ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

April 2006


Photos and Travel27 Apr 2006

And I am not one to disappoint.

My Minotaur Buddy
My Minotaur Buddy

The Minotaur!
Actual Size

The Minotaur!
Camera Trickery

Standing tall
Stand tall, bull man!

Dear reader, the food in Crete is amazing. The things you get from street vendors are nice (one could get used to having Pita Gyros for lunch), but in order to get the full effect you have to get a little off the obvious tourist path.

We had the good fortune to be taken by some Greeks to two very nice Cretan restaurants. Eating out is a little disorienting until you get used to the idea that everyone eats supper very late. We’d show up at a restaurant at 8:30 or 9 and it wouldn’t be open yet.

I must say the mode of dining is pretty ideal if you, like me, want to try everything. Typically, you order eight or ten different dishes, and they just bring them to you a few at a time as they are ready.

First you’d get things like bread and salad and baked feta cheese, and maybe some seafood. Mid-ways you’d have things like fried mushrooms or an omelet made with potatoes. Eventually you’d get to the meat (mostly pork, lamb or beef), which is prepared very simply: slightly salted and fried in olive oil. The flavor is brought out in ways you just don’t get when you do a lot of fancy things to your dinner.

I drank a fair bit of Cretan red wine (4 euros – approx. $6 – for a bottle! In a restaurant! Try to find that in Canada). I’m not a big wine snob, but I can tell you that it was quite smooth and tasty.

As if that wasn’t enough, they’d bring us a locally produced liqueur called “raki” with our desert. It’s made from the parts of grapes that are left over from wine production, and served very cold.

Someone told us that the average Greek consumes 200 liters of olive oil a year. The Greeks certainly eat very well, and yet there’s hardly a person over weight. I think the key is some combination of eating fresh foods (I saw only one McDonalds anywhere on the island), exercise, and not snacking between meals. It’s good to know that it is possible to eat large portions of very flavorful food as part of a healthy lifestyle. “The Cretan Diet” should be the next fad.

Travel25 Apr 2006

I spent four full days in the city of Herakleion. (Or “Heraklio” or “Iraklio” or “Ηρακλείου”). I spent the first day walking around and exploring the city. It was a little bewildering at first. Traffic is chaotic, the streets are narrow, and there were people everywhere.

I kept expecting people to be speaking French. When I hear French, I can usually follow the general direction of the conversation, or at least pick up a word here and there. In Greece, for pretty much the first time, I found myself completely surrounded by an impenetrable language. Even the signs blended into the background. Fortunately for me, a surprising number of the natives spoke English: especially those positioned to run into tourists, like the people running the open-sided food stalls, cab drivers, hotel clerks, and shop owners.

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News and Travel20 Apr 2006

I’ve been in Ontario for a week. I’m half-way home; I’ll be in Fredericton tomorrow. I’ll write more about my trip later. Highlights included my grandmother’s 90th birthday party, seeing Martha, and catching a pair of Jays games.

Also, I’ve got to finish writing about my trip to Crete at some point…

Movies09 Apr 2006

I saw V for Vendetta on Thursday. It was pretty good. It could have been great, but it wasted some of its potential.

Before I went I skimmed a bunch of reviews that said that it was either “smart” or “boring”. I figured that there were two possibilities: either, 1) it was slightly more cerebral than a jar of mayonnaise, in which case the dumb critics said it was “smart” and the smart critics said it was “boring”, or 2) it was a genuinely intelligent movie, causing the smart critics to think, “hey, this movie actually has some interesting things to say” (i.e.: “smart”) and the dumb critics to think, “come on, less talk, more explosions!” (i.e.: “boring”).

Cynical lad that I am, I expected #1.

Turned out that V for Vendetta thoroughly walloped the jar of mayonnaise on the IQ test.

It’s set in London about 20 years hence, where a Hitler-esque autocrat has seized on world instabilities to install himself as British High Chancellor. London is under curfew and heavy surveillance, and crawling with secret police.

Enter ‘V’, a masked man with a black cape, a Guy Fawkes fetish, and a penchant for alliteration. He swoops in to save ‘Evey’ (an almost English enough Natalie Portman) from some secret police and then brings her with him on an impressive spree of terrorism, culminating in his vow to blow up the parliament buildings one year hence, and calling on all Britons to join him.

At this point we are introduced to our third (and best) main character: ‘Finch’, the detective charged with tracking ‘V’ down and apprehending him before his one year deadline expires.

Though a bit slow in spots, the movie is anything but dull, and I found myself absolutely unable to take my eyes off the screen. There are some amazing visuals, such as the High Chancellor himself, who we only ever see as a talking head on a giant screen. I thought to myself “No one does fascism like the Brits!”.

Unfortunately, round about the midway point, the movie falls down a bit, and then half-drags itself to a fairly predictable conclusion. It’s too bad: if the central mystery had been a little bit more clever, it might have sustained the film all the way to the end.

Definitely worth a look, if you can stomach things like bodies being tossed into mass graves, (it’s a bit graphic at times…).

Travel05 Apr 2006

In which Ian and his Dad visits many airports.

The problem with living in the Maritimes is that in order to go anywhere good you have to do a lot of redundant flying. For example: the first leg of our trip to Greece was flying 90 minutes to Montreal, which is precisely the wrong direction.

In Montreal we ate a sandwiches prepared by a very unenthusiastic girl manning an airport food stall, and then hopped on another plane, this time heading east to London England, which of course means we flew right past Halifax again. This flight began on Sunday evening and ended the following morning. The “night” you experience during an eastward transatlantic flight is a very abbreviated night, since you’re headed towards the sun at 800 km/h. If you sleep, you don’t sleep for very long.

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News03 Apr 2006

There’s snow all over the place in St. John’s Newfoundland. Not exactly the first thing you want to see when you set foot in your own country again.

Fredericton, is, happily, devoid of water in the solid form. It’s not 20 degrees and sunny like Iraklio though…

I’ll post something about my adventures a little later.