Saturday, April 12, 2014

Miller Anchors Rock for a Big Win Over Wings

Tonight the Toronto Rock took on the Philadelphia Wings in their second last home game of the season and Teena and I were there.

A win would clinch a playoff spot for the Rock. 10,662 fans turned up to cheer them on and the did so loudly from the opening face off till the end of the game.

Brandon Miller, who came from Philadelphia in a trade a few weeks ago, started in goal for the Rock and, sorry for this, but he was Rock solid, especially when needed in the second half.

The first period was full of scoring with just under half the goals scored in the game being scored in the quarter. Toronto trailed 5-4 when the quarter ended.


In the second quarter, Philadelphia scored first to take a two goal lead before Toronto scored three in a row of their own.


The Rock cheerleaders were absent during the first quarter but came out for the second.


With score tied seven all, the Wings scored but the goal was nullified due to them having a player in the crease. The Wings challenged the call but lost the challenge. The Wing player was clearly in the crease.

The half ended in a seven all tie and a discussion before leaving the playing surface.

Today there was a Mini Miss Cheerleader Camp put on by the Toronto Rock Cheerleaders.They all came at to perform at the half.


Then it was time to get back to business, especially for Crowley, the Wings' goaltender and our own Brandon Miller. Low scoring quarters are very unusual in lacrosse and the third quarter saw just two goals being scored, one for each team. With a quarter left, the game was tied at eight.

Time for the Rock cheerleaders!


Toronto took a two goal lead early in the quarter and Miller was absolutely sensational in shutting down the Wings, who couldn't put in a goal till there was just 2:11 left in the game.

Look at the tension in this fans face!

The Rock held on with Miller making two sensational saves, one with just a second to go on the clock for the win!

With the win, the Rock have clinched a playoff spot.


The news gets better too. The Buffalo Bandits lost their game against the Minnesota Swarm 10-9, so with two games left in the season and a game against Buffalo next week-end it is still possible for the Rock to get second place in the division and a home game for the first round of the playoffs. With Brandon Miller in net, this is a definite possibility!

Here is Miller in a post game interview. I am so looking forward to next Fridays game against the Bandits!

Beer of the Week - The Beers of Griffin Gastropub

In the craft beer industry there are brewers, craft beer bar owners, craft beer festival organizers and craft beer drinkers. Jed Corbeil, and Curt Dunlop are all these things!

Back in 2008, Jed bought a pub in his hometown of Bracebridge, Ontario, and called it the Griffin Gastropub.

Right away he threw out all the big brewery beers and focused only on pouring Ontario craft beers. Not content to be just a pub owner, he came down to Toronto and started the first of what would be an annual event, The Sessions Toronto craft beer festival. This year will be the fifth year for the festival which is being held June 13 and 14 at Dundas Square. Teena and I have not missed one and already have our tickets for this year!

They also do craft beer festivals in Hastings and, of course, in Bracebridge. We were at the one in Bracebridge last year and it was fabulous!

Jed and Curt have decided to start brewing their own beer with the help of the people at Black Oak Brewing, one of my favorite breweries. Two different beers from Griffin, a Carny Ale and a Summer Stout, came in my first Beer of the Month Club package that Teena our cats gave me for my birthday.

Time to give them a try.

Carny Ale

Wow! What a great beer!

It pours a light amber colour with a white head. This is a bottle-aged beer, having a little yeast added at bottling so the beer goes through a secondary fermentation in the bottle, and the beer is slightly cloudy. I sense some citrus and spice in the aroma.

As I sip, I can taste spice and a little lemon. According to the card on the bottle, there is dried lemon peel, sage and fresh lemon zest added to the brew. Although this is an ale, a pilsner malt is used along with a Trappist Ale Yeast.

This beer is both a touch sour, a touch spiced, and a touch bitter, all combining for one fabulous flavour. It is an exciting, multi-flavoured enjoyable beer and I'm sad that I have only three bottles of it. Oops, only two now! They won't last long in my fridge for sure!

Summer Stout

This summer stout is what you would call a milk stout, which is a stout that has lactose sugar added to the brew. According to the card, this stout also has cocoa powder, vanilla bean and blueberry extract added as well.

It pours with the blackness of a regular stout with a brownish head which takes a little bit to melt away. The head is not creamy as I had expected it would be. There are lots of chocolate tones in the aroma. The bitterness of the chocolate is very pronounced all the way through to the finish. I can't detect any hint of blueberry flavoring in here. This is a nice stout but not an outstanding one. I will have no troouble in drinking the others.

Now if I could just get my hands on more of that Carny Ale!

Beer of the Week Stats 

Beers Profiled 233 
Breweries 209 
Countries 44

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review - Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Have you ever read a book with a story so good that you hate to see it end?

That was the way it was for me with Traitor's Blade.

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike. 

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters. 

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn.

This is the first book written by Sebastien de Castell who hails from Vancouver. I found it very action-packed, well written, and filled with twists and turns throughout the story.

I usually shy away from fantasies but this book, although set in a mythical land, draws much from the time of the 17th century, the period of time when the story of the Three Musketeers took place. That being said, this book is equal to or even better than the Alexandre Dumas story.

The book may be finished but happily, the story of the Greatcoats, led by Falcio val Mond, is not yet over. According to de Castell's website the next book in the series, Greatcoat's Lament, is now at the publisher. I can hardly wait for it to come out.

Thanks to Luanne from A Bookworm's World who posted her review of this book on The 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge site in March. I too take part in the challenge as does Teena, and I enjoy having a look at what others have read. That's how I found this book and am very glad that I did.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Introduction to Opera at First Canadian Place

The Canadian Opera Company's season is about to open and to help promote it a few of their stars came to First Canadian Place to put on a performance of some of opera's greatest hits. I have never heard opera live and this would be a great time to hear it, so I rescheduled my lunch and went over.

Ambur Braid was the first to perform and did a song from Verdi. I would not know that unless I was told. The range of her voice was amazing and I could not believe the high notes she could reach.

Next up were Cameron McPhail and Charlotte Burrage who did a duet from Mozart. Please excuse me but I started recording a little late. At the end of this post is a full song done by the entire cast

Edgar Ramirez also had a great vocal range.


All four came on the stage at the end and did a song togther.

It was an interesting time. Although I enjoyed and appreciated the performers talent, I think opera is not for me. For those who love opera would have love this. I'm really glad I went.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Toronto Past and Present - Queen and Bay, 1923

This is Queen and Bay in Toronto on April 7, 1923. The image is from the Toronto Archives which I found on the Historic Toronto website. If you love old pictures of Toronto, this is worth a visit.

Those buildings on the top left hand side were torn down to make way for Nathan Phillips Square and new City Hall which you can see part of in the new picture. A few friends at work looked at the old picture and thought it might be an old shot of Chicago but no, it's our own fair city!

Today I wandered up to the corner to do my best to capture the same angle today.

 I could not get the same angle as the original was taken from above, likely out of the offices of this old building which is now part of the Hudson's Bay Company flagship store.

The bend in the road is still there, as well as the pedestrian island that the streetcars are going around, and to the right hand side of the picture, thankfully old City Hall, one of my favorite buildings in the world.

I love looking at old photos of our city to see how things have changed.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Fitness Assessment with a Personal Trainer

After a couple of years off from fencing and a year of not going to the gym, I thought it was time to make some changes. Time to get back into shape!

Last week I called the West End YMCA, which Teena and I have been members of for a few years, to see about having a few sessions with a personal trainer to get me going. A few years ago I tried to set up a program for myself and ended up injuring my shoulder. This time I wanted to do it right and figured to have a trained professional set up a program for me.It turns out that with a YMCA membership, people get 4 free sessions with a personal trainer which they call mYfitness:

mYfitness This service is for those new to exercising or coming back after a few false starts. mYfitness provides the personal attention, flexibility and focus to get you on the road to a lifetime fitness habit. Working with our professional staff, we will help you develop an exercise program that suits your health and fitness needs. Included in membership.

Tonight was my first session with my trainer, Sarah. Tonight was a fitness assessment where I completed a short form regarding my health, the amount of exercise I currently do and my injuries. We talked for 45 minutes. Sarah had many helpful tips to use during my day, and we discussed range of motion stretches to do in the morning.  This I will start tomorrow morning.

We also went over other programs that the "Y" offers. I think I'll start getting back into yoga once a week.

My next session is a week today where I'll be introduced to the machines and equipment they have to see what will suit my program. I'm looking forward to this!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Beer of the Week - The Beers of Theresianer Antica Birreria di Trieste

Last week I came home to find that Teena had bought me a six month subscription to Amazing Clubs, Beer of the Month Club. Included in this months box were beers from Italian Brewery, Theresianer Antica Birreria di Trieste. Three were Premium Pils and the other three were Pale Ales. I have had many European lagers and pilsners but not too many pale ales from Europe. I'm looking forward to this.

The brewery is located in Trieste Italy, a city on the west coast of the Adriatic Sea which is just under a hundred miles south of Austria. Why is this important? In the 1700's the city attracted many Austrian merchants. In 1766, the founders of Theresianer received permission from Maria Theresa of Austria, who was the countries ruler. This was the cities first Austrian brewery, and obviously a survivor.

And the beer?

Lets start with the Premium Pils which I tried yesterday.

The beer pours a light golden colour with a large white head. As you can see, it is a pretty clear beer. The head did take a few minutes to disappear leaving behind lacings that did not stick to the glass but slowly slid back into the beer, not unusual for a lager.

There is a sweetness to this beer that I had not expected. Most European pilsners had a crisp light bitterness to them, that this lacks. It is sweet throughout and does finish with a little, very little, bitter finish. This is a decent beer but one that lacks that nice bitter quality that I personally enjoy in a pilsner.

Time for their Pale Ale.

This one pours coppery in colour with a white head that leaves quite quickly. There is an earthy aroma to this that I have never encountered in a pale before.It surprised me at how little flavour there was in this ale. With the earthiness of the aroma, I didn't know what to expect, but it certainly wasn't a lack of flavour.

I rinsed my mouth, cleaned a glass and opened the second bottle, just in case the first bottle was off. As it took a Silver medal at the 2011 World Beer Championships, I had to give this ale a second chance.

The aroma and lacings were the same but this time it was much more flavourful. It retains an earthy taste that I had detected in the aroma, but the taste falls away in the finish. This would be a beer that I would pass on in the future.

I love trying beers from all over the world and don't expect to like or love them all. Others may like these two beers but they were not my style. Although a bit of a disappointing start to the Beer of the Month Club, I am very much looking forward to trying the others in this months selection and the others that will be coming along in the next few months.

Beer of the Week Stats 

Beers Profiled 232 
Breweries 208 
Countries 44

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Watching the Jays Shut Out the Yankees

It's opening weekend for the Toronto Blue Jays, who are taking on the New York Yankees for three games. Last night they lost 7-3 and hoped to even up the series today. They had an ace in the hole besides knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey being on the mound. That would be Teena and I!

You see, and Teena thinks that this is anal of me, I have been tracking our record at Jays home games since 2006. I am 49-23 (.681) during that time and Teena is 24-12 (.667).  Last year I was 6-2. We seem to be good luck for the Jays and had seats on the first base side in section 217.

Pitching coach Pete Walker (left) walks out from the bullpen with R.A Dickey and his catcher, Josh Thole (pronounced toe-lee).

Lineup cards were exchanged at home plate and then the game was underway.

R.A. Dickey throws the first pitch of the game. Many of my own pictures did not come out as I was trying to shoot at 1/30 shutter speed and my images were blurry. Any faster and they were too dark. I love it when the dome is open for better light. Teena took some great shots and this is one of them.

Derek Jeter was booed quite a bit when he came to back as he is the last of the Ultimate Yankees, having played for them for 20 years. He is retiring after this year, with a great career that took him through the steroid era of baseball without a single scandal. A future Hall of Famer for sure!

Edwin Encarnacion is not only the Jays first baseman but also on my fantasy team, the Rumrunners. I was hoping to see a good game from him today but he went hitless.

Canadian Brett Lawrie, a favorite of ours went hitless too.

A pick-off play at second. We just missed it for the out.

The crowd of 45,000 plus started up the wave, which many find fun, me not so much.

After pitching a great six and two thirds inning, Dickey gave up a single and Gibbons came out to take him out of the game to a tremendous ovation from the crowd.

It was a nail biter of a game until the bottom of the eighth when Melkey Cabrera homered.

Colby Rasmus came up and broke his hitless streak with a double, which was followed by Batista's third home run of the year!

Sergio Santos shut down the Yankees in the ninth to preserve the 4-0 Blue Jays win.


It was a fun afternoon. I'm quite optimistic about the Jays' playoff hopes this year and this game helped to keep that optimism going.