Holidays

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Dear Urban Diplomat: what should I do with neighbours who still have their tacky Christmas decorations up?

Dear Urban Diplomat,
Christmas 2013 is long gone, and yet the house on my corner remains festooned with yuletide paraphernalia: a giant Santa, an inflatable candy-cane archway and reindeer—plus, inexplicably, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Snoopy figurines. The scene looks like some hillbilly carnival and is no small source of agitation for my wife and me. I want to tell these purveyors of bad taste to pack it up. How should I do it, and is there some bylaw with which I can arm myself?

—Ixnay on the Xmas Stuff Already, Beach Triangle

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The Goods

Shopping

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Holiday Gift Guide 2012: a Fred Perry cycling shirt designed by a Tour de France champ

With taxis, streetcar tracks, cars and rogue pedestrians to contend with, biking in Toronto can feel like a high-stakes road race. This Fred Perry shirt, designed by seven-time Olympic medalist and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, will help the cycle commuter in your life feel up to the challenge. Wiggins, a fan of 1960s style, took inspiration from vintage woolen jerseys, rather than the skin-tight suits in eye-popping colours worn in today’s peloton. Thank goodness. $105. See 21 other fashion gifts »

Available at Fred Perry, 964 Queen St. W., 416-538-3733.

The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: Can I ask the host of a party to open the wine I brought?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Champagne Wishes

(Image: comedy_nose)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I brought back an excellent champagne from Paris and was waiting for a special occasion to open it. I decided to bring it, chilled, to a friend’s holiday party. She squealed with delight and said, “Ooh, I’m going to save this for New Year’s,” then tucked it away in the liquor cabinet and served cheap prosecco for the rest of the evening. I silently debated asking her to open the bottle all night but never mustered the nerve. What should I have done?
—Champagne Wishes, Thornhill

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The Informer

People

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VIDEO: Ryan Gosling celebrates the holidays drunk and in his P.J.s (so, like many)

Those not familiar with Funnyordie.com’s Drunk History videos have a lot of catching up to do, but a good place to start is the most recent Christmas edition featuring Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and Jim Carrey (as Santa). Comedian and writer Allan McLeod retells “A Visit from St. Nicholas” after downing a bottle of whisky (we don’t endorse this behaviour, obviously—have one glass, maybe two), and the Almighty Goz wears a night cap and lies in bed with his is-she-or-isn’t-she girlfriend Mendes. It’s enough to make us laugh (but we understand if the sight of not being Goz’s bed companion makes you a little jealous. It could have been you).

The Informer

People

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Justin Bieber’s Massey Hall Christmas concert sells out in 30 minutes (prepare to be gouged by scalpers)

Do you have $1,999 to spare? That’s the highest price we’ve seen for a single front-row ticket on eBay for Justin Bieber’s Christmas concert at Massey Hall on December 21. Tickets for the show went on sale Sunday and sold out in 30 minutes; that means young boys and girls were armed with a parent’s credit card in front of their computers, but not everyone was rewarded for their time with a golden ticket. All proceeds from the concert will be going to the Biebz’s Believe charity, and the concert will be taped live for his upcoming Home for the Holidays TV special. Unfortunately, the $1,999 that a lonely person pays for a single front-row ticket will go toward lining the pockets of some sleazeball. Buyer beware.

Home for the Holidays airs Friday, December 23 at 1 p.m. (CTV), 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. (MuchMusic); Saturday, December 24 at 5:30 p.m. (CTV), 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. (MuchMusic); Saturday, December 25 at 6:30 p.m. (CTV) and 9 p.m. (MuchMusic); Monday, December 26 at 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. (MuchMusic); Tuesday, December 27 at 8 a.m. (MuchMusic); Sunday, January 1 at 8 p.m. (MuchMusic); and Tuesday, January 3 at 4 p.m. (MuchMusic).

The Dish

Food Porn

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12 delicious days of Christmas, from candy cane ice pops to yule logs filled with mousse cake

Bannock’s holiday tourtière

This time of year, it takes a strong will not to indulge, whether it be in the beautiful pastries and cakes spilling out of patisserie windows or the drinks at a holiday party. We say, why even try? We’ve rounded up some of our favourites, along with a few other gifts that your food-obsessed friends are sure to love (including one salve for those who’ve indulged just a little too much).

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The Informer

Events

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Today in Toronto: Creole Christmas

Creole Christmas Founded in 1961, the much-loved Preservation Hall Jazz Band preserves and celebrates the art form that is New Orleans jazz. Named after the French Quarter building where the original group met and played, the ensemble has taken its smoky southern jazz sound as far afield as Carnegie Hall. Find out more »

The Goods

Shopping

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The brand new Glory Box pop-up shop boasts massive discounts on Le Creuset, Versace and more

There are many reasons to get excited about the holidays, but elbowing a mom for an iron skillet during a sale at Williams-Sonoma is not one of them. Seriously, people get crazy during the holiday rush, but pop-up shops—those here today, gone tomorrow stores that have been popular for years—get us away from malls and big-box retailers, and there’s a new kid on the block: Glory Box. Local girls Natalie Petozzi and Abigail Van Den Broek have sourced housewares from Le Creuset, Staub, Breville and Pottery Barn Kids, and clothing from Versace, Tiger of Sweden and more. The pop-up shop will be bursting at the seams with stuff, and everything is marked up to 75 per cent off. This means that you’ll seem like you broke the bank on people when in reality you paid pennies on the dollar (not really in line with the consumerism of the season, but we’ll never tell). Glory Box’s pop-up hours are Saturday, December 17 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Glory Box pop-up shop, 37 Bulwer St. (just north of Queen St. W.)

The Informer

Features

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The Conversation: The Book of Awesome author Neil Pasricha laughs it up with Jessica Holmes

The Conversation: Laugh it Up

The place: Tequila Bookworm at Queen and Portland.
The people: Neil Pasricha and Jessica Holmes.
The subject: Surviving the holidays

For those who prefer not to drink themselves into oblivion over the holidays, there are other ways to survive the stress of the season. Neil Pasricha and Jessica Holmes, for example, are big believers in the power of positive thinking (though they wouldn’t necessarily turn down a strategically spiked eggnog). Pasricha is the relentlessly enthusiastic mind behind the mega-selling phenomenon The Book of Awesome and its sequels, including a new, holiday-themed volume. The books, which began life as a daily blog listing all things you-know-what, have made Pasricha a positivity guru who brings his gospel of awesomeness to conferences and corporate workshops (when he’s not working his day job as a human resources manager in Mississauga). Holmes is best known for her stint on the Royal Canadian Air Farce. Following the publication of her 2010 memoir I Love Your Laugh, she began a second career as a motivational speaker, preaching emotional healing through humour. Holmes is currently onstage in Ross Petty’s holiday panto version of The Wizard of Oz, playing (of course) the Good Witch Splenda.

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The Informer

Events

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Today in Toronto: A Spanish Christmas, Toronto Motorcycle Show and more

A Spanish Christmas Don’t expect mariachi: the Toronto Consort specializes in music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the early baroque period. Find out more »

Chris Tarry Group Chris Tarry has no respect for boundaries. Not only is this electric bass player the winner of three Juno Awards, he’s also a short story writer who was shortlisted for Ireland’s Fish Short Story Prize. Find out more »

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The Goods

Shopping

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GALLERY: Our 10 picks from this year’s—somewhat kitschy—Toronto Christmas Market

Handmade toys from Blythe for the tots on your list (Image: Caroline Aksich)

The folks behind the second annual Toronto Christmas Market are trying to bring a touch of Old World European Christmas magic to a presently dreary—and snow-free—Toronto. With a 45-foot Christmas tree decked out with close to 20,000 lights, a charming carousel and a Ferris wheel that looks over the twinkling Distillery District, there’s enough to keep the kids occupied while you get some shopping out of the way. The Christmas Market is open daily until December 18 (weekdays from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., weekends from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.). We perused the 35 vendors’ wares to cull the treasures from the knick-knacks. See what made the cut after the jump.

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The Goods

Stores

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Battle of the department store windows: wherein Lady Gaga makes Christmas about Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s crystal cave—whatever that means (Image: Courtesy of Barney’s New York)

There’s so much to love about the holidays in a city: the aroma of freshly prepared seasonal drinks to get us going in the morning, hearing carols inside shops, fresh snow blanketing our favourite monuments and the many festive window displays at nearly every department store. Fashion magazine takes a look at the windows of popular department stores Holt Renfrew and The Bay and puts them side by side with Lady Gaga’s Barneys windows (which barely have anything to do with the holidays), Ogilvy’s woodland-themed tableaus, Bergdorf Goodman’s gaudy gilded birdcage and more. How do The Bay and Holt Renfrew’s efforts compare to the show-offs in New York? Take a look at the gallery and pick your favourite in Fashion’s poll »

The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: Memphis, DJ Skate Night and six other items on our to-do list

The Weekender: Slow Food Toronto, DJ Skate Night and Memphis

1. DJ SKATE NIGHT (FREE!)
We’re more into huddling by a fire with hot chocolate than actually skating (is there such a thing as après-skate? Because that would be more our speed), but even we’re excited to take a spin around the Harbourfront Centre’s lakeside rink to the sounds of Rihanna, Drake and Jully Black, thanks to DJs from Flow 93.5. If “We Found Love” isn’t really your jam, never fear: upcoming nights will focus on house, funk and reggae. Saturdays, Dec. 10 to Feb. 18 (except Christmas and New Year’s Eve). Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.

2. MEMPHIS
The ’50s may not have the same progressive history as the ’60s, but they had their share of cultural milestones: from technological (hello, Sputnik) to cultural (hello, Elvis Presley). This Tony-winning musical, set in Memphis, Tennessee, follows a white radio DJ and a black club singer who are caught up in the evolving rock ’n’ roll music scene—and each other. To Dec. 24. $51–$180. Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., 416-644-3665, dancaptickets.com.

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People

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VIDEO: Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey engage in some creepy Christmas flirtation (and product placement)

It’s December, which means increased spending, seasonal coffees (some Irish) and carols to tide us over until spring. To get us even more into the holiday spirit (or to encourage us to retreat to the woods), Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey have teamed up to sing Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” for a holiday Macy’s ad music video. The tune is catchy as always (Carey’s carol is still one of the best), but we can’t help but feel a little weirded out. All Carey seems to want for Christmas is, er, the Biebz: the 41-year-old strokes her body and presents herself against a wall with her rump in the air, while the 17-year-old Bieber ogles Carey in her skimpy décolletage-revealing outfit. Not to be crass, but she looks visibly excited at the prospect of mistletoe, and the two end up in a sleigh together (we’re not so sure the addition of a puppy makes it seem less perverse). The only thing that tears Bieber away from his latest cougar conquest (and thank goodness) is a Nintendo 3DS, which gets almost as much screen time as Carey’s backside.

The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: La Bohème, The Wizard of Oz and six other items on our to-do list

The Weekender: Gingerbread Build, Ghostface Killah and The Wizard of Oz

1. LA BOHÈME
La Bohème
is an oft-performed piece of work—sometimes that means a complete reworking (like we’ve seen in other famous productions, like Rent), but other times it’s a slightly gentler update, like this production from Against The Grain Theatre, which is set in Toronto and performed in English. This adaptation retains Puccini’s characters and music, so purists will still find something to marvel at. To Dec. 3. $35–$50. The Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Ave., againstthegraintheatre.com.

2. THE WIZARD OF OZ
Trust Ross Petty to make an already out-there show even more out there. This year’s fractured fairy tale takes Dorothy’s (Elicia MacKenzie) adventures up a notch: she’s blown away to Oz with her faithful pup Toto and spirited aunt Plumbum (Dan Chameroy). While there, she meets a somewhat unfamiliar cast of characters: the Good Witch Splenda (Royal Canadian Air Farce’s Jessica Holmes), the Tin Man (Yvan Pedneault), the Cowardly Lion (Steve Ross) and the Scarecrow (Kyle Blair). And, of course, the Wicked Witch of the West, brought to life by Petty himself. To Jan. 6. $27–$85. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.

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