Ain’t Youth Grand?

It’s a humid evening in June of 2001, when I, and my friend, Jayne, join the throngs of parents taking their children to the big NSync concert at Skydome in downtown Toronto. Our teen daughters, best friends, generate enough electricity between them to power ten city blocks of concert halls.

My own enthusiasm pales in comparison since, elected to be the evening’s chauffeur, I dread the thought of battling freeway congestion after an already long day fighting deadlines at work. I also feel rather petulant at the thought of having to fork over a sinful amount of cash for a parking spot that will no doubt still be a long hike away from our final destination.

Since the plan is to deliver the girls to their gate at Skydome and then meet up with them after the concert at a pre-selected spot outside the gate, I also wonder how Jayne and I are going to kill the next four hours without having to spend a week’s pay on designer coffees (or something stronger) in exchange for an air-conditioned place to rest our laurels.

Imagine our relief when we discover that Skydome’s Windows Restaurant has been converted into a “Parents’ Lounge” for the evening, complete with loads of couches and club chairs, a large-screen television playing music videos at one end, and overhead monitors at the other end broadcasting a variety of sporting events. It’s spacious yet cozy enough to allow tired moms and dads to deflate for the next couple of hours.

The relieved facial expressions around the room tell me that I’m not the only one here who is über-grateful. To boot, there is a refreshment station set up with an unlimited flow of complimentary coffee! Suddenly, life is just one big ol’ box of chocolates (Hershey’s rather than Lindt, mind you—but plenty good enough).

The boom-boom-booming bass vibrations that pound from the stage area beside us, and the eardrum-shattering screams of thousands of teenaged girls (proof that our kids are at least getting our money’s worth) is a small price to pay for the luxury of having a relatively comfortable place of our own to inhabit.

Of course, the stage itself is obscured from our view with a number of strategically placed tarpaulins. I suppose this is only fair, since the ninety-buck admission we were forced to pay for our kids did not extend to the ones who actually toiled for it, so I suppose it’s understandable that we should be banned from goggling at the mighty NSync through a wall of warped Plexiglas.

Securing a spot at a table that overlooks the equipment area behind the stage, Jayne and I pass the time watching a parade of roadies scuttling back and forth, back and forth. I’m aware that roadies travel and work with the band, but I’m still not sure what it is that they do exactly. For four hours, we entertain ourselves watching them pace from one corner to another. And here I thought that politicians were the only ones who’d mastered the art of appearing to do something while doing a whole lot of nothing.

I am also now convinced that roadies are mass-produced from one original roadie-mould. No matter what era we’re in, roadies never, ever change. And I mean that literally.

I think that the roadies working for NSync were somehow teleported into the present day straight from a 1970s Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin/whatever concert. They all look identical: long hair, either big and bushy or straight and stringy; stubbled chins or unkempt beards; scruffy denim jeans tight enough to emphasize the roach-clips in their pockets; sweat-stained tee shirts emblazoned with either obscenities or dumb platitudes; and frozen grins that say, “We’re cool ‘cause we’re with the band…and you’re not.”

The high point of Jayne’s and my evening arrives not a moment too soon. The tarpaulins block the front of the stage, but not the back. Our eyebrows rise at the sight of three members of NSync racing offstage and down a backstage ramp between sets! As they bound into view, roadies scatter like bowling pins and hover around the sidelines like seagulls circling a pack of French fries. The boys in the band huddle behind a stack of equipment, attempting to perform a lightning-quick costume change. I know it’s “them”— the flash and glimmer of their elaborate costumes draws our attention like lips to chocolate.

Later, Jayne and I brag to our daughters about the fact that we got to see NSync “take it all off” backstage (nah nah nah nah nah). The girls respond with “you-are-soooooo-pathetic” eye rolls, until I offer up a detailed description of the costumes we saw. There is a wide-eyed moment of silence, followed by screams. Lots of screams.

Basking in my newly acquired limelight, I proceed to boast that, although my view was somewhat obstructed, I had actually glimpsed the tighty whities of one of the four high-priced bottoms as it struggled into a very snug pair of jeans. The face hadn’t been visible, but I’d had the pleasure of observing some real-live NSync butt! This revelation elevates me to about as close as I’ll ever get to achieving celebrity status in the eyes of my daughter and her friend.

By ten-forty-five, you would be able to hear a pin drop in the lounge, if it weren’t for the continuous boom-boom-boom-screeeeeaaaaaam-boom-boom-boom-screeeeeaaaaaam. Parents from wall to wall are slumped in their chairs, limp as overcooked noodles, chins propped up on knuckles, eyes half shut. We are all beyond fatigued.

Suddenly, without warning, an explosion of sonic magnitude rocks the lounge. As my daughter later explained, “…they do the most awesome fireworks displays.” Awesome, indeed. It is quite a sight to see 300-odd exhausted men and women awaken instantly. Jayne and I come this close to experiencing the first of many teen-induced myocardial infarctions (I’ve learned a lot from watching Grey’s Anatomy). I wouldn’t have been surprised to see ambulance attendants flooding the place with gurneys.

With my heart still skipping double-double-dutch, I have quietly resumed praying for the show to “just end now, dammit,” when those nasty little NStinkers do it again. I swear my feet actually lift from the ground for a split second. The second blast is our cue to haul it out of there and begin the trek toward our designated meeting spot.

The number of parents waiting around for their children is impressive. There are hundreds. Such a sight, you would never have seen during my childhood years. Back then, if we weren’t old enough to drive to an event on our own, our “concert experience” consisted of staring at our idol in a teen magazine while listening to his latest 45.

Finally! At eleven-thirty, our rosy-cheeked, laryngitised, starry-eyed daughters race up, shrieking with excitement. Throughout the entire ride home, their ongoing description of the show comprises only those words you’ll find in a thesaurus under “awesome.” The girls thank us over and over again. Jayne and I grin at each other. For this one night, we are their heroes. We have successfully granted the wishes of two very grateful teenaged girls. And we have also received a rare and unexpected treat in return.

The evening’s adventures have taken both of us on an emotional trip of our own, back in years, back to a long-faded time when the bigger-than-life rock stars of our dreams left us overwhelmed and suffused with such giddy excitement that we, too, screamed until we could do no more than whisper.

When my weary body finally folds itself into the welcome embrace of my bed, well past the witching hour, I can’t contain my smile as I drift off.

Ain’t youth grand?

Global warming is alive and well in Toronto

Ok. It’s February, right? Or did I fall asleep and miss a couple of months?
I just went outside for my daily walk, and it’s so warm, I had to peel off my coat and walk in t-shirt sleeves. And I was still working up a sweat! Today is supposed to break historic weather records. Winter has sure changed since the days of yore…

Last week…

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This week…

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Hot damn! I’d like to give that groundhog a great big bear hug!

 

TV hasn’t been this much fun since the 80s… You’ve just gotta watch Suits!

My full-blown addiction began with a bit of curiosity about Meghan Markle. You know—the lucky girl who, out of the millions of girls in this world, just happened to be the one to capture Prince Harry’s heart. She’s not old-money blueblood or even an English rose, but an American actress with a role in a TV series called Suits—a TV series that just happens to be filmed in my corner of the world…Toronto.

 

As a person who tries to avoid wasting precious time in front of a television (there’s no room in my life for any of that trite reality crap that the networks can’t seem to be able to think beyond), I rarely watch anything but documentaries, stand-up comics, and movies on Netflix.

A few weeks ago while browsing around the public library, I noticed a copy of the Season Five DVD of Suits. I picked it up, read the description on the back, and thought that maybe if we had nothing better to do on Friday night, I’d talk Paul into checking out the first episode of Season One on Netflix. Again, I was more drawn to having a look at this girl who had bagged Prince Harry than I was to watching a show that I expected would put me into snooze mode.

 

Wrong! Snooze we did not. After only a few weeks, we just finished Season Five. Suits is crack! We are hooked! We barely swallowed our dinner before racing to the TV to gobble another episode for dessert.

 

I was addicted to L.A. Law in the late 80s and early 90s, and Suits is my new L.A. Law. No reality crap here—just fresh legal eagle drama served with a good dollop of humor and plenty of eye candy!NUP_149295_0300.jpg

The main character, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is not only the coolest guy on the planet (commitment issues? who cares!), he is also the eye candy of all eye candy. His sidekick, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is the smartest guy on earth and eye candy #2. Then there’s Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) whose facial expressions and slimy antics add all the laughs. The ladies are great too: head honcho Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), secretary extraordinaire Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), and last but not least, paralegal darling Rachel Zane played by Meghan Markle.harvey-mike-louis

The writing on this show is great. The acting is superb. The dialogue is so clever and quick, we are captivated from the moment we tune in until the credits roll. What surprises me most is that this show hasn’t had tons more press.

The only hokey thing about the show is that the law offices are supposedly based in New York City (thus all of the aerial shots of NYC featured at the start of many episodes), yet viewers familiar with Toronto will easily be able to identify a variety of landmarks in the outdoor shots. Obviously, they shoot the show in Toronto because it’s cheaper, but the network that produces it is American, therefore the NYC storyline. But, hey, I can overlook that, since it’s one of the most entertaining series on TV today, in my books.

As for Meghan Markle…if she’s really as sweet as her character Rachel, then it’s absolutely no surprise that Prince Harry has fallen in love with her.

So—now we’ve finished Season Five. Season Six isn’t yet on Netflix, but I imagine we’ll be able to stream it somehow to our TV. It was recently in the news that USA Network renewed Suits for a seventh season, to begin shooting this spring.

 

For now, it ain’t over till it’s over, and I can barely wait to begin a marathon weekend of Season Six!

Check out these promo video clips:

Season 1 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOi7_d3GOFI

Season 2 Promo: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2909512217

Season 3 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcHx4UCqQa8

Season 4 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCaYiGQzigo

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