MEAL REVIEW: Terroni. 1095 Yonge Street. Toronto

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The girlfriend brought me here. Mamma mia che bella meal! There’s a huge pizza list with very different ingredients for each one. No pizza is quite the same. I’m a spice boy so I settled on the “Scattagengive” (from what I can understand in my limited knowledge of the Italian language, it translates to roughly “cut gums”) which had tomato, mozzarella, hot cacciatore salame and spicy auricchio provolone. Both pizzas (my girlfriend got the Natalina) were just like mama used to make! Even though my mother has never and does not currently make pizzas on account of not owning a wood oven and just a GE electric one.

What I liked most about this pie was the CHUNKS of cacciatore salame they gave me. Usually, Italian wood oven pizza places/Italian restaurants give you very thin cut meats for the pizza that aren’t embedded well into the cheese and sauce and they slip around and shit and you end up scooping them up with a fork. The meat embedded into two types of delicious fresh cheese was heavenly. Points for construction. To top it off, they gave us some spicy pepper oil to drizzle on top. I paired this with a delicious lager that I have since forgotten the name of from Piedmont (northern Italy, which is a treat for my southern Italian ass) We ended the meal with espressos and a cornetto with Nutella and ice cream in between.

I mangia com un porc and I beve com un pesc. Great meal.

(TRANSLATION: I ate like a pig and I drank like a fish)

9/10

MEAL REVIEW: Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls, 5705 Falls Avenue

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I have long been a supporter and fan of the Hard Rock Cafe. Great food, cool memorabilia to look at, and awesome music (and music videos) too. It has long been a place where I’ve enjoyed having a burger and a beer while bands the likes of Pearl Jam or Aerosmith serenade me from multiple TV sets (with perhaps one being in my booth). Furthermore, in Niagara Falls, Ontario – a place that my father refers to as “the tacky capital of the world” but I enjoy these campy elements – it was a safe bet from the expensive steakhouses and shitty Italian eateries that taste like the menu was curated by Chef Boyardee. My cousin Mike and I refer to these places with disdain as “Mamma Mia Kakarias”, named after an actual place in Niagara called Mamma Mias that we were forced to go to by our picky Italian family that would rather choke down a Chuck E Cheese pizza and some guh-no-chee (gnocci) than try a different type of cuisine.

However, this time at the Hard Rock Cafe, it was the day the music died.

Instead of the great meal I had expected, my meal was akin to paying 50 dollars for Buddy Holly to crash land on my plate. First of all, the burger menu was completely different and the burgers cost 20 dollars. Now, unless you’re serving me the burger with a reunion tour of the surviving members of Pink Floyd, don’t have it cost that much. I had the Java Lava Burger which is advertised as “awakened with espresso rub and our house made lava sauce, crunchy java onions, melted Tillamook cheddar, smoked bacon, crisp and vine-ripened tomato, garnished with fried jalapenos”. Sounds good right? Yeah, I know. I and several others with me thought so too.

We asked our waiter what “lava sauce is” and he didn’t know. Is it hot sauce? Is it BBQ Guy Fieri-esque Donkey Sauce? Are they going to the “Dinosaur Mini Golf” up on Clifton Hill and just gathering the ashes of the pyrotechnics? Without pursuing further we still agreed to this mystery sauce and ordered our burgers. I got mine with a side of onion rings.

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In the beginning of time, there was only the sauce…

Lava sauce is fucking spicy mayo. So call it “spicy mayo”. As God intended. Don’t get cute with it. That’s the only topping I could pick out of this mess of a burger. The burger was so big and thick that it was like eating a Wall of Meat (a term coined by my good friend Danny from a good band called Gurth). I don’t know who likes these burgers and why places make them like this. Yeah, its a lot of meat for your buck but whats the point if it tastes like the dry insides of the freezer package it came in?

All those toppings up there? I couldn’t pick apart any of them from the meat and the spicy mayo. I’ve had lots of espresso flow through my Italian veins over the years and I guess the LAVAZZA machine broke down in the kitchen because I didn’t taste it at all. Onion rings were alright and Mike and I decided to put fries and onion rings on our burgers to jazz them up. But not even Miles Davis jamming with Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane could jazz up these mediocre burgers.

Another criticism I have is about the Hard Rock Cafe memorabilia preservation initiative. Or lack thereof. It doesn’t take a professional archivist to know that you should not have a light shining intensely into a signed guitar from David Bowie so that the ink is slowly coming off of it. Can’t get that again! The same thing with some 1960s era handwritten lyrics from Pete Townshend of The Who to the point where they just have a blank piece of paper in the case. Can’t get that again!

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Next thing you know some asshole is going to be playing “Heart and Soul” on this keyboard

Would not recommend. I guess next time I am in Niagara I will be eating the “broo-shetta” at Joey Marinara’s Fine Italian Eatery. Hopefully, they have the Godfather impersonator to serve me some Ragu I can refuse.

3/10

SHOW(S) REVIEW: Radiohead at Scotiabank Centre July 19 and 20, 2018

“Thanks for making us feel welcomed back in your city” – Thom Yorke, July 20, 2018

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NIGHT 1: July 19 2018, Scotiabank Centre

The day had finally come. My wait for 9 straight years to see Radiohead was finally over. I woke up that morning and as I tried to do my research assignment work, I was very distracted. Thoughts about what songs they would play, anxieties about getting there on time without our children’s playset of a transit system (TTC) crapping out on me and retrospective thoughts about all the good times and bad times of my life that this band has provided the soundtrack to were swimming in my head. It was finally time to leave and I shut my laptop, drove to the subway and headed into the city to meet my older cousin for a much necessary pre-show burrito at Burrito Boyz. He’s considerably older than me and has seen Radiohead a number of times prior. However, he was equally as excited as I was because he had not seen them since they were last in Toronto in August of 2008 for the In Rainbows tour. He asked me between bites of a haddock burrito which songs I most wanted to hear. I responded with three of my favourites, Reckoner (one of my favourite songs of all time, period), Idioteque and The Tourist. Then we went to Elephant and Castle for a beer and headed to the newly renamed “Scotiabank Centre” for the show (unless I can now buy concert tickets with my Scotiabank SCENE points, for sure change it back to the Air Canada Centre. It has a good acronym and it’s timeless!)

They started with “Daydreaming” and “Ful Stop” off A Moon Shaped Pool and although I like that album enough, it’s not one of my favourites at all. However, when they played “Morning Bell” (which was definitely the faster paced Kid A version versus the slow, lounge singing version off Amnesiac and the I Might Be Wrong live album) I knew the show had really started for me. They played 25 songs, one after another as a pyramid spotlight cascaded on to the crowd and I imagined when this light was on that Radiohead was an iPod shuffling to the next random song of their discography.

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It looked like this, more or less, even though this pic was taking on night 2 as they were playing “Daydreaming”

They played a very sombre setlist. Lots of amazing, slower songs such as “Like Spinning Plates”, “Everything in its Right Place” and “Videotape”. The most upbeat songs they played were probably “Idioteque” and “Myxomatosis”. If you’re following they played two out of my three favourite songs!

This was Radiohead’s first show since the tragedy of Downsview Park in 2012, where their stage collapsed and killed their drum technician, Scott Johnson. It felt like there was an awkwardness during their performance. An elephant in the room that needed to be addressed. They played a lot of songs off of In Rainbows and The King of Limbs. Which could mean that this was the possible setlist that we would have gotten if that Downsview Park show happened as planned. This could also be seen as a tribute to Johnson. The band at first seemed cold. They only time Thom Yorke seemed like he was having a really good time was when he was playing his favourite song of all time, ‘The Gloaming” and danced around in his squeaky clean, white Adidas shoes which looked to be Cloadfoam Ultimates (which I own and I can report that they are comfy to the point of feeling like you’re simply in a pair of thick socks, good for dancing confirmed).

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They played amazing song after amazing song back to back but did not address the crowd more than a slight “thanks” or a “hey” from Yorke. Then for the final encore (“Everything in its Right Place”, “Idioteque” and “Karma Police”) Thom Yorke finally talked to the crowd directly. He said hello and then remarked that “The people who should be held accountable are not being held accountable … The silence is fucking deafening” regarding the complete failure of the Canadian judicial system to charge the parties responsible for the stage collapse. He then paused for a moment of silence for Scott Johnson. It was during this that thousands of us fell silent to show our respects as a couple dimwitted assholes started screaming shit out. Although the Toronto Star and various other news outlets erroneously reported that “the fans let Radiohead down”, this was the result of a few rotten individuals (that should be sentenced to a padded cell where they have to listen to “The Gloaming” on repeat) and not from the masses. When you have a room of 20,000, it only takes a few voices to break a silence and sound loud in comparison. So Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, if either of your authors were actually at the show they would have realized that we didn’t “blow it” or that the bulk of us did not “get loud at the worst time” and that most of us, both proud Torontonians and respectful Radiohead fans, don’t appreciate our media dragging our city through the mud. Radiohead went on to deliver a killer encore and I embraced fully being that asshole who screams the lyrics over the singer in my Instagram story. MOBILES SQUERKING, MOBILES CHIRPING. Sue me. If you want 4K mp3/mp4 render of live Radiohead, watch Live From The Basement, not my goofy social media feeds.

TOP 3 SONGS PLAYED: The Tourist, Idioteque, No Surprises

UNEXPECTED SONG: The Tourist (I couldn’t believe it. But also “Like Spinning Plates”)

9/10

NIGHT 2: July 20 2018 at Scotiabank Arena

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Credit to u/Right_All_The_Time on Reddit

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After such an amazing concert, I didn’t have tickets for the second night but I knew I had to see them again. Through a comedian buddy of mine, (shoutout to Jam Easy, who runs a comedy show in Brampton that you should check out if you live in the Toronto/GTA) I got in touch with a scalper and got section 108 (a stark upgrade from my 323 section last night but with a significant price hike that if my money was going directly to the band, I could have paid to have fixed Thom Yorke’s lazy eye three times over) and headed down with my girlfriend. What I witnessed was a completely different atmosphere from the band. They were so enthusiastic throughout the show and Thom Yorke regularly spoke to the crowd through their massive 25 song set that was STRAIGHT STELLAR TRACK AFTER STELLAR TRACK. I can’t even begin to start naming them off. Paranoid Android, Pyramid Song, You and Whose Army, How to Disappear Completely, Exit Music for A Film (forever stained with the image of the best Black Mirror episode of all time – “Shut Up and Drive”), 15 Step and There, There – just to name a few. They also played Reckoner and I was visibly trembling. It was good beyond words. In 25 songs, they only played THREE from the previous evening – “Daydreaming”, “Ful Stop” and “Bloom”. That’s 47 DIFFERENT songs in two nights and 5 hours of Radiohead overall. Boy, am I glad I went again.

So the question remains, what was responsible for Radiohead’s complete 180-degree change of mood that evening? While browsing the r/radiohead subreddit, user u/TIGER_COOL on Reddit had an interesting point: “They heard the buzz and read the papers and probably thought, “oh shit, this was supposed to be about Scott, and now somehow it’s about how shitty and inconsiderate Toronto fans are. Let’s make this right.” They love Toronto and they always have.” This is a cool thought and I wonder if there’s any validity to it. I think that they were better able to gauge the sheer silence in that room and felt the love and respect of the fans more than we were given credit for. Night 1 felt like Radiohead getting something off their chest and trying to ascertain a bit of closure with Night 2 feeling like a renewal once this was complete. Hopefully, the path of the legal matter is not over yet and everything could have a chance to be in its “right place” after six years of a tragedy unanswered in the near future. After an amazing encore of “Fake Plastic Trees”, Thom Yorke bowed to the crowd as we clapped and cheered relentlessly.

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Picture courtesy of u/instadru on Reddit

Two nights of Radiohead after such a long wait was the greatest experience of my life until I have a kid or whatever, with night 2 delivering more for me personally than night 1

NIGHT 2

TOP 3 SONGS PLAYED: Reckoner, Pyramid Song, Fake Plastic Trees

UNEXPECTED SONG: Talk Show Host (ahhhhhh)

10/10

ALBUM REVIEW: IN RAINBOWS-Radiohead

in rainbows

RELEASED: October 10, 2007

7th out of 9 albums released

GENRE: Alternative rock, art rock, experimental rock

HOW WELL DO I KNOW THE BAND/ARTIST: Very well

FAVORITE SONGS: Reckoner, 15 Step, Jigsaw Falling Into Place

LEAST FAVOURITE SONGS: Bodysnatchers

Tomorrow (July 19) I will accomplish a lifelong dream of mine. To FINALLY see Radiohead in concert. This is a dream 8 years in the making. I got into Radiohead in late 2009, when I was in the ninth grade. The last time they were in Toronto at this point was on the In Rainbows tour in August of 2008 when I was 1) oblivious to the existence of Radiohead and 2) didn’t know anything of the world outside of Halo 3 on Xbox Live. I had tickets to see them in 2012 when their stage collapsed on their drum technician Scott Johnson and I turned my car around and went home. It was a tragic day for everyone and it is very disappointing how awful the Canadian legal system handled the matter and that to this day, no one has accepted responsibility for this negligence. I really wonder if they will remark on any of these events at tomorrow’s concert, as it is their first in Toronto since the tragedy. Anyways, I was so close to seeing one of my favorite bands of all time but instead, I ended up in the restaurant “The Marche” with my family as my stepsister asked, “who is radio’s head?”. Goddamn. I hope nothing happens tomorrow and the show is as good as I think it’s going to be. I’ve looked at a couple setlists and they are confirmed playing straight bangers.

When I was a lowly freshman in high school (a “niner” to us Canadians) my older cousin (who I am actually seeing the show with tomorrow) recommended me the album The Bends and I really enjoyed it and spent the better part of a weekend learning the chords to “Fake Plastic Trees” on the guitar with thoughts of singing it to my grade 9 crush to make her fall in love with me and visions of us holding hands at Canada’s Wonderland or whatever. Even though I for sure had the voice of Squeaky-Voiced Teen from The Simpsons while playing the rough chords you’d hear on a “Mario Paint Composer” YouTube video. However, that summer after grade 9 I fell in love with the In Rainbows album. I was previously exposed to the song “15 Step” on a commercial on TV for the album when the physical release came out. I liked the song and the fast-paced video of a bunch of gloved hands manufacturing the album DIY style (previously it was sold as a pay what you can download online, one of the first of its kind and it paved the way for thousands of indie bands and vaporwave artists on Bandcamp to follow) really resonated with me.

It reminded me of this obscure Treehouse TV kids show I used to watch as a young boy called “Itsy Bitsy Time”.

There was always something intriguing and eerie about this show. As I was looking it up on YouTube, I was hoping it existed and I wasn’t Candle Cove-ing myself. Good to know the boogeyman is real and I found him.

I remember downloading the song on Limewire (and it wasn’t “bodies by down with the sickness”) and I enjoyed it that’s where my interest stopped with Radiohead. However, by summer 2010 I was 15 years old and in love with the full album. I bought it from the HMV in the Promenade Mall and it came as you see in that advertisement, as a “construct an album project” with stickers and the booklet that you were supposed to apply to a normal, blank CD from the dollar store. I, however, outfitted a Toy Story PC game for whatever reason.

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He “buzzes” like a fridge. Also, I have since lost the disc and all that remains is this halfass Radiohead Buzz Lightyear fan fic from hell.

I remember going camping with my family and having my iPod Touch on me and listening to it over and over. I definitely remember helping my Nonno (grandfather, yeah yeah) set up the campfire while jamming out to “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” with my headphones like an asshole.

How does this album hold up almost 10 years later? Like a perfect portrait nail bolted to a wall. This album is incredible and one of my favourite albums of all time. It combines all the aspects that make Radiohead the legends that they are. Lush production, multiple instruments scattered throughout the tracks, the wailing vocals of Thom Yorke, the innovate guitar work of the Greenwood brothers and a collection of upbeat but also calm and moody songs. I truly believe this was the culmination of the band at their absolute best and the perfect combo of the stripped back guitar-based songs you would hear on The Bends and OK Computer and soft and sentimental piano/electronic songs you could find on Amnesiac and/or Kid A. The only disappointing part to me anyway is that their two albums that followed couldn’t keep up with this towering high point of a release. They took the bar and shot it into space, Elon Musk style and it was hard to bring it back into orbit.

DEDDICAAAATED TO ALLLLLL HUUUUUUEEEE

ALLLL HUEEEEEE

MAN BEINGS, YEEE EEEEEAH

Fun Fact: They released a bonus disk of eight songs that were not included in the album. It’s worth a listen if you dig Rainbows as much as me. There’s some great ones on there like “Down is the New Up” and “Last Flowers”.

10/10, BABY!

MOVIE REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) JONESATHON

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RELEASED: May 23 1984

DIRECTED BY: Steven Spielberg

STARRING: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan

WATCHED: July 15 2018

This movie is the definition of crazy, balls to the wall action and an overall fun time. It keeps up a decent plot (even though the historian in me wants to criticize the white saviour narrative as a false presentation of imperialism but the comedian in me wants to engage the historian in me here to a bar fight) while hardly EVER stopping the action. This movie was like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg taking Raiders of the Lost Ark and strapping it to a missle and pushing ENGAGE.

Seriously, there are so many amazing action scenes here that don’t go Crystal Skull level over the top even though they come close (the scene where the mine cart jumps to the other side of the track like that minigame in the game Club Penguin, the ENTIRE plane sequence) but goddamn are they ever awesome. Although not as satisfying as seeing Indy fight the Nazis, Mola Ram shouting KALI MAHHHHH as he takes rips out human hearts like Scorpion in Mortal Kombat while enslaving the entire child population of a town is a man ripe for a kick in the ass set to the wonderful score of John Williams.

Capshaw’s Willie Scott although irritating at some points, offers a great amount of comic relief. However, the best part about this movie is Short Round. OKIE DOKIE DOCTA JONES! Although this character could appear racist in 2018 and is a target for a premium SJW attack, Ke Quan in this film (and more famously as Data in The Goonies) is so funny and charismatic that he invites you to take the stick out of your ass and use it to slap your knee in laughter. Whatever happened to this actor? I read on his wiki that he turned into a stunt coordinator. Maybe he decided to confine his acting to his youth. The dynamic between Jones and Short Round reminds me of Sully and Nathan Drake in the Uncharted games, which rely heavily on Indiana Jones as an influence. I wish Short Round came back as Indiana Jones’ sidekick in future instalments.

So many scenes here appear to be straight out of a comic book (which Marvel released after Raiders in January of 1963 as The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones) especially the dinner in the Indian palace complete with monkey heads, eyeball soup and straight up live, raw snakes (are they even chewable? do you eat it like linguini? I dunno). This is something that I could see in the pages of Tales from the Crypt or The Haunt of Fear. It’s a great addition even though factually I would love a meal in an Indian palace with curries and chicken as far as the eye can see (and I’ll fuck with monkey brains if offered. When in Rome! Willie stop crying for apples, you uncultured swine).

Side note, the line of Indiana Jones comics were kicked off with a three-issue adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark released in late 1981. I found one of these comics (issue 2) at a comic book sale at the Canadian National Exhibition. This event is also called the CNE, which is good for things other than overpriced rides that could kill you at any minute, deep fried whatever with a side of bacon wrapped whatthefuckever and fronting on Instagram like you won your girlfriend the Pikachu the size of a Sleep Country mattress and didn’t pay the carny 50 bucks for it.

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Overall, I like this movie a bit more than Raiders. It kept the action, one liners, villains that you want to see brought to justice and violence and fright from the first one but upped the ante, took out the filler and added SHORT MOTHERFUCKING ROUND BOIIII

FUN FACT: In Raiders, Harrison Ford came down with dysentery during filming. In this one, he herniated his disk performing a somersault in the bedroom scene and needed to be kept on a hospital bed in between later scenes filmed after this. What a trooper.

9.5/10

TELEVISION REVIEW: Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (2018) on Netflix

Evil Genius

RELEASED: May 11 2018

FINISHED WATCHING ON: July 15 2018

I love bizarre true crime stories and I had this four-part documentary series recommended to me by my girlfriend. I remember reading about the case of Brian Wells, the pizza delivery man who was forced to rob a bank with a collar bomb attached to his neck, on Vice before Vice turned into a clickbait shit website where every article is “Meet the Man Living in Mexico Who Hasn’t Bathed Since 1976”. Luckily, all I remembered was the basic facts of the case and that there were many co-conspirators. So this was pretty much all new to me.

Producers The Duplass Brothers and writers of this show really put a lot of work into it with a chronological, detailed story that goes from 2003 to 2013. They actively worked on this project for over a decade and released it only when they had some sort of subsequent answers to form an ending, which I respect. They did their research well and try to show many sides and perspectives of the subjects including Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong and Bill Rothstein and outline what could have happened on that fateful day in 2003 as clearly as possible. All the while, they consistently invite the audience to form their own conclusions regarding the facts of the case and the testimonies of those accused. They secured interviews with pretty much all involved including the FBI and state police that worked on this case. There are lots of twists and turns to this batshit insane story and I highly recommend it.

Also, every time Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong says Bill Rothstein’s entire name in a sarcastic tone (WILLIAM ALEXANDER ROTH STEEEEN) I laugh my ass off.

Also, in the opening credits when they show Diehl-Armstrong’s face go from young to old it’s TERRIFYING!

9/10