Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 20 2015, Page 87

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 20, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE D12 MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS TOP: Ashley Wakely, dressed as her maid character Ichigo ( Strawberry), serves customers at Dwarf No Cachette Café. ABOVE: Restaurant owner Yasuko Akimoto with Wakely holding omurice ( chicken- fried rice draped with fried egg). On a recent Tuesday night in Winnipeg, Glenn Bailey and his 16- year- old daughter Kaelyn were trying to decide where to go for supper. The pair was “ thinking Japanese.” They reached for Bailey’s phone and started poring through online restaurant reviews. After a few minutes, they settled on Dwarf No Cachette Café, in part because of its quirky moniker and also because so many people praised the St. Boniface locale’s take on dishes such as ramen and okonomiyaki. What comments neglected to mention, however, is as of April, Dwarf No Cachette Café has operated as a full- on maid café every Tuesday. Bailey and Kaelyn arrived there at 8: 30 p. m. They were greeted at the door by a petite brunette with long bangs wearing a pastel- coloured maid’s outfit. The hostess, who introduced herself as Ichigo — “ That’s Japanese for strawberry,” she explained — clasped her hands together, bowed, then led them to a table for two. Bailey’s initial thought: “ Uh, what the heck is going on here, exactly?” After they were seated, Kaelyn — an anime fan who, despite being somewhat familiar with maid cafés, had no idea one existed in Winnipeg — ordered takoyaki, which her server/ maid described as dumplings stuffed with bits of octopus. Bailey opted for curry rice and an appetizer listed on the menu as Shake Shake Fries. “ When our maid brought the fries out, she asked me what kind of seasoning I wanted,” Bailey says. “ Then, as she was shaking ( the seasoning) onto them, she did this little presentation that consisted of a Japanese song and dance. “ I was like, ‘ Hey, I’m always open to new experiences so sure, why not? Bring it on.’ ” Yasuko Akimoto and her husband, Takekuni, opened Dwarf No Cachette Café at 157 Provencher Blvd. last July. ( Asked about her resto’s peculiar tag for perhaps the gazillionth time, Akimoto says it roughly translates into “ hiding place of dwarves” — a reference to the dozens of colourful gnomes and sprites discreetly positioned on shelves and sills throughout the cheery, well- lit room, which used to house highly regarded Step’N Out Sur Le Boulevard.) Akimoto moved to Winnipeg from Tokyo 16 years ago to study linguistics at the University of Manitoba. Every summer she would return home to see friends and family. One of the things she liked to do most during her visits was hook up with buddies at different maid cafés. “ There is no such thing as tipping a waitress in Japan. But that doesn’t matter, the service is still best. And in maid cafés, even more so,” Akimoto says. “ Going to a maid café isn’t just about eating dinner. You engage in conversation ( with your maid); one of her main jobs is to entertain you... it’s very much a social outing.” Akimoto toyed with the idea of turning her business into a maid café from time to time, as a nod to Winnipeg’s anime community. In March, one of her waitresses — Ashley Wakely, who studied in Japan for 10 months before graduating high school — asked her boss if that plan was ever going to see the light of day. “ After I said yes, she kept asking me, ‘ When? When?’ ” Akimoto says. On April 14, Dwarf No Cachette Café hosted its inaugural maid café event — a happening that, after it was announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page, was greeted with comments along the lines of “ YEsss!!!,” “ Whoaaaaa” and “ Go with me to this... SOMEBODY!!!” “ We have three seatings: 2 p. m. to 5 p. m., 5 p. m. to 8 p. m. and 8 p. m. to 11 p. m.,” Akimoto says. “ So far, the late slot has been the most popular — fully booked, every time.” When we attended, maid café night went something like this: for the first hour, maids ( including Wakely) hustled people’s orders back and forth from the kitchen. If they hadn’t been wearing frilly lace tiaras — or if an entire table of guests hadn’t shown up disguised as characters from the video game Halo — maybe, just maybe, we might have thought we were grabbing a bite at any of another 100 sushi palaces around town. During the second hour, as diners were finishing up their main courses, the three maids invited willing participants to the front of the room to compete in a winner- take- all tournament of rock- paper- scissors. The back section of Dwarf No Cachette Café is a gift shop, loaded with goodies imported from the Land of the Rising Sun. Winners of the tourney were able to choose prizes, such as Hello Kitty key chains or Pokémon pencils. Finally, after a victor was declared, the three maids performed a 20- minute dance routine, lipsyncing along to a soundtrack described by a person seated next to us as “ anime’s greatest hits.” “ That last song was called Hare Hare Yukai ; it’s from the show The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya ,” says Cassidy Allison, 20, who showed up dressed as Hina Kagiyama, a character from The Touhou Project , a popular video game series. ( Whispering so she doesn’t disturb the singing and dancing maids, Allison tells us she has so many costumes at home, she now devotes an entire closet to them.) This was Allison’s fourth visit to Dwarf No Cachette Café. The first time, she was accompanied by members of the Winnipeg Anime Club, an organization involved in local events such as Chibi- Con and Keycon. “ Anybody who is fond of Japanese culture is very familiar with things like maid cafés,” she says. “ When I was younger, I always had aspirations there would be one in Winnipeg someday, so I was super excited when I found out it was finally going to happen. “ But even without the maids, this place would still be ridiculously adorable. I absolutely love it; with all the charms and trinkets and stuff, you really think you’re in Akihabara.” To find out more about Dwarf No Cachette’s maid café events, visit its Facebook page. david. sanderson@ freepress. mb. ca D12 left turn intersection CONTINUED FROM D11 SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 2015 PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS I N an early scene in Jurassic World — which opened last weekend, 22 years after Jurassic Park , the ground- shaking original — one of the characters talks about dinosaur fatigue. This is partly a complaint — I mean, what is wrong with you people that you could get tired of dinosaurs? — and partly a strategic admission that any Jurassic movie sequel will need more dinosaurs, more spectacle, more action and more yummy, yummy park visitors to grab and keep our attention. We do get more dinos in this fourth outing, and those dinos are meaner, faster, smarter and bigger. Especially bigger. So why are we all focusing on the tiny detail of Bryce Dallas Howard’s footwear? Howard’s character, Claire Dearing, spends the entire movie in high heels. Positioned as an uptight, undersexed corporate workaholic — she’s senior assets manager for the dinosaurfilled theme park — Claire wanders through the dense Costa Rican jungle, fleeing from terrible lizards and hate- flirting with raptor- whisperer Owen Grady ( played by Chris Pratt), all while wearing a rather unremarkable pair of buff- coloured pumps. This offbeat fashion choice has unleashed a social media typhoon of pro- heel and anti- heel controversy. Do the heels make Claire seem capable or just kooky, powerfully feminine or stupidly vulnerable? Are they a negligible minor element or the sartorial encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with the movie? And finally, why have high heels become Jurassic World ’s talking point, instead of those ( totally badass) raptors? Partly, it’s about timing. The Jurassic World perma- pump controversy comes on the heels, so to speak, of a real- world incident at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival in which women were thrown off the red carpet for wearing flats. Heelgate, as it was called, got people talking about the punishing standards of female fashion. Of course, most of the Jurassic heel- haters aren’t going after heels, per se. For them, Claire’s footwear symbolizes a larger issue, specifically the movie’s “ woman problem.” Even before Jurassic World opened, the trailers had some fans nervous about what appeared to be Paleolithic gender politics. Well- known geek/ feminist Joss Whedon weighed in. Sure enough, when we first meet Claire, she’s too busy worrying about profit margins and corporate sponsorships to spend any time with her sister’s children, who’ve been sent to the island to distract them from their parents’ divorce. Workobsessed, non- nephew- nurturing, Claire is a classic corporate bitch character, and it sometimes seems as if the whole dinosaurs- run- amok disaster has been engineered to teach her life lessons about the importance of love and family. Most reviews of Jurassic World suggest the dinosaurs are awesome — absolutely awesome! — but the humans not so much. It does seem unfortunate the most rounded, complex and sympathetic female character in the movie is a velociraptor named Blue. How can poor Claire compete? First off, Blue has been engineered not to breed and therefore doesn’t have to make the tragic choice between chilly, childless career success and happy, fulfilled motherhood. Secondly, Blue has a lot more sexual chemistry with Owen. Claire also comes off as flat when compared with Dr. Ellie Sattler, the up- for- anything paleobotanist played by Laura Dern in the first film. The Jurassic movie franchise runs on nostalgia. It’s hard not to look at stiff, brittle, joyless Claire and her corporate clipboard, impractical white skirt and high heels without longing for Ellie, who wore work boots and khaki and whose only accessory was that amazingly mobile Laura Dern mouth. Even though Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it’s more woman- positive than Jurassic World . Claire isn’t just running in heels: she’s running backwards in heels. Still, there are points to be made on the pro- heel side. Complaining that Claire’s shoes are unrealistic feels silly in a movie that’s set in a dinosaur theme park. This is a franchise founded on the idea that you can reconstitute long- extinct dinos using preserved mosquitos and a couple of patches of frog DNA. If you’re fretting about implausibility, more flagrant examples would include a guy on a motorcycle hunting with a pack of raptors, or a mosasaur eating a pteranodon eating an incompetent personal assistant in a handy three- inone demonstration of the Jurassic World food chain. Other fans feel Claire’s footwear demonstrates an admirable consistency. Most of us would have given in at some point — maybe when that tyrannosaurus rex was bearing down on us — and gone barefoot or at least downgraded to kicky flats. Claire persists, with a kind of impractical, single- minded magnificence, in being who she is: a highpowered dino park executive having a really bad day. Howard, as an actor, also commits completely to the shoes. The 34- year- old redhead manages, with impeccable posture, faultless form and what must be almost superhuman ankle strength, to make her high- heeled fleeing seem sure- footed and purposeful. ( In contrast with Pratt, who tried to diffuse anti- heel feeling on The Late, Late Show by donning red pointy pumps and turning in some flappy, tip- toe, runninglike- a- girl comic shtick.) Finally, there’s something rather endearing about the shoes themselves. They’re not fabulous killer heels. They’ve not kinky boots or weaponized stilettos or sexy statement slingbacks. They’re just closed- toe, mid- height pumps with an earnest corporate- compromise feel. Ultimately, the shoes feel a bit too modest for all the media attention they’re getting. They can bear Howard’s weight, all right, but they can’t quite carry the load of all this Jurassic controversy. alison. gillmor@ freepress. mb. ca IF THE SHOE FITS, RUN FROM DINOSAURS IN IT BY ALISON GILLMOR D_ 12_ Jun- 20- 15_ FF_ 01. indd D12 6/ 18/ 15 5: 57: 58 PM

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