Monday, July 31, 2006

In Vino Veritas (ìn wine truth)

I am mystified by the latest news stories on Mel Gibson. To further clarify, I am certainly not mystified that Mr. Gibson has been caught drinking and driving. Nor am I mystified by his apparent anti-Semitic and male chauvinistic ramblings while being arrested. What I am mystified by, is the unbelievable comments and support of "fans" for Mr. Gibson. If you look at the posted comments to any of the related news stories on the internet, the comments range from "leave him alone, he has a problem, he didn't mean what he said" to my favorite "haven't you made a mistake in life. He didn't mean what he said, he was under the influence. He has a real problem, it's a sickness"

Granted, I do agree that alcoholism is a sickness but when you are drunk, alcohol doesn't have the ability to make you say things you wouldn't normally think or feel. You do not suddenly have anti Semitic thoughts placed into your head. You don't all of sudden become a raging male chauvinist or anti-Semitic asshole. Those ideas and opinions were there before the alcohol "brought it out". The alcohol was merely the catalyst that failed to stop him from actually saying what he really thinks. Sorry Gibson fans, the booze didn't make him say it. It just helped to let us see the real Mel.

JB wrote a good post about the whole Gibson debacle. I won't bother posting all of the details on this blog.

Honestly, I have never been a huge Gibson fan. I have found that I just can't get past his personal/religious beliefs. He has made speeches opposing abortion access, the use of contraceptives, and equal rights for gays and lesbians. It's fine that he wants to practice within his own religion but he should just shut up and keep his intolerance to himself and not push is extreme Catholic ideology on the rest of us. There was a reformation started in 1517 for a reason!

The fact that Mel is so dismissive and intolerant of Jews, women's rights, gay and lesbian rights begs this question: If you are religious and practice the teachings of Jesus Christ, aren't you a hypocrite if you spread hate, lies and intolerance?

Quote of the day:

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

Blaise Pascal

Monday, July 24, 2006

Well, I do declare! What will they think of next!!

While sitting at my desk today, I decided to take a short break and check out "The Women's Golf Shop" online. I had recently ordered two skirts on sale and I wanted to check on delivery as one of the skirts was on back order.

Here in Toronto, the choices in the pro shops or stores like Golf Town are lacking for women. I find myself ordering on line from the US when it comes to golf attire. In the US, it's a whole different ball game (pardon the pun). The choices for funky golf shoes, clothing and accessories are endless. Gone are the matronly, ugly designs of boring long skirts or shorts and golf shirts that look like mens but are simply cut smaller but I digress while "window shopping" on Women's Golf Shop, I stumbled across the following "golf accessory" which I must admit I am completely fascinated by.

The Cleavage Cooler
......YES! You read correctly... I didn't even know that my cleavage would require cooling while playing golf but apparently, as the description for the product states " Frozen Cleavage Coolers" fit snuggly in the front of your bra where it presses against your sternum and brings amazing body heat and anxiety relief" Anxiety relief? I know I can get upset when I three putt a hole or miss a drive but anxious would not aptly describe my mood at the time? I find this product absolutely bizarre but I am somehow interested in trying one to see just how it works but the $25USD price tag seems a bit steep. I am now wondering if it would have the same effect if I just allowed my cleavage to act as cup holder for my cold water or beer while I walk from one hole to another on a muggy day? What about a mini bag of frozen peas? That would only set me back about $3 Canadian. The possibilities are endless....

The "Cleavage Cooler" is being promoted to us ladies as a Smart "Girlfriend Gift" for: hostesses~Bridal Parties~Baby Showers~Actresses~Dancers~Drama Queens~All Athletes~Tee Prizes at Golf Tournaments. I actually chortled out loud at that brilliant marketing blurb. You even have your choice of shapes, fabrics and by virtue of the fact it was featured on "Dr. Phil's" Invention show just makes me want to run out or click on the "add to cart" button.... NOT.... but I may try the beer can trick on Sunday, if it's really hot....I am sure I may get some stares and JB will be lying prostrate on the greens, laughing his ass off. Surely, everyone will understand that I am trying to reduce my body heat and relieve my anxiety. I am quite sure I will play 100% better than I did with hot cleavage.

If you are interested the "Cleavage Cooler" comes in an assortment of fabrics and either heart shaped or oblong shaped. I will let y'all know how the beer can works if I try it out this weekend.

Quote of the day:

Golf is a game of coordination, rhythm and grace; women have these to a high degree.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yes but can it boil water for my tea.....

My girlfriend, Biodiversity Babe , e mailed the following story to me today. She prefaced said story with dire warnings that I should lay off my Blackberry. As I work in the wireless industry, I am pretty much glued to my mobile and Blackberry or "Crackberry" as we call them here in Wireless Operations. After reading this story I feel I may have to reconsider using my mobile on those long 2 hour conference calls I sometimes end up on. If not, apparently my brain will become hard boiled. BioBabe loves the fact that the cell phones are in cigarette packages, that must have been for another health experiment. I am sure some of us techs here will discover some flaws in their experiment as we like our jobs and our annual bonuses.

Here is the decide......

How Two Russian Journalists Cooked an Egg with their Mobile Phones

Vladimir Lagovski and Andrei Moiseynko from Komsomolskaya Pravda Newspaper in Moscow decided to learn first-hand how harmful cell phones are. There is no magic in cooking with your cell phone. The secret is in the radio waves that the cell phone radiates.

The journalists created a simple microwave structure as shown in the picture. They called from one cell phone to the other and left both phones on talking mode. They placed a tape recorder next to phones to imitate sounds of speaking so the phones would stay on.

After, 15 minutes: The egg became slightly warm.

25 minutes: The egg became very warm.

40 minutes: The egg became very hot.

65 minutes: The egg was cooked. (As you can see.)

Conclusion ..1: Cooking eggs with mobile phones is possible but very expensive ($4.55 or 123 Rubles)

Conclusion ..2: All this talk of danger is exaggerated; even if your brain gets cooked, it would take a couple hours of talking on a cell phone.

Conclusion ..3: We dont recommend carrying cell phone in your pants.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I noticed on one of the blogs I peruse via Blogspot, the blog owner has chosen a word verification option for those who want to add comments. At first I thought it was strange and perhaps a bit paranoid. After logging in to my blog this morning, I now know why this option was added to their blog. I checked a couple of my blogs, where I know I had no comments added and all of a sudden I noticed comments on quite a few of my blogs. Comments that were not very well written and posted by "anonymous". Comments such as "way to go" or "awesome content" . I placed my cursor on the tiny blue >> link at the bottom of the comment it showed me that "" seems to think all my blogs are awesome....

To "" thanks for the vote of confidence and "awesome" compliments about my writing ability but GET LOST!

Thinking about "Spam" made me remember the hilarious Monty Python sketch with the singing Vikings in the breakfast diner that serves spam with every breakfast meal. A couple drops in to the cafe and all they would like is "eggs, bacon, sausage and no spam". I just watched it again and cannot stop laughing....It is classic Monty Python...the credits at the end are pretty funny and you get to hear the Python theme song....

Oh and word verification has now been added to this blog as well.

Monty Python - Spam

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice........

Ever been in a situation where a series of events occurred to warn you things would not go well but you don't put the series of events all together in your head right away and you blindly go ahead even though ALL the warning signs were there. Then you look back at the chain of events and you want to smack yourself for not being more on the ball and altering the situation.

I was looking forward to a nice relaxing golf game with JB and my friend EL. I should have known it was going to be an "interesting" afternoon when I arrived at the starters box and he informed me that my $95 silk/cotton mix shirt was a tank top and therefore not regulation. Now, I understand golf etiquette and proper dress but I have worn this top at a much more expensive golf club than this public course where the clubhouse is underneath the Victoria Park subway station and the green fees are $22 peak time. JB looked at me, looked at the starter, looked back at me with his "this is not funny" exasperated look. I then politely said to the starter "this is not a tank top, I don't wear tank tops!" He said "it doesn't have sleeves" JB noticed EL walking up the path to the starters booth and said "well, neither of you are not going to be able to play as EL's shirt has no sleeves either" the starter shouted out "oh,she can play, her shirt has a bit of sleeve" This then prompted some grubby guy, who had the tee time ahead of us, race over to me, get in my face and to interject in a fast paced banter a la Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice, "uh, what's your name? tell you what JMack I have an extra t-shirt, I will lend it to you and then you can give it back to me after your game, it's okay, it's okay, trust me, it's okay, take it, you can just take it off half way through the course and no-one will be the wiser, know what I mean, know what I mean" I politely responded "it's okay, thanks for the offer, I can run down to the clubhouse and buy a shirt as I would hate to deprive you of your change of shirt on such a hot day" Beetlejuice, obviously wasted and under the delusion that I may be someone he could ask out on a date then tried to charm me and impress me with his sense of humour by taking off his baseball cap and saying "hey look, I'm a wanna be blackman see,I have the bling bling still on my baseball cap (as he pointed to the price tag he left on the underside of his cap) but seriously the shirt is clean, it is freshly laundered, I swear, I swear" I didn't respond for a few seconds but thought "if I say Beetlejuice three times,I wonder if he will actually disappear?" JB gave me a glance, and he looked pissed off. I knew that look but I was focusing more on feeling pressured that I had held up the whole course because of my shirt incident. Even though Beetlejuice and his friends were nowhere near starting, I put on his T-shirt and then noticed out of the corner of my eye that the group ahead of Beetlejuices had just finished putting the first hole. Finally thinking fast, I realized I had a precious few minutes to rush down to the clubhouse and get a shirt. Beetlejuice and his pals were about to tee off. Beetlejuice decided to light off a small firecracker right when his friend was about to drive. How this did not get them kicked off the course was beyond me. I whispered to JB "these guys are taking forever to tee off. I am not wearing this asshole's shirt as I do not want to "socialize" with them all 18 holes". JB slipped me his bank card, as I left my purse locked in the car. I raced down the hill,into the clubhouse and saw a rack of women's golf shirts. They were all the expensive Nike Golf -Cool Max shirts at $75 a pop. My mind racing, I was doing the calculations in my head. Did I want to spend $75 on shirt to play this $22 course or do I want to walk around for 18 holes in Beeteljuice's "spare shirt". I then noticed a sign above the shirts "All Women's Golf Shirts %60 off" SOLD!! I grabbed a nice black shirt,ran to the counter and said to the golf pro "apparently my shirt is not proper attire for this course." He looked at Beetlejuices nasty, grubby t-shirt and said "uh, that shirt? That shirt is okay for this course" I shot back "not THIS shirt, the one I have on underneath!" He looked confused...I paid for the shirt and ran into the women's washroom put it on and ran back up to the first tee.

Beetlejuice and two pals were just finishing tee-ing off when the group who were to tee off after us arrived. Polar opposites of Beetlejuice and pals, these guys sauntered up to the waiting area of this $22 public course, in a crappy area of Toronto, as if they had just won at Augusta National last week. They took one look at EL and I and started whispering and chuckling. I knew right away they had that look of "oh, great, two women playing ahead of us". It amazes me that there is still this bizarre bias in this sport. Men who think women can't drive the ball as far, aren't as accurate, will hold up their game, blah blah blah blah.....I know that look, I have seen it many times on the golf course and many times after my first tee off, I have had the pleasure of wiping that stupid look and attitude of their faces when I swing my text book swing and send the ball flying. Alas, today was not going to be the day that I would have my normally great first tee off. With Beetlejuice and pals in front and the "wanna be pros" behind us and my head about to explode from the shirt incident I knew it was going to be a stressful game for me. I was getting rattled. This is the mental aspect of the golf game that can really screw up your play. Also, I am accustomed to a much more sane and classier tee off than the insane assylum scene were were going through.

JB tee'd off, EL tee'd off and then I tee'd off and as usual I hit the ball fairly straight but not half as far as I normally would hit the ball on a hole of this yardage. We finished the hole, moved to the second hole and caught up with Beetlejuice and pals who were waiting to tee off at the third hole. JB said "Give me that guys nasty shirt so I can hand it back to them" JB ran over with the shirt and then I noticed him in a conversation with Beetlejuice. JB returned and I asked him what the intense conversation was about. JB replied "oh, he was just apologizing for his black man comment. He said he shouldn't have said it and I told him it was a stupid thing to say. He agreed and said he should not have said it" I was thinking did Beetlejuice not notice that JB, a 6ft tall black man was standing next to him when he made the comment?

A few more holes were played when we noticed that Beetlejuice and pals, who were actually pretty accurate golfers, were playing increasingly worse. We then noticed the pungent odour of cannabis coming from their direction. Now, I don't care if people want to smoke pot but I am thinking on a public golf course at 2:30 pm in the afternoon? it may not be the right time. There were plenty of Dads with kids on the course and Mums with kids out for the afternoon. JB also mentioned that he had noticed that they had a hidden cooler in their bag. So, not only were they smoking joints but they were getting piss drunk on booze. It was going to be a sloooooow back 9. We had the trailer trash degenerates in front of us and the obnoxious "wanna be pros" behind us who seemed to blame their having to wait to tee off at each hole on us. Not sure how they did not notice that we were waiting for Beetlejuice and his pals to finish each hole and that Beetlejuice and pals were also waiting for a slow group of four who were ahead of them. I guess it was easier to blame their delay in game on the only two women on the course.

Fast forward to the 18th/19th hole. I finally have a half decent drive, make the green and we finish off the game. We start walking to the clubhouse and I notice Beetlejuice and pals all going into their respective vehicles and driving off! I then go into the clubhouse to wash my hands etc. Come out and one of the "wanna be golf pros" who were playing behind us says to the young lady who was driving the drink cart through the course all afternoon "Hey, thanks a lot, great job all afternoon, eh" I laughed out loud and said to her in a really loud voice "Wow, you must get that shit a lot" He then shot back a glance at me and I just started laughing. "Mr. Golf Pro" then got into his Hyundai and drove off...

The finale to this already messed up day....... I walk down the parking lot to our parked car. JB was putting the clubs in the trunk we look over and there on the other side of the lot was a group of four 20 something males and one of them was urinating, outside, on one of the trees. Perfect, I thought, just freakin' perfect. I looked at JB and growled through my clenched teeth "This is why there are PRIVATE GOLF CLUBS!"

Quote of the day:

If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt. ~Dean Martin

Friday, July 14, 2006

Don't Hassle the Hoff.....

Okay, short blog today...It's Friday, it's nice out(see weather pixie). I am leaving work in about 20 minutes to play golf (it's okay, I started at 6:30am) So, for your Friday, end of week chuckle. Check out the latest, yes you heard me, I said latest, music video from David Hasselhoff....How this guy continues to have a career baffles me. This latest video is just as cheesy as his previous videos. I didn't think he could top his dreadful rendition/video of the 70's song "Hooked on a Feeling" but Mr. Hasselhoff continues to surprise me as this one is a close second. This latest song is called "Jump In My Car". The song is listed as an "Australian classic" and "The Hoff" appears to have recorded and filmed the song specifically for the Australian market. In the video Hasselhoff is driving a right hand drive "Kit" Trans Am... Perhaps Australia just recently started showing the 1980's "Night Rider series"? I have no idea, but it made me laugh my ass off. The leering at the girls 30 years younger than him is a bit disturbing as is the leather shirt.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Of Brubeck and Bagels.....

Montreal Days 4 and 5:

Saturday Day 4:

Saturday was spent going for brunch at Boccacino's. They have a lovely huge patio/terrasse on McGill College. It is just at the bottom of "the mountain" and down the road from the entrance to McGill University gates. We had no plans other than to walk around today and then head out later that evening to the much anticipated concert that was closing the Jazz Festival this year...Mr. Dave Brubeck.
The show took place at Place des Arts. After dinner we hailed a cab and sat helpless in a horrible Montreal traffic jam because the cab driver turned up a street that would only lead us to a major traffic jam and thousands of peds walking around to the free stages. He got as about a block from Place des Arts and then said "perhaps you should just walk from here as I can't move in this traffic" If he had not knocked $2 off his fare I was going to lose it. You would think the cab drivers would know which roads were closed and which ones would be congested due to Jazz Festival. The concert started at 8pm and JB and I quickly started running the gauntlet zipping in and out of hundreds of people milling about looking for a good spot for the free stages outside of Place des Arts. Once inside the building we had to find the concert hall. Place des Arts is a pretty big place. Again we had to zip in and out of slow walking lollygaggers! I had both our tickets in my hand and with JB close behind me I shoved them into the ushers hands and she quickly yelled after me, in French, to go upstairs to the right. When we reached the top of the stairs the bell started chiming alerting everyone to get in to their seats. Another escalator ride up to the mezzanine and into our seats at 8pm on the nose. We then sat and sat and sat and the crowd started clapping that slow deliberate clap that means "get this freakin' show started"

The show opened with the winners for "best new jazz artists" for the Festival. They were a group of lads from Toronto, can't remember their name as I was still feeling a bit dazed from our "gauntlet run" getting to the concert hall in time. They played two of their compositions and then we waited a bit before the President of the festival came out to introduce Mr. Brubeck and his band. When Brubeck came out on stage the entire audience erupted in cheers and stood up. Brubek is now 86 years old and still touring. He shuffled over to his piano with a typical old man 86 year old shuffle walk that all old men have but when he began to play it was Brubeck in his prime. The concert was great and his band were wonderful. When he started the familiar opening for his classic jazz hit "Take Five" there was a roar from the crowd that was as loud as any rock concert I have been to. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see a jazz pianist of this caliber live. When the concert finished the crowd would not stop applauding. Brubeck came back out with his band and he and his sax player, who was quite the comedian throughout the show, started playing Brahms lullaby which made everyone laugh and prompted the audience to start singing "lullaby and good night......" when that ended they started up a great version of Ellingtons "A Train"... it was a great show to finish off the festival.

Sunday Day 5: a bagel is a bagel is a bagel....or is it?

I had two goals today. Get bagels and attempt to get some smoked meat from Schwartz. Schwartz now have their smoked meat available vacuum packed so you can travel home with the wonderful smoked meat of Montreal. We stopped in the Mont Royal-St Urbain area to have brunch at Eggspectation and then headed a couple of blocks down to St. Viateur Street. Now, there is great debate among bagel lovers. Fairmont Bagels vs St. Viateur Bagels. There is even greater debate among bagel lovers over New York vs Montreal vs Toronto bagels. I say Montreal wins hands down! I for one always go to St. Viateur when I am in Montreal. I find that I prefer their bagels to Fairmonts. I usually drive to Montreal for the purpose of having the car to provide us with the extra space for 3 or 4 dozen bagels from St. Viateur. It's pretty hard to get 4 dozen bagels on Air Canada these days. St. Viateur is open 24 hours a day and all they make are bagels. I am sure they know who the Torontonians are as they smile at you when you step up to the counter and say "3 dozen sesame seed bagels and 1 dozen poppy seed please" there are smiles from the other customers in the line up because they know you are taking those bagels home to Toronto and I am sure they are thinking "that's another winning vote for Montreal" . Photo is of me last summer outside of St. Viateur with my 3 dozen sesame seed bagels.

Bagel quest completed we now headed down St. Urbain street and across below Duluth street to get over to St. Laurent to Schwartz for the smoked meat. Yet another great debate in Montreal over Schwartz's or Ben's...personally I prefer Schwartz's. The smoked meat has more flavour and is jucier. There is big rivalry over who "invented" the Montreal smoked meat first. Ben's takes claim but Schwartz says no way.

Schwartz's was opened in 1928 and remains in the same location since it opened. Trust me, I don't think they have redecorated since 1928 either! It is another time capsule like Ben's.
Photo is a typical line up for
Schwartz's which I was not expecting to see at 11:45am on a Sunday. My heart sank when we approached Schwartz's and I saw in the distance a major line up outside. JB and I decided we could pass on the smoked meat this time around as we will probably be back in Montreal at least once or twice by next summer anyway. We wanted to avoid the traffic and crowds that would be starting up for the World Cup final.

Sans our viande fumee, we headed back up to Sherbrooke Street and took Sherbrooke west until we hit a sign that said "highway 20". Highway #20 is part of the Trans Canada Highway which links 10 Provinces across Canada. When you hit Ontario it becomes Highway 401. Within an hour we were at the Quebec-Ontario border and heading home. I reached into the back of the car and into the big bag of warm baked bagels on the floor of the backseat and grabbed a warm sesame seed bagel and started munching away and sighing. The car smelled wonderful all the way home......

Monday, July 10, 2006

Montreal Day Three- Golf, Smoked Meat and Da Vinci Code

Our plan today was to head to Beauty's for breakfast and then to a golf course to play 18 holes.

Beauty's is a well known all day breakfast place and is situated in the Mont Royal -St. Urbain area of Montreal. St Urbain area is known for smoked meat and bagels.
We had a great breakfast at Beauty's. This long-lived Jewish deli has been feeding Montreal well for over 50 years. Family-owned, the small place has terrific breakfast fare, including bagels, omelets. Full from our huge breakfast, we hopped in the car and headed out of the city to Anjou to play at a golf club there called "Le Metroplitain". We had an okay round. I was not too happy with how I played and probably could have played better but it was a bit of a scorcher and we had to rush to start our game as the kids summer camp was starting and they wanted us to tee off before the forty or so children who were there for their lessons. All I could see whilehurriedlyy walking to the first tee were 40 kids all sitting around waiting for us to start so they could start after us.

After our round we sat on the patio of the clubhouse and had a beer and then headed back downtown to the Hotel as Coglero had to check out and drive back to Ottawa for Friday evening. He had to get ready for the Hope Volleyball tournament on the weekend. After we saw Coglero off, JB and I decided to have an early dinner and walk around downtown and perhaps check out some of the stages along Ste. Catherine Street. Coglero had reminded me earlier in the day that we should go to Ben's deli which was close to our hotel. As JB had never been to Ben's we decided to go there. I would havepreferredd Schwartz deli but was not in the mood to travel up to St. Laurent and wait in line. Ben's is an institution in Montreal. It's a time capsule. You can know you're seeing the same decor and tasting the same tastes they did sixty years ago. There are lots of framed photos of movie celebrities who have eaten at Ben's. This was Leonard Cohen's favourite late-night haunt. Cafeteria style tables and chairs, yellow formica walls with green trim, lots of chrome behind the counter. Apparently the place is used for movies that require an authentic looking restaurant from the 1940's. JB and I both had smoked meat on rye.

We then headed out for a walk and walked by a Famous Players and JB and I both said "hey, maybe we should see a movie" I mentioned that I wouldn't mind seeing the Da Vinci Code. We had both read the book and were interested in seeing the film. We purchased tickets for the only remaining showtime of 10:30pm. The movie was okay, it was the book, almost to the letter. I enjoyed it but JB was finding it tough staying awake once it went beyond midnight.

Movie over, we headed out onto Ste. Catherine street. The street was still packed with people walking around enjoying the summer night.

Day three over and Day four would be the big Brubek concert to close the Jazz Festival.

Quote of the day:

"Only in Canada could somebody with a voice like mine win 'Vocalist of the Year'."
Leonard Cohen—first words of his speech accepting the Juno Award for Best Male Vocalist in Canada (1992)

Day 2 - Lord Neslon, Shopping, Coglero and Gibby's

Day 2 - As we had no tickets for concerts tonight JB and I were to meet up with Coglero who was driving in from Ottawa to meet us for "cinq a sept" and then dinner at Gibby's and golf on Friday. We decided we would spend the morning/afternoon walking through Old Montreal checking out the shops and going for lunch at Le Jardin Nelson (above photo). The restaurant is situated in Place Jacques Cartier, in Old Montreal. At the top of the square is a statue/column erected to Lord Nelson. The Nelson Column, installed in memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Dating from 1808, it was erected by the English merchants of the city. The 8 foot statue is the world's first Nelson commemorative and precedes that in London by 33 years. To many it represents a reminder of British imperialism. JB likes to go to Le Jardin Nelson each time we are in Montreal as he does have a fondness for their crepes. Their terrace is a very pleasant place to sit and relax and have lunch. They always have live jazz music playing in the back terrace. Check out their website for some great photos and of course their menu.

With lunch over we ventured out into the streets of old Montreal. I made my usual stop at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. Each time I go to Montreal I make a stop at this old church. It was founded in the 17th Century by Marguerite de Bourgeoys. She was one of the founders of Montreal. In the 19th century, the chapel came to be a pilgrimage site for the sailors who arrived in the Old Port of Montreal; they would make offerings to the Virgin in gratitude for her "good help" for safe sea voyages. There are model ship votives that hang from the ceiling of the chapel that sailors had made as offerings. It is incredible to be in this church in the evening when it is a bit darker and the ship votives light the chapel with their candelight. The ceiling of the church is painted in muted lavenders and I could just sit in there all day and look around at the paintings and that ceiling. Trivia - Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is mentioned in Montrealer Leonard Cohen's famous song "Suzanne"

The Chapel is located across from Bonsecours Market. This heritage building has a long history and was once going to be Canada's Parliament building. The site also played host to the Théâtre Royal where Charles Dickens and his band of amateur actors staged a production. It is now Headquarters of the Conseil des métiers d'art du Québec and the Institute of Design Montréal, the Market houses 15 boutiques featuring top-quality Quebec creations: crafts, fashions, accessories and jewellery, design items, reproduction Quebec furniture and more. I picked up a nice bracelet made by a local artist and JB and I then continued our walk through Old Montreal and headed up to Ste Catherine street the mecca for shoppers in Montreal.

We headed back to our hotel to meet up with Coglero and we headed out to the Winston Churchill pub on Crescent street for drinks. We had 7pm reservations at Gibby's. Now, those of you who know me, know my fondness for Gibbys. It is a steak house that is housed in an 17th century stables. They are known for their steaks. It is a must on a visit to Montreal. JB has a funny blog about our cab ride to Gibbys. Coglero had never been to Gibbys and was not disappointed. JB had made our reservations the week before we left and I was worried that we would end up in the main dining room as I actuall prefer the downstairs Salon D'Youville where you are normally seated if you don't have reservations. I love it down there. You sit in a room surrounded by stone walls that are hundreds of years old.

Dinner over we ventured out into Old Montreal and found a nice terrace and sat and watched all the folks walking through old Montreal along with the tourists in the Caleches

We then headed back to our Hotel as we planned on an golf game on Friday morning.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Vive la France or Montreal Day 1

I am back. No, I did not go to France as the title and photo suggest. As mentioned in previous blogs JB and I took off to Montreal for 5 days to see some jazz concerts during the Jazz Festival. Although I did have my lap top with me, I was too tired by the end of the each day to post any updates.

Our trip was great. We saw some fantastic concerts and let's face it. Montreal is definitely a party town compared to Toronto. For some reason Montreal just feels more "Canadian" to me. The French explorer Jacques Cartier first discovered this island in 1535. Founded a century later in 1642 by Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, the French settlement soon turned into the fur-trading capital of North America. The photo above is a street in Old Montreal. The entire old city has been kept within the city and it is incredible to walk the cobblestone streets and if you close your eyes and listen to the horse drawn carriages it is as if you have stepped back in time to the 18th Century. It is a bit jarring when you open your eyes and see the carriages filled with tourists and cars whizzing by the poor horses. Old Montreal is one of North Americas architectural treasures with one of the largest collections of 17th, 18th and 20th century buildings on the continent.

I am embarrassed that Toronto has done nothing to keep and maintain any remnance of the beginnings of the city. During the past century they blasted and tore down the majority of the older buildings. We have no real defining area that shows our history except for perhaps the Historic Market area. Montreal tries hard to maintain it's French and Canadian heritage. I find Toronto has become Americanized and commercialized to the extreme where Montreal has kept it's history and maintains it's beginnings as a French and British influenced city. I digress. The reason we went to Montreal was for International Jazz Festival and to eat great food. Montreal is known for it's reasonably priced eating establishments and bars and they have the best happy hour in Canada. Known as "Cinq a Sept" or "5 to 7". Between 5 and 7pm each week night every bar and pub in the city offers two for one drinks.

Day One:

We hopped in the "General Mess Malibu" and drove to Montreal last Wednesday. It is a 5 to 6 hour drive from TO to Montreal. As we were making good time we figured we would stop for a late lunch. We decided to stop in Cornwall, Ontario which is close to the Ontario/Quebec border. We were trying to find a place to have lunch and it was tough. All these smaller old Ontario towns all seem to have been taken over by crappy chain restaurants like Kelseys, Montana's or Boston Pizza. There is nowhere on the highway to get anything other than Tim Hortons, Wendy's or Burger King. YUCK!!! As I refuse to eat at these chains I said to JB, let's get off the highway and head into downtown Cornwall. It would appear the influx of chain restaurants has ruined the small town restaurant business. We drove around and around until JB spotted a local diner on one of the main streets. The place was called Spinners and it would appear to be a place where only the locals go. I had a half decent soup and sandwich. We hopped back in the car and headed for Montreal. We arrived at our Hotel around 5:30pm. We were staying at the Queen Elizabeth/ Le Reine Elizabeth. This hotel was my home away from home last year when I was traveling to Montreal for business quite a bit. I love it. It is a big, swank railway hotel which is connected underground to the train station and has subsequently been purchased and refurbished by the Fairmont Hotel chain. They have bought up all the old CN Railway hotels across Canada and have a done a wonderful job at maintaining their beauty.

As we had tickets to a concert that started at 7pm, JB and I quickly changed and then headed down to the hotel lobby bar for a drink and then off to Club Soda (the name makes JB laugh) to see Katie Melua and Denzal Sinclare. To be honest when I purchased the tickets for this show it was to see Denzal. I had no idea who Katie Melua was but figured how bad can she be if she is opening at Jazz Fest for Denzal Sinclaire one of Canada's most popular jazz vocalists.

We arrived at Club Soda to be accosted by scalpers reminding us "tonight's show is sold out! who needs tickets" we pushed through the line up of people looking sad and forlorn as obviously they were not lucky enough to get tickets for the show. Once inside we were greeted by two big burley security men who checked out our tickets and then one of them grabbed my hand and said I need to stamp your wrist. I wasn't going to argue. We then ventured into this club which had an amazing vibe. There was no chance we were getting a table downstairs as it was completely packed but one of the security ladies directed us upstairs where we ended up on the balcony right above the stage. The view was fantastic we were so close to the stage and nobody was in front or behind us. 7pm arrived and they introduced Katie who came out on stage with her band. I was completely blown away. Her voice is amazing and when she mentioned that she was influenced by Eva Cassidy and then proceeded to sing a song she wrote for Eva, it brought a tear to my eye. I love Eva Cassidy. She is one of my favorite jazz/blues artists. She died far too soon in 1996 at the age of 33 years old. You can definitely hear the Eva Cassidy influence in Melua's voice but she does put her own twist on songs. She did an amazing version of "The Cure" song "Just like Heaven" and I could not believe when she started to sing the Canned Heat tune "On the Road Again". I looked at JB and he smiled and I said "wow". It makes me happy that there is a 21 year old making a career promoting great jazz and blues songs and is not slogging away and promoting crappy pop shit a la Britney Spears, Hilary Duff et al. I had no idea any 21 year old these days would even know who Canned Heat was. Her band included a fantastic pianist, drummer and a gent who played all instruments in between including the tin whistle. He adeptly switched from mandolin, to violin to tin whistle depending on the song. The opening act alone was worth the ticket price.

After a short break Denzal took to the stage. He has a great jazz vocalist voice. He always reminds me of a young Nat King Cole but with his own slant on songs. He did a great jazzy version of the Genesis song "Follow you Follow me" I never much liked the Genesis version of the song but I do like Denzal's version. He sang some wonderful versions of quite a few Gershwin tunes and I was reminded of how great a jazz pianist he is.

After the show, JB and I decided to walk a block north up to Ste. Catherine street which was closed off for blocks with stages and had numerous free concerts going on. There were people everywhere. The city has a great vibe at night. We strolled along the street towards our Hotel. All and all our first night in Montreal was very enjoyable and the first show was better then I had imagined.

Quote of the Day:

And I will walk with you on a summer's day,
And I will talk to you,
Though you're faraway,
And we'll sing through the years,
Are you over those hills,
Do you still hum the old melodies,
Do you wish people listened,
Over here with me

Katie Melua - Faraway Voice - tribute to Eva Cassidy

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Canada

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General, Lord Monck, called upon all Her Majesty's loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1st.

The July 1 holiday was established by statute in 1879, under the name Dominion Day.

We don't get to call it Dominion Day anymore but I am not in the mood to quibble. Canada Day. Dominion Day. It's an extra day off. JB and I played golf on Saturday with friends, BBQ'd, played more golf today.

We tried our first 18 hole "Championship course" and it was quite the endurance test. We have been sticking to playing 18 hole par 3 courses until we get better. After today I will be quite happy to go back to playing par 3's for now. I just cannot hit the distance required to make it to the greens on the long par 5 holes. I get a lot of compliments about my swing and how I seem to always hit it straight and keep the ball on to the fairway. The more experienced golfers, we sometimes end up playing with, keep telling me that the distance will come. I can definitely see that I am hitting the ball further now then I did 4 months ago. I imagine taking lessons from the beginning was a big help as it is a sport that is hard to play well consistently unless you have good form and you are in really good shape and you can play often.

Golf is a funny game, one day you will have great shots and then the next time you play you wonder why you took up the bloody sport at all. Then you awake the next morning and think to yourself "man, I wish I could play golf today rather than go in to work"

Golf is definitely a game that teaches you patience and also teaches you to focus. I find if I get tired or stop focusing and start thinking about other things. I have a lousy shot. It is an extremely challenging game on your mental psyche. I am still psyched out by water hazards. Today, I lobbed my ball right into the centre of a water hazard, TWICE!! The hole was a short par 3 and normally it would be a piece of cake for me to lob my ball in one shot onto the green but when I see that water it psyches me out. It never fails, my ball plops right into the centre of the water. The hole I was the most pissed off about is the one pictured. From the forward tee's it's 120 yards to the green. Now, I can hit well over 120 yards in my lessons and usually when I am not playing a hole with a water hazard. The sketch below is from the course where we played today. I love the little blurb that goes along with the drawing.

Hunters' Glen - 10th Hole The back nine begins with the signature hole of the golf course. Measuring 169 yards, the 10th hole is the shortest par 3 at Hunters' Glen, but don't let the yardage fool you. Your approach to this long and narrow green is one of the most challenging shots you will hit all day.

From the tee, an elevated green awaits on the other side of a large (and distracting) pond. The saddle-shaped green is often the host of many difficult pin placements and is responsible for more than the occasional three-putt.

So, ya it's only 120 yards. But to screw with you it's surrounded by water and if you do get it on the green you will probably end up three putting because they placed the hole at the top of a hill!!!

I will be back to play at Hunters Glen one day and I will be damned if I am going to lose another ball to that 10th hole!

Back to work tomorrow and then JB and I are off to Montreal for the annual International Jazz Festival. Montreal is a great city to spend time in and we are looking forward to the time off.

Quote of the day:

In baseball you hit your home run over the right-field fence, the left-field fence, the center-field fence. Nobody cares. In golf everything has got to be right over second base.

Ken Harrelson