August 2008 Archives

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Good Riddance to Yankee Stadium

JaysThe Toronto Blue Jays play their final game at Yankee Stadium today at 1pm. We've got the best pitcher in baseball on the mound as we try to close this place out on a winning note.

Yankee Stadium has not been kind to us, so I'm glad to see it go. We're 99-124 overall. It would be nice to see Doc Halladay secure us win #100.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the history of baseball and I'm well aware of the many significant baseball happenings to take place at the House That Ruth Built, but I'm a Blue Jays fan first and sharing a division with these guys for over 30 years has left a bitter taste in my mouth. 99-124 is all you need to know...

Go Doc, Go!

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Michelle's Field of Dolls

familyAs the baby of the house prepares for her first day of kindergarten next week, it's time to check in and see what she's up to these days. She loves to sing, she's more articulate than I am and she's created this strange fantasy world for her many dolls.

The other night I came home from ball and she was already asleep. Her bedroom was a field of dolls, and each one was nestled lovingly in pieces of clothing Michelle had taken from her chest of drawers.

As I saw these dolls all over her floor and bed, I noted how Michelle herself had snuggled up into one corner of her bed so as not to disturb her people. I couldn't believe how intricate the sleeping arrangements were, so I grabbed my camera and took a few shots.

These pictures, from Michelle's Field of Dolls, were taken in the dark, but with the flash they came out pretty good. As far as kindergarten is concerned, this girl is ready.

P8298012 P8298008 P8298006 P8298005 P8298004 P8298003 P8298010 P8298007 P8298009 P8298015 P8298013

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Killer Kowalski, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumWalter "Killer" Kowalski was 81. He was a pro-wrestling pioneer famous for various moves, including a stomach vice grip called the "Killer Clutch."

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Celine Dion's Special Flight Service

EmailI just received this email from someone who didn't leave a reply email address or sign their name. They just dropped it in my contact form.

Your music blog takes way to long to load.

News Tip: Celine Dion got special service this week from Bombardier (I suspect) as they let her avoid the landing fees at Pearson by landing and parking her private jet at Downsview.

When I started this blog almost six years ago, I thought it would be a good idea if I had one page for all entries tagged "music", another page for all entries tagged "toronto maple leafs" and so on. This is my 8023rd entry. Six years ago, I didn't think I'd come close to a number that high.

As a result, the more popular categories have hundreds and hundreds of entries that makes these category pages a mile high. And yes, that can take some time to fully load. I realize it's time for me to introduce pagination to the category pages and I hope to implement this fix some time in September.

As for The Celine, I heard she was in town. I just read a favourable review of her show in the Globe. Bless her little heart. As long as she avoids the AC/DC covers, she's okay in my books. And if Bombardier wants to offer her a special flight from Montreal that avoids Pearson, all the power to her.

But wait, wasn't she all about the Air Canada? Remember this ad...

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Lynn Johnston Concludes Her Story

FBOFWThe final daily For Better or for Worse strip was published today. If you read the strip in the Toronto Star, you'll see this strip in tomorrow's paper. This concludes Lynn Johnston's 29 year story about the Pattersons in fictitious Milborough, Ontario.

Forever I assumed the story would end with the words "for better or for worse", but I assumed they'd be said by Elizabeth at her wedding. I'm guessing everyone thought that so Lynn threw a little curve ball by having Iris say them about her and Jim. I was also pretty sure Jim would pass away, but as we learn in the final Sunday strip, he lives another two years.

I just realized I have a whole bunch of For Better or for Worse entries so it's time they get their own category. On the day this 29-year ritual ends for me, someone who started reading them daily only a few years after they debuted, I introduce you to my Foob entries.

For Better of For Worse

Update: I went downstairs to check out my copy of today's Star. That let me see what happened to the characters. It seems, everything works out for the Pattersons. Elly and John retire, Grandpa Jim dies at 89, Elizabeth teaches and has a son, Michael signs a film contract, Deanna begins a sewing school and April works with the Calgary Stampede.

This final insight into For Better or for Worse reminds me a great deal of the final ten minutes of the Six Feet Under series finale. I loved that show and thought the final ten minutes were stunning. April is the Claire of FBOFW and the only difference is Six Feet Under showed us the death of each member of the Fisher family where Lynn wisely stuck to the life. To see the final ten minutes of Six Feet Under and that amazing scene, shoot over to this entry.

It's over.


Update #2: It seems we Toronto Star readers didn't get the whole story! They edited the final destiny strip for space so my scan above doesn't show the first row. Below is the actual unedited final new strip of For Better or for Worse.


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Time Lapse Video of Yonge and Dundas Scramble

VideoSpacing Toronto just tipped me off about this very cool time-lapse video of our new scramble intersection of Yonge and Dundas. It's by Sam Javanrouh.

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Careless Whispers at My Grade Five Dance

MusicWe had our first boy-girl dance in grade five. It was the girls' idea. They convinced our teacher who agreed so long as when we danced we held our arms straight out so there would be minimal bodily contact.

The organizers wanted some slow songs during which we'd couple up and dance. That meant throwing on Wham's "Careless Whisper". Starting in grade five, "Careless Whisper" became the primary school dance staple.

To this day, whenever I hear that opening saxophone riff or George Michael bellowing out the lyrics to "Careless Whisper", I'm instantly brought back to those primary school dances.

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Neil Young Songs That Take My Breath Away

The Number FiveFive Neil Young songs that still take this dude's breath away

  1. Down By The River
  2. Cowgirl In The Sand
  3. Heart Of Gold
  4. Old Man
  5. Cinnamon Girl

On preview, this is a stupid Friday Five. How do I pare this list down to five? Where's "Helpless" or "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" or "Southern Man" or "Harvest Moon"?

Note to self: Delete this entry.

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Disturbed - Inside the Fire

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Inside the Fire" by Disturbed.

In the early years of SLS, Disturbed was a staple. "Down With The Sickness", "Prayer", "Remember" and "Liberate" all made the cut. Then, things quieted down on the Disturbed front.

This song has that same catchy intensity as those earlier hits.

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Barack Obama's Convention Address

MegaphoneTo Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin, and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation: With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours — Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next first lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia, I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart, that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232 years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women, students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors, found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments, a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work, and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes, and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land: enough! This moment, this election is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms ofGeorge Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On Nov. 4, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that, we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives, on health care and education and the economy, Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers, the man who wrote his economic plan, was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is, you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well, it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president, when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000, like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great, a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves, protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity, not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the startups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes — cut taxes for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stopgap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies retool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy; wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American — if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime, by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less because we cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility — that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander in chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell, but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America, they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This, too, is part of America's promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit that American promise that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead, people of every creed and color, from every walk of life, is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of Scripture, hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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Clickety Click, Barba Trick!

rewindIt happened again today. I pulled a neat little trick with PHP and exclaimed "Clickety click, Barba trick!"

I've written about Barbapapa before. I used to watch this cartoon on TVO in the late 70s and early 80s and it was one of my favourites. Barbapapa was a pear shaped blob who could change his shape. He had a wife and several Barbababies, each a different colour.

That expression, "Clickety click, Barba trick!", comes from the show. Here's an episode that instantly brought me back to 1979.

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Scramble at Yonge and Dundas

cntowerToronto gets its first scramble intersection today as Yonge and Dundas is now scrambled. That means vehicle traffic stops with red lights in all four directions, followed by a pedestrian free-for-all, where people cross the intersection in any direction they choose: left, right, diagonally.

It's worked elsewhere and I think it's a good idea for intersections like Yonge and Dundas. It's worth a shot. Drivers will have to be a little patient, but this has got to be safer for pedestrians than it is today.

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Don't Mess With Denyse in Qualicum Beach, BC

emailOver a year and a half ago I shared my frustration with Prima Television. You can click through to read the overwhelming response to that entry. I wasn't alone.

One week ago, Denyse from Qualicum Beach left this comment on that entry.

My mother who is 92 today - legally blind and on a fixed income bought a Prima in June/07 - this June - no video - just audio - Sears did NOT care - we are willing to pay to have it fixed but Victor at Prima promised to help over a month ago - guess what??? nothimg happened - I am writing to Sears - Best Buy and Future Shop - copy to Beter Business Bureau (Prima is NOT a member - I wonder why) and Global TV letting them know about this BS and this Blog.

That wasn't the last time I heard from Denyse. Earlier today, she sent an email to and CC'd me on it. Here's the email she sent. I've censored some identifying details.

I have left many messages for "VIC" to no avail

My Mother is 92 years old - on a fixed income and legally blind - macular degenaration

She saved for a long time to get a new TV (her only recreation is watching Tv and sitting outside)

Her Tv (purchased at Sears in Parksville BC for $1,499.99 on June 16/07) broke down on June 30/08 - we understood that there was no more guarantee - we are willing to pay to have it repaired - we dropped it off at Oceanside Electronics on July 2nd/08 - they cannot get service from you guys - here's what I am going to do:

Tomorrow - write the President of Sears Canada letting him know that he is selling junk when selling Prima and he should stop right now - sending a link to (my prima television nightmare)

Monday - write the President of Future Shop and Best Buy Canada advising of the lack of service from Prima and suggesting they should stop selling it right now - also sending a link to (my prima television nightmare)

Next Friday (Sept 5th) write consumer advocates for BCTV - Global news (Vancouver) CHEK TV and telling the story of my poor fragile Mom and your lack of service

Friday Sept 12/08 - paying for an ad in Vancouver and Victoria paper letting everyone know what a piece of Junk your products are


My Mom gets a new TV today or the right parts to get her fixed

I've had enough

Denyse **********
******** & Associates
1-888-***-**** (clients only)
***-***-**** (Fax)
***-***-**** (office)

I thought it was pretty cool that Denyse thought a CC to me on her email to Prima would make a difference. Then, shortly thereafter, I was CC'd on an email to Denyse from Frank Macri, VP of Operations at Prima. Here's that email.

Hi Denyse - your email was forwarded to me, I manage the Service Dept. I don't have any details on what is holding back the repair of your mothers' television but I will find out and will have a resolution for your mother today. Either I or someone from our office will be contacting you later today with an action plan.

That's where we're at right now. When I have an update from Denyse, I'll add it to the comments. I'm just happy to fill the void now that Silverman Helps has been cancelled.

Watch it, buddy!

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Listeria Hysteria

foodEvery day the list of recalled Maple Leaf products seems to grow. I don't know about you, but I see a couple of items I've ingested over the past couple of weeks. I'm still shocked at how many brand names fall under the Maple Leaf umbrella. Schneiders? Shopsys? Who knew?

I'm not worried. Listeria is listed as the cause of death for six people in Ontario, but we're likely talking about six elderly people. The one who's been identified was 89 years old. I'm told most healthy adults and children who ingest listeria germs will not get sick.

During this listeria hysteria people are being advised to avoid deli meats all together. When in doubt, throw it out. As I watch this episode unfold, I'm impressed with the way Maple Leaf has handled it. Their recall was swift and voluntary, they're saying all the right things and they're buying ad time to fully disclose everything. It's going to be a tough road for them, but they're improving their chances of brand repair with this aggressive approach.

For a complete list of recalled Maple Leaf products, click here.

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Desmond Dekker - Israelites

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.

Desmond Dekker - Isrealites
I must confess, I didn't discover Desmond Dekker's work until he passed away in 2006. His biggest hit was "Israelites" and it's a very cool tune. It's become an iPod favourite of mine.

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Kevin Duckworth, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumKevin Duckworth was 44. He was a two-time NBA All-Star who played on two Western Conference-winning teams with the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Consumers Distributing

rewindAs a kid, there was nothing better than a trip to Consumers Distributing. Consumers Distributing was a chain of stores where you would order via catalogue. The catalogue would arrive at our home and I would go through it, circling the items I wanted. Then, when my birthday came, we'd go to the nearest location and pick up the item.

If my memory serves me correctly, that location was on Dundas Street between Jane and Runnymede. You'd complete a little form indicating the items you wanted and you'd hand it in at the counter. Then, you'd wait a few minutes for your item to roll out on a conveyor belt like the ones you find at The Beer Store.

I remember getting a Citizen brand mini-stereo from Consumers Distributing in the mid-80s. It had a dual cassette deck, AM-FM radio and a record player on top. That's right, I used to buy vinyl records. I'm that old.

It's too bad Consumers Distributing bit the dust some years back. Does anyone else remember catalogue shopping with Consumers?

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Remember the Mats?

LeafsDo you remember Mats Sundin? He was a nice Swedish fellow who wore #13 for the Toronto Maple Leafs the past 13 seasons. He holds the franchise record for most goals and points and he's second in assists.

Here we are, about to hit Labour Day weekend, and Mats is still on the fence. Will he retire? Will he sign with the Leafs? Will he become a Ranger or Canuck or Flyer or Canadien? Do we still care?

As this drags on, I find myself hoping he'll call it a day and hang up his skates. I envision a neat Ikea coat rack where his skates would hang. I can see them there, in his quaint Swedish cabin by the Ikea kitchen cabinet stocked with Campbell Chunky Soup cans.

Remember the Mats.

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Another Championship Game of Dodgeball

DodgeballTonight, my dodgeball team plays for the championship of the world. Well, it's the TCSSC dodgeball championships, and that's sort of like the championship of the world.

We won the championship last season and tonight we go for the repeat. We'll be without our best female player because Jordy went down early in our slo-pitch game last night with a fractured wrist. She's in a cast for four weeks.

That slo-pitch series was super dramatic. I summarized it all in the comments of this entry. Our new rallying cry is "Win it for Jordy!"

We'll win it for Jordy tonight as well. It's time to grab life by the ball.


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Virgin Radio 999 FM

radioIf you're a virgin, you finally have a radio station that caters to your sense of celibacy. Oh wait, I think I'm reading this press release wrong. It seems Mix 99.9 is being re-branded today. It's "the launch of the first North American commercial FM radio station under license with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Radio International".

Astral Media has been busy this summer. They own Mix 99.9, now Virgin Radio 999, and EZ-Rock, which recently introduced a new morning show featuring Humble Howard, Kim Stockwood, Colleen Rusholme and Rick Hodge.

That's right, they finally unveiled Rick Hodge as the mystery fourth member of the EZ Morning Show. Rick Hodge was part of the Roger, Rick and Marilyn behemoth that's aired on CHUM FM for the past few decades. He's also going to be a part of the Bill Carroll Morning Show on Astral's CFRB 1010.

Last year I visited The Jim Richards show on CFRB and took a stroll down the hall to see where 99.9 and EZ Rock broadcast from, and they're all literally on the same floor of the same building. All three have introduced significant changes this summer. If you're keeping score at home, here are the highlights, or the lowlights, depending on your perspective.

  • Stu Jeffries is out as host of EZ Rock's morning show
  • Humble, Kim and Rick have joined Colleen to form the EZ Morning Show on EZ Rock
  • Rick Hodge has left 104.5 CHUM-FM for double duty on EZ Rock and CFRB 1010
  • Mix 99.9 is now Virgin Radio 999
  • Chris Biggs and Taylor Kaye now host "The Rush" on afternoons on Virgin Radio 999
  • Some guy named Ryan Seacrest will air evenings on Virgin Radio 999

At least Astral has some good content for the billboards they own.

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Double Knock-Out

BaseballOur first regular season in the Comp division of the RSPA has ended and now it's playoff time. Tonight we throw it down OBA-style with double knock-out rules.

That means we play two games and they add up the scores to determine the winner. If we're tied plus-minus after two complete games we must start a third game tie-breaker, starting with new lineup and new courtesy runners,but using the International Tie-Breaker Rule. That means the last batter in the batting order from game 2 will start as a baserunner on second base, and there will be one out. We then play one inning at a time until there is a winner.

Last season, when we were in the highest intermediate division, we had a great playoff run, won the division and earned the right to compete with the best teams in Comp. If we win tonight, we extend the season one more week, and that's incentive enough to kick some ass. I'll leave the final word to Mr. T.

Mr. T

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Mike Flanagan: He Owned Us

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

Mike Flanagan was a decent pitcher for the Jays from 1987-1990, but I almost feel guilty calling him a Blue Jay. He was a Baltimore Oriole through and through. He came over in a trade after 12 years as an Oriole and then he re-signed with them after his stint here in Toronto.

Here's a little Mike Flanagan trivia for ya. When we traded for him in '87 he owned more wins (17) and innings pitched (208) against us than any other pitcher.

Mike Flanagan

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My Review Of My Ten Days Driving A Ford Focus

CarTomorrow I'll be returning the Ford Focus I've been driving for the past ten days. Ford gave me the car for a no-strings-attached ten days and I drove it to the cottage I rented in Meaford and all around Highway 26 before heading back to the city. I wasn't told to write a positive review or a review at all, they just told me to have fun and try and bring it back in one piece.

I like smaller, economical cars, having driven a Mazda Protege for the past nine years, so this car was right up my alley. She was a smooth ride, so quiet and comfortable, and although there wasn't a whole lot of space, two adults, two kids and a full trunk didn't feel crammed. This car was a pleasure to drive.

The Sync technology hooked up my iPod Touch and my Blackberry via Bluetooth and that was just awesome. The voice recognition software had a few minor bugs I quickly learnt to dance around, but the controls on the steering wheel meant I didn't have to fret. I pretty much stick to shuffling playlists anyway.

The sound system itself was top notch making it sound as if Neil Young was playing in the back seat. The Sirius satellite radio allowed me to reconnect with Howard Stern and the other perks, like the tinted windows and sunroof, just added to the positive experience. It was a great ten days and it's going to be tough to switch back at Ford tomorrow.

Now that I think of it, Ford didn't ask to see my driver's license or credit card. They don't know where I work or live. Maybe I won't be returning this car tomorrow...


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Across The Universe

A Movie ReelAcross The Universe: 6 out of 10.

I was at a party recently where a woman was raving about "Across The Universe". We were chatting about music and the role it plays in our lives. "Across The Universe" moved her with music, Beatles music, to be precise.

The premise is kind of neat. A story is told via Beatles songs sung by actors in the film. In practise, however, it's surprisingly boring. The psychedelic feel seems contrived and something in the story is missing. It kept reminding me of those cheesy American Idol spots when the competitors sing a pop song to push Ford products. Just like this.

I thought maybe I was missing the immense joy because I'm a guy, but my wife thought it was pretty boring, too. I don't want to spoil the party, but it's all too much.

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Hallelujah! Saint Ralph Soundtrack To Be Released

musicI heard there was a secret chord, that David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don't really care for music, do you?

Sure you do. And many of you, like myself, love Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". In fact, I'm willing to bet a bunch of you are only here because of my hunt for Gord Downie's cover of "Hallelujah" that plays during the climatic scene of Saint Ralph, a charming as all hell Canadian flick from back in 2004.

I just got some very good news about the non-existent soundtrack for Saint Ralph. My source tells me there's a soundtrack deal in place and a proper release of the soundtrack, including Gord Downie's "Hallelujah", is imminent.

I'll share more details when I'm able, but this is precisely what we've been working on. The hunt was frustrating and I'm still sharing the MP3 ripped from the DVD daily but my persistence paid off when I received a rare copy of this unavailable soundtrack. You can revisit my entire Hallelujah journey at

By the way, my source for this good news gave me a tip on another Michael McGowan film debuting at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

The same film-maker who wrote and directed Saint Ralph, has written and directed a new film called "One Week" and while Gord doesn't sing on this soundtrack, he does have a cameo in the film, and is a mighty fine actor I must say! It's premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and if you liked Saint Ralph, you'll love this film too. It's a bit of a more mature version of an "up with life and humanity" film, but incredibly moving....and fellow Canadian Joshua Jackson turns in a stellar performance and firmly announces himself as a serious actor post "Dawson's Creek" days.

It's a really great thought provoking film and will no doubt be a big hit either as an independent film, or as a Juno type small film that finds a mainstream audience. Hopefully and deservingly the latter. Check it out if you can.


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I Was Cut From High Park Little League

baseballFreddie P shared a chain email that's been making the rounds and it opened an old wound. The email is for those of us born before the 1980s and it includes this line:

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

Those three sentences opened up memories I had successfully repressed. Here's my story, it will feel good to put this out there.

I have always loved baseball. It was my first sporting love, even before hockey. That 1983 Blue Jays team struck a chord with me and I was hooked.

I worked very hard at the sport. I listened to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth and learned when to take that extra base and when to throw where and the intricacies of the game. I worked on my fielding, my throwing, my batting and I followed the Jays with a fervent passion. I loved the Leafs, but the Jays were my team and I put myself in the game. I wanted to play ball.

I was a solid, smart player, but I wasn't very big. I'd say I did the most with what I had and probably a little more because I always gave my all. That bullshit adage about giving 110% was actually true in my case. I played every inning like it was the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series.

I played softball at Rennie Park in the Swansea League, but I wanted to play real baseball. I wanted to face the best around. I wanted to face fastballs and lay down suicide squeezes and steal off of catchers with a gun. I wanted to play High Park Little League.

I'll never forget the tryouts. I attended every one and gave my all. Others were pounding the ball and I was just trying to make good contact. Others were throwing home from the outfield with ease while I was just trying to keep my throws online. At the end of the tryouts, one of the coaches spoke to me and a group of kids and gave us the bad news. We weren't good enough for the High Park Little League majors.

That's right, I was cut from Little League. I was never going to play in the Little League World Series. I just wasn't good enough, and I returned that summer to softball at Rennie Park.

That was the first time I really wanted something and gave my all only to come up empty handed. They said you could do anything if you put your mind to it. Until then, I believed that. I was a decent player with passion, commitment and baseball smarts, but I had to learn to deal with one heaping pile of disappointment.

Imagine that.

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This Must Be Just Like Livin' in Paradise

SunI've spent the week in a charming little cottage we rented in Meaford, Ontario. It's right on the Georgian Bay which meant lots of swimming, trips in the paddle boat, hikes on the Georgian Trail, visits to Meaford, Thornbury and Owen Sound, a daily BBQ and a round of mini-golf at Memorial Park.

The best part was spending 24/7 with the kids. James is becoming a gentle giant of sorts and Michelle is so damn smart I can't believe she's only starting junior kindergarten next month. I know everyone thinks their kids are the best, but I sincerely believe these two angels are the greatest human beings on the face of this planet. I'm sure your kids are great, but they ain't this great.

Vacations, or vacays as the kids now say, are funny. By the time you slip into the comfy routine, it's over.


P8217985 P8207971 P8217997

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Adam van Koeverden Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its eighteenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Adam van Koeverden won silver in the in the K-1 500 kayak competition.

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Sampling Sirius

Howard SternOne unexpected perk in driving this new car for ten days is getting a chance to sample Sirius satellite radio. The first morning I popped over to Sirius to give it a listen, I shot straight for channel 100. That's the Howard Stern station.

At some point after Humble & Fred left 102.1 for Mojo, I found myself spending more and more time listening to Howard Stern on Buffalo's WBUF 92.9. The show was simulcast here in Toronto on Q107, but I always found Q107 censored more of the show and aired longer commercials than they did on WBUF.

Before I had ever heard a minute of Stern's radio show, I saw him on the big screen, catching "Private Parts" at the Uptown theatre. I loved the film, loved the radio show and seriously considered (no pun intended) coughing up the coin for satellite at the end of 2005.

For the first time in over two and a half years, I heard the show. It still sounds great and it still makes me laugh my ass off. The addition of George Takei and the uncensored production just makes things better. I don't know which I'll miss more, the awesome Sync technology or Sirius radio.

Oh yeah, there were other great stations too, but I found myself always returning to channel 100. Hey now!

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When Locked In Trunk...

CarI've been out of town all week, scooting around in the new Ford Focus they lent me. I'll have more on my adventure this weekend, but I wanted to chime in on something I just discovered in the trunk of this car.

If you're "accidentally" locked in the trunk of this car, there's a well marked emergency escape mechanism. For some reason the image associated with this handle made me chuckle.


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Karine Sergerie Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its seventeenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Karine Sergerie won silver in the in the 67 kilogram event taekwondo event.

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Thomas Hall Wins Bronze

bronzeCanada has earned its sixteenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Thomas Hall won bronze in the in the C-1 1000 canoe event.

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Gene Upshaw, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumGene Upshaw was 63. He was the executive director of the NFL Players Association and a Hall of Fame guard with the Oakland Raiders.

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Eric Lamaze Wins Gold

goldCanada has earned its fifteenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Eric Lamaze won gold in the equestrian individual show jumping competition.

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Emilie Heymans Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its fourteenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Emilie Heymans won silver in the women's 10-metre platform diving competition.

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LeRoi Moore, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumLeRoi Moore was 46. He was the saxophonist for the Dave Matthews Band.

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Priscilla Lopes-Schliep Wins Bronze

bronzeCanada has earned its thirteenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep won bronze in the women's 100-metre hurdles.

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Alexandre Despatie Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its twelfth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Alexandre Despatie won silver in the men's three-metre springboard diving competition.

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Jason Burnett Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its eleventh medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Jason Burnett won silver in the men's trampoline.

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Simon Whitfield Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its tenth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Simon Whitfield won silver in the men's triathlon.

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Equestrian Jumping Team Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its ninth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Ian Miller, Jill Henselwood and Eric Lamaze won silver in equestrian jumping.

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Karen Cockburn Wins Silver

silverCanada has earned its eighth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Karen Cockburn won silver in the women's trampoline.

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Hitting The Road

SunThe Ford Focus's tank is full and the iPod is too, so it's time to hit the road. I have a sweet destination just outside of Meaford, Ontario mapped out so updates over the next week will be sparse. It'll all depend on whether there's wifi nearby.

Like last time I unplugged, 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.

I'll be back.

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Men's Eight Rowing Team Wins Gold

GoldCanada has earned its seventh medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Ben Rutledge of Cranbrook, B.C., Kevin Light of Sidney, B.C., Malcolm Howard of Victoria, Andrew Byrnes of Toronto, Jake Wetzel of Saskatoon, Dominic Seiterle of Victoria, Adam Kreek of London, Ont., and Kyle Hamilton of Richmond, B.C. won gold in men's eight rowing.

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Men's Lightweight Four Win Bronze

BronzeCanada has earned its sixth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Iain Brambell, Jon Beare, Mike Lewis and Liam Parsons won bronze in men's lightweight four sculls rowing.

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Melanie Kok and Tracy Cameron Win Bronze

BronzeCanada has earned its fifth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Melanie Kok and Tracy Cameron won bronze in women's lightweight double sculls rowing.

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Ryan Cochrane Wins Bronze

silverCanada has earned its fourth medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Ryan Cochrane won bronze in 1500m freestyle swimming.

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Good Job, Jordy and Kic

weddingI spent yesterday evening at Berkeley Church on Queen Street East between Sherbourne and Parliament. I was there to witness two of my ball players exchange vows.

Raging Storm, the slo-pitch team I manage and play for, used to be called Hooray For Everything. I'm a founding member of this team that formed about eight or nine years ago, and one of the members of that inaugural squad was Jordy, a nice girl who was working at HMV at the time.

A season or two later, we added a young guy by the name of Mike Kic. Another season went by before I realized Jordy and Kic had coupled up. The two have been core members of the team ever since and even play on my dodgeball team.

I'm not a big fan of weddings. All the pomp and circumstance rubs me the wrong way. Last night, at the very cool Berkeley Church, I enjoyed a very cool wedding. The ceremony was short and very sweet, the speeches were heart felt and sincere and the vibe was comfy and joyous. It was my kind of wedding.

There are four female players on Raging Storm, and all four are going to get hitched in the next year. Kic and Jordy were first to bat and they hit a home run. Congrats, kids. Cito is proud of you.

Berkeley Church

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Cecil Fielder: A Great Name

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

I've written about our dominance at first base before, and Cecil Fielder got the short end of the stick here in Toronto as a result. Fred McGriff had the everyday job so Cecil didn't get much playing time. He was actually sold to a Japanese team after the '88 season and I figured that was the last we'd hear of Cecil.

I was wrong. Cecil Fielder would sign with the Tigers and would have a monster season with 51 dingers at a time when nobody was hitting 50.

My favourite Blue Jays memory of Cecil was his name. I remember listening to his first major league at bat and Tom Cheek said "here comes a batter with a perfect name for a ball player". I couldn't believe a Blue Jay had the name Fielder. It was perfect.

Cecil Fielder

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Tonya Verbeek Wins Bronze

silverCanada has earned its third medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Tonya Verbeek won bronze in the 55 kg women's wrestling event.

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Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen Win Silver

silverCanada has earned its second medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen won silver in the men's rowing pair.

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Carol Huynh Wins Gold

GoldCanada has earned its first medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Carol Huynh won gold in wrestling in the 48 kg category.

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The Heart of Marketing

TerryI just wrote about the Ford Focus I'm test driving for ten days. That meant meeting Zoe from the Social Media Group who contacted me in the first place and a few very nice people from Ford.

Obviously, Ford expects me to write about this test drive, but they never once told me I had to. In fact, there were surprisingly few caveats or requirements. They just want the car back at some point, ideally on the 25th.

After they gave me the keys and told me to have fun, they had one more thing to pass my way. During their travels on this blog they came across this entry about Terry Fox in which I mentioned my six year old son was inspired by Terry's effort. Ford and the Terry Fox Foundation work together so a call was made and I was given some fantastic Terry Fox tee shirts, books and a DVD for the kids.

It wasn't necessary but it struck a chord. James and Michelle are going to love their Terry Fox tees and I know James will enjoy the books and DVD. That one above and beyond gesture carries more weight than the ten day test drive. That's the heart of marketing, and Ford got it.

Since we're talking Terry, I'm running for Terry in September. Pledge my run online right here.

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Toronto Mike Syncs His Ride @ Ford

carI mentioned Ford was going to give me a Ford Focus with Sync technology to test drive. This morning I made the trip to Oakville to pick up my new wheels.

I got a great tutorial on this Sync technology. I've got my Blackberry and iPod synced up and it's amazing. I press a button on the steering wheel and say "Play Artist Neil Young" and it starts playing songs by that artist. I say "Phone Call Stephen Harper" and I have our PM on the line. It's totally hands free and totally cool.

I've got the car for ten days so I'm going on a road trip. If entries are sporadic next week, that's the reason why. I'll report back here on how it all went after next weekend.


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CNE Nostalgia

CNEThe CNE is open for business which means the summer is winding down and everybody is taking a trip down CNE memory lane. Nostalgia is the new black.

I worked at the CNE for three summers as a game booth attendant. That gave me a unique perspective. If you want to revisit my many Canadian National Exhibition memories with me, visit my CNE page where I've shared several stories from these years working the midway.

Here are some of the highlights:

You'll never look at a carnie the same way again.

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Five Things I Discovered By Listening to EZ Rock

The Number FiveAfter five days of waking up to EZ Rock, here are five things I've discovered

  1. Bryan Adams released a lot of crap since Summer Of '69
  2. Celine Dion can sure nail those high notes
  3. A lot of songs came from the American Idol franchise
  4. Kim Stockwood was/is a singer
  5. I need to be more sensitive

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5 Years Since the Blackout

boltThe neat thing about maintaining a blog is that I can go back and read my account of all significant happenings over the past six years. The first thing I did when I realized today was the fifth anniversary of the great blackout was go back and read my entry about the incident.

The lights were out in my house for 24 hours and 12 minutes. I remember it was a little stressful because my son was still sucking down bottles of milk but otherwise it was kind of fun. I went without the Internet and The Simpsons but a bunch of people came by with a cooler of drinks and we celebrated the lack of power with my radio, the BBQ and lots of laughs.

Share your blackout story below.

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For Better or for Worse Winding Down

fbofwLynn Johnston's comic strip, "For Better or for Worse", is winding down. She says the larger For Better or for Worse story will wrap up at the end of August, and the final new Sunday strip will reveal what the characters get up to in the years to come.

I've written quite a bit about this strip as it's the only one I read daily and I've been reading it for almost 25 years. I'll never forget the heroic death of Farley and the controversy surrounding Lawrence's homosexuality. Lynn wrote a touching, interesting story and I'll be sorry to see it end.

I'm wondering what that final Sunday strip will tell us about the characters we've seen age these past few decades. I'm sure John will retire and work on his trains, Elly will enjoy her grandchildren and see her father pass away, Michael will become a successful author, Liz will enjoy married life, become a school principal and have children of her own and April will study Veterinary Medicine at the University of Guelph.

We'll see how I did.

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Patio Lanterns

musicI decided to wake up to EZ Rock this week so I could check out Humble Howard's new morning show. Today my alarm went off while Kim Mitchell was singing "Patio Lanterns".

In 1986 I couldn't escape that song. It was everywhere. It was on high rotation on 680 CFTR, the video was played continuously and it was so damn catchy you couldn't help but sing it early and often.

It was sweet nostalgia waking up to this tune this morning. I was twelve years old again, without the acne and braces, but my voice was pretty much the same!

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Movable Type 4.2

MTThis blog has been powered by Movable Type 3.2 for years, but last night I decided it was time for an upgrade. Movable Type 4.2 was released Tuesday and it's faster, more secure and loaded with tons of new features, especially when you compare it to 3.2.

So far, so good. Let me know if you detect any hiccups.


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Don't Feed the Trolls, Shoot 'Em!

GunI don't know a whole lot about Welland, Ontario. I know it's home to the Welland Canal and it's in the Niagara region, but that's about it.

There's someone in Welland who hates Humble and Fred. He (or she, but I'd bet a million dollars it's a he) frequently leaves offensive comments in which he belittles the two. On more than one occasion, Welland Guy crossed the line. When Welland Guy crosses the line on Humble's blog or Fred's blog, I ban his IP address and he disappears for a while until he gets a new one.

Welland Guy is a troll. They're out there in the blogosphere and they just want to offend and stir the shit. When Welland Guy made an obscene comment about Humble's daughters, I decided that I'd block every IP address he comments from, no matter what. I've been doing that on Humble's blog and on Fred's blog for the past year or so, but I've never seen him comment on my blog.

Today, that changed. Welland Guy left two comment on this entry about my interview with Humble Howard. I didn't even have to check the IP address, I knew the writing style of Welland Guy right away. Sure enough, I was right.

I'll block every IP address in the city of Welland if I have to. Sometimes, it's not enough to simply not feed the trolls. Sometimes ya gotta shoot 'em.

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The Living End - Roll On

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 Living End - Roll On
I saw these guys open for Green Day and they were great. This is one of my favourite songs from this Aussie band.

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Humble Howard: An Exclusive Interview

MicrophoneNow that he's had two mornings under his belt as co-host of the new EZ Mornings with Humble, Kim and Colleen show on 97.3 EZ Rock, I pummelled Humble with a few questions.

As always, he was happy to comply and he even got me sniffing with his final answer. Enjoy this exclusive interview with Humble Howard Glassman. *sniff*

Q: How does it feel to be back on morning radio in Toronto?
A: Weird. Good, odd and a bit strange. I keep thinking that I've just come back from a really long vacation and that maybe I wasn't fired after all. Having said that I'm very happy to be doing what I really love to do even if I haven't gotten any better at it!

Q: Has there been any rumbles in the hall with Mad Dog and Billie? I know you guys are down the hall from one another...
A: Yes, Billie punched me and took my lunch money. Actually I did see them last week and they couldn't have been nicer.

Q: Are there any plans to bring The Humble Report to EZ Rock?
A: At this point, no...but it's early days now and as the show evolves it might return in another, gentler form. Much like myself.

Q: The EZ Rock website promotes a fourth member of the team. The teaser silhouette tells us it's a male. Care to spill the beans as to who it will be?
A: Well I didn't want to say anything but I'm happy to report that it will be Ed the Sock...except this time he'll be funny.

Q: When will you introduce the weekly segment with Toronto Mike?
A: Strange that was one of the first things I asked my boss,"Why has this station not already signed the great Toronto Mike, master blogger and SEO wizard?" Shame, I say. To be honest and quite sappy, one of the many good things that happened to me after I got fired was meeting TO Mike and the rest of the fine Boon clan and that is the dang truth. Go ahead Boon, have a sniffle. I hope that works for you and your many fine Toronto Mike fans, unfortunately it's about 6:15 pm now and I have to get ready for bed. Peace out!

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It's Playoff Time

Raging StormIt's only August 12 but we in Raging Storm have already completed our regular season in the RSPA Slo-Pitch Comp Division.

We played 20 games and finished 9-11. Considering this is our first year in the highest division, that's not bad. It's not great, but it could have been worse.

In an attempt to get the troops in playoff mode I've ordered everyone to watch this scene. If this can't get you up for playoff ball, nothing will.

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Mike Holland Checks In

EmailToday I exchanged messages with Mike Holland who now goes by his real name, Michael Bouyea. He's responsible for one of my favourite Blue Jays songs, "We Got The Blue Jays". You can hear the R.B.I. Single Version here.

Thanks Mike for uploading my song "We Got The Blue Jays". It's good to hear it again. I played all the instruments on that song and produced it. I was pretty happy with the outcome....Again, thanks for putting it up on your site for all to hear. Much appreciated.

A former 1050 CHUM radio personality, Mike Holland is now retired and living in Connecticut. He seems sincerely pleased I was sharing his song. That's way better than a cease and desist order.

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Mind The Gap

familyMy son has lost both top front teeth over the past week. Please mind the gap.

And yes, it's too late for the poor boy, I've successfully brain washed him into rooting blindly for the blue and white. I've warned him this will be our worst team yet and he doesn't seem to mind. The Countdown Clock tells me there's only 58 days, 23 hours, 42 minutes, and 6 seconds left until the Maple Leafs regular season opener.

...Is My Two Front Teeth

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Linkin Park - Given Up

slsI'm submitting a song for SLS20 consideration. I'm submitting "Given Up" by Linkin Park.

You're entitled to hate Linkin Park. Really, it's okay. It's an easy band to hate on and there's no way digging a band this mainstream is cool. And being cool is very, very important.

As I age, I realize trying hard to be cool is very uncool. The cool thing to do is not care if the tune you're digging is cool. I've been digging "Given Up" since the first time I heard it many weeks ago, and I'm still enjoying the clapping intro and Chester's 17 second scream.

It's not from a band nobody's heard of and it's not even that fresh but it makes me happy and that's pretty damn cool.

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J. P. Ricciardi Will Soon Be Gone

JaysBoy, am I ever glad we cut Reed Johnson. That Reeder was no Shannon Stewart. All Reeder did was play awesome defense, hit for average and play his heart out.

If you haven't heard, the Blue Jays just released Shannon Stewart. Stewart hit .240 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 52 games this season. Reeder is batting .300 with six homers and 41 RBIs in 77 games this season. Unfortunately, Reed is now a Chicago Cub.

J. P. Ricciardi is gone the week after the regular season ends.

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Great Balls of Fire

CN TowerThe big local news is the propane gas plant explosion at Keele and Wilson. Sunrise Propane, located just south of Downsview, sent massive fireballs into the sky just before dawn.

At least one firefighter was killed fighting the blaze and thousands have been evacuated from their homes. As Torontonians already know, a good chunk of the 401 has been shut down until things are brought under control.

Here's a great shot of the explosion by photojunkie who has more here.

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Isaac Hayes, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumIsaac Hayes was 65. He was the pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose relentless "Theme From Shaft" won Academy and Grammy awards.

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A Closer Look at the EZ Rock 97.3 Playlist

Radio I once took A Closer Look at the Edge 102 Playlist and with the big news from Humble Howard, I thought I'd take a closer look at the EZ Rock 97.3 playlist.

I'll be checking out Humble's new show, but like many of you who loved him on 102.1, I'm not really a Celine Dion kind of guy. My plan is to listen to the chatter and vacate for 3.5 minutes when the Barry Manilow comes on. But really, how bad could it be?

Here's the most recent songs played on EZ Rock and my personal rating of each tune. 10 is best, 1 is worst. When you see a question mark that means I don't know the tune by name.

Aug 10
Irene Cara Flashdance...what A Feeling 4
Aug 10
Eagles One Of These Nights 5
Aug 10
Barenaked Ladies Jane 8
Aug 10
Phil Collins Against All Odds (take A Look At Me Now) 6
Aug 10
Gloria Estefan Turn The Beat Around 2
Aug 10
Gino Vannelli Black Cars 4
Aug 10
Alicia Bridges I Love The Nightlife (disco Round) 3
Aug 10
Carolyn Dawn Johnson Complicated ?
Aug 10
Lionel Richie My Love ?
Aug 10
Jesse Cook / The Bodeans Early On Tuesday ?
Aug 10
Jordin Sparks Tattoo ?
Aug 10
Elton John Your Song 5
Aug 10
Alicia Keys No One 6
Aug 10
The Fray How To Save A Life 6
Aug 10
No Doubt Don't Speak 8
Aug 10
Alan Frew So Blind ?
Aug 10
Tina Turner What's Love Got To Do With It 6
Aug 10
Chantal Kreviazuk All I Can Do ?
Aug 10
No Mercy Where Do You Go (edit) ?
Aug 10
Avril Lavigne Innocence ?
Aug 10
Chicago You're The Inspiration 5
Aug 10
Jennifer Warnes First We Take Manhattan ?
Aug 10
Earth, Wind And Fire/the E Boogie Wonderland 5
Aug 10
Shakira Hips Don't Lie 5
Aug 10
Jim Brickman / Feat. Jordan Hill Destiny ?
Aug 10
Mariah Carey We Belong Together ?
Aug 10
Daughtry Feels Like Tonight ?
Aug 10
The Bee Gees You Should Be Dancing 3
Aug 10
Shania Twain That Don't Impress Me Much 5
Aug 10
Naked Eyes Always Something There To Remind Me 8
Aug 10
The Stylistics You Are Everything ?
Aug 10
Bryan Adams I Thought I'd Seen Everything ?
Aug 10
Paula Abdul Straight Up 4
Aug 10
Sarah Mclachlan Building A Mystery 7
Aug 10
The Cardigans Lovefool 6
Aug 10
Barry Manilow Copacabana (at The Copa) @ 1
Aug 10
Jacksoul Still Believe In Love ?
Aug 10
Linda Ronstadt / Aaron Neville Don't Know Much 5
Aug 10
Rod Stewart Broken Arrow 2
Aug 10
Justin Timberlake What Goes Around Comes Around ?

It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. There was no Celine and we got a little BNL, Sarah Mclachlan and No Doubt from Tragic Kingdom.

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Barack Roll

USALike a Rickroll... only Presidential.

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Water World

baseballI'm spending the weekend representing at the RSPA Slo-Pitch Tournament. We entered Raging Storm in this thing and played a few games yesterday with the playoffs starting in about an hour.

The rain started during game one, came down a little harder during game 2 and by game 3 it was a torrential downpour. We're talking massive puddles that were more like little ponds, a drenched uniform so your jersey weighs 20 lbs and periodic lightning flashes that made you drop the aluminum bat in a hurry.

I see it's already raining for day #2. That sounds about right.

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Bernie Mac, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumBernie Mac was 50. He was the actor and comedian who teamed up in the casino heist caper "Ocean's Eleven" and gained a prestigious Peabody Award for his sitcom "The Bernie Mac Show."

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Humble Howard Returns To Morning Radio on EZ Rock 97.3

radioIt personally delights me to tell you Humble Howard Glassman has returned to morning radio in Toronto, hosting a show on EZ Rock 97.3. Humble will be joined by Colleen Rusholme and Kim Stockwood and his first day back on the air will be August 11.

Before I became a friend of Humble Howard, I was a fan. The Humble and Fred show was my morning show throughout the 90s. I awoke to his voice on CFNY 102.1 through most of my high school years and all of my university years. I didn't follow him over to Mix 99.9, but I did write an entry about that which would lead to a great friendship.

Humble Howard, Are You Okay?, written a little over two years ago, currently has 397 comments wondering where Humble had gone and letting him know that he's missed. Humble wrote me in response to that entry and asked me to call him. We hit if off and next thing I knew I was flying his plane, hanging out with his family and having them over to dinner.

As it turns out, Humble is better than okay. We're all lucky to have him back on the air. Congrats, Howard. This heterosexual male is adding EZ Rock as a station preset in his car and that, in itself, is a miracle.

Check out the shades

Related Links:

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Give the Igor Kenk Bikes Away

BikeChad wrote me with a good idea. He thinks the Toronto Police should give the 2500 unclaimed backs back to Torontonians. Specifically, to the less fortunate.

Here's his plan in his words:


I've been trying to work through an idea in my head for a while ... getting bikes into the hands of those who need them most. After last weeks announcement of Toronto Police finding all those stolen bikes ... I think I may have thought of a starting point. What if we just gave the bikes away? Conventional practice is for Police to auction the bikes as "proceeds of crime" but I think 2500 more bikes on the road could be good for the city and it citizens.

I'm aware of a British initiative in which a small town in the midlands gave all residence in their public housing complexes bicycles. Obviously Toronto has more than 2500 people living in subsidizing housing - but perhaps an offer to those folks first would work. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the idea ... you have a lot more experience and far more ties to the cycling advocacy community.

The Bike Union forwarded my message on to the Toronto Police Service and got the following response:
We have also received messages like the one below. Unfortunately our legal advice says the Police Services Act precludes us from doing that.

Mark Pugash
Director of Public Information
Toronto Police Service
416 808 7088

I'm wondering if this idea can get some traction in the media and the community we may be able to influence what ultimately happens to these bikes.

I like it.

More on Igor Kenk:

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Making Men Cry

tearsThis BBC article about 80 things that make men cry got me thinking about what makes me cry.

I rarely cry, and it's been a while since I've shed a tear, but there are a few movies that never fail to do the trick and a few other circumstances that could potentially cause me to week.

The BBC list states "Johnny Cash. Bambi's mother dying. Bagpipes. Silently falling remembrance poppies. There are a lot of things that make men well up." That's a pretty good start, but you've got to reference "Field of Dreams".

Here's the scene that never fails to make me cry. Sniff...

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My Favourite Canadian Olympic Moments

The Number FiveMy favourite Olympic moments witnessed live

  1. Men's Hockey Gold in Salt Lake City
  2. Ben Johnson's Victory in the 100m in Seoul (Read More)
  3. Donovan Bailey's Gold in the 100m in Atlanta
  4. Alex Baumann's second Gold in Los Angeles
  5. Simon Whitfield's Triathalon Gold in Sydney

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You Have No Right To Protest

olympicsAs the Olympic Games draw closer, I find myself getting more and more upset. Back in March I shared my conflicted feelings. I love the Olympics and I enjoy posting about every medal Canada wins, but I hate to give that kind of attention to this event in China at this time.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge says that athletes have no right to make individual protests during the Games. Our athletes have no right to protest the celebration of a country with a laundry list of human rights violations ranging from the suppression of religious liberties to the execution of thousands of its citizens annually for challenging the ruling party and supporting Darfur genocide and other evils throughout the world.

I said it in March and I'm sticking with the plan. I will celebrate each Canadian medal with an entry but I won't be celebrating these games or the host country in print. I'm rooting for our athletes and pumped about promoting them, I just don't want to glorify these Games.

That's my right.

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Culture Reject - Inside the Cinema

musicI got a message from a reader named Brian earlier today.

Here's what Brian had to say.

hey mike, i wanted to ask you about this song a month ago, but i had to see if i would still like it. culture reject - "inside the cinema" has really grown on me. i have decided to tell people about it. i heard it on xm52 the verge, and tonight i noticed this clip on youtube. if you have not heard it, i hope you like it too. if you get a minute, tell me what you think.

I played the YouTube clip once, and liked what I heard. Then I played it a second time and felt the groove. That got me searching for the MP3 which led me to this blog. The studio version is even better, and get this, they're from Toronto.

Hey Bri, why did you sit on this for a whole month? Share the love, bro.

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Igor Kenk, Dapper Dan

PicturesThe Star couldn't report what evidence was presented in court today, but they could update us on Igor Kenk's makeover.

Igor Kenk, you may recall, stole my bike (maybe), and now I want him hanged. I hated him when he was a scruffy ragamuffin and now that he's a swarmy looking dapper Dan, I really despise him.

Which Igor Kenk do you prefer? Before or after?

Igor Kenk

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There's A Reason You've Never Heard of Bus Rage

newspaperWe've all read the gory details about Tim McLean's senseless death on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba July 30. Vince Weiguang Li, who immigrated to Canada from China in 2004, apparently beheaded and cannibalized Tim McLean. In court yesterday, Li had one, simple request that will not be fulfilled. "Please, kill me."

Bizarre and grotesque news stories like this have legs. That's partly becaues it's so rare but it's also because most of us have difficulty comprehending such rage. They say no publicity is bad publicity, but this is an exception to that rule.

Greyhound was in the process of launching an ad campaign with the slogan "there's a reason you've never heard of bus rage." The ads are already here in Toronto but are now wisely being removed.

We've now, unfortunately, all heard of bus rage.

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George Bell: My Player

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

I've told this story before, but I'm going to share it again. As kids, my brothers and I "owned" Blue Jays. We each had a primary player and a secondary player. When our player got a hit, we got the high five as if we had accomplished the feat. When our player grounded into a double play, we got the beats.

My player was #11 George Bell. In 1984 while Jesse Barfield was hitting 40 dingers, George Bell hit 26 and stole my heart. Steve had Barfield and I had Bell. Ryan, he was an Ernie Whitt freak.

Other George Bell related entries:

George Bell

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Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind

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.

Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind
You know why I'm sharing this song? Because I love it, that's why.

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Sausagefest Is Built On A Big Fat Lie

radioI was listening to a little 102.1 this morning. I know the morning show there is brutal, but for some reason I like hearing Linkin Park's "Given Up" every morning on my way into the office. Judge not lest thee be judged.

So I'm listening to the tunes when the guys come on to talk about Sausage Fest. Jason introduces the plan as a way to celebrate the fact The Dean Blundell Show is the longest running morning show on Toronto radio. There's only one problem with that statement. It's one big fat lie.

The best morning show in the city, in my humble opinion (no pun intended), belongs to the man who currently holds that title. Andy Barrie has hosted CBC Radio 99.1's Metro Morning since 1995. That's about six years longer than The Dean Blundell Show has been on the air.

On, they were smart enough not to put that lie in print. Here's what you'll find over there.

We're throwing a party to thank you for all your support, and can’t think of a better way to say thanks than by giving you some sausage.

On August 15th at Polson Pier, it's the first annual Dean Blundell Sausagefest! We’ll be cooking up some delicious, juicy sausages for some lucky Inside Edge winners. We’re hooking you up with some sweet tunes as well; Die Mannequin, The Saint Alvia Cartel, The Flatliners, and The Salads will all be playing live!

So if you want in on a day of fun in the sun, some great bands, and of course some sausage, listen to win or enter now to win access to Dean Blundell's Sausagefest for you and a friend. Brought to you by 102.1 The Edge.

Damn, even typing sausagefest makes me feel like a 14 year old kid.

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Bell Beavers Killed Dead

phoneIn February 2006, I caught a new spot for Bell featuring a couple of anthropomorphic beavers. I took note and wrote this entry because one of the beavers was voiced by Norm Macdonald, a dude who consistently makes me laugh and deserves a great deal better.

I figured the beavers were just for the winter Olympics, but they lingered. They lingered and lingered and have only just now been taken out back by Bell and shot. Dead.

It's time for Dirty Work 2.


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I Heart Roy Halladay

JaysRoy "Doc" Halladay allowed only four hits over eight innings last night and earned his 13th win of the season. He's already pitched seven complete games in an era when that just doesn't happen. The man has been here for ten years and I once saw him pitch a no-hitter for 8 2/3 innings.

Roy Halladay is the Blue Jays. He's the heart and soul of this team, consistently awesome. I heart Roy Halladay and I don't care who knows it.

Here's the stub from the near no-hitter.

September 27, 1998 - Blue Jays

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Custom's Official Blog

customDo you remember Custom? He had a rock radio hit back in 2002 with the single "Hey Mister" from his debut album Fast. Shortly thereafter, his label went under and that's where I came in. I got to come in and rescue his domain from the defunct label and set him up with an official site while he worked on securing a new label.

About a year ago, I was asked by one of Custom's peeps to put up a "New Site Coming Soon" page. It sounded like a new record deal was imminent and my services were no longer required. I did what I was told and waited for the good news to break. I waited, and waited, and waited...

I got tired of waiting. I know Custom, one of the sweetest dudes you'll ever meet, and I know he's an interesting, multi-talented freak, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I changed hosts, threw down Movable Type, hacked away at some HTML and built a blog for Custom. Custom himself can maintain this sucker, I'm dummy-proofing the entire process.

Check out Custom's brand spankin' new official blog. Subscribe to the RSS feed at

His first entry, entitled "cheers to mike boon", really speaks to me.

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Get Smart

A Movie ReelGet Smart: 8 out of 10.

I just shared a bit of how I ended up at Get Smart this afternoon. I'm glad I caught this film that seemed to be flying under the radar.

I'm a little young to remember the series, but I knew enough to appreciate the homage in this updated flick. Carell and Hathaway are great, the writing is very funny and at the end you're left wanting more. I suspect I would have enjoyed it even moreso if I had seen the television series.

Get Smart is smart fun.

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Moms Are Smart

?My mom had a birthday last week and I told her I'd take her downtown today for lunch and a movie. I still have a few passes to the AMC 24 at Yonge and Dundas, so I told her to pick a movie playing there.

Dear mom picked Mamma Mia. Not to be insensitive, but even for my own mother's birthday I wouldn't sit in a theatre for Mamma Mia. It's probably a moot point because I'm pretty sure they wouldn't give me access to the theatre for that film. Like Sex and the City before it, Mamma Mia is not to be viewed in a theatre by heterosexual men. I don't make the rules, I just follow them.

I suggested Iron Man. Yes, I tried to get my mom to see Iron Man with me, but I'm the same guy who once dragged her to a Kid Rock concert. My mom, ever the sceptic, called my brother Steve to learn whether she'd like Iron Man. Steve, ever the honest reviewer, told her that it's a great film and I'd like it but that it's not for her. Iron Man was out.

We finally compromised with Get Smart and everything worked out. I'll post a review later today.

Moral of the story: Don't try and trick your mom into seeing guy films with you. She'll figure it out. Moms are smart that way.

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Skip Carey, Rest in Peace

In MemoriumSkip Carey was 68. He was a voice of the Atlanta Braves for 33 years and part of a family line of baseball broadcasters that included Hall of Famer Harry Caray.

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Piece of Cake Theme in MP3: Toronto Mike Helps

GoogleI just received the following email from Ajax Mike.

I have a challenge for your Google-Fu. Back in 1990 or thereabouts there was a British miniseries (originally on ITV) that ran on Masterpiece Theatre over here. 'Piece of Cake' was about a squadron of Spitfire pilots in the months before and during the Battle of Britain. What I'm looking for, is the theme song. I'm getting tons of false positives due to the common phrase that's used for the title. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. :)

I've never heard of "Piece of Cake", but a visit to paints a pretty picture. It sounds like a series I would have enjoyed.

The message boards for the series are full of people, like Ajax Mike, looking for the theme song. I quickly learnt the music was composed and conducted by Peter Martin with The London Philharmonic Orchestra, but nobody seemed able to score an MP3. Neither was I.

If anyone out there comes across this entry looking for a digital copy of the squadron song from "Piece of Cake" and then scores it elsewhere, send it my way and I'll hook up Ajax Mike.

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8 Years of Dubya

USAIt's hard to believe it's already been eight years since Governor Dubya delivered remarks at the Republican National Convention.

Here are a few gems from that fine day in August 2000:

  • I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side. He is a man -- he is a man of integrity and sound judgment who has proven that public service can be noble service.
  • America has a strong economy and a surplus.
  • Tonight in this hall, we resolve to be the party of -- not of repose but of reform. We will write not footnotes but chapters in the American story. We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance of our fathers and mothers and leave this nation greater than we found it.
  • Social Security has been called the third rail of American politics, the one you're not supposed to touch because it might shock you. But if you don't touch it, you cannot fix it. And I intend to fix it.
  • I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code. And I will act on principle. On principle, every family, every farmer and small-business person should be free to pass on their life's work to those they love, so we will abolish the death tax.
  • A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.
  • If you give me your trust, I will honor it.
  • We will give low-income Americans tax credits to buy the private health insurance they need and deserve.
  • So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

He did plenty of Clinton bashing as well. Survey results from Gallup. The question: "In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?"

  • December, 2000: 51% satisfied
  • June, 2008: 14% satisfied

(via The J-Walk Blog)

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A Snapshot From A Different Time

VaultA few years ago I wrote about old scrapbooks I uncovered. I haven't really revisited these scrapbooks since, but it really does give you a nice snapshot in time of a different period in this city.

Today we have a baseball team that hasn't played a playoff game in 15 years, a hockey team that hasn't played a playoff game since 2003 and a basketball team that's first round fodder. When I put together the pages below our Jays were on their way to their first World Series and our Leafs were about to win the Norris Division.

From My Scrapbook

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John Simcoe Rulez!

CalendarToday was sort of a bonus day with tomorrow being the new Saturday. It's the Simcoe Day long weekend, don't ya know? At least that's what we call this holiday here in Toronto. The question is, who the hell is this Simcoe guy?

In a nutshell, and shamelessly copied and pasted from Wikipedia:

John Graves Simcoe (February 25, 1752 – October 26, 1806) was the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada (modern-day southern Ontario plus the watersheds of Georgian Bay and Lake Superior) from 1791-1796. He founded York (now Toronto) and was instrumental in introducing institutions such as the courts, trial by jury, English common law, freehold land tenure, and for abolishing slavery in Upper Canada long before it was abolished in the British Empire as a whole (it had disappeared from Upper Canada by 1810, but wasn't abolished throughout the Empire until 1834).

He sounds like a grand fellow, and worthy of a holiday. Simcoe named the T.Dot York after Frederick, Duke of York, George III's second son.

I think almost all Canadians get Monday off, but it's only Simcoe day in Toronto. Depending on where you live it's got a different name, with the default being Civic Day. I suggest we unify the country, make it a stat day and call it "Too Hot To Work Day".

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July 2008 Google Organic Keywords

Search Strings According to Google Analytics, here are the top ten keywords that brought people to this site in July 2008. As you'll see, Rick Hodge dominates the top ten, but he couldn't match the 4,828 people who searched for info on the HMS Ontario.

  1. hms ontario found
  2. rick hodge
  3. roger rick and marilyn
  4. rick hodge chum fm
  5. edgefest 2008
  6. george carlin quotes
  7. roger, rick and marilyn
  8. "rick hodge"
  9. wedding playlist
  10. brad giffen

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Five Films I Reference on a Regular Basis

The Number FiveThese are five films I reference on a very regular basis

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Fight Club
  3. Office Space
  4. Shawshank Redemption
  5. The Karate Kid

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