19 years ago when I was a university sophomore in Halifax (side note: I AM OLD) the city got an exciting new sports team: The Mooseheads. They were the first team from the Maritime provinces to join the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (there are now six) and it was the first opportunity I’d had to watch the primary feeder league to the NHL.
I confess, I didn’t follow the team too much after I left Halifax, but was excited to see them win the 2013 Memorial Cup — the tournament between the top major junior teams in the country — tonight in Saskatoon. Well done lads, and congratulations to Halifax. I surely wish I could be there tonight.
Photo by Hockadilly, used under Creative Commons license
I really do love staying in town on May 2-4 weekend. It seems like everyone else in Toronto drives to a cottage somewhere, leaving the downtown core downright civilized for the entire weekend. You can get dinner reservations. Movies aren’t sold out (more on that in a minute). Patios have elbow room. We almost always spend this weekend in the city, and we always love it when we do.
Friday night I grabbed drinks with a few work people on the back patio at The Oxley, which was somehow all but empty. On the way home I stopped for a few more at Volo, which incredibly was not rammed full on a Friday night.
St. Lawrence Market was busy when I got there around 11 on Saturday, but nothing like it’s normal levels of craziness at that time. The Scotiabank theatre — which I’d expect to be a mad house on the opening weekend of a big movie like Star Trek: Into Darkness (imdb | rotten tomatoes) — was fairly sensible. The movie was very good too…I can’t say much without giving away important plot points, but the audience loved. It maybe wasn’t quite on the same level as its predecessor (perhaps because that one was such a surprise) but it was still highly entertaining.
Django Unchained (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was violent and profane and funny and long, like most Tarantino films. It was also pretty uncomfortable to watch, and I kept thinking about how hard it must have been for the actors to say those lines. It was convincing, though, since I felt pleased every time a slave owner met his end. If you’re not overly sensitive about skulls exploding from gunfire and people being torn apart by dogs, I’d recommend this. And yes, that felt like a very odd sentence to write.
Photo from Wolf Gang, used under Creative Commons license
Seriously, I don’t see this as a problem at all. Which is probably not what the LCBO wants to hear, since they’re counting on using the threat of a strike on the eve of May 2-4 weekend — Think of all the poor cottagers! And where are frat boys supposed to buy their Laker?! — for leverage. But, living where I live, it’s a minor inconvenience at worst.
And I get that I’m lucky (though I prefer to think of it as being well-prepared) to have >100 bottles of wine at home just waiting to be opened, but — like the rest of Toronto — I’m an hour away from Beamsville and Vineland, where we can buy stellar wine from the likes of Thirty Bench, Rosewood, Hidden Bench, Fielding, Daniel Lenko, Tawse, Kacaba, Megalomaniac, Foreign Affair, and Vineland Estates. People at the east end of the GTA or Ottawa are 2-3 hours from Prince Edward County, where they could enjoy the scenery and stock up on more than enough outstanding wine to get them through an LCBO blackout.
Remember: nature abhors a monopoly. It also drinks local.
I spent most of last week at a conference just outside of Phoenix. This was my view each morning:
Not bad, right? But with this trip coming right on the heels of the previous week’s trip to Boston, I was ready to come back to Toronto and have a couple of quiet weekends. Fortunately while I was away the long Toronto winter finally breathed its last. I arrived home Thursday to find runners and cyclists swarming the waterfront, leaves finally breaking out on trees, and the Canadiens playing their first playoff game.
As sure as those are signs of spring, so too is Hot Docs. My travel schedule kept us from seeing our usual five screenings this year, but we did manage to squeak in a few. First, after a bite and a beer at The Oxley followed by a few spectacular glasses of wine (my ’99 Peter Lehmann Shiraz really stood out) at Opus we took in a late screening of Blackfish. I get emotional every time I think about Tilikum or Dawn Brancheau or pretty much any other part of that film so I’m not going to describe it much more here. I’m just going to say this: SeaWorld can go fuck itself. So can MarineLand. So can anyone who goes there.
After our customary pre-Hot Docs stop on the patio at the Victory Café…
After that we needed another drink. We made our way (slowly, happily) down to Bellwoods Brewery, which we’d shamefully not yet tried despite it being named the 3rd-best new brewery in the world last year. We had several tasty pints and ate bread and salumi and rosemary fries, and sat in the perfect inside-but-almost-outside weather.