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  • 04/20/18--12:17: The Best Pancakes in Toronto
  • The best pancakes in Toronto are stacked sky-high, fluffy, usually dripping in some kind of sauce or syrup and often served with melty butter, airy whipped cream or both. Though they tend to share these qualities, the city’s yummiest pancakes vary surprisingly in terms of style, toppings, and even regional influence.

    Here are the best pancakes in Toronto.

    6 - The Good Fork

    Find creative pancakes with toppings like cherry compote, chocolate mascarpone and hazelnuts or orange mascarpone and vanilla meringue at this cozy Bloor West Village restaurant.
    3 - Mildred's Temple Kitchen

    Ultra-fluffy and thick Blueberry buttermilk pancakes stacked three high at this Liberty Village spot are so popular and delicious you can even order mini versions at dinner.
    9 - Isabella's Boutique Restaurant

    This place in the Beaches also makes Japanese-style pancakes albeit termed mochi pancakes, which have a distinct dense texture. Smothered in matcha or chocolate sauce with a Pocky stick stuck in them, they’re unlike any ordinary flapjacks.
    10 - Mitzi's

    You might find such wonders as salted caramel pecan buttermilk pancakes or oatmeal buttermilk pancakes at this sweet little spot in Roncesvalles Village.
    11 - Rose and Sons

    The brunch gods have bestowed us with a gift in the form of cheesecake pancakes with wild blueberries at this Annex deli.
    4 - School Bakery and Cafe

    Stacks of four or even five pancakes at this renowned brunch restaurant also in Liberty Village come in varieties like Apple Crumble with caramel, crushed pecans, brown sugar butter, maple syrup and cinnamon sugar, or Black & Blue with blueberries, blackberries and vanilla whipped cream.
    5 - Emma's Country Kitchen

    Tall stacks of golden blueberry pancakes are topped with a veritable mountain of whipped cream at this popular St. Clair West breakfast place.
    7 - Old School

    Pancakes sandwich bacon and are totally coated in tiny saucy blueberries at this Dundas West diner. There are also specials like pancakes with orange cranberry sauce and white chocolate chips.
    8 - Hanabusa Cafe

    Incredibly fluffy and jiggly Japanese souffle pancakes can be found in Toronto at this Kensington cafe. Get them with matcha, chocolate, custard or bacon and a fried egg.

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    Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts are celebrating 4/20 today under a cloud of smoke - and the watchful eye of Big Brother - at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.

    It's the last major 420 event to take place in the city before cannabis becomes legal at the federal level in Canada, making it a unique enough celebration on its own - but it's also a bit more dramatic than usual, as organizers were unable to secure a permit for the space.

    Police officers on bikes were stationed around the square, but also spoke to attendees when necessary. Photo by by Hector Vasquez.

    420 Toronto had originally hoped to bring live music, food trucks, speakers and vendors of all kinds to the square today for the annual event, which had been running for the past 11 years at Yonge-Dundas Square.

    The City of Toronto wasn't on board, however, and formally denied their request for a permit twice.

    TPS spokesperson Meaghan Gray said that police were aware of the unauthorized event heading into Friday afternoon, and that officers would "be in attendance to ensure a peaceful and safe event."

    Indeed, officers are present —large groups of them in yellow jackets on bikes — and for the most part they're just chilling back and letting people do what they want.

    The mood is a bit less festive than it could be, though, with bike cops and City of Toronto security guards shutting down anyone who looks like they're trying give away or sell goods.

    "It's very disappointing and disheartening to think that the city wouldn't embrace something that they're going to be taking hundreds of thousands, if not millions of tax dollars from," said a 37-year-old attendee who goes only by the name Fletcher.

    "I just think the police need to get on board or get the f--k out of here. The federal government is on board, so get the hell out of the way, because this is here to stay."

    A police officer speaks to 420 Festival attendees. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Another attendee, Dave, 58, asked a security guard why he was telling vendors to pack up their tables.

    "Well, you know, I can't just set up a table in your back yard," explained the guard in relation to permits.

    "Yeah, but this isn't your back yard!" replied Dave. "I pay for this. This is a public space!"

    Nathan Phillips Square was packed around 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    To be fair, police officers and security guards alike have been nothing but polite by most accounts.

    "Excuse me guys," said one guard talking to a group of people in chairs that were giving away edibles. "I'm sorry but you can't do that or give it out here."

    A security guard speaks to attendees at Toronto's annual 420 celebration. Photo by Lauren O'Neil.

    The guard told attendees that they were welcome to sit and celebrate the event — that he had no interest in stopping their fun, he just needed to enforce the bylaws that prohibit sales without a permit.

    The group packed up and went off into the crowd without incident.

    "Happy 420!" said one of the young women as the guard turned to walk away. He nodded his head and smiled.

    420 Toronto

    The famous Toronto sign was full of happy people on Friday afternoon as the sun shone down on weed fans. Photo by Lauren O'Neil.

    This is Canada, after all. 


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    If your weekend plans involve taking the train into or out of Toronto, pray for smooth contract negotiations tonight.

    Via Rail and Metrolinx both warned passengers on Friday that service could be delayed or cancelled this weekend on account of a labour dispute between Canadian Pacific Railway and two of its unions.

    A strike deadline has been set for April 21, meaning that 3,000 unionized conductors and engineers will walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. if an agreement can't be reached by midnight on Friday.

    Negotiations between management and workers have reportedly stalled, making the prospect of a strike — the third in six years for CP Rail employees — more likely than not.

    Via Rail said in a statement on Friday that, should a strike be called, it may have to cancel morning trains on Saturday and Sunday between Sudbury and White River, Ont.

    Metrolinx said similarly that there could be delays for customers on its Milton and Barrie lines, according to the Canadian Press, "if CP Rail managers filling in for union workers are unable to address signal or switch issues on CP Rail-owned portions of the corridors."


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    An illustrator is making us feel nostalgic by bringing demolished Toronto buildings back to life through his drawings. 

    From really old structures like the Wyld-Darling Building (which burned down in 1904) to still-fresh wounds like Honest Ed's, Montreal-based artist Raymond Biesinger's "18 Lost Buildings of Toronto" chronicles the buildings of Toronto's past with depictions of iconic ex-hotspots. 

    The 22-inch by 17-inch black-and white-print also features places like the classic Sam The Record Man store, and includes the dates of the buildings' inception and destruction. 

    "18 Lost Buildings of Toronto" is the latest instalment in Raymond's series of illustrations that pay homage to "those buildings of architectural, social, or historical importance that have been bulldozed or burned down before their time." 

    According to Raymond, he plans on "drawing his way through the 'lost buildings' of Canada." 

    He's already got the majority of the country's major cities covered, with similar drawings for Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton all available on his site. 

    It's a nice way to make sure Toronto's iconic buildings are never forgotten, but it's also a reminder that our city has a bad habit of tearing down beloved heritage structures. Let's hope no more buildings get added to the list. 


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    Events in Toronto today provide a number of ideas to get you out in the city. It's Record Store Day at local vinyl shops and a streetcar gets the fashion runway treatment.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Record Store Day at Tiny Record Shop (April 21 @ Tiny Record Shop)
    Celebrate all things records with new vintage vinyl titles and performances by Nefe, Tallies, Maddee and more.
    Record Store Day Afterparty (April 21 @ Henderson Brewing Co)
    After you've got your fill of vinyl, party the night away with more live performances and samples from Wild Turkey whiskey.
    Rooling Away (April 21 @ Daniel Spectrum)
    For the last weekend of Fashion Art Toronto, a TTC streetcar will double as a fashion show space.
    Versa (April 21 @ The Redwood)
    This album release/art party is set to take over The Redwood with media installations and audiovisual performances.
    Nightseeker (April 21 @ Horseshoe Tavern)
    Hoser metal rocker Deaner of Fubar celebrates the release for his beer-crazed party band new album.
    Mother Tongues (April 21 @ Handlebar)
    It's a night of psych-rock, art and melodic punk with Mother Tonge, Eyeballs, Slutcode and Weak Hands.
    The Scruff Social 2.0 (April 21 @ District 28)
    Dogs and dog lovers come together for a night of drinks, games and entertainment in support of SOS Scruffs.
    A Soulquarians Tribute (April 21 @ The Rec Room)
    A tribute to the Neo-soul supergroup is on with performances by a roster of local artists plus and afterparty.
    Beauty and Style Expo (April 21 @ Design Exchange)
    A night of cocktails, networking and fashion and beauty tips look to help you make the most out of your beauty routine.
    Techno Masquerade Ball (April 21 @ 500 Keele St)
    A west end warehouse gets transform into a techno wonderland with dance, costumes and masks.

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    The top cafes in Toronto always have amazing coffee on deck. Whether you’re heading over to hang with friends or just rolling solo for a simple cup of joe, these spots will do the trick.

    Here are my picks for the top cafes in Toronto by neighbourhood.

    Annex

    The Coffee Lab is legit one of the smallest coffee shops in Toronto. At just 52 square feet, this cafe serves up some of the best drip coffee in a space that’s basically as big as an office cubicle. Find it tucked inside Willow Books.

    Beaches

    It’s all happy vibes at Bud’s Coffee Bar, where seasoned barista Ken Gailbrath (who also runs Porch Light) makes brews from Cut Coffee and serves baked goods from Circles and Squares.

    buds coffee bar

    A latte and a pop tart might cure what ails you at Bud's Coffee Bar in the Beaches. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Brockton Village

    Grab a latte and drink it on the bleacher seating at Run and Gun, the subtly basketball-inspired cafe with tons of space for work sessions and catch-ups with friends.

    Cabbagetown

    The red drenched walls of Jet Fuel fuse cycling and coffee together by offering a bike sharing station outside the cafe. Coffee here has been a hit for years; foamy, affordable drinks being their specialty.

    Canary District

    This Dark Horse Espresso is definitely the prettiest one in the city. With huge ceilings and lots of seating, it’s the ideal spot to get some work done (try and a nab one of their extra comfy couch seats).

    top cafes by neighbourhood toronto

    Dineens in Commerce Court West is the go-to cafe for the Bay Street Crowd. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Chinatown

    Toronto coffee ingenue Sam James’ Spadina location is a minimalist go-to for great brews. Fronting the Stussy store, expect only Cut Coffee here: the single-origins beans by Sam James himself.

    Corktown

    Even if you’re not a coffee fan, Odin is worth visiting for its interior alone. Designed by Toronto firm Phaedrus, this iceberg-inspired cafe is all white decor and Baltic birch. They’ve also got full meals and cocktails too.

    Distillery District

    If you’re into pour-overs, you’ll love the Yama Silverton pour-over system at Arvo. One of the first to carry it in the city, this exposed brick Aussie bar also has a bunch of amazing espresso equipment for guaranteed amazing brews.

    strange love toronto

    Latte art is on the menu at Strange Love near the corner of King and Spadina. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Entertainment District

    The super adorable cafe Strange Love doesn’t look spacious from the outside, but it actually has a backroom with its own huge window. Decked out with a plethora of little plants, these guys also do dainy French bon bons.

    Financial District

    With two locations in the area including the corner of Yonge and Temperance and Commerce Court West, Dineen is a go-to for the Bay Street crowd.

    Junction

    A longtime favourite in the area, Crema Coffee is where people go to caffeinate themselves before a long work sesh at one of their many two-seater tables.

    top cafes by neighbourhood toronto

    Sam James' cafe in Chinatown serves as the entrance to the Stussy Store. Photo by Jesse Milns. 

    Junction Triangle

    Both a roastery and a coffee shop, the folks at Hale Coffee grind their beans in the industrial space of the Clock Factory. Head here for their cool geometric design and the intoxicating aromas of freshly roasted coffee.

    Kensington Market

    There’s a number of notable coffee shops in the Market, but Cafe Pamenar is just one of those spots that does everything well. Perfect for hangouts and work, these guys do coffee and even transform into a bumping bar at night with a no-laptop policy after dark.

    King East

    Minimalist digs and Japanese treats are the wave at Neo Coffee Bar, and their stylishly moody seating in the back is pretty good for business meetings.

    King West

    The cafe of choice for students of adjacent building BrainStation, Quantum Coffee stymies patron overflow by having customers order on one side of the bar and picking up their pour-overs from the other end.

    quantum coffee

    Quantum Coffee on King West isn't afraid to get out a blow torch to make the perfect drink. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Koreatown

    This location of Good Neighbour is even more chill than its Junction location. It’s almost always quiet in here; most people come here to grab an Americano and hunker down with a book or a laptop.

    Leslieville

    Te Aro is one of those community hangs that’s always full of locals who head there for some food and excellent coffee, courtesy of one of Toronto’s best roasters, Pilot Coffee.

    Liberty Village

    With a quaint entrance embedded in a moss-covered wall, Louie Craft Coffee has the perfect ambiance of an ideal neighbourhood cafe. It has exposed brick and delicious pastries like pecan squares, with occasional options like vegan sushi too.

    Little Italy

    The freshly baked goods at Empire Espresso are the main draw here. This lovely space serves up Cut Coffee brews and scones in an intimate setting.

    Oakwood Village

    Oakwood Espresso definitely still retains elements of its hair salon-past, in fact the vibes here are distinctly old school Italian barbershop. Run by an espresso machine repair man, this cafe has great traditional, coffee-loving vibes.

    oakwood espresso

    Oakwood Espresso in Oakwood Village is a classic neighbourhood spot to catch up on the local gossip. Photo by Jesse Milns.

    Parkdale

    Taking up some prime corner lot real estate, Capital Espresso is the gathering point for the Parkdale community, with good brews and the occasional art shows to draw in dedicated locals.

    Queen West

    Always bustling, Hot Black Coffee doesn’t offer WiFi, making it bad for work sessions but amazing for some wholesome face-to-face convos. They also do bonfires in the back in the evenings – how great is that.

    Rosedale

    Boxcar Social now has several locations around the city, but its two-storey original Victorian location took the area by storm with its cafe-bar hybrid concept. Not only does it have a patio, you can also grab slices of Yeah Yeahs through a little window in the cafe.

    hot black coffee

    A communal table and stunning light fixtures are a centrepiece at Hot Black Coffee on Queen West. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Riverside

    Customers at Merchants of Green are ride-or-die: building a strong community of coffee lovers, this cafe specializes in fair trade brews and take their coffee knowledge to another level.

    Roncesvalles

    Everything at Reunion Island is visually pleasing, from its floor tiles to its Modbar espresso system. Acting as the flagship of the 20-something year-old roastery, this place is usually flush with laptops because of their abundance of seating.

    Weston Mount-Dennis

    The only third-wave coffee shop in the area, Supercoffee is where locals gather for some Rufino brews: a good alternative if you’re sick of McDonalds and Tim Hortons double-doubles.

    goldstruck toronto

    The subterranean space at Goldstruck in Yorkville is a neighbourhood favourite. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    West Queen West

    Fix Coffee + Bikes has it all, from coffee to housemade baked goods, bags, and whole bikes for sale. Get a caffeinated pick-me-up here and ride away on your brand new wheels.

    Yonge & Dundas

    Nutellaccino: enough said. Black Canary has a Nutella cappuccino that’s at least worth a one-time visit. If you’re into comic books, you’re in luck – this joint is located inside the Silver Snail store, life-size R2-D2 and Batman statues

    Yonge & Eglinton

    Filled with top-of-the-line brewing equipment, de Mello Palheta is not only a fantastic cafe, it’s a roastery that provides beans to some of the top cafe in the city (many listed above). They’ve been doing it for over ten years – no wonder why they’re a Toronto favourite.

    Yorkville

    Goldstruck is something akin to a cozy bunker for coffee lovers. Located downstairs, this cafe is a subterranean getaway filled with pastries and espresso-based drinks.


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    The Contact Photography Festival begins next week in Toronto and that means the city will see an influx of photographic works meant to excite, rouse, surprise and engage us. There are plenty of events going on at venues all over the city by both local and international artists.

    Here are some of the must-see shows at the Contact Photography Festival in Toronto for 2018.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Queering Family Photography (April 21-26 @ Stephen Bulger Gallery)
    Taking a critical approach to family photographs, this exhibit explores how they function in creating queer modes of intimacy and belonging.
    newlandia: debaabaminaagwad (April 25 - August 5 @ Ryerson University)
    This outdoor installation by First Nations artist Scott Benesiinaabandan looks at monuments and the stories ingrained within them.
    The Castle (April 26 - June 9 @ Arsenal Contemporary Toronto)
    Photographer Richard Mosse documents refugee camps using a thermal video camera to highlight the human figures amongst the harsh environment.
    A Forest of Canoes (April 27 - August 31 @ The Bentway)
    The Bentway becomes part of the art as artist Dana Claxton considers the symbolism of the canoe in Canadian, Metis, and Indigenous histories.
    Arcades (April 28 - June 16 @ CONTACT Gallery)
    Artist Felicity Hammond uses the Toronto skyline to consider the role technology plays in building environments from digital renderings.
    Shelley Niro (April 28 - August 5 @ Ryerson Image Centre)
    Winner of the Scotiabank Photography Award, Shelley Niro’ work infuses provocative images to stir memory to uncover different narratives.
    Say Less (April 30 - June 3 @ Billboards on Lansdowne Ave at Dundas St W and College St)
    Lansdowne and Dundas is set to be transformed by multimedia artist Awol Erizku in an attempt to draw attention to issues of racial diversity in Western art.
    Anniversary (May 1-27 @ Latvian Canadian Centre)
    Five Latvian photographers come together to explore a theme that pervade everyday moments of life in Latvia.
    The Uncanny Valley Portraits (May 1-31 @ Only One Gallery)
    Wax figures prove to be a source of intrigue for photographer Peter Andrew Lusztyk as he explores the eeriness and feelings of revulsion among observers.
    Radicalia (May 1 - June 17 @ Campbell House Museum)
    Radicals of all kinds from nuns to criminals are captured through portraits in a range of photographic formats by Piero Martinello.
    True North - X (May 3-31 @ Withrow Common)
    This photo journal is set to unveil its first ever annual photobook featuring the best of Canadian documentary photography.
    Limited Edition (May 3 - June 2 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    This exhibit highlights the inherent cultural genocide and misrepresentation found in the portrait studio - a place historically reserved for the wealthy.
    Mom (May 3 - June 16 @ Scrap Metal)
    The lines between family and muse become blurred with Charlie Engman’s photographic project focused solely on his mother.
    A Telepathic Book (May 5-16 @ Black Cat Artspace)
    The Broadbent Sisters test the limits of intuition, nonverbal communication in this interactive exhibit that recreates the sensory experience.
    I Am You (May 10 - June 2 @ Nicholas Metivier Gallery)
    Photos taken by the first African-American staff photographer for LIFE, Gordon Parks, chronicle the ongoing fight for racial equality in the U.S.

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    Total Recall, Suicide Squad, Mean Girls, Handmaid’s Tale – those are just some of the many epic movies and TV shows that have been shot in Toronto. I mean, we're called Hollywood North for a reason. 

    With a number of movie studios and the ability to transform into any North American metropolitan – with the right budget, of course – Toronto is a hotspot for film and TV crews looking for extras to fill up the scene. 

    Whether you're pursuing a career in background acting or just doing it for fun, all you need to do is get your foot in the industry to land a job that lets you choose your own workdays and pays relatively well.

    Things you need to know:
    • No specific skills, acting abilities, or previous experience? Perfect, background acting doesn't require any of that – just professionalism and some patience. 
    • Union actors get paid $26.75 an hour, non-union actors are paid $14.
    • A lot of background acting is just hanging out in the holding area until it's your turn to be on set, so bring something to keep yourself entertained. 
    • Some days you'll have wardrobe and stylists provided. Other days, you'll be required to bring your own wardrobe, depending on what the director is looking for. (i.e: warm tones only, business attire, etc.) Make sure to bring extra options. 
    • Food provided to non-union background actors suck (sometimes for union actors too). Bring your own snacks. 
    • Expect long hours; average shoot times run between 8 and 18 hours.
    • That being said, good news: union sets have an eight-hour minimum, which means if – on the off chance – you only have to work three hours (even if you're a non-union actor), you'll still be paid for eight hours-worth of work. 
    Join an agency or extras service

    Sure, you can go agent-less and try to score some gigs through Facebook posts, casting websites and Kijiji. But if you're new to the business, it's recommended your first step is to apply to an extras service or agency, since they'll have the plug for all the city's hot new gigs. 

    Along with offering way more opportunities, agencies will handle all the fine details so you can concentrate on the gig.  If you fit the description of a role, your agency will send you the info on where, what time, and what to bring to your shoot. 

    Average annual fees usually range between $75 to $150 a year plus a registration fee if you're a non-union member; not bad since you'll usually be making more than $100 per gig. 

    Some services will require a headshot, while others will help you take the headshot for you. Either way, it's important to choose an agency that's right for you, since you'll have to sign a contract and pay an annual fee plus commission. Watch out for scams. 

    Some background actor agencies/services:
    Finding castings yourself: 
    ACTRA vs. Non-Union

    After finding a good agency or service, the next step if figuring out if you want to be part of the actors' union. With some gigs under your belt, you can decide whether or not you want to join ACTRA, Canada's English-speaking media labour union.

    There are two tiers of ACTRA memberships: apprentice and full member. Apprentices need to gain credits before becoming full members, which then require a $1600 initiation fee plus an annual membership of $195.

    It sounds a little complicated at first, but the ACTRA website details the process pretty clearly. 

    At the end of the day, becoming an ACTRA member is ideal for people who want to make acting their full-time job and have already have a bit of a portfolio built up. Having somebody at your agency walk you through the process will make things easier. 

    ACTRA Additional Background Performer

    If you're just at the starting stages of your career, ACTRA offers the option of becoming an ACTRA Additional Background Performer (AABP), which is somewhere between being union and non-union.

    Best for beginners, it's one tier below apprenticeship. Although AABP members are still paid non-union rates, they still have access to many ACTRA benefits. In order to apply, head to your local ACTRA membership office and provide the following:

    • Proof of Canadian citizenship or PR.
    • A current head shot.
    • Proof that you've worked as a background actor at least 15 days in the past year (which constitutes as April 1 to March 31). 

    Annual AABP fees are much cheaper than regular memberships, at $30 a year. Once you join, you won't be allowed to work on non-union productions – probably the biggest drawback of becoming an AABP member. 

    Benefits, however, include more regulations provided to ensure safety and better working conditions (and way better food). Plus, members get access to some of ACTRA's studio facilities, free acting classes, and retail discounts via the Membership Advantage Program. 

    AABP members are also allowed to showcase themselves on ACTRA's Digital Self-Promotion Registry and get access to work opportunities that non-union actors aren't allowed to take: 

    • Background work in union commercials
    • Work in Toronto Indie Productions 
    • Work in Toronto Co-op production

    After 200 days of background work, AABP members can then apply to become ACTRA Apprentices, and work towards being a full member. 

    Non-union members 

    With all that being said, most background actors work outside of ACTRA, and that can be beneficial at times. 

    All production sets have an ACTRA count, meaning a minimum number of union actors. Once those are met, it's a free-for-all for non-union actors. Some production budgets may even specifically request non-union actors, as they're less expensive and don't have overtime fees. 

    Besides eating crappier food than ACTRA members and often working longer hours, being non-union is the ideal option for those who just want to make the extra buck here in a more non-committal setting. 

    Background acting do's
    • Bring your SIN card and a form of government ID to every shoot, for paperwork purposes. If you forget these, getting paid will take longer and be much more complicated.
    • Bring outfit alternatives if you're required to bring your own wardrobe.
    • Make sure you follow hair and makeup instructions closely if you're required to do your own. 
    • Be quiet on set. 
    • Turn off your phone completely. 
    • Make sure to tell Assistant Directors when you need to go the washroom or leave for a smoke break – going missing during a shoot looks pretty bad. 
    Background acting don't's
    • Don't be late – nothing will get you blacklisted from the background acting industry quicker than tardiness. 
    • Don't get chatty on set, not even a whisper, because the mics on set will pick up everything.
    • Don't take photos on set. 
    • Don't take food from the craft table unless it's your turn. 
    • Don't invite your friends, families and significant others to the set. 
    • Don't fall asleep on set, even when there's nothing to do. 

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    A new app springing up on university campuses is basically like Bunz Trading Zone, but just for students.

    Available at U of T, Ryerson, York, Guelph, and Humber's Lakeshore campus, Bgon is a trading app that allows users to buy and sell stuff using their phones. 

    From used textbooks, clothes and old games to "notes from last semester's biology glass", users can upload photos of their for-sale items onto the app and wait for fellow students to bite. 

    With the slogan "Sell that sh*t. Buy Beer. Something like that." the app encourages students to "save money on stuff they want and make money on shit they don't."

    The app includes a discover page that lets students browse categories like electronics, notes, and housing goods, plus items that are $10 and under. It also has a chat function, wish list feature, and the option to specify what you're looking for in your profile. 

    Co-founded by recent grads Seyan Kumaresan, Mackenzie Scott and Wilson Scott – still a student a York University – the app initially launched in 2016 but has since rebranded and undergone a redesign. 

    Now, students can #sellshit more seamlessly – with a tight student budget, a used textbook or two will at least get you one month's worth of food, or at the very least one night of beer. 


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    Playing bingo in Toronto will get your heart rate going in ways you didn't think possible. Head to any of these bingo hotspots and prepare yourself for some loud yelling and possibly some sweaty palms. 

    Here's a round-up of places to play bingo in Toronto. 

    Delta

    The largest bingo chain in Ontario, these halls are where people go to bet some dollars and blow off some steam. It's serious here: head to two of their locations at St. Clair West and Wilson Avenue for some digital or paper bingo – oh yeah, and bring your cash, lots of it. 

    Kennedy Bingo

    This Scarborough bingo hall on Kennedy Road runs four sessions daily on Fridays and weekends, and three on every other day. Super jackpots here can run up to $5,000, if you get a full card in the designated number. These people aren't playing around. 

    Dolphin Gaming

    It's cash only at this big Scarborough bingo hall on Eglinton East. Good news is, it's not all rough-and-tough grannies here; there's people of all ages frequenting Dolphin. If you're a noob, though, good luck trying to hear the speedy callers. 

    Ultimate Bingo

    Located in North York on Steeles, this place isn't fancy but it has jackpots that go as high as $68,000. Get all your numbers and you'll be able to pay of your student loan or mortgage easily.

    Gladstone Hotel

    Way less intense than the official halls, this weekly event is held every Wednesday between 7 and 10 p.m. Instead of using numbers, the host plays music clips from the likes of Beyonce and Stevie Wonder – all while you slowly get drunk on beer from Amsterdam Brewery. 

    The Drake Hotel

    Partnering with LolaSue, the Drake throws bingo nights every Tuesday starting at 8 p.m. sharp. It's $10 for 8 cards and $15 for 24; bottles are usually half off on those days so expect a night of drunken fun and prizes. 

    Brazen Head 

    It's free to play at this Liberty Village pub's weekly Tuesday bingo parties. Hosted by Kaleb Roberston (the same who hosts the one at the Gladstone) it's music bingo, meaning singing along is pretty much mandatory. 

    Nightowl

    In the last Thursday of every month, this bar in Little Italy hosts its Boozy Bingo event starting at 8p.m, providing drink specials throughout the evening and prizes to be won for your hard-earned work. 

    Black Eagle

    If being leather-clad while playing bingo is a concept that intrigues you, head to Church Street for monthly Reagle Beagle Bingo at 4 p.m. Hosted by Randy Spearhead, it's cover-free, and a drink purchase will get you a bingo card, with all proceeds going to charities. 


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    We've all seen them: the TV shows on American networks about grisly murders and FBI cases gone cold. These programs – usually aired after hours – have compelled the public imagination for decades, whether we like to admit it or not. 

    While the true crime genre has always been a source of entertainment for the macabre mind, for years it's felt like an enjoyment best kept on the low, lest consumers be labelled as 'dark' or 'morbid' for liking it. 

    But the genre has just recently reentered some type of renaissance, slowly emerging from the shadowy depths of late night TV to highly publicized Netflix shows like Making a Murderer and the star-studded production O.J. Simpson: Made In America. 

    Now with the arrival of the wildly popular podcast My Favourite Murder– a show where two female comedians discuss their favourite murder cases – and the homegrown Minds of Madness, the genre has reached a new level of accessibility, and with it, a historic peak in pop culture. 

    It's no coincidence then that Toronto is getting a brand new film festival dedicated entirely to true crime this summer. Screening five movies, the festival will feature documentaries and fiction films based on real crime events – the first festival of its kind in the city.

    "There's a movement to make true crime something more than just tabloids," says Lisa Gallagher, director of the Toronto True Crime Film Festival.

    As a film industry professional and longtime true crime fan, Lisa says she "saw a hole" in the world of film festivals that needed to be filled.

    Last September, she witnessed thousands of My Favourite Murder fans (a.k.a "murderinos") pack in to the Sony Centre for a live recording of the Los Angeles-based podcast. It was an undeniable sign that Toronto's true crime fan base was alive and hungry for more content.

    "I just knew the audience was there," she says. 

    So far, her festival has garnered interest from over 3,000 people on Facebook, and its IndieGogo campaign is just a few days away from achieving its goal of $3,500. 

    The method of consuming true crime has evolved drastically over the years and though books are still immensely popular, the more passive, lonely approach of Capote's In Cold Blood days have recently been replaced by more interactive media like podcasts and TV shows. 

     "The people who are making true crime content now are making it for a different audience," says Lisa. 

    "Tabloid-y true crime shows still exist, but now there's content being created for people who like true crime but also like victims' advocacy and social justice." 

    While never victimless, true crime isn't always about murder. This category of storytelling also includes heists, kidnappings, white-collar crime – basically anything that involves lawbreaking in spectacular fashion.

    And now with more time and room for discussion, this new era of true crime affords fans the space to look at criminal acts in broader social contexts, from the failures of law enforcement to institutional prejudice, instead of just dissecting them as one-off events. 

    "It’s equal parts terrifying and it’s heartbreaking, but it’s also something that especially as women we appreciate because it’s bringing to light how disproportionate violence is towards women or minorities," says Lisa. 

    Right now, the Facebook group for Toronto's My Favourite Murder fans numbers just below 1,000, the majority of whom are women. 

    Created by group administrator Paddy Jane last year, MFM's Toronto chapter also hosts in-person meet ups, discussing not only the podcast's latest episodes but also events happening in real time.

    "The group gives a safe space for people to vent too," says Paddy.

    For example, as the case of Bruce McArthur began to unfold, MFM Toronto's page became a platform for both mourning and criticism, with in-depth discussions flooding the group's timeline even before police had dubbed the alleged murderer of eight men a serial killer.

    According to Paddy, many members of MFM Toronto took the opportunity to express feeling "frustrated and hurt" by law enforcement's policies when it came to investigating missing and murdered people in the 2SLGBTQA+ community.

    At surface level, the MFM Toronto page is just one of many fan clubs residing on Facebook. But at its core, the group is a rare outlet for people – especially those from vulnerable communities – to share their concerns in solidarity with others.  

    "Learning about criminals and how they lure their victims literally feels like arming yourself with knowledge to stay safe."

    Congregating to dissect the genre's tragedies – and in some cases, triumphs – is more than just an exchange of horror stories. It's cathartic, an experience that requires a certain sense of camaraderie between the people who consume it. 

    Lisa says, "It's equal parts reminder to stay safe but also to live life better, because you don’t know what’s going to happen."

    "It never ceases to amaze me how complex it is to like true crime."


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    Restaurants to eat Hong Kong-style Western food are where you'll find fusion favourites like cheese-baked spaghettis and Hong Kong-style French toast. Melding Cantonese and Western cuisine, you'll find lunch specials here, plus cups of quintessential Hong Kong-style milk tea. 

    Here are my picks for the top restaurants for Hong Kong-style Western food in Toronto.

    Phoenix

    This popular Chinese chain has locations in Markham and Scarborough, plus a restaurant at Yonge and Dundas. Specializing in Cantonese food fused with Malaysian and the occasional Taiwanese flavour, Phoenix also does Canto-Western fare like buttery pineapple buns and milk tea. 

    Marathon Cafe

    The award-winning owners of Marathon Donuts and Coffee Shop also run this restaurant on East Beaver Creek. Along with their famous Hong Kong-style milk tea, they serve dishes like baked rice, bowls of macaroni soup and fish cutlets.

    Ming’s Noodle

    A popular Canto-Western diner, this cafe on Kennedy is just steps from PMall and offers all the usual Hong Kong favourites like set lunches and dinners of ham and toast or milk teas to accompany their thick bricks toasts.

    Hong Kong Bistro Cafe

    Located in Chinatown, this has been a longtime go-to for nearby residents looking for cheap meal options. Best known for their selection of baked dishes – like pork chops on rice covered with tomato sauce – their meals are affordable for the size. 

    New City Restaurant

    This spot on Kennedy road offers fries with a side of crispy, fried chicken wings, a staple in Canto-Western cuisine, and like most other restaurants of its kind, serves a complimentary bowl of Hong Kong-style borscht soup as a starter.

    Food Kingdom

    Tucked away inside Scarborough's Splendid China Tower, you can try simple meals of egg sandwiches with luncheon meat and shrimp fried toasts here for low prices.

    Dickens Cafe

    The best thing about this Richmond Hill restaurant is how comfy it is: it's much cleaner than some other Canto-Western diners while still serving the usual afternoon tea specials. 

    Canteen

    Head to the second floor of Dragon City in Chinatown and you'll find this little cafe that has everything from spaghetti to ham and egg sandwiches, accompanied by Hong Kong-style borscht and two pieces of complimentary garlic bread. 

    Pine House Cafe

    With better quality Hong Kong-style dishes than usual, this spot at the corner of Steeles and Middlefield has a tiny menu but its cubed French toast is super unique – worth a try if you're looking for something beyond regular brick toast. 

    Tasty Delight

    This Ravel Road restaurant used to be called Leslie Cafe before undergoing renovations. Though not the cheapest on the list, it's long been a reliable spot for a good cup of Hong Kong-style milk tea and servings of baked spaghetti. 


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    Events in Toronto today will see a celebration of this planet we call home with a big party in the park and an Earth Day-themed flea market and clothing swap.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Mother Earth Day Celebration (April 22 @ Christie Pits Park)
    Give thanks to the earth with a day in Christie Pits featuring music and talks.
    Gladstone Flea (April 22 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    The Earth Day edition of the Gladstone Flea will feature goods from local, ethical and sustainable makers.
    Drop, Swap and Shop (April 22 @ Evergreen Brick Works)
    Clear your wardrobe at this Earth Day edition of the bi-annual Drop, Swap and Shop.
    Forbidden Planet (April 22 @ Revue Cinema)
    Host Nathalie Atkinson and cartoonist Seth discuss the robots, spaceships, buried cities and interstellar costumes in the film.
    Love is Everywhere (April 22 @ Comedy Bar)
    Inject some positivity into your life with stand up and improv inspired by the science of happiness.
    Wild Ones at The Baby G (April 22 @ The Baby G)
    Having dropped their name into the dream pop hat, the result is a sensuous, slow-moving take on the genre
    Toronto Sandwich Fest (April 22 @ Artscape Wychwood Barns)
    Go for the sandwich tastings but stay for the design competition and easting contest.
    Echosmith (April 22 @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre)
    These California indie darlings have found international fame with mega hits like "Cool Kids".
    Diende Visus (April 22 @ 918 Bathurst)
    A collection of new media art pieces look to represent the new generation of upcoming artists and their exhibition artwork.
    Intent to Destroy (April 22 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    This documentary and panel discussion explores the idea of achieving justice in the aftermath of atrocity.

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    Free events in Toronto this week include a cinnamon bun give-away, an award winning exhibition from the CONTACT Photography Festival and Mo Williams in to talk about his tats.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Whiskey and Ink (April 24 @ Only One Gallery)
    Sip on some whiskey while Mo Williams and rising basketball stars tell the story behind their tattoos.
    Free Cinnamon Bun Giveaway (April 25 @ King St and Bay St)
    Drop by the corner of King and Bay to pick up a free lingonberry-glazed bun courtesy of Fjällräven.
    Resourced (April 25 - May 5 @ Trinity Square Video)
    Artist Ben McCarthy uses sound, installation and VR to document the self-narrated stories of all types of workers.
    Best of LGBT and Under 5 Minute Film Festival (April 26 @ Carlton Cinemas)
    This free screening of shorts looks at films from the LGBT and Under 5 Minute film festivals from all over the world.
    Shelley Niro (April 28 - August 5 @ Ryerson Image Centre)
    Part of the CONTACT festival, Shelley Niro’s work infuses provocative images to stir memory.

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    After a very, very long winter, it looks like food truck owners can finally dust off their four-wheeled steeds and start slinging some tasty meals from their concession windows in celebration of spring.

    The question of whether or not these food trucks will be able to make sales of those meals, however, depends on more than just the weather. 

    Though festivals like Food Truck'N Friday have already kicked off and rising temperatures seem promising, Toronto's food truck industry doesn't seemed poised to reach new heights of success this year, despite having plenty of businesses willing to try. 

    According to the CBC, there's been a 400 percent increase of food trucks driving around during lunch hours since 2015, when the first city eased up on regulations surrounding mobile food services.

    Toronto, however, hasn't been equipped to handle that growth. 

    With limited places to set up shop and a cap of no more than two trucks per city block, most businesses often find themselves vying for the same public food truck hot spots during the warmer months.

    Add that to the overhead costs of the truck, insurance, and employees' wages, and it's no surprise that many food trucks rely on catering more than actual vending sales. 

    "I think the city needs to open up more spots," says Sumit Kohli, the co-owner of Kathi Roll, a fleet of three food trucks selling Indian street food. 

    "If you expect a truck to spend that type of money, you should give them more opportunities," he says, suggesting the stretch of the King Street Pilot as ideal real estate for food truck businesses to operate. 

    Formerly a brick and mortar at Yonge and Bloor, Kathi Roll just opened last year, and according to Kohli, the restaurant's move into the food truck industry has been "a smooth transition."

    With both private and public permits, catering, and revenue from food festivals, Kathi Roll – unlike so many others – has been doing well, mostly because of the ex-restaurant's existing customer base.

    But for the many new businesses who don't have the benefit of a legacy brand, it's much less likely they'll find success in Toronto without some adjustments to their business model. 

    "The market itself didn't grow," says Matt Basile, owner of the popular food truck Fidel Gastro. "There [are] too many trucks growing too quickly."

    Basile has been in the food truck industry for nearly a decade, having launched his business before "the initial novelty of food trucks wore off a bit." Now he runs Fidel Gastro and Lisa Marie, the restaurant on Queen West borne of his food truck's success.

    He says Fidel Gastro was able to navigate the industry's less-than-ideal environment because it defined itself as "a street food company that had a food truck", rather than just a food truck, full stop. 

    "I really don't see how you can make a full business case off of just that approach," he says. 

    With the traditional concept of food trucks – that is, the act of roaming the streets looking for customers – becoming less profitable, business owners have turned to catering as their bread and butter. 

    Some are also ditching the public permits completely, opting for the cheaper private permits that allow food trucks to serve customers outside of offices, breweries, and other privately owned properties, rather than trying to vend on public roads at all.

    According to Basile, 70 percent of Fidel Gastro's revenue comes from catering and another 25 percent comes from food truck festivals, with only 5 percent coming from curbside services. 

    This business model safeguards businesses during the off season, especially since the trucks can only really function outside for six to seven months of the year. 

    And since it doesn't look like the city plans on making anymore regulatory changes anytime soon (unless they decide to follow in Mississauga's footsteps) there's a need now more than ever for food trucks to start acting more like actual restaurants than stalls on wheels.

    "The conversation isn't top of mind anymore," says Basile. "And for us, we’re not waiting around for anything to change.”