New Thing #83: Cook a Lobster

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Since I was a little kid I’ve loved lobster, even though my dad tricked me into chewing on the antennae.

So tonight, after a surprise sale at Loblaws and some soul-searching I condemned two lobsters to death. Delicious, delicious death.

The biggest upside to eating lobster at home? Not being embarrassed to pull out a pair of RoboGrips to get ‘er done.

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New Thing #82: Rock Climbing

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Well, that was awesome.

My friends Karen and Jeff are avid rock climbers and have been pestering me to climb with them almost since the first time we met. Lucky for them I needed no pestering. I’ve always wanted to do this.

So tonight Jeff brought me with him to Rock Oasis to climb with a bunch of his climbing posse.

They were great teachers out of the gate, friendly and best of all, encouraging.

I felt a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t had in years as I finally made it to the top of my fifth and final wall of the night. Half way to the top, when I was ready to give up, Jeff’s friend Kasha made me keep going. I really thank her for that.

Once I was over that hurdle I knew I could get to the top, (arms trembling, brow soaked and fingers quivering) no matter what.

Now if someone can come over around lunch time tomorrow and feed me through a straw I think I’ll be in good shape.

New Thing #81: Fr??li Strawberry Beer

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As I said in a previous post, I do enjoy a good fruity beer. Thankfully, unlike my previous post I just had one: Früli strawberry beer from Belgium.

There is no mistaking the fruit stylings of this beer when you crack it open. The smell of fresh strawberries really hits you right away. Combined with the rich amber colour, it makes for a very enticing pour.

And boy does it ever taste like strawberries. It can be a bit overpowering, and I wouldn’t recommend sitting down to drink a pint of it, but a nice 250ml bottle on a patio in the summer would just be amazing.

New Thing #80: Howard The Duck

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The year was 1986 and for the at least 6 months the poster for Howard the Duck had been stuck to my wall. I couldn’t wait. Something in that one sheet had set my imagination ablaze. I mean look at it: an egg with a giant protruding duckbill, a cigar hanging loosely from it with titles set almost exactly like Indiana Jones. How could any 11 year old boy not be thrilled at what was coming August 1st?

To say that I was looking forward to that Friday was possibly the understatement of my childhood. And then it all went horribly, horribly wrong. I did something so terrible that I can’t even remember exactly what it was. The outcome however was my parents leaving me at home with my grandfather while they saw the movie without me. I was crushed. For the next three hours I cried, I kicked, threw my room apart and ultimately wore myself down to sleep. 

Tonight, nearly 25 years later I finally got to see Howard the Duck. 

What a fucking turd.

New Thing #79: DavidsTea

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Let’s face it, this springtime in Toronto sucks. And spending an afternoon outside in the freezing drizzle for a photo shoot did not make for a comfortable day away from the office.

Thankfully the shoot went great (I love working with Philip Rostron) and it was located across from DavidsTea.

Yes, I drink a lot of espresso publicly, but I’m more of a tea drinker at home so it seemed the perfect place to warm up on a miserable day.

And it was wonderful. I was immediately greeted with a sample of some chocolate-mint tea (which I bought a bag of), then guided through a variety of spicy citrus flavours that I was in the mood to drink.

While I waited for my oolong to steep I admired the vibrant, yet minimalist design of the shop. The line of colour coded canisters behind the counter breathed life into the white walled room. Enticing gift displays peppered the space in the back while a few tables occupied the front of the store.

Two hours later and I was back inside ordering a sensational Crème Brulée roibus.

New Thing #78: See My Friend Stew

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Now this might seem odd to some people, but I have a good friend in Los Angeles, California that I’ve never technically met. His name is Bill, but I call him Stew. We’ll get to that in a minute.

We met a bit over 5 years ago playing a game called Perfect Dark Zero. My friend Tom and I were playing multiplayer on a map called Tower and had a cool guy called Bstew on our side. It quickly became apparent that he wasn’t one of the swarms of 12 year olds spouting nonsense in our ears. We also realized that we shared the same sensibilities about games and music. But best of all, he was just there to have fun, a rare commodity on XBox Live.

But good old Stew lives in cyberspace for me. We talk to each other over headsets, keep track of each other on Facebook and regularly email. 

So today I finally FaceTimed good old Stew. We gave each other tours of our houses, he met the family and I showed him what I was cooking for dinner. Embarrassingly it was the most cliché thing I could be making from an American perspective: a maple-syrup glazed back bacon roast. I stand by my decision though, it was delicious.

It was a weird experience finally “meeting” Stew for the first time, it felt familiar and alien at the same time. But I’m glad I did, he’s still a cool dude who should come up to Canada on vacation sometime. If he does it in the next 10 months I can add “Buy Stew A Beer” to my new thing list.

PS. The only photo I snapped of our conversation was a terrible shot of Stew. But it was also a terrible one of me, so I chose to include it. Seemed only fair.

New Thing #77: Single Malt Cheddar

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For my daughter’s 4th birthday party today we thought we’d put a little cheese board together. I ventured out nice and early to The Art of Cheese on Kingston Road. I had a coupon for $20 worth of free cheese, yet still ended up walking out having spent and extra $40. But wow, was it ever worth it.

The star of the show was the Highland Chief Mature Cheddar and Single Malt Whisky. The whisky is strong but sweet, tempering the bite of the aged cheddar nicely. It’s creamy, bordering on spreadable and divine on a cracker.

It also trumps any piece of cheese I’ve bought in terms of price, but boy does it make a nice treat.

New Thing #76: Flash Strip Club

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I’m not exactly a prude when it comes to strip clubs (I’ve been to my share of stags and my ex-roomate had a penchant for Remingtons) but I don’t find myself in them very often. To be honest I find them pretty boring since it never seems like anyone involved is interested in being there in the first place.

But my friend Andrew convinced me to go to the new “members only” club Flash tonight which was a bit of a mixed experience.

Firstly, we had a couple of suprisingly, reasonably priced pints while we chatted. And chatted, and chatted. Problem was, there weren’t any dancers. 

Now call me old fashioned, but if I go to a bar that’s biggest pull is the giant brass pole sticking out of the stage, then I expect someone to be on it.

As I was about to leave a suitably fit young man finally found his way on stage. I must reiterate that I normally find these things dull…having grown up with the illusion that strippers actually made a performance out things. That they titillate the audience rather than just go through the motions. But this guy, whoa, this guy but on a show!

He climbed, spun around and gripped the pole like his life depended on it. He did handstands, and splits and other gymnastic feats. He eventually got fleetingly naked, but at that point it was entirely unnecessary. He was just purely entertaining.

I didn’t stick around to see if the rest of the dancers were as talented, but it gives me some hope that Flash is more than just your average skin joint in Toronto.

New Thing #75: The Grid

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Eye Magazine relaunched itself as The Grid today and as far as free city papers go, it’s alright. Actually, it seems better than alright. 

The design is quite nice; minimalist layouts, great photography and a focus on local neighbourhoods makes it feel fresh. It seems less political as well, which is refreshing.

The only thing that bugs me is the name. The Grid just doesn’t have any link to the soul of the city that they’re trying to represent. It’s a cold and lifeless moniker. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it feels like a misstep.

That being said, I’ll be picking this one up over Now from now on.

New Thing #74: Play Munchkin

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Munchkin might just be the best card game I’ve ever played. I thought you couldn’t best Killer Bunnies from that spot, but here we are. Sorry Karen and Jeff. 

Aside from the fact that I didn’t win (that honour went to my friend Tom) and that we spent most of the first hour with our noses buried in the rather lengthly rules, this game exceeded all my expections. Even with my wife betraying me out of the gate and on several other occasions. I’m happy to say she came in last – and by a long shot.

The night was filled with no end of putting the screws to the other players, wheeling and dealing and laughing our asses off at Steve Jackson’s hilarious card descriptions. And did I mention that Shauna lost? Bad?

I can’t wait to play again. And pick up a few expansion packs in the meantime. Now I have a couch to go sleep on, goodnight.

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