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French Food by teewee

A few photos up from our french food excusion for ms. sadd3j’s birthday..
each person had a prixfix with a different entree and we shared mussles avec frites…because what better compliments mussles than fries with mayo.. good food, good wine (malbec from argentina), good times!

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Aftermath.. by sadd3j

Once we learned that none of them are available at LCBO..

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Billy Elliot – Seattle, March 31, 2011 by YFA

Billy Elliot

I went to see the touring production of Billy Elliot at the Paramount last night with a certain level of expectation. For one, Billy Elliot is the 2009 Tony Award winner for Best Musical (total of 10 Tony Awards). Two, music is by Elton John. Three, it is highly recommended by my fellow musical-watcher here in Seattle (you know who). So I went in expecting awesomeness.

The backdrop of the story is the 1984 coal miner’s strike in UK, which is not something I’m horribly familiar with – although I’m somewhat familiar with Margaret Thatcher and her governing policies. In that sense, the theme of class warfare lightly woven through the musical is interesting to me. On the other hand, since the musical is set in Northern England, the accent is quite extreme – I never realized there’s the British accent and then there’s the British accent before, to a point that in the musical the British made fun of each other’s accents (I guess it is not too absurd – Americans make fun of each other’s accents too).

The main plot of the story deals with a young teenager (Billy) who strives to be a ballet dancer. So naturally there’s a lot of dancing involved in this musical – a LOT of dancing, from ballet to tap dancing. The choreography is definitely the best and most notable part of the musical. The individual dancing sequences by Billy as well as the bigger ensemble song and dance are equally entertaining and enjoyable. In fact the dancing is so physically demanding and injury prone, this touring company features 4 “Billy’s” that rotate throughout the week. (So chances are if you go and rewatch the show, you’ll get a different Billy. Oh and one of them is Asian, though I didn’t get him). Outside of the choreography, the set design is quite elaborate and creative as well.

However, the strength of the dance is also its weakness I feel like. The musical is so dance centric that I feel like the dance numbers drive the plot and character development rather than the music (it is a musical and not a “dancical” after all). Oftentimes the characters express their emotions through the dance rather than music. The music is above average but nothing super outstanding, and there weren’t a lot of songs either (I think ~14 songs across both acts). The actors were definitely cast for their dance abilities rather than the vocal skills, and especially for the numbers where they sing and dance at the same time (admittedly a challenging feat) the vocal weakness really shows. The plot is also pretty straightforward and for whatever reason, not something I associate well with and hence I didn’t find it super emotional.

All in all, not a bad musical, just not my cup of tea I guess. 3.5 TP rolls for me:

P.S. There should be a current production of this playing in Toronto’s Canon Theatre right now.
P.P.S I think “Next to Normal” definitely made 5 star for me – a few of its songs were stuck in my head on my recent travels – hallmark of a good musical!


Awesome iPad 2 Unboxing (HD) by teewee


First Impressions: Audioengine A5 by sadd3j

So it’s been a long time coming but I finally made the jump to replace the Klipsch Promedia 4.1s that I bought sometime between 2000-2002, paying somewhere in the ballpark of $600 at the time and having to go to an actual audio store. Staying true to that vein, pretty much the only store in the GTA which carries Audioengine is Computer Systems Centre. I actually found the brand and these speakers a few months ago but the price (CAD$349 at Canada Computers, $359 at CSC) and not wanting to trek down to CSC to try them out deterred me.

Well now that I work near CSC and in light of recent employment events, I decided to indulge a little bit. Due to streetcar traffic I ended up walking there (15 minute walk) and it was absolutely frigid. Once I got there, I plugged my iPhone in and tried out a few choice tunes including and not limited to: Sound of Silence, Coachella, Your Latest Trick and Sultans of Swing. The speakers were placed a little high in the store and the environment in general wasn’t ideal for critical listening. I have to admit I wasn’t really wowed on first listen. I could tell they were on par with the Klipsch, but didn’t sound any better. After a good 25 minutes of listening, I was satisfied and so picked them up. Partially persuaded by the long trek there in the cold.

An hour later when I got home, I began the unbox!

The ugliest box ever. Straight out of China.

Guest unboxer!

Nicely bagged and wrapped. They’re actually upside down in this photo. A felt layer on the bottom of each speaker to help with isolation and reduce vibrations etc.

Ta da! Can’t judge a speaker by it’s box; it’s a very solid, nicely finished speaker in a satin black.

The first thing I noticed is that they’re too big for my desk and because they’re so deep, you’re definitely in front of the ideal soundstage, but it’s tolerable. I can’t point them in too much due to my weird desk, so I may look into finally replacing what was supposed to be a temporary table top.

I’ve been playing a variety of music through it over the course of the evening, from Broadway soundtracks to Erin Bode to Starfield to Keith Jarrett. It sounds far better now than in the store.. I’m also listening at a more reasonable level and that may have something to do with it. These speakers are *extremely* musical. They don’t have the same oomph of the Klipsch but that was typically wanted in games and movies and not so much in music. I can finally agree with the other reviews I’ve read and say that the A5s pack more than enough bass for music.

One thing that happens often with a 2.1 computer system is that when you listen at extremely low levels (late night) there’s an obvious separation between the (typically) 3-4″ satellites and the subwoofer. One advantage for the A5s is that even at low levels, the bass is still present and mixes smoothly. I’ve not tried pushing them too loud since it’s late, but at comfortable volumes for near-field listening, the A5s are really outstanding and very full sounding.

I was deciding between the M-Audio BX5a’s and these and while I still haven’t listened to the BX5a’s, I definitely don’t regret picking up the A5’s. Reviews/comparisons for the BX5a say that it’s extremely light on bass and much less forgiving (as they should be, being monitors) and so including the cost of a sub, getting the BX5a’s would cost far more than a pair of A5s. I did listen to a pair of AV40s that JV lent to me and while they were pretty adequate for near-field use, they just didn’t do it for me.

Anyhow.. to end my rambling, very happy with the purchase (as non gadgety as speakers are) and now it’s only a matter of them lasting as long as the Klipsch did! Will try games and movies soon.


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