As of last night we have dear friends staying with us for a few nights, visiting from Montreal. We drank wine and ordered late dinner and talked and laughed until late. They’ll be here only too briefly, but any visit is a treat.
[Update: on Sunday we walked up to Maha’s for brunch but the line was too long, so we walked back down and tried OK OK Diner for the first time. Outstanding classic diner brekkie. Instant weekend staple going forward.]
Next weekend we’ll be headed to Quebec ourselves, visiting Quebec City for a weekend. It’s something of a replacement trip for Lindsay’s birthday, a getaway postponed because of COVID.
Now I just have to survive this week.
Given how much I loved Game of Thrones (well…most of it, anyway) it’s not a surprise how excited I was for season one of House Of The Dragon. And though it started with a weird mix of moving slowly while also jumping years at a time, it came rolling to a crescendo in the final episode…so much so that I’m gutted we have to wait until 2024 to see what happens next.
It also spurred me to re-watch GoT in its entirety, and it’s fun to see the through-lines. The dagger. Stories about Vhagar. Houses that still exist, houses that disappear. I expect I’ll watch it a few more times before the next HotD season.
While I forgot about TIFF entirely this year, I did manage to squeak in a few films this month. Nothing earth-shattering, but entertaining.
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was the expected rollick from this installment of the Spider-Man franchise. I’d waited long enough to see it that I already knew the big twist of this one, but it was exciting to see nonetheless.
- Sleeping With Other People (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was a romantic comedy that came out of nowhere. A weird one too — clever, and also at times a bit more serious than you might expect.
- Tammy (imdb | rotten tomatoes) wasn’t the best Melissa McCarthy movie, but even a lesser such film is still pretty funny. Susan Sarandon was an expected addition to the cast too.
- Top Gun: Maverick (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was what I expected, but frankly quite a bit more. It could have been flashy garbage. It was certainly flashy, and a cheeky nod to the original (Iceman! Penny Benjamin!) but the ludicrous action was at least enticing.
- The Good Nurse (imdb | rotten tomatoes) wasn’t one I’d heard about despite the star power involved (Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne) but ended up being a well-done telling of a horrifying true story.
Welp, I have COVID-19 again. I had a bunch of social events this week — a meeting downtown, a two-day offsite with my whole team, a dinner out — and then, a few days later, I tested positive.
So far (I’m on day three of the symptoms) it hasn’t been as bad as when I had Delta, pre-vaccinations. It just feels like a bad cold. No lung stuff. No body aches. Yesterday was pretty brutal. and I slept for nearly all of it, but so far today doesn’t seem as bad, touch wood.
To be honest, I’m mostly pissed at myself for not booking the second (biovalent) booster sooner. We dilly-dallied on it; if we hadn’t, I might have been vaxxed all the way up before this week. So let that be a lesson to you, kids.
OK, it’s been a week, so I can talk about it.
The Jays crashed out of the playoffs after an epic collapse in game 2 of their wildcard series. I had such high hopes…but ’tweren’t to be.
There’s still an excellent core of players, so maybe this is just the bitter playoff experience they need to build on next year. Fingers crossed.
At least hockey has started, so I get the watch the Canadiens…uh…oh. Oh boy.
Earlier today I watched a movie I’ve seen constantly in the PVR guide of late, but not watched: Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Some thoughts:
- I could tell from the opening scene (the Halifax waterfront) that it was shot in Nova Scotia. Right away it moved to the countryside, what looked to me like the Annapolis Valley.
- The acting was a little stilted. Felt like a low-budget Canadian movie…which it was, I suppose.
- I’m sure she’s acted in multiple things, but the only thing I recognized the actor who played Tammy (classic NS name, BTW) from is RBC commercials.
- I was trying to figure out who played the dad and suddenly realized it was the guy who played Ricky from Trailer Park Boys. Wasn’t easy to make that transition, but I got there.
- My dad still has a tractor kind of like that one…a Farmall though, not a Ford 4000.
- MANY mentions of 4-H, which took me straight back to my childhood.
It was a cute & moving little story, but to me — and I admit I’m biased here — the real star was the gorgeous Valley scenery. It was countryside I just drove through in August for pretty much the first time, and the pastoral green tucked between the hills, with the Minas Basin a stone’s throw away, and it felt like a whole other country. I miss it.
This past Wednesday I attended my first Blue Jays game of the season. I’ve been following them closely all summer, watching as many games as I could (even if it’s during weekend work) and hoping they’d make the playoffs. They’ve since clinched a wildcard spot, but on Wednesday they lost to the Yankees.
That game was memorable because Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run, tying both the Yankees’ club record and the American League record — and, in many fans’ mind, the true HR record given the spectre of PEDs over Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds’ NL records — held by Roger Maris. Maris’ son was in attendance to see it happen, just like he was for McGwire hitting #62. I remembered that because I watched 61* (imdb | rotten tomatoes) again recently — very underrated movie, by the way.
One other note: the
Rogers Centre Skydome’s drink selection is abysmal. At least where I was — in one of the corporate suites — they had no wine, a single cider, and five generic beers, the “best” of which was Mill Street Organic. Maybe it’s better elsewhere around the park, but I doubt it. Even this ranking — taken last year when the Jays were still playing in Buffalo — ranks them 28th out of 30 in terms of beer selection, and that was influenced by being able to get a $5 beer in Sahlen Field. No such luck in Toronto, I reckon.
On Thursday I got to go to the eighth installment of an annual ceremony celebrating winners of a digital art prize, sponsored by my old company, which Lindsay created in a past life. It was great to see many of my old colleagues again, and just to…get out. Post-vaccination, as in-person things have returned again, I find we’ve struggled to mobilize on getting out as much. So, for one night, it was nice to put on decent clothes, to head downtown (traffic notwithstanding), to take in art, and to talk and laugh with people again.
By the way, if you’re in Toronto and you can make it, the exhibition of the five finalists’ work is at 401 Richmond until October 1st.
For the third year in the row — overlapping with the pandemic, obviously — I did not attend TIFF. I’d maintained an 18-year streak prior to that, even though I had fallen way off my take-a-week-of-vacation-and-see-thirty-films peak. What surprised me was that, well, TIFF surprised me. It’s not like I considered attending and then decided not to; it’s that I basically didn’t think about it until I saw tweets about people arriving for it.
No doubt it had a lot to do with my work schedule, but clearly it’s no longer a significant annual milestone lurking in my brain. But as I think about it, I realize I miss it. I miss the book. I miss the winnowing down of good options. I miss the buzz. I miss Q&As. I even miss the lineups.
Will I have the brainspace for #TIFF23 next year? I genuinely hope so.
While going through my books to see which one I’d like to read next, I happened across something I bought years ago, but never cracked: The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby. Here’s the blurb:
A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreason focuses on the convergence of social forces—usually treated as separate entities—that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.
Sounds interesting, but here’s the problem: it came out in February 2009, when we were still naively optimistic about the internet and George W. Bush was the dumbest, worst president we could imagine. Reading it now, in a Trump/truther/QAnon-riddled world, I imagine it will seem more quaint than informative.