Category: Everyday Stuff (page 1 of 3)

Fringe Theatre – Fractals

Every year, the Fringe Festival comes to Toronto, offering up innovative and alternative theatre performances by local performers. The choose the performances by lottery.

Kelly and I headed to Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, Canada’s oldest alternative theatre devoted to the development and production of new Canadian work, to catch a performance of limited run of Fractals.

fractals

Fractals is Krista White’s exploration of self-realization, fragility and strength. She uses storytelling and song to ask, What moments define us? And who do we really think we are?

Stories about writers block, growing up queer, loneliness and our underestimated connection with nature and with one another is examined in each piece through a variety of characters.

Waiting in the Backspace for Fractals to begin

Waiting in the Backspace for Fractals to begin

Krista grew up in and around Saint John, New Brunswick surrounded by beautiful elements of nature, the ocean, the river, the highest tides in the world, beaches, forests…these elements almost always enshrouded in fog (used a theme throughout her performance). Her life experiences and who she truly is deep at her core, compliments her natural ability to story tell. Krista vividly embodies multiple characters, building intimate and authentic experiences for her audience, as she reveals how they are entwined.

Krista writes from her heart. Her shamelessly honest feelings and breath-taking poetry melt onto the page.  ~ director Christopher Sawchyn

Laughing it up before the show at Linda Griffiths Lane

Laughing it up before the show at Linda Griffiths Lane

And while we were there, we took a selfie at Linda Griffiths Lane, named after the Canadian actress who, among countless other films, was in the 1983 lesbian film, Lianna.

A nontraditional July 1st

Rather than doing a “Canada Day” thing, We headed out to the Royal Ontario Museum to see, among other things, Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.  Coming from the musée du quai Branly in Paris, it explores the 5000-year-old multifaceted world of tattooing, showcasing a visual history of body art and markings, ancient tools, and commissioned tattooed silicone body reproductions, inked by some of the most respected tattoo artists in the contemporary world.

I am familiar with the history of tattoos and women, being tattooed myself and being prone to conduct research. I even went as far as conducting a study (survey plus in-person interviews) with tattooed women, just to satiate my curiosity. There was little at the show that was surprising to me, but from what I gather from the other attendees, there was a lot of new information for a lot of people.

Kelly and I also went to Chihuily’s exhibit, From Sand. From Fire. Comes Beauty.  The work of Chihuily’s team is stunning.

Afterwards we headed toward home and walked around the neighbourhood as it prepared for the night’s Trans Pride festivities.

Here are some photographs of our trip.


Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.

Drawing of a body tattoo design

Drawing of a body tattoo design

 

I believe this is an Algerian woman, with tattooed face

I believe this is an Algerian woman, with tattooed face

 

A beautiful old book repurposed to hold photographs of tattoos

A beautiful old book repurposed to hold photographs of tattoos

 

 

 


From Sand. From Fire. Comes Beauty.

Chihuily's work, reflected in black glass

Chihuily’s work, reflected in black glass

 

Kelly on the other side of a magnificent work by Chihuily

Kelly on the other side of a magnificent work by Chihuily

 

 

She tried to photobomb us, but I saw her and started laughing. After she told us a story about her being photobombed we asked her to please photobomb us.

She tried to photobomb us, but I saw her and started laughing. After she told us a story about her being photobombed we asked her to please photobomb us.

 

 

I had to take a quick minute out of the day to sketch Picasso next to Picasso, in a rainbow scratchboard

I had to take a quick minute out of the day to sketch Picasso next to Picasso, in a rainbow scratchboard


The Gay Village

A local Axe bodyspray billboard overlooking a Green Space Festival beer garden

A local Axe bodyspray billboard overlooking a Green Space Festival beer garden

 

A drag performer at Garage, a Gay Village bar on Church St. Toronto

A drag performer at Garage, a Gay Village bar on Church St. Toronto

 

 

Rainbow (and regular) donuts available during Pride weekend

Rainbow (and regular) donuts available during Pride weekend

Think Like a Freak

cover of the book Think Like A FreakThink Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
2014
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Hardcover
No. of Pages: 268
ISBN: 978-1-44341-651-1


Let me start by saying, I don’t know the “Freakonomics” brand, I have no clue who the authors are beyond what they say in this book, but I was vaguely aware it might be related to some economics theory book I never read (it is). Thinking “like a freak” simply means thinking outside the box, and I love stories that make me think outside the box, or at least, give me a new way of looking at things. Their explanation of why we all still get that stupid, obvious “Nigerian Prince” email scam made me realize it’s about sifting out all the intelligent, hard to fool people and directly targeting only those people who actually WILL believe it. Now, take that theory and apply it to local politics, and suddenly I am starting to understand how Rob Ford was voted Mayor of Toronto.

The chapter “How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded” is a great primer for learning how you can talk to homophobes – not that this topic is directly discussed, but rather, it talks about the difficulty of ideology and extremist thinking, and gives you tips on how to at least try. It’s a fairly simple, fast read that gives a whole lot of stories to illustrate their ideas. Apparently, it’s been poorly received by many people who bought into the “Freakonomics” brand only because much has been said before, in relation to economics. But if you haven’t read those, don’t follow the radio broadcasts or podcasts or whatever else they run, I would recommend this to help you see things from a different angle.

The Village – A Peek at the History

Toronto’s Gay Village is a tiny, long-running enclave of queerness, freedom, security and acceptance in Toronto. Bounded (approximately) by Gerrard Street, Yonge Street, Charles Street and Jarvis Street, this 146 acre Village is home to dozens of bars, restaurants, an LGBT-friendly community centre, AIDS memorials, the yearly Pride Parade and so much more. And it’s a place that my wife Kelly and I call home.

AIDS red ribbon of lights

AIDS red ribbon of lights

As early as 1810, this land is tied to gay life. A large portion of the area was owned by Alexander Wood, a notorious gay man who was sent home from the “colony” for his scandalous behaviour involving young army men and penises.

Now, it’s a thriving haven of queerness where people who don’t live here like to say it’s full of middle aged gay white guys. But, as someone who lives here, I can assure you it’s as diverse as any part of Toronto is: every sexuality, every gender, every race and every body type is accepted here, as long as you are friendly, polite and tolerant. From ancient gay men to heterosexual hipsters with babies to questioning homeless youth to f*cked-up meth addicts looking to score. They are here.

It’s our home. It keeps us humble, thankful and happy, and who could ask for more than that from their tiny village?

And what does that mean? Well, two weekends ago some guy on some kind of drug stood on the street corner and took good pants off. And on. And off and on and off and finally on again.

Just the other evening, while we had dinner in a restaurant patio, an angry woman with mental wellness issues was screaming at the top of her lungs at passersby. She spotted us and smiled and asked for money while apologizing for bothering us. A couple of toonies later, although she was still angry (she REALLY did not like the green-haired woman on the dress) she immediately stopped yelling at people and eventually headed on her way (I think it was because we were respectful and friendly, even striking up a 30-second conversation with her).

Kelly smiling on the restaurant patio

Kelly smiling on the restaurant patio

That’s just a little slice of life in Toronto’s Gay Village.

The reverse Easter Bunny 

I doubted Kelly when she told me Ella, our young Siamese ,was stealing her chocolate Easter eggs and hiding them. Until I found this egg, hiding by the cat food…

  

The Garage on Church St

The Garage patio, on Church St

The Garage patio, on Church St

I am the quintessential Canadian.

It is late March, and the temperature was slated to hit 11°. I wanted a pint or two on a pub patio: that is Canadian thing #1. We head to Garage on Church St., which was the most likely of the three corner pubs to have sun and therefore have an open patio. As we approached, and this was around 4:30pm, we saw a waiter unlocking the tables and chairs. Although no one was on it, I said I was happy to see the patio was open. It was not yet open, he said, it hadn’t been cleaned but was hoping to open a couple of tables at the back.

We headed in, asked about sitting on the patio and the same guy said, “just oh God no, I can’t stomach cleaning that right now, it’s disgusting.” He made me have a sad face, but I REALLY do not want to know what he saved us from.

So we sat near one of the garage doors (you do know it’s called “Garage” for a reason, right?), which he kindly opened for us. I sat in my big wool sweater (Canadian thing #2) near the wide open wall, and we ordered a pitcher, and eventually some steak fajitas.

They arrived smoking hot on a cast iron plate (pro tip: do not touch the cast iron, it’s hurty). I apologized (Canadian thing #3) to the table that was downwind for getting a face full of our delicious sizzling fajita smoke. After I ignored the previously-mentioned pro tip and burnt my thumb, and after we were done, the waiter arrived to take away the cast iron plate. I quickly said “Be careful it’s hot! Oh, I guess you know that, sorry.” That was Canadian things #4 and #5 combined – cautioning him not to burn himself, and then apologizing for cautioning him not to burn himself, as if he was an amateur.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rain and more rain, somewhere between 10-20 inches (I have the temperature conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius alright, but am terrible at just about everything else, which can be described as an “old” Canadian thing, so that makes it #6).

I have skipped over the guy in rubber shirt and rubber shorts, the family walking around with bunny ears, the woman who refused to pay her bill and took it out on the “krafty” drag queen promo, the police arriving about 15 minutes after she paid her bill and left, the people looking enviously from O’Grady’s over to the Garage where the sun was… ahh, there’s no place like home.

Krafty ad for Donnarama and Sofonda Cox

“Krafty” ad for Donnarama and Sofonda Cox, before the drunk woman trashed it

I am loved

My wife went to the library, which sells its withdrawn books to raise money. They are very VERY cheap. She bought me Cook & Freeze by Dana Jacobi, just in time for a 4-day weekend. #Iamloved.

Cook and Freeze cookbook

Going where now?

So I was going to say something about today’s 10-minute massage at the Great American Backrub. And I was going to use the phrase, “going to hell in a handbasket”, to summarize my week off work. And I thought, oh, I know, I should have a cute bunny carrying a handbasket, because that’s what I picture when I use the phrase “going to hell in a handbasket”.

So I googled “bunny carrying handbasket”. Got these images:

 

 

before

 

Cute. Then I filtered the images by usage, so I could view only those labelled for reuse. I got this. Um, what?

after

Cumbrae’s Butcher Shop

As a treat, we occasionally shop at Cumbrae’s, a local butcher shop (yes, the Gay Village has it’s own high-end, locally sourced, grass and corn fed beef, butcher shop). I bought two filet mignon for dinner tonight (pepper steak, yum yum!). Once it was home, I weighed it. Not sure why, but I did.

light

As you can see, the sticker says 1.315 pounds, but my little scale says 1.054 pounds. I checked my scale with a package of pasta I just picked up, because maybe my scale was wrong.

compare

Here it is reading in grams: a 500 gram package of pasta weighs in at 539 grams, including packaging. So my scale is fine. I weighed the meat one more time, and calculated the cost difference (have I ever mentioned I am a forensic auditor by day?). That was a .257 pound difference. At $34.99 a pound, that’s a $9 difference. And that’s a big deal. So I headed back to Cumbrae’s, where the same fellow weighed the meat again (now weighing 1.34 pounds with the extra packaging). I suggested that maybe he put the wrong sticker on the package (you know, trying to give him an “easy out”). He tried two scales, and could offer no explanation. Neither could I. I brought my food home, ready to rip them a new one on Yelp. Because, you know, I am all powerful like that. Anyway…

Then I thought, is it possible that because I weighed in 2 different units (pounds versus grams), that my scale was right for grams and wrong for pounds? You see, on my lunch minute at work, I am reading Proofiness, The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception, a book about how the use of numbers (including their measurement units) can fool people. I am slowly learning (being all of about 5 pages in – I did say it was a lunch minute, not a lunch hour, after all)…

I had to check before Yelping, so I weighed the meat in grams:

okay

608 grams. I converted 608 grams to pounds:

IMG_0897

Exactly what Cumbrae’s said: 1.34 pounds with the wrapping. They were absolutely right, I was absolutely wrong. Author Charles Seife  has already taught me something that saved me some embarrassment, and would have saved me a bit more had I thought about his words first.

Plus I still have delicious filet mignon tonight for dinner, so there’s that.

Not putting that energy out there

I just deleted a post. Is it the right thing to post something about being disillusioned? It is momentary, to be sure. So is it worth putting that “energy ” out there in the universe? By posting it, by sharing my disappointment, it makes it possible to remember it, revisit it time and again. It is like a dog rolling in a pile of sh*t. That’s not a stink I want to carry forward with me. No, I think I will let it go. In a day or two, I will read this, nod my head, and not look back. #freedomtoletgo

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