Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Here I come to save the day

I'll be taking off to save Iceland's economy shortly. That means no blogging for the next while but non-stop anecdotes about Iceland coming soon.

As usual, I would like to warn prospective thieves that I have a nervous house sitter who plays with knives.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Things I learned from my optometrist

I recently used the power of the internet to find a new optometrist. After searching through the forums, I settled on Dr. Andrew Leung based on a combination of good reviews and a convenient location. He is pricier than some optometrists but my terrible eyes require better than bargain basement care.

I found myself impressed with Dr. Leung; he was friendly, talkative, and seemed up to date on his professional reading. Some tidbits of information he provided that made me say, "Oh, really?" included:
  • Not all contact lens solutions clean all brands of disposable contact lenses equally well. Some brands may be more compatible with certain contact lenses.
  • Some contact lens solutions can cause irritation to a portion of the population. For instance, ReNu has been found to cause irritation to Asian users. While this irritation is not always obvious, it can cause damage to the eyes.
  • Costlier rub-free formulas are the same as regular contact lens cleaners. Apparently, the contact lens solution companies produced a study demonstrating that simply storing contact lenses without manual cleaning still kills 90-something percent of the bacteria. Hence, the companies were allowed by the government body to label their solutions 'rub-free'. When I asked if that meant that I could be cheap and lazy, Dr. Leung advised the opposite: that I should always clean my lenses manually regardless of whether I use a rub-free solution or not.
  • "Do you play contact sports?" asked Dr. Leung. "Not lately," I responded after some thought. Apparently I should avoid any impact to the head as my retina is at risk of detaching. So, if you find me unconscious with obvious trauma to the head, please call '911' and ask the doctor to examine my eyes; the window of opportunity to re-attach one's retina is roughly 48 hours, after which blindness is permanent.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dell laptop association, I reject

The distribution of songs via commercials worked for Moby and, more recently, for Feist, too. I believe that these were successful unions because Moby is musical wallpaper that does not require discerning visual accompaniment and the iPod Nano is a complementary product for any recording artist be associated with.

However, for the most part, I find that commercial associations ruin songs. I will never again listen to Basement Jaxx's "Where's your head at?" with any enjoyment thanks to the stupid TV commercial that paired the song with overly active chip munchers on a beach. It just goes to show how corrosive a bad commercial can be since I had the Basement Jaxx album before I ever saw the ad, and yet, it completely changed my relationship with the song thereafter.

I try not to remember but I can still picture:
  • large American cars when I hear "The Look of Love" by Diana Krall
  • hair colouring when I hear to Chantal Kreviazuk
  • playing Rock Band when I listen to Neko Case (though this is not necessarily a bad thing)
The newest Dell laptop commercial features "I Love You, Ono" by Stereo Total. As I watch hipsters dance in and out of a building with their new laptops, I am glad that the song has already been immunized by my previous exposure to it on Eve Gravel's website. If this song is going to be associated with any product, I would prefer that it be an independent Canadian designer whose clothes I love than gimmicky, lifestyle technology.

Ideally, songs should have their own identity, untainted by any product association. However, the successful claiming of "I Love You, Ono" by Eve Gravel over Dell in my consciousness makes me think that this is the way to combat bad commercial unions. Do a preemptive strike by holding up that sweater your grandma knit for you and have it dance to the music as you listen to whatever song has a high probability of being ruined by a marketing campaign in the future.

Feel free to list suggested object and song immunizations or rant about commercial song unions that ruined your musical experience forever.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I won something

I am still waiting for the organizers of Nuit Blanche to make a decision about my exhibition proposal for 2009 (perhaps, in vain). In the meantime, I've won a creativity contest and my prize is the nifty bowl of borscht on the left.
I think the competition was pretty fierce but statistically promising. Ha..."ass structures"...
I will take ego support wherever I can get it. Thanks, Vicki!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

If not moustaches, then fedoras

In an attempt to tame his hair, Joe will often wear a baseball cap to squeeze his afro into submission. My problem with the baseball cap is that it makes Joe look young, sometimes, younger than me. This inaccuracy in age perception is a problem that needs to be fixed...oh, and his hair, too.

Back in December, Joe and I were in the Penguin store in Las Vegas and came across a spiffy fedora. It looked good on Joe's unusually large head and gave him an air of sophisticated cool. Unfortunately, Joe worried that he would not have sufficient opportunity to wear it since he works in the land of khakis and statement t-shirts, and therefore, chose not to make the purchase.

Now that the fedora has definitely hit the mainstream, I would like to make a case for it again. Joe recently tried to grow a beard but the rug burn was more than I could take. Why not make the fedora your Easter bonnet this weekend?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Stomach: ready to rumble

Somewhere between dreams of cannibalism and leading innocent friends astray at dim sum, I like to experiment with food. To be clear, I enjoy eating unusual food prepared by people with skill, as opposed to preparing food, in which my specialties tend to run the gamut of bland to tasteless.

So when Flocons recommended Charlie's Burgers, which he described as "a mix of Fight Club and Summerlicious," I signed up right away.

Other friends did not submit their answers to Charlie's food survey as quickly for fear of being rejected. In the days that followed, I got a little worried that the answers that I had provided, while truthful, were not refined enough. A sample of my palate:
What are your 3 favourite restaurants in Toronto?
Ajisen Ramen
Xe Lua Restaurant
Fresh Restaurant
(I can't claim that any of the pricier restaurants that I have visited are my favourite since I do not dine there regularly but I really enjoyed Cowbell.)

What would your last meal on earth be?

Something familiar and hefty like: a sweet potato soup to start; a medium rare Kobe beef steak with roasted zucchini, red and green peppers, asparagus, and artichokes; finish off with apple pie crumble with a side of black sesame ice cream.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself?

I will eat practically anything. Even if you were to serve me insects, I will eat them as long as they no longer look like insects.
Happily, just over a week later, I got Charlie's approval along with a sample menu to whet my appetite! Maybe the promise of a guest who will eagerly pay to eat something gross got their attention. Or maybe they're just looking to avoid diners who will prod their dish suspiciously and whine, "Whaaat's this?" Rest assured, Charlie, I am not that person.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Canadian Liver Foundation sells me out

Last summer, I organized a charity run that was not entirely altruistic but lead to a modest donation to The Canadian Liver Foundation. The cheque probably came as a surprise to the charity and hence, the administrator who typed my name into their database was possibly giddy when s/he spelled my name wrong.

I took the charitable receipt in stride, not bothering to request a reprint. However, I soon became the target of numerous other begging hands. The Canadian Liver Foundation had sold their mailing list, which included my misspelled name.

I used to complain to Joe that I never received the cool address stickers and personalized note pads that charities sent to him in an effort to pique his generosity. Now that I have become a recipient of those coveted address stickers and they display my misspelled name, I feel the burn of the adage, "Be careful what you wish for...or be very specific."

The following charities buy their mailing list from The Canadian Liver Foundation and will only receive my scorn:
Easter Seals
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
Children's Aid Foundation
The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation
Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation
Ontario March of Dimes
ALS Society of Canada
CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind)
The Canadian Hearing Society
The Cancer Research Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
The Monastery of Mount Carmel, Society of the Little Flower

I will be updating the list of scorn as I continue to receive unsolicited mail addressed to someone else.

Friday, April 03, 2009

More like Children of the Corn

Today's feature on "The Current" about children of the recession is the latest in the media trend of creating parallels between the Great Depression and the current global recession. As guest host, Nancy Wilson tried to get economics expert, Yvette Kantrow, to compare the generation that grew up during the Depression of the 1930s ("The Silent Generation") with the current crop of youths, it became evident that the story was a non-starter. Kantrow stuck by the belief that many other world events might have just as much of an impact on the current generation as the economic crisis, if not more.

Rather than refer to the war in Afghanistan or the advent of China as a world economic power as influences on young people of today, I would refer instead to Britney Spears's public breakdown and Octo-Mom. It has been speculated that the Western public was largely complacent about the genocide in Rwanda because it had the misfortune of taking place at the same time as the O.J. Simpson trial. Similarly, I would posit that the current generation of youth are nicely anesthetized by widespread tabloid media and consumerism to the economic woes that scarred the Silent Generation into a lifetime of thriftiness and practicality. It is ridiculous to even compare the two generations, despite similarly disasterous economic situations.

Maybe if the children of the Dust Bowl era had had access to a Hilary Duff credit card that allowed them to buy affordable, throwaway fashion while surfing the internet to download songs and movies for free off torrent sites, then they wouldn't have had to suffer their way to a strong work ethic and fatalistic leanings. If today's generation has learned anything about the economic crisis, it is that recessions provide good sales.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Latest obsession: My Hoi Bo bag

The 2009 One of a Kind Spring Show proved to be very good to me. For one thing, I was well fed - gratis! My association with a more reputable online publication than this blog gave me access to the Media Breakfast, held about an hour before opening.

Matthew B. Foote, Executive Chef at Elora Mill Inn, prepared the following menu for the press:
Heirloom Carrot and Orange Juice
Apple Cider with Star Anise
Wild Pacific Smoked Salmon
Westphalian Ham
Fine Canadian Cheeses
Wild Flower Honey Comb
Assorted Artisan Bread
Grilled Back Bacon with Maple Gastrique
Pain Perdue Filled with 20 Hour Apples
"AF 4109 UG Research" Snake Egg Tarts with Thunder Oak Gouda
Crisp Heirloom Potato Confit
Centre Wellington County Maple Syrup

My friend and I took the snake eggs all in stride but the dish turned out to be an April Fool's joke on the part of the chef. Regular chicken eggs left us a little disappointed in theory but not in taste.

With full stomachs, we went strong for three hours, fulfilling my responsibility to the publication that helped get us fed, and getting some shopping in at the same time.

Eve Gravel failed to offer the right sizes for the pieces that I was interested in (a problem that was driving Eve crazy). However, I consoled myself with my single purchase from the OOAK: my Portrait bag by Hoi Bo (seen above). Handcrafted in Toronto, it is easily one of the chicest and most grown up bags that I have ever purchased. Not only does the bag look attractive but it smells delicious, too; the bag's fabric was hand waxed with pure beeswax. The result is a durable finish, made to match the solid hardware and soft leather handles, which reportedly require 45 minutes of work alone to attach to the bag.

With this bag, I overcame my phobia of shoulder bags. Time will tell if my back problems overcome my vanity.

See this great highlight of the OOAK Spring Show for further enticement.