Courvoisier Exclusif

July 29, 2010

Cognac, you guys. A regionally-named brandy distilled from white wine, traditionally served in bubble glasses. I used to think brandies were basically medicines for dog-loving skiiers, lovingly fetched in tiny neck barrels post-avalanche, but last week after attending a Courvoisier Exclusif tasting event, I learned the error of my ways.

My new take-home: Courvoisier is tasty, and tasting events are super-fun.

A group of Toronto bloggers convened at the Hyatt, arrayed in our finest brandy-tasting outfits. Mine included moderately-sensible shoes and an ankle brace due to a dodgeball injury.

Upon arrival there were tiny lollipop lambchops and a charming bartender making tangy Courvoisier sidecar cocktails. I considered it my journalistic duty to sample both of these offerings. Rating: yes.

As we took our seats, the entertainment began. A dude dressed like Napoleon careened around on stilts with several lovely empire-waisted maidens house-dancing around him.

There was a ceiling bulkhead and a large chandelier, so this was even more exciting with the added element of danger (pronounced donJAY, of course; cognac’s French).

Then time for a nosing. I’d never nosed before. Nosing involves opening little bottles of essential fragrance, dabbing them on perfume strips, guessing their identities by smell, then identifying those same aromatic notes in sips of cognac.

Ginger cookie, dried plums, and coffee were the key notes in one variety; crème brûlée, candied orange peel and iris flower in another.

If you think I concluded this portion of the evening by dabbing crème brûlée essential oil all over my body and demanding that others “SNIFF ME I’M FRENCH!”, then you would be incorrect, and what do you take me for.

If you think I didn’t imagine doing such a thing, though, it’s like you don’t know me at all and why do you even read this site.

Okay. By this point I’d nosed and tasted Courvoisier, both neat and in a sidecar. I was pertty certin I cd make a decilious cognoc dirnk too. Luckily the fine folks at the Park Hyatt had planned for just such an eventuality, and had arrayed the table with a spread of interesting cocktail ingredients.

I muddled apricot preserves, chopped ginger, and lemon, then added Courvoisier Exclusif, vanilla Galiano, and soda, all served in a sugar-rimmed glass. It made for a strong, sweet, tea-coloured cocktail that I thought would taste particularly good with breathing.

Others at my table combined ingredients like fresh blueberries, mint, maple syrup, and even chili flakes.

It sort of felt like a really sophisticated version of the cookie bake-offs on Just Like Mom (I always told my mother that if we ever ended up on that show I was just going to make perfect cookies, so she could expect mine to be the delicious ones, the very valedictorians of biscuitry, and then off we’d go to DisneyLand).

Soon, for some reason, there wasn’t much Courvoisier left in the bottle, and so the evening came to a giddy close.

I was pleased to note that the reputation of my blog has apparently spread far and wide, as I was hailed on my way out by a couple of internet cat ladies who proudly whipped out their smartphones and waved photos of their cat-babies in my face.

I would prefer to be known as a witty and debonaire gad-about-town, a sort of enormously-coiffed and slightly less femme Oscar Wilde, if you will, but frankly I’ll take my notoriety where I can get it, and I suppose being embraced as Queen of the Internerd Cat Ladies by some charming and Courvoisier-filled bloggers will also suffice.

That said, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t conclude by having a cat weigh in on all this. Helder’s cat Faustino was moderately interested in the Courvoisier I’d brought home, and extremely interested in sitting on the tissue paper that came inside my gift bag, so I think that counts as a pretty strong YES all around.

Thanks to Matchstick and Courvoisier for a lovely evening!


Hey, if you fill out this very short survey, the promotions company who created the event will donate $2 to Redwood Women’s Shelter. It only takes 30 seconds, and it helps women! Women, you guys!

Inception (no spoilers)

July 26, 2010

Saw Inception this weekend and really liked it. If you want to read a little more about some different interpretations of the film, you might want to check out these links: a solid article on Chud, one at Salon, an interview with actor Dileep Rao (who played the Chemist), and, at a glance, this handy chart showing who dreamed what.

Finally, here’s one of Nolan’s admitted visual references: this luscious scene of Fred Astaire dancing up the walls from the 1951 film Royal Wedding, shot by spinning the room and the camera simultaneously. You can skip ahead in this clip to about the 2-minute mark if you like.

Links via Mefi and AskMe.


One more big thing:

After you see the movie, check out this short article and YouTube video.
That seems pretty definitive to me.
Thanks to Donaldson for the tip!


July 23, 2010

Fun fact: many Torontonians don’t get their drivers’ licenses until adulthood. It’s a pretty transit-friendly city, and as a Toronto teen, you just don’t *need* to drive, the way one might in a more suburban or rural area. I grew up feeling very comfortable on public transit, and living very close to the subway, and very good at mooching rides, so I just never bothered to get my license.

Eventually it occurred to me that not being able to drive kind of sucks, so I started taking lessons. It turns out that learning as an adult is tricky. Where teens are blithe and reckless, adults are sweaty and neurotic, and trying to teach me to parallel park was a little like trying to teach a squirrel how to move a refrigerator, or trying to teach a hypochondriac how to identify poison berries in the woods by their bitter aftertaste, or trying to teach a blogger how to come up with a metaphor that makes even a tiny bit of sense.

Never mind all that. I finally found Ali, a calm teacher whose melodious and lightly-accented voice patiently eased words of driving wisdom into my thick skull, the result being that I passed my roadtest on the first try this afternoon.

I am the proud owner of a valid driver’s license, you guys! Time to throw out all my shoes because obviously I’m never walking anywhere again. NOW GET OUTTA MY WAY VRRROOOOOM NEEEEEEER BEEPBEEP!

PS, Jokes, guys! I am actually a very catful, I mean careful, driver. I like to sit reeeallly close to the wheel and lean right into the windshield and beep my horn a lot and swear. Like a tiny old lady with neurological problems.
Look for me, coming soon to a street near you at 50 km/h!
Or just listen, you’ll probably hear me yelling GAS! BRAKE! GAS! BRAKE! VROOOOOOOOOOOM

Mila’s Daydreams

July 23, 2010

Every day when her baby naps, this mom styles her up into a dreamscape and photographs it. Pretty adorable.

So far she hasn’t done any where she surrounds the baby with empty beer bottles and poker chips, but the blog is still pretty new.
Via Mefi.

Louis Armstrong’s kitchen

July 22, 2010

Apartment Therapy has a cool house tour of jazz legend Louis Armstrong’s 1960s kitchen in Queens, NY. Highlights include kitchen cabinets mounted on piano hinges, a blender built right into the counter, and Armstrong’s favourite product: a herbal laxative he endorsed using the slogan “leave it all behind you”.

Thanks to Whitney for Facebooking this.


July 22, 2010

Here is an adorable video of a porcupine acting like a puppy. Now I would like one small pine pet please.

Here is a porcupine I met at Science North in Sudbury when I was there on a shoot a while back. His name is Quillan. All he wants to do is nap and eat sweet potatoes. You can pet him if you want. Only in one direction, though.

I learned that porcupines have three kinds of fur: very long thin yellow hairs that feel like cat whiskers, a thick coat of crinkly, oily, dark brown fur, and stiff, hollow, yellow and black quills buried in the fur. If you pet them, they leave a kind of shiny dark dirt on your fingers, kind of like petting a farm dog. The grease in porcupine fur smells like a mixture of cats and motor oil.

And that is what I know about porcupines.
Video via OMGblog.

Tarp Surfing

July 22, 2010

Get a giant blue tarp. Skateboard over it while someone pulls it over you.
Oh my goodness this is delightful.
Skip to 0:30 if you don’t wanna listen to silhouette guy yapping. And then he yaps again, so skip to 5:00 to see outtakes.

I wanna do this and put a cardboard silhouette of a shark behind the tarp.

Via Kottke.

Interviewing a Goat

July 19, 2010

My Spanish isn’t amazing but I think he’s asking things like, “What’s happening in your field?” and “What do you think about the President these days?” I’m pretty impressed with the goat’s timing.
Via Huffington Post.

Somebody give this kid an A in making me snort.

July 15, 2010

This is why I can’t become a teacher. I would totally make this kid class president and fast-track him into college.
From LameBook.

Jason Bourne is the James Bond of our time

July 14, 2010

Here’s a great comment from MeFi, in which a user named wuwei describes why James Bond is passe:

“James Bond was a character that people in his era could identify with:

“Think about how that works in the post war era. The office dwelling accountant/lawyer/ad man/salesman has an expense account. This covers some lunches at counters with clients , or maybe a few nice dinners. He flirts with the secretaries and receptionists and sometimes sleeps with them. He travels on business, perhaps from his suburb into Chicago, or from Chicago to Cleveland, or San Francisco to LA. His office issues him a dictaphone (he can’t type) or perhaps a rolling display case for his wares. He has a work car, maybe an Oldsmobile 88 if he’s lucky, or a Ford Falcon if he’s not. He’s working his way up to the top, but isn’t quite ready for a management slot. He wears a suit, tie and hat every day to the office. If he’s doing well he buys this downtown at a specialty men’s store. If he’s merely average, he picks this up at Macy’s, or Sears if he’s really just a regular joe. If he gets sick his employer has a nice PPO insurance plan for him.

“Now look at Bond. He has an expense account, which covers extravagant dinners and breakfasts at the finest 4 star hotels and restaurants. He travels on business, to exotic places like Istanbul, Tokyo and Paris. He takes advantage of the sexual revolution (while continuing to serve his imperialist/nationalist masters) by sleeping with random women in foreign locations. He gets issued cool stuff by the office– instead of a big dictaphone that he keeps on his desk, Bond has a tiny dictaphone that he carries around with him in his pocket! He has a work car — but it’s an Aston Martin with machine guns! He’s a star, with a license to kill, but not management. Management would be boring anyways, they stay in London while Bond gets to go abroad and sleep with beautiful women. Bond always wears a suit, but they’re custom tailored of the finest materials. If he gets hurt, he has some Royal Navy doctors to fix him right up.

“In today’s world, that organization man who looked up to James Bond as a kind of avatar of his hopes and dreams, no longer exists.

“Who is our generation’s James Bond? Jason Bourne. He can’t trust his employer, who demanded ultimate loyalty and gave nothing in return. In fact, his employer is outsourcing his work to a bunch of foreign contractors who presumably work for less and ask fewer questions. He’s given up his defined benefit pension (Bourne had a military one) for an individual retirement account (safe deposit box with gold/leeching off the gf in a country with a depressed currency). In fact his employer is going to use him up until he’s useless. He can’t trust anyone, other than a few friends he’s made on the way while backpacking around. Medical care? Well that’s DIY with stolen stuff, or he gets his friends to hook him up. What kinds of cars does he have? Well no more company car for sure, he’s on his own on that, probably some kind of import job. What about work tools? Bourne is on is own there too. Sure, work initially issued him a weapon, but after that he’s got to scrounge up whatever discount stuff he can find, even when it’s an antique. He has to do more with less. And finally, Bourne survives as a result of his high priced, specialized education. He can do things few people can do — fight multiple opponents, tell which guy in a restaurant can handle himself, hotwire cars, speak multiple languages and duck a surveillance tail. Oh, and like the modern, (sub)urban professional, Bourne had to mortgage his entire future to get that education. They took everything he had, and promised that if he gave himself up to the System, in return the System would take care of him.

“It turned out to be a lie.”

Nice, huh? Taken from here.