Gatsby Garden Party 2017!


A few weeks ago, I attended the annual Gatsby Garden Party at Spadina House (Museum).

It was my fourth year attending!  Below is my gentleman friend in front of the historic home.


Spadina Museum is a historic house and grounds in the city of Toronto. In my opinion, it is Toronto’s best historic site.

To read more about the history of the Spadina (Austin family) home and previous Gatsby parties, please visit my previous posts on the event here and here.

On to this year’s event!

While it was a cloudy day,


that did not keep the garden party-goers away.

Here are a few finely-dressed ladies watching the costume contest:


Below are some of my favourite 1920s looks from the contest.

My friend Missy’s opium den girl look is sublime!


My gentleman friend’s whiskey-smuggler look is the bee’s knees!


Other honourable mentions:








Here are the costume contest winners!


Those two adorable dogs in the front row were even dressed up 🙂

This little girl told me that she was “a black and white photograph.”


I also entered the contest, to no avail (however, I did win two years ago!)


The kimono is an antique. I think it is actually from the 1920s or earlier.


Here are my fabulous friends Sapphyre and Missy showing off their outfits:



Other than the costume contest, activities included strolling the grounds and exploring the Austin home.


One could also enjoy the gardens, vineyard, and orchard.



Observing or participating in a Charleston dance lesson was a popular choice,


as was listening to one of the many 1920s style bands.


Partygoers could also enjoy music being played on antique gramophones.


I can’t wait to relive the 1920s again for a day next year!

Stay tuned!




Review: Midsummer (a play with songs) – Tarragon Theatre

A couple of weekends ago, I was lucky to see Tarragon Theatre‘s production of Midsummer (a play with songs) with my friend and fellow blogger The Culture Fancier.

It had been a while since I saw a professional theatre show at one of the big three Toronto playhouses dedicated to presenting new Canadian work (Factory Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille being the other two). I usually go to theatre festivals such as Fringe and Summerworks, attend contemporary dance shows and concerts at Harbourfront Centre and see operas at the COC, but I do not attend as much (non-musical, professional) theatre as I would like to.

Seeing Midsummer made me wonder why I had stayed away so long, and reminded me why I fell in love with theatre in the first place.

The show was marketed as a kind of romantic comedy; so I wasn’t sure what to expect, since that is not my favourite genre.  I was therefore pleased to discover that while the show is romantic, it is by no means syrupy, cavity-inducing sweet.

The main characters are flawed, slightly cynical, world-weary people who have been-there-done-that as far as youthful romance goes. They are now a bit older – I would say mid 30s, and are not necessarily looking for romance when they happen to meet one midsummer’s night.

Bob (Brandon McGibbon) is a petty criminal and failed poet/musician. Helena (Carly Street) is a divorce lawyer in a failing relationship who drinks too much. They meet in a bar in Edinburgh, and are not each other’s type, but something draws them together. What starts as a one-night stand turns into a wild weekend of adventure and rap video-worthy spending sprees courtesy of a large amount of illicit cash that Bob acquires. Will the have a future past this wild midsummer’s night?

The two actors are wonderful.  They play all of the characters in the show – not only Bob and Helena, but Helena’s nephew, Bob’s criminal boss, goth kids they meet in the park, et cetera. The actors also frequently explain the characters’ thoughts and set up situations for the audience. This is all done seamlessly.

The set consists of four metal trunks (the kind roadies use to put sound and lighting equipment in for shows). Two of the trunks are pink, and two are black, with the words “Mary,” “Jesus,” “Spike,” and “Buffy” printed on them. These trunks, with the help of a few simple props, become everything that is needed for the play – a bedroom, a bar, an expensive wine shop, the staircase outside of a church. The actors manage to arrange the trunks and props throughout the play while in character, and without missing a single beat.

The songs, performed mostly by Bob (Brandon McGibbon), are more like blues/pop tunes than musical theatre type songs. They work very well in the production and are often prefaced by Bob’s poetry, which I thought was quite good. In fact, I would like to get my hands on the script of this play for future reading.

Midsummer is like a tonic for the world-weary romantic. Highly recommended.


Midsummer is playing at Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Ave, Toronto) until May 28th, 2017. Shows begin at 8pm nightly; matinees are on Sundays at 2:30pm.

For more information, visit the Tarragon Theatre website.


Photo of exterior of Tarragon:×300/Tarragon.jpg



Toronto Light Festival 2017

I attended the Toronto Light Festival a couple of weeks ago.

This festival had its first year in 2017 and was a free, outdoor event. It was held in the Distillery District from January 27th to March 12th – “during the dark, cold days of winter” in the hope that “city residents will be drawn out of their traditional indoor habitats to experience Toronto in a way they never have before.”






This installation was entitled “Our House.” Artist Tom Dekyvere (Belgium) meant to show “another example of how life and its natural environment can be manipulated into a new form. The installation refers to the balance between electronics and nature, people and their network.”






This piece, called “Angels of Freedom,” is by the OGE Creative Group from Israel. Visitors were encouraged to “turn themselves into a real angel” by posing in front of the wings and halos. For every photo shared to FB, Twitter, or Instagram, the group donated $1.00 to the Daily Bread Food Bank.  Social media for a good cause!








“The Love Locks”, by Toronto Light Festival creator Mathew Rosenblatt, “requires the participation of lovers to come together to express their enduring love for one another.” (Visitors could write their names on a lock and add it to the exhibit).  “This simple action not only reinforces what is already in their hearts, it also acts to create an intensely positive environment and inspiration for others.”









“The Magic Dance Mirror” by Kyle Ruddick (United States) “creates a graphically styled mirror image of those using it with dynamic animated visuals based on a user’s movement, audio, and social interactions.”

It was really good to see visitors not being afraid to dance and act “silly” in front of strangers in order to interact with the artwork. I could have stayed in there all night – it was such a fun, positive environment. Now – how to get one of those installed in my house?!







Another interactive piece was “A Dream of Pastures” by Studio F Minus from Canada. It was a “mechanical sculpture and light projection inspired by the history of moving images.” Visitors could pedal a stationery bike, which would power a projector displaying a moving image of themselves riding a horse.






IT” by Michael Christian (United States) was the somber piece in the festival. “IT rises over 40 feet tall and is constructed of 12,000 pounds of steel. Inspired by H.G. Wells’ War of the WorldsIT was commissioned by Black Rock City Nevada’s 2006 Burning Man Festival and over 50,000 visitors viewed it when it was first unveiled.”






“Run Beyond” by Angelo Bonello (Italy) was my favourite of the festival. It was “a work about the jump we all have to take in our lives: the jump to freedom. Bonello does not tell us what kind of freedom, the spectator has to make up their own mind. Bonello: “To me this work is about the power of imagination, a power so strong that it makes individuals conquer their fears and limitations and causes them to open up to other cultures, new friendships, and unknown worlds.”






“Digital Origami Tigers” by LAVA from Australia “started their world travels in 2010 in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Customs House in Sydney, Australia. The Digital Tigers were adopted by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) to bring attention to the international campaign to save tigers. The crouching Digital Tigers combine ancient methods of lantern making with cutting edge digital design and fabrication technology, bringing together east and west.”







“The Uniting Lightstar” by Venividimultiplex (The Netherlands) “is a dodecahedron which…consists of twelve pentagonal surfaces….you see numerous strings of blue light, which connect all of the points of this artificial star. The Uniting Lightstar demonstrates…the human capacity to boost friendships and let them grow.”






I am hoping that Toronto Light Festival returns in 2018!

Stay tuned!


All quoted text and information is from Toronto Light Festival 2017’s printed festival brochure.

Oscar Predictions 2017 !

I have been watching the Oscars since I was about 12 or 13 years old.  I have always loved film, although my perception of Hollywood has changed over the years. Nonetheless, I still look forward to watching the biggest event of the movie awards season.



I usually enter an Oscar pool with a few friends, but in the past I always lost because I chose who I thought was most deserving over who was realistically going to win. A few years ago I stopped that, and as a result I have won a couple of times.  We will see how I fare this year.

Without further ado, here are my predictions on who will win the Academy Awards in 2017…or, as Jim Carrey put it in an Oscars telecast years ago,” Who will get to take home THE LORD of all knick-knacks?!”

Best Picture – La La Land (Moonlight SHOULD be the winner; it’s a far better movie. However, Hollywood loves pictures about itself more than anything).
Director – Damien Chazelle, La La Land (but Barry Jenkins should win for Moonlight).
Actress in a Leading Role – Emma Stone, La La Land (but Natalie Portman SHOULD win.)
Actor in a Leading Role – Denzel Washington, Fences (Casey Affleck has too much controversy right now, although he was the favourite in this category.)
Supporting Actress – Viola Davis, Fences
Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Foreign Film – The Salesman (Iran)
Makeup and Hairstyling – Star Trek: Beyond
Cinematography – La La Land (but Arrival should win).
Film Editing – La La Land
Live Action Short – Silent Nights
Sound Mixing – La La Land (again, Arrival should win).
Visual Effects – The Jungle Book (Kubo and the Two Strings SHOULD win…the visuals are so unique and interesting).
Original Score – La La Land
Original Song – City of Stars, La La Land
Sound Editing – Hacksaw Ridge
Original Screenplay – Manchester by the Sea
Adapted Screenplay – Moonlight (YES!)
Costume Design – Jackie
Documentary Feature – O.J. Made in America (I Am Not Your Negro SHOULD win).
Documentary Short – White Helmets
Production Design – La La Land (but it should be Arrival).
Animated Feature – Zootopia (but it should be Kubo and the Two Strings).
Animated Short – Piper (I have actually seen Piper and Pearl! But I think Piper will win. It’s pretty awesome).
There you have it! What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Or do you think the Oscars are just self-congratulatory nonsense (AHEM: La La Land?!) Comment below!
Stay tuned!
Photo credits:




I’ve been published ! ! !


I recently accompanied my friend, the fabulous gothic/glam/industrial/post-apocalyptic fashion designer Miss.E, to a photo shoot in Toronto for a new online magazine called InSpades.




A few days later, the creative director asked me if I would be willing to write Miss.E’s article for the magazine, which is a platform for up-and-coming artists/photographers/designers.




Jaclyn Truss (the editor) explains the magazine’s raison d’etre in the first issue: “Many digital options [i.e. Facebook/Instagram] will generally garner a “like” or a “comment”, but in a saturated market, it is difficult for an artist to rise above the noise and gain a truly engaged following. A digital magazine, however, offers tangible exposure, artistic credibility, and a platform to deeply venture into an artist’s world.”

Of course I said yes – I was very happy to help present my friend’s artistry to a wider audience!  The article can be found on page 50 of the October 2016  “Daydreams and Fairytales” issue (Numero Uno). Click here to read !

InSpades ( can be also be found on Instagram @InSpadesMag . Miss.E can be found at @madame_absinthe and I can be found at @hotaruchan20 ! (That’s right, I FINALLY joined Instagram!)

Stay tuned!

2015 – in review

Happy New Year and welcome to 2016 ! !

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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog.

My blog was viewed most often by people in Canada and the U.S.A., followed by France!  Hello and thank you! Bonjour et merci!

Next to France, my biggest number of readers came from the U.K., Australia, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Brazil.

I even had a handful of readers from places as diverse and wide-ranging as Israel, Russia, Tunisia, Thailand, the Phillippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Zimbabwe, and Botswana!

THANK YOU SO MUCH to every each and one of my readers!

I am wondering what drew you to my blog.  If you don’t live in Toronto, are you reading because you have plans to visit in the future? Or because you like my photos? Or my writing? Or all of the above (I hope)?

If you would like to know more about a specific topic or place I’ve written about, or (if you live far away from Toronto) about Canadian arts and culture, or have any feedback at all about any of my posts, please let me know in the comments section! I just LOVE receiving comments!

I would also love to know more about YOUR country or city! If you have your own blog, please post a link in the comments and I will visit your site!

Here’s the report:

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you everyone and here’s to an awesome 2016!



Stay tuned!