Screemers is a Screaming Good Time

The Undead

Last weekend, I was invited to check out Screemers at the Queen Elizabeth Building. With some reluctance I decide to accept the invite but I had a hell of a time trying to find someone brave enough to come along with me. Eventually my sister stepped up as my partner in fear, but admitted to me on our way there, that being scared, was not one of her favourite things.

Never in my life have either of us been to a haunted fun house before, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. When we arrived, we started at a house called The Darkness. Little did we know, this house was cloaked in complete darkness. As we clawed around to feel our way through, whispers and sinister laughter greeted us in the dark. My sister was unimpressed and was clenching to my arm as we made our way through, greeted by the occasional freak in the darkness. Afterward, she was done, and we had only just begun.

The Darkness

Outside the Queen Elizabeth Building, they had a mini midway set-up outside along with a House called Field of Screams. With a bit of coaxing, I convinced my sister to join me for at least one more house. We ended up going through the house with another random couple, getting startled throughout. I found the situation quite hilarious, but for my sister, her nerves were still a little shaken. Let me just say, if the freaks in the houses realize you are scared, they will definitely target you in your group. It’s quite amusing, if you are a witness to this, but quite terrifying for those who show fear.

Luckily, we were joined by a couple of other friends for the rest of the evening, which made the other houses more manageable (for my sister) and much more fun for me.

The crash

Here is what I learned from the night.

A) Do the haunted house with a group of friends, this is definitely on of those situations, where there mantra the more the merrier applies.

B) Make sure that your party consists of one sarcastic friend, one scared friend and one girl or guys who knows how to scream.

C) Come dressed up. I personally wore a Griz-Coat (Bear Costume) and scared a few people myself. Plus the freaks in the houses tend to target you less often.

I ended up having a much better time than expected and would likely do it again. If you want to #LiveTheFear, Screemers is running in Toronto and Hamilton over the next two weeks. Gather your favourite ghosts, ghouls and monsters and check it out.

Photojunkie’s 2014 Mayoral Poll

We decide to conduct a non-scientific poll to see who would win the mayoral vote.

How would you vote?

Who will you be voting for as the next Mayor of Toronto?

 
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Nuit Blanche Toronto 2014

Nuit Blanche 2014 Live Blog

Another Nuit Blanche has come and gone and I spent the majority of it zipping around town, catching various installations. Here is what I saw…

What did you enjoy the most from Nuit Blanche?

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How to Survive Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto

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This weekend Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche Toronto is celebrating it’s 9th year with another fantastic night of programming. If you have never experienced Nuit Blanche, it is a celebration of arts and culture in the city of Toronto, which takes place from dusk on Saturday til dawn on Sunday.

Every year, I have participated in the event (except for one year when I was in Vancouver), either as a rogue photo booth, as well as an active viewer. And each year, I have witnessed arts and culture which truly highlight local and global talents. As a seasoned veteran, who has survived the night from start to finish, I thought I would share some tips and tricks to help you survive and enjoy Nuit Blanche to it’s fullest.

Stay in Charge. We live in a connected world, between taking pictures of all the installations and sharing them on your social networks, and texting your friends to find out where they are, you can easily drain your battery before the night is through.

Make sure you fully charge your phone before you leave the house. If you have a Mophie case or external battery, bring it along or at least bring your charging cord so you can make necessary charging breaks. One year, I found myself plugged into a wall at a random building behind city hall at 3 in the morning, that short stop helped extend my sharing power that night.

Turning off your LTE or 3G is another battery saving trick to extend your battery life, since using a lower data stream requires less battery power. One year, I carried an empty frame through the streets of Toronto, doing a portrait photo series, through out the night. The project required me to tweet my location to my followers and this trick made it possible for my device to last until 7am.


Highlighted Interactive Installations
Amaze, 2014 | Shy Lights, 2014 | The Fortune-Teller Machine – Zardoz, 2014 | Open Mind, 2014 | Between Doors, 2014

Amaze, 2014 Shy Lights, 2014 The Fortune-Teller Machine – Zardoz, 2014 Open Mind, 2014 Between Doors, 2014


Disco Nap. Nuit Blanche is an event that lasts 12 hours, It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I usually try and see as much as I can throughout the night, so I start early and stay late. Taking a nap on Saturday afternoon, will help you get through the long night, especially if you are as dedicated as I am.

Be Comfortable. This should go without saying, but wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather and bring snacks. Nuit Blanche requires a lot of walking from installation to installation, so ladies, this isn’t a time to wear your highest heels. Dress for the weather, it looks like it will be quite cool and possibly wet. Last year, it rained towards the end of the night, but we came prepared. And it doesn’t hurt to pack a water and multiple snacks. You are gonna get hungry. There will be a number of places open around the city, as well as food trucks, but it’s good to have options on hand when the need arises.

Get Around. This year, there are 4 highlighted areas (City Hall, Chinatown, Queen West and Bremner) for Nuit Blanche, however there are a ton of installations all across the downtown core. Most people will be walking through the night, but the best way to get around is to have a bike to get you from one end of the city to the other (don’t forget your lights and helmet). If biking isn’t your style, the TTC is offering a special Nuit Blanche branded metropass again this year for $11 (which is great for 1 or 2 adults, or 1 adult and up to 5 children)

Start Later. Do you hate large crowds and long lines? Consider starting your Nuit Blanche adventure after midnight. It will give you a chance to follow along social media to see what everyone is talking about, and you can formulate a plan of attack. Often 2am hits, the majority of the art goers start to head home. Lines are shorter or non existent and you have more room to enjoy the art in a civilized manner.


Highlighted Visual Installations
Global Rainbow, 2009 | Made in China, 2014 | Walk Among Worlds, 2013 | Big Top Grand Stand, 2014 | ABSOLUTE SPACE, 2014

Global Rainbow, 2009 Made in China, 2014 Walk Among Worlds, 2013 Big Top Grand Stand, 2014 ABSOLUTE SPACE, 2014


Be Flexible. Having a loose plan is good, but be flexible enough to stray from your plan on a moments notice. Don’t stick to a timeline set in stone. Undoubtably you will read something on twitter about a must see installation. Or perhaps you will bump into friends and they will tell you about the most amazing thing that they have seen that night. The worst is arriving at an installation to discover that there is a 2 hour wait.

Be flexible, stray off your path, or decide to come back to busy installations after 2am.

Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag. it’s #snbTO. Please share your favourite installations on social and use the hashtag to track what everyone is loving. There is nothing worse than finding out you missed THE installation of the night, simply cause you didn’t know. The best places to follow the hashtag are on instagram and on twitter.

Follow Photojunkie This year, I am going to attempt to live blog my Nuit Blanche adventure. I’ll be tweeting @photojunkie all the latest as I come across it. I’ll likely share on tumblr, vine and instagram as well. And So join me virtually.


Most of all have fun, be courteous, become a part of the art and not just a viewer of it.

What are your tips to surviving Nuit Blanche? Which exhibits are you most excited to see?

Blogger Profile: Brock Dishart – BrockPapers.ca

Brock Dishart

Brock Dishart is a Web Producer at TFO, the French-language public broadcaster of Ontario, where he works on a music show that showcases emerging acts (Francophone and Anglophone) and new music. He also runs his own music blog in his spare time that focuses on Canadian music with an emphasis on creating a bilingual environment in order to facilitate a cultural exchange between Francophone Canadians and Anglophone Canadians.

Twitter Facebook Instagram Flickr

When did you start your blog and why?

I started my blog in May 2010. I had always been into music and my friends and co-workers always complimented my musical tastes and liked discovering new music through me. One of my co-workers suggested that I start my own blog (I bet they probably wanted me to stop posting shit and spamming their Facebook timeline in hindsight…) so I did! That is how my blog originally started out: as a space to share new music for people to discover.

Over the year’s though, I like to use it as a space to still showcase new talent but I put the focus on Canadian artists (although not exclusively) and on Franco-Canadian artists. I really want to help expose French Canadian culture to Anglophone Canadians. Especially because it is a culture that is so rich with so many talented artists… And I hope in the long run that helping exposing people to French Canadian culture it could help bring the two closer together. Probably a little naïve but at least I’m trying, okay!?

How would you describe your musical tastes?

Eclectic… as much as I hate reading that. I like all sorts of different kinds of music. I will say that I tend to lean towards liking female artists more then male ones. Right now I am really into Salomé Leclerc and her new album “27 fois l’aurore” is amazing, TOPS and their new album “Picture You Staring”, and Bernhari and his self-titled debut album.

where or how do you discover new music or bands?

I like wandering around music festivals by myself, I find a lot that way. Also through work, social media, friends, and other blogs like my own.

In a city with so many music festivals, venues and shows, how do you decide what you want to see?

This is one of the things that makes me feel like a bad blogger… I don’t find a lot of festivals appealing enough for me to go to in Toronto. A lot of 102.1 The Edge stuff that I am just not really into. However, my favourites are Canadian Music Week because they always incorporate French artists and showcases into their festival, Indie Week because it is always fun to find brand new acts that are still learning and evolving, and of course NXNE for bringing in the popular acts and because it is a fun time in the summer – they need to work on their French content though! I will say one thing though – We need more winter festivals!

Favorite venue in the city and why?

I love[d] the El Mocambo (RIP), Sneaky Dee’s, and The Dakota. I do think that Toronto needs some new venues though. If I won the lottery one of the things I would love to do is make an amazing venue – something like Harpa, in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Brock Dishart

How did Social Media help land you your current job? and what do you do there?

I got my current job as Web Producer at TFO for a music TV and Web show that promotes new French music through connections I made on Twitter. I got noticed because I blogged about similar content and I ended up making friends with people that worked at TFO. Through them I landed my job as the Associate Web Producer where I worked mainly on Social Media. Now, as Web Producer, I manage a team of collaborators/bloggers and work on developing and maintaining our website. I also work on the film production as well – CinéTFO. Oh, I also get to listen to awesome music and promote cool artists that deserve support!

How do you feel about this year’s Polaris Prize winner?

I was lucky enough to attend the Polaris Prize gala this week in Toronto and I was so happy with the results. My top two choices for the prize were Tanya Tagaq and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, but since the winner is usually somewhat of a disappointment I figured Drake or Arcade Fire was going to win. Nothing against them, I just root for the underdog and really want artists that need the money to get the money – and I think Tagaq really deserved it. It’s not just anybody who can throat sing!

Fave album of 2014 thus far?

Impossible to choose one so I’ll choose a few (in no particular order):

weaves

Weaves – Weaves
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
Salomé Leclerc – 27 fois l’aurore
Bernhari – Bernhari
TOPS – Picture You Staring

What is the most memorable concert you have been to this year?

Most memorable concert of 2014 was the Weaves concert for SummerWorks – You just had to be there.

who is your musical Guilty Pleasure?

My guilty pleasure would probably be Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Kelly Rowland, Kelis… You see where I’m going with this…

Brock Dishart

You can find Brock’s Music blog at BrockPapers.ca

Vivek Shraya, An Exploration of Love and Pain

Vivek Shraya

Growing up gay was never an easy task for me. Society fills our heads with preconceived notions of who we should be, who we should love and how we should live our lives. To this day, I still struggle for validation of my actions and choices, often finding myself bound by the chains to conform and the need to please those around me. Reading Vivek Shraya’s first novel, She of the Mountains has opened up a world of self exploration, changing how I view love and pain and ultimately how I view myself and the world around me. It was personal and transformative.

You're Gay, You're Gay, You're GayYou're Gay, You're Gay, You're GayYou're Gay, You're Gay, You're Gay

Vivek Shraya puts into words, many unspoken feelings and emotions I have found myself carrying over the years. I constantly had moments of familiarity, while reading the novel, despite the differences in narrative to my own. Vivek brilliantly constructs and breaks down his characters in such an intimate and quirky way, dropping any preconceived notions, bringing honesty and realism to his work. His protagonists are genuine in their triumphs and struggles, in their love, confusion and pain, that you feel like you actually know them, or perhaps are them.

She of the Mountains is a novel that crafts and weaves together two narratives, a re-imagined Hindu mythology and a contemporary love story. In both streams, Vivek breaks down what it means to love and to be loved, despite one’s environment or predisposition. He ultimately takes us, and me personally, on a journey of discovery, identity and self awareness.

Vivek Shraya - She of the Mountains

Vivek Shraya is a multidisciplinary artist; a writer, musician, performer and film-maker. Originally from Edmonton, he now calls Toronto home.

I had the pleasure of shooting Vivek for this blog post and attending his book launch in Toronto, at the historic Gladstone Hotel. The pure talent that exudes from Vivek Shraya is simply amazing. He is a smart, calculated, humorous, giving and genuinely humble artist. During his book launch alone, he read, performed, sang, and was charismatic and witty during his interview, a true jack of all trades.

During our time together, we talked about his music, his religion background, being queer and his role models growing up. But the more I dig into his body of work, I quickly realized that the person he is and the values he holds are all reflected and recreated in the various and varied projects he has completed over the years. So instead of boring you with details, I urge you to journey over to his website and discover the man and the artist that is Vivek Shraya.

Vivek Shraya will being touring across Canada and the US over the next 3 months, so find out when he is in your city and go see him.

She of the Mountains is published and sold by Arsenal Pulp Press and is also available for pre-order from Amazon.ca.