Monday, July 28, 2008

See Avenue Q!

Good grief, I can't believe that this blog is becoming an on-line Arts & Entertainment column. That having been said, I exhort everybody in Toronto to go see Avenue Q which I understand is opening at the Elgin Theatre tomorrow. As you can see, the puppets look a whole lot like those found on Sesame Street:
Be forewarned, though, what the puppets say and do is very, very adult indeed! I saw Avenue Q in New York back in 2004 shortly after it opened. I laughed my a** off! Normally, I hate musical theater with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. Not Avenue Q!

I can't believe that the show will be running in Toronto only until August 31. Buy your tickets now Torontonians! Don't miss Avenue Q!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heath Ledger's Canadian Connection

I saw The Dark Knight last week. LOVED IT! More accurately, I thought Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was outstanding in every respect. Yes, the Joker was menacing but what I liked about him was that he was hilarious! I was rolling around laughing at a lot of the Joker's lines (even when the rest of the theater was stone cold silent). And, as a libertarian, I actually found myself agreeing with most of the Joker's philosophical observations. Anyway, here's the Joker:

I'm definitely going to go see The Dark Knight again. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

I was extraordinarily saddened when I learned of Heath Ledger's death earlier this year. I enjoyed him in A Knight's Tale and The Patriot and was just blown away by his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Such a talented guy. Here's Heath looking normal:

I spent some time trying to find a "Canadian connection" for Heath. I knew that Brokeback Mountain was shot in Alberta. I dug deeper and learned that Heath attended the Toronto Film Festival in 2006 and that he shot a movie about Bob Dylan (which I haven't seen) in Montreal.

CTV news reported a story (which you can check out here where Heath revealed his feelings about Canada. Here is what he had to say: "I absolutely love it. I love the people, I love everything about it here. I don't know what it is about Australians and Canadians getting along so well but they do. It seems like there's the same sense of humour, very dry, and just a very modest society."

It's hard to believe he's gone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yankee Stadium

Yesterday's MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium got me thinking about my own visits to the place. I caught my first Yankee game there way back in May 1994 on my first visit to New York with a couple of buddies from law school. We sat at the front of the upper deck, two-thirds of the way from home plate to third base. This is sort of the view that we had, although we were closer to third base:

I can't remember who the Yankees were playing or what the score was. However, I do remember:

*the tenement buildings just beyond the stadium looking very foreboding (they look a lot better in the photo above than I remember them being)

*wanting ice cream and instead being served frozen yogurt in an upside down, mini-batting helmet emblazoned with the Yankee logo (I recall being absolutely stunned at how effete it was--"Frozen yogurt? In this tiny fu*king helmet? In the fu*king Bronx?" I remember saying to my friend Stuart)

*buying a very expensive Yankees shirt for my then girlfriend to sleep in (the clerk thought I was nuts--"Yo'ar a very nice boyfrien' ta spen' fitty daw-las on freakin' pajamas," she said with a laugh).

Of course, once I moved to New York, I attended a couple of Yankee games a year. Although I enjoyed every trip to Yankee Stadium, there really was something special about my first visit. I'm going to miss the place.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cultural Quiz

With the Fourth of July falling on a Friday, this past weekend was three days of Independence Day celebrations, fireworks, small U.S. flags and hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and baked beans.

During a rare quiet moment, I slunk away to check out the on-line version of The Globe & Mail to see what was going on in Canada. I stumbled upon a quiz testing knowledge of Canadian and American culture. If you haven't seen it, you can check it out here:

SPOILER ALERT! I'm about to discuss the quiz and some of the answers. Take the quiz yourself before proceeding.

I was pretty cocky going into the quiz. Working through the first ten questions about Canada, I found myself grateful for having actually stayed awake in my Constitutional Law class. It was tougher than I thought it would be. The second ten questions about the United States were easier.

How'd I do? Well, I scored 8/10 on the Canada section and 9/10 on the American section. My downfall? I got some arcane question about female Canadian authors wrong. I also blew both questions on women's suffrage. Now, you're no doubt expecting me to make a comment about women being given the right to vote, aren't you? I'm a brave guy but I'm not that brave!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

I hope you all are enjoying the celebration of Canada's 141st birthday. It's been more than a decade since I've spent Canada Day in Canada. Enough time has passed that I can declare my "Favorite Canada Day Ever." It's actually pretty easy--Canada Day 1988. I had just graduated from McGill and was working in Ottawa at the Department of External Affairs. My then girlfriend and a bunch of other McGill friends came down from Montreal. Following a day filled with hanging out in downtown Ottawa, we attended the Canada Day celebration on Parliament Hill. Once the speeches by the politicians were over, we enjoyed the free, outdoor concert by--wait for it--Bachman Turner Overdrive! Can you believe it? BTO! They were ancient then. Are any of those guys still alive?

About a week ago, the on-line version of The Globe & Mail began a feature asking readers to submit photos of their favorite places in Canada. At the risk of drawing hate-filled comments from people elsewhere in Canada, I have to say that Toronto is my favorite place in Canada. And it's not just because it was home for nine years, either. Toronto is a very scenic place. Check out the following photo that I took last July on my way back to the ferry terminal on Ward's Island.

Just to bring the story full circle, we were on Ward's Island last July for the wedding of one of my friends from McGill who was part of the group of us that attended that Canada Day 1988 BTO concert on Parliament Hill!

Once again, Happy Canada Day! And a slightly early "Happy First Anniversary" to my McGill friend who got married on Ward's Island.