New Thing #328: Ribena

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I used to work with a British guy who always kept a bottle of Ribena black current concentrate at work. I’d often find him concocting a glass in the kitchen while I went about my own business there. Actually, that’s pretty much all I ever saw of him since he was perpetually glued to his computer screen. I can only imagine that the Ribena is what allowed him to so steadfastly work day-in and day-out, toiling away at his desk. Although I suppose that his being a super talented Art Director might have had something to do with it as well.

After all these years though, I realized that I had never actually tasted this magical elixir for myself. Maybe it’s because it’s hidden away high on the shelf here in North America, or maybe it’s because I never fancied myself a black-current type of a guy. In any case, I think I understand now. This stuff is great.

It’s sweet, but with a bit of sourness to it and a bottle goes a long way. Just two tablespoons of the stuff goes into a glass of water to transform it into something delicious. I think it would make a nice treat for my daughter at dinner as well. Or a nice pick me up in the morning to get those taste buds working.

Matthew May, you’ve made me a believer.

 

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New Thing #327: Drink Decaf

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So we cracked and got a Nespresso machine of yesterday. Of course the first thing I did was break into the supplied sample pack and drink three different blends. At 9:30pm. I think you can figure out where it went from there.

You see my conundrum after dinner tonight then. I really wanted to play with our new toy, but I didn’t want to have to roll into bed at 1am wide awake.

That’s when I realized that said sampler pack came with a dark, decaf blend. It was a few moments later that I realized I’ve never had a reason to try any decaffeinated brew before.

Since I’ve never liked drip coffee and I normally grab a cappuccino for a morning or afternoon pick me up, it’s just never come up.

Was it good? God, yes. Am I wired from it? Hell no. I honestly don’t think I even noticed a difference in taste.

This was a welcome surprise after all the negative press decaf has gotten over the years. I think I’m going to have to stock some of this for those late night espresso cravings I’m bound to have from now on.

New Thing #326: Listen to Fado

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I listen to the CBC at home a lot, and the traditional Portuguese music, Fado, keeps coming up again and again. So I thought I’d sit down and give it a listen today.

Unfortunately, this was a bad day to research something on the internet since Wikipedia has gone dark to protest SOPA.

Luckily though, with a little snooping, I was able to remember that Cristina Branco is the artist I keep hearing interviewed when it comes to the resurgence of Fado music in the world. 

It’s described as a mixture of jazz and the blues, mostly because of the melancholy nature of the songs. That might come across more if I actually spoke Portuguese though.

What does come across, at least from Cristina, is one magical voice. It’s rich, seductive and enthralling. This is the type of music that plays in my mind when I imagine cafes and cabarets in Paris before the war.

Sometimes I find it difficult to listen to things recorded in another language, but this is one of those occasions where the music really does transcend that.

If you have rdio, give her album Ulisses a try. It seemed to be the recording that kept popping up as the best introduction to Fado today.

 

New Thing #325: Glow In The Dark Ping Pong

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I attended a client party tonight at Spin, a ping pong social club in Toronto. Yes, there actually is such a thing.

Aside from having some fun playing table tennis throughout the night, it turns out that everything goes under the black light at 10:00pm. 

We didn’t get to play for long since out time on the tables had techincally run out an hour earlier, but the bit we did play was pretty damned fun. If you’ve ever bowled under black light you know the feeling. Everything becomes disembodied, and all you can focus on are the relevant pieces. 

It makes it both easier (being able to focus on the ball) and harder (not being able to judge the table) at the same time. 

If it weren’t so expensive, I’d love to get a bunch of people together and run a tournament some time.

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New Thing #324: Russell Peters

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Aside from hearing Russell Peters do a couple of radio interviews, I’ve never sat down and watched one of his performances before tonight. But, being a good Canadian I figured I have to support anyone from Brampton that’s actually gotten out of there and made it.

The weird thing is that his 2008 Red, White and Brown show is basically an hour of racist jokes, but somehow told in a way that doesn’t feel that way. It’s a conundrum, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. 

I guess it’s the fact that the jokes are more stereotypical observations rather than mean spirited, and it helps that the man just has a very nice “Canadianess” to him. 

I wouldn’t call him the funniest comedian I’ve ever seen, but it was still a pretty entertaining hour of comedy.

New Thing #323: The Golden Globe Awards

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Every year I look forward to The Oscars as a child looks forward to an abusive parent suddenly showing up at their piano recital. But every year I get burned so, so much.

But this year my wife suggested we watch The Golden Globe Awards, and I realized that I’ve never actually done that. And despite what everyone on Twitter seemed to think tonight, I found it rather enjoyable.

Unlike their big brother, The Golden Globe Awards don’t mire themselves in endless tributes, dance numbers and ridiculous set ups. Instead they fill everyone up with booze and give them a mic for two minutes. 

It’s snappy, fun and entertaining and if I had one complaint it’s that Ricky Gervais was only on for a total of, what seemed, seven minutes. But then again, he probably got paid a shit-ton of money to work for those seven minutes, so bravo Ricky.

Seriously folks, watch as they show the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency box containing Billy Crystal later this year and remember how fun tonight was. (Break-glass-incase-of-emergency prediction courtesy of Shauna Curtis…I give it even odds of happening.)

As an added bonus, we let Audrey stay up to watch the first half hour to see all the pretty dresses. You can get your daughter to play with all the dinosuars and robots in the world, but sequins seem to trump everything.

New Thing #322: Hot Buttered Rum

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I don’t know about you, but when I look at a stick of butter just about the last thing I think is that I should drop it into some rum and make a cocktail with it. But boy is that going to change after having a Hot Buttered Rum tonight.

It probably helps that I started with the wonderful Kraken spiced rum that I got for Christmas which, on its own, is pretty fantastic. But then when you add the spices and brown sugar to the mix it gets even better. Oh, and there’s that whole matter of a couple of tablespoons of butter that melt into a creamy froth when you add the hot water. 

It’s like hot chocolate for adults, which Audrey was rather upset about when she found out she couldn’t have any. Plus, I totally don’t have any clear mugs in my collection, a mistake I tend to rectify poste haste.

New Thing #321: Downton Abbey

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Downton Abbey proves, once again, that no-one knows acting better than the Brits.

You could easily mark this as a new thing based solely on the fact that I enjoyed a British period piece in the first place. Even Gosford Park, which I should have loved with it’s stellar cast and direction, couldn’t turn me. So the fact that I jumped at the screen when the episode was over, ready to watch the next one was quite a shock.

The show chronicles the lives of a British estate in 1912 from the servants perspective, to the royalty’s and back again. By the end of the first episode I was already invested in the lives of these people, both good and bad. And believe me, there’s a lot of stories intertwined here to keep track of, but they do a stellar job of keeping the audience up to speed.

I think I just found my favourite new series since Storage Wars…yuuuuuuuuuuuuup! (Please don’t judge me.)

 

New Thing #320: Grilled Cheese Hamburger

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When I found out that there’s a place near work that serves a hamburger with a grilled cheese for buns I was stupefied. Then curious. Then down right excited

bBreakfast on Charles near Bay is a little fast food joint that’s relatively to the area. Although the menu is a little daunting to order from, I ended up with a really juicy hamburger that happened to be sandwiched between the top and bottom of a grilled cheese. And on some rather fantastic egg bread I might add.

Delicious or not though, I fell quite short of actually finishing my lunch in one sitting. This one really packs a punch. But six hours later it was the perfect pick me up after a crazy afternoon shoot. 

I defintley recommend treating yourself to one of these sometime.

New Thing #319: See an NBA Game Live

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I’ve had seeing a Raptor’s game on my list of new things to do since day one. Everyone tells me that if I just see a basketball game live that I’ll understand why everyone loves this stupid game so much.

Well, that didn’t happen.

I’m sure that Toronto vs. Sacramento isn’t exactly the most stellar matchup to introduce me to the sport, but my assertion that basketball is just watching a ball go one way down the court and then back still holds true. It’s just boring to me. 

In hockey there’s tension. Goals have real weight to them. But with basketball you’re always a point or two head or behind, and it seems to just come down to the last five minutes of the game that really matter. 

Sorry mom. Here’s another sport I don’t understand.

(Oh, and thanks to my friend Tom for the tickets…I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for ’em.)

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