Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Wonder Woman

Let me go on record and say I'm not down with Wonder Woman's new costume. I know Jim Lee designed it and all, but so much about Wonder Woman is her classic costume. She needs good new stories, not new outfits. Let's see how long this lasts.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The G20

The meeting of world leaders this weekend has left Toronto in a state of chaos. There was rioting, looting, police cars set on fire and many more civil disobediences. Democracy ain't a walk in the park, but anarchy is always so messy!
Some of the protests seemed a little misguided --more rants, really-- as did a fair number of protesters.
The exciting part was seeing the "beyond the Thunderdome" version of Toronto. The whole thing was right out of an action movie!
Here's an exclusive video from Saturday's (more peaceful) protest on College Street.

Meanwhile in the Hall of Justice, there was a lot of hand-shaking going on and very little action.
And the "Free World" feels progressively less free.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bitch Salad

The Pride edition of Bitch Salad, the all-female comedy show at Buddies at Bad Times, is growing in size and hilarity. This one was a celebratory edition, with partial proceeds going to the AIDS Committee of Toronto and Buddies. Even Kristen Johnston sent in a video response for winning a trophy. Beside her, usual mainstays Dini Dimako, Dana Alexander, Sara Hennessey and Nikki Payne were hilarious as usual.

The vignettes with male guests (including Degrassi-famed Adamo Ruggiero) fell completely flat. The show’s lineup is usually male-free, which is the main differential and draw of the show, at least for me. Bitch Salad should only contain bitches.

But the highlight of the evening was the Cheeto Girls (an unfortunate name for a talented troupe). Their performance was fresh, smart, entertaining and hilarious.

Here's their send-up to closet cases:

video

Sergio Mendes - Bom Tempo

Sergio Mendes owes a lot to the Black Eyed Peas for reviving his career. This is his third album in four years, and it repeats the formula that's been working pretty well for him lately: get old Brazilian music staples and dress them up with new productions and collaborations with "the new kids." No improvement on the classics here, but the remix CD of Bom Tempo has some great versions by the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Zap Mama, Nicola Conte and Moto Blanco.

Art outdoors

Three new notable art pieces are gracing the outdoors of Toronto this summer.
At the AGO, a list of words on the gallery's glass façade could be confused with an advertisement for an upcoming exhibit inside. But it’s a commission by American artist Barbara Kruger, famous for using cropped words and found images in her work.

Outside the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, celebrity-photographer-turned-serious-pop-artist David LaChapelle presents us with The Rape of Africa, a reproduction of his picture based on Botticelli’s Venus and Mars. Of course it's all done with a smirk, a wink and Naomi Campbell's nipple. Definitely eye-catching.

At the Sky Yard, the Drake Hotel's rooftop patio, there's new work from local artist Balint Zsako. His mural is quite extensive and its details (as well as meanings) keep multiplying, especially after a couple beers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New architecture

Here are some interesting new urban developments coming up soon in Toronto.

New St. Lawrence Market North Building

The odious and dark current warehouse will be replaced with these airy glass and wood towers. Due in 2014.

A new luxury 11-storey condo 12 degrees askew. Scheduled for 2012.

A park being built at the foot of Sherbourne Street with 200 trees, a pond, and access to the waterfront of Lake Ontario. To open this summer.

Kenk

A graphic novel about the Toronto "bike recycler" Igor Kenk who amassed almost 3,000 allegedly stolen bikes and was arrested in 2008 -- and released this year. The book, a documentary adapted for the comic page by a journalist, follows Kenk's convoluted life both in Slovenia and Canada. Is he an environmental hero or a prophet of doom? Brilliant genius or the worst villain in western hemisphere? Kenk is multi-faceted and his rants make for entertaining reading.

The art is very effective with the distressed, photocopier-quality of video stills suiting the story perfectly. A good journalistic documentary in comic book format with an intriguing subject.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Big River Man

This movie has to be seen to be believed. The story of Martin Strel, the Slovenian fish-man who swam the Amazon River and crossed into the fourth dimension. Director John Maringouin's style and faithfulness to his subject calls to mind a young Herzog. Winner of cinematography at Sundance last year.

The Juan MacLean

John MacLean came to the Wrongbar this weekend with a set to promote his new DJ-Kicks mix comp. His live set was in the same vein of the beat-centric released CD, but it could have benefitted from more vocal tracks -- instead, he preferred to abuse the basslines and the explosive crescendos to send the crowd into little fits. A slinkier (and "housier") set was delivered by the Nacho Lovers earlier in the evening.

Janelle Monáe - Archandroid


Talk about a concept album. Inspired by the movie Metropolis (also the title of her previous EP), Janelle created a James-Bond-in-space, multi-part sci-fi tale in the shape of an album that goes from classical to punk, r&b to country, experimental jazz-hop to straight funk, folk to unabashed pop. Sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does. And Janelle (who by the way is from Kansas City) apparently wants to have a video for each of the songs that together will make the story for a movie and a graphic novel. The future of music is multimedia. And female androids are all the rage these days.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seawater crocs

While hundreds of species face extinction, some are adapting at a scary new pace. Crocodiles have surfed thousands of miles in open sea to colonize islands in the Pacific and Indian Seas. This migration allows these crocodiles, the only salt-water species in the region, to mingle and mix with crocodiles native from the islands. Soon, we'll have to worry about more than just sharks when going to the beach.

Punch Buggy

The weekend brought rain and VW Bugs to Dundas Square. The event was Punch Buggy for the SickKids Foundation.
My favorites, as usual, are the VW vans, like the one I used to own.
And later in the day I ran into this one.

Micmacs

The methodical, magical and microdetailed mind of Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings us another surreal French tale, in line with his more famous movies. Micmacs is no Amélie, but it's weird, cute and crazy enough to qualify among his best.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Diana Ross

La Ross stepped into Roy Thompson Hall Monday night in a multitude of sparkling gowns and a 18-piece band for one of the few concerts she's doing this year. The More Today Than Yesterday Tour revisits her hits and gives Ms. Ross a chance to show off how she's still fabulous at 66.


After more than 50 years being a diva, she's everything you would expect and more. When she's on stage, you know you are in the presence of something special. She is all gracious smiles and friendly handshakes (apparently she softened with age) and her voice can still make you dance.


And then there were the costume changes.


She pulled gay boys from the audience on stage, sang "I Will Survive" and asked if we were too young for any of those songs, as if anyone is ever too young or too old for them. There were comments about her impersonal delivery and weak voice, but I couldn't disagree more. It has been said, Diana Ross still reigns supreme.


City Hall Garden

Toronto's City Hall has unveiled it's (not exactly) rooftop garden this week.


The landscaping is done mostly in sedum, with some catmint, chives and grass surrounding it. Simple but effective. The new benches and railings around the podium roof are made of Brazilian Ipê wood.

The garden is a great initiative and a chance to see the marble-incrusted façade of the 1965 building up close.

Ever noticed how the base of City Hall looks like the headquarters of the Legion of Doom?