toronto events

My CN Tower Climb

So, I did it – and boy was it tough!

My time was 24 minutes and 24 seconds, which is about average compared to most other climbers. There were 144 flights of stairs in groups of about 12-15 (I’m not certain about the exact number) each. At first, deluded, I thought I could run up – but I learned within the first flight that would not be possible. For some reason, I had thought the steps would be those half-sized steps, so climbing them would be close enough to walking that it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But no, they were regular, full-sized steps and it was hard.

For the first 30 flights, I was in copious amounts of pain. My breathing came hard and it was just very ugly. At about this point, however, I was “warmed up” and the usual work-out euphoria helped me glide up the next batch up to about flight 70. At this point it became difficult again, but I only had to rest a couple of times until I reached 100, at which point I had to stop every 10 flights or so to catch my breath, and ease the pain throughout my legs.

When I got near to the top I heard people calling out “You’re almost there! Keep going, just a few more!” and a huge grin broke out on my face – I’d done it! Woohoo!!

I wandered around the top of the CN tower as I waited for my friend, who climbed around the same time as me, and came across a girl who couldn’t hold her cookies. Luckily, I stepped out of the way of her splash radius as she puked and her friend rushed to help her! Thankfully, I wasn’t that affected by the climb!

And, the day afterwards, I felt very good – no pain or anything.

Thanks to those who donated to my climb, I received a free movie ticket. My final donation level was $155.

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CN Tower Climb Prelim

I’m gearing up for the CN Tower climb for WWF-Canada tomorrow! I’ve been working out all week (well, at least a few times), and I made sure to wake up early today so I can be at the base at 6:30 am tomorrow (on a SATURDAY). This is because if you begin your climb before 7 am, they give you a free ticket to go up at any later date. Sounds good to me!

I’ve surpassed my fundraising goal for this climb, thanks to the following people:

If you’d like to donate, there’s still a bit of time left: visit my donation page.

See you on the other side!

media toronto events

digital media ruminations

This week my work hosted a conference specifically addressing technological issues in the book industry. It was a fantastic forum for harvesting ideas and, I believe, if publishers were open-minded and fore-thinking enough to look at some of the panelists’ presentations in metaphorical terms, could stimulate some interesting new directions for marketing the creation of content and the promotion and dissemination of digital publications.

As the end of the day approached, my perspective began to sharpen. I’d previously held the idea that illegal digital distribution, piracy, would in the end ensure that the content output into the market, the stuff that actually receives funding to become a full-fledged film or novel or television program, would increase in quality until the only content being produced professionally and distributed to the masses legally, would be stuff you’d want to pay for, because it would be that stimulating, that beautiful, that thought-provoking.

Instead, since piracy began, I’ve seen only a decline in quality in popular culture goods – yet an increase in quality in more underground content. I can’t say if it’s always been like that or not; I’ve only really been fully aware of mass-produced and distributed content versus independent content for the past five to ten years or so anyway, and I like to think my tastes are constantly improving. I might just be expositing the usual nostalgia for the a better, fictitious past.

I think I can say, though, that the frequency of really exceptional films being brought to market is far, far lower than it was even five years ago. It’s becoming increasingly more rare for me to be impressed by a popular film. I would argue that it’s true – that piracy is actually reducing the quality of content being produced for the masses, therefore aiding in the lowering of our collective IQs.

When I thought that piracy would ensure that only the best things get funded, instead in reality what appears to be happening is that only the worst, cheapest projects get funding, as if the content creation industries are casting a wider, more cheaply made net to capture a larger audience – who cares if the net rips in various places and many fish fall through? Overall, because the net is covering a much larger area, the parts that aren’t ripped will capture more fish.

So, if your goal is to sell as many copies as possible, then they’re probably doing a good job. If you want to fulfill the consumers of your content, and ensure their return time and time again, then the content creators are failing miserably.

Why don’t the people in charge of content creation want to take more risks? Why are there so few who would prefer to put out one heavily funded, well-produced, inspiring and intellectual product a year that did even just well enough to break even, than to put out fifty mediocre, formulaic, stereotypically conserving the status quo films a year that make me rich. Which category’s going to be remembered? Which category’s going to contribute to culture? Which category is likely to be shown time and time again to people with a certain underlying value structure?

This is not really a new debate, I suppose. It was just struck me how wrong I was about my assumption. Funding is not going to better quality content. The people producing quality are still doing so; but it’s remaining independent. Only passion can and will always be the driver of magnificent content. Not money.

What the lack of money being put back into the content creators’ industries seems to be doing is ensuring lower-quality content, in greater amounts, is pushed out to popular culture. That’s just too bad.

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giller light review

Last night I attended the Giller Light Bash, courtesy of my workplace. It was held at the Steam Whistle Brewery and was a semi-swank affair attended by the public, book industry types, minor celebrities like some runners up in Canadian Idol, Chantal Kreviazuk and Ben Mulroney (I stood behind Kreviazuk as Mulroney interviewed her live on CTV, but I doubt I was visible).

It was an okay party. Kreviazuk’s performance was understated and the announcement of the winner of The Giller Prize, Vincent Lam, krept up on the partygoers without much fanfare.

The food served was rather bland: mini hamburgers, mini veggie burgers (which actually tasted much better than their meaty counterparts), and pizza that, by the time I got to it, was cold and had probably been fingered by numerous attendees.

But the drinks kept flowing and though I couldn’t muster the courage to go meet the previous PM’s son, it was still neat to rub shoulders with the Almost Famous.

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mcmichael gallery’s 16th annual autumn art sale

Tomorrow – Friday, October 20th starting at 6 PM – is the opening night of the Autumn Art Sale put on annually by volunteers at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg.

The sale lasts all weekend, but come out tomorrow evening to meet the artists and mingle with volunteers. I’m going to support a photographer I’ve worked with – Penelope Edgar. Apart from doing fashion photography, she has some beautiful landscape, scenery and building shots in locations around the world.

Below is one of the photos we came up with during our shoot together.

Christina Habberjam

city life toronto events

urban capture the flag


Originally uploaded by The_Rumour.

I’ve been up to a lot lately, causing my energy to be low during my downtime and thus my lack in motivation to update.

However, I went to a neat little (!) event last night and just had to post about it.

At about 9PM in the square at King & Bathurst around 900 people showed up to play urban capture the flag through the wicked newish group called newmindspace.
I estimate around 900 because there were 900 glow-necklaces handed out, and all were used up. However, some people got two necklaces – one of each colour – so they could infiltrate both teams. Others were left playing with no necklace and having to stick with a team of people with ones of the colour they chose.

We had purples (or reds as they were supposed to be) against blues, but from far away it ended up being difficult to decipher which colour was around a person’s neck.

It was fun. When it finally started around 9:30 PM, mass amounts of young people began running all over the financial district in the dark, causing chaos in the streets for all the poor drivers, and scaring security guards in many buildings in the surrounding area.

I was on the purple team, and the blue flag was caught twice (as far as I know). The first time, I saw a guy running with it and he nearly made it back to our side, until he was bombarded by an extremely large amount of blue teammates attempting to tag him. The flag was retrieved and placed back in its spot. The game continued.

I started off with a group of friends and we easily ended up in the blue zone. However, I was soon chased out and once that happened, I had a hell of a time getting back into it. The one flaw I could see in the game was that once you’re tagged, no one escorted you back to your zone. This meant you could pretend you’d never been tagged, once that person left the area. Of course, this is cheating, and I only did it for a while. Either way it’s boring – cheating is boring, and going back to your zone and never being able to make it back into the opponent’s is boring as well. Every time I tried, I got caught. Well-populated areas, darkly lit areas, alone or with a bunch of people – somehow it didn’t seem to matter. There were just too many on the other side lying in wait to tag everyone! And I think I’m a fairly fast runner, so it couldn’t possibly be that 😉

The cops were soon called, however, probably by the numerous scared security guards (le sigh). I saw a girl get booked for jaywalking right in front of a streetcar. She was talking on her cell phone – pedestrians! Do not talk and chat! It’s dangerous for your health! And your wallet, if there are any cops around 😛

They patrolled for a while, and the blue flag was captured one more time. I heard random talk that we’d gained a point, finally, and then that the game was over. The cops called it off. Too bad, really. We weren’t exactly causing civil unrest, and most of the kids playing were probably just under legal age – what else do they have to do on a Friday night? This kind of activity is fabulous for them – and for people of any age for other reasons.

I eventually found my friend I’d shown up with and we went off to a bar to have a drink and finish the night. All in all, a good time. I’m looking forward to the next one!

city life toronto events

tiff is going on? i hadn’t noticed…

More than halfway through the Toronto International Film Festival week, I am disappointed to report that the streets of Toronto do not crawl with celebrities during this time. In fact, it is so devoid of celebrities making public appearances that I have not seen a single one amongst all my regular daily travellings.

How boring. How banal. How utterly mundane.

Ah well. There are still a few days left. The more you get out, the more you see, right? Just I’m so busy with non-TIFF related activities. And what kind of celebrity takes the subway?


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the lord of the rings musical

The Lord of the Rings Musical LogoWhat better way to commemorate the end of the short run of shows The Lord of the Rings musical had here in Toronto than a review of the one I saw in August?

I went to a Sunday matinee viewing of the musical at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Even at the end of its run, or perhaps because of the end of its run, the place was still packed.

The show was incredible. I really don’t understand all the bad media it collected. The sound and light was stunning; the constantly evolving stage was fascinating. The songs were all catchy and well-written (only one or two were less engaging). My only qualms were that the travel scenes, where the hobbits wandered around moving scenery, were slightly confusing; and the digital moving images projected onto the main stage scenery was pixelated (a jarring experience when staring directly at it).

As for the acting, the only badly done lines were by some of the hobbits with minor roles. The rest of the actors did very good jobs of either staying true to the movie character, or creating their own interpretations. Gollum, for example, was nothing like Gollum in the movie – but he was still really well-acted, and had his own flare. I enjoyed how he kept flopping around onto his back and sides like a fish.

It’s definitely not a show for someone who doesn’t know the story; it assumes you have some knowledge of the events that pass, by either excluding them completely or alluding to them with a line or two. In some cases, there were even further explanations of situations that I had been unable to glean from the films.

I’d the say that The Lord of the Rings musical, as a standalone show completely disconnected from the rest of the recent LOTR culture, I don’t think it would have much to stand on. However, it is an excellent addition to the rest of the media surrounding the story, and fits in well within that context.

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quick sampler of taste of the danforth

I wasn’t there long, but the few moments I did experience of The Taste of the Danforth were certainly enough to last a while.

I’ve been to a few restaurants in Greek town since moving to Toronto, including Myth (during Winterlicious – rather disappointing) and Pantheon, so I’ve already had some experience with the restaurants over that way.

My friends and I walked along the Danforth trying to find another group of friends with whom we were meant to meet up, sample some food and then proceed to Spring Rolls restaurant on Yonge, away from the crowds.

And crowded it was. So crowded we never met up with the other group of friends. Instead, we stopped and I bought desert first – the most incredible, fresh, juicy baklava I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. I’ll never eat another unless it’s made the same way, because the baklava I usually see could never measure up. Next, we stopped for some chicken souvlaki in a pita, and we wolfed that down as we stood by the side of the tent serving it, the throngs of people moving about us in a much disturbing manner. Considering how groups of humans like to sit as far apart as possible in restaurants while eating as a throwback to the days when we had to protect our food from others, this was seriously an unpleasant eating experience – even though the food was delicious, and fairly inexpensive.

In any case, I was glad to get out of that mass of people a mere half hour after arriving. It wasn’t what I had expected (free or extremely cheap, small portions of various dishes from each restaurant along the street). I’m not sure if I’ll visit the Taste again next year – perhaps for the slightly more relaxing atmosphere of an actual sit-down meal in one of the participating restaurants.

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jays vs orioles, august 9th

A few weeks ago, I attended my first Blue Jays game. It was my second baseball game ever. (The first one I went to was a Lynx game in Ottawa; it was our grade 6 graduation “outing” I cannot remember whom they played, and it got rained out.)

It was the August 9th, 2006, game against the Orioles, and rather than re-cap what happened (I wouldn’t be able to even if I tried), you can just read the Yahoo! summary about it, should you so desire.

I see why people attend baseball games now; the experience of just being there is quite interesting, even though the game may be boring. My mind wandered as I watched the players, but I enjoyed the constant animations and visuals on the main board, the food available from the vendors, the incredible weather (warm, sunny with a cool breeze, and quite luckily we sat shaded from the sun), and the cool beer adding a slight haze to it all.

The highlight for me was the 7th inning show that featured a four male breakdancers. Breakdancing is so cool, and they were damn good. Their dances didn’t last long enough.

While I’ve been inside the Skydome* before, specifically to see Raptors basketball games (I was there for their opening game!), it was different to experience it during the day, and set up for a baseball game. I suppose it’s also been renovated since back in the day… what, 10 years ago? (Eesh!) So, no wonder it was like being somewhere new.

The Jays lost the game to the Orioles, but that was okay. It was a fun little outing, and now I wouldn’t be opposed to going to other baseball games in future.

(* I’m aware it’s now called the Rogers Centre, but I don’t know anyone who actually calls it that willingly. Skydome it has always been, and Skydome it will always be, to the people who love and live in downtown Toronto.)