Friday, December 30, 2005

neither here nor there in week 52

For me, the week between Christmas and New Year's is almost always an uneasy time. There's just something inherently unsettling about being caught between what'll be left unaccomplished in the current year and the inevitable burden of expectations for the upcoming year.

Transamerica Pyramid and Sentinel Building, San Francisco, California (2005). Was looking through some of my old travel pictures and thought this one of the modern, iconic Transamerica Pyramid and the old, 1906 earthquake- surviving Sentinel Building would be fitting for my last post of 2005. I snapped this photo last January with my 35mm Olympus Stylus while waiting for a stoplight at the intersection of Kearny and Columbus in the middle of a blue sky rain.

It's the same story this year and here in week 52, once again I find myself neither here nor there. But who knows? Maybe this time next year, things will be different.

Thanks for taking the time to read my website over the past nine months. Have a Happy New Year and make 2006 your own the best way you know how, because it's the only way it's going to work. (And don't forget to check in here from time-to-time to make sure I'm following my own advice).


Sunset over Mont Royal while looking west on Rue University, Montréal, Quebec (2003). I made several business trips to Montréal (Canada's best city, in my opinion) over the summer of 2003 and took this photo while I was on my way out to meet a friend for dinner. Yes, it's yet another sunset photo posted on my site. Lest that this read like a personal ad, but what can I say? Photography is remarkably similar to the reality it attempts to capture ... the light at the end of the day is better for taking pictures just like the end of the year is better for personal reflection. Or something like that.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

merry christmas

The dedicated employees of felix's daily starfish and waffles wish you a very Merry Christmas. Pictured above: felix's daily starfish and waffles' Editor-in-Chief.

Friday, December 23, 2005

my simulated reality tv life: episode six

Four out of five mathematicians and three out of four lie-purveying statisticians agree: My Simulated Reality TV Life is the most popular simulated reality series of 2005. Miss the last episode? Quick, click here to get up to speed. Never had the privilege of tuning into North America's favourite simulated reality program until tonight? Don't delay, click here to start at the very beginning. Now put away your pocket calculator, operator ... an all-new episode is only seconds away.

Why go out for supper when you have The Chef at home? And by "The Chef," I mean Chef Boyardee, whose 99-cent canned pastas are beloved by everyone from pregnant ladies (like Bridgette) to their simulated flaky husbands (like simulated Felix).

Episode Six
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ... or something like that. First, the good news: thanks to a romantic evening of grilled cheese sandwiches and malfunctioning simulated birth control, the simulated me and wife Bridgette are expecting our firstborn. Oh baby. Literally!

Next, the bad news: we're running out of money. I've been, umm, between jobs for awhile now, and it appears as if Bridgette's maternity leave from her semi-pro soccer team is of the zero-income variety. (Her team must be non-unionized). It's not that we need lots of money to be happy, but we do need money to eat ... and with Bridgette getting seemingly more preggo by the minute, things are starting to look pretty grim. My wife and unborn baby can't just subsist on canned spaghetti, you know.

So what to do? Think, simulated Felix, think! And then, just like that, a lightbulb turns on and a brilliant money-making scheme is hatched ...

Who needs a job when you have alcoholic neighbors like Jan, who will pay upwards of $10 for your cheap booze. Bottoms-up!

How about ... a lemonade stand! If pathetic-looking, loser kids can make some coin selling water-downed lemonade to unsuspecting passersby, why not (simulated) me? I can be twice as pathetic as any loser kid in the neighborhood. And moreover, my lemonade doesn't have to be lemonade at all but, rather, it can be booze from my liquor cabinet served at a fair markup, heehee. Ahhh alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. This is genius, I tells ya, pure genius!

With Bridgette taking a nap and no time to waste, Chez Simulated Felix is set up within seconds on my front lawn. And remarkably, it doesn't take long for my lush neighbors to take notice. A crowd gathers and they start ordering drinks. Cold beer? $5. Polar Bear Milkshake? $8.50. Star Martini? $10. Sure, it may only be 11 o'clock in the morning, but the drinks are flowing, the party's a-hoppin', and the cash is rolling in. Today, simulated Felix can do no wrong. Pure genius!

But just when I start to think that I'll never have to work another day in my life, some unexpected visitors drive up ... oh no, it's the cops! That's not good. What? You mean selling open liquor on a residential street without a license is illegal? Uh oh ...

Uh oh ... who called the police? Quick, bribe the cops with a drink!

What's going to happen to simulated Felix? Will he get a slap on the wrist or will he be thrown in jail? And who ratted him out? Was it the bastard in the llama suit? And what will the unsuspecting Bridgette think? Find out the answers to these questions and more on the next episode of My Simulated Reality TV Life!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

no soup for you!

Well, hold on, wait - I can't. Withholding soup from you without you doing something to justify such soup withholding would truly be a cruel act of soupy proportions. And since it's against the corporate values of felix's daily starfish and waffles to be cruel - what can I say, I'm a lover, not a hater - just forget the whole title of this post. Except the part about the soup.

Trust in, and eat, Felix's delightfully-fattening Pancetta & Potato Minestrone and, verily, thou shalt have died and gone to heaven. Amen!

A great chef must have a great signature soup. Now don't argue with me: I believe this is one of the laws of thermodynamics. Unfortunately, this great chef (haha) has been without a great signature soup for years and enough is enough - it's due time to put an end to this shameful circumstance. So, for the past few weeks, I've been secretly toiling day and night in my kitchen, experimenting with the finest ingredients from the four corners of the world and the latest, cutting-edge culinary techniques, all in an effort to come up with a soup recipe that will overwhelm the likes of humankind.

Why go to all the trouble, you ask?

Because this is my Everest, damnit!! It is my destiny! Don't question me or else there will be no soup for you!

As you can see, I am very passionate about soup. Anyway, before I have an aneurysm, I'm going to share with you the recipe of my Pancetta & Potato Minestrone - the first signature soup of the dingobear kitchen.

Felix's Pancetta & Potato Minestrone
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
800mL can of whole tomatoes
400mL sodium-reduced chicken broth
100-150 grams of pancetta (Italian bacon), cubed into bite-sized pieces
2 small or medium Russet potatoes, cubed into small pieces with the skin left on
2 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
10 baby carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 cup of parsley, coarsely chopped
4-5 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When warm, throw in the chopped onions and lightly stir fry with a wooden spoon until they start to turn just slightly translucent. Once this happens, toss in the pancetta. Stir fry amongst the olive oil and onions for a few more minutes until the edges of the pancetta start to brown. That's your cue to add the potatoes. What you want to do is get a good start on cooking the potatoes and coating them with all of the good stuff that's already in your pot. So, like before, using your wooden spoon, stir fry your ingredients for, I dunno, say another 5 or 6 more minutes.

By now, some brown bits are going to start sticking to the bottom of your pot, so you'll want to deglaze a little to release all of those great bits of flavor. You do this by emptying your can of whole tomatoes. The liquid and acidity of the tomatoes will allow you to use your wooden spoon to easily scrape all of the brown bits from the bottom of your pot. Next, break up the whole, canned tomatoes into smaller pieces with your wooden spoon. (This is an important step because you're not going to want to bite into a whole tomato when you're eating your soup - you'll burn yourself). Give all of the ingredients in your pot a good stir.

Next, add the carrots, fresh Roma tomatoes, and celery, and stir those around a bit. Follow with your sodium-reduced chicken broth and, finally, your parsley and sage leaves. Reduce heat, cover your pot and allow the soup to simmer and thicken for 45 to 60 minutes. Remember to stir at least occasionally.

As the minestrone simmers, the wonderful smells of the ingredients will permeate your entire house. (If this doesn't happen, you've made it wrong! And I absolve myself from all blame). After the soup is done simmering, what you'll get is four servings of a hearty, chunky soup which is distinguishable by the salty smokiness of the pancetta and the satisfying flavor of the various vegetables and herbs.

Felix's Pancetta & Potato Minestrone is comfort food from the dingobear kitchen. Make lots and enjoy!

If you're the ambitious sort, you may also want to try the dingobear classic pizza. It's very good for stuffing your face with.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

my simulated reality tv life: episode five

The wait is almost over - you're only 30 seconds away from tonight's all-new episode of My Simulated Reality TV Life, the #1-rated simulated reality series on the planet! Did you miss the last episode? Click here for a rerun of last week's unbelievable cliffhanger. New to the series? Click here to start at the now-classic Episode One. You don't want to be left out.

Simulated Felix blacks out after Bridgette announces her pregnancy. Curse me and my potent, potent sperm!

Episode Five
Somehow, in the back of my simulated mind, I just knew Bridgette's recent penchant for morning toilet bowl hugging couldn't have been the mere result of a little food poisoning. Actually, it's pretty logical when you think about it ... I mean, is it even possible to get food poisoning from grilled cheese sandwiches made with processed cheddar? I don't think processed cheddar is even organic. Isn't that right, Kraft?

But if it isn't food poisoning, then it can only be one thing. Could there be a bun in the ... no! No!! I'm just not ready to come to grips with the gravity of that simulated reality. So, for now, I choose to live in denial. Ahh, denial. Happy, blissful, ignorant, denial. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the birds are singing. All's well and nobody's having any babies.

Yep, all's well. That is, until Bridgette cruelly causes my blissful world of denial to come crashing down on me by saying something to the effect of: "Hi Honey, I like your new sandals. Guess what? I'm pregnant!"

All of a sudden, the grass doesn't seem so green and the sky doesn't seem so blue. And the birds aren't singing - they're probably out trying to have sex with the bees or something. Curse me and my potent, potent, sperm!

After that, everything's a bit of a blur. I'd like to say that I take Bridgette's news in stride but that would be a lie. First, I black out. Then, apparently, I go into some kind of cardiac arrest. Poor simulated me!

Take notes, all of you soon-to-be dads out there ... now this is the proper way to rub your wife's belly. Just like waxing your car.

Happily, I feel much better after my quadruple bypass. And Bridgette, who's been an emotional rock through all of this, is sure glad to have me home. Now that I've come to my senses, I'm really starting warm to the idea of us having a baby ... it's quite fun rubbing Bridgette's belly and talking to the baby. Congratulate me, everbody - I'm going to become a simulated dad!

"Hi, Baby!" Cute, but apparently the simulated me is unaware that our unborn child is unable to see through the walls of Bridgette's uterus.

The excitement of impending parenthood for Bridgette and the simulated me is definitely in the air. But many questions lurk beyond the horizon. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will Bridgette and I be good parents? How are we going make ends meet now that we're going to have an extra mouth to feed? Stay tuned for the next episode of My Simulated Reality TV Life and find out!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

i can't feel my toes

It gets damn cold in Canada during the month of December. The current temperature: -21C (-6F). Why humankind decided to settle here on the frozen tundra in the first place is beyond me. Perhaps humankind was on crack? Why I consciously choose to live in this country is also a mystery. Perhaps I am on crack?

There's even a polar bear outside my window right now. (Oh, by the way, he says "hi.") Meh. I know it's only 8:30am, but already I need a drink.

Dr. Felix says: "You'll feel less cold if you're drunk." Prescription: the Polar Bear Milkshake. Just hook it up to my veins!

Polar Bear Milkshake
0.67 oz. Crème de Cacao
0.67 oz. Vodka
4-5 oz. Milk
3 dashes Nutmeg
3 dashes Cinnamon

Combine the first three ingredients in an old-fashioned glass and stir with ice. Sprinkle on the nutmeg and cinnamon. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

The Polar Bear Milkshake is the perfect December drink to sip on while you and your special someone are cuddled up in front of the fire. The nutmeg and cinnamon will have you dreaming of the Caribbean. The strawberry will let you reminisce about summer. The vodka will get you drunk. Talk about win-win-win!

Are you living in the Southern hemisphere where it's currently summer or at a latitude where there is no winter? You lucky bastard, you. But in spite of my envy, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, for you, the Star Martini might be a more appropriate seasonal beverage.