Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cleveland, Alan Freed and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Hello again from Cleveland where I spent most of the day in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I have got to say that this pyramid-shaped glass building is a marvelous showcase. It's relatively new as it opened in 1995. If you are a music fan and happen to be in the area, this is a must-see.

Cleveland proclaims itself at the birth place of rock and roll. The first rock concert took place in this city. It was organized by famed disc jockey Alan Freed, the man who coined the term "rock and roll." The concert was called the Moondog Coronation Ball and it was held at the Cleveland Arena on March 21, 1952. Freed moved to New York City in 1954 and began broadcasting there on 1010 WINS AM. In 1959he was at the centre of a payola scandal. He was fired by his New York radio station and eventually pleaded guilty to 29 counts of commercial bribery. He received a $300 fine and 6 months suspended sentence. Alan Freed died a penniless alcoholic in Palm Springs, California in 1965. He was only 43 years old.

Freed's legacy lives on in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with its seven floors of exhibition space and numerous exhibits, interactive listening stations and films. There are displays of the stage clothes and guitars of many performers. The featured attraction at the hall right now is a fabulous exhibit on the life of Bruce Springsteen. It is called From Asbury Park to the Promised Land. For fans of the Boss, this is a real treat. There is also a great exhibit on the history of Motown that I enjoyed very much.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is conveniently located in downtown Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie. It is in close proximity to the Great Lakes Science Center, Burke Lakefront Airport and Cleveland Browns Stadium, home of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. We were able to walk to it easily from our hotel. Cleveland does not have a subway system but it has light rapid transit.

- Joanne

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio: All about the Buckeye State

TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2010


“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio. This is my first visit to Cleveland and to the great state of Ohio. Ohio is known as the Buckeye State. A buckeye is a type of nut and the state has many buckeye trees. The nickname is forever linked to the 1840 presidential election campaign of William Henry Harrison. Harrison was a Virginia-born Ohioan. His opponents dubbed him "the log cabin candidate." In response, Harrison's supporters designed his campaign emblem as a log cabin made of buckeye timbers with a string of buckeyes adorning its walls. Harrison's campaigners also walked with buckeye canes in parades. By the way, William Henry Harrison won the election and became the 9th president of the United States.

I attended a game at Progressive Field tonight between the Blue Jays and Cleveland. Unfortunately, the Jays were defeated by a score of 5-4. I was quite impressed by the ballpark. Despite the beautiful ballpark, attendance was low. Cleveland's team has been struggling this year. They are in last place in the American League Central Division and have had injuries to key players such as Grady Sizemore. They seem to be headed in the right direction as they have won 3 games straight. We spotted a few Jays fans in the stands.

We are going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow. There is a special exhibit on Motown. I'm really looking forward to it.

Note to a reader:

In 1863, John D. Rockefeller started a Cleveland, Ohio oil refining firm which was incorporated as the Standard Oil Company in 1870 I just had to look it up. It's the library researcher in me.

- Joanne

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I am preparing to go to Cleveland, Ohio for a few days. My husband and I will be driving there. We are planning to spend a night in Erie, Pennsylvania and then it's on to Cleveland. I have never been to Cleveland before and I am looking forward to seeing the city. We have purchased tickets for two baseball games because the Blue Jays are going to be in town. We'll also pay a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next Wednesday. On the way home, we'll make a stop at picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

We hit the road on Monday. So, Sixteeners, I'll be reporting to you from the USA.

- Joanne

Friday, June 25, 2010

Earthquake in Ontario

FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010

Well, Sixteeners, I experienced an earthquake for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. I was sitting at my computer when I felt some shaking and vibrating. For a moment I was frightened. I thought something was wrong with me. An earthquake never occurred to me because they are so rare in the Toronto area. When I turned on the television, I learned that there had been a magnitude 5.0 quake which originated about 65 kilometres northeast of Ottawa in Quebec and could be felt across Southwestern Ontario.

Canada was the recipient of some ribbing from comedian Stephen Colbert. He said that even our earthquakes are bland. I chuckled a bit, but I have to say, Stephen, if that's bland, I'll take it. I can do without the "excitement" of a more severe earthquake, thank you very much. By the way, in a future blog posting, I will address the perception that Canada is bland and that Canadian history is boring.

One year ago today, Michael Jackson, the King of Pop died. Yes, he was weird and he was extremely troubled. As the years passed, he became more and more eccentric and his behaviour incresingly bizarre. I always thought that he was a ticking time bomb just waiting to be detonated. On the Larry King Live program yesterday, Joan Rivers dismissed Jackson as a pedophile and a druggie. She also claimed that the moonwalk was no big deal, that anyone could walk backwards. As always, the truth is much more complicated than that. There are far more shades of grey.

It is not my place to judge Michael Jackson as a human being. If the allegations of pedophilia are true, he was certainly one sick individual and a criminal. Some would say it is naive to believe he did not pay off the parents of the children involved.

Michael Jackson was a man of immense talent and a magnificent entertainer. He was also the victim of celebrity and an emotionally unhealthy upbringing. It's sad and truly stomach-churning to think that a man who was deprived of a true childhood became a victimiizer of children himself. In the end, I can only say that Michael Jackson was a man blessed with an extraordinary talent whose half century of life was rife with tragedy and ended tragically. He was a person who was never confortable with himself and never seemed to like himself. Although he received an enormous amount of praise and adulation aa a performer, he never appeared to be satisified or content. His wealth and fame seemed to bring him a great deal of misery. It certainly led him to a premature death.


This is the anniversary of Custer's Last Stand. On this day in 1876, the United States military suffered a humiliating defeat. 134 years age, the Battle of Little Bighorn took place on the plains of southeastern Montana (present-day South Dakota). George Armstrong Custer and his men of the 7th Cavalry fell to ignonimous defeat when they attecked and battled Lakota Sioux warriors. The Battle of Little Bighorn claimed over 200 soldiers, including Custer himself. as several thousand warriors led by Sitting Bull fought for their land near what's now Crow Agency, Mont. The conflict was the result The U.S. government attempt to drive the natives off their land after gold was disovered in the Black Hills of what was then Montana.


The Blue Jays salvaged a game in their series against the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday. They blanked the Card 5-0. Brandon Morrow was the starting pitcher for the Jays and delivered eight scoreless innings. I've got to say I'm really impressed with him and the other members of the rotation. As much as I like Roy Halladay, I think it's for the best that he's gone to the Philadelphia Phillies. Speaking of Roy, the Jays play in Philly tonight and Doc is starting for Philly. They are playing under American League rules because the game was originaally scheduled for Toronto - until the G20 Summit circus changed all that.

Italy and France are both eliminated from the FIFA World Cup. They have a lot of explainin' to do back home.

- Joanne

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Air India Bombing and Vijaya Thampi



"Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."

— Oscar Wilde (The Critic as Artist)

That's one for all you dreamers on a summer day in June. I believe it's a good thing to be a dreamer - as long as one doesn't become too obsessed and nreasonable. I alo believe there is a correlation between dreaming and creativity. So, yes, I am proud to count myself among the dreamers of this world. I am definitely with Oscar Wilde on that one. After all, the witty Mr. Wilde was one of the world's most creative playwrights.


Today is a sober anniversary for Canadians. This is the 25th anniversary of the Air India bombing, the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history and the deadliest case of aviation terrorism until the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. On June 23, 1985, an airplane operating on the Montréal-London-Delhi-Bombay route. — a Boeing 747 - was blown up by a bomb while in Irish airspace and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The attack was orchestrated by Sikh extremists and all 329 people aboard Air India Flight 182 were killed, 280 of whom were Canadian. A quarter of a century later, their family and friends still mourn them and feel the pain of loss.

It always hits home when you can put a face to the victims of a disaster. One of the victims of Air India Flight 182 worked at my place of employment. Her name was Vijaya Thampi and she was a Toronto Star employee. She worked in the Human Resources Dept. and I worked in the library, but I recall speaking to her briefly.  I remember her as a very pleasant woman.and I will not forget her.   I'll be thinking about her today and all the other innocent victims of that doomed Air India flight.


I attended the Blue Jays game at the dome last night. The Jays began their series with the St. Louis Cardinals. They lost by a score of 9-4 even though Jose Bautista hit 2 home runs. Bautista now leads the major leagues in home runs with 20. Brett Cecil was the starting pitcher for the Jays and it was not one of his better performances. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind continue to strggle. This is very worrisome since they are the number 2 and 3 hitters in the batting order. Jarrett Hoffpauir, the new third basman for the Jays, made his debut last night and chalked up his first hit in a Blue Jays uniform.

The area around Union Station, the harbourfront and the dome resembles an armed camp due to that infernal G20 Summit. There are police and fences everywhere.

- Joanne

Monday, June 21, 2010

The First Day of Summer

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010

Today is the first day of summer, the day when we are blessed with the longest peiod of daylight in the evening. It is the summer solstice and a bittersweet day for me. Here's why. I enjoy daylight in the evening. In fact, I revel in it. However, after today, the sun will set earlier. There's something sad about that even though longer days will return after December 21st. So I am going to savour every moment of the long, lazy summer evenings. I hope you do too.

Here is a poem with a summer theme that I wrote.

Summer Night

You came to me on a soft summer night
When the air was sultry and serene
I took your hand as we walked in the light
Of a garden ripe and lushly green
And we drank of sweet jasmine in the air
We gazed on blossoms and bumblebees
I saw the moonlight shine ujpon your hair
As you sat beneath the cherry trees
Then we took a path to the lily pond
Stepping on stones and brittle branches
And there we quietly sealed our bond
With gilded dreams and winsome glances.

- Joanne Madden

Today marks a significant day in the history of women in Canada. For it was on this day in 1957 that Ellen Louks Fairclough was sworn in as Canada's first woman Cabinet Minister. She became Secretary of State in the minority government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

After the Diefenbaker sweep in the electon of 1958, Fairclough was promoted to a post of considerable difficulty and more responsiblity - Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. At that time the position included responsibility for the Royal Canadian Mint, the National Film Board, the National Gallery and the Public Archives/National Library. Indian Affairs was also under Ellen Fairclough's jurisdiction. In 1960, she introduced the historic legislation allowing Status Indians the right to vote in federal elections, a significant breakthrough for Aborignianl Canadians.

Born in Hamilton Ontario in 1905, Ellen Fairclough was first elected as a federal MP in 1950. During the course of her political career, she was elected to the House of Commons five times - more than any other woman during she 1950s and 1960s. It is also notable that Ellen Fairclough was the first female Acting Prime Minister of Canada. After her defeat in the election in 1963, she returned to her roots in Hamilton.

Fairclough was an advocate of equal pay for equal work for women. In 1975, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Province of Ontario. In 1995, Ellen Fairclough became a Companion of the Order of Canada. At a time when men thorouhly dominated the Canadian political scene, Ellen Fairclough was a pioneer and a trailblazer. She lived a long and fruitful life and died on November 13, 2004 at the age of 99.

Britain's Prince William turns 28 years old today. His father, Prince Charles, will turn 62 on November 14th. Queen Elizabeth II is 84 years old, the eldest monarch in British history. If the Queen lives until the age of 101, as her mother did, Charles will ascend to the throne at the age of 79. It is interesting to note that Henry VIII was a mere lad of 17 when he became king. Henry died at age 55.


The Blue Jays have today off. They begin a series with the St. Louis Cardinals tomorrow.

Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnación was sent down to the minors.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2010


To become a father is not hard,
To be a father is, however.

- William Busch
From "Julchen" {1877}

It certainly isn't easy to be a father. So many fathers are unsung heroes. They are undervalued and underapprciated. That is why on this Father's Day, I salute fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, especially my own father, Sam Lima. They deserve recognition and appreciation - not just on Father's Day but every day of the year.

A happy birthday to Canada's songbird, Anne Murray. Anne was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia on this day in 1945.

On this day in 1948, The Ed Sullivan Show made its debut on CBS. It was originally called Toast of the Town. The first telecast of Ed's show was produced on a budget of $1,375. The performers on that first Sullivan show included Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Martin and Lewis split the $200 they received for their performance.

The Ed Sullivan Show ran until 1971. Through the years, so many great artists appeared on that show and so many families gathered around the television on Sunday nights to watch Ed's program. But how show do you explain the success of The Ed Sullian Show in the age of Simon Cowell and American Idol? Here's what The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946 - Present says about the Ed Sullivan Show.

"If sny program in the history of American television could be called an institution , it would probably be The Ed Sullivan Show. Every Sunday night for more than two decades this homely newspaper columnist with peculiar diction and awkward gestures brought an incredible variety of entertainment into American homes. No pandering to the lowest common denominator here - there was grand opera and the latest rock stars, classical ballet and leggy Broadway showgirls, slapstick comedy and recitations from great dramatic writings, often justaposed on a single telecast. Viewers loved it."

Would Ed's formula work today? It probably wouldn't because times have changed too much.


Yesterday the Blue Jays won their second game in a row against the San Francisco Giants. I attended the first game of the series on Friday night at the dome. Edwin Encarnación was the hero. In my blog of June 17th, I was highly critical of Encarnación's play. I ought to criticize him more often.

Congratulations to Dion Phaneuf for chosen as the new captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's about time the Leafs had a captain. Good luck Dion - you'll need it.

- Joanne

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Open Letter to Michael Ignatieff


An open letter to Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Dear Mr. Ignatieff:

These are difficult times for you. No one has to remind you that the polls do not appear favourable to you and your party. Frankly, the Liberal Party seems to be in disarray and your leadership is in jeopardy. I’m sure you are quite aware of the problems you face, but I doubt that you really know why you are not connecting with the public. These are blunt words, but they need to be said.

Who am I to be telling you this? Well, I am one of your constituents and I am one of those voters you seek to attract. Yes, you are my Member of Parliament and I am a resident of your riding – Etobicoke-Lakeshore. You would do well to pay close attention to the grass roots of your constituency.

I have never spoken to you. During the election campaign of 2006, you paid a visit to my place of residence. I was at work, so I did not get an opportunity to converse with you. However, you spoke with my husband. When I asked him his impression of you, he told me you were very erudite and well spoken. He also told me that your manner and appearance reminded him of U.S. Senator John Kerry, defeated Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States.

The comparison between you and Senator Kerry is quite interesting. Kerry hails from Massachusetts and you served as Director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard University. During the American election of 2004, John Kerry challenged the incumbent president, George W. Bush, and we all know the result. Bush won a second term in office because Kerry did not draw enough distinction between himself and the Republican candidate. He failed to clearly define his policies and how they would differentiate from those of George W. Bush. At times, he tried to be Bush Lite, even appearing in hunting gear to in an attempt curry favour with the powerful National Rifle Association.

American voters did not want Bush Lite. They determined that that was all the Democrats had to offer and they rejected it. They chose Classic Bush instead. The Kerry-Bush election parallels what is happening in Canada. The polls indicate that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not wildly popular. Many voters are hungry for change and hungry for leadership. There are many Canadians who disagree with the Conservative government’s policies on health care, the environment and gun control. You would gain support, especially in Quebec, if you would strongly articulate their concerns.

Publicly funded health care in Canada is under siege. I have not heard you strongly defend it? Why are you not championing that cause? Why are you not travelling across this great land and shouting to the rooftops that Canadians value public health care and that a Liberal government will do everything in its power to preserve and protect it?

Canada’s record on the environment is an embarrassment. I have heard you praise Alberta’s oil industry, but where are your strong words on the environment? Yes, I realize you are trying to improve Liberal fortunes in Western Canada, but does it have to be at the expense of the environment? Perhaps you are wary of speaking up strongly on the environment due to the experience of your predecessor, Stephane Dion - but are you doing any better in the polls than he did?

Then there is the issue of gun control. The Conservative government is attempting to abolish the gun long-gun registry and it wishes to weaken gun control laws. You have come out in support of the registry, but you have not made it a prominent issue. Why not?

Mr. Ignatieff, your academic achievements are impressive, but they will not win the hearts and minds of Canadians. Given the choice, voters will always choose Classic Harper over Harper Lite. If you do not wish to suffer John Kerry’s fate, offer Canadians a clear alternative. Offer them the Real Thing.


Joanne Madden

Thursday, June 17, 2010



I never dared be radical when young
For fear it would make me conservative when old.

- Robert Frost {1936}

This poem by Robert Frost is short, but does it ever have impact! It plays with the nottion that it is normal and necessary for youth to rebel and that when we age we always become more conservative in our thinking and behaviour.


Today's topic is redundancies.

We use redundancies in our speech all the time. Here are some common examples:

1. honest truth

Well, if the truth isn't honest, then what is it?

2. tuition fee

Tuition is a fee, so why do we need to say "fee"?

3. forewarn

Why is that word even necessary? One always warn someone beforehand, not after the fact. Wouldn't "warn" suffice?

4. bare naked

Hey, I think most people know this is a redundancy. They just like saying it. That's why a certain Canadian band chose it as part of their name.


On this day in 1239, King Edward I of England was born. Edward had two nicknames. He was called "Longshanks" because of his long arms and legs, He was tall for aman of his time, over 6 feet. His second nickname was "Hammer of the Scots" because of his ongoing determination to battle Scotland.

Edward I conquered Wales and made his son the first Prince of Wales. He is also notorious for doing something absolutely egregious to the minds of most 21st century persons. In 1290, Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England. The edict lasted for the duration of the Middle Ages and was not formally overturned until the year 1656.


The Blue Jays finally won a series from a National League team as they defeated the San Diego Padres yesterday by a score of 7-1. They finish their 9-game road trip with a mediocre 3-6 record.

Edwin Encarnación does not look good at third base for the Jays. The team desperately needs an upgrade at third. I'm sure General Manager Alex Anthopoulos is quite aware of the situation and will act accordingly.

- Joanne

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Valentina Tereshkova: The First Woman in Space


How many North Americans remember the first woman in space? How many know her name? Not very many, I'd venture to say. Well, she was a Russian, a Soviet cosmonaut and an ardent communist. Perhaps that is why she's not exactly a household name in this part of the world.

The first female in space was Valentina Tereshkova and she flew on the Vostok 6 mission which was launched on June 16, 1963 - forty-seven years ago today. Tereshkova was neither an acclaimed scientist nor an academic. She was an ordinary Russian woman, a textile mill worker whose passion was parachuting. In fact, she became an expert civilian parachutist. Valentina Tereshkova is 73 years old now and is revered in her Russian homeland.

It's interesting to note that the Americans did not send a female astronaut into space until twenty years later when Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman to achieve that goal. Ride, a physicist from California, was lauched into space on June 18, 1983 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Canada sent its first female astronaut into space on January 22, 1992. Roberta Bondar spent eight days in space conducting various experiments and photographing the earth's surface. Dr. Bondar was a crew member of the Space Shuttle Discovery and the first neurologist in space.


"When I think about those nights in Montreal
I get the sweetest thoughts of you and me"

- Gino Vannelli
From the song "I Just Wanna Stop"

I really like that song. It energizes me.

Gino Vannelli was born in Montreal, Quebec (where else?) on this day in 1952. He turns 58-years-old today.


After winning the first game of their series against the San Diego Padres on Monday , the Blue Jays lost badly to the Padres last night. Their woes against National League teams continue.

Sports Illustrated chose baseball's latest pitching sensation to grace the cover of its latest edition. Stephen Strasburg, the rookie pitcher for the Washington Nationals is hyped on the magazine's cover as a "national treasure." I have nothing against young Strasburg. He may be the second coming of Cy Young and he may be in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown someday. But the operative word is "someday." The story that should have made the cover of SI was the Stanley Cup victory of the Chicago Blackhawks after 49 years. That was a definite achievement and it was histories. To those who say I'm biased because I'm a Canadian puckhead, this is my reply. I am a staunch baseball fan, as regular readers of Number 16 will attest. Sory, Sports Illustrated, but this time you made the wrong choice.

- Joanne

Monday, June 14, 2010

Paris, the City of Light

MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2010

"Paris sera toujours Paris!"
Paris will always be Paris!

I first listened to that old Maurice Chevalier song during a high school history class and I have never forgotten it. It comes to mind because on this day in 1940, German troops entered Paris during World War II. Seventy years ago, there were Nazis marching through the streets of the City of Light and carrying swastika banners. To a teenager, seventy years may seem like an eternity and 1940 may seem like the Dark Ages. However, in the scheme of human history, seventy years is not a long time. Such is the irony of war that today Germany and France enjoy cordial relations and they are both members of the European Union.

When I toured Paris in the summer of 2004, it was very difficult to imagine that the evil of Nazism had once infested one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. Not quite three years had passed since 9/11 when I visted the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Yet, I was still a bit stunned to witness young soldiers with machine guns guarding the Paris landmark. Having lived in Toronto all my life, I had never before seen soldiers with machine guns. In 1940, no one could have envisioned that in 2001 there would be a terrorist attack on some twin towers in New York City. As the French say, "Plus ca change . . .


Well, the Blue Jays lost all their games in Denver. They were swept by the Colorado Rockies and they leave the Mile High City on a low note. Sigh. Why can't they win against National League teams? Until they improve their record against the NL, they will not be serious contenders. Like it or not, interleague play is a reality and not likely to cease anytime soon.

- Joanne

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vince Lombardi and winning

FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2010

"Winning isn't everything - but wanting to win is."

- Vince Lombardi

Yes, Sixteeners, you read that correctly. The late great football coach Vince Lombardi did not say "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." His words have been commonly misquoted. If you read the two quotes carefully, there is a big difference between what Lombardi actually said and what has been attributed to him. Lombardi obviously believed that the desire to win is everything.

Vincent Thomas Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, was born in Brooklyn, New York on this day in 1913.


The Blue Jays were able to salvage one game in their series with the Tampa Bay Rays. They won by a score of 3-1 last night. Brett Cecil pitched a good game. The Jays were really drubbed in the first two games. They were outscored by an embarrassing total of 19-1 in those two games.

The FIFA World Cup begins in South Africa. The sport that we in North America call soccer, has also been called "the beautiful game." Congratulations to South Africa. I hope the tournament is a spectacular celebration of the game.

I'm disappointed there will not be a team there wearing the maple leaf emblem. The first and only time Canada qualified for the World Cup was in 1986 when it was held in Mexico. Pity we haven't qualified since then . . .

- Joanne

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Judy Garland poem


On this day in 1922, a baby girl was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota by the name of Frances Ethel Gumm. You know her better as Judy Garland, the great singer/actress. As successful and talented as Judy was, her life was sad and tragic in many ways. She died on June 22, 1969 in London, England of an accidental overdose of barbituates. She had recently celebrated her 47th birthday.

I want to share with you a very melancholy poem written by Judy that appears in Judy Garland: A Biography by Anne Edwards.

An Illusion

How strange when an illusion dies
It's as though you've lost a child
Whom you've cherished and protected
Against the wilds of the storms and hurts
In this frightening world.
Your child is dead.
An hyterical frenzy possesses you
Your precious, virtuous dram has been taken,
Torn from you defensive, guarding breast.
Next a morose loneliness`descends
You're a pitiful stumbling creature
Lost in the woods of despair.
Suddenly you see a light.
You straighten, and walk with steady footsteps into the sun
Time has done her work.
Your dream is gone - yes -
And you light a candle in your heart
In a remembrance of something never to be recovered,
But deep in your soul, in its embryonic state,
another illusion is maturing
Waiting to grow strong and radiant
Only to be crushed and join the other.

- Judy Garland

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961 - 49 years ago. The last time the Hawks won hockey's most coveted trophy, John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister of Canada and JFK was President of the U.S. Wayne Gretzky was born in January of 1961, so Number 99 was a mere babe-in-arms when the Hawks last sipped from Lord Stanley's Cup. A certain Barack Obama was also born in 1961 in Hawaii. President Obama made his debut in August of '61, so he was nestled comfortably in his mother's womb when the Hawks last won the Cup.

The Chicago Blackhawks will pay a visit to President Obama at the White House. It is widely known that the president is not a hockey fan. He much prefers baseball and basketball, which isn't surprising since he spent his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia. However, Obama has lived much of his adult life in Chicago. His favourite baseball team is the Chicago White Sox and he is married to a Chicagoan. First Lady Michelle Obama was born in and grew up on the South Side of Chicago For many years, the Obamas made their home in the Windy City and will mostly likely return there after the president serves his time in office.

President Obama has had ample opportunity to attend a Chicago Blackhawks game or a Washington Capitols game. To my knowledge, he hasn't. When he was interviewed by the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, he told Mansbridge that he had never been to a hockey game. The interest is obviously not there. Hey, I wonder if Barack Obama has ever skated on ice.

- Joanne

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On Charles Dickens and Quote from A Tale of Two Cities


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

- Charles Dickens
From "A Tale of Two Cities"

These opening words from A Tale of Two Cities repreent Dickens at his finest. This is one of my favourite passages in English literature and I have reflected uppon these words countless times. It is appropriate to share them with you on this June day because Charles Dickens, the great English author of the Victorian Age, died on this date in 1870. He was 58 years old. The characters he created are unforgettable - Scrooge, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist etc. Charles Dickens lives on in his literary creeations and he should also be remembered as a great advocate for social justice.


My Blue Jays were trounced 9-0 by the Tampa Bay Rays last night. That Tampa Bay team really has the Jays number. We didn't win very many games against them when they were a struggling expansion team and we certainly aren't having an easy time with them now that they are a good team. It remainds of the problems the Jays used to have with the Milwaukee Brewers.

- Joanne

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



"No home should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other."

- Frank Lloyd Wright
"An Autobiography" {1932}

Frank Lloyd Wright, the great American architect and designer, was born in Wisconsin on this day in 1867. One of his masterpieces is the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.


Taxpayers are going to have to fork out 1 billion dollars to pay the security bill for the G20 Summit in Toronto. As far as I am concerned, this is outrageous and obscene. With all the technology available today, there has to be a better way for politicians to exchange ideas. Yes, I know we can't risk any harm coming to a world leaders. Yes, I realize that in a post-9/11 world, the cost of security is high. Yes, I am aware that leaders must meet and discuss matters. But why must they meet in the centre of a big city and dine on gourmet food while they make plans to cut deficits and downsize? All that money could be put to far better use - how about health care and education? How about programs for youth or programs to alleviate poverty? You can sure feed a lot of hungry people with 1 billion dollars. Instead, the lives of Toronto's citizens are going to be disrupted and the city is going to be at risk for terrorism and vandalism. It's not worth it.

Another stunning waste of taxpayer's money was the Mulroney inquiry. A May 31, 2010 article from Torstar News Service says that "a two-year inquiry into Brian Mulroney’s dealings with German-Canadian arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber has concluded that the former prime minister acted in an “inappropriate” way when he accepted large amounts of cash from Schreiber . . . Estimates of the cost of the inquiry have reached $16 million—including $1.8 million for Mulroney's lawyers."

Why did we have to spend all those millions to conclude that the former prime minister behaved inappropriately? We already knew that. One more thing. If Mr. Mulroney were a man of honour, he would return to taxpayers the settlement he won in in his $50-million defamation lawsuit against the Canadian government. In 1997, Mulroney settled that lawsuit out of court for $2.1 million. That $2.1 million could also be used for health care and education.


The Blue Jays had an off-day yesterday. They start a series with Tampa Bay today.

- Joanne

Monday, June 7, 2010

1968: What a Year!

MONDAY, JUNE 7, 2010

Hello Sixteeners. This is the story of how I became an incorrigible and unrepentant newspaper junkie. It all started back in 1968 when I was an impressionable Grade 6 student. Every day a bundle of papers arrived at my school in suburban Toronto. Our teacher, a genial woman with a hearty laugh, advised us to keep a scrapbook of current events. She continually encouraged us to clip items of interest. For the first time, I learned about the purpose of an editorial page and all the various aspects of a newspaper. I listened intently and with wide-eyed fascination. At the age of 11, I was hopelessly and irreversibly hooked. It was the beginning of my life-long addiction to newspapers.

Each day I carefully perused the daily journal. Ah yes, 1968. What a year it was! Pierre Trudeau captivated a nation and I watched it happen. There were countless pictures of our flamboyant new prime minister. The man with the Roman haircut was everywhere and Canadians couldn't get enough of him. We took notice as he demonstrated his athletic prowess by swimming and diving effortlessly. We couldn't help grinning when we viewed  photos of our bachelor PM smiling shyly as women handed him roses and planted kisses on his cheek. He just oozed charisma and we started to believe that we had our own John F. Kennedy of the north.

Ah, yes, 1968. It was the Age of Aquarius. Flower power and youthful protests were the order of the day.  There were student riots in Paris.  It was also an Olympic year and skier Nancy Greene was our Canadian sweetheart, our hero. I carefully cut out articles about her gold medal victory in Grenoble, France and as the days passed, I filled my scrapbook.

In April of that year, the news became very solemn. South of the border, Martin Luther King was assassinated and there were race riots. Our class silently watched his funeral on a little black and white television. I noticed Bobby and Ethel Kennedy in the funeral procession, never dreaming that Bobby would be assassinated next.  In August, the promise of the "Prague Spring" was shattered as Soviet tanks entered the city.  As the year ended, we marvelled as Apollo 8 circled the moon.

Although many years have passed since 1968, I haven't changed a whit - at least as far as newspapers are concerned. I still delight in reading them and I have even developed my own system for doing so. Unless there is some momentous front page story, it is my custom to read the comics first. Then I focus on other matters such as international news, politics and sports. Long ago, I discovered that after a chuckle or two, stories about war, disaster and tragedy are much easier to swallow.

In addition to being a newspaper enthusiast, I am also a pack rat. I have several momentos from my early school days, including my kindergarten report card and my Grade 5 autograph book. For some reason, however, I neglected to save my Grade 6 scrapbook. That scrapbook exists only in my memory, but it has had a lasting effect on me.

I'll always be an unabashed newspaper reader because for me, being a witness to history is both enthralling and intoxicating. That is why my Grade 6 experiences left an indelible mark on my psyche. Although I did not grow up to be a news editor, I did eventually become a researcher at a newspaper library. As for my Grade 6 teacher, she took a maternity leave and the last time I saw her she was wheeling her baby in a grocery store. If I could speak to her today, I`d thank her for inspiring me.


The Chicago Blackhawks won convincingly last night in the fifth game of the Stanley Cup finals. Now I hope they can finish the job in the next game.

- Joanne

Sunday, June 6, 2010

SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2010

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John

- From the song "Abraham, Martin and John"
Lyrics by Marvin Gaye

On this day in 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy died after being gunned down by an assassin in a Los Angeles hotel. He had just won the California primary and was on his way to becoming the Democratic candidate for president of the United States. The final words of his victory speech still ring in my ears . . . "Now it's on to Chicago - and let's win there!"

Bobby, of course, never made it to Chicago for the Democratic Convention. His party chose Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota as its presidential nominee. Humphrey went on to lose the 1968 election to one Richard Milhous Nixon.

I know it's hypothetical, but I can't help wondering what would have happened if Robert Kennedy hadn't been assassinated. He probably would have won the presidency and Richard Nixon would never have reached the White House. There never would have been a Watergate scandal. Yes, I realize that this is all moot and purely academic, but sometimes a person can't help wondering . . . Sometimes it's very amusing and highly enlightening to ask "what if" questions.


Today is the 66th anniversary of D-Day. the Allied invasion of Europe. On this day in 1944, Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Codenamed Operation Overlord, it was the largest invasion force in military history.


Well, the Blue Jays took two out of three games from the New York Yankees. Of course I would have preferred a sweep of the Pinstripes, but two out of three isn't bad at all. I was at the game on Friday night and it was great to see a bigger crowd at the dome. There's more energy and excitement. Jose Bautista was sensational as he blasted two more homers. I don't know how long he can keep this up, but I'm really impressed. If the seasoned ended today, he would deserve to be the American League's MVP. He leads the league with 18 home runs. However, the season doesn't end today. I just hope Bautista continues to play well.

Yesterday, the Blue Jays defeated the Yanks 3-2 in a 14-inning marathon. This afternoon, in the final game of the series, they were defeated by a score of 4-2. They were winning 2-0 until the bullpen came into the game. It was unfortunate for Brandon Morrow because he pitched a really good game and didn't get a win. That's baseball!

Chicago and Philadelphia go at it again tonight in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Philly appears to have the momentum, but I hope a return to the Madhouse on Madison will help the Blackhawks.

- Joanne

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why I Support Strict Gun Control



"When a person excels at something, he should do something else in which he is a novice because that brings him down to earth."

- George Bernard Shaw


Here's what's on my mind today, Sixteeners. A 52-year-old taxi driver named Derrick Bird went on a rampage in Cumbria, England yesterday. He killed 12 people, including his own twin brother, before turning the gun on himself. There was speculation that the rampage was sparked by a family feud, but Bird's nieces denied that this was the case. Although Bird was convicted of theft in the 1990s, he was allowed to obtain a shotgun licence in 1995 and a firearms licence for a rifle in 2007. Why? When one is convicted of robbery or a violent crime, one should not be pemitted to own firearms.

Whenever an incident such as this occurs, it underlines the need for the strictist gun control laws possible. An individual convicted of theft should not have been allowed to obtain a shotgun licence or firearms licence.

My views will not make me popular with people in rural areas. They will not endear me to the National Firearms Association of Canada or the powerful National Rifle Association in the United States. I can't pretend to be what I am not. I do not live in a rural area. Although I am neither a hunter nor a farmer, it is not my intention to cavalierly dismiss their concerns. What I do not understand is why responsible gun owners feel so threatened by laws designed to protect society from deranged individuals. Nobody is stopping them from hunting or target shooting. It may be an inconvenience for them to register their guns or to undergo detailed backgound checks, but such measures are well worth the time and the cost. Too many guns find their way into the hands of unbalanced and mentally ill individuals such as Marc Lepine, the man who killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal or the young man who went on a murderous romp at Virginia Tech.

It is true that Britain has some pretty strict gun control laws, but they are obviously not strict enough to stop the Derrick Birds of this world. British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to do do everything he could to prevent a repeat of the Cumbrian tragedy. However, the prime minister cautioned against “knee-jerk” demands for tougher gun laws - saying that “you can’t legislate to stop a switch flicking in someone’s head”. No, you can't, Mr. Cameron, but there are psychiatric evaluations and other obvious signals that an individual is unbalanced - or as in Derrick Bird's case, there are records that show that an induividual has been convicted of theft.


The Blue Jays lost to Tampa Bay yesterday. Shaun Marcum pitched eight strong innings, but lost control in the 9th inning. Jason Frasor, who came on in relief, performed poorly. Tampa Bay looks really good. They are for real.

The Stanley Cup finals continued yesterday with the series moving to Phiadelphia. The Flyers defeated the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks still lead the series 2 games to 1. The contest is more interesting now, but I maintain that Chicago will win.

- Joanne

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lou Gehrig's speech


“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”

- Lou Gehrig
From his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium, July 4, 1939

For the full text of Gehrig's speech, click on the link below.

On this day in 1941 Yankee great Lou Gehrig died at the age of 37 of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disase. New York's magnificent first baseman was called the "The Iron Horse" because he was so durable. He played in 2,130 consecutive games. His streak of consecutive games began on June 2 1925 (yes, June 2, eight-five years ago) when he filled in for Wally Pipp who sat out a game. According to a popular story, Pipp didn't play that day because he had a migraine headache and Yankee manager Miller Huggins inserted young Lou Gehrig into the lineup. Recent evidence, however, suggests the story is a fabrication. For whatever reason, Wally Pipp did not play that day and his career was effectively derailed. After the 1925 season, the Yankees sold him to the Cincinnati Reds for a $7,500 waiver price. Wally Pipp died in 1965.

To watch a video about Lour Gehrig's speech at Yankee Stadium, click on the link below.


Jerry Mathers, better known as the Beaver, was born on this day in 1948. Golly, Beav, I can't believe you are 62 years old. I still visualize you as a little boy wearing a baseball cap. By the way, whatever happened to that creepy Eddie Haskell?

Now that we're on the subject of Leave It To Beaver, I'd just like to mention that the show ran from October 4, 1957 until September 12, 1963. It's appropriate that it went off the air just prior the assassination of JFK and before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan's show. Can you imagine Leave It To Beaver in the hippie era of the later 1960s? I just can't see June Cleaver performing her domestic duties in a mini-skirt. Can you? Nah! I don't think so. June was more suited to her pearls and prim dresses. In one episode, however, she actually wore slacks when the family went on an outdoor vacation.


Not to take anything away from the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Blue Jays lost a game they should have won last night. Brian Tallet pitched a good 6 2/3 innings. The Jays seemed to have the game in control until the disastrous 7th inning. The bullpen was shaky, particularly Jason Frasor. Nevertheless, when closer Kevin Gregg came to the mound in the 9th inning, the Jays still had the game within their grasp. They were leading 5-3. Gregg, however, completely lost his control, physically and mentally. He walked one batter after another. By the time the Jays came up in the bottom of the 9th, the score was 7-5 in favour of Tampa Bay. The Jays didn't quit. They came up with one more run. It wasn't enough and they lost by a score of 7-6.

- Joanne

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

John Masefield and Sea-Fever


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a gray dawn breaking.

- John Masefield
From "Sea-Fever"

The English poet John Masefield was was born on this day in 1878. Masefield was appointed the 15th poet laureate of the United Kingdom in 1930, a position which he held until his death in 1967. Let's welcome the month of June with thoughts of the sea. I have always liked ships and boats and water. Sea-Fever is one of my favourite poems because it expresses such a sense of longing and nostalgia. Even if you suffer from sea sickness, you can still related to it because it is so poignant.


The Chicago Blackhawks took control of the Stanley Cup final by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers last night. The Hawks lead the series 2-0 and look to be the better team. It's certainly not over yet, but I think Chicago will take home Lord Stanley's Cup.

After sweeping the feckless Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays are now facing the Tampa Bay Rays. The time has come for them to compete with the cream of the American League East. It won't be easy, but they are off to a great start. They defeated Tampa Bay by a score 0f 3-2 last night at the dome.

- Joanne