Downtown Windsor Farmers Market

The fresh local produce of summer is wearing thin and now is the time to visit the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market to cash in on those end of the season deals. If you haven’t been downtown to check out the market this season, here’s what your missing: fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers and potted plants, homemade baked goods, fresh-made perogies and sausages, kettle corn, craft beer, coffee, hand-made crafts, t-shirts, jewelry, books, and much more.

The Downtown Market sets up on Pelissier Street, between Wyandotte and Park, every Saturday, from 8am to 1pm. There are anywhere from 80 to 100 vendors throughout the season, which runs from May 1st to December 12th. During inclement weather vendors move into the lower level of the Pelissier parking garage.

Come visit next Saturday and support a talented group of local authors who write in genres that include women’s empowerment, self-help, crime fiction, travel, paranormal, horror, children’s, mathmatics, and military, along with a collection of colorful book marks.

Here’s your chance to speak with a local author, and get a personally autographed copy of their book. Please come and visit and support local.

RESPECT – The Aretha Franklin Story

Find out what RESPECT really means to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The movie tells her life story from the time she was a little girl singing in her father’s church, until she becomes an international star. If you’re a music lover or a fan of Aretha you won’t want to miss this movie. My first surprise in the flick was learning the extent of talent in her family, from her mother to her sisters.

Her over-bearing father, a Baptist Minister, plays a huge role in Aretha’s life, and is socially connected to important people like Doctor Martin Luther King. Franklin comes of age in an era when blacks have taken to the streets in a quest for equality. Many of Aretha’s singing engagements were in church or to raise money for the movement.

As with many other celebrities, Miss Franklin is haunted by demons from her childhood and continual conflict with her father. Her choice in men only exacerbates her problems, to the point where it all becomes too much and she breaks down. The church and gospel music re-inspire her and she becomes the music icon we all know.

Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha in the movie and delivers one of the best performances of her career. Respect is not a movie you really need to see on the big screen, but the soundtrack is awesome and will surely have you tapping your foot. Cathryn even got up and danced in the isle to one song. We were the only ones in the theater.

We both enjoyed the movie. I gave it a 9 and she a 10 out of 10.

Stillwater

Wow, two trips to the movie theater in less than a week – I almost feel normal again. My wakeup to the new normal was at the candy counter where I paid $9 for a small bag of popcorn. It seems recovering from the pandemic means adding dollars to the cost of everything except the movie.

Stillwater is the name of an American town where an out of work Roughneck turned construction worker (Matt Damon) lives. It’s also the pendant on a necklace that he gives his daughter before she goes off to university in Marseilles, France, where she is convicted of murder and sent to prison for the death of her girlfriend.

The story drags like a tractor pull, led by a baseball-capped redneck version of Jason Bourne in slow motion. Damon visits his daughter in prison but their communication skills are about as far apart as France and the U.S. on a world map. Cultural differences are brought to light in this flick, pointing out the bullying image of Americans and how France has nearly lost their identity to the mass influx of immigrants.

With the exception of a few scenery shots along the rocky shore of the Mediterranean Sea, this is not a movie you need to rush out and see on the big screen. If fact, it’s our opinion you don’t need to rush out and see this flick for any reason. Cathryn and I both give it a 6 out of 10.

Jungle Cruise

I can’t remember the last movie I rated or the last time Cathryn and I were able to get out and watch one at a real live movie theater. We are happy that Lakeshore Cinemas didn’t fold, like so many other businesses during the global pandemic. The theaters are close to us and not as busy at the larger venues.

A quick note for those who like to buy tickets at the door – there is no ticket booth anymore. You either buy them online and reserve your seat at the same time or take your chances at one of the kiosks inside the building. Staff is now limited to the popcorn counter, and they also act as ticket checkers or ushers.

It was nice that we had a choice of two decent-looking movies, Stillwater with Matt Damon or Jungle Cruise with Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. We chose to latter for something light and hopefully fun. We chose correctly; the movie was great.

I compare the Disney movie to an Indiana Jones instalment, with Blunt and the Rock sharing the Amazon River adventure. As with Indy, the river runners are in search of an ancient item, this one something that can save mankind. There’s a good mix of action, adventure and humor in a movie that relies heavily on CGI.

This is the type of movie you’ll want to see on the big screen and I even found myself laughing out loud on a few occasions. We both enjoyed the movie and Cathryn rated it 10 out of 10. I gave it a 9, mostly because I’m an action junkie and don’t want to be dubbed a Disney Duck.

Trafficking Chen by Edmond Gagnon

It’s here – my latest installment in the Norm Strom Crime Series – Trafficking Chen. Tragically, a bit more exciting than the new phone book. Do they even exist anymore?

A young Chinese girl is kidnapped from her home in settlement of her father’s gambling debt. She is forced into slave labor and eventually prostitution. When a new group of Asian dancers lands in a Windsor strip club, Norm Strom joins a task force to investigate.

Trafficking Chen can be purchased locally at Story Tellers in Windsor or River Bookshop in Amherstburg. It is available in paperback or eBook online as of June 1st.

See what all the hype is about and get yourself a copy now.

The Equalizer With Queen Latifah

I’ve been biting my tongue since watching the latest reboot of The Equalizer, starring Queen Latifah. I can’t say I remember much about the original 1980 television series, starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a retired CIA agent who spends his time helping desperate people in desperate situations.

The series was rebooted with movies in 2014 and 2018, starring Denzel Washington as McCall. The storyline was the same, and I thought Denzel was perfect for the role, one similar to the character he played in Man on Fire. When I heard of the new TV series coming out I was kind of hoping he would be continuing his role.

To say I was shocked and skeptical when I saw that Queen Latifah was given the role of Robyn McCall is an understatement. Queen Latifah. Really? McCall is now retired, but billed as the best agent the CIA ever had. The woman has to be near 300 pounds, with a caboose that barely makes it though doors. Watching her waddle pains me, trying to believe the fight scenes where camera tricks and edits make her look faster than Bruce Lee.

McCall also has a teenage daughter in this latest version, something else that totally contradicts what the CIA would look for in it’s operatives. But as we’ve always been led to believe, you’re never really out of the company. Perhaps this is why our new Equalizer still has access to professional computer hackers and an assortment of fancy weapons.

I have to admit I’m still watching the show, mostly because I like the storylines, but I wince every time I see Latifah faking an action scene. They don’t even try to make her look thinner or more like an action hero – she has a wardrobe that is very unflattering for a large female spy. I’m sorry but watching her in this role is like seeing Mr. Rogers as the next James Bond.

The Cook’s Shop Redux

Where in Windsor can you find a restaurant with excellent food and service that’s been around for 40 years? The answer is the new old Cook’s Shop Restaurant. Spencer Dawson, took the reigns when the former owner retired from the business he started in 1980. The cozy dining room and Italian menu remain mostly the same, with a few minor changes to both. The old meat display case is gone but the natural stone walls and romantic setting remains the same.

The new owner introduced himself to Cathryn and I, taking the time to explain how he strived to keep fan-favorites on the menu, and brought in a few new recipes handed down by his grandmother. Her homemade bread was the first thing to knock our socks off – a sliced loaf that was crispy golden on the outside and a cornbread texture on the inside, served with a soft herb butter. The wine list covers all bases and quite reasonably priced.

We talked about Dawson’s idol, Lino, the previous owner, who just happened to grace us with his presence moments later. We were lucky enough to chat with both men and capture a few photos of the two most passionate restaurant owners I’ve ever met. Our Caesar salads were delivered on their departure from our table, the original recipe that Dawson said he had to retain in order to prevent a riot.

I forgot about the Escargot – large and tender snails served on a bed of mushrooms sautéed in garlic butter and served in phyllo pastry. We had time for another slice of bread before the salad. Our waiter, Moe, was Johnny-on-the-spot and never far from our table. I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, with double smoked bacon, and asked to have it on the creamy side. Yep, more sauce to soak up with the bread. It was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had.

Cathryn ordered the Rack of Lamb, four thick portions stacked over a pea and mushroom risotto. Sitting on my hands was all I could do to resist snatching some while she was away from the table. It was juicy, tender, and cooked to perfection. Sadly, we couldn’t finish the last two pieces of bread. Our meals were quite generous in size.

Although we were both stuffed, I needed a pieced of cheesecake. They had two and I went for the salted caramel. Not too rich, it had the perfect combination of sweet and saltiness. We both loved every part of our meal and enjoyed the experience of meeting both the old and new regime. Giving the Cook’s Shop a 10 out of 10 was a no-brainer.

Watch for Dawson’s future plans, while he renovates the whole building, possibly adding another restaurant and living quarters above that.

Streaming – The New Normal

I think it’s safe for me to say that 95% of those who read this are now streaming movies and/or television shows via their mobile device or Smart TV. And that’s only because the remaining 5% are either computer illiterates or simply don’t watch the squawk box. And it’s so convenient and easy for us to do nowadays, right? Just sign up for Netflix or one of the other streaming companies that are popping up like dandelions on a Spring lawn.

Or maybe you opt for Prime if you have an Amazon account; it’s only another 5 bucks a month. And there’s Crave for those of you who subscribe to Bell. That’s only 5 bucks too but if you want to watch anything good you need to drop another fiver (each) to get HBO, Showtime, Starz or the Super Channel. Apple TV is another conglomerate that is free, until you find you have to pay for Netflix or Crave or anything else under their umbrella.

Then there’s Gem, CBS All Access, CTV, Tubi, Global, Ted, A & E, Sundance or Sundance Plus if you want to watch anything decent. And I forgot You Tube, which is still free if you can figure out how to navigate the gazillions of videos that everyone with an iPhone has posted. I’ve recently seen Paramount Plus advertised, apparently one of the new ways the company can release movies without having to sell them to Netflix or Prime.

So, what does all this streaming really cost? My wife and I have taken to listing dollar amounts and effective dates on our calendar to keep track. Many say it’s cheaper than going to the movies. Really? Take your $100 to $150 basic cable or satellite bill, then add another $10 a month for one of the big shots like Netflix. But then add another $5 a month so you can binge on one of your favorite TV shows. Then a couple more fives here and there for whatever others you’ve forgotten to cancel, and remember that you’re paying this each and every month!

I know some who are paying $200 a month to watch television. That’s quite a few trips to the movie theater. I don’t know about you but I’m finding it more frustrating every day when I see a new show or movie that’s about to be released, but I have to subscribe to another provider to watch it. If this is the new normal I don’t like it.

Trafficking Chen – Teaser

Here’s a tease for what Norm Strom is up to next:

Human Trafficking is an affliction that has infected countries across the world for centuries, and continues to do so today. There are countless numbers of victims.

Trafficking Chen is the heartfelt story of one victim, a young Chinese girl who is taken from her family home to settle an outstanding gambling debt acquired by her father. She is forced into labor and becomes a servant to the rich.

As Chen comes of age, she has to serve in other ways, using her own body to satisfy her master’s sexual appetite. Later, she is prostituted and moved around the country, eventually being shipped overseas to Canada, where she is put to work as an exotic dancer.

Street Crimes Detective Norm Strom mostly investigates property-related crime, but he receives a tip from a confidential informant who says illegal Asian women are dancing at a local strip club. Trying to ignore personal issues, Strom joins a task force to investigate possible human trafficking in his city.