Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tribute to T.S. Eliot


I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

- T.S. Eliot
From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock [1917] 
What a magnificent line of poetry! I remember when I studied The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in high school. My teacher stated that he wished he had written those words. Alas, not everyone can be a T.S. Eliot.

The influential poet, playwright and Nobel laureate, Thomas Stearns Eliot, passed away 46 years ago today. He died in London, England on January 4, 1965 at the age of 76. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was the poem that established Eliot`s reputation. Prufrock was published initially by Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1915. It was then published as part of a small book entitled Prufrock and Other Observations in 1917.

Eliot followed Prufrock with some of the most acclaimed poems in the English language, including Gerontion (1920) The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935) which is generally considered to be his finest drama. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 26, 1888, T.S. Eliot was the son of a businessman. He was educated at Harvard, University and then studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1914, he won a scholarship to Oxford University. In 1927, at the age of 39, he became a British citizen and converted to the Anglican Church. On the subject of becoming a British citizen, Eliot said that "My mind may be American but my heart is British."

To listen to T.S. Eliot reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, click on the link below.



On the same day as T.S. Eliot’s death , 45 years ago, U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson made his State of the Union Address to Americans and the world and proposed his "Great Society" program. Here are some excerpts from LBJ`s speech. Considering that we have suffered through the Great Recession, it makes interesting reading. It is also interesting to note what good shape the U.S. economy was in 45 years ago. So, let us go back to 1965 and read the words of LBJ.

World affairs will continue to call upon our energy and our courage.

But today we can turn increased attention to the character of American life.

Our flourishing progress has been marked by price stability that is unequalled in the world. Our balance of payments deficit has declined and the soundness of our dollar is unquestioned. I pledge to keep it that way and I urge business and labour to cooperate to that end.

We worked for two centuries to climb this peak of prosperity. But we are only at the beginning of the road to the Great Society. Ahead now is a summit where freedom from the wants of the body can help fulfill the needs of the spirit.

We built this Nation to serve its people.

We want to grow and build and create, but we want progress to be the servant and not the master of man.

We do not intend to live in the midst of abundance, isolated from neighbours and nature, confined by blighted cities and bleak suburbs, stunted by a poverty of learning and an emptiness of leisure. The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed.

But we must remember that fear of a recession can contribute to the fact of a recession. The knowledge that our Government will, and can, move swiftly will strengthen the confidence of investors and business.

We can help insure continued prosperity through:

• a regional recovery program to assist the development of stricken areas left behind by our national progress;
• further efforts to provide our workers with the skills demanded by modern technology, for the labouring-man is an indispensable force in the American system;

• the extension of the minimum wage to more than 2 million unprotected workers;

• the improvement and the modernization of the unemployment compensation system.


Regular readers will know that I am an avid movie fan. Although I watch many films on DVD and on television, I still prefer viewing movies on the big screen at a theatre. However, I am becoming increasingly annoyed with the number of commercials I am often forced to sit through at Cineplex theatres. Moviegoers who go to the cinema on busy nights frequently have to enter the theatre a half hour or more prior to the actual showing of the film or risk sitting in the front row and straining their necks. That means enduring numerous ads. During the last film I attended, I must have been bombarded with 35 minutes of advertising. By the time the movie started, my mind was somewhat addled by all those ads.

Filmgoers pay good money to watch a first-run film and Cineplex charges exorbitant prices for snacks at its concession stands. Given all that, why should we have to endure a seemingly endless series of mindless commercials? It isn’t fair and I strongly resent it!  If you live in the Toronto area, I suggest that you go to the Carlton Theatre at Yonge and College Streets or the Kingsway Theatre at 3030 Bloor St. West. I attend films at those theatres and the number of ads there are minimal.

When commercials first appeared at movie theatres, I recall that audiences booed. Now we seem to be resigned to them and we watch them like zombies. As a result, Cineplex et al have sneakily increased the number of ads before a film. Movie lovers, I submit that this is unacceptable. There are alternatives and we should search for them. Furthermore, we should express our dissatisfaction to Cineplex-Odeon. At the very least, they won’t think we are so obsequious and accepting.

By the way, whatever happened to watching cartoons and short films before the feature attraction? If only we could see Bugs Bunny of Daffy Duck cartoons prior the screening of a film . . .



Oh happy day! We’re going for gold! Yes, indeed, Team Canada will be playing the Russians for a gold medal in the World Junior Hockey Championship tomorrow in Buffalo, New York. Our guys (I admit a strong bias) defeated Team USA last night by a score of 4-1. The Americans were the home team, but if you weren’t aware that the game was being played in the United States, you would have thought that Canada was the home team. The arena was awash in the colour red and with Maple Leaf flags and sweaters. A great many Canucks made the trek south of the border.

- Joanne

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