Monday, June 27, 2011

The Riots in Vancouver: A disagrace, but should the rioters lose their jobs?

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2011

Blood in our streets.  I saw people on the ground, bleeding.  Shattered glass everywhere.  Police cars set alight.  Major bridges are now closed, preventing public access into the downtown core.  Transit is plugged up, there's no way out.  More police and fire crews are arriving, from the suburbs, but again, it seems too late.  And as I write this, the sun has just set.  Vancouver, what a disgrace.

- Brian Hutchinson
National Post

Some time has passed since the riots in Vancouver over the Canucks' loss to Boston in the Stanley Cup final.  Truth be told, their would have been rioting even if the Canucks had defeated the Boston Bruins.  A minority of drunken yahoos were out there looking for any excuse to vandalize, loot and cause a public disturbance.  Their actions on June 15, 2011 have sullied Canada's international reputation.  For this, they should be held accountable.  Should they lose their jobs?  My answer is no.

Let me be clear and unequivocal.  I am not defending the actions of the looters.  I am condemning them in the strongest possible terms.  They need  be held responsible for their actions.  They should pay restitution to the hardworking shopkeepers whose property they destroyed and whose merchandise they plundered.  In addition, they should be required to do community service or pay a heavy fine.  I do not, however, believe it would serve any purpose for them to lose their employment.  It would only cause suffering and create untold financial burden for the innocent members of their families, including young children.

The Vancouver rioters were shameless.  Some did not even hide their faces and allowed themselves to be videoed and photographed.  Drunk or sober, what kind of person behaves in such a disgusting manner?  Having said that, I have no desire to be a smug Torontonian.  I have no illusions that some people in Toronto would behave any better if the Leafs should ever win or lose the Stanley Cup final - not that that's going to happen anytime soon!  Remember the G20 Summit last summer!

What happened in Vancouver is truly lamentable.  Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  What happened there is cause for deep reflection and investigation.  There have been jokes about how hockey turns polite, peace-loving Canadians into violent brutes.  Yet, no city and no country seems immune to such behaviour given certain circumstances.  In Canada, hockey is used as an excuse to behave in a violent and uncivil manner.  In Europe, it is soccer.  There is one common thread, however.  The majority of rioters are young men. So,  is it testosterone?  Is it male angst?  Why do they behave in such a boorish fashion?  Why do they bring ignominy to their city and their country?  Are they frustrated or just plain boorish?  How can cities and police better deal with these situations?  So many questions . . . so few answers!

- Joanne

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ernie Shore's strange no-hitter: What was Babe Ruth's part in it?


Ernie Shore

Hey baseball fans!  Let me take you back to one of the most unusual no-hitters in the history of the game.  It happened on this very day, ninety-nine years ago. Sit back and let me set the stage for you . . . 

World War I is raging and John F, Kennedy is just a babe in his mother's arms.  It's June 23, 1917 at Fenway Park in Boston.  There are 16,158 in attendance to witness the first game of a double header between the Boston Red Sox and the woeful Washington Senators.  George Herman "Babe" Ruth is the starting pitcher for the Red Sox. 

Ruth takes the mound and immediately begins complaining to home plate umpire Brick Owens after each pitch.  The Babe loses his temper after walking the leadoff batter, Washington's Ray Morgan, on four pitches.  He argues with Owens and Owens promptly tosses him and Boston catcher Chester "Pinch" Thomas out of the game. 

An enraged Ruth rushes at the umpire and Thomas attempts to prevent him from reaching Owens.  The Bambino swings his arms and strikes the umpire behind the left ear before being forcibly removed from the field by Boston manager Jack Barry and several policemen.  Ruth is later quoted as saying, "It wasn't a love tap - I really socked him- right in the jaw."

After Babe Ruth's ejection, right-hander Ernie Shore, is thrown into the game with very little warm-up.  Ray Morgan is then caught stealing and Shore proceeds to retire the next 26 Washington Senators in a row.  The Red Sox win the game by a score of 4-0. 

The account of the game in the Boston Globe  declares that "Baltimore Babe with his temper beyond control went to the dugout under a cloud and undoubtedly will be punished by (American League) Pres. (Ban) Johnson."  The Globe further opines that "his suspension will cripple the Red Sox badly as they will need the bîg portsider very much."


Ernie Shore was initially credited with a perfect game.  It was later redefined as a combined no-hitter with Babe Ruth because Shore had started in relief.  Some have referred to it as a "perfect game in relief."

As the Boston Globe had expected, Babe Ruth, was suspended for his poor conduct.  He received a ten-game suspension and made a public apology for his behaviour.

1917 was Babe Ruth's final year as a full-time pitcher.  During that season, he posted a record of 24 wins and 13 losses with an ERA of 2.01.  He went 35 complete games.  In 1918, Ruth began to shift his playing time from the mound to the outfield.

Although the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, they had a terrible season in 1919.  Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, facing financial difficulties, sold the contract of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees on December 26, 1919.  Ernie Shore had been traded to the Yankees earlier in the year.  Shore finished his baseball career as a Yankee in 1920 at the age of 29.

Ernie Shore, a native of North Carolina, died on September 24, 1980 at the age of 89.


What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?


The letter M

- Joanne

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grover Cleveland: How the President's cancer surgery was covered up

If U.S. President Barack Obama had cancer surgery, you can be sure that the press would be in hot pursuit of every detail.  Facebook and Twitter would be flooded with rumours and speculation.  It would be impossible to conceal such surgery from both the press and the social media.  In 1893, however, when Grover Cleveland was president, the situation was entirely different. 

At 56, years old, Grover Cleveland was not exactly a poster boy for healthy living.  He was quite overweight.  In fact, he was so rotund that some of his nieces and nephews took to calling him "Uncle Jumbo."  Cleveland often indulged in unhealthy habits.   The President frequently smoked cigars which he inhaled deeply.  He also had a fondness for beer.  He had what can only be described as a beer belly.  Where his health was concerned, something had to give - and it did!

On June 13, 1893, Cleveland noticed a "rough place" on the room of his mouth.  It was diagnosed as cancer.  On July 1, surgery was performed to remove the cancerous lesion from his left upper jaw.  The operation took place aboard a private yacht, the Oneida, as it sailed up Long Island Sound to the President's summer home in Massachusetts.  Dr. Joseph D. Byrant of New York performed the surgery.  He was assisted by Dr. W.W. Keen of Philadelphia, three other doctors and a dentist. 

On July 17, another less risky procedure was performed aboard the yacht.  Additional tissue was removed and a vulcanized rubber plate was put in place to restore the President's speaking voice and his appearance.  The size of the tumour and the extent of the initial surgery had disfigured Cleveland's mouth and impaired his speech.

At President Cleveland's insistence, the truth was hidden from his Cabinet, the press and the public.  Even the First Lady, Cleveland's popular wife, Frances, lied to the press about his whereabouts.  The White House press aide also took part in the deception.  Reporters accepted the falsehoods and were led to believe that the President had disappeared to have dental work.  In 2011, it seems difficult to believe that the media were ever so gullible.  We are definitely living in a more skeptical times.

The reason for Grover Cleveland's deceit was the financial state of the country.  The American economy was in recession and  Cleveland did not want to cause further panic in the markets.  The President, his doctors and his advisors feared that his illness would exacerbate the economic crisis.

In spite of the President's efforts to prevent publicity, the Philadelphia Press broke the story on August 29, 1893.  The White House and Cleveland's family and friends strongly denied the newspaper's report.  The official line was that the President had had a tooth extracted.

The Philadelphia Press reporter who wrote the story was E.J. Edwards.  Another newspaperman, Alexander McClure of the Philadelphia Times, reviled Edwards and vilified him as a liar.  McClure painted a picture of Edwards as a journalist who had treated the President unfairly and without respect.  Although the criticism hurt Edwards, he courageously stood by his story.

Grover Cleveland left the White House on March 4, 1897 and retired to Westland Mansion, his estate in Princeton, New Jersey.  He died of heart failure in Princeton on June 24, 1908.  He was 71 years at the time of his death.  The truth about his oral cancer was not disclosed to Americans for several more years.

In 1917, with the permission of the Cleveland family, an article detailing the operation appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.  Dr. W.W. Keen, who had assisted with the surgery 25 years beforehand, authored the article.  It was a clear account of what had occurred on that yacht back in 1893.  Journalist E.J. Edwards lived to see himself vindicated.  He died in 1924 with his reputation restored and his integrity intact.

A book has been written about Grover Cleveland's secret surgery and how he deceived the public. press.  It is titled The President is a Sick Man and was written by historian and radio journalist Matthew Algeo.


Grover Cleveland's full name was Stephen Grover Cleveland.  He decided to drop the "Stephen" and go by his second name.

Woodrow Wilson's birth name was Thomas Woodrow Wilson.  He was called "Tommy" until he graduated from Princeton University.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, was born John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

- Joanne

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 Father's Day Quiz

SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2011

Fatherhood is a mirror in which we catch glimpses of ourselves as we really are.

- Hugo Williams, British writer and poet

From Fatherhood [1922]


In honour of fathers, Number 16 presents the 2011 Father's Day Quiz.  See how many of the questions you can answer correctly.

1.  In the Book of Genesis, who is told that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky?

A.  Moses

B.  Abraham

C.  Jacob

D. Isaac

E.  Adam

2.  George Washington is often referred to as the father of his country.  Did Washington have any biological children?

A.  No, he did not have any biological children.

B.  Yes, he and his wife, Martha, had two sons.

C.  Yes, he had twin daughters, Margaret and Beatrice Washington.

D.  Yes, George Washington was the biological father of four childrren. 

E.  Yes, he had one child, a daughter named Florence.

3. Superman's adoptive father on Earth was Jonathan Kent. What was the name of Superman's biological father on the planet Krypton?

A.  Kal-El

B.  Je-El

C.  Kortak

D.  Jor-El

E.  Kaytak

4.  Angelina Jolie's father is also a film star.  Who is her father?

A.  George Kennedy

B.  Peter Fonda

C.  John Voight

D. Martin Landau

E.   Christopher Plummer

5.  England's Henry VIII had only one legitimate son who survived.  His third wife, Jane Seymour, died soon after giving birth to their son in 1537.  What was the name of Henry's male heir?

A,  James

B.  Edward

C.  George

D.  Charles

E.  William

6.  What did country singer Loretta Lynn's father do for a living?

A.  He was a country doctor.

B.  He worked in a factory.

C.  He was a fisherman.

D.  He was a truck driver.

E.  He was a coal miner and farmer.

7.  Who is known as the "Father of New France."

A.  Jacques Cartier

B.  George Etienne Cartier

C.  Samuel de Champlain

D.  Louis Papineau

E.  Henri Mercir

8.  Before George W. Bush and his father, did any other father and son both serve as U.S. president?

A.  Yes, John Adams and John Quincy Adams

B.  No

C.  Yes, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison

D.  Yes, John Tyler and James Tyler.

E.  Yes, Grover Cleveland and Stephen Grover Cleveland

9.  What was the name of Alexander the Great's father?

A.  Stephen the Great

B.  King Milos III of Macedonia

C.  King Andreas II of Macedonia

D.  King Philip II of Macedonia

E.  Costos III of Macedonia

10.  Who is the father of English rock drummer Zak Starkey?

A.  Mick Jagger

B.  Hugh Grant

C.  Ringo Starr

D.  Roger Daltry

E.  Rod Stewart


1.  B

In Genesis 26:4, God tells Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky.

2.  A

George Washington did not have any biological children.  He was, however, a stepfather.  His wife, Martha, was a widow with two children when she married him.

3.  D

Superman's biological father was Jor-El, a respected scientist on the planet Krypton.  Jor-El foresaw the destruction of Kryton and tried to warn others.  Although Jor-El was unable to save himself, he managed to save his infant son, Kal-El, by sending him to Earth in a rocket ship.  Kal-El was discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent who raised him as their son and named him Clark Kent.

4.  C

Angelina Jolie's father is Academy Award winner John Voight.  Voight won his Oscar for his performance in the film Coming Home.

5.  B

Edward ascended to the throne when he was only nine years old.  He was crowned Edward VI but his reign was not long.  He died of tuberculosis at the age of 15.

Edward VI

6.  E

Loretta Lynn's father, Melvin "Ted" Webb was a coal miner and farmer in Kentucky.  That is why Loretta titled her best-selling autobiography Coal Miner's Daughter.

7. C

 Samuel de Champlain, known as the "Father of New France" was a navigator, explorer, soldier and diplomat.  He founded Quebec City on July 3, 1608.

8,  A

John Adams was the second President of the United States.  His son, John Quincy Adams, was the sixth President of the U.S.  William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison both served as president but they were grandfather and grandson.

9.  D 

Alexander the Great's father was King Philip II of Macedonia.  Philip conquered Greece and died in 336 B.C.

Philip II of Macedonia

10.  C

Zak Starkey (born  September 13, 1965) is the son of former Beatle Ringo Starr and his first wife, Maureen.


On June 19, 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd organized the first June Father's Day celebrations to honour her father, Cival War veteran William Jackson Smart.  The festivities took place in Spokane, Washington.


- Joanne

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bloomsday 2011: How James Joyce met Nora Barnacle


Nora circa 1916

Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday.  On this day in 1904, the great Irish writer James Joyce had his first outing with his future wife, Nora Barnacle.  Joyce would later choose June 16th as the setting for his literary masterpiece, Ulysses.  The day would come to be known and celebrated throughout the world as "Bloomsday" after Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Joyce's novel. 

The romantic rendezvous between James Joyce and Nora Barnacle on that June day in 1904 was the beginning of a lifelong partnership, although they did not marry until 1931.  The couple had two children and they stayed together for 37 years, until Joyce's death in 1941.  Joyce's father, upon learning of Nora's surname, was said to have remarked, "She'll stick with him.

Nora Barnacle was born in Galway county, Ireland in March of 1884 (the exact date of her birth is uncertain).  Her father, Thomas Barnacle, was a baker in Connemara and her mother, Annie Honoria Healy was a dressmaker.  In 1896, Nora completed her schooling.  She found employment as a doorkeeper and laundress.  That same year Nora's parents separated due to her father's drunkeness.  Nora went to live with her mother and her uncle, Tom Healy, in Galway City.

In 1903, after a falling out with her uncle over her relationship with a Protestant named Willie Mulvagh, Nora moved to Dublin.  She worked as a chambermaid and waitress at Finn's Hotel.  On June 10, 1904, while walking down Nassau Street, she ran into 22-year-old James Joyce.  Joyce, a graduate of University College, Dublin, may have met her before while visiting Finn's Hotel with friends.  On this day, however, the struggling writer asked her for a date.  On June 16th, they walked to the urban village of Ringsend, near Dublin's harbour.  Although they had different personalities and tastes, the two were able to find common ground.

Jim and Nora left Ireland together in October of 1904 and headed for continental Europe. The couple would never live in Ireland again.  Instead they began a pattern of moving back and forth to various European locations.  By 1905, they had set up housekeeping in Trieste, which at that time was part of Austria-Hungary.  James found employment as an English teacher there.

Nora gave birth to a son, Giorgio, in Trieste, on June 27, 1905.  She had a second child, a daughter named Lucia, on July 26, 1907.  Lucia was also born in Trieste.  In 1908, however, Nora suffered a miscarriage and faced a very difficult period of her life.  This put a strain on her relationship with Joyce. 

During World War I, James Joyce and his family lived in Zurich.  At the time, the neutral city was a refuge for artists, intellectuals and pacifists such as Joyce.  It was in Zurich that Joyce wrote Ulysses and it is in Zurich that he is buried at the Fluntern Cemetery.

In 1920, James and Nora took up residence in Paris. During the 1920s, Nora wrote a series of letters to her sister Kathleen that were critical of Joyce's choice of writing as a career.  She told Kathleen that she would have preferred James to be a singer (He was a good singer and he had a strong affection for music and great knowledge of it.).  Nora also complained to her sister that Jim drank too much.

Their daughter Lucia's mental illness was another strain on the relationship.  By her mid-twenties, Lucia's behaviour had become erratic.  Her condition worsened when a love affair with playwright Samuel Beckett turned sour and he rejected her.  After bringing in many specialists to help Lucia, including Carl Jung in 1934, her parents finally placed her in an institution.  James Joyce often visited his daughter, but Nora refused to see her.

Despite the strains in their relationship and Nora's criticism of James, she married him in a civil ceremony on July 4, 1931.  The wedding took place at a registry office in London, England.  James Joyce was 49 years old at the time.  His bride was 47.  Their 23-year-old daughter, Lucia, had not
even known that her parents were unwed.

The wedding of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle, more than a quarter of a century after their first meeting, created a frenzy in the British and Irish press.  Below is a version of the photograph by the London Daily Standard.  The newlyweds are shown after their register-office marriage accompanied by Joyce's solicitor, Fred Monro. (right).  Joyce became a UK resident and took a lease on house in Kensington in London before applying for a marriage licence.

After the fall of France in 1940, Jim and Nora fled from the Nazis and returned to Zurich.  James Joyce died in Zurich on January 13, 1941, of complications from a perforated ulcer.  He was 58.  After Joyce's death, Nora decided to remain in the Swiss city.  She died of acute renal failure in Zurich on April 10, 1951 at the age of 67.  

Life was not kind to the children of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle.  In 1932, Lucia Joyce, a dancer, suffered a mental breakdown. At her father's 50th birthday party, she threw a chair at her mother.  Her brother Giorgio took her to a medical clinic and checked her in.  She underwent treatment in Paris and Zurich and was eventually diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  In 1935. when she was 28 years old, the Joyces put her in an asylum outside of Paris.  She spent the remainder of her life in mental institutions.  In 1951, she was sent to St. Andrew's Hospital in Northampton, England.  After spending many lonely years at St. Andrew's, she died there in 1982 at the age of 75.

Lucia's alcoholic brother, Giorgio Joyce, became a musician.  On December 10, 1930 (before the marriage of his parents), Giorgio wed Helen Kastor Fleischmann., a New York divorcee who was much older than he.  Helen, like his sister, was eventually diagnosed as a schizophrenic.  The couple had a son named Stephen James Joyce. 

Stephen Joyce was born in France on February 16, 1932.  He resides in France and remains James Joyce's only living descendant.


Many regard Ulysses as one of the greatest novels ever written.  It chronicles one day in the life of a Jewish Dubliner named Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly and an aspiring writer named Stephen Dedalus.  The events of the story all take place on June 16, 1904.  The novel traces the adventures of Bloom as walks through the city of Dublin. and it is filled with countless literary and linguistic references.  It also contains passages written in a stream of consciousness style.

Every year on June 16th, fans of James Joyce celebrate Bloomsday by having public readings from Ulysses, dramatizations and pub crawlsIn Dublin, tourists dress in Edwardian costume and retrace the steps Leopold Bloom around the city.  They stop at such landmarks as Davy Byrne's Pub.  Below is a 2004 photograph  of Bloomsday celebrations on North Great George's Street in Dublin.  The crowd is enjoying a street party provided by the James Joyce Centre.



Although I was hoping that Vancouver would come through, I have to be fair and admit that Boston deserved to win the Stanley Cup.  The Canucks had home ice advantage and the whole city of Vancouver behind them (plus thousands of Canadian fans) and they came up flat.  They couldn't even score a solitary goal.  They came up with nothing but a big fat goose egg.  They lost 4-0.  Boston proved to be hungrier and much more inspired.

Roberto Luongo must be feeling awful.  I still think he's a good goalie, but he has let greatness slip away from his grasp.  He didn't rise to the occasion when it counted.  It's time for Luongo and the rest of the team to take a good hard look at themselves.  It's going to be a long, hot summer.

As for the fans in Vancouver, I know they are disappointed in their team.  Nevertheless, there is no excuse for the rioting that went on in the city after the loss.  It is just reprehensible and shameful.

- Joanne

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brian Epstein: The Life and Times of The Beatles' Manager

MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2011

In a 1997 BBC interview, Paul McCartney said of Brian Epstein, "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian."  That's how integral Brian Epstein was to the success of The Beatles.  He was the man who advised the group.  It was he who influenced their style and the way they dressed.  Until his untimely death in 1967, Brian was the Beatles' manager and their friend. 

Brian Samuel Epstein was born on September 19, 1934 in Liverpool, England.  He had a younger brother, Clive, who was born 22 month after him.  His parents, Harry and Malka Epstein, owned a furniture store on Liverpool's Walton Street.  The Epsteins later expanded their family business by purchasing the North End Music Store (known as NEMS) next door.

During World War II,  the family left Liverpool and moved to Southport.  They returned to Liverpool in 1945.  After being moved from boarding school to boarding school, young Brian spent two years at Wrekin College in Shopshire.  At 16. he wrote a letter to his father expressing his desire to be a dress designer.  Harry Epstein refused to support his elder son's ambition and Brian was sent to work at the family furniture store.  In December of 1952, when he was 18 years old, he was drafted into the army as a data entry clerk and was posted near Regent's Park in London.  Ten months later he was discharged after being determined emotionally and mentally unfit for military service.

In Brian Epstein's autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, published in 1964, he claimed that he had impersonated a police officer.  It was later revealed that he had gotten a tailor to make him a police uniform which he had worn while cruising London bars.  After being arrested by the military police, he avoided a court martial  by agreeing to see a military psychiatrist. Brian confided his homosexuality to the psychiatrist.   Although his sexual orientation became well known to friends and business acquaintances, it was not revealed publicly until after his death.

In 1954, Brian Epstein returned to Liverpool and took charge of Claredon Furnishing, a branch of the family business.  Although a successful salesman, a restless Brian was searching for something else in his life.  He decided to try his hand at acting and persuaded his parents to let him train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA).  He left RADA after only three terms, although he did have the opportunity to study with classmates such as Peter O'Toole, Albert Finney and Susannah York.

In 1955, at the age of 21, Brian was made a director of NEMS.  When Harry Epstein opened a new NEMS store on Great Charlotte Street in Liverpool, his son was given the responsibility of managing the main floor.  Under Brian's influence, the Great Charlotte Steet store began to sell gramophone records in addition to pianos and wireless radios. 

The record department was such a resounding success that the shop became one of the largest and most popular music outlets in northern England.  Brian was then placed in charge of a new branch at 12-14 Whitechapel.  The Whitechapel shop was just around the corner from the Cavern Club where The Beatles played.  In August of 1961, a regular customer came looking for a record called "My Bonnie." by the Beatles and Brian became curious about the band.  When more youngsters came into the shop inquiring about The Beatles, Brian learned that the were performing nearby.

On Novermber 9, 1961, Epstein watched The Beatles perform a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club, a dingy local spot where new bands booked gigs.  After the concert, he met with the group.  By January of 1962,, Epstein had become The Beatles' manager.  Despite his inexperience, they agreed to a five-year concract with him, giving him 25% of their gross income.

Brian attempted to change the image of The Beatles so that they would appeal to a larger audience.  When he had first watched the band perform at the Cavern Club, they wore leather jackets and blue jeans on stage.  As soon as he became their manager, he encouraged them to to dress more stylishly and he urged them to stop smoking in public.  John Lennon initially opposed the idea of wearing suits and ties.  He later said that he would "wear a bloody suit if someone's going to pay me."

Epstein also paid for The Beatles to record a demo at Decca studios.  Athough Decca was not interested in signing the band, Brian pesuaded George Martin to listen to the demo.  Martin, impressed by Epstein's enthusiasm and confidence, offered him a recording contract under EMI's Parlophone label.  By the autumn of 1963, Britain was awash in Beatlemania.

In November of 1963, Brian went to the United States and booked The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.  He had to fight to get them top billing on the show.  The following year, The Beatles travelled to New York.  They made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.  The four mop-haired English lads took America by storm and the wave of Beatlemania continued to spread around the world.  The once obscure group from Liverpool was on its way to becoming what many consider to be the greatest band ever.

Although Brian is remembered as the manager of The Beatles, he managed several other artists including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, The Crykle and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.  The name of his management company was NEMS Enterprises, after his family's music stores. Groups managed by NEMS were presented as opening acts for The Beatles.

On August 29. 1966, The Beatles played their last-ever (commercial) concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  Almost a year later, Brian Epstein was found dead in his London home at the age of 32.  On August 27. 1967, Brian's housekeeper became concerned when she knocked on his bedroom door in the middle of the afternoon and received no response.  She alerted friends.  They broke into the room and found him dead.  An autopsy revealed that Brian died of an overdose of sleeping pills.  Although the death was ruled accidental, there has been much speculation that it was a suicide.

At the time of  Brian Epstein's passing, The Beatles were in Bangor, north Wales to meet with Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and participate in a spiritual retreat.  Brian had been due to join them in Bangor for the conference of the International Meditation Society.  Upon hearing the news of Epstein's death, The Beatles were devastated.  Paul McCartney and his then-girlfriend, Jane Asher, returned to London in a chauffeur-driven car.

The other Beatles also returned home. They did not, however, attend Brian's funeral in order to avoid a media circus and fan frenzy.  They did, nevertheless, attend a memorial service for their manager at the New London Synagogue.  Brian Epstein was laid to rest at the Kirkdale Jewish Cemetery in Liverpool.

Brian had taken care of every aspect of The Beatles' business affairs.  After his death, their finances fell into disarray.  They went their separate ways in 1970.  It is interesting to note that in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, John Lennon remarked that Epstein's death meant the beginning of the end for The Beatles as a group.  He said, "I knew we were in trouble then . . ."

To watch a 1964 interview with Brian Epstein and Larry Kane, click on the link below.

To watch a video about the death of Brian Epstein, click on the link below.


Whu did't the man become a farmer?


It wasn't his field



The Vancouver Canucks are one game away from winning the Stanley Cup.  The Boston Bruins have home ice advantage tonight.  So far in this series, the home team has one every game.  This evening we will see if the Canucks can wrap it up and avoid a seventh game.


It was a discouraging weekend for fans of the Toronto Blue Jays.  It pains me to write this, but they were just pounded by the Boston Red  Sox.  The Jays lost to the Sox by a score of 4-1 on Friday night.  Saturday's game and Sunday's game were so one-sided, it was embarrassing.  I don't know how long Blue Jay fans will have to wait before this team is ready to contend, but after watching the team over the weekend, it's hard to be encouraged. 

- Joanne

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Beauty of Quebec City


I have returned from historic Quebec City, truly a jewel in Canada's crown.  My sister-in-law lives there and I visit her every year.   I want to share some photos of this beautiful city with you.  Below is a photo of a wine and cheese bistro in the lower town that I really enjoy.  It's called Le Pape Georges.  We sat outdoors on the patio on a gorgeous June day.

Le Pape Georges is one of my favourite places in Quebec City.

Another view of Le Pape Georges

View of the magnificent Chateau Frontenac

Some brief notes about Quebec City:

* Quebec City is the only existing walled city in North America.  It is also the oldest city in North America.  It was founded on July 3, 1608 by Samuel de Champlain.  On July 3, 1986, Quebec City was awarded World Heritage status. It is the first city in North America to be so designated.  Along with other World Heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal, Cairo, Florence and Damascus, the United Nations Educational , Scientific , and Cultural Organization (USNESCO) provides Quebec City  with protection and financial assistance if necessary.

* I've seen very few GM cars or Fords in Quebec City.  Asian cars, however, are extremely popular.  Toyotas and Hyundais are everywhere.

* There is a baseball team called Les Capitales de Quebec.  The Capitales belong to the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.  They  play their games at Stade Municipal.  I've attended a few games there and I can tell you it's a lot of fun.  The fans are lively and they know how to have a good time.  If you are a baseball fan and you are visiting Quebec City, I suggest you go to a Capitales game.

Here are some quotes about Quebec City from outsiders of the past

And high and grey and serene above the morning lay the citadel of Quebec.  Is there any city in the world that stands so nobly as Quebec?

- Rupert Brooks, English poet, in 1916

It is almost impossible to conceive of any urban vista more provocative of imaginative ecstasy, of the sense of magical gateways opening on an adventurous dream-world of exotic wonder, than a chance glimpse of one of these silver spires at the end of an ancient uphill or downhill street.

- American author H.P. Lovecraft in 1931, describing Quebec City's skyline



The Boston Bruins certainly embarrassed the Vancouver Canucks in the third game of the 2011 Stanley Cup final on Monday night in Beantown.  Boston humiliated the Canucks by a score of 8-1.  I am sad that the series turned so ugly with Aaron's Roman's hit on Nathan Horton.  Horton was carried off the ice on a stretcher and he is lost to the Bruins for the rest of the series. I sincerely hope that he will be okay.

After the incident, the Bruins scored goal after goal on Vancouver stopper Roberto Luongo.  If Boston keeps up this momentum, the Canucks will be in real trouble.  They have to cool down the Bruins by winning the next game in Boston.  Then they can return to the West Coast with a 3-1 lead in the series.

- Joanne

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Viva L'Italia! Reflections on Italy and Italians


Italians have discovered America for the Americans; taught poetry, statesmanship, and the ruses of trade to the English; military art to the Germans; cuisine to the French; acting and ballet dancing to the Russians; and music to everybody.

- Luigi Barzini
From The Italians

Today is the national day of Italy.  In Italian, the celebration is called Festa della Repubblica and it commemorates the day when the Italian Republic was born.  On June 2, 1946, Italians were asked to decide which form of government they preferred for their country after World War II and the fall of Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.  They chose a republican form of government.

Every June 2nd, there is a military parade through central Rome.  The gates of the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic are opened to the public for celebrations and concerts.  There is an abundance of cheeses, wines and other Italian delicacies.

My grandparents were hard-working immigrants from Sicily.  My maternal grandparents came from Ragusa, Sicily, and my paternal grandparents from a small town called Trabia, in the Province of Palermo.  Although I am first and foremost a Canadian, I will always be proud of my Italian heritage.  I have only been to Italy once, in the summer of 1996, but I certainly hope to make a return visit. 

In honour of Italy's national day, Number 16 presents some interesting and thought-provoking quotations on Italy and Italians.

While stands the Coliseum Rome shall stand;
When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
And when Rome falls - the World.

- Lord Byron (1788-1824), English poet
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Lump the whole thing! say that the Creator made Italy from designs by Michel Angelo!

- Mark Twain
From Innocents Abroad [1869] 

Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.

- Bertrand Russell
From The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell [1967]

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance.  In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce?  The cuckoo clock!

- Orson Welles, as the character Harry Lime in the Graham Greene film, The Third Man (1949)

Sign language is useful to the deaf but vital to the Italians.

- Paul Carvel, Belgian writer and editor


Here is a list of items, particularly food items, which have been named after places in Italy.

Venetian blinds (Venice)

Bologna sausages (Bologna) - similar to the Italian mortadella that originated in the city of Bologna

blue jeans (Genoa) - comes from the French phrase bleu de Gênes, literally ``the blue of Genoa``

Neapolitan ice cream (Naples) - Ice cream made up of blocks of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream and named in the 19th after the city of Naples (Napoli), where it was presumed to have originated

Roman candles (Rome) - Italy played a prominent role in the development of fireworks for celebratory purposes.

Parmesan cheese (Parma) - Parma, a city in the Emila-Romangna region of Italy is famous for its cheese, ham and architecture

Leghorn hens - a breed of chicken with origins in Tuscany, in central Italy, generally thought to come from  the city of Leghorn (Livorno),



What a week for hockey in Canada!  The NHL will return to Winnipeg and the Vancouver Canucks are facing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals.  I'm so glad pro hockey is returning to the 'Peg.  It belongs there and I hope the team is a resounding success.  Gary Bettman isn't exactly thrilled about  the of the league's imminent return to the Manitoba capital.  CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos remarked that Betmann appeared as if he were delivering a.eulogy when he made the announcement.  Winnipeggers, however, and indeed all Manitobans, are extremely excited.  They really really want this team.

The Vancouver Canucks have taken a 1-0 lead against the Boston Bruins. Go Canucks Go!  They need three more wins in their quest for the Stanley Cup.


I am writing this from beautiful Quebec City where I will be for the next five days.

- Joanne