Cover photo by Marc Wathieu, used under Creative Commons

“I’m not a vocal coach anymore, but I would make an exception for you because you sound like a squeaky toy.”

I’ve been a Lake Bell fan for a while, but after watching her directorial debut In A World… (imdb | rotten tomatoes) said fandom has gone up a few notches. It’s a great little entrée of a film, sweet and medium light along the same lines as Drinking Buddies, but more witty and less heavy.

Also, one gets the sense that this whole project sprung out of an idea she had for a film about wanting to help girls who sound like sexy babies. And I would watch the hell out of that film.

.:.

Cover photo by Marc Wathieu, used under Creative Commons

Cover photo from sessiontoronto.com

Session V

Yesterday we attended the fifth annual Session beer festival, for our fourth straight year. This year it was in a significantly more convenient location for us: Yonge Dundas Square. More on that later.

First, the important stuff. Here’s what we tried:

  1. Brickworks Batch:1904 cider
  2. Oast House Bound To Your Own Weisses — collaboration with Cuff The Duke (both)
  3. Broadhead Long Shot White (him); Underdog Pale (her)
  4. Nickel Brook Berliner Weisse German sour (him); So Say We All session IPA (her)
  5. Lake Of Bays Lake Monster red wheat (him); Sarsaparilla Belgian wheat (her)
  6. Bell City session IPA (him); Lenoir Belgian ale (her)
  7. Sawdust City Always Take The Weatherman’s Ad-Weiss rhubarb dunkel weiss (him); Golden Beach pale (her)
  8. Central City Red Racer IPA (him); Steam Whistle Dark Sea Salt IPL — collaboration with The Darcys (her)
  9. Beau’s Maddaddamites Noobroo summer gruit — collaboration with Margaret Atwood (him); Flying Monkeys Citrus Mistress (her)
  10. Junction Columbus pale ale / Flying Monkeys Genius Of Suburbia session pale (him…dumped the Columbus after the first couple of sips and hurriedly replaced it with the Genius); Brakeman’s session ale (her)
  11. Spearhead Jamaican Fire coffee stout (him); India White ale (her)
  12. Wellington chocolate milk stout (him); Hillside Island Hopper pale ale — collaboration with the Hillside Festival (her)

For the second year in a row my favourite was a milk stout. Last year it was the Beau’s/Tom Green collaboration, and this year it was my final beer: the Wellington chocolate milk stout. Speaking of Tom Green, he made an appearance, still promoting (and drinking) said milk stout.

There were 18 other breweries that we didn’t hit, mostly because we’d either already tried everything they offered or the one-off produced for Session didn’t grab us. Or because we just didn’t want more cider. We did consume our annual Sassy Lamb cupcake though.

Overall, I enjoyed this year’s festival far more than last year…actually, it’s probably my favourite Session that we’ve been to overall. Last year’s location was further away, much more cramped, and it didn’t help that the weather was scorching. This year the weather was beautiful but temperate, and the bathroom situation was entirely civilized. The crowds were also much more reasonable..I think splitting it across two days allowed everyone to have some elbow room…you didn’t have to fight through a crowd to get another beer, and there were plenty of places to stand and drink. Well done, Session organizers.

We walked home after that last one, or rather, we walked straight to dinner at Triple A. A huge plate of nachos was exactly what we needed before heading home and splitting a bottle of — naturally — the Session Saison.

.:.

Cover photo from sessiontoronto.com

WOSA

This past Monday we attended a dinner at Parts & Labour, put on by WineAlign and WOSA Canada — the local PR arm of the South African wine industry. The focus of the evening was, obviously, South African wine. We were up for that, and for trying a new place, so boom. Done.

The evening certainly did nothing to dull the affection we gained for South African while visiting the country last fall. I agree with host David Lawrason: it may be the best value wine on the market right now. None of the wines we tried blew our minds, but they were very solid for bottles which (mostly) run $15 at the LCBO. The whites got too warm while we waited for our food so I’m not sure I got the full effect there.

Here’s what we drank:

  • Reception wines: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2013; Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013
  • Appetizer wines, served with grilled broccolini: Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay 2013, Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012, The Wolftrap White 2013
  • Main wines, served with grilled flat iron steak: Fleur Du Cap Shiraz 2010, Nederburg Manor House Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, The Chocolate Block 2011

I’m not sure what the reception wines were paired with, because the seniors who made up 95% of the attendees would swarm any server with a tray before they got ten feet from the kitchen. Some of them were taking 3 or 4 hors d’oeuvres at a time. It was weird. The food was okay…good steak but otherwise nothing special. We felt a little underwhelmed by the evening and, frankly, in need of a proper full glass of wine. This event was okay, but it was no Tawse wine members dinner.

Just before we left I had a chance to meet Will Predhomme for the first time. He’d been sitting behind us at dinner, so I thanked him for co-making the delicious North Shore Project Syrah and talked Nova Scotia sparkling for a bit. After that we jumped on the streetcar, jumping off again at Yonge and hitting Richmond Station for a goddamn full pour. I had Norm Hardie cab franc; she had Tawse Pinot. When in South Africa, drink South African. When in Ontario…

Cover photo by Martyn Davis, used under Creative Commons license

So sad.

From The GuardianOh l’amour: Paris bridge rail collapses under weight of too much love.

The path of true love for tourists in Paris has often involved a stroll across the Pont des Arts and the attachment of a “love lock” to its railings. The key is then thrown into the river Seine.

But the celebrated bridge had to be evacuated at the weekend after part of the railing collapsed under the weight of love locks attached to it.

Police ordered visitors to leave and closed the footbridge after a 2.4-metre section of railing broke loose.

I did a little Googling after reading this and found all these pictures of how the locks have infested the bridge, like some sort of trendy cancer. It’s awful. It was one of the prettiest things we saw in Paris on our first visit in 2007, just before all this lock silliness started.

But hey, why let a beautiful setting like that survive? Better to smother it with rusting, meaningless crap.

Get better soon, Paris.

.:.

Cover photo by Martyn Davis, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Elliot Brown, used under Creative Commons license

“Be quiet Eugene, nobody’s listening to you.”

Welp, it seems like the Turing test might have finally been passed.

A supercomputer running a program simulating a 13-year-old boy named Eugene has passed the Turing Test at an event held at London’s Royal Society.

The Turing Test is based on 20th century mathematician and code-breaker Turing’s 1950 famous question and answer game, ‘Can Machines Think?’. The experiment investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans. The event is particularly poignant as it took place on the 60th anniversary of Turing’s death, nearly six months after he was given a posthumous royal pardon.

If a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five minute keyboard conversations it passes the test. No computer has ever achieved this, until now. Eugene managed to convince 33% of the human judges that it was human.

I, for one, welcome our new Skynetty overlords.

[UPDATE: but not really.]

.:.

Cover photo by Elliot Brown, used under Creative Commons license

 

Cover photo by Tim Dickinson, used under Creative Commons license

There and back again (in 48 hours)

This past weekend involved a rapid-fire trip back to see family in NS, since the Aussie brother was visiting. We popped in to see the mother-in-law in Truro, then spent a little under two days on the family farm. We ate barbecue and hung with my nephews and nieces (including the brand new one) and slept in and enjoyed the weather and got mega-licked by dogs and ate drive-thru sundaes from Dairy Queen and went for walks through blueberry blossoms and helped set up a trampoline and tried some new beer and got sunburned and watched tennis.

Also: apparently I’ve developed an allergy to NS, because as soon as I got off the plane in Halifax I was stuffed up, coughing, and wiping my eyes. As soon as we touched down back in Toronto I was fine.

.:.

Cover photo by Tim Dickinson, used under Creative Commons license