Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Sunday was the Toronto Zombie Walk. I'm not sure exactly when the tradition started or where or even really why, but it was quite a sight to behold. My friend B and I have been trying to get out to take some photos for a while now so I figured what better chance than a giant public spectacle. He drove downtown Sunday afternoon and we set out for Trinity-Bellwoods park. We were a little worried because B had gotten into town a bit late. About a block from the park we were excited for our first zombie sighting! Then they turned around. It turns out regular Toronto street punks have a striking resemblance to zombies.

The organizers gathered everyone in the pit at the park. It was awesome. Some people were just lightly made up but some were dressed to the nines. Some of them were creepy and some of them were hilarious. There were theme zombies, too: Where's Waldo, Elvis, the Hippie Zombie or Hipbie as I like to say. People had zombie rights signs. There was enough fake blood to choke a horse. And plastic brains. And fake body parts. There was one guy with an axe in his chest who simply shuffled along slowly, stopping every few steps to chew thoughtfully on the fleshy end of a full sized human arm, severed above the elbow.

Some people even brought their children. At one point a guy lurched around the corner with a knife sticking out of his chest. Attached to the knife was a hand. Attached the hand was a child. The kid spent the whole day following his dad around attached by the knife in his chest. "How's that working out for you?" I asked. Not well, considering his dad continued to lurch, undaunted by the kitchen utensil interrupting his internal organs. I wonder how many sessions with a therapist the Zombie Walk will occupy when that kid is older.

In the end, I managed to shoot over 400 pictures. B shot a similarly obscene number. All-in-all it was very successful. I had a lot of fun. Everyone who came out was very friendly and a good sport. At one point, we were talking to some random strangers and B said he was enjoying it so much they should do two zombie walks a year. Maybe one in the spring. You know, around Easter.

"That wouldn't work," I asserted. "Everyone knows there's only one Easter zombie: Jesus."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lousy Helpful Stranger

I tend to be very good at losing things. Important things. Wallets, passports, important pieces of paper, keys, cell phones, you name it. Fortunately, these objects have a curious way of finding their way back to me. It's kind of uncanny.

Our office summer party was held on Toronto's Center Island, a short ferry ride away from downtown, but by virtue of that fact, definitely out of the city, in practice. The morning of the office party, I awoke to discover that my wallet had gone missing. By the process of elimination, I managed to deduce that it was either A) in the gutter somewhere between an Indian restaurant out Gerrard and Coxwell and my house or B) in the Alumni Theatre. I had seen some improv there the previous evening.

I finally reached someone at the theatre and they said they didn't know if my wallet was in the theatre. I should try to contact the improv troupe as they were in charge of the theatre for the duration of their run. Being actors, none of them would be up until about 4PM. I had vague plans to be on the 5:30 ferry with a bunch of my coworkers. I finally managed to talk to someone from the improv troupe just before leaving the office. They had found my wallet in the audience! I could come pick it up after the office party.

So I hauled ass over to the office party and had a good old time. Also, a cold, wet old time, as I was the first person to go in the dunk tank. I think I probably also spent the most time in the dunk tank out of anyone. In any case, eventually the party wound down and it was time to head back to the mainland and grab my wallet at the theatre and head to the after party. I went to grab my cell phone out of my pocket to send a text message before leaving. Bam. No cell phone. So here I am, freezing to death on Center Island, about to miss my ferry and completely bereft of wallet and cell phone. I chose to give up the search for the cell phone, as it was now quite dark, and take the ferry back with my coworkers.

I got the wallet back. I tried, unsuccessfully to call my phone from other phones.

The next morning I got an MSN message from my friend T. Someone had found my phone and given T his number! He was on the island. I called him from my house phone, took the ferry over and got my phone. It had fallen out of my pocket when I was drunk and climbing trees. Let that be a lesson to me. Yeah, right. I asked him how he'd managed to give my number to T. He said he just went to my phone book and looked for a girl's name. I laughed. Apparently people who don't know me still know me pretty well.

The way my lost objects always seem to find their ways home is quite handy, sometimes. Unfortunately, though, it can backfire.

I was at the movies with L on Friday night.
"I have to go pee," I told her.
"Me too. Hold this," she said, handing me her shopping bag, which I automatically took, being taken off guard. A split second later I realized what had happened.

The bathrooms at this particular movie theatre are up a flight of stairs. I raced up the stairs ahead of her and dropped the shopping bag on the top step. I turned around to watch the look of dismay on her face only to be confronted by a stranger with a helpful grin on his face, holding the bag I'd dropped. I glumly took it from him and said, "thanks." I'm not sure if I've ever seen L look so smug.

The joke's on her, though: I made sure I touched the bag with my hands before I washed them.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Muscle Memory

I grew up in the Niagara region but I live in Toronto now. It's a little less than 200km, I think from downtown Toronto to my parents' house. My parents live in a small town and on top of that it's not really in the town so much as on the outskirts of it.

The important part is that I didn't have a lot of local entertainment growing up. Pretty much any time I wanted to have fun, it required driving to Niagara Falls or St Catherine's or Welland. All three have movie theatres. Niagara Falls had Clifton Hill, which is the main tourist drag. It's got arcades and haunted houses and really good people watching. St Catherine's and Welland have malls. Any time I wanted to find anything that was even remotely exotic, I had to go to one of those malls. I spent a lot of time in malls as a teenager. There really isn't a lot to do in the Niagara region.

I also spent a lot of time driving around with no particular destination. There isn't a lot to do but there are a lot of roads. I used to really enjoy driving when it was mostly done bombing around those sparsely populated rural areas. I used to be able to find my way home from almost anywhere without a map.

The trip from Toronto to my parents' house is not that hard. It involves 1 highway and 2 roads after the highway. I used to be able to do door to door from my place downtown in about an hour and a half and that was without breaking the speed limit too much. With the volume of traffic these days, and construction, I haven't made the trip in under 2 hours in over a year. One time this summer it took almost 3 hours. Stupid construction.

Fortunately, this time, I had advanced warning about the traffic so I decided to take an alternate route. I exited the QEW at the 406, which goes through St Catherine's, to circumvent the clog. No map in the car, but no problem, right? I grew up doing this. Apparently my brain doesn't remember all that highschool wandering. I drove past the exit I needed to get me back to the QEW. I got off and turned around and missed the exit again.

Finally, exasperated, I got off the highway and drove to the big mall in St Catherine's. Evidently I spent enough time at that mall that I managed to make it home from there without even thinking. Good old muscle memory.