Thursday, April 2, 2015

B = Bistros and Baguettes, French Faves, A to Z Blog Challenge

To live, one must eat, and what better place than Paris? In a bistro, with a baguette on the side. . .?

Bistro Marguerite, near the Hotel de Ville, Paris, by DG Hudson

B = Bistros

In Paris and other cities, a Bistro is a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve: French home-style cooking, and slow-cooked foods with lots of flavour.

Bistro Marguerite

Situated on the Right Bank across from the Hotel de Ville, Bistro Marguerite hugs the corner. With a view of the Seine River this bistro is great for people-watching and tasting some of the best French dishes we had ever had. The waiters are friendly and helpful, bringing us back multiple times. Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans --the bistro logo is a bull, after all. Good eating is celebrated here.

Examples: Baked cod dish, French style, with caramelized onions, and potatoes, also grilled salmon, fat juicy sausage, even steak and frites. Also French onion soup, fresh local veggies and more.

A little flash fiction mentioning this bistro


Le Voltaire Restaurante - Left Bank, by DG Hudson

Le Voltaire

A real old world atmosphere. Voltaire used to hang around here. That's per the plaque on the building in the photo above. We were there for lunch so meal cost about 50 Euros. Use what French you know for better service, it helps as they get lots of tourists in this area. We had great food. Suggested by the Madame Hostess:  German beer, Quiche and salad, and raisin pie. 

Here are two short fiction pieces using this restaurant as a setting:

Flash Fiction and

Resistance is Futile


B = Baguette

A baguette is "a long thin loaf" of French Bread that is commonly made from basic lean dough, which is defined by French law. It is distinguishable by its length and crisp crust.

French Baguette - Crusty with a light interior, Creative Commons*

The word 'baguette' was not used to refer to this type of bread until 1920, but what is now known as a baguette may have existed well before that. The word in its simple form means 'wand' or 'baton'. The traditional loaf is made from wheat flour, water, yeast and common salt. We bought one each day that we spent in Paris, in the Marais, from a boulangerie nearby. That crusty bread is habit-forming. . .

Do you like baguettes, the French crusty type? How about bistros? Do you like the smell of warm bread?

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, and if you are part of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be sure to check your blog, and reciprocate. If you're not in the challenge, thanks for stopping by to visit! I try to reply to all comments.


The A to Z Blog Challenge is brainchild of Lee, at Tossing It Out.  Please visit the A to Z blog site to find out more information and the participant list.  There are also Twitter and Facebook presences if you want to check those!

References: Short fiction: Taking Chances The Cafe Pages Wiki A Tour of Paris via the 5 Senses.

* Creative Commons Image Credit: French Baguette
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A = Arc de Triomphe - French Faves, A to Z Blog Challenge 2015

To feel its immensity, you must stand beneath it.

The Arc de Triomphe, Paris, by DG Hudson

A = Arc de Triomphe de L'Étoile
Arch of Triumph of the Star

The Arc is at the center of a dodecagonal configuration of twelve radiating avenues on the Right Bank of the Seine River.  It is a military monument honouring all the French victories and those generals who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. At the foot of the monument beneath the arch, lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI.

The viewing level at top is a great viewpoint for aerial photography, as seen in the image below. The height allows you to see the layout of the streets while still retaining enough detail of the buildings.

View from the Arc de Triomphe, by DG Hudson

During special celebrations, the French flag flutters beneath the arch. . .

French Flag in the Arc de Triomphe, by Green Eye (prop DGH)

The Arc de Triomphe is the linchpin of the Axe Historique, a sequence of monuments and thoroughfares which form a line from the Louvre courtyard to the Grande Arche de la Défense. Of the four sculpted groups in the supporting legs of the Arc de Triomphe, the following is my favorite:

The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, aka La Marseillaise, sculpted by François Rude. 

"The Departure of the volunteers of 1792" (a.k.a. La Marseillaise), sculpture by François Rude, WC*

Were you aware of any of these facts about the Arc de Triomphe? Did you know the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI was beneath the monument?

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, and if you are part of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be sure to check your blog, and reciprocate. If you're not in the challenge, thanks for stopping by to visit! I try to reply to all comments.


The A to Z Blog Challenge is brainchild of Lee, at Tossing It Out.  Please visit the A to Z blog site to find out more information and the participant list.  There are also Twitter and Facebook presences if you want to check those!


References: A to Z Signup list Wiki

*Image Credit: La Marseillaise

This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication  The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Vancouver's East End - Diversity and Inspiration

A building wall is just a wall, except when it's ART. . .

Murals of Vancouver, Street Art photo by DG Hudson

When I first moved to Vancouver, I lived in the residential East End of town, near Commercial. At the time, numerous Italian delis and many families of European descent populated the area.  You could smell the fermenting grapes as you walked down the alleyways. It's now considered one of the more culturally diverse areas of the city and a transfer point for Skytrain routes. 

Trout Lake, John Hendry Park, Vanc'r, by Iota 9 at English Wikipedia

Old Italian men used to monopolize the park benches while discussing politics and watching the young girls as they walked by. Trout lake, in nearby John Hendry Park, was a peaceful place, meant more for fishing derbies than actual swimming. I spent many an afternoon there, sketching the elegant birch trees by the edge.

City Murals, Vancouver's East Side, by DG Hudson

East Vancouver goes by several names: East Van, East Side, or the East End. This area is not the same as the 'Downtown Eastside', which is a different area with its own history, not covered in this post. East Van is the sum of its diverse parts defined by family income, ethnicity, life styles and language. There is a vibrant art community, a burgeoning microbrewery enclave, and many vocal gender identity groups in this area.

Interesting artistic events which take place in East Van: the Eastside Culture Crawl, East of Main-community poetry, The Drift - an annual art presentation event centred around Main Street, and the well-known Vancouver East Cultural Centre, a venerable old theatre where I've seen a few special events.


Italian immigrants created the first "Little Italy" in the Main Street area by 1910 and the Commercial Drive area in the 1950s.  In this latter area, Italian businesses and residents are still plentiful.  An Italian Cultural Centre was built on the Grandview Highway in the 1970s.  In later decades, I attended work luncheons at Dario's, a upscale restaurant in the Centre, and attended a reading by the poet Allan Ginsberg in the main hall. Ginsberg was a compatriot of Jack Kerouac.

Further back in the history of this area, there were aboriginal peoples living here around 500 BC. The first European settlement in 1865 was in an area now known as Strathcona. John Hendry Park, which contained the Trout Lake mentioned above, was created in 1926 to prevent it becoming a municipal dump. This happened because of the generosity of a benefactor, Mrs. Aldene Hamber, who donated the property to the city.

Other Facts:

1971 - Chinatown and East Vancouver were protected from proposed massive freeway projects by regulations and public outcry.

1986 - Vancouver hosted a World's Fair - Expo 86, using the old rail yard property at False Creek. Following this event and after the removal of the train yards, the area began to experience a renewal as residential densification began.  Old warehouses were either renovated or replaced with newer buildings.

Commercial Drive, also called The Drive, continues to rank high with the city residents in general, claiming many 'best' titles. A walk down the street reveals many outdoor cafés and eateries, as well as antique stores. This is a walkable community with many skaters/boarders and bicyclists as well.
Vancouver Bistro, WC image

Have you an area similar to this in your town or city? What is it called?  Do you have a community that has undergone 'gentrification' to revive a dilapidated area? Is your town walkable?

 Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by. I'm wearing several 'hats' at the moment, so I may seem invisible. I'm not, but I am scarce while working on some posts for the venerable A to Z Blog Challenge.


Image of Trout Lake

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Attribution: Iota 9 at English Wikipedia

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Herzog and Foncie - Documenting Vancouver in Photos

Every city needs someone to tell its story. . .
In Vancouver, we have been privileged to have two such photographers who told the story of our city as it appeared in earlier decades.  This is a city that seemed more like a town, with an interesting mix of cultures. From Little Italy, The Drive, Chinatown and more, our city is populated with immigrants and locals who blend together in the downtown byways.

Following is the front cover of a book of 'city' photographs by Fred Herzog. It's in our library and is rich with scenes which are now gone forever. The streets have changed, and so have the people.
Fred Herzog

Fred Herzog's book of Vancouver Photographs

Herzog wanted to show the real city life, not the shiny and the glittery, but instead, the greasy spoon cafes, the once popular areas starting to decline, but most of all the people on the streets living in that moment of neon signs and bright lights. He showed the wet streets in the rain, the shadowed storefronts and the sunny days when women took the little ones for a stroll. . .


Foncie Pulice
Another man of the streets, Foncie concentrated his talents photographing the people of the city, capturing moments in their lives as they strolled by in front of his camera. If you wanted the photograph, you could drop by his shop and purchase it for a minimal amount. He chose the subjects. He enjoyed the act of taking the photos and accumulated an impressive amount of them.  From sailors on leave, to mothers and their children, to pals going to lunch after shopping, he caught them all if they happened to walk past his camera lens.

In Foncie's Photos we see Fifties fashion and a time captured when 'going downtown' meant hats and suits for men, and hats, heels and gloves for the women. In the early and mid-sixties he captured the casual trends of youth and the British influences in hairstyles.
Following are a couple of shots taken in the 1950s to illustrate, and many more were featured in a retrospective at the Vancouver Museum in 2013. Here was a man who liked people and who had an affinity for composition and the skill of capturing the essence of the moment.  Foncie's Photos was known to almost everyone who lived in Vancouver, and most families have a few of his images in their possession.

A mother and her sons. . .

Image 1 of DG Hudson's collection of Foncie's Photos
A ladies' outing. . .

Image 2 of DG Hudson's collection of Foncie's Photos



Is there someone who's known for documenting your city or a photographer associated with capturing the history of your favorite place? OR Do you photograph elements of your city for posterity?  Do you know of a repository of city photographs in your area (an archives)?

Please let me know you were here by leaving a comment.  I'll try to get back to you when I can. I'm very limited at present as to visiting, but I do lurk about. I'm considering the April A to Z Challenge, but would need to prep in advance. I'm currently only able to maintain a minimal blogging presence.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Bridges of Vancouver, BC - A Sampling

Four favorites:

The Burrard Bridge, the Granville Street Bridge, Lions Gate Bridge and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. There are several more in the city and in outlying municipalities crossing rivers.

Burrard Bridge

Built in the years 1930-1932, and also called the Burrard Street Bridge, this Art Deco style steel construction in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is distinctive and reminds me of castles. It's a great place to watch fireworks and is one of the best viewpoints in the city. It crosses False Creek, connecting the downtown core with Kitsilano.

Burrard Bridge Vancouver BC Canada - WC

Busts of Captain George Vancouver and Sir Harry Burrard-Neale in stylized prows of ships form part of the design on the bridge's structure. Both men played a part in Vancouver's exploration and history.


Granville Street Bridge

Another bridge spanning False Creek is the Granville Street Bridge, a modern styled bridge which also rises above Granville Island, a crafters market and unique location in Vancouver, very near the downtown area. The first bridge, a timber trestle, was completed in 1889, and included a swing span. It was designed mostly by the CPR, and later included streetcar tracks. The bridge went through three transitions, as updates were made to facilitate traffic flow into the city.

Granville Street Bridge, Vancouver, BC Canada - WC


Lions Gate Bridge

The Lions Gate Bridge, officially called the First Narrows Bridge, is one of the most picturesque bridges in Vancouver, especially when lights illuminate the suspension cables at night. Opening in 1938, the bridge crosses Burrard Inlet and connects Vancouver to the North Shore, the City of North Vancouver and West Vancouver. The name 'Lions Gate' references The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver which can be seen from the city.

Lions Gate Bridge - WC* (taken from a floatplane) Vancouver, BC Canada

In 2005, the Lions Gate Bridge was named a National Historic Site of Canada. A pair of cast concrete lions are placed on either side of the approach to the bridge and also on the road in Stanley Park which passes over the causeway of the Lions Gate Bridge.


IronWorkers Memorial Bridge (Second Narrows)

The Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, alternately called the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, or the Second Narrows (original name) is the second bridge that crosses the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, BC. This bridge connects Vancouver to the north shore of Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver, just as the Lions Gate Bridge does.

Ironworkers Memorial/Second Narrows, Vancouver, BC, Canada - WC

On June 17, 1958, several spans collapsed as a crane attempted to join the two chords of the arch. Seventy-nine workers fell 100 feet (30 meters) into the water.  Eighteen workers were killed instantly or died soon after. In a Royal Commission inquiry, the collapse was attributed to an engineering miscalculation.

In total, nineteen died in the collapse, along with four other workers during construction. Stomping Tom Connors paid a tribute to the fallen ironworkers with the song, The Bridge Came Tumbling Down on his 1972 album.  In addition, Jimmy Dean in 1962, a country singer, sang Steel Men, a ballad about the Second Narrows bridge disaster.


Are you a person who loves bridges? Do you have any favorites where you live? or in other cities? Do you know of any other bridges associated with songs?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by and I apologize for my absence but I am hovering and checking out other blogs when I can!



Image of Burrard Street Bridge
GFDL, Free Art License

Burrard Bridge

Image of the Granville Street Bridge
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;...A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License

Lions Gate Bridge Image

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; ...A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

Image of Ironworkers Memorial Bridge
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license


Bridges of Vancouver, BC, Canada


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon - A Review

Time travel may not occur the way you imagine. . .

Beware of stone circles and places where witches like to dance. . .

Catapulted two hundred years into the past with no warning and no idea of where you are when you get there. . .here is a story of adventure, history, love and danger.


When Claire and Frank Randall visit the Highlands in Scotland, she doesn't imagine she'll end up time-tripping to the 1700s without so much as a fare thee well. In the postwar forties of the 20th Century, a nurse who has seen the injured from the fields of a world war battle suddenly finds herself in the midst of an 18th century skirmish, meeting an rogue ancestor of her husband.

Not far into this new era, Claire discovers a man who will form part of her destiny. This man, known as Jamie Fraser to his familiars, follows a path of his own in a Scotland known for its harsh times and it's even more harsh forms of government. His interaction and crossing of fates with the ancestor of Claire's 'future' husband form a thread that weaves its way through this story. Along the way are excessive punishment, greed, familial killing, witchery, and a wonderful overlapping of history, tied and secured with a love story that will warm your heart. Claire becomes a home and field surgeon and herbalist to cope and to secure her place in the times in which she finds herself. Even that can be dangerous, keeping in mind the simplistic notions about medicine that many a common man held in the 1700s.

At first I found Claire a bit annoying in her refusal to accept where she was but came to appreciate her stamina after a few more chapters. Gabaldon tells the story in her usual deft manner, retaining the attractive aura that surrounds Claire's companion, Jamie, chosen by Fate, the proper laird of his own property but exiled for political reasons.I like the character of Jamie better than Claire, as she seems to do many ill-advised things in the beginning, but due to her herbal lore, I do come to admire her. She gets her come-uppance in several ways, and she does eventually realize what a gift she has been given.  I recommend this book if you like your stories to be the kind that crosses many genres, are full of historical research and hard to put down.

Future Review to Come:

I am not reading the books in chronological order, and have begun The Fiery Cross, as I was lucky enough to get a couple of her books at a library sale.  I'm also finishing Roland Yeomans' novel, The Stars Bleed at Midnight. It's another novel meant to be savored.


Are you a fan of Gabaldon's writing? Have you read Outlander?

Please leave a comment to let me know you've been here, and I'll respond. I've been tending to family issues and have been a bit scarce.  I am posting when I can. I also wish all of you a Happy Holiday! Enjoy the family time!


Outlander, a New York Times Bestselling novel, published by Doubleday in Canada, Seal Books, 2001.


Friday, November 7, 2014

YAKUZA TERRITORY - New from Milo James Fowler

Danger lives in this part of town. . .

New Release from Milo James Fowler

Take a moment to discover what happens when a hardboiled detective story is set in a science fiction world:

A detective with no way out.
A telepath with something to prove...

World-weary detective Charlie Madison has seen more than his share of war. When he stops by the 37th precinct late one night to check on his old friend Sergeant Douglass, the place is as quiet as a morgue. The last thing he expects to find: half a dozen Russian gunmen with a score to settle.

What starts out as a vicious Alamo-style battle soon evolves into something more sinister as Madison's past comes into play. Will his ties to a branch of the Japanese mafia be a help or a hindrance? And who is the strange man in holding? Why are the Russians determined to break him out?

Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he's outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.


Maybe checking in on Sergeant Douglass late that night hadn’t been the best idea. I should have paid more attention to the warning signs right off; things weren’t exactly business as usual at the precinct. The pencil-necked clerk wasn’t at his post, and an eerie quiet held the foyer as still as a morgue. No cops, uniformed or otherwise, to be seen. In a city that never slept, one expected its law enforcement personnel to share the same god-awful insomnia—graveyard shift or no.

The vacant front desk didn’t sway me from my course, though. Little glitches out of the ordinary seldom did. I’d trained myself over the years to file them away, but not focus on them too much. As a detective, it was easy to get distracted by particulars while going after the big picture. Besides, I was suspicious by nature. I questioned everything as a matter of course. But as far as I knew, everybody on duty was partying in back, throwing Douglass a well-deserved soirée after his recent ordeal and return to the land of the visible.

I paused at the unlocked door leading into the bullpen—an open-concept area with clusters of desks for everybody ranked lower than lieutenant. Access into the station’s inner workings wasn’t usually so free and easy. As I quietly stepped inside, I knew without a doubt something was amiss.

The whole room lay empty except for five guys standing in the middle with assault weapons slung over their shoulders—AK-12s and SIG MPXs by the looks of them. Not what your average citizens usually carried around concealed on their person.

“Hey.” I saluted the first one to notice me. “Am I late to the party?”

He glared my way, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was back in high school; once again, I’d forgotten the beer. They weren’t in uniform—unless black nubuck jackets and jeans counted, not to mention the scruffy stubble, slick hair, and stocky frames. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the look of your standard-issue thug for hire these days.

“Charlie—get down!”

I would have recognized that Scottish brogue anywhere. I’d already assembled a good enough picture of the situation to know it was in my best interest to hit the floor a split second before the deafening staccato of weapons fire and a hail of bullets headed my way. The rounds blasted straight through computer monitors and potted plants on desks; sparks flew upward along with shards of clay and clouds of potting soil. Chairs disintegrated as I cringed behind a solid steel desk and drew the snubnosed Smith & Wesson from my shoulder holster.

“Sarge, you all right?” I barely heard myself over the stampede of slugs plowing into the steel that sheltered me. The rounds were making some serious dents, but none had punctured through—yet. It was only a matter of time.

I wouldn’t be able to stay put for long.


Available from
Musa Publishing. Musa Publishing is proud to announce the release of Milo James Fowler's most recent science fiction novella Yakuza Territory.

Add Yakuza Territory to your Goodreads bookshelf


 About the Author

1. When did you start seriously pursuing writing as a career?

I've been writing since I was a kid, but I started submitting my work for publication in the summer of 2009. I'd always thought I would pursue publication at some point—probably after I retired from teaching or turned 40. My first story was published in January 2010, and I've had another 96 accepted for publication since then. I won't turn 40 for a couple more years, and I'm still teaching full-time. Doesn't look like I'll be retiring anytime soon!

2. How did you create the character Charlie Madison?

When I was a kid, I learned to type on an old-school manual typewriter. That's where I learned to write, too. My first novels were messy, full of typos and plot holes. But they were fun. And at age 15, that's what it was all about for me. Private eye Charlie Madison was one of the first characters I created, based on Box 13 and Dixon Hill, and The Double Murder was his big debut. By the end of it, I had over a hundred pages of snappy banter, mob hits, double-crossing dames, car chases, and even some alligators on leashes. It was a horrible parody, and I knew it.

Halfway through
Write1Sub1 2011, I came up with the first Charlie Madison story I'd written in decades: Girl of Great Price. It wasn't anything like his original case, but he was the same quick-witted, intrepid detective I'd known before. I transplanted him into a more serious and gritty "future noir" sci-fi setting, and once I'd envisioned that world, I knew I'd be back. Immaterial Evidence soon followed, and Yakuza Territory will be available from Musa Publishing on November 7th.

3. Are you working on more Charlie Madison stories?

I'm outlining the follow-up to Yakuza Territory, and it's going to be full of assassinations, kidnappings, killer robots, and maybe even a mad scientist. The working title is The Gifted Ones, and it follows the origins of the mysterious suprahumans who have appeared in all three Charlie Madison detective stories so far.

Author Bio

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he's not grading papers, he's imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. He is an active SFWA member, and his work has appeared in more than 90 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and the Wastelands 2 anthology. 
Visit and join The Crew for updates about new releases as well as exclusive promotions.

Are you familiar with Milo's noir tales? Read any of his other works? Do you like noir with a science fiction twist? Ever heard of Charlie Madison?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! Check at Milo's blog for ordering and for the advantages of being a member of The Crew.