Jurassic World – Dominion

I lost track of how many sequels of Jurassic Park there have been but we’ve managed to see them all and have to admit they are fun to watch. We decided to see this latest instalment in Imax format for extra-sized fun. Add that to the bigger and badder dinosaurs that roamed the earth along with mankind, and this movie was a CGI extravaganza.

Dominion brings back the original cast – some almost dinosaurs themselves, and (spoiler alert) chooses not to have any of them eaten alive during the movie. But don’t fret, plenty of others are snatched up and become dino-food. It is quite amazing how they can blend real people and a gigantic computer-generated animal into the same scene.

And as with other Jurassic movies, there are bad guys and good guys – not the creatures themselves, but people who want to exploit the dinosaurs and our heroes who want to save them. Add in a greedy bio-engineering company and Dominion has all the makings of a scary but lovable family movie.

With nothing else on the big screen these days but superhero movies, Cathryn and I enjoyed the movie. She rated it a 9 out of 10, mostly because nobody really dies. I give it a 6.

Gas of Tank – Todd Ternovan with Matthew St. Amand

Gas of Tank: A Canadian Law Enforcement Odyssey 1979 – 2019
by Matthew St. Amand, Todd Ternovan

Edmond Gagnon‘s Review – Jun 07, 2022  

Best book I’ve read in a long time.
You might call me bias because like the author, I’m a retired police officer and also an author. But with the help of Matthew St. Amand, former O.P.P. Constable Todd Ternovan offers an emotional and insightful view of what policing it really all about. It’s about people.
If you want an honest and accurate picture of what it’s like to work the front lines in law enforcement, this is a must-read. Many of Todd’s stories brought me back to moments in my own policing career – the good and the bad.
Our paths crossed at least once or twice during our respective careers, somewhere in between 1990 to 2009 but I didn’t really know the man. Reading this chronology of his career made me realize we shared a lot of the same work ethic. He’s done an amazing job on his first book and is obviously a great story teller. His use of witty and colorful metaphors had me laughing out loud. His dry and sometimes sarcastic sense of cop humor showed through.
I thought the title was weird at first, but as Ternovan says, it is befitting the surreal, upside-down and unbelievable experiences police officers face every day.

Snowbirds Returning Home

Anyone who understands my travel habits knows how I hate to take the same route twice, even when returning from a particular destination. So, why would our return trip from Mexico be any different. If you read my post, Snowbirds Who Drove to Mexico, you got to see how it really is possible to drive there, and see some cool stuff along the way.

They say, what goes up must come down. But in our case we did it in reverse, driving back home from Mexico and taking a completely different route to get there. After six days of 8 to 10 hour drives on the way down, we slowed things down a bit on the way home, taking 7 days instead. Daily stopovers were chosen in advance for peace of mind.

To prep the Silver Bullet for the trip home I attended the local outdoor car wash for an in and out. I had them check the air filter, top up my fluids, and repair a sticky hood latch. All for the scandalous price of $12 Canadian.

From out winter home in Melaque, on the Pacific coast. we chose the town of Tonala as our first stop. It’s kind of a suburb, southeast of Guadaljara. We chose this stop as a place to shop, hearing that it is the place to go in Mexico for wholesale and bargain prices on everything from furniture to artwork. Our car was already quite full, but we managed to stuff in a large mirror, tin sunburst for our patio, and a set of handblown glasses, all for a fraction of what they would cost anywhere else.

We spent the next night in Saltillo, an automotive town just south of Monterrey. For safety-sake we never travelled at night and mostly stayed on the larger toll roads or highways. The drive was fairly uneventful until we hit a large rock and blew a tire, in the middle of nowhere. No problem, we thought, we had full coverage Mexican car insurance that included flat tires.

While I checked the damage, Cathryn called the emergency numbers for roadside assistance. No answer at one and a message from the other stating to call back during normal business hours. Another call to the Green Angles (roadside help) also went unanswered. Seems nobody was working on Saturday. I had the trunk empty by the time she got off the phone and found the spare tire.

Thankful that I took auto mechanics in high school, I was able to figure out the newfangled jack and how to change the blown tire. Problem #1 solved. Our GPS found a Goodyear about a half our away but they closed for their 3 hour siesta around the same time. Problem #2. Driving above the recommended speed limit on the ‘donut’ spare, we made it just in time.

After some discussion with the garage manager, with both of us faking each other’s language, he agreed to the repair. He and the tire jockey had their own discussion about working overtime to take care of us. With the new tire is was easy sailing to the U.S. border, until we got stopped for speeding about 15 miles shy of America. 117 in a 60. Shit!

Now, you have to understand that we never encountered a speed trap anywhere in Mexico the whole three months in country, and for the most part I didn’t think police could afford radar guns. I’d heard stories of them using hair dryers to extort money from gringos, but I’ve seen my share of radar guns and got to see the digital readout for myself.

Add another 200 bucks to the cost of travel. There are few posted signs in the area, where it seems the cops prey mostly on the heavy truck traffic heading for the border. Perhaps the Silver bullet set a new land speed record. I never saw a 60k sign, I swear. They call that racing here at home. The border was a welcome site and we headed for New Orleans.

Our first stop in the U.S. was in Sugarland, just south of Houston, where we found a hotel near a Rudy’s Smokehouse. We’d stopped at one near Austin on the way down and had to do a repeat for some Texas Barbeque. No more tacos! Highway signs in Louisiana for Boudin and Crackling got the best of us and we stopped to check out the local snack food. The latter being something like pork rinds with some meat still attached, and sprinkled with cajon spice.

Our Airbnb

From there we were able to get into New Orleans early the next afternoon, where we found the coolest Airbnb in Algiers Point, across the Mississippi River from downtown NOLA. Only a 5 minute ferry ride from Canal Street, we were blown away by our quaint little neighborhood, with it’s colorfully painted shotgun style houses and eclectic cafes and restaurants. Our Airbnb was actually an old gas station at one time.

I’d been to NOLA once before but Cathryn hadn’t so we started with a trolley tour along Canal Street, then through the Garden District to ogle the fine mansions. We got off in the French Quarter and took in touristy things like beignets at Café du Monde, the waterfront, and Bourbon Street. We chowed down on Willie’s Fried Chicken while listening to live music on Frenchman Street.

Crown & Anchor English Pub

The best meal we had was back across the river at the Dry Dock Cafe, where we sampled Alligator sausage, seafood gumbo, a turkey Po Boy, and bread pudding. Our best breakfast was also in Algiers Point at the Tout de Suite Cafe, where we also scored a cool piece of stained glass art. They say NOLA is all about music and food. We ate our share and Cathryn gave her leftovers to hungry street people.

Our last night was spent along the Interstate, somewhere, less than a day’s drive from home. Most of the Covid bullshit was over by the time we hit Canada, and only had to produce our passports. With our side trips in Mexico we did a total of about 10,000 kilometers or 6,000 miles. Cheers to the Silver Bullet.

Top Gun: Maverick

Bigger, better, louder, and more action-packed than the original, Top Gun Maverick will literally pound on your chest and rumble the floor beneath your seat. Tom Cruise pulled all the stops making this blockbuster, spending $11,000 an hour to use the navy’s F18 fighter jets. Yes, the jets, top gun pilots, and much of the arial action was real. Filmed live with special cameras, designed to fit the aircraft.

Cruise even put his cast of top gun actors through boot camp and had each and every one of them go up in the fighter jets so that they could experience what actual pilots go through. Their distorted faces are the real deal, while they experienced the G forces that would make most of us throw up.

This movie is a must-see on the big screen with surround sound, to truly appreciate the awesome power of the supersonic jets portrayed in this film. There is one scene with Ed Harris where a low-flying jet literally blows the roof off a small building. It was unexpected but really happened so they left it in for effect. There were several other times where the sonic booms and jet wash rumbled our seats.

The story is good, bring back an old flame of Maverick’s who’s referred to in the original. There are a few flashbacks, triggered by Goose’s son, Rooster, who is a Top Gun selected for a dangerous mission that Maverick is called on to lead. The two of them must resolve an unresolved issue between them to survive what awaits them.

Enough said, check out the trailers and behind the scenes clips to see how this awesome movie was made. It is one of a kind. Catherine and I give it 10 out of 10 and will probably see it again before long.

La Sirena Gordita – Tapas Bar on Coco Beach

Where can you find one of the most amazing views in Mexico , specialty cocktails, friendly service, and amazing food at great prices? Get out your maps because this place is off the grid, kind of on the border between the states of Jalisco and Colima, on Coco Beach (Pacific Ocean), on the Isla de Navidad. Confused yet? Just drive east from Melaque or Barra de Navidad, towards Manzanillo and exit on the road to the Grand Bay Resort and Golf Course. Easy peasy.

La Sirena Gordita, or the Chubby Mermaid to us Gringos, has become a favorite spot for Cathryn and I to visit, while we’re in Melaque. Granted, it took us two attempts to find the place, but it was well worth our time and fun exploring the surrounding countryside. The unique tapas bar is actually part of the Villa Star of the Sea Spa Boutique Suites, but caters to wayward tourists looking for a cool drink and good grub.

The menu includes free sea breezes, and is Mexican-North American fusion, including unique salads, a meat & cheese tray, burgers and seafood. Drinks include ice cold beer, wine, and delicious cocktails – the pina colada was the best I’ve ever had. So far, Cathryn and I have sampled the Chile Relleno, Cheeseburger, Caesar Salad with Shrimp (amazing), and the Portobello Quesadilla, none of which disappointed us.

Portions are healthy and prices are a steal by Canadian standards. Servers are friendly and the owners are from Canada’s west coast. They cater to locals and Gringos alike, but ask for a heads up phone call or reservation if you have a group or want a guaranteed table. There are shady seats near the bar or beach chairs and umbrellas if you want to get a bit closer to the ocean, all offering an amazing unobstructed view.

Cathryn and I have been the the Chubby Mermaid twice now and will do our best to go back again before heading home. It gets a 9 our of 10 from us.

Pop Goes The Weasel – M. J. Arlidge

Pop Goes the Weasel (Helen Grace, #2)
by M.J. Arlidge

Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Feb 27, 2022  

First off, after reading this book, I have no idea where the title comes from. There’s also a book of the same title by James Patterson.
One of the reviews says that M.J. Arlidge is the the next Jo Nesbo. I disagree.
I found the book a choppy read with a bit too much touchy-feely stuff for my liking, where we were told how the characters ‘felt’ at each and every turn. Perhaps that comes from the voice of female authors, since I find it more often than not.
I also think the author went overboard on female characters…the protagonist, antagonist, and most other characters, with the exception of two males. In any policing organization that I am aware of, that is just not the norm.
Other than those quirks, the story is a good read.

The Vanished Man – Jeffrey Deaver

The Vanished Man (Lincoln Rhyme, #5)
by Jeffery Deaver (Goodreads Author)

Edmond Gagnon‘s review Feb 18, 2022  

I haven’t read much of Jeffrey Deaver but like his Lincoln Rhyme character. I’ve also see The Bone Collector movie. I wasn’t sure at first that I liked how the antagonist narrated his part in the story, but it was an important part of the plot and went to understanding the character’s motives.
The Vanished Man is the name of a particular illusion, performed by illusionists or magicians. And this story is all about magic and illusions – it has more surprises, twists an turns, than watching a motocross race on a dirt track.
The story is good and characters believable. I can promise that you’ll be fooled more than once reading this book and Deaver will keep you guessing right up until the end.

Edmond Gagnon Author in Melaque, Mexico

Greetings to my fellow Readers, visiting or living in the Costalegre, Mexico.

I’m currently staying in Melaque and will be selling my latest titles in the Norm Strom Crime Fiction series, ‘Border City Chronicles’ ‘Moon Mask’ and ‘Trafficking Chen’ at the Sunday (Feb 20th) Morning Market @ Viva Maria 1910, near Tito’s in West Melaque.

The Crafters Market starts at 10am…ish and runs through the morning. There are various crafts like jewellery and pottery, and homemade goodies like clam chowder and cabbage rolls to be had.

I have a limited number of books available so be sure to get your personally autographed copy before I sell out. Feel free to check my website for details on the crime series: www.edmondgagnon.com