Canada, week 28


That’s right, folks! I’ve officially done enough Canada-related stuff in the past week (and beyond) to merit another Canada update, at long last! Without further ado:

Pillow fight!¬†I’m not actually sure who organized this, but I heard about it from a friend who was going and I was like “dude, I’m so in.” So yeah, I spent part of my Saturday in Nathan Phillips Square in a crowd of people who were whacking each other with pillows, sometimes half-heartedly and sometimes downright viciously. For my part… well, let’s just say I had a lot of pent-up frustration to express, no thanks to the week I had last week, so anybody who tried to dunk on me got pretty solidly walloped. (If any of you are reading this, perchance, sorry about that ūüėā)

What a beautiful day for a giant pillow battle.

Just more pretty Toronto pictures:¬†in case it wasn’t already painfully obvious how much I love this city.

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(I didn’t actually go looking for Honest Ed’s — I just happened upon it. Funny how that tends to happen to me in Toronto.)

Food:¬†I’ve got several highlights from the last few weeks to make up for the lack of Canada posts.

  • Manna Korean Takeout in Westdale. I’ve been eyeing this place ever since I moved here, but I only tried it recently. I feel like getting ramen takeout, which I did at Manna, is just peak college. Holy crap, though, it was so good. I don’t know what the lady there put in the broth — possibly Sriracha? Whatever it was, it reminded me of the ramen my family had every Monday night when I was a kid, which was augmented with a generous dollop of Ragu. Perfect comfort food. I want to go again, but I’m also kind of irrationally afraid that it won’t be as good the second time.
  • Hosu,¬†at Queen and John in Toronto. The place doesn’t exactly stick out amid the explosion of restaurants on this section of Queen Street, but the wonton soup and avocado salad I got (which was quite literally just a thinly sliced portion of avocado on top of some lettuce) was nevertheless good food for a good price.
  • The Starving Artist, at College and Ossington in Toronto. Everything is waffles here. I’m not kidding — everything.¬†Unfortunately, I went late enough that they were only serving dessert waffles, so I have yet to try their lunch options, but you can bet I’ll be back. The two guys on staff when I was there were incredibly nice, too, so the place gets points for great customer service as well.
  • New York Fries. ¬†Shoutout to this place for having poutine gravy that’s so good I still can’t believe it’s vegetable gravy.
  • Eden’s, on Main Street in Hamilton. My cohort met here for breakfast the last day of our Wednesday morning pro-seminar. I was a little too sleepy to remember much about the place beyond (1) the pancakes I got were fantastic, and (2) the place had a piano I somehow resisted the temptation to play.

Also, I’ve got another episode of Grad School Kitchen for ya! I didn’t actually create the recipe in this episode, but I’ve been using it a lot regardless because it’s probably¬†the easiest bread recipe ever. Yeast-free, takes like ten minutes to mix, makes a really thick country-style bread. Storebought? Screw that.

Coffee: Yeah, sure, I’ve been hitting up Augusta and Tim’s a lot, but I do have a couple other places to highlight as well.

  • Cannon Coffee,¬†at Ottawa and Cannon in Hamilton. This place is right across from the church where Sunset Boulevard rehearsals take place, so I’d probably be going there a lot even if it wasn’t anything special. It is absolutely something special, though. I’ve had quite a few things off their menu by this point — maple latte, some phenomenal tea I don’t remember, apple cider, goat cheese and dill scone — and I’ve never been disappointed. (I have yet to try their waffles; I’ll make it out there during waffling hours someday.)
  • Chocolat on James.¬†This place is a candy store and an ice cream shop as well as a coffee place, but I only got a chai latte. The barista was savvy enough to ask if I wanted cinnamon on top, and I now know that is the absolute best way to consume a chai latte ever, so that barista is kind of my hero.

What I’m reading: I worked my way through Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake Two¬†this week, while various loaves of bread were baking. Like any other Vonnegut work, it messed me up. In a good way… I think. For example:

Or try this on for size:

Yeah. I’ll just leave that there. ¬†Along those lines, though…

Action items: ¬†As always, pay attention to all the important stuff Celeste Pewter is saying on Twitter. ¬†Also keep an eye on the special senatorial election in Georgia; depending on how big voter turnout it, Jon Ossoff could have a real chance at winning Tom Price’s old seat. ¬†If you live in Georgia or know anybody in Georgia, particularly in that district, go vote or encourage your friends to go vote. ¬†Even if you’re like me and don’t live in Georgia, spread the word.

What I’m watching:¬†Buffy,¬†of course (and there’ll be more of that coming this week!), but also Bomb Girls,¬†for a different class and a different paper. Bomb Girls is so soapy and melodramatic — and surprisingly graphic in a couple places? Maybe I’m just squeamish but I had to look away — but even so, I’m captivated. The main characters are very realistically flawed, they screw up in some really morally gray ways, and the show embraces that ambivalence rather than trying to neatly resolve things. (For the most part, anyway. Gladys, as much as I like her, is a little too perfect.)


I’ll probably be back in a couple days with more Buffy livetweeting. Till then, adieu!


Canada, weeks 9 and 10


Hey all! ¬†You may have noticed I didn’t post an update last week. ¬†It was a slow excitement week and a fast grad school week, meaning there wasn’t all that much to report. ¬†So I’m making one post about the past two weeks!

Here are the highlights:

  • York University: ¬†My fellow RAs and I took a day trip up to York for research purposes, not last Thursday but the Thursday before. ¬†The campus itself is a little dreary–OU people, imagine the basement of Dale Hall as an entire campus and you’ll basically be picturing York–but I got pictures of a couple cool spots.
  • Steel City Jazz Fest: ¬†I got to go see Jazz Connection for free on Friday night, and it was AWESOME. ¬†The first tune they played was “Count Bubba,” which I remember playing in my high school jazz band, so that was a trip and a half.
    The venue itself, The Pearl Company, was perfect. ¬†It’s a multilevel theater space; we were on the second floor, which I guess is more for performances like this, readings, the like. ¬†The seating was the biggest mishmash of chairs I’ve ever seen in my life, and the whole place just had such an endearingly rough-hewn vibe. ¬†I really hope I get to attend more events there in the future.
  • HIVEX2016: ¬†On Saturday, I woke up super early and got abnormally dolled up for Hamilton HIVE’s annual young professionals conference, HIVEX. ¬†It was well worth the early alarm; I learned a layered method for pitching an idea, listened to a presentation on storytelling in branding, and got a lot of tips about media relations (how to do interviews, how to interact with reporters, etc.). ¬†And that’s to say nothing of the lunch they provided. ¬†I hadn’t had pulled pork since…….. well, I don’t know how long it had been precisely, but I hadn’t had it since I moved here. ¬†My inner Southerner was very happy.
  • Jackson Square: ¬†Lemme tell ya, being in a mall in an entirely different country is a surreal experience. ¬†The ceilings were so much lower than those in Woodland Hills, back home, and I didn’t know any of the stores. ¬†It felt more like an airport terminal than a mall to me. ¬†With that said, though, this part (which is technically part of Hamilton City Centre, whatever) did remind me of Woodland Hills a little:
  • I keep forgetting to shout out James Street Bookseller, right near Cafe Augusta. ¬†The place has a great atmosphere and a nice mix of really old and really new books. ¬†Plus, Guillermo del Toro had been in there literally the day before I stopped by. ¬†So there’s that.
  • I saw my first¬†Mountie over the weekend! ¬†Didn’t think to get a picture, unfortunately.

Along those lines, here’s another episode of¬†Minor Differences!

  • I’m pretty sure what Americans call¬†business (in the context of university courses and majors), Canadians call¬†commerce.
  • Here, people call it a¬†washroom¬†rather than a¬†bathroom.
  • Unions¬†are gigantic in Canada, especially in Hamilton because it is/was a steel city. ¬†Apparently TAs, RAs, and sessional (adjunct) faculty have their own union; that was actually one of the first things we learned about at our TA orientation, so I was all like
    I asked one of my professors about it, and he said Reagan basically gutted unionized labor in the States during his administration.
    At any rate, there’s been a lot of fuss over the past couple weeks regarding our own union’s negotiations and a strike vote. ¬†It’ll be interesting to follow what happens with that.
  • Speaking of, what we call¬†adjuncts¬†in the US are¬†sessionals in Canada.
  • Canadians aRE¬†OBSESSED WITH THE ELECTION PLEASE GOD MAKE IT STOP. ¬†(Side note, I’m wildly jealous of Canada’s month-long election cycle. ¬†I’m so tired. ¬†I’m just so tired.)
  • British spellings. ¬†Still not used to those.
  • Toronto versus Hamilton, on the subject of¬†saying thank you to bus drivers. ¬†This debate legit almost tore our class apart last week–it was hysterical to watch. ¬†The Torontonians among us were adamant about not saying thank you to bus drivers, and the Hamiltonians were horrified and insisted that of course you say thank you to bus drivers. ¬†I was just sitting there like
  • Plum sauce is huge here; people eat it with chicken strips a lot. ¬†I’m not entirely sure why it’s such a big thing, but I’ve been converted.
  • Apparently there are no go-buttons you can press at crosswalks? ¬†I’ve been looking for those pretty much the whole time I’ve been here, and I haven’t found a single one. ¬†Not that the ones in the US are actually super effective, but I’ve realized it’s nice to have that illusion of control.
  • Card readers. ¬†I’m so used to having the cashier swipe my card for me, but in Canada a cashier will literally just hand me the swiper and I have to do everything myself. ¬†Not a bad thing, necessarily, just something to get used to.

On the next episode of Minor Differences, in some future post:  education.

Now for another episode of Gorgeous Hamilton Churches!


This one is right across from Durand Coffee.

What I’m watching: ¬†Dark Matter¬†season 2.


I liked the first season a lot, but this season has been absolutely brilliant so far. ¬†To say it leveled up feels like a giant understatement. ¬†The writing is so tight, nobody’s been OOC so far, and they’ve doubled down on the moral complexity from season 1. ¬†(I’m only on episode 5, so no spoilers!)

Coffee:  Mulberry Coffee House, on James Street.

Great atmosphere, fantastic chai, readily available outlets. ¬†They don’t have wifi, which kind of limits the circumstances in which I can actually go here, but I honestly got so much done on my presentation for research methods in the three or so hours I was there.

Food: ¬†Again, I didn’t really have time to go anywhere special this week, but I just want to give a shoutout to Williams again. ¬†They have fairly cheap grilled cheeses, and I had one last week, and it was soul food. ¬†I needed that grilled cheese.

Bonus, though: ¬†it’s time for another episode of¬†Grad School Kitchen!

I haven’t found Hot Pockets here (maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough, but whatever), but when I was at Shoppers a couple weeks ago, I did find “pizza pockets.” ¬†They honestly taste like knockoff Hot Pockets with a weird-flavored crust, but I found out just the other night that if you spread goat cheese on top of ’em, they taste¬†really¬†good.



That’s it for this fortnight! ¬†I’ll be back next week, hopefully, and I’ll tell you all about the presentation I’m giving tomorrow in my research methods class… ūüôā

Canada, week 8


Oh man, is it time for another update again? ¬†It’s totally time for another update again!

I don’t know about all of you, but this week has just flown by for me. ¬†And it’s been one packed week, too, so without further ado:

The Paper Street Journal knows how to do Halloween. ¬†I’ll admit it, I wanted to go to this shindig almost entirely so I could bust out my Phryne Fisher costume:


But the party itself was great too! ¬†They got some super-talented bands to perform; GREY \\ WATER reminds me of the xx in the best way possible, and Edgar Breau was so delightfully folksy that he made me miss Oklahoma something fierce. ¬†They rented out the Staircase Theater on Dundurn, this amazing vintage theater. ¬†(I may or may not have briefly played the piano in the theater proper…) ¬†Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, and the lighting wouldn’t have been good anyway, but you can bet I’ll be back in the future.

The Dap-Queen: ¬†I won a free ticket to see a screening of¬†Miss Sharon Jones! on Saturday night, as part of the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s film festival. ¬†They screened the film at Collective Arts Brewing, so y’know, I got to sit in the middle of a working brewery. ¬†That was pretty cool. ¬†The movie itself was even more emotionally brutal than I’d been bracing for–I knew Sharon Jones had had cancer, but they showed her going through chemo several times, so my wimpy needlephobic self had to look away from the screen on a couple occasions. ¬†But the music was phenomenal, and Sharon herself is a¬†force of nature on stage. ¬†She’s so dynamic. ¬†Even if she weren’t wearing the hippest, most sparkly dresses known to humankind at every show, your eyes would still be drawn to her.

I think the most moving scene for me was when she went to church, still in the throes of chemo, and felt compelled to get up and belt a gospel song and dance like she did at her concerts.  Her feet were going a mile a minute, and afterwards she sat down and just gasped for breath for a solid minute.  I felt so viscerally how badly she wanted to dance, so when she finally sat back down again, I was almost gasping along with her.


Buffer Festival: ¬†There were so many great screenings and panels at Buffer, and I only wish I could have gone to more of them. ¬†But alas, things cost money and things are expensive, so I only ended up going to the LGBT+ screening on Sunday. ¬†It was 500% worth it–the quality of filmmaking on display was fantastic, and the panelists themselves were all so cool. ¬†I went in only knowing Kaitlyn Alexander, but I came out wanting to check out everybody else’s YouTube channels.


Before the panel.

I rode my first Canadian train! ¬†The Gardiner Expressway was closed for maintenance this weekend, meaning I had to take my normal Hamilton-Toronto bus to the Aldershot train station, figure out how trains worked in a right hurry (sue me, it’s been over four years since I went to England), and take a train to Union Station. ¬†It was kind of slow going, actually–I definitely like the bus better.

Coffee:  Durand Coffee is a bit of a walk down Caroline Street.  I first went there when it was raining outside, so I was a little miserable and my TOMS were a lot soaked by the time I got there,* but I loved the place nonetheless.  The decor is gorgeous, for one thing.

I want to go there someday when I don’t have homework or grading to worry about and just spend a day reading the books they have on their shelves.

Coffee-wise, I had something they call an “autumn spice latte”–cinnamon and nutmeg, very reminiscent of Finch on Locke’s cinnamon brown butter latte from two weeks ago. ¬†Deeeeeeeee-lish. ¬†10/10 would recommend.

*Side note, please remind me NEVER to wear TOMS outside when I know it’s raining. ¬†I have no idea why I always do this to myself.

Food: ¬†I hit up Maki My Way, on King St., with a friend before Buffer on Sunday. ¬†It’s a sushi place with remarkably fast service–I got my rainbow roll¬†maybe¬†five minutes after I ordered it. ¬†I’d never tried a rainbow roll before, so I can’t really comment on the quality of this specific rainbow roll as compared to Yokozuna or something, but it’s definitely something I’ll get again.

Also, I got fried tofu for an appetizer, and it was¬†heavenly. ¬†(I feel like that’s the most American thing I could have possibly ordered off that menu, but it’s whatever.)

Bonus: ¬†This week you get another installment of Grad School Kitchen! ¬†Our special guests are the packets of tamarind sauce I got with frozen chicken samosas. ¬†I didn’t use the sauce for the samosas, but there was no way I was going to waste it (I’ve gotten WAY weirder about not eating food I bought in the last couple months), so I’ve been putting it in other stuff.

An Incomplete List of Things That Are Bettered by the Addition of Tamarind Sauce:

  • chicken noodle soup
  • ramen
  • scrambled eggs

I plan to add it to poutine later this week.  Will report back.

Music: ¬†Guess what I’m going to put here. ¬†Just guess.

Also, this one’s just plain catchy.

See y’all next week!