May 2016 Archives

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My First 1000 KM Month of Cycling #biketo

I just finished a 32.31 KM bike ride bringing my May 2016 total to 1014.16 KM. This is the first calendar month of my life in which I cycled more than 1000 KM.

Here's how I did it.


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Trying to Buy Hip Tickets for the Last Time

This morning at 10am, tickets for the last Tragically Hip tour went on sale for the many of us with a presale password. I was logged into Ticketmaster and ready to rock well before go time.


Then, I started my search for 3 tickets. I really wanted to take my oldest two kids to see their dad's favourite band. I tried for both Toronto shows, the London show and the Hamilton show. I came up empty every time.


I reduced my search to two tickets, and tried for another 30 minutes. Still nothing.

Then, I narrowed my search to one ticket. I figured I'd go alone and enjoy Gord and the boys for a twelfth and final time. It would be a personal, spiritual journey. Cathartic, even. Finally, after the 30th security check to prove I'm not a robot, I got a ticket.


But, for reasons I still don't understand, the final "submit" button was greyed out. There was no way to click it. I spent several minutes trying to figure out what was preventing the submit button from becoming active to no avail. I never was able to buy this ticket.

But I kept trying to find one ticket at any of the aforementioned four shows. I never did.

After 90 minutes of trying, I managed to score a single ticket to the Friday, August 12 show at the ACC. It's in the nosebleeds, but I'm in the building. This makes me very, very happy.


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2015-16 Raptors Season Ends

Our We The North flag is still hanging in the bay window. Yesterday's loss to the Cavs in game six wasn't unexpected, and to be frank, we were ready for it. And when it was all over, I didn't feel sad or mad, I felt glad it happened.

It's been a great six months for Toronto's sports teams. The Jays and Raps both got within two wins of the finals, and the Leafs won the draft lottery. That's more success than we saw in the previous decade.

After the best regular season in franchise history, I knew what I had to see. I needed to see the Raps win a playoff series. Heck, I needed to see them win two.

We did that, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals against the mighty Cavs. I was confident the Raptors were the second best team in the conference, but even more certain that the Cavs were the best team in the conference. I predicted the Cavs would win in five.

The Raps gave all they had, giving us fans a helluva ride, making further progress. It was both infuriating, and exhilerating. It was, as sports is meant to be, damn fun.


My focus returns to the .500 Blue Jays and the hopes the offense will right itself and we'll be enjoying another pennant race this September. The next step is a championship.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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After 175 Episodes, I Wanted to Thank a Few People

I just recorded the 175th episode of my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. Ron Hawkins, frontman, primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and one of two guitarists for Lowest of the Low, dropped by my home for a 90 minute chat and it was as awesome as I had hoped it would be. I've been a fan of Lowest of the Low since I first heard them on 102.1 in 1991 and I still can't believe Ron took the time to visit.

175 feels like a like a nice round number, and I wanted to thank some people who helped me get here. This passion project has been so incredibly fulfilling, I still can't believe I'm sitting down and conversing with Ron MacLean, Strombo, Matt Galloway, Ashley Buchholz, Ed the Sock and so many others I admire.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of those who helped out along the way.

Humble and Fred

Way back in 2006, Humble and Fred wanted to record a Christmas special, only they had both been fired from their terrestrial radio gig at Mix 999. They had the content covered, but they asked me to help out with the technical aspects of creating a podcast, and on December 17 we recorded The 17th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas Show at Dan Duran's house. They produced the MP3 file and I took it from there to ensure fans could hear the festive joy. In 2006, few knew what a podcast was, making this a rather educational experience. It was the very first podcast I ever produced.

A Part of History

We'd meet up a few more times over the years to produce Humble and Fred podcast specials, and then in October 2011, Humble and Fred decided to make a real go of this podcast thing. They started podcasting daily.

Humble and Mike

In those early days, I was at their studio every day for the recording, and held Fred's hand as he learned how to maintain the XML file that powered podcast subscriptions. I'm proud to say they're still producing their podcast almost five years later.

Fred's Wall of Fame

Without this experience, and witnessing the creative content creation process up close, I likely never would have got the itch to try it on my own. One day I decided to start Toronto Mike'd, and Humble and Fred lent me their studio until I built my own.


When I did decide to start Toronto Mike'd, I wanted a co-host who would sound great on the air and with whom I had great chemistry. I honestly only thought of one person, my dear friend Rosie.

Rosie and I go back to grade ten when we found ourselves bonding over Mr. Dougherty's english class at Michael Power. She's the only person who attended both my weddings (other than me, of course) and if I was going to podcast, I wanted her sitting beside me.


Rosie co-hosted Toronto Mike'd with me through episode 56 and without her there likely never would have been an episode 1. By the way, she gave a speech about me in episode 45 that I would like played at my celebration of life.


The first 20 episodes of Toronto Mike'd were recorded at Humble and Fred's studio, but I wanted to take another leap of independence. I wanted to build my own studio in my own home.

It just so happened I had recently met an audio guru who was responsible for what you hear during Blue Jays home games on Sportsnet. His name is Andrew and he was kind enough to help me choose the gear I'd need for my studio. And by "help" I mean he literally told me where to go and what to buy.

It Begins

$1600 later, I had kick-ass mics, proper cables and stands and a mixer. Andrew happily came over to help me put it together. If you think Toronto Mike'd sounds good, there's only one man to thank.


Episode 21 truly was broadcast from The House That Heaven Built.


When I was unable to meet Rosie's salary demands after episode 56, I found myself in need of a new co-host. If I couldn't have Rosie, I knew exactly who I wanted.


Elvis has been a great friend for over a decade, and he sounds fantastic on the mic. Since I have absolutely no broadcasting experience and never particularly liked my voice, I felt it was important to surround myself with great voices who knew how to articulate and use a microphone. Throw in a solid dose of chemistry and you've got yourself a co-host.


To this day, when I feel like recording but don't have an actual guest booked, I turn to Elvis. It's always a blast.

Great Lakes Brewery

As listener numbers rise, I often wonder if I'm leaving money on the table by not properly monetizing Toronto Mike'd. I've been hesitant to seek sponsorship, and only recently introduced the Patreon campaign. But when I received an email from Great Lakes Brewery asking me to visit their facility for a meeting, I curiously biked over and kept a very open mind.

GLB is independent, local and run by good people. This is a company I wanted to partner with, and I was pleased as punch when they signed on for six months. I'm all but certain we'll renew that deal.


Corporations seem hesitant to sponsor independent podcasts in this country, so it was great to see a company take a gamble on my little podcast. If any companies out there want to follow suit, let me know.

The Guests

At the end of 2013, I knew what I wanted Toronto Mike'd to become. I didn't want it to strictly be "two friends shooting the shit", but wanted to have conversations with a wide variety of interesting Toronto people.

strombo and me

In January 2014, I was visited by Jonathan Torrens, Alan Cross and Todd Shapiro consecutively, and everything crystallized. That was Toronto Mike'd. I truly appreciate everyone who accepted my invitation and took time out of their busy scheduled to visit and chat.

Ron MacLean and Me

Not everyone has said yes, but I'm pleased to report most have and I haven't had a bad experience yet.

Listeners Like You

Sure, it's a little corny, but it's your feedback that fuels this podcast. I really do try to learn from my mistakes, and I like to think it's only getting better.

Toronto Mike'd podcast ranks #3 in iTunes

Thank you for listening, thanks for letting me know when you like what I do, and when you think there's room for improvement. You can leave a comment, send me an email, tweet at me or rent a billboard.

Keep sharing!

And thanks again!

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 175: Ron Hawkins

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 175In this 175th episode, Mike chats with Lowest of the Low lead singer and songwriter Ron Hawkins about Shakespeare My Butt, success for which you're unprepared, Gord Downie, the perfect marriage of Peace and Quiet and Tim Thompson's Maple Leafs montage and much, much more. This episode is exactly 1:30:54.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:


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Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Gord Downie Diagnosed with Terminal Brain Cancer

When I awoke this morning, the first thing I did was check email. The first email I read was my Tragically Hip newsletter. I'm looking for them to tour again because I want to take my teenaged son to see his dad's favourite band.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Here's what the email said.

Hello friends.

We have some very tough news to share with you today, and we wish it wasn't so.

A few months ago, in December, Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Since then, obviously, he's endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard. In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we've been standing by him.

So after 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours...

We've decided to do another one.

This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.

What we in The Hip receive, each time we play together, is a connection; with each other; with music and it's magic; and during the shows, a special connection with all of you, our incredible fans.

So, we're going to dig deep, and try to make this our best tour yet.

We hope you can come out and join us this summer - details and dates will be coming this week.

And we sincerely thank all of you, for your continued love and support,

Paul, GordD, Johnny, Rob, GordS

I was stunned. I've seen The Hip 11 times (all insanely documented here) and my Hallelujah hunt remains a personal highlight. The fact is you only have one favourite band and The Tragically Hip has been that to me for almost three decades.

Thank you, Gord.

The Hip @ Fort York

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John Brophy, Dead at 83

John BrophyJohn Brophy was 83. He spent the bulk of his hockey career as a player and coach in the Eastern Hockey League but I knew him best as head coach of the Leafs from 1986 to 1988.

He was coach for one of my first favourite Maple Leafs memories, a first round sweep of the Chicago Black Hawks in 1985-86.

John Brophy

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Whimbrels Spotted in Sam Smith Park

I've written about Whimbrel Point before, a spot in Samuel Smith Park where whimbrels rest for a day or two every May. This morning, I finally spotted these whimbrels.

Apparently, they had just arrived from an overnight flight from Virginia. They're just resting on their way to the arctic. I couldn't get too close as to not disturb them, but here's my pic of the elusive whimbrels.


Let's zoom in a little...


See them? Let's zoom in a little more...


Four whimbrels on a rock at appropriately named Whimbrel Point.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

Discuss "Open Mike" (37 comments so far)

My Week with a Ford Flex

I just spent a week driving a new Ford Flex, and it all started with this tweet that prompted me to seek out a Ford Flex test drive.

Ed wasn't kidding when he referred to it as a big box. That's exactly what it is, a very big box. But because it's a box, it's incredibly roomy.


The Ford Flex seats seven comfortably which is precisely why I wanted to test drive it. I have a family of six but only have five seatbelts in my Mazda. This past week was the first time we all travelled somewhere together.



There was actually room to spare. It's an incredibly roomy crossover, but it didn't drive "big". It really felt like I was driving a car, and I was only reminded how big it was when it came time to park.

Some say the Flex is ugly. I cannot state clearly enough how little I care about a car's appearance. I need a safe car that seats at least six people, and I can't have it destroy my bank account. When it comes to cars, I'm all about substance over style.

The Ford Flex fits the bill. I'll be testing a few other cars over the summer. I'll let you know how those drives go.


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Morley Safer, Dead at 84

Morley SaferMorley Safer was 84. He was the Toronto-born CBS newsman who changed war reporting forever when he showed GIs burning the huts of Vietnamese villagers and went on to become the iconic 60 Minutes correspondent.

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Help Jason Find Internet for his Mom

Back in the day, I would post "guest blog entries" from readers. I had a form for this and everything. Today, if you want this treatment, you're going to have to send me an email.

That's what Jason from Sudbury did, and this entry was written by him.

First, @Toronto Mike: Thank you for publishing this, I really appreciate it.

So my parents are moving to Waterloo next month and I'm being sent on a mission. My them get internet. My mom has no clue about upload/download speeds, caps, etc. So I have to look around for them. They're looking for highspeed, they have a 50 mb/s connection right now which is good. I'm also trying to avoid Rogers and Bell, especially Rogers cause I know they have an 80 gig cap. They got an android box so I'm trying to either find a plan with no cap or if anything high enough that I know they won't go over it.

Here's where you guys come in. If you live in the Waterloo area, who's your ISP? How much are you paying? Do you have a cap? Help me be a good son and get my parents internet.

Jason from Sudbury

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 174: Marty York

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 174In this 174th episode, Mike chats with Marty York about his controversial Tweets, his thoughts on sports media in 2016, his career at the Globe and Mail, TSN and Sportsnet and what he's up to now. He names names and answers everything. This episode is exactly 1:48:31.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Become a Patron

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

Discuss "Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 174: Marty York" (69 comments so far)

Raptors Advance to Conference Finals

In the end, it wasn't even close. The Raptors beat the Heat handedly in game seven of their second round series to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The final score was 116-89.

Prior to tipoff, I was surprised by how little anxiety I felt. It was as if I had seen the game and knew we won. Here's what I tweeted.

Kyle Lowry was unbelievably good. He scored 35 points, added 9 assists and 8 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan wasn't too shabby himself, finishing with 28 points and 8 rebounds. This is the backcourt that led us to the 2 seed in the East.


Bismack Biyombo added 17 points and 16 rebounds, helping us forget that Jonas Valančiūnas was watching from the sidelines in a camouflage suit.

This is now, without a doubt, the most successful Raptors season in franchise history. It's our first conference final, and equals the distance the 2015 Blue Jays went before they bowed out in the ALCS. The Leafs haven't been to a conference final since 2001-02.

I'm not going to worry about what lies ahead. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the fact we've finally won a conference semi-final series. How sweet it is!

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Billy Van Singers + Laurie Bower Singers = Spiderman Theme

If you caught episode 167 of my podcast, you heard Retrontario talking about the Laurie Bower Singers. We played "Season of the Yonge" by the Laurie Bower Singers, a song about our very own Yonge Street.

"Season of the Yonge" is so obscure, I couldn't find it on YouTube, but here's the MP3 if you've never heard it before.

Today, I received this tweet from Laurie Bower's daughter.

My mind was blown. The Spider-Man theme song from the 60s we all know and love featured members of the Billy Van Singers and Laurie Bower Singers groups. Billy Van of The Hilarious House of Frightenstein had a vocal group? Was there anything he couldn't do?

So next time you hear this theme song, know its Toronto connection.

Bonus fun fact: Laurie Bower provided background vocals for a song Jays fans still know and love.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 173: Marc Weisblott from 12:36

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 173In this 173rd episode, Mike chats with Marc Weisblott about his years on the bleeding edge of online journalism, his Toronto email newsletter Twelve Thirty Six and a wide assortment of Toronto-centric tidbits. This episode is exactly 1:26:35.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

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Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Canadian Songs to Reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Hits 45

Drake finally has his first Billboard Hot 100 number one as a lead artist. One Dance by Drake and featuring WizKid and Kyla currently tops the chart.

Here's the complete list of 45 Canadian songs to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

  1. It's Love-Love-Love by Guy Lombardo
  2. Cry by Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads
  3. Sh-Boom by The Crew-Cuts
  4. Diana by Paul Anka
  5. Lonely Boy by Paul Anka
  6. Theme from A Summer Place by Percy Faith
  7. Ringo by Lorne Greene
  8. American Woman / No Sugar Tonight by The Guess Who
  9. Heart of Gold by Neil Young
  10. Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks
  11. Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot
  12. (You're) Having My Baby by Paul Anka and Odia Coates
  13. Rock Me Gently by Andy Kim
  14. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  15. Hot Child In The City by Nick Gilder
  16. You Needed Me by Anne Murray
  17. Heaven by Bryan Adams
  18. When I'm With You by Sheriff
  19. Black Velvet by Alannah Myles
  20. (Everything I Do) I Do It for You by Bryan Adams
  21. Informer by Snow
  22. All for Love by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting
  23. The Power of Love by Céline Dion
  24. Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? by Bryan Adams
  25. Because You Loved Me by Céline Dion
  26. My Heart Will Go On by Céline Dion
  27. One Week by Barenaked Ladies
  28. I'm Your Angel by R. Kelly and Céline Dion
  29. How You Remind Me by Nickelback
  30. Bad Day by Daniel Powter
  31. Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland
  32. Say It Right by Nelly Furtado
  33. Give It to Me by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake
  34. Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne
  35. What's My Name? by Rihanna featuring Drake
  36. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
  37. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell
  38. Rude by MAGIC!
  39. Can't Feel My Face by The Weeknd
  40. What Do You Mean? by Justin Bieber
  41. The Hills by The Weeknd
  42. Sorry by Justin Bieber
  43. Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
  44. Work by Rihanna Featuring Drake
  45. One Dance by Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla

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The Final Expo Home Run

Baseball fans likely know by now that Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon went deep the other day. He's the oldest player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit his first career home run. He was exactly 42 years and 349 days old. That's older than me!

Here's a nice mash-up of Colon's homer and The Natural.

In 2002, Colon pitched for the Montreal Expos, which makes him the last active player to have suited up for the Expos. And now, it's quite likely we've seen the final Expo home run.

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Back Catcher vs. Catcher

I fell in love with baseball during the summer of '83 when I caught Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth calling Blue Jay games while spending a couple of weeks at my uncle's cottage. I was hooked.

Around this time, I was playing tee-ball. In my tee-ball league, the catcher was called "back catcher". In primary school, I played for the school's softball team, and the position was still referred to as "back catcher".

Tom and Jerry never called it "back catcher", they just called it "catcher". I'm well aware it's just "catcher", but I still periodically call it "back catcher". It just slips out after being implanted in my cranium at such a young age.

Does anyone know why we called the position back catcher instead of catcher? Is it a Canadian thing?

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Sorry, I Can't Get Riled Up Over Wade's Anthem Shots

Prior to game 3 in the Raptors ~ Heat series, Dwyane Wade was caught shooting during the singing of O Canada. Here's the video evidence.

I get the feeling I'm supposed to get all riled up about this, yet I feel nothing. Was it disrespectful? Probably. Should Wade apologize and promise not to do it again? Probably. But I sure don't feel angry about it.

Maybe that's because I don't really believe we should be singing anthems before games. Maybe that's because I don't believe Wade was trying to slight this country. Maybe that's because there are enough upsetting things in the world, and this one just doesn't make the cut.

I just want to see the Raps come out and win tonight so we have a chance to clinch at home in game five. That's what has me all riled up.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 172: KJ

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 172In this 172nd episode, Mike chats with boom 973 DJ KJ about his years on 680 CFTR as Kris James, how he ended up on boom and everything in between. This episode is exactly 1:10:41.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast

Discuss "Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 172: KJ" (23 comments so far)

When They Start to Smile


Discuss "When They Start to Smile" (3 comments so far)

Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

Discuss "Open Mike" (78 comments so far)

The High Park Cherry Blossoms Refuse to Bloom

On this date last year, I rode my bike to High Park and snapped some great photos of the annual Sakura cherry blossoms in full bloom. Here's a taste of what I witnessed.


Just yesterday, I rode to High Park to see if there were any signs of this year's peak bloom. The only signs were the literal signs they had erected the previous week.

Pictures of the 2015 High Park Cherry Blossoms

Sadly, the sign people were too optimistic. The Sakura Watch blog is reporting today that there will be no peak bloom to view in High Park in 2016.

Yes I did see the first blossom today, however when I say ‘blossom’, its literally meant as in a single blossom, as in 1 lonely blossom on a tree filled with buds going to leaf. Looking throughout the park all I found was 1 tree with only 1 blossom. The consolation was seeing a small group of blossoms on the trunk of a nearby sakura tree. But unfortunately, every other cherry blossom tree in the park is going straight to leaf.

This photo I took in 2008 will have to keep me in stead. Until next year, that is.

Cherry Blossoms @ High Park

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The Wire [the impact of electricity on music]

Every week I'll listen to an episode of The Doc Project via the CBC Radio app. Today I noticed that eight episodes of a series entitled The Wire were available.

Initially, I thought it might be about my favourite television series of all-time, but quickly learned it was an audio series about the impact of electricity on music. What the heck, I started episode one and went for a ride.

It's pretty awesome. There are great interviews, great music and interesting discussions. I blew through two episodes and then learned this series is actually over a decade old. I completely missed it the first time around, but am pleased to have discovered it now.

It's so old, I can't find a feed for it, but you can stream the episodes here. If you enjoy music, you'll love The Wire.


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Catch the Taste!

Seven years ago, I shared a classic McCain's Punch ad featuring Toronto Blue Jay second baseman Roberto Alomar. Retrontario was sharing the ad and it brought back a ton of memories.

That wasn't the original 1993 "Catch the Taste!" ad, however, which almost topped Retrontario's most wanted list. The hunt was on for the original Robert Alomar "Catch the Taste!" McCain's Punch ad!

Then, this interview in the National Post led to a mention in the 12:36 email newsletter resulting in a tweet from the heavens with the elusive ad.

Here it is...

By the way, Retrontario has been on Toronto Mike'd twice and the man behind 12:36 will be on next week. Subscribe and don't miss a beat.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 171

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 171In this 171st episode, Mike chats with Elvis about this and that as Prince brings Elvis to tears. This episode is exactly 1:25:51.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

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Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Raptors Win 7-Game Series

Heading into last night's game seven at the ACC, I was asked for my prediction. With apologies to Forrest Gump, I ended up comparing the Raptors to a box of chocolates. I could see us winning big, but I could also see us losing big.

Despite our two all-stars still struggling to make buckets, we were up by 14 to start the fourth quarter. A 14-point lead never felt so fragile. With just under three minutes to play, that lead was down to 3.

We held on, as you know, to advance to the second round for only the second time in franchise history. We'll face the Heat and I'm thinking we'll have to shoot better than 38.2% if we're going to have a chance at advancing.

Thank you Cory Joseph, thank you Norman Powell, thank you Patrick Patterson, and thank you DeMarre Carroll. Bring on the Heat!

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