Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 15: Cuban Sandwiches are Delicious

So, it turns out that Cape Coral is where old people go to die.

I don't really have anything to add to that statement, just something that I noticed and figured I would share that.



The City of Angels.

We were going back to Miami. (Actually, most of us hadn't been.)

The morning started early as we left Cape Snore-al (it's boring, get it?!?!?) and drove on the interstate.

We eschewed the use of the highway to get to downtown and instead decided to drive through the city streets from the outskirts near the airport until we reached our first stop of the day, The Bal Moral Shoppes. The Mal Boral Shoppes is basically where people with too much money divest themselves of some of it in the search for designer label clothing.

There was a dress that we saw on a rack, not much but a few wisps of sparkling cloth. It's price tag?



Plus tax. Oh, but there was a sale. 33% off.


We ate at one of the cafes in the mall. It was there that I first tasted a Cuban sandwhich. I don't know how authentic it was, but it was delicious.

Ham and Pork on crispy cuban bread with pickles and sauce. It was very delicious. I would have ordered a second, but it was $11.

After that, Derrick and myself left Clovis and Adam to the fancy pants mall and decided to go for a drive to Miami beach.

It was a bit of a cloudy day in Miami, but as we arrived at the beach it started to clear up. We stood in the water and stared at the ocean for a bit. After about 20 minutes we figured it was still kind a cloudy and the beach was deserted (minus two old ladies), so we bailed and drove around looking for a place to eat dinner a bit later.

Along the way back to the Mall, we noticed that we were using our knowledge of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to help us get around Miami. That game was set in a fictionalized version of Miami, and we were shocked to see how accurate the game portrayed the real city.

We drove past the alleyway where you get missions from some sketchy guy near the start, we saw the part of the city where your first save point was, stuff like that.

Good times.


An odd thing we saw at the Bal Moral Shoppes. Well, not odd, but something I'd only heard about, and it was cool.

Walking around the mall at a very leisurely and provocative pace was a model wearing a ONE BILLION DOLLAR (not real figures) Designer Dress. This was her job, to walk around in it and show it off. She made slow laps around the second level, first in a coral pink dress, the second in a lime green dress with a fur mantle.

She was about nine feet tall and weighed approx. eleven pounds.

A stunning sight to see, but I hadn't thought we were in a place that would do that sort of thing.


Dinner was a bit of a trial, a long trek, a journey to a mythical place that A) serves food that doesn't suck and B) Does not cost $100 per person.

We decided to hit up the part of Miami where you stay in a hotel at the beginning of Vice City after you see your cousin and cohorts murdered. We actually pretty much found the exact hotel and decided to find a place to eat nearby.

I must warn you, do not go to Miami beach and expect to eat food at one of the hotels along there without knowing the following:

ONE) All of the hosts and hostesses along the strip of hotels are vipers and hucksters (Thank you Clovis for that one). Walking along the strip is like walking through a meat grinder where every single one of the establishments are REALLY FUCKING KEEN to get your business.

The first one we walked past said that if we stayed at his place he would give us a free round of drinks, then he gave us a little card with all the menu options. I was really jonesing for another Cuban sandwhich, and saw one on the menu for a reasonable price.

We decided to check out a few more places before settling one, and the Host of the place told us that he would give EACH of us FOUR drinks on the house. For a moment I thought that maybe this was a good deal, but then I realized that something was wrong if 16 alcoholic beverages were going to be given out to us for free.

We left, but deja vu overwhelmed us as the exact same thing happened at all of the restaurants along the strip.

They must have been hurting for customers.

Oh, that's it. There is no second thing.


We found a sushi place one street over, not on the strip. The sushi was pretty good, cheap, and we ate our fill.

On the drive home we stopped at McDonalds for ice cream.

A good day :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 14: Baby Back Ribs

On Monday, there wasn't a whole lot to what we did.

We swam. We watched movies.

We ate at Chilli's, which in a sad way was one of the better meals we've had down here so far.

It was the first rainy day that we really had, which is a good thing to have happen in the second week.

A package from Amazon arrived with a $4 mouse for me to use with my laptop.


Oh yeah, Derrick set the BBQ on fire for a bit while making sausages.

Just a little grease fire, but still shocking to see through the patio window as I am playing a video game.

Anyways, relaxing was good. More updates to come.


Monday, November 28, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 13-and-a-Half: Story Time!!

Story by myself, Entitled "Whoopsie Doopsie Doo, I Killed You."

I wrote this in 2 hours and 13 minutes, from the start of when I sat down with a vague plot and two character names until I finished the final sentence. I started the exercise with ten minutes of plot brainstorming, an outline of the events, and then began writing.
No editing has taken place to the story since I finished the last keystroke when I wrote it.
It is probable that this needs some editing, but I do like it. With that in mind, enjoy.

Vanessa stood as her friend sat down on the white large black marble floor. She watched coldly as Stephanie hunched over with her forehead on the ground and vomited her entire stomach contents on her dark wool skirt and black stockings.
The pale young man behind the counter stood staring in bewilderment for a second at the mess creating itself in the middle of his clean floor. After a few seconds he remembered himself and rushed around the formica countertop to kneel beside the sick woman.
Clutching Stephanie's purse, Vanessa turned and stepped out of the tiny coffee shop. Her heels clicked on the worn beige tiles that made up the floor of the subway station and, not 30 seconds after her friend collapsed on the floor, making no breathing sounds, Vanessa had disappeared into the warm rainy lights of the dark city.

“Do you remember that party,” Stephanie said viciously, “the one on the last day of freshman year?”
“Of course I fucking remember that party,” Vanessa spat back at her.
“Well, I have a few dark spots from that night. I remember doing shots with you early in the night. There was jello shots and then some other things happened, but the one thing that I do remember very clearly is being in the hot tub with Franklin.”
Vanessa's eyes flashed with anger.
“Yeah, we were all along. It was the hot tub on the porch of the master bedroom. It didn't even take that long before he was complaining about you. 'Oh, Vanessa? She can be a real stuck up bitch sometimes,'” Stephanie impersonated Franklin with a flourished, over-emphasizing tone. “'Sometimes I wish that her and I had never gotten together.'”
“Shut up,” Vanessa hissed. She looked quickly around the small, empty coffee shop and over to the barista behind the counter, but her had not noticed anything. He was reading a fashion magazine with some young thing on the cover. Dark hair and a pink ribbon wrapped tightly around her throat.
'Oh how I wish I had a ribbon wrapped around Stephanie's throat,' thought Vanessa.
Stephanie was continuing her story about Franklin in her cruel voice as if Vanessa had never said anything. She seemed to delight in twisting every word as if they were knives in Vanessa's side.
“I spent the night with him. We spent hours and hours just fuc-”
Vanessa grabbed Stephanie by the wrist, pressing her long red fingernails into the tendons in Stephanie's carpel tunnel. Stephanie was cut-off mid sentence, yelping in pain.
For the first time she noted the coldness in Vanessa's eyes as Vanessa glared at her from under her short black bangs, over the top of her delicate glasses.
“You know, I actually knew about,” Vanessa said, pressing harder and encouraging another sigh of pain out of Stephanie, whose expression of anger had been replaced with one of fear. “I knew all about you and Franklin. That's actually one of the reasons that I was happy to take this assignment.”
Stephanie tried to pull back on her wrist, but Vanessa dug her nails in deeper. A small trickle of blood splashed against the wooden tabletop and leaving a few speckles on the folder file that Stephanie had in front of her.
Vanessa put a finger to her lips and shushed Stephanie gently.
“Now now, we wouldn't want our host to hear us,” she said, looking at the bored college student behind the espresso machine. “It was icing on the cake, actually. I was so angry at you when I walked in on you and Franklin in that hot tub. You were on top of him and it took everything I had not to run over and throw you off of that balcony.”
“You see, Stephanie, that day I made a vow, and the vow was this: 'I am going to kill her.' Her meaning you, Stephanie.”
Stephanie was frozen, blood slowly oozing out from her wrist as Vanessa twisted it backwards, all the while keeping her nails pushing further and further into the nerves in Stephanie's wrist.
“I never did see you after that. I mean, it was summer time and I ended up going away for the next seven years. Do you want to know where I went?”
“Please let go-” Stephanie stammered.
“Nope, that's not where I went. Actually, I went overseas. There was a recruiting program, and I had caught their eye. It turns out that they were very interested in me.”
“What- What do you mean?”
“Well, I was Romania, staying with my family for a few months over the summer. The group was... as I had said, interested. In me specifically.”
Vanessa moved her mouth in such a way as to resemble a smile, but there was not a shred of mirth or happiness found there.
“I won't say much about the first few years, because really it's not becoming of a lady to talk about that kind of place in polite company. It wasn't a good place, and they did not treat me kindly. I have scars from the first few times I tried to escape,” Vanessa sighed. “At one point they did push me too far, though.”
“That's when they noticed something else about me, Stephanie. I wanted to survive. Do you want to?”
Stephanie made to reach into her purse. Vanessa yanked her wrist to the side.
“What are you looking in there for, Steph? Your gun? When you were in the bathroom I stole it just in case you made a dumb move.”
Stephanie kicked out with the sharp heel of her shoe, aiming for Vanessa's instep, at the same time yanking her torso backwards in order to break Vanessa's grip.
The pale man behind the counter remained oblivious, listening to his headphones.
Vanessa let go as Stephanie pulled back, leaving her own momentum carrying her off balance, making her surprise move useless.
In a split second Vanessa had pulled out the small matte black pistol that had once resided in Stephanie's purse.
“It doesn't matter, really, Stephanie, you trying that. Let me finish the story though, before we settle up our 'account' so to speak.”
“They know I am here,” Stephanie said, putting pressure on the wound on her wrist to stop the bleeding.
“No they don't. You may be the aide to the Prime Minister, but they aren't following your every movement. And by the time you don't show up for work tomorrow, I will be long gone. Now, as I was saying, when I was noticed for a second time by the group I currently work for, it was because they found me in a room with two dead and one blind man, covered in blood and a bootknife in my hand. That's when they decided that maybe I could be of use to them in other ways.”
Vanessa leaned in close across the small circular table and whispered in Stephanie's ear.
“You're not my first, you know.”
Vanessa pushed the barrel of the gun into Stephanie's abdomen.
“Bang,” she whispered.
Vanessa leaned back and checked up once more on the clueless dude, now counting muffins behind the counter.
“It doesn't matter. I know you, and of course, just like in the old days, you ordered the exact same thing every time. A cappuccino, it takes a few minutes to make, and while you were in the bathroom I slipped just a taste of cyanide in your drink.”
Stephanie's eyes widened in realization. “You fucking-” she gasped as she flung herself back from the table and out of the chair.
Vanessa watched as she made it partway across the tiled floor before she stopped, clutching her stomach. Stephanie teetered as if on the brink of stepping on to a train bound for parts unknown, before one of her heels twisted underneath her and she collapsed.

The lights in the concrete ceiling swung ever so slightly as the vibrations from another subway train shook the minuscule coffee shop gently.
“That could get irritating,” Vanessa said with a smile, “but I guess it's lucky that we don't work here!”
Stephanie smiled back.
“You may not work here, Vanessa, but sometimes I feel that I do. I come in here usually every day before and after work. I am thinking of asking my boss for a raise, just so I can help pay for the coffee's that I get here.”
Stephanie sat down on one side of the small wooden table, Vanessa on the other.
“Would your boss do that?”
Stephanie laughed a bit, to herself more than anything.
“Well, he's a nice guy, but a bit hair brained. I suppose it's to be expected, the President has been giving him a lot of hassle over this Conduction bill they've been trying to get passed into law. Either way, he is also a big connoisseur of coffee, so I suppose the case could be made to him.”
“You should do it! Even if you don't spend the money on coffee, it's always nice to have a bit of extra cash around, if you can find the time to spend it.
“I guess.”
There was an awkward pause as Vanessa sipped her coffee and Stephanie looked to the barista who was going through the process of still making hers.
“So what about you?” Stephanie asked. “What are you up to these days?”
“Oh, you know, just working on a bit of- well, consulting is a good way of putting it. I'm just in town on a bit of business.”
“You travel a lot, I didn't know.”
“All over. Last week I was in Brussels, but the food was bad and the company- unwelcoming.”
“I wish that I had a chance to travel, I can barely see the sun shine here. Maybe one day I can make it down to the south, my 'Nan has a bit of a cottage down there.”
“A bit of a cottage? That sounds nice. Is it right on the sea?”
“Oh yes. I've had a weekends of fun and games down there, but with the new job and everything I haven't been able to get away for the last 18 months.”
Vanessa nodded in commiseration.
“No rest for the wicked, I suppose.”
Another pause as the two of them tried to bridge the gap that lay before them.
Stephanie watched the barista and Vanessa took a good look at her.
Her blond hair, long in high school and in freshman year was now cut short in the popular fashion that was going around. Stephanie had put on a few pounds since then as well, but it only served to round off her sharp features and give her a more wholesome, grown up look.
The barista rattled the espresso machine and twisted and pulled some of the dozens of shiny brass levers and knobs that formed the shiny coffee denizens countenance. Steam hissed out of somewhere on the machine.
Stephanie excused herself to the bathroom for a moment while waiting for her coffee.
Another train rumbled by and shook the small coffee shop again.
The barista finished his work with the brass beast and placed the cappuccino on the table across from Vanessa before retreating behind the counter and picking up something to read.
Vanessa pulled from the manila envelop a small vial of white powder.
The cappuccino had a flower pattern of steamed milk poured into the foam, the creamy brown and foamy white mixing along the edges and creating a very pretty marbled effect.
Vanessa sprinkled the white powder on top as if icing sugar. The foam flattened and began to break apart.
Stephanie returned from the bathroom, buttoning up her pea coat as she walked back over to the table.
“So,” said Stephanie, “how about the cinema on tuesday? I have a free night that day, perhaps we could go and see a film together?”
“That sounds lovely. What films have come out?”
“I don't really follow, but I am sure that we could see something.”
Stephanie sipped her cappuccino and Vanessa bared her white teeth in a somewhat predatory smile.
“Okay. It's a date.”
“A date?”
Vanessa tilted her head
“A plan, then.”
Stephanie nodded and sipped her drink again. Vanessa did the same and once again the awkwardness of two people who haven't seen each other in quite some time was thick.
Especially that one of them had just poisoned the other.
“So what ever became of you and Alex?” Vanessa started.
“Alex? Oh, I haven't seen him since-- a long time ago? I think the summer of freshman year.”
“But you two were so in love, weren't you?”
“Oh, I thought that we were at the time,” Stephanie said, shaking her head. “I think that he was in love with me, but I was looking for someone a bit more- exciting.”
“Oh, yes. You remember how I was back then. Though now I've settled down a bit, my husband actually works in the office across the hall from me. A boring chap actually, but we still get up to a bit of fun now and then.”
“You're married? I hadn't heard.”
“Oh, yes, for three years now. He have a flat not too far from the city centre.”
“My- well, congratulations.”
Vanessa thought back to the details inside the Manila envelope. It hadn't contained any mention of a family.
“Hopefully,” Vanessa added, “this one lasts a bit longer than Alex did.”
Stephanie's smile faltered at these words.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, you were a bit of a wild child if I remember correctly.”
A 'wild child?'”
“You know what I mean, Steph, it was barely a week that went by that you didn't have some new young thing on your arm, and that's even when you were dating Alex. He never knew because he was always at his studio painting.”
“I never did anything with those other-”
Vanessa nodded in mock agreement.
“Of course you didn't,” Vanessa cooed.
Stephanie's cheeks flushed red and she shoved across the table, splashing some on one of the file folders that she had set in front of her. She look around at the empty coffee shop to ensure that no one had seen her embarrassment.
The coffee shop was still empty, save for the barista reading his magazine.

The subway train sped along the tunnel, lights flickering past quickly. The evening train had very few people on it, and Stephanie was sitting alone at the front end of the second car.
Every few seconds the lights in the car would flicker, but Stephanie's attention was on her cellular in her hands.
She saw that she had two messages.
The first was from her friend, Vanessa, saying that she was going to meet her at the Alperton Tube station, which is where Stephanie was headed.
The second was from her husband.
'Hun, I'll see you tonight. Make sure to bring those files home and don't stay out too late, you know I worry ;)' said the text message.
Stephanie smiled to herself and looked once more at her purse and the few file folders that she was carrying with her.
The new Conduction Bill that had been introduced was getting a lot of flak from some of the other parties in Parliament and Trenton, her husband was worried about some sort of political attack, but Stephanie didn't think so. She wasn't worried.
She checked in her purse once more for the two devices that she now always carried with her.
The first, a small Walther pistol, given to her by the Prime Minister himself not six months ago when she had become one of his chief aides.
“These are dangerous times,” The Prime Minster had said.
Indeed they were, thought Stephanie as she checked the second device.
About the size of two decks of cards was a black box with a red button and a metal disk where something was made to go.
Taking the black device out of her purse, she mated the peculiar pattern on her wedding ring to the design in the device and turned the metal disk until it clicked.
“One can never be too careful,” Stephanie muttered to herself. She placed the timed incendiary device back into her purse, the timer reset for another 60 minutes. It nestled in her large purse beside the sensitive computer drives that she had brought home with her along with the paper files.
The conductor called out the next stop and Stephanie collected her things.
“Alperton Station, Alperton Station,” said the conductor.
As the train slowed to a stop Stephanie saw her old friend about thirty metres away, sitting on a red plastic bench on the platform. Her hair was the same, dark and short, messy as if she had just gotten out of bed. She seemed thinner and taller than Stephanie had last seen, dressed in a pair smart leather boots and fashionable red leather coat with black buttons.
Stephani stepped off the train and began walking to her sitting friend.
Vanessa pulled a yellow envelope from her purse and opened it, taking something out and looking at it. Even though Stephanie was relatively far away she could see that her friend was concerned for a moment.
'I wonder what that is about,' thought Stephanie, 'I'll be sure to ask her about it after coffee.'
“Vanessa!” she called to her friend across the deserted tube station.
Vanessa looked up and the two of them waved,
'Old friends,' thought Stephanie as she walked briskly across the white tile, 'some people never change.'

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 13: Blu Hard

The water down here in Florida is as hard as concrete; cleaning soap off of yourself is a Herculean task the likes of which only Ancient Greek story writer dudes could have invented. Kind of annoying, but I find it quite frustrating.

I thought about this as we were sitting at the table for the Sushi restaurant, Blu Sushi. The water in the bathroom fell off my hands seemingly without touching my skin as if my hands were an outcast to shy away from.

But I digress.

The sushi was quite good. I had a few maki rolls but my friends were a bit more adventurous, with Adam going for a couple of different things culminating with quail egg sushi, which he was quite delighted with. I was concerned with the cost of the sushi; limiting myself to just two maki rolls and a bowl of miso, my bill came to almost $20. Had I actually tried to eat myself to the point of being full, I think my bill could have hit at least $80 or so.

Who knew fish was so expensive? That said, it tasted good.


I wrote in my previous blog post that I had begun to write a story and I would post it here along with how long it took to write.

Well, here is how long it took to write: 2 hours, 13 minutes.

I don't know if I can post it here, which is kind of a shame. If you are interested in reading a backwards, espionage story that is only five or so pages long, you can contact me somehow and I can send it over. Or, I might give the story it's own post. We'll see.


I did a photoshoot with a model I met down here in Florida, Zelphia. I'm going to be posting some of the photos when I get a chance, so stay tuned. Thank you to Zelphia for modelling!


I Never Look Classy: Part 12: Vidja Games, Schmid-ma Games

Though the day before was Black Friday (an event we didn't participate in because we don't need any flat screen televisions) I was keen to pick up a video game to help while away some of my free time down here.

Some might say "why did you go all the way to Florida to play video games when you can do that at home!?" and to them I would say "Airport-shmairport!!" After I said that I would probably say "because at home I can't play video games while one entire wall of my house is open to the outside and there is a pleasant breeze coming in and also I'm drinking cheap, delicious micro-brew beer!"

At that point the person would be so taken aback that they would literally disappear.


During the nightly midnight swim Adam asked me "Okay, how long would it take you to write a 5 page story then?"

I replied "One Hour."

He said that he was surprised.

"I am surprised," said he.

Don't be, said I. I'll do it when I get out of the pool.

Getting out of the pool I sat here, at my laptop, and started a stop watch. I spent the first ten minutes writing out the plot ideas and then I got write into it. (Ha! WRITE INTO IT!!! GET IT?!??!?!?)

I find that it is quite easy to simply churn out a story of such a short length, and was sure that I could complete it in the hour allotted.

Unfortunately I was wrong, I did not make the five pages in one hour that I had allowed myself.

I did make 3.5 pages in One Hour, and promised myself to complete the story the morning following. When completed I will post the story, and the time of completion. Look to that on tomorrows post of "I Never Look Classy! A Florida Travelogue"

Good night.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 11: "Liquor," "Food" or "Blog Post"

Our day started early with a romp in the pool. Around lunch we decided to go try our luck at the local sandwich shoppes and happened upon a place near our local coffee shop, the Paradise Cafe. Two amongst our group, Clovis and Adam were ready to try the Reuben, and in their words it "did not disappoint."

At our local coffee shop near us, a Starbucks, there is a managerial type, a fashionable young lady that we have taken to calling Jodie Foster. Alternately Tina Faye, as she was wearing a pair of sunglasses that gave off that impression. She has been our barista a couple of times so far and makes quite the Decaf IceD Venti Americano (D.I.V.A.) that Derrick likes so very much.


Another cultural thing I have noticed is the number of businesses that label themselves simply by what they do, or sell. I've seen signs around for places such as "Liquor" and "Chiropractor."




Maybe there just aren't enough possible names for businesses to sustain all of the shops down here? I don't know.


For dinner we sought out a classier style of restaurant. We all wore our best, me in my suit coat, my compatriots in elegant sweaters and fine shirts. Our journey took us over the toll bridge to nearby Fort Myers and we ended up at what appeared to be a golf and country club.

Our server was named Shaye, or Shaie or something along those lines, I never did get the spelling, and she made quite the impression on us.

We had good beer, I had a good burger, and also lobster bisque is delicious (I might try making it while I am down here.)

We talked to Shae and asked her about the local area; in her words the area we were staying in is "just a bunch of houses full of old people." In my experience we are staying in just that, a retirement community on the beach. No young people at all.

The meal completed we paid our cheques, plastic for Clovis and Derrick, cash for Adam and myself. I left a generous tip and we exited.

Upon arrival at home we began talking of things to do for the evening. Adam said he wanted to hit up an ice cream parlour while looking through his wallet. It DAWNED ON HIM at that moment that there was something amiss.

"Dude..." he started. "I think that I left our waitress a 58 dollar tip."

We all stared at him with expressions of bemusement.

"Yup. I had a 100, and I left the 50 from the change with her by accident."

Oop. I guess Shaeye was pleased with our group that night!


Later in the evening we drove around looking for some sort of fast food, but it turns out that everything closes really early here. We ended up at a Wendy's with, it seemed, every other person in the entire city, trying to buy some Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers.

Midnight swim, burgs, and sleep. That was the day.


I Never Look Classy: Part 10: It Would Be Nice, But For the Abundance...


Or rather, American Thanksgiving I should say.

Nothing really prepared us for this day. In truth, it kind of took us by surprise, even though we were well aware that this day was coming.

We had, ourselves, already had Thanksgiving about 6 weeks previous; turkey, potatoes, pumpkin pie, and in the case of my family, kapusta, perogi and barczcz (we Polish).

It all started when we were in the grocery store the day before, buying beer. The nice cashier asked us if we were stocking up for Thanksgiving, we replied in the negative and that we had already had it earlier in the year, and that we were from Canada. A pleasant conversation followed, but at this point I looked up from our checkout lane, and as if seeing the world for the first time, I realized what sort of hell we had unwittingly stepped in to.

Everywhere around us were last minute shoppers with grocery carts fit to bursting with boxes of food, turkeys and alcohol. It was even a wonder that we had gotten to the cashier when we did, by some miracle we'd arrived at the cashier just as she returned from a break or something, because there was no wait.

Around us, that was not the case. I looked around, bewildered. On my way out of the store I took to the sunny sky and brushed off the incident.

Returning to the Thanksgiving itself, we didn't really do much to celebrate. I wrote a blog post, we swam, we drank, we watched "Sons of Anarchy" Season 2. Things were great.

Until about 4:30pm. As is our custom, every day we go for dinner, or lunch at a local eatery. It dawned on us that it was the wrong day to plan on finding an open restaurant.

With haste we made for the care, sure that there was at least one place that would be open, no matter the circumstances: McDonalds. Alas, our search for McDonalds for dinner was in naught: they all closed at 11am that morning.

It dawned on us that there was little to be done. We said "fuck that!" and drove around looking for food.

After about 30 minutes it dawned on us that we had but two choices. These choices dawned on us as being bad.

It dawned on us we had very little choices.

Option 1: Sketchy Sports Bar.

Option 2: Chinese All You Can Eat Bouffetorium.

Option 3: Starve and Go Back to the House and Eat Sandwiches or Something.

We, in our most dire need went for Option 2.


My favourite of the dishes served at the Empire Buffetorium (not to say I had any, but just the name alone strikes mirth into the hearts of men) was "HAM-FRIED RICE." For some reason it tickles me.

Adam had the line that summed up the meal: "It would be nice, but for the abundance..."

I was relatively happy with what I got for my $TenBux, but my compatriots were less enthused. We vowed on that day to not go to any more Chinese Bouffets.

Writing, reading, relaxing, it was all had that day. Rockin'.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 9: Italian Stallion

Apparantly five stars down here does not equal a great restaurant.

So far I have had a number of fine dining experiences at almost all the establishments we have gone to for food (save for Ichiban. ICHIBAN!!!!). This is not the case with my friends, but I have been content thus far.

Or at least until we ran into an Italian Restaurant yesterday.

I myself had a pretty good bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce. I'm sure that I could have made better tasting pasta back at my house, but the sauce was pretty good.  One thing that did concern me was the lack of knowledge of the ingredients to the food. One amongst our group has a serious food allergy but the staff could not recollect if there was dairy in the pizza dough.

Truth be told, the restaurant wasn't terrible. The service was a bit slow, but that is forgivable (also the wedding soup was amazing). My largest complaint is that I could have made better food at home, cheaper and without a whole lot of effort.

In the local area the restaurant was rated as five out of five stars. I wonder about that.

Rest of the day was reading, watching television and lounging by the pool.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 8: Thrift Seizure 2

The day opened up like the part of a movie trailer where there is a giant whooshing lead-up noise right on a scene change and then everything is silent afterwards.

The outlet malls beckoned to us once more and we were powerless to resist.

There is little to say about the Dealz found that day, save for they were numerous and very... Dealzy.

The trunk of our trusty steed was full to the brim with bags.

Also, after a satisfying lunch of pizza from an italian restaurante, we got gelato, which is also awesome.

Swimming in the pool, reading books into the night, arranging for pictures with models.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 7: Burg Notice

Made some burgers, swam in the pool. Watched some Sons of Anarchy and Burn Notice.

33 Degrees and sunny, Amaretto Sours and an afternoon nap.


Monday, November 21, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 6: Iguana Mia!

Mexican food and myself have never been the best of friends. Something always seemed "off" about the ingredients and flavours. Whenever we cooked "mexican" food at our house it was always an imitation of the authentic food which, in all honesty, I still love despite the fact it has very little to do with the authentic cuisine. I have since learned what the defect was in all of the Mexican food I had tried.


It might be the geographical location which precludes the best ingredients or the lack of cultural knowledge on how to cook the food properly, but it turns out that Mexican food is ten or twenty times better down here in Florida.

Twice we have eaten at a Mexican restaurant, twice I have been blown away by the food.

The most recent of these lunches was yesterday at Iguana Mia. If you are in the area I can't recommend the place strongly enough.

Aside from that its mostly been about watching Burn Notice, relaxing and drinking Amaretto Sours. Tomorrow we're going BACK TO THE FUTURE (where future is defined as the outlet malls) and might hit up the beach.

Meanwhiletime, Cheerio!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 5: Lord, Beard Me Strength

A Saturday. Nothing to do but lounge by the pool.

After a few days I decided to shave the beard. We have the stages between beard and clean shaven here. Please, leave your zingers after the tone.

Dinner was Korean food at Origami. Bookstore afterwards. Midnight swim. Amazing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Never Look Classy: Part 4: Thrift Seizure

The first full day of our stay in this humble mansion of ours came with a lack of anything important or significant happening. The sun came up, our eyes opened, we had showers.

Breakfasts were had, eggs were eaten, sleepy eyes were emptied of sand. Somewhere along the way decisions were made.

Outlet stores.

All of them.

Let the bodies hit the floor.


Let us take a moment to introduce the players, theDramatis personæ, if you will.

First, we have your narrator, myself, Dr. Erik Q Winchester, Photographizer extra-ordinare.

Second we have Derrick, a tall chap with a iron jaw and a zest for life. To describe him in a word, that word would be "Hard-Boiled."

Third, and kin to Derrick, is Clovis. His real name is a mystery to all but himself and those who gave him that name; in the minds of all others, he is a mystery. A slight man with a sharp wit, in a match of wits you would not be the odds on favourite.

Last, our man Adam, he with the soft spot for soft italian leather shoes and other finery. More on that in a moment.

Some names and locations may have been changed for reasons of hilarity.


The grey skies hung low, trapping the humidity close to my skin as we stepped from our chariot and entered the outdoor prominade that served as the beginning of the brick and mortar snake we were about to traverse, an obstacle course of Barginz and Sweet Sweet Dealz.

Our first stop was a Neil Gaiman's "Last Chance Repository" with ROCK-BOTTOM prices. Adam was on a quest for a Hugh Brauss shirt for under Two Hundred of These American Dollars.

Inside was his haven, a Field of Dreams. He found his Hugh Brauss
shirt for the low low price of $180. After a moment, I motioned for him to move in closely as to not cause commotion. Experienced at the "outlet gambit" I informed him that, because of a series of coloured dots, that shirt was actually 30% off of that price. 

Adam stepped back as if thunderstruck.

"So, this shirt is... only $126??" He asked, conspiratorially, checking around for any listeners in.

I nodded solemnly and turned back to a selection of leather wallets I was scoping out.

Adam seemed satisfied, but I later learned that something had overcome him. Something primal.

The stress on Adam was further compounded not ten minutes later when talking to a sales lady about some fine leather shoes he was eyeing. Normally SIX HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS they were on sale for aound $200. The sales lady, whose name is embedded in Adam's brain for all eternity (but I can't be bothered to get it, he's on the other side of the house), the sales lady informed Adam that, if he were to pay today and return just a few days later, on Tuesday... everything he ordered would have an additional 50% taken off the price.

At this point Adam had a Thrift Seizure. He twitched and babbled thanks at the sales lady and with his eyes aflame, fueled the a raging desire for DEALZ, he turned to us. The rest of us three were wary of the look, but supportive. 

Awesome. On sale for $899

When he walked out, he had $1500 of merchandise waiting to be picked up. I won't say the actual cost of the things he bought in REAL 'MERICAN DOLLARS but it was frighteningly low.


You hear that Ian?!?!? I got a NEW FUCKING WALLET. Take that!! :)


After that we got food at an awesome Mexican restaurant. We returned home with a box of cheap booze and mixed ourselves drinks and threw the football around in the pool. 

We are happy so far. I bid you adieu.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Never Look Classy: A Florida Travelogue: Part 3: Welcome to the Real World

The night passed uneventfully, the morning was a grim sight to wake up to. Darkness and shadow reigned the parking lot, clouds of rain swelling up in preperation for a miserable day.

6am at a hotel means only one thing: Continental breakfast. Bountiful feasts of mediocre bacon and eggs at some hotels, at other lodging establishments, slim servings of miniature muffins and bruised bananas. Our hotel was firmly established in the nutritional wasteland of the latter.

A goop dispenser sat beside a plethora of disposable cups, each destined to be filled with said goop for 20 seconds, emptied, and thrown out. This goop was poured into a greased mold and turned over, emerging with a hiss from the cast-iron contraption as a soft, rather warm and slightly wet waffle. This waffle, my waffle, my creation, upon being pried from the maw of the metal beast earned me praise from the nearby breakfast czar. While ensuring the meager supplies were constantly and competently replenished she allowed me the praise of a "That's a mightah fine waffle yew've got thar!"

My reply?

"I've had practice." Then I slathered the waffle with syrup and ate every last bite. It was delicious in a very warm, sugary way. Done with it, I vowed to myself to eat healthier for the rest of the trip.


The next few hours we talked about Will Smith, his hopes, his dreams and our impersonations of him grew ever wilder. This was kept up until one of us declared that we were in Sonic country, and that a Sonic burger would be a thing to try. In all honestly, it was myself, the narrator, Erik who suggested Sonic, my earlier vow thrown to the dogs like a scoundrel.

Upon locating a Sonic in the middle of a sun-blasted rural village rife with bail-bond and typing services, we realized that we had no concept of the strange device in front of us: A Drive-In Order Board.

The board was a menu, on it were pictures of food and advertisements for specials. One was peculiar in its unabashed gluttony. "Drink More Pie."

How many pies is a good number to drink? My thoughts: None. More than none is some, and some is just one to many for Number of Pies Drank.

We were flummoxed, unsure of how to proceed. Did we go inside? No, employees only. Did we wait? Nothing happened when we did. Moments passed. Three of us hopped out of the car to study the board more closely.

There was a Big Red Button, the kind used to launch missiles. There was no instructions on or around the button to indicate it's use. We touched the button, unsure if it should be pushed, but eventually ventured forth.

Quickly we ordered our food and it arrived a few minutes later. Our server was a delightful stereotype of a kind southern lady. She noted our trouble with the menu board, we detailed our origin story from Canada, the drive, and our confusion with the idea of a Drive In Eatery.

She said something then, "Welcome to the Real World."

Was this the real world?


We made a pact, we four, before even spending moment one in the US of A.

"If you meet a girl in Florida who does not say Cal-adge instead of College, you marry her."

So far we four gentle sirs remain single and unbetrothed.


Who is more famous? Don Pardi, or Matt Heyes? This conversation took up several hours of our ride. The answer? Nobody knows.

Also, Biscuit World is real. I was a kid when I came down last and recalled a place called Biscuit World that we drove past. All you can eat biscuits and gravy for NINETY NINE CENTS.


I shudder to think what corners were cut on the quality of the biscuits, the service, the establishment to make that a profitable business model.


Upon our arrival at the house we did rejoice. It is awesome, warm, has a pool and is all around pretty brilliant.

Great times were had this day. With that I bid you good night. More to come soon.

I Never Look Classy: A Florida Travelogue in 33 Parts: Part 2: Cross-Fire

"What are four twenty five year old guys doing going to Florida for a month? Don't you guys have jobs?" said the disgruntled border agent.

Hardly older than we in the car, the border official glared at us with such contempt; it was as if we had offended his sensibilities by daring to go to a fun place for a while for fun.

And make no mistake, he was AGAINST fun of and kind, in any form and especially not in HIS country.

Though he was originally clean-shaven, in my mind he begins to take on the aspects of a 40-year old man with a handle-bar moustache. The lore attributed to this caricature of a mean guard lives in a former coal town and drives an ugly old beater, has a small white-ish gray house with dirty aluminum siding. As Adam, one of my fellow travelers put it, "That is a man who only gets one day off every three weeks, and on that day his wife has him do 'errands.'"

We four were asked to stop off at the border crossing office and then, after a short conversation with an officer who had an amateur interest in linguistics, we were on our way!

Needless to say the rest of the 12 hour drive was punctuated with rehashings of the first border guards cartoonish monologue. As we told it again and again it morphed from being spoked by the guard to having the voice of Joe Pesci and, after a while, the voice of Matt Damon talking in a Bawstan accent.

We arrived at our destination, an express hotel on the damp outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina. We dropped our bags in the rooms and headed to a local eatery, not ten steps from le grande foyer of the hotel. The eatery was well known to the man behind the counter, our chill innkeeper.


Ichiban. That name will live on in the hearts of we four. Live on in our minds. Live in our minds and hearts and taunt us from the dark corners of our psyche.

This was a chinese buffetorium, a combination of a prison cafeteria and a low-class buffet.

While time and progress may have marched on for the rest of the world, Ichiban remained unchanged in the dark, dark depths of the early 90's renovation that formed it's armour, the red faux pleather seats slick with years of sweat and beer spills.

One of the "dishes" served by Ichiban was called "wheast." "Wheast." The little placard above it did not describe it's origin, and I did not ask for fear of the answer. It looked of a yorkshire pudding crossed with an apple fritter, and under the heat lamp it glowed. Or sweated. Near it was Italian style chicken. Onion rings. Pudding.

For $10 after a 12 hour drive, it was certainly something that hit a spot. Maybe not the spot, but for something to relieve our cravings it certainly took care of that with only a minimum impact to the total life span of the four gentle sirs who partook that night.

Good times were had by all. This blog post will likely be going up when we arrive in Florida to our house, if only because we don't have internet at the hotel. More will follow!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pictures of My Family & "I Never Look Classy: A Florida Travelogue In Thirty Three Parts: Part 1: Terminal Atrocity" And Then Also This is My 200th Blog Post!!! Woooo!

I was out with family a few days ago and I took a couple pictures of my Great Uncle John, Great Aunt Janet and my cousin Lucy. As well my dad and myself, which you saw above. Here are a couple of the pictures!


Regarding the other project that I've been working on, since the first time on the scale I have so far lost 5.2 pounds! Exercise pays off, so I'm going to be keeping it up while I'm away by hitting up the pool we have in our house. Status will updated on that as we go!


So here we are. Less than 12 hours before I leave for Florida. This is the first part of my travelogue detailing my month long journey down to the southern USA. We'll be leaving tomorrow at 7am and I'll be picturizing the entire process!

So pay attention to this blog to all my friends and family and you'll get to see how things are going!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day Three Breakdown

Here are some pictures from when Mel was on her jetski! And other people on jetskis too!

So this past few days I've been counting down to when I'd be starting up at the gym again. I'm making a serious effort to lose some weight. Right now I'm just sticking on the elliptical machine which has long been my favourite. After only three days I've noticed a big improvement in how long I can tolerate on the machine.

This is a segment of this blog that I am going to be continuing for the next little while. I think that at the end of the next six months I'll reveal what my starting weight was, and what my ending weight was, and what the results in between were.

Here we go.

Day 1: 2.1 miles in 40 minutes.

Day 2: 2.6 miles in 45 minutes.
Day 3: 2.9 miles in 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Zero and Zero

Here is a picture of my face which currently included an unkempt beard. This beard has an expiration date. Sometime next thursday, when I arrive in Florida, this beard will be GONE FOREVER. Or, for a while at least.

Zero and Zero. We'll see how it goes.

Minus One and No Change

It should be an interesting day. I'm going to be starting my travelogue with a nice self-portrait, my first since growing a beard. That will come a little tonight. Beards ahoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Minus Two and Unknown

I'm going to be heading down to Florida for a month or so and I leave in a couple of weeks! While I'm away this is going to function as sort of a travelogue so that people can see what I am up to while I am there. I'm probably going to be doing some photoshoots with local models in Florida as well, so keep your eyes peeled out for that too. Enjoy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Minus Three and Four Fourty One

"Foris Inamorata"

Here are a few new photos from a warm day at the beach with Mel!