Edmond Gagnon is a retired police officer turned novelist. He currently has a book of travel stories, a crime fiction series and a paranormal thriller. He is also a staff writer for the website Dreams abroad.
It seems there’s nothing on at the movie theatres these days except action hero and children’s films. Cathryn and I have been itching to see something worthwhile on the big screen since out last visit to see Top Gun Maverick.
The trailer for ‘Air’ looked interesting even though we knew it wouldn’t be worthy of the big screen. But we were looking to get out of the house and I had a popcorn craving.
If you’re looking for a sports or basketball movie, this is not it. With Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jason Bateman and Viola Davis, we figured there would at least be some good acting and interaction between characters.
It was a cool story that I’m sure many people aren’t aware of…inspired by real events when Nike went after rookie Michael Jordan to expand their basketball shoe line.
70’s music and attire give the movie a ‘real feel’ for those who lived it. It’s a serious but sometime comedic flick.
Cathryn and I enjoyed the movie and we both give it an 8 out of 10.
This book has received great reviews from other readers, and it’s probably worthy of 4 or 5 stars, but I just couldn’t do it. Granted, I only read the first 115 pages so maybe I’m being unfair. Regardless, this book moves slower than watching a tree grow. Starting in the future, the story covers several decades, revealing more as time reverses itself. Kind of a cool concept I thought, but it only led to confusion as I tried to wrap my head around new characters introduced and the piles of back story for each and every one of them. In my opinion the book could have been easily reduced by 100 pages, but that’s just me. Please read other reviews posted for this yawner since it has appealed to many other readers.
I’ve laid off on the rants for awhile but trying to log into my CRA (Canada Pension) account drove me over the edge. After repairing the window screen and retrieving my computer from the front lawn, I decided to share my frustrations about today’s online security overkill.
Is there anyone out there who hasn’t been stymied by new security protocols that are supposed to protect our identities and data? I doubt it.
Where do I start? How about passwords? A simple 4-digit number used to suffice. But that was too easy for hackers so we went to six digits and started using letters or words. And for extra safety, when I worked for a living, they made us change our passwords every month. That was easy and fun: Ed1234 went to Ed2345 and so on.
Now that we do all kinds of crap on our electronic devices ‘they’ believe we need additional security. So, even though we now use a 12 digit combination of numbers, letters and symbols, it’s not enough. So why not add in security questions that nobody else would know…even us, after 5 years and a fading memory. My computer saves all my passwords but I need my original Microsoft password to see what a particular password is.
And who doesn’t love the pictures where you have to pick the little squares that contain the same symbol or animal or whatever? Oh, and don’t forget to check the box that says you’re a real person and try to decipher the twisted letters or numbers they give you.
I laughed out loud when Cathryn tried to do some phone banking for her mother because they told her online to phone in. When she called they said to go online. But after punching in her doubly-protected secret codes and passwords and being transferred three times she reached a live person. They wanted to know the balance or last transaction of the account. That’s where I lost it – we can’t get into the account you moron, that’s why we’re calling!
Today, my breaking point came when I tried to log into my CRA account. I set it up about 5 years ago to collect my CPP. And now I’m creeping up on that next age when I get more of my own money back from our government. So just sign back in, right? LOL! Seems I couldn’t recall the correct sign in or password or one of the questions I don’t remember answering in the first place. 5 tries and you’re locked out.
I forgot to say that this started last week and they sent me a new secret code the old fashioned way-by mail, because they didn’t know who I really was. So today I tried to log in with the new code – 5 times. Yep, locked out again. There were only 3 lines to fill out – one of them was wrong according to them but they don’t tell you which.
No problem. I still have the forms they sent me in the mail, so if I can find an envelope and stamp somewhere, I’ll mail it back to them. The scary thing is that I consider myself to have half a brain and I’m fairly computer literate. What will they come up with next to make our lives easier? Now I have to go and ice my back, I think I wrenched it tossing the computer out the window.
What a great novel for author Steve Byrne’s first time out. Skim is a prohibition era yarn, set in the City of Windsor during it’s nefarious rum-running days. The story is about one man, a war hero, who wants to do better by his family and chooses to get involved with local gangsters who are tied into the renowned Purple Gang, and their illegal whiskey business. Maurice “Moose” Ducharme uses his milk route to deliver black market Canadian Club whiskey to his booze-thirsty clients, taking a big risk by getting in deep with the local crime syndicate. Being a bit of a Winsor history buff, the story kept me turning pages and routing for the underdog. For anyone interested in local history, prohibition, and Windsor’s dark past, this book is must read.
Cathryn and I have been slacking this year when it comes to rating restaurants in Melaque, Jalisco, Mexico. I can tell from my website that some of you have read past reviews that are dated, and as we all know time changes all things. Some of our favorites have closed up or moved locations. We’ve only managed the following eateries so far this season but there will be more to come. Ratings come from our personal experience, along with friends who may have accompanied us for breakfast, lunch or dinner. These are our personal opinions and the list is in no particular order. Street names are left out since you can’t find them anyway.
Tacos Pedro **** Located on Taco Row, they offer the usual Mexican fare, served on an open patio. Service was great and our group of six enjoyed an assortment of tacos and quesadillas. I had pork with pineapple that was shaved off a Gyro-type spit. All of us were happy with our meals and some ordered seconds.
El Patio ***** You can find this gem across from the Citibanamex or Las Hamacas. Open for breakfast and lunch, we’ve never been there after ten in the morning. I like sitting on the more airy sidewalk tables out front but they have a beautiful courtyard with more seating inside. The food and service is great, with hot meals coming out quicker than most other establishments. The omelettes are huge, juices are fresh-squeezed, and you can get a stack of pancakes that looks more like a birthday cake, with all the goodies on top.
Moon ***** Located on top of the Casa Leon Hotel at the west end of Melaque, a few doors down from Tito’s, the new restaurant has only been open a few months. The only elevator in town whisks you up to the sixth floor, on top of the hotel, where you’ll get the best view in Melaque. Four of us dined on ribs and smashed potatoes, 3 cheese pasta, grilled octopus, guacamole with arrachara, and shrimp skewers. The food was the best in town with service that is unparalleled anywhere in this area. Moon is no beach restaurant.
Jack’s Place ***1/2 – Nestled on the boulevard separating San Patricio and Villa Obregon, Jack’s has been hit and miss for us. We’ve visited on and off for several years and have mostly been satisfied, thus the start rating between 3 and 4. We’ve had great appies like the guac and queso fundido but daily special meals that have fell short. They have a large menu, with certain specials cooked on the BBQ right out front. I’m sure we’ll be back, but there are others to try first.
Vanilla Pimienta **** Just a stone’s throw north, down the road from Jack’s, this restaurant has been around in various forms for years. It’s current location offers open-air inside second floor seating. Our last visit was with a group of eight, and for the most part the food and service was great. The kitchen staff struggled however, overcooking my wife’s steak twice, and completely forgetting my meal. The leftover steak and ribs handed over to me from friends was excellent. The desserts are awesome.
Pata’s ***** Always one of our favorites, we’ve never had a bad drink or meal at Pata’s. They’re almost oceanside, at the end of the main street, just past the Oxxo. A Denver burrito that is second to none, one of the best burgers in town, and loaded nachos round off a small but awesome menu. Cathryn swears by their cilantro margarita. They offer seating inside and out but don’t show up with a party of twelve because the place is small. Norma and Deb rescue all sorts of cats and dogs so don’t be surprised if something furry brushes your leg.
El Dorado *** In the Hotel El Dorado, overlooking the beach, this eatery offers a great view. But lately our dining experiences have resulted in their loss of a star. We’ve had one great and two crappy breakfasts there in the last month, and the dinners haven’t been up to par, considering we’ve gone there for years, rarely getting a bad meal. Maybe it depends on who’d cooking, their consistency comes and goes like the pelicans.
Las Hamacas *** Another establishment overlooking the beach and part of a hotel, Las Hamacas has been offering daily entertainment in the restaurant. They used to serve breakfast but now only offer food between the hours of noon and 6pm. Cathryn and I haven’t sampled much of their menu but friends who stayed there were satisfied. The local fare was good and fresh but our bacon wrapped shrimp came with shells and tails still intact – a bit of a challenge with the surrounding hot bacon.
Tito’s *** Located at the far west end of the beach, lots of gringos swear by Tito’s and gobble up the food. My wife and I can’t say that we ever loved any of it, perhaps with the exception of their nachos and guacamole. The burgers are usually good. Our biggest complaint with this eatery is the disgusting condition of the restrooms, where the floors are usually covered with sand and water and who knows what else. Keep in mind it is a beach restaurant. They have nightly entertainment and some beach sports.
Papa Gallos’s *** Down a hallway, across from the Bus Depot, Papa Gallo’s is struggling to regain its identity. Having been a stand alone dinner restaurant for years, it recently inherited Roosters and is now serving breakfast as well as dinner. The staff is new and inexperienced and even the owners have expressed concern over the ability to keep the place running smoothly. The food is normally very good and the ocean view is awesome. The furniture is well-worn, some falling apart.
Pechecane ***** Located a short football toss from the dolphin statue on the main drag, this pizza place has become our favorite, Coming from a great Italian style pizza place back home, we’ve been mostly disappointed with the pies in Melaque. But if you don’t mind wood-fired, stone-oven thin crust pizza, Pechecan will win you11111111111 over. It’s in a spacious courtyard with an assortment of seating, covered or not. Pies are personal sized, offered with yummy dipping sauces, should you feel the need to spice things up or soak your crust.
Ava’s ** I see plenty of gringos eating breakfast and dinner at Ava’s but I’ve yet to have a good meal there. You can find it behind the Intercam bank, on the next corner. I was told the Eggs Benny was awesome, only to question my sources. Who uses squares of whole wheat bread and paper-thin sliced ham to make Benny. The hollandaise sauce was great but I could have drowned in it if I climbed into my plate. Another previous visit for simple bacon and eggs was similarly disappointing.
El Quetzal De Laura ***** Along the road to the market, just west of La Taza Negra, this restaurant is our favorite breakfast place. We’ve sent friends there who totally agree. The omelettes are big and tasty, served with home fries and salad, and a fresh-baked bun. There are assorted fillings, with cream cheese to add a silky-smooth texture. I’ve also tried their crepes that are just as delicious. Our friends love going there for dinner. Seating is cozy, inside and out, with good service.
Jugo’s Triny *** I have tried this place three times now and give it the same amount of stars. It’s across from the southwest corner of the town square, across from city hall. My first visit was the best…the cubano omelette and fresh juice were great but my server was more interested in her phone than me. Same with the cashier. I was served a cubano sandwich instead of the omelette my second visit and only received a shrug when I complained. My third attempt left me disappointed again…the omelette was okay but the continual grinding of the juice maker ruined my peaceful morning.
Manolo’s *** The taco restaurant in on the boulevard in West Melaque, across from the earthquake hotel. A fenced in courtyard offers outdoor seating in a cozy atmosphere. We went with a group of 8 and tried, tacos, quesadillas, fish soup, and a filet of dorado. Half our group was happy with their meals and the other was not. Service is as was expected for a mom and pop operation. Prices are in line with other taco restaurants.
Note: Most prices are half what we pay at home, in Canada, with the exception of Moon, which is upscale and pricier, but still cheaper than home.
Some of you have read my posts and browsed my pictures of Mexico and more specifically the town of Melaque, where we we have over-wintered for the last half dozen years. It’s a quaint and mostly quiet little town in the state of Jalisco, nestled in a bay on the Pacific Ocean.
Sure, there is some noise, as in every other Mexican town, like roosters with messed up internal alarm clocks and barking dogs…the kind of things we’ve come to expect and eventually surrender to. Even the buses have been kind of modernized, with actual mufflers that work well enough you don’t have to shout at each other while dining on an outdoor patio.
Traffic can get congested at times, especially in the busy center of town, where locals and gringos alike, dump their vehicles just about anywhere on the street. Parking enforcement personnel are as common here as polar bears. But everyone zig-zags and dodges the clogged arteries, crawling at speeds barely above neutral, making for safe-crossing at unmarked intersections.
I’ve learned how to drive like one of the locals, forgetting turn signals, parking on the wrong side of the road, and even occasionally driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Signs might help unaware motorists like me but it’s more challenging having to reverse for a whole block, with nowhere to pull over.
But I’ve learned to negotiate streets with no names, unmarked speed bumps that tear at the car’s undercarriage, and even boulevards where you have to stay right to turn left. Speed and no passing signs seem to be posted for decoration only, unless you’re unlucky like me, getting pulled over in the same speed trap by the same two cops near the US border, two years in a row.
But the one thing I can’t stand here is the crazy young motorcyclists who weave in and out of traffic, passing you on the right or left, doing wheelies over speed bumps, riding up to five passengers at a time-with no helmets, and at night with no running lights whatsoever. They blatantly run red lights and blow through intersections with no regard for other vehicles or pedestrians.
And as luck would have it, mine finally ran out the other day when a motorcyclist crashed into my car. I was barely moving when I started to make my turn into a parking spot. No other traffic was near me at the time but a racing bike came up from behind me and tried to pass on the right while I was turning right, into a parking spot. Realizing he’d never get between me and the curb, he swerved left and slammed into my right rear fender. I was actually stopped at the time.
My car was damaged by the front tire of the bike and the passenger who’s knee also struck my car. But apparently neither the bike or either of the riders was damaged enough to stop and check on me or my car. They were gone from sight before I could get out of my vehicle. I considered going after them, for a moment, but realized it would be a waste of time. Any foreigner who’s been here knows how that would go.
And so I suck it up, consider that it could have been worse, and go back to enjoying the small town atmosphere. Being a bike rider myself, and victim of other errant drivers, I feel I’ve earned the right to bitch about the menaces of Melaque – the ignorant, aggressive, impatient, and crazy motorcyclists who just don’t give a fuck.
Do you remember those days, a few years ago, when you could go to just about any restaurant and receive good food and sometimes great service? You do remember-it was before something called Covid came along and changed our lives forever.
I remember it well, sitting in restaurants or bars with friends, joking about a virus invented in China but named after a beer in Mexico. How we made fun of it, but nervously whispered about cancelled travel plans and government overreaction.
Then people started dying and those of us abroad had to go home, for fear of being stranded forever with no way to escape the chaos. And so we all went home, hunkered down, quarantined and avoided human contact with anyone outside our personal bubble.
Fast forward three years, to a time where Covid is scoffed at because we have vaccinations and boosters and masks, and have learned to socially distance ourselves. Some of us got tired of ordering food and groceries in and have ventured out into the apocalyptic world to see what’s left of it.
We were happy that some of our favorite restaurants weathered the storm but sad that others couldn’t survive and had to lock their doors. It was so nice to breathe and talk to people without a face mask muffling your voice and causing more pimples than you had as a teenager.
Restaurants re-opened and welcomed us back, but only on certain days of the week. They had difficulty getting their staff back or hiring new people to replace them. The newbies had to be trained, thus taxing our patience after waiting three years.
Cathryn and I formed a new habit, checking web sites of our favorite restaurants before we ventured out. More than once we drove to dinner only to find the doors locked. I hate searching for food when I’m hangry. And when we finally took refuge in one of our favorite breakfast or dinner spots, the service was terrible.
Every restaurant has good and bad days so we shrugged it off at first. But we travelled to Europe last summer and found the same problem, restaurants with limited hours and staff shortages. We spoke to owners who shared their frustrations, many with ‘help wanted’ signs posted in their windows.
So my question is, where the hell did the workforce go? They didn’t all retire and couldn’t have left the country because everyone’s having the same problem everywhere. One theory I’ve heard is that nobody can afford to work for such low wages anymore. If that’s the case then how are they surviving? Government subsidies ran out long ago.
We’re now in Mexico, finding the same problem. And it’s not that people don’t need the work. Restaurants are stocked with young and inexperienced employees who are more interested in their electronic devices than another hungry human being. Is it just me or does the new generation seem inept and disinterested in working for a living?
Hopefully everything works out and I can enjoy a meal without having to text the server to get their attention. Time will only tell.
Being a retired police officer who spent five years in narcotics, some of that time working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I found this book interesting and somewhat comical at times. The story takes place a few years before I was a Narc, but the good guys vs the bad guys scenario that played out in the plot rang very true to me. Granted, most of the drug dealers I had contact with where nowhere near as smart and cunning as Art Williams, the Mounties main target. I was blown awaybyt the lengths he went to stay under the radar, yet taunt the police at the same time. It was like he was always one step ahead of them. The story contains personal accounts from various people who knew Art Williams before he ‘disappeared’ under mysterious circumstances. I don’t want to give away the whole story but can easily recommend this book as and entertaining read.