Sunday, March 31, 2019

Blue Jays Home Opener Weekend

Starting the 2019 Major League Baseball season we were lucky to have the Toronto Blue Jays at home playing against the Detroit Tigers in Rogers Centre. From Thursday, March 28 to Sunday, March 31 the calls of Lets Go Blue Jays will ring out in the closed Skydome as the wave sweeps around the circular building. Sunday's game will start at 1:07pm just as winter has returned for a brief hammer of the city.

It was nice playing with you, NEXT

Saturday's game featured a giveaway of Blue Jays hoodies (one size fits all) for the first 15,000 fans and on the field of dreams the steady replacement of pitchers continued for both teams. Blue Jays crossed home plate three times that night, the Tigers came close but could not finish rounding the bases and now the record shows the Jays have won two games to date, the Tigers but one. Starting pitchers for the night were the Jay's Aaron Sanchez vs newbie Spencer Turnbull.
A Tiger holds off on the swing

Opening Day weekend also has a very large 50-50 draw by Jays Care Foundation which guarantees a minimum winner's payday of $500,000. It has been accumulating throughout the home opener weekend and will be drawn on Sunday, March 31, 2019.

Other Blue Jays promotions in upcoming games include bobble head giveaways, loonie hot dogs and free hats. Check out their website for promotion details. Oh and $5 beer is available - one vendor on each level will offer regular beers cheaper than the seemingly unreasonable stadium prices.
Preparing the field for the night's game
Tigers doing some pregame stretching
The opening weekend crowds were less than sell outs

Friday, March 29, 2019

Collision Toronto 2019 tech conference in May

Innovation in technology, women in tech, Artificial Intelligence, industry leaders and startups meet together at the fastest growing tech conference in North America. Appearing in Toronto for the first time after being hosted in cities like Las Vegas and New Orleans, the technology conference will be held May 20-23, 2019 at the Enercare Centre in Exhibition Place.
"Collision is the fastest-growing tech conference in North America. Now in its fifth year, Collision has grown to over 25,000 attendees. Following the lead of our European event Web Summit, Collision has become a crossroads for the world’s largest buyers and sellers of technology, alongside many of the world’s most disruptive emerging technology companies."

A wide range of over 400 speakers like Evan Williams, founder and CEO at Medium, co-founded Blogger, former CEO of Twitter and Laura Miele, executive vice president of Electronic Arts and advocate of gender diversity will take to conference stages throughout the event.

Attendees to the show can take in product showcases, machine demonstrations and see startup companies like Canada's own Receptiviti and their enterprise software solutions with a platform that uses real-time psychology to understand humans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the Collision Conference coming to Toronto

On the first night after the speakers have finished, attendees will have a chance to join the Pub Summit starting on King Street and heading out on a tour of some of the city's pubs from 6-8pm. Then at 8pm the Night Summit begins where, each night, many will head out of Collision and take part in an exploration of a different parts of the city; "From street parties to more intimate networking events, Night Summit has something for everyone. We'll see you there."

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Toronto Spring Motorcycle Show 2019

It's coming up spring baby, so time to start thinking of the open road and two-wheel fun and the best way to get excited is to see some shiny new bikes at the Spring Motorcycle Show. The 30th edition of the MC show comes with a buyers market, motorcycle exhibits along with special guests and contests and takes place Saturday to Sunday, April 6-7, 2019 at the Toronto International Centre.
“As we kick-off our 30th year, the Spring Motorcycle Show continues to be the ultimate destination to experience the motorcyclist’s culture, mingle with other riders and speak with motorsport experts. It's a great place to buy or sell a motorcycle or find parts and accessories. We put on a motorcycle event which, presents a well-rounded enthusiast's experience. That’s what our visitors have come to expect. Over the years we’ve evolved the show’s features to coincide with the advances in motorcycle technology and to those of today’s rider lifestyle.” states Peter Derry, Show Manager.

With over 300,000 square feet of indoor displays it is your chance to check out new and used motorcycles and look over parts, accessories and fashions. Musician Jason McCoy will be a special guest and available Saturday, April 6 from 2-4pm at the TELUS Motorcycle Ride for Dad booth. Racer Dan Kruger will also be a special guest.
Other attractions include a biker poetry contest, classics on the red carpet, builder displays, custom show bikes and women in motorcycling. Show hours are: Saturday 6 April: 9 – 9pm; Sunday 7 April: 10 – 5pm.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Columbus Centre & City Builders Toronto

As part of the Myseum Intersections Festival the Columbus Centre is hosting the physical portion of the interactive, multimedia City Builders: A history of immigrant construction workers in postwar Toronto, from March 19 to 31, 2019. Gallery hours are from 6am to 10pm. On the City Builders website you can find oral history videos, a two-part documentary on the immigrant workers, photos, interactive digital maps and timelines as well as biographies and audio recorders - all free of charge to view and some shown in the photos below.

The exhibit chronicles some of the important people and milestones from courageous and hardworking immigrants to Canada who were instrumental in physically building the City of Toronto from the 1950s to the 1970s. Coming to a new country without a lot of money and in many cases not knowing the native language, fighting discrimination and low wages, coupled with dangerous occupations made a demanding life for these tradespersons who sought a better life for themselves and their families.

"The City Builders research and public history project, associated with The Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, was launched in September 2017, thanks to a generous gift from the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 183. Significant funding was also provided by the Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian Canadian Studies. Led by Dr. Gilberto Fernandes, the City Builders aims to record, preserve, and divulge the fascinating history of metropolitan Toronto’s construction industry; particularly the working experiences and labour organization of its immigrant workforce after the Second World War."

The videos are available on Youtube and you can use a QR reader to find more information on the traveling exhibits. I watched several of the video interviews and was amazed by the strength of the workers as they had to do almost everything by hand, without modern construction methods or technologies, day after day, many suffering injuries or death while working to build the city that we all enjoy today. One thing I learned was the name of the brick carrying, inverted 'V' device used by bricklayers to carry the heavy bricks; it was called a HOD. Today the bricks are carried on skids moved around site by fork lifts.

It was hard to miss the contributions of Unions in dramatically improving the lives and working conditions of those early, postwar labourers and tradespersons. The strikes, both legal and illegal, brought attention to the plight of the workers and often the arrest of scores of workers. Safety was also a priority for the unions. 
Well published tragedies like the deaths of five Italian workers in an underground fire and the immigrant mother who killed herself when she was arrested trying to feed and cloth her children because living wages weren't paid helped other Canadians realize the extent of the problems facing immigrants in the construction industry. This sentiment led to improved government regulations and safety requirements which drove down the rates of deaths beginning in the late 1960s.

"But the most deadly and famous of construction accidents in Toronto happened on March 17, 1960, St. Patrick’s Day. That evening, a fire broke out in the main shaft of a watermain tunnel being built under the Don River, in the area known as Hoggs Hollow."

Columbus Centre, part of the Villa Charities Campus, is hosting the City Builders traveling exhibition within their Atrium located at 901 Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto. The opening reception took place March 24 amid the grand beauty of the cultural centre which is an important hub for the Italian Canadian community and open to all. "Frequented by more than 100,000 visitors every year, the Columbus Centre is a popular meeting place where people can enjoy the richness of the Italian culture in a Canadian setting; a veritable piazza that brings together art, culture, fitness, and great culinary experiences all under one roof."

The impressive Columbus Centre features dance studios, an art room and music studio, kitchen classroom, gymnasium, swimming pool, yoga and boardrooms, as well as a ballroom, restaurant and extensive outdoor grounds with a wide variety of statues - definitely worth a visit. The grounds also have the Italian Fallen Workers Memorial of Ontario.

See more of the Centre and the exhibition after the jump.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Grimsby Painted Ladies

Cottages along the edge of Lake Ontario, born from a old, bankrupt Methodist summer church camp look like they have appeared right out of a fairy tale. Many of the cute cottages which were built in the late 1800s have been spruced up with bright, beautiful colours, framed with gingerbread and whimsical decorations.

The bright, fanciful cottages are located beside Grimsby Beach Park near Lake Street and Park Street, with a large contingent around Auditorium Circle. The streets are tiny and there is not a lot of parking in the area so be careful driving around the area.

See more gingerbread after the jump.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Toronto March Break Comicon 2019

Superheroes abound at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre during March Break as an early Spring Comicon comes to town. For $35 (Saturday's price at the door) you can wander the packed South building looking for comics or other merch while a great many people are dressed up like their favourite characters. As always the cosplay is excellent.

From Friday to Sunday, March 15-17, 2019 the show hours for Saturday are 10am-7pm and Sunday are 10am-5pm.

See more cosplay after the jump.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

#Shazam Fan Experience in Toronto

Preparations are underway in Yonge-Dundas Square for fans of the new superhero movie Shazam. The event starts at 4pm on Thursday, March 14 and you can meet stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer and directory David Sandberg. Oh and City of Toronto Mayor John Tory will also be there.
"We are excited to put a spotlight on the many special things that film productions give back to our neighbourhoods. I encourage Torontonians to check out the free activation on March 14 and 15, and to celebrate productions like Shazam! that draw on the incredible artistic and technical talent our city has to offer."
- Mayor John Tory

The movie was filmed in Toronto and opens April 5, 2019. Get SHAZAMFIED and have a chance to win passes and other prizes.

"Using actual sets and props from production of the Shazam! superhero film (based on the comic book character of the same name and shot in Toronto), fans will be able to enter through a massive, 20-foot-tall (six-metre) lightning bolt and immerse themselves in two key moments from the film.

On Thursday, March 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Friday, March 15 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., fans will be able to "ride" on a subway car resembling the TTC subway and hop off to enter the mysterious Rock of Eternity for their chance to hold the epic Wizard Staff and become Shazamified! Participants will receive a complimentary video of their experience, as well as screening passes and other exclusive prizes."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Meet the media at Motorama 2019

The last day of the weekend Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo has always been my favourite because of the media panel full of Hall of Fame journalists that discuss various issues affecting the state of racing in Canada and Internationally. Eight professional media personnel met on the Rust-Oleum stage in Hall 2 on Sunday, March 10th between 11:30am and 1:00pm - Bryce Turner, Erik Tomas (Raceline Radio Network), Norris McDonald (Toronto Star), Todd Lewis (broadcaster), Mike Garrow (MAVTV Canada), James Neilson and Wally Nesbit (Inside Track Motorsport News) along with Tim Miller (Hamilton Spectator). Todd looks on as Norris takes to the microphone in the photo at top.
Left to right; Bryce, Erik (Hall of Fame), Norris (Hall of Fame), Todd, Mike, James, Tim (Hall of Fame) and Wally

Usually every year the various media members bemoan the declining state of newspaper and magazines, suggesting that companies need to sponsor all manner of racing teams or series to spread success onto new generations of fans. The accelerating loss of mainstream media continues but it did not take up much time with the panel, they instead talked about the move to streaming on every manner of platforms - away from major networks or standard cable tv packages. A lot of sports, motorsports included, have a niche market where viewers will have to seek out viewing options and pay extra for the pleasure of watching their favourite series - if they are even available. Wally Nesbitt acknowledge that Inside Track Motorsports News is also available online as a digital copy and some of their features, like race standings, are only posted online.

Senior member of the panel - Norris McDonald, who was the former editor of Toronto Star Wheels and the associated online presence, brought up the latest burning issue, that of the almost loss of IndyCar broadcasting in Canada for 2019. Apparently the television coverage ended in 2018 and IndyCar wasn't the party that typically looked after renewals. IndyCar had to setup their own media branch to sell the broadcast rights in Canada and did not find a suitor that wanted to take on the whole 2019 season for television. They decided on Sportsnet whom would show only the Indy 500 and the Honda Indy Toronto on tv, the balance of the season would be pushed online to a premium streaming service; Sportsnet NOW+. The concern is that without free television, or really just part of your paid cable subscription service, that the interest in IndyCar could drop in the barely visible land north of the United States of America (as in we are not very important to America in the general scheme of things).

Todd Lewis noted that broadcasters have to know of a demand and suggests that people provide feedback about their viewing requirements to their carriers. Due to these type of contacts Sportsnet has agreed to stream the first IndyCar race for free (Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg which Josef Newgarden won followed by Scott Dixon and Will Power).

The future of television really is the future of streaming. Costs will increase as the bulk purchasing power through many eyeballs is diluted by the power of the internet and we have to buy more niche programming. While it seems that sports is a sure bet for niche marketing, it will also fall to normal television programming as markets are fragmented. Time to use Neflix, Apple TV, Crave TV, etc in place of a single cable tv package. It will be interesting to see if we will get into pay-per-view for each race, or series we want to watch as opposed to a yearly or monthly subscription fee. But we will be able to watch what we want, when we want and on the devices we want.

Bryce Turner pointed out that several drivers are coming back to full time racing due to sponsors stepping up to get the teams back on the track. Two recent examples are Jason Hathaway and Mark Dilley who will join the field in the upcoming NASCAR Pinty's Series stockcar 2019 racing season.

Some other topics of interest included the following.

1. Importance of eSports and virtual racing. Viewers will be able to see actual races from the drivers viewpoint and through online gaming.
2. Canada now has an F1 team with driver Lance Stroll.
3. NASCAR Pinty's Series will have a new tire starting this year from General Tire replacing Goodyear tires.
4. The move to hybrid and electric race cars away from the combustion engines (20 plus years).

And don't forget all the great vehicles taking part in Motorama 2019! See more of the cars (and the model) after the jump.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

NASCAR Pinty's Series at Motorama 2019

It was a big day for NASCAR Pinty's Series stockcar racing at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo on Saturday, March 9 as driver Mark Dilley unveiled his No. 64 car (above) and announced his return to full-time racing, Jason Hathaway was also at the show and he also returns to a full time slot after missing two seasons. Driver and former Champion Andrew Ranger of the No. 27 car was also meeting fans and signing autographs at the MOPAR booth. Tomorrow (Sunday, March 10) you can the NASCAR Pinty's drivers at the Driver Q&A session on the Rust-Oleum Stage from 12:30pm-1:30pm. You can find the 2019 NASCAR Pinty's Series schedule on my post here and don't forget that they will be racing in Toronto during the 2019 Honda Indy in Exhibition Place.

“I was No.64 when I started racing back in ’83, I ran No.64 up until 2004. Then after 21 years I changed it to No.9 for the Dodge folk, and then when Kerry and I ran the No.02” said Dilley. “NASCAR racing is something I’ve always wanted to get back to, and I missed the No.64, so I’m hoping it’ll bring us some luck in the future.”

For Hathaway, who took off time to be with family: “I still have the competitiveness burning inside of me to win races in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. I know I can get the job done in the seat and with my team. We are a close group of hard-working guys and we all decided it was time for us to run full time together again.” Said Hathaway from the Team’s Stouffville, Ontario based shop.

Driver Andrew Ranger gives the thumbs up
The fifth annual Motorama Show continues all weekend long from March 8-10 at the Toronto International Centre and parking is free at the Conference Centre located at Airport and Derry Roads. On Sunday the show takes place in Halls 1-4 starting at 10am and finishing at 5pm. There are several other professional racing series at the show with representation from CASC-Ontario Region, OSCAAR and Porsche Canada.

There are plenty of cars at the show and of many varieties such as drag cars, hot rods, custom cars, modified cars and a corral full of mustangs.

SEMA and Star Builders on the Rust-Oleum stage talk about custom building
Spring Fever: Modified Cars and Culture

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square