Monday, January 30, 2012

Well I try to keep it steady now, but steady's not her strong suit.

I had a fun weekend.

On Friday night, I went out with some co-workers for appetizers and drinks followed by serve-yourself frozen yogurt. It was a good time.

On Saturday, I woke up early, went to the gym to run a quick 5K, then headed out to meet up with the same coworkers to head to the Buffalo area to go shopping. We started with lunch at the Olive Garden. For some reason, the Olive Garden went extinct in Ontario (or should I say it was extirpated?). I ate a lot of soup, salad, and breadsticks for lunch, but man, was it salty. I was dehydrated for the rest of the day.

We started at the outlet mall, where the girls split up with the boys. We went to the Ann Taylor Loft store first, where I got a pretty blue polka-dot dress, a white sweater with a blue polka-dot flower to match, a frilly blue polka-dot top to go with the sweater, and a simple tank top to go with a black cardigan that I have at home. I'm hoping to wear the dress in Paris, but it might be too cold. However, the sweater and top will definitely come with me.

I also got a plaid shirt at J. Crew. If you show your teacher card at J. Crew you get 15% off, and that means I'm guaranteed to buy something there. I got a pair of earrings at Fossil as well.

After the outlet mall we hit Target. I stocked up on a lot of foodstuffs: Starbucks Hot Chocolate mixes (which you can't get here), super cheap Tazo tea, raspberry lemonade Crystal Light (can't get that flavour here), my favourite Kashi granola bars (on sale), Mint Chocolate M&M's for Jason, and mint Three Musketeers fun sized bars for me. I got Miss Rilo a new laser pointer, and a new catnip mouse. For my dad's birthday, I got him a Wile E. Coyote Super Genius Tshirt which he is going to love. Lastly, I got the last two books of the Hunger Games series because they were super cheap. I still have to read the first, but I know I'll get hooked on them when I get to them and it's good that I have the whole series.

Anyway, it was a good shopping trip. I was pretty exhausted all day Sunday, and didn't even leave my house. I slept, read, did a bit of housework, and then Jason came over and we made dinner and watched Moneyball. It's a good movie. I recommend it.

Today was a quiet day at work. It was tutorials in the morning, and an exam in the afternoon, so I got a lot of marking done throughout the day. I left work fairly early with lots of energy to go for a run. However, when I started running, my head started to throb, my stomach hurt, and I felt really low energy. I called it quits and headed home after about 4K. I don't know what happened, but now I'm home and spending my evening on the couch. On the bright side, that crappy run put me over 50 miles for the month of January. I ran 51.4 miles (or 82.7 km) in January - my best month ever!

I have to recover for tomorrow night, because tomorrow night I'm seeing Jack's Mannequin, aka my favourite emo guilty pleasure! I'll probably be the oldest person there.

Happy Tuesday folks!

p.s. Jabba - so glad you're enjoying Provincial! "The Last And" also made me think of Alone in the Classroom which I have out of the library right now, but I'm not sure if I'll get it read before its due date (Feb. 6th). I also got tickets to see JKS play here in March. I checked his tour dates to see if he was playing Victoria, but nope, closest is Vancouver. :(

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm just your little ampersand.

Remember how at the end of my last post, I was begrudging the fact that I was going to spend my Sunday marking? Well, I ended up going to the ROM with my pal Matt from Winnipeg instead, and that was super fun. I regret nothing. Yes, the pile of end-of-semester marking still looms heavy, but it'll get done somehow, it always does.

Also, I experienced good karma coming back to me at the ROM. Remember how we fessed up to the missing bourbon on our bill on Saturday night? Well, while in line for admission at the ROM, the lady behind me had an extra ticket for free admission that she couldn't use, and gave it to me. See, it always pays off to be honest! This time, sooner rather than later.

In music news, and there is always music news in my world it seems, John K Samson of my beloved Weakerthans just released a solo album called Provincial. Surprisingly, I wasn't overly excited for it. However, he was playing a free record store set at Soundscapes on College and Jason and I went to see him last night. That made me excited for the album. I'd heard snippets of songs online, but seeing the songs in person in their entirety reminded me that you need to hear the WHOLE song oftentimes. John K Samson's lyrics are very poetic and his songs are stories. I enjoyed his set very much.

If you go here, you can see a video of one of the songs from last night.

My favourite song from the evening was The Last And. When I heard it, I pictured a teacher in the 1960s who was having an affair with her married principal. It seemed like a dark Canadian prairie novel in a song. I loved it. Here are the lyrics, and the song if you are interested.

The Last And - John K Samson

So I'm the first one in again
with the quiet and the window growing snow.
When I hear the furnace rouse itself
from its slumber, somehow suddenly I know,
As my eye stops on one curled up in my lesson plan,
that I’m just your little ampersand.

When your voice springs from the inter-com,
with announcements and reminders and a prayer,
I remember how you made me feel:
I was funny, I was thoughtful, I was rare
But like the jokes about my figure
kids think that I don’t understand:
I know I’m just your little ampersand.

And after Christmas holidays,
when you never asked to drive me home again,
and sometimes in the staffroom I
catch your eye with why'd it have to end.
But I know from how you worry at your wedding band
that I’m just your little ampersand.

At the last conjunction after every other "and"
I was just your little ampersand.

Anyway, I picked up the album at the store and I really enjoy it. I was a fool to not be excited for this, I tell you.

Hope you're all having nice weeks. Two days left.

p.s. Oh, in other music news, my former favourite band ever, Ben Folds Five, who broke up in 1999 and shattered my young heart at the time, are recording a new album right now. Woot!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Peasant child, you're into botany.

Well, after everyone's comments on my last post, I feel like the January blues are a very common experience. It makes me feel better; misery loves company, I suppose. This weekend, however, was so awesome that I feel that I've left my winter blues behind.

I had a very chill evening on Friday night with Jason. I made chickpea & cashew curry, and we ate some pretzel M&M's while catching up on this week's Parks & Rec and 30 Rock. I believe last weekend it was me who was really tired and fell asleep watching TV. It was the reverse this week, which was okay 'cuz I was able to catch up on laundry and reading while Jason fell asleep. We did, however, both manage to be awake to catch the end of Letterman which I really wanted to see because my beloved Los Campesinos! were played. With having both Kathleen Edwards and LC! play this week, I guess Dave's got the same musical tastes as me. Hmmm...

On Saturday morning, we decided to go out for brunch. Jason suggested The Three Speed, which is on Bloor between Dufferin and Lansdowne and completely hidden. I have a new hypothesis about cool/hidden gem Toronto restaurants. My hypothesis has two tenets:
a) They have little signage and dark windows, so if you didn't know about them, you'd walk right by them and never be the wiser;
b) They have hand-written menus.

The Three Speed fit both criteria, and was great. We got there before the rush, and I had some delicious banana french toast.

While we were brunching, I was looking at the extensive bourbon menu on the wall. "I think one of my goals for 2012 is to try bourbon." I said randomly. I dunno, I think I just want to be tougher or something. Bourbon seems rock and roll.

Jason said "that's a very achievable goal." Yup, it was. Achievable goals are the best kind.

After brunch, I headed to the gym and ran 10K. It was tough to finish off the distance, because I was getting tired, but I did it. I was pretty fast during the last K, which I think bodes well for May.

After my run, I met up with my pal Matt from Winnipeg, and his friend Mel, to go out for dinner before catching Los Campesinos! at Lee's Palace. I took them to The Ace on Roncesvalles, which is the restaurant that Jason and I went to for his birthday. It also supports both tenets of my Toronto cool restaurant hypothesis.

It doesn't take reservations, but we were able to get three seats together at the bar, which was actually a fun spot to sit. In addition, I noticed that they had a wide variety of bourbon, which lead me to tell my dinner companions about my goal.

"Let's do it!" said Mel, and we decided that we'd try it. Of course, neither of us knew which kind to get or how to drink it, but luckily, our waitress was able to give us advice. We went for Maker's Mark on the rocks. It was strong, but felt good going down. We both felt empowered ordering such a tough drink. However, I kind of ruined the toughness by clapping when I finished mine, which lead one of the waiters there to join in on clapping for me. It was hilarious.

The food was delicious too. I had the fried chicken, and chocolate rosemary ice cream for dessert. (They made their own ice creams there.) When we got the bill they missed charging us for the bourbon, but we like to keep our karma in check, so we fessed up.

After that we headed to the Bloor/Bathurst area for the show, but still had some time to kill so we went to Mel's favourite frozen yogurt place where I sampled a bit and technically had second dessert. To kill more time, we went to a pub for another drink. They only had Wild Turkey bourbon, which burns more than Maker's Mark. (It's the cheapest bourbon, which we completely rejected at The Ace.) I'm well on my way to to knowing my bourbons!

Finally, we got to Lee's for the show. Matt decided to join us in the bourbon club at that point. The opening band, Parenthetical Girls, were entertaining to watch. It didn't seem to take long for LC! to take the stage afterwards, and they were so fun to watch. All of their songs are easy to sing along with, and they are energizing and make you want to dance. They played a good assortment of new stuff and old stuff. It was super fun.

So a delicious dinner, a goal for 2012 made and completed in one day, and a great show made for a really good Saturday evening. Yay!

Today I need to get caught up on work, yuck. Oh well, the weekend can't all be bourbon, desserts, food, and concerts, can it? Too bad.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm looking for a soft place to land.

I have concluded that I dislike January. It's a tough time at work; I'm very busy wrapping up one semester, and getting ready for another one at the same time. I've been spending my week saving teenagers from themselves; why some are so prone to throwing away a credit in the waning weeks of the semester is beyond me. I've had to stage too many interventions in the past couple of weeks.

In addition, I have the worst case of the January blahs. Every task before me whether it be washing a pan, doing laundry, marking a set of tests, making a phone call, or making a grocery list seems insurmountable. Usually I can do all these things with aplomb, but I don't know what's happening to me this week. Delayed reaction to Blue Monday? Perhaps.

However, I distracted myself from me not doing the things above by accomplishing one important thing: booking a flight to Paris for March Break! It actually took a good deal of research to find this year's winning flight with the proper combination of proper airline, flight times, and dates.

A picture of Paris from March Break 2010. I spent a weekend with Becca T before I spent the rest of the time visiting her in her old French home in Nice.

Instead of flying out ASAP on the Friday, which would have been too costly this year for whatever reason as determined by the airline gods, I have to fly out on Saturday instead. It gives me one less day in Paris, but hey, at least the packing stress won't be so bad.

I am excited for my trip, of course. Becca T has found herself a tiny new flat, and has even ordered a chair that will pull out into a bed for me. I look forward to a week in Paris with a side trip. I could go visit a friend in Geneva or I could just treat myself to my own excursion somewhere random.

Self portrait of me and Becca T on the steps of the Pantheon.

I saw a book at the bookstore the other day called "The Best Kept Secrets of Paris". I am tempted to look through it, potentially pick it up, and use it to guide my week. Or maybe I'll figure out my own agenda. I definitely have to find Marie Antoinette's grave. It's one of the few Marie Antoinette things I've never done.

This is a memorial from La Conciergerie, the place in Paris when she was imprisoned. I went there in March Break 2010.

Anyway, so I have that to officially look forward to.

Here I am at the fountain at the Louvre. It was really cold in Paris that week (see hat and mittens.)

Me, my mittens, my crazy flower hat, the Seine, and Notre Dame.

Tonight I was planning on going for a run, but I went out for Greek food on the Danforth with some friends instead. I thought socializing might just be the better option.

It warmed up enough on our last afternoon in Paris that we could relax without coats in the lovely Jardin du Luxombourg before catching our flight to Nice.

In other news, my buddy Matt from Winnipeg is in town this weekend for Los Campesinos! I am excited for that show. It'll be lots of fun.

Sunday, not so much. Day of marking. :(

There's a lot of other exciting stuff on the horizon too. I keep trying to think about that in my January slump, but it's not working as well as I think. How many more days 'til February? I think that's what I have to keep asking myself.

p.s. Actually going through my old trip photos and integrating them into this emo post has cheered me. Please remind me to look through old trip photos next time I'm emo.

p.p.s. Also, I am totally treating myself to a NEW CAMERA before this trip! :D

Monday, January 16, 2012

Here is the truth: I swear I was fun.

I have just downloaded my pre-order of Kathleen Edwards' new album Voyageur and I am so excited to listen to it. Everything I've heard about it so far makes me suspect excellence. Actually, I've just skimmed one positive review. Mainly, I know it will be good because she's one of my favourite artists, and this album was co-produced by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). Collaboration between two of my favourite musicians? Yes, please.

I've been listening to the song Change the Sheets for months. I first heard it when Jason and I caught a surprise show by Kathleen at the Dakota Tavern in the summer. It was up on iTunes shortly there after, and I have listened to it seventy times since then (thanks iTunes for counting my obsessive listening habits). It's one of my favourite running songs, actually.

Anyway, I came across the video tonight and decided to share it here. I watched it once and it's got a lot of my favourite things in it: shows, cities, road trips, and Jim Bryson.

She's also playing tomorrow night on Letterman, and responsibilities be damned, I may rock it like I'm in university and stay up late to watch someone I like on Letterman. Or I'll wait to find it on the internet the next day, we'll see.

Off I go to listen now.

ps I finished The Night Circus on time. It was brilliant.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

But I miss Prairie nights and northern lights.

Last week kicked my ass.

Getting back to work with many deadlines to meet, and the never-ending piles of marking was tough. I feel a bit better than I did a week ago at this time, but I'm looking forward to getting this semester done. Fresh start please. We have two more weeks of classes, then exam week, then it's a new semester with fresh faces and different things to teach.

Also, I had a really great evening with Becca T on Wednesday. She had a whirlwind trip back to North America over the holidays, and was briefly in Toronto, and I was glad to get to see her. It felt like she was back living in Toronto because we did our usual things - go out for sushi, Starbucks, listen to music, play board games, and chit chat. It looks like my trip to visit her in Paris over the March Break is a GO! and it might include a side trip to Geneva too. Another thing I'd like to do is give Becca T a break from me, and maybe take the train to little French town and spend the night on my own. I'll have to go to Indigo and hit up France travel guides to see if that's a possibility. Anyway, I am EXCITED and will keep you guys updated as I plan.

We stayed up late, of course, and I think that late night exhausted me for the weekend. Toronto was under an extreme cold alert, so Jason and I spent a lot of time hibernating. We watched 9 episodes of Parks N Rec, this week's 30 Rock, Up All Night, lots of old Simpsons, SNL (I fell alseep during that), and goodness knows what else. We also made a yummy beef stew on Saturday evening (we had to venture out in the cold to get the ingredients), and I baked cookies from a mix that I got for Christmas. Anyway, it was a lovely hibernation. I think I needed it after the shock of holidays ending.

After a lazy morning/mid-afternoon, I went to the gym and put in a good run. Then, I came home and read and marked, and now I'm going to read again. The Night Circus is due back tomorrow, and I've read 70% of it. I am still enjoying it immensely. It's a "Best Bets" book from TPL, which means you get it for a week, can't renew it, and if it's overdue, it's a $1.00 per day. I think if I read 50 pages tonight, then I can go to the library tomorrow after school, find a comfy chair, then finish it off. I'm totally into the library these days.

Well, that's that. It'll be another busy work week, and then it's Los Campesinos! weekend. WOOT! Happy week to all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Everybody breaks a glass.

Post of random.

1) I'm currently reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's gothtastic! There is such gorgeous, magical, dark imagery in this book. If Tim Burton doesn't adapt it into a movie, I will eat my hat.

2) My favourite running songs right now are:
a) Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
b) Stereo Hearts - Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine
c) Wild Ones - Flo Rida featuring Sia
d) Rumour Has It - Adele
e) Call Your Girlfriend - Robyn
f) Everybody Breaks A Glass - Lights featuring Holy Fuck and Shad

3) Speaking of favourite running songs, last night some of the boys in student council were working in the caf listening to music, and Otis Redding by Jay-Z and Kayne West came on. One kid said "ugh, turn it, I don't like this song", and I was like "WHAT? I love this song!"

Cue silence.

"Miss, you know this song?"

"Play it." I responded. I waited for the singing introduction to start and I rapped along with Jay-Z "I got my swagger back, truth." That one line was enough to convince them that life is pretty strange, and teachers can access their music. Maybe I ruined it for them, I don't know. Whatever. Just never assume that science nerds don't dabble in hip-hop.

4) I got new boots on sale during boxing week, and wore them to school today with leggings and a long sweater. A girl in my period two class said "Miss, you look all hot today!" A couple of my friends said the same too. I should really wear heels more often.

5) Becca T has been in Canada over the holidays and traveling all over the place. She spent a lot of time in Ottawa, and flew out to Vancouver. She's in Toronto for a bit this week, and she's sleeping over at my place tomorrow night. Yay! I'm excited to catch up with my bestie.

6) I am swamped at work right now with marking, writing exams, and various extra-curricular things. I keep alternating between feeling burned out and absolutely unstressed. It's bizarre.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Stumblin' home winter blues.

I have to go back to work in less than twelve hours.

Wish me luck.

p.s. Holidays were the awesome.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Boom, badoom, boom, he got that super bass.

Here I am, more than half-way through my last week of a super-relaxed Christmas vacation. I needed this.

I feel like I have been a bit of a hermit since New Year's. Yesterday, which was a SUPER COLD day, I managed to get myself to a relaxing noon-time yoga session. It was good. I need to stretch more. More yoga this year.

Besides being the coldest day in recent memory, it was also Jason's birthday. We went to see The Adventures of Tintin, which we both agreed was good, not great. After that, we ventured out in the cold, across the city, to Roncevalles Ave to try out a little restaurant for dinner. It's called The Ace, and it's in a tiny old diner.

When we got there, the place was filled, but we waited with a couple of beers and it seemed like we got a table rather quickly. We had bread and olives to start, and then I got steak frites (memories of Paris) and Jason got delicious fried chicken. We traded a bit o' steak for a bit o' fried chicken. When we go again, and I'm sure we will, I'm getting the chicken. For dessert, we got incredible chocolate perogies. There was cocoa in the dough, and they were filled with warm melty chocolate. SO GOOD. I wish I had some now.

Anyway, it was a really good dinner, and it felt like an exotic trip since we had to go across the city. I like Toronto for that. The subway can take you somewhere new very easily. I've lived here for forever, and there's always something new to discover.

Today I eventually managed to get myself to the gym and go for a pretty good run. This evening I've just been lounging around reading a new library book. Oh yeah, I went to the library too. A day of excitement, it was. I also made scrambled eggs. Anyway, the book I'm reading is Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner. I follow her on Twitter because she live-tweets The Bachelor and is absolutely hilarious. Her books make good light reads. I'm enjoying this one so far.

Tomorrow I'm going to see the musical Mary Poppins with my work family (i.e. a couple of my good friends with whom I work). Everyone I know who's seen it loves it, and I'm looking forward to it. We're going to go out for dinner afterwards and that'll be fun times. One thing I miss about work is seeing my friends every day.

On Friday, I'm meeting up with my friend Flora for lunch and some much needed catch-up. That day I should probably also mark some *choke* quizzes, and start thinking about the inevitable, but I might go to Ikea, so maybe I'll buy shiny new things that will distract me. Let's hope.

Oh, also I forgot that today was exciting for the fact that I obtained many tickets to many things in the new year. Jason, his pal (now my pal too... but originally his) Karen, and I are going to see The Joel Plaskett Emergency in May, not once, but twice. We're going to be those people who on the second night, when Joel says "who was here last night too?" shout "woo!"

In addition, I got tickets for me and my dad to see MacHomer at the Stratford Festival in May. I saw it several years ago in Toronto; it's a one-man play that's 90% original Macbeth done in the voices of The Simpsons. It's fucking amazing. I've declared it daddy-daughter day (Simpsons reference).

I also got tickets to see Kathleen Edwards in February. I love her. She sings about things I can relate to, like your daddy shooting your no-good boyfriend 'cuz he got you pregnant. Ha-ha. I kid. That's my standard Kathleen line.

So much excitement. So much. Hello 2012.

Monday, January 02, 2012

My Year in Lists: Favourite Albums of 2011

2011 was one of the strongest years with respect to albums that I can remember. I could have easily turned my traditional top ten list into a top twenty, and I am aware that there are a lot of acclaimed albums that I missed out on this year, because, well, my pesky job gets in the way of me consuming music as much as I'd truly like.

As always, I'd like to mention that this list reflects the albums that played the biggest part in my year. Music becomes woven into my life and into my favourite moments, so sentimentality often plays a big part into which albums are my favourites. In addition, I go to a lot of shows, and seeing songs from an album live often just makes them all the more special to me. My top ten list are quite simply the top ten albums that were the soundtrack of my life in the year 2011.

Since it was such a strong year, here are my honourable mentions:

Honeymoon Punch - Jenn Grant
Siberia - Lights

People & Things - Jack’s Mannequin

Wasting Light - Foo Fighters
Lights of Endangered Species - Matthew Good
Codes & Keys - Death Cab for Cutie

Now for the top ten!

10) Ceremonials - Florence & The Machine

I’d forgotten to check out this album until I saw Florence & The Machine’s performance on SNL. Florence has such a powerful voice, and is able to craft truly captivating songs that suit it. Each song on this album is powerful and empowering at the same time. This is one of my favourite albums to listen to all the way through on a subway ride, or on a train, or just while reading or cleaning at home. Florence’s voice and the gorgeous arrangements on each song make you thankful just to be listening.

Favourite songs: Only If for a Night and Shake It Out

9) Summer of Lust - Library Voices

Who doesn’t like intelligent poppy catchy songs? Seriously, who doesn’t? I most certainly do, and that’s why I like this album so much. I think I just discovered this Saskatchewan band this year, and downloaded their previous album Denim on Denim earlier in the year, and then waited for the August release of Summer of Lust with some excitement. I wasn’t disappointed with Library Voices’ sophomoric effort. There are horns galore, and each and every song easily embeds itself in your consciousness so you’ll find yourself humming it later on in the day. As I said, the songs are smart. References are made to atoms, Parliament, Coupland, Murakami, and my favourite song title by far is Reluctant Readers Make Reluctant Lovers.

Favourite songs: The Prime Minister’s Daughter and Regina, I Don’t Want to Fight

8) Collapse Into Now - R.E.M.

This album would make my list on its merit alone, but I have to admit that my sentimental heart gave it a lot of clout: this is the last time I’ll get the opportunity to put an album by R.E.M., a band who I’ve loved since I was eight, on my end-of-year list since they are going on permanent hiatus after a 31-year career.

There are those out there who got away from R.E.M. after a couple of lackluster records at the beginning of the last decade. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed their last two records, especially this one. I love how R.E.M. can maintain an early alternative sound to their work, even though they are an older band. The songs on this album are strong, and the album comes full circle with the closer Blue (featuring Patti Smith) that echos the opener Discoverer. Collapse Into Now is an album that allows R.E.M. to end their career on a high note.

Favourite Songs: Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter and Blue

7) Seeds - Hey Rosetta!

I am always very pleased when some little Canadian band that I discover randomly ends up garnering wide critical acclaim. I think I like the feeling that my tastes are validated, but moreover, I’m elated that they are experiencing such success. Just like with their debut, Hey Rosetta! earned a place on the Polaris Prize shortlist for their follow-up. The acclaim is well-deserved for this six-piece band from Newfoundland. Seeds opens with the bombastic eponymous track, and keeps up the pace for the duration of the album. One of my favourite songs on this album, Young Glass, just makes me think of Catcher in the Rye for some reason. I think it’s the shout out to Central Park that might do it. Random tidbit: Seeds is one of my favourite driving albums.

Favourite songs: Seeds and Young Glass

6) Hello Sadness - Los Campesinos!

For those of you who keep track of my year-end album lists (i.e. myself, that’s who I’m referring to... I have no delusions), you may remember that LC’s 2010 album Romance is Boring was my favourite album of that year. It’s quite impressive that this band is so prolific with two new albums in two years. Hello Sadness is a great album too; I think the reasons why it didn’t place as high as its predecessor is firstly that the “soundtrack of my life” factor always plays a part when I make these lists, and secondly, Hello Sadness is such a sad album. Of course, a sad LC album still means that you have insanely catchy songs, but the lyrics of this one make me feel sad. The fact that this album makes me feel so sad is a testament to how good this album really is.

Favourite songs: The Black Bird, The Dark Slope and Songs About Your Girlfriend

5) The Double Cross - Sloan

There are four reasons why this album made my list:

a) This album has THE BEST THREE FIRST SONGS of any album I’ve ever encountered. There is something about the trilogy of Follow the Leader/The Answer is You/Unkind that is EPIC. EPIC. The rest of the album is great too but those three songs are special and fit together perfectly.

b) This album is called The Double Cross in tribute to the fact that this is Sloan’s twentieth year as a band. (Double Cross = XX = 20, awww, they are clever!) For a band to rock this hard after twenty years is epic.

c) The three Jay Ferguson songs on The Double Cross (The Answer Was You, Green Gardens, Cold Montreal, and Beverley Terrace) melt my little heart. Jay is my favourite.

Favourite songs: The first three, of course

4) Metal Meets - Ohbijou

I loved this album so much that I bought at least four copies of it as Christmas presents since I like to support local bands. The sound on Metal Meets is big with beautiful strings, bass, keyboards and vocals. One of my favourite moments of 2011 was seeing Ohbijou perform songs from this album in a tiny record store.

Favourite songs: Niagara and Sligo

3) Oh Fortune - Dan Mangan

This is another album that I purchased multiple copies of as Christmas presents. Dan Mangan has cemented himself as one of Canada’s emerging singer/songwriting talents with his previous album, the Polaris Prize long-listed Nice, Nice, Very Nice, and with its strong follow-up. Dan’s songs continue to be evocative, and after seeing him live, I love how he surrounds himself with wonderful musicians who help bring his songs to life.

Favourite songs: About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All and Post-War Blues

2) Bon Iver - Bon Iver

I decided not to pay attention to Bon Iver’s previous album For Emma, Forever Ago because that's what I sometimes do with albums that get a lot of hype. However, when this album came out, I decided to check it out, and I fell in love. It’s one of those albums where each song just washes over you. It’s best listened to all in one go, and makes the perfect background music for a rainy night in while reading. One of my favourite moments of this year was seeing Bon Iver perform this album live.

Favourite songs: Holocene and Perth

1) Metals - Feist

This album is 2011 for me. I was highly anticipating this album ever since Feist mentioned last year that she was going to start working on a follow-up to The Reminder. Of course, as with any highly-anticipated follow-up to an excellent album, you wonder, will the artist be able to do it?

And, of course, Ms. Leslie Feist did. How did she do it? On her own terms, of course. She continued to collaborate with her friends, and instead of gearing this album to the pop-friendly audience she might have garnered with The Reminder, she went a bit dark and away from the mainstream with Metals. And it works wonderfully.

I love the variety of songs that this album has. The opener, The Bad in Each Other, sounds dark and powerful, and includes great background vocals from Bry Webb. Things start off quiet on the second track, The Graveyard, but quickly turn into a sing along during the chorus. Later on in the album A Commotion turns a broken heart into a wonderful cacophony. Even though some songs are complex, there are some quieter simple moments such as the song Bittersweet Melodies. The album ends with the lovely Get it Wrong, Get It Right where Feist ends the album singing “get it right, get it right” and she certainly did with this album.

Favourite songs: The Bad in Each Other and Caught A Long Wind


I came across this image on Jocelyn's blog, and it sums up a lot of good goals for the upcoming new year. I had to share it on here. I'll have to come back to it when the year's less new for some inspiration.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

So this is the new year.

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope your new year's eve and day were special.

Jason and I had a nice night in. He cooked risotto, I drank my favourite Beaujolais, and we watched part of The Royal Tenenbaums, the Louis CK Live at the Beacon Street Theatre Special, the ball drop in Times Square, and a couple episodes of Parks and Recreation. It was a nice night, and I'm rather glad that we didn't bother going out and having to face crowds, transit, cabs, etc. We do enough of that the rest of the year.

Today we also stayed in and watched an entire season of Parks and Rec. I love that show. Bring on season 4!

I was proud that this morning I had the motivation to get out of bed and go a run a fairly respectable 5K at the gym. I've been eating all the food over the holidays, and during the preceding week, so I feel a bit better that I've been compensating with a bit of exercise.

Of course, speaking of healthy eating and exercise, new year's brings with it the whole resolution thing. I like having goals, and I like to be realistic with them. Here are my three resolutions for the year.

1) Focus on eating healthy - I resolved to do this at the end of August actually, and was doing quite well up until December hit. However, starting January 9th, I'm going to revamp my eating habits. I'm going to ease in slowly this week, but I know I'll be still doing some celebratory social eating over the week, so I'm not going to be overly hardcore until next Monday.

I find that my biggest challenge is the vast amount of social eating that I do. However, when I plan for my nights out, and eat healthy during the week and when I'm at home, it gives me the opportunity to splurge once a week.

2) Continue exercising - This is really a re-commitment to all the running that I did in 2011. I'm quite happy that my current goal is to complete a 10K race in May, and I feel I'm well on my way to doing that. I'd also like to do another 5K in the spring to see by how much I can beat my personal best time. In addition to running, I'd like to incorporate more strength training and yoga into my fitness routine.

3) Get organized - My apartment, especially my bedroom, is really disorganized these days. I have to commit some time to organized and getting rid of stuff, and investing in some new things around my home.

In addition, when it comes to work, I have to get organized there as well. My desk isn't too bad these days, but I should take time to clear out my filing cabinet. Of course, there is always the issue of keeping on top of my marking too, which helps me feel more organized.

Hopefully this week, I can work on my resolutions by doing some exercise each day, eating at least two healthy meals, cutting back on snacks, completely one housework chore each day, and marking one set of assignments. Sounds like a lot but I'll feel better if I can get a head start on some things before school goes back.

Happy new year to you all! Good luck to you if you have any resolutions.