Pacific Mall

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Went on a short excursion to the Pacific Mall, in Markham – northeast of Toronto. Drove out with a friend, who likes to drive. There is no scenic route through the vast stretch of retail sprawl, unless one find the various shopping malls scenic. Traffic getting there wasn’t too bad, coming back was hell. Parking was easy even though by 11:30 the lot was already full.

Google said that the stores didn’t open until 11 so we timed our arrival for 11:30. Many of them didn’t open until noon. We entered via the west doors & there was a lineup around one of the inner block – was there a flu shot clinic that morning? Turns out it was Black Friday line up for special deals at Fido & Virgin. Figures, as every other shop is a some sort of cell phone attachments spot. 

Lots of anima/manga t-shirts, candy stores (I bought a variety of Japanese KitKats but was disappointed there was no wasabi KitKats to be found 😦 ) the first floor is primarily retail – tailors, leather goods, some health-food spots. I was hoping for a tea shop but didn’t spot one. On the second floor is the wonderful street food court. Japanese, Chinese, Korean specialties & many were super busy. 

The counter people were eagerly inviting passers-by to stop & eat their noodles, pancakes, tofu. I settled on ‘dry’ chicken with spicy noodles. Dry as opposed to soup. Yummy. we found a table near the Terra Cotta warriors. These, needless to say, are reproductions. On my lotto max to buy list –  a couple of them would be perfect for protecting the morning glories in my garden. 

We both made purchases. My friend got toys for her grandchildren. I found, gasp, a great t-shirt that supposedly changes colour in sunlight – the higher the uv the greater that change – I didn’t have the heart to tell the very cute clerk ‘Honey, your sales pitch is as hard as a Chinese Warrior.’ Maybe I should have said it to see if he would blush. The image is a dragon & phoenix in a yin-yang coil. I also found a new maneki (lucky cat) to add to my collection – one without the solar arm that waves constantly. 

All in all, a successful excursion that I’d love to repeat soon now that I have a better idea of the layout, where the always-hard warriors are lol – & see the other half of the mall. Maybe to get ancestor money for Chinese New Year.

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Music of Masculinity

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I recently did a couple of posts in my music series about The Rolling Stones. It started me thinking about the role music played in my teenage year. How what I listened defined what I believed was masculine. In all footage I’ve seen of The Beatles there is nothing but screaming, swooning girls – no boys. In fact pop rock music fell into those two camps – most of it was in the girls camp. The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits were for girls, The Rolling Stones, The Who were for boys. Donovan: fem; Bob Dylan: masc. Boys who like music too much were suspect – girls could sing along – boys couldn’t – lol. 

The Stones ‘Satisfaction’ was clearly about getting laid, The Beatles “I want to Hold Your Hand’ was clearly about holding hands period. Hand holding was safe for girls. The Stones were never innocent & many of their songs were clearly misogynistic i.e. ’Under My Thumb’ or were calls to violence ‘Street Fighting Man’ – these were the proper role models for real boys – real boys wanted more than holding hands. They wanted action, or revenge. Never mind the fact that by the time they recorded ‘Street Fighting Man’ they were millionaires not revolutionaries.

So how did this resonate in my life at the time? The sneering misogyny & objectification of girls (rarely were they women until they got to the Honky Tonk) was masculinity defined. I felt I would never be masculine enough, aggressive enough, daring enough to live in the reality of their songs. They sold a myth that I saw as reality – much like the Hollywood fantasy that the love of the right person would give you reason to live.

I don’t even think I found the Stones sexually attractive – even then there were rumours that Mick was a bit bi – I had a buddy who said he’d have sex with Jagger but, to be honest, I found Jagger to be too lizard like for me. Speaking of lizards I my first pop jo sex fantasy was the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, then Foxy Jimi Hendrix, but I digress.

I’ve blogged about growing up with out any real role models in a culture that had distorted sense of gender that I ended up with my own distorted sense of masculinity. Pop music of the time merely echoed that that distortion – real men were Born to Be Wild whereas faggots like me could only dream about it.

Rolling

 

Stones 

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Paywall

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Would you pay for FaceBook? How much would you pay to be ‘verified’ on Twitter, or to even use twitter? Would to pay not to have ads on yahoo, tumblr – your television? Whatever happened to MySpace – (according to internet it ‘has mostly transitioned away from social networking to become a curated music and entertainment site.’)

Most publishers require that their authors have an online media presence – a webpage, now of course, one must also have twitter, instagram, tictok, tumblr, WordPress, Facebook & be an influencer. All at your own expense. Of course maintaining all that connectedness leaves little, or no time, for actually writing anything. You also have to have verified followers – the more the better.

All of these media traps were intended to give the writer a way to promote their work – to make the public aware of them – you know the most frequent followers I get on twitter are other indie writers looking to promote their work – not followers who want to discover anything about me or want to explore my work. One thing wordpress doe sis show me where my ‘clicks’ come from – I don’t think I’ve ever had one from twitter – even for posts of mine that have been liked & even reposted. zip. 

I am glad that all of these sites do allow me to ‘curate’ who I follow & who follows me – I am fast to block followers who are clearly spammers or who don’t interest me. Annually I go through various lists of followers & who I follow & remove people (that is if they are people & not bots).

Most of these free sites aren’t actually free. Supposedly information based on each of your clicks is marketed to advertisers so they can target their products more successfully – never mind the fact that most people are more annoyed by ads than are clicking on them to shop. We click on Amazon or Esty etc to shop for what we want. Though one can now pay at many sites to have your post promoted to people the site feels would respond to it – whatever. At once time I used FB to promote events, there would be dozens if not hundreds ‘I’ll be there’ responses & if two them showed it would be a miracle. Same with events that I said ‘‘I’ll be there’.

How much would I pay for any of this, beyond what my provider charges to access the internet in the first place? Not much – though I have paid for some sites. My WP site had a business plan so I don’t have to worry about the photo archive. I do also have ‘subscriptions’ to a couple of gay men’s cruising sites as the free membership is severely limited. 

If I paid for anything, say, at Yahoo, it would be to be targeted by products I might actually use, not by this endless barrage of smart skirts, beachwear, strapy sandals, t-shirts covered with kittens, etc all for women. Where do I sign up for an endless barrage of men’s underwear, bulky snow boots or t-shirts covered with barbed wire. So much for the accuracy of algorithms that are selling my privacy. 

Would you pay for twitter? 

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A Million Reasons

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A day at a time I’m looking forward to the Stratford Festival’s 2023 season which will run from mid-April through October. It features four Shakespeare plays: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II and Love’s Labour’s Lost; two musicals, Rent and Monty Python’s Spamalot; along with Les Belles-Soeurs, A Wrinkle in Time, Frankenstein Revived, Wedding Band, Grand Magic, Casey and Diana and Women of the Fur Trade. Click Casts for info about the productions.

We’ll probably being booking tickets to see King Lear, Spamalot, Les Belles-Soeurs (with an amazing cast including Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Diana Leblanc plus a million trading stamps), & Frankenstein Revived (a new dramatic movement piece). Probably either of the comedies. Richard is being modernized into the 70’s & frankly after the ill-conceived modernization of Hamlet last season I’m not interested.  Grand Magic has some appeal – it’s hard to resist Italian comedies about resort magicians.

I have vague memories of seeing Les Belles-Soeurs what back in the late 70’s but I can’t see if was here in Toronto or while I was living in Cape Breton. I recall Jane Eastman as one of the sisters. Sisters! Right – an echo of King Lear – a play about sisters, betrayal & revenge – pretty much the plot of Soeurs. I guess it’s all relative.

(photos from scenic route to Stratford)

Won’t be booking tickets until the new year once the festive gifting damage has taken its toll. There’s also the matter of physical condition. As one gets older driving for more than two hours can be draining – now that the return trip now clocks in at 4 hours I have to consider – is it worth it or should we wait for the dvd release of these productions? 

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The Paranoid Blues

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I’ve gotten my annual flu shot. I know I’m playing into the hands of the big pharma conspiracy to keep getting bigger – after all they made the myth of covid into hugely profitable reality. I’ll get the next covid booster too. I’ll also apply for the dental cost supplement – playing into the hands of the dental conspiracy that tells me good teeth are a good idea.

I wear a mask on TTC, when shopping, when going to the theatre because I’m one of those gutless guys unwilling to take a chance when no one else is taking a chance. I’m okay if that mask mandate comes back based on the figures I’ve seen.

What figures you ask? Well, to be honest I haven’t seen any – they are nearly impossible to find – at least for Toronto. The fact that some hospitals have seen an alarming increase in cases is enough for me. Gone are the days when got regular media reports on such matter – the info didn’t find the right advertisers. It wasn’t bringing in enough money except for big pharma & they are being quiet about their profits. 

Even new variations are old news now. People seem to have become inured to threat, risk, precautions. ‘We’ll have a shot for that soon’ is the attitude, so meanwhile don’t get annoyed if I happen to cough in your direction’ My response, ‘don’t get annoyed if I don’t want to shake your hand or give even a little hug.’ I’ve got better things to do than take a home covid test just to be sure.

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Election Fever

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Election fever runs high in Toronto – ha. I’m one of those who votes as soon as the advance polls open. I look at the lists of candidates I can mark an X for & only recognize those currently already holding an office. I look over a list of candidates running in other districts & am gratified at the diversity of names but none of them are familiar to me (not that they would be, right).

As far as I know I’ve received no flyers from any of the mayoral candidates. There have been no advertised ‘meet the candidates’ events – no glad handing at major Danforth intersections – no house-to-house campaigners (to whom I can complain to about the lack of lighting around the on-going Greenwood Station ‘upgrades’).

Oops we did get a visit by representatives of one, to put up lawn signs. They didn’t ask if there any local issues of concern to me. The one ward representative flyer that was shoved in our mailbox, sometime after 10 pm, was for someone whose top priorities were housing, business recovery, safety – when I flipped it over, there was a rant about the TTC infringing on a copyright! A conspiracy of false evidence & more. 

I’m sure glad I couldn’t vote for them. I say couldn’t, because, I’m in Ward 29 – Toronto/Danforth; this candidate in running in Ward 14 – Parkdale/High Park. Though, on second thought, they probably would have made our city politics a little more interesting lol.

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Halloween 2022

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Walking the side streets in east end Toronto I see that Halloween decor is getting as popular as Christmas decorating. Houses with strings or orange lights, some with illuminated spiders, ghosts or skulls , plus the growing variations of inflatables. Giant grinning cats with heads that rotate back-and-forth. Shelves of candy – now mostly little chocolate bars – at Shoppers, WalMart & supermarkets. 

As a youngster in Sydney, Cape Breton the only decoration one might see was carved pumpkins with candles inside. We used pillowcases to go door-to-door for trick-or-treating. The candy was usually those toffy/taffy kisses, apples or oranges, & if you were lucky small bags of chips. Sometimes a small bag of unshelled peanuts. Those little chocolate bars hadn’t been invented then lol. Now one has to provide bars that have no nuts! I guess soon we’ll have to find some sort of sugar-free chocolate bar too, or ones with no trans fats. Sorry, but I’ll leave the sorting of treats to parents.

Store bought costumes – cowboys, pirates etc. Or something homemade – old sheets reprised as ghosts, your Dad’s oversized sports coat sort of things. Rarely a superhero & nothing that lit up with led’s. Costumes to school if Halloween fell on a school night. It was an innocent time. At that age I had no awareness of the pagan roots of event. I later discovered it was one of the few ‘old religion’ holidays that the Church couldn’t erase turn into their own – they did try with All Saints Day but well, we don’t see illuminated Saints on peoples front lawns. A giant inflatable St. Teresa hovering in the air would be fun though.

In the past decade, here in Toronto, the decorating for the event has gotten bigger & more macabre – severed hands, feet, heads suspended from trees, skeletons hanging on front porches, zombi arms digging themselves out of the ground. Bats, spiders, plastic skeletons of dogs, owls, dinosaurs even spiders (which have no skeletons). It is easy to guess which house has children by the number of doll limbs dangling in the trees.

Halloween 2021:

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No Contest

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It’s no secret that I enjoy competitive cooking shows, mainly on Food – things like Chopped, Top Chef & their endless array of Halloween variations: cakes, cookies, giant cake sculptures & even one devoted to pumpkin carving. Sometimes the hosts & even judges, have a cooking background & one often sees competitors in one season show up on a different show the following season. 

But wait there’s more! I also enjoy LegoMasters – US & Australia, Domino Masters, Project Runway, A Cut Above – shows where a different set of skills come into play. The first two are disguised ads for products but I’m not inclined to start building or toppling anytime soon. But the engineering of the builds is amazing. A Cut Above is the quintessential Canadian competition for chainsaw carvers! Some of the results are astonishing.

The structure for most of these is similar – a round for some sort of skills demonstration & an elimination challenge. All time limited & the winner of that first round often gets an advantage in the second – either more time or choice of ingredient, log, pumpkin. Luckily none of them makes me want to eat, buy a chainsaw or design evening wear using the contents of a dumpster.

Most of them rely on the personality of contestants to hold our interest. Top Chef & Project Runway were pioneers in diversity & have always had lgbtq competitors. Plus cultural diversity. Project Runway does suffer from edited cast interaction for drama though.

Some I have to confess I often fast forward through – as I get bored with ‘oh no my sauce broken’ ‘I can’t get this zipper in’ are so frequent I no longer care. I just want to see the reveal & the judging. Everyone is a good loser – ‘I’ve learned so much & am grateful etc.’ Sure – learning how to cook steak in twenty minutes in front of cameras is a useful skill. I’d love to see a contestant say ‘you assholes got it wrong’ but then again the shows are so heavily edited if someone did call out the judges we’d probably never see it. I’m looking at you RuPaul.

Competitions I’m waiting for: food plating: who cares how it tastes, as long as it looks good on the plate. Halloween costumes are due for their own show. Maybe it’s time to make Monty Pythons’s Summarizing Proust a reality.

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Stratford Day Trips

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My day trips to Stratford always start the night before by getting my fluids ready – a travel mug with my personal mix of cranberry juice, coffee, & water – for drinking on the way there. For the drive home – A water bottle that is about 1/3 cranberry juice & the rest is water – plus a couple of snacks: a granola bar & a banana. I pick out a cd to listen to in the car – something that’ll amuse me & my partner. Last trip it was a compilation of Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald etc. 

motorcycles that buzzed beside us for an hour or so on the highway – like a pair of affectionate puppies

Before we leave in the morning around 9 a.m. I’ve already had breakfast, checked my email, meditated some, showered. We’ve taken the same route for decades – up the DonValley into the 401. Some days there are so many big rigs we can’t see the overhead signs :-(. Around 10:20 I’ll start in on my travel mug special. 

For the last many years that has been a constant expansion of the 401 so traffic often gets funnelled into fewer lanes & there is always a bottle neck just past the airport, & another one as we approach Kitchener/Waterloo. We make our first stop at a Tim Ho’s by the Conestoga Doon Campus – ballers are ready to be emptied to make room for Tim’s. I like their RedEye.

We take the New Dundee Road from there turning to a country road that takes us through Haysville, to another road through Shakespeare – where we stop at the Shakespeare Pie Shoppe for – pies! they made great seasons fruit pies & also excellent meat pies. Next stop lunch Stratford. We usually arrived by 11:30.

Most often we lunch at Features – good, unspectacular, reasonably priced food. Bacon & eggs are my go to there. This past year they changed location by a couple of blocks to bigger, brighter space. Once a season we go to Bentley’s. They do a great grilled cheese. 

If there’s time a stroll & a visit to the remaining bookstore before re-parking near the theatre of the day. Usually a visit to the gift shop, where, to be supported, I often force myself to buy a t-shirt lol. The drive home is usually twice as long for the same distance 😦 Traffic getting to Toronto is terrible. Made worse by big rigs that block overhead sign. That’s when the cd of the day does its soothing work. 

I usually take lots of photos with my camera & also cell pics to send to friends. They always envy the Pie shop shots. 

tarts galore at The Shakespeare Pie Shop

We’re already planning our shows for the Stratford 2023 season. Spamalot for sure, Richard II – a Shakespeare I’ve never seen, at least one of the other  Shakespeare & maybe Frankenstein. I feel a tingle in my bolts just thinking about it:-) 

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a short piece inspired by Haysville

The Petition

We had driven through Haysville many times on our way to Stratford. It was one of those small towns with little for tourists to do except maybe stop at the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. There wasn’t even a service-station with a Tim Horton’s.

The village became a bit of a joke because of the  ‘Children of Haysville’ sign on the edge of town: 

In the years we’ve driven through we’d never seen a child, or an adult for that matter. Never seen anyone go in or out of the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. The only car we ever saw in either direction was our own. Once I did notice some clothes drying on the line. All white, gently undulating in the afternoon sun.

We joked that if we stopped we’d never leave. We always stuck to the child-suggested speed limit then floored it when we got past the village limits.

This time there were yellow plastic streamers wrapped around the trees on either side of the road. We drove slower than usual.

Stapled to a plywood board tied to one 

of the trees by the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant was a large piece of paper. 

We stopped and got out of the car to see what it was.

It was a petition to halt an expansion of the highway to allow for larger trucks. A widening to extend the road on either side that would result in destroying the many hundred-year-old trees which had been marked with yellow.

We signed the petition. The Happy Pie Shop was closed for the day, so we got back in our car. 

The car wouldn’t start.

Mabon Harvestfest

A few months ago I came across a site Ye Old Rock Shop that offered, amongst other goodies, spell advent calendars. 24 days of spells that you do a day at a time. The kit includes the various crystals, herbs, candles, verses to do each of the daily spells. All are simple & other than the bath/shower ritual, take less than five minutes to do. I started the kit so that the last one would be on Mabon. I did changed the sequence so that the bath ritual would be the final one as my Mabon ritual cleansing.

Mabon is the Fall Equinox, bye-bye summer. I adapted a ritual from Llewellyn’s Mabon book. I added into my mix a loaf of bread I had a friend make that included fresh herbs from my garden – delicious bread. After sunset I crumbled some of the bread & scattered in the directions around my house. 

struck by lightening

On Saturday, Sept 24, I took in, with my bread-baking friend, Toronto Pagan Pride Harvestfest, held at Dufferin Grove Park – day of workshops, rituals, performances & of course, a market with vendors that were actually in sync with the occasion. The Fest fell nicely between Mabon & the new moon on the 25th.

heart of the matter

The weather was perfect. After a few cool days I was happy to swear shorts. Transit was uncomplicated – no unexpected shutdowns. Though the number of masked continues to drop. After a stop at Tim Ho’s we walked down to the Park, arriving around 11 a.m. The market was smaller than I expected but the quality of goods & vibes from the ‘retailers’ were welcoming. 

altar decoration

So welcoming I actually made a few purchases. Some lighting-struck oak bark! From Crown and Crescent . A spectacular green fluorite heart from Witch Plz . I loved the tiger eye pendants but I can’t wear jewelry 😦 I was hoping for more of a sabbath presence with Samhain approaching. But that’s a quibble. Overall I was happy to have taken it in, joined their Facebook Group  for other events. So mote it be.

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy crystals
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