It’s “Petoria”!


In the TV series Family Guy, to which I likened Accordion City’s mayoral election, there’s an episode in which Peter Griffin discovers that thanks to a technicality, the lot on which his house was built is technically not part of the United States. Fed up with his tax hassles and the city not allowing him to build a pool on his property, he declares his house a sovereign state and names it “Petoria” (because the name “Peterland” was already taken by a gay bar down by the airport).

To carry on with the Family Guy metaphor, Toronto is now Petoria. Rob Ford, whom I likened to Peter Griffin, has decisively won the election. With 1831 out of 1870 polls reporting and 50% voter turnout, here’s how the votes break down:

Candidate Family Guy equivalent Percentage of vote
Rob Ford Peter Griffin 47%
George Smitherman Stewie Griffin 36%
Joe Pantalone Meg Griffin 12%
Every other candidate Greased-up Deaf Guy Less than 1% each

It’s a fact of democracy that at least sometimes, the candidate you want to win doesn’t. Or perhaps more accurately, the candidate for whom you feel great distaste does. And that’s okay – the people of Toronto have spoken, and they asked for Peter, not Stewie. You work with the mayor you’ve got, and not the mayor you want.

I’ve got to give credit where credit’s due: like him or not, Ford had an actual story to tell. I may not have agreed with it, but he actually had a platform while the others simply reacted by becoming anyone-but-Ford candidates. That, in combination with good use of social media and a team in the field holding regular meetings, “shaking hands and kissing babies”, eventually made the election all about him. As a developer evangelist who works on campaigns of a different sort (but campaigns nonetheless), I’ve got to give the Ford team kudos for succeeding at a difficult task – taking an outsider, “dark horse” candidate up against George Smitherman (who at the start of the campaign had quite a lead) and winning.

So what happens now? Despite the hyperbole you’re going to hear from the left and some of the centre-left, it’s not as if Toronto’s going to be reduced to a smoking hole in the ground or even transformed into a giant, characterless suburb where the most important use for land is parking cars. “Mayor Griffin” still has to win over City Council in order to get things done, and as “Councillor Griffin”, he’s had great trouble getting them onside. For the short term, the worst that will happen is that you’re going to have to deal with the triumphant crowing of right-wing bloggers and website commenters (eagerly awaiting subway trains to bring progressives to the Final Solution) and the braying of Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy. Unless you’re a political junkie – and really, I have better things to do – it’s highly unlikely that the mayor’s going to either ruin or make your day.

To my fellow cyclists – and people, I’m a car owner and driver too, with GPS and satellite radio, even! – it’s up to us to keep Toronto a great place to get around by cycle, and yes, car, public transit, foot, pogo stick, whatever. Ford and many others may believe that cyclists are waging a “War on the Car”, when in fact what we really want is for Toronto to be a great place to get around on two self-powered wheels. Bicycles are efficient, cut down on traffic and pollution, save their users money and keep them in shape. But when I’m hauling a lot of computers, groceries or friends around, or when I have to boot up to Microsoft HQ in Mississauga, I’m glad I’ve got the ol’ Honda handy! Surely there’s a way for everyone to get around in the manner they prefer, and we’ve got to band together to remind Ford of this. Toronto Cyclists Union, if you’re reading this, you might want to get me to do some spokesperson work, as I don’t fit the stereotype: Middle-aged guy! Corporate douchebag at a Fortune 50 company! Nice salary! Business casual! Drives stereotypical Asian car! Accordion Player! Frequent flyer points up the wazoo! Bikes downtown!

what the deuceThere’s a bright side to all this: I’m certain that a Ford mayorship is a gift to satirists. There could be lots of grist for the blog mill! At the very least, I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of my collection of Peter Griffin graphics.

And finally, I’m open to the possibility that Ford could pleasantly surprise us. The thought of Toronto’s service unions – long a hiding place for mediocrity –grimacing at the thought of dealing with a mayor who isn’t so beholden to them pleases this accordion player. As Stewie Griffin might say: “Perhaps the Fat Man might prove to be useful after all.”


Toronto Mayoral Election Today

Toronto’s mayoral election may have turned into Family Guy, with candidates like Rob Ford

Rob Ford as Peter Griffin

…and George Smitherman

George Smitherman and Stewie Griffin

…and the others no one really cares about…

Joe Pantalone as Meg Griffin

…but it still doesn’t absolve you of your civic responsibility. Get out there and vote! The polls open at 10 a.m. and run until 8 p.m..

Don’t know where the nearest polling station is or even who’s running in your ward? Use the City of Toronto’s handy-dandy “Where Do I Vote?” page.


What I’m Up To This Week

It’s going to be a busy week for Yours Truly…

Monday: Windows Phone Deployment Clinic

monday - windows phone deployment clinic

On Monday, I’ll be helping out at the Windows Phone Deployment Clinic at Microsoft Canada HQ in Mississauga (1950 Meadowvale Boulevard, off Mississauga Road, north of Highway 401), where you can book some time to test your apps on a real Windows Phone 7 device. If you’ve got an app and you’re going to be in the area, drop me a line and book an appointment!

(By the bye, that thing I’m standing beside in the photo above is a promo device known colloquially as the “Big-Ass Phone”.)

Tuesday: AndroidTO and TechDays Setup

tuesday - androidto techdays

On Tuesday, I’ll be spending some time at the AndroidTO conference, a gathering of Android developers, where I’ll be minding the Windows Phone 7 booth. Yes, that’s right, Microsoft is a gold sponsor at an Android conference. Why? Because:

  • We feel that if you’re an Android developer, go ahead an build Android apps, but expand your market reach by developing for Windows Phone 7 too! The programming languages and layout markup are similar.
  • If you’re an Android developer, what’s the best OS for doing development? We think it’s Windows 7, which is a great environment for Java. Loads of great Java dev tools run on Windows, and we don’t consider Java to be deprecated.

AndroidTO takes place at the Polish Combatants Hall (206 Beverley Street, just south of College), is free-as-in-beer, and is alas, completely booked solid.

I’ll also be doing some setup for TechDays Toronto, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday: TechDays Toronto and Go DEVMental

wednesday - techdays godevmental

Wednesday brings with it TechDays, Microsoft Canada’s cross-country tech conference: two days of great sessions for developers and IT pros who are building stuff with the Microsoft stack. I’m the guy who picked the content for both developer tracks, “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” and “Optimizing the Development Process”. I strove for the best mix of both technology-specific stuff like Mark Arteaga’s Windows Phone 7 sessions and Kate Gregory’s Windows API Code Pack presentation as well as practice-of-programming sessions such as “Top 10 Mistakes in Unit Testing” and “Branching and Merging Strategies”. TechDays will occupy me from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m..

From 7 p.m. on, it’ll be Go DEVMental, the student event where we’ll show university and college students what’s possible with Microsoft’s web and mobile platforms. I’ll be doing a presentation on getting starting with game development for Windows Phone with an amusing little live-coded game called “BieberSmash”, starring the bubblegum pop idol of the moment. Go DEVMental is free and open to post-secondary students – just bring your student ID! You’ll get all sorts of goodies, including a DreamSpark token and Visual Studio 2010 Pro.

Both TechDays and GoDEVMental take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building (222 Bremner Boulevard, right beside the CN Tower).

Thursday: TechDays, Day 2

thursday - techdays day 2

Thursday means another full day of the TechDays conference, to be followed by some very strong whiskey-based drinks.

Friday: Coffee and Code

friday - coffee and code

I’ll be running a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code this Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Timothy’s at 225 Front Street West (in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre building). I’ll be hanging out at the cafe, working on Windows Phone 7 code on both the emulator and real Windows Phone devices. Want to learn more about Windows Phone 7, see a real-live phone, play some games or test your code? Come on down!

Saturday: ACSE Conference

saturday - acse conference

University of Toronto computer science prof Steve Engels invited me to speak in front of a group of high school teachers at the ACSE (Association for Computer Studies Educators) Conference taking place on Saturday. I’m going to be showing them programming for high school students on Windows Phone as well as with the Kodu game development environment.

…and Sunday?

sunday - zzzzz

Well, it won’t be all sleep. I’ll have to pack for my Monday flight to TechDays Halifax!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Toronto is Our Home – Don’t Trash Talk It!

Here’s a video by the fine folks at that takes on some of the myths being spread by “some municipal candidates” (read Rob “Peter Griffin” Ford) who say that the city’s spending, taxes and finances are out of control and counters them with some pesky facts.

Accordion City’s not perfect, but it’s not the economic disaster malarkey that Ford’s selling with his mayoral campaign.


Toronto’s Mayoral Election is “Family Guy”!

The similarities between the characters on the animated TV series Family Guy and the characters in tomorrow’s mayoral election here in Accordion City are too great to ignore. Consider…

Rob Ford is Peter Griffin

The physical resemblance between Peter Griffin and Rob Ford, while not exact, is “close enough for rock ‘n’ roll”:

peter griffin is rob ford

The resemblance between Griffin and Ford in conduct and deed, however, is downright uncanny. Family Guy is centred around the my-God-are-you-really-that-stupid antics of Peter Griffin, who somehow manages to come out on top despite his best efforts. Should Rob Ford become mayor, City Council is likely to become the same thing.

Eye Weekly, one of Accordion City’s free alt-weekly papers, did a pretty nice job of summing up Ford:

Wait, you say the mayoral frontrunner is an uncouth, simple-minded loudmouth with a notoriously bad temper and a penchant for saying absolutely the wrong thing? And he wants to rip up streetcar tracks, slash city spending and dismantle service infrastructure? And to top it all off, he has a demonstrated inability to get anyone on council to work with him? Where do we sign up? Seriously, though: the best-case scenario with Ford is that he can’t accomplish anything. Worst-case, he ruins the city entirely.

grinds my gears

Ford’s campaign mantra is to “stop the gravy train” – to stop wasteful spending at City Hall. Hey, I’m all for cutting waste, but what he proposes to cut are either for show (things like free subway and zoo passes for City Council members) or useful and vital city infrastructure. To Ford, it seems that the Mayor’s number one job is to make things cheap.

peter griffin special dad

Like Peter Griffin, Ford says many things that reveal his stunted intellect. Check out the quotes below. Which are Peter Griffin’s and which are Rob Ford’s?

    1. Go to the Orient, go to Hong Kong. You want to see workaholics? Those Oriental people work like dogs… they sleep beside their machines. The Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over… they’re hard, hard workers.
    2. Someday a white man’s gonna to be elected President again.
    3. Do you have a job, sir? I’ll give you a newspaper to find a job, like everyone else has to do between 9 and 5.
    4. They accuse me all the time of not liking gays…which I do.
    5. (AIDS) is very preventable. If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line.
    6. Gays don’t vomit. They’re a very clean people. And they’ve been that way ever since they came over to this country from France.
    7. How are women getting (AIDS)? Maybe they are sleeping with bisexual men.
    8. Women aren’t people. They are devices built by the lord Jesus Christ for our entertainment.
    9. I can’t support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.
    10. I don’t come down to Burger King and tell you how to do your job.
    11. The reason I forgot about the marijuana charge … is because that same evening, I was charged with failing to give a breath sample.
    12. The Nutcracker had zero physical comedy. And, and, with a name like the Nutcracker, I thought, oh, this would be worth a few yucks. But no…that title wrote a check those queers on stage refused to cash.
    13. Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?
    14. I don’t understand. Number one, I don’t understand a transgender, I don’t understand, is it a guy dressed up like a girl or a girl dressed up like a guy?
    15. How ’bout THAT side boob? That turn you on? Well it shouldn’t. That’s MY side boob.

(In case you wondering, 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 14 are actual Rob Ford quotes. The rest are Peter Griffin. All quotes sound perfect if you imagine them being said with Peter Griffin’s voice.)

peter and lois griffin stoned

Back in August, Ford had a very eventful week (taken from Eye Weekly) that could’ve just as easily been a Peter Griffin week:

  • August 12, 2010: In a newspaper interview, Rob Ford alleges corruption on the part of a restaurant owner and the city’s executive committee, drawing immediate outrage and (later in the campaign) a libel lawsuit.
  • August 17, 2010: During a debate, Ford says of immigration to the city, “We can’t even deal with the 2.5 million people. How are we going to welcome another million people in? It is going to be chaotic. We can’t even deal with the chaos we have now. I think we have to say enough’s enough.”
  • August 18, 2010: The Toronto Sun asks him to comment on evidence he was charged in 1999 in Florida for marijuana possession. He denies it.
  • August 19, 2010: As his mug shot and denial appear on the front page of the Sun, Ford holds a press conference to admit to the pot charges, and says he’d forgotten because he was also charged that night with drunk driving, a more serious offence, and the marijuana charges were dropped. He also admits then to two assault charges — both withdrawn — on his record.
  • August 19, 2010: Toronto media outlets use the current controversies to run down his history of scandal, including: drunkenly abusing strangers at a Maple Leafs game, insulting fellow councillors, being opposed to same-sex marriage, making insensitive comments about gays and AIDS, being asked to leave a school football coaching job after a shouting match with a student, offering to try to score prescription drugs on the street for a constituent, and referring to “orientals” as people who “work like dogs” and are “taking over.”
  • August 23, 2010: A poll shows Rob Ford widening his lead in the mayoral race despite the revelations.

Only on Family Guy and here in Accordion City would this be possible.

Peter Griffin’s arch-enemy is a giant chicken. A number of Family Guy episodes have been interrupted by non-sequitur all-out brawls between the two:

peter griffin vs chicken

And perhaps sensing the Peter Griffin/Rob Ford connection, mayoral candidate George Smitherman (see below) has occasionally sent out someone in a chicken costume to show up at Ford’s campaign appearances:

On 28-jul-10, at 4:32 pm, tim finlan wrote: tim finlan  photo assignment editor  toronto star  (416) 869-4341 work  (416) 434-5460 cell begin forwarded message: from: steve russell <> date: july 28, 2010 3:35:24 pm edt to: photo assignment <> subject: rob ford protester at city hall steve russell toronto star sent from my iphone please excuse any spelling mistakes

George Smitherman is Stewie Griffin

George Smitherman is the other front-running candidate in this election, and like Rob Ford, he too has a Family Guy doppelganger: Stewie Griffin:

stewie griffin is george smitherman
They have the same debating style — Stewie has his outbursts, Smitherman has been dubbed “Furious George” by the press — and for the most part, hairline and sexual preference (Smitherman is gay, Stewie has the occasional dalliance with a girl). If only Smitherman had a catchphrase like Stewie’s “What the deuce?!”

stewie griffin gay bar

Both Stewie and Smitherman have had trouble with technology. In earlier seasons of Family Guy, Stewie was played of as a Dexter’s Laboratory-style mad-scientist wunderkind with dreams of world domination whose incredible devices failed him. In Smitherman’s case, it’s the billion-dollar price tag for Ontario’s eHealth system.

stewie griffin raygun

ontario ehealth

For the sane, sensible anyone-but-Ford voter, he’s the best bet.

Mayor David Miller is Mayor Adam West

Not only do the two front-running candidates have Family Guy counterparts, but the current and outgoing mayor, David Miller, has one too: Mayor Adam West, the not-completely-there municipal leader of Quahog:

adam west is david miller

Family Guy’s casting of Adam West is odd, but it works. It’s probably because West will remain forever typecast in the collective pop culture subconscious as “Batman” from the 1960s television show, which gave the Dark Knight a very silly, campy treatment. On the show, West plays “Mayor Adam West”, a delusional and certifiable but harmless nut under whose leadership the town of Quahog somehow manages to function.

Here’s Mayor Adam West with one of his inventions, a crossbow that shoots cats:

adam west cat launcher

While Mayor David Miller isn’t as far gone as Mayor Adam West is, Miller’s image in Toronto’s eyes is certainly Adam West-esque. From a promising start as the progressive candidate who embodied the spirit of downtown Toronto, his image has devolved from that high point to ineffectual do-gooder to his current low where we generally see his work as that toxic combination of good intentions and hare-brained execution.

For Miller’s reputation, the final nail in its coffin was his poor handling of the city’s service unions, which are generally the hiding place for the sort of under-achiever who wants to get paid for just showing up. We’ve had:

In all cases, Miller stood behind the unions and their members rather than the citizenry whom they serve, and as a result, this election and the bizarre popularity of a goon like Rob Ford is at least partly a referendum on his performance.

David Miller’s Greatest Contribution to Accordion City

porter airlines
David Miller’s most lasting contribution to Accordion City may be one he never intended: the blossoming of the Toronto Island Airport (more formally know as Billy Bishop Airport or its airport code, YTZ) and Porter Airlines. When he was running for mayor, he made killing the proposed bridge to the island a major plank in his campaign. By making access difficult, it was hoped that it would kill off the island airport, a dream of the city’s hippies, enviro-nuts and various layabouts and miscreants who don’t really work for a living.

This sustained campaign against the airport forced the airport and the short-haul Porter Airlines, who use the airport as its home base, to become amazing at customer service. Porter’s service and friendliness is head and shoulders above any other North American airlines’, their airport lounge is more like the comfortable private lounges that other airlines offer to their frequent-flying customers than the glorified bus terminals that most airport gates are, and the food and drink on the flight – even the alcoholic stuff — is free. They’ve worked hard to make the World’s Most Pointless Ferry Ride, a 90-second boat trip from the city to the island, as comfortable and efficient as possible. Porter’s staff really look after you. I’m quite certain that in the end, Miller’s opposition to the Island Airport was a major factor is what made Porter great.

Having an airport right by the downtown core is great. Business travel, which used to involved a long schlep by car or bus through smoke-belching traffic, is now greatly simplified. That’s the sort of thing that Accordion City needs to maintain the kind of prosperity that ironically enables the sort of anti-Island Airport windowlicker to live here as a non-essential, barely-contributing member of society. As for the noise that everyone said would accompany airport expansion, the noise by traffic, partiers in the club district and streetcars turning is far worse.

So if there is something you should thank David Miller for, it’s for the success of the Island Airport, through his vigorous obstruction. Be sure to do it the next time you see him!


Rob Ford’s Lonely Campaigner

Rob Ford campaigner being ignored

Here’s a photo I snapped yesterday at the corner of Bloor and Bay Streets: a campaigner for Rob Ford handing out stickers. I was heading home from a haircut on my bike – he took one look at me and decided right then and there that I wasn’t even worth the bother. He turned around to face the crowd on the sidewalk and offer stickers, but no one was taking them.

With any luck, the electorate will do the same at the polls tomorrow.


A Visit to Malabar

We’re planning on attending a couple of Halloween parties, and we didn’t want just any old costume. Luckily, there’s a place I’ve been going to since the 1980s, and it’s also one of our favourite stores in Accordion City:


Malabar! Located at 14 McCaul Street, just north of Queen and just south of OCAD, it’s where you go when you want costumes, from the cheap and disposable, to something that’s ready for stage or screen.

The room by the main entrance has the stuff for sale, and if you need a quick costume, they’ve got plenty, and they’ve got a bigger variety than you’ll find at your local department store or Walmart.

I had no idea that there were commercially-made Napoleon Dynamite character costumes:


You’re just a kit away from turning into Jake or Elwood Blues (black jacket not included):


As the photo on the packaging shown below indicates, even a reject from Jersey Shore can become Aragorn with this sword! You can even use it to keep the “grenades” at bay!


Want to be “V” from V for Vendetta for Halloween (or take part in an anti-Scientology demonstration)?  No prob – they’ve got the hat, cape and Guy Fawkes mask here, along with Princess Leia hair buns, Batman utility belts, Jason Voorhees’ goalie mask and machete and accessories to turn into into just about any pop culture character.


They’ve got a nice selection of costume hats. They’re cheaper than the real thing, and while probably not durable enough for everyday wear, they’re perfect for those costume occasions.


They’ve got wigs aplenty, too!


And a wide array of glasses, from the ordinary to the way-out:


Off to the side is the rental room, which has a big assortment of more substantial costumes:


They come in all sorts of genres, shapes and sizes:


I rented the steampunk costume that I wore to Cory Doctorow’s wedding here!

They have all sorts of costumes, including animal mascots:


Have you always dreamed of going as Doctor Zoidberg from Futurama for Halloween? You can – when I was there on Saturday, the lobster head hadn’t been booked yet. Pair it with a lab coat, surgical scrubs and a pair of orange oven mitts and you’re good to go!


As for the costumes we got? I’ll save that for a later blog entry.