365 New Things Complete

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What a year. What a crazy, crazy year.

When I actually sit back and reflect on everything I’ve done, every single new thing that I ate, read, drank, watched, shared, sang, played and experienced, well, it’s all a little exhausting. And awesome.

This year was never meant to be a “bucket list” of the things I want to do before I die, although a couple of those did get crossed off. This year was meant to break me out of routine, and it certainly did that.

So as I sit here on my 37th birthday, sipping an espresso, I have to wonder; what am I going to do with myself now?

I’ve had so many people say so many nice things about this blog that I don’t want to just give it up cold turkey.

So, welcome to 365+ New Things.  

I won’t be posting every day for the rest of my life, but whenever I try another crazy food, or attempt some death defying stunt I’ll be sure to post about it. 

Because, as I tell my daughter any chance I can, you should never stop trying new things.

 

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New Thing #365: Surprise Renew My Wedding Vows

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After a what feels like months of planning and subterfuge I managed to surprise my wife tonight by renewing my wedding vows. 

I couldn’t have made it this year if it weren’t for the support that Shauna gave me this year, so I thought it was important to make tonight about her. I couldn’t have done it without her.

What an awesome way to end this awesome year.

Thank god she said yes.

Here are the vows as I wrote them if you had trouble hearing:

Shauna, a lot of things have come and gone in my life. I’ve had different jobs, different friends, different homes. I’ve tried anything and everything I’ve had the chance to do. But the one consistent thing I’ve always been able to count on is you. 

We’ve been a couple longer than the entire time we were in school. We’ve been married nearly a decade. We have a home that we love and we managed to make a kid who’s pretty damned wonderful. And our friends thought we wouldn’t last a month, but we knew better.

I once told you that you make me a better person and I sincerely believe that. You’ve taught me so much over the years and supported me in every crazy thing I’ve done. The days and years since our wedding haven’t slipped by; they’ve flown. We’ve had more highs than lows and we still have so much more time to soar together. 

If nothing else, my vow to you is to always find a way to make you smile each and every day. 

I love you so much.

New Thing #364: Watch Star Wars with my Daughter

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I think that every geek dad eagerly awaits the day that he’s able to watch the original Star Wars with his kid for the first time. 

For nearly the past five years I’ve been preconditioning my daughter for just such an occasion. So today (with a big bowl of popcorn as bait), Shauna, Audrey and I watched Episode IV together. And although she might not have seemed as excited on the video, she really liked it. Especially the droids.

We shielded her eyes from the screen during the scary bits: Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s burnt corpses, the interrogation droid, and worst of all the awful sequence that Lucas stuck in with Jabba in Mos Eisley.

Also, we were sure to explain that Han shot first, because if nothing else, we’re responsible parents.

SPOILER ALERT IN INVISITEXT BELOW:
Now I just can’t wait to see her reaction when we watch Empire and Vader tells Luke he’s his father. That’s going to be amazing. I know everyone already knows that, but I still detest spoilers enough to not take the chance.

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New Thing #363: Get A Professional Shoe Shine

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In retrospect, getting my shoes professionally shined on a sleet filled afternoon might not have been the wisest of decisions. But I’m still glad I did it.

I used to pass by the shoe shine chairs on my way to lunch for years, but never had the nerve to sit down in one. Also, I normally didn’t have shoes that would take a shine in the first place, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to do it.

But there’s a certain amount of intimidation that goes with those big, elevated leather chairs. And it probably doesn’t help that they’re located in the heart of the financial district and those chairs are usually filled with banker butt.

Thankfully, the shoe shiners couldn’t have been more accommodating. Both of the young ladies were delightful to talk to and my shoe shiner did a fantastic job. My shoes actually turned out looking better today than the day that I bought them.

The whole process felt like a pedicure for my footwear, instead of my feet. They were waxed, rubbed, poked, prodded, scrubbed and even massaged at one point. 

As I expected, shoe shining is a very civilized affair and like the professional shave I got earlier in the year, one that lives outside of today’s hustle and bustle world. Defintely worth the eight bucks, ten with tip.

 

New Thing #362: Attend A TV Pilot Taping

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I’m not unaccustomed to video production, but I’ve never attending a broadcast taping before, let alone one for a pilot. Then I got my hands on some tickets for The Tim Steeves Show, a new half hour comedy under consideration for CTV.

For the next two hours I found myself sitting next to my friend Tom on a rather uncomfortable folding chair in The Masonic Temple at Yonge and Church, dying of thirst. But that’s all I can complain about because the show was pretty great.

It’s a mash-up of The Mercer Report and The Daily Show with a bit of Bill Maher style panel discussion in between.

The real star of the show is Tim Steeves himself: the man is a natural on camera. He has charisma, great delivery and is genuinely funny. And I’m usually pretty tough on comedians. Taking into account that Mike Bullard shot his show in the same studio, I think Tim (who’s exponentially funnier than Bullard ever was) should have no trouble getting picked up by the network.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the set: one poorly dressed card table on a riser with some burnt out Christmas lights behind it. I’ve never felt more Canadian.

New Thing #361: Eat A Cricket

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Crunchy.

That’s the overwhelming thought I had while eating this dehydrated, sour-cream and onion sprinkled cricket. As far as insects go, it wasn’t bad at all. Much better than durian, tha’ts for sure.

Maybe one day I’ll brave a live one.

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New Thing #360: Choir! Choir! Choir!

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When I was a kid I was in choir. Scratch that, I was in many choirs. The school choir. The church choir. The scout choir. Before my voice broke in 7th grade I was a pretty damned good singer. Now: not so much. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still love to sing, I just usually keep it confined to the shower, car and occasional drunken stumble home. 

But then my friend Lynne (with an E) put me on to Choir! Choir! Choir!; an ad hoc group of Torontonians who meet weekly at a downtown pub and belt out a couple of classic pop songs. 

My adult voice is all about range, or lack there of, so this was the perfect opportunity to just take a part within my capabilities.  

Sure there were notes I couldn’t hit but all I had to do was lower my voice and the group took over. Plus, I had a beer with me which makes any singing event better.

My only gripe is that I didn’t know the Crowded House lyrics by rote, so I was a little more focused on the words than the arrangement. The warm up number though was Losing My Religion, and I knew in that instant that i would be coming back. 

And best of all everyone there was super cool with no pretensions. As an added bonus I was surrounded by about a hundred cute women for an hour, so that’s something to sing about too.

 

New Thing #359: Play Zork

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Anyone who knows me might be surprised that I’ve never played Zork before. 

Sure I knew about the grandfather of all adventure games back in the day, but while everyone was messing about with MS-DOS, I was busy playing with my TI-99/4A. And that’s why Pirate Adventure is the first, and best, text adventure game I’ll ever played. But I’m sure if Zork were my first I’d be saying the same about it.

What I love about Zork, apart from it being freely available to play online, is just immersive the gameplay is. With just a few white words and simple commands on a black screen I was completely drawn into the underground world of Zork. That’s pretty amazing when you take into account the millions of dollars that are spent today to grab gamers’ attention.

And yes, it didn’t take long for me to get eaten by a Grue.

 

New Thing #358: Eat Durian

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The last time I tried to procure a durian I couldn’t find a single one on the streets of Toronto. The notoriously stinky South Asian fruit, is pretty much confined to the stalls of Chinatown, or the T&T Supermarket. Unlike the summer, I had not trouble finding scores of them downtown today.

And I had no idea that they were so damned expensive. After having a few bites, I don’t understand why anyone would pay $3.00 for one, let alone ten times that. And I even haggled my way down to thirty dollars!

What was most surprising about eating durian, apart from it not being as odorous as I thought, is that I still can’t pin down what it tastes like. It’s certainly not akin to any fruit I’ve had before and it reminded me more of something meaty than anything else; I just can’t put my finger on it. 

That being said, it’s pretty damn gross, and I don’t think I’ll be trying it again. The man who first managed to open up one of these monstrosities must have been pretty damned desperate to do so.

I’m also pretty sure that old Chinese man who emphatically sold me on its sweetness is laughing his ass off right now.

 

New Thing #357: Citizen Kane

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From the very beginning of this blog I’ve had “Watch Citizen Kane” on the list but it’s taken me nearly the entire year to actually do it.

It’s really quite an astonishing movie when you take the year it was filmed into consideration. It was way ahead of its time. It also may be some of the best movie lighting I’ve ever seen on film.

Even the makeup was outstanding, I never would have realized that they made Orson Welles younger for his earlier scenes in the film if it weren’t for IMDB.

I’m glad I’ve finally seen this film. Now I’m just going to have to decide where it stands on my own personal list of greatest films ever made. Deep Blue Sea is a pretty tough act to beat after all.