Tag Archives: Book of Mormon

Does This Spell The End Of My Wanderlusting?

A get well note for Bernie from his eldest daughter Makenzie.

After visiting the hospital today to see Becky and my brother, Aidan and I headed to Simcoe to visit my parents. We figured it would do all of us good to have a normal family dinner. And it did.

Over dinner we chatted about the obvious; that being my brother and the accident. We also chatted about Christmas and what that would entail. You see, Aidan and I had planned to fly to Europe for three weeks over Christmas and New Years. However, given the current situation with my brother, it seems like a far better idea to stick around and spend time with the family.

But don’t worry folks; this isn’t the end of my wanderlusting ways. Far from it. During our drives back and forth from the hospital, Aidan and I have been chatting about what our plans could be. Clearly we both know that being home for Christmas is the only option. But we also know that travel is still in our very near future. In fact, after our conversation today I think we’ve figured out where were going to go and when we are going to go there. So, without further ado let me present to you the

New & Improved

Dan & Aidan Fun Time Christmas Travel Adventure


Destination: New York City!

Say what? New York City? Again? Weren’t you just in the Big Apple?

Why yes, yes I was, thank you for noticing. But really, this is a no-brainer. Flights are inexpensive. Hotels are inexpensive (for NYC). The time of year is right. I love the city. And even more: Aidan has never been there. This is clearly something that I should have rectified long ago. Regardless, the plan is to hit the Big Apple one more time this year. On our list of things to do:

I’m sure there will be other items added to the list, but this is a good start for now. And as always, I shall keep you posted on my wanderlusting and my adventuring.

Adventures In Unplanning

The Barrymore theatre.

As a Statistician, it should come as no surprise that I love random things. So it should really come as no surprise that I love when random things equate to random awesome adventures.

Take for example my recent trip to New York. The trip was roughly planned out between Steph, Gerarda, and myself. That is, we emailed a few ideas of things to do, places to go, food to eat, drinks to drink, and plays to attend. Based on our conversations, Dr. Steph had sketched out an itinerary that included such things as a gin sampling at the Breuckelen Distilling Company, eating at Crumbs bakery, drinking copious amounts of wine at Maloney & Porcelli‘s Weekend Wine Dinner, and seeing The Book of Mormon. But, we are not the type to be so stuck on our plans that we can’t change them on a whim. Granted, after buying the tickets for The Book of Mormon in advance we likely wouldn’t have been changing those plans.

Regardless, our original list was soon revised, and revised, and revised again. Not because anything prevented us from completing our original list of awesome New York activities. Instead, other opportunities presented themselves and we had to jump on them. Take for example the gin tasting; first it was moved from Friday to Saturday because we randomly found ourselves going to see a Jimmy Fallon rehearsal, then it was removed from our list to accommodate Seminar – the play I mentioned yesterday. In the case of the Jimmy Fallon rehearsal, we acted as guinea pigs; our reactions were used to determine which of his opening monologue jokes would make it into that evenings act. Most of the jokes were hilarious, but a few were absolute bombs and they did not make the cut. We also sat through his Thank You Letters which were terribly hilarious. Seeing Seminar with Alan Rickman was a time limited opportunity; we reasoned that the distillery would still be around next summer – a time when we could sit on a patio and enjoy gin-based beverages while watching the world go by.

Another item that made it onto our list that we hadn’t planned – seeing Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in concert. We managed to snag tickets for this show the same night that we bought the tickets for Seminar. We only learned of the show while perusing the website for the Seminar tickets. Since Gerarda is a huge Patti LuPone fan, this was a no-brainer.

Me, taking a bite out of the big apple, I guess.

The show was amazing. We were fortunate to have purchased some excellent seats, although I really don’t think any of the seats in the Barrymore Theatre were bad. The show was a medley of famous broadway songs, presented on a stage consisting of a piano, a cello, and various microphones and lights. A simple set, but enough for the two actors to work with. They managed to keep me completely engaged with the barest of props – a testament to their ability as stage actors.

Of all the songs they performed, I’d have to say my favourites were those related to Evita. For those not in the know, both LuPone and Patinkin made famous the lead roles of Evita. LuPone sang Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, while Patinkin sang Oh What A Circus – which was absolutely freaking incredible. I only learned of their roles in Evita thanks to Gerarda. Clearly I have much to learn.

Anyway, while our original trip itinerary ended up being slightly modified here and there, the end result was an amazing adventure. In fact, I prefer not having things so planned on a trip because it provides the opportunity to stumble on some great things. In this case, we managed to pack in two extra shows, plus see Jimmy Fallon live. Awesome.

Waiting For Rickman

Friday night, after wandering New York, gorging on chocolates from Godiva and from Michel Cluizel, attempting our hand at shopping, seeing The Book of Mormon, and enjoying a most delicious post-theatre dinner accompanied by a very nice bottle of Don David Malbec at Sosa Borella (an Argentine restaurant we randomly stumbled upon), Gerarda, Steph, and I made our way back to On The Avenue hotel.  There we tried some of the 30-year-old port that I had picked up, along with a small bottle of bubbly that Gerarda and Steph had purchased to celebrate our first full day in the city. While this might sound like a wild night it was actually low-key; which was exactly what we wanted given that Saturday night would be anything but – what with the planned wine dinner at Maloney & Porcelli’s.

Gerarda and I searching for tickets.

Anyway, while we were enjoying the port we opted to listen to The Book of Mormon soundtrack – something that Gerarda had on her iPod. While listening to this we decided to investigate a play that we had noticed in The Book of Mormon playbill earlier that day. Specifically, a comedy written by Theresa Rebeck called Seminar, and staring Professor Severus Snape (a.k.a. Alan Rickman in the land of the Muggles). The inclusion of Rickman was enough to tempt all three of us to perhaps open our wallet one more time that day. Amazingly and despite the fact that the official opening was set for Sunday, we managed to snag 3 excellent seats for the Saturday matinee.

The Doctors, ready to take on New York

The play itself is about a group of four friends who gather together to have their writing reviewed and critiqued by Rickman. They all approach writing from different worlds, different views, and for different end points; but they are no match for Rickman’s sharp tongue. The play is engaging, witting, intelligent, and a lot of fun to watch. In a way, it’s a bit of getting to see Snape in action, but without the PG restrictions of the Harry Potter films. As the play shifts from one of the friends’ apartment to Rickman’s home (at the end of the first act), we are granted full access to the experience and wisdom of Rickman’s character. His speech is moving, heartfelt, and also tough to hear. But it resonates because we realize that what he does, he does for love of writing and a desire to see the best writers make it. It’s here that we learn how much of a teacher he really is, despite his questionable methods, his questionable ethics, and his exceedingly sharp tongue.

The play was fantastic and I’d definitely recommend that you check it out if you have the opportunity. I’m so glad that we managed to get tickets to see it. Seeing Rickman live was worth every penny we spent.

For those curious, the play also starred Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Jerry O’Connell, and Hettienne Park. We managed to spot Hamish, Jerry, and Hettienne after the show. Sadly, we were left waiting for Rickman. He and Rabe opted not to sign autographs and greet the fans. No worries – Harry Potter himself (a.k.a. Daniel Radcliffe) was playing just down the road; so Gerarda, Steph and I moseyed off in that general direction in hopes that I might be able to show him my Harry Potter-esque scar. Yup, we truly are that nerdy.

The Book Of Awesome

The Book of Mormon. W00t.

One of the reasons The Doctors decided to come to the Big Apple was to see The Book Of Mormon; the 9 Tony award-winning – including best musical - broadway production written by the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), and the writer of Avenue QBobby Lopez. This of course was not the only reason for visiting New York, but it did give us a great reason to be here.

Tonight all of our planning came to fruition, as Steph, Gerarda, and I made our way to Broadway. In a word: Amaze-balls. The play is about a couple of Mormons who have been sent on a 2 year mission to Uganda; one of the Mormons a born prophet type, the other a completely bumbling but loveable twit.

The play was absolutely hilarious; and in proper South Park style – nobody was safe, nor were any topics taboo. Everything was skewered. Dark things that people don’t speak about were brought out into the spotlight and ridiculed. And all of this in a brilliantly hilarious, yet on-point way. For example, the song “Turn it off” mocks abuse, and cancer – and who mocks those things? Better yet, the play does an amazing job of mocking it from a religious point of view, which probably equates to blasphemy to some; to me – hilarity. It also pokes fun at the Mormon, and really most religions’ view on homosexuality. For example:

“When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend Steve Blade,
He and I were close as two friend could be
One thing led to another, and soon I would discover,
I was having really strange feelings for Steve

I thought about us, on a deserted Island
We’d swim naked in the sea, and then he’d try and…

WOAH!  Turn if off, like a light switch,
there its gone! (Good for you!)
My hetero side just won!
I’m all better now,
Boys should be with girls thats heavenly fathers plan
So if you ever feel you rather be with a man,
Turn it off.”

The music was fantastic. I actually found myself dancing in my seat and smiling my face off the entire time. I honestly am not sure what my favourite songs were because they all were fantastic, but I can say for sure that some of them were so off-colour that I probably shouldn’t be singing them aloud in certain company. I also don’t want to spoil the show for anyone that might be wanting to see it, so I’m not going to link to YouTube to share them with you. Instead, if you want to see the play, just let me know. I would absolutely see this again.

Let me repeat that: I would absolutely see this again. Phenomenal. I am so glad I got to see this on Broadway, and for those of you coming to the city it is completely worth the cost. See it. See it. See it. I can’t say that enough. You won’t regret it.

Unless you are perhaps easily offended. Then it might not be your cup of tea.

Dear New York: The Doctors Are Coming For You

I can’t believe my next trip is in four days! That’s right folks, I’ll be boarding a plane on Thursday with Dr. Steph and Dr. Gerarda, heading to the Big Apple. This will be about my eleventy billionth visit to New York, and I’m still stoked about it. Okay, maybe not so much my eleventy billionth, but my dad did suggest that perhaps I should just get a place there and ‘vacation’ back here. I’ll have to give that some thought.

Regardless, I’m rather stoked for a few reasons, which I shall present to you in list form of course:

  1. Book of Mormon This play has won a bunch of awards, was written by the guys who created South Park and the guy who wrote the next play (item 2). Gerarda has already seen it, and has raved about it. Clearly, that was enough for me. Plus I love South Park, so seeing this really is a no-brainer.
  2. Avenue Q Since we were going to see Book of Mormon, we figured why not also see Avenue Q – the play created by the other writer of Book of Mormon. Also, it’s a play about puppets. How could I not see it?
  3. Cafe Habana Several trips ago, I was introduced to this restaurant by my friend Mark. The food was incredible and I’ve been raving about it to Gerarda ever since. While we won’t be able to go to the Habana Outpost in Brooklyn (since it is closed for the season), we are going to the original restaurant. My mouth is already watering.
  4. Dear chocolate: I'm coming for you.

    Chocolat Michel Cluizel This will be a first time visit for me. And it all came about because of The Twitter. Specifically, I was having a conversation with @NewtonsNoGluten (also known as Jeremy Newton). He had suggested I try this particular chocolate because he had enjoyed it so much. A quick query of the all-powerful Google informed me that Michel Cluizel has a shop not far from my hotel. Clearly the universe wants me to eat this chocolate.

  5. Maloney And Porcelli Gerarda introduced me to this restaurant on one of our previous trips to the Big Apple several years ago. The wine dinner they offer is exceptional. Great food, and 4 different bottomless bottles of wine. It’s usually a crazy wine filled night, and is always followed by a visit to number 6 on this list.
  6. The Dead Poet A most excellent little pub on Amsterdam Ave. As of my last visit, I decided to join the 100 Pints of Guinness club. The point of the club is simple; drink 100 pints of Guinness. Not in all one sitting of course. Basically, if I manage to drink 100 Pints, I’ll have my name engraved on the list of people who have already accomplished this feat. If I get to 500, they give me my own engraved plaque. Clearly, this is something I have to do before I die.
  7. Crumbs This is a staple of our trips to NYC. Due to the use of butter-cream frosting, I don’t partake in the cupcake-y goodness. However, I have sampled some of their other products and they are awesome. Plus, the bakery smells incredible.
  8. Magnolia Another staple of our visits. This bakery smells like what I imagine heaven would smell like. So freaking delicious.
  9. Dear gin: You're not safe either.

    Breuckelen Distilling Company I discovered this distillery by complete fluke just the other day. That is, I was checking out videos on Vimeo, when I noticed a channel entitled Made By Hand. The channel descriptor suggested that it offered short documentaries about artisans who, clearly, made things by hand. The first episode was about a young man by the name of Brad Estabrooke who, after finding himself unemployed, decided to throw himself into the ring of spirit-making; thus making himself the first gin-distiller in NYC since prohibition. While watching the video I found myself wondering about the gin. Hence, I’ve decided that if I can get there, I’m going to try it. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve linked the short documentary about the distillery below. It’s only about 7 minutes, but well worth the time.

Anyway, New York is always a blast and always offers something new and entertaining whenever I visit. I’m sure this trip will be no different. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ll be travelling with Dr. Steph and Dr. Gerarda; two of the best travelling Doctors that have ever existed.

Made by Hand / No 1 The Distiller from Made by Hand on Vimeo.

Bonjour Montreal

After a long day, longer flight, and getting stuck in traffic, I am rewarded with a beer with Mr. Rick.

Remember that time I decided to take a trip every month for an entire year? Yeah, while I’m still doing that. W00t!

Yesterday I departed YYZ (also known as Toronto Pearson Airport) for the 10th time. That is, I started my 10th trip in 9 months. That’s right folks, I’m ahead of schedule. Does this mean I’ll slack off next month? Hells no. Next month I’m heading to Victoria to give an invited talk at the GEOMed conference of Awesome. And I believe the month after that I’m going to be heading to New York with Dr. Gerarda and Dr. Steph, hopefully to see The Book of Mormon. It shall also be filled with excellent food, tasty beverages, and lots of laughs.

Is that weird? I mean, is it weird that I think about new adventures even as I sit at an airport, watching planes load and unload, planning to head out on my current adventure? Apparently my wanderlust is just that strong. I’m not sure that I really mind though.

Back to the story at hand. My current adventure is a short trip to Montreal. I had planned to meet up with Dr. Steph on Sunday to work on a few papers, and was going to stay until Wednesday, however, the Fates conspired against me and I’ve been forced to cut the trip short in order to be home in time for a meeting on Tuesday. Thankfully, the Fates also decided that I should be rewarded for attending this meeting on Tuesday, and thus provided me the perfect excuse to fly to Montreal on Friday, instead of Sunday.

A view of the city from the plane.

What pray tell is this perfect excuse? Only that Mr. Rick (whom you’ll remember as the man who played the part of my hero when I smashed my face, and also the part of fellow adventurer while I dove out of a plane, climbed several mountains, and poked the lava, or even perhaps for this), had a meeting there on Friday. That’s right, he’s in Montreal too.

So, while the Fates have conspired to cut my trip short, they have also granted me with more than just some much-needed Dr. Steph time. They have given me some Mr. Rick time. And hanging out with those two nerds for the weekend sounds like a fair price to pay.

Getting here was a bit of an adventure; meetings that ran late meant I had to rush home to pack (with only about 35 minutes until Red Car picked me up), only to realize that I lost my glasses at the school; back to the school to do a quick search (thanks Dom for driving my sorry ass all over the place); no luck, return home; find glasses attached to my school bag (what the what?); board Red Car; head to the airport; board flight; flight delayed 50+ minutes for some odd reason (apparently only 1 runway was available at YUL); leave Toronto; land in Montreal (a.k.a. YUL); flight again delayed at the terminal for 20+ minutes (the gate wasn’t free because some silly WestJet flight was in our way – what’s up with that WestJet? I thought we were friends?); finally leave the plane to wait for 20+ minutes for a cab (really, another line?); traffic; more traffic; even more traffic (good lord I’m never going to get there); and finally, finally, I arrive at my hotel.

My view from our dinner table, minus the smoking man who really shouldn't have been smoking

And right at the moment I arrived at my hotel, Rick sent a text asking how soon I would arrive. You see, Rick being Rick, he had wandered over to my hotel from his hotel in order to facilitate our adventure, so he had been standing in the relative cold for probably 20 minutes or so. He’s just efficient and crazy like that. This means that as my cab drove up, the first sight I saw was my friend, my hero, my fellow adventurer, and the man who did this standing there with a big goofy grin on his face. And suddenly the crazy trip didn’t matter at all.

Truth be told, by the time Rick and I finally met up last night, I was tired and ready for bed. But clearly we had shenanigan-ing to get up to. And so we did. It definitely involved almost having dinner with a smoking man who clearly was suffering from something that probably wasn’t being helped by smoking. It definitely involved a highly inappropriate gift. It definitely involved a random karaoke bar. It definitely involved wandering and chatting and some tasty beverages. Most importantly, it definitely involved laughing, and chatting, and catching up, and a lot more laughing. A most awesome way to end a day that was a bit on the questionable side.

But I’ll leave all that for another post. Especially since it’s a beautiful day outside and I really shouldn’t be sitting here poking away at the keyboard.