Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sweet Potato Lobster Poutine

I love poutine. My phone's wallpaper has long been a picture of poutine that I took in Montreal. I keep it there because it frequently reminds me of the happiest time of my life.

Thus, I was excited to hear the news that a Smoke's Poutinerie is opening here in London on May 31. When this news broke a few days ago, I immediately entered a poutine trance, obsessed with the idea of gravy and cheese on fried potatoes. So I searched my apartment for anything resembling it.

What I found was: sweet potato fries, cheese, and a whole lobster.

So I cooked up the fries, I grated some cheese, I pried the meat out of the lobster, then I made lobster gravy by squeezing the lobster until gravy came out with butter, flour, lobster, and spices.

I smothered the fries with the gravy, then topped it with cheese and lobster. It looked like this:

I am not ashamed to admit that this was some of the best "poutine" I ever had. It was very rich and filling, though, and I didn't feel like eating for like 24 hours afterward.

Fortunately, my appetite for poutine is back. See you at Smoke's on the Monday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Experimenting With Google Wave

Brian Frank recently wrote a post about the possibilities of Google Wave. Seems like nobody really got into Wave, but it does have massive potential. Brian suggests having the same wave embedded in different blogs, to serve as a sort of shared comment section for related posts. Well, let's see how this works. Here is Brian's post and the real-time discussion following it, embedded in a wave. Join in.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost: The End (Minor Spoilers)

Lost fans have probably already heard enough about the last episode, but here are my two cents:

The main appeal of Lost is its mystery. It exploits unanswered questions in a way that no other show has done. It's mystery porn. And just like other porn, it's not about the release; that's just icing on the face. The build-up—the teasing, the unknown dangling right in front of you—that's what drives the show.

An answer is nice when it comes, but the thrill only lasts a second, then you forget about it, roll over, and go to sleep. Mysteries, though, keep you occupied long after the show ends. They pump through your dreams all night long. They make you squirm in your seat when they suddenly pop into your head at work.

For that reason, I was satisfied with Lost's ending. The resolution of the "flash sideways" slapped around our expectations just enough to keep it spicy. The very last money shot was just right1.  And overall it left just enough unanswered questions to keep Lost lingering on the tips of our minds, fondly remembered as one of the best shows we ever had.

P.S. Some of the "mysteries" that people complain about being left unanswered aren't really mysteries that anyone promised to answer. Why do we need to know who built the statue/temple/cork? That's like complaining if the Grey's Anatomy finale doesn't explain who built the hospital.

(although a few of them probably should have been solved)

1 And I think exemplifies the Stephen King influence the creators have been wearing on their sleeve all along.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh hi. This is the second inaugural drunken blog post.

Here are a few things about me which you porhaps did n'ot know:

1) I went on vacation last week and I gained 10 pounds.

2) I forgot to put my belt on today and I didn't even notice.

SPEAKING OF PANTS I found these shorts in my drawer and I have no idea where they came from. Ok the tag says they came from Old Navy, but I don't remember buying them. The thing is, they only have one pocket in the back, which is not evenough to hold my wallet and my keys and my phone and my piece; I don't know why I'd buy shorts without pockets. Shorts without pockets are the worst.

Like worse than the holocaust and the BP oil spill combined. By which i mean that time when jewish people got oil all over their feathers and had to be rescued by Greenpeace.

Did that happen?

Why are you ereadindg this and who are you


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Emilie De Ravin is an Asshole

Final episode of Lost tonight! I've been delightfully frustrated by it from the beginning, and I'll be sad to see it end. However, there is one face I will be happy to never see again: Emilie De Ravin's.

Emilie De Ravin plays Claire on Lost, and she is an asshole. Oh, I haven't told you about our sordid history?

Back in the year 2000, there was this show, Roswell, about alien teenagers who like hot sauce. De Ravin came in near the end of the first season, playing another of said alien teenagers. She was beautiful and evil and for me, it was love at first sight.

So I did what any young man in love would do: I bought her domain name. In the year 2000, not many people knew how to work this internet thing, so was still available. I snatched it up, then threw up a pretty nice fan site. This went well for a few months. I got to scour the internet for pictures of De Ravin, and creepy fans got to visit my site and email me begging for n00dz.

Then I got an email from a company called SafeSearching. They said they represented Emilie De Ravin, and, citing some recently created law in California, they said I was "cybersquatting"—keeping the web address just to exploit the fame of a celebrity —so I should transfer the address to them.

Back then, the laws regarding the internet were even murkier than they are today, and I knew this was fishy (e.g., why should California law have anything to do with me?). So, for a while, I fought. I banded together with other fan site owners. The webmaster of (note the dash) went down immediately, her address forwarding to SafeSearching's shitty-ass "official" De Ravin site. Others continued to fall around me, but I stood my ground.

I was contacted by an underground resistance calling themselves The Bringers. They were a group of webmasters from a wide variety fo fan sites fighting against oppressive companies like SafeSearching.  They had their own lawyers, who knew the threats were empty. It was looking like I had ground to stand on.

Then SafeSearching brought out their secret weapon. I got the following email:

hi mike. don't get me wrong, i appreciate what you're doing, but actually, the safesearching guys are really nice, and the site is still being designed. the only profit they make goes to worthy causes and i am very much behind them.
they've urged me not to respond, and let them handle it, but i wanted to know if there's a way we can sort this silliness out first. if i tell them to let you administrate my fan boards, and put a special thanks to you for your efforts on my site, as well as send you a signed thank you on a photo or something, will you just cooperate with them? It is my name, and they are successfully doing what they do, but i'd like us all to be friendly.
what'da'ya say?
(please don't post this publicly)
As I said, I was a young man in love, and they were using my own love against me. I wasn't in a position to get into a legal battle, I was getting pressure from my registrar, and she asked nicely. So I began negotiations to hand over the domain.

I did hold out for some monetary compensation, and pointed out their lack of legal backing. Here is part of their deliciously evil response:

[...] this would be a simple open and shut case, as evident by our last um-teen lawsuit rulings where we reclaimed the domain, plus attornies fees 100% of the time.
That's not a threat. You've been very honorably and decent, that's why we're even having a dialog, and for some reason, Emilie has been particulary tolerant of you. This is a good thing. It's easier this way.
I wish I hadn't backed down at this point, but I did. I gave them what they wanted. They added a link to on Emilie's official site, and promised three signed photographs. So I awkwardly flirted with Emilie over email, and waited for her photos (surely accompanied by a letter revealing that my love was requited) to arrive.

I am still waiting.

Emilie De Ravin may still look stunning as a dirty jungle lady in Lost, but she betrayed me. She used her feminine wiles to violate the freedom of the internet, then didn't even give me the inadequate compensation she promised. I hope her character dies tonight.

P.S. I don't actually have a personal problem with Emilie De Ravin. She really just associated herself with an asshole company. SafeSearching is still around, but now go by the name Celebrity Loop, and have (predictably) evolved into social media douchebags for celebrities (and still make shitty-ass sites for minor stars). They no longer represent Emilie, and is now completely abandoned. I would never have let that happen. In other words, Emilie De Ravin, if you want someone to make a good web site for you, and maybe also be your loving boyfriend forever and ever, I am still available. Thanx.

Here is RPattz looking down her shirt:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Contemplative Goose = Frankie the Goose

Last time on the adventures of the contemplative goose: there's this goose near my apartment that likes to look at himself in the reflection of a window. A news story profiled a goose doing this at another location, and speculated that he thought the reflection was his long lost lover.

There are new developments! Mardi just sent me the following email:
My friend Andrew (@impressionone) made me look at your blog post from Podcamp because he thought it would interest me...and ohh it did! I was in love with a Canadian Goose that hung out at Museum London for the longest time (I named him Frankie), he stood at the front window every morning and afternoon staring at the gift shop...the wildlife people ended up moving him...and every time I see a goose looking lonely and pondering I think it may be him...but I think that you found him! Where is the picture taken!? Attached a photo! Just thought you would like this story!

I do like this story! I Googled for a while to see if staring at reflections is just something that geese do a lot. I found no other references to it. This leads me to believe that Mardi's goose, the goose on the news, and my goose are all the same goose, who we now know is named Frankie.

Frankie is us.

In other news, I may be absent for a short while because I'm going to Halifax. Or maybe I'll be inspired to blog, like when I wrote this post, which I rather like.

It's funny that was the first time I'd written in a coffee shop. Since then I've gotten sick of my apartment and office, so I practically live in coffee shops (a special shout-out to Coffee Culture on Dundas, which has a special place in my heart). Counterintuitively, the music and buzz of other people keeps me at the right level of distraction that I can focus on my work without feeling the need to fuck off and watch How I Met Your Mother all day.

Ramble ramble. Bye.

Update 10:12am: Never mind. Also, here's a London Free Press Story about this. I think Frankie is a much better name than Duck.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Podcamp London + Contemplative Goose

On Saturday I attended Podcamp London. A podcamp is a gathering of people interested in blogging, podcasting, social media, and other technologyish internetty stuff. It's referred to as an "unconference", because the format is unconventional. There are few rules, and anyone is free to throw a presentation onto the schedule. I guess I count as "anyone," so I inserted myself into the timetable1, and prepared a little presentation.

I talked to a packed room about Putting Weird Things in Coffee, internet fame, blogging, and how social media and the accessibility of the internet are changing the way creative people do their thing. I was a bit nervous, since I'd never done anything like that before, but I ended up enjoying the hell out of it.

If you wanna see my slides, you can get a clickable Quicktime movie (showing my spiffy slide transitions) here, or a PDF with all my secret notes (ruining the illusion that my witty jokes were improvised) here.

Actual audience reaction. I am mildly amusing.

I got a lot of flattering feedback, and some good suggestions for the coffee blog. From the always-creative Nik Harron came the idea for putting despair in coffee. I.e., tears. I wonder if tears of shame taste difference than tears of mourning?

I imagine the former are a little more spicy.

It made no sense btw.

Also: I won a pool for predicting how many dicks would show up in Chatroulette in a 30 minute period (six). I'm like a psychic predicting how many children you'll have, except it's how many dicks you'll see. (See also). It was good times. I'm surprised none blew their load when they saw they were performing in front of an entire room full of people.

There were more substantial thrills to be had, too. The sense of community was palpable. I have another psychic prediction: good things are coming in London Ontario's future. There is an increasingly-less-underground group of diverse personalities who are passionate about making great things happen in this city and beyond. Upcoming projects like Changecamp London and UnLondon are just a few examples.

Between Podcamp itself and the sloppy after-party, I came across this Canada goose:

I've seen him there 3 or 4 times, always just standing there looking at his reflection in the window. He's, like, a metaphor for life, man. Just staring, all day, pondering his place in this crumbling city. The goose is us, man. The goose is us.

1 That's what he said?

Update May 10 9:30pm: I have been informed (thanks a lot @BillyW64) that the goose stares at his reflection because he thinks it's his mate that he lost last year. There was a story about him on A Channel (I guess they interviewed the goose to obtain this information). The goose picture is now more sad-deep than intelligent-deep. Man.

Update May 11 3:15pm: Here is the fluffy A Channel story about the goose (thanks @joeradman, you are rad, man). Not sure about the veracity of the story or if it's even the same goose (mine is in a totally different location). Maybe geese are just vain. Still, it's sad to think about. There is also a Facebook page for him/her.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Book Review: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach

Stiff tells various tales about what happens to our bodies after we die. From experiments with car crashes and bullet impacts, to good old cannibalism, it's a fascinating look at some stories that would usually remain buried.

Aside from being willing to go places few people would dare, Roach's strength is in the personality that comes through in her writing. Rather than a dry reporting of facts, she describes in first-person her experiences with people—both living and dead—who she sought out to research the book. Describing her own reaction to every odour adds a real punch, but her sense of humour is always there to keep it from going too far.

I listened to the audiobook edition, and Shelly Frasier's narration is perfect. Her perpetually sardonic tone perfectly captures Roach's darkly sarcastic writing.

It doesn't all come up roses. The gross chapters—like the one devoted to research on human decay—are always, um, engrossing. Others can be dry. In the chapter on new methods of disposing of bodies (such as removing all the moister, shattering them, then using them as compost), Roach describes, in great detail, a conference she attended where these methods were debated. While an inside glimpse into the politics of the funeral industry is interesting for a few pages, it goes on for way too long.

Stiff is lively more often than not, though, and is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in the deader side of life.

Monday, May 03, 2010

At the Gym, Volume 5

Yesterday, a guy beside me in the gym's change room had a bad case of dumbface. In case you don't know, dumbface is when a person perpetually looks like there is nothing going on in their brain. Eyes too close together, stupid hair, and a mouth always slightly open are just a few contributions to the constellation we call dumbface.

This guy ran into a friend, and I eavesdropped in on their conversation.

"Bro, it's been 3 weeks since last time I worked out. Got another concussion," said Dumbface.

Perhaps head trauma explains the face.

"Doctors said I should stay away from contact sports," he continued, chuckling a bit, as if to assure his friend that he didn't really understand or take seriously anything a doctor would say.

His friend quickly packed up and left. Then Dumbface uttered the parting words of many of history's greatest douchebags and dumbasses:

"Take 'er easy."

So, this edition of At the Gym is dedicated to all those poor people out there who have spent so much time on physical activity that they have actually become retarded. Whether it's multiple concussions, or performance enhancing drugs, or a simple case of not having enough blood to power both muscles and a brain, these people should probably lay off the gym for a while.

See also: At the Gym, Volume 4, and Volume 3 and Volume 2 and the first one