Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review - "Where I Belong" by Alan Doyle

I have enjoyed Great Big Sea's music for years and have seen them a few times in concert, so when the group's lead singer, Alan Doyle, wrote a book, Where I Belong,I just had to read it.

Singer-songwriter and front man of the great Canadian band Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle is also a lyrical storyteller and a creative force. In Where I Belong, Alan paints a vivid, raucous and heartwarming portrait of a curious young lad born into the small coastal fishing community of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and destined to become a renowned musician who carried the musical tradition of generations before him and brought his signature sound to the world. He tells of a childhood surrounded by larger-than-life characters who made an indelible impression on his music and work; of his first job on the wharf cutting out cod tongues for fishermen; of growing up in a family of five in a two-bedroom house with a beef-bucket as a toilet, yet lacking nothing; of learning at his father's knee how to sing the story of a song and learning from his mother how to simply "be good"; and finally, of how everything he ever learned as a kid prepared him for that pivotal moment when he became part of Great Big Sea and sailed away on what would be the greatest musical adventure of his life. 

 Filled with the lore and traditions of the East Coast and told in a voice that is at once captivating and refreshingly candid, this is a narrative journey about small-town life, curiosity and creative fulfillment, and finally, about leaving everything you know behind.

When I first opened the book, I thought it would be about Alan Doyle's years with Great Big Sea, with perhaps a short history of his life before that but I was wrong. Usually I dislike it when I read an autobiography of a famous person and they go on and on about their childhood. No, just give me the story of your famous life!

That's not the case here. The book is all about Doyle growing up in Petty Harbour and it's a great, fun read. Who knew that an entire chapter on cutting cod tongues could be so entertaining? It sounds like Doyle rarely got out of Petty Harbour until he was in his teens.

What I found quite interesting is that I could hear the Newfie accent in everything he wrote. Teena and I were at an interview with Alan Doyle recently about his book.  He told many great stories there too and he explained that if something did not sound right on paper, he would go down to the small recording studio that he has in his home and record him telling the story. That's why everything in the book feels like he is sitting with you telling the story because the book truly is in his own words, accent and all.

I got a kick out the end of the book where he puts in a Glossary of Terms (mostly for Mainlanders) It's very funny and don't dare flip to it until you've read the book.

Where I Belong is hopefully just his first book. I will definitely read his next. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vikings Against the Bills at the Ralph

This morning three of us from work, Craig, Mark and I, left Toronto and headed to Buffalo with Elite Sports Tours to see the Buffalo Bills take on the Minnesota Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium, also know as the Ralph. After a great tailgate party, we headed into the stadium.

We had end zone seats. It was a nice cool afternoon, perfect for football.

Mark and Craig


Some shots of the game.



More action.


I took a walk around the stadium.


The colours were turning outside the stadium.

The temperature dropped in the 4th quarter but it didn't stop these two from showing some skin.

With just one second left to go and down 16-10, Kyle Orton hit Sammy Watkins for the winning touchdown. I wasn't looking through the viewer when I took this shot, just shot from the chest and cropped afterwards. It was the only picture I cropped in this post.

It was a fabulous end to a great day. Can hardly wait to do this again next year!

Buffalo Bills Tailgate Party

Today, Mark, Craig and I, who work together, went to the Buffalo Bills - Minnesota Vikings football game at the Ralph,(Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo) with Elite Sports Tours.

The bus left Yonge and York Mills at 7:10am sharp and took us just over three hours for to cross the crowded game day Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo, clear customs and pull into our parking spot outside the stadium.

Mark on the left, Craig and I.

Up in one corner of the lot, our food was already hot and ready for us. The feed included hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, pulled pork, mac salad and other snacks. The pulled pork seemed to be the favorite.


There were two coolers of ice cold beer that were constantly being restocked. Elite Tours did not skimp on anything!


There were thousands of fans everywhere.


The guys in this mini bus must have season tickets.

Viking fans.


Food and games around the lot.


This girl playing beer pong was very proud of her bow.

A couple of mounted police. They must have been bored as everybody was having a great time and not causing trouble.

Just before the game a Vikings fan came up to Mark, handed him a Buffalo Bills football and said he had just found it and didn't want it. Time to celebrate good luck.

The trip was well organized and fun, and we were well looked after. I would recommend Elite Sports Tours to anyone. For me, this will become a yearly event.

Here we are on the bus on the way down. Thanks Luke for sending me the shot!