December 15, 2013

Snow Falling on Condos

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart, let your road be clear
They said there'd be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell
The Christmas we get we deserve.

        - Greg Palmer

The first giant storm of winter has dumped a blanket of snow on Toronto and we are snuggling in our condo and watching corny Christmas movies (and loving it). 

I can't believe I have not posted since October. It's testament to how incredibly busy my fall has been. Now that the holidays are here I have time to take a breath and share some of our adventures over the past few weeks.

One of the nicest events we went to was the annual Lowe's Toronto Christmas Market in the historic Distillery District (see above picture). It was so fun to wander amongst the 19th century brick buildings and check out the vendors' booths, and enjoy Christmas music and a real sense of community and festive cheer.

We also took in the City of Craft, where Mark found a beautiful hand-made present for his mom.  We loved being able to check out local craftspeople showcasing their wares in a fun atmosphere. Despite the frigid temperatures we managed to get out and check out the Toronto Indie Arts Market, dedicated to  small presses, zines, chapbooks, poets, and comics. Mark made some great contacts and I purchased a wonderful anthology from Brick, Canada's finest literary magazine.

In other adventures,  I attended two lovely Queen's alumni events at the hip new Beverley Hotel and the magnificent Granite Club. We went to a book signing and met the Canadian horror writer Michael Rowe, and I attended an excellent speakers series on philanthropy presented by The Walrus Foundation that featured, among others, Margaret Atwood.

In gastronomy journeys, we checked out the new Italian bakery Forno Cultura, and new Italian wine bar, Cibo. I checked out the Drake Hotel's great new outpost  in the Financial District called Drake 150 for lunch with a client, and we had drinks at the stained glass infused Amsterdam Bicycle Club.

That's all I can think of for now. Up next is our annual Christmas family and friends tour. To all may I say leave your hearts, let your roads be clear.

October 12, 2013

Adventures in Chicagoland, Part 2

Since I was in sessions until 5pm my wanderings were mostly at night. While I was at the conference, Mark took in the Art Institute of Chicago on the first day and the Shedd Aquarium on the second. Here are some shots of our walkabout during the evenings.

Hard to get any more iconic than the Chicago Theatre (c. 1921)
Oriental Theatre (c. 1926)
View of the The Wrigley Building (c. 1924) from one of the bridges
Inside Pizano's, where we went for beer and classic deep dish pizza
Pizano's opened in 1991, inspired by the owner's father's place, opened in 1943
Chicago Water Tower (c. 1869)
The Pumping Station (c. 1866), now home to Lookingglass Theater Company
The grand entrance atrium of the Crate & Barrel on "The Magnificent Mile"
The largest Burberry store I have ever seen!
Looking up at the ceiling of Grand Lux Cafe
Intercontinental Chicago (c. 1929) and Tribune Tower (c. 1925)
Better view of the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower (c. 1925)
Stunning entrance to the Tribune Tower (c. 1925)
Detail of entrance to Wrigley Building (c. 1924)
The skyline from the Michigan Avenue Bridge (c. 1920)
Another great view of the Tribune Tower and Intercontinental Chicago.
The Art Institute of Chicago (c. 1893)
Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), opened in 1973
Willis Tower at dusk
Looking toward downtown from Brant Park

Adventures in Chicagoland, Part 1

I went to Chicago this week, to attend a conference, and Mark came along with me to play tourist. Thought I would share some photos of our visit, starting with our hotel: the grand Renaissance Blackstone, built in 1910.

Plaque at entrance to hotel

The foyer at the entrance to our hotel room
Looking down the main hallway of our room
The huge bed
View from the bed
View of Lake Michigan from one of our windows
View from another one of our windows
View of Hilton Chicago and Blackstone Hotel (right) from Brant Park
View of Blackstone Hotel from across the street

September 30, 2013

A Sort of Homecoming

While Queen's Homecoming is not taking place until October we happened to be in Kingston this past weekend to celebrate the 40th birthday of a dear friend. Since it's the 20th reunion of my class, Artsci'93, I I took the opportunity to stroll around my beloved alma mater.

It was one of those perfect Fall days, 20 degrees, with a sky that looked photo-shopped, the ivy was turning red as were many of the campus foliage, and the Rugby Gaels were demolishing a visiting team on Nixon Field. It looked like a movie set or a classic college catalogue. Here are some shots I took as we strolled around my old stomping grounds.

Theological Hall (1880)

Morgan Memorial Chapel, Theological Hall
Fleming Hall (1904)
Carruthers Hall (1890)
Ontario Hall (1903)
Grant Hall (1905)
Douglas Library (1924)
Detail, Ontario Hall (1903)
Goodes Hall (1892, addition 2002, addition 2012)

September 13, 2013

Biting down at The Beverley

For our anniversary last month we went to the restaurant inside the new The Beverley Hotel located on Queen Street West. I think it had been open for about a month when we dined in, which seemed to be perfect timing as we had a lovely experience and a mouth-watering meal.

My opening dish was hanger steak tartare and lobster carpaccio
Mark started with scallop and chinook
My main was a perfectly-cooked beef cheek with chanterelles and frites.
Mark's main dish was clams, lobster, chinook and scallops over corn veloute.

For dessert we shared house-made donuts.Mmmm...

September 9, 2013

Totally TIFF

So the juggernaut that is the Toronto International Film Festival is well underway and, given that my office is just four streets up from  main venues Bell Tiff Lightbox, Roy Thompson Hall, and Princess of Wales Theatre, I have been witnessing the chaos every day during my walk home.

I usually walk through David Pecault Square on my way to work and this morning around 8:20 I stopped along the fenced off VIP drop-off section to chat to some die-hard TIFF fans who had brought camping chairs to set in for the long-haul. Their goal today was to meet Ewan McGregor. They had met Brad Pitt the day before and said he was really sweet.

As for your truly, we had made out our top-5 "must see" films and were very pleased to score tickets to 2 of them. Our first showing is Tuesday night's Gala Presentation of Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ben Foster. The film is based around the 1944 murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr. Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg while Foster plays William S. Burroughs. Kammerer is played by Michael C. Hall ("Dexter").

Our second TIFF adventure will be on Saturday, when we will see a Special Presentation of Labor Day starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Directed by Jason Reitman ("Thank You for Smoking", "Juno", "Up in the Air"), the movie "centres on 13-year-old Henry (newcomer Gattlin Griffith) as he confronts the pangs of adolescence while struggling to care for his reclusive mother, Adele (Kate Winslet). On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and Adele encounter Frank (Josh Brolin), a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home. The events of this long weekend will shape each of them for the rest of their lives".

If you can't make it to TIFF, or don't have the time to stand in line to meet your favourite actors, you can head over to TIFF's Live Blog where they are posting as-it-happens pics from the events around the festival. 

August 26, 2013

Highlights from FanExpo 2013

The TARDIS appeared on a hill opposite the MTCC
The Batmobile from "Batman" (1989)
KITT from "Knight Rider"
An AT-ST from "Star Wars"
A Dalek from "Doctor Who"
Actor George Takei ("Star Trek")
Actor Norman Reedus ("The Walking Dead")
Actor David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff ("Knight Rider, "Baywatch")
Actress Linda Hamilton ("The Terminator", "Terminator 2")
Actor Zachary Quinto ("Star Trek", "Heroes")
R2D2 waiting for an elevator
Mark shaking the hand of his comic book artist hero Todd McFarlane.
Actor Sam Witwer ("Being Human", "Smallville")
A kid checks out the Lego version of Bag End.
Fan dressed up as Dark Helmet from "Spaceballs"