What it is: A 33-storey, 356-unit condo tower that would replace the existing office building on the southeast corner of College and Beverley streets, just south of the University of Toronto. (Better known to U of T students as “where the Starbucks is.”)
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Azeem Mohammed, a 38-year-old stay-at-home dad from East York, is the school council chair at Thorncliffe Park Public School. It’s a volunteer position that he takes very seriously. Azeem and his wife, Sufia, are Muslims from Hyderabad, India. They left comfortable jobs overseas so their children could get a better education in Canada. Sufia teaches physiotherapy at a college in Scarborough. Azeem has two master’s degrees, but he stopped working three years ago to care for the kids—three girls and a boy, all under 10. The Mohammeds are active members of the Liberal party, and both voted for Kathleen Wynne in the last election. As they learned more about the impending sex ed curriculum, however, they began to have serious doubts.
Geek culture, that smorgasbord of sci-fi and fantasy fandoms, was, until recently, relegated to the fringes of society. Now the boundaries between the margins and the mainstream have all but vanished. The biggest show on TV is a sword-and-sorcery dragon epic. Comic book movies break box office records every weekend. And this month, more than 120,000 people will dress up like Klingons and Stormtroopers at Fan Expo Canada, the third-largest sci-fi convention in the world. Toronto is the ideal host city: we’re a dork’s paradise, brimming with indie gaming studios, addictive TV space operas and role-playing societies that let you channel your inner elf. Here, we break down why it’s so cool to be a geek in the city.
About four years ago, just for the hell of it, Steve Cory, president of the three-dimensional printing company Objex Unlimited, used a new 3D scanner and printer to make a tiny, scale replica of his friend’s entire body. That first personalized, pint-sized statue eventually led to the launch of Sculptraits, Toronto’s first three-dimensional portrait studio, where anyone can have a miniature version of themselves—a “Selftrait”—made for as little as $120.
The quality of the five- and six-inch figurines has improved dramatically since that initial test run. The latest versions capture subtle facial features, creases in clothes and the straining of muscles. Even the colours of skin, clothing and hair are remarkably true to life. Although the process is made possible by a tent-like custom photo booth and an $80,000 industrial 3D printer, much of the work is done by Objex employees, who meticulously prepare and edit the 3D images, and put the finishing touches on the printed sculptures. Here’s the process, from shoot to shipment:
The place: A home in the Beach with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two kitchens and large walkout decks (both front and back) upstairs.
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I invited another couple over for dinner, and we agreed to order in from Amaya, with each of us selecting a dish to share. The food arrived and I paid the $90 bill for expediency’s sake, assuming our friends would reimburse me for half. However, they left at the end of the night without offering to pay. Yes, we hosted, but it’s different rules for a mutually selected, delivered meal, right?
—Naan Profit, The Annex
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Read the rest of this entry »
Hear Idina Menzel belt “Let It Go” live
Rent, Wicked, Enchanted, Glee—this American actress-musician has amassed an impressive CV on the stage and on screens big and small. But for younger fans, those accomplishments are all footnotes. Tykes and tweens know Menzel as the voice of Elsa in Frozen, and the singer of the film’s inescapable anthem, “Let It Go.” Here, she powers through pop classics, musical theatre favourites and her own repertoire. Wednesday, September 2. $63–$128. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., sonycentre.ca.
The place: A one-and-a-half-storey cottage with soaring ceilings, wood detailing and plenty of outbuildings.
Q&A: Marco Mendicino, who beat Eve Adams to the nomination, on staying in Justin Trudeau’s good books
You trounced Eve Adams, whom Justin Trudeau parachuted into Eglinton-Lawrence, to win the Liberal nomination. How’d that go over with the new boss?
I think I’m in Mr. Trudeau’s good books—all along he said that anybody who wanted to be the candidate would have to participate in an open and fair nomination.
When Adams announced her candidacy, you’d already been campaigning in Eglinton-Lawrence for months. Any rational person would have been annoyed. Are you a rational person?
Haha—well, I like to think so. Sure, I was surprised, and I reflected on my decision to run for a few days. But then I turned my mind to winning.
How long did it take for Trudeau to call with his congratulations?
I won on Sunday night, and he called the next morning.
How awkward was that conversation?
Not awkward at all. It was great to hear from him, and it will be a privilege to work for him.
Sale of the Week: the $1.4-million Birchcliff home that shows the selling power of a lakefront retreat
The property: This Birchcliff home has a smattering of rear-facing picture windows and a balcony with unobstructed views of Lake Ontario. The interior has some retro touches, like wood panelling in the kitchen, while a sunken great room, beamed ceilings and a pair of fireplaces give the place a cottagey feel. The Toronto Hunt country club is a 15-minute walk away.
Jonathan Castellino’s photo series, Interference Patterns, is named after a natural phenomenon that happens when two waves of similar frequency overlap, creating a new oscillation. Over the past two years, Castellino, best known for his architectural photo blog, Sacramental Perception, has been creating intricate images by layering different photos on top of one another and then combining the resulting jumble into a single frame. The finished photographs are jarringly complex, with familiar Toronto landmarks (the CN Tower, the greenery of the Don Valley ravine) getting lost in surreal new surroundings. We spoke with Castellino about his work. Click through the image gallery to read what he said.
The Nanny Diaries: Toronto’s Filipino caregivers talk about low wages, long days and immigration delays
SINCE 1992, some 75,000 Filipinos have become permanent residents of Canada through the federal government’s caregiver program. The sales pitch was hard to resist: help raise our children for two years, and we’ll reunite you with yours and give everyone a shot at permanent residency. Last year alone, some 23,687 Filipinos came to Canada under the program. But it has become a victim of its own success. Today, the backlog of applications for permanent residency is 17,600 names long. Citizenship and Immigration has promised swift action: it implemented an annual cap on the number of permanent residencies at 5,500, added educational and language components to the criteria, and announced plans to expedite the approvals process. But for many, the wait, which now averages 50 months—and that’s after two years of employment—is torture. At home, their kids are growing up without them. And with rock-bottom wages in the Philippines, going back isn’t a viable option. Here, the stories of five Filipina nannies whose lives are on hold as they await their fate.