Goodbye 2010

December 31, 2010 at 3:55 pm (Uncategorized)

My annual round-up of things that made this year livable (and I’ll leave out the sentimental stuff about family – I’ve covered that throughout the year) .

1. Travel

I didn’t travel so much this year. No trip to New York, and no overseas flights. The family was supposed to go to Quebec City this week, but illness made the trip impossible. The only real trip this year was a weekend visit to London, Ontario. I’ve only been to London twice. Once for work and another time for the 1995 Days of Action protest against the provincial government. This time we hung out in the insurance capital of Ontario. It’s a town with history and a somewhat fader grandeur. Like other smaller cities (pop. 350,000), it has a much different vibe to Toronto. Some interesting little places to hang out, but also like many smaller towns a sense of defeat. Travel broadens the mind eh?

2. Mojo

I read a couple of music magazines. Exclaim, Uncut,  and the Oxford American Music issue,  but Mojo remains my favourite. I don’t buy every issue (usually if I like the CD I pick it up), but I always learn something from it. Bands I’ve never heard of, facts about people I like.  Pricey, but well worth it.

3.  Massive Attack

I’m resigned to the fact that I will probably never be as cool as Daddy G. Massive Attack have ranked high on my favourites list for a number of years, and this year I finally got to see them live. Great show, great band. Great new record. Thinking man’s dance music.

4 Inception

What’s the joke? I saw Inception this summer, or maybe I dreamed I did. I haven’t seen the Blu-ray yet, but I’m itching to do it. I feel as if there was so much I missed during the movie because there was so much going on. Great cast, great effects, crazy story. The best of the year.

5. American Vampire

My favourite new comic book. It’s the creation of Scott Snyder, although the first issues feature a back up story with Stephen King. A new original vampire story in a market saturated with vampires. If you’re in Toronto, you might check out BMV which has the hardcover edition on sale.

6 Little Big Planet /Play Station

My nephew told me that people with friends get a Wii, people with internet friends get an X-Box, but people with no friends get a Play Station. So there we are. I’m not a big gamer, but we promised my son we would buy a system. we bought a Play Station, and I’d say I’ve spent a more than a little time playing Little Big Planet. No it’s not super cool, but it’s addictive. Can’t wait for the second installment next month.

7 Warpaint.

Probably my favourite new band this year. It’s a terrible name, but the Exquisite corpse EP from last year and this year’s full length record are haunting. Dreamy post-punk electronica.  Here’s hoping for a live date soon. Still hate the name though.

8 The World Cup.

OK, England are crap. Being an England supporter is a bit like being a Maple Leaf’s fan in Toronto. You know it, but still you hope. For me, the most ridiculous part is the appeals to the Spirit of 66, the year England won. I was two years old; no-one playing for England today was born then.   Still, I shake off my general antipathy to sports for the beautiful game, and for two weeks I’m a fan.  

9 Frozen Custard

A new tasty treat creamier than ice-cream. Get it at Jedd’s Frozen Custard on Yonge north of Eglinton.

10 Thai One On

C’mon, who doesn’t like Thai food? I know this year it’s supposed to be Korean that’s hip, but I love this chain. It’s our favourite take-out place. (Honourable mention to Island Foods who make a very nice roti)

11 North African Mint Tea.

Seriously, there’s a tea we buy from a place called David’s Tea which is just amazing. David’s has some great flavours and they give out little samples. I’ll always be a coffee drinker, but this mint tea is just the right blend of flavours. lovely.

12 Denise Mina.

Earlier this year, my wife and I discovered Scottish writer Denise Mina. I  devoured the Garnethill Trilogy. James Ellroy coined the phrase Tartan Noir to refer to Ian Banks’ work, but Mina seems to be the standard-bearer. Check out here Hellblazer stories, and the new Vertigo graphic novel An Illness in the Family.

13. Winter

I don’t like Winter. Or maybe I do. When I was in my mid-teens, I moved to Canada from the UK. Now, we had snow in Britain, but it wasn’t always a sure thing. In Canada, it’s a sure thing alright. My high school years in St. Catharines, Ontario were filled with brutally cold weather. So, I have to admit while I don’t enjoy the inconvenience of winter, there’s something about that blast of frigid climes that make you glad to be alive.

14 Iggy Pop

Last year I was able to say I got to see Roky Erickson; this year it was the Ig. He played a free show in downtown Toronto with the Stooges (Scott Ashton, James Williamson and new kid Mike Watt). Never mind the question, why is Iggy still alive, a better one is how can he still be so good? An absolutely amazing show.

15 Being Human

Probably my favourite UK  TV show (well, along with Misfits) . Simple plot, a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf live together and try, well, being human. It plays with some of the established mythos about the three, but it works as the story is delivered with humour and real emotion, as well as a real sense of horror about the existence of the three leads. I will admit to being filled with more than a little terror about the upcoming US remake.

16 Fringe

The best show on network TV no one’s watching. What a sad thing to write. But it’s about to get sadder. The show moves to the Friday night death zone in January, with an episode entitled “Firefly” (cue collective groan of despair from Whedon fans) . It’s intelligent science fiction, and the last episode when Olivia discovers Peter’s accidental betrayal was heartbreaking. Oh, well the DVD’s will be nice.

17 Desert boots

I had a pair of these when I was in my twenties. Very comfortable shoes, and I wore them until they fell apart. Then I didn’t replace them. Anyway, they seem to be back in style, so I picked up a pair recently. Still very comfortable, and they still look lovely.

18 Soundscapes

Still my favourite record shop in Toronto. The thing I love about this store is that I usually walk out with something different from what I intended when I went it. A great selection of CDs, vinyl, books, magazines and other music related stuff. Hey, I won tickets to a movie there this year (here’s hoping for those Jayhawks tickets)

19. The bow tie.

I wear a tie to work. I don’t have to, but I do anyway. I like ties, but this fall, I taught myself how to tie a bow tie. It wasn’t that easy, but after several hours of sitting in front of You-Tube with a mirror, I mastered it. It’s not for every day, but it adds style when necessary. And the sweetest pleasure? when people ask you if it’s a clip on, and you smile tell them “no” and bask  in their admiration.

20 Hope for the future

I usually end with a quotation for the end of the year – this one is no different. and it’s from Einstein.

The most beautiful and deepest experience one can have is the sense of the mysterious…One who has never had this experience seems to me if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be grasped there is something our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.

Happy 2011

1 Comment

  1. Goodbye 2011 « Notes from Underground said,

    […] how cool this stuff is!” Nerds everywhere rejoice.  (Oh and he wears a bow tie – see last year’s list, point […]

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