Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Rise of Lord Alan Sugar

Here is an infographic about the rise of BBC host, Lord Alan Sugar, best known as the long-time host of the The Apprentice in the UK.  It is a timeline of his life and his rise from obscurity to one of Britain's most influential businessmen.  I hope you find it informative and entertaining.

- Joanne

The Rise Of Lord Sugar
The Rise Of Lord Sugar by ABC FINANCE LTD.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pug or Partner? Are You Better Off With A Dog?

bDog lovers should enjoy this.  It's an infograhic on the financial, emotional and practical benefits of having a pug as opposed to a human partner.  I hope you find it amusing and informative.  (Note that costs are in British pounds)

- Joanne

pug or partner? by Moneypod.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Roy Halladay: My Tribute to the Doc

"By all accounts, the baseball world lost not only a star and a great competitor but also an even greater man, one who had earned virtually universal respect within the industry and among fans.  His immense talent may have been matched only by his tireless work ethic and his humility."

- Jay Jaffe
Sports Illustrated, November 8, 2017

Roy Halladay's premature death came as a shock to baseball fans, especially those in the two cities where he made his mark - Toronto and Philadelphia.  On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, Roy lost his life when his single-engine plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida.  He was 40 years old, much too young to die, especially for a man with such a zest for life.

Halladay was the Toronto Blue Jays' first-round selection in the 1995 major league draft. In total, Roy spent 16 season in Major League Baseball, 12 of them in Toronto, the remainder in Philly.  He was an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner (22 wins in 2003 for the Blue Jays and 21 wins in 2010 for the Phillies). The lanky right-hander from Colorado left the game with some impressive career statistics. He had a win-loss record of 203-105, an ERA of 3.38 and 2,117 strikeouts.  Halladay was durable and resilient.  He had the strength and determination to go deep into games.  At the time of his retirement in 2013, he was the major league leader in complete games.among active pitchers with 67.  He had also racked up 20 career shutouts.

Roy's nickname "Doc" (after Wild West gunslinger Doc Holliday) was bestowed upon him by the late Tom Cheek, longtime radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays.  He endeared himself to Torontonians because of his philanthropy.  He gave back to the community.  During his time with the Jays, Roy and his wife Brandy invited children from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and their families to watch games in  "Doc's Box" at the Rogers Centre.  Halladay also had a stipulation in his contract by which he donated $100,000 each year to the Jays Care Foundation.and he was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award for his support for underprivileged children.

When Roy left the Blue Jays after the 2009 season, Toronto fans were disappointed and saddened.  At the same time, they understood why he had to go.  It was best for Doc.  He wanted an opportunity to compete in the playoffs and the World Series before his career ended.  He didn't think that was going to happen in Toronto.  So, he went to Philadelphia, where he fulfilled his dream of playing in the postseason.  He simply wanted a chance to play on a World Series-winning team.

In December of 2009, the Phillies acquired the Blue Jays' ace in a trade for minor league prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.  For Roy, the 2010 season in the City of Brotherly Love was unforgettable.  It was simply magical.  On May 29, 2010, he pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies, defeating the Florida Marlins by a score of 1-0.  It was the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.  Halladay followed that up by throwing a no-hitter in his very first postseason start, on October 6, 2010.  It was only the second no-hitter in Major League Baseball history (Don Larsen threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series).  Halladay's postseason no-hitter made him the fifth pitcher in major league history to throw two no-hitters in one season.  It came at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Divisional Championship).

Although the Phillies did not advance to the 2010 World Series, Roy's 21 regular season victories and his perfect game earned him his second Cy Young Award.  He joined the exclusive group of only six pitchers in MLB history to win the Cy Young in both the American and National Leagues.  It is a group that includes such luminaries as Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry.

During the 2012 season, Roy reached another milestone in his illustrious career.  He became the 67th MLB pitcher to record 2000 strikeouts.  During  2013 season, however, Halladay was plagued with shoulder problems and had a 6.82 earned-run average in 13 starts with the Phillies.  His fastball averaged only 88 miles per hour.  Realizing that he was no longer capable of playing at his former level of excellence, Roy decided it was time to retire and spend more time with his family.  He explained his decision with these words: "There's a lot of travel and a lot of time away from family and loved ones.  I felt this is a great time for me to get back involved and help my kids. They're starting to strive for their dreams and that's something I want to be part of, so I'm looking forward to that."

Roy with family

In December of 2013, Halladay signed a one-day, free-agent contract so that he could retire as a Blue Jay.  In doing so, Roy demonstrated the high regard he held for the city of Toronto and the Blue Jays organization.  At the time, he stated, "I was very lucky to have a lot of people in the (Blue Jays) organization really develop and help me become the player I was able to become."

By no means did Roy intend to slight the city of Philadelphia or the Phillies organization.  In fact, he he said, "I want the Phillies organization to know how much I enjoyed my time there.  How much they meant to my family and what a major part of my career they were."  It was just that Toronto had given him his start and had stuck with him when he struggled during the early days of his career.

Last June, I attended the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in St. Mary's Ontario.  Roy was one of the inductees, along with Montreal Expos great Vladimir Guerrero, Baseball Canada president Ray Carter legendary umpire, Doug Hudlin and the 2015 gold-medal winning Pan Am Canadian Baseball team.  Although I didn't get an opportunity to speak to Roy, I was delighted to see him there.

I am so thankful hat Roy Halladay played in Toronto for a dozen years.  My only regret is that he was unable to play on a winning team here and it's unfortunate that he failed to secure a World Series ring in Philadelphia.  However, he deserves to be voted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown when he is scheduled to appear on the 2019 ballot.  I admit I'm biased, but I hope Halladay is inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay.

Apart from Roy's excellence as a ball player, he was a wonderful human being and an exemplary family man,  He was completely devoted to Brandy and his two sons, Braden and Ryan.  He wasn't loud-mouthed, crass or boastful.  He was the kind of athlete you would want your children to emulate.

R.I.P. Roy Halladay.

- Joanne

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Trump versus Kim

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have been playing a dangerous game.  In truth, both men have been behaving like children fighting in a schoolyard.  They have been hurling insults at each other in the manner of pubescent adolescents.  What an ungodly spectacle!  It is truly lamentable that two such immature men should wield so much power in the world.

Kim Jong-il is only 33 years old  and he is a ruthless dictator.  Donald Trump is 71 year old and he is the purported leader of the free world.  He is the head of state of a democracy which is supposed to stand for liberty and defend human rights.  Both live a lavish lifestyle and they are both narcissists.

Kim called Trump a "dotard."  and Trump's derisive pet name for Kim is "Rocket Man"  When Kim referred to Trump as "old," the president responded sarcastically, "I'd never call him short and fat."  This repartee would be comical, if it weren't so frightening and if the stakes weren't so high.  However, we can't lose sight of the fact that there is a genuine risk of nuclear war.  For now, Trump and Kim are exchanging insults, but what if they start hurling nuclear missiles?  What if North Korea misinterprets one of Trump's loathsome midnight Twitter messages?

This is not a chess game.  These are not schoolboys at recess.  This is not some contest to prove who is more macho.  These two men have lives in their hands - human lives.  If they press a button, they can wipe out innocent human beings in seconds. Kim is a brutal,totalitarian  and he behaves like a brutal totalitarian.  Trump conduct is another matter.  Much more is expected from the leader of a country which prides itself on its democratic ideals.  The President of the United States should not demean himself and his country by stooping to the level of the dictator of North Korea.

Trump's stance has not made people feel any safer.   According to the Los Angeles Times, Hawaii is already making preparations in the event of a surprise nuclear attack by North Korea.  Television commercials will begin airing advising Hawaiians "to get inside and stay inside" in case a bomb drops.  Concerned residents and state officials are preparing warning siren to go off  on December 1st

In August, North Korea launched a missile over Japan.  According to CNN, their state media announced that "it was the first step of the military operation (of the North Korean military) in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude into containing Guam (a U.S. territory).

Some downplay Korea's nuclear threat.  After all, Kim may be nasty, but he certainly doesn't want to self-destruct or give up his hold on power.  Remember that this is a man who reportedly had his uncle executed and his half-brother killed in an airport assassination after learning of a Chinese-backed plan to remove him from power.

Donald Trump, it seems, is the wild card in this situation.  He's unstable and unpredictable.  That's what worries me.  What a tragedy it would be if the United States and North Korea stumbled into war.  I only hope that sanity prevails.

- Joanne

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Reflections on War and Peace on Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries.  It is Veterans Day in the United States.  On November 11th, 2010, I posted a short essay about why I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day.  Here is that essay again, along with some quotations on war and peace.  I believe it is especially relevant given the current tensions in the world and the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Why I Wear a Poppy on Remembrance Day

Without equivocation, I believe that war is an abomination, a blight upon humanity. Yet every Remembrance Day, I wear a bright red poppy. Here's why. I wear a poppy to honour the memory of those who have suffered and died in war. I also wear it to remind myself of the folly and futility of war. Yes, war may sometimes be necessary to rid the world of a scourge such as Nazism. It may be the only recourse to overcome a madman like Adolf Hitler. However, there is no glamour in war, only hardship, poverty and death. It is not glorious and it is not adventurous. It is unspeakably brutal and it takes the lives of innocent people. It causes untold destruction and it cruelly separates families. It forces its victims away from their homes and into refugee camps. In times of war, the innocent are the most vulnerable and they always suffer the most.

I wear a poppy for those who died in the muddy trenches World War I. The “Great War” was an ugly and unnecessary war. When it began in August of 1914, many thought it would be a grand adventure and that the troops would be home by Christmas. They didn’t realize that such a great number of those eager, youthful combatants would never see their homes again. Sadly, those young people went to war and died because their countries were engaged in a battle for colonies and for military and economic superiority. What a waste of human potential!

I wear a poppy for the victims of World War II and Korea and Vietnam. I wear it for those who suffered under Nazism and fascism and for those who sacrificed their lives to end the reign of those cursed ideologies. I wear it for the victims of Stalin and Mao and all those who currently live under totalitarianism and dictatorship.

I wear a poppy to remember all the women who have been violated by soldiers during wartime. I wear it for the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust and for all the victims of genocide. I wear it for the 300,000 who died in Nanking in 1937 and I wear it for those who lost their lives when the deadly atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wear it for the victims of Pol Pot and his killing fields. I wear it for the children of war, the babes in arms who begin their lives in poverty and horror. I wear it for the orphans and widows of war. They suffer because the military-industrial complex and arms dealers throughout the world have a vested interest in war. Without it, they would not be so affluent. Their money would be spent on education, health care and the alleviation of poverty.

I wear a poppy to remember the mistakes of history. This is an imperfect world and humans are imperfect creatures. Evil exists and it will take root and spread if we allow it to do so. The only answer is to educate the world's youth so that they will not support another Adolf Hitler. We must make certain that young people are well-versed in history and that they know the truth about war, genocide and extremism of both the right-wing and the left-wing variety. They must be made aware that extremism leads to death, misery and totalitarianism.

I wear a poppy for the all the victims of terrorism and for their families. I wear it to remember those who perished on September 11, 2001. I wear it for all those who have been maimed and broken by war, both physically and psychologically. I wear it for those who lack basic human rights. I will not forget. On this November 11th and every November 11th, I will remember them all and I will hope for peace.


Older men declare war.  But it is the youth who must fight and die.

- Herbert Hoover
Speech at the Republican National Convention, Chicago, June 27, 1944

I have never met anyone who wasn't against war.  Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.

David Low (1891-1963), British political cartoonist
From New York Times Magazine, February 10, 1946

History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen.

Enoch Powell, (1912-1998), British politician
From his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, October 19, 1967

I have seen war.  I have seen war on land and sea.  I have seen blood running from the wounded.  I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs.  I have seen the dead in the mud.  I have seen cities destroyed.  I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line - the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before.  I ave seen children starving.  I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.  I hate war.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Speech at Chautauqua, New York, August 14, 1936

The absolute pacifist is a bad citizen; times come when force must be used to uphold right, justice and ideals.

- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

- Mahatma Gandhi
From Non-Violence in Peace and War [1942]

There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.

- William T. Sherman, American Union general
From his speech at Columbus, Ohio, August 11, 1880

Peace can not be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.

Albert Einstein

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of it scientists, the hopes of its children . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1953

War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), Prussian soldier and military theorist
From On War   

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.

Malcolm X
Speech in New York, January 7, 1965

War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention.

Henry Maine (1822-1888), English jurist
From lecture delivered in Cambridge, 1887, in International Law [1888]

You can't switch on peace like a light.

- Mo Mowlam (1949-2005), British politician
From Independent, September 6, 1999

Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

- Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch Jewish philosopher
From Theological-Political Treatise [1670]

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

- Isaiah 2:4

- Joanne

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fascinating Facts About Fort Knox

Here is an infographic about Fort Knox, the United States Bullion Depository in Kentucky.  The infographic contains statistics, images and facts about this mysterious facility, guarded by a 109,000-acre (44 110.735 004 hectares) Army post.  It is the home of the American government's gold reserve.  

I hope you find this infographic about Fort Knox  informative and entertaining.

- Joanne


Fort Knox: The Bullion Depository by Storage Centres.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Stephen King in Film: The Hits and Misses

If your are a Stephen King fan, or just curious, here is the infographic for you.  The prolific author has had over 50 of his writings made into films.  However, the "Stephen King" moniker does not always guarantee financial success at the box office.  Just in time for Halloween, here is some background, including graphics and statistics, about many of these films. You can find out where your favourite Stephen King movie ranks.  I hope you find the information enlightening and entertaining. 

- Joanne

Stephen King in Film? by Moneypod.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Gina Lollobrigida at 90: Keeping up with the Italian film legend

"SHE WAS pursued by the Prince of Monaco and said to have made 'Marilyn Munroe look like Shirley Temple,' and in true tinsel-town style the path for the 1950s starlet has since been riddled with scandal."

- Lizzie Mulherin
London Sunday Express
December 16, 2015

Italian movie siren Gina Lollobrigida was once dubbed "the most beautiful woman in the world," after the title of a 1956 film in which she starred.  Gina  turned 90 years old this past summer and the city of Rome held a magnificent party in her honour.  To celebrate the milestone and Gina's career., a statue of the diva was unveiled on Via Condotti   There was a also a red carpet ceremony and an impressive birthday cake.

At the age of 90, Gina remains feisty as ever and seems to have lost none of her caustic wit.  In an interview with Corrierre della Sera, she ruminated on her feud with rival Italian actress, Sophia Loren, who is 83 years old.  "I'm not looking for any rivalry against anyone," she declared.  "I was the Number One."

Luigina "Gina" Lollobrigida was born in the mountain village of Subiaco, Lazio, Italy on July 4, 1927.  Her father was a furniture manufacturer and she had three sisters:  Giuliana (b. 1924), Maria (b. 1929) and Fernanda (1930–2011).  During World War II, she spent much of her teenage years with her parents and her sisters, trying to keep safe from bombs.  In her youth, Gina did some modelling and participated in beauty contests.  After the war, she won national recognition by finishing third in the 1947 Miss Italia pageant and a talent scout noticed her outside of Rome's Academy of Fine Arts, where she was a student of drawing and sculpting.  As a result, she was called to Cinecittà, the Roman film confectionery and offered her first film role.

On January 15, 1949, Gina married Dr. Milko Skofic. a Slovenian physician who gave up his medical practice to manage Gina's career.  They had one child, a son, named Andrea Milko (Milko Skofic Jr.), born on July 28, 1957. but the marriage ended in divorce in 1971.

Gina with Milko Skofic with baby Milko Jr.

During her film career, Gina starred opposite such greats as Humphrey Bogart, Sean Connery and Anthony Quinn. She first came to Hollywood for a screen test at the request of American business magnate and film producer Howard Hughes.  He invited Gina to Los Angeles after seeing her in a publicity photo in 1950.  Hughes was infatuated with the Italian actress and pursued her relentlessly.  Nevertheless, she returned to Rome two and a half months later, but not before Hughes had presented her with a seven-year contract with RKO Pictures.

Her Hollywood breakthrough did not come until the 1953 comedy Beat the Devil, directed by John Houston.and co-starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones and Robert Morley.  The film chronicles the adventures of a group of rogues on their way to Africa with plans to strike it rich.  It was apparently Bogart, by the way, who made the comparison between Gina and Marilyn Monroe.

Gina starred in the 1956 circus film Trapeze, alongside Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.  She also appeared as Esmeralda opposite Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo in the 1956 French-Italian version of the Victor Hugo classic The Hunchback of Notre Paris.  In addition, Lollobridida co-starred with Rick Hudson, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin in the 1961 romantic comedy Come September.  That same year, she appeared with Quinn and Ernest Borgnine in the drama Go Naked in the World.

Gina and Yul Brynner were paired in the 1959 historical epic Solomon and Sheba.  Brynner played King Solomon of Israel, with Lollobridgida as the Queen of Sheba in this dramatization of Biblical events.  Gina later teamed up with Sean Connery in 1964's Woman of Straw, in which Connery played an ailing tycoon who becomes enamoured of his Italian nurse, Maria, portrayed by Gina.

During the 1960s, Gina had a brief affair with Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world's first human-to-human heart transplant on December 3, 1967.  Dr. Barnard encountered Gina in January of 1969, during a visit to Rome to receive an audience with Pope Paul VI.  Barrard, who died in 2001, described the affair in his autobiography The Second Life.

Gina was also briefly engaged to George Kaufman, a New York real state heir.  The photo below shows Gina and Kaufman as they leave Rome for New York City in November of 1969.

When her film career began winding down, Gina moved on to other endeavours.  By the 1970s, she had established a second career as a successful photojournalist,  Her work received much acclaim and her subjects included Paul Newman, Henry Kissinger, Salvador Dali, the German national football team, Audrey Hepburn and Ella Fitzgerald.  In 1973, a collection of Gina's photographs taken across Italy, entitled Italia Mia, was published.  In 1974, she managed to scoop the media by obtaining an exclusive interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Gina Lollobrigida with Fidel Castro

The multi-talented Gina also developed a career in sculpting.  In 1992, one of her pieces became the official entry at the Word Expo in Seville, Spain. She maintains a large studio in Pietrasanta, an artists' colony in Tuscany, where she creates marble and bronze sculptures.  Her works have been displayed in in cities such as Paris, Venice and Moscow.

In a October 29, 2006 article by John Stanley for the San Francisco Chronicle, Gina made the following comments about her approach to sculpting: "I don't have time for gymnastics.  It is both mental and physical, sculpting.  I start work at 6 a.m.and don't stop until there is not enough light.  To express myself, that is my life.  To be my own master.  In sculpting, I do moments from my life.  People I knew, things I have seen.  It is all part of me."

In 1984, Gina Lollobrigida appeared on U.S. television for the first time.  She guest-starred in five episodes of the American prime time soap opera Falcon Crest, portraying Francesca Gioberti, the long-lost half-sister of family matriarch Angela Channing (Jane Wyman).  According to William Schmidt, Falcon Crest story editor from 1984 to 1987, Gina was unaware that the role of Francesca had been turned down by Sophia Loren.  In a 2006 interview with TJP Press, Schmidt stated, "I think she (Sophia) was pretty interested, but eventually turned us down.  The funny part was when we met with Gina Lollabrigida, We kept the meeting with (Carlo) Ponti (Sophia's husband) a secret and since neither Gina or her people asked, she did not know that we first contacted Sophia.  In that first meeting, Gina exclaimed, 'I am so happy!  I am so sick and tired of of always being offered Sophia Loren's leftovers!'  All of us around the room assiduously avoided eye contact."

In 1986, Gina had a role in in a two-part episode of The Love Boat entitled "The Christmas Cruise" (Part One, Season 10, Episode #2, Air Date: December 25, 1986), Part Two, Season 10, Episode #3, Air Date: December 25, 1986).  Below is a photo of Gina and Tony Franciosa in a scene from that 1986 episode of The Love Boat.

In October 2006, Gina, 79, announced her engagement to 45-year-old Spanish businessman Javier Rigau y Rafols, in Spain's ¡Hola! magazine.  In 2013, she became involved in a bizarre law suit in which she claimed that Rigau had secretly married her without her consent in order to inherit her wealth.  She contended that he had paid an impostor to stand in for her at a 2010 wedding ceremony in Barcelona (a then-72-year-old friend of Rigau stood in for Gina).

Gina described the alleged marriage as "squalid buisiness" and initiated legal action.  For his part, Rigau y Rafols declared Gina's accusations to be untrue.  According to the Catalan businessman, Gina had signed all the required documents of her own free will and had consented to the proxy marriage.  He claimed that she had consented to a stand-in bride to avoid publicity.  Gina contended that she was unaware what she was signing because she did not speak Spanish.  She said that she signed the legal document in Rome in 2014 because she was under the impression that it concerned a defamation case, not realizing that it was an authorization of their marriage under Italian law.

In 2014, there was further  over Gina's fortune.  Her son, Milko Skofic Jr., told Il Messagero, an Italian newspaper, that he wanted a  a court-appointed administrator to oversee his mother's estate.  Skofic, Jr., Gina's only heir, feared that she would be taken advantage of by her young male adviser, Andrea Piazzolla.  Gina, however, reacted strongly against such an idea  She would have none  it.  In fact, she told the paper that  “I am perfectly capable,” and that she still “travelled the world” despite her age.

Milko Skofic Jr.
In March of 2017, Lollobrigida lost her "fake marriage" case against  Javier Rigau y Rafols,  According to the Spanish online newspaper Vanitatis, the court ruled that Gina's claims of marital fraud were without foundation.  During the trial, Gina's lawyer, Fabrizio Siggia, accused Rigau of planning to wait until she died, then say he was her husband and claim her wealth."  After the court ruling, Siggia stated that Gina would appeal the verdict.


* Gina's nickname is "La Lollo."

* Gina often refers to herself in the third person.

* In 1999, Gina ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the European Parliament.

* According to a January 26, 2015 article in Vanity Fair by James Reginato, Gina's son, Milko Skofic Jr., "develops scientific information in the field of plant genetics."  He and his estranged wife, journalist Maria Grazia Fantasia, have a son named Dmitri, born in 1994.  The couple lived in an apartment in Gina's villa until their separation, after which Milko Jr. moved to another home in Rome.

Dimitri accompanied his grandmother, Gina, to the 2010 Globo D'Oro Awards in Rome.

* In 2013, Gina sold some of her jewellery collection through Sotheby's.  She donated nearly $5 million from the sale to benefit stem cell therapy.

* Gina Lollobrigida first established her career in Europe and never moved permanently to Hollywood.  She continues to reside in Italy.

- Joanne

Friday, October 20, 2017

Philippines radio veteran, Hoagy Pardo, writes letter to Corazon Amurao Atienza, survivor of Richard Speck murders

Manila radio legend, Hoagy Pardo, known as "Cousin Hoagy," was one of the first rock DJs on Philipine radio.  He started back in 1970 and has has been a great contributor to the local music scene.  He has a show on JAM 88.3 FM, Manila.

"Cousin Hoagy" emailed me a copy of a Facebook letter he has written to  Corazon Amurao Atienza, the only survivor of the 1966 Richard Speck murders in Chicago.  I am posting the letter because I want to share it with readers.  I wish to express my admiration for Corazon and for Hoagy Pardo.  Best wishes to both of them.

- Joanne

20 Oct 2017
Mandaluyong, WackWack Brgy.

Dear Corazon,

You know, I have been watching a NETFLIX TV show here on a show about the FBI and profiling killers....The one, Richard Speck, was featured in an episode and I thought of you and how they never said a word on your name, ethnicity except being a Nurse. GOOD for you.

I was 20 years old in 1966 and in college at De La Salle.

Wherever you are, I hope you are well.  Such an experience is what movies are made of and it was TRUE.

I have lived half my life in Manila part in Sprinfield, Va. even....Then back and forth till now, 71, that's it....LOLO time.  4 here sa Filipinas and 1 in Connecticut.

I am still working, a lifetime job, as FM radio announcer at JAM 88.3 fm where I play the Blue, Rock, Jazz Soul and ALL Pinoy at Midnight...rock, blues, jazz that is NOT played on regular channels.  Google me C. H. Pardo. My radio name is Cousin Hoagy.

You are a brave Filipina and deserve everything for LIVING and trying to move on......

I hope to meet you one day..Sincerely,
Hoagy Pardo

Cousin Hoagy
Rock and Roll Machine 

Here is a video about Hoagy Pardo.:

To see a Number 16 blog piece on Carazon  Amurao Atienza, please click on this link.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Recycling: Why it's worth the effort

Number 16 presents a guest article that was submitted to me by Francesca Miahh.

- Joanne


By Francesca Miahh

We simply don’t have the room on Earth to keep burying rubbish. Recycling is essential to our future.
It’s also faster and more cost effective than sourcing materials to make new products from. Reusing materials saves a huge amount of energy, which in turn benefits the planet and its ecosystems on the whole.

Recycling Facts

•   Recycling 6 tea bags creates enough energy to make 1 cup of tea

•   Up to 60% of discarded rubbish could be recycled

•   1 recycled tin can saves enough energy worth 3 hours of television

•    A recycled aluminium can will be back on the shelves within 6 weeks

•    Recycling every newspaper would save 250 million trees per year

To celebrate Recycle Week from 25th Sept to 1st Oct Mattress Online, who offer a recycling option when you buy a new mattress from them, have created this quiz to help you determine what type of recycler you are.  Here is the link:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Somewhere Over the Rainbow:: Using Colour Theory In Your Home

The following infographic is a guide to using colour in your home. Most of us have a favourite colour, but do we know what it signifies.  Do we know why we choose certain colours when we decorate a room?  There is a science behind our emotional attachment to a colour and it involves various elements such as art history, design, physiology, ethics, human anatomy, optics and architecture.  This colour theory guide will provide you with some insight on the science behind colour and how you can can use that knowledge to decorate your home.  I hope that you will find it useful and informative.

- Joanne

 The Colour Theory Guide by The Rug Seller
The Colour Theory Guide by The Rug Seller by The Rug Seller

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Whatever happened to Joanne Woodward?

Oscar-winning actress and widow of Hollywood legend Paul Newman - that's Joanne Woodward. Sadly, however, Joanne can't recall the many years she shared with her late husband, who died of lung cancer in 2008.  Now 87 years old, Woodward suffers from Alzheimer's disease (Ironically, she won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of an Alzheimer's patient in the 1985 television movie Do You Remember Love).

Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward was born in Thomasville, Georgia on February 27, 1930, the daughter of Elinor (née Trimmier) and Wade Woodward, an administrator in the Thomasville school system. Thomasville is an ordinary small town in southern Georgia, near the Florida border and Joanne came into the world in the midst of the Great Depression.  She had an older brother, also named Wade.  Joanne's  mother, a movie buff, named her after Joan Crawford, using the Southern pronunciation of the name - "Joanne."  Joanne  shared Elinor's passion for movies and mother and daughter enjoyed viewing films together.

In the late 1930s, the Woodward family moved to Marietta. Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.  Joanne's father became a travelling salesman and her mother worked for  Bell Aircraft Corporation (known as Bell Bomber), which was flourishing during World War II.

Joanne and her mother delighted in the movie Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier.  In 1939, Elinor brought her daughter to the premiere of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta.  The nine-year-old dashed into a limousine carrying Olivier and Vivien Leigh, the film's star (Olivier and Leigh married in 1940) and promptly sat on the great actor's knee.  Years later, when Joanne worked with Sir Laurence in the 1977 TV version of Come Back, Little Sheba, she mentioned the incident to him and he remembered it.

As a teenager, Joanne entered and won a number of beauty contests, although acting was always her primary passion.  Her father, who eventually became vice president of publisher Charles Scribner's Sons, needed convincing that a career in acting was the right path for his daughter.

Joanne's parents divorced and the family moved to Greenville, South Carolina in 1945.  In Greenville, Joanne began performing at the local theatre, the Greenville Little Theatre, where she received favourable reviews.  She played Laura Wingfield in a production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.

When Joanne graduated from Greenville High School in 1947, her drama teacher encouraged her to pursue an acting career in New York City.  Her father, however, wanted her to have a college education.  Deferring to his wishes,  she enrolled at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and and majored in drama.  She left the university after two years, returning home in 1949.

Joanne eventually went to New York, where she joined The Actors' Studio and Neighborhood Playhouse.  She studied with Sanford Meisner, one of greatest American acting coach's of the 20th century.  Meisner was adamant that Joanne must lose her Southern drawl.  As it turned out, however, she portrayed Southern women in many of her major roles.

Joanne made her first television appearance in a 1952 episode of Robert Montgomery Presents called "Penny."  In the early to mid-1950s, she had roles in TV anthologies such as Good Year PlayhouseThe Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Ford Television Theatre and Lux Video Theatre and Ponds Theater.

In 1953, Joanne was introduced to fellow actor Paul Newman by Maynard Morris, the agent who represented them both.  The two were later cast in the New York production of The Picnic, a play by William Inge.  Woodward was an understudy and Newman had a minor role in the production as a renegade who wreaks havoc among the woman of a small Kansas town.  The  pair got to know each other during rehearsals.   

Paul and Joanne gradually fell in love.  In his 2009 biography, Paul Newman: A Life, film critic Shawn Levy quotes Woodward as saying, "Paul and I were good friends before we were lovers. We really liked each other. We could talk to each other, we could tell each other anything without fear of ridicule or rejection. There was trust."

They seemed perfect for each other. Unfortunately, however, there was one huge fly in the ointment. Paul was married to Jacqueline "Jackie" Witte, a stage actress, whom he wed on December 27, 1949. Paul and Jackie had three children, a son named Scott Newman (born September 23, 1950) and two daughters, Susan Kendall Newman (born February 21, 1953) and Stephanie Newman (born 1954). Jackie gave up acting when she had the children.

Jackie Witte

In his biography of Paul Newman, author Shawn Levy writes about "a friend" who commented that that Paul and Joanne's romance was "more of an ordeal than a courtship. Paul was torn between his loyalty to his children and honesty with his feelings for Joanne. And Joanne, who was friendly with Jackie, suffered torments at finding herself in the role of a home-wrecker."  According to Levy, Paul said he would carry the guilt with him forever.

In the mid-1950s, Joanne moved back and forth between New York and California.  In 1955, she was cast in her first major Hollywood film role, a post-Civil War Western entitled Count Three and Pray. By 1957, Joanne had starred in two huge hits for 20th Century Fox, The Three Faces of Eve and No Down Payment.  At the age of 27, she was Hollywood's newest star. Meanwhile, Paul's career was also on the rise and his work increasingly brought him to Tinseltown, where Joanne was filming The Three Face of Eve, in which she portrayed a woman with three different personalities - a Southern housewife, a vixen and an ordinary young woman.

The Three Faces of Eve made Joanne a mega star.  By the time she and Paul were cast in a film called The Long Hot Summer, both their acting careers and their love affair had bloomed.  They spent a couple of months together on location in Louisiana.  The film made them Hollywood's hottest couple and Jackie, who had been reluctant to divorce Paul, finally agreed to let him go.

On January 29, 1958, soon after his divorce was finalized, Joanne Woodward married Paul Newman in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Their wedding reception was held at El Rancho hotel-casino.  They then flew to London, England for their honeymoon.  On April 8, 1959. Joanne gave birth to the couple's first child, Elinor Teresa "Nell" Newman, who was named after Joanne and Paul's mothers.  Two more daughters followed: Melissa Steward "Lissy" Newman, (born September 17, 1961) and Claire Olivia "Clea" Newman (born April 21, 1965).

Woodward and Newman in their heyday

On March 26, 1958, Joanne Woodward received an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her outstanding performance in The Three Faces of Eve.  She wore a handmade emerald green satin gown and John Wayne presented her with her Oscar.

Joanne Woodwrd with her Oscar in 1958

In 1969, Joanne was again nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in the 1968 film Rachel, Rachel.  The film, directed by Paul Newman, was based on a by a Margaret Laurence novel called A Jest of God.and Joanne won high praise for her portrayal of Rachel Cameron, a conflicted 30-something school teacher who lived with her mother.

Joanne also starred as Beatrice, an eccentric, widowed mother of two daughters in 1972's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.  The film, based on the Pullizer Prize-winning play by Paul Zindel, was directed by Paul Newman.

In 1974, Joanne received her third Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Rita Walden, a depressed New York housewife, in the film Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams.  In 1976, Woodward appeared in Sybil, a two-part TV mini series based on the true story of a young woman whose abusive childhood caused her to develop 16 different personalities.  Joanne played Dr. Cornelia Wibur, the psychologist who diagnosed Sybil (Sally Field),

On November 20, 1978, tragedy struck the Newman family when Paul's only son, Scott Newman, died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 28.  Scott, an actor, was best known for his performances in The Towering Inferno (1974) and Breakheart Pass (1975).  He died in Los Angeles of a barbiturate overdose.  

Scott Newman
By the late 1970s, Joanne had largely stopped performing in feature films and had begun to appear more often on television.  She appeared in several TV movies such as Come Back, Little Sheba (1977), See How She Runs (1978), A Christmas to Remember (1978), The Streets of L.A. (1979)

In the early 1980s, Joanne continued to perform in various television films such as The Shadow Box (1980), Crisis at Central High, (1981) and Passions (1984).  In the late 1980s, Joanne returned to college to complete her degree.  In 1990, along with daughter Claire, she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York  Paul Newman delivered the commencement address.

In 1991, Joanne received her fourth Academy Award nomination Best Actress in Leading Role for her performance in Mr. & Mrs. Bridge.  Woodward and Newman starred in the 1990 Merchant Ivory film with Joanne playing India Bridge, alongside Paul, who played her husband, Walter Bridge, the conservative patriarch of an upper-class World War II family.

In the year 2000, Joanne persuaded Paul to join in her for a one-week run in A.R. Gurney's play Ancestral Voices.  From 2001 to 2005, Woodward served as artistic director of the Westpoint County Playhouse.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward made their home in Westport, Connecticut, not in the Los Angeles area.  Back in 1957, Joanne told Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham that she didn't dislike Hollywood but she'd "never become adjusted to it."  She said, "Hollywood as a small town, like the one where I was born.  I spent all my life trying to get away from it.  Everything in Hollywood is small town.  Everyone knows everyone's business."

In 2005, Joanne and Paul starred in Empire Falls, HBO's adaptation of Richard Russo's best-selling novel.  This highly acclaimed mini-series won a number of awards, including Prime Time Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.  It was Paul Newman's final onscreen role and the last time he acted with Joanne.  He died of lung cancer in 2008 at the age of 83.


* Joanne Woodward's brother, Wade, worked for the Bell Bomber and later became an architect.

*  In February of 1960, Joanne Woodward received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Although she is often cited as the first to receive a star on the famed walk, there really was  no "first" recipient.  The individual stars were installed as an ongoing project and there were no individual ceremonies.  Joanne, however, was the first to pose with her star for photographers.

- Joanne

Monday, September 25, 2017

Singer Gary Lewis: Jerry Lewis left his son out of his will

It would be difficult to find a rock & roll star - and that was what he was for two years in the mid-'60s - less likely than Gary Lewis, or a less probable chart-topping act than Gary Lewis & the Playboys. Lewis himself was possessed of a limited singing range and didn't have what could be considered good looks, yet with a lot of help he managed to make some exceptionally good (and good-selling) records out of Los Angeles, in the midst of the British Invasion, and teenagers loved him. 

- Bruce Eder, Ravi
From Billboad website

Gary Lewis is the eldest child of the late comedian Jerry Lewis and his first wife, singer Patti Palmer. The legendary comic passed away on August 20, 2017 of  heart failure at the age of 91.  His son Gary, a musician, led the popular 1960s band, Gary Lewis & the Playboys.

Gary Harold Lee Levitch (Jerry Lewis' real last name was Levitch) was born on July 31, 1946 in Los Angeles, California.  At the time, his mother, Patti, sang with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra.  She and Jerry Lewis married in 1945, formally separated in 1980 and divorced in 1983.  They had six sons: Gary, Ronald Steven "Ronnie" Lewis, Anthony Joseph Lewis, Christopher Joseph Lewis, Scott Anthony Lewis and Joseph Lewis.  Joseph, their youngest son, died of a drug overdose in 2009 at the age of 45.

Patti Palmer: photo credit: crown022002

Jerry, Patti and sons 

Patti had intended to name her firstborn "Cary," after actor Cary Grant.  However, due to some kind of clerical error, he ended up being called "Gary."  During the 1950s, Gary Lewis spent his pre-teen years in Las Vegas, Nevada, where his father and Dean Martin performed at the Sands Hotel.   “I was a cocky, rich kid,” Lewis said in a 2007 telephone interview with Anthony Violanti for the Ocola Star Banner.  “I tried to listen and learn how to handle things from my father but I had to find out the hard way. I had some tough times but things worked out.”

In 1960, Gary was gifted with a set of drums for his 14th birthday.  Four years later, he formed a band named Gary and the Playboys with four friends: David Costell, David Walker and Al Ramsey on guitar and John West on keyboard.  At first, Gary was the drummer and guitarist Dave Walker was the lead singer.  When two of the band members turned up late for rehearsal one day, Gary jokingly labelled them "Playboys." That was the origin of the group's name.

In 1964, Gary's band performed at Disneyland without disclosing that Gary was the son of Jerry Lewis.  Record producer Snuff Garrett, although a neighbour of the Lewis family, was not aware of this until he was tipped off by a mutual friend, conductor Lou Brown.  After listening to the band, Garrett believed that using Gary's famous last name, might sell records.  He persuaded them to change their name to Gary Lewis & the Playboys and brought them into a recording studio.  He also employed top musicians, such as Leon Russell, to play on Lewis’ records.

In the mid-1960s, Gary Lewis & the Playboys had a huge hit with a song called "This Diamond Ring."  On February 20, 1965, "This Diamond Ring" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Lewis’ group had a string of other hits in 1965 and 1966, including "Green Grass,” “Count Me In” and “Same Your Heart For Me."  The band also had a big hit with a song called “Everybody Loves A Clown,” which Gary wrote for his father.  In an interview with Villages-News, Gary revealed that the song was written just for his father and he didn’t intend to record it at first.  “I was writing the song as a gift for my father on his birthday,” Lewis explained. “But it sounded so good, I thought it could be a hit.  So I recorded it. I forgot what I gave my father that year for his birthday. Maybe it was a bowling ball.”

Gary Lewis & the Playboys

Gary Lewis & the Playboys had a total of eight gold singles and four gold albums.  At the peak of their popularity, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Shindig!, The Mike Douglas Show and The Tonight Show . . .  Starring Johnny Carson.  At the time of British Invasion, however, they failed to make an impact in Britain.

By the end of 1965, only Gary Lewis and John West remained from the original band members. Later band members included Tommy Tripplehorn (father of actress Jeanne Tripplehorn,, Carl Radle, who died 1980), Jimmy Karstein, Randy Ruff, Pete Vrains, Bob Simpson, Adolph Zeugner, Les John, Wayne Bruno, and Dave Gonzalez.

Gary Lewis took a break from his career when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967.  He served during the time of the Vietnam War and was posted overseas with the Eighth Army in Seoul, South Korea. When he returned to civilian life in 1968, he resumed recording and reached the top 40 for the last time with a top 20 remake Bryan Hyland's Sealed With A Kiss.  The group, however was unable to recover its earlier momentum and Gary soon discovered that music tastes had changed during his short stint overseas.  In a July 27, 1992 "Where are they Now?" interview with People magazine, Gary described his unhappy situation: “When I realized there was no market for [my music], I started hitting the bottle hard." (He entered a rehab program around 1987).

In that 1992 interview with People, Gary admitted that he hadn't spoken to his dad "since Father's Day."  "It’s been on and off all the time," he said, "Just one of those things. I know how he is.  I try to give him a break."

In the late 1960s, according to Villages-News, Gary Lewis had a "falling out" with his father.  They apparently reconciled and Gary continued to appear with his father and perform at the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon. Gary, however, later became involved in a situation that jeopardized his relationship with his famous father.  In 2009, the pop singer was back in the headlines after agreeing to submit to a  DNA test on behalf of a woman who believed she was the biological daughter of Jerry Lewis (The results indicated an 88.7 percent probability that the woman, Suzan Minoret, who goes by Suzan Lewis, is related to Gary Lewis).

In March of 2009, Gary told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he was willing to take the DNA test "because nobody else was stepping forward."  He said. "I knew how bad I would want to know if I didn’t know who my father was. I’d want someone to help me.  My dad may think of it as a betrayal, but I didn’t mean to stir anything up."  In the Review Journal interview, Gary commented on his father's past infidelities.  "My mother used to say, ‘I know your dad is with other women’ and she would say ‘The bigger the diamond the worst thing he did.’  "Dad told me himself he was a tremendous womanizer when he was on the road with Dean Martin."

Jerry Lewis' legally separated from wife Patti in 1980 after 35 years of marriage and the breakup was quite bitter.  In 1983, Lewis married his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, a former flight attendant.  The couple adopted a daughter named Danielle Sara Lewis in 1992.  Danielle is now 25 years old.

After the decline of his music career, Gary experienced financial difficulties.  In order to make ends meet, he opened a music store in Los Angeles, gave guitar and drum lessons and made several unsuccessful comeback tries.  He continued touring with the band, eventually marketing himself as a nostalgia act.  Gary Lewis & the Playboys folded in 1970, but a version of the group later resumed touring, particularly at veteran's benefits.

More recent photo of Gary Lewis

Gary Lewis, now 71 years old, is currently in the news because he and his brothers have been explicitly left out of his father's will.  Jerry Lewis "intentionally excluded" all his sons and their descendants from inheriting anything from his estate, according to documents recently obtained by the Blast and People.  The will was executed in 2012, after son Joseph's death, and it acknowledges that Joseph is deceased.

The sole beneficiaries of the comedian's estate are his second wife SanDee and daughter Danielle. In a September 22, 2017 article in the Los Angeles Times, Nadine Saad,writes:  "Lewis is said to have cut ties with his other children after adopting Danielle as  newborn."


* Gary Lewis has been married three times.  His first wife was Sara Jane "Jinky" Suzara, whom he met during a 1967 tour in the Philippines with his band.  They wed nine months later, on March 11, 1967. According to a July 26, 2014 article in Rebeat magazine by Allison Johnelle Boron,  Gary adopted a son named John and also had a daughter, Sara, with Sarah Jane. Their marriage lasted until 1970.

Gary's second wife was Patty Barrett, with whom he moved to the Cleveland area in 1980.  The two lived in Lakewood, Ohio and then Aurora, Ohio.  Gary has been married to his third wife, Donna Grow, sine 2003 and they live near Rochester, New York.

* In 2007, Gary told the Ocola Star Banner that his father never never strongly encouraged him to follow in his footsteps.  “My dad always told me, do what you want in life, but do with all your heart and give a hundred percent,” Gary said. “My dad never pushed me into comedy. I always knew if I went into comedy I would never have an identity of my own. I would always be compared to him.”

* At a 2016 concert at the Savannah Center in The Villages, Florida, Gary's show started with a film clip, showing him as a child, singing a duet with Jerry Lewis. “I adore him because he’s my first born,” the elder Lewis declared.

Gary and Jerry Lewis

- Joanne

Friday, September 22, 2017

First Day of Autumn: Thoughts and Quotations

Today is the first day of autumn.  I revel in the season and the beautiful fall foliage.  For me, the delights of fall include the crisp autumn air, Canadian Thanksgiving, the World Series, the beginning of the hockey season, the pungent aroma of pumpkins, and the shiny orange Harvest Moon.  Autumn, however, is bittersweet.  The trees will soon be bare and year's death is approaching. Such are the rhythms of life.

Here are some thoughts on the day of the autumn equinox:

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night; and thus he would never know the rhythms that are at the heart of life.

Essentially, autumn is the quiet completion of spring and summer. Spring was all eagerness and beginnings, summer was growth and flowering. Autumn is the achievement summarized, the harvested grain, the ripened apple, the grape in the wine press. Autumn is the bright leaf in the woodland, the opened husk on the bittersweet berry, the fruit of asters at the roadside. 

Another equinox occurs, and by those charts and markers we use to divide time and measure our lives, today is autumn.  For a little while now, days and nights will be almost equal, dawn to dusk, dusk to dawn, and the sun will rise and set almost true east and west.  Then it will be October, tenth month of our twelve-month year, and moving toward the winter solstice.  

So much for the arbitrary boundaries, which are for the almanacs and the record books., even less imperative than the figures on a sundial.  The autumn with which we live is as variable as the wind, the weather, the land itself.  Its schedule is that of the woodland trees, the wild grasses, the migrant birds. 

- Hal Borland (1900-1978), American author, journalist and naturalist

"I'm dreading fall.  It is a terrifying season," he says . . . "Everything shriveling up and dying."  I don't know how to answer.  Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty; as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.  I've never thought to be frightened of it.

- Lauren DeStefano (1984- ), American author
From Wither (The Chemical Garden. Book 1) [2011]

You expected to be sad in the fall.  Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and cold, wintry light.  But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.  when the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), American author
From A Moveable Feast

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.

- J.K. Rawling (1965- ), British author
From Harry Potter adn the Deathly Hallows

- Joanne

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Notes From a Film Lover

I am, and have always been, an unabashed movie fan.  The city of Toronto, where I live, is a great locale for film buffs.  Right now, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is underway.  TIFF is one of the largest publicly attended festivals on the planet.  It was founded in 1976 as "The Festival of Festivals," at time when Hollywood studios shunned North American festivals. Since then, TIFF has morphed into one of the world's greatest celebrations of film and filmmaking, attracting movie fans and film stars from around the globe.

Toronto is a wonderful place for documentary lovers too and it is home to the Rogers Hot Doc Cienema.  The Hot Doc Festival takes place in late April and early May at various theatres in the city, including, of course, the Rogers Hot Doc.

Often times, I lament the demise of the traditional movie theatres in my hometown.  To me, the majestic old theatres were the best.  However, the days of beautiful decor and grand balconies are long gone.  Very few have survived in Toronto and some have been turned into "Pottery Barns" and pharmacies ("Shoppers Drug Mart").  It pains me to think what has happened to those magnificent cinemas but there is no going back.

For years, theatre companies, especial Cineplex/Odeon, have been showing multiple films at once because they want to make as much profit as possible.  Cineplex is much too corporate for my taste. I resent having to sit through a half hour of mostly commercials before the main feature begins.  I wish I could watch a cartoon or a movie short instead.

There often isn't much choice but to view the ads, particularly on a busy Saturday night.  If you don't settle into your seats early, there may only be single seats in the front rows left by the time the "preshow" ends and the actual movie begins.

As for Cineplex's fancy VIP theatres with food and wine served to your seats, I could do without that. Popcorn is good enough for me.  I prefer to dine at a restaurant.  Unfortunately, though, the prices at Cineplex concession standards are outrageously exorbitant.  I call it highway robbery. You pay twice as much as for the same items at a convenience store.

One thing I really like about Cineplex, however, is the stadium seating.  I am small and I dread having a tall person sit in front of me at other theatres.  For taller people, there is lots of space and leg room at Cineplexes.

Anyway, in these times of Trump, climate change and  hurricanes, we are in dire need of some harmless escapism and a distraction.  So, pass the popcorn, please.  The next feature is about to begin.

- Joanne

Saturday, September 2, 2017

How To Help Your Child Learn To Read

Do you want to foster a good learning environment for your children?  Here is a very informative infographic on helping children to read.  It provides tips on the best ways for children to learn.  It also explains reading problems that they encounter (dyslexia, ADHD etc.) and recommends children's books .  I hope you find it helpful and that it provides you with some insight.

- Joanne