July 2008 Archives

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Ludacris' Obama Song

MusicLudacris wrote a song for Obama called "Politics as Usual". Read the lyrics and guess why Obama is distancing himself from this endorsement.

Will give Luda a special pardon if I’m ever in the slammer
Better yet put him in office, make me your vice president
Hillary hated on you, so that bitch is irrelevant

The first black president is destined and it’s meant to be
the threats ain’t fazing us, the nooses or the jokes
so get off your ass, black people, it’s time to get out and vote!
paint the White House black and I’m sure that’s got ‘em terrified

McCain don’t belong in ANY chair unless he’s paralyzed
Yeah I said it cause Bush is mentally handicapped
Ball up all of his speeches and I throw em like candy wrap
cause what you talking I hear nothing even relevant
and you the worst of all 43 presidents
get out and vote or the end will be near
the world is ready for change because Obama is here!

It's catchy, though.

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Leif Pettersen, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumLeif Pettersen was 57. He played eight CFL seasons with Saskatchewan and Hamilton and worked as a television analyst.

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O Canada, Vegas Style

canadaVegas Geoff just sent this over.

I just came across this absolutely fantastic clip of our anthem being butchered during a Las Vegas Posse CFL game. Apparently, the story goes that this singer, Dennis "KC" Parks, had never heard the anthem before, so just tried to wing it. As you can tell, it didn't go so well.

This is "O Canada", Vegas style.

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Igor Kenk Stole My Bike

bikeI can't say for certain that Igor Kenk stole my bike. It happened in 1989 and my bike was gracefully removed from our garage in the middle of the night. One morning I woke up, saw the garage door was opened and realized my bike was gone.

Shortly thereafter I bought the same bike I ride today, but I've been ready to have my bike stolen for the past 19 years. I've always believed Toronto was "the bike theft capital of the world" because that's what we've always been told. In fact, I'm now riding my ancient beater because I didn't feel like spending a lot of money on a new bike just to have it stolen. Igor Kenk may have got me once, and I wasn't going to let him get me again.

Igor Kenk, for the unaware, is the owner of the Bicycle Clinic at Queen St. W. and Strachan Ave. recently charged with bike theft. Police have seized 2,789 bicycles since Igor Kenk's arrest, not to mention 17 pounds of marijuana. Now that Kenk is behind bars we're hearing that bike thefts in our city have fallen sharply.

I'm not an advocate for capital punishment, but Kenk might be the exception. The bastard stole my bike! Maybe...

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Lynn Johnston Makes Me Feel Dumb

fbofwToday's For Better of For Worse strip is sweet and all, but I didn't get it. I simply didn't know what mucilage meant.

I need you to be honest with me. Should I have known was mucilage means? I suppose the real question I'm asking is, without cheating, do you know what mucilage is?


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The Last Refuge of a Blogger

sunOver at Freddie P's blog, he's been writing about how little there is to write about these days. The absence of an interesting and juicy news story is the juiciest story out there.

It’s been a quiet summer when you think about it. There’s been some gun play in the GTA, but nothing like past years, and the gang activity seems to have thinned out.

Mayor Miller has been rather quiet. He must be taking some time off this summer because; there have been very few puzzling or mind boggling decisions or statements by the man who’s slowly destroying Toronto.

Federally, it’s the same old story. A Liberal leader is attempting to destroy himself, but Ontario won’t stand for it. Canada’s most twisted province prefers to over-look the obvious shortcomings of the Liberals, and instead, dig deep for anything that might make the Conservatives look bad, even if it’s fantasy.

It’s left me scratching my head many days this summer wondering what to write about.

I agree, there hasn't been a lot of news you can sink your teeth into this summer. One can only write so many entries about Mats Sundin.

Yes folks, I just wrote about how there's nothing to write about. That's the last refuge of a blogger.


Cartoon by Dave Walker.

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Lloyd Moseby: The Shaker

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

We called Lloyd Moseby The Shaker, and he was part of "the best outfield in baseball" playing center field between George Bell and Jesse Barfield. The Shaker Mo is still the all-time Blue Jays leader in stolen bases and he was an all-star in 1986.

A likable player who signed this autograph for me, future generations will remember Lloyd Moseby for his "Shaker's Rap". If you haven't yet heard "Shaker's Rap", you're in for a treat. Get on over there and hit play.

Lloyd Moseby

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It's Not The Buildings We Love, It's The Signs

cntowerHere in Toronto, we love our signs. You can tear down our buildings, just don't mess with the signage.

The CHUM building on Yonge Street, just south of St. Clair Ave., is going to be torn down and turned into luxury condos. Fear not Torontonians, the iconic CHUM sign will be saved from demolition.

I previously examined our love affair with signs after Ed Mirvish passed and I wondered what would happen to the Honest Ed's sign when that property is eventually re-purposed. Prior to that, there was the united cry to save the Sam the Record Man sign and the City TV truck.

I don't know about you, but I feel better knowing the CHUM sign is safe. You can do what you want to our buildings, just don't f*ck with our signs.


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Michelle is Four

birthdayThe baby of the house is now four. That's no baby, that's not even a toddler, that's a bona fide school-going big girl age.

I'll never forget the details surrounding Michelle's birth because I blogged the crap out of it. The July 2004 archives are full of memories like this one, this one, this one, this one and this one.

Here's Michelle, four years ago today.

And here's my big girl celebrating her birthday on Saturday. Happy Birthday, Michelle!


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A 14th Canadian to Play for the Blue Jays

bluejaysThe Toronto Blue Jays just recalled Canadian pitcher Scott Richmond from triple-A Syracuse. Richmond, 28, of North Vancouver, B.C., has made five starts for the Syracuse Chiefs, posting a 0-2 record with a 2.53 ERA. He has limited opponents to a .210 batting average, while walking only six and striking out 31 in 35 innings.

He will become the 14th Canadian to play for the Blue Jays. Here are the first 13.

  • Dave McKay
  • Paul Hodgson
  • Rob Ducey
  • Denis Boucher
  • Vince Horsman
  • Rob Butler
  • Paul Spoljaric
  • Paul Quantrill
  • Rich Butler
  • Steve Sinclair
  • Simon Pond
  • Corey Koskie
  • Matt Stairs

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Cuil Search Engine

webCuil, pronounced cool, is the newest search engine out to steal a slice of Google's pie. I just checked it out for the first time by searching for toronto blog.

The results were fantastic! I mean, look at what's #1 in Cuil when you conduct that search. That's pretty cuil.

toronto blog - Cuil_1217256324146

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Goldie Gardner No Longer Annoying Us On WNED17

TVBuffalo native Kathleen has just informed me that Goldie Gardner has finally retired. You may not know that name, but you know the face and you know the voice. We Torontonians have been bombarded by Goldie's pleas to give to PBS during the many pledge drives on Buffalo's WNED 17 for almost three decades.

I was very young the first time she annoyed me, I'm guessing it was around the same time the video below was recorded. Enjoy retirement, Goldie. The cheque is in the mail.

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Johnny Griffin, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumJohnny Griffin was 80. He was the jazz tenor saxophonist who played alongside such luminaries as Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey and Thelonius Monk.

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Word From India During The Terror of Death

Amnesty0.17% of visits to this site come from India. Believe it or not, that puts India in 10th place. Over the past month, these visits have come from 24 cities in India, and a city called Cochin leads the pack. I happen to know those visits are by Roshan, a big fan of Canadian music and hockey who has been a regular visitor for the past four years or so. Roshan blogs at Awake & Dreaming.

There is news out of India this weekend that a series of synchronized explosions have killed at least 45 people. An obscure Islamic group has claimed responsibility, warning of "the terror of Death" in an e-mail sent to several television stations minutes before the blasts. These attacks seem to be in response to 2002 riots in the western state which left 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead.

With cities around the country put on alert I asked the one Indian reader I knew of to write something I could post on my blog. Here's what Roshan just emailed me.

Hi Mike

The last couple of days have been tense for Indians, especially those of us in the Southern part of India & the western state of Gujarat. First on Friday afternoon, I was at the office working, when I heard that there was an explosion in the city of Bangalore, Karnataka. Some turned on the tv that sits in our reception area, others tuned to their radios and some like me clicked online to find out if there was something about it. I was the first to find a webpage that reported on the incident, some guy named Sachin Uppal had seen the blast from a distance. He switched on his computer, logged into his blogger account and blogged about it immediately, snatching bits of news from his friends & neighbours. Turns out it was more than one - 6 blasts occured in various parts of the city. The areas of Nayandahalli, Madivala, Adugodi, Mysore road, Mallya Hospital & Langford Road were the ones that were hit. A 6th & 7th explosion would follow.

My company has 3 big offices in Bangalore and I have a few friends who work in that city. We immedietaley tried to get in touch with them to see if theu were alright. the phone lines were all blocked and the smses weren't getting delivered. I was able to contact my friend Vinitha online - she was at home and on gtalk, having taken a leave from work. Another friend was in Cochin, having taken leave to come and visit her family.

Saturday, while Banglore began their slow process of recoveing from the shock, the Gujarat serial Bomb blasts have rocked industrious Ahmedabad city of Gujarat in India. Till now 6 bomb blasts have been reported. The effected areas are Maninagar Chowk , Raipur , Bapunagar , Isanpur , Narol , Naroda , Juhapura. The 6 blasts later became 16, with 10 dead an over a 100 injured. An islamic terrorist organization calling themselves the 'Indian Mujahidden' have claimed sole responsibiliy for the bomb blasts. All major cities were now told be be on alert as they could be next. And today in Surat (Gujarat) two cars with batteries & wires in the back seat were found abandoned.

This afternoon, an internet call was made to the number of a TV9 reporter, claiming to be from Pakistan and identifying him to be part of the Indian Mujahideen, said that Kerala was the next target and that it would happen at 7 in the evening. This information was soon replayed to all channels with the major cities of Cochin & Trivandrum on high alert. All cinema theatres have cancelled their evening shows and most stores & shopping malls have shut down. Police have surrounded most of the public areas and are combing through any areas that look like they could be harbouring detonating devices. Police dogs & bomb squads are everywhere. The police commissioner has asked for calm and for all citizens to be on the look out for anything suspecious.

As I type this, its a few minutes past 8 pm and so far nothing has happened in Cochin. That doesn't mean to say that it won't. This just brings me to believe that Muslim fundamentalists are out to destroy the rest of the world and that religion and god will be the end of us. Hope to see a new day. Peace.

Hindus and Muslims have been going at each other in India since independence from Britain in 1947. Here's hoping this doesn't spark more deadly religious riots and that peace does in fact prevail. Roshan, please keep us up to date and stay safe.

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FamilyFor a girl turning four later this week, Michelle knows exactly what she wants. For example, when it came time to bake her birthday cake, she was very clear with her request. She wanted a vanilla cake with vanilla icing. There was to be no chocolate on or in her birthday cake.

I'm now questioning the paternity here. No chocolate? Pure vanilla? How can she be my daughter?

The girl got what she wanted and I'm still shaking my head. It's just not right...


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MyTTC a Sweet Community Effort

TTCMyTTC.ca wants to make one thing perfectly clear. They are not the TTC, nor are they affiliated, endorsed, or otherwise associated with them. They are a community effort to make using the TTC a better experience for everyone, and they've succeeded.

I love their "Plan a Trip" feature. Tell it where you are, where you have to go and when you're leaving, and instantly you're rewarded with awesome detail. I've been trying to break it but it's pretty smart.

If you ride the TTC, you've got to bookmark MyTTC.ca.

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Ode To Joy

humourThis one is for a little princess having her fourth birthday party today.

It's called "Ode To Joy".

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Guest Playlist Ettiquette

itunesYesterday night I had a great time at a top secret party at an undisclosed location with a fun group of people you may or may not know that I can't mention. It was to celebrate a well deserved happenstance and both Taryn and I had a blast. Even the music was pretty decent, and that's what this entry is about. It's about the music.

I knew the host of this party was putting together a playlist of tunes to play throughout, but just in case his playlist bombed out, I spent some time yesterday afternoon putting together a party playlist of my own. It's a plug-and-play world where one iPod can be swapped out for another in seconds. The switcheroo would would be seamless and my song selection would spill out into the clear night sky.

I took into account the age range of attendees, removed the "scary" music, which means stripping out the NWA, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Public Enemy, etc., and killed the tunes with too many prominent swears. If there were professional playlist creators, I'd be a good one. It's always come naturally to me.

Armed with my "4theMasses" playlist on my iPod Touch, I didn't want to offend the host with an early switch and I wanted to ensure the incumbent playlist was given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. There were some older, boring tunes, but for the most part it was pretty decent. I heard Radiohead, I heard Lowest of the Low and I heard Neil Young. I was impressed and let it play out all night long.

In Carrie Bradshaw Sex in the City fashion, I must ask the readers. What is the guest playlist etiquette in 2008? Do the guests have the right to engage in mutiny and change the tunes? The driver of the car should control the car radio, is it the same with owner of the house and the party playlist?

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Randy Pausch, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumRandy Pausch was 47. He was the Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book.

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Tarantino's Mind: A Short Film

LinkTarantino's Mind - A film buff tells a friend that he's finally broken "the code" - the mystery behind the character & story threads that bleed from one Quentin Tarantino movie or screenplay into the next. His friend is less than impressed. Starring Seu Jorge (The Life Aquatic) and Selton Mello (Tarja Preta). A short film by Brazilian directing duo 300ml.

Fellow Tarantino fans will love this.

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Summer Movies

calendarI've been hearing buzz about this little art house film called "The Dark Knight". The reviews have been off the hook, as the kids would say, assuming the kids are still saying that. It's so hard to keep up. I still think gnarly is a cool word.

Ajax Mike wrote me a note after seeing "The Dark Knight". "Take the time. Make the effort. I seriously cannot articulate how good of a movie that was." Forget Ebert, that's one hell of an endorsement. It's so good, you can't even express how good it is. I'm sold!

So yes, I will see the new Batman movie in theatres just as soon as the stars align and I have an opportunity. On the other end of the spectrum, things aren't looking very good for another film I've been anticipating. "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" is getting weak reviews, so I'll likely be catching that one on TMN in about a years time.

It's a shame. I was really looking forward to it. Forget I Want To Believe, how about a little I Want This Movie To Be Good.

Me and the Batmobile

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One Day as a Lion - Wild International

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Wild International" by One Day as a Lion.

If you haven't yet heard, One Day as a Lion is Zach de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine and Jon Theodore from The Mars Volta. It's a great sound, right up my alley.

This tune makes me wish new Rage Against The Machine was on its way. Last I checked, they were touring but not recording. Let's hope that changes.

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The Balcony Is Closed

thumbsdownRoger Ebert has a great entry on his blog today regarding his departure from the "Ebert and Roeper" program. He was a part of the show for 33 years and while it was he and Gene Siskel, it was the only movie review show I'd bother watching. "Siskel and Ebert" were my go to guys for movie reviews until The Day I Stopped Trusting Siskel and Ebert back in 1997.

Siskel and Ebert gave "Grosse Pointe Blank" two thumbs down and then gave "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" two thumbs up. I couldn't believe it then and I still don't believe it, but I saw it with my own two eyes and know this to be fact. I was shocked by the fact they didn't like "Grosse Pointe Blank" but I was flabbergasted by the fact they actually liked "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion".

Eleven years have since passed, Gene Siskel has passed away and Roger Ebert has battled his own serious health issues, yet I'm still saddened to learn the show is going in a new direction. Love him or hate him, Ebert has a way with words and always appears to me to be an honest and insightful reviewer of films.

The silver lining here is that Ebert writes he will "continue the traditional format in a new venue". Otherwise, for now, the balcony is closed.

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Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Skates

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every week. 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.

» Neil Young - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
» Hayden - Skates
During the long drive home from camping last week, I had my iPod on shuffle. At one point, Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" came on, immediately followed by Hayden's "Skates". The combination struck me as ideal.

Both songs are from great Canadian folk-rockers who aren't afraid of the harmonica and both songs are about heartbreak. "Skates", in particular, never fails to get me with that "I will skate as far as it takes, to bring her back home" line. If you've never heard "Skates" before, you're in for a treat.

It's 2-for-1 Thursday. Get 'em while they're hot.

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Covers I Didn't Know Were Covers at the Time

MusicHave you ever been surprised to learn a song was a cover? Off the top of my head I can think of several songs I assumed were originals the first time I heard them. With many of these songs, it was years before I learnt they were recorded by other artists first.

Here are ten examples with a little explanation tagged on the end.

Don't Be Cruel - Cheap Trick
I thought I'd lead off with a rather embarrassing one. In 1988 I was still listening to top 40 radio on 680 CFTR. This Cheap Trick single was a hit and I had never heard Elvis Presley's version. I just assumed it was a Cheap Trick song. The fact is, I didn't hear any Elvis at home and my Elvis exposure at the time was pretty much limited to "Hound Dog".

If You Don't Know Me By Now - Simply Red
One year later, in 1989, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" was a hit for Simply Red and I just assumed it was a Simply Red song. It wasn't until fairly recently that I learnt it was originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes back in 1972.

Once Bitten Twice Shy - Great White
That same year, in 1989, I was enjoying this guilty pleasure by Great White. It wasn't until about six years later when I found Ian Hunter's Greatest Hits in my future wife's collection that I realized it was a cover.

I Saw Him Standing There - Tiffany
Early in 1988 I was actually skiing, something I haven't done in over 15 years, and I heard this Tiffany single over the loud speaker. I had no idea a little band from the UK had recorded "I Saw Her Standing There" back in 1963.

Red Red Wine - UB40
I loved this song back in 1983 when I was a wee lad of 9. Who didn't enjoy UB40's "Red Red Wine"? It wasn't for another six years that I discovered "Red Red Wine" belonged to Neil Diamond.

Respect - Aretha Franklin
I suspect a lot of people think the Queen of Soul first recorded this song. It's a classic and I know I was in my 20s before I heard Otis Redding's version. Otis deserves a little respect.

Hey Joe - Jimi Hendrix
Of all the songs on this list, I think I was most disappointed to learn that "Hey Joe" was a cover. I loved the version from Are You Experienced? and spun that CD like crazy. I just assumed it was a Hendrix song, but it was actually first a hit for The Leaves. Awesome song, but still not Jimi's best cover. That would be "All Along The Watchtower".

Blinded by the Light - Manfred Mann's Earth Band
This is the song that inspired this entry, because I just found out earlier today that "Blinded By The Light" is a Bruce Springsteen song. I swear, it's true. Listen to this.

Love Hurts - Nazareth
Honestly, how many of you know that "Love Hurts" was a cover by Nazareth? It was a hit for The Everly Brothers in July 1960 and I first picked up that little slice of trivia in the early 90s, many years after first hearing the Nazareth version.

Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers
I'm closing with this song because I really should have known better. At the time, I had graduated from CFTR to Q107 and "Higher Ground" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was getting plenty of airplay. That prompted me to pick up Mother's Milk, an album I still listen to regularly. I remember my buddy telling me it was a Stevie Wonder song and me saying "That 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' blind guy? No way." I was only 15 but I should have known better.

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Little Brother is 30

birthdayHoly crap! My little brother is 30!

Here we are in simpler times. He's the fashionable dude in the middle. Man, the 80s were cool.

Many Moons Ago

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Gamma Ray - Beck

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Gamma Ray" by Beck.

This is the first single from Beck's new album Modern Guilt, produced by Beck and Danger Mouse. I've been a big Beck fan since Mellow Gold and at least three or four cuts from that album still make it on my road trip playlist. Believe it or not, Beck is now 38, but he still looks 21.

And no, this isn't an official video, but it should be.

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Rainfall Record Imminent

RainIt looks like it's going to rain again today. What a surprise.

According to Environment Canada, 2008 has been one of the wettest summers ever in the Greater Toronto Area and it's only July. The agency said about 240 millimetres of rain has fallen since the beginning of last month.

Another 30 millimetres would break the decades-old record of 270 millimetres of rain for the the June July period. The old record was 271.5 millimetres set in 1980.

At the height of last summer, only about 88 millimetres had been recorded by Environment Canada.

We're coming off the snowiest winter of my lifetime. That's a lot of precipitation. I gauge the raininess of a summer by the number of slo-pitch rain-outs. In total, I've had 27 ball games scheduled and only one cancelled due to rain. When my wife told me the other day it's been rainier than usual, I threw this stat at her as proof it's not that rainy.

Honey, I was wrong.

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Mike Kic Goes Bananas

DodgeballI've been playing ball with Mike Kic for years. He's one of our three Mikes, and all three can lose their cool on the field now and then. When competitive people engage in a heated battle, fuses shorten and tempers flare. The challenge is to ensure the line is never crossed so you can stay in the game.

Kic is also on my dodgeball team. Last night, about half way through our tense match-up with Where's Linda?, Kic crossed the line. Already eliminated, he picked up the ball and drilled it at the guy who just knocked him out. It was then that Where's Linda? left the court and we were disqualified. We're awaiting judgment from the TCSSC as to our fate, but Kic has already launched a preemptive strike. He's quit.

Hey Team,

Sorry about my stupid behaviour at tonight's game, that was ******* of me to do. I completely ruined the game for everyone and I apologize for my actions. I think it's best that I leave the competitive game of dodgeball so that this doesn't happen in future games for you guys.

Good luck the rest of the season, I know you guys will have more fun without my antics.

I hear you giggling at the "competitive game of dodgeball" line, but when you're out on that court, it's war. The beast within you is unleashed and you enter full combat mode. We trained Mike Kic to be a killing machine and then we chastised him for ignoring the boundaries.

Speaking of Mike Kic, he recently appeared in a Future Shop ad. Here he is going bananas about NBA07 on the PSP.

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Estelle Getty, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumEstelle Getty was 84. She was the Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actress best known for playing Sophia Petrillo on the popular 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls.

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Sundin Sundin Sundin Sundin Sundin Sundin Sundin

LeafsIt's July 22 and it's Mats Sundin, Mats Sundin, Mats Sundin, Mats Sundin, Mats Sundin, Mats Sundin, Mats Sundin.

A Swedish newspaper reported he was set to sign with Vancouver, then his agent denied the claim. Another Swedish newspaper conducted a poll asking fans where they think the free agent centre will wind up, and the results were strongly in the Maple Leafs' favour, at 37 per cent. Will he return? Will he retire? Will he sign elsewhere? It's all about Mats Sundin.

Personally, I think Mats Sundin makes us too good. I love the guy, I think he's a class act with a boatload of skill and loyal to a fault, but I've got my heart set on a 30 win season and #13 will make us a tad too competitive.

Still, I suspect The Mats will announce his return as some point this summer and he'll retire next summer as a Toronto Maple Leaf. In the meantime, the Toronto media will run with Mats Sundin story after Mats Sundin story giving the people what they want. All Mats, all the time.

That reminds me, I'm due to visit https://www.torontomike.com/countdown.html. 79 days, 7 hours, 13 minutes, and 10 seconds left until the Maple Leafs season opener!

Our Most Important Ornament

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Retiring An Old Jersey

baseballI once wrote that I like progress, I just don't like change. My slo-pitch team (the comp one, not the beer league one) has worn the same blue jerseys for years. We've done quite well in those old blue shirts, having won our division last season. Still, a few teammates wanted a change so we ditched the old blues for new red jerseys.

The moment we switched, we lost four in a row. We went from a 7-5 record in comp to a 7-9 record. Naturally, I blamed the new jerseys. The Jays haven't won since they ditched their old logo and I remember the Pittsburgh Penguins changing their jerseys after back-to-back cups and they haven't won since. You don't change your jersey following a championship season!

Last night, however, we actually won a game wearing red. It was a hard fought 14-13 victory with a thrilling conclusion and the monkey is off our back. The next step is a return to .500.


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Wintersleep - Oblivion

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Oblivion" by Wintersleep.

These cats are from Halifax and I've been singing this tune all week. It's a cool video, too.

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Juan Beniquez: Seviceable and Steady

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

I don't have a great deal to say about Juan Beniquez. He was a serviceable utility player who I remember best for being the guy set to platoon at DH with Rick Leach when Jimy Williams changed his mind and let George Bell play the outfield.

Does anyone remember the rookie who was supposed to start in left field when George Bell was moved to DH in '88? It was Sil Campusano who retired with a .202 batting average, 5 home runs and 23 RBIs. Hey Jimy, if you're going to piss off the AL MVP, make sure it's to promote someone who will manage more than a couple of dozen rbis in his career.

Juan Beniquez

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Rogers Hijacks Our Web Browser

thumbsdownAt home, our ISP is Rogers. Judging from the analytics I receive for this site, many of you are also Rogers customers. It appears Bell and Rogers dominate the residential internet access space in the Greater Toronto Area.

When you put a term like "cnn" in the address bar, your browser typically adds on the .com for you. When you put a term like "torontomike" in the address bar, your browser typically treats it like a search and renders the results for that keyword in your default search engine. This is how the browsers work because it makes for the best user experience.

Rogers has decided to hijack that practice. Rogers customers who now put a term like "torontomike" in the address bar are automatically redirected by default to a Rogers-branded Yahoo search for that keyword, complete with obtrusive graphical advertisements at the top and right hand side, not to mention the textual sponsored links beneath that Rogers logo. Below is a screen cap of what you see with Rogers.

If you're a Rogers customer, here's how you stop the hijacking. At the very bottom click "Learn More About This Page" and agree to opt out of this madness. The opt-out is cookie-based, so if you clear your cookies you'll need to do it again.

What pisses me off is that I pay Rogers for access to the Internet, not for messing with the content. Take my money and give me a pipeline to the net where I can use whatever browser I choose and visit whatever sites I choose. I'm not paying for jerkware.


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Foo Fighters - Let It Die

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Let It Die" by the Foo Fighters.

Here's the deal... We at SLS have this little rule that says each artist can only be represented once on each edition of SLS. "Long Road to Ruin" was pegged to appear on SLS19 so there was no room for "Let It Die". However, "Let It Die" is such a cool track by one of my favourite bands, so I'm going to see if it has the legs to make SLS20.

It's not exactly fresh, but I'm still digging it.

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The Faces of Dodgeball Champs

DodgeballOver the winter I played dodgeball. It was my first dodgeball season and it was a great deal of fun. We actually ended up winning the championship.

Believe it or not, this is what a champion co-ed dodgeball team looks like. Scary, eh? I've signed up for another season and will play my first game Tuesday.

dodgeball champs

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200,000 km - An Odometer Milestone Reached

carOn Wednesday morning I watched my car's odometer pass the 200,000 km mark. Other than a few thousand that belong to my wife, all 200,000 of these kilometres belong to me.

My odometer is digital. I far prefer the old rolling odometers when it comes to odometer milestones of this nature, but it was still pretty cool.

The next odometer milestone is 250,000 km. I think she's good for it.

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Highest Grossing Pixar Films

moviesI've just returned from a little party we threw for my brother's 30th birthday and, as usual, there were plenty of debates / arguments / intense discussions.

One topic was Pixar films. We debated which was the best, which was the worst and which was the highest grossing Pixar movie of them all. I just googled it and can confirm the order in terms of worldwide gross in American dollars.

  1. Finding Nemo - $864,625,978
  2. The Incredibles - $631,442,092
  3. Ratatouille - $621,416,583
  4. Monsters, Inc. - $525,366,597
  5. Toy Story 2 - $485,015,179
  6. Cars - $461,981,604
  7. A Bug's Life - $363,398,565
  8. Toy Story - $361,958,736
  9. WALL-E - $169,162,412 and counting


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Thank You For Not Throwing In The Towel

ArgosI got a chuckle out of the headline of Chris Zelkovich's column in today's Toronto Star. It reads "Argos Not Throwing In Towel".

On behalf of all Toronto Argonaut fans, I'd like to thank the club for not throwing in the towel after a 1-2 start. Considering six of the eight teams in the CFL make the playoffs and we're technically sitting in 2nd place in the Eastern division, I find myself even more relieved that we haven't thrown in the proverbial towel quite yet.

Hang in there, guys. I know it's tough starting 1-2, but teams with that exact record after three games have actually won championships. It's true, you can look it up.

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The Verve - Love Is Noise

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Love Is Noise" by The Verve.

My wife will be happy there's new music by The Verve. This tune is the first single off their new album, their first album of new material since Urban Hymns, an album she loved. I can't believe Urban Hymns came out eleven flippin' years ago. That simply cannot be, can it?

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Awesome Hikers

campersI'm raising a couple of awesome hikers. James is just 6 and Michelle is not yet 4 but when we hit the trails we go whole hog. They don't tire, they don't back down and they actually prefer to lead.

The official trails at Pinery aren't intense enough, so we tack on the sand dunes that snake their way along the lake. I find these adventures gruelling but the kids don't complain. In fact, they beg for more.

Looking back, I should have seen this coming. In 2005 I took James, who was then just three years old, camping at Killarney Provincial Park. Killarney has some fierce trails through rocky terrain and James took them on like a pro. Compared to Killarney's trails, the trails and sand dunes at Pinery are child's play.

Here are my pint-sized heroes striking a menacing pose. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


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The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

A Movie ReelThe King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters: 8 out of 10.

Let's see... there's the Leafs vs. Habs, Celtics vs. Lakers, Red Sox vs. Yankees... then there's Ali vs. Frasier, McEnroe vs. Conners, Kobe vs. Shaq, and Billy Mitchell vs. Steve Wiebe.

What? You never heard of that last one? Neither had I until last night, but I've caught up quick. If you, like me, came of age in the era of Pacman, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Asteroid, Zaxxon, Q-Bert, Frogger and the classic arcade games, you will love this documentary about the underdog Wiebe coming at the great ego of Billy Mitchell.

And check out this sweet soundtrack that complements this ultra cool flick. "Pictures Of You" performed by The Cure, "Obsession" performed by Animotion, "You're The Best" performed by Joe Esposito, "Eye Of The Tiger" performed by Survivor and "Everybody Knows" performed by Leonard Cohen.

Note: You crazy canucks with TMN have The King of Kong sitting there On Demand just waiting to be viewed. Trust me, you'll love it.

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I Had A Dream...

moonWhile I was unplugged, I had a dream... Steven Page, Scarborough native and Barenaked Ladies founder, was arrested for snorting cocaine in his girlfriend's New York state apartment. In true Canadian style, in my dream Steven Page was snorting the coke through a rolled up Canadian bill. No greenbacks for this card carrying member of the NDP.

Here's a little Toronto Mike BNL background for y'all. I owned two copies of The Yellow Tape purchased at Sam the Record Man downtown at Yonge and Dundas. I was an avid listener of CFNY when they starting playing the crap out of this cassette, giving us an abundance of "Be My Yoko Ono", "If I Had $1,000,000", "Brian Wilson", "Blame It On Me" and even that "McDonald's Girl" cover. This was pre-Gordon and the Barenaked Ladies were massive on 102.1. They were quirky, folksy fun and they were talented.

They were also super wholesome chaps with a typically Canadian humility. They didn't really blow up in the States until "One Week" and that's about when we lost them. They were no longer ours, they now belonged to the world. Although Stunt is in my collection, it marked the end of my BNL fandom. I prefer Rock Spectacle and everything that preceded it. I really loved my yellow tape.

Now back to this dream, Brian Wilson style. It's probably good for a rock star's cred to get caught with a line of coke now and then. It helps move the back catalogue with the extra press and it makes cheesy pop songs sound a little cooler. This was a good move by Steven.

The bad move was making that damn kids record. BNL ain't Raffi, and that whole stunt was wrong. This old school BNL fan is glad they were forced to drop out of the Disney game.

On preview, this dream is no nightmare for Steven Page and the Ladies. Call it impulsive, call it compulsive, call it insane, but if this ludicrous happening was reality, it'd all work out okay. Trust me...

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Tavistock Mike

OntarioPinery Provincial Park, where I've been camping the past few days, is right by Grand Bend, Ontario on Lake Huron. To get there, I take the 401 West to about Kitchener and then Highway 8 toward Stratford.

I like to stop in on one of the many small towns on our way to and from Pinery and pretend I'm a local. They all have a Main Street with a bank, a water tower, a church, a drug store, and usually, they have a Tim Hortons. Today we stopped in Tavistock, Ontario. As I just learnt from tavistock.on.ca:

Tavistock is a German/Scottish community founded in 1848 and famous for its cheese production and fresh meats. Tavistock was founded in 1848 by Capt. Henry Eckstein on the boundary between Oxford and Perth Counties. It served as a gathering place for agricultural workers and soon became equipped with taverns, flour mills, blacksmith shops, general stores and small tradesmen.

If you're ever in Tavistock, tell 'em Tavistock Mike sent ya.

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Batteries Recharged at Pinery Provincial Park

campingI've just returned from The Pinery Provincial Park where I've been recharging my batteries for the past three days. It was my third visit to Pinery, and my second in row. Last year around this time I was raving about Pinery's sandy beaches.

We had a very full first day. We set up the tent, ate lunch, went swimming, went for a hike, went swimming again, played with arts and crafts, ate dinner, went on a big hike and hit the hay.

It rained while we slept, which I actually prefer when camping. I find the rain hammering the tent drowns out all that rural silence. Then, we woke up, had breakfast, went for a hike, went for a swim, had lunch, went for a bigger hike, went to story time at the visitor centre to learn about frogs, went for a swim, had dinner, played, relaxed and got ready for bed.

It was hot, the water was warm, the kids were great, the entire mini-vacay was perfect.

I'll have more to share later, in the meantime, here's my Flickr photoset from our camping trip to Pinery.

P7167773 P7177794

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CampingToronto Mike has unplugged for a few days. This is a good time to visit the archives and catch up on what you've missed these past 5.5 years.

If something breaks between now and Saturday, like a big trade involving a Toronto-based franchise, a significant death or World War III, feel free to use the comments of this entry to share your thoughts and discuss the significance of this big trade/death/war.


The Tent

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Comment Pot Pourri

Comments I did this once before and I think I'm going to do it again. Here are recent comments left on this site you may have missed. All of these comments were left within the past week.

I am a huge fan of Roger Rick & Marilyn since I moved to GTA 12 years ago. I think the morning show is very funny and they are very real and personable. I will definitely miss Rick Hodge and wish him all the best. I think it's amazing that they've been a winning combination for 21 or 22 years. I have tried to win Breakfast in Barbados but no luck.

The news about Rick comes just as I am trying to recover from the departure of Marilyn from Cityline. I think that she is excellent at radio and TV.

I was wondering what happened to Lauren on the morning show and I haven't heard Sarah Miller and what happened to the Sound Lounge - Corey Kimm and then Chris Biggs?

So many questions. So little time.

~ Janet, Rick Hodge Escapes Roger, Rick and Marilyn

The City of Toronto will sometimes provide a free Water Trailer to events if requested (a trailer with 10 taps providing constant free cold tap water). htotogo@toronto.ca The City has 2 of these but could build more if demand is there for this free service.

~ Mark Cooper, Questioning the One Bottle Policy

Hey Mike, you have now made my life complete!!! I remember when I would only listen to this tape and the tape from `93. You definitely should send me every song from `92 and `93 *if you have them* thnx! You rock my blue jays sox!

~ Jess, The Ballad of Tom Henke

For the circumstances, Miller is doing pretty well. There's no way to cut taxes if you need to fund transit and low income housing on top of policing and infrastructure. You could cut the perks, but it wouldn't be close to substantial in savings. Those perks were supposed to cut the risk of bribery and corruption.

It's the same old story time and time again from people who don't have a clue about what it takes to finance and run an urban municipality.

~ A.R., That's My Bush!

Alan Cross and the people who are making decisions at 102.1 the edge are greedy. They are heisting our youth before their eyes and the youth who listen dont even kow it. Since cross's arrival, or lets say within the last 4 years, they play more that twice as many commercials, and they're about as witty as 5 year olds with all the vulgarity of jailbirds....the djs can't even be funny with vulgarity!...fucking losers..the whole fucking station is re-todded!. They look for any way possible to rip off its customers. At edgefest yesterday there was a bout 1 portopottie for 50 people, they were hidden and hard to find as well. The beer section was so small, and you couldnt get in without lining up for 2 hours...a great way to avoid lawsuits!...You couldnt bring in your own umbrella, yet when it rained there was no shelter, you couldnt leave to your car for shelter and re-enter, because there was no re-entry, of course $5 for a small ice cream, the main band was late with no excuse or reason why.....i could go on and on here....Alan Cross, ReTodd, Huble, Booky....You're all fucking greedy, unwitty, and fucking pirates...you are ruining the spirit of this city to fill your own pockets, go fuck your selves, im going to keep traashing your station to everyone I know through this great thing called the internet....assholes!

~ Anonymous, Alan Cross Out As Program Director at Edge 102

Screw Brett. He retired and now he needs to deal with it. You can't go back and forth like this. I hate it when athletes retire and then they really don't retire. So many people with great records come back to tarnish their legacy. Retire with class like Wayne or Ripken. Brett is handling this like a child. Then again most athletes are children.

~ Andrew, Release The Brett

We have the same exact box, which was passed down to me from my cousin, Michael, when my brother and I were young. I now have a daughter, Harriet. We played that music box from the day she was born and it is one of the few things that comfort her, no-fail. We changed the lyrics to accommodate:

My name is Harriet
I've got a chariot
I've got a chariot
Shiny and new
I'm gonna use it
to crush some skulls
That'swhat I'm gonna do

She loves it.

~ Lara, My Name is Michael, I Got a Nickel

Nice post. I chipped in a little for the cause. Make us proud, Mike.

~ Felix, 2008 Terry Fox Run - Donate Now!

Mike: Its not working. Not sure if its my computer or your blog. I knew I should have bought a Mac.

~ Argie, How To Confuse An Idiot

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USS - 2 and 15/16ths

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "2 and 15/16ths" by USS.

I love this song. It's the second single from USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) and I think it's fantastic. It was great live, too.

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My Sensor Bar Dies

NintendoWe've had a Nintendo Wii since Christmas, and it's still a very popular entertainment device in our household. My son is allowed 30 minutes on the Wii a day, but he can bank hours he doesn't use. The 30 minute cap was implemented because the boy is addicted to Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.

Personally, I still enjoy Wii Sports. In particular, I like the baseball. I just don't have the patience for Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.

This weekend, we had our first issue with the Wii. The sensor bar that we place on top of our television stopped working. It cost me $20 to replace it and I had to buy a wireless model. We're now back in action.

What I would like for the Wii is a quality hockey game, ideally something from EA. Now that would be cool.

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My Concert Going Shirt

hangerI'm a pretty ritualistic guy. When I catch The Tragically Hip in concert, I always wear my #5 Bill Barilko jersey. When I catch any other band in concert, I wear my Yield t-shirt purchased at Pearl Jam's 1998 show at Molson Park in Barrie.

That 1998 Pearl Jam show in Barrie remains my favourite concert of all-time. It was a beautiful, clear night and Eddie and the boys were on point. I picked up a medium blue shirt promoting their Yield album and I wore that very same shirt on Saturday, ten years later.

I'm wearing this thing into the ground.

My Concert Going Shirt

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Ryan Hollweg Joins Worst Maple Leaf Team Ever

Maple LeafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs acquired forward Ryan Hollweg from the New York Rangers for a 2009 fifth-round draft pick. The 25-year-old has five goals and seven assists in 200 career NHL games, all with the Rangers. New York will get Pittsburgh’s pick in next year’s draft, which we acquired in the deal that sent Hal Gill to the Penguins at the deadline last season.

Welcome, Ryan Hollweg, to the worst Maple Leafs team ever. Don't worry, we're okay with a 2008/2009 season of total stinkage. In fact, we're going to have fun with it and give you all funny nicknames.

For you I'm leaning toward Weggy.

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Release The Brett

nflThe Green Bay Packers should release Brett Favre. You don't bench Brett Favre for Aaron Rodgers.

When Favre announced his retirement, I wanted one more year. He's started 275 consecutive games and he deserves to start another 16+. Favre don't backup nobody.


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Flatliners Blue Jays Tee Shirt is Tres Awesome

bluejaysI visited the merchandise tent at Edgefest 2008 and one tee shirt in particular caught my eye. The Flatliners, a punk rock band from Richmond Hill and Brampton that I featured here, sell a shirt modelled after the original Blue Jays logo so near and dear to our heart.

It's awesome. It's the retro Jays logo with the words "The Flatliners" replacing the team name. I don't know if Rogers would have an issue with this, but I certainly hope not. I love it!

Best Shirt Ever

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Edgefest 2008 Recap

edgefest 2008Yesterday I attended my first Edgefest since 2003. I explain my five year absence in this entry. I'm happy to report it was as much fun as I remember it. It was a 12 hour blast.

Before I delve into the details, here's a photoset of pictures I took. Yes, I snapped some sweet pics of the new Batmobile in addition to every band I saw. I even took a little video of Linkin Park rocking out with "A Place for My Head" Now, on with the recap...


Getting there was pretty slick. At Downsview station an Express bus was waiting for us and it dropped us off right in front of the gate. There was virtually no lineup at 12:45. I brought in a 1.5 litre bottle of water, three bagel sandwiches, some orange juice, a rain poncho, my digital camera and Blackberry. Security gave me no hassles whatsoever.

The first band I wanted to see was USS, but we had a little time before they hit the stage. That meant checking out the new Batmobile and free samples of some chocolate milkshake a small army of attractive young nurses were promoting. I doubt they were certified nurses, but I didn't bother asking to see their credentials.

USS - Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

I had heard two USS tracks on the radio and I loved them both. You really can't miss "Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole" on the radio, it's been on super high rotation for a while now, and for good reason. It's a great track.

For a 1:30 band, USS were great. It was a fun set that showed a great deal of promise. I'm a sucker for rock bands who utilize a turntable. This goes back to my impressionable years in the late 80s when I was digging the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy and learning that a dj could be a band. Terminator X spoke with his hands, and USS kept the tradition alive while maintaining the necessary hooks and melody. These guys have a bright future.

Attack in Black

I try to like these guys, but it's not happening. Something is missing... my ears hear Simple Plan... it's as if they're missing a certain rawness, or dare I say, edge? Their big radio hit, "Young Leaves", was left on the SLS cutting room floor. They're just not my cup of team.


After Attack in Black, it was lunch time, so we crashed to chow down by the small stage. Creature, a band I had never heard of, featured two female vocalists and a funky Blondie-like sound from the late 70s and early 80s. It was funky fun with plenty of cowbell.

Ashes Divide

Ashes Divide sound like Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and those bands from the 80s. Like Attack in Black, they didn't grab me. They weren't my cup of tea, either.

The Bravery

The Bravery delivered a fantastic set as the sky opened up and I threw on my rain poncho. For most of this set it rained hard and that just seemed to add to the ambiance. I'd say these guys are going to be big, but they've already got the buzz, and they deserve it. I still think "Believe" sounds too much like "Plateau", but that's okay.

Sam Roberts

After The Bravery I joined the lines for the port-o-potty and quickly realized there weren't enough port-o-pottys supplied to meet the demand. I waited in line for over half an hour and missed Sam's first song. He delivered a typical Sam Roberts set which I happen to like, but he does like the lengthy jam songs. That's fine when you're headlining and have 2+ hours, but Sammy was on the clock.

Stone Temple Pilots

Without STP on the bill, I wouldn't have bought a ticket. Core was (and is) one of my favourite albums, and I spun the crap out of Purple, so seeing Scott for a third time sounded awfully appealing. My sked said STP was to hit the stage at 6:55. By 7:30, there was still no sign of them. There was also no 102.1 personality on the stage to introduce the band or explain the delay or reassure us they were coming up soon. Thank goodness I had my Blackberry to visit Scott Weiland's Wikipedia page to ensure he wasn't locked up or deceased.

Once they took the stage, I thought they started off a little shakier than usual, but as the set progressed Scott found his voice. They played just about every single they'd ever released and gave us a full show despite hitting the stage almost an hour late. For "Plush", Scott walked right by us and performed next to the light stand. They closed with "Dead and Bloated". It was a great show.

Linkin Park

I have every Linkin Park album in my collection and I nominate just about every single they release for SLS consideration, but I never really considered myself a big Linkin Park fan. I've always felt a little guilty about enjoying their rock/rap hybrid, but damn they're good live. They started with a soft touch, about three stripped down songs before they started to kick out the jams, but then they never let up. Like STP, it was hit after hit after hit. You have to see these guys live to appreciate how many hits they have in their catalogue.


After Linkin Park, my feet were aching, but we had a pretty lengthy walk ahead of us. We decided it would be better to haul our asses to Downsview station rather then wait for one of the Express buses. I can't tell you how good it felt to finally sit down at Downsview station.

It was a full day of great live music. Sure, about 90% of the crowd was under the age of 25, but there were plenty of dudes my age and older enjoying the day. Age truly is a matter of mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

STP Linkin Park The Bravery Early On

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Bobby Murcer, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBobby Murcer was 62. He was a five-time All-Star outfielder who spent nearly four decades with the New York Yankees as a player, executive and announcer.

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Plush or Interstate Love Song: You Decide

musicWithout a doubt, two of the more popular Stone Temple Pilot songs are "Plush" and "Interstate Love Song". They're also two very different styles of song.

Which is your preference, "Plush" or "Interstate Love Song?" You've got all day to respond, I'll be hearing both tunes live tonight.


Interstate Love Song

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Bomb It

A Movie ReelBomb It: 7 out of 10.

I got to watch the Toronto premiere of Bomb It at the Bloor Cinema tonight, thanks to the cool folks at GelaSkins.

It was a great crown in a great old theatre and that just added to the atmosphere. Who owns public space? What is art? How deep can superficiality go?

This doc takes us from the origins of graffiti art in Philadelphia to New York, several cities in Europe, South Africa, Brazil and Tokyo, Japan. Yes, it does glorify graffiti, and that's not necessarily a good thing, but it makes you think about the questions above. Hell, Bomb It had me picking up some spray paint on the trip home. If you see the tag T.M., that's me.

The director Jon Reiss was there and we peppered him with question after the show. Somebody asked him how he feels about making money off of street art. He laughed and told us he'd love to make money off of street art but the project is currently $300,000 in the hole. There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either.

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Sam Roberts on Humble and Fred

microphoneI'm looking forward to seeing Sam Roberts perform live for the third time. He's the third-to-last performer on the main stage at Edgefest tomorrow.

I dig Sam Roberts, I mean, what's not to like? Here's an interview Sam Roberts did with Humble and Fred a couple of summers ago.

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Best Edge Tunes

The Number FiveMy all-time favourite songs with "edge" in the title

  1. Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic - Public Enemy
  2. Man On The Edge - Iron Maiden
  3. Livin' On The Edge - Aerosmith
  4. Razor's Edge - AC/DC
  5. Pictures From The Edge - Tom Cochrane & Red Rider

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That's My Bush!

USASeven summers ago, in the pre-9/11 era when it was still okay to broadcast a show that made fun of the President of the United States, I caught a comedy on television called "That's My Bush!". I was actually at a little cottage we rented and I remember settling down after a long day and watching this Trey Parker and Matt Stone creation.

The show didn't last very long, but the spirit of "That's My Bush!" is now in its eighth season and it continues to make me laugh. The worst President ever has added a gem to a repertoire that includes "Want to buy some wood?" and "Mandela is dead".

Dubya thinks polluting the planet is hilarious. The following took place earlier today at the G8 Summit in Toyako, Japan.

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

That's my Bush!

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Questioning the One Bottle Policy

justiceEarlier today I wrote about Edgefest taking place this Saturday at Downsview Park. I wondered aloud about the water policy. I've been at outdoor concerts where they've made me remove the cap of my bottled water upon entrance and I've been at other shows where the water was disallowed altogether.

From the official Downsview Park web site, here is the allowable water rule for this Saturday. "One (1) sealed plastic bottle of water." We've got the spelled out "one" and the numerical 1 so there's no confusion. They're letting us bring a single bottle of water in with us.

The first band I'm interested in seeing hits the stage at 12:30pm. I suspect Linkin Park will wrap up close to midnight. That means we're exposed in this large field on a hot July day for almost 12 hours. One bottle of water for a 12 hour show doesn't cut the mustard.

Is this merely a ploy to sell overpriced bottles of water on the inside? Is there really a safety concern or is that a convenient excuse? Is this ethical?

I'd like to close with an elaboration on that final point. On a hot July day with the sun beaming down, thousands of young men and women (and older dudes like me) will collect in the fields of Downsview Park to hear live music. We've each paid close to a hundred dollars for the pleasure, and staying hydrated will be the key health concern. Capping the carry-in water allotment at a single bottle is irresponsible, dangerous and a prime example of corporate gouging.

Don't nickel and dime us when it comes to drinking water.


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Come On Canada!

iPodThe people at GelaSkins sent me a couple of removable art prints for my iPod, but there was a miscommunication and I got a skin for an iPod Nano (3rd Gen.) and an iPod Classic. I don't own either.

This means I have two GelaSkins to give away. These things protect your iPod with style, not bulk, and they look really neat. iPod Nano (3rd Gen.) and iPod Classic owners take note, I've got a skin with your name on it.

I own an iPod Touch, so they're sending me a skin that'll fit my device. I've ordered this one. How could I say no to this iconic image of Canadiana?


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Two Days To Edgefest

EdgefestI'll be spending Saturday enjoying Edgefest 2008. Back in the day that meant sitting in traffic on the 400 and hauling my ass up to Barrie, but now I can take the TTC to Downsview Park. That's pretty sweet.

I'll likely spend 12 hours outdoors, so I must remember the sunscreen and plenty of water. Does anyone know the Downsview Park rules for bringing water? I know glass and cans aren't allowed, but can you bring in bottled water with the caps on?

For those of you who have never been to Downsview Park, here's the map. I've got the lineup times posted in the comments for this entry. It should be fun, let's hope it doesn't rain.


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Stars - Bitches In Tokyo

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Bitches In Tokyo" by Stars.

It's funny, but SLS19 was put to bed without a single female voice. Here's one that looks good for SLS20. It's a great tune and a fun little vid.

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What Happens When You Text Message A Land Line

phoneMy home phone just rang and it was an automated operator at the other end. The recording told me I had a text message and asked me if I wanted to open it. I have never received a text message on a land line before, so I naturally chose to open the message. The message was then read to me by some text-to-speech software, it was something about Manny Ramirez, and that was it.

It turns out my brother accidentally text messaged my home phone. Now I know what happens when you do that. He works for Bell Mobility IT services and this was news to him.

Now don't go trying to text message from a land line. It hurts your finger dialling all those characters.

Discuss "What Happens When You Text Message A Land Line" (13 comments so far)

TTC Tickets Are Dying

TTCI once wrote that 'tickets or tokens' is the Toronto equivalent of the 'boxers or briefs' question. Outside of the Metropass crowd there are two types of TTC riders: those who buy paper tickets and those who buy tokens.

I still prefer tickets to tokens. I can put paper tickets in my wallet - I slip them in front of my credit card. I never lose tickets. Tokens, on the other hand, get mixed with my loose change. I don't use any entrances unattended by a TTC operator, so I've been happily buying tickets for as long as I can remember.

That's all coming to an end this summer. TTC tickets are dying. After September 28, they'll no longer be accepted. The paper ticket is dead, murdered by counterfeiters.

I hate tokens.


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Movies Based On a Not-So-True Story

moviesI just read a great CRACKED.com article entitled 7 Movies Based on a True Story (That Are Complete Bullshit). It's a good read, but be warned. It may shatter your entire belief system.

A number of the films in their group of seven are amongst my favourites of all-time. Rudy, The Pursuit of Happyness, Lean on Me, Good Morning, Vietnam and The Hurricane are all flicks I dig, but they aren't as based on a true story as you were led to believe.

Here's their 7:

  • The Pursuit of Happyness
  • 21
  • Lean On Me
  • Rudy
  • Victory (AKA Escape to Victory)
  • Good Morning, Vietnam
  • The Hurricane

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Test Driving a Ford Focus with Sync Technology

carSomeone from the Social Media Group contacted me last week and asked if Toronto Mike would test drive a Ford Focus and write about the experience. I've got some road trips coming up, and I thought it might be a good idea to drive a new Ford Focus instead of my 200,000km clunker. To sweeten the pot, they started telling me about Sync.

I'm not really a gear head, so I had to Google Sync. It's a voice-activated mobile phone and digital music system for your car. I have a phone! I have a shiny new iPod! I'll drive a Ford Focus for a week!

It's official. I'll be test driving a new Ford Focus with Sync technology for ten days in August. The Ford people are going to give me a personalized Sync demo in Oakville so I can surround myself in hands-free digital tunes when I hit the road.

I'll update you next month after my Sync demo.

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Nirvana - Marigold

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.

Nirvana - Marigold
This is the only Nirvana song written and sung by Dave Grohl. It never appeared on an album, just the "Heart Shaped Box" single. It's sweet and was a sign of good things to come from the Foo Fighters.

He was the freakin' drummer!?!?!

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The Album Cover Makes A Comeback

cdThose old enough to remember vinyl records know how important the album cover used to be. Album covers could become iconic, an important part of the listening experience. 12.375 inches by 12.375 inches presented a lot of real estate to pack a punch.

Cassettes temporarily dulled the album cover because the size was so much smaller but I remember album covers mattering again when I started building up my CD collection in the late 80s and early 90s. You knew your music by these covers. Cover art was important.

About five years ago I decided to box up my CDs and go completely digital with my music collection. This transition, which I wrote about extensively in these entries, killed the album cover for me. Songs become intangible bits and bytes, audio that was transferred from one medium to another. The album cover art didn't come into play... at least not the way I organized my music.

Now, thanks to my new iPod Touch, the album cover has made a complete comeback in my life. A couple of years ago I sensed this day was coming and I started to embed album cover art into the .mp3's metadata. Now, when I sync my music to my iPod Touch, I can browse by album covers with a flick of my finger. This is fantastic... I browse and browse, coming face to face with album covers I thought I may never see again. Welcome back, Spencer Elden.


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Email Marketing

emailI do a lot of email marketing. I use a tool called Constant Contact to manage my lists, send my HTML marketing messages and ensure I stay CAN-SPAM Act compliant.

Constant Contact hosted a free email marketing seminar this morning at the Sheraton Toronto on Queen Street near Bay. My fear going to these things is that they become a long product demo intended to sell their email distribution solution but this one did a good job of keeping to best practices.

It confirmed a great deal I always knew, but there were a few good tips, even for a guy like me who has already sent 33 HTML blasts in 2008 alone.

  • Don't forget to build your prospect list in the offline world. Put out a guest book at trade shows where visitors to your booth can write their email address to be added to your email list.
  • Remind recipients to add the email address you send from to their contacts so your blasts find their inbox and not their bulk or spam folders.
  • Take that open rate with a big ol' grain of salt. They measure opens by placing a 1x1 .gif file in the email and when that file is called from the server it tallies a "read". Today, many don't download the images or read their email on text-only mobile devices.
  • The sender and subject line determines whether your email is read or deleted. Get that right or your call to action in the email won't matter.
  • Create quality content and send when your message is most likely to be read.

Nothing ground breaking there, just good tips to keep in mind. I recently analyzed the cost per name with a direct mail campaign vs. an email campaign and there was no comparison. Direct mail is dead. Long live email marketing with CAN-SPAM Act compliancy.

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2008 Terry Fox Run - Donate Now!

terryfoxWhen I got home tonight I had a package waiting for me from Martha McClew, Ontario Provincial Director of The Terry Fox Foundation. In addition to a nice letter thanking me for my contribution last year, there was a DVD with a great Terry Fox documentary and other inspiring stories.

My son loves the Terry Fox story. As he just told me, we can finish Terry's Marathon of Hope for him. As I type this, James is watching the Terry Fox documentary and he's mesmerized. He's always loved Terry Fox.

This is precisely why I once called Terry Fox the greatest Canadian. I can't think of a more inspirational story. I just have to think about Terry's pledge and everything falls into perspective.

I haven't been able to run since November, but I'll make sure I complete The 2008 Terry Fox Run on Sunday, September 14, 2008. Click below and be the first to sponsor my run.

The Starting Line

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American Gangster

A Movie ReelAmerican Gangster: 8 out of 10.

In 2006 I was invited to a world premiere of a Ridley Scott directed film starring Russell Crowe. The film I saw that night couldn't hold a candle to this gem of a flick chronicling the rise and fall of Frank Lucas.

I saw this movie on DVD so I got to see the 176 minute unrated version. I had to break it up over two night, because that's just too long, but I was never bored and I was left wanting more. I didn't know much about Lucas going in and that made it all the sweeter.

Hey Ridley, avoid the romantic comedies.

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Early Canadian Rock: The 60s and 70s, Volume 3

canada flag I recently shared the track listing for "Early Canadian Rock: The 60s and 70s, Volume 1" and "Early Canadian Rock: The 60s and 70s, Volume 2". My bud has put together a third volume.

Here are the 24 tracks from volume three.

  1. (Make Me Do) Anything You Want - A Foot In Cold Water
  2. Give and Take - Mandala
  3. I Can Hear You Calling - Bush
  4. I Just Want To Make Music - Ken Tobias
  5. If There Ever Was A Time - Lighthouse
  6. Linda Put The Coffee On - Ray Materick
  7. Lonesome Mary - Chilliwack
  8. Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
  9. One More Mountain To Climb - Dr. Music
  10. One Tin Soldier - The Original Caste
  11. Painted Ladies - Ian Thomas
  12. Passing Fancy - Bearfoot
  13. Something's Funny, Something's Wrong - Little Caesar & the Consuls
  14. The First Cut Is The Deepest - Keith Hampshire
  15. The Rain Came Down - Young
  16. The Tender Years - The Beau-Marks
  17. Think I Care - The Paupers
  18. Three Rows Over - Bobby Curtola
  19. Twilight Woman - The 49th Parallel
  20. Walk That Walk - David Clayton Thomas
  21. We All Need Love - Troiano
  22. You Can't Deny It - Edward Bear
  23. You Girl - Major Hoople's Boarding House
  24. Apricot Brandy - Rhinoceros

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June 2008 Google Organic Keywords

Search Strings I'm going to do this a little differently for June. In Google Analytics I see the vast majority of traffic to this site comes via organic Google search results. I can then break that down and learn that 7,977 keywords account for that traffic. Here are the top ten keywords that brought people to this site in June 2008.

  1. george carlin quotes
  2. mike boon
  3. wedding playlist
  4. luke schenn
  5. big shiny tunes 2
  6. edge 102
  7. cool wedding songs
  8. big shiny tunes 3
  9. wedding playlists
  10. wedding song playlist

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Beverly Hills Chihuahua Looks Frighteningly Bad

Thumbs DownWhen you go to the theatre to see a family film like WALL-E you get inundated with previews for upcoming cartoon movies aimed at kids. One of the coming attractions we saw yesterday was for a movie called Beverly Hills Chihuahua and as I watched the trailer I couldn't believe how bad it looked.

It was borderline offensive with the worst rap I've heard since Gerardo's "Rico Suave". Sometimes you see stuff that looks so bad it could be good, but this wasn't that. This film looks so bad it shouldn't be seen by members of human race. Hell, I wouldn't let a Chihuahua watch it.

It's from Walt Disney and it might just be the worst trailer I've ever seen. Walt must be spinning in his cryonic chamber full of liquid nitrogen.

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Come On, Let's Go (All The Way Blue Jays)

jaysI fear this plea will fall on deaf ears. Even with the return of Cito our Toronto Blue Jays are 13 games back of the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays (that sounds funny) and we're 9 games back of the Red Sox for the wildcard. It sure doesn't seem as if the Jays will be going all the way in 2008.

"Come On, Let's Go (All The Way Blue Jays)" is credited to The CJCL All-Stars. Let me know if you can identify the vocalist. It is, of course, a reworking of Ritchie Valens' "Come On, Let's Go".

Other awesome Blue Jays audio:

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The Music of Your Life

memoryYouTube user Retrontario 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.

When I was young, I'd tune in 1430 on the AM dial to hear Blue Jays baseball with Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. I've written a ton about this pastime and you can read those entries here. Sometimes I'd fall asleep listening to games on the west coast and when I awoke to my transistor radio I'd hear "The Music of Your Life" on CJCL.

The Music of Your Life wasn't the music of my life but the music of the 50+ crowd who wanted to hear bland music from the 40s and 50s. 1430 CJCL would eventually go all sports and turn into The Fan, but in the 80s it was big band tunage for the old folks. Nothing is scarier than awakening at 3am to the music of Jimmy Van Heusen.

This ad promotes the CJCL morning show with Tom Fulton, Scott Ferguson and a few other names I don't recognize.

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Deconstructing SLS19

SLSNow that SLS19 is in the bag, it's time to deconstruct the 20 tunes that made the final cut. How much of SLS19 is CanCon? How many artists are making their first appearance on SLS? Find out the answers to these questions and more below.

  • Canadian Content - 7 (USS, City and Colour, Tokyo Police Club, The Flatliners, The Weakerthans, Sam Roberts and Bedouin Soundclash)
  • Making Their SLS Debut - 8 (The Black Keys, USS, MGMT, The Flatliners, The Bravery, My Morning Jacket, Foxboro Hot Tubs and Bedouin Soundclash)
  • Artists That Also Appeared On SLS18 - 5 (Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Serj Tankian and The Weakerthans)
  • Providing a Female Voice - 0
  • Longest Current SLS Streak - 3 (Queens of the Stone Age)
  • Longest SLS Drought Ended - 8 (The Offspring)

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A Movie ReelWALL-E: 9 out of 10.

WALL-E is now my favourite film from Pixar, and that's sayin' something. I once referred to Pixar as "every parent's saving grace". Every summer you're guaranteed at least one movie that's good for the kids and sweet viewing for you.

WALL-E is a dash of Short Circuit mixed with a sprinkle of E.T. and a tinge of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The first third contains no dialogue and just a couple of robots and a cockroach yet it's riveting, fascinating and terribly sad all at once. Really, you've got to see the best Pixar film since The Incredibles.

I should add that this is the first film I've seen at the new AMC Yonge & Dundas 24. I received a bunch of free passes, popcorns and drinks for writing this entry so we all saw WALL-E for free. It looked great on the big screen and it sounded brilliant. And no, I don't get more passes for giving the theatre a positive review.

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I Have My Marching Orders

familyBy the time I wrapped up my fifth ball game in 30 hours, I could hardly walk. In addition to the sprained left calf muscle this pale Irish guy got too much sun.

TGIS. I've got my marching orders and the kids are demanding WALL-E, or Johnny 5 as I prefer to call him.

I'm heading downtown...

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baseballI played a game in my rec league last night, and we won our second in a row. Later tonight, I've got a couple of games in my comp league with Raging Storm. Right now I'm off to a company sponsored softball tournament which I fully intend to win.

There's no better way to spend a sunny summer day. Gotta jet...

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An iPod Touch: Yay or Nay?

musicOkay readers, I need you.

For my recent birthday I received some cash and a gift certificate for Future Shop. I almost never buy myself stuff except for once a year when I get one big thing for my birthday. In 2004 that was a digital camera, which I still love, and last year I got an iPod Shuffle for when I'm running or biking. This year, I want an iPod Touch.

This is your chance to talk me out of it... or not. Tell me why I shouldn't buy an iPod Touch. Go!


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Larry Harmon, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumLarry Harmon was 83. He turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century.

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Flags of Our Fathers

A Movie ReelFlags of Our Fathers: 6 out of 10.

I thought Flags of Our Fathers would be better. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it tells the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima. That sounds like it's going to be pretty awesome.

It's not bad at all, it's just not nearly as good as I hoped it would be. The recreation of the battle scenes reminded me of the superior Saving Private Ryan and the survivor guilt, which is really the meat of the story, unfolded at a rather slow pace.

It's good, but it should have been better. I hear Letters from Iwo Jima is just that.

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Martian Child

A Movie ReelMartian Child: 5 out of 10.

I try to choose the movies I watch carefully. I read reviews and get feedback from people I trust before giving a film two hours of my life. The exception to this rule is kids movies I watch with my offspring, and, the odd time, I watch a movie because it stars an actor I like.

That last reason explains how I came to watch Martian Child. It stars John Cusack, an actor I usually like. In this film, he wasn't enough to keep me interested. It's all been done before, and in far more interesting fashion. Sure the kid is sweet and sure Cusack's belief in the boy pays dividends but Martian Child is so predictable by the time you get to the climax you feel as if you've been there a thousand times before.

Watch High Fidelity again instead.

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Grabovski Grabbed, Given 'The Grab' as New Nickname

leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs acquired young forward Mikhail Grabovski from the Montreal Canadiens earlier today in exchange for a draft pick and a prospect. That draft pick is a 2nd rounder in 2010 and that prospect is Greg Pateryn, a United States Hockey League defenceman we drafted in the 5th round last week.

I'm no Grabovski expert, but from what I've read this doesn't sound like a bad deal. He's only 24 years old and he apparently has some skill. I just hope he's not another Alexander Suglobov. The Grab will definitely get playing time with the Leafs this season because there's a solid lack of centers once Mats moves on.

At some point maybe we'll add a player people have actually heard of.

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5 Years Since I Played Ball With Nick Carter

RewindHas it really been five years since I played ball with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys? Yes it has, and I know this because I wrote this entry exactly five years ago today.

You'll have to click that link to read the details, but I did indeed play a game of softball with Nick. With all due respect to Humble, Nick Carter is probably the most famous person I've ever chilled with.

I almost got to hang with Ed Vedder after a show a couple of years ago, but some Irishman got in the way.

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How To Confuse An Idiot

exclamationpointYou have to see this to believe it.


Discuss "How To Confuse An Idiot" (9 comments so far)

Mats Is A Different Cat

leafsFreddie P and I have agreed to disagree about many things, and one of those things is Mats Sundin. Fred likes to diminish Mats' value in his blog. As recently as this morning he went off on the absurd offer Vancouver reportedly made for Sundin's services. This city, it seems, is comprised of two kinds of people: those who like Mats Sundin and those who don't.

I like Mats. He's been our best player since he arrived in 1994 and he's one of the classiest athletes ever to play in this city. No, he hasn't led us to a Stanley Cup final, but neither did Darryl, Wendel or Dougie. Sundin gave his all to this franchise and I say we're lucky to have had him as long as we did.

In addition to not being Canadian, Mats had something else working against him. He's a different kind of cat... a deeper thinker who is very private and very proud. The news today is that he needs more time to think about whether he will play again. Even though teams are throwing big bucks his way, Mats isn't yet sure what he wants and he's going to take some time to figure it out. The man could have signed yesterday for $20M but instead he's motivated by other factors. You have to respect that.

He's an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Whatever he decides, he's got a big fan right here.

Mats Sundin

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The Diodes - Tired of Waking Up Tired

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

The Diodes - Tired of Waking up Tired
This song made my definitive list of the 100 greatest songs recorded by Canadians. The Diodes were pioneers of the Toronto punk scene. From Wikipedia:

The Diodes were a Canadian punk/new wave band formed in 1976. They released four albums: Diodes (1977), Released (1979), Action-Reaction (1980) and Survivors (1982). One of the first Toronto bands playing that style of music. The Diodes helped foster the scene in the city. They opened the first Canadian punk nightclub in 1977, called Crash 'n' Burn, where many of the city's punk bands at that time played. The first band to play the club was The Nerves (Peter Case, Jack Lee, Paul Collins), on a double bill with The Diodes.

I love this tune. Enjoy.

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Niklas Hagman Scores Four Year Deal From Leafs

leafsI'm still getting over the big four year deal Cliff Fletcher gave The Finger and now I've logged on to learn we've handed out another big four year deal to yet another unproven player.

No, this isn't as severe an overpayment as The Finger deal, but it's still more coin than Niklas Hagman is worth. It's $3 million a year for four years which means Hagman is due to have his contract bought out at about this time next season.

The 28 year old has played in 481 career NHL games for Dallas and Florida, collecting 80 goals and 85 assists for 165 points. He did score 27 goals last year, a career high, and you know how players coming off career years play when they sign in Toronto.

Again, The Finger deal was far more puzzling than this one, but you've still got to believe the Leafs have overpaid here. To make matters worse, we ought to be avoiding the four year deals like the plague right now, particularly when it comes to the mediocre and unproven.

I hate myself for loving this team.


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Uncle Cliffy Gives Us The Finger

LeafsI understood signing Cujo to a nice and tidy one year deal for $700,000 but I don't get why Cliff Fletcher just signed defenceman Jeff Finger to a four-year deal worth $3.5 million a season.

Don't know much about The Finger? You're not alone, this is from TSN.ca:

Finger, 28, played 72 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season, tallying 19 points and a plus-12 rating. In 94 career NHL games, he has 24 points and a plus-22.

I understand the Toronto Maple Leafs need bodies, but do we really have to give four year deals to 28 year olds with 94 career games under their belts? Admittedly, I can't remember ever seeing him play, so if The Finger is Sylvain Lefebvre reincarnate I shall stand corrected.

In a sense, Uncle Cliffy just gave us The Finger and told Bryan McCabe to f*ck off.


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Cujo Returns to Leafs

leafsThe other day I asked why the hell not Cujo? Somebody has to back up Vesa Toskala next season, and I figured it may as well be Cujo who would sign for one year and wouldn't break the bank.

Clearly MLSE is still reading this blog because this afternoon goaltender Curtis Joseph agreed to a one-year deal with his former club.

Welcome back, Cujo.


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SLS19 Unveiled

slsIt is with great privilege and honour that I unveil to you the final song list for SLS19. For an SLS primer, go here and to see what appeared on SLS18, go here.

We listened to hours and hours of new rock before deciding upon these 20 tracks. Without further ado, I give you SLS19.

  1. The Black Keys - Strange Times
  2. The Raconteurs - Salute Your Solution
  3. Radiohead - Jigsaw Falling Into Place
  4. Queens of the Stone Age - Make It Wit Chu
  5. USS - Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole
  6. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
  7. City and Colour - Sleeping Sickness
  8. Tokyo Police Club - Tessellate
  9. MGMT - Time To Pretend
  10. The Flatliners - This Respirator
  11. The Weakerthans - Tournament of Hearts
  12. Weezer - Pork and Beans
  13. The Bravery - Believe
  14. Sam Roberts - Them Kids
  15. Foo Fighters - Long Way To Ruin
  16. Serj Tankian - Sky Is Over
  17. My Morning Jacket - I'm Amazed
  18. Foxboro Hot Tubs - Mother Mary
  19. Bedouin Soundclash - St. Andrews
  20. The Offspring - Hammerhead

I just updated The Complete SLS Database. Look for SLS20 in late December, 2008.

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Canada Turns 141

canadaHappy Birthday, Canada, you're 141 years young today.

Over the past 5.5 years I've written quite a bit about you. All of those posts can be found at https://www.torontomike.com/o_canada/. This is a great day to dive in and revisit those red and white entries.

O Canada

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