Archive for November, 2006

Today is the last day of November, and although winter doesn’t officially start for another 21 days or so, everyone seems to be getting in a winter mood thanks to all the Christmas wreaths, lights and music that are popping up everywhere.  Although it was 15 degrees here in Toronto first thing this morning, the rest of Canada is already welcoming Old Man Winter with curses and seething anger, and our day will come.  It might come tomorrow actually, as the mercury is set to drop 13 degrees in the next 20 hours or so… but Global Warming is a myth.  Or so I’m told.

All this warm weather has made it weird walking home after work.  It’s really dark by 5pm, but it feels like 10 pm on a spring night with the warm breezes and the fact that you can’t see your own breath.  I’d prefer if winter just came already, but I realize I’m in the minority on that.  For those who are getting sick of night showing up in the afternoon, take solace in the fact that the shortest day of the year is creeping up on us as quickly as Christmas.

For Christmas this year, I’ve decided that I only really want one thing, and it’s quite a simple gift.  I want a ray gun that when fired at a racoon will turn him (or her) into a little pile of bundled $100 bills.  It would be nice if it had a setting for firing at Volvos and reparing their ailing engines, but I’m not greedy… I could just shoot a bunch of racoons and pay to get the car fixed.

If no one sees fit to buy me that ray gun, I guess another thing I’d ask for this Christmas would be for the Russian government not to poison me.  From the sounds of things, it’s just a matter of time until everyone gets their due and I’d prefer they just pass me by.

Oh, and world peace… or something.

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In the wee, small hours of the morning, I awoke to a sound… a terrible sound… a sound which I thought I wouldn’t hear again for some time.  It was the sound of racoons fighting (or copulating… I’m not sure which) in the chimney just above my head.  This, of course, means war.

Despite our landlord’s frequent attempts to keep them out, and vocal claims that each time it’s handled professionally, I think it’s time for me to get creative.  I understand that poisoning or shooting them is illegal in Toronto (and I’m not even going to get started on this), but I’m sure I can make life as unpleasant for them as possible.

Tomorrow, while I’m at work, my iPod will be blaring bagpipe music through my guitar amp, which will be placed against the wall right where they’re trying to sleep.  If they won’t pay rent, they should get out.  (Please don’t act shocked that I have bagpipe music on my iPod).  Also, I’ll fire a few firecrackers into the chimney after work to see if I can scare them a little bit.

In other news…

… this week’s game of Manhunt will start at the southeast corner of Pape and Danforth.  As always, we’ll meet a little early for a drink somewhere.  Given the neighbourhood, it’ll probably be shots of Ouzo and baklava… not that I’m complaining.

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It’s amazing how easily and quickly you can become accustomed to your surroundings.  I guess it’s one of the mysteries of the human mind.  For example, in the eleven months I’ve lived downtown I’ve seen a great many things that have shocked me, but I’m getting desensitized and it’s happening at an alarming rate.

Take this morning for example… as I walked west down Dundas toward Jarvis, a man who was VERY clearly urinating on a payphone wished me a good morning.  Rather than being shocked at someone peeing on a public street at 8am (which isn’t all that strange to me anymore), I was buoyed by his chipper attitude and appreciated him taking the time to wish me a good morning.

And that’s why I love living downtown… it may be gritty and offensive on the surface, but when it comes down to it, it’s a very friendly and welcoming place.  Feel free to stop by and visit sometime.  Just don’t step in any puddles… they might be pee.

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Before I start into the weekend round-up, I want to mention that I got the TTC’s new fancy tokens this morning and I’m unimpressed.  Not only does each token weigh as much as a nickel (which means carrying 8 in your pocket isn’t a good idea), but my first one ever jammed in the turnstile.  There was no way that bad boy was going to fit into the slot… which makes me wonder if this is going to be a problem TTC-wide.

Friday: The long drive to Montreal.  We barely saw any crazy drivers, cops (until right near the Quebec border) or animals.  We also discovered that my iTrip isn’t very useful with Danielle’s car stereo.  You can’t tune station by station to find static as it will only scan for stations with a signal.

Saturday: After sleeping in a bit, we had a nice leisurely breakfast followed by a drive through Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and a walk through McGill’s arboretum (read ‘Forest’) on a gorgeous fall day.  We followed that up with hot cider and pumpkin muffins at a nearby farm.

With the country out of our system, we headed into the city for all-you-can eat sushi to celebrate Danielle’s dad’s and sister’s birthdays.  We got into the city a little early, so I made good use of my time by finding a Dep that sells GREAT beer (this is very rare) and bought a six-pack of Harp Lager.

Sunday: After a great breakfast, we headed back downtown to check out a free gallery showing some work by Guido Molinari (very Karim-like) followed by some visits to Montreal landmarks… like the Old Pool Room for $1 steamed hot dogs (yes, steamed… the buns too), Schwartz’s Deli (so our car reeked of Montreal smoked meat all the way home thanks to our 1.5 lbs of take-out) and a fresh bagel bakery (more take-out).

Once we hit the road, we were unstoppable.  Even after making a couple of stops for washroom breaks and caffeine injections, we made the trip home in 5 hours… and we didn’t even get busted for speeding.

Montreal was trying to tell me something.  It seemed that everywhere we went, there was a billboard advertising the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (okay, maybe I saw 5 of them, but that’s still a lot!).  In summary, Montreal has great food and drink, and is overtly telling me to buy my dream camera.

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Depending on your idividual political or economic sensiblities, I wish you all a Happy Black Friday and/or a Happy Buy Nothing Day!  If you’re confused, I wish you a Happy Friday and all the happiness that a Friday can bring.  So far, mine has not brought much.  The fine people at Tim Hortons screwed up my entire order (botched coffee and completely botched bagel), but I’m sure my day is looking up.

Regardless, nothing could ruin my great mood after last night’s epic game of Manhunt.  Karim and I showed up with high hopes and low expectations that there would be as many as 15 people out after a long subway ride and getting dirty looks in Wendy’s (I may have made a really funny joke that someone misunderstood).  We headed to the corner where everyone was supposed to meet, and there was a plethora of people.  By gametime we had almost 30 players!

Mel Lastman Square turned out to be the perfect venue for a giant game of Manhunt too.  There was lots of light, but lots of shadow too.  Everywhere you turn there are nooks and crannies to hide in and bushes to hide under, and there’s lots of wide open spaces to run in and stairs to jump down.

After two games, we called it a night and took the long subway ride back into civilization.  I’m hoping that the momentum keeps up for the next few weeks.

Have a great weekend!

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Manhunt is upon us again, and that means trekking up to the north end of the city.  I’ll be hopping on the subway at Dundas station around 8:30 or 8:45 and heading up to Toby’s Good Eats across from Mel Lastman square for around 9pm for a quick libation (or two) before heading up to the southwest corner of Park Home Ave. and Yonge St. around 9:30 or 9:45.

Be there... or don't

If you want to meet up for the long commute to the hinterlands of northern Toronto, let me know.

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Today is a very easy day to be sarcastic. Aside from not getting a good night’s sleep, it’s American Thanksgiving (see William S. Burroughs’ “Thanksgiving Prayer”… text and video. Warning: There’s some graphic languge in there.) and Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe are going toe-to-toe on the defintion of Quebec’s nationhood. Sigh.

First, to my American friends and readers, I wish you a happy turkey day. You have a lot to be thankful for this year. What with Rummy out the door and the effective dismantling of the Republican Empire you can at least hope for the reinstitution of some civil rights and competent government (and hopefully actual national security… not just being forbidden to take water on a plane). At the very least, you get a day off work, right?

Second, we Canadians get to enjoy months of debate about nationalism and the Canadian identity. So there’s that. Is Quebec a nation, or a nation within a nation? Or could it be a nation within a nation within a nation all contained in a hard candy shell? Perhaps the west will now want to be recognized as a nation within a nation… distinguished by its oil-powered cattle. Remember back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Nationalism was fashionable and countless people lost their lives? Ah, the good ‘ol days.

My opinions on the issue of Quebec’s nationhood are varied and impassioned. Given my unique position as the son of an Anglophone Quebecker (Quebecer?), I feel like I can see both sides quite clearly and it leaves me tired and frustrated. I just wish we could all sit and play in the same sandbox without any hairpulling, crying or pants-wetting. Alas, it’s not likely to happen so I’ll just dig in and try to watch the mudslinging in as disconnected a way as I can.

On a happier note (just to prove that I’m not all stormclouds and sarcasm today), Danielle and I are headed to Montreal this weekend (which is located in the nation of Quebec… which is located within the nation of Canada) for what will no doubt be a great weekend. That’s kind of keeping me sane today. 🙂

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Not only was there a shooting in downtown Toronto last night, but it was right in our neighbourhood. Not exactly close to our house, but not exactly far either.  Fortunately, the gunfire was contained and no bystanders where injured or killed.

Still, I feel less scared of taking a random bullet in a drive-by than I do of getting hit by a car crossing an intersection, and that’s about to get a whole lot worse once Toronto installs more timed pedestrian cross-walks.  These things bait drivers to jump lights in the hopes of shooting around that streetcar before the right lane gets blocked up by parked cars.

I guess all this crazy downtown-ness is why this week’s game of Manhunt is scheduled to be played tomorrow night up at Mel Lastman Square in (what was formerly known as) North York.  Yes, I know it’s north of the 401 and that might as well be Thunder Bay for downtowners, but think of it as a brief vacation from shootings, muggings and bad air.  Plus, you can enjoy the luxury of having the subway run long distances without stopping.  It’s hypnotic.

Not the kind of Manhunt you play on Shuter St.

On a completely unrelated topic, since the death of my beloved Sony digital camera I’ve been dealing with my grief by researching what I want from my next digital camera.  I finally found one that blends ease of use with some of the more complicated features of a ‘fancy pants’ camera with which I can become a more accomplished photographer.  Unfortunately, that comes with a heftier price tag than I was hoping for.  If anyone out there has a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT with a basic lens (it’s a digital SLR) that they’d like to sell for relatively cheap, they should drop me a line.  In the meantime, photos in here will be less frequent than they have been (which is still pretty infrequent).

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