Best of Toronto Mike


Wendel Clark Is All Heart

leafsBeing a Maple Leafs fan in the 80s was tough. There were some awful teams in that decade, but hope arrived in the mid 80s when we drafted #17, Wendel Clark.

I will never forget the 1985-86 post season when we swept the Chicago Black Hawks in three games. That was when my brothers and I first broke out the Diet Coke. You would have thought we had just won the cup. Wendel was our leader and a member of The Hound Line with Russ Courtnall and Gary Leeman. We took the St. Louis Blues to a seventh game before bowing out. We went just as deep the next season, too.

Wendel Clark scored the overtime winner in the greatest game I ever saw. My brother Ryan proudly wore his #17 jersey and we all suffered during his long periods of inactivity due to injuries. Clark was our guy and pound for pound the toughest player you'll ever see playing the game. Doug Gilmour remains my favourite Leaf, but Clark was the definitive Leaf.

This video is entitled "All Heart" and it's a fitting tribute to the man who led us seven games deep in the second round in 1986 and gave me my first taste of the thrill a playoff series victory brings.


Discuss "Wendel Clark Is All Heart" (2 comments so far)


Michelle Can't Wait For Sunday Morning

familyI mentioned Michelle loves to sing. One of her favourite songs to sing is k-os' "Sunday Morning". She just loves that song.

This morning, which just happened to be a Sunday morning, she was singing this song while she coloured. I thought it was pretty damn cute and took a little video with my digital camera. Here's Michelle singing a little "Sunday Morning".


Discuss "Michelle Can't Wait For Sunday Morning" (0 comments so far)


Andrew Lockington Sheds Light On The Hallelujah Mystery

emailI received a fantastic email last night from Andrew Lockington. He stumbled upon my "A Homemade Hallelujah" entry in which I spread my love for Gord Downie's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that appeared in the movie "Saint Ralph". Here's his email.

Hey man,
I was the composer on Saint Ralph and am amazed that the orchestral version of Hallelujah I arranged for Gord has such a following. Thanks for finding a way to get it to all these people.

Best,
Andrew

I then asked Andrew the million dollar question, the question many of us have been wondering about. I asked him why this exceptional song was never released as part of a soundtrack or as a single. Here's what he told me.

There was a soundtrack deal all lined up for the film which included the source music and the two versions of Hallelujah (the orchestral and the acoustic) and a combined version which starts out acoustically and the big orchestra joins in part way through. Someone dropped the ball and didn't get the material to the record label on time. They concluded they couldn't have the CD pressed in time for the film's release, and thus it wasn't worth putting it out. It was a real shame because there'd been a few companies willing and interested in putting out the soundtrack.

It was sure interesting to find your website. The song has been either praised or bashed by a lot of people all over the world. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it. The vocal take used in the film was truly magical. We were all so moved while Gord was singing this take (including Gord). I think it really shows through.

Best,
A

I've been seeking that kind of awesome detail for years and I'm sure others have as well. In fact, I know others have, because my "A Homemade Hallelujah" entry currently has 141 comments.

Thanks Al! To make life easier for all of us, I've created a category for these Gord Downie's Hallelujah entries at https://www.torontomike.com/gord_downies_hallelujah/.

Discuss "Andrew Lockington Sheds Light On The Hallelujah Mystery" (10 comments so far)


It's All About Me

notepadAs I enter my fifth year of blogging, I find myself 360° from where I began. In the beginning, I was writing for a few members of my family and a few friends. That was my audience and the stats proved it. I remember when I first saw the number of unique visitors creep into double digits and I recall being surprised when there were returning visitors who weren't friends or family. In the beginning, I didn't care how many people were reading, I was just having a blast writing.

At some point a couple of years ago, I saw the number of daily visitors hit triple digits and I slightly modified my focus. Heading into 2006 I decided to blog less about the completely Mike Boon-centric aspects of my life and more about subjects that would appeal to the average Torontonian or displaced Torontonian. I started focusing on the traffic, I moved to Movable Type, opened all entries up to comments and even added ads to the interior.

In 2006 I saw the number of daily visitors hit quadruple digits but I realized the content of my blog would never have mass appeal. If I wanted more eyeballs and if I actually wanted to make any money from this, I'd have to dramatically modify my entire approach to this blog. It would become less interesting for my family and friends but more interesting to the thousands of new visitors who hit this site after Googling. I'd have to sacrifice the current organic state of my writing for a more manipulative, skewed approach designed to increase returning visitors. I'd also have to add sponsored links to the home page.

Here we are in 2007 and I find myself right back where I started. I'm going to write about what I want to write about, regardless of whether there are 20 people reading or 20,000 people reading. I'll always be naturally curious as to how people get to this site, but I'm not going to care about how many unique visitors there are or how many returning visitors there are. It just doesn't matter.

From now on, it's all about me. This is a hobby, a public display of a passion for writing. It's Mike Boon-centric and you can either visit or not. I'm a regular guy who loves his family, his city, his hockey team, his music and his Simpsons. When something interests me, I'll write about it. Everyone is welcome to follow along, but when I write I'm writing for a few members of my family and a few friends.

It's just like it was in the beginning.

Discuss "It's All About Me" (4 comments so far)


The 17th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas Show

microphoneI was lucky enough to be a little slice of broadcast history this weekend. Regular visitors to this site have seen me write about The Humble & Fred radio show. It began in 1989 on CFNY-FM (later renamed Edge 102) and was the morning show I awoke to until it moved to Mojo 640 in April 2001. The team was broken up in the summer of 2005 when Fred Patterson was relieved of his duties at Mix 99.9. In July 2006, Humble Howard experienced the same cruel fate.

For many a Humble & Fred fan, their annual Christmas show was a highlight of the season. This Christmas marked the first time in seventeen years that neither was on the radio. The Humble & Fred Christmas Show was dead... or was it? I received a call on the QT from Humble on December 8th in which we discussed the logistics of recording a Christmas show and sharing it at humbleandfred.com. On December 10th I wrote a plan of a attack and received a late night call from Humble indicating it was a definite go. I threw a temporary countdown page at humbleandfred.com and was told to be at Dan Duran's house on December 16 at 10:30 in the morning. I was going to be the embedded journalist as history unfolded.

It had been well over a year since the two conversed on the mic as they had daily for over sixteen years, so I knew this was something special. I was also a fan of their folksy charm and humour that never failed to make me laugh. I charged the battery of my digital camera and made the short stroll to Dan's house yesterday morning unsure of what to expect but certain I'd be witnessing something extraordinary.

In addition to Dan Duran who was producing the show in his home office, his wife and son were mingling about when I showed up. Soon thereafter, Humble Howard arrived with his daughter Spencer, followed by Fred Patterson, Scary Bald Headed Pete (who is no longer bald) and Bingo Bob. Dan, Pete and Bob were all former producers of the Humble & Fred show making me the one person in the room who had never appeared on the radio show. My plan was to not pollute the process, take it all in and snap a ton of pictures.

The first thing I noticed was how natural and genuine it all seemed. There was some discussion about how it would all unfold, some audio checks and arrangement of the non-live material and then it was show time. It was all so slick, Humble and Fred anticipated each other so well, it was like watching a couple that's been together so long they finish each other's sentences. Even better, it's totally organic. No scripts, no second takes, just a natural flow that's both endearing and hilarious. The warm and fuzzy nature of the hour long show is perfect for this time of year. The Baileys Irish Creme in the coffee didn't hurt either. By the end of the show, Dan's wife was literally preparing martinis. It was the most fun you can have on a Saturday morning without taking your clothes off.

The show itself included a frank discussion about what transpired since Mix 99.9, a recollection of Christmas shows past, some great performances by The Doo Wops and Barenaked Ladies, the annual favourite "Snow Removal Machine" and a number of great Humble & Fred exchanges that make you scratch your head and wonder why these two are still out of work.

On the morning of December 22, the 17th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas Show will be available at humbleandfred.com. You will be able to stream it from the site or download the MP3. If you were ever a fan of the Humble & Fred morning show, or if you're just curious what all the fuss is about and in the holiday spirit, you're going to want to check this out.

Throughout the broadcast yesterday morning I was overwhelmed with this tingling feeling that had nothing to do with Baileys or Jackie's martinis. A large media company forced Humble and Fred off of their airwaves ending a seventeen year run in Canada's largest market. Without a time slot on terrestrial or satellite radio, the Christmas show survived. Think of the Grinch stealing all the Christmas trees and presents in Whoville. The Whos' holiday spirit could not be crushed just as Humble and Fred's voice could not be silenced. You can take their jobs, but they belong to us.

Take a moment to check out my Humble and Fred Holiday Reunion photoset. Witness history in the making for yourself. I was honoured to be a part of it.

The Gang

Discuss "The 17th Annual Humble & Fred Christmas Show" (33 comments so far)


My Ten Favourite Song References to A Canadian Place

cassetteYesterday I wrote about songs that reference Canada. I promised I'd share my ten favourite musical references to my home and native land. Here are my top ten with apologies to Stompin' Tom Connors.

"Bobcaygeon" by The Tragically Hip - I'm starting this list with Bobcaygeon because it's a village of 2500 people, nestled along the Trent-Severn Waterway in the Kawarthas area of east-central Ontario, Canada. Throw in a shout out to Toronto that always gets the loudest cheer during local Hip shows and it can't be left off this list. Did I mention it's also a spectacular song?

"The Spirit of Radio" by Rush - There are two CFNYs... the "Spirit of Radio" CFNY which sort of died in the late 80s and the "Modern Rock" CFNY that my generation knows. This song is about that first CFNY.

"Further Again" by Staggered Crossing - I've always liked this song. It's cut from the same cloth as "Little Bones" and opens with the great lyric "Heading out on the 401, don't it make you nervous". The 401, baby!

"Runnin' Back To Saskatoon" by The Guess Who - This song had to make this list because this tune is home grown. It's all about Saskatchewan and some town where nothing much ever happens.

"The Old Apartment" by Barenaked Ladies - This song broke around the time Taryn and I were moving into our first shitty apartment. I dig the tune and the local setting. They bought an old house on the Danforth for goodness sake.

"Prairie Town" by Randy Bachman and Neil Young - Bachman and Young are jamming about prairie life with that great refrain "Portage and Main fifty below". It doesn't get much more Canadian than this.

"Wheat Kings" by The Tragically Hip - The Hip get a second mention on this list because "Wheat Kings" is so damn pretty. It's one of my all-time favourite Hip songs and that's saying something. It's about David Milgaard and starts with a loon call and even mentions the CBC. It still gives me chills.

"Helpless" by Neil Young - If you put a gun to my head and made me pick one Neil Young song, this might be it. Again, it's stunningly beautiful and opens with "There is a town in north Ontario". Helpless, helpless, helpless.

"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" by Gordon Lightfoot - On the Ask MetaFilter page that sparked this discussion I went on the record by saying "two songs are so drenched in Canadiana your playlist won't be complete without them." This is one...

"Northwest Passage" by Stan Rogers - This is the other essential song that has to conclude this list of songs that reference Canadian places. It's a definite sing-along that opens with "Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage". If you haven't heard this song and would like to, leave a comment below (include your email address, it won't appear on the site) and I'll email it to you. It's the least I can do for my country.

Discuss "My Ten Favourite Song References to A Canadian Place" (5 comments so far)


Pond of Dreams

hockeyI was bouncing around YouTube looking for NHL content when I saw someone had posted Pond of Dreams. This was a 2.5 minute clip that aired prior to the 2000 all-star game. I remember watching it then and getting goose bumps.

Lemieux's lines are a little stiff and it's a fairly manipulative piece, but it still gives me chills. They're playing me like a fiddle and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

The official NHL videos from YouTube can be found here. It's worth visiting daily for the play of the night.

Discuss "Pond of Dreams" (1 comment so far)


20 Songs For My Funeral

bereavementA couple of weeks ago I wrote about a survey conducted in Britain to learn what the most requested funeral songs are. Naturally, this got me wondering what songs I'd choose for my funeral.

I'm really hoping my funeral is so far in the distance that I'll have plenty of time to revise this list over the years, but after a couple of weeks of thought, here are twenty songs for my funeral.

I Am Mine - Pearl Jam
"I know I was born
And I know that I'll die
The in between is mine
I am mine."

Fiddler's Green - The Tragically Hip
"He doesn't know a soul
And there's nowhere that he's really been
But he won't travel long alone
No, not in Fiddler's Green."

So Gently We Go - I Mother Earth
"I've heard the sound
That silence makes
And I realize the world
Can break
From the inside out
Or outside in
On a breath of wind."

Danny Boy - Johnny Cash
"Oh Danny boy
the pipes the pipes are calling
from glen to glen and down the mountain side
the summer's gone and all the roses falling
it's you it's you must go and I must bide."

Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
"I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."

O Death - Ralph Stanley
"O, Death
Won't you spare me over til another year
Well what is this that I can't see
With ice cold hands takin' hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I'll open the door to heaven or hell."

In My Life - The Beatles
"Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more."

The Circle Game - Joni Mitchell
"And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We're captive on a carousel of time.
We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in the circle game."

Fire and Rain - James Taylor
"Thought I'd see you one more time again
There's just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I'd see you, thought I'd see you fire and rain, now."

Mad Word - Michael Andrews f/ Gary Jules
"And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow."

All Apologies - Nirvana
"All in all is all we all are
All in all is all we all are
All in all is all we all are
All in all is all we all are."

Angel - Jimi Hendrix
"And I said "fly on my sweet angel,
fly on through the sky,
fly on my sweet angel,
forever I will be by your side"."

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?"

Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Guns N' Roses
"Momma take this badge off of me
I can't use it anymore
It's getting dark, too dark to see
I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door."

Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson
"Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind."

Everything In Its Right Place - Radiohead
"Everything, everything, everything, everything...
In its right place
In its right place
In its right place
Right place."

The End - The Doors
"This is the end, Beautiful friend
This is the end, My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me."

Do You Realize?? - The Flaming Lips
"And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round."

The Long Road - Eddie Vedder with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
"Will I walk the long road?
I cannot stay
There's no need to say goodbye
Oh, the friends and family...
All the memories going round
Round, round round..."

Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"If I leave here tomorrow,
would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now.
'Cause there's too many places I've gotta see."

Discuss "20 Songs For My Funeral" (16 comments so far)


When Parkdale-High Park Went Orange, An Analysis

voteCheri DiNovo, the NDP candidate in yesterday's provinicial by-election in Parkdale-High Park, will replace Gerard Kennedy as our Member of Provincial Parliament. She beat Liberal candidate Sylvia Watson by more than two thousand votes. For the second time in less than a year, this riding which previously overwhelmingly supported the Liberal candidates both federally and provincially, has gone orange.

Before we look at the numbers, you might want to catch up on what you've missed with regards to this nasty little by-election. Hit the following for more information.

Since they realigned the provincial electoral districts to match the federal borders, Parkdale-High Park voted Liberal candidate Gerard Kennedy to power twice. Last time out, in 2003, he received 57.8% of the vote and won by over 16000 votes. It wasn't even close. The Liberal Party dropped from 57.8% of the vote and an overwhelming victory to 33% of the vote and a defeat to the NDP in less than three years.

The same trend can be seen federally. In 2004, Liberal candidate Sarmite Bulte won her third consecutive term as Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park. Earlier this year, she too lost to NDP candidate Peggy Nash by more than two thousand votes. The two elections, only nine months apart, are a near exact mirror of one another.

For more on January's federal election, check out these entries.

Did Parkdale-High Park turn orange or did they reject red? As a voter in the riding, in both instances I supported the NDP candidate because I was dismayed by the Liberal candidate. With Sarmite Bulte there was her conflict of interest with regards to our copyright law. With Sylvia Watson, there was the relentless assualt on Cheri DiNovo's character based on sermons she delivered to her congregation at Emmanuel Howard Park United Church. I suspect others in my riding felt the same internal pressure to vote some where else and none of us were willing to move to the right. The NDP reaped the benefits.

I'm glad the Radical Reverend survived the storm. I'm a proud supporter of both her and Peggy Nash. I think we look good in orange.

Discuss "When Parkdale-High Park Went Orange, An Analysis" (5 comments so far)


Blogging Is Social

mouseAlthough this blog has been around for almost four years, I only started accepting comments in early February. That's almost six months ago, but today a single entry received more legitimate comments than any other entry in the history of this site.

Throughout the day, well over a thousand fans of Humble Howard hit my "Humble Howard, Are You Okay?" entry from July 14. Today was the day he was expected back from vacation but instead it was announced that Mad Dog and Billie were taking over Mix 99.9 in the mornings. This prompted thousands to Google Humble Howard which led people in massive waves to that entry. We're at 56 comments and counting, blowing away all previous records.

It truly makes you appreciate this brave new world we live in. People from all over the GTA (and a few from Buffalo) awaken to realize a radio pal was off the air and one by one they hit Google in search of further details. Without a doubt, a quick entry I wrote on July 14th because of a spike in hits from people wondering if Humble Howard Glassman had left 99.9 has become the de-facto Humble Howard tribute page where people are sharing their feelings about the man, offering him and his family support and expressing to Mix 99.9 management that they are not happy. Humble himself has chimed in.

Blogging is social. There's dynamic interaction. A topic is introduced and a virtual discussion open to anyone with internet access is encouraged. Voices are heard, in hours fans conglomerate and all principles involved can follow the discourse. Aware of the relevance, more are able to find this discussion thanks to extremely high rankings in Google, such as this #1 ranking for a search on Humble Howard Glassman. In a very real sense, geography ceases to inhibit interaction and instead fuels it. Nothing is more social.

Humble Howard never got to say thanks and farewell to his audience, but now something more spectacular is possible. His audience can say thanks and farewell to him. And don't think for a moment he won't be reading every word of praise.

Now that's cool.

Discuss "Blogging Is Social" (2 comments so far)


Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next

Want more Toronto Mike blog entries? Visit the archives.