is a basic salon in my neighbourhood (St. Clair W.) that I've been to a few times now. The place is fairly reasonable, price-wise (sadly, reasonable for a women's haircut these days is about $50) and while it offers services a-plenty, the space itself feels slightly bare bones. They only ever seem to have or two staff members working at any given time, so when a friend of mine called recently in the hopes of having us get side-by-side manicures, Hair Play couldn't accommodate us.
But so what? The shop is small and they don't have many people on staff. It's not a big deal. I'm not high maintenance about such things. Besides, I have straight, easy-to-style hair. All I really want out of a salon is a decent stylist who listens and doesn't accidentally cut one side of my hair and inch shorter than the other side. (It's happened.) Hair Play has that. I have no problem at all with the cut I just got, even though I ended up paying $65 (including tax and tip) for something that wasn't exactly special. I am fine with that. Hair cuts are expensive. That's life in the big city.
Here's the thing that DID bother me, though. I had a gift certificate from a friend - a birthday present. Sadly, said gift certificate had expired. I suppose it's my fault for not visiting the salon sooner, but I feel that gift certificates SHOULDN'T expire, and before today, I'd though that in Canada it was ILLEGAL for them to expire.
I was wrong.
Hair Play refused to honour my expired gift certificate and it turns out, by law, they're allowed to do so. MOST gift certificates that have a set dollar value can't expire, as long as the business that issues them is still operational, but salon services are exempt from this law. Certificates for specific services and lessons are allowed to expire. I have no idea why.
I'm sorry, but I think this is totally sketchy and unethical. My friend gave the company money for a service they never rendered. She paid them for nothing. Hair Play is a small place, I'm sure they could have chosen to honour the certificate, expired or not, but they didn't. In addition, I realized that the date of expiration was less than a month after my friend bought the certificate to begin with. That's a really short period. I've never used a gift certificate immediately after receiving it. Never.
So both my previous haircuts were fine, as was the manicure I got about a year ago. The place is close by, so I was intending to become a regular, long-time customer, but after this gift certificate thing, I don't think I'll be going back. You'd think a small business would give a shit about this, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Sigh.
Hair Play Salon & Spa
638 St.Clair Avenue W.
Toronto, ON M6C 1A9
I know, I know. Soap operas... bleh. Right? I get it. I spent many many years pretending to hate soaps. I mean, they're just so ... tacky, right? So silly? So (dare I say) girly?
And we all know there's nothing more embarrassing and classless than the feminine, right?
Yeah, I'm exaggerating, but still. The truth about soaps in that their biggest crime is being "for women." Their story lines are often silly. The acting is exaggerated. Their plot lines ridiculous. Things that never happen in the real world happen regularly in a̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶m̶o̶v̶i̶e̶s̶ , I mean, h̶o̶r̶r̶o̶r̶ ̶f̶i̶l̶m̶s̶, I mean F̶a̶m̶i̶l̶y̶ ̶G̶u̶y̶. Oops! I mean SOAPS. (Enough with the sarcasm, right? I think I've made my point. A lot of things are silly, but things that are "for men" that are silly aren't panned in the same ways soaps are. Just something to think about.)
Anyway, I'm only two paragraphs in and I'm already way off topic.DID YOU HEAR THAT Agnes Nixon's two classic soaps - All My Children and One Life to Live - both cancelled in 2011, have been resurrected and will begin airing again TODAY!?
In Canada, you can watch on FX Canada right on TV. In the States, I think you have to watch online via Hulu. The shows have been reformatted and will now be 30 minutes each instead of a full hour. Tonnes of original cast members have returned (though not all), and in both cases, the shows will jump into the future (5 years in the case of AMC) and only about a year in the case of OLTL, rather than picking up where we left off back in 2011. Here's more from EW,
including some spoilers about the first episodes, which begin airing today. And here's a longer article
about how this all came about, plus an interview with Cady McClain.
I am strangely excited about this. I don't know why. It's not like I've pined since these soaps went off the air. That said, thanks to my mum (who watched a lot of soaps when she was a new immigrant to Canada in the late 70s and early 80s) before it was cancelled, I had watched All My Children, on and off, for more than 25 years. And yes, I often found it ridiculous. But it was also familiar and fun, a constant that I could count on during vacations and sick days. And since it went away, I have felt occasional pangs off loss. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, especially if I'm feeling sort of bummed, a familiar soap is strangely comforting.
Now, I know this isn't a real review. I haven't watched the first episode of the reboot yet (it comes on in less than 15 minutes and I'll be tuning in), but frankly, I don't know that a real review is necessary here. If you used to like either of these shows, I say it'll be worth it to tune in again. And if you hate soaps and always have, you'll hate the reboots as well, whether they're updated and polished up for modern audiences or not.
What I'm really excited about here is just the fact of it - the fact that these shows have returned from the dead. Isn't the internet wonderful? I mean, back in 2011, when ABC decided to pull out, despite a major outcry of dismay from the fans, I thought... "Well, that's to be expected. I get it." I'd already experienced favourites going off the air (My So-Called Life, for example) despite massive "save our show" campaigns run by fans. I'd come to believe outcry was a waste of time.
Remember in 2011 when fans of AMC and OLTO begged people like Oprah Winfrey to step in? Ops said no. Not enough people were home during the day anymore, she said. It wasn't financially viable. But Ops was wrong. And so was I. The old rules don't apply.
Arrested Development will return on Netfllix in less than a month. And my old friend All My Children returns today. The moral of this story is simply that you never know. And any self-respecting soap fan should be able to see just how appropriate that is. After all, soap characters come back from the dead all the time. Never lose hope.
UPDATE: I watched! It was ridiculous! And I LOVED IT. It was just like old times. Some of the acting (especially from one new young'un in particular) was decidedly awful, but I think that's part of the charm of a soap. There have always been a few less-than-talented performers (with pretty faces or hot bods) in the mix, and that's okay. The kid in question may improve with time and even if s/he doesn't, so what? My verdit: Old fans should return. They'll find the waters warm and familiar.
DOUBLE UPDATE: If anyone reading is from the States and doesn't know how to tune in online, watch this video by Cady McClain (AMC's "Dixie") as "Susie Homemaker." She'll fuckin' explain the whole thing. (Love her, by the way.)
FINAL UPDATE: Well, despite great ratings in the first two weeks both All My Children and One Life to Live have been cut back to just two eps a week (half hour eps, so that means only one hour of each show per week, total.) Thanks to the cut back, FX Canada has stopped airing both shows and has switched to reruns of 30 Rock instead. So, basically, this seems like a pretty massive failure of a comeback. Soaps were designed to be slow moving - to allow housewives to tune in when they could and to be able to miss episodes without falling too far behind. That format wåas one of the best things about it. I don't know what this new one hour a week format is going to be like, but it sure won't be a soap. High hopes, dashed dreams. We'll see how other fans take it, but I'm not holding my breath.
So when neighbourhood Italian place Filippo's
closed a few years back, I was seriously bummed. SERIOUSLY BUMMED. I kind of loved Filippo's. And I heard at the time that the location was going to be taken over be the people who owned The Rushton, a restaurant I'm not overly fond of, thanks to a few unpleasant experiences, just across the street. The rumours proved true and after a big reno, Catch
opened -- a high-end seafood joint promising "sustainable" choices. (I like the idea of sustainable seafood, of course, but skeptical of "sustainable" claims since the word seems to mean different things at different restaurants.) But enough about that. I didn't notice any issues with Catch's offerings from an environmental perspective.
The place is pretty pricey so Nate and I have only been a couple of times. The first time was last summer. I was a little disappointed. I'm not sure why. The food was good, but the prices felt too high on that occasion and I didn't love having to sit on a high stool (some tables are bar height for some reason). Maybe I was still lamenting the loss of Filippo's.
Then, we heard our food-expert friend James had been and that he'd loved it so we decided to give it another go. About a week ago, Nate and I popped in on our anniversary for the oysters I was craving. We had no reservation and the place was full, but they fit us in at the bar, which was fine (though we had to sit on those tall seats again).
Bottom line: Daaaaamn were those oysters good.
Now, if you know me, you know I'm freaking crazy about oysters and the fact that they're so expensive is one of the chief sadnesses of my life. (Clearly, I have a pretty good life, eh?)
I wrote about Biff's
not too long ago, just because of their relatively cheap bivalve offerings. (They have buck a shuck!) But on this particular trip to Catch, Nate and I resolved to splash out a little and accept the $3/each price that you see at most oyster places. (At Catch, you can get a half dozen slippery wonders for $18 or a doz for $36.). We were not disappointed. First of all, compared to almost all the oysters I've ever had, the ones we had at Catch were huge. Big mouthfuls. Almost too big.
We had a selection of three different kinds - some from Nova Scotia, some from Massachusetts and some from Washington state. All were very fresh. The Washington ones were less to my taste, being a little too... I dunno, meaty? I'm not sure. I still liked them, but they were my least favourite of the three options. With toppings like vinegar, salsa and horseradish etc., they were fine. The Massachusetts ones were lovely -- large and fresh tasting and the most salty of the bunch. The Nova Scotia ones were my overall favourite -- huge, not overly salty, and also a little sweet. Overall, the platter was excellent, and because the oysters were so big, I didn't mind the price tag. (Had the teeny little oysters we had at Biff's been $3 a piece, for example, I would have been pissed
Anyway, besides oysters, we also had four raw clams on the half shell ($2.50 each) which was probably a mistake. They were a sandy and it turns out neither of us is very keen on raw clam. Maybe baked, they would have been better. They felt thick/rubbery and crunchy (because of the sand) to me, and they were a bit fishy tasting, but I really think that's a personal thing rather than a fault of the restaurant. It was an experiment.
We had an appetizer of Haddock Croquettes with a Harissa Aioli for $9, which was good. Basically they were haddock balls, falafel-sized, on a little plate with the mayo-like aioli and some arugula. Decent size for the price. (Nate, who has a huge appetite, especially liked this.)
Finally, we had two signature drinks - Ceasars - which were $13 each (a little pricey) but they were also REALLY good. Each came with a freshly pickled olive, a round pickled onion, and a large smoked mussel on a skewer. I have to say, that smoked mussel was shockingly
good. It might even be the best smoked mussel I've ever had. For real. It had a light bacony taste, and it wasn't at all oily (like many smoked mussels). That mussel was amazing.
amazing or not, mussels look kinda gross up close
So, what else can I say? Catch has sort of won me over, at least for the oysters. It's basically the only seafood option for miles around, though, so I don't have another local joint to compare it to. It's expensive, but as a once-in-awhile sort of thing, worth it, I think.
744 St. Clair W.
Toronto, ON M6C 1B3
Have you heard of My Mad Fat Teenage Diary? It's an hour-long British TV show (a comedy/drama) that came out this past January starring Sharon Rooney. It's based on the book My Mad Fat Teenage Diary, which itself is based on the actual diaries of a person named Rae Earl. And you can watch it online for free via YouTube. Here's a link to the first episode:
The premise is simple: it's a first-person-focused show with plenty of voice-over explanations based on the angsty diaries of a teenage girl. That girl is 16 year old Rae. She's fat. She's living in a council house in chilly Stamford, Lincolnshire (or perhaps just a regular house - I'm actually not sure) and she's recovering from a recent mental health episode that left her living for a time in an in-patient facility. It's dark stuff, but its dealt with in a relatively light way.
I'm only a few episodes in, and there are many things about the show I like. In fact, I think it might be excellent. It's serious and sort of unsettling and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. My partner Nate seems to like it too, so I don't feel like it's strictly gendered either. It's especially nice to see a non-traditional lead carrying a show. Sharon Rooney is very good - extremely believable in her role as funny, mouthy Rae. The 90s setting is fun and the soundtrack is nostalgic and wonderful. If you were a teenager in the 90s, every song will be familiar (and many many songs are featured in every episode). And, perhaps most importantly, I think that the show means well. Focusing on a protagonist with mental health issues can be dicey, since such people are so often misrepresented, but I think this show is being produced by folks who genuinely want to shine a light on things we don't often hear about in a meaningful, thoughtful way.
Of course, the show also has it's problems. It might be triggering to some viewers, and those with mental health issues of their own might find it hard to watch as a result. Also, sadly, My Mad Fat Diary reinforces and repeats some bullshit stereotypes about body size. For instance, it regularly implies that Rae's junk food binge-eating habits have caused her to be fat. And okay, maybe that was the real Rae Earl's personal experience. The show IS based on her diary and it's hard to argue with someone's memories. Maybe when Earl was a teenager, she was fat because she binged on junk food. Fine. But the widely-held belief that all (or even most) fat people are fat because they binge eat garbage or eat more than straight-sized people is false and it needs challenging. And I don't think the show would have to subvert Earl's actual experience to do that. One simple solution (and I can think of 10, right off the top of my head) would be to introduce a different fat character who didn't have a binge eating issue, for example, or alternately, a thin person who did. But My Mad Fat Diaries fails to do anything like that (so far, anyway) and as a result, I think there are some problematic messages at work here.
Nonetheless, I am enjoying seeing Rae navigate turbulent teenage waters, and not only because her 90s era high school experience is so familiar. Being a teenager is just so hard. So heartbreaking. And so funny. This is a show that gets that and brings a lot of it to life. And while I'm disappointed with some aspects of the representation, there are things to look forward to. It looks like the writers are going to give Rae a romantic life that isn't limited to pairing her with an equally-weighted partner*, for one thing. So I'm going to keep watching. If you give it a try, tell me what you think.
Here are some links so you can watch My Mad Fat Diary online:Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3
Find the rest yourselves. What am I, a cable company? Geeze.
JK. Someone has uploaded all six of the first season's episodes here
. I'm not sure how long they'll remain up and the person who uploaded them probably didn't do it legally, so get crackin'!
P.S. The notion that the protagonists of love stories have to "match" is a major problem that is easily observed in popular culture, particularly on television. While we might be shown two racialized characters paired together romantically (who are not of the same race, for example, such as an asian woman and a black man) we almost never see one racialized character paired with a white character. (The only exception I can think of is the pairing of asian women with white men, which does happen sometimes. Alas, when it does, the man is usually painted as an old pervert while the asian woman is imagined as a disposable character -- often nameless -- a sex worker or a fetishization.) In the same vein, when a fat woman is given a romance on a show, it's almost inevitably with a fat man. Not always equally fat, but never straight-sized. Interestingly, thanks to deeply ingrained anti-feminist beliefs, this is not so when the gender dynamic is flipped. A thin wife with a fat husband is okay. It's practically standard to see such a relationship on television (see According to Jim, King of Queens, etc.). But a fat lady thin dude pairing? I've never seen such a thing except maybe as a joke (because it's sooooo funny, not). Have you?
It's been way too long since I've done a restaurant post, so today I thought I'd share a little about my recent experience at Prop
, an Italian pasta-type place on St. Clair west in Toronto.
As I say in the title, it's not bad. It opened in the neighbourhood a few years ago and seemed to thrive despite a relatively negative review from Joanne Kates
. It's still open and seems to have people in it regularly, so obviously, it's got something going for it. That said, my experience was a bit blah.
When Nate and I were there, we had the Grilled Sardines appetizer, which was well-reviewed, but which we both found to very fishy, which is usually a sign of less-than-fresh ingredients. That said, it's possible that sardines are just not our thing.
Next we had the Bucatini (with Pancetta and Spicy Tomato Sauce - $16) and the Spaghetti Nero (with Cuttlefish Ink and Squid - $18). Both were a little disappointing. Portions were a little undersized and tastes just so-so. It wasn't BAD, but neither option really lived up to my expectations. We had wine (by the glass) and our final bill landed somewhere around $100 before tip. That felt to me like a bit too much for such a casual bistro experience. (The restaurant calls itself a "caffe" after all.)
The space is minimal and a little cold, in my opinion and staffers slow to acknowledge patrons. (A lot of Yelp reviewers deem the service "rude.") All in all, it was a very mediocre experience. With some other great pasta options in the neighbourhood, I can't really understand why Prop hasn't had to step up its game in order to stay in business, but what do I know?
My advice is this: try it if you feel like it, but keep your expectations fairly low to avoid disappointment.
St Clair Ave W.
Toronto, ON, M6C 1B5
As a big-time consumer of design blogs and shelter magazines, I've been familiar with Angus & Company for awhile. Merch from the shop is constantly being featured in House and Home magazine, and the owner, Michael Angus, has an awesome apartment that's also been shown in the magazine and online. (I think it's upstairs from the shop.) Here's a video of Angus' apartment, toured for H&H online TV.
But familiar as I was, I'd never actually seen the store in person, which makes no sense since it's actually very close to me. (It's right at the corner of Christie St. and Dupont, here in Toronto, and I've passed it a million times.)
Finally, finally, a few weeks ago, I decided to go in. The experience was a little awkward, frankly. I was the only shopper there, and the staffer on hand was busy doing some cleaning (mopping, etc.) I felt a bit like I was intruding. Even so, I loved what I saw, even though a lot of it wasn't really my taste. (I like quirky, weird decor, and Angus & Co. stocks lots of traditional stuff.) Even so, everything I saw was beautiful. Here are some pictures from the shop's website
A sofa (and the shop all around)
A table top accessory (the gold tone foot) - only about $25
Orange lacquer boxes (which also come in white)
A display area in the shop. I believe nearly everything here is for sale, from the trays and dishes to the sofa to the sunburst mirror to the candlesticks to the vintage books.
I don't know that I'm going to become an Angus & Company regular or anything, but I'm glad I finally checked it out. It's great if you're looking for beautiful little decor pieces, especially if you like a classic or vintage vibe, but don't have the time or desire to hunt around traditionally cluttered antique/vintage shops. Everything at Angus & Co. is already perfectly curated, which is nice.
As I said, some stuff is pretty pricey (the real antiques, for example, light fixtures, furniture), but there are lots of affordable table top pieces, barware, glassware, etc. The website has plenty of it listed online, so you don't even need to visit the store to check it out in person.
Angus & Company: I think I recommend it.Angus & Company
647 Dupont St.
Toronto, ON M6G 1Z4
For years people have been telling me to check out Karen Found It, a small Toronto vintage boutique. And finally, a couple of months ago, I did. I wanted to blog about it at the time, but the shop's website always seemed to be down and I wanted to be able to link to it, so I delayed.
The truth is, my Karen Found It experience wasn't great. The shop was teeny, the wares were cool, but too pricey for my means, and the place just had a generally dusty and deserted vibe. And now I know why.
Karen Found It was/is closing. (In fact, it might be closed already.)
Today, I decided to finally sit down to write my review of the shop, and Googling for images led me to a Blog TO post, which was followed by the following comment from shop owner Karen Wilson:"We are closing KFI and are having a sale! Come by and find a bargain! No reasonable offer refused. Help us move our inventory! Thanks for your patronage over the last 6 years, it has been a good run. See you at the market somewhere, sometime soon.
This news made me sort of sad. As someone who's trying to make a go of a vintage shop herself
, it's a bummer to see one go under. I don't know why Karen decided to close her place. Her stuff was definitely cool, from hipster leather and vinyl bags, to funky old housewares, to jewellery made from vintage silver spoons (pieces she told me were made by her father, which is kinda cool). And after six years and so many people recommending it to me, I sort of expected the place to be thriving. Alas.
I feel like I missed the boat.
Anyway, RIP Karen Found It. I hope Karen keeps finding stuff, wherever she ends up next.
Okay, dudes. It's been too long since I've written a review, which makes no sense at all since Nate and I have been spending a fortune on take out and restaurants. (Folks with no kids: Does this ever happen to you? You just get into an "eating out" phase? Bad for the pocketbook, but good for the soul, I say.)
Anyway. Several weeks back we hit up a place we'd never been to before: Biff's Bistro
(an Oliver and Bonacini restaurant down on Front St.).
We went for one reason and one reason only: CHEAP OYSTERS. In fact, I think the oysters at Biff's may be the cheapest in the city. See, the restaurant runs this happy-hour-type oyster special that starts at 5 pm every night. Oysters on the half shell are only $1! Usually, they're $3. They come with basic toppings only - lemon wedges and horseradish, but frankly, that's good enough for me. Additional toppings may be available, but probably at a price. I didn't check. All I cared about were the oysters. Slippery, salty, wonderful oysters. Only $1 a piece. It was like a dream.
I don't know if you're aware of this, but $1/each is basically a wholesale oyster price. I'm not even kidding. I'm crazy for oysters lately. So crazy, I've been looking into trying to buy them wholesale for myself. So that Nate and I can have a feast of only oysters. (I don't know why I want to do this. I have just been craving oysters lately. I'm not preggo or anything, so who knows where this craving is coming from.)
Anyway, Nate and I headed to Biff's a little early, arriving at 5:30, which was smart, because they get a limited amount of oysters in each day, and they sell out fast. So if you want to take advantage of the $1 special, be early and order quick. When we were there, they'd sold out of their 700 oysters (which is the number they happened to get that day) before 7 pm.
Now, to be fair, these are not fancy oysters. The ones we had were perfectly fresh, but they were also on the small side. I think they were malpeques from PEI. Nothing wrong with that, but if you're a true oyster lover and want more variety and options, this isn't where to get 'em. This is where you get cheap oysters. And when you're eating something that usually costs $3 for less than a mouthful, you've got to compromise a little.
We ate three dozen and boy was I happy.
Anyway. Enough about the oysters. Here's the rest of Biff's dinner menu
Otherwise, Biff's was just so-so, in my opinion. Sitting on the patio (on one of the last warm evenings of the year) was nice. The french bistro vibe and outdoor furniture were nice too. In addition to the oysters, we had the Crispy Pig Ears and Rinds (shown above), which were sort of mediocre. The rinds seemed like the sort of stuff you could get in a bag from the supermarket, while the crispy ears were more chewy than crispy. Still, not bad. Nate also had an order of Steak Frites. Steak and fries and vegetables. For $26 (on top of what we already ordered), it was the cheapest hearty-looking thing on the menu, and since we were already splurging on the night out, we wanted to keep our costs down). It was fine, but nothing special. If not for the cheap oysters, it would have been a disappointing meal for the price.
Anyway, there's my review of Biff's. The oysters make it worth it. Everything else was ho-hum.
I watch a lot of TV. I LIKE to watch a lot of TV. Sue me, okay? I don't love much of what I see, but I keep watching nonetheless, giving new shows a chance each and every season, watching and waiting for that one gem of true goodness. (Something I can get behind as much as My So-Called Life, The Sopranos, The Wire, or The Walking Dead.) I watch and I watch and I watch, but likeable shows are few and far between, and really great shows practically don't exist. Also, more often than not, when I think a show has potential, it's cancelled before it can get off the ground. (This happened last season with The Playboy Club and Prime Suspect.) So, me saying I like a show is a little like saying "Hey, this show is probably going to be cancelled!" but nonetheless, I am going to give you my feelings on a few of 2012's new offerings. In the interests of levity and brevity, I'm going to keep my reviews short. Feel free to tell me if you disagree with my conclusions.
The Mindy Project
Considering how smart and funny Mindy Kaling is, this show is/was a huge disappointment. In fact, I hated it. (So, as I said above, it will probably be a hit.)
Personally, I think fat jokes, race jokes and misogynist stereotyping are base and not particularly funny under any circumstances, but I know I'm in the minority in that regard. Stupid, offensive humour is apparently HILARIOUS to most. And if you watched the first episode, but didn't even notice how offensive it was, then I guess you're part of the "most." This show's for you!
666 Park Avenue
I've only seen a couple of episodes, but I'm willing to give this show a chance.
It's heavy handed. If you've ever watched any supernatural-type stuff, 666 will feel familiar.
Expect devilish cliches including selling your soul, homages to The Shining, sexy sexy red dresses in a sea of black, ghostly apparitions that appear and disappear without warning, and surprise-based scares, designed to make you jump (but that are rarely scary enough to ACTUALLY make you jump.
I personally found it distracting and depressing to see the blond lead, Rachael Taylor touted as the show's sex-pot, particularly considering that when she's pictured in the aforementioned red dress, her entire rib cage is clearly visible beneath her skin. In Hollywood, emaciation is super-sexy (for women) and middle-aged bald men rule. Le sigh. But as I said, I'll give the show a chance.
Watching Dennis Quaid try to channel the goofy-faces of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones without any of the charm is a waste of my time, frankly.
There was some sort of murder in the first episode, and I'm sure Mr. Quaid is going to turn out to be a crack lady-murder-solver, but I just didn't care. Stopped watching after 25 minutes.
I feel like some network jerks got drunk one night and said "Hey, what if, like Criminal Minds and the Sopranos and Mad Men WERE ONE SHOW?" And that's what Vegas is supposed to be. Only with crap writing and no inspiration. Snore.
Nate and I have watched the first three episodes of this post-apocalyptical drama and so far, neither one of us is particularly impressed.
The basic premise doesn't bother me (a world with no more electricity) and the pull of actors who played popular characters on OTHER shows is strong Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring on Breaking Bad), for example, and Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet Burke on Lost). Nonetheless, this show feels way too dumbed down to really compel. Everything is made so obvious and that can be boring. Like, yeah yeah yeah, there's no more electricity and there's some sort of mystery to why there's no more electricity, but what else? Can I get somebody with a real-world problem to relate to up in here?
Revolution feels to me like a brightly-lit take off of The Walking Dead, except there are no zombies, so the stakes are way lower. Plus the lead girl is such a cookie-cutter nubile hottie -- a feisty (but whiny) teen/adult hybrid. You've seen her a million times before, and yes, she's still irritating. Maybe it'll get better. I don't know.
A military drama? Initially, I thought this show would be hateful.
Scott Speedman NOT on Felicity? Yuckeroony.
Nate and I tuned into this pilot after abandoning the stink-fest that was Vegas, so maybe I was primed to like anything better than that, but I felt like Last Resort had a moderately strong premiere.
The whole "Rah rah America! Nuclear power is terrifying!" thing doesn't really resonate with me, but I think this show has potential. Will watch at least a couple more episodes.
This is another one of those surprisingly-watchable dealies. Having seen the previews, I expected to have to suspend my disbelief, which primed me to be irritated. (I mean, women who weigh 90 lbs aren't capable of regularly lifting and working with fire-fighting equipment. Sorry. Unless they're super-powered, no. Just no. I know said women were cast because they're socially approved on the "attractiveness" scale, but they're not believable firefighters, thankyouverymuch.) Luckily, the show seems conscious of these issues (ie. the teeny women in question are EMTs, not firefighters! Crisis averted!) Anyway.
Chicago Fire has all the makings of a stinker: Think boring, tired premise. Men in uniform! In Chicago! With hard-rock man-boobs! (Check out the overly worked/photoshopped pecs in the promo shot, above.) Even so, I'm surprised to say that the pilot of Chicago Fire wasn't bad. The stakes were high and the plot deals with at least SOME real issues (including the death of a husband/friend, possible drug-dependency, gender relations, ego and competition in the workplace, etc.). I have no idea if it's going to be a good show (my guess is probably not), but the premiere was WAY more successful than many I've seen, so I think I'll give it a chance.
The Mob Doctor
Have attempted multiple episodes, but can't bring myself to develop much of a connection to this show, even though I remember liking Jordana Spiro (the lead) in previous roles.
The Mob Doctor is just another mainstream drama. Doctors, mobsters, stock characters and situations, totally predictable motivations.
It's the kind of thing you can tune into any night, and it feels familiar. Because it is. That's what you get with a show that is little more than another hospital/crime/family drama hybrid. It's not great. It's not even bad. It's just sort of meh. Something that could run for years without ever doing anything particularly impressive or offensive. It will never be great, but that doesn't mean it won't stay on the air.
Anyway! Make of my mini-reviews what you will, fellow boob-tubers. And like I said, feel free to disagree in the comments!
Back in February of last year, I did a little blog about a new kitchen boutique
that had recently opened in the St. Clair west neighbourhood of Toronto. Called Clay, the place had (as I put it) a "neat indie aesthetic" and that hasn't changed. It's still a very cute place, and it seems it's doing quite well. One of the owners got in touch awhile back asked me to pop in again to see how it had changed and grown over the past couple of years and I finally got around to it this week. My verdict: the shop is a success.
When I first wrote about Clay, I said that it felt a little sparse and very IKEA-y. Sparse is definitely no longer accurate. The store is now very well stocked -- not packed -- but there's plenty to see. It's definitely handy to have a place like this in the 'hood. I feel like I can shop for a wedding or for a last minute gift without going out of my favoured 5 block area, and that's big for me.
Clay is a place where you can get both big ticket items and small stuff. In other words, it's very option-friendly. For example, if you want to splurge, Clay has a good selection of Le Crueset:
At the same time, the shop stocks cool and quirky stuff like this adorable squirrel nut cracker, for about $26. (Push down on the tail and the mouth opens. Put the nut in the squirrels mouth and press down on the tail to crack. Fun! It was hard to resist buying this little guy.)
I also love that the shop has a warm, neighbourhood vibe. Since it's a neighbourhood store, that seems appropriate. Check out the mantle on the back wall:
Finally, check out this interesting line of cookware Clay has stocked:
A little research tells me that while this line looks new, it's actually been around since the early part of the 20th Century. Since the line is imported from France, a lot of the information about it is in French, so I can't tell you much more except that it seems super eco friendly and it can go from stovetop to oven, which is always handy. Maybe it'll be the next old-to-new boom like the aforementioned Le Crueset? Who knows. Clay is one of the only places I've EVER seen carrying it.
Anyway. Yay for Clay! That should be the title of this post. Having to go to a mall or a big box store makes me want to shoot myself in the face. It's places like Clay that let me avoid that sort of thing, and that's why I love it.
Congratulations, Clay. Keep on truckin'.