Friday, June 30, 2006

Canada Day! Our National Day of Celebration on July 1st... but if that doesn't work for you...

Canada Day this year in London comes on June 30. Yes, yes, Sheena realizes what she's just said. But you see, there are other more pressing issues over here, as many of you ignorant Colonials probably have failed to appreciate.

Earlier this week, Sheena squealed and had to be peeled off the ceiling when she was offered a name on the checklist at the Official Taxpayer Subsidized Federally Sanctioned Canada Day event at Trafalgar Square.

But then she was informed.. yabbut it's on Friday. Hope that works for you. Umm.. No. Because Canada Day is SATURDAY. Not FRIDAY. So why the hell do I need to readjust my schedule to celebrate Canada on June 30? Eh?

So instead Sheena rushes out to meet up with fellow Dominionites at the legendary Maple Leaf pub where the festivities are well under way.

And then I saw this:

Well. Isn't that interesting. Sheena wondered if maybe festivities got out of control last year. But it seems that between World Cup Fever and a big old pint of London Pride, the thought of a few hundred Molson soaked hosers was more than the bobbies could possibly handle.

So, Friday it was.

Caught the last couple of hours of the live music at Trafalgar Square. Ron Sexsmith was just lovely.

It was great fun, despite the fact that the specially procured Molson Canadians were piss warm and in very short supply. Hilarious running into ex-colleagues from 8 years ago minutes into the event.

I AM a Compromiser!

New Hotel Smell

Hilton opened up a new Hotel at Canary Wharf this week. Didn't get a chance to stay there, but was determined to drop in for a drink one night this week. It's often a bad idea to visit a new restaurant or bar in the first couple of weeks as they work out the logistical kinks, but it was a special occasion. And bad service makes for good blogging, so what the hell.

"Cinnamon" was the name of the lobby bar. Interesting cocktail menu, so as I waited for my companions to join me, I ordered the signature drink, the Cinnamon martini. Vodka, cinnamon schnapps, lime juice. "I'm so sorry", the waiter informed me, "We didn't get our Cinnamon delivery in". Off to a stellar start. So I ordered the "Marsh Wall" instead. Peppered vodka, peach schnapps, pineapple juice, basil and strawberries. Very yummy, but the strawberries kept getting clogged in the straw so was very annoying for the last few sips. Had to keep trying to clear the airway, and was paranoid I was going to blow strawberry juice all over the walls. Switched to a South African Sauvignon Blanc after that.

Sheena likes this trend over here of using peppered vodka and crushed chiles in fruity drinks. Interesting combination of soothing and spicy. Must buy some for home this summer.

Was very odd that the waiter brought us separate checks with every individual drink. When we were ready to go I picked up about a 3 inch stack of paper chits and settled up with the credit card. Commented to him that it was odd, and he replied that it was "Hilton policy". Right. Whatever.

The bathroom kind of weirded me out. Sheena understands that Brit ladies like their privacy, but completely enclosed stalls with no escape hatch almost made me claustrophobic. What if the door handled jammed? What if the lock broke? Barely a millimetre of gap at the bottom and top. No one could ever see you.

Over to La Tasca Tapas Bar. Gorgeous night so we sat on the patio under the glow of money from the surrounding bank towers. Had the Patatas a la Pobre (roasted potato & sweet peppers) and Ensalada de Tomate y Queso de Cabra (tomato and goat cheese salad) to start. Ordered a bottle of Alsina y Sardá Brut Grand Reserva Cava. Decent spanish bubbly, but at £26, would have rather had 4 Argentinian Moets.

Shared the Paella Valenciana (chicken & seafood). Ordered for 2, but it was enough for 4 people. Wished I had a fridge to take back a most excellent doggy bag. Downside to eating outside was that it was rather dark, so when you thought you were grabbing a shrimp, it turned out to be a hunk of chicken. Made the dining experience more interesting, I suppose.

Toasted to good times, good friends. And smokin' hot Spanish waiters in tight pants.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Word of the Day #1

Sheena expanded her vocabulary this week courtesy of some UK-based associates and related hangers-on. The word of the day that I share with you is "Minger". Basic definition is: "An ugly or unattractive person".

According to authoritative sources, the term originates either from Australia, or maybe Wales, though is most widely used in Northern England and Scotland. Gaining traction since the early '90s, the Minger phenomenon has given birth to public service data sources such as (See "Minger of the Week"), (a refreshing alternative to 'Hot or Not', as well as inspiring a whole new consumer demographic.

Now, Sheena's problem this week is that she has things to do. People to see. Things got all messed up when I looked at a message passed to me, and the guy's title was listed as "Mgr".

Uh oh.

When I spoke with the Account Manager, all I could think was "Account Minger". Now guy who settled the evening drink tab is the Bar Minger. The nice lady who coordinates the courier packages is the Office Minger.

Now, Sheena knows that more than one geekoid reads her blog. With that I leave to you all an endless world of possibilities as you navigate the perilous world of project, product, network, database, and website mingers. Enjoy.

Monday, June 26, 2006

One More Good Thing

About visiting the National Observatory and paying attention to the standard weights and measures display:

Never fall for that old "six inches, baby" routine again.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It's About Time

Very limited personal time this week, so when a spare couple of hours popped up, Sheena and krewe wandered over to the Centre of Time and Space ....

before getting some pie, mash and peas for breakfast at Goddard's Pie Shop.

Visited the National Observatory in Greenwich and did a wonderful (ie, free) self-guided tour of the birthplace of regulated time, measurement and other aspects of control that surely inspired Mussolini decades later.

Realized my new hero is John Harrison. Inventor of four of the most significant time pieces in history, he who laid the groud work for safe and reliable intercontinetal travel. Today's visit to one of the most influential centres of research into the earthly time/space continuum was deeply moving.

It struck me that the one thing in this entire world that Sheena takes for granted is time. That's right. I haven't worn a watch in years. Maybe even going on a decade. I have some lovely time pieces, including an heirloom Gucci, but as a rule, never wear a watch.

It's because I always know what time it is. It's in the air. Cell phones, computers, TVs, public clocks, other people, cash registers, cable news TV, credit card slips, cigarette machines, subway stations, blackberries, car dashboards... there is always a way to know what time it is.

Today helped remind me that it wasn't always like this. Sailors sunk, trains crashed, farmers starved, businesses failed in the days before time was put under human control. What a tremendous leap into the modern age it was when men figured out how to draw imaginary lines on the earth as they already had in the sky.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sheena's Travel Tip #3

Don't Threaten the Hotel Staff With Physical Violence.

Chinese take-away dinner from the biggest floating restaurant in London. Note that the London Arena pictured prominently in the background of The Lotus is now about 1/3 under demolition.

Not bad hot & sour soup. Pretty standard mix of BBQ pork, cashew chicken, shredded duck, etc etc. Then back to ABO (Sheenavision passim) for a couple of Pimm's cocktails.

But zut alors!

Walking into the hotel lobby around midnight, Sheena was unprepared for the megaton dose of Ugly American that awaited her and the other 30 people milling about the reception area. Clearly some consultant with Holiday Inn Guy hair and big bright white runners had had his fill of the charmingly coquettish air conditioning system. (It was 30 degrees celcius IN the room when I checked in Tuesday afternoon, but je digress...) Mid-rant, the hotel receptionist's phone rang, and sniper-tower-wound-up suburban guy grabs the receiver from the cowering desk clerk and slams it down. "Don't you pick up that phone again. You're talking to ME"...

Oh my.

The amazingly patient and now long off duty hotel manager sat Walmart guy down and calmed him down with a pint of Dockland's finest. Buddy insists that he will stay in the lobby all day and all night advising all other guests of his sweaty predicament until he puts the place out of business. He's a big shot with ******* Bank, so he's entitled to do these sorts of things.

Things are quiet now. I'm hogging free wireless and considering some Strongbow Cider. Watching Arseholio Hall snooze in the lobby chair 20 feet away.

He looks peaceful now.

Makes you wonder if he's such a dickhead in his own neighbourhood.

Secret Office Memos #2

Prerequsite reading is Secret Office Memos #1.

Now, Sheena has been in lengthy discussions with her source, as well as various other peripheral players trying to puzzle this one out. But to date, none of can figure out just how the hell this person is doing it. I've run out of ideas.

The floor is open.

Stephen Harper is One Sorry Prime Minister

PM Harper Delivers Long Awaited Apology for Oppressive Discriminatory Taxes Targeted at Specific Segments of Canadian Society

PM apologizes in House of Commons for GST on tampons

Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a message of redress today in the House of Commons for a GST on tampons once applied to Women immigrants, calling it a "grave injustice." "The Canada we know today would not be what it is without the work of Women workers," said Harper.

He added that Women immigrants were a crucial part of "the most important nation building exercise in Canadian history -- the construction of Chatelaine Magazine"

The government will offer symbolic payments to living GST on tampons payers and living spouses of deceased payers. Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda said the amount would be $20,000 each. She also said the government will spend $24 million on a "community historical recognition program," of which $2.5 million will be allocated towards promoting awareness of the GST on tampons and white-shoes after Labour Day prohibitions imposed on the Women community. "We believe that representatives of the Women community can best recommend the types of projects that will provide a lasting, meaningful legacy," said Oda during a reception Thursday afternoon for community members. She added that a separate $10 million "national historical recognition program" will focus on increasing awareness about the discrimination faced by the Women and other ethno-cultural groups affected by budget balancing measures and monthly tennis-playing restrictions.

Women-Canadian groups had expected the government would offer a multi-million-dollar compensation package to survivors who paid it, widows and their children. "The apology, (one that is) sincere and in depth, is very important because Women have been in this country for over 150 years," Gim Wong, a Canadian-born son of a GST on tampons payer and Second World War veteran, told Canada AM Thursday. "They contribute so much to the country and building the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) alone -- when as many as 4,000 died out of 15,000 or 16,000 -- that is horrific."

Between 1991 and 2006, some 81,000 Women immigrants had to pay as much as $500 to menstruate in Canada, an amount equivalent to about two years salary today.
A lawyer for the Ontario Coalition of Women GST On Tampons Payers & Families said collection of the tax stopped in 1923, but "the government replaced it...with an Exclusion Act from 1923 to 1947." Waterskiing activities during that period had been banned entirely. "So for 24 years, Women were not allowed to come to Canada to have their Period," Avvy Go told Canada AM from Ottawa on Thursday.

Some of the Women Canadians -- who paid to get into the country at the turn of the 20th Century -- their spouses and descendants arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday. The group had been travelling across the country on a VIA Rail train dubbed the "Red River Express".
Few of the thousands of people who actually paid the tax are still alive. Using the railroad is an intentional bit of symbolism for the group, which started off from Vancouver last Friday.
"The purpose of tying this in with a railway ride is to remind ourselves that the railroad is part of the mythology of Canada and helped build Canada," said Susan Eng, co-chair of the Coalition of Women GST on tampons Payers. "And we have to remember the Women workers who gave their lives to build this country." Ralph Lung Kee Lee, 106, came to Canada as a 12-year-old boy and worked on the railroad starting at age 17. He paid the discriminatory tax on behalf of his mother. "We are happy to be here because it's been, you know, a long waiting for this to come," said Linda Ing, his daughter. He was carrying a ceremonial "last maxipad" to deliver to the prime minister.

On Nov. 7, 1885, the Hon. Donald Alexander Smith hammered in the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Craigellachie, B.C. However, Women railway workers, who had flooded in by the thousands starting in 1881, weren't allowed to attend that ceremony.
Some Women-Canadian groups wanted payments of between $10,000 and $21,000 for surviving immigrants, widows and first-generation children. Similar payments were made by the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney to Japanese-Canadians interned during the Second World War. "Apologies will be hollow words without substance behind it. It's important that there be some kind of token gesture while they are sill alive to see it," Eng told reporters. However, the apology itself is crucial, she said.
"An apology means that there is a public and official acknowledgment that this was legislation that was unreservedly sexist ... and this is something that the government of the day has chosen, properly, to apologize for."

Oh, come on... a girl can dream... can't she?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Seven Days War

Desperate for edible foodstuffs, Sheena gave up on the trendy-shite-pub scene and settled for a reliable source of nourishment and comfort.

Yes. The Cafe Rouge is indeed a chain restaurant. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And screw it. I confess. I love the Cafe Rouge.

Sheena discovered it last winter during a dreary stay in Greenwich. I now understand why it is called "Mean Time". I ate there everynight because the Pie House scared the bejeezus out of me with those jellied-eel special signs in the window.

Bistro comfort food. A kitchen that is open past 10pm. Cheap but adequate wine list. Nightly specials. Dessert menu that stirs one's willpower to shop for bigger jeans next payday.

We needed a break from the fragile egos of the sheltered twenty-something waitstaff of Britain's whinger class. These waitresses were lovely, hardworking charmingly accented Continental types who could crack a smile without sarcasm and double-check on any off-menu requests. Merci, my lovelies.

Steak frites. Mayo on the side without asking. A bliss-out rose to start with the homemade chicken liver parfait that put a sparkle into the most jaded Aussie farmer eye. Creme Brulee perfectly blowtorched as only a prison-break Martha could possibly conceive.

Good night my friends. Good frickin night.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Secret Office Memos #1

Sent to me today.

If any of Sheena's readers has any small children who still don't consistently wash their hands after using the restroom, please feel free to forward them a link to this post.

It's All on the Table Tonight

Sheena ingested the most god-awful piece of alleged animal by-product this evening in the form of a "burger" at a nearby pub this evening. Sure, it was only £2, but the good lord clearly had mercy on some cow who escaped their fate by hiding in a potato sack. I'm still picking strands of burlap out of my teeth.

No condiments, no lettuce or tomato, nothing. Plainy plain face as all get out. I believe I became dehydrated after about 3 bites. An IV drip was summoned. It was that dry.

Decided to consume a cocktail elsewhere. A travelling companion suggested "That Scottish place on the corner across the street from that place last night".


As we approached the corner, I pointed at the establishment and asked "Do you mean THAT Scottish place?". Yes, he replied confidently. "Oh, yes....", Sheena nodded, "Smollensky's... yes, yes of course".

Walked in and sat at one of the few free tables. It was dirty from the previous couple of patrons. Bits of beer label. Dirty ashtray. Smushed up strawberry and plastic garnish holder. I never know which place is table service and what's bar service over here. So when none of the precious black-clad moussed pretty boys bothered to move their clenched little asscheeks, one of our party got up and placed the order.

I loved the Chillito: A mojito, but with a few hot peppers muddled in with the mint, and a little touch of ginger ale. Very yummy. Like eating a cinnamon heart candy on Valentine's Day. Definitely a do-at-home idea.

Asked three times for someone to please swallow their clearly hard-earned dignity and wipe the frickin dirty table. One "didn't do drinks, only food service". One was "busy, but will get right to it". Busy, yeah. Playing pre-crackpot Tom Cruise and shooting trick rum shots out of his eardrum into a laboratory test tube.

It never got wiped.

With 11 nights left out here, three guesses where my money ain't gonna be spent....

Lies the Brits Told Me...

The drinking laws in Britain changed last fall, now permitting licensed establishments to serve alcohol 24 hours a day. Critics were convinced that such liberalization would result in "drink-fuelled Armageddon".

Well, it hasn't. Trust me. I've been looking.

The problem is that even though pubs CAN be licensed to stay open and serve 24/7, hardly any of them do. Most of the pubs in London still shut down around 11pm. Even mainstream hotel bars call last orders sometime between midnight at 2am. And last January, when Sheena frantically tried to google the address of the Maple Leaf Pub in a last ditch attempt to find a broadcast of the midnight-GMT-start final of the World Junior Hockey tournament, she was informed not to bother cabbing it over, they were closing at 11:30pm.

Last night after watching England tie the Swedes in a less-than-electric tepid hotel bar full of disappointed patrons who blew 3 quid on cover charge so the bar could rent a giant screen TV for the month, we popped over to the Canary Wharf location of All Bar One in an effort to find civilized conversation and perhaps some interesting tapas to kill the aftertaste of the pub pizza.
ABO is a great spot after work - designer gins, good wine list (including the lovely D'Arenberg Hermit Crab which is Sheena's 2nd favourite white), and all sorts of neat Pimm's concoctions.

The quality of the service changed quite drastically between our 7pm visit and our 10:45pm visit. At 7pm, the Pimm's Royale (Pimm's topped off with Moet & Chandon) had fruit slices and ice. At 10:45 it was plain. The kitchen shut down right as we walked in the door and we were rushed with the drink order because it was nearing 11. And despite the extensive gin list, they couldn't make a martini. Everything seemed so needlessly difficult. So my companion settled for a Blighty Mojito. Gin instead of white rum. And cucumbers added in with the mint.

Cucumbers. Ironic, eh? Trying to get pickled and all we get are cucumbers.

Monday, June 19, 2006

FIFA Foe From....

Perhaps Sheena has lost a little bit of her Canadian soul, but there has been more World Cup soccer consumed in the last 2 weeks than hockey over the entire NHL season. Maybe my perspective is bigger these days, more interested in how the World protects its nuts than just Lord Stanley and his cup.

It took me awhile to decide who to cheer for. Ukraine? In honour of my half-bohunk heritage? Brasil? Proven winner and best drumming bands? Perhaps a feel-good story like Togo or T N T or Ghana. Or do I support my home continent and ask for a swift beating by yelling out "U-S-A!! U-S-A!!" at every chance?

Most fun I've had at a sports bar in ages was last Saturday afternoon, watching Italy v. USA. Went down to a little pub near my new neighbourhood in Little Stabbingtown. A gang of snarkmeisters sitting behind us, adding to the perfect mood. By the end of the match we'd finalized the cast for "Miracle on Grass II". With Don Cheadle as the guy whose goal got called back, and K-Fed as a greasy Italian backfielder. Leslie Nielsen as the Italian coach and Matt Damon as "Pretty Boy" McBride with the bloodied nose. Still hadn't quite finalized Sheena's loyalty though...

So, at last I decided to vote with my Airmiles and pull for Argentina. The host country to my lovely vacation a couple of months back. Land of the hand-stitched futbols, melty beef and highway anarchy.

So imagine my shock this afternoon when I called some Brit associates in preparation for my trip out tonight. They were wrapping up for the day and heading to the pub. They extended an invitation for me to join them tomorrow after I land to see the England v. Sweden game. I heartily agreed, just pleased as punch to be included as one of the guys...

And then they asked me who I was cheering for this year. And I told them.

And I heard a click, and some static... "Hello? Hello???"....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Afternoon Television

Growing up, Sunday afternoons were rarely spent in front of the television, but on those rainy or cold or stomach flu days when nothing else was going on, Sheena remembers colouring or playing board games with pillows and blankets on the floor with the TV on in the background. Old movies, musicals, biblical epics (depending on the time of year).

This afternoon, in between trips to the laundry, CTV played "The Waiting Game", a made-for-TV-movie based on a Harlequin Romance novel.

OK, fine.

But simulated blow job scenes? Handcuffing half naked men to the bed? Steamy grinding and clearly topless women in the shadow of candlelight? At 5pm on a Sunday afternoon on basic package cable Channel 8?

Sheena is no prude, but come on. Schlock sex between C-list Canadian actors and soap stars belongs after 10pm. Thank God stunt-casted Paula Abdul stayed vertical.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Playing with Sheena's Pussy

Sitting around the dinner table. A bottle of Flat Rock Pinot Noir into the conversation.

Kickin' back, relaxing, Sheena says to her dining companion: "You know what? I haven't played my all-time favourite after-dinner game in ages".

"What game is that", he enquired.

"Babushka Kitty". "I haven't played Babushka Kitty in ages", I said.

He didn't know WTF I was talking about, and Sheena became concerned and worried about her choice in dinner companions.

"BABUSHKA KITTY!!!" How can you not know what Babushka Kitty is?

So I proceeded to demonstrate. Take one linen napkin folded something like this to make a right-angled triangle. Probably best to do this after dinner is over and there is no intention to re-use the napkin again before laundering.

Bring the two ends together and tie them loosely.

Find the cat.

Put the napkin over kitty's head, and gently tighten the two ends so as to form a Kitty Babushka. You are done. Unless you now need a bandage or two. THEN you are done.

Sheena invites her readers to post their own Babushka Kitty photos and send links. I dunno, maybe it's just a Winnipeg thang.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ontario Whine Awards

Who? Sheena, flying solo

What? 2006 Ontario Wine Awards Consumer Tasting Night

Where? The Distillery Historic District, Fermenting Cellar

When? Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm

How? A long and winding story, complete with the tragi-comic antics of an oversold event, the hubris of one who waited too late to call, and the heroic tale of a man with an ill-gotten sponsorship ticket...

What a fun time, though would have been way funner with a wine-enthusiast pal attached at the hip, but only one ticket surfaced through the clandestine network of the post-Gomery world of arms length essential public services...

Sheena's heart skipped a beat walking into the candlelit historic property. Towers of glasses glistening in the glow, dozens of tabletops with full bottles at her beck and call, hunks of good Quebec cheeses sliding off the plates, winemakers and their trusted marketing mavens standing at attention, waiting for inspection.

The first choice was the most intimidating. Recognizing the limited time span, and the requirement to get herself home, the tasting had to be ruthlessly strategic. Pouring out all but the most superb would be mandatory. Anything on the LCBO general list stricken from the list like a redundant North American call centre in the global economy. When in doubt, never panic. Go straight to the bubbly. First thing tried was the non vintage Peller Cristalle. The 2005 Gold Medal winner and while lovely, a little pricey at $30. Sheena has a soft spot for Rosé Bruts, so the Henry of Phlegm Cuvee Catharine was a quick second spot. Probably my fave Niagara bubbly right now.

Moved on to reds next. The highlights:

Inniskillin 2003 Pinot Noir (Montague Estate). Not normally a fan of Inniskillin, but this was the prettiest pinot of the night. Deserving of the gold. Deep dark cherries.

Southbrook 2004 Triomphus Syrah. Big, full, smokey with beautiful deep garnet colour. And the hottie winemaker who I first thought was Ben Johnson didn't hurt...

Best thing of the night: Creekside Lost Barrel Red 2002. Yowza. Perhaps a reason to actually spend $45 on a Canadian wine. If there's any left for sale..

Two mood ruining moments. Why do people wear strongly scented colonges to a wine tasting event when your nose is supposed to be your best friend? And why do old guys like to pretend that the table top is their neighbourhood bar and stand around pontificating with every miniscule sniff and swirl in front of the wine maker when people are standing behind them with empty glasses. The winemaker doesn't actually care that you get a nose of peanut butter and banana off the stem of the glass. Just STFU and back away from the table.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I have a Crush on you....

At last, Sheena was able to check out Crush Wine Bar on King St. W in Toronto.

Got there a bit early, so hung out at the lovely dark wood bar waiting for the rest of the coven to arrive. Sipped on a very nice Riesling from Carrick estates in New Zealand. Don't recall trying a NZ Riesling before. Very nice and tart. Lime/citrus overtones. First sniff made the saliva glands go into overdrive without even tasting it.

The June 30, 2006 Wine Spectator was on the bar, so I leafed through it. Very interesting article on the increasingly ubiquitous Michel Rolland. Of Mondovino fame, Michel Rolland. Though Wine Spectator does not mention it once that I could see. Hmmm...

On to dinner.

Sheena did the white wine flight (4 x 2 oz tastings for $20). 2004 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie, Château du Coing, 2002 Vouvray Brut, Château Gaudrelle, 2004 Sancerre, Domaine Cherrier et Fils, 2002 Savennières ‘Clos de Saint-Yves’, Domaine des Baumard. All lovely companions to my din-din of 3 oysters on the half shell (squeeze of lemon only), and the munchie platter of rabbit terraine, scallops and goat cheese.

One of the companions did the red flight. 2003 Chinon, Domaine de Beausejour, 2003 Bourgeuil ‘Les Quartiers’, Yannick Amirault, 2003 Menetou-Salon ‘Les Cris’, Domaine Henry Pellé, and 2002 St. Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Éclipse’, Frederic Mabileau. Was fun to hear the sommelier tell the story of Bourgueil and St. Nicolas de Bourgueil being the Springfield and Shelbyville of French wine growing regions. Thought it was cool that they did 3 Cabernet Francs and 1 Pinot Noir. Cab Francs in Niagara that I know and love much deeper and heartier than these.

What a great facility. Beautiful private dining rooms on the lower level for functions and special events.

Couldn't stop reading the full wine list and I think my companions thought I was being rude. They had the Stratus Red from Niagara at $89. Rare to see it at all, and gave Sheena sweet comfort that the 1/2 case still packed away somewhere in a moving box was a good investment last fall...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Enjoy Fine Dining in Great Restaurants Without the Messiness of Having to Actually Talk to People!

Today's discovery: Well, not "exactly" discovered today. I've seen a couple of people use it before and have been intrigued. But today Sheena signed up for her very own account and has her first 100 "dining points" sitting her in inbox.

Cool concept. Login at your convenience 24/7 to make restaurant reservations at any number of thousands of places world wide. Send out cutesy stupid invitations to your party. Automatically export to Outlook Calendars. Neato...

My only worry is that the E-bay fever that I've so adeptly avoided will mutate into a new form with this service after reading this little gem buried in the FAQs...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sears Really IS the New Eaton's...

Beautiful afternoon in Toronto, so Sheena embarked on a brisk 30-some minute walk downtown to the Eaton Centre to do her share to stimulate the economy.

And to show that I'M NOT AFRAID TM. Yeah, whatever.

The good all purpose nylons that are a Sheenawear staple were 30% off at Sears, so grabbed a half-dozen and sauntered over to the desk that was ironically named "Service".

There were 3 clerks. A line up of about 8 people. Because it was only the accessories section, I assumed that turnaround time would be reasonably quick.

Two thoughts went through Sheena's mind, 10 minutes later. One was the annoyingly overused daffynition of ASS-U-ME and the other was about Paul Desmarais.

I rememeber last year chuckling with other online compadres about the 2005 Statememt by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives which rails against the falling productivity of Canadian workers and then reading the list of signatories which were mostly old men who'd had their fingers in political pies for years. But today made me think again.

Perhaps Sears had read that stunningly brilliant document and decided to transform their customer service kiosks into multi-tasking all purpose one stop transaction centres. Sales, Returns, Exchanges, Credit Card Applications! All with one stop!

Because that's the kind of stuff that was going on in front of me. Multi-minute transactions per person. Productivity must have been improved, because these customers didn't have to go to 3 different places to buy sunglasses, return some shoes and process a card application.

Yay Productivity. Hope it pays off for the company. Because it was the Bay who got my $30 bucks, after I got sick of waiting in line.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Television! .... Teacher, mother, secret lover.

Sheena was first exposed to Television a couple of years back when her houseguest came running back from Birdman Sound in Ottawa... legs akimbo, spittle flying, eyes crazy. The occasion was the re-release of proto-punk classic Marquee Moon. And he had one in his hot little hand. Played it over and over that evening. And I liked it. I liked it a lot. Since that fateful day it has been a gradual introduction to the limited but revered discography.

So when a reunion show was announced as part of Toronto's NXNE festival, there was no question we'd shell out the $39.50 + tax + ticket handling fee per person to visit my all time least favourite live music venue. In order to make way for Friday Nite Disco or whatever, the doors opened at 6pm. I think this contributed to an oddness of atmosphere. I don't know about the rest of the crowd, but it meant rushing back from work, fighting traffic and not having time to change my shoes.

Sheena's rating: Wow. Wow for the most amazing guitar performance ever seen. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd are in a league of their own. Brilliant symphonic harmonies. A rare treat to see live.

El Chaperone agreed that it took a couple of songs for them to find their feet. Sound at the Phoenix has always bordered on shit, and while the band is not noted for their vocals, would have been nice to at least get a sense of the lyrics. The mellowish start meant the crowd couldn't shut the fuck up and it was quite annoying. Why the guy standing behind me thought I had any interest in his dormant-after-six-month-chequing account and his tribulations with the bank teller during the improv part of Little Johnny Jewel compelled me to do a beer run and pee break before I turned around and kneed him in his own little jewels.

Sheena blames it on the early start. Most people hadn't had a chance to chill, get out of work-mode, smoke a doobie, and leave the whining at the door.

Friday, June 09, 2006

IAMS Canadian

Taking a page from Cooking with Dalton, today Canadians across the nation were pleased to hear of Harper's efforts to emulate the respected animal husbandry traditions established by Prince Charles and start his own line organic estate raised game and gourmet sausages. PETA is investigating the allegations made by this guy that the fattening pens were less than hygenic and that some of it actually smelt like fish.

Recommended Reading for the Day...

So many blondes, so little time...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Yes.. the Soup Always Smells that Way....

Out for a few sets at the Gladstone as part of the North by North East thingy going on this week in Toronto and since we missed the way better SXSW this year, felt obligated to drink bad wine and Labatt's 50 to support the local talent. Such that it is.

Got a kick out of The Nathan Coles Outfit. Pretty damn entertaining, though the free form vocal solo gets a little head-splitting after 2 cheap gross chardonnays. The 10pm act was a little more underwhelming. The Hickories list themselves as being from Arlington Virginia. Ewww. Home of the cemetary and an airport. Just say Washington DC for f--k's sakes already and be done with it. Unless you're proud of being home to the Metro's tallest escalator. The lead singer had this bugging-Sheena's-ass look about her that reminded me too much of Carolyn Mark and those creepy baby-bangs when one is beyond a certain age.

Highlight of the evening was looking up at the evening's menu and asking El Chaperone and the Rosie the Riveter barmaid if it was a fricking joke.

Tomorrow night should be better. I think I'll just veg out and watch some television...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Devil is in the DCtails

According to the little envelope with the hotel key, Sheena's Check Out date is 6/6/6.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Moral Dilemma

Sheena procured these last Christmas.

When worn in public, they average 2 comments per day ranging from the "OMG I love your shoes to OMFG I really love your shoes".

Clients, competitors, fashion mavens alike all have dripped saliva over said units. When I say, "And they're the most comfortable shoes I've had since the '99 Gucci loafers", I realize I risk physical harm and social shunning.

Today took the cake. Sitting in the front row of a presentation at George Washington U, five minutes before the presenter begins, she exclaims in my general direction (with the microphone ON) "I have to say, those are the most adorable shoes I've seen in ages.. I just had to tell y'all that".

Sheena blushed and said pssshhhaaawww, and all that, and thanked her for noticing.

But then the dilemma sets in. Everyone wants to know.. who are you wearing, where'd you get 'em, how much did you pay.

And as the clash of soul vs. sole wreaks havoc in my heart I realize that I cannot lie to another woman. I have nothing else to say but "Payless. Winnipeg. 30 bucks. Canadian".

And they all walk away. And my eyes well up. Wishing I had a better story to tell. But don't.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dispatch from -. Street

As mentioned in blogposts passim, Sheena has been been lusting for a committed relationship with the Kimpton Hotel chain for several years. Alas, geography, market distribution and the annoyances of an apartment of my own have interfered in what could truly be a stellar pairing.

Back to the scene of my first time: the The Topaz near Dupont Circle in Bush Gardens. Din-dins in the lounge. Crab spring rolls with spicy cold noodle salad and peanut sauce on the side. Washed down with the Lavender Karma martini (vodka, lavender-infused syrup, sour mix, candied lemon twist garnish... nice floral flavour, but a little sweet. Colder might be better. I'll ask for side of ice if I ever order it again).

The place seems a tad more restrained than the last time I spent time here. While the totem/worry rocks are firmly ensconced in the bed, the big round cushion/couch from the middle of the floor upon which an ex-brit gal pal attempted to convert an urban studies policy wonk who played exclusively for the other side is now gone from the room. Times change, I guess. Those were the Clinton years, now that I think about it....

Onwards and upwards to the Blue Nirvana: Citrus vodka, blue curacao, sparkling wine and a touch of sour. This is more like it, though I hate it when the barwenches shake up a bubbly based martini-style drink. Grr.. wastes the bubbles.

Front desk staff aren't wearing their caftans tonight which is rather disappointing. I thinks I'll ask for a discount as compensation for the unmet expectations.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Remote Controlled Taxis

Some of my readers may not be fully aware of some of the technological advancements made in the area of cars-for-hire in recent months, but let me be the first to introduce the "Remote Controlled Taxicab".

Perfect for those late night trips home from the pub with giggling girls in the back seat and an exasperated gentleman in the front. No more embarrassing conversation to be overhead by strangers. No more dirty looks when burps turn wet. Always get to the right address on the first try.

I confess at first I didn't even realize that we had lucked out into riding with such a neato prototype. Sitting and praying for a safe carriage home after an evening of festing with all and sundry at The Artful Dodger pub on Isabella & Yonge. My trusty sidekicks noticed it first. I asked "WTF are you guys laughing about". Between snorts and tears blocks later they finally were able to gasp out the fact that "nobody is driving the taxi". I craned my neck to see what she was talking about. And holy shit. It was true. See for yourself.

Yes, a Toronto first, folks. Sheenavision delivers YET another travel scoop.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Airport Food

This may come as a stunning surprise to my readers, but sometimes travel is not all cream-puffs and sugar fairies. Lunch today was at the Airport. At a phenomenon called T.G.I Friday's. And since it is indeed Friday, I stopped for a bite to eat.

Pretty basic roadhouse fare. But then I spied one of my favourite sandwiches. So when Nigel the waiter came by I looked up from my free USA Today and said triumphantly "I'll have the pulled pork, please". I really do enjoy saying that. I think I like saying "pulled pork" more than I like eating it. This is why I will never leave Canada. I need to say "sheared beaver" at least once every winter when contemplating new coats.

I hadn't even turned the page in the paper when the food arrived. It was suspiciously way too fast. I am convinced it was someone else's lunch or a mistake that had been sitting around for a few minutes, in the hopes that someone needed pulled pork.

It was a little too vinegary for my liking, but edible. A girlfriend of mine in Winnipeg makes a great one in her slow cooker. Her husband calls her the pork pulling queen. And he's right.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Boy Was MY Face Red

The intended agenda that ran through Sheena's head at 5 am: Wake up, catch flight, hail cab, go to conference.

The agenda that actually happened: Wake up, catch flight, bump into unexpected party at Gate U, share limo to meeting, defer conference to Day 2.

Back and forth to Bush Gardens this week and next and was happy to get to the hotel for the kick off of the 5pm hospitality hour in the lobby bar.

Saunter up, eye the selections, and as I flip my humidity protected Day 2.5 coif over my shoulder, I turn up my nose at the Merlot and the Jamaican Stubby beer on ice and ask for a white wine.

"Mon Dieu", the bartender from Kentucky exclaimed, his pink skin flushed with indignation. "Vee only serve RED wine here at Hotel Rouge!"

"Oui oui.. but of stupeeed of me". Sheena replied, blushing just a little for not getting the joke soooner.

So I sucked back of couple glasses of free eco-friendly certified organic screwtopped Full Circle Merlot

Hotel guide tasting notes: "Vibrant and Juicy, this smooth Merlot finishes with supple tannins and a kiss of spiciness from oak".

Whatever. Just don't try to slip me the tongue.

Love Story

What can you say about a DC Hotel who has animal print bathrobes? That it was beautiful and brilliant? That it loved jazz and blues, the Beatles, and me? When Sheena dies and goes to heaven, it will be run by Kimpton. I'm sure of it.

The Kimpton chain is the best thing ever put on this planet. Sheena has partaken of its unique brand of corporate hospitality in multiple cities. The most memorable to date being:

The Topaz. Washington DC.
Cool thing: the blue light jazzy bar and the staff who wear caftans.
Weird thing: Rocks in your bed. Supposedly spiritual and stress relieving, but a pain in the ass (literally) if you check in after dark.
Bad Thing: That night in July 2002. Waking up with a hangover and Eminem's "Job for Me" pounding into my brain in the bright sunlight.

The Hotel Monaco in Denver.
The Good: Basil Mojito in the lounge. Amazing decor.
The Weird: Being asked if you wanted a companion goldfish for the duration of your stay.
The Bad: Annoying little dog as greeter.

And of course tonight's new discovery, the Rouge Hotel.

The Good: Sheena bathrobes in the closet. Leopard print vs. Zebra skin for $120 US if they suddenly turn up missing.

The Weird:

Wax Lips in the mini-bar for $2.50US

The Bad: The genuine fear and worry overheard in the confessions of the diplo-chick over at the table next to me about her two-year stint starting next Monday in Tel Aviv and how she doesn't know where she can get her hair extensions done the way she likes.