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Tag Archives: freebies

Last year (last April I think??), I took a energy usage pledge to save on electricity, and the incentive was that you would get free tickets to a Marlies game. I forgot about it for awhile but then in January they actually sent me the tickets! I signed up for the last game of the season, which was on Sunday, hoping that the Marlies would be in a fight for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Marlies are just like their parent team and finished on the outside looking in. It ended up being a meaningless game for both teams.

Our free seats were not bad, they were in the “lower bowl” although it was fairly high up. There’s no second level at Ricoh Coliseum so they weren’t great by any means (although much better visibility than our Leafs’ seats earlier this year), but there were plenty of empty seats and few security guards so we could have moved lower if we cared too.

I caught a glimpse of the Marlies game the Saturday prior on CBC and it was pretty exciting. The defense in the AHL isn’t as good so there were a lot of odd-man rushes and end-to-end play. The game we went too wasn’t as exciting, but Toronto scored 6 goals so we had a lot of opportunity to cheer! Although we were sitting in the Abbotsford end, so we only saw Toronto score one of the goals (a nice backhand by Gregg McKegg on the powerplay in the second).

I have been following the Leafs closely this year, so I’m actually familiar with their personnel:

  • I was disappointed that Kadri did not play as he’s been with the Leafs for a few weeks
  • I was surprised the Joe Colborne (acquired in the Kaberle trade) played since he played his first NHL game on Saturday vs Montreal
  • Jake Gardiner (acquired in the Beauchemin trade) play, and he played a heck of a lot – like half the game
  • Jerry D’Amigo didn’t seem to do much, but I guessed him incorrectly in the Marlies’ Facebook photo challenge
  • Marcel Muller scored a hat trick, with his last goal coming 20s left in the game. He was so happy with that goal.
  • Jussi Rynnas played in net
  • Andrew Crescenzi played on the first line (but was he just called up from the OHL?) and tried to make an impression – mostly in the opponents and the boards. But this guy is huge, he looks much larger than the 6’5″ Colborne.
  • Christian Hanson also started on the first line
  • I think Greg McKegg (draft pick from 2010) was just called up and played in his first AHL game too
  • Jeff Finger was scratched. That’s hilarious, he was demoted from the NHL due to his large contract and now he’s scratched in the AHL because the youngsters need a chance to play.
  • Luca Caputi (acquired in the Ponikarovsky trade last year) was a healthy scratch

As it was the last game of the season, it was fan appreciation day too. Everyone received a photo of the team on entry and they gave out a lot of t-shirts (during the game, and the players threw some out afterwards). We weren’t lucky enough to get any though.

Doritos runs a promotion where people submit game ideas and then they hire a studio to make them and offer the games for free. Their first game was Dash of Destruction, which involved driving around as a Doritos delivery person while dinosaurs are chasing you around. It wasn’t a great game, but it was free, fun and easy to get achievements so I thought it was a good deal.

This year, Doritos offered two more free games, in a fight to the death (well to win a $50k game consultant position). Surprisingly, both games are even better value than Dash of Destruction. The first is Crash Course which is like the tv show Wipeout. You control your avatar and run through a padded (not that it matters) course with jumps, ledges, hammers, water balloons etc. The goal is to make it to the end in as fast a time as possible. It doesn’t sound like much, but just as how the Wipeout tv show is funny and popular, this game ends up being hilarious (until you try and get through a section for 10 minutes).

The second is Harm’s Way which is a racing/shooting game. The racing part is a combination of Mario Kart (powerups on the road), Burnout (barrel roll for specials), and some game where you race in the desert. The twist is that there are also gun turrets which shoot at you. If you’re playing coop, then your teammate would use the turrets to stop the other racers. If you’re playing single player, you can just play to stop the cars. This game is not as thought out as Crash Course as it is too complex and short; but is still fun, plus it looks much more impressive (i.e., not cartoony).

Lexus put on an event over the weekend to promote their upcoming hybrid, the CT 200h (I think that’s the right combination of letters). It was held at the Distillery District and featured free concerts by a few somewhat known bands.

I didn’t hear about the event until Friday morning on the radio, when they said that The Stills will be performing for free. I never got around to seeing The Stills in concert, so we went down to see them.

There was conflicting information as to whether they started at 7PM or 8PM. So we arrived around 7:30 which ended up being halfway through their set. The played maybe 7 songs after we arrived, none of which I heard of before! Then I realized, that I learned about them and listened to their debut album way back in 2005. That was 5 years ago! And at that time, their album was already 2 years old! I haven’t listened to their newer albums, so it’s no surprise that I didn’t know their songs.

I think the event was lame. The crowd on Friday night was pretty sparse (although maybe Lexus expected a higher conversion rate from the more upscale audience). The Stills had no energy, and seemed to be just phoning it in. Lexus put together a couple of booths with information about their new car. Their hook was that you could win a new iPad, by playing a couple of activities on iPads. The activities were VERY lame. On one, you could superimpose your mugshot on a picture of the car. On another, you could sketch out a path within Toronto you wanted to travel upon, and a third one you could watch videos of the car in action.

Perhaps Lexus wasn’t expecting a technically savant crowd, and expected that the audience would be impressed by the use of an iPad. For me, the apps showed a lack of thought in creating an engaging activity that I would spread the word about. Although, in retrospect I guess they succeed since they get my criticism.

Last week was CASCON, IBM Centre for Advanced Studies’ annual conference. I haven’t participated (i.e., presented) anything in a few years but still go to see what people are doing. Actually most people at the lab make it a habit to go because you get free lunch! I guess this is one of the perks at working at IBM </sarcasm>. One thing that was notably different was that instead of a CD with the proceedings, we got a USB key!

It’s only 512mb which is less than a CD, but I was surprised that it only contained less than 50mb of content! I guess there were no AlphaWorks this year. But if it’s so small, they should make the proceedings available solely on the web rather than spending money on giving employees attendees free memory sticks (I mean we get free lunch already).

Legoland was the fourth, and last theme park we visited on our trip; and I use the term visited lightly. The admission was another $60+ and although I’m a geeky fan of Lego, I don’t see how it would be worth the price of admission since we already saw animals, fairy tales and movie themed parks. We take the $10 parking hit, take some pictures and visit the gift shop without paying admission; but there was no gift shop outside and the gate was rather lame. Although on the way in, near the entrance, we saw a section of sponsored parking for Volvos (there is a Volvo-themed ride in Legoland)!

But lucky for us, we found out that we could get a 1-hour Shopper’s Pass and enter the park for free. We visited the gift shop, bought some overpriced Lego (but hey, we got our parking validated) and then dashed around the park for the rest of the hour. We spent a lot of time in Miniland USA which are reproductions of various cities and sites around the US in the style of Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village (but done in Lego).

Our quick visit was a interesting teaser for the park, it almost seems like it would be worth spending a few hours there; but maybe if the admission was only $20.

Another year and another 40-odd songs downloaded for free from iTunes (I screen them first). Here are the best from this year:

  1. Brooke Waggonner – Young Friend
    Awesome song, like a better version of Sarah Barellies’ Love Song. I would never have known about this song if not for iTunes.
  2. Kardinall Offishal ft Akon – Dangerous
    Had second thoughts about downloading this one, but now it’s a classic!
  3. Black Kids – I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
    This song is so 2007 and the major label release is a bit different than the indie version I downloaded from their MySpace
  4. Cut Copy – Lights & Music
    These electronic dudes sound like they’re from the 80s, and are finally getting radio airplay in Canada. This song is better than that song they’re playing on the radio though.
  5. Karina – Can’t Find The Words
    Originally I didn’t think this R&B single would be that great, but it has grown on me.
  6. Duffy – Mercy
    Big song from the summer, was a free download in March.
  7. Lenka – The Show
    Cute pop singer in the vein of Annie. This is not the best song, but it’s still catchy. Another artist that iTunes introduced me to.
  8. I Nine – Seven Days of Lonely
    I heard this song on the radio first actually, it’s not bad so I downloaded it when it was free.
  9. Danger – 11h30
    Another catchy electronic track. Between this and Cut Copy, it seemed like it would be a good free year for Electronic. But these were the only two highlights.
  10. Babasóonicos – Microdancing
    I usually don’t bother downloading the Latin Single of the Week but this one was pretty catchy.

I picked up tickets yesterday for the multi-nomer free concert happening at the North York Central Public Library in November. The point of this concert is to celebrate and market the TPL’s new local indie music collection. I’ve been hearing about it for awhile, but it seems to be disorganized and not quite announced on the Library webpages. The best sources to get the lowdown are on these two blog posts.

The draw of the concert is that it features Final Fantasy, the winner of this year’s Polaris Prize. I actually haven’t heard of any of the other bands before (and well, only one song by Final Fantasy). But, it’s free, and it’s indie and it’s a hop away from home; so I guess it would be worth it. The tickets I picked up were numbered 187 and 188, which means there were maybe 186 more from when I picked them up Monday night (first day you could get them). I also have no idea where they will be holding the concert, because if you’ve been to the library before, you’ll notice there is no stage area…

Sunday was fan appreciation day at the Rogers Centre, but Monday was cheapie fan appreciation day. The Blue Jays gave out a pair of 200 level outfield tickets to everyone who signed up for their newsletter and answered a few questions. Being a cheapie fan, I filled out the form and went to my 3rd Jays game this year (and 2nd free one).

I left a bit early from work, and after stopping off at home, headed downtown. How the deal worked was that you had to show up with your photo ID on the day of the game and pick up your pair of free tickets. I was a bit worried that there would be a huge lineup and they would run out of 200 level tickets, but even though I got there at 6:30ish, they still had a pile of good seats. I ended up with 3rd row seats! Along the way, I passed a ton of scalpers selling tickets at below cost, some advertising at 50% ticket price. I also saw a lot of people just giving away their tickets, because like me, they probably just grabbed two for the hell of it.

I met up with Horace, who also had a pair, and went in. Horace picked up his tickets in the morning and got 2nd row tickets, so I don’t think they actually gave out any 1st row tickets. They probably saved those for people that paid. A little while later, Rishi and Victor + friend showed up, but they were late enough that they received 500 level tickets instead of 200 level. After some phone calls, and a ticket switcheroo later (yay for extra 200 level tickets), they were able to fill some of the empty seats in our section.

The game itself was boring, but exciting in sort of a passive-aggressive way. The first half of the game was a pitching duel, with Marcum and Wakefield taking no-hitters into the 5th. This all changed when Wakefield gave up his first hit, a double to Jason Phillips, walked the next batter, and Alex Rios homered on the first pitch he saw. The Jays followed up with another 2-run homer in the next inning, but Marcum gave up a single in their half of the 6th which broke his no-hitter bid. He ended up with 10 strikeouts, which was more than enough for free pizza (yay extra tickets), but apparently the promotion finished the day before. But the 5-0 win meant that the Blue Jays is currently placed second in their division ahead of the Red Sox, I wonder if it’ll stay that way? Aside: What happened to the Bosox? I thought they had a good team, but the only standout in their lineup was David Ortiz. Aside #2: We were sitting in RF, which didn’t see a lot of action; the homers went into LF, but we saw a double (well we couldn’t actually see it due to the wall) and a huge foul ball by Ortiz that made it into the 500 level where we usually sit.

Afterwards we headed up to Burrito Boyz again. OMG why won’t people get tired of that place…

I made my way downtown to see John Mayer’s free outdoor concert at the Yonge/Dundas Square today. This was the second show in two days in celebration of Best Buy’s grand opening of its flagship store at Bay and Dundas. I am pretty impressed that they brought both John Mayer and Beyonce to Toronto, and for free to boot.

As I was walking to the subway station, I realized that I had forgotten my ear plugs. Oh well, it couldn’t be that bad right? plus I didn’t expect a free concert to go very long (maybe half an hour?). I did some quick CD crawling from Bloor before arriving at Yonge & Dundas by 3PM. There was still an hour to go, and I had been meaning to buy Continuum (i.e. John Mayer’s latest) at Best Buy so I headed over to their new store. It was $9.99 and I had been struggling to get it at this price for awhile. First I had hoped to grab a flyer and price match with Futureshop, but Best Buy doesn’t deliver to my neighborhood. Next, I tried to buy it online, even paying an extra 99¢ for shipping, but I had to call their billing department about a $11 purchase on my credit card. Yeah right.

The mass of people at Best Buy actually wasn’t that bad, I had to line up for maybe 15 minutes but I was in and out of the store, and back at the Y&D by 3:30. It was then that I actually walked around a bit, and received my $5 coupon at Best Buy (and my Best Buy flag). Doh, should have walked around first.

Anyways, I walked around for a bit, taking some photos, before I started being an asshole. The square was kind of filled already with people lingering around, but I wanted a better spot. I didn’t make it down for the VIP wristbands so I was out of luck there, although there was a HUGE, unfilled area for VIPs. Maybe, I should have came down and tried for a wristband on Thursday. Anyways, I cut through a lot of annoyed people, and zig zag’d around a couple of times before finding a spot about 10 rows from the front. The benefit of being solo is that it’s so much easier to find a space for 1 without annoying as many people (although people did complain and glare at me before I found my good spot).

John Mayer made us wait for about 20 minutes before he came out on stage and played. He mixed it up pretty well, with some hits (Georgia, Daughters, No Such Thing — the finisher), 3 or 4 of his new tracks including Waiting On The World To Change, and both Gravity and Vultures that were crossovers from the John Mayer Trio. The concert actually seemed a lot like his Trio work, and whenever he played songs from his new album, he would switch out his guitar. He used an acoustic for all his old songs, and his bandmates didn’t do a lot on those.

I was surprised actually that he played for a bit over an hour! I would have appreciated some earplugs as my ears were ringing for awhile afterwards. I wanted to hear Neon or 3×5 but he played neither, although No Such Thing was good. Afterwards, I ran into Ian and Chris Lawrence, and apparently Chard was also there. But, I didn’t feel like staying around so I headed back home. I didn’t even make it to the autograph signing session at 6PM! I’m not a true fan.