Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Boy I love football! I really really do! Especially the CFL, the Canadian Football League! Golly gosh it's so exciting! So when the Grey Cup game was to be played here in Toronto I was so excited! And when the Toronto Argo's earned the right to play in it was I oh so super excited! And when they won oh my goodness I was so tingly! And when they were to have a parade and rally down town I had to go ...

And if you believed any of that you may immediately check yourself into the nearest psychiatric institute for a reality check .. after you leave me all your earthly possessions.

I do not care for football, of any kind, be it play with a spherical ball or a round one. But I do follow other sports and I recall how when the Jays were a contending baseball team, and won the World Series it really did seem to energize the city

This past week, before the Grey Cup Game Sunday, I happened to be downtown on other missions and experienced some of the parties and rallies around the event. There were a lot of people in the city, from all across the country and the atmosphere seemed mostly excited and engaging.

It was the kind of activity we see during Pride Week and the Indy Race and other annual events. And Hell, it's been a long time since we've celebrated a major baseball win and I am probably safe in saying it will be a long time before we celebrate anything for the Raptors ..

The even was a good thing for the city. Certainly our hospitality industry, hotels and bars and cabs etc, received a boost during the November doldrums. So when they announced the parade and rally Tuesday to celebrate the win, I decided to pop down to check it out.

Here's the video. Music by Alex Clare

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I live in a city.

Somewhere, as you enter it, there are signs that proudly declare the population to be over 3 million people. That's Toronto. Then there's the GTA, the Greater Toronto Area .. greater than what I am not certain .. and the population number seems to swell. Four million, six million .. just a fuck of a lot of people.

When we think of big cities we usually think of tall towers of steel and glass, ribbons of concrete highways, streetlights blinking over lifeless streets.

But of course that is not true. Nature ain't no pussy, she don't go down so easy. Given even the meanest  opportunity, Nature and Life is gonna bust on out. Why I'm suddenly writing like a broken down lame ass white rapper, I have no idea ..

But case in point: This past Sunday I went out on my front porch to get the newspaper, raised my head and was met by the unflinching gaze of a red tail hawk.

He was right on my front lawn, just a couple of feet away from the road, in the middle of Toronto, just blocks away from some of the busiest highways in Ontario if not all of Canada. He did not seem to mind. He had found himself something worth all the distractions, a roadkill squirrel, what the hawk would call "free buffet"

When we were in New York City last March, we had witnessed another redtail hawk feasting on some urban squirrel. But that had been in Central Park, essentially an urban forest and not totally surprising. And although Toronto has its share of green belts, and my own neighbourhood has many parks, I just don't think of it as being an urban forest

But there is indeed a great deal of wildlife around here; I see wild rabbits all the time. Terra sees them too, but only when they're moving. If a rabbit freezes, my border collie walks right on by them. I've seen foxes as well, walking right down the middle of the street, and Toronto has a very active, robust populations of coyotes, a family of which located in a ravine park just minutes away from here

At any rate I took advantage of this opportunity to see something as beautiful as this hawk. Collette quickly joined me, quickly firing away with her 400 mm lens .. yup I have lens envy

I put together a little video including stills and some video I shot with the D7000. This was an inpromptu shoot, so I didn't have time to dig out a monopod or my shooting brace and my hand held skills with the Nikon still have a way to go  ..

So shut up. Enjoy the video.

Monday, November 19, 2012


This past Sunday was a rare day for Toronto in November, mostly sunny and mild, temps in the double digits. A perfect day to put on your walking shoes, grabbing a leash, hooking up your dog and ... go inside?

Well it makes some degree of sense if "inside" refers to Winter Woofstock. Woofstock is a huge and popular dog expo that takes place in Toronto (and other cities) twice a year. In the summer it is held here in the St Lawrence Market district outside. In the fall/winter it occurs inside, in this case the Direct Energy Centre at the CNE grounds.

Hey this is Toronto, we do winter, we just do it inside.

As usual I did not take Terra to Winter Woofstock. This dog spends most of her days out in the yard and when she goes out with me it usually involves high speed long distance ball and/or frisbee chasing. Being in an extremely crowded space, kept on leash, surrounded by hundreds of dogs with whom she could not interact, well I would just get those big brown border collie eyes telling me "Really? This is it?"

But Woofstock is a good place to find bargains on all those doggie essentials: Poop bags, flashy collars for dark winter nights, a new name tag, treats. And if you are other dog owners: Dolce Cabana dog boots, real fur trimmed capes, blingy collars and that doggie essential, strap on sunglasses


There are also dog trick contests, fashion shows, best groomed shows .... Terra reads over my shoulder and comments "When do we get to the frisbee part? There should be frisbees? Right? Frisbees? There are frisbees? Right? Frisbees? Right? Frisbees?"

You see my issue here. Anyway, I mostly go to take advantage of a lot of venders in one place offering discounts, like any trade show. And of course I love being surrounded by dogs. The owners I could do without; dragging poor doggie behind them, totally oblivious as the human moves up and down the aisles in full shopping-as-zombie mode.

I will give credit to the show's staff, the place was remarkablly clean and good smelling considering the number of dogs present. And somehow in the short time that I was there, there weren't any major fights .. and I don't mean between the dogs, I mean between a few overdressed dog owners scrapping over the very last jar of Organic Raw Human Grade Crap For Your Dog

Here's the video


This Saturday evening past, Collette and I attended an annual Toronto sign of the season ... No, not sniping overburdened Russian trophy wives in Yorkdale malll; no, not watching Mayor Rob Ford fill up his Cadillac's gas tank with egg nog; no, not hunting drunken elves in the provincial Parliament ...

We attended the Cavalcade of Lights at City Hall. I originally misread the description and was disappointed when thousands of festive lights did not come crashing down the twin towers of City Hall ...

Oh wait, I get it, Cavalcade, not Avalanche of Lights .. I see.

Anyway, I've never before been to this event. They throw a party in Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall. This year the Grey Cup is in Toronto so they drained the skating room and lined it with astroturf; I think it was the prototype for a brand new sport, Ice FootPuck.

They string lights all around the square and they bring in this tree; it's a mutant tree, a giant tree, the sasquatch of trees, the Chewbacca of trees, it was brought in by a giant building crane and a troupe of Special Forces Ents.

It's a big fucking tree.

They tried to build a sense of excitement leading up to the big event, the actual lighting of Tree Mullet (hey, this is a Canadian tree), with a show featuring a bunch of incredibly generic and moderately talented singers, every one of them billed as "Canada's next superstar" Really? We can only have one superstar? So will all these singers get down on the artificial gridiron and throw down with mic sharpened mic stands and shuriken head sets? Will it be a battle royal until the last one standing is declared The Superstar? There can be only one!

Um, that didn't happen of course. Les sigh.

Having never attended this event I wasn't quite certain to expect. They had this giant tree, Tree Hockey Hair, and it was festooned with thousands of lights, so I was kind of expecting to see the lights coming on in succession, maybe starting at the bottom and climbing up to the top. I mean, this isn't too much to ask for, we have the technology. We built the CN Tower, we have new subway trains, Tim Horton engineered how to put jelly inside of a donut ...

What we got instead were the lights coming on. One moment they were off, the next moment they were on. It was sort of eerie, it was like someone flipped on a switch ...

Oh stop whining Kellar. Here's the video

Saturday, November 17, 2012


What is it with the number seven. Or movies and the number seven. Or me and movies that feature with the number seven. Or me and seven.

Let's explain.

I have written here many time on one of all time favorite movies, Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

It, of course, inspired another one of my all time fave movies, John Sturges' iconic The Magnificent Seven.

Seven Samurai also inspired an anime series of which I'm quite proud, that shares the same name.

Recently I read a graphic novel out of Europe entitled Seven Psychopaths.

You may have heard of a recent movie of the same name but the comic and that movie share nothing but the name

Then, of course, there was the incredibly contrived serial killer as super being movie Seven

And, in a delightfully wonky way, the underated and but more creatively contrived movie, Lucky Number Slevin

So perhaps you are wondering ... where the hell is he going with all this. Quite frankly, I'm wondering the same thing myself. Not to put too fine a point on it .. what the fuck is up with Seven?

Because, of course, the list is  not at all finished. Another contrived movie bobs up, Brad Pitt's Seven Years in Tibet. Recently we watched a spooky little suspense movie called The Vanishing on Seventh Street, though that does not strictly adhere to the true piety of the Number Seven. Mostly because the seven appears as the street name. The old film noir The Seventh Victim maintains said piety due strictly to numerical signifigence

What the hell am I talking about? Well I wonder that every day but today more than usual. Seriously, what the hell is up with this number in movies.

The Seven Year Itch, Seven Pounds, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, The Seventh Seal (no this is not about marine mammals that sound like a traffic jam), Seven Days in May, The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao and a title that almost makes my head burst, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ...

What the hell. Why? Why why why

Why were there seven samurai? Well the pragmatic answer, plot wise, had to do with that was the number of warriors who protect the village for that amount of rice .. fair enough. But why did the writers decide that seven would be the limit?

Brad Pitt's Seven is simple to delineate: The killer was illustrating the Seven Deadly Sins. But why are there seven sins in the first place.

Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven are such iconic movies that one can assume that latter screenwriters were inspired by and/or capitalized these earlier movies.

But where the hell does this seven come from. Yes I understand that there is a superstition associated with the number but I don't believe it's cross cultural.

I could have done some actual research on this but I don't know if it's worth the bother. It's just something I've noticed.

If it requires further contemplation, I'll write six more posts on the topic.

Monday, November 5, 2012


There are a few caveats that I have to follow in my life: Beware of video games based on movies, don't buy wine you see advertised on TV and be leery of stage musicals based on TV or movies. Like most caveats these are wise rules to live by but also like most caveats, there are exceptions.

I enjoyed the video game Tron Legacy, I like the wine Piat D'Or which was once heavily advertised on TV and damnit, I liked Sister Act the Musical, currently running at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in downtown Toronto.

This is a musical comedy based upon the movie with Whoopi Goldberg. As we entered the theatre I couldn't conjure up any strong memories from the movie but I do remember liking it. It was a comedy, it featured Whoopi at the height of her abilities but I couldn't really recall any music from it.

So I took my seat with a bit of trepidation, I do enjoy musical comedy (and yes as a straight man I can willingly say that but please note that as I type this I'm skinning out a wolverine that I caught with my bare hands while running naked through the forest ... and that did not sound the least bit gay) but I had this image of something forced; I know the movie was not a traditional musical, it was a comedy that featured some songs. How would that translate into a full on musical theatre piece? The answer: Pretty damn well

Firstly, this play is indeed a comedy and it's damn funny. The humour comes from several points of inspiration: The traditions of the Roman Catholic church clashing with the secular world, the fashion of the play's temporal setting, 1978 (god, not one of our finest visual eras, I guess that's why there was so much pot available then) the basic tenets of romantic comedy filtered through that time period and much more.

The book, by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, is not afraid to swing it's comedic portals broadly open and with a fine and brave Toronto cast, it resulted in a lot of flat out belly laughs. There are a few "themes" in the story of dramatic interest but it never forgets that it's a comedy. Yes, a "feel good" comedy that is prevented from careening into a treacle abyss by a few moments of sharp satire

The book follows the basic plot from what I recall from the movie: A Phillidelphia dico-diva-wannabe witnesses a gangland slaying and has to go into witness protection: That being as a nun in a failing Roman Catholic inner city church.

Our Donna Summer-wannabe is Michelle, portrayed in this production by Ta'rea Campbell. Ms Campbell gives the role everything that you could want: She inhabits perfectly Michelle's late 70's "sista" sensability, she can be tough as well as vunerable, sassy as well as still and has a voice that would be perfectly at home on any late 70's disco or soul recording ... and perfectly at home on the stage where she can shake the rafters one moment, and bring us up close and personal the next

She is equally matched by the entire cast. Everyone fearlessly plunges into the broad comedy and everyone has a voice perfectly suited to their role. Hollis Resnik, as Mother Superior has a lilting, expressive soprano that illicits memory of past singing  nuns and tempers her performance with strength and dignity, even as Michelle pushes her faith to extremes

One of the things I love so much about theatre, and any live performance for that matter, is those moments that catch us by surprise; when a song or a line of dialogue is married with a performance that, although we may see it coming, works so perfectly it takes us beyond what was expected. In Sister Act that moment was provided to me by Lael Van Keuren.

Lael plays Sister Mary Robert (all of the nuns have the first name Mary which as you can imagine springs off some pretty funny material) the convent's initiate, a young woman still deciding if she should take the vows to become a nun. She first comes across as shy and tentative and you just know she is going to have a "break out" moment; she does and although I saw it coming, it still took me up, it elevated me. Her song The Life I Never Led is written to be poingnant and Lael delivers it a voice that is clean, controlled and has such effortless power, I could have listened to it all night

As I said, Sister Act is a "feel good" musical so there are very few surprises, everything works out in the end. Perhaps that destination is a bit hackneyed and predictable, but the journey makes it all worth while.

Top Blogs Pets

Add to Technorati Favorites