More like this, please

Uh, that was a ridiculously great long weekend.

Friday: we saw an amazing Japandroids concert (seriously, one of the best value-for-money shows I’ve ever seen) and had a late dinner at The Auld Spot.

Saturday: we drove to Beamsville in the beautiful sunny weather to sample wine and eat raclette at Hidden Bench, then do more tastings at Foreign Affair and Megalomaniac before heading home and getting fancy for dinner at The Chase. We had Perrier-Jouet Champagne and buratta, and scallops + pork belly with Chardonnay and Nebbiolo, and duck (me) and lobster cavatelli (Lindsay) with a fantastic bottle of Sangiovese. Dessert was a slightly disappointing (for me, anyway) honey pastry, but I came home and had some 1986 Don P.X. to make up for it.

Sunday: we were a little slow-moving, honestly, so not much happened until we had a halfway-decent-for-us lunch at b.good and a pint at Beerbistro before going home to watch Going Clear (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Unfortunately we ended the day with a somewhat gross AYCE sushi dinner that night at Fushimi.

Monday: we hung out in my (almost) new hood, hitting Boxcar Social for beers, L’il Baci for brunch (spicy pork balls, turducken balls, cocktails), Ed’s Real Scoop for ice cream, and Mercury for cortados. That night we made pasta we’d picked up at the market, and it was freaking delicious.

Whadda weekend.



Photo by terren in Virginia, used under Creative Commons license

Best albums of 2012

In alphabetical order only:

  • Allo Darlin’ . Europe
  • Cloud Nothings . Attack On Memory
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor . Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
  • Japandroids . Celebration Rock
  • Low . C’mon
  • Perfume Genius . Put Your Back N 2 It TEEN . In Limbo
  • Shearwater . Animal Joy
  • Van Etten, Sharon . Tramp
  • Walkmen, The . Heaven
  • White, Jack . Blunderbuss

Note that I still have to listen to this year’s releases by Lightships (update: meh), A.C. Newman, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Band Of Horses (update: rubbish), Bat For Lashes (update: rubbish), Beach House, Calexico (update: meh), Chromatics (update: meh), The Happy Jawbone Family Band (update: rubbish), Metz (update: meh), Passion Pit (update: rubbish), Grizzly Bear (update: meh),Tallest Man On Earth (update: quite good), Tame Impala (update: meh), TEEN (update: excellent!), Titus Andronicus (update: meh), and Ty Segall, and that I’m still working on Divine Fits (update: meh), Sigur Ros (update: good), and Swans (update: meh).


Photo by terren in Virginia, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by kata rokkar, used under Creative Commons license


The best music I’ve bought lately, in no particular order:

  • Japandroids . Celebration Rock
  • Shearwater . Animal Joy
  • Sharon Van Etten . Tramp
  • Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves Of Destiny . Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
  • Cannon Bros . Firecracker Cloudglow
  • Jack White . Blunderbuss
  • The Kills . Blood Pressures
  • Perfume Genius . Put Your Back N 2 It

OK, I may have fibbed just now. There was a tiny bit of order: the new Japandroids was at the top of that list because in sheer rawk-awesomeness it outshines the others on the list.


Austerity pushers and vaccination kooks are giving kids in Washington State whooping cough. Or something. Warning: contains the eye-meltingly great line, “I hope there’s a hot place in Dumbass Hell for Jenny McCarthy.”


Recent movies we’ve watched:

  • Here’s how to tell when Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment has run out of movies I’m willing to watch: I watch Contraband (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It was rubbish.
  • The Guard (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was superb. Fun, and funny. It didn’t disguise the fact that it was a standard cop movie trope (big crimes in small towns, kooky townspeople, fish out of water big shot from the FBI, etc.) and it took me a few minutes to understand anything anyone said, but once it got going Brendan Gleeson was terrific and people like Don Cheadle and Liam Cunningham filled in the rest nicely.
  • Triangle (imdb | rotten tomatoes) came out of nowhere. I don’t remember where I heard about it, but it sat on my hard drive for more than two years before we finally watched it. And it was pretty good…a decent little thriller that worked just fine as long as you didn’t think too hard about the sequencing (and sequencing, and sequencing) of events.


I’ve been sending this article to just about every extrovert I know. Specifically the ones who think introversion is something they think they can help people “get over” by forcing them into social situations. Which is to say, all of them.


OK, so…the Eaton Centre shooting yesterday. Brutal. Tragic, obviously. Stupid.Worrying, sure, due to the premeditated gun violence carried out by multiple attackers on someone who is probably, at least according to early signals given by the police, directly or indirectly linked to a gang…worrying in the same way the Jane Creba shooting was. But not scary. Not to me, at least.

We know the questions will come about whether we’re worried about living five minutes away from the Eaton Centre (well, ten minutes from the end of the mall where this happened), but honestly it doesn’t feel that close. To be honest, I don’t even consider the Eaton Centre to be part of Toronto. It’s like this weird suburban amusement park wedged between the tackiest corridor of Yonge and ugliest stretch of Bay, in which no non-teenager valuing their sanity would set foot for more than a few moments, and into which no actual Torontonian would walk of their own volition. So that underground food court where the shooting took place seems to me like a far-flung, unknown corner of the city.

As it happened, Nellie and I walked through the mall (straight through, actually…there’s a shortcut from Yonge to the Mercatto abutting Trinity Square) about five hours before the shooting. Had we chosen to eat dinner there instead of a late lunch we would have been there for the shots (albeit two levels up) and would have rushed out with the rest. But even knowing that, there’s no feeling of fear due to proximity. It happened somewhere else.


Featured image by kata rokkar, used under Creative Commons license

This week in entertainment

I’d kind of forgotten about all the movies we’ve watched over the past week:

  • Kick-Ass: most excellent
  • Precious: good, incredibly well-acted (in that if I ever see Mo’Nique walking down the street I’m likely to punch her face in) but hard as fuck to watch
  • Stripes: I’m sure it was a classic for its time, but it doesn’t really hold up.
  • Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day: look, the original isn’t exactly a classic, but it’s always been kind of special to me because we discovered it ten years ago in a self-serve movie rental machine, not having any idea what we were about to see. I didn’t expect the sequel to live up to that, but I would have been happy with a close approximation of the original. Unfortunately it was hammy and stilted and over the top, and not in the cool way that the first one was. Lots of shots of my neighbourhood though, just like the first one.
  • The Men Who Stare At Goats: I think I had the same reaction as most other people: quite funny in parts, but nothing special. Also: Ewan MacGregor continues to do the worst American accent of any British actor.
  • Paranormal Activity: Okay, we watched this two weeks ago, but whatever. Actually a pretty effective little scare-machine, but completely blew it in the final 20 seconds. Also: Katie Featherston = girlfriend du jour.


My headphones were filled all week with the new releases by Best Coast (pretty good…almost like the Raveonettes without the male voice), Japandroids (good, but not as good as their last album, I’m afraid; few things last year were), Sleigh Bells (which I like more than I feel I should), Mates of State (hearing them cover the likes of Tom Waits and The Mars Volta seems sacrilegious at first, then awesome, then just fun) and, naturally, The Arcade Fire. Which is < Funeral but > Black Mirror and therefore one of the best things I’ve heard all year. Speaking of CadeFire — which is what I call them now, due to us being so very tight — Frank Yang (aka Chromewaves) summed up awfully well what’s so captivating about them:

They somehow manage to evoke that singular moment in everyone’s life where youth gives way to adulthood, where one becomes acutely aware of the fact that they are not in fact invincible, that they will someday die, but also the sense of still having their entire lives ahead of them and the sense of opportunity that offers – that mixture of anxiety and optimism, insecurity and confidence. It’s a powerful, primal resonance made even moreso when rendered in broad, bold musical strokes. With Funeral, it was conveyed through the lens of family and neighbourhoods, of being part of a special gang. Neon Bible turned it around to be them against the world with no sense that they’d actually triumph. And The Suburbs realizes that there’s no us and them, there’s just everyone.

I’ll probably keep The Suburbs on perma-rotation until my next big anticipated release: Lisbon by The Walkmen.


With Treme, The Office, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock and Nurse Jackie off the air right now the only things I’m watching are Mad Men (because it’s the best thing on TV right now), True Blood (because it’s the most entertaining thing on TV right now) and Entourage (because, despite its persistent suck whenever Ari’s not on the screen, for the life of me I cannot seem to stop watching it).


The miniature time slot attributed to reading is reserved for, as ever, Tony Judt‘s Postwar and Kate Carraway’s twitter feed. However, all other reading shall cease on Tuesday and Wednesday as I have only those days to select our TIFF films.


And, with that, I’m off to work. After all, all play and no work makes Jack really far behind on his to-do list.