1987, Books, Non-Fiction, Society

The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (1987) by Simon Schama

I picked this book up because I thought Citizens was great, not because of any particular interest in this subject. That turns out to be a problem because Schama assumes a lot of knowledge on the part of the reader about Dutch political history and some knowledge Dutch cultural history. Fortunately, there’s the internet now. But that didn’t exist …

2018, TV

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (2018)

I am a huge fan of Larry Sanders. I think it’s one of the greatest shows in the history of television. But, outside of that, and having suffered through What Planet are You From? I really didn’t know a lot about Garry Shandling. I can tell you that this 4-hour-plus miniseries, made by one of …

2024, Music

Kronos Quartet Live at Koerner Hall Thursday May 9, 2024

I am somewhat familiar with the Kronos Quartet but more by reputation than actually knowing their music. I have heard a few of their recordings – particularly Tan Dun: Ghost Opera – but hardly very many, with many on my list that I’ve never been to. But when I saw they would be here, on …

2024, Music

Kamasi Washington at HISTORY Tuesday May 7, 2024

If I knew who saxophonist Kamasi Washington was before last night, I didn’t have a very good idea. I might have heard his name here and there but I absolutely did not know much at all about him and had to ask someone who he was. The show changed that. I will absolutely be seeking …

1986, Books

Travels in Hyperreality (1986) by Umberto Eco

This is a collection of what appear to be pieces primarily written for Italian newspapers. (However some of the pieces in the latter sections appear too academic for newspapers.) It is kind of scattershot, with pretty brief pieces and longer pieces, on all sorts of topics of concern to Italians in the 1970s and ’80s.

2024, Music

Dark Matter (2024) by Pearl Jam

I love the first 15 years of Pearl Jam’s career pretty damn unconditionally. Even albums I didn’t love on first listen (Yield, Riot Act), I now quite like. But I definitely do not feel the same way about the last 15 years. I have liked none of their last four albums remotely as much as …

2009, Movies

Which Way Home (2009, Rebecca Cammisa)

This is a heart-wrenching documentary about tweenage, teenage and child migrants trying to find their way by train to the United States from Central America because their parents cannot support them. It is extremely affecting and parts of it are hard to watch.

2022, Movies

My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022, Damon Thomas)

This is a messy horror comedy – messy in the sense of execution, not in terms of gore – that has some good ideas and good moments but is just not very good. I laughed enough I almost bumped up my rating but the problems are big enough I thought better of it. SPOILERS

2024, Theatre

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead Live at the CAA Theatre Toronto March 27, 2024

Something like 20 years ago, I watched the film version of this with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. I enjoyed at the time but was told by a friend, and many movie critics, that the play was better. I guess I sort of always wished to see it. Jenn saw that it was playing downtown …

1989, Movies

Road House (1989, Rowdy Herrington)

This is a goofy spin on the “drifter comes to a small town cleans up the town” subgenre of American film, only with an ’80s twist. The ’80s twist is that weird idea that there are “stars” in rote, blue-collar jobs. It’s a little bit like Cocktail where we’re supposed to believe that there are …

2024, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Los Angeles Day 5

We had to set the alarm, due to concerns over traffic. We got up, got dressed, packed, and then realized that the app that LAX’s website had recommended for us to use to book a cab to the airport had never booked the actual cab. It had registered the trip, but had not actually assigned …

2024, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to San Diego and Los Angeles Day 3

We discovered there was a café like two blocks away that had featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate so we headed over there for breakfast. We did not order that dish, given that it was absolutely a dessert and not a breakfast, but we did make good choices nonetheless. Jenn got biscuits and …

2024, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to San Diego and LA Day 2

In the morning, we went out for breakfast and found a great place only a few blocks away, Breakfast Company. Their menu looked amazing and I had trouble picking what to eat. Jenn had the chilaquiles and I had the shrimp enmoladas. (Both with poached eggs, because: breakfast.) They were both great. It’s the kind …

2024, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to San Diego and LA Day 1

In the first 40 years of my life, I went to California once, specifically to Anaheim, Los Angeles and Palm Springs. I went with my family and it wasn’t my favourite trip we ever took. Well, in the last year, I’ve now been to California twice. Last year we drove from Portland to San Francisco. …

2023, Movies

The Marvels (2023, Nia DaCosta)

There was a time when certain movies would be put in front of test audiences and feedback would be incorporated into the film, often against the creative team’s wishes. (This may still happen, I have no idea.) Those movies were “focus grouped to death” or what have you, where vague feedback from audience members was …

2022, Movies

Top Gun: Maverick (2022, Joseph Kosinski)

Full disclosure: a way of differentiating myself from other people, as a serious fan of movies, I would tell anyone who would listen that I thought Top Gun was a stupid, terrible movie. I’ve seen it all the way through only a couple of times but I’ve seen scenes from it more times than I …

1966, Movies

Tanín no Kao aka 他人の顔T (1966, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

Teshigahara has to be among the most interesting directors of the 1960s. Regardless of how effective I think this particular film is, it is weird and unlike basically anything else I’ve ever seen. And it’s so noticeably different from his first two fictional films, the mining crime, um, thriller Pitfall and the Sisyphean horror, Woman …

1962, Movies

Otoshiana aka おとし穴 (1962, Hiroshi Teshigahara)

This Japanese film opens with some of the most extreme scoring I think I’ve ever heard in a film. In the opening shots, as the man flees, there is only this piercing, low music, almost seemingly intended to sound like a dog’s bark. And then it drops away for the title card which features aggressively …

1934, Movies

Top Hat (1934, Mark Sandrich)

This is my first Astaire-Rogers film and I must say that, for such a famous, iconic Hollywood duo, I am a little mystified. I understand things change, and what was entertaining 90 years ago is not necessarily entertaining now. But I have watched a lot of films from the 1930s for someone my age (and …

2019, TV

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (2019)

I do not know Wu-Tang like many people (especially men) my age do. I have listened to exactly one album by the collective, and maybe three or four of the solo albums, all for my podcast. I am more familiar with the RZA from his soundtrack and occasional acting work. But I still knew very …

2023, Movies

Kelce (2023, Don Argott)

Full disclosure: I did not really know who Jason Kelce was. I knew he was the brother of Travis, something I found out only recently when I learned, through Jenn, about their podcast. (I only found out about Travis because of you know who.) I have long ago stopped paying attention to football and especially …