Thursday, July 31, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 1

Just terrific!  Great story, great music, and very well made.  Highly recommended. 

Sad, but thought provoking. Worth watching this for the wake up call (esp. re: environment) it provides.

So-so.  Not quite what I had expected.  It didn't focus only on couples who met via specific dating sites, but also on chat rooms and games.  Even though most of the stories were warm and fuzzy, overall it felt rather dated (pardon the pun).

Skip it!!  Felt like an infomercial-puff piece for The Golden Arches.  Waste of time.

Very good!!  Thorough and frank.  Self-deprecating and wryly funny.  Worth watching.

Monday, July 28, 2014

5th Annual T and T Waterfront Night Market

On Saturday night, a couple of friends and I went to the T and T Night Market.  I went to the first one back in 2010 and missed it the next few years.  It was a treat to go last night, but holy smokes, the event has reallllly gained in popularity!  It was jam packed, and some of the booths had very long lines.

This year, there were considerably more vendors, activities and entertainers than the first time I went.  The event is still primarily about food, and - WOW - what an array!  T and T is an Asian Supermarket, so not surprisingly the food tends towards flavours from the Far East.

I tried something called Tornado Tempura Shrimp, and there is no way at all to eat it gracefully (note the crispy noodles on my shirt).  It was delicious, but I should've splashed a bit more hot sauce on it.  My next treat was a Tater Twist, in this case a purple potato.  It's basically potato chips cooked on a skewer, but these were seasoned with wasabi - yum!  I also sampled an avocado milkshake (didn't really care for it - it's like drinking guacamole), squid takoyaki (meh, but it was interesting to watch it being prepared), grass jelly drink (pretty good), and paprika pineapple (very good - I plan to make this at home).

For entertainment, we caught a bit of the Chinese Dragon Dancers - very cool, and we goofed around in a photo booth.  All in all, it was a fun night and it was cool to try some new foods.  I'll probably go again next year, but will head down earlier and try to beat the crowds.

For more info about the event (and videos) click here:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Recent Reads: Rock Divide Sky

I haven't read a police procedural in ages and ages, so it was a treat to dive into this! I loved the main character Eddie (Dog-er-dee), and Montreal in 1970 is a terrific setting for a crime novel (heavily steeped in reality - McFetridge certainly did his homework.)  Great mystery - highly recommended!

I'm already a fan of Matt Taibbi's, and this book just cements what I already knew:  The guy can write, and his words will make you think and make you angry.  Injustice meets inequality... arghhhh!  My jaw dropped several times.  Meticulously researched, very detailed, and Matt's tone is tartly delicious.  Anyone who paid any attention to the Occupy movement and anyone with even a passing interest in justice and human rights should run right out and get a copy of The Divide.  

I hated this!  I really tried to get into it, but the characters were hard to like or to even care about.  The dialogue was stiff and unrealistic.  I finally gave up on page 177 and deliberately left it behind when I got off the bus.   

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Making a Big Grey Mess

One things I've always wanted to learn is pottery.  The idea of moulding something while the wheel spins has long appealed to me.  Finally, last night, I tried it for the first time ever, and it was a lot of fun!

I joined a drop in class at the Gardiner Museum (here's the link).  The class is about two hours and costs only $15, which includes all materials (although firing your piece(s) is $5 extra).

I can't say I was a natural, but that hardly matters.  The clay didn't seem to want to do what I wanted it to do, and I sometimes forgot about the speed of the wheel - my foot would lean down and suddenly the whole damn thing spun out of control and a few bits went flying - luckily not too far. The woman sitting next to me was very nice and very patient.  My jeans were pretty much grey by the end of it, but who cares?

I made two pathetic little misshapen vases and paid to have them fired.  I'll go back sometime next week to paint my sad little creations.  I'm looking forward to the next class!

Update (photo) added July 26th:  I returned the following week to paint the works of art I had created in the previous class.  That, plus they let you paint "abandoned" pieces that people made once upon a time, but never picked up.  So, I painted (glazed) four pieces (two that I had made, and two "abandoned" pieces).  Plus, made one new creation.  I'll go back again next Friday to make another mess.

UPDATE - August 22nd:  I finally went back this week to pick up my fired and glazed pieces.  Wow - you really have to put the paint on think (several coats).  The yellow bowl and the orange flowerpot were not made by me; these were "abandoned" pieces that I just painted.

My works-of-art from start to finish are the misshapen vase on the right, the paperclip holder (?) in the upper left and the unpainted dog food bowl for Chico.  I had a lot of fun doing this and learned a lot.  I'll definitely go back again for another drop-in class.  It's a great way to relax and let your mind go.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Toronto Fringe Festival 2014

Every year, I try to see at least a couple of plays at Toronto's Fringe Festival, and every year it's a treat to see innovative, honest, creative, low-budget shows.  As much as I love the overblown, million dollar Broadway productions, there's something special about seeing smaller scale (much smaller!) where the script and the acting really survive on their own merits. 

The first play of the evening was a light family comedy called "If It's Not Too Much Trouble".  I liked it well enough, but to me the acting was a bit uneven.  The character Glen was my favourite and the actor playing him did a great job, but a couple of the others need a bit of polishing.  In my opinion, the script also needs a bit of tweaking - it felt like too much was squeezed into a one act play.  That, plus there was one blip in script continuity that irked me. Nevertheless, there were a few good lines and I generally liked the ways the characters were drawn.  

Ha ha Ha!  My friend and I didn't plan to see this one - the show we wanted to see was sold out, so we rolled our eyes and bought tickets to this one.  It was terrific!!!  It's about two men, who've know each other since they were kids, and the competitiveness that permeates their friendship.  The approach (sort of like a boxing match, with a winner declared for each round) was original.  The "referee" was a young girl the men knew when they were growing up.  The actors had their timing down pat, the script was terrific, the execution was great.  So glad to have stumbled onto this play!  

Hmmm... This was okay, but quite different from what I'd thought it would be.  It wasn't quite a musical, but it did have some songs in it (I'd expected more of a musical comedy).   It was a bit of a tongue in cheek, old west story about frontier justice, and while it had some very funny moments, it definitely wasn't a comedy.  However, I liked the characters and I think the acting was quite good, it's just that overall the story wasn't really my cup of tea.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chico in Unusual Places

I have two little Maltese dogs that I absolutely adore!  Bella (girl, above, on the right) is 13 years old and Chico (boy, above, on the left, with tongue hanging out) is about 10 years old (unsure of birth date).  

Both dogs are toothless - yes, really, neither one has any teeth; this is why Chico's tongue is always hanging out.  Bella usually holds her tongue in, but smacks her lips a lot as if she's looking for her missing teeth.  Despite the lack of teeth, both dogs eat heartily.

Bella is somewhat camera shy, but Chico isn't, and he's very patient when I place him in unusual poses.  

I love this picture - his tongue and the half closed eyes make him look drunk 
(maybe from above picture???!!!!)

Chico has the orange life jacket; Bella is in pink.  Chico would swim across the ocean if he had the chance; Bella is more of a landlubber.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Whackfuck! A good walk spoiled...

I know there are those who think of it as a good walk ruined, but golf has always appealed to me, even though I've only played 4 or 5 times in my whole life. (Several years ago, thinking that it would motivate me to learn, I bought my own set of clubs... they've been gathering dust  in the back of a closet.)

So, since I'm really making a point this summer of trying new things, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a few private golf lessons.  

Lakeshore Links Indoor Golf  is only about 20 minutes from where I live, and their prices are reasonable, so there was no reason not to give it a try.  

My instructor is Roger Moores, a very patient man who has been teaching golf for over thirty years.  Even though I've only just begun, I can see a difference.  He's shown me how to hold a club properly, and he has emphasized posture and positioning.  Just those two things have made a difference already!  Instead of swinging and missing 99% of the time, my club is making contact with the ball more often than not, or as Roger says: the ball gets in the way of my club.  Either way, for me it's HUGE progress!

I have a lot to learn, but I'm pumped about it.  It will be interesting to see how much I can improve over the summer.

"Golf is popular simply because it is the 

best game in the world at which to be bad." 

~ A.A. Milne

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Queens Plate 2014

Today was event day for the 155th annual Queen's Plate Race at Woodbine Racetrack and I went!  The Queen's Plate is the first of three races that make up the Canadian Triple Crown. (The other two races are the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders' Stakes later this summer).  Although I've seen lots of horse racing over the years, I haven't been to the track since about 1997.  

Today was a real hoot!  The events in and around the track were fun - live music, food booths, themed cocktails, and a lot of people watching!  The people watching was almost better than the race itself.  A lot of people really dressed for the event - almost like they were in wedding attire.  I particularly got a kick out of the women's hats and fascinators, some were beautiful and others were just outrageous (meanwhile I was wearing my tired old cap that I wear everywhere).  

As for the races, well, they were great overall. I placed small bets (generally $2 to show) on a few races. Won a couple, lost a couple.   For the main event I had a triactor, and  two of the three horses came in, but the other one I'd chosen came in fourth - damn it!  In any case, it was a terrific day and once again it was great to do something different.  I probably won't wait another 15+ years to go to the races again. And next time I go to a Triple Crown event, I'll be sure to get a helluva hat to complement my outfit!

Not surprisingly, I was NOT on the guest list for the FLARE garden party tent at the "Hats and Horseshoes" tent party.  Must have been on account of my footwear...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Not sure what I was thinking...

Today's new activity was Stand Up Paddleboarding.  

Wow!  It was really cool, totally fun, much easier than I expected, and very relaxing!

I did an evening intro course at Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre, which is the same place where I recently took a kayaking course (see previous post).  

I am proud to say that I didn't do any unexpected flips and end up soaked!  I'm lucky I stayed dry and stayed - however precariously perched - on the board (sometimes sitting, sometimes standing).  Because of the broken foot and sprained ankle, my balance wasn't great.  Not sure what I was thinking when I signed up for this!  

Also, the way one must move to get on the board, or to raise one's self from sitting to standing was hard and quite painful on the foot/ankle.  Again, not sure what I was thinking...

Perhaps I should have waited a couple more weeks before trying this, but... Oh well!  I learned something new, and I really can't wait to do it again!  And I can definitely see PI Sasha Jackson giving this a try... and getting soaked!

Note: For both the SUP and the kayaking, we paddled from the inner harbour to the areas between and behind Muggs Island and Centre Island Park.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Thing: Kayaking

This weekend I did a two-day Intro to Kayaking course.  What a hoot!  

I did do some canoeing when I was much younger, but this is the first time I've ever been in a kayak and I loved it!  I especially loved it because I didn't flip over and have to do any wet exits!

There were eight students in our group, plus two instructors.  All-together, a cool bunch of people.  

The pace of the course was leisurely and we spent most of our time on the water - Lake Ontario - rather than on land just listening to instructions.  My paddling needs a lot of work - I can't seem to go even kind of straight yet, but so what?  I'll just blame wind and waves.  Saturday was actually a bit choppy and wavy (which to me made it even more fun!), and Sunday was calm but hotter than hell.  

I could see myself writing in a kayak scene in a future PI Sasha Jackson mystery - and if I do, you can be sure she'll tip it over and get herself soaked!

Update (Photo) added July 24th: