Toronto #26

Wow. A whole month with no posts. Sorry, guys. Either things have been too quiet for me to really write anything about, as I concentrated on work and such, or there has been so much going on at once that I haven’t found the time for it.

Well, here’s my first (and hopefully not last) post for May. To kick it off, here’s something I should have mentioned a blog or two back: The Book of Mormon.

The reason I need to cover this is not just because it was an amazing and hilarious show. It’s also very rare that I go and see a musical. Or even go to the theatre, other than for rock concerts. It had been a long time since I had been to the theatre, and the first time that I had been to a theatre in Toronto. Another small milestone checked off my list.

Of course, the fact that the creators of South Park had been heavily involved with it helped. As expected, it was incredibly offensive at times, but also genuinely funny. It also had a lot of heart to it, too. And, as a musical, it was genuinely well made. Overall, it was a really cool time with the housemates.

Speaking of theatre, I went to The Royal a couple of times. One really great time was on National Canadian Film Day, as I was able to check out Cube for free. For those of you who don’t know it, it was a low budget horror made twenty years ago. Focusing on a group of people trapped in a giant cube, we watch them navigate their way through many cubed rooms while trying to avoid some really nasty traps.

The traps were less the appeal of the movie though and more how tensions rise between the characters. Things rapidly begin to deteriorate, and it becomes clear that they are as much of a threat to each other as the rooms themselves.

I was going to put a trailer of the film here, but then I watched it and saw how much it spoiled. Trust me: you need to watch this film while knowing as little as possible.

I had seen it once before. I was impressed then, and I was still impressed seeing it a second time, especially on the big screen and with a packed audience. When a film generates a ton of big and loud reactions from a huge audience, you know it’s definitely a success. Especially when we watched my favourite part. Without giving too much away, it was a brilliant shock that caused so many gasps.

Even better was that afterwards some of the cast and crew were on stage, taking questions from the audience. It was really informative, and it seemed like everyone involved enjoyed working on the film. It also became another reason why The Royal is definitely one of my favourite places to go to, as a movie fan.

Another film I watched this month was Tuff Turf. That wasn’t half as good, but honestly, it really does need to be seen to be believed. James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. star in one of the most over-the-top and gloriously 80s high school gang movies that I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely a very “what the fuck?” kind of film. I think a lot of my friends who were children of the Eighties would definitely enjoy it, though. Not as a good film, but certainly as something to watch together over a few beers. That’s my recommendation, anyway.

Easter was pretty great. Especially Easter dinner, which was nice. I learned how to make bread pudding! Must try and do that again sometime. I really got to stuff my face over those few days. Might need to try and find ways of losing weight. Still: totally worth it.

And for something that’s just a little more personal: recently, I’ve started dating again, for the first time in quite a while. So far, it’s been pretty good. Great, in fact. Meeting up with someone new over coffee or dinner is something I usually get nervous thinking about. And I’ll admit, on the first date, I was nervous. But not terribly so, overall. The second date was definitely nicer and more relaxed, and the same has been true of subsequent dates. It’s been nice, and I’ve gotta admit, I’ve been feeling more confident lately. I’ve been feeling good in general for the past year or two, but I’m not sure I’ve felt this good about myself in a really long while.

And that’s the end of this week’s blog. Perhaps I’ll realize that there’s a ton of things that I didn’t include that I’ll remember for next time. Certainly, I plan on writing another post very soon, as this month seems absolutely packed. Along with a game and a show to see, I’ve also got Montreal and Ottawa to visit at different points of the month, too. I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated. In the meantime, seeing today’s current date: May the Fourth be with you!


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: