Category Archives: Entertainment

Fun for Kids at the Toronto Christmas Market

Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery DistrictWho said a Winter Wonderland needs snow? If the crowds at the Distillery District’s Toronto Christmas Market opening ceremonies are any indication, the spirit of Christmas prevails with or without the fluffy white stuff.

This relatively new city tradition (inspired by the Christmas Markets in Germany and now in its second year) is a welcome addition to the holiday activities available to Torontonians in December. Every Christmas delight is covered, from a stand where you can purchase a Christmas tree for your home, to miniature cottages spread throughout the Distillery selling gifts and snacks, to a neighbourhood-wide liquor license (take your pick between beer or mulled wine), to the spectacular 45-foot Christmas tree (donated by Trees Ontario) and decorated with mint green sashes, shiny red ornaments and more than 12,000 reed switch component Christmas light bulbs.

Sound like fun? Ferris Wheel at the Toronto Christmas MarketYour kids will think so too–this is one Christmas event in Toronto for the whole family, and it is in continuous improvement in this regard. This event is so kid-friendly, it may come as a shock to your children! My advice would be to tell them you’re all going out to pick a Christmas tree, and let them discover the ferris wheel and the carousel for themselves. That’s Christmas magic.

On top of the tremendous novelty of outdoor carnival rides in winter, your kids will love the free candy canes, hot chocolate, fudge, and other ‘sugar plums’ on offer; though they won’t enjoy the subsequent trip to a Toronto dentist as much, ’tis the seaon!

Make this Christmas season a magical one for your kids by attending the FREE Toronto Christmas Market. For the occasion, one of the cobblestone streets in the Distillery has been renamed Santa’s Lane. Father Christmases of all cultures and customs will be present to tell their traditional stories and fill hearts with cheer, but to get to Santa’s house children must first find their way through a maze made out of small pine trees.

– Santa will be in the Distillery on weekdays from 2 p.m.7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., with a reindeer petting zoo on location during weekend hours.

-There will be daily reading of Grimm Brothers classics, and real-life characters Father Christmas and the Christmas Angel walking around.

– Write the North Pole via Santa Mail! Canada Post is providing two letter boxes from which letters will be shipped express to Santa. Kids can write Carollers at the Toronto Christmas Marketletters in Santa’s Workshop (indoors) as well as make crafts, stocking stuffers and play Christmas games with other children. With so much to see and do, you might want to make a whole day out of it, bringing lunch containers or opting to try some of the German street fare (like hot pretzels or schnitzel) available.

– Finally, take photographs! is sponsoring a Toronto Christmas Market photo contest, rewarding the best photograph taken of the market with $250. 2nd place will receive a $250 restaurant gift certificate, and third place will receive a $100 gift certificate courtesy of the Distillery District.

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Six Reasons Dads Should Attend Word11

Blogging has grown up since the early days of the internet, but it has never ceased being part of a larger conversation. Unfortunately, most of this conversation can be found on, well, blogs.

Word11 wants to show bloggers how much they can learn from the plain old art of conversation. As the world’s first 24-hour blogging event, it has combined keynote speakers with tons of opportunities for informal discussion.

Here’s 6 reasons why dad bloggers should attend the event:

1) Open to veterans and newcomers alikeWord11

You won’t have to be an expert in social media to find a worthwhile conversation at Word11. There’s over 37,000 bloggers in Toronto, so there’s a good chance you’ll find someone with similar interests. Or maybe you’re looking for an expert. In that case, you might find them here.

2) Relaxed, informal setting

Word11 understands that some bloggers already have jobs and don’t want to engage in the tedium of “networking.” The 24-hour nature of the event encourages attendees to mingle freely and even let their conversations spill into the neighbouring areas of downtown Toronto. Oh, and you can bet there’ll be a trending topic on Twitter to discuss all of the ongoing meetups.

3) Presentation streams

The conference has been divided into three “streams” to better accommodate attendees. Each stream is targetted toward bloggers with different levels of experience, from complete novices to seasoned veterans.

The biggest strength of streams is that they place you with similar people, making conversations much easier to start. Sure you’ll hear from 13 high profile bloggers, but insight from a person in a similar situation can be even more valuable.

4) Accommodating schedule

Word11 is a 24-hour event, so you can expect things to be happening at all points in the day. Even if you come late, Word11 is hosting an all-nighter, which they can only describe as an “outdoor campground for bloggers.” For your convenience, the event is taking place on a Saturday.

5) It’s easy to find out who’s going

Chances are most people attending this event will broadcast that fact on their different social networks. If your favourite blogger isn’t going, use the event as an excuse to meet them! There’s also a chance Word11 will publish the registration list, showing who is confirmed guest.


6) Convenient location (downtown Toronto)

Word11 is being hosted at two venues in downtown Toronto: one in the morning and one in the evening. Fortunately, both are within walking distance of each other and are easily accessible by public transit. For anyone driving, there are ample parking spots near both venues.

Word11’s mix of formal speakers and informal discussions is set to make the event a valuable learning experience for all bloggers. So call up your babysitter and tell your kids you’re headed for a day of personal enrichment!

For those interested, here’s a handy itinerary of the event:


Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

Platform 9 3/4Waiting in line at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto to see the latest (and final) film from the Harry Potter franchise, I was dumbfounded by the number of, well…adults in line to see the summer blockbuster. Granted, I was waiting for the 9:30 PM showing, and you never see too many kids downtown, but the turnout of the more, shall we say, experienced audience confirmed something I’d already known: Harry Potter isn’t just for kids.

Billionaire author J.K. Rowling can attest to that—she said she just wrote about characters she would want to read about; it was her publishing company that marketed her work to children. While in no way am I suggesting she’s a modern day Shakespeare like some fanatics claim, I shall say that the series is a fully realized work, highly imaginative and brimming with lessons for children to learn and for adults to revisit. Given that, and before I write about the film, I highly recommend reading the books prior to seeing the movies, as is usually the case. The books are gripping, funny, full of plot twists and, probably most importantly, concerning the lives of authentic and relatable characters. This is a story where adults err along with the children, where prejudices are passed down with generations, where the idealism of the young is the saving grace when it seems all hope is lost. There is something special, yes, even magical, about these books—there’s a pace to them that makes reading so enjoyable—you don’t want your eyes to leave the page! Just like any book-to-movie adaptation, the Harry Potter films are shallow when compared with their source. If you can, encourage your kids to read the books before seeing the movies, or better yet, read it to them!

As for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II the movie—it’s definitely not for small children. I have a seven year-old brother, and it would have terrified him! I wouldn’t recommend it personally for children under 11, but I suppose every child is different. For a comprehensive guide on the appropriate age for both the Harry Potter books and movies, see this article.

The film itself is excellent—by far the best of the lot. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson return as Harry, Ron and Alan Rickman as Professor Severus SnapeHermione for the final time, and they all do a spectacular job, particularly Radcliffe. Having watched him grow up literally right before my eyes, the pride I felt upon seeing his earnest performance and how much he has grown in his craft, felt like a parent’s.

Backed again by a sublime supporting cast of British actors including Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter and Michael Gambon, among others, the standout performances of the film belong to Radcliffe, Smith, Rickman and Fiennes. As Professor McGonagall, Smith’s line “It’s good to see you, Potter,” was delivered with such skill it simultaneously broke the tension and my heart. Rickman, as Professor Snape, has always been a reason to watch the Potter movies, with his silky diction and nearly-vacant stare acting as blinders over his true motives. Rickman outdoes his other performances with this one; as for whether or not his character is evil, let’s just say he’ll keep you guessing until the very end. Ralph Fiennes plays Lord Voldemort with consummate skill, emphasizing the part of him that is still somewhat human, which oddly makes him almost pitiful, and certainly more frightening–I wouldn’t be surprised if this portrayal ends up on ‘Greatest Film Villain’ lists in the future.

The set pieces and visual effects were top-notch, the music beautiful and haunting and the story mostly true to the book.Lord Voldemort vs. Harry Potter

My only gripe, and it’s a big one, is that the significance of the Deathly Hallows (The Elder Wand, the Invisibility Cloak and the Resurrection Stone: whoever possesses all three becomes the Master of Death) was missed. The film was the shortest of the entire series at only 2 hours and 10 minutes and missing this very important, titular element.

The Harry Potter story is largely about life and death and about how one bad wizard feared death so much that he ruthlessly inverted the laws of magic in order to live forever. Opposing him was a wizard who would die to save the people he loved, just as his parents had for him. Which one is Death’s Master? The movie, preoccupied with big bangs and explosions, never touched on that, so if you want to know, you’ll have to read the books.


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November Lenzr Lets Family Sharpen Photography Skills

There are many advantages to following @Lenzr on Twitter, and keeping abreast of the serial photo contest website that harnesses business marketing budgets to celebrate Canadian independent photographic arts.

Frugal Dads: Photo Contests Are Productive Exercises For Kids

photo contest for pvc trim, natural skin care, snow removal, icf, metal roof

boy camera, metal roof, pvc trim, insulated concrete panels, skin care, nature, snow removalEntering Lenzr photo contests as a family creates even more effective channels for winning prizes, and it kills boredom on a Saturday afternoon by providing a ‘mission’ to young people with new digital cameras.

Sparking passion for something creative is important, and it’s an especially good thing when there’s an Apple iPad offered up as reward. What’s even better is that Lenzr is 100%  community driven, so there’s no moderator interference in the voting.  All this means that having family and friends that are into photography, and ready to vote for your pictures, could be a real advantage.

strange backyard rodents and squirrels and other pests eat tar shingles on roofBe sure and tell us the names of the citizens that live in your backyard – too many photos are just not descriptive enough !

The Backyard Critters photo contest on Lenzr is fast becoming a huge archive of homemade Canadian wildlife pictures.Already there are deer swimming in lakes, and butterflies and all manner of birds and chipmunks and rodents that are slightly out of focus and make me wonder if in fact some young person did indeed snap and submit the image. That’s the challenge – to capture some form of intelligent life right in your own backyard.

Enter today and you could Win an iPad! courtesy of a metal roof installation contractor network – the company is one of the leading distributors of aluminum shingles in the world.  Dad’s are asked to remember that aluminum roofs cannot rust.

insulated concrete ideas forms economical building solutionCan your kids make concrete look beautiful?

The Concrete Ideas photo contest on Lenzr is perfect for preschoolers. Here’s a subject that cant run away on them . And how else can you make a cement abutment, bridge or sewer pipe interesting enough to occupy them for upwards of ten or twenty minutes?! Once again you could win an Apple iPad prize. The match comes courtesy of a superior insulated concrete forms building system that Dad should actually be aware of esp if he’s thinking about building a residential condominium complex, hospital, prison, school or shopping mall behind the house.

color house Lenzr photo contest for pvc trim manufacturerColourful Houses photo contest also rewards the Lenzr member that uploaded the highest rated photo with an Apple iPad, courtesy of a pvc trim manufacturer.

Water On Skin photo contest breaks the iPad trend by awarding the highest ranked image with $500 worth of Soya Boutique’s natural skin care products.

These wonderous substances are formulated from organic soy to address a variety of common skin conditions, such as sun exposure, acne, lines and wrinkles, rosacea, scars, eczema, blemishes, redness, and uneven texture and skin tone.

electric snowblower prize, snow removal, driveway, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Oshawa

Pets in Winter Coats is tailor made for kids with cameras. Now they actually have a reason to take pictures of their furry friends.

The sexy red snow blower opposite is for Dad. With this machine waiting in the garage Dad actually anticipates and relishes every snowfall.

Brought about by a snow removal company conscious of winter contracts these friendly guys service a large area east of Toronto specifically, Markham, Whitby, Pickering and Ajax and Oshawa.

All of these challenges were officially launched on Oct 1st, and voting begins on November 20th; these contests end Dec 1st when the highest ranked images are declared the winners. This contest is open to all residents of Canada, age 13 ys and older. Contests not vaild in Quebec.

Daughters gone wild—Tilt: The Movie

Happy Canada Day!

And now for something completely different…

Basically we’re looking for opinions (or information, or personal, real life experiences) about how fathers can connect with teenage daughters, especially when those teenage daughters are starting to get into things like drinking, drugs, or sex—daughters who have gone ‘a little wild. ‘Specifically, we’re hoping to hear from Fathers who are experiencing, or have experienced trouble connecting with their daughter, and women who are experiencing or have experienced issues connecting with their father at one time or another.

We are doing this to help out some friends who are making a cool, independently produced feature film that explores the complexities and nuances surrounding father daughter relationships. Its a thriller, with a twist.

Maybe you have a seventeen year old daughter who is experiencing teen angst full throttle and is pushing the limits of your patience and challenging you within an inch of your limit? Maybe you are a nineteen year old girl who is just waking up to your own new set of realities and find yourself butting heads and distancing from your parents. Do you know someone in this situation?

Maybe you know someone who was a little wild in high school or college years and has managed to work things out or someone else who never did? Maybe you have some insight into the complexities of this type of scenario and would just like to talk about it?

Maybe you think this is an interesting concept for a full length indie film and would just like to get involved or help out?

More about the Tilt—the Movie:

A feature-length dramatic thriller about a father, a daughter, tragedy, and revenge, Directed by Phil Holbrook.

The father and daughter characters in TILT started growing apart after the wife/mother of the house died 10 years ago. Now the daughter is 20 years old, a big partier, and completely out of control.

What would you do for your Family?

THE STORY: Paul hasn’t connected with his daughter for over 10 years, but when their world is turned upside down by an unthinkable act, he has to decide what’s more important: doing the right thing or setting things right? TILT is about revenge & forgiveness, betrayal & redemption, and second chances…small town style.

THE LOCATION: TILT will be filmed in my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota, where many generous friends and strangers have already pledged essential services that are making this movie possible.

THE COLLABORATORS: In addition to Mr Holbrook, there are a few other core TILT collaborators you should know. Filmmakers / screenwriters Julie Keck and Jessica King (also known as King is a Fink) are sharing writing and producing duties, with Jessica also stepping up to try on the newly coined PMD (Promotion / Marketing / Distribution Manager) title. Cinematographer Jeremy Doyle has promised to make everything look pretty and scary and (sometimes) pretty scary.

THE MUSIC: With a really innovative twist, the makers of the film let the people have input on who actually got to write the original score for the film. They held a contest on their TILT blog for a composer, and the winner was the very talented Bill Finn. Bill got started by providing the music for the TILT pitch video, and we’re excited to see what he comes up with for the movie.

Interested in getting involved or helping the production out?

THE PERKS: When you contribute to this film project, you not only get the satisfaction of helping Phil fulfill a dream, you’ll also get perks ranging from DVDs, to film credit, to sneak peeks at special short films that give you insight into the characters of TILT. If there’s a perk that looks fun to you, go for it! We’ll make it worth your while.

WHAT YOUR CONTRIBUTION WILL GO TOWARD? Food, travel & lodging for cast & crew; lighting equipment; costumes & props; digital storage; and DVD production & marketing materials, which we’ll be sending, in many cases, to you.

Share your story, or send them money. It is fun, gratifying and very easy to send them even the smallest amount of money. Every little bit adds up with project crowd sourcing via Kickstarter.

If you would like to contribute your own personal experience, you can do that here by posting a comment on HeadsUpDad, or if you would prefer to do it in a more private way, you can contact the producers of the film by sending us an e-mail here at HeadsupDad. If you are just interested in sending them a few bucks to help them make this movie, I know they would really appreciate your support. Why not donate $25 today? Do it because you want to, or do it for the Perks, in any case, just do it—you can say you helped finance an independent film! Maybe one day it will appear in a very cool film festival near you.

Watch a Movie, Send a Kid to Camp

Departures, a wonderful movie—a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan and a profound and sometimes comical journey as a man uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.

At Hospice Toronto, where I was doing my original hospice and paliative care training, one of the presenters mentioned that the movie “Departures” would be really good for us to see in order to get more insight into the kind of work that Hospice is trying to do in our communities all across Canada. While I didn’t get a chance to see the movie at that time, I just received a notice from her that it is coming back, for 2 days only, as a promotional event for the re-opening of the Carlton Cinema at 20 Carlton St. (just east of Yonge) in Toronto. The dates are Wed. June 30 and Thursday July 1. It’s free except for a suggested donation of $2 to support the Toronto Star newspaper’s Fresh Air Fund, a summer camp program for needy kids.

There are lots of other great movies those days also, including Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and The Class, another foreign language film from France (Winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival) with François Bégaudeau, Away from her with Julie Christie, Michael Murphy, Gordon Pinsent.

We are telling you this today because we think it might be a good movie for you and your mate to go out and see—a great idea for an almost free night out. If you are not a fan of foreign film, maybe go see one of the others and donate a few bucks to a very worthy cause. Why not spread the joy? Here’s a great opportunity to suggest a night out to a tired and frustrated Mom and Dad who you know needs a night out on their own and away from the kids. Do you need another reason?

Your night at the movies will turn Can’t to Camp by sending a needy kid to camp.

Departures will be shown both days at 6:40 and 9:20. You can find more details on the Carleton Cinemas website:


Japanese with English subtitles
Carleton Cinema’s: Wednesday  June 30, 2010 – Thursday July 1: 6:40 9:20

Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Departures is a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan as well an astonishingly beautiful look at a sacred part of Japan’s cultural heritage. Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved, is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a “Nokanshi” or “encoffineer,” a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of “Nokanshi,” acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. (Fully subtitled)

Director: Yojiro Takita

Cast – Major:
Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Kimiko Yo, Takashi Sasano