No blogging for the next few days as I’m off for a weekend. If you’re looking for me I’ll be with Nellie, T-Bone and The Sof, seeing Beamsville and Niagara from their lovely tasting rooms, celebrating the end of my 35th year as a human.

Cheers, everyone.

"The seed that we planted in this man's mind may change everything."

Yet another super weekend. Friday started when I walked straight from work to Fieramosca for dinner with CBGB and GB’s sister & brother-in-law. We tried to sit outside, really we did, but the humidity was just oppressive. We took the bulk of our meal indoors, and had the relaxing and satisfying evening we always have there. The drink across the street probably wasn’t a great idea…it was hot, we were full and someone (not me this time!) ended up with most of a pint on their pants.

On Saturday, once Nellie had slept off the limoncello, we did our usual run to the market and then hid out in the air conditioning for a bit. Ultimately the day was all about seeing Inception (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the Scotiamount, which I LOVED. So good. Such a rare combination, that; an action movie that feels gritty and still cerebral. I don’t want to give away much to those who haven’t seen it, but among the many memorable scenes there’s a long hallway fight and subsequent sequence featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt — certainly one of my favourite actors working today — that just blew my mind. What was left of it to blow, anyway. Highly, highly recommended, though I would say that there’s little need to see it in IMAX as we did. I think you could see this on a regular modern movie theatre screen and not lose anything. Plus, you wouldn’t have to suffer through the tragically cheesy IMAX laser light show before the film.

Not yet done with movies, we decided to take shelter from the rain and watch The Runaways (imdb | rotten tomatoes) on TV. Neither of us knew much about the band, or how it started, or even how young the girls were…just that Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Curry had been members. It was okay…really, it looked more like an art project than a movie, which is probably because Floria Sigismondi directed it. And while Michael Shannon was good, I mainly wanted to punch him in the face. So be warned.

My advice: just don't mix them

I don’t know when I started enjoying wine. The last few years, certainly; I distinctly remember not drinking wine until at least 2001 and wouldn’t have started enjoying it until much later. It probably coincided with Nellie discovering  good wine, whatever that means.

Nowadays, while I’m hardly an aficionado, I quite enjoy it. I know enough to have favourite varietals and regions. I like Italian whites and California Cab Sauv, and I (naturally) hate Merlot. I like lighter, thinner wines like Pinot over robust wines like Bordeaux or Amarone. I don’t generally like French wine, except when I’m in France, which I can’t really explain. And I’ve developed a real fondness for, and interest in, Ontario wines. To wit: we’ve finally taken advantage of living next door to the Niagara region, and plan to soon visit the burgeoning Prince Edward County region. Our upcoming trip to San Francisco with a side trip to Napa has morphed into Napa-Sonoma-Healdsburg with San Francisco bookends. Our last lengthy trip to Nova Scotia included a visit to their young & interesting wine region. I’m even regretting not making a jaunt through the Okanagan part of our last trip to BC. And, of course, I’m hoping for one or two wine region outings when we visit the brother in Australia next year.

Nellie and I are (for a number of reasons beyond this one, it’s safe to say) odd: we both really enjoy beer and wine. I’d say I still prefer beer to wine, if I could pick only one, and I’m sure Nellie would say the opposite, but I think there aren’t many people who don’t prefer one and tolerate the other…let alone a pair of them. By the way, guys, if you’d like to get your wine-loving missus on-board with ze bier, check this out. Anyway, back to that California trip: for our five days in Napa we’re (obviously) drinking nothing but wine, whereas in San Francisco we’ve scoped out all the best beer places and can’t wait to try all the Trappist and microbrew goodness that we can’t get here in Toronto. We’re weird that way.

Side note, though: barley wine may sound like the best of these worlds. It is not. It most definitely not.


In which I fall asleep during my own dinner party

Yes, yes, I’m aware. I’m sensitive to the fact that this blog has turned into little more than a diary of shit I do daily weekly, or a dump of what songs I’m listening to or movies I just watched, instead of what I’m thinking. I had to go back almost five months to find a blog post that took the real live brain cells required to form an opinion. This stems from the fact that I have no time to actually think any more, just run around like an idiot, rest up for the following day and go back to reacting.

I should have more than this. I should be able to formulate interesting thoughts and analysis out of the books I’m reading, like The Imperfectionists or Blood Meridian or Ill Fares The Land. Or the music I’m listening to like The National or Titus Andronicus or Mates of State or Sleigh Bells. Or the TV I’m watching like Treme or Friday Night Lights or True Blood. Or the movies I’ve been watching, like Wanted or The Taking of Pelham 123 or Public Enemies. Okay, maybe not the movies. But still, work hours aside, I’m getting outside stimuli that should be fostering thoughtful writing. Even the G20 or a trip to Halifax or a day visit to the islands…but nothing. Actually, that’s not true; the G20 gave me plenty of ideas to write about. It’s just that every time I thought about writing I didn’t have time, or I just didn’t feel like it.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe my appetite for blogging is just dead. I started doing this nine years ago, before I even knew what blogging was and I had to write custom software to automagically transfer my thoughts to the interweb, so perhaps ze magic has disappeared. I feel like…like…oh, fuck it. Aaaaaaaaand VENN!!

Best songs of the year so far

  • shearwater . “castaways”
  • hidden cameras . “he falls to me”
  • titus andronicus . “four score and seven”
  • titus andronicus . “the battle of hampton roads”
  • besnard lakes . “like the ocean, like the innocent part II”
  • frightened rabbit . “things”
  • black francis . “six legged man”
  • avi buffalo . “what’s in it for?”
  • vampire weekend . “white sky”
  • vampire weekend . “holiday”
  • kissaway trail . “beat your heartbeat”
  • dead weather . “gasoline”
  • national . “bloodbuzz ohio”
  • national . “vanderlyle crybaby geeks”
  • band of horses . “bartles + james”
  • mates of state . “long way home”

Quel weekend

Oooh, that was nice. Every weekend should be a 4-day long weekend. I know, I know, then they wouldn’t seem as special, but think of the bar sales!

Wednesday night we picked up two bottles of Rosewood Estates wine (the 2008 Semillon and 2008 Süssreserve Riesling) and some Cumbrae’s steaks by way of provisions, before kicking off our long weekend at Beerbistro (too crowded inside, too cold outside) and Duggan’s (just right). Not a long night, though…we were pacing ourselves.

I’ve already talked about Thursday — Canada Day — over here.

By Friday the weather was really picking up…good timing, as we’d decided to take the day off work. We began the day watching the orange jerseys parade along King Street toward Betty’s for the Netherlands-Brazil match before finding a less crowded seat at the Jason George from which to watch. Holland won and King Street went mad; we did a little furniture & art shopping, raided St. Lawrence Market, cleaned up our place (finally!), went for a run, made some ploughman’s lunch and drank a bottle of Firesteed Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Saturday started much like Friday: back to the Jason George to watch the Germany-Argentina match before hitting the farmer’s market and taking a stroll to the Distillery District. I needed a walk, Nellie needed wine glasses, and we both wanted to check out some art. Naturally we ended up sitting in the Mill Street brew pub, watching the excellent second half of the Spain-Paraguay match. When we arrived home Nellie completed her preparations for barbecued ribs, which were a tad on the spicy side…by which I mean they tasted like Satan had pissed hellfire in the sauce. Tasty, but they hurt my ever-so-delicate mouth.

Somewhere in there, between enjoying the outdoors at ground- or balcony-level, we watched a bunch of mediocre movies: My Best Friend’s Girl (imdb | rotten tomatoes), Green Zone (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and Thirst (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Actually, My Best Friend’s Girl was shit, but it was free, so I feel less bad about watching it.

Sunday was, sadly, the beginning of our return to reality. While we had fun taking pictures of all the hubbub of the Queen’s visit to our neighbourhood cathedral and relaxing on our balcony for the morning, it was back to work for me in the afternoon.

Happy: Canada Day

Oh my, but it’s been a nice Canada Day. We were up pretty early — improbably, Nellie get out of bed before I did — and walked down to the waterfront to catch the ferry to the islands. First we rented bikes (crappy ones, too…next time I need to find a better place from which to rent) from Centre Island, rode to the far end of Hanlon’s Point for some pictures and rode back to the pier. Nice.

Next we walked along the boardwalk toward Ward’s Island, looking out over the lake and the Leslie Street Spit. We stopped for lunch at the Rectory Cafe, which we’ve been meaning to try for years. Man, was it worth the wait. My pulled pork wrap was fantastic, Nellie’s pasta with shrimp, tomatoes and olive oil was simple and tasty, and we had several Ontario wines (Malivoire pinot gris and rose, and Fielding White Conception) throughout. We wrapped it up with an amazing sticky toffee pudding.

As we got up to leave we looked out over the lake and saw one of the tall ships we thought was coming into the harbour for the waterfront festival, but was in fact a ship that sails around the harbour all the time. Still…pretty! Then we walked across Ward’s Island, taking the pictures I’d hoped to get in my ill-fated excursion three years ago. A little good timing with the ferry and we were back on dry land, surrounded by hordes of families decked out in red.

Not quite done with the day yet, we sat on the sunny patio at Bier Markt and had some Canadian beers: Beau’s Lugtread and Denison’s. Then…well, I needed a nap. We came home and I made the couch my lover while we watched a crap movie, and then Nellie grilled up some amazing steak to go with yet more Canadian wine (2008 Rosewood Semillon and a bottle of L’Acadie Alchemy) while we watch the city light up with the minortillery of fireworks.

Happy birthday, country!