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I am home having an excellent night. The girlfriend had never seen Hot Shots and I was sober, and both problems have been resolved.

I'm working on my writing for which I am actually getting paid now, which is beyond awesome. I am occasionally annoyed by the DVORAK I'm learning, but I am a future techno-person and refuse to be throttled by a keyboard designed to stop secretaries from breaking typewriters.

These open mics are a scary window into a world of crazy, obsessed, brilliant and pathetic people - like the internet should be, filtered for those who can actually spell.

TO Review - Thai Bangok restaurant

412 Spadina Avenue

Should you find yourself here, your best bet is to try eating those plants in the window.

The Thai Bangkok is a lot more decorated than the usual chinatown quick-lunch joints, as it actually has decorations. Wall paneling, paintings and enough (carved) elephants to keep Tony Jaa happy for a month. Then you notice the dirty spots and peeling paint around the edges but for a moment you had the impression you were somewhere nice for your six dollar lunch: enjoy that impression because it's all your money is buying you.

Despite the themed trimmings this eatery does exceptionally poorly on the nationality test (fraction of customers from the same culture as the food), with a total of absolutely zero Thai present (counting the fact that even the visible staff weren't Thai, the place earns negative points). It was pretty easy to check the home country of the eaters too - for most of the meal I was the only one there and I'm Irish. At lunchtime in a spadina/college restaurant that's just tragic.

Hungry and hurried I ordered lunch special #1 (hard to get any faster than that) and it's a damn good thing I did because lunch special #1, at lunchtime, took twenty minutes to arrive. If I'd ordered anything else I might still be there. The upside was that the extra time allowed me to fully appreciate the highly excitable menu:

That's three exclamation marks! This is the most excited menu of all time!

Whoever wrote this urgently needs to be sedated. Anyone who finds the concept of rice coming with Thai food exciting might explode if they see something truly astonishing, like a window or a barking dog.

I honestly cannot review the spring roll because I inhaled it, having become so hungry my body was trying to photosynthesize or absorb the tablecloth through osmosis. This lessened my crippling need for food enough to appreciate the hot and sour soup, much to my regret. When the most basic starter possible for any chinatown restaurant takes twenty minutes to prepare you expect something special. Hand polished tofu with beansprouts plucked by specially trained experts, carefully ladled into a platinum bowl and mixed precisely by multimillion dollar perfectionist robots. You do not expect a bag of starch dumped in hot water by the chef during a break in Judge Judy. The spicy beef was an an exemplar in lazy food, a paragon of a spicy meal made wrongly: tough lumps of meat with chunks of flavourless plastic masquerading as peppers glued together by a thick and utterly effortless sauce. I don't mean effortless as in "the masterful chef effortlessly created a wonderful taste", I mean "the person who happens to work in the kitchen expended absolutely no effort in making this". Turning the plate over I expected to find "Screw you, stupid foreigner, you don't know real food anyway" written on the bottom. Of course I didn't - they had no need to waste ink when they'd clearly expressed that message in the food.

Every time I see this place it's deserted. Keep it that way.

TO Review - Rong Hua

478 Dundas St

I can't read a word or even see inside - let's eat here!

It scores highly on the "foreign restaurant" stakes since it
a) does not appear to have even a letter of English to its name* and
b) it's backed off the street, looking pretty shady so that
c) basically it's the kind of place a lone hero enters and has to fight the entire clientele, after throwing a knife-wielding chef through the plate glass fronting.

* - It actually has an English sign, but overhanging the pavement so far out you can only see it from the other side of the street. The idea is perhaps that once the English-speakers venture too close, they are already lost.

Rong-Hua-man cursed. With that silver station wagon in the way, he would never get the Rong-mobile back into the RongCave

Any ethnic restaurant can be judged on the nationality test: how many of the diners are actually from that culture. Fukian snacks scores over one hundred percent there - not only was every single guest chinese, they were such Fukian regional chinese that even Xin (a chinese national fluent in both mandarin and cantonese) could not penetrate a word of their dialogue beyond "Yep, that's heavily accented Fukian dialect all right".

Another element of the "small chinese restaurant feel" is how food is the priority. The ONLY priority. The restaurant consists of a kitchen for food-making, store rooms for food-keeping, and then some space for those troublesome people who keep arriving and taking it. As you squeeze past the counter and walk through a store room to get to the bathrooms, you realise they're only there because they are absolutely legally required - though they are usably clean unlike the excellent-food-but-nothing-else Kom Jug Yuen around the corner.

The sweet and sour lychee pork was good since it was actually sweet and sour, not the sugarised-syrup meat chunks that often get passed under that name. Xin ordered some strange salty-water-and-little-clam stuff, but assures me that it was quite well done salty-water-and-little-clam stuff. I couldn't tell, because it was pretty much salty water. And little clams. Service was nice and fast, with the usual chinatown "What do you want right here now go" brusqueness rather than the "How may we help you" speed some may expect. I enjoy this confidence because it's well earned: these people know their food is good and if you don't want it, you're welcome to not come back.

This restaurant does exactly what it claims to but nothing else. If you want good cheap Fukian food it's the place to go - if you want anything else at all, it isn't.

TO Review - Moonbean Coffee

Don Guiseppe relaxed. With the ear of their leader nailed up as a warning sign, the Metal Men would bother his legitimate business no more.

In the chilled district of Kensington Market, you'll find the second hippy-est cafe in Toronto - Moonbean Coffee. (The absolute hippy-est is around the corner, the Kensington Cafe, which wins the title with it's awesome swingseats).

Moonbean has so many coffees, and so little space, it's not actually possible to fit them all in one shot. However the top row are flavoured coffee beans and therefore do not count.

Coffee is very important to me, without it I would stumble around known only as "That guy who falls asleep when asked who he is". Moonbean provide an excellent and ever changing selection of beans for home grinding, and when I find myself choosing between blends like "Devils Brew" and "Colossus" I know I have found a business that understands my morning coffee needs exactly. The cafe has all the advantages of the non-chain coffee shop, a sense of individuality and character. The occasionally cramped seating and wobbly tables is an acceptable price for the fun feel and unique clientele. Plus I love coffeeshops where 'Grande' is just the title of a mexican-themed wrestler.

I'm making modern art pieces. I call this work "Sleep is for pussies"

You have to visit once if only to try the 'Herculatte'. Bear in mind that the Godfather Marlon Brando could beat someone to death with their own severed arm for preparing his latte incorrectly, and he would still look girly for having ordered a latte. But Moonbean do a good job of manlifying this milky drink by serving it in a mug the size of a childs face and pumping three shots of espresso in there. If one of these doesn't wake you up, please report directly to your nearest Emergency Room and inform them that you are dead.
crypto thumb

Irony * Stupid

I just saw a scrawled ad for "Anti-Police Brutality Day - meet at xxxx at 1 pm!" in the bathroom of my local hippy-cafe. I can think of no better way to avoid police brutality than have a large number of people who hate the police gathering in a downtown city location.

Review - The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

I love zombie-stuff so much my girlfriend has developed an automatic eye-rolling-'tch!' response just from hearing the word. I could confidently defend my home, place of work and favourite coffee shop from undead assault. A while back an editor couldn't run my Zombie Emergency Procedures because of a book already released on the subject, so of course I immediately tracked it down and read it.

Now I'm pissed. Getting a piece rejected because of this thing is like losing a marathon to a crippled cat. This book is a stiff, shambling, lifeless horror not unlike the zombies it portrays. I don't know what gigantic practical joke over at Three Rivers Press convinced Mr Brooks that a book about fighting zombies should be serious, but the result is a section on "Setting a zombie on fire" so boring it makes me want to cry. If you'd told me that was possible last week I would have laughed at you. Now, I can only weep.

Understanding how this could have happened becomes a lot easier when you realise that fully 5% of the book is given over to advertising his 'serious novel', World War Z. Which I won't be reading. Painfully hilarious is the introductory section which spends a full page explaining that this book won't deal with silly "movie zombies" - you know, the ENTIRE REASON this book has a market. Nope, Mr Brooks thinks its far better to stick with his own overspecific and very restrictive zombie description for the entire work. To understand how much he's missed the point, understand: he spends half a chapter pointing out why chainsaws and shotguns are a poor choice of anti-zombie weapon.

I'm donating my copy of this tragedy to the local library, so that anyone else who wants to check it out doesn't have to buy it. Because purchasing this from the 'humour' section of a bookstore would be funding the biggest categorisation error since the Titanic was labeled "unsinkable".

Missed chance

This guy depresses me. He can build working firearms out of scrap metal and obviously can't aim worth a damn. With skills like that he could have gown up to found a new A-Team, but instead he's a dumbass arrested for a crime he did commit.

Truly there is nothing more tragic than wasted potential.

Protest Warriors

The fine folks over at Cracked.com recently highlighted Protest Warrior - a group of right-wingers who turn up to counter-protest liberal demonstration. They also have access to a minimalist artistic genius, with a logo that has no blonde hair at all and still manages to be the most Aryan thing I've ever seen.

"Look, I'm not saying the Jews had it coming or anything but..."

You've got to respect a group dedicated to bringing the glory and intellectualism of internet forum arguments into the real world, hunting down people they disagree with and shouting "No it isn't!" Aside from simply existing, there are a few more mistakes they've made:

1. They're not helping the conservative cause.

It turns out that there isn't a binary "Right/wrong" switch in every argument. Saying any particular thing is correct or incorrect simply because of which political category you jam it into is like judging medicine based on what colour it is - wonderfully simple, saves a lot of thought, and will fuck you up right quick. Having these guys on your side is like having Ann Coulter or a diarrhetic chimpanzee; they're eager to help, they've got lots to contribute, and your best bet is to lock them in a cupboard and hope no-one hears them. This playground contrarianism is not helping those conservatives who have sensible things to say.

2. Authority figures do not like them.

Some of their "after action reports" (the "action" normally consists of being ignored or shouted at) talk of sharing nods and understanding with the police and security guards present, not realising that those people hate them. Think about it: You're a peace officer assigned to a protest. Would you prefer

a) A group of liberal hippy protestors moving in an orderly fashion. Note that the average hippy is about as likely to start photosynthesizing as he is to start a fight.
b) Two groups, violently opposed to each other, with you in the middle. The second group is composed of people like this.

Thanks a lot, Protest Warrior, you've turned a milk run into a potential riot. Come over here, I'll show you how a taser works.

3. Liberal protests aren't a threat.

Setting up counter-liberal protests is like becoming a vigilante struggling against late library returns - you're not solving a real threat. In February 2003 over six million people protested the invasion of Iraq around the world, in a record-breakingly huge demonstration in over 60 countries including several national capitals. You may have noticed that the war failed to not happen, and the average "Aha, fuck you" implications of the political announcements has gone up since then. That day of protest conclusively proved that such demonstrations unfortunately achieve nothing; and if a globally co-ordinated effort by a group with the same population as Hong Kong doesn't affect things, a group of student liberals with placards does not need a specially trained counter-force.

PS That said, I do love their anti-communism sign, though the pistol-r is completely unnecessary. I suspect placing guns in any and all unnecessary locations is not incompatible with the average Protest Warrior.