Toronto #23

Due to a sudden and extremely strong head cold, this week has been considerably quieter than last. I didn’t even get to see one film at the Royal this week! However, that is something I plan on correcting for the upcoming week, now that I’m feeling much better.

And on the big fat plus side, if my week sucked, then Saturday more than made up for it. Once again, I met up with my fellow Canadian Tower junkie, and we headed down to Cherry Cola’s for Mod Night. I’ve mentioned before how Cherry Cola’s is currently one of my favourite places to go to, and Mod Night is definitely my favourite semi-regular night at my favourite place.

Because any night where the advertisement includes an image from one of the greatest films ever made is BOUND to be worth going to.

After chatting over drinks and saying hello to the bands, the show began with Jack the Lads playing their set. Along with their really enjoyable original songs, which have a nice 60s vibe to them while still feeling modern, they did a really smashing cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones. That’s a song that got a really great response from the crowd, which I was pleased to see. It’s a song I’ve certainly always enjoyed, so I was glad to hear it played live by a really talented band.

Afterwards, Blackdog Ballroom played their set. It has to be said, this band nails the 90s British alternative genre. That’s something I can’t say I’ve really experienced with other bands, but their songs really did remind me of classic bands like The Verve and Oasis. It made me feel really nostalgic for that period of my life when I’d constantly hear that music being played, while at the same time, made me super glad that I had traveled as far as I had for something like this. I’ve watched a lot of great live music played back home, don’t get me wrong, but it’s incredibly rare I’d find a band that would play the capture the feel of 90s nostalgia that Blackdog Ballroom does so easily.


Along with some great original tracks, I also got to hear some of my all time favourite tunes. ‘Taxman’, ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)’ were all brilliant, but the best one was definitely ‘Champagne Supernova’. A great way of ending a great set, and one that I spent the whole night dancing to (because seriously, as great as it is to listen to, it’s at least as important to mod music that you dance to it and that you have a damn good time).

Pictured: a blurry image of yours truly having the time of his life while being considerably intoxicated by this point.

So that was a perfect way to balance out a rough week – great music and great times with great mates. I’ll be sure to write more about writing and reading next week. In the meantime, I’m going to round off this excellent mod weekend by sticking on the classic film, Quadrophenia.

Toronto #22

It’s official: as a movie buff, the Royal cinema is definitely one of my favourite places to go to in Toronto. I caught two films last week. One was Dark Star, an interesting early film of John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon. It’s a comedy, but it’s a very peculiar and strange one. I strongly suspect it’ll be one of those films that’ll grow on me on multiple viewings.

Different to both Carpenter’s and O’Bannon’s usual work, but still a good watch, especially for seeing the talent of the filmmakers when they clearly had no budget. I especially appreciated reading a note from O’Bannon presented at the start of the film, where he admitted that, since Dark Star wasn’t exactly popular as a comedy, he’d essentially take the same basic story and turn into a horror. Thus, Alien was born.

The second film I watched was one I appreciated a lot more: Barfly. Starring Mickey Rourke before he fucked up his face and Faye Dunaway long before she announced the wrong Best Picture (now there’s a timely reference for ya), it’s a black comedy that focuses on two people who aim to live in permanently drunken states.

There are some films that portray alcoholism and poverty in a completely negative light. This is definitely not one of those films. Keep in mind, that’s actually not a criticism. Watching Rourke’s character of Henry was really fascinating. Clearly, from his thoughts and his writings, he’s in some ways a very intelligent man. He’s never seen to be depressed, but he’s not motivated to “be something”. Neither does he learn a valuable lesson at the end of the film about how important that is.

Pictured: not a representation of what this film is. At all.

The moment I saw a clip of Withnail & I – one of my favourite films of all time – shown before the film began, I knew I was going to love Barfly. (Especially as it has one of my favourite dialogue exchanges of all time on film, regarding “what’s-his-name”.)

I wasn’t disappointed. Barfly is one of those rare films that has no plot, but you love it for the dialogue and the characters that you’re spending the time with. I definitely need to look up the writings of Charles Bukowski, who wrote the screenplay. Interview clips with him were shown before the film, and he was clearly a fascinating man himself who seemed to just enjoy writing more than anything.

Speaking of which, I finished a short story last week. It’s only a few pages, and it’s really nothing more than to set a scene for a novel while exploring character writing. However, despite dreaming to be a writer for so long, it’s the first thing I’ve bothered to finish creatively since high school. It’s a small step, admittedly, but I’m glad I’ve made a step at all. Maybe coming out to Canada really is doing me some good and getting me more motivated. Writing in the journal is helping too, I think.

Back to Friday night – after seeing Barfly, I headed down to currently my favourite bar in the city, Cherry Cola’s. That was definitely an interesting night. While talking to complete strangers over drinks, we watched some decent live acoustic music that was then followed by something interesting called “Music for Murder”. It was performed on stage and reminded me of old-school horror soundtracks that had been mixed with Rob Zombie. It was interesting to watch (especially when it was shown with gore clips from horror classics like Deep Red), and a little strange too, but certainly not bad, at least if you’re a horror fan. Just a strange environment to demonstrate that kind of music.

At the end of the night, I watched some burlesque performances for the first time. Apparently, they’re a regular thing at Cherry Cola’s, but while I’ve been to the bar semi-regularly, either I had left before they started, or they simply weren’t having them that night. If Friday was anything to go by, though, they’re clearly done very, very well. There were several different performers, all with very different acts – some fun, some sensual, and some just fucking crazy. In all the examples, there was definitely a lot of planning and organizing done with their routines. I’ve gotta admit, I have a lot of respect for anyone who could do something like that. All through the shows, one thought popped into my head: “And I thought improvised comedy took a lot of guts!”

Sunday was quieter, and perhaps just a little more suited to my style, as me and a housemate headed out to a comedy bar to watch the Oscars. I don’t usually watch award shows, at least never in full, but I must admit, it was really fun to watch it as part of a small audience, especially with comedians commenting on stage. I was especially glad to catch that moment live: when Moonlight was announced as the correct winner for “Best Picture Award”, the reaction in the room was HUGE. Definitely glad I caught that live instead of reading about it on the internet, and with a crowd of people, too.

So that was my week. Films, music, horror, burlesque, writing, comedy and awards. Not a bad one, really.

Toronto #21

I don’t know whether having a journal is helping or not, but this past week, I’ve definitely felt more motivated to get out more, so there’s a little bit extra to write about for the blog this week when it actually comes to Toronto.

On Monday night, I headed down to a brand new part of the city that I had never been to before. While I had initially thought that it could be a night of getting drunk and potential dancing, it turned out to be a quiet night out, instead. Sometimes, when that happens, it’s can be a bad thing, but on that night, it felt completely right.

After checking out a new poutinerie (I’m not gonna lie – I’m currently making it something of a mission to try out as much poutine as I reasonably can while I’m here), I came across a cool little place called the Red Light. It’s a great little lounge that seems to specialize in serving great whiskeys and spirit drinks. As it turned out, I didn’t feel like having any alcohol that night, so I just had a coke while sitting down and just soaking up the atmosphere. The barman was kind enough to not even charge me for the coke, so I made sure to give him a tip before I left. I definitely plan on heading down there again sometime, especially if I fancy a quiet drink.

One thing I’m learning about living here is that, not only do I love exploring the city, but I’m also loving the long journeys. Strange, I know, but I just love how it just gives me time to read or listen to an audio story without distract myself too much. Spending a lot of time reading Hearts in Atlantis that night was a real bonus. I might have a quiet night out more often.

On Tuesday, I had quite possibly one of the best Valentine’s Days that I’ve ever had. Considering it was mainly heading down to watch a film after work, that might sound like an exaggeration (or alternatively, a rather sad comment on my dating life), but the whole experience was great. At the Royal, I got to see the original My Bloody Valentine on the big screen as part of a large audience. Not only was it a great 80s slasher, but it was a gloriously Canadian slasher, too. I wouldn’t say if it was a better Canadian horror than Black Christmas, (which remains one of my favourite examples of the genre, along with Halloween,) but it was, with its stronger accents and mentions of poutine, a more obviously Canadian film. It was a really great watch.

I was also glad that I had waited so long to see it, too. In the UK, the only cut on DVD was the theatrical cut (at least, since the last time I checked). What we watched on Tuesday was, thankfully, the director’s cut. Because the reinserted footage was of a noticeably lower quality than the rest of the film, it was obvious exactly where it had been originally cut, too. And all I could think afterwards was how much of a shame that so much had been cut in the first place.

Not just because the effects work was brilliant, and that it must have been disappointing for people who had worked on it so hard to see all of it completely cut out, but because it was clear that the film wouldn’t have made half as much sense without so many crucial scenes.

Seriously, half the time I was seeing the cut footage, along with, “Whoa, that death was nasty!”, I was also thinking, “Wait, what must have the audiences thought when they were watching the cut version?!?” The edits would have definitely created more than a few plot holes, so it’s a real shame they were made in the first place. I’m super glad that my first viewing of the film was something much closer to an actual director’s cut.

But the real highlight of the night was the fact that the director, producer and one of the actors from the film themselves were at the screening. Not only was it really cool that they got to tell some stories about the making of the film before we watched it, but I actually got to say hello to them afterwards and tell them how fantastic the film was.

The producer was even kind enough to tell me of what footage hadn’t even made it to the director’s cut, which sounded even gloriously nastier than what I actually saw. Overall, getting to see My Bloody Valentine on the big screen was super great, and I’m glad I waited this long to see the best possible cut of the film.

Friday was pretty cool, as I got to meet one of my mates from the Dark Tower message boards that I regularly post on. Out of all the fandoms I know, the Dark Tower community has definitely been the best and most welcoming, especially the people of I’ve met many friends from there already, and it was great to meet one more. Especially a fellow writer who’s actually gotten round to completing a couple of novels. It was good to talk about writing and books while at a second hand book store, I must say.

Saturday was mostly quiet, but I got to introduce one of my housemates to the brilliance that is Shaun of the Dead, not just one of my favourite British comedies but still one of my favourite British films period. Any excuse to watch that film is a good one, and getting someone to watch it for the first time is definitely a perfect excuse.

Last week, I made a personal aim of getting out more and trying to gain more experiences. I think I’ve achieved that somewhat this week, and I hope I can find a way of continuing that this week, too. But I’ve also noticed something else lately – I don’t take nearly enough photos. I don’t know why, it’s more a lack of a habit or simply allowing someone else to take them, but that’s something I definitely need to work on while I’m here. While I’m not quite up to living here 6 months just yet, it’ll be getting there very soon, and by the time I head back home next year, I really want to have as much to remember of these two years as possible. I’ll see if I can work on posting some pics for next week.

Toronto #20

Finally, back to actually writing this on a Sunday for my blog! Well, a couple of updates since last week: I’ve been writing more the past week, and have even got round to getting my own journal while I’m over here. In fact, I’ve now got two.

To clarify, at the end of the week where I once again got paid, I rushed out and got one. Nothing too fancy, just a nice little black hardbound book with lined pages. Simple, but classic.

What I didn’t know was that my wonderful mother, who has been following these posts, decided to buy one for me online. The great thing is that, other than the fact that it’s ringbound, it was virtually exactly what I was looking for. So on the plus side, if I fill my current journal up (and I certainly plan on doing just that), I do have one spare, so here’s me planning on remaining disciplined enough to fill up both of them.

What can I write in a journal that I can’t write in a blog, one that I’ve been pretty upfront about already? Once again, I’m reminded of my old friend Lee, and how he would introduce one of our shows at the Laughter Academy. He’d explain to the audience that with shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Mock the Week, the reason those shows were always half an hour of absolutely hilarious improvised lines was because, when they were actually filmed, they would be closer to at least an hour of comedy. It’s just that of that hour, at least half of it would be cut because it was shit. The joy of seeing something like the Laughter Academy live was because all the shit would be left in!

That’s basically what my journal is: any thoughts that I have written down, unedited. Yes, what you’re reading right now is the equivalent of the best of those thoughts. Apologies for that.

I must admit, knowing that my mother is following my blog and will be able to catch whatever entries I write has made me realize something. Specifically, that there are two words I should be writing when going into detail about my personal life, and that I’m not nearly writing them enough. They are, of course: “Sorry, mum.” I hope I can correct that in future.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can say this week that will be worthy of those words. As I mentioned, I simply focused on the writing, as much as wanting to focus on developing any skills I might have as much as simply a lack of money. It seems to have gone nicely so far. Nothing on my novel writing but, along with filling up some ideas for a loose plot and a couple of characters, I’ve started work on a short story. It’s not exactly intended for publication, just something done mainly as an exercise, both for fleshing out the characters and village in my novel and for just seeing what works in my writing style and what doesn’t.

It’s a little character story that has been heavily influenced by Stephen King novels, especially the “epic” ones. In his best books, he’d tell almost entire life stories of ordinary characters, just people who lived their lives in a town, city or world that’s shared by the main characters. At least half the time, it’s done to build up to a terrible and horrifying death, but it’s also done to add a little bit of extra colour, depth and even life to the novel. Being able to focus as much on the little characters as much as the major ones was a skill I really love about King’s writing.

The same, by the way, could be said for comic book writers John Wagner and Alan Grant, particularly on their 80s Judge Dredd work. In just a few pages, they’d paint the perfect portrait of a citizen’s or criminal’s life.

It’s something I think I’ll work on for the next couple of months. Whether any of these short stories will be included in the novel or not is something I’m unsure about, but at the very least, it’s good practice.

Over the weekend, I’ve watched a couple of movies, two at the cinema on Saturday. First, I watched Wayne’s World at the Royal, which was fun. 25 years on, (what the fuck, seriously???), and it’s still a great comedy.

But the highlight of the day was watching Hacksaw Ridge for the first time. Holy fucking shit, what an amazing war movie! I had heard great things about it, but I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. In some ways, it was reminiscent of a lot of war movies. There was a lot of focus on the brutality of war as well as the heroism, and such scenes reminded me of the greats like Saving Private Ryan. The fact that it was also split so cleanly between the training and the actual battle even reminded me of Full Metal Jacket.

But at the same time, it remained very much its own film. As much as it was about the brutality and the heroism that could be found in war, in equal part, it was also an amazing character study. What happens when a man refuses to kill or even hold a gun when he wants to serve his country in a time of war? And how well can he truly stick to those principles? These questions of morality were what really drove the film for me, and the fact that it was based on a true story just really amazed me. Hacksaw Ridge is definitely one of my favourite war movies, and could be a favourite of mine for a long time to come.

One other film that I watched this weekend, this one on my laptop, was Stuck in Love, which I mentioned in last week’s blog. It’s kind of a shame that it didn’t stick to the original title Writers, as I do think it suited the movie a lot better. Anyway, one of the characters mentions an actual quote by Flannery O’Connor that stuck out for me:

Nothing needs to happen to a writer’s life after they are 20. By then they’ve experienced more than enough to last their creative life.

I’m not sure if I believe that, and I’m certainly not sure if that’s true for everyone. As I covered in my last blog, I spent a lot of time in my years before high school avoiding key experiences.

Having said that, I’m not gonna lie, the year I turned 20 was definitely a pretty major year for me, one where I learned a lot about life, love and relationships. Well, maybe not relationships, but dating. Well, maybe not dating, but kissing and sex, at least. (If you’re still reading this, sorry, mum.)

The point is that I do need to continue to make an effort to get out there and have new experiences. Both as much for the sake of the blog and keeping it interesting as much as it is for developing the writing. Hell, gaining new experiences was a big reason why I came to Toronto in the first place. There have been many great nights I’ve had in the past six months, and I see no reason to stop now. Which is why, tomorrow, I’m gonna head out downtown and check out a night of decent music that’s playing that I’ve randomly stumbled across. I’ll let you guys know how it goes in next week’s blog.

Until then, enjoy the best scene from Wayne’s World.

Toronto #19

I’ve got a confession to make: I’m in a real Stephen King mood lately. Kind of fitting as I’m now on the nineteenth Toronto post. (For those of you who are unaware, 19 is a major number in The Dark Tower series.) As I noted last week, it’s partially to do with revisiting his Tower novels, but there’s also another key reason: he’s so damn good at what he does.

Last week, I had finished re-reading Black House, a particular favourite of mine. Well, one of my many particular favourites, anyway. Afterwards, I began reading the sixth Dark Tower volume ‘Song of Susannah’. Today, I finished it before making a slight start on re-reading Hearts in Atlantis. And, once I’m done with my third Tower read, I’m itching to re-read some of my other favourites, including The Stand and IT. Huge epics to read, despite the fact that I have many other King books to check out. (Not to mention that I still need to finish off George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. But then again, so does he, so I’m not too fussed about that.)

Throwing myself into these books has reminded me of something. Not just of how great a writer Stephen King is, but more importantly, how reading his books really made me want to become a writer, way back in high school when I read the second Dark Tower volume, ‘The Drawing of the Three’. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading his first volume, but it was the second volume that truly grabbed me, and in some ways changed my life, although I didn’t know it at the time.

(For more on my thoughts on how much I love these books, see here for a thought piece I did a couple of years back, the first (and currently only) post in my “Writers That Make Me Think, ‘Damn, I Wish I Could Write Like That'” series.)

Of course, that was considerably over a decade ago, and in the case of the writing department, I’ve finished fuck all. I’ve had plenty of ideas, but a lack of confidence as well as frustration has lead to a lack of actual development.

Very recently, there are two key things I’ve realized about myself. Firstly, I’m someone who prefers clear, visual results when it comes to my work. More than that, I like consistent levels of clear, visual results. I think this is one of the reasons why I went into accounting as opposed to, say, an English Literature degree, or something that could’ve helped me to focus on my creative writing.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret going into my AAT studies. To be frank, I’m not sure I’ll ever have what it takes to make it as a writer, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t earn enough solely through it. At least with my AAT studies, or at least my experience in finance, I’ve got a decent day job to help me through with that if I did want to take writing more seriously.

The second, and this is going to sound ridiculous, but it’s true, is that I hate being wrong. To an extent, that’s true of all of us, but I actually physically loathe it. There’s hardly anything that I’ve hated in this world so much as being wrong. To help me cope with this problem, I’ve usually taken the easy way out by avoiding the possibility altogether. This has taken in the forms of, in chronological order:

  • Selective mutism (because seriously, how can you get a question wrong, or even ask a dumb question, if you don’t say anything at all?)
  • Putting in so much effort into learning that it becomes actually impossible to fail. Of course, that plan, ironically and unsurprisingly, inevitably failed. Which of course lead to:
  • Not making any effort whatsoever. After all, how can you fail at all if you don’t even try? (This attitude was best summed up by George Lass in the opening scene of the brilliant television series Dead Like Me, and it really does perfectly sum up how I was back then. See below a clip of both the speech and a great story about how death came into the world.)

I’ve mentioned before how, through a combination of that last attitude plus long term unemployment (although in hindsight, it really did come down to having that attitude, more than anything), I went through a bout of depression, which I won’t go into here. All I can say is that my fear of being wrong has held me back over the years, or rather, allowed me to hold myself back.

Fortunately, many things have helped with almost overcoming this problem. First, there was getting back into studying and actually passing my studies. Then, a few years later, there was getting into improvised comedy. Trust me, nothing helps you face being forced to be wrong like fucking up in front an audience that usually consists of your friends and family.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there was deciding to move to Canada for a couple of years on my own and hoping for the best. I’ve recently realized that it’s now already just over a year since my application for a work permit was approved. It’s hard to believe that, after actually putting in the effort and taking one of the biggest steps in my life, I’m actually here, 1 year later. I think, as a result, it’s beginning to make other daunting decisions seem easier.

Take Stephen King’s non-fiction book On Writing, for example. You would’ve thought that, as an aspiring writer who was hugely inspired by the great sage and eminent author himself, that I would’ve read a book where he actually gives tips on actually writing much, much sooner. But I never did buy it, and I think I’m only just beginning to realize why.

Like I said, I hate being wrong. Reading a book by one of my heroes and having the risk of knowing that my method has been completely wrong? Hell no! No way I want to face that! Better to just ignore that book altogether and try it on my own. Or, you know, just put the writing to one side and don’t worry about it.

But rediscovering what made me want to write in the first place has proved to be too much to ignore that impulse to write anymore. And right now, I’m definitely not as afraid of finding out where I’m going wrong as I used to be. Which is why I finally purchased an eBook copy of On Writing today.

I had also planned on buying a decent journal to write down thoughts, ideas, or just the first fucking thing that comes into my head about anything. Another key thing I remember from improv was when my tutor told me that one of the problems I have, when it comes to making shit up on the spot (which is essentially what improv is) isn’t a lack of ideas, but having too many of them at once and not being able to pick one on the spot.

If I can have something to jot those down and find a way of organizing them – or simply just vomit them on the page – then it’s possible that it could really help. However, as of right now, I don’t really have that much money, so better to wait until payday before getting a journal that’s decent enough to write my thoughts in.

So that’s this week’s blog post. Not really much to do with life right now in Toronto, I know, but it did cover some of the things which lead me here, so I guess it’s kind of relevant. I’ll let you know how the writing goes in my next post.

In the meantime, I’m just going to make a film recommendation that’s been on my mind. There’s a movie from a few years back called Stuck in Love. The trailer makes it look a lot like Crazy, Stupid, Love, (which I also enjoyed,) and I’m not gonna lie, in some ways, it is a lot like that. But one thing I like about it is how it’s focused on a family of writers, with one of the characters being a big Stephen King fanboy. For fans of not just good romantic comedies but also writing and Stephen King, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Toronto #18

As the first month of the year draws to a close, I thought another blog update was in order.

I will admit, as far as my personal life is concerned, things are rather quiet right now. With a lot of focus on saving for the next few weeks, my main focus has been reading. After finishing ‘Wolves of the Calla’, I re-read the whole of Black House, a novel co-written by Stephen King and Peter Straub and the second in their “Territories” series. (Here’s hoping King and Straub are still working on the third book in the trilogy that began with The Talisman.)

I’ve been in a real Stephen King mood lately, what with the long awaited Dark Tower movie coming out this year, and it’s reminded me of not just my love of reading, but also my dreams of writing, too. So, since I won’t likely be heading out to Cherry Cola’s this month (seriously, as great as that place is, drinking is definitely one activity that gets expensive real quick, and too expensive when you’re on a budget), I’m thinking focusing a little more on my own writing is in order.

There’s one story I started working on this year, and another that, well, I’ve been trying on and off for far too long. I’ll let you know in next week’s blog how that goes. I’ll also try and see if I can get my hands on Stephen King’s On Writing. Something tells me that’s one book I really need to track down and read if I want to start taking creative writing even remotely seriously.

Outside of my personal life, let’s be honest – it’s been a funny old month, hasn’t it? Trump’s first week as President of the United States was even less than I had hoped for, especially with the ban. Last week, the brilliant acting legend that was Sir John Hurt passed away. And over here in Canada, we had the horrific shootings in Quebec.

As shit as 2016 was, it’s very possible that 2017 could be so much worse. Especially now that Trump’s actually in power. Who knows what could happen this year? Maybe we’ll lose twice as many heroes. Maybe Trump really will reveal the full extent of his insanity in the worst way possible.

For the moment, the only thing we can do is take what we can and enjoy what we can. 2016 was a crap year in general, but personally, if I’m being honest, it was a gloriously life changing year for me. After so many years of making plans and having ideas and just not going through with them (writing a novel only being one of them), I was finally able to make not only my boldest plan, but to actually go through with it. And it’s definitely been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

So whatever it is you want to do – actually really fucking want to do – my best advice is to go through with it. Even if you fuck up, you get the satisfaction that you tried, at least. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when you really want something, something that will make you actually happy, you’d be surprised at how far you’d go to get it. There’s a lot of shit going on in the world right now. For many of us, the best we can do is focus on what’s really important and distract ourselves with our own personal challenges.

Toronto #17

OK, so it’s still slightly late (I usually like to type these up on a Sunday), but I still want to keep this as a regular thing. Especially after a week like last week.

First things first, an update on my job. Whereas last week, I said that it didn’t look like I was going to be in my current placement much longer, it was barely a day later when I found out that my contract had been extended – by two months! At the very least, that gives me plenty of time to save and prepare for at least a brief period of unemployment, if needs be.

Having said that, I still plan on getting out as much as possible for the slightest excuse of enjoyment. Which is why I headed down to The Royal cinema twice. First was to catch the Black & Chrome edition of Mad Max: Fury Road. It was quite the experience. While some moments made me realize how wonderfully colourful the original version is, there were definitely plenty of scenes where the black and white works beautifully, especially the night scenes. It was definitely worth the watch.

The other film I saw was The Dead Zone. I’ve been in a Stephen King mood lately (which I’ll get to in a moment), so finally seeing this on the big screen was perfect for me. (What also helped was the trailer the Royal showed for it before Mad Max: “On the most terrifying day of 2017, watch a political lunatic get taken down…by Christopher Walken!” Times like this that make me seriously glad I came to Canada.)

I’ll admit, I have yet to read the book, but the film was great. Shot in wintry Ontario, the film tells the story of Johnny Smith, a man who, after a car crash, spends 5 years in a coma before waking up to discover he has psychic abilities. The film explores not just how he uses these powers, but also how he adjusts to a life that has moved on without him.

Christopher Walken was brilliant in the lead role, and the story was surprisingly sweet, considering it was directed by David Cronenberg, during his early days of visceral shocks and body horror like Scanners and Videodrome (the latter I really am itching to see). Don’t get me wrong, the film did have some horrific scenes, (one of which involving a pair of scissors that even I couldn’t bear to watch,) but overall, it also included some really great drama in there, too.

It was also surprisingly episodic, with the film’s plot broken into 4 parts – there’s the “origin” of the lead gaining his psychic powers; there’s a murder mystery; there’s a focus on his personal and professional life; and finally, there’s the climax where he makes a difficult but important decision. It all flowed together really well, and watching it, I could see how it could’ve been adapted into a TV series.

Overall, it seemed to be a solid Stephen King adaptation. I’m even more curious to read the book, and if I’m honest, check out the TV series, too.

Also this week, I’ve gotten back into my 3rd read of The Dark Tower series. I was in the middle of volume 5, ‘Wolves of the Calla’, when I put it aside months ago. Partly to focus on moving to Canada, as well as other things. This week, I finally picked it up again, and read the rest of it in a couple of days. So good.

‘Wolves’ is a great mix of Magnificent Seven tribute, horror, sci-fi, and even ‘Salem’s Lot sequel (the last of which I appreciated even more, having finally read what is currently one of my favourite vampire stories since my last read of the Tower). All of which given that distinctive Stephen King spin. I must admit, ‘Wolves’ has grown to be one of my favourites, after the second volume, ‘The Drawing of the Three’. (Now there’s a life changing book for me if ever there was one.)

I may make a start on volume 6, ‘Song of Susannah’, in a couple of weeks or so. Currently, I’ve decided to re-read Black House, another Stephen King book I’ve enjoyed (co-written with Peter Straub), and which has major Dark Tower connections. Certainly, I plan on finishing the current read of the Tower before the film gets released in a few months time.

Am I excited about the film? Well, I’m certainly keeping an open mind about it. From what I’ve read, it sounds radically different to the books in terms of its plot, but considering how meta and complicated the books get, that’s understandable. Even more understandable given that the film’s less of a straight-forward adaptation and more of a…well, I won’t spoil it for any who’ve yet to read the novels. All I’ll say is that Idris Elba, while not exactly who I pictured as Roland, is someone I can still see playing the part really well.

I think I’m more excited about Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. He looks really cool in the role, and I can definitely see him playing it really well. I just hope we get a trailer soon (and a proper one this time, not one that was leaked online before the effects were even finished).

Now, away from fantasy and books and back to Toronto. I’ve found out that my current favourite place (well, possibly joint favourite, next to the Royal,) Cherry Cola’s, is thankfully still open. I headed down there Saturday night, where I proceeded to have plenty of drinks while enjoying some really great live music. Yep, that place really is my kind of pub.

Afterwards, and despite it being so late, I decided to watch The World’s End when I got home. Because when you’re drunk and have listened to great music, watching a film about people getting drunk while fighting robots to a soundtrack that kicks off with Primal Scream’s “Loaded” has such massive appeal, I’ve gotta say.

Well, that’s it for this week. I don’t know whether I’ll have much to write about in my next post (with the possible exception of how awesome Black House is), but I’ll try to keep it interesting. For now, here are some words from Christopher Walken: