2 days 'bout the harbour

Further thoughts on our trip to Halifax this past weekend:

  • Hard to believe now, but on Friday morning the G20 seemed like a non-event. We left super-early for the airport and got there in six minutes. Fortunately, waiting in Porter‘s lounge is a lot better than waiting around at Pearson: free drinks, shortbread cookies, wi-fi, comfy chairs and — for some reason — no screaming kids.
  • Flying Porter, even though it takes an extra hour to Halifax, is worth it. Free drinks, actual lunch, friendly service, tons of leg room and doesn’t actually feel any longer than a direct flight.
  • Taxis from the airport to downtown Halifax are always expensive, but we don’t mind paying just a little more now that we’ve found Crystal Limousines. There’s something extra-sweet about a nice car, lots of leg room and a cold bottle of water waiting for you when you get off a plane. They’re now on our speed dial whenever we fly in.
  • Our hotel was on a lake called Chocolate Lake. So it was called the Chocolate Lake hotel. The lobby smelled of chocolate. A chocolate lab lives there. If they ever build a beer pool I’m moving in.
  • As we tended to enjoy the nice weather having a Garrison on their patio, the bartender became our best friend. Two minutes after we arrived we took a seat in the sun, looked out over the lake, caught up with friends and slid lazily into vacation mode.
  • We made our way downtown, strolled along the waterfront to take in the preparations for the Canadian navy’s 100th birthday and visit by the Queen, and picked up my parents at their hotel. Crazy coincidence though: walking in to the hotel we bumped into a guy who I last saw ten years ago when he was a co-op student at Delano. It was his first trip to Halifax, and we wouldn’t have even seen each other except for the earthquake last week. Anyway, it’s a long story, but it one of those coincidences that makes you shake your head at the cosmos.
  • That night my parents, my brother and his wife joined us for dinner at Bish. I have to say, for all the talk of it being one of the best restaurants in the city I wasn’t very impressed. My steak was overdone and it took 40 minutes to bring us our mains (during which our wine glasses sat empty for 20 minutes). I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed either. It was nice to catch up with my family, though, if only for a few hours.
  • We continued the evening with my brother and sister-in-law though, walking past a great many pubs and bars crammed full of drunk douchebags and scary cougars (it was fleet week, after all) before settling on a familiar standby: the Old Triangle. While we were there a bunch of secret service-looking people showed up; turns out the prime minister of the Netherlands was in there having a drink. We wondered why he needed a security detail…what drunk Nova Scotian is going to recognize the Dutch prime minister?? Anyhoo. We got home around 1:30…which, by Halifax standards isn’t that late, but I’m ooooooooold now.
  • In spite of being an old man past his bedtime, we got up and had brunch at a friend’s house with her husband, kid, baby, dog and mildly retarded sister. We had a tour of their beautiful new house, ate breakfast on their deck and left with some art which now hangs on our fridge.
  • And then, the reason we were in Halifax in the first place: our friend’s wedding. I’ve no room to list all the highlights, but they included fortuitous weather, wheel spinning, a toothbrush & Dan Marino jersey, flowing wine, Thriller choreography, belligerent Dan, road beers and a near-exhibition of “Murphy Girl drunk”. I also managed to catch snippets of Ghana beating the US and news of violence in Toronto.
  • Notes on the DJ’s music selection: whoever made a nu-metal remix of “Barrett’s Privateers” should be horsewhipped. Also: it’s a universal truth that Trooper will come out earlier at an east coast wedding than anywhere else.
  • Since we got even less sleep that night, there was little to do the next morning but meet friends for brunch at the hotel, take a limo back to the airport and fly home. Safe, sound and regretting that we didn’t have more time in Halifax. Soon, my pretty.

Respite

Just back from a semi-whirlwind trip to Halifax for a friend’s wedding. In addition to the ceremony itself, which was a ton of fun, we also squeezed in brunch with friends at their beautiful new home, dinner at Bish with my parents, brother and sister-in-law and even some down time on a few patios.

Aaaaaaaaaand then we returned to find Toronto in some kind of lock-down mode…stores closed, violent protests happening a few blocks away, upsetting displays from punks and police alike. I’m too tired to think much about it…just going to go to sleep and hope the city’s back to normal tomorrow morning.

I'm okay with frogs. Not so much with the boils.

On Friday I’ll be flying to Nova Scotia. While I’m happy to get away, to see my family and celebrate a dear friend’s wedding, I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed to be missing the G20, though I suspect it’ll all just fizzle into a big billion-dollar pile of nothing.

Then again, with the earthquake today, massive police force in the streets and tornadoes in the area, maybe it’s best we get out of the town before Lake Ontario turns to blood.

Father's day

As you might remember, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup ten days ago. This made me happy for several reasons, but it made gave Nellie an extra reason to celebrate. Her dad was a Blackhawks fan all his life, right up until his death twelve years ago.

After he died she always said that if the Hawks won the cup, she’d take the picture from the newspaper, frame it and have it placed on his grave.

And so:

Enjoy it, sir.

Now we're gonna be face-to-face

Last night, as part of nxne, about a zurbillion of us crowded into Yonge-Dundas Square to see the godfathers of punk: Iggy and the Stooges. Unfortunately Nellie and I arrived too late to see The Raveonettes play; dinner at the nearby Queen and Beaver dragged a little.

Though I could barely see them from where we were, I could certainly hear them. And feel them. They kicked off with “Raw Power” and “Search and Destroy”, and covered the other things everyone was waiting to hear…”I Got A Right”, “Fun House” and most especially “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. In fact, during the last, a mosh pit broke out…well, pretty much right on top of me.  So I got a little bruised while shielding Nellie from drunk 45-year-olds who never quite let go of grunge. I blame Mudhoney‘s show at the square two nights before.

No matter; a hearty thank you to nxne and Toronto for giving me the chance to see a living legend for free in my back yard.

"You think I'm an arsehole. And I'm not, really. I'm just British."

As a little prelude to this fall’s Napa/Sonoma trip, we watched Bottle Shock (imdb | rotten tomatoes) yesterday. Not great. It swung too wildly between the good (Alan Rickman, as always, and the beautiful California countryside) and the bad (70s clothing turns my stomach, as do Bill Pullman and the non-Kirk Chris Pine) for me to recommend it, but damn if it make me want to pull another bottle out of the wine fridge.

Way at the other end of the bleak-meter was The Road (imdb | rotten tomatoes), which I kind of assumed they’d ruin, especially after seeing Charlize Theron in the previews. But they didn’t ruin it at all, and Theron’s part of the mother actually helped, I think. Certainly they explain more about the story’s genesis to the viewer than to those who read the book, but it was probably necessary. Anyway, watching it made me want to read more Cormac McCarthy, so I pulled Blood Meridian off the shelf and set to it last night. I reckon I’ll be despondent by tomorrow and homicidal by Friday.

Egregious

Everyone knows I love a good graphic, and this one (from the excellent FlowingData.com) is a particularly eye-popping example. It provides pretty clear evidence of how disproportionately irresponsible BP’s North American operations are.

Courtesy of Flowing Data