Goodbye 2013

December 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Well, 2013 ended with the aftermath of an ice storm. Usually, I complain about weather porn. You know, the tendency of the media to whip up any event into something bigger and grander than it is. But ultimately, it’s a let down. You’re left unsatisfied, just like…well, you know. This time, the ice storm that hit Toronto more than satisfied. We were without power for two days, but some people still don’t have power a week later. Next time I’ll keep my big mouth shut. So, here are a few of things that made the year enjoyable

1. Italy

Hands down the winner. I spent two weeks in Italy this July, mostly in Florence, but a couple of days in Rome and Arezzo. Simply put, the best vacation of my life: Art galleries, museums, food, wine, gelato, friends. I could go on. I will go on. As with any vacation though, I felt as if I’d only scratched the surface. Another time, another time.

2. New Music

Sure, I look forward to new albums by Arcade Fire or Anna Calvi, but there’s a real joy in coming across that first record by a new artist. Artists  like Valerie June, Metz, Arson, the Bare Mutants, Pup and the Strypes made life interesting this year. Looking forward to hearing new sounds from them, and all the other great new bands out there.

3.  Agents of SHIELD

Oh, I know there’s some of you that will call “sell-out” here. That Whedon’s TV project isn’t as sharp as some of his other works, but that’s OK. It’s just sharp, witty and action filled enough. Remember that first season of Dollhouse took its time to find its feet too? Me and the boy spend a lot of time on this one.

4. Riot Fest

I kept meaning to write about this one, but somehow never got around to it. Riot Fest was the two-day punk fest that hit Toronto right at the end of summer. I only caught the second day, but hey, how many times do you get to see Rocket from the Crypt (sorry Chris, I know you weren’t a fan), Dinosaur Jr., Best Coast and Iggy Pop on one bill. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the Replacements, but that’s OK (saw them years ago). One question, the Weakerthans? Good band, but they stuck out like a sore thumb on the bill.

5. The Daily Show starring Rob Ford

Now here I’m referring to both Jon Stewart’s Daily Show which I began watching again this year, and the Rob Ford circus taking place here in Toronto. Every time I thought Ford couldn’t top his last bit (and let’s face it, fessing up to smoking crack in a drunken stupor with accused drug dealers sets the bar pretty high), Ford outdid himself. I remember watching Ford’s comments about oral sex at work at work with hushed colleagues.  Stewart’s reaction was even better.

6. Giant Boulder of Death

Thank you Lindsey for introducing me to this colossal waste of time to which I am completely addicted (I suspect though it has something to do with the fact that my son has a high score which dwarfs my own)

7.  James Bond

After watching Skyfall last year, I re-acquainted myself with the Bond brand. Yup, reactionary nonsense (especially if you watch the early films), but tremendously enjoyable on another level. I’m gradually working by way through the novels and the Connery years (not sure how I’ll feel when I reach the Roger Moore ones though)

8. Moleskine

Huh. My own little black book. My wife has bought this brand for years. Me? I’m a new convert.

9. Fountain pen

When I was a kid I wrote in pencil until I was about 8 or 9. The kids with the neatest handwriting got ink pens. I was one of the last in the class to get one. Unfortunately, when I did get a pen I discovered that writing with real ink and being left-handed were not exactly a good fit. And like most of the lefties you know, it took me a while to work it out.  This year though, I got a fountain pen for Christmas. So far, it’s been a cool experience.

10. Adventure Time

This was the year I became an Adventure Time nut. It’s an odd show which is adored by 10-year-olds, 20-somethings and people my age as well. And sure my favourites are like every one else’s (Marceline, Ice King and Gunthar). But is it just me or is the show getting weirder? 

11. Arrow

I liked the first season of Arrow, the TV adaptation of DC comics’ Green Arrow, but the second season is really quite outstanding. It’s a clever mix of current day and back story, and I’ve really enjoyed how other DC characters such as  Deathstroke, Deadshot, Count Vertigo, and others have been worked into the story in an original fashion. Looking forward to the Flash spinoff.

12. David Bowie

New album and a retrospective at the AGO! Ooh. I wrote about both, so I won’t repeat myself too much. I liked about half the album, and the AGO show was quite wonderful. It’s the mark of a successful artist when listening to something new by them sends you into a voyage of discovery and also remembrance of their other works.

13. Saga

A newish book by Brian K Vaughan (Y, Ex Machina) and Fiona Staples once described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones.”  More like Romeo and Juliet in Space, but despite my lazy characterizations, the weird characters, the witty writing and the fantastic art make this series an ongoing joy.

14. Fatale

Ed Brubaker’s latest series about, a well, demon femme fatale blends Lovecraft with Brubaker’s noir horror style. And like much of Brubaker’s other work, it usually contains an essay by Jesse Nevins at the back. (Check out Velvet too – imagine Ms. Moneypenny was James Bond)

15. Mike Mignola

Met Mignola at Fan Expo this summer. Lovely guy who signed everything I put in front of him. I’m currently reading the adaption of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser he did with Howard Chaykyn a few decades back. Thanks Mike for some of the best stuff around.

16. Cheese Magic

The best cheese shop in the city. Hi Ping!

17. Canada’s Wonderland

Me and the boy always seem to end up there in the summer. I couldn’t coax the girl this year, so it was just the two of us. Yeah, it’s hot, noisy, the park is overpriced and the line-ups are ridiculous, but it’s still a thrill. (I’m still not brave enough for Leviathan though)

18. Skunks

What? Maybe it doesn’t belong on this list, but I learned a lot about skunks this year when my dog got sprayed. When I caught up with him, he was whimpering and the skunk was advancing on him. I shooed the skunk away and picked up Lester (yes, foolish – I ended up throwing those clothes away). The dog was dripping. I was surprised how thick the skunk juice was and how quickly my house filled it. And for the next few days at work, I was the butt of skunk jokes. I’d like to think it taught the dog something, but I doubt it.

19. Hamilton

Sure, it’s an idealized joy, I know. I lived in Hamilton from 1983 to 1987 when I attended McMaster University. In 1987, I moved to Toronto and have only been back a dozen or so times, usually for a meeting or some such, but whenever I do go, I miss it. It’s living away from the pulse beat which allows a different culture. It’s not Toronto, and it doesn’t want to be.

20 A Quotation

I usually end the year with a quotation about hope or revolution or something like that. I’m re-reading Catcher in the Rye, and this one jumped out.

“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.” – Holden Caulfield

Get excited. Change things.

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