Back in the North…

We left Naples on Wednesday and as soon as the car hit I-75, a very light rain started to fall.  Our first drops of rain after nearly 6 weeks of perfect Florida sunshine.  Happily, we returned to Toronto in the midst of surprisingly mild yet dismally gray weather.  To our great delight our living room furniture for our new condo, which had been ordered some 12 weeks ago, was finally delivered the day after our arrival.  I now have an actual sofa to stretch out on as I watch my many shows and movies. Our first drive up to Thornbury did involve driving through scattered flurries, but on otherwise dry roads.  We’ve been reconnecting with our Thornbury friends this weekend with a couple of great dinners and a lovely Christmas party at the local community centre. It’s been a bit of a crazy week, but here are a few recommendations for you:

On the Big Screen

As the Oscar recommendations begin to emerge, some articles have begun to list the must-see films of the year:

From Esquire:

From the Globe:


Many people ask me what I like on Netflix so here is a list of the best British shows currently on Netflix:

The 15 Best British Shows On Netflix Right Now

John Doyle has a great column explaining why Paranoid is a great British crime show:


A friend recommended The Kettering Incident to me. Set in Tasmania and starring Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager, The Man from UNCLE), this 8-part series follows Anna from London to Tasmania as she tries to solve the mystery of a friend who disappeared 15 years earlier in the Tasmanian forest.  The show is mysterious and puzzling as the plot unveils many other mysteries including police corruption, alien abductions, toxic waste dumping, etc.  The scenery is breathtaking and Debicki is spell binding in a kind of Tilda Swinton way.  Watch for her as she seems to be having an Alicia Vikander career moment and is poised on the verge of major stardom. I finished watching this series and did binge on the last several episodes of Season 1 as I got caught up in the mystery.

I have also been able to keep up with Chance (from Hulu with Hugh Laurie) and Berlin Station (from Epix with Richard Ermitage) by streaming them.

OK, so this isn’t exactly “watching” but George and I have decided that we are going to use our travel time more productively and are listening to podcasts and recorded books as often as we can.  Our first book is Erik Larson’s Dead Wake:  The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  Poignant and suspenseful, Larson tells the story with great detail, painting a portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. This luxury liner is caught in WWI as a determined U-boat captain, whose movements are being tracked by British intelligence, pursues his quarry relentlessly, while the hapless passengers face imminent disaster. I didn’t enjoy this Larson book as much as I did several of his others including:  Isaac’s Storm, The Devil in the White City, In the Garden of Beasts, etc.


I’m a bit embarrassed (after prematurely announcing that last week’s episode was the last) to admit that there is still the final episode to be aired of Westworld tonight on HBO. Apparently all the mysteries are solved.

Shameless, The Affair, and Divorce all continue on HBO Sunday nights.


After 6 weeks of no CBC, I was delighted to catch up with This Life on demand.  This very touching series follows the story of a single mother who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  I was able to binge watch episodes 4 through 8 and so am totally caught up!  Tori Higginson is very appealing as Natalie Lawson, the lead character who is on a quest to prepare her teenage children for life without her.  Her tight-knit family – sister, two brothers and parents – do the best they can…  Episode 9 airs tonight on CBC.  An unexpected crisis leaves the Lawsons shaken, and the family rallies when a second situation arises, complicating things for Natalie.


Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) continues with Kiefer Sutherland as the man who would be President. Too many nefarious plot twists to list them.  Still entertained by this show.

The CW

OK, here’s where this blog gets a bit embarrassing as I confess my addiction to shows that are intended for a much younger demographic.  Still watching Arrow (Wednesday) and occasionally Supergirl (Monday) which had crossover episodes as they fought an invasion of aliens this week.


Another guilty pleasure show, Gotham (Mondays) continues to delight as Inspector Jim Gordon mentors the young Batman.


The Walking Dead (Sundays) continues its harrowing depiction of life in a world gone mad with zombies.  Our survivors keep finding themselves in peril as they encounter other survivors whose humanity has been destroyed by the new morality of survival at any cost.


Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) continues to show men of valour fighting the good fight in a simpler world where saving peoples’ lives is really the only thing that matters.  SNL continues to try and amuse re the incoming regime and Alec Baldwin does his very best to impersonate The Donald.


I think even Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show is having trouble finding amusement in today’s political scene.

Comedy Network

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs nightly Mon- Thurs at 11 and Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal returns Monday at 10:30 this week.  The Beaverton , a new Canadian comedy series that parodies the news, also airs regularly on Comedy.  I’m looking to see what channel People of Earth (on TBS in the US) airs on in Toronto, but haven’t found it yet.  Help someone, if you find this show, let me know.

Final Thoughts

It’s now a countdown to Christmas as we reconnect with family and friends.  We are headed to our annual family Broadway style musical as we are seeing Come From  Away this week before it heads to Broadway.  The Globe gives it a great review:

http://www.theglobeandmail. com/arts/theatre-and- performance/theatre-reviews/ come-from-away-heart-warming- musical-lives-up-to-the-hype/ article33012704/

I’m looking forward to seeing all my exercise gals for coffee at my place and then at our annual Christmas lunch.  Dinners with friends are a big feature this week so George and I are going to have to be very careful to avoid packing on the pounds as we reintroduce carbs into our diet.  Six weeks of regular exercise and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables made it easy to stay away from all the white things like sugar, pasta, rice, bread, cookies, etc.  Now that we are confronting Christmas baking and other delights on a daily basis, we are in a constant fight with temptation.  We must all stay strong as we try to resist these devilish urges.  Courage my friends!!  Enjoy the season.


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