Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dan Aykroyd & the Crystal Skull

Dan Aykroyd is touring Canada. As a Canadian senior citizen who has recently left Hollywood you might picture Aykroyd driving across Canada in a shiny Winnebago. Instead, Aykroyd is touring Canadian liquor stores to promote his line of alcohol, namely Crystal Skull Vodka.

(Dan Aykryod holding a bottle
of his Crystal Skull vodka)
This is not the first time Aykroyd has been associated with alcohol. Prior to him becoming an international comedic star, Aykroyd worked at a speakeasy in Toronto where he illegally sold alcohol to cops, cabbies, and other walks of life (a). Following his successful movie and TV career Aykroyd became part owner of The House of Blues. From there he began to realize that there was something missing in the alcohol market in his native land of Canada -tequila. Aykroyd partnered with Patron and began distributing their tequila in liquor stores throughout Canada (a,b). Following that, Aykroyd began promoting his own wine and vodka. With vodka, he again realized that there was something missing. This something missing was how most vodka was made by adding the alcohol before the preservatives. Aykroyd's vodka instead adds the alcohol after the preservatives, allowing the taste of the vodka to be showcased -though I myself have yet to try it.

An aspect of Aykroyd's career in hollywood is that he has been fascinated by unexplained phenomena. Most people know Aykroyd for his role in Ghostbusters, but he has also been involved in other sci-fi related shows like "PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal". This interest in the unexplained has continued with the packaging of his vodka inside glass skulls, which are based on the Inca's 'mystical' crystal skulls. The vodka bottles look great, and because of this the Ontario liquor board (LCBO) has band them: “The image of the human skull is the thing that’s really problematic for us,” LCBO spokesman Chris Layton told the Globe. “That’s an image that’s commonly associated with death. It’s especially problematic at a time when there are concerns around binge drinking by younger adults, which in some cases, unfortunately, has resulted in alcohol poisoning.” (from link 'c' below). However, there are a number of other alcohol bottles with other shapes that are just as attractive, such as a tequila bottle from a rival company shaped like a tommy gun (above right)!

Upon discovering that Aykroyd was appearing at local Canadian liquor stores, Michelle, Andrew, and myself all drove to the downtown Calgary Coop liquor store on a Saturday morning. We entered the close-to-full parking lot that had zero signage of the event. I quickly wondered whether we had the correct location, but the moment we entered the store we saw a line that began at the door. The line was not exceptionally long as the store was quite small but it still took almost an hour to get through it. Everyone in line was excited to meet him and everyone had at least one bottle of his alcohol in their arms. A store clerk walked around the narrow isles with a tray of Patron chocolate tequila in hand. Small plastic cups with 1/2 an ounce of this wonderful liquor treat was consumed by all and I highly recommend it; in retrospect you would think the LCBO would ban something like this tequila instead of the vodka bottle.

Personally, I wore a Ghostbusters shirt. Plenty of people brought with them their favorite Aykroyd DVD's for him to autograph and one person even dressed up like a Ghostbuster! Aykroyd was a true gentlemen and pleasure to meet, although to my chagrin he didn't seem to notice my shirt. Nonetheless, he did not rush people out the door but instead took time to shake everyone's hand and speak to them. He was genuinely interested in being there as he posed for photographs, talked in the voice of the Coneheads, and left the table at one point to shake hands and take a photo with the local law enforcement (above left). Aykroyd might have been so genuine because he is entering a new career and one that he has considerable freedom and control in. He has recently said that he has partially left Hollywood because he is more interested in creating film concepts but is repeatedly turned away by studio execs because he is labeled 'too old' (b).

Our little group's encounter with the celebrity was enhanced because of our witnessing of how he treated everyone before us. It made the entire experience that more memorable. The autographed wine bottles and skull vodka will definitely find a special spot on the shelves and act as a conversation piece, but the chance to meet Aykroyd was even more special. If you too have a chance to meet Aykroyd at a Canadian liquor store, do so! It is as the photo of us says, 'Simply Perfect'!

For more information:
and for the truth behind the crystal skulls, check out this decent article by Archaeology Magazine:

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