Sunday, December 28, 2008

A storm chasers photo blog

Better him than me. To paraphrase Seinfeld, the sky was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli. He's got some pretty incredible pictures: The Big Storm Picture.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

This is a perfect trip down memory lane for the holidays

Starting in 1974-75, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada added a fresh twist to their telecasts with Showdown. This intermission feature presented innovative competitions featuring current and former NHL superstars. Lanny MacDonald, Johnny Bower, Börje Salming and Chico Resch are just a few of the hockey greats competing in the 1978 series of one-on-one matchups and mini-games featured here. Offence or defence, old-timers or current greats, Showdown had something for all hockey fans.

Check out this archival footage of the great Perrault v. MacLeish battle of Showdown '78.

Can you imagine if they tried to bring Showdown back today? I really can't believe they used to do this segment. By the way, it has to be said, MacLeish had a killer mustache!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today's Something or Other #7

What's on TV? With Neave Television the answer could be, 'just about anything'.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Its a fine line between stupid and clever

I must say, I'm a little intrigued. And a whole lot frightened. The Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York presents the White Castle and Bacon Breakfast Bake.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Haircuts as performance art?

Well, when it is Darren O’Donnell is famous for his show Haircuts by Children, in which prepubescent barbers sculpt adult dos all over the world then you are on to something. Not quite the same as when I go to Top Cuts every couple of months. Okay, every few months.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Daily Photo Blog

Continuing the Daily Photo of place X theme... here is Portland, Oregon. I must say, I really enjoyed Portland -- all of Oregon, in fact -- when I went there on vacation back at the turn of the century. Good people out there.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today's Something or Other #6

Do not click here. No, really, I don't think you can handle it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Be Funky with your digital pictures

Turn your pictures into cartoons at Be Funky!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Want to get involved and help out those less fortunate this holiday season?

One way you can help out is through the Children’s Aid Foundation's Surrogate Santa program.

The purpose of the Surrogate Santa Program is to raise the resources required to assist the children and families served by various child welfare organizations in Toronto during the holidays. For families who struggle to meet daily living expenses, the holiday season brings an added stress of the need for extra funds to provide their children with gifts and food.

Last year the program raised more than $200,000 and helped thousands of families and children in the community.

There are 3 ways to help:
  1. Make a donation to the Surrogate Santa Holiday Fund
  2. Sponsor a family in need this holiday season
  3. Become a Virtual Surrogate Santa and get your friends and family involved.
For those looking to get more directly involved in charitable work this season, has a list of volunteering opportunities for the holidays.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beer & Popcorn: Together at last

Ontario to allow drinking at the movies! That could rank pretty high in terms of news headlines you never expected to see, especially when talking about Toronto the Good.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I detect a hint of... fluoride?

From The Canadian Press:

LCBO recalls Italian wine found to be tap water

Ontario's Liquor Control Board is recalling an Italian wine, but not for the usual reasons. Some of the 1,500 ml bottles of 2007 D'Aquino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie are nothing but water.

George Soleas, the board's vice-president of quality assurance, said yesterday there is no risk to the public. "Basically, the chemical testing we have done, that was quite extensive, shows it is just tap water."

"The only reason we decided to do the public recall is because we stand behind the quality of our products 100 per cent," Soleas said. "And a lot of these products, because they are Christmas items, they are going to be gifted and I didn't want to have people surprised on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve opening this product and finding water instead of wine.

"It was a human error basically, it wasn't a tampering issue at all," he added. The problem was at the bottling plant where the bottles are flushed out with water.

"I guess someone was waiting for Jesus to turn it into wine," he joked.

Customers returning bottles to the LCBO will receive a full refund.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Using tech tools for good

Anyone looking for a test case in how Twitter can be used to pull a community together -- apart from little things like the Obama campaign, of course :-) -- might want to consider a recent Toronto phenomenon called HoHoTo. Click here for the rest of the Globe & Mail article, Twitter and "flash crowds" for good.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Googlers are using Google to google Google

Yes, I just said that and it actually is not just gobbledy gook. It is what the results of Google's 2008 Canadian zeigest report are telling us. Canadians use Google to seek what they've already found, study says

An open letter to Mats Sundin

I've tried to avoid hockey talk on this blog, but every now and then a moment so momentous, so stupendous and monumental arrives and transcends time and space*, not to mention sports. That time is now. Well, maybe. Apparently former Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin has said that he will make a decision on his hockey future by December 15th. One hopes that he is using the same calendar as the rest of us, although that is still a bit unclear given all the other deadlines that have passed.

[side note: As the late Douglas Adams used to say, "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by." If you say, 'who is Douglas Adams?', I say, 'those are fighting words', but I digress.]

So, with Mats about to make a decision I thought now was the time to act. Mats... Mr. Sundin... o' Captain my Captain... Mattie S... whatever you prefer, have I got an offer for you! How would you like to come and play for my beer league hockey team, Odelay HC? We currently have an opening for a centreman as one of ours is on the IR recovering from a knee injury.

You would be a fine addition to our noble and proud squad and would significantly boost our size, scoring, speed and Swedishness. No, our offer can't touch Vancouver's $10 million dollars per season, or compete with the bright lights of Broadway or the scathing hatred of the Philly fans. But what we can offer is a vaguely Euro sounding team name, an easy travel schedule with games always at the same location, not to mention a rink that is close to Yorkdale Shopping Centre in case you need to do any pre-grame shopping for the wife.

Furthermore, we offer you a chance to compete for a championship, as O-HC is in the thick of it this season. Finally, to sweeten the pot, we are also prepared to offer 1-2 post game beers, free stock tips, a Visa card with a low introductory interest rate and all the Allan Candy you can eat.

And no worries, I'm sure we can work something out so you get the #13 jersey. We're prepared to wait for you, big guy, but not forever. This offer is valid until December 20th and then we'll have to move on and explore other options - I hear Sean Avery might be looking for a place to skate, as is the great Claude Lemieux.

Hopefully you will consider us along with your other offers. If it doesn't work out for you and Odelay HC, I'd like to wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavours.

* That reminds me of one of my favourite, all-time movie quotes:

Vivian Jaffe: Have you ever transcended space and time?
Albert Markovski: Yes. No. Uh, time, not space... No, I don't know what you're talking about.

Do you know what movie that is from? 20 points for the first five people who guess it correctly starting... now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creating the “IT” Spot: The rise of the Crave Club

From the Supastar Collective screenplay archives by popular demand.... If this feels like it is 1,000 years old it could be because it is. As relevant today as the day it first sprung to life (in 2003) from the 'genius' minds of the Collective? You be the judge.

Creating the “IT” Spot: The rise of the Crave Club


Introduce the concept of "Glamour" and "Exclusivity"

(On screen)
Rotating shots of Sammy Davis Jr. / Rat Pack / Ocean's Eleven / Black tie elegance, velvet rope, Roaring 20s, Studio 54, 40/40 club, Carlu

Voice over What is glamour? Why do people crave it so much?


(Voice over continues)
Now, in the 21st century, exclusivity is no longer the sole preserve of the jetset elite, it has moved down the foodchain. Exclusivity and glamour can be achieved by a bar, restaurant or club, by not having a name, being hard to find or being hard to get in. The traditional concept of the velvet rope has pretty much evaporated in modern society. In response to this trend, an "IT" spot has arisen that defines glamour and exclusivity the way it was 80 years ago.


Interview with three partners at a downtown converted loft in West Queen West. Everything is painfully hip (e.g. instead of chairs there are very expensive wood blocks from LA Designs). Overall decorating theme of loft could be described as "all style, no substance". Three 30ish, nattily dressed men are gathered around a coffee table (with holes cut out of its top surface). Two sit on the wood blocks and the third on a barely functional but cool-looking couch.

Its got to be the shit. We want a Pavlovian response from people when its name is mentioned in conversation.

Chadsey Cairns (laughing)
Cutting edge... bleeding edge you could say. Yeah, so cool it hurts.

Think Jack Nicholson sitting courtside, wearing his shades at a Lakers game. Chadsey To cool for school.


(All three share a laugh)

Jenner (continuing)
Listen, sorry to interrupt. (Pause) Are we going way, WAY over the top here, trying to create a (using air quotes) 'supercool', 'restaurant at the end of the universe', uber exclusive loungey hangout, and (pause)... and, at the end of the day, are we even creating the sort of place we'd want to hang out?

What do you want to create then: Cheers?

No! Fuck that shit. Who would want a bunch of deadbeat barfly losers to know your name anyway, much less hang out with them? (Pause) Its like Marx said, "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me." You know?

Karl Marx said he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have him?

Chadsey That's weird. I thought he'd be all over club membership and that everyone would, you know, be invited.

No, you idiots, GROUCHO MARX. Groucho, not Karl, Marx. Fuck.

Yeah, well fuck Groucho Marx


On screen City shots of famous and fabulous venues (internal and external) and the fabulous people who inhabit them. Words occasionally flash on the screen:
La dolce vita
More Fab than Fab
Hype is good

Voice over
The genesis for the Crave Club, the much hyped, much discussed, extremely exclusive private club where local arts, culture and business leaders rub elbows, collaborate, share amusing anecdotes and otherwise be fabulous, came about as a result of a chance encounter by Clark in search of a party.

Interview with Clark in the loft.
He is sitting in an ultra retro/modern chair sipping a glass of red wine. Interview scene is interspersed with shots of restaurants/bars without visible signs (e.g. Johnny K restaurant on Queen East, alleyway entrance to the Fifth, Communist's Daughter on Dundas West), and a reenactment of someone trying to figure out if they are at the right location.

Yeah, I was headed to some after-party for opening night of a play. I didn't really know where I was heading, but I had a vague sense. I'm not really one for details. I figured I'd find it eventually. (Pause) Anyway, I ended up on some back alley streets and came across what looked like a happening spot. There was no sign or name anywhere, and no real evidence this place was a club... so, I figured, this must be it. I pushed open the door and walked in.

(On screen -- reenactment while Clark is speaking)
Someone looking at an unsigned building (house), pushing open an unmarked door and entering party Clark describes below.

There was a DJ spinning pounding house music. Everyone was all styled-up and dressed in black. It was a scene. I cruised in, grabbed a Stella and made for a group of good-looking ladies on the dance floor. It ended up being quite a night (smiling and rubbing his chin as he finishes)

So you found the party?

No, that's the funny thing. I walked into an entirely different party. Hell, everyone was dressed in black like they would have been at the after-party! Who knew? (Laughing) (Pause) But the thing is, the reason this place didn't have a name was because... it was a HOUSE party. It wasn't a club at all (slapping his forehead).


A couple of days later, while having cocktails at Bymark -- or was it Lobby? Doesn’t matter -- I thought, 'wait a minute, that place would have made a really cool club'. Kind of like in Swingers when Mikey says these places don't have names and that it kind of means something if you know where to find them, or something like that.


Eh voila, the idea was born.


Interview in a different loft with Chadsey and Jenner.
Chadsey is sitting in a Scandinavian chair and Jenner on a day-glo coloured couch-like piece of furniture, which is actually four cubes attached at jagged angles.

Yeah, Clark brought up this idea. We were clubbing pretty hard in those days, and it was always about finding the next hotspot before anybody else.... It was necessary to move on before the wannabes and, god forbid, the 905ers, found out about it.

The trend went from hard to find to unmarked buildings to ironic to unnamed places and now is at a combination of all these things. We feel the true "in" crowd is ready to take things to the next level.

Yeah, when we kept seeing the same people at all these new places we knew there was a viable market for something. You'd also see these people at Queen West shops, gallery openings, secret rock concerts by the current big thing or the next big thing.

So we thought why not hook these like-minded people up?

And how do we keep an IT spot from being diluted by so-called undesirables... make it a private club where you can join by invite only.

(On screen)
Shot of Crave Club membership invitation


Interview with Clark, Chadsey and Jenner Later that year after Crave has opened. Interview at an undisclosed location (very hip). Clark, Chadsey and Jenner sip champagne cocktails and are stylishly dressed.

Why the name 'Crave'? How did you come up with that?

Well, our working title was actually 'Exclusif'.

Jenner (interjecting)
But that seemed too obvious

Chadsey (nodding)
We wanted to reflect how desirable membership in this club would be. How much people would want to be a part of it.

Jenner (finishing) How much they would crave to be part of something so cool and exclusive.

The club was pretty much an instant, runaway success. How, why, or to what do you attribute your massive initial success?

The dilemma, of course, was how we could take things up a notch. And I think we stumbled upon a brilliant idea that will keep Crave exclusive and exciting for the foreseeable future. We've taken the cool, urban, New York-ish hotspot concept to, what I like to say, its most innovative incarnation.

With the introduction of our club, Toronto is now, truly, a world-class city.

Can you tell me where the club is located?

Sorry, Crave's location is a members-only secret. In fact, the location is so secret the employees don't even know where it is.

Jenner (laughing)
Sort of like the Bat Cave.

I heard it was west of Bathurst on King Street West?

(On screen)
Shots of stylishly dressed people either looking for the club on King or trying to look inconspicuous as they walk along King Street West

Chadsey (dismissively)
That's just a rumour.

Interviewer (Pulling out a file and flipping through some pages, settling on one)
We did some digging around and couldn't find any property in downtown Toronto under your names, Crave, or under the company's official name, 'The Jackboot Collective'. In fact, Crave's sole asset, outside of its membership, is a Cayman Island's bank account.


(Taking off his glasses and wiping his eyes)
The club doesn't actually, physically exist, does it?

Our members appreciate not having to actually go to the club to enjoy its exclusivity.


Fly on the wall interaction with Crave Club members

A. Scene: 40ish couple at home in trendy/posh surroundings

Wife (From other room, she is only partially visible -- e.g. legs -- but can be heard)
Honey, the Donovans will be here for dinner any minute, are you ready?

Husband (Unfolding newspaper and holding it up, blocking his face as the camera turns to him. He leans back in his chair and puts his feet up on a footstool)
I'm sorry love, I can't make it. I'm at the club.

(A few minutes later, wife invites the Donovans in -- no identifiable faces are shown)

Glad you could make it, but I have some bad news.

(She seats them in the living room. Husband is there with his feet up reading the newspaper.)

Holden (name bleeped out or otherwise obviously edited out) can't make it. He's at the club.

B. Scene: interview with Crave member, his face blurred out like in witness protection court proceedings. The member is seated in a nice leather chair in a fancy home library.

Crave changed my life. I'm regularly challenged and stimulated mentally in a way I haven't been in years. And with the contacts I've made at the club, my career has taken off in new and exciting directions.

(Wife enters; face also blurred out, and sits on arm of chair)

Member (Squeezes wife's leg)
But best of all, I met my wife at Crave.

Fade to black


Interviewer (on camera)
So there you have it, the latest, and self-styled greatest, members-only club in downtown Toronto. Private clubs have proven popular in London and New York, so we'll be keeping a close eye on Crave to see if it has legs or if its just the flavour of the month.


It does seem to be maintaining its exclusiveness. It was recently reported in the Society pages that Chadsey was denied access to the club recently because he wasn't sufficiently accomplished. The club declined to comment on that situation and its resolution.


Requests to film inside the club were politely refused by a club spokesperson, citing Crave's exclusivity and non-disclosure clause in its charter. So, unfortunately, we can't show you what ultra exclusive looks like. Instead, we will leave you with the media running on Crave's website.

Fade to black

Club logo motto up on black screen

Fade into


Fade out and into


Fade out and into

CRAVE (Club logo reappears under word after three seconds)


Monday, December 8, 2008

Today's Something or Other #5

What's in that tall, non-fat latte anyway? Find out here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The 8 Reasons Why 'They Live' Is Cinema's Greatest Achievement

Strangely enough, I was watching a little bit of the remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers the other night after dinner (while on vacation) and I thought about the Rowdy Roddy Piper (or Hot Rod!, if you prefer) movie They Live. And then, I read this blogpost from deep in the interweb: The 8 Reasons Why 'They Live' Is Cinema's Greatest Achievement. They Live is a timeless classic and Topless Robot pays tribute to 8 awesome scenes.

"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum." Awesome!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The return of the 'stache?

First the MoSpace campaign which challenged you to grow a moustache in November to raise funds to help fight prostate cancer (note: you had to get donations, like a skate-a-thon). Now Schick has a new campaign which has gone viral which leads me to ask: Are moustaches on the way back? Are they not just for doofus hipsters, cops and gay men anymore? Are moustaches cool again? We could have a '70s style recession and energy crisis on our hands, so why not grow a 'stache? Incidentally, that could be the grow a moustache slogan.

Click here for the Schick campaign and to test drive your own 'stache today.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Today's Something or Other #4

From the May 2007 Saveur comes this great tidbit: the full name of Cap'n Crunch! His proper name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch. The Horatio makes him sound British, which makes sense since his outfit looks like an English Navy get up (or something Naploean would have worn). And the Magellan gives him an air of exploration. The Crunch is straight out of Dickens. He may be Capt. H.M. Crunch aboard ship, but he'll always be Cap'n of breakfast to me.


I always thought Horatio Caine was named after Horatio from Hamlet, but this could shed some new light on the situation.