Hello Pukey

My friend Nancy has had a contest with her sister for years: they’ve been trying to outdo each other in giving the other some kind of “Hello Kitty”-themed gift. In this contest, there are only two criteria for a qualifying gift:

  • It must bear the image of Hello Kitty
  • It must serve some useful purpose

There’s no end of the lineup of Hello Kitty products: I’ve seen laptops and iPods, toasters, vaccuum cleaners and yes, the er…personal massager.

There’s even an airline — EVA Air — that’s adopted Hello Kitty as a mascot. EVA Air use the Hello Kitty brand everywhere. And I mean everywhere, even on their air sickness bags:

EVA Air’s “Hello Kitty”-themed barf bag
Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

It Happened to Me

Scenes from the Good Food Festival

Last weekend, Wendy and I attended the Good Food Festival, an annual showcase of food vendors and cooking instructors sponsored by Food Network Canada. It features samples galore, either for free or a very low price, which means that you can get a complete lunch simply by “grazing”. Here are some photos I took at the festival.

I can’t resist a photo op with a mascot:

Joey deVilla and Mr. Peanut

My Favourites

My favourite stall at the festival was Kozlik’s Mustard, who provided peameal bacon (that’s “Canadian bacon” to my American readers) sandwiches made with very nice ciabatta bread and a spread made with one of their spicy mustards.

Chef frying peameal bacon in a giant iron skillet.

Anton Kozlik makes a mean mustard — in fact, he make several varieties, both hot and sweet. They’re available at several locations across Canada — if you’re in Accordion City, you can get them at many gourmet food shops including Alex Farms, St. Lawrence Market, and one of my favourite places, The Cheese Boutique.

Chef frying peameal bacon in a giant iron skillet.

Another favourite of ours were the sauces by the relatively new Redhead Pantry:

Redhead Pantry logo

They make some tasty sauces! We got their barbecue sauce and their honey peach jalapeno sipping sauce, which I used to baste some chicken thighs for Sunday dinner. It’s really good stuff, and I hope this stuff finds its way to a store near us soon.

Under the “ready-made” category, my hand-down favourites: Key Lime Tofutti Cuties. Damn, they’re good!

An Engrish Encounter

Check out this banner we saw beside the barley tea stand:

Barley tea poster with Engrish

Here’s a closer look at the text:

Barley tea poster with Engrish

“Drinkable Magazine?” I have no idea what they’re trying to say.

Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Quackery in the ‘Hood

Here’s a photo I’ve been meaning to take for a while: it’s a poster of the “ionCleanse” treatment being offered at a chiropractor’s office not far from my house. The treatment is purported to remove toxins from the body through the feet:

Poster for “Ioncleanse” treatment that purports to remove toxins from the body through your feet.

I’d love to see this device in action. I want to know how it muddies up your foot bath to make it appear as if “toxins” are being excreted from your feet. I also want to know what the brown goop is. Clay? Paint? Nestle Quik?

The Current Situation

So Long, and Thanks for All the Melting Walls (or: R.I.P. Albert Hofmann)

Albert Hoffman, discoverer of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and the man personally responsible for a lot of lost weekends (and possibly Burning Man), died yesterday at the age of 102.

Albert Hofmann, holding a model of the LSD molecule in front of a psychedelic background.

Here’s the quick version of the story of his discovery of LSD, excerpted from Wired News:

Hofmann’s most famous discovery happened on April 16, 1943. He was researching the synthesis of a lysergic acid compound, LSD-25, when he inadvertently absorbed a bit through his fingertips. Intrigued by the effect it had on his perception, Hofmann decided further exploration was warranted. Three days later, on April 19, he ingested 250 micrograms of LSD, embarking on the first full-fledged acid trip. That day became known among LSD fans as “bicycle day” because Hofmann began experiencing the drug’s intense effects on his bicycle trip home from the lab.

For more on Dr. Hofmann’s life and passing, here are some links:

In tribute to Dr. Hofmann, here’s an excellent video treatment of William Shatner’s cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, complete with kitschy Star Trek and I Love Lucy graphics:


Happy Birthday, Mark Kuznicki!

Cat jumping out of birthday cake holding sign that says “You’re Adopted”

I’d like to wish Mark Kuznicki, Accordion City’s greatest policy wonk, organizer of events like Metronauts and member of the Toronto Tech Community in good standing, a very happy birthday! I’ll see you at the SummerCamp party tonight, Mark!

It Happened to Me

Grand Theft Auto IV: Midnight Lineup and First Impressions

Here’s a photo of the line outside my local EB Games (the Runnymede/St. Clair location in Toronto) for Grand Theft Auto IV, taken last night at midnight:

Midnight line for GTA IV outside the EB Games at Runnymede and St. Clair, Toronto

The 30-car parking lot behind the store was full of cars that I could’ve sworn were lifted right from the previous game in the series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: small sports cars painted in bright colours with lowered suspensions, chrome wheels and obnoxiously loud exhausts and stereos driven by guys in hoodies. The male-female ratio was high, but there actually were some teenage girls in line, which is a good sign: why should guys have all the realistically rendered fun in a virtual New York?

The door to the store is a few paces past the “no left turn” sign in the distance. I waited in line for about an hour and managed to get one of the last non-pre-ordered copies for the XBox 360.

A trailer for Grand Theft Auto featuring my character’s cousin Roman.

After getting back home, I played the game for about an hour, soaking up the the visually gorgeous opening sequence, running errands for my character’s cousin, Roman, shopping for clothes to impress a lady and beating up Albanian loan sharks. I’m going to have to jack a car and explore the city, as it’s so gorgeously rendered that it feels quite real. While the “San Francisco” segment of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gave me the feeling of deja vu (I lived there for a year), Grand Theft Auto IV made me feel as if I was in Brooklyn right now.

Here’s a video of the opening of the game, featuring the title sequence and the first few minutes of mise en scene:

The first 10 minutes of Grand Theft Auto IV.

I’ll post more details as I play the game.

[This was also posted to Global Nerdy.]


Montana Meth Project’s Billboards

These billboards produced by the Montana Meth Project are pretty striking. The question is: are they going to convince people not to do crystal meth?

Billboards for the Montana Meth Project