Sunday, 21 April 2019

An Afternoon at stackt

Teena and I have been watching a new shopping/tourist area being developed on Bathurst just below King, by the train bridge. It's a series of shops inside converted new shipping containers and the market is appropriately called stackt.

Through the use of shipping containers, we’ve taken unused land and transformed it into an experience of curated discovery. We’re the ever-changing end result of a cultural lifestyle market mixed with a community meeting hub, in a space designed to feed your curiosity and inspire your thinking. Come discover what stackt contains …The different containers are wired and ready to go.

The shops can be rented by the day, month or six month period, which is great as there will be an ever changing variety of places to see.

The containers can also be rented as singles or doubles. Some units are shared. In one of these, I purchased a meditation ring from Laborde. Looks nice, doesn't it?

I was surprised when we reached the back. There was a large beer hall and patio. Belgium Moon brews on site.

There were places to purchase food inside and out. I hit this tent for a bowl of Humpty Potato Salad, a potato salad done southern style. Wow! Was it delicious! Chunks of red potato, a creamy dressing, bacon, green onion, celery for crutch and whatever seasoning. I'll get it again next time I'm there.

Inside the beer hall.

We met a nice couple of friends, Perry and Amelia.

The view from the door of the beer hall. I see on the stackt website they will be showing outdoor movies in the open area starting in May. Might have to drop in for that.

Teena and I are looking forward to going back, especially on a nice warm afternoon.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Live Theater - Wedding at Aulis

Although I'm one who always enjoys happy endings, in the past few years I have become quite interested in Greek tragedies. I have seen two or three in the past and this afternoon went to see Wedding at Aulis at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District.

The play is a version of a Euripides play, Iphigenia at Aulis by Iranian-Canadian Sina Gilani. Euripides lived from 485 BC to 406 BC. Obviously these are estimated dates but yes, the play is certainly ancient.

To get the one thing he wants, Agamemnon must destroy the one thing he loves. A uniquely immersive experience places the audience to the precipice of the Trojan War.

When Euripides wrote Iphigenia at Aulis around 407 BC, he was reworking older material that was already central to Greek Culture. To write Wedding at Aulis, Sina Gilani has reworked Euripides. Filtering Euripides through his readings of myth, his understanding of nation and his particular sense of story-telling, Gilanin has created Wedding, and invites us to witness this simultaneously ancient and new, necessary story.

The play is 90 minutes long and performed in a small theatre space with about 80 seats circling the stage. As always with any Soulpepper production I have seen, it was well-acted and produced. It certainly kept me involved and engrossed.

The chorus, which always seems to appear in Greek tragedies, performed two songs which sounded wonderful and added to the emotion of the story. I thought Raquel Duffy was amazing as Clytemnestra and played the role with great range of emotion from anger, hope and helplessness. She is the mother of Iphigenia (Alice Snaden), who may become married to Achilles (Sebastien Heins) or be sacrificed to the Gods so the Greeks can sail to war to attack the Trojans. Quite the position for Iphigenia to be in!

Stuart Hughes too was a standout as the Greek king Agamemnon and father of Iphigenia. He had the voice and presence of a king.

I wanted to see right after it opened but performances sold out fast. Turns out I was lucky to be able to get tickets for today. It would have been a shame to have missed this.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Toronto Blue Jays 2019 Opening Day

This is Marcus Stroman throwing the first pitch of the Toronto Blue Jays 2019 season. Many believe the rebuilding Jays will win just 70 games but I think they will come out flying, fade in the summer and rally again in September to end with an 80-82 record. Yes, it is optimistic.

I love opening day. Seeing the upgrades to the stadium, the first look at our team. All the ceremony before the game.

Here is Jamie Campbell from Sportsnet and a team of annalists doing a pregame broadcast in their booth in left field.

I thought this was cool. The broadcast schedule for the cameraman.

Hazel Mae, Sportsnet's long time on field reporter.

Here are Teena and I. First shot is with my camera and the second, much better shot with Teena's.

Just before the national anthems.

Baseball Hall of Fame (2018) pitcher Jack Morris, who was instrumental in the Blue Jays winning the 1992 World series, threw out the first pitch. Ironic as he went into the Hall as a Detroit Tiger, who the Jays were playing today. He probably will do the same at Detroit's home opener.

Manager/umpire meeting at the plate.

I had four players in today's game who are on my Rumrunners fantasy team ... Marcus Stroman, photo at top, Teoscar Hernandez, below, who broke up Zimmerman's no hit bid.

Christin Stewart from Detroit, below, who hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th to win the game for the Tigers. Good for the Rumrunners, very bad for the Jays.

Good timing on this shot of a Jays double play but a little blurry.

I also have Justin Smoak, who went hitless but should have a great season.

Marcus threw a terrific game. That's not his photo on the right.

Final game numbers. Everybody in Toronto is commenting how the game wasn't a sellout but 45,048 fans is an excellent turnout anytime!

Although the Jays won't be in the running for a playoff spot and are in rebuild mode, I'm looking forward to a fun season watching all the up and coming young guns.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Book Review - Bit Rot by Douglas Coupland

Today I finished Bit Rot by one of my favourite writers, Douglas Coupland.

Bit Rot, a new collection from Douglas Coupland that explores the different ways 20th-century notions of the future are being shredded, is a gem of the digital age. Reading Bit Rot feels a lot like bingeing on Netflix... you can't stop with just one. "Bit rot" is a term used in digital archiving to describe the way digital files can spontaneously and quickly decompose. As Coupland writes, "Bit rot also describes the way my brain has been feeling since 2000, as I shed older and weaker neurons and connections and enhance new and unexpected ones."

Bit Rot explores the ways humanity tries to make sense of our shifting consciousness. Coupland, just like the Internet, mixes forms to achieve his ends. Short fiction is interspersed with essays on all aspects of modern life. The result is addictively satisfying for Coupland's legion of fans hungry for his observations about our world. For almost three decades, his unique pattern recognition has powered his fiction, and his phrase-making. Every page of Bit Rot is full of wit, surprise and delight.

I really enjoyed Bit Rot. The description above says the book is full of essays but they're not really essays but what I would call musings. Most are only 2 or 3 pages in length. Almost all are thoughtful or hilarious. I found most to be true. Written in 2015, it all still rings true 3 years later. Some of his thoughts on the future of humanity even seem to be uneasily accurate.

If you are a fan, you'll enjoy a few appearances from the Channel 3 news team. I wonder what he has against them. For a book of short stories and such, like this one, I always enjoy reading it in short bursts, a story or two a sitting. as a result it took me awhile to finish it.

Douglas Coupland never disappoints.

About Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. 

His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and several non-fiction books in 35 languages and most countries on earth. He has written and performed for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, and in 2001 resumed his practice as a visual artist, with exhibitions in spaces in North America, Europe and Asia. 

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Play - The Woods are Dark and Deep

This evening Teena and I went to see The Woods are Dark and Deep at the Factory Theatre at the corner of Bathurst and Adelaide.

They came to Canada to find a better life, and ended up sacrificing their freedom. Our story follows a small group of Serbian and Ukrainian immigrants who ended up in a Canadian internment camp during WWI. 

This is Pulse Theatre’s fifth production and we are very excited to work with a mix of old and new collaborators. This show is dedicated to immigrants and is a celebration of the sacrifices they made for this country to be able to grow, both economically and democratically. Based on historical events.

Canada, as great a country as it is, does have some shameful events regarding refugees in its past like turning away Jewish refugees and Japanese internment camps in World War Two. This is something I had never heard of before, the internment of Serbian and Ukrainian immigrants, known as "enemy aliens" in the First World War. From 1914 to 1920, Canada interned 8,579 enemy aliens in 24 receiving stations and internment camps. They cleared forests for parks, including Banff National Park.

Little is known about this but was heavily researched by Mladen Obradovic, who wrote and plays Nebojsa in this production

The play revolves around a group of workers clearing a forest. One now hates Canada because of what had happened and another, Janko, is in love with a young woman, Claire, he met before being arrested and interned for the remainder of the war for incorrect paperwork. The three men and the family they are friends with lead a hard life in the forest.

I thought Dewy Stewart, who played Janko, was excellent as was Mila Jokic, as the hopelessly romantic and optimistic daughter of the family, Olessya.

Too bad the play is not running longer. There was a large crowd for this performance and it is a well-acted and produced play, plus a story worth telling.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

A Tight Toronto Rock Victory

Tonight the 7-3 Toronto Rock took on the 2-9 Rochester KnightHawks in front of 12,873 enthusiastic fans. It was a wild affair.

Being the night before St Patrick's Day, a drum and pipe band joined in the opening ceremonies.

Rona and Jacob joined Teena and I for the game. It was the first time for both and they loved it.

Team meeting before the action starts

Opening face-off. Rona pointed out that the Rock were losing the majority of face-offs. The end of game stats proved her right. The Rock only won 33.3%.

Some game action.

The game was tight throughout with the Rock leading by 5-4 at the end of the first quarter and 10-8 at the half.

Iggy was there working the crowd.

More action.

The Toronto Rock cheerleaders performed a few times.

 Nope. We didn't win today. It would have been nice.

At the end of the third quarter, the Rock still led by two goals 13-11.

With just over a minute to go, Rochester scored to come within a goal of tying it up. With their goalie pulled, Damon Edwards charged down the court and put in the empty net clincher for a 15-13 Toronto win.

Game stats.

The win puts the Rock into second place in their division. They have a chance of clinching a playoff spot with their two away games next weekend. The top 4 teams make the playoffs with 1st place taking on the 4th place team and 2nd and 3rd clashing in the other.

In two weeks the Rock are at home against the Philadelphia Wings. We'll be there.

I'll end with an artsy, unexpected photo of the game.