Archive for the 'Toronto Dates' Category

My New Best Friend

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

This weekend I was at the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, which is a sumptuous drool-fest of fabulous art. What could be better on a summer’s day? Sunshine, eye candy and overpriced but delicious ice cream bars make for a perfect afternoon.

After taking a brief break on the grass to eat chip truck french fries I spotted a booth that looked extra colourful and cheerful. It was filled with exuberant embroidered portraits of some of my favourite icons. I gasped when I saw Will Ferrel in my favourite incarnation as Ron Burgundy. A Bill Murray portrait was smirking at me. I spotted Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys and almost started applauding. Here was an artist happily honouring the unsung heroes of lowbrow humour. I nearly fainted when I saw David Sedaris staring back at me in embroidered form.

Art doesn’t always have to make serious statements, make us furrow our brows and rub our chins in deep contemplation. It can be whimsical and make us happy. I studied my new favourite artist’s website and discovered that she was a shy child growing up and loved McDonalds french fries. I was a shy french fry eater as well. Obviously we would have been best friends growing up and could have snorted over immature movies and fart jokes together. It is clear that I am destined to have her art on my walls. The embroidered David Sedaris will be mine.

Another Hot Docs

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Hot Docs, my favourite festival of the year, has come and gone. I adore documentaries. I love peeking into people’s lives and being inspired, informed or incensed. With so many documentaries in such a short span of time I am petrified that I will be forced to kick myself incessantly when I hear about the amazing ones I missed.

I can rest easy knowing that I saw Charles Bradley: Soul of America. It’s the story of a down and out aspiring singer and James Brown impersonator who released his first album at the age of sixty-two. It is about dreams that won’t die and perseverance, but above all it is about a beautiful soul that couldn’t be crushed despite heartbreaking hardships. Somehow his spirit remained so pure and loving and hopeful. Naturally I cried like a maniac and of course I am going to get his debut album, stat.

When I was describing the movie to my fellow doc nerds one friend looked on in horror and asked, “He wasn’t at the screening was he?”

I knew right away that my friend was concerned for the safety of Charles Bradley because he had witnessed first hand what I can be like when I am overcome with emotion after a documentary. I am not particularly skilled when it comes to pulling myself together after a sobfest. I tend to gush and frighten people.

Enjoy the trailer below and to make it more like a Hot Docs experience imagine a sniveling woman clutching her Kleenex to her chest and doing everything in her power not to burst into spontaneous cheers and applause.

Granny Catches a Band

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The other night I had plans to hear a band at a bar I haven’t been in for nearly two decades. The last time I was there I was in my mid-twenties with a girlfriend who had a crush on the tattooed lead singer of a band who called himself Psycho Dave and sang in a death metal devil voice. When we went to listen to bands she would spend most of the night trying to situate me in the right position to hide her bum which she considered too big. I’d smoke too much and feel claustrophobic while trying to understand what my friend with the perfectly sized backside saw in a guy who didn’t even have an decent devil voice.

Last night I went to hear a folksy band with a different friend. Rather than worrying if I looked cool like I did in my youth, I made sure to have wads of Kleenex in my purse along with an extra sweater so that I wouldn’t catch a chill and make my cold worse. Times have changed. I felt old. I brightened a little when the bouncer at the door asked my friend for I.D. “Wow! We must look pretty young and hip if we are getting carded,” I thought to myself as I rifled among the tissues and throat lozenges for my wallet. The bouncer stared at me blankly when I approached. I paused, waiting for him to ask for my I.D. He continued to just look at me. I dropped my wallet back in my purse. Finally he said, “How much have you been drinking tonight?” 

“What does that have to do with anything!?” I wanted to shout. My friend looks young enough to be carded and I look like I have a drinking problem? How am I supposed to enjoy a night of listening to sweet folk music now? Instead of having the glow of youth I have drunkface. I wanted to demand answers from the bouncer, ask him if he is required to ask every other person if they have been drinking, if asking for I.D. is random, and what is it about me that seemed to indicate public inebriation. I held my tongue, afraid that my indignation would make me look like a belligerent drunk. “I’ve just had a pint!” I spluttered. “She did too!” pointing an accusatory finger at my youthful looking friend. And with that I pulled out a tissue, blew my nose with dignity and entered my old haunt.

Apologies and Readings

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

I had a little dust up with my buffet buddy last week. He confessed that he was feeling resentful about my errant friend behaviour. I had dropped the ball when making plans too many times in a row. I let life get in the way and allowed my anti-social, introverted tendencies to take over. I was grateful for the tongue lashing. It was a good wake up call. Sometimes ego and defensiveness need to be set aside and crappy behaviour needs to be acknowledged. Admitting it, apologizing and trying to make it right hopefully moves me to the category of short term jerk rather than long range asshole.

We decided to go to a book reading at a pub as a reconciliatory evening out. It seemed a perfect way to iron out any residual weirdness since there would be distractions and alcohol involved. We worked things out, we clinked glasses and enjoyed the readings. One of the authors was someone I have respected for a while. I know from past experience that I should not approach people I admire. I tend to get overly excited and then I babble. Years ago The Sweetie and I met documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield at Hot Docs. He was in the lobby after a film and I decided to approach him, sure that I would make an insightful comment and then be on my way. Instead I started gushing. I know I said something about his film “rocking my world” ( I never say that) and that “I was going to go home and weep.” I felt The Sweetie’s hand tighten on my arm in warning. Nick Broomfield looked perplexed and slightly disturbed as his handler pulled him away.

“That was then,” I thought to myself as I sashayed over to where the author was seated, a smart and writerly comment rehearsed in my mind. “I used to live in a haunted house but the rent was really cheap!” I blurted instead. I felt myself perspiring but I persevered and tried my best to be charming.

At the end of the night my buddy and I embraced and agreed that we were cool. I started home, enjoying the peace that comes from walking in the rain when things work out. I was happy to have faced a confrontation, preserved a friendship and set my ego aside. I was content.

I got home and smiled at myself in the mirror. That is when I noticed that I had giant pieces of Caesar salad embedded in my teeth. Not little specks of green but mammoth tooth obliterating chunks. The whole time that I thought I was being witty and insightful while chatting with writers I had an entire salad bowl stuck in my teeth. I thought that I had effectively eaten humble pie that evening but apparently I still needed a slap across the teeth with a head of romaine. I guess me and my buffet buddy aren’t completely cool just yet.

CNE Time Again

Monday, September 5th, 2011

It is the final day of the Canadian National Exhibition, which always symbolizes the end of summer. I wasn’t planning on going as I am on a strict summer-isn’t-over campaign, but then a girlfriend called and exclaimed, “I want to eat fried food on a stick, go on  rides, walk through the buildings and buy something stupid! Are you in?” Who can resist that? Of course I’m in. She had me at fried food on a stick. As The Sweetie and I were making our plans I said, “maybe you can try the Behemoth Burger”, a diabolical delicacy consisting of a burger nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon optional.

“That’s true,” The Sweetie said, licking his chops, “I can split it with the other meat eaters.” (Since oddly enough they don’t have a vegetarian soy Behemoth on offer). He looked dreamy with anticipation.

“Or we could split the cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme donuts. Or I could try the chocolate dipped bacon.” He continued.

I was sure that I saw a faint trickle of saliva forming in the corner of his mouth.

“Or we could have the deep fried butter!” I added excitedly.

There was silence as The Sweetie snapped out of his revelry and stared at me like I had grown three heads.

“That’s just disgusting.” He said.

Put A Burt On It

Monday, July 11th, 2011

It was the fifth anniversary of my friend’s store this weekend and she threw a lovey bash to celebrate. There was delicious punch, cupcakes and a great vibe all around. It was so nice to lounge on her lovely patio, meet some friendly fashionistas and honour a huge accomplishment.

I was very happy to pick up some brilliant stickers by the delightful Amy from Smitten Kitten. I love her whimsical designs and her sense of humour. She has created the Put a Burt On It sticker collection, inspired by the Portlandia episode “put a bird on it”. It pokes fun at the trend of putting birds on everything and sadly, I am one of those suckers who fall for it every time. Place a bird on any decrepit item and I will suddenly find it achingly tender and irresistible. It can’t be any bird of course. A bright parrot won’t do. It has to be a lone bird, looking free yet slightly lonely, or birds in flight, but not unromantic Canadian geese.

Amy’s answer to the bird trend is to put a Burt on it instead. Who can resist that charming rogue and his chest pelt? Burt Reynolds is a man goddammit and he has the man fur to prove it. He flashed that hairy chest at every opportunity and made the mustache king. Try all you want, hipsters and porn stars, the Burt Reynolds stash was an entity in itself, never to be duplicated or rivaled.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Burt growing up but I now feel a nostalgic affection for simpler times when men got into capers with chimpanzees and didn’t wax their chests. Burt makes me happy and I am thrilled that I will be able to pass on the joy to others.