self isolation

Stay The Fuck Home The Creature From The Black Lagoon Edition

I have a soft spot for B-movie creatures. My biggest soft spot is for King Kong, Frankenstein and the Creature from The Black Lagoon. I often wonder if I’m drawn to them because I always feel like I’m out of my element, especially when I was a teenager. I felt like I was growing up in a place I not only didn’t belong in, but was put there without my own choice. The three creatures I just mentioned, were either yanked away from their home, brought back to life against their will or had their home invaded by unwelcome visitors. All things they never asked for. All things throwing them out of their own element.

Many moons ago, while I was browsing DVDs at Sonic Boom (Toronto), I came across one of many box sets I ended up purchasing, of these beloved creatures. The first one I bought was Frankenstein, then The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Then Dracula and finally The Wolf Man. The only one I’m missing is The Mummy (again… my birthday is coming soon). I’ve watched all of these box sets over and over again, but the one I’ve watched the most is The Creature From The Black Lagoon. I tend to crave it the most right around this time of year. I’m not sure why. I tend to watch it along with the first Jaws movie. Maybe it’s my version so Summer Fever?

My good friend Carlin who passed away in December of 2019 created dolls and made me my very own Creature From The Black Lagoon. I will cherish it always.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon had two sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955), in 3D and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), filmed in 2D. Abbott and Costello even had a comedic episode on the Colgate Comedy Hour called Abbott and Costello Meet the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Then… there was failed attempts at a reboot. I’m generally not a fan of remakes. I love when movie creatures inspire other movies such as The Shape of Water, but when a movie doesn’t need to be remade… just leave well enough alone.

Watching all of these amazing b-movies and creature features, really has me wanting to finally make one of my own!

Stay The Fuck Home Creature Features Edition

I find some of the best cinematic entertainment, for me anyway, is b-movies. Especially, 1950s creature features and scifi. Honestly, how can you not. Not to mention how inspiring it is to hear stories about what the creators did to ensure their movies got made! Below are some really popular b-movies as a well as some of my all time favourites!

I have most of these in box sets, but you can find many on YouTube!

What are some of your favourite creature features?

Enjoy!

(links below are a combo of full movies and trailers)

Creature From The Black Lagoon

Little Shop of Horrors

Godzilla

Famous Monsters The Wolf Man

Famous Monsters The Mummy

Other B Movie Creature Features I Love Below are some of my favourite b-movie creature features that I’ve watch many times over!

The Giant Gila Monster

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster

Lady Frankenstein

Attack of the Giant Leeches

The Amazing Colossal Man

Them!

The Giant Spider Invasion

Stay The Fuck Home And Use Up All Of Those Frozen Banana’s Edition

Raise your hand if half of your freezer is frozen banana’s. Let’s get those hands up. Yes, you in the back, get that hand up!

Chocolate Covered Katie has an amazing blog post that has many recipes for banana, go give it a read. The recipes are delectable. If you are just looking for one or two recipes, below are a few of my favourites.

Smoothies are possibly the number one thing I use my frozen bananas for. I make them several times a week. Sooooooo goood for you! If you want something basic, a banana oatmeal smoothie is a good option.

Banana Bread is my second go to for frozen bananas. The below video is not only a great recipe, but the host of Rainbow Plant Life is a lot of fun!

Banana Chocolate Chip Squares are as close to a healthy dessert as you are going to get! Please don’t eat the whole pan at once!
https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/vegan-chocolate-chip-banana-squares/

Banana Pancakes are soooooo yum with real maple syrup! Also, the trick to fluffy pancakes is don’t overmix the batter! You are welcome! https://avirtualvegan.com/vegan-banana-pancakes/

Banana Muffins are one of my favourite things to have for breakfast. https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-banana-crumb-muffins/

Breakfast Cookies are a great thing to have if you need to take something with you on your walk. This recipe has raisins, which I HATE, so I swap them out for dried cranberries or dried blueberries. https://beamingbaker.com/easy-vegan-peanut-butter-banana-breakfast-cookies-gluten-free-v-df-one-bowl/

Banana Cream Pie is such a decadent treat. We all need a decadent treat right now!
https://minimalistbaker.com/banana-cream-pie-vegan-gf/

Banana Popsicle’s are such a nice summer treat. Plus, you can buy Popsicle moulds at the dollar store!

Banana Nicecream is something I am looking forward to making once it warms up. Mind you icecream is a nice treat all year long!

Stay The Fuck Home and Browse Vintage Catalogues Edition

As a child, I was quite shy and would spend a lot of time with myself. I preferred my own company. Aside from that, I also spend a lot of time with my Great Grandpa Bill. He was a great story teller, especially ghost stories. More than that he was a very interesting man.

One of the things he enjoyed was collecting vintage catalogues, eventually, he would collect reproduction catalogues. I was intrigued with them. He would let me look at the reproductions while he supervised as some of the vintage catalogues were too frail. Two of the ones I loved the most were from 1901 and 1927 (Eaton’s). I obsessively looked at them. When he passed away, those two catalogues were given to me and I still have them.


Occasionally, I will use these catalogues or other online catalogues as inspiration for characters in stories I’m writing for for garments I am making. Below are a few I often peruse. You might get some enjoyment out of them as well!

Eaton’s Spring and Summer Catalogue 1907 https://archive.org/details/eatons190700eatouoft/page/n5/mode/2up

Archives of Ontario http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/microfilm/eatons.aspx

Library and Archives Canada https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/postal-heritage-philately/canadian-mail-order-catalogues/Pages/canadian-mail-order-catalogues.aspx

Digital Kingston https://www.digitalkingston.ca/presents-from-the-past/store-catalogues

Stay The Fuck Home Guest Post By Philip Cairns

Turning 66 in February, and self-isolating due to Covid-19, has brought back a flood of memories. I see, now, that if I’d behaved differently, or said something different, the outcome of so many past experiences would have been much more positive. It’s painful because I can’t go back and relive them. 

Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are two of my favourite movie stars. I was going to write a chronological timeline, focusing on their impact on my life. But, as the mind works, the memories came jumbling all over in time. 

My first memory of Marilyn Monroe was when I was eight, playing in the sandbox, in front of our cottage, at Lake Scugog. We went there every summer until my father’s business went bankrupt and he could no longer afford to rent the cottage. We (my 4 siblings and I, plus my mother) would spend the whole summer up there. My Dad was working in Toronto and would come up on weekends. 

My grandmother opened the screen door of the cottage. 

“Marilyn Monroe’s dead. It’s on the radio.” 

Nanna showed me a picture of Marilyn in a movie magazine. (Movie magazines were the People magazine of their day, only way more gossipy.)

“She’s so beautiful,” I remember thinking. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair. 

I watched a lot of TV when I was in school. I saw Marilyn in “How to Marry a Millionaire”, “The River of No Return” and “The Seven Year Itch” many, many times. I started reading movie magazines around the time of the sandbox incident. That’s how I discovered Elizabeth Taylor. In 1962, the same year Marilyn died, Elizabeth was in Rome shooting “Cleopatra” and having a scandalous love affair with her co-star, Richard Burton. Both were already married so it was hot gossip. Their pictures were on the cover of every magazine. Inside, were stories about “le scandale” and the making of “Cleopatra”. I couldn’t wait to see the movie when it came out in 1963 but it was classified “Adult Entertainment”. I was only 9 so I was too young to see it. 

Then Liz and Dick, as they were called, made another movie called “The V.I.P.s”

I asked my mother, “What’s a vip?”

“It’s pronounced v, i, p. It means, Very Important Person,” and then she explained what that meant. 

That film was also classified as “Adult Entertainment”, so I couldn’t see that one, either. 

I suppose I was precocious. At the age of 8, I was reading the Entertainment section of the Toronto Telegram; mostly the movie reviews. I was nuts about movies. I wanted to be a movie star when I grew up. When I was 10, I read a review of the foreign film, “Night Games”, directed by actress Mai Zetterling. The review mentioned a scene with a boy, in bed, masturbating under the covers, while his mother was reading to him. 

“Daddy, what does “masturbating” mean?”

“Don’t you know?,” he responded, looking very embarrassed. 

“No.”

He hesitated, then replied, “Well, you’ll find out, one day.” 

End of discussion. 

I watched lots of classic films, on our black and white TV, growing up. “Picnic”, “The Bad Seed”, “Suddenly, Last Summer” (starring Liz) and “Something Wild” (starring Carroll Baker) come to mind. I would watch them, again, and again. 

I was an outcast because I was very girlish, loved Barbie dolls and played skipping with the girls. I also loved “dress up”, i.e. drag. (I did have a few girlfriends to play dolls with, however.) My mom would let me wear her jewellery and dresses. The other kids were mean. They would follow me home from school, in groups, chanting, “Philip is a girl. Philip plays with dolls.” I’d come home for lunch, crying. My mother was a stay at home Mom, raising 5 kids, plus my niece, Julia. (My oldest sister got pregnant at 15 and ended up a single mom.) Mom was no real help in dealing with the taunting. She’d say, “When people are mean, you have to be extra nice to them. Then, they’ll feel guilty.”  Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t help matters, at all. 

Then, in Grade 5, Ian came into my life. He emigrated from England, with his family. We became almost inseparable. And he loved movies, too. We got a weekly paper route, The Scarborough Mirror, in Grade 5, which financed our movie going. Every Saturday, from the age of 11, we would go downtown, from Scarborough, on the TTC, and go to movies. We’d see a movie in the afternoon, have a meal, then see another movie in the evening. One Saturday, we saw 4 movies, starting in the morning. The Downtown Cinema, in a basement on Yonge Street, north of Dundas, played double features of Elvis Presley films and things like, “Get Yourself a College Girl”, starring Chad Everett, starting at 9:30 a.m. 

My oldest brother, John, had been going there for years. He’d come home and talk about the Beach Party movies with Frankie and Annette. I was too young to go and jealous as hell. He’d also go to all the amazing clubs on Yonge Street, in the 1960s, and see the soul singers. Toronto, at that time, had wonderful live entertainment. The black transgender soul singer, Jackie Shane, was very popular. I was too young to get into the clubs. John would rave about Jackie and tell stories about her. (Jackie was living as a man, back then.) I was so upset that I couldn’t see her live. 

Judy Garland played at the O’Keefe Centre, in 1965, and I couldn’t see her, either. (I couldn’t afford the tickets.)

When I was 11, I managed to get a modeling agent and a talent agent for acting jobs. My first go-see was for a colour spread in the Toronto Telegram. I was interviewed by two men in a room at the Judy Welch Modeling Agency. It was quite obvious they didn’t like me. In the waiting room, one of the mothers told me about Producers’ Services, a talent agency run by Molly Petty, Dini Petty’s mother. I went to an interview with Molly and she sent me on an audition for a TV commercial. Get this: It was in a hotel room at the King Edward Hotel. I went downtown, by myself, to the audition, at 11 years old!! Of course, I was nervous. The hotel room was a suite with a living room and a bedroom. I saw a well-dressed middle aged woman come out of the front door of the hotel room. I recognized her from TV. She smiled at me with very sympathetic eyes. In 2020, can you imagine letting your 11 year old son go to a hotel room, alone, to an audition?! And my parents thought nothing of it. It never occurred to me that I could possibly be in danger. It WAS a legitimate audition. I didn’t get the gig. Neither agent sent me out, again. My parents wouldn’t pay for proper headshots. All I had were snapshots taken by my brother’s best friend, who shot pictures for the Scarborough Mirror.

In Grade 9, Ian and his family moved back to England, just before Christmas. I was devastated. However, we were pen pals for years. I even visited him in England, the summer before Grade 13. That’s where I saw the gay-themed British film, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” and Ken Russell’s wild and brilliant, “The Devils”, by myself, in London, both in one day. Six months later, I came out to Ian. He wrote back wishing me well, “in my new life”, and I never heard from him, again. 

The fall before Ian left, my father paid for me to take acting lessons with Jack Medhurst, a gay, middle aged, Toronto actor. He had a studio and a 50 seat theatre on the second floor of a building at Church and Carlton. (The building is still there.) I was 13 and 14 in an adult class. I was elated and terrified. We did improvisation and Jack taught theatrical make-up, as well. I was also in 3 children’s plays that he directed. I adored acting. I worked with so many excellent actors and would stay behind to watch them rehearse adult plays, such as, “Barefoot in the Park”. 

During the run of the first play, I got a splitting headache from nerves. After I exited, I threw up in the wings. Three other actors, also playing pirates, exited right after me, stepping over my vomit. 

I studied with Jack for one year. My dreams of stardom came crashing down when my mother said they couldn’t afford to send me for a second year. (“We can’t afford it,” was a mantra, all through my youth.) 

When I was 11, I had two girlfriends. Louann was a foot taller than me. We dated for a year or so. We would slow dance at parties with me standing on a chair. She was a fully developed woman and very sexually precocious. We were the same age but I had yet to go through puberty. She was always showing me her naked body. One day, Louann and I were fooling around in her basement. I was trying to remove her bikini top. She was giggling and flipped over onto my wrist and broke it. (At 9, I broke the other wrist when a bully tripped me on a skating ring.)

With Ian gone, and acting school over, I became a loner. I went to movies on my own. I sent away for a series of books called “The Films of…” One of them was ‘The Films of Marilyn Monroe’. I still have it. The first bio I read about Marilyn was, “Norma Jean”, by Fred Lawrence Guiles. I bought other books about her, as well. I’ve only seen her films on TV, VHS and DVD. The only time I ever saw her on the big screen was a few years ago at a very crowded Dundas Square. They were playing “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. I had seen it many times, already, so I only stayed for 10 minutes. The first time I saw “The Misfits” was on my sister’s black and white set in our basement. The tube was old so the actors looked like little people. I had wanted to see it for years and was totally enthralled. Half an hour before it was over, my sister came home, with her date, and made me turn it off. I was so upset. 

In high school, I didn’t have a part time job so I couldn’t afford to see many movies, except on TV. I was gaga for Classic Films. I spent my whole adolescence sleep deprived because I was always watching the Late Show. That created lots of fights with my mom. She believed that everyone should go to bed at 11 pm. I, however, loved the quiet of the night. 

I would go through the TV Guide, circling all the movies I wanted to see. Sometimes, I would watch 2 movies, on TV, in one day. And I had favourite actresses, like Anne Baxter and Lois Nettleton, who did a lot of TV movies and guest shots on series. I was in heaven. And, of course, there was always Marilyn. In Grade 12, one of her movies was on afternoon TV. I desperately wanted to see it. I asked mom if she would write me a note saying I had a dentist appointment. . 

“Okay,” she said. “You’ve been working very hard at school. You deserve it.” 

Liz wasn’t on TV as often as Marilyn was. A year after its release, “Cleopatra” was reclassified so I finally got to see it. It was a visually gorgeous film but rather boring for someone so young. 

I saw a lot of racy Italian films on TV, as a teenager. They were always cut to ribbons and badly dubbed into English. 

Ian wasn’t the first best friend to move away. John Weaver was my best friend in Grades 1 and 2. Then he moved away, too. I learned, at a young age, that friendship can be an ephemeral thing. I had been observing John in school and decided I wanted to be his friend so I followed him home to see where he lived. I boldly knocked on the door. His mother answered. 

“John invited me over to play,” I lied. 

John swore he hadn’t invited me. His mother scolded him and asked me in. We played and I stayed for dinner and we became best friends. 

Fast forward to 2005. I played a drag queen in a play, in a small theatre, at Take a Walk on the Wildside, a B & B/boutique for drag queens. I became friendly with Chrissy, one of the drag queens. We’d chat in the dressing room as I prepared for the play and he got ready to go out on the town. A few years later, Chrissie was hospitalized with cancer. The owner of the boutique asked me if I would help pack up his stuff, on Boxing Day, because he’d sold his house. I thought to myself, “Why am I doing this on Boxing Day?” I had nothing else planned and I figured it’s always a good thing to help people. In his bedroom, I picked up an inactivated credit card sitting on a dresser. The name on it was John Weaver. Right then, the phone rang. It was Chrissie calling from the hospital to see how things were progressing. I told him I had found the card and asked him if he went to St. Andrews Public School. It was the same John Weaver! He died soon after but I did get to visit him one more time in the hospital. So I knew him as a very young child and was reunited with him, at the end. 

One incident connected with movie-going sticks out in my mind. I was 16, walking up Yonge Street after seeing an afternoon movie. There was a 30 something woman walking with her young son. Following them was a middle aged street person, saying lewd and sexually explicit things to the little boy. It was truly shocking. The mother was saying, “Oh, you’re a horrible person”, trying to get away from him. The little boy had a silly smirk on his face. I can’t imagine he understood what was being said to him. To this day, I can’t forget it. 

 “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, starring Liz and Dick, was released to great fanfare in 1966. I was only 12 so that was another film I wasn’t allowed to see. It was very controversial for its time, using very frank language for the sixties. My parents went to see it and came home raving. I eventually saw it, a few years later, severely censored, on TV. It was brilliant despite the hack job.

I wanted to be an actor from the age of 4, watching The Mickey Mouse Club on TV, wishing I were one of the children on the show. Annette Funicello, one of the Mouseketeers, was one of my favourite actresses, along with Hayley Mills.  I would sit in front of the TV, in semi drag, watching the show. I used socks for breasts and rolled up long underwear as a wig. 

When I was 13, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Butterfield 8”, both starring Liz, were rereleased on a double bill. Ian’s mother forbade him to go, saying he was too young for such movies, so I saw it with a sibling. Even at that age, I could understand that “Cat” had a gay subtext, even though it had been totally neutralized compared to the play. A child’s admission price was 35 cents. 

Now, as an adult, I have so many of Marilyn and Elizabeth’s films on DVD or VHS, as well as numerous books about them. When Liz died, Christie’s published two fabulous catalogues of her jewels. I had thrown out my bed because of a bed bug outbreak in my apartment building. With $99 in the bank, enough for a new futon or the catalogues, I chose Liz over my own comfort. I’ve spent many happy hours drooling over pictures of her magnificent jewellery. I never got around to buying a new bed. 

Nowadays, I really don’t enjoy going to the movies. There are too many distractions from rude, inconsiderate people. I go, perhaps, once a year. I’d much rather watch a film from the comfort of my home. But I still love movies and I still love Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

For more about Philip, please check out his website! philipcairns.com

Stay The Fuck Home Guest Post by Chantal!

Hi there!  My name is Chantal and I run a nifty little business called Toronto Cemetery Tours.  I help people relive history while walking through the city’s beautifully landscaped graveyards.  Most of my tours are themed and I like to focus on people and facts that are not always easy to find out in just a simple Google search.  Think Victorian diseases, Escapes Slaves, Murder, and the Women who built our fine country.  There is so much history buried beneath our feet and I have a passion for digging it up and sharing it with you.  Including this little-known tidbit…. 

In these strange times, let’s wish a strange happy birthday to Herman Webster Mudgett, born this day, May 16th  in 1861. You may better know him as the serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Holmes is recognized as one of the United States’ first serial killers. He built a hotel in Chicago now better known as “The Murder Hotel”. During the 1893 World’s Fair he would lure people there, then kill them after they became lost in the hotel’s confusing and labyrinthine rooms and hallways. He is said to have killed anywhere from 50 to 200 people, mostly young women. 

His connection to Toronto stems from an insurance scam Holmes tried to capitalize on. He killed Ben Pitezel, a long-time conspirator, and stole away with his wife and children. Through a bizarre series of events, the con-man ended up in Toronto with two of the Pitezel girls, Alice and Nellie. Here, Holmes killed them and buried their bodies in the cellar of the house he was renting at No 16 Vincent Street. The building has long since been demolished and the street itself was incorporated into Bay Street. 

Not long after, the killer returned to Chicago and his unthinkable crime was discovered. Upon his capture, he has this to say of his life, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.” For his multiple crimes, H.H. Holmes was executed by hanging in Philadelphia on May 7, 1896. 

The bodies of his two Toronto victims were buried in an unmarked grave in St. James Cemetery, one coffin above the other, in a space not far from the front gates. 

If you’re interested in reading more about serial killer H.H. Holmes pick up the book “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson. 

To learn more about Toronto Cemetery Tours or to book your own private tour when we no longer have to stay the fuck home, email info@torontocemeterytours.com or check out my social media:  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TorontoCemeteryTours/ 

Instagram:  @TorontoCemeteryTours 

Twitter: TOCemeteryTours  

See you in the cemetery! 

Stay The Fuck Home Honky Tonk Music Edition

This one is for you Kirsten!

Toronto’s multi-diversity also applies to it’s music scene. You can find every genre of music available and once we are out of pandemic jail, please get out and support local, indie musicians. My favourite genre/scene in Toronto is the Rockabilly and Surf Scene. It just makes my heart happy. A little side note, one of my goals this year was to start learning Jive and Swing dancing, then… well we are all aware of what happened.

There is a new style of music I am also a fan of, though I’m sure this is a shock to my father. If you are a Rockabilly fan and get out to see bands playing at places such as The Dakota, Cadillac Lounge (sadly closed now), The Tennessee, The Cameron House, The Local (to name a few) you will have definitely heard some Honky Tonk!

Due to COVID-19, we unfortunately can’t get out to see live music right now, but in the meantime we can stream it! Below I have put together a list of Toronto (and area) artists who are known for their amazing Honky Tonk stylings! Please support them by buying their music and merch!

Matt Allen plays Blues/Rockabilly and Honky Tonk! You can stream his music on ReverbNation!

The Honky Tonk Zeros can be seen playing often in Toronto. They have a new album coming out soon! http://www.thehonkytonkzeros.com/

Red & The Ramblers has a new video out at the moment and it really hits on what is happening in Toronto right now. https://www.redandtheramblers.com

The Hamstrung Band can be seen quite often at The Local in Roncesvalles.

Sean Burns is not local to Toronto, rather in Winnipeg, but you should still check him out! http://www.seanburns.ca/

Colonel Tom and the American Pour can also be seen in Toronto and can be found over on Bandcamp! Right now 100% of sales goes to the bands. Bandcamp has kindly waived fees. He may even pop-up on Facebook doing a live performance from time to time!

The Rizdales are from London, Ontario and are another fun Honky Tonk band that play in Toronto often! https://www.rizdales.com/info

There are so many more incredible musicians playing in our city. This is just a taste of some Honky Tonk style music. If you have others you want to mention, please post them in the comments below.