“I Go to Queen’s!”

Queen's University emblemIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that my alma mater is Crazy Go Nuts University, a “Canadian Ivy” that often goes by another name, Queen’s University. I spent a lovely seven years there getting my undergraduate degree and became its second most notorious perma-student. I started off as an electrical engineering student, graduated with a B.Sc. in computer science, played in a half-dozen bands, wrote for every student newspaper, DJ’d at several venues (including the legendary Clark Hall Pub), made leagues of friends, kissed a few girls and maybe even got a little studying done.

My friend Marichka Melnyk, whom I’ve known since meeting her during Reading Week 1989, pointed me to a video by the Queen’s Players, Crazy Go Nuts University’s singing/sketch comedy troupe. This video is titled I Go to Queen’s, and it sings the praises of The Best Damned School on Earth – or at least The School That Put Up With Me and Let Me Get Away With a Degree.

Bonus Fun Fact

If you Google for “Crazy Go Nuts University” (or Bing it, even) you’ll find some reference to Queen’s University on the first page of results. That’s pretty much my fault.


Chicago Travel Diary, Part 1

I flew out of the Island Airport shortly after nine on Saturday morning…

porter leaving YTZ

…and landed at Midway just after ten, local time.

porter landing midway

I met up with my friend at baggage claim and we made our way to the first and most fancypants of three hotels for this visit: the Palomar.

palomar exterior

The Palomar’s part of the Kimpton chain, which means funky décor and free wine in the lounge every evening. You also get a pretty nice room, especially if you spring a little extra for the “City View” room, which comes with two matching animal-print bathrobes. Rrrrrrrowr!

palomar room

We stopped by the nearby Weber Grill for a late lunch…

weber grill restaurant

…where we had the soup of the day and the sampler platter, which includes their legendary beer can chicken on skewers. Not shown in the photo were our Bloody Marys, which they garnish with a big slice of sausage, a hunk of cheese and a pickle.

food 1

Sunday was unusually warm – practically room temperature! It was a perfect day for a walk about town…


…but first, we had to have some brunch. A good family friend who’s also a local recommended Sunda, and their brunch looked perfect.

sunda exterior

We started with a pot of strong ginger tea and some siu mai, followed by what could best be described as “Asian Eggs Benedict”: a sticky, crispy rice cake topped with braised pork belly and on top of that, a perfectly-cooked poached egg. To go along with it, their interpretation of a classic Filipino noodle dish, Pancit Canton

pancit canton

If you get the chance, go to Sunda. The food is wonderful.

Fully recharged, it was time to make our way to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate

bean 0

…a.k.a. “The Bean”:

bean 3

Art shot!

bean 1

Here’s the Bean, as seen through the passageway:

bean 2

We hung out at Millennium Park for a while and then walked up to Navy Pier:

city 1

Normally at this time of year, this would be an unpleasantly chilly walk by the lake, but it felt like a spring day.

city 2

At Navy Pier, we walked towards the lake along the outside and took the indoor route going back. Along the way, we checked out the stained glass museum as well as some of the tourist trap shops. We got a bag of Garrett’s Chicago Mix popcorn and a book for my sister; I also tried to explain the “I put on my robe and wizard hat” IRC meme to my friend (warning: text is not safe for work!), who hadn’t heard of it before:

i put on my accordion and wizard hat

Our original plan was to go to Topolobampo for dinner, but both it and its big sister, Frontera, were closed for a private function. Luckily, “Plan B” was pretty tasty: Cantina Laredo.

cantina laredo exterior

The guacamole at Cantina Laredo is really fresh because they make it right in front of you, and pronto! In the time it would take me just to peel the avocado, we had delicious guacamole that we scooped up with chips. We both had our “litmus test dishes” for Mexican: I went with carnitas, she had tamales. For dessert, we split a decadent mango tres leches cake.


My friend is in town for a conference near O’Hare. I’m here because I can be here and still get work done. Here’s what I’m calling “the office” this week:


Last night, we made a run to Giordano’s for what Sesame Street would call a “sometimes food”: deep dish pizza. We went with a small pepperoni-and-mushroom and threw in a caprese salad just to make an attempt to be “healthy”.

giordanos pizza

We’re here until Sunday. So far, it’s been a fun trip!


Headline of the Day: “MILF Braces for FAP Offensive”, with Explanation [Updated]

Newspaper with headline "MILF braces for FAP offensive"

I’ve got an explanation for the headline; see the update below.

In the Philippines, MILF is the acronym for the terrorist group known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; I have no idea what FAP is short for in this context (I’m sure it’s not Film Academy of the Philippines, and a cursory Googling hasn’t helped).

In North American internet culture, MILF and FAP (warning: the text on these pages is NOT SAFE FOR WORK) have their own meanings and hence this headline made me LOL.


John Bowman pointed me to the original article in the Philippine Star, whose title is MILF Braces for AFP Offensive. That makes more sense. I’d recognize the AFP acronym immediately – it’s Armed Forces of the Philippines, and I have one prominent family member in that organization: General Renato deVilla, former Phillippine Secretary of National Defence.

So it could be a typo or some lewd Photoshoppery. Either way, it’s funny.


Homer Simpson on Hipsters

Homer Simpson on the phone at his safety inspector desk: "Actually, I've come around to hipsters. It takes a lot of courage to all wear the same hat."

I missed last night’s Simpsons episode featuring guest star Anthony Bourdain but saw some screen captures; this one made me chuckle.

Here’s a clip:


Lest We Forget

Poppy: "Lest We Forget"Here in Accordion City, the rest of Canada and other countries in the Commonwealth, it’s Remembrance Day, during which we remember the members of our armed forces who died in the line of duty. In the United States, it’s Veterans Day, and there are similar observances in other countries.

In honour of this day, I’m sharing Rick Mercer’s latest rant from his show, The Rick Mercer Report, in which he tells us to “remember to remember”. As with many of his rants, it’s poignant, funny and right on the money.

I’ll be marking today with the traditional moment of silence at 11:00 a.m., a reference to the signing of the Armistice at “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.


Auto-Mobile Once More

fixed window

After the window-smashing incident at the bingo hall (I’ll explain later) on Sunday, I dropped my trusty Honda CR-V (13 years old, only 130,000 km/81,000 miles on it) at the shop. A day and some hundreds of dollars later – window replacement was $330, but I also needed a fall/winter tune-up and an emissions test, the latter of which led to the discovery of an exhaust leak – I have my wheels back in perfect working order.

I’m still out a GPS, and I’m thinking of using my iPhone 4. Any suggestions for dashboard mounts and GPS software? Let me know in the comments!


Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, Covered by a Chinese Old Folks Choir

Many people have covered Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, but none have done it as wonderfully and weirdly as this choir made up of Chinese seniors.