Thursday 31 August 2017

Blaze Pizza, Toronto, ON (Dundas E)

Gord, Rebecca, Shawna, Trish and I saw The Hitman's Bodyguard this evening.

We had supper beforehand at Blaze Pizza (at Yonge Street/Dundas Street E) beforehand.  We've been there before and like it.

The restaurant was jammed!

You can order one of their signature pizzas or build your own ... we built our own.  There are lots of ingredients to choose from.

That's mine being prepared

A pizza takes just 180 seconds to bake.

Happy 15th anniversary, Sister Sarah and Joey

Sister Sarah and Joey got married 15 years ago today ... in a lovely park in Halifax, NS!

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Book ~ "The Nightgown" (2012) Brad Parks

From GoodreadsOnly 24 years old and still a wide-eyed reporter for a tiny backwater newspaper, Ross is getting his crack at the big leagues with an interview at New Jersey's largest paper, The Eagle-Examiner. If - that if - he nails the interview and the on-the-spot writing test. Ross has never had a problem spinning a story, but provided with notes he didn't take and quotes he didn't hear it feels flat, and he's not so sure about his chances.

So when a car crashes into a building in a nearby town and Carter overhears the assignments editor complaining that there's no one left in the building whom she can send out to cover the story, Carter jumps at the chance and quickly finds himself dangerously close to being in over his head.

This novella tells how Carter Ross got his job working for The Eagle-Examiner, a newspaper in New Jersey.  He was 24 years old, young and eager, and applying for the job as a reporter.  As he was going through the testing to show his talent, using information the newspaper provided so he could write a fake news story, a call comes in that a prominent local citizen had been in a car accident.  If alcohol was involved, this would be quite the scandal.

With no other reporters available, Carter volunteered and this instead became his test.  Knowing what's on the line, he was determined to do the best job he could.  As he investigated, he discovered that not everything was as it seemed.

This is the beginning of the Carter Ross series (though it was written after the first couple books had been written).  I like this series and enjoyed the writing style ... it was funny and sarcastic.  It is written in first person perspective in Carter's voice.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Book ~ "Skinheads, Fur Traders, and DJs: An Adventure Through the 1970s" (2017) Kim Clarke Champniss

From Goodreads ~ A true story of an adventurous pop-loving teenager who, in the early 1970s, went from London's discotheques to the Canadian sub-arctic to work for the Hudson's Bay Company. His job? Buying furs and helping run the trading post in the settlement of Arviat (then known as Eskimo Point), Northwest Territories (population: 750). 

That young man was Kim Clarke Champniss, who would later become a VJ on MuchMusic. His extraordinary adventures unfolded in a chain of On the Road experiences across Canada. His mind-boggling journey, from London, to the far Canadian North, to the spotlight, is the stuff of music and TV legends. 

Kim brings his incredible knowledge of music and pop culture and the history of disco music, weaving them into this wild story of his exciting and uniquely crazy 1970s. 

I remember Kim Clarke Champniss when he was a VJ for MuchMusic in the 1980s.  This book is about his life in the 1970s.

Kim was raised in London, England.  With no prospects and looking for adventure, he moved to Canada when he was 19 to work in the small community of Eskimo Point (now called Arviat) in the North for the Hudson's Bay Company.  There his life was very different than what he left in London ... there were no fancy clothes or radio which must have been quite the adjustment for a young man used to dancing in clubs often.  He was living among the Inuits who made their living hunting and fishing.  He still has fond memories of his time there and the people he met.  Once he fulfilled his year obligation, he moved to Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and even Australia.  He eventually settled back in Vancouver, enrolled in university and got a job DJing in clubs (disco was all the rage at the time).

I liked the writing style and found his story interesting.  Not only is it about what was happening with the author in the 1970s but he also describes what was happening in the world at that time ... in music, TV, movies, fashion and politics.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Monday 28 August 2017

Book ~ "The Player" (2014) Brad Parks

From Goodreads ~ When he hears residents of a Newark neighborhood are getting sick - and even dying - from a strange disease, investigative reporter Carter Ross dives into the story - so deep he comes down with the illness himself. With even more motivation to track down the source of the disease, Carter soon hits upon a nearby construction site. But when the project's developer is found dead, and his mob ties surface, Carter knows he's looking at a story much bigger - and with even more dangerous consequences - than an environmental hazard. 

Back in the newsroom, Carter has his hands full with his current girlfriend and with the paper's newest eager intern, not to mention his boss and former girlfriend Tina Thompson, who has some news for Carter that's about to make tangling with the mob seem simple by comparison.

Carter Ross is a reporter for a newspaper in New Jersey.  He picks ups a story about a neighbourhood where everyone is getting sick, breaking limbs and even death.  When he goes there to investigate, he too gets briefly sick which definitely makes him more interested.  Before he can dig into it too much, though, he is reassigned to investigate the murder of a well-known builder, whose body was found on his construction site near the neighbourhood with the illnesses.  The construction site seems to be on the up and up but is it?

In the meantime, Carter is still dating a colleague but his boss and former girlfriend has some interesting news for him.

I liked this book, and though I found it ended quickly and neatly, I didn't see the "whodunnit" coming.  I enjoyed the writing style ... it was funny and sarcastic.  It is written in first person perspective in Carter's voice.  As a head's up, there is swearing.  I liked the characters.  Carter is funny yet dorky and the other characters are colourful.

This is the fifth book in the Carter Ross series and I like this series.  Despite being part of a series, this book works well as a stand alone so you don't need to read the others to enjoy this one as there is enough background provided.

Sunday 27 August 2017

Bruno Mars: 24K Magic World Tour, Air Canada Centre (ACC), Toronto, ON

My pal, Shawna, lived in Toronto for many years and moved back home to Regina, SK, about five years ago.  She comes to Toronto a couple times a year for a visit.  She's back this week and she and I went to the Bruna Mars: 24K Magic World Tour concert tonight.

Before the concert, Gord, Shawna and I had supper at the Wheat Sheaf.  Shawna loves their wings and it's a tradition to have a supper there.

Gord and I

There was lots of Bruno swag for sale at the ACC ... teeshirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, posters, etc.

Here are Shawna and I in our seats before the show started.

Shawna and I

DJ Irskdiddy opened the show at about 8pm with a 30 minute set.

Waiting for Bruno ...

Saturday 26 August 2017

Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), Toronto, ON

Gord and I went to the CNE this afternoon.

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), also known as The Ex, is an annual event that takes place at Exhibition Place in Toronto, during the 18 days leading up to and including Labour Day Monday. With approximately 1.3 million visitors each year, the CNE is Canada’s largest annual fair and the seventh largest in North America. The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers, and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation. As Canada has grown as a nation, the CNE has also changed over time, reflecting the growth in diversity and innovation, though agriculture and technology remain a large part of the CNE today.

Admission was $19 (plus tax) and there is something for everyone ... rides, midway, games of chance, food, shopping (I bought a kitty teeshirt), music and more!

We checked out the Canadian Armed Forces display.

Book ~ "My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward" (2017) Mark Lukach

From GoodreadsA heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love. Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Eventually, Giulia fully recovered and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.

A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, "My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward" is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love. 

Mark and Giulia met and fell in love when they were 18. Six years later, they were happily married, living and working in San Francisco. A couple years later, with no history of mental illness, Giulia suffered a psychotic episode and became obsessed with God and the devil. Mark took her to the hospital and she ended up being committed to a psych ward for about a month. Various combinations of medications were tried until the right one was found. Giulia was released but was very depressed and suicidal. Throughout this, Mark was trying to carry the load of maintaining the household, keeping his job and being supportive for Giulia.

Giulia eventually recovered and they worked to get their life back to "normal" (Giulia's illness had caused quite a strain on their relationship). She eventually got pregnant and they had a son named Jonas.  Then Giulia had two more episodes over the next few years but they learned that by letting Giulia have a voice in her recovery, she has more control.

When Giulia was in the hospital the first time and after she got home, there was a lot of pressure on Mark to care for her.  He's lucky he had his parents and her parents to lend a hand physically and emotionally, especially consider his parents lived in Japan and hers lived in Italy.  Their families have been supportive throughout the years.

This is Mark's story of Giulia's illness and how they dealt with it, with more emphasis on Mark.  I liked the writing style ... I found it interesting and honest.  Their lives had changed considerably when Giulia became psychotic (and then with her recovery afterwards) and Mark's role became that of a constant caregiver.  As a head's up, there is swearing (not surprising considering what they were going through).

Giulia, Jonas, Mark and Goose
Though everything seemed to get back to fairly normal after Giulia's first episode, I had to question their decision to have a child.  Giulia's illness had come on very suddenly and there was no guarantee it wouldn't happen again.  Mark had lamented the loss of his lifestyle and that he had no "Mark-time" when Giulia had gotten psychotic the first time.  Having a child to take care of would have (and did) make life more intense.  I also questioned their decision is letting Giulia become the sole earner so Mark could become a writer and then a stay-at-home father.  Stress seemed to push Giulia over the edge so that's the last thing she needed.

Since this is such a personal story, it would have been nice to have had some pictures so we could see what they looked like in happier days to make it easier to connect to their story.

Friday 25 August 2017

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ, Ontario Place, Toronto, ON

The first ever Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival is happening this weekend at Ontario Place and I checked it out this evening.

Fire up the BBQ!  From the team that brought you Taco Fest and Brunch Fest, we are proud to present Beer, Bourbon & BBQ. A one of a kind, social summer experience featuring one of the most celebrated forms of cooking.  Join us for Toronto's best BBQ, ice cold craft beers and refreshing bourbon cocktails all while listening to live country music, line dancing and riding the mechanical bull!  Learn to cook the perfect steak at our grill master school or challenge a friend at axe throwing in our backyard chill zone.  Don't miss out.  End the summer off with the perfect weekend long!

Thursday 24 August 2017

Smoke Signals Barbecue, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went to a restorative yoga class this evening.  Afterwards, we had supper at Smoke Signals Barbecue, which is on Dundas Street W, just east of Dovercourt Road.

Smoke Signals Barbeque specializes in southern barbecue. We devote a meticulous level of detail to the process of smoking meat. Our wood for our fires are hand-selected – to us, it’s as important as any ingredient. Then, we select the best meats and prepare them perfectly for cooking under low heat for hours in our wood burning pits. Our side dishes are cooked with the finest ingredients and tended to with the utmost care.

We ordered a few things and shared ... beef brisket (fatty), pulled pork (with the BBQ sauce on the side), smoke wings (with the sauce on the side) and mac 'n cheese.  Gord's not a fan of sauce so that's why we got them on the side.  The pulled pork was moist and flavourful and didn't need the BBQ sauce that would have been mixed in.  Everything was good and we took a bit home.  Gord also got some smoked pepperettes to take home.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

The Big Apple, Colborne, ON

Driving home from Smiths Falls today, I knew I'd be passing by the Big Apple.  I've driven by it lots of times (it's just off the 401, almost two hours east of Toronto) but have never stopped in so decided to today.  It was a good place to take a break from driving.

The Big Apple has a bakery, stores and a restaurant/bar.  They also have a petting zoo, a miniature golf course and, of course, a big apple, which can be seen from the highway.

The ladies' washroom

Best Western, Smiths Falls, ON

I have a meeting in Smiths Falls this morning and I spent last night at the Best Western.

Here was my room ...

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Book ~ "The Good Cop" (2013) Brad Parks

From Goodreads ~ As long as Newark Eagle-Examiner reporter Carter Ross turns in his stories on deadline, no one bats an eye if he doesn't wander into the newsroom until 10 or 11 in the morning. So it's an unpleasant surprise when he's awakened at 8:38 a.m. by a phone call from his boss, telling him a local policeman was killed and to get the story. Shaking himself awake, Carter heads off to interview the cop's widow. And then he gets another call: the story's off, the cop committed suicide.

But Carter can't understand why a man with a job he loved, a beautiful wife, and plans to take his adorable children to Disney World would suddenly kill himself. And when Carter's attempts to learn more are repeatedly blocked, it's clear someone knows more than he's saying about the cop's death. The question is, who? And what does he have to hide? Carter, with his usual single-minded devotion to a good story - and to the memory of a Newark policeman - will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth. 

Carter Ross is a reporter for a newspaper in New Jersey.  He gets an early morning call one day that a cop has been killed so he dashes off to interview the widow.  Then he finds out that the death was determined to be a suicide so he has to back off.  But something doesn't seem right to Carter.  Why would a man who had everything going for him kill himself?  So Carter continues to investigate.

I liked this book, though I found it ended quickly and neatly.  I enjoyed the writing style ... it was funny and sarcastic.  It is written in first person perspective in Carter's voice.  There are occasional chapters written in third person perspective with a side story about illegal gun sales.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I liked the characters.  Carter is funny yet dorky and the other characters are colourful.

This is the fourth book in the Carter Ross series ... I had read the first three a few years ago and had enjoyed them and the series.  For some reason, though, I had forgotten about this series so I'm catching up.  Despite being part of a series, this book works well as a stand alone so you don't need to read the others to enjoy this one.

Smiths Falls, ON

I have a meeting in Smiths Falls (about four hours northeast of Toronto) tomorrow.

I have never been here before so took a walk towards downtown.

The lock

Matty O'Shea's Pub and Restaurant, Smiths Falls, ON

I had supper this evening at Matty O'Shea's.

I ordered a pretzel and chicken wings.  Yes, a weird combination but they both caught my eye.

The pretzel came first.  It was hot and soft and huge and delicious!  I'd get it again.  Apparently I could get it with either mustard or caramel.  I chose mustard and found it odd that it arrived with a bottle of mustard .... usually pretzels are served with fancy mustard on the side.

I had ordered my wings medium with ranch sauce.  They were good too ... not breaded, which is how I like them.  I'd get them again.