Sunday, September 7, 2014

FAN EXPO 2014: IF IT'S FRIDAY, YOU MUST BE POKEMAN

As stated in my previous post, the end of summer in Toronto means it's C.N.E. time; jet planes, Superdogs and carnival games

But it also means Fan Expo time: X wing fighter planes, superheroes and video games.



Fan Expo is an increasingly massive event that fills both halls of the enormous Metro Covention Centre and runs for four days (well three and a half) Normally I go for only one of those days. It gives me an opportunity to buy some graphic novels, some video games, maybe some anime and lately, sit in on some workshops as I continue to try to delve into the world of graphic novel creation.

This year I went for every day of the Expo. Every freaking day. All together, about 30 hours. Thirty freaking hours. Yeh. You know. I ain't as young as these people


I did attend a couple of writing/publishing/promotions workshops but those were not my main emphasis this year. This year I went to make a video. I always smack together a little music video from the show, and I have done that, as you can see below. But I also wanted to make a different kind of video. Fan Expo attracts something in the area of half a million people over its three days. Many of them, like myself, come for the entire run of the show. I've seen these people, I've bumped into these people, I've taken their pictures


Fan Expo is a cross platform fan experience. Comics, anime, sci fi, horror .. as it is billed. People come to meet their idols in all these genres, to cosplay, to express themselves and whatever world it is that they love.


So I conducted a bunch of interviews of people, you will see a bit of that in the video below, and I followed a girl on her first Fan Expo experience. She is a different kind of girl, she was after a different kind of experience, but she did it in costume, with Spiderman, so who am I to complain


For any of those interested, I'm documenting the process of making this video on my other blog, Idiot With A Camera And no, for those wondering, it will not have any Power Rangers in it


The experience was exhausting for me but a lot of fun. I enjoyed the workshops and I enjoyed the filming; I did not shop as much but that is better for my wallet I suppose. I was more in work mode for the weekend and I sort of missed my "fan experience" But I got to watch many others enjoy their own




I don't know if I'd do the four days again, not if I was not making a film. I think two days would be perfect, if I could cram a bunch of workshops and networking into a day and another day to wander around, buy some shit, meet some people shoot some video for fun. Still, it was an interesting experience and I got to see some things that I never have before. It was exhausting but it's always nice to know that if I got into trouble, I had lots of people who could help me out .. or make it worse ... at Fan Expo, you never know



So, here's the video, mostly the usual music video but a little preview (sort of) of what is yet to come

Fan Expo Toronto 2014 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

C.N.E. PART TWO

This post will combine our second and third days at the Canadian National Exhibtion


These were both what you could "event" days in that we went down to see certain events, or shows. Day Two was for the Superdogs Dog Show and an acrobatic show. Superdogs are a staple at the Ex, yes quite corny but it's dogs playing .. it's like me working, only I'm not


Mostly it's dogs doing an obstacle course and doing high jumping but there was a very special presentation, a remarkable dog trainer from Brazil and his eleven year old border collie


They do a dancing routine that, for me, is like the epitome of interaction and cooperation between an dog and its owner. They are quite flawless. The trainer sometimes uses hand gestures, other times just subtle movements of his body and the dog responds perfectly every time.


Border collies are all about their eyes. Anyone who has met Terra will know that. This dog never took his eyes off his owner, but it was more than just watching for cues. One of the traits of the BC is loyalty, it's why they work so hard for their shephard. This dog loved his owner, and loved being able to work and play with him. There was no denying.






After the dog show we were off to see the acrobatic show. This is becoming another tradition at the Ex, these little Cirque style shows but it tends to be a different one every year. This one was quite good and had some acts that I really hadn't seen before. It did begin with some familiar elements, like a man doing the floating crystal ball routine which we saw a couple of times at Buskerfest


Another thing we've seen before is tumblers on giant bungee chords but these guys did it on the masts of a boat


What I have never before seen was how the ball floater used lasers. He started out with some interesting yet obvious manipulations. Seeming to spawn the lasers out of his hands and pushing them around on the stage


But then he did something unexpected. He took a couple of the laser beams, seemed to tear them off and began swinging them around like asian fighting staffs. It was quite extraordinary. They were lasers, no doubt about that, but he made them seem entirely corporeal and solid. I'm not sure exactly how he did but like all good illusions, I probably don't want to know


The other highlight of the show was a young woman who played a peculiar kind of creature. Actually this woman is indeed a peculiar kind of creature. She was a contortionist, one who could do extraordinary things with her body and use that body and her facial expressions to create moments of pure whimsy


Her body control was amazing. She could do all the obvious stuff like putting her legs over her head but she could rotate her ankles 360 degrees, along with her hands at the same time, while all her limbs seem pulled through all her other limbs. It was more than just her incredible body control, it was her playfulness and just plain goofiness that helped to transform her into a fey, mischievous creature



Not so fey but equally impressive are the airplanes and pilots of the Toronto International Airshow. That was our focus on our third and final day at the Ex. Normally we would sit in the grandstands on the channel across from Ontario Place but that was a little difficult on Monday .. that area has been shut down. Seems my local politicians, while they were dealing with the cocaine addiction and trying to change the lyrics of  the national anthem, allowed the quay to fall into disrepair to the point where now it has to be completely removed. So, over to Ontario Place we went


The Air Show is one of the those CNE changes that remains true to its heart with only minor changes. One new thing was the above biplane, a Russian craft listed as the largest single engine biplane on Earth. If you live on the taiga in Russian, this is your mode of transport. It's nickname is the Siberian Schoolbus

Most of the regular players were there. That includes the Harvards, prop planes used as fighter trainers during World War II. I love these big planes, bright yellow and surprisingly graceful and instantly recognizable through the throaty drone of their engines




Of course it would not be the Air Show if you did not see the Snowbirds. Very traditional, no big surprises but always lovely to see, just the precision and, can I say this, delicacy of these pilots flying these little jet planes.





Another great day, or couple of days, at the Ex. It all goes away, fall rolls end, winter slams us around, we wait and wait till summer, summer stumbles around, we try to live as much as possible for two months, we look forward once more to the Ex but that means fall is rolling in ...

Anyway, here's the video

Saturday, August 30, 2014

C.N.E. 2014 DAY ONE

End of the summer in Toronto: People dream of the end of road work, they scramble madly to catch the last rays of sunlight on a beer patio, they stare at the kids that have been around for two months and wondered why they ever loved them .. but really, the end of summer means the return of the Canadian National Exhibition


We plan three trips to the Ex year, and for the first time in many years we started to go opening day, or opening late afternoon, after I finished with the dogs. This would give us several hours to wander around and to take pics and video at the Ex after dark.

There were a few shows we wanted to see at the Ex this year but most of them had finished their final viewing of the day by the time we got there. We did, however, manage to catch the Flying Walendas who we also saw last year


The Walendas are a family troupe. This year they featured their newest member, a daughter in law. Yeh, here's a thought people: If you have a fear of heights, never marry anyone called Walenda.



Lately the Ex has been working hard on bringing in new things. Mostly, of course, these things have been very family oriented. This year they decided to do something specially for us so called grown ups. The Wild Whiskey Saloon, sponsored by Jack Daniels is, after 6 pm, adults only. It's a replica saloon, cheesey around the edges but it's a big airy tent with a patio, live country bands, pool tables, ribs and a mechanical bull .. yeh, I said it, mechanical bull




Another new feature and one that's fun for the kiddies (but who says a little Jack Daniels in the baby bottle isn't fun for the kiddies) is a little pop culture display, kind of like the Ex's very own mini Fan Expo .. very mini




One thing about the display that is not so mini is there Optimus Prime. Don't let the aforementioned kiddies too close to this big guy, he may be hungry






Back outside, the Ex is beautiful at night in the Vegas sort of way. I decided to hop on the Skyride which takes you along the midway, to take some video. Collette did not accompany. Those who know will not ask. Those who don't know .. well, don't ask anyway


After taping the lights of the Ex I caught up with Collette and we went up Princess Blvd to watch a light show that could she could actually enjoy







Nice to end our night with a bang .. and some pops, and a few explosions. More of the Ex to come

C.N.E. 2014 Day One from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EVEN MORE SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION

This weekend I will be attending Toronto's massive Fan Expo. I've been there before, nothing new

What will be new is the video project I have planned this year

I will posting about that project on my other blog:

Idiot With A Camera


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THE CITY, THE NIGHT, PAINTING WITH FIRE: BUSKERFEST 2014

A young man does something breath taking on a pole


A woman does something unexpected inside a giant wheel


Another woman dances in the night, lithe and fluid, surrounded by fire, the flames painting the darkness in gold and red


It could all be magic and perhaps it is. This past weekend, Buskerfest returned to the streets of Toronto. For several years they held this event around St Lawrence Market but for the past couple of years it has been on and around the downtown Yonge St. strip. We went down in the evening. We like fire shows and fire shows are often best appreciated in the dark


The first fire show we saw still had light. They were called Flame Oz. Because they had flames. And they are from Australia.


They were pretty good. They were one of the larger groups that we saw so they were able to put a lot of variety in their show. Even so, they had a couple tricks that were popular with other acts as well. We declared this the summer of the floating glass balls. Not only did we seem them from two different acts at Buskerfest, we also saw them use at the CNE about which I will blog later



Another popular act was the burning hula hoop. I can only speculate how this came about. One day in Hawaii a girl was enjoying her hula hoop and got a bit too close to the volcano? A warning for us all. But at Buskerfest, it was an entertaining, sometime amusing, sometimes beautiful endeavor.




The latter pic is one part of the two part team Canadian busker team called Kamikaze Fireflies. What the woman is doing, in that pic, is twirling five burning hoops, apparently a world record. They were one of my favorite acts of the night. They were not strictly a fire act; they did whips, balancing and the Russian wheel. The girl happily pointed out that the Russian wheel is an apparatus generally considered too difficult for a woman to use. Yeh, hear her roar, bitch


Her male partner did his own feat of derring do, building and then balancing upon a stack of five wooden chairs. Whereas many street performers sometimes underplay the danger of their acts, the Kamikaze, name aside, let us know just how difficult their stunts were and gosh, they just may not succeed ... but of course they always did


They used a lot a comedy in their act, varying from vaudeville to burlesque. As you will see in the video, a lot of their patter was tongue in cheek risque. And speeking of cheeks, they had an interesting variation on the guy using a whip to break something being held by a girl




Flame Oz had a kind of Vegas feel about them and Kamikaze Firefly were vaudeville. The other fire act that we saw was more goth and drama. Nomad Cirquel is a duo that uses some of the same props as the other acts: The gloating globe, flaming hoops etc. But their act is enfused with music and a high, if not sometimes misplaced, sense of drama

The guy was adept with weapons, using a whip, also used by Flame Oz and the Fireflies, as well as an asian pike. The girl had her flaming hoop and was very good with it, she brought an acrobatic grace to the device that some of the other performers did not. Yes, she is a flame dancer who is truly hot.What I found truly striking about this act was their pas de deux, a duet with and without flaming batons that exhibited a high degree of athletic ability and a sensual sense of form and body






The night was not all fire shows however. Walking by an alley we heard a sinuous enticing sound and found Dr Draw, a Jean Luc Ponty-style violinist of whom we are quite fond


There was also Reuben DotDotDot the aforementioned young man who did something spectacular with his pole .. settle down, he's not that kind of busker






Buskerfest is a huge event, spanning several days and a lot of downtown acerage. It's impossible to see everything but that in a sense is a good thing. Coz as they say in show biz, always leave em wanting more.
Toronto Buskerfest 2014 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.
Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites