A CFL Atmosphere Award

The 110th Grey Cup is this weekend in Hamilton, featuring the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Montreal Alouettes, and we Argo fans are still reeling from losing to Montreal in the East final a few days ago. But Cathy and I are going to Hamilton anyway, because it’s a great national party.

That’s the thing. There’s football, and then there’s football ATMOSPHERE around the game, and I love them both.

There are plenty of awards for football. The Grey Cup itself, of course, and the Most Outstanding Player, and the Coach of the Year, and the Rookie of the Year, etc etc etc. But I don’t think people come to the games just for the football. They also come because of the overall game day atmosphere.

An Award for Game Day Atmosphere

So I hereby propose that the CFL should have an award for Outstanding Contribution to Football Atmosphere. An award that recognizes things that happen off the field, including

  • pregame tailgate parties
  • cheerleaders, dance teams
  • pep bands
  • wacky fans with funny signs
  • crazy traditions
  • oddball but entertaining mascots
  • postgame parties, especially at the Grey Cup

Let me explain with a few examples. And my choice, at the end.

Paul Weiler as Hamilton’s Pigskin Pete

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a much-loved mascot named Pigskin Pete, who leads their fans in their Oskee Wee Wee cheer, and who was portrayed for years by a gentleman named Paul Weiler. He passed away in 2014, and all CFL fans were sad, even if we had no idea what the heck “Oskee Wee Wee” meant.

Here’s the CBC report on his passing.

Pigskin pete iii JPG

This is Paul Weiler as Pigskin Pete III, photo by Eddie Sokolowski, courtesy the Ticats.

Now, I always thought that Pigskin Pete should have a young sidekick named “Pigskin Petite”, but I digress. Whether you like the Ticats or not (I am in the “not” category), as a CFL fan, you had to respect that tradition. It made the game days fun, and if you heard the crowd belting out “Holy Mackinaw, Tigers, Eat em Raw!” led by Pigskin Pete, it made you wish your team had a cheer like that.

(We do, we say “ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS” but in a very sophisticated way.)

He made the games fun. The Pigskin Pete tradition continues, but Paul Weiler did it for 30 years, better than anyone.

Dal Richards, BC Lions Band Leader

I’ve written about Dal before. A popular Vancouver bandleader who led the Lions band in the 1950s, he created the 1968 CFL Songs record album, which gave us the song “Go Argos Go” and other team songs that are still heard to this day.

Every time the Argos score, we sing Go Argos Go, and I think of Dal, who I was lucky enough to meet at age 97. Here he is, autographing a copy of the album for me. We donated that album to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, where it truly belongs.


Those songs make game day fun and add a great sense of tradition to our league.

CFL Fans Fight Cancer

This outstanding group of fans


organizes a hugely successful fundraiser every year and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars so far for a cancer charity in each Grey Cup host city. Their annual Grey Cup event is one of THE places to be. This year’s event at the End Zone Bar and Grill in Hamilton was packed!

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The Calgary Grey Cup Committee

People from Calgary have been stirring things up at the Grey Cup since 1948, when a group of Stampeders fans arrived in Toronto for the Grey Cup complete with a horse, and even today, there is this bizarre tradition of Calgary people trying to get a horse into the Grey Cup Hotel. I’m sure that will be happening in Hamilton this week.

But the Calgary folks also put on a fabulous free Pancake Breakfast – it’ll be in Hamilton on Friday and Saturday this week – and they also happily took part in various goofball unsanctioned Not the Grey Cup Parades that some of us would organize when the game was happening somewhere that didn’t have a parade. (See more below.)

The first Calgary Grey Cup Pancake Breakfast, in 1948

The Box J Boys

Named after the area they used to occupy at the former Ivor Wynne Stadium, this group of boisterous, kilted Ticat supporters have done a wonderful job organizing massive Ticat tailgates, and they always welcomed our Argo band warmly, recognizing that the true spirit of a rivalry is to say “Argos Suck, but thanks for coming.”

Box J Boys 2048x1536

The Spirit of Edmonton

Every year the biggest party at the Grey Cup is the Spirit of Edmonton, hosted by a powerful group of Elks fans who didn’t have much to cheer about this year, but who manage to create THE event of the festival. Their Saturday breakfast and its accompanying mysterious Sluice Juice is legendary – and their party hosts all the CFL cheer teams, bands and other acts, and it’s always THE place to be.

Spirit of Edmonton

A view of the Spirit of Edmonton Breakfast at the 2012 Grey Cup, moments before Argonotes took the floor.
(They told us once “You guys in Argonotes are just about the best act we have” but I promise that is not influencing my vote.)

The 620 CKRM Saskatchewan Roughrider Pep Band

Rider Band

And finally, my friends in the Rider pep band, who for 30 years have been travelling to the Grey Cup – at their own expense – and entertaining crowds everywhere they go, and who even take the time to visit public schools in the area to perform for the kids and show them that you can have fun making music with your friends your entire life.

Argonotes, of course, had a very friendly rivalry with these guys for the 22 years we were around, and we always enjoyed staging some mock Battle of the Bands thing during the Grey Cup, and then sitting down and enjoying lunch, or as we’d call it, the Annual CFL Pep Band Summit.

the 2012 CFL Pep Band Summit

Both of our groups at Joe Badali’s in 2012 after a memorable band battle.

Our band packed it in after 22 great years, but the Rider band keeps going, full of pep and vinegar, whether their team is in the game or not.

Here’s Global News’s report of the Not the Grey Cup Parade in 2007, featuring Argonotes, the Calgary Grey Cup Committee, the Saskatchewan band and a cast of hundreds of fans, all pumping up Toronto for the 95th Grey Cup in a proud volunteer way.

and more

I’m sure there are more. I’m sure there are plenty of people who work hard build the atmosphere in every CFL city, frequently as unpaid volunteers, and without them, the games wouldn’t be fun and frankly, nobody would go and the league would collapse.

Whaddya say, CFL, how about an occasional award to recognize these folks? You could name it after Paul Weiler, or Dal Richards, or both. It’s the Saskatchewan band’s 30th year. Time to honour them, I think, or any of the others who keep our great game going.

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, if you need people for the nominating committee, you know where to find me.

I had a blog in 2002? What?

Got an email from Google today that my old blog at xhayman.blogspot.com has had no activity since 2007, and the data will be permanently deleted soon.

This came as a mild surprise as I have no memory of all of setting up this blog, which had 4 exciting posts in it from 2002, but for the historical record, here’s what it looked like.

X Hayman Checks This Out

The blog entries themselves are very thrilling. Archiving them here so that when my great-grandchildren somehow discover THIS blog, they’ll also learn about the one I had, briefly, 21 years earlier.

my exciting blog from 2002


So people just type their random thoughts whenever they like?

And let’s publish this. [But wait I revised it]

So I made beer can chicken for the 3rd time this week. Getting the hang of it. Figured out how to carve the chicken sort of semiprofessionally. My dad is still the king of carving.


I’ve been reading blogs for so long, figured it was time to actually try making one.

speaking of old content

In 2012, the CFL gave six fans the password to its tumblr account in order to produce a fan-built blog all about the 100th Grey Cup. I really oughta snag a copy of THAT too. You can still see it here –


It’s probably not too hard to tell which of the posts were from me! Especially the first one!


The story of Go Argos Go – the Toronto Argonauts Fight Song

Sing along with the bouncing ball! (The lyrics start 30 seconds in to the above video.)

Words and music by Johnny Burt
From the 1968 album CFL Songs, by Dal Richards and his orchestra.

CFL Songs Album IMG 8761

Go, Toronto Argos, Go Go Go!
Pull Together, Fight the Foe Foe Foe!
Scoring touchdowns for the Blue on Blue
The Argos will win for you!

Full of fight and courage you can’t stop
They pile up the points until they reach the top!
Pull Together ’til the Grey Cup’s won!
Go Argos Go Toronto Go! (second time only)
Go Argos Go Go Go!

about this song

Here are some thoughts on “Go Toronto Argos Go Go Go”, inspired by a comment I read that called the fight song ‘ridiculous’ and questioned the lyric “fight the foe”.

  • It’s “Pull Together, Fight the Foe Foe Foe” because it has to rhyme with the previous line, which is “Go Toronto Argos Go Go Go”. 🙂
  • If we sang “Pull Together, Fight the Edmonton Elks” it would neither scan nor rhyme. 🙂
  • Yes, it’s an old-timey song, written by legendary Toronto tunesmith Johnny Burt and recorded by legendary Vancouver bandleader Dal Richards on his seminal 1968 album CFL Songs – but it’s also a link to a previous era.

I happen to know one of the quartet of singers from this album and I can really hear his voice when they play this song at the games. (I did a whole podcast episode about this 20 years ago, I’ll have to dig that up.)

Just like the slogan Pull Together, the Oxford and Cambridge Blue colour scheme, and even the name Argonauts, the ritual playing and (I hope) singing of this song reminds us of the long history this team has in Toronto and gives the franchise a sense of permanence, and (I also hope) gives the fans a sense of community.

Many teams have an ancient fight song that they still enjoy today.

Chicago Bears fans love singing Bear Down, Chicago Bears, which dates from the 1940s and was written in celebration of a 73-0 victory over Washington. It’s part of their identity. And they still sing it loud and proud.

Washington fans have their own tradition – Hail to the Commanders, which of course was written with a previous team name, but dates to 1937. It’s a great tune too.

And needless to say, every big time college football program features a memorable traditional song sung joyously by the crowd, dating WAY back. USC’s Fight On? 1922. On, Wisconsin? 1909. Notre Dame’s Victory March? 1905. Michigan’s The Victors? it’s from 1898.

The Argos even had an older song called Yea, Argos but sadly I have never come across a recording or even the sheet music.

So, what we have is Go Toronto Argos Go Go Go, and personally, I celebrate it and I’m thrilled when I see others singing and/or clapping along You don’t have to sing along, although I wish you would, but I hope you can cherish some of these links to the past.

There are plenty of other new fangled things – hey, how about that halftime drone show at the 150th Anniversary game? That was cool and unexpected! – but I’m happy we can still hold on to and encourage legendary artifacts like Go Argos Go as well.

A Charter Member of the Go Argos Go Appreciation Society

PS. I was deeply honoured to meet the late Dal Richards, the long time BC Lions bandleader and the impresario behind the CFL Songs album, in Vancouver in 2014. He kindly autographed a copy of the album for me…
Dal Richards

… and in 2015 donated it to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, where it rightfully belongs.


Outside the former downtown Hamilton location of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame; it’s since moved to Tim Hortons Field.

(with Hall of Fame manager Andrea Lane)

10 Toronto Argonauts Memorable Pregame or Halftime Shows

In honour of today’s 150th Birthday of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, and inspired by their amazing list of the Top 150 Moments in Argonauts History, I want to offer my own list.

I’ll update this post with pictures or videos if / when I can find them.

In the spirit of fun, and acknowledging how lucky I am to be a fan of this great franchise … I’ll leave it to you to decide whether these should be on a Top or Bottom 10 List

10 Toronto Argonauts Memorable Pregame or Halftime Shows, At Least Ones I Personally Can Remember

10 Divot replacement at BMO Field.

This is the default halftime show at BMO if nothing else is going on. We are lucky to have the only natural grass surface in the league, but it needs attention at halftime, and sometimes this is the only show we get.

Divot Replacement

9. Muhammad Ali.

Garth Drabinsky was hired to jazz up the halftime shows one year – having Tony Hawk do a skateboard show was pretty good even if we couldn’t see what he was doing inside the halfpipe, but I remember the biggest one.

The halftime show was essentially Ali coming out onto the field, getting mobbed by both the Argos and Ottawa Renegades, and everybody cheering, and for years this was memorialized with a banner at Skydome, alongside the Grey Cup banners. A banner to commemorate a particular halftime show. I never quite understood why that banner needed to be there.

8. Superdogs! Or regular dogs.

I actually love the dogs catching frisbees. This must be a cheap show to do but it’s worth every penny. Who doesn’t love dogs?

7. Cornell University Big Red Band.

Occasionally the team would import a US marching band. Cornell’s band played at halftime of the 1997 Eastern final, and then joined Argonotes for the 4th quarter and a performance outside after the game. I was lucky enough to conduct this massive Cornell + Argonotes band, and my one regret is that we only had about six extra music books for the 150 people in their band.

Actual quote from the Cornell band:

Also, thanks for everything last week. We had an amazing time playing in the Skydome and playing with the Argonotes during and after the game. People in the Cornell Band have said it was the best road trip they’ve been on (which means that it was better than parading down 5th avenue in New York City!).

6. Electric Drills.

Five contestants competed to see who could drive a 4″ Robertson screw into a 4×4 the fastest. If you are thinking “Could the fans even see what was going on?” then you are asking the right question.

5. Supermodels Kick Field Goals.

This was the personal idea of Argos owner Sherwood Schwarz. I was very excited to get a call from the team – “Mr. Schwarz wants the band on the field at halftime.” I was imagining all kinds of fabulous scenarios, but it turned out he wanted the band to play a little “Ta-da!” after each of the supermodels failed to successfully kick a field goal.

4. Inappropriate Metaphors

In 1995 the team set up a fun fair sort of thing outside Skydome, including a giant inflatable slide for the kids, which was a nice idea except the inflatable was a model of the Titanic hitting an iceberg and sinking, which was perhaps not the best message the Boatmen could offer during those dark years.

3. Anthems. Well, one guy in particular

You know, all things considered, I kind of admire the guy for doing what he wants, for self-producing films, for assembling a top-notch blues band, but in 2007, he sang “O Canada” to a chorus of boos, and wound up actually issuing a press release to apologize.

2. Ashley Takes Off.

I wish there was still video of this on Youtube but it’s gone dark. I’m still looking. You gotta see this.

Contestant Ashley was invited onto the field, blindfolded, and all she had to do to win a free trip from Noli Tours was to run 20 feet towards a banner. The crowd was supposed to yell to guide her in the right direction – but somehow she got turned around, and started running, still blindfolded, at full speed for about 80 yards in the wrong direction (as Faye the on-field host shouted “Ashley, STOP!” over the PA) and ultimately she crashed into one of the sideline barriers. Fortunately nobody was hurt and I hope they gave her the trip anyway.

1. Kick for a Million.

The best halftime show ever.

Contestant Brian Diesbourg attempts to kick a field goal from 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards for escalating prizes. He missed the first three and we all thought, wow, this is too bad, he’s not even going to win the TV set for a 20 yard kick.

And then this happened –

He won $1,000,000 – well, actually, $25,000/year for 40 years, and even though that was a little controversial. it was still an amazing show.

Bonus: Argos “players” join Argos Cheer

This was epic too, especially if you ever wondered what would happen if the dance team didn’t get off the field in time.

See also this awesome 2015 Argos Cheer Thriller routine that trapped one of the “players”

Standard CFL Arguments

The league announced that Green Day would be the halftime show for the 110th Grey Cup next month in Hamilton, and although the response was generally positive (and I think it’s a great choice), it reminded me that there are some evergreen CFL discussions that just won’t go away. I wanted to note these here for future reference.

The Standard CFL Arguments.

1. The Halftime Act.

The halftime act should be Canadian! Dozens of people would surely tune in to hear (obscure band from Flin Flon, or some other band that was popular 40 years ago and which would appeal to that coveted 65+ demographic, or some artist that it turns out has already played at the Grey Cup , etc)”

You know what, we’ve already had Justin Bieber, Gordon Lightfoot, Bachman/Turner, the Guess Who, Bryan Adams, the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Nickelback, Celine Dion and Shania Twain at the Grey Cup, so you don’t need to suggest those. Come up with some other suggestions. (Also for the record, Rush is no longer available.)

Incidentally the 78th Grey Cup featured “Esmeralda Colombian Dance Group, Mlada Srbadia Serbian Folk Dance Group, Joy of Movement Studiom Yuen’s Institute of Tae Kwon-do and the Hungarian Csardas Dancers of Vancouver”. Now THAT was a show.

I tend to feel that if the halftime act is a band that I, an old guy, actually like, it’s probably not exactly the right choice to attract new interest to the CFL.

2. CFL Expansion

The CFL should expand! Here, let me show my amazing geographic knowledge with a list of a dozen random cities.”

I have actually seen Churchill, Manitoba and Cornwall, Ontario offered as serious suggestions. Which kind of reminds me of Nate Silver’s infamous recommendation, based on counting up Google searches for the term “NHL”, that the NHL should consider to something called “Sudbury – Thunder Bay.” Never mind that those cities are an eleven hour drive apart. Let’s just name random cities.

3. Location and Time of Games

The right day, time and location for home games (which usually means “more convenient for me, personally”)

(Sometimes people say “If the Argos played at York, they’d attract lots of fans from north of the city”, which conveniently ignores that they’d probably lose even more fans who take Lakeshore trains to the games.)

Paul Woods noted that “it is surely a prerequisite that anyone who says “York” lives west of Thunder Bay and has never been to Toronto.”

4. Attendance Problems in Toronto

CFL attendance is a complicated problem, so here is a simple trivial solution that I can’t believe MLSE hasn’t tried”

Right, put up some billboards, blanket the newspapers with ads, why don’t they let people in for free, that’ll fix everything. Just ignore that, unlike every other CFL city, there are five other pro teams in town, and an NFL team just an hour away, and another couple of NFL teams just four hours away, and another entire CFL team just down the QEW.

My friend Cameron Hayglass added another –

5. Problems Unique to the CFL

only in the CFL!” (highlights problem routinely seen in at least one of NBA/NHL/MLB/NFL)

and I then also remembered to include

6. New Stadiums

Any observation about building a new stadium anywhere that does not include any indication of where the $200,000,000 is coming from.

And a problem in every league everywhere –

7. The Fix Is In.

The referees and the league obviously want team X to win“, say fans of team Y that just lost to team X.

Paris, 2009. Automating the Eiffel Tower

Here is something dumb and silly but I’m glad we did it. See video below.

In September, 2009 I was just finishing up a bit of a business boondoggle trip – presentations on iOS coding in London, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. (I hope it impressed my Dad that I gave a lecture at the Sorbonne.)

On the final night I went to a little sidewalk café with some colleagues.

It had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. (Lots of places in Paris seem to have a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. for instance this was the view from the office.)

View from Apple office

So anyway we’re at this cafe.

7:00 PM

One of my friends mentioned that the tower lit up once an hour. Sure enough, at 7:00 or so we noticed it flashing dramatically. That was pretty cool!

And we had some more wine.

8:00 PM

And at about 7:57 somebody said “I wonder if it lights up at Exactly 8:00 on the dot? Like, is it synchronized to an atomic clock or something?”

So we all looked at the clocks on our iPhones intently, and sure enough, at EXACTLY 8:00 on the dot, the light show began again. That’s cool!

More wine. maybe beer. I forget. But we must have had something because we were still there at

8:45 PM

We’re still there. we hatched a plan. I’d spent the week showing people how to build iOS apps. Sometimes I’d build a flashlight app, some dumb little thing where you’d tap the screen and a light came on. What if you had an app that turned on the Eiffel Tower lights? Maybe the tower has bluetooth. That’d be pretty cool. Wouldn’t that be hilarious? But how would you do it?

What if you just faked it? Would it be believable, or just stupid? Or maybe funny?

8:57 PM

The three of us are now standing outside. One guy is filming me. The other is holding up his iPhone where I can see it, displaying the time to the second.

8:58 PM

Ready? Let’s start filming. What have we got to lose? Quick, think of something to say.

8:59 PM


We tried the corresponding turn-the-lights-off stunt a minute later but messed up the timing.

14 years later I’m glad we did this silly thing. But I kind of wish I could have a do-over. I’d sell it better!

Half my life at Apple and NeXT

Well, I just turned 64. So half my life ago, I was 32, in September of 1991. And in September of 1991, I started work at NeXT, which then merged into Apple in 1996.

So I’ve been doing this job – with great delight! – for half my life. (I figured out the actual day when I’d spent half my life here; it was a few days ago, I won’t bore you with the calendar math.)

I had been working at Indiana University, and bought a NeXT Cube workstation for $11,000. I was fascinated with this computer. A Unix machine, with a great graphical interface, amazing built in sound, awesome object-oriented developer tools, and it’s only $11,000 with the academic discount? I’ll buy one!

Me and my NeXT Cbue

That’d be a much younger me, and my brand new NeXT cube in my Bloomington, Indiana apartment (and in the background is an Atari 520ST. It was my previous favourite thing that I think never got turned on again after I got the NeXT cube.

Of course, I still have that NeXT cube. The watch on my wrist is its direct descendant – it’s running sort of the same operating system, using sort of the same developer tools, and it’s a better computer by almost any measurement. That NeXT cube was the ancestor of everything Apple makes today.

IMG 0754

So anyway, Indiana was swell but eventually I wanted to move back to Canada, so not knowing anything about sales or anything, I asked the local rep Pat Wootan if, by any chance, did NeXT have an office in Canada and would they have any use for someone like me?

Turns out, yes! There was a sales office in Toronto consisting of a whole two people, and one of them (the “Systems Engineer”, whatever that meant) was leaving, so Pat put me in touch with Phil Hume (the “Account Executive”) and a chain of interviews started.

NeXT flew me out to Redwood City, California, and I remember a theme during the interviews. Multiple people asked me “Wait – you paid $11,000 for a Cube? Did nobody tip you off that a cheaper, faster, $2,000 NeXTStation was about to ship? Geez, I’m sorry. Maybe we can make it up to you by hiring you.” And they did, and I started in September 1991.

Here I am now, half my life put into this job. 32 years of wonder, of fascination with new technology, of nagging impostor syndrome that I still don’t really understand a lot of it, and of excitement about what comes next.

So what were YOU doing half your life ago?

Toronto Argos Game Day Off-the-Field Action Report for Game 4: Argos vs Ottawa

Here’s another in the irregular connection of Off the Field Reports. You can read the details of the football action anywhere, but what if you want to know what’s happening in the stands instead? What if you want another report on whether the QR Code pizza slice contest worked? Where can you go? Where?

Well, here as it turns out. And if you just can’t get enough of this, you can catch up if necessary on Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3.

Game Summary

Argos: 44

Ottawa: 31

Weather: Beautiful

Crowd: Boisterous

what were the other people on the GO Train coming down to see?

Something called KidzBop was playing at the Budweiser Stage, and I must extend my congratulations to all the moms and dads who were accompanying the throngs of excited young people. I hope there was something fun for you older folks too, perhaps some Glenn Miller covers.

wait wasn’t Kidz Bop at 4 and the football at 7?

Yeah, we came down earlier than normal. We took a friend from California to his first ever CFL game, and did a couple of tourist things ahead of time. Including visiting Little Canada, an amazing HO Scale recreation of great Canadian scenes, found at Yonge/Dundas Square. Highly recommended! Even if it features 1:87 working models of the Skydome and Air Canada Centre – or whatever they’re called now – but not BMO Field.

Here’s a panorama of Toronto at Little Canada. You really should check it out.

Little Canadapano

And we headed from there to the game.

So anyway our friend James really enjoyed the game and is now the Argos Good Luck Charm, as they have never lost when James has been on hand. (My Apple friends, you know James from his band And the Breakpoints of course.)

could we possibly talk about the football game

I’m getting there.
Before the game, I decided I needed to buy an Argos jersey. I quite like the new 2023 design and decided to go for the Cambridge Blue home version. You know, Cambridge Blue. The lighter of the two Blues associated with the Double Blue, the other being Oxford, unless I have that backwards.

I bought the jersey before the game and then hustled back to my seat, and much to my surprise, the custom name/number lettering was done ALSO BEFORE THE GAME with a speed that surprised me. I guess it pays to be one of the first in line.

what name/number did you get

Well I thought about this a lot. In the Argonotes days I was “DICTATOR / 94”. Maybe. Or I could have got “ARGONOTES / 23”. Maybe that too. Or a lot of people get one of their favourite player, and for me that would have been “BALL / 6” (and here’s why Marcus Ball is my all time favourite.)

Ultimately I went with DICTATOR / 94 for sentimental reasons, but I then spent the rest of the game wondering if the iron-on numbers they’d applied were actually in the same font as the real player numbers. Still not quite sure. Will be investigating this further at the next game.

apart from yours what was your favourite jersey


BOATMAN. That was pretty good. The Argos are known as the Boatmen, of course, and the team actually had a player named Shannon Boatman who played five games in 2010. It’s almost the perfect jersey!

Except I talked to this guy and said “Hey, that’s great that you have a Shannon Boatman jersey” and he told me that he chose BOATMAN as just the team nickname, not a salute to Shannon Boatman who he wasn’t even aware of, but that it worked out nicely.

i wonder who actually has a legit Shannon Boatman game worn jersey?


wonder no more.

has the game started yet or are you just going to write about things that happened before the game

Soon. I promise. First though

National Anthem

It came in at 1:31. As usual. Lovely voice. Please go faster.


An odd siren sound was played at the start of the 1st and 2nd halves. I get that they’re trying something new here but they need a better recording, or a better live performance. It was oddly anemic sounding.

how did your american friend James like the game?

He liked that at one point the ball was on the 54 Yard Line, something he’s never seen before.

promotions recap

A good set of promotions this week, including some sort of Match Game thing where you were given a prompt (“Fill in the blank: WATER ______”) and you had to match what the prerecoded player was going to do. I liked that.
Contestant guesses

Player Reveals

This contestant got 2 out of 5 right but the game day hostess said “You’re still going to win.” (cough) isn’t it odd how people just about always win? it’s as if they’re going to give the prize away whatever happens, which is good.

Did they do the spin-the-wheel thing? YES

Did the contestant give yet another extremely weak spin, rotating the wheel only about 60º presumably so it wouldn’t spin forever? YES

Do you understand how this promotion works now? I think so. You get one spin. But you play Rock/Paper/Scissors twice with Jason the mascot, to win additional spins. Something like that.

What about the Possibly Dangerous Tumbling Cross The End Zone Inflatable Thing? NO (unless I missed it.)

Were people throwing footballs into the crowd? YES and the throwers were, I think, actual amateur football players and they were really heaving the things up into the 200 level. That was nice to see.

the cannon

Fired once after every Argo touchdown, and (oops) once after the Argos were stopped by Ottawa on the 1 yard line (oops). A little premature exhilaration there. Whoops. Argos still won. Cannon was fired on the subsequent kickoff rouge to even things up. All is forgiven.


the fight song

Played after 4 out of 5 touchdowns. The Section 123 choir is in fine form and I am happy that people are gradually picking up on the Official Gestures, seen here:

I noticed the words on the scoreboard too. Thanks, Argos! (Now if we could just stop cutting it off before the 2nd chorus ends.)

members of the game

Props to the Argos for honouring long time season ticket holders too (or as MLSE calls them, ‘Members’). Here are (I think) Les and Elizabeth, with former Argo Chad Folk. This is a nice initiative.


how about letting members fire the cannon?

Just a thought. The smoke rings are cool.

Cannon Smoke Ring


Dogs! Dogs catching frisbees! I love that. Although they spent quite a while erecting some mysterious structure at center field that was used maybe for one jump only.

The dog did manage to jump over the thing, and also Jason. Good doggie.

Dog Jump

the referee

It was everyone’s favourite official, Andre Proulx. The crowd seemed to disagree with many of his decisions. It’s amazing how many experts there are on the CFL rulebook, particular the subsections around Pass Interference or Roughing the Passer, and how clearly the fans can see exactly what happened better than the officials who are standing right there.

You know what, I wonder if he gets hassled more than other CFL referees mostly because he understandably speaks with an obvious accent, so you KNOW it’s him.

I like the guy. Hey, we won. Quit complaining.

signs of the game

I didn’t see any particularly great fan signs this week, but I will point out that our Hide the Defensive Coordinator Signs are WAY better than Ottawa’s. One tiny little logo on the side? Come ON, you can do better than that.

Our Signs
Their Sign

before or after 1914?

This was a fun quiz too. Asking players if certain things had happened Before or After the Argos won their first Grey Cup in 1914.

1914 Quiz

Hey, we all learned something. Vacuum cleaners predate the first Argo Grey Cup

Drum Battle

I liked it when mascot Jason and a fan were taking turns wailing away on a drum. More like this please.

Drum Battle

the QR Code

Did they figure out the Pizza Pizza QR Code technical glitch that has often plagued this giveaway? Well, here’s the code…

QR Code

This QR code happens to translate to this URL: `https://uqr.to/1jlea`

and once again I think they’ve botched the Javascript on that web page, as it is trying to redirect to this nonsensical URL


I can see what they’re trying to do, they want to redirect you to this link


which would work, if only they hadn’t messed up the Javascript code on the original page.

This promotion STILL needs some work. if you were at the game and this QR code worked for you, let me know what I’m doing wrong, because it sure seems broken.

conclusion: did you have fun

yes. And you should come too! Here’s yet another reason why: No annoying digital ads on the field unlike when you watch the game on TV!

Thanks Argos for another great night of football, and thanks to the Section 123 Choir for fight songs that just keep improving.

footnote on GO Transit and Metrolinx

Generally taking the train to the game works great, from either East or West. We come in from Oakville. Super easy. Train drops us at Exhibition Station 100 yards from the stadium. But all week long, Metrolinx had been announcing that the Lakeshore East line would not be running on the weekend. This caused a great deal of confusion. Lakeshore East? Like, travelling eastbound? Don’t we travel eastbound from Oakville?

Wait, NO. What they meant was that the eastern half of the lakeshore line, from Union Station out to Oshawa, would not be running. The Lakeshore WEST line, which we take, was still operating from Oakville to Exhibition Station and on to Union, and then back later.

I wonder if they ought to rename the line. Trains run Eastbound on Lakeshore West, and vice versa. People were confused. I don’t mean to slam Metrolinx, I know the work has to get done some time, and there was at least one time when Argo fans persuaded them to postpone a construction stoppage until after the game had concluded so people could get home, so they are trying to do the right thing.

next time you do this: Include a diagram!


Handling a QR Code on your iPhone

Pro Tip: Your iPhone can decode a QR code if you point the camera at it, that’s easy – but what if instead you are looking at a QR Code on the screen (in a web page, or your photo library, or one someone emailed to you) ? Here’s a quick way to deal with a QR code like that.

In this example I have used Safari to visit Wikipedia’s QR code page.

So how do we figure out what that QR Code is?

0) Try doing a long-press on the QR code image and see if the popup menu shows you what the QR code is. . Sometimes that will work, but not always – how a long press is handled is up to the app displaying the code. (Looks like Safari will try to decode it for you, in which case you can skip all the steps below – but lots of other apps don’t.) (h/t to Tom for the reminder.)

1) Take a screen shot in usual way (press side button and volume-up on a FaceID phone, for instance), then tap the thumbnail image that appears to bring up the photo editor.

2) Tap the text-selection icon in the lower right (shown below in red.) If you don’t see that button, first tap the markup button in the top toolbar (shown in green.)

Editing a QR Code image

3) Once you’ve tapped that text-selection button, all the text in the image becomes copyable – AND – you can tap on the image of the QR Code to see what it is, or to open it in Safari, or to copy the URL if you like.

Tap QR Code

Easy peasy.

Toronto Argos Game Day Off-the-Field Action Report for Game 3: Touchdown Atlantic

We’ve previously analyzed the Off the Field action for Home Game 1 and Home Game 2 – both, oddly enough, played in Toronto.

But, once again, the fans of the Good Ship Argonaut have, er, graciously donated one of our Home Games to the fine people of Atlantic Canada. So off we go to Husky Stadium at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Touchdown Atlantic 2023.

Bottom line, we had a great time, even if it didn’t feel like an Argos home game, and I really, truly, deeply, want Halifax to get its own CFL team.

TDA Banner

Argos 31, Saskatchewan 13


Let’s get the score out of the way. A resounding victory for the Double Blue.

you might want to skip the next part

And, what’s this? A palindrome? 31-13? How often does that happen? Let’s fire up the Unnecessary Analysis Machine! When was the last CFL palindromic game? It musta been a long time ago … let’s see …

CFL Palindromic Analysis

Well, uh, the last time it happened was last season. Winnipeg 31, Saskatchewan 13. And it turns out 31-13 is the Most Common CFL Palindromic Score. Since 1958 the CFL has had 56 games with palindromic scores, but 17 of those were ties, and we are hereby deciding that ties are Uninteresting. Sorry, Saskatchewan-Calgary 4-4 in 1963.

And neither is a score like “10-1” a palindrome even though that’s happened twice. Amazingly, Montreal lost to both Edmonton and Calgary in 1963 by identical 10-1 scores, the only time that score’s ever happened.

31-13 has happened a dozen times.

More CFL Palindromic Analysis

I cannot let this go. After 5,974 CFL games since 1958, there have been 39 True Palindromic Games, starting with Toronto over Ottawa 42-24, and a score of 31-13 is by far the most common, having occurred 12 times (including this year in Halifax.)

The highest scoring palindromic game was the very satisfying Toronto 52, Hamilton 25 in 1991.

now that you’ve actually set up this database, what else should we know?

  • after 5,974 #CFL games since 1958, the most common score is 27-24 (35 times), and there have been 1,252 different scores.

  • there are 333 scores that have only occurred once, including

  • 1-0 (Montreal 1, Ottawa 0, in 1966)

  • 56-0 (CFL’s Biggest shutout – Winnipeg over Saskatchewan in 1986)

more oddities –

  • Hamilton and BC have beat each other 3-0
  • 2-0 has never yet happened, but 3-0 and 4-0 has
  • the average CFL score is 30-17
  • the most common score (35 times) is 27-24

  • every number from 1 to 70 has been a Winning Score, except 2 and 69

  • every number from 0 to 52 has been a Losing Score.

could we get back to the game in Halifax if it’s not too much trouble

Er, I’ve got more. The (late) Baltimore Stallions are the only team with a Perfect Palindromic Record, having won twice, each time by the same 41-14 score, over both Toronto and Hamilton on consecutive weeks in 1995. That’s crazy! (Either that or there could be a bug in my database.)

Mike Hogan of the Argos helpfully pointed out that 82ºF is 28ºC (another palindrome) and mentioned this off-topic and yet still entertaining Weird Al video “Bob” in which every line is a palindrome –

Anyway, back to Touchdown Atlantic in Halifax

Cathy and I flew down for this and enjoyed the weekend very much. This was supoposedly a TORONTO ARGONAUTS HOME GAME but as you’ll see, it didn’t exactly feel like one.

the overall atmosphere

Halifax was crawling with Saskatchewan fans wearing green. Probably outnumbering Argo jerseys 10-1 or more. How many had actually come from Saskatchewan for the game? Who knows, but somehow that entire province’s identity seems to be wrapped up in the Roughriders and even people who moved away decades ago somehow still have a Roughrider jersey they can dig out.

I like to joke that the reason you see so many Roughrider fans at road games is that people just cannot WAIT to get out of Saskatchewan.

Halifax’s waterfront is great but


there were no signs or banners or flags or anything to let you know that Touchdown Atlantic was actually happening. The game was sold out, so maybe someone thought it didn’t matter, but it would have been nice to see a little hype for the locals. Vendors were asking me what was happening, was there a game on? Even the hotel we were in – where the CFL league staff were also staying, and where we were the only people to notice the Grey Cup entering the lobby – showed no evidence that anything special was happening.

The long term goal here is for Halifax to get its own team, not just for it to host some out of town fans once in a while. I wish the event hadn’t been so invisible.

pockets of pregame fun

The team sponsored a night at Durty Nelly’s bar and we’re grateful for the free beer! Pinball was on hand, exuding 110% charm as always. I’m ready to run through a wall! Just say where!

Of course you only heard about this event if you bumped into another fan; there didn’t seem to be much of an official plan to let the Argo faithful know about it.

game day

The game was Saturday afternoon. We made our way over to the campus of St. Mary’s University in the middle of Halifax and the temporary stadium therein. Turns out this is the second time I’ve seen the Argos play here – my son and I came in 2005 for an exhibition 16-16 tie vs. the Ticats. This time I was with Cathy. And weirdly it almost seemed like we were in the exact same seats. Here’s 2005 and 2023 – hey, I got a new hat somewhere along the way.

Me and Alex, 2005

Me and Cathy, 2023

Cathy had been bugging me all week to be more like a Maritimer, to ask the people at drive-thru windows how they’re doing or to chat about the weather with the guy at the toll booth, and the guy sitting beside me overheard and said “Well it must be working, you actually talked to me when you sat down, unlike typical Torontonians.”

sidebar: Former Chief Centurions of the Warriors Band

How many CCWB’s were on hand? Three! At least! That we know about! It was a treat to invite Halifax’s own Dr. David Greenberg, CCWB I, founder of the Most Illustrious UW Warriors Band back in 1966. Cathy joined the band when I was CCWB IX, and later became CCWB XI herself. And 30 years later we got married. (Me and Cathy, that is.) Thank you Dave! And thanks Mrs Dave (Cheryl) for taking this picture!


signs of the game

Here are a couple of my favourites. Grey Cup in Halifax? Sign us up!


Also be sure to bring a marker in case you need to adjust your sign for the conclusion of the game.


whose game is it anyway?

Update: I’ve been told that despite what we all assumed, the CFL decided this was to be a neutral game, not an Argo home game, and directed the game day staff and announcer accordingly, which would explain a few things. I’m not sure I agree with that decision, but I guess it’s their show.

This [edit: see above] was an Argo “home” game but it sure didn’t feel like one. Forget that Argo fans were outnumbered by weird green-clad Saskatchewanians. It was still OUR home game. Small but enthusiastic groups with Argo jerseys, and the native Haligonians sitting near us were pulling for Toronto. (And there was at least one guy in a Doug Flutie San Diego Chargers jersey. I’ll count that as double blue apparel.)

So tell me why –

  • the (local Halifax) announcer – enthusiastically welcomed Saskatchewan mascot Gainer the Gopher to the field, but never mentioned the presence of Argo mascot Jason (i have since been advised by another attendee that Jason was introduced, so apologies if I missed that);

  • the local announcer guy eagerly told us to stand for the fourth quarter traditional playing of “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate”, which I will concede is a good song, by (ahem) a band from Ontario, but this is a SASKATCHEWAN HOME GAME TRADITION, so why are we doing it at an Argo home game?

  • “Green Is the Colour”, Saskatchewan’s fight song, was played after the Riders’ lone touchdown. Played louder and repeated more often than Go Argos Go.

  • The prime VIP seats in the center of the opposite grandstand seemed to be 80% full of people wearing green. How’d that happen? Why didn’t Argo fans hear about those seats?


The hype sure seemed to be for Saskatchewan.

Look, if we Argo fans are going to donate one of our precious home games to Halifax, let’s not turn it into a Rider home game like this.

what else was happening off the field?

None of the regular Argo promotions happened. Hardly any giveaways. But they did have a guy attempt to kick field goals – I think he won a $200 OK Tire gift card. OK Tire also donated $50K to Nova Scotia youth football. Well done! More than OK.

I fondly remember the old Wendy’s “Kick for a Million” promotion and was lucky to be at Skydome when that guy won the $1,000,000, even if it really was just $20K/year for 50 years.

There was another promotion where two fans competed to see who could put on a totally frozen solid T-shirt. That looked cool. (see what I did there?)

what about the anthem

O Canada clocked in at 1:18, sung very nicely by a local singer. Fastest anthem of our “home” season so far.

remember those signs I was wondering about last time?

Well we got a good look at what was on the other side – nothing.


what about QR codes?

There was a temporary jumbotron in the corner and as far as I could tell, the QRCodes it displayed were indeed encoded properly (unlike the Pizza Pizza QR code promotion at home game 2.) This one, for instance, is https://qr.link/qbRUfS which redirects properly to Purolator’s Tackle Hunger promotion.


Another QR code looked for feedback on Touchdown Atlantic for a chance to win a prize package. Hey, fill this out, you never know. (It’s a survey looking at the economic impact of the game – and asking you if you would support the idea of a team in Halifax. Why yes, I would. I’ve been to every CFL game in Halifax so far! (total: 2))

Let’s hope our QR Codes at BMO are fixed for the next game. (Trust me, if they are, I’ll let you know.)


They were handing out little yellow footballs. I gave mine to a kid who didn’t get one. Reminder, this is what you do with free things at sporting events. Give them to kids.

There were Touchdown Atlantic shirts and hats for sale. I wish there’d been a nice souvenir pin. I would have added that to my collection.

Also “Touchdown” beer.


what’s with these orange lines?

I don’t get what these orange lines on the field are.

halftime show

At first I thought, wow, the divot replacement squad here is armed with swords but no, those are Scottish dancers. Nice work, ladies.


did you sing Go Argos Go?

yes! Thank you, game day folks, for playing this (however I think the recording needs a little audio attention or level setting or something. It’s hard to tell at first if it’s actually playing, and then people stumble into the song on about the 4th line.)

Of course I conducted the faithful – thanks Will for the picture!


Two different people said to me “Hey, didn’t you used to be the bandleader?” Made my day.

creature comforts lacking a bit

You can only do so much with temporary seating. Frankly I found it all to be a little cramped, and if you were sitting in the middle of a row, there was almost no way to get to your seat without everybody else getting up and out of the way.

Trash cans were overflowing. OK I get it this is a temporary setup, but still, not a good look.

Worst of all, the food and drinks were sold out of food trucks located quite a ways from the seats themselves, and the lineup for the restrooms was horrendous. Cathy missed most of the 1st quarter in line for food, and almost all of the 3rd quarter in line for the temporary porta-potties (she reported “at least 30 people in line for each of the 20 toilets.”) Even more aggravating, not far from us in the end zone was another row of portapotties, that were off limits unless you had a special wristband for that area.

The stadium was surrounded by campus buildings. Aren’t there restrooms in there we could use?

Which leads me to –

Can the CFL work in Halifax with a setup like this?

I think so. I hope so. The buzz in the packed stadium – uncomfortably packed, but thankfully packed – was great. Everybody wants it to work!! BUT – A flimsy temporary stadium isn’t going to be good enough, at least without substantial improvements to the food and restroom situation. People might tolerate that for a single exhibition game but the casual fan would be unlikely to return. Fix that situation.

The CFL staff were all staying in our hotel and I had a few conversations with some, including one with a senior exec where I said “look, we all want this to work, we just need to find someone with $200,000,000 for a stadium, so you should find someone with $200,000,000.”

I was informed it’s a little more complicated than that. But I’m hoping. I want to go to a Grey Cup in Halifax too.