Sad Girl

Adobe Spark (17)

I’m sleep-deprived. I’ve been binge-watching Paul O’Grady’s For The Love of Dogs and Bondi Vet. Especially Bondi Vet. Have you seen that guy? His jaw game is strong. Watching animals being cute and fluffy relaxes me. Someday I’ll have my very own dog. For now, I’m happy dogsitting my brother’s grumpy but delightful 13 year old Yorkie.

This week’s playlist sounds like its title. Not that I’m sad and not that sad is a bad thing. Everyday life is mostly just blah anyway. I’m not saddened by that either. I just thought that if I were to anthropomorphize this playlist it will be a sad girl.

Tracklist:
01. Stranger’s Kiss – Alex Cameron, Angel Olsen
02. Break Up Together – Theo Katzman
03. Downhearted – Molly Burch
04. Diamonds, Girl – El May
05. Equal Mind – Beach House
06. I Need Your Body – Brooke Bentham
07. Mood – Porches
08. Tearz (45 Mix) – El Michels Affair
09. Pain – The War on Drugs
10. Time To Decide – Al Sunny

Subsequent songs come from the older version of this playlist (Runaway).
Enjoy xo

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Eating in Toronto

I’ve lived in Toronto for the past 5 years. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favourite budget-friendly places to quell your hunger if you happen to be in the city. Click on the names to open a link to their Yelp/Tripadvisor pages.

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Taken from my instagram page: mumubechy

1. Jerk Chicken from Rap’s Authentic Jamaican – Eglinton & Marlee (Midtown). As of this writing, your CDN10 will be more than enough for 2 people at this place. They grill the chicken outside. They’re not the only spot that has jerk chicken. This particular strip of Eglinton West smells like jerk chicken in the evenings. I don’t mind it because that smell is delicious. Sometimes the wait can be too long but it’s worth it. Cash only.

2. Samosas from Samosa King – Finch & Middlefield (Scarborough). There’s always a lineup at this place. Samosas, if not done well, can be very dry inside while very oily outside. NOT AT THIS PLACE. They don’t cheap out on the filling too. Sometimes, when you grab Indian food, it’s excessively spiced that the heat no longer feels like a little kick but a full-on assault on the tastebuds. NOT AT THIS PLACE. The samosas here are very well-seasoned; you can taste layers of flavours past the heat. IIRC, you can get 5 samosas per dollar. Cash and debit only.

3. Turkish Pizza from Mustafa’s – Wilson & Dufferin (Downsview Area) If you’re looking for a different kind of pizza, Turkish is the way to go. It has a thin crust and it’s shaped differently. The meat is mildly spiced. The tomato sauce-cheese combo highlighted in regular pizza is not really a big thing here. Mustafa’s is a proper sit-down restaurant. The restaurant looks like the inside of a cave though. But this was a good dining experience nonetheless. Credit cards accepted.

4. Burgers from Harry’s Drive In – Lawrence & Kennedy (Scarborough). This is burger without fuss, hipsters or heavy marketing. It’s a good burger for a good price. And, Harry’s is a family-owned business that’s been open since 1964. My mom was born that year. Talk about longevity! Cash only.

5. Fried dumplings from Dumpling House Restaurant – Spadina & Dundas (Chinatown). My bf introduced me to this place. He only has 2 favourites in a Chinese restaurant: dumplings and beef in black bean sauce. He only gets his fried dumplings at this place. We enjoy breaking the fried batter that holds the dumplings together. Because I’m Filipino, I dip my dumplings in a soy sauce-vinegar mixture. If they had calamansi, I’d use that instead of vinegar. Cash only.

6. Anything from Sunrise House – Bloor & Christie (Koreatown). The thing I like about Korean restaurants is the bottomless sides. I think my favourite side was the seaweed, followed by kimchi. My brother introduced me and our mother to this place. I paid less than CDN30 for all of us. That was our first time trying anything Korean that isn’t Korean BBQ. This place is always packed. They don’t do reservations. So, come during odd hours, I guess. Cash only.

I’ll update as soon as I remember the others. A couple of the places listed may seem like hole-in-the-wall types. But, TBH, I’m deliberately looking for these kinds of places. They seem to concern themselves more on the quality of the food over decor. As long as you pass health inspections, we’re good.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about fried dumplings.

When you do come to Toronto, feel free to ask me questions. I’m happy to help. If you want me to write about some Toronto-isms on this page, let me know in the comments below.

xo Bessy

Bess Clef Selects & Radio Days

Adobe Spark (3)

This week, the groove is a little slow. I feel like this would fit in a 2-5pm slot on the radio, if only I had everything my way. I always thought the 2-5pm slot is the mildest of all daytime slots. It’s probably a siesta thing. On the other hand, radio stations are very specialised nowadays. Jazz will only play jazz and the occasional rhythm and blues. Top 40 will play itself every 30 minutes. HAHAHA. I loathe Top 40 stations.

So, back in the day, where I came from, even a radio station that you would consider Top 40 now will play a variety of genres throughout the day. By the time things had settled down, maybe sometime between morning rush and lunch, and lunch to evening rush, they’ll switch from something loud to something more work appropriate. That can either be adult contemporary or talk radio.

When I was around 10, my mom gave me a portable cassette player. It wasn’t a walkman. It was larger than a walkman but smaller than a boom box. It was purple, I remember. I used to love purple a lot. I didn’t like pink because it was too flashy. I also thought people who liked blue were just too cool to admit that they really LOVE pink.

In my hometown, there was one station that played classical music on Wednesday and Sunday nights. I faithfully tuned in on those nights because, if I remember correctly, the DJ was the consul of Germany to my city. He had a very unusual accent (unusual back in the day because you don’t meet a lot of Germans where I’m from) that easily became my favorite radio voice. His program was the only one whose lines were open enough to actually accommodate requests. I was so lame, I actually called in to request titles that I found in my family’s encyclopedia. So, if I wanted to hear Mozart, I got the M book and looked him up. Whichever composition I saw first, I called it in. I didn’t know anything about classical music. So, when he received the request from me, he would start explaining certain concepts in classical music. I learnt early on that you can’t request for the entire 4 Seasons by Vivaldi because there’d be no room for other requests in the program. The more I called in, the more I learnt about classical music. I’m not expert level but I’m no longer ignorantly picking songs from encyclopedias either.

I really miss the good ol’ days.

I hope you enjoy my selections this week. xo

Tracklist:
01. Double L – Club Kuru
02. Don’t Believe – Slow Dancer
03. She Won’t Go Away – Faye Webster
04. Feelin’ Lovely – Devonte Hynes, Connan Mockasin
05. Whatever You Want – Sports
06. Blinding Sights – Yellow House
07. Marcel – Her’s
08. Jones’ Disco – Los Porcos
09. Zero – Electric Guest
10. To Move On – Alex Izenberg

Following songs come from previous versions (ie Zero) of the playlist.

Bedhead

Adobe Spark (16)

Have you had those afternoons where the sun looks really nice outside but you just can’t get yourself out of your bed? I have and I made a playlist for it. I used to call it Summery Daiquiri (really bad rhyming job there) but I decided summer will end soon, outside won’t look as bright but I will still have afternoons where I won’t want to get out of my bed.

Tracklist:
01. I Need A Man – Sam Evian
02. Silly Girl – Lonely Benson
03. Dumb Love – NEIL FRANCES
04. Summer Days (Roosevelt Remix) – Rhye, Roosevelt
05. Cruel – Adrian Underhill
06. Falling – Forever
07. Tailwhip – Men I Trust
08. Arty Boy – Flight Facilities, Emma Louise
09. Overdressed – TWINKIDS
10. Downfall – Kllo

The Evening Stroll #2 & Music for TV

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I had to redo this playlist because it did not sit right with me.

I’m a bit fussy like that. If it doesn’t flow for me, it eats at me. For days!

I saw a documentary tonight about animals rearing their young. And the music didn’t match with the images at all. Okay imagine tigers, lush forest, then cue… ‘Don’t leave me high….. don’t leave me dry….’

Uhm, what?!

I don’t have anything against Radiohead. I love a number of their songs (No Surprises, Fake Plastic Trees). But I wish this doc invested in a better sound guy.

That being said, I also notice good music in ads, especially. Have you seen the latest Levi’s ad? It features Makeba by Jain.

When I was still watching The Premier League, I absolutely loved the choice of Kasabian’s Fire for the intro.

Ads are indeed a good way to discover new music. I’m that person who approaches a TV screen just to Shazam the song in a 30-second spot. I’m also the person who disrupts the barista at your local cafe to ask for the song playing in the background.

Did you ever discover a wonderful song through ads?

Tracklist:
01. Disco Muse – CAPYAC, Caroline Watson
02. Something More – Date Night, Neda
03. Don’t Wait – Leisure Suite
04. It’s Only Music, Baby – Kid Francescoli
05. Beneath The Lights (Jean Tonique Remix) – Cool Company, Jean Tonique
06. Midnight Emotion – Work Drugs
07. I Know How You Get – Mk.Gee
08. Thinking Bout You – Flo Morrissey, Matthew E. White
09. To You – Andy Shauf
10. Please – Rhye

Songs playing after the songs listed are from the first version of the playlist.

Enjoy xo Bessy

Back To School

I know I owe you guys a playlist but between OSAP woes, ratemyprofessors and the long queues at the university bookstore, I’ve no time to polish a playlist. But, it’ll come, I promise.

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Have you ever felt unmotivated when you need motivation the most? I feel like I’ve been living a kind of irony lately. I should be excited for school but I’m so tempted to go back to sleep. I haven’t given in to temptation… so far. I should be pumped with excitement but I find myself just soullessly passing by the halls from one class to the next. Am I alone in this? Maybe I’ve become too accustomed to the freedom I felt during summer. I’m sure , though, this will be over soon.

My band and I jammed this weekend. It’s been a while and we were clearly rusty. I don’t really get a lot of opportunities to sing. So I really appreciate getting the opportunity to jam. I like karaoke but who goes there alone? I don’t play any instruments. I often tell myself I will but I’m too lazy. Also, I don’t like saying I will unless I’ve done it. To me, that’s a self-inflicted jinx. So, very often, I don’t share the details of my very recent project. If it fails spectacularly, at least no one else knows unless I divulge it.

Do you find yourself writing better at night? I’m writing this at 12:50am. I have a different and, quite frankly, a better vocabulary at night. If this was written in the morning, this post would be shorter, or it wouldn’t have anything at all because I will write nothing. Nothing. I will be too busy pushing the snooze button every 10 minutes.

Roadtrip: New York City

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As promised, here is the separate account of our 3 days in New York City. That photo above is not stock photo. That’s my photo and I added the text through Adobe Spark (because I’m fancy like that).

New York City was quite overwhelming at first. If you decide to go one day, take the bus. But, if you are taking a car because this is one leg of your trip, like us, use the Park & Ride services in New Jersey. We stationed our car at the North Bergen Park & Ride for 2 nights. You take a ticket at the gate and insert it at a pay station. You’ll be paying for a round trip ticket. If you have an extra passenger, you can also get a ticket at the same pay station. We only paid $10 for parking (with round trip ticket for bf) and $6.50 for the round trip bus ticket (my ticket). We were initially scared that our car will be broken into but we saw a security person patrolling the area. Most parking lots in NYC will cost you at least $40 a night. $10 is a great bargain! I mean, park at your own risk, still. Our risk paid off. We were just too frugal to take that risk. Wait for the 320 bus to New York. When you hop on the bus, the driver will take one half of your ticket. Don’t ever lose the other half. The bus will stop at 42 St – Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) Station. From there, get yourself a MetroCard. The MetroCard will give you access to the New York City subway.

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The Defenders on my MetroCard.

NYC streets are flooded with commercial establishments from food to technology to anything you can think of. Our favourites included the Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground. For $8-14, you can get a seat at one of the best comedy shows in town. We even saw Hasan Minhaj in person! Across the street is the Blue Note Jazz Club. A 2-minute walk will lead you to the $2.75 slice of Joe’s Pizza. OMG! That pizza is unforgettable! Bleecker St has Pasticceria Rocco with the best slice of American cheesecake one will ever have. On Christopher St, you’ll find Fat Cat. You’ll be surprised at what $3 could get you at this place. We enjoyed the performances of Troy Roberts’ Nu Jive 5. Watch for their drummer and bassist. The band is good but those 2 are outstanding. Basically, what I’m trying to tell you is our stay revolved around Greenwich Village. We didn’t cover everything because NYC is ENORMOUS!

To avoid crowds, we decided to check out some buildings at night. Behind the One World Trade Center is the Silverstein Family Park. It’s not much of a park but there’s a Jeff Koons sculpture there. The Oculus across the street is something out of science fiction. This is the architecture of the future. From inside it, take the path towards the Brookfield Place. The atrium at Brookfield Place is decorated with palm trees and a lovely view of the Hudson River.

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Silverstein Family Park with Jeff Koons’ sculpture. Instagram: mumubechy.
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The Oculus. Instagram: mumubechy

On our last day, we decided to check the High Line. There were just too many people there but we loved the concept. We both agreed that Toronto should adopt something like this very soon. It’s a very good use of space. We really need more spaces like this. Some NIMBYs may not agree with a new infrastructure in the area but it can bring business to the neighbourhood.

The 9/11 Memorial is a must-see as well. You can’t access it at night. Come during the day and expect a crowd. I don’t understand some people smiling while having their photos taken at this place. Over 2,000 people died there. I almost cried just seeing the names of those who perished on that day. Some names will have a flag or a rose placed on their name. These people left families. There’s no better tribute than this memorial.

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9/11 Memorial. Instagram: mumubechy

One thing happens when you come back from an NYC vacation: People who have been there ask you if you’ve been to places they’ve been. And the answer is NO. Haha. But I make mental notes for the next time I go. NYC is one of those places that you cannot only experience once. It’s a huge place with varying cultural experiences among neighbourhoods that one visit won’t do it justice.┬áSo, next time, I really wanna check out more live comedy. Maybe a live taping of Stephen Colbert or John Oliver’s show. At least one musical on Broadway. More pizza at Joe’s. See Starry Night at MoMA. Pass by the Guggenheim. Watch Nightgowns by Sasha Velour (because you have to support drag queens by going to their shows and buying their merch, y’all).

I noticed, too, that New York is a city of hustling. On top of the big box stores lining each street, there are tons of food carts or any cart. There was no shortage of people trying to sketch you, or sell you bottled water, or anything. There’s nothing bad about that. That’s part of what makes the city dynamic. And it’s a strong evidence that the American Dream lives on. NYC, as I’ve experienced before I visited, is portrayed by the media as the place ‘dreams are made of’ (you know the song I lifted this quote from). New Yorkers are dreamweavers and they’re damn good at it. This is the reason everyone around the world aspires to make it here, or visit it at least.

If you have experienced NYC, what do you think should I check out next time?