The jtkwriting Blog

So, basically I just blog about life, stories I've read, stories I write, movies I've seen and the plethora of oddities that run through my brain.

Category: Life

Meet bar & kitchen: Jonny Nadler

10455125_10152368558619531_2304748398080098274_nComfort, honesty, and love. These are the words that Jonny Nadler believes in. They are his managing philosophy and they are what he gives every guest of bar & kitchen when they cross the threshold into his latest hospitality venture.

Jonny has built this philosophy over a lifetime in the food & beverage industry which started under the tutelage of his father who, from the time he was a child, showed Jonny the hard work necessary to build a successful business. Since those early days, Jonny has gone on to manage establishments first in Guelph and then in Toronto. His experience at the University of Guelph led to work with the Guelph Storm and the historic landmark, The Albion Hotel, the latter being a major point of pride and touchstone of his life and career.

Arriving in Toronto, Jonny notes his time at The Mill Street Brew Pub and El Catrin as highlights, both of which allowed him to build his brand and philosophy. In August of 2013, Jonny arrived at Game Day in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Toronto. In the year that passed, Jonny’s passion for hospitality shone, building relationships with customers that he wishes to carry through as he takes his thirst for growth and evolution to bar & kitchen.

Comfort, honesty, and love. “The food is very honest, the people are very warm and the drinks give you a lot of love,” he says with a smile and wistful glance, no doubt, towards the future.

With this philosophy Jonny welcomes you to bar & kitchen where the feeling of community is prevalent. The investment in people and building honest, full relationships with guests is something he prides himself on, where gratitude comes not in the form of a pat on the back, but in having a guest return for more comfort, honesty and love.

NaNoWriMo 2014

Sophie-keep-calmSo it’s the middle of November and that means that it’s the middle of NaNoWriMo also known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel, of at least 50,000 words, during the month of November. This works out to 1667 words a day or 50,000 in one day, but no matter how you break it down, it’s a task to be conquered. I am proud to say that I did it but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the beauty of what can come from completing the task.

First, you feel great because no matter how shit your manuscript is, you’re writing! I remember it was about this time of the month that I got lost in how to continue my own novel. So I just went for it. I just kept writing and the second half of the novel was so utterly bad I was embarrassed to read it, but at the same time I just went with it with the ethos that editing is the most important task besides writing.

So, second, you realize how important editing is! Even writing this post, I wish I had edited the last sentence so it didn’t end in a verb! The manuscript I wrote for NaNoWriMo has been edited through 10 drafts and I finally got it to the point where I felt comfortable enough to pitch to agents. It’s been summarily rejected so far but at least I’m doing it and it all started with NaNoWriMo 2009.

So, third, it can all start with NaNoWriMo 2014! It’s not too late to start. You have until December 1st! But even then, just because thousands of people won’t be writing along side you around the world, doesn’t mean you can’t make every month NaNoWriMo, or every week. Take December and write a short story every week or a short play, or whatever the hell you want.

The most important thing is to keep writing. Why NaNoWriMo is so important is that it breaks down a schedule for you to know what can be accomplished in a month. By writing 1667 words a day you can have a novel written in 30 days. And what’s better than that? Well, a lot of things but also maybe not!

Keep writing! Good luck!

“Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh

blog_126 It seems like honesty is the word of the day, or maybe I’ve just stopped reading fluffy crap. Allie Brosh is a brave, witty, honest sensation. A combination of self-drawn comics and prose from her blog – also titled, Hyperbole and a Half – the book covers topics from her life such as depression, identity, guilt, adulthood, and cake. She also details some hilarious anecdotes about her dogs and one terrifying incident with a goose. This is a must read for anyone who seriously questions themselves and doesn’t suffer fools, or their own bullshit, kindly. It is probably one of the most important books ever published because of its unfettered and yes again, honest nature. A must read.

Word on the Street 2014

index 1 Toronto’s annual writing walk in the park, The Word on the Street, is back this Sunday. The Word on the Street is a literary festival that helps connect writers, readers and publishers of words with each other and the world. With a plethora of exhibits from all corners of the writing and publishing world, one can’t help but find something that he or she will enjoy be it in the form of an exhibitor’s tent, an author talk or interview, a workshop or a reading. The free event runs from 11am to 6pm on September 21st, in Queen’s Park.

Check out the website in the link above for all the details and follow the event on twitter @torontoWOTS.

FALL 2014 PREVIEW!

Here is a very short list of things happening in fair Toronto in the next and best four months. Get out and enjoy! Yay art!

Toronto Independent Film Festival: September 4 – 13 @ Carlton Cinema

Toronto International Film Festival: September 4 – 14 @ Various Venues

The One More Night Festival: September 11 – 14 @ The Box

Queen West Art Crawl: September 12 – 14 @ Trinity Bellwoods Park

Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) Fall Workshops: September 16 – December 17 @ 1137 Dupont Street

JFL42: September 18 – 27 @ Sony Centre and others

The Word on the Street: September 21 @ Queen’s Park

Culture Days: September 26 – 28 @ Various Venues

International Festival of Authors: October 23 – November 2 @ Harbourfront Centre

Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair: November 13 – 16 @ Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Toronto’s Writing Spaces vol. 1: “Hart House”

Welcome to my new weekly “column” about writing spaces in Toronto. It is my intention to profile places around the city where I have written and places where you too can write. It is an idea I have had for a while and I thought now is a better time than tomorrow to get started on this particular adventure through the city in an attempt to explore new writing spaces while also sharing my experiences with other writerly-types who “just can’t work at home.” I hope the journey will be as enjoyable for you as I know it will be for me. Without further ado, let us start with the place I have been writing for the last decade.

debates_content_imageWhere: 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, Ontario

When: This particular time was a summer evening, though I have also written here in the morning and afternoon and each has their benefits. Evening is generally less busy which means it is also more quiet. If you arrive early enough, say before 10am, you will find the same atmosphere. Between 11am and 6pm most classes are taking place and thus when the most students and faculty are milling around. This can be an issue with seating, which is why I enjoy either the early morning or evening hours.

I wrote: Blog posts

Inspiration: I come to write at Hart House with inspiration already in check as it is my default office away from home. If you are looking for inspiration you can find it in the Gothic architecture, the sprawling nature of the University of Toronto’s downtown campus and the student life that surrounds you.

Review: Hart House, being a student centre, is busier during the autumn and winter months, though there is still a spattering of patrons in the summer months. My favourite place to write is the small library on the second floor at the west side of the building. They are currently doing renovations but the design is Gothic and it would take more than the month they have allotted to make any major changes to this. What I enjoy the most is the silence of the space and its comfort. If you can wrestle part of a couch away from a napper I find they – the couches – are ideal. The window wells also offer comfort, though the radiators underneath can really belt out the warmth and it can get pretty toasty if you get too close.

In addition to the library, my other favourite spot is the large table in the second floor vestibule near the Gallery Grill. It is great for group writing sessions, but also for solo ventures. And because of the size of the table – think a 4ft. by 4ft. square – you have enough space to set-up a comfortable working space and have all your notes strewn about in whatever manner you desire.

All of the writing space at Hart House is public, with no private rooms for rent so I would say it is best for the actual task of writing. Some rooms are more social and do allow for conversation, but I have mostly come here solo and so have no need for conversing in any way but with my fingers tapping a keyboard.

With respect to outside space, there is a patio on the south side of the building that is more or less connected with the Arbor Room, a cafeteria, that is located in the basement. I would recommend coming with a full laptop battery and sunglasses if you desire to sit outside, though I can’t speak to this specifically because I always find myself wandering inside. Another outside space is the courtyard in the centre of the building. It is quieter and more serene but seating is scarce and because Hart House is also an event space for weddings and conferences, the courtyard space is usually being used for such things. If you want to write in a better “courtyard/atrium” type space, walk the literal 30 seconds next door to the University College building and make your way to its interior. I enjoy this outdoor space more than the one at Hart House.

Hours: 7am to Midnight, literally everyday

Food/Drink: Arbor Room cafeteria; Gallery Grill; Vending Machines

WiFi: Yes, but it is only available to students.

A/C: No.

Website: Hart House

Robin Williams: A Light Through the Darkness

index Comedy is a light that shines through and can defeat the darkness of the human soul. For all the light that Robin Williams brought into our lives, it was his darkness that unfortunately took over in the moments that would ultimately lead to his untimely demise. Behind all great comedy and comedians there is a darkness that resonates and with all of Robin Williams performances there was always a darker element against which the comedy was played. It allowed him to shine brighter and impact us more. His talent allowed him to do that on the level he did. A lesser artist would not have moved us with the magnitude of Robin Williams.  His legacy is not one of darkness though, even in his more serious roles.

Behind the red nose of Patch Adams there was death surrounding the character and the fight for laughter and dignity. While we were whisked away to Neverland with the boy who eventually grew up, Hook played with the father-son dynamic and the possibility of family disintegration. Mrs. Doubtfire played with the same theme as Hook but gave us a Scottish Williams in drag. Good Morning Vietnam was one of his darkest comedies. Set against the growing conflict of the Vietnam War, Williams, as a radio DJ, brought laughter to those who weren’t even aware they needed it. There is one scene in particular where Williams and Forest Whitaker are stuck in traffic surrounded by soldiers fresh from the U.S. and on their way to battle. Williams entertains them and has them gasping with laughter. As the traffic lifts, the trucks roll out and rather than having a smile of joy, Williams expression is solemn knowing these young men were being trucked off to scenes of horror and, more than likely, their own deaths as Williams character was apprised to news that was being held back from the troops. In a turn of 3 minutes, the scene went from tense, to jubilant, to dire. In these films, laughter and comedy bounced off and burst through the caverns built by tribulation and melancholy, but it is because of that potential sadness that the laughter played the role and had the impact it did.

Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. With these films Williams showcased his depth beyond the iconic monologues. He showed us that it is possible for one scene and one actor to make us laugh, cry, yell in anger and cheer in celebration. He played characters with turbulent pasts that they are in the process of working themselves through when we see Williams inhabit them. In Dead Poets, we are inspired by John Keating and in Good Will Hunting we are inspired with Sean Maguire. They both teach by different methods and Williams depth and breadth as an actor allowed these films and these characters to succeed with their respective lessons as he hit the right beats at the right time on the spectrum of emotion that would have the most impact.

Whether it was through his stand-up or his various television and film roles, his performances elicited emotion, which all art is meant to do. Great art and great artists make us feel something. They make us feel something, ultimately, about ourselves. They make us want to change ourselves, even if it is just a different look to make us feel better internally. Robin Williams never directly motivated me, but he showed what someone can do when they throw away “the book of caring what people think” and  they go for it. For the sake of character, performance and sometimes simply to make someone laugh, Williams always went for it. I would say he was underrated with respect to the first two because we knew him mostly for his flamboyance and hilarity. Whereas George Carlin said things we wished we could, Robin Williams said things in a way we wished we could. For people of my generation, his movies were a big part of our childhood for reasons we can and will never be able to totally explain because I would argue we have forgotten the specifics of the matter. We can thank the better part of nostalgia for this. The better part being that which allows us to forget the specific but remember the general. The all encompassing feeling of joy, or simply of feeling, that Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire or Good Will Hunting gave us. Which is the very definition of beautiful.

From all accounts, Robin Williams lost his battle with addiction and depression and took his own life on August 11th, 2014. His smile will always give a reminder to a time when we smiled and laughed along with him. That smile also masked what must have been some very dark thoughts that led to his end. If you are struggling with darkness yourself, there is not much else to say other than don’t give up. Not because you owe anyone anything, but because the ultimate release you seek is not at the bottom of a pill or liquor bottle, nor is it at the end of blade, the nozzle of a gun, the bottom of a fall, or in the tight knot of a noose. The only real peace you can find is overcoming that struggle while you are still able to feel. For every valley there is a peak. In the moment before something drastic, reach out. There is always someone willing to talk even if that person is a stranger. Maybe that stranger is the better option than someone close. I don’t know who said it, but remember that suicidal feelings are the result of your body’s inability or lack of resources to manage or cope with the emotional or physical pain you are feeling. While it may seem like it is all in your head, it is not. It is a physical reaction and there are resources out there to help you make up for the ones, through no fault of your own, you have not developed yet. Reach out. Always.

Here are some resources:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Artists’ Health Centre

Michael Landsberg’s “Sick Not Weak” Campaign – an amazing thing. Also: #sicknotweak and follow Michael on twitter for daily updates.

Rest, hopefully, in peace Robin Williams. Thank you for your talent, your smile and your light.

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