Monday, December 29, 2008

Tis the Season 

To post photos:


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Man, Andrei

I figured after 3 or 4 days of gorging on roast meats, bacon, cake and chocolates maybe it was time to do something a little more active than reaching for another glass of wine. Saturday I went to the pool - I hadn't been for a couple of weeks due to work/weather/holiday closures so I was keen to get back at it. It was pretty crappy weather on Saturday and it being the holidays I sort of expected I'd have the pool to myself. I guess I hadn't counted on everyone else thinking the same thing. Despite the anchovy-like packing of swimmers I managed to get a good swim in.

Today I did one better and got on my bike for the first time since November 5th. I was finally able to fix the tire and put together the trainer. Setting up the trainer so close after Christmas felt a little like when I was a kid and had some toy to assemble before I could use it. I'd planned on doing a typical ride of a 2 hours or so. I put on a movie to watch while riding and started up but I hadn't counted on being so out of form. I lasted about 45 minutes when sweat and boredom combined to unseat me.

Actually the movie, Kung Fu Panda, wasn't so bad, but I wanted to leave enough time in the evening to watch a much longer movie, "Andrei Rublev". This historical Russian drama from the 60s is over 3 hours long and is far more grueling than any time on a bike. Every year, I usually rent a handful of films that I've read one should see if one is to consider oneself knowledgeable in cinema. Along with the Russian epic (more epic to watch than to film I think), I watched, "My Man Godfrey" (a William Powell, Carole Lombard comedy from the 30s), "His Girl Friday" (a Cary Grant comedy from 1940) and the 1959 Alec Guiness spy parody "Our Man in Havana". I'm not sure why I picked these (other than the similar titles - "His Girl/My Man/Our Man") but there has definitely been a theme lately. A couple of weeks ago I watched Sullivan's Travels, and Christmas night we saw "It Happened One Night". Along with My Man Godfrey these are all Depression Era comedies that have the protagonists on the road or coming face to face with the hard economic reality only to wind up happily wedded to unbelievable wealth and glamour. I wonder if this economic crisis will result in the same kind of movies. Someone down on their luck, out on the street, unknowingly meets and aids someone else of impervious riches who falls in love with them (somehow getting a very expensive dress or suit very dirty along the way. Let hi-jinks ensue). Or maybe we'll just keep making flicks like Pineapple Express which starts out funny but just dies in the third act.

On a related note, Our Man in Havana would be a good rental along with The Third Man, which it seems to parody and Burn After Reading which feels like a remake of Our Man in Havana. For a more serious spy flick watch Breach.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 

"Let us consider that the soul of man is immortal, able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus may we live happily with one another and with God."

This was apparently John Cheever's favorite Thanksgiving toast, a paraphrase of Jowett's translation of Plato.



Sunday, December 21, 2008

A White-out Christmas 

I'm not sure when it happened (certainly years ago), but at some point I stopped dreaming of White Christmases. Instead I dreamt only of quiet, slightly frosty ones. Something cold and crisp and refreshing. Like a cold beer after a strenuous workout. That's the way I want Christmas to be. Simple. Consumable. Recyclable. A refreshing pause to finish the year with.

Despite my wishes, it looks like we will have a white christmas. More than white. Piled-up-high white. Hard-to-get-out-of-the-laneway white. Last year, I think 4 of my 7 days in St. John's were spent shoveling. Between that and the Playstation I got carpal tunnel syndrome sumthin' wicked! I was holding out hope that this year, Toronto's mild winters combined with a well-oiled TTC streetcar would mean an easily traversed holiday. Since Friday however, "mild" became "wild" and I haven't been close enough to a streetcar to tell you if it is well-oiled or not.

One less thing to worry about, has been our tree. No less than three major media outlets (CBC, the Economist and the Washington Post owned have confirmed that an authentic Christmas tree is in fact more environmentally sound than a fake tree.

You can hear the explanation here.

Or read it here.

Thank God for that. Finally, I can rest easy, bathed in the eery glow of LED lights powered by our green power supplier as I consume local cheeses on home-made bread while drinking a beer made mere kilometres from my house. Damn, I'm good. I might just turn up the heat. It is natural gas after all.

Links in this post:
The Economist: O Tannenbaum
Slate Podcasts:Should I Buy a Fake Fir?

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

pre-winter blast, originally uploaded by rowdyman.

I don't think saying, "I couldn't even see the CN Tower from my window yesterday" makes any sense unless you know that I can always see the CN Tower. Just to make it clear, how unclear the view was, the photo above shows a typical sight line and the one yesterday at the height of the storm. It's always strange to witness a storm blow through a town as the familiar is hidden and transformed. While one part of your brain is saying, "We should go home, right now." there's another part saying, "What? Go out? In that? Right now? You're crazy!"

I knew as soon as I had left the office I would be walking the whole way. While I saw dozens of street cars heading East bound, in about 1hr and 20 mins. I saw zero West bound Street cars on King, and only 2 West bound cars on Queen (one of which was packed like the express to Mumbai - the other appeared so close to home it would have been pointless to take).

Six kilometres walking through uncleared streets was tiring but at some point the wind stopped and the streets were quiet and still. It was admittedly, very pretty. I also have to admit that there were times when I jogged through a snowstorm and felt like Neil Lumsden tromping down a first down in some epic Grey Cup.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Proof That God Might be an Economist

My prayers have been answered: CTV cans Canadian Idol for 2009. Though I do wish to apologize if it took an economic crisis to make it happen.

I wonder what TV's lil' Benji Mulronster will do now?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good-bye Snoozy Tuesday 

Here's my Monday night routine aprés hockey. I get home, hang my equipment to dry, get a tall cool glass of something (sometimes with alcohol), run the hottest possible shower and wash away the stink, the sweat and the aches. By the time I roll into bed it's usually after 1:30 or later. By the time I flicker off to sleep it may be closer to 2 AM.

Waking is not easy. The rest of the day is horrible. Usually I spend Tuesdays hauling myself around like a re-animated corpse. Last week, after nodding and wrenching my head violently awake, I was so desperate to spur some kind of attentiveness that I shot-gunned an energy drink and gorged on a large format chocolate bar (proceeded by several large cups of coffee). The only effect was an irregular heartbeat and an upset stomach.

Today was different. I was just too busy to be tired. Sorry, that's sort of the punch line. I'm too tired right now to even know what I'm writing.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The-Day-After-Monday Report 

Another hockey night marred by rain, then snow, then rain again. That's something like 6 weeks in a row when it's rained on a Monday night. Luckily, the only thing dampened was the asphalt not the spirit. My ribs continue to feel better so I was hopeful I'd play a little better. Unfortunately, we only had one goalie so we had to use the plywood stand-in at one end. Never mind, I seem to have this goalie's number. In an old fashioned plywood vs plywood show down I filled that net with a bucket load of pucks. Playing against the wooden simulacrum has significantly raised my stats. Not without some loss though. My favorite stick was lost in the battle. That's only the second time I've broken a stick in a game in nearly 8 years. I guess my soft shot is easy on the lumber.

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