The second symphony

Near the beginning of the pandemic I backed a new kickstarter project by someone I’ve followed on Twitter for quite a while named Matt Brown. I used to listen to mamo, a podcast he co-hosted. I know he lives in Toronto, maybe even roughly the same area as me. I know we’ve traded tweets a few times. I know he works for TIFF. He’s in that sphere of people I feel like I know, but we wouldn’t recognize each other on the street. Or he wouldn’t recognize me, certainly.

Anyway, he launched a kickstarter to self-publish a collection of essays about Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie I very very much liked. I backed it, and the book arrived in the fall of 2020. Because I’ve been sucking so hard at reading I left it in my living room, not in the study with the rest of the books, a victim of my best intentions to read it “next” despite my throughput being zero.

But this year, with my love of reading feeling renewed — I’ve now finished two books in three weeks, as many as I’ve read in the past two years combined — I’ve read Brown’s book The Cinema Of Survival this week and really liked it. You can read reviews and buy it here, or buy it non-Amazonly here.

[A side note: I’ve never really embraced Goodreads, but it made me think of an earlier book-sharing site which Amazon bought and folded into Goodreads called Shelfari. I don’t know why it popped back into my head, but it did.]


Cover photo from the kickstarter page


A few years ago, on a flight to London (which seems as exotic as a rocket ride to the moon now) I watched the third installment in a documentary series, called Somm 3 (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It didn’t seem to matter much that it was out of order.

Earlier this week I finally got around to watching the first installment, Somm (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Some of the faces were familiar as they appear in the third documentary, but other than that it was an interesting, and nerve-wracking, journey on the obsessive torture tour that is the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Good god. I’m hoping the second one, Somm: Into The Bottle (imdb | rotten tomatoes), is a little less harrowing.

Also: while I’m fascinated by the wine subject matter, it’s been rather difficult to watch — many allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape have been levelled at members of the court since the documentaries came out, and several characters featured in one or more of the docs were expelled. One looms very large over the whole series: Fred Dame, who the candidates revered as some sort of god and who sat at a place of honour with Jancis Robinson and the late Stephen Spurrier in the third episode. Judging by the filmmakers’ instagram account another installment in the series is coming; I hope it addresses the toxicity in which these compelling stories were unfolding.

“You British don’t have a monopoly on snobbery, you know.” “Well, not a monopoly. More of a controlling interest.”

It seems that all my outings last week led to me getting sick. Not with COVID, but with the bug that appears to be going round. I took most of Tuesday and Wednesday off this week, which means I’m even further behind on…well, everything than I was before.

I did manage to watch a couple of movies while sick, like Tenet (imdb | rotten tomatoes), The Mauritanian (imdb | rotten tomatoes), and The Power Of The Dog (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Apparently I had a real hankering for Benedict Cumberbatch.

“I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. And I was in an elevator with Saddam Hussein.”

Somewhere, hither and thither, I’ve snuck in watching a few movies over the last (checks notes) eight months.

All were a little better than I expected (and four of the five have virtually the same RT score) even Greenland, which I really expected to be garbage that just played in the background. I do love a good disaster movie though.

“Money is an iron. Those creases all get smoothed out by money.”

After a tough work week (though, admittedly, my vacation day on Friday was super-relaxed) we decided to watch a movie after dinner. We could have gone with something light and fluffy, but instead finally watched Parasite (imdb | rotten tomatoes).

The best-picture Oscar was deserved, in my opinion. So good, so thoughtful, so richly-shot. Such incredible imagery: Ki-Jung smoking calmly, feet tucked up on the toilet exploding beneath her, stairs which almost served as a character. It was funny, biting, deep, well-acted, sad, important.

Highly recommended, as if you needed me to tell you that.


As I type this I’m waiting for my new Synology DS220+ Network Access Storage device to set itself up. Of course I named it Illmatic.

I’m excited to get all my old media loaded onto it and install Plex, so I’m not constantly swapping files onto backup & media drives. I’m also excited that Lindsay will have a place to back things up, finally. 😐

Let the final phase of this bullshit year begin

I’m on vacation now, more or less. While I might work a bit more between now and 2021, I’m pretty much shut down.

We obviously couldn’t go home to NS this year, but we have a bit of NS here — my niece is staying with us for a couple of weeks. We picked her up from school today, and have hunkered down. There’ll probably be some Pandemic tonight.

I’ve set up our new Samsung QLED TV. I’d made Lindsay watch Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, so now we’re watching Jedi. I plan to binge season 2 of The Mandalorian as soon as possible. That is all the planning I, uh, plan to do in 2020.

Cover photo by Dustin Tramel on Unsplash


This week saw more excursions, including our first visit to a patio — Chez Nous, to be specific. It was nice to finally sit outside, sip some cool wine, and…talk to people.

Let’s see, what else? Watched Midsommar (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was weird and scary but beautiful and excellent. Had a sudden, happy memory of a mixed CD called This One’s Worth Saving given out by Dalhousie radio station CKDU in my third year of undergrad. Protested some police bullshit.


Cover photo by Dustin Tramel on Unsplash

Cover photo by Andre Mohamed on Unsplash

Baby steps

Slowly, I am re-entering the world outside the loft. Last Saturday we walked into the east to meet a friend and drink Rorschach beers in a (very brown) Woodbine Park. Two days ago I went to the dentist (a new one; no need to get on transit to visit my old one) after a long wait — my last appointment had been scheduled for March 14 but was obviously cancelled.

I still haven’t been on a patio. I think I’m ready, but Lindsay isn’t quite yet. No matter; we have plenty of wine to keep us company right here in the loft.

We’ve watched some rough documentaries over the past week: first the documentary series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (imdb | rotten tomatoes), then Athlete A (imdb | rotten tomatoes). The latter was exceptional — just extremely well done, thoughtful, well-constructed, and responsible in execution and scope. Still, between that and occasionally dabbling in the Waco miniseries, we’ve needed some light palate-cleansers as well, tossing in episodes of New Girl and The Good Place here and there as needed.

Maybe once this crazy heat wave (which, as I type this, has been temporarily replaced with rain at last) subsides we might attempt a patio. Until then: baby steps.


Cover photo by Andre Mohamed on Unsplash


About a week ago I started binge-watching Fleabag (imdb | rotten tomatoes) again. I’d started watching it with Lindsay and then just fell off for some reason. She finished it ages ago; what spurred me to go back to it was that she bought tickets to see a recording of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance of the Fleabag play at the National Theatre in London last September, at the Paradise Theatre on Bloor.

First, the series: as we all know by now, it’s brilliant. All the superlatives are earned. It’s clever and moving and dark. I think season 2 might be even better than season 1, but might need another watch to confirm that.

Second, the (filmed) one-woman show: recaps a lot of the first season of the show, often verbatim. Offered a few interesting changes. Also strips it down to a woman on a stool, so no winks at the camera or other actors to help carry things. I might have found it funnier if I didn’t know 98% of the jokes in advance, but it was enjoyable to watch. Cool theatre too — we sat in comfy chairs in the balcony and had cocktails brought ’round.

There’s also a bar attached to the theatre — Bar Biltmore — and a restaurant — Osteria Rialto. We had late reservations at the latter, and passed the time at the former with cocktails (Paper Planes, Negronis), wine (Gruner Veltliner, a crazy Chardonnay) and oysters.

For dinner we had:

  • gnocco fritto w/ mortadella, grana padano
  • salumi / prima donna cheese / focaccia
  • macaroni verde w/ veal ragù bianco
  • tonarelli w/ ‘nduja carbonara
  • a bottle of Punset Barbaresco

The salumi board ended up being massive, so we ordered bread and cheese to go with it; by the time that was done all we could manage was a primi each. The secondi and dolci menus looked great, so we’ll have to go back and restrain ourselves out of the gate.


Cover photo from the Paradise site