New Thing #185: Jack Layton Memorial

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I wasn’t always the greatest fan of Jack Layton’s decisions as leader of the NDP but that never stopped me from admiring the man. He was likeable, dammit, and in an honest way. Not something I usually say about a politician. No matter what stickiness he might have to throw himself into, he was Canadian through and through.

My personal dealings with Jack were few. He came to the door campaigning at a friend’s house while I was in the back eating chili. I’m pretty sure he was wandering around Taste of the Danforth one time I was there as well. But what I’ll always remember is the East York Canada Day Parade.

Up until this year, without fail, he’d march in our rinky dink parade up Woodbine Avenue. The leader of the NDP would make sure to walk (or bike) along side the Cub Scouts and Shriners up to the park where he’d talk to anyone who wanted to. He didn’t stay in Ottawa or find a bigger celebration in town to go to; he stayed with the people who had shown their support for him in the first place. I respected the hell out of him for that.

And now that Jack’s gone it’s easy to see why Nathan Phillips Square has become a makeshift shrine to him. Everyone like me who’d never spoken to him, but always had something to say has come out to finally get it off their chest. Everyone who already had a connection with him did so too. Every inch of our city hall courtyard is covered in messages to Jack, his family and other hope filled Canadians. 

It’s been a while now since the first messages appeared and they’ve dulled in the sun and the rain. At first they’re barely visible until your eyes adjust to it. Then, as you walk up the ramp to overlook the entire square it sinks in. Thousands of messages and drawings stretch everywhere you can see. It’s overwhelming.

I’ve rarely felt such sadness and such joy at the same time. This city isn’t exactly known for it’s spontaneous comraderie, but when we come together it’s amazing. 

It fills me with hope, just as Jack said:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

RIP Jack.

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New Thing #184: P??tisserie La Cigogne

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Pâtisserie La Cigogne moved into the neighbourhood a little while ago, futher upping the ante for businesses in our little neck fo the Danforth. 

What used to be a decent Italian restaurant now boasts the most amazing pastries, cakes and breads. I know, because I had three of their desserts tonight, all of which were delightful. 

Ok, delighful doesn’t cut it but delectable is close. Ridiculously indulgent is closer.

The three I brought home to my very excited four year and happy wife were:

Intense
Dark Chocolate Mousse filled with Mixed Berry oCulis finished with a Dark Choclate Glaze

Prince Noir
Crispy Praline Crust, Roasted Hazelnut Coffee Butter Cream Dark Choclate Mousse

The Paradise
Orange Flavoured Choclated Mousse with Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée Filling

To say we were sated at the end of our tasting would be an understatement.

On top of the wonderful treats, the staff were very friendly. 

I just hope that the expansive nature of the building isn’t too much of a burden for this bakery. I’d hate to see it go away.

New Thing #183: Eat a Plumcot

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I love plums, but never seem to remember to pick them up when they’re in season. I’m also a fan of apricots, which I’m also delinquent on obtaining during the summer. So when I saw a plumcot sitting in the produce aisle I scooped one into my cart.

After a little poking around on the internet I found out that it’s a Dapple Dandy variety with red spotted skin and red juicy flesh. Emphasis on juicy. Don’t try to eat one of these in a lunch meeting type of juicy.

My only problem with the plumcot is that I didn’t buy more than one.

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New Thing #182: Cycraft VR Racing Game

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Every year, one of Audrey’s friends has her birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. And although it’s great to see her run around like a crazy person for four hours it tends to wear you out. And by wear you out, I mean makes you want to kill yourself.

So I took a little daddy time and tried out their Cycraft VR Racing Game contraption. And it was awesome.

Not only did I get over three and a half minutes of unprecedented video game value for a single token but I also got a workout.

The lurching, sliding and forced steering wheel feedback was so intense my arm muscles were strained by the end of it.

I never use the brake pedal when I’m racing so that probably had something to do with it.

My racing skills paid off though as I walked away victorious only to get another workout chasing a four year around the place for another half hour.

No I wonder how much one of those would cost for home…

New Thing #181: Play Magic The Gathering

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In highschool, while all the other geeks were busy gathering together Magic decks and dueling for their very souls, I focused my energies elsewhere: euchre.

Apart from the game seeming practically inpenetrable to a new player, it would have jeopardized my already minimal chances of ever getting laid even further. So I skipped it and stuck to ruining my OAC Finite Math grade by spending all my time in the caf trying to go alone in spades.

But after playing Munchkin a while back and enjoying that card battling game so much, I thought I’d give Magic a try. I had a few XBox credits lying around and picked up Majic The Gathering: Duels of the Planewalkers. What’s nice about trying the game on a console is that you can’t be judged by the person playing with you. What’s not so nice is how many rules you have to learn yourself in so little an amount of time. I played for a couple of hours and have the basics down, but there’s still so much that I don’t understand. 

But now that I’ve tried it, I wouldn’t mind sitting down with some real people and playing. The creature and spell cards are beautifully illustrated (the one thing that almost pushed me over to playing in highschool) and I love the interaction of playing face-to-face. Plus, I’m married now, so that getting laid bit isn’t as much of a worry.

New Thing #180: Maracame Aged Tequila

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In an effort to extend my stay in Mexico just a little more I picked up a bottle of Maracame tequila at the Cancun airport today.

The nice man behind the counter agreed that the Gold Patron I was planning on buying was quite good. But he gave me the eye and pointedly stated that it just isn’t Mexican. I felt like I was trying to order a single malt from Japan at The Feathers so I took his recommendation and got the aged Maracame. It really does remind me more of a fine scotch than any tequila I’ve ever had.

This one isn’t going anywhere near a margarita.

New Thing #179: Shuffleboard

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Shuffleboard is one of those terribly cliché boring games that I have ALWAYS wanted to play.

The resort we’re staying at has not one, but two shuffleboard courts.

It’s everything I love about bowling, darts and curling all rolled into one. If I could build a court in my back yard, I would.

I’m such a nerd.

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New Thing #178: Shoot on a Beach in Mexico

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Today I lived the dream of most advertising creatives: I shot a TV spot on a beach in Mexico.

And it couldn’t have gone better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go collapse at the bar with a cerveza in hand.

PS. If you’re ever in the situation of having to shoot in Mexico make sure to look up Tonic Films. There is absolutely now way that there is a finer production house in the country.

PPS. Since I mentioned Tonic Films I am legally bound to mention Sons & Daughters back in Toronto for everything they did and our director Christina Hodnet who made my job easy.

PPPS. Man, I’ve been up for a long time.

New Thing #177: Watch a Movie on the Beach

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One of the nice things at the resort we’re staying at in Tulum are the movies they show on the beach.

A makeshift screen is fashioned between sone palms and films are projected while the audience lounges on the sand.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy it for long, but there’s something fantastic about hearing the whoosh of the waves along side a movie’s soundtrack with the stars overhead.

It’s also unfortunate that said movie was the Karate Kid remake, but what are you going to do?

New Thing #176: Pablo Escobar’s Beach House

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When I found out that we were shooting a spot for one of our clients on a beach in Mexico, I never expected said beach to be attached to Pablo Escobar’s former beach house.

Of course it’s gone through some changes since then, most notably being turned into a cleansing spa retreat, but it’s still where the famous drug lord used to chill out. Of course I got the grand tour of the estate right away and although not extrememly impressive in size, it has a lot of nice little touches. Ok, I mostly just glommed onto the big bathtubs all over the place. You gotta wonder what kind of crazy shannagans they got up to in those things.

And now it’s on the market and could be yours for a cool $17 million. Girls not included.