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Yesterday, I redirected my thoughts off all this recent unpleasantness to focus on my birthday gal.

We kicked things off with an early morning surprise – a present, lovingly wrapped in cardboard and tape, compliment so the fine folks at Amazon.  For Akemi = the two bottles of Thann wood essential oils that actually smell more like orange, but what do I know.

(Trivia: This was on her Christmas list but I failed to get them for her, so I got her two for her birthday to make up for the oversight!)

Then, we hit the gym where Akemi ran through her usual low intensity workout while I multi-tasked: running, watching sports highlights, and learning Japanese.

(Trivia: A three minute jog is enough to completely Akemi and have her complaining about sore legs for days!)

Then, it was time for our morning walk –

(Trivia: If Suji doesn’t have her boots on by 10:30 a.m. at the latest, she will cry until we eventually give in and take her out).

For lunch, we hit Momofuku for bao’s and crack pie –

(Trivia: Former Stargate EP Robert Cooper makes a fantastic home made version!)

From there, we headed to the Shangri-la hotel spa for our one hour couple’s massage and 15 minute head treatment:

(Trivia:

We headed back home to feed the dogs, and then it was time to dress up and head out once again –

(Trivia: Back in Vancouver, Akemi vowed to throw out her favorite boots after Bubba peed on them.  But now that Bubba’s gone, those boots are a fond – and cleaned – remembrance of him.)

We hit our favorite Toronto sushi spot: Yasu Sushi-Bar

Oshikatta!


(Trivia: Every sushi meal ends with the egg omelet, tamago.  Akemi is a big fan of the edges they usually trim away.  When they ask us if we’d like anything else, I’ll usually order a couple of extra pieces of uni for me, and those discarded edges for Akemi.  They’re called hashiko in Japanese.  Thus, when we go out for sushi, I refer to her as Hashiko-chan).

On our way home, we pass by a new dessert place and decide to drop in and check it out.

We order the ube soft serve that tastes like pandan and coconut, but is delicious nevertheless.

(Trivia: Akemi is so obsessed with Hong Kong waffle cones that she actually wants to visit Hong Kong so that she can sample the originals).

Otanjobi omedetto gozaimasu yo!

My favorites…

The Amazing Spider-Man #799 (cover art by Alex Ross)

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 (cover art by Dean Ormston)

Dark Age vol. 1 (cover art by Juan Doe)

Mister Miracle #8 (cover art by Nick Derington)

Prison Ship (cover art by Estebean Maroto)

Red Dog (cover art by W. Scott Forbes)

Superman #45 (cover art by Stephen Downer, Patrick Gleason)

And check out the awesome variety of covers to commemorate Action Comics #10000 –

Cover art by Jim Lee, Alex Sinclair, Scott Williams

1930’s variant by Steve Rude

1940’s variant by Michael Cho

1950’s variant by Dave Gibbons

1960’s variant by Michael Allred

1970’s variant by Jim Steranko

1980’s variant by Josh Middleton

1990’s variant by Dan Jurgens, Kevin Nowlan

2000’s variant by Lee Bermejo

Blank variant

Uncanny Comic Shop variant by Tony S. Daniel

Kings Comics variant by Nicola Scott

Forbidden Planet variant by Jock

Yesteryear Comics variant by Jason Fabok

Third Eye Comics variant by Kaare Andrews

Summit Comics variant by George Perez

Bulletproof Comix variant by Gabriele Dell’Otto

Newbury Comics variant by Patrick Gleason

BuyMeToys.com variant by ArtGerm

Unknown Comic Books variant by Tyler Kirkham

7 ate 9 Comics, Frankies Comics, Sad Lemon Comics, The Comic Mint, Amorpheous Ink & Golden Apple Comics variant by Francesco Mattina

Midtown Comics variant by Oliver Copiel

Dynamic Forces variant by Dan Jurgens

7 Ate 9 Comics variant by Felipe Massafera

Vault Collectibles variant by Dave Dorman

Dynamic Forces variant by Curt Swan

Dynamic Forces variant by Ken Haeser

Fried Pie Comics variant by Doug Mahnke

Torpedo Comics variant by Jim Lee

Legends Comics and Games Fresno variant by Neal Adams

A couple of years ago, Chatelaine magazine offered up a recipe collection titled 25 of our favorite old-fashioned desserts.  Ever late to the party, I just came across the article and, while scrolling through the various pics and recipes, thought it might be fun to put together a list of my top 10.  Only problem – I was really hard-pressed to come up with five favorites from the list of candidates, much less ten!  I considered switching to a list of my bottom 10 but, again, was stymied.  There are A LOT of really middling old-fashioned desserts.

Anyway, after several reviews, I was finally able to come up with five candidates on both sides of the scale.  The many not making the list include the mediocre likes of lemon loaf, oatmeal-raisin cookies, and rice pudding.

My Bottom Five Old-Fashioned Desserts

#5. Date Squares

You won’t believe the number of times I’ve glimpsed these at various farmer’s markets and, overcome with excitement, stepped up to purchase what I assumed were blondies or pecan squares only to discover the horrifying truth.  They’re the brownie’s less popular con artist cousin.

#4. Sponge Cake

This aptly named creation sucks the joy out of eating dessert.

#3. Ginger Cookies

A dessert only someone’s aunt could love.

#2. Angel Food Cake

A disaster of texture and taste, I’d be more inclined to use it as insulation.

#1. Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Oh, don’t get me started on ice cream-less pies – but the inclusion of rhubarb here (a.k.a. the devil’s stalk) is particularly reprehensible.  THIS is the type of dessert you can expect to be served in a  prison cafeteria.

My Top Five Old-Fashioned Desserts

#5. Pound Cake

It makes the list by virtue of the fact that I needed to round out this list and I had to choose from a fiercely average bunch of contenders.  It also gets the nod for its unapologetic density and audaciously defiant moniker.

#4. Coconut Cake

One of the few fruit-based post-dinner creations that make for good dessert.  The other being…

#3. Banana Cream Pie

One of the few fruit pies that doesn’t require an ice cream accompaniment.

Doesn’t hurt though.

#2. Chocolate Cake

A classic that may vary in consistency but remains a perennial favorite like the Dallas Cowboys, skull rings, and aviator jackets.

#1. Pecan Pie

My Death Row Dessert.  Or, barring a capital punishment sentence, one I’d happily special order from blog regular Jeff Wilson.  His southern version is killer.

I leave you today with a picture of the best of both worlds, old meets new, in this “piecaken” dessert Akemi and I made to accompany the turducken we roasted for a Super Bowl party a few years back…

A pecan pie baked inside a giant brownie.

And, yes, there was ice cream.

I’ll spare you the rant and leave you, instead, with some videos of Suji in action –

Her imitation of a french bulldog.

Has never met a camera she hasn’t liked.

A determined eater (P.S. Lulu already got her piece).

“Oh my gosh!”said Akemi.  “It’s gorgeous!”

We were strolling through the Art Gallery of Ontario at the time, so you might be forgiven for assuming she was referring to a painting or sculpture or some other piece of avant-garde art.  Instead, Akemi bypassed the display and went straight to the couch in the middle of the room, taking a seat and running her hand along the backrest.  “This would be perfect for the apartment!”

Yes, with about six weeks to go before we take possession of our new place, she is in full interior design mode.

But, on this day, the focus was on the AGO’s most popular exhibit in recent memory, one featuring the work of Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama.  The event, running March 3rd to May 27, 2018 is so popular that advance booking is required and the few remaining available tickets are snapped up daily within an hour of opening.

I’d purchased our tickets online about a month ago for the very precise 2:15 p.m. showing.  As advised, we arrived early (in retrospect, maybe a little too early), walked the other exhibits and then dutifully lined up at precisely 2:00 p.m.  Once 2:15 rolled around, we were permitted entry, 5-6 at a time, and instructed to take the elevator up to the exhibit where we would only be permitted a set amount of time at each station.

Once off the elevator, we were directed to the first room where we were greeted by a couple of pieces…

…some biographical information on the artist and her art (the focus in these instances was on phallic expression), and a lineup.  Not really knowing what was up, we joined the queue and struck up a conversation with the two women in front of us who talked about their love of theater, museums, and then, some twenty minutes later, their hatred for line-cutters when, after snaking our way around the first exhibit – an enclosed polka-dot structure – we discovered a second, much shorter line that people were simply joining straight in from the entrance.  When one of the women complained, she was informed that there was a limit of only three visitors per polka-dot structure and this second (unmarked) line was for singles.  Good to know.

Akemi and I were paired with one such single and instructed to step up onto a ramp as a second gallery employee carefully timed the preceding visit with a stopwatch.  Once thirty seconds was up, the door to the structure was opened, they were ushered out and we were ushered in.

I already had my phone out and ready to take video as I knew our time was short…

A member of the AGO staff accompanied us, presumably to ensure we did not attempt to traipse through the field of phalluses.

A knock at the door signaled our time was up.  We were ushered out and another trio was ushered in.  We moved on…

And checked out some of the wall-mounted artwork.

I could tell Akemi was thinking: “How would this look in the new living room?”

We rounded a corner to discover – another line-up for entrance to another structure. Having learned our lesson, we opted for the much shorter singles line, drawing a temporary close to our eight year relationship for the sake of art…and not having to wait as long.  As it turned out, there were a lot of threesomes in that other lines.  By the time my turn came up, I ended up being paired with the couple who I would have been behind had I just chosen the longer line.

This one was my favorite.

Thirty seconds later, I was out the door and joining Akemi in a quick dash to the next line-up.

No singles line this time so the wait was significantly longer.  Finally, we were permitted entry into the big pink polka-dotted ball where we discovered…

More big pink polka-dotted balls!

From there, we stepped directly into the next queue.  As it inched along, Akemi and I each took a turn to check out a tiny station offering a outside-looking-in peek at…

Eventually, once we reached the front of the queue, we were directed to a much larger viewing station where we were instructed to peek in from opposite sides…for thirty seconds.

“Thanks for coming,”said the AGO representative with the stopwatch once the thirty seconds had elapsed.  It sounded more like a threat than an expression of gratitude, punctuated as it was by a foreboding step in our direction as if to warn against lingering.

From there, it was on to the next wait station.  Along the way, we passed –

A tentacle garden and …

Silver phalluses.

This time, we lucked out.  The singles line was a comparatively shorter wait and in no time at all (let’s say under 10 minutes) we were into the next station –

And immediately out and on our way.

We strolled past a display that would have seemed perfectly at home on one of the alien worlds the crew of The Raza might have visited in Dark Matter’s fourth season –

There was a sixth and final queue for the sixth and final station which, for some reason, didn’t allow photography.  Spoiler alert: pumpkins!

Then, it was on to the final interactive exhibit, a once stark room (at the start of the exhibition) that encouraged visitors to adorn the surroundings with the multi-colored stickers they were handing out on our way in…

And that was that.

The breakdown:

Initial line-up = 2:00 p.m.

Exit = 4:15 p.m.

30 seconds x 6 stations = 3 minutes

Approximate time spent traveling between stations, appreciating various paintings and displays = 12 minutes

TOTAL TIME SPENT APPRECIATING ART: 15 minutes

TOTAL TIME SPENT WAITING TO APPRECIATE ART: 120 minutes

Turns out it’s true.  You DO have to suffer for art.

…another opportunity for escape is thwarted and the chances of you ever leaving that locked room decreases in likelihood.

Or something like that.

Well, Friday the 13th is certainly living up to its moniker.  This morning, I was expecting news on a certain project.  I was enthusiastic about the possibility of good news, but I was prepared for the worst case scenario.  Unfortunately, as it turned out, the news was even worse than the worst case scenario I’d envisioned. Clearly, a failure of imagination on my part and, I suppose, somewhat telling…and ironic given the circumstances.

If I were to put this in marble race terminology (see this post for backstory, and this one) I’d say Glassy relinquished the lead and got caught up on that outside line, taking him out of contention.

I honestly had high hopes for Glassy.

Well, I’m bummed.  Also, my shoulder is killing me.  I remember a masseuse matter-of-factly informing me, thirteen years ago when I was visiting Hong Kong, that my left shoulder was screwed and that even though I wasn’t experiencing issues then, I certain would later in life.  Later, it turns out, is now.  A recurring twinge that runs from the back of my left shoulder to my left elbow has proven the 13 year old prophecy true!  Next week, I’m off to see a physio-therapist.  What’s next?  Acupuncture?  Reiki?  Cupping (I believe that’s the one where the therapist spoons you for comfort.).  At this point, I’m willing to try anything.

On the bright side there is no bright side so I don’t have to expend as much time and effort on completing this sentence.  That’s as good as it gets.

 

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