Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nationalism, sports and caring

This Canada Day, there will be no rest for the athletic and the charitable. Who needs BBQ and fireworks when you can run to raise funds...then run some more!

At 8am, we will take part in the HBC Run For Canada. It is a fundraiser for Canadian athletes as well as publicity for HBC's line of official Beijing 2008 merchandise. I must admit that I was going to skip the run until I saw the shirt and finisher's medal - both Beijing inspired.

Flocons and I have discussed reenacting an encounter between a Beijing supporter and a Tibetan activist on the 10K course, but we fear that event organizers will crush us both in the process. Instead, we will have to stick to something that will give HBC pause, like 'Free Stephen Harper'.

Later in the day, after lining our stomachs with food and maybe napping under a maple tree, we will continue the theme of running and caring. With the goal of raising money for the Canadian Liver Foundation, we will hold a beer mile. Competitors will run a mile and drink four beers in the process. To open up the competition to pregnant women and pansies, chocolate milk has been offered as an alternate choice.

Participants and spectators will be asked to donate $5 and, in return, they'll get a nice drinking glass - schwag just like a real charity event. We even have a name for the run, which I hesitate to give for fear of incurring the wrath of the pink brigade. Let's just say that it is like a popular pink brigade fundraising event but with 'Liqueur' in place of 'the Cure'. Think about it.
I have high hopes for our beer mile because it has already provoked strong feelings of either support or revulsion. One non-attendee has pointed out that drinking in public is illegal where we live. I scoff since we will probably be arrested for trespassing on school property before the cops smell the alcohol on our breath.
Results of our beer mile to come! Happy Canada Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Must be seen to be believed

My Motorola V551 has served me well in the last three years, allowing me to capture random images every day. As the end of my wireless contract approaches, I am contemplating new cell phone options. In the meantime, here are some images from my Motorola V551.

A movie poster seen at Pacific Mall. Supposedly, Michael Madsen and Ron Livingston star in Gurds the Ainst but the imagery features Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz, an action movie spoof, and
Brazilian supermodel, Gisele Bundchen. WTF?

The worst sports bag I have ever seen. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to capture it. In case you can't make out the details, it's an Air Jordan messenger bag where the bottom of the bag is made out of the sole of a running shoe (presumably Air Jordans). I tried to be subtle as I scurried after the bag's owner, my camera phone held as close to the bag as possible, but truly, I was prepared to tell the man what I thought of his bag if confronted.

Before Flocons referred to the Supreme Master in response to my temporary vegetarianism, I had seen this poster in the TTC subway. The cost of placing ads in the TTC usually weeds out the bizarre yet this one saved up its pennies and got through. I encourage you to visit the website, http://suprememastertv.com/ and try to make sense of it.

Before closing for its renovation, the Art Gallery of Ontario had an exhibition where Julian Opie illustrations were juxtaposed with Henry Moore sculptures. It was a weak installation but my friends and I had fun photographing ourselves with the donut-headed strippers. We were approached by one of the security guards who told us to stop photographing the work. When I ask why, she explained that the work would be damaged by photography. "But my camera phone doesn't have a flash and it's digital," I protested. The guard continued to insist that physical damage was being done to the work and insisted that I erase my photos. "Done," I said, as I turned the camera feature off without actually deleting any files. After the guard walked away, I took a few more photos just because I could. As camera phones become more ubiquitous, it will be harder to fool people like security guards, but camera phones are still a great way to get photos on the sly.

Now, for the future! Joe has been arguing in favour of the Nokia N95 which has a more powerful camera than the Nokia N73. My eye tells me that the N73 takes better photos even with the weaker specs. Both are highly favoured by the Flickr community. Check out the photos and please comment - I would love to hear opinions on which is better.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CTV & Rogers - I despise you both

It is a fact of life that things change. However, I am put off by the recent changes to two cultural landmarks brought about by insensitive corporate manuvering.

CTV recently scooped up the "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song for an amount that CBC was either unwilling or unable to produce. A song that has been associated with watching hockey on the national public broadcast station for 40 years will now be grafted onto NHL games on TSN and Olympic hockey coverage in 2010. Already, TSN is parading the acquisition, playing it at every opportunity, but it sounds discordant without its traditional context.

Media outlets call the purchase a coup for CTV but this assumes that hockey fans will bob along to the song, no matter who plays it. I hope that hockey fans will not simply follow the song but, rather, feel outraged that their emotions and memories can be thought to be so easily acquired.

CTV may wish to purchase the warm and fuzzy feelings of the Canadian public but they want nothing to do with their unfiltered opinions. Shortly after acquiring CHUM, CTV shut down Speaker's Corner indefinitely. Now, CTV's partner in the butchering of CHUM/Citytv, Rogers Television has announced that Speaker's Corner will not be revived, as initially promised.

Before online forums, Speaker's Corner was a way for the public to air views to a wider audience. With the advent of the internet, it would seem that Speaker's Corner had ceased to become relevant. Rogers Television has even hinted at turning Speaker's Corner into an online feature. However, the technological prerequisites for joining in on an electronic version of Speaker's Corner would take this reincarnation away from the street-level culture that the original Speaker's Corner captured so well.

Nostaligia for sale and the online opinion exchange are all signs of the times but I had hoped that some cultural touchstones, like the "Hockey Night in Canada" theme and Speaker's Corner, would remain sacred.

The Jamie Kennedy experience

I went to Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner (JK@G) for lunch today. I had dreamed of eating there ever since my visit to the Gardiner Museum. So, when my boss, Bob proposed taking me and my co-worker, AL, out to lunch at the Gardiner, it was a dream come true!

Being predominantly in the lunch business, with only dinner served on Friday nights, the dining room was comfortably filled to capacity during our visit. The interior of JK@G is minimalist in aesthetic with the emphasis placed on the views outside, unobstructed by the floor to ceiling windows.

Bob, AL and I had been salivating over the online menu but found it changed on the day of our meal. The Duck Confit ($20) that I had decided to have, after debating with AL whether it was rude to order the most expensive dish on the menu, was not offered. Instead, I ordered the Black Cod with Spring Vegetable Ragout ($18), which Bob also decided to have. AL chose the Sea Scallops with Pork Belly ($18). Bob also ordered an appetizer to share: Cherry Wood Smoked Salmon with Fried Olives and Organic Egg ($14).

The server brought us fresh sourdough to whet our appetites along with butter, pepper puree and another orange puree that was equally delicious. When the Smoked Salmon appetizer arrived, we peered at the two tiny pieces until Bob judiciously created three equal portions. The salmon was unlike any that I have had before - perhaps it was the cherry wood influence. The fried olives were too small to savour for long. The organic eggs tasted like normal eggs.

I was disappointed with my black cod dish. Having cooked black cod many times back when it was plentiful in supply, I know how easily it can be made delicious due to its naturally sweet flavour. My black cod at JK@G was completely flavourless, in spite of having its skin fried to a crispy finish. The ragout was also underwhelming with a flavour that I promptly forgot. AL found her pork belly too salty and was surprised with the puniness of her scallops.

Fortunately, JK@G did dessert right. I got the Flourless Chocolate Cake ($7), as did Bob the biter. AL got the Banana and Dulce de Leche Cake ($7). Both desserts were accompanied by nutty flavoured sorbets and various berries that truly complemented the pastry. The banana cake looked more like a homemade muffin but turned out to be a moderate yet complex experience. The chocolate cake was dense without being heavy.

Bob, AL and I wandered onto the balcony afterwards to admire the ROM and the neighbouring buildings before wandering down the attractive stairwell and out the front door.

As we walked back to work, we entered a cinematic dimension. A guy on a bike was whizzing by when he stopped suddenly to ask if Bob was, in fact, sci-fi author, William Gibson. As he spoke, I suddenly realized that the guy on the bike was a former high school classmate who I had not seen in nearly a decade. I called to him in vain as he remained starstruck in the presence of Bob. It was like a French farce with a case of mistaken identity and genuine confusion. Bob finally confirmed that he was not William Gibson ("I can't believe he called my research science fiction," Bob later quipped), and I directed my sheepish former classmate to message me on Facebook. Everything had returned to normal and we strolled merrily back to our office.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cold cuts - I reject!

Today is my eighth day of temporary vegetarianism so technically, I could eat meat now.
In fact, I had the opportunity to stuff myself with a variety of meats at work. A catered lunch from Pickle Barrel featured an overabundance of cold cuts and not enough bread. In an effort to empty the heaving tray of meat, I unloaded its contents onto the plates of co-workers, on top of their nutritious sandwiches, their leafy salads, their meal replacement shakes. All a lucky person had to do was walk by and she found herself blessed with a shower of salami and corn beef.

This eagerness to unload meat was not out of fear of giving in to temptation. I can honestly say that the cold cuts were not appealing at all, not even when I was running my hands through them (while making sandwiches). This is probably not surprising since I have never been a fan of cold cuts, but it goes to show that my meat lust did not take over, even when given a flagrant opportunity.
I'm going to keep this vegetarian streak going because I am curious to see what type of meat will ultimately break my resolve. Will it be bacon, pork chop or ham? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Neo...uh, Luke...I mean, Wesley, you're special!

Let me admit that I'm probably going to see Wanted. But aren't fanboys tired of being fed the same crap over and over again?

Ordinary guy (1) who leads a boring existence (2) is recruited by a mysterious female (3) to help rid the world of evil using innate powers (4) that he never knew he possessed. He undergoes a rigorous training program under the tutelage of a fellow of colour (5), joins an elite crew (6), and discovers a world of danger and intrigue in the process.

(1) Wesley Gibson or Thomas Anderson or Luke Skywalker
(2) in a cubicle or on a farm
(3) Fox or Trinity or Princess Leia
(4) genetic makeup of an assassin or possibility of being The One or The Force
(5) Sloan or Morpheus or Yoda
(6) Fraternity of Assassins or the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar or the Rebel Alliance

Wanted has the added bonus of the main character disdainfully crapping on the targeted audience: "Six weeks ago, I was ordinary and pathetic...just like you." Audience members wearing trenchcoats and witty t-shirts shed a single tear.