July 2006 Archives

Awesomeness from Asia

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So yeah, my brother came back from Asia, and with him, a few tees from UniQlo. They are quite... interesting. Japanese-language print, and upon checking the stuff up on the web (one of the two actually had a website address inscribed on them), I found out it probably came from a collection of tees with ancient corporate logos. Yeah, they are logos and design from old companies, a fishing bait one, and a rice vinegar one.

In fact, that's the collection it came from. Willing pay to be walking ads for random companies...

The night of weird patterns

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All my friends are firstborn. And I don't just mean close friends, but perhaps 10-15 friends/acquaintances, barring one or two exceptions. Most often of a pair of siblings (as it seems to be the favoured complement of offspring for most couples), but sometimes out of more than two.

My mother is the first of seven; my father is the second of five (and first boy). And I have a younger brother.

Woaw, holy crap, I'm not getting over this!

I'm reading the Coupland novel. I now want to make omelette for tomorrow's lunch.

Friday night stroll

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Hmm, let's see. After work, I had nothing planned, so quite out of the blue, decided to walk down St-Laurent. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, perfectly humid, etc, etc. I was at first going to do the usual Ste-Cath path, but thought it might be more interesting to do a segment of St-Laurent, starting from the Mile End, and crossing down the Plateau, all the way to the McGill ghetto.

One notable stop was the Andes grocery store, which is also a small cafeteria serving various recognizable latino-american fast food. I got myself a plate of two pork pupusas, which didn't look hot, were somewhat soggy-appearing, but which were surely enough the right temperature and consistency after cutting in them. I think pupusas are strange, not only because of their name (first exposure: "what, we're going to eat small squealing animals/insects?"), but because they look familiar (like small tortillas), yet not something that's widely popularized in the mainstream media (unlike tacos, fajitas). With coleslaw topping, and the hottest of both sauces, it made for a deceivingly filling dinner for $4.99. It's on St-Laurent, two or three houses south of Mont-Royal.

Second stop was at Cocorico, the Rotisserie, not for chicken, but for some natas. I got myself only one, thinking that it was overpriced (90 cents, plus tax, each) and that I could find another place that's a bakery and made them fresh, like, everyday. I recall Karen saying something about an address on Pine for natas, but alas, did not bloody explore. After hesitating for a bit, I finally decided against also getting ice cream from Ripples, just across. Now compensating by finishing off remainder of pistachio and hazelnut "oriental" (with rose water flavouring) ice cream from Adonis.

I then stopped by my grandmother, who was a bit more energetic, at some point making it known that young people eat unhealthy food, to which I counter that I am seriously looking out for my sugars and fats.

Then, kept going, and walked the rest of the way towards Guy-Concordia metro, where I set sail for home (while purchasing the Civ4 expansion on the way). Boring, isn't it?

Books for the (end of) summer

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I think I'm a slow reader. I am easily distracted, or am slow. Either ways, the end result is that I start many books I end up not finishing, or worse, buy a lot of books I don't actually read. The Indigo/Chapters and Amazon monsters are making a lot of money off me. Anyways, here's what I am currently on...

1- Eleanor Rigby, by Douglas Coupland. I read 20-something pages on the bus bound home, and it's really in the pop, sarcastic tone. It's about a lonely woman, her musings on loneliness, and her something marvelous sending her life into a higher orbit: the re-discovery of a long lost son. GG sent it to me by mail all the way from Victoria. He really crunches books like that. There was "Varieties of Romantic Experiences" by Cohen, which he gave me in mid-January the last time he came to Montreal. We love to commiserate on, how do you put it, the wilting of romantic pursuits.

2- Les Fleurs du Mal, par Charles Beaudelaire. Ha-ha, really.I started reading Le Spleen de Paris first. There is something so appealing in what's writing, and not at all undecipherable academic stuff from other French authors of the 19th century who we studied and overstudied at school. I'm one of those students who remember that Baudelaire was gay with some other author (he was bi, in fact), but can't recite any poem or anything.

3- Chansons pour elle, par Paul Verlaine. This time I actually bought it along with the previous entry, but I must've borrowed it before, in the summer of '04 at the McGill lib, when I was studying Chinese, not that it had anything to do with it. I was getting other books by French authors (smut by Apollinaire - pretty entertaining shit), so this was in the same section. Also got a Lao She play from the library on that same stroll (b/c I was studying Chinese, after all :D).

4- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. Most good. The origins of human civ, and why are white folks dominating the Earth, explaining in this thick best-seller.

5- Apache Cookbook (O'Reilly). omg, and other books from the company's bookshelf, and web. Sometimes I wish wifi was city-wide and that portable computer devices were affordable. But then no, for the same reason my father refuses to have a cellphone, even if his boss paid for it.

Extra: I should look for François Cheng. He's Chinese, but naturalized French, lived there since the end of wwii I think, and part of the Academie Francaise. My boss, a Frenchman, recommended that I get "Le Dit de Tianyi", which is a love story with the events of the Mao era in background, and basically a lesson of history for the uninitiated. I know a bit on the Cultural Revolution beyond its neutral-sounding name (in Quebec, we had a "Tranquil Revolution", around those few years), but I can afford to know a bit more. Coming from a French Chinese? ... would be intriguing.

I was going to say that The Gate of the Heavenly Peace, which I saw last year in HK around June 4th, would have a bit the same effect of giving details on an otherwise overpublicized event. What is the massacre anyways? Not just pro-democracy uprising crushed by an evil empire, but a complex power struggle, extremism on both sides forcing the tragedy of 6/4. After seeing that film, I do feel that it was a majority of reasonable people, who knew when to stop, but a band of few who wanted something spectacular to happen. You know, how as young people, we are restless and do something irrational just to "see how it's going to turn out"? (I'm thinking of Le Mauvais Vitrier in the Spleen).

Ha-ha, I knew I would make that sort of mistake.

It said "Making" on the Yesasia page, and so it was a making-of DVD... I mean, who the fuck sells making-of DVD without the real movie nowadays. Well, the Japanese do!

So, I'm stuck with a Japanese-language-exclusive DVD of Funky Forest (Nice no Mori). Who wants it for, umm, $20 negotiable? :P

Actually, I am the stupid one, b/c I misunderstood (obviously) that the release date (2006/03/25) was for *cinemas*, not on DVD.

As far as I know, HK's window of time for cinema release to DVD release is about the quickest, with about a month and a half.

At least there's Durian Durian. My boss passed me a DVD of The Corporation.

... Re-actually, I really really don't know what I'm talking about, b/c this implies it came out before Aug 2005?

Proper film DVD is nowhere to be found.

Welcome to 3.31

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Of MT, testing, testing. :D

And let's see how it fares against the comment spam...

... and the answer being, not very well. XD

Woaw, I never did this... But I wrote a long-ish entry, and then *close* the window w/o even attempting to click on the submit button...

Basically, a summary of what I wrote was that I saw petronia the other day. She gave me a copy of a fan publication of one of my favourite shorties ever, illustrated by Wen and friend, the "One Sugar Dream" collab. basically, upon seeing the cover image (if even her artwork), I could associate the name "Wen" to it. Style is very peculiar, although I can't clearly describe it, and why I thought so quickly about her art, even if I've only seen it a handful of times.

As for the short story... Ok, another time, I must've recounted it many times already.

It was the Montreal Dragon Boat Race today. We did bad enough on the first day to get dropped in the "rookie" division, out of the three divisions. This morning today however, we did the best time of all "rookie" teams. That means, the best time out of, hmm, 20-something teams, right? But what goes up must go down, and we finished fifth on the final race, and went home with no medal. Heh, we have a website too. :D

Was pretty excited by the extent of event. Lots and lots of people, more than I ever imagined, with the food stands, clothing stands. I noticed there were way more chinese people in Montreal than I thought. A lot of Asian-looking people who speak teh perfect English or French. Lots of Cantonese too. Wonderful that the sub-group of an ethnic group does exist in Montreal.

There were lots of activities along the basin. Didn't follow much of it, as our team had a tent closer to the 500m start than the finish line (where stuff was happening). There were martial arts shows, and people singing. There were also stands where people could pay a small fee for a watermelon-eating contest.

This weekend passed exhaustingly. On Saturday night, I already felt as if it was Sunday evening, falling asleep right after drinking a mezzo coffee at Starbucks, and feeling as if there was nothing else to do but go home and sleep for another work week to start. Tired, b/c we all woke up pretty much at ~5:30 on Sunday to get to the pool by 7PM. Usually, when I'm awake that early on a Sunday, it's because I haven't slept the night before. :P

After the race was finished, I wandered off to the limits of the Piknic Electro. I think I do like electronic music enough. I didn't have a fresh supply of it lately, but particular electronic sounds is pushing on the right buttons. Sat on a bench facing the artificial pond, and just fell asleep to the sound of the psichh psicha, etc.

Later, was a bit more awake. Picked up randomly good food at Al-Taib on Guy (a zaatar, which I didn't know, could be served "all-dressed"). Went to the movie reviewed below here. Wish I could just sleep nine hours, bleh. Priorities, priorities...

And bleh, I'm still imagining myself making the paddling movement. <_< You know, turn your shoulders and reach, and shit.

Fantasia '06 (Re-Cycle)

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Can't help but spoilerize.

Hmm. Not a bad movie at all. In fact, if you come into the theatre w/o prior knowledge of the plot, besides, oh, it's got plenty of CG stuff, and it's about somehow exploring one's imagination, then you're really really up for a happy moment as soon as the ride begins. Approved.

Last Fantasia movie, unless they draw a bunny from their hats like it happened in past years. There is actually a decent-sounding last-minute addition (albeit diagonally read review), but clearly for students, and a limited number of students, as it is shown at friggin' 3PM tomorrow at JA De Seve. Yeah, and I'll probably catch a few ones at Cinema Du Parc before it closes down forever. Man, I've seen this cinema since I've been a young kid whose grandma lives nearby.

Mindless entertainment. Probably like The NeverEnding Story mixed with Godzilla, and crack. It is so appealing after a day spent outside doing stuff.

Actually quite familiar themes, if one has seen Miyazaki's movies (especially Mononoke Hime, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, Laputa or Nausicaa - the ones that are particularly nature-themed, not necessarily on growing up).

Fantasia '06: Sunday Seoul

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So, on Thursday, I added Sunday Seoul to my schedule, which is three short stories with recurrent non-crucial characters.

So, that makes it eight movies for this edition of Fantasia, which is probably the fewest between 2003, 2004 and this year. I think that the publicity campaign was really intense this year, as the festival celebrated its tenth year of existence. Many of the movies presented on the last evenings of the festival (i.e. this week) like Great Yokai War and Re-Cycle are sold-out (just b/c people don't normally plan for Fantasia until their friends actually start talking about it).

I usually only plan for Asian films. If I have the time (like during the last previous years), I would stray from what I consider the core of my selection plan, and go for movies from elsewhere. I remember getting a story of secret cult a la Da Vinci's Code movie from Spain, and a bunch of American film, like that stalker-ish movie where a guy would build himself a doll/girlfriend, or the short stories collection by a half Asian American who I forgot the name (it was called Robot Stories maybe).

Dream a little dream...

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Two things have kept me awake these days.

One of them is paddling technique. o_o Yeah, you've heard it here, I am thinking about how I should paddle, whether I sit correctly, push my arms forward enough, turn my shoulders fast enough. I've never thought so much about my own body (I spent my university years being totally amorphic). It's to be noted that we had our hardest practice on Monday, which included two (or three?) 1000m, three or four 500m, including a race with elite teams, and a 4x20secs, 4x40secs and 2x90secs somewhere before the race. I know I've claimed it's "the hardest practice evar"many times, but I think we can't go (much) further than this.

Overall, I felt really good. For the first time, I ran around the olympic basin (4.5km), with a few stops in the first 2km, and only once to tie my shoelaces in the last straight. It's not a question of breath, but more of energy. After paddling so much, you just can't feel your arms, even if your heart still wants to pump more blood into them. I think the key will be a good nutrition, and for that, I'm already planning a congee-based diet for Thursday and Friday, and I bought myself a bag of sultana raisins for snacking ($2.45 for two big scoops at the Arabic grocery store on Ste-Cath near Guy). Tomato pizzas at Italian-owned Boulangerie Clarke on St-Viateur/Clark are a pretty good, filling and cheap high-carb lunch. It's around a buck fifty for the ones with tomato sauce/oil and rosemary + other herbs, or tomato pieces; $2.25 for the cheapest and heartiest rectangular cold pizzas I've ever seen in my life - twice as thick as the ones at Pino and Matteo's around the McGill campus!

Tacos reborn

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The Tacos/Titan pair lives, as Jax. (Which means, for the privileged, unbridled access to my not-so-frequently-anymore "media" collection... :D)

And Webpic.

(Unlike what most of us thought, "Jax" is not for the Mortal Kombat chara, but some old fantasy novel chara, says Rob... yeah right.)

meh (3)

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My uncle and cousin are en route to HK, and my aunt and other cousin are to follow through (in some weird seat picking, my uncle wanted first-class, but he had to leave separately from my aunt).

Slowly depleting of family members in Mtl. The house is very quiet without my mom. My grandmother (who lives with my uncle) keeps on joking that I should cook coq au vin for them. To me, coq au vin is just a few chicken pieces, carrots onions, garlic and a bunch of herbs. Usually we only use thyme, and it has sunk in as the "default taste" when I cook Western stews. I planted marjoram, from that time I made duck. I should get my ass to the Jean-Talon market and grab a few herbs that are good with chicken.


It's very quiet. Sort of uninspired all of a sudden.

meh (2)

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And so, I ordered the Funky Forest DVD. To get free shipping, I threw in a VCD of Fruit Chan's Durian Durian.


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I finished Heroes V. The plot is so... bad. Maybe even the gameplay was bad, but I don't play enough to be able to tell.

Fantasia '06 (intermission)

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I was going to say that The Maid was the best movie so far, but I can now say that I was far more entertained with Funky Forest (aka Nice no Mori, ナイスの森).

I have been trying to look for the soundtrack, but I can't parse Japanese, and I don't feel like doing clever searches with kanjis. The cute song sang in Chinese really really sticks to me. The electro too, but the cute Chinese song really really really sticks. It's got elements of Jamaican/Hawaiian music, with Chinese vocals. Bao zhe ni, something like that. Download the trailer, or let the webpage role for a while, and the song will be played in full. (It's 'qing qing bao bao ni')

I think I'm buying the DVD - in my Yesasia cart. Will decide tomorrow, when in a diff state of mind. Now I can't think straight anymore.

Hot and humid days make me nostalgic, obviously. Is not at all unpleasant, after you had been immunized with S'pore weather carrying a 50lbs backpack and eating full of "yeet-hei" inducing fruits.

Kamikaze Girls, first Fantasia film presented outdoors. It played last year at Fantasia, and came out in select cinemas in HK where I had so much free time in June that I should've gone to see it. I don't know why I never. It must be the 104th time I recount this personal anecdote on Kamikaze Girls.

The normal hang-outers of the Parc de la Paix must have been baffled with the presentation of this feature full of Japanese subculture, and shown in original dub (with subtitles). One must understand that Parc de la Paix, right outside of the SAT, is at the border between Chinatown and red-light district Montreal PQ, where skateborders, homeless folks like to hang out (and just two blocks away from where the Just For Laughs festival was going on strong, with peeps lining up around the corner for the Club Soda). Quite unexpected to have a Japanese movie, and such Japanese movie shown in open air like this. I am wordless, except for the occasional motorcycles vrooming around the block at exactly the same time when the in-movie-characters jumped on their scooters, fought with baddies. XD (And tomorrow, wut, they're showing Goldorak eps?)

Fantasia '06: Funky Forest

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(petronia: I didn't see you after the movie. What I needed to give back was Jae's DVD. Give me a call if you're around. I'm going to the free viewing at Parc de la Paix, 9PM.)

One of the most fucked up movies ever seen at Fantasia (it's a series of nonsensical sketches - including a 2:30min "intermission", for a movie that was actually quite long - 150mins). Of course, for a Fantasia movie to be fucked, it really needs to be fucked up. Pour la suite des choses had an interview with Marc Lamothe of Fantasia (I think I recognize him as the articulate diction dude who does intros and appeases the crowd when shit happens). He kept on interrupting the host, but still interesting. Really, the morning show at R-C is now just La Revanche des Nerdz in disguise. Don't know how I'll cope when the 50-something host comes back in the Fall.

Ok, i've reinstated mt-comments.cgi. Let's hope it doesn't choke on spam again...

Edit: fuck that, script's getting pwned like on the second I re-enabled it...

Cinema du Parc...

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Garlic and stuff

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I have trouble getting a calm night of sleep whenever garlic is aplenty in the evening meal, especially when I haven't had enough time to digest. Garlic, but also onionlikes. This is based on empirical facts. I think it may be particular spices too.

Maison de la nouille

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Doesn't sound much better in Chinese (in pinyin, roughly, fan mian zi/qi jia). It's the Chinese restaurant owned by a Chinese-Cambodian couple on De Maisonneuve, near St-Marc, and near the little Taiwanese eatery. Went there tonight, and asked them what we could get that was sort of Cambodian Chinese, and the lady served us a delicious red curry chicken stew. The curry sauce (appropriately hot, coconut milk based, and with some basil leaves scattered in it) was absolutely great on the rice. Portion was tiny, but alright expensive. Also had a plate of inconsequential beef in shallots/ginger, and some tung choy ("hollow veggies") - all veggies cooked at the restaurant is better, b/c they have the firepower for it.

$25 for two, with tips and taxes. Rice incl.

In the lineage of silly HK flicks, A Chinese Tall Story is the latest to score at Fantasia. Two years ago, there was another film called "Fantasia", which featured possessed chopsticks (played by the Twins), big green monsters related to Andy Lau, etc. Now I am missing more than half the references, caught that it made fun of Independence Day, Return of the King, and Star Wars, not to mention Spiderman, along the mish-mash of Chinese legends, and a particular HK flick that we cinema snobs like so much. Whether it was good... was Scary Movie good? ... You got your answer. XD

The computer-generated stuff is worth mentionning. There's a trend for cheap CG in HK cinema, as of late, exemplified for instance in Fantasia, or more well-known in the two most recent Stephen Chow offerings Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. It's bad, everyone watching those movies knows that. Last year, they also made a human/CG children's hybrid with characters recycled from a lost and found devel matrix of A Bug's Story. Plenty of examples to mention - just that in Western cinema, the effects are so much more well-done, that it is to wonder whether in Asia it's how it is because of low budget, or because it's just the way things are to blur the line between cartoonesque and reality. In Japan, I assume they have budgets, and they still do it.

(The Love HK Film Review)

And why is Joe Hisaishi behind the soundtrack of that sillyness of a film?

Indeed. My webhosting provider is getting attacked with comment spam, so am forbidding mt-comments.cgi until further notice... My e-mail's on Gmail, smurfmatic.

I was looking at Karen's food porn, when obviously my stomach got going. I fetched myself some simple non-instant "Beijing" noodles (but I swear they look and taste exactly like the other more fancily-packaged version that the company makes) with ground beef and a few pieces of cut lettuce I found in the fridge.

I planted myself in front of the TV, and found out that they were re-running this week's episode of L'Epicerie on RDI. B/c the radio frequently advertises TV shows to come, I knew that this show was going to have some very à propos story on Argentinean barbecues, and mint (full videos at the bottom of the page).

Fantasia '06: The Maid

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Singapore. Ah.

The action was happening in a house like this, oh so traditional Singapore/Southeast peninsula colonial arch. On the morning I had to catch my flight, I left my things in the lobby of the youth hostel on Joo Chiat and took a walk around Katong. Would not be surprised if the movie was actually shot in that neighborhood. I haven't been to other quarters of the city, but it would seem that many of the new areas are instead populated with square concrete residential towers that are made to house a lot of people (also shown in the movie).

I read an interview with Alessandra De Rossi, but can't figure out where. I need to find out in my newspaper archives. Maybe in the Straits Times. Vaguely, I recall reading something about maids, or someone talking about maids coming from abroad to provide much-needed help to families. It's a part of the culture over there (whether it's exclusively a Chinese practice, I don't know) to employ domestic helpers from the Philippines, Indonesia, most predominantly. You give away part of your salary to an extra hand, and spend more time at the office, etc. There is a Filipina lady who does the cleaning at our home with us, and who came to Canada with the family who employed her in Hong Kong. She worked for them for a while, and then moved on (got married, I think, but I never exactly asked) to do other things.

The Maid is an extremely recommendable (for the Singapore sightseeing too), and it plays again tomorrow (Sunday, July 9th) at 5:20PM in JA De Seve.

HK Magazine has a website. I've known about it for just a few months, but still... quite my favourite read, with the SCMP Sunday Magazine.

Half my family is leaving for HK tomorrow morning.

Fantasia '06: Tokyo Zombie

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Fantasia came a long way on the road of respectability. Its programme for the first few years were so plenty of English/French mistakes in translation that some free weeklies were mischievous enough to publish a Top 10 lists in within their pages. XD

Once, I went to see the Cowboy Bebop feature, and the movie just stopped for a few minutes at the exact moment when the monorail derails and the bad guy confronts and shoots Spike Spiegel, who falls in the water. Tonight, they did not have a 35mm version of the film, so instead used the DVD, but mislabelled the DVDs, causing us to watch up to fifteen minutes of another Japanese feature, God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand, a movie that I was hesitating to see at the benefit of seeing Funky Forest (so between creepy horror flick and bizarre comedy, I went for the latter). Noone actually reacted, until a few seconds upon seeing the other movie's title appear. I thought it might've been a long trailer, but it made sense up to then, if one didn't know Tokyo Zombie, the manga, with the salaryman during the first minute or looking quite like a faux-zombie.

After a few minutes (with the fifteen minutes of the film shown - enough time to rush to the nearest videostore to rent the movies' DVD, hah!), the film was shown, and the audience given its warm milk: an hour and a half of sliced heads and martial arts and blood and gore (so, not different from Seven Swords yesterday XD).

Fantasia '06: Seven Swords

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On Thursday night, after the movie finished (a 150 minutes marathon), I jogged to Guy-Concordia metro, and near the gates, upon hearing the arriving metro, sprinted down the escalator, and entered the metro wagon head-first (the doors closed three to five seconds later). All this jogging does indeed pay off. XD I then catched the 211 by one minute, and my father graciously picked me up at the stop of the second bus (which was done for the day, as it was 1AM when I got to Beaconsfield).

There were only a handful of late movies I saw at Fantasia, non-car situation and suburban place of residency obliges. A notable film that finished well into midnight was The Eye, the 2002 hit that was premiered in Montreal at Fantasia '03, and, if I remember correctly, had only one showing during the whole festival.

It was pretty full, but far from being a full house. I remember having to squeeze between full rows of people in the middle top section. I sort of expect commercial HK movies to be fuller than usual, b/c, not only do they draw usual Fantasia fans, but they also draw people like me five years ago, who would go to Fantasia only for the occasional commercial Asian film. Similarly, I believe that My Sassy Girl @ Fantasia '03 was quite a hit too for non-genre Fantasia viewers (now, I'm having a doubt: did I dl it, or did I actually go to the theatre room, or both?).

My first Fantasia movie was in 1999, and an old Stephen Chow film. The HK flicks remain my favourite, and annual must-see. If I had been around last year, I would've certainly seen One Nite In Mongkok and Breaking News. So basically, Seven Swords did not escape that rule.


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Went w/ Stephanie to the Flora outdoor arrangements competition thing at the Parc des Écluses, in the westmost part of the Old Port. It ends in mid-October, but it was so boring that I wouldn't recommend going unless you're in pleasant company, or actually have backyard fantasies. Not my forte, at least.

It was still nice (to get a good tan), but maybe I was expecting flowers to be at the front stage of the expo (for that, I'm better off going to the Botanical Garden). There are some striking "cubicules", like one made of poles spiking up at 10cm intervals, painted in dual colors, such that you saw red or blue depending of your positionning, or the trees transplanted on supports rocking to the rhythm of a pneumatic device.

Free agenct waltz

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I've never exactly followed free agents signings in the NHL during past seasons. I'm not sure why. But it seems impossible for our Canadiens to land anyone. Sure-to-be-with-Montreal Jason Arnott (big centre we need) was not signed, and we did not pull a huge transaction to get some Quebecois player making dough in the States (Gagne w/ Philly, or St-Louis/Lecavalier w/ TB - seriously, we don't have anything to give for them).


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To remind myself that next time I reboot my comp in Linux (on nights I'm lazy, I sell myself to the Devil), I need to try installing EasyUbuntu. It makes promises of solving my multimedia woes on AMD64. "Only stupid people install their Ubuntu in AMD64". It's a shame, but really, half the drivers on WinXP 64-bit work. Still too geeky to be early supporter, I guess?

I've been complaining a lot about the state of Chinese food and not doing anything about it. Or rather, not trying very hard to disprove my thesis (as human beings, we do try to be positive, better people, sometimes).

So tonight, I actually tried, and before catching Seven Swords, went to some random Chinese eatery I encountered one previous evening erring in the neighborhood. This one was at the ground floor of a residential tower on St-Marc, between De Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke, and I don't even know the name. It's adjacent to a Viet/Asian fast food joint, east side of the street.

We were very hungry, or the portions are deceivingly small. Whichever, it doesn't matter, because it gave us the chance to sample about 1/4 of the menu already. XD Wee took a soup noodles and roasted chicken leg combo, and I took a variation on the theme of cold noodles with chicken and cucumber noodles and that famous peanuts/chili sauce (which was indeed really spicy: I was, like, here, can I have the spicy, and the guy looked at me, and said, alright boy, how about I make it mild spicy for you? XD), and didn't have enough and got a beef dumplings soup (can't not be homemade, but five/six pieces for $4: comes at a premium), and we previously shared a wonton soup (pork-only, an alternate way to make wonton which I haven't seen much in other restaurants... maybe b/c it's cheaper that way, haha, but I like, nonetheless). It was a pleasant surprise...

I like that limited-time summer show Pour la suite des choses a lot. After interviewing Miss Chinese, Patrick Masbourian hosts a round table on the theme of visible minorities on Quebec TV, who are under-represented and hold stereotyped roles when they do happen to be shown. I don't know about that; I hardly watch any TV shows made in Quebec (last show I followed was probably during high school), and the only thing I do watch in French are the news, the food show on R-C, and RDS Canadiens hockey.

What is troubling is that from ads for these shows, there is indeed a disproportion of cultural communities in TV. Virginie, a long-running daily soap is 95% white French-Canadian (what school in Montreal is actually like this nowadays?). All the actors on TV are French. Etc, etc. I take note that there's Mao Bougon, played by an adopted Chinese girl (I think?), and a Vietnamese dude playing a gangster (I think who could've been from any background) in currently-running underworld series Casino, who take somewhat un-stereotyped roles (in appearance, cuz I haven't seen the shows).

For some weird reason, I've been in the top ten Google hits when looking for "Odaki Sushi". Odaki is already an uncommon Japanese term (might even just be a typo from a real romaji). Anyways, there are not a lot of reviews on Odaki sushi, just people blogging about it within the Montreal-based blogosphere. My review is by no means a review. All I did was complain that the food wasn't good, and that while well-groomed, the staff was unexperienced, I haven't been back since then (January or February, I think).

To Kanda, either, since I heard rumours that they increased their price to something outrageous, like $30-something (which proved to be totally false - unless they backed off). Been yesterday, and it's as good as usual. However, paying $28 (taxes, tips, tea incl.) all-you-can-eat is only a few dollars shy away from a regular "high-class" sushi place. Kanda does offer sushi that, while un-original in flavours, is generally good. It used to feature a smoking section, where we were parked twice b/c the dining room was too busy, but that's a thing of the past with the new smoking law. Unlike Odaki, the side dishes are fully part of the buffet. At Odaki, at least when I went, one was limited to a certain number (ten?) of side-dish items (teriaki chicken/salmon, shrimp tempura...). Odaki had vegetable tempura, which Kanda doesn't have (but they added small fish, and squid), although they were not the eggplant or sweet potato you usually find, but weird stuff like from the frozen vegetable mix you get at Cosco (brocolli, cauliflower ... carrots? o_O).

Both places bear huge similarities. They are both run by Chinese, they charge $20 for the buffet from Sunday to Thursday, and have that trendy environment with the well-groomed staff. Among people questionned, Wee prefers Kanda, Tenzin prefers Odaki, and so do some people on the dragon boat team. I've really got to try Odaki again (although it will be b/c other people drag me to it), to decide whether I just had a single bad food experience.

(Are both the two only known sushi buffet in downtown, that I know of. I realized that the city keeps being bigger than I thought.)

Fantastic to sublime. I especially like "Novabossa", and its English-covered/comic-ified version "Cat Bossa". Unfortunately, the server of my former student group seems to have crapped out this week, so no distribution. :/ (I haven't even been following the discussion, and since I haven't exactly helped them physically or spiritually (heh) for a while, is definitely not nice to ask what's up. The ups and downs of DIY.)

It's Clazziquai, or Clazziquai Project? I seem to be months late on the phenomenon, as the flist raved about this Korean band already 3-4 months ago. Things come around, I guess, so you might not have been caught by the first apparent wave, but can still catch up to the later ones. It's not original music per se, but it's the first non-boy/girl band or solo vocalist I've heard of Korea. They just stick out, just like when I discovered HK indiepop last year. You can probably qualify the music as dancy. R&B at times, jazzy too, even bossa nova (the songs afore-mentionned)... Brain cramp. Ok. It's a lot of "cool" things.

Damn, "Cat Bossa" is so cute. It goes, "gently pushing myself // get up and pat me // show me you care about me // feed me with healthy food".

As for bossa nova, it's cool to see it being sung in every language now, including Cantonese Chinese and Korean. I happen to have liked a French-singing Montreal band called Bet.e and Stef back in 1999-2000 [they seem dead since 2002, although I swear it wasn't so long ago that I've heard of them]. Don't know how they're faring, but have since then heard them at my uncle's, who is a fan of expensive loungy music (i.e., we sampled the latest Gotan Project last week during family dinner/bbq).

Fantasia '06: First batch

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Seven Swords, Jeudi 6 juillet, 9:30
Tokyo Zombie, Vendredi 7 juillet, 7:20
The Maid, Samedi 8 juillet, 5:10
A Chinese Tall Story, Dimanche 9 juillet, 4:45
Funky Forest, Jeudi 13 juillet, 7:20
The Great Yokai War, Samedi 22 juillet, 7:30
Re-Cycle, Dimanche 23 juillet, 7:00

We'll see if I can take more...

Patrick Masbourian is now hosting the 9-11:30AM show on Radio-Canada's Première Chaîne, and on Monday, he interviewed Miss Vicki Ng-Wan [asx clip - between the 27th and 40th minute], Miss Chinese Montreal 2006. The story was that after winning the contest in Montreal, she went to HK, did not agree to the terms of the contract (where she was legally bound to stay in HK for three years, she said), didn't sign, obviously got kicked out of the contest. She reports that another girl, from Malaysia, also went back home before the end of the contest.

Never followed beauty pageants, but it was nice to hear about something Chinese in the local medias (besides how the Mainland is crushing the world, etc - which was incidently a segment of today's show...). Most notably, Christy Chung was a winner of the Montreal contest in 1993, and went on to win HK's and become a big Canto-star in the mid-90s.

And I cooked... kebab

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So I finally acted upon my urge to make something Middle-Eastern/Central Asian. Lamb skewers and kebabs (raw), and tabouleh with a few ingredients missing...

The lamb skewers were inpired by Manchurian and Uighur restaurants I went to during the past year. For the skewers, it was lamb leg meat, cut in cubes and marinated in a lot of ground cumin, a bit less paprika and some olive oil, because the cumin wouldn't, err, dissolve. I added salt and a bit of sugar for taste.

The kebabs were ground beef, with ground fresh parsley, ground scallions in bulb or germinated, very little garlic (nothing I cook ever goes w/o garlic) allspice/Jamaican mix, and a zest of lemon for taste.

The salad is tabouleh/tabouli, less the bulgur wheat. Very easy to make, and a fine alternative to lettuce salad. Use a wad of parsley (curly leaf variety) and have it chopped. Press the juice from a single lemon. Throw in two diced Italian tomatoes. Douse with olive oil. It was a tad sour, so I'd maybe try adding some sugar or something next time.

There you go. If I had a summer party this year, then I'd probably be serving this type of alternative BBQ (along with Vietnamese bbq stuff).

Shopping by proxy

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My brother and mother are both leaving for HK next Saturday for 3 and 6 weeks respectively. It means... A two-people household for most of the summer. It also means shopping by proxy. Probably more intense this time, since I now know all about the goodies you can get from HK and not anywhere else. Mostly, it's the clothing: a bargain is to be found all the time. Another thing is consumer electronics, especially what's called "seuil fo", goods that some HK companies import from other markets and sell back without warranty or some minimal store warranty, but at a much reduced price (if you bargain right) and no taxes, b/c HK has no sales taxes.

Combined with a super favourable exchange rate (thank you Alberta), everything is cheap cheap cheap. A combo at McDonalds is about 3.50CAD (20-25HKD), as a reference, and has been the ruin of many visiting CBCs, ABCs. Curiously, a mezzo latte at Starbucks is also 20-25HKD, which is about the same price as in Canada. Foreign magazines and English newspapers (the SCMP) are particularly expensive - the SCMP is 7HKD, but then it caters to expats, visiting CBCs/ABCs. Obviously, one of the free weeklies in English has an upper-class yuppie feel to it (ads for expensive restaurants, beauty salons for men...).

I've been also shopping at Uni-Qlo, b/c I know they make cool designed tees. My first visit to a Uni-Qlo was in nowhere Iwate town Ichinoseki, on the Tohoku Shinkansen line between Sendai and Morioka, where Uri picked me up to drive me to the village where he teaches English. The store looks and feels like a Gap, and yet, I am not very used to the type of clothes they sell. Maybe it's trendier, per Western standards? Or simply, the different styles makes me feel as if it's trendier. In any case, the HK prices are about like in Japanese stores, which is more affordable than in NA or Europe for nice nice clothes. I looked at prices, and while I think Uni-Qlo in the Chinese market (another Uni-Qlo I've been to was the one near Xintiandi in Shanghai's old French Concession) positions itself as more higher-class, even if it's about the equivalent of Old Navy in Japan, just like the usual HK shops (Giordano, Bossini, Baleno, etc) sell at about their HK prices on the Mainland despite the different standard of living.

But still, shopping at Uni-Qlo is probably still cheaper than shopping at Gap... You get the trendiness at a bargain, what an easy win-win situation...

Bombay Choupati

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There might be a Little India in Montreal, and it's on Des Sources / Pierrefonds. Around the same corner, we can count at least three Indian restaurants. There are also other ethnic restaurants and grocery stores (Chinese, and Arabic/Mediterranean - as the Adonis Supermarket is just a bit down on Des Sources), which seems much less White as the area where I live in.

(As an aside, the mini shopping strip nearby where I live does happen to have a "Chinese Restaurant", probably held by Cantonese, that serves the usual combo of "Thai-Szechuan", with a back kitchen that smells like any Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, but with prices and setting that is more suitable for business types and impressionable suburbanites. There's also a sushi restaurant.)

I went with my parents to eat at Bombay Choupati, which is located in the commercial strip at the opposite corner than the Super C's, and facing the Tim's, on Gouin-Des Sources. Went there a few months before for a small high school gang get-together, as my friends wanted something in the West Island, while I wanted something "special". But in the West Island, if you don't look, all you're going to find are Italian restaurants with servings that are too big and which make you feel as if you've eaten an anchor with diced tomatoes on it. So, while remembering eating at an Indian restaurants a few years ago (which was closed), my mother suggested "Bombay Choupati", which her coworker suggested.

Last time, we had stuff from the combo menu. It wasn't a very busy day - a Sunday maybe, 5-ish, and since my friends and I didn't know anything about Indian food, we got the usual stuff, combo-ified (butter chicken, curry, or chicken tandori). This time around, with my parents, the restaurant (maybe 30-35 seats at most) was fully packed, and we had to stand for 20 minutes. The good thing, is that we had the chance to visually sample what people took, which, besides the usu stews, also included giant folded pancakes, chip-like appetizers, and shells of various sizes. I forgot the name of the crepe, but according to this review, it's called a "masala", and it's lentils based! We ordered some of the shells, the bite-sized ones, which you have to break the top and put filling in it (potatoes, fresh coriander and chick peas) with a bit of tamarind water.

It's worth going back (the day I decide to pass my license - which is another story, but yesterday, I spent an hour or so in an Canada-Day-empty parking lot in my second time ever behind the wheel, practicing manual transmission...), as the lady cunningly points out, because there's always something new to try on the menu (perhaps a different shell, different combo of filling?).

For the main dish, I tried the chicken tandoori, while my parents went for the chicken and goat curry (I also had a veg curry on the side). The combos are served in those metallic trays, which I've seen at Jolee - a constant at Indian subcontinental restaurants? The naan bread was great, with what seems to be liquid butter spread on it for the addiction factor. I had a sweet yogurt drink - homemade (it's lassi).

Around $60 for three, with taxes/tips. Credit cards accepted, but no Interac.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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