One of my favourite things about the Christmas holiday season are the festive lights brightening city streets and people's residences and yards. I really miss them when they come down in early January sending winter into darkness again.

Other things I've been heartily enjoying over the Christmas holidays this year include The Golden Compass movie, my new noise cancelling headphones, Raine Maida's solo album (The Hunter's Lullaby), the King Edward's scrumptious buffet (no reason to choose between tourtière and turkey, try a bit of both!), Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (I'm about a third of the way into it and I'm dying to find out where it's going), tons of Mr. Bean episodes, and the Trailer Park Boys Christmas special (who doesn't love Bubbles, huh?).

It's nice to know that Canadians are believers in that old it's better to give than to receive adage. Last week a Canadian poll found that 80% of people surveyed said that it's either “very or somewhat important to give gifts at Christmas” while only 39% said it was “very or somewhat important to receive gifts.”

This is the cool thing about holiday lights and exterior decorations too. People aren't putting them up solely for their own sakes; they're something everyone can enjoy. I think this is pretty much what Bubbles was trying to get across to Julian and Ricky about the bonfire in Trailer Park Boys. Christmas isn't about stealing fur coats and evergreen trees; it's about stopping to light the bonfire or look at the lights or whatever...Something like that anyway—I don't have Bubbles' eloquence!
As a big fan of 1971's The Omega Man I was so hoping I Am Legend (based on the same source material, a sci-fi novella by Richard Matheson) would live up to its tantalizing Will Smith as last uninfected man left in New York trailer.

Happily, I Am Legend is more than a great trailer. If you like horror movies whose chief aim is to fill you with dread (rather than simply populating the screen with high body counts and/or extreme gore) I Am Legend is one for you to sink into with the lights off and the biggest screen possible in front of you. Like in 28 Days Later, the infected are swift and brutal. They live in hives, in darkness, unable to survive for longer than a moment under the sun's rays and yes, they're plenty scary but the dread of them might just be as bad as the infected themselves.

Will Smith rules NY by day but the nights are long and howling and even the daylight hours are tinged with loneliness and fear of shadows. One of the coolest things about I Am Legend is that Will Smith plays Robert Neville not strictly as an action hero but as a living, breathing human being forced to deal with the aftermath of a cure for cancer gone horribly wrong. If you saw The Pursuit of Happiness you won't be surprised by how good he is here as a man backed into a different kind of corner. My heart was racing the entire time but I couldn't take my eyes off him.

Some of the rock music from August Rush reminds me of The Frames, which in my book is a good thing. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers does a great job with the vocals in his turn as an Irish guitarist who falls for cellist Keri Russell. Have a listen:

This Time

I just got back from my birthday trip to Montreal and one of my presents was this Beatles lunchbox, which is definitely coming to the office with me tomorrow!
Beatles lunchbox

Montreal is so picturesque that at first you almost don't mind the cold...and then you start searching for RESO signs so you can make like a mole person. Still, Montreal does winter so convincingly well that ultimately I felt like Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day when he says, “I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.”

On snowy Montreal stairs
Winston Churchill pub, Crescent Street
Intersection Saint Catherine and McGill College
Marie Reine Du Monde
Notre Dame
Notre Dame, old Montreal
Notre Dame

rue Saint-Denis artwork

Skating at Atrium le 1000
McGill college

Christmas wreath going up, old Montreal
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