It may not be the Canadian snowbird experience you envisioned, but this San Fran suite spot proffers unlikely perks you won’t find bathing under a Floridian sun. If south-of-the-border real estate is on your shopping list, the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square, should certainly be circled on your short list. Just a block away from San Francisco Bay and a 10-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge, this heritage site in the heart of a cultural hub offers a unique opportunity for fractional ownership. Starting at $169,000, these luxurious residences perched in a formerly famous chocolate factory can be shared by second-home seekers with taste.
Shane Koyczan walks onto a stage, his finger nudging the bridge of his eyeglasses up to the radix of his nose. Nervously he rubs his hands together, folding one palm over the other, forming a solitary handshake before an audience awash in a hazy blue light.
He looks out to a gathering of attendees, who despite their successes find resonance in the empowering prose he was invited to disclose at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif. “There’s so many of you,” he begins, a thick beard, perhaps his most distinguishable feature, framing his cherubic face. With one hand in his pocket, the other flailing around, the spoken word poet travels back to his childhood, a time when he was asked to abandon his dreams, a place where he was discouraged from being different, a stage on which school bullies tried to get the best of him.
Swinging from humour to sadness, undulating with anger and optimism, Koyczan’s chocolate voice is a pendulum of emotion as he segues into the lyrics of his most stirring poem to date. Peering into his personal bout of being bullied and the psychology of children contending with an issue that can impart profound impacts, he explores one of the universal drawbacks of our early years with an indubitably trenchant effect.
This year, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is celebrating the second and third seasons of its Subscription Series — Food on Film and Science on Film are celebrating their second seasons and Books on Film is celebrating its third season — by continuing to pair screenings of notable films with insightful lectures by experts in their fields. This year’s selections feature powerful literary adaptations, a thought-provoking look at how food shapes our lives and fascinating insider perspectives on the world of science and technology. Here is a selection of the events you can attend in April and May. Tickets for individual events are available at tiff.net/subscriptionseries.
BOOKS ON FILM
Eleanor Wachtel, of CBC’s Writers & Company, hosts discussions with writers and filmmakers on the challenges of adapting literature into film.
Monday, April 8 – 7 p.m.
Lisa Cortés on Precious
Lisa Cortés, executive producer of the film Precious, has spent her career illuminating the stories of those marginalized by society. Ten of those years were spent working with director Lee Daniels on adapting Sapphire’s novel Push to the big screen.
Casinos: the flashing-light fantasy of cascading quarters, the thrill of chance dancing around a wheel, the ecstasy of hauling in newly won chips; the hunched backs of slot machine junkies, the dejection of “22, player busts,” the empty wallets of the down-on-their-luck. Two sides of the same coin, but it’s the former that gambling pushers wish to sell. Especially when Toronto is being courted for Ontario’s next casino.
Indeed, gambling is a sizable cash cow for governments. The seedy underbelly is ideally avoided, hence the euphemism “gaming.” But Ontario is cash-strapped, drowning in a nearly $12-billion deficit of red ink. Gambling has become a lifejacket and addiction, a means of income — of escape — too substantial for the province to wean off of it. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Las Vegas powerhouses alike are attempting to woo Toronto. The prize: the potential gambling dollars Canada’s biggest metropolis could generate.
In the past few months, Toronto has entertained propositions for an “urban integrated casino” at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) from Caesars Entertainment; a similar pitch for the MTCC by The Las Vegas Sands Corp.; and, more recently, a three-million-square-foot “integrated resort” at Exhibition Place by MGM Resorts International. The MGM pitch, for example, dangled an investment of $3 billion to $4 billion, a 1,200-room hotel, 10 restaurants, 750,000 to one million square feet of retail, 12,000 underground parking spaces, a permanent home for Cirque du Soleil and permanentemployment for upwards of 10,000 and more than 5,000 construction jobs during the proposed three-year construction period. These job prospects have been a pillar for casino advocates, which include Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Jobs, of course,mean revenue.
When I pulled up to the house, I was kind of nervous,” says Paul Mandarino. After the recent maelstrom of media reports focused on vulnerable kids being bullied, the 25-year-old Vaughan resident saw an opportunity to join the revolution of resolution. Knocking on a stranger’s door was his first move.
After expressing interest in empowering kids, a York Region police officer informed him about Youth Assisting Youth (YAY). The not-for-profit program matches children aged 6 to 15 with volunteers aged 16 to 29 who can set an example and prevent potential consequences that can stem from social, community or familial issues. “You can reach out to those kids and you can help them through a tough time.”
Before he could become a philanthropic force in his community, Mandarino had to go through an intensive application process that included an initial orientation, multiple training sessions and a one-on-one meeting with his mentee-to-be. “If he didn’t like me it would crush my heart,” he says, looking back on that nerve-racking introduction.
After arriving at 10-year-old Jonathan’s house with his YAY case coordinator, they moved to the dinner table to discuss the details of the program with his mother. “When I started talking to her and having a conversation, things got really comfortable,” he remembers. Mandarino and Jonathan immediately hit it off as well. “We found out that we have a lot of things in common and it was easy from there.” The aspiring police officer meets his mentee twice a week for a total of three hours. They play catch, tennis, Lego, video games, read together and watch Argo games — and the rewards are reciprocal. “I’m still getting something out of it now,” Mandarino says. “The experience has shown me that a future is based on kids and if we show them the right way, the future would be a lot less of a mess later on.”
Zombies — the lumbering, reanimated remains of the infected. Rotting, mindless, driven by voracious greed and a penchant for braaaiiinnnsss — they’re putrid beings, and yet television audiences fancy them over the most carrot-coloured New Jerseyan, the most vapid, superficial socialites and, yes, even Charlie Sheen.
Case in point: The Walking Dead. With its decaying swarms and weapon-strapped protagonists, Walking has been crowned the king of basic cable. In December, this television adaptation of the eponymous graphic novel drew 10.5 million viewers for its mid-season finale, easily dominating its peers. Back in October, during its third season’s premiere, more than 10.9 million viewers tuned in, making Walking the most watched television drama in basic cable history. You heard right: the most watched basic cable drama ever — ever — is about zombies.
But television isn’t the lone medium plagued by this zombie resurgence. Zombie films, for one, regularly drag in A-listers and profits alike. With Will Smith as the lead, I Am Legend scored big in 2007 when it made $585 million worldwide. This summer, Brad Pitt and his flowing locks are set to battle the hordes of undead in World War Z, and you can bet strong ticket sales will follow. For some digital zombie action, rifle through your kid’s video game library for titles like Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead and Plants vs. Zombies. Try cracking open a copy of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a New York Times bestselling novel, for a gruesome twist on a classic, as well.
Who to bring, what to wear, when to leave, how much to give and why it all matters. The evolution of wedding guest etiquette.
THE PRESENT MOMENT
While the rule of thumb used to be that you pay for your plate, Toronto wedding planner Karina Lemke believes people have long been smashing that sacred proverb (often without even realizing it). With a nuptial landscape that’s greener than ever, covering your palatable plate of rosemary organic chicken, truffle risotto and the cavalcade of buttercream desserts that follow can mean dishing out $600–$1,000 per couple, if you consider the countless rounds of Cabernet that coincide. Instead, Lemke estimates that the average couple gives closer to $250–$400, regardless of how posh the property is. While you should consider boosting your busta to cushion the blow, “most etiquette experts would back up the philosophy that if you’re throwing or hosting a party, you’re doing so with the expectation of nothing in return. You’re doing it because you’re a host.” The rise of destination weddings has also ushered a new wave of gifting, which Lemke personally experienced while exchanging vows with Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin in an intimate Laguna Beach ceremony in 2010. “If you’re getting married away you have to assume that you’re not going to get very much because their contribution is the fact that they’re going — and they’ve probably spent anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 a couple to join you for the week.” The Emily Post Institute Inc.’s etiquette blog also dispels the pay-your-plate myth, suggesting that “the amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom and what you think is an appropriate gift.”
Author and founder of Sharma Leadership International Inc. knows a thing or 50 on how to improve one’s self. A Robin Sharma shortlist on life-changing goals and plans for a fresh start to 2013.
1. Hard work is a force multiplier.
2. Don’t participate in recessions.
3. Exercising for 20 minutes first thing in the morning is a game-changer.
4. If you’re not innovating daily, you’re on the path to obsolescence.
5. If you want an A-level company, you can’t afford to hire B-Level players.
6. Procrastination is an escape mechanism for people scared to do their best work.
7. Give your customers 10 times the value they expect and they’ll tell everyone they know about you.
8. Don’t do it if you’re not having fun.
9. If you’re not scared a lot you’re not growing very much.
10. Invest the time to create great social media content and your base will go global + viral.
11. There’s never been a better time to be a social entrepreneur.
12. It’s never been easier to be of service to a large amount of people (and few things are as rewarding).
In 2007, my perception of our world was altered in a meaningful way. I was 24, and I had just applied to graduate school before getting on a plane to spend time in Africa where I had contributed to building a primary school. It was this trip, six years ago, which set the stage for what would turn out to shape not only my perspective, but also my purpose: enabling opportunities in education.
With an early start to the day, I was ready to change the world, although I did not yet appreciate that first I needed to understand it. There I was. So far from what I knew as my reality; so far from those I loved. As we headed towards the site, the roads were unpaved and the air was dry. We drove past more than one slum, looking down each time out of fear of making eye contact and perhaps offending the wrong person. Cameras weren’t used here to capture what we saw, but emotions of disbelief and sadness imprinted in my memory. This wasn’t my reality, but it was the reality of many.
Hours later we had arrived, and there was the first school that I had helped to build for children I had never met before. Although the bell had rung and the school day was over, they stayed to meet the visitor from Canada. As I got out of the car, the children grabbed my hands, touched my hair and said jambo to greet me. The excitement was overwhelming and their impatience with me to learn their names and pose for pictures with them was amusing. They wanted to be remembered beyond that day.
Copies of Stefan Sagmeister’s Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far are carefully culled from a cardboard box and arranged like the Great Pyramid of Giza in the gift shop at Toronto’s Design Exchange. Handled like bone China, this inanimate book with content so far from idle has the razor-edged expression of irony. Its author, a wonder of the design world, is upstairs readying his highly anticipated exhibition for tomorrow’s big reveal. True to stereotypes, the New Yorker is running half-an-hour behind schedule.
It’s 12 p.m. and beside the shop, two men have just begun adhering life-size letters to a freshly painted taxicab yellow wall in an artery of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building. By the time Sagmeister is ready, the first six characters of his forthcoming exhibit’s title, “The Happy Show,” are revealed. A cheeky caricature of a copulating couple covers the face of an elevator, offering a taste of what awaits as its doors provocatively slide open to let us in. On the second floor, the man of the hour is heard though not seen, wrapping up his third consecutive interview. Visitors are cautiously welcomed by Sagmeister’s handwritten advisory: “This exhibition will not make you happier.”
The show is a sensorial glimpse of the designer’s decade-long exploration of that very emotion. This multimedia endeavour metamorphosed from maxims in his personal diary to a poetic book to a public portrayal of finding life’s ultimate purpose that will unravel in a feature-length documentary scheduled to debut in the fall of 2013. Sagmeister makes his mission clear through the words of French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal lacquered on one of the walls: “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views.”