Best of Toronto Mike

Backstreet's Back!

Nick CarterI've gotta share this story, because it's too surreal not to post.

Yesterday my buddy Marc gave me a call and asked me if I wanted to join a pick-up game of softball a few of our fellow teammates started up. With a couple of hours before Ribfest, softball was just what the doctor ordered.

We arrive at the diamond and start warming up. We're waiting for a few more guys to show up before picking teams. Moments later they arrive, and one of these dudes is instantly recognizable. Lo and behold I'm about to play ball with Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. No foolin'.

Now I'm not exactly a Backstreet Boys fan, but I'm well aware that there was no bigger band on this planet a few years ago. And on the Backstreet Boy scale, there was no bigger Backstreet Boy than Nick.

So that's my story. Just me and Nick playin' ball on Canada Day. Hot times, summer in the city.

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O Canada!

O Canada!Canada bashing has become a popular sport of late. With no defense to speak of and an unwillingness to follow our giant neighbours to the south on their way into Iraq, we've been labeled as traitors and worse.

As I see it, we were right. Sure our Prime Minister comes across as an arrogant buffoon at times, but he wanted to see "da proof" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and he wasn't buying what Powell was selling. "Da proof" wasn't there. It turns out Chretien was right. If Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, rest assured they'd have been discovered by now. Canada's conscious is clear.

Furthermore, the wheels are in motion to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The US doesn't like it, but we don't care. Smoking a little weed won't get you a criminal record and this is a good, sensible thing. Canada progresses and leaves America in it's smoke trails.

Finally, Chretien said last week that he wouldn't challenge the ruling from Ontario's Supreme Court that same-sex marriages were legal. Here, here. Homosexuality is not a crime. It's time a gay person is granted the same rights as a straight person. Canada becomes the third nation in the world to allow same-sex marriages and I've never been so proud.

2003 is almost half over and in my opinion it's been a landmark year for Canadian independence and pride. In a previous blog entry on Victoria Day, I mentioned it's time we stop acting like Britain's bitch. Well, from what this Canadian sees, we're no longer going to be America's bitch either.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. With what, we're not sure, but if I want to marry a dude and smoke a fatty to celebrate, it's all good.

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SARSSARS Update: From the eye of the storm

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

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

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

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

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

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Hello God

Go Leafs Go!Hello God, it's me Mike.

What exactly do you have against my Toronto Maple Leafs? Why to you use your omnipotent power to crush us at every opportunity? You tortured us with the Harold Ballard regime, forcing me to grow up in a decade almost completely void of playoff victories. Then, when everything lined up perfectly for a Habs-Leafs Stanley Cup Final in '93, you gave The Great One yet another break and used your mighty power to blind the refs as Gretzky clearly high-sticked Gilmour. We deserved to win that night. You made sure it didn't happen.

Now, in 2003, that very same Gilmour came home. On Thursday night, I watched #93 play for four minutes and fifty-one seconds. Everything seemed right again. Everything seemed perfectly in place for a serious run at the cup. Leaf fans were happy. We were oh so happy Lord! Then, as quickly as you giveth, you taketh away.

Dougie was laying on the ice, clearly in pain. The war horse couldn't stand, but this warrior was going to get to the bench on his own. As I watched him crawl twenty feet to the bench, I looked up and asked you one simple question. "Why?"

On behalf of all Torontonians, I apologize for whatever it is you don't like about us. Perhaps it's our arrogance? We are the self-proclaimed capital of Canada, you know. Perhaps it's the fact that many Leaf fans spill on to Yonge Street to celebrate a single playoff victory. Is it that we're satisfied with so little from our hockey team? Should we expect more? Tell us oh Lord, tell us what we can do to earn your favour? If we change now, maybe Dougie is back for the playoffs? Please see what you can do...

Your biggest fan,

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9/11At 8:59 last night, I did what I do every night at that time when the Leafs aren't playing. I got ready to watch the Simpsons on the Comedy Network. Little did I know what I was in store for on this particular night...

It was The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson, an episode I have seen twice: when it originally aired in '97 and in syndication in y2k. I won't bore you with the premise, but smack dab in the middle of this episode Homer finds himself in front of the World Trade Center after consuming more than enough crab juice. With nature calling loud and clear, he runs up tower one of the World Trade Center to visit the public bathroom on the observation deck only to find it closed so he has to run quickly to tower two. There are a bunch of jokes tossed back and forth between those in tower one to those in tower two, your typical New York exchanges. The twin towers of the World Trade Center played quite a role in this episode, and I hadn't seen it since 9/11/01.

It takes a shot of the towers in an episode of the Simpsons to finally bang home to me the fact that these towers are no longer there. Sure, for days after 9/11 I read and watched almost everything on the attacks and the towers and again on the first anniversary I revisited the horrific moments when the towers came down but watching Homer interact with these New York landmarks provided me with a moment of clarity.

The twin towers of the World Trade Center are no more and that sucks.

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