Photo by Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, used under Creative Commons license

Two worlds

Cross another Toronto beer hot spot off the list: last night we tried Stout Irish Pub on Carlton. It was a busy place, being open on (Good) Friday night, so we took the last two spots at the bar, ate dinner (meh; my spicy chicken sandwich was just okay, while they actually brought Nellie the completely wrong soup), and tried some new beers. I had a Wellington Terrestrial Brown Ale, a Sawdust City Skinny Dipping With Friends Stout, and a Dieu du Ciel Grande Noirceur before we shared a large bottle of Church Key Zwei Welten Dunkelweizen Bock. So, to sum up: good beer and friendly bartenders, but not in the real top tier of beer places in the city. Still, a solid choice in a part of town without much to offer, beer-wise.

Speaking of pubs: earlier that day, while out for some lunch at the Jason George, a little girl — maybe 8 or 9 years old — walked up to our table and just took fries off my plate. So that happened.


Photo by Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by Thomas Hawk, used under Creative Commons license

The kid

I watch lots of hockey. Lots and lots and lots. In fact I’m watching a Montreal Canadiens game, en Français, as I write this. I’ve also been to a fair number of games now, mostly at the ACC, as my work sometimes affords me a chance to go. I feel bad about that — I despise the Leafs, and feel bad taking a seat from someone who would dearly love to see a game, but don’t want to be rude to those who invite me, and anyway still enjoy seeing the game played live. You just don’t get a sense, watching it on TV, how fast and fluid the game is.

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to see the Leafs play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’d actually seen that match-up live once before, but with a key difference: Sidney Crosby didn’t play the first time. Last week I got to see the best player in the world live.

To be honest, it freaked me out a little. Like I said, I watch a lot of hockey, and I’ve gotten pretty good at reading the play, spotting the open man, guessing where the next pass will go, identifying openings and seams which — if exploited — could lead to a goal. So, normally when I watch a game I feel like I’m about half a second ahead of the play. But not with Crosby. With Crosby, I was behind. Actually, I was completely out of the play. Two or three times he passed the puck somewhere I hadn’t been expecting, to a space I didn’t know was occupied until his teammate had the puck on his stick. Like the one at the 2:38 mark in this video, behind his back to Pascal Dupuis who was so open Crosby was likely the only player on either team who knew he was there.

The Pens came from behind to beat the Leafs 3-1, and I got to see Sidney Crosby play, so I was a happy guy.

Oh, and we had dinner at Aria before the game, my first time there. It was…just okay. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back, but it’s certainly better than most other options that close to the ACC.


Photo by Thomas Hawk, used under Creative Commons license

Image by GOTSfile, used under creative commons license

“You think I’m not serious just because I carry a rabbit?”

Here’s how we’ve spent our last 72 hours (work notwithstanding):

  • Yummy beers at Bar Hop
  • The Game of Thrones exhibit at the Design Exchange, which was small, but free, and not at all bad. Just got me even more excited for March 31st.
  • Meat at Triple A
  • Dinner at Richmond Station, our first time back since Nellie’s birthday. We didn’t have a reservation, but they managed to find us a table upstairs…a cool space, since you can see the kitchen preparing the dishes. Just like the first time the food was good, and the service/servers were excellent. It’s quickly becoming one of my very favourite places in the neighbourhood.
  • Watched Seven Psychopaths (imdb | rotten tomatoes), made by the director of In Bruges. Very entertaining. Christopher Walken, man. Just…yeah.
  • Safe House (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was pretty meh, but at least it gave us an early preview of Cape Town.


Image by GOTSfile, used under creative commons license

“Who are you killing next? Do you take requests? Because I was thinking maybe some Kardashians.”

Two recent movie watches, one drawing some laughs intentionally, the other not so much.

God Bless America (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was Bobcat Goldthwait’s third feature in the last few years. It’s a funny, if clumsy, cri de couer against the vanity and banality of reality TV, radio shock jocks, bloviating political pundits, and other forms of celebrated hatefulness in popular culture. The best part was how following each killing of a mean person by the everyman protagonist, the media’s attempt to blame something simple and headline-y (terrorists! violent movies!) rather than look for a pattern. Anyway, it’s a nice — though extremely violent — anti-stupid fantasy for those of us who hate TMZ and Glenn Beck.

Nellie was determined to watch the remake of Red Dawn (imdb | rotten tomatoes), even though it carries a 12% rating and was rewritten and delayed for ages. I like how Rotten Tomatoes summed it up: “The rebooted Red Dawn lacks the original’s topicality, but at least pays tribute in delivering the same short shrift to character development and general logic.” I mean, they didn’t even leave in the iconic scene — the one good thing about the original — of hundreds of parachutes falling quietly to the ground outside the school’s windows. Instead, we get a cutting-room-floor scene from Friday Night Lights and a Camaro with a minigun mounted on top. Blech.

Photo courtesy of brizzle born and bred, used under Creative Commons license

The fifty best Bob Dylan songs

Most people who get sick with a cold or the flu just curl up in bed or watch a dumb movie on TV. Not my dad. Here’s the story my brother and I got from my mom a couple weeks ago:

“When Dad was sick with a cold last week I bought the current Rolling Stone Magazine because it had Bob Dylan’s picture on it and flipping through, I saw there was an interview, so thought it might help him pass some time. I did not look at the back, but apparently the Rolling Stone panel had selected the top 100 Dylan songs and because they don’t all match Dad’s choices, he has asked me to share his list and their rankings with you.”

He asked my mom to send it to us because, of course, my dad doesn’t have anything to do with computers. So, my brother and I made lists of our own. Here’s mine:

  1. “Like A Rolling Stone”
  2. “Maggie’s Farm”
  3. “Not Dark Yet”
  4. “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
  5. “House Carpenter”
  6. “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”
  7. “When The Ship Comes In”
  8. “With God On Our Side”
  9. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
  10. “The Times They Are A-Changin'”
  11. “Masters Of War”
  12. “Highlands”
  13. “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”
  14. “Cold Irons Bound”
  15. “Forever Young”
  16. “When I Paint My Masterpiece”
  17. “Tombstone Blues”
  18. “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”
  19. “Girl from the North Country”
  20. “Seven Curses”
  21. “Desolation Row”
  22. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
  23. “High Water (For Charley Patton)”
  24. “Most Of The Time”
  25. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
  26. “Boots Of Spanish Leather”
  27. “Ballad Of A Thin Man”
  28. “I Shall Be Released”
  29. “The Ballad Of Hollis Brown”
  30. “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”
  31. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
  32. “Kingsport Town”
  33. “Highway 61 Revisited”
  34. “Dirt Road Blues”
  35. “Drifter’s Escape”
  36. “Outlaw Blues”
  37. “All Along The Watchtower”
  38. “Blowin’ In The Wind”
  39. “Who Killed Davey Moore?”
  40. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
  41. “Love Sick”
  42. “Where Teardrops Fall”
  43. “Mama, You Been On My Mind”
  44. “Foot Of Pride”
  45. “Someday Baby”
  46. “Thunder On The Mountain”
  47. “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum”
  48. “Man In The Long Black Coat”
  49. “Everything Is Broken”
  50. “The Levee’s Gonna Break”

I looked at neither my dad’s list nor my brother’s before making my own, but not surprisingly there was some crossover:

  • Three songs were in both my top ten list and my dad’s: “Like A Rolling Stone”, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
  • Four songs were in both my top ten list and brother’s: “Like A Rolling Stone”, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”, and “Maggie’s Farm”
  • My dad and brother crossed over on only two: “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Desolation Row”.
  • Obviously “Like A Rolling Stone” was the only song to make all of our top ten lists. My brother and I both independently ranked it #1. So, in what seemed a rather obvious move, did Rolling Stone. My dad claims his top ten was “not in order”, but “Like A Rolling Stone” was listed first, so I’m holding him to that and saying that we all picked it.

My dad’s top ten, by the way:

  • “Like a Rolling Stone”
  • “Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
  • “Desolation Row”
  • “Blowin’ In The Wind”
  • “Forever Young”
  • “Girl From the North Country”
  • “Highlands”
  • “Farewell Angelina”
  • “She Belongs To Me”
  • “High Water”

And my brother’s:

  1. “Like a Rolling Stone”
  2. “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”
  3. “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”
  4. “Desolation Row”
  5. “Blind Willie McTell”
  6. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
  7. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”
  8. “Masters of War”
  9. “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
  10. “Maggie’s Farm”


Photo courtesy of brizzle born and bred, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by boyce duprey, used under creative commons license

“It’s all a deep end.”

Like me, many of you probably remember an awful movie coming out in the mid-90s called Judge Dredd (imdb | rotten tomatoes), in which Sylvester Stallone droned “I AM THE LAW” and all but ruined the character for anyone who’d read the comic book. I wasn’t even aware it had been a comic book — it was bigger in the UK than here — until Dredd (imdb | rotten tomatoes) showed up in last year’s TIFF lineup…Midnight Madness, specifically, which made sense given the violence on offer.

I hesitate to call it a remake — what I remember of that awful Stallone movie bears little resemblance to Dredd, by all accounts a much more faithful depiction of the original character. It was far from a great movie, and will be far too gory for some people’s tastes, but was a solid little Saturday afternoon good(ish)-guy-vs-very-bad-guy flick.


Photo by boyce duprey, used under creative commons license