Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Joe!

To celebrate Joe's birthday, I decided to take him to a swanky restaurant called Ultra Supper Club. It occupies the space that used to be Bamboo, on Queen West and Peter. Right up until we arrived, I was lying through my teeth about where we were going:
Me: "We're going to the Train Vietnamese Restaurant! (read: very cheap)"
Joe (pained expression): "Oh, really?" (he's all dressed up)
Me: "Just kidding! How do you feel about Korean BBQ?"
Joe: (pained expression): "Why did I need to dress up for that?"
Me: "Just kidding!"
Joe: (pained expression becoming permanent): "Are we going to The Rivoli?"
Me: (silent pause) "Is that okay?"
Joe: (see above)
When I finally steered him through the hand carved Indian doors, we were both impressed. We were seated at one of the elevated booths overlooking the dining room. The decor was very luxurious and the dim, candle lighting made everyone sexy. By the time the waiter came, money was no object.
Joe ordered us a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio, which he sampled and declared it to be very complex. I sampled it and declared that it must be good because it didn't make me shudder.
We shared the naughtiest appetizer that I could find: pan seared Quebec foie gras, quail confit, apple buckwheat pancake, with concord grape and ice wine reduction. I have never had foie gras before but enjoyed it so much that I'll be force feeding my cat in the hope of harvesting his liver as a delicacy. (I'm just kidding. Foie gras is a cruel food and you shouldn't support it, even though it is delicious.) (No, really, try not to eat it. See here.)
For the main course, Joe had the grilled rare yellowfin tuna, truffled du puy lentils, with pancetta and cabernet peppercorn glaze. When I had the truffled lentils, I finally understood why French hillbillies were running all over the countryside after their pigs, rutting for truffles. I had the grilled wild boar loin, braised pork belly, shittake mushrooms, with sweet potato-vanilla puree and spicy pineapple tamarind glaze. The pork belly and mushrooms were especially delicious, with layers upon layers of flavour.
And for dessert, Joe had the special, the Ultra Banana Split, which looked more like the miniature of a Cirque du Soleil set. I had the Chocolate Trio: chocolate peanut butter profiterole, ancho chocolate sorbet, and warm chocolate molten cake with godiva cream. Joe enjoyed his dessert so much that he failed to offer me any. Sadly, my dessert was a let down for me, after such a fabulous (and evil) appetizer and dinner.
The waiter was professional yet friendly. He didn't even blink when I got out my camera phone to photograph the experience. ("Put that away!" whispered Joe, slaps phone out of my hand).
After dinner, we walked happily towards the subway, full of rich and expensive food.
Me: "This is nice. We should do this once a month."
Joe: "No, more like once every two months. It was expensive."
Me: "Yes." (downcast look, pout)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just can't get enough

There are people who carry a life-long passion for a particular activity or hobby. People like Robert "Raven" Kraft from Miami, who has run the exact eight-mile run for 30 years. Or my friend, Yvette, who has done martial arts for almost 20 years. Or, my friend Alex, who has used Macs pretty since they came out, in spite the loss of self-respect.

My sole reliable devotion in life has been to treating hobbies like a cheap Las Vegas buffet. I am a lifelong johnny-come-lately, a jack-of-all-trades, or more accurately, a master of mediocrity. I admire people like "Raven", Yvette and Alex (blame the Mac and not the Mac user), but they don't know what they're missing by not spreading themselves thin.

By being able to claim a passing experience with just about anything, interesting anecdotes are always available for any occasion. Like the time I biked for eight hours straight during my biking phase, or the time I tried to provoke Dolph Lundgren to assault a writer during my stint as an editor, or how about when I skinned a rabbit behind a dumpster during my art student years - all good times sure to bring on a good chuckle and camaraderie.

As well, being a "generalist" keeps people's expectations of you surmountably low. You are constantly viewed as an ingenue in any field. Helpful experts are so busy patting your head or tying your shoe that they barely notice the knife in the back or the kick to the groin. The satisfaction you feel can only be compared in cinematic terms with Darth Vader's offing of Obi Wan Kenobi.

My last great hobby was running a half-marathon, which came about in late September. Having achieved a little bit of success, and beaten my former running mentor, Raymond (Flocons), I was feeling a little lost during my free time. Then I remembered Raymond's blog, Who pissed in your cornflakes?. Blogging has definitely become my latest obsession. Thanks, Raymond!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lest we forget Robot Jox

It's a great time to be a fangirl/boy. Sci-fi and fantasy films are being produced on a grand scale with big budgets by fine directors, both fanboy (Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon) and more traditionally dramatic (Christoper Nolan, Ang Lee).

Therefore, it's hard to remember a time when Robot Jox was the norm. Bad dialogue, bad hair, bad acting, and a little bit of nudity - this was the sci-fi film that only hard core fanboys/girls could enjoy. (Indeed, our friend Alex rented this movie. That's right: he paid cold, hard cash for it.)

The story takes place after a World War III, when war has been outlawed. Still, the Cold War is fought out in competitions between huge, man helmed robots. Our studly American hero, Achilles, won his final fight with his Russian arch-nemesis, Alexander, on a technicality. It's a fact that Achilles's genetically enhanced protégé, Athena, is constantly browbeating him about. She's also uptight and attractive, in spite of the rat tail (read: Achilles eventually beds her).

Robot Jox is painfully entertaining. Robotic Athena strips an unconsicous Achilles nude to "examine the physique of a champion" for educational purposes; the hover crafts waver like cardboard boxes on the end of a shoestring; when Achilles is suffering the immense g-forces associated with being launched into space, it looks more like a rocking case of constipation.

I fear the return of Robot Jox when Hollywood finally tires of mining sci-fi and fantasy source material. But I encourage anyone to check out Robot Jox, Mortal Kombat, or Logan's Run. They are like the highly enjoyable near-death experiences that will make your Lord of the Rings and Firefly boxsets feel like an immaculate conception.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 the max! Epilogue

Tony not only lived to see the end of the Niagara Fallsview Casino Half Marathon but accurately predicted his finishing time: 2 hours, 29 minutes, 3 seconds. Definitely an impressive finish for someone who didn't train at all.

Tony made the mistake of starting the race with the elites and burning himself out early, but redeemed himself with the Sprint and Stumble method of running. He was friendly with a pair of ladies for a number of miles before leaving them to eat his dust when the finish line was within sight.

Tony is open to future running-related activities, like a Centurion Marathon - 42 kilometers, 42 shots of beer. In a case of deja vu, Tony's response was, "That's not hard at all." Yesssss! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 21, 2005 the max!

Roughly two years ago, I started running and sadly, five minutes was my absolute limit. At some point, I was fed up of being the runt of the litter, with the litter consisting of a bunch of naturally athletic jocks. Starting in September 2004, I started training for the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in September 2005. Hard work overcame a childhood of obesity and a total absence of athletic skill and I finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Everyone has been very encouraging and complimentary of what is a respectable time. But I can't help but notice a doubt in their faces. A look that reads: She trips and falls on nothing (all true). She has absolutely no athletic abilities. I could probably do a half-marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes easy.

Many have thought this, no doubt. But few have been careless enough to voice it. Except my friend, Tony. Tony guestimates that he'll finish the half-marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tony has only run 1 mile, in under 5 minutes. A half marathon is roughly 13 miles.

This Sunday, we'll be putting theory to practice. I've signed Tony up for the Fallsview Casino Half Marathon, as part of an early Christmas gift. The weather promises to be nippy but the elevation is very forgiving (either level or downhill).

The majority of both stranger and mutual friends have reacted with horror at what is essentially my push to put Tony in a ditch with his pants around his ankles. But, my friend, Yvette totally agrees with me that Tony had it coming.

But you don't know Tony. He's really hardy and stubborn. I'm pretty sure he'll finish and I secretly fear he'll surpass my time.

Stay tuned! Results to come.

PS The accompanying photo is of Roger, runner extraordinaire. He also started running about a year ago and, as you can see, ran the half marathon in 1 hour 42 minutes. I'm pretty sure he has no doubts about beating me. Otherwise, his photo is a non sequitar. I just find it funny.

Down with the kids

It seems that everyone has a blog these days. I have read many a blog and even responded with my two cents once in a while. But I never felt the need to create my own blog, choosing to vent via email instead.

But things change. Work has been kind of slow while internet has remained readily available. Constantly sending random emails about nothing in particular seems intrusive to friends with actual careers.

So, I've decided to join the pop tech bandwagon and start a blog. I'll try to keep the complaining to a minimum. Thank you and come again.