Saturday 31 October 2015

"Sherlock Holmes", Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, ON

 Gord and I saw Sherlock Holmes this evening.

The opium wars have ended. 

The Ripper has wreaked his havoc. 

And when a drowned body is discovered and Lord Neville goes missing, Scotland Yard, in desperation, turns for help from “the world’s only consulting detective.”

 David Arquette stars as Sherlock Holmes in an original adaptation by Greg Kramer inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic tales. 

It was playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Gord and I enjoy seeing plays and have seen many.  This one was soooooo bad.  The acting was really horrible.  The actors were fumbling their lines and stepping on each other's lines.  I couldn't believe it was a professional production.

How bad was it?  People in front of of us started leaving in the first half hour ... they didn't even wait until the intermission!  When the intermission finally came, we grabbed out coats and left.  When we got outside, we saw that we weren't the only ones heading out and not going back.

The Toronto Star gave it one out of four stars!

November 18 update:  I had contacted Mirvish and asked for my $$ back or a credit for a future show.  I've never done that before ... yes, the show was THAT bad.  I got a refund cheque today.

Duke's Refresher + Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Duke's Refresher + Bar.  We'd been there last year and enjoyed it.

We both ordered wings.  Ciara, our server, recommend them and said they were kick-ass.  Gord got his plain and I got mine with medium sauce and ranch sauce rather than blue cheese.  They were good wings!  They were big and tasty.  I'd get them again.

Because it was Halloween, the staff were having fun celebrating ... I didn't have a problem with this.  But at times I felt like I was interrupting their private party at the back by being there as a customer.

Friday 30 October 2015

Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, London, ON

I had a seminar to conduct this afternoon in London ... I had lunch first at Jack Astor's (on Wellington Road S).

The dining room
I was seated in a booth in the lounge

I ordered what I always order at Jack Astor's ... Chicken Parmigiana. It was delicious!  There was extra creamy cheese sauce on the pasta along with some tomato sauce in the corner ... great for dippy.  There were also garlic chips sprinkled on it ... I'd never seen them before and not surprisingly they were really garlicy.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Book ~ "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" (2015) Jon Ronson

From Goodreads ~ For the past three years, Jon Ronson has traveled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us, people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly or made a mistake at work. Once the transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know, they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice but what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws and the very scary part we all play in it.

I thought this book sounded interesting ... reading about people who had been publicly shamed and how they reacted to it and whether they recovered.  The book had possibilities but I didn't know anyone in the book who had been shamed and didn't really care about them.  Some of the people he interviewed and discussed included:
  • Jonas Lehrer - He spent many chapters about this guy.  He had written a book and had made up quotes about Bob Dylan.
  • Justine Sacco  - She had jokingly tweeted "Going to Africa.  Hope I don't get AIDS.  Just kidding.  I'm white!" 
  • Adria Richards - She had made a big deal after eavesdropping on a job two geeks had made at a conference and they ended up getting fired from their jobs.
  • Max Mosley - He is a former president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) who had gotten exposed as a sadomasochist sex pervert.
  • Lindsay Stone - She had jokingly had her picture taken at a war memorial giving the finger.

Another problem I had with this book is that I found the writing boring ... it could have been a lot tighter.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Clara Hughes

Today and tomorrow I am attending the Canadian Pension & Benefits Institute (CPBI) conference here in Toronto.

It is a day and a half of sessions relating to retirement, investments and benefits (I work in the retirement industry).

The keynote speaker to start the conference this morning was Clara Hughes.

Clara Hughes is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater, who has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. She is tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian with the most Olympic medals, with six medals total. She is one of the few athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympic games.

Because of her success in sports and her humanitarian efforts, Hughes was named to both the Order of Manitoba and as an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is involved with Right To Play, which is an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sports to encourage the development of youth in disadvantaged areas. She has received a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

I had read her book, Open Heart, Open Mind, last month and enjoyed it.  I had heard her speak at another conference in 2010 so was looking forward to hearing her again.

She was sitting at a table in the front before she went on.  I approached her and introduced myself, and talked about recently reading her book, etc.  I had told her that Gord had gone to her Indigo book signing in September and she said to say hello to him.  Awwwww!

In her session, Clara talked about her life ... being an athlete, suffering from depression, etc.  She was very entertaining and motivational.

After her talk, others in the audience went up to her to talk to her ... and she didn't seem to mind.  She was so nice.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Book ~ "Cooking like a Master Chef" (2015) Graham Elliot and Mary Goodbody

From Goodreads ~ In the first cookbook from Graham Elliot, cohost of the popular Fox series MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, 100 deliciously creative recipes show home cooks the basics of cooking and combining flavors - and then urge them to break the rules and put their own spin on great meals.

Graham Elliot wants everyone to cook. To push up their sleeves and get some good food on the table. It’s Graham’s simple philosophy that, while there is no right or wrong when it comes to creativity in the kitchen, you will benefit from knowing some time-honored methods that enable you to serve tasty meals to your family day after day, week after week. So, to teach you his methods and infuse some fun into the process, he’s written "Cooking Like a Master Chef", an easygoing, accessible guide for the home cook to create delicious, beautiful food for every occasion.

Grouped by season (without being a strictly seasonal cooking book), Graham’s 100 recipes are illustrated with gorgeous, full-color photographs and accompanied by simple, straightforward instructions - with great twists for every palate. That’s because being a top-notch chef or a talented home cook means being a free thinker, spontaneous, like a jazz musician. Cooks need to change the music every so often - once they’re comfortable with the basics - to stay on their toes and infuse their routine with new excitement and energy. Here you’ll find recipes for pork chops with root beer BBQ sauce, halibut BLTs, buffalo chicken with Roquefort cream, corn bisque with red pepper jam and lime crema, smoked salmon with a dill schmear and bagel chips, truffled popcorn, and much more. Kids will love whipped yams with roasted turkey, potato gnocchi with brown butter, PBJ beignets, and classic banana splits.

It’s no wonder so many people love Graham and his energetic creativity in the kitchen. With "Cooking Like a Master Chef", now you can learn to be a skilled, resourceful, and endlessly inventive cook who makes food everyone, adults and kids alike, will absolutely relish.

I watch Master Chef and Graham Elliot is one of the judges.  He seems like a nice guy ... that's why this book caught my eye.

The book starts with an intro about Graham.

There is a good variety of recipes ... the sections are:
  1. Bites and snacks - including Curried Corn Nuts, Watermelon-Jalapeno Ice Pops, and Chorizo Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce
  2. Hot soups and cool salads - including Baked Potato Bisque with Wisconsin Cheddar and Candied Bacon, Roasted Potato Salad and Chilled Summer Cantaloupe Soup
  3. Grains and pasta and other good things - including Quinoa with Apples and Cashews, Coconut Rice, Fettuccine with Clams and Fennel Pesto
  4. Catch o' the day - including Roasted Black Cod with Melted Leeks and Champagne Sauce, Maple-Bourbon-Glazed Scallops with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard and Lollapalooza Lobster Corn Dogs
  5. Down on the farm - including Kung Pao Drumsticks with Ginger Honey and Toasted Peanuts, Sesame Chicken Thighs with Bok Choy and Plums and The GrahamBurger
  6. A walk through the garden - including Ginger-Glazed Carrots, Maple Whipped Yams and Fingerling Potato Confit
  7. Sweet treats - including Green Apple Rosemary Sorbet, Bourbon Brownies and Spiced Krispie Treats

Most of the recipes have an introduction or a story.  There are many colourful pictures of what the dishes are supposed to look like.

Plus there are pictures of Graham and his family which makes the book more personal.

I can't wait to make some of the recipes (or have Gord make some ... he already has some marked).  When we do, we'll be sure to post them!

Monday 26 October 2015

beautybox five - October 2015

My October beautybox five arrived today.  The theme is Need a Little Pink-Me-Up? ... I'm assuming it's all pink since October is breast cancer awareness month.

Beauty Box 5 is a subscription-based, beauty sampling service that delivers 5 deluxe samples and full-sized products right to your door every month.

Subscriptions are $12US a month or $99US for a year.  Shipping is free.

Here's what was in it ...

Value = $42.97US

Sunday 25 October 2015

Book ~ "Before I Go to Sleep" (2011) S.J. Watson

From Goodreads ~ Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories. 

 But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities - tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life - and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. 

As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory? 

 Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems. 

Christine wakes up every morning in a strange bed in a strange room with a strange man.  Every day she gets a shock when the strange man explains to her that he is Ben, her husband, and they have been married for many years.  She gets another shock when she looks in the mirror and realizes that she isn't in her twenties anymore ... she's actually middle-aged.  It turns out that Christine has amnesia because of an accident and every morning when she wakes up, she has forgotten what has happened for the last 20+ years.  And so her day begins over and over.

Every morning she gets a call from Dr. Nash, a neurologist who is working with her and writing a paper about her condition,  telling her to look in a box in her closet.  Inside that box is a journal she has started keeping, detailing each day and what she's learned about her life and who she is, in the hopes that eventually she will get her memory back.  But the things she reads about conflict and she's not sure who she can trust and what is real.

This is the debut novel of this author and the first I've read by him ... I thought it was just okay.  It is written in first person perspective from Christine's point of view ... sometimes it is the actual entries from Christine's journal.  I thought the writing was okay, though it could have been a bit tighter as I fought it dragged at times.  Yes, there was a lot of repetition because each day Christine woke up not knowing who she was and had to relearn a lot of the stuff that we already know.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I had to leave my sense of belief at the door for a lot of the book and go with it.  I found it odd that Christine and Ben have been living in their house for a few years but there was no interaction with any of the neighbours.  Christine left the house but never ran into anyone on the street?  I would think that if they knew there was a crazy lady living on the street they would be nosy and curious about her.  And it was surprising that she had no one in the whole wide world (family nor friends) other than Ben who checked in on her other than Dr. Nash, who was a secret from Ben.

It was an interesting premise which I think could have been handled better.  

 November 8 update: It was made into a movie in 2014 with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman (I'd never heard of it).  I watched it today. Though the premise is the same, a lot was different. It wasn't a very good movie :(

Saturday 24 October 2015

East Coast Comedy Night 2, Social Capital Theatre, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went the East Coast Comedy Night 2 at the Social Capital Theatre (which is above the Black Swan Tavern on the Danforth) tonight.

Our second big year! For one night, in one room, we will pack as many comedians and performers from all over the Maritimes and Newfoundland to salute the East Coast. Nova Scotia-style donairs will be available at special comedy pricing and supplied by The FUzZ Box. 

There will be donairs, there will be Screech, there will be Acadians.

I had just happened to come across an ad for it on Facebook this week.  I'm originally from the "East Coast" (I'm from Nova Scotia) so it caught my eye (I never click on Facebook ads).

Tickets were just $15 and the comedians and musicians were all from the East Coast.

They were serving drinks from "down home" ... Alpine beer, Keith's beer (my usual beer of choice) and Newfoundland Screech at great prices.

Marcel St. Pierre was the host ... he was entertaining.

Greyhound Riders played some jigs and reels.

Auld Spot Pub, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at the Auld Spot Pub on the Danforth.

They have a good selection of craft beer on tap.

I ordered Chicken Drummies with honey hot sauce.  They were okay.  The sauce was sweet and had a bit of a bite.

Gord ordered Mac 'n Cheese.  He said it was good.  As he was eating it, though, he said that there was no bacon.  So we asked our server about it and he said there should be thick chunks of bacon in it.  Apparently the cook forgot to put it in.  He knocked off $3 from Gord's meal and gave him a free beer, which was fine with Gord.

KC's tree, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto, ON

This morning on my Twitter feed, I saw that Trinity Bellwoods had posted a picture from their park ... and I recognized KC's tree!

KC's tree is the orange one on the left

Needless to say, I retweeted it!

Gord and I had some errands to run but we stopped first at Trinity Bellwoods Park and took some pictures of KC's tree.  It's changed a lot since we were there last Friday.   The colours of the leaves on the trees are gorgeous!

Similar shot to Trinity Bellwoods'

Book ~ "Extraordinary Everyday Photography: Awaken Your Vision to Create Stunning Images Wherever You Are" (2012) Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring

From Goodreads ~ Get inspired to discover the beautiful images around you.

 Photographers are born travelers. They’ll go any distance to capture the right light, beautiful landscapes, wildlife and people. But exotic locales aren’t necessary for interesting photographs. Wonderful images are hiding almost everywhere; you just need to know how to find them. 

"Extraordinary Everyday Photography" will help you search beyond the surface to find the unexpected wherever you are, be it a downtown street, a local park, or your own front lawn. 

Authors Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring encourage amateur photographers to slow down, open their eyes and respond to what they see to create compelling images that aren’t overworked. Through accessible discussions and exercises, readers learn to use composition, available light, color and point of view to create stunning photographs in any environment. 

Inspiring photo examples from the authors, taken with DSLRs, compact digital cameras, and even iPhones, show that it is the photographer's eye and creative vision - not the gear - that make a great image.

I've got three cameras and tend to take a lot of pictures ... sometimes I get serious and try to take photographs.  I always have my point-and-shoot camera in my bag.

I like reading books about photography because it sparks my interest to take photographs and I find it interesting to see what catches the eyes of professionals and how they do it.

This book has ten chapters:
  1. Finding fresh vision
  2. The moment of perception
  3. Discovering pictures where you live
  4. Expanding the creative process
  5. Capturing everyday moments
  6. Finding your point of view
  7. Creating strong compositions
  8. Exploring the light around you
  9. Photographing the dusk and dawn
  10. Photographing the night around you

This book isn't a technical how-to book.  It is assumed you know how to adjust your aperture and shutter speed, etc.  This book is get you thinking more creatively ... to step out of your box and see things differently.  At the end of the chapters there are exercises.  There are lots of colour pictures in the chapters illustrating what the authors were talking about along with the specs under them (the lens, aperture and shutter speed used).  I thought the pictures were creative and gave me ideas ... as I said, it's good to see what professionals do.  I tend to like taking pictures on angles and using framing.

Friday 23 October 2015

Sunny Morning, Toronto, ON

Gord and I have been to Sunny Morning's Etobicoke location for breakfast a few times and have enjoyed it.  I heard there was one near where I work (Yonge/St. Clair) so I checked it out today for lunch.

It's a small spot and it was jammed when I got there about 12:45ish.

Alyssa in the Etobicoke location had recommended the Maple Chipotle BBQ Burger so that's what I ordered today (minus the cheese, onions and lettuce).  I got homefries as my side.  The burger was huge, messy and delicious!  The bun was soft, just the way I like it.  The BBQ was good and had a bit of a bite.  There was so much food that I ate the burger and left most of the homefries.  I'd order it again.

Look at the size of that burger!