6 Movies About Starting Fresh

Bridget Jones’s Diary

This movie has everything you want in a story about starting over: an embarrassing moment that precipitates ambitious goal setting, a love triangle, and a ridiculous exercise montage. It also has the requisite dry humour that make British comedies such a treat. When I was younger, I thought Renee Zellweger was English. Turns out she’s from Texas.

Coming To America

After deciding it will be too difficult to find a woman who will marry him for love at home, Prince Hakim of the fictional African country Zamunda makes a dramatic move to the United States in an effort to find his future bride. As heir to the throne of Zamunda he is exceptionally wealthy but decides to work for a living in – wait for it – Queens, New York. He takes a job at McDowell’s, an obvious rip-off of McDonald’s, and falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Lisa, who is the kind of smart, independent woman he desires. It’s a hilarious chronicling of the clashing of two cultures, albeit one fictional culture.

Sunshine Cleaning

Two sisters, Rose and Norah, open a crime scene clean-up business. Norah is a bit of a bum and Rose is her older sister raising a son on her own. She opens the business in order to earn enough money to send her troubled son to private school, and own something of her own. There is a particularly gross moment where Norah falls on a bloody mattress, but all in a day’s work, right?

Eat Pray Love

People will never stop rolling their eyes at this story, but if you’d like something easy to watch this is the film for you. Elizabeth Gilbert divorces her husband, and then embarks on a year-long journey of self-discovery with stops in Italy, India, and Indonesia, countries that all conveniently start with “I”. If you’re gonna watch it for anything watch it for the gorge fest that is her stop off in Italy. I’m not evolved enough to get much out of the meditation stuff later in the film, but I’ve watched the first third of the movie with all the pizza and the pasta half a dozen times. On the other hand, Javier Bardem shows up in the last third of the movie so just make an evening out of it and watch the entire flick.

Sleeping With The Enemy

This is another Julia Roberts movie. Granted, it’s quite different. Laura lives a seemingly perfect and privileged life with her husband Martin. Little do outsiders know, the big house and the fancy lifestyle are distractions from Martin’s abuse. After learning how to swim, Laura fakes her own drowning and moves to a new town where she gets a job, meets someone new, and starts over. But things take a terrifying turn when Martin begins to suspect that Laura may still be alive after all.

The Bourne Identity

I’m cheating a little bit with this film. Technically, Jason Bourne didn’t start fresh in order to change his life but rather lost his memory during a mission gone wrong. After escaping an attempt on his life, he wakes up unsure of his name or story but in possession of remarkable fighting skills and the ability to speak multiple languages. Over the course of the film he attempts to regain his memory and piece together his life.

6 Ways to Take Your Squad to the Next Level in 2016

The New Year is all about fresh starts and firm resolve. An important part of life is friendship, so actively working on keeping your relationships strong is a noble endeavour indeed. To help you with this lovely task, I’ve listed six ways to take your squad to the next level in 2016.



Hire a costume designer, or a young fashionista trying to build a portfolio, and co-ordinator your outfits. They should match, but they should also display your unique personalities. Find someone who can hook you up the way Tina hooked up the ladies of Destiny’s Child.



Find a community centre with cheap rent and choreograph everyday movements. Whether you’re eating lunch as a group or grabbing drinks, ensure you are all in sync and making squad (dance) movements.



Learn to walk into any room as a group and in formation. There can be no timid shuffles; you must strut and own it. May require some practice and a signature song, but you’ll get there with time.



Find a designated meet up spot for catching up and shooting the shit. It doesn’t really matter where this is, but the availability of food is a very important factor. Establish a date and time (once a week, once a month) where you all meet up and then you can bitch about bullshit over bruschetta.



Try new group activities together and become well-rounded as a group. It doesn’t matter what it is – ballet, synchronized swimming, chair dancing – so long as you do it as a squad.



Draft a Squad Convention, customized to your squad’s specifications. One of the most important features of any Squad Convention is the agreement that when you mess with one member, you mess with the entire group. Kind of like NATO, except instead of weapons you all use cut eye and group chats.

Featured image from Life & Style Weekly


Netflix and Do You Have a Space Heater?

Toronto has officially had its first snowstorm of the season, so you can put all your dreams of a warm winter back on the shelf. While people decried the effects of global warming, there was also a consensus that the mild weather was, well, pretty damn good. But as the temperature starts to drop, another phenomenon will re-enter the conversation: cuffing season.

What is cuffing season you ask? The most concise entry on Urban Dictionary defines it as “the time of year in which more people are “talking” and start going out.” Basically, all those who balked at the idea of a relationship months earlier are now eager to enter one. Roll your eyes at the concept, but the idea’s out there and has been covered by The New York Times and Vogue no less.

The trend is attributed to how easy it is to meet new people in the summer when out and about. The topic of cuffing season once came up among friends – in the spring oddly enough – and most of them recognized the term but were underwhelmed by its significance. “Well duh,” one girl commented. “It’s too cold to go clubbing in December.”

Perhaps the season was crafted by a conniving consortium of commitment-phobes to keep us all hopeful about our bleak prospects of finding love in the Tinder age. More likely it’s just a testament to our penchant for convenience in the winter and instant gratification in the summer. Or maybe, like the real MVPs who discovered fire many thousands of years ago, we’re just trying to find a way to stay warm.

Featured Image via Pexels

10 Notable Toronto Moments of 2015

This year has seen Torontonians bond over its baseball team, and become divided over Uber and taxis. Whether you were for Kanye performing at the Pan Am games, or secretly felt bad for Meek Mill, at least one item on this list caught your attention in 2015. In no particular order, here are some of the moments that had Toronto’s tongues wagging.

 Liberals Paint the Town Red

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In October, the Liberals formed government in the country’s 42nd election. Canadians weren’t expecting the red wave that swept across the nation, but what was even more surprising was the Liberals’ dominance in Toronto, a key battleground for votes in the country. The Liberals managed to win all 25 ridings in Toronto. They not only grabbed seats in areas that typically vote NDP, they even managed to oust formidable opponents like former Eglinton-Lawrence MP, Finance Minister Joe Oliver. The MP for Eglinton-Lawrence is now Marco Mendicino.

Kanye West Performs at the Pan Am Closing Ceremony

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Pan Am organizers announced that Kanye West would be performing at the closing ceremony. Naturally, many Torontonians were excited about the rapper’s planned appearance, but there were also people who expressed displeasure about the choice. Their criticism stemmed from West’s controversial actions and the belief that the organizers should choose a Canadian performer. Torontonians were also concerned that taxpayers would foot the bill for the star, but organizers were quick to assure everyone that Live Nation covered the cost of performers, and dealt directly with them. At the end, West threw what seemed to be a faulty microphone and walked off the stage. We still don’t know for sure if that was genuine or planned.

The Installation of the Toronto Sign


Torontonians weren’t completely sure how they felt about the Pan Am games. Public opinion shifted back and forth between anticipation for Toronto’s hosting gig and condemnation of the spending, not to mention frustration about the HOV lanes. One thing city dwellers across the board loved was the installation of the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square. We may have built new stadiums and swimming pools, but those colourful seven letters were the most delightful addition. The sign will remain up and serves as a nice photo background for Toronto natives and tourists alike.

The Taxi-Uber showdown

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The taxi industry has been up in arms over Uber’s creep into the city. Uber’s lack of regulation allows it the luxury of cheaper prices while cab drivers have to follow city rules which prevent them from being as competitive as the new ride-sharing service. Uber’s refusal to cease operations until City Council can draft new regulations, and the city’s unwillingness to enforce existing bylaws in the meantime, has resulted in mounting frustration from the taxi industry leading to protests. Proponents of Uber rave about its lower costs, focus on customer satisfaction, and the ability to track your ride. Critics point to its illegal operations and the risk to passengers who would only be able to deal with a driver’s private insurance in the case of an accident.

Trudeau’s Welcoming of Refugees at Pearson Airport

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Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally welcomed Syrian refugees arriving at Pearson. He was joined by Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne. The move drew international praise and media attention, and served as a refreshing contrast to the hateful and divisive rhetoric south of the border. Trudeau and the Liberals campaigned on the promise of bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada by the end of the year, but they have backtracked on that number saying they will only be able to bring in 10,000 by the end of December.

The City Finds a Father Figure in a Councillor

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Councillor Norm Kelly waded into this summer’s feud between Drake and Meek Mill. Meek Mill accused the Toronto rapper of using a ghostwriter. Kelly came to Drizzy’s defence, famously tweeting that Meek Mill was no longer welcome in Toronto and consistently trolling the Philadelphia rapper over the next few weeks with everything from pithy jabs to Simpsons memes. His foray into hip-hop culture has earned him a younger audience that has taken to referring to the 74-year-old politician as “daddy”. Kelly regularly tweets helpful information about city services, important questions like “is white chocolate really chocolate?” and “what kind of monster buys half a pie?” Kelly even won the title of Canada’s Most Valuable Tweeter beating the likes of Justin Bieber and P.K. Subban.

The Blue Jays’ Wild Ride


The Blue Jays whipped the city into a frenzy with their successful season, securing their first playoff berth in 22 years. After months of crazy ticket prices and an increase in commuters sporting Jays merch, the boys in blue ended their season with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. Nevertheless, it was still a terrific season and images like Jose Bautista’s triumphant bat flip will remain imprinted on the city’s heart for quite some time.

Opening of the Union Pearson Express Line

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In June, the Union Pearson Express train officially opened for business. The line that runs from Union Station to Pearson gets travelers from the downtown core to the airport in 25 minutes. Though decidedly more comfortable than lugging your bags on the subway, many balked at the price: $27.50 or $19 for Presto cardholders. The train also boasts amenities like food services and free WiFi.

First Leaders’ Debate

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The Maclean’s National Leaders’ Debate took place in Toronto at City’s downtown studio. It was notable not only for being the first debate of the campaign period, but also for the performance of the leaders. Harper was his usual collected self, working through his talking points. Trudeau, though also quite reliant on repetitive talking points, performed better than expected. The most talked about candidate was Mulcair due to his demeanour that came across at best amusing and at worst, uncomfortable. Whoever suggested he tone down the aggressive tactics he employed in Parliament and adopt a kindly uncle approach clearly miscalculated, leaving viewers a little weirded out by his wide eyes and constant smiling. Elizabeth May was the most knowledgeable and eloquent of the four presenting smart, interesting ideas, but she was shamefully excluded from future debates including the Globe and Mail debate on the economy.


In what was arguably the most cringe-worthy story of 2015, former Conservative candidate Jerry Bance left the Tory party in disgrace after a video of him urinating in a homeowner’s mug surfaced online causing confused Twitter users to click on the trending topic #peegate to figure out what the hell was going on. Bance, a service technician by trade, was caught on hidden camera in a 2012 episode of CBC’s Marketplace casually peeing into a cup and then rinsing it out sans soap. He was responding to a call to replace a leaky sink. As if the situation wasn’t comedic enough already. Bance, who was running in the riding of Scarborough-Rouge Park, released a statement saying the video “does not reflect who I am as a professional or a person.” One Twitter user responded by tweeting, “Sorry Jerry – if you pee in someone else’s mug, that is who you are.”

10 Things To Finally Get Around To Before the New Year

Set Up the Find My Device Feature on Your Phone


A lost or stolen phone sucks. A lost or stolen phone with sensitive financial or personal information is awful. If you have an iPhone, activate Find my iPhone so that you can locate your phone or remotely erase everything from another device. It will be expensive replacing a missing smart phone, but it will give you great peace of mind to know your credit card info and nudes are safe. (Unless you’ve been targeted by a malicious tech genius that will mine your device with expert skill. If that’s the case, you have bigger problems.) This service is also available for your Macbook, iPod, or iPad. Google also provides a way to locate Android powered devices.

Back Up Your Phone


On that note, another stressful part about losing your phone is losing all the valuables it contains like photographs, text messages, and songs. Save yourself the hassle and back up your phone regularly by either using services like the Cloud or manually uploading your phone’s contents to your computer periodically.

 Install A Period Tracker

This isn’t 1998, ladies. Circling the date on your calendar in red marker is cute, but if your alarm clock, mail, and schedule are all on your phone, what makes you think tracking your period with a pen and paper is sustainable – or accurate for that matter? Download a period tracker like Clue (also available on Google Play) and outsource worrying about when to avoid wearing white pants to a handy app.

See Your Doctor About That Thing


If you have a question about your health or an awkward problem you’ve avoided addressing because you hate uncomfortable situations, go see your family practitioner. That is what they are there for, and I can assure you they’ve either seen or studied worse. I would even suggest writing down your specific concerns because it is natural to feel rushed or silly, and having them on a sheet of paper will help you tackle the issues you came in to address.

Install Software Updates


Software updates are annoying and we are ungrateful. Their point is to get rid of any bugs, but we keep hitting “Remind Me Tomorrow” because heaven forbid an invitation to improve our computer interrupts us reading “8 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Died”. They will fix issues that you can remain blissfully unaware of and – more relevant to your everyday life – make your computer run faster.

Tidy Up Your Computer Desktop


Cleaning up your desktop is another easy way to make your computer run faster. All those files you save to your desktop for easy access take up bits of memory and those shortcuts add up! Do yourself a favour and get rid of files you no longer need and move the rest of them to folders for your documents, photos, or downloads. It has the added bonus of leaving you with a filing system that makes it easier to find the items you’re looking for later. Also, it’s much more aesthetically pleasing.

Unsubscribe From All Those Emails


Sure, at one point you felt proactive about learning a second language or when you were in high school you bought a lot of plaid and sweats, but subscriptions to “One French Word A Day” and Garage’s mailing list are not life sentences. It is time to clean up your inbox – and your life – by unsubscribing to those pesky emails. If it’s too much of a pain to do on your phone, open your computer, click on one of those three thousand emails, scroll to the bottom, and hit unsubscribe. You may be redirected to a second page. Stay focused; they want you to give up. Take a deep breath and click to say, “Yes, I’m sure.”

Put A Deposit On That Experience


Everyone has something they’d like to do whether it’s to travel, take a music class, or sign up for personal training. Each person’s financial situation is different so this may not be an option for some, but if you have enough money to regularly go out to eat or drink, then you definitely have enough money for these experiences. Sign up for whatever it is you want to try or learn. Think of your phone bill. You don’t need all those features and services, but you want them and you will actively work to ensure you have money to keep them. Financing something you enjoy will quickly fall into the same category as your phone bill. If it’s genuinely something you’re interested in, you’ll be more motivated to go to work to pay for it, and it is sure to bring you more happiness than Canada-wide calling ever did – unless your love interest lives in Iqaluit or something.

Hit Send on “I Miss You”


I bet most people would rather do everything else on this list twice over than consider this last one, but it’s probably the most important item. What’s the point of all this technology if we can’t use it to communicate with one another? Being vulnerable is terrifying, and it can often end in hurt and disappointment. One thing it shouldn’t be is embarrassing. At the end of your life you’re going to be left with the things you did and didn’t do, and it is easier to deal with rejection than it is to live with coulda, woulda, shoulda. Send a text or an email telling that special person, friend, or family member that you hope all is well and that you miss them. If you like, mention whatever it is that made you think of them. In addition, try to remove any expectations from the act so that the reward lies in your honesty and not their reciprocity. Keep it polite, don’t put them in a position to feel obligated to do anything, and then go on with your life knowing you’re living it truthfully.

8 Useful Items to Pick Up on Boxing Day

Ah Boxing Day – or to be more accurate, Boxing Week. It feels like just yesterday we were talking about Black Friday, but here we are at yet another day dedicated to shopping. If you do plan on spending money today, try looking for some of these items. They aren’t all necessities, but they are definitely way more useful than a dozen pancake-scented candles. 

A Decent Winter Jacket


No one’s saying you should drop three quarters of your rent money on a Canada Goose jacket. I’m also not suggesting you take a page out of the book some of our parents read titled, “It doesn’t matter if it’s blue and gold with the Edmonton Oilers logo on the back, so long as it’s a jacket.” True story.

There are a number of stores offering winter jackets. Sears is a great place to find jackets that are appealing and warm. While the department store has become the started-from-the-bottom punchline of every sitcom, they have more promising items than those shows would suggest. 

Boots with Grip


Listen. Unless you are the privileged daughter of a wealthy banker who gets whisked away by private car from one location to the next, you need boots with grip. I’m not talking heels. I’m talking cleats, baby. I’m talking ’bout that GRIP. You are stepping off buses, running for buses, crossing streets, and living a reckless city life. Fashion boots are lovely, but they are more concerned with making you look nice and less concerned with ensuring your body does not make sudden contact with the ground. Now I can sympathize with your lack of urgency considering there has yet to be any significant snowfall in Toronto, but do not let this mild weather lull you into a false sense of comfort. Winter is coming and when it does you will be thankful for your sensible boots.

There are cleated boots that look nice, I promise you. It just seems like there aren’t any because your heart is still set on the vampy pair that may be fire, but are still no match for the ice. Trusty Aldo has both in-store and online promotions, and you can always seek out a variety of brands and styles at The Bay. But honestly, you can find a decent pair at Wal-Mart and spend the rest of your money on fancier shoes. Only you and your blue-vested friend on the other side of the register need to know.

Planners and Stationery


I understand that you can write a to-do list on a napkin, and you can easily use the calendar your family’s car insurance provider sends you every December, but if we thought like that we’d make resolutions year-round and Valentine’s Day wouldn’t exist. We are basic, we like pretty things, and buying a calendar or a planner is a productive way to be basic and use pretty things. In fact, studies have shown writing things down allows us to retain information better, and what better motivation for writing things down than nice paper? That’s my argument, and I’m sticking to it.

These Kate Spade planners are a bit pricey, but let them serve as your inspiration when on the hunt for supplies. If you find them on sale, even better. At the end of the day, if you’re going to buy a planner, might as well be in December.

Books for Professional Development


Books for pleasure are great, but a terrific investment is into books for professional development, especially books that can teach you online skills that will give you an edge for entry into a certain job. In the same way French fluency is a way to set you apart from a sea of other candidates, decent proficiency in things like Ruby on Rails, Adobe Photoshop, Mailchimp, and more can be your ticket into a job. Make yourself more marketable by picking up a few books for your personal and professional development.

Chapters is promoting a sale of up to 50% off during Boxing Week. Hit up the languages, business, and computers sections, and binge on instalments of the For Dummies series. 

Hats, Scarves, and Gloves


Every year we forget to buy these things, and every year we feel stupid. Be prepared, and save yourself a freezing wait at an ill-serviced bus stop.

You can find these at basically any clothing store. The best part is that accessories are a magnet for sales, so you will be sure to benefit from a number of BOGO promotions.

Business Casual Clothing


Finding a decent blazer or dress shirt has the potential to make mornings a heck of a lot easier. Whether we like it or not, it’s been shown that how we present ourselves is an indication to our superiors of our capacity to handle certain projects. It also has the added bonus of boosting your confidence. Look good, feel good, yes?

If spending $175 instead of $215 on a dress is your idea of a sale then Godspeed. You know what they say about dressing for the job you want, not the job you have, so go ahead and pay a visit to Banana Republic. If you’d like to wait until you’re promoted to drop that kind of cash and simply want to look less scruffy in the meantime, stop by Dynamite and check out some of their promotions.


Make up

Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean you wake up looking fabulous and pooping glitter. You’ve still got things to take care of, so might as well take care of them cheap. Take advantage of all the drug store deals and buy all the hand cream and Listerine your body desires. Afterwards, if your wallet is not begging you to take it home, drop by Sephora, the colourful adult playground, and pick up a couple shades of lipstick…or two.

A Portable Phone Charger


If you can spend over $30 a week on lattes, you can save yourself a few low battery panic attacks, and grab yourself one of these bad boys. Just remember to actually charge it. 

No Name Snowmen and One Tree Hill: the making of the twelfth day of GTA Christmas

For the twelfth day of GTA Christmas I needed “twelve cards for greeting”, but I only had six Christmas cards. They are hard to come by in a Muslim household. I had to call in the troops: my little brother and sister.

“Neela! Nain! What are you doing? You want to do arts and crafts?”

“Now?” Neela asked. “Okay.”

“We’re supposed to have a Mario Kart tournament with Nadeem,” Nain reminded her. He loved group activities, so he’d be happy either way but since his strengths lay in video games and not art, he was reluctant to change plans.

“We’ll do it after,” Neela said.

“Yeah, you’ll do it after,” I repeated. “Neela, get that old purse filled with glitter glue. We need to make some Christmas-y things.”

Nain sighed. “Okay, I’m coming. Let me go tell Nadeem there’s been a change of plans.”

We set ourselves up in the basement, and I shot out rapid-fire instructions. “I’m thinking a snowman, Santa…things that aren’t too complicated. What else?”

“I’ll make a candy cane,” Neela said. “I know how to make a lit candy cane.”

I nodded. “Perfect. I’m gonna make a snowman. Nain, turn on an episode of One Tree Hill for background noise.”

“Okay.” He grabbed the remote. “I’m just going to watch you guys.”

The episode we chose was the one in which Haley and Nathan’s friends throw them a post-wedding bridal shower and bachelor party. The scene where the faux-mechanic shows up to fix their “broken down” car is playing. The music starts, and the mechanic starts stripping.

Nain looked down at his hands and shook his head. “I really thought he was a mechanic.” Then he spotted my semi-completed snowman.

“Neya, what kind of a branch is that?” he demanded. “There’s supposed to be extra parts at the end. Have you never seen a tree branch before?”

I made an offended noise. Neela looked up from the piece of paper she was cutting and said, “You’re being very critical, but you’re contributing nothing.”

“Does Frosty have buttons?” I asked. “And how far down do they go? Is it like a trench coat thing? What about his mouth? Everything’s made of coal, right?” They both nodded their heads.

“I’m loving that he doesn’t have eyes yet,” Neela said. “Gives him mystery. Oh my gosh, give him a wink.”

“I’ll give him eyes that look real.” I drew one eye open and one eye closed.

“Neya, that looks awful and scary,” Nain said.

Neela was of a different opinion. “I’m loving everything that’s happening with that snowman. I want to put it in my room when we’re done.”

Now I was concerned about how I was going to make its carrot nose. “Do we have any orange paper? Or an orange marker?” I looked through the pencil case. “Oh, I’ll use these sticky notes! Wow, that was lucky.” I cut out a triangle and stuck it on its face.

“Aha! There we go,” I said triumphantly.

Nain gasped. “No! He doesn’t have a carrot nose. Remember the song “with a corn cob pipe and a button nose.

I blinked. My snowman looked too good, so there was no way I was starting over. “This is a No Name brand snowman. “

“Frosty is not supposed to look like that, Neya,” Nain said disapprovingly.

“Wow, yeah he does have a pipe,” Neela muttered to herself.

“Well whatever,” I snapped. “All other snowmen have carrot noses.”


Neela played peacemaker. “It’s okay. He’s not Frosty, he’s Frosté.”

Nain turned his attention to Neela’s work. “One of the lines on your candy cane is fatter than the others.” Neela and I glared at him.

Meanwhile, on the screen, Nathan was playing 2K with a stripper. We all stopped to watch before returning to work.

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“I’m done,” Neela said, holding up her finished candy cane.

“Oooh girl. That’s a great candy cane.”

“Are we done?” she asked.

I looked appraisingly over the table. “No, we need three more things…”

She thought for a moment. “Hmm. How about a present?”

“Yaaaas good thinking.”

“I have red ribbon.”

The episode starts to look like Nathan’s going to cheat, but we all know better. Still we watch. The episode ends. Haley and Nathan are still happily married. We still need background noise, so we start searching for another episode, reading descriptions as we go. After my binge watch this summer I can recognize them all. “We’re getting closer to the school shooting episode,” I say.

Neela perks up. “Let’s watch that one!”

I rolled my eyes and turned to Nain. “She’s so lukewarm about this show, but she could watch that episode 47 times.”

As the episode starts we begin discussing the difficulties of making a gift. How do you make it look three-dimensional? How will we stick the ribbon on the top with only a glue stick? We eventually decide on a simple design, but now we have two more things left to make.

“A reindeer’s too hard,” Neela says.

“Maybe Santa,” I suggest. “I don’t want to make an entire Santa though. How about a hat? We’ll make just the Santa hat. While I do that, you make a snowflake.”

By now everyone in the tutor centre knows that Jimmy Edwards is the shooter. One girl Abby sobs, “I can’t be here.”

We giggle at that adorable understatement. “We are all Abby,” I say.

The show is now at the emotional scene where Glenda’s mom asks Brooke if she’s seen Glenda. She explains that Glenda’s always said they were friends, but Brooke has no idea who that is making her realize how oblivious she’s been to her classmates throughout high school. Suddenly the screen goes black, and we look over to see Nain holding the remote.

“What are you doing?” Neela asked.

“I hate this scene. It’s so sad.” Nain’s always had a soft spot for Brooke.

We both stared judgementally at him.

“Turn it back on,” I commanded.

Neela continued working on her snowflake. ‘It’s okay. I get it. I can’t watch Fat Albert without crying.”


Featured image via Tumblr

Christmas Eve in Nathan Phillips Square

Skating in Nathan Phillips Square sounds like a lovely idea for Christmas Eve. If it’s cold enough that is.

Last night, Nathan Phillips Square’s ice rink was closed to skating due to unusually high temperatures for December. That didn’t deter skaters who still tiptoed their way onto the ice, rules be damned. A very frustrated gentleman was forced to give frequent reminders over the PA system that people were not allowed to go onto the ice – with or without skates.

Luckily, the beautiful light display in the square was enough to make the trip worth it. The gorgeous city Christmas tree lit during the annual Cavalcade of Lights back in November was still on display, and the large Toronto sign gave visitors enough for marvelling and picture-taking. The tree in Nathan Phillips Square was a way better alternative to the minimalist (read: lazy) tree in the Eaton Centre, just a few steps away.




An Unhelpful Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Up until yesterday, I thought Hayden Christensen played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films. Most people’s reactions have suggested that this is embarrassing, and I should keep it to myself.

I know next to nothing about Star Wars, and if a friend hadn’t invited me to tag along, I would have gone another twenty years without the franchise entering my orbit (no pun intended). But watch it I did.

First of all let me say thank God Oscar Isaac was in the movie, especially from the start. If he hadn’t been around, I would not have paid attention to what was going on, and I would have left only with confirmation that Natalie Portman is NOT in this movie. (While I don’t know much about Star Wars, I do remember reading somewhere that Portman skipped her Star Wars premiere to study for a final while at Harvard, so there’s that). God, I love me some Oscar Isaac, and that reminds me: I have to get around to watching that movie he did with Jessica Chastain. Did you know they went to Juilliard together? Chastain is such a lucky woman, but she’s so sweet and lovely you can’t resent her for any of her success and happiness. But I digress. What were we talking about? Yes: Star Wars.

The movie made over $200 million at the box office this past weekend, and that number is only expected to grow. From what I can tell the fandom hasn’t burned the cyber house to the ground, so I’m assuming that means the film has pleased fans overall. The Force Awakens is the start of the third trilogy in the chronologically tipsy Star Wars franchise. Star Wars premiered in 1977 and was the first in a trilogy chronicling the adventures of Luke Skywalker and some other relevant people. The trilogy released between 1999 and 2005 was a prequel trilogy, if you will, explaining how Luke Skywalker and those other relevant people became, you know, relevant. This latest trilogy (with sequels two and three set to come out in 2017 and 2019, respectively) is a continuation of the first three films, detailing what happens after the events of Return of the Jedi. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

Throughout the movie I had a lot of questions. I was especially curious about how they decided which characters would have British accents and which characters would have American accents, but maybe the fact that I’m curious about such things is a sign of my boring, earthly ways.

If you don’t care about Star Wars, but you’re willing to try something new, this movie is fine so long as you have snacks. If you have an appreciation of fight sequences and music that swells whenever the camera zooms out to show you the dangerous cliff the characters are on, you’ll have a grand time. It’s a nice chance to string together some meaning from all the Star Wars references you didn’t know you knew (Han Solo? Obi-Wan Kenobi? Chewbacca aka bae?) If you’re a Star Wars fan, well you’re going to watch it anyway in order to form an opinion on it – hell, you’ve probably already seen it – so you don’t need me to tell you what to do.

 Suggested search queries (if you actually care):

“george lucas”

“harrison ford young”

“carrie fisher young”

“james earl jones darth vader”

“I am your father”


More picture snapping, less gift shopping at the Toronto Christmas Market

This weekend, stores across the city were swarming with last minute gift shoppers, and the Toronto Christmas Market was no exception.

Located in the quaint Distillery District, the market boasted a number of vendors with unique offerings ranging from Matryoshka (Russian nesting) dolls to carved wooden ornaments. Yesterday was the last day of the month-long event, and Torontonians came out in large numbers for an opportunity to experience all the hype. Visitors could drink mulled wine and ride the carousel or the Ferris wheel, and for the first time in the market’s history, guests were charged cover on weekends. This comes as no surprise considering its increase in popularity; it has quickly become one of the things to do this time of year along with other Christmas-in-the-city standbys like skating in Nathan Phillips Square or attending the Santa Claus Parade.

Yet unlike those other activities where the hoopla is largely defined by, well, the activity – skating, watching the parade – the Christmas Market is more about atmosphere and less about shopping. One obvious explanation: the steep prices.

“[It’s] great if you’re an upper middle class family and not a student,” says Cali Lopez, a student at Glendon College, York University. Others expressed the same sentiment, citing the high price tags as the biggest deterrent to actually shopping. In fact, a majority of the people I spoke with said they didn’t really intend to buy anything at all and attending the market was more of an opportunity to enjoy the festive mood and munch on yummy snacks while enjoying the company of their friends and family.


Francesca Kennedy has gone to the Christmas Market for three years including this year and didn’t find anything she would really buy as a gift. “I just really like the atmosphere, and checking out the art galleries around there,” she explained. It’s easy to see where she’s coming from; the sights and smells make for a very warm environment and the gorgeous Christmas tree serves as a spectacular centrepiece for the venue. At the end of what would be the final night of #TCM15, visitors gathered for a World Carolling Challenge to beat the record for the most people carolling at the same time – just when you thought the event couldn’t seem more like a Christmas movie.

But as in the movies, things aren’t always perfect. The crowds at the Christmas Market may not have been as purposeful as the crowds that swelled the concourses of Yorkdale and the Eaton Centre, but they were still crowds and for some shoppers they made for a bit of an unpleasant experience. The tendency to be jostled by the crowd and effectively swept past booths made it difficult for some to stop and appreciate the vendors’ wares.

In fairness, the market is meant to be both a place of commerce and celebration. If nothing else, visitors got a cute picture out of the entire experience and for most people, especially in our Instagram-obsessed age, that alone was worth the five dollar entrance fee.

The Toronto Christmas Market ran from November 20 – December 20 this year in the historic Distillery District. This is its sixth year running.