Entertainment

The Five Best Contemporary Christmas Movies

Five Best Christmas Movies
Is There A Problem Officers? Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.

If the weather outside is frightful, watching these five contemporary Christmas movies will make you feel delightful. I try to watch all the following Christmas movies at least once during the holiday season. There are of course the classic movies like A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) and It’s a Wonderful Life. I like these films, but I tend to enjoy contemporary Christmas flicks more, maybe because I haven’t seen them quite as often.

5. Trading Places (1983)

Wealthy brothers Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer (Don Ameche) Duke make a one-dollar bet, on whether genetics or environment influences a person’s behavior.  The pair orchestrate an elaborate plan to send cultured snob Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Ackroyd) into abject poverty and poor street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) straight into Winthorp’s lavish lifestyle.

five best Christmas movies
Happy New Year! Ackroyd and Murphy.

When Billy Ray finds out what the Dukes have been up to, he and Louis team up with prostitute Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Butler Coleman (Denholm Elliot) to turn the tables on the wealthy brothers.

I’ve been watching Trading Places every Christmas since I was a teenager. It’s hilarious and features some stand-out performances, specifically from Denholm Elliot. And watch for a very young Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), in a jail cell scene with Eddie Murphy.

4.The Family Stone (2005)

Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) brings his uptight girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker), home for the holidays to meet his unconventional family. A prude, Meredith feels like Everett’s whole family hates her.  So she calls her sister Julie (Claire Danes), asking her to come to Connecticut so she’ll have an ally.

Five favourite Christmas Movies
Odd Woman Out: The Family Stone

The Family Stone also stars Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson as Everett’s parents Sybil and Kelly, Luke Wilson as his brother Ben and Rachel McAdams as his sister Amy. My favorite line in this movie is when Meredith, upset with  Everett’s family, is out at a local bar with Ben. He tells Meredith she just needs to be herself. “You have a freak flag. You just don’t fly it.”  Continue reading “The Five Best Contemporary Christmas Movies”

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Secrets And Lies

Secrets and Lies
Long-Lost Love: Will the Inspector rekindle his romance with a former flame? CBC

Secrets and Lies begins with Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) in unfamiliar surroundings, searching for a missing person. Within minutes, he’s jumped by several men and knocked flat on his back. When he finally gets back on his feet, he makes his way up a staircase to a one room apartment, and is greeted by a black woman with whom he’s obviously well acquainted. He tells her he still hasn’t found “our daughter”. Then the audience loses its collective mind.  Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Secrets And Lies”

Health, Recipes

Vinaigrette Caesar Salad Recipe

Vinaigrette Caesar Salad RecipeCaesar salad is a tasty way to get your daily fiber and servings of vegetables, but unfortunately, the dressing can be chock full of calories. I’ve never been a big fan of creamy Caesar dressings anyway. Some of those dressings contain mayonnaise and mayonnaise is just wrong, on so many levels. That’s why I prefer a good vinaigrette Caesar salad.

The best Caesar salad I’ve ever tasted was at a little restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The waiter made the salad in front of me. First, he grilled two large pieces of romaine lettuce, then he added vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and shaved Parmesan cheese. It was light, crispy and delicious and like no other Caesar salad I’d ever tasted before. I raved about it for weeks. A year later, I was back in Puerto Vallarta. I looked for the restaurant but couldn’t find it. I began to wonder if that tasty salad had just been a dream! And I was kicking myself that I hadn’t written the name of the restaurant down.

The recipe below isn’t exactly the same recipe as the restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, as I’m too lazy to grill the romaine. I have tried to come as close to the taste as I could though. And trust me, once you’ve made this vinaigrette Caesar salad from scratch, you’ll never want to go back to your store-bought salad dressing.

Vinaigrette Caesar Salad

A low-calorie, delicious Caesar Salad that's easy to prepare and much healthier than its creamy mayonnaise-laden counterpart.

Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Lettuce in water 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 150 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup Unico white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Trestella light Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp President's Choice Lightly Buttered Sourdough Croutons
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Whisk together white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese in a large salad bowl. Set aside.

  2. Chop up romaine lettuce, place in salad spinner, pour cold water inside and let it soak.

  3. Pour out water, spin the lettuce to dry it. 

  4. Add medium amount of lettuce to the salad bowl, that already contains the dressing, then toss. Keep adding lettuce until it's lightly coated.

  5. Add croutons and grind some fresh black pepper then toss again.

  6. Lightly sprinkle shredded Parmesan over the top and serve.

Recipe Notes

If you’re looking for a vegan Worcestershire Sauce option, there are many out there to choose from, including Annie’s Naturals Organic Worcestershire Sauce and the less pricey Compliments brand (sold at stores like Sobeys, IGA and FreshCo).

Also, if you're not a fan of raw garlic, roasted garlic also works well in this salad.

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Drowning In Money

Drowning In Money
On The Case: Brackenreid, Murdoch and Watts try to determine the cause of the Westerbrook’s deaths.

When a wealthy Toronto couple are found dead in their swimming pool, a suicide note is found in their home. But Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) believes it could be murder, in this week’s Murdoch Mysteries episode, Drowning In Money.

Murdoch discovers a burglary had taken place on the same night of the “suicide” of Franklin and Louise Westerbrook, although it could just be an “unlucky coincidence. Extremely unlucky if you ask me,” Murdoch tells Detective Watts (Daniel Maslany).

During a discussion about the deaths at Station House No. 4, Henry Higgins-Newsome (Lachlan Murdoch) enlightens his fellow officers on what he knows about the Westerbrook couple. As it turns out, the couple’s daughter Diana had just married a duke’s son, Albert, The Earl of Lincoln. And according to Higgins, this made the Westerbrooks think they were royalty.  Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Drowning In Money”

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Brother’s Keeper

Brother's Keeper
Exceptional Performance: Daniel Maslany shines in this episode, which focuses on Watts’ backstory. CBC.

Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Crabtree (Jonny Harris) are investigating a call of a body near the Hogshead Tavern.  They find the dead body in an alleyway and follow the trail of blood to Detective Watts, who is sitting on a fire escape, nursing a wound on his arm. So begins Murdoch Mysteries season 12, episode 7 – Brother’s Keeper.

Back at Station House No. 4, Watts (Daniel Maslany) says he came upon the man in the alleyway unexpectedly.  He tells Murdoch and Brackenreid the man was drunk, took a shot at him and when they struggled for the gun, he shot and killed him.  A distraught Watts admits it was the first time he’d ever killed someone. Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Brother’s Keeper”

Walking Dead

The Walking Dead – Rick Grimes’ Cheap Conclusion

Rick Grimes
A Fitting Farewell?: AMC touted last night’s episode as Rick Grimes final.

I wanted to write an ode to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) this week. AMC has been promoting the whole “Rick Grimes final episodes” on The Walking Dead for months now. As it turned out, it was just another clever marketing ploy to trick viewers into watching the first couple of season 9 episodes.

Well, they got me. I thought they were going to kill off Rick, but the mysterious helicopter we’ve been seeing for a while now (part of Jadis’ human trafficking network) swooped in, scooped up Rick and saved his life in the nick of time.

Once again, showrunner Scott M. Gimple and AMC pulled a second-rate ratings scam (anyone remember the whole Glenn under the dumpster debacle?) and viewers should be pissed. But likely they’re not, because their hero Rick Grimes is still alive.

The episode itself, entitled What Comes After, leading up to this cheap conclusion, wasn’t all bad. When last week’s episode ended, Rick’s horse had thrown him onto a rebar. The dead were approaching and it looked like he was a goner. Continue reading “The Walking Dead – Rick Grimes’ Cheap Conclusion”

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Sir. Sir? Sir!!

Sir. Sir? Sir!!
Soylent Green, Anyone?: Murdoch and Brackenreid find a strange, alien object in an alleyway.

Last night’s Murdoch Mysteries episode, Sir. Sir? Sir!! could have been entitled Invasion of the Murdoch Body Snatchers. In an offbeat but comical Halloween episode, Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Crabtree (Jonny Harris) investigate a strange astrophysical occurrence that has a peculiar influence on some of their fellow officers’ personalities.

The episode begins with Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) looking up and seeing a meteor falling from the sky. He walks down an alleyway and comes across what looks like a lumpy green piece of an asteroid. He taps on it with his nightstick and a gaseous substance comes out of it, which sprays into his face.

The next day, Higgins returns to Station House No. 4. He is smiling like a lunatic, holding a plant and acting like a Stepford Wife. He begins to eat the leaves of said plant.  Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Sir. Sir? Sir!!”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – The Spy Who Loved Murdoch

The Spy Who Loved Murdoch
A Role He Was Born To Play?: Murdoch impersonates French diplomat Gaétan Vidal. CBC.

Government agent Terrance Myers (Peter Keleghan) returns to Murdoch Mysteries and enlists the detective to help solve the case of a murdered French diplomat. In order to investigate, Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) must go undercover in The Spy Who Loved Murdoch.

Meyers explains to Murdoch that diplomats from Britain, Russia and France have been dispatched to Canada to sign a treaty between the three countries. The death of the French diplomat, Gaétan Vidal, could have dire consequences.

In typical over-dramatic style, Meyers delivers a most chilling line: “If we don’t find out who killed this man, the result will be the greatest war this world has ever known.” Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – The Spy Who Loved Murdoch”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Murdoch Without Borders

Murdoch without borders
Benevolent Blunder: Brackenreid lets Athos leave Station House No. 4. CBC.

Murdoch Without Borders highlights prevalent racist attitudes towards immigrants in the early 20th Century while Murdoch, Brackenreid and Dr. Ogden deal with the pending Immigration Act of 1906.  Murdoch Mysteries season 12, episode 4 shows viewers that unfortunately not much has changed in 100 years.

The episode begins with immigration officer James McBride set on rounding up Greek immigrants for deportation. Station House No. 4 jail cells are full to capacity. Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) thinks it’s strange that all the prisoners are the same nationality.

The immigration officer tells Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson and Crabtree  that the detainees are all criminals. Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) notices his carpenter Athos is among them. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he tells Brackenreid, who believes him and lets him leave. Soon after, Murdoch and Crabtree find Mr. McBride’s body rolled up in a carpet in a back alley. Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Murdoch Without Borders”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – My Big Fat Mimico Wedding

Henry Higgins-Newsome?: Does Henry’s marriage go off without a hitch? All bets are off. CBC

Blushing groom Henry Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) is surrounded by Murdoch, Brackenreid and Crabtree at the Newsome residence, to witness his Big Fat Mimico Wedding as Murdoch Mysteries, season 12, episode 3 begins.

Higgins tells the boys he’s decided to hyphenate his last name, to Henry Higgins-Newsome. But he’s quite concerned that because he’s quit his job as a constable, he’s left Station House No. 4 in the lurch.

“Somehow we’ll muddle through without you,” Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) says, rolling his eyes.

Suddenly a shot rings out and Higgins falls back onto a bed. Is he dead? Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – My Big Fat Mimico Wedding”