Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for November, 2009

Up, Up And Away!

As you’re reading this, I’m no doubt driving on many of Ontario’s two-lane highways that lead northeast to the greatness that is the Ottawa Valley.  Sadly, I won’t be staying at the cottage as I’ve already put in a few hours of hard work cleaning it for its winter hibernation, but I need to do a bit more work finishing up the work I started earlier this fall on the foundation, and I want to get it done before the old gal is buried under a few feet of snow.

My car is weighed down by tools and winter work gear, as well as a few things lying around the house that aren’t ready to be thrown out yet, so they are destined to be banished to the cottage until future generations of my progeny decide they are finally ready for a final resting place in a dump somewhere.  Waste not, want not.

I’ll be heading back home on Friday, and in the meantime, I’ve left a few blog posts to keep you entertained.  I did this mostly out of guilt for leaving this poor blog abandoned for a week the last time I was up there.

Enjoy!

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Swedish for “I Didn’t Buy a Thing”

I dare you.  I double-dog dare you.  Go into IKEA and walk every inch of the store and don’t make a single purchase (aside from a snack and a drink, which you consume in the store).  It should take nearly three hours and I recommend going with two friends, one of whom has his mom visiting from out west to help him settle into his first home.

I know, I’m putting a lot of conditions on this particular bet, but it’s a tough one.  I know because I did just that yesterday afternoon, for the whole afternoon.  I guess that’s the price you pay when you sail on the good ship ‘Friendship’.  (Yeah, sorry about that terrible pun).

On the plus side, Landon’s new place is awesome and is just a short walk from our house.  w00t!  Sadly, he can’t read this post because I broke his internet trying to find a YouTube clip of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  Well, his loss is your gain, because here it is.  The whole point was that I was trying to make him listen to one of my favourite piano pieces, “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2“, by Franz Liszt.  It gets REALLY recognizable around the 5 minute mark.

How awesome is it that Bugs shoots a man in the opening bit?

Anyways, I’ve gone completely off-topic, so I’m off to hunt a mouse in a piano with a handgun and a mallet.

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Dangerous Dan’s VI: The Aftermath

So the sixth annual trip to Dangerous Dan’s Diner has come and gone, and all that remains is to show you the photographic evidence so you can start your week by being totally grossed out.

[Click on any image to view it full-size]

Where coronary nightmares are born

Where coronary nightmares are born

Rob prepares to destroy his arteries

Rob prepares to destroy his arteries

My cousin Rob drove all the way from Hamilton for this, which only proves that he’s completely insane.  I hope it’s not genetic.  His was the first burger to show up, and our group was all ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhs’.

What $16.50 gets you these days

What $16.50 gets you these days

Mine was second.  I got it with the works on top and the pop and fries with gravy come with the combo.  Notice the giant fried egg oozing out under the top bun.  Yeah.

John begins his quest for beefeating glory

John begins his quest for beefeating glory

The burgers are insanely difficult to eat due to the offset in the meat to bun ratio, and getting into one of these bad boys is a messy job, but it’s actually pretty tasty.

Three men and a little baby

Three men and a little baby

From right to left; Rob, me, John and Joel.  Joel just went for a standard burger, which means he should have been seated at the wuss table (pictured later), but at least he ate it really quickly.

Danielle steals a small bite

Danielle steals a small bite

Danielle acted on what everyone else was wondering; “Does the burger taste better than it looks?” and the answer was a resounding ‘yes’.  You’ll notice that I’ve got a nice big bite breaking down like chaw in my gums, and that I refused to let go of my burger for her to take a bit, fearing that if it started to fall apart, I’d lose my ability to finish eating it like a burger.

I take a slightly bigger bite

I take a slightly bigger bite

Fortunately, I kept it intact and was able to dive right back in.

John calls it quits

John calls it quits

John was quickly relegated to the ‘wuss’ table after letting his burger ‘give birth’ out of the bun into his plate.  He just couldn’t finish the ‘baby burger’ bits left over.  It was a disappointment he’ll have to live with for the next 364 days until he can man up next year and at least come close.

Jared and Matt step up to the plate

Jared and Matt step up to the plate

Latecomers Jared and Matt got stuck at the window seats.

Jareds first big bite

Jared's first big bite

Jared finished his combo in a matter of minutes, and proceeded to eat most of a dessert.  He’s a disgusting human being, but more than worthy of our respect.

Matt works from the top down...

Matt works from the top down...

This year’s burgers were far tastier and more evenly cooked than in all previous years, and the quality of the ingredients was even better…

...while his burger drips grease from the bottom down

...while his burger drips grease from the bottom down

… but they’re always greasy, which is what this trip is all about.

The wuss table

The 'wuss' table

We had some onlookers who split some fries, gulped some shakes or ate teeny burgers.  They encouraged us and gawked and gasped at how much food we put away.  Thanks for coming, guys!

The fruits of my labours

The fruits of my labours

After about 20 minutes, this is what was left in front of me.  There were some giant onion chunks that fell out on my plate that I couldn’t bring myself to eat, but they hardly count.  This was my best showing in 6 years, and it wasn’t lost on the friendly staff.

Its a smore, its a burrito, its SMORITO!

It's a smore, it's a burrito, it's SMORITO!

For my efforts, and probably to torture me a bit, I was presented with a Smorito.  It’s a deep-fried S’more topped with ice cream and whipped cream.  It was morbidly delicious, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat more than a few bites, but once everyone else had a taste, Jared went to work and obliterated it.

Thanks again to everyone for coming out, and be sure to take good care of your hearts so you can come out again in 2010.  It might not be a bad idea to do some training (I’m talking to John here).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need another nap.

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Lucky Charms

Superstition is one of those weird things where, even if you don’t believe in it, you still pay attention to it.  It’s kind of like living in Toronto and watching the Leafs regular season and hearing them talk about a run for the cup.  [Yes, I’m bitter.  My Montreal in-laws WILL NOT let me live down this season.]

So, even if you’re not superstitious, I bet you noticed that today is Friday the 13th and maybe even shuddered a bit once you noticed.  That’s how it is with me, which is really strange since I almost always randomly find money on Friday the 13th.  I guess I’m just a lucky guy.

Over the years, I’ve heard more than a few people profess to know the origins of why today is so creepy, and the stories rarely match up, so I turned to the one perfect source for this kind of thing; Wikipedia.  As it turns out, most of those origins are pure folklore and no one really knows why it’s unlucky, but the article is still a great read.

I’ll be pushing my luck a little later today with a trip back to Smoke’s Poutinerie (read about my last trip here) with some of my former work colleagues.  I’m considering it training for our trip to Dangerous Dan’s on Sunday.  Hopefully I live to tell the tale on Monday.

Stay safe out there, and avoid black cats at ALL COST!

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The DDD:VI Plugging Continues

Based on early confirmations through email and Facebook, it looks like this year’s trip to Dangerous Dan’s might pack out the restaurant, and then some.  Fear not, for it’s the kind of place where you can pack people in like cattle (ahem) and everyone still has a great time.

This is just one more plug for those of you sitting on the fence about joining us.  I’d love it if you took part, but even just ordering some fries or a normal-sized burger is okay, so long as you don’t judge those of us who will be up to our elbows in various animal parts or by-products.  That’s all we ask.

For more details and photos on the trip, check out this post from last week.

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“Judge of the Nations, Spare us Yet. Lest We Forget”

Title taken from the poem “Recessional” by Rudyard Kipling.

It has been exactly 91 years since the horror of World War I came to an end in the armistice, and so much in the world has changed, much for the better.  However, many of the lessons that lost generation wished to pass down have been hard-learned time and time again.

Take a few moments this morning to reflect on what a world at peace would mean to all of us who share it, and to spare a thought or prayer to those who gave their lives trying to secure it for us.  Better yet, take a few minutes out of your busy day to visit your local war monument or Remembrance Day service to show your support for future peace, and your respect to those who gave of themselves for something greater; that peace.  Here is the list of services in Toronto.

I hope you’ll take the time to read the following poem by Poet and British Officer Wilfred Owen entitled “Dulce et Decorum Est“.  Owen is widely regarded as one of the premier poets of the First World War who sadly did not live to be recognized.  He was killed at the Battle of the Sambre Canal in Northern France just a week before the war ended.  The poem graphically details the horrors of a German gas attack that Owen experienced first-hand, and strips away the myth that to die in battle is a glorious end to any life.

Dulce et Decroum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori
*.

*From an ode by the ancient poet Horace, this line translates to “It is sweet and right to die for one’s country” and was used widely in recruitment efforts in the Empire to recruit young men.

For those who came home…

… and for those who did not…

… you will be remembered.

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A Day at the Fair

On Sunday, Danielle and I headed down to the exhibition grounds to check out an awesome annual Toronto tradition, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, which is not all animals in stalls and giant vegetables (although there are lots of both on hand).

First off, the farm animals are worth seeing, but it would be nice if the cattle judging competitions came with instructions so those of us who pretend to know about all things ‘country’ can follow along.  Second, highland cattle are really short, but they look plenty awesome.  Third, petting zoos where you can’t physically mingle with the animals are boring, because the only animals brazen enough to walk near the fences are goats, and petting goats gets old FAST.

Once the farm animals were out of the way, we checked out the SuperDogs, which were extra super on Sunday as Rick Mercer was there taping a segment of the Rick Mercer Report.  If you’re into dogs doing crazy things, then this is worth the $18 admission to the fair that gets you in here free.

Lastly, there are acres of stands selling all manner of wares, preserves and various edibles and inedibles.  We scored some organic dog wax for Mojo’s padded feet this winter, some homemade clover honey, some free walking sticks and a really nice and affordable leather belt.  We also ate a bunch of fudge, some serious cracker and jam samples, perogies and other various free bits and bites.

So, in summary, go to the fair and check out the animals, then buy up a bunch of homemade jams and spreads, but only after eating as many freebies as you can first.  Don’t forget to buy some chotckies and homespun gee-gaws for Christmas presents and then wander home with sore feet and a bag full of goodies.  And fudge, lots of fudge.  Good luck.

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A Giant Egg That Joel Won’t Eat

On Friday night, I was finally able to cash on Danielle’s present from our second wedding anniversary back in mid-October and we headed down to the docklands to witness first-hand the spectacle of Cirque de Soleil‘s latest creation, OVO.  If you’re not at least familiar with Cirque de Soleil, then you’ve either been living under a rock for the last decade or been a guest in a Turkish prison.  These guys are everywhere now, and I mean EVERYWHERE.  For example, their founder just took a trip into space, for goodness’ sake.

The trick to a Cirque de Soleil show is that they take the acrobatics and theatrics of the circus known and loved by all since P.T. Barnum first noticed the frequent birthrate of suckers, and put them to a storyline that translates to all languages and cultures.  Throw in some amazing music and stunning costumes and you’ve got yourself a hit show.

This show was no different.  Set in the world of insects, a young bug on a pilgrimage with a giant egg finds unlikely love in the midst of trapeze-crazy beetles, trampoline-loving grasshoppers and body-bending bugs of all shapes and sizes.  There’s a giant booty-shaking worm in there to keep things light-hearted.

Audience participation was all part of the show and we were encouraged to laugh, clap and provide sound effects at various points, with a few lucky audience members pulled in for some comic relief.  These people are the very definition of showmen.

My only previous experience with Cirque de Soleil was seeing one of their films in IMAX a few years ago, and it was breathtaking.  I’ve also seen a few documentaries about their schools and training as well as a few of their television specials, but nothing prepared me for the live spectacle.

The big-t0p tent where it all happens (they call it the ‘Chapiteau’) is spacious with seating for a few thousand, but they really cram you in, so there isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Since most of the action is happening well above seat-level, you can catch every nuance and movement.  One drawback is that you leave with ‘fireworks neck’ from staring up in the air for long periods of time, which is a small price to pay for such a great show.

My only gripe was the parking nightmare in the lot off Commissioner’s Drive at the end of the show, which is hardly the fault of the Cirque.

Ovo is finished here in Toronto, but will be in London on November 12, Montreal on December 18, Quebec City on January 5th and Chicoutimi January 13 to 17.  There are dates all over the US as well.  You can check out the touring schedule here.

It’s well worth the ticket price for such a great show, so check them out.

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