Word on the Street Toronto 2013 review

Last weekend I volunteered at the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto. I’ve heard about the festival before, but I was never able to attend, so I was glad to have the chance to go this year. Word on the Street is an annual free community celebration of the written word, with exhibitors including authors, publishers, libraries, and literacy groups. It was held at Queen’s Park Crescent on Sunday.

Saturday was the set-up day, and of course the day that it rained. Heavily. One of the organizers even ran out at lunch to the dollar store to buy us all ponchos, but it was raining so much that they didn’t really help. Oh well, after this summer we should all be used to the rain. And kudos to Boston Pizza for donating lunch to the volunteers!

We spent the day setting up the tables and chairs for the exhibitor booths and the various stages, organizing the supplies for the information booths and stages, and trying to make sure that things were ready for the morning. You know, you go to events like this and you never think about the amount of work it takes, not just arranging for permits and exhibitors and media relations, but tent and table and chair rentals and setting up signs and making sure everything is ready for the event to actually start.

Sunday began dark and cold and way too early, but clear. I was there before 7 am to finish setting up the tables and chairs that we hadn’t gotten to the night before and as an exhibitor liaison when they started rolling in around 9. My partner and I introduced ourselves to the exhibitors in our zone, made sure that they had all of the tables and chairs that they had requested, made sure that the signs for each booth that the festival had provided were correct, and in general handled any problems and passed on complaints. There really weren’t many- the most common request was for coffee. And why doesn’t Tim Horton’s have a delivery service? Really, you’d think it would be a goldmine. And there were comments about how cold it was, but unfortunately the warm weather has been on backorder all summer. I was on shift until 1:30, and then I went off to explore my first WotS festival.

The crowds rushed in as soon as the festival officially opened, and it stayed busy all day long. I didn’t really have a chance to see any of the authors’ presentations, since I only had a few hours and the festival was pretty big- I wanted to see everything, and of course book lovers like to browse.

The Toronto Public Library Workers’s booth was fun- they had a red carpet and took pictures of people with fake librarian glasses. Here I am with my friend Hailey.

WotS TPLW

There was also a booth doing pictures promoting the next Hobbit movie, Fangirls will watch anything with Benedict Cumberbatch… I mean The Desolation of Smaug. (See my comments about the first movie.) These ones didn’t turn out as well-too much light in the booth. And I found the Polkaroo at the TVOKids booth!

Polkaroo headI also grabbed a few good finds. The Doctor Who graphic novels Through Time and Space and The Only Good Dalek by Justin Richards and Mike Collins; The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday, who I met at the OLA Festival of Trees, though I didn’t manage to get him to sign it even though he was at WotS; and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: Short Stories 01 by Naoko Takeuchi (only copy left! Score!). I even found a couple of Christmas presents for the little niece (though I may have to keep her from trying to eat them for a while since they’re not board books): Girls A to Z, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Suzanne Bloom, which shows different girls with a different hobby for each letter of the alphabet; and Nightgown Countdown written by Frank B. Edwards and illustrated by John Bianchi, who also signed it, where farm animals go to bed one by one.

It was a long and cold day (sorry to keep mentioning it, but I was up to 5 shirts and it was still freezing!), but I had a really good time. Next year’s festival is definitely going on the calendar!

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Today I Read…Sailor Moon 11 & 12

Sailor Moon 11Today I read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 11 & 12 by Naoko Takeuchi.

Volume 11 begins the Stars arc, where at first it seems like evil has been defeated and the Sailor Guardians can at last begin to enjoy their lives on Earth, such as going to see the concert for the hot new idols, the Three Lights. Except when Usagi goes to see Mamoru off to school in America, the wicked Shadow Galaxia steals him away and blocks Usagi’s memories. Fortunately, it seems that the Three Lights are actually the Sailor Starlights, who serve Princess Kakyu of the Tamkei Kingdom on Planet Kinmoku. And while Chibiusa has returned to her home in the future, the mysterious Chibichibi has come to take her place in the Tsukino home and as a Sailor Guardian. Now the Sailor Guardians of the Solar System must join forces with Sailor Chibichibi, Princess Kakyu and the Sailor Starlights to defeat Shadow Galaxia and save the entire Milky Way galaxy from darkness and destruction.

Sailor Moon 12Volume 12 completes the story of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, with the final battle for the universe taking place between Sailor Moon and Sailor Galaxia, as the representatives of Order and Chaos, in the Sagittarius Zero-Star, the birthplace of heavenly bodies and of the star seeds that create the Sailor Guardians. With all of her friends lost, Sailor Moon must sacrifice everything except hope to save her loved ones and the entire Milky Way.

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In these last two volumes we venture beyond the Solar System and learn that there are Sailor Guardians everywhere, and that the Sailor Guardians we know are only a small drop in a very large sisterhood, although even among many Sailor Moon stands out as a Guardian of great power. Eternal Sailor Moon will one day become Sailor Cosmos, who balances the entire universe. The Sailor Guardians return even from death, since their love and friendship is stronger than anything. The final book ends with the wedding of Usagi and Mamoru, and the knowledge that their daughter will be born soon, and they can finally begin to recreate the Moon Kingdom of the Silver Millennium.

It’s been nice finally being able to read the whole story through in the original version for myself. I’d only seen the English dubbed anime before, and the storyline is similar but there are differing details (for example, making Sailors Uranus and Neptune ‘cousins’, the usual American excuse when they don’t want to include a gay relationship (also see Achilles and Patroclus in Troy and Alexander and Hephaestion in Alexander)). Also, the Starsarc was never included in the English anime, so I’d never seen it before. I’ve had friends who liked anime, so I’ve seen images of some of the characters such as Chibiusa as the Dark Lady, but I didn’t know what happened. And the very worst thing you can do to a reader is not tell them the whole story.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a wonderful story filled with that dreaded phrase, strong female characters. All of them have their own strengths and their own flaws, and their own dreams. What binds them together is their love and loyalty to one another and to Usagi, their Princess Serenity, a love that even defies death. Mamoru as Usagi’s love interest never tries to stop her from fighting, only promises to fight with her at her side. In fact, he needs rescuing much more often that Usagi does, without merely becoming a dude in distress.

I’m sure that there are some details in the story that I missed, even with the help of the translation notes, due to my unfamiliarity with Japanese culture. I got used to turning the pages backwards, but I still sometimes have trouble reading the speech bubbles in order. However, the art is lovely, even though it is mostly printed in black and white, though there are a few of the coloured prints that I wouldn’t mind having blown up and framed. All in all, a great story with great art and characters. Now when are the volumes of Sailor Moon short stories due out again?…

Today I Read…Sailor Moon 10

Today I read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 10 by Naoko Takeuchi.Sailor Moon 10

Sailors Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto return to fight the Dead Moon Circus and wicked Queen Nehelenia and rescue their fellow Sailor Guardians, while Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask are deathly ill. Helios breaks free of his cage to help save them and brings them back to Elysion of the Golden Kingdom, the ancestral home of Mamoru. The Sailor Guardians remember how they swore their loyalty to the newborn Neo Princess Serenity as her guardian deities,  and met the uninvited guest Nehelenia of the darkness. They remember how to unite their Sailor Power Guardians with their selves as the Solar System Sailor Princesses and give that power to Sailor Moon to funnel through the Holy Grail and become Eternal Sailor Moon. They defeat Nehelenia, Sailor Chibi-Moon saves Helios, and the Amazon Quartet is revealed to be Sailor Guardians of the solar system planetoids, cursed by Nehelenia to serve her instead of Sailor Chibi-Moon.

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This volume is nonstop action from start to finish. The only character development is when all of the Sailor Guardians begin to remember their past lives in the Silver Millennium Kingdom, when they swore to protect the baby Princess Serenity. The revelation that the Amazon Quartet are actually sleeping, cursed Sailor Guardians of the Planetoids brings up the idea that there are many more Sailor Guardians than just the ones that we are the most familiar with–an idea that will be explored further in the next volume (coming when I get caught up on my reviews). You can also tell that this was originally written in the 1990s, since Pluto is still a full Planetary Sailor Guardian and not a Planetoid Sailor Guardian, even though she is often solitary as the guardian of the doorway through time.

We see a tiny bit more of Mamoru’s kingdom and past life, and learn that he and Serenity were never meant to be together, but their love was too strong to keep them apart. We get hints of Chibi-Usa’s future as the queen of the moon after Serenity–she will have her own Sailor Guardians in the former Amazon quartet, and will she have her own beloved prince in the form of Helios, priest of Elysion? She was able to wake him from his cursed slumber, and she was the one that he kept seeking out.

This volume has many action sequences needed to save everyone from the various dangers, but it also reinforces the idea that true love is stronger than any evil, and all you have to do is be brave, strong and faithful to triumph over anything.

Today I Read…Sailor Moon 9

Sailor Moon 9Today I read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 9 by Naoko Takeuchi.

In this volume, Usagi and Chibi-Usa switch sizes, the Dead Moon Circus tries to steal the Sailor Guardians’ dreams, Chibi-Usa fears that she will never be a great guardian like her mother, and Mamoru tries to hide his illness from Usagi. Helios the pegasus is revealed to be the priest of Elysion, the heart of the Earth, cursed and imprisoned by the  Dead Moon Kingdom. Hotaru reawakens as Sailor Saturn, and leads Sailor Neptune, Sailor Uranus, and Sailor Pluto back to the service of their princess.

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I’m still enjoying the reissue of the Sailor Moon manga. I’m almost used to reading the book backwards, though I still have some difficulty figuring out which panel to read in which order. Reading from top right corner to bottom left is hard when you grew up reading the opposite way.

It’s interesting seeing what the Sailor Guardians dream of, and the insecurities about those dreams that they have to overcome. The insecurities are perfectly normal and reasonable, even though they are forced  on the Guardians by the Dead Moon Circus, and it takes them real strength of will and not magical powers to overcome them (though the magical powers never hurt). In the same way, Chibi-Usa is the only daughter of a beautiful, beloved, powerful ruler, and she is afraid that she will never live up to her mother’s deeds. Helios reminds her that she is loved for herself, and that she is still very young and has time to grow and become a powerful guardian in her own right. Sometimes you need a friend to pull you out of your own head.

Today I Read…Comics!

I’m in a bit of a hurry to pack, so I’m just going to list the graphic novels I read recently so I can put them in boxes.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon vol. 8 by Naoko Takeuchi

  • The Sailor Scouts continue their battle against the dark planet and Master Pharaoh 90, and discover the Holy Grail and Super Sailor Chibi Moon. Chibi-Usa tries to go home, and the Dead Moon Circus is introduced.

The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror: Fun-Filled  Frightfest created by Matt Groening.

  • Tales of terror featuring the denizens of Springfield.

Green Lantern: Brother’s Keeper written by Judd Winick

  • The Green Lantern Kyle Rayner fights against the villain Brainwave, who is driving the citizens of New York crazy, takes his girlfriend to his high school reunion, and watches helplessly over his friend Terry in the hospital after Terry is the victim of a severe gaybashing attack.

The Spectacular Spider-Man: Sins Remembered written by Sara Barnes

  • Peter Parker travels to Paris to help Sarah and Gabriel, the superhuman children of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn the Green Goblin, and upsets his wife MJ

Emma Frost: Bloom written by Karl Bollers

  • Emma uses her telepathic powers to cheat her way through university, until she meets Astrid Bloom, a fellow telepath who uses her own abilities to control everyone in Emma’s life

Formerly Known as the Justice League written by Keith Giffen and JM Dematteis

  • Maxwell Lord recruits heroes for his new Superbuddies group, meant to be more accessible to the people, with full merchandizing rights of course. Too bad Roulette captures them all with the plan of making them fight to the death in The House, a casino and area for criminals. And then Manga Khan, Supreme Commander of the Cluster and President Emeritus of the Manga Khan School of Melodrama, comes looking for his robot L-Ron

Today I Read…Sailor Moon 7

Today I read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 7 by Naoko Takeuchi.

In this volume, the Sailor Guardians finally meet Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Pluto. Sailor Moon uses the power of the Holy Grail to combine the hearts of all of the Sailor Guardians and Tuxedo Mask and uses that power to become Super Sailor Moon. The Sailor Guardians find out that Chibi-Usa’s friend Hotaru has been taken over by evil to become Mistress 9, and that she is the legendary Sailor Saturn, who must never be awakened lest she herald the end of the world.

I’m really enjoying the reissue of the Sailor Moon manga. I watched the English cartoon in the 90s, but I never read the original manga until now. Since I don’t read much manga, I appreciate the translation notes that they put in the back of the book, although I wish there were a few more of them. The manga is pretty different that the English version of the cartoon. Then again, I have a couple of DVDs of Sailor Moon S and it’s pretty funny if you put on the English voices with the English subtitles–they used different translations, so you end up watching two different stories at once with the same art.

Sometimes it’s just really nice to know that no matter how bad the evil gets, and no matter how scared you get, love and friendship will always triumph. (Even though the feminist comic fan in me wonders how the hell they would actually fight in those outfits in Real Life.)