Sunday, August 28, 2011


I've always been a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes, so much so that I have wallpaper watercolours of Bill Waterson's dynamic-duo for my home desktop, my work computer, and my phone. And of course, I own almost all of the books. (I'm missing a few of the compilations, though I'd love to get my hands on the Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Only 1440 pages!)

My love for all things Calvin and Hobbes started in 1993, the same year I started grade four at a new school. At my previous school, X-Men comics had been all the rage, but in the quiet suburbs of Etobicoke, kids couldn't get enough of Waterson's spikey-haired kid and his stuffed tiger. It wasn't long before I fell under the same spell. Thankfully, the school librarian was doing her job, and the library was fully stocked with all the books and compilations.

My first Calvin and Hobbes book (which I still have, though it's a little dog-eared) was Yukon-Ho!. The title's derived from a story in which Calvin decides to run away from home and move to the Yukon, as its the only place where you can "yell and cuss," and "where life can have real meaning." Perhaps a new slogan for the Yukon tourism board?

The poster pictured above was made for me in 1994 by a very kind and talented uncle. Unfortunately, there are two spelling mistakes in the comic. First, my last name is missing a "c" in the title, and second, "delight" is spelled incorrectly in the third last panel.

Bonus points if you can figure out where the tree in the last panel comes from. (Hint: the children's story also features stuffed animals.)

Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: MicCalvinalowi[c]z

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Do Arenas Changeover from Ice Rink to Basketball Court?

In late-March, I spent the night at the Air Canada Centre with Torontoist photographers Chris Drost and Miles Story, to research how the arena pulls off its ice-to-court conversions. You can read my full article on the process at Torontoist.

To date, this is easily the most ambitious thing I've ever produced for the site (or for any site, for that matter). Coordinating with MLSE took more than a month; on the day of, I was at the ACC for almost 12 hours (8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.); and after I transcribed all of my interviews and notes from the night I had about 10,000 words worth of material. Yet somehow, I managed to pack it into a 1,500 word article. (Chris and Miles also took around 60,000 photos, which they compiled into the two minute video above. Amazing, amazing work.)

Anyway, I thought I'd use the opportunity here to talk about a few of the more interesting things that never made it into the article.

How Logos are Painted on the Ice

Contrary to popular belief, most of the logos at the Air Canada Centre—like the big maple leaf at centre ice—aren't painted on anymore. Like most other NHL arenas, the ACC uses a company called Jet Ice, which creates large vinyl mesh logos that can just be slapped down, and ripped out as necessary. Only a few of the ads and some of the special event logos are still painted.


After every game, the ACC employs a separate outsourced cleanup crew to work its way through the stands picking up trash, sweeping, and moping. Cleaning up after the fans takes almost as long as the conversion process.

Conversions at Maple Leaf Gardens

Back in the day, the Gardens just used to use plywood instead of frictionless ice deck when it converted to concerts. Wood sticks to ice, which made converting easier, as the entire deck didn't have to be down before forklifts could drive on it. The downside was, if it was down for too long, any trapped air between the pieces would start to chew through the ice, leaving giant holes that would need to be repaired.

How Other Arenas Do It

Unlike the ACC, which has a dedicated crew, some arenas in the States just pick people up off the street to do conversions. At 10 p.m., they'll open the doors and take the first 60 people who show up.

At the SkyDome, reportedly, baseball conversions take almost 24 hours.

Video by Chris Drost and Miles Story.

> Continue Reading: How Do Arenas Changeover from Ice Rink to Basketball Court?