April 2008 Archives

« March 2008 May 2008 »

Jonas Brothers

musicMy three year old daughter was just singing a song I had never heard before, so I asked her what it was. She told me it was the Jonas Brothers and she loved the Jonas Brothers. James chimed in that the Jonas Brothers stunk. I was left confused.

I have never heard of the Jonas Brothers and I can't believe I'm clueless about my daughter's favourite band. Luckily for me, Wikipedia is here to rescue me, and I just learnt a great deal about the Jonas Brothers.

The Jonas Brothers is an American pop-rock band from Wyckoff, New Jersey made up of three brothers, Joe, Nick, and Kevin Jonas. All three brothers attended Eastern Christian High School in North Haledon, New Jersey. They have released two albums - It's About Time in 2006, and Jonas Brothers in 2007, and will release A Little Bit Longer in 2008.

What the heck did parents do before the Internet? Was there a top secret parents network they'd call to find out about the latest fads? The Jonas Brothers is a typical non-threatening boy band that three year olds would love, so I'm not concerned, but without the web I'd still be clueless as to what a Jonas Brother is all about.

And thanks to YouTube, I can quickly hear their wares for myself. They're awful! Listen for yourself.

I'm sure she'll outgrow this crud soon enough, and in the meantime, I'll keep forcing The White Stripes and Neil Young down her throat. That always works!

Discuss "Jonas Brothers" (10 comments so far)

Hand-Coding HTML

webBoing Boing has a little write-up about how NYTimes.com hand-codes its HTML. I'd link to the NYTimes.com article, but you have to register to read it.

I've been hand-coding all my HTML and CSS for a decade now, and I doubt I'll ever do it any other way. Over the years I've tried the design part of Dreamweaver and other wysiwyg HTML editors, but the control I'd sacrifice always reminded me how much faster and effective it is to hand-code.

About five-years ago I wrote about this subject, but I'd like to modify my opinion since then. I still love the control, take pride in the accomplishment and find the entire process to be rather romantic, but I've learnt hand-coding and Movable Type can coexist for optimal performance. The HTML and CSS is still hand-coded, but a sweet CMS like Movable Type can do all the heavy lifting for you. It's thinking smarter instead of harder.

Khoi Vinh, the Design Director of NYTimes.com, says the following:

It’s our preference to use a text editor, like HomeSite, TextPad or TextMate, to “hand code” everything, rather than to use a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) HTML and CSS authoring program, like Dreamweaver. We just find it yields better and faster results.

I couldn't agree more.

Discuss "Hand-Coding HTML" (7 comments so far)

April Wine - You Could Have Been a Lady

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.

April Wine - You Could Have Been a Lady
As April comes to an end, my Weekly MP3 is screaming for some April Wine. I'm a little young to remember April Wine's heyday but I've got much respect for the Nova Scotians.

Discuss "April Wine - You Could Have Been a Lady" (1 comment so far)

High Grossing Movies I've Never Seen

moneyI was checking out a list of the highest grossing movies of all-time, and I realized there were many I had never seen. Below is a partial list of movies that made a lot of coin but were never seen by yours truly.

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Men in Black
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Troy
  • Meet the Fockers
  • What Women Want
  • The World Is Not Enough
  • Dinosaur
  • National Treasure
  • Fantastic Four
  • Ocean's Thirteen
  • Mulan
  • Van Helsing
  • Jumanji
  • The Village
  • You've Got Mail
  • Eragon
  • Wild Hogs
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious
  • Constantine
  • Flightplan

Discuss "High Grossing Movies I've Never Seen" (9 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Twenty-One

PuckBack in 1952, the owner of a Detroit fish market, Peter Cusimano, threw an octopus onto the ice. The eight legs were purportedly symbolic of the eight wins it took to win the Stanley Cup at the time. The Red Wings went on to sweep both of their opponents that year en route to a Stanley Cup championship.

What would be symbolic of going 16-0 in the playoffs?

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Twenty-One" (0 comments so far)

Albert Hofmann, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumAlbert Hofmann was 102. He was a Swiss scientist best known for synthesizing Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Discuss "Albert Hofmann, Rest in Peace" (1 comment so far)

David Cook Didn't Sing Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon

idolDavid Cook has made his mark this season on American Idol because he rearranges songs so they sound current and edgy. I recently called him "cover artist extraordinaire".

On Beatles night, he performed "Day Tripper" the way Whitesnake covered it and "Eleanor Rigby the way Doxology covered it, then he performed "Billie Jean" the way Chris Cornell covered it. He does covers of cool covers, so when I found out tonight was Neil Diamond night, I would have bet the house on David Cook singing "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon", Urge Overkill style.

Urge Overkill covered Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" for Pulp Fiction. David Cook didn't sing it.

Discuss "David Cook Didn't Sing Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" (2 comments so far)

Canada's Team Survey Flawed

leafsExpect your local Habs fan to flaunt this poll in your face. A Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey found 40 per cent of Canadians identified the Habs as the nation's hockey team of choice, compared with 24 per cent for Leafs.

That's an interesting result, and incredibly flawed. Take it with a grain of salt the size of Montreal. The survey of more than 1,000 people across the country began April 24, after the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames had been eliminated from playoff action, and ended April 28.

You see, these 1000 people were surveyed at a time when there was only one Canadian franchise left in the playoffs. Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton didn't qualify this year and Ottawa and Calgary were already eliminated. That left Montreal to attract the many "cheer for a Canadian team" fans and other bandwagon jumpers that make these polls worthless.

In reality there is no doubt as the the nation's team of choice. It's the same as God's team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Rafters

Discuss "Canada's Team Survey Flawed" (8 comments so far)

Jimmy Key: All-Star

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

Damn right Jimmy Key was an all-star back in 1987. He posted an 17-8 record with a league-leading 2.76 ERA for crying out loud. He didn't have a blazing fastball but instead used awesome Maddox-like control to consistently win ball games.

What I liked best about Jimmy Key is how he wrapped up his career with the Jays. He made his final start for the Blue Jays in game 4 of the 1992 World Series, surrendering one run over 7 2/3 innings to earn the win and put the Jays up 3-1. Key would appear once more in the series, as a reliever in the 10th and 11th innings of the 6th and deciding game, earning the win.

Jimmy Key

Discuss "Jimmy Key: All-Star" (5 comments so far)

Tom Henke: All-Star

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

Damn right Tom Henke was an all-star back in 1987. He led the league in saves that year with 34, one of only two Jays ever to accomplish that feat. He also allowed fewer hits (5.9) and recorded more strikeouts (12.3) per nine innings than any other AL pitcher.

For more about The Terminator, check out my entry about his regular card in this set. And, of course, there's The Ballad of Tom Henke.

Tom Henke

Discuss "Tom Henke: All-Star" (4 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Twenty

PuckI've mapped out the remainder of the playoffs. The Flyers will oust the Habs to create the Battle of Pennsylvania. The Penguins will beat the Flyers in the conference finals setting up an exciting final against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings will prevail, but this experience will strengthen the Penguins who will go on to win it all in 2008 / 2009.

Note to self: Draft Pens next year.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Twenty" (0 comments so far)

A Fish Murderer's Third Chance

familyOver two years ago we welcomed Nemo into the family, and then Goldie. They were goldfish that lived in James' room, and neither lived very long.

I got tired of flushing James' pets, so I banned fish for a couple of years. Yesterday, the ban was lifted, and Charlie came home.

This time, we went with a more durable Siamese fighting fish, often referred to simply as a betta fish. Here's hoping Charlie the Siamese fighting fish outlives Nemo and Goldie. It's a fish murderer's third chance.


Discuss "A Fish Murderer's Third Chance" (2 comments so far)

George Bell: All-Star

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

Of course George Bell was an all-star back in 1987. That was his MVP season, which he finished with a .308 BA, .352 OBP, .608 SLG, 111 R, 47 HR and 134 RBI.

Damn right George Bell was an all-star, punk.

George Bell

Discuss "George Bell: All-Star" (2 comments so far)

Sam Crenshaw Caught Slacking on Today's Special

tvIf you were a kid in the 80s, you remember "Today's Special". It ran on TVOntario from 1982 to 1987 and starred Jeff, Jodie, Sam and Muffy, that mouse who spoke in the most annoying rhymes.

Sam was the store's security guard and his trusty computer was TXL Series 4, who seemed to watch over the store for Sam. Sam was a hard worker, as I recall, but he wasn't perfect.

Here is Sam Crenshaw using company time and resources to play a frivolous game of tic-tac-toe. Busted!!!


Discuss "Sam Crenshaw Caught Slacking on Today's Special" (3 comments so far)


A Movie ReelSicko: 8.5 out of 10.

I actually watched "Sicko" last June when it appeared on Google Video. I didn't review it then, because I just don't like watching movies on my laptop. I find it impossible not to multi-task and I miss the larger screen and bigger sound. I watched "Sicko" again last night with my wife and it's better than I remembered it.

I understand Michael Moore has his detractors, but he puts together compelling and entertaining docs. I've enjoyed everything he's released, but "Sicko" might be his best work to date. Of course, as a product of socialized medicine, I felt drawn to the content like a moth to a CFL light bulb.

Our system ain't perfect, but when one of us gets sick, it's awfully comforting to know that medical expense stress won't interfere with the healing process.

Discuss "Sicko" (19 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Nineteen

PuckDrew continues to lead by five over the trifecta of Ryan, Marc and Patino. I'll be pretty surprised if Drew doesn't end up winning this whole thing, and since he'll probably be living in New Brunswick by the time the cup it awarded, I might get away without having to pay him.

Just kidding... sorta.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Nineteen" (2 comments so far)

Natural Archivist

vaultI'm a natural born archivist. In fact, when you think about it, that's the crux of blogging and I was blogging time-stamped journal style entries years before the birth of the blogosphere. I've always felt a need to document events with scrap books, photos, journals and video tape.

As mentioned, I was going through boxes of ancient artifacts this afternoon when I found a series of video tapes. These are sporting events I've recorded because I knew there would come a day when I'd want to watch them again. Below are tapes that contain the following games.

  • The very first Toronto Raptors game
  • Wayne Gretzky's last game
  • The very last game at Maple Leaf Gardens
  • The 1991 All-Star game at SkyDome
  • The very last game at Exhibition Stadium

My foresight was bang on. I'm aching to watch all five right now.


Discuss "Natural Archivist" (2 comments so far)

Pack Rat

boxI'm a bit of a pack rat. Not the crazy obsessive kind, but I hold on to a lot of stuff because I think it'll be neat to have in fifty years.

Today we spent the bulk of the day purging crap we've accumulated over the years. We're in hardcore minimization mode, so I went through a bunch of my old boxes and started throwing stuff out. Trust me, this isn't easy for me, and I didn't part with everything, but I chucked a great number of things I've had for over two decades.

In one box, I found dozens of old comic books. A number of these were those old Whitman Comics that included Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters. There were also lots of Transformers comics, some Archies and a smattering of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Captain Canuck.

I gave them all to my kids. If that 2nd issue of The 'Nam turns out to be worth something, I'm gonna feel like a dolt, but I'll bet it's worth less than the 75¢ I paid for it at the time.

P4277306 P4277307 P4277308 P4277309 P4277310 P4277311 P4277312 P4277313

Discuss "Pack Rat" (2 comments so far)

Shaker's Rap - It's Lloyd Moseby Time

jaysThings are downright depressing in Jays town. Last in the American League East, we've lost 6 in a row and only 2 of our past 10 games. It's officially code blue, and you know what that means...

It's time for the Shaker Mo. Shaker's Rap, a 12" single from 1986 that Joel graciously ripped for me, will make everything better for us Jays fans. It opens with a great Tom Cheek home run call and stars centre fielder extraordinaire, Lloyd Moseby. This should guarantee the streak stops at 6.

When life gives you lemons, break out some Shaker's Rap.

Other awesome Blue Jays audio:

Discuss "Shaker's Rap - It's Lloyd Moseby Time" (3 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Eighteen

PuckNow that I've adopted the Pens as my rooting interest for the remainder of the playoffs, I'm having trouble getting into the other three series. With my basketball team down 3-1 and heading to Orlando and my baseball team in a serious funk, I might have to check into this Toronto FC thing I keep hearing about.

In the pool, Drew's back in the lead. I'm rooting for Ryan or Steve, because one owes me $50 and the other owes me $80 and extracting their debts from their winnings might be my best shot at getting paid.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Eighteen" (2 comments so far)

Global TV Sign-Off From 1984

memoryYouTube user Retrontario, formerly known as WNED17, frequently uploads fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips never fail to bring back a ton of memories for me, so I feature them from time to time.

In this age of 24 hour broadcasting stations, the television station sign-off has gone the way of the do-do bird. When I was growing up, most stations signed off for the night with contact and technical information about the station, followed by the national anthem and then either static or a test pattern.

I love this Global Television Network sign-off from 1984. It's chock full of detail about their C-III-TV transmitters and it opens with a nice SkyDome-less shot of the CN Tower.

Discuss "Global TV Sign-Off From 1984" (2 comments so far)

Mike Boon, Comedian, Teacher, Blogger

humourAlmost a year after I wrote about the other Mike Boon, he found the entry and left a comment. The other Mike Boon is a New Zealand comedian who has retired to teach. Here's what he said earlier today.

Here's an answer to some of your questions. Yes I do know Flight of the Conchords - they are friends of mine from days gone by. I have 'retired' from comedy am now a school teacher although I've recently done some stand-up for kids in the current NZ comedy festival, so I'm thinking about getting back into it as a bit of a hobby.

Any further information you wish to know then drop me a line!

Mr B

The other Mike Boon, the comedian turned teacher, is also a blogger at http://boonman.wordpress.com/. He seems to have the same frustrations with the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team that I have with the Leafs.

Boonman, I feel your pain.

Discuss "Mike Boon, Comedian, Teacher, Blogger" (2 comments so far)

Surprise! 48 Hours Notice My Butt

ttcWhen my mom told me at about 10am this morning that the TTC was on strike, I didn't believe her. Firstly, it seemed like a pretty good deal, so why would the union reject the offer on the table? Secondly, the TTC union promised 48 hours notice before striking, and when I turned of the laptop last night, there was nothing about a strike on the wire.

There's something rotten in the state of Denmark. How many Friday night clubbers and bar hoppers staggered onto the streets after midnight only to discover the TTC was closed for buisiness? As I type, there's a sold-out crowd at the ACC for the Raptors game and at BMO Field for Toronto FC. The Better Way wasn't an option, which meant more cars clogging the streets. Thousands of Torontonians are actively working on contingency plans, figuring out how they're getting to work Monday morning. It just doesn't seem right, does it?

The Ontario legislature will meet tomorrow to debate legislation to force 9,000 striking Toronto transit workers back on the job as soon as possible. To his credit, John Tory has said the Progressive Conservatives will back the Liberal bill, but Howard Hampton isn't tipping his hand. Without NDP support, the bill could be delayed up to five days. Oh joy.

I've got a complaint, so I'm going to use this handy TTC complaint form. You should do the same. Let 'em have it, Toronto.


Discuss "Surprise! 48 Hours Notice My Butt" (10 comments so far)

Doors of Dublin

IrelandI was enjoying an awesome sleep when Taryn awoke me this morning at 7am. We participated in a neighbourhood garage sale today, and it was time for me to set up shop.

Taryn had a number of items set aside for the street sale, including boxes of books, a couple of mirrors, some baby stuff we don't need any more and some pictures that aren't currently hanging on our walls. Two of those pictures were Doors of Dublin and Pubs & Shops of Ireland.

My grandmother, turning 93 this year, was very proud of her Dublin heritage. Although she was born in Toronto, she often shared stories her father told her of Dublin and she loved items that reminded her of "home". When I was 11 or 12, I wanted to surprise my grandmother with a gift I knew would blow her away. Joined by my brother Ryan, I visited The Irish Shop on Bloor Street and bought a poster called Doors of Dublin. We got it framed, and gave it to grandma for her birthday. She loved it, so a couple of years later we did the same thing with Pubs & Shops of Ireland.

When my grandmother went into a long term care facility some years ago, I ended up with these pictures. They remind me so much of simpler times and brought so much joy to my grandmother, I couldn't let them go.

This morning, as I carried everything from the basement to the driveway, I left these two pictures. I'm simply unable to part with them. We're in heavy duty simplification and minimization mode, but I'm keeping Doors of Dublin and Pubs & Shops of Ireland. They're not "stuff", they're drenched in unconditional love and they're not going anywhere.

Doors of Dublin Pubs & Shops of Ireland

Discuss "Doors of Dublin" (6 comments so far)

HSBC Arena Can't Spell Sabres

thumbsdownI just Googled HSBC Arena. The description displayed is "Buffalo, New York. Home of the NHL Buffalo Sabers."

Somebody should tell the HSBC Arena marketers how to spell Sabres.


Update: I just viewed the source for the HSBC Arena home page, and there is no meta description tag. I'm betting it's not the people at HSBC Arena misspelling Sabres, but the fine people at Google who have generated these sitelinks. If I were HSBC Arena, I'd control my own description by adding the meta description to my HTML like so: <meta name="description" content="YOUR WEBSITE DESCRIPTION HERE" />.

Discuss "HSBC Arena Can't Spell Sabres" (1 comment so far)

Buffalo Boy's Police and Elvis Costello Ticket

ticketstubBuffalo Boy has an extra ticket to see The Police and Elvis Costello at the HSBC Arena on May 3. He's looking for a real fan to go with him.

If you're interested, head over to this entry, make a bid and tell him why you want the ticket. Someone is going to see The Police in Buffalo... he tells me he'll be choosing the lucky winner on Wednesday night.

It won't be me. I've never liked The Police.

Discuss "Buffalo Boy's Police and Elvis Costello Ticket" (0 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Seventeen

PuckIn hindsight, maybe I should have loaded up on Pens instead of Ducks.

In the pool, the top four guys are separated by a single point. Good for them. When you're getting blown out in a pool, you can just ignore the whole damn thing. I don't have that luxury. This, my friends, is the definition of hell.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Seventeen" (0 comments so far)

Reed Johnson's Sick Catch

BaseballWhy the hell did we cut Reed Johnson? Reeder could bat leadoff, hit for average and man could he play the outfield.

I won't be able to sleep tonight. Do you know why I can't sleep? It's because I just saw Reed Johnson make the greatest catch I've ever seen. Yes, it's better than Devon White's catch in game 3 of the 1992 World Series, and the dude made it while playing for the Chicago freakin' Cubs.

It's fresh, so there's not a lot of YouTubage to post. Tune in Sportscentre or The Score or whatever and you'll see it a dozen times tonight. For less than ideal video of Reed Johnson's unbelievable grab, press play below.

Discuss "Reed Johnson's Sick Catch" (7 comments so far)

SARS: Five Years Later

WHOSevere acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory disease in humans which is caused by the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Five years ago yesterday, while we were in Toronto were in the clutches of a near pandemic, I wrote this entry about SARS.

SARS Update: From the eye of the storm

The World Health Organization has just issued a warning against travelling to Toronto. Don't travel to Toronto unless it's essential, they say. Major League Baseball is issuing warnings to teams visiting Toronto. They're asking that contact with fans at SkyDome be kept to a minimum. Headlines all over the world are painting Toronto as a dangerous place to be right now. A global pariah!

I live in Toronto. I spend every day in Toronto. I've never put on a mask and my day-to-day living hasn't changed a bit. The only thing that's even slightly different, as far as I can tell, is that we're all sanitizing our hands throughout the day at work.

Last time I checked the stats, 16 people in Canada had died of SARS. All 16 people had a pre-existing diabetic condition or heart disease. If SARS kills, it gets plenty of help.

Life goes on in the big T.O. The Leafs are out of the playoffs, the Jays have slipped to last in the AL East and the Raptors haven't been seen in weeks. Sounds like a typical spring to me.

I just hope I don't accidentally cough. They'll have me locked up for 10 days without human contact. On the other hand, I am feeling a little warm...

Five years later, and I'm still not wearing a mask.

Discuss "SARS: Five Years Later" (1 comment so far)

MOJO Radio Memories

radioFreddie P had a nice little entry on his blog about MOJO Radio, which launched seven years ago this week. 640 on your AM dial, it was billed as talk radio for guys, and Humble Howard and Fred Patterson moved over from CFNY to work the morning shift.

Humble & Fred was my morning show of choice throughout the 1990s. That covered just about my entire high school and university career as well as my first full-time gig. I loved the music on 102.1 and I loved the hilarious banter between the two.

As I recall, they started simulcasting their show on 640. That meant, for a little while at least, you were hearing the exact same morning show on both CFNY and what was soon to become MOJO Radio. I should have known something was up... I was pretty ticked when I learnt Humble and Fred were leaving my radio station for some damn AM thing.

Although I tried, I had difficulty following the boys over to MOJO. To be honest, I found the whole Mojo thing to be pretty stupid. It just seemed dumbed down and annoying. Yes, Humble and Fred still had their moments, and I discovered this awesome little show by a fellow named Mike Stafford, but I refused to make time for anyone else on the station. By the time Humble and Fred left for Mix 99.9, I was already gone.

It's funny how life takes these twists and turns. I had lunch with Humble two days ago at a great little Italian Restaurant by the video production company he's working at. Then, the very next day, Humble met Freddie for lunch, their first hang time since the Valentine's Day Podcast of Love, and I was in the room with Humble, Fred and Dan Duran for that one. Speaking of Freddie P., I've been working a cool new project with him these past few weeks, something I'm hoping we'll announce next week.

They're both great guys and I like them even better in person than I did when I awoke to their voices every weekday morning. MOJO didn't work out as planned, but had it succeeded, I'd be short a couple of buddies.

Like I said, life is strange. You never know what's behind the corner...

Discuss "MOJO Radio Memories" (2 comments so far)

Weezer - Pork and Beans

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS19 consideration. I'm submitting "Pork and Beans" by Weezer.

I just heard this today for the first time, and I'm digging it. Of course, I've seen Weezer a couple of times in concert and I worship their blue album and Pinkerton, so I'm what you might call a warm audience.

This YouTube clip has audio ripped off the radio and you'll never guess what song they played next. It's shocking!

Discuss "Weezer - Pork and Beans" (4 comments so far)

The Most Hated Teams in NHL Hockey

The Number FiveMy least favourite NHL hockey teams

  1. Ottawa Senators
  2. Montreal Canadiens
  3. Philadelphia Flyers
  4. New Jersey Devils
  5. Boston Bruins

Discuss "The Most Hated Teams in NHL Hockey" (8 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Sixteen

PuckI really hate this Habs ~ Flyers series, because I hate both teams so much. Why can't they both lose?

In the pool, Ryan and Marc are tied in the lead, but Pittsburgh plays tonight which should bolster Drew's chances. Here's hoping the Pens come out of the East.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Sixteen" (3 comments so far)

Out of the Megan Fox Loop

binocularsAlthough I realize I'm losing touch, not being able to name anyone on Laguna Beach or The Hills, I'd be shocked if the sexiest woman in the world was someone I didn't know.

I just read that Megan Fox tops FHM’s annual 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll of FHM readers. I don't know Megan Fox, and I don't think I'd be able to pick her out of a lineup. Well, if it's a random lineup, I'd simply pick out the hottie, but if it's a lineup of babes, I'm in trouble.

Megan Fox's page on IMDB lists a few television shows I've never seen and a few movies I've never seen, led by the popular Transformers. I'm still afraid to watch the live action Transformers for fear it will tarnish my awesome memories of the cartoon series, so I've missed the entire career of Megan Fox so far.

It's too bad. I hear she's sexy.


Discuss "Out of the Megan Fox Loop" (7 comments so far)

No News Is Good News

newspaperI checked my news feeds for a post-lunch news check. The CBC Toronto feed is full of doom and gloom, which is typical of the news in this day and age. No news is good news.

Here are the six most recent headlines.

  • Gas to soar to $2.25 in 2012, economist projects
  • Bread prices on the rise, food reps say
  • Man stabbed to death in east Toronto
  • Ontario mulls inquiry into Baltovich case as pressure grows
  • Halladay tosses away 3-0 lead as Tampa wins again
  • Is Ontario already in recession?

On the bright side, I rolled up the rim last week and won a free coffee.

Discuss "No News Is Good News" (0 comments so far)

Kill Me Now

ttcThe TTC has agreed to study the feasibility of selling corporate naming rights to subway stations as a way to raise money.

The controversial request for a study of practices in other cities came from commissioner Peter Milczyn, who cited an ad from the Middle East city of Dubai inviting corporations to "Turn your brand into a destination" by buying rights to two new transit lines and 23 stations being built there.

"If one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world is looking at doing this, we should at least look at it," he said.

Saying "beggers can't be choosers," Milczyn noted the TTC is embarking on an ambitious expansion while struggling to raise operating funds.

Boy, do I hate this idea. Does absolutely everything have to be corporatized? I don't want to take the subway to Home Depot station or McDonald's station.

Here's hoping this idea dies a quick death. Better it than me.

Discuss "Kill Me Now" (17 comments so far)

Dove Onslaught(er)

videoDove's Onslaught ad was pretty effective, but so is this video from Greenpeace.

Discuss "Dove Onslaught(er)" (27 comments so far)

More Albums in MP3

cdI used to write an update every time I updated my MP3 collection. I'd list the newly ripped albums and tally it all up.

I just did a massive update, but I don't have time to list what's new. I will tally things up, though. I'm now at 1744 complete albums which consumes 134GB and would take 72.6 days to hear.

While we're talking music, I've brought back my last.fm music profile after an eight month absence. Monitor what I'm listening to in real time at http://www.last.fm/user/mikeboon/.

Discuss "More Albums in MP3" (1 comment so far)

Pearl Jam - State Of Love And Trust

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.

Pearl Jam - State Of Love And Trust
There's no particularly good reason as to why I'm sharing Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust" today. It's just a tune from the Singles soundtrack that I loved back in 1992 and I still love today.

It was fantastic unplugged back in '92, too.

Discuss "Pearl Jam - State Of Love And Trust" (1 comment so far)

Constantines and Feist - Islands in the Stream

LinkConstantines and Feist - Islands in the Stream - Made famous in 1983 as a duet by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Islands In The Stream was originally written by the Bee Gees. A favorite of Constantines and Feist, the song was recorded together in Toronto one chilly day in early February following a game of ice hockey and a round of hot chocolates.

Thanks to Jewelgurl for tipping me off about this.

Discuss "Constantines and Feist - Islands in the Stream" (0 comments so far)

Missed Opportunities

raptorsI listened to the first 10 minutes of the Raptor game while driving home from ball practice. We sounded awful. For the second game in this playoff series, the Magic were all over us early. I thought we were going to get blown out.

I tuned in later, just to see how it was going. We had battled back. The final minutes of this game were thrilling as we clung to a one point lead with just over a minute to go. There were three missed opportunities, all involving Chris Bosh.

  1. Chris Bosh's pass to the wrong team late in the 4th. This play broke my heart, because we had the offensive rebound and Bosh inexplicably threw it right into the hands of the opposition. At the time, we were up by a point.
  2. The non-call on Dwight Howard. Down by one with just under 30 seconds to play, Bosh went up to draw a foul. He was clearly fouled by Howard, but the refs didn't call it. You don't want to hear what I yelled at the tv after this play.
  3. With seconds left, Bosh put up the shot that would win it. It was an easier shot than the one Vince Carter took to win game 7 against the 76ers. If Bosh hits this, we come home with a split on the road and the momentum is ours.

Those three CB4 moments are still ringing in my head the next morning. The game was there for the taking, but we couldn't make it happen. I just don't think this team is ready yet.

Discuss "Missed Opportunities" (0 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Fourteen

PuckWith one round complete, I'm not the only poolie to lose 8 of his 10 players. Mike C. and Gary are in the same boat. On the other end of the spectrum is Alexi who managed to have all 10 of his players advance to round 2. Alexi has some ground to make up, but you can't count him out.

After one round, here's the standings. Please don't laugh at me.

1. Ryan = 50
2. Drew = 49
2. Marc = 49
4. Steve = 47
5. Patino = 43
5. Mike C = 43
7. Pops = 40
8. Alexi = 33
9. Gary = 32
10. Mike B = 23

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Fourteen" (3 comments so far)

The Bravery - Believe

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS19 consideration. I'm submitting "Believe" by The Bravery.

This is yet another song I've been digging for some time. We'll call this a little SLS spring cleaning over here. I'm afraid to even look at the official site, which I've neglected for the better part of a year now.

Kic lent me The Sun and the Moon and I'm digging it. Parts of "Believe" remind me of Nirvana's "Plateau" from their MTV Unplugged in New York disc. Does anyone else hear that?

Discuss "The Bravery - Believe" (4 comments so far)

Montreal's Mayhem Makes Me Mad

thumbs downCall me old school, but I don't believe in hitting the streets in celebration until your team has won it all. In years past, when the Leafs would win a playoff round or two, I'd cringe when I'd hear about the mini-parades and street celebrations. I've only hit the streets in celebration twice in my life: when the Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

The Montreal Canadiens, seeded 1st in the East, took out the 8th seed Boston Bruins in seven games. After the victory, street celebrations in Montreal turned violent as vandals torched and smashed more than a dozen police vehicles and damaged local businesses.

Where do I start... It's the first bloody round. The Canadiens haven't won anything yet. Eight team will advance this far. Street celebrations are for championships, not for winning a single series against the 8th seed.

As for the violence, I've never understood that aspect of sports. I suspect there's a group of mayhem seekers who look for any opportunity to torch a cop's car. I remember a GNR concert getting cancelled at the old Forum and Montrealers did the same thing then. Maybe it's a Montreal thing?

Whatever it is, it's embarrassing. I hope the Habs bow out in four next round. I hope Cristobal Huet shoves crow down their collective throats. Go ABM go!

Discuss "Montreal's Mayhem Makes Me Mad" (1 comment so far)

Songs For Earth Day

earthIn honour of sweet Mother Earth on Earth Day, here are songs in my collection with "earth" in the title.

  • Not to Touch the Earth - The Doors
  • Peace on Earth - U2
  • Face of the Earth - Joel Plaskett Emergency
  • Earth Angel - The Starlighters
  • Mother Earth - Memphis Slim
  • Planet Earth - Duran Duran
  • Earthcrosser - Veruca Salt
  • Fire & Earth - Xclan
  • Here on Earth - Crash Test Dummies
  • Revolution Earth - B-52's
  • Earthquake Weather - Beck
  • In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3 - Coheed and Cambria
  • Earth / Monstrous Hummingbird - Rheostatics
  • Final Thoughts and the Last Day on Earth - David Usher
  • The Last Day on Earth - Marilyn Manson
  • Tales of a Scorched Earth - Smashing Pumpkins
  • Back on Earth - Ozzy Osbourne
  • Last Night on Earth - U2
  • Fallin' Off the Face of the Earth - Neil Young
  • Earth, Sky & C. - I Mother Earth
  • Earth Angel - Death Cab for Cutie
  • Planet Earth - Eskimo Joe
  • I Feel the Earth Move - Carole King
  • Children Play With Earth - Arrested Development

Discuss "Songs For Earth Day" (6 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Thirteen

PuckI really wanted to see the Canadiens ousted last night. That would have been so sweet, but alas, it was not to be. The Canadiens rank #2 on my hate list... which I'll unveil on Friday.

In the pool, Drew has been caught. With the Penguins not playing, Ryan was able to catch him with his Capitals who forced a game seven. Marc caught Drew as well, and sits tied in second with him.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Thirteen" (0 comments so far)

Where the Mainstream Media Meets

newsIf mainstream media outlets like CityTV and CBC start going heavy on The Tragically Hip, Homer Simpson quotes, Bill Barilko lore and lots of lists, you know who to blame.

citytv cbc

Discuss "Where the Mainstream Media Meets" (4 comments so far)

Al Wilson, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumAl Wilson was 68. He was the R&B singer best known for his 1973 hit single "Show and Tell."

Discuss "Al Wilson, Rest in Peace" (0 comments so far)

Bedouin Soundclash - St. Andrews

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS19 consideration. I'm submitting "St. Andrews" by Bedouin Soundclash.

Allow me to explain... My first exposure to Kingston, Ontario's Bedouin Soundclash was "When the Night Feels My Song", a song that was played to death back in 2005. I would hear "When the Night Feels My Song" in a Zellers commercial and for whatever reason it turned me off of the song. I refused to put "When the Night Feels My Song" on SLS.

I've actually enjoyed the singles from Street Gospels, but I've fought it. I don't know why I've been fighting it, I guess I hated hearing that first hit single in that damn Zellers ad. Finally, after hearing St. Andrews on the radio for weeks and weeks, I'm agreeing it's SLS-worthy.

Discuss "Bedouin Soundclash - St. Andrews" (5 comments so far)

Wise Bloguero

mouseMy Crocs Conundrum entry has been getting traffic today from this Spanish blog. Here's a copy and paste of the entry.

Los Crocs no sólo son el calzado más feo de la historia de la Humanidad, también empieza a ser responsable de una plaga de lesiones por su uso en escaleras mecánicas. El Ministerio de Comercio japonés ha solicitado al fabricante americano un rediseño de sus futuros modelos, después de recibir 65 quejas de niños que perdieron las uñas de los dedos de los pies después de que sus Crocs se quedaran pegados a las escaleras mecánicas. El año pasado se vendieron 3,5 millones de pares de Crocs en Japón.

Si bien el fabricante es enteramente responsable de afear las calles del mundo, los usuarios no deberían salir más allá de unos metros de sus propiedades con los Crocs puestos, como sabiamente recomienda este bloguero.

The few Spanish words I know I learnt from Sesame Street back in the day. That education was no help at all, so I hit up Google's translation tool to learn what was being said about me. Here's how it translated.

The Crocs are not only footwear ugliest in the history of humanity, it also begins to be responsible for a plague of injuries use escalators. The Japanese Ministry of Trade has asked the American manufacturer a redesign of its future models, after receiving 65 complaints of children who lost nails of toes after their Crocs stay glued to the escalators. Last year we sold 3.5 million pairs of Crocs in Japan.

While the manufacturer is entirely responsible for afear the streets of the world, people should not go out beyond a few meters of their properties with the Crocs posts as wisely recommends this bloguero.

I am indeed a wise bloguero.

Discuss "Wise Bloguero" (1 comment so far)

Podcasts I Listen To

podcastLately, instead of syncing my iPod with the typical playlist of old favourites, I've been loading her up with podcasts. Here are a few of my favourites.

  • CBC Radio Podcasts - There is so much great content here, I had to lead with it. You can download MP3s of "DNTO", "Sounds Like Canada", "Vinyl Cafe Stories", "Quirks and Quarks" and more. It's one of my favourite pages on the web.
  • This American Life - Here's the trick with This American Life. The podcasts aren't free, but the most recent one is... so every week I shoot over and download the freebie. It's fantastic.
  • Anti-Hit List - I first discovered John Sakamoto's "Anti-Hit List" in Eye Weekly, but followed it over to the Toronto Star. Although he only plays songs by the indie artists in his weekly chart, for licensing reasons, it's always a treat. Maybe it's because he only plays indie artists that I like the AHL so much.
  • ESPN Radio Podcasts - "The Best of Mike and Mike", "Pardon the Interruption", "Baseball Today"... it's all here.
  • AlternaGeek - This one is for the geeks, but I like it anyway. AlternaGeek podcasts cover topics including Linux, Mac, Windows, internet tech, blogging, web2.0, gadgets, software, tech news, howtos, and reviews.

Let me know about all the great podcasts I missed in the comments and I'll check them out.

Discuss "Podcasts I Listen To" (5 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Twelve

PuckI finally got around to uploading pics I snapped during our playoff pool draft while we waited for Joe. Here's the photoset if you're curious what a Gary or Drew looks like.

On the ice, the Preds and Ducks are out. I expected a heck of a lot more from the Ducks and drafted accordingly. It's rough when you're down to two players after the first round, but I remember a guy many years back who lost every single one of his players before round two began. As bad as you think you have it, there's always someone worse than you.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Twelve" (0 comments so far)

Is It Barry Time in Toronto?

Blue JaysThe Toronto Blue Jays have released Frank Thomas. The future Hall of Famer was hitless in his last 13 at-bats and only 4-for-34 since homering in three straight games April 5-8.

Buffalo Boy thinks we should sign Barry Bonds to replace The Big Hurt. Last month I wrote that Bonds was done, "blacklisted as a steroid user and perjurer". Even though I'm glad he's out of the game, signing Bonds might be our only chance to make some hay in the AL East.

Bonds can't field or run, but he can still hit and draw walks. It would be a mighty gamble, but if we don't gamble at this point we're looking at another third place finish and being out of the playoffs for the fifteenth consecutive year. The lack of demand for Bonds' services suggest we'll get him fairly cheap, and he'd make a great tandem with Canadian Matt Stairs as our designated hitter. At the very least, it would be good fuel for the Toronto blogging fires.

It might be Barry time, but he doesn't get to bring that special chair of his. No sir, he can park his caboose on the same seat fit for Saint John, New Brunswick's Matthew Wade Stairs.

Discuss "Is It Barry Time in Toronto?" (3 comments so far)

James' First Trophy

thumbs upAt the Swansea Hockey Association banquet today, James received his first trophy. Sure, it was a participation trophy, but it was still a trophy. He was very proud.

His Dad, rushing to get him to the banquet after swimming lessons, almost dropped him off at the wrong place. I had it in my head that he was to be at the Swansea Town Hall at 11am, but a kindly old gentleman there suggested I head over to the Legion instead. Then, when I walked James into the Legion hall, it all came back to me.

It was the same room in which I received my one and only non-participation hockey trophy. I was playing for Sam's Auto Repairs and they were announcing the winner of the Most Improved Player award. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear my name called, but that's exactly what happened. I made my way up on to the stage to receive my MIP trophy in front of the entire league and I remember thinking that maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought I was.

We had a little fun with James' first trophy where I relived that moment by putting on his jersey and hoisting his trophy. It's fun reliving your good memories though your kids.

P4207293 P4207294 P4207287

Discuss "James' First Trophy" (3 comments so far)

Heat Complaint #1

sunTorontonians, it's officially complain-about-the-heat season. After a lengthy complain-about-the-cold-and-snow season, it's nice to completely skip the comfy season and dive right into our annual complain-about-the-heat season.

How hot has it been this weekend? It's only April 20th and I've already taken the ice scraper out of the car and thrown it into the trunk until November. That's right folks, you won't even find a snow shovel on my veranda.

The funny thing is, I already miss complain-about-the-cold-and-snow season.

Discuss "Heat Complaint #1" (5 comments so far)

Are You Red-Y?

raptorsThe Toronto Raptors are going heavy with their Canada's Team spin, and I for one am glad. Their attempt to be Canada's team has them drenching everything in red and white without a hint of purple.

Why a team named after a dinosaur would choose purple as their official colour is beyond me. Comparisons to the famously annoying purple dinosaur Barney were encouraged. The whole purple thing, so key during the first decade of this franchise, simply had to go. I love you, you love me... I think I'm going to be sick.

At the game last week, I couldn't find any purple. A guy in an older ACC uniform selling snacks had a little purple in his shirt and fans in old school uniforms with Camby and Stoudamire on the back had purple, but otherwise it's all Canadian red and white now. Phew!

It's playoff time. Are you red-y?


Discuss "Are You Red-Y?" (0 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Eleven

PuckFirst round picks in the draft should be high scorers from team you strongly believe will make it out of the first round. Crosby and Zetterberg went first overall. If you're going to win the pool, you're looking for at least a dozen points out of that guy. Heck, even if your #1 guy gets upset in the first round, you should still get 6 or so point out of him.

The Avalanche took out the Wild last night, and Gaborik got his first point of the series with an assist on Minnesota's only goal. Pops picked Gaborik with his first pick, and barely avoided a shutout. If you're wondering why the Wild aren't moving on, look no further than the disappearance of Marian Gaborik.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Eleven" (0 comments so far)

Saturday Night Funnies With Dubya

humourAs I watch the Canadiens cough one up to the Bruins, I'm already smirking. Now to turn this Saturday night smirk into a full fledged chuckle... I know! It's time for the comedy styling of George Dubya Bush.

Discuss "Saturday Night Funnies With Dubya" (5 comments so far)

Bike Restoration Project

bikeWhen life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I'm going to start riding my bicycle again.

I made this decision a few weeks ago, and I've done a lot of soul searching as to whether I restore my old bike or buy a new one. My brain says I should buy a new one and my heart says I should fix up my existing bike that's been collecting dust and rust for about eight years. As usual with me, the heart wins and I'm going to bike this summer with ol' faithful.

A little about my bike...

I named him Cody, because when I bought him in 1990, that's what the folks at the now defunct Bloor Cycle called the model. It was $400, which seemed like an awful lot of dough to this teenager. My buddy Ed and I were into skateboarding, and periodically I'd throw a skateboard or surf sticker on the frame. From 1990 through 1999 I rode that bike like crazy. It got me to and from work, to and from high school and university, all over the city. I lived on my bike until I moved out of a basement apartment on Clendenan and into a high rise. That's when Cody went into storage.

As mentioned, Cody hasn't been ridden in about eight years. He's rusty, dusty and all but forgotten. I know I should buy a new bicycle but I feel like this is about more than gears and brakes. This is about the bike I loved, the bike I've owned for almost twenty years.

So yes, I'm going to restore him. I started today by buying a new front tire. Piece by piece, I'll get him back on the road. I'm thirsty for lemonade.

Here are shots of Cody taken last night after I got him out of storage.

Bike P4187278 Bike

Discuss "Bike Restoration Project" (8 comments so far)

Dan in Real Life

A Movie ReelDan in Real Life: 8 out of 10.

Right off the bat I want to thank John for sending me this DVD. That's right folks, if you send me stuff, I'll check it out and write about it here. John sent me this flick and "The Game Plan" which I'll watch at some point with the kids.

"Dan in Real Life" came and went in theatres so quickly, you're forgiven if you don't remember it. I didn't know what to expect, but I found it endearing and funny and cute and by the end I was totally digging it.

Steve Carell, who I love in "The Office", plays a character completely different from Michael Scott. There's lots of other recognizable faces in this thing, and it's so damn wholesome, you don't have to wait until the kids are asleep.

"Dan in Real Life" is a pleasant surprise.

Discuss "Dan in Real Life" (0 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Ten

PuckMy buddy (went to the same high school, never actually spoke) Brendan Shanahan is moving on as the Rangers knocked off the Devils in five. That hurts Steve who has three Devils, and it hurts me, but I'm just fighting to not finish last. Go Ducks go!

In the pool, Ryan is only two points back of Drew, who has led since day one. Drew banks on his high scoring Penguins, who haven't played in a bit thanks to the woeful Sens. That's helped five guys come within five points.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Ten" (0 comments so far)

Top 10 Reasons Booner Isn't Perfect by Mike Hoo

medicalI'm a biomechanical mess. Although the heart and mind is strong, the body won't cooperate. I haven't been able to run longer than 3km since pulling up lame last November. All the gory details are right here.

Mike Hoo, or The Hooster as he's better known, is an RMT (registered massage therapist) and ART (active release technique) certified in lower extremity. I've seen him twice this week and he's got a laundry list of complaints about my biomechanics and flexibility. I like The Hooster because he's brutally honest. I ran with him quite a bit last summer so he doesn't feel compelled to sugar coat anything. Sometimes I wish he would.

I asked Mike Hoo to put together a top ten list of things that are wrong with me. He was more than happy to do this. As you'll see, it's a miracle I was able to complete 10km races last year, play on a championship winning slo-pitch and dodgeball team while living a normal active live chasing after two young kids. I'm a mess!

so here you go as requested.....drum roll please.......

10) weak gluteus medius, aka glute med
9) ridiculously tight hamstrings, normal range is 79-90. you've got 40 maybe 45.
8) fascial restrictions in hamstrings
7) tight hip flexors. mostly iliopsoas and rectus femoris (quads)
6) tight gastrocnemius
5) natural tendency to point toes out, aka increase fick angle
4) decreased proprioception and balance
3) you still like pearl jam
2) you still think the leafs will win the cup
1) you don't stretch

It's really a top 7 list, as the last three don't really count, but still... that's 7 significant issues that makes me wonder how I ever managed to run 17km. Hell, I'm pricing electric wheelchairs. I'm a 33 year old man trapped in the body of a 67 year old.

Discuss "Top 10 Reasons Booner Isn't Perfect by Mike Hoo" (5 comments so far)

The Best Bruce Springsteen Songs

The Number FiveMy favourite Bruce Springsteen songs

  1. Born to Run
  2. The River
  3. Streets of Philadelphia
  4. Glory Days
  5. Badlands

Discuss "The Best Bruce Springsteen Songs" (4 comments so far)

Danny Federici, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumDanny Federici was 58. He was the longtime keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen whose stylish work helped define the E Street Band's sound on hits from "Hungry Heart" through "The Rising."

Discuss "Danny Federici, Rest in Peace" (1 comment so far)

Help Lisa (And Me)

XXXOne of my favourite memories is of an October 5th Saturday afternoon in 1985. I've written about this day in great detail. The Blue Jays clinched their first divisional pennant when my favourite Jay George Bell caught a Ron Hassey fly ball and immediately dropped to his knees in celebration. I cut out the photo of George Bell celebrating and still have it today.

A comment was just left on that entry from Lisa. Here's what she wrote:

Like you, my brother's all time favourite player is George Bell...for his birthday I'm trying to find the picture of him making the game winning catch in 1985. The closest I've come is your picture of the picture.. do you have any idea where I could find this? For years my brother had the picture from the newspaper on his wall... Thanks for any help you can offer.

That image of Bell on the ground celebrating and Tony Fernandez running up to him means so much to me, I'm amazed by how hard it is to find online. I've done several Google searches and I've come up empty. My Google-fu is rarely so weak, so I'm issuing a challenge.

Find the image below and help Lisa make her brother's day. You might make mine as well. Ladies and gentlemen, start your searching!

My Scrap Book

Discuss "Help Lisa (And Me)" (6 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Nine

PuckLet me do a little math.... If the Ducks and Devils go out in five, and the Red Wings dispose of the Predators, I'll be left with Smyth and Wolski from the Avs.

I stink. That is all.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Nine" (1 comment so far)

Dar Robinson's Record Setting CN Tower Jump

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

Dar Robinson was a film stuntman who enjoyed breaking world records. In 1980, he set a world record cable jump from our very own CN Tower. He jumped 366 metres tied to only a 3mm steel cable.

You've got to see this stunt to believe it, and because Mr. WNED17 recorded the made-for-tv documentary The World's Most Spectacular Stuntman, it's embedded below.

Dar Robinson aced this stunt, but six years later he rode his stunt motorcycle off a cliff to his death. Live by the sword, die by the sword...

Discuss "Dar Robinson's Record Setting CN Tower Jump" (2 comments so far)

Happiness is a Sweep of the Sens

humourHistorically, the greatest rival of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been the Montreal Canadiens. My dislike of the Habs, however, pales in comparison to my absolute hatred of the Ottawa Senators.

I don't just hate the Sens, I despise them. I understand that those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, but I'm loving this collapse by the team voted most likely to win the cup back in October. Damn, they came out of the gate like gangbusters and for a while we were wondering if they'd set a new standard for regular season excellence. Then, it all went to shit and they couldn't stop the slide. It was awesome.

I'm actually glad the Leafs didn't take out the Sens on April 3rd because it allowed this to happen. We Leaf fans, without a team to root for, collectively embraced ABO and witnessed a glorious four game sweep at the hands of the young and exciting Pittsburgh Penguins. Next to a series win by the Leafs, this is the best hockey news possible.

It's a fantastic feeling, but it makes me nostalgic for the days we used to knock the Sens out of the playoffs. It seems like yesterday I wrote this entry after we ousted the Senators in 7 back in 2004. We met the Sens in the playoffs 4 times in 5 years and took 'em out every single damn time. Sweet, sweet memories...


Discuss "Happiness is a Sweep of the Sens" (13 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Eight

PuckI feel better this morning. There's a little more jump in my step, my breakfast tasted better, music is sounding better, everything is tinted with a shiny gold. Something is wonderfully different this morning... I wonder what it is?

We all know exactly what it is, and I'll be writing an entry about it shortly. I can't wipe this damn smile off my face!

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Eight" (0 comments so far)

Nobody, Reveal Yourself!

mouseHe or she is still at it. It's been almost five years since I wrote about holiday music but somebody in the guise of "Nobody" has been dropping comments there on a regular basis. I wrote about Nobody earlier this year, and Nobody disappeared for a bit, but he or she has chimed in three more times over the past six days.

Tonight's comment was "CHFI plays Christmas music more frequently (in late November and in December only) every year as Christmas Day gets closer." These comments are from an actual human being, are written in good English and are intriguing the crap out of me. All I can tell from the server log is that it's a Rogers customer who likely lives in Mississauga.

Mississauga Nobody, reveal yourself!

Discuss "Nobody, Reveal Yourself!" (16 comments so far)

Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven

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.

Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven
I was going to share a basketball song, because the Raptors' 2nd season begins this weekend, but I couldn't think of a good basketball song.

Instead, here's a great old tune from Dinosaur Jr. Raptors are dinosaurs, get it? Yeah, it's a reach, but it's a great tune. Work with me here...

Discuss "Dinosaur Jr - Just Like Heaven" (5 comments so far)

David Cook: Cover Artist Extraordinaire

idolMy wife doesn't watch sports, so that makes American Idol the one show the entire family watches together. It's not music I would ever listen to outside of the competition, but for some reason this is the only reality show I enjoy. Maybe it's the singing, maybe it's Simon, I dunno... but for some reason I follow American Idol.

This season, I have a favourite competitor. Week after week David Cook gives the best performance. He has a knack for putting the best spin on songs, even if the arrangement isn't a David Cook original. Last week he covered Our Lady Peace and earlier in the competition he covered Chris Cornell's awesome cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". Last night, he made a Mariah Carey song sound pretty damn cool.

You've never heard Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" sound like this.

Discuss "David Cook: Cover Artist Extraordinaire" (7 comments so far)

Picture In Picture

tvI've never owned a television with Picture in Picture capability. I've always thought PiP would be awesome for sporting events. You could have one hockey game in he corner while you watched another, or you could have the Jays game in the corner while you watched the Raps.

PiP sort of blew up in the 90s when everyone seemed to be buying new televisions with this technology. When I bought my 27" Sony Trinitron about eight years ago, it didn't have PiP, but I figured my next decent tv would have it. Here I am in 2008 and I'm still PiP-less. I'm also PVR-less and HDTV-less.

The stories I'll have for my grandkids about what we had to endure back in the day...

Discuss "Picture In Picture" (7 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Seven

PuckThe Sens and Ducks won't be swept in the first round, because the Ducks managed to win a game last night in Dallas. I caught the end of a pretty exciting Bruins ~ Habs game, and realized how much I miss playoff hockey in this city. We're so damn deprived.

As for our pool, Drew continues to hold a healthy lead while Patino rides the Ribeiro rocket to second.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Seven" (0 comments so far)

20-Minute Toronto Makeover 2008

cityhallOur city is heavily promoting the fifth annual 20-Minute Toronto Makeover. Mayor David Miller is asking all Torontonians at work, school or at home to stop what you’re doing on Friday, April 18, 2008, come outside at 2:00pm and do a 20-minute clean-up blitz around our office, school or neighbourhood.

As you might have guessed, I'm a sucker for stunts like this. I love a community joining together to better our city. Yes, we should be keeping this city clean 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, but this 20-minute stunt will get the press and raise awareness, like our recent Earth Hour did.

I wanted to promote this 20-Minute Toronto Makeover 2008 by posting the ad they've released, but the city's website didn't make an image of the ad available. There is a PDF to download, which makes it easy to print and post (precisely the actions that result in litter), but the blogosphere is completely overlooked.

A blog entry only produces cyber litter, and although it'll take more than 20-minutes to rid the blogosphere of all this crap, you don't have to see it while you're walking our streets.

Discuss "20-Minute Toronto Makeover 2008" (6 comments so far)

Predictable Avery BS

thumbsdownI don't like Steve Avery. I don't know many hockey fans who do. He's a grade A jerk and nothing he does surprises me anymore.

I alluded briefly to the latest Avery silliness in this recap of night five of the NHL playoffs. Avery pulled some school yard stunt where he waved his arms and stick in front of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. No, there wasn't a specific rule against the act, but no sensible person would want this unsportsmanlike behaviour in the game.

In the comments of that entry, Al defended the act as "harmless". My brother piped in hoping Avery "gets what's coming". It's a pretty hot topic of debate around these parts, so I wanted to give it a little FPP exposure.

The ball hockey team I played for as an 18 year old wouldn't have tolerated Avery's antics. I'm reminded of A-Rod's bush league play against the Jays last May. A-Rod yelling "mine" in front of Howie Clark was against the rules, as is Avery's rodeo clown jig the other day. You don't have to make physical contact with a player to be guilty of interference.

He's a class-less bum. It's more predictable Avery bullshit. I didn't like him before, and I like him even less now.

Discuss "Predictable Avery BS" (16 comments so far)

When Tickets Fall in Your Lap

RapsYesterday was a typically busy day that received a delightful curve ball late in the day. At about 4pm, I was offered a couple of primo Raptor tickets for last night's game against the Heat at the ACC.

When Raptor tickets fall in my lap, I'm not one to deny the privilege. I went, had a great time and enjoyed an easy Raptor victory that would clinch us 6th place in the East. That means we avoid the Pistons in the first round and get the far better match up against Orlando.

I didn't think we've have a prayer against the Pistons, so this give us some sweet hope that we could actually win our second series in franchise history. Things should get underway Sunday. As I prepare my red and white wardrobe without a hint of purple, here's the Raps into song that seems to work so well with lights down low and CB4 and the gang hitting the court.

Discuss "When Tickets Fall in Your Lap" (0 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Six

PuckMy, how the mighty have fallen. Us ABOers aren't going to have to sweat it out this spring. The Sens barely made the playoffs and now it appears they're bowing out in four straight in the first round. What a glorious time to be alive!

Go Pens Go!

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Six" (3 comments so far)

Tommy Holmes, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumTommy Holmes was 91. He hit in 37 consecutive games for the Boston Braves in 1945 to set a modern National League record that stood until it was broken by Pete Rose.

Discuss "Tommy Holmes, Rest in Peace" (0 comments so far)

Frank Thomas Makes No Sacrifice

Blue JaysFrank Thomas is on the verge of history. Thomas will become the man with the most plate appearances without having a single stinking sacrifice hit if he gets to the plate four times tonight in Baltimore.

George Bell was another Jay who simply didn't bunt, as was Carlos Delgado. Still, Bell didn't get 9832 plate appearances like Thomas. Take a bow, Franky.

Discuss "Frank Thomas Makes No Sacrifice" (2 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Five

PuckWhen I went to bed last night, the Sharks led the Flames 3-0. I couldn't believe my ears when the shower radio told me Calgary came back and won. Cujo does it again.

The committee met last night and we're going to strip Patino of his four Steve Avery points. Why? Because we don't like Avery or his antics. Sorry Patino, the committee has spoken.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Five" (3 comments so far)

Sunday Morning Showdown

musicOk, kids. It's a "Sunday Morning" showdown. Everyone gets one vote in the comments, make your voice heard.

Which is the best "Sunday Morning?"

No Doubt - Sunday Morning

The Velvet Underground - Sunday Morning

K-OS - Sunday Morning

Maroon 5 - Sunday Morning

Earth, Wind & Fire - Sunday Morning

Julian Lennon - Sunday Morning

Discuss "Sunday Morning Showdown" (17 comments so far)

Joe Johnson: Completely Forgettable

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

If you don't remember Blue Jays righty Joe Johnson, you're forgiven. His MLB career was pretty short. He's awfully lucky he got a 1988 Topps card.

We actually traded Jim Acker to Atlanta to get Johnson. Acker came back to Toronto for a second tour of duty with the club in 1989. All in all, Acker was a Jay for parts of seven seasons and Joe Johnson was a Jay for 30 games over two seasons.

Joe Johnson

Discuss "Joe Johnson: Completely Forgettable" (4 comments so far)

Autism: The Musical

A Movie ReelAutism: The Musical: 8 out of 10.

I'm a lucky SOB. My kids are developing "normally" and are healthy and happy. Autism, once diagnosed in 1 in 10,000 children and now in 1 in 150 children, seems to be everywhere. My mother works with autistic children, and I've been hearing about this disease for years, but I didn't really understand autism until I watched this HBO documentary.

We learn about five autistic children and their involvement in The Miracle Project, a theatre arts program created by Elaine Hall. All five children are afflicted differently, and we're witness to the strain on families and impact an autistic child has on marriages. It's really a must see for parents.

It's on TMN right now. I'm taping it for mom.

Discuss "Autism: The Musical" (6 comments so far)

Damhnait Doyle Covers Das Hip's Bobcaygeon

tragicallyhipNewfoundland and Labrador's Damhnait Doyle has released an album of interesting covers entitled Lights Down Low.

I caught wind of this new release because one of the tracks Doyle covers is The Tragically Hip's "Bobcaygeon", one of my favourite songs from my favourite band. You can hear it right here where Damhnait Doyle is streaming her entire album.

It's worth a visit just to hear her covers of other awesome songs, like Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", The Clash's "Train in Vein" and Foo Fighter's "Everlong".

Discuss "Damhnait Doyle Covers Das Hip's Bobcaygeon" (4 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Four

PuckThis was to join our annual playoff pool, people! The three dudes holding down the top three positions right now, Drew, Mike C. and Patino, are our three newcomers.

At the beginning of the season, nobody could have predicted that both the Ducks and Sens would look so listless after two games. I think they'll both get swept, which blows away half of my selections. At least I'll still have Wojtek Wolski...

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Four" (2 comments so far)

Real Vageniuses Wear Glasses

infoHumble Howard is trying to promote use of the term vagenius when referring to "a good looking, smart chick". His examples include Tina Fey, and that got me thinking about the wonderful world of stock photography.

In my 9-5 world, I spend a lot of time with stock images. I'm always needing an image for the web, a direct mail piece, a brochure or flyer. When I need a smart looking women, the universal sign of intelligence in the stock photography world is the wearing of glasses. Glasses make people look smarter, it's as simple as that.

Real vageniuses wear glasses. Here's exhibit A.

Discuss "Real Vageniuses Wear Glasses" (5 comments so far)

102.1 The Edge Web Site Redesign Wrecks Thursday 30

mouseEdge 102.1 has redesigned their web site. I only discovered the new Edge.ca when I was checking in on the latest Thursday 30 results. That's pretty much the only reason I click over to Edge.ca. I've always enjoyed following the Thursday 30.

Unfortunately, the new redesign has messed up my little past time. Check out the new Thursday 30 home page. Is it asking too much for a little table that tells me where the song was ranked the previous week and how many weeks the tune has been on the chart? This is a big step in the wrong direction.

In case they read this and make things right over here, here's a screen cap of how their new Thursday 30 page looks right now.

Thursday 30

Discuss "102.1 The Edge Web Site Redesign Wrecks Thursday 30" (10 comments so far)

Starting the Weekend Off Right

raptorsCarlos Delfino had 24 points and Chris Bosh scored 21 plus nine rebounds as the host Toronto Raptors cruised to a 113-85 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night. The win officially eliminated Vince Carter and the Nets from the post-season.

It was about a year ago I wrote this open letter to Vince Carter. No other professional athelete upsets me the way Carter does. Hit up that entry if you want to read what I said to the former Raptor star.

Hey Vince, ain't karma a bitch?

Vince Sprains Ankle

Discuss "Starting the Weekend Off Right" (1 comment so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Three

PuckDrew is riding the Penguin train to glory, racking up big time points from Malkin and Malone. He's 7 points up on Steve who has a well balanced attack with 9 of his 10 players getting points.

I have the opposite problem. My first 8 picks in the draft have yet to score a point for me. That's why I'm a whopping 17 points behind Drew after a mere three days.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Three" (1 comment so far)

First Choice-Superchannel Feature Presentation

memoryYouTube user WNED17 recently uploaded some fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips have brought back a tonne of memories for me, so I'm going to feature them one by one over the next few weeks.

I subscribe to The Movie Network (TMN). If you want to see movies and series from HBO and Showtime, you really don't have any other option. Here in Canada, we can't legally subscribe to HBO and such American premium stations, so it's TMN or nothing.

Here's a quick history of pay tv in Canada... It started with First Choice which debuted in 1983. First Choice went head to head with Superchannel in those early years until they realized they had to unite or die. First Choice-Superchannel, which would eventually rebrand itself as The Movie Network, was born.

Here's the intro that ran before First Choice-Superchannel R rated features.

Discuss "First Choice-Superchannel Feature Presentation" (4 comments so far)

Funniest Canadian City Names

The Number FiveThe most funny names of real Canadian cities

  1. Dildo, Newfoundland
  2. Stoner, BC
  3. Come By Chance, Newfoundland
  4. Bastard, Ontario
  5. Crotch Lake, Ontario

Discuss "Funniest Canadian City Names" (6 comments so far)

Ed Sprague Comes Clean

needleFormer Toronto Blue Jay Ed Sprague, the game-winning home run in game 2 of the 1992 World Series against the Atlanta Braves hitter Ed Sprague, the monster season in 1996 Ed Sprague, has admitted to taking steroids and using a corked bat to help inflate his statistics.

I took Andro [Androstenedione], and they [Major League Baseball] banned that [in June 2004].

So, am I the cleanest guy? No, but I tried to be as strong and as healthy as I could as long as I could for my career.

The sad thing is, this isn't the least bit surprising. I now find myself more shocked by 90s MLB stars who played clean.

Discuss "Ed Sprague Comes Clean" (2 comments so far)

Radioactive Man

medicalRight now I'm radioactive. I was injected with a radioactive substance at 8am and now I'm just waiting for the substance to collect within my skeletal system.

This test was ordered by Dr. Lum after six weeks of treatment failed to cure me. For more on what ails me, go here. Here's the purpose of the bone flow and scan.

Infection in the bone (osteomyelitis) can be detected or confirmed by a bone scan, often days or weeks before an x ray would reveal it. Bone scans are useful in diagnosing early arthritic changes, and monitoring both the progression of the disease and the effectiveness of treatment. Unexplained pain may be evaluated with a bone scan, because it can demonstrate fractures that are difficult to detect on x ray. Abnormalities caused by altered circulation to the bone may be diagnosed with a bone scan.

I feel different with this radioactive fluid ripping through my body. Just don't make me angry... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

Discuss "Radioactive Man" (1 comment so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day Two

PuckHow do you bring down the Stanley Cup champions? Get me to draft three of their stars, that's how. The Ducks were shut out yesterday, which means I was shut out yesterday.

Certain guys just seem to score come playoff time. Lehtinen and Morrow are two of those guys. Claude Lemieux is another... although he wasn't drafted this year for some reason.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day Two" (0 comments so far)

Liquid Crystalline Xanthine Alkaloid

boltWe in Raging Storm held our first practice of the season tonight. We're breaking in a few newbies so we wanted to hook up and shake some of the rust off.

After the game, Rich asked a few of us who lingered to shoot the shite if we wanted a Jolt. "Pssst, wanna Jolt?" he said in a dark parking lot. "Sure", I said, intrigued by the offer.

He reached into the back seat of his car and pulled out the largest can of cola I've ever seen. This thing was massive, like a thermos. When I opened it, it made a large popping sound and smoke came out of it.

It's not only chock full of caffeine and sugar, but it's enough liquid to drown a leprechaun, not that you'd ever want to do such a thing. If somebody offers you a Jolt in a dark and empty parking lot, just say no.


Discuss "Liquid Crystalline Xanthine Alkaloid" (7 comments so far)

My Life As A Golf Ball

golfExcluding games on my Nintendo Wii, I've golfed exactly once in my life. It was "lifetime gym" in grade 12 and we took a field trip to a local course to play nine holes. That was over 16 years ago.

One of my brothers golfs quite a bit. I know this because when I'm not sure what else to buy him as a birthday or Christmas present, I usually buy him golf balls. At least I hope he golfs because if he doesn't I've been giving him some pretty crappy gifts.

When it comes to following the PGA, I really only notice the major tournaments and if a Canadian isn't going to win, I'll root for Tiger. I'll root for Tiger because I'd like someone from my generation to shatter all the records. Tiger Woods is the Wayne Gretzky of golf, and that's a once in a lifetime happening.

All you golf freaks have your sights set on Augusta, Georgia where the Masters is underway. My friend Howie is obsessed with Tiger and he considers this a religious weekend. This morning he wrote a funny bit where he answers questions from regular readers as The Masters Guru. He also calls me frequently trying to get me to switch my Maple Leaf love to Tiger love so I can learn what it's like to back a winner. I respond with "1992 and 1993". Yes, I know that winning feeling.

Enjoy your golf. If Tiger is in contention Sunday afternoon, write me and remind me to watch. If Mike Weir is in contention... never mind... now I'm just talking silly.

Discuss "My Life As A Golf Ball" (2 comments so far)

2008 Playoff Pool: Day One

PuckI sure am glad I drafted two Sens! That was the kiss of death for Ottawa. I've never won this damn pool, and even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. My New Jersey duo laid an egg as well. Thank goodness for Wolski and the Avs, getting me 3 points and a tie for fifth.

Drew jumped out to an early lead thanks to his Penguins. Drew is one of three poolies making their debut this year. I now suspect he's a ringer.

For the rest of the story, visit https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "2008 Playoff Pool: Day One" (0 comments so far)

Rick Leach vs. Joe Montana

michiganI wrote earlier in the week about Rick Leach, a Toronto Blue Jay from 1985 to 1988. I had no idea Rick Leach was best known in the USA as the stellar quarterback from the University of Michigan.

I just found a 1978 clip that compares Rick Leach to Joe Montana, and the comparison is pretty favourable to Mr. Leach. Yes folks, he was that good.

From Wikipedia:

Leach was a star quarterback at the University of Michigan from 1975 to 1978 under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. A left-hander, he was given the starting job before his freshman year and held it until he graduated four years later. In his freshman year, with the Big Ten championship and the 1976 Rose Bowl on the line in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, Leach would throw an interception that was run back for a touchdown by Ray Griffin that would be the final score in a 21-14 Buckeye win.[1] However, Leach and the Wolverines would never lose to Ohio State again in his career. One of the finest athletes in Michigan history, Leach was named All-Big Ten as a quarterback three times and also placed in the voting for the Heisman Trophy three times. He was co-most valuable player in the 1979 Rose Bowl.

Leach shattered all Michigan's career passing, total offense and touchdown records. He set an NCAA record for most touchdowns accounted for (82) and broke Big Ten records for total offense (6,460) total plays (1,034) and touchdown passes (48). In 1978, he finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy, behind Billy Sims and Chuck Fusina.

Discuss "Rick Leach vs. Joe Montana" (1 comment so far)

Our Lady Peace Get American Idol Exposure

idolWhen American Idol aired last night, I was busy dodging balls. It has since come to my attention that contestant David Cook, previously written about here and my personal favourite in the competition, performed a song from the Our Lady Peace catalogue calling OLP his "favourite band".

I've always had difficulty gauging the popularity of Canadian bands south of the border. I hear Americans don't get The Tragically Hip, but I know they seem to really like Nickelback. Toronto's Our Lady Peace, a band I've seen live a couple of times, is a band I always assumed was a way bigger deal here in the great white north than in the USA. I'm rather shocked (and pleasantly surprised) to hear Raine Maida and the boys rank #1 on David Cook's hit list.

I used to be a rather big OLP fan. Naveed, the album, is one of my favourites, and "Naveed", the song, is still an iPod staple. Clumsy was a solid disc as well, with the wonderful "4am", but after that I sort of morphed from huge Our Lady Peace fan to OLP appreciator, if you know what I mean.

Here's David Cook singing Our Lady Peace's "Innocent". Too bad he didn't hit us up with something earlier. A little "Starseed" would have been cool.

Discuss "Our Lady Peace Get American Idol Exposure" (6 comments so far)

DJ Danger Mouse - 99 Problems (Jay-Z meets The Beatles)

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.

DJ Danger Mouse - 99 Problems (Jay-Z meets The Beatles)
This weekend Edge 102 was playing "new rock covers", which was actually pretty cool. One track my brother and I grooved too after his move on Saturday was Jay-Z and Linkin Park performing "99 Problems".

"99 Problems" is a great track, but my favourite version is a mash-up of Jay-Z's Black Album version with The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" from their White Album. The result of the mash-up? Yep, you guessed it, The Grey Album.

Discuss "DJ Danger Mouse - 99 Problems (Jay-Z meets The Beatles)" (1 comment so far)

The Ottawa Song

Stanley CupThe Stanley Cup playoffs kick off tonight and I'll be focusing on the Pens / Sens series. You see, without a team to passionately root for, I find comfort in passionately rooting against the Ottawa Senators. Even though I drafted a couple of Sens in my playoff pool, I'll be cheering for the Pittsburgh Penguins as if they're playing for the 416.

Below is "The Ottawa Song", found at ScaryPete.com. ABO! Anyone But Ottawa!

Discuss "The Ottawa Song" (1 comment so far)

A Champion Once More

dodgeballFor the second time in less than eight months, I'm a champion. My slo-pitch team won our division last September and tonight my dodgeball team won the co-ed division.

Dodgeball is fun when you're losing, but it's hellishly fun when you're winning. We dominated tonight, and that's the best.

It's probably for the best that I've had my fill of winning, because my slo-pitch team is about to kick off a season in the comp division, the cream of the crop in the ever-expanding RSPA. I'm about to get a dose of humility, but for now I'm a champion once more.

Discuss "A Champion Once More" (3 comments so far)

Video On Flickr

flickrMy favourite photo sharing service is introducing video. They're all about the image at Flickr, so they only let us pro users upload 90 second clips or less.

Flickr keeps getting better. Back off, Gate!

Discuss "Video On Flickr" (0 comments so far)

Hump It Into Submission

dodgeball"If you want to have dodgeball victory, you have to grab it by its haunches and you gotta hump it into submission!" ~ Patches O'Houlihan, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Even though I missed a good chunk of the season with an injury, I returned last week to help lead my team to victory in the Toronto dodgeball league semifinals. Tonight, we play for championship.

"It's time to separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian." ~ Cotton McKnight, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

It's show time.

Discuss "Hump It Into Submission" (0 comments so far)

Rick Leach: He Disappeared

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

I remember Rick Leach as the backup outfielder who disappeared. I can't remember the specifics, I just remember it was a big deal at the time. They couldn't find Rick Leach for a few days... does anyone out there remember this?

I did Google it, searching for the details, but most of the Rick Leach info on the web is about his career as a quarterback at the University of Michigan. He had a massive NCAA football career before choosing baseball. And to think I just know him as the utility player who disappeared.

Rick Leach

Discuss "Rick Leach: He Disappeared" (3 comments so far)

Three Prong Attack

medicalI saw the sports doc today. I was feeling pretty down about myself last week when I hit my 3k wall, so it was good to reassess everything and come up with a modified game plan.

There is now a three prong attack.

1. X-RAY - I'm getting an x-ray of my hip, pelvis and knee. It's time to look for structural damage.

2. Nuclear Imaging - I'm getting a bone flow and scan of my right leg and pelvis. This involves me getting injected with radioactive fluid to provide functional information to complement the structural infomation.

3. Beating the Crap Outta Me - I've got these trouble spots on my right side that need to be worked on aggressively. This is extremely painful. The spots are already tender and sore, and Hooster is going to work at it until I cry uncle, and then he's going to work on it some more. They want to kick this up a notch and beat the shit out of me for an hour at a time, twice a week.

Doc still thinks I'll be running this spring. After he beat me up this afternoon, I'm afraid to do anything but agree with him.

Discuss "Three Prong Attack" (0 comments so far)

I'm Going To Be Rich

moneyA couple of months ago I wrote about a business proposal I got from a Taiwan Business Bank. Apparently there's $44.5m USD sitting in a dormant account and the account holder is dead. They can't find a living relative, so Mr. Hsu is willing to let me pose as the relative to the deceased client in position to receive the $44.5m USD.

I thought it would be funny that day to write an entry as if I believed the email and was excitedly taking Mr. Hsu up on his generous offer. I just assumed everyone would assume I was savvy enough not to fall for such an obvious scam and that you too would find amusement in my celebratory entry.

Since I wrote that entry I've received dozens of notes from concerned netizens alerting me to the fact it's a scam. The best is when people try to point out the flaws in logic as proof it can't be real.

The purpose of this entry is to assure everyone that I didn't actually fall for Ching-Hua Hsu, Executive Vice President, Head Auditor Wealth Management Division of Taiwan business Bank, Taiwan's little ploy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have someone willing to sell me his Bre-X stocks for mere pennies on the dollar. I really am going to be rich!

Discuss "I'm Going To Be Rich" (3 comments so far)

My 2008 Picks

hockeyBelow are the ten players I chose in tonight's playoff pool draft. It looks like I'll be rooting for Anaheim, New Jersey, Colorado and Ottawa.

Who am I kidding? I will never, ever root for Ottawa. Here's hoping I lose the pool b/c the Sens go out in four.

  1. R. Getzlaf - ANA
  2. S. Niedermayer - ANA
  3. J. Spezza - OTT
  4. M. Schneider - ANA
  5. J. Langenbrunner - NJ
  6. B. Gionta - NJ
  7. A. Vermette - OTT
  8. J. Arnott - NAS
  9. R. Smyth - COL
  10. W. Wolski - COL

Follow along at https://www.torontomike.com/2008hockeypool.html.

Discuss "My 2008 Picks" (6 comments so far)

Another Way to Boycott

OlympicsI was following the news out of Paris closely this morning. Organizers cancelled the final leg of the Olympic run through Paris after chaotic protests. They actually put the torch aboard a bus in a humiliating concession to protesters. That made me smile.

The protest, an effort to decry China's human rights record, will now move to San Francisco where three protesters wearing harnesses and helmets have already climbed up the Golden Gate Bridge and tied the Tibetan flag and two banners to its cables. The banners read "One World One Dream. Free Tibet" and "Free Tibet."

Ever since I wrote this entry about the situation in Tibet I've been struggling with this summer's Olympic games. Canada is not going to boycott these games, but perhaps we the consumers of Olympia should. What if we didn't watch the events, didn't follow the games and didn't celebrate the accomplishments?

Our country isn't going to take the lead, but that doesn't mean we as individuals can't send a message that these practises aren't acceptable. Should I ignore Canada's accomplishments in China this summer?


Discuss "Another Way to Boycott" (9 comments so far)

Tonight We Draft

hockeyTonight we draft our 2008 NHL Playoff pool. When I awoke this morning, there were 14 confirmed to participate. It's noon and I've already had three "sorry man, I can't make it" emails. Still, 11 people makes for a pretty good draft and I'm stoked.

This is at least the 15th year in a row we've held this draft. The first time I participated, in the early to mid 90s, it was held at Bishop Allen high school and the guy running the show was Jason Agnew, who is such a mega big shot he's got his own Wiki page. It says he's the voice of "Stars Gone Wild" on Muchmusic... no foolin'.

A couple of years ago I wrote this about Mr. Agnew.

Why Jason Agnew dropped our annual playoff pool like a hot potato is still unknown, but my guess is hanging out with big time mucky mucks at the Fan 590 like Roger Lajoie and Norm Rumack went to his head. What Agnew didn't know was that our playoff pool would persevere and thrive in his absence.

Screw you Agnew, this thing is big. Tonight, a core group who drafted with you back in the day will be joined by several newbies as we pick players to compete in our 2008 NHL Playoff Pool Extravaganza.

I'm going heavy on Red Wings. Don't tell anyone... they won't see it coming. Everyone's picks will show up here late tonight.

Discuss "Tonight We Draft" (2 comments so far)

Papa's World: From Freddie P and Scary Pete

videosMy pal and partner in crime (more on that soon) Freddie P has unveiled "Papa's World", a potential animated series based on characters owned and voiced by Pete Cugnos. I met Pete the day we recorded the 17th annual Humble & Fred Christmas podcast back in 2006. You may know Pete best as Scary Bald Headed Pete or the voice of the new Mini-Wheats guy.

Papa's World, in its current carnation, is a series of trailers for shows that are written but not yet animated. I've got pals in animation (Alexi, I'm thinking of you) who can throw this entry to those with influence to see if there's a series here. Alexi, forward this link!

Here are the first five trailers for Papa's World.

Discuss "Papa's World: From Freddie P and Scary Pete" (2 comments so far)

Taxes: 2008 Edition

money"Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes". ~ Benny Franklin

For years I kicked it old school with my taxes. I filled in the forms by hand and mailed them to Revenue Canada. At some point I discovered that after I filled in the forms by hand I could enter the info over the telephone and get back my refund faster. I did that until a few years ago when started buying tax software to do my taxes online before I uploaded the .tax file to Revenue Canada via the interweb.

That's what I did this afternoon. I coughed up $20 to QuickTax and did my 2007 taxes online. I am 33 years old and I've never dreaded tax time because every year I get a refund. Now that we're a single income family, my refund has never been higher, so I don't mind spending a couple of extra bucks for e-help.

I figure I've been filing taxes for about 18 years now. I've gone from mailing my taxes to using telefile to using efile. How do you file your taxes and do you do them yourself?

Discuss "Taxes: 2008 Edition" (11 comments so far)

Planet Terror

A Movie ReelPlanet Terror: 6 out of 10.

It only took me three weeks to finish Grindhouse. A bigger fan of Quentin Tarantino than Robert Rodriquez, I opted to watch Death Proof first.

I far preferred Death Proof, which I gave 8 out of 10, but I didn't hate Planet Terror. It was harmless campy fun that reminded me of the days I'd rent Troma films like The Toxic Avenger.

If you only watch one Grindhouse film this year, make it Death Proof, but if you have the time, watching both won't kill ya.

Discuss "Planet Terror" (0 comments so far)

Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 3

LeafsAnd so ends another season of recapping every Leafs game, something I've been doing now for five seasons. During the lockout I even recapped every St. Johns game. In five years I believe this is the only eastern time game I didn't peek at or check the score once until the following morning. I chose chair assembly and Planet Terror instead of a Leafs ~ Habs game on Hockey Night in Canada. That tells you where the passion that unites us all is at right now.

Mark Fucking Bell. He scored again last night. He's the epitome of what's wrong with this team. The GM wanted him, rumour has it Gilmour convinced JFJ that Bell was a great score, personal and legal issues aside, he was a waste of space on the ice when he wasn't suspended or injured. Sure, two goals in a couple of garbage games doubled his season output to a whopping and impressive 4 goals, but he still had a spot on this roster. He was still worthy of wearing the blue and white in NHL contests. He won me a bet, but gave me an ulcer. I'd gladly cough up $50 to regain my dignity, my self respect, a little pride.

Now begins the summer Maple Leaf endless chatter about who will be the new GM (Brian Burke), will Mats Sundin return (no) will the Leafs sign a great free agent (no), will the Leafs draft a future all-star (no), will Paul Maurice return (no) and will the Leafs win the cup in 2008/09 (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!).

How long will it last? How long before that empty feeling fades away? Won't somebody heal my broken heart?

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
83 points
12th in Conference
3-1 Loss vs. Montreal
8-2 Loss vs. Ottawa
4-3 Loss vs. Buffalo
M. Sundin - 78
N. Antropov - 56
T. Kaberle - 53

Discuss "Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 3" (0 comments so far)

Charlton Heston, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumCharlton Heston was 84. He won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur" and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s.

Discuss "Charlton Heston, Rest in Peace" (6 comments so far)

My Muskoka Chairs

heatToday, after a long, harsh winter, the sun came out and it practically felt like spring. I spent the first half of the day helping my brother move, then I watched the Jays game and got a little work done, but after dinner I was put to real work.

My wife wanted a couple of Muskoka chairs for the veranda. She bought a couple of chairs, only they weren't chairs at all. They were dozens of pieces of wood and a bag of screws. I was asked to assemble them.

I'm pretty handy writing XHTML, CSS, PHP, XML and a little JavaScript, and I know my way around a web server, but I'm not the world's greatest handyman. With a little guidance, I put in a good effort, as I did this past summer when I redid the porch, but it doesn't come naturally and I lack the confidence of a Bob the Builder.

As I stared at all the pieces, I asked my wife why we couldn't just buy a Muskoka chair that was finished. She told me they're not around, unless we drive to Muskoka. I don't know if that's true, but I took the hint and got to work.

I second guessed myself the whole way through, but in the end, I was pleased with my new Muskoka chair. I envision myself sitting in it on summer weekend mornings, sipping my coffee and reading my newspaper. One down, one to go....


Discuss "My Muskoka Chairs" (4 comments so far)


A Movie ReelEnchanted: 6 out of 10.

If you haven't seen Enchanted, you probably don't have a daughter between the ages of 2 and 12. Enchanted takes the classic Disney fairytales girls know and love and throws it into modern day New York.

If I put on my 3-year old girl glasses, I get the allure. It even opens as a cartoon before Amy Adams hits New York. It's kinda cute and fun... but when I take off my 3-year old girl glasses, I'm bored and I want to turn it off and watch Scarface or 300.

Discuss "Enchanted" (2 comments so far)

Why the Leafs Stink

leafsThe cover story of the new issue of Maclean's magazine is titled "Why the Leafs Stink". I've probably written dozens of articles on that very subject, so I read with great interest. You can too, because I've reproduced the entire article below.

It would be comforting to believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs are cursed. After 41 years of failure, supernatural explanations start to seem pretty attractive, especially when hard facts are just too painful to face.

It's not like there's any shortage of evidence for those inclined to see paranormal forces at work. These are the Leafs, where one can't-miss prospect after another disappears into minor-league obscurity. Remember Drake Berehowsky, Brandon Convery, Scott Pearson, Luca Cereda, Peter Ing, and Jeff Ware? They all, at one time or another, represented a future that never arrived. What about poor Jason Blake? A 40-goal scorer who gets diagnosed with cancer just months after his celebrated arrival in town. Then there's Mats Sundin. One of the game's true stars, he played 13 years surrounded by one of the best-paid supporting casts in the NHL, never once making the Stanley Cup finals, let alone winning it.

The list of disappointments could fill volumes, and now this. For the first time in Leafs' history, eliminated from the playoffs for a third consecutive season. It'd be tempting to say the team has hit rock bottom, but it's not clear they're done digging.

God hates the blue and white — it's that belief which binds together all those who call themselves citizens of Leafs Nation. On talk radio, in chat rooms, and in sports bars across the country (but mainly in southern Ontario) they share the misery of loving a team that does not give back. Not ever. Their bond is galvanized by the common struggle against forces beyond their control, and by the knowledge that they are hated (vehemently) by fans in Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver and beyond. It's that sense of grievance and isolation that, in the absence of anything real to celebrate, holds them all together.

The only problem with all this talk of curses is that there are perfectly logical reasons for the Leafs' legacy of failure. The fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a bad hockey club is the inevitable by-product of the laws of economics. Their mediocrity is a design flaw, and it comes down to this: for any business to thrive, it must be obsessively focused on victory. Success must yield powerful benefits and failure must unleash harsh consequences. In the world's greatest market for pro hockey, that cost/benefit equation doesn't exist. A gusher of wealth, regardless of performance, has begat 40 years of infighting, a culture of laxity, and a refusal to admit the problem. The Leafs are a monopoly business that has been corrupted by its own market power.

It's not a curse. It's far, far worse.

In 2002, just a few years before he died, the world-renowned economist Peter Drucker was asked what he thought of the U.S. government's obsession with breaking up monopoly businesses (in all industries except sports). Drucker saw no sense in it. Like the dinosaurs, he said, monopolies were all marked for extinction anyway. "I am not afraid of monopolies because they eventually collapse," he said. "Thucydides wrote years ago that hegemony kills itself. A power that has hegemony always becomes arrogant. Always becomes overweened . . . It becomes defensive, arrogant, and a defender of yesterday. It destroys itself."

Arrogant, overweened, defensive, obsessed with history, and doomed. Could there be a better description of the Maple Leafs?

To be precise, however, the Leafs wield what economists call "monopolistic market power" — not quite the same as being a monopoly, but similar. Colin Jones, professor emeritus at the University of Victoria, has spent much of his career studying the economics of pro hockey. "Pretty much any study you look at, you'll find a very strong correlation between attendance and winning." But the Leafs, he says, are different. "They can do whatever the hell they like and the attendance and merchandise sales go up, and TV and radio contracts hold up. In terms of competitive performance, this monopolistic power is a very bad thing."

But just why it is a "bad thing" is the complicated question that underlies 40 years of failure. Thousands of disgruntled observers will tell you the Leafs don't try very hard because, no matter how bad the team is, the arena is full and the team makes a profit. But while there may be some truth to that, it fails to convey just how profoundly monopolistic power corrupts the ability to compete. It's not that the Leafs organization isn't trying. The problem is, no matter how hard they try, their efforts are undercut by the dynamics of their dominant market position. And in the NHL, that is completely unique.

"For most teams, winning is urgent," says Neil Longley, a professor of sports management at the University of Massachusetts, who studies the incentive structures affecting pro sports, including pro hockey. "Even winning doesn't guarantee [financial] success for a lot of teams, but losing pretty much guarantees their failure." Even in a city like Detroit, with a strong hockey tradition, managers know they must always ice a winner to fill an aging rink in an economically depressed area. In New Jersey, not even a perennial Cup contender can fill the arena. Dallas, Denver, Anaheim — all succeed on the ice, and all face an annual fight to turn a profit.

Toronto's problems are, in fact, the exact opposite of most struggling sports teams. There's no miserly owner cutting corners. There's no lack of fan support. And it's not a pressure-cooker environment that stunts the development of young players. (For all the references to the city's rabid media corps, the team is, in fact, treated with kid gloves and feted at any sign of improvement.) No, the rot that is destroying the Leafs comes from having too much, too easily.

This year, Forbes magazine ranked the Leafs (again) as the most valuable franchise in the NHL, by far. It estimates the team to be worth $413 million, up 24 per cent in one year, on revenue of about $138 million, and operating profit just north of $52 million. Consider also that the Leafs are just the biggest part of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which also owns the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, the minor league Toronto Marlies, the Air Canada Centre, and the Toronto FC pro soccer team. All in all, the whole enterprise is valued around US$1.5 billion — three times its estimated price tag of nine years ago, when Richard Peddie took over as CEO. Even at that, Peddie maintains Forbes' valuation is way low. "Let's just say none of our owners would consider selling for that price."

Despite the utter lack of on-ice success, the team has been able to wring ever more revenue from its beleaguered fans year after year. Team Marketing Report issues an annual study of pro sports prices, and this year the Leafs ranked (again) as the most expensive ticket in hockey. The Fan Cost Index estimates the cost of bringing a family to a game — four average-priced seats; two beers; four small soft drinks and hot dogs; parking; a couple of programs and two ball caps. At a Leafs game, that'll cost $476, up 4.8 per cent from last year and way ahead of second-place Montreal at $388.

Economists say that kind of pricing power is typical of a monopolistic business. Remember the days when calling long-distance was a special occasion, because the monopoly phone companies charged a fortune for overseas calls? With their ownership of four of Toronto's major teams, MLSE has an firm grip on the southern Ontario sports market, and the cost of being an Ontario sports fan reflects that.

There is a dark side to that kind of power, however, and it is often reflected in an inability to innovate, and to develop internally. Big monopoly companies generally compensate for their stunted creativity by acquiring smaller firms. Microsoft built a notorious monopoly on its Windows operating system, got extremely rich, but then fell behind more innovative rivals. When Google came along and started dominating the market for online advertising, Bill Gates spent US$6 billion to buy a company called aQuantive to catch up. When it fell behind Mapquest and Google Maps, Microsoft bought Vexcel and GeoTango to try to close the gap. When none of that worked, it paid US$45 billion to buy Yahoo!

The Leafs have relied on the pro sports equivalent: signing veteran free agents to compensate for their woeful record in drafting and developing players. Over the past 20 years, the Leafs have drafted just two players — Tomas Kaberle and Felix Potvin — who went on to play in the NHL all-star game. Over the same period, Montreal drafted eight future all-stars. Currently, 17 of the Habs' 25 players, including virtually all of its nucleus of young talent — Carey Price, Andrei Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins — were acquired through the draft.

This is due in part to the fact that the Habs have been subject to a healthy boom/bust cycle common to most teams. When the team falters, it uses high draft picks and a strong development system to rebuild. The Leafs organization, behaving like a true monopoly, has opted to use its money for a series of short-term fixes — Ed Belfour, Owen Nolan, Brian Leetch, Jason Blake to name a few. These moves keep the team suspended in a kind of permanent stasis. Not good enough to fight for the Cup, not bad enough to effectively rebuild.

Even that dubious strategy, however, has been stymied over the past few years, as the introduction of a salary cap has severely limited the ability of rich teams like the Leafs to spend their way out of bad management decisions. "Pre-salary cap, one of the strategies of the Leafs and other large market teams is to basically outspend your competitor," Longley says. "They no longer have that option. Now the challenge is not a [financial] race to the top, but it's a competition of who can use their money more wisely. Finding the most talent per dollar is going to drive success."

And that suggests, as badly as the team has performed, the real problem exists in the executive suite, not on the ice.

Richard Peddie is sitting at a small conference table in his office at the Air Canada Centre. Laying face down on the table in front of him is a paperback copy of Barack Obama's political memoir The Audacity of Hope. Perfect for the CEO of a team about to set a new standard for futility, but that's not the point. The point will be revealed later. For now, Peddie would just like you to know that he enjoys reading books.

Like many people in marketing, Peddie has a ready supply of anodyne insights that come out as perfectly formed sound bytes. You can almost see the quotation marks as the words come out of his mouth.

— "We have an expression around here: you have to win on the ice and off the ice."

— "Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity."

— "Like that old cliché says, coming close is only good in hand grenades, it's no good in this business."

— "I've always said 'winning is good business.' I came up with a new phrase a couple of weeks ago: 'winning is good business. Championships are even better business.' "

— "My joke is 'at Pillsbury, nobody phoned me to complain about my crescent rolls, here they do.' "

But sloganeering isn't Peddie's only talent. He also has the politician's gift of simultaneously taking both sides of an argument, and doing it so convincingly that you're hard-pressed to notice the contradictions. A few weeks ago, he told the Toronto Sun that it was a mistake to hire John Ferguson Jr. as the team's last general manager. Today, he recants. "I still think John was a good hire. With his resumé, he was the best candidate at the time. But it didn't work out." And then, a few minutes later, a subtle shot at Ferguson's inexperience. "Gone are the days of hiring a rookie for either the Leafs or the Raptors."

Ask about decades of on-ice futility, he points to two trips to the league semifinals under Pat Quinn. "We had a good run when Pat was here. We didn't win the Stanley Cup, but those years weren't bleak at all." Later in the same conversation he confesses: "I didn't come away from those years we made it to the conference finals feeling like we had a great year. Not once."

Ask about his own performance and he rhymes off a long list of financial accomplishments, but later says he will consider his job incomplete until the Leafs win the Cup.

None of this is to suggest Peddie is disingenuous. He's just good at his job. This is what it takes to survive atop an organization steeped in four decades of back-stabbing, factionalism, alliances and betrayal. In the absence of any urgent need to compete against the rest of the league, the power brokers behind the Maple Leafs have honed their combat skills on each another.

It's survival of the slickest, and that is an inescapable part of the malaise that now defines the Leafs organization. It's a problem that has plagued dozens of powerful corporations over the years — Boeing, Coca-Cola, and Disney come quickly to mind. General Electric was famously obsessed for more than a year with the internal rivalry among three top executives to succeed Jack Welch as CEO, and its performance naturally suffered.

The Maple Leafs' history of toxic boardroom politics can be traced back to the late 1960s, when Harold Ballard began his Machiavellian climb from director and minority shareholder to absolutist overlord of Maple Leaf Gardens. In 1971, already facing fraud charges over his misuse of team money, Ballard managed to force his former partner John Bassett out of the ownership group, then gained full control just weeks later, when his erstwhile ally Stafford Smythe died. Under Ballard's often bizarre stewardship, the Leafs were in a constant state of disarray. In the 20 years between 1970 and Ballard's death in 1990, the Leafs changed head coaches 15 times, and a succession of star players, including Dave Keon, Bernie Parent, Lanny McDonald and Darryl Sittler, finally left the increasingly abysmal team.

When Ballard died in 1990, he made Steve Stavro and Don Giffen executors of his will, setting the stage for another power struggle. Stavro eventually won out, but not before Giffen installed Cliff Fletcher as GM. When Stavro completed his takeover, he nudged Fletcher into retirement and brought in Ken Dryden as team president and GM. According to Leafs executives who were there at the time, the Dryden years were characterized by a whole new round of dissension, as he feuded with his assistant, Mike Smith. Pat Quinn was brought in as coach in 1998, and took over as GM in 1999, but by then, he and Dryden were hardly speaking either.

Stavro orchestrated the merger with the Toronto Raptors and the creation of MLSE in 1996, but that did nothing to calm the internal upheaval. He was eventually squeezed out of the company in 2003. He gave up the chairmanship of MLSE to construction magnate Larry Tanenbaum, sold his controlling stake to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, and died a few years later. It was also in 2003 that the Leafs decided to replace Quinn as GM while keeping him on as coach, setting in motion yet another infamous round of internal hostility.

Peddie formed a three-person hiring committee with Quinn and Dryden (two men who both thought they could do the job perfectly well). According to people familiar with the situation, Quinn wanted one candidate, Dryden another, and neither man would budge. Ferguson — a 36-year-old who'd never been an NHL general manager — was finally hired as a compromise candidate, backed by Peddie and Tanenbaum. In other words, nobody really thought Ferguson was the best man for the job, he was merely the one person everybody could live with. That's neither a ringing endorsement nor a recipe for success, but that's how arrogant and fractious organizations often do business.

Dryden soon moved on to federal politics, but the atmosphere at MLSE never warmed. One former NHL executive who knows both men says the dynamic between Quinn and Ferguson was doomed from the start. "They thought he'd learn on the job, but learn from who? Pat hardly spoke to the guy."

Ferguson finally fired Quinn in 2006. And this year, after a string of failed signings and dismal trades, Ferguson got the axe too. But there are many in and around the league who believe the real problem remains in the boardroom. The most outspoken critic may be Bill Watters, a former assistant GM under Quinn who is now a sports radio show host and television commentator. "The state of the organization is best exemplified by the interference provided by Peddie and Tanenbaum. That is the essence of the rot," he says. "I would sooner put up with Harold Ballard and all his quirks than with Peddie and Tanenbaum. They have no idea what they're doing. At least Harold was a sportsman."

In Leafs vernacular, that is pretty much the ultimate condemnation. Comparing the MLSE boys unfavourably to Harold Ballard is like saying Italy was better off under Mussolini. But Tanenbaum dismisses Watters as a disgruntled former employee, levelling "personal attacks to increase his on-air ratings."

As for rumours that Peddie and Tanenbaum have renewed the Leafs tradition of infighting and interference, both men deny it — and that's where Barack Obama comes in. "There's this meddling rumour right? They talk about dysfunction and meddling," Peddie says, picking up his copy of The Audacity of Hope. He points to a highlighted passage in which Obama laments how facts get distorted and then re-reported ad nauseam in the Internet age. This is a sore point. "I've never once influenced a trade, a free agent, a draft choice. Never once. Yet, if you polled the people they'd say 'Peddie meddles.' Once these things get out there, it takes on a life of its own."

Tuesday, March 11 in Toronto, and the home team is still on life support. Fading hopes to make the playoffs are on the line against the Philadelphia Flyers. Early in the third period, the expense-account crowd hasn't even made it back to their platinum seats when the Flyers pull ahead 3-0. A dejected calm falls over the ACC.

Then, a goal from Sundin with 15 minutes left changes the game. Pavel Kubina buries a slapshot with just under seven minutes to play. And, with 3:41 on the clock, the equalizer goes in. With a minute left in overtime, a fluky little flip-shot from behind the net hits a Flyer defenceman and bounces into the net. The Leafs win and the ACC crowd, nearly silent just 30 minutes ago, goes absolutely freaking nuts.

Over the next few days, the winning streak stretches on — another victory on the road in Philadelphia, then one in New York and another in Buffalo. Then, sweetest of all, Ottawa. Even an injury to Sundin doesn't slow the momentum, and the papers are full of hopeful stories lauding the team's courageous, improbable run for the playoffs.

Alas, just as quickly as it began, it's over. Back-to-back losses to the Boston Bruins and the Leafs are back to a sad, familiar place.

Don't the Leafs want to win?

Of course they do. Listen to Peddie talk about getting booed on the street when he goes for lunch. His frustration is real, but it is largely beside the point. "The team makes too much money. It's too easy," explains one former NHL general manager. "There's just no burning incentive to put a good team on the ice. And it's been that way since long before any of these current people were involved."

The players want to win too. But, as that former executive points out, in February when the Leafs asked five veteran players if they would agree to be traded to Cup contenders, all five refused, preferring to stay in Toronto despite the team's woeful record. Few in the hockey world were even surprised. "They need a cultural change. Everybody's just too comfortable."

Easy to say. Hard to do. Peddie promises that over the coming months, MLSE will hire "a proven winner" to run the club. That person will be paid more than any other executive in the league, will be given absolute autonomy to run the team, and a mandate to win the Stanley Cup. But Longley points out that the Leafs have been through dozens of coaches, hundreds of players, three distinct ownership structures, and yet the results remain astonishingly consistent.

Peddie rejects the notion that the Leafs are structurally ill-equipped to compete. "What the economists don't understand is the emotion of it," he says. "We're executives but we're also fans. We want to win."

But that's just it. Fans are the ones who celebrate every goal, every hit, and every fleeting win streak. Fans can be convinced that a last-minute dash toward the playoffs (in a 30-team league, in which more than half of the teams make the cut) is an achievement worth celebrating. Fans wish for success. Leaders make it happen, because they can't live with the alternative. Fans perpetuate the status quo. For 41 years, the Leafs have had too many fans, and not enough leaders.

The distinction is perhaps best illustrated by a story from 27 years ago. One night in 1981, the Winnipeg Jets — then the league's worst team — came into Maple Leaf Gardens and laid a humiliating pounding on the home team. During a stoppage, an older gentleman approached the boards, took off his Leafs jersey, threw it onto the ice and walked out of the rink in disgust. "He must have been close to his seventies, and all these people clapped," one witness laughs. "But you know, I bet that guy came back the next night."

Of course he did. That's what makes the Leafs monopolistic. And that's the problem.

Other than the one factual error I spotted, when Steve Maich writes "over the past 20 years, the Leafs have drafted just two players — Tomas Kaberle and Felix Potvin — who went on to play in the NHL all-star game", it's pretty spot on. We're far too happy with too little and management has been incompetent and distracted by power struggles and backstabbing for far too long.

I hate being a Leafs fan, but I wouldn't have it any other way.


Discuss "Why the Leafs Stink" (11 comments so far)

That's The Way I Like It

bluejaysThe Jays look awesome tonight. It's too early to tell if we'll take out the Red Sox in our home opener, but win or lose, we'll look good doing it.

They're donning the old powder blue uniforms and I'm wondering why we ever ditched these beauties. At least somebody at Rogers heard my plea.

That's the way I like it.

powder blue

Discuss "That's The Way I Like It" (4 comments so far)

A Good Mover Am I

boxI just know this is going to be one of those entries I regret writing, but what the heck. I am a good mover.

First and foremost, I'm dependable. If you say Saturday morning at 8am, I'm there. Dependability is key.

I'm also efficient. I don't need breaks, I aim to finish early. Lay down the game plan and I'll execute it effectively. And that game plan? I'm good at that, too. I can manage the entire move, deciding who does what and how to do it so it makes the most sense.

My brother is moving tomorrow and I've been called into action. I even get to be the truck driver because my 31 year old bro hasn't got around to getting his license yet. To Ryan's credit, he was smart enough to call the best mover he knows.

I'm a very good mover.

Discuss "A Good Mover Am I" (0 comments so far)

Uncle Bobby

rewindOne of the first children's shows in my memory bank is Uncle Bobby. It aired on CFTO, our Toronto CTV affiliate, but it went off the air when I was five.

One of the staples of Uncle Bobby was "Bimbo: The Birthday Clown". Wikipedia describes Bimbo as "a stationary cardboard cut-out who would come out of his closet to the tune of Jim Reeves's Bimbo and a booming laugh as Uncle Bobby announced that day's birthday greetings. Accompanying Bimbo were three puppets on a string, Wilson, Keppel and Betty, named after British music hall performers, who would "dance" to Bimbo's theme."

A friend just sent me to the video below as an example of why many kids grow up afraid of clowns. Personally, I blame Poltergeist, but Scott makes a good point. Bimbo was one frightening mofo. Happy birthday, kids!

Bobby Ash, the imported Uncle Bobby, passed away last year. Here he is, ensuring a generation of Toronto-raised kids grow up afraid of clowns.... and birthdays.

Discuss "Uncle Bobby" (4 comments so far)

Akon Calls T-Pain

humourThis tickled my funny bone. Enjoy a little Friday funny.

Discuss "Akon Calls T-Pain" (0 comments so far)

NES Games I Loved

The Number FiveGames I loved on the old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System

  1. RBI Baseball
  2. Blades of Steel
  3. Super Mario Bros 3
  4. Ice Hockey
  5. Punch Out

Discuss "NES Games I Loved" (5 comments so far)

Maple Leafs 2, Senators 8

LeafsCrap, I wanted the Sens to miss the playoffs. All Ottawa has to do now to secure a playoff berth is to get at least one point from its final regular-season game tonight at Scotiabank Place against the Boston Bruins.

If they lose in regulation to the Bruins, they can still make the playoffs, but they need help. We could have saved our season with a better effort last night.

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
81 points
Tied in 11th in Conference
8-2 Loss vs. Ottawa
4-3 Loss vs. Buffalo
4-2 Win vs. Montreal
M. Sundin - 78
N. Antropov - 56
T. Kaberle - 53

Discuss "Maple Leafs 2, Senators 8" (5 comments so far)

Albert, We Need You

canadiantireI chose the Jays game tonight over the Leafs game, but I flipped over every so often hoping for a Sens loss. Once things got out of hand, I stopped flipping over.

Reading the AP summary of the game I caught a picture of an "Upset Fan" wearing a bag over his head. Here's that picture.

Senators Maple Leafs Hockey

That picture piqued my interest, so I visited UpsetFan.com. The guy behind the site and the movement is Dave Armstrong, the same guy behind the 1985 "Albert, We Need You" campaign. I remember that one, because it was based on a very popular Canadian Tire ad at the time.

Here's that famous Albert ad that ran in the mid-80s. Albert! Albert!

Albert would look sweet in blue and white this October.

Discuss "Albert, We Need You" (2 comments so far)

Jimy Williams: Never Won The Pennant

blue jaysI'm featuring 1988 Topps Cards featuring members of my beloved Blue Jays that are featured on this blog.

I never felt comfortable with Jimy Williams at the helm. I liked Bobby Cox and I liked Cito Gaston, but I never believed Jimy Williams had what it took to lead my Jays to the playoffs.

History proved me right. Bobby Cox managed our 1985 pennant winning team in his last Blue Jay season and we didn't win another until 1989, the year Cito replaced Jimy.

Being a mega George Bell fan, Jimy never really had a shot with me. The two hated each other. Jimy Williams wanted Bell to DH, and Bell wasn't ready to give up left field. Jimy may have been right, but I wasn't going to hear it.

Jimy Williams 88jays

Discuss "Jimy Williams: Never Won The Pennant" (0 comments so far)

Emblematic of What’s Wrong With Toronto?

cityhallI'm just checking my RSS feeds now, so I only just learnt that I'm emblematic of what’s wrong with Toronto. In fact, according to this entry from my pal Freddie P., I'm why Toronto has no chance. Here's a sample of what you'll find at torontomike.com this morning...

I truly admire my friend Mike Boon, but Boon is so emblematic of what’s wrong with the Toronto. Just go to his website and search Rob Ford and you'll see what I mean.

While the mayor and his NDP council systematically ruin the city, Boon prefers to put his focus on Rob Ford and criticize his so called political incorrectness and his personality.

Mike is like so many other bleeding heart Liberals and socialists in Toronto. They like to jump all over the Ford for his brash personality and some of his outrageous statements, while ignoring the real problems.

If it wasn’t for Rob Ford, so much of the incompetent, inept and wasteful policies at Toronto city hall would go unchecked. If it wasn’t for Rob Ford, the city of Toronto might find itself in worse shape than it already is.

While David Miller and his band of yahoos enact policies that push the city in reverse, Mike Boon and his like prefer to worry about whether someone is called an Oriental instead of an Asian.

While the David Miller regime mismanages tax dollars, and wastes money on free lunches, free trips and golf memberships, people like Boon prefer to focus on the fact that Rob Ford was overheard using profanity at a hockey game.

I'm guessing Fred has just read my Rob Ford Video Hits entry from earlier this week. That same entry caught Humble Howard's attention as well, and prompted him to write this entry which could have been titled "Why Toronto Has A Chance". Here's a taste of what my pal Humble wrote...

Years ago when I used to host a little radio show, Rob Ford was an amusing guest from time to time. I mean both he was amusing and a guest, from time to time.

Anyway, he was the aforementioned simply because he was a "loose" cannon. He would say outrageous things and it was fun to hear him slam the other nitwits on City Council.

Well I guess that act has worn a little thin. The Asian-non apology thing, the threatening to kill your wife thing and now this nasty little clip.

I got this off of the Mighty Boon's site and it's sickening. It is Rob Fords' true colors and the reason he will never be Mayor of Toronto. It is the type of thing that will be run over and over again should he even think of trying for office.

The people in his ward might be cool with good old Rob's antics but his schtick has gotten old and it certainly won't play outside of his inner circle.

As the only one of the three of us residing in the 416, I'm glad Rob Ford will never be mayor of my city. It's not just that he uses the wrong words, it's that he's an obnoxious, lying bully with little respect for the diversity of this city. He's somehow found his niche as the expense policeman who brags about his refusal to spend city money to run his office, but he's a one-trick pony. He hits that one note over and over again, and even if there's credence in his single point, it's drowned out by his homophobic, close-minded, dinosaur antics.

It's not about his words, it's about his character, and Toronto deserves far better.

Discuss "Emblematic of What’s Wrong With Toronto?" (8 comments so far)

March 2008 Search Engine Referrals

Search StringsThese are the top searches that referred people to this site in March of 2008. That's some big shiny dominance!

  1. wedding playlist
  2. big shiny tunes 3
  3. wedding playlists
  4. big shiny tunes 2
  5. big shiny tunes 4
  6. big shiny tunes 5
  7. big shiny tunes 7
  8. bill barilko
  9. torontomike.com
  10. edgefest 2008

Discuss "March 2008 Search Engine Referrals" (0 comments so far)

Mikhail Youzhny's Bloody Pissed

tennisI've lost touch with many of the players on the tennis circuit. I used to know most of the names, but now I only know a few. Until today, I had never heard of Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Youzhny, facing Spain's Nicolas Almagro at the Miami Masters, lost a point and got pissed. Look what he did to himself.

Discuss "Mikhail Youzhny's Bloody Pissed" (4 comments so far)

Lovin' The Useless Trivia

bluejaysWhen Alex Rios hit an RBI single in the first inning tonight against the Yankees, his hitting streak against the Yankees was extended to 22 games.

That's the longest such streak since 1956, surpassing 21 game streaks by Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Molitor and Harold Baines.

It's a useless piece of trivia, but I dig it.

Discuss "Lovin' The Useless Trivia" (2 comments so far)

Nice Try, Prima

tvI shared an experience I had with my Prima television back on January 14, 2007 @ 13:26. I felt better just writing that entry, and a regular reader of this blog even gave me a TV he had collecting dust after I shared my pain. Little did I know at the time that my entry would become the source for warnings about Prima televisions.

There are 160 comments on that entry right now, all of them negative. The consensus is that Prima televisions are both poorly made and poorly supported. That means it'll break down, or burst into flames, and nobody at Prima will answer the phone to help make things right. Read the comments one time and you'll never, ever buy a Prima TV. Sure, it'll be cheaper, but it'll most likely end in disaster.

Earlier today, I received two messages from someone who claimed they represented Prima. These messages suggested that everyone but me has a great experience with Prima televisions and support. This person used the form on my contact page, so I was able to verify that these messages were sent from a computer in the Fraser Valley Regional Library in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Oh how I remember calling that BC area code trying to get a human being at Prima... Here's the first message I received.

It's Prima! I love your fan club. My question to you is why is it that you have a hard time getting through to us and every other customer that seems to call gets through just fine.

This afternoon a comment was left on my My Prima Television Nightmare entry. This was the first of 160 comments that shared a positive Prima experience, and what a coincidence! It was made from a computer in the Fraser Valley Regional Library in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Here's the comment from Raja.

Hey guys I thing u guys r very wrong abt Prima ...Look at m eI brought 3 LCD's its working perfectly fine.The customer service is really awesom coz whenever i call and leave message they give a reply .......May be I am fortunate

Sure, the IP address reveals Raja as a fraud, but even without the smoking gun, let's parse this comment. Raja has three perfectly fine Prima LCDs and always has success when he calls Prima customer service. If Raja's three LCDs work perfectly fine, why is he always calling Prima's customer service?

Discuss "Nice Try, Prima" (6 comments so far)

Sonic Youth - Superstar

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.

Sonic Youth - Superstar
Sonic Youth's cover of the Carpenters' "Superstar" is one of my favourite covers of all time. Wait a minute... the Carpenters aren't the original singers of "Superstar"? It was first released by Delaney and Bonnie back in '69 and many artists, including Bette Midler and Cher got to it before the Carpenters, but the Carpenters made it famous back in '71.

Sonic Youth recorded it for the 1994 tribute album If I Were a Carpenter and their version haunts me. Sonic Youth did for the Carpenters what Chris Cornell did for Michael Jackson. You may have heard this version recently in Juno. Enjoy...

Discuss "Sonic Youth - Superstar" (0 comments so far)

Maple Leafs 3, Sabres 4

LeafsAfter dodgeball, I watched the Jays game but turned to the Leaf game after the final out. That was just in time to watch Alexander Steen score the go-ahead marker with eight minutes to play in a game that meant nothing to us but everything to Buffalo.

The Sabres came back and won in a pretty entertaining shootout, and I was cool with that. I'm in full-blown ABO mode. Anybody but Ottawa. As a result, it's go Bruins, go Flyers, go Capitals, go Hurricanes and go Sabres!

Current Record  Last Games Season Leaders
81 points
Tied in 11th in Conference
4-3 Loss vs. Buffalo
4-2 Win vs. Montreal
4-2 Loss vs. Boston
M. Sundin - 78
N. Antropov - 56
T. Kaberle - 53

Discuss "Maple Leafs 3, Sabres 4" (6 comments so far)

The Royal Canadian Air Farce

tvCBC-TV's long-running comedy show, "The Royal Canadian Air Farce," is ending its 15-year run.

Just last summer I confessed I have never found "Royal Canadian Air Farce" funny.

It's got ten more episodes to air, and I'll bet they won't be funny either.

Discuss "The Royal Canadian Air Farce" (7 comments so far)

A Ball Well Dodged

dodgeballAfter several weeks on the shelf, I made my return to dodgeball just in time for the semi-finals. We were facing the team that beat us in game one, a bunch of bearded dodgeball playing misfits who had a great regular season. The competition was fierce.

I played my best game to date, and it was super fun. Once you get in the groove, I don't think there's a more fun sport out there. It's 60 minutes of non stop dodging, catching and throwing, with a little trash talk sprinkled in for good measure.

We dominated. We're off to the finals next week. We could be the recreational dodgeball champions of Toronto.

If we prevail, you can etch that on my tombstone.

Discuss "A Ball Well Dodged" (1 comment so far)

The Final Opening Day at Exhibition Stadium

jaysI'm watching the Jays opener against the Yankees. It's the last opening day in Yankee Stadium history. I remember skipping school to attend the last opening day in Exhibition Stadium history.

There were 46,028 of us on hand that April 14th, 1989 afternoon. Jimmy Key pitched a two-hit complete game gem in a 3-0 shutout. Nelson Liriano of all people was the offensive hero with a two run single to left. When Kevin Seitzer flew out to George Bell to end the game, we were on our feet, saluting a masterpiece by Key and our favourite mistake by the lake.

I was in the general admission grandstand, and the regular price for that ticket was $4. I believe I got in for $2 thanks to a promotion by Dominion grocery stores. That was the best deal in the city.

Exhibition Stadium didn't have the history of Yankee Stadium, but try telling 14 year old me that. We won that game, and I'd like to win this one. It's 3-2 Yankees in the 8th. Go Jays Go!

Discuss "The Final Opening Day at Exhibition Stadium" (2 comments so far)

The Problem With Baseball

baseballDon't get me wrong, I love baseball. I'm psyched about a new season of Blue Jays baseball and hopeful we can return to the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years. It's a fantastic game, but there's a problem with parity.

Take our AL East division as a good example. The New York Yankees have won the AL East pennant nine of the last ten seasons. The only time the Yankees didn't win the pennant, they won the wildcard and the Red Sox won the pennant. Over the past ten seasons, the wildcard team has come out of our AL East division six times, and it's always been the Red Sox or Yankees. That's an entire decade completely dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox.

Not coincidentally, the Yankees and Red Sox have the highest payrolls by a long shot. Last season, the Yankees payroll was $195,229,045, the Red Sox' payroll was $143,123,714 and the Blue Jays payroll was $79,925,600. No wonder we keep finishing third.

I just read that A-Rod makes more money than the entire Florida Marlins team. A-Rod will earn $28 million this season and the 33 players on the Marlins' opening-day roster and disabled list total $21.8 million.

It just doesn't seem fair, does it?

Discuss "The Problem With Baseball" (1 comment so far)

No April Fool's Day Joke

dodgeballI got the call. The dodgeball team I played with earlier in the year before quitting on the advice of my doctor needs me. They're short a guy for their semi-final playoff game tonight.

This is not an April Fool's Day joke. I'll be on the floor tonight with the season on the line. It's time to dodge some balls.

I've been waiting for this moment all my life. I'm ready.

Discuss "No April Fool's Day Joke" (0 comments so far)

April Fool - Chalk Circle

calendarToday is the perfect day to share my favourite song from the first band I saw live in concert, Chalk Circle.

April Fool

Discuss "April Fool - Chalk Circle" (5 comments so far)

« March 2008 May 2008 »

Want more Toronto Mike blog entries? Visit the archives.