Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick Chicago Post

Been holidaying hard in Chicago. Done lots and lots of stuff.

Day #1 - Shopped the Magnificent Mile and went out for deep dish pizza. It was all right. The crust was too pastry-esque for me.

Day #2 - Morning lakeshore run, Chicago Art Institute, Architectural boat cruise, Navy Pier.

Day #3 - Morning lakeshore bike ride, lunch on the 95th floor of the Hancock building, Shedd Aquarium, Millenium Park.

Today - Venturing out to new neighbourhoods (Oak Park, Wicker Park). Dinner with Chicago blog buddy!

Tomorrow - Flying to Utah, then driving to middle of nowhere in Utah to visit Sandra (Go9). Think I'm gonna experience culture shock out there.

However, Utah could be a nice change of pace where I can do some reading, catching up on blogs, and whatnot. Catch you then!

Monday, July 25, 2011


I've been completely lazy and exhausted today from a great first Hillside experience. Three days of music, beer, sun, water, food, and fun have left me absolutely shattered. I should be packing right now since I'm leaving for Chicago tomorrow morning, but well, I'm naturally a procrasinator, and when I'm tired, I'm even worse. That's okay though. I have a hard time falling asleep the night before I leave for a trip, so I might as well leave my packing until the last minute.

Anyway, I loved my first Hillside experience! Hillside takes place at Guelph Lake Conservation Area on the island. It's a beautiful site surrounded by trees and water. Jason, who has been to Hillside a couple of times before, had described the Hillside experience and philosophy to me, however, it was pretty amazing to see a music festival done "right". And by right, I mean that Hillside is committed to being good to the environment, and to creating an event that fosters community, and living in the moment.

You might remember that for Canada Day, I went to a show at Downsview Park. And while I had tonnes of fun at the show, it was pretty much the antithesis of Hillside. You couldn't bring in your own water, so you were gouged and had to pay $4 for bottled water; there was no tap water provided if you brought your own water container. Only Budweiser (yuck) was available, and served in plastic cups. The food was expensive and nothing to be impressed with. At the end of the night, my friend and I were thinking about all the waste that littered the park: water bottles, food containers, beer cups, and so forth.

Hillside, however, is all about people working together to protect the environment and produce little waste. In fact, the whole festival is staffed by volunteers. There was not a single bottle of bottled water on site, everyone (including performers) brought their own containers and got water from a giant water truck filled with tap water. If you wanted beer (yummy beer from a local microbrewery), you had to use a reusable Hillside mug. Since I hadn't been before, I bought this year's version, which is made from corn and biodegradable. Food was served on dishes that were washed by volunteers. There were trash turnaround areas where you could sort your waste into dishes, recyclables, organics, and finally trash. The main stage, which is now a permanent fixture on the island, has a green roof.

It's amazing to see how you can have an event and really minimize the impact on the environment simply through people working together and being conscious. At the end of the three days, there was very little trash on the ground, which was quite a difference compared to the massive amounts of litter produced at my Canada Day show.

Another great part of Hillside is the community. All the people washing the dishes, getting your water, etc. are volunteers, which is cool. Many of them have been with the festival for years. The food vendors are all local, and all the beer that is served is from local microbreweries. There is no big corporate advertising anywhere. Everything is very well organized and thoughtfully done: there are even nice messages taped inside the port-o-potties to make that experience a little bit nicer. (My fave: "Every moment is precious. Even this one. Breathe deeply.") People tend to be way nicer to each other at this festival than at others. In fact, I experience no CGR (concert-going-rage) at this event. A lady was nice enough to give me some toilet paper that she brought from home on the first night 'cuz the port-o-potty was out. I reciprocated this random kindness by giving a random woman a hair elastic because I heard her say she'd forgotten to bring one and needed to tie up her hair in the heat.

Of course, the music was my favourite part of the show. There are three stages, so you have to make some choices. Here's a list of everyone I caught:
- Lights
- The Dears
- One Hundred Dollars
- Torquil Campbell (of Stars) jamming with Hooded Fang
- Dala
- Dan Mangan, Mother Mother, and Hannah Georgas (all from Vancouver) jamming together
- Memphis
- Emmanual Jal (I caught one song, but he was impressive!)
- Dan Mangan
- Hannah Georgas
- These United States
- Mother Mother
- Lowlands
- Modern Field Recordings
- Old Man Luedecke
- Kevin Drew jamming with most of Sloan
- Shannon Kingsbury Band
- Kevin Drew & The Beauties
- The Rural Alberta Advantage
- Serena Ryder & The Beauties
- Common Grackle
- Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
- Slooooooooo-oooooooooooan (to close out the event)

Wow, that was a lot, but it was all excellent. What were the standouts? Well...

- I really enjoyed One Hundred Dollars. The lead singer has an excellent voice that reminds me of Neko Case.

- Memphis is Torq's (of Stars) side project and I've loved them for a long time, but this was the first time I saw them perform. They had to start off the set with just two members because they were waiting for the others to be boated across the lake to the stage. They made it though! The band closed with a great version of "Incredibly Drunk on Whiskey" which is such a fun song.

- Dan Mangan put on a great set even though he made a mistake of wearing jeans in such hot weather.

- I'd never really heard much by Mother Mother, but they put on a great show. It was really high energy with catching songs.

- Old Man Luedecke, my favourite banjo player who is from Nova Scotia, put on a great show which had the whole audience stomping and clapping, and even won over the grumpy old men behind us who declared him "boring with a banjo". Even they were clapping along a few songs in!

- Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene) put on a great show with Toronto's The Beauties. It was excellent. They closed with a great cover of the Arcade Fire's Empty Room.

- The Beauties also played with Serena Ryder, and put on another great set.

- Sloan closed out the event with a stellar version of Money City Maniacs.

And lastly, for some pictures! I was just going to post one of each band I saw, but I'm a horrible photographer, so I'll just put up the ones I'd posted on instagram, which I actually like.

My reusable beer mug, filled with Flying Monkey's Antigravity Light Ale:

Folk duo Dala on the Main Stage:

Dan Mangan:

Chris Murphy of Sloan during the afternoon jam with Kevin Drew (not pictured). Jay Ferguson of Sloan is covered by Chris' guitar.

Sloan closing out the festival:

Do I have any Hillside regrets? Yes. Two.

1) I only wore SPF 30 on Saturday and got burned on my shoulders. Yuck. I got SPF 60 for Sunday and did not burn any further.

2) I did not see Fred Penner. He's a kids' artist that every good Canadian of my age watched on CBC. He was playing at the same time as the Rural Alberta Advantage, who Jason likes a lot, and I was interested to hear. They were good, but then I heard that both Dan Mangan and Serena Ryder jammed with Fred. And I swear everyone I heard walking around said: "Did you see Fred Penner? He was amazing!"

Moral of the story: always choose Fred Penner.

I do not regret any of the food I ate. I had a really yummy Italian sausage with roasted corn on Saturday, and organic pumpkin ice cream. It tasted like pumpkin pie. On Sunday, I had the Indian taco, which Jason highly recommended from past experience. It had beef chili, cheese, peach salsa, cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, and fried Ojibway bread. It was sooo good. That day I had chocolate ice cream, which was good, but not as good as the pumpkin.

I drank a lot of beer, but I sweat out all the toxins because it was hot and sunny.

All in all, I loved my first Hillside experience and I'm excited to go back.

Now I have to go pack.

Later all. Next post will be from Chicago!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Road Trip Week

I'm going to need a day to collapse and rest soon. But seriously, there is no time for that when one is busy holidaying hard! Well, actually Monday was a little bit of a day of rest. I lazed around my house until the late afternoon when I went to the gym, then met up with Jason for sushi/gelato in the evening.

Anyway, on Tuesday I got a car and drove Miss Rilo to my parents' house. You know what that means - my travels are approaching very soon! Rilo was less angry in the car, but still grumpy about the whole trip. However, she was happy as soon as we got to my parents' house. She likes it there, and they like her a lot, so everyone is happy once the car ride is done.

While in St. Ratford last night, I finished reading Wicked. Yes, Jabba, I survived the bear scene. ;) I felt the book was very good during the first part, and then it picked up again in the fourth and fifth parts. I'm very excited for the musical in NYC!

I left bright and early this morning to return the car, then meet up with my pal Eric at the gym. I wanted to stay in air-conditioning as long as possible, so I ran after our class, and then got my hair cut and my eyebrows done. Then, I came home and had a nap. I woke up from my nap insanely hot, so I decided to take myself to the movies to see Horrible Bosses. It was really, really funny. It's worthwhile to see even if you don't need to go see a movie mainly for the air conditioning.

So, tomorrow the temperature in Toronto is supposed to reach 37 degrees Celsius. I am yet again picking up a car, then getting my work spouse, and we're going to drive to Midland, Ontario to visit a friend who used to work in our department. We miss her a lot and I haven't seen her in a year and a half, so it will be a fun day.

On Friday, I will undertake my third road trip of the week: Jason and I are heading to Guelph to the Hillside Festival. It'll be three days of indie music in a conservation area with lots of yummy food. I've been excited for this ever since we got our weekend passes in April. It looks like the weekend will be hot, but hopefully dry (maybe thundershowers on Sunday... fingers crossed they hold out). I'm also looking forward to staying in an air-conditioned hotel. How sad is that? Every summer I say I'm going to get an air-conditioner, and then I make it until the typical July heat wave, get too busy, and then figure that if I've survived this far, why bother?

After the three road trips, I'll have Monday to get ready for my big Chicago/Utah/NYC excursion, and then I fly out on Tuesday.

And the holidaying hard continues.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I holiday hard.

Here's an epic recap post of my last five days of summer vacation awesomeness.


I lazed around in the morning and then went to my favourite Body Pump class at 1:15pm. I really like the instructor, and my friend Eric goes to this one. My work spouse/gym buddy also joined us, which made the class fun, and we chit-chatted for awhile after.

When I got home, my dear Claire phoned me and we had a lovely catch-up conversation. We discussed the concept of holidaying hard, and that's where the title of this post comes from, because I've definitely been holidaying hard these past two weeks.

Becca T came home from a visa appointment and we watched Harry Potter 7 part 1 to get ourselves prepped and psyched for the new movie.


Thursday morning I biked to the gym to go for a run. I do not enjoy running outside in the heat (nor the rain, cold, or a multitude of other conditions), so I spent some time on the treadmill. Don't forget, I've got that 5K in NYC to prep for. Not sure if I'll be ready for it, but I'm doing my best.

After the gym, I biked home, showered, and hopped on the bus out to Scarborough to meet up with Becca T at the mall. Our friend Flora, who had a baby about three weeks ago, lives out there, and a visit was necessary. It was fun catching up and meeting her cute little guy.

In the evening, Becca and I headed out to see more university friends. Our friends Jon and Ali (it's very convenient when your friends marry each other) threw a reunion party for our group of friends. I'd seen mostly everyone within the past year, but the highlight was seeing my friend Matt who I hadn't seen in maybe four years. He'd gone off to work in Azerbijan, and now is living in Calgary, but might move back soon. It was really nice reconnecting with him, plus seeing all of the old group who I don't see often enough. We've all changed in years since university, but we still click as a group, and as soon as we're together it seems like old times. Awwwww. It was a great evening.


Friday was the special day that I planned for Becca T, and I ended up fleshing it out with more fun stuff in the days since my last post. I'll run down the schedule.

9:30 am - Body Pump class. I got Becca some free passes and she was keen to come build some muscle with me.

12:00 pm - Mani/pedis at my favourite neighbourhood nail spa. I ruined the surprise slightly before we headed off to "undisclosed location #1", because I was showing Becca my new red sun dress that I had planned to wear that day and I said "I'll have to get my toes painted a colour that matches this dress... Oh shit!!!" Anyway, she had suspected I'd scheduled some pampering time.

2:00 pm - Lunch at Sassafraz in Yorkville. I managed to not ruin the surprise of "undisclosed location #2", which was the bigger surprise, anyhow. As I described before, ever since university, we'd wanted to eat at this posh restaurant, and now we finally had. We ordered off their $25 prix fixe Summerlicious menu, and the food was absolutely delicious. We splurged on white sangria, and finished the meal off with lattes. During the meal Becca commented that we were living a day like trophy wives do, and it was absolutely true.

We didn't take too many pictures in the restaurant, because we didn't want to be those guys, but my sangria was so pretty that I couldn't help but take a shot.

4:10 pm - Harry Potter 7.2!! The movie was EPIC. WOW. I've seen each and every HP movie in theatres, and it's strange to think there will be no more. I got very emotional during the movie, and I've never been to a movie before when people are clapping when people are killed. (Sounds morbid, eh?) It was such a great film. Hats of to JK Rowling for creating HP, and for the actors, directors, writers, etc. who were able to bring it to life on film.

6:30 pm - Drinks at the Duke of York. After the movie we walked to the Duke of York, a cute pub with a great patio near U of T. Jason met up with us, as did Eric, who wanted to see Becca T during her week in Toronto. It was a pretty fun night. We polished off quite a bit of beer, and discussed everything from the Muppets to male burlesque.

And can you believe after all of that, Becca T and I stayed up doing laundry? It needed to be done. Holidaying hard has its byproducts: dirty clothes.


Luckily, we got to sleep in a bit. Then we trekked out to Mathew's place so that Becca T could see all of the renovations he'd done on his new house. Our friend Elaine met up with us there too, and we wet to Swiss Chalet for lunch. Yum. Becca hadn't been yet since her return to Canada, and that was a restaurant that we could afford during university, so it was good to make a full circle with respect to our culinary choices of the week.

Later in the afternoon we decided to meet up with Jason to take the ferry out to Centre Island to catch a show planned for Parks Canada's 100th birthday celebration. The wait for the ferry was absolutely hellish. There was no shade over the waiting area, and the sun was beating down on us. There were tonnes of people heading over to the island since it was a beautiful day, and there was also an Indian festival going on. The waiting area had no queuing system; people were just packed in like cattle and pushed and shoved as soon as the gate for the ferry opened. Poor Becca almost got run over by two strollers. It was madness. I seriously felt like a refugee try to pack on a boat to escape.

After we got on the boat, the rage and stress subsided, and it was so beautiful on the island. We arrived to the concert in time to find a shady spot to spread a blanket and listen to Serena Ryder. We moved closed to the stage for Sarah Harmer's set, which was amazing, as usual. She's such a great singer, songwriter and performer. Seeing her definitely fit the week's theme of connecting with university memories, since we listened to her a lot back then.

After the show, we couldn't help but hang around and take some pictures of Toronto's skyline in the setting sun.

The line for the ferry going back was INSANE, so we decided to hike 3.25 km to the east end of the island (Ward's Island) to take that ferry back instead. It was a really nice walk despite the mosquitos. It had cooled off, and once we got away from Centre Island, it completely felt like we were out of the city. Of course, a lot of people had the same idea as we did, but the line was orderly, and we got on the second ferry back to the city. I think we only had to wait for about forty minutes or so in total after a walk.


This morning Becca had to leave to go take care of work stuff in Vancouver, so she was off to the airport, and her visit was done. We went out for coffee in the morning to celebrate a super fun week. I hope I'll get to see her again before she heads back to France; she has to pick up her visa at some point, so hopefully that's when I'm in the city.

I came home and passed out on my couch for awhile. It's a really hot day, so I decided to see a nice air-conditioned movie. Jane Eyre was playing at one of the old-fashioned rep cinemas in my neighbourhood, so I decided to see that since I love the novel, and I'm not sure if I've ever seen a movie version of it. It was well done; the actor playing Mr. Rochester was dark, brooding, and handsome, and the cinematography of the English moors was outstanding.

I'd also made it a goal to see a movie at this theatre, because it is right out of the 1960s. It's taken me four years, but I finally did it.

So, week #2 of summer vacation is over. Next week is road trip week. I'll write more about that as it's happening. Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I could see for miles, miles, miles.

Random thoughts post.

1) First, I'll answer some questions from my previous post.

a) Wigsf asked me what a Body Pump class is. It's one of the fitness classes offered by GoodLife (my gym). It's a weight class where you lift barbells to strengthen different muscle groups. I was intimidated to try the class at first 'cuz there's a lot of stuff involved (weights, mats, steps, etc.) but then I did it for the first time with a friend awhile ago, and I've been trying to do it as much as possible during the summer. I don't like doing strength training at the gym. I get bored, and I hate having to wait for someone else to finish using a machine. Body Pump is lots of fun, and really hard at first, but I'm really enjoying it! The first time you do it, you really feel it, but now my body is getting used to it. But I have upped my weights for squats and my thighs are feeling it today!

b) Jabba asked me how I was liking the book Wicked. I really liked the first part of the book, but the second part hasn't kept my interest as much. However, since I'm now about 40% through the book, I'd really like to finish. I haven't gotten to the scene with the bears yet, which Jabba said was where she stopped reading, so I'm kind of scared to get to that part.

2) I downloaded the new Bon Iver album last night and I really love it. I never really got into his previous stuff, but this album is gorgeous and symphonic. It's one of those albums that you have to listen to multiple times to really figure out, and I love that.

3) I'm having a good visit with Becca T. Today we met up with our mutual friend Elaine for a sushi lunch. Fun times.

4) It's been really hot in Toronto for the past three days. We are supposed to be getting a reprieve, and I can't wait. I'm not a fan of heat.

5) Did anyone watch the ABC interview with Jaycee Dugard on Sunday night? I did, and it was pretty amazing. She's the girl who was kidnapped in California when she was 11 years old, and held captive by a couple of psychos for 18 years. She was raped by her captor and gave birth to two daughters, and they were all found in 2009. It's a pretty amazing story, and her outlook on life is amazing. She doesn't want to spend time hating or being bitter but living her life and loving it. Her story reminds me of Emma Donoghue's book Room. That book was published in 2010, so it must have been written before she was found, but the parallels are there. Jaycee wrote a book that actually came out today, but after seeing her interview, I don't think I could handle reading the book because it sounds like she describes the physical cruelty that she endured, and I was uncomfortable enough hearing about it during the interview. However, her view is that it's his shame, not hers, and she wants to stare the cruelty down in the face to overcome it. I think I read that they are re-running the interview on Saturday if you missed it and are interested.

6) On Thursday, my friend Ali is organizing a reunion party for a bunch of my university friends since Becca T is home, as is my friend Matt, who was in Azerbijan for many years. It will be lots of fun.

7) I am excited for Friday as well because I have planned belated birthday surprises for Becca T. She doesn't read this ever, so I can reveal them on here. First we are going for mani-pedis, then I've made reservations at Sassafraz, a restaurant in Yorkville (snooty neighbourhood) that we always dreamed of eating at when we were poor students in university vicariously walking around Yorkville. The restaurant once actually burned down, and we said "we should learn a lesson from this! We must take advantage of opportunities before they go away!" They repaired the place, but we've still never been. Anyway, I thought a lunch there would make a great birthday present, and today Becca T brought up Sassafraz, the fire, and the fact that we've never gone. I'm excited!

8) I'm also really excited to catch the *last* Harry Potter movie at some point this weekend!

Random thoughts post done.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bird Post

Hello again from the wonderful world of summer vacation. I used last week as my decompression week, and I'm feeling very relaxed these days.

While I was in Stratford on Thursday/Friday of last week, I spent a lot of time chilling by the river. On Thursday, I had dinner with my friend Heather, and then we went for a walk around the river and took a bunch of pictures of various waterfowl that we saw. Since I'm always saying that I'd like to post more pictures on my blog, I figured that I'd share them here.

Here's a young cygnet. So cute!

Here are two cygnets swimming with their mom.

I don't know what kind of bird this is. Is there an app where I can take a picture of a bird and then the app will identify the type of bird? If not, there should be! Anyway, he didn't seem to like paparazzi as he kept quacking at us as we tried to get a good shot of him.

Here's a black swan. Stratford has two of them to my knowledge. I like to refer to them as the ever-elusive black swans just because it's fun to say.

On Friday, I spent some of my afternoon reading by the river. I brought a blanket and sat on the grass which was super relaxing. However, I ended up with a few mosquito bites, including one on a finger-tip, and one on the knuckle of my thumb. Anyway, here's a shot of the view I had while I was reading. I'm reading the book Wicked by Gregory Maguire in preparation to see the musical on Broadway when I'm in NYC this August.

I took the train back to Toronto on Saturday morning, and I've been busy since I've returned. I met up with Jason and some of his friends on Sat. afternoon, and we went to this very cute but rather pretentious French cafe/dessert place in Yorkville where I ended up having a $20 mimosa. It was tasty but so over-priced. We ordered food, but then they said they were done making food so no food for us. Afterwards, Jason and I went to a cute backyard patio pub near Rosedale station because I was starving. We ordered food, then they somehow forgot to make our food, so it was another hour until I ate. Bonus: we got a free round of beer. After we ate, we decided to walk all the way home (5.5 km in total) to work off the food/beer/etc. Luckily it was a lovely evening.

On Sunday, I went to Fea's daughter's 2nd birthday party. It was pretty amazing. She hand-made capes for all the kids, made the birthday cake herself, made Sesame Street cookies as favours, and had TONNES of food. Seriously, this kid's bday parties are always the event of the year.

Becca T got in late last night, and it was great to catch up with her. I dragged her to a Body Pump class at my gym today, and then we went for Starbucks for frappucinos. We couldn't stay very long at Starbucks 'cuz Becca said "we'd better leave before I can't move ever again". She's now off meeting up with another friend for dinner, but hopefully she'll be back in time to join me and my bottle of wine for the Bachelorette.

I gotta run off and call my parents now. Today's their 41st wedding anniversary. Hope everyone is enjoying whatever day of the week it is! Just kidding, I know it's Monday. But seriously, at this time of year sometimes I have no idea of the date! Love it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

When I wake up in my makeup...

I think I'm transitioning into a summer life of leisure quite well. I started summer vacay with a super fun concert, then went on a hilarious cross-border shopping expedition with some friends from work, and now I've been pretty much chilling for three days. I've gone to the gym, met up with Fea for a Yorkdale expedition, ran some errands, and read/napped a lot. I think I'm decompressing from a crazy hectic school year.

I'm heading off to Stratford for a couple of days tomorrow for a belated Father's Day visit. It'll be fun, and then I head back here and before I know it, Becca T will be visiting me!

So before I go, I'm actually going to write a post about a specific topic: makeup. I'm a real girlie-girl on the inside: I love beauty products of all kinds. I think it's surprising, because on the outside, I'm more of a jeans/hoodie/chucks kind of girl. I'll dress up sometimes, but there has to be a reason.

However, I very rarely leave the house without makeup on. I usually wear pretty subtle products, and these are my favourites:

1) Foundation: Even Better Makeup by Clinique

This is actually a new product for me. I used to use Clinique's Perfectly Real Makeup, but made the switch to this product because it has SPF. This foundation is very light, so it's perfect for the summer and doesn't cake on. It's a great way to cover up imperfections without wearing something too heavy on your face.

2) Powder: Almost Powder Makeup by Clinique

I have combination dry-oily skin, and it gets shiny fast, so that's why a powder is essential for me. This product is also very light and weightless, and is great to carry in your purse to get rid of shine throughout the day. The added SPF is a nice bonus too.

3) Eyes: Big Beautiful Eyes by Benefit

I recently purchased this eye makeup kit by Benefit and I'm in love with it. It comes with under-eye concealer, a base shadow, an accent shadow, and a liner. Even better, it comes with handy instructions explaining how to apply everything! I've never felt like I'm an eyeshadow whiz, but this kit makes it so easy. The first time I wore this makeup to school, all the girls on student council noticed and complimented me on my eye makeup. I did wear subtle purple shadows before, but I guess this kit delivers what it promises. I highly recommend this!

4) Mascara: Buxom Lash by Bare Escentuals

I got this mascara in a trial size a few years ago, and it's been my staple mascara ever since. It's not clumpy, doesn't smudge very much, and gives wimpy lashes like mine quite a bit of volume.

5) Lips: Black Honey Almost Lipstick by Clinique

When you look at the colour of this product it's literally black in colour and you think "WTF? How is this one of Clinique's best sellers?" However, when applied it goes on in a dark berry pink colour that is pretty flattering on everyone apparently. Even my mom likes it! (I once gave her a sample tube.) I love the colour on me since I have very light skin tones, and I look best in cool colours. It's also fairly subtle, and is a great everyday lip colour.

These five products make up my everyday makeup routine! They are all pretty subtle, but they definitely make me look/feel better.

So, what are your favourite makeup products? I just spent a fortune at Sephora restocking mine, but I will keep your suggestions in mind next time I feel like trying something new. And for non-makeup wearers, thanks for sticking with me. My next post will be less girlie-girl, I swear.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

That night in Toronto, with its checkerboard floors.

Happy belated Canada Day! I had one of my best Canada Days in memory. It was a start of what I think of as my looooooooong weekend because I won't be working 'til after Labour Day. And holy fuck, I feel free and relaxed. Insert contented sigh.

I went to a big Canada Day show at Downsview Park here in Toronto with my "co-parent". We used to co-teach a course for students-at-risk a couple years ago and formed a lasting friendship. We called our class the dysfunctional family, and that's why we refer to each other as co-parents. I was pleased to find out that my co-parent like shows as much as I do; in fact, this came in handy when I had an extra Broken Social Scene ticket back in December and I introduced her to that band.

We met up for a leisurely lunch before the show. Going to a big outdoor concert reminds me so much of the festivals of my teenage years in the 1990s. My first large outdoor show was at Molson Park in Barrie to see Alanis Morrissette on her 1996 "Jagged Little Pill" tour. The Go9 once was involved in a 3-car convoy to see the Tragically Hip's 1997 "Another Roadside Attraction" festival. After that I attended Our Lady Peace's Summersaults of 1998 and 2000, and so did my co-parent! (Obvs we didn't know each other then.) I haven't been to a big outdoor show since then, so it was really fitting that my return to big shows featured some bands from my teenage years.

When we got to the show, Buck 65 was onstage, and we enjoyed his eccentric show. Then one of my currents favourites, Hey Rosetta!, took the stage and played a great set in the sun. It made me really want to see them in a smaller venue, like Lee's Palace, yet again.

Next up was my beloved Broken Social Scene. They played a really great set, albeit shorter that I would have liked. Highlights were "7/4 Shoreline", "Fire Ey'd Boy" and a great closing instrumental "Meet Me in the Basement". A lowlight was that a couple of ghosts from summers past showed up during the BSS set, and set up camp about 20 feet in front of me. Seriously Toronto! Sometimes you feel smaller than St. Ratford! Luckily, an even bigger ghost, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man shall we say, was not with them. It's all about the glass being half-full.

After BSS was Weezer and their always delightful giant W lights. I've always loved Weezer, even though I haven't kept up on their past couple albums. They opened with the very fun "Troublemaker" from the Red Album, and kept to the classics. My favourite was the "Buddy Holly" closer where Rivers ran over to the sound stage in the middle, and greeted the fans, like us, who were sitting near the back of the park. Weezer are such a fun live band, and I appreciate that they always fill their set lists with a lot of fan favourites.

Last on stage was the quintessential Canadian band: The Tragically Hip. Seeing them live brought me back to being 17 in 1997, which incidentally was the last time that I saw them. They played so many classics like "Grace, Too", "Courage", and a great melange of "New Orleans is Sinking" with "Nautical Disaster". Anyone who was a Canadian teenager in the 1990s would have freaked to watch that live. Songs from post 1997, like "It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken" (one of my favourite song titles ever), and "Bobcaygeon" were awesome. The crowd went absolutely nuts when Toronto was name-checked in the latter.

After the Hip's last song, "Music at Work", we were treated to some very nice fireworks. What a perfect way to celebrate Canada, and awesome music, and SUMMER!