskala, bless his heart, had a solid season last year, but he's never been a #1, and that makes him a rather unproven commodity. We threw 8 million bucks at him to ensure he's in blue and white for the rest of the decade. Go figure.

Earlier today, we signed Scott Clemmensen to a one-year contract. Clemmensen, you might recall, played that final game of the regular season for New Jersey when we needed them to beat the Islanders to slip into the playoffs. Backing up Martin Brodeur, he only got in 25 games over parts of five seasons. No wonder we wanted him in blue and white. He's now third on the depth chart.

Of course, our future rests on the shoulders of Justin Pogge, the most unproven of the unproven. Why the hell not? In the post Cujo/Belfour era, that seems to be par for the course.

How long before we lure Mark Gowan out of retirement?

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Shows I Watched: Night Court

tvAfter Cheers on Thursday nights it was time for Night Court. I actually preferred Night Court to Cheers, but that's mainly because of Dan Fielding.

Night Court was supposed to be about Harry Anderson, but it ended up being about John Larroquette's character. Dan Fielding was "a sex-obsessed narcissistic prosecutor who would do anything to get a woman to sleep with him". Who wouldn't love a character like that?

Here's an intro from the first season, before the cast evolved to include the lovely Markie Post.

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Vacation Songs

campingBecause my Friday Five today totally sucked ass, here's a bonus round. Here's some music for the holidays, otherwise known as my five favourite songs with "vacation" in the title.

  1. A Million Vacations - Max Webster
  2. Vacation - The Go-Gos
  3. Permanent Vacation - Aerosmith
  4. My Summer Vacation - Ice Cube
  5. Mideast Vacation - Neil Young & Crazy Horse

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The Friday Five

The Number FiveMy favourite days of the week

  1. Saturday
  2. Sunday
  3. Friday
  4. Thursday
  5. Wednesday

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Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend vs. The Rubinoos' I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

musicIt's been a rough week for Avril Lavigne. First Chantal Kreviazuk called her out over her song "Contagious" and now she faces a lawsuit by the members of a 1970s rock band who claim her hit song ''Girlfriend'' rips off one of their tunes.

Songwriters Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer alleged in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that Lavigne and her co-writers lifted their 1979 song ''I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,'' which was originally performed by new wave band The Rubinoos. I heard the two songs compared on Edge102 this morning, and they're very similar. The choruses are almost identical.

Here's a comparison of the two songs so you can hear for yourself.

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Toronto Zanta Leaving The Big Smoke?

XXXAccording to this National Post blog entry, Zanta is leaving Toronto for Brampton. Zanta is a rather polarizing local figure. Some love him and many despise him. I never minded the dude or his persona.

Farewell, Zanta. I'm sure you'll be back one day.

Zanta @ the 2006 St. Patrick's Day Parade

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Shows I Watched: Who's The Boss

tvYes, I watched Who's the Boss. After Daisy Duke I think Samantha Micelli was my next crush.

This was a show that hinged on one, simple premise. Tony and Angela had the hots for each other but they could never act on it. Once they did, the show would be ruined. I believe in later seasons they did hook up, but I can't say I was watching at that point. This was one long pre-kiss moment stretched out over several seasons.

Pam and Jim from The Office are sort of our modern day, hipper Tony and Angela. They've kissed, but the timing has never been right. When Tony and Angela started dating, it killed Who's the Boss, and if Pam and Jim start dating, I fear the same, although The Office has far more going for it than this one note.

Here's the Who's the Boss intro with yet another catchy as all hell theme song.

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Random Spot Check of Toronto Mike Traffic

mouseI just took a peek at traffic to this site from 11:30am to 12:30pm. During this random hour, a few visits were rather interesting.



Yes, the good people at Crocs were interested in my Crocs conundrum. As you can see, they actually visited the entry twice. They're likely confused as to whether I was trashing their shoes or not. I called them very uncool, but I admitted they're comfy and convenient.

Ask Jeeves

Ask Jeeves

Ask Jeeves is a pretty big company, so this is likely just an employee checking out my blog. But, maybe Ask Jeeves is looking to buy this site... This may just be a scouting mission as they seek to enhance their online content. Is Ask Toronto Mike coming soon?

The Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune is interested in what I have to say about Elizabeth and Anthony, but who isn't? Elizabeth and Anthony reuniting in For Better or For Worse is the biggest thing to happen in comic strips since Charlie Brown unsuccessfully kicked that football. The Chicago Tribune is one of the ten largest daily newspapers in the United States, I'll have you know.

There you have it, a quick peek behind the curtain. I'll let you know if Crocs offers me free shoes, Ask Jeeves makes a bid or the Chicago Tribune quotes me in their Lynn Johnston expose.

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What Happened to TV Time?

tvI might be a cool white guy, but it's been a month since I wrote that entry and I still haven't stuck Infernal Affairs in the DVD player.

What's up with that? Where did tv time go? I've caught a few flicks recently on TMN and I've been watching John From Cincinnati, but my tv watching time is way down. It's a numbers game. Wind down time is at a premium, and when there is a free hour at night, I'm more likely to spend it in front of the computer than in front of the television.

A.T., I promise I'll find time to watch Infernal Affairs. I really am looking forward to it. Please don't revoke my "cool white guy" status.

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Bill Pinkney, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBill Pinkney was 81. He was the last survivor of the original members of the musical group The Drifters.

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Vedder's Busy Makin' Music

musicEddie Vedder's been busy with his solo stuff. He's finishing some new music for the upcoming Sean Penn-directed film "Into the Wild" and an album of his songs is due in September. Vedder likes to work on Penn films. He's all over the "Dead Man Walking" soundtrack and he recorded a cover of the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" for "I Am Sam."

Vedder has also contributed two new songs, "No More" and "Long Nights," to the documentary "Body of War", and he's recording his favourite Sonic Youth song for the compilation "Hits Are for Squares."

That's a whole lot of new Vedder, which is a very good thing, but when's the next Pearl Jam show? When's the next Pearl Jam album? It's cool to moonlight, but let's not forget the 9-5 that got you here.

Here's Ed Vedder and some guy performing Long Road on the 9/11 benefit telecast "America: A Tribute to Heroes".

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Toskala Extension Overly Generous

leafsOur beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and newly acquired netminder Vesa Toskala have agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract extension. This contract begins after next season.

That's some serious cabbage for a 30-year-old who has never been a number one goaltender in this league. Last season, his best in the NHL, he was 26-10-1 with a 2.35 goals against average and .908 save percentage with San Jose, but Evgeny Nabokov was the #1 guy in town. Throwing a two year $8 million contract extension at this point seems a little risky and overly generous to me.

I hope it all works out and Toskala helps me forget the name Andrew Raycroft. I hope we unload Raycroft to some sucker, sign Cujo to back up Toskala and wait for Justin Pogge to develop into the next Martin Brodeur.

Here are some Toskala highlights to tide us over until the 2007/2008 season begins.

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The Crocs Conundrum

hangerI remember when I first saw them. It was about two years ago and I was in the waiting room of my kids' pediatrician. An entire family came in wearing these colourful shoes that looked like plastic Dutch clogs. I snickered to myself and shook my head. These things looked very uncool.

Shortly thereafter, I learnt these shoes were called crocs, and they were becoming very popular. I laughed at croc wearers. Then, Taryn bought me a pair and I tried them on to see what all the fuss was about.

They're both convenient and comfy. They're ideal if you're around water, and they're breezy and cool on summer nights. This is the great croc conundrum. They look nerdy, but they feel good. What's a guy to do?

My self imposed rule is that I won't wear my crocs more than 15 feet beyond my property limits. In the house and backyard is cool, but if I'm going out I'm switching into my sandals. That's just the way it has to be.... for now.

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Web Sheriff Uses DMCA to Cyber Bully

justiceI received an email from a company called Web Sheriff the other day with the subject line "URGENT/DMCA TAKE DOWN-WHITE STRIPES". Here's what they wanted to tell me.


1. Rights Owner(s) : BEGGARS DIGITAL

2. Rights Agent : WEB SHERIFF


4. Infringed Artist(s) : WHITE STRIPES

5. Infringed Title(s) : ICKY THUMP (single - audio & video therefrom)


7. Infringing Web Site : www.torontomike.com

8. Infringing File Location(s): https://www.torontomike.com/2007/05/the_white_stripes_video_for_ic.html

9. DMCA Request : Remove Infringed Title(s) from Infringing File Location(s) ASAP.

10. Signature : Deborah Sykes for and on behalf of Web Sheriff

Note 1 : The information in the notification is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, Web Sheriff is authorised to act on behalf of the exclusive owner of the rights alleged to have been infringed in this Notification.

Note 2 : This DMCA request is issued without prejudice to all of our client's accumulated, worldwide rights in relation to the infringements specified herein - including, but not limited to, the right to seek injunctive relief, the right to sue for damages and the right to seek criminal prosecutions - all of which rights are hereby reserved.

I don't know who this Web Sheriff is, but the entire premise of their empty argument is bullshit. Yes, I embedded the video for The White Stripes' "Icky Thump" on that page, but it was uploaded to YouTube by Warner Brothers. Warner Music is the legal rights holders, which makes my act completely on the up and up.

I'd like to dedicate this next video to Web Sheriff.

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Shows I Watched: The Transformers

tvAs a kid, I was enamoured with a little cartoon called The Transformers. You may have heard a thing or two about this franchise. I followed the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons closely, cheering on Optimus Prime and the good guys and taking note of their need for reinforcements from Cybertron.

I also had a few Transformers of my very own, including Optimus Prime. I often felt sorry for the Gobots, who seemed to arrive a couple of years ahead of The Transformers, but all's fair in love and Megatron.

Here's the intro with that amazing theme song. You know the words, it's okay to sing along. Don't forget to change your voice for the robotic part.

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Nobody Saw This Coming

fbofwI'm shocked. I checked in on The Pattersons this morning and caught Elizabeth and Anthony sharing a kiss. I just didn't see this coming, did you?

Here's the For Better or For Worse strip, if you missed it. And yes, I'm being sarcastic, if you missed that. The final frame in the final strip will be the words "for better or for worse" at Elizabeth and Anthony's wedding.

You can take it to the bank.

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Weekly MP3: Lost Together

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

Blue Rodeo - Lost Together
This song was #21 on my list of the 100 best songs in Canadian music history. Strange and beautiful are the stars tonight.

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The Final, Binding Vote

voteI know we just held this vote for our new slo-pitch team nickname, but some people thought some important names were left off the ballot. This is the final, binding vote for Raging Storm's new name.

Voting is open until the strike stroke of midnight on July 10, 2007. If you don't sign your name, your vote doesn't count. If you voted in the last election, you'll have to re-cast your vote here.

The Baseball Team
The Zit Remedy
Teenage Angst
Captain Strikeout and the Foul Balls
The Zack Attack
Foul Balls
In The Face
The Mikes
Raging Storm

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Beverly Sills, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBeverly Sills was 78. She was the world-renowned soprano who became the most popular opera singer in America in modern times.

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Too Much of a Good Thing

baseballMy ball team, Raging Storm, has never had a sub-.500 season. Going into last night's game, we were stuck at .500 and looking to break out.

We put up 14 runs and shut down the TPS Warriors in the first, giving us a two touchdown lead after one. That's when Kic gave one of his motivational speeches. He didn't want us letting up, thinking we had this in the bag. He wanted us to keep going, to keep hitting, to keep playing hard. Personally, I save my Win One For The Gipper speeches for decisive moments in important games, but Kic wasn't content with the 14-0 lead, he wanted blood.

We kept rolling, and before long we were up by 25. This is when the ump started coming down on us. Naturally, if we gapped a ball we were running for a double. The ump started calling plays quickly, forcing doubles into singles and ensuring nobody took an extra base. There's no mercy rule, but the ump thought we were running up the score, and he let us know he wasn't a happy camper.

From that point on, we all moved along one base at a time. My sixth hit in my sixth at bat was a nice line drive that would easily have me at second base, but I held up at first. Then, when Engell laced one, I held at second, and so on and so on and so on. It wasn't much fun, but for the first time since I can remember, we were too dominant for our own good.

The final score was 32-6, but it easily could have been 52-6. I just hope we saved a few runs for Monday.

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Boots Randolph, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBoots Randolph was 80. His spirited saxophone playing on "Yakety Sax" endeared him to fans for years on Benny Hill's TV show.

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Hy Zaret, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumHy Zaret was 99. He wrote the haunting words to "Unchained Melody," one of the most frequently recorded songs of the 20th century.

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SLS17 Unveiled

slsIt is with great privilege and honour that I unveil to you the final song list for SLS17. For an SLS primer, go here and to see what appeared on SLS16, go here.

We listened to hours and hours of new rock before deciding upon these 20 tracks. Without further ado, I give you SLS17.

  1. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
  2. Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running
  3. Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
  4. Tokyo Police Club - Nature of the Experiment
  5. The Fratellis - Flathead
  6. Peter Bjorn & John - Young Folks
  7. Queens of the Stone Age - Sick, Sick, Sick
  8. Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm
  9. Modest Mouse - Dashboard
  10. Fallout Boy - This Ain't A Scene
  11. The Shins - Phantom Limb
  12. illScarlett - One-A
  13. Sam Roberts - With A Bullet
  14. Chris Cornell - Billy Jean
  15. Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
  16. Linkin Park - What I've Done
  17. Billy Talent - Fallen Leaves
  18. Smashing Pumpkins - Tarantula
  19. Incubus - Anna Molly
  20. Alexisonfire - Boiled Frogs

I just updated The Complete SLS Database. Look for SLS18 in late December, 2007.

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Citytv Symbolic Truck Removed From CHUM-City Building

citytvIt ain't the Sam's Yonge Street facade, but it's noteworthy. They're taking down the Citytv today, or maybe tomorrow. You know that truck that appears to be bursting out of the side of the building on Queen and John.

We saw this coming when Rogers announced Citytv was leaving the CHUM-City building. It was neat seeing that truck up there, but it doesn't ignite the passion in the belly that would cause you to scream and shout until Rogers promised to leave it be. It's their truck, they can remove it if they like.

The more things change...

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Bon Cop, Bad Cop

A Movie ReelBon Cop, Bad Cop: 6 out of 10.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop was named Best Motion Picture at this years Genie Awards. I had heard many good things about this flick, so I was pretty jazzed when I settled in to watch it this weekend.

Patrick Huard and Colm Feore are very good, and there's lots of funny CanCon revolving around the Ontario - Quebec rivalry. The premise is explained without using actually names and NHL teams. For example, they'll talk about the team from Quebec City that moved to Colorado before becoming champions. Then they'll discuss #88 who refused to play in Quebec City and instead played for Philadelphia. They also refer to The Great One, who was sold to L.A., and Rick Mercer plays a thinly disguised Don Cherry who slags the French and wears rather obnoxious shirts. See how silly it all is?

Even if you get past the cheesy hockey fuelled premise, the movie completely loses you in the final act. The final act and lead up to the climax is just way too long and, quite frankly, boring. The whole charming and fun good cop / bad cop work of the previous 2/3s is pissed away so we can watch a drawn out, cliched cops and robbers chase.

My list of best Canadian movies will not require an edit.

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Playing Ball With Nick Carter

rewindIt was a jam packed long weekend, so I'm going to cheat a little and flashback to an entry I wrote four years ago today.

Published July 2, 2003 @ 09:40

Nick CarterI've gotta share this story, because it's too surreal not to post.

Yesterday my buddy Marc gave me a call and asked me if I wanted to join a pick-up game of softball a few of our fellow teammates started up. With a couple of hours before Ribfest, softball was just what the doctor ordered.

We arrive at the diamond and start warming up. We're waiting for a few more guys to show up before picking teams. Moments later they arrive, and one of these dudes is instantly recognizable. Lo and behold I'm about to play ball with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. No foolin'.

Now I'm not exactly a Backstreet Boys fan, but I'm well aware that there was no bigger band on this planet a few years ago. And on the Backstreet Boy scale, there was no bigger Backstreet Boy than Nick.

So that's my story. Just me and Nick playin' ball on Canada Day. Hot times, summer in the city.

That was kinda neat. He wasn't very good, but I still regret not getting a photograph and him and I.

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My Adidas Bag

thumbsupI needed to take a few things for a quick overnight camping trip, so I threw it all in my trusty Adidas bag.

It occurred to me as I lugged around this old bag that I've been using it for what seems like forever. I believe I received it as a gift when I was about ten years old, and it's been my go-to bag ever since.

If it ain't broken, why fix it? My Adidas bag and I go everywhere together.


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Jason Blake Signs With Leafs

leafsWhile the kids and I were camping under the stars and fireworks, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed unrestricted free agent Jason Blake. Blake scored 40 goals for the New York Islanders last season while no Leaf scored 30.

I like the signing. Blake can clearly score, it tough and can kill penalties. Look for him to play alongside Mats Sundin on the top line. A Leafs who can score goals, whodathunkit?

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Link: 2007 Free Agent Signings

Link2007 Free Agent Signings - A real-time list of player signings since noon on July 1. The Philadelphia Flyers just signed Daniel Briere. No news from Leafsville yet...

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June 2007 According to Search Engines

Search StringsThese are the top searches that referred people to this site in June of 2007. If you're wondering why I get so many people looking for wedding playlists, Google it! The people here looking for the top new rock songs of 2007 are using Yahoo!.

  1. wedding playlist
  2. wedding playlists
  3. top new rock songs of 2007
  4. big shiny tunes 2
  5. edgefest 2007 lineup
  6. stanley cup
  7. clock
  8. celebrity death watch
  9. bill barilko
  10. running music

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Inukshuk on the Humber River

picturesRunning in Etienne Brule Park this morning, I saw a number of inukshuk on the Humber River.

I'm not sure who built them, but it was quite the sight on this Canada Day. From good ol' Wikipedia, here's what they symbolize.

An inuksuk is a stone landmark used as a milestone or directional marker by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. Inuksuit differ from some cairns in significance. The Arctic Circle, dominated by permafrost, has few natural landmarks and thus the inuksuk was central to navigation across the barren tundra.

Inuksuit vary in shape and size, and perform a diverse array of tasks. It is a symbol with deep roots in the Inuit culture, a directional marker that signifies safety, hope and friendship.

I'm all about safety, hope and friendship, so I returned with my camera and created this photoset of inukshuk on the Humber River.


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Top 100 Canadian Songs: The Definitive List

canadaIt's been quite the journey. We kicked off our quest to assemble the greatest Canadian songs in the history of the world back on May 15 and here we are, a month and a half later.

It's unlikely everyone will agree with all 100 choices, many great songs were left on the cutting room floor. This wasn't easy, but I tried to remain objective and take all suggestions to heart. As always, I'd love to read your comments, so don't be shy. Without further ado, here are the top 100 Canadian songs listed in order.

And happy Canada Day, eh?

  1. The Tragically Hip - New Orleans Is Sinking
  2. Neil Young - Helpless
  3. The Band - The Weight
  4. Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
  5. Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy
  6. Stan Rogers - Northwest Passage
  7. Sloan - Underwhelmed
  8. The Guess Who - American Woman
  9. Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
  10. Neil Young - Heart of Gold
  11. Blue Rodeo - Try
  12. Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
  13. The Tragically Hip - Courage
  14. Barenaked Ladies - Brian Wilson
  15. Cowboy Junkies - Misguided Angel
  16. Arcade Fire - Wake Up
  17. Gordon Lightfoot - Early Morning Rain
  18. Neil Young - Rockin' In The Free World
  19. Rush - The Spirit of Radio
  20. The Guess Who - Share the Land
  21. Blue Rodeo - Lost Together
  22. Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights
  23. Our Lady Peace - Naveed
  24. Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
  25. Blue Rodeo - Diamond Mine
  26. Bruce Cockburn - Lovers in a Dangerous Time
  27. Gordon Lightfoot - If You Could Read My Mind
  28. Five Man Electical Band - Signs
  29. Bachman Turner Overdrive - Takin' Care Of Business
  30. Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown
  31. The Guess Who - These Eyes
  32. Blood, Sweat and Tears - Spinning Wheel
  33. Hayden - Bad As They Seem
  34. Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl
  35. Ian and Sylvia - Four Strong Winds
  36. Joni Mitchell - Woodstock
  37. Rush - Closer to the Heart
  38. Joni Mitchell - Both Sides, Now
  39. Our Lady Peace - 4am
  40. Maestro Fresh-Wes - Let Your Backbone Slide
  41. k.d. lang - Constant Craving
  42. The Tragically Hip - Bobcaygeon
  43. Neil Young - Old Man
  44. Dream Warriors - My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style
  45. Sarah Harmer - Silver Road
  46. Jeff Healey - Angel Eyes
  47. The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic
  48. I Mother Earth - So Gently We Go
  49. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy
  50. Joni Mitchell - The Circle Game
  51. The Pursuit of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now
  52. The Lowest of the Low - Henry Needs A New Pair of Shoes
  53. Ashley MacIsaac - Sleepy Maggie
  54. Robbie Robertson - Somewhere Down the Crazy River
  55. Tom Cochrane - Big League
  56. Rush - Tom Sawyer
  57. Moist - Push
  58. Billy Talent - Nothing To Lose
  59. Rusty - Wake Me
  60. The Northern Pikes - Teenland
  61. Sarah Harmer - Basement Apartment
  62. Sarah McLachlan - Hold On
  63. The Tragically Hip - Wheat Kings
  64. Sloan - Coax Me
  65. Spirit of the West - Home For A Rest
  66. Steppenwolf - Born To Be Wild
  67. Crash Test Dummies - Superman's Song
  68. Stars - Ageless Beauty
  69. The Tragically Hip - Ahead By A Century
  70. The Demics - New York City
  71. Barenaked Ladies - If I Had $1,000,000
  72. 54-40 - I Go Blind
  73. Bryan Adams - Summer of '69
  74. The New Pornographers - Use It
  75. The Watchmen - All Uncovered
  76. Treble Charger - Red
  77. Sam Roberts - Brother Down
  78. Randy Bachman - Prairie Town
  79. Sarah McLachlan - Angel
  80. Tom Cochrane - Boy Inside The Man
  81. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know
  82. Skydiggers - I Will Give You Everything
  83. Men Without Hats - Safety Dance
  84. Rough Trade - High School Confidential
  85. Hot Hot Heat - Bandages
  86. Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night
  87. Loverboy - Working For The Weekend
  88. Metric - Combat Baby
  89. Rusty - Misogyny
  90. k-os - Heaven Only Knows
  91. Tokyo Police Club - Nature Of The Experiment
  92. Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
  93. Rheostatics - Record Body Count
  94. Odds - Heterosexual Man
  95. The Gandharvas - The First Day of Spring
  96. The Diodes - Tired of Waking Up Tired
  97. Feist - Mushaboom
  98. Gowan - A Criminal Mind
  99. Grapes Of Wrath - All The Things I Wasn't
  100. Max Webster - A Million Vacations

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