Congrats, Team Canada!

congrats team canada

The scene at the CBC Atrium in Toronto. Photo via Lauren O’Neill.
Click the picture to see it at full size.

Congrats to Team Canada on winning the gold in hockey!

For more coverage:



Parkdale 1-bedroom apartment. Some exposed brick, plus incredibly rare exposed BATHROOM. Yours for $900/month!

parkdale apartment 1

Click any of the photos to see the listing for this apartment.

If you’re looking for sub-$1000/month rent someplace in Toronto that’s a short transit ride or bike from downtown, you may be interested in this apartment in Parkdale, pictured above. That is, at least until you take a closer look.

Here’s what its listing says:

FABULOUS LOCATION IN PARKDALE. Be the first one to live in this beautiful newly renovated one bedroom apartment in a fabulous Parkdale location. New kitchen. New bathroom. New fixtures. New laminating flooring. New north star windows. New fridge and stove. TTC at the door 24 hours. Close to shops, restaurants,schools, cafes, parks, lake, hospitals, churches etc. Perfect for a quiet, clean, responsible, respectful, single professional with the following requirements: No smoking anywhere in premises. No pets of any kind. No illegal substances in premises. Looking for a tenant that will keep the apartment clean. Month to month rent. First and last month. Available immediately. Past landlord references will be required. For showing appointments please call [phone number redacted].

It seems like a nice student or starter place…

parkdale apartment 2

It’s hard to tell from the low-resolution pictures provided, but the floors and windows look new, and they seem to have given the place a fresh coat of paint…

parkdale apartment 3

…and there’s more headroom than many top-of-the-house apartments I’ve seen in town.

parkdale apartment 4

Judging from the photos, the place seems to be two large rooms — a living area with kitchen zone and a bedroom, where the bathroom is also located.

parkdale apartment 5

That looks like a nice bathroom set. In fact it’s so nice that you want to show it off…

parkdale apartment 6

…to the rest of the room.

I suppose that if you:

  • are feeling homesick for your days in prison
  • are one of those couples that feels comfortable pooping in front of the other
  • live alone and never have anyone over
  • establish a “the entire next room is a bathroom” rule when you have friends over
  • set up some kind of divider or other barrier
  • binge-watch Netflix and don’t want to choose between bathroom time and House of Cards time

then this place would work for you.



The Middle Earth/Ukraine connection

saruman - yanukovych

Found via Jan Burch.
Click the photo to see it at full size.

I wondered why the images from Ukraine looked familiar…


Meanwhile, in Japan…

meanwhile in japan

…they’re getting into some serious cross-generational, cross-cultural cross-dressing.


And then they came for the geeks: Police forces trash Ukrainian protest’s “IT Tent”, beat up techie, kill journalist

ukraine euromaidan

Near the heart of the Euromaidan — the protests that have been taking place in Ukraine since late November — was IT#Namet, which translates as “IT Tent”. They’ve been there from the beginning, providing internet access and acting as a gathering place for tech- and communication-inclined protesters. In a statement released earlier today, the IT#Namet people say that they were attacked by police last night, resulting in one of their number being badly beaten, a journalist killed, and their tent burned down.

Here’s how Google Translate renders their statement into English:

Today, on the night of February 19, 2014, Special Forces soldiers broke into the town Square, which was IT # Namet. As a result of the fighting and arson by the security forces IT # Namet burned. Fortunately, there were people inside were able to respond quickly and leave the room, so they survived.

Since the foundation of IT # Namet, the aim of this organization was a peaceful protest. IT people never were carrying weapons, except for the tablet and smartphone connected to the Internet. Accordingly, the actions of security forces were not anti-terrorist nature, which they claimed it was deliberate destruction of unarmed people.Unfortunately, that night suffered an IT specialist Alex Limarenko, who was a journalist with the “news” Vyacheslav Veremiyem. Vyacheslav died, and Alex, who was severely beaten, was seriously injured person. 

Notwithstanding that fact IT # Namet was today destroyed the belief of people and support their peaceful protest remained unchanged. “IT community”, which united people representing IT industry, is expanding its activities beyond IT # Namet. 

“IT community” requires a cessation of hostilities on the part of authorities to save lives. 

Now every member of the IT Communities can choose their own way of further fighting and defending their rights, and the rights of people who yesterday were affected by their actual death.

Armed with only computers, mobile devices, internet access, and the truth, these guys continue to fight the good fight. I’m a little strapped for cash right now, but I’m going to find some way to pitch in.


A quick primer on the Euromaidan — the protests taking place in Ukraine right now

ukraine map 2

I continue to be surprised with how many people I keep running into who don’t know what’s going on in Ukraine right now. For those of you who haven’t been following the news or who’d like to know more, this article’s for you!

For the most basic introduction, check out the above video by the Washington Post, Ukraine’s crisis explained in 2 minutes. It starts with a question that you might be asking: What is Ukraine? (If you live in the Bloor West Village area of Toronto, you have no excuse for not knowing about Ukraine.)

ukraine map 3

In case your European geography’s a bit fuzzy.

For starters, it’s the largest neighbouring country to Russia’s west, and it’s been the subject of much inappropriate grabbing by the Russians since the time of Catherine the Great (whom many Ukrainians see in the same light as Kuwaitis view Saddam Hussein).

ukrainian waving EU flag

The protests are a reaction to President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to stop his talks and refusal to sign an agreement for closer association and free trade with the European Union. This, along with accepting a bailout from Russia, was a sign that Yanukovych was moving Ukraine closer to Russia rather than closer to the EU, as many Ukrainians wanted. Ukraine’s economy is currently a mess, and many people wanted closer ties to the EU for the economic boost and more job opportunities.


Yanukovych’s change of heart seems to have Vladimir Putin’s sticky fingers all over it, as does the return of suspiciously Soviet-flavoured repression in Ukraine. Yanokovych himself is an old-school Soviet central planner, with all the fol-de-rol that comes with that, including rigging elections, and either poisoning or jailing those people with the temerity to run against him.


Click the picture to see it at full size.

The name given to the protests and demonstrations that have been going since late November is called Euromaidan, pronounced “Yevro-my-dahn”, and translates as “Eurosquare”. The protests have grown in size over the past few months, and in mid-January, the government enacted anti-protest laws, bringing a taste of the old-style Soviet kleptocracy to come if Yanukovych remains in power.

Here’s why the protestors are there, in one of their own words:


Here’s a recent CNN report, showcasing how things have escalated over the past few days:

Here’s what’s going on right now in Ukraine, courtesy of a live YouTube feed from Espreso TV:

And right now, it’s like this:

fighting to save ukraine

Thanks to Marichka for the picture.

To borrow a quote from my friend Marichka Melnyk:

If you cared about Tiananmen and Tahrir Squares, you’d better give a good goddamn about Maidan.


“Brick Mansions” is “Banlieue 13/District 13” for the illiterate and unworldly

Banlieue-13 poster

Click the poster to see it at full size.

In 2004, a French action flick called Banlieue 13 — “Suburb 13” — was released. It was written and produced by Luc Besson, who’s brought numerous thrillers to the big screen, some of which you may have even seen:

Banlieue 13, which in English became District 13, became the parkour thriller movie, largely for this sequence:

Ten years later, a trailer for a new movie hitting the big screen in a couple of months is making the rounds. It’s for a film called Brick Mansions, it’s produced by Luc Besson, and there’s a scene and even a guy in it that seems…familiar:

It looks as though Besson simply asked “Why mess with success?”, brought back David Belle, who played the protagonist in Banlieue 13, to do what seems to be a shot-for-shot remake of that famous parkour sequence.

The problem is that he’s dealing with this as his target audience:

brick mansions target audience

They could simply watch Banlieue 13, but these factors are holding them back:

  • It takes place in a country other than America, and that country is being portrayed not as an exotic backdrop or enemy hideout, but as a place where people actually live and call home. Too foreign.
  • It’s in French. It is subtitled, but they want to be entertained, not to read.
  • They can’t relate to a French protagonist. They need an American one.

There’s also the matter of Besson standing to make some decent coin and save work by re-doing his own ten-year-old film. He knows what side his baguette’s buttered on, so he gave it an American setting, and made it a buddy film with Paul Walker as the “familiar character we can relate to”. Since this was one of Paul Walker’s last film appearances before his James Dean-ish death, it’s sure to bring his fans, now infected with “necrofilmia” to the theatres or the torrents in droves.

So there you have it: if you always wanted to see Banlieue 13/District 13, but were too illiterate and unworldly to watch it, and you need to satisfy your Paul Walker necrofilmia, the newer, dumber remake called Brick Mansions is just around the corner. Enjoy.