Miniblog: Halloween Costumes

My birthday is in early October, and over the last couple of years, it’s become something of a tradition that my sister Kim makes me a Halloween costume as a gift.  This is incredible.  She works in the theatre, and the quality of these costumes is amazing.

This year, however, I’ve hit a bit of a problem.  I’m not sure what to be.  I already wore an awesome Caesar Romero Joker:

Not Heath Ledger's Joker

and a superb Goblin King:

If you haven't seen Labyrinth, you live a sad life.

But now what do I do?  I’ve got a couple ideas, and I’m looking for advice.  I know I want to do a pop culture costume, but do I go with classic pop culture, and ask her for Indigo Montoya:

If you haven't seen the Princess Bride, I pity you

Which is awesome, if people get it, but otherwise kind of looks like a random pirate.  I mean, if I keep asking people about six fingered men and such, it’ll be fine, and I bet I can talk Kodie or Shawn into the Dread Pirate Roberts, which is an easier costume, because he’s pretty much Zorro, and see if we can get Tall into a Fezzick costume, completing the set and making it more recognizable. 

Alternatively, I could go super recognizable with Luigi:

It's a me!

It’s fun, people will get it, and who doesn’t want a Luigi costume to go go-karting or to a party.  It’s super fun, but it’s … it’s almost not worthy of Kim’s incredible skill.  Is this the one?

Or do I go a touch more modern and obscure with Dr. Horrible:

If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing a Long Blog, you know the drill

People might not get it, but if they don’t, I think Mad Scientist is better than pirate.  If people do get it, they’ll fucking love it.  Getting Tall into a Captain Hammer costume won’t be tough.  This one also includes no fake mustaches, so there’s that.

I love all three.  I really can’t decide, but I need to, quickly.  So help me out! 

If you want to explain your choice, leave a comment.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

 

 

I went to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World this weekend with Kodie and Shawn.  Because it was opening weekend, we went rather early.  Shawn is now pretty deep in the world of comics these days, and in case you didn’t know: 

 

Scott Pilgrim was a comic first.  Shawn was pretty certain with the limited screens playing the movie, it would be tough to get tickets. 

These fears turned out to be unfounded.  The audience seemed made up of two groups: fans of the indy comic it was based on, and Michael Cera fans.  Michael Cera has a lot more fans than the comic, because who hasn’t seen Juno, or have some friend that constantly bemoans the cancellation of Arrested Development, like it was the holy grail of television programming, and there has never and will never be a better sitcom. 

Didn’t they ever see News Radio? That’s the best sitcom ever.

  

I absolutely loved this movie, but I doubt that will be common.  As we were walking out, people all around us had a great time, but also seemed confused.  I over heard three separate hipsters mutter about how they didn’t get it.  How often do hipsters admit that?  Even Kodie had a little trouble wrapping his head around it. 

While I haven’t read the original comic, I did spend a lot of years at University studying English, so I’m pretty good at understanding how a story works.  I’m not saying I’m smarter than people who didn’t get it, just that I have the training to spot what was going on.  See the movie worked on a conceit, an extended metaphor.  What happened on screen meant something else, and it never explains itself explicitly.  

The basic plot is that Scott, a slacker bass player in a no-name band, starts dating Ramona Flowers, who is the girl of his dreams.  Literally.  The first time he sees her, he’s dreaming and he hasn’t met her yet.  In order to date her, he needs to defeat her seven evil exes, and each one is like a boss battle out of a video game. 

The movie is beautiful, the fight scenes are great, and it’s really funny.  Even if you don’t entirely get what’s going on, it’s a hell of a fun watch.  Kodie’s favourite part is that it’s set in Toronto, and very Canadian, from CBC t-shirts to the self-depreciatory national humour.  They also do a very cool thing with the pacing of the movie.  How Scott feels about things changes the way the cuts are done.  When he’s spaced out and ignoring the world, you’ll suddenly be snapped into a situation, and Scott is more confused than the audience.  When things are great for him, days fly by in seconds.  When things suck, time drags itself out.  I do recommend it to anyone. 

While this is kind of a romantic comedy, it’s great in how human it remains.  See, Scott is kind of a douchebag.  He has major flaws, and the reason he doesn’t have a girl friend is because he fucks things up.  He’s not the standard Michael Cera character who’s a great guy who chicks just don’t notice.  He says and does stupid things, and a lot of his problems are his own fault. 

Now, this next part isn’t really spoilers.  It’s my explanation for that extended metaphor, and if you’d rather watch the movie and try and figure it out for yourself, stop reading here. 

Okay, so here’s how it works; every battle is Scott dealing with his issues.  He’s got to overcome how he stacks up with her first boyfriend, the boyfriend who does all the things he can’t, the boyfriend who does everything he wants to do better, and issues like that.  The magnitude of each fight is based on how much trouble he has overcoming the problem.  Usually, Ramona needs to explain herself for him to move past an issue, but even that isn’t always enough. 

I think I know how I got this, when a lot of people seemed to miss it.  It’s not just the English training.  It’s also the fact that I process emotions in a similar way.  Lina often laughs at the way I apply rules and systems to a chaotic world to make sense of things, as if there’s an underlying order if you can just figure it out through the static.  Scott does the same thing by looking at his problem through the lens of a video game, where there are bosses to beat, points and powerups to collect, and a set end point he believes he can achieve to have beaten the game. 

I’m not saying that I ever imagine fighting my girlfriends exes in my mind’s eye, or craft huge narrative in the back of my head.  I mean, that would be crazy, right?  I certainly don’t do exactly what Scott’s doing in the movie.  At all.  That would be weird.  Right?  Cause I don’t do that. 

And the fights aren’t awesome and epic.  I don’t feel so good when I finally trounce those opponents, usually when I don’t care about who or what they were.  They totally don’t make amazing stories I wish I could represent visually, or even share without a whole bunch of masking so that no one nows. 

…AT ALL.

Leonard’s Visit

 

Leonard was coming back to Calgary from Art School for a week, which meant I was going to be at either the Ship and Anchor or the Distillery.  The Distillery has changed a lot lately, and in some ways, no matter how many new things she tries, Leonard is still a robot of habit in the deepest steel chambers of her mechanical heart.  She can’t handle seeing how some things have changed, and she wanted the familiar, so we were at the Ship.

We went on Friday.  If you don’t know, the Ship and Anchor is a bit of a punk pub, at least originally, but it’s slowly showing a hipster influence.  There’s a row of fake books on a shelf near the ceiling.  Antique-looking paintings and artefacts adorn the walls, interspersed with FIFA soccer pennants.  Each table had its own crowd, with no coherent group dominating the bar.  A couple of old guys spoke emphatically near a group of bookish girls too afraid to yell to be heard over the bar noise.  A pair of overly attractive people tried to decide if they wanted to make out at 8 pm in a pub, mostly through trail and error.

I got there to find Kodie, Leonard, B1 and A2.  I hadn’t eaten, so I ordered food.  For the rest of the night, one person at our table was always eating.  Either someone new would show up and order food, or someone who had been there for a while needed an appy.

I was sitting by A2.  He was ordering a different beer with each round and showing off his iPhone.

Tall showed up a bit later, followed by R1 and A3, friends of Leonard.  It freaks her out to see people she knows from different places together, especially if they get along.  She especially hates it if they start doing things without her.  She calls it “hanging out behind her back.”  I believe it’s because robots are always plotting against humans, so she assumes it goes the other way.  She knows it’s crazy, and she’s mostly gotten over it, but at times it bugs her.

So I probably shouldn’t have been hitting on A3.  Since the last time I’d seen her, she’d gotten a rather significant haircut, and was adorable with her short hair.  I was trying to be subtle, so as not to upset Leonard until there was reason for her to be truly angry at me.  On top of that, it was a loud bar, and everyone kept switching places around the table, so A3 and I didn’t get much of a chance to talk.  I doubt she noticed.  She also didn’t get my full attention, and I wasn’t willing to push to hard, so she was able to escape my considerable charm.

This time…

When Shawn showed up, our waitress changed.  The new girl was gorgeous, and completely inattentive.  You had to yell at her to stop her to order a drink.  We soon decided it was time to move the party, and Kodie and Shawn suggested the Elbow River Casino.  Tall, A3, B1 and R2 were out, but the rest of us decided to go. 

I’ve only ever been to the casino in Lethbridge.  It’s a newish building on the highway out of town.  I used to go with Txt Girl and her friends, because she loved to gamble.  I’d spend $20 on ten games of blackjack, then just hang out, because I value my money.  The Lethbridge Casino was fun every time.

Elbow River Casino was different.  It was smaller, darker, and mostly row upon row of heartless slot machines. 

Pictured: Uncivilized Gambling

 I don’t like playing the slots because they’re too much like video games.  The bright lights and sounds confuse me into thinking I’m having more fun than I am, and I forget every button I press costs me money.  I feel like my Nintendo cheated me as a child, so I know those machines that are literally after my money will for sure.  I just don’t like the disconnect I get from something too much like my Xbox 360.

So I walked by and got a drink.  Then I checked out the Blackjack.

There were no $2 tables.

The lowest on the floor were $5 minimum bet.

When the fuck did that happen?  I want 10 games for my $20.  Now, the most I’m guaranteed is 4 games.  4 fucking games.  Less than half.  I sighed, and sat down by A2.  I managed to last for 8 games without going over my $20 limit.  I was frustrated when the last of my money left so I went to find Kodie.

He was at a slot machine, and I was not sober enough to make good decisions.  In 3 minutes, the evil little robot ate $20 more.  I asked Kodie how he managed to keep the machine going.  He shrugged a timid shrug that suggested he’d spent more than he should have.

Shawn and I found the cheapest slots in the place, and I lost another $10 before I gave up.  It was home time, and I was down $50.

Do all Casino’s suck this much?  Am I remembering things wrong?

Or is the Elbow River Casino where hope goes to die?

Tommy Burger

I barely made it back from Portland in time for Tall’s birthday.  He wanted to go out on Friday night, and I was landing at midnight.  Being the unstoppable force of nature I am, I planned to take a cab home, drop off my bags, and catch up to the party.  The day before I left Oregon, I got a text, saying the festivities had been moved to Tommy Burger on Saturday afternoon.  That meant it would be easier to get there, and Kodie could pick me up at the airport, because he was no longer going to be at a party.  Everything was coming up Joey.  

 

A few months earlier, one of my coworkers, W1, had told me about a restaurant downtown where they served gourmet burgers, like a $40 Kobe Beef burger with lobster and white truffle Hollandaise sauce.  Only in Calgary, kids.    He told me about their wild game burgers, like elk, and the tuna, turkey, and bison.  Gilly was slightly disgusted for what passed for classy in Alberta when I told her about this place.  She couldn’t believe we would be willing to make burgers out of Kobe beef. On the drive home, Kodie was worried about the cost, but glad it was close.   

The next morning, I realized I was wrong.  W1 had told me about Lounge Burger, not Tommy Burger.    

Where we needed to be...

Where we needed to be...

 We were not going to the above restaurant.  My first concern was that Tommy Burger was a far ways South down McLeod Trail.  I called Kodie, who after all these years was still surprised I could be wrong.  His boyfriend, Shawn, was at work with his car.  We called him, and Shawn had thought to find the restaurant before he needed to leave.  He swung by to pick me up, and we grabbed Kodie and headed south.   

   

Tommy Burger turned out to be high-end casual dining rather than gourmet, which suited me better.  Casual dining, for those unfamiliar, means a restaurant is nice but not pretentious, the sort of place you aren’t ashamed to bring a date, but you know every item on the menu.  I don’t have a highly refined palate, as evidenced in my wine country tour.  I will eat anything, and I would try an ostrich burger, or whatever rich people insist on eating, but I generally prefer something simpler.   

We walked in, and the hostess was a beautiful blonde girl in a short dress so tight it looked like she had been dipped in half a bottle of ink.  I decided it was probably best I did the talking, since it would be wasted on the gays.  I told her we were there with people, and gave Tall’s name.  I was about to say something witty and charming, the details of which I won’t type here so that I don’t get promises of undying love from women I’ve never met, but then I remembered she was a hostess. I used to work in a restaurant, back in university.  There I learned the true reason restaurants have hostesses.  Sometimes, a jaw droppingly gorgeous girl will come in and apply for a job.  You would never guess by looking at her, but she turns out to be sixteen.  Alberta law requires servers to be eighteen in a licensed establishment.  Minors can only be employed in positions that don’t handle alcohol.  A restaurant does better with attractive serving staff, and a hostess is an investment in the future.  She has a job right out front, drawing customers into the restaurant, and she starts to learn how things are done.  When she turns eighteen, she can become a server.  

A Classy Interior

A Classy Interior

Jailbait is jailbait.  I bit my tongue and followed her to our table.  We were about twenty, so they put us in a section where our long table had walls on three sides, with just one opening into the rest of the restaurant.  The décor was designed to subtly remind one of a 1950s diner, but with enough restraint to keep it from being tacky.  Over half our party was there, so I let someone else entertain Kodie and Shawn while I perused the drink menu. 

What’s this?  Tokyo Iced Tea?  

Tokyo Iced Tea

Tokyo Iced Tea

Kiwi?  I fucking love Kiwi.  Our waitress was tall and smiled easily, and was too busy to give me her undivided attention.  I stopped flirting and sent her off to get one of these tiny wonders.  

Really, look at that drink.  Think about how good it could possibly be at its best.  It was better than that.  David showed up, and I told him needed to try one.  “Joey, that’s just a long island iced tea with kiwi.”   

“Yeah!  Kiwi!”   

He decided to sit at the far end of the table to avoid me.  I assumed he just didn’t want to compete with me should our cute waitress have three seconds to spare.   

Tall is a giant, and he eats like one.  Meals out with him generally include appetizers, to maximize the amount of food he can possibly consume in a single lifetime.  It was 2:12 by that point, and all that was sloshing around in my stomach was Tokyo Iced Tea, so I figured I had better get a starter.  Then I saw them; Kobe beef sliders.  Despite living reasonably near Kobe in Japan for a year, I never had their beef.  There was enough other exciting food.  Gilly might be right, putting Kobe beef in hamburgers, even tiny hamburgers, might ruin it.  

Also pictured; Shawn's bucket of poutine

Also pictured; Shawn's bucket of poutine

But trust me, sliders are not ruined by Kobe beef.  They were juicy, without being fatty.  I bet that’s what angels taste like.  They were amazing.   

For the main course, you could choose a prebuilt burger, or build your own.  I perused the ingredient list, and found a dilemma.  First of all, they make tamago burgers.  The Japanese may not know a lot about burgers, considering the fact that they won’t put Kobe beef in them, but there is one piece of burger technology they have perfected.  Everywhere you go, every chain, has a tamago burger.  First you take a regular burger.  Then you add a fried egg.  Then you’re done.  You’re welcome.   

But next to the second greatest hangover cure in the world (after Aquarius), was another burger-vation.  That is an innovation specifically related to burgers, by the way.  They would put a pineapple on my burger.  I love pineapple.  Pineapple makes me consider the possibility of a loving god who understands my taste buds.  So now I had to choose between tamago burger and pineapple burger.   

Some of you are probably thinking “Pick both!”  That’s a dangerous option.  What if the savory glory of the egg is compromised by the pristine tang of the pineapple?  In the past, I have melded such diverse ingredients and created chimeras of fantastic taste splendor, such as the Unholy Cheeseburger Pizza.  But that day was not the day to see if fried egg and pineapple mix.   

Mostly because they probably don’t.   

Instead, I had them put on fried onions, bacon, aged cheddar, and I went with pineapple.  

The Burger as Art

The Burger as Art

Some of you might not like the fruit, but let me tell you, this was as good as pineapple gets.  Imagine the best possible outcome for this burger.  Now add 25%.  That’s how good it was.   

 Tommy Burger was high end casual dining.  While it wasn’t the cheapest burger I’ve ever eaten, it didn’t break the bank.  It was worth every penny.  It was one of the best.  Top three, actually, after Freshness Burger and Hawaiian Kitchen in Koichi, Japan.  But if you’re not willing to leave the country, you may have to make due with Tommy Burger.  

 You know, which is like making due with a Rachel McAdams/Jessica Alba threesome.  

So Far, so good...

So Far, so good...

What? No Amy Smart? I'm out of here.

What? No Amy Smart? I'm out of here.

 

Tommy Burger gets 5 stars from me, and if you don’t go check it out, you are either a vegetarian, or you hate yourself.   Which most vegetarians do.  

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Ratings Breakdown:

 Full Stars; Food, Drink, Staff, Price, and Atmosphere.  

Five Star Total

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If you are a Calgary restaurant, and you’d like to have Joey review your restaurant, send an email to joey.stadelmann@gmail.com.