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


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


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.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Earlier this summer we went to the Molson Indy to watch cars driving very fast.

This past weekend we went to Danforth Avenue to watch cars .. not move at all. And yeh, we had fun

This was our first visit to Wheels on the Danforth, a community based care show where they close off a few blocks of the eastern Danforth and fill them with cars.

Like most competitions there are prizes so they move different classes of cars along the street as the day goes on. We got there just when I wanted: Classic muscle cars, mostly, with some older hot rods thrown in. It was mostly American muscle but a few foreign interlopers did find their way in

But it was mostly about the Detroit cars that I think were enfused with their own singular sense of style. Not to mention their own hugeness. Damn, some of these cars are enormous. A two door coupe is bigger than most SUVs today .. and some vans

There is of course nostalgia in my admiration of these cars. Some of them are just flat out beautiful but others, while not esthically pleasing, triggered an emotional response; both Collette and I saw this truck and realized that how many of these we had seen or ridden in as kids. She's pretty sure her dad owned one at one point. Beautiful no, but something built and built well for a purpose that gives it its own unique charm

And while this Ford pickup had been restored to pretty much original, others decided to put their own spins on their trucks, turning something prosaic and purpose designed, into something beautiful and individual.

That's always the interesting thing about these car shows; who chose to restore their vehicles and who chose to customize them. I have to say in terms of the classic muscle cars I am not a big fan of heavy customization. Many of these cars back in the day were sold with options and in GT packages etc that provided the owner with mag wheels, hood scoops, spoilers etc. I like to see them like that, as I remembered them back in the day

But every owner who struggles to restore their ride to the original, there are those who just want to chop it, lower it, paint stripes on it, put on the widest tires possible and fill it with some engine entirely inappropriate: Long live the hot rod

Not all of the cars on the street were muscle or hot rods but they had their own appeal. A vintage VW but is not muscle but it has a classic charm all its own. And the bottom pic below is a Pinto, a car not considered muscle back in the day but here some creative mechanic filled it full of mechanical testosterone

The organizers of the event did a great job, lots of cars, a live band, some food stands. The rain kept the crowds down (not a bad thing) and it made the cars all wet and shiny so it wasn't bad from a visual sense but yeh, it got a bit cool and dreary.

Still, we had fun and we will be back next year

All of the photo's on this post are Collette's work. My work is the video below. Now, go shine up your car and park it
Wheels On The Danforth from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.
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