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An evening in snow

The beginning of a snow storm is obviously a very sensible time to head out into the city for a short evening. Large, hard-edged flakes swirled around me as I left home, spiral nebulae which scattered their stars across the sidewalk. They hurt when they caught in my eyes, but the call of pad thai and a yearning to just be out of the house for a change was too great too ignore. Ban Vanipha might be closed on Sundays, but Urban Thai was still open.

I have a fair amount of sympathy for new waitstaff, but that sympathy wanders off the more and more it seems to me that incompetence is standing between me and any chance of food. My timing was admittedly bad. I arrived with a group of twenty or so were leaving, two-thirds of the restaurant's table space departing all at once. They were bundled up; so was I, although I took off my shawl and started to unbundle.

The host thought i was with them. I explained I wasn't, I'd only just arrived. She misunderstood, and tried to give me a bill, asking if I'd signed it yet. Then she offered me a different bill instead. I hadn't eaten yet. She slowly clued in. "Would you like to place a takeout order?" I really didn't want to - I wanted to eat there. Eventually, she seated me.

Happily, my actual waitress was extremely competent, when she arrived and saved my drink from near-certain oblivion. The experienced staff explained what dishes were which to the host. I ate my salad.

Then the host came over and asked if I'd like anything else. "I'm waiting for my next course", I replied. She left to talk to the newly-arrived waiter who was eating dinner. He promptly got up, dashed to the cash register, and brought me my bill. "I'm waiting for my next course." I told him. He apologized. From there, it was finally smooth sailing. At the end, I had the delight of having my waitress happily gush about what a wonderful customer I'd been, the least work all night in a hectic evening. I went away content, back into the swirl of glitter gusting sideways through the night.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
niall_
Feb. 22nd, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC)
I am getting very hungry simply reading your entries. And me starting to eat less (and better) to lose weight! Willpower, willpower... :) Though I may give a pass of the Urban Thai on my next trip...

Um, hello! I found your blog from your website's list of things to Find, because I was looking for places where I could have our small Ottawa convention listed, and this was a possible recommendation. Of course, a good perusal shows it wouldn't work as they are things you personally know about. Even if one of your friends is our writer guest this year. :)

I was quite interested in your reviews of High Teas around Toronto. A quick search shows extremely few local ones to try, with nothing standing out other than the possibly-overpriced Château Laurier Fairmont hotel. I think with sheer size Toronto gives more choices, despite the obvious Britishness of Ottawa.
owlfish
Feb. 22nd, 2005 09:33 pm (UTC)
If you were really gung-ho about advertising your con, you'd've not only told me which con it was, and which of my friends is your guest writer this year, you'd have given me a sales pitch as to why I should hype it to all of my friends. My webpages are undermaintained (I'm not going to be making all the much-needed changed until after I submit my dissertation), but my weblog is not, and I have a decent enough audience that it might be worth something to write up the con for that. (Now that I've poked around, I know you must mean papersky and C-ACE.)

High Tea is a very colonial thing, and a very large hotel thing, by and large. There are smaller places which serve them - the odd specialty tea shop will both, but most won't bother. I've been told that the world's best high teas are in the UK at all - they're in Hong Kong and Singapore, and at the grande dame-type hotels. The Chateau Laurier does indeed advertise high tea on Sundays in Ottawa. The Billings Estate Museum advertises it for Wed-Fri and Sun, summers only. Toronto may look like it has quite a few, but I only know of 5 around the city so far which serve it on a regular basis, so Ottawa's not as far different as it may look. We probably have more specialty tea stores, but most don't do high tea.
niall_
Feb. 22nd, 2005 10:23 pm (UTC)
I try not to be pushy on my first post on someone else's journal - I would find it terribly gauche to do so in a public forum. Had it been an email, it would have been more detailed. :) Yes, those are the guest and the con in question, more geared towards creative types in several fandoms. "Bridging the gap" is my goal, as I'm part of several of these mini-fandoms and few talk to any of the others, with some skills that could be useful to all. It's done by sheer numbers in the big cons, but we try to focus on it in a really small atmosphere.

Yes, you found the ones I did - Billings Estate is a possibility, but they don't open until mid-may, and the Chateau Laurier starts at $32 plus 30%. Just because it has a nice decor doesn't mean the tea will be good, as you yourself found out. There's a tiny place in Chelsea called Gerry and Isobel's that also does high tea during the week, but it's not quite as easy to get to for someone like me without a car... We do have specialty tea stores, especially the Teak Kozy/The Tea Store (not sure which is the real name) in the Byward Market Building, heart of tourist city. A friend who knows his teas well (British family located in BC) has spoken highly of it when he visited. We're thankfully not completely devoid, at least.

This gives us one High Tea a few days a week for half of the year, one High Tea in a high-class (and high-price) hotel, and one Hith Tea out in the country. No two even remotely similar, I would guess, which isn't a bad thing.
owlfish
Feb. 22nd, 2005 10:39 pm (UTC)
Your attitude towards advertising is very judicious, and I appreciate the respect it shows of other peoples' spaces. I still think it wouldn't have been too push to mention which con it was, however, given you were already alluding to it. But no matter.

I only looked very superficially at the webpage, but the name of the con left me with the impression it was a media con. I suppose the guest implies otherwise, as does your description of it emphasizing an audience of creative types. What kinds of fandoms are you involving in particular?

If you're willing to venture further afield, there's also high tea at the Mackenzie-King estate. Also, these places might do them (found ):
The Tea Party [Tea room and merchant]
119 York Street; 613-562-0352

Nectar Fine Teas [Tea merchant]
1250 Wellington Street; 613-759-8327
niall_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 05:04 am (UTC)
A media con? Hmm. How so? I'm curious, as it seems we are battling a constant struggle against some form of miscast image; getting feedback from a complete outsider as yourself could help in identifying how to better identify ourselves. Names are indeed important. (I didn't choose it, I'm just trying to make the best of it.) I personally have been trying to gather people from SF, fantasy, anime and the anthro fandoms to get together - they have more in common at their core than some like to think.
owlfish
Feb. 23rd, 2005 05:36 am (UTC)
The name is superficially very generic, the sort of non-entity of a name which HobbyStar uses in its big local commercial and media cons. (Canadian National Expo, Canadian National Comic Book Expo) The use of the words "Canadian" and "Expo" in the same title trigger these associations for me, and I think big - generic - commercial - media. Most cons have names with more personality. There well may be plenty of cons with equally anonymous-sounding names out there, but if I've been hearing about them, they've left no imprint in my memory.

What exactly is anthro fandom, anyways? The more I think about it, the less I'm sure I know.
niall_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback on the name. The original creator of the con wanted something that was inclusive and open-ended enough, but which attracted misunderstandings. I've been trying to just use the acronym as much as possible and drop any expansion title.

Hmm, how to answer this... Let's go with another angle: what is Speculative Fiction fandom? People who have an interest in SpecFic. But is it all of them, or just those who have enough of an interest to organise themselves and talk about it in some fashion with like-minded people? And what is SpecFic itself? Those last two questions bring almost as many asnwers as there are fans, which neatly closes the loop. Even worse when you ask about Science Fiction or Fantasy! So definitions are hard to come by.

Anthro, short for anthropomorphic ("non-human entity given human attributes"), is a bit of a catch-all for a subset of SF&F works dealing with, mostly, animals, but a few aliens as well, and branching out in sub- and sub-sub-genres as years go by; kinda like the fracturisation of magazines into ever-more specialised and cliquish topics. It's sometimes obsessed with making its own works more than talking about a common set of works, and quality varies wildly, but the inventiveness at its core is sometimes a marvel to behold. Some costumers, for example, have done Worldcon- and CostumeCon-quality pieces and presentations.

Yes, there's the few oddballs who get talked about a lot because they're visible, but most new fandoms have to weather this period. Not too long ago, it was "common knowledge" that anyone knowing anything about computers or comic books had to be male, overweight, single with poor hygiene and social skills, only because the few who were were the most annoyingly visible. The normal ones simply didn't make a fuss or needed constant attention, so they went unnoticed. Anime fandom is getting out of its own set of "common knowledge" about its fans, for another example.

Was this illuminating or just confusing, as I often am? :)
owlfish
Feb. 23rd, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC)
So anthro is inclusive of fuzzy fandom, but encompasses more than that - especially since iguanas and aliens would be literally left out otherwise.

You were rather confusing, but happily I already knew what you were talking about - I just hadn't realized what the term for it was.
niall_
Feb. 23rd, 2005 10:00 pm (UTC)
It's more or less the same, but some of us actually have a life outside the fandom and can recognise links to other things. Not to mention be part of more than one fandom at a time quite happily. :)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )