January 2008 Archives

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Dangerous Winter Weather Conditions Imminent

snowflakeHere we go again. The snow watch frenzy is in high gear as we anticipate 25-30cm of snow between midnight and tomorrow evening.

The Weather Network page for Toronto has a "Winter storm warning" in full effect. Here it is:


How exactly do we "listen for updated statements"? It's a textual warning on a website.

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Back Back Back Back Back... Gone!

tvChris Berman goes crazy.

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Pink Elephants on Parade

rewindTonight I watched "Dumbo" for the first time in about 25 years. It was exactly as I remembered it, except for a super trippy pink elephant sequence that begins when Dumbo and his mouse buddy get drunk.

For some reason, I completely forgot about this part. Watching it tonight with the kids, I don't think it was booze Dumbo was tripping on. I think that pachyderm dropped himself a little acid!

Watch the scene and judge for yourself.

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Person Who Traveled the Least Distance to Be Here

homeWhen Homer Simpson attended his high school reunion, he left with the "Person Who Traveled the Least Distance to Be Here" award. This wasn't viewed as a positive thing.

I live less than 4km from my primary school, my high school and the hospital I was born at. Does anyone else out there live less than 4km from the exact spot you were born?

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The Britney Microscope

binocularsWhen you're on your 7134th blog entry, it's likely you've covered a lot of ground. Although I don't have any facts to back this up, I'd guess the most popular subject of blogs is Britney Spears. She's prime gossip fodder with mass appeal and everybody loves staring at a train wreck. I've been going out of my way to not blog about Britney, because I fail to see the blogging delight in gawking at a young mother screaming for help at the top of her lungs.

I'm not suggesting I've never written about Britney Spears, I've just intentionally avoided writing about what's happened these past few years. Searching this site I see I joked about the fact she married a guy named Jason Alexander and I reviewed her recent performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, calling it "sad". That's the word I'd use to describe this society's complete fascination with following every detail of Britney's public fall from grace.

The AP tells me Britney Spears was taken from her home by ambulance early this morning and escorted to the hospital by more than a dozen police officers in cars, on motorcycles and in helicopters. When you want your next Britney update, or Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie updates for that matter, you'll have to go elsewhere.

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Toronto Bills To Play Eight

billsThe Toronto Bills have the NFL's blessing. The National Football League has reached an agreement with the Buffalo Bills that will allow them to play eight games in Toronto over the next five years, starting in 2008.

We won't be able to just buy a couple of tickets to a Toronto Bills game. First crack goes to Argos and Ticats season-ticket holders, then Bills season-ticket holders. The average price would reportedly be $250 a game and fans will have to purchase all eight tickets and pay for them upfront.

In a perfect world the Bills would come to Toronto and change their name to the Argonauts and the Classic Argos would continue to play in the CFL.

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Toronto's Car Pound Scam

moneyI had a 3pm appointment at King and York, and it was colder than a witch's tit out there today, so I was pretty pleased to find a parking meter right on King by the Roy Thompson Hall. I was also pretty pleased that I could buy an hour of time for $3.50. After all, I wouldn't need more than that.

The appointment went longer than expected and I lost track of time and completely forgot that I could only park on King until 4pm. I got to my parking spot at 4:09pm. Note that I got to my parking spot and not my car. My car was nowhere to be seen. When the clock strikes 4, the parking authority tags and the tow truck drivers strike. It was freezing cold, windier than Chicago and I had just been ordered to rest my leg for six weeks. And now I was staring at the spot where my car used to be coming to the realization it had been towed at some point during the previous 9 minutes.

I was lucky enough to spot another tow truck driver doing his thing, and I asked the guy if I could bum a ride to the pound. He was cool with that so I didn't have to go about figuring out where the hell the pound was and paying a cabbie to get me there.

This car pound scam is a killer. They essentially hold your car hostage unless you fork over $105. $105 for getting to my parking spot nine minutes late. And that's not all, there's also a $60 ticket, although I'll go to court to fight that sucker.

I spent $105 to park my car for a little more than one hour but I got home to find an unexpected cheque in the mail from Google. Google's cheque was for exactly $105.

Click an ad on your way out, will ya.

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Let Your Backbone Slide

maestroI learnt a lot about my sacroiliac today, and it's giving me a case of deja vu. Where do I know sacroiliac from?

Oh yes, the year was 1989 and Canada's greatest rap song had just been released. I heard it once, was hooked right away, and learnt the lyrics. Of course, I'm talking about Maestro Fresh-Wes' "Let Your Backbone Slide" which contained the lyric "So many suckers on my sacroiliac".

And yes, the 12 inch below is really mine. Call me a hip-hop, tip-tac-tition.

Let Your Backbone Slide

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Dr. Grant Lum's Diagnosis

medicalThis afternoon, about two months after my right leg quit on me, I met with Dr. Grant Lum, MD, CCFP, Diploma in Sport Medicine. The dude acts as a consultant to the NHL Players' Association and he really seems to know his stuff. I told him my story, most of which you can read here, and performed his many tests.

The doc believes it's my sacroiliac joint. That's the joint between the sacrum, at the base of the spine, and the ilium of the pelvis, which are joined by ligaments, don'tcha know. It's either fractured or knocked out of whack and the result was a complete shut down of the posterior kinetic chain on my right side. Posterior kinetic chain isn't just fun to say, it's also a bunch of important muscles like the hamstring and glutes. With my posterior kinetic chain shut down, I simply don't have the strength to do what I'm used to doing, so after a 3k of running it hurts too much to continue.

He's got a six week treatment that should get me back running, but since he thinks I could have a fracture, he wants me to completely shut down for six weeks. No running, no long walks and no dodge ball. I had to convince him my one hour of skating with James each Saturday could be nothing more than a light walk-like glide to support my six year old. My treatment starts with a chiropractor as we get the alignment right again so my posterior kinetic chain works again.

I know how exciting this is for you all, so I'll post updates along the way. I can't believe my illustrious dodgeball career is over after a mere three games. I could have been somebody. I could have been a contender.

sacroilliac  joint

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Every Super Bowl Logo

LinkSuper Bowl Logos - This is kinda neat. It's every Super Bowl logo to date. It's interesting to see how design has changed over the past four decades.

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Europe - The Final Countdown

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.

Europe - Final Countdown
This one is for George Oscar Bluth, or Gob as he's affectionately known. He uses this song as the backing music for his stage shows and now I can't hear it without thinking of him.

Did you know Europe are from Sweden? It's true, you can look it up.

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Maple Leafs 2, Blues 3

LeafsThis might be the best time to be a Leafs fan. Think about it. If we win, yay! If we lose, yay! As these losses pile up, our odds of making the playoffs slip from 3% and Uncle Cliffy can do what he has to do.

The Raptors lost as well, but in better news for our city, my dodgeball team kicked ass last night. That's two overwhelming victories in a row for Stop Or My Mom Will Duck And Hit You In The Face or whatever we're called. W00t!

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
48 points
5th in Northeast
3-2 Loss vs. St. Louis
2-1 Loss vs. Washington
3-2 Win vs. Washington
M. Sundin - 54
N. Antropov - 41
J. Blake - 32

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Crazy, But That's How It Goes

familyYou never know what song is going to stick. My kids might be exposed to dozens of new songs each week, but only a select few become favourites that they memorize and sing ad nauseam.

For the longest time Michelle was in love with K-OS' "Sunday Morning", and then the kids really got into Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" and Linkin Park's "Bleed It Out". These days, they're all about Ozzy, Michelle in particular.

Her Ozzy of choice is "Crazy Train". She does the "Aye, Aye, Aye, Aye, Aye, Aye" in the beginning and really belts out the "I'm going off the rails on a crazy train" refrain. She just loves to sing "Crazy Train", and that's perfectly fine with me.

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Ernie Whitt, An Original Blue Jay

blue jaysAs I did with Jim Clancy, I'm going to feature 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays.

Like Jim Clancy, Ernie Whitt was an original Blue Jay. He stuck around through the 1989 season and was extremely popular. In fact, he was my brother Ryan's favourite Blue Jay and when Whitt got a hit, Ryan got a high five as if he was responsible. That's how we rolled in the 80s.

There are still plenty of reason to love Ernie Whitt. For one, he's the Blue Jays' Bench Coach. He's also manager of the Canadian National Team. And finally, there's this story.

Ernie Whitt

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23 Ways To Get To First Base

baseballThis article on the rules & quirks in the glorious sport of baseball says there are twenty-three ways to get a man (any man) on first base. At first I didn't believe it, but then I read the list.

Here are the 23 ways you can get to first base.

1. walk
2. intentional walk
3. hit by pitch
4. dropped 3rd strike
5. failure to deliver pitch in 20 seconds
6. catcher interference
7. fielder interference
8. spectator interference
9. fan obstruction
10. fair ball hits ump
11. fair ball hits runner
12. fielder obstructs runner
13. pinch-runner
14. fielder's choice
15. force out at another base
16. preceding runner put-out allows batter to reach first
17. sac bunt fails to advance runner
18. sacrifice fly dropped
19. runner called out on appeal
20. error
21. four illegal pitches
22. single
23. game suspended with runner on first, that player is traded prior to the makeup; new player is allowed to take his place

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Homer Does Kurt

homerAs I referenced earlier in the day, Homer Simpson assumed the persona of Kurt Cobain during last night's episode of "The Simpsons". He led a band called Sadgasm.

Politically Incorrect

This was the first song we heard from Sadgasm. It's a lot like Nirvana's "Rape Me".

Politically Incorrect Redux?

I can't tell if this is a new song from Sadgasm or a different part of "Politically Incorrect". Either way, this one is Nirvana's "Rape Me" to a tee.


I think this one is called Margarine, but it may be called Marjorie. It's not a spin on a Nirvana song but a reworking of Bush's "Glycerine". A grunge spoof has spoofed a spoof, so to speak. It still makes for a great tune.

The Grunge Song

All this grunge satire reminds me of The Radio Free Vestibuels and "The Grunge Song". You remember this gem from MuchMusic. Turn it up!

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My Entertainment Centre Circa 1996

tvWhen I found the bridge pic last night, I found a few other nuggets from the mid-90s. The picture below is my home entertainment system in my very first apartment in 1996. Here's a little more I wrote about 30 Charles Street West, University of Toronto family housing. The rent was dirt cheap but you had to be both a student at the university and married to get in.

Looking at this pic, a few things jump out at me.

  • There's a Super Nintendo on the floor. Until a Nintendo Wii showed up at Christmas, that was the last gaming console I played.
  • I recently dusted off that stereo and moved it to my current bedroom. I was listening to it this morning.
  • That very VCR is still hooked up to the television in our bedroom.
  • It's strange seeing all those CDs out - now that everything is MP3, all the CDs are stored away.
  • That dresser the television is sitting on has been painted green and now resides in our kitchen.

In twelve years, very little has changed!


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Weird Co-inky-dink

bridgeI recently wrote about how we now know what bridge Gord is on in The Tragically Hip video for "Yer Not The Ocean". Patrick, a big fan of suspension bridges, identified it as the Buntzen Lake suspension bridge near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Hit up that entry for a pic.

Yesterday I was browsing an old photo album from the days before everything was digital, and lo and behold I think I found a picture of Taryn and I on that very bridge. The picture was taken during a trip we took to British Columbia in 1998 and it looks an awful lot like the Buntzen Lake bridge.

If this is that bridge, I'll file this one under "B" for big-ass coincidences. For months I've been trying to identify this bridge and it appears a picture of me on it has been in my photo album for a decade.



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Flexible Reality Broken

HomerI tuned into "The Simpsons" last night and enjoyed my trip back to the 90s. The story covered a period of time after Homer and Marge graduated high school but before Bart was born. It sent up 90s stuff like grunge and cigar bars. Homer's grunge songs were actually pretty sweet, mimicking Nirvana's "Rape Me" and Bush's "Glycerine".

Any fan of "The Simpsons" has accepted the flexible reality of Springfield. On this show it's okay to violate laws of consistency for the sake of a joke. For example, if an episode calls for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant parking lot to be visible from the Simpsons' house, that's how it will be for one shot, and that's okay.

Last night's episode, entitled "That 90s Show", wasn't just a piece of flexible reality, it was absurd. We all know the story of Bart's birth and yesterday's episode just doesn't fit the puzzle. Weren't the 1984 Olympics taking place when Lisa said her first word?

On preview, it doesn't matter. They can blow away the space-time continuum so long as it results in a good episode.

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Mighty Mouse Is Most Welcome

raptorsNow that Damon Stoudamire and the Memphis Grizzlies have negotiated a buy out of his contract, he's about to be as free as a bird. It looks like Stoudamire will join the Celtics, but there's a slim chance he could become a Toronto Raptor.

I would love to see Mighty Mouse back in town. He was our first draft pick, our first award winner and our first basketball star, and we loved him. Before he was traded to Portland, he was the man around these parts. Who wasn't a Damon Stoudamire fan?

I'd love to see him back up Jose Calderon and finish up where he started off. Unlike Vince Whatshisname, Mighty Mouse didn't burn the bridge. I'd welcome him back with open arms.

November 3, 1995 - Raptors

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Salt in the Wounds

thumbs downI'm trying to come to grips with the fact I'll never be able to grow a full bushy beard. I can grow facial hair, but after a few days it just looks weak and begs me to shave it off. I've been trying to grow a solid goatee for over fifteen years and it ain't happening.

We recently had the family over for my son's birthday and my brother strolled in sporting a big bushy goatee. This would be like a woman being told she'll never be able to have children and another woman refusing to shut up about how easily she gets pregnant. It's rubbing salt in the wound.

As a guy who can't respectably advance beyond a 5 o'clock shadow, show me some respect and keep your wonderful beards away from me. Until the wound heals, at least.

More about my battle with the beard:


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Suharto was 86

In MemoriumSuharto was 86. He was the former Indonesian President and U.S. Cold War ally who led one of the 20th century's most brutal dictatorships over 32 years that saw up to a million political opponents killed.

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The Painted Veil

A Movie ReelThe Painted Veil: 7 out of 10.

This one is pretty good. It's the Ed Norton and Naomi Watts show and they carry this sucker. I almost didn't join Taryn for this one because the thought of a love story set in 1925 China spooked me, but I caved because of Norton and I'm glad I did.

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My Ten Favourite Duets

musicretroCRUSH posted the best duets ever, so I've decided to follow their lead and throw down my top ten duets.

I've disqualified all duets from bands that are naturally duets. For example, Simon & Garfunkel, Sonny & Cher and Stars. Here are my favourite ten.

10. Eminem and Dido - Stan

9. Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush - Don't Give Up

8. Kim Gordon and B-Real - I Love You Mary Jane

7. David Bowie and Freddie Mercury - Under Pressure

6. Ray Charles and Betty Carter - Baby It's Cold Outside

5. Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash - Redemption Song

4. Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York

3. Method Man and Mary J. Blige - You're All I Need

2. Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong - Summertime

1. Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder - Hunger Strike

Honourable Mentions: Eddie Vedder and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, Chuck D and Scott Ian, Shabba Ranks and Maxi Priest, Neil Young and Randy Bachman, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, Eminem and Dr. Dre, Tom Wilson and Sarah McLachlan.

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Fooled Again

nhlThe older I get, the less I like the NHL all-star weekend. In recent years, I've skipped the entire thing, even the skills competition which I used to love.

This year, I got tricked into tuning in to the skills competition because they were holding a breakaway event that would give points for creativity. I envisioned something like the slam dunk competition during the NBA all-star weekend. It piqued my interest so I made sure I was in front of the tv at 9pm to watch the sparks fly.

As usual, it was disappointing. There were a few attempts to do something funky and different, but they failed. By the end, it was no more exciting than a regular shootout in a regular season game. If anything, the regular shootout is more exciting because the players actually care if they score.

Won't get fooled again.

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Missing Another Big Buzz Frenzy

foodI completely missed the Krispy Kreme kraziness and now the franchise has all but disappeared in these parts. Back in 2001 I read and heard all about the lineups outside Krispy Kreme stores in the GTA. People were going nuts for these donuts and it was a pretty big local story. I never got to a Krispy Kreme to see what all the fuss was about.

That was almost seven years ago, and now I realize I never did get to a Krispy Kreme shop. I hit the web to see where these stores were, and the only one close to Toronto is an outlet on Mavis Road in Mississauga. All the others have closed.

Once again, I completely missed a big buzz frenzy.

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Good Deal

FoodIt's funny how this blogosphere thing works. The other day I saw this entry from Jewelgurl come across my RSS reader. She was writing about a good deal at Pizza Pizza. Last night, we ordered that deal.

For $11.99 Pizza Pizza will give you two medium pizzas with a combined two toppings and a 2 for 1 movie pass. That pass alone is worth about $10, so you can see why I like this particular deal. Of course, after taxes and delivery charge and tip it wasn't $11.99, but it was still a good deal and good pizza.

Pizza Pizza

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20 Movies I Reference Frequently

moviesI like to litter my speech with pop culture references. Often I'll reference a television show or a movie. Most of my television references comes from "Seinfeld" or "The Simpsons", although I have been telling colleagues to "get in that ass, Larry" lately.

Although I reference well over twenty movies, here are the twenty movies I most frequently reference when liberally sprinkling such pop culture nuggets amidst my words of wisdom.

  • Pulp Fiction
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Office Space
  • Fight Club
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Star Wars (all six)
  • Goodfellas
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Scarface
  • The Godfather (I and II)
  • Batman
  • The Natural
  • Braveheart
  • The Naked Gun
  • The Big Lebowski
  • The Princess Bride
  • Teen Wolf
  • Big Fish
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • American Beauty

That list is by no means conclusive, but if you watch those films you'll probably get 90% of what I'm saying.

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The Ex

A Movie ReelThe Ex: 4 out of 10.

I watched a movie called "The Ex" last night, only IMDB doesn't call it "The Ex". They call it "Fast Track". I don't think I've ever experienced the ol' name switch like that before.

Call it what you want, but it stars Zach Braff, Amanda Peet and Jason Bateman and it's awful. It's not funny, it's not fun and it's not at all clever or witty or even entertaining. During this ongoing writer's strike Jason and Justine Bateman made a neat little video I'll throw down at the end of this entry. Jason Bateman, with the brilliant writers who worked on "Arrested Development", produced pure hilarity that entertains me regularly. Jason Bateman, with the writers who worked on "The Ex" or "Fast Track" or whatever this shite is called, made me wince.

Writers are important.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"Because they're stupid, that's why. That's why everybody does everything."

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You Suck At Photoshop

paintI'm a Photoshop user. It's my tool of choice for all my imaging needs. I pop into Photoshop at least once every day and I'm pretty good at it, but I know there's still a great deal to learn.

There's a series of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube that absolutely rock. They're not only educational, they're hilarious. Heck, even if you don't use Photoshop I'd recommend them.

Here's episode #4.

Here are the previous chapters:

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Welcome to the Vatican

crossBrian Burke is a smart guy. Today he made the following statement.

I am flattered by all this (attention in Toronto), because this is a great job you are talking about, if you are Catholic, this is the Vatican - Maple Leaf Gardens, the Air Canada Centre, the players in the rafters. (Toronto) is an Original Six team and it is the epicenter, with Montreal, of the hockey universe, and I am flattered by all the attention, and that someone would think that I was the right guy for this.

He must be a smart guy, because after that statement he said he was happy in Anaheim and wasn't interested in running the Leafs right now.

I agree this is the epicenter of the hockey universe, but if MLSE is running the Vatican, God help us all.

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Losing a Reader

mouseI'm losing Argie. Argie is a reader of this blog who has threatened to stop reading. He made the statement in the comments of this entry about Dubya's many lies.

Before I ever saw Argie comment over here, I saw him commenting on torontomike.com. I don't know him personally, but his comments are always ultra conservative. In that same thread about Dubya's many lies he actually tries to argue George W. Bush isn't a bad president. Next he'll try and argue that our Toronto Maple Leafs are a great hockey team. Here's the comment he just wrote:

Mike: I was just reading some of your previous posts on Harper and Bush. Boy you’re scary! You’re so Toronto (i.e. left) that I don’t think I can visit your blog anymore. It’s nice to get opinions from both right and left but you seem more Jack Layton than Stephanie Dion. There’s no hope for you unless of course you enlighten yourself and sway a little - actually a lot more - to the right.

I'm not a political blogger, but I write about whatever is on my mind, and occasionally that's political charged. Sure, I've defended same-sex marriage and the decriminalization of certain pot offences, but I don't think that makes me scary. In fact, I'll bet my socially liberal views are shared by the majority of Torontonians. As Argie said, I'm so Toronto.

Argie, let's agree to disagree. You want me to enlighten myself by swaying a lot more to the right and I want you to enlighten yourself by swaying a lot more to the left. I'll miss your visits, but as Popeye said, I am what I am.

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The Best Shabba Ranks Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite Shabba Ranks songs

  1. Trailer Load a Girls
  2. Respect
  3. The Jam w/ KRS-One
  4. Twice My Age (Remix) w/ Krystal
  5. Ting A Ling

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Black Music for White People

musicBack in '91, I listened to a lot of Shabba Ranks. Don't look so surprised. I wasn't just about the grunge scene. A friend turned me on to Shabba and I spent a lot of time listening to As Raw As Ever and other singles from the popular Jamaican dancehall recording artist.

The other day I dropped a Shabba lyric while with a non-white friend and he winced. He told me Shabba Ranks was reggae for white people. I was shocked. I only have a white person's perspective, and I just assumed non-white people enjoyed Shabba as much as I did.

Since this enlightening discussion I've revisited my Shabba Ranks collection and I've realized two things. Firstly, it's far cheesier music than I remember it being 17 years ago, and secondly, the fact it's poppy reggae probably means it's black music for white people.


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Maple Leafs 1, Capitals 2

LeafsYou know things are bad when you're envious of the Washington Capitals. They're only a point out of first heading into the all-star game, anchored by one of the best players in the game. Alex Ovechkin scored both goals last night. The SOB is good.

The All-Star break is here, and that's precisely what we need. This is one of those seasons you just want to fast forward. Let's get to the trading deadline, watch Uncle Cliffy try and clear the deck, and see who comes in as our next GM. In 2008/2009, we'll try this again.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
48 points
Tied in 4th in Northeast
2-1 Loss vs. Washington
3-2 Win vs. Washington
3-2 Loss vs. New Jersey
M. Sundin - 54
N. Antropov - 41
T. Kaberle - 31

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Nobody on Holiday Music

mouseWay back in November 2003 I wrote about holiday music. No comments appeared on that entry until last October when somebody in the guise of "Nobody" wrote "I listen to Christmas songs every day on tape.".

Since that entry, "Nobody" has chimed in 13 more times. He or she posts these humorous updates on their Christmas tapes. Here's an entry left earlier today. "I changed my mind and decided to listen to some Christmas music on YouTube rather than on tape."

I hope "Nobody" keeps going. I want to see how this ends.

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Calling the Sports Doctor

medicalI guess it's time for an update on my right leg. I have a pretty good sense for what news is most buzzworthy, and I'm guessing my right leg is the hot topic of the moment. If you need a refresher on how I hurt my right leg and what I've been through trying to heal it these past two months, visit my running page.

I've had a handful of physiotherapist appointments, and I really like the physiotherapist who seems to know his stuff, but he's admitted he's stumped. He doesn't know how to treat me because the diagnosis doesn't make sense. There's been no improvement in two months. I can't run 4k or go on a lengthy walk without immense pain, but I experience no discomfort when I play slo-pitch or dodgeball. This has the physiotherapist puzzled.

I'm getting awfully frustrated because I really miss running, so I got my bud Hooster to hook me up with a great sports doc downtown. Next Wednesday I'm off to Athletic Edge Sports Medicine so we can figure out what the hell is wrong and how we treat this thing.

I'll post an update after I meet with this guy. He is involved in the care of recreational, elite amateur and professional athletes, including players in the NHL, NFL and NBA. And now he's involved in the care of Toronto Mike.

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Commodore PET

rewindThe first computer I ever enjoyed was the Commodore PET. My dad would bring it home from work on weekends in the late 70s and very early 80s. My three favourite games were horse racing, where I'd essentially bet against simulated racetrack odds, lemonade stand, where I'd manage a virtual lemonade stand, and Eat Man, a complete rip-off of Pac Man.

Comparing the Commodore PET to today's PCs is a lot of nostalgic fun. We had virtually no graphics to speak of, no colour, no mouse and the storage medium was something we called a Commodore Datassette. That was essentially a dedicated computer tape recorder that looked like a cassette deck.

We eventually got a Commodore 64, but the Datassette lived on. "Press Play on Tape #1" was our marching orders and we complied. 'Load"*",8,1' 'Run'


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Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 2

LeafsThe Uncle Cliffy II era is off to a roaring start as Vesa Toskala made the big save and Mats Sundin scored the big goal. You've got to wonder where we'd be if Toskala hadn't missed a chunk of games with that groin injury. We could be in 10th place right now.

The AP has this little tidbit at the end of their game summary. "Fletcher says he'll examine an expanded role for former Leafs captain Doug Gilmour." This comes days after Deep Throat sent me this little note:

Neighbour works for MLSE - watch for Dougie as in comments. Cliff still has to respond to the board. Total control - NO. He is a bandaid for the next 19 months. This situation will be just if not worse than with JFjr. At least he had confidence from Peddie & Fletcher still doesn't from Tannenbaum. TOO BAD SOO SAD for the hockey capital of the world in such dissaray.

After promising to bring in a proven GM, I can't imagine MLSE would give Doug Gilmour the role. It does seem, though, that they're grooming Gilmour to be the GM-in-Training. The Dougie watch is in full effect.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
48 points
4th in Northeast
3-2 Win vs. Washington
3-2 Loss vs. New Jersey
4-2 Win vs. Buffalo
M. Sundin - 54
N. Antropov - 41
J. Blake - 30

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Peddie's Puppet: Does Fletch Live?

mlse suxEarlier today, I wrote yet another anti-Peddie entry. In that entry, I linked to Howard Berger's blog. Felix clicked through and read Berger's latest entry which includes an intriguing discovery he just told me about.

Beginning at the 4-minute, 43-second mark of the press conference, Peddie unmistakably begins mouthing along with Fletcher as the incoming GM reads his statement. Cliff says: "I'd like to thank Richard and the board for making me..." and then Peddie's lips start moving "...the custodian of the keys for a period of time. And, I look forward to the challenge, and to a few tough months ahead." Peddie looks away from Fletcher, then turns his attention to the veteran hockey executive at the 5:09 mark of the video. And, again, he begins mouthing the words Fletcher is speaking.... "move the club ahead to the next level so it can compete with all the top teams in the league, so it can eventually lead to playoff success."

I've posted the video below. The fun begins at 4:43. Is Cliff Fletcher yet another puppet? Can Fletch say anything without rehearsing it so often with Peddie that Peddie's got it memorized? Are these Cliff's words or Richard's?


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935 Lies

usaShockingly, Dubya's administration lied like a rug during the two years following 9/11. A nonprofit journalist organization called Center for Public Integrity worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

If you're scoring at home, Dubya won with 259 fibs with Secretary of State Colin Powell finishing second.

Worst. President. Ever.

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Jim Clancy: An Original Jay

bluejaysThroughout the 80s, there were two starters we could rely on. Jimmy Key came around in 1984, but before him there was Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy.

Dave Stieb got most of the glory, but Jim Clancy was consistently great. He was a Jay since day one back in 1977 and an all-star in 1982, but today he's known best as the answer to a trivia question.

The next time you're with a group of baseball fans, ask them to name the losingest pitcher of the 1980s. Despite his decent ERA and pile of wins, the answer is our very own Jim Clancy. The fact is, you have to be pretty good to hold a record like that. Weaker pitchers won't get the starts necessary to reach 119 losses.

I'm thinking about Jim Clancy today because a certain blog reached #54.

Jim Clancy

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Talivaldis Kenins, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumTalivaldis Kenins was 88. He was the pioneering Canadian composer known for masterful works such as his Second Piano Quartet, Concerto for 14 Instruments and Symphony No. 4 for percussion and ensemble.

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Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

leafersNow that I've had a little time to reflect upon the big news from MLSE yesterday, I'm ready to share my thoughts on the subject.

John Ferguson, Jr. might be a really swell guy, but he wasn't a particularly good General Manager. I never felt comfortable about our direction with him at the helm. There were some bad trades and poor signings, but he shouldn't have been hired for this job in the first place. I'm glad he's gone.

Uncle Cliffy has loads of experience and should have the smarts to do what needs to be done, but I don't believe he's the answer either. There is no answer so long as Richard Peddie is still part of the hockey administrative process. Read Howard Berger's take on that for more of how I feel about Richard Peddie.

I realize I'm beating a dead horse here, but I won't start to believe again until Peddie is out of the hockey mix. Here are six related entries you might want to revisit.

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Platinum Blonde - Standing in The Dark

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.

Platinum Blonde - Standing in The Dark
Last night, during dodgeball, someone threw on a mix of 80s tunes. I heard Bon Jovi and Kenny Loggins and for some reason I started thinking about Platinum Blonde.

Platinum Blonde were huge in the mid-80s. I was listening to 680 CFTR and they played the crap out of "Cryin' Over You" and "Situation Critical". The Toronto Star used to print posters of CanCon acts each Saturday (or was it Sunday?) and I remember the Platinum Blonde poster well. I don't think it made it on to my bedroom wall, but I did collect these posters for a while. That will be our little secret...

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Heath Ledger's 10 Things I Hate About You

moviesHeath Ledger appeared in some critically acclaimed films. He was in "Monster's Ball" and "Brokeback Mountain", two award winning movies I've never seen. When I think of Heath Ledger, I think about "10 Things I Hate About You".

"10 Things I Hate About You" was a silly little 1999 romantic comedy based on Billy Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew". It was also a lot of fun and included this memorable scene where Ledger's character sings "Can't Take My Eyes Off You".

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White Whine

linkEvery so often I come across a blog with a premise I wish I had thought of. Today, I discovered White Whine and wondered why the hell I didn't think of that first.

It's essentially a new white person complaint every day. Today's complaint is “My chiropractor has the worst selection of magazines in his waiting room; I mean, thanks, but I already read November’s issue of Golf…back in November!” Last week the complaint was, “It takes over 300 dollars in gas to get from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back. If I knew that I wouldn’t have bought the damn boat, it’s cheaper to fly.”

They're all pretty funny. Here's one I can relate to. “What’s wrong with Nintendo that they can’t get enough Wii’s in for Christmas. They had the same problem last year!”

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Learning to Dodge That Ball

DodgeballTonight, I played my second game of dodgeball this season. We lost the first game last Tuesday but tonight we destroyed the competition. I thought I'd share my thoughts of the game of dodgeball now that I've had some seasoning.

First and foremost, dodgeball is hard on your throwing arm. By the end of the hour, your arm feels like it's going to fall off. Even lifting my arm to touch my right ear hurts. You're drilling the ball at the opposition with all your might but you can't let them catch it, so you just throw like a maniac. By the time my arm is feeling normal again, it will be time to mess it up again with game #3.

Dodgeball is far tougher than you'd think. There are four balls in play at all times and sometimes the opposition will have them all. That's when you're weaving and dodging and flipping and flopping to stay alive. With every game I got stronger as I got a feel for the timing and strategy, and now I'm loving it. It's a fantastic way to spend 60 minutes.

I just hate our team nickname. It's Duck Or I'll Hit You In The Face or something like that. I would have gone with something snappier. Just try yelling "Go Duck Or I'll Hit You In The Face Go!"

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Heath Ledger, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumHeath Ledger was 28. He was the Australian-born actor nominated for an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain."

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Leafs Axe John Ferguson, Jr.

leafsAccording to reports, the Toronto Maple Leafs have relieved John Ferguson, Jr. of his General Manager duties.

This move should have happened last summer, but I digress. We'll see if we go redux and bring in the man who led us to game 7 of the Campbell Conference finals. Damn you Kerry Fraser!

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80th Annual Oscar Nominees Unveiled

oscarI've yet to see any of the five films nominated for best picture this year, but that's not unusual. I've got a date to see "Juno" next week and "No Country for Old Men" is on my short list. The other three films up for the top prize are "Atonement," "Michael Clayton" and "There Will Be Blood."

There's strong CanCon this year. Halifax actress Ellen Page and Montreal-born director Jason Reitman are up for Academy Awards for their work on the film "Juno." Toronto's Sarah Polley has received a screenplay adaptation nomination for "Away From Her," adapted from the story The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alic Munro. Canadian productions also vying for Oscar gold include two animated short films: "Madame Tutli-Putli" and "I Met the Walrus".

Go Canada go!

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The Steps of the Lincoln Memorial

megaphoneOn August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

This is one hell of a powerful speech. Every time I hear it it blows me away.

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Bob and David and Humble

mouseFor over a year I've been trying to get Humble Howard to tell me what look he likes for his blog. We modelled a look that resembled the cover of his book "The Slime That Men Do" but it's been in need of refreshing for a while now.

My recent entry about David Cross got Humble to visit http://www.bobanddavid.com/ and that's when Humble realized the look he likes. He likes the clean, simplified look and feel of Bob and David's site, so I went about mimicking that style for HumbleHoward.com.

Ok, I didn't mimic it. I essentially stole large chunks of the HTML and CSS and made modifications from there. Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, I'm admitting I didn't reinvent the wheel on this one and remember, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Check out the new HumbleHoward.com when you get a chance. It's still a work in progress, I still have some fine tuning to do, but you'll already see the uncanny resemblance.

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Maple Leafs 2, Devils 3

LeafsThe three game winning streak is over and Cliff Fletcher is back from vacation. The rumour mill is in overdrive suggesting that JFJ's dismissal is imminent.

I've got my full team covering this breaking story...

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
46 points
Tied for 5th in Northeast
3-2 Loss vs. New Jersey
4-2 Win vs. Buffalo
3-2 Win vs. Boston
M. Sundin - 52
N. Antropov - 39
J. Blake - 30

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It's All About The Brett

nflAs I type, there is 6:57 remaining the 4th quarter of the NFC championship game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. It's tied at 20. I don't follow the NFL like I used to, but I'm watching with a passionate rooting interest. It's all about The Brett.

I want to focus on these last seven minutes, so I'm not going to run down the 101 reasons why this game matters. There's a taste here, if I'm being too cryptic. #4 epitomizes something that transcends the game of football. He's playing for something more. Brett Favre gives us all hope.

Over a week ago I changed the header image for this site so it included a number four. Many of you emailed me, wondering what the heck it meant. It means something special. There is only one player in the National Football Player I'd do that for, and that's #4.

There is now 5:09 to play. It's Brett's time. This is for all of us.

Brett Favre

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Happy 6th Birthday, James

balloonsAm I really the proud father of a six year old? Time flies when you're having fun, and James has made these past six years more fun than a barrel of monkeys at Monster Jam.

It's fitting James turns six on the day of the NFL playoffs because I was preparing to watch the Rams and Packers when I got the call to haul my ass to Women's College Hospital. It was January 20, 2002, and I had no idea what to expect from fatherhood. I've since learnt it's essentially one mind-blowing moment after another and that I have the greatest son on the planet.

<parentalgush>James is bright, inquisitive, sweet, a good brother, an amazing son, full of spirit with passion in the belly. He's naturally kind and generous, careful never to hurt a fly and a very hard worker. In other words, James is all the best parts of his parents in one adorable package. He's already a far cooler dude than his old man and I love him to death.</parentalgush>

Here's the best of James' first six years. Happy 6th Birthday, son!

JR3 Mike and James james092702-3 James october30-2004-james2 Family Portrait James at Skydome august31-2005-bc24 James James Love James Taryn and James Go Leafs Go

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Monster Jam 2008

thumbsupAs mentioned, I spent last night at the entertainment complex formerly known as SkyDome and witnessed Monster Jam 2008. James and I both had a blast, it's far more fun than you'd imagine.

It reminded me of the 80s when I'd attend wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens or Exhibition Stadium. Grave Digger is Hulk Hogan. He, if a car can be a he, has the biggest fan base and gets to freestyle last. The crowd goes nuts for Grave Digger, the salty old vet that was popular when I was a kid. Superman's driver actually dresses in a Superman suit, Monster Mutt is a big hit with the kids because he looks like a dog and more than a few kids had tee shirts supporting Taz and Bulldozer. If you ask this guy, the most entertaining monster truck all night was something called Safe Auto Minimizer. Safe Auto Minimizer needs an image makeover. Might I suggest The Dungeon Master or Mudslinger?

It might not raise the IQ or add culture to the diet, but it's three hours of fun, and that ain't so bad. Here's my Flickr photoset from the event.

P1196761 (29)

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Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 2

LeafsThis is a strange team. On paper, they're terrible. On the ice they're pretty bad too, but here they are refusing to quit, winning three in a row. It's only the second time this season the Leafs have won three or more games in a row.

We're only 5 points out of the playoffs. We'd better hold on to Sundin, we're gonna need him!

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
46 points
Tied for 5th in Northeast
4-2 Win vs. Buffalo
3-2 Win vs. Boston
5-4 Win vs. Carolina
M. Sundin - 52
N. Antropov - 39
J. Blake - 30

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Suzanne Pleshette, Rest in Peace

In Memorium Suzanne Pleshette was 70. She was the husky-voiced star best known for her role as Bob Newhart's sardonic wife on television's long-running "The Bob Newhart Show."

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Allan Melvin, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumAllan Melvin was 84. He was a character actor with countless credits best known for playing Sam the Butcher on "The Brady Bunch."

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Forgiving David Cross for Alvin and the Chipmunks

moviesHe had me at "Mr. Show with Bob and David" and he cemented his hold on my funny bone in "Arrested Development". David Cross makes me laugh. "Mr. Show with Bob and David" and "Arrested Development" are two of the funniest shows I've ever had the privilege of watching and David Cross played a huge role in both.

David Cross has a pretty big role in "Alvin and the Chipmunks", a movie I saw this afternoon with my son and a bunch of his friends. It would be oh-so easy to say Cross sold out with his role of Ian. It's not a funny role nor a particularly clever role. Without a doubt, Cross did it for the pay cheque, which you'll read in this fantastic blog entry David Cross wrote.

In that entry, Cross defends his choice to play Ian in "Alvin and the Chipmunks". He lists four mitigating factors: the movie is meant for kids, he doesn't care about the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, he hadn't worked in a while and...

I live in NYC for a reason. I enjoy it here. I have numerous creative friends and we share much of the same sensibilities. We rarely, if ever, talk about "the business", which I really like. Something that people constantly talk about in LA, which I really don't like. This comes with a cost of course. It's expensive to live here. I have a pretty modest lifestyle, I live in the same relatively small 1100 sq. foot apartment since I moved here. I don't own a car, don't go out "clubbing", and don't really own anything of much value. I am in no way hurting for money but I guarantee you that I have much, much less than you think. The reason I bring this up is because two years ago I decided that I wanted to get a small place upstate. Nothing fancy, a small cottage on at least a couple of acres near some water where I could get out of here, get some fresh air, buy a smoker, make some b-b-q and hang out with my dog on the porch. I looked informally for a long time but never found anything that I liked in my price range. Then finally, after much disappointed searching, I did. It's a small cottage on 5 1/2 acres in the middle of the woods in Sullivan county. It has a largish stream running through it and best of all it's in the middle of nowhere. No town, no nothing. Two hours outside the city and only about a ten minute drive from the Delaware River. Perfect. It was a little more than I had budgeted for but it was definitely worth it. I asked the owner if he'd take some of my credibility as payment. He looked at me as if I was an alien with A.I.D.S. speaking some intergalactic gobbledy-goo. I had to patiently explain to this country bumpkin about my indie hipster cred, and I would now like to cash it in. This rural rube was so backwards and ignorant that he couldn't even conceive of how financial markets work and simple free market capitalism. I tried again to explain the concept of the value of "credibility" and "artistic integrity" but he refused to take it in exchange for the house. This guy was a fucking idiot! But what could I do? He wouldn't take no for an answer. If I wanted that cottage I would have to pay him money. Sigh. So I used my "Alvin and the Chipmunks" money to pay for the down payment. Seriously, I totally did.

That's great stuff. In the same entry Cross admits to having a Google Alert for himself so he reads all the blog entries and articles about him. That means he'll likely read this one.

David, you owe me no explanation as to why you'd star in a steaming pile of crapola like this. "Mr. Show with Bob and David" and "Arrested Development" earned you a lot credit with me. Just don't appear in an Alvin sequel, k?

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Don Wittman, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumDon Wittman was 71. He did the play-by-play for Grey Cups and Stanley Cups, plus covered curling, golf and track and field.

I remember him best for his call of Ben Johnson's 100m Olympic final in 1988 and Donovan Bailey's gold medal triumph in the same event in 1996.

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Alvin and the Chipmunks

A Movie ReelAlvin and the Chipmunks: 5 out of 10.

First and foremost, all 7000 kids I saw this with loved it. I thought I'd open with the most important detail before reviewing it as a 33 year old adult.

This movie is carried by the complete cuteness of the animated rodents. Those who think Jason Lee sells out with this flick should see "Underdog" and those who think David Cross sold out with this film should read the entry I'm going to write in 25 minutes.


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We'll Sell You The Whole Seat, But You'll Only Need The Edge

exclamationpointJames' birthday weekend extravaganza continues as we return to SkyDome tonight for Monster Jam. This is where I'd normally insert a joke about being the only guy in the place with a university degree and all my teeth, but I'm not going to do that. For the fourth time in 8 days I'll be in the dome but this time I'm there to see Grave Digger, Monster Mutt and Superman and other world class trucks do their jumps, stunts and even some thrills and spills.

I'm not really a Monster Jam kind of guy, but I think James will get a kick out of it and it's gotta be good for shits and giggles. Once, while working at the CNE in '89 or '90, I got free tickets to see Robosaurus at Exhibition Stadium. Robosaurus was famously spoofed in The Simpsons episode "Bart the Daredevil", but I saw him first. He was 40 feet tall, breathed fire and ate a car. That's pretty cool.

We'll see what Grave Digger, Monster Mutt and Superman are up to tonight. I'll snap a few pictures. Yee haw!

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Why Pixar Is Every Parent's Saving Grace

moviesSoon I'll be sitting in a theatre with a bunch of five year olds watching "Alvin and the Chipmunks". It's times like these my thoughts turn to Pixar.

Pixar is every parent's saving grace when it's time to take the kids to the movies. Every Pixar film is as enjoyable for adults as it is for kids. They're perfect, but there's only one a year. Sometimes you can find salvation in a Dreamworks production, a "Shrek" or a "Happy Feet", but usually you're stuck with "Alvin and the Chipmunks".

At least I'm going in with low expectations. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised? Ya, right...

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"I don't want to go, so if he asks me to go, I'll just say Yes!"

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Rick Nash's Amazing Goal

nhlIn case you missed it, Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored this gem against the Phoenix Coyotes last night.

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Buntzen Lake Suspension Bridge

bridgeLast March I shared the video for The Tragically Hip's "Yer Not The Ocean" and asked if anyone knew where I could find the featured suspension bridge.

Some guessed it was the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver but that wasn't it. Then some thought it might be the suspension bridge at Scenic Caves in Collingwood, Ontario, but that wasn't it either. Now, almost a year later, we have an answer. This comment was left on my Flickr account.

Hello Mike,

You won't need a passport to visit this suspension bridge! The bridge in the video is the Buntzen Lake suspension bridge near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Of course you can just search "buntzen lake suspension bridge" on "everyone's photos".

While I haven't been to that one yet - I have been to 696 other suspension bridges. It's a hobby of mine; as a quick view of my postings to Flickr will attest. I've been to BC to visit suspension bridges, but just didn't get to Vancouver.

I first became aware of your request for this bridge's location through your Toronto Mike blog, but ended up here on Flickr which I'm very familiar with.

Best regards,

So there you have it. If you want to see the bridge below, head to Buntzen Lake. Thanks, Patrick!

Yer Not The Ocean

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Toronto Blog: A Google Pursuit

googlePeriodically I'll target certain keywords in Google just to test certain SEO techniques. When I picked up the domain name torontomike.com to complement torontomike.com, I decided I should target the search toronto blog. This is, after all, a blog with a Toronto-centric angle.

With fairly little effort I started ranking in the top ten on Google, but I seem stuck in either the 3rd or 2nd spot. There are a couple of bigger boys targeting the same keywords and they're tough to catch. Quite simply, they have a helluva lot more inbound links with the anchor text toronto blog.

I just took the screen cap below that currently shows me in 3rd. I'll update this little challenge when I'm on top of the Toronto blog food chain.

Google Search

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Best Iggy Pop Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite Iggy Pop songs

  1. The Passenger
  2. Lust For Life
  3. Real Wild Child
  4. I'm Bored
  5. Cold Metal

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Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 2

LeafsIt would have been easier for all of us if this team had just stayed down. Perhaps there's still a little pride running through those veins, and now they've gone and won two in a row. It puts me in a tricky spot.

I'm trying to root against them, because I believe it's best for our long term health, but last night before the shootout, there was no doubt who I was rooting for. I yelped, I cheered, I practically cried tears of joy. It was a thing of beauty and now our beloved Leafs are back in the hunt. Peddie, JFJ, Maurice, they can all keep their jobs. We've won two in a row.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
44 points
5th in Northeast
3-2 Win vs. Boston
5-4 Win vs. Carolina
3-2 Loss vs. San Jose
M. Sundin - 51
N. Antropov - 37
J. Blake - 31

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Bobby Fischer, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBobby Fischer was 64. He was the reclusive chess genius who became a Cold War icon by dethroning the Soviet world champion in 1972 and later renounced his American citizenship.

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Vinyl Memories

musicToday, I listen to all my music as MP3s. It's usually on the computer or in one of my two personal MP3 players. In my three decades of life, this is my fourth format.

In the beginning, all my music was either on vinyl or cassette tapes. At some point in the 1980s I ditched vinyl for CDs and eventually, in the mid-to-late 90s, I ditched cassette tapes. In this decade, I went digital and said goodbye to CDs.

This entry is about vinyl. There was always a good record player in the house growing up, but I wasn't really allowed to mess with it. I remember going to Consumers Distributing and picking a mini-stereo out of the catologue that was to be my very own. This mini-stereo didn't just have a dual cassette deck and AM/FM radio, it was also a record player.

With a record player in my room, I started collecting 45s. I used to buy them at Sam the Record Man at Jane and Bloor. The pic below are two from my collection I saved, The Travelling Wilburys and George Harrison solo. I loved my 45 singles.

Downloading a 99 cent song from iTunes doesn't quite have the same charm.

The Travelling Wilburys and George Harrison

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I Look Like A Chick

binocularsAll my life, I've been told I look like my mother. It's strange being told you look like a woman. Whenever I doubt the resemblance I just have to delve into the vault to see it's true.

This picture below is an old photo of my mother I recovered when I was cleaning out my grandmother's cellar. It's my mom as a girl guide and if you isolate the face and trim the hair a bit, it could me me when I was 14.

I look like a chick. Freaky.

My Mother In Uniform

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I Am Not Optimus Prime (Or Am I?)

spookyOne of the cooler gifts James got for Christmas is this Optimus Prime mask. It looks cool, but that's not what I love about this gift. When you wear this thing, there's a voice synthesizer that makes you sound like Optimus Prime.

I grew up watching Optimus Prime and when I put on this helmet, I am Optimus Prime. I love giving orders to the kids in this voice, but there's one problem. It scares the bejeezus out of 3-year old Michelle.

I'll tell Michelle it's just daddy in the mask, she'll watch me put it on, but the moment I speak she starts crying. In my Optimus Prime voice I'll say "It's just daddy, Michelle... it's just daddy," but that won't help.

The thing is, she doesn't get scared when James wears it. Maybe it's because I've mastered Optimus Prime's lingo. Autobots, roll out!

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Fire Peddie

leafsThe hot link making the rounds amongst Leafs fans this week is http://www.firerichardpeddie.ca/. They've got 11481 signatures so far and they're promising to print and send the list to the MLSE offices each Friday.

As I wrote back in November, I sincerely believe Richard Peddie should be the first to go. I'm sure Peddie is a smart businessman, and his condos are sure to be a hit, but when it comes to managing a hockey team, he's in way over his head. It's mistake after mistake and there's no hope so long as he's calling the shots.

I don't for one second think this petition or my little entries will make a difference at MLSE, but if I don't vent periodically I'll explode in a cloud of blue and white smoke.

The Passion That Torments Us All

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Iggy Pop - The Passenger

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.

Iggy Pop - The Passenger
I love this Iggy Pop tune. It's from his 1977 album Lust For Life which David Bowie helped write and produce.

Bonus Trivia: Iggy Pop's real name is James Newell Osterberg, Jr.

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WiiSports Is Still Wii-ly Fun

wiiWe've owned a Nintendo Wii for about three weeks now, and we're still loving it. Just about every day we play WiiSports or WiiPlay. I'm a big fan of the training exercises, particularly the baseball drill where you face 30 pitches in a row and you see how many you can hit. I could play that one all night long.

James is pretty good at bowling, but his favourite game is boxing. I've noticed an improvement in his hand-eye coordination over these past few weeks. He's making better contact at the plate, getting pretty competitive in tennis and actually hitting home runs in the home run derby.

My only competition thus far has been a five year old and three year old, except for golf which is Taryn's favourite game. She's never beat me, but she did have a two stroke lead heading into the ninth hole once.

I'd like to try the true baseball for the Wii. According to this video, it comes with an actual bat. I've just got to remember to use the wrist guard.

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I Don't Care If It's Your Birthday

familyWe've planned a birthday party for my son on Saturday. He's turning six and he'll take a bunch of his friends to a movie to celebrate. Normally, since it's his birthday, I'd let him see the G-rated film of his choice. But this time, I vetoed his selection.

James chose to see "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie". Now that he's too old to watch Treehouse TV, he sees ads. The ads for "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie" did what they were designed to do, because both he and his 3-year old sister were sold. When I found out I'd have to sit through "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie" on Saturday, I pulled rank.

I love my son, but watching "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie" is cruel and unusual punishment and I just won't do it. At least "Alvin and the Chipmunks" has David Cross in it, and I can ride 92 minutes on fumes of nostalgia.

Sorry James, I don't care if it's your birthday, I ain't watching "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie".

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Maple Leafs 5, Hurricanes 4

LeafsThis might be the first time in my life I was sorry the Toronto Maple Leafs won. The third period took place while I was playing dodgeball, so it was on my drive home that I heard we were victorious. My fear is that MLSE will view these two points as hope we can go on a miraculous run and secure 8th place in the conference.

In reality, this was a one-goal victory at home against a struggling team on home ice. Quite frankly, it's two points I'd gladly throw back in the pool. The Sword of Damocles must fall.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
42 points
5th in Northeast
5-4 Loss vs. Carolina
3-2 Loss vs. San Jose
5-2 Loss vs. Los Angeles
M. Sundin - 50
N. Antropov - 37
J. Blake - 29

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Brad Renfro, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBrad Renfro was 25. He was the actor whose career began promisingly with a childhood role in "The Client" but rapidly faded as he struggled with drugs and alcohol.

I thought he was pretty good in "Bully".

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I Don't Call It Scarlem

cntowerJon Stewart has a great line about Canada. "What do we think of Canada ... we don't". With apologies to Jon Stewart, I don't call Scarborough Scarlem. I don't call it at all.

You've likely read the Star article about Scarborough politicians' frustration with being disrespected by their Toronto cousins who live west of Victoria Park Ave. Personally, I don't draw the line at Victoria Park. I use Yonge street to divvy up the city.

Five years ago I wrote about EoY and I. EoY stands for East of Yonge, and I wrote about how whenever possible, I avoid EoY completely. This has been the case my entire life. Whether it's going to school, a movie theatre, out to dinner, shopping, for a bike ride or even to a concert or sporting event, I am least comfortable when I'm EoY.

I've always lived in the 416, West of Yonge Street. My entire life is based West of Yonge. It's got nothing to do with crime rates or anything like that, it's just how the cards have fallen. It's my parents fault for raising me West of Yonge and it snowballed from there because everything I enjoyed and pursued seemed to be located West of Yonge.

I avoid Scarborough, but I have never, ever called it Scarlem.

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Second Harvest and Lunch Money Day

foodJordan is a member of my slo-pitch team Raging Storm and a socially conscious citizen of the world. When Kic got angry at the ump for calling a game at six innings with 18 minutes on the clock, he threw an empty bottle of Gatorade on the field of SkyDome. Seconds later, Jordan was out there to pick it up. That's how she rolls.

Jordan works for Second Harvest who provide food to 250 social service programs in the Greater Toronto Area. Their big fund raising day is something they call Lunch Money Day and it takes place on February 21, 2008. On this day they ask Torontonians to donate the money they would have spent on their lunch to Second Harvest to help them feed the thousands of men, women and children who depend on their services.

I wanted to give you all a head's up about this before my dodgeball game tonight, because she'll be there and I promised her at the dome that I'd spread the word about Lunch Money Day. I encourage companies and schools to register online at www.lunchmoneyday.com and run a campaign for this great cause. The campaigns can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Ideas range from bake sales and karaoke contests at schools, to a dress down day, company sponsored lunch or even a week long email bingo game at work. Second Harvest will provide all participants with the materials they need to run their campaign. Again, there's more info at www.lunchmoneyday.com.

$5 will provide our less fortunate with 10 meals. I'll remind you all about Lunch Money Day on the big day, but I wanted to give you a chance to spread the love beforehand.


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An Even Dozen

weddingTwelve years ago today, on a cold January afternoon in Toronto, I married Taryn. It's funny what you remember a dozen years later. I remember all the costs. $53 for a marriage license at City Hall, $53 for the ceremony at Old City Hall and $165 for a couple of rings from a guy in the basement of the Eaton Centre. I also remember watching Melrose Place that night and feeling like we were pretty mature. She was 20 and I was 21.

Twelve years later, I'm happy to say it was fantastic foresight on my part. This easily could have been a disaster, but twelve years later we're still in love, we have two amazing kids, we still dig each other and the spark is still there. She's my best friend and I love her to pieces.

Happy 12th Anniversary, Taryn.

The Wedding

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Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus

bluejaysConsidering how injury-plagued both Troy Glaus and Scott Rolen are, I waited until they had passed their physicals before wading in on the Glaus for Rolen deal between the Jays and Cardinals. Assuming Rolen's shoulder holds up, and that's a big assumption, this is a great deal for our team.

Rolen is better defensively, carries a decent bat, and I never liked Troy Glaus as a Blue Jay. We gave up Orlando Hudson to bring Glaus to town, and O-Dog was the best 2nd baseman to play in this city since Roberto Alomar. I really miss O-Dog, and although he's not coming back, Glaus is leaving town.

This is an upgrade. Now they just have to make it official.

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Johnny Podres, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJohnny Podres was 75. He pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955.

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Vedder Wins Golden Globe

PJThe 65th annual Golden Globe Awards were awesome, weren't they? The biggest casualty of the writer's strike to date, the Golden Globes were awarded via some kind of a press conference thing. It somehow seems fitting that Eddie Vedder would win in a year when the pomp and circumstance is completely absent. He always was rather shy about his fame.

Vedder won Best Original Song for "Guaranteed" from Into the Wild. Here's the video for that tune if you haven't seen the video yet.

Pearl Jam in Toronto

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SoccerMom Starts A Blog

mouseI'm always fascinated by how few blog visitors actually contribute with a comment. This blog has a small handful of regulars who leave comments, and some of these regulars have blogs of their own. I've been to Jill's blog, Roshan's blog, Al's blog, James' blog and Jason's blog and I had a role creating Humble's blog, Freddie's blog and Buffalo Boy's blog. The fact is, the vast majority of blog readers don't leave comments and the vast majority of commenters don't have blogs of their own.

One regular commenter is SoccerMom. Her comments are typically pretty funny and sometimes more entertaining than the entry itself. She just sent me this note:

Hey Mike, I am very inspired by you and hh and freddie and all the other bloggers out there, so I started my own little write it down site.


I'll be checking it out. In fact, I've already subscribed to SoccerMom's RSS feed.

Who's next to jump into the blogosphere?

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DodgeballI've never played dodgeball, but I've seen the movie. It looked like a lot of fun, and soon I shall see. I've joined a dodgeball league.

My first game is tomorrow night, so today I hit the web to learn the rules. I learnt about the opening rush, the 5-second violation, and how you substitute.

I don't know if I'm any good at dodgeball, but I'm about to find out. If it's as fun as the movie made it seem, I'm going to have a blast.

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Love Songs You Should Never Play at a Wedding

bad wedding songsI just posted 50 "love" songs that are suitable for a wedding. That was by request from Bella Rose down under. As I was putting that list together, I realized there are plenty of songs with "love" in the title that would be totally inappropriate for a wedding.

Here are 25 "love" songs you should never play at a wedding.

  • I'm Not In Love - 10cc
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart - Neil Young
  • Love Hurts - Nazareth
  • Love Bites - Def Leppard
  • You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
  • Love Removal Machine - The Cult
  • You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) - The White Stripes
  • What's Love Got To Do With It? - Tina Turner
  • Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town - Kenny Rogers
  • Not In Love - Platinum Blonde
  • Love Buzz - Nirvana
  • Tainted Love - Soft Cell
  • If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags) - Maria McKee
  • Every Day I Love You Less and Less - Kaiser Chiefs
  • No More I Love You's - Annie Lennox
  • Don't You Love Me Anymore? - Joe Cocker
  • Used To Love Her - Guns N' Roses
  • Where Did Our Love Go? - The Supremes
  • Love Stinks - J. Geils Band
  • You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - The Beatles
  • Muscle of Love - Alice Cooper
  • Love in an Elevator - Aerosmith
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
  • Love Is A Battlefield - Pat Benatar
  • I Love You Mary Jane - Sonic Youth & Cypress Hill

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Love Songs For A Wedding

heartI put together a 100 song wedding playlist when my brother got married in 2006. An Australian with the fantastic name Bella Rose chimed in this morning with this comment:

Hi Mike!!

Thank god I found your post! Your list is exceptional!!!!!!!

I am trying to compile a list of songs for my step daughter, she is getting married in March, and she wants me to pick the music!! It's a hard one, they aren't really into much, just R&B, so I was wondering if you have any ideas for that.

She initially asked me to pick songs that have the word LOVE in them OMG!!!!! It can be any era, or genre except for Country LOL!.

So....you can imagine...I have been on the computer for 2 days trying to find things...oh well it will be an awesome day, and I am privileged to get to pick the music I guess? :P

Ok enough rambling from me, but if anyone has any ideas please let me know! My email addy is bella_rose32@hotmail.com

Cheers from Australia
Bella Rose

At one point I actually listed my ten favourite songs with "love" in the title, but that seems insufficient. Bella Rose needs more help than that.

Here are 50 "love" songs suitable for a wedding.

  • Let There Be Love - Oasis
  • The Face Of Love - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder
  • Love Is A Rose - Neil Young
  • Feel Like Makin' Love - Bad Company
  • Dedicated To The One I Love - The Mamas & The Papas
  • Let Love Rule - Lenny Kravitz
  • Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
  • All My Love - Led Zeppelin
  • Give My Love To Rose - Johnny Cash
  • Love - John Lennon
  • Prisoner Of Love - James Brown
  • The Power Of Love - Huey Lewis & The News
  • We Are In Love - Harry Connick, Jr.
  • Radar Love - Golden Earring
  • Bizzarre Love Triangle - New Order
  • I Want To Know What Love Is - Foreigner
  • Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley
  • Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley
  • I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
  • Friday I'm In Love - The Cure
  • Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream
  • I'll Make Love To You - Boyz II Men
  • One Love - Bob Marley
  • Is This Love - Bob Marley
  • To Love Somebody - Blue Rodeo
  • Cradle of Love - Billy Idol
  • All You Need Is Love - The Beatles
  • Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe - Barry White
  • I Love You - Barenaked Ladies
  • Love Shack - B-52's
  • I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) - Aretha Franklin
  • Crown of Love - Arcade Fire
  • Love Is - Allanah Myles
  • Love and Happiness - Al Green
  • How Deep Is Your Love? - The Bee Gees
  • Stand Inside Your Love - Smashing Pumpkins
  • I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
  • Love Rescue Me - U2
  • Greatest Love Of All - Whitney Houston
  • All For Love - Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting
  • This Maniac's In Love With You - Alice Cooper
  • I'm Still In Love With You - Al Green
  • Love Song - 311
  • Love, Reign O'er Me - The Who
  • Sowing The Seeds Of Love - Tears For Fears
  • Interstate Love Song - Stone Temple Pilots
  • Love Spreads - Stone Roses
  • True Love Waits - Radiohead
  • Somebody To Love - Queen
  • State Of Love And Trust - Pearl Jam

Later today I'll post 25 more "love" songs you don't want to play at a wedding.

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Angels Laid to Rest

baseballSkyDome was not kind to Boonie's Angels. The fact I'm home writing this tells you we didn't qualify for the playoffs. It was fun and I'm glad we gave it a shot, but we weren't particularly good.

Here's a collection of thoughts...

  • At 4:15am, it took me 8 minutes to get to SkyDome.
  • At 4:15am, it's impossible not to speed. The speed limit on South Kingsway is 50km/h but just try going less than 70 at that time of day.
  • At 4:15am, 102.1 played House of Pain's "Jump Around" and Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain" back-to-back. Perfect.
  • Hankering for breakfast at 6am on a Sunday, we walked the streets until we found a 24 hour Golden Griddle.
  • The teams in this tournament were true teams. They clearly play together all summer long. Our team was a mishmash of players, most of whom don't play together. It took us three games to gel and by then it was too late.
  • The dome is cavernous but while playing you totally forget where you are and find yourself totally focused on the game.
  • Michelle and James came out for yesterday's game and had a blast.
  • It's 10am and I've already been up for six hours! I feel like the host of a morning show.

P1126753 P1136754

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Maple Leafs 2, Sharks 3

LeafsI'll begin this recap by telling you I didn't catch a minute of this game. I went to bed because my alarm clock was set for 4am. I missed our fifth consecutive loss.

In the entire 30 team NHL, only two teams have fewer points than us. Tampa Bay is only a game behind. I'm going to predict my next Leafs-related entry is regarding the firing of a certain inept GM or a certain ineffective coach or both.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
40 points
5th in Northeast
3-2 Loss vs. San Jose
5-2 Loss vs. Los Angeles
5-0 Loss vs. Anaheim
M. Sundin - 49
N. Antropov - 37
T.Kaberle - 28

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A Return to Innocence

mouseBack in September I discovered the Stat of the Day blog and I've enjoyed it daily ever since. One of the writers there is Andy and for fun he just started a new blog I'm absolutely loving. He's going through all 792 Topps baseball cards one by one, explaining why the card is awesome and sharing a cool stat about the player. His 88 Topps Cards blog can be found at http://88topps.blogspot.com/.

I'm loving this new blog for two reasons. Firstly, I collected Topps baseball cards in the '80s. We had bags of 'em dating back to 1983. I loved those cards. Secondly, I really miss this era of baseball. I was young and in love with the sport and my Jays and I didn't have a clue about luxury taxes or performance enhancing drugs.

In a nutshell, revisiting the 1988 Topps baseball cards is like a return to innocence. When a blog gives you that, it's something awfully special.


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Murray 'Dusty' Cohl, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumMurray 'Dusty' Cohl was 78. He was credited with taking the Toronto International Film Festival to the international level it now holds.

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"I'll teach you to laugh at something that's funny!"

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My SkyDome Debut

baseballTonight, I made my highly anticipated SkyDome debut. I had a perfect day at the plate, going three for three with two runs scored in a 5-4 loss.

I can honestly say that my regular slo-pitch team Raging Storm would have won easily, but this new hybrid struggled at the plate and in the field. I actually thought I scored the tying run and was rather shocked when I saw the ump calling Andge out at first to end the game. That f-bomb heard echoing through the dome belonged to me.

It was a lot of fun playing on the turf under the roof where my Jays play. I was wearing the retro logo in their honour and took some pics. Check out my photoset to see how they stage this thing.

If we want to advance to the playoffs, we have to win tomorrow. Cito's confident we can turn this around. Boonie's Angels ain't dead yet.


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Nothing Left to Burn

leafs"When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire".
~ Stars, Your Ex-Lover is Dead

Rumour has it Vesa Toskala may have re-injured himself last night. He came in to relieve Raycroft. Why they risked Toskala is beyond me. I would have let Andrew Raycroft finish what he started.

If Tosky can't dress, and Raycroft can't stop a puck, it might be time for Justin Pogge's debut. Here's a little Pogge primer.

January 6, 2006 - "I have seen the future of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, and his name is Justin Pogge. Pogge posted a .952 save percentage for the tournament, his 1.00 goals-against average ties him for best in tournament history and Canada's six goals against set a record. He recorded three shutouts and went 150 minutes and 50 seconds without giving up a goal to close out last night's game."

It was that tournament that introduced the country to Jusin Pogge. He was outstanding and a Maple Leafs prospect. Those two statements rarely collide.

October 21, 2006 - "For the third time in four nights, I was in the building to watch a professional Toronto sports franchise lose. It was my first Marlies game and a great deal of fun. The kids were probably more entertained by the dog mascot than the hockey, but they had a blast and I got to watch #1 Justin Pogge."

This was the first time I watched Pogge play in person. He didn't win, but he was sharp.

September 19, 2007 - "It was Justin Pogge's first NHL game, and I really wanted him to play well. I so badly want this prospect to pan out and develop into a great goalie I actually got butterflies every time he handled an Oiler shot. I just didn't want him to look out of place."

That was Pogge's only game in a Leafs uniform to date. Rumour has it they're thinking of calling him up for tomorrow night's game in San Jose. My spidey senses tell me that's a horrible idea.

Justin Pogge will not save this season. He will not guide his team into a playoff spot. He's not ready for the NHL and would benefit most by finishing this season in the AHL. Why rush this kind of prospect unnecessarily? Why not let Scott Clemmensen and Raycroft handle the load until Toskala is ready, it's just not worth the risk.

Bringing up Pogge is such a bad idea I fully expect to read the MLSE press release announcing just that any moment now. Let me check my RSS feed now...

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Christopher Bowman, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumChristopher Bowman was 40. He was the U.S figure skating champion who pleased fans and fellow skaters with his flair on the ice.

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My Favourite Songs About California

The Number FiveWith the Leafs falling in the State of California, here are my favourite songs with "California" in the title

  1. California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas
  2. Going to California - Led Zeppelin
  3. California - Joni Mitchell
  4. California - Rusty
  5. Hotel California - The Eagles

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Maple Leafs 2, Kings 5

LeafsI've always been fascinated by the large contingent of Leafs fans who constantly wear rose coloured glasses. You know these guys, they believe in their team and will defend them and every facet of the organization until hell freezes over.

I love this team. I always have. I love this team, but I'm embarrassed by what my beloved franchise has become. I came of age during the Harold Ballard era, so I know dysfunction, but the current state of affairs makes me cringe. It's so bad, I don't even feel like writing about it anymore. Firstly, we're horrible. Secondly, there's no hope for the immediate future. Finally, I have no faith management will do what's in the best interest of this team. That's a recipe for sports fan disgust.

Do any fellow Leaf fans feel there's any chance of making the playoffs this season? If Toskala somehow stands on his head and slips us into 8th place in the conference, isn't that a worst-case scenario? Are we now at the point where loving this team means rooting for losses?

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
40 points
5th in Northeast
5-2 Loss vs. Los Angeles
5-0 Loss vs. Anaheim
3-2 Loss vs. Philadelphia
M. Sundin - 48
N. Antropov - 36
J. Blake - 27

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Bob McCown vs. Bill Watters

radioBetween 5 and 5:30 I'm often in my car. Usually when I'm in my car, I'm listening to the radio. I go old school and listen to good ol' terrestrial radio. You know, that AM / FM stuff you've heard your parents talk about.

On the AM dial, I listen to Bob McCown's Prime Time Sports on The Fan 590. Love him or hate him, McCown puts together an intriguing radio show. There's no one better on the entire AM dial, if you ask me.

Recently, a little to the right at AM 640, Bill Watters got his own sports show to compete with McCown. I tried it out, returned when my buddy Fred co-hosted, and gave it another ten minutes earlier this week. The fact is, I find it sloppy and boring and about 10% as good as Prime Time Sports.

Is anybody listening to Watters over McCown?

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Edmund Hillary, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumEdmund Hillary was 88. He was the unassuming beekeeper who conquered Mount Everest to win renown as one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers.

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A Typical Weekday

clockThere are 24 hours in a day. The bulk of my day is either spent sleeping or in an office working. 1/3rds of a typical weekday is spent doing one of those two things. That leaves 8 hours for everything else.

Everything else includes hanging with the family, eating, reading the newspaper, surfing the web, playing on the Wii, watching movies or Leaf games or whatever, showering, running, and everything else.

It's amazing I get as much done as we do. Here's a typical weekday as a lovely pie chart.

Typical Weekday

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10 Creepiest Old Ads

linkYou'll want to check out this list of the 10 creepiest old ads. It's got babies smoking, babies shaving and this ad that doesn't quite work post 9/11.

9/11 did change everything...


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Positions and Lineups for Boonie's Angels

baseballAs you know, my slo-pitch team is participating in the 2008 'Round the Clock Tournament taking place at SkyDome this weekend. We couldn't get enough members of Raging Storm to commit, so this team includes a handful of players I've never even met. We're entered under the name Boonie's Angels.

Our first game is tomorrow night at 9. Another game is taking place Saturday afternoon at 1pm and one is scheduled for 5:00 am Sunday morning. I guess that's the "round the clock" component of this tourney. It's free admission for anyone who wants to crash SkyDome and watch us do our thing.

Fellow members of Boonie's Angels, I've posted the positions and lineups for our first three games over at https://www.torontomike.com/softball.html. If you've got a beef, let Cito know asap.

It might be January, but that doesn't mean we can't play a little baseball.

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Maple Leafs 0, Ducks 5

LeafsLet's start this recap with a positive attitude. On the bright side, Vesa Toskala is back after missing six games with a groin injury. On another bright side, I chose sleep over watching this mess of a game and I'm quite pleased with that decision.

Mats, we love you, now go!

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
40 points
5th in Northeast
5-0 Loss vs. Anaheim
3-2 Loss vs. Philadelphia
6-2 Loss vs. Pittsburgh
M. Sundin - 48
N. Antropov - 35
J. Blake - 27

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Is SLS Dead?

slsI remember when we launched the Smells Like Sour website. Mark and I were quite enthusiastic. Smells Like Sour, or SLS if you prefer, was our Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. If we dug a tune, it was SLS-worthy and this site would act as a tremendous forum where people could openly debate what song was or wasn't up to snuff.

The site is quite popular, and there's lots of traffic and discussions, but neither Mark nor I have the time or interest in maintaining it. That doesn't mean SLS is dead, it just means the official SLS site has been running on auto-pilot for a while now and will probably do so for a while longer. We didn't even add a page for SLS18 which was unveiled a few weeks ago.

Most of you don't know or care about SLS, but I still believe in the SLS spirit and I've been using this blog to keep her going. Here are my SLS links of importance.

SLS ain't dead, it's just camping out here for a while until its parents get their shit together.

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We Are Marshall

A Movie ReelWe Are Marshall: 7 out of 10.

I'm a total sucker for these kinds of movies. I can watch Rudy over and over again and dammit, I liked We Are Marshall.

It was manipulative, but I wanted to be manipulated. That's a fair trade.

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Stretch, Stretch, Stretch

runningAfter another physiotherapy session, it's become quite clear what I did wrong. I failed to respect the stretch.

My right calf muscle is plenty strong, but it's tight and now it's hurt. I kept increasing my distance, but I didn't stretch before or after. I knew I should, but I thought I could get away with skipping this step. I was wrong.

Now I'm stretching my calves all the time, trying to ease my way back. I'll try a light run tonight, just for he heck of it. I'll never run again without stretching beforehand and afterwards.

If I can save just one runner from the same fate as me, my pain will have been worthwhile.

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hHead - Happy

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.

hHead - Happy
In 1993 I had a copy of the CFNY New Music Search 1993 compilation CD that I played over and over again. I loved this little track from Hayden called "Take", but the winning track belonged to hHead. This is that winning tune.

hHead dissolved in 1997 but Brendan Canning went on to form Broken Social Scene. He's the next star of the "Broken Social Scene Presents" series that gave us this awesome Kevin Drew song.

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Early Morning Ball

baseballNo sooner did I write about not being able to stay up for an entire Leafs game on the west coast than did our 2008 Round the Clock Slo-Pitch schedule get posted. One of our games is at 5am.

That's right, our third game is scheduled at the diamond formerly known as SkyDome for 5am on Sunday morning. I don't know if that means I'll be up really late or waking up really early. With the Leafs playing at 10pm, things might work out nicely. I can watch the game, pretend I'm ten years younger and hit the clubs and then play ball at 5. Then, I can stumble home and hit the hay.

Unless we make the playoffs. That could ruin everything.

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A Sign I'm Getting Old

clockAs I plan my week, I see the Leafs are in California to take on the Ducks, Kings and Sharks. That means the puck will drop after 10pm EST.

Normally that would mean late nights for me. Sometimes these west coasters won't end until after one in the morning. Now, I'm thinking differently. I'm thinking I'm good for one, maybe two periods, but I'll be waking up to learn the final scores.

It's another sign I'm getting old. Or, perhaps, I'm becoming sensible.

The Hip @ Fort York

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Obligatory Weather Post

sunWhen there are extreme swings in the temperature, it's time to blog about the weather.

Today's high is 14°. It reminds me of this January 2007 day when we hit double digit temps. We didn't hit 14°, though.

Toronto Weather

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Eddie Vedder's Guaranteed Video

vedderEddie Vedder has unveiled his first solo music video for "Guaranteed," taken from his Into the Wild soundtrack. My brother lent me this soundtrack on Christmas Day and I love it.

As a long time Pearl Jam fan, I remember when they stopped making videos. The video for "Jeremy" was everywhere and won big at the MTV Video Music Awards, and I remember Eddie making a comment about how they're not going to do that anymore. They were true to their word until "Do The Evolution". It's a shame, because those great Pearl Jam songs from Vs., Vitalogy and No Code would likely have been accompanied by some wicked vids.

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Winding Down With Scotch Mist

musicI'm emotionally drained. Today I attended a company breakfast and some speeches, attended a funeral, visited the cemetery, attended the reception, met up with some colleagues for more speeches and a seemingly never ending dinner at Canyon Creek filled with good food and big laughs.

I'm winding down with Scotch Mist, a film with Radiohead in it made for New Year's Eve, 2007. It features every song on their new album IN RAINBOWS.

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Traffic in India

carI've watched this video of traffic in India a few times, and it's still baffling me. The best way to describe it is as organized chaos.

At least one regular reader of this blog lives in India and I'm hoping he'll chime in and explain how this works and how they prevent accidents. I can tell by the pedestrians in this clip that it's sped up a little, but only a little. It's still quite fascinating.

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Discussing Death With Kids

familyWe attended my Uncle Bruce's wake today. This prompted many discussions with my five year old son and three year old daughter, before, during and after the visitation.

My wife and I decided long ago to openly discuss such unfortunate parts of life with our kids so death wouldn't become something scary but a natural part of the human life cycle. Before we left to pay our respects, we talked about what had happened, where we were going and what it all meant.

I'm frequently blown away by how understanding kids are if you talk to them frankly and respectfully. My five year old in particular seems to have an extremely healthy grasp on the subject, fully understanding that a loved one had passed away leaving behind a very sad wife and children. This made him sad, and he wanted to say goodbye before tomorrow's burial. My three year old actually asked to approach the body and seemed totally respectful of the situation. Both were pleased our flowers were by the casket and roses were included in the bouquet.

Tonight, as we ate spaghetti and sausage, we talked about Uncle Bruce, about his spirit and body. It was a great discussion and I was so pleased with their perspective. I've only been in this parenting game for six years, but it's become clear to me that our young are primarily limited by us. They're most capable and understanding if entrusted to be so. Today, James and Michelle made me very proud.

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Mats Sundin vs. Daniel Alfredsson

hockeyI spent eight hours yesterday putting up drywall in a basement with my brother Ryan. Eight hours in the same room with him is guaranteed to result in a series of arguments / debates. One that's still upsetting me was our debate about Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson.

Ryan arrogantly stated that Daniel Alfredsson was better than Mats Sundin. When the two careers are over, he feels that Alfy will be viewed as the better Swede. In fact, Ryan believes everyone already thinks Alfy is better than Sundin because when I told him I thought Sundin was better and it wasn't even that close, Ryan told me I'm the only one who thinks that and I'd be hard pressed to find someone to agree with me.

For the record, I think this is as crazy as his bold statement that Mark Bell would score 40 goals this season. We eventually put $50 on the line with him saying Bell would score at least 20 goals and me saying he wouldn't. I'm going to win that bet easily.

If I remove my inherent Leafs bias and look at Mats Sundin vs. Daniel Alfredsson objectively, I still believe the vast majority of people will agree Mats is the better hockey player. When all is said and done, Mats will have accumulated more points having played with mediocre players like Jonus Hoglund and Nik Antropov. Alfy plays with stellar all-stars like Heatley and Spezza. Mats not only secures more points, he captained Sweden's gold medal winning team. Sundin is always called to captain Swedish teams that include Alfedsson, because Sundin is considered the better captain. Love him or hate him, everyone agrees Sundin is a class act and his abundance of overtime goals suggests he scores in the clutch.

At this moment, neither player has won a Stanley Cup, although Alfredsson's team is currently a contender. I'm not doubting Alfredsson is a great player, I'm merely confidently stating that Mats Sundin is a better player. Great evidence is this season. At 27-10-4, Ottawa is leading the Northeast division. At 16-18-8, Toronto is last in that same division. 37-year old Mats Sundin is Toronto's offensive juggernaut with 48 points, a full 13 points ahead of our 2nd leading scorer and 21 points ahead of #3. 35-year old Alfy, with 55 points, is tied with Dany Heatley for the Senators lead in points, only 3 points ahead of Jason Spezza. On an awesome team with plenty of awesome support, the younger Alfredsson is only 7 points ahead of Sundin.

In my humble opinion, Mats Sundin is the second best Swede to play our game. Pound for pound, I believe Peter Forsberg is the best, but I sincerely believe Sundin is definitely better than Daniel Alfredsson. Is my brother right when he says nobody would agree with me or am I right when I say he's completely out to lunch?

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A Blogger's Final Post

mouseMaj. Andrew Olmsted was stationed in Iraq and was a prolific blogger. He wrote an entry, left it unpublished and asked a friend to publish it in the event of his death. Maj. Andrew Olmsted's unit was ambushed earlier this week and he became the first 2008 casualty in Iraq.

Here's his final post. After quoting G'Kar from Babylon 5 and Plato, here's his first paragraph.

This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G'Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It's not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn't hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don't know. I hope so. It's frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won't get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.

Maj. Andrew Olmsted was in a dangerous position with a higher probability for death, but I recently came fairly close to an early exit and days later lost my uncle to a sudden heart attack. I think Maj. Andrew Olmsted's final post is probably a good idea for all regular bloggers.

A final post and instructions with a trusted friend. It's wise that someone trustworthy has blog management details and passwords regardless. I'm going to do it, and hope it doesn't get published for at least 50 years.

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A Movie ReelSuperbad: 8 out of 10.

If it hurts to laugh, skip this one. It's almost two hours long and full of hilarious shite.

Like the slightly better "Knocked Up", it's charming, sweet and very funny. Michael Cera plays a character not unlike George Michael if he was 17 and had a friend like Seth. I wonder if I caught of glimpse of James in 11 years. Things could be a great deal worse.

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Maple Leafs 2, Flyers 3

LeafsWe peppered 56 shots at Antero Niittymaki but it wasn't enough. Another night, another loss for the blue and white. We fell to 1-4-1 since goalie Vesa Toskala went down with a groin injury.

Sundin scored both Leafs goals, giving him 543 for his career. That moves him past Stan Mikita into sole possession of 25th place on the NHL's regular-season list. One more and he'll tie Maurice Richard.

My brother and I had an interesting debate about Sundin I'll open up to everyone later this morning. How's that for a teaser?

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
40 points
5th in Northeast
3-2 Loss vs. Philadelphia
6-2 Loss vs. Pittsburgh
4-3 Win vs. Tampa Bay
M. Sundin - 48
N. Antropov - 35
J. Blake - 27

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Queens of the Stone Age - Make It Wit Chu

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS19 consideration. I'm submitting "Make It Wit Chu" by Queens of the Stone Age.

It totally dig this bluesy QOTSA number. It's quite unlike any QOTSA song I've ever heard, and I own the entire catalogue. This sucker plods along and when it ends you're forced to play it again. Go ahead, try and play it just once.

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Snake Bitten

medicalIf you're watching tonight's game, you just saw a familiar sight. It was Carlo Colaiacovo being helped off the ice with a knee injury. He also missed the Maple Leafs' first 37 games of the season with a knee injury.

Colaiacovo hasn't yet turned 25 and may still meet our lofty expectations, but he's got awful luck. From his wiki page...

On January 23, 2006, Colaiacovo missed a hipcheck on Vaclav Varada in a game against the Ottawa Senators, smashing head-first into the boards. He was taken off the ice in a stretcher. The injury was a major concussion, and missed the end of the 2005-06 NHL season.

Colaiacovo recovered fully from his concussion, but later injured his hand in his first game back into the Toronto Marlies lineup. On December 4, the Maple Leafs recalled Colaiacovo from the Marlies and on December 16, he scored his first goal of the season against the New York Rangers. Colaiacovo underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on April 29, 2007.

I really hope his knee is okay. When he does manage to stay healthy for a period of time, there are glimpses of greatness. He's a great puck handler and is extremely mobile, and he ain't bad defensively either. Cross your fingers, the poor guy's snake bitten.

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Canada 3, Sweden 2

Canada HockeyI spent the day putting up dry wall but had this gold medal game on the radio before breaking to watch overtime on the telly. Matt Halischuk scored 3:36 in to give us a 3-2 win over Sweden securing our fourth championship in a row.

I hope we don't take this string of successes for granted. It's been a fantastic four years but it won't always be like this. We can't possibly win this tournament every year.

Having said that, I'm already looking toward next year when we host this tourny in Canada and ten of our players return. With Kyle Turris, Steve Stamkos and John Tavares leading the charge, we could easily go for five. Yikes, I'm already starting to take this success for granted...

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Homer Simpson's Quote of the Week

Homer"I dunno what to tell you, Marge! I don't think about things. I mean, I respect those who do, but... I just try and make the day not hurt until I can crawl back in with you."

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The Best Movies With Philip Baker Hall In It

The Number FiveMy favourite movies featuring Philip Baker Hall

  1. Magnolia
  2. Boogie Nights
  3. The Insider
  4. The Talented Mr. Ripley
  5. The Truman Show

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Canada 4, USA 1

Canada HockeyI watched this semi-final on tsn.ca and was I ever impressed. Their broadband network was so clear and fluid, I thought I was watching television.

For the seventh year in a row, we're going for gold. This time we face Sweden in the championship game, a chance for revenge. Sweden recently handed us our only defeat in the past three years.

Game time is tomorrow at 2pm. This time, I won't need the broadband network.

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Physio Therapy Assessment

medicalAs ordered by my doctor, I saw a physiotherapist today. Background on what got me to this point can be found here.

The therapist heard my story, asked some questions and performed some tests. He feels my calf muscle and hamstring is far too tight. He suspects the run that shut me down was just the tipping point. The fix is a great deal of stretching, focusing on my calves, hammy and IT Band.

The stretching, combined with regular physio treatments, isn't a quick fix. There isn't a quick fix. I've got to put in the time if I want to run longer than 2k.

I'll stretch like crazy for a week and then test it again.

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Milt Dunnell, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumMilt Dunnell was 102. He was a Canadian sportswriter, known chiefly for his work at the Toronto Star.

I grew up reading Milt Dunnell in the Star. For a taste of his greatness, here's an article of his from May 18, 1983 entitled "Gretzky class his trademark win or lose".

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Maple Leafs 2, Penguins 6

LeafsThis was a close game heading into the third period. Then, in a 48 second splurge, the Pens scored three times on Scott Clemmensen, handing him his first loss as a Leaf.

This is our seventh loss in nine games. Mats Sundin is still playing awesome and I hope JFJ is listening to all offers.

<rant>I heard Howard Berger assess the Leafs at the halfway point in this season. At 16-17-8, he said we're only a game under .500. Berger has bought into The Great NHL Deception. Our beloved Maple Leafs, sadly, are not a game under .500. We've won 16 games and we've lost 25 games. I wish we were a game under .500.</rant>

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
40 points
5th in Northeast
6-2 Loss vs. Pittsburgh
4-3 Win vs. Tampa Bay
6-1 Loss vs. New York Rangers
M. Sundin - 46
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 27

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The Naked Gun

humourI need a good laugh. After this Leafs game I'll watch a couple of episodes of "Arrested Development" which is guaranteed to do the trick, but I need something to tide me over. I need "The Naked Gun".

I remember leaving the theatre after watching "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" in 1988 and thinking it was the funniest movie I had ever seen. There were so many laugh out loud moments, I was literally rolling in the aisles. I haven't seen a movie since that left me as physically exhausted from laughter. I was 14 years old and my funny bone was ultra sensitive.

Here's an extended scene from "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!". Frank Drebin calling those strikes with a little dance does it for me every time.

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Uncle Bruce

bereavementI'm still in shock. At 10:39 am I received this instant message from my mom. "Bruce is dead michael" followed immediately by "i feel sick".

Bruce Gowan was married to my mother's only sister for over 35 years. That made him a key part of my family from the moment I was born. He passed away quite suddenly this morning at the young age of 58 leaving behind a loving wife, two children and a grandson. A granddaughter is on the way.

When I got the news, I left work to be with my aunt and cousins. There is nothing as sad as the sudden passing of a loved one. There's no time for goodbyes, no time for a final hug, no time to prepare yourself for the fact an integral part of your life is departing. All we're left with are the memories.

My memories of Uncle Bruce are good ones. He was a very kind man who was always there if you needed him. As a teenager, he helped me buy my first car. When I struggled installing a 240 volt outlet in my basement, I called Uncle Bruce for advice. He put others first, loved his family and is already missed like crazy by those who knew him and loved him.

This is Uncle Bruce a couple of summers ago at my brother's wedding. He's here with his son. The two were inseparable. Life is fleeting. Carpe diem.

Father and Son

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A Movie ReelZodiac: 8 out of 10.

David Fincher directed "Seven" and "Fight Club", so we know he's got the chops. "Zodiac" is a completely different kind of film but equally compelling. I enjoyed it, and I rarely enjoy any film longer than two hours. "Zodiac" is closer to three hours than two.

It's a big cast of actors you already like and the subject matter is intriguing. This is the film I thought Spike Lee's "Son of Sam" was going to be. It's got a wonderful "All the President's Men" feel to it. Fincher should be proud.

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Best Films of 2007: Why I'm in the Dark

moviesWhen 2007 came to a close, I had fun putting together a list of my favourite songs and my favourite television shows of the year. I'd love to be able to put together a list of my favourite movies of 2007, but I can't do that. Nope, that ain't how I roll.

I'm typically a solid year behind in my movie watching. I catch 90% of my movies on The Movie Network On Demand, a Canadian digital channel I subscribe to. Movies don't get On Demand status until well after they're released on DVD. Night at the Museum, a movie I watched last night, only hit On Demand yesterday, a full 54 weeks after it was released to theatres. The other 10% of movies I see are either in the movie theatre, on DVD or regular television.

What I ought to do is a best of 2006 list at the end of 2007 and a best of 2007 list at the end of 2008. Or, I can just list the ten best films I saw in 2007, regardless of when the movie was released. Heck, I'll do that right now.

  1. The Queen
  2. Knocked Up
  3. The Simpsons Movie
  4. C.R.A.Z.Y.
  5. The Pursuit of Happyness
  6. Pan's Labyrinth
  7. The History Boys
  8. The Last King of Scotland
  9. Blood Diamond
  10. Ratatouille

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Night at the Museum

A Movie ReelNight at the Museum: 4 out of 10.

Ben Stiller has done some good stuff. There's Something About Mary and The Royal Tenenbaums are two of my favourite comedies of all-time. Night at the Museum, however, is the rarest of comedies. It's a comedy without laughs.

It earned a four because it's not bad for the kids. They get to see a dinosaur skeleton play fetch, which is pretty sweet for a five year old. For the rest of us, it's cruel and unusual punishment.

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Stars - Ageless Beauty (Most Serene Republic RMX)

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.

Stars - Ageless Beauty (Most Serene Republic RMX)
In the comments of this entry about Stars I promised Doug I'd share The Most Serene Republic Mix of "Ageless Beauty".

Do You Trust Your Friends? is an album full of Stars songs remixed by their musical buddies. In my humble opinion, this remix is better than the original.

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Chris Bosh Wants Your Vote

RaptorsIt turns out Chris Bosh isn't just a good basketball player, he's got a sense of humour too. He put together a little promo video in an attempt to secure the votes necessary to send him to the all-star game in New Orleans.

I say 20.3 PPG and 9.20 RPG is reason enough.

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Canada 4, Finland 2

Canada HockeyI missed this quarter-final victory over Finland because I had to work but it sounds like Brad Marchand is the hero with two goals including the winner.

This sets up a tough semi-final between Canada and USA on Friday. Last year's semi-final featured the same match up and a thrilling shootout win for the good guys.

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Facebook Is Awfully Popular

facebookIn 2007, I got a Facebook account. I wasn't alone. Toronto became the first city in North America to break 1 million subscribers.

Last I checked Toronto proper had 2,503,281 residents. There's no way these grandiose claims that 1,000,000 of us have Facebook accounts is true. Metro Toronto's population is 5,555,912. I still don't buy that 20% have Facebook accounts, but I will make this observation. Facebook is awfully popular.

You read it here first.

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Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3

LeafsYou almost feel bad for Andrew Raycroft. He played the bulk of games last year before losing his starting job to Vesa Toskala this year and even with Toskala injured he finds himself playing backup. Raycroft had his shot and blew it, but you've still gotta feel for the dude. Scott Clemmensen led us to our first shootout win this season and should start in Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Jason Blake played well. I wonder if the healthy scratch of Kyle Wellwood woke him up a little. The next healthy scratch very well could have been Blake.

I'll close this recap with your useless fact of the day. Toronto is 16-4-2 when playing a home game on New Year's Day.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
40 points
5th in Northeast
4-3 Win vs. Tampa Bay
6-1 Loss vs. New York Rangers
4-1 Loss vs. Philadelphia
M. Sundin - 44
N. Antropov - 35
T. Kaberle - 27

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My Son, The Bluth

tvI borrowed every season of "Arrested Development" on DVD and I'm making my way from the pilot to the finale. I've seen every episode at least once before but it's just as good the second, third or fourth time through. The cast and writing is deliciously funny.

One character on "Arrested Development" reminds me a great deal of my son. George Michael Bluth and James share an eerily similar personality. They're both sweet, a little naive and genuinely kind. They're both eager to please and try awfully hard to be cooler than they naturally are. Even George Michael's mannerisms and vocal styling reminds me of James'.

Taryn and I watch these episodes together and feel the same way. When the most likable character reminds you of your kids, it makes an amazing series that much better.

George Michael

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An Outdoor Maple Leafs Game

hockeyAs I watch the snow fall at Ralph Wilson Stadium, I realize there's a reason we don't play NHL games outdoors. It's tough to get the ice right, there's a wind factor and 73,000 freeze their butts off in the stands. As terrible an idea as this is, I love it.

I want an outdoor game here in Toronto. I'm just not sure where we'd hold it. There are probably only two options: SkyDome and BMO Field. SkyDome could probably hold about 60,000 whereas BMO Field is only good for a few more than they can fit in the ACC. I've love to attend an outdoor Leafs game, ideally against the Habs, I just wish we had a Ralph Wilson-like field to play it on.

Now that we're in the mood for pond hockey with the puck about to drop, I urge you to check out Pond of Dreams. It still brings a tear to my eye, all these years later.

The Leafs Practice at Rennie Park

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December 2007 Search Engine Refferals

Search StringsThese are the top searches that referred people to this site in December of 2007. I'm still puzzled by all the people looking for Ralph Wiggums' Valentine's Day card. I would have guessed that's more of a February surge. And what's with people searching for nude pictures of Marge? Do they realize she's a cartoon character?

  1. i choo choo choose you
  2. big shiny tunes 4
  3. big shiny tunes 7
  4. marge simpson nude
  5. christmas with a kick
  6. torontomike.com
  7. choo choo choose you
  8. toronto blog
  9. bill barilko
  10. christmas with a kick ii

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New Year's Day

musicKingston, Ontario's Bedouin Soundclash did an awesome cover of U2's "New Year's Day". Enjoy.

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