Year End Stats 2006
Movies Seen In Theatre: 39 (down from 40)
Dang, I was really hoping to see more movies this year… even with a concentrated 13-movie dose in 6 days (during the Toronto After Dark Film Fest), I still didn’t surpass last year’s stat. There were so many movies I wanted to see this year too. Alas, the trade-off was, you know, getting married, establishing a family, moving, travelling etc. I guess that’s acceptable (heh).
Comic Book Floppies purchased: 677 (up from 402)
Holy crow, what a jump. This can be easily chalked up to increasing my purchasing power as I now receive a discount at my comics shop while also getting things at US cover. Not only that but for over a month I had credit at the store (from working a con for trade) so that also helped… also I went a little mad at the convention and bought nearly 200 books for about $120 (set runs). Plus I had a decent chunk of freebies passed along to me (and some of what I counted Aden bought). Excuses, excuses.
Trade Paperbacks/Graphic Novels purchased: 79 (up from 76)
lots of indie graphic novels purchased and received and enjoyed this year, holding pretty steady from last year…
DVDs (movies) rented, borrowed or purchased: 24 (down from 59)
ugh, this is mostly due to having no decent DVD shop around the apartment or house (nor actually taking much initiative to find one). About 1/4 of these were rented or borrowed, the rest purchased, most of which I probably could have done without.
Television on DVD rented or purchased: 23 (down from 36)
While I certainly didn’t run out of things to buy (as I had predicted earlier in the year) but there weren’t nearly as many as the year before. Hopefully that holds true for 2008 when I will not be buying, well, any.
Books purchased or borrowed (half read): 10 (down from 18)
Damn. I need to read more. Books that is. This is pathetic.
Magazines purchased: 1 (up from 0)
The internet has most magazine info covered… magazines are pretty redundant in this day and age
CDs purchased: 28 (down from 50)
I knew my music purchasing would be down this year as I decided to let my musical diligence lapse. I just don’t care like I used to. I really don’t have time to.
Live (concert/musical/performance): 2 (down from 8)
Theatre/Dance attended: 1 (down from 2)
And it was crrrrap!
Action Figures purchased: 13 (up from 6)
Hrm. It’s not very much compared to what I *could* have bought…
Statues purchased: 2
I’ve bought maybe 4 in my life, so this is pretty huge.
Year End Stats 2006
Blonde Redhead: 23
This was recommended to me by the owner of Penguin Music as I was touring through the store one day. I’ve always liked BR, since I first heard them on Brave New Waves a decade ago, and I have had a live concert CBC recorded in ‘05 (?) on my iPod for some time, but I’d never bought an album. The title track, “23″, had come my way via music bloggers, and on the strength of that song alone I succumbed to the record store owner’s sales pitch. I have to say it’s a good album, but not as pulsating or driven as the opening track would have you suspect. I find Kazu Makino’s hushed, Swedish-popstar-style vocals to be overwhelmingly twee at times though, and that sensation only seems unfortunately to grow the more I listen to the album. The lyrics are always interesting, the epic rhythm and atmospheric guitars almost always generate something aurally interesting, but the sound doesn’t retain it’s initial mystery very well. The switchoff on vocals to one of the Pace bros. is welcomed and needed, but I still find it unusual the rarity of Pace and Makino performing vocally together.
Electronica wunderkind Rjyan Kidwell (now all grown up) has abandoned his curious (and not altogether unpleasant) fixation with rapping and turned his complete focus back onto his computers and sound collages. Sketchi is utterly downtempo, and even moreso in the skein of ambient rather that driven electronic music, looking yonder The Orb’s way, with eight tracks each clocking a minimum of six minutes. The standout is “Oregon Ridge”, highlighting a global fusion sound building into some crunchy, fuzzed-out electro. It’s not nearly as immediate as his previous electronic works, but is another flex of Cex’s composition muscles, playing with his sounds and adeptly fidgeting with as many different genres of computer-centric music. A great late-late night wind-down or atmospheric while-you-work record.
The Rapture: Pieces of the People We Love
Perhaps a sister band to !!!, the Rapture is intent on creating funky, danceable indie-rock tracks. Swirling 70’s synths, heavy bass grooves and, yes, more cowbell/hand claps/woodblocks, accompany a lot of hooked-in choruses and chants, screaming guitars and pounding kick drums, all of which combine to create a quite infectious listening, even if it’s actually a little forgettable. Although I’ve listened and enjoyed the album numerous times over, it’s rare that the funked-out tracks permeate my subconscious in any manner and I rarely find myself humming or repeating a refrain at any point, even though you’d think with the hooks of “Get Myself Into It” or “Whoo! Alright- Yeah…Uh Huh” would have me humming all day. There is some twinges of The Cure (”Calling Me”), Happy Mondays (”Down For So Long”) and even the Thrill Kill Kult (”First Gear”) throughout which, although appealing, I’ve yet to decide is really a positive thing or not. I can recommend the album, but for a good time only.
Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica
A fortunate finding at the now lamented Sam The Record Man: all Modest Mouse albums for $9.99. Having quite fondly encountered the Mouse in 2004 with “Good News For People Who Love Bad News” (which still plays quite nicely 3 years later) I had been contemplating acquiring more of their back catalogue, but just never got around to it, and when the new album came out I was in a music acquisition lull. Too often I wind up buying and really enjoying an album from an artist only to find past material not nearly as entertaining or new material to be too far deviated from what I enjoyed about them. With Modest Mouse, however, I’m finding them to be incredibly consistent in both their ability to maintain an audio aesthetic but also sweeping broadly through different experimental styles, with their older album (”The Moon…”) as well as their latest (”We Were Dead…”). I’m a fan.
The Moon & Antarctica - 4/5
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank” - 4.5/5
Sloan: Never Hear The End Of It
This is the album Sloan fans have been waiting for since Navy Blues nearly a decade before. For all their dips into era-centric concept records, no matter how focussed or meandering, they seemed like a lost entity for three albums. I can’t say this a return to form, because it’s a definite step forward rather than back for them, but what it is, actually, is their first capitalization on the expectation fans have from a Sloan record. In fact, they not only meet expectations, but exceed them. 30 songs on one CD pushed to its very limit, the tracks are generally about 2 minutes in length, sometimes less, sometimes more, but the flow I think is the key. What Sloan have done is provided us with an album, not a collection of singles, something I’m not sure they’ve ever really done before. While maybe two of the tracks stand out awkwardly, and another two or three stand out due to sheer energy, the bulk of the album falls in line, one song segueing itself into another, into another, into another. The songs all are quintessentially Sloan, with an assortment of love songs, party jams, and contemplation songs with great harmonies, catchy hooks and a good, upbeat feeling overall. Though few of these songs can hope to match the great Sloan tracks released over the past 15 years, this may very well be their tightest and best album yet.
Or at least that’s what I told myself. With my sister visiting on December 24th I relaxed my stance on imbibing libations… about a dozen times I’d say. A bartender’s cheat sheet as my guide I was mixing an assortment of coctails for myself, learning about the proper name for things and making up my own… a “Purple Jesus” is grape juice and vodka, while a “Cape Cod” is cranberry juice an vodka. So using a cran-grape juice I created the Jesus’ Codpiece. Sacrilicious.
Of course more than just liquor ingestion broke the moratorium… some leftover dip called for rippled potato chips (the first in 2 months) and of course chocolates. Christmas Day aside from some chocolate mints and chocolate covered peanuts, I managed to behave myself, but with another family get-together, that’s certainly not going to last… mtk.
I’ve been pretty restrained, overall, but a couple days of pressure and stress and general funlessness at work have driven me back to the bottle (and the crisps… which wasn’t helped by the in-laws giving us a giant bag of leftover Halloween chips). True to form, breaking the moratorium only leads to more breaks in the moratorium. All you need to do is fall of the wagon once before you find it easier and easier to justify jumping off the wagon (hey, you can always catch back up to it again, can’t ya?).
Anyway, I’m giving myself a few more days (namely three) to get it out of my system and be a bit more resolved in ‘08.
My first pair of Blundstones, which I’ve had since early 2002, kicked the inside of the (waste) bucket today. They’ve been underperforming for some time (making funny squishy sounds and not really keeping the water out), and the leather around the toe had turned from black-as-my-Christmas-spirit to a tarnished-penny-green colour. They were still ungodly comfortable (the worst of buzz words from “What Not To Wear”) despite their faults, but I knew they were done for some time, and had been contemplating a new pair for some time (I did buy a new pair of wedge-toes about 2 years ago, but they’ve just never fit properly on one foot (the leather just too tight over the arch, and it’s yet to stretch out, and they’re a little too nice for everyday rugged wear). Some people like sneakers, me, I like my Bluntys… they served me well. But it was today, flipping them over to take a good look at the soles for the first time in ages, only to notice sections of the sole completely worn away… as in not even there. Squish, Squish, Squish. I could no longer in good conscience keep these fading boots on life support anymore. I pulled the plug and binned them with a single tear shed for dramatic effect.
Let’s hope the wife got the numerous hints about what I be really wanting for Christmastime. There will be no replacing Bluntys, except that’s exactly what I’ll be doing, because they’re shoes. They don’t have feelings, nor can they reciprocate any emotion projected onto them. I’ve let them go, time for new ones.
As you may or may not know, Aden and I have been shooting for Maxed Out this week, last Saturday (during the on-set of the snowstorm) all day (and half eve) in the ol’ NoYo homestead, a full-day shoot downtown and last night for a couple hours in studio. As I stated before, there’s a lot of “magic of television” involved in making any reality and this show is no different. I know, and you know, that they’re not going to spend weeks following us around awaiting TV-ready opportunities to arise, so we’ve distilled down our daily routine and our favourite activities and common occurrences into two full-day shoots. We’ll let you wait and see to see what we actually did.
I found the two day shoots quite enjoyable (if Saturday a tad long), and the crew (Karen, Brian, Adam, Mike, Peter and all the rest) have been good fun and very easy to be around. While some might think the cameras to be obtrusive or difficult to deal with, they haven’t really bothered me at all. I might not be an utterly natural camera presence but I do feel that I’m not overly overwhelmed by the camera (I’ve done interviews for City TV and Space, amongst other camera-on-the-street things before and they’ve been nerve-wracking and probably useless, left on the proverbial cutting room floor). I certainly have no problem talking about myself, my life, etc., whether I do so eloquently or not, I can’t really say. Hopefully it all gets spliced together and I don’t look like a total geekdom-obsessed, financially-irresponsible knob (even if I am a little bit). But, then, I know it can be cut together in a number of different ways to make for, well, entertaining television, and I resigned myself to that fact from day one, so I’m fine with it. I think Aden’s a little worried that I’m going to be made out to look worse than I actually am in terms of my financial (ir)responsibility, but for all my financial awareness of late there’s a bed of truth to that characterization, which I fully admit.
Last night we had our “map and plan” (or, to put it in Idol terms, results night), where Alison (your host and mine) gives us the results of her full goings-over of three-months of our financial paperwork. And, really, wow. If you’ve never taken the initiative to break your spending down into categories and examine your spending habits, do it. Take two or three months of bank statements, bills, and anything else that will tell you where your money went and see where it’s all going, how much is going out, and how much you’re actually bringing in. Aden and I were shocked at nearly every number presented to us, even a little skeptical (calling them “TV numbers” once or twice in post-shoot conversation).
After our shoot we heatedly discussed and justified the number and realized that the 3-months of statements, etc that we provided to the show (all, relating to our immediate post-marriage period) isn’t exactly the best representation of our regular life together, as additional money came in for the wedding, and we spent a lot of money on moving expenses, including our awesome wall of shelving and an armoire for the bedroom which were needed to make the space suitable for us, and we had a couple of plane trips to account for. Then again, we’ve only been together 4 months and there really is no “best representation” to look at… as far as Alison is concerned, those three months represent how we’re going to live out the rest of our lives if we don’t do something about it….
Anyway, we did bandy a lot of money between ourselves in that time (which I can see would be very difficult to understand from an outside perspective), but even still the numbers that we were disbelieving, upon self-examination, turned out to be much closer to fact than we were initially willing to admit, at least in the context of that 3-month period. If anything, the results we were given put us into mind to do our own examination, and in the end, that’s what being on the show is all about… coming to grips with our finances, and that’s the ultimate reward of this. Alison has put into light our shortcomings in terms of how we deal with our money (or, better yet, how we ignore it), and has charged us with the task of addressing it. Things like taking a look at our RRSPs and understanding what we’re investing in and how we’re investing is something we both have been ignoring. Understanding our collections, and cataloging it has been fast tracked from “sometime next year” to, erm, now-ish, and reigning in our spending will begin Monday (although, we’ve already been striving to do that).
We’ve been given a plan, a spending plan, and it’s doable, but not immediately so (at least not in full). Most everything, in terms of reducing spending, limiting spending on certain items and examining how to recoup monies from our deadweight collection is all acceptable. We’ve been asked to shift my 1-year debt pay-off (still on target) to a 9-month debt payoff, and in order to do that we would need to combine our incomes and switch our thinking from her money/my money to “our” money. Is it “our debt”? Erm, yes, I guess. But it’s still hard not to consider it my debt. Aden had gotten rid of her debt before I met her, so saddling her with paying off my debt isn’t something I feel comfortable doing… What we’ve been asked to do, essentially, is put my ENTIRE net income onto my debt every month for the next 9 months, leaving Aden to pay for everything else and that’s something I don’t think we’re ready to do, especially given how stressful being a 1-income family had proven to be for her in the past. Maybe once I get past the credit card hurdle (both will be paid off in 4 months regardless of whether I follow my plan or Alison’s plan), then Aden and I will examine the situation, our immediate goals, and our finances and see whether it’s time to see both our incomes as one income and progress from there.
You get these people who are resistant to “the plan” on these debt management shows, and you shout at them to “just do it, don’t argue” but actually being in the center of it, I understand how difficult it is, especially given the habits we have. Aden and I are a young couple, in that we’ve only been married for 4 months (in two days) and we’re still working on the idea of combining our lives. It’s been relatively seamless in many respects, but it’s still difficult in some, and we’re working on it, but we need time, and a one-month (three week, actually) time frame just isn’t enough time to come to grips with it.
That said, I’m certainly grateful for all the work, thought and planning Alison and crew have put into what we need to do for our situation, and we will be implementing most of it immediately, and perhaps all of it at some point down the road.
It’s been over 2 years since I last regularly wrote about music on this sidebar, part disillusionment with live gigging, and part just apathy at the end of last year, beginning of this year about music in general. It’s taken a heavy investment in the CBC Radio 3 podcasts to pull me out of my music slumber, but even then I’m nowhere near as invested in music as I was 3 years prior, but my interest in Canadian musicians is at an all time high, I’d say.
Anyway, It’s The Music was my way of recapping my musical investment in ‘05, and it’s back again in ‘07. Now, honestly, I don’t like writing about music very much anymore, so these will be blunt and laden with my own personal biases, so fair warning.
Dave Gorman’s Genius
The man who search the world for 52 other namesakes on a bet and became addicted to tracking down Googlewhacks takes a breather from time-zone hopping and instead takes on the role of host of this non-gameshow wherein people bring their ingenious ideas to a panel (usually Dave and one guest of some repute) where they proceed to either praise, deconstruct, or completely annihilate it. Like a low-stakes version of the Dragon’s Den meets the anti-quiz show of QI, it’s charming and entertaining if somewhat forgettable.
The Bicycles: The Good The Bad and The Cuddly
I bought this at the request of a good friend and decided to thriftily rip the disc before I passed it along. To be honest, I’ve barely given it a listen. I can’t even give it an out-of-five ranking, that’s how unfamiliar I am with it.
!!! : Myth Takes
Without the endlessly plodding three tracks of “Shit, Scheisse, Merde”, !!!’s previous album would have been a much stronger album, but still probably a half dozen tracks too long. I saw !!! as, really, a singles-only band, the songs on their debut just too long to generate any real flow from one track to the next. But for whatever faults they may have had, the dance-pop-punk returned this past January with an honest-to-gosh album that scaled back in duration, tightened up the beats, grooves and switch-ups, infused with energy and, best of all, has held up over nearly a year of repeated listening with much enjoyment still readily derived.
Holy Fuck: S/T, Holy Fuck: EP, Holy Fuck: LP
My favourite discovery this year, Holy Fuck is a collection of musicians from other bands come together to make some of the best electronica/dance music of the past decade. Deliciously fuzzed out, the group take as many different found objects that can produce sounds and patch them into some archaic looking mixers and amps and get to work. Armed with live drums and guitars along with their crazy Frankenstein-patchwork of technology new and old, they can assault, inspire and sedate with equal measure. While some songs have hooks that just get your head and body moving, there are some that just flutter about your ear canal, pleasuring your eardrum and resonating to your brain. If I have one problem with Holy Fuck it’s that I had already bought their independently released self-titled EP, all but one songs which were transferred over to the LP. F***! My advice, get one or the other, but not both.
De La Soul: Impossible Mission TV Series Pt. 1
Released in Europe about 6 weeks before North America (or else De La’s independent distribution channels just took their time), this is a real treat for De La Soul fans who have suffered through some rather lackluster conceptual albums over the years. While their last effort, the Grind Date, was a decent record, it’s somewhat forgettable in De La’s oeuvre (where their first two album still shine as twin towers of brilliance in the hip hop world). “Impossible Mission” is a departure from the trio of Pos, Dave and Maceo, playing like a mixtape rather than a proper album. The tracks are all over the map, but by staying below the radar of corporate-owned music, they are able to return to a more sampleadelic formula, poaching loops from their record collections and devising pleasurable beats that aren’t a crunk assault delivering rhymes with flow and harmony, not to mention a message, which most mainstream rappers these days just don’t understand. The mixtape takes a look back at some cutting-room-floor tracks from their early years which sound out of sorts amidst today’s material, and yet perfectly in place with the mixtape format. It’s a great album, smooth and head nodding, which, although I’m a huge fan, surprised me.
w. Mark Protosevich & Akiva Goldsman, d. Francis Lawrence. I Am Legend has been years in the making, which is kind of funny, considering the source material (a novella by Richard Matheson of the same name) provided inspiration for the Chuck Heston classic, The Omega Man and the equally classic Vincent Price vehicle, The Last Man On Earth (and also a Spanish interpretation). The story was supposed to film with a pre-Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger in the lead role, but that was almost a decade ago when that idea was swirling around, and I shudder a little bit at the though of spending an hour and a half with Ah-nuld talking to himself.
Amalgamating the Cheston film and Matheson’s novel as well as its own fresh little tweaks, the story of I Am Legend finds a solitary man in a desolate New York three years after a man-made contagion (originally intended as a cure for cancer) practically exterminated all of humanity, turning rare survivors into mutated zombies. Even rarer were those immune from the virus, and rarer still those who survive in spite of the creatures.
Been a little less than diligent in sticking to my moratorium over the past few weeks.
The first and second breaks occurred during our work’s year-end party. Dressed and dapper, we entered the ballroom and were immediately greeted with a tray containing flutes filled with wine. I picked up a white wine - Aden a red - took a sip and smiled. The hors’douvres were circulating and there was a grumble in my belly. I watched as one tray approached an had to do a double take when I looked down upon it… Pogos? Pogos! I took one without hesitation and giggled incessantly at the dichotomy of class and carnival… but then, it *was* a carnival theme (other appetizers circulating were french fries, nachos and mini hamburgers). Now, you might be wondering where processed-pork-byproduct-in-a-tube-shape covered in deep-fried cornmeal sits on the moratorium list. Well, I discovered, ever so sadly, that Pogos are loaded with the trans fats, so yeah, guess they’re on the list now too.
I also had a few drinks other than wine during the evening. I’m inclined to say free drinks don’t count, but even free counts.
I had a tiny bag of Sun Chips with my sub on Saturday. I just ate an orange loaf that had chocolate chips. I also had french fries during filming today (actually *for* filming). I’ve been bad.
Added to the moratorium:
Pre-packaged mac and cheese
I was planning on ending 2007 with a bang, sending it off on a dramatic and glorious orgy of spending, loading myself up with consumables for 2008. Oh, how I wanted to drop hundreds - perhaps thousands - on comics, DVDs, music, etc., just to overwhelm myself with so much to intake that I wouldn’t really miss spending money so much. There are literally hundreds of graphic novels, trade paperbacks and comics for me to purchase (and that I’d be quite happy purchasing), there are dozens upon dozens of DVDs I don’t necessarily need, but oh do I want. There’s a whole world of music I love that I don’t have and the temptation to pad out my collection (even with just digitally obtaining copies) is somewhat hard to resist. And yet resist I must.
If I succumb to my impulses, I won’t stop until I’ve dug myself deeper and deeper into the hole I’m striving to find my way out of, and, despite what Homer Simpson might suggest, you can’t dig your way out of a hole. I’ve done it before, you know… abandoned all common sense and just blown a whole chunck of my “available credit” on frivolity, knowing full well the consequences of my actions (actually, not realizing that 6 years later I’d be stuck in the same rut, I guess that’s not true).
So I’m eyeing up Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited, I’ve looked at a Netflix-like subscription, rattling in my brain is contemplation about other such expenses that aren’t the same style of consuming I’ve come to know, but nonetheless still expenses of the sort I’m trying to prohibit for Buy Nothing Year. I’m a tricky bastard, even when it comes to skirting around my own set-ups and scenarios.
But I can’t.
I just can’t swing it.
And I shouldn’t try.
Put it right out of my mind.
Just say no.
I’ve got to get used to that at some point.
Working in downtown Toronto provides lunch options a-plenty, and working in the same building as my new bride allows us the enviable (well, enviable depending on how much you enjoy spending time with your wife, but I love it so, yes, I say enviable) capability to eat lunch together. These are the places we routinely frequented and some we didn’t exactly frequent, and others which just don’t make the cut (of course this was all before we realized we were spending $100 a week on eating lunch):
Fusaro’s Kitchen: long line-ups are expected from noon to about 1:30, but in under 20 minutes you’ve usually paid for and received your food. Have an alternative place ready to take with your take-out, especially once the patio is closed as there aren’t many chairs and tables inside to eat-in. The cuisine is extra-Italian and well worth the extra buck or two. Daily sandwich and pasta and meat specials are on the board with all the regular favourites available. I’ve crafted my own “Graig special” over the past four years, which is a meatball and an arancini (breaded rice ball with mozzarella in the centre) for $5.50. The gnocci is always a good alternate.
Famous BBQ Express: No, I don’t really know where the “Famous” part of it came from but this place is indeed great, with David the owner being one of the most genuinely pleasant chaps you could meet, calling every male customer “brother” like a much less annoying Hulk Hogan. The menu has Korean inspirations (bulgogi is a particularly tasty option) and our favourite, the steak sandwich is crave-inducingly fabulous. Their Canadian burger special is awesome when they have it, and their fries are particularly tasty. Short line-ups are common and take-out is generally your best option with only a half doze tables kicking around.
The Sandwich Box: a peculiar surprise when it first arrived, both a craft-yourself salad bar and sandwich bar with daily soup specials. This was Toronto’s first real taste of gourmet sandwiches, with over a dozen breads to choose from and your choice of 8 or 9 spreads, cheeses and meat and veggie options. The salads are way too expensive, but the sandwiches are always worth it. The line-ups have dissipated over the past few months, somewhat inexplicably, and there’s a little more chaos behind the counter these days, but it still tastes the same. I’m enjoying the fresh-made juice mixes and lemonades as of late.
Fox and the Fiddle. Ever since the Bishop and the Belcher moved to Church and Bloor, the Fox has become our “beer lunch” joint of preference. Above average pub food with a few different options. The crispy chicken sandwich coated in (thankfully mild) hot sauce was distasteful at first but now one of my favourites (accompanied with excellent wedge fries). The beef dip sandwich is a favourite amongst the gang I go with (they declare it one of the best in the city) and other selections have all proved tasty eating. Not an hour lunch place, though.. at best an hour and a half.
Swatow: Many call this the best Chinese food in Toronto, and they might be right. Served fast and tasty, you may have to wait 20 minutes for a table during the lunch rush but when you want the good stuff, this is the good stuff. My palette for Chinese is still developing so I still routinely partake in the gwilo-expected rice dishes. The General Tso is my favourite in the city, and Aden loves the black bean beef. Their crispy fried noodles are nice and I’ve yet to try it, but the Fuk-kin fried rice makes me giggle every time I read the menu (it’s a mix of peas, shrimp, crab, scallop, chicken and fried egg apparently).
The Ave (Avenue Diner): A homecookery of the European sort, Aden and I go to the Ave with “the boys” to talk hockey over smoked meat, ribs, burgers or whatever the special of the day is. Sometimes soup is involved, sometimes fries, but regardless there’s always more than enough no-frills, no-nonsense belly-filler. The place is tiny, with three booths and a sit-down stools, but usually the line-up is there for the take-out. Cost is usually about $6-$8 per meal and usually in and out within 40 minutes.
Java Hut: Aden and I would hit here when we had the craving for breakfast for lunch. Sometime during the two years we’ve been eating at this joint the pancake plate went from three pancakes to two, but, two panckakes, two eggs (or bacon or sausage or ham) and fruit salad all come for about $5. They have a great selection of teas (an utterly potent ginger tea), and probably coffee too (but don’t really know). An atypical selection of thai food also adorns the menu alongside schnitzles and sandwiches… all better than you’d expect for the price. There’s always room to sit (the patio fills up in the summer though), and service is average speed, getting in and out in under an hour.
The Secret of Asia - $7 thai plate with spring roll or soup starter. Good food, rarely busy, but not exceptionally expedient.
Ackee Tree - Jamaican jerk chicken, roti, and other spicy assortments. Tasty, but about $10 for takeout (discount for bringing your own container)
Burrito Boys - Always a line-up, but always worth it. A small should fill up the largest of appetites, a large means you won’t eat dinner until much, much later. Try the halibut accompanied by with a Jumex Strawberry juice for dessert.
Mama’s Pizza - they bake cheese into the crust… that’s their secret. Good thin-crust slices, but only if they leave it in the oven long enough to melt the cheese again.
Ghandi’s - don’t even bother with mild-medium-hot mentioned on your order, this is one spicy roti.
Trimurtri - in the Queen Street Indian restaurant strip, Trimurtri is my fave. It’s excellent indian buffet for less than $10.
Pizzaiolo - a thicker crust pizza with a great flavour. The Godfather deep-dish, stacked with meat is the best belly filler. Slice and a drink $5 plus tax.
New York Subway - not like the usual Subway franchise (one right beside it) but an excellent fusion of middle eastern cuisine and traditional sub/wrap fare. Not cheap, but about as much as a typical sub, so not so pricey either. I burned myself out on these by eating one per week for a year. Pace yourself
The Train Place (Xe Lua) - blunt service made up for by cheap, tasty and quick food.
HoSu - Korean and Japanses fusion. Decent but overrated.
East - overpriced Asian. Nice atmosphere, some interesting coctails, but the food is mediocre for the cost.
Le Gourmand - upscale cafeteria food. Interesting, perhaps good even, but not that good.
I had to fly back to Thunder Bay for a funeral this weekend. It was, all things considered, a great weekend, so full of family and support and love, it was just the circumstances surrounding it weren’t so wonderful. There were tears of sadness, tears of love and warmth, and tears of laughter, and I wouldn’t have missed any of it.
Of course, with death as unexpected as it is, so too comes unexpected expenses. The plane ticket was reasonable enough (my sister alerting me to a seat sale), so it won’t be affecting my debt management too much (I can amortize it over the next few months easily). The thing about it was I wasn’t sure whether they needed to see my credit card or not when I checked in, so back into the wallet it went. Turns out they didn’t need to see it, but there it was… that free money…
I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but the fact that I haven’t been keeping my credit cards in my wallet has meant that I really haven’t been using them which also means I’ve not been buying things I really don’t need or can’t afford at the time. To prove this point, well, I bought stuff, on credit card, all things I didn’t need. Wine. Cheese. Persians. Comics.
Oh, I didn’t buy much of each, and I think the total for all of this was about $50, but to be honest, it was $50 I didn’t have at the time and $50 I shouldn’t have spent. Oh, for sure, it was $50 enjoyed, but it’s things like this that a) tell me I have an impulse control problem and b) tell me I should just cut the damn things up.
I’m working on “a”, but I can tell you now, “b” isn’t going to happen.
Not so wholesome anymore, are ya Landon?
(taken in Virgin Megastore, London, November 2006)
You know, when I was a kid I always wished my lightsabre had a spring activated blade… but apparently it’s lame now.
(taken in the Superstore, Toronto, November 2007)
Huh… I had a thought yesterday that maybe I should, you know, commit to (re)consuming something every day in 2008 for Buy Nothing Year… and then blog about it. Think about it, 365 reviews of things, one per day. It won’t even come close to covering everything I own, but I think if I read a comic or graphic novel one day, I can watch a dvd the next and listen to a cd while working and quite easily be able to handle it all. Okay, not easily, but manageably. Of course, any re-reviews of comics would likely get uploaded to RackRaids under the as-yet-unused banner of “Backtracks” (I actually had a massive review written for the complete Atari Force series, but lost it due to inanity on my part, and am, yes, still pissed about it to this day).
We’ll see how this actually works out. Nothing to say I can’t pre-blog a bunch of it, huh?
Maybe it’s time to try to get that pre-blogged “scheduled” feature working in Movable Type….
The paperwork has been handed over (both the release forms and our financial data) to the producer, the shooting schedule has been proposed, and now we’re officially participants on Maxed Out.
We met with producer Karen last night to hammer out the details, and I finally came to the realization that we’re going on a TV program that, in a sense, is beyond our control, rather than shooting “The Aden and Graig Kent Show”. It’s going to be helpful for us, and for others, of that much I’m sure. The reason we came to the show, and the direction the production staff is taking it are pretty much in sync, which is pretty cool, I’d say. We’re not in a debilitating amount of debt, so our angle is different from most who would approach the show, and we’re quite happy that they’re willing and excited to do that.
I’m sure everyone knows that reality TV is only real to a point, and there’s nothing different with this show. Our daily life will be distilled down to something broadcastable in a 22-25 minute time frame, as well as working within the context of the show’s format. For sure there will be some magic of television going on (like if they shoot us getting up in the morning, I’m going to be wearing, well, more than my usual nothing, that’s for sure), but it’s all for the purpose of getting the sense of what we do and how we spend our money. It’s not like they’re going to follow us around for months on end to get certain shots, but in the end, everything that will wind up on television will be a representation of our life in some respect or another. I’m quite looking forward to it.
The logistics are a bit more of a hassle. We’re shooting around Christmas (schedule-wise, yes, but also for the sake of keeping the show timeless, in a sense, they might try to avoid any prominent examples of Christmas in the background), and also some busy times of the year at work, which is making the logistics of it all challenging, but not something we can’t overcome, and they’re being incredibly flexible in doing so.
The people from the show we’ve met so far have been great - their excitement and interest has been a real boon to making us both feel more comfortable about doing the show, as has their reassurance of what the focus is. We hope we’re an entertaining couple to watch, but we also hope our story is educational to people in similar situations.
In the end, what will we get out of it? Hopefully the advice we were seeking when we approached the show, and they seem quite committed to providing us with a lot of that. If nothing else, it’s going to be a fun experience which Aden and I will be able to smile about for years to come. And you never know… I might be awesome on camera and get my own show about comic books (ha!).
Been doing my budgeting and, yup, I’m out of money, which means extra-frivolous expenses like action figures are right out. It’s really too bad because the second series of Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier Action Figures is coming outnext week and they look swee-ee-eet.
But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of action figures I’ll lamentably be excluding from my collection in ‘08. There’s also the New Gods line in April (which is the closest I’ve ever seen Kirby’s art so accurately replicated in 3-D… I’m not even a New Gods fan, but my desire to have these is a testament to how innovative still Kirby’s artistic and design aesthetic remains).
As noted at the San Diego Comic Con, Hasbro has licensed the entire DC Universe for a new line of collectible figures, DC Universe Classics, which will start appearing on the shelves the first week of January (bastards). The big deal about this is they have the legendary figure sculptors The Four Horsemen working on designs (giving the figures all uniformity in style and proportions) and they will all be quite articulated. The DC Direct line of figures have been good for capturing an artist’s style, like Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Kirby, etc, but when a Deadshot figure belongs to a Michael Turner line, he doesn’t look very good next to a George Perez inspired Cyborg. A lot of the DC Direct figures, like the Justice Society line-up, have been ugly or awkward, with some of the most inane articulation (7 points, two of them ankles? WTF?), but with the Hasbro line, everything will be integrated visually and nicely posable. Oh, and each wave of releases will have a collect-a-figure, which the Marvel Legends series popularized, where you get a component of another figure with each figure in the line, to assemble a new one. Wave 1: a sweet-looking Metamorpho. Wave 2: Gorilla Grodd.
Toy announcements tend to come far in advance as prototypes are drummed up quite some time before they’re ready for market, so we often can see figures lined up 6 (or more) months ahead of scheduled release… so expect a few more of these reports, especially since DC Classics are slated for 1 wave every quarter. Oy.
Well, I majorly messed up my December budget, not accounting for a few things, and generally getting turned around about at what point my X-Mas money was coming into play. Thankfully, my lovely wife can cover the rent until next pay at which point I can close the gaps. Of course, with the year winding down and BNY looming, I’m trying to stock up on those things I can’t buy, but, as it turns out, I can’t afford them, so basically, I’m screwed. Certain planned purchases of DVDs, CDs and graphic novels are out of the question if I’m going to stick to my budget … and stick to my budget I shall as closely as possible.
Looks like I’m not going to be buying many Christmas presents this year either, so to friends, expect some warm season’s greetings but that’s about it. The screws are officially tightening. Putting the line of credit and credit(debt) cards away in a separate location from my wallet has proved beneficial towards not using them (although on-line is a different story).
Then there’s the non-fact that I may have to do an emergency jaunt to TBay (for reasons explained on the original blog that’s, well, going to take a meaty bite into my early paydown procedures. It’s just another of those un-comforts of the situation, alas.
I was finally sorting out my 18 month pile/drawer of bank statements and bills last night, although some gaps have appeared in my records, everything seems to be in order. Of course, tearing open and going through all these for the first time in over a year, one gets to see how the banks and corporations like to arbitrarily take advantage of obscure contractual clauses to change the terms and services of their agreements, usually screwing the customer out of more money in the process… Ugh.
Oh, and the show is a-go. Meeting with the Producer tonight. Wow.
I’ve spent dozens of man hours (not all my own, thanks Toast) trying to migrate the RackRaids domain, data, and wordpress application to a new server. It’s not been a smooth ride, but the site is up and running, the back-end is *mostly* working (with one exception, better than before) and overall I’m almost at peace with it.
Now the hard part begins. We’re looking at adding advertising, both as available and unobtrusive. I also want to tweak the site, making it a little more distinctive, but I’m really not sure what to do yet.
It’s been, well, a pain in the ass, but along the way I’ve octoupled my knowledge of WordPress and how it’s put together, and I have to say, while it’s not very n00b friendly (like Blogger, LiveJournal or MySpace) it’s got it’s perks with the whole plug-in bit. I still prefer Movable Type, but I see how interesting WP can be.
Oy, the holidays are upon us, but traipsing through the Eaton’s Centre yesterday surprisingly wasn’t as nightmarish as it could have been. Of course the insipid pop-star X-Mas carols were enough to want to drive an awl through your brain, but other than that, not so bad. I guess everyone’s heading down south of the border to shop this year.
The Inconvenience of Life and Death
My grandmother’s husband has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for a couple years now (probably longer, just steeply degrading a couple years ago though) and it’s bean a rough ride for my Gran. Her husband is a sincere, gentle, kind and friendly man, and it’s very difficult for those of us that knew him to see him the way he is, where he’s barely cognizant of where he is or what’s happening exactly most of the time, or even really understanding who in fact we are (although he still always greets family with a huge, wide eyed smile and firmly gripped handshake).
Though, relatively speaking, they’ve only been together a short time (a year or two shy of 15, I think), he’s been wonderful to and for my Grandmother and an unquestionably welcome addition to our family. He’s not my grandfather, but like any step-parent that takes an active interest in your life (as a teen he was always asking about my friends and how they were, which I thought was great) and treats their partner divinely, you greet them and love them like family. I haven’t been home much to witness the decline, only having a very detached third-hand relation for most of it. When I have gone home, it was exception hard to see him reduced to what he is, and just as difficult to see the toll it’s taken on my Gran. She’s always been a tiny woman, but it’s only after the past couple years that she’s looked fragile. She’s invested so much into keeping his quality of life as good as possible, to her own detriment I think… sometimes taking on more than she can handle. But, although hard to acknowledge, there’s a strength in her actions, a proof of how strongly she responds to him being in her life, and a love like that is so rare.
The disease makes us so uncomfortable, though, because even more so than death, when you meet someone who’s become such a void like that, you can’t help but think of yourself in a similar condition, and it’s like the same nihilism that terrifies people about zombie movies, basically having no control, and a diminished consciousness. Most of us, confronted with the thought, have said it’s probably better to be dead than to have that happen to us. (Roger Ebert reviewed the Japanese film Memories of Tomorrow which follows from the perspective of the afflicted character as the disease starts to take hold, and it sounds depressingly relevant to understanding the condition and how we look at it).
He’s taken a turn for the worse, in the hospital, now having contracted pneumonia, which is quite lethal for someone in his condition. It’s a real topsy-turvy bag of emotions associated with the news. We who knew him have missed him for some time, none more so than my Grandmother who had the hardest time accepting his condition, but after a while we’ve come to understand that the physical shell is no longer the man, and have had no choice but to begrudgingly accept that awful fate. But, I don’t want him to die, no matter how much I’ve accepted his fate, and yet, how good is his life right now? What purpose or reason does he serve? How will him living continue to affect my Grandmother? How will his death affect her? So many decidedly pointed and difficult questions with no answers. He could die tomorrow, or he could shake the pneumonia and live for years more, or he could live until Christmas. There’s no telling, and, depressingly, no scenario is a good scenario.
It’s all just bitterly awful, and there’s nothing nice in any of it. For me, at the busiest time of year (personally and professionally, with more things seemingly piling up every day) it’s inconvenient, which is a horrible thing to say… but it’s the truth, the inconvenience of death. I’ve made people aware that I may have to leave suddenly, but it’s horrible, because I just don’t know when and any frustration with not knowing point blankly makes me feel like an awful person. All I do know is that when it happens I have to go, out of no familial pressure or any of that but for my own peace.
Regardless, though, life moves on.
On other things:
Glenn Kenny of Premiere magazine tries to explain away the ending of No Country For Old Men.