New Thing #246: Devil Sticks


Devil Sticks are super cool. I have always been in awe of people who know what they’re doing with the things. More than anything else they’re capable of, I have always wanted to snap the roller into the air and catch it on its way back down.

As is usually the case with things that look easy, they really aren’t.

After about an hour I managed to mostly get the hang of sliding it from one end of the string to the other. But my depth perception constantly failed me in the landing department.

I wish I was fourteen again and it was my summer vacation so I could just stand around and practice for a month.

These things are just plain fun and, surprisingly, they didn’t frustrate me like I’d expect them to. Hopefully I’ll have time to pull them out during the next batch of good weather we get.


New Thing #245: Non-alcoholic Beer


I can’t say that I’m surprised at how lackluster non-alcoholic beer tastes. To quote Billy Bob Thornton: it’s like mashed potatoes without the gravy.

And after a wonderful prime rib dinner it’s a pretty crappy way to end the evening. Luckily I have the real deal on hand as well. Thanks for being there whenever I need you the most Steam Whistle Breweries.

New Thing #244: Public School Movie Night



Tonight was another one of those new “dad” things for me; the whole family hiked over to the school gymnasium and watched Monsters Inc. together.

It might be that I’ve gotten used to never having a moment’s peace, but I had a terrific time watching the movie even amongst a hundred screaming and restless children. But maybe that’s what made it even better, hearing the little screams at the scary parts quickly followed by deep laughter.

When we got there, Audrey immediately ran off to sit with her school friends, and made me realize just how fast she’s growing up. Shauna and I sat down in the universally uncomfortable grey plastic school issued chairs made for people without circulation to their bums. But they gave us popcorn, so that smoothed things out.

And for a while it was almost like we were out to see a movie on a Friday night again. And a damned good one. I forgot just how great a film Monsters Inc is. And apart from a few minutes of a rather frightening chase scene, Audrey had a great time too. 

I’d include a picture of us all together, but Audrey was very restless, hungry and, well, grumpy as all get out before we could snap anything half cute.

New Thing #243: Watch Piranha 3D



Piranha 3D, you had me at Richard Dreyfus.

That being said, this movie was tailor made for me. I really wanted to see it when it was in the theatre but never managed to. When I saw it used, on Bluray no less, for $6 today I knew I had to pick it up.

I love schlocky horror, and schlocky horror films involving things that eat you in the water are my favourite. I have a not-so-secret affinity for Deep Blue Sea and I’ll never tire of seeing those jaws float towards me at the end of the third Jaws. This is probably due to the fact that my parents exposed me to both Jaws and the original Piranha at a pretty young age. It’s also why I love sharks, yet am terrified to be in the water alone.

But this movie one ups every bad, H20 ridden movie I’ve ever seen. At times it borders on soft-core pornography while hitting “Snakes on a Plane” level ludicrousness at just about every other moment. 

Oh, and it has Elizabeth Shue in it. Need I say more?

I can not wait to see the sequel, which is of course titled: Piranha 3DD.


New Thing #242: Erdinger Dunkel


Given that I’m one generation removed from Germany it’s no surprise that I adore German beers. And Erdinger is my favorite.

How I had no knowledge of the dark variety’s existence is a mystery.

It’s sweet, a little spicy and extremely smooth. And the bottle and label are just beautiful. Now if I could only find it on tap somewhere in Toronto I’d be set.

New Thing #241: The Urban Eatery



Let’s start by admitting that calling your new mall food court an “Urban Eatery” is pretentious as all get out.

So it’s lucky for them that the new food court layout at the Toronto Eaton Centre is so damned awesome.

And huge. Absolutely ginormous, really.

Gone are the decrepit little counters from before, replaced by elegantly designed, open concept proprietors of every cuisine imaginable.

Shauna and I grabbed crêpes, but we could have eaten sushi, Indian, burgers, sandwiches, Thai or Vegan food just to name a few.

There’s washing stations where you can rinse your hands in a raised basin. Employees man the waste stations, eagerly shuttling used plates to be cleaned. Food is served on china with real cutlery and there’s seating everywhere. There were hundreds of people eating at lunch, yet we had no trouble finding a place to sit.

I never thought I’d be excited about a food court before, but they’ve really outdone themselves on this one. it almost makes going to the mall palatable.


New Thing #240: Kaffismi??ja ??slands’ Espresso


Sometimes a random happenstance really works out. 

Take my friend Stuart who recently went to Iceland on vacation. He was busy planning his trip when I came across a blog post by my friend Liz about the best places to get coffee in Reykjavik. So, of course, I passed the link along.

And wouldn’t you know it, Stuart brought me back a bag of Kaffismiðja Íslands’ own blend of beans. What a nice fella that Stuart is.

They’re simply wonderful. Not a hint of bitterness and extremely smooth and silky. If it weren’t so damned far away, this would definitely replace the Intellgentsia variety I usually keep on hand.

And yes, it even beats the beans I roasted myself.


New Thing #239: Listen To Justin Bieber



Through a varsity of measures and precautions I have diligently avoided Bieber Fever for the past few years.

Unless his music was playing somewhere in the background or I skipped past it on the radio after a few seconds, I have never actively listened to a single one of his songs.

But fate wasn’t playing fairly with me today. As I arrived at the observation deck of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill (ready to shoot some beautiful pictures of Ottawa for my blog) I got the message from my father I’d been dreading.

I’d asked earlier, just in case, if I’d gone up there with them as a kid. And yep, they did. And that breaks the rules of this little endeavor so I had to think of something quick.

With a four hour drive ahead of me I was desperate, and wouldn’t you know it but rdio had a little Justin Bieber available to listen to. Confined, alone in the car, I figured I could force myself get through an entire album.

“My World 2.0” isn’t the worst album ever made and young Mr. Bieber (or Justin Beaver as my daughter calls him…and insists is actually a girl) is a talented vocalist.

But the entire experience just had me picturing a Mini Pops album that was taking itself way to seriously. And boy does that kid have a hard on for hugging, holding hands and buying things for his girl.

Yeah. This was a weird one.

New Thing #238: Eat a Beaver Tail


Before I actually saw one, I figured a Beaver Tail was sort of like a flat funnel cake. I was wrong. Completely wrong.

It big, it’s light, it’s hot and it’s sugary. It’s the perfect treat to warm you up while walking around the capital on a cold, grey afternoon.


New Thing #237: The Works Burger



When I asked people where to go during my weekend in Ottawa, The Works burger shop came up. My friend Trent and I didn’t want anything too complicated for dinner so we drove across town for a tasty burger.

And man that was a tasty burger, but way too much for me.

I managed to scarf down about 3/4 of my burger topped with Brie, pear and caramelized onions. The 16oz measuring cup full of cherry coke float probably had something to do with that though.

The selection was outrageous, including one with peanut butter and another with Kraft Dinner. I almost got one with beets and a fried egg on top but cooler heads prevailed.

My only regret is not getting the home made potato chips. They looked fantastic on other people’s plate on the way out.