Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Freaky Candy Shop

Last Friday I went out with a friend. We went out and had dinner somewhere on Saint-Laurent boulevard. After dinner, we went out for a walk even though it was super cold. Were walking north on the left side of the street and we noticed this really colourful display in a store window. We stopped and saw that the inside was in fact filled with candy and toys!!! I don't know why I never even noticed this place before. It's probably because I always walk  across the street when I go walk around the Plateau. Also, the window has these big figurines. I must've thought it was another art store that sold some artwork from local artists. But, lo and behold! It's actually a candy store! It's called Freak Lunchbox and apparently it's a Canadian chain of candy and novelty toys store.

We went inside and it was glorious. The sweet smell of sugar filled the air. The first thing that we noticed coming in was the giant selection of Pez dispensers that was available and the awesome variety of Jelly Belly jelly beans available by bulk! They also had some giant motherfucking jawbreakers, wax lips and lots of candy you never find anywhere. Not even at other candy store I've been to like Sugar Mountain, Sucre Bleu or even Oscar, which I wrote about before here and here. This place has a great selection of American candy.

When we turned around, we found out that the other wall was a glorious wall of junk, covered in useless, yet cool toys and novelty crap. I found things like, whoopee cushions, fake moustaches, squirrel underwear, those switchblade-like combs and tons of bacon-related objects. Further back we also found a great collection of bobble heads, giant Pez dizpensers and loads of other cool stuff.

When does the narwhal bacon? Only a few know.

While browsing the toys I came across this little fellow. Actually, there were many others. All in different wrestling poses. I couldn't help myself. I had to get one. So I did.

Yeah! Headlock that beer cap into submission!

Another great novelty toy that I got is a jaw harp. What's a jaw harp? It's those metal twangers that cowboys used to put in their mouth and flick repeatedly to make a song. Here, lemme show you.

Boing! Boing! Boing!

Now watch this guy and laugh at how lamentable my demonstration was.

The counter at the cash register and a portion at the back had an amazing selection of chocolate bars. I'll be honest. I L-O-V-E chocolate. It's my favourite thing in all the world. I like to try new chocolate bars from time to time, but this place had too many for me to explore. I couldn't make up my mind. I mean, they had orange flavoured Aero bars. I remember seeing those when I was a kid. I had one from a local convenience store (or dépanneur as we like to calle them) and thought it was delicious. When I went back a few days later to get some more they were gone. Anyway, their selection at Freak Lunchbox was crazy.

Some items caught my attention. One of them was a jar of Cadbury milk chocolate spread. Oh my god how awesome this must be on toast. Or, imagine stuffing a croissant full of this. Man, I just drooled all over myself just now.

Another awesome thing: they had a fridge filled with various bottles of rare soda pops so you could wash down whatever sugar you just ate with some sugar water. I mean they had some fucked up shit. like Bacon soda. or Peanut Butter and Jelly soda. (Really?) BUT! The most awesome thing is that they actually sell RAMUNE!!! Now I won't have to drive all the way to NDG to the Korean Japanese grocery store to get me some! (Good luck translating their website) By the way, you can read all about that here.

Then my friend was surprise to find a stand full of bags of Australian chips and told me how all their chips are meat flavoured down under. So here we had Roast Chicken and Smokey Bacon as well as French Fries. At first they just looked like regular Lays chips. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were actually Walkers. Then it dawned on me. I want you to say "Lays" with your best Steve Irwin impersonation. Go ahead. Say it. What does it sound like? It sounds like he's saying Lies. "Yeah mate, I'm eating a bag of Lies! They're shrimp on the barbie flavoured." That doesn't sound very good. I guess their marketing team fixed this before selling on the market down under.

Behind the counter, I saw they had some signs up. It looks like in the summer they sell milk shakes! I wonder if you can get any candy you want ground up and mixed in your milkshake? Imagine that. Pick any candy you want and get chunks of it in a nice vanilla, strawberry  or chocolate shake. Mmmm mmmm!

Finally, I was wondering out loud whether the place carried the oh so rare Cow Tales. My friend asked me what it was and I said that it was this long stick of soft caramel filled with creme at the centre. The store clerk was passing by when I said that and he said "Oh! Do you mean Cow Tales?" I said "Yeah!". So he showed me what they had. Holy fucking sugar cubes! They had them! The real motherfucking thing! And not some stale-ass hardened stuff. No! They had fresh ones! They were nice and bendy and squishy. They carried them in two flavours: regular and strawberry. Too bad they didn't have the apple flavoured one or the chocolate one. Those are like the supreme most awesome Cow Tales flavours of all!

I grabbed a couple of Cow Tales along with my luchador bottle opener and my twangin' jaw harp and went to the cash. We both paid for our stuff and exited the store. The next day, in the afternoon, I opened up the Cow Tales and had me some. They were really good. Very fresh. Nice and chewy and soft and tender and filled with delicious vanilla cream. I swear, if you find any of that stuff anywhere else, you gotta buy them by the box full because they are hard to find.

Mmmmm! Delicious candy goodness!

This was a great discovery! I'm really happy to find such a candy store that sells this kind of candy an junk that are so hard to find anywhere else. I'm definitely gonna go back there sometime soon either for more candy or for more junk to spread around on my desk at work! Hell yes!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Acadian Car

Last night I went for a brisk walk. The weather was nice and warm, considering we're in the middle of winter in January, when it's supposed to be the coldest and with the most snow. But this week, everything is melting. So walking around was great. There was almost no snow or ice on the sidewalks and it was easy to get around. It was very wet though with a lot of slush everywhere. You had to be careful not to step in a deep puddle. As I was going around the Plateau Mont-Royal, there was a car on Saint-Denis that stopped me dead in my tracks.

What the....!!!

I couldn't believe it. I had heard of those before. I used to have a collection of file cards with pictures of automobiles from all around the world and many different eras on them and their specs and everything. And I remember seeing this one, which looked pretty sporty, and was Canadian! The car was built in New Brunswick. It's an Acadian car! And no, I'm not referring to the Pontiac Acadian. (or Chevrolet Chevette depending on where you were from.) I'm referring to the Bricklin SV-1. What the fuck is a Bricklin you say? I know. They were produced for two years between 74 and 76 before the company went bankrupt. The story goes that they couldn't build them fast enough for the demand and the cost to build one car was too much compared to the sales they were making. That's why they are so rare! And SV stands for safety vehicle. Yep! The plan was to make the safest sports car on the market. But, because they tried too hard, it added weight to the car to a point it had trouble pulling it's own weight.

The car had a couple of neat features for its time though. First of all: gullwing doors. Everyone remembers the DeLorean DMC12 right? From Back to the Future? With Doc Brown and Marty McFly? Well the Bricklin SV-1 had them before they were cool. Even better: they were ELECTRONIC! You had NO door handle. Instead you had a button next to the door that you pressed and the door opened up or closed by itself. That's right! You never had to touch the door to either open or close it!

See what I mean?

Other than that, the car has a pretty sporty look. But, when you look closer, you notice that the thing is built of some kind of plastic. It looks super cheap. What do you do if you have an accident in one of those and need to do some bodywork? Do you have to get another piece of moulded plastic? The doors on this one looked like they didn't quite fit in their holes. It was a bit off. The owner of that car obviously didn't care much about it. I mean who would drive a rare car in the middle of the winter? No matter how crappy the car is? I wouldn't! It's a real shame I tell ya. Anyway, I'm pretty happy that I got to see one up close. It's really surprising the amount of special cars I get to see around this city.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


If there's one thing that we know about in Canada, it's snow. Lately we got a huge fucking crapload of this white shit. Mother nature unleashed her fury upon us and buried us in about 47cm of snow. That's nearly 20 inches! It was a record from what I read on the web, the last being something like 43 or 45 back in the 70's. Montreal is well prepared for this kind of stuff though. I read somewhere that someone read on the internet on some website that someone commented that Montreal had the largest snow removal budget in the world. Although, I can't verify the exactitude of that fact, here is what the city of Montreal spent in 2011-2012 for snow removal. Here's a video that someone shot that shows how the city clears the snow after a huge snowfall:

The aboriginal people of northern Canada (Inuits and Innus) supposedly have 100 words to describe snow. I wouldn't be surprised, though here in Montreal, I don't think we ever had 100 types of snow. But, let me tell you about a few kinds that we French settlers have.

Neige - Snow

First of all, we have the regular fluffy white stuff. Everybody knows what that is. It's snow. We call it neige in French. Or as we pronounce it in true Quebecker slang fasion: NEIGH-JH. Like the name of the sound a horse makes but with a soft "j" at the end.

Sloche/Gadoue - Slush

Yes, sloche. Just like the slushie drink. Also called gadoue (pronounced GAH-DOO) by some. It's a mixture of half melted snow and water that makes this really wet dirty brown mess on the curb in the street. Try not to step in that stuff because you'll be sure to end up with cold wet feet as the water will penetrate your shoes and the wet snow will cling to any fabric and chill your feet while slowly melting and thus increasing the amunt of water in your shoes over a prolonged period of time. If you happen to walk to close to the edge of the sidewalk, chances are you might get splashed when a car drives by and you'll be covered in this filthy stuff. It happened to me once when I was a young teenager, and it was a police cruiser that swerved into a large puddle of slush to splash me on purpose. Fucking bastards. Anyway, enough of my childhood trauma stories. Here's what that crap looks like:

La poudreuse/The powder

This is a really, REALLY light fluffy snow. Usually during or just right after a snowfall, the snow will be super duper extra light. If you were to jump in a mountain of that stuff, you'd probably sink through and die of asphyxiation like you would in quicksand. This snow is great for snowshoeing, snowboarding,  alpine and cross-country skiing. It's also great for softly breaking your fall while doing any kind of winter sport. But, unless you're wearing one of those specialized snow travelling apparel, you will sink right through to your waist, get stuck and die from either frozenballzitis or popsicledickosis unless someone is there to pull you out and carry you to a snow-less place. The sad part about this snow is that most of the time, it's not humid enough to be sticky. Therefore you can't make any snowballs out of it.


Pie crust/Brown sugar

Ok, so those are the three official names of types of snow. But, I'd like to make up a couple more. There's another type of snow that I think deserves its own name. I don't know how to describe it, but it's in between normal snow and slush. It's not powdery or thick like normal snow, nor is it wet and runny like slush. You can walk in it without getting your feet wet. When you walk in that stuff, it's like walking in light wet sand. It's hard to describe.  I call it the unbaked pie crust snow, or the brown-sugar snow. Because, it really does have the grainy, sticky pasty texture of pie crust mix or the grainy sticky feel of brown sugar. This kind of snow usually forms when regular snow gets walked on, or driven on and is mixed with a bit of water. When you walk a long distance in this shit, your legs really hurt because every time you take a step, your feet slide back a little and it takes twice the effort to travel a certain distance.

La surprise/The surprise

There should be other names as well for snow that melted a little in warmer weather and then immediately hardened when the temperature dropped once again. It's not snow anymore, nor is it ice either. But, that shit will mess up your car real good when you want to parallel park your car and think you can get it through that small foot-high pile of snow. BZZZZ! WRONG! That motherfucking snow will tear off your bumper and seriously damage your car. You will also break your toes if you think you can kick a snowball from a frozen snowbank. And that's not good, I can tell you from experience...

La croûteuse/The crusty snow

Sometimes it'll snow, then a couple of days later, it'll rain, then it'll get freezing cold overnight thus creating a thick frozen ice crust on the top of the snow, while the rest underneath remains all light and fluffy. The crust can get so thick, it can actually support your whole weight! But, be careful! If you start to walk too fast or run on the crust, chances are your foot will go right through and your shin will hit the crust and this, my friends, hurts a lot! But, apart from being able to walk on the snow like you're the Jesus Christ of the Arctic, another neat part is that you can break off large chunks of the crust and throw it like a Frisbee! (Freezebee. Get it?) Just be careful not to aim it at someone's face because IT WILL MESS THEM UP BUT GOOD! Also, don't throw them at cars, unless you want to get revenge on a bad drive who almost ran over you while making a left turn when you were there, crossing the street. Indeed, the crusty snow is a deadly weapon that can be used like an ice crystal ninja throwing star.

Okay, so there are many other types of snow I could write about but I'm gonna stop here. I think from what I wrote, you should get a good idea of the types of snow we have here. Just to let you know, if you plan on staying in the city, you won't need skis or snowshoes. The city has a pretty good snow removal system and chances are, you could probably walk around town in your running shoes if you wanted to. Worst case scenario, just stick to the underground complex. That's what it's there for!

Bonus: Check out these icicles!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy new year 2013!

On new years eve I woke up early in the morning to go to work, only to find an empty office. Apparently, as the new guy, I wasn't on the mailing list for the holiday vacation memo. I overheard from word of mouth that we were supposed to have the 1st and 2nd of January off, when in fact it was December 31st and January 1st. I should've confirmed with someone a couple of days earlier just to be sure. So after trying to get in touch with a co-worker on our vacation day early in the morning (I bet he wasn't too happy about that) to ask him where the hell was everybody, I went home and went back to sleep. I woke up late in the afternoon all groggy and dizzy. That was one hell of a power nap. I wasn't even sure if I had slept through the entire day and just woke up the day after. Heck this was my state of mind at this point...

I was messed up and I had a bad headache. I saw it was like 3 in the afternoon and I spent my whole day in dreamland. It was such a great fit for the last day of possibly the worst year of my life so far. That's right. The worst so far. The reason I started this blog at all was to keep myself busy during the toughest most difficult depression I've ever lived through. I wish I could write about the details, but I don't think this is the right place to do that. Besides, as a 2013 resolution, I have decided to stop telling that story ever again. The less I think about it, the faster I'll get over it. Hopefully.

And quite frankly, it left me completely burnt out and with very little interest in anything at all. I won't go into any details, but those close to me know what happened and understand how deeply this has affected me. I couldn't eat for the longest time, couldn't sleep for months on end and I lost 20 lbs overall. On top of that, I couldn't perform at work, lost my reputation as a hard worker and smart person and eventually lost any chances at getting a promotion, let alone a raise. My family, friends and even my co-workers were concerned with my well being. Some even believed I would commit suicide, though I would never do such a thing. But, it's still hard to hear your grandmother cry over the phone and beg you to promise her not to hurt yourself because she knows how much you're hurting. Depression is a bitch and when you have one, everyone around you suffers with you.

For new year's eve, even though I felt like shit, I wanted to do something with my friends. I hit them up by text messages to see what they were up to. One's having dinner and going to the movies with his girlfriend and then going to a NYE concert at the Darling foundry. Another one is going clubbing with a girl he recently hooked up with. Someone else was working that night and the rest didn't answer. I wasn't feeling well enough for a loud concert and dancing and stuff, nor did I want to go clubbing. A friend on Facebook said she was going to go to the old port to watch the midnight fireworks and that there was a huge open street ceremony at place Jacques Cartier in front of city hall. That didn't sound like it was too much so I did that and went there by myself instead of staying at home in my underwear and playing with my balls while watching pictures of cats on the internet.

I took my car and drove downtown. I parked it around Place-Des-Arts and walked to the old port from there. I got there 30 minutes before the countdown. There was a massive crowd at Place Jacques Cartier. There were stages set up and there were some artists playing traditional Quebecer Rigaudon music. And classics from artists like La Bolduc and her famous song C'est dans l'temps du jour de l'an.

I turned and directed myself towards the old port itself where there was another stage and another crowd who were trying to push to get as close as possible to the river where the fireworks were set up. I plunged in the crowd and tried to squeeze as close as I could.

Eventually, midnight was here and the fireworks started. So, I just stopped where I was and gazed up.

After the fireworks were over, I headed back towards Saint-Laurent and decided to got around the plateau before heading home, just to get some exercise walking in the thick snow and tire myself out before getting home. Because, when you sleep through half the day, there's now way you're gonna sleep during normal night hours. As I was coming down Saint-Denis, I passed by the Beatnick record store again and found this gem.  I swear, this store surprises me every time.

Nananananananananananananananana BATMAAAAN!

That's a rare collectible right there. Along with the Buck Rogers atomic pistol, that would be a great item ti any geek's collection!

After that, I walked back to my car and headed home and got some shuteye wishing that, for 2013, I won't have to walk solo anymore.

Happy new year y'all!