Tag: 2019


The Body: A Guide for Occupants (2019) by Bill Bryson

Please note: I am a big fan of Bill Bryson as a writer, I eat up basically anything he writes. So I’m perhaps a little to predisposed to like this. I had to take biology in high school because it was a mandatory part of the curriculum where I lived at the time. I hated …

2019, Movies

Knives Out (2019, Rian Johnson)

For someone like me, there are few things more pleasing than a really well-done genre film. But genre conventions can be pretty tired, so that one thing that is more pleasing than that, is a genre crossover that really works. For me, comedy is often the most reliable genre to mashup. (I am a big …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Republic of Lies (2019, Anna Merlan)

This is a survey of contemporary American conspiracy theories and the extent to which some of them can be found in mouths of the powerful in America. It is well-written, engaging and sometimes quite funny. But if you’ve read anything about American conspiracy theories before, there isn’t much new here.

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up (2019, Dave Meslin)

Full disclosure: I live in Toronto. I have met the author, Dave Meslin, at least once and possibly up to three times. Moreover, I used to volunteer for a group he founded (but no longer ran when I was a volunteer). So that both makes me likely biased in favour of his ideas and part …

2019, Personal

On Trying to Publish My Fourth Book

I published my first book in 2011. I worked for five years on it and made a lot of stupid decisions, particularly with regard to the publisher. But in the next couple years I pumped out two other books, on some kind of crazy roll. All three were basically self-published, though my first book was …

2019, Music

Turandot live at the Four Seasons Centre October 27, 2019

I’ve seen a number of operas in my life, but I’ve listened to far more on CD or digitally. This is the first time, that I can recall that I have seen an opera I’ve listened to much ahead of time or at least, one I’ve listened to as many times as Turandot. So this …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Returns From Vietnam Day 21: Friday October 11, 2019 The Longest Day

In my mind, I had it that our flight was in the early afternoon. But it was in the morning. So we had to wake up early in Hanoi for the first time since we got to this hotel. It was a good thing because a large, inevitably noisy, Chinese family had joined us on …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 20: Hanoi Thursday October 10, 2019

In addition to the buffet this morning I had some pho. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the best. My general experience with the Vietnamese food at these buffets is that it isn’t as good as on the street, but I was still very glad it was an option.

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 19: Hanoi Wednesday October 9, 2019

For some reason I wrote that breakfast wasn’t as good today. I think it must have been the non-buffet part of it. This might have been the day I ordered French Toast, which wasn’t good. (Also, no maple syrup or peanut butter. Sad face emoji.)

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 18: Hanoi Tuesday October 8, 2019

The hotel we were staying at in Hanoi was very, very nice, though perhaps not quite as nice as its “sister” hotel that we stayed at before the Ha Long cruise. But the one weird thing about it was that our room had no windows. Technically there was a window, but it was to an …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 16: Ha Long Bay Sunday October 16, 2019

I think this is as good a time as ever to mention that the A/C in hotels in Vietnam is totally insane. Each room has its own, just like here, only the temperature on the A/C appears to have no relation to the temperature in the room. (This was particularly true in the first hotel …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 15: Ha Long Bay Saturday October 5, 2019

We woke up super early this morning but apparently not early enough. As we were getting ready we were told that our ride was there. But before that we had the breakfast buffet, which was smaller but the staff at this hotel were extremely attentive, more so than basically any hotel I’ve ever been to …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 14: Ninh Binh and Hanoi Friday October 4, 2019

Despite the lack of a duvet and a hard mattress – or maybe because of the hard mattress – I had perhaps my best sleep of the trip so far.

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 12: Hue Wednesday October 2, 2019

Breakfast this morning was a cross between a buffet and a meal, as they prepared food for you but there was also a continental-style buffet. If I didn’t mention before, this was among the nicest hotels we stayed at, the only thing wrong with it being there was no pool. It certainly had the best …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 10: Hoi An Monday September 30, 2019

The night before was the first night I slept through the night. This past night I slept through the night again. With just one dose of the medication I already started to feel better, which could have something to do with the fact that I was taking three pills, two of which (at minimum) would …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 9: Hoi An Sunday September 29, 2019

If I didn’t mention it, our hotel in Cambodia was one of only two we stayed at which didn’t have a breakfast buffet, though I just ate up that congee. Well this hotel had a pretty large buffet and it was once again quite good. One of the things we appreciated about the hotel breakfast …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 8: Riley Goes Back to Vietnam from Cambodia Saturday September 28, 2019

I might have slept even worse this night as I woke up at 2 or 3, I think, and never went back to sleep. Fortunately once again I was able to eat congee for breakfast, which seems like basically the best thing to eat when you don’t sleep and you have a cold.

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Cambodia Day 2 (Vietnam Trip Day 7): Angkor Wat Friday September 27, 2019

I slept horribly. I think I was up at 2 or 3 but I didn’t check. My cold was in full force by this point and I think I even worried I had a fever at some point. I didn’t manage to get back to sleep and I felt better once Jenn woke up, but …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 6: Riley Goes to Cambodia Thursday September 26

Our last day in Saigon, I have a note saying that the hotel buffet was really good. I guess I forgot because basically all the hotel buffets were really good.

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 4: Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday September 24, 2019

It all blends together at this point, but I know I didn’t sleep well during the night. This might have been the night I was up in the middle of the night for an hour or two but managed to get back to sleep. But the jet lag hit me hard over the next week …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley goes to Vietnam Day 3: Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City Monday September 23, 2019

We woke up early but not as early as we would on subsequent days. We went down to breakfast and found an elaborate breakfast buffet, which would become a theme of our trip, as only one hotel we stayed at wouldn’t have one. I had noodles as well because, in my jet lagged state, I …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon Sunday September 22, 2019

We landed in Hong Kong very early in the morning, just in time for sunrise. The Hong Kong airport is gigantic and also quite nice. Not a ton of stuff was open because it was so early, but at least we could walk around. And it’s all glass so the views on one side are …

2019, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Vietnam Day 1: Saturday September 21, 2019

We left on the last flight from the airport (or at least the terminal) for Friday, leaving at 1:45AM. I didn’t know flights were allowed to leave that late and on the way to my airport my mom and I had a conversation about how we thought there was a bylaw preventing flights from leaving …

2019, Movies

The Panama Papers (2018, Alex Winter)

This is a rather workmanlike documentary about the infamous “Panama Papers” which exposed a Panamanian bank’s tax evasion services for the super rich and for politicians. I watched it on a plane three weeks ago so I am not 100% sure of my comments.

2019, Movies

Avengers: Endgame (2019, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo)

Note: Due to the nature of this film – concluding this “phase” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and also its plot, it’s impossible to talk about it without heavy spoilers for the entire set of 20 odd movies, particularly Infinity War, as this is a direct sequel to that movie. You’ve been warned. (Of …