Gray Flannel Dwarf


Fonts not of youth.

Joe Clark has an amazing (and somewhat pointed) paper on the quality, or lack thereof, concerning the typeface usage and decay in the TTC stations across Toronto.

He makes a lot of terrific points. I had to read it fairly carefully, however, because from my thousand-foot perspective, it was too easy to get lost in all the photos, remembering the time I had/have spent in them. Makes me miss the city more.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 11:31 am


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


Back from old T.O.

Returned from Toronto last night, barely escaping, it seems, the 10cm of snow/ice they were expecting to start yesterday afternoon. All in all, it was nice up there – probably about 50-55ºF until the day I left, where it dipped to freezing.

We saw two movies… Cold Mountain, which was pretty good, and Love, Actually which wasn’t bad.. er… actually. The former film was quite nice, but I don’t want to talk a lot about it, should people decide they want to catch it. I did not at all realise that Natalie Portman was the one who played “Sara”, however, didn’t even notice that at all until I read it in an article after getting home.

The latter movie was pretty good for about two-thirds of the film, until it boiled down into the expected sappy mess, but the overall british-ness about it was terrific. The guy who plays “Tim” in The Office is in this film, and just about every scene containing him is quite funny, albeit for a very pointed reason. I wish we could’ve seen more of him in the film. Finally, while most of this movie’s plot took place in Britain, the target of the film was very obviously an American one, based on the numerous references to a “Merry”, rather than a “Happy” Christmas.

Food was terrific.. we did Chinese Hot Pot over New Years at the house of some of her family, and I always love that. We also went out to a fancy, shmancy Chinese restaurant near Richmond Hill or something, which came out to about $300 CDN for a few dishes that fed the entire family of 13 people or so. It wasn’t bad — and who am I to judge, considering it’s a fave of a bunch of my future Chinese relatives — but with the exception of a few of the dishes, I feel I’ve had better.

We took the mandatory trip or two to Harvey’s, which is probably one of my favourite fast food places anymore… wish we had them down here. We also went to what is quickly becoming my favourite eatery in Toronto, The Korean Grill House. Been there twice now, the first time being shortly after it opened sometime mid-2003. Tell you what, I like Malibu Grill and all, down here, when I want my meat fix, but for $12.95 CDN for all-you-can-eat, Korean Grill knocks the pants off of Malibu… and tastes a lot better, too.

Finally, we also ate a a little Mexican place whose name escapes me, but which was quite tasty, and quite conveniently located — right near my fiance’s apartment. She may complain about her “shabby little home”, but I think she’s in a prime location, if you ask me. Right across the street from a little strip of restaurants and shops which kind of have that (Virginia) Richmond-esque, “Strawberry Street” feel to them, albeit quite a bit more ethnically diverse.

I’ve said it like ten-billion times before, but Toronto is such a fantastic city…

Tags: , — cswiii @ 9:52 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


I’m back….

I didn’t post it here because I was too lazy to make special “friends” groups, and thus couldn’t post it in any way shape or form, without giving away the secret…

Friday morning, I left from Reagan National Airport to Toronto. Why’d I head up there? Because it was chinchin‘s birthday today (Sunday), and I wanted to give her the best birthday gift and weekend ever.

In any case, I arrived in Toronto pretty darn early — I got to the airport very much ahead of schedule, and thus got to leave two flights early. Arrived, navigated my way west-to-east across the city on an amalgam of transportation modes: bus, train, foot, to my hotel room.

From there, I got my stuff ready — but here it was, around 1.30, and she wouldn’t be off work till much later! So I hoofed it around the city… it’s amazing how clear all the sites were in my memory, and how easy it was to find my way from my hotel on Ryerson and Queen, to the intersection of College and Yonge, based solely on visual cues that correlated with mental notes.

Roamed around. Stopped into a cigar shop, a few drug stores, and into a Pizza Pizza and had… a stuffed burger (ha ha, fooled you!).

Had a few coffees throughout the day, each time correlating with different Second Cup stops, and each involving a phone call with her, taling about the boring “meetings” etc., which were my excuse as to why I wasn’t online on a work day ;).

Rain poured down Friday afternoon, so I dodged heavy pockets of rain, using carefully timed hops across the streets when traffic lights permitted. Made it to her apt., the same apt. where her cousin lives. The same apt. where they were going to get together for a “girls’ night out”. However, she was the only one in the family that didn’t know I was arriving.

Needless to say, the rest of the weekend was fun. Saturday involved a trip with the family out to a sichuan hot pot restaurant, which, after the beijing trip, is by far one of my favourite Chinese dishes these days. Headed back to DC today, after dealing with some intense security checkpoints in Toronto.

It was such a good time, so much fun, and so good to see her so happy.

And I’m happy too :)

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 10:45 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