Photo by enigmabadger, used under Creative Commons license

2012 annual report: mobile

Did last year’s trend of consuming less media and consuming more wine & food continue in 2012? Yes. Did it maybe accelerate a little? Probably. Am I okay with this? Mostly.I mean, I am a little bummed that I missed some great movies this year, but I plan to spend the next week or so catching up. Still, I saw only 54 new films this year, down from 69 last year, and we rarely make a point of seeing films in theatres anymore. While it doesn’t feel like film is fading into a secondary pursuit the way that music has, it’s not quite at the top of my list anymore either. Actually — and somewhat surprisingly — music made a bit of a comeback this year: 14 new albums purchased versus 9 last year. It’s still nothing like it was a few years ago, though. I suspect this is the new normal. Also the new normal: I read far more tweets and news feeds than anything else, but still managed to consume a few books for fun, including Matterhorn11/22/63, The Psychopath Test, and Unbroken.

Caloric consumption continued unabated, though. We tried quite a few new (for us) places in Toronto, including Swirl, Goods & Provisions, Trevor, E11even, Midfield Wine Bar, Salt, Enoteca Sociale, The Oxley, The Beer Academy, Loire, Bestellen, Wvrst, Morgan’s On The Danforth, Bar Hop, AAA, and The Stockyards. Midfield, Enoteca, Bestellen, Wvrst, and AAA instantly became favourites. Some  favourites hosted a few special occasions too, like Jacobs & Co. for both Nellie’s birthday and our anniversary; a 10-course dinner paired with Rogue beer at Beerbistro; and our second try at the world’s top-rated beer at Bar Hop.

Really, though, this year’s recurring theme was about being ambulatory. Nellie and I took off on five weekend trips around Ontario (Prince Edward County; our friends’ cottage on Bat Lake; an aborted camping stay in Bon Echo; two visits to Niagara’s wine country), four trips out of the country (New Orleans with friends to see the Final Four; Sedona and the Grand Canyon just before I spoke at a conference in Phoenix; New York; Amsterdam & Brussels), and Nova Scotia for Christmas. There was no monster trip in there like Australia last year, and only the Amsterdam half of our European trip was remarkable, but the atmosphere of New Orleans, the beauty of Arizona, and the blast of NYC more than met our travel experience quota. In addition to Phoenix I logged a handful of quick trips  for work (San Francisco; Chicago; Washington DC; New York; London) but tight schedules kept me from exploring much beyond a few watering holes and restaurants.

Not that there wasn’t fun to be had right back here in Toronto, like Hot Docs, the Session 99 craft beer festival, TIFF (including a once-in-a-lifetime Jason Reitman table read), Nuit Blanche, a killer Jack White concert, and the 100th Grey Cup. We watched the Oscars with our friends T-Bone and The Sof, hosted a few little soirées at our place to kill our wine collection, tried to change our friend Lisa’s mind about beer, watched some March Madness with CBJ+M, introduced our friend Kaylea to Midfield, had a tiny 15-year Dalhousie reunion, sipped our way through a Zinfandel tasting, watched some stand-up comedy with MLK & CBGB, and made one of my favourite baristas happy by giving him a bayonet. Of course, getting to and from these things was a lot more enjoyable this year because of one of my favourite new things about the city: Uber.

Funnily enough, it was right here in Toronto that the most significant movement of all happened: after five and a half years in our first home we bought a new one. We remained in the same neighbourhood — the same building, in fact — but acquired more space for ourselves, the cats, and of course the wine. We’ve been in it less than a month, and it feels more and more like home each day. After three months working through the unpleasant mechanics of buying one home whilst selling the one you’re in, it feels good to actually enjoy the new home rather than just planning for it.

The thread of movement, whether it was across an ocean or down the stairs, which ran through this year is likely to continue into the next, as we’ve given ourselves the ambitious goal of seeing all seven continents before I turn 40. That gives us less than three years to see four more continents, but we have a plan. We begin that journey next year, and fully expect our movement from this point on to present more of an adventure than previous excursions; perhaps that’s an early prediction for next year’s theme.

However you fared in 2012, I wish for you a moving 2013. Happy new year, everyone.


Photo by enigmabadger, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by terren in Virginia, used under Creative Commons license

Best songs of 2012

With the same warning label that I applied to my best-albums-of-the-year post, here are my 20 favourite songs from 2012:

  • Alabama Shakes . “Hold On”
  • Allo Darlin’ . “Europe”
  • Amanda Palmer And The Grand Theft Orchestra . “Melody Dean”
  • Bry Webb . “Asa”
  • Ceremony . “Hysteria”
  • Cold Specks . “Winter Solstice”
  • Father John Misty . “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor . “Mladic”
  • Heartless Bastards . “Simple Feeling”
  • Jack White . “Love Interruption”
  • Japandroids . “The House That Heaven Built”
  • Low . “Nothing But Heart”
  • Oregon Bike Trails . “Summer Thing”
  • Perfume Genius . “Normal Song”
  • Raveonettes . “Young And Cold”
  • Sharon Van Etten . “All I Can”
  • Shearwater . “Dread Sovereign”
  • Spiritualized . “Hey Jane”
  • Tom Waits . “Chicago”
  • Walkmen . “Song For Leigh”

I think if I had to pick one from that list it would likely be “The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids. The whole album is great, but that one in particular kind of soundtracked my year.

Photo by terren in Virginia, used under Creative Commons license

Best movies of 2012

Just to be very clear, this is an incomplete list since we haven’t yet seen Zero Dark Thirty, Moonrise Kingdom, The Sessions, Skyfall, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Looper, This Is Not a Film, The Invisible War, Chasing Ice, Monsieur Lazhar, The Loved Ones, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, The House I Live In, The Queen of Versailles, Marley, The Angels’ Share, The Central Park Five, Bernie, Compliance, Life of Pi, Shut Up and Play the Hits, or Bully. Still, to this point in the year, here are my favourite movies in alphabetical order:

  • Argo
  • The Avengers
  • Beasts Of The Southern Wild
  • Brooklyn Castle
  • The Cabin In The Woods
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Hunt
  • The Imposter
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  • Sightseers


Photo by terren in Virginia, used under Creative Commons license

Best albums of 2012

In alphabetical order only:

  • Allo Darlin’ . Europe
  • Cloud Nothings . Attack On Memory
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor . Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
  • Japandroids . Celebration Rock
  • Low . C’mon
  • Perfume Genius . Put Your Back N 2 It TEEN . In Limbo
  • Shearwater . Animal Joy
  • Van Etten, Sharon . Tramp
  • Walkmen, The . Heaven
  • White, Jack . Blunderbuss

Note that I still have to listen to this year’s releases by Lightships (update: meh), A.C. Newman, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Band Of Horses (update: rubbish), Bat For Lashes (update: rubbish), Beach House, Calexico (update: meh), Chromatics (update: meh), The Happy Jawbone Family Band (update: rubbish), Metz (update: meh), Passion Pit (update: rubbish), Grizzly Bear (update: meh),Tallest Man On Earth (update: quite good), Tame Impala (update: meh), TEEN (update: excellent!), Titus Andronicus (update: meh), and Ty Segall, and that I’m still working on Divine Fits (update: meh), Sigur Ros (update: good), and Swans (update: meh).


Photo by terren in Virginia, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by moviesinla, used under Cerative Commons license

“You have poor social skills”

We’ve been on vacation for a week now, and it’s been a damn good one. I’ve already posted pictures summarizing our time on my family’s farm: basically, it was lots of food, dogs, family, gifts, cribbage (final tally was 11 games for me vs. 6 for my dad), and quiet time.

We ended up returning to Toronto a few hours early on the 26th to get ahead of the storm headed for Ontario and Quebec, and so were well-rested for the 27th. A good thing too, considering how busy it got. We did more cleaning, bought Nellie a Samsung Galaxy S3, had some poor beers and super-hot wings at Les 3 Brasseurs,  watched Silver Linings Playbook (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was a little better than I was expecting, finalized the sale of our old condo by picking up our cheque from the lawyer, and cracked open a bottle of Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial before heading to dinner at Jacobs & Co.

Said dinner, by the way, was as exquisite as we’ve come to expect from Jacobs. We split a 20 oz. Wagyu ribeye from Wagyu Sekai right here in Ontario. We’d both had Wagyu beef here before, but this one was a whole other level of buttery richness. Between us we could only eat 7 of the 11 slices of steak; we  had to give up and bring the other four home. The sommelier suggested a nice Barbaresco to complement the beef. I’d never have thought to make that match, but it worked nicely.

And, after all that, we still have a four-day weekend (more or less) coming up. Bitchin’.


Photo by moviesinla, used under Cerative Commons license

Abdij St. Sixtus

Last night: a much-needed break from unpacking, watching the news about carnage in a Connecticut school, and limping around on a broken toe. Our real estate agent sent us off for a meal at Politica, a resto bar off King West, his treat. Except the restaurant didn’t seem to get the memo, so the treat part fell through, but we still had a tasty dinner.

We kept the evening going by skipping over to Crush for a couple of wine flights. Most of what we tried was quite good, but the Eos Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Paso Robles was the highlight.

Somewhere between Politica and Crush we hatched a plan for a third stop: Bar Hop. I knew from a tweet earlier in the week that they’d scored some Westvleteren XII in the midst of the mad rush that overtook Toronto this week. We popped in, warmed up with one each (Mill Street Vanilla Porter for me, Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA for Nellie), watched a gaggle of woo-hoo girls come in and order shots, and then dropped the only-moderately-unreasonable $40 on a bottle of Westy. We’d had one while in Amsterdam earlier this year; I’d liked it but not loved it, and Nellie didn’t really remember it. This time around, my assessment was the same — while it’s very good, it’s far from my favourite beer ever — but Nellie really didn’t like it. “Dish soap” was her assessment, I believe. Oh well; it was an adventure (again) and a better bargain than lining up for a six-pack we’d struggle to finish.

We jumped in a cab to get home, a mostly uneventful ride…right up until our cabbie nearly killed a cyclist turning onto our street. Thankfully we’d had all that wine and trappist ale to steady our nerves, and yelled loudly and in time to stop him from creaming the guy.

St. Sixtus: patron saint of cyclists?