2021. Nuff said?

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: https://www.avclub.com/it-s-frasier-s-turn-for-the-quarantine-fanfic-treatment-1846243019

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!

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