The Life of Brian

I am not a professional tennis player on the ATP tour.

I am not the bassist for the band Bad Religion.

Nor am I the former spokesperson for Sprint, who is married to Terry Farrell.

No, I am simply a journalist in Toronto — Canada’s largest metropolis — and I dig all things pop culture.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that there are so many Brian Bakers in the world, just so my website doesn’t have much prominence.

You have to be looking for “Brian Baker journalist” on Google to find me.

In other ways, it’s a bad thing, because according to the acronym, SEO, I am not as high up on keyword searches.

Oh well, this website is mainly used as an online portfolio of all of the work I’ve done for various publications over the span of a decade.

I fell into journalism post-university when I soon discovered I should have been hobnobbing with archaeology professors in order to secure myself a job with a firm in Toronto.

Though journalism doesn’t pay much, I still find a way to survive.

This website is here to offer those in the publishing industry the eclectic content I’ve written: sports, arts and life.

I’ve worked for the Town Crier, Vaughan Today, Urban Male Magazine and Sun Media.

What I like most about the job is writing and talking to people. I’ve also grown fond of photography. Transcribing and the pay is probably the least likable.

As for the fluff section: It’s just a quick throw-together of my personality. What I like, and what aspects of pop culture I pay attention to. It is by no means a list of what should be considered the best by the masses, much to the chagrin of trolls.

Enjoy the content, and if you feel like dropping me line, go for it.

And I’ll leave this note with a Top 25 list of who I am, and what my interests are:

So, after 15 years of toiling away in the trenches, from that first internship with Torstar Digital in 2005 to my current place at the Canadian Press’ Pagemasters, here are my revised Top 25 journalism moments.

What: Football
Origin: North American football, the kind where they tackle you if you’re being a crybaby, didn’t hit my radar until the early ’90s. Just to be irksome, I picked the team that was in the same division as the favourite San Francisco 49ers and rooted for them.
What: Mythology
Origin: I can’t quite place it, but I knew the stories of some myths and legends as a young kid. I was always drawn to them — most of the Norse variety. They would end up being the foundation of some of my imaginative stories. Angelology and the bizarre from lesser-known cultures tend to catch my attention these days when writing stories or brainstorming novel ideas.
What: Basketball
Origin: I wasn’t always a big basketball fan. I created my own league with players as a young kid, to replace the lack of a basketball element in Toronto. My dad is a Lakers fan, so during the early ’90s, I tried to follow the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mostly because I like wolves, and they weren’t the Lakers or Celtics. Then came the Raptors — the first Toronto-based team I actually rooted for.
What: Architecture
Origin: I took a lot of drafting classes in high school. In fact, every year I was in drafting. I really considered going to university for architecture, but then I learned I was way too arty to be taking math classes. Still, old architecture — the stuff of detailed stonemasonry and carpentry — is what I love.
What: Cryptozoology
Origin: The search for undiscovered critters might have started when I was a teen, or perhaps earlier when I saw the film Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. The Loch Ness monster always intrigued me, and now there are so many different critters, from large hominids to fluttering “rods” to Mongolian death worms that it’s the perfect breeding ground for an imaginative writer.
What: Comic Books
Origin: The early ’90s was a year when everything was mass-produced or over-published. Just look at sports cards from that era. Walk into a Toys’R’Us these days, and they’re still trying to hawk Score, Fleer, Upper Deck or Tops cards for a buck a pack. But comics had something more to them: A story.
Who: Carl Hiaasen
Origin: I always had to be forced to read — if you must, at metaphorical gunpoint. While working at Chapters, a large book chain in Canada now annexed by Indigo, I discovered a writer that renewed my interest in books: Hiaasen. His oddball cast of characters was charming and made you root for the anti-hero. his books opened me up to Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy and more.
Who: Stephen King
Origin: In the fall of 1992, our English teacher, Mr. Krawetz decreed we must read a legitimate novel of a certain length. My classmates groaned, mainly because this was long before teen fiction was a thing. My choice from the Whitby Public Library was Cujo by Stephen King. Since then, I’ve never turned down the opportunity to read more. King might have equated his work to the written version of the Big Mac and cheese, but there’s a lot of social criticism in his words.
Who: Hunter S. Thompson
Origin: During my time at the university newspaper, a Catalan pre-hipster had an eclectic collection of books in the office, which at the time was serving as his residence. I borrowed a few of his tomes from a friend, included was HST’s Songs of the Doomed. That book changed me. Not because of its content, but because of the sheer madness of Dr. Gonzo’s dialogue.
What: Wolves
Origin: During my high school year, I had a favourite t-shirt from Liquid Blue with a wolf’s face on the front, and a wintry wolf scene on the back. One of the most social animals, wolves are often misunderstood and are the nemesis of humans for no good reason.
What: Tennis
Origin: During the mid-’90s I would watch Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras battle it. Sure Stefan Edberg, Michael Stich, and Goran Ivanisevic would be there too, but it was the first two that drew my attention to the game. Don’t forget, Steffi Graf, Jana Novotna and Lindsay Davenport were also doing well on the WTA side. (Photo by Brian Baker)
What: Hockey
Origin: Annoyed by Maple Leafs fans, and not particularly keen to follow my dad’s team, the Montreal Canadiens, I started following the Chicago Blackhawks in the early ’90s.
Who: Humphrey Bogart
Origin: When I started expanding the movies I watched, around the time I was entering high school, I came across the old B&W flicks of Bogart: Casablanca, Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Sabrina. The dude had swagger, confidence and took shit from no one. No one.
What: Photography
Origin: As a teen, whenever I would stick a Cindy Crawford poster on the wall, or rip pages out of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and tack them on the back of my bedroom door, I always needed to know who took the photo. The same went for pictures of wolves, puffins and other critters too. I loved what beauty photographers captured. (Photo by Brian Baker/Streeter)
What: Horror (Movies, Books, etc.)
Origin: I saw a few movies in my youth that set me down this path. Bug, Gremlins and Squirm were just a few, but as my interest in the paranormal grew, so did my interest in the horror genre — specifically spiritual horror.
What: Video Games
Origin: This started really early for me. Like ColecoVision, Leisure Vision early. That’s 1982, and I was rife with toddler curiosity. After that came the Sega Master System, Genesis, Sony Playstation, PS2, PS3, and now the PS4. I’ve been playing video games longer than Justin Bieber has been alive.
What: Supermodels
Origin: You’ll see no. 3 on this list is a more specific version of this, but during the ’90s (my teen years), I had plenty of celebrity crushes, and most of them were models: Stephanie Seymour, Angie Everhart, Daniela Pestova, Kathy Ireland, Heidi Klum, Elle MacPherson, Claudia Schiffer, etc., etc.
What: Archaeology
Origin: My attraction started during my teen years, with Indiana Jones, and my constant search for mythology, the paranormal and past civilizations. I love learning about how past cultures lived, and what they believed in. My university undergrad was in archaeology.
What: the Paranormal
Origin: Though I had a strange experience at a young age, I didn’t really start digging into the paranormal until I was 10 or 11. At that time, Time-Life Books released its series, Mysteries of the Unknown, and Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack was on the tube. I’m pretty agnostic, but what hasn’t been discovered (or even bothered to be studied) has always intrigued me.
What: Nature
Origin: My paternal grandmother introduced me to flora and fauna, and watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom drew me to nature. If there’s an hour-long documentary on glow-worms or the Angel Falls, I’d rather watch that than primetime TV. Getting to know the environment as a warm friend, makes you want to protect it all the more.
What: Movies
Origin: Some kids spent a lot of time in front of the TV watching serials. Me, I spent it watching movies. Lots of them. I had Police Academy, Kramer vs. Kramer and Slapshot under my belt before I had any clue what “Beverly Hills 90210” was. My favourite genre, besides horror, Film Noir.
What: Baseball
Origin: I  started playing baseball when I was 5, and even though I started off as a Blue Jays fan, I eventually learned about other teams and switched gears to the Cincinnati Reds because I wasn’t a big fan of the DH rule. During my youth, my favourite players would include Jesse Barfield, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin and Paul Molitor.
Who: Cindy Crawford
Origin: Back in the late ’80s, early ’90s — the height of the supermodel — I developed the first celebrity crush of my early teens.
What: Music
Origin: In high school, the only music I listened to was stored in my parents’ LPs. I dug ZZ Top, Supertramp, E.L.O., Kansas, Boston and Pink Floyd. Eventually, when I hit university my musical interests took flight, but classic rock continues to be my go-to. I love the heavy guitar sound. I dig a lot of post-2000 rock, like Chevelle, Audioslave, but ’70s classic rock, and its sub-genres like Glam, Southern and Prog are all golden in my books.
What: Puffins
Origin: In Grade 6, after witnessing a video of a puffin being eaten mid-flight by a seagull, I started drawing them. Being a tween, it was more like puffins killing seagulls. I found my kindred animal spirit with the loyal critters.