Tag Archives: comic books

The Thing About Brussels…

img_6926First Impressions

On the Wednesday of our first week in Europe, we woke up early to snap a photo of the iamsterdam sign before it got swarmed then took the Thalys train from Amsterdam Central Station to Brussels-South Station. Two hours later, we found ourselves in Brussels. I read in another travel blog that Brussels was a bit of an enigma. And we understood exactly what the author meant when we found ourselves in Belgium’s capital. In fact, we couldn’t quite form an opinion about it while we were there. Did we like Brussels as much as Amsterdam? Did we even like Brussels at all? The vibe is completely different than the Dutch city we left behind. Gone were the bicycles and canals, to be replaced by the hustle and bustle of the de facto capital of the European Union. It was bigger and busier, more diverse. There were soldiers patrolling and vagrants sitting on the ground with signs. It reminded us a little of Toronto. Sure the architecture was nice, as in most of the cities in Europe, but what set Brussels apart? We hoped at the end of our stay, we would figure it out.

Accommodation

We were staying three nights at a fourth-floor apartment in the center of Brussels through Airbnb. Admittedly, I was a little nervous since this was my first experience with Airbnb and I had visions of somehow not ending up with a place to stay but luckily, the host was super responsive and arranged for her neighbour who lives in the same building to greet us and give us the key. Since I had always stayed in hotels or hostels with lifts, the narrow, steep, winding staircase took some getting used to. So did the no air conditioning. And we had just arrived during a heat wave. It was brutal at night, even with a fan. Other than those two things, the apartment was very spacious and I loved the bathtub. There was a kitchen and dining room that we did not really take advantage of and a living room with a pull-out couch. Another bonus was being near a church whose bells rang so you didn’t need to set your alarm. All in all, I would recommend staying here, but only during the cooler months.

Getting Around

Our only experience with Brussels’ transit system was when we took the tram to get to our Airbnb when we first arrived. Being fluent in French, it was easy to navigate for me since the signs were in both French and Dutch. But aside from that, we once again relied on our feet. Our apartment was so close to all the attractions that we didn’t really need to take public transport. All of the street signs in Brussels are both in French and Dutch as well. I suggest picking one language and sticking with it when following directions. For some reason, I found it easier to navigate the winding streets of Amsterdam, but luckily Keith picked up the slack. The whole “everything is much closer together” rule still applies here. We would sometimes have to double back because the street we were looking for was really more of an alleyway or a short strip that was an offshoot of another street that you wouldn’t really consider a separate one in North America. Some streets, especially the ones that were around the tourist attractions are pedestrian only.

Attractions

img_6919Our first day there, we headed straight to the main event: the Grand Place, the central square of Brussels. It was breathtaking, without being hyperbolic. When we rounded the corner coming into the square, we were both just taken aback and stopped breathing for a little bit. It was just like nothing we had ever seen. I had seen major monuments before but the Grand Place just surrounds you in amazing architecture and stupefying splendour. There was the King’s House on the north side then the City Hall on the south side and then guildhalls on the east and west sides. Tourists just sit down or stand in the middle of the square for hours, just admiring and taking photos.

After gawking for I’m not even sure how long, we explored all the little side streets and shops around the Grand Place. There were so many pubs, bars, restaurants, chocolatiers and souvenir shops. Then we went down a street where we saw a crowd of people was gathered and it turned out to be the site of the Mannekin Pis, a small bronze sculpture of a naked little boy peeing. It was smaller than I imagined and I honestly don’t get what the fuss was all about. Keith liked it though. He said it helped him understand Brussels more. He said it meant the city didn’t take itself too seriously.

The next day, we were supposed to go to Bruges but due to unforeseen circumstances (I wasn’t feeling so well, I was starting to get the travel cold), we decided to switch Thursday and Friday’s itineraries. We stayed in Brussels and crossed off number two on Keith’s list: The Belgian Comic Strip Center. As soon as we found out there was a museum dedicated to comic books in Brussels, we knew, being the nerds that we are, we needed to pay a visit. Luckily this was also just a 10-minute walk from the apartment. The museum was fascinating for both of us, as someone who works in comics (Keith) and someone who is a big fan of the medium (me). It goes through the history of the comic book, the process, and highlights some of the pioneers and current creators. Belgium has a rich history with comic books. You may have heard about Hergé’s Tintin or Peyo’s The Smurfs. Much like the Rijksmuseum, the museum itself is a work of art with its Art Nouveau design. Needless to say, we were both glad we could make the pilgrimage.

img_6975The rest of our stay in Brussels consisted of just exploring the streets near our apartment. There were two smaller squares near us, the Place de la Monnaie and the Place des Martyrs. We also tried to find as many of the comic book murals that grace the side of the buildings in the city. If we had more time, we would’ve done the Comic Book Route to see all of them. Another thing on my list that I didn’t get to do was visit the Mont des Arts, apparently the best view of the city.

Food Recommendations

As a lover of beer and chocolate, Brussels did not disappoint. I don’t have specific recommendations when it comes to beer since I have come to the conclusion that you cannot get bad beer in Brussels. As for chocolate, there are so many stores but my co-worker recommended the chocolatier that invented the praline, Neuhaus, which I loved and even non-chocolate aficionado Keith enjoyed.

img_6947As for the famous waffles, just pick a stand and they should all be comparable. I got mine from Vitalgaufre and devoured it. Definitely get fries with mayo from a frites stand. Keith does not like mayo but for some reason, he didn’t mind Belgian mayo and he almost didn’t need my help to finish a whole cone by himself. We had moules et frites from a place I forgot the name of beside the Grand Place. It was ok but it didn’t really impress. I prefer the Thai mussels I make at home.

The one restaurant I absolutely recommend is Peck 47. Our Airbnb host suggested it. They’re located near the Grand Place and their food is fresh and so yummy. It may seem a little hipster at first but all of that won’t matter after you try their homemade lemonade and their delicious brunch. The bacon is probably the best bacon we have ever tasted. Ever.

Souvenirs

If you can ensure that they won’t melt, then chocolate from Neuhaus is a good souvenir to take back. We only had carry-on though so we opted for Speculoos cookies from Maison Dandoy. They come in the cutest packages so they don’t need to be gift-wrapped. We also taste tested them first, obviously.

Final Thoughts

img_6939By the end of the second day, we were starting to get what Brussels was all about. They had incredible monuments but their most beloved statue was a naked child peeing. They were the headquarters of the EU but they also had comic book murals on the side of their buildings. It seemed like anything goes in Brussels. This is probably just an ignorant tourist’s observation but the city seemed to be dealing fine with the aftermath of the terrorist attack. Then again, we don’t live there so the reality could be very different. When everything was said and done though, we realized we actually really liked Brussels.

Next post is all about the time we were In Bruges!

Leave a comment

Filed under Travel

“Shoot, Quick” Episode 8

The mid-season hiatus is finally over and we can look forward to our weekly dose of red and green. Here we recap The Flash’s “Revenge of the Rogues”, where Captain Cold and Heatwave team up, as well as Arrow’s “Left Behind”, where Team Arrow struggles to survive without Oliver. Take a listen HERE and let us know what you think by shooting us a quick e-mail (come on, I had to, it was right there!): shootquickpodcast@gmail.com.
flash-arrow-111930

Happy Hump Day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fandom

Friday Favorites

Happy Halloween one and all! Looking forward to a relaxing night, playing board games and watching my go-to Halloween movies. But first, here are a few of my favorite things:
The best co-worker ever left a surprise on my desk!

IMG_3342.JPG

A trip to IKEA to replace our bedroom lamp wasn’t complete without having Swedish meatballs (complete with chocolate milk in honor of our close friends, Chris & Megh, getting engaged)

IMG_3350.JPG

The boyfriend says “I’m sorry” with books (comics included)

IMG_3359.JPG

Two very good and very Halloween-appropriate brews that I recommend (for more, click here):

IMG_3357.JPG

And last but not least, this week, I encountered the legendary ghost train during rush hour. I had a seat! There was this much empty space:

IMG_3370.JPG

Have a happy & safe Halloween weekend everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fandom, Food, Friday Favorites

It Happened This Week…

Happy Thursday! Another week, another round-up of all the latest news happening in the world of fandom, especially since NYCC was this weekend. There’s more Hobbit posters, a first look at the new Daredevil, your favorite a-holes animated and BIG news from both Marvel and DC. So let’s get on with it:

…in Middle-Earth
Fotor01013205731
The rest of the character posters for The Battle of the Five Armies. I’m in serious denial that this franchise is coming to an end. Peter Jackson will return to Middle Earth eventually. Right? Right?!

…in Hell’s Kitchen
Fotor01013211729
A first look at Matt Murdoch and Netflix’s Daredevil from NYCC. I’m not familiar with the character all that much but my boyfriend is not happy.

…in the galaxy

A first-look at the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series!

…in the TARDIS

Did anyone really think Clara was going to just leave mid-season?

…in the world of comics
WonderWoman77_colorB-2-673x1024
Exciting news from NYCC! According to The Mary Sue, there’s going to be a new Wonder Woman series based on the 1970s TV show. Thank, Hera!

…in Gotham
jim-gordon
Ugh. If you don’t know my thoughts on Gotham…well, in short, I don’t like it so far. Everyone is just SUPER dramatic and I don’t understand why they have to hit us over the head with references and foreshadowing (“My name is Cat!” “You walk like a penguin!”) not to mention the abusive and dick-ish Alfred. So the news that they ordered in 6 more episodes does absolutely nothing for me. Except maybe feel a little amused that they might now have to scramble to change things since they planned their story around the original number of episodes.

…in The Mortal Instruments‘ NYC
mortal-instruments1
Stop right there. You mean to tell me that they won’t continue making more of these movies after City of Bones?! Shocker. According to THR, the book series will now be coming to the small screen. I haven’t decided yet on how I feel about this. I’ll wait for more details.

…in DC’s NYC

A new trailer for Constantine which I’m actually getting excited for if only to distract me from Gotham.

…in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
avengers_downey_new
Last week I posted about RDJ saying he’s going to re-don the Iron Man suit and assumed he meant Iron Man 4 but that’s not the case. He’ll be clashing with Steve Rogers in Captain America 3. Variety reports the 3rd movie will be based on the Civil War storyline, which sounds amaze-balls!

…in the DC Cinematic Universe
BN-CL822_justic_G_20140421184947
Finally we get some clarity on DC’s plans via /Film but man do we have to wait a long time for some of the movies in their line-up:
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
Suicide Squad directed by David Ayer (2016)
Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot (2017)
Justice League Part One directed by Zack Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprising their roles (2017)
The Flash starring Ezra Miller (2018)
Aquaman starring Jason Momoa (2018)
Shazam (2019)
Justice League Part Two directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
Cyborg starring Ray Fisher (2020)
Green Lantern (2020)
Thanks for making the Momoa casting official already. Not sure what all the secrecy was for. I’m very intrigued about the casting choices for The Flash and Cyborg. But more importantly…
FINALLY we’re going to have a Wonder Woman movie!!! Whoever’s going to be in charge of this: Do. Not. Mess. It. Up. Kaythanksbye.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fandom

Gotham Academy # 1 REVIEW

Happy New Comic Book Day! Yes, I am aware that this comic book came out last week but if you haven’t picked it up yet, then I suggest you do so ASAP. Now, I don’t usually review a lot of single issues since I prefer reading trades but I had to make an exception for this awesome first issue of Gotham Academy.

Gotham_Academy-01_Review

Billed as a “teen drama set in the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham City” when it was first announced, I was a little hesitant that it would be too soap opera-like. I shouldn’t have worried because despite some clichés it’s Hogwarts in Gotham City, which definitely works. The first thing you notice is the art by Karl Kerschl. It’s just gorgeous. I like the look of the characters, the colors and the creative panels. I mean just look at this splash page:

9.29 GOTHAC_1_4-5_5429706bdd82f2.15980603

The characters, the setting and the seeds of the plot are introduced in this first issue and it will definitely leave you wanting more. I’m already in love with mysterious main heroine Olive Silverlock and her friendship with her ex-boyfriend’s sister Maps Mizoguchi (nice to see some diversity). I like the fact that Maps isn’t relegated to being Olive’s sidekick. At least in this issue, Maps takes the lead in exploring the school. With a fun dynamic between them, I’m very much looking forward to their adventures. Hopefully we get to see Kyle in the next issue. Basically something happened to Olive that’s made her the school weirdo, leaving her relationship with boyfriend Kyle up in the air and the mystery of her mother yet to be revealed.

GothamAcademyCover2

Of course no book set in Gotham is complete without the obligatory mention of Batman, the appearance of the Bat-Signal or the appearance of Bruce Wayne and the trifecta is present in the issue, reminding us that we’re very much in the Bat-universe. Bruce turns out to be the benefactor of the Academy, which means he might make more cameos in future issues. Personally I didn’t really miss ol’ Bats since I thought the story was doing just fine without him. We’ll see how Cloonan and Fletcher balance the story moving forward.

Once again, you should definitely add this to your pull list. It’s a welcome addition to the usually dark and gloomy Bat Family. Happy Hump Day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fandom

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday everyone! It’s officially October and today is Mean Girls Day in case you didn’t know. This week has been wonderful.

From celebrating the news of a new job at WVRST
IMG_3129.JPG
We definitely toasted a lot with their Oktoberfest beer sampler, which I highly recommend. We loved Beau’s Night Marzen so much we got a bottle to bring home.
IMG_3137.JPG
I also spent a whole day with my nose buried in John Green’s Looking for Alaska after loving his The Fault In Our Stars.
IMG_3139.JPG
A meeting brought me down to King East where I promptly saw this awesome skull piece. I want it in my apartment since I’m obsessed with skulls. Plus it reminded me of Halloween…
IMG_3143.JPG
Speaking of Halloween, I’m continuing to embrace fall with this Mill Street Autumn Harvest Sampler that includes both their Oktoberfest beer and their pumpkin beer aptly named Nightmare on Mill Street, which conveniently helps out my mission to test as many pumpkin beers this season.
IMG_3158.JPG

This weekend will be spent enjoying my last few days off before I officially start my grown-up, 9-5 job. I’ll continue to post as often as I can but might skip some days if I get too busy. Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fandom, Food, Friday Favorites

Must-Watch Fall 2014 TV Shows

Happy Wednesday! Now that October is here, we can finally enjoy the return of all our favorite shows as well as discover new ones to be obsessed with. But it can be difficult to choose which ones to devote your valuable free time to. That’s where this list comes in. Here’s what I’ll be religiously watching every day, every week and what you should be too:

MONDAYS – Gotham
gotham-tv-show-poster-2-1500x750
Despite the less-than-epic pilot, I’m sticking with this show for better or for worse. I’m too much of a fan of the characters to stop, even if Ivy Pepper’s name is ridiculous and Alfred acted like a giant ass in the first episode (and continues to do so, I might add). I’m willing to ignore a bunch of things just so I can watch Oswald Cobblepot and Selina Kyle every week.

TUESDAYS – The Flash
Bv-5wsGIgAI2Eoh
Fans of Arrow, like myself, are already guaranteed to like this show. It’s set in the same world and they already have a cross-over event planned. But even if you haven’t watched Arrow, this show can serve as a gateway drug into the world of superheroes and comics. It’s lighter and funnier than the other grim and gritty comic-based properties out there, which is a welcome change, but with enough action to keep you entertained.

WEDNESDAY – Arrow
ArrowS3Poster
Tell me again why you’re not watching this show yet? You’ve only missed two of the best seasons of TV there is. Seriously, Arrow is the reason for all the recent comic book TV shows cropping up in every network. What are you waiting for? You have a week to binge-watch every episode you missed before Season 3 starts. Go.

THURSDAY – How To Get Away With Murder
enhanced-14136-1407433279-9
The good news is that you’ve only missed the pilot episode of this show. The bad news is that once you’ve finished watching it, you’ll still have to wait hours for episode 2. And as someone who was blown away by the pilot, let me tell you every minute of waiting for the next episode is torture. It’s just that good. I feel like this should be on Netflix so they can just drop the whole season all at once. I can’t remember falling for a show this hard, this fast. Even with Arrow, it started out slow for me. Must be the Viola Davis effect.

FRIDAY – Constantine
constantine-102653
Whatever you do, do not judge this show by the pilot. I know it probably goes without saying but in this case it’s especially important because the female lead in the first episode, Lucy Griffiths, left the show and they decided not to reshoot the pilot. Which means that a) if you liked her, don’t get attached and know that no matter how important they make her seem, she’s leaving or b) if you didn’t like her, then you don’t have to wait long to see her gone. Out of all the shows, this is actually the one I’m most worried about. Let’s hope they can retain viewers despite the bizarre circumstances of the pilot. They have a couple weeks to reshuffle episodes if need be to explain her departure. Stay tuned.

Happy Hump Day and New Comic Book Day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fandom