Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year in Lists: Favourite Moments of 2011

I've recapped what I've read, and the shows I've gone to. Now it's time for my favourite moments of 2011, in chronological order.

1) Remember how I took Spanish? I barely do... I was watching a movie recently where someone said "lo siento" and I was pleased that I remembered that meant "I'm sorry". It was fun taking the course with my buddy Fea, and it did come in handy when I was in Barcelona because I was great at reading signs (I even impressed Becca T), but I think the biggest thing I learned from the course is that it's really hard to take a course during the school year, and I don't think I'll do it again. But it was fun.

2) I had a nice birthday this year. The day was during the week, and I had a quiet night in with Jason, who cooked me dinner. I also had lunch with some coworkers, and a dinner that weekend with friends. It was nice.

3) In March, I met up with Becca T in Barcelona. Barcelona is a beautiful city with a lot of neat things to do. I have such fond memories of that trip. I pretty much even forget that it was raining the whole time. I'd like to definitely go back to that city in sunnier times.

4) After my visit to Barcelona, I flew to London to spend a lovely weekend with my friend Claire. It was very low-key, and I also had the opportunity to meet up with a friend from here, who now lives there, for tea, and meet up with my cousin who was teaching there at the time. It was nice and chill, and made me feel ridiculous that I'd weekended in London.

5) In April, I went to see the Tim Burton exhibition at the TIFF Lightbox with Jason. I love Burton, so it was a really cool exhibition for me to see.

6) Remember in April how I was on Jury Duty? I don't know if it was a "favourite" moment, but it was something I'd never done before! Pros: the "You & Jury Duty" film on day one was hilarious and like something straight out of The Simpsons that would feature Troy McClure; I got a lot of reading done; I got to see one trial in progress (very educational); I got to go out for lunch on Queen Street; and I got to wake up a little bit later. Cons: there was so much sitting around that I started to lose my mind by the afternoon; and I felt like I had TWO jobs because most days after duty, I had to drop by school to finish off my lesson plans. However, overall it was an interesting experience. I'm now exempt for three years, I think, which sounds like a ridiculously short period of time.

7) In May I ran my first 5K race. I ended up running four 5K races in total this year, including one across the Brooklyn Bridge, the Night Run through Sunnybrook Park with a light on my head, and the Scotiabank Waterfront 5K, where I pulled my personal best time. In total, according to RunKeeper and my fitness journal that I used before RunKeeper, I've run over 350 miles (563 km) in 2011. That's like running from here to NYC! I'm very proud that I stick with running this whole year, and I've signed up to do a 10K race in May as a new goal.

8) I went to my first Hillside Music Festival in Guelph, Ontario this year. It was three days of awesome independent music on a gorgeous and sustainable site. I wrote a really long post about it. It was so much fun, and it's something I'd love to do again.

9) My summer trip was oh-so-fun. Chicago/Utah/NYC. My friend Vern is a hoot as a travel buddy, and we had a great time exploring the beautiful city of Chicago, road-tripping through Utah to visit our friend Sandra who has ended up living there, and glamming it out in NYC. So many fond memories from those two weeks.

10) In September, I took a weekend to visit my friend Sandee up in Sturgeon Falls. I've been meaning to do this trip for years, but I finally got myself organized to do it. It was fun visiting her, going to see a pig, eating poutine, catching up, and enjoying a beautiful drive home in the fall colours of Northern Ontario.

11) Professionally, I've had a good calendar year. This semester especially, I have really great classes, and I've pulled off some big projects, such as being a head-organizer of Multicultural Day. It's good that I still like my job, despite occasional frustrations and challenges. It also looks like in the next couple of years my school will be changing (becoming more academic, I kid you not), and I look forward to that.

12) I guess my last favourite moments of 2011 include all of the times I've spent with awesome people in my life. I just came back from a really relaxing week with my parents in Stratford, and some friend time there as well. I've had visits from lots of people this year, and have also been able to see my BFF Becca T, who will be in Paris for the next three years, in Barcelona, and in Toronto over the summer. I've enjoyed all of the visits I've made with my friends from down the street in Toronto, to Utah, to Sturgeon Falls, ON. In addition, I was able to go to so many fun shows (see previous post) because I am fortunate to have a good set of concert buddies. And of course, it does help that my partner in crime this year, really likes shows and went to the majority of them with me. It's been nice having him around, and not just for the shows.

Well, that was 2011. Bring on 2012. I wish all of you the best in the new year and hope you have a great NYE. I have a night in with Jason planned, which will be chill and nice.

Happy New Year!

p.s. Best albums of 2011 post to come in the next couple of days. I'm still working on it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year in Lists: 2011 Concerts

This was my most concert-going year ever. 22 shows in total, plus one three-day music festival. Total number of bands/artists enjoyed = undetermined. It was a good year. December really took the cake with Feist/Bon Iver/Tori Amos/Basement Revue w Feist/Sloan (w Feist). I like Feist.

Best New (to me) Live Experience = Bon Iver

Best New (to me) Local Band = Ohbijou

Trifecta #1 = Sloan (once in the spring, once at Hillside, once in December)

Trifecta #2 = Feist (all in December!)

Trifecta #3 = Kevin Drew (BSS at Downsview, Hillside, and the Basement Revue)

Trifecta #4 = Torquil Campbell of Stars/Memphis (2 Stars shows, plus Memphis at Hillside)

Best Bar Show = Kathleen Edwards @ The Dakota Tavern

Best Random Storytelling = Hawksley Workman

Goddess = Tori Amos

Most Adorable = Dan Mangan (once at Hillside, and once at the QE Theatre)

Best way to get into a show = Scavenger hunt to see Stars at the Edward Day Gallery

Best Nostalgia = Seeing Weezer and The Hip @ Downsview. It's been ages since I've seen the Hip and I listened to lots of Weezer as an angsty shoe-gazing teenager.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to surpass this year in terms of shows, but 2012 is looking robust so far. I've got tickets to see my beloved Los Campesinos! on January 21st, and tickets to see my emolicious Jack's Mannequin on January 31st.

Here's the complete 2011 list for posterity.

  • Dec. 21st - Sloan, Rural Alberta Advantage, Ohbijou, Bonjay @ The Great Hall
  • Dec. 20nd - Jason Collett presents The Basement Revue @ The Dakota Tavern
  • Dec 8th - Tori Amos @ Massey Hall
  • Dec. 7th - Bon Iver @ Massey Hall
  • Dec 1st - Feist @ Massey Hall
  • Nov 4th - Matthew Good @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
  • Oct 28th - Dan Mangan @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
  • Oct. 7th - Ohbijou @ Soundscapes
  • Sept. 9th - Jason Collett with Zeus @ Yonge-Dundas Square
  • Aug 28th - Kathleen Edwards @ The Dakota Tavern
  • July 22nd to 24th - Hillside Music Festival
  • July 16th - Sarah Harmer/Serena Ryder @ Olympic Island
  • July 1st - Tragically Hip, Weezer, BSS, Hey Rosetta!, Buck 65 @ Downsview Park
  • June 22nd - Sloan @ The Mod Club
  • June 18th - Stars @ The Edward Day Gallery
  • June 17th - Stars @ Yonge-Dundas Square
  • June 16th - Evening Hymns/Forest City Lovers @ The Music Gallery (NXNE)
  • June 10th - Joel Plaksett Emergency @ Metro Square
  • April 29th - Hawksley Workman @ The River Run Centre in Guelph
  • April 28th - Old Man Luedecke @ The Dakota Tavern
  • April 26th - Christine Fellows @ The Music Gallery
  • Feb 24th - Hey Rosetta! @ Lee's Palace
  • Feb 4th - Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans @ Lee's Palace

My Year in Lists: Books Read in 2011

Total Count = 30 Books

Top Fiction

1) 11/22/63 - Stephen King
2) The Story of Beautiful Girl - Rachel Simon
3) I Think I Love You - Allison Pearson
4) The Paris Wife - Paula McClain
5) Freedom - Jonathan Franzen

Top Non-Fiction

1) Bossypants - Tina Fey
2) Falling Backward - Jann Arden
3) Just Kids - Patti Smith
4) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) - Mindy Kaling
5) From This Moment On - Shania Twain

And here's the complete list... for posterity's sake. It'll come down from my sidebar soon.

  • 30) 11/22/63 - Stephen King (excellent)
  • 29) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) - Mindy Kaling (awesome)
  • 28) Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson (quite good)
  • 27) Falling Backwards - Jann Arden (excellent)
  • 26) Freedom - Jonathan Franzen (worth slogging through)
  • 25) Riding the Bus with My Sister - Rachel Simon (excellent)
  • 24) The Story of Beautiful Girl - Rachel Simon (excellent)
  • 23) Fly Away Home - Jennifer Weiner (good)
  • 22) Best Friends Forever - Jennifer Weiner (okay)
  • 21) A Stolen Life - Jaycee Dugard (very good)
  • 20) The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich (page-turner)
  • 19) The Women - T.C. Boyle (good)
  • 18) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - Gregory Maguire (good)
  • 17) I Still Dream About You - Fannie Flagg (pleasant)
  • 16) The One That I Want - Allison Winn Scotch (meh)
  • 15) I know I am, but what are you? - Samantha Bee (funny and Sedaris-esque)
  • 14) Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher (okay)
  • 13) The Girl's Guide to Homelessness - Brianna Karp (good)
  • 12) From This Moment On - Shania Twain (very interesting)
  • 11) Bossypants - Tina Fey (amazing and hilarious)
  • 10) We All Fall Down - Nic Sheff (good)
  • 9) When God was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman (okay)
  • 8) I Love You and I'm Leaving Anyway - Tracy McMillian (okay)
  • 7) A Secret Kept - Tatiana de Rosenay (okay)
  • 6) I Think I Love You - Allison Pearson (very enjoyable!)
  • 5) The Memory Palace - Mira Bartok (harrowing but really good)
  • 4) The Paris Wife - Paula McLain (good)
  • 3) Dirty Jersey - James Salant (meh)
  • 2) Just Kids - Patti Smith (excellent)
  • 1) The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides (dark but well written)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And any book I'll ever read, you'd be the line that sticks out to me.

This will be a quick post from my iPhone, as this town no longer has any coffee shops with working wifi, or at least none that I know of. (FYI - my parents are tecnological dinosaurs who don't have a computer or the Internet.) Anyway, today I needed to do some stuff online, so I had to huddle in a Boston Pizza parking lot and scam their wifi. It wasn't conducive to blogging, however.

Anyhow, I've been having a very nice holiday so far. I was spoiled rotten in the present department by my friends, Jason, and my parents. I got Mindy Kaling's (Kelly from The Office) book from Jason, and I read in less than 24 hours. It was hilarious, and I could totally write a post about its brilliance, and how much I have in common with her. My parents got me some new running threads from lululemon, and I've worn them for one very long run, and a short post-yoga run. In addition, they got me lots of other little things, including a three-pack of super warm socks from Ducks Unlimited. They have ducks on them, and some of their proceeds go to saving wetlands, so not only are my feet warmed, my duck-loving heart is as well. My dad got me an imitation Snuggy from Giant Tiger (you can imagine the quality). However, this joke gift has come in handy, as I've been spending a lot of my holiday curled up and reading.

I've been doing a lot of reading because I got my dad Stephen King's latest tome "11/22/63" as a gift. I decided that I wanted to read it before going back to Toronto... Goodness knows I don't want to carry that 850 page hardcover with me. (I ordered it online, so it was shipped here directly.) I started it on Christmas Day, and I've valiantly made it to page 700. I'll definitely get it done in time. It's really quite good. I haven't read anything by Stephen King in years. I forgot what a good writer he can be. I highly recommend this book as well. I'll blog more about it later.

I did get out today to do a bit of boxing week shopping. I actually managed to score a pair of cute boots at the mall. Another tradition of mine is to buy a book or two at Fanfare Books. Every year, this local bookstore has a 20% off all books sale. I picked up "The Tiger's Wife" and "The Hunger Games". I've heard good things about both.

Tomorrow afternoon is my high school friends' (Go9) annual Christmas get together. It should be fun. Then, I've got an early train back to Toronto on Friday morning. I'm hoping to get some of my year end posts (fave albums, fave books) when I'm back home.

Hope you all had a nice Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One chord to another.

Just as I expected, Sloan playing the entirety of "One Chord to Another" at the Great Hall last night was AMAZING.

Jason got sick with the flu, so at the last minute, I got my friend Mathew to go to the show with me. One man's illness is another man's rock show, I suppose. Mathew's a big Sloan fan so it totally made his day to get to go the show, plus we hadn't gone to a concert together since June, so it was nice opportunity to catch up on rock shows.

We got to the venue just in time to see Ohbijou, whom I love. They put on a really great set. They were followed by a fun set by the Rural Alberta Advantage. Heck, if those two bands had been the show, I would have gone home happy.

But I was there for the Sloan.

The two of us managed to get right two the front of the stage and had a great view. I was bummed because I forgot my camera, but Mathew brought his. The pictures in the post are his, which I have lifted from Facebook. Here's a great one of the drum kit. It's same one that they used during the OCTA days. Vintage.

As promised, the band ripped right through 1996's OCTA. They started with track #1: "The Good in Everyone" which is such a classic Sloan song. I just have to post the video. Fast forward to 2:15 to check out the drumkit back in its heyday.

They pulled no stops. They brought out horns for "Everything You've Done Wrong". Of course I loved hearing the singles from OCTA, because they are awesome, but my favourite song of the night was "G turns to D". Even a girl who has seen Sloan an estimated 25 times doesn't get to hear that one live very often.

Here are more pictures courtesy of Mathew. Here are Patrick and Chris. We were standing on Patrick's side of the stage.

Chris and Jay:


During the encore, Sloan kept faithfully with the theme of "it's 1996". They played "Snowsuit Sound" from 1994's "Twice Removed" and "500 Up" from 1992's "Smeared".

The show was organized by the punk band Fucked Up. Lead signer Damian Abraham joined Sloan to do a hardcore punk song which was fun.

However, the highlight of the show was when the band finished from a song they were working on for their "next album", i.e. 1998's "Navy Blues". (Love how they kept with 1996.) For "She Says What She Means", they were joined by guest guitarist FEIST. Yes! I was treated to Feist two nights in a row! WOW!!! Can you believe it? She completely rocked out! It was awesome!

Sigh, seriously, what a week! What a month! I've seen Feist thrice! And to top it off, Mathew scored me the night's setlist.


On that note, I came across a video of Feist from Tuesday's Basement Revue. Check it out, if you are so inclined.

2011 has definitely been a year of awesome shows for me. Is it over? I don't know. It's quite possible that I'll go to a show on New Year's Eve. We shall see.

Well, that concludes my latest concert wrap-up. I have to go sort through Christmas cards and gifts for my lovely colleagues. Last day tomorrow. Thank goodness. Then on Saturday, I'm off to Stratford for Christmas.

This might just be my last post until Christmas. I hope that your Christmas, wherever you are, is very merry and bright.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's as much what it is as it is what it's not.

This evening Jason and I went to see Jason Collett's Basement Revue. This event is held annually each Tuesday in December at the Dakota Tavern, which is a tiny little basement bar, and definitely one of my favourite places. We went to two revues last year, and thankfully this year we were able to make it to one.

Jason Collett is a Toronto musician and part of the Broken Social Scene collective. During the Basement Revue, he'll open with a few songs, and then there are several sets by other musicians, and usually a bit of poetry too. You're virtually guaranteed to see some pretty cool Toronto musicians play and jam with each other. Last year we saw several other members of Broken Social Scene, Ron Sexsmith, Torquil Campbell from Stars, Jimmy Shaw from Metric, and many more play at our two shows.

The Basement Revue is fun because you never know what to expect. When we got there, we playing the crowd spotting game to see which musicians were around. Right away we saw Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, both of BSS. Then we spotted Feist! Of course my brain reminded me that she could just be there to see her friends play, and not actually be there herself. I was just going enjoy being in the same audience as her.

The first half of the show was fun, with performances by Jason Collett, Brendan Canning, legendary Canadian songwriter Andy Kim, and Kevin Drew. After the break, a really great duo called Aurora (?) played a few songs, and then I saw Feist say to Jason Collet "Am I next?" Could it be true??

Well, she wasn't next. There was some poetry, but after that, Ms. Leslie Feist took the stage. How awesome was it for me to see one of my favourite musicians, who is internationally renowned, play a tiny little basement bar? Pretty fucking awesome.

She started by playing three songs by herself with just a guitar. The songs were "The Bad in Each Other", "Graveyard", and "Anti-Pioneer". She commented that she felt a little bit nervous, because she hadn't played by herself in over six years. Awww, I love her.

Then, she brought out a shiny tambourine, and a few other musicians, including Kevin Drew, to play a percussive instruments only version of "The Circle Married the Line". It was great.

Her last song was a rather rock-n-roll version of "Undiscovered First". (All of the songs she played were from her 2011 album "Metals".) When she finished, she said "that was louder than I intended, but I thoroughly enjoyed it." It was excellent. All of the songs were. *swoon*

So that was a pretty amazing Basement Revue, and I don't know if it could ever be topped. Is there anyone else I'd take over Feist as a performer in a tiny little basement bar? I don't think so.

Thank you universe. Oh, and thank you Toronto for just being an awesome city with lots of fun stuff to do, and a really great music scene that has produced some great people.

Oh and tomorrow night = Sloan. Woot!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Better days and getaways, 'cuz every day's a holiday with you.

Greetings from a nice weekend! I can't believe that it's a week until Christmas day! Man, how quickly this time of year goes. Luckily, I am finally finished all of my Christmas shopping. I look forward to not going into a store for awhile. I'm not going to do Boxing Day... I never really do because I'm in Stratford then, and there are not a whole bunch of mega deals to be had in the small town.

But it's been a nice few days. On Thursday, we had our annual student council Christmas dinner. If you want good service in a restaurant, don't go with eight teenagers, I tell you. They took half an hour to take our hour. They'd told the VP of student council that we could only have the table for 2 hours when she made the reservation, so the kids were worried we'd get kicked out. My co-moderators and I said "we'd like to see them try to kick us out of here".

Anyway, despite poor service the dinner was still fun. Dining with teenagers is a blast because they ask questions like "what's an artichoke?" and so forth. They are cute.

On Friday, I had a delightful massage after school (gotta use up those benefits), and then some of my work colleagues and I had our own Christmas party at a pub. It was organized by the Alans (there are two), and only the "reasonable" were invited. We did a Kris Kringle, which turned out to be fun. This is what I gave:

It got stolen quite a few times so it was a hit. The gift I thought was pretty funny was labelled "Emergency Lesson Plans: Teacher's Edition" and contained Jersey Shore videos. It's fun to laugh at your job. I ended up with some cutesy shot glasses. I should have picked a bottle of wine, but I'm always intrigued by the unknown. No one wanted to steal them, so I was stuck with them.

I slept in and had a lazy Saturday. Then I met up with Jason for pho, and we went to see the movie "Young Adult" with Charlize Theron. It's quite good, provided that you can handle a comedy about an effed-up person with some uncomfortable moments. It's well done because although Charlize Theron's character is quite unlikeable, you end up feeling some empathy for her, and wishing her the best in the end. Or at least this bleeding heart did.

Today I went out to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm glad to be done.

The other thing worth mentioning about this weekend is that I decided to pull out my old black Doc Martens boots from my university days. Wearing them around this weekend brought back memories. It's strange how a pair of shoes can do that. I feel like I was connected to my younger self by wearing them. It felt right traipsing about the streets of Toronto in those things. I'm glad I'm wearing them again.

Hope that you all have great weeks. I've got a couple concerts on deck, and lots of work busyness, but I hope to check in!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You see the good in everyone.

Twitter is good for concert-ing news.

I already knew that Sloan (along with The Rural Alberta Advantage, Ohbijou, and Bonjay) were playing a benefit show next Wednesday and I was intrigued. After all, it was only $20, was for charity, plus I love Sloan, and Ohbijou's album is one of my favourites of the year. And I did enjoy the RAA when I saw them at Hillside.

But it was a school night. And I've seen Sloan many, many times. Twice already in 2011. And, I'm going to a show the night before.

This evening, I saw on Twitter that Sloan was going to play the entirety of their 1996 album "One Chord to Another". And there were only a few tickets left.

I've never seen a band play a whole album before. The Weakerthans have been doing it, but in Winnipeg, San Francisco, and NYC, and not during the summer, so I haven't been able to go. (You know that if it was the summer, I'd go.) I think Weezer did it too with the Blue Album and Pinkerton.

Anyway, OCTA would be up there with albums I'd like to see played live in their entirety, so that's what I'll be doing next Wednesday. I'm psyched.

Blog Discussion - What album would you like to see played live in its entirety?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Meme - why not?

I came across this meme on Claire's blog, and decided to take part. Why not? This past weekend was all about Christmas (shopping, napping, festive specials from Swiss Chalet, more shopping, wrapping, writing cards, getting things ready to mail etc.) so I really don't have much to write about. Perfect time for a meme!

1. Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog?
Egg Nog is only available for a couple of months and it's delicious. So, for the exclusivity, I'm going to say egg nog. A friend on Twitter also recently tweeted about chocolate egg nog available at the Superstore (at least in Vancouver), and I'm intrigued. However, I am a big hot chocolate fan too... *goes to put on the kettle to make some*

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
If by Santa, you mean me, then yes, yes I do enjoy wrapping. Or at least putting in a gift bag with tissue paper depending on the wrap-ability of the present.

3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
Hmmm, tough one. I understand the classiness of the white, but the kid in me prefers colour.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Between November 25th to the beginning of December. I think this year I put the tree up around December 4th. A bit later than I like.

6. What is your favourite holiday dish?
At home it's traditional turkey with stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, and rolls. Of course, I can't let Christmas go by without a Festive Special (or two) from Swiss Chalet.

7. Favourite Holiday memory as a child?
I was really psyched the year that Santa brought me She-Ra's Crystal Castle. However, instead of having a plastic front and back, there were two back halves to the castle and it had to be returned. "Oh no! The elves made an error!" exclaimed my mother. "Don't worry though, stores have an arrangement with Santa and will make exchanges just in case," she assured me.

As soon as the store opened on December 27th (this was back in the day when stores were still closed on Boxing Day), we went up to the front counter. I think my mom was hoping I'd go skedaddle to the toy section, but I wanted to be there to make sure the exchange went according to plan. My mom looked at the sales lady and said "Errr, the elves made a mistake on this Crystal Castle. Can we exchange it for a new one?" Luckily, the lady played around and didn't reveal the truth. And, the store had one left in stock, and I finally got to put together my Crystal Castle a couple of days late.

Forgive me for also sharing my second favourite memory. One year, my dream toy was Raya. She's the drummer from Jem & The Holograms. I liked her because she had purple hair. That year we went to visit my dad's brother in St. Catharines, and when he saw my doll (perhaps after a few caesars) he exclaimed "What the heck is that? A hooker?" Of course, I innocently replied "What's a hooker?" to the dismay of my mother, and my nana. No one told me, but years later when I found out I was like "oh, so that's why Uncle Dave called my Raya a hooker..."

(Also upon finding a picture of Raya on the Internet, I now understand Uncle Dave's query. Although I love her tights!)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I figured it out on my own, but didn't tell my parents I did for a long time because I figured it would mean one less present.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yes. My mother's side of the family would always have a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner and then open gifts. Even though we don't do that since my grandparents passed away, we still open some presents on Christmas Eve in memory of that tradition.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
My little tree has white lights, gold and red baubles, and other fun ornaments (birds! cats! Bart Simpson!) that have been given to me over the years.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I like it for Christmas, not so much afterwards.

12. Can you ice skate?
I could in the year 2000. Haven't been since, but it's like riding a bike, right?

13. Do you remember your favourite gift?
See #7. I also got a doll house when I was four that was pretty sweet. And my first iPod when I was in my twenties. That was great too.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

Spending time with family and friends and realizing how special life is. And also taking the season to be charitable to others in my life and the less fortunate.

15. What is your favourite Holiday Dessert?
I think I'm more into the assorted chocolates that I get as opposed to one specific dessert.

16. What is your favourite holiday tradition?
My dad receiving his traditional box of books and then ignoring us for the rest of the day. Haha. Joking. I miss all of the traditions that we had when I was a kid and my grandparents were alive. We still have traditions, but they're not as fun. I like the traditional group of 9 get together though. I also like the traditional last day of school before Christmas break: short classes, talent show, then a staff luncheon.

17. What tops your tree?
A single gold star.

18. Which do you prefer - giving or receiving?
I love finding the perfect gift and watching someone open it.

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
Meh. I feel there are better sugar-y options during this time of year.

20. Favourite Christmas show?
The episode of the Simpsons where Bart gets caught shoplifting.

21. Saddest Christmas Song?
Last Christmas is pretty sad when you listen to the lyrics. Also Xmas Cake by Rilo Kiley's quite sad too.

22. What is your favourite Christmas song?
A House or Maybe a Boat by Hawksley Workman.

Friday, December 09, 2011

I'm glad you're on my side still.

Unsurprisingly, this post is going to be a double concert review post. Warning: I have a lot of Tori Amos picture that I am posting because they make me oh-so-happy.

On Wednesday night, I saw Bon Iver at Massey Hall with Jason. WOW. This concert was absolutely amazing. He had a band of about ten musicians on stage with him, including two drummers/percussionists. You know that while you are waiting for a show and you see two drum kits set up on stage, you're in for a treat.

The full band arrangements of all the songs performed were amazing. Standouts were "Blood Bank", "Creature Fear", "Holocene" and "The Wolves (Act 1 & 2)". This was such a good show that when he announced that he was on his last song, I looked at the time in shock because I seriously felt like he'd only been on stage for twenty minutes. Time flew by too fast.

Jason had his camera and took lots of pictures, but I do have a couple that I took with my phone and Instagrammed.

Our seats were on the left side balcony, which gave a neat view of what a standing ovation in sold-out Massey Hall looks like:

My advice to you is that you ever have the chance to see Bon Iver, do it. This was one of my favourite shows ever, and you guys know that I go to a lot of shows, so that's saying something.

Thursday night was Tori Amos with my friend Eric who is my Tori Amos BFF. I'm pretty sure that we have gone to see her every time she's in been town since 2002, except for when she was on her last tour, because we were both on vacation. Anyway, we were joined by my friend Karen for this show, and it was nice to add someone to the Tori circle.

I would never take someone to a Tori show who wasn't a Tori fan. In between shows, I forget how seeing her is almost a religious-like experience for me. There is something about watching her play her music that leaves me in absolute awe. She is so powerful and amazing, and has such a deep catalogue of songs and she'll always surprise you with which ones she pulls out.

This tour is for her classically-themed Night of Hunters album, and she performed with her piano and a string quartet. They played as we waited for her to come out.

When Tori come out I couldn't help but notice her gorgeous shoes. I even took a close-up picture of them. I'm amazed that she can work the pedals of a piano and a keyboard at the same time in those things.

Here are some rather dark-looking shots that I still kind of like because they show how expressive she is while performing.

Her background curtain lit up like stars during many songs. Here she is during "Winter" which is such a great song, and appropriate for this time of year.

I forget what song she was playing here, but I really like this shot I took.

She played such a great selection of "classics" like "Spark", "Precious Things", "Winter", "Cruel", "Cooling", "Playboy Mommy" and some ones from newer albums like "Taxi Ride" and "Big Wheel". "Taxi Ride" is a special song to me, because I *think* it's about friends (you never can tell with Tori songs, ha-ha) and it's got the line "I'm glad you're on my side still" which always picks me up when I'm feeling down because there are so many people who I'm glad to have on my side. I told this to Eric during the show, and we had a nice friend moment, 'cuz we've been on each other's sides since I was in third year university and we don't see each other as often as we'd like (usually a couple of times a year, but we've been doing better this year), but it's still one of my most special friendships. Awww. Tori brings us together.

Anyway, back to the show. The string quartet that she played with was amazing. Sometimes she played some songs on her own too. The quartet played one one of their own compositions which was quite good.

Tori even played a song from her Christmas album: "Star of Wonder". It's a re-working of "We Three Kings" and is my favourite from that album. It was such a magical evening.

In a week's time, I saw three shows at Massey Hall and they were all amazing. What a trifecta.

2011 had been such a great concert year for me. 2012 - you've got a tough act to follow, but I'm optimistic you'll deliver. I've already got tickets for two shows (Los Campesinos! and Jack's Mannequin), so it's looking good!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Would you really rush out for me now?

I've been listening to a lot of this:

And this:

(In preparation for tomorrow night's concert at Massey Hall.)

I'm also looking forward to seeing this amazing woman on Thursday night at Massey Hall.

It's been far too long (3 years?) since I've seen Tori play.

I've also been reading this:

While wearing this:

(That's my Feist Metals Tshirt with neat-o triangle geometric pattern.)

I'm enjoying having this up in my place:

And I'm majorly psyched about this:

I bought my ticket today for the January 21st show at Lee's Palace, and my buddy from Winnipeg will be flying in for the show too. (cross fingers for no volcano)

Finally, I will leave you with this, because it's breath-taking, and I'm really looking forward to seeing this live tomorrow night.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Good morning bird, good nightingale.

Feist did not disappoint. She put on an awesome show. The only thing I wish is that Massey Hall did not have a curfew, and it could have been longer.

Jason and I went out for dinner before the show. Massey Hall is near the Eaton Centre, and the restaurant selection isn't the greatest: mainly just a bunch of overly-priced, overly-busy chain restaurants. However, there's an old diner called The Senator located behind Dundas Square, so we met up there. I got there early and scored us a table. I had some time to almost drink an entire beer while reading a book as I waited for Jason to trek downtown after he was done work. That was a nice relaxing thing to do on a Thursday.

This restaurant must have gotten a lot of business from the pre-Feist crowd. As we were eating, we spotted Jason Collett (Toronto singer-songwriter, part of Broken Social Scene, obviously en-route to Feist) coming into the restaurant. Ironically, the last time we had dinner at The Senator was before seeing Jason Collett at Dundas Square back in September.

After dinner, we headed to Massey Hall, and our first stop was the merch table so I could pick up a Tshirt and a poster. #Feistnerd

Bry Webb, from the band the Constantines, who are a favourite of mine but currently on hiatus, was the opener. His set was quite enjoyable. Last time I saw Feist, Hayden opened for her, so I completely love her choice of support.

Feist's performance was great. Seeing her live makes you realize what an absolutely amazing musician she is. She did a particularly interesting version of Mushaboom; the song was unrecognizable from the album version, but you could still sing along.

She really focused on songs from Metals, in fact, she almost played the entire album throughout the night. My favourite performance from that album was A Commotion; it's not necessarily my favourite song on the album, but it's one of those songs that really shines when it's performed live.

She played some older material from Let It Die and The Reminder as well. I love both of those albums as well as was stoked to hear songs from each of them. She did not play 1-2-3-4, which was okay by me. I love 1-2-3-4, of course, but I also think she struggled a bit with the outcome of the popularity of that song, so I get why she would leave it out. I wonder if she did it at all on this tour.

There was a lot of audience dancing going on during the show. In fact, she eventually invited people in the floor seats to come on stage and dance, and then to side on the floor and listen to the rest of the show in a bit of an Occupy Feist movement. It was cool. One of the dancers was an older gentleman with a tie-died shirt and a long beard, and he really let the spirit overtake him. Here's a video that was posted on YouTube to give you an idea.

I actually brought my camera, and got Jason, who is a better photographer than I, to take some shots. My camera is pretty crappy for concert shots, and I also don't have the patience to take shots during a show. I get overwhelmed by what's in front of me, and always have to just toss the camera aside. Here are a couple good ones.

So that was an awesome Thursday.

Yesterday night was my work Christmas party. It was okay. I enjoyed the food and the wine. I enjoyed chatting with my friends who went, and also some people outside of my usual circle. One of our guidance counselors, who is a pretty cool woman, suggested I come and stay at her cottage in PEI this summer to do a race that involves both running and biking. It sounds really cool. I don't know if I'll actually do it, but it definitely affected last night's dreams where I dreamed that today I biked to Utah to visit my friends and it only took two hours. I had a nice visit, but then got lost on the way home which was very stressful because I had plans to make a lasagna for a dinner party that I was hosting. In reality my plans today do involve making a lasagna, but I'm not having a dinner party just a quiet night in.

I should be off. I'm going to go buy the ingredients for the lasagna, then assemble it, go for a run, then go to the pet store at 4 pm because they are having a 20% off friends and family sale at that point, and Ms. Rilo is out of food, so it works out perfectly. I might get her a little something-something too like a new scratching board.

Have a pleasant weekend!