Monday, July 25, 2016

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE FROGS NEED TO BE CHASED

This is not my first post about Springhaven Lodge, Collette's family's business and the place where she grew up. But it is the last. Springhaven Lodge was sold earlier this year and it is no longer the family business. It is Springhaven Landing, owned by an association of islanders in and around Nares Inlet.


I don't know if this is the last time we'll visit Springhaven, likely not. Members of Collette's family are renting cottages there (that's irony for you) and we have been offered the opportunity of renting as well. These offers are on the table for the next two years, what happens after that no one knows.

Collette and I went up there this past week to attend to some family issues about which I'll post later.

For the most part, things have not really changed. There is the beach and the Bay and bugs that take great joy in re-enacting the helicopter Ride of the Valkyrie scene from Apocalypse Now .. and we were Charlie's beach

None of that stopped the girls of course. The girls do what the girls do, which is play on the beach and play on the beach and play on the ... it's exhausting to think about. Look at these pics while I take a break and have a beer. Yeh, that's why I want a beer




When they weren't playing on the beach, Panda was being a ninja border collie and hiding in a way that no one could possibly see her. Yes, that's right, you can't see her. Go with her. It's good for her ego


Terra was not entirely impressed with the new system up there. She seemed to think that some home, or cottage, improvements were in order


Beyond doing her best Mike Holmes impression there was other work that Terra needed to take care of. That work, of course, was frogging. For that, you'll have to open the video at the bottom. While Terra was attempting to upset the biological balance of Nares Inlet, I took a quick spin into town, that town being Pointe au Baril.

As you can see, it's a quaint little place in the summer



But being a Northern Ontario community, it had another sort of quaintness as well. Or practicality, you decide


So the more things change ... I don't know what's to become of Springhaven and I'm not certain what our future will be there. But it's still a place we enjoy visiting and hey, it's where the frogs are at. So at least Terra will be back

Spring haven Lodge 2016 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

SEEKING GOLD, FINDING PYRITE: THE CONUNDRUM OF GOING FOR THE BELT

I am a fan of MMA. No, not Mummies Mugging Albanians, I mean Mixed Martial Arts. As in the UFC. But more than the UFC. I also watch Bellator, WSOF, RFA, Invicta (the all female fighting promotion) and yes I will have to admit in the middle of the night, half asleep not the couch I watch Pancrease, the weird Japanese (do we have to say weird when we say Japanese, isn't it just implied) hybrid wrestling promotion where I ask myself "Why am I watching this" yet I still do

Occasionally I try to watch kickboxing but I get disappointed when they don't take each other down so it's the "mixed" part of mixed martial arts that I enjoy

From time to time I've written here about mixed martial arts but it was more around it's road to becoming legal here in Ontario. I don't think I've ever written about particular fighters and specific matches but this weekend past saw three straight days of fight cards, a lot of fights, some degree of drama and many situations revolving around champions and I thought that perhaps I could use these fights to address larger issues

Or maybe I just wanted to write about fights. You can decide. Frankly, once I'm done with this thing I don't even look at it again.

Yeh, Vic, that's pretty obvious

Shut up

Anyway

So, three days, three cards, a shit load of fights, including several title fights. And almost title fights. And title fights that became something else. Yeh, it got confusing

Over the course of the crazy weekend, titles changed hands. Some expectantly, some not so much.

I'm not going to go through every fight blow by blow that would bore even me. But some interesting things happened around champions and championships. Of the three championship bouts only one of the champs maintained their title.

The lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos, lost his crown in his second title defence. He lost it to Eddie Alveraz, who has held title belts in every organization in which he has fought

The woman's bantamweight champ, Meisha Tate, lost her title in her very first title defence, to Amanda Nunes. Meisha had won the title from Holly Holms, during her first title defence. Holly won the belt from Ronda Roussey, who was the UFC's first female bantam champ; she earned that right by defeating ... Meisha Tate Before running into Holly, Ronda had defended her title six times

This past weekend the only champ who retained the belt was straweight champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk a insanely terrifying and fierce striker who could hold that belt for a very long time. But here weight division is new and she is the second champ in it

So, lots of belts changing hands. 

That's the way it goes in sports and in particular this sport. It's difficult to establish a legacy in a sport where, really, anyone can finish anyone

Also fighting on this card were two men who thought they had established their legacies. Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo had been champions for a long time. They were fighters who looked invulnerable. Silva is considered by many to be one of the greatest pro mama fighters of all time, so much that he even took fights outside his regular weight category and won those

Aldo came into the UFC as the Bantamweight champ with a win record that spanned ten years

All of that changed quickly for both men. Quick knock outs changed the fate of both men. Now they are working to be the champ again, to rebuild their legacy Can they?

Put Ronda Roussey in that category. She had looked invulnerable and a head kick later and a long lay off, not so much

There have been champs in this sport, in any sport, that have lost their legacy and regained it. Ali, of course, was a once and future champ. Now, after Ali's passing most people look at his legacy as a straight unwavering line but there are gaps in there there, where he lost a title and struggled to return to greatness Of course, Ali's legacy has the benefit of time

George St Pierre is a UFC fighter who enjoyed a long reign as champ. He retired as champ. There are rumours that he may return. How people currently view him is a bit conflicted. At one point he was considered one of the greatest mama fighters of all time, this man never lost his belt, but there are some people not willing to grant him that moniker. The way that he ended his career, with wins that generally came as judges decisions rather than definitive finishes, tarnishes his legacy in the eyes of some

Roussey was a dominante champ. She finished every one of her fights, some in under a minute. But the way that she lost to Holms, looking like some some inexperienced girl, has also tarnished her legacy. If she returns and takes back the title in devastating fashion, I sense her legacy will be all bright and shiny again. But what if she returns and struggles a bit, let's say she loses a couple of fights but then takes the title back. What will think of her then

Some fighters, some athletes, some people, seem to need that championship. UFC featherweight Connor McGregor came into the organization determined to win the belt and he did; after winning every fight he  knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. But before he could defend that title he made a bid for the Lightweight title; he wanted to be one of the few fighters who would hold the belt at the same time. Circumstances worked against him, Dos Janjos could not defend so McGregor took a non title fight at welterweight .. and lost. Since then Eddie Alverez has taken the lightweight belt and Aldo, over the weekend, has earned the "interim" featherweight belt. McGregor, the man who so hungered for gold doesn't seem to care, he is seeking avenge his one and only loss

Perhaps for McGregor was not the belt, it was defeating everyone whom he faced. Perhaps that is his mark of greatness

For Alveraz it wasn't just the belt, it was, after success in other organizations, winning the gold in the largest mma promotion on the planet

Ronda, an incredibly dominant champ who not only loss but loss badly and brutally seems to be taking a long time to lick her wounds. What if she's done? Was that one loss so devastating? Perhaps for her, winning was the prize and nothing else was acceptable

Then we have the case of one Demitrious Johnson. He is the current flyweight champ. He is the only flyweight champ in the history of the UFC. When the weight class was introduced, Mighty Mouse as he is known, won the title through tournament. Three years and nine fights later he is still the champ. The most dominant champ still standing and in my opinion, one of the best mma fighters in the world. He is a humble man, and quiet, he doesn't seek headlines or controversy, he just takes on every opponent and he wins

If and when Mighty Mouse loses what will happen to him? He has lost before but it was a while ago, in another organization. Will he recover from the loss and get back in the hunt? Or will he pack it up

What drives people to succeed, to win, to be the best. I don't think that we, sitting out here, will ever know. Sometimes I don't know if the athlete themselves know. And they may not know how they will handle defeat, until it hits them

Anyone can win. Anyone can lose. The champions hold the belts, the former champions feel the reflection of the gold on their faces. Can they look into the light or will they turn away from it. We just have to wait and watch. And that is, indeed, why we watch


Saturday, July 9, 2016

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T TALK TO STRANGERS OR STRANGER PEOPLE OR WEIRDOS, OR ME

Standing waiting for a bus, a lovely woman in a short dress walks by

Guy beside me says "Man, she has legs that go on for days"

I say "Really? Which days"

"Pardon?"

"Just wondering which days those legs are"

Now the guy is sidling away from me, funny how often that happens "What are you talking about?"

"Well, you need to carefully choose which leg days you may want to enjoy"

"Did you escape from some kind of facility?"

"Well, I wouldn't call it escaped, the door was wide open and I walked right on through, once the smoke from the explosives had cleared"

Now the guy is really wishes he had called a cab today. "I have no idea what you're on about"

"You have to consider this carefully, you can't just willy nilly pick a leg day without considering the consequences"

"Would you mind putting your willy away?"

I looked down "Oh sorry about that" I made the adjustment, funny how often that happens

"OK, so I'm bore and I may have ingested a powerful illicit drug today so I will ask: Explain to me about this leg day thing"

"Well, think about it. Monday legs they're gonna be tired, right, so probably burned under leggings or jeans or a bright yellow Hello Kitty jumpsuit"

"A jumpsuit? That seems unlikely"

"It's a leap of imagination .. leap, jump, get it?"

"I'd rather get a STD"

"No time for romance, the bus will be here soon"

I think he had some kind of seizure but he waved me on to continue. Or he may have been surrendering or gesturing for help, hard to say.

So I continued. "Tuesday legs aren't really ready yet to party, heavy into work mode, so you know, knee length skirts, heavy pantyhose, maybe yogurt pants"

"Don't you mean yoga pants?"

"I mean yogurt pants, the tight ones, like they've been eating nothing but yogurt and want to show off the results. Yoga? That's just silly. An old Indian dude with a floor length beard and the ability to levitate two feet off the toilet, he would look silly in those pants"

The guy rolled his eyes "Oh no, we wouldn't want to get silly would we."

"Gosh no, we wouldn't want to do that" So I took off the clown nose and the rubber lederhosen "Now, Thursday legs, we're starting to get there. Feeling better, in the swing of things, stockings maybe and a sexy pair of mules"

"You mean those shoes?"

"No, I mean burro's. Strapped to her feet. Saves those legs some wear and tear"

"Goddamn you're weird"

"I told you, no time for romance"

The guy put on some body armour and began building a moat between us "Go on"

"Now Friday and Saturday legs, now we're talking, those are the days you want to go on, right. Stockings, garters, pumps, fishnets, Cuban heels, those seams running down the back"

"Do you think women really wear stuff like that?"

I straightened a seam "Oh right, we were talking about women"

"You know, you skipped right over Wednesday"

"Oh dude, you don't want to deal with Wednesday legs"

"Pray tell"

"Dude, middle of the week" I did a shudder take "There will be stubble"


Friday, July 8, 2016

SCHOONERS AND GALLEONS AND VIKINGS .. OH MY!

You knew it was going to happen. The invasion. After all, we're Canada, replete with natural resources, gateway to the Arctic, home of Poutine and the double double. Come on, who wouldn't invade to get all that.

Not surprising that it would happen on Canada Day. What was surprising is the form that the invasion took. Ships; OK not a shock but ships with sails. Really tall sails


Yes, the Tall Ships. Gosh Vic that was so clever. Shut up, it's 2 in the morning here


It's been three years since the tall ships were last in Toronto. They brought three ships with them this year and moored them along the quay at H20 Park right beside the Harbourfront Centre. One of them has been here before. The Pride of Baltimore II is a topsail schooner sailing out of .. wait for it .. Baltimore and is a reproduction of an 1812 era vessel


OK, I know it's a schooner but its rakish design and its size and the fact that it was out of Baltimore, kind of made me think of a rum runner




The Pride of Baltimore is a big ship, 157 feet all in, but it was dwarfed by the ship next to which is was moored. El Galeon is an entirely accurate, to scale, reproduction of a 16th century Spanish galleon


This thing is massive, Collette described it "a wall of ship" and it's true. On a sunny day, stand beside the middle of the hull and it just blocked out the sky


Just as shocking as the Spirit of Baltimore being from Baltimore I was gobsmacked to learn that this Spanish galleon is from .. gasp .. Spain!


She boasts over 10,000 square feet of rigging with the tallest rigging reaching up 121 feet. And her crew being Spaniards, they just saw all this rigging as a jungle gym from which they could wave at pretty girls




The El Galeon was the largest ship on the quay but the one that caught my eye was only a fraction of its size. But size doesn't matter .. er .. we're talking about ships, right?


The Draken Harald is a longship, the largest replica longship built in modern times. Sailing out of Norway, it looks like something Ragnar Logthbruk could disembark from



The crew who built this ship is following their Viking ancestors by sailing her from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland then Toronto. She is pretty accurate, no below decks, the crew sleep and cooked inside a tent pitched on the main deck which also provided their only shelter during the Atlantic crossing




The highlight of the day was the sail by. The three visiting tall ships, accompanied by some of the tall ships and brigantines who regularly dock in the harbour and one of the Canadian Navy frigates that had come down for the festival, sailed out into he western gap, regrouped, came back down into the inner harbour, turned and smiled back west, passing fairly close by the quays along Harbourfront


Most of the ships were under full sail. For some reason El Galeon was not but she still made a pretty big impression.




It was great to see the Baltimore and the Canadian brigantines in the harbour under full sail, tacking into the wind, the sheets fluttering, lines pulled taut under the ancient engine of the wind





I have to say, that Viking ship was incredibly impressive. One of the smaller boats, her single red sail was massive, changing colour as the sun hit it, you can see that sail for miles and you could see the power in it, its simple design, pushing its boat to places that few in that time had ever dreamed



As many of the ships passed they gave us a little salute with their deck guns. I was hoping that El Galeon would open her hatches and have her cannons make us feel like the Aztecs did but hey, they would just be cruel




The Navy frigate gave us a blast or two with its impressive and rather scary deck gun. I admit, I may have peed a little. While I change my pants, here's the video
Tall Sails in the Harbour: Toronto Tall Ships Festival 2016 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Monday, June 27, 2016

CONQUEST OF SPACES: LUMINATO ARTS FESTIVAL 2016


It sits on Toronto's waterfront like something from out of another time. A massive building, entirely pragmatic, at first glance featureless, like something from Soviet era Russia. This is not the pretty part of the waterfront where tourists stroll the quays and sight seeing boats criss cross the inner harbour. Down here at the foot of Carlaw Street, this is the Toronto of old, when the waterfront was the home to industry, the Portlands, where immense piles of salt are shrouded in rubber, like old men in rain coats talking about other days while drinking vodka and squinting against the setting sun


This the Hearn, a building that opened as a power generating plant in 1953. At one time this was one of the largest buildings in North America. You could take the Statue of Liberty and lay it down inside the structure. It was coal burning back then, later converted to natural gas but it was always just a machine, and despite a couple of Art Deco touches at the entrance, this place was never designed to influence art.

And yet, it has


Luminato is an art festival that this year, celebrated its tenth anniversary. They wanted to do something special to further that celebration and indeed they have. They opened up the Hearn, this functional machine and not only did they make it a place that hosted art they have, in a way, made it into art itself


It was no easy undertaking. The Hearn, still owned by the Ontario government, has been vacated since 1983. Some "urban explorers" and photographers over the years have ventured into the Hearn, sending back pictures of vast huge galleries defined by arches that seemed to have a Mayan influence, and huge spaces, now empty of their machinery, guarded by girders stretching up hundreds of feet


The place was not safe. Bare dirt floors and broken windows and darkness that concealed sharp angles and steel shards, cables and wires coiled underfoot and pools of water that were still and glossy as ancient black glass


The people at Luninato did a hell of a job, building walkways, installing an elevator, creating theatres and lounges and even a restaurant. They had to pour cement down on the main floor to provide people with safe passage.


It's an interesting concept, converting this entirely prosaic building into a place for art and music and theatre. They staged plays here, and concerts and discussions about the nature of art. There were art installations of course, and they went the way that these kinds of installations go, sometimes interesting, oft times just ... odd





One of the more successful installations was Trove, a series of images painted onto the walls of the Hearn's upper gallery, reflecting the location, the neighbourhood and the history of the area as it moved from industry to re-gentrification







Then, there was the disco ball. Yup, a mirror disco ball. A huge one, suspended from the Hearn's ceiling. And revolving. Well, of course revolving, what kind of disco ball does not spin. When I first saw it the first thought was "How the hell did they get that thing up there" and the second thought simply was "Why"


But as the thing spun, its reflections moved across the vast spaces of the Hearn. Whimsical shapes, organic, flowed across the girders and arches and walls, as if they were alive, aquatic shapes you could say, moving silently, slowly, chimerical lights floating in a place that had never been intended to host such whimsy



That was the beauty of the whole thing, the Hearn became its own work of art, it was transformed by the art that had been installed within it. It was pretty amazing experience, to walk in this place where we had never been intended to walk, to view the art that should never have been placed here, to experience something that had been abandoned, become something alive



There was also something alive just outside the Hearn. In a tiny clearing surrounded by waist high weeds, behind a chain link fence, a human figure reposed on a bench. Not a human of course but a sculpture, rather Greek in its proportions and attitude. What was not Greek was the statue's head. A bee hive. With real bees surrounding it. Another example of combining something organic with something artifical


The song that I chose for my video is Conquest of Spaces by Yoann Lemoine who records music under the name Woodkid. In part, the song says "Beyond the laws of density, Towers of glass and steel, Temples and fragments of memories, Drifting away from me" Very appropriate. And more art, in a place where art was never meant to be.


Conquest of Spaces: Luminato Festival 2016 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.
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