Category Archives: Recollections

Things I Ate At The C.N.E. In 2020

This is a split image of three stunt foods prepared at home instead of eaten at the Canadian National Exhibition, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2020, COVID-19 Lockdown edition.

For those who aren’t the best at intuitive leaps, the headline “Things I Ate At The C.N.E. In 2020” is a lie. There was no Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto this year. It was waylaid, like pretty much every other good thing in the world, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was, however, a Canadian National Exhibition in the hearts of the Risky Fuel staff. Or, more specifically, the gastrointestinal tracts.

Based on a low-key dare from Sarah, I decided to attempt a number of Ex-inspired near-stunt foods in the hopes of recreating the magic of eating weird shit while wandering through a giant parking lot and getting accosted by carnies.

The guidelines for this experiment were reasonably simple: All food experiments would take place over the Labour Day long weekend, just like the actual C.N.E., and the things I made would attempt to replicate, or be inspired by actual stunt foods at the The Ex.

Two other things:
1) There’d be nothing deep-fried because it would stink up our apartment too much.
And 2), we’d attempt to make items that didn’t actually suck.
We also contemplated walking around in the sun for three hours straight to replicate the C.N.E. sunstroke effect, but were ultimately too lazy to follow through on that.

Here, then, are the things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2020 (COVID National Exhibition Edition):

Pickle Lemonade. This was based on a real drink that was available at 2019 edition of the Ex and featured standard store-bought lemonade, two ounces of pickle juice and a couple cocktail pickles. Beyond being a touch weird on the palette, this mostly ended up tasting like regular lemonade. 5.7 / 10

Double Wiener Cheese Curd Pretzel Hot Dog. This was mostly about trying to create a double wiener double entendre (which mostly failed) and make use of a pretzel bun that was much larger than I thought it was when I first put my two hands around it in the grocery store. There was a lot of bun — probably too much — and I had difficulty fitting it all into my mouth. 5.8 / 10

Baked Apple Wedge Cheesecake Cheese Curd Crumble. This was a creation built mostly by alliteration featuring baked apple wedges, disassembled bits of a vanilla cheesecake scored at Metro and pieces of cheese curd. It was… surprisingly OK. The apples could have been baked a little more to make them more broken down, but as a trio, they were all complimentary-ish. 6.2 / 10

Bacon-Wrapped Veggie Corn Dog. This perversion was inspired by the butt-stupid 50-50 ground beef/veggie meat substitute packages that have been appearing in grocery stores. I took an Yves Veggie Corn Dog, wrapped it in bacon, then baked the shit out it until the bacon was properly cooked. The result? Kinda good. I get that this was a silly combination meant mostly to irritate people, but the Yves corn dogs are reasonably good, and bacon is usually good, so the combination of the two of them ended up reasonably solid. 7.3 / 10

Boston Cream Donut Milkshake. In a normal Ex year, we’d have one of Fran’s ever-evolving mega-milkshakes (see Fran’s Blueberry Pie Milkshake, Fran’s PB&J Milkshake), which are usually some combination of a normal milkshake + a baked good of some sort. Inspired by both these shakes and our number one discovery from last year, the Cheesecake Factory General Custard Sundae, we went in on the mega-shake mash-up. This shake contained well-blendered Breyer’s Cremery Style Natural Vanilla Ice Cream, CT Bakery Mini Boston Cream Donuts, 2% milk and a topper of Kraft Cool Whip and Selection Chocolaty Sundae Topping. What resulted was remarkably good. The secret bonus here was that the shake ended up having clumps of tasty Boston Cream gloops that would randomly pop into your mouth, creating a bonus experience that elevated it beyond a normal shake. 7.3 / 10

Brisket Sandwich. Every year at the CNE we usually break down and have at least a couple “normal”-type things. We had some leftover brisket, some coleslaw, some crusty buns and some gouda, so… Brisket Sandwich. Add some barbecue sauce to taste and the result was something altogether fine. 7.2 / 10

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Tortilla Wrap. Last year we got tricked by the garbage pail liner that was the Snickle Dog, a hot dog and pickle wrapped in a deep-fried tortilla and covered with chocolate syrup. I tried to break that curse with the Peanut Butter Ice Cream Tortilla Wrap, a combination of Irresistible Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Hershey Kiss Cereal snuggled in a tortilla and covered in chocolate syrup. This did not work. Hershey Kiss Cereal appears to be nonsense, and the flavour of the tortillas and the peanut butter ice cream were just not complimentary. 5.1 / 10

Pickle Pizza. Inspired by a real CNE food item, this was normal cheese pizza with pickle slices on top. It was also fundamentally unnecessary and I question the smarts of anyone who paid real money at the Exhibition to have one of these slices. 5.2 / 10

Portuguese Custard Tart Milkshake. This was meant to be the grande finale of Canadian National Exhibit-ish weekend, a fancy-ass milkshake inspired by the Cheesecake Factory Sundae from last year and build similarly to the Boston Cream Shake, except using a superior pastry, the Portuguese Custard Tart. It was, however, slightly less than the Boston Cream Shake. The main reason being that the custard gloops just didn’t magically gloop in one’s mouth the same way the Boston Cream did. I’m not saying it was bad. It was still a hella solid milkshake, but it fell just short of its cousin. 7.2 / 10

Additional reading:

Things I ate at the CNE in 2019. Including the Snickle Dog and the Cheesecake Factory General Custard Sundae.

Things I didn’t eat at the CNE in 2018 because I boycotted to support unionized workers who were fighting The Man.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2017. Including Deep Fried Chicken Foot and Savory Fried Spaghetti Donut Ball.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2016. Including Bug Dog with Roasted Crickets and Deep Fried Butter Tarts.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2015. Including Corrado’s S&M Burger and Iron Skillet’s Frosted Flakes Chicken On A Stick.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2014. Including Fran’s Thanksgiving Turkey Waffle and Coco’s Fried Chicken Cocoa Chicken.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2013. Including Nutella Jalapeno Poppers and the S’more Dog.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2012. Including the Chocolate Eclair Dog and Bacon Nation Nutella BBBLT.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2011. Including the Krispy Kreme Hamburger and Deep Fried Twix.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2010. Including Deep Fried Butter and Taco In A Bag.

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Filed under Culture, Food, Recollections

Sarah Has A Carrd Now

Those looking to keep track of Sarah’s activities related to I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir and other high-profile writing activities she’s up to may want to keep an eye on her new Carrd profile.

You can find links to her recent media and podcast appearances, various ways you can purchase Overcame and some selected writing links.

Go here to see.

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Filed under Books, Recollections, Shameless Promotion

How To Buy ‘I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir’

I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir

Sarah’s first book I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir (Douglas & McIntyre) is officially available in Canada.

The U.S. and international release is September 22, 2020.

Despite the state of the world being what it is, there are a number of ways interested readers can get this worthy piece of work.

Below is a handy list of links to purchase I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir (we’ll update with further options whenever we have them):

UPDATE: Order Internationally Via Bookshop

Chapters | Indigo – physical

Chapters | Indigo – Kobo eBook

McNally Robinson

Renaud-Bray

Archambault

Book City – Toronto chain

Your Independent Canadian Bookstore (We can’t guarantee these stores have the book, but you should call them and ask. Many indies are doing book delivery drops right now).

Kobo eBook

Apple eBook

Douglas & McIntyre (business orders!)

Amazon

Sarah will be doing a Facebook  virtual launch event for the book on Monday, April 20 at 7 pm ET. Tune in to hear her do a reading, answer questions and (probably) swerve the conversation to inappropriate and bizarre places.

Book trailer!

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Diarrhea, Mechanical Horses, Ghost Taco Bells And More: 10 Sarah Hit Stories

Sarah in Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed.

Sarah in Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed.

Sarah’s first book I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir is being released April 18, 2020.

Below is a small list of other notable pieces she has contributed to various publications around the world:

Dysfunction, Drama, and Diarrhea: The Making of ‘The Magnificent Seven’
Diarrhea comes up in the Risky Fuel household quite often. The throughlines for this being a) Sarah’s Robert Vaughn fandom, b) Vaughn and the rest of the cast having diarrhea on the set of The Magnificent Seven, and c) Sarah finding this really funny.

Requiem for a Small-Town Taco Bell: Welland, Ontario
A Taco Bell in a small town. This impossibly bright beacon would shine forever. But nothing lasts forever.

Depression-Busting Exercise Tips For People Too Depressed To Exercise
Sometimes just doing anything is what counts. This piece was incredibly popular and incredibly valuable when Sarah wrote it a few years ago. It’s probably more valuable right now.

Time Is Running Out for a Beloved Mechanical Horse-Race Game in Vegas
In which Sarah and a billionaire casino owner consider their shared love for a mechanical horse racing game, the last of its kind.

Fire Walked with Me: Living a Real-Life Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks eerily paralleled the crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka in the Niagara region. The impact these crimes had on a 10-year-old girl from the area linger still.

In Memoriam: That Time Daisuke Sasaki Had A Sword
Japanese professional wrestler and troubled dirtbag Daisuke Sasaki won a ceremonial sword in a match. And then a short time later he lost it. It was a journey.

Delta Let Someone Steal My Luggage And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
What happened when Sarah’s luggage got stolen at McCarran International Airport.

When the Way You Love Things Is “Too Much”; or: Why I Went to Portmeirion
Reflections on a journey to Portmeirion in North Wales to pay homage in the location where idiosyncratic spy show The Prisoner was filmed.

Nothing Has Prepared Me For The Reality of Womanhood Better Than “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”
Sarah was told that films like this exploited young women, but for her it didn’t feel degrading — it felt familiar.

Real Autism
This is the piece that kick-started I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder into existence.

 

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Filed under Art, Books, Comedy, Culture, Health, Jock Stuff, Music, Politics, Recollections, Television

Julia Jacklin’s ‘Crushing’ Is Aaron’s Top Album Of 2019

Julia Jacklin Crushing

Julia Jacklin Crushing

Doing an annual top albums list for as long as I have one starts to see the true value in the exercise. It’s not the ranking, codifying or picking the “best” things so much as it’s about stitching together a tapestry of one’s year and seeing the patterns that emerged.

Much like in 2018, a lot of my personal music listening energy was devoted to my Before They Die list — a meticulously curated list of musical acts I need to see before, well, y’know — and I ended up catching 12 on-the-list and 17 list-adjacent acts on top of whatever other concert-going I did.

That meant a little less energy spent on discovery. It also meant if one pattern emerged it was that there was lots of leaning on the past. I don’t mean that in the Rolling Stone Magazine-will-always-give-Dylan/Springsteen/Stones-perfect-reviews leaning on the past kinda way. What it did mean, though, was there were a lot of albums that could be argued represent new forms of things I’ve enjoyed in the past.

Read below to see the patterns that emerged.

Bubbling under for 2019: Abjects, Geoff Berner, Sondra Sun-Odeon, Mimico, Jacques Greene, King Gizzard, De la Noche, PUP, Wargirl. (Also, Thus Owls’ The Mountain That We Live Upon probably would have been my #3 but it came out in Sept. 2018 and that was just too 2018.)

10) Mercury Rev — Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited

The best part of an album isn’t always the album itself, so much as the sense of discovery around the album. Mercury Rev redoing Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete with a cast of guest vocalists not only serves as a wonderful intro to Gentry, but also makes a wonderful entry point for contributors like Margo Price, Carice van Houten (Melisandre from Game of Thrones can sing?) and Phoebe Bridgers.

Hear “Sermon” ft Margo Price

9) Angel Olsen — All Mirrors

Sometimes when I play Fantasy A&R Man the best idea I can come up with is “a new Connie Francis… but goth.” There are points on Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors where she comes this close.

Watch “All Mirrors”

8) Murray Lightburn — Hear Me Out

I’m a firm Dears loyalist and might consider them my favourite Canadian band. However, my acceptance of their transition from an early days chaotic bombast machine to something with more dignity and refinement has been hard won. So it was a touch surprising that Lightburn lead singer Murray Lightburn’s bombast-free second solo album would strike so deep. What Lightburn gives us — “I Give Up” is a soul ballad from another time, “I’m Not Broken” has knowing gospel touches — paints with just enough different colours to enthrall.

Watch “Changed My Ways”

7) Rustin Man — Drift Code

This record is quite literally the output of a wobbly old weirdo who spent two decades building a science project in his back shed. Read my full review here.

Watch “Judgement Train”

6) Tallies — Tallies

It’s been a slow and not absolute process, but I’m on my way to divesting from Morrissey because of his terrible politics and worldview and middling late-period music. Having an act like Tallies and songs like the jangle gem “Midnight” help soften this transition.

Watch “Midnight”

5) Deadbeat Beat — How Far

If you like Sloan’s Jay songs you’ll love Deadbeat Beat’s How Far. I’m particularly partial to “Dim Bulbs.”

Watch “You Lift Me Up”

4) Michael Kiwanuka — Kiwanuka

This new Kiwanuka album is exquisite — a majestic, soaring, hands-held-high sermon from Mt. Soul. The brilliance of the individual bits of this record are only half the story, though. The other half comes from basking in the glow of the brilliant craftsmanship. Kiwanuka is a master of his domain and to be able to witness such excellence is its own type of reward.

Watch “You Ain’t The Problem”

3) Moonface — This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet

Technically, this was a late 2018 release, but I didn’t really tweak to it until well into 2019. And yes, I realize that it’s near hypocritical to endorse Moonface while disqualifying Thus Owls, but it’s my list and my rules, so suck it.

This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet is a fascinator. It’s two separate projects — half a delayed keyboard treatment audio experiment, and half songs sung from the perspective of the Minotaur of Greek mythology — woven together to create something otherworldly and unique. The Minotaur songs strike particularly deeply. For a giant, blood-thirsty, bull-headed beast, the Minotaur’s journey forgiving all those who’ve hurt it is one of the most genuine, better and human set of stories I’ve heard put to song.

Watch “Minotaur Forgiving Knossos”

2) Hawksley Workman — Median Age Wasteland

In the year 2019 I was not expecting to a) rate a Hawksley Workman album so highly, and b) to feel it so deeply. And yet here we are.

To be fair, I’ve always been casually fond of Workman’s dandy woodsman idiosyncrasy, but with Median Age Wasteland he seems optimized. Having the above-mentioned Murray Lightburn on production probably helped. Certainly Workman’s vocals are both torqued up and focused in ways they may not have been in the past. Where Median Age Wasteland truly stands out, though, is in the storytelling. Whether it’s the mythologizing of a snowmobile (“Snowmobile”), the joyful BMX bike gang journeying (“Battlefords”), the tributes to forgotten figure skaters (“Oksana”) or even the outwardly ludicrous (“Stoners Never Dream”), Workman takes us to fantastical places with each and every song.

Watch “Italy”

1) Julia Jacklin — Crushing

At the 4:27 mark of Jacklin’s “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You” she delivers a series of repeated “don’t. know. how. to. keep. loving. you” lines so charged, so gut-wrenching you can’t help but worry if Jacklin will ever find her way. The entire Crushing album is filled with these emotion-charged bombs as Jacklin explores unraveling relationships, personal agency, hurt and self-healing in an unflinchingly beautiful way.

Watch “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You”

Other album lists…

2018 Top Ten — Idles’ Joy As An Act Of Resistance. is #1
2017 Top Ten — Land Of Talk’s Life After Youth is #1
2016 Top Ten — Daniel Romano‘s Mosey is #1
2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart’s SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

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Filed under Concerts, Music, Recollections