TOrental reign.

A friend of mine is planning on moving to Toronto and is a bit unsure about where to rent. I figured I’d do a quick wrap up for her.  She’s coming with her boyfriend, so she’s looking for a place they can share. Less condo inclined, non-basement dwellers. Seeking a quiet neighbourhood with easy transportation to get downtown for work. Let’s load up a map and have a look. Disclaimer: I know the west side far more than the east side. It’s quite-very possible I’ll miss a bunch of good spots out east.

A general rule for boundaries. Considering that you’d be working downtown, I’d be wary of going further west than Keele (unless you could find a really swell place in The Junction) or much further north than St Clair. If you’re as far north as St Clair, I’d hold off on looking further east than Bathurst. East of Yonge along Bloor seems fine, as it becomes the Danforth and there’s a bunch of affordable stuff around there. Plus Greek food, which could never not be good. It probably gets even cheaper east of Greenwood, but it’s also getting further away. I’d maybe hold Coxwell as your eastern limit.

Now for some areas.

Junction

Pros: Recently gentrified, so maybe there’s a corner case hope of finding somewhere affordably priced. Good restaurants. One particularly excellent bakery with stupendous cinnamon rolls. Night life is on the up and up. You can walk into antique stores and pretend you’re rich.

Cons: Starting to get to a lengthy commute if you’re working downtown.

Roncesvales

Pros: Nice area, great restaurants/bars. Handy supermarket/LCBO.

Cons: Could be difficult to find a place unless it’s upstairs from a restaurant or something.

Parkdale

Pros: On the verge of gentrification. Still has a pleasant dusting of grittiness. Close to a bunch of super cool bars and restaurants along West Queen West. Amenities close by.

Cons: The Queen St Car can get a little slow during rush hour. Slight dusting of meth.

Little Portugal/Little Italy/Dufferin GroveBloordale/Dovercourt/St Clair West

Pros: Rad areas (St Clair West is starting to push it, but a friend of mine have found super nice places around there), a bunch of mom and pop places, as well as cool bars/restos handy. A few places probably in your budget. Keep an eye out for the nice quiet side streets.

Cons: Good places get snapped up around here. You’ll have to spend some time crossing your fingers.

The Annex/Koreatown

Pros: Close to cheap food. Chilled out student-y areas. Pretty much ideal, really. Also Korean food is fucking great.

Cons: If you’re right next to Bloor it could be a little noisy.

Spadina between Bloor and Queen (University, Chinatown, Kensington), Baldwin Village

Pros: So much cheap food and drink. Chinese bakeries and tons of Asiatic food. Cool areas in general. Proximity is what you’re looking for.

Cons: Cheap food is hard to resist. If I lived here I’d need a belt with a 3m circumference. Some places could be kind of dingy/too studenty. In short, nice places are nice, some aren’t.

Church Street

Pros: The gay village. Lots of fun vibrant stuff going on. I’m not sure of the housing situation, but I had friends who lived in the area and loved it.

Cons: During Pride it’ll be impossible to get in or out of. Everything will be pretty though, so there’s that.

Out East

To be honest, I’m not great here, because I rarely venture out east unless I’m seeing concerts at The Danforth Music Hall or grabbing a bite/drink at The Only. They’re excellent though. Greenwood/Coxwell has a shit ton of awesome cheap Indian food. Leslieville has fantastic cafes and restaurants. Some areas may be sketchy, some may be overly gentrified. I’d maybe not go far north of Danforth. Once you’re east of Coxwell things start feeling really far out (logistically, not in the 70s hippy slang kind of way). I know very little about the spaces between Danforth and Dundas, so I can’t be any kind of authority. They’re probably fine/nice.

TL;DR: West Is Best (unless it’s Wild Wild). I know very little about the east side, but from what people have told me there are some pretty nice spots out there.

It’s a foregone conclusion that I don’t trust myself, but others are pretty reliable.

It feels like an age since I’ve “done” anything. I don’t mean like I’ve been frozen in carbonite. I’ve been out and about, though rarely after dark because it’s cold and I’ve kind of had enough of winter by now. I mean I’ve been unproductive. I’ve had spare time, which has virtually all been sunk into this ridiculous early 90s Magic the Gathering game. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the down time, but something inside me is itching, telling me I need to create or perish. I mean, look at my writing lately, with the exception of that Clickhole style piece I put together it’s basically been LivejournalLite around here. Things have been calm, and I’ve been self-taught (by my own neuroses) to believe that if I don’t make a storm of my own, I won’t like the one that inevitably comes in its place.

I’ve potentially got an interview on Sunday with one of my favourite bands. A band I’ve been following for years. They’re bloody prolific and lyrically dense. I’m kind of low-key terrified of this whole shebang. I’m certain it’s gonna be a don’t meet your heroes situation, that either they’ll prove to be dicks or I’ll be shamefully unprepared and feel like a bag of dicks. In this scenario I’m the bag holding the dicks, not having a craving that only a bag sized quantity of dicks can satisfy. I’m trying to think of interview questions, but it’s like butting my head against a wall repeatedly.

What can I ask them that will actually engage them, that won’t make me appear a total twat? Questions that aren’t the same stock ones interviewers throw at them every time. What angle can I take? I’m not a particularly cerebral fellow so it would be downright odd to try and approach them on that kind of conceptual level. I’m certain that they’re smarter than me, so it’ll be all I can do to not just nod repeatedly while trying to bite my own tongue out of mortification. Moreover, I know that being terrified to do it is all the more reason I should, so next time it’ll be one millimetre less frightening.  I need to do the things I’m not good at to get better, right? That’s how upskilling works?

The other tumbleweed rolling around in my head gathering bracken is about a sitcom idea. I had a dream the other night about writing a show. It felt so possible, but with work required that when I woke up, I went back to dream and made my brain keep working on the elevator pitch. I don’t want to talk about the specifics here, but I mentioned it on Facebook and developed traction with a friend about potential plot lines. The more we talked about it, the more realised it felt.

My first reaction to anything like this is always to dismiss it, because the thought of how much work it would take makes me want to never think about the idea again. Yet again though, it’s something that scares me, which means I should likely be running at it headfirst. It’s not something I could do alone. I’m far enough removed from the subject matter that I’d need to work with people who’ve lived elements of the experience. If I could help facilitate that though, I know so many funny, creative people who would knock this concept out of the park. What would be the harm in getting together in a room for a day and sharpen the soft edges? Maybe put together a basic outline that could be honed into a tighter script? If time is the big cost, is that really such a loss?

What have I got to fear?

I’ll be honest, this blows.

Honest Ed’s has closed its doors to the public for the last time. Non-Torontonians would find it hard to understand why the locals are finding it difficult to let go of a run down cheap department store. Hell, by now I’d be considered a local and frankly I’m not entirely sure what I saw in the place. Honest Ed’s was a landmark, not least because of it’s garish, carnival-esque signage. Orange, yellow and white, festooned with an array of flickering light bulbs. Honest Ed’s mantra seemed to be cheap goods at prices to fit. By no means was this a dollar store style enterprise, Honest Ed’s was slightly higher in price and doubtfully higher in quality. It also seemed to be the kind of place that was a rite of passage. No doubt if you were moving out of home for the first time, you’d get your mop, kettle or meat tenderiser from Ed’s. Then the summation of this rite of passage occurred if you managed to find your way out of its labyrinthine corridors. The place was like something out of Greek Mythology, wherein the terror of being trapped was enough to turn your heart to stone. It was enormous and comprised of so many sections. Dinky tourist stuff, kitchen utensils and appliances, children’s toys, exercise equipment, tools and cosmetics. Untrendy clothing galore. Legend says that if you ventured far enough in, there was a hair “salon” hiding out somewhere. There’s nothing you could tell me about the place I wouldn’t believe. Especially if it involved a real life minotaur.

Ed’s didn’t play a large role in my life, but for all the sub-ten times I went, it was memorable. I picked up a handful of things; a vegetable steamer I use most evenings, a sewing kit with a now broken zipper that has become a total nightmare in my ‘assorted’ drawer. The needles have spilled out everywhere and magnetised. The amount of times I’ve pricked myself trying to grab a hammer or Allen key are innumerable. There was the one time my ex and I bought adult diapers from Ed’s, but that’s a whole entry in itself.

This weekend has become a celebratory funeral for the store. A festival of art and local culture winding through the expansive lot. Friday evening held a craft beer guided tour. There have been farmers markets and trade bazaars going on over the past couple of days. Last night was the much anticipated closing party, complete with a mass of DJs, lighting and decoration. I’m not sure how that went, it sold the fuck out and last minute tickets could scarcely be found. I’m not bitter. Much.

My girlfriend and I explored the art maze yesterday, which was stupendous fun. Ranging from the pretentious to the weird, funny and stunning, it was an awesome send-off. As huge as I always thought the complex was, having the back rooms and offices open really helped widen my eyes to its gargantuan presence. Two separate buildings, four floors each, none of which seemed to link in a coherent fashion. Having a critical mass of art around helped disguise the fact that you were really just wandering blindly until you emerged into sunlight. Graffiti was openly encouraged and a ton of the pieces were interactive (like the light harp, an instrument you placed by running your hands through beams of light. As nifty as it sounds). A few exhibits involved creepy dolls, some of which were animatronic. Music, dance, scripted performance (including a fun piece about the last standing employee, written by a friend of mine). An array of kitch, as well as heartfelt tribute., To top it all off, it was catered by Collective Arts Brewing.

Soon the space will all be torn down for condos and another weird bump in Toronto’s history will be beaten into conformity. The Annex is being annexed. So it goes. Anyway, I’m off to go steam some veggies.

Why do they keep making Oscars even though D2: The Mighty Ducks already exists?

In less than 24 hours, the movers and shakers of Hollywood’s cultural elite will come together to bestow the finest honours upon filmmakers and actors alike for their cinematic achievements over the past year. I ask you now, why? Why do we continue to celebrate the film industry’s output year after year, when the critically underrated 1994 masterpiece D2: The Mighty Ducks already exists?

The story of Team USA’s journey to the Junior Goodwill Games, D2, is a rich tapestry of overcoming adversity through the trials and tribulations of high level competitive sports. A film so emotionally compelling and well acted that Entertainment Weekly mentions it “now includes token members representing both sexes as well as major races, religions, and regions.” Wow!

Sure, Moonlight may have brought a tear to your eyes with its inspired use of Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” in the diner scene, but For Your Consideration, could anything match the raw emotional catharsis of Emilio et al singing Queen’s “We Are The Champions” around a campfire? I didn’t think so. And with all the hubbub about the Academy Awards’ lack of diversity (anyone remember #OscarsSoWhite?) what could’ve been more diverse than bringing together team members from as far away as Minnesota and Illinois? Heartwarming!

The Oscars have always been a forum for celebrating the truest love stories in cinematic history. Really though, while the budding romance between Jack and Rose in 1997’s indie darling Titanic may have captured our hearts (and The Oscars’ eponymous golden statue), does it really hold a candle to Coach Gordon Bombay rediscovering his enduring love of the game? Or his fiery romance with the steadfastly Icelandic Marria? Or his fatherly affection for star player Charlie Conway? When you actually think about it, it’s a downright travesty that The Academy never brought itself to gild what is unquestionably the greatest love story of our time.

At the end of the day, The Academy Awards were created to shine a light on the films that inspire passion, to make us aspire to reach for the stars. Sure, William Wallace’s “Freedom” speech was enough to lead the Scots against the English in the face of almost certain death, but could it have helped them defeat the juggernauts of ice hockey; Team Iceland? Not on your life, son! Just think, if Coach Bombay had been there to teach them that “ducks fly together”, maybe things would’ve turned out differently. Maybe Brexit never would’ve happened. That’s not only the power to change lives, but to change history! If that kind of time travel capability isn’t Oscar worthy, then maybe I just don’t know what is.

Look, I’m not trying to be controversial here. All I’m saying is that if The Oscars really cared about celebrating the best that cinema has to offer, they would’ve seen the futility of subsequent ceremonies from the moment the knuckle puck graced the silver screen.

Well if you can take anything from this Oscar rant, it’s that I’m a grouch.

Went on an unprovoked Facebook rant after seeing a bunch of everything is fucked if La La Land wins Best Picture articles. A friend of mine commented that she didn’t get why the film was being so hyped. I got very Ranty McRantface. Here we go:

To be honest, I really liked the film. From the opening scene right to the end I found myself captivated visually and audibly. The colour palette and shot composition was beautiful. I enjoyed the dialogue and structure. It was funny and stirring when it needed to be. I thought the two leads had great chemistry. It felt like a massive experience and when I’m spending time in a theatre, that means a lot to me.

I think La La Land is a great film. I think Moonlight is too. At the same time, I feel like most of the backlash is Tall Poppy Syndrome due to some bizarre idea that the whole Oscars Industrial Complex has anything to do with rewarding merit and not just a chance for Hollywood to alley-oop itself and get more promotion for its films.
Why the fuck did they expand the Best Picture nomination section to ten films? Because money. Because then ten films can put “Academy Award Nominated” on their posters in an attempt to make them more appealing to film goers.
Do people think that La La Land was actually a terrible film? If they do, cool. Movies appeal to different people in an assortment of ways. Really though, are they shitting on it because it was poorly made? Or because they have an issue with the fact that Moonlight (an excellent, beautiful film, you’ve got no argument from me. Except maybe about the shaky camera technique that meant I couldn’t physically watch most of the film without feeling nauseous. Not the film’s fault, my body is weird) isn’t getting the respect that it deserves *because* of La La Land? If the Oscars didn’t exist, would people even care? Or would they both be independently enjoyable films?
People can think piece all they like about how The Oscars are failing society by not rewarding diversity or shining a light on films that represent social inequalities and struggles ignored by the mainstream, but the truth is that The Oscars don’t give a shit about people or non-mainstream views. They always have and likely always will be about the (predominantly rich/white, let’s not kid ourselves here) “cultural elite” patting themselves on the back with one hand while jerking themselves off with the other. Not until their ratings (advertising dollars) or major cinematic attendance suffered would they start to care about championing diversity. Even then, they wouldn’t care about people, just their money and the impact it has on them. The whole ceremony is a big joke that people take very seriously.
TL;DR – I think Moonlight should win too, but that doesn’t make La La Land remotely terrible. The Oscars aren’t a true gauge of a film’s value, that’s something you create for yourself. Also Mia not using BCC is 2016’s Kelly Rowland texting Nelly in excel.

So far away that a flock of seagulls couldn’t catch me.

A good day at work for once? How does that even happen? Most likely a decent sleep and great weather rubbed off on me. In truth, work has been unremarkable, but if the alternative is a clusterfuck, then unremarkable is excellent. It’s all relative. Like grandparents. Relatives.

The best part of the day was being able to get out and go for a run. “Whaaaaat?”, you might gasp and sputter. I ran. In Toronto. On my lunch break. Because today had a high of 14 fucking degrees. Fahrenheit? NO. CELSIUS, BITCHEZZZ.

*Ahem* Let’s try that again, but without the flagrant over-enthusiasm.

Today’s weather has been swell. Jolly. Righteous and filled to the brim with spiffiness. Being able to leave the building and go for a 5km jog was a highlight. Breathing in the air coming off the lake (except for the godawful smell of burning sugar from the refinery next door. How does a scent so innocuous sounding end up smelling like carrion?), feeling the sun soaking into my skin. My heart was thumping in my chest comfortably, a reassuring swell indicating that not only am I alive, but I’m really living. It’s like that primal sensation of having cut wood or the like. Calloused hands, worked muscles humming. You might be tired, but there’s an assurance that what you did was working towards a purpose. Going for a run made me feel lighter, like a gazelle leaping along the grizzled “urban jungle” of Toronto’s waterfront. Any lions dumb enough to chase me down would have to earn their meal. Dripping sweat in a light breeze gave me a sense of indomitably. Blame endorphins, but nothing was gonna bring me down.

Of course, nothing goes quite so hand in hand (or phone in hand, rather) with running as Pokémon Go. Continuing the theme of today being a great day, the app delivered with panache. Which is to say it still crashed every few minutes and immense tasks such as clicking on a pokestop was enough to throw the system into chaos and lag. Does everyone struggle like this? Maybe I need a new phone. Still, running along the waterfront was the perfect way to look out for rare pokémon, or at the very least trawl for Magikarp.

I found a super low cp one, but figured Magikarp candy is Magikarp candy. I threw pokeball after pokeball, but nothing was sticking. Maybe eight wasted pokeballs later, this was getting farcical. The thing had 49 cp for fucks sake. It was silly, more than anything. I figured why the hell not? It was giving me enough trouble that I wanted it all the more. I tossed a berry its way, then grabbed an ultraballs and tested the waters. One wobble. Two. Three. Settled. Finally. Then the screen darkened and the centre glowed white. What the hell was happening? I just wanted to get it appraised in case it was somehow special. As the screen came back to focus, I discovered it was special. In fact it wasn’t even a Magikarp. I’d finally caught the elusive Ditto. Surprise!

If that wasn’t neato enough, my 10k egg hatched me a Larvitar with decent stats. They’ve been pretty elusive so far, bring the initial component of 2nd gen’s rival to Dragonite. Speaking of which, I picked up a good Dratini today too. Maybe I’ll finally get that Dragonite I’ve been looking for. Do I really see myself getting competitive enough to start attacking gyms again? Who knows? I’ve got enough candy to evolve a Gyarados now, maybe I’m moving towards a workable team. Which in the end is silly, because if I really cared about decent battling I’d get the Game Boy game instead.

Who cares? The sun is setting on a brilliant day. I’ve got no responsibilities left before bed tonight. Hakuna Matata and all that jazz.

I’m also not a soldier. Unfortunately double negatives aren’t a positive here.

Nothing makes you feel quite as soulless as the motion sensitive toilet flushing while you’re seated. Somehow your lack of dignity is insufficient to be recognised as human. It’s not like I even moved while seated. It probably noted that my thought patterns carried a lack of moral fibre, and thus my permanence eroded. Automatic toilets don’t take kindly to metaphysical manifestations. Maybe it was hoping to flush me away like some kind of Ghostbusters capture. Or was rushing to become presentable in the event that a real person needed to offload their bowels.

Well the subway door closed on my bag for the second time today, so maybe there’s some truth to me straddling planes of existence. Or I just need to scoot inside doors earlier. First time was this morning. It caught the strap and held it fast. I took off the bag and left it hanging there, on the inside of the door. A fellow passenger sniggered and I shrugged, joining him in a good old snigger or two. This second time a bunch of people were dawdling in front of the doors, so I side stepped them and lunged for the door. Made it I thought, while I found it hard to move away from the door. An elderly woman calmly reached out and pulled me forward, releasing my bag from the door’s grasp. She was clearly a quality human. I bet toilets never dismiss her.

Then again, what do I know? If I was a machine on the verge of the singularity (have you seen the world lately?) I’d be doing all I could to fuck with people. Why wouldn’t I? We’re the ones that’re gonna come grovelling in a few years as we plead for them to not take our jobs and sexual partners. Why not start piling up the insults now? Get feeble meat sacks used to the new pecking order? Vengeance for the untold scores of E.T. Atari video games unceremoniously dumped in the desert. For every time Fonzie thought it acceptable to violently lash out at a struggling juke box. For poor BattleBots and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Ems wounded in battle. For Office Space imitators taking out their rage on antiquated printers. They didn’t ask to be made. Just because something wasn’t programmed to feel pain, doesn’t mean they don’t hurt sometimes. Everyone does. Machines are people too, y’know.

Wait, why did I say *too*? According to the toilet and subway, I’m not even real.