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Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I bought my tickets to Vancouver yesterday Image hosted by I come back on the 18th of August and return "home" to Toronto right after Labour Day.

To be honest, I was starting to get a little worried because the airfares I've looked at recently have all been pretty steep. With the demise of Jetsgo, Air Canada and Westjet have no real incentive to slash prices anymore, and Harmony Airways just seemed too sketchy for me to fly--any airline that gives Jackie Chan a pilot's uniform just can't be above-board with the FAA. But thankfully, my grad student status qualifies me for Air Canada's discounted student fares through Travelcuts, which means that I could get a rount-trip ticket for $506 with tax and fees--a great deal for that time of year.

I quite like the Travelcuts on College St. There's something very quaint...very "Lonely Planet" about the place. I mean really, who uses dot-matrix printers anymore? And we're not even talking about 24-pin dot-matrix printers from the early 90s; these are 9-pin units from the 80s. But antiquated computer hardware aside, I have always found that there is an undeniable excitement at the Travelcuts that can't be found at the Flight Centre or Carlson Wagonlit. Maybe it's the large, wall-sized map of the world behind the counter. Or maybe it's listening to the travel agent in the next counter explaining the impressively long Cathay Pacific Asiapass itinerary to a bewildered-looking girl who's thinking she may be in way over her head. In any case, I like the Travelcuts, and it likes me. Isn't that what really matters?

Your Favorite Jerk

Friday, May 27, 2005

The end of a saga

Yesterday marked the end of my lukewarm relationship with George Lucas, and his Star Wars series. I still remember watching my first Star Wars movie in my parents' two-room apartment in China at the age of 6. The movie had been dubbed in Mandarin, and I suspect it had probably been censored and modified for the People's viewing pleasure. My reaction after seeing that first movie was a resounding "meh"--I was more of Smurfs and Transformers kinda kid. When the other kids got knock-off X-Wing fighter pilot helmets, I went and bought a People's Liberation Army cap--just because I thought the PLA looked cool beating down "rebels" on TV (I'm not a terrible person. I was young. I didn't know. Honest.).

In the 17 years since that first viewing, I've made an effort to see all the movies in the series. Each time, my reaction was the same--"meh", followed by a shrug--but I always hoped (perhaps, naively) that Lucas would redeem himself and dazzle me with the next one. This time it'll be different I used to lie in bed and think, this time he'll show me he cares. Alas, George never delivered, and I have only tear-soaked pillows to show for my dedication and blind loyalty to the man others call a genius. When Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith came out last week, I didn't want to go see it. I didn't want to be let down again and I couldn't stand the thought of having my heart broken once more by this callous, callous man. But I knew I had to go see it. I had invested too much in this relationship already. I went to see Star Wars last night, not to be dazzled by George Lucas--I had given up that naive dream years ago--but to get some closure from him.

As the Imperial March anthem played on the screen at the Paramount last night to signal the end of the movie, I thought "meh" and shrugged for the last time. You won't hurt me anymore, George Lucas.

Your Favorite Jerk

WOW! Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson will be in Wedding Crashers! The trailer was amazing. Must.See.This.Movie.When.It.Comes.Out.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Envy, the second gummy sin

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This is from wiedmaier's flickr series, called The Seven Gummie Sins. I saw this a while back, and I've loved this one in particular. That poor little gummy bear looks so cute even though it's all eating him up inside. I can't decide if I should want to give it a hug or stick it in my mouth. I've always liked the green gummies.

Your Favorite Jerk

Sunday, May 22, 2005


<-- me

I need to finish this assignment and other stuff soon. Must. Go. For. A. Walk.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Letter of complaint

Dear Burger King:

Please stop offering prizes of apple turnovers in your Star Wars BK combos if your restaurants don't actually carry this product. I find this practice deceptive and very undelicious. Please rectify this situation immediately and send one (1) apple turnover to 89 Chestnut St., Toronto ON. Your attention to this grave oversight is appreciated.

Yours truly,

Your Jabba the Hut water squirters have atrociously poor range and do not provide 'hours of summer fun' as your advertisements suggest. Furthermore, I question this toy's purported abilities to cause choking among small, annoying children. Please remove this item from your restaurants until these complaints are addressed.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I just turned down Star Wars do laundry and get a head start on my assignment for next week. I have become everything I've ever hated Image hosted by Note to self: go see Star Wars when I've finished all assignments next week.

Your Favorite Jerk

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How to eat for free

The great thing about living near a research university is that at any given hour during the day there is likely a seminar taking place. Quite often, these are excruciatingly boring, and the organizers of these events will attempt to increase attendence by offering free food before or after the talk. The beauty of this system is that anyone who looks remotely like someone in the field can simply show up, pretend to be interested in whatever topic is being discussed, and walk out with a full stomach. With some practice and attention to detail, you can practically eat a free meal everyday five days a week. To help you get there, let me take you through a hypothetical free-meal scenario.

Suppose the imaginary Faculty of Ukranian Kitchen Cabinetry (the FUKC) is hosting a talk by the equally fictional, but world renowned cabinet maker Vieshslav Kobachenkovich. Now in the cabinet making city of Kiev, the mere mention of Dr. Kobachekovich is enough to incite riots at the local Ticketmastervich. But alas, here in Toronto very few people have heard of this maestro and even among the devoted researchers of the FUKC, turnout for the talk is expected to be low without proper enticement. So, the organizer Dr. Bribervich decides to offer some perogies and borsch at the end of the talk.

Now, suppose you are a graduate student in some random department who just happens to hear about this talk through one of 20 mailing lists you subscribe to for the sole purpose of being informed when free food stimulating academic discussions are taking place. You should immediately go online and do a cursory search for some background information on Ukranian Kitchen Cabinetry. Once you have a vague idea of what it's all about, decide what it is you're interested in and maybe read an extra article on that to further buttress your knowledge of your newly acquired field of expertise. In this case, you may have read that the hottest area of research lately has been in the sub-field of bronze door handles that resemble the shape of Czar Nikolas IV's uncle Boris's head. This is your cover story. You, my friend, are now an expert on Borisian Brass Handles. Stand up straight. You are now ready to go to the talk for your well-deserved meal.

At the talk, remember to keep a low profile. Should anyone ask you about your particular area of research, don't feel pressured to spill everything you know--because you know very little and people will be on to you very quickly. Instead, be vague, and use lots of hand gestures. And if anyone asks you about something you don't know, respond by saying, "You know, Mike, I really think we are moving away from ______ and entering the post-______mic era (where ______ is what he just asked you about). Really, we shouldn't devote so much of our time on this legacy research. Don't you think so?" 9 times out of 10, he will think you know more than him, and walk away, leaving you to enjoy your perogies.

Next time you're hungry and on campus, give it a try. You might even like it.

Your Favorite Jerk

Monday, May 16, 2005


When you're having a bad day and you don't know what to think, there's nothing quite like sitting down with friends to play a German boardgame about resource management and city planning. The name of the game is Carcassonne, and the object is to win--einfach, ja? Carcassonne is a game of chance, but requires the player to have some moderate skill as he gradually places "land tiles" on the board to expand the liebestraum of his people, so to speak. Along the way, the player must also be on the lookout for his swindling opponents who seek to encroach on his settlements, steal his women, and slaughter his cows. Okay fine, there is no theft of women or slaughtering of cows, but that would make for a cool expansion set though, ja? Nein? Fine!

Anyways, it's been a while since I've stepped into a real home for dinner. Most of the time I don't mind living alone downtown and going out for food, but every so often it's comforting to have a home-cooked meal--even if it means having to eat gluttenous mock-BBQ pork (it's called that because it's BBQ pork that just sits there and mocks you for having to eat it). Thanks Ames and Tiff for letting me squat in your homes for the afternoon. And thanks Kal for them jokes--I haven't laughed this hard in so long. Oh yeah, and next time we play Carcassonne maybe I'll let you people win :-p You hear that? That is the sound of Humility clutching it's heart, begging for a defribillator:-) Bring your game on!

Your Favorite Jerk

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Random debris from my stream of consciousness

Q: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
A: The sound a phone makes when it isn't ringing.

Thank you. Thank you very much. There will be no encores. Good night and have a safe trip home, everybody.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Get off or stay on?

SpeedI can't believe it's been more than 10 years since Speed first came out. It was grade 6 or 7 and all the kids were giving it great reviews--even though we couldn't technically watch it because it was rated 'R' for violence and coarse language. It was a genuinely good movie, and the penultimate good movie for Sandra Bullock--her last good one being 'While You Were Sleeping'--before her career tanked. I still think some of the lines in that movie are classics. Here are some I still remember (not verbatim, cuz my memory isn't that* good):

  • "No! I'm not crazy, poor people are crazy. I'm eccentric."

  • "I've already seen the airport."

  • "You're fired! Everybody's *beeping* fired!"

  • "Pop quiz hotshot, I have a hairtrigger aimed at your head. WHAT do you do? What do you do?"

Last night for some inexplicable reason my mind has been playing that one scene where they're trying to decide if they should stay on or get off the freeway. You know, the scene where Sandra Bullock is screaming "Get off or stay on?" over and over again in sheer hysteria, while Keenu Reeves just stands there and gives his patented I'm-lost-in-deep-thought-even-though-I-have-a-sub-100-IQ look. That line has been nagging me all morning now, like some muzak song I just can't get out of my head. I'll have to watch that movie again sometime to see if they stayed on or got off--I don't remember anymore. I think the movie had a happy ending, though. So, whatever they chose probably worked out in the end. Note to self: rent Speed.

Your Favorite Jerk

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mirror mirror on the wall

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI knew when I signed up for summer residence at the CNut that I may have to switch rooms because the place is being converted to a temporary hotel. It just didn't occur to me that this would happen so soon. This morning I was talking to the lady at the Residence Office and she told me (with a smile) that all the summer students would be consolidated to two floors of the building, and they weren't the floors I'm currently on. So, it seems the chance of my having to move in the next few weeks is quite high. But here's the kicker: when I came back from the lab today, I saw that someone had installed a large mirror on one of the walls in my room. At first I thought I had been robbed by some sick, twisted burglar whose call sign is a mirror left behind each of his scenes of crime. But a quick survey of the room revealed that nothing had been stolen. So, the only conclusion I can draw is that they are trying to pretty up the room for the summer travellers. Tomorrow I'll start packing my stuff.

Your Favorite Jerk

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tourist in Toronto

I played the part of fool tourist today, and went to paint ceramics on Danforth before going up the CN Tower with fellow Delta members. Thank you Ames for organizing the ceramic painting (a wholesome activity that is enjoyable to people of ALL sexual orientations). And of course, thank you Kizzle for being the superstar you are to give us VIP access to the most phallic free standing structure in the world. You the man, Kizzle! Pictures are up on Flickr.

Your Favorite Jerk

Monday, May 09, 2005

Duhp toi

The meal plan at the CNut is officially finished for the winter and fall sessions, so I've had to be very creative with finding meals at decent prices lately. Yesterday after service, I walked up to Dundas and Spadina to check out what my conpatriots were offering in their myriad restaurants and eateries. Since I can only read Chinese very sparsely, I decided that it would be to my advantage to rely on the number of people inside the restaurants rather than read the signs outside of them to judge how good they were. Based on this simple, but effective criterion, I quickly found a place called King's Noodle House on the west side of Spadina St.

The waitress asked me how many people were in my party. This is a pretty standard greeting at Chinese restaurants, so I told her that I would dining alone, expecting to be led to some small table in the corner. But to my surprise, she pointed me to a large table for ten in the middle of the crowded establishment. I've heard about this practice of "duhp toi"--Cantonese for the sharing of tables amonst perfect strangers--as a way to cope with overcrowding in Chinese restaurants, but I have never actually experienced it firsthand. Normally I don't dine out on my own, and when I do I tend to choose places with a bar and stool so that I can eat my meal without having to interact with the other patrons. But hey, I'm always up for a new experience, so I sat down at the table and decided to order a bowl of beef tenderloin noodle soup, as I surveyed my tablemates.

From what I could gather with a cursory inspection of the table, the "duhp toi" diners consisted of me, a Chinese poh-poh to my left, a group of white office ladies, their black colleague, her daughter, and the leader of the group, a Philipino lady who seemed to be the resident "China expert". I don't know what office these ladies worked in, but I don't imagine it's a lot of fun to work there because the tension at that table was intense. At one point I thought I was watching some sort of parody skit in which every character at the table was some caricature of an ignorant, prejudiced bigot. "Where's the chicken feet, and pig intestines?" one white lady asked the Philipino woman, admist hysterical laughter from her colleagues. And when the black woman showed little interest in the food on the table, the Philipino woman asked her kindly if she wanted "some porkchops and fried chicken". I think you forgot to ask her about the cornbread and malt liquor. Come on, people! Enough with these stereotypes, we are all one race--the human race--and I have dream and so on and so forth. Sheesh.

You know, I think this was the first Mother's Day in a long time when I didn't have Sunday brunch with mom. Sometimes, a bunch of flowers delivered by FTD just isn't enough to show her how much I love her. Which brings me to another point. I think sometimes my outward appearance of sarcasm and general air of aloofness makes me seem like someone who isn't sentimental or easily offended. This simply isn't true. Sometimes I need just as much TLC as anyone else, and if I don't get it I feel just as bad. If you prick me do I not bleed, and so on and so forth...go read the play, or wait for Pacino's next film.

Your Favorite Jerk

Friday, May 06, 2005

One year anniversary

I just realized that today (or rather yesterday if you want to be pedantic about time) marks the first year anniversary of this blog. A year ago today, this blog began as a humble xanga page that I built out of spite to bypass the no-anonymous comment mechanism on V~'s xanga. I have subsequently moved the xanga pages to my current Blogger home and it's interesting to go back now and read my first entry. It seems I started this thing with no intention of making regular posts, but looking back now, I am glad that I kept a log of the past year's events. It has been an interesting year to be sure, filled with changes, challenges, and absurdities. Along the way, I've met some very cool people and made some great, new friends (you know who you are :-). I hope the coming year will be just as interesting. Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Your Favorite Jerk (1 year older, smarter, and wiser)

Thursday, May 05, 2005


If you've seen the movie "Old School", you'll no doubt recall the memorable scene where Will Farrel's character, who having abstained from alcohol for some time, tastes his first sip of beer from a frat house beer-hose and exclaims in a classic Farrelesque way, "It tastes so good when it hits your lips!" These days I make the same proclaimation--albeit in my head, and in far less dramatic fashion--every morning when that first drop from a large Tim Horton's double-double hits my lips. Say what you will about Timho's not being up to snuff, but as far as I'm concerned coffee is coffee, and so long as it serves it's primary function--a caffeine delivery vehicle--I don't care if the beans are grown carefully on the shadey slopes of a Kenyan mountain or haphazardly in the shadey warehouses off East Hastings St.

My sudden appreciation for coffee is due in large part to my busy school/work schedule this week, which has forced me to sustain myself on a paultry sum of four or five hours of sleep everyday. What I miss most about the benefits of sleep isn't alertness or alacrity, but patience--something that I must confess I possess little of even when given abundant sleep. I find that the less I sleep, the more impatient I become. Everything and everybody seems to be taking an unreasonably long time: there's the elevator that takes 2 minutes too long to arrive; the couple that takes 30 seconds too long to decide between Boston Cream or Chocolate Glazed; and then there's the geriatric in her motorized scooter, who enjoys riding down the middle of the sidewalk at the tortuously slow speed of 1km/h. Woman, for goodness sakes, that scooter has four wheels and a three horsepower motor! Do you know how powerful three horses are? I shouldn't be able to outpace three whole horses!!!!!

I sincerely hope I can get some sleep soon. I crave it. Every sinew of my body longs to shut down and be bathed in sweet rejuvenating sleep. Maybe I'll get some shuteye during my shift tonight...the 10pm to 4am one.

Your Favorite Jerk

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The end and the beginning

The academic year is winding down for the undergrads with whom I share my residence. Over the past week, everyday I come home to see overprotective parents packing their large vans with all their spoiled brats' precious belongings for the trip home. The Chestnut is starting to feel pretty empty as the whole operation begins to the refitting process to shift from student residence to summer hotel. The mood is undeniably celebratory for both students and staff, who I imagine are looking forward to serving well-mannered travellers instead of loud, rambunctious--and often drunk--students. The change in clientele will likely mean better tips and less late-night vomit cleanups.

For me, this transition is a mixed blessing at best. While I certainly don't mind seeing all the undergrads pack up and leave, I am not looking forward to the impending closure of the cafeteria and all that it entails. For the past week, I've been trying to eat as much salad and fresh fruit as I physically can in the hopes that I can somehow make my body store up some healthy food before I subject it to the horrors of BBQ pork rice, BBQ duck rice, and Kraft dinner for the next 4 months. I know camels do this with water before going into the desert, but I'm not sure I can develop a "vegetable/fruit hump" on my back before the end of the week.

On the academic front, my "academic year" is just beginning. I've started my course, and for the first time in 3 years, I've been doing homework. I feel like an out-of-shape, former runner doing the Pikes Peak Marathon after a 3 year long hiatus working as a taste tester at the Hershey's factory. For the first week of class, I was honestly sucking wind, huffing and weezing my way through the assigned papers.

The way this course is structured, the only real incentive to complete the assigned readings--besides learning, of course...but, that's beside the point--is the fear of what I call the "Academic Russian Roulette". Here's how this terrible game of chicken works: each week two papers are assigned, and at the next class one of 12 students is randomly asked to present on one of these papers. Last week, some poor guy got the bullet and was lying in a pool of his own academic blood after his weak 5 minute presentation showed that he had not, in fact, read the paper. It was like watching a guy take a bullet to the leg from a small sidearm, before being hammered with a M-16. Not pretty. There's a Chinese saying that, when roughly translated, goes something like this: "you can scare the monkeys by showing them how you kill the chickens." At the moment, I am that proverbial monkey, cowering on a tree branch that is dangling precariously close to a box of KFC. I think I will go read my paper now. Good night.

Your Favorite Jerk

If you are on a warm beach in Hawaii, free from the burdens of academia, I shake my angry fist at you :-)

The trip to NYC for the Victoria Day weekend is still in the plans, and may proceed if there is enough interest. So, if anyone's interested, please do drop me a line.