Friday, December 31, 2010

It's the end of the year as we know it

And I feel fine. It has been a great year of events and photographs and I say thanks to all my visitors, thanks for all the comments and emails and I look forward to another year of fun. Like many people I will make some New Year's resolutions but the fun is breaking them - so make some doozies.

Here are some other beautiful ends (after the jump) to keep you warm over the winter.

New Years Eve in Toronto

Totally unrelated fireworks

That little kid in diapers is about to come and kick the old year's ass as we finish 2010 and start the new year of 2011 - like the start and finish line being painted by the Honda Indy Toronto people (they foretold the future, is there anything that the Honda Indy Toronto can't do?).
Start/finish line totally related to story.

It's probably good that we use so few checks anymore because you always wrote the wrong year for a couple months, you would cross off the date, add the new date and initial the changes - every time. Young people are going what's a check? Young people don't even know things like today's hot movie True Grit is a remake of a movie of the same name starring John Wayne.  Young people are going who is John Wayne? Now I feel old, thanks you young pilgrim.
Totally unrelated party.

There are a million parties going on in the Big Smoke. The biggest will be the free annual CityTV New Year's Eve Bash at City Hall's Nathan Phillips Square with ice skating, free concerts and fireworks hosted by television personalities Gord Martineau, Tracy Moore, Kevin Frankish and Dina Pugliese. You can see Shawn Desman, Danny Fernandes, Stereos, These Kids Wear Crowns, Divine Brown and Blake McGrath.
The show starts at 10:00pm and the countdown at midnight is a chance to kiss your significant other. Try to get one of the neon balloons and don't swallow any confetti.

New Years is the time you make resolutions where you end the bad stuff and start doing the good stuff. While it seems like the good stuff should include partying and drinking generally these fall into the category of bad stuff, especially if you do it to excess. However, party like it's 1999, eat and drink then ride the free New Years morning TTC (12:01am to 4am) or take a taxi home and if you wear a lampshade or your girlfriend flashes don't forget to send a picture. Here is a great website to find a party in Toronto on New Year's Eve.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shangri-La DiDa: Post-its in the sky

When you build a fancy new hotel and condominium sometimes you forget how to put it together so sometimes you have to leave big pink post-its to remind yourself of the next step. The 65-storey Shangri-La luxury hotel and condos goes up on University Avenue. The hotel is on the bottom 17 floors and the condos take over the upper floors.

Big Red Tongue

I found this big, red tongue hanging out just off Queen Street East and I have to admit that it is very familiar. It seems like I have seen it before, but it is so big and red that I think I would remember where I saw it. Obviously the artist is so creative that he has painted something so meaningful that it might be a shared memory buried deep within our genes. And here is a graffiti door, less powerful, less meaningful, it could just be a door and not art, sometimes I never know.

This river I step in is not the river I stand in

The drugged up bridge namers came up with one long bridge name: "This river I step in is not the river I stand in". The sign maker, grinning, asked if they wanted another paragraph, but they were resting after coming up with that doozy. And so the Don River bridge crossing at Queen Street East was named in 1996, long after the original bridge was replaced in 1911. Just for fun they added a clock to the mix, "shall we make the clock last for hundreds of years so that future generations can weep at the beauty of the words and know what time their tears fell to the ground?" and they answered "no, we wont have enough money left over after we get all the letters made." And so the clock worked for a day or two, then crapped out, probably because three levels of government were involved. Although, as the old saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

I believe the bridge writing (described as a river of text) is based on a saying from a Greek philosopher Heracleitus who said "You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you" - from Plato in Cratylus. So ... nothing stays the same and things change even as you experience them in the moment. So the river you stepped in (i.e. the water) has already changed and is different than the one you stand in. And don't stand in the middle of the bridge because the traffic and streetcars will make sure you won't be in the same shape you were before you stepped in the middle of the bridge - ha, that should have been put on the bridge. Thanks to the artist Eldon Garnet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

High Park in winter

Fun in High Park happens year round and it is much easier to get parking in the winter than it is in the other seasons. Besides the restaurant, cool wooden castles and playground, the ice skating and hiking you can still see the animals in the zoo. Many of the animals even come up to say hi - I think they are looking for food but you shouldn't feed them, besides most of them slobber on your fingers if you try to give them peanuts or anything.
Another must see place to visit in the park is the leash free dog zone. The large area on a hill has it's own doggie fire hydrant, poster stand and picnic tables where you can relax and watch the dogs sniff, run, play and  engage in other fun doggie entertainment. On the doggie hill you can also find a tree, strangely not a coniferous tree, that has been decked with various Christmas decorations.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Day at Yonge and Dundas

Santa brought the gift of a light commute to the City and even though people are coming downtown in droves to check out Boxing Week sales in Toronto the drive around the highways is very light - enjoy it while you can because payback is a bitch, especially when it includes extreme winter weather. Watching everyone walking outside of the Eaton Centre and into the pedestrian priority intersection at Yonge and Dundas I noticed some interesting things that tend to happen around this vibrant location.
The first interesting thing is that usually there is someone busking and it could include Silver Elvis, Batman, the drummer guys or the chalk drawing people. If you can't remember what you want to buy, take a quick look around - I think there is a bit of advertising in the area (it's Times Square Junior, the cold edition).
You can also find companies taking advantage of the large concentration of people passing by this point that they give away samples of their products and, of course, everyone loves free stuff so it's marketing at it's best. You become used to passing a crowd and grabbing a free sample that they hand out: chocolate bars, spaghetti, gum, ice cream (mmm, from skinny cow) - you name it and some great, kind company has given it out. Then there are the guys that use this hook to get you to stop and make donations. The guy who was giving out cereal bars, you grab it and he won't let go, then he makes the pitch. He got rid of his cereal bars and he now uses Tootsie Rolls, not the small ones either, he uses the honking big bars, almost a foot long bar of temptation. You reach for it and damn it, he won't drop his iron grip on the Tootsie Roll.
There are also the history guys. They hold up history brochures and not the small brochures but the really big 8x10 brochures (today it looks like CDs), I mean it looks like great reading, and ask if you want one. Gosh, they are smiling at you, everything looks so friendly and inviting. Again you grab for the stuff and they won't let go. While you both stand in the street holding onto the brochure, feeling uncomfortable, he makes the pitch.
If you are hungry for street food there are usually two hot dog stands on Dundas, just to the west of the intersection - but no french fries. If you want street fries you have to go to Queen Street West at City Hall or over to Front Street at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

At Yonge-Dundas Square they continue handing out free stuff and putting on concerts. Occasionally you see beautiful girls in fashion shows.
Plenty of people are around to pass out religious information, heck some people even scare the crap out of you and every now and then just yell out stuff as you pass by. Cripes they are trying to give you a heart attack so you can think of god and go to heaven and just before you die, or the ambulance arrives, they slip you the religious brochure. You are too weak to refuse so you are an easy customer. Sometimes they don't have anything to give you but stand at the intersection, like a small island in a river of humanity, with a sign held high above their head saying things like the end of the world is coming. So get that shopping in before the end of times and think about saving the returns until after the Boxing Week Sales have stopped because the lineups are long - maybe that's why the highways are empty.

Bright Colours

I did find some vivid colours in Toronto today and it was in the morning when the sun was shining bright and the colours really stood out. There was a pink bus and a mustard fence and the ever present graffiti.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Toronto Skyline - Where is the colour?

The City's skyline stands tall above the waters of Lake Ontario, but there is not much colour in the view. Most of the dominant colours are the blue, green and concrete grey.

The lake water and the sunset provide their own colour

 I think the skyline should be more like a Rubiks Cube mixture of colours. Here is a little more grey from the airshow (CIAS) down at the lake front.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Birdie Num Nums

Not wanting to join the immense crowds flooding into the malls and stores for all manner of Boxing Day sales  (and Boxing Week sales) we decide instead to check out nature and head down to the waters of Lake Ontario. Only birds are swimming in the lakes' cold water which will soon be full of Polar Bear dippers.

I think this is some kind of curious, wingless rodent bird. Polly wants a peanut.

Photo Vault - Badlands

Now that you don't have to be good for Santa (for a little while yet) you can be bad - if fact you can be so bad that you have to stay in the badlands.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

HO HO HO - rated E for everyone

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas is for kids and pandas

Christmas is tomorrow and all through the house we cleaned and cooked. Friends and family gather together to enjoy the holidays and as an excuse to meet, sometimes only for this one day a year. The excitement and wonder of Christmas is best enjoyed by the young and pandas. These kids were helping to welcome everyone to the Doors Open 2010 event on top of the new green deck at City Hall.
Actually, I am not really sure if pandas celebrate Christmas, but hang loose and enjoy the season. I also hope yesterday's Festivus for the Rest of Us was all that it could have been; airing of grievances, feats of strengths and that someone ended up getting pinned. That Seinfeld was a Festivus Miracle.

Photo Vault - Brickworks beam of light

The excitement of checking out the abandoned Don Valley Brickworks. The holes in the ceilings produced such great sunbeams when the conditions were right. Erin's breath comes out frosty in the cool of winter, highlighted in the bright light cutting through the dark building.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red Bull Graveyard

The Red Bull wanders throughout the City, promoting Red Bull type things, and when it reaches the end of it's life it goes to the Red Bull graveyard - where it lays down and waits for the can to empty. Do not be sad for the hyper Red Bull Energy Drink, it had long and fast paced life, full of extremely late nights and too many parties. May they burp in peace.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TRON Legacy 3D - graffiti

On the side of a comic book store on Queen Street West I find the wall now covered with an advertisement for TRON Legacy 3D by Artchild from

I found a YouTube Video from the Key of Awesome guys, which was awesome.

Then I also found some more graffiti and posters in a few Queen Street West alleyways.

You better finish your Christmas shopping

Santa Claus is probably packing his sleigh right now - Christmas Eve is this Friday. HO HO HO!

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square