Archive for May, 2012

Hollywood’s Adaptations; Starring Slighted Expectations, and Introducing (for neither the first, nor the final time) Disappointed Audiences

Hollywood’s run out of ideas; Battleship, a movie based on the popular Hasbro board game, was released on May 18th, 2012 (in the United States and Canada, rather) to almost universally abysmal reviews. Though some have offered the opinion that the critical failure of the Transformers series helped produce a slightly better film, the movie, based on a game played with two grids hidden from each other while players call out “Coordinates” to sink the eponymous battleships of their enemies, has been a relative flop. Granted, not in the box office, because it’s already broken its budget and will presumably do so for the coming weeks, though this is a minor and almost trivial point because I can’t go without mentioning that these days almost every big budget summer action flick is breaking its budget; Transformer: Dark of the Moon, for example (my deliciously scathing review) also broke its budget and I can safely say it was one of the worst movies ever created.

Back to the point at hand: Hollywood has almost definitely run out of ideas.

Adaptation after prequel after sequel after reboot after re-imagining, it feels like all Hollywood has been capable of doing for the past few years is releasing films based on already existing independent properties including old television shows (Star Trek, 21 Jump Street, Dark Shadows, Transformers), books (any Nicholas Sparks book, the entire Harry Potter series, any comic book that’s published by DC or Marvel and its subsidiaries), board games (this one is fairly recent, though I am excited to see what happens with this idea; Clue was a film worth seeing, though the game is far more complex than the average family affair), “true stories” that are often wholly fabricated to create better characters and a more enjoyable story (Hollywood loves true stories, and this is a fact), and old movies (I’m not even going to bother giving an example for this one; it should be fairly obvious to everyone involved).

The point, I suppose, is that Hollywood’s few original ideas are rarely so, and even the films that happen to win the most awards at festivals, and ceremonies are often based on recycled ideas. Granted, there’s a point where an idea exceeds its original purpose and transcends its being; to filmmakers, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are no longer wars, but symbols of generational change and evolution, social acclimatization, and cultural purification. Many films have even attempted to provide a human facades to the “Most evil men who have ever lived.”

It goes without mentioning that tropes, cliche’, parodies, and homages exist because the original source material is a fantastic source to derive from; the Greeks, Romans, Ancient Babylonians, and Italians created the world’s finest works of art that still manage to provide stories for writers to learn and create from. Of course, the English language’s greatest contributor died over 400 years ago and, to this day, the title hasn’t been taken from William Shakespeare, or given to someone else. The irony is that even his plays weren’t original ideas and most of his work was directly taken from Italian operas, Hungarian and Swedish dramas, Norse tragedies, Greek and Roman history, and a fabricated version of British history.

It’s a great bit of irony that the most important contributor to the English language (and literature as a whole) created fantastic stories from earlier works that had already been published; Shakespeare was little more than a thief with a gift for fabrication. An important point to note is that it’s rare for any individual to claim that Shakespeare stole his work; quite the contrary, Shakespeare, much like Hollywood writers today, used sources of literature to draw inspiration from. The sole difference being that, when Shakespeare wrote The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark based on the Scandinavian legend of Prince Amleth, he didn’t end up writing something as derisively awful as Battleship or (ironically enough) Charlton Heston’s 1970 adaptation of the original 1950 version of Julius Caesar.

For a moment, allow me to make my point incredibly clear: Shakespeare drew inspiration from other works and while some might argue that he “Stole,” it’s almost impossible to argue that he ruined any of the other works for future viewers. Shakespeare’s Hamlet didn’t ruin the legend of Prince Amleth, and his version of King Henry (though slightly inaccurate) did not tarnish the King’s name. Hollywood, on the other, has a tendency of making films that sully the name of the original source material; the 1970 version of Julius Caesar, Dark Shadows, Wanted, and Daredevil being fantastic examples.

It’s interesting that, even the worst film based on a rather interesting Independent Property has some level of interactivity between the original producers and the film’s writing staff. Some films, for example, are based on books that were published and aided by the film’s producers to make sure that a movie is as close to the original source material to insure that fans of the books enjoy the film and that the fans of the movie will enjoy the books and contribute to the original author’s welfare.

Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather, was aided by several members of Paramount Pictures’ writing staff tasked with the sole purpose of creating a fantastic book to be adapted to the silver screen. Fascinatingly, Puzo actually wrote the script for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, and provided input for the subsequent second and third parts.

In an event similar to The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick is based on a book by Arthur C. Clarke in the most literal sense; Clarke was writing the book as Kubrick was directing his film. The two were actually working together, creating a property based on a few of Clarke’s short stories with a greater plot being agreed upon by the two artists; the differences in canonical endings occurred due to their differing opinions on how they wanted their properties to proceed. Of course, these films are not terrible films, and interestingly, have been called some of the greatest films of all time by critics, moviegoers, cinephiles, and regular audience members.

Granted, there’s only so much an adaptation can do and if its based on source material that’s less than satisfactory (Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight is a remarkable example), it’s unsurprising if the film is also less than satisfactory (the The Twilight Saga is also a remarkable example). Of course, it’s undeniable that there are films that are based on fantastic sources that are also terrible, and its not uncommon for fans to claim that the movie didn’t work with the momentum of the original source.

While I wasn’t a particular fan of the Olympian Demigod series, the film doing poorly while based on solid source material was disappointing to many viewers; it wasn’t entirely surprising since the film was marketed to the same audience that enjoyed the magical school aspects of the Harry Potter franchise while the majority of the Olympian plot was less intricate than the film’s competition, but the disappointment was there regardless.

At this point, I must mention that Hollywood films based on preexisting properties are marketed to the audiences that enjoyed the aforementioned properties the most; comic book fans aren’t going to have the latest Nicholas Sparks novel sold to them, and fans of art house films aren’t going to have any of Michael Bay’s box office masterpieces marketed to them. The Avengers wasn’t marketed to the same audience that enjoyed Dear John or even The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but instead, to the audience that enjoyed Iron Man, Thor, The Incredibly Hulk, The Dark Knight, and other comic book movies. Had the film turned out to be terrible, fans of the original material would have more than enough right to raise complaint since a major promise was effectively broken.

I suppose therein lies a stunning detail: when a Hollywood adaptation promises something, and delivers something else, audiences have a right to raise complaint. Ultimately, when any Hollywood film promises something, and delivers something else (poorly, of course), any audience has the right to complain. It’s not that I went into Transformers: Dark of the Moon expecting anything other than what the film delivered; it’s that the Michael Bay feature delivered something so gratuitously awful, that I couldn’t help myself from raising my voice in annoyance and derision. Certainly, I’ve went into adaptations expecting a certain premise and being given something wildly contradictory and only I’ve enjoyed those films because they managed to do their job well; they were entertaining and interesting, and I was interested and entertained.

In essence, that’s the most important point; it’s not that Hollywood’s out of ideas (because it actually had very few ideas to begin with), it’s that Hollywood has somehow reached a point where pandering to the lowest common denominator has become the most acceptable point-of-view, and writing, special effects, acting, directing, editing, sound production, and genuinely entertaining qualities have been replaced with drivel. Not always, but often enough that it warrants opinion.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Finding Humility on a Brief Transit Journey; It’s Enough to Make Anyone Shut Their Mouths and Listen [With Help From the Unquantifiable Human Spirit]

There’s a moment between writing and editing an article, near the middle when I’m almost done penning down my ideas, that it occurs to how meaningless a particular idea or opinion might be. It’s often when I’m procrastinating and surfing Reddit, reading through stories of harrowing accomplishments and hardships, that it occurs to me how meaningless my opinion on a certain movie, or song, or even on the state of media really is. It’s a moment where I realize that, no matter what I might say, there is something else that is not only more fascinating, but also more important; an event of such tragedy, drama, and genuine interest that I often wonder where the importance in publishing an opinion piece on pop music and Taylor Swift really lies. To be perfectly honest, I’ll find myself asking whether or not a certain article will be successful, or whether my opinion could possibly matter in a literal sea filled with monstrous ideas and intellects that can, at any given moment, swamp and devour my own tiny iota of particulate.

It’s a moment that doesn’t last for very long, and once the sense of fleeting nihilism passes, I complete an article and publish it, promote it on certain social forums, and wait for my next idea to come to me (or in certain cases, for my next idea to jump into my arms).

However, it’s a powerful moment where I’m forced to consider the direction I’ve been taking, and the next directions I’ll be forced to take, and oftentimes I wonder whether another article about movies, television, philosophy, or psychology will ever be as monumental or meaningful as any of the other innumerable pieces crafted on poetry, society, literature, music, philosophy, or life. It doesn’t produce a feeling of worthlessness, certainly not, as my ego is more than capable of sustaining itself even in the most humble of times, but it produces just that: a feeling of humility and a childlike state of euphoria.

I recently spent a short bus ride talking to a girl (I say girl, but she was in fourth year university, though I do digress) who’s immune system shut down last year, in the wake of colitis; her anatomy continued to break down, resulting in arthritis, and an interesting case of irritable bowel syndrome. I’m not sure if it’s tactless to admit this, but as she was speaking, I found myself thinking that someone needed to tell everyone about her story. She had spent an entire year fighting off an inflamed colon that, at every given moment, was actively trying to kill her. She had been through unmentionable pain throughout the entire year, and had, through some form of humanity, refused to give in to the hurt. I admit, I doubt she’ll ever read this article, and I doubt I’ll see her again, but for a single moment, I found myself deeply humbled.

It’s not like she even made a big deal out of all of it; she was making jokes here and there about her time in the hospital, she talked about the few friends she made, about how loud some of the older patients were, the pain of her IV after two days of treatment and how often it needed to be changed because of how much her veins would hurt, how she often takes her blood transfusion time to take a well deserved nap, about how she spoils herself when she’s sick, and so on.

I couldn’t help but, quite simply, shut my mouth and listen.

At the same time, her experience isn’t the most harrowing; she had colitis that effectively shut down her immune system, but there are cancer and AIDS patients who harrow through the same thing, and what astounds me even more is that these people are even more carefree and amiable than the individual I met on the bus, and these people are the ones who (I’m told) have it far worse. It’s enough to make me wonder what the point of any conflict is when the human spirit is strong enough to make light of a body trying to end itself.

Annoyingly, it’s the most poetic and ironic end; an organism designed to sustain itself by any means necessary then, quite literally, trying to absolutely end itself.

It’s enough to make me wonder what the people actually suffering have to say about their suffering. Instead of having conduits or avatars, celebrities or show-hosts, late night infomercials or daily news bulletins speaking in place of those suffering, what would those experiencing what privileged and entitled humans call “Suffering” say if given the opportunity to talk about their experiences?

Would they make light of their situations, finding humour in the darkest of tragedies? Would they express their joy at being alive, and their joy at being able to live another day? Would they laugh and smile, with a sense of childlike glee? Would they try to avoid the suffering, avoid talking about it, avoid having to ever experience it again?

Human psychology tells me that yes, most of those who suffer would repress and avoid ever having to experience those negative emotions ever again, but the people I’ve met seem to enjoy retelling their stories, they seem to enjoy having people listen to them. In a way, they seem to enjoy reflecting on their experiences. The human spirit, the ability to maintain a semblance of one’s self, the ability to say “I” and understand the meaning behind the word is a fascinating paradigm. Perhaps, however, I’ve just met fascinating people. Perhaps I’ve merely met rarities within the human genome. Or perhaps I’ve met the same humans everyone else meets, but have had more opportunities to (and I don’t enjoy using the word but am relatively forced to) probe them to find out what makes them be.

Honestly, it’s no longer a matter of understanding my privilege and entitlement, or even the good fortune I’ve been given to be able to think the way I do (a first world education is worth so much than anyone would like to admit). It’s a matter of accepting that there is so much more, beyond the scope of what I currently understand, and have seen. It’s no longer a matter of claiming that the world is difficult place, but a matter of realizing that, when it comes down to it, it’s my difficult place. It’s a matter of looking at an image of the Earth and smiling, knowing that this single planet that isn’t even the largest in its solar system, or even the close to the centre of its own galactic arm, is somehow home to a sentient species capable of the most harrowing moments of destruction, calamity, horror, and, simultaneously, the most fascinating and humiliating acts of (for lack of a better word) good.

Granted, it’s a moment; a single fleeting moment, that really doesn’t last for anything longer than five minutes, between the time I finish writing and start editing that I wonder whether any given article will ever mean anything. I used to dread the moment because it would make me feel trivial, but given the circumstances, and given the people I’ve met, it now makes me feel more human and more connected. It gives me a brief kick to the head that grounds me, that inspires me, and that returns me to a more natural state of etre.

Frankly, I think it’s wrong of me to claim the human spirit unquantifiable, because at it’s most basic, the human spirit is sentience. It’s the ability to be, the ability to use the verb etre, and the ability understand what it means for something to be, and for something to continue on being.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Scott Pilgrim (TheByteScene Review)

A-loonie-a-toonie-a-quarter-a-nickle-and-two-dimes out of 4 ($3.50/$4.00)

Is there really anything I can say about Brian Lee O’Malley’s six volume saga of a boy trying to win the love of a girl by defeating her seven evil ex-boyfriends that hasn’t already been said? Sorry, I mean her seven evil ex’s, because Ramona Flowers had a sexy phase during her time at the University of Carolina in the Sky with a half ninja. Did that last sentence make any sense whatsoever? Did that last sentence sound absolutely awesome? Did that last sentence intrigue every single part of you for no adequately explicable reason? Frankly, whether it did makes no difference to me because I must, under every conceivable circumstance, state that I love the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels.

Certainly, every volume is crafted with fans in mind; comic book fans, video games fans, Nintendo fans, Sega fans, Sony fans, fans of Sonic and Mario, fans of Zelda and Double Dragon, fans of Mother and or Earthbound (as the distinction was made in the NTSC region), fans of everything and anything that effectively shows up at the San Diego Comic Con are Scott Pilgrim’s target audience. No, seriously, whatever “Geek and Nerd Culture” might be, whatever the current sociological definition of the term is, and whatever images the words “Geek” and “Nerd” conjure are all part of the Scott Pilgrim universe, and the series is, in a word, awesome because of it.

There’s a plot, yes, an overarching story that involves the titular Scott Pilgrim falling head over heels in love with Ramona Flowers attempting to defeat her Seven Evil Ex’s in order for them to be together; a rogue gallery consisting of seven of the worst, most despicably evil, revolting, astounding, fascinating, damaged, and heartbroken characters that could possibly exist outside of a video game (or a soap opera, really) stand between him, and true love. To be quite frank, they start dating immediately, and it seems that the Seven Evil Ex’s pose no real hindrance to the relationship, the second even making it a point of being fairly amiable to the Pilgrim-Flowers coupling.

In reality, the Seven Evil Ex’s act as the final bosses for each novel; they must be defeated by Scott once he advances in his personal, romantic, and professional lives. It sounds a lot like a video game for the simple reason that the series of novels is a video game. Characters are given video game like descriptions once they are introduced, with ratings, fun facts, and various other bits of trivia scattered on a black title card that appears when they do (O’Malley even makes a habit of updating the title cards every few chapters, as if to say that the characters have levelled up as much as Scott has), the main character has special attacks, earns weapon rewards, experience (both literal and figurative), and even money (in the form of Canadian currency, no less), his enemies all have special attacks and major weaknesses, there are bars for almost every conceivable human function, one ups are rewarded for certain victories, and the overarching plot involves the defeat of a league of evil beings.

The series is a video game, certainly, but it also invokes every trope that exists within the manga universe, and O’Malley does a brilliant job of writing everything in a deadpan sense of style. No joke ever goes too far, and almost nothing blatantly out of place seems to faze the cast. Scott Pilgrim is the number one fighter in Ontario, for the simple reason that he needs a cool sounding title, and the character who utters this line doesn’t seem at all baffled by the existence of such a designation.

Interestingly, buried beneath the infantile surface is a surprisingly deep coming of age story, that manages to combine wit, humour, and romance in an incredibly mature way. Reading through the novel, without understanding the not-at-all-scattered references reveals a story of a boy who feels very strongly for a girl who both have yet to understand what they want. Scott Pilgrim is in a band with his close friends from university, but they don’t really go very far. They get a few gigs here and there because of Stephen Stills (the talent), but apart from that, everyone except for Scott seems to have a relative amount of niche in their lives. Scott lives with his awesome gay roommate, Wallace Wells, but the apartment (and everything in it) belongs to Wells. Scott briefly dates a high-schooler, and explains to his sister that he’ll inform her once he’s got it figured out. This appears as a theme throughout the series; characters, beneath their cartoonish designs, have real problems that they need to get past, with the main couple being the two with the most issues.

In a strange way, Scott represents everything a hero shouldn’t; he’s weak, naive, whiny, selfish, scared, incredibly dim witted, easily susceptible to outside forces, has no idea what he wants, and effectively relies on those around him far more than he ever relies on himself. Oddly enough, Brian Lee O’Malley makes it a habit to point out these flaws in an endearing way; yes, Scott Pilgrim is, for all intents and purposes, just as bad as most of the other Evil Ex boyfriends, and he has an innate ability to make his girlfriends turn against him (or in certain cases, stalk him and his friends wherever they go), but as far as characters go, he really is one of the noblest. He’s idealistic, deeply romantic, friendly, kind-hearted, and fascinatingly intelligent in the simplest of ways.

Discussing the sixth novel when it was released, a friend of mine brought it to my attention that we’re not really cheering for Scott to succeed in defeating the Seven Evil Ex’s, so much as we’re cheering for him to get his life together. Each boss battle, and each step forward represents a personal growth for the boy. Each step forward represents a new understanding of the world around him, and while he is 23 years old during the start of the series, he doesn’t really start acting his age until book four. Scott’s character is the best part of the entire series, with his experiences and growth affecting the reader in a profound way; he effectively speaks and lives as the conduit of an entire generation of nerds, fanboys, and geeks with an infinite knowledge of things that hold little ground in the so-called “Real world.” He dumps a girl, finds another one, and then tells his friends that he’s learned the bass line to Final Fantasy II. Seriously, they’re the only ones that point out how horrifyingly cruel and unnecessarily hurtful his actions are, and he’s the one playing a Final Fantasy II tune on his bass.

I must make it a point to discuss Brian Lee O’Malley’s simplistic art style. The series begins with a realistic super deformed feel, with characters having accurate features combined with cartoon-esque proportions. At first it seems a bit out of place, but O’Malley’s style quickly grows on the reader, and by the fourth or fifth page of the first novel, the style seems intrinsic to the plot; absolutely, I can say that O’Malley’s style seems to evolve as Scott Pilgrim does. Whether this occurs on purpose or not is trivial as O’Malley’s story is backed up by his art, and his art helps create a fascinatingly interwoven tale of loss, heartbreak, adaptation, evolution, and acceptance.

That seems to be the main point of Scott’s entire journey: growing up and facing the world as an adult, even if it means having to take down your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend using Ichigo Kurosaki’s Zangetsu.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

A Day In Toronto Spent Putting on the Ritz With Both Eaton and Trump (TheByteWeek Issue 10)

When I was in New York this past winter, I made a habit of asking anyone I met whether they had recently spent time at any major museum, or cultural epicentre as a sort of gauge of visitation. Similar to Niagara Falls and I, it became immediately evident that just because the MOMA is nearby, this fact didn’t mean that New Yorkers spent more than one day a month (if not significantly less) at one of the foremost museums of Modern Art in the world.

The situation was explained quite succinctly; unless a person needed to visit a “Tourist destination” they didn’t really spend very much time there. Certainly, bankers and stoke brokers seemed to effectively live on Wall Street, but of all the people I met, very few spent a lot of time on 5th Ave, or anywhere else movies and television programs portray as commonplace New York City places.

When it became a matter of simplicity, the conclusion was that New Yorkers didn’t visit famous parts of New York, unless they had to, or were showing around out of town relatives and friends. Of course, in retrospect, it seems obvious that this would be the conclusion, but for a person such as myself, whose immersion in American culture far exceeds his immersion in almost any other, I simply assumed that all New Yorkers took time out of their very human schedules to go for long meaningful walks in Central Park, only to stop for a quick stroll around 5th avenue.

The assumption was almost baseless, because visiting Toronto is a similar experience; it’s fairly easy to take a train to the cultural hub and spend a day there, walking around Yonge or Bloor, spending time in the Eaton centre, watching a show at the Toronto Centre of the Arts, or walking the antiquated streets of the Distillery District in an artistic haze, but quite frankly, I don’t.

Granted, when I do end up doing any of these things, the only obvious thing to do is to talk about my experience which is why today’s TheByteWeek begins with this sentence: last Saturday, I spent a day in downtown Toronto doing all of the tourist-esque things I don’t normally do, for the simple reason that I actually had an excuse to go and do the things I don’t normally do.

The day began by car with a drive along the QEW, and a parking detour on Adelaide street, where the day’s events were agreed upon and routed. After searching for a lot, parking, paying, and walking, the first destination we arrived at was the newly opened Trump International Hotel and Tower. To be completely fair to the hotel’s designers, the outside looks marvellous. Quite the contrary, the outside of the tower is absolutely stunning, and the space it takes up along the street’s skyline really is something to behold; the inside, however, leaves much to be desired. The first observation anyone can make is the stunning lack of colour; the hotel’s interior is pitch black, and any identifiable decoration, such as the blown glass chandelier found near the lobby, is the same. Coupled with a stunning lack of contrast, the interior isn’t ugly, so much as it takes time to get used to the designers’ choices.

At the same time, I’m sure that the interior was designed with a thorough plan, though I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t get the point of it all; the mosaic in the driveway is a nice touch, and I’ll give the creator (or creators) credit for attempting to incorporate the generally agreed upon multiculturalism that Canada is well known for. That being said, I’m not kidding when I say that every part of the hotel’s immediately viewable interior decor is pitch black, even the spa, which seemed especially counterproductive. I always assumed that spas featured softer tones to calm and relax an individual, though given my lack of time spent in spas, that assumption could no doubt also be wrong.

Once time in Toronto’s Trump Tower came to an end, we moved along Bay Street and found ourselves on Yonge, ironically at the Hudson Bay Company Headquarters, and flagship store. For a moment, I’ve always wondered why The Bay is on Yonge; wouldn’t it have been better to build the department store on Bay instead of Yonge? Was there a time where the store could be found on Bay Street, but corporate expansion lead to a Yonge Street placement? I really should look into it, and I’m sure that the history is quite intriguing, but for the moment, we found ourselves in The Bay on Yonge and, soon thereafter, in the Eaton Centre.

The Eaton Centre has always had a special place in my heart, for whatever reason, and the merging tunnel between The Bay and the aforementioned shopping centre has always brought a smile to my face. Maybe I just like tunnels, but going from The Bay to the Eaton Centre brings a sense of child like glee to my mind. In terms of overall design, the Eaton Centre always has an exhibit dedicated to unity and Canadian culture and almost always features art by Canadian artists, or art students. Interesting then that the Slipstream exhibit, a series of prisms hung from the ceiling of the downtown Toronto’s largest shopping mall, is designed by a UK-based firm. Regardless, the piece was built by a Montreal based firm, and I can safely say that Slipstream is absolutely stunning; more than 70 prisms are hung from the ceiling, each tilted one degree greater than the prism before it, to form a fluid 360O installation. I was later informed that each prism lights up at night, but all things considered, there wasn’t very much time (or any at all) to come back and see.

Following a quick lunch, and an even faster ice cream truck dessert, we made our way to the Ritz Carlton, Toronto, a second US based hotel to find a home in Toronto in the past few years. At the same time, the Ritz was the second of two hotels that served as the purpose for our visit, and it certainly proved to be the better. Immediately noticeable within the hotel’s lobby is the chandelier, an intricate blob that (I’d like to mention) serves as an interesting antithesis to that found at Trump Tower. The blob features the regular chandelier fixtures such as crystals, bits of metal to hold them all together, and lights, but the blob shape reminded me of Nickelodeon. I can safely assume that the designers of the chandelier didn’t intend for that to be the correlation, but the truth is that once you see the Nickelodeon blob, it’s very difficult for it to be unseen, regardless of where it’s first spotted.

Apart from a potential lawsuit from the most unexpected place, however, the rest of the hotel is fairly luxurious. I’d like to quickly point out that the main restaurant and bar, TOCA, are beautiful, and the Deq lounge and bar area is equally as attractive. I thought it was fascinating that the TOCA restaurant features plates with hand painted art created by a single hotel employee, and though much of it is minimalist, they are all quite pretty.

At one point I jokingly thought that the reason for the minimalist design was the overall number of plates that needed to be produced, but thinking about it further, I’m starting to wonder why this idea doesn’t hold water. At least 50 tables, with 4 dinner plates to each table, not to account for every accompanying piece of table ware creates a minimum of 200 plates. 200 plates to be designed by a single artist, and no two plates are the same.

For some reason, minimalism seems like the obvious choice, though far be it from me to blatantly challenge any individual’s creativity.

The Ritz-Carlton served as the venue for a round of pre-dinner preparation, and once appetites were wet, a slightly larger congregation than the one we began with proceeded to the Keg Mansion at Euclid Hall along Jarvis Street. However, a 2-hour wait time, and a growing sense of hunger and urgency led the gathering to reconvene on Danforth Avenue, the prominently Mediterranean district that also serves as the home of Toronto’s Greek, and soon after, Ethiopian communities. As anyone can assume, the food is delicious, and once placed on plate and table, serves as a fantastic way to end a relatively outstanding day.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t visit Toronto as often as I’d like to, and while many have their qualms with the capital of Ontario, calling it a poor man’s New York City (no matter how historically inaccurate that claim may be) and so forth, to me, it really is one of the great cities. Allow that last sentence to be both allusion and metaphor. I love Toronto, and while I’m rather lazy, given the right set of circumstances, even I’m capable of getting past this glaring character flaw and really enjoy myself.

At the very least, it gives me an excuse to write an article destined to be over a week late. At the most, I have the time of my life doing little more than walking from place to place.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK