Thursday, 26 July 2012

People Watching In Toronto-Day 2

After tinkering with the alarm half a dozen times, decide the best course of action is to sleep 'til 9:00

The plan was to get up before the crowds hit the streets and at least enjoy a bit of peace downtown. Decide that breakfast in bed is by far the better option.  You have to admire the coordination of services in such a place.  Should you want breakfast brought to your room, simply hang your menu choices outside your door before 2:00 AM  Presumably a team walks the corridors post 2AM to collect the requests.  Seems like quite the undertaking for a random door tag. 
I indulged in my Market pastry, three cups of coffee and the paper.  Felt sufficiently revived to start the day, proper, at 11:00. The noon checkout is great-that extra hour makes all the difference.  More places should adopt this.

The ten minute walk to the car defeated me and with 35C humid temps, started the walk north feeling less than enthusiastic. UGH. There is no air flow in the downtown.  There is no air space left with all the high rises.

However, amid the scrapers are buildings that have a little character to them.

Off to spend the afternoon with Picasso.  Arrived at the AGO at peak tourist time.  People are sheep and one by one filed into the rooms and viewed the pictures IN ORDER.  It is OK to spread out and have a look around.  See what takes your eye.  It felt more like visiting someone lying in state.

Paintings of note for me are:
~2 Figures in a Forest, Woman in Blue Hat, Woman in Red Chair, Village Dance & Reading

Cubism becoming clearer.

Doesn't matter where you stand to view a piece of art, someone will always come and stand in front of you.  Why?

The AGO is all business-the program, the audio guide, the exhibit-specific gift shop.  Is this necessary?  I think most people visit a gift shop, they don't need it shoved in their face.  In order to access the family friendly cafe, you have to walk through the main gift shop; the children's gift shop is right at the bottom of the stairs.  You can't get away from it.

I do give 10/10 for the muffins.

Other exhibits of note are:
~Berenice Abbot-black & white photography
~Memory Doors
~The European collection
~Ken Thompson collection-love the snuff bottles

Fading fast and took off for Yonge and Dundas-only to get out of the rain.
Finished off the day on Front East.  Conversation with a Japanese student-here for a year working on her English.  She was off to St. James.  Delightful conversation which was interrupted by a lunatic needing $0.80.  He claimed diabetes and, when we refused to engage with him, upped the ante with a brain tumour.  A verbal assault followed and there was a tirade against Dalton McGuinty.  Language one normally only hears in a British independent film.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

People Watching In Toronto-Day 1 of 2

For once, the TO bound traffic was flowing.  403 and QEW Niagara at a standstill.
The drive into Toronto has deteriorated over the years.  Why? Because of endless condominium development.  Depressing sight.  The GO bus affords only a view of bricks and mortar.  Note: exit at Lakeshore Blvd. Don't stay on the Gardiner. With the condition of said road, you may very well find yourself squashed under a a chunk of rebar and concrete.

Nice to see the lake, the joggers and what's left of Ontario Place (we're told the people have spoken and we won't see a repeat of the "Lakefront Disaster" at Ontario Place.  We'll see.
No lunatics on the highway this morning so a relaxing drive in, coupled with a view was a good start. Parked on The Esplanade-flat rates, lots of space. Central location.  Don't try to jockey for a spot at the Hockey Hall of Fame-even at the bargain rate of $20.00 per hour. Who parks here?

Key sight around town:  the crane.  UGH.

Saturday and a full crew on this job site.
(And the roads are up.)

Early people watch began with the woman making a B-line for the pub just shy of 11:00; oblivious to all around her.  How did you manage to run into the only other person on the sidewalk?

Priorities being in order, lunch was first on the list.  If you cannot make up your mind, try Spring Rolls-Japanese, Chinese and Thai in one. Located throughout the city, this one's on Front.  There was the sound of a vast kitchen at work, preparing food for the Mongol hoards.  I seemed to be the only one there so wondered if it was a sound track to encourage patronage.

Soup is good.  Service is good.  Very knowledgeable staff.  Patio.  Yes, the place did pick up and I was encouraged by the sight of a full house when I walked past the next day at dinner time.  Beautiful orchid growing in the front window.  Had a hard time convincing the staff that it was real.  Good spot for tourist watching-the crowds are at the half way point and looking for food.

Off to the Distillery District.  Double bill at Soulpepper today.  David Mamet's Speed The Plow and Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.  Coffee first, as a matter of course.  Balzac's cappuccino.  Took refuge in the upper Gallery.  It is actually cooler on the second floor.  There's a rotating collection of art on display, the daily paper and a comfy chair.  Nothing so particular as a coffee drinker.  You can sense their anticipation from the back of the queue.

Crowds not too bad.  Only one wedding today.  Lots of people taking pictures of each other.  Why do you have to stand in front of the object you want to take a picture of?  Why not take a picture of the object for your album?  You can take a picture of your family any time.

Took my seat just shy of 14:00  Wondered how the the woman was going to make it up the aisle in her  shoes.  The heels must have been killing her climbing all the way to Row N.  I wonder if people base their dress for the theatre or opera on Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman?  Everyone's seen it.  But this is not the Met.

Another woman heavily adorned with gold.  Let her know that she was about to lose an earring- "It's OK, I'm allergic to gold."  Torturing yourself out of vanity?  Willing to risk losing precious metals due to skin sensitivities?

Great play-very Mamet.  Not for the sensitive soul.  How do you tell the difference between his comedy and tragedy?  Are they not one and the same? 

Up to Front via The Canadian Opera Company.

The LCBO have set up a new shop alongside the ubiquitous Dollarama.  Curse its reflection in my picture.  Couldn't get the angle right.

Off to the St. Lawrence Market to pick up breakfast.  Yes, it's only 3:30 but nothing like getting ahead of yourself.  As usual, the place was teeming with life.  The pastry shop and kitchen store on the second floor are my favourites.  Finally bought a mortar and pestle. 

Run to the car, drop off the parcels, back to Front, back to the car, and so on.
Finally reach the hotel. 
Booked a humble room at The Royal York.  I think if you occupy one such room, the hotel pretty much leaves you alone.  They know you didn't book through them so you're obviously looking for a deal.  Note the North facing view. 


There is a reason to opt for the South rooms.  Wonder if the people in the office buildings "talk" to each other?  They're so close!  Guest was a little pouty-her South room wasn't ready.  But how much time are you going to spend in the room?  Get outside and take in a view.

Bring your own water or be prepared to either drink from the tap or find the dollars for the on-site Spring water.

(The same bottle down the street is  $3.49 )

All told, a good room.  Surprisingly, great water pressure!  You start reading all the signage a little closer.  If I use the bathrobe, is there a charge?  I've opened the cabinet under the TV, has this triggered a sensor?  Does the thought of opening the nuts, cookies or toothpaste warrant a fee?  God help the paranoid.

Once the nose is powdered, off to dinner.  "Summerlicious" is in full swing.  Prix fixe at many restaurants.  Biff's Bistro at #4 Front offers French cuisine in a great setting.

~chilled zucchini soup with lemon olive oil and shrimp
~pickerel with celery root, capers and almonds
~lemon tart

Unfortunately my tart looked like it had been plated with great haste-two blobs of creme fraiche and a dribble of wild berries.  All told, a very nice meal.
Had to abandon coffee as five twenty-somethings walked into the bar complete with baseball caps, basketball shirts and the shorts that fall below the glutials.  Make an effort-at least take the hat off and find a belt. Obviously it was my imagination, but I thought I heard the bartender asking them to leave.  Maybe I wanted a scene?  Things got too loud and I left.  Not the norm for Biffs so don't be put off.  What happened to the dress code?

Caffeine fix came in the form of a Soma truffle.  Soma sells high quality chocolate-this is not something to merely ingest, but, savour.

The Sunshine Boys starred Kenneth Welsh and Eric Peterson. The director sat in on the show-Ted Dykstra. Would have liked to have spoken with him about his one man show last year-The Kreutzer Sonata. Decided to leave him alone. Did the same with Tom McCamus and Mary Haney. Sat next to both of them at one time or another and thought to leave them to enjoy their evening. (Besides, I couldn't remember McCamus' name at the time, or bring to mind the show at Stratford he'd been in-you do need some kind of starting point!) We don't fawn over our stars in this country. Think we should keep it that way.
Excellent play.  You can't go wrong with Welsh and Peterson. 

Exhaustion set in after two round trips from Bay to Cherry. 
Hotel corridors and elevators starting to resemble something out of The Shining.
Started the morning with the last hour of Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies and an episode of Storage Wars.  Some prefer to end the day with a single malt, I opted for 2% milk.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Come Back, Little Sheba~Shaw Festival-NOTL

Hie thee to a production!
Caught a performance at the Shaw Festival-Royal George Theatre.
Directed by Ms. Maxwell-mining the depths of despair!
Corrine Koslo is magnificent and has a perfect partner in Ric Reid. 
Lonely housewife deals with recovering alchoholic-sounds bleak-it is anything but.
Very emotional second half.
Caught the preview but I do not see how it could be improved upon.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Candy, Gum & Verbal Hot Air in Three Acts

There's always one in the crowd.They've got to pop that piece of gum out of the foil packet.
They do it slowly thinking that no one can hear.
You are only making matters worse.
Contrary to popular belief, the slow pop is not the better option.
There is no better option.
There is no right way to get the gum out of the foil during a show.

Same goes for hard candy.
You've been told but you don't listen.
You don't prepare for the next two or three hours.
You can't wait 'til intermission.
Why?  Why do you do it?  
It is the equivalent to an addict's fix.
Learn from this.

While we're on the subject of noise.
Do you have to discuss your opinions and comment to your partner during the show?
That whisper is not a whisper, you know.  We can hear you one block of seats over.
If only you offered up some thoughtful insight, but, no-you're merely stating the obvious. 
Keep it 'til intermission or the walk back to the car.
You're oblivious to the look your row mates are giving you.
You're oblivious to the SHH; you don't hear the SHUSH! (my favourite).
What is to be done with you?

Is that your cell phone ringing?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bev Oda...not before time

Welcome news this AM.
Ms. Oda resigns.

What brand of orange juice is she drinking now?

and now... Jan 19/2013 ...

Chris Mazza meet Bev Oda.
Mr. Mazza orders $30 omelettes.  He could show Oda a thing or two.