Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Victoria Day weekend: The Doings

I had a pretty great long weekend there with R-Lang visiting from Connecticut. I took off Friday and Tuesday (Monday was a holiday here, Victoria Day).

I spent most of Friday cleaning up my apartment... never really did finish the job; never will, I imagine. I guess I'm not my mother's son in this regard. Was always lazy, and always resented housework. Living alone, I let the place get in a state before I do anything about it. This usually results in weekend-long bouts of cleaning every month or two that are quickly undone over the course of the following week... but hey. It does get done. :)

He was due in at 5:02, so I left my place at 3:45 to get to the airport. Tons of time! Or so I thought. The 401 was just creeping. Naturally, just as I was getting to the exit to the 409, the highway that actually goes into the airport, cop cars and fire engines rush past me. Obvious conclusion is there's an accident ahead. Yup. Sign tells me it's blocking the two right lanes before Islington Ave. These are, of course, the exit to Hwy 409. So I got off at Weston Road and headed north to Finch. At Finch, it took three lights to turn left because assholes there will continue to turn left for about three days after the light turns red for them and green for anyone else, eating up the advanced greens. I gave the asshole in the van who did this to us the finger, and promptly went on to do the same myself. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Fuck 'em. I had to get to the airport, and if courtesy's dead, I'll spin my tires on its corpse too.

I got to the airport about 5:30. In the distance, I actually saw R-Lang milling around, but he didn't spot me, and he vanished behind a bank of phones. I caught up to him just before he made the call. It was great to see him again and as we put his stuff in the trunk, he presented me with two three-disk sets of the Benny Hill Show. I couldn't believe it. So I now have the whole show from 1969-1974 or so, I think. We ended up watching the first three disks over the course of his stay. Not everything Benny did was funny, but man, when he hit the mark, it was laugh-out-loud hilarity.

We headed up to an Indian restaurant in Malton called the Dawat, which is traditional on his arrival. Closed for renovation. Cripes. Nice fucking timing, boys; first long weekend of the "summer". Did you pick it out of a hat, or are you really that stupid? Anyway, we went on to an Indian restaurant I know in Markham (Jikoree), which I think R-Lang preferred anyway. At least, he said the naan was better, though he felt it was blasphemy to say so. We had an eggplant paste (quite good, in fact; guilt-free till he told me it was actually full of oil) and Tandoori chicken.

Saturday we were due to link up with P-Doug so we headed down to East York to his place, walked to the Main St. subway station, bought day passes, and headed downtown. We went to the National Film Board, the new computerized displays that opened just days after R-Lang's last visit. We spent most of the time watching animated shorts, although R-Lang indulged me and we also watched Ryan, a film about 1960s NFB animator Ryan Larkin. The film won the Oscar recently. P-Doug, who was doing his own thing, came up and asked if I'd shown him Cactus Swing yet, and we watched that one too. After about two hours, we were ready to eat, and we went looking for P-Doug. Guy was invisible! We couldn't see him anywhere. He did find us as we left the place. He'd been sitting behind a pillar or something. We went to one of the Firkin pubs and began the long weekend of indulging in fatty foods. Burgers, fries, onion rings, beer. Nice warm sunshine; interesting and/or attractive people wandering by... it was everything I hoped it would be. We caught the subway to Queen's Park, couldn't get in; wandered up to the Royal Ontario Museum but they were rebuilding it so we didn't get into the gift shop, though we did agree the "crystal" section they're adding on will be an eyesore. After that, we caught the subway again, wandered through Nathan Philips Square on the way to Yonge St. We made our way through the Eaton Centre and then went to HMV and Sam the Record Man. After that, we caught the subway again to eat on the Danforth. R-Lang and I got off at Chester, and P-Doug went on back to Main to link up with G. R-Lang and I got us a place outside the Poppas Restaurant, and he ordered a couple of appetizers I'd never seen in my life before. One was a flakey pastry filled with spinach and the other was vine leaves stuff with rice and ground meat. I still don't know why, but it took P-Doug forever to get back with G and park; most of an hour. During that time, the temperature fell and it was less comfortable outdoors (I was in shorts; fine all day till then), but we toughed it out and ate well. I had chicken souvlaki and rice and Greek salad. Great stuff. Afterwards we all went to Dezzerts where I, for once, managed to avoid temptation. The coffee and conversation were just fine; I honestly didn't feel at all deprived. Though I did sample the sweet goo left on various plates afterwards. :)

That evening we watched the first half of Team America World Police. It was pretty funny alright, but the famed puppet sex scene included some scat elements that went beyond the pale for me, and I won't be sorry if I miss that scene next time I watch the movie. But otherwise, they nicely pushed the envelope.

P-Doug and G suggested meeting up with us at The Great Khan between 11:30 and noon. Just before we headed out, R-Lang suggested calling them. Turned out to have been a good idea indeed; P-Doug had not roused G yet, and hinted that was my fault for not calling him at 10:30 as he'd understood I would. Given the number of times they've promised to call me "on our way out the door" only to actually do so as they drove past the intersection of Sheppard and Don Mills, giving me two minutes to shower and dress, I was a bit put off by that suggestion, not to mention the fact that it was clearly understood we'd be meeting them there at an appointed hour. As it was, we postponed heading out for an hour and met them there at 12:30. We ate well, and I remarked, only half-jokingly, to R-Lang that sprouts tend to make me gassy (sometimes they do, sometimes they don't). About the time we arrived at the Ontario Science Centre, they did. As we visited the space section -- essentially a large, donut-shaped room -- I quietly vented. And it was a powerful force of nature, despite its stealth. Moments later from behind us came the comment from a little girl entering that "it stinks in here", and her mother first agreeing, then cutting herself off as she observed what the smell likely was. R-Lang and I both fought to maintain our composure but moments later, at another display, we both fell into a fit of giggles. It was a classic moment that only men can understand. :) Serendipity was with us; the day before, while meeting up with P-Doug at his place, we encountered his neighbour Joanne, who works at the OSC, and furnished us with a free group pass. It saved us about $30. I think the Science Centre is somewhat underwhelming, myself; it's probably just that we live in an age where we're extremely difficult to impress. I imagine R-Lang felt the same way but was too polite to slag the place in front of me. IMAX might have been a little more interesting, but the timing wasn't right, and somehow, it would have taken the cool edge off the place if we'd (or rather, probably, R-Lang; let's be honest here) had wound up paying for anything. We got in free and to the best of my recollection, didn't pay a dime aside from parking (which we also could have avoided by parking elsewhere and walking for a few minutes). So in a way I'm glad we skipped that.

Sunday evening, we had pizza. Pizza and beer, while we watched movies. Hey, that's what it's all about, right?

Monday we set off for St. Jacobs. Our first stop was Picard's, where in spite of the promises I made to myself, I spent about $12 on chocolates. We split a peanut butter bar in the car; it half melted, but we recovered it. As for R-Lang, he bought about $90 worth of stuff, mostly as gifts for people back in Connecticut. After that we went to The Crossroads, and I ate well, but fairly sensibly for once, the Boston cream pie slice notwithstanding. It was good food, things that R-Lang liked, and he seemed surprised that it was rather less expensive than he'd anticipated, though irked that the coffee was not included in the buffet. He has a point there; if coffee's all you're having, I can see charging, but if you're doing the buffet, you're going to want to drink something. A coffee or soft drink could be folded in there and cost the place virtually nothing.

After that, we went to St. Jacobs proper. We spent an hour or so in the antique shop where I found a number of old books and got them pretty cheaply. While we were there, the fellow running the place put on a record (and I do mean an LP), and the music was really pleasant. I remembered to ask him what it was. It was Eric Clapton's 1985 album Behind the Sun. I checked for a track list this morning on the net and Knock On Wood, which I remember hearing, was on there, so I know that was the one. I'll have to see if Sam's has that downtown. Maybe I'll call. Anyway, after that, we went into the market we usually go. P-Doug was right; they've been extensively rebuilding it. The hot sauce shop is now on the ground floor. It was closed momentarily when we got there (turns out the woman manning the register was in the washroom), so we amused ourselves making fun of the kitsch in the souvenir shop next door. Then the hot sauce joint opened up and it was all business! They didn't have that "Z" stuff I was looking for so she showed me a number of other hot sauces. There were some good ones, and I finally settled on a sweet apple cinnamon one, and another very hot one that came in a clever wooden case. After that, R-Lang and I headed back to Toronto, where we ate at Swiss Chalet on Leslie. He had the chicken and ribs combo (shared a rib with me; very tender) and I had the Santa Fe chicken sandwich.

Inevitably, Tuesday rolled around, and it was time for R-Lang to head home. He booked a later flight so we could linger a little. We headed for Perkin's on Dixon Road, but the 401 was ridiculous (we saw it on the Weather Network), so I headed west on Finch. R-Lang remembered a drawing I'd done years ago with a wild rabbit doe at the corner of Jane and Finch and asked if we'd be passing it, so rather than head down to Lawrence at Bayview, I asked if he cared to just keep heading west on Finch. He agreed, and had the chance to snap a couple of shots at that intersection. It'll be interesting to see if they come out. We turned south at Martin Grove and ate at Perkin's, per the plan. R-Lang had the breakfast with the twelve items he'd been craving (damn him for being so thin!), and I had an omlette with hash browns and a pancake. I took him to the airport and saw him off... these days, once you check in your baggage, you go with it. So that was that.

I headed home up Airport Road but did a deke onto Morningstar Drive to see the bridge they built over the 427. I was telling R-Lang that when I first started driving, they actually had a red light intersection there on the highway to give people access to Morningstar, and I can't imagine how many accidents that must have caused. It's long gone, but as I drove over the bridge, I glanced right and caught sight of the old road surface snaking up the side of the hill, all cracked and broken and getting overgrown. Made me realize how much time has been passing.

I got home about 12:15 and decided to go to the mall. I ended up seeing Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. Best of the recent three, without a doubt, and for me, one of the better of the six. They did pull a lot of stuff right out of their ass at the end to tie things up, but I don't mind. It hung together well enough, and the transformation of Anekin (did I spell that right?) was believable enough.

There... I think that's about all there is to say on all that. :)

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