Category Archives: Review

Reviews of films, stage performances, music, restaurants, and other stuff

My TAs: A Confession

Small class

We’ve discussed professors in the past, whether they’re nice or loud or mean or weird… but have you been observing your TAs, too? Here is what I think of mine!

I have three TAs this semester. The first one for film studies is a near-middle-aged man, light-brown skinned, possibly from Romania or Italy or Spain or somewhere in the Middle East. The day I saw him, he was wearing an oversized brown-buttoned shirt, and a pair of grey jeans. It was not interesting. I thought that he was experienced in the subject matter, but whether he was or not, he didn’t seem to want to share his experiences with his students. He spoke with the voice of a dying mosquito, and seemed very nervous. He can never finish a sentence in one breath, like he’s always thinking madly about the next possible word to say so we won’t think he’s talking rubbish. AND he said he did not know what Twitter was!

My next TA is in my computer science tutorial. Unfortunately, and ridiciously, his voice is shy monotone. He’s young and tall, and  the first time I saw him he wore a maroon turtleneck with a pair of old blue jeans. The class gave him the silent treatment, and he just stood there, hunched, with a silly smile on his face, and I suspect that in his head, he was screaming “Somebody say something for God’s sake! I am so terrible at this.”

My last TA was also in film studies. She is very talkative and easy-going! Hurray! This TA gave us a pretty thoughtful and fun lesson with plenty of questions and discussion. So, does this mean that females are better at being TAs? I sure hope not! Man! What are all you male TAs doing these days? Straighten your backs and show us your strong, confident male selves! That being said, despite all their different characteristics I do like all of my TAs. I hope I can say that for the rest of my degree!

blogUT Eats: iBento Review

Bulgogi Bento box is a complete meal of nutrition: you've got your grains (rice), protein (bulgogi beef), vegetables (deep fried tempura and the salad in the small styrofoam box) and dairy (miso soup).
Bulgogi Bento box is a complete meal of nutrition: you’ve got your grains (rice), protein (bulgogi beef and shrimp tempura), vegetables (assorted deep fried tempura and the salad in the small styrofoam box) and dairy (miso soup). Also comes with 2 dumplings on the side!

What is iBento?

iBento is a small family run restaurant located on 235A College Street; right across the UofT Bookstore. They serve Korean as well as Japanese dishes ranging from bulgogi to sushi bento boxes. Although this place is mostly grab-and-go there are a few individual seats, about five in the style of counter-seats. They’ve got a nice radio station and bento boxes come with a free bowl of warm, hearty miso soup. Green tea is also sold for a dollar a cup.

Taste: 8.3/10

Compared to the other Asian dishes served on UofT campus such as Spring Rolls on the Go, iBento beats it by far. So far I’ve tried the bulgogi bento box (pictured above) and the spicy chicken rice plate (S2 combo). Both meat portions had a fresh aroma and there was a limited amount of oils/fats. One of the biggest meal-breakers for me is saltiness. When I taste excess salt, I can’t help but think of the possibility that they prepared their meals with MSG (monosodium glutamate- look this up if you don’t know what it is!). iBento’s meals are flavourful in it’s own unique style.

Although it’s prepared quickly, it’s taste is nowhere near that of fast food. After consuming fast food, I feel groggy and to be honest, less efficient than I usually am. When it comes to iBento I feel fueled and ready to get going!

Price: 7.4/10

For it’s quality taste, iBento’s prices are extremely reasonable. The bulgogi bento box was around 12 dollars while the spicy chicken rice meal was about 6 dollars. The portions, however, are a bit smaller than average. I have a small appetite when it comes to lunch but I’m able to finish these entire meals. Not only am I able to have a tasty, hearty meal for lunch, I’m also able to go on the rest of my day without feeling the guilt of trashing my leftovers.

Convenience: 8.1/10

Right around the corner of College and Huron, iBento is a convenient place for those with classes situated near College St. So if you’ve got class in Con Hall (like me!) or the engineering buildings, Galbraith or Bahen this is definitely a go to place! Continue reading blogUT Eats: iBento Review

Study Spotlight: Noranda Earth Sciences Library

The view of the Noranda Earth Sciences Library from its second floor
The inside view of the Noranda Earth Sciences Library from its second floor

And.. we’re back with Study Spotlight! Last time I reviewed Knox College’s Caven Library ( check out the hyperlink!) For the second post, I’ll be reviewing the Noranda Earth Sciences Library located on 5 Bancroft Avenue.

Where is the Earth Sciences Library?

The Noranda Earth Sciences Library is a little gem situated on the second floor of the Earth Sciences Buildings. If you’re like me and know absolutely nothing about this area, it’s basically a collection of closely spaced buildings that all fall under the UofT code of ES (you may be familiar with ES 1050, the auditorium many first year courses are held in). Once you enter through the front doors, there’ll be a sign to direct you to the library through the next flight of stairs.

The Noranda Earth Sciences Library is also cornered between New College (that’s my college, holla!) and the McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Quietness: 8.1/10

For a library, it is quiet but it’s definitely not the most quiet library I’ve been to; there’s no harm in a library that isn’t completely silent though! I feel comfortable breathing, sneezing, coughing and occasionally whispering to my peers. A chill environment to be in.

Spot Availability: 8.6/10

Not a lot of students know about this little library so I can always count on there being a seat for me. There are both individual studying cubicles (on the second floor) as well as a number of group study tables (on the ground floor).

Resources (computer specific): 7/10

I’m not taking any courses in the Earth Sciences disciple so I haven’t (or will ever) use the books but there does seem to be a vast selection. There’s also a good amount of computers available for use which I have used previously. The computers are spaced enough so that each individual has their own space to take/annotate notes on a sheet of paper whilst using the computer.

Aesthetic: 8.3/10

The Noranda Earth Science Library definitely has that retro vibe to it with its dulled polychromatic colour scheme of purple and green. The floors are all carpeted and the furniture is made of a light-coloured wood. But there are two aspects of it that make the library visually appealing: the architecture and sunlight (see photo above).

The library is round with “two storeys”. So on the first floor, you have your computers and group study tables while on the second floor, you have your independent studying cubicles with a flight of stairs to bridge the two. The design creates a dynamic within this small library with the ground floor having a sound threshold higher than that of the second floor.

Because of the location and round design of the library, it is enveloped by a panel of windows allowing maximum sunlight to enter. Nothing’s better than a good dose of Vitamin D!

Overall: 8.2/10

The Noranda Earth Sciences Library is definitely one of my go-to libraries when I’m in the area. It may take a bit of time to initially find it, but it’s definitely worth it. A quiet secluded place to study.

For more information, visit

Bonus: the Earth Sciences building also has a green house open for student viewing!

UC Follies’ AGAMEMNON Review

The UC Follies’ adaptation of Agamemnon held onto the core values of the original play. To quote the artistic producer, Agamemnon “explores gender and power”,  and incorporated the devotion to Greek gods and the seduction and destruction of war.

There is a clear disregard of a woman’s value throughout the play, especially between the chorus and the Queen, Clytemenstra. They honour her, but only in the King’s absence (a 10 year absence, and still they resent a woman in power). They say she’s “like wax, too easily softened”. Even the king, upon his return, says “A woman who fears nothing, is she a woman?” Well, to answer your question Agamemnon: hell yes.We think all women can relate to Clytemenstra with her sassy sarcastic adoration of her husband, and powerful defence of herself and her lost daughter (killed by her husband!). Continue reading UC Follies’ AGAMEMNON Review

Study Spotlight: Knox College’s Caven Library

classic photo of Knox College Walkway
A classic photo of the beautiful outdoor walkway at Knox College (59 St. George Street)

Introducing… Study Spotlight! Study Spotlight is a newly established series of blog posts focusing on different places to study. For the first post, I’ll be personally reviewing Knox College’s Caven Library.

What is Knox College?

Knox College runs from King’s College Circle to St. George Street, having entrances/exits to both. In a nut shell, it isn’t like the 7 other colleges offered at U of T. Although there are some graduate students affiliated with Knox, I can say there are no undergraduate students that are tied to it. Big difference already, right? Knox is also much smaller in size and resources: there’s a small kitchen for eating, and located upstairs is a small church and the library. To the left and right of the beautiful walkway photographed above, there are courtyards with benches and flowers.

Quietness: 9.2/10

It’s incredibly quiet. Each time I come back, I feel guilty for pulling the zippers on my backpack, pencil and tablet case. There’s little whispering and the noise from outside doesn’t find its way in. The library itself is pretty small so there aren’t any doors for people to constantly open and close. The entire college is actually pretty quiet thanks to the silence-enforcing admins.

Spot Availability: 8.7/10

The library isn’t very packed. I guess it has a a lot to do with the fact that not a lot of people know about this gem. Out of the many times I’ve visited, I can always find a spot. Seats are organized in trios with a couple of the larger study group tables situated near the front desk.

Resources: ??

I’ve never used any of the library’s resources except for their WiFi. There seems to be a lot of books, but all probably specific to the graduate programs they offer at Knox. There are also a couple of computers for use; probably about nine.

Aesthetic: 8.5/10

If the above photo wasn’t enough to make you like Knox, maybe this will help:


The Caven Library has most of its furniture made of wood and the floors are all carpeted. The ceiling is raised high, with a set of chandeliers hanging. The lights definitely illuminate a warm cast on the library with little sunlight penetrating through the windows.

Overall: 8.7./10

As a life science student, Knox is a really convenient place for me to hang around. It’s close to where all my classes are: the convocation hall, medical sciences building, sid smith, etc. I can have lunch either in the walkway (if I can find a seat and it’s warm enough) or in their small kitchen. And of course, I can do my favourite thing there too: study!!!

For more information, visit

Restoration of my faith in shawarma- Habeebee shawarma



For all my arab friends out there, and all my non-arab, but arab-food-loving friends: I have been trying to find a decent shawarma and falafel place since I’ve landed in Canada, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Many a times I’ve ordered a shawarma wrap, hoping to see the meat being shaved off the stack with a large knife or a small circular saw, dropped to a circular tray below, retrieved and placed into the familiar flat, arabic bread and finally decorated with a party of cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, pickles, rhubarb and cabbage.
What I do end up with, however, is a grilled chicken/meat sandwich where the chicken/meat is sliced up (decievingly) into shawarma-looking slices. As an arab, personally, I cannot emphasise enough on how much Toronto has ruined shawarma for me.

After months of trying fake shawarmas from random food places, getting disappointed (or worse; getting sick) I found a tiny fast-food restaurant that secretly hides behind the harbourfront theatre at 218 Queens Quay W- ‘Habeebee’s shawarma’, or, more commonly known as ‘Shawarma Guys’ is the ‘quick and good’ type, where the service is quick and the food is delicious. Located in the lower level of a retail space and kept out of sight by Pizza Pizza, Subway and Quiznos, the Shawarma Guys is a great alternative to your typical fast food.

Beef or chicken shawarmas will run you about $5, with falafel under $4. The meat is pretty good, and I would personally recommend avoiding the iceberg lettuce and cheap tomatoes. Instead, load them up with radishes, banana peppers, and Frank’s Red Hot for a tasty time.

There isn’t much room inside, but the food is worth it. I would reccommend getting yourself a shawarma or two, coupled with some of their mouth-watering poutines, and chilling with some friends at the Toronto Lake, playing Taboo or cards, watching people walk along with their dogs, or just enjoying the semi-good weather while it lasts.

Why Jackie Brown is Seriously Underrated

Jackie Brown movie poster (1997)

Most people have heard of Quentin Tarantino – the genius mind behind films like Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and Kill Bill I and II. Tarantino’s style of directing is one that many people love – his glorification of violence, satirization of serious topics and non-linear narrative define his new genre of film combining concepts from great historical films to cheesy little known works. He’s often considered one of the greatest directorial minds of our time, as he is not afraid to push boundaries and always crafts something completely original and exciting. He’s a film buff’s dream and never ever falls short of perfection.

Now most of us have seen his amazing and popular films like Resevoir Dogs and Inglorious Basterds, but my all time favourite Tarantino film is one that came out in 1997 called, Jackie Brown. I seriously love this movie. I watch it at least once a week and every time I reel in it’s perfection.

Like all of Tarantino flicks, there are tons of amazing movie stars depicted in relatable and real world ways, but the main difference in this movie is that the main characters were actually washed up actors that nobody had taken notice to in in years. The title character, Jackie Brown, was played by the amazing Pam Grier. In the 70’s Grier, starred in many Blaxploitation movies, which were overtly sexual and would now be considered a Black stereotype. During that time, she was widely renowned as a sex symbol, but after the fall of the popularity of Blaxploitation movies and the end of disco, her career soon fell flat. Her male counterpart, was played by Robert Forester. He was in two acclaimed supporting roles that got him quite noticed in the late sixties, in Reflections in a Golden Eye and The Stalking Moon. After he took a few TV roles in the seventies, his career had dried up as well.

The premise of the film is essentially how Jackie Brown, a middle aged flight attendant, is caught for smuggling money and drugs into US for her arms dealing boss, Ordell Robbie (Jackson). In order to avoid jail time, she begins working with the police in order to bring in the rest of the money Robbie has stashed in Mexico. She brilliantly plays the police and Robbie against each other in order for her to get out, and get out fast – but not without the help of her trusty compadre Max Cherry (Forester), a bail bondsman. I know that may not sound too exciting but the film is such an amazing throwback. It is in the style of a Blaxploitation film but is so unique because it has elements of modern society in it as well. The music is amazing and each scene is brilliantly crafted, it is such a joy to watch. I find it captures reaching middle age in a way we usually don’t see in Hollywood cinema.

Tarantino prodded the two out of their early retirement and set them among an amazing cast of Samuel L Jackson, Robert de Niro, Michael Keaton and a young Chris Tucker. The movie didn’t set the box offices on fire, but it did alright, even with it’s star studded cast. This is also seriously one of my favorite de Niro performances, right up there with Cape Fear, Awakening and Goodfellas. He plays a bumbling, middle-aged, ex-con who is just getting back into the game. It’s an unusual role for de Niro, who is usually given roles of power, but in this film he’s just Robbie’s (Jackson) friend and hired help.

I’m not sure what gives this movie it’s magic and lasting ability to make you think – the lead actors are fantastic, Jackie Brown is able to convey her feelings with just one expression – it’s all in her eyes and her subtle expressions. Forester is a great counterpart whose depiction of an aging, humble man allows for a lot of connection. The film also has a lot of appropriate twists and was just so real and honest. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but usually in a heist movie there is one big main conflict during the heist – the characters get over it and blah blah blah the movie ends. But in Jackie Brown, there are so many little things that go wrong (some of them you may miss when you first watch) and Jackie handles them with such authenticity, it is a joy to see her tackle a load of obstacles. The theme of girl power is common with this film as well as many others.

This film revitalized Grier’s and Forester’s careers, as well as made Bridget Fonda a household name after her success in The Godfather Part III. Even Samuel L Jackson stated this movie as his favourite Tarantino movie. So far, it’s up there on my list too. I think the real reason it’s not as well known as his other films is because of the lack of star power in the lead roles – but their performances are anything but lacking. It’s subtle, creative and exciting – just an amazing honest depiction of a woman’s struggle to make it in this world. So go home, get on Netflix, and watch Jackie Brown – sucka.