The Beatles – Love – Cirque du Soleil

downloadI’d seen the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show called Love many years ago and knew that Cathryn would love to see it while we were in Vegas on our detour from Route 66. We’re both Cirque fans and everyone knows the Beatles music, so you can easily sing along. We got married in Vegas six years ago and were too busy to catch a show. This time we had no excuse.

The show is still at the Mirage and it promised to be bigger, better, and bolder, having been redone since my last viewing. I wasn’t convinced when we first sat down, the seats were smaller than I remembered and there had been speakers built into the headrest for surround sound. None of that mattered once the show started.

Typical Cirque characters got the production started, then came the music, color, acrobatics and the awesome music of the Beatles. There was confetti that fell from the rafters, bubbles from that lingered in the air, and a giant sheet of silk that covered the whole stage and stretched out into the audience.

Of course there were a couple VW Beetle Bugs and a van. The acts performed were top notch and blended with the theme of the music. The costume and set colors jumped right into your lap. The stage itself was a giant machine, with sections that opened up and parts that moved actors up and down and in and out of sight.

Love wasn’t as heavily weighted with acrobatics or circus-style acts as other shows, it had just the right amount of song and dance and action to keep your eyes wandering around the stage to see what was going on in all corners. It definitely lived up to its promise of being bigger, bolder and better. We both loved the show and easily rated it a 10 out of 10.

The Mother Road Part 1 – Chicago to Amarillo Texas

IMG_2950In 1926 new horseless carriages created a need for a network of roads for people to drive them on. Thus the federal highway system was launched with Route 66, dubbed The Mother Road or Will Rogers Highway, being the path west from Chicago to L.A. Folks were already heading west for land, jobs, and to find their fortune in one way or another.

Cathryn and I packed up the Impala and headed to Chicago on June 10th. We headed to Chicago, where Route 66 originates, and walked around downtown. A beer and a cheeseborger at the Billy Goat gave us the fuel to carry on and check out the Riverwalk. We had dinner and finished the night at Andy’s Jazz bar, a great send off from the windy city.

We stayed at the Congress Plaza, a beautiful turn-of-the-century hotel near the waterfront. Pete, the hotel security guard took us on a private tour showing us the first air-conditioned ballroom in the U..S. and a backroom where Al Capone hung out and played cards. Apparently him and Elliott Ness stayed in the same hotel at the same time, unknown to the Treasury Agent.

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Rocketman

uploadscardimage9964749ca94b84-337b-4fee-b183-e5172f15b6c5.jpg950x534__filtersquality80I had to think about this movie for a couple days to let it sink in. Given that time to mull it over I have to say I was not impressed by Rocketman – the story of Elton John. Cathryn loved the movie so this review will give you both perspectives. She liked the music selection and thought the actors playing John as a child and adult (Taron Egerton) did a fabulous job.

The film accurately mimicked many of the rock star’s wild and crazy outfits, but made no attempt to play his music in the order the songs were released. Theatrical creativity must have been the point since the song lyrics were used to describe the events of the artist’s stage in life. Oddly enough, it was Bernie Taupin who wrote the lyrics and Elton added the music.

For me the story dwells too long on Reg Dwight’s (Elton John) woe is me childhood. They show us how he came up with his stage name – the second half taken from John Lennon, but that fact in not true. Granted, John was executive producer of the movie, but he obviously decided to portray his life as he perceived it and not as how it actually happened. Thus there are other historical inaccuracies.

I was also unimpressed with the movie being a fantasy musical. I thought it took away from many of the great songs that I love. Nothing in the reviews I read said anything about the format. Overall the movie was still entertaining with a couple of zen moments to put you in the zone.

I rated it a 5 and Cathryn a 10 out of 10.

John Wick – 300 (Parabellum)

WickI use the number 300 instead of 3 – for the third installment of the John Wick, the master assassin. Seeing the film with an action-appreciating buddy, we couldn’t keep track of the bad guys killed by Wick. He commented later that it was the highest body count he’d ever seen in a movie, a bold statement considering other slaughter movies we’d seen, like Rambo 3 or Hacksaw Ridge.

I’ve always liked Keanu Reeves and that includes his John Wick character, but I started to chuckle after his first 30 or 40 kills. The man deserves credit for the way he handles himself in the action sequences – basically a two hour long chase and fight scene. He masterfully handles an assortment of weapons that must have taken hours of practice to successfully operate.

If you don’t mind a few dozen blood-spattering head shots and an overly violent plot, this movie could be for you. I do find it odd though, in this day and age, how movie makers can present us with such mindless slaughter, and add a dry touch of humor to make the film more entertaining. In a way this movie reminded me of the Walking Dead – the bad guys weren’t dead until you shot them in the head, in many cases more than once.

Enough about the violence. The movie has a highly paid all-star cast, perhaps to give the flick some credibility with movie buffs. I have to say I was shocked at the other online reviews I read from sites like Roger Ebert and company. So maybe it was just me…and my buddy, who thought there was enough carnage to call the John Wick movies a trilogy and leave it at that.

Cathryn could never have sat through this movie with her eyes open. I don’t think my buddy was too impressed. For the sake of mindless entertainment I give it 5 out of 10.

The New Old Elora Mill

IMG_2932 (2)Cathryn had dropped a few hints that we were over due for a mystery date (an overnight at an undisclosed destination), the comments directed in my direction for her birthday month. It had been a whole two months since our return from Egypt and Africa so I almost felt sorry for her and decided to surf the web for an idea to satisfy her wanderlust itch.

One of my cousins posted on Facebook that she was at the spa in the Elora Mill. The last time Cathryn and I dropped by the village of Elora the Mill was closed, fenced in and under construction. We tried to peek through the fence but couldn’t see what was in the works. I messaged my cousin who said the Mill was newly renovated and open for business.

I browsed the internet and checked the web site, balking at the listed price for spending one night in a hotel room. Reading on I was able to get into the last night of an off-season promotion that made the cost more palatable. Just because I thought my wife deserved a treat I shelled out $350 banana peels for a room in the mill. The clincher for me was a complimentary bottle of premium wine in the room and a hundred bucks off our food and beverage bill in either the lounge or restaurant.

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Destination Kingsville

53604772_2361225210789730_7622770010628292608_nAfter retiring I worked for Niagara Wine Tours, a company who was trying to expand into the Lake Erie North Shore region. They were already tapped into the Toronto market and thought the wine industry in Essex County was ripe for the picking. Unfortunately the company couldn’t garner enough interest to keep them afloat. The main complaint from out-of-town tourists was our lack of places to stay.

Fast-forward about ten years and we have fifteen wineries and almost as many breweries or brew-pubs. Existing estates expanded to accommodate tour buses and gatherings such as wedding receptions. Bars and restaurants got in on the action by offering local vintages and brews.

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Norm is Back! Border City Chronicles

Layout 1Maybe you’ve heard the rumors on Entertainment Tonight, Ellen, or WKRP in Cincinatti. Perhaps you only dreamed and hoped it was true. You’ve probably been wondering what Edmond Gagnon has been up to (besides travelling) and where the heck has Norm Strom been.

Let me make it clear…they are not rumors, you haven’t been dreaming, and Ed has finally finished his latest book, Border City Chronicles. Some of you were test-readers, others voted for the title, and a few may find their names used as characters. The book is three short crime fiction stories from the Norm Strom archives.

News of this upcoming book is receiving a positive buzz on the street. Here’s a few comments about Norm’s new stories:

Baby Shay – “The challenges told in this story are heartbreaking and can make strong experienced officers unable to function. This is one story you will not be able to put down.”

Designated Hitters – “This story provides the reader with a unique insight into police work and the thoughts and emotions cops work through every day. Norm doesn’t regret retirement. After reading his story, you will understand why.”

Knock-Out – “Norm introduces Abigail Brown, a Detroit Homicide Detective. He’s her friend and confidant and relies on his expertise to provide her with a little extra help. This is an excellent story and I’m hoping to read more of her exploits in the future.”

Border City Chronicles is coming to book stores and internet sites across the world very very soon! Feel free to reserve a copy with the author now.