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The Informer

Culture

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How the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s latest piece of interactive art hypnotizes kids with moving light

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Kayla Rocca)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Kayla Rocca)

Every March, the TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace, an exhibition of kid-friendly interactive art. This year’s marquee installation is Forest, a co-creation of new-media artist Micah Elizabeth Scott and 26 students from Ryerson University’s new-media program. It’s a massive digital canvas made up of over 7,500 LEDs and controlled by software Scott developed herself. Young visitors interact with the piece by turning wooden spinners with their hands. “I designed something that wasn’t a screen,” Scott explains, “something that has a lot of real, tactile sense to it, and isn’t just fingers sliding against glass.” Here’s an annotated look at how it works.

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The sculpture is 16 feet wide and eight feet tall, and it weighs over 600 pounds. It took about six weeks to build and two days to install.
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The body of the installation, including the spinners, is made of medium density fibreboard. “It’s literally from the Home Depot,” says Steve Daniels, a Ryerson professor who helped coordinate the project. He used a CNC router at Ryerson’s Maker Space to cut it into shape.

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Politics

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People with their arms crossed in front of things they’re against: a taxonomy of the Star’s favourite visual cliché

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Two things are inevitable in a big city: constant change, and constant opposition to change.

Local media outlets have a tough time depicting the latter. How do you photograph local residents’ ill will toward the newest sources of perceived aggravation in their neighbourhoods? Some newspaper photographers have mastered an effective visual cliché for use in these situations: a picture of the aggrieved party standing strong, arms crossed, in front of the object of his or her ire (or the vacant locale it’s planned to occupy). No one is better at this bit of inventive visual grammar than our city’s own newspaper of record, the Toronto Star. Observe:

The Informer

Culture

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Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage battle Pac-Man in Toronto: a breakdown of the Pixels trailer

Last summer, Toronto was abuzz with news that the Waterboy himself, Adam Sandler, was shooting a film in and around our beautiful, characterless, can-pass-as-basically-anywhere downtown core. Even more exciting, for fans of a certain bosomy high-fantasy HBO series, was the presence of Sandler’s costar, Peter Dinklage.

Now, we all can witness the fruits of their labour. (Or, I guess, the promotional teaser for the fruits of their labour.) Which is to say, the trailer for the new Sandler/Dinklage joint, the shot-in-Toronto Pixels, was released on Tuesday. (It’s embedded above.) Here’s our second-by-second breakdown:

0:08: This is already the most boring kind of movie trailer. You know: the ones where they set it up like it’s going to be a serious drama only to reveal that it’s a stupid comedy? One of those. The premise is that, in 1982, mankind sent a time capsule into space in hopes of connecting with alien life. It included “examples of our life and culture.”

0:24—0:29: Examples of our shared cultural heritage circa 1982, apparently: a video of Ronald Reagan’s 1981 presidential Christmas speech, a Rubik’s cube, and footage of both Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

0:30: Is this really how NASA would try to connect with alien life? Send a bunch of garbage into space, without any context, and hope they just innately make sense of it? You’d have to imagine there’s a potential for some kind of humungous, potentially world-shattering miscommunication, no?

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The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $2.8 million for a Forest Hill Tudor with modern conveniences (and a secret hatch)

toronto-house-of-the-week-330-glenayr-road-intro

Address: 300 Glenayr Road
Neighbourhood: Forest Hill South
Agent: Elaine Chelin, Harvey Kalles Real Estate
Price: $2,795,000

The Place: A Forest Hill Tudor, renovated in 2011 and 2012.

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The Informer

How-To

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How real estate stagers turn every sale condo into an Ikea-filled dream home

(Image: Gabby Frank)

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Trawl through enough real estate listings and you’ll notice it: the interiors of a lot of different homes on the market all look pretty similar. (For anyone who has endured an endless condo hunt, these knockoff Eames chairs are probably a PTSD trigger.) Often, it’s more than just a similarity; the reason so many sale homes look identically furnished is that, sometimes, they are. Real estate agents often engage the services of professional stagers—interior-design pros who maintain vast libraries of attractive, lightweight furniture for temporary use in properties that need a little help appealing to potential buyers. That furniture is constantly in motion, flitting from condo tower to condo tower, sometimes alighting at storage facilities between jobs.

Brian Stirling and his wife, Joan, run Stirling Home Studio, a staging company with enough furniture in an Adelaide Street storage facility to outfit 30 properties at a time. Here’s how they approached a particularly challenging job: decorating the interior of an empty 1,700-square-foot, $950,000 unit at the Candy Factory Lofts.

The Informer

Events

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Play with cool toys at TIFF, geek out at Toronto Comicon and seven more things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: The Daisy Theatre, by Alejandro Santiago; still from The Remains of the Day, courtesy of TIFF; Subway Stations of the Cross, by Alex Filipe; a Winter Stations installation, by Rémi Carreiro)

(Images, clockwise from top left: The Daisy Theatre, by Alejandro Santiago; still from The Remains of the Day, courtesy of TIFF; Subway Stations of the Cross, by Alex Filipe; a Winter Stations installation, by Rémi Carreiro)

1. Let the kids loose at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Each March Break, the Lightbox hosts DigiPlaySpace, a wonderland of high-tech wizardry filled with dozens of immersive and interactive exhibits. The highlights this year include a mammoth interactive light installation made to resemble a forest; a 3-D virtual reality space-chase game called Headrush; a trippy (and vaguely creepy) animation activated by the viewer’s brainwaves; and a meet-and-greet with hitchBOT, the freeloading robot who just came back from a cross-country tour. To April 19. $10. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.

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Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $1.2-million home that shows the changing face of Stonegate

toronto-sale-of-the-week-86-waniska-avenue-intro

Address: 86 Waniska Avenue
Neighbourhood: Stonegate
Agent: Ana Santos, Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

The Property: This contemporary Stonegate family home has wood finishes and hardwood flooring across all its levels, including the finished basement. Many large windows add to its appeal.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $815,000 for a unit in a century-old Rosedale building

toronto-condo-of-the-week-34-rowanwood-avenue-intro

Address: 34 Rowanwood Avenue, Unit 3
Neighbourhood: Rosedale-Moore Park
Agent:
Christopher Andrew Bibby, Sutton Group Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage
Price: $815,000

The Place: A sprawling second-floor apartment in a seven-unit brick building from 1913.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford tries 31 times to derail John Tory’s budget

now-what-newCity council approved mayor John Tory’s first budget on Wednesday evening, but not before reckoning with a classic Rob Ford sideshow. The former mayor and current Ward 2 councillor moved 31 motions on the budget—far more than any other councillor. Each one was an attempt to dismantle some small part of Tory’s spending plan, by doing things like reducing the amount of money the city spends on planting trees, eliminating security guards at libraries and cutting the mayor’s office budget. Like most of what Ford does politically, these proposals were mainly symbolic. He tabled them to create a fuss, probably with no expectation that any of them would become law. For the most part, they didn’t. City council voted 29 of them down. (Two minor ones—on the city’s grants program and its purchasing management—passed.)

The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: my life revolves around trying to get inside my autistic daughter’s head

Memoir: My Girl

I always considered myself a confident and capable mom. My husband, Al, and I had two daughters: Naya, born in 2006, and Sienna, born in 2008. We’d survived the temper tantrums, the sleepless nights, the playground injuries. I even ran a social group for new mothers. And yet nothing could have prepared me for the arrival of Téa, our third daughter.

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Real Estate

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House of the Week: $1.6 million for a Little Italy Victorian with a rental unit

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Address: 392 Markham Street
Neighbourhood: Palmerston-Little Italy
Agent: Ophira Sutton, Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage
Price: $1,590,000

The Place: A well-maintained Victorian semi in Little Italy, with lots of classic details.

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Transit

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Is the Union Pearson Express cushy enough to justify its $27 ticket price? What you’ll be shelling out for

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

If Metrolinx’s fancy new Union Pearson Express works as advertised upon its expected launch later this year, its trains will whisk passengers from Union Station directly to Pearson Airport in just 25 minutes. The biggest turn-off for most potential riders will be the price: each trip to or from the airport will cost Presto-using adults $19 (or $27.50 without Presto), making the line a luxury reserved for those who can afford to pay for the privilege of getting to their gates without ever setting foot on the 192 Airport Rocket. At a preview event on Monday, a few reporters became some of the first members of the public to take a ride on the UP Express. Were the new train cars and station platforms cushy enough to justify the premium price? Take a closer look at our annotated photos to find out.

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Each car of every UP Express train has its own engine, a diesel-burning Cummins six-cylinder with 760 horsepower. The trains, built by the Sumitomo Corporation in Japan, are technically capable of speeds up to 145 kilometres per hour, but in practice they’ll never exceed 90.
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A spokesperson says these Y-shaped columns are supposed to symbolize the “freedom and worry-free” feeling of arriving at Pearson.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: what should I do about an annoying e-biker?

Dear Urban Diplomat: what should I do about an annoying e-biker?

(Image: Carlos Felipe Pardo/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,

Every day on my commute along Eastern Avenue, this guy on an electric bike zooms past my car, sometimes in the bike lane, sometimes weaving between cars, sometimes popping up onto the sidewalk for a few metres before plonking back onto the street. It’s maddening. Short of gently nudging him with my bumper, what should I do?

—Driven to Despair, Cliffside

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The Informer

Best Bets

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See the National Ballet’s biggest hit, catch Molly Parker onstage and eight more things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: Matt Bahen's Once it’s Gone, You’ll Know You’ve Heard It All Your Life, courtesy of Le Gallery; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Cylla von Tiedemann; Spoon River Anthology, by Cylla von Tiedemann; Junko Mizuno's Noodles, courtesy of Narwhal Contemporary)

(Images, clockwise from top left: Matt Bahen’s Once it’s Gone, You’ll Know You’ve Heard It All Your Life, courtesy of Le Gallery; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Cylla von Tiedemann; Spoon River Anthology, by Cylla von Tiedemann; Junko Mizuno’s Noodles, courtesy of Narwhal Contemporary)

1. Revisit the National Ballet’s exhilarating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Karen Kain’s supreme achievement in her tenure as the National Ballet’s artistic director was this extravagant full-length production from the superstar British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, originally staged in 2011. The ballet is a jewel-toned Victorian fantasy that blends classical romantic steps with futuristic multimedia installations—it never gets old. March 14 to 29. From $26. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595, national.ballet.ca.

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The Informer

People

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Ten things Denzil Minnan-Wong can’t live without

The outspoken city councillor—and Toronto’s backup mayor—shares the 10 things he can’t live without


Ten things Denzil Minnan-Wong can’t live without

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My car
I’m a car guy. I used to have a Porsche 928 S4 and a BMW 328. Those days are gone (I’m a family man now), but I love driving alone in my Subaru Forester. I come into the city from North York every morning and watch the sun glint off the towers.

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