Sunday, March 25, 2012

Game of Thrones Exhibit at TIFF

This year for March Break, the Bell Lightbox held a free exhibit promoting the HBO mini-series "The Game of Thrones", based on the eventual 7 part fantasy novel series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin (he has written up to book 5).

I devoured the first gripping novel as part of my book club and then proceeded to read the next two in the series before I got bogged down by too many new characters and an increasingly difficult to follow plot.   Having to wait so long (5+ years each) between  books 4 and 5 didn't help in keeping the interest alive.  But I still get a thrill when I think about the catch phrase from the books:  “When you play a game of thrones,  you win or you die.”  And Martin definitely lives up to that promise!

   The exhibit featured photos, props, costumes and memorabilia from the show as well as a screening of a "Making Of ... " documentary, all for the purpose of promoting the start of Season 2 on April 1.   Much of the show is based on digital images from Season 1, which are readily available on the internet.  This made it less exciting than if more physical items had been on display.  But since TIFF continues its policy of not allowing photos to be taking while viewing their exhibits, at least this provides me with something to remember the show by.

Other than the photos, costumes worn by characters including Catelyn Tully Stark, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen were presented.  Other paraphernalia included banners of the coat of arms from each of the major families, swords, bows and arrows, goblets, the dragon egg (What's a good fantasy without a dragon or two?).   The HBO series has  perfectly cast each major character as they each exactly reflect my imagination of what he or she would look like.  Peter Dinklage seems to have cornered the market on dwarf roles and it is gratifying to see him win the Emmy and Golden Globe for playing the complex and devious Tyrion Lannister.

 It was clear from the photos and the documentary what a huge scaled production this mini-series is in terms of cast, sets and locations.  The series is shot in Ireland, Malta, Croatia and Iceland to depict scenes varying from looming castles, battlement fields, hot dry deserts and icy winter wastelands.  It was especially exciting to recognize at a glance that some walled fortress scenes were filmed in Dubrovnik, where we have visited and stood on those same walls.

 The highlight of TIFF exhibit was the "Iron Throne", the symbol of the coveted prize being battled for throughout the novels.  While it was quick to get into the show, the lineup to have your photo taken on the throne was lengthy, and included one especially enthusiastic "fanboy" who came dressed (or semi-dressed) in tributary attire including loin cloth and arm bands.  He especially stood out since it was chilly outside so all the other people in line were bundled up in winter coats.

As you exited the exhibit, staff handed out free popcorn coupons and a DVD to the first episode of Season 1 of the mini-series.  This was a great promotion of the next season and seemed to do its job of driving up the anticipation for it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

National Home Show and Canada Blooms

The National Home Show is hosted at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place and for the same admission, you also get access to the Canada Blooms Garden Show.   The Home Show is great for people hoping to do renovations but also fun to attend just to check out new innovations for the home and garden.   It was at this event years ago, that we found the company Closet Re-Organizer who featured an amazing "roll-up" bed which we now have installed in our condo den.   A significant improvement on the Murphy bed which leaves a wall of dead space when the bed is folded up, the roll-up bed retracts vertically upwards behind a hutch design of your choosing.  Ours includes wooden cupboards for pillows and linens, a TV stand and glass cabinets with pot-lights for displaying stemware and nicknacks.

The first thing that caught my eye this year was the latest incarnations of massage chairs, which have taken the art of massage and relaxation to the next level.  Going into a full horizontal recline, these chairs envelope your entire body, pulsating and kneading not only the back and neck but also the arms, legs, and soles of the feet.  Some of the chairs feature a body sensor that detects and molds to the shape of your body for a deeper, more powerful rub.  There were so many different vendors selling these chairs that if I had the time, I could have spent the entire visit just moving from one to another getting free demos.

 Other items that caught my fancy included custom shaped wooden shutters,  pull-up shades with stenciled patterns embossed on them, a huge stove/oven that includes two separate heating compartments and a rotisserie chicken attachment, decorative wash basins of different materials and designs, a bright red leather reclining chair with built in cup holder, and a pool table that converts into an elegant dining table.

One of the fun parts of wandering around any type of show like this is to pick up free give-aways and samples.  At the Keurig drink dispenser booth, they were brewing both hot coffees varieties as well as iced drinks including iced french vanilla lattes and lemonade iced tea.  Some kitchen cabinetry booths were displaying built in espresso and cappuccino makers.  Other booths were giving away bags and pens and candy.  The most amusing and cheesy handout was the company that provided divorce services who were doling out free packets of Kleenex.

Outdoor garden furniture exhibits displayed deck shade structure options in a variety of styles including free standing umbrellas, coverings shaped like a pop-up tent or a lean-to and beautiful wooden lattice gazebos.  Unfortunately none of them would fit on our terrace.

 Adjacent to the Home Show, the Canada Blooms exhibit was a flora wonderland.  Glorious, vibrant plants and flowers of all varieties were on display, proving the horticultural prowess of their gardeners. They were also used to make beautiful arrangements and creative art forms ranging from miniatures not much bigger than my thumb, to huge floor to ceiling sculptures.

As much as I enjoyed the Home Show, the Canada Blooms display was the highlight for me.  Shown together, they made for a very entertaining afternoon.