Thursday, 27 December 2012

Snowmageddon 2012

Hi guys! Today my boss told me to go home early because we were having a muh-fu'in blizzard up in this bitch! I got up this morning and looked outside to find everything snowed in. Luckily I live literally (yeah, literally, not figuratively) only 200 meters away from a metro station. (That's a little over 200 yards for all you imperial bastards.) And, when I get out at Place-Des-Arts downtown, I walk in the underground and exit at the Complexe Guy Favreau and I have roughly 400 meters to walk outside. So, getting to work was pretty easy. I took the opportunity to take a few shots just to show you guys what a Canadian winter should look like. I say should because we haven't been getting a lot of snow these past couple of years, but this is really what it used to be like about 20 years ago.

Walking to work I took a couple of pictures just to show you guys what it was like. Here's a beautiful view of René Lévesque boulevard, looking west with all the buildings downtown. It looked pretty amazing with all the snow everywhere.

Of course, from the office I had an amazing view of the Palais des Congrès and the buildings in Old Montréal. The blizzard looked frighteningly beautiful from up there.

In the afternoon, my boss sent everyone an email telling us that because the snow storm was coming down so strong we were encouraged to leave at 3pm so we can get home in time. Everyone comes in to work by public transportation, thankfully, but some had reported that their spouse who usually drive 20 minutes to get home from work took over two hours to get back home! Some highways were even closed in some areas. When I left the office, the storm didn't really slow down that much. But, as you can see from this picture it was slightly better.

I asked someone to take a picture of me next to a snowbank just to give you an idea of how much snow there was. Check me out! I'm waving!

When I finally got home the snow was down to just a fine powder. Of course my apartment building entrance was covered in snow. My landlady shoveled some of it, but it was in vain since the snow filled up the entrance all over again. And my car was completely snowed in. I spent about an hour shovelling this white crap. And I'm sure there's going to be more of it anyway so I'll have to start over again probably.

I swear, there was so much snow, it literally went as high up as my waist! Literally! See?


After shovelling the entrance and my car, I was wet from the snow and all sweaty and I was starting to get cold so I just went in and made myself a hot cup of cocoa. Fuck this. I'm staying inside and there's nothing that's going to get me out of my apartment. Not even a fire. I'd rather cook in here and end up like bacon than to freeze my balls out it this stupid weather. By the way, did I mention that I'm selling snow? Yeah! we have an overstock right now so we have this limited time offer! Hell! I have so much snow I'll even PAY YOU to take it! Remember it's a limited time offer!

Anyway, here are the real pictures of downtown that I took today. It's pretty intense,

René Lévesque

The view from the office

Marché Atwater

Sunday, a couple of days before Christmas, I wasn't feeling very well. I was mentally exhausted because of recent unfortunate events. I needed a change of scenery, so I went out for a walk. This time I decided I would get off the Atwater metro station and go south to Notre-Dame and walk around that part. It's quieter there and there's always something new to discover in that area since Griffintown and Little Burgundy have been under heavy development.

On my way there I saw the Atwater Market and saw all the Christmas decorations and the people there. There was music and it seemed like there was lots of stuff going on. I heard about that place many times, but never actually went. The Atwater Market is a kind of farmer's market or local food market where they sell fruits, vegetables, meats, coffee, cheeses, heck all sorts of stuff that's produced locally, mostly. There are also some foods that are imported from Europe as well. I thought I'd go and take a look. Maybe I would find something interesting to bring home.

In the parking lot they were selling small Christmas trees to the sound of Christmas raggae music. This already seems like an interesting place. As I walked along the entrance, there were kiosks that sold wreaths made from the branches of fir trees, maple products, flowers, etc. Then I opened the entrance door and went it. The place kind of reminds me of the ByWard Market in Ottawa, but bigger. And instead of restaurants, it was mostly produce and specialty grocery stores.

The place has two levels. A lower level with the grocery stores and a few stands selling fresh vegetables and fruits and other stuff and a higher level where they have all the counters for the butcher shops, deli meats and cafés. On the lower floor I found a couple of places that sold fine cheeses. One for local products and another that had imported French cheese.

I also noticed a sign that advertised a local brand name of home made soda called Marco. They make the most amazing spruce beer as well as maple, birch and I can't remember what other tree-based beers they make. Oh wait. What's that? You never heard of spruce beer? That's probably because it's something you only find in Québec! (As far as I know.) Basically, it's a spruce-flavoured soda. I absolutely LOVE that stuff. It's my favourite soft drink. And apparently, this drink is based off the infusion that the North American natives made to save Jacques Cartier's men from scurvy! I don't know if modern spruce beer has the same effect, but if it does, it should be choc full of vitamin C. As a bonus, it tastes like you're drinking a Christmas tree!

Moving on, I went to the second level where I found a couple of coffee shops where they sold coffee and some snacks, sandwiches and some warm meals. I also found a immense selection of deli meats, home made sausages, fine cheeses, meats and even fresh home made pasta!

The sausages looked really good. I bet they would go really well with some local beers. They also sold sauerkraut and deli meats like pancetta, proscuitto, ham and even home made farmer's bacon! Hot damn!

Further along, I found a couple of butcher shops that had the most delicious looking pieces of meat I've ever seen. Ribs as big as the one in the Flintstones! They also sold some delicious looking terrine and paté, which I bet would go very well with some baguette, fine cheeses and white wine. In fact, not to far there was another counter that sold more cheese. It all looked and smelled delicious, as far as cheese can smell and look delicious anyway. There was another place that sold actual wild turkey! Not the domesticated kind. No! Wild, man! And of course it's organic!

Yaba daba delicious!

Yes, that's a pig's head up there. It's a cochon de lait!

Pee-u! That smells delicious!

Gobble gobble!

And it's a little further down that I found the place that sold fresh pasta. I was tempted in buying a pack with some of their sauce just to try it out. I never had fresh pasta before. Only the box kind. I bet it's delicious. Maybe sometime after Christmas I'll make some with a delicious sauce.

On my way out, I came across this gentleman who had a table filled with glass bottles. It looked like blue wine. I took a closer look and it was actual wild blueberry juice from Lac Saint-Jean! The homeland of the Tremblay! That's true Tremblay blood in a bottle right there folks! And with his thick Lac Saint-Jean accent, he explained to me how they collected the wild blueberries and made the juice themselves and how it reminds him of his mother's blueberry pie. I had a taste from a sample and it's true. It does taste like his mom's blueberry pie! How do I know that? Well... Anyway, I bought a bottle and took it home. Thought it might be a good idea to give to my parents.

After that, I left the Atwater market and kept on walking along Notre-Dame and stopped at that antiques store that had the Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol. I've been looking for a cool clock to hang in my living room and I thought that place might have something good. Unfortunately they didn't have anything that really grabbed my attention, though the place was jam packed with pop culture memorabilia. It was simply amazing the kind of stuff they had in there. I had a chat with the lady who owns the place. She told me how she recently lost her husband who used to run the place. She inherited it and started to manage the place. She loves old things and working with old rusted objects and caring for them. She was super sweet. But, you could see that she was sad that she lost her husband. After a while, I asked her about the Buck Rogers atomic pistol since it was removed from the window. She had it somewhere locked behind a glass shelf case. She took it out and handed it to me and let me hold it! Jesus H. Christ! That thing dates back to the 30s! It looked in mint condition! It was made of metal and didn't even have a single spot of rust on it. It was pretty expensive, but for a piece of science-fiction memorabilia, it is totally worth it. She told me she was thinking of getting it framed. That's exactly what I thought. A nice deep frame with a glass front and a Buck Rogers comic book cover from the 30s as a background. That would be freakin' awesome!

I said goodbye to the lady and left the antique store when another customer came in and started to talk to her. I kept on going East on Notre-Dame. After a long while I came across a giant picture of this guy:

There's a sign on the side walk on Saint-Denis at the corner of Rachel with this same guy on it, in front of the restaurant Le Hachoir, which I wrote about before. A restaurant that specializes in burgers, tartars and wine. It looks like a great restaurant, especially if you love meat. And look at this guy's face! He's pretty fucking serious when it comes to meat. As it turns out, another branch of that restaurant opened up in Griffintown and they called it Grinder, the English translation of Le Hachoir. I guess it's a slap in the face to the law 101, which is Quebec's charter of the French Language. Basically, here we have French language Nazis that run around the streets of Montreal and fine whoever doesn't doesn't have French signage for their commercial establishment or have a French name for their business and this guy is evidently showing balls of steel to so blatantly ignore that law. It also gives the picture a whole new feel where the guy isn't so serious about meat than he is pointing his finger at those French Nazis and telling them to stick that charter where the sun don't shine.

You can just shove it!

Anyway, the Grinder looks like a damn fine establishment. It's beautiful in there with walls and floors made of wood and stainless steel frames and columns. The menu seemed a little different than it's cousin on Saint-Denis too. I would definitely like to go try this place out some time.

Eventually, I reached Peel street and walked North, all the way to the Cours Mont Royal shopping centre and went underground for a little while to warm up. My cheeks were starting to hurt from the cold and I had trouble warming up. I got out at the McGill metro station on DeMaisonneuve and kept on going East until I hit Place Des Arts and I took this shot because I though the view was awesome.

Finally, I just kept on walking and crossed a few parks until I got to the Saint-Laurent metro station and went home because I couldn't bear the cold anymore and my legs were just hurting from walking on the snow and ice. When I got home, I made myself a nice hot cup of extra rich cocoa and played some games to relax the rest of the evening. That was a good walk and it felt good to discover a new place I've never been and to walk a different path. I totally needed that since I was feeling down in the dumps. Until next time, I'll keep walking solo around town and write about what I find. Smell ya later!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Merry Montreal

So it's the holidays soon and Montreal is all lit up with cheerful decorations. The temperature has been going up and down from 5 degrees Celsius to -10 degrees Celsius  (41F to 14F) and at it's coldest, it's been quite difficult to go outside at all. Also, with the snow and ice it makes it a lot more difficult to walk around. My warm classic Converse shoes with the lining won't do the job in the snow and ice, so I went and got myself a new pair of boots.

When I went to buy them it wasn't too cold so I was able to take my gloves off and take out my phone to grab a few pictures. Place Ville Marie had its usual Christmas tree made of lights and the McGill College boulevard was all decorated. And the BMO building was red white and green. It was quite nice.

Further east, at Place Des Arts, there was some kind of outdoor exhibition of some kind called Luminotherapie. There were these angular arches that were put up with different coloured lights called "icebergs" and when you walked under them, they changed colours and played different sounds.

Later, this weekend I did some holiday shopping. While walking on Saint-Laurent, I came across a new restaurant. Burger Royal, located at 3820 boul. Saint-Laurent. The place was still being renovated, but they were opening up that night! It looks like it's going to be a gourmet burger place. If there's one thing that Montreal is painfully lacking is a decent gourmet burger joint that's not excruciatingly priced. Hopefully these guys won't charge too much! I was really happy to see this because even though my top favourite meal of all time is a steaming hot bowl of ramen noodles with all the fixins, a good gourmet hamburger with quality ingredients comes at a close second. I couldn't go and try it out that evening because I had a little dinner event to attend, but hopefully next time I'm around I'll be able to go and try it out! I can't wait!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fookin' clowns!

Montreal is pretty big on art in general. There are a lot of museums, galleries, theatres, orchestras and there are always street performers. Actually, there are even designated spots in the metro stations for people to set themselves up and play music. And of course, there's a huge hipster indie rock music scene as well. I mean, every fucking hipster band here is trying to be the next Arcade Fire and they all hang out at the Divan Orange on Saint-Laurent or Esco Bar on Saint-Denis.

But, enough of the hipsters. The scariest thing they'll ever do is give you this judgmental stare through their vintage Ray Bans, but there is a far scarier thing going on here. The stuff nightmares are made of.

In the world of art, if there is one thing that La Belle Province (that's a nickname for Québec in case you're wondering) is famous for, are clowns. You know the world famous Cirque du Soleil? They're from here. And while they're away, there's always a few of them left behind to perform in some theatres around town.

Oh, and did I mention that I almost poop myself in sheer horror every day when I take the subway to work? Here's why:

That poster has been up at Place Des Arts in the arts and entertainment district for two years now for every holiday to promote the Nutcracker ballet show. Look at that fat bastard! LOOK AT HIM! Clearly his stomach is so big because he just swallowed someone whole! I mean it's quite possible when you look at the size of his huge fucking mouth! Every time I look at his face I gotta hold on to something because I feel like I'm being sucked in like a black hole!


As if that wasn't enough, this year there's another show being promoted at the Tohu, some kind of local theatre dedicated to circus acts alone. And you can't have a circus without clowns! Especially evil monster vampire clowns from circus hell like this mother fucker here. I swear, Stephen King must've lived in Montreal to get inspiration for his book "It" with this kind of material.

He will eat your face off slowly with a thousand little bites
and suck your soul through your eye sockets!

When I saw that ad plastered across an entire piece of wall in the metro, my legs went numb and fell on the ground, trying to scream in horror, but the very fear choked me and all that came out was a whimper. People were gathering around me as I convulsed in a puddle of my own pee making weird little chirps while covering my face in terror. That was not a good day.

After a few sessions of therapy I was finally able to stand and fight the urge to curl into a ball in the presence of these monsters and gained back control of my life. But, this has been a terrible experience and I am still having nightmares about these fucking clowns. I'm sure I'm not the only one with this problem. Maybe I should start a Montreal clown-o-phobia (or coulrophobia) support group and organize a protest to stop terrorizing the population with these abominations. I mean, other than clowns and circuses, if there's something Quebecers are good for are protests.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Catching up.

Hey all. Man, it's been a while since I wrote anything. It's been, like, over a month now. There's just been a lot happening in my life lately. I still walked around the town though, whenever possible, but's it's been really difficult to find the time between dodgeball games and those awkward yoga classes that I've been taking.

I received a 5 courses package as a gift and the studio is located in an apartment in Verdun. I live close to the Olympic stadium so it's quite a long distance from home, but I went anyways because I had nothing better to do of my time. I went there on Wednesday because that was the only day where they had evening classes late enough for me to attend after work. And, it totally wasn't what I expected. The instructor made us build these sets with a bunch of blocks and cushions and chairs and make us strap our legs together and then we had to lie down on the whole thing that we had built. It just felt so freakin' awkward and I eventually ended up with my legs all numb and cramped up and with a really bad back pain. The worst part was when he made us use the chairs. They're basically foldable metal chairs, you know like the ones wrestlers use in the WWF. We had to put our legs through them and lie backwards with our head down with our back curved over the edge of the seat. Anyway, it's hard to explain, but it was really fucking painful. It was so bad that other people in the class complained as well and started asking questions about what the fuck we were doing because this shit was not the kind of yoga we were used to do in other studios. I had my last yoga class yesterday and I am not going back there again.

Dodgeball has been awesome. I signed up as an individual player and the organization who takes care of the whole thing, the Montreal Sports Social Club, paired me with other individuals who signed up by themselves. I didn't know what to expect. I mean, I used to play back when I lived in Ottawa with a group of friends and friends of friends who eventually became my friends. Now, I was starting all over with a bunch of strangers and I didn't know if I was going to have as much fun. Of course the Ottawa team, Shanarnia (it's a long story) was a group of crazy people who were out to make fools of themselves and the chemistry was just there from the start. This new team, now called team Thunderballs, was a bit awkward at first. But, after hanging out a couple of times we really warmed up to each other and we're having a blast every time we play. The best part though is that recently we started to go for drinks after the games and lately we've been playing around NDG near that Korean-Japanese grocery store. There's a tiny little Irish pub in that area called Honey Martin that I spotted when I was walking around that place. It's a dark little hole in the wall with a really cozy atmosphere. The people that hang out there seem super cool. I actually spotted Big James there the first night we went. (He's a YouTube "celebrity" I guess...) For three weeks now, every Tuesday night we've been going there and it so happens to be trivia night as well! And we've been pretty good! So far we've been able to tie with another team and lost the tie breaker every time, but the last time we went we actually won! We got small beers as prizes which was pretty cool. Some of these questions are tough and require some deep pop culture knowledge. It's a lot of fun and I will try to go back there again for the next few weeks until the dodgeball season starts again.

Also, I went back to the Asian grocery store again and got this:

Yes, that is a big-ass box of big-ass Pocky. I mean, check out the size of that thing!!

It's big and long and chocolatey brown, 
just the way I like 'em!

I also got some Dragonball Z soda pop cans. I got those to share with a couple of friends of mine with whom we used to share a passion for those comic books back when we were kids. Also, I bought every flavour of Ramune they had in stock. Sadly, they didn't have any funky flavours like curry or shrimp or some other fucked up Japanese flavour. Speaking of curry, if you've never had Japanese curry, you have got to try it. I recommend going to the restaurant Ramen-Ya on Saint-Laurent as their curry is very good. I got myself a few pouches of 3min curry to make on the fly when I get tired of Ramen. (Hahahahaha, as if I would ever get tired of ramen, lol!) Finally, I got myself some Japanese mochi balls which are sweet soft gelatinous rice gelatin balls stuffed with all sorts of cream or jellies. It's pretty good.

I also switched jobs recently. That was really hard. Not so much on the effort it took and the stress and all that, but rather difficult of leaving some really good friends behind. I really had made some good friends at my other job and I miss them. But, I think this was for the best. I have gone through some rough times this year and that left a pretty bad impression with my previous employer. I feel like they lost confidence in me and my abilities and I felt like I had lost some pretty good opportunities because of my personal problems. So, this new job that was offered, not only was it more in line with my career objectives, it was also a way for me to get a fresh start. But yeah, I lost the company of some really good friends and that sucks. In exchange I got this amazing view of downtown Montreal though, which is pretty fucking awesome.

This new job is going to be a challenge. I'm working on an application for digital advertisement signs such as those large multi-screen advertisement panels we find in the metro or giant screens in Time Square. The programming language is one of the hardest to master in the industry and it's taking me a lot of concentration to be able to work, but I think I'm doing pretty good for myself as long as I don't get distracted. I hope I'll be able to perform in that new job this time and really shine. I think I deserve it after all the crap I've been through since I graduated.

Other than that, I've been keeping busy walking around, even though I haven't posted anything in a while. It's been super cold too lately, so it has been very difficult to motivate myself to go out in sub-zero temperatures.  It's also difficult to take pictures when your hands are frozen or you're wearing gloves. Additionally, I felt that some shoes I had were inadequate for this kind of weather. Namely, my small Converse shoes. So, I went and got myself a pair of warm ones like I had found earlier this year. They have done the job quite well and kept my feet nice and warm during cold days. Plus, they look fantastic. As long as there's no snow storms I think I should be fine with those shoes. Otherwise, I might have to get myself some new boots.

This is all I have to say for now. There's more stuff to talk about, but that'll be for another post. I should have more stuff to write about now that my yoga classes and dodgeball season are over. Can you believe we went all the way to the finals?!?! We fought against the #1 team in the entire league! And lost miserably, but at least we made 5 points! (And they made 15, but whatever.)

Until next time.