Tag Archives: Ontario

The Highlands and Lowlands of Macallan Scotch Tasting

Solo Scotch
7:43 Arrive at Macallan scotch tasting at 99 Sudbury. Free parking is nice, though a central location and not having to drive to an event celebrating alcohol would have been even nicer.

7:44 Handed a silver Macallan coin, told to exchange it for a drink. Instead reminded of Super Mario Bros. 3.

7:45 Exchange coin for drink. Apparently tonight, a drink is defined as “a tall, thin glass containing just enough scotch to wonder whether or not there’s actually any scotch in there.”

7:46 Move to charcuterie buffet. Surprisingly well-stocked with four types of cheese, several cured meats, and a selection of bread and olives.

Charcuterie Buffet

7:48 Note to self: cheese with fancy names distracts crowd from lack of alcohol… Must increase cheese budget for next party.

7:50 The line at the buffet is now 30-people deep, compared to the three surrounding it minutes earlier. I’ve still only had one drink.

7:51 Getting frustrated at lack of alcohol at this scotch tasting

Scotch Set

7:52 Noticing a lot of attendees do not look like they are influential bloggers. This suspicion is confirmed after talking with staff… “They wanted to cram in as many people as they could fit…”

7:53 Random cute server surreptitiously offers me another drink, despite my lack of a silver coin. I wholeheartedly accept.

7:54 Starting to feel like a scotch cattle call

7:59 The event is scheduled to start at 8PM, but organizers show no sign of moving people into next room

8:05 Handed a second silver coin from a friend just as drink service stops. I have somehow angered the scotch Gods.

8:08 Ushered into second room; stage and screens in front, as well as Macallan bottles on display; tables and seating all around.

Ice maker

8:10 Sitting with three others. Nothing on the table except bottles of water and a glass full of nuts.

8:14 If walnuts and cheese were scotch, I’d be enjoying this tasting a lot more right now.

8:19 The Macallan rep tells us we were served 10-year old scotch to start, and will be getting into older scotches now. Sounds promising!

8:21 While Macallan rep goes into history of brand, I can’t help notice a lack of scotch on my table and the tables of others

8:24 The first audience question is asked, and the audience member receives a full bottle of scotch as a prize. Dozens of hands shoot up immediately.


8:28 Jealously eyeing plate of cheese the guy across from me brought from the other room. Even more jealously eyeing bottles of scotch in front of room.

8:31 Servers (finally!) appear with trays of 12-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1998 (including clips from Titanic and A Bug’s Life) set to a Wallflowers tune. Really, Macallan?

8:37 Macallan rep describes making of 15-year old scotch while audience members tweet frantically.

8:41 Servers appear with trays of 15-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1995. Really, Macallan? Really?

8:46 Servers appear with trays of Macallan Sherry Oak Cask Strength and individual Lindt chocolates. I am momentarily appeased.

8:47 Drink finished. Appeasement over.

8:48 Realize that Macallan encourages, facilitates, and condones tweeting under the influence of alcohol.

8:49 Note to self: On drive home tonight after scotch tasting, tweet @MADDOnline to alert them of dangerous drinking/typing epidemic sweeping our youth.

8:50 Looking around the room, I’m reminded of the lyrics to Kanye West’s Runaway:
Let’s have a toast for the douchebags,
Let’s have a toast for the assholes,
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags…

8:51 Macallan rep breaks out the patented (or maybe not) Steel Macallan Ice Ball Maker 2500 SCT (note, I made that name up).

Scotch Ice Ball

8:53 While Macallan rep discusses the merits of Ice Balls vs. Ice Cubes (cubes have larger surface area, therefore melt faster), I prefer to discuss merits of Ice Cube vs. Ice-T vs. Vanilla Ice (Ice Cube wins this round, with an honourable mention going out to Iceberg Slim).

8:54 Servers appear with trays of 18-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1992. Seriously?! To be fair, crowd cheers for 1992 Toronto Blue Jays team photo, boos vociferously at following still of Ottawa Senators logo.

8:56 Macallan rep informs us that 18-year old scotch is best drank neat, and that ice is best made with bottled water, not tap. Who has time to make ice with bottled water, you ask? Being a Toronto Elitist… I have the time.

8:57 Crowd is thanked, event over. I search in vain for taxi chits, giftbags or takeaways, to no avail.

8:59 I steal a block of cheese.


Thanks Macallan, Matchstick and Praxis PR for a good time, and a special shout-out to Macallan for your goddamn fine scotch.


You Give Love (and PR) A Bad Name

If you haven’t already heard, cheating is not the reason marriages break up. No, the real reason behind many a divorce is a force much more sinister than extramarital sexual urges… that’s right, I’m talking about Rogers Communications.

 Rogers Logos

Yes, it’s not enough that they gouge us on service fees and spray-paint our sidewalks (really? didn’t you learn from MLSE eight months ago?), now they’re coming into our homes and breaking up our marriages. Imagine coming home one night after a long, hard day at work, and you walk into your bedroom only to find your wife in bed with all of Rogers Communications. If that sort of thing turns you on, you’re probably on the wrong website.

If you haven’t already heard, Gabriela Nagy “blames a Rogers cellphone bill for breaking up her marriage… Nagy claims a unilateral decision by Rogers to consolidate her household’s bills allowed her husband to discover she was having an affair. That, she says, led to the “destruction” of her marriage.”

 Gabriela Nagy

Here’s a thought: Maybe the marriage was already destroyed when Nagy decided and proceeded to have an affair, and not when the husband found out about it. I’m pretty sure that the old adage “It’s not illegal unless you’re caught” doesn’t hold up in a court of law.

Now, Nagy “is launching a campaign to improve privacy protection in Ontario… [and] looking for other frustrated customers to join her lawsuit against the telecommunications giant for what she claims was a breach of her privacy.”

Is she? Is she really? Or is there more to this already-ridiculous story? Well, when a story in Toronto transcends being ridiculous and begins bordering on being offensive, there’s always a safe guess as to why: J.P. Pampena.

 JP Pampena

First off, let me say that this entire story stinks. Reeks. It’s a wonder Pampena can come near it, what with his heightened sense of smell. But then again, this is the same publicist who orchestrated the messy soap opera that surrounded Toronto’s baby Kaylee case in 2009 and 2010.

 Jay Sherman

In reading up on Nagy’s case, it seems abundantly clear that Pampena is behind much of this media-attention-grabbing circus:

  • Nagy showing up for interviews dressed all in black, wearing a wig and dark glasses
  • Suing Rogers for $600,000 (is that all your marriage was worth to you?)
  • Launching a Facebook campaign dubbed Citizens Helping Individuals Reform Privacy Policies (CHIRPP)
  • Mentioning she has switched to Bell and is much happier with their privacy protections

 This has sleaze written all over it, and it’s a goddamn shame. It’s a shame that this woman is attempting to profit from her own immorality, while trying to paint a sympathetic picture of herself (though acknowledging herself she won’t win many sympathy points). It’s a shame that Rogers – giant, evil corporation that they are – has to deal with this bullshit, likely meaning that somewhere down the line, us “regular” customers will have to pay some sort of price for all this. And it’s a real shame that J.P. Pampena is giving publicists and public relations practitioners everywhere a terrible name.

It should be noted that Pampena is also the same publicist that infiltrated the Molson Canadian Rocks SARS Toronto Benefit Concert, doing media interviews and taking credit for an event he had little – if nothing – to do with. He’s drawn the ire of well-respected PR practitioners all over Toronto, and with good reason. He was even called out (albeit anonymously) on Inside PR, a leading Canadian podcast on the state and future of public relations, by then-hosts Terry Fallis, Dave Jones, and Martin Waxman.

Interestingly, Inside PR has also been the basis of discussions on why publicists should not be a part of any story, unless extenuating circumstances call for it. Obviously, Pampena missed that episode. Wonder why….

(Another interesting note on Pampena – who, by the way, is also registered to run for Mayor of Toronto in the 2010 election – is that though he claims to be blind (26 years and counting…), his Twitter page has him spotting a celebrity in Pearson Airport.

On Idle Cars and Lost Productivity

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an “international organization helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy,” released some startling facts about Toronto this week.

Apparently, traffic congestion in the region costs the entire country of Canada $3.3 billion in lost productivity each year. This comes as a result of several factors:

  • Urban sprawl
  • A disjointed public transit system
  • Decades of underinvestment in public transit by Ottawa

We sit in traffic, unproductive and idle. Meanwhile, our idling cars emit noxious gases into the atmosphere, decaying the ozone layer and lining lungs everywhere with air pollution. And that’s just in Toronto.


If we’re to be more productive in our cars, Ontario erred in passing a law restricting the usage of cell phones in automobiles. That is also notwithstanding the fact that if the provincial government were serious about its efforts to keep drivers’ “eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” it would have completely banned cell phone usage while driving. After all, according to the Ministry of Transport, “driver distraction is a factor in 20 per cent of all road accidents.” But I digress.

I’m not even quite sure what kind of productivity we are expected to produce while driving, but whatever it is must surely be easier done with a phone in hand.

The fact is, if we are to be more productive in our cars, Ontario erred in passing the law restricting the usage of cell phones in automobiles. If the aim is to increase productivity while driving (which also defeats the purpose of attempting to eliminate driver distraction), let us use cell phones.

Better still, offer us a reasonable alternative to driving.

Realistically, the TTC is not a reasonable alternative to driving. Nor is any public transit system in Toronto, as the OECD notes that “transit service in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area has not kept pace with population growth.”

Don’t tell us to use the TTC. Instead, make it more attractive to potential riders. Transit City is on the right track, though light years behind, and – given the bureaucracy inherent in Toronto and the TTC – indefinitely ongoing. Hell, I’d sit through 10 years of traffic congestion, construction, and closed roads if it meant my kids would grow up with a transit system on par with those in New York, Hong Kong or London.

We don’t want to be told to use the TTC, we want to want to use the TTC.

Genuine Emotion or Political Opportunism?

This afternoon’s Toronto Star has a story about the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs and their farm team, the Toronto Marlies, and how they may have “jumped the line,” already receiving H1N1 vaccinations. This comes on the heels of a similar controversy with Calgary’s NHL team, the Flames. Ontario’s Health Minister Deb Matthews is, apparently, outraged at the situation in Toronto, and deemed it “unacceptable“.

The reason it’s at all an issue is the Ontario government received a limited supply of the vaccination – enough to immunize 2.2 million people – and expects to run out by the end of this week (that’s tomorrow… To The Clinics! Swarm! Swarm!). That said, the province  set out strict regulations prioritizing groups to be inoculated with the first wave of medicine: pregnant women, children between six months and less than five years of age, people under the age of 65 with chronic conditions, and those living in remote communities.

My question is this:  Is the issue here really NHL players receiving preferential treatment and early vaccinations?

It seems to me this is an opportunity for the Ontario government to distract the media and the public from their own bungling of the vaccinations and “priority groups” by bringing up the age-old argument of wealth and status giving way to said preferential treatment. The public rarely sympathizes with millionaire athletes, and likely even less so in the face of a mass pandemic. Still, athletes have been receiving top-shelf, preferential medical treatment for decades now. Why should it be any different in this case?


The people writing the government’s messaging surely are aware of this, and strategically used it to craft a message positioning the sad-sack Maple Leafs as the bad guys here, while the government strives to deliver vaccinations to the general public. Haven’t the Leafs suffered enough this young season? Now they’re villainous vaccination pirates, stealing life-saving inoculations from the arms of women, children and the elderly? Give me a break.

Ontario, Deb Matthews, City of Toronto, and all your respective communication departments: Concentrate on the real issues affecting your constituents, citizens and stakeholders. Stop creating controversy where there is none and instead focus your efforts on improving the situation.

Now, while the on-ice product may have you fooled, the Toronto Maple Leafs actually have no players in the priority group for vaccination. Just for fun though…

Pregnant Woman?

Colton Orr

Children between six months and less than five years of age?

People under the age of 65 with chronic conditions?

Jason Blake

Van Ryn

Those living in remote communities?

Maple Leafs Bruins Hockey