Archive / November, 2010

Sometimes Hyperbole Just Ain’t Enough

Not made of chocolate

Today I saw a girl licking a fire hydrant. Seriously. No, you did not read that incorrectly. And you have no idea how much I really do wish I was exaggerating.

It wasn’t a piece of chocolate fashioned into the shape of a fire hydrant, either. Which might have made sense. It was just a plain ol’ bright yellow, City of Toronto fire hydrant. And the aforementioned girl was carefully bent at the waist, intently licking it like so much leftover Halloween candy. She seemed quite focused, too… which might even be more unsettling than the initial act itself. Almost.

I’d simply popped out at lunchtime with a co-worker to grab a coffee and pick up a December Metropass (sidebar: where the HELL did November go?) when this creative bit of performance art was presented to us (it had to have been performance art, right?) It seemed like an innocuous enough venture. But, I work in the East end of Toronto – Queen Street East, to be precise – and, for those of you familiar with the city, well: you’re familiar with the city.

Picking up the Metropass went off without incident. And, while waiting for my coffee, I assumed that the two misplaced Jersey Shore rejects sprawled across four armchairs would be the most colourful encounter of our afternoon jaunt. Silly me.

As we continued back to the office, coffee happily & firmly in hand, we realized that today was no ordinary day. It seemed that Pauly D and The Situation had, in fact, been trumped in the One of These Things Is Not Like The Other category by Shoeless Homeless Guy (is it wrong to assume one based on the other?)

SHG was, happily, rolling around on the sidewalk in front of a pub with a poor, unsuspecting dog who’d been tethered to a bike rack whilst his owner, presumably, ran inside to grab some takeout. Puppy didn’t look impressed. In all honesty, though, SHG looked like he was having the time of his life. So who am I to judge?

It was then that we encountered the initial oddity: Girl Licking Fire Hydrant. Sounds like the title for a piece of modern art. And, hey – for all I know she was a street artist working on a new piece. I’m going to go out on a limb, though, and vote: no. This is a neighbourhood quite renowned for its pharmaceutically-powered goings ons.

And, in all fairness, the neighbourhood wherein my office resides is – in general – one of the more sketchy of the downtown core, replete with characters living in each & every level of crazy town (as well as varying levels of chemical dependency.)

Come to think of it, this is the same – almost to the exact same block – location where I witnessed the charming meth-head-about-town regale me with a Harley Salute* this summer past. Maybe it was the same girl. Good to know she has hobbies for all seasons.

I love my city.
*A universal greeting primarily used by women intent on getting the attention of a lead singer and/or guitarist (not to mention the camera crew responsible for the Jumbotron feed) at a concert.


’tis the Season, Part 1: The Potluck

Once again, the season of eating is upon us. I know, I know – Goodwill toward Mankind… blah, blah, blah. But who’s kidding who? There’s a reason gyms have ramped up their marketing (seriously, if I didn’t know any better, I might be offended at the number of flyers that litter my door and mailbox every effin’ day!) and will rake in a KILLING in New Year’s Resolution memberships.

Having made some slight headway in my own personal fitness, I’ve decided that this is the year I won’t gain the inevitable 10 (15?) pounds. Yes, I know – best laid plans and all that. I amuse myself, too. A girl can try, though.

My office is having the first of what will, no doubt, be personal challenges throughout this season of merriment: The lunchtime potluck. There will be a slew of delights to choose from… and it’s going to take an iron will to resist all the fatty, yummy, morsels that will be on display. But who wants to be the dick who goes around asking what’s in each and every dish prior to taking a bite?

Not this girl.

So I thought – why not create one hearty, tasty, good-for-you dish to contribute?  At best: I have something I can eat without the usual Potluck Remorse. At worst: I’m asked not to participate next time.

But it’s not like I work with an office of sloths who roll around consuming calories like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, there are quite a few who watch what they eat, make regular trips to the gym and, generally, care about their own health.

So (and here’s where I continue to impress myself… all modesty aside *ahem*) I found a tasty recipe and altered it somewhat to make it slightly more filling & just a smidge less fattening. Let’s be honest: why waste calories on things like processed cheese, mayo and oil dressing when they can be better spent on chocolatey, creamy, buttery or pastry-y concoctions? Exactly.

And, so I give you: Weezie’s ChickPea, Cucumber & Tomato Delight (everything else uses the word Delight over the holidays, so I figured I could too. Feel free to rename as you see fit.)

½ C Black Olives

540 mL can Chick Peas


551 mL Grape Tomatoes

4 cloves Garlic

¼ C Red Onion

5 tbsp Kraft Fat Free Italian Dressing

Litehouse Salad Herb Blend


Drain & rinse chick peas & set aside
Drain olives
Mix all ingredients into bowl
Toss with Salad Dressing & Salad Herbs
Let sit for at least an hour… if not longer (over night is ideal)
Makes 14 ½-cup servings

(NI: Cals: 75.1 | Fat: 1.4 g | Sodium: 262.8 mg | Carbs: 12.3 g  | Fibre: 3 g | Protein: 3.7 g)

Oh – and I also brought chocolate chip cookies. It is a freakin’ potluck, after all!

A Confederacy of Dunces

Early this week, I added A Confederacy of Dunces to my Read List, but wasn’t quite ready to form an opinion. I think my big roadblock was that, based on what I knew about the book, the author, his mother’s struggle to see it published (not to mention the glowing accolades from just about every living critic), I felt that it was mandatory I adore each & every detail.

From beginning to end, my constant opinion of the protagonist (Ignatius J. Reilly) was ‘good CHRIST, this is a repugnant human being without one single, solitary redeeming quality.’ And, when I’d finished reading, I let that opinion cloud my opinion of the story in its entirety.

I realize, now (after letting my thoughts bounce around my skull for a few days), that what I felt for the main character wasn’t how I felt about the rest of the novel at all. Ignatius is supposed to be loathsome. An over-educated, slothful, hygienically challenged… well – arsehole of a human being who is abusive & cruel to his over-the-top, self-martyring mother is hardly a character worthy of any warm fuzzies. But he’s not supposed to be.

John Kennedy Toole’s point in creating Ignatius (at least, in my opinion) was to give us a character who is a delight to hate. And I, honestly, don’t remember the last time I encountered a fictional being quite so deliciously despicable.

The slovenly, eccentric & delusional Ignatius lives at home with his mother in 1960s New Orleans. At 30 he remains unemployed – with no desire or intent to become otherwise – and is convinced that the rest of mankind is of far inferior intellect & is unknowingly drowning in a cesspool of sin & debauchery.

When a minor fender bender forces Ignatius to find employment, the ensuing escapades, situations & characters with whom he becomes involved, weave a farcical romp of absurdity that really is suited to the Big Screen.

In fact several interpretations – with such rumoured attachments as Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Chris Farley, John Candy, Steven Fry, Steven Soderbergh & Will Ferrell – have reportedly been started and, subsequently, scrapped.

It’s a shame Toole only ever wrote two novels (he, tragically, took his own life in 1969.) Both were published posthumously due, in no small part, to his mother’s tireless efforts.

The Neon Bible (his first written & second published) is now on my endlessly expanding To Read list – if for no other reason than to see what the 16-year-old Toole’s writing chops were like. And I hope that, if an afterlife does exist, Toole has been made aware of how much his work is appreciated.


The More You Know…

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé

There are a few relatively well-known universal constants: the Speed of Light, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

On a lesser known plane is the Trainor-diNorcia Wine Continuum. Never heard of it? It’s the basic principle that, when the question ‘would you like a glass?‘ is posed to either myself or my husband, it will invariably be answered with: ‘yes, please,’ ‘absolutely,’ ‘hells, yeah!’ or some variation on this theme.

Not surprisingly, my husband & I do have an unusually well-stocked bar. Having said that, I am quite aware that a true connoisseur of libations would take one good look at our collection and quickly dismiss us as amateurs.

But here’s the thing: we freely admit that we know NOTHING about wine. Not a damn thing. But we do know what we like. In fact, we keep a pretty, embroidery-covered book on the top of our bar for drinks we try and think are deserving of a repeat performance. We like browsing at our local LCBO to grab something new & previously untried by either of us just so we can give it a whirl. We’ve found some that were added to the book. We’ve found others that, upon that first mouthful, were dumped directly down the sink (yes, the entire bottle; there have been a few not even worth being saved for cooking.)

This year, we’ve had a whole new world opened to us: the Wonderful World of the Beaujolais Nouveau.

Apparently, each year on the third Thursday of November – the Beaujolais region of France releases the results from that year’s crop of hand-harvested Gamay grapes. It’s meant to be consumed right away – or at least by the May following its bottling – which would explain the difference in taste compared to what most people are used to with Red wine.

It wasn’t until a co-worker (who shares our love of the occasional *ahem* glass of vino) mentioned that he was looking forward to dropping in to the LCBO last Thursday, as this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau would be on the shelves. Kind-hearted soul that he is, he grabbed an extra bottle and gave it to me yesterday morning – not the worst way to start a Monday!

Beaujolais Nouveau is a purple-pink wine that, because it hasn’t aged, is pretty light compared to most Reds. In fact, when I opened the bottle we sampled with dinner last night, my first comment was, “hmm… smells more like White wine, than it does Red.”

It tasted quite similar to a white wine as well – and, surprisingly, not the super sweet flavour you would find in a Rosé.  And, because it’s a lighter, fruitier wine – it can actually be served somewhat chilled (which, as we know, is a no-no with any other Red.)

Now, whether or not the annual Beaujolais Nouveau frenzy (the bottles, apparently, are hard to come by & sell out quickly) is little more than a cleverly executed marketing campaign remains to be seen (at least to me… I’m sure there are many experts on the subject who would be more than happy to set the record straight.)  But I will say this: I enjoyed my first experience with this annual bacchanalian rite of passage.

Education is a wonderful thing.


Reconfiguring my To Do List

I have a plan; a plan that will set in motion the most grandiose, elaborate & beyond awesome life-changing scheme the country, nay world, has ever seen.

I’ve decided to win the lottery.

I haven’t quite figured out the logistics of how I’m going to execute this plan. But I really do think it’s the best course of action for me right now. My husband says he likes the idea & he’s really not the sort to steer me wrong when it comes to this type of thing.

I think I’d be quite good at not having to keep to anyone’s schedule but my own. I’d be living out my own, personal, Freedom 41, complete with houses & cars for all of my loved ones, trips to all corners of the world, an apartment in Paris & a beach house in the Mediterranean. And I’d never wear the same diamonds twice (except, of course, my wedding band & engagement ring.) Oh! And let’s not forget costume changes! Bob Mackie would swoon with envy & Cher would feel like a frump.

And, really, a lottery windfall is the only solution I can come up with that will allow me to eliminate that pesky Nine to Five (or, in my case, Six) from my current roster. It’s not that I dislike my job. Quite the contrary. I’ve come to really like the people with whom I spend such a huge chunk of my week. But it’s exhausting having to bend creativity to the whims of the PTBs (that’s Powers that Be, for all you non-Buffy/Angel aficionados.) And, sadly, the bank has this notion that it owns the better part of our happy little townhouse. So, naturally, the Lottery would brilliantly allow us to say “suck it” to all of those irksome busybodies.

Oh, the glory of it all! Just imagine: being allowed the luxury to spend all of my quality time with the creativity flint that’s been shooting sparks all over the place as of late. I could write whenever the urge hit, take off without a moment’s notice to shoot photos of anyone or anything that tickled my fancy, wander away to spend the afternoon with my face firmly ensconced in a book. Heaven.

And becoming independently wealthy, in and of itself, has a tremendous amount of appeal – in a charming, all-encompassing blissful sort of way.  Imagine being able to spend all of your time exactly as you see fit. There would be no mortgage to worry about. And bills? What are these pedestrian bills of which you speak?

Yep, this is definitely going to the top of my To Do list.

Unfortunately, my lunch break is almost over. So I’ll have to work on logistics at another time.