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Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog

Wild At Heart

Had an amazing time in Toronto this past weekend. I started off at the Harborfront which is a great place in the summer to hang out with a variety of festivals and events. At this point, there are the three galleries in the complex as well as gift shops, restaurants and ice skating by the lake.

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From there I took in the St Lawrence Market which is two floors of deli’s, produce and food vendors. I was going to check out the third floor museum but it was between exhibitions so I just had lunch which included many free samples (including some Peller Ice Wine) as well as a fresh croissant, some sushi, a potato latke, a chocolate mousse and some Dandelion and Burdock root beer. The place was bustling with activity and I cannot believe I had never come across this place before. Then again, from where I park it is the opposite direction I usually travel.

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I then proceeded to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Patti Smith photography exhibit which Detroit had not that long ago. While I didn’t find the actual works anything overly special, it is a nice look into the mind of an artist I greatly admired. I never realized she had such a fascination for the objects of the dead. I also checked out the galleries across the street and had a bowl of onion soup (made from a special recipe from France) at the French CafĂ© across the street. I thought it was just OK but I did enjoy my black cherry soda.

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I then headed out for dinner, stopping by for a quick martini from the Pravda Vodka Bar. The place is decked out is communist designs that made me think that Dolph Lungren from Rocky IV would come walking around a corner at any moment. They have an amazing selection of vodka’s and have ½ price martinis and special appetizers (made from potatoes of course) during their happy hour (though not sure happy it gets in Russia). I haven't seen this many different types of vodka ever before and none of that flavored crap either, just pure vodka.

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I then had dinner at the Sultan's Tent and Cafe Moroc which is Moroccan and has a nice back room where they put on a four course meal that comes with belly dancers for entertainment. I took the recommended items from the cheapest menu (some items are more expensive so you need to pay attention) and ended up getting the lamb as seen in the picture. I enjoyed the food but I would have been happiest with the more expensive choices so expect to spend between $42-$64 for dinner but it is a wonderful experience and the wait staff is very helpful explaining the dishes and bringing out the courses for full enjoyment.

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I had to rush out a little early so I could make my Sezen Aksu concert. She played for 3 hours and had a great band made up of traditional and contemporary instruments. I think I was the only person in the audience who wasn’t of Turkish decent and spent a lot of the time during the intermission talking to people wondering how I knew about Sezen. I got a lot of cool info about the artist from them and one woman even did some light translation during Sezen’s dialogues. She doesn’t speak (or didn’t speak) English so she would be telling stories and jokes and I was totally lost. However, the music was very appealing and I’m glad I caught an artist making her North American debut. I really enjoy experimenting with shows like this and Sezen was really influential and groundbreaking in her native land even influencing the annual Eurovision contest.

After getting a good night’s sleep I was back downtown to start my Saturday. I started by lining up to get rush tickets for the production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Ed Mervish Theatre. Rush tickets have nothing to do with the band but a number of tickets that are held aside for the day of show that are sold for discounted prices. I went to the T.O. Ticket booth across from the Eaton Center and the best they had was $94 for Saturday’s matinee. I got in line and ending up paying $29 for a box seat which was a lot better for my budget (I did the same thing for “War Horse” in the Fall). I am more of a fan of “Wicked” but the production was very grand and I’m sure any fans of the movie or the books will get enjoyment out of this production. The girl who played Dorothy had a very good voice and the Wicked Witch of The West was very menacing. Being a smaller theatre, there are really no bad seats in the house.

While waiting for the play to start, I did walk across the street to eat a burger at the newly revamped food court at the Eaton Center and caught a street performer jugging fire which was wonderful in the warm weather.

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I then sauntered over to the Design Exchange which is a new art gallery based in the old Toronto Stock Exchange building. The buildings architecture is stunning and while they usually do more modern art exhibits, they were taken over for the week by HBO for a one week exhibit honoring the TV series “Game Of Thrones”. The exhibit contains over 75 props from the series including weaponry, costumes and the throne itself which you can get your picture taken in with the crest of your choice. The show is technically sold out but admission is free and you can stand in line to see if space opens up. I waited about 10 minutes before I was let in and it took about 30 minutes to get through the exhibit. It ends March 16th so if you want to see it,make plans quick. HBO did a good job with this.

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Afterward, I had to rush to the convention and stopped for a quick bite at the Baton Rouge which is connected to the convention center right next to the CNN Tower. I got an open face prime rib sandwich was too expensive considering the lack of real meat on it. I might have been OK with a steak but this was one of my least favorite meals in Toronto.

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I got to the Convention Center on time and snapped a couple of pics of people in costume for the Toronto Comic Con but I was there for the main event. The Star Trek: TNG panel started on time and was a blast. I had seen every one but Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner so it was cool seeing both of them. Brent was a big jokester during the talk though I think Sirtis was the biggest talker of the night. I really didn’t learn anything about the actors that I didn’t know before but it was fun seeing the cast together and the repore they still have with each other as they told stories about the show and things that have happened since. The only thing I really got was the fact that the cast is definitely interested in doing more films but with the reboot we know that is not going to happen which is a shame.

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Well, that was my weekend, so hope this might be helpful for anyone who is heading to that fair city. So basically my pointers this time are 1) remember bigger theatrical venues do have rush tickets that can be purchased same day and greatly reduced prices, 2) the St Lawrence Market is a great place to have lunch and 3) you have until the end of the week to see the Game of Thrones exhibit if you are a fan of the show. It is only touring 5 cities going to New York City next, then London and two more cities in Europe so this is your closest chance at this time to see the props of this classic show.

In closing, here are a few show ideas for the upcoming week:

Tuesday (3/12) - Wishbone Ash @ Callahans, Minus The Bear @ Royal Oak Music Theatre

Thursday (3/14) - Tom Butwin @ Gus O'Connor's (Novi)

Friday (3/15) - The Tossers w/Pietasters and St Thomas Boys Academy @ Small's, Anberlin w/Paper Route @ St Andrews Hall, Nick Moss and the Fliptops @ Callahans

Saturday (3/16) - Kate Nash @ Magic Bag

Sunday (3/17) - Ragbirds @ Woodruff's (Ypsilanti), Duende! @ PJ's Lager House