Archive for May, 2009

Sweat and Spandex

Posted on May 29th, 2009 1 Comment

The Criterium had all the bone-crunching, flesh-rending action I was looking for. Too bad none of it happened where I was standing. Oh well, here’s some other stuff instead:











No visible injuries, but we can be certain that at least a good number of testicles were crushed (have you seen those seats?!). Next year perhaps they’ll incorporate fast and hungry animals or perhaps someone riding shotgun, with a shotgun, in the pace Lamborghini. Just for the psychological effect.

Still, it was a pretty good race and I got to smell the ass crack of almost every racer. It was a very real, very intimate experience.

And plenty of alcohol along the route too!

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

From moping to moist music

Posted on May 28th, 2009 2 Comments

It’s been a soggy couple of days in the city. When it wasn’t outright raining, a maritime mist kept everything slick, and the fog that followed ensured it stayed that way. I was starting to feel a bit under the clouds as I sat on the Dundas West streetcar, wondering what the heck I was going to write about today. See how much I care about you?

I was flipping around the idea of mentioning some of the outrageously asinine conversations I’ve been overhearing lately on the same route, but that was quickly dismissed when I spotted this thing:


A giant demi-sperm stuck to a wall; brilliant! At first I thought it might be an installation that spilled across the street from the AGO, but a mere two photos later, a goggle-headed face appeared from behind the glare in the window beckoning me in.

This actually happened some time back in March. I kept putting off writing about it until I completely forgot. Until today, that is.

I was schlepping groceries from Chinatown on my way home when I spotted the worm (called Nessie). Steve Mann’s get-up initially startled me, mostly because he looked like an extra from a Mad Max movie. But those dreamy eyes…

Without a second thought, I lept up those steps with bags, camera ‘n all, and parked myself in the middle of the space.


That’s Steve at the back there.


As you can see, the stuff inside is even more interesting than the halved spermatozoa stuck to the outside. The bathtub is actually being fitted to become a musical instrument called a Hydraulophone. Instead of blowing air through the pipes as you would with a standard instrument, this one uses water which vibrates various pipes, each of which is tuned to a produce a different frequency. In this case, the instrumentalist sits inside the tub, which is often done up for public appearances to look like a real bathing scene. Except here the lady sings and plays the tub. I know, I’m blushing too.

It’s an exact science and Professor Mann’s the man in the field. He does the Hydraulophone thing professionally, between stints as a teacher and a cyborg, I guess. I can barely hold down a job and a blog, so I have to respect the guy. He’s also got a permanent Hydraulphone exhibit in front of the Science Centre. I accidentally dropped one of Oliver’s  poops while disposing of them behind the building; it’s probably still there. Just doesn’t really compare somehow.

At least I managed to go the whole post without making any off-colour references about music being made by inserting fingers into wet holes. See how much I care about you?

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Highway pig

Posted on May 27th, 2009 1 Comment

When I read about the baby potbellied pig that was found on the highway today, it made me want to become a vegetarian.

I mean, what if that were my own potbellied pig out there?


Okay, so pig is the wrong word; let’s say gourmand. — Would I be able to eat him?

Look, have no illusions here; I’m fairly certain that Oliver would be feasting on my bloated corpse the moment I breathed my last. He might do so sadly, with a tear in his eye, but still manage to splatter bits of my entrails all over the kitchen floor. He is, after all, a meat eater. A very messy one. He’s just built that way.

So are we…kind of. We can do quite well on a non-meat diet and people have been proving that for quite some time. Let’s face it: meat eaters, of which I am one, really have no good excuse except maybe to say that it’s tasty.

I can’t rightly say don’t eat meat, just maybe not so much. And even less baby animals; that just doesn’t seem right, does it? While we’re at it, why not choose meat from an animal that has had a decent life? Of course you pay more for that, and that’s because it really should be a premium: Eat it less and savour it more. Veggies are, pound for pound, dirt cheap anyway, even if you buy organic which simply means your food’s been exposed to less crap. Save money, potentially more healthy, and happier creatures. I fail to see the downside.

Those who will tell you free-run, organic whatever tastes better are, for the most part, sadly deluded. The non-organic fruit tastes as good as the organic, the free-run don’t run on the butter better than the no-free-run — now three times fast.

There is this one milk that, to me, seems less gamey and more creamy than other local brands, but aside from that I wouldn’t recommend buying these things for improved flavour. Some, like fruit, will actually go bad quicker than the non-organic versions, but that’s probably because bacteria aren’t repelled by it.

Ultimately, it seems like it’s not a bad thing to be a bit more mindful of where our food comes from, even if just for ourselves. Making food more precious makes it taste better somehow, despite what I’ve just stated in the previous paragraph. It’s the difference between a single orange and a crate-full. You’ll never eat the whole crate before they rot so you can, nay must, be wasteful. You could fling armfulls at people for fun and still have a glass of freshly squeezed. A single orange, though, would be peeled so much more carefully, coquettishly even. And long after the orange was gone, the rending peel would remind your of the golden days of yesteryear, when you still had your orange.

I was going to start this paragraph with “But I digest…“, but after some reflection I came to the conclusion that I can’t stomach that kind of humour. I’ll just end by reminding you of that orange. Remember that orange? How it looked up at you with those sad, teary eyes? Remember?!

Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right

A fermented, non-crap alternative

Posted on May 26th, 2009 Be the first to comment


Breasts, bikes, and beer; the triumvirate of alliterative seduction is now complete!

At around this time last year, the Rickard’s beer company (one of a number Molson‘s subsidiaries), introduced a white wheat beer that I had absolutely no interest in. It’s not that I don’t enjoy beer but my interest in it wanes, much like my interest in full-time employment. Currently, it’s waxing.

Usually I imbibe my alcoholic beverages with deep political convictions; a pint of Guinness with a sipping shot of B52, for example. Rickard’s White, though, doesn’t really make a statement other than “I taste good” — which it does.

White ale, if you’re not familiar with it, is an unfiltered beer (hence the cloudiness), that has orange peel and coriander added to it to produce a slightly citrusy flavour. Unlike lager, ale is fermented more quickly and at room temperature (lager’s kept cold).

I’ve poured all sorts of fermented crap down my gullet and this drink is truly inoffensive. The slice of orange (sometimes lemon), shown in the photo is how it’s served at various pubs around Toronto. Friday afternoon’s tart and bitter post-work bitch-outs at Shoeless Joe’s just wouldn’t be possible without it.

I’m hardly a scholar of beer and it’s fair to say that the term “enthusiast” wouldn’t apply to me, but I can recommend this one. It’s the gateway drug of the legal alcohol world.

If I could leave just one parting note to our American neighbours, I would point out that Canadian beer tends to contain a man-level of alcohol (5.5%+), so take your time. And for the rest of you who may be wondering why this entry is uncharactersitically short, you will find your answer at the bottom of my pint glass.


Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right

Good old-fashioned road-tanned hides

Posted on May 25th, 2009 Be the first to comment

I wasn’t intending on writing about bicycles in Toronto quite so soon again, but then the mayor said this:

NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor David Miller, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim May 25 – June 25, 2009 as ‘Bike Month‘ and encourage everyone to get outside and ride!” — here’s the PDF.

Guess that’s Life for ya — in the City of Toronto, no less. Unfortunately Bill Carroll wasn’t on hand this morning to appraise the situation; perhaps he’s at home fearing for his life. Us bikers can be a pretty aggressive bunch, it’s true.

Yes, I biked today. My highly affordable and questionably-constructed Freespirit Aluminum Concept 6061 (that’s the name … can you find the web site? … ‘cuz I can’t), made the ride quite exciting. Aside from the single occasion I had to explain, in passing and quite loudly, why a truck didn’t need to block not only my lane but also the lane of traffic next to me just to make a left turn, it was a pretty smooth ride. The pavement needed some work in sections and I could see someone getting a surprise facial makeover if they weren’t careful, but for the most part the ride was without incident. Cars were unexpectedly cautious; perhaps it was the gentle swaying motion or the empty liquor bottle I was dangling loosely from my left hand, but everyone seemed to give me a pretty wide berth.

The biggest annoyances on the road today were actually the other cyclists. I’ll be honest, I don’t really care how stupid they’re being in front of cars or trucks because, let’s face it, that’s Darwin’s theory being played out in perfect harmony with the universe. It’s nature’s way of preserving a base level of intelligence in the general population, don’t you think? If the need to show their brains pubicly is really that profound, what goddam right do I have to stop them? But when they start pulling that shit in front of other cyclists or pedestrians, it’s a bit different.

It was mostly the inattention that got me: making a turn and simply not looking anywhere but forward; cutting out in front of cars on red lights; pulling out across the middle of the lane or the sidewalk and just sitting there; sometimes it’s just an unnecessary inconvenience and sometimes it’s just plain dangerous. Perhaps the topic of a future Guide to Urban Insolence for drivers?

Speaking of dangerous biking, this month is being kicked off with a close-quarters free-for-all race called the Criterium which, if the photographs speak true, promises some good old-fashioned road-tanned hides. The starting-line scrimmage should be wipeout central — *THE* place to be! I’m so excited that I’ve taken to wearing Depends all the time now.

Unfortunately, not everything will be this festive. The month-long celebration allows you to pack the pounds you’ve lost back on with a variety of pancake breakfasts and a bike tour of Dufflet stores. I think the Dufflet slogan should be: “Does this in any way taste like you want to know how many calories it has?” They have very very tasty cakes. Very tasty. For a reason.

There are a bunch of workshops and a couple of parades where people from all walks of life get to exclaim “I love to ride!”, which if you interpret it sexually as I do most things, is quite funny. I’m not sure what’s going on with the Leslie Street Spit other than some people bitching about the cormorants, but it’s going to be a popular destination with at least two tours of the area and another just across the water on Ward’s island. There are also a variety of group events such as the “Tuesday Ravine Ride”, “Wednesday Night Ride”, “Fast and Furious Friday Night Ride”, and the popular “Weekend rides” which are also open to enjoyably sexual connotations.

Are you going to ride your bike tomorrow?

  • What is this "bike" you speak of? (40%)
  • I'll think about it. (30%)
  • Are you kidding? That's not even an option! (10%)
  • I'm on the "yes" side of maybe. (10%)
  • I'm surgically attached to my bike. So yes. (10%)

Most readers say: What is this "bike" you speak of?

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Filed under: B Sides

Bickford boobery

Posted on May 22nd, 2009 1 Comment


The exact sequence of events yesterday at the Bickford Centre are still a bit hazy.

Some time in the late morning a gunman, or gunmen, stormed the adult ESL school and took the principal hostage. The school went into “lockdown” although none of the articles I read about the incident explained what “lockdown” means. Let’s assume that it involves locking the doors, keeping everyone huddled in the corner, and asking them to pray to whatever heathen gods they pray to.

This next part is what’s not quite clear to me. The Star seems to insinuate that the police showed up only after everything was over and only after calling the school to warn them that a threat was present. Presumably the Emergency Task Force took up positions outside the building, aimed their semi-automatics, and did their tactical entry thing.

Some time elapsed; a pregnant woman was carried out on a stretcher moaning; worried friends, relatives, and neighbours stood behind the police cordon nervously awaiting news. The atmosphere was thick with tension. And thickness (read on).

About an hour later it was all over. No shots had been fired and no one had been hurt. And that’s because it was just a drill.

Well, it was a drill according to the school’s administration; they just didn’t tell anyone about it. They said that they wanted to see how people would respond in a real-world emergency situation and so they didn’t provide anyone with advance notice. The real-world part seems reasonable but some of the other stuff…not so much.

For example, didn’t anyone in the school’s administration think to call the police just to let them know what was going on? Apparently this happens (minus the ETF), twice a year so it’s not like they haven’t done this before. It also happened at a school where, at the very least, I would expect someone to exercise a modicum of critical thinking. I mean, I’m not qualified to be a teacher or anything,  but the equation that led to this incident seems fairly straightforward:

Secret simulated hostage crisis + People with cell phones = High probability of serious police involvement

I’d use the word “embarrassing” but that requires the ability to be cognizant of the embarrassing circumstances; that seems not to be the case here. This is a school being run by people who are in charge of teaching newcomers to the Canada how to communicate (oh dear!). Furthermore, if the Star story is right and the cops called only after it was all over, I think we can agree that the ball was dropped by someone somewhere. Calling the potential victims of a crime after that crime has been perpetrated is pretty ball-less if you ask me. Lotta boobs though; especially the school administration.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Sweat problems, itchy crotches, and abrasive feet

Posted on May 21st, 2009 Be the first to comment

Last night at around ten o’clock I switched to CFMT (OMNI) to try to fill in a commercial break on the other channel with the Simpsons. I find the colours pleasantly distracting.

Unfortunately, they were also on an ad break, but one that made me want to stay and watch further.

It was composed of these strange little mini commercials that ran for only about ten seconds and featured relatively obscure products.

The first was for Perspirex, an industrial-strength antiperspirant,  “Available at Shoppers Drug Mart“. It features an attractively nondescript young lady in a green top out on a date with…? She reaches for a flirty lock of her hair through which to run her fingers when she spots a big ole’ pitter soaking her shirt. Smile of delight one instant, dropped jaw of disbelief the next.

Bam! Perspirex gets rid of that wetness and smell. Lady’s happy and she’s now letting the whole room get a good gander at her moisture-free underarms. Available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Yep. If that sounded a bit awkward, imagine what the commercial was like.

Next one: “As a model, I can’t be seen with embarrassing bumps on my bikini line.” Swimsuit model at a photo shoot, at times strangely aware of the TV audience watching her. Shot of smooth crotch in frilly lingerie.

Bikini Zone Cream: Stop Bikini Area Irritation Fast

…more sundry crotch shots, all with nary an imperfection.

Like I said, these commercials are really short. There isn’t even enough time to write complete sentences to describe them.

Sudden cut to three ladies’ legs on a sidewalk, one wearing galoshes and the two flanking her in strappy heels. Seems the poor girl’s hiding her feet in them big old boots ‘cuz she has an issue with dry, cracked feet. Well, dontcha know that Flexitol Heel Balm will fix that right up!

Now our girl’s just disembarked from a city bus and she’s in heels, smiling and pointing to her attractive new foot, as we are all wont to do.

Well, now wasn’t that something?

They were clearly targeting the ladies. Every commerciallette featured women exclusively. One of the products, the bump creme, seemed particularly unsuitable for most men. I guess, also, the “bikini” part of the product seemed somewhat feminine.

Okay, so they want women to use these products; women who must have fairly extreme sweat problems, itchy crotches, and abrasive, possibly bleeding feet.

The ads are just too similar, short, and tightly cut. What should have been three ads became one perturbing ad targeting a clientele with some disturbing medical conditions. Alone, each symptom is trivial, but together…forget about dinner and lingerie modeling; get your ass to a doctor, pronto!

Or maybe I shouldn’t think that deeply into it.

Wait. Isn’t that what they did at the ad agency that created this TV spot?

Available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Filed under: B Sides

Spokes are Swastikas!

Posted on May 20th, 2009 1 Comment

Bill CarrollBill Carroll put me on the Wall of Shame this morning.

Actually, it was all Torontonians and not me specifically, but I still felt the cold finger of blame pointed squarely at my face.

If you don’t know, Bill Carroll is the prime time personality for local radio station CFRB (AM 1010). His soothing repartee is my morning wake-up, usually taken with a caffeinated beverage, and followed by 680 News and a sunny toilet bowl.

The “Wall of Shame” segment, usually on just after 8 a.m., is a way for Bill to vent his rage and frustration in a generally non-violent way. Usually it’s the denizens of city hall or some child-abusers (I don’t think Bill sees a difference), who receive the honour of the simulated hammer-and-nail routine, but this morning Bill decided that Toronto — and everyone in it — was worthy of being shamed.

What got Bill so mad? The “minority” bicycling population of  Toronto is trying to impress their anti-car agenda on the city and we’re all just lying back and taking it. This stemmed from news that the group is trying to revive the proposal for a bike-only lane to be added to a section of Bloor Street West. Bill took this to be a personal afront: he drives, these people are obviously anti-car, hence they’re against him.

Usually Bill fake-hammers the virtual nail with measured disdain, but today he was pounding and yelling into the microphone like a man on a mission.

Why aren’t all car drivers furious with this “minority” agenda, he asked? Why is city hall filled with car haters? Why the hell isn’t the population of Toronto up in arms?! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ALL YOU PEOPLE?! (or something similar)

Bill phoned the deranged organizer of this three-ring circus to ask him what the big idea was. The guy on the other end replied that the city would be much better off if everyone rode a bike: environment, health, etc. Bill disagreed vociferously. The plan would be unworkable for the “vast majority” of people. It’s unconscionable how the bike-riding “minority” is trying to hijack city hall for it’s own nefarious purposes. How many people would use this extra lane anyway? Numbers! How many people, really?! TELL ME HOW MANY OF YOU SONS OF BITCHES THERE ARE!

The interviewee couldn’t come up with any stats.

How typical! Bill was sure it wasn’t a lot of people, not like drivers; there’s a lot of those, definitely a “vast majority”.

As Bill launched into another tirade, this was pretty much the end of the dialogue. Perhaps the interviewee left the conversation, maybe Bill hung up on him. The voice on the other end of the line simply stopped attempting to speak in between the Carroll deluge.

Now with only himself to convince, Bill kept absentmindedly knocking the imaginary nail while slowly descending into something resembling normalcy, all the while trying to re-frame the topic so that even the thickest of us would understand how awful it really was.

The phone lines were opened up.

The first caller agreed with Bill’s assertions and managed to earn himself a second sentence. “Why not lead a protest group like the Tamils?” he asked. “I can’t get involved,” replied Bill. “If you’re famous and lead a protest, they’re all over you. Somebody else needs to do this. Are you listening, Toronto? I’m so sick and tired of…”, and so on.

And then came the traffic report.

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Victoria’s secret

Posted on May 19th, 2009 Be the first to comment

Old Vickie had a blast on her birthday yesterday. Here’s a blow-by-blow:

“Albert! What on earth are you doing?”

“Birthday nosh, what?”

“Oh….Albert! Mmmmm….yes…right there…”

“That attachment…uhn…we had installed…unh…is proving…unh…quite effect…URK!”



“Oh, Albert. This is why you’ll never be king.”

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The end

Posted on May 15th, 2009 4 Comments

Well, folks, I’m sad to say that Toronto City Life is closing it’s doors for good.

The pressures of the workaday world have gotten to me and I have to shutter up the site.

I’d like to thank all those of you who read TCL regularly. Maybe we’ll do this again sometime.

…is what I would have written if I were getting ready to call it a day.

But I’m not.

In fact, between now and the Queen’s birthday on Monday (the old girl’s turning 190 years old!), I’ll be doing some renovations around here. Toronto City Life will be getting a face lift to make it more blog-like. It’ll remove the need to produce a cover image for every post which was proving to be a real bitch to do every day, and hopefully it’ll make things a little more inviting. No more grossly misleading front-page excerpts either!

This will also give me the opportunity to do some much-needed work on the Blogs section. The content on the blog itself shouldn’t change much but to help with the new format I’m going to try enforcing a six-paragraph-or-less rule. I had set this out for myself a while ago but clearly I’ve failed miserably in this up until now. I’ll keep trying.

In any event, this’ll make my life a little easier and, with any luck, make your experience here a little more cheerful. Suicide should no longer be the first thing on your mind after reading my stuff!

Enjoy Vickie’s b-day with ample fireworks and alcohol and I’ll see you again on Tuesday. Unless you live outside of the commonwealth. Who feels silly for wanting independence now, huh?

Filed under: B Sides