Lisa’s Facebook page has an app that is updating her wall with goofy remixed pictures of her profile pic. It’s creeping me out. Today’s pic is of her being eaten by a tiger. No shit.
I got new glasses. Actually SharkBoy got some too but his aren’t as he expected. He’s going to have to get progressive lenses since he’s skeeved by taking them off just to read. Mine make me look like a fat Elvis Costello. I think.
The iPad is making splashes through the web, having been dropped off early at some nerdy tech writers. Gizmodo has a great cross reference graph for your perusal. Yes. It’s making me want one. And I don’t really need it at all, but something in me…wants… one… arg.
So you’ve decided to visit Toronto and enjoy it’s #2 outdoor attraction (second only to The Beaches Jazz Festival, according to their site). Regardless of who tells you their numbers are numero uno, Toronto Pride reels in a crapload of cash for the city (The Gay Community has it’s own subsection on Toronto’s tourism website – take THAT Caribana!). It’s a good idea to research your options before opening your wallet and organize your fun before hitting the street.
That’s where I come in! Hello tourist! So glad I could help!
You may recall my article last year: Pride Tips for Out of Towners. I’m bitter happy to report that not much has changed. The bar you are drinking in will have a draconian liquor inspector grumpily wander through to see if they can make some money in fines. And some circuit party will try to seduce you with their glossy posters of near-naked men, but there will be a chance that you choose incorrectly and spend $95 to find you’re not at the “A-List” bash and wind up with a crowd that looks more at home at a Phish concert. The Parade tips still hold true (early, sunblock, elbows), as do the street crowd crush. Don’t forget that “bagging and bedding a Torontonian” is still a bit like coaxing a snipe out of the bushes. We seem to have tightened our shy little cocoons around ourselves during this long, cool spring! All I reported last year are still valid tips. Take heed!
At this time I need to reiterate my number one peeve about Pride: You should NOT, repeat NOT eat at any restaurant on Church Street during Pride. Eat from a hot dog cart (blarg!), bring your own food, starve, devour your travel companion or gnaw on your own foot. Do not eat at any Church Street restaurant.
Wait… I think I need to nail that home:
DO NOT EAT AT ANY CHURCH STREET
RESTAURANT THAT IS LOCATED ON
CHURCH STREET DURING PRIDE
Here’s a list of restaurants that are off the strip and worth your money:
Daybreak – This place is popular, pricey but has big portions. At the corner of Carlton and Church, just outside the Village.
Studio – When Daybreak is full, two doors south is this crumbly greasy spoon. Cheap alternative great for breakfast.
The Coachhouse – Same as The Studio, but over on Yonge and Wellesley. Greek twist on a diner.
Chew Chews, Johnny G’s and Gourmet Burger – Three Cabbagetown options that are a little walk away from the Village.
Sizzler – Late Late night burger place with baby sized meat patties at Yonge and College. Not much to look at but BABY SIZED BURGERS!! Late at night!!!
Olympic Pizza – Been in the village forever. Consistently good but unremarkable Italian food the recipe for a great restaurant!
Tokyo Grill / Okanomi House – uncommon Japanese food (read: NOT sushi).
Ginger – Not the one on Church, but over at Yonge and Bloor, there’s an outlet that will most likely not fuck you for cash. Great non-restauranty hot and sour soup.
Oja Noodle House – Right beside a pricey “EggRoll” restaurant. Dishes more authentic and way cheaper. Charles and Yonge.
That’s a good start. Yonge at Bloor has had an explosion of Asian Fusion dining places. All seem “good” if not a bit dollar-y.
New tips? Got a couple!
In some cases it’s polite to ask if you can take pictures of random hot guys/gals/gender-fucks, but in most cases it doesn’t matter – cameras are everywhere during Pride and if you’re shy, stay the fuck home! But asking for a photo is not only as polite as a Canadian in a foreign land, it’s an excellent way to break the ice. So if you do go this route, may I suggest little business cards with your Twitter/Flickr/Facebook page URL on it so you can ensure your subject can view your work later when they’re at home slathering on the aloe vera. And for those people you were jokingly taking a picture of (“Good lord that outfit!! I must ridicule it online tonight!“) and get caught doing so, may I suggest a separate card with www dot lemonparty dot org on it.
Street Escape Routes
I failed to mention last year that to avoid the crush that is the uncomfortably crowded street in front of Woodys and the parking lot Beer Tent (Church and Maitland), the Pride Committee has smartly enshrined the alleyways behind these two venues open for easier access past this bottle neck. There are similar North-South routes between East-West streets if you need to dash up Church Street. Any Pride volunteer will gladly point them out.
Keep your cell phone charged. The crowds are so large you will want to know where your friends are. Twittering may not be such a good idea since it goes down more often than a career drag queen 2 days before rent is due. Thankfully iPhone users will have MMS texting by then and you can send your friends your location (or trick’s face) for group approval.
Please take some time to consider what you will wear. Feather boas are for straight boys who were dragged to Pride by their girlfriends. Outrageous drag is fine, but consider it will be hot and you may be outside for some time. Melty creatures does not equal funny drag. You’ll scare children. May I recommend something clever yet not too noticable…
Whatever you do, enjoy your Pride. If you see me, say Hi!
Saturday! Woke early to go to the gym and and a breakfast burrito (yes, quite low fat thank you, when you build them yourself – more later). We grab a tea and make our way to CBC early for Open Doors Toronto 2009. We thought with all the layoffs the Ceeb is facing soon, it would probably be a great time to go have a gander at this government funded media bunker.
And bunker it was. Security was buzzing, trying to keep track of volunteer staff, who bitched and complained to each other on their headsets. I’m sure the level of security you would normally have to pass through is there to protect Peter Armstrong from marauding fans, and not to hide the somewhat extravagant hallway decorations placed there for the general public not to see… We were first for The Hour studio tour and had to endure some poor volunteer’s worker’s utter mental breakdown for lack of organization in her line. We were shunted to an elevator which ironically (?) the doors would not close due to overcrowding. With all of us explaining to the elevator operator that we needed to lose 2 people, the poor volunteer staffer was about shout “I’M JUST A VIDEO ARCHIVIST! I KNOW FUCK ALL ABOUT HOW TO OPERATE AN ELEVATOR!!” when two people volunteered to get the next one.
The studio was pretty flash, even though the seats looked “cheap wedding uncomfortable” so we know that the money going to the Ceeb isn’t going back into the public. No, it’s being spent on huge screen TVs to tart up talk shows only 1/3rd the Canadian public watches. Here Sharkboy and I are playing George Stroumboulopoulos and Jean Chretien:
We took the next tour of the radio department and had an interesting run of various sound proof rooms. Quite interesting.
After that we went to Osgoode Hall and wandered the dusty hallways of justice.
We then tried to get to the Don Jail but they turned us away due to a 4 hour wait, which was too late past the closing time. I thought to myself “Who would wait four hours to see an old jail?” Disclaimer: I use to manage a traveller’s hostel in Ottawa that was converted from a 165 yr old jail.
Me apparently. Sunday we were back there at 945am and in line. Warned that the line was 4-5 hours long, we stuck it out. And stuck it out. And braved line-jumpers and fidgety kids.
ALL IN THE NAME OF GETTING READY FOR DISNEY!
Bored, in-line video:
The jail itself was probably not worth the 4 hours wait due to the state of the building. But it did remind me of the use to live in the jail/hostel I managed and it just brought back memories of impossible maintenance hoops our staff had to jump through every so often. Pipes bursting, kids falling off bunks, flooding, etc.
After 5 hours in the sun, SharkBoy’s neck looks like an ad for an S&M Red Lobster outlet. Being red-green colourblind and able to see the shade should let you know how bad he got it across the back of his neck.
On the upside, my Wii is no longer calling me Obese. At 214lb, I have moved into the realm of Overweight. Yeah! I made my Disney weight goal with a few days to spare!
Last night I dreamed of O Boy’s Ribs on West Colonial Dr, Orlando. Oh yes, there will be binge and purging…
A while back I got a message while on Bear411 from Doug (jedicub) who complimented me on my makeshift Jedi costumes in my profile. His profile contained a few interesting pictures (Sigh. Make the dirty jokes now in your head, please): a couple were of him wearing a “movie accurate” Red Squadron uniform from Star Wars: A New Hope.
Admittedly I was apprehensive in speaking to Doug, due to all the joking around I’ve made about fans who dress up and go to comic book conventions. Though, I have mellowed having gone to the last 3 here in Toronto, and most of my finger pointing laughter has evolved into admiration, especially for a well thought out, well made costume. Plus, if you look close enough most of the guys with exceptional outfits are bearish, but that’s neither here nor there. Doug is one of those people I admire because of his tenacity towards his passion.
In speaking to Doug, I get the sense that, yes, he is a superfan (he belongs to a group called the London Rogues) but his obsession for Star Wars is a love borne out of years of cultivation. “Cult” being the operative word here. I emailed him a few questions and he’s happily answered back:
How old were you when you first saw Star Wars? Where were you? What were your impressions?
I was seven or eight and my dad took all three of us kids to see it. We were living in Toronto at the time. I had seen commercials on TV and I thought it was going to be scary with all the aliens, and such. However, I loved it. I remember my dad telling me how it had everything – the Tarzan swing, the old west shoot out, the duel. I just thought it was awesome. Little did I know how much the Star Wars franchise was going to inform my life. Like most kids at that age, I got hooked on collecting the Kenner action figures. My interest in Star Wars waned in my teenage years, but when I was in my mid-twenties, I got back into collecting with a renewed passion. I would say, though, that I’m a Star Wars fan, and not fanatic. I do realize it’s a work of fiction. 🙂
When did you get the idea that you could make this costume?
I had made a few Star Wars costumes over the years. Mainly these were hastily put together things for Halloween, though on a couple occasions I made costumes for a public event. For instance, I was asked to assist at a Star Wars day at the public library, and I put together a Han Solo costume for that.
In 2008 I put together another Star Wars costume. I had picked up an orange jumpsuit at a thrift store years ago, and that pretty much made my mind up as to what character I’d be. I put together a somewhat OK version of the X-wing pilot costume for just a few bucks, picking up remnant fabric, etc. I looked at some online resources for ideas, which is how I found out about what I would describe as “movie accurate” costumes. These people pay very close attention to detail. My Halloween costume wasn’t going to be nearly that good.
How long have you been collecting/making parts for the outfit?
After Halloween, I decided that I could transition the costume into something more accurate, with some money, and some time. If money were no object, I could’ve put it together fairly quickly, but I decided to change the costume one piece at a time. My first acquisition was in December 2008 when I bought a helmet. I found someone online who makes vacu-formed replicas of the actual Vietnam-era flight helmet used in the movies. Since that time, I’ve been making upgrades to the costume a bit at a time – boots, jumpsuit, etc. I joined an online forum called The Rebel Legion, which is a Star Wars costuming fan group. Chatting with people there has helped me track down many of the pieces.
Any clues to where you get your parts? Just like most of the original Star Wars props were common household items, are any pieces just regular every-day items around the home?
The ejection harness was the easiest to do, since it’s just silver/grey webbing that you can buy at most fabric stores. There are patterns online which are easy to follow. The belt buckle used in the movie is a roll pin buckle which the British navy used. You can find them online – if you know what they’re called.
As with the helmet, I ended up seeking out a few people who make replica parts which they vacu-form, machine, or cast themselves. And I bought a few pieces on Ebay. Here’s a breakdown of the costume and the resources I used:
Helmet – Richie’s Armor (I added some detailing)
Jumpsuit – Costumebase (with some tailoring by me)
Plastic Chest Box & Hose – Mr. Bojangles (Rebel Legion member)
Machined Aluminum Arm Tools – Elvis Trooper
Flak Vest – Originally I made this with a remnant and some edging, but I’m having someone with more talent make me a more accurate one with proper buckles, tubes, etc. It looks cool in photos.
Resin Commpad – Reyor (Rebel Legion member)
Leather Motorcycle Gauntlets – Botach Tactical
Replica German WW2 Boots – justwalk2008 (Ebay seller)
Belt Buckle – Mr. Bojangles
Leg Flares / Strap and Belt Mini-flares – darthhair (Ebay seller)
Where was the last place you wore it out, that is, the most recent incarnation of the costume?
I wore it out this afternoon in fact. I belong to a Star Wars fan group in London called London Rogues. Each May we host a community event to celebrate Star Wars. Today a few of us went to the campus of the University of Western Ontario to promote it – putting up posters, handing out flyers, and posing for photos with the student paper. It was fun.
Any future plans for something else?
Our group enters the Santa Claus Parade here in London. Although I haven’t been in it yet, I’ve been warned that it’s wet and cold. I may “Hoth up” my costume by making a jacket and adding winter gloves. Recently I’ve been working on a Darth Maul costume. I have most of it sewn already, but I still need to put together the belt, and find the appropriate boots. I’m thinking of doing this for Halloween. Who doesn’t love Darth Maul?
Favorite Star Wars movie?
The Empire Strikes Back.
If not Jar Jar Binks, who is your least favorite character? Most favorite?
Sorry, Jar Jar. Meesa no like you.
I’d have to say that Princess Leia is my favorite character – though Han is a close second.
The phone rings last night and it’s the Old Audio Dude (my third in line brother), he’s coming to Toronto with Heather and The Mop, my incredibly thick-haired nephew. No really, this kid’s hair is incredible considering he came from our gene pool of hairy backed, thin-on-top family. He can take solace (or sadness?) in knowing that no Mii editor, no Xbox avatar creator, no PS3 Home builder, will every be able to recreate his large, unruly mane.
He’s here in town and to give Heather the day to herself, SharkBoy and I are going to treat him to a march down Queen West and a movie (Marley and Me). I think there might be robot shopping involved. Expect pictures. What makes me feel incredibly old and expectant, is the fact that he’s the exact age when I started to come with my Dad to Toronto on business trips and run around alone on the subway downtown (yeah, they use to let 13 year old kids wander the streets alone back in the 70s).
I’m slightly weirded out that this is how the legacy is passed on – trips to the Silver Snail with $20 in his pocket, a ticket to a movie and popcorn, chased down with big gulps of sugar water. That arcade is closed so I can’t show him that – he’s voiced his desire to plug into our PS3/Wii/Xbox combo until his eyes bleed, anyway. If I had more time I’d take him to the Science Centre but that’s too late. Oh well, we’ll teach him the fine art of shopping. Every young lad should learn that early.
Last night was a busy one for me. Da and I decided to do some Father/Son bonding while hobnobbing (what the hell does that word mean, anyway?) with Toronto’s art elite at Art With Heart.
Da’s never been in the Carlu and was curious as to it’s grandeur. It didn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful deco setting and the art that was placed throughout was amazing (the website doesn’t convey the demanding presence some pieces command). I have to comment here that the volunteer staff were clockwork perfect. Pleasant, informed docets docents (Andrew helps me spelling!) cheerfully provided information on the art and never patronized. In all, a very organized successful event… I hope. I haven’t heard any numbers back yet, but the joint was packed, and considering Fashion sCares is this Saturday, I hope they made their target numbers!
Then we shuffled down to Canadian Stage to see my brother in Frost/Nixon. I have to admit that due to some of the reviews coming out of Vancouver, I wasn’t hopeful for this production. But when the curtain fell, I can tell you I was very entertained and greatly surprised. They have worked out all the problems mentioned in previous reviews, except the worrisome opinion that Len Cariou’s Nixon was not satisfactorily mimicking enough, which I tend to agree. I yearned to see the Nixon I remembered as a kid but got a sketch of that ideal. Not saying he did a bad job, he was captivating, but there was no jowly “Rich Little” kind of character play (which my brother does rather spookily at one point).
Oddly enough most of the cast and crew had been in science fiction TV shows (Battlestar, Stargate, RoboCop), including my brother, at one point in their career. Does this say something about Canadian culture?
Tonight, Sharkboy and I are off to see A Chorus Line with Mumsey! I’m being exposed to more culture than an open chest wound in an emergency ward!
On Saturday, SharkBoy and I had a dinner for my brother, The Professor, who was returning to England on Sunday. We made veggie chili with chocolate, in consideration of Emma, who I just learned last week has become meatless. Dumping a fist full of semi-sweet chips into chili may sound odd, but it brought out a “depth” to the taste as well as a dirty, naughty feeling. SharkBoy made a blazingly tasty salad and a somewhat mushy cheesecake pie, which we all decided was delish, but needed a few more hours in the fridge.
After dinner, we all retired to the media room for a rousing game of Guitar Hero, which the Professor sucked at (love him dearly, but you’d think of all those years at discos would give him more rhythm), and then on to Mario Cart, which he did exceedingly better at. See you again soon, Professor!
Sunday was the Zombie Walk 2008. After some scouring of dollar stores for props and cheap makeup, we came up with (cue theremin) Zombie Mechanics!! oooo! We didn’t want to rip up our original Halloween costumes so we chose this last minute switch. I think we did quite well, considering it was 90% improv on the day of makeup application. The Mailman joined us and found the day …interesting. When we got there there was the added surprise of a Cardboard Battle – two teams made of elaborate costumes made of only cardboard and duct tape battled each other for …supremacy? Bragging rights? Either way, some of them were pretty cool. One of the best costumes was a Tonka truck yellow, digger handed teddy bear, who fought like a trooper. With that going on, it was easy to see that the event had grown exponentially since last year. I think the Toronto Zombie Walk people need to consider they have a monster on their hands. A cheap $5 megaphone doesn’t convey much information to 1500 people. I bet there will be more organization next year because the cops were getting a pit pissed at the size of the crowd spilling out onto Queen Street.
What can you learn of someone within 3 minutes? 30 minutes? 3 hours? 3 days?
This long weekend, we ventured up into the Gatineau area to visit SharkBoy’s “Summer Place” – Notre Dame Du Pontmain to be exact.
It’s a tiny village nearly smack dab in the middle of a massive amount of small lakes about an hour and a bit north of Ottawa, in the Gatineaus. NDdP makes it’s living on the one hotel, the one depanneur and one boat launch and a lot of video rentals. I’ve never been before and I hope I go back. A lot. Mountains rise up out of so many lakes it’s like visiting BC but without the weed. Every morning and evening the sun puts on a display of colours you become drunk with the spectacle. Deer peer at you with those creepy eyes from the sides of the road. Bears have been seen. It truly is one of Quebec’s hidden treasures from the English.
We left late on Friday night to a wall of traffic that spanned downtown Pickering to Brockville, where after 6 hours in the car at 2am, we desperately tried to look for a hotel. All the details of the travel can be found on Sharkboy’s blog. One thing I did enjoy was playing “Senator and the Hooker” in the divey-est hotel on the outskirts of Ottawa that had stucco swipes as wall decoration and other 70s Swiss Chalet motifs (“Spank your bottom? That will be $5 extra, Senator!”).
On the drive we talked a lot about family. The one we started ourselves (cat included) and the ones I was going to meet. As usual, but not so much this time, I felt the apprehension of meeting up with the in-laws and not being able to communicate as much as I’d like. But that always disappears within moments of getting past the front door because SharkBoy’s mom is always so welcoming and friendly (inbetween the “tabanac” and “câlisse”) and we generally communicate in elaborate hand gestures, drinks and the odd translation assistance from SharkBoy’s sister, Syl.
We did eventually meet up and make our way over to SharkBoy’s uncle’s extremely secluded compound after a long drive up, down, through, along swamps and riverbanks. Oddly enough we could see the house we were staying at from his dock, which would have taken 1/100th the time it took to get there if we had walked directly from door to door. Unfortunately the two places are separated by a large river, so unless you’re Jesus, that’s not possible. Visible but secluded. For a reason. He owned the entire mountain behind his house.
Leasing the road to the top of the mountain for a cell phone tower, he’s sitting on a developer’s wet dream of prime cottage land that overlooked the lake. But he wants to keep it to himself for now. That kind of power you don’t come by easy. As we were to learn when the pictures came out. Images of SharkBoy’s dad and his two uncles were presented in all their black and white glory and I got to learn how Romuald became the person who gave me SharkBoy. We also learned of some other stuff that I will respect a certain person’s embarrassment due to certain childhood behaviour, but let’s just say that it involved a chicken and a horse.
Later, SharkBoy’s cousin and her girlfriend piled us into their lesbian truck (who knew it was rampant in his father’s side?) and took us 1/3rd the way up the mountain on the maintenance road to the cell tower. Then we walked the rest of the way. Nearly straight up. For a solid hour. That’s right, this fat, office cube chubbo walked up the side of a mountain to get utterly drenched in sweat (thank god they’re all family now). I also got to spend my first really private moments with Syl and we discussed ex-boyfriends and how sometimes a family’s responsibility is not to mention that we’re dating a jerk. Nothing new or shocking but she managed to make me feel like a brother in those few moments. I also snapped a few shots:
After bombing around on ATVs, we went tubing. First time for me behind a boat where I didn’t fall down within the first couple of seconds of it taking off (I suck at waterskiing).
That night, after saying our bon soirs, we discovered that seclusion has a price: the road back to the highway was washed out in a freak flash flood that came down from the side of the mountain after a short rainfall. Who knew that a mountain could “retain water”? This is where SharkBoy’s family shone: they all came out to the site on their ATVs and trucks to see the damage and within an hour, we had “rebuilt” the road, moved a down tree and scouted ahead the 3 miles to the highway on the ATV to make sure that the road was clear. It was an adventure, to be sure (we could have been at that part of the road during the flood), and his uncle and cousins were actually apologetic for the delay.
The next day the “kids” (without Sharkboy’s mom and aunt) set out to discover the waterfalls at Windigo, a swanky time-share like resort that I’d love to spend a week at some summer time (hint hint). There I saw a frog. Hold your Quebecois jokes. But before leaving, I was struck with the biggest stomach pain right between breakfast and the time we got into the car, which I kept mostly to myself until it started to subside. I wasn’t too chatty that morning. But it passed and I don’t blame anyone’s food…
At this time it was becoming quite evident that one of the guests was not feeling the same emotions for being away for the weekend and would not put down their cell phone for all the texting that was going on. I kept on remembering that when I was their age, I was yearning for not being at family outings either, and would sulk annoyingly over in some corner with a comic or tv show. Kids today (ugh. shoot me. I just wrote “kids today”) have better ways of sulking the fun from the moment by tapping messages to their friends on a small keyboard. I wanted to take them aside and tell them that family time is extremely precious, especially at 40something, and that they should savour the time they have. But of course, I kept my nose out of it. But I did felt old remembering how I behaved exactly the same (sans electroniques). This led to the weekend being cut short by hours (thankfully not by a day) and we managed to get back to Toronto at an extremely decent hour, so thanks teen angst!
In all, a good weekend. I’d love to go back again!