Friday, July 31, 2009

Be bad with me, Mr. Cera

The kids are better than alright. In fact, the latest prototype for a sixteen-year-old boy is fiercely intellectual. He is quick-witted, culturally advanced, and has an overdeveloped sense of self. This is, apparently, the   Youth In Revolt.

Every revolution needs a leader, or so the film poster reads. The army of miniature misfits that has taken over North American silver screens as of late is most certainly led by   Mr. Michael Cera. The 21-year-old first made awkward adorable as George-Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, before briefly becoming (super)bad, impregnating an anti-teen queen, and writing an infinite playlist. Cera plays up his underdog attitude, but always ends up coming off cool, in a very everything-underrated-is-hip way. Move over Shia Labeouf, this is the man of the millennial moment.

Permanently pubescent, this fall Cera will star as another bright eyed, sex-crazed sixteen-year-old when he fills the role of Nick Twisp in Youth In Revolt. An un-finished cut of the film, which will be released on October 30, 2009, was shown last night at the Royal. The film is standard Cera fare: heartwarming, charming, and a little druggy. An adaptation of a   C.D. Payne novel, Youth In Revolt is the story of Twisp trying by any means necessary to loose his virginity to the intellectually over-stimulating girl of his dreams.

It’s another reference heavy Diablo Codified screenplay, giving nods to the  French youth movement from which the novel got its name. Each scene is filled with pieces of pop culture and the dialogue delivers an eating analysis each plot development as it unfolds. Basically, we left the theatre feeling like we were once the stupidest teenagers, ever.

But that feeling was soon drowned in bottles of wine at the Lakeview diner on Dundas, where the waitress promptly informed us she’d recently served Cera, who has been in-and-out of town filming  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It turns out he’s very, very short, which made me feel a bit better. After dinner and a bottle-for-one I ended up falling asleep on a couch and waking up to a note scribbled onto a napkin. 

For one moment I thought to myself: teens in their twenties can revolt, too. Right?

No, too tired. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Brit’s guide to Twitter

To tweet or not to tweet is not the question. It’s how we tweet, why we tweet, and who we tweet to that’s causing all the fuss.   Mayor Miller uses the service to talk to Torontonians,   Lisa Tant tweets about shoes and photo shoots, and   Douglas Coupland describes the dangers of Diet Coke, all in 140 characters, or less.

American Twitter-users however, aren’t as quite as tactful as conservative Canadian tweeters. Landlords in the states are suing   tweeting-tenants, Lindsay Lohan is posting   topless Tweet-Pics, and   Courtney Love is loosing the little grip she had on reality, tweet-by-tweet. 

Lucky for the Americans, the Brits are able to suggest the best practice of practically everything, Twitter included. On Tuesday, the British government announced it will allow civil servants to tweet, but only under new guidelines.

Some top picks from the 20-page how-to include:

Tweets should be “human and credible”

(Like those from  Ashton Kutcher, king of credibility)

Tweets must be written in “informal spoken English”

(See slurring sweetheart  Courtney Love)

Produce between two and 10 tweets a day, with minimal 30 minute gaps in between

(Unless your followers want updates on your every move, like   Lauren’s)

Tweeting, reading, and replying should take up no more than one hour per day

(Dine.To editor  Marie Nicola must spend twice this daily on Twitter)

While the rules are intended for the more media-friendly ministers who choose to tech-talk, it’s time someone outlines the necessary etiquette for Twitter. The mainstream media’s love affair with Twitter has been going on so long even your illiterate uncle Allen knows about the site. But because most of its users are too self absorbed to be outwardly reflective, it took the British bigwigs (who enjoy projecting their self absorption onto others) to develop a guideline.

Now that the world’s biggest bureaucrats have joined the Twitteratti it is only a matter of time before the early adapters will start jumping ship. Until then, or until Apple introduce some sort of smart-mini-micro-blogging-touch-deck service, please follow the Brits' lead, tweeters. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This story starts in the center of a city.

It's about four young men greedy for adventure.
Too much adventure, it has been said.
They were given directions,
and then took off,
hoping to get lost,
in the art and infrastructure,
of one city hidden underneath another.
They waded through waters,
found an abandoned tunnel,
and were never heard from again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Orders up

I want whatever blood all the Americans just drank. Order me a pint: Tru Blood. I want to date a vampire, bed them; be feasted on. I want to become a vampire myself, live for close-to-forever with an eternal wine-tooth grin. I want stay undead and see how vampires fight off global warming, werewolves, and South Korean warfare. Please, True Blood, take a bite out of me.

Last night, on the season’s third episode, True Blood took a bigger bite than ever. A war is about to erupt, everyone is about to be sacrificed, and the sex scenes are more disgusting and delightful than ever. Even the humans on True Blood seem to have powers, although if often the ability to consistently get laid: in an all-too-spoofable scene of soft core Jason and the preacher’s wife got it on inside god’s house.

When not busy with adultery, the Aryan-race Christians were upping the ante in the impending war, acting as old world terrorists and plotting to kill a vampire on a cross, Jesus of Nazareth style. Other lessons learned from Christians this week: lying is revealed to be a divorce-warranting sin, though adultery can be committed upon a change-of-heart (especially if it’s God commanding you to do, well…you know). Also, the use of the word “cunt” is up high on the sin list, though nowhere near homosexual vampire intercourse.

The night’s commercials are sped through towards the next story-line revelation, thanks to the benefits of PVR. The network should get rid of commercials all together, given the number of product placements the show’s obviously banking on. On the way to the evening’s sacrificial orgy Eggs gets a strange desire to drive towards a coke ad, before the he and Tara mention a hunger not for blood, but Reese’s Pieces.

Loud beats lead Eggs and Tara towards the best drum-and-sex circle this side of Folk Fest, where they quickly get into position (doggy-style). Drum music only leads to bad things, we’re told, before the spellbound naked hippies are revealed, fucking in unison around Maryann, who has the apparent power to turn into a strobe light.

Meanwhile, Andy is chasing a shape-shifting pig, which is actually Daphne leading Sam towards the sexual-stoning death orgy. With a bull mask on his head Sam is summoned towards death, and as it’s all about to happen, the episode cuts out. Of course.

Like always, they leave you fanging on until next Sunday. In the meantime   read up on the revelations made by the stars of True Blood at the weekend’s Comic-Con conferences. Best of all? By the time Evan Rachel Wood shows up to guest star as  Vampire queen of Lousiana, Sophie-Anne, HBO is planning to have a human-friendly breed of Tru Blood pop on store shelves.

Finally, I’ll get a glass.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A double date disguise

A double birthday calls for a bigger bash than a singular celebration. And so, in honour of the aging of two party-professionals, Wrongbar is holding a Midnight-Masquerade. On Saturday August 15, hipsters and hanger-oners will dress in disguise. For a personal preview of acceptable attire the birthday boy-and-girl, Miss Isis Salam and Mr. Marc Andrew Smith, have been illustrated on the invitation (above).

A party promoter, PR practitioner, and alternative model, Smith is as boy-about-town as it gets. Though he’s played Macaulay under Mr. Peter Gatien, the man’s no party monster. A former hardcore kid from Saskatchewan, Smith is straight edge. What happens around him, however, tends to be complete debauchery.

Salam’s crowd can’t claim innocence, either (namely this wri ter, having been caught by concert-cameras). Fearless front-woman of elecro-rap act Thunderheist, Salam’s tendency to gyrate her hips, jump into crowds, and throw the occasional punch causes audiences to erupt into sweaty dance pits. And amid the madness of Thurderheist’s extra-loud live show is a reliable cast of party-blog characters who mingle in club corners and wait for the cameras to flash.

To capture their own masquerade-moments, Smith and Salam have enlisted Mr. Brandon Sprouse to conduct his smile-and-pose routine. As for entertainment, Violca of the playboy-pop duo Mansion will be spinning, along with performances by Syntonics, Alixander3, Paul Revered, and Wrongbar-regular Nasty Nav.

Event listing is here, for those interested in dancing in disguise.

Yours truly,

Tuxedo Mask

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Whatever it was melted in the rain

They were there for the liquor. Face turned away from what was on display, he tapped his beer bottle, shook his head, and explained that as long as a sponsor is buying drinks, the crowd will come.

The pinned-up pages on display were not masquerading as art, were neither a comment nor a question. Once hung on the wall, whatever moments the photos once trapped were turned into a blank canvas on which the light-headed youth decided not to draw.

The irony in the room seemed omnipresent and simultaneously over: no one cared, way too much. Dana Goldstein’s photos looked no different from Jamie Taete’s. Both were purposefully amateur, different only contextually from the photos the guests snapped. The evening seemed as though it would amount to only a photograph of a photograph. Then the cops came, the bar ran dry, and the sky started to pour.

We left the gallery space in search of nothing. In the parking lot across the street we pieced together a make shift furniture set, then sat and waited. When the rain became unbearable we raised a dry piece of plywood and hid underneath. Surrounded by soaked cement we sprinted towards the closest cab and made our way to destination number two. There, it ended with us in the dark, dancing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Walking with the wigs of a ghost

There is Life After God, he wrote. And so, there is life after literature. The same themes that filled the artist’s novel pages are captured on canvas, strewn on the floor, and carved onto toy blocks. Douglas Coupland is Canada’s renaissance man, and this is his latest pet project.

In town to work on a set of sculptures for Concord Cityplace Park, which is reportedly the country’s largest privately funded public art commission ever, Coupland played artist-in-attendance on June 18 for the opening of his latest show, Atelier, at Toronto’s Clark and Faria gallery.

After working as a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, actor, and general pop culture critic, artist and designer is a logical next step. Given both the fame and notoriety associated with his body of work, Coupland is poised to become one of the few brand names in Canadian art.

Weeks after the opening I enter the pseudo-studio concept, Atelier. Carefully scattered on the floor and propped up against the gallery’s stark white walls is a collection of odd items. Game boards, papers, a mass-produced spic n’ span box, and an abandoned 7 UP sign have been littered below the pieces to give the impression of a work space.

On the walls Coupland plays patronage to his most blatant predecessor and inspiration, Warhol, with two groups of work. One is titled Matricide, another Patricide. Eight Marilyns pout at visitors, covered by skateboard stickers, brand names, and decorative decals; Matricide. Eight Warhol-wigs are pressed under glass on the opposing side of the room; Patricide.

Bill Gates yearbook shots watch over a table of vibrant, childish sculptures. Talking Sticks, a square-space city of sentences reading: Monsters Exist, Teen Spirit, Hot Shit. Out front gallerist Daniel Faria watches visitors ponder the pieces, shoulders pulled back with pride and covered by a well-pressed shirt. As the red stickers reveal, his show is a success. All but one of the Marilyns are sold, safe for she who is not painted platinum.

“I guess you make Marilyn a brunette, and no one wants her,” my accomplice whispers to me through corner-cracked lips before we slip out the gallery doors.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A gentleman caller

There are certain things a gentleman simply does not do. A gentleman does not adjust his crotch in public. If he does not see an ashtray, he does not smoke. And, in the workout room, a gentleman does not hog the weights.

Of course, there are other things a gentleman does indeed do. He uses a coaster. He refills any ice tray he uses, keeps an umbrella in his car, and realizes condoms are his responsibility. A gentleman reads a daily newspaper, preferably the New York Times, at least three times a week. And if there is no polish involved, a gentleman occasionally has a manicure.

There comes a time in every man’s life when his mother isn’t around anymore, writes American editor John Bridges. This is where his book comes in. How To Be A Gentleman is, as Bridges writes, A contemporary guide to common courtesy. Though he instructs his readers on best practice when it comes to such new world technologies as e-mail, Bridges writes from a world where gentlemen still rule. Here, “please” and “thank you” are the magic words, the simplest statements are the most eloquent, “casual” varies with the season, and an open fly never requires an apology.

Bridges guides his reader through elegant dinner parties, trips on airplanes, weddings, and evenings at the theatre. He handles even the trickiest of situations, such as how to deal with non-drinkers and serving dinner to vegetarians.

His aim is to inform the reader he too can become the type of man who does not brag, whine, or make idle threats. The type who knows to keep an apology simple, refuses to hold a grudge, and understands a social kiss is not an erotic experience. Over one hundred and fifty neatly spaced pages, Bridge teaches the essentials: how to make a toast, when to take a gift, and how to say, “I’m sorry.” And if a man is to stay a gentleman, he’s got to follow Bridges’ rules.

Some rules are sartorial. A gentleman never wears a tuxedo before six o’clock, no matter what anyone else does. He ties his own tie (especially if it is a bow tie, and especially if it is black), never wears belts when he is wearing suspenders, and colours his hair under no circumstances. When a gentleman feels the urge to colour his moustache, he shaves his moustache off.

The rules are written with the type of subtle, sensible humour a gentleman might use. For instance, Bridges writes that when a gentleman outgrows his clothes, he gives them away to charity. He does not pretend that someday he will loose weight. When, and if, he does lose weight, he certainly will not want to celebrate by wearing out of date clothes.

Other rules dictate table manners. A gentleman never crunches on his ice cubes, except in the privacy of his home. If he is on a diet, he does not talk about it at the table. He never salts his food before tasting it, for he would never insult the cook in that way. And, Bridges writes, a gentleman does not attempt to change the opinions of his dinner companions. A seated dinner is not a debate tournament.

A gentleman never claims to have seen a movie he has not seen or to have read a book about which he has only read reviews. A gentleman may not be able to dance a samba, but he should e capable of a fox-trot, which is almost like not dancing at all. In matters of politics or religion, a gentleman does not assume that everyone believes what he believes. And unless he is teaching an English class, a gentleman does not correct another person’s grammar.

But, no matter how well he polishes perfection, the gentleman’s goal is to make life easier for others, or so I have inferred. With that, may Bridges and I leave you with a single, underlying rule: A gentleman never gets so big that he can feel free to say or do things that make other people feel small.

*Obviously, or perhaps not, many sentences in this blog have been directly lifted from Mr. Bridges' book for the sake of cohesion and maintaining meaning.
Not in those pecks

Bruno is overblown. Tucked behind a sandy surfer blond wig, Sacha Baron Cohen's face is everywhere. It's in magazines, on television, and all over the internet. And upon first glance, I thought he'd gotten an age-old marker of celebrity: his very own got milk? ad. 

Then, upon a closer inspection, I realized the latest got milk? ad wasn't an insider corporate spoof promoting both milk and a movie. It's just another healthy-boned athlete. Snooze. Sure, my confusion can be praised as a sign the 15 minutes American got gay are finally coming to an end. But while a Bruno-based got milk? ad would have signaled cultural stupidity, one featuring Dara Torres is simple bad business.

The got milk? brand was outdated enough before dragging viewers back eleven months to a time when Michael Jackson was alive, George Bush was president, and Whitney Port still lived in the Hills. Now, its asking Americans to remember why they very briefly loved Torres and is expecting placing her in a sea of water will make consumers want to drink milk. 

Even the heftiest of Olympians are only bankable spokespeople for a short period of time, before we go back to not caring about swimmers, weight-lifters, and badminton players. Sure, Dara Torres defeated all odds by qualifying at the again of 41,  again. But almost a year has gone by since her yawn-inducing second place swim-win. 

She disappeared into the pool of public adoration, sinking while Michael Phelps swam. But even Phelps turned out to be a  big douche, though a minor hit with the  stoner segment of Subway customers. Don't advertisers get it? No one loves an Olympian. 

I never thought I'd say it, but when faced with the option of boyish bikini-clad Olympians, I want Bruno back. 

Sorry Dara, just swim away.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mr. Keith, meet Mr. Martin
photo by Jordan Chu

In my family, dinner means an agreeable location and four oversized entrees. My sister eats directly from my plate, which I rarely finish, and my mother sends back her dish with complaints to the chef. The entire ordeal lasts about an hour. 

In the Chu family, dinner is much more grandeur. There are countless courses, spinning table-tops, and an unlimited selection of liquor. Thirty-odd guests attended the graduation celebration of Mr. Jordan Chu, held in the banquet room of an uptown restaurant. Two tables hosted family, another grads, and a fourth was reserved for miscellaneous friends. 

There, I was treated to Korean vodka, Canadian beer, and constantly rotating culinary offerings. I learned never to assist the wait staff from your table seat, only to pour tea for others (never yourself), and an apparently ancient rule: when an elder pours you a drink, you must finish it. To that, I happily complied, as did the adorable blonde across the table, who I kept sneaking booze to after friends insisted she be cut off. 

I left with a stuffed stomach, and awoke still feeling full, which was likely better than how the blonde felt.

For that, thank you, Mr. Chu. 

(Also, Jordan Chu)

(Just me, sorry!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One more point for Winnipeg. Thanks,  Miss Waller

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three musketeers, one model
Photo: property of Facebook

One of these three will become the next Coco Rocha, or so goes the plot. The winner of the current season of Canada's Next Top Model will be crowned during prime time tomorrow night. She wins an admittedly ambitious title, given the lackluster track record of Tyra Bank's spawn of American Top Models. Still, the associated fame will get contestants into go-sees, which is an un-televised chance to prove they can wear clothes as well as Jessica Stam and Shalom Harlow. 

Finalist Nikita Kiceluk, posted these shots of the three finalists together in Toronto on her Facebook page. The girls look happy, but lets be honest: this will end in tears. 

Until tomorrow, enjoy those mascara-free cover girl cheeks. 

The boys are back in town 

HBO has a hard-on. Summer’s Sunday nights have never been sexier. The only media player not reliant on reality or re-runs is instead seducing viewers with money, vampires, and more mind-blowing sex.

First, the American public continues to come out of its coffin. The people want to be sucked dry, and that’s what has been arranged.  True Blood kicks off the evening, and unlike its most recent teen-vamp contemporary, True Blood’s sheets are soaked in the sexiest blood ever. During last night’s episode a Milf cast a spell on a party, causing sex, dancing, and an erotic, violent birthday cake fight. The guests fuck, punch faces, eat dirt. Plus, there’s a new virginal redhead vamp, and a Fang Bang Porno.

Next,  Entourage is back to ejaculate on the recession’s face, and the view from the top of the corporate ladder is exquisite. In Mark Whalberg’s world, seventy-one thousand dollar bottle bottles arrive from deep-pocketed clients and everyone gets laid. Chubby, nerdy, and aging men score along side the show’s picture-perfect film star. The sex is just like last season, but it still feels good.

Happiness is great sex. Great sex, in multiple positions, exactly how you like it. And happiness is big. That’s the premise of  Hung, a new show following a well-endowed protagonist. It another drama-induced comedy about an illegal occupation (see: Sopranos, Weeds), this time about a divorced alpha male selling his body. Like his client’s bank accounts, Ray Drecker is apparently massive. Also, like Hung’s main character, the show could work on its foreplay. But TV writers, like mortal men, can learn over over time.

After three hours of Sunday night television, I woke up this morning with a smug smile, still feeling satisfied. HBO, is a good pimp.

*No, this post is not an advertisement. This is simply how happy I am that there is a July pop culture invasion not mentioning the names "Heidi" or "Spencer". MTV, eat your fucking heart out. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Going back to the farms, open arms

One hundred and sixty two acres of escape sit in one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods. The streets surrounding Riverdale Farm are lined with preserved Victorian homes, but only a few blocks away the city gives way to dense high rises, incessant traffic, and thick smog. We walk away from everything urban and slip into a place that once was. On a plot of too-green grass we pull out a picnic, complete with celebratory birthday cake. Then, we wander out of the park, and into the farm.

Sheep, chickens, cows, donkeys, and goats came to greet us. The hippos, elephants, and lions left empty cages down below the farm, where remnants of the old Toronto Zoo still stand. We peered into the "jail farm" of tiny barred cages, which was opened in 1880 and operated for almost a century until it was replaced by the modern zoo in 1974. Moss and trees have now overgrown the small site, which is lightly littered with cigarette butts and empty cans left behind by the animals who now inhabit the city's parks at night. 

As the afternoon grew into early evening we walked back to our city-sized apartments on top of concrete streets. When night took over the sky we listened to hip hop outside with the rest of the urbanites and sunk back into our metropolitan lives. We went to sleep to the sounds of the city, but rested assured that the farms are never too far away.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Rollin' with his homies
*photo unceremoniously stolen from  Facebook

This is the man who taught me about Modernity. His name is Jonathan Rollins, but the kids call him J-Roll. He teaches literature at Ryerson University in Toronto, and I was lucky enough to take his class,  Cultures of the Modern, on Modern and Post Modern writing. 

Dr. Rollins showed us picture-slides of architecture and art, told us about stories of expatriates in Paris, and explained how Dada means nothing (and that's its point). He read out loud from Hemingway, Don Delillo, and Fitzgerald as we hung onto every.single.word. With J-Roll as our guide, we leafed through Orlando and announced we were no longer afraid of Virginia Woolf. When we met up after class we made pomo jokes and talked about his exquisite young professor-ly style (the  tweed, we swooned).

My last encounter with J-Roll was during the final exam. Scribbling into a small stack of exam notebooks, a noise distracted me. The tip-tapping of shoes on the wooden gym floor grew louder as it approached. I was sitting in the back corner of the oversized examination room, and Dr. Rollins was walking towards me. My hand wasn't up. There were no hands up in front of me. What did he want, I wondered. I pretended to continue scribbling, the tip-tapping growing louder.

Finally, he approached my desk and leaned against it. He raised his eyebrows, tilted his head, smiled, and said, "That's a really nice sweater-vest." 

It was argyle: brown, white, and tan. Not unlike something he might wear. 

I smiled, my cheeks red. I thanked him, and told him the exam was going well. He nodded, smiled again, and tip-tapped away. When I finished he shook my hand as I tried to spit out something intelligible. I thought about telling him how great of a professor he was, requesting summer reading recommendations, or asking him to read my short fiction. But I just shook back and walked off campus. 

Fortunately, I'm not the only one who holds J-Roll in such high regard. This morning news arrived in my e-mail inbox that Ryerson is awarding Dr. Rollins with a 2009 Faculty Teaching Award. To celebrate, I hunted through Rate My Professors, Google, and Facebook for the best mentions of J-Roll the internet has to offer. 

I didn't have to look to far to find admiration, hilarity, and some serious stalker-potential. 


The singular comment on his U of T RateMyProfs page isn't quite complimentary, but Rollins has since moved to Ryerson where he makes the student body's heart beat  faster, faster

Looks aren't all that make a prof, but his haven't hurt

Rollins inspires the will to live

The longing for a mid-lecture hug was not uncommon

Students dreamed of a pomo-marriage to Dr. Rollins

It's hard not to feel the love

Even the male students admit, Dr. Rollins is easy on the eyes

Don't worry Paul, the only thing you lost is your heterosexuality

Rollins is frequently spotted with a halo on his head, a pomo metaphor come to life

When on sabbatical, Rollins is a secret ninja, kicking ass with... sweetness

J Roll spreads knowledge, much like Wikipedia, where you can find out about  Simulacrum

Dear Dr. Rollins: it's probably time for an off-campus gym membership

Unfortunately, J-Roll did not teach Agata spelling

Don't worry Carly, I'm sure he picked up on it. Hey, simulacrum!

Famed for a wonderful wardrobe, a change to less formal attire is enough to spark student sadness

Both?! Overhaul

A handshake from J Roll is like sex with the Pope

Oh, one last thing: Abe Anjakdar and Trevor Boyd started the J-Roll mayhem. 
So, ahem... appreciate.