November 2009

Math is for Liberal Elitists, Anyway

by Joey deVilla on November 26, 2009

Have you ever had a coach that asked you to “give 110 percent”? Judging from the infographic below, 193 is the new 110:

FOX Pie chart showing support for Republican candidates for 2012: 70% back Palin, 63% back Huckabee, 60% back Romney

If you’re going for sheer entertainment value and nothing else, back Palin. It would be like watching a real-life, large-scale version of Marat/Sade.


Happy American Thanksgiving!

by Joey deVilla on November 26, 2009

Hey, American readers! Whether you celebrate with the smooth flavour of Camel cigarettes as shown in the ad below or if you’re one of those conspiracy nuts who thinks smoking is bad for you, I’d like to wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

(Can’t read the text in the ad below? Click it to see it at full size.)

Old ad showing how Camel cigarettes are an important part of Thanksgiving dinner


Sacha Chua’s “The Shy Connector”

by Joey deVilla on November 25, 2009

My friend Sacha Chua is not someone who you’d think of as an introvert, but she is. Hang out in Toronto’s tech scene and sooner or later, you’ll catch one of her presentations, which she does with all with the energetic bounce that is her stock in trade. She considers technology evangelism and outreach not just part of her job, but part of her life. She has hundreds of blog subscribers, Facebook followers and LinkedIn contacts, and her Twitter followers number in the thousands. Despite all her public appearances, blog entries, and vast social network, she’s still an introvert.

There’s a reason the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has endured: it’s true (so true, in fact, that Malcolm Gladwell has done quite well for himself telling stories based on this particular nugget of wisdom). Wonderful things arise from opportunities, opportunities often come from connections and the some of the best connections are “weak ties”: those casual acquaintances who exist slightly outside our regular circles and who thus have information that we might otherwise never acquire. For a madly-grinning accordion-playing extrovert like Yours Truly, gathering weak ties is quite easy, and I’ve parleyed many a weak tie into an opportunity.

But what if you’re not an extrovert? Can introverts make the connections that can make the difference between getting by and getting ahead? The answer is yes, by playing to introversion’s strengths, taking advantage of some tools and following the steps in Sacha’s presentation, The Shy Connector, which I’ve included below:


This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


A Bad Experience at Wasabi

by Joey deVilla on November 22, 2009

 Wasabi Restaurant, 1730 Bloor Street West. The Verdict: Decent food, scatterbrained "service"

All I wanted was my dinner. After an early morning flight back to Accordion City from Calgary and enough work to keep me from getting a decent lunch, I was looking forward to a nice dinner with The Missus at Wasabi (1730 Bloor Street West, at Keele), the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant that had opened a few blocks away from our home.

Wasabi’s menu is not unlike those at other local all-you-can-eat sushi places like Aji Sai. It comprises a selection of sushi, sashimi, tempura, donburi and other things that can be made quickly and cheaply and can provide a lot of bang for your twenty bucks.

It’s the busiest restaurant that’s ever opened at that corner. When we walked in on Friday night, we saw a full restaurant bustling with all sorts of people: groups of young friends having dinner before a night out, many young families with strollers in tow, solo diners who brought some reading material with them, couples out for an end-of-week meal and so on. At first glance, the place appeared to be the next neighbourhood hit.

It took a little while for someone to take our order. We chalked it up to the place’s newness; it often takes a restaurant a little while to work the kinks out of its system during its “shakedown phase” and get a sense of how busy they’ll be. They appeared understaffed, and the the staff they had clearly weren’t used to working in a busy restaurant.

The orders we did manage to get were, for the most part, decent. The seafood tempura was done right, the dynamite roll was tasty and the edamame was well, edamame. After that, no food came to our table for a good while.

After asking around, we discovered that our order had been sent to the wrong table. We were still willing to forgive this mistake and place another order, and the waitress apologized and told us she’d be right back with a notepad. Hey, it’s an all-you-can-eat place, and most of the stuff was the kind that other places can make quickly.

She never came back. A good quarter-hour, complete with a lot of waves to the waitress, has passed without any service. It was clearly time for plan B.

“Enough already. Pizza slice?” I asked Wendy, gesturing to the Pizza Pizza across the street.


We walked up to the front, told the staff that our order had been served to the wrong table and no one had attempted to correct the mistake. Another customer who was standing at the counter said “Yeah, they screwed up my order, too.”

We also told them that we weren’t paying, and walked out. They gave no reply other than confused looks, tilted heads and stunned silence – not even an “I’m sorry". This sort of reaction is the hallmark of complete incompetence and the front-of-house staff treat the place as many similar people do: the restaurant’s just a place that provides a paycheque in exchange for you just showing up.

As we walked towards the pizza place, we ran into our neighbours Chris and Wanda, who were heading to Wasabi to try them out, and warned them away from the place. Consider this blog entry the same warning to the rest of the world: Wasabi is run by scatterbrains, and if you’d actually like some service, go elsewhere.


Goodnight Keith Moon

by Joey deVilla on November 22, 2009

As a reader of this blog, chances are that someone read Goodnight Moon to you when you were a child:

goodnight moon

And as a reader of this blog, chances are that you like offbeat humour and have at least a passing interest in rock and roll. This means that chances are you might enjoy the darkly amusing parody Goodnight Keith Moon: 

goodnight keith moon

Here’s a snippet showing the opening spread:

in the great green room

Quick cultural references: Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who and died of a drug overdose in 1978 in the same flat where “Mama” Cass Elliot (of The Mamas and the Papas) died four years earlier


My Morning on CBC Radio’s “GO!”

by Joey deVilla on November 21, 2009

08 hot or not segmentGO!’s host Brent Bambury gets the audience warmed up before the show.

A little while back, Jeff Goodes, producer for CBC Radio One’s Saturday morning flagship show GO!, emailed me asking if I’d like to do a radio appearance on a show featuring some kind of music-related contest. I said “of course!” and ended up at CBC studios to record today’s episode earlier this morning.

01 jeff preps the audience GO!’s producer Jeff Goodes explains things to the audience before the show.

The theme of today’s show was “Spin the Wheel of GO!”, in which Wheel of Fortune- and I Ching-style randomness would supposedly determine what would appear and what would happen on the show. I had a lot of fun doing the show, and you can hear the fun by heading down to GO!’s audio archives, scrolling down to the show marked 11/21/2009 – Spin the Wheel of GO! and clicking the “Play” button.

click here to go to go

When I arrived just after 8:30 a.m., I was escorted to the green room, where the indie-folk strains of Kate Rogers and her band could be heard as they performed a number for a sound check. It sounded great and I made a mental note to buy their CD after the show.

07 kate rogers and bandKate Rogers and her band.

kate rogersKate Rogers (photo courtesy of the CBC).

I got to meet my fellow guests Teodora, who would be “competing” against me in musical trivia games, and Shin, a guitarist who’d just come to Accordion City from Japan. He would provide music for one of the music trivia games.

05 shin plays guitarShin playing guitar.

ShinShin (photo courtesy of the CBC).

At 9:30, after Brent and Jeff quickly gave the audience the “this is how things work on this show” explanation and handed out some prizes to the audience for answering trivia questions, and the recording session began.

02 brent warms up the audienceBrent warms up the audience.

The first music trivia game that Brent had Teodora and me play was “The Japanese Guitarist”, in which Shin played slowed-down versions of popular tunes on guitar and sang the lyrics in Japanese. I scored half-points for identifying Flo Rida’s Right Round as Dead or Alive’s You Spin Me Round, the song from which Flo Rida took the sample.

teodoraTeodora (photo courtesy of the CBC).

I completely failed to identify the second song he played for me as Avril Lavigne’s Sk8r Boi, which I should’ve done, since I played the song on accordion on MuchMusic’s Much on Demand show a few years back.

03 teodora and brentTeodora and Brent.

Around that time, Katherine Burrell took a seat beside me at the table. She and Brent did a bit on Michael Jackson’s “Secret CIA file”, after which they cut to some music. During that lull, she took a closer look at my accordion, which I was wearing, and ran her hand down its side.

“Did you just stroke his accordion?” Brent asked, incredulously.

“I get that all the time,” I said, with what was probably a smirk. Ah, the things that never make it to broadcast…

04 brentBrent Bambury.

The next trivia game was “This Is It”, featuring questions about Michael Jackson. I cleaned up – and surprised myself – with the depth of my Michael Jackson knowledge.

joeyYours Truly (photo courtesy of the CBC).

The final trivia game was the “Foxy Roxy” game, in which Teodora and I answered questions about British art-rock band Roxy Music. I didn’t do too badly with this one, correctly identifying the Roxy Music single that Bill Murray performed at a karaoke bar in Lost in Translation as More Than This.

joey and accordionYours Truly on accordion (photo courtesy of the CBC).

I did much worse with my attempt at performing Roxy Music’s Avalon on accordion. I have no idea why – for the most part, it’s a three-chord song that I should’ve been able to squeeze out in even the most drunken of states. I’m just terrible at playing songs in the key of F. Clearly I need more practice.

(I thought I did a half-decent job of emulating Bryan Ferry’s “I just had a good hard shag” vocals.)

I just hope that Bryan Ferry can forgive me for murdering his song.

After that, we had another performance by the Kate Rogers Band:

06 kate rogers and band

After which the show wrapped up and Brent tooks questions from the audience:

09 brent answers audience questions

One of the questions from the audience was “Could we hear Joey do a full song?”, so I gave them the sure-fire number Baby One More Time, which got a lot of applause.

10 audeince asks brent questions

And before I left, Jeff snapped this photo of Teodora, me and Shin:      

00 teodora me and shin

I’d like to thank Jeff Goodes and Brent Bambury for having me on the show, and all the CBC staff for making me feel welcome. Jeff, if you ever need me for more shows, you’ve got my number!

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Saturday Morning on GO!

by Joey deVilla on November 20, 2009

accordion guy cbc

If you listen on CBC Radio One on Saturdays you’re in for a surprise: Yours Truly will be appearing on the Brent Bambury’s show Go! tomorrow. There’ll be musical merriment of all sorts. Go! broadcasts live at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, 11:00 in Newfoundland.