Gray Flannel Dwarf


Returned from Toronto

Had a good ole time up in Toronto over the holiday weekend… as if I ever have a bad time up there.
Arrived in Toronto. Didn’t do much that night, except relax.

Went to the CNE roaming up, down and around the venue.
Apparently we went one day before all the excitement, however — although I do remember standing right next to that ride. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed pricy, considering we had to pay $10 CDN to get in, and then were nickeled and dimed everywhere we went. Did get to introduce her parents to the wonders of international foods — Indian, Greek, Jamaican amongst them — albeit they were your typical, dubious fairground versions.

From a distance away, we could see the more interesting bits of the air show, and I saw the various fighter jet units all over the sky during the entire weekend, regardless of where I stayed.

I tried my hand at a few of the skill games, most notably of which was the one where you try to throw a baseball and bust a plate. Two throws for five bucks; two shattered plates equalled a big prize. My first pitch was a dead ringer, shattered the plate fantastically. My second pitch — well, I can’t believe it. I have little accuracy when it comes to throwing, but unbelieveably, I hit the exact same spot where the previously shattered plate was — so no prize for me.

Finally, we went to one of the few free events, to see the RCMP Musical Ride. It was fairly interesting, although it seemed a bit hokey — but I can’t be so culturally ignorant as to bust on it. The RCMP are an indispensable bit of Canadian culture. I guess it was just the music that bugged me. Other than that, the precision involved w/ the horse processions reminded me at least somewhat of the US Army Drill Team.

I got to grill for about 20 or so family members, which was, to date, my most intense venture yet at grilling. Grilled three pork loins in a BBQ sauce; it was mostly the same sauce I used in the past, but wasn’t quite as good this time around. I also grilled six chicken breasts in a simple marinade that was mostly cheap red wine and soy sauce. On top of that, I grilled three top roasts and attempted to do them in something of a Jamaican style, but they turned out a bit bland… mostly though, in my mind anyway, because one of the younger faces in the crowd would’ve refused to eat anything w/ the slightest bit of heat to it.

Finally, I grilled some stuffed tomatoes (put the guts in a bowl; add various italian seasonings, breadcrumbs, and parmesean or asiago or romano; drop a chunk of mozarella in to the tomato and re-fill them; sprinkle the top w/ more asiago) and some garlic (chop off the top; drizzle with olive oil and add basil, oregano and a bit of salt). In all, the meal was pretty good, along with what everyone else brought… although I am still disappointed in the beef.

Monday was a bit of downtime. We went to go see Vanity Fair which I really can’t say impressed me too much, although to be… uh, fair, I was kind of drowsy about 1/3 of the way through it (probably due to the several glasses of caribou — no, not the meat, but rather some strong, Quebecois port wine and alcohol concoction — that I had w/ her dad at lunch). A lot of the guys looked a lot alike, and I just generally had a hard time following it, although the story, in my mind, wasn’t too interesting… it just wasn’t my cuppa.

Afterwards, we went to the always tasty Margarita’s for dinner to introduce her parents to yet more foods — this time it was chorizo chimichanga, steak tacos and chicken fajitas. The fried ice cream left something to be desired, however — it seemed a bit… stale? Dunno, but the outside was kinda chewy, not even reasonably crispy as I’d expected.

Departed Toronto. Taxi was running late to the airport, the line at the United desk was unbearable, and the US Customs and Immigration lines were terrible, although they let me cut ahead since I had a 10:20 AM flight.

That is, my flight was supposed to be at 10:20.

I huff it and puff it down to the gate w/ about thirty minutes to spare, knowing that they normally start to board flights 20-30 minutes beforehand. I get down there to Gate T, however.. and there is no status on the screen and no one at the desk. 10:00 rolls around, 10:10… no one. Finally, I query someone doing security and they told me they just found out that the flight was delayed. Mechanical problems in the flight departing from Dulles or something.

As it turned out — or what they told us — someone had mistakenly turned on the heat, rather than the AC in the cabin, and they had to de-board and let the cabin cool on its own accord. However, that may or may not explain what they told us, upon boarding, that the auxiliary engine was not working, and therefore we would not have AC before takeoff or after landing.

In any case, our flight was supposed to depart at around 12:45, and I guess we boarded around that point, but I dozed off shortly thereafter, but I’m guessing — and United’s website seemed to confirm this — that we didn’t leave until after 1:30, because I didn’t arrive at IAD until nearly 3:00.

Interesting observations on my way back.
* Guy sitting in the lobby whose otherwise short hair had a long strand a la one of Lucas’ jedi knights. My first judgement was to assume he was some sort of sci-fi geek, but I decided I’d better not be so rash as to assume this; perhaps there was some actual religious or cultural meaning to it, and that it just resembled the jedi hairpiece…. and then I saw his book. He was reading Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon.

Yep, sci-fi geek.

* As we approached landing, I was looking down at the busy suburban streets. As we passed over an intersection, I noticed that there were about four or five vehicles all lining up at a light — and all the cars were red.

* On the shuttle back to the main terminal, I saw some sort of letter callsign/identification/something on the side of a larger jet… I think it was Air Lingus. Anyway, the callsign was almost very close to dubious: “I-DEID”

In any event, it was a busy day… but a shutout in kickball was a good capstone, busted-up legs notwithstanding.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 12:16 am


Some Toronto thoughts.

I may add to these as I remember them.

* Mamma Mia! is a really, really fun musical. You should go see it if you get the chance. I don’t particularly like much disco, but the way this was done was both unique and great.

* Dining at the CN Tower is okay; The food is decent, but not worth the price — good thing the seats came as part of a tourism package.

* The Queens Quay Il Fornello makes pretty good stone-oven pizzas, but their service leaves a fair bit to be desired.

* The new Korean bbq buffet place near Queen and University (or McCaul?) is fantastic.

* And finally… seeing a Chinese restaurant with a funny name (“HO KING“), made me giggle a bit. Seeing a quite (obviously) manly transvestite in a sorta slutty get-up, with hot pants and ‘revealing’ tank top made me chortle a bit. But seeing said transvestite leaving said Chinese restaurant was tremendously amusing.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:48 pm


So, it has been bitter

So, it has been bitter cold here in Toronto, the whole time I’ve been around. However, it seems all my fellow DC suburbanites are in for like a foot of snow over the next 36-48 hours.

Something is funny about that.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 12:25 pm


Went to “La Bodega” for

Went to “La Bodega” for dinner tonight, here in Toronto. Herbed goat cheese, mushrooms and red wine pear for appetizer, bordeaux and filet mignon in cognac sauce for dinner, and coffee/creme brulee for dessert… and a big surprise “happy birthday” dinner out of it all.

One of the best meals of my life, I think. I mean, the quality compared to other great place I’ve visited before, but just the environment, the meal, everything… now I know what Anthony Bourdain was seeking.

I love this city.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:51 pm


Is it just me, or

Is it just me, or is Toronto’s “Famous Players Paramount” the absolute coolest theatre, ever?

Oh yeah, and Ocean’s 11 was pretty good, too.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 7:52 pm


Final Toronto updates and observations


* She got me the watch pictured above. I had to modify the image — there is something wrong with the one on their website… all of the orange portions there appear yellow. I felt kinda bad at first because I didn’t want her to spend that kind of money on me, but she got a really, really good deal on it. And I suppose it’s the first nice watch I’ve owned. I must admit, I like it a lot.

* Watched some curling bits on TV. I kinda got into it, even though I didn’t quite understand the scoring — I’ll have to read up on that. It’s so curious, but watching the men’s Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, it was amazing to see the sheer accuracy that some of these guys have. Also, I think that the guys roaring, “harder! harrr-derrrr!” to the others who have the brushes… it’s satisfying in some weird, viking sorta way.

* You know you’re in Canada and not the U.S., when you see liquor commercials on TV. Some of these were fun. Made me wish the ban on liquor ads here (albeit self-imposed, I think) didn’t exist.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 11:23 am


Toronto still rocks.

Well, with the exception of this computer at which I am sitting, right now, in this computer lab… the spacebar on this keyboard sux0rz!!!#@$!

Quick rundown. Had dinner here the first night. Not bad, but not spectacular. My singaporean noodles were good (oh, excuse me, Zyngaporean noodles), but her Sichuan noodles were nothing to shout about. And the dumplings were pretty generic. The chili sauce was too sweet. But I could still see myself going down there for lunch if I lived here.

At Second Cup, I’ve had …a few. Not a bad coffee joint, a la Starbucks. Actually, there’s a Starbucks right across the street from this one. Still haven’t been to Tim Horton’s yet, as recommended by my co-worker. He says it’s the best coffee up here. There’s one downstairs, across the street, however… maybe I’ll go grab one.

Went to a get-together with her family. It was about 99% Mandarin, so I didn’t talk much. Had one good laugh though, when one of her relatives brought over some special Chinese rice wine (52% alc by volume), and gave me some. She, worried that I would end up drunk in the hands of her relatives, admonished me with, “tai sha!“, to which I responded “ni tai sha!“. This resulted in an eruption of laughter.

The weather has been a bit chilly sometimes… as compared to the unseasonably warm DC weather we’d been having, anyway. Very nice, though. I’ve enjoyed walking down Yonge Street quite a bit. This section of town is very neat.

Flight to DC, early tomorrow morning :-/

cswiii @ 7:12 pm


one helluva fun weekend

Returned back from Toronto at 2.37 this afternoon. Big city, great city, I dig it a lot. Some observations from my weekend. Probably more later, if I can remember them.

* American money goes quite a bit further there. $1 CDN = about 62c American these days. Combine that with things costing, dollar for dollar, a slight bit less there than here, and I felt something like a king :>

* Canadian money looks a lot nicer. But it doesn’t have the same “smell”. Hee.

* Harvey’s is a great little fast food joint. Kinda like Burger King’s “we make it your way” — but it’s even better customer service. Oh, yeah, and poutine. I had no idea what that was, but the little board outside the restaurant made it look good. It’s basically french fries, drowned in gravy and mozarella. YUM. Heart-attack-in-a-cup. I wish places here sold that.

* Speaking of food, vegetarianism is a lot more accepted there. Even Harvey’s sold veggieburgers, and all the hotdog vendors on the street corners had Yves tofu-dogs. Helps bridge a cultural gap between an accquaintance of mine in BC — he’s 99% vegetarian, and we’d get into arguments, and I’d talk about how expensive it is. He says it’s not. Well, of course not — if you live in a society where it’s so readily accepted, things will be a lot cheaper.

* The taxi drivers were’t very talkative, or even awfully polite, in some cases. This struck me as strange. Everyone else with whom I talked seemd quite cordial.

* Great Asian buffet place out near Victoria Park (?). Generic name, like “Oriental Feast” or something. But good.. and as we were leaving, we saw the massive crowd waiting. Apparently our party had reserved tables a week in advance.

* I still can’t get used to metric measurements. More distances than the temperatures, really. I got a feel for centigrade, but seeing signs like “Highway 471 exit 500m” threw me for loops.

* Dude on the plane across the aisle from me looked like Sean Lennon. A lot.

Bonus non-CA observations

* Flying back into Dulles, it was interesting to see the differences between MD and VA, just by looking at the land on each side of the Potomac R. on the MD side, there was very little development… as soon as you cross the river, though, you see nothing but lots of little roofs and roads. Mmmm, Virginia sprawl, coming to a suburb near you.

* The one hill/mountain I saw in MD, as we flew in… the whole hill was covered in red foliage (maple?), which cascaded down, through to the flat land surrounding it, in all sorts of jagged directions. Looked something like a volcanic eruption of mahogany and crimson.

cswiii @ 5:38 pm