Garbage striken

June 22, 2009

Toronto is heading into a summer garbage strike. I’m not too concerned as I don’t actually create a lot of garbage. Unlike the families of four on my street who seem to accumulate the equivalent of six months of my own refuse every two weeks. Most of my garbage is recycling and much of that is bottles which will still be collected — though not by city employees but by bottle-collecting entrepreneurs.

I can’t help hoping that if the strike drags on, perhaps it will encourage people to consume less overly packaged food. Perhaps they will buy more fresh produce and bulk foods. That would be a positive side-effect. I suspect it’s more likely the semi-vacant train yards near my place will become makeshift dumping sites.

Game seven

June 16, 2009

On Friday I was wholesale tricked into going to a sports bar for game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mandi’s friend Tara likes to go to this place called Bryden’s for their pulled pork nachos. I’ve been reticent to join them because, well, it’s a sports pub but also the site of the only murder in Bloor West Village in the last five or ten years. I’d been reassured on many occasions it’s not really that sports-oriented and that the pulled pork nachos are worth it even if it is.

Both statements are perhaps true.  But perhaps on nights when it’s not game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The place, though decorated more like a café than a violent sports pub, was packed with sports fans swilling beer and watching game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Loudly. I haven’t been in a bar that loud without a band playing… ever.  Strangely they were rooting for Philadelphia and not Detroit even though Detroit is sort of a sister city to Toronto. I don’t understand sports or sports fans but I assume there’s a reason for this. A reason I had no real interest in learning. It was perhaps one of the most unpleasant evenings of my life. Except for the pulled pork nachos which were delicious until we ordered another round and I began to feel like I’d been filled by a fire extinguisher loaded with cheese and beer. Which, I suppose, was sort of half true.

Eventually we were able to leave and let actual hockey fans have our tiny table. I assume somebody won the game as it was midway through the third period when we left with ringing ears and gurgling bellies.

Book shows, no shows, crystal win + psychic loss

June 15, 2009
Clickity-click for biggity-big

Clickity-click for biggity-big

» It was the Toronto Small Press Spring Book Fair this weekend and Mandi and I manned the Ampersand Publishing table. It was a moderately good time. No, it wasn’t a bad time and the people watching was good, but not a lot of traffic. From the standpoint of “doing a show” it was fairly dire. From the standpoint of something to do with out Saturday, it was pretty nice.

I vaguely wondered what my registration fees went to when they announced the venue (Toronto Reference Library) had been donated free and the show was put on with the help of volunteers. You would think probably advertising except apparently the Library took care of that as well (I also saw no evidence of advertising leading up to the event). I guess there’s a lot of “admin fees” to cover. And fair enough. I’d never want to put on a book fair unless it was lining my pockets, or at least not putting me in debt. Also I had to appreciate lack of crowds made the day enjoyable unlike last years’ Canzine where I was in a state of near panic-induced seizure the entire time.

Clicking makes it bigger

Clicking makes it bigger

Saw a few people I recognized from previous shows and had a pretty good time with our table-mates from the Ottawa Arts Review. We made about enough money to cover the parking. Who says print is dead?

» I found out this morning that Michael Gira played a two-night engagement at the Drake hotel this weekend. I really have to start reading the entertainment papers again. He’s one of the only shows I keep hoping to catch in town since I moved here and that would have been a great venue to see him at. Disappointed I missed that far more than Pet shop Boys in Montreal. Which I simply decided was too much travelling and cash. Mostly too much travelling. Entirely too much travelling in August. Looks like I am going to Sonic Youth this month though for much less travelling and cash.

Most convoluted award title ever.

» I forgot to mention I won a Crystal Award at work last week, or maybe the week before. It’s an inter-ministry peer-recognition award so I’m not sure how much it counts. But it’s something to keep in my cubicle and it makes me look like an official civil servant.

» Mandi, Shara and I have been remotely engaged in a telekinesis competition held at the Ministry of Casual Living in Victoria, BC. Our team is called Thinking About Moving. We sadly lost in the final round last night to the Center for Paraspeculative Study. In a strange coincidence, two tables down from us at the book fair they were selling books on the previous year’s competition. Spooky.

Toronto Small Press Spring Book Fair

June 10, 2009

I have been neglect in mentioning Mandi and I will be appearing live and in person at the Toronto Small Press Spring Book Fair. And by “appearing” I mean sitting at the Ampersand Publishing table hopefully selling some copies of That Makes Sense and The Light May Glitter. By “live and in person” I mean acting awkward, bored and probably hungry or needing to pee. We also plan to hand-out some Nerd Hurdles swag in an attempt to entice a few more nerds into the fold. If you’re in and around the Toronto Reference Library near Yonge/Bloor this Saturday, stop by and say hullo!

Dundas Dining: High Park Spicy House

June 2, 2009

Indian cuisine is one of my favourite dining experiences. This is partly due to the “bitchin’ curry high” I get when I eat a particularly hot vindaloo or curry. “Baked” is the only way I can describe the sensation and, since this seems to confuse people, I chalk it up to having strange physiological responses to substances. Mandi sweats under the eyes when she eats acidic and hot food, so I’m not alone in my weird substance reactions.

So it was with great hopes and expectations I looked forward to visiting the award winning High Park Spicy House.  To begin with, it has the words “high” and “spicy” in the name. What more could I need?

When we arrived, we were the only patrons in the dimly lit, predictably decorated, clean restaurant. The server was bored out of her wits though and had the habit of making too much conversation with us. Or rather, lapse into a dreamy monologue as she gazed out the window, drawling on about how the boutique across the street is by appointment only and how it looks like the chamber of commerce has planted flowers earlier this year. If she didn’t play the part of the listless, dream-filled truck-stop waitress from a movie so well, it might have been annoying and not entertaining. She eventually left us and started arranging the coat hangers on the rack with OCD precision.

The food was good. Our lamb vindaloo (occassionally spelled “windaloo” on the menu) was not very hot, but flavourful and savoury enough that this didn’t matter. I was willing to fore go the bitchin’ curry high for the evening since I was being compensated with a quality stew. Which came in a deep, narrow copper pot. This is something I wish a few more Indian restaurants could adopt. If you’re at a table where people have ordered two or three different curries, the shallow dishes don’t fit onto the table. We figured we could have fit four of these pots on our tiny table and still had roon for the naan bread.  Incidentally, the naan was the most substantial naan I’d ever eaten.

After our meal we were offered complimentary mango ice-cream (which would have been a godsend if the vindaloo had actually been hot) and I was thinking the service was pretty damn good. Then we spent 20 awkward, neurotic minutes wondering if we were going to get our bill and if we were supposed to go to the till at the back to pay or if we should keep waiting. Eventually we couldn’t take the uncertainty any longer and went to the back and paid. It seemed this was the thing to do, though our bill was waiting for us in one of thoseleather foldy things as if she was meaning to bring it to us and she said in her far-away drawl, “You.. would like… your bill … now? This is… it… here.”

Mandi said as we stepped onto the street, “I’ve never felt so relieved to give someone money.”


4 cute copper pots out of 5.

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