Sunday, October 31, 2010

All About Halloween



On this last day of October, I wish you a Happy Halloween.

As a Halloween gift to you, I have written a short story.  Just press the “Fiction” tab above on this webpage to read The Eerie Mrs. Healy.


Here are some Halloween quotes for you.  Hope you enjoy them.

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

- Emily Dickinson
- From One Need Not Be A Chamber To Be Haunted

‘Tis now the witching time of night.
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world

William Shakespeare
From Hamlet

Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams,
So I’ll propose . . . on Halloween.
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you.

From the Classics IV song, Spooky; Songwriters : J.R. Cobb, Mike Shapiro, Harry Middlebrooks and Buddy Buie

To watch a video with the song Spooky, click on the link below.

A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.

- Erma Bombeck


The word "Halloween" is a shortened form of "Hallow-Even", the evening before Hallows Day or All Saints Day ( November 1).  "Hallow" is an old English word meaning to make holy or consecrated.


What did one jack-o'-lantern say to the other jack-o'-lantern?


Cut that out!

(Courtesy of  Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean, the king of silly puns.)



Well, Texas is back in it! They won Game 3 of the World Series in home territory in the Lone Star State. The Texas Rangers defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2. We’ll see what happens in Game 3 tonight.

- Joanne

Saturday, October 30, 2010




Tomorrow is All Hallow's Eve, the day before All Saints Day.  As a Halloween treat for you, I have written a short story.  To read my story, please click the "Fiction" button above. 


From ghoulies and ghosties and long-
leggety beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

- Scottish prayer

Football (CFL)

Last night I attended the Toronto Argonaut game at the dome.  It was an entertaining game, but the Argos lost a game they should have won.  Once again, they snatched defeat fron the jaws of vicory.  I was among the 22,477 fans at the former SkyDome who witnessed one of the craziest plays in CFL history in the dying seconds of the game.  The Argos and the Montreal Alouettes were tied 30-30 and Montreal attempted a 36-yard field goal.  However, Montreal's Damon Duval kicked the ball wide.  Then, a comedy of errors ensued involving two Toronto players who were waiting in the end zone. Somehow, when the dust was cleared, Montreal had scored a touch down .  They won the game 37-30.


The San Francisco Giants are in firm command of this World Series.  They lead 2 game to 0 as the stage moves to Arlington for Game Three. Texas could still pull a rabbit out of the hat, but I wouldn't bet against the Giants now, 

- Joanne

Thursday, October 28, 2010



I have started a second website on the subject of television trivia. If you are a fan of old and current television shows, check out TV Banter at


On October 28, 1858, a dry goods store opened on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City. It would become one of the largest department store retailers in the world. The name of that store was R.H. Macy & Co. and its founder was 36-year-old Rowland Hussey Macy, a Quaker businessman. Macy, born on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, was a whaler turned shopkeeper. He used a red star as his symbol of good fortune, a throwback to his days as a sailor.

First-day sales at the new establishment were $11.06. At the end of its first complete year of operation, Macy’s sales grossed almost $90,000. By 1877, Macy’s had become a bona fide department store filling up the ground space of 11 adjacent buildings.

We do not have Macy’s here in Canada and I have never entered the famed Manhattan store. I visited New York City several times in the 1980s but never ventured into Macy’s. I did go to the Macy’s store in Erie, Pennsylvania this past summer.



The Toronto Raptors lost their first game of the season yesterday to the New York Knicks by a score of 98- 93. Well, at least the Miami Heat and prima donnas Chris Bosh and King James lost their first game too.


I'm pleased that the San Francisco Giants pounded the Texas Rangers by a score of 11-7 in Game 1 of the World Series last night.  Did you catch 84-year-old Tony Bennett belting out God Bless America at the game?  Wasn't he great?  He certainly did leave his heart in the "City by the Bay."  Bravo, Tony!

If you didn't see Tony Bennett singing at the World Series, just click the link below to view a video of his performance.

- Joanne

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dylan Thomas


I should say I wanted to write poetry in the beginning because I had fallen in love with words. The first poems I knew were nursery rhymes and before I could read them for myself I had come to love the words of them. The words alone. What the words stood for was of a very secondary importance.
- Dylan Thomas
"On the Words in Poetry” from Early Prose Writings in Dictionary of poetic terms (2003)
Here are a few verses from one of the finest poems of Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

- Dylan Thomas
From Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night {1952}
Dylan Thomas is one of my favourite bards. Although he died at a young age, the Welshman left us a rich legacy of verse. He also bestowed upon us the beautiful Yuletide classic, A Child’s Christmas in Wales.  My favourite Dylan Thomas poems are Fern Hill, And death shall have no dominion and of course, his celebrated poem for his dying father, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

Dylan Marlais Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales on October 27, 1914. If he were alive today, the great poet and writer would be 96 years old. Sadly, he died in New York City at the age of 39. He arrived in the Big Apple on October 20, 1953 to take part in a performance of his radio play Under the Milk Wood at New York’s Poetry Centre. He became ill in New York and died there on November 9, 1953.

To watch a video with Dylan Thomas reading Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, click on the link.


Here are some thoughts in the aftermath of Toronto’s mayoral election. Yes, I am disappointed that Rob Ford has been elected mayor of our fair city. However, the people have spoken. That’s what democracy is all about. I don’t think it’s helpful to just dismiss him as buffoon or ridicule him. It is far better to determine why his simplistic message resonated with so many Torontonians.

Our city councillors have not set a good example of fiscal responsibility. Even if it’s a drop in the bucket, perception is everything. That is why many taxpayers feel they are not being respected. However, Rob Ford wants to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Ridiculing Ford only serves to make him and his supporters more resolute.  However, by the same token, it is also not helpful for Ford’s adherents to label those who disagree with their man as “downtown elites."  Ford would do well to remember that he will be mayor of all the people, not just suburbanites and Toronto Sun readers.

I strongly disagree with Ford’s ideas. He doesn’t have a vision. He is a one-trick pony who repeats his “stop the gravy train” mantra ad infinitum. He wants to cut and chop like a mad lumberjack. He wants to bring out the wrecking ball. I wonder how he is going to do that without sacrificing the vital services we enjoy in this city. How is he going to cut taxes and pay for the subways he says he wants to build? Is he a magician? Sure, some new subways should be built, but we should not abandon our streetcars as Ford advocates.

Yes, there has been some wasteful spending. There should be better management of our tax dollars, but Instead of putting the city on a healthy diet, Rob Ford wants to starve this great metropolis. Or at the very least, his cuts may cause Toronto to become weak and anorexic. Finally, Rob Ford’s attitude toward immigrants is very disturbing to me. He says we don’t need any newcomers. However, he should remember that Toronto’s motto is “Diversity our strength.”



The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in the win column. After three successive losses, the Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-1 at the Air Canada Centre last night.


The 2010 World Series begins today in San Francisco. The Giants have home field advantage due to the victory of the National League in this year’s All-Star Game. This “October Classic” will finish in November. That is much too late.  I agree with those who say that the regular season should begin a week earlier. Some of those ballparks in the northern U.S. can get quite frigid at the beginning of November. Of course, the next time the Blue Jays play in the World Series (I hope in my lifetime), we will be in the warmth of the dome with a retractable roof over our heads.

I am opposed to increasing the number of playoff games. I do not want Major League Baseball to become like the National Hockey League in which the playoff season seems almost as long as the regular season and the Stanley Cup Final is contested in June. I realize that several teams have not participated in postseason play for years and their fans are frustrated. We Blue Jay fans certainly understand that feeling. A solution must be found to deal with that, but the answer is not to expand the postseason as the NHL has done.

- Joanne

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Doc Holliday and the O.K. Corral


There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man and yet, outside of us boys, I don't think he had a friend in the Territory. Tales were told that he had murdered men in different parts of the country; that he had robbed and committed all manner of crimes, and yet, when persons were asked how they knew it, they could only admit it was hearsay, and that nothing of the kind could really be traced to Doc's account. He was a slender, sickly fellow, but whenever a stage was robbed or a row started, and help was needed, Doc was one of the first to saddle his horse and report for duty.

- Virgil Earp

Interview in the Arizona Daily Star, May 30, 1882


The “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” took place at Tombstone, Arizona on October 26. 1881. Wyatt Earp and his brothers Vigil and Morgan were joined by Doc Holliday in a deadly showdown with the Clanton and McLaury brothers and Billy Claiborne. Three of the nine participants - Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury - were killed in the shootout.

John Henry “Doc” Holliday was a gambler and gunfighter of the Old West. Dr. Holliday was also a dentist. He graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1872 at the age of 20. Holliday was born with a troublesome birth defect, a cleft palate. Plagued by ill health, he suffered from tuberculosis and died in Colorado on November 8, 1887. He was 36 years old.


It’s official. The Toronto Blue Jays have a new manager. He’s John Farrell, 48, who served as pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox for the last four seasons. It’s interesting that Farrell is a former hurler because pitchers do not often become managers.

Blue Jays General Manager Alex Athopoulos must have considered Farrell’s experience as Director of Player Development in Latin America for the Cleveland Indians as an asset. Anthopoulos tends to make surprise moves and this is another one. Not many could have predicted this choice. I hope that Farrell, a native of New Jersey, finds much success in T.O.

- Joanne

Monday, October 25, 2010

On taxes and government spending


Less government spending means less economic activity and, as a consequence, less tax revenue and so a larger deficit. In Britain, for instance, it is calculated that cutting the public payrolls by half a million will cause the loss of half a million jobs in the private sector.

The consequence could be what can be called the Japan Syndrome. Once it was widely assumed that Japan was about to become the world’s No. 1 economy. Instead, among developed countries, Japan’s economy is now one of the weakest. It hasn’t grown since 1991. House prices there, once the highest in the world, are back to where they were in 1983. And the debt of the Japanese government — about double the nation’s total output — is the highest in the world.

What went wrong in Japan, economists now generally agree, is that it responded to hard times by cutting back and got itself locked into a straitjacket of slow growth, high unemployment, low tax revenues and, as a consequence of all that, a high debt.

 - Richard Gwyn
From the Toronto Star, October 22, 2010

I am going to get a little political today. These words by Richard Gwyn are worth pondering. They really resonate with me. I am not an economist and I do not advocate irresponsible waste of tax payers’ dollars. I do know, however, that unemployed people do not spend money to stimulate the economy. Unemployed people do not have enough income to put much money into government coffers.

Nobody likes taxes. However, if government spends wisely, we all reap the benefits. If less tax money is spent on education, parents are forced to fork out more money to help out cash-starved schools. Students are asked more often to sell chocolates and magazine subscriptions to raise money for school initiatives. It has to come from somewhere. If tax money is spent on preventive health, then that money will be saved in the long run because illnesses will be diagnosed and treated before they become worse. Dollars spent on literacy programs will reduce crime.

Neoconservatives talk about saving taxpayers’ money. Yet, they spend it like drunken sailors on prisons and war machines when it should be spent on education, literacy and health. The answer is not to cut and chop. Nor is it to spend recklessly. The answer is to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and carefully for the benefit of all. Spending wisely can obviate the necessity for raising taxes precipitously.


This is a reminder that today municipal elections are being held in the Greater Toronto Area and in other municipalities Ontario. Please let your voice be heard.


Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. On October 14, 1415, the English won a major victory over the larger French forces in the Hundred Years War between England and France. The English were led by King Henry V and the story is immortalized in Shakespeare’s Henry V. The battle took place in northern France.

To watch a video on the Battle of Agincourt, click on the link below.



The World Series is set. It’ll be San Francisco and Texas. The San Francisco Giants have been in Fall Classic three times and have lost thrice. They were defeated by the New York Yankees in 1962 and they lost the 1989 Bay Area Earthquake Series to the Oakland A’s. In 2002, they were overtaken by the Anaheim Angels. The Texas Rangers have never gone to the Series. I think and I hope that San Francisco’s time has come.

Football (CFL)

Toronto finally has a professional team in the playoffs. The Toronto Argonauts defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27-8 on Saturday to win a berth in the Eastern Division playoffs for the first time since 2007. They will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and it should be a crowd pleaser.

- Joanne

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I have written a poem entitled Autumn Eve that reflects the mood of this time of year.  I hope you enjoy it.

 Autumn Eve

Under the gaze of a hunter’s moon
On an autumn eve so long ago
We pranced about in a lively swoon
While crimson bales of leaves did blow

As the oaks and elms and maples blew
We tossed them high and we tossed them low
They floated and fluttered and they flew
And their colours sprinkled to and fro

Then came a wind so fiercely biting
It caused us to shake and to quiver
Home never seemed quite so inviting
As we walked by the banks of the river

In silence we sat by the fireside
To take our leave of autumn’s chill
We stoked the flames, we smiled and sighed
The moon was gone and the night was still

- Joanne Madden

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a moon watcher (See my blog entry for September 23, 2010).  Last night, the second best full moon of the year was visible in the Northern Hemisphere.  It's called the Hunter's Moon and it is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon.  Tonight, lunar lovers will be able to view the full moon again.  So, enjoy, fellow moon gazers!


The great Canadian painter Lawren Stewart Harris was born on October 23, 1885 in Brantford, Ontario (Hey, he shares the same birthplace with Wayne Gretzky. That’s two feathers in Brantford’s cap!) Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of this member of the Group of Seven, a band of artists renowned for their abstract portraits of Canadian landscapes.

The Group of Seven was founded in 1920 as an organization of modern artists. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, all of its members made their living as commercial artists, except Lawren Harris who was independently wealthy. Harris was the son of Thomas Morgan Harris, the secretary of A. Harris, Son and Co. Ltd., a manufacturer of farm machinery. In 1891, the company amalgamated with Massey to become Massey-Harris Co. Ltd. It now exists as Massey Ferguson, a brand name for one of the world’s major sellers of agricultural equipment.

Lawren Harris moved to British Columbia in 1940 and died in Vancouver on January 29, 1970. He was 84. On November 26, 2009, a Lawren Harris painting entitled The Old Stump Lake Superior sold for $3,510,000.00 at Heffel’s Auction of Fine Canadian Art.  Those of us who are not multi-millionaires can view the paintings of Lawren Harris and the other members of the Group of Seven at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario. If you are in the area and have the opportunity, it’s well worth a visit. I’ve been there and I highly recommend it.

To see a video of the Lawren Harris painting selling at the Heffel auction, click on the link below.


I guess it had to happen. Tim Hortons has announced plans to open 3 kiosks in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut and one of the last places in Canada where you can’t find a franchise of the popular coffee-and-doughnut shop chain. The kiosks are set to make their debut in December and will be the chain’s northernmost franchises.


The New York Yankees are out and the Texas Rangers are headed to the World Series.  The Bronx Bombers were simply outplayed by the Rangers who defeated them 6-1 before a delighted home crowd in Arlington.  Although I am not a Texas fan, I'm quite pleased that the Yankees are not going to win the October Classic yet again this year. I am going to cheer for Philadelphia or San Francisco, as soon as the winner of the National League Championship Series is decided.

I'd be thrilled if the Toronto Blue Jays made it as far as the American League Championship Series in the near future.  I have to admit, however,  that if they got that far, a part of me would be disappointed that they did not go all the way.  Many Yankees fans are not thrilled unless their team plays in the World Series.  Some are not thrilled unless their heroes win the World Series every year.  Not even the Yankees can accomplish that, especially with 30 teams in Major League Baseball.

- Joanne

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alfred Nobel


I intend to leave after my death a large fund for the promotion of the peace idea, but I am skeptical as to its results. The savants will write excellent volumes. There will be laureates. But wars will continue just the same until the force of circumstances renders them impossible.

 - Alfred Nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel, Swedish inventor and founder of the Nobel Prize was born in Stockholm on October 21, 1833. Nobel was a chemist and an engineer. It was he who invented dynamite, intending it to be used for construction. Ironically, however, the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize was also the owner of Bofors, a major Swedish armaments manufacturer.

Alfred Nobel died on December 10, 1896 of a brain hemorrhage at his villa in San Remo, Italy. He was 63 years old. Nobel amassed a great fortune during his lifetime. In his last will, he used his substantial wealth to institute the humanitarian, literary and scientific prizes which bear his name.


Alfred Nobel himself coined the word “dynamite” from the Greek “dunamis” meaning “power.” The term was coined in Swedish in the form of “dynamit,” The Swedish suffix “it” corresponds to the English suffix “ite” used in scientific fields.


I don't care what the situation was, how high the stakes were - the bases could be loaded.and the pennant riding on every pitch.  It never bothered Whitey Ford.  He pitched his game.  Cool.  Craft.  Nerves of steel.

- Mickey Mantle
(as quoted by Baseball Almanac and on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website)

Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford was born in New York City on October 21, 1928. He is 82 years old today. The left-handed pitcher made his debut with the New York Yankees in 1950 and played his entire career with them. He was nicknamed “Whitey” because of his blond, almost white hair. In 1961, Ford won 25 games and was honoured with the Cy Young Award. His record that year was a magnificent 25-4.

Whitey Ford retired in 1967 with 236 career wins. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown in 1974.  To watch a brief video on the career of Whitey Ford, click on the link below.



The New York Yankees managed to stay alive yesterday. They staved off elimination by defeating the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series in the Bronx yesterday.  CC Sabathia was on the mound for the Yankees.  He went six innings and allowed two runs.  The Rangers still lead the series 3-2 as the two teams head to Texas for Game 6.  The Rangers have two chances to finish off the Yanks.  If they fail to win one of those game in their own ballpark, they don't deserve to be in the October Classic. 

- Joanne

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reflections on Idealism


On this October day, I present to you, for your edification, some thoughts and reflections on the subject of idealism. 


Ideals are like the stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands.  But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.

- Carl Schurz
Address, Faneuil Hall, Boston (April 18, 1859)

When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, idealists are apt to walk straight into the gutter.

- Logan Pearsall Smith
From Afterthoughts {1931}

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing.

- H. L. Mencken
From A Little Book in C Major, page 19 (1916)

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

- Anne Frank
From her diary

An idealist believes the short run doesn't count.  A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter.  A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.

- Sidney J. Harris, in his column Thoughts at Large for the Chicago Sun-Times


This is the anniversary of “Black Monday.” October 19, 1987 was a nightmarish day for stock markets around the world as they plunged to record losses. It can be described as one of the most infamous days in recent financial history. The Dow Jones dropped a record 508 points, a 22.6% decline.  That 22.6% far surpassed the 12.8% drop of October 28, 1929 which ushered in the Great Depression. In fact, the 1987 “Black Monday” decline was the largest one-day percentage decline in stock market history.

That stock market crash of 23 years ago put an end to the great years of prosperity in the 1980s.  It marked the end of a five-year bull market and was a prelude to the terrible recession of the early 1990s.  Click on the link below to watch a video of a CBC news report on “Black Monday.”


On October 19, 1981, Rick Monday of the Los Angeles Dodgers broke the hearts of Montreal Expos fans and Canadian baseball fans everywhere. Monday hit a ninth-inning home run to give the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the Expos and the National League pennant. I remember watching that home run and sharing in the disappointment with my co-workers at the Toronto Star.

The now-defunct Expos never came closer to an appearance in the World Series although they had a really good team in 1994 and could have won it all that year. Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou and Marquis Grissom were on that 1994 team. Not a bad collection of talent, eh? Fate intervened, however, in the form of a Major League Baseball strike. There was no World Series that year and we’ll never know what would have happened. Regrettably, the Expos never seemed to recover and departed from Montreal after the 2004 season.



The New York Yankees didn’t play like champions last night. Much to the dismay of the patrons of the Bronx Zoo, the Yanks were walloped by the upstart Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. The score was 8-0 for Texas who had their ace, Cliff Lee, on the mound. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t want the Yanks to win the World Series again, so I’m quite happy with that result.

Texas has a 2-1 lead in the series. However, I won’t count the Pinstripes out just yet.  It's too early for that, even though I think they had a better team last year.  Tonight they will send former Blue Jay A.J. Burnett to the mound.


After four straight wins, The Toronto Maple Leafs tasted defeat for the first time this season. They were defeated by the gritty New York Islanders at the Air Canada Centre last night. It was an overtime loss, so they still picked up a point. In the third period, Phil Kessel of the Leafs tied the game 1-1. It went into overtime. The Leafs were penalized for goaltender interference and John Tavares scored a power play goal for the Islanders. The Leafs lost 2-1 in overtime.

- Joanne

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pierre Elliott Trudeau: His style and his just society

Canada must be unified. Canada must be one, Canada must be progressive and Canada must be a just society.

- Pierre Elliott Trudeau
(Speech after winning the Liberal Party leadership in April of 1968.)
Pierre Elliott Trudeau was born on October 18, 1919 in Montreal.  If he were alive today, he would be celebrating his 91st birthday. There has never been a Canadian prime minister quite like him. To this day, his name evokes a variety of emotions and a strong, passionate response. During his lifetime, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister was strongly admired and intensely disliked. Many Western Canadians cannot forgive him for the National Energy Policy. He has been criticized for invoking the War Measures Act forty years ago. Others say it was his finest moment.

From the heady days of Trudeaumania to his famous 1984 walk in the snow (in which he decided to resign as prime minister), the man captivated this nation. He was our own philosopher king and had more world-wide recognition than any other Canadian prime minister. Yes, he could be infuriating and arrogant. He also had style, wit and a vision for this country.

Pierre Trudeau was also very quotable. Many of his remarks will long be remembered. How many of Stephen Harper’s or Michael Ignatieff’s words will be quoted for years to come?

To view a video of Pierre Trudeau’s “just society” speech, click on the link below.

Here’s another short video about Trudeaumania.

Although he eventually married, Pierre Trudeau was a bachelor when he became prime minister in 1968. So here’s some trivia about bachelor prime ministers and presidents. Two other Canadian prime ministers were bachelors – R.B. Bennett and William Lyon Mackenzie King never married.

James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States was a life-long bachelor and is the only American president who never wed.  His niece Harriet Lane acted as First Lady.


George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair. Blair was a British journalist, political author and novelist. He was the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Animal Farm (1945),

Comedian Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago, Illinois on February 14, 1894. When he was a young vaudeville performer, a lawyer for famous Czech violinist Jan Kubelík pressured him to change his name, claiming that the similar name would damage his client’s reputation. So Benjamin Kubelsky became Ben K. Benny. When a band leader and fiddler named Ben Bernie threatened to sue him, he adopted the name “Jack,” a nickname associated with sailors. And that is how Benjamin Kubelsky became Jack Benny.

Singer Tom Jones was born Thomas John Woodward in Wales, U.K. on June 7, 1940. He is now 70 years old. Jones performed as Tommy Scott early in his career. In 1963, he became the frontman for a band called Tommy Scott and the Senators. a Welsh beat group. Tommy Scott and the Senators eventually became Tom Jones and the Squires. Remember that Tom Jones is also the name of the roguish protagonist of the classic Henry Fielding novel published in 1749. Given his stage persona, it is not surprising that the Welsh singer took the name of the amorous main character of Fielding’s novel.

Oprah Winfrey, born in Mississippi on January 29, 1954, was originally named Orpah after a biblical character in the Book of Ruth. The “r” and the “p” were reversed due to problems in spelling and pronouncing Orpah.


On October 18, 1685, Louis XIV, France’s “Sun King,” revoked the Edict of Nantes which granted rights to France’s minority Protestants (known as Huguenots). Louis renounced the Edict and declared Protestantism illegal. As a result, there was an exodus of Protestants from France. Some immigrated to Great Britain and Prussia. Others settled in the more tolerant Dutch Republic and in Switzerland. Still others found their way to the new French colonies in North America.



The Philadelphia Phillies won Game 2 of their National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants. Led by the superb pitching of that other Roy – Roy Oswalt – the Phillies enjoyed a 6-1 triumph over the Giants. I still think the Phillies have the best team and I think they will win the World Series.

- Joanne

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arthur Miller


Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back – that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.

          - Arthur Miller
          From Death of a Salesman, Requiem

Playwright Arthur Miller was born in New York City on October 17, 1915. His notable works include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge (1955) and After the Fall (1964). His most celebrated play and his masterpiece is Death of a Salesman which deals with a character named Willy Loman and the failure of his American Dream. I studied Death of a Salesman in high school. The references in the play to Ebbets Field were the first time I learned about the long ago home of the defunct Brooklyn Dodgers. Several years ago I saw Death of a Salsman on stage with Dustin Hoffman playing the role of Willy Loman.

After the Fall is considered to be a thinly disguised reflection of Miller’s marriage to Marilyn Monroe from 1956 to 1961. He was her third and final husband. Arthur Miller died on February 10, 2005 at the age of 89.


What do get when you cross a detective with a skeleton?

Answer: Sherlock Bones

Note to readers: I invite you to send me some riddles and I will publish them on my blog.


My favourite Canadian band of all time is the Guess Who. On Friday night, I attended a Burton Cummings concert at Massey Hall. I’ve got to say that Burton really had the place rocking. The Winnipeg native really connected with the audience and made a point of expressing appreciation for his fan support. Backed by the Toronto-based Carpet Frogs, he played many of the old Guess Who standards. Cummings also performed a great version of Louie Louie, the 1960s hit by the Kinks. He ended the concert with Share the Land, which he described as “a song of optimism.”


Barbara Billingsley, the actress who played the ideal mother of the 1950s and early 60s on Leave it to Beaver, died yesterday at her home in Santa Monica, California. She was 94 years old. From 1957 until 1963, Barbara played June Cleaver, the mother of two sons, Wally and Beaver. Hugh Beaumont, who portrayed Barbara’s television husband Ward Cleaver, passed away on May 14, 1982. He died of a heart attack at the age of 73 while visiting his son in Munich, Germany.

To watch a video of the 50th anniversary reunion of Leave it to Beaver, click on the link below.



How about those Leafs? They did it again. That’s four in a row, folks. On Saturday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers in overtime by a score of 4-3. Phil Kessel led the Leaf attack with two goals.


It seems that Roy Halladay is human after all. He and his Philadelphia Phillies lost Game One of the National League Championship Series to the San Francisco Giants yesterday by a score of 4-3.

Football (CFL)

Well, the Toronto Argonauts were crushed 30-3 by the ferocious Hamilton Tiger-Cats at the dome on Friday night. Hamilton clinched a playoff berth.

- Joanne

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hurricane Hazel

. . . it was a gigantic flood with smashed houses and uprooted trees bobbing like corks, everything going down the river so fast.  Houses crashing into the sides of other houses, people everywhere screaming.

- Volunteer firefighter Bryan Mitchell describing the impact of Hurricane Hazel in the Toronto Star, October 14, 1984

1954 was quite a year for Toronto. It was the year that 16-year-old Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. It was also the year that the most famous hurricane in Canadian history shattered Southern Ontario. I’m referring to Hurricane Hazel which struck on October 15, 1954.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, when the storm hit Toronto “its winds had waned to 120 k/hr (75 m/hr), but its warm, tropical air collided with a cold front moving eastward; the ensuing rains swelled creeks and rivers and inundated the watershed of the Humber and Credit rivers.” When it was over, 81 people had lost their lives in Ontario.

Hurricanes are rare in Southern Ontario, especially in the Toronto area. A hurricane of the magnitude and ferocity of Hazel is most definitely a historical occurrence for this city. 56 years have passed since Hazel wreaked its havoc, but it will never be forgotten.


One of the most beloved television shows of all time debuted on October 15, 1951. I Love Lucy premiered on the CBS network 59 year ago.  It ran from 1951 until 1957.  After that, there were a number of of full-hour specials which included much travel and well known celebrities of the day.  The hour specials ran under the title The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

I Love Lucy was based on Lucille Ball's radio show, My Favorite Husband. CBS honchos were quite enthusiastic about bringing the show to television, but they weren't too thrilled with the idea of Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz playing the part of Lucy's husband.  They did not think that viewers would find him believable as her husband, even though the two were married in real life. 

In the early 1950s, an American situation comedy co-starring a Cuban with a heavy Spanish accent was a radical concept.  Lucy, however, was determined that she and Desi would spend more time together and that he would play the role of her husband.  She also insisted that the show be filmed in Hollywood and not done live from New York like most other early television comedies.  Lucy had no desire to commute from Hollywood to New York to perform the show live.

Using $5,000 of their own money, Lucy and Desi produced a pilot for the series and finally persuaded CBS to give them a place on the fall schedule of 1951.  Lucy and Desi's instincts turned out to be right on the mark.  The show was a smash hit and delighted television audiences.  As for filming the show, that was a boon.  It meant that high quality prints of every episode were available for countless reruns and syndication to independent stations.  Until I Love Lucy paved the way, poor-quality kinescopes of live shows had been used.

Here are a few bits of trivia regarding I Love Lucy.

1. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were originally called Lucy and Larry Lopez.

2.  The name of the actor who played Little Ricky from 1956 to 1957 never appeared on the show's credits.  His name was Richard Keith. 

3. On January 19, 1953, the same night that Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Ricky Ricardo, Jr. on television, Lucille Ball gave birth to her second child, Desi Arnaz, Jr.  More people watched the episode of Little Ricky's birth than the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower the next day.

4. A 1956 Christmas episode was never shown in reruns. It was not included due to its Christmas theme and because it contained a series of flashbacks to previous episodes. On  December 18, 1989, CBS aired a colourized version of it.

5. There were 181 episodes of the series (including the "lost" Christmas episode and the pilot).

6.  To watch a video of a scene from the Lucy meets Superman episode, click the link below.

- Joanne

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Margaret Trudeau at Indigo Book Store


Last evening I visited the Indigo book store at Bloor and Bay Streets to see Margaret Trudeau promote her new book Changing My Mind.  She was interviewed by Indigo CEO Heather Reisman and they discussed Margaret’s struggle with bipolar disorder. They talked about the nightmare she endured, especially after the death of her son Michel. She lost a great deal of weight and was committed to a hospital for psychiatric treatment.

I have always been fascinated with the story of Pierre Trudeau, the intellectual Prime Minister of Canada and Margaret Sinclair, the eternal flower child from Vancouver. That is why I could not resist going to see her. Margaret is 62 now, and a grandmother. She has coloured her hair blonde and is as feisty and animated as ever. I found her to be very personable.

Here are some of the things Margaret Trudeau told the audience at her Indigo book-signing session.

1. She was so consumed by guilt that a doctor asked her what she had done that was so terrible. It wasn’t as if she were an axe murderer, he told her.

2. She played cards with the Rolling Stones.

3. She described Pierre as a wonderful man and a good father, although she claimed he was not generous to her with his money.

4. One of the reasons she separated from Pierre was that she felt she was a detriment to his position as prime minister.

5. She will always be a flower child.

6. Although the pressed has dubbed her “Maggie T.,” she prefers to be called Margaret, not Maggie.

7. She praised Trudeau’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada’s public health care system.

Here are some photos of Margaret Trudeau at Indigo.



All right, Leaf fans, contain yourself. Don’t get too excited yet. If you’re like this now, what are you going to be like if they actually win a playoff game? I know, I know. The Blue and White won their third game in a row last night. With Jonas Gustavsson in goal, they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 at the new arena in Pittsburgh. The Pens have yet to win a game at their new digs with the ugly corporate name, the Consol Energy Center. Perhaps the fans will just call it The Igloo.

- Joanne

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Great Secretariat



Secretariat, he had the looks, he had the charm, he had it all.

- Ron Turcotte (as quoted in Associated Press)
A new movie on 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat is being shown on the silver screen. Secretariat’s jockey, Ron Turcotte viewed the film for the first time last week and “thought it to be a very good movie.” He did concede, however, that the filmmakers took some dramatic liberties with the story. I have not seen the film yet, but I certainly intend to. It stars Diane Lane as Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery (also known as Penny Tweedy) and John Malkovich as the great horse’s trainer, Lucien Laurin. Former jockey Otto Thorwarth plays the role of Turcotte.

Ron Turcotte, a native of New Brunswick, started out as a hot walker in Toronto for E.P. Taylor’s Windfields Farms. He went on to win 3,032 races during his 18 seasons as a jockey, including back-to-back Kentucky Derby victories in 1972 and 1973.  Turcotte is 69 years old now. His riding career ended in 1978 following a tumble from his horse (named Flag of Leyte Gulf) at the start of a race at Belmont Park in New York State. The accident left him a paraplegic and he is confined to a wheelchair. The former jockey has since become a strong advocate for the disabled.

Secretariat’s trainer, Lucien Laurin, passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 88. Laurin was born in Joliette, Quebec and was originally a jockey. He began his riding career in 1929 at Blue Bonnets Racetrack in Montreal. He won 161 races but quit due to a weight problem. He eventually went to work as a trainer in the New England circuit in 1942.

I was at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto when Secretariat ran his final race in the Canadian International Stakes on October 28, 1973. I recall how cold and windy it was. Secretariat’s jockey that day was not Ron Turcotte, but Eddie Maple. Turcotte was under a 5-day riding suspension and could not be in the saddle for Big Red’s swan song. Replacement Eddie Maple rode the horse to an easy victory. Many Woodbine patrons did not even bother to cash their winning tickets on Secretariat, preferring to keep them as souvenirs.

To watch a video of Secretariat’s final race at Woodbine Racetrack, click below.


Hold your strength till the barriers fly,
then close with the leaders eye to eye.
Thundering hooves and the mad jammed race,
blood in the nostrils, sweat in the face.
And children, remember wherever you are,
you carry the blood of Man o' War.

- Anonymous

The recent buzz about the Secretariat movie has caused me to dig up trivia and make some comparisons between him and another great thoroughbred racehorse, Man o’ War. Here is what I have discovered.

1. Both Secretariat and Man o’ War were affectionately nicknamed Big Red.

2. Neither horse ran as a 4 year-old.

3. Both horses had 21 races.  Man o’ War raced in 1919 and 1920 and was only beaten once in his illustrious career.  On August 13, 1919, he finished second  in the Sanford Memorial Stakes at Saratoga to a horse called Upset. Secretariat raced in 1972 and 1973.and won 16 of his 21 races.

4. Secretariat won the Triple Crown as a three-year-old in 1973 and was the first horse to accomplish that feat in 25 years (Citation did it in 1948).  Man o’ War won the Preakness and the Belmont in 1920, but did not run in the Kentucky Derby.

5. Both horses ran their final races in Canada and won easily. Secretariat raced for the last time in Toronto and Man o’War in Windsor, Ontario. Man o’ War’s final race was a match race on October 12, 1920 against 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton. Man o’ War won handily by 7 lengths over Sir Barton at Kenilworth Park in Windsor. Secretariat won his last race, the Canadian International Stakes, by 6 ½ lengths.

6. Man o’ War was retired from stud duty on March 11, 1943 after siring 350 foals that won over $3 million. He died in 1947 at the age of 30. Secretariat sired as many as 600 foals and died in 1989 at the age of 19.


Yesterday I wrote about Lester Pearson and his Nobel Peace Prize.  How sad that exactly 53 years later, Canada has failed to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council.  Oh, for some Pearsonian diplomacy again!  Under our present government, we are losing respect in the world.



The Texas Rangers eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays from postseason play last night. Texas ace Cliff Lee was too much for the Rays. He allowed six hits over nine innings as the Rangers won a 5-1 victory in Game 5 of the American League division series. I was cheering for the Rays, but it was not to be.
- Joanne

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lester Pearson and the Nobel Peace Prize

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2010    
I realize also that I share this honour with many friends and colleagues who have worked with me for the promotion of peace and good understanding between peoples. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to participate in that work as a representative of my country, Canada, whose people have, I think, shown their devotion to peace.
(From Lester Bowles Pearson's Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, December 10, 1957)


On October 12, 1957, Lester B. Pearson (Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968) brought honour and pride to this country. 53 years ago today, Pearson was informed that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize and remains the only Canadian to have done so.  Pearson earned the prize for creating the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to help bring peace in Egypt following the Suez Crisis.

The Suez conflict arose In July of 1956 when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of the Suez Canal which connects the Mediterranean and Red seas. This was a setback for Western pride and commerce. As a result, Britain, France and Israel secretly agreed to take action against Egypt. Israel attacked in late October and Britain and France ordered Israel and Egypt to retreat from the immediate area of the canal. When Nasser refused, Britain and France bombed the Canal Zone. To solve the crisis, Lester Pearson proposed the world’s first ever peacekeeping force at the UN General Assembly. Using his network of connections and his years of diplomatic experience, he succeeded in persuading the world assembly to create this UN peacekeeping force.

During his tenure as prime minister, Lester Pearson never presided over a majority government. He led two successive minority governments. Yet, Parliament worked and much was achieved. During the Pearson years, his minority governments introduced universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada and the current Canadian Maple Leaf flag. Person also convened over the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. That’s not too shabby a list of accomplishments for two minority governments, is it? (Take note, Stephen Harper) Minority government can work quite effectively, albeit with the right prime minister. 

To listen to Lester Pearson speak about his Nobel Peace Prize, click the link below.


What kind of audience will you find in a prison?

Answer: A captive audience


I spent yesterday afternoon enjoying the fall colours at the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, near Caledon, Ontario.  If you have an opportunity to go there, especially in the autumn, I highly recommend it.  Here is a photo I took there.

- Joanne

Monday, October 11, 2010



Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

From the song Big Yellow Taxi
Lyrics by Joni Mitchell

Today is the second Monday in October and it is Canadian Thanksgiving

In my mind, Alberta-born Joni Mitchell’s words are very appropriate for Thanksgiving. We all, myself included, take so many things for granted. On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to express my appreciation for all I have.

I am fortunate to live in a country such as Canada. When I think of all the countries in the world that are experiencing war and extreme poverty, I feel so grateful to live here. Canada is not perfect, but compared to conditions in many nations, this is a virtual paradise – at least for the majority of us. Too many Canadians are marginalized. Too many live in poverty and squalour in this land of plenty.

I am fortunate that I have family and friends. Unlike I have never experienced the horrors and devastations of war. My human rights have never been violated and I have never lived in a refugee camp. For all of this, I am thankful.

Finally, I wish to thank all the followers and supporters of Number 16. I want you to know that I appreciate you and that I do this for you.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless. I’d also like to wish my friends in the United States a happy Columbus Day

Note : I invite you to read my Thanksgiving short story. Just click the tab that reads “Fiction.”


Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884. I consider her to be one of the greatest women of the 20th century and the greatest First Lady the United States has ever known. She was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in New York City to a family of wealth and privilege. Her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, was the 26th President of the United States.  Her husband, Franklin, was a distant cousin and they shared the same last name.

As First Lady from 1933 to1945, she established a separate and distinct identity from that of her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1940, she became the first American First Lady to address a U.S. political convention when she addressed the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Mrs. Roosevelt wrote a six-day-a-week newspaper column called My Day from December 30, 1935, until September 26, 1962. Illness forced her to cease writing the column and she passed away at her Manhattan home on November 7, 1962 at the age of 78.

Throughout her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was a tireless fighter for social justice and human rights. She was strongly committed to the success of the United Nations and was a leader in the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She served as the President and Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and was also United States Delegate the United Nations General Assembly.

To watch a video of Eleanor Roosevelt addressing the United Nations, click the link below.


137 years ago, on October 11, 1873, the Toronto Argonaut Football Club played the very first game in its history, losing to the University of Toronto. Now that’s a team with a history!



The Philadelphia Phillies will be playing in the National League Championship Series for the third straight year. They eliminated the Cincinnati Reds from postseason play by defeating them 2-0 yesterday in Cincinnati. Philadelphia swept the series 3 -0. Philly seems unbeatable right now, especially with great starting pitching and Roy Halladay. It’s difficult to imagine that this team won’t go all the way.

In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays forced a deciding game five against Texas with a 5-2.victory over the Texas Rangers. I’m pleased because I want Tampa Bay to win represent the American League in the World Series.

- Joanne

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.  Unlike Thanksgiving Day in the United States, Canadian Thanksgiving does not usher in the Christmas season.  It is celebrated on the second Monday in October.

As a Thanksgiving gift to readers of Number 16, I have written a short story. To read the story, just click on the tab above, the one that reads "Fiction." I hope you enjoy it because I have written it in appreciation of you.


Today’s date is special. It is the tenth day of the tenth month of 2010. That means it is 10/10/10.  Another century will pass before 10/10/10 comes up again – October 10, 2110.


It was a good night for Toronto sports fans. Both the Leafs and Argonauts came up winners


The Toronto Argonauts are back on the right track as they battle for a playoff spot in the East Division. Last night they defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina by a score of 24-19. The Green Riders had already clinched a playoff spot in the West Division, but the Argos spoiled their attempt to clinch a home playoff game.


The Toronto Maple Leafs won their second straight game of this young NHL season. They outscored and outplayed the Ottawa Senators 5-1 at the Air Canada Centre. That’s a good start to the season, but Leaf fans shouldn’t get too excited yet.

Congratulations to the Vancouver Canucks for celebrating their 40th year in the National Hockey League.


The New York Yankees have eliminated the Minnesota Twins from postseason play,  The Bronx Bombers won yesterday’s game by a score of 6-1 and swept their series with the Twins in three games straight. The Yankees advance to the American League Division Championship. I’m hoping they won’t advance any further.

- Joanne

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tribute to John Lennon on the 70th anniversary of his birth


Bless you wherever you are
Windswept child on a shooting star
Restless Spirits depart
Still we're deep in each other's hearts
- From the song Bless You
Lyrics by John Lennon
John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England. He was only 40 years old when he was assassinated on December 8, 1980 in New York City. If he were alive today, he would be celebrating his 70th birthday and protesting American involvement in Afghanistan.

John Lennon was certainly a complex man and very controversial. He was the most political and outspoken of the four members of the band and was definitely the one who stirred things up. He was always the most quotable.

To me, Lennon was a musical genius and decidedly the most talented of the Fab Four. He was the heart and soul of the Beatles, their foundation and their leader. John and Yoko Ono are often blamed for the break-up of the group. Yet, it had to happen sometime. It was inevitable because they were all moving in different directions.

One of the saddest aspects of John Lennon’s premature death is that the world has been deprived of some great music. Almost 30 years have passed since Lennon’s assassination. He could have composed so many great songs during those years. What a pity!

To watch a video tribute to John Lennon as he performs the song Bless You, click on the link below.


On October 9, 1915, Woodrow Wilson became the first President of the United States to attend a World Series game. He attended Game 2 of the Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies. The game took place at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.and the Red Sox won it by a score of 2-1.  Boston went on to win the 1915 World Series 4 games to 1.

It is interesting to note that a young left-handed pitcher made his postseason debut in that 1915 October Classic. His name was George Herman “Babe” Ruth. The 20-year-old Ruth was not used on the mound in that Series and made a single pinch-hitting appearance in which he grounded out.

- Joanne

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Chicago Fire of 1871


The great Chicago Fire, friends,
Will never be forgot;
In the history of Chicago
It will remain a darken spot.
It was a dreadful horrid sight
To see that City in flames;
But no human aid could save it,
For all skill was tried in vain.

In the year of 1871,
In October on the 8th,
The people in that City, then
Was full of life, and great.
Less than four days it lay in ruins,
That garden City, so great
Lay smouldering in ashes,
In a sad and pitiful state.

- Julia A. Moore
From The Great Chicago Fire

Today is the anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire. The fire began on the evening of October 8, 1871 and caused at least 200 deaths and much homelessness. It was also responsible for the destruction of thousands of buildings and millions of dollars in property damage. There is a widespread myth about the origin of the fire. According to legend, the blaze was started by a cow kicking over a lantern in the barn owned by Irish immigrant farmers Patrick and Catherine O’Leary.  Michael Ahern, a Chicago Republican reporter, and others admitted to fabricating the story of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.  The unfortunate O'Learys must have had a terrible guilt complex.


Last night was a busy night for sports fans in Toronto and elsewhere. The NHL season is underway and so is the Major League Baseball’s postseason.


The Toronto Maple Leafs opened their 2010-11 season with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre. Note to Leaf fans: That’s a good start, but it’s a little premature to start planning a parade on Yonge Street.


Roy Halladay is incredible. There is no better pitcher in the game today. Doc pitched a no-hitter in his first playoff game ever. He led the Philadelphia Phillies to victory in the first game of their series against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. It was the first no-hitter in postseason play since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

The New York Yankees have taken a 2-0 lead in their American League series with the Minnesota Twins. It looks pretty grim for the Twins now. They have to enter the Bronx Zoo two games behind. I’m not too happy about the Twinkies losing to the Pinstripes. I do not want the Yanks to repeat as World Series champs.

- Joanne

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Gregorian Calendar; High Park Photos



A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought.  There is a visible labour and there is an invisible labour.

- Victor Hugo
From Les Miserables, bk. VII, chapter 8


On October 5, 1582, our current calendar (the Gregorian calendar) was introduced in Catholic countries such as Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. These countries immediately observed the calendar change introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. Pope Gregory intended to reform the old Julian calendar to match the solar year so that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. In order to do this, ten days were removed from the calendar. This was decreed In February of 1582 when Gregory put forth a papal bull proclaiming that the day following Thursday, October 4, 1582 would be Friday, October 15, 1582 and from then on the Gregorian calendar would come into effect. For many years, Protestant countries refused to follow suit. Great Britain and its colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until September of 1752 and The Greek Orthodox countries took even longer. They did not make the change until the early years of the 20th century.

Here’s a quirky bit of trivia for you regarding the Gregorian calendar. Alaska did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1867. 1867 was the year that the United States purchased Alaska from Russia. Russia was a Greek Orthodox country and as a Russian territory, Alaska was compelled to use the Julian calendar.


Forty years ago today, Canada was thrown into a crisis. On October 5, 1970, British trade commissioner James Cross was kidnapped by members of an organization of radical Quebec separatists known as Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). The abduction of Cross led to a series of events known as the October Crisis or the FLQ crisis. It culminated in the invocation of the War Measures Act by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the brutal murder of Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte.


Here are some more photographs that I took in High Park last Sunday. I hope you enjoy them.



The 2010-11 NHL season is about to begin.  The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.  I wish I could say I'm optimistic about the Leafs this year, but I can't.  It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment or of Leaf management and coaching.  The Leafs have a great history and I will always remain a fan of the team and its proud tradition..  I just don't think the present owners and management care enough about the fans.  I think they take them for granted and treat them shabbily.  They are arrogant to the core.

By the way, my favourite Leaf team is the 1967 edition.  As every Leaf fan knows, that was the last Leaf squad to hoist Lord Stanley's cup.  Back then, I cheered for Mike Walton who just happened to wear #16 on his sweater. It all started when I read a headline in the Globe and Mail that said Walton leads Leafs to victory.  I took the article to school to show my class for current events.

- Joanne

Monday, October 4, 2010

Alvin Toffler and Future Shock; High Park Photos


Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.

          Alvin Toffler
          [from Future Shock, 1970]

Alvin Toffler, author, sociologist and futurist, was born on October 4, 1928 in New York City. Toffler, who turns 81 today, has written such groundbreaking books as Future Shock and The Third Wave. Forty years ago, when Future Shock was published, there were no personal computers, no Internet, no iPhones, iPads and iPods. It took years for the horse and carriage to give way to the automobile. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, the changes in technology and in society have all come so rapidly that many people can’t keep up with the pace. Alvin Toffler has proven to be a prophet.


I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

Lyrics by Don McLean
From the song American Pie

The “girl who sang the blues” was Janis Joplin and today marks the 40th anniversary of her death. No one could belt out a song like the raspy-voiced Joplin. A native of Port Arthur, Texas, she rose to fame with such hits as Me and Bobby McGee, Piece Of My Heart and Cry Baby.

Sadly, Janis Joplin was only 27 years old when she died of a heroin overdose in a Los Angeles motel room on Oct. 4, 1970. Jimi Hendrix also died at the age of 27 in September of that same year. Other notable musicians who died at 27 include Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones (1969), Jim Morrison of The Doors(1971) and Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana (1994).

To watch a video of Janis Joplin singing Piece Of My Heart, click on the link below.


I spent a relaxing Sunday afternoon at High Park, one of my favourite places in Toronto. Here are some photos I took on a beautiful autumn day.



The Blue Jays ended their season on a winning note. They defeated the Minnesota Twins by a score of 2-1 at Target Field in Minneapolis. A seventh inning homer by Adam Lind made the difference. Jose Bautista finished the 2010 campaign with 54 home runs. What an achievement for him!

The Jays finish the season with an 85-77 record, much better than most pundits predicted. They will, however, have to win at least 96 games to win the American League East. That is the number of games the division-winning Tampa Bay Rays won this season.

The future seems brighter for the Jays. However, it has been 17 years since they have reached post-season play. They have to start contending soon.


I see that Quebec City wants to return to the NHL. I hope they succeed. It would be great to see the return of the Nordiques. Quebec is a real hockey town. According to reports in the Montreal Gazette and the Toronto Star, tens of thousands jammed the Grand Allee, the city’s main thoroughfare, to support Mayor Regis Lebeaume’s crusade to construct a new arena for a National League team and a possible bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Gazette estimated the size of the crowd at 50,000. That’s support! That tells you something.

- Joanne

Friday, October 1, 2010

All About October



October is the month for painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.

         - Henry David Thoreau
         From Excursions

October is here. The tenth month of the year has arrived. October is not my favourite month, but I have to say there is much I like about it. Here is a list of some of the things I enjoy about October.

1. The splendour of the leaves changing colour.

2. Thanksgiving Day in Canada – the second Monday in October

3. The October Classic – It is World Series time.

4. Halloween, pumpkins and pumpkin pie

5. The hunter’s moon – the first full moon after the harvest moon

What do I dislike about October?

I dislike the fact that there is less daylight in the evening.

Julia Roberts, Alfred Nobel, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Bill Gates and Julie Andrews were all born in the month of October. However, it is Julie Andrews who celebrates a birthday today. She was was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1, 1935 at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. Yes folks, Mary Poppins is 75 years old.

Note : If you were born in October, your birthstone is opal.


Statistics Canada reports that Canada’s population has surpassed 34 million.

” As of July 1, Canada's population was estimated at 34,108,800, up 120,800 or 0.36% from April 1, 2010. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba posted the highest rates of population growth among the provinces.”


When is a door not a door?

Answer : When it is ajar.



What a night for the Toronto Blue Jays! They trounced the Minnesota Twins by a score of 13-2. Jose Bautista broke out of his five-game slump. Boy, did he ever! Bautista hit 2 home runs – a grand slam and a solo homer. He now has 54 home runs this season.

- Joanne