In the end, with my residual counter-aggression excised onto the Internet, my Friday was salvaged by a shower, a change of clothes, and dinner at a nice Indian restaurant name of Saffron Tree secreted away in Toronto’s otherwise uncharming hospital/university district. So far the portions here seem pretty much the same as what they serve in Denmark, but the food prices are consistently low, even despite the unfortunate exchange rate which means I’m paying a lot more for everything I buy here than I would have if I’d visited a year or two ago.
Saturday was set aside for Gelo. I’d quite forgotten, but Gelo reminded me that we met during my stint as a conscientious objector at Greenpeace, which by my reckoning was some time in 2005, which means I’ve known Gelo for 5 years and never met him in person – such is the way of the Internet, and of course this re(?)union will already be outdone when I visit Lawrence on the 26th, who I have known and worked with for 8 years without meeting him.
I was quite impressed and grateful that Gelo could find the time and endurance to make the 8 hour drive from New York City to Toronto, a drive which my mind was slightly boggled to realise took as long as my trans-atlantic flight from Denmark. Gelo had brought his brother and sister-in-law to make the drive more palatable, and we started out by having lunch together at a nice Vietnamese place where most of our dishes regrettably tasted of nothing at all. Whatever, we were there for the company anyway.
While the others went to visit the CN Tower, I had tickets for Gelo and myself to see the newly premiered Inception in an IMAX theatre. We have only one such theatre in Copenhagen, and its mandate seems to restrict it to showing nature documentaries, as it’s the centrepiece of some sort of science museum. Inception was my first IMAX feature film, and it didn’t let me down.
Aside from the obviously spectacular visual effects that most of the reviews seem to focus on, I was most impressed by how well the film explored its central conceit of shared lucid dreaming – it incorporated so many intriguing concepts and aspects of this imaginary technology without ever making it feel contrived. I was pleased to find that they’d wrapped all these ideas into a traditional heist movie, which made the film’s structure very easy to grasp and allowed the audience to focus on the mind-boggling traits of the themes it dealt with.
Whether the IMAX format itself did much for the experience, I can’t say – as I also experienced with 3D, once you’re engrossed in the film itself, it makes no real difference if you’re watching it on a 17″ computer monitor or a wrap-around IMAX dome with full surround sound. I do wonder though if this may not in fact have been the first IMAX theatre in the world, considering that the format was invented in Canada and that the film was preceded by a 4 minute self-aggrandising laser show not unlike listening to a really self-absorbed person going on and on about how great his computer is, even though it’s actually several years old and your own is a bit better (the IMAX theatre in Copenhagen, for all the limitations of its repertoire, is an actual wrap-around dome, unlike the one we went to in Toronto).
After the film, we met up with Gelo’s brother and sister-in-law once more for dinner (at the Saffron Tree, where I knew from the night before their food had taste) and then hastily parted ways as they wanted to get back across the border before the sun was down.
Today has been pretty relaxed; I have mostly spent it sampling the various benches along the harbourfront with a milkshake or a juice and a good book for company. I borrowed a great and very quirky fantasy book name of The War of the Flowers from my mom’s bookshelves before I left, written by Tad Williams and in some ways quite reminiscent of Planescape: Torment, not least in its roisterous subversion of cliches so old and dusty you barely recognise them as such until they’re turned around and used to ambush your preconceptions. It’s a good 800 pages long, and I had planned for it to last me all three weeks, but somehow I’ve ended up chewing through it and have almost finished it already.
I did find the time to visit the CN Tower (Canadian National Tower, as it’s apparently named in full, after the railway company) today, which Gelo’s tight schedule and my inconsiderate cinema arrangements didn’t leave room for yesterday. It’s… tall. I’m not sure what else there is to say about it, but I shall try to come up with something a little more interesting. I was very apprehensive about paying nearly $25 for an elevator ride (albeit a long one), but once I’d coughed up the dough, I was pleased to find a very small museum of sorts inside, along with a shopping gallery I had no reason to visit. Combined with the museum, the outrageousness of the whole experience was just about worth the money. The view from the observation area was stunning, prompting me to take a whole day’s allowance of photos in all of about 10 minutes, and their infamous glass floor that puts you on a window looking 370-something meters straight down was hard to stand on for too long at a time without getting a bit nervous. Even that overpriced elevator ride was an experience in itself, ascending nearly 400 meters in just 58 seconds, which I think is more or less what it takes the elevator in my hostel to get up to my room on the 19th floor.
I even found the time to launder my clothes so I don’t have to go naked for at least another week. Now you must excuse me as I have to get back to my room and pack my stuff for the trip to Peterborough tomorrow. I’m not sure what the computer/Internet conditions will be like there, so you may hear less from me for this part of the trip.