Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 28 Police Concert and cheap parking by GM Place

The moment Ticketmaster was selling Police concert tickets, I was on their website repeatedly hitting the refresh button and getting the "sold out" message. After numerous attempts, I got the option of buying row 30 Gold Premium floor seats for a mere $425 each with only a minute to make my decision. In the frenzy of the moment, I ended up buying them. Of course I regretted it after entering in my billing info. I mean, what the heck was I thinking? I could go to Vegas, catch a concert and fly back for that price.

So when they added the second show, I bought two reasonably priced tickets at around $111 each with the intent of selling the floor seats for face value. Well, imagine my surprise when my friend was able to buy floor tickets for $225. In Row 19. Closer than my pricier seats. It turns out my tix cost $425 because they were Gold seats, which essentially means you get some kind of Police memorabilia. Oh, the memorabilia we got was a fanny pack. ?!?

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, I post my tickets on Craigslist a little less than face value. No response. So a few days before the concert, I post them for half price. Not. one. response. So we ended up going yesterday. It was a great concert but not worth $425 a ticket. And they were saying it was sold out, but it wasn't. I ran into some friends that were sitting in row 36 on the floor, they told me they were sitting in the nosebleeds and an usher asked them if they wanted to move to the floor, so he gave them some Comp floor seat stubs. After they moved down to the floor, basically everyone sitting around them was all giddy because they also got the free upgrade. So basically they are just trying to make it look sold out, because it looks strange to look out on the floor and see tons of empty space.
Oh, we saw scalpers outside selling tickets for ten bucks. And, I saw tickets selling on Ebay for $25.

As for the concert, Sting sounded amazing, and he looked amazing. He looked so serene and relaxed up on stage, and he looked genuinely happy. His physique is WOW. Put it this way, I signed up for yoga today.
Apparently Pearl Jam was at the concert.
Anyways, I'm pretty pissed I spent so much for this concert, and about the way they sell the tickets. I guess it's all about the concert promoters making the most amount of money. But come on, charging an extra $200 to sit further back for a vinyl fanny pack? that thing is going in the garbage anyways, taking up more space in a land fill.

Tip: If you're going to any concerts or events at GM Place in the evening, park in the International Mall on Keefer Street. It's $2.50 for the entire evening and most people don't know about it so it's not too busy. It's much better than paying upwards of $15 for parking and have a hard time getting out when the concert/event ends.
Also, instead of getting the pricey food at GM Place, walk across the street to Costco, and get a hotdog and drink for $2. If you want to splurge, get their fries too.

Bosa Supermarket and Grocery Shopping in Vancouver

I noticed Bosa Foods several times from Highway 1 by the Cassiar Tunnel and finally got a chance to check it out. The original location is on Victoria Drive, but they opened up this big store in Burnaby on Kootenay Drive. It is an Italian supermarket. If you're going northbound on Boundary, you want to make a left after 1st avenue where ICI paints is.
The supermarket is quite nice, it sort of reminds me of Whole Foods in North Vancouver. The deli has a great selection, especially the olives. I tried a grilled sandwich which was delicious.
They don't have a big produce section but they more then make up for it with their good selection of olive oils, cheeses, fine meats, kitchen supplies, breads from Pane Formaggio and of course pastas. Definitely worth checking out. I will be coming back for their cheeses and deli items.

Grocery shopping
I do most of my veggie shopping at Kin's. (you should go on the website just to hear the cheesy music..) Aside from the price of the avocados, I find their prices good and the produce to be good quality and selection. Plus they always have specials going on, and if you look in some of the free local papers like the Courier, they often have coupons for free stuff, or purchase a minimum of $5 and get a free bag of onions. Depending on the location you go to, they have a good selection of organic items (Park Royal location=good, Champlain Mall=not so good). I have two complaints about Kin's. The music they play in the stores, the other day I heard "My Heart will go on" from the Titanic but done music box style. Also, if the line up is long, they open up a second cash register, but they don't ask for the next in line. They just serve whoever runs up there the fastest. And if you ever go to the Champlain mall location, some of their customers know that, so as soon as they see a long line up, they sort of hang around the other register knowing they'll open it up. Annoying!

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I'm super picky and selective when it comes to food shopping. I'm the person in the supermarket aisles inspecting a bunch of cans.. That being said, I think I can offer a few tips on buying produce:

-For most fruits, eg orange, take turns holding a few of the same sized oranges, and buy the heaviest one.

-Try to pick the medium sized, or medium to small sized fruits. Bigger does not necessarily equal better.

-People like to squeeze to find produce that yields to slight pressure, but after several people are squeezing the produce, it's most likely to get soft anyways, so this is not always a good test.

-Fruits from afar have to travel so much further so it's been picked way before they are ripe. Melons need to ripen on the vine, much like stone fruits. Once picked, they only get softer, not any sweeter. I like to buy local produce.
Sniff the stem end of the fruit. It should smell good. If no scent, it's probably dry.

-I love tomatoes, but it's hard to find good tomatoes in the supermarket. Unlike stone fruits, tomatoes ripen after picking, so when you bring them home, keep them in a paper bag to slow down the ripening. Also, don't store tomatoes in the fridge as it ruins the taste.

I try to buy organic, but sometimes, price is a factor, as is limited selection. And to be perfectly honest, I hardly eat any fruit..

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Online sites that ship to Canada

Online shopping sites that ship to Canada
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Revolve clothing, FREE shipping to Canada
Bluefly.com orders up to $300 are $34, over $300 is $45
Sephora.com (not fashion, but how can I not mention Sephora)
Victoriassecret.com (starts at $11.95) http://www.victoriassecret.com/
Activeendeavors.com Shipping is FREE to Canada!
Neimanmarcus.com, not really online shopping because you need to call to make an order, 1.888.888.4757
and of course EBay. A lot of sellers will say US only, but if you contact them, they are often willing to send to Canada. It’s actually not expensive for them to ship to Canada at all.
If you really want something from Zappo’s, you can always order through myus.com, which is a mail forwarding service so you can shop from any online store that ships to the US, but it ain’t cheap. It’s $35 set up fee, then a $132 for annual membership. These are the shipping charges for air. Each 100 grams up to 1 kg $2.20, each 100 grams over 1 kg is $1.45
Mail Network also does the same thing, but it’s more pricey for the annual membership, however, the shipping charges are cheaper.

Personally, I opened up a PO Box in Blaine. I found it to be much cheaper, and I used to go to the US about once a week so it made sense. Now I don’t go as often.
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Martini's on Broadway

I haven't been here in ages, so I was surprised when I went this weekend that the place looks a lot better than before. It sort of reminds me of an upscale pub. But like in the past, they seem understaffed, however, the waitress we got was excellent. And our food was quick, she was attentive, came at all the right times. The food is still mediocre, but their reasonably priced drink menu makes up for it. Martinis for 5.45. I had a Tropical Breeze and it was pretty yummy. Monday nights they are less than 4 bucks. I remember coming here a lot because it was open late, and they served liquor late and I remember the service was really bad back then. The clientele when I went this weekend was very mixed. Some very young people, or senior citizen types. The food they have is like a pizza/greek joint. Souvlaki, pizza, pastas, kalamari, you get the picture. I think it's still an okay place to go to for a drink or some late night food.
151 W Broadway (across from Mountain Equipment Co-op)

Teaworks on Victoria Drive
This is a bubble tea restaurant in East Vancouver close to London Drugs (Victoria and 41st). This place can get really busy, a lot of young student types. The menu is pretty cheap, and the food and drinks aren't bad, but the service is not that great. Some of the waitstaff seem inexperienced and they are definitely understaffed.. I've only been twice though so maybe I went on off nights.
The last time I was there, we were seated before a group of four guys. We kept trying to flag the waitress to order. It took a while for the server to come around, and when she did, she served the four guys first. What was annoying was, those four guys KNEW we were there first, AND they saw us trying to flag down the waitress, but they had no sense of courtesy to say something to the waitress. What was even more annoying was, the guy that started ordering looked almost smug cause he knew they were getting served first, acting like he was some VIP. I think most people would say, "i think they were here first". Anyways, they were right next to us, so she took our order next, so I told the waitress we were here first, "and those guys know that we were here first AND that we were trying to order, but they were too rude to let you know". The waitress apologized, glanced at the guys and looked uncomfortable, and she ended up bringing our order first. The four guys started whispering to each other, probably plotting what they'll say, but think they realized they are assholes. Anyways, the tables are very close together, and it's a super busy environment, and the temperature is very cool in here. So bring a sweater, and be prepared to be in a noisy non-relaxing environment. In that part of Vancouver, there's not that many restaurants open late that are good except maybe Neighbour's restaurant, but the food is very mediocre there.. Oh, and there's Mui Garden, but after my last experience there with a very strange smelling dessert I will not go back there again.

Seto Restaurant in Richmond
I was here a few days ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a little bit pricey I think for what it looks like, but the food is good and quite authentic. In fact, I saw a couple Japan Airlines flight attendants that made their way out here, perhaps on the way from the airport to their hotel in downtown. (They were not in uniform, but I know a flight attendant when I see one)
They have a good selection of sake too. One thing that was a bit funny was, there is a poster for some Japanese girl pageant in Vancouver. There's a picture of five girls (probably the finalists) I think, and it's autographed by all the girls. I just thought that was funny for some reason. If I come back again (which I'm sure I will), I'll take a pic of it if it's still up.
Service is average.

Beauty Product Reviews

Jergen's Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
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I bought this a couple weeks ago (the one for pale skin), after about five applications, there's a noticeable difference in my legs. I only applied it below my knees because I wanted to test it out, and usually the only skin I show on my lower half is below the knee anyways. Someone actually asked me yesterday if I've been tanning cause my legs looked tan. So I guess it works well. I definitely like this product, the scent isn't bad either. Normally self tanner smells pretty horrible. Also, because it develops so gradually, there is hardly any streaking.

Softsoap Vanilla Brown Sugar

Not really a beauty product, but I had to include this cause I was just thinking of it. I bought one of those soap pump dispensers and I fill it with dishwashing liquid and keep it in the bathroom. But it makes my hands really dry, and it's too soapy. I hate using bar soap to wash my hands, and I'm too cheap to buy the liquid hand soap, so when I was at the dollar store and saw Softsoap Vanilla Brown Sugar hand soap, I had to buy it. Also, I love the scent of Vanilla as long as it doesn't smell like hot chocolate. Well, this stuff actually smells like vanilla and tobacco. seriously. I thought it smelled like tobacoo, and I thought it was just me, but someone actually told me I smelled like cigarettes. (I quit smoking a few months ago, so they thought I started again). Anyways, for some weird reason I like the scent, but I don't think I'll be buying it again.

Philosophy 3-in-1 Waffle Cone shower gel
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I LOVE the scent of this. It does not have that cheap fake smell like some other body washes. It seriously smells good enough to eat. It's $16 US at Sephora, and it's totally worth it. It's a 3-in-1 because it's a shampoo, soap, and shower gel. However, I don't really like using it as a shampoo because it makes my hair a bit dry, and it made my hair colour (my hair's coloured) a little bit brassy. If you see it in the store, you must buy it. You will smell delicious enough to eat.

MAC brush cleanser

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I'm pretty cheap, I used to wash my makeup brushes with shampoo and thought it was good enough. Well, a couple years ago I splurged and bought this and I couldn't believe how well it worked. I put a little in a plastic cup and add a little water, and just push my brush around in there and all this makeup comes off even though my brushes look clean. This product is very easy to use, it disinfects and conditions your brushes, and it's safe for use on high quality brushes. This is well worth the splurge, it's $11, and it lasts a long time. I actually keep a couple bottles of these. My skin breaks out easily, so I try to wash my brushes regularly. I've seen makeup artists put some in a spritzer bottle mixed with water, and spray their brushes after each use. I haven't tried this yet, but thinking of doing this to keep my brushes clean.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Recent restaurant visits

Toshi's in Vancouver
I've been here six times, and five out of six times I lined up over 30 minutes (the one time I didn't line up was on a Tuesday or Thursday night during a Canucks game). All I know is, never again will I step foot in this place. First off, if I get really crappy service, I will complain to the manager. Unfortunately, complaining at most Asian restaurants for lousy service will pretty much get you nowhere, and most likely nothing will really get resolved unless they feel like their restaurant may possibly be fined or shut down for uncleanliness. But bad service? Pshaw! And for a place like Toshi's I didn't even bother. Some of the waitresses there have really let the lineups get to their head, as if people are lining up to be served by them. People are lining up because that's pretty much the only restaurant in the area serving "authentic" Japanese food with "nonauthentic" Japanese restaurant prices. This is one of those restaurants where it's, sit down, order, eat your food and leave, don't linger around when there's like 16 pairs of eyes willing you to hurry up. But of course this restaurant boasts some really obnoxious customers, like these three ladies I've seen there three of the six times I've been there. Each time that I saw them, they were already seated, and pretty much finished eating, but half an hour later while I'm still waiting, they're still sitting there, and when I finally get to sit down, after I pay the bill and leave, they are still there (two of the three times anyways). Why don't they just go around the corner to Bellagio's and have some ice cream or go to Denny's and spend all night there??

My chief complaints and observations during my six visits
-2 of the six times, the bill was incorrect, once over billed, once under billed
-1 of the six times, I received the incorrect amount of change. so basically half the time they screw up the bill
-the table next to me complained they never got something that was charged on their bill, and the waitress argued with them about it.
-the young waitress with bob length hair has a really irritating tone of voice
-they will keep calling names all night, even if after calling it three or four times the party is not there. If not being there after being called twice, they should lose their spot.
-if you are a table of 3-4, you will never get a table, they will keep putting couples and singles ahead of you, but if they went in the correct order, you would have sat down long ago, eg, tables A, B, and C. Each table seats two. Table A opens up, so they seat one couple. Then table B opens up, so they seat another couple. Meanwhile the party of four that has been waiting way before the other two couples could have sat down. And it's not like when Table A left, Table B was still eating, table B is also waiting for their bill.

Anyways, I'm not going back there because one of the waitresses is such a friggin bag. If I ever seen her again, I may handle it like an adult and only punch her in the face.

If you decide to check this place out, make sure there is only one or two of you. Otherwise you're in for a long wait.

Nu restaurant
After a recommendation from a friend who went during the first week of opening, I decided to check this place out. I didn't like it. The service was great (at least from our waiter), the dishes ranged from horrible to good. I did like the butternut squash soup and caesar salad a lot, but I wouldn't go back there for it. And I just didn't like the decor. It looks too trendy, and something that will require a serious update in about 15 months. And I don't know what my friend is talking about, and I certainly don't know what En Route magaine is talking about, "#1 best new restaurant in Canada"?? And trendy and cool clientele?? At least not the day I was there. The only thing I liked about the restaurant was the ample and free parking. The night we were there, it appeared there was a restaurant critic there, (not anonymously) and he and his group were getting the royal treatment. Maybe if you say you're a restaurant critic, you get the better food too? When I spend $70 for just the meal portion, I think I deserve to have fare better than Cactus Club.

The Main on Main
I used to come here when it first opened quite a few years ago, and I really liked the ambiance and food and easygoing attitude of the staff. I was recently here, and the service was so bad. And it's not like they are rude, they are just soo friggin slow. After it felt like it was taking forever just to order, I checked my watch. Twenty minutes later (after checking my watch), the waitress finally came around. There were two waitresses that night, and only 6 tables. Both of them were chatting and flirting with some guys that were seated outside.. Meanwhile, the owner was sitting at the bar talking to some guy and wasn't doing anything about it. The food was good, but I won't be returning here again. If I'm in this area, I'd much rather go to Locus or the Reef. I have yet to check out Hawker's, but I think they keep weird hours.

It's a good thing Vancouver has a never ending supply of restaurants. Cause I just added three more restaurants to my list of restaurants not to go to.

I love this place. I've been here five times and each time it's been great. The food and desserts are good, and the prices decent. The drink menu is great, and my drinks have always been made nicely. The service is great, although I have to admit it was a lot better back when the tall bartender still worked there. My only beef is, I don't really like the lighting and setup in the dining area. It feels very cramped. I prefer to come here for appies and drinks in the bar area, better lighting and ambiance. I had a squid ink pasta which isn't part of their regular menu that was simply fab. I've even ordered the Feenie's Weenie once, which I regretted ordering the minute I got it. My friends were picking at their charcuterie plates and seared tuna, while I'm biting into a hot dog with ketchup and mustard is dripping onto my shirt. All whilst wearing my stilettos. Ahhh, glamorous. flossy flossy.

Nobody Knows - True story, The Affair of the Abandoned Children

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJust watched this film based on a true story about a mother that leaves her four children for weeks at a time while she goes off to party and meet men until she finally abandons them altogether. The movie is definitely worth watching. For the good acting (the boy who plays Akira won the 2004 Cannes Film Festival best actor award), beautiful cinematography and imagery. Actually, Ella Taylor of the LA Weekly sums it up perfectly, "Nobody Knows unfolds with such leisurely, terrible beauty, it takes a while to realize that what we are witnessing is the children’s long slide into beggary, exacerbated by the slow torture of faint hope."

The horrifying thing is, the real life story is much more horrible than the movie version. I'm trying to find out more about the story, but all I keep finding is this Wikipedia article which indicates there were five children, one of them died of malnutrition so the mom wrapped her up in plastic and hid her in the closet and another was killed by one of the kids' friend. All other sites basically refer to the same Wiki article, or offer the exact same information. Apparently it was big news in the 80's in Japan, but none of my Japanese friends seem to know any specifics about this story. I want to know what ended up happening to the four children, and what happened to the mother. Apparently she only went to jail for two years.