Author

Michael Bacal

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The brief literary history of a cocktail: The Gin and Tonic

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Like the Mint Julep, the Gin and Tonic is of unusual provenance. Similarly born out of a unique historical conjuncture of East and West, the seemingly timeless combination of gin, lime, sugar, and tonic water came into being almost by pure chance, at the intersections of colonialism, modern medicine and, well, boredom. The now famous drink was invented by a group of British soldiers stationed in...

A brief literary history of cocktails: The Mint Julep

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Since the time of Homeric libation rituals and Plato’s wine-soaked Dionysian revels, alcohol has been an abiding fixture in the works and lives of many of our greatest writers, poets and philosophers. Their liquid inspiration and sustenance—to say nothing of ruin—has played a surprisingly major role in the development of literary history. Our new series of posts will explore both famous and...

TRB’s Recap of Recaps: 2011 in Review

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Along with a rousing chorus of debate, complaint, oneupmanship, celebration, a riot of hyperbole, and swells of self-congratulation and dismissal, the year’s end brings an avalanche of collective re-evaluation, listification and the general ordering of things that have transpired since the first of January. Rather than add another voice to the already bloated collection of reflections on...

Recommended Reading: “Occupy” Two Months On

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As you well know by now, the Occupy protests have been going on for two months now, gaining considerable media attention across the world and significantly altering the public conversation about life in the post-financial-crisis West. As you probably also know by now, over the last week, protesters in many cities — most notably New York, Oakland, London and now Toronto — have finally...

“The Normal Heart” At Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

For a brief period of time, Larry Kramer was known as the angriest gay man on the planet. The Normal Heart, his molotov cocktail of a play about AIDS in New York in the early 1980s, was angrily hurled in the face of theatregoers in Manhattan as the disease was silently ravaging thousands of people — not just male or gay or New Yorkers — who had no idea what was happening or why. A queer classic...

Recommended Reading: Tumescent Toronto, or a City on the Wane?

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Pardon the phallic poke of the title, but it seems appropriate given our city’s most recognizable symbol, as well as the figurative casting of at least a year’s worth of spirited debate over whether Toronto is, indeed, a rising international cosmopolis swollen by its own throbbing vibrancy or is, instead, a wilting force marred by consistent governmental missteps, growing economic...

Recommended Reading: On Tomas Tranströmer, Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize For Literature

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None of the American literary heavyweights won it, and neither did an Arab writer, though many thought the prize committee would make a nod to the Arab Spring. Bob Dylan didn’t win it either, even though he somehow had the best odds the night before. Instead, the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature went to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who was recognized for the ways his “condensed...

Recommended Reading: On Occupy Wall Street

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As the two and a half week old occupation of Wall Street continues to gain steam and media attention, a similar protest is rumoured to be coming to Bay Street in Toronto. There have already been hundreds of arrests in New York, an excessive use of police force, and divisive and confusing media coverage of the events—all unpleasant reminders of the Toronto G20 summit last year. In anticipation of...