September 17, 2012

Nothing like being linked to from a friend’s blog to inspire an update. The lovely Amy Spalding asked me to write about everyone’s favourite weep-fest Les Miserables for today’s Musical Theatre Monday feature.

Other things worth linking to that I’ve written in the past few months include this local travel story about fun places to go on the Go Train (30 years in Toronto and I’d never used Go Transit before, so I thought I’d try and make up for it). Also, this Popcorn Panel about Premium Rush, probably the greatest film of 2012, and maybe ever. Certainly the greatest bike courier chase movie out there. After I saw Premium Rush I got caught (on my bike, OBVIOUSLY) in a massive downpour, the likes of which I’d never seen before in this city. In normal rain, I suck it up, get drenched, and carry on, especially if I’m heading home, but this was no normal rain. The water on Queen Street was at least four inches deep in less than five minutes – as close to a flash flood as Toronto gets. And it had just gotten dark out. I was completely soaked within seconds, and it wasn’t safe to continue riding. Fortunately, a TTC driver took pity on me and let me haul my bike onto the streetcar, even though I only had a toonie and a few pennies on me (cash fare on the TTC is $3). A couple of the pennies fell out of my wallet as I awkwardly balanced my bike and paid my fare, and a woman looked at me pityingly to tell me I had dropped a few pennies. I looked so pathetic, drenched and dirty and maneuvering my bike on the streetcar, that the homeless guy walking up and down the car asking people for change took one look at me and moved on with saying anything. AND I ruined the copy of Lucky Jim that was in my purse.

Karma paid me back handsomely the following week, though, in yet another rainstorm. I left the house during a clear patch on a very rainy day, but after biking for ten minutes, it started to come down hard. The nearest shelter was a Lexus dealership, so I ducked into their covered parking lot for a few minutes, sure that I was either going to be very wet or very late. But I was neither, because the Lexus manager came out after five minutes to ask if I needed a ride – his service guy was going out in the van, there was room for my bike, and he could drive me anywhere I needed to go. I’m not usually one to accept rides from strangers in vans, but it was 10:30 in the morning and it was a Lexus van. I took my chances, was both dry and on time, and very grateful for the kindness of strangers.

The Ides of March was fine, I guess, and you can read my elaboration on that in the National Post on Friday. But the best thing about seeing it this afternoon was this woman across the aisle who decided to check the time. Maybe she was bored, maybe she is just too important for Ryan Gosling scowling all over the place as he loses his naivety about political backstabbing. She was definitely too important for cell phones, though, as she pulled a cigarette lighter out of her purse, flicked open a flame, and used the light to peer at her watch.

September catch-up

September 25, 2011

I wrote a bunch of things this month that I didn’t tell you about because I spent this whole past week at a cottage without any connection to the modern world and absolutely no news sources besides the Parry Sound North Star, which mainly reports on euchre results. (Also, a local boy won the national arm wrestling championship, and the town’s third graders aren’t testing very well.) It is a stellar publication, I urge you to pick it up if you are in the area.

First, on a chilly and dampish day in early September, I single-handedly summoned back summer weather by putting on my swimsuit to go paddleboarding in the Beaches.

Also, I wrote my first book review in seven years, of Wendy and the Lost Boys, an incredibly insightful biography of my favourite playwright.

Then I went comic book shopping with documentarian Morgan Spurlock, who was very excited that I am a member of a graphic novel book club.

AND I saw Contagion, which did not turn me into a germaphobe as anticipated.

Now we’re all caught up.

Going on a wolf hunt

September 7, 2011

Last week I went to the ROM with the lovely William Yong and Lucy Rupert.

[ROM-judging aside: It was my first visit since the big crystal renovation (aside from the hard-hat tour I got of the place when it was still a construction site in 2006), and it’s not as good as it used to be. The dinosaur exhibit used to be awesome and spooky and you would run through the dark creepy underwater part over and over again for the thrill of pretending the swimming dino skeletons would get you. Now, all the dino skeletons are crammed into the badly lit and extremely noisy mezzanine and it’s just a loud stupid collection of bones and not scary or thrilling at all.]

Anyway, we had a lovely time at the ROM, and I had an equally lovely time watching the show last night. It’s always wonderful to see a full orchestra onstage in such an intimate venue, and the music was stunning. The movement was great too – William and Lucy are particularly lovely dancers.

Now this will be stuck in my head forever:


Winging it

September 5, 2011

I’ve interviewed a lot of comedians in the past couple of weeks. Comedians and also Hercules, who phoned me and left a message that I annoyed/delighted several friends with for a week afterwards.

Then I went for lunch with the new Second City kids at Wayne Gretzky’s and we spent a lot of time talking about chicken wings. For the record, I enjoy the wings at Sneaky Dee’s and Kilgour’s – at Kilgour’s, the blue cheese dipping sauce is particularly good. I have never, however, enjoyed the television program Wings.

Love me, love my Winnipeg

September 1, 2011

Back in May, I took a trip to Winnipeg. This is not unusual, as I tend to find myself in Winnipeg once a year or so. But this trip was provided by Tourism Manitoba, as I was writing a couple of travel stories about the ‘Peg and its surroundings. For one of the stories, my dear pal Fred Penner gave me a tour of his hometown. There’s also this round-up of nifty things to do in and around Winnipeg. (Please ignore my geographical error – I know Manitoba isn’t land-locked. It just FEELS land-locked.)

What I wasn’t able to mention in either story was that on my first night in Winnipeg, where I was a guest on the Gold Floor of the Fairmont, I arrived back at my room to this creatively patriotic bedtime snack:

Nothing says "welcome to the Prairies" like a voyageur diorama made of cookies.

Yes, that is a cookie canoe containing macarons, and, further back, a little cookie man standing next to a cookie inukshuk. Oh Canada.

In all my years of being dragged/going willingly to Winnipeg, I had never actually the local delicacy known as a Jeanne’s Cake. So my lovely Auntie Della finally bought me one:

I was deprived of Jeanne cakes throughout my childhood because my mother can't stand them, even though most ex-Winnipeggers buy frozen cakes to take home for nostalgia's sake.

As it turns out, I wasn’t missing too much. But I had a really nice afternoon with my auntie Della.

I did more in Winnipeg than eat sweets, but who cares, right?

I didn’t actually get to fly for story for my Standing Engagement column in the National Post, but I did get to sit in a tiny plane and fiddle with pedals and steering wheel and wander around on the tarmac inhaling the sweet scent of jet fuel.

An unironic, 100% mockery free list of things I enjoyed in the otherwise incredibly stupid Cowboys and Aliens (which I had to watch for my job, if you’re new).

– Daniel Craig is a great cowboy.
– Also, he looks his best when is face is all dirty and blood-spattered and sun damaged. Which is all of this movie.
– There is a really adorable dog who doesn’t die or get eaten by an alien or anything.
This guy Clancy Brown is just a delight and during his scenes, he makes you think you are watching a way better movie than you are.
– There are some nice shots of the prairies, and silhouettes of cowboys and stuff.

That’s it.


July 27, 2011

I interviewed the capslock-loving (and stupendously talented) Alice Ripley last week about the devastating Next to Normal (also, rollercoasters). If you don’t know who Alice Ripley is, you should watch this immediately:

She’s the twin on the right, with the slightly crazier eyes. She’s wonderful. She doesn’t play a twin in Next to Normal, though. So if you’re looking for conjoined twins, that is the wrong musical for you.

And I already mentioned all the sugar I ate at Cake Pop class, but here’s the story. (And another photo, for those of you who can’t get enough pictures of mini cake on a stick.)

Daily Photo: Cake Pops

July 19, 2011

Cake Pops!

I ate all the sugar yesterday. I attended a Cake Pop class at Le Dolci for a story for the National Post (it’ll be in the paper on Saturday). This was supposed to look like a mini cupcake, but it kind of looks like a two-toned marshmallow covered in stars instead. In any case, it was delicious.