In The Right to be Cold, Sheila Watt-Cloutier recalls her childhood in the Canadian Arctic and her fight against the threat of climate change as an adIn The Right to be Cold, Sheila Watt-Cloutier recalls her childhood in the Canadian Arctic and her fight against the threat of climate change as an adult. The author takes us through her travels to Nova Scotia and Ontario at a young age, as well as her time in a residential vocational school in Churchill, Manitoba. During her years away from home, she had lost a great deal of her culture - it would be years before she was again fluent in her mother tongue - and when she returned home, it would be a different community than the one she had left.
Watt-Cloutier tells of her battles with the KSB ( Kuujjuaq School Board) as a member of an independent task force charged with improving the education system. As her career developed, she took a position with Inuit Circumpolar Council where she began her fight to recognize climate change as a human rights issue rather than a political or economical issue. The way she explains it is that basically the Arctic acts as a sort of giant petri dish for POPs (persistent organic pollutants). As the industrialized world to the south releases more and more pollutants into the atmosphere, as the chemicals evaporate, they settle into colder climates to the north. In turn, this contaminates the air, the animals (food source) and the water. Before this was discovered, the lack of industry in the North led to the common belief that the Arctic is a pristine and unaffected ecosystem, but all the pollution from the industrialized south - from which the Northern community receives no direct economic benefit - has turned their environment into a toxic depository.
Another topic discussed, albeit briefly, is the residential school system. Canada’s a great country, right? We’re often portrayed as harmless, hockey fanatics who just can’t stop apologizing to everyone, even if we did nothing wrong. That’s why it is so shocking to look into our past and see a pretty brutal and often overlooked era in our nation’s history. The mistreatment of our indigenous population is something I had only recently been made vaguely aware of and I can guarantee you it is something I was not taught in school (side note: Canada did offer a formal apology in 2008). Sheila’s own experiences in the residential school system, while upsetting, were a walk in the park compared to those suffered by the students at the ones run by Christian missionaries - something she seems to feel a lot of guilt over.
Much of the information in here is unsettling to say the least and for that reason alone, I believe this to be an important book. It’s easy to stick your head in the sand and ignore the more unsavory aspects of our great country but Canadians should be made aware of their history, warts and all. Otherwise, we risk marginalizing the very real struggles of those who have had their culture and rights swept under the rug....more
On July 31st, 2015, Roddy Piper tragically passed away at the age of 61. Prior to his death, Roddy was writing a new book about his early years and suOn July 31st, 2015, Roddy Piper tragically passed away at the age of 61. Prior to his death, Roddy was writing a new book about his early years and subsequent career both in the ring and in Hollywood. As a tribute to their father, daughter, Ariel, and son Colton, picked up where he left off and finished his life’s story.
Although Piper had written a book years ago and had released several documentaries, I believe this is the first time he’s truthfully delved into his troubled childhood. Homeless at fifteen, Piper lived in youth hostels across the country before starting a career in wrestling. Most wrestlers seem to shoehorn their lives before wrestling into their books because they likely feel it’s necessary in telling their story. More often than not, it falls flat due to an unremarkable childhood but Roddy’s pre-wrestling life was absolutely brutal. I think it plays an important part in who he became and how he was able to achieve the level of success that he did.
Once he had enough money to buy a car, he started driving to shows and sleeping in his backseat. He would often change into his gear and stay in the car before he was due to perform as a response to how badly he had been hazed by the boys in the locker room. After getting a few years under his belt as a preliminary performer, Roddy moved on to the East Coast of Canada and performed for Emile Dupres’ International Wrestling promotion (later renamed Grand Prix Wrestling). It was really cool to learn that he wrestled one of his first matches in the old North Sydney Forum - a repurposed airplane hanger close to my hometown on Cape Breton Island.
Following his stint in the Maritimes, Piper’s travels within the territory system of the United States are then explored. From his battles with Chavo Guerrero Sr. in LA, “Playboy” Buddy Rose in Portland and Greg Valentine in North Carolina, there are plenty of hilarious and fascinating stories to sink your teeth into. More than any other time in wrestling, I love reading about this era specifically as the truth about the business was still heavily guarded. This led to the majority of crowds believing that they were watching legitimate contests. As a bad guy (or heel), Piper loved to get the crowd riled up. One of the best stories had me laughing out loud when in order to appease a heavily Mexican crowd in Los Angeles, Piper agreed to play the Mexican national anthem on his signature bagpipes. He then proceeded to play “La Cucaracha” as chairs came flying into the ring in anger from the insulted masses.
I was surprised that he doesn’t get to the WWF until about the halfway mark of the book as that is arguably where he made his biggest impact. All of his big moments are covered from the first Wrestlemania squaring off against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T to his first pinfall defeat at the hands of Bret Hart in 1992. In between his landmark achievements in the WWF, his career in Hollywood is discussed. I enjoyed the story behind the ridiculously long fist fight with Keith David in They Live but his struggle to find a meaningful follow-up to that film is heartbreaking. Roddy had such a huge presence and could have been a massive action star if he had had the right guidance.
As far as wrestling biographies go, I thought this one was one of the better ones. Ariel and Colt put a tremendous amount of work in and it shows. My only real complaint would be that his time in WCW and his return to WWE in the early 2000s were kind of glossed over but when you compare the work he did early in his career to his later years, it’s understandable to see where the focus should lie. While it’s not as good as some of the classic wrestling books out there, it’s a worthy read that fans will enjoy....more
In 99: Stories of the Game, Wayne Gretzky celebrates the 99th anniversary of the NHL by penning short stories that help to illuminate the history of tIn 99: Stories of the Game, Wayne Gretzky celebrates the 99th anniversary of the NHL by penning short stories that help to illuminate the history of the league. Intertwining his own career with that of several legendary players like Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Bobby Orr, Gretzky presents a compelling take on the often brutal history of the sport.
I wouldn’t consider myself a hockey aficionado by any means, but having read a handful of books and having watched the excellent CBC series Hockey: A People’s History (which, if you haven’t seen, you need to), I would say that I know a bit more than an average fan. With Gretzky somewhat akin to that of a folk-hero in Canada, the biggest moments of his career and those of the NHL are well known among even the most casual of hockey fans so I thought, what more could he bring to the table? Turns out, I didn’t know quite as much as I thought I did.
Did you know that early on, games were played in two thirty minute halves? This was later changed by the owners to three twenty minute periods so that fans would empty their pockets at the concessions more often. Even infamous Leafs’ owner Harold Ballard would go so far as to shut off the water fountains to force fans to buy more drinks after the first intermission. In keeping with the business side of the sport, Wayne talks about some of the failed expansion franchises (The California Golden Seals was a terrible name) and the NHL’s battle with the World Hockey Association (WHA) in the 1970s. While this isn’t mind-blowing information, it’s little trivia tidbits like this that help to fill out the book between big, historical moments in the game’s history.
As far as recollections of his own career, there’s a lot here for his fans to sink their teeth into. For example, when he had advised the New York Rangers of his intent to retire at the end of the 1998/1999 season, the then Rangers GM Glen Sather passed Wayne a cheque for one million dollars asking that he reconsider his decision for another week and if he still decided to retire, he could keep the million. He declined the cheque. Wayne’s a stronger man than me. He also covers events like his trade to Los Angeles, the controversial high-sticking call from the 1993 playoffs and his chase to surpass Gordie Howe’s 801 career goals.
Gretzky doesn’t limit himself to just his NHL career, he also discusses his own role on the world stage with his three consecutive Canada Cup appearances and the disastrous 1998 Olympics. He also reminisces about Canada’s presence in international hockey with the ‘72 Summit Series with Russia as well as the 2002 team where he served as GM winning Olympic gold.
If I had to list a negative, it would be that there is no mention of the consistently strong Canadian women’s international team throughout the years. Yes, I know this book is grounded in the all-male NHL but with Gretzky’s tangents into amateaur hockey in the Olympics, it wouldn’t have hurt to throw a little praise the way of the women. They won silver in Nagano in 1998 and have dominated every Olympic games since with gold medal wins in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Then again, maybe Wayne isn’t as knowledgeable in that area.
With the exception of the stories about Willie O’Ree breaking the color barrier and the first aboriginal player Fred Sasakamoose’s troubled history with Residential Schools, Wayne keeps the subject matter rather light (that’s not a knock on those stories as I feel they’re absolutely essential). What we end up with is an easy and enjoyable read that didn’t allow itself to get bogged down by massive information dumps, which tends to happen with many large nonfiction books. 99: Stories of the Game is one of the better hockey books I’ve read....more
Live By Night begins in the thick of the roaring 20s. The advent of prohibition has normalized corruption among the police and criminals with an exploLive By Night begins in the thick of the roaring 20s. The advent of prohibition has normalized corruption among the police and criminals with an explosion of illegal distilleries and speakeasies popping up all over the country. Despite the government’s best efforts to keep liquor out of the hands of the population, consumption has more than doubled. The potential to climb the ladder of organized crime has never been more attractive and Joseph Coughlin, son of prominent police officer Thomas Coughlin, sees his opportunity.
A botched bank robbery coupled with a double cross from career criminal Albert White lands Joe in jail where he promptly forms an alliance with Thomaso Pescatore, a powerful mob boss. When Joe finishes up his sentence, Thomaso sends him down south to Tampa to lock Albert out of the rum trade, crippling his presence in Boston. It isn’t long before Joe becomes an institution in South Florida with power that spreads far up the Eastern seaboard. Holding onto that power becomes a constant struggle as Joe clashes with the US army, cuban revolutionaries and the Ku Klux Klan.
The second book in Lehane’s acclaimed Coughlin trilogy, Live By Night more than lives up to its predecessor, despite being two very different books. Where The Given Day is a sprawling epic about the struggle for the average worker’s rights, Live By Night is a tightly focused study on the unstable power structure of the criminal underground. Although it can be argued that the “gangster novel” is a tired genre, it’s Lehane’s ability to craft an edge-of-your-seat thriller as well as a rich cast of characters sets that one apart from others.
In an interview with Craig Ferguson a few years back, Lehane had known that he wanted to pick up where he left off with The Given Day but knew that whiskey was the vice of choice in prohibition-era Boston. To him, that had already been done to death. After some thought, he realized that no one had really looked at the rum trade and with an old city like Tampa at the heart of the action, he felt right at home moving the setting down south. Rather than the deeply ingrained racism between the Italians and the Irish in Boston, Lehane gets to explore the institutionalised racism between the KKK and basically everyone who isn’t a native born American. This leads to some uncomfortable scenes but one specific moment where I audibly cheered at the demise of a despicable character at the hands of Joe.
Dennis Lehane is fast becoming one of my favourite living authors and Live By Night further cements him. I look forward to anything he puts out. I have high hopes for the third book in this series, “World Gone By” and have it on deck to read shortly....more
Sinner Man tells the story of small town insurance-peddler Don Barshter, and how after a few too many drinks, inadvertently murders his wife followingSinner Man tells the story of small town insurance-peddler Don Barshter, and how after a few too many drinks, inadvertently murders his wife following an errant strike. Rather than call the police and turn himself in, Don decides to cram his wife’s body into a closet and flee town. It’s during his aimless travels that Don forms a plan - get to Buffalo and join the mob under a new identity. Now known as Nat Crowley, he quickly begins a career in organized crime and subsequently hooks up with a woman who may be more dangerous than she first lets on.
Nat Crowley, while trying his best to frame himself in a positive light, is a despicable, layered character - as all great noir protagonists are. Barshter suffers from the “smartest man in the room” syndrome where his own arrogance and self-perceived intelligence blinds him. How can you blame him? His ramshackle, cartoonish plan actually unfolds as he envisioned but when ripples begin to show, he ignores them thinking he’s infallible. So while it appears at the beginning he’s done a serviceable job replacing the spineless Don Barshter with the cold, callous Nat Crowley, he realizes too late that like leopards, you can’t change your spots (sorry for the overdone expression) and despite his best efforts, history threatens to repeat itself before all is said and done.
Identified as Block’s first ever crime novel, Sinner Man is ripe with noir excellence. You’ve got all the hallmarks of the genre; tough-talking baddies, femme fatales, a plethora of murders and steamy sex scenes. For fans of Hard Case Crime, this is an easy sell - Sinner Man lives up to their publishing standards revealing itself as a hidden gem from Lawrence Block’s vast catalogue of work....more
Based On A True Story is the autobiography of famed stand-up comedian Norm MacDonald - or so he would have you believe. Rather than tell you his realBased On A True Story is the autobiography of famed stand-up comedian Norm MacDonald - or so he would have you believe. Rather than tell you his real life story, Norm decided to write of his one-time plan to borrow millions of dollars from various casinos in Las Vegas, turn that money into millions for himself, then retire to a ranch in Montana. As the story moves along, Norm, strung out on morphine, tells a completely skewed, often fictionalized version of his life to his pal and real-life podcast co-host Adam Eget as he drives them from LA to Vegas.
While the majority of the memoir is totally off-base, its core is still tied to some of Norm’s real life history. His time on Saturday Night Live is discussed with his arrival at the show depicting Lorne Michaels as an unhinged drug addict whom Norm bribes with government-grade morphine to secure his spot. His obsession with fellow cast member Sarah Silverman was a definite high point of the book - it had me laughing hysterically as he cluelessly pursued her, leading him to plot to assassinate her then-boyfriend Dave Attell. His move to the Update Desk is mentioned where he spent 3 years reading “the fake news” - he even includes a chapter of the Top 25 Update Jokes of All-Time (#1 belongs to Chevy Chase, 2-25 are all Norm’s, of course)!
The filming of Dirty Work is also covered, although there’s a story about a Canadian serial killer whose actions threatened the success of the movie (although if you believe Norm’s word, Dirty Work was massively successful earning $250 million its opening weekend). Like his earlier discussion of meeting Rodney Dangerfield, Norm’s telling of hiring Don Rickles for the film stays within the scope of each of the aforementioned comedian's style. Norm became upset over constant insults from Don Rickles when trying to offer him a role in the movie, just like he couldn’t understand why Rodney Dangerfield couldn’t get any respect. Despite Norm admitting his admiration for the Rickles, his character was completely oblivious to the comedian’s humour. This had me cry-laughing.
There’s so much more that I could get into here, but I don’t want to spoil everything. Based On A True Story was wildly original, completely over-the-top, and I absolutely loved it. There were points where I found myself laughing so hard my sides would hurt and if that isn’t a proper endorsement, I don’t know what is. The idea that Norm would portray himself as a narcissistic, delusional monster was completely unexpected and easily puts this in a category of its own....more
With his new book Canada, comedian/actor Mike Myers sets out to unload as much information about the country he grew up in while also detailing an abrWith his new book Canada, comedian/actor Mike Myers sets out to unload as much information about the country he grew up in while also detailing an abridged version of his life story. The result is an often entertaining yet interesting experiment.
At the outset, Myers is quick to explain that his book is not meant to be a definitive text on the country, but rather his own experiences coming of age in Canada. So don’t expect him to go into detail surrounding Canada’s role in residential schools and the mistreatment of its indigenous population or any other controversial subject; he’ll let other more qualified writers speak on that.
Instead, he speaks at length about the different accents, odd quirks and cultural milestones that form regional identities throughout the land. I found myself laughing out loud when he described the East Coast way of ingressive speaking, something my girlfriend pointed out when she moved to Halifax from Ontario a few years back.It also certainly doesn’t hurt that he is a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan! Myers discusses the importance of hockey as a national pastime woven into the fabric of the country’s popular culture. It brings people together even if most of the time is spent chirping one another over their respective teams.
My biggest criticism involves the final chapters wherein he discussed the 2015 election and the arrival of Justin Trudeau as the country’s apparent saviour. I’m not one to really get into politics and while I can get behind Trudeau being a more socially progressive choice for our country, I feel it’s a little too early to heap the amount of praise on him that Myers did. It seemingly came across as a weird and strange end to a book about the nostalgic views of a transplanted Canadian.
That being said, Canada was an enjoyable read for the most part. It did its job in making me laugh in all the right spots and I learned quite a bit about Myers’ upbringing and some interesting trivia behind a few of his movies/SNL characters....more
After discovering her employer only hired her as a publicity stunt, Jennifer Walters (a.k.a. She-Hulk) leaves to open her own practice. Unfortunately,After discovering her employer only hired her as a publicity stunt, Jennifer Walters (a.k.a. She-Hulk) leaves to open her own practice. Unfortunately, her green skin kind of makes it impossible to hide that she’s a superhero and because of this, she begins racking up enemies quicker than a hiccup.
As with most collections, this volume deals with a few different stories. First up, we have She-Hulk taking a case for the immigration of Kristoff Vernard, the now estranged son of notorious bad guy and nefarious dictator Dr. Doom. Following that, She-Hulk teams up with Hell-Cat in an attempt to track down and discover the contents of a mysterious file that potentially holds damaging information to the Marvel universe.
The first story was the better of the two as it led to some pretty hilarious moments including a showdown with a giant mechanical Doom-Bot. The second was unfortunately saddled with some pretty atrocious artwork from Ron Wimberly that sort of killed the momentum of the book. It’s a real pity because I felt the story itself was decent. I mean, the writer of the series is an actual lawyer! You can’t get any more qualified than that.
Despite being a comic about immigration law, it was pretty fun! Looking forward to book two....more
2016 was a shit year. Because of this, I ending up reading the least amount of books in one year since about 2010. It was all bad though. Quality over2016 was a shit year. Because of this, I ending up reading the least amount of books in one year since about 2010. It was all bad though. Quality over quantity? Yes?
I completely lost my mind over The Expanse series reading the first four books back to back to back to back. Blake Crouch's Dark Matter completely blew my mind. I lost myself in the works of Dennis Lehane and David Simon.
There were a few stinkers. Bob Backlund's biography was wholly disappointing and Steve Hamilton's The Second Life of Nick Mason did next to nothing for me.
Hopefully 2017 can get me back on track. I doubt I'll ever read as many as 97 books in 2013, but I'd like to focus more on crime fiction/mystery novels....more
Bleeding Blue is the story of the career of Wendel Clark.
Drafted first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1986, Clark went on to play in the NHL unBleeding Blue is the story of the career of Wendel Clark.
Drafted first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1986, Clark went on to play in the NHL until 2000 when he was forced to retire due to injuries. While he didn’t win a Stanley Cup, Clark was an absolute force during his tenure terrorizing opponents with crushing hits and clutch goals. He’s widely regarded as one of the most beloved Maple Leafs players in franchise history having three separate stints with the team in the 90s. Bleeding Blue takes you through the many ups and downs over his relatively short career.
While I thought Bleeding Blue was a decent read, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot here for non-Leafs fans. Clark, while loved by the Toronto faithful, didn’t play with flash, didn’t smash records, and didn’t leave a memorable mark on the sport. However, that isn’t to say he was a bad player by any means. He often left everything on the ice and when he wasn’t injured, he was a complete player that coaches and teammates alike could count on.
If you’re a die-hard Leafs fan who jumped on the bandwagon during their memorable 1992-1993 season, then there will be enough here to grab your attention. However, if you’re not, well, it’s likely a skippable read.
This is That is a weekly satirical public affairs program on CBC Radio. With the help of producer Chris Kelly and comedian/podcaster Dave Shumka, hostThis is That is a weekly satirical public affairs program on CBC Radio. With the help of producer Chris Kelly and comedian/podcaster Dave Shumka, hosts Pat Kelly and Chris Oldring ventured into the literary world and produced their first book - This is That: Travel Guide to Canada!
Here’s the thing; being Canadian myself, jokes about “Canadiana” can get old quick. Yes, we all live in igloos, we all drink maple syrup like water, we apologize profusely, we say “aboot”...
...sorry, that was rude, eh.
While this book does play heavily on Canadian stereotypes, the jokes aren’t repetitive and they do not feel recycled. This is a hugely entertaining book that had me laughing out loud. It’s one of those few experiences I’ve had where I feel like something was written specifically with my own personal sense of humour in mind.
You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you pass on this one, ya hoser. With the holidays fast approaching, This is That: Travel Guide to Canada would make the perfect stocking stuffer for Canucks and Yankees alike! I’m sure that given the recent election, a lot of Americans will want to familiarize themselves with their neighbors to the north before packing up to escape the orange menace in the White House....more
Sam Meggs’ Wonder Women takes a look at many women throughout history that have had their accomplishments either long since buried or stolen by a membSam Meggs’ Wonder Women takes a look at many women throughout history that have had their accomplishments either long since buried or stolen by a member of the opposite sex. Twenty-five women are featured - with an additional forty-two in blurbs - in the categories of science, engineering, mathematics, adventuring, and inventions. Each mini-biography is written with equal parts snark and research and while Meggs tries to keep things light through her conversational tone, it’s disheartening to hear just how difficult it was for women to be viewed as equal to men throughout history. I’m not naive in saying that in 2016 we’ve solved that problem, but we’ve certainly come a long way from the days of barring women in America from getting an education. Given the talent, brilliance and perseverance of the women on display here, think how much further ahead our society would be if we just embraced equality.
Wonder Women is a fascinating read for men and women alike; an important look at some of the great women who quietly revolutionized our world....more