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“Reading is what? Fundamental!”, 2022 edition

Sunday, February 19th, 2023

Okay, my numbers were still down relative to my top years… but I managed more than a book every two weeks, and there were some long ones in there! I apologize for nothing! Ahem… please enjoy my reading list for 2022:

  1. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes, Jessica Pan
  2. Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart
  3. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
  4. The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles
  5. Superman Smashes the Klan, Gene Luen Yang (art by Guruhiru)
  6. Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, Amanda Montell
  7. Yearbook, Seth Rogen
  8. Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, Alexandra Robbins
  9. All’s Well, Mona Awad
  10. The Comic Hero’s Journey, Steve Kaplan (reread)
  11. The Secret to Superhuman Strength, Alison Bechdel
  12. New Teeth, Simon Rich
  13. Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of The Sopranos, Michael Imperioli & Steve Schirripa with Philip Lerman
  14. The Innocents, Michael Crummey
  15. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama, Bob Odenkirk
  16. Butter Honey Pig Bread, Francesca Ekwuyasi
  17. Hench, Natalie Zina Walschots
  18. The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, Les Payne and Tamara Payne
  19. Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel
  20. The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale: Finding the Formula for the Cost of Love, Haley McGee
  21. The Butterfly Revolution, William Butler (technically a re-read, but it had probably been about thirty years)
  22. The Topeka School, Ben Lerner
  23. How To Write One Song, Jeff Tweedy
  24. Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, James Andrew Miller (975 pages!)
  25. Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner
  26. I Met Death on the Avenue Road Bus, Samantha Albert
  27. A Star Called Henry, Roddy Doyle
  28. Seven Games: A Human History, Oliver Roeder
  29. Audience-ology: How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love, Kevin Goetz with Darlene Hayman
  30. People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present, Dara Horn
  31. Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory, Sarah Polley
  32. Hola Papi: How to Come Out In a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons, John Paul Brammer

2020 II (…or “2022”, if that was confusing…)

Sunday, February 19th, 2023

Every year I do this, I think it’s going to be the last. I’m almost certain the only person who ever looks at this is me, and I suspect most anyone else who might be looking would be doing it for nefarious purposes. Perhaps data-mining, perhaps to catch me in a lie of some sort, perhaps to laugh at my existence? It’s also a surprising amount of work, and I spend a lot of time thinking that if I’m going to spend this much time on a piece of writing, it should be a DIFFERENT piece of writing! A script, perhaps?!

But for three reasons I can think of, I keep coming back to it.

The existential: I’m here, damn it! I exist! And the world should know!

The practical: I’m paying for this website. And I’m not prepared to let it just disappear. And if it’s going to be here anyway, it should probably be up-to-date.

The romantic: I refer more to the romance of an artist’s life than the italicized romance… but in both cases, it’s nice to believe there’s someone out there reading this that I don’t know is reading it. Maybe just one person who it means something to. Even if that person won’t be reading it for years. In which case, I suppose, that person might even be me, Krapp’s Last Tape-style!

Sigh. Okay, guess I’m doing this. Here goes…



Yes, I was still tweeting. It was the style at the time. But that wasn’t all I was doing. At some point, I realized that I was entitled to more visual coverage through my health plan, so I got new contact lenses. Productive member of society here!

Our movie group gets together. I think. It’s in my calendar, at any rate.

In a sign of where we were as a society at this point, I’m able to successfully order a bunch of N95 masks and it feels like a real accomplishment. Speaking of “real accomplishments”, Wordle doesn’t really qualify, but like everyone else, I got into it.

Comedy Bar puts out a call for screenplays. I submit mine and never hear anything. Such is life… but if nothing else, I’m reminding myself here, just in case someone ever mentions having read it. Now, I won’t say “What? HOW?!”

In case you didn’t piece it together based on what you know about my sardonic wit, that last tweet was about Meatloaf dying. And since I’m in the world of pop culture, here’s my NBA All-Star ballot. (Time capsule!)

Some hometown bias, but I stand by it!

I watch an online chat with the creators of Yellowjackets, Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson. Thanks, VIFF! (Even though my writing dreams are getting pretty faded, I’m still a fan of writers and the process. Like a nerd.)

I have a dental appointment. Mostly mentioned because, if memory serves, this was at a point the pandemic was peaking once again, making every trip an adventure.

Okay, we’ve reached the first noteworthy event in what may be my most noteworthy achievement of 2022: my continued development as a cook. I’m still not great, don’t really have a feel for it, and certainly can’t improvise much. BUT I can follow a recipe, I know how to do basic ‘mise en place’, and the results are consistently edible-plus. Perhaps most importantly, it’s an activity I do with my mom, and frankly, it’s nice to see her engaged.

Our first major attempt of 2022 is chili, based on the Binging with Babisch recipe for Kevin’s chili from The Office. We make some substitutions, and it feels like it could’ve been better, but still, quite tasty!


I meet and go for a fairly lengthy walk with Clare, where we discuss possible projects we might pursue. Which is admittedly a little odd to do with someone you’re technically meeting for the first time, but such is a world with social media. (I was a big admirer of hers, and I guess she was at least vaguely familiar with me.) I note it here mostly because we came up with the germ of an idea that I think has potential, but we never really did anything with it. So, if it ever revives itself, I’ll want to know when that happened! (Later that month, I do make a Google doc where I flesh out my thinking on it a bit. So that much progress has been made.)

The Toronto Hershfields get our inheritance from Gabe, mostly of the keepsake variety, though mine is slightly practical. In addition to us all getting glasswork, I got a fretless bass, an effects board, and an amp with some muscle. The amp came with a note from Gabe taped on top asking people not to put their drinks on it (from a gig, I presume), and while it’s not necessarily the most profound message to remember someone by, I’ve of course left it in place. Using all three also feels like a nice tribute to his memory, in that I’m doing a thing that he did, and substantially worse than he did it.

How did that not get a like?!

I share my script with Jeremy L. It doesn’t grab him, but I’m very appreciative he took the time, and I feel cool for putting it further into the world. Though it does also start to feel like it might be time to move on to the NEXT screenplay…

I renew my membership at the tennis club. Clearly, the pandemic’s still happening at this point, but I’m willing to travel to get my game on. I want to live, damn it!

But not too much, clearly, because I was also doing Quordle daily.

And at the end of the month, another Food Trucks jam! I don’t know if they’re all noteworthy, but I mention this one because I finally thought to take a picture. Mind you, it’s a selfie done badly because I already had my bass on, and I also had to do it while we were warming up, because how the hell do you expect me to do it when we’re playing?! Still, photographic evidence!


Let the culinary adventures continue! We made what Mr. Burns would call (and thus, what I would call) a “meated loaf.” This one’s turkey-based. I also make my biggest culinary fuckup, and part of the paper from the ground turkey ends up in it. I mention this because hopefully it’s my low point… and also because it was still quite good! (Nice when the failures in life are partial!)

You can barely taste the paper!

I have a Zoom hangout with the Northern folks. This is late in the Zoom hangout era, and though I can’t say I miss them terribly (Zoom hangouts, that is), in a pinch, they’ll do.

Good news and bad news, and I’m going to give them in that order because while it’s worse narratively, it’s better emotionally. The good news is there’s a (relatively) good kind of leukemia. The bad news is my mom has it. My understanding is that you can live with it forever (well, not FOREVER, but… you know…), but it does have to be treated. And the medications take a long time to figure out, at least in terms of avoiding nausea. So yeah, fairly rough times. But we endure…

A movie night at Ian and Jen’s. Which, if memory serves, was fairly pandemic-bold for me. But even bolder: with my run still on the shelf, Matt starts a basketball run of his own at Eastminster United Church. And I get to go just as a player! And the relatively low ceiling makes it feel like a prison game… but very white collar, given our temperaments.

I get accepted into the GAP. (Not the store. A different thing.) I end up doing absolutely nothing with it, but I guess there’s something to be said for flirting with options. Beats my normal modus operandi of waiting for death… which I guess is basically what I’m doing now, but hey, I’m maybe thinking about things, back off! (And see next year, ‘cause you never know!)

Kind of odd that’s what I tweeted on the 29th, because on the 30th, I go to Second City for the first time in forever. Albeit with a mask on, despite clearly being one of the few to bother. But it was Natalie’s last show, and I wanted to pay tribute. Also pretty curious about the venue that now exists as Comedy Bar East or Comedy Bar Danforth, depending on who you ask. As it turns out, it seems pretty likely that Evan and Jen got COVID that night… but from the sub place they stopped at before!


I do one of my standard walks. But I decide to go THE OTHER WAY along the boardwalk. And that has made all the difference, etc.

I’m officially NOT a quarterfinalist in the TSL Free Screenplay Contest. I will say, screenplay rejection feels better when you’re not relying on it to live. Though maybe I take it TOO easily?

The Winston Churchill season opens. My tennis odyssey (re-)commences!

We don’t PASSOVER the opportunity to cook! Mom makes a matzo ball soup, and we make a sweet potato kugel. As I write this, I really wish I had both those things right now!

I have what I believe is my first tennis game of the season with Larry. (I’m working off my calendar eight or nine months later, folks!) I really don’t remember how it went, but I assume it was fun.

Jen has a couple of us who gave notes on our screenplay write a release. It feels very grown-up, and gives me hope that I might get a big-screen Special Thanks credit one day. Which I’d mostly be okay with… although I would think people who stumble upon my IMDb page now probably just think I left the business, so it might be odd if suddenly credits start appearing again. But them’s (admittedly hypothetical) good problems!


I take some Excel courses, and they are Excel-lent! Well, actually, I retained relatively little, but I’m pretty sure a lot of it would come back to me, and I still have the syllabi and cheat sheets and whatnot, so time well spent.

Dave comes to town and we hangout in Greenstein’s backyard with Mark also in attendance. It’s a hang that’s memorable to me because it’s one of the only times I’ve been in the bottom half for COVID-caution.  (And Dave lives in America, so he was obviously going to be the most cavalier!)

Google makes me sad…

And I resist the urge to make a VERY dark joke about the following tweet. (See if you can guess what it was going to be. For what it’s worth, it was strictly about the logic!)

And speaking of tweets…

We do brunch at Tom and Lindsay’s. Why don’t we do this every day? Well, I guess that’s impractical…for now…

Someone about to quit shares a text of the boss drunkenly shitting on me. Well, drunkenly shitting on a choice I made, at any rate. Happy to report my reaction was almost exclusively amusement!

More Marty at Cherry Beach!

Then another Food Trucks jam….

And then Ian’s annual BBQ! Always a good time, but this one means a little more because I’m seeing everyone so seldom these days!

I find a nice spot at Tommy Thompson Park. Especially if you don’t mind geese!

A big development for me at the end of this month: I start taking TENNIS LESSONS! Guess you’re never too old! (Or possibly you can be too old, but I’m not… or I am and don’t know it. Either way, it happens!) They’re group lessons, and it’s called “Attack Drills and the Art of Volleying” Finally, after all these years, I start going to the net. Not all the time, but a lot more, and when I do, I slightly know what I’m doing!

And to close out May, I have a fun text exchange with my downstairs neighbor Amanda. Because of the dark humor involved, I’m not going to share it. But suffice it to say, she’s Dutch, I’m Jewish, and I essentially live in her attic.


The Ontario election with the lowest voter turnout in history. Not only is the province becoming a shithole, there’s little or no hope it can be salvaged. But I digress…

More Excel learning! As Clay Davis would say, “Sheeeeeeeets!”

I play tennis with Andrew I. (That’s an initial, he’s not Andrew the First.) It’s especially noteworthy because unlike most years, we don’t just talk about playing more than once, we actually do it! Also, I think he’s the only one I kept score with (as of now, tennis is mostly for rallies), and I won… albeit with some generosity on my serve. (We counted “close enoughs”, which benefited me much more than it did him.)

Beware the Ides of June! I believe I had Churrasco for lunch, ordered JFL tickets, and enjoyed a movie night at Ian and Jen’s. (In my mind, All of Me holds up… but a few parts haven’t aged too well! Yikes!)

Food Trucks rehearsal, more tennis (including a veritable tennis tour with Isaac)… let’s hear it for summer!

Okay, time for another sad one. Guess I’m at that point of life. I attend (virtually) the memorial for Bryan Wade. I learned a lot from him, he boosted me well, and he’s the reason I’m a published playwright with productions from people I’ve never met. Nuff said, I suppose…

I reach a major milestone for the pandemic: I get back on the TTC for the first time. So go, me? It was also to get to my last tennis clinic session, which I followed with singles with Larry. So a couple hours of tennis, which I guess is the organic version of a COVID test?


July starts with a two-dog weekend! I get picked up by Larry (and Marty) and spend a little time at the house… then we go to a BBQ at Evan and Jen’s where we meet Kelly Kapawski!

Very cute, I’ll admit… but I’m staying loyal to Marty! HE’S A LITTLE ANGEL SENT FROM HEAVEN!

Anyway, this was also part of a hardcore tennis week, maybe my most thus far? Anyhoo, tennis with Larry on 1st, Rob on the 3rd, and Ian McD on the 7th!

I go to Jimmie Simpson Park for an Alanis Morrissette tribute band. Just thought you oughta know!

And one of those likes was Brent Butt. Thanks again, Liz!

Another year, another Fringe! I didn’t see much, and what I did see, I wore masks to.  But I supported the right people, starting with Isaac’s 1-Man No-Show (9th), Sketch T-Rex (followed by a roti and a walk to Jenny’s for the Bachelorette), and back to back (on the 14th) Jon Blair’s Clip Show & Devon and Connor’s Flight of the Ballooncaster. Efficient!

And having survived all that, I get a booster a few days later. Then we take Marty to Cherry Beach, where he’s both cute and petite!

And that night, I wrap up my Fringe with Aliya’s “Where You From, From?” As she was at one point a playwriting student of mine, I choose to give myself a very undeserved modicum of credit for her success!

Then the next night, a movie night at Ian and Jen’s (EEAAO, maybe?). And the next night, tennis with Greenstein. Who is this social fella?!

I return to homebody status, albeit not at my own home. I stay at the house with Janet and Marty while Evan and Larry are in Vancouver for Gabe’s Celebration of Life.

Towards the end of the month, tennis with Judy. Suffice it to say, in the years since we last played, she has improved substantially more than I have. But she plays down nicely enough to give us some long points, and it’s a hell of a workout. She also recommends a pro to me for lessons… which I mention because, hopefully, in 2023…

And keeping up the ‘friends from high school’ run, the boys gather at Sam’s on the 30th.


Another movie night at Robin’s. Independence Day! If there has even been a more popcorn movie…

A long overdue reunion, as one of my Vancouver cohort comes to town. I take Shaun on my patented (patent pending) Leslieville+ Brewpub Walking Tour, with stops at Radical Road, Slowhand Pizza, Avling, and Saulter Street Brewery. Good times abound!

Then it’s off to the cottage! Rest and relaxation and redundancy! The one bit of excitement was there was an incredible windstorm (at least), so I have to jump into the kayak and rescue many of the cushion from the Mitchells’ deck furniture, which are strewn all over the deck. Nice to have a LITTLE urgency to deal with, especially since by and large, it was nicely lazy!

Then the cottage ends. And I tweet this.

The next day, I talk to Christian B. about maybe doing a production of Chinese Coffee. Very shortly after that, I flake. And I feel bad about it. I mean, it wasn’t breaking a commitment or anything… but I suggested it and then immediately began to question it. It just feels like a huge project, and if we were to take that on, it would likely be my ONE project for awhile. Anyway, I mention it here because if we ever get back to it, it’ll be interesting to note the timeline. And also, because I have to decide (still) what I want my project (or projects) to be! Because while I probably can only choose one, it’s terrible if I end up choosing none!

Okay, moving on… but sort of speaking of which… the next day, I end up ordering running shoes and shorts online. It leads to one run, but maybe next/this year?

Another combined BBQ and movie night at Robin’s. We watch Commando… and I honestly can’t believe it took me that long to see Commando. Obviously, it stinks, but in the right way!

Mandy and I do some work in the front yard, then have some drinks in the backyard. It’s like attending Homeowner Fantasy Camp.

And the month ends with Evan and I starting work on a special project. More on that when we get to October, but for now…


The CNE Ghost Walk… which truth be told was for me more a walk around the CNE grounds with a little history and some fun conversation. No regrets, but it is does get me thinking about how I would do a ghost walk if I were in charge. Possibly more on that later… or it’s just one of those fleeting ideas.

The aforementioned second tennis date with Mr. I. happens. Though I don’t think he meant to, unless he’s playing 4-D Chess, a comment he makes messes up my serve. Humiliations galore… though, if memory serves, I still win, with thanks to our generous treatment of serves!

On the 13th, I have a nightmare about someone I’m no longer in touch with. If we should ever reconnect, this is my note to see if I was indeed registering a disturbance in the force… or if it was just a standard nightmare.

A major change and the biggest return to normalcy in the late pandemic (I still can’t bring myself to say “post-“): the Leo Baeck basketball run returns! Though being the “commissioner” is at times a bit of a headache, it’s my favorite run with some of my favorite people. If nothing else, it means I’m talking to people IRL at least once a week who aren’t my family… and in these end times, that’s something. Plus, basketball! (At this point, my skills seem to be in some decline, but I make a nice basket every now and then, and I do seem to get my fair share of rebounds, so not quite ready to retire just yet…)

Other things that get me out of the house: more Food Trucks and more tennis!

Around now, I also send a birthday greeting to someone I haven’t seen in a while. It’s not something I do very often anymore… but this one leads to things…

JFL Time! I kick things off with some of the free outdoor drag shows with Fionna. The big highlights for Drag Race fans would be Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change, though we also saw Tynomi Banks, Gisele Lullaby, Full Time Toddy (an unofficial introduction), and more.

After that, I move indoors with the comedy. (Still masking with the big crowds!) The headliners I see (with Evan and Jen) are Craig Ferguson, Laurie Kilmartin, Nick Thune, Mike Birbiglia, Marc Maron, Beth Stelling, and Ivan Decker!

Also somewhere in there is a Rosh Hashanah dinner and original cancelled plans. And that was September!


Settle in, everyone. October was a very eventful month. Possibly the most eventful month of my life. Major ups, major downs, and I won’t try to weigh them against each other, but will say it was a big month for pondering existence. Anyway…

Let’s start (as the month basically did) with Samantha’s unveiling, which was combined with the launch of her book. Obviously a lot of feelings there. Sad to think of the circumstances that brought us all together, but also some joy (mitigated, naturally) at being reunited with family after so much time apart. Also a bit of a transition time for masking, so it compounded the feeling that we’d been in dark times but were slowly emerging from them.

Also, I found out when they were read aloud as part of the book launch that I’d been included in the Acknowledgments section. And honestly, it hit me a little. My contribution was very early and minor, and it frankly hadn’t occurred to me with all the people who’d need to be thanked that I might make the cut. So the fact I did, I took as proof that sometimes, those moments that you hope will stick with people actually DO stick with people. And the person I was then remembering had at some point remembered me.

And the next night, I watched a horror movie. (The two aren’t related. But it’s funny to me.) At Robin’s, in the backyard, The Descent.  All of that is recommended, if you get the chance.

Then my parents’ FIFTIETH anniversary! After going all out for their fortieth, with the surprise party and the best family movie ever, Evan and I knew we were going to be hard-pressed to top ourselves. Also, times were still too pandemic for another party, which Mom also wouldn’t have enjoyed even if we were inclined. BUT we still managed to impress…

We made them a board game called Escape From Winnipeg, in which you have to move from Winnipeg to Toronto. And it could basically only be played by them. Full of trivia and quotes and family history! With a proper board and game cards! We also got those milestone certificates from the federal and provincial governments… and Evan had the fun idea that the winner would get the certificate from Justin Trudeau and the loser would get the one from Doug Ford! Politics!

But mostly memories. And oh yes/of course, we also got Chinese food. (New Sky, if you’re wondering.)

(Shame about that one little typo if you happen to see it, but still, pretty great stuff, right?!)

Anyway, shortly thereafter, I voted in the municipal election. Despite the overwhelming hopelessness that will soon be justified by the results. At least the anniversary night was a hit… and my stop at Sir Winston Churchill to use the bathroom led to this moderately humorous tweet. (Just the first one below. Though they both got important endorsements.)

I go for a walk with Ian and Marty in the ravine and quite unexpectedly bump into Chris and Laura and kids. Since this is a reunion I can never make happen through planning, it becomes an extended hangout. Watch out, Laura; something like that is going to happen again one of these years!

Dave is back in town, and I rope him (nicely) into playing doubles tennis against Peter Marks and Larry. The youths (relatively) win, then Dave and I retreat to Casa del Hershfield for awhile to hang out and make plans with the Northerners. While this is going on, Larry is dealing with some upsetting phone calls… and while I need to get involved shortly, I’m given permission to head out. So we all meet up at the Pour House, and in the last vestiges of the pandemic life, we do our drinking outside.

So, those phone calls. It turns out my Uncle Bobo is at death’s door, and if my dad wants to say his goodbyes, he needs to get there as soon as possible. Because we know he’ll need emotional support to get through that, it’s determined that I’ll go with him and Evan will move into the house. So I play my Wednesday basketball, cancel a date for Thursday, and that next morning, we fly to Vancouver.

I’m not going to get to into the details here. It feels macabre, and I’d just as soon not dwell on the end of my uncle’s life when we had so many good times together. He was quite a character (with all that comes with that), a big supporter, and the family’s foremost silly talker. I will say that he passed within half an hour of us arriving in his hospital room, so to the extent I believe someone can “give up the ghost”, I believe he did. That on some level, he waited for my dad to get there, and then left. Though it won’t get written and finalized and all that until we get back to Toronto (continuity error!), here’s his obituary, for as long as the link lasts.

At this point, we decided it made more sense to stay in Vancouver for a bit than to race home. Not that it would be a “vacation”, but there were things we could do to help that were done as easily there, and it’s not like either of us would be (more) productive at home.

That night, we went to Sfinaki for dinner… and though the name had escaped me, as we walked in the door, I recognized it as a place I had gone to with Bobo and the kids. So that was nice… synergy, I guess? And as we were leaving, I happened to be talking to Larry about triskaidekaphobia, and the hostess overheard us, and we got into a fairly long discussion with her and our waitress about it. (We spared her the details of our visit and described it as “visiting family.”) Just one of those funny details that’ll stick with me for a bit.

The next day was mostly dedicated to the administration of the thing: compiling email addresses and sending out the notifications. But knowing that the trip is going to be a lot of sitting around and eating (not to mention being sad), I do something for my and Larry’s sanity: I get on Google and find us a walk that’s near to the hotel we’re staying at. Though it ends up being nearly too much in terms of distance (for Larry, I’m a spring chicken!), we go to the Deer Lake Trails. It’s pretty great.

That night, we go with Zack to Rideau to do a small amount of cleaning out of the apartment and see if there’s anything we want to take. I mostly take books that I think will have sentimental value, and though I don’t take the majestic chickens (a regret, since I declined not wanting to overstep and then they ended up being thrown out), I do take chicken salt-and-pepper shakers, which also seems fitting. (And one of the books I took was “Cluck”, in case I need to be reminded of their significance.) Also, in case I can’t see them again in whatever location they end up in, check out that shell collection!

On the Saturday, having no more reason to stay in Burnaby, we move to the Blue Horizon Hotel. But we get there separately. Larry goes to shul with Sarah and her husband, and I spend some quality time with Vanessa and her wee one. It’s exactly what I need: time with a dear friend, in full thrive. (The kiddo is also, as we like to say, sweeter than Jewish wine.) Much of that afternoon is spent on correspondence and the like, and that evening, feeling the nostalgia , I take Larry to the Eatery. I mean, maybe you can’t go back in time, but there is something to be said for revisiting your old haunts. Especially the food ones, Remembrance of Things Past-style! It quickly becomes clear I did the right thing bringing him along, as it means I’m only the SECOND-oldest person there!  (And thankfully, they have a covered heated patio, so we get a diluted sense of ambiance, in terms of sounds and smells.) I continue my nostalgia with a longer-than-necessary walk (including a pass by my old place on 6th) that also includes the Burrard Bridge.

On Sunday, I meet Jason and Helena for brunch at Templeton, while Larry enjoys an IrvCo production. The timing is good, because brunch is very much needed, and we get to shock Ian and Robin during a fortuitously timed chat with pics such as this.

Our Tribute to Bobo tour of Vancouver adds a much-needed non-food-related stop: we walk through Stanley Park and go to the aquarium. I haven’t been there in years (if you ever Google yourself, Sharla, I believe you were still working there!), but it’s a good excursion, and it felt appropriate to see some very demonstrative turtles!

Then that night, dinner at Szechuan Chong Qing on Commercial. It’s honestly the most fitting ‘last Vancouver dinner’ imaginable under the circumstances. That place was really our home away from homes when I was in Vancouver, with Bobo, Zack, and Gabe gracing it more times than I could count. Not to reference Proust again so soon, but it really does bring back memories. Plus we’re there with Zack and the missus, plus Karp and Burton, so it’s a low-key memorial on top of that.  A good time, given the circumstances.

 (I also make plans with Ryan which fall through. That too is nostalgic! I still love that guy, though.)

Then on the Monday, we fly back. Highlights include taking the SkyTrain to the airport (when I left Vancouver, it was still at the “construction killing businesses” stage!) and nearly becoming the person on the airplane who goes viral for arguing with a steward. Seriously, though, I get that no one wants to check their baggage anymore, but you shouldn’t get to use the overhead if it’s nowhere near your seat! Okay, not going to rant, it’s too boring and hack… anyway, we get home. And I’m still apparently in something of a mood…

On the 22nd, I have a night with someone that’s wondrous and terrible and horrifying and intense… maybe let’s just go with “memorable”? Which works out… but not for this blog. A lot of the details are still locked in my head, but they don’t really feel like they’re entirely mine to share. So, sorry, readers who aren’t me, and readers who are me, retain what you will.

The next day, I get the bivalent booster at Walmart, and the day (well, night) after that, back to Robin’s, this time for Blood Quantum. Lives up to the hype! (I refer to the movie, but so far, so good with the booster.)

So this is less of a development than some of the ones that came before… but as of now, those are my last tweets. I still have the account, and on occasion, I lurk. (Sometimes for work.) But I no longer post or interact, i.e. no likes, no retweets, no comments. I realize it almost certainly makes no difference, and it’s possible certain future artistic endeavors will make me decide to return. But for now, it turns out I am susceptible to omission bias. OR I’m actually right that E**n M**k’s active encouragement of white nationalism and the accounts that spread it is substantively worse than when Twitter just didn’t do enough to combat it. Either way, I’m exercising the small amount of power I have. Sigh.

Then on the 30th, I attend the Parkdale Ghost Walk with Ian, Jen, Aaron, and Maddy. And it’s such an incredible trainwreck, you’d think it sprung from the head of Christopher Guest! (That’s a compliment to him, in case that was unclear.) Every choice is seemingly made in the moment and they’re all bizarre! But maybe that’s what I need to inspire me to make a ghost walk of my own: a low bar! We’ll see!

Anyhoo… told you it was a big month!


At long last, being a member of the Leslievillian Facebook group gives me some valuable information.

On the 6th, Isaac and I play tennis. I know I’ve been listing a lot of tennis games here, but I do think it’s interesting/worrisome that we managed an outdoor game in November. Sunny side of global warming, I suppose…

I also start a Mastodon account. I’m barely on it, and no one’s watching, but occasionally, when I have random thoughts that need to be put somewhere, I put ‘em there.

Larry takes an old friend to lunch, so I get my first visit from Marty! I take him for a walk, but he also spends time in my place, so while I would never take him away from his parents, his group, or his forever home, it’s nice to know he can spend time here without going crazy!

Another movie night at Robin’s, this time watching Weird. I’m sure it was pretty good regardless… but for whatever reason, that night, it feels like the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. And I was not stoned! (Slightly drunk, but like two or three beers, so that’s not it.)

I attempt to register for winter tennis through Jam Sports. It is sold out within seconds, so it doesn’t happen. But the WILL was there, so maybe next year…

We have a bit of a memorial for Bobo on Zoom. (Technically, I think it was the end of shiva, but de facto, if not de jure…) A lot of people show up, which is very nice to see.

In the ensuing days, another Food Trucks jam (looks like we got together more than I thought this year!), I download my Twitter archive (for whatever it’s worth), and at basketball, one of the baskets is stuck out of position, so we play a side-to-side game. For whatever reason, I excel, which makes me wonder if the thing that’s kept me from stardom this whole time is the orientation of the court?!

So this is where the part about Jon coming to town and the two of us going to see the Lemonheads was supposed to go. Only the concert was cancelled. And we only found out when we got there (after some drinking) and found no one in line, so we went up to the door and saw the littlest cancellation notice ever! AND my phone died, so my options to travel were somewhat limited. Thankfully, Jon is a delight to hang out with, so we just did more of that, eventually meeting up with Sam for an apartment reunion. (You were missed, Adrian!)

Then the next day, Faye’s bat mitzvah. Always amazes me that that’s a thing we do at 13, especially when it’s done well, as it was here. It’s also remarkable that we were sat at “the kids’ table” with the cousins… but we’re all actually grown-ups now! With that branch of the family, the generations are a little staggered, so I’m about halfway between the ages of them and their parents… but left to our own devices, and with no worry about sacrilege (we usually gather for high holidays), we all talked about, well, the grown-up stuff, and it was very neat. Turning point!

I get (most of) my GAP fee back. ‘Tis better to have hoped and lost hope, etc.?

Through my reading, I’m turned on to the site Backgammon Galaxy. I’m not on it all the time, but it’s pretty neat! (Though there are some things I’ll never unlearn, no matter how much it schools me.)

Jess and I have another one of our long-awaited drinking reunions, this time at Rorschach. A very good night, as – among other things – I have dating stories, which are always fun to pull apart with her.

And then the month ends (basically) with me dogsitting, and then playing tennis indoors at Chestnut Hill DRC with Evan. A perk of suburbia!


A reunion too long in the making, especially because of the pandemic: Gordo! We get down at Eastbound, with many flights of fancy… and for what it’s worth, my threat to give standup another try is now a pact. We gave ourselves to the end of 2023!

The next day, the Cedarvale-adjacent gather at Tom and Lindsay’s for mulled wine, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with fancy cheese. So sophistimicated!

I go for a long walk in the general vicinity of the AGO. (“A long time, AGO, we used to be friends…”, etc.) I find out the next day that the recipe I handed off was a hit!

I go for pho with Ian. The time is good, but the pho feels a little underwhelming. But because I suspect it’s just a bad night (with a weak broth), two nights later, I go AGAIN for pho, this time with Fionna. After a one-woman show called Popped Out. It’s a bit better (the pho, that is), and also of course a nice night.

Between those nights of pho, I give a try to Daddy’s Chicken, a new addition to the neighborhood. My adventurousness is rewarded! Then, a few days later…

Burrito Monday! I get that this was an inside joke by my old director Matt Craig that I wasn’t really a part of… but damn, if there’s an EXCUSE to have a burrito, I’m not going to turn it down! This year’s selection was a large Spicy Pulled Pork Burrito from Burrito Bandidos!

There are a couple office parties I didn’t go to. I’ll spare you the extended rant, but work throwing a “lunchtime potluck” means, to me, “We don’t value you at all, but if you want to spend your own money to have your own party, we’ll let you use the space for a limited period of time.”  So yeah, not worth the time or money… though at some point, it’d be nice to get everyone back together and meet the pandemic “coworkers” who may not know I exist. Also, the parent company has a real party, but there’s a Secret Santa, and that doesn’t feel like it’d be fun with strangers, and also, meh.

I see Adam Bailey’s The Truth! at the Deanne Taylor New Play Festival. A thought-provoker… and also nice to discover another indie theatre walking distance from my house.

A walk through Tommy Thompson Park. A discovery of the perfect spot to watch the planes coming in, especially if you want to play “Billy Bishop or 9/11?” for ages. A trip to Starbucks when all the more interesting coffee shops are closed. All the same, hands are warmed. A goodbye that turns out to be a longer goodbye than anticipated, based on upsetting phone calls the next day.


Being part of a Facebook group for Toronto tennis players pays off. (Admittedly, the payoff is in 2023, but the initial action happened here.) Someone posts that they have indoor tennis court time at UCC they’re looking to get rid of. So I take four dates in January and February. I will not be denied!

I’m pleased with my contribution to this Instagram exchange, and also with myself for having funny friends.

To end the year not alone, I make a move to my parents, just in time for Boxing Day dinner. We make spaghetti and brownies (separately). I also officially start my recipes binder; such a chef am I! The brownies make it to Ian and Jen’s a few days later, where we (including Tom and Lindsay) enjoy each other’s company and take in See How They Run. More importantly, I see Ian’s Christmas gift for Jen…


But even the immortal have to eat now and then. For the Hershfields’ last big cooking experiment of the year: an Irish Stew!

Larry and I thought it was pretty tasty; Mom (as is her wont these days) was underwhelmed.

Anyway, proving that, to me, it really is just another night, New Year’s is once again spent watching Dwayne Gretzky on a livestream, then toddling off to bed.

And that’s the year that was! Hoping that 2023 will be a little more light/photogenic, with a few more trips mixed in… but hey, however it works out, I don’t have anything to prove to you people!

Just kidding! Of course I do! Please come back and see how I’m doing! (Seriously, if you’re reading this without having just skipped to the end, I’m both grateful and impressed, not necessarily in that order.) Buh-bye!

The 2021 ‘short list’ (by my standards)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

When I try to think why I read so (relatively) little this year, I assume (just like I assumed in 2020) it’s because I didn’t have a commute. (And not just for most of the year, but ALL of the year!) So watching TV became more the default, and reading became more of a ‘going to sleep’ activity. That said, when I started thinking about this post late in the year, and looked at what I’d read, I pushed myself to knock off a few more so I could at least get to a nice, round number that looks intentional. So, without further ado, the TWENTY books I read in 2021. (And for what it’s worth, it may have been the weight of the times, but a number of them made me cry! So maybe it was a good year reading-wise in terms of QUALITY!)

  1. I Remember Nothing, and other reflections, Nora Ephron
  2. I Don’t Seem So Bright In a Well-Lit Room, Sean Browning
  3. Adventures in the Screen Trade, William Goldman
  4. You Shall Know Our Velocity!, Dave Eggers
  5. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely
  6. We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates
  7. Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film, Patton Oswalt
  8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
  9. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘n’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, Peter Biskind
  10. Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life, Christie Tate
  11. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab
  12. The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John
  13. Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funnier People Be Funnier, Alan Zweibel
  14. Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up & Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House, Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz
  15. Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam
  16. Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener
  17. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Maria Konnikova
  18. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth: Book One), N.K. Jemisin
  19. Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
  20. Hamnet & Judith, Maggie O’Farrell

2021. Nuff said?

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

I’m not going to lie: 2021 was not a good year. Now, normally, I might lie about this, try to brighten things up a little… but of course, it was a bad year for pretty much everyone. Especially those of us who took the pandemic seriously. And I may have taken it TOO seriously, at least relative to most people I know.

Now, I don’t particularly regret this. And as I write this, it’s never been more clear that the people who took it seriously are the grown-ups in the conversation. But what it does mean is the year is pretty short on trips, accomplishments, events, etc. And though none of them were COVID-related, as far as I know, it was a pretty bad year in terms of death.

I still have many blessings. I am aware. I’m just warning you in advance: I didn’t always track what I did, so this round-up is going to be a lot of random pictures and social media posts. Many of which got very little love, but I liked them, and hey, isn’t that what counts?! To that end, I’m also going to let most of them speak for themselves.

Okay, enough stalling. LET’S GO!


Oh, right. I was still doing Quarantine Frasier. And oh yeah, American democracy was crumbling!
A picture I took so I could send it to Evan and we could say “DANGER ZONE!”

Okay, we’ve made it to the point where I have a life event to share. Kind of. I attend a McGill virtual event, discussing A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order with author Judith Flanders. I have yet to read it, though I still want to, but it makes me feel I’m at least exercising my brain a smidge. Salon living!

A nice shout-out from Ian and Jen. Hooray for pandemic fame?

Guess I was feeling creative on the 25th… because I also attended a virtual open house for the graduate program at U of T Theatre. Don’t know where I’m going in life, or even where I can go, but I guess it’s something I’m still looking?

A good reminder that I have no idea what’s going to be popular. Mara Wilson even retweeted it!


I go to my parents’ for the Super Bowl. Which I mostly remember because they indulged me and ordered everything I needed to make loaded nachos, which Mom and I did together.

If nothing else, that was something I managed during the pandemic: partially because my folks do GoodFood/Chef’s Plate stuff when I’m over, and partially because I wanted to know I can in a pinch, I got more ambitious about cooking. So at some point, if there’s a party or some group who needs feeding, I know loaded nachos are within my capabilities.

Also in early February, I read a pilot Craig Brown wrote and give some notes on it. I mostly mention this here because he’s very funny and talented, so when it becomes a thing, I want proof that I was there on the ground floor. Well, outside looking through the window, but at ground level.

Okay, this is kind of a neat thing:

Yep. The AV Club profiled Quarantine Frasier, and I got a little singled out. For anyone who wants to read the article:

Moving on…

This was my first tweet after the article came out. Gotta capitalize on all that traffic!
This wasn’t actually posted anywhere until now. But sometimes, I just need a picture of that punum!

And just to give some indication that I spoke to people other than my parents, I’ll mention that the month ended with a Google Meet with my high school friends. That’s PANDEMIC social!


Okay, another month, another book talk. This time, put on by the Toronto Public Library, discussing Tamara Payne’s The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, moderated by Huda Hassan. Much like the last book talk I attended, I still haven’t read it over a year later, but I still intend to. (As you’ll see in my reading list post, I slowed down somewhat without a commute. But I assume I’m still well above average, so that’s something?)

Because of her interview with Oprah. And yes, I know she’s not a princess, but comedic license!

A friend of a friend wants to have an information chat with a “working writer.” I pretend to be one for the purposes of the call, and try not to feel too bad about myself after.

On the 15th, I explore two possible visions for my future: I get a consultation about having a wisdom tooth removed, and I attend an online lecture about working as a story coordinator. One of these possibilities comes to fruition before the year is up. Stay tuned!

I attend a virtual Sketchfest show. For anyone reading this, please do whatever you can to make Jon Blair a household name, because I don’t know what to do in a world where he isn’t.

Then a few days later, I attend another online lecture, this one entitled “How to Be a Great Writers’ Assistant and Script Coordinator.” Feels like I’m building towards something. Maybe. Then again, maybe I just like to think maybe someday I could? Ugh, me!

That day… was also Passover. There was a Zoom. Nice to see everyone, albeit virtually. It did make me hungry, though, as that group of people produces a Pavlovian response which will not be denied!

Remember that? With the canal?

And at the end of the month, I interview for a transcript proofreading freelance gig and get it! I only do it for a few months; even though I wasn’t going out much, adding an evening side hustle on top of a full-time job seemed a little much. Still, nice to work for a real company and get treated with respect for a bit!


The month opens with me sucking up some screenwriting inspiration: talks from Karen Walton, and Elan Mastai & Mina Shum. This may be more relevant later…

My parents get their first vaccines. (For COVID, not ever.) It is a big load-off, certainly when compared to them not having ANY vaccine. Though of course, it’s a sliding scale of anxiety.

Anna writes a very cool article about Lev. Do I have it in me to give MY parents a tribute like that some day? I’m not as gifted a writer, but maybe? At any rate, here it is:

I thought this one merited all the Facebook comments I could capture.

Okay, this is a bit of a hard turn. But it was in life too, so here goes: Samantha Albert passes away. She was the cool cousin who took an interest in me at an early age and made me feel more interesting to myself. It’s possible/likely she was just a really warm person, but I still felt special. Either way, I enjoyed her immensely, and as she took to writing, we had a bond within the family in recent years. Even though I/we saw it coming, still hard.

This is a sentence to act as a buffer between the previous paragraph and my return to nonsense.

As various age cohorts started to get vaccine-eligible. That’s the joke.

That last tweet had a little truth to it. This is when I get my first COVID vaccination shot. Despite all efforts by the province to make it as hard to book as possible, just a mad scramble by everyone for a modicum of immunity. At any rate, I got it. Around then, I also contribute to the Kickstarter for Kevin and Amber’s movie How to Ruin the Holidays. For some reason, I gave as much as I could without the reward of appearing in the credits, because at the time, I was being modest, I guess? But for whatever reason, I’m mentioning it here. Probably because they’re good people, and I expect it to be great!

I stand by this. Hard.


UBC Creative Writing’s Virtual Celebration! I see a few familiar faces, most notably Linda’s. She was one of my biggest mentors and champions, so that was nice, and hopefully we’ll find an IRL reason at some point. (If nothing else, I believe she started following me on Twitter, so she now gets gems like…)

Okay, that cooking thing continues with a gourmet (pronounced with a hard ‘t’) Mac and Cheese!

If memory serves, based on Snoop Dogg’s recipe?

The Minnesota Lynx season starts! Inspired by Mr. Szczepanek directly, and cabin fever indirectly, several of us pick WNBA teams to root for. So that we may trash-talk each other. Most of the trash-talking died down pretty quickly, but I got REALLY into this team! The Lynx and the Raptors are basically the only two teams where I can name their entire rosters, at least DURING the season. So, even post-pandemic, they’ve got me… at least until Toronto gets its OWN WNBA team, and honestly, what’s the hold-up?!

Dwayne Gretzky does a music marathon for the long weekend. It’s pretty freaking epic!

I make more food!

And though I get inundated with fake friend requests on social media constantly, this one strikes me as extra-funny, because it’s an algorithm trying to be Jewish!

With the weather so nice, I play some tennis with Isaac. (Can’t be sure if this was the start of my ‘non-family tennis’ season, but I did note it.) And I meet up for a catch-up with Diane at Greenwood Park, where she gives me a whole bunch of books and DVDs. Because that’s what I need! (Though in my defense, I did devour them pretty well.)


More tennis, now with puppies!

I have another Google Meet with my high school friends. But it’s summer, so backyard hangs are ALSO a thing again! Thanks to Robin for the hosting and Ian for the photography!

The thing I’m about to post is a little weird. But I’m doing it anyway. I rag on social media a lot, and my reasons are good. But every now and then, I realize that I’m getting to share my weird little thoughts with people. And on the day I took this, I happened to notice that some of the people who those thoughts are being shared with are among the greatest comedy minds I know. (This was a good streak, for sure. So, BEHOLD!)

It’s very possible I’m muted, or removed altogether by some of these people by now. BUT STILL!

Within a couple of days of each other, my parents and I all got our SECOND vaccine shots. Very muted celebrations, especially because it takes a couple weeks anyway, plus I’m pretty sure we continued avoiding everything we’d been avoiding. Still, some relief.

Unrelated to the above tweet, I’m going to share this picture of Larry, to commemorate him at his most shaggedy!

“It’s not his fault, Grandma! There was a pandemic!”

I reach the point where I talk to a lawyer. I’ll leave it at that.


Backyard fun at Tom and Lindsay’s, with Jenny also there. I think. This is in my calendar as “Cedervale crowd” and I know that this foursome met up at least once!

Then another night at Robin’s. Huzzah!

I had some time earlier discovered that Cherry Beach is a very pleasant (if not short) walk along a path from my place. So, after some polite encouragement, Larry and Marty make the trip, and I meet them there. It is truly an excellent dog park… and Marty is at least a VERY HANDSOME dog!

COVID was at a low ebb (SUMMER!), and I was feeling frisky. I go over to Ian and Jen’s… INDOORS, which was a big step for me. And I meet up with Jess and Matt at a COVERED patio, which is like being HALF-INDOORS, and near STRANGERS! Also, that last one was near Christie Pits, and though it was raining, I was early, so I walked by the basketball courts and noticed something I’d never noticed before:

Labyrinth! My labyrinth tour of Toronto just gained another spot.

Okay, another small perk of social media: the occasional celebrity encounter where I make writers I look up to laugh (well, maybe not, but I IMAGINE them laughing!):

Woo hoo!

Hey, so remember that teaser I gave before that probably wasn’t a teaser at all? Well, here’s where it pays off: I got a wisdom tooth removed.

Poor Man’s Ice Pack!

As a present, and in a blatant attempt to get our parents to sit outside more, the Hershfield boys purchase a bench/swing and set it up in their backyard. And yes, “Hershfield boys” includes Marty. (And if you ignore our chosen pronouns ever so briefly, Jen.)

My epic meetup month continues with Fionna at Christie Pits…

…and concludes with drinks on a St. Clair patio with Brad. (The work one, not the improv one.)


The tour of taking Marty on nice walks to bask in his enthusiasm and adventurous spirit takes us to Sunnybrook!

He’s so petite!

After threatening to for quite some time, Ivimey and I manage to play tennis. We left it too late in the season, so it ended up being a one-and-done for the year, but he’s in the rotation now!

A very nice article about my sister-in-law Jen comes out. Read it at your leisure:

Another meet-up with Fionna at Christie Pits, this time with her brood, and the Maple Leafs. (The baseball ones. If you know, you know.) I walked there from my place, and it’s a pretty epic trek, so I took some pictures:

Shortly thereafter, I do what is undoubtedly my coolest event of 2021: a table read for my first-ever feature-length screenplay! Now, to be clear, just a read to hear what it sounds like out loud, i.e. a prelude to rewriting, not production. But it still feels like a monumental achievement. And the people I got to do it are the most lovable people in the world, and to have us all around a table, as a bonus, was wonderful and also the closest I’d felt to normalcy in ages. My love again to Christian, Ian, Jen, Lindsay, Natalie, and Tom, all of whom I love, so I listed them in alphabetical order so I wouldn’t have to rank them! (As of this writing, the screenplay is still being worked on, but has also been put out into the world, so it’s still my beacon of hope. But that day, it REALLY felt like a miracle!)

AND this immediately preceded my other annual highlight, though this one is a staple: the trip to the cottage! So nice to get away from everything and just be. The tennis was great, the swimming was great, the company was great. (But don’t tell my family I said that.) Of course, since I wanted to escape my phone, there’s not much photographic evidence. But as expected, here are pictures of Marty, one en route to the cottage, and one about to be en route home.


So something good that got brought back from the cottage: Evan playing tennis! He’d putzed around with us before, a little, but this time, he got into it, and he and I kept playing back in the city. And we’re pretty well-matched! It’s certainly a lot of fun, and fingers crossed, it’ll stay “our thing.” (Well, one of them. And one of the ones that isn’t entirely reliant on Simpsons quotes.)

Then, after oh-so-many video visits, the high school gang FINALLY gets together for an IRL backyard beer session. It’s at Sam’s, and was on 9/11, lest we forget.

Hmmm. There’s a GAP in my memory here. Very strange. Well, hopefully, it’ll get filled sometime next year.

Okay, I’ll tell this next story with pictures. But it was kind of neat.

Neat, right? Also, I keep taking pictures of my television to capture Jeopardy moments. And I get a good one the next day!

The relevance of that one will, knock on wood, become clearer later. (In life, not in this post. Sorry!)

And the month ends with a visit from Uncleany. Which in pandemic times is a pretty big deal! (Oh, and Evan wanted attention for some reason.)


Okay, I’m going to share this picture, but I want to make two things clear. First, I was intentionally making a goofy face. Second, I get that the camera wasn’t really able to capture what I wanted it to in this instance. NEVERTHELESS, this was a pretty cool day: my first time playing tennis on CLAY!

You’re next, grass! (And just for aesthetic reasons, it’d be cool to play on red clay. Those pictures would tell a very clear story. Still!)

I get notes on my screenplay from Sean Garrity. Though I don’t live the writers’ fantasy of being told my script is perfect, and that to move a single comma would be like pissing on the Mona Lisa, the notes are helpful, and I do feel like a big boy getting notes from a bonafide hyphenate!

A movie night at Ian and Jen’s. Particularly notable for Aaron and Maddy being there, as the idea of social time with friends of friends (I mean, I like them a lot, but we never make our own plans) seems very foreign at this point.

Roughly ten days after the fact, I put myself on the waitlist for the club with the clay courts. Apparently, the wait is at least a decade… but maybe I’ll be able to afford it by then! Look at me, thinking like a vision board!

With Toronto experiencing miraculously warm weather, I play basketball for the first time in forever! Outdoors, with Matt and friends, in Regent Park! It is incredibly fun, and since I’m VAGUELY in the neighborhood and have energy to spare (AND feel like maybe I burned some calories), I make my way to Bolet’s for a burrito. It had been too long for ALL of that!

The Raptors are back! And Maker Pizza moves into the neighborhood! I celebrate by combining them! (Seriously, though, I don’t know what I did to be walking distance from so many incredible pizzerias… but I’m glad I get to use the Futurama line so often! (If you know, you know. Right, Tory?!))

And though if memory serves, it had probably JUST become too cold for this, we get in another movie night in Robin’s backyard. And since Ian meets up with me so we can walk over together and grab some beers (Rorshach!), I take him to one of the Leslieville highlights: the What We Do In The Shadows set!

Yet another opportunity to take a picture of Jeopardy! This one’s for Dave Pearce, as the pun the writers came up with is the same one we used for our Globehead vampire team!

Well, we were Full of Beans Anne Rice, but BASICALLY the same!

Time for Cherry Beach Redux!

And on Halloween:

Granted, it’s not the most Halloween of posts. But I very much want to see that production. Hell, I’d love to see even just one line of it!


The COVID picture is looking good enough that I get some of the figurative band back together. Figurative, because I’m talking basketball. Alas, our gym is still not available for rental, so we rejoin the TSSC fold (or whatever they’re calling themselves now.) It helped for my mental state that it was walking distance, albeit an hour’s walk. We go with the team name ‘Becky with the Good Handle’, and we mostly acquit ourselves all right. My scoring was low, but it was sort of like really good hockey scoring: basically one to three baskets a game, and all beauties! At any rate, it was PRETTY fun… but also makes me even more desperate to get my/our old run back!

There’s a dinner party for Jen’s birthday. SOPHISTIMICATED! But also, a baby step towards normalcy. Again. Kind of.

I get a flu shot. Which I never used to bother with. Maybe this culture war thing is real? Well, if it is, glad to be on the right side of it!

Unlike most of the food I’ve posted here, this one was a GoodFood selection. But nice to know that if the occasion demands it, I’m capable of making Sloppy Joes!

I get old friend Sarah Richardson (old friendship, not old person) to send me an academic article she wrote. I fully intend to read it at some point… but I’m putting it off, because I know it’ll make me feel stupid, and that’s a hard mood to plan for.


Okay, this is a sad one, and there’s no way to get around it: My cousin Gabe dies. The youngest of my first cousins, he had been sick before, but it was thought that he’d been successfully treated and was in remission, which he was, until he wasn’t. It’s obviously tragic, but I’m at least grateful he lived long enough to do many cool things: travel extensively, become a genuine artist, front a band, etc. I inherited from him a fretless bass, an effects pedal, and an amp, as well as some art work, all of which are in my living room. So suffice it to say, I think of him often, and imagine I will continue to whenever I’m rocking out with MY band! (Even if I can’t rock as well as he did… but I guess that’s also kind of a tribute?)

It’s also a reminder to hold your loved ones tight when you can… which I’m using as a segue to the next thing, which was Mom and I making latkes for the family.


This article comes out, debunking something we like to joke about with Winnipeg. I imagine we still will, regardless:

I wasn’t actually here for this. It was sent to me. But SO CUTE!

I eat a Slowhand Sourdough Pizza. I mention this because they’re hard to get! But quite tasty, if I do say so myself. Mind you, I have to order it several days in advance, and while I check the temperatures and see that they’re going to be reasonable, I don’t think to check the wind. (Not that I’m sure you can actually check that days in advance?) At any rate, my plans to grab the pie and eat it in the park are foiled by crazy winds, so I end up sitting on the steps to the side door of a church, mostly sheltered from the wind. So not IDEAL… but hey, tasty is tasty!

It’s the end of the month, and I’m off work, so I imagine I must have done a FEW fun things. But they didn’t make the calendar, and I’ve forgotten them, so I assume they were fairly low-key. Also, lest we forget, Omicron was going strong at this point, so I’m sure some more ambitious plans fell by the wayside. Still, I suspect there were walks with friends and the like. Just running out the clock!

And New Year’s is once again spent with the parents and Marty, watching Dwayne Gretzky through the series of tubes. I really hope next year, I can get away somewhere. Even if just to feel the sun on my face, and know I’m not here. But hey, year endured!

And to anyone who read this far: Congratulations! There will be no quiz!

2020: A Quarantine Reading List

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

I was a little surprised when I looked at this list that I actually read LESS this year than most recent years. I’m guessing it’s the subtraction of a commute? But it’s still one every two weeks – or “fortnight”, if you will – and I’m pretty sure that’s more than most people read. And that’s why I feel my glasses-and-beard combo are still justified. So, without further ado:

  1. Horror Stories: a memoir, Liz Phair
  2. The Revisionaries, A.R. Moxon
  3. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, Patrick Radden Keefe
  4. Famous Men Who Never Lived, K Chess
  5. The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal
  6. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
  7. Hocus Pocus, Kurt Vonnegut
  8. A Fiery Soul: The Life and Theatrical Times of John Hirsch, Fraidie Martz and Andrew Wilson
  9. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama
  10. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
  11. Seasonal Associate, Heike Geissler (translated by Katy Derbyshire)
  12. The Flintstones (Volumes 1 & 2), Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
  13. Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear, Carl Hiassen
  14. The 158-Pound Marriage, John Irving
  15. Trick Mirror: reflections on self-delusion, Jia Tolentino
  16. Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: a true (as told to me) story, Bess Kalb
  17. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Mark Russell & Mike Feehan
  18. 88 Names, Matt Ruff
  19. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  20. Ball Four: The Final Pitch, Jim Bouton
  21. The Yellow House, Sarah M. Broom
  22. The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe
  23. Mean Boy, Lynn Coady
  24. The Twenty-Seventh City, Jonathan Franzen
  25. The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff
  26. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, Vincent Lam

A year best forgotten, remembered

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

It’s pretty tempting not to do an entry for 2020. Especially since I do these posts after the fact, so they’re usually me reviewing my calendar and social media to find “the big events”… and this year basically didn’t have those. But I did live it, and SOME interesting things did happen. So I guess I’ll do a bit of an overview, then my standard month-by-month breakdown. Though this year will have a heavier emphasis on posts I made, even if no one else liked ’em… because it was a year when even having a thought I liked seemed like a monumental accomplishment!

Socially, no duh, it was a pretty light year. But there were some routines that developed that were key to my mental survival. As someone living alone, I was allowed to bubble with another household, which naturally ended up being my parents (and Marty.) So every now and then, I would go and stay there for awhile. And we also talked daily, often after Jeopardy, so we could see which of us got Final Jeopardy right.

I also had two weekly standing ‘watch’ appointments. One was Bachelor/Bachelorette with Jenny and Lindsay (and occasionally Tom.) They were Messenger chats, but I’m pretty sure I could hear their voices… and of course, it was the only thing that made those shows tolerable. (And even then, just barely.) There was also a Thursday Night Movie Night with Robin, Ian, and Jason, which by the end had screens synced up (thanks, Robin!) and Google Meet for our running commentaries, which were, of course, the point.

Besides that, there were the random calls, which were in some ways harder because there was less to say. And basically monthly Google Meet meet-ups with my high school friends. I also got to know my housemates a little, which was nice (and silly not to have happened earlier); hopefully, more backyard hangouts in the After Times.

As for things I learned, well, I don’t want to call this pandemic any kind of learning opportunity. But I did learn a few things. One of them was Python, and I got pretty good for a beginner… but then I completely got out of the habit of doing it. That said, I liked it, and expect if I try to learn it AGAIN, it’ll go faster and further. As for food preparation, I wouldn’t say I LEARNED to cook… but I kind of did. I certainly did a lot more of it, and now use the inside of the oven, not just the burners! Plus, I’ve got a tuna casserole that I would actually serve to other people (in a pinch), and thanks to my parents and Chef’s Plate, I know that I can follow simple recipes.

And work… still work. Mind you, WFH has been great and actually a better process for all involved… so I’m certain it’ll be ended as soon as safely possible, if not before. Given that I was almost forced to return several times in early- and mid-pandemic, this seems like a safe assumption. But that’s 2021’s problem…

ANYHOO… let’s get to it, shall we?


The first event in my calendar for the year seems to be a night at Mom’s Basement (the bar, not my mom’s basement.) That sounds right. It would have been with Ian, Jason, and Robin, I assume? It’s a night out over a year ago, and those all seem very far away.

I have brunch with Jess at the 3 Speed. If memory serves, she was living right, so we didn’t drink… and I ended up messing myself up thoroughly by having more coffee (not decaf) than I have in decades. Moral: stick to drinking.

Then near the end of the month, PK and Seiler have their going-away party, and I want to go but don’t, because I’m not great with parties. Oh, if I knew then what I know now! Well, actually, I still might have felt the same, but I’d feel even worse for not sucking it up.

I get a raise at work. So I’m less underpaid.


Pete and I have plans to see Parasite. But because of work, he had to stand me up. Since I already had the tickets, I went on my own. And it was pretty great… especially in retrospect, since I didn’t pass up the chance to see a movie in a theater. Also, since it was at the Varsity, I used the opportunity to pool several of the Indigo gift cards I’ve accumulated over the years and pick up a nice bound version of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy.” So if I ever need to be sworn in for something, I’ve got that.

I go see ‘Nour Hadidi and friends’ at Comedy Bar (in the cabaret space.) One of those friends is Mark Little. They’re funny… as were the other friends, of course. Should I have done standup in the Before Times? Hard to say… but really think I should in the After Times.

Speaking of Before Times, I go to the theater (!) with Mom. We see Caroline, or Change. Quite good… though it may have fallen short of expectations, as the last Tony Kushner I’d seen was Angels in America on Broadway. (Is that a brag?!)

With negotiations having started in January, my group of McGill friends decides that we’ll have our twenty-year reunion on August 1st. Ha ha, suckers!

We make a trip to see Jen do standup at Tallboys. Good times, as she’s clearly impressive… but this is also part of my ramping up to trying it again that of course didn’t happen. Still, a room I’d want to return to.

I go see the Second City revue. I enjoyed it, and though my performing friends might be dwindling in number, the ones I have still plugging away are good. I don’t realize it at the time, but it would be the last time I’d be in that theater, which has since been destroyed. While it wasn’t my most important stage, I did have some memorable moments there (auditions especially), and it did always make me feel connected to something bigger when I strode upon it. (I can’t remember any sets in particular… but I must have got SOME laughs up there!)

The high school gang gets together for a dinner at Patois. PROBABLY my last group excursion to a restaurant for the year?

The next day, I go skating for the first time in forever. I am bad, as muscles I used to have don’t seem to exist anymore. Also, my skates are in desperate need of sharpening. I choose to believe I could get it back, with time.

(Pretty sure this one was about Elizabeth Warren. The important thing is I was bitter, as I was through much of 2020.)

There’s a jam with Boris Mortz. (That’s me, Evan, Peter, Jamie, and this time, Ariel.) Always fun to jam!

And I go see Jason do standup at Hirut Hoot. Part of my ‘building courage’ tour. He’s good, and I have Ethiopian food again for the first time in years. That’s also good.


I get an email from a high school teacher in Richmond Hill. Turns out there’s going to be yet another production of Courting! Though of course it gets cancelled, so that’s a way the pandemic cost me money?

I go with Larry to see Knives Out. It was great… and the last movie I would see in theaters for the year.

Sketchfest happens. Right around the time we all realize our world’s going to be shutting down for awhile. But the festival basically makes it through intact (I think American troupes scheduled for the end didn’t make it), and I saw some good stuff:

  • Mark & Andy
  • Lusty Mannequins
  • Whisky Kids / Beggar’s Canyon
  • Anders Yates / Jon Blair
  • Erica Gellert / Girl Brain
  • Peter ‘N Chris
  • Cam Wyllie / Jordan Armstrong
  • Not Oasis / Sex T-Rex
  • Flying Solo
  • Dead Parents Society
  • The Weight of It All (Gillian Bartolucci)

Food Trucks has a jam. We rock. Do YOU like Food Trucks?

…and now, we enter the panic times.

So at this point, not being able to travel or see people, but wanting to maintain some sense of normalcy, I walk to the beach.

Art! Well, that’s done… back to Twitter!

Okay, this isn’t REALLY a digression from Twitter… but it’s at least a fun Twitter thing that’ll definitely be one of the few 2020 things I look back on fondly. Ian and Jen start the Quarantine Frasier account… and they let me contribute title cards! Here’s my first… and then some more:

A safe place for my ridiculous voice. But that didn’t stop me from posting silliness on my personal accounts.


There was a virtual seder in here… but just for shits and giggles, let’s do this month entirely in social media.

(when tweets about celebrities become celebrities themselves?)

PHEW! That was exhausting!


But let’s run it back anyway!

(Yes, this was Mothers’ Day.)
(Okay, I may keep track of when showrunners of shows I like like one of my tweets. Is that so weird?!)
(Okay, I may KEEP keeping track of it. Sue me! Actually, please don’t sue me…)
(Okay, so I may remember little exchanges that seem like near-sitcom dialogue. Stop judging already!)

I get this is an odd way to do a blog. Blame 2020!


Okay, I’ll try to mix in some actual happenings now with this heavy blend of social media. But it’s slim pickings. For instance, on the 7th, Jo officially pulls the plug on our McGill reunion. It’s funny looking back to think we waited this long, but at the time, no one knew how long this pandemic was going to last. Also, in what’s an interesting bit of trivia (that I’m taking Jo’s word on), this was twenty years to the day from our actual graduation ceremony! Yikes!

Anyway, here’s some more social media, reflecting the events of the time.

So not to make too hard a tonal switch, but June 23rd was an interesting day for me in two ways. First, Larry brought me what may have been my last Gandhi roti. It’s still a little unclear if what’s happening there is really no more than a name change… but I don’t need an excuse to enjoy a chicken tikka masala roti!

And the other thing? Well, I never miss the opportunity to share when a hero retweets me! And though this may not TECHNICALLY be a retweet of ME, I’m counting it!

If I had a Firefly wallet (and I really should), I would print this up and carry it around with me always. Thank you, Liz!

Okay, quick return to politics…

Then, on the 26th, the Hershfields do something that’s been approved of but still makes me a little nervous: the socially distanced visit/picnic. I probably worry too much about handwashing.. and opt for playing with the dog over eating pizza, since it didn’t seem like I could really do both. But it’s nice to all be together again. (And they came to me, so I could do it as a lunch break!)

Then on the 29th, a dental appointment. Which I mostly mention because I refused to take a rideshare or the TTC… so I walked from Leslieville to Yonge and St. Clair for the appointment, and then from there to my folks’ place. Proving that I can still walk long distances when I have to! (Not sure this is a “skill”… but it’s a thing?)


No longer able to explore Toronto in the social way, e.g. bars and restaurants, I look for the occasional nature excursion. One that I read about that sounded nice was Glen Stewart Park/Ravine, a nice little oasis from the urban jungle that also happens to be a reasonable distance from me. Though it would have been nice to share with someone (what are you going to do?), I enjoyed it fine. I also took a bunch of pictures, but I figure one will probably suffice.

With the pandemic being at a seemingly low ebb, we do a few more family picnics, and I pick up a library book or two. Basically, my policy is not to go inside any buildings but my apartment. So the library’s switch to curbside pickup for holds allows me to do that. (And as for groceries, I’ve been ordering them and having them brought to the parking lot since April.) But my policy of not having anyone into my apartment has to end because my bedroom ceiling develops a major leak.

Thankfully, it wasn’t over my bed. But it was in my closet, so it was a major pain waiting a few weeks for it to be fixed. But all’s well that ends well? Anyway…

Though I don’t really get into the whole Zoom show thing (they are barely a bandaid), I do catch a few decent ones. I see Rosebud Baker do standup (workshopping new material, but I enjoyed). And I watch the Happy Endings reunion, and once again miss that show. In anticipation of games to come, and bored, I order actual proper tennis shoes online (thanks, Merchant of Tennis!), and the month ends with a socially distanced BBQ at Robin’s. It ALMOST feels normal!


I, along with thousands of other Canadians, submit to the Netflix Virtual Pitch. I’ll spare you the suspense: it goes nowhere (for me.) But good to be in the game?

I put in a big order at Rorshach Brewery, so we’ll have fancy beers for the cottage. (They have a pickup window, so my ‘not indoors’ rule, which I otherwise only broke to pick up fancy cupcakes one time, is intact.) I decide to take a winding path… and “discover” Maple Leaf Forever Park, a hidden little treasure of the neighborhood.

Then to my parents’ and from there, to the cottage. Not to keep harping on it, but the first buildings I’ve been inside (other than the one I live in) since March. And with people I can hug, no less! Good times at the cottage, of course: meals, tennis, swimming, etc. Here’s one tweet I made when Kamala Harris got her nomination… and one picture that I won’t explain, because MAYBE it’ll make sense somewhere down the line. (Though you might also figure out the visual pun all on your own…)


I join the Green Party to support Dr. Courtney Howard’s campaign. Though she didn’t end up winning the nomination, IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT THAT, AND I’M GLAD I DID IT, ‘KAY??

(Though I would probably guess this because of the year, when I look back, these soup jokes were related to something asinine Trump said.)

So I’m going to let a screencap of the announcement post do the heavy lifting here… but this will turn out to be, with any luck, a significant turning point in my writing career. So take note!

Spoiler alert for the 2021 post: I wrote it! That of course may end up being the end of the story… but as I write this, I have a completed first draft. So thanks, Daniela, and thanks, me!

(taken on yet another epic walk to the dentist!)

I use a BikeShare and make it to my parents. I am endlessly impressed with myself… but not really, because parts that shouldn’t have nearly killed me. I choose to think it’s pandemic atrophy. I also drop off the bike at around Bathurst and Davenport, because that giant hill wasn’t happening. But it’s a nice walk from there, through Wychwood Park!

And towards the end of the month, I play tennis with Mark Little for the first time, at Jimmie Simpson Park. I just want to rally, but he’s inclined to play a game. So we do, and it definitely works out better for him. Then I watch him play some basketball with Matt and Erin (I’m a little more cautious and also exhausted), then we all have a socially distanced visit. Good times.

And last but not least, my baby bro turns 40! I help Larry make a little movie for him, and it’s very sweet. Anyway, hopefully a family trip to celebrate in the After Times.


I play tennis with Mark for a second time. And we agree to meet in Ramsden Park, as that’s much closer to the halfway point between us. I’m a little worried the walk will wear me out before we even start… but as it turns out, we have a long wait. And whether it’s that, or the cooler weather, I have a lot more energy, and it ends up being the most evenly matched game of tennis I’ve ever played. Mark took it 7-6 (5) in an ACTUAL TIEBREAKER… so that was fun. Sadly, the unseasonably warm weather dissipates and that’s it for the year. But bodes well for the After Times!

(Trump has COVID-19, and there’s a John Mulaney bit…)

Okay, now I’m going to show you a picture of a flower. But it’s only because it’s one I saw during one of my visits to the Leslie Street Spit, and days before, the film group had watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Donald Sutherland one)… and I’m pretty sure this was the same flower.

This next picture was sent to me; I wasn’t there for it. But it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and my current desktop wallpaper.

Food Trucks tries to do a long-distance jam (well, I’M distanced). It’s a bit of a gong show. But hey, worth the effort, and the reunion will be all that much the sweeter.


So… a little history was happening… (and though I didn’t talk about it here, obviously the plague that was Trump and Trumpism cast a heavy shadow over this year, and the ones before, and it’s not entirely gone… but this week was good.)

And I apparently was relieved enough to also post this on the 7th.

This may not seem worthy of mentioning… but it was a big thing for me. I order pickup for the first time in basically the whole year! It’s from Billy’s Burgers (which has a pickup window, so rule intact!), and it’s delicious! Also, in addition to my burger, I get a poutine, and that’s the life I’m supposed to be living, damn it!

And other things that happened that month: I took in a Zoom talk by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (back in the twenty-teens, he was the writer of a very famous teeeeee-vee show), I did a reading for someone’s screenplay (not sure how much I can say here?), and I saw this:


So I know this is bad to admit… but for some reason, I never mentally associate Cherry Street with Cherry Beach. So the day I went for a long walk, hit Cherry Street, and half-thought “I guess I’ll go south”, it pretty much didn’t occur to me that I was heading for Cherry Beach until I reached it. So that was lovely! And as a complete bonus, I checked my phone/map to look for an alternate route to get home… and discovered there’s a walking trail that takes you right to the foot of Leslie! Something to look forward to in months/years to come.

That was on a Sunday. And then the next day was Burrito Monday! And then the next day, more hope!


But that ends up not being the case. Someone at work gets the coronavirus (she’s fine now), so we basically shut down operations for the year. And though I still have to work, with hours more flexible, I decide to move to my parents’ for the very end of Hannukah, and am there until the end of the year.

Which, sadly, is why I’m not exactly there for this:

But there in spirit (and yes, in picture.) And funnily enough, the next day, I actually DO see a friend in person: I bump into Judy while walking Marty with Larry in High Park. No hug, because of the times… but so funny to have a bump-into in these times.

So… the holidays…

And as for New Year’s Eve, the Hershfields ended up watching Dwayne Gretzky’s livestream… for all FIVE HOURS, UNTIL 3 A.M. So don’t say we didn’t party in 2020!

Actually, you can.

Okay, one last picture of Marty for the road…

And the likely highlight of the year (that’s also being put here because I can’t entirely remember when it happened):

Year. Done.

Again with the reading: 2019

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

This year brought a long commute, which I was not (and am not) a fan of, but I will say, it did allow for some quality reading time. And of course, even time I wasn’t killing was sometimes spent reading, because, well, yay books!

Without further ado, here’s what I consumed (in order) in 2019:

  1. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Calypso, David Sedaris
  3. Becoming, Michelle Obama
  4. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  5. The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey, Rowan Ricardo Phillips
  6. The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, Leonard Mlodinow
  7. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, Bill Bryson
  8. The Comic Hero’s Journey, Steve Kaplan
  9. The Sopranos Sessions, Matt Zoller Seitz & Alan Sepinwall
  10. The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing, Merve Emre
  11. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, Lori Gottlieb
  12. The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times To Live, Heather B. Armstrong
  13. Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi
  14. Normal People, Sally Rooney
  15. Charlie Savage, Roddy Doyle
  16. I Love You, Nice To Meet You: A Guy and a Girl Give the Lowdown on Coupling Up, Lori Gottlieb and Kevin Bleyer
  17. Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories, Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  18. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide, Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
  19. Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner
  20. I Miss You When I Blink: Essays, Mary Laura Philpott
  21. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
  22. Educated, Tara Westover
  23. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
  24. The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth, Josh Levin
  25. Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell, Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
  26. Three Women, Lisa Taddeo
  27. The Friend, Sigrid Nunez
  28. Fleishman is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  29. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein
  30. Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results, Josh Gondelman
  31. Had It Coming: What’s Fair in the Age of #MeToo?, Robyn Doolittle
  32. Batman: The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
  33. Wanderers, Chuck Wendig
  34. Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark, Cecelia Watson
  35. Spider-Man: Life Story, Chip Zdarsky & Mark Bagley
  36. Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn
  37. It’s Garry Shandling’s Book, edited by Judd Apatow
  38. Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the ‘80s Changed Hollywood Forever, Nick de Semlyen

20, 19…

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

I’m not going to lie (particularly since I’m not sure anyone but me reads this): 2019 was not a great year for me. I feel like I spent much of it in a light-to-heavy funk. Partly because the world is burning, and the likelihood that my life will now end in some kind of camp seems to have gone up considerably. But on a more micro-level, several changes at work also combined to drain joy.

The move across the city added two hours of transit to my days, and the fact we moved from downtown to an industrial park upped the bleakness. Also, my best work friend went away, and the writing staff was reduced from three to two, meaning each day is a slog just to get through. Lastly, my fantasy that new owners would mean the obvious impediment(s) to improvement would be addressed proved idealistic; and while it’s nice I still have that muscle, it’s now bruised.

Long story short, I spent a lot of the year feeling tired. And so, it feels like there’s more I could’ve done.

That said, I still have many blessings, and I want to remind myself (and anyone else who might be reading) that not all of them will be recorded here. My weekly rituals include a family dinner on Sunday nights and basketball on Wednesday nights, and both bring me great comfort. Movie nights at Robin’s continue to happen with regularity, making me feel like I’ve got a “crew”, Food Trucks got together enough to make me feel I’ve got a “band”… and hey, bimonthly blood donation makes me feel like I’m putting good into the world.

But of course, the name of this game is highlights. So here are a few.


I feel like this first post of the year anticipated what was to come pretty well!

I joke, of course… but honestly, this Mensa calendar was a really great thing for me. (Thanks, Renee!) Even if it was just for five minutes a day, I got to feel smart… and that’s a good thing.

Evan and I go to see ‘A Kevin McDonald with an Evening’ at the Rivoli. He remains one of the most naturally funny people ever (Kevin, not Evan, who’s just okay), and he’s certainly got stories to tell. (The Shrink 2020!) And Bruce McCulloch opened for him, allowing me to make this post:

Huzzah for technicalities!

Okay, this is just a POSSIBLE preview of things to come. I still haven’t really decided. But I do make this joke, which I like:

A standup joke, perhaps?

Later that month, Evan and Jen take the family to see The Play That Goes Wrong. I think the moral is that when I tell people I don’t like farce, they should believe me and not argue that the one they have in mind is different. Still, a nice thing… and I did like the farce episode of Party Down, so I guess there is at least ONE exception!

And finally, a post no one much cared for, but I still feel there’s something there, and since it will continue to come up…


I take part in a genetic research study, where for a full day, every three hours I have blood drawn and have an MRI. I think I mostly did it for the experience and the story (even though the previous sentence is basically the story)… and the money helped.

Pete takes me to a DGC event where I learn all about Star Trek: Discovery. Neat!

Two tweets, one in which I get excited about something that turns out not to be a big deal, and one which I think is funny, regardless of its reception!

And later in the month, the Oscars. I believe I tied with Mom in the family pool and won the pool at work. I *work* in the industry! (I don’t really. It’s just a fun thing to say.)


Puns meet politics!

And since the world isn’t making me any less cynical…

After years of us all chanting it and only me having seen it, I invite a group of friends over to watch Barton Fink! (Simpsons’ fans will understand the chanting.) The movie is not the biggest hit (and as a writer, Ian may have felt a little targeted), but the night is a delight.

I play squash with Hillary, then a few days later with Evan. They’re my first squash games in forever. As I write this, I realize I wanted to play more, then didn’t. But hopefully I will!

A pretty low-key birthday. I assume, because I can’t actually remember. I guess it’s an important one in the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sense?


After months of making us wait, Toronto Pho opens around the corner from work. A very welcome addition… though this decorating choice evokes a dark laugh on the inside every time I see it…

I lose at March Madness once again, this time to a four-year-old. Which would be embarrassing enough, but he also beat us all when he was two.

I take this picture to commemorate the time I passed muster. (Yes, me dumb!)

I see Go on the big screen, possibly for the first time. Twentieth anniversary, so I guess I’m old?

I also see Jen do standup (for what I think was her first non-class show) at Dawn Patrol. Though I’m a little intimidated by how good she is right out of the gate, I start wondering if it’s something I should try. At this point, I’m still wondering… but I’ve also started compiling and organizing, so it’s more than speculation. Guess we’ll see what happens in next year’s post!

Passover happens. Details are lost to memory and lazy research, but this is kind of funny, right?

After years of having insurance and basically only using it for dental, I have an optometrist appointment. (This’ll pay off later. Kind of.)

And then late in the month, a bunch of nerds go to see Avengers: Endgame. I liked it… and them!

The Hershfield men catch Buddy Guy at Roy Thomson Hall. If anyone ever assumes based on the name that he’s a made-up blues man, well, now we can confidently say he exists!

Tim Burns is nice enough to meet for lunch and talk ‘the biz.’ Though my momentum feels largely stalled on that front, it’s always good to stoke the coals.


At long last, a mini-vacation. Evan and I spend a long weekend in Halifax/Dartmouth to celebrate Brad’s birthday. I don’t know what I would do if I moved there… but I can see the appeal. Anyway, here are a few pictures, one for the Archer fans and one for the medium-old-school SNL fans. (And yes, the party had a theme.)

Loose cannons! Also the party was at the Mic Mac AAC, which I mention mostly because it’s a very specific regional reference I will have to drop at some point.

Later, in the month, I go from visitor to host. First, there’s a McGill reunion when Sam Sewall swings through (always a good time). A few days later, Dave is in town, and I show off some Leslieville, including the Saulter Street Brewery and the Broadview Hotel rooftop bar. Classy!

Game of Thrones ends. I could rant some, but I’ll leave it at this:

Then Larry’s 70th. Because Grandma is in poor health, the big party is cancelled… but we will not deny ourselves schnitzel! Also we realize that since the price of a wiener schnitzel has been creeping up, the cost of a wooden platter for two is actually a little less than the cost of two schnitzels. I think you know where this is going…


Ian (the one from work) has his annual BBQ. Since the move, we rarely all hang out, so it’s a nice little refresher.

Having renewed my friendship with the lovely Jenny earlier in the year, I am invited to watch The Bachelorette with Tom, Lindsay, and her. Though I will have to repress my natural instinct to eeyore, it is fairly habit-forming, and a nice new ritual. (I mean, I check in and out, because you easily can until the end… but still, I am forever invested in Hannah and forever headshaking at Luke P.!)

Moving on…

Ian invites me to see Ghostbusters in Concert, with a ticket Jason couldn’t use. (Thanks to both!) We meet up for drinks beforehand, and I arrive first, which is when this happens.

But to be clear, the highlight is this:

Social media continues to be good and bad. But it does seem like I have some feelings about it…

Anyway, within a week of that, THE RAPTORS WIN IT ALL! I haven’t mentioned it, but obviously, I watch A LOT of basketball in the months leading up to this, and it’s all pretty glorious. My personal highlight from this all happens in December (Stay tuned!), but for now, I’ll just say this:


Also cause for celebration: Jason and I follow through on our plan for an East Toronto Brew Pub Crawl! I helped quite a bit, but most of the credit goes to him. With ESPECIAL credit for commissioning this incredible map/itinerary!

There’s actually a version with times on it and everything, but since that one includes his home address (where we had a Mortal Kombat tourney after breakfast and beers at Louis Cifer), this is the map I’m sharing. A very intoxicating day, and thanks to flights, dozens of beers are sampled! (Though I haven’t been back since, Rorshach blew my mind.)

Okay. Putting in a transition sentence between paragraphs, because sadly, near the end of the month…

My Grandma Vera passes away. At age 96, and following several years of mental decline, so very mixed feelings. Still, never easy to lose someone who you love and who loved you. She’s also my last grandparent, and while it’s crazy that I had one into my forties, I can’t help but realize the next losses will come from the next generation… and that’s very bracing. At any rate, I am reminded of her constantly, not just by our similarities, but by a little shrine to my life I have in my bedroom.

That’s my intramural hockey sweater (Go, Rez Dogs!), a bra that was a cast gift from the first play I directed, and a sweater my grandma knitted me. Though I’ve got some good years ahead of me, knock on wood, it reminds me I’ve had a life, and there’s been some love in it.


I see James live in concert. For some reason, it’s not as exuberant an experience as I was hoping for, but I do love that band and they’ve still got serious chops. Also, Sean is there with his daughter, and it’s her first concert, so that’s a pretty cool moment. That said, when the choice was between a ride or seeing the Psychedelic Furs finish their set, I pick the ride. So make of that what you will. At any rate…  James!

For her birthday (though not ON her birthday), Evan, Jen and I take Mom to the Science Centre to watch Superpower Dogs on IMAX. Though I do find myself distracted thinking about someone who used to work there, I focus enough to get reinforcement on our family’s wise decision to be dog people!

Fringe happens. I hope I saw more plays than I can remember (the years blend together!), but I know I saw the Lauras, because I remember thinking that was funny. Specifically, I saw Laura Anne Harris in Destiny, USA, and Laura Bailey in Clitoria. Both very good, and reminders of my fringe theatre glory!

Though I am not technically in a show, I DO get a black eye at basketball around then, and get to spend a few days pretending I’m in Fight Club.

Around that time, a visit from Becky! This was a long time coming, as we haven’t seen each other in YEARS, since my last visit to New York. (Where she no longer lives.) Though bad weather takes some of the shine off things, I drag her all over the city, and we talk and drink a bunch. She’s someone I’m very glad to know, and I am already looking forward to our next reunion. (Hopefully in America, though I’m waiting for sanity to be restored.)

The day after my Becky day, I see the new Second City revue Walking on Bombshells and hang out post-show with my buddy Chris and old showmate Stacey. The day after that, drinks with Jess. The day after that, I see Into the Spiderverse with Ian. The day after that, basketball. The day after that, a movie night at Robin’s, where I believe we watched Trading Places.

I mention all this because I think that’s about as social a stretch as an introvert like me can manage! Kudos to all involved for being people I can spend time with!

One last thing for July. The family went to Sunset Grill in the Beaches (yes, plural, rebranding exercise be damned!), as we’re wont to do, and I noticed something interesting about the omelette prices. I’ll give you a second to see if you can spot it on your own.

Give up? (Or “Get it?” I don’t want to presume you didn’t.) The vast majority of omelettes are cheaper if you “create your own”. The Green Omelette by a full two dollars! So I guess the question is, how much is it worth to you not to be “that guy”? In my case, the Sunset Omelette, it was worth the fifty cents.

Okay, I lied. One more thing for July, just because I made myself laugh:


A reunion a LONG time in the making! Over a decade! Joanna comes to town, and I am reminded of the wonder that is old friends: so much changes, so much remains the same! As an aside, it may be my lack of kids AND moisturizer, but I always feel like I’ve aged the least personally and the most physically. For the latter, judge for yourself.

I manage to get onto another downtown rooftop for some cool people drinking. At least once a summer, whether I want to or not. And I almost always do!

Of course, days later, our parent company has us over for drinks and some BBQ on THEIR rooftop. Mind you, we’re basically their hillbilly cousins from the sticks, welcome only because our women are hot. Or maybe that’s just my take. Regardless, I live up to that understanding by stuffing my face then running off early. (It was a basketball night!)

Anyway, here’s an August post I quite liked. (I’m also sharing it because the hilarious Josh Gondelman just made a similar joke on Twitter, and while it’s parallel thinking, I want it on the record that I thought this thought first, so I can maybe use it in standup. That’s how this works, right?)

Then it was cottage time. Back to the Armstrongs again, and a good, laid-back, light-on-guests time had by all.

One funny thing: I burned a pair of pants. Intentionally. When I was getting my wedding suit, Evan’s friend Matt gifted me a fancy dress shirt, on the condition I burn the pants from my original suit. (The fit offended him.) In what is either a touch of karma or a touch of irony, the pants from my NEW suit have gone missing. Which is bizarre. Hopefully, they’ll turn up, but either way, I watched my ‘pants on fire’, and I ain’t lying!

Then back to work. I won’t say the effect of the cottage wore off too quickly… but this was a thought I had within a week of my return to civilization:

Johnny and Marla have a wedding dinner. Everything is very tasty, though I would expect no less. I’ll mostly remember duck being chopped up next to our table. How’ve I gone this long without experiencing this?

I apply for the Saturday Night Live ticket lottery again. As of now, it still hasn’t happened. But I guess I’ll keep doing it until it does, because that feels like how life works, right?

Also, I think I should go, because I saw a Kids in the Hall taping, so this would round out my comedy name-dropping possibilities. Plus, I keep having funny thoughts like this!

And on the last night of August, Kat and I take in an outdoors screening of Back to the Future. Because it’s there!


Another September, another TIFF! Though, despite the exclamation point, I didn’t see much. And while I liked what I saw – David Copperfield and How to Build a Girl – I wasn’t really feeling it this year. But hey, it’s a blog, so here are pictures showing how close I got to famous people:

Around then, Tom and Lindsay have something of a housewarming. They live around the corner from the folks’, so it makes me extra-happy, and I hope to visit that backyard and fireplace for years to come.

Another September 8th, another iteration of this post! Okay, there seem to be diminishing returns from the audience, but it still makes me smile and it marks a real anniversary, so what the hell. See you again next year, post!

Also that day, the family heads down to Stratford to see Henry VIII. It was my idea to see a lesser work, and, well, it was lesser. But a noble venture, says I!

Through the series of tubes that is the internet, my McGill Twenty Year Reunion planning starts. So far, it’s looking like August may be the choice of champions. We shall see… but something to look forward to!

On the 19th, I have…  Jury Duty! I’m ambivalent about whether I want to be on a jury, but it turns out to be a moot point. Eventually. First, we’re directed to go directly to a courtroom, my first time making it that far; previously, I just made it to the holding room. While we wait, the bailiff tells us that it’s the biggest courtroom in Ontario and that the trial we’re being panelled for is expected to last at least six weeks. (I could be getting that wrong. I mostly remember the gasp!) Then the judge comes in, and after thanking us and noting that serving on a jury is a sacred duty, he explains that due to some procedural things and timing issues, there’s another panel scheduled for closer to the trial date that no longer has a case attached to it. So we’re all free to go! (Oh, the relief in that room!) Best of all, the whole thing took two-and-a-half hours, almost exactly the time to not make it worth going in to work!

That is also the first day of JFL 42. And me, Evan, and Jen went at the festival with gusto. Of course, the credit system makes it basically All You Can See, so we did. Here’s who I saw, in the order I saw them:

  • Roy Wood Jr.
  • Threedom (Paul F. Tompkins, Lauren Lapkus, Scott Aukerman)
  • Esther Povitsky
  • Todd Barry
  • Ronny Chieng
  • John Mulaney and Pete Davidson
  • Jen Kirkman
  • Sam Morril
  • Kate Berlant
  • Ron Funches
  • Michelle Wolf
  • Jay Pharoah (w. A.J. Foster)
  • Graham Kay
  • Jon Dore
  • Dan Soder
  • Jim Norton
  • Cristela Alonzo
  • Andy Kindler & The Alternative Show (Dave Merheje, DeAnne Smith, Nour Hadidi, Tom Henry, and Mark Forward)

Pretty crazy lineup, right? Mind you, seeing that much, there was a lot of “appreciating this is funny” rather than “laughing”… but hey, comedy is a hobby/business of mine too, so that’s still well worth it. Also, my baby stepping towards standup gets a little more of a nudge, and I do some valuable homework.

Here’s a picture:

Finally, a Pharoah who likes the Jews!

My McGill reunion streak continues with a visit by Rachel. Granted, it had only been a few years since I’d seen her, but hey, it’s always special. Here’s a picture, showing that my selfie game has marginally improved. If nothing else, my arms are long.

On the 28th, I attend the  Make ‘em Laugh for 90 Minutes workshop. So now I HAVE to write a screenplay. I just HAVE to!

The next day, we go for Chinese as a family, and I get this fortune which makes me laugh.

Thanks for the future tense, fortune cookie!

Then Rosh Hashanah, which falls on Evan’s birthday. He celebrates by not coming. Da jarit!


Another big concert: Thrush Hermit! It involved some stress, because I got two tickets months before, confident that I knew people who’d be into it. Only to find out it’s a little more niche than I assumed. But Greenstein steps up, and we enjoy some fine tunes!

Then later that month, I’m the one (well, one of the ones) making sweet music. Yes, after years of threatening it and thinking about it, I make it out to a Choir! Choir! Choir! (For those not in the know, this is an ongoing event where a bunch of people congregate and become a choir for a night, learning a song and performing it as a group.) What may have prompted me to finally go was having someone to go with (thanks, Jenny!), but also, it was the fiftieth anniversary of Abbey Road, so they did Something. How could I miss that?

A few days later, on Twitter, I make what I believe is called a ‘witty rejoinder.’ It draws valued praise.

Continuing my string of firsts, I finally make it out to one of the Christie Pits basketball games. And the people I know didn’t show up, so I’m playing with mostly strangers. But a few familiar faces, and all friendly, and a good time had by all. No Stranger Danger here!

A few days later, a federal election. Though I get a little frustrated with people who don’t seem to know how strategic voting can work (e.g. in a safe riding, you can vote your conscience), it’s the rare election these days that doesn’t end with the worst-case scenario, so I’ll take it. Even though the Hershfields’ attempt to sway the vote through fashion did nothing.

A few days after THAT, I buy a pair of jeans. Which I mention only because it was the most extreme markdown I’ve ever seen. OVER 95%, BABY!


Someone manages to drive through a window at work.

It’s very exciting short-term, pretty inconvenient long-term. It also means I move from open-concept with a window to my own office without one, so a lateral move, I suppose?

Boris Mortz jams for the first time. It’s my bro’s friends, who are more loosey-goosey, less rehearsey than I’m used to. But there are worse ways to spend an evening.

After a day of facial fashion show with Evan and Jen a few weeks earlier, I get new glasses. (It’d been years!) We do the appropriate Simpsons routine ad nauseum. (I probably miss my old glasses…)

Maybe they make me smarter, because I do a take on a Twitter meme that strikes myself as amusing.

I see that Pearl Court is closing, and since it’s supposedly the best Chinese food on the Gerrard Chinatown, and I’m kicking myself for never having gone, I leap into action. Will and I agree dim sum must be had, and we moved to rally some troops. Those troops turn out to be Jason, and the three of us eat a lot of dim sum and basically shut the place down. Better late than never!

And I end the month by directing at the 24 Hour Sketch Fest! It’s my first time doing it as a director, and it’s a ton of fun. Nice to spread some wisdom and help my lovely team bring their gold to the stage. Rihanna-matopeia! (That’s what I named the team , as we had a running Rihanna theme. Alas, we got announced as Rihanna-topia… which is still not bad.)


The office holiday party. Kind of a meh experience for me. I’d much rather have dancing than a casino. But hey, different strokes. And this year, I was one of the very sober people helping the very wrecked people… so in theory, I can get wrecked next year? (I do have an ‘every second year’ streak going.)

So remember when I said my personal connection to the Raptors’ championship would happen in December? Well, my buddy Myles (who also plays basketball with us) is an MLSE exec, so he was able to make this moment happen for me!

To be clear, I didn’t get to keep it. Nor could my scrawny arms handle that much weight on a regular basis. But for a brief shining moment, my ring finger was a champion!

The usual suspects gather to close out the Star Wars series with an opening night screening of Rise of Skywalker. The movie is pretty much hot garbage, in my humble but not too humble opinion… but the company is a delight!

Because of the origins of this blog, I feel I should mention that I interview for the Second City’s new Directing Program… and do not get in.


Christmas is a nice event at the house. New Year’s Eve, I use a spare ticket my parents have to see Uncut Gems with them, then just go home and watch Inside Llewyn Davis. Midnight is not noted. Maybe I should have forced myself to go out… but I was happy to just run out the clock, so to speak.

Well, fingers crossed for a more groovy year in 2020, though I’ll settle for survival. And because I don’t want to end on THAT note, I’ll end on this one instead:

My year in books: 2018 edition

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Well, for the first time in awhile, this list of books I’ve read represents (I think) a calendar year. I can’t tell whether I should be proud of how much I read without having to make an effort… or embarrassed by how much I don’t get out! Either way, I think I set a personal record for reading books written by people I know, and we can all agree that’s pretty nifty.

In the order I read them:

  1. What I Think Happened: An Underresearched History of the Western World, Evany Rosen
  2. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, Steven Pinker
  3. Tenth of December, George Saunders
  4. Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002), David Sedaris
  5. The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins
  6. We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, Samantha Irby
  7. The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency, Lanny J. Davis
  8. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better, Monica Heisey
  9. The Last Black Unicorn, Tiffany Haddish
  10. From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story, Ron Tanner
  11. Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
  12. SPARKS, Ian Boothby & Nina Matsumoto
  13. Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution, Jonathan Abrams
  14. Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, Barbara Ehrenreich
  15. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, Michelle McNamara
  16. Failure Is An Option: An Attempted Memoir, H. Jon Benjamin
  17. Like Brothers, Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
  18. How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written, Sterling Archer*
  19. Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, Jen Neale
  20. Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City, Tanya Talaga
  21. All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire, Jonathan Abrams
  22. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory Stamper
  23. Just the Funny Parts … And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys’ Club, Nell Scovell
  24. The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson
  25. How to Fall in Love With Anyone, Mandy Len Catron
  26. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, Steven Johnson
  27. Hits & Misses, Simon Rich
  28. Sweet Affliction, Anna Leventhal
  29. A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, Daniel J. Levitin
  30. Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture, Ken Jennings
  31. Property Values, Charles Demers
  32. Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most, Steven Johnson
  33. The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy, Paul Myers
  34. The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis
  35. I’ll Be There For You: The One about Friends, Kelsey Miller
  36. How To Be Alone (If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t), Lane Moore
  37. The Library Book, Susan Orlean
  38. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
  39. All the Answers, Michael Kupperman
  40. Moon of the Crusted Snow, Waubgeshig Rice

Boy, when I finally get around to making a Goodreads page, it’s going to be a lot of work, and my reviews will be quite arbitrary! But hey, it’s nice to have a record of all this wonderful reading. Read on, my invisible book club!

Hindsight is 2018! (I couldn’t wait!)

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

This ‘posting once a year’ pattern I’ve fallen into is officially odd. I’m fairly certain there are big life events I’m missing, because I now get to the end of the year and try to cobble together what I did using social media and emails. Even though I’m quite certain the best moments in life leave no such trace. Nevertheless, since it is sometimes fun for me (and maybe you) to reread random moments from a year, here they are!


I attend the Next Stage festival for what I think is the first time. Pretty embarrassing for a Fringer, especially given all the people I know who must have done it over the years. Well, consider yourself special, Jason, because Jonno is the one that finally got me out! (And proximity to Gandhi roti was barely a factor.)

Jess and I go for drinks at the Only Bar and Café. This is something we do fairly often (location varies), but this one felt particularly bondy. Or so I recall: it was a year ago, and there was drink involved. All I know is we went back there in October, and one of the times, we also ordered food from Big House Pizza, and it was very good and in my neighborhood, so I have no idea why I haven’t had it since. Time flies?

My on-again, off-again, approach-avoid relationship with improv continues. Matt asks if I want to team up with Ron Sparks, and as we’re all basketball buddies and I like to be asked, I agree. Then it turns out Ron can’t make it and I end up doing the tournament with another wonderful soul, Cameron Wyllie. We quickly establish that we’re going to be the team of two straight dudes who end their scenes by kissing but without making a big deal about it.

We advance to the second round. Naturally.

I see Reid Along with Browning for the first time in forever, and it makes me happy as always. I conquer my social anxiety nerves and go to BeslerMania. My social anxiety nerves win and Seiler and PK skip town without me managing a goodbye. (Though true to my form, I write them a nice note on Facebook.)

And for the first time ever that I can recall, I ask for a raise. I’m told to put it in writing.


I am on the panel for this month’s Comedy Album Book Club, discussing 2000 Years with Cark Reiner and Mel Brooks with Jason, Martha O’Neill, and Sean Browning. Good time had by all, always fun when comedy nerds get together and nerd out. It’s a podcast, so depending on when you see this, you might be able to listen along?

I put my raise request in writing, with much help from my father and Kat Janicki. It takes several people to convince me to write nice things about myself.

The Super Bowl happens. This is where I should write things down. I’m sure I did SOMETHING for it…

Likewise, I know I went to Kama Sutra with my high school friends. Pretty sure it’s an Indian restaurant… but in this case, it’s probably more fun not to look it up.

Basketball night (Wednesday) falls on Valentine’s Day. With a number of cancellations, including several from subs who apparently forgot what day it was when they agreed, those of us who are there end up playing the full two hours 4-on-4. By the usual standards of Valentine’s Day, this one felt really good!

Along those lines, I shortly thereafter enjoyed a night out all by myself. (Well, mostly.) I went to watch Alaine coach at the U of T women’s basketball game, had a brief visit afterwards, then went to watch Black Panther on my own. Noteworthy, because I’m often reticent about going out on my own, but sometimes, when you lean into it, it’s lovely.

Jason and Helena have a party where we’re supposed to bring a dish that means something to us. I decide I’ll bring kasha… and then don’t have the time and also remember that liking kasha is a weird thing. So I bring Descendant Pizza and Radical Road beer, because I like my cool neighborhood. Good enough!

And I guess I remembered about this blog at some point, because I jotted down “Food Trucks: up to thirteen songs.” Don’t look now… but that’s a set!


I have dinner with Laura Bailey, and she tells me about a one-person show she wants to do. It’s of particular note, because she subsequently got into the Toronto Fringe and said show will be happening this summer. Timelines!

Sketchfest comes, and working stiff that I am, I don’t see much. I see Cam Wyllie’s show (how could I not?!?), I see the Lusty Mannequins with Mark & Andy & Dave (a bill that’s pretty much a sure thing), and I go to the Inside The Ladies Writing Room panel (where I am one of about three men with over a hundred women, and I realize that might be as close as I get to experiencing what it’s like to be a woman in a room surrounded by men… but probably better for me, because women are better and privilege generally… anyhooo… )

Around this time, I see the Raptors play the Rockets. It is easily the best game I’ve ever seen live, with James Harden putting on a performance that was practically inhuman, Lowry refusing to lose, and the Raptors earning the win with Harden FINALLY missing on a shot that would’ve sent it to OT. Check it out!

We have a Movie Night at Robin’s, where we watch Jumanji. I can’t remember if this is our first proper movie night… but it’s become more of a regular thing, so when I’m someday trying to remember how long we’ve been doing it, we can know we started at least this long ago.

Seth’s bar mitzvah. It’s a lovely event, though I’ll mostly remember it for losing a library book and then obsessively trying to find it. (It eventually turned up after I’d lost all hope. Ain’t it always the way?!

I go to the WTTV for The Detail. It’s possible I’m a hobbyist now… or that I’m doing the job, and just don’t feel like I am because it’s a bizarro version of it… but either way, I do enjoy these things on occasion.

Here are some posts I made that I liked… as did a handful of others:

Round 2 of the World’s Biggest Improv Tournament. Cameron and I again do our thing, again we advance. He’s lovely, but my ambivalence about improv remains. I loved it so much for so long, but at this point, it feels like it’s easy to be pretty good and impossible to be great, or at least rare enough that it hardly seems worth it. At the risk of bleakness, maybe it just reminds me of better times I once had? But to be clear, I wasn’t nearly this overwrought at the time; it was just a pleasant night out, with people I enjoy.

So, for the first in a long string of unimportant birthdays, I play basketball (nice synchronicity), then dinner with folks, then out for a beer with Ian.  I slept over at parents and had dinner the next day at La Paella. We had the/la paella.

The seder this year was at Sandra’s. They do blend together, but this one was a little memorable for the  heat being out.


A post that probably deserved better. But discerning people liked it, damn it!

March Madness was actual madness this year. Somehow, despite a very busted bracket, I only lose the office pool by one point… which may actually be worse? Either way, in my old Vancouver pool, Villanova’s win pulls me ahead of Shaun and Allen and also, perhaps most importantly, the bracket picked entirely by coin tosses. Oy!

Round 3 and then Round 4 of the World’s Biggest Improv Tournament. As previously noted, still pretty ambivalent, and doing shows two weeks in a row didn’t help. (Once every couple of months at most for this guy!) Still kind of nice to make the Top 16, remind people who I am, etc.

I make a 4/20 joke some fellow nerds like:

And I get a new cellphone. Which is noteworthy because it’s my first smartphone. At the time, I’m pretty sure I won’t get that into it. And while I’m still not a person who gets “excited” about phones or needs the latest, I admit there are some perks to joining everyone else in this century.


Dave comes for a visit, and I use the opportunity to get the high school crew to come to Leslieville. Post-tennis, we go for donairs and drinks at The Thirsty Duck (feels very Canadian) and then for cocktails at Goods and Provisions. Sophistimicated!

Doors Open happens. Larry and I use the opportunity to check out a few of the movie studios in my neighborhood. Because, hey, the Doors were Open!

I make what may be the greatest joke the world has ever seen:

I go suit shopping for Evan’s wedding. Which is especially notable because it was done in a hotel suite! Yes, I got a custom-made suit. We went, got measurements taken, picked from various swatches of fabric… it was very grown-up and a little Rat Pack.


I have a very nerdy email exchange with my father. I sent him this article about why rich kids are good at the marshmallow test:

Then I sent him a website that has a fun (to nerds) visual representation of the birthday paradox:

Then he sent me this in reply:

I mention all this to establish there are smart (or at least intellectually curious) people in Ontario. This is worth noting, because days after this exchange, Doug Ford becomes Premier. Ontario is officially too stupid to be a province.

In recognition of the fact I’m probably privileged enough to survive this new administration (Doug wil likely never get around to building camps, since that would involve creating something rather than tearing something down), I get a new tennis racket for the first time in a decade. I like it.

Bike Share Toronto offers free rental s on Wednesdays in June. So for a couple of days, I’m a guy who rides a bike rides to work. Mind you, I got to boot down to the path that runs along and under the Gardiner, so I wasn’t too much dealing with traffic. Still, close enough to the real thing to say I’ve done it!

I get something off my chest:

I make my first Instagram post. In retrospect, I don’t know if more social media was called for, but it’s fun to express myself visually. (Or more accurately, commenting on things that visually amuse me.) It’s also the social media that doesn’t seem to be a terrible hellscape. So there’s that.  For anyone so inclined:

I email Larry about this article about referential behavior in dogs. Well, he must have shown it to Marty, because suddenly, it seems to be all he can do!:

Evan’s bachelor party. Even if I never do another nice thing for him in his life, I’m still the best brother of all time. It’s Archer-themed, and I even request a very special favor from a wonderful old friend to sell it. The idea is that Evan had to be Archer for the day, so we had a lesson and learned to play lacrosse…

We got dressed up, me as Krieger, Larry as Bilbo…

Then the gentlemen had a dinner in a private room at Pearl Diver (thanks, Peter!)…

Then a karaoke party at the party room at Betty’s!

Okay, that last one took some work to fit thematically. But it got there. And then Evan foiled an assassination attempt by a Nova Scotian Separatist (thanks, Ian!) and was rewarded with a signed picture by Farty Dadams… an inside joke that only three people really understood! So yeah, I’m the best big brother ever.

Then life goes on. Realizing I dropped the ball on picture taking at the bachelor party, I take my best–ever selfie. Well, funniest. To me.

And I make another funny post where I invent an earworm:

And then my last noteworthy event of June (apparently) was a WTTV for the series Wishfart.


I make a post that’s far too popular.

And Marty gets a summer do!

A pretty quiet Fringe year for me. I see: Al Lafrance: I Think I’m Dead; Morro and Jasp: Save the Date (with Stopher, in what is/was a lovely tradition); We’ll Be Better Tomorrow; and Featherweight (starring incredible talents Kat and Amanda). So I didn’t see much, but what I saw was good, so there’s that.

I go to Matt and Erin’s nuptials. After missing the arrival of my new suit by a matter of minutes, I go on a road trip with a brunch of improv types to this destination wedding, and a lovely time is had by all. A ceremony both touching and funny, a great honour to be counted among their friends, and a delightful weekend. (Even with me feeling I have to prove my comedy capabilities from time to time.)

Shortly thereafter, we go to the cottage. I don’t remember much of what happened, but I do know this happened as we were packing up to leave, and it’s the cutest thing ever:


Okay, to be clear, the world falling apart isn’t good for comedy, and even if it was, it wouldn’t be worth it. Even to comedians, because we’re not psychopaths. That said, the “President” being a thoroughly shitty human being led to my most viewed tweet, due to me being retweeted by Edgar Wright! (And then others, including some of note.)

I go to Winnipeg with Larry, with Bobo and Zack visiting at the same time. Standard Winnipeg activities (not in a bad way), and I discover (better late than never) that the Shaftesbury is right next to Assiniboine Park and all its lovely hiking trails. Finally, something to do besides eating, sitting, and car rides! (It was VERY hot… but again, with all the eating, a little sweat was probably a good idea!)

I return, and Brad from work has his wedding. Or reception, I suppose. Either way, first time wearing my new suit out!


I begin my quietest TIFF in years. Just two movies. The first was Greta. Not my favorite, but such is life.

I make a joke on Facebook that appeals to people who read closely and people who don’t read so closely. I feel a little guilty about it… but damn it, it’s funny!

Luckily, it wasn’t a purely arbitrary day, so I won’t mind doing it every year. Which I guess I have to now!

The next day (the 9th), I see If Beale Street Could Talk. Definitely my favorite of the two, and about as good a Q&A as you could hope for. (It made the news!) I think I’m pretty much over TIFF, but it is a bit of a nice family ritual.

Speaking of which, Rosh Hashanah at Shelley and Cindy’s this year. Good times had by all.

Shortly thereafter, I get a pink bass. It’s mostly so I can have one for home and one for the office, where Food Trucks jam… but it’s still very punk.

Pete takes a couple of us out for a spin on his boat. I get strangely close to motion sickness (as in I felt it but nothing came out of me) and then we had hot dogs at the RCYC. Queasiness notwithstanding, a lovely time that also feels like proper taking advantage of the city we live in.

I make a funny joke at work and then decide I want to share it with the world:

I go hardcore on JFL42. Largely with Evan and Jen. It turns out that its credit system basically encourages you to see countless shows, so between being cheap and inspired, I see a ton.

Fairly early on, I make this observation…

… but it’s still a lot of laughs. (And admittedly, a lot of mental acknowledgment that things are funny without actually laughing.) Here’s who I saw:

  • Theo Von
  • Rapp Battlez
  • Donnell Rawlings
  • Margaret Cho
  • Neal Brennan
  • Seth Meyers
  • Moses Storm & Jo Firestone
  • Talking with Canadian TV Comedy Writers: Monica Heisey w. Kevin White, Anita Kapila, Garry Campbell & Susan Coyne
  • Nathan Macintosh
  • Marc Evan Jackson & Paul F. Tompkins (improv)
  • Matt Braunger
  • Joe Mande
  • Adam Pally (Vino Diesel)
  • Tony Hinchcliffe
  • Ryan Hamilton
  • Lil Rel Howery
  • Chris Gethard
  • Todd Glass

A lot, right? But it’s like homework for funny people… or so I tell myself. Anyway, here’s the one picture we took with someone: the very funny, very friendly Ryan Hamilton.


Another earworm of my own invention!

I don’t entirely remember my mood at the time, but on the 12th, I post this:

Perhaps not coincidentally, I begin volunteering around then at ReadUP. For awhile, at any rate.

A webseries I was an extra in goes live. Admittedly, I volunteered mostly to play basketball… but it was still a thing I did, and I’m in it. If you’ve ever wanted to see me play sports in slow motion (well, SLOWER motion):

Due to someone being too sick to go, I see Andy Zaltzman’s show Right Questions, Wrong Answers. I get there late due to the stupid TTC, so I’m in a bad mood for awhile… but fun show.

John Tory stays the mayor, in the Ford-compromised municipal election. Toronto’s spiral down the plumbing continues apace.

Anyway, here’s a post that probably should’ve been appreciated more:

Our office moves to the Dufferin and Eglinton neighbourhood. Suddenly, I’m a commuter and everything seems harder. But at least I’m getting reading done during my commute…

The month ends with a Halloween party at Ian and Jen’s. For the first time in years, I meet someone at a party and days later, successfully ask them out. Not much comes of it, alas… but good to know that’s still a possibility for Old Dan.


A big month for me online. I get the app Untappd (my beer drinking is nowhere near enough to make it impressive, but hey, it’s fun). I get some Initiative Q cryptocurrency (current value: probably nothing, but it was free, so no harm done. And I get my first Twitter suspension!

I hold out from deleting the tweet for a long time, hoping that I can actually get a letter from someone who works there saying that they think a person exists who’s dumb enough to believe this is real. After about a week, I need my account for work, so I relent. But if you ever have any doubt that Twitter has chosen a side, and it’s the side of the fascists… well, don’t.

Evan and Jen’s wedding and assorted adjacent events). I MC (“yeah, you know me!”) and everyone does very well. I could go on and on, but I think I’ll just remember it as best I can. Here are some pictures (with a focus on me, because if anyone’s actually reading this, I have to assume I’m the one you’re interested in!):

As usual, the Hershfields know how to party.

Moving on… I have an experience that’s pretty well summed up by my post on the subject:

Speaking of nerds who read, shortly thereafter, I have a very Toronto experience. I go downtown to give blood, then have to go to the Reference Library to photocopy pages from a book not in circulation for Larry… and while there, I stumble upon a Susan Orlean lecture. Nifty! (And as you’ll see from today’s OTHER post, I did read her book!)

Around this time, I officially end my volunteering with ReadUP. My commuting time now means I have to go directly from work to it, and even doing that, I was hard-pressed to make it on time. Should really find something else good to do… note to self.


I learn that Bathurst Bowlerama is closing down. The end of an era, etc.

Another year, another holiday party. Though with new owners, it’s a real party. I get far too drunk off the open bar, and (separately) the highlight of the party is a contest where people have to drop toonies into shotglasses from their butt cheeks. All this will probably feel less normal some day.

I make my last really good post of the year (if I do say so myself):

Okay, slightly overwritten, but that idea is solid!

Brad from work has big news. He’s moving on to bigger and better things. The presumption is that I’ll become head writer… and eventually that is the case.  So… that’s a thing that happened.

Then the holidays. I see Dave and other high school folks (we go for Indonesian), Lindsay and Tom, and other people I haven’t seen in too long. I finally check out the Second City revue: a lot of good stuff, especially (if I may say) from my friend Chris Wilson. And then once again New Year’s at Ian and Jen’s.

And that’s the year that was. More or less. (Okay, it’s probably less… but after all this writing, it feels like more!) Thanks for reading this, Future Me!