Photo from BiblioArchives, used under Creative Commons license

“If Spock were here, and I were there, what would he do?” “He’d let you die.”

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.

Then a few flights at the Beer Academy (almost empty!), then home, then grilled steaks and a bottle of Tawse 2010 Laundry Cab Franc.

Thanks, Queen Victoria.


Photo from BiblioArchives, used under Creative Commons license

“Friends, relations, tribe, nation, common people.”

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

…we hit our second screening: Which Way Is The Front Line From Here: The Life And Time Of Tim Hetherington. It was directed by the author Sebastien Junger, with whom Hetherington had shadowed an army platoon to create a book called War and a documentary called Restrepo. Not long after the documentary was nominated for an Oscar Hetherington was killed in Libya covering yet another war zone. Junger made the documentary to explain who Tim was, why he was so possessed with telling stories this way, and sharing more of his brilliance than we were likely to ever see otherwise.

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.



Image from j_philipp, used under Creative Commons license

"That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn't notice. But we did."

Somehow, in the couple of months that it’s been in theatres, we’ve managed not to see The Avengers (imdb | rotten tomatoes) even once. Finally, with a little bit of time to spare during the week, we rectified that error.

But first, a bite to eat: I met Nellie at The Oxley, which has quickly become my favourite watering hole in Yorkville, mainly because all other Yorkville watering holes suck huge, save the flight deck at The Pilot. It has a smashing burger and interesting beer and a fantastic back patio, which is more than enough to make it my new work local. Anyway, when I arrived Nellie had staked out a position on the patio…which would have been fine, except that Toronto has been hotter than a marathoner’s armpit all week and I was wearing a dark suit. Anywayanyway: food good, drinks cold, back to theatre.

So we were a bit dawdly getting there and actually had the time wrong, so we got there five minutes late…or, in today’s theatre-going experience, just before the ads finished playing and just before the previews began. We each had time to pee out all remaining beer before the movie even started. Unbeknownst to us, though, we had elected to see it in 3D. Which I hate. Super, super-hate. But I’ll try not to let that ruin my impression of the movie.

That impression: it was great. Lots and lots of fun, and funny. Especially The Hulk; he had a couple of classic comedy moments, which I appreciated far more than Tony Stark’s non-stop sarcasm. But it was everything a comic book movie should be, and the special effects were stellar. I don’t know if I’ll bother buying it when it comes out on DVD — there’s not a lot of heft to it, if you know what I mean — but I’ll certainly watch it over and over when it comes on TMN. You know, two years from now.


Image from j_philipp, used under Creative Commons license