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Joe McKay - Top ten games I played this year.
(Board games, video games, casual and intense I threw them all in together so they are in no particular order.)


A resource management board game built around the super exciting world of 17th century dirt farming. If you're really good, you might eventually make a carrot. It takes playing it a few few times before you begin to form a strategy, but the game is deep and balanced and fricking fun. Plus the joy of putting your newborn child to work in the field is very cathartic.

duc de Berry Book of Hours - June

Cosmic Encounters (2008 edition)

Technically not a new game, but the rerelease of this classic board game finally gets the details right. Flares? check. 50 powers? check. attack 40? check. Technology (WTF?). check. My favorite part of CE is the fact that players can collaborate for a win. So you may have a super power, but if everyone teams up against you, you're fucked. Pure crazy gameplay joy - you're never out of a game of CE.

[OK, the Delville painting of Satan isn't really in Cosmic Encounters' interface, and neither is the Book of Hours in the interface

Race for the Galaxy

From the creator of Puerto Rico, this card based game is a sea of indecipherable icons and rules. But if you spend the time it's deep and fun, even if (ahem) you always lose (except for that one time you played the military strategy and you drew all the cards you needed in just the right order).

race for the galaxy

Little Big Planet

A reason to get a PS3? Not quite, but if you're looking for a next gen system it should tip the balance towards the sony machine. It's the natural progression of mario style side scrolling platformer. And user created levels will ensure extra hours of gameplay. Trust me, it's really really fun even if it looks childish. [as opposed to very adult like the new improved version of Cosmic Encounters that I'm pitching - L.M.]

Fantastic Contraption

You will know by the end of the 20 demo levels weather this physics puzzle game is for you. For me it was hours and hours (and hours) of fun, but attempts to addict like minded game players has been met with mixed results, in spite of it being the best flash game since Desktop Tower Defense. User created levels ensure more late night you-should-really-go-to-bed fun than you can handle.

fantastic contraption

Gears of War 2

Stupid stupid stupid stupid Xbox 360 3rd person shooter. Stupid. Fun? Sir, yes sir!

[Joe mentioned that this comercial oversold the game, hell, it made me want to join the military, kill things, feel bad, kill more,
come home with PTSD, kill things at home. Kill kill killl, and to a very nice song. - L.M.]


Light cycles done right - finally! This game may require homework that involves watching Tron again (best Disney movie ever). BTW, you suck compared to me, guaranteed.


Cash n Guns

Any game that includes six orange foam handguns has to be fun. This is easy to learn and fun to play party game is the funest way to kill your friends this side of Mafia (werewolf to some). On a count of three everyone points their gun at someone in a massive Mexican standoff. It's actually kinda scary. Then on a count of three everyone has a chance to put down their weapon, wusssing out. Then cards are revealed. Was your gun even loaded? It's like a giant 6-way scissor paper stone game, with guns.



I love this game for two reasons. 1 it's fun and 2 I've only played with Americans who wouldn't know a Crokinole board from a curling rink. Yes this racing game utilizes the awesome game dynamic of flicking little wooden disks, a skill I mastered as a youth and have long assumed was generally wasted as an adult. In short, I rule this fucking game and fear only my mother (Crokinole wizard).


I made this. you play this. we are enemies

simple gameplay, but ya gotta love the messy style. Game are always so bloody clean looking, no? Saying more will spoil it, just give it a shot.


- L.M. 12-19-2008 5:05 pm [link] [5 comments]

Tonik Wojtyra's Top Ten List

1. Gifts by Artists at Art Metropole - Lots of work has sold out or it's well on it's way to selling out but it's up until January 10 2009, if you've slept on it thus far.

Miles Collyer & Tonik Wojtyra Granola by Artists 2008 500 grams for only $10.00

2. Jonathan Meese at GPCA. Was it the best painting show in 2008 in Toronto? Well second best but a delightful show just as well.

Jonathan Meese DON MASOSCHISSILI 2007 Oil on canvas 24 x 18,40 x 2 cm/ 9 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 0 3/4 in

3. Piotr Uklanski, BIALO CZERWONA at Gagosian, NYC. Jak sie masz?


4. Tino Sehgal podcast at Magasin 3, Stockholm recorded March 6. 2008 - It's not exactly easy listening but it's smart like heaven on earth. Artist talk by Tino Sehgal, March 6, 2008. Duration: 64 min. Language: English. A conversation between Tino Sehgal and Richard Julin, chief curator at Magasin 3.

5. Le Silence de Lorna, Dardenne Brothers at TIFF. Lorna appears in every scene of this wonderful and intense story.

6. The new MacBook Pro from Apple - Like a Harvey's hamburger: A beautiful thing.

7. Despite all odds, Damien Hirst trumps, as Lehman Brothers dumps. If you can't appreciate that, your whole perspective is wack.

8. Paul Butler at MKG127 lambasting Canadian Art's coverage of Toronto's art scene in his type tight Toronto Now Suite. Pull up your sockSSSSS bitches!

Paul Butler Toronto Now Suite 2008 detail, archival tape on magazine pages

9. Season 5, The Wire. Sad sad sad Baltimore!


10. Michael Phelps' 8 gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. Baltimore homeboy Phelps has more Olympic gold medals than all of us; 14 if you wanna get technical, plus 2 bronzes from 2004. Eat that.


- L.M. 12-18-2008 10:54 pm [link] [1 ref] [10 comments]


R.M Vaughan's Top Ten of 2008

1) The Whole Jacob Scheier Mess


Jacob Scheier is this year's winner of the Governor General's Award for Poetry. He is not even 30, and his book, More To Keep Us Warm, is his first. Normally, a breakthrough such as this is cause for celebration, the CanLit scene being the stodgy old fartsack it is. But because Mr. Scheier was close friends with two of the jurors (both senior poets who were close friends with his late mother, the poet Libby Scheier) and because he is a sometime collaborator with the juror Di Brandt, his award has been poisoned by accusations of cronyism and nepotism. Why is this so wonderful (for me, not for Mr. Scheier, nor for his editor, Michael Holmes, my good friend and also often my editor)? Because it made people talk about poetry, and made people mad about poetry, and made people value poetry (even if it was just for the sake of scandal). I have now officially lived long enough.

[update from R.M.:

"Since my posting, I have learned that some of the information I collected about Jacob Scheier, from various media sources, was incorrect -- namely, while he and his mother were both well acquainted with one of the jurors, Mr. Di Cicco, neither he nor his mother could be considered a "close friend" of said gentleman. Mr. Di Cicco did, however, blurb Mr. Scheier's award-winning book, and perhaps that is why they have been depicted as "close friends".

In the world of poetry, a switchblade jungle if there ever was one, you can count your real friends on one hand."

2) The Return of Feudalism


We do not currently have a functioning federal government, because the nice lady appointed to represent Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (who owes her glistening thrown entirely to heredity), agreed to shut down Parliament. For an opposition, we have a newly minted leader who is the descendant, within grandparent range, of White Russian counts and princesses. By this time next year, the Senate will be declared The House of Lords and we will have to give over all our best wheat and game to our local Boyars, or be buried in mud up to our necks and have our children sold to Ottoman slave traders. The return of the tunic, however, and mead-based drinks, not to mention bleeding cures, will be a boon to us fatties.

3) OMG! Britney!!!!!!


Britney's "comeback" would be remarkable (not everyone can go full mental and then make a hit record - just ask Whitney Houston) if not for the fact that Britney Never Went Away. Her last record was a hit. She was on the news practically every damned day in 2008. What constitutes a comeback now - getting up in the morning? By these low standards of media peak-and-valleyism, Patrick Swayze is enjoying a comeback by getting cancer. I am having a comeback simply by writing this Top Ten list. Did you make a phone call today, or buy some socks? Bitch, you are So, So Back!

4) Bernie Mac

Best dead person of 2008. Elizabeth Taylor continues to disappoint.

5) Team Macho


I do not trust these fake gays and fake outsider artists any farther than I could roll them up a hill. It's all so calculated, that "doodling in my notebook in grade 9" look, so Vice Magazine, circa 2003. The only consolation comes from knowing that one or two of them will inevitably move to Berlin or New York in the next year, have a (fake) affair with AA Bronson, become very rich, and then fuck over the rest of the team. There is nothing new under the sun, or on the walls.

6) RRSP Cash Outs

Retirement rumours have been swirling all year around Toronto's grand old men of art writing - Peter Godard and Gary Michael Dault. Personally, I would miss them both. But then, I'm a poet (this year, at least). The saddest thing about these possible career conclusions is that Toronto, Canada's true art powerhouse, only has two full-time art critics in the first place. I am taking bets both for and against the assumption that either or both will be replaced by new writers, it being a 50/50 proposition. We need a new Lola. And speaking of which ….

7) Hunter And Cook Magazine

Jay Isaac and his band of merry drunks launched the first viable Toronto art mag to come along since, well, Lola. H&C is gorgeously produced, packed with colour and glossy artists' projects, and even has some words in it. Words you actually want to read, not shred for hamster litter. If H&C makes it to three solid issues, they'll have done more for Toronto art than mainstream media have done in the last 5 years.

8) Iceland


I went to Iceland in October and it was just delightful. Imagine Newfoundland run by Manitobans - Manitobans who eat rotted shark meat and tell long, windy stories about giants, elves, giant elves, and rough sex. Nicest folks in the world. And their economy is even more fucked than ours! We really should just adopt them.

9) AGO Transformation

douglas fir at AGO
Blingee by Sallee

Ok, it's not as bad as I expected. But, I will say this: like a lot of international superstar zillionaire architects, Frank Gehry has obviously not stuck his hand in a bucket of soapy water in a long, long time. That window - that wondrously, achingly arched convexity, that dancer's-bare-foot-in-feline-flight captured in glass - is already filthy fucking dirty. Have you ever been to the basement of the Eaton Centre, where the giant prism fountain sits, unloved? It is yellow-brown with spores and grime, from decades of contact with the unwashed and Toronto tap water. The future is dusty.

10) My Book

His Book

I had a book published in May, and people are buying it and the media loves it (not that I read things written about myself, but I hear things) and, well, if P. Diddy can give a party a week for himself, I can give myself one miserable paragraph a year. I rock. Haters go home.

- L.M. 12-18-2008 6:13 am [link] [5 comments]


I'm on the board at Art Metropole, and I want to make a plug: Christmas shopping at Art Metropole does not suck. It's affordable, and you can get good stuff. Art Metropole's Gifts By Artists show and sale is on until January 10. There are also lots of great artists books and art books, dvds, and multiples that are not part of the special show. The people are nice and friendly and they don't play carols in the store. Your money helps Art Metropole publish and disseminate works by artists locally and internationally.

Art Metropole
788 King Street West 2nd Floor, Toronto, Canada M5V 1N6
T 416.703.4400 F 416.703.4404
Wednesday - Saturday 11 AM - 6 PM

shop online at

- sally mckay 12-17-2008 9:14 pm [link] [2 comments]

Anthony Easton's Top Ten Aesthetic Events 2008 (we have to start with Anthony)

1) Paragon: New Abstract Art from the Albright Knox (U of T:Scarborough Campus) Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976 (Jewish Musuem of New York)

SUE WILLIAMS Blue Foot, Red Shoe 1997

I like to think of this as a before and after, the show at the Jewish Museum about the triumph of Representative over Abstract, and the Knox show about how abstraction still eats pure aesthetics like a zombie eats brains. (plus, both made a concerted effort to include women including Anne Truitt, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell at the Jewish museum, and Sue Williams, Karin Davie, Mariko Mori, and others at the Knox show)

2) Kenneth Noland

Via Ember 1968

My favourite living painter, and this year I saw a dozen examples of his best work, not only a couple at the usual places in Edmonton, but 4 at the Abstract show at the Jewish Museum, one of his chevron stained paintings next to NE Thing's velvet ribbon riff on it at the AGO, and the joyous, cosmically humming 20 foot long stripe painting from 1967 to 1970. Can we please have a decent retrospective , please?

3) Cloverfield

Still from Cloverfield, JJ Abrams

The first movie of the millennia that actually understands the new lo-fi aesthetics of terror.

4) Lee Friedlander SF:MoMA

Lee Friedlander Mount Rushmore 1969

Extensive survey, made me more aware of how artless and how sophisticated that artlessness was, the casual over crowded frames, the lack of one focus point, and the oblique angles all contained in these exquisitely printed 8x10 silver gelatins.

5) Dustin The Turkey, Ireland's Eurovision for 2008.

The reducto-ad-absurdum of self constructed, highly ironic, meta-contextual pisstaking.

6) Courbet Hunting Scene, 186?, Met


I missed the big Courbet retrospective, sadly, but this painting was so dark and brooding that the mood made you realize the pile up of dead animals in the lower right corner. About ownership, and possession, violence, and the thantos/eros link, plus painted with the usual precision.

7) Chardin The Governess, 1739, at the National Gallery, Ottawa


Its like one of those games that you play to keep from being bored when you are a child—how many variations of gray and brown can you find in this canvas (for the record I found more then 20)

8) Sir Joshua Reynolds Selina, Lady Skipworth at the Frick


Because it seems to be one beginning of a impressionistic, emotionally relevant project, because I have a thing for the high class and bored, bored, because the grey on grey tones, with the dress, and the silver hair and the sallow skin, all of these are formal, I kept looking at it, and it shocked me how much it stayed with me. I like being reminded to look at something I previously dismissed.

9) Alison Schulink's Landscape of Niagara Falls, and Portrait of a Monkey, Mike Weiss, New York


I know this list is so painting heavy, which must mean something, and it is already hyper conventional, with a bunch of museum shows and the like, and these two ugly on purpose, good bad paintings, have nothing really new to say, and I cannot exactly say why I like them, the paint handling is good, the colours are garish enough to be interesting, I have not found a painting of either Niagara Falls or monkies I hated, they are ballsy, and not schmaltzy, and have an energy missing in other painters of her generation, etc etc, but at the end of the day, how they confound me, how I still think of them as something I like, and something I am confused by liking, is worthy of having them on the list.

10) Mad Men


Because every good girl has got to love a psychopath.

- L.M. 12-17-2008 5:33 am [link] [1 ref] [8 comments]


This site is blocked in the UAE. Image courtesy of Janet Bellotto, who is currently teaching in Dubai.

However, Anthony "fellate a Jehova's Witness on your doorstep today" Easton's site is not blocked by the UAE.

- L.M. 12-16-2008 5:38 am [link] [1 ref] [7 comments]