Best of Toronto Mike


12 Blog Entries of 2009

calendarAs 2009 draws to a close, it's time to reflect upon the past twelve months. Here are 12 blog entries of 2009 worthy of another visit.

Scientology, Autism and the Death of Jett Travolta
January 2, 2009

Early in the year, I decided to set my sights a little higher. I decided to bring down Scientology.

It's a work in progress, but the comments in this entry still make for a fantastic read. Amber and El Diablo had this blog peaking early in 2009.

Details are still emerging about Jett's death, but it sounds as if his affliction was acknowledged by everyone who knew him, except his parents. It would be difficult to believe devout followers of Scientology would do all they could do for someone suffering from a neurological disorder.

Read it


My Interview with Justin Pogge
February 13, 2009

In hindsight, this interview was the kiss of death for poor Justin in Toronto. But what the hell, it was a lot of fun.

Justin Pogge was drafted in the third round, 90th overall, by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He's currently a Toronto Marlie who gets called up to play for the Maple Leafs now and then. I had a few questions for him, as did you, and the Marlies were nice enough to let me into today's practice at the Ricoh Coliseum so I could pepper young Pogge.

Read it


I Want to Watch The Wire
March 7, 2009

One day I woke up and decided I wanted to watch every episode of The Wire. I wrote this entry and thanks to regular reader McNulty, I had all 60 episodes in my posession by the end of the month. The Wire changed the way I see everything and has most definitely made me a better person.

I want to watch The Wire. I understand there are five seasons and 60 episodes in total. From everything I've read, The Wire is right up my ally and I'm certain I'll love it.

Read it


Swansea Hockey Plays the ACC
March 8, 2009

I still can't believe my son played hockey at the ACC in front of 18,000. It happened, and it was a thrill for this very proud papa.

Last night was one of those once in a lifetime experiences you never forget. It's a story I'll be telling for some time. Last night, I was a very proud papa watching my son play on ACC ice in front of 18,000 spectators.

Read it


Humble and Fred's 20th Anniversary Podcast of Memories
May 20, 2009

I was honoured to be a part of Humble and Fred's 20th Anniversary Podcast of Memories. We took a trip down memory lane with a number of special guests and it was a blast.

Back on May 2, 2009, a bunch of us old time Humble and Fred fans got together at a Toronto pub to witness the recording of the 20th Anniversary Podcast of Memories.

Read it


Martin Streek Dead
July 6, 2009

On July 6th, long-time CFNY DJ Martin Streek, who was let go two months earlier, took his own life. I would learn in the following weeks that many of Martin's friends and former colleagues learned this news from this entry.

I'm not sure how to write this one, so I'm just going to tell you what I know.

Read it


The Ballad of Martin Streek and Me
July 25, 2009

Following Martin Streek's dismissal and subsequent suicide, Bert Archer wrote a great piece for the Globe and Mail around the demise of the Spirit of Radio. I was quoted.

Over the past week or so, I've been communicating with Bert Archer who's been writing an article for the Globe and Mail on CFNY / Edge 102. Bert and I had a nice phone conversation and exchanged several emails and Gtalk messages. He was interested in where CFNY was going following the dismissal and subsequent death of Martin Streek.

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The Top 200 Songs Of The 90's According to 102.1 the Edge
September 12, 2009

When the Edge aired their Top 200 songs of the 90s, it sparked quite the discussion in the comments. The absence of such 90s staples as "Jesus Built My Hotrod" and "Cannonball" should have told me this list wasn't for me.

Here's their list. Actually, they're claiming this list was compiled from listener votes. It's a pretty good top 10, actually, but I am surprised we got three Nirvana songs and Pearl Jam doesn't appear until 22. Then again, Alice in Chains doesn't debut until 75. Go figure.

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Mr. Sub Produces Worst Ad of All-Time Contender
September 28, 2009

I saw an ad for Mr. Sub on YouTube and I hated it so much I had to write about it. That prompted a mother of one of the kids in the ad to feed me inside info on the entire clusterfuck and resulted in cease and desist orders from the advertisting agency.

Mr. Sub's new "Dinner" ad might just be the worst ad I've ever seen. Granted, that's a pretty subjective analysis, so I'm wondering if I'm alone.

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H1N1 Flu Shot Myths Infuriate Me (or Why Your Ignorance Makes Me Feel Superior To You)
October 29, 2009

This entry, more than just about any other, buried me with hate mail. Good fun!

I am not a doctor. It's highly likely that you're not a doctor either. When it comes to decisions for me and my family regarding vaccinations, I speak to medical doctors I trust. Every single one I've spoken to or heard from say, without hesitation, that we should all get immunized as soon as possible. The scientific evidence is overwhelming. As a responsible parent, I'll ensure my kids receive the H1N1 vaccine as soon as possible. As a responsible member of society, I'll ensure I get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as possible.

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This is a Blog. This is My Blog.
November 27, 2009

In case anyone had forgotten...

I started blogging here exactly 7 years ago this week. It was a place to sharpen my writing skills and a chance to test various SEO practices and web development techniques. In the beginning, the number of daily unique visitors was often less than ten, and I knew them all in "the real world".

Read it


Barilkosphere Call to Arms: Our Time is Now
December 16, 2009

After my visit to the ACC press box to catch a Leafs game, I wrote the Barilkosphere manifesto. Our time is now.

Are you a passionate Toronto Maple Leafs fan? Are you intelligent? Are you active in digital spaces, either blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or other? If you answered "yes" to all three questions, this entry is for you. All others can pick apart my 40 favourite Christmas songs over here.

Read it

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Thoughts on 102.1 Tribute to Martin Streek, Shitty Facts, Closure Sought

tribute to streekI just listened to the 3-hour tribute to Martin Streek aired on CFNY / Edge 102. Actually, I missed the first 10 minutes, because I wasn't planning to tune in, but then curiosity got the better of me.

Tomorrow night marks two weeks since Martin Streek took his own life. Yesterday marked two months since I wrote about his firing. Corus' firing of Streek ticked me off, Streek's suicide has followed me around like a black cloud for the past 13 days. The purpose of this entry is to throw down some thoughts on tonight's Corus tribute, accept a few realities and find some closure.

The Hypocrisy
I had trouble getting passed the hypocrisy. The following sentiments were expressed over and over again:

  • Martin Streek was my favourite DJ.
  • Martin Streek was passionate about music.
  • Martin Streek was an ideal colleague.
  • Martin Streek was the consummate host.
  • I love Martin Streek.
  • I'll miss Martin Streek.
  • There is no other Martin Streek.
  • Martin was one of my heroes.
  • Martin Streek was one of the best radio hosts.

I'm sure all of the above is true. CFNY / Edge 102 certainly celebrated Streek, but there was no reference that I heard to the fact they dismissed him in May. This is where the rock meets the hard place. Corus fired Streek, and Corus knows 99% of the listeners tonight are oblivious to this fact. Anyone reading this right now is in the 1% minority. If Martin was so exceptional, with musical passion and a way of connecting with listeners like no other rock DJ in this city, why fire him?

Streek's firing received not a word of exposure on the air. He was deleted from the corporate website and never again referred to on the air until he was found dead in his apartment. Tonight, it was a Streek love-in, with creepiness that only sets in when you've been mourning his absence for two months.

The Music
The music tonight was fantastic. A great collection of excellent tunes without commercial interruption. I was pleased with the playlist.

The Separation of Management and Colleagues
Potential hypocrisy aside, those who worked with Martin loved him, and those who worked with him aren't necessarily supportive of his dismissal in May. A chance to honour Streek at CFNY, the call letters Streek had tattooed on his body, was likely important to many at that station. If we separate those in management who discounted Streek's connection to us fans and deemed him expendable from those who sincerely liked him and miss him, tonight's tribute becomes far more palatable.

We also got to hear from some old friends, like Freddie P., Kneale Mann, Brother Bill and Maie Pauts. That was pretty cool.

The Thoughts of Others
I try not to live in a silo. Sometimes, I miss the mark. Via Twitter and this blog, I was able to get thoughts from some of you listening to the tribute, and I was able to read these thoughts in real-time.

Here's what some of you thought of tonight's tribute. In the comments, I'd love to hear from the rest of you.

If they missed him so much why did they fire him? I think its too little too late. - Buffalo Boy

Edge is dead to me. - @Sinnacledotcom

Maybe I'm just bitter, but it's really too bad that Streek's unfortunate death prompted Corus to properly acknowledge him. - @bkblades

Fired or not, I think it's a good move for the Edge to provide a tribute. There are years of history there. - @chadtweets

Last night at The Phoenix was a tad creepy and by far the best 102.1 live-to-air music played in a while. We have to remember that there are a lot of friends of Martin still at 102.1. They didn't fire him, management did. - @CraigMarketer

Choosing to think the tribute is coming from staff, rather than the machine. And the song choices so far seem to support that. - @CarrieGee

Cynic in me thinks they felt like they had to do something or they'd look bad. But there's genuine desire to pay tribute too. - @snosk

It's taken them THIS long to come up with a tribute? Waiting this long is just as bad as not having one at all. - @mike_cluett

I was disgusted to hear that CFNY was doing this tribute today. Firstly because, yes, indeed - they did fire the man 2 months ago and secondly because it took them 2 effing weeks to put it together. If the tribute was truly genuine it would have happened last Tuesday. As for Marsden's tribute - that was awesome - listened to and loved every minute. - Sarah

The other issue I am having with CFNY is that they are still running Martin's promo spots. Not cool CFNY - not cool. It seems to me like they are now trying to capitalize off of his death, given that they did not even acknowledge back in May that he was 'leaving' the station and did no tribute to his work at that time. This late in the game, a tribute seems like a ploy to cover up that they had fired him or a gimmick to get back in the public's good graces for having canned Streek in the first place given the recent negative backlash online for their poor handling of the situation. - Sarah

I was listening to it driving from the city... a few of the people are a little too bubbly if you ask me. - @Noeleen1

I'm listening now.....the music is good and they are saying some nice things, but they are making sound like he never left. They talk about how important he was to the Edge and music. What a bunch of hypocritical crap! - Hector

There's a great article in the Star this weekend about Billy from 99.9 only taking 6 weeks for mat leave because she didn't want to be away from her 'audience' for too long. It's a good article about what radio people mean to their listener's. I'm not so sure radio today is like it was a while ago - with that connection, but, as someone who knew Martin for a long time (I'm an old employee) he had a rabid and loyal following and the tribute Marsden played two weeks ago was outstanding. I can't bear to listen to what's on right now. - Andrew

Marsden's tribute was like a raw wake, while the Edge one is a "memorial" with more time to consider. The family is the family. - @valerieinto

I keep having dreams about Martin Streek - BNL did a lot of remotes, etc with him in the early days. So fucking sad. - @stevenpage

The Shitty Facts
Radio is a business. Corus is a corporation seeking to maximize returns. A friend of mine in the biz once told me, "it's a business run by douche bags who never did the thing that the talent they control do, and that's relate to the audience".

Program directors fire people all the time. If you like the personality getting the boot, you hate this. When you dislike the personality getting the boot, you like this. I liked Martin Streek, so his firing understandably pissed me off.

Martin Streek felt he had no other option than to take his own life. It's easy for us to scream at the top of our lungs that he had so many other options, but that's irrelevant. His state of mind had him convinced he'd be better off dead. At the end of the day, this is the shittiest fact of all.

Moving On
To Martin's mother, his girlfriend and those who loved him in the "real world", my sincere condolences. If I've been feeling this weight for two weeks, I can only imagine what you've been feeling. Just know that he made an impact and won't soon be forgotten.

To fellow fans like myself, we need to move on. I suggest we download the five hour tribute to Martin hosted by David Marsden on The Rock. The MP3s are waiting for us at https://www.torontomike.com/2009/07/martin_streek_tribute_with_dav.html.

We'll always have the memories and we'll always have the music. Martin Streek, rest in peace.


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Live Blogging 97.3 EZ Rock's Morning Show

RadioI've made my way to Yonge and St. Clair. I'm sitting beside Humble, watching the action. I actually couldn't tap into this highly encrypted EZ Rock WiFi, but Humble has given me access to his PC. What a sweetie...

5:54 - They just played Johnny Nash. Apparently that happens a lot. By the way, before I forget... I heard Kid Rock on EZ Rock this morning. No foolin'...

The room is smaller than I expected. Heather and Andy are on one side of the desk and I'm on the side with Colleen, Kim and Humble. Humble is showing me the sheets of paper he has that tell him the name of the songs with the seconds before the lyrics kick in and lots of other neat info, like the year it was released, the length, etc.

6:02 - I've asked everyone the first question of the morning. I asked them what time their alarms go off in the morning. I can tell you mine went off at 4:40 and I'm exhausted. Kim's alarm goes off at 3:50, she hits the snooze button once or twice, than it goes off again at 4. Colleen's goes off at 3:45 and Humble's at 3:30. Andy, the producer, gets up at 3. He also just showed me a sweet pic of him and Kid Rock at the Kool Haus.

6:14 - 6am is a big deal around here. That's when Starbucks opens. I sure sounded like a dolt asking Heather for a double-double.

6:18 - There's definitely a little prep action while the tunes play. They discuss who will start, they divvy up the tasks and then it all goes down live. It's not too scripted, except for the "3 things to make your life better" bit they're doing right now. That's pre-written and printed on paper before them. Coffee's here!

6:24 - Colleen Rusholme just told me I look like Chris O'Donnell.

6:30 - This screen Andy has is pretty cool. The ads are queued up with a countdown clock, the songs are above also queued up, he gives the "talent" a head's up when there's one minute left then they watch the clock tick down the last ten seconds. There's a red light right above my head that tells me when to shut up.

6:33 - Colleen does the world's worst Don Cherry impersonation. Rick Hodge just walked in. Hey Ma, I just shook hands with Hodgy! They're all going debate the new CBC anthem thing. In all honesty, I haven't been following this contest as I'm still bitter about the CBC losing the rights to the anthem we all know and love. Rick hasn't heard these tunes either, so we're both getting our first listen in minutes. First, Soft Cell.

6:37 - I'm hearing these potential anthems and all I'm thinking is that they should have gone with The Hip's "Lonely End of the Rink".

6:44 - I just had a nice chat with Colleen. She's really sweet. I asked her about adjustments she had to make going from a two person show to a four person show. She was honest with me, telling me that it was tough at first. With four personalities in the room, there was lots of talk during breaks about who would pipe in when, but now that they've been together as a team for a couple of months, they're much better at anticipating who speaks when. In other words, practise makes perfect.

6:53 - I have seen the future. Coming up, Amy Sky, Train and Madonna.

6:55 - Colleen and Kim do like to sing some of these tunes. They love this Amy Sky song, "Love Pain and the Whole Damn Thing". They actually sound really good together. They're singing right now.

7:01 - Until right now, these folks hadn't seen anything I've written. Andy and Colleen just visited torontomike.com on their respective computers and they were excited to read the four comments. So comment, they're reading what you write.

I've asked everybody if they nap in the afternoons. They all do. Humble tells me that back in the Humble & Fred days he didn't nap, but he went to bed at 9. Now he stays up later to hang with his kids, and he naps every afternoon. They're prepping for the Brent Butt thing right now.

7:07 - If you haven't heard, it's going to be a sunny and warm weekend. I've been here for 90 minutes and I've heard that now about 132 times.

7:09 - Finally, Humble has told EZ Rock's listeners that this is happening. He also thrust the microphone in my face and I went on the air. I'm no Venus Flytrap... Welcome EZ Rock listeners. Enjoy your stay at torontomike.com and check out the archives to catch up on the past 6 years.

7:16 - I just asked Kim and Colleen about their most embarrassing on-air moments. Kim's happened recently when she was interviewing Jeanne Beker. She mentioned to Jeanne that she loved performing "Jerk" on stage with her at a Magna event. Jeanne had absolutely no recollection of this event.

Colleen was interviewing Jane Seymour and mentioned to Jane that she loved her in Queenie. Jane politely told Colleen that she wasn't in Queenie. Colleen replied with "yes you were!".

Humble blew up a $175,000 client. I'm going to get the details on that one later...

7:23 - They're prepping right now about who's saying what and when with regards to the "what do you have to have at Thanksgiving dinner" question. The Longos guy was just in the studio and I wanted to ask him if turkeys can fly.

7:28 - I asked Kim and Colleen about the post-show ritual. At 9 they leave our airwaves, but when does their work day end? After each show, they record promos for the next days show. Then, they prep for the next days show. Their typical day ends at any time between 10:30 and 1:00.

7:33 - Ok, you had to be here for that big slice of funny we just shared. What do you have in your sauce? The raw footage, edited before aired, was hilarious.

7:36 - Rick Hodge is back. Hear that, mom! I just asked him who is his favourite interview was. He said it's Bill "Spaceman" Lee and Weird Al Yankovic.

Humble says it's Kevin Smith, but he also loved interviewing John Cusack and John Hurt.

Colleen loved interviewing Bill Cosby and Roseanne Cash. I'd like to interview one of Cosby's sweaters.

7:41 - Driving here this morning, I heard John Tesh on EZ Rock. When I got here, I tried to hunt him down. That guy must blow outta here seconds after his show ends at 5:30!

7:45 - I just snapped some pictures I'll post later today. I had Colleen take a picture of me with Hodgy. And yes, I'll still be posting a Leafs update the morning after each game... I've just been a little busy this morning.

7:53 - I'm starting to get comfy here... I'm thinking EZ Mornings with Humble, Kim, Colleen, Rick and Toronto Mike has a nice ring to it.

I just asked Humble about what adjustments he's had to make going from a two-man booth to a four-person booth. He tells me the hardest adjustment he's had to make is getting used to working with three attractive young women.

7:57 - I just found out that Colleen and I are the same age. She and Howard both change their sleeping patterns on the weekends, and no, they don't sleep together. Colleen will sleep until 10am if possible on a Saturday or Sunday. Humble gets up between 6 and 7.

8:04 - Tesh alert! Tesh alert!

8:10 - Kim just sang a little 12 Years Old for us - that's a great tune I remember from MuchMusic back in the day. We're talking live to John Tesh right now. Humble promises to remind the EZ Rock listeners that this is happening, so stay tuned for another Toronto Mike promo.

8:14 - I've once again seen the future, and it's full of Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Bryan Adams, Leona Lewis and John Mayer.

8:17 - I've been hanging here, watching the action for almost three hours now, and it's a lot of fun. Everyone is sweet, they are truly having a blast, and it all just sort of comes together. As a guy who fell in love with radio watching WKRP, this is like that without the turntable and tape where walls would be if there were walls. This is just too much fun to be work.

8:20 - I've asked everyone one of the questions asked in the comments. I asked what they would change about their jobs, other than the salary. Unanimously, everyone would change the hours. In other words, hosting the morning show is awesome except for the fact it happens to take place in the morning.

8:25 - They just gave away a trip to Sea World. They actually tape the call with the winner and then play it from the tape about a minute later. I'm guessing that's in case the winner swears. Actually, Howard tells me it's to shorten it so it fits with the song and everything. Humble's Shamu impersonation is a big hit in this room.

8:29 - Humble promises the Toronto Mike promo is happening next. Colleen just did this neat gambling thing that's hard to explain. She gauged my luck with this finger trick. Yeah, you have to see it to know what I'm talking about.

Rick is back. He walks over from the CFRB broadcast room down the hall and now he's going to talk about the Jimmy Fallon "every song from the 80s can be sung to MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This". I actually posted that song on this blog earlier in the week when sharing the literal version of A-Ha's "Take On Me".

8:37 - The girls are singing along to Crowded House. I saw that this song was highlighted on Howard's song cheat sheet. It turns out the highlighting was to tell him this is the song of the day. It's a great song.

8:43 - I just dropped some Maestro Fresh Wes on these guys. Seriously, I hit 'em up with some "Let Your Backbone Slide".

I just got my 2nd promo of the show and my 2nd on-air shot. This time, I actually felt more comfortable. I'd consider a career in radio, except for the weak-ass voice and face for television and, in all honesty, I can't afford the pay cut.

8:56 - We've wrapped up here... it's been fun and the show flew by. It felt like 20 minutes...

I'll chime in with some final thoughts later, right now I'm getting booted off this PC!

11:17 - After the show I joined Humble, Kim and Colleen in another studio where they recorded promos for Tuesdays show. I also got a pic with Colleen and met Jessica Baker and Jim Richards. Jim actually recognized me from when we met almost two years ago which was pretty cool.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I'll answer them there.

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Finding Bill Barilko

LeafsThose who Google Bill Barilko usually end up at my tribute to Bashin' Bill. Here's the summary I wrote for that page.

It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs.

The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship.

Marlene Pearce found my Bill Barilko page via a Google search and sent me the following note.

I am the daughter of Ron Boyd who was the helicopter pilot who found the crash site of Bill Barilko and Dr. Hudson's Fairchild 24. If you'd like more information and articles, government letters, etc. from my dad's scrapbook, I would be happy to share this with you. The story of the discovery of the site is quite interesting.

As you can imagine, I was very interested in everything Marlene could share with me about the discovery of Barilko's crash site. This is something I want to share with fellow fans of the legend of Bill Barilko. This, in essence, is why I blog.

Marlene sent me four images I'm sharing below. The verbiage above each image are Marlene's words. If you click a picture, it will take you to the Flickr page for the image where you can view it at a larger size.

1. Newspaper Article explaining the entire situation around the discovery of the plane and crash site. I think you'll find it interesting. My father's name was Ron Boyd and he was with his engineer, Mr. Phil Weston.

Barilko Newspaper2

2. A photo from the newspaper of the wreckage, along with original photos my father took with his camera of the wreckage, and the crash site as he and Mr. Phil Weston flew over it.

Barilko Newspaper Pictures & Photo3

3. A letter from the Department of Lands and Forests giving a commendation to my father and to those involved in the discovery.

Barilko Letter fromDOLF3

4. A letter from F. A. MacDougall, Deputy Minister to the Department of Lands and Forests re: my father's work in this case.

Barilko Letter sent to DOLF

Thanks, Marlene, for taking the time to scan these images and send them to me. It pleases me that this exercise brought back wonderful memories of your father and his career.

He's our Buddy Holly, immortalized by the Hip's "Fifty Mission Cap", and scorer of the 1951 Stanley Cup winner for my beloved Maple Leafs. Every year, Bill Barilko's legend grows.

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Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song Dropped?

cbcHave we heard our second national anthem for the last time during the opening of Hockey Night in Canada? The Star is reporting that's entirely possible.

The licence agreement to use the song expired with the final game of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, according to statements posted this week on the website hockeytheme.com.

On the website, Copyright Music and Visuals president John Ciccone says CBC has advised his company, which controls use of the song, and composer Dolores Claman that it is not prepared to sign a new agreement.

As a loyal Hockey Night in Canada viewer for over twenty years, there are three constants I'd like to see continue for as long as possible.

  1. Bob Cole calling Leafs games
  2. Don Cherry hosting Coach's Corner
  3. Dolores Claman's Hockey Night in Canada song opening the broadcast

Call me a nostalgia addict who rejects change, but the removal of any of the above three elements will prompt me to pull out my typewriter and write angry letters to the CBC.

It's upsetting just thinking about it. Cue that tune...

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The Alpha-Getti Gobbler Ad

rewindBlogging is one of the cooler hobbies. If there's something I can't find anywhere, I just need to write about it and eventually someone who can help me will find my entry and make my day. This happened with the Saint Ralph soundtrack, when I couldn't find or buy Gord Downie's version of "Hallelujah", and it's happened again.

In April 2007 I found myself blurting out "you're the Alpha-Getti Gobbler" to my daughter. That sparked a memory of an Alpha-Getti commercial I saw numerous times as a kid. I hit the web searching for the ad or at least a screen cap and I came up empty. That's when I wrote this entry about the Alpha-Getti Gobbler, now #1 when you Google this elusive beast.

Over a year passed until Ryan Barnett left a comment on that entry. He was Googling the ad and found my entry. Ryan Barnett was one of the three children in the Alpha-Getti Gobbler ad and he had the advertisement on DVD. That sparked this Gobbler alert from earlier today.

Not only has Ryan agreed to an interview, but he's already ripped the ad to a digital file that he's kindly emailed to me. I promptly uploaded the vid to my YouTube account, and now, without further ado, I'm sharing the hold grail of canned pasta ads. Here's the Alpha-Getti Gobbler.

Related entries:

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It's the Interface, Stupid

flickrI instantly hated the idea of Microsoft buying Yahoo!. Microsoft may be the big boys on the desktop, but they've always sucked at the web. Google and Yahoo either started or bought up most of the web sites and services that work, everything from YouTube to Gmail to Flickr. Microsoft has never launched a well-accepted web 2.0 web services suite, in fact, every time they attempt to compete they fail miserably.

Back in 2004, I fell in love (if you can fall in love with a web service) with Flickr. Flickr was founded by Ludicorp, a nice little Canadian company, and in 2004 I actually paid Flickr money for a pro account. I never pay for anything on the web, so the fact I was willing to hand over actual coin is all the evidence of my loyalty you need. This was something worth paying for, a photo sharing website that enhanced my life.

Why did Flickr work while many other photo sharing sites failed? Lord knows I tried several before falling for Flickr. What did Ludicorp do that Microsoft was never able to do? The answer is simple. It's the interface, stupid.

Flickr reflected a brilliant user interface that evolved into the epitome of Web 2.0 utilizing Ajax techniques that made one forget they were in a browser. Uploading pictures, tagging them, embedding them on the web and organizing ones photos isn't just easy, it's a pleasure. Flickr understands the importance of user interface and when they built a better mousetrap, passionate users followed in droves.

Flickr users aren't just users, they're part of a vibrant community. Creating passionate users is precisely what Microsoft fails at time and time again. Passionate users grow abundantly in such fertile ground. When Yahoo! bought Flickr, they understood what they had purchased and let it be. Other than forcing Flickr users to tie their accounts to a Yahoo! login, Yahoo! hasn't caused a single disruption in the force. Flickr is better than ever with several awesome upgrades of late. I'm happily sharing 4,713 photos right now, and it's all because of Flickr's interface.

If/when Microsoft buys Yahoo!, they'll own Flickr as well. I'm actually dreading this transition. I don't trust Microsoft to "let it be". They've proven time and time again that they don't get it. They don't lure passionate users because they don't do good user interface. If they end up with Flickr and don't announce plans to sell it to someone who cares, I'll leave the community.

I'll leave with my 4,713 photos and every ounce of my passion.

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17 and Out: A Toronto Tradition Ends

podcastNow that both Humble and Fred have publicly stated it, I can finally write this entry. There will be no 18th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas show. Not on the radio or in podcast form. After 17 years, this annual Toronto tradition has come to an end.

Fans of the show will tell you this streak wasn't really in tact anyway. Back in 1991 Humble was at CKFM-FM while Fred was still at CFNY and in 2005 the show went on without Fred who had been relieved of his duties at Mix 99.9. Still, we all got together for the 18th annual show last December, against all odds, and it felt awfully special.

That's right, I said "we". I was invited to Dan Duran's house that Saturday morning we recorded the podcast and I took a bunch of pictures. Although I've known there would be no 18th Christmas show for some time, I had no idea I was witnessing the end of an era on December 16, 2006. At the time, I assumed we'd be doing it all again in December 2007. I was wrong.

As a fan, this truly sucks. The on-air chemistry between Humble Howard and Freddie P was awesome. They complemented each other so well, and watching them do their thing was like watching a long-time married couple complete each other's sentences. As a fan, I think it stinks that I can't hear another podcast and laugh my ass off.

On a personal level, it saddens me. I've grown quite close to Howard, we chat often about a variety of subjects and hook up whenever possible, and lately I've spent more time chatting with Fred and getting to know him. Both guys are solid citizens with unique talents and it would be a treat to watch them share a mic one more time. I root for both in their post-Humble & Fred careers, but it's tough when you think they're better when they're together. Like a long-time marriage, it's not necessarily forever. They've moved on, and so must we.

As I mentioned last month, I secured a complete backup of the old humbleandfred.com and I'm hosting it for posterity's sake. You can revisit the 17th Annual Christmas Show web page and listen to last year's podcast. You can stream it from that page, subscribe to the podcast or download the MP3. I covered all the bases. Trust me, it's a year old, but it's still hilarious. And now, it's bitter sweet.

Below is me, Bingo Bob, Fred Patterson, Dan Duran, Scary Bald Headed Pete and Humble Howard Glassman after we recorded the 17th and final Humble & Fred Christmas Show on December 16, 2006.

The Gang

For waking me up every weekday morning of the 90s, for making me laugh and for helping me through both high school and university, thanks...

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OK Blue Jays (Let’s Play Ball!)

bluejaysAbout a year ago I asked you good people for an MP3 of the Toronto Blue Jays' official song, "OK Blue Jays (Let's Play Ball!)". Hours later I had it, and I meant to share it with everyone but somehow forgot.

Listening to today's Jays game against the Orioles I heard John McDonald put down a perfect bunt with players on the corners. Everyone was safe and I was just happy to hear the suicide squeeze was still a part of the game. That got me singing this song and finally, 15 months after the fact, I'm sharing it with you all.

Sing it loud, sing it proud. The lyrics are below the player, as if you'll need them...

You've got a diamond
You've got nine men
You've got a hat and a bat
And that's not all
You've got the bleachers
Got 'em from spring 'til fall
You got a dog and a drink
And the umpire's call
Waddaya want?
Let's play ball!

Is that a fly ball
Or is it a seagull
Coming in from the lake
Just to catch the game?
It's the last inning
Our guys are winning
Dave's put down a smoker
A strike
And you've got no doubt
(You're out!)
Waddaya want?
Let's play ball!

Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

It's a beautiful evenin', fans
At the ballpark
When the game starts
Warm summer breezes
Sun's goin' down
And it's all dark
At the ballpark
But that's okay…it's a night game

Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

Bring on the White Sox
Bring on the BoSox
Bring on the Brewers
The Rangers and the Yankees too
We'll beat the Indians
We'll beat the Tigers
We'll beat the A's so bad it'll make
Billy blue
Waddaya want?
Let's play ball!

Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

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And Barry Bonds Can't Play for Everyone

mlbBarry Bonds sent a 2-1 pitch from rookie Rick Vanden Hurk over the wall in left-center in the first inning last night for a solo shot in the San Francisco Giants 12-10 win over the Florida Marlins. It was the 754th home run of his career.

I'm stunned by how muted the hype is surrounding this pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, but I'm not shocked. In addition to the clear (and cream) signs of steroid use, Bonds is one major league son of a bitch. He's nearly impossible to like as a human being, even when acknowledging he might be the best hitter to ever play the game.

Over the past five years, I've written quite a bit about Bonds. It's the Bonds conundrum: he's statistically awesome but he's an arrogant SOB who artificially enhanced his power.

Personally, I'm not happy that this imminent moment will replace the one you're about to hear. Listen to this, enjoy the goosebumps and understand why Barry Bonds hitting 755 and 756 isn't nearly as significant as it ought to be.

Sorry, Barry... but karma can be an awful bitch at times.

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