Saturday 28 February 2015

"The Heart of Robin Hood", Royal Alexander Theatre, Toronto, ON

Gord and I saw The Heart of Robin Hood tonight.

Every legendary hero has to start somewhere.

A classic tale goes rogue in "The Heart of Robin Hood, the heart-pounding, eye-popping new stage adventure from the Royal Shakespeare Company that puts a bold new twist on the story of the world's most infamous outlaw.

In this wildly inventive reimagining, Robin Hood isn't a beloved vigilante who gives to the poor ... he's just a headstrong thief. It's up to the brave Maid Marion to protect the kingdom and show this legendary hood how to be a hero.

This raucous and thrilling production explodes off the stage with swashbuckling, acrobatics, comedy, romance and original music written and performed by the celebrated indie roots band Parsonsfield.

Don't miss this internationally acclaimed, delightfully theatrical experience - it's Sherwood Forest like you've never seen it before!

It was at the Royal Alexander Theatre.

Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star described it ...

Part fractured fairy tale, part gymnastic exhibition, part bluegrass concert and part Monty Python-esque burlesque, this certifiably demented show - which arrived here from England, by way of Boston, by way of Winnipeg, and is heading to Broadway straight after its Toronto run ends - has to be one of the most energetic, life-affirming events in recent memory.

And his description was right on.  I would also include that it was also Cirque du Soleilish too as there was lots of acrobatics.  It was funny and silly.  There was always something going on.

Parsonfield was the band of minstrels and were always on stage or just off.  They played during the action and in between scene changes.  The music style was bluegrass and they were good!

None of the actors were weak.  Gabriel Ebert and Izzie Steele were excellent as Robin Hood and Marion.  Robin Hood starts off as a toughie but ends up in love.  Euan Morton was excellent as the evil Prince John and Christian Lloyd was a hoot as Pierre.

The set was cool and was basically a giant green Astroturf slide that everyone kept cliding down and climbing up.

All in all, I thought it was delightful and would recommend it.

Parlor Foods & Co., Toronto, ON

Gord and I had tickets to see The Heart of Robin Hood this evening.  We had supper beforehand at Parlor Foods, which is across the street from the theatre (at King Street W/Blue Jays Way).  They have been open for about ten weeks.

At Parlor Foods it's all about bringing back the joy of dining. Based on the ideals of a wood burning Parlor stove, and the gathering of family, friends and loved ones. The Parlor Stove was the backbone of the household used for heating, cooking and socializing. At Parlor Foods & Co. you will receive fine dining level of service in a casual down to earth atmosphere. Serving up an ever changing ingredient driven Canadian menu with a focus on sharing plates, along side our hand picked 100% VQA Wine list, Toronto craft micro brews, and an exciting cocktail menu showcasing small batch distilleries.

Gladstone House Bistro + Bar, Toronto, ON

After our float, Gord and I were hungry (you are supposed to just eat a light meal 60-90 minutes before your float) so we had a late brunch across the street at the Gladstone House Bistro + Bar.  It's been a while since we've been there.

Gord ordered the Good Morning Burger.  He said it was delicious and cleaned his plate!

Float Toronto, Toronto, ON

I took a walk around our 'hood last Saturday and discovered Float Toronto on Queen Street W (at Beaconsfield).

I'd heard about floating and was intrigued about it.

Floatation therapy, also known as floating, floatation, sensory deprivation, or R.E.S.T (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) involves lying in a salt-water solution in a spacious tank. It is one of the most effective means of stress relief and relaxation available. Now widely accepted as a legitimate therapy, floatation is also used to treat a wide range of ailments and conditions and has been proven to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone). The term sensory deprivation is often used as the environment is designed to limit sensory input and allow your body to fully relax.

Your ears (with earplugs in) stay just below the water; the tanks are insulated against sound leaving you in peaceful silence.  After you shut the door and turn off the light, you float in total darkness – you won’t notice a difference between keeping your eyes open or closed.  Inside the tank, you’ll find 10 inches of water and 900 lbs. of dissolved Epsom salts – a solution that allows you to float effortlessly. The water and air are both kept at 34.1C – this is skin-receptor neutral, which means that when you fully relax, you lose track of where your body ends and the water or air begins. During your float, the outside world is gone and amazing things happen. It turns out that when you’re not fighting gravity or receiving sensory input, your body has a lot of extra resources at its disposal. Your mind is free to navigate without distraction, your brain pumps out dopamine and endorphins, and the parasympathetic nervous system gets to work helping you rest, de-stress and heal. It’s likely to be the most relaxing thing you’ve ever experienced.

Gord and I made an appointment for noon today.

You can have some tea or water afterwards

Friday 27 February 2015

Burrito Boyz, Toronto, ON (Queen W)

I love burritos and I love love love the ones at Burrito Boyz best!

They opened one west of our 'hood in September (at Queen Street W/King Street W/Roncesvalles) and I thought I'd check it for lunch today.

I ordered what I always order ... a large chicken burrito.  It was delicious!

My burrito had chicken, beans, rice, cheese, corn, tomatoes and burrito sauce

The staff was really friendly!  I'll be back!

Burrito Boyz on Urbanspoon

Thursday 26 February 2015

Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2

The company I work for has a box for the Toronto Maple Leafs games.  Some of my clients were invited to tonight's game and I was there.

The Leafs were playing the Philadelphia Flyers.

The teams warmed up.

There was a pregame light show that was cool.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Cora Breakfast and Lunch, Milton, ON

I had an enrolment seminar to conduct in Milton this afternoon.  I met the broker on the account beforehand for lunch.  She suggested Cora, which was near the client's site ... I've never been to one before but had heard the food at them is good.

It's not your typical menu with burgers or hot dogs ... they have them are but they are on crepes rather than buns.  The focus is on omelettes, fresh fruit, waffles, crepes, eggs, French toast, etc.

I ordered a waffle with fresh strawberries.  I'd never had one before and it was delicious.  The waffle was warm ... soft on the inside with a bit of crunch on the outside.  So decadent for lunch!  It was huge and I managed to eat it all.

Amber was our server and she took excellent care of us!

Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Urbanspoon

Monday 23 February 2015

23andMe - Ancestry composition

A couple weeks ago I ordered DNA kits for Gord and I from 23andMe.  The kit helps you determine your ancestry but also points out any health risks.  I thought the results would be interesting because I'm into genealogy.  The health stuff would be good to know too.

The box the kit comes in
Here's what's inside
Here's what's inside
You have to submit a lot of spit and then
mix it with a solution
Then you put it in the bag and seal it
Then mail it in (postage is included)

We mailed our kits and waited.  We got emails over the weekend that our results were ready.  There is a lot of info to take in but here's my ancestry composition.

Though not a big surprise as I knew that most of my ancestors, both on my maternal and paternal sides, were originally from England, Scotland and Ireland, it was still interesting to see the percentages.  I also knew I had some French ancestry.

Also listed are DNA relatives.  I contacted two that were possible 2nd to 3rd cousins and it turns out they are indeed my cousins ... one is my third cousin and the other is my 2nd cousin 1x removed!  Wow!

It should be interesting to learn more about my results as I dig into it.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Book ~ "Passing Through Perfect" (2015) Bette Lee Crosby

From Goodreads ~ It's 1946. The war is over. Millions of American soldiers are coming home and Benjamin Church is one of them. After four years of being away he thought things in Alabama would have changed, but they haven't. Grinder's Corner is as it's always been - a hardscrabble burp in the road. It's not much, but it's home. 

When Benjamin attends a harvest festival in Twin Pines, he catches sight of Delia. Before their first dance ends, he knows for certain she's the one. They fall madly in love: happily, impatiently, imprudently, in love. It doesn't matter that her daddy is staunchly opposed to the thought of his daughter marrying a cotton farmer, never mind a poor one. 

It's true Benjamin has little to offer; he's a sharecropper who will spend his whole life sweating and slaving to do little more than put food on the table. But that's how things are in Alabama. Benjamin is better off than most; he has a wife, a boy he adores and a house that doesn't leak rain. Yes, Benjamin considers himself a lucky man until the fateful night that changes everything.

Benjamin spent four years as a soldier in WWI.  He had dreams of being a pilot but ended up as a mechanic instead.  His father, Otis, is a sharecropper in Alabama who lost his will after his wife died two years earlier so it's up to Benjamin to turn the farm around.  When Benjamin meets Delia at a dance, he knows she's the one for him and they eventually get married and have a son, Isaac.  Delia would like to move north where the colour of a person's skin doesn't matter and Isaac will have a chance of being something more than a sharecropper like his daddy.  They have tough times financially but Benjamin is happy with his life.  Something happens one night that changes everything and Benjamin realizes that there are indeed difference rules for blacks and whites.

This is the second book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  It was well-paced ... plus the story was an interesting one.  It is written in third person perspective, though some chapters are in first person perspective ... they are short and italicized and the name of the person is at the beginning of these chapters so you know who the focus is.  This style worked for me as it let me get into their heads and know what they were thinking.  As a head's up, the language at times is for mature readers.

It's hard to believe that things were like that back then ... stores and restaurants with signs in the window saying "No coloureds".  As the daughter of a preacher, Delia had been raised with more financially than Benjamin and wanted more for her family.  She resented the attitude of whites towards black and knew there were places where blacks were accepted and could be doctors and lawyers ... that's what she wanted for her son.  Benjamin didn't know any different and accepted that this was his lot in life ... he was respectful, hardworking and knew his place.

I received a copy of this ebook at no charge from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Book ~ "Barnacle Love" (2008) Anthony De Sa

From Goodreads ~ At the heart of this collection of intimately linked stories is the relationship between a father and his son. A young fisherman washes up nearly dead on the shores of Newfoundland. It is Manuel Rebelo who has tried to escape the suffocating smallness of his Portuguese village and the crushing weight of his mother’s expectations to build a future for himself in a terra nova. Manuel struggles to shed the traditions of a village frozen in time and to silence the brutal voice of Maria Theresa da Conceicao Rebelo, but embracing the promise of his adopted land is not as simple as he had hoped.

Manuel’s son, Antonio, is born into Toronto’s little Portugal, a world of colourful houses and labyrinthine back alleys. In the Rebelo home, the Church looms large, men and women inhabit sharply divided space, pigs are slaughtered in the garage, and a family lives in the shadow cast by a father’s failures. Most days Antonio and his friends take to their bikes, pushing the boundaries of their neighbourhood street by street, but when they finally break through to the city beyond they confront dangers of a new sort.

With fantastic detail, larger-than-life characters and passionate empathy, Anthony De Sa invites readers into the lives of the Rebelos and finds there both the promise and the disappointment inherent in the choices made by the father and the expectations placed on the son.

It's the 1950s in Portugal.  As the oldest son, Manuel's mother has high hopes for him.  Manual wants to leave his small village and experience the world so he gets a job on a fishing boat which will take him off the coast of Newfoundland.  Despite the guilt that he feels about leaving his family and disappointing his mother, he settles in Canada and looks forward to the endless possibilities and making something of himself.

Fast forward and it's the 1970s and Manuel is now married, living in Toronto and has two children.  They "live" in the Palmerston/Queen Street W area  ... just east of my 'hood so I knew a lot of the landmarks mentioned.  Though they (and the rest of his family) are now living in Toronto, they still have the same traditions from home such as butchering pigs in garages and making their own wine.  None of Manuel's dreams have come true and he sees himself as a failure.  He wants to make sure that same doesn't happen to his children.  But the same pressures his mother put on him, he is putting on his son, Antonio.  It was sad to see that optimistic Manuel had turned into bitter Manuel.

This is the second book I've read by this author.  I had read Kicking the Sky (written in 2013) a couple years go, which took an experience from Barnacle Love and expanded on it. 

It's a sad depressing story.  I found the writing a bit draggy in places and it could have been tighter.  It a bit confusing at times as the author jumped back and forth in time a bit.  Manuel's story in the 1950s (the first part of the book) was written in third person perspective and Antonio's story in the 1970s is written in first person perspective from Antonio's point of view. I found this a bit confusing too until I figured out whose voice it was.

Except for Antonio, I didn't find the characters likeable.  Everyone let Manuel get away with being just a jerk for so long.  He had so much yet couldn't see it.  Like Antonio, I kept wondering why his mother hadn't left.

I wasn't crazy about the ending.

Levetto, Toronto, ON

I felt like going out for lunch today but because of the snow, I didn't feel like going too far.  So I walked to Levetto, which is in our 'hood at Dovercourt/Queen W.  Gord and I checked it out soon after they opened and enjoyed it.  We've also gotten take-out from there.

I ordered a Coke Zero and a small spicy Soppressata pizza and ate it there.

Rare to find it in a glass bottle