Friday, August 30, 2013


Toronto screams greatness. At least that was my impression during a quick weekend getaway. There is the sense of a city on the move, progressing, growing, evolving. Grandness. It's something that is sadly lacking in Montreal, my favourite cultural hub. If only the government of the day in Quebec would worry a little less about the types of funny clothing people wear on their heads and worry a lot more about fixing the goddamned roads, rotting Montreal infrastructure, healthcare, education, and job creation. One of the first things I saw in Toronto was a pair of construction workers ... working. At night, no less. I mean, really working. I never see things like that in Quebec. Seriously, FIX THE GODDAMNED ROADS, QUEBEC!
But I digress.

I hadn't really spent any time in the downtown Toronto area before and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. So, armed with two of my best buds - J.P. Budman and Mr Anderson - I set out to discover what the fuss was all about.

We didn't get very far before discovering a piece of the homeland, in the form of Cora's (better known as Chez Cora), my favourite all-day breakfast chain. In fact, many recognizably Quebecois stores popped up with shiny new-looking storefronts and weird anglicized names. As luck would have it, Stan the Man from Oz was in town just prior to beginning an exchange in the U.S. and I was able to introduce him to the delights of «les oeufs Ben et Dictine».
Delicious Crêpes ... and an Aussie
Toronto has some pretty cool comic shops. I only managed to stop in to Silver Snail Comics (very nice), One Million Comix (also very nice), and the Hairy Tarantula (a true comic book store if ever there was one, with full-on hardcore geek / nerd speak throughout). Sadly, I'll have to leave the Comic Book Lounge for my next trip. This last one seems like the sort of place I might enter and never ever leave.

Silver Snail Comics
The Comic Book Lounge
Aside from the recent McBaguette and the McPizza of my youth, I have vague recollections of trying out a McLobster sandwich somewhere in the USA (Maine perhaps?) many years back. However, as it happened to be available locally for a limited time only, I thought I'd take the opportunity to sample the regional speciality, this time around with photographic evidence for the next time I forget its existence and almost adequate edibility. Still on the to-do list: McAloo Tikki and McSpicy Paneer.

Dating Site Profile Picture

The Harsh Reality
The boys and I did a lazy wander around town to explore. Alas, the CBC shop (I had wanted a souvenir) closed down just a few months ago. We stumbled upon a number of interesting sculptures, ranging from the aesthetically pleasing to the just plain bizarre, and even walked along the Walk of Fame - though we couldn't seem to find Wayne and Shuster.

All in all, it was really nice and easy to get around. The TTC is probably the best transit system I have used to date. It helps that subway cars are spacious and clean, and electronic signs helpfully point out everything, including which side the doors will open at a particular stop.

Toronto also has its fair share of lunatics. I left the boys at the hotel late one night and went to an all-night Starbucks to mentally recharge my introvert batteries and do a little work in my head (ah, the life of the researcher). After some time, a gentleman approached and introduced himself as "The Machine 2014" 'cause next year would be his year. He told me that all women are stupid because they didn't realize what great catches real men were (shock-surprise twist ending: real man = The Machine 2014), that he hadn't been able to hold a job since his ex-girlfriend had him arrested, details on the book he was writing at that moment, and that he was bipolar. He spoke on and on, but my mind quickly drifted back to trying to prove that a certain class of Lipschitz functions is actually the maximal generator of another class of functions, so I can't remember what else he said; though I'm sure it was equally as entertaining. An interesting night, to say the least.

Find "Furry" Friendship. Indeed, Toronto. Indeed.

A Good Day to Die. Not.

A Comedy Legend
We met up with one of my oldest and dearest friends (and possibly the coolest teacher you'll never have), the lovely Jada. A fellow fan of horror, cult, and the obscure, she told me about a very cool trash cinema night - that I just missed. Not to mention the TIFF Midnight Magic screenings going on right now. Toronto, why you gotta play me like that, girl?

I Spit On Your Grave

Yeah, here come the Rooster ...

Zira, Cornelius, and the head of Dr. Zaius!

Friday the 13th Part VI: The Horse Lives!
I just barely missed the Game On retro video games exhibition when it came to Melbourne in 2008. Samwise Collins had regaled me with tales of its greatness, and so I knew I couldn't pass it up when I saw the exhibition was currently on display in T.O. - and the 2.0 version at that! Second is the best, after all (first being the worst, and so on). It was held in the Ontario Science Centre.

The Ontario Science Centre. Oh wow. This place is legitimately too cool for school. When I get really excited, I forget that I'm supposed to pretend to be an adult and become the most obnoxious kid you can imagine. Thus is explained my behaviour that day. Buds, Kev, I'm sorry I abandoned you as soon as I saw all the fun games and interactive experiments (let's be real for a moment here - toys for adults). I ran around and flapped my arms, and admittedly nudged more than a few 8-year-olds out of the way so that I could play such classics as: Pong, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and more - and I finally beat Tron!!! I thought for sure they'd have Zaxxon, Space Invaders, and Q*bert too, but these were nowhere to be found.
Game On 2.0 at Ontario Science Centre

Manna from Heaven

The rest of the exhibits at the centre were just as exhilarating, including displays on electromagnetics, kinetics, visual and auditory illusions, aerodynamics, paper airplane making, genetics and racial differences, and so on. Plus, the young staff all seemed to be decked out in Bill Nye the Science Guy outfits (at least to me) and were having a ball explaining science to little kids. I could definitely see myself quitting academia to work in a place like this.

Another great thing about the centre was that I got to scare people. I love a good scare. I got a little tired out from running around and being overstimulated. When I get like this, I become hypersensitive to stimuli - light, sound, touch, etc. become painful. Luckily, I spotted a replica of a cave in the middle of the interactive displays that seemed to garner no attention. The dark interior provided much-needed relief. I remained alone with my thoughts for an eternity, or more accurately, about ten minutes. Then I heard some children trepidatiously entering the cave. Being the gentle soul that I am, I scared the hell out of them and laughed for a good little while. The kids, being kids, thought this was the greatest thing ever, and together we did the same to the next group to enter. The ensuing screaming and laughter started to make this a bit too popular for my tastes, and so I made haste to the cave exit, whereupon I spotted Kev and Buds. I quickly sent them into the cave to be scared, and then ran off to have some more fun.

Boogedy Boogedy Boo!

Oh Smurf! Gargamel finally prevails!


One of the best moments of this trip was being able to see my very good friend Eugene and his beautiful family again. Life being as it is, we hadn't met face to face in over eight years. Good friendships, however, endure. He graciously offered to pick Josh, Kev, and me up from a subway station in his cool red car and drove us to his place in style for some suburban relaxation and some amazing BBQ. While Buds played with the kids, and Kev played with the kitty, Eugene and I spoke like no time had passed at all. Hopefully it won't be another eight years before our next rendez-vous.
Schwarzenegger and DeVito reunite after eight long years!!!

The boys and I made good use of our remaining time in Toronto. We had some very good sushi, went out for drinks, and roamed around town. A big shout out goes to Greg (?) the CBC Radio employee who pointed us in the direction of Ossington Avenue to find some good places to chill. Greg walked and talked with us for about ten minutes, and we discussed our respective work and careers. That was cool.

Another big shout out goes to the dude at the theatre festival party who managed to scrounge up three leftover giant delicious chocolate brownies and gave them to us for free after I had asked him if he knew where I could get a real good chocolate cookie at two in the morning in downtown Toronto. This is my Canada.

Second-to-last shout out to the beautiful girls who turned up the music and started dancing to Hot Fuss at that last bar. Thanks for the memories.

And of course, the biggest shout out of all to my boys Big Kev and Buds, for putting up with me for a whole weekend, and for a really great time. Love you guys.

Pinkman and Heisenberg at the diner. Bitch.
P.S. Beware potential maniacs wearing sex, drugs, and RAP T-shirts.

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