Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Caledonian, Toronto, ON

After we left the Toronto Wolfpack game, Gord, Mary, Malcolm and I had supper at the Caledonian (at College/Ossington).

Toronto Wolfpack 64, Batley Bulldogs 18, Lamport Stadium, Toronto, ON

The Toronto Wolfpack RLFC is a Canadian professional rugby league club, based in here Toronto, which competes in the British Rugby Football League system.  In 2018 the club is competing in the Championship, having begun to play in 2017 in League 1 and won a promotion in its inaugural season.  The club is noted as being the first North American team to play in the Rugby Football League system, the first fully professional rugby league team in Canada and the world's first transatlantic rugby league team.  Their home stadium is Lamport Stadium (aka "The Den"), which is just a couple blocks from where we live.

Today the Wolfpack were playing the Batley Bulldogs.  When we got there, Jefferson, the Wolfpack mascot, was walking around with the League Leaders' Shield, which the Wolfpack won last week.

Gord, Jefferson and I

Here's Gord and some of the Wolfpack cheerleaders.

Our friends, Malcolm and Mary, joined us at today's game.

The Wolfpack players huddled during their practice.

Book ~ "Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality" (2012) Jacob Tomsky

From Goodreads ~ Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes and taken your money. In "Heads in Beds", he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know.

"Heads in Beds" is a funny, authentic and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets - not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.

Along his journey, Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him, you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.

The author had graduated from university with a philosophy degree and no job prospects.  On a lark, he applied for a job as a parking valet for a new hotel in New Orleans.  He got the job and became "Tom" (later "Thomas").  He eventually got promoted to supervising the housekeeping staff ... less money and more hours.  Burnt out, he took a year off and traveled around Europe.  Broke and ready to get back to a "real life" again, he headed to New York hoping to transfer his skills to another profession.  Unfortunately that didn't happen and "Thomas" ended up manning the front desk of a hotel in Manhattan.

Because of my job, I spend a fair bit of time traveling and in hotels ... and that's why this book caught my eye.  I was curious to see what goes on in the industry and get a behind-the-scenes peek into the hotel business.  Basically you can get anything you want if you want to slip someone some cash.  The author wrote about his experience working and traveling in the U.S. ... I'm not sure if it would work at a hotel here in Canada (maybe depending on the hotel?).  But I did learn how to get free movies and free booze from the mini-bar.

I liked this book and found it interesting and enlightening.  I liked the writing style ... it was funny and snarky.  It was definitely not boring.  The author's sense of humour and expression may not be for everyone but I enjoyed it.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Book ~ "Just Fly Away" (2017) Andrew McCarthy

From Goodreads ~ When fifteen-year-old Lucy Willows discovers that her father has a child from a brief affair, a eight-year-old boy named Thomas who lives in her own suburban New Jersey town, she begins to question everything she thinks she knows about her family and her life. 

Lucy can’t believe her father betrayed the whole family, or that her mother forgave him, or that her sister isn’t rocked by the news the way Lucy is. Worse, Lucy’s father’s secret is now her own, one that isolates her from her friends, family, and even her boyfriend, Simon, the one person she expected would truly understand. 

When Lucy escapes to Maine, the home of her mysteriously estranged grandfather, she finally begins to get to the bottom of her family’s secrets and lies. 

I caught the last half hour of Pretty in Pink (1986) a couple weeks ago (I've seen that movie about a million times) and I wondered what Andrew McCarthy is up to these days.  So I Googled him and discovered he'd written a novel.  The premise sounded interesting so I thought I'd check it out.

Lucy is 15-years-old, the oldest of two girls.  She's shocked when her parents disclose that nine years ago her father had had a one-time fling.  The woman got pregnant and is now raising their eight-year-old son, Thomas, on her own (her choice).  Lucy's father had told her mother about it at the time and she forgave him and they carried on.  Lucy isn't able to forgive her parents for keeping the fact she has a brother a secret, her father for the fling or her mother for forgiving him for what he had done.

School ends for the summer and Lucy needs to get away for a while.  She spontaneously jumps on a Greyhound bus heading to her paternal grandfather's.  She has only met him once but has fond memories of him.  Her father and his father don't get along, hence the estrangement.  Spending time with her grandfather, not only does she get to know her grandfather but she also gets to know more about her own father.

Though this book is directed to young adults (and it's been a long time since I've been a young adult), I liked it.  Despite the target audience, the story kept me interested.  I liked the writing style and thought it flowed well.  It is written in first person perspective in Lucy's voice.  As a head's up, there is some swearing and adult activity between Lucy and her boyfriend, Simon.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Book ~ "Remember Tokyo" (2018) Nick Wilkshire

From Goodreads ~ In Tokyo, Charlie Hillier discovers you can’t always bank on the truth.

Fresh off a harrowing experience in Russia, Charlie is keen to lay low and his latest posting to Tokyo offers him the chance to immerse himself in a truly foreign culture.

Charlie is soon drawn into his first consular case when a successful young investment banker winds up in a coma following a car accident. After a man claiming to be a friend of the banker’s turns up dead, Charlie and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police inspector assigned to investigate the murder, Chikako Kobayashi, discover that trusting the banker - who emerges from his coma with amnesia - may be a dangerous decision. As Charlie tries to sift truth from deceit, he’s unsure if he’s dealing with a man whose accident has brought about a profound change for the better or a devious criminal lurking behind a convenient facade.

Charlie is in his 40s, divorced and working with Foreign Affairs, reporting to headquarters in Ottawa.  He recently transferred from a posting in Moscow to Tokyo, with a brief stop in Ottawa.  He suffering from jet lag and a bit of culture shock. 

His first case is a Canadian named Rob who was hurt in a car accident and in a coma.  Charlie does all he can to find family and/or friends back home in Canada but comes up empty.  When Rob comes out of his coma, he has amnesia and doesn't remember Aiko, his girlfriend, or Steve, his good friend who is visiting him from Canada.  When Steve turns up dead of an apparent mugging, Inspector Kobayashi becomes involved and together she and Charlie try to figure out what's going on.

This is the third and latest in the A Foreign Affairs Mystery series (I read the first two) and I liked it.  I find Charlie to be a likable guy.  All poor Charlie wants is a little bit of calmness and he's always being pulled into something.  It is written in third person perspective, mostly from Charlie's point of view.  The author makes Tokyo come alive in his descriptions.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I look forward to reading more by this author.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Book ~ "The Complete Photo Guide to Beading" (2012) Robin Atkins

From Goodreads ~ This comprehensive reference fully explores the various types of beadwork, including beading on fabric, fringing, bead weavings, bead embroidery and beaded jewelry. 

With easy-to-follow organization, this guide provides step-by-step directions and 500 full color photos for clear understanding. 

Basic projects provide opportunities for crafters to try the techniques, and galleries of unique beaded designs and creations by various bead artists offer beautiful examples and inspiration. It’s the only book you need to get started on beadwork. 

Begin your beading adventure today with "The Complete Photo Guide to Beading"! 

The last couple of years I've thought it would be fun to make stuff with beads ... nothing extravagant or flashy.  With my quest to learn how to make a daisy chain in my anklet (mission accomplished), I'd check out some books on beading.

The chapters in this book are:
  1. Introduction - magic of beads, saga of beads, all about beads and a basic beading kit
  2. Bead-stringing - tools and supplies, techniques, design, stringing on various materials (elastic, wire, etc.), hand knotting, etc.
  3. Bead weaving - tools and supplies, techniques, stitches, knitting with beads, etc.
  4. Bead embroidery - sewing with beads, tools and supplies, techniques, design, stitches, etc.
I thought this was an excellent book for a beginner like me but it would also appeal to more experienced beaders.  I found the instructions in this book really easy to follow and there are lots of step-by-step pictures on how to do things.  There were full-colour pictures of projects you can do with varying levels of difficulty... necklaces, earrings, bracelets, purses, baskets and more.  Some of the projects were too fancy/flashy for me but I got some ideas for some fun things I'd like to try ... the knitted scarf with beads caught my eye.

Last week I'd picked up a package of letters and a spool of elastic string and made this easy cheap bracelet before I read about it in the book (that was the extent of my beading last week):

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Book ~ "Beading Basics" (2006) Carole Rodgers

From Goodreads ~ Discover the basics of beading and beyond!

If you've been tempted by the beauty of beaded jewelry and home decorating pieces, but second guessed your abilities to learn the skills needed to create such tantalizing works, fear no more! 

"Beading Basics" reveals all that's necessary for creating everything from a simple single-strand necklace to a more intricate netting stitch woven wind bottle covers.

I recently found a couple cheap beaded anklets I'd bought about 20 years ago.  I'd forgotten all about them so started wearing them again.  But the clasps are broken and the strings are stretched so I wanted to repair them and figured I could do it.  I decided to put them them on an elastic string to remove the need for the clasps.  When I took one apart, I discovered the flowers are done in a daisy chain, rather than being a whole bead.  So that started my quest to learn how to do a daisy chain.  And that's what brought me to this book.

Daisy chain - Source

Plus I think I'd like to work with beads ... nothing fancy or flashy, just fun stuff.  Last week, I'd picked up a package of letters and a spool of elastic string and made this bracelet:

The chapters in this book are:
  1. Getting started - beads and supplies/tools
  2. Tips and techniques
  3. Design principles and colour theory
  4. Projects - there are 40 projects including bracelets, earrings, necklaces, wine rings, lampshades, etc. along with pictures
For the most part, I found the instructions in this book fairly easy and there are lots of how-to illustrations.  I think they will make more sense once I actually try them.  Some of the projects were too fancy/flashy for me but I got some ideas on some fun things I'd like to try.

The good news, though, is that I now know how to do a daisy chain!  Mission accomplished!

Monday, 9 July 2018

Book ~ "Brain Droppings" (1998) George Carlin

From Goodreads ~ George Carlin's been working the crowd since "the counterculture" became "the over-the-counter culture" around 1967 or so; his new book, "Brain Droppings", surfs on three decades of touring-in-support. 

It's the purest version of book-as-candy that one could imagine, serving up humor in convenient, bite-sized packages. Snack on chewy one-liners like "A meltdown sounds like fun. Like some kind of cheese sandwich." Or: "If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten." 

"Brain Droppings" also contains highlights from Carlin's concert repertoire and that more than makes up for the occasional spray of pointless nihilism. Tell us, George, what exactly were you going for with "Kill your pet" and "Satan is cool"? 

Quick - hide the paper before Daddy sees it! Still, if you're a fan of this sarcastic semanticist who's given Bad Attitude not necessarily a good name, but at least a comfy bank account, by all means rush out and snag Brain Droppings. Carlin's book melts in your mind, not in your hand. 

George Carlin was an American stand-up comedian, actor, author and social critic.  He passed away in 2008 at the age of 71.  He was noted for his black comedy and reflections on politics, the English language, psychology, religion and various taboo subjects including his "seven dirty words".

Though Carlin wasn't for everyone, I find/found him amusing.  This book includes his rants about food terms, names, book club titles, a place for your stuff, the difference between baseball and football, his childhood and more. 

I was in the mood for something light and fun and this fit the bill.  As a head's up, there is a lot of swearing.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

"From Newfoundland with Asthma" with Colin Hollett, The Toronto Fringe, St.Vladimir Theatre, Toronto.

The 30th Toronto Fringe Festival runs from July 4 to 15.

This afternoon Gord and I saw Colin Hollett:  From Newfoundland with Asthma, part of the festival.

One of the hottest comedians in Canada with a large facebook cult following. His contagious energy and undeniable charm makes his personal tragedies and furious rants a great time for everyone else. Headlining and selling out comedy clubs nationwide, Colin is an absolute must see act! Suitable for ages 16+.

I first saw Colin at the East Coast Comedy Night 3 in October 2016.  He was a last-minute replacement for one of the comedians and I thought he was hilarious.  I've been following him on Facebook and Twitter since.

He was at the St. Vladmir Theatre (Spadina Avenue/Harbord Street).

Colin ranted, raved and told stories about being from Newfoundland, visiting Toronto, dating, having asthma and more for an hour.  As before, he was hilarious!  He still has five shows left in the festival and I highly recommend you check him out.  As a head's up, there is a lot of swearing.

Book ~ "Murder Borrowed, Murder Blue" (2018) Stephanie Blackmoore

From Goodreads ~ A celebrity couple getting hitched on Valentine's Day would be a big boost for Mallory Shepard's wedding planning business but someone's got cold feet: a corpse.

Actress Dakota Craig is set to tie the knot with her famous musician boyfriend at Mallory's Pennsylvania B&B on the most romantic day of the year. Best of all, the whole thing will air on the reality TV show "I Do". But the maid of honor has dropped out of the wedding party - by dropping dead. 

A lot of people insist the show must go on so Mallory's investigation keeps getting sidetracked by everything from a meddling mother to a foot of snow to a side project making arrangements for a high school Winter Ball. But if she doesn't catch the noxious culprit, the bride might wind up with a funeral wreath instead of a bouquet.

Mallory and her sister, Rachel, run Thistle Inn, a B&B, and are also wedding planners.  Actress Dakota and country singer Beau are getting married at the inn on Valentine's Day.  In addition, the wedding is getting filmed for the reality TV show, I Do.  Though the hostess of the show is causing issues, this is going to be great exposure for Mallory and Rachel's wedding planning business and the inn.  When the maid of honour is found murdered, the wedding still goes on but any number of people could have killed her. 

In addition, Mallory and Rachel got roped into hosting the local high school's Winter Ball.  It should be an easy project except Helene, Mallory's almost-mother-in-law, is on the planning committee and the rest of the committee had overruled everything she had wanted while she was out of town.  Though inwardly Mallory is happy about it, she has to experience the wrath of Helene when it's discovered.

This is the third in the Wedding Planner Mystery series and I liked it (I recently read the first two).  You don't need to have read the first ones as this one works well as a stand alone (there is enough background information provided).

I liked the writing style ... it is written in first person perspective from Mallory's point of view.  I thought the story was interesting and there were lots of people who could have "dunnit".  It kept me guessing until the end.  I found there was a lot going on, though ... so many sub-plots.  There are recipes at the end which sound delicious.

Mallory is dating her neighbour, Garrett.  They started dating in book two and I'm not finding a lot of attraction or heat between them ... they hold hands and he kisses her forehead.  Maybe because it's considered a "cozy mystery"?

I look forward to reading others in this series and by this author.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Shania Now Tour, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON

Shania Twain is on tour.  Last summer we bought tickets for tonight's concert.

Gord's a big country fan and I like some of it.  We both like her music, though Gord has been a fan longer and likes her more than I do.  We saw her in concert about 15 years ago.

The concert was at the Scotiabank Arena (until this week it was the Air Canada Centre).

The concert was supposed to start at 7:30pm.  Bastian Baker opened for her.  We only saw his last song as we got there late (about 8:10pm) ... the service at the restaurant where we had supper beforehand took longer than we'd expected.

Here are Gord and I during the intermission.

Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar, Toronto, ON (Front Street)

Before the Shania Twain concert tonight, Gord and I had supper at Scaddabush, on Front Street W at Simcoe Street.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Book ~ "Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man" (2016) William Shatner and David Fisher

From Goodreads ~ Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner first crossed paths as actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science-fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated. In seventy-nine television episodes and six feature films, they grew to know each other more than most friends could ever imagine. 

Over the course of half a century, Shatner and Nimoy saw each other through personal and professional highs and lows. In this powerfully emotional book, Shatner tells the story of a man who was his friend for five decades, recounting anecdotes and untold stories of their lives on and off set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well, to present a full picture of a rich life. 

As much a biography of Nimoy as a story of their friendship, Leonard is a uniquely heartfelt book written by one legendary actor in celebration of another. 

Leonard Nimoy was an American actor, film director, photographer, author, singer and songwriter. He was best known for his role as Spock of the Star Trek franchise, a character he portrayed in television and film from a pilot episode shot in late 1964 to his final film performance in 2013.  He past away in 2015 at the age of 83.

This book is written by William Shatner, his Star Trek co-star and friend of many years.  The book starts with Nimoy's childhood, growing up in Boston, the son of Jewish immigrants who had escaped from the Ukraine.  His parents had wanted him to go to university so he would have a "stable" career but instead he wanted to pursue acting.  Doing many odd jobs that rarely lasted more than two weeks while he was picking up acting jobs, he caught a break when he was cast as Spock in Star Trek.  In addition to playing Spock in TV shows and movies, he was also in plays, non-Star Trek movies and eventually directed movies (such as Three Men and a Baby).  Later in life, he became a successful photographer.

I will admit that I'm not a Star Trek fan but I do like learning more about different people.  I thought Nimoy would have an interesting life and he did.  It was interesting to learn Nimoy's story told from Shatner's point of view.  They didn't always get along but Shatner's love and respect for Nimoy comes through.

I liked the writing style and would recommend this book even if you aren't a Star Trek fan (like me).

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Cambridge, ON

I had an early lunch today at Swiss Chalet in Cambridge

I'm back on track and ordered what I usually order at Swiss Chalet ... a half chicken dinner with corn.  It's Weight Watcher friendly (just seven points!).  It was really good.  The corn was obviously frozen but hadn't been sitting around ... it was hot and crispy.  The chicken was hot and tender.  The roll was warm and the sauce was hot and had a tasty.

Swiss Chalet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Book ~ "The Power of Dog" (2018) Andrew G. Marshall

From Goodreads ~ On the eve of the millenium, the life of therapist and best-selling self-help author, Andrew Marshall, was in a dark place. Despite trying three different therapists, had not shifted the grief from the death of his much-loved partner. His career as a journalist had reached a dead end. He was struggling with low-level depression and his polite but distant relationship with his mother had left them both tip-toeing around each other. 

His solution? To get Flash, a collie cross puppy – perhaps not the best choice for someone who’d never owned a dog, or even lived with one, before. In this funny and moving memoir, Marshall chronicles not only the ups and downs of training an excitable puppy but how slowly but surely, Flash taught Marshall to laugh again and helped to heal old wounds. 

I love reading books about animals so that's why this one caught my eye ... plus how could I resist the picture of the dog on the cover?

At the end of 1999, Andrew was a struggling 40ish journalist, grieving over the loss of his partner who had passed away almost three years prior.  He was lonely and wanting to make some changes in his life.  Growing up he was never allowed to have a dog so decided to get a finally get one.  So he adopted a puppy and named him Flash.  This is Andrew's diary of getting Flash and his life with him (travelling, training classes, interactions with his friends, etc.).

I thought this book was okay ... Flash sounded like an amazing dog and it's obvious they had a strong bond.

I found the author kind of mopey and desperate for love, though.  As such, I find it ironic that on his website he calls himself "the U.K.'s best-known marital therapist".  When Flash was older, he was prepared to leave Flash with various people so he could spend a month in Edinburgh with his new partner.  A couple nights here and there are fine but month is a long time to be away.  I didn't find his new partner overly likable or sympathetic when Flash was nearing the end.

I found it odd that as strict as he was about training Flash (they went through training together), he allowed his dog to eat as much garbage as he did ... cigarette butts, cigar butts, plastic food wrappers. poop, etc.

Growing up, he had a fear of wolves and I found he spent a lot of time going on about this.  So glad he finally overcame it.

I know the copy I read was not the final version.  But Andrew is a journalist and an author and there were an amazing amount of typos and grammatical errors.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Northern Maverick Brewing Co., Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper at Northern Maverick Brewing Co. this evening (on Bathurst Street just north of King Street W).  They opened in September and I've been wanting to check them out.

Alas, it was too hot to sit on the patio
You can buy their beer to take home