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Chad Rubel
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Pizza is considered a cheap food … in the United States. Pizza in Canada may be relatively cheap but expensive compared to the United States. Over the many years we have tracked Canadian ads through MLB Extra Innings or NHL Center Ice, we have noticed the shockingly high prices of pizza in Canada. The pizzas in the ads didn't look that great and the prices were through the roof. You would see side deals involving soft drink bottles and movie tickets to make the pizza seem not as expensive. The usual explanation for why pizza in Canada is more expensive is the cost of high-quality Canadian cheese. This explains stories every few years about pizza cheese shenanigans in Canada. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Canadian Crossing
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There was a time in the far past where I participated in the Lenten sacrifice ritual. You can do positive works during Lent; sacrifice is an option. At the time, sacrifice was presented as virtually the only option. The concept is that you give up something Monday-Saturday but can indulge on Sundays during the time on the calendar between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. My mother, addicted to soft drinks, encouraged us to give up soft drinks. Lent also required to abstain from meat on Fridays. The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted more than a year, much longer than the 6-7 weeks of Lent. One of the culinary casualties was fried foods. I have only had 4 servings of French fries during the pandemic. This is more a matter of practicality. Indoor dining is tough and French fries don't travel well. Most Americans gladly eat in their cars; alas there is no car for your humble narrator. My food pandemic dream is fried clam strips. I grew up with great fried clam strips from Bill Knapp's (regional) and Howard Johnson's (national). I seem to recall buying frozen clam strips but could not find them during the pandemic. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Balance of Food
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Kayak to Klemtu is a simple story with a larger message. Ella (Ta'kaiya Blaney) is 14 with a mission. Her late Uncle Bear (Dave) wanted her to testify against having oil tanker traffic run through the Inside Passage amidst the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast of British Columbia. To truly get the sense of the area in question and to spread the ashes of her late uncle, Ella wants to kayak up to Klemtu, where the hearing is and also a place that has family ties. The trip starts out with Ella, Cory, Dave's widow (Sonja Bennett) and her son Alex (Jared Ager-Foster). Ella's other uncle Don (Lorne Cardinal) refuses to go at the start. When the trip gets stuck early, he decides to come along on the journey. In a story about Indigenous tradition and story, the opening dynamic of 2 white people and a Indigenous person was really awkward. Cory, who didn't want to cry over her husband's death, proves useless after a single day of rowing. Don ends up rowing his sister-in-law in what is known as a "divorce boat." Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Canadian Crossing
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The Last Blockbuster is a documentary on Netflix where we are supposed to be nostalgic. The doc focuses on the last Blockbuster location in Bend, Oregon. The documentary talks about the decline of Blockbuster: was it Netflix or incompetent management decisions. Fortunately, the documentary spends very little time on the topic. The wave is nostalgia but is that nostalgia about Blockbuster Video? The nostalgia of the film is about Blockbuster as well as video stores and the small city of Bend. The film paints a world (mostly) where people went to rent videos but could only do so at Blockbuster Video. This was sadly true for a lot of people living in small towns. Your nostalgia being different than other people's nostalgia doesn't make your memories better or invalidate someone else's memories. Nostalgia aside, we do want to remind people of the limits of that Blockbuster legacy. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Canadian Crossing
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We have said Canada has had a better experience with COVID-19 as compared to the United States. Better federal government action on the virus and financial help for its citizens. A slower pace of cases and deaths than the southern neighbours. Canada, west of the Atlantic provinces and south of the territories, is going through a rough patch in what is the third wave in the country. The Brazilian variant has been particularly troublesome for the population. The numbers are tracking toward younger people getting sick. Over the Easter weekend, Canada went over the 1 million mark in COVID-19 cases. The focus in Canada has been more on the vaccine numbers as in "why are Americans getting more vaccine." The Toronto Star reported as of Friday, "101.8 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, 31 per cent of the adult population. In Canada, the number is five million first doses, or just shy of 14 per cent of the adult population." In the spirit of disclosure, your humble narrator has had the first dose, something that may not have happened in Canada. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Canadian Crossing
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Picture Claire is a Canadian film trapped in the body of an American film. Bruce McDonald directed a Semi Chellas screenplay and there are problems. Claire (Juliette Lewis) is French-Canadian from Montréal. Claire runs into trouble and seeks out her old boyfriend in Toronto. Lily (Gina Gershon) has her own problems with shady people in Toronto. Both end up at a donut shop in Kensington Market in Toronto at the same time. The police are chasing after Claire for what Lily did. The idea is that the actors look similar so there is mistaken identity. Claire's old boyfriend Billy (Kelly Harms) happens to live on the 3rd floor at 54 Kensington Avenue; Lily lives on the second floor in the same building. Purses and film canisters are switched, adding to the mystery. People keep running into each other throughout the film. Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The Toronto Blue Jays are still tied to Toronto even if the team hasn't played a regular season game there since September 29, 2019 with a 8-3 win over Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays played 43% of its games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. 2021 will be an improvement if that number is at 50%. TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida will host the Blue Jays April 8-14 against the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees; April 27-May 2 versus Washington and Atlanta; and May 14-24 with Philadelphia, Boston, and Tampa Bay. TD Ballpark is under an hour drive from the Toronto Raptors playing home games in Amalie Arena in Tampa. Buffalo could be in the future. Everyone involved wants Toronto to be the future. Where the Blue Jays will play will have some drama in 2021 though nowhere near the 2020 drama. Who will play for the 2021 Toronto Blue Jays is more fun to think about. George Springer (CF) and Marcus Semien (2B) are the major acquisitions of the off-season. Springer signed a 6-year, $150 million deal while Semien is under contract for 2021 at $18 million. Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
NBCSN has 2 games in April both on April 7. The U.S. channel showed one other doubleheader involving Canadian teams. This will set a record never to be broken again by NBCSN: most Canadian teams in a calendar day. The U.S. channel will carry the second half of the Battle of Alberta on April 29 in Edmonton starting approximately at 10:30 pm. The game starts at 9 pm Eastern. The press release specifically says the game will be joined in progress. The NHL Network might carry the game from the start. NBC Sports might stream the feed. This reminded us all too well of the NBCSN squeeze on a Toronto-Edmonton game on November 29, 2016 with the TSN4 feed that covered 23:37 of the game. We've never seen them treat U.S. teams this way. The NHL Network is treating this season like normal in that late in the year, the Canadian teams get a lot fewer games. A reminder that if a U.S. team is in your market on a Saturday night, the backup game could be from Hockey Night in Canada. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television have released the nominations for the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards. This year's version won't have the huge crowds of past ceremonies but should be more lively than the 2020 version. The 3 Canadian TV shows with the most nominations are also having their finale on the stage that is the Canadian Screen Awards. Schitt's Creek goes out with 21 nominations. Cardinal (CTV) and Trickster (CBC) each have 15 nominations. On the film side, Blood Quantum has the most nominations with 10. Unfortunately, best picture is not one of them. Funny Boy came in with 9 nominations, including Best Motion Picture. Charles Officer's Akilla's Escape had 8 nominations. Beans and Violation had 5 nominations. Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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What a difference with a pandemic and without a Windsor International Film Festival. Sometimes, we are a bit separated from Canadian films that get nominated for the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards. That distance is even larger this year. Despite that, your humble narrator has seen Blood Quantum, the Canadian film with the most nominations with 10. Unfortunately, best picture is not one of them. Funny Boy came in with 9 nominations, including Best Motion Picture. Charles Officer's Akilla's Escape had 8 nominations. Beans and Violation had 5 nominations. The Canadian Screen Awards have 2 women in the Best Director category with Deepa Mehta Funny Boy and Sophie Dupuis Underground | Souterrain. Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Schitt's Creek — in its final Canadian Screen Awards — goes out with 21 nominations in the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards. A couple of Canadian shows also in its last awards season each have 15 nominations: Cardinal (CTV) and Trickster (CBC). We didn't make this mistake: there are only 4 nominees in the Best Lead Actor, Comedy. It can only be an honour to be nominated if you are nominated. Jason Priestley (Private Eyes) was nominated in that category last year along with the current nominees. Every TV show, comedy and drama, with a show or acting nominations is available in some form in the United States. Coroner, Burden of Truth, Transplant, Trickster, and Diggstown (soon on Fox) have over-the-air TV deals. Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The Toronto Six had some amazing momentum as the timeline toward the 2021 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) playoffs progressed. The team came out of nowhere to finish 4-1-1 to rise to the top playoff seed. The time in Lake Placid, NY came to an end before the playoffs started. When we awoke from the very long sleep, the NWHL was in Brighton, outside of Boston. The Toronto Six playoff opponent went from being the Buffalo Beauts to the Boston Pride, essentially a home series for the Pride. The Toronto Six also had to contend with going back to Canada and then returning to the United States. The 6-2 loss sounds bad. Breanne Wilson-Bennett scored the first goal, cutting the Boston deficit to 2-1. Mikyla Grant-Mentis added a 3rd period goal. Elaine Chuli stopped 19-of-25 shots. Samantha Ridgewell came in to finish the game in goal in the 3rd period. Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Andrew Furey and the Liberals now have a slim majority government winning 22 of the 40 seats up for grabs in the long-running 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election. The Liberals had 19 seats when the assembly dissolved; 21 seats is the minimum for a majority and one of those seats will go to the assembly speaker. The leaders of the other major parties lost their seats to the Liberals: Ches Crosbie (Progressive Conservatives) in Windsor Lake and Alison Coffin (New Democratic Party) in St. John's East — Quidi Vidi. The PCs fell from 15 seats to 13 seats. The NDP retains seats in Labrador West and St. John's Centre. There are now 3 independent MHAs in the assembly. Despite the individual losses, most ridings were status quo. All the cabinet members who ran won re-election. Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The Toronto Raptors have had fans at "home" games in Tampa, FL. The Toronto Blue Jays have had fans at their Grapefruit League games in Dunedin, FL. Toronto FC (Orlando) and CF Montréal (Miami) will likely have fans at the start of the 2021 MLS season. Vancouver Whitecaps FC will establish a base at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah outside Salt Lake City, uncertain of whether fans can attend. Arizona, Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay in the NHL have been aggressive early and often in the 2021 season. They have the highest capacity of fans and they were in the stands from the start. A majority of NHL teams are allowing fans in the stands. A few teams have added fans in March. The general consensus is 10%-15% capacity with Detroit at 4%, St. Louis at 7.5%, and Dallas at 30%. The number of NHL teams that haven't allowed fans is dwindling. Minnesota allows 250 people, including staff and families. Colorado doesn't allow fans right now but the plan is 22% capacity starting April 2. Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The soap opera that is the 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador election has reached the mail-in deadline for the ballots. Voters have until 4 pm Newfoundland time (2:30 pm Eastern time) today for their ballots to be received. As you might recall in our last installment, Bruce Chaulk, chief electoral officer of Elections NL, switched all voting to the mail after the discovery of the B117 variant in the province. The COVID-19 issues had been mostly limited to the Avalon Peninsula (southeastern Newfoundland, think St. John's and surrounding area). The plan had been for those outside this area to vote on February 13, the original election date. There have been a number of problems with the mail-only option. Newfoundland and Labrador only has voting materials in English. This significantly affects French speakers as well as Indigenous languages — Inuktitut, Innu-aimun, and Mi’kmaw — especially in Labrador. Mail-only voting also affects populations such as homeless voters and people with disabilities. Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The o-word in a film title makes some a little nervous. Telling people the film is a comedy might make them feel better. How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town is a funny Canadian film that happens to be about sex. Cassie Cranston (Jewel Staite) grew up in Beaver's Ridge, a short train ride from Toronto. Cassie is branded as a "slut" for her interest in Adam in high school. She develops a reputation. When Cassie becomes a sex columnist, she writes a disparaging column about her old hometown. The adult version of Cassie comes back to Beaver's Ridge years later because her mother died. Cassie and her mother had a rocky relationship; her mother is beloved in town for her heartwarming series of novels about Victoria (imagine an Ontario version of Anne of Green Gables). Adam (Ennis Esmer) is now married to Heather (Lauren Lee Smith), the girl who branded Cassie as a "slut." Heather is trying to get pregnant and Adam is having trouble making that happen. Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Canada is a rather large country with shockingly few independent news outlets. Huff Post Canada and Huff Post Quebec may have had their flaws but they served a needed purpose in the Canadian journalism scene. BuzzFeed recently acquired both Web sites. The closure came 2 weeks after the staff had filed for union certification with CWA-Canada. We've seen lots of journalism layoffs to Web sites that still exist. To completely close up shop is a radical move. BuzzFeed did say the decision to close HuffPost's Canadian operations were taken before that filing was made. You can still find past stories from HuffPost Canada and Huff Post Quebec but you need to know the topic and/or URL. You can't find them from the actual site. Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The longest unprotected border — Canada and the United States — has been closed for a year and a day. Day 21 of the month has been a trigger that the border would be closed for another month. Things are so bad that TFN (til further notice) is now the operating acronym. We have written about Hyder, Alaska and Stewart, British Columbia. We know the Detroit-Windsor story. There are hundreds of similar arrangements along the Canada-U.S. border, a border that has now been shut down for a year and a day. A Whitehorse, Yukon woman had to self-isolate at home for 14 days after accidentally crossing into Alaska to pick blueberries. The Current on CBC Radio One recently looked into the border impact with Stanstead, Quebec on the border with Derby Line, Vermont. Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Q is the arts and entertainment interview show on CBC Radio One. Tom Power is the host. He's from Newfoundland and Labrador; doesn't take long for him to point that out on the show. We love Q and Tom Power as the host. There is a lot of promotion on the show for Canadian authors, musicians, and even TV shows. Canadian film doesn't get featured too often, even on the public broadcaster. We sarcastically tweet the few times Eli Glasner actually reviews a Canadian film. We love Glasner but like most film reviews, the obsession is on American product. Recently, Tom Power had on Gabriel Byrne and Sigourney Weaver (separate interviews) talking about their latest films. Turns out those films are secretly Canadian, so secret in fact that only one of them got mentioned with a direct Canadian connection. That was because of an answer Weaver gave late in her interview. Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Baseball legend Branch Rickey reportedly said, "Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late." That works well in baseball but would never apply to television in a pandemic. The CBC got creative with its fall TV lineup since TV shows hadn't been able to shoot new episodes. Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake Mysteries, and Heartland were shows that were postponed to the winter lineup. Given the uncertainty, hanging on to a show for a bit longer is smart advice. CBC will have a few holes to fill for the 2021-2022 TV schedule, even if the pandemic subsides in impact. Baroness von Sketch Show has completed its run. Trickster was supposed to be on the schedule but the whole Michelle Latimer situation nixed that. Kim's Convenience was done in by the loss of the creators. Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Listen to your vegetables and eat your parents didn't survive as the title of the Barack Obama and Michelle Obama executive produced Netflix show. You hear the line a couple of times in the initial episode of Waffles and Mochi, including the theme song. Waffles, part waffle and part Yeti, and Mochi (the tiny pink ball) live in the far north. They want to become chefs but hard to do when all you have to eat is ice. They end up at this grocery store in a large city that has an upstairs garden. Mrs. Obama runs the garden and the store. The 10-episode series on Netflix allows children to learn about different foods through the magic of Waffles and Mochi. In the opening episode on tomatoes, they learn that tomatoes are fruits but are treated like a vegetable. They travel in the MagiCart, a shopping cart that transports them around the world. The tomato episode features Samin Nosrat (Salt Fat Acid Heat) helping them make pasta with tomato candy and Chef Jose Andres making gazpacho. They also learn about Neapolitan pizza and sign langauge at Mozzeria, a Washington, DC restaurant where all the workers are deaf. The episodes cover different foods per episode: tomato, salt, potato, pickles, rice, egg, herbs and spices, corn, mushroom, and water. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2021 at Balance of Food
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Everything's Gone Green could be described as a slacker film and a love story. A film about meaning, money, happiness, marijuana, greed, and the co-star, Vancouver. Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) is our slacker. Loses his job and girlfriend (Katherine Isabelle) on the same day. His parents think they won the lottery but they didn't. Ryan ends up working for the lottery. They encourage him to take Mandarin classes "the language of the future" (this was 2006). Ryan meets Ming (Steph Song) on the beach alongside a beached whale. Ming has a douchy boyfriend Bryce (JR Bourne). Ryan is interested in Ming yet goes to work for Bryce. Imperfect characters willing to admit they are imperfect. The beauty of Everything's Gone Green is its kindness to the characters, showing their good and not-so-good traits. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The footprint of Canada in the 93rd Academy Awards is rather light. Canadian filmmaker Ben Proudfoot has an Academy Awards nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject for A Concerto Is a Conversation. The film is up against Colette; Do Not Split; Hunger Ward; and A Love Song for Latasha. Vanessa Kirby was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Pieces of a Woman. The film is a Canada co-production. Molly Parker, one of our favourite Canadian actors, is in the film. Eli Goree, who portrayed Cassius Clay in One Night in Miami, did not receive an Oscars nomination. Goree's co-star Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke) was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Original Song for Speak Now. Telefilm Canada's strategy to place Funny Boy as the Best International Feature Film nominee seemed to be a push for the film in other categories. The Best Adapted Screenplay category was the best option, despite the number of issues within the script. Funny Boy received no Oscar nominations. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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The Yukon, Canada's furthest west territory, now has its own time zone: Yukon Standard Time. As we noted last fall, the Yukon territory moved to what was Pacific Daylight Time year round. That time is now identified as Yukon Standard Time, aka UTC−7. The people of Dawson City and elsewhere in the territory didn't change the time on their clocks over the weekend, like most of North America. Until early November, Yukon and most of British Columbia are on the same time and an hour behind most of Alaska. Yukon Standard Time is the same time as Mountain Standard Time. Yukon is now an hour behind most of Alberta since that province recognises daylight saving time. Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2021 at Canadian Crossing
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Gary Bettman said the new U.S. NHL contract would likely be more than a single partner. The good news for U.S. based NHL fans is that ESPN will be one of these partners. ESPN has the A package in the new contract: 4 of the 7 Stanley Cup finals and the choice for which conference final to carry. The package includes 25 regular season games on ESPN and ABC and 75 exclusive games carried on ESPN+ and Hulu (both owned by Disney). The key for U.S. fans is in the new structure where all available NHL games will air on ESPN+. So watching the Toronto Maple Leafs or Winnipeg Jets means subscribing to ESPN+. If the CFL starts playing again, the $59.99 yearly fee will seem reasonable. This is only half the package. NBC and possibly Fox are bidding for the other half. NHL Network will still carry games. Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2021 at Canadian Crossing