Fact v.s. Fiction

Books

Growing up I remember watching a hell of a lot of Da Vinci’s Inquest with my parents. That cheesy, overacted CBC crime drama was my gateway drug into the big beautiful world of corny, overly dramatic crime dramas like CSI, CSI: Miami, Dexter, Bones…etcetera, etcetera. It’s not my favourite TV genre but it’s so dang easy to get hooked, because what’s more satisfying than a murder that gets solved within an hour-long episode? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

csi_miami_cancelled1

Reality isn’t nearly as satisfying. Real-life murders do not get solved in an hour, sometimes they never get solved at all.

In the case of Latonya Wallace’s murder the Homicide detectives have virtually no physical evidence from the crime scene. The 11-year old girl was found in an alley early one rainy morning. The weather effectively washed the alley of any traces of the suspect and it was clear that her body had been relocated from the crime scene. One of the most defining leads in the case is an earring that was missing from the victim’s lobe.

“In addition to the bloody clothes or bedsheets and a serrated knife, they are searching for the star-shaped gold earring, nothing less than a proverbial needle in the haystack.” 

Imagine searching an entire neighbourhood — bedrooms, basements, closets, garages, backyards — for an earring.

Chapter three started with a similarly defeating tone.

“It has been 111 days since Gene Cassidy was shot down at the corner of Appleton and Mosher streets.”

I was immediately frustrated. How come these murders were taking so long to solve? Shouldn’t the detectives be able to scan something with a black-light, or take some swabs, or run something through a computer to find the murderer? Then I caught myself. This isn’t a television show and these crimes actually happened. It was an icky moment of realization that my world-view was somewhat formed by the shows I watched on TV.

That said, Gene Cassidy’s case reads like an episode of CSI. Cassidy was a police officer that was shot in the head twice on a street corner, leaving him blind, but alive. Terry McLarney is the detective assigned to his case and a close friend of Cassidy’s, he is more than invested in solving the difficult case. There are no reputable witnesses off the bat and Cassidy can’t remember the events leading up to the incident. We follow McLarney to all kinds of dead ends before the offender is ousted by a witness months after the shooting.

Finally, resolve!

But, McLarney’s victory is short-lived. Baltimore has an average of 200 murders per year, meaning each detective of the homicide unit takes on a new case every few days. Following the closing of the Cassidy case, Baltimore experiences 13 murders in 14 days.

Thanks David Simon, I don’t think I can respectfully watch another polished, well-rested TV detective tie a pretty-little bow on a murder case ever again (unless, of course, we’re talking about The Wire). Reality is much more interesting.

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High Profile Cases

Books

CMHRLast week, I got to attend the 52nd annual International Association of Women Police (IAWP) conference as part of a school assignment. Female officers from around the world filled the grand ballroom at The Fort Garry Hotel waiting to hear the morning’s keynote speaker the right hon Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada.

Jean was inspiring and so, so eloquent, it was a treat to hear her speak. She talked about how she used to fear police officers because of abuses her family had experienced in when she was growing up in Haiti. She also spoke about human rights. In one poignant phrase she described police officers as the front line witnesses to human rights abuses going on in the world.

I had Jean’s words stuck in my head the entire time I was reading the second chapter of Homicide. The chapter opens onto a back alley crime scene in Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill neighbourhood, where eleven-year old Latonya has been found brutally murdered. The victim’s circumstance and her age quickly turn the murder into a “red-ball” case, a case so high-profile that it affects the entire homicide department until it’s closed. And as primary detective on the case Detective Tom Pellegrini devotes all of his time to finding Wallace’s murderer.

During the first chapter, Simon describes the way different homicide units compete with one another to close cases. The competition is visible on a whiteboard filled with all of the current cases with red marker signifying which cases haven’t been solved. While it’s not the greatest measure of a detective’s work ethic it is a motivator to get things done.

I find the whiteboard difficult to stomach because it takes the injustice out of the crimes and makes the whole thing seem like a game. Simon doesn’t bring up the board much in the second chapter because the Wallace case makes it obsolete, the crime against a child has much more gravity.

How come murders of drug dealers and prostitutes are treated like a game but the murder of a child becomes a red alert? Innocence. A drug dealer probably had it coming because they’re associated with criminal activities, but a child on her way home from the library can’t have brought that horrible fate upon herself. Everybody has the same basic rights as human beings but society places more importance on the plight of innocents.

The media has a lot to do with letting society know what’s important. The relationship between journalists and detectives is a strained one in Homicide and it’s interesting to read the headlines from a police officers perspective. I had no idea how detrimental coverage can be to an open case. A front page story can affect witnesses coming forward and journalistic speculation can hurt affect public confidence in the police.

Journalist are supposed to keep power in check, but what’s the point if justice takes a hit.

Separate Yourself

Books

“In a police department of about three-thousand sworn souls, you are one of thirty-six investigators entrusted with the pursuit of that most extraordinary of crimes: the theft of a human life. You speak for the dead. You avenge those lost to the world”

Dead bodies, long hours and black coffee. David Simon’s novel Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets offers a candid look into the world of the Baltimore Police Department’s Homicide Unit — grizzly details and all.

In 1988, Simon was working for the Baltimore Sun when he became the first reporter to gain unlimited access to a police homicide unit. He took the opportunity and entrenched himself in the unit’s day-to-day operations for an entire year. Homicide follows 19 detectives as they navigate difficult cases and policeman politics, the book is the real-life inspiration for HBO’s The Wire.

Finishing the first chapter I already felt immersed in the police world. Simon manages to tell the story through the eyes of the detectives in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or made-up. He peppers the story with police-lingo and a writes with a rhythm that alludes to a Baltimore accent. The narrator sounds like a no-bullshit New Yorker.

This voice really intrigues me because as journalists we’re taught to report the facts and leave our own voice out of our reporting as much as possible. Simon never uses “I” but he does take on the role of intermediary by placing the reader in every crime scene; and letting us hear every interrogation and every off-colour joke. And, obviously, an entire book written like a news article would be a horrendous read.

As I was reading, I kept thinking about how close Simon must have been to his subject. How do you leave your emotions and your opinions at the door when you’re faced with horrible situations everyday? Being able to separate yourself from a story is an integral part of non-biased reporting and I’m sure the same goes for police work. I know I find that separation difficult at times, especially if I’m writing about something I’m passionate about.

I’ll be writing about the themes and issues raised in Homicide for the next 9 weeks so be prepared for spoilers if you haven’t read the book, and if you have read it please let me know what you think about my analysis!

My obsession with Fred & Friends housewares

Videos

I wish I could say that my kitchen full of glistening appliances and chef-quality knives, but it’s not. The reality is that I have a kitchen that’s the size of your bathroom and it’s full of kijiji finds and kitschy utensils, like my Measuring Matyroshkas from Fred & Friends (a quirky housewares company that you can find here or on Twitter).

These russian nesting doll measuring cups have a special place in my heart for several reasons:

1. They’re adorable.

2. They were the first things I bought myself when I decided I wanted to move out.

3. I first encountered them while I was backpacking around Australia, oh the memories (btw check out this awesome travel blog I kept while I was there — I swear pink was never my favourite colour).

I have since become obsessed with the product line and have slowly been adding to my Fred & Friends collection, which now includes a denture ice cube tray and half already-been-chewed cookie cutters. It’s all very cheesy but it makes me genuinely happy to whip up a meal with my goofy looking kitchen tools.

Here’s a vine I made to celebrate my love of Fred…and his friends:

Yes I was listening to Madonna, and no this is not a sponsored post (it’s homework)!

 

Spirits: WHISKEY

Videos

This is a movie I made that looks at different Whiskey based drinks! I got my lovely boyfriend to bartend for me because he’s, well, a professional. We only had a little bit of fun with it and who knows, maybe this is the first in a series (I would like to start doing more videography).

We started with a simple shot made with two ingredients, then moved onto a classic Whiskey martini, and last to a slightly more complicated, and therefore more delicious, Whiskey cocktail.

The song is an instrumental version of “American Boy” by Estelle ft. Kanye West.

Happy sipping!

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Recipes

cupcake

 

I’m not a very confident baker so I surprised myself the other day when I made a batch of fantastically moist, not too sweet cupcakes. I think baking with booze might be my new forte!

I made these cupcakes for Boiler Magazine’s launch party on Friday because I wanted to incorporate beer into the event without worrying about a liquor license (because dudes like meat and beer right?).

These Irish-inspired treats are a home run crowd-pleaser. The Guinness and Baileys liqueur impart unexpected flavour and subtly enhance an everyday chocolate cupcake. The original recipe come from here, and creates a dozen cupcakes, I made mini cupcakes and the recipe yielded about 80 of them.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

Cupcake Batter

1 cup Guinness
2 sticks unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Frosting

1 8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)
4 tablespoons of butter (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
4-8 tablespoons of Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur

Directions 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners. Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt, and whisk together. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sour cream until creamy. Add the stout-butter mixture to the eggs and sour cream, mix to combine. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, whisking until incorporated.

3. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. For the frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well mixed. Add in the Bailey’s a tablespoon at a time until the texture is smooth, creamy, and spreadable. Frost the cool cupcakes as desired.

 

 

Boiler Magazine – Meet Your Makers

Handmade, Recipes, Winnipeg

BoilerMagazineCoverContributor EvaMe!

Contributor---Adriana-ResizeAdriana

Contributor---Trevin-ResizeTrevin

Contributor---Amy-Jean-ResizeAmy Jean

Contributor-JordanJordan

 

So, that little magazine project I posted about a few months ago is coming to an end and we’re going out with a bang! In case you’ve forgotten Boiler Magazine is Winnipeg’s first men’s food magazine. Our first issue covers a range of topics from junk food cravings to making moonshine, with a whole lot of feel-good food in between.

Boiler Magazine is holding a launch party on Friday April 4 from 12 – 4 pm at The Roblin Centre (Red River College’s Exchange District campus). We have awesome prizes to give away, an eating contest for some brave bellies, and a ton of delicious free food that you can help us eat!

Our magazine is one of 14 student created magazines being featured at the Creative Communications Magazine Trade Fair (check the Facebook page for more info). There’s a lot of interesting topics being explored if you’re not into guiltlessly celebrating indulgent, delicious food— but stop by our booth and say “Hi” anyways!

I thought I would put some friendly faces to Boiler Magazine’s creative team, and share with you the people I’ve spent more time with in the last 3 months than my own family:

Photo Editor – Eva Wasney (Me)
Copy Editor – Adriana Mingo
Copy Editor – Trevin Thomas
Editor-in-chief – Amy Jean MacLean
Layout Editor – Jordan Welwood

So come by on Friday and see what some very creative people have been working their tails off for, or to eat a bunch of free food. Stay hungry Winnipeg, lunch is on us.

 

 

 

Giants Ridge

Photos, Travel

Giants Ridge 2 Giants Ridge 5 Giants Ridge 6 Giants Ridge 4

Giants RidgeLast weekend I went to Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort and I didn’t have any fun . . . just kidding I had so much fun I wrote a story about it for school! But I’m not going to regurgitate that here.

On Friday afternoon 40, or so, Canadians met in the parking lot of Great-West Life and started tailgating — as is customary before getting on a bus and driving six and-a-half hours south. It was a beautiful day and ungloved hands were clutching beer cans as far as the eye could see.

When the bus arrived everybody piled on and I settled in for a relaxing drive down to Minnesota, I had obviously never been on the Giants Ridge ski trip before. The trip organizers are a trio of brothers who have been going to Giants Ridge for more than 20 years. It started out as a family ski trip but the brothers have turned it into a friends vacation with many ingrained traditions.

The bus ride down was impressively exhausting and I was glad when we rolled into small-town America at one in the morning. I made a bee-line to our hotel room and politely declined an invitation to continue the party at the hotel pub.

The next day we all lumbered back on the bus and headed for the hill at 9 a.m., just early enough to feel unfazed by approaching hangovers.

The “mountain” I remembered from previous (younger) ski trips now looked like a gently sloping bluff. But the snow was in great condition and the weather was absolutely fantastic. Since I had only gone skiing once in the last three years I spent most of the day trying to get my confidence back. I’m happy to report that my ski’s were no longer pizza-ing by the end of the day!

On our last run of the day we stumbled upon the annual slush cup — a competition to see who can bomb down the hill on whatever equipment they want, and make it across a pool of freezing water. It was hilarious, my favourite entrant was a tiny little skier with a green wig poking out under his helmet (unfortunately he didn’t make it all the way).

We capped off the day with a dance party on the deck of the chalet and a nap on the bus before arriving back at the hotel for well-deserved soak in the hot tub. Neal and I went for a late dinner at the local sports bar and ended up having a  long conversation with a bartender named Angie. She was sweet, crass and 100% American, I loved her.

The next day was a repeat of the first, but with less skiing and more dancing. The bus ride back to Canada was significantly tamer and was broken up with a lovely stop at the border at 1 a.m., which involved the border guards searching everyone’s luggage. Hooray for getting to bed at 3 a.m. on a Sunday night before going to school at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Regardless of my whining I survived, and you can count me in for next year!