Category Archives: Toronto

Long day

july 9

 

My feet are tired and my face hurts.

The feet are sore from all the mileage that Keith and I put in around downtown today as we walked between venues at the Toronto Fringe Festival. See those six gaps in the FitBit activity log? Those represent the six shows we saw in one day. All but one was very funny, and even the one that wasn’t very funny was still pretty funny. Which is why my face hurts.

We laughed. A lot.

More tomorrow, as right now all I want to do is drink the beer that is included in the above MFP log before I fall asleep.

Grocery store sushi

Grocery store sushi only sounds like a good idea, until it isn’t.

Honestly, I should know better, but I was at work and could not look at another crappy 5 Guys burger or crappy Tim Horton’s sandwich. The sushi tasted good at the time, but let’s just say that there is not one area of my gastro-intestinal system that is currently happy with my good idea at the time.

The plus side is that I do not feel like my usual late night snacking. There will be NO PROBLEM keeping under my allotted calorie limit today.

Sharp contrast to yesterday when all I really did was snack. Actually, I’m going to use the term graze. It just sounds nicer. Oh, and drank. Brian and Stacie, friends from Atlanta, are in Toronto being tourists so I met up with them in the evening and went through some of the $5 Sunday pint menu at BarHop. I am both sad and happy that I do not live closer to BarHop.

I hit the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square before meeting them to scope out all the lovely creative pieces I cannot afford. There was the usual same-old-same-old (oh, look, another painting of the Great Canadian Shield done in the style of one of the Group of Seven), but there were some truly spectacular artists that piqued my interest.

One is Becca Wallace who does some great photography with old toys (robots!!). I showed Keith some of her work, and we’re going to commission her to shoot some of our old childhood toys in the same fashion.

Another artist I spoke to for a while was Blair McKean who does scorched wood art – think kid’s woodburning kit all grown up.

But the one exhibitor that really fried my noodle were these wire work sculptures by James Paterson. Words fail to express how full of delight they are.

Yes, I know it’s sideways. Believe when I say it will be easier for you to tilt your head for five seconds than it will be for me to remain seated long enough to find and apply a fix. Someday I will learn to rotate my phone 90 degrees.

It’s pretty nifty though, eh?

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And before I forget, here’s my tracking for the last two days.

Yesterday:

july 6

 

And today:

July 7

 

Now I’m off to bed in the hopes that the Imodium and Gravol I’ve taken start working soon. Fucking grocery store sushi.

Go Downtown to See The Bowie Exhibit At The AGO and Then Go To The Ballet Day

So glad I tore through a big chunk of my crap-to-do list before taking myself out. I don’t think I would have enjoyed my outing so much if I’d still had a bunch of things still hanging over my head.

I didn’t get to see the Bowie exhibit though. It was the second last day, and I could tell by how busy the ticket desks were that it was going to be packed. I decided to take a pass since 1) I’m not a fan of crowds and 2) I’ve already seen it. I was getting my general admission ticket at the member’s desk when the nice man asked me if I wanted to see the new Guggenheim exhibit that opens on Saturday. Yes, please! Membership does have it’s perks.

There was much there that I liked. I spent a lot of time in front of Red Eiffel Tower by Delaunay and View From a Paris Window by Chagall. There were pieces by Kandinsky and Mondrian that I think I have to go back to.

I am however, still filled with meh at Picasso. Perhaps I just haven’t seen the right piece yet.

I visited my usuals; the Draped Seated Woman sculpture by Henry Moore (reminds me of the orbiting giants from MirrorMask) and Lake Superior III by Lawren Harris, then went for a surprisingly good coffee in the member’s lounge and got some writing done.

Gehry staircase, Draped Woman Seated, and Lake Superior III

Gehry staircase, Draped Seated Woman, & Lake Superior III

I wandered down to Chapters and killed some time until doors opened at the Four Seasons Centre. I went to the ballet talk, which was interesting but a bit much in spots.

The show was called Innovation, and had four short pieces. All were good, but the second one called Being and Nothingness (Part 1), a 7-minute solo set to Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis, was by far the most moving IMHO.

The view from Ring 5

The view from Ring 5

 

The Gladstone Hotel

I headed to the Toronto Indie Arts Market today to check out some of the wares. As anticipated, I did buy anything for Christmas presents. I did however buy some great hand-made beer soap and a wallet from brewersCRAP, a company that recycles  brewing materials – the wallet is made from an old malt bag, and the soap has spent grain in it as an exfoliant. Can’t wait to use it.

I also got to meet Sheryl Kirby, who I have twittered and emailed back and forth with. She’s one of the driving forces behind Beer and Buttertarts, the new food zine that bought one of my memoir pieces. She had a proof copy of the initial issue; it felt slightly surreal but incredible to hold the tangible piece and to see my name in print on page 26.

Photo Nov 09, 11 33 29 AM

One of the most interesting things about the Indie Arts Market was the venue. The Gladstone Hotel was built in the late 1800′s and has been in continuous operation every since.

Like many hotels, it’s seen it’s share of hard times. I used to deliver Meals on Wheels there in the 80′s, and always hated going in. It was basically a flop house by this point with all the smells and disrepair that go with that designation. The old gentleman I delivered to had a room on the third floor, and was blind as a result of complications due to diabetes. He had been a musician with one of the more famous big bands in the forties and fifties and had drank his money and his health away. He was lonely, and wanted to talk. I would have loved to stay and talk with him, but the strong smell of old urine and black mould made my eyes water and I always beat as hasty retreat as I could back down the wide wooden stairs. I lived in the neighbourhood and occasionally would join some of the other old guys int he cowboy bar for nickel draft. Not because I liked the bar or the cowboy music or the beer, but the price was right.

I knew the place had been bought and had undergone major renovations. The company that bought it had renovated other old buildings, but this was the first that still had residents in it. There was a documentary made about this period, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel that is “… a riveting and extraordinary human portrait of the effects of urban renewal upon the poor and the unintentional roles artists play in the process of gentrification.” I’m going to watch the full version this week.

Now the place is lovely. The manually-operated Victorian elevator has been fully restored – the brass glints as it slides slowly between floors. Each room is unique, designed by local artists. There are permanent and temporary art installations in the lobby, the stairwell and other public spaces, and original features like wood floors and trim, brass fixtures and wooden columns have been wonderfully restored.

Photo Nov 09, 10 15 05 PM

It really is visually lovely, and I enjoyed comparing it to my memories while I talked with the artisans at the Indie Arts Market. But frankly, the smug hipsters at the check-in desk annoyed me, and the smug well-to-do moms seemed to make a job of blocking my way with their SUV strollers, and good lord man, where the hell did you find plaid skinny pants that clashed so horribly with that slightly-too-small plaid jacket, all put so artfully together with that fedora to look just so?

It’s just not my aesthetic. I’m more a run-down bar with old guys and cheap draft kind of girl in the end.

what the what?

What job can you hold where it possible to lie, get caught in the lie, make a new lie, get caught in that, (lather rinse repeat), utter sexist, racist and homophobic remarks, drive while reading, hang out with drug dealers, do drugs, show up hammered for work (when you show up at all), and not get charged with anything, not have to quit or resign or get fired (or at least not fired yet)?

Apparently Rob Ford’s job.

Words fail to express my contempt for that man and his brother.

I watched his afternoon press conference, and what RoFo said was so absurd in places that it made even the jaded media laugh. Which is appropriate, as he has made this city a laughingstock.

 

Adventures in public transit

I went to the Learn2Brew event put on by the SOBs (Southern Ontario Brewers). It wasn’t far from my apartment; I could walk it in 20 minutes on a nice day.

But it wasn’t  a nice day. It was cold and grey and rainy. So I decided to take The Better Way.

Honestly, I should have known better. It took me 35 minutes to get there, and close to 40 to get back. Of COURSE I would *just* miss the bus then have to wait for another one.

I ended up being wet and cold anyway. It has just strengthened my resolve not to go outside until sometime Monday or whenever it stops raining. Whatever happens first.

And the beat goes crashing, all along the way*

It’s rare when a band I’ve liked for a while comes to town. Mostly because the bands have broken up long ago and/or key members are dead.  But also because my tastes have changed, and there just aren’t that many bands from then that I still like to listen to now.

Simple Minds is one of those bands. And they are still touring and playing.

I still have my first Simple Minds album I bought, Life In A Day. According to the fine print on the back of it, it was released in 1979. I was seventeen. It only seems like a really long time ago if I do the math. So I won’t. I have all of their albums, even the crappy one I don’t like very much. What I don’t have is the single with that song from the Breakfast Club that I loathe.

I’ve only ever seen them once before, in 1984 when I was working at a bar and dating a DJ at the Toronto alternative station. I was quite surprised to find I still had my ticket from that show.

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I didn’t even know they were touring until a rare phone call from Jeany, when she asked if I wanted a ticket. I think my answer was, oh hell yes!

It was a great show. The band played like they loved being there and the audience responded. You could practically see the energy spiral from band to crowd and back again, flowing up to crash against Massey Hall’s domed roof to spill back down. Massey Hall is a soft-seater venue, but no one was sitting after the first few bars of the second song, Waterfront. I was dancing in the aisle for the rest of the show, a feat my knees reminded me of for the next few days every time I got out of a chair. Whatever. That’s what Aleve is for. It was worth it to dance again to I Travel.

Jim Kerr talked to the audience between just about every song, saying that he hoped we didn’t mind but they “were from Glasgow; we’re a bit chatty”. No, we didn’t mind at all.

They played two sets and an encore in a show that lasted two and a half hours. I have no idea where the time went. It seemed like they just got going when their walk-out music, Jean Jeanie by David Bowie, came up. No one in the audience left – I think we were all hoping we could get another encore. Jim Kerr didn’t seem to want to leave either; he walked off much slower than the rest of band, leading the crowd in an impromptu Jean Jeanie sing-a-long. He looked rueful as he waved his last wave and finally walked off the stage.

And that’s my new definition of a good show – one so energetic and engaging that even the performers don’t want to leave.

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*this line from New Gold Dream has been stuck in my head for 4 days now. I’m ok with that; I’ve had worse songs stuck in my head.

Fringe, day 2, 3 and 4

Draft clean-up day part 1: I started writing this July 5th.

The rest of the Fringe Festival passed in a bit of a blur. In fact, I can no longer remember what we saw when, so here’s an alphabetical list because I am too lazy to look it up on fringetoronto.com and too fastidious to go through the garbage for the ticket stubs and program guide.

2 For Tea
Odd. Surreal. Funny. Clever. Equal parts Monty Python’s silly walks, physical comedy, audience participation and tea party.

Battle of the Bastards
We had pre-bought tickets to see this one late one night, but we bailed after a day of walking and 3 other shows. Luckily, we were able to get in to an afternoon show later in the week. One New Zealander performing several parts from Shakespeare’s King Lear – such was his talent that I was only slightly confused once.

Hip! Bang! Improv
There was only the loosest of story lines hanging all of the bits together, but alas, they never really explained why one character was dressed as a Mountie and the other as a polar bear. Lots of very funny lines (“I cheated on my Jewish ethics test”…maybe you had to be there), but some serious technical difficulties in getting a laptop to talk to the projector just made me annoyed by the end.

I Hired a Contract Killer
I think this one had to be one of the smoothest, well-rehearsed show we saw, with one of the biggest casts. Definitely worth the $10 just to see them make a believable oven for a suicide scene.

Jem Rolls Attacks The Silence
Jem is so good at word play and spoken word performance, that we saw him twice. Too many lines, too many laughs. There’s a reason he won one of the Patron’s Picks awards.

Play Actually – a non rom com
Were they still working out the kinks on this show, or was it a well-rehearsed play made to look like they were still working out the kinks? A mostly funny take on love and dating in the modern age. I may never get the image of sex toy fellatio out of my head.

Teaching Hamlet
Very funny two-man show about an idealist hiring an actor. Hijinks ensue.

Twisted Beats and Circus Freaks
There had to be one show that seemed like a mishmash of bizzarro. This was it. A clown who played with thrift store toys while rapping could have been interesting if I could have heard what he was saying/singing – thanks audio guy for making that impossible. The lovely lady on the flying trapeze was, well, lovely. But it didn’t seem to fit together that well. Based on the laughs from the  rest of the audience, especially from the kids, it could be that I’m just too old to grok that one *shrug.

Fringe, day 1

It’s Fringe Festival time here in Toronto, and we have gone one step further than last year and bought our tickets in advance. Nine shows in four days. My brain might asplode by Saturday.

1. Morro and Jasp: Go Bake Yourself.

We wanted to see this pair of clowns (literally) last year, but waited too long. By the time we went to one of the later shows, the line up snaked down the sidewalk and we correctly assumed it would be sold out before we even got close. Last night we found out why. The recipe for funny is two clowns in a church basement kitchen making pie and a Super Sexy Seductive Souffle.

2. It’s Always You

A musical where we look at the relationship of a love triangle over infinite realities at 4:03. The actors are experienced, all three have had decent gigs on CBC and in theatre. I suggested it because I’d taught the junior actor who had graduated from my former employer four years ago.

Seriously, she was the best part of it.