Canadian Oscars

So it's been another year and the Oscars (or rather, Academy Awards) are on again. This year, for a change, I had to watch the coverage of the red carpet walks, as done by Ben Mulroney and Tanya Kim. It was horrible. Absolutely atrocious. Ben pointed out that two people were just "over there", and they cut to a camera zoom-in view of the back of one person's head. I mean, come on.

What's even sadder (through no fault of Ben's) is that Americans just don't know much (or nearly anything) about Canadians. (I'm not blaming them for this.) And when they're all glitzed up, they're only interested in glamouring with their familiar shows: Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E Online. So you'll see that half the stars will politely not give CTV the time of day. Another quarter of them will graciously smile and nod or wave to acknowledge that there is a person and a CTV camera there -- but from a safe distance away, and without even stopping.

Then you have the rest of them, who probably happened to be speaking with an adjacent press crew and haplessly wandered too close to our host Mulroney. They get snatched by Ben, who has to introduce himself, after which they still have no clue who he is. They really don't, and you can tell with their plastic oh-of-course-how-are-you-Ben responses.

So what does he do when he's worked so hard for a few seconds of these very few stars? He pesters them about any Canadian connection they have.

"How is it to work with so-and-so-Canadian-star?"
"Oh, you had your premiere at so-and-so-place in so-and-so-Canadian-city. How was that?"
"You look great. What perfume are you wearing?" (He finishes this one off with an I'm-wearing-Prada statement.)

Of course, the stars don't know a thing. So the answers are all vague and generic, without substance. Even from the most eloquent and articulate celebrities. But finally, he pulls the "[enter your Canadian region of choice here] misses you" crap, to which the obvious cookie cutter response is that the star will say they miss [Canadian region] too.

Seriously, Ben? I mean, seriously?

Of course, in the midst of all this, he is constantly cutting them off after half a sentence. Then he's frantically waving his mic between himself and the interviewee so that you can't hear half of the words being said. That's what you get when you send a little boy to the Oscars, and he's completely giddy from meeting the big stars: lousy media coverage that made me watch the last half of The Simpsons instead.

[ Oh wait, the Entertainment Tonight guys are doing the "official" Oscars interviews now, on their own platform. Okay, let's see what that's like. ]

That Voice

Have you seen the movie trailers for The Grudge and Boogeyman? You know the guy who does the voiceovers in them, with that deep, eerie voice? Do you think his children ask him not to read them bedtime stories?

One for the Canadian Chefs

I love Iron Chef, but not so much the original Japanese series as the Iron Chef America ones. (Maybe I'm partial because Alton Brown narrates them.) And it's amazing what the chefs can do in the heat of battle, as a testament to their culinary know-how and nimble cooking.

So it's with great pride that I announce that Rob Feenie has won an Iron Chef battle. His cuisine reigns supreme! Says who? Says the judges. reports that Feenie triumphed over Masaharu Morimoto, which is good, because that guy is a tad bit cocky.

So for you Vancouver locals, if you haven't yet been there, work your way to Feenie's retaurant named (duh) Feenie's. I'm sure they'll be even more booked now, dammit.

Great, now I need to download that episode. I hate not having Food Network here.

Fine, don't leave one.

People constantly call my place. Ring, ring, ring ... click, and the answering machine comes on. And then you hear:

"Doooooooooooooo ..."

Nothing. Just a dial tone. They don't even leave a message.

And that makes me wonder whether the caller really had anything in any value to say in the first place, if it wasn't even worth leaving a quick message. After all, we always say:

"Well, if it's important, they'll call back."

(Although, what if it was their one call from the police station, and they just wasted it to talk to your answering machine? But I guess if that were the case, they really would have regretted hanging up without leaving a message. Serves them right.)

But then, we all do that. We've all done it at one time or another -- be honest, sure you have -- and at the time, we had our reasons for just hanging up on the machine without so much as leaving a message. So, let's have it out, then. When do you decide not to leave a message, and why?

Dunno What It Means, But It's Permanent

Okay, I have to say something about the improper uses of Chinese characters ("han zi") / Japanese kanji.

While doing my daily random browsing (while trying to "focus" in between real work), I stumbled across a rather interesting site: Hanzi Smatter. The site/blog collects these "improper use" sights found on the streets and then disects the meanings. Funny stuff. (Some are a little far off, as in they're stretching it far, just to ridicule the phrases. But eh, still funny.)

This phenomenon has slowly grown popular amongst non-Asians largely because the characters have this "cool look" to them. The forms of the words, the brush strokes and stylistic shapes, they just look cool. Never mind, of course, what it means.

But please, people, do a little research.

Especially if you're going to tattoo it on you.

Sure, I've thought (in passing) that if I were to get a tattoo, I'd want a single Chinese character, and small. But (1) I haven't yet found a single word that encompasses what I want to project, (2) I don't want to be a tattooed thug-lookin' grandpa, and (3) hell no I ain't going through that pain.

The Price Is Right?

Now that the recent "holiday" is over, here's a question I've always wondered about.

How much do you spend on a gift for your significant other? And how does this compare to how much you spend on other people?

I know that answers will come back running the gamut. Some couples don't really buy presents. Some spend a lot -- I know a guy who bought his now-wife a really nice mountain bike for their anniversary or something, back when they were dating. Some only buy for their loved ones, and not so much for the friends. Some buy something for everyone, no matter how small.

Let me know roughly where you stand along that line; more isn't necessarily better. This'll be interesting to see!

... and Violets are Blue

Ah, perhaps the most over-rated "holiday" of the year comes upon us once more. A day that annually strongarms us into showing our affections/emotions for our special someones (as applicable). The one holiday out of the year that's almost specifically targeted at alienating the single people who haven't succumbed to societal expectations to take that "logical" next step in life towards interdependency and compromise. And a day that we all somehow accept and follow along with quietly (baa baa). As if everyday shouldn't already be a day that we're celebrating our love, right?

Now, I'm not necessarily against Valentine's Day, but I'm also not especially for this day either. Take this month as a reminder for those you love -- near and far, said and unsaid -- instead of having to hone in on this one day.

This is the one day for which the majority of cut flowers are sold. Today, we'll all watch as flower prices skyrocket, and men all over the world reluctantly hand their credit cards over to giddy florists. A dozen decent roses will run these fellows upwards of $80, if they want them with greens and baby's breath -- which sounds like an option, but really isn't.

You can't just buy one -- protocol for this day explicitly dictates you buy 12. Don't believe me? Read the unwritten handbook from last year, aka your significant other's expectations. And if the quality and size of the rosebud weren't enough, florists and conspired to differentiate their products by the length of the stems attached!

I am against buying roses, though. Personally. In my life, I've probably only bought roses on three occasions, and never have I purchased a dozen reds, and never on Valentine's Day. Instead, I opt to buy flowers of different types: daisies, tulips, larkspurs, stargazers (which, when white, are actually called Monte Carlos). And never red, if I can help it.

Flat-Out Fun

Though it's becoming less commonplace in today's lax office dress codes, some men still need to (or want to) go to work in dress shirts. Of course, this means ironing the shirts. Either everyday, or in batches on a regular basis. For some of us, this can amount to a good chunk of time, and we'd do anything to reduce that.

So the question for today is, how do you iron your (or your man's) shirts? And tips and tricks to share with us? For my procedure, I have my French 12 teacher to thank; she somehow got to talking about it one day, and detoured our class topic into the "proper" method for ironing shirts. I'll recap it as best as I can here.

  • Sleeves. (The sleeves are the mostly likely to get rumpled up when you wear it, even before you get to work, so we start with those.) Follow the inner-arm seam to get the crease straight. Pleats in the sleeve area suck bigtime -- I hate those.
  • Cuffs. Undo the button and open up the cuff to get it nice and flat. Do the inside, then the outside.
  • Back. Do the back, starting from the shoulder line down to the bottom hem. I like to "hook" it off the wide end of the ironing board to keep that shoulder taut, and I do the "far" side of the back first, so that when you're done that, you shift the shirt away from you, so as not to get kicked or trampled by your legs/feet. And if you have a pleat in the center back, I recommend doing it after the rest of the back is already ironed.
  • Front. Next is the front -- one side, then the other. I dodge the iron point between the buttons while keeping the shirt tight with the other hand. I iron the breast pocket from the bottom up, so it doesn't stretch out that "lip". I also don't worry too much if I don't get the side waist area perfect, since that's going to get wrecked as soon as I wear the shirt too.
  • Shoulder. Sometimes I do another once over on the shoulders (because they're kind of the vertical parts overhanging while your shirt is flat). Depends on how they look.
  • Collar. The last part is the crisp, clean collar we like on those shirts. I flip it up (please remove the collar stays) and iron it from the "underside", the side that will be hidden when you're wearing it. Then I fold it down, and blast some steam on the folded seam. This is kind of tricky, while taking care not to wrinkle the freshly-ironed parts of the shirt.
  • Hang it and admire your work. There. 1 down, 4 to go.

The main idea is to iron the parts in reverse order of "crisp importance", because the first parts you iron will be slightly wrinkled as you move the shirt around to get everything else. So best parts last. The collars get most noticed, so you want to make sure they're last. Sleeves are wrinkled anyhow, so you may as well get them done first.

Now, I make no claims that this is the fastest way. It's just the way I was shown. and eHow seem to have different variations on it. It probably takes me between 10 and 15 minutes to rattle through a shirt, depending on pleats and material. Of course, the easy way out is to buy one of those steamers that those clothing stores have. Or a lazy suzie. Or one of these blow-up ironing things. But they don't get you those nice creases on the sleeves.

Look Under the Cap!

Want some iTunes? You don't have to keep drinking so much Pepsi now. Apparently, this old trick from the last contest still works with the newest contest! I'm gonna try some. I mean, I like Pepsi anyway, and it would be fun to have a legitimate song.

Food for One

An interesting topic on Head Dump brought up some discussion about cooking simply and easily, while breaking the vicious instant noodle menu template. The main problem is that cooking for one person isn't really economical -- the cost of your ingredients often exceeds the cost of going out for a quick meal. Especially if you're cooking Chinese food. So then most of us resort to instant and processed frozen and canned foods, but most of these instant foods are high in carbs and high in sodium. (Take a look at your can of beef/chicken soup.)

Thankfully, there are ways around this. I mean, you're better off buying something like the rotisserie chicken at Costco, which will easily feed you for a few days with a variety of meat: dark meats to eat on their own, white meats to heat up (nuke) over your ready-made salads.

Salads are very convenient, and dirt cheap at Costco; slightly more at Safeway. (Buy the jet-washed stuff to remove final excuses not to eat your veggies.) Plus, you can use it with any meat into a sandwich with little work.

And I love buying those country-mix frozen veggies (peas, carrots, beans, corn), which microwave quickly in a bowl of water with a tiny sprinkle of salt and optional sliver of butter. Two minutes, drain the water out, and you've got a veggie side on the table!

What I find works is "strategically" buying groceries. I buy a few things that I have to eat that day or the next before they'll be not-so-appetizing; raw seafood, for example, are best eaten soon. I buy a few things that will last nicely for a few more days; sometimes steaks are good for this, and fresh ripe fruit. And then some things can last a little bit longer (ie. 4+ days) like deli meats (when packaged right) and fruit that aren't quite ripe and some of the bready stuff.

I find that if you pre-cut or pre-slice some staple ingredients and freeze them, cooking is made infinitely easier. I usually pre-julienne my ginger, slice up green onions, pre-dice regular onions, and pre-proportion the pesto sauce (in an ice tray) to freeze them -- then all stored in freezer-grade ziplock bags. So whenever I need some of those, it's not another task to get them ready -- just reach in and grab whatever you need! (If you freeze and store it right, you can avoid freezer burn on it.

And then always keep a small selection of decently healthy frozen foods (TV dinners or nuker snacks) to tide you over in case you're really in a bind. (Snack bars or trail mix nuts work too.) Then you're ready to go.

Damn, now I'm hungry.

Photo Forgotten

I spent a very long time in selecting the "right" digital camera for my needs and wants. With a digital camera, I know that if it's too bulky or heavy, I won't take many pictures with it because I'll simply not carry it with me much. So I'd rather spend a tad bit more and get a camera that is light and compact, and can "follow me" wherever I go -- that's when the value in having a camera comes out!

So I bring it with me to the malls sometimes, to all the parties I (used to) go to, and snowboarding! You never know when you might catch a Kodak moment, right? Problem is, I get to the restaurant for a get-together dinner with an out-of-town visitor (or friend visiting home) and unload my BatBelt of gadgets -- phone, keys, camera, Bluetooth headset -- into a little pile in the corner of the table or on the side somewhere. And that's where it sits through the meal, even when all the food is cleared away, leaving only water/tea rings and crumpled napkins. Hardly worthy of a photo.

But that's not when I remember it. I only remember that I have my camera (and that I want a photo) when we're getting up to leave. And that's, quite frankly, too late for a photo that does justice to the evening. It's also why I have so many photos of get-together dinners: all of us standing together outside the restaurant (or in the main reception area of the place) just before we all part ways. I hate that.


I've taken a recent liking to the show Monk, which is about a genius SF detective who is obsessive-compulsive and has a personal nurse to help him deal with all those OCD tendencies. Despite his disorder (which started after the unsolved murder of his wife), he gets sent on cases that require him to be in sewers or deal with rather amusingly unsanitary conditions. I think I really take to his character because he notices little anal details that I would too (except for the ones that would eventually solve the case).

Heck, I probably have OCD. But we all have our little quirky habits. Routines or regular preferences that we do, whether it's because we can't stand it when it's not that way or because we feel just that little bit more comfortable when it is. I've already written about my Starbucks cup routine, and there's lots more I haven't yet written about. What are some of yours?