Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All about Leap Year


Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February which stands alone.
It has twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

In the Gregorian calendar, February 29th is referred to as a "leap day."  Leap days occur in years that are evenly divisible by four such as 1968, 1972, 1976 etc.  The only exception happens in years that are divisible by 100.  They do not have a leap day.  Years that are divisible by 400, however, do have a leap day.  For example, the year 1900 did not contain a leap day because 1900 is divisible by 100.  The year 2000, on the other hand, did have a leap day because 2000 is divisible by 400. 

So why do we add an extra day to February every four year?  Why is it necessary?  It is done to make the calendar year as close as possible to the solar year.  Otherwise, the calendar year would fall behind the solar year.


Pope Paul III was born Alessandro Farnese in Rome or Canino, Italy on February 29, 1468.  Elected pope in 1534, Paul III was the first pope of the Catholic Counter Reformation and it was he who inaugurated the Council of Trent On December 13, 1547.  It was also he who excommunicated King Henry VIII of England in 1538 because of Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon.  Paul III died in Rome in 1549.

Henri Richard is a retired Canadian hockey player who played 20 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens. Born in Montreal, Quebec on February 29, 1936, Henri is celebrating his 76th birthday today.  A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, he has 11 Stanley Cup rings to his credit, more than any other player in the history of the National Hockey League.  He also scored over 1,000 points in over 1,000 games.  Henri was nicknamed "The Pocket Rocket" because he was younger and smaller than his legendary brother, the late Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. 

Henri never thought he would have the opportunity to play with his brother.  He said, "When my brother Maurice got married and left home, I was six years old.  I never thought I would play with him.  I not only got to play with my brother Maurice, which was quite a thrill, but I played with him for five years."

By the way, Henri Richard wore my favourite number on his sweater, Number 16.

James Francis "Jimmy" Dorsey, a prominent American musician of the big band era, was born on February 29, 1904 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.  Dorsey was a talented clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and band leader.  Nicknamed J.D., he is known as the composer of "I'm Glad There is You" and "It's the Dreamer in Me."

In the 1930s, Jimmy formed an orchestra with his younger brother, Tommy Dorsey, a trombonist.  The Dorseys had a falling out in 1935 after which they led separate orchestras.  Despite their feud, the brothers appeared together in a 1947 film called The Fabulous Dorseys.  Jimmy reunited with Tommy's band in 1953 and in the summer of 1954 the siblings launched their own television series called Stage Show. 

Stage Show, originally a summer replacement, returned on a occasional basis during the 1954-1955 season.  By the 1955-1956 season, the show was running once a week.  Beginning in January of 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on the Dorseys' program for six consecutive weeks, marking Presley's first national broadcast television appearances.

On November 26, 1956, 51-year-old Tommy Dorsey accidentally choked to death in his sleep.  After having eaten a heavy dinner at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, Tommy sedated himself with sleeping pills before going to bed.

In the aftermath of his brother's unexpected death, Jimmy briefly took over the leadership of the orchestra until his health failed.  Jimmy Dorsey died of lung cancer on June 12, 1957 in New York City at the age of 53.

Pepper Martin was an American baseball player.  He was born Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin in Temple, Oklahoma on February 29, 1904.  Martin entered the big leagues in 1928 at the age of 24 with the St. Louis Cardinals.  A third baseman and outfielder, he was a member of the famed "Gashouse Gang," the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1930s.  During the 1931 World Series, Pepper Martin batted .500 and stole five bases in the Cardinals' victory over the Philadelphia Athletics (He has a career World Series batting average of .418).

Martin was lightning fast on the basepaths.  During the '31 series, he was asked why he was such a speedy runner and he answered, "I grew up in Oklahoma, and once you start runnin' out there, there ain't nothin' to stop you."  A flamboyant player, author Lee Allen described Pepper Martin with the following words in The National League Story:  "A chunky, unshaven hobo who ran the bases like a beserk locomotive, slept in the raw, and swore at pitchers in his sleep."

Pepper spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals and played his final game on October 1, 1944.  He died in McAlester, Oklahoma on March 5, 1965 at the age of 61.  By the way, Pepper Martin has a second nickname.  He was also known as "The Wild Horse of Osage."  Osage County is a county in the northern part of the state of Oklahoma.

Dinah Shore, an American singer, actress, and television personality was born February 29, 1916 in Winchester, Tennessee.  Her birth name was Frances Rose "Fanny" Shore and her parents. Solomon and Anna Stein Shore were Jewish immigrants from Russia.  Solomon Shore, was a dry goods merchant who later opened a department store.  The couple had another child named Bessie who was the older sibling.

After a childhood bout with polio, young Fanny Rose was left with a deformed foot and a limp.  A shy girl, she enjoyed singing and Anna, an aspiring opera singer, encouraged her.  Anna, however, died of a sudden heart attack when Fanny was only 16.  She never saw her daughter's success.

Fanny attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she graduated in 1938 with a degree in sociology.  While in Nashville, she visited the Grand Ole Opry and sang on a radio station.  After her graduation from Vanderbilt,  she left Tennessee for New York City where she began recording with bandleader Xavier Cugart on radio station WNCW.  The young singer later changed her name to "Dinah" after her success with a song of that title.  A disc jockey, unable to remember her name called her "the Dinah girl" and the name stuck.  In 1940, she signed a recording contract with RCA.

From 1940 until the late 1950s, Dinah Shore recorded a string of popular hit songs. For six years, from 1951 until 1957, Dinah hosted The Dinah Shore Show, a twice-weekly 15-minute music program on NBC TV.  From 1956 until 1963, Dinah starred in an hour-long television variety show sponsored by Chevrolet.  It was called The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and Dinah sang her sponsor's theme song, "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet."

Dinah Shore was married twice and divorced twice.  On December 5, 1943, she wed actor George Montgomery.  In January of 1948, Dinah gave birth to a daughter, Melissa Ann.  The couple later adopted a son, John "Jody" David Montgomery.  They were divorced on May 9, 1963.  On May 26, 1963, Dinah married tennis player Maurice F. Smith.  Her second marriage was short-lived and she and Smith divorced in 1964.

During the 1970s, Dinah hosted two talk shows.  She also had a much-publicized romance with actor Burt Reynolds.  Their relationship attracted a great deal of attention because Dinah was 20 years Burt's senior.  Dinah Shore died of ovarian cancer on February 24, 1994 in Beverly Hills, California.  She was 77 years old at the time of her death.


* Here's something else that's noteworthy about Leap Day.  There is a tradition that "allows" women to propose marriage on February 29th.

* My husband was born on February 29th so he only gets a "real birthday" every four years.

- Joanne

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2012 Oscars Quiz


Are you ready for the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony tomorrow?  Before the big show, why don't you sit down and test your Oscar knowledge by completing Number 16's ten-question quiz.

1.  Comedian Billy Crystal will be hosting the Oscars this year.  Counting this year, how many times has Crystal hosted the Academy Awards show?

A.  8 times

B.  7 times

C.  10 times

D.  9 times

E.  6 times

2.  The only person who has hosted more Oscar ceremonies than Billy Crystal is legendary comedian Bob Hope.  How many Academy Awards broadcasts did Bob Hope host?  (This is your bonus question.  If you answer it correctly, give yourself an extra point)

A.  18 times

B.  16 times

C.  20 times

D.  17 times

E.  15 times

3.  Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow are both nominated this year in the Best Supporting Actor category.  Canadian-born Plummer is nominated for his role in Beginnings and Sweden's Von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Both men are 82 years old and if either one wins, he will become Oscar's oldest winning actor.  Who is currently Oscar's oldest winning male actor?

A.  Art Carney

B.  Hal Holbrook

C.  George Burns

D.  Peter Finch

E.  Jack Palance

4.  Who made the longest acceptance speech at the Academy Awards?

A.  Elizabeth Taylor

B.  Katharine Hepburn

C.  Jane Fonda

D.   Shelley Winters

E.  Greer Garson

5.  Acceptance speeches at the Academy Award now have a time limit.  What is that time limit?

A.  45 seconds

B.  one minute

C.  50 seconds

D.  70 seconds

E.  40 seconds

6.  At the 1979 Academy Awards ceremony, Annie Hall won four major Oscars:  Best Actress for Diane Keaton, Best Picture, Best Original Screen Play and Best Director for Woody Allen.  Woody Allen did not attend the event.  Where was he?

A.  Woody was ill with the flu.

B.  Woody was playing the clarinet at a jazz club.

C.  Woody was filming a movie on location in New York City.

D,  Woody was mourning the recent death of his mother.

E.  Woody did not attend in protest of American foreign policy.

7.  Bing Crosby won only one Oscar during his lengthy career.  For which movie did Bing win?

A.  The Bells of Saint Mary's

B.  The Country Girl

C.  Going My Way

D.  Holiday Inn

E.  Man on Fire

8.  Tom Hanks won the Best Actor award in two consecutive years.  He won for Philadelphia in 1993 and Forrest Gump in 1994.  Only one other actor has accomplished that feat.  Name him.

A.  Clark Gable

B.  Dustin Hoffman

C.  Humphrey Bogart

D.  Spencer Tracy

E.  Al Pacino

9.  Sally Field made a memorable acceptance speech at at Academy Awards in 1985.  She said, "I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect.  The first time I didn't feel it (when she won in 1980), but this time I feel it, and I can't deny that you like me, right now, you like me!"  Most people remember that speech, but they don't remember what movie Sally Field won the Academy Award for in 1985.  What was the film that earned her her second Best Actress Oscar?

A.  Places in the Heart

B.  Forrest Gump

C.  Norma Rae

D.  Steel Magnolias

E.  Mrs. Doubtfire

One of the shortest acceptance speeches by a Best Actress winner consisted of these words: "There's a great deal to say, and I'm not going to say it tonight.  I would just like to to really thank you very much."  Who made that concise speech?

A.  Audrey Hepburn

B.  Katharine Hepburn

C.  Gwyneth Paltrow

D.  Joan Fontaine

E.  Jane Fonda


1.  D

Billy Crystal will host the Oscars for the ninth time this year.  Crystal has previously hosted the Academy Awards broadcast in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2004.

2.  A

Bob Hope hosted the Academy Awards broadcast 18 times during his lifetime.  The first time he hosted the show was way back in 1940.  The last time he hosted the broadcast was in 1978.

Bob Hope at the 1940 Oscars

3.  C

George Burns currently holds the distinction of being Oscar's oldest winning actor.  Burns was 80 years old when he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in The Sunshine Boys at the 48th Academy Awards in 1976.  It should be noted that Hal Holbrook was 82 when he became Oscar's oldest male actor nominee in 2007.  The oldest person to win an Oscar remains Jessica Tandy.  Tandy was 80 years and 252 days old when she won the lead actress Oscar for her performance in Driving Miss Daisy.  It is very likely that her record will be broken by Christopher Plummer or Max von Sydow.

To watch a video clip of George Burns accepting his Academy Award from Linda Blair and Ben Johnson, click on the link below.

4.  E

Greer Garson gave the longest acceptance speech in Oscar history while accepting the Best Actress award for Mrs. Miniver in 1943.  It was after 1 a.m. when she gave the speech and it was one of the last speeches of the evening.  According to Patrick Stockstill, a historian at the Academy of Arts and Motion Pictures, the speech lasted seven minutes.  Garson began her speech with the words, "I'm practically unprepared."

5.  A

Since 2010, acceptance speeches onstage at the Academy Awards have been limited to a pithy 45 seconds.  Winners, however, can make a second speech of unrestricted length backstage and post the video online.


Rather than attend the Academy Awards ceremony, Woody Allen chose to play the clarinet at Michael's Pub in New York City, his usual activity on Monday nights (Note:  The Oscar presentations were then held on Monday nights).  Interestingly, Allen has attended the Oscars on only one occasion.  Following 9/11 terrorist attacks, he presented a tribute to his beloved New York City.

7.  C

Bing Crosby won the 1944 Academy Award for Best Actor in 1944 for his performance as a priest named Father Chuck O'Malley in Going My Way.  Crosby was nominated for The Bells of St. Mary's in 1945, but lost out to Ray Malland in The Lost Weekend.  He was nominated again in 1954 for The Country Girl, but Marlon Brando won for On the Waterfront.

8.  D

Spencer Tracy won for Best Actor in two consecutive years.  He won for Captain Courageous in 1937 and for Boys Town in 1938.

9.  C

Sally Field won the Best Actress award in 1985 for Norma Rae.  It was her second Best Actress award.  She won in 1980 for Places in the Heart.  To watch a video clip of Sally's 1985 "You like me!" speech, click on the link below.

10.  E

Jane Fonda made that very succinct speech in accepting the Best Actress award for her performance in Klute in 1972.  To watch a video clip of Jane receiving her Academy Award for Klute from Walter Matthau, click on the link below.

- Joanne

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Incomparable Nat "King" Cole


My favourite singer to this day is Nat "King" Cole. I've tried to emulate his phrasing. It is so absolutely beautiful to listen to his lovely voice.

- Johnny Mathis

Nat "King" Cole died 47 years ago on February 15, 1965.  He had a voice as smooth as silk.  It was a beautiful baritone voice and it was as "unforgettable" as the title to one of his most well known songs.  Born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1919, Nat was the son of a preacher.  When he was four years old, the family moved to Chicago, where his father, Edward Coles, served as a Baptist minister and his mother, Perlina Adams Coles, was the church organist. 

Young Nat was trained in classical piano, but his interest soon turned to jazz.  He listened to jazz musicians in clubs around Chicago and he was influenced by such artists as Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong and Jimmie Noone.  At the age of 15, Nat dropped out of school to become a full time jazz pianist.  He billed himself as "Nat Cole," dropping the "s" from the end of his surname.  He later acquired the nickname "King," most likely due to the similarity of his name to the nursery rhyme Old King Cole.

Nat began performing in the mid-1930s and joined forces with his older bother, Eddie Coles, for awhile.  Eddie, a bass player, became a member of Nat's band and they performed regularly at clubs.  In 1936, under Eddie's name, they made their first professional recording.  Nat later joined the national tour of the Broadway musical revue Shuffle Along as a pianist.  When the show failed in Long Beach, California, he remained there for a time, but eventually returned to Chicago.

Back in Chicago, Nat began to achieve success.  In 1937, he started to assemble what would be known as the King Cole Trio.  They toured a great deal and finally made the charts in 1943 with "That Ain't Right," a song written by Nat himself.  In 1944, the group landed another hit with "Straighten Up and Fly Right," based on one of Nat's father's sermons.  Other hits followed such as the classic Yuletide favourite "The Christmas Song," and the romantic ballad "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons."

In the 1950s, Nat "King" Cole emerged as a popular solo performer.  He churned out numerous hits such as "Mona Lisa," "Too Young and "Unforgettable."  In November of 1956, Nat made television history when he hosted his own national variety program, The Nat "King" Cole Show, becoming the first major African-American entertainer to do so.  The show featured guest performances by stars such as Count Basie, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, the Mills Brothers and Ella Fitzgerald.

Nat's show was short-lived  and plagued with problems.  Due to the racial attitudes of the 1950s, it failed to attract a wide audience and it lacked a national sponsor.  American television audiences and advertisers were not yet willing to accept and support black performers.  NBC, to its credit,  did not give up on the series and kept it on the air at a loss for as long as it could, until December of 1957.  After the demise of his variety show, Nat's career took a downturn in the late 1950s.  The singer, however, was back on top in the early 1960s with songs such as "Ramblin' Rose" and the light-hearted "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer." 

At the time of his death in 1965, Nat "King" Cole was still enormously popular.  His final television appearance was on an episode of The Jack Benny Program which aired on January 21, 1964.  In the episode, Jack introduces Nat as "the best friend a song ever had."  Cole banters with the comedian and croons "Day In, Day Out" and "When I Fall in Love."

Nat's private life certainly had its ups and downs.  When he was only 17, Nat married Nadine Robinson, a dancer from St. Louis who had worked with him in Shuffle Along.  The couple were married by a judge in Michigan on January 27, 1937.  They divorced in 1948.

Just six days after his divorce from Nadine became final, Nat remarried.  This time his bride was widowed singer Maria Hawkins Ellington and the wedding took place March 28, 1948 (Easter Sunday) at a Abyssinian Baptist church in Harlem, New York.  It was a lavish affair attended by celebrities such as Sarah Vaughan and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.  Eddie Coles was the best man and the newlyweds honeymooned in Mexico.

Nat and Maria raised five children: daughter Natalie Maria (born 1950); daughter Carole (1944-2009), adopted in 1949 after her mother, Maria's sister, died of tuberculosis; adopted son Nat Kelly Cole (1959-1995), and twin daughters Casey and Timoline (born 1961).  Natalie Cole, of course, is a successful singer.  Carole, an actress, succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 64 and Nat Kelly, an actor, died of complications from AIDS when he was just 36.

Nat "King" Cole was a heavy smoker of menthol cigarettes.  He believed that they enhanced his voice and gave it a rich sound.  In 1964, Nat was diagnosed with lung cancer.  When the cancer was discovered, Nat was having an affair with Swedish-born actress Gunilla Hutton.  Hutton, best known as the second Billie Joe Bradley on Petticoat Junction (1965-66) was also a regular cast member of Hee Haw. 

Daughter Natalie referred to the affair in her autobiography Angel on My Shoulder

. . .  I knew nothing of Gunilla Hutton, the woman Dad had been having an affair with, but my mother certainly did, and it must have made dealing with the aftermath of his death even more difficult for her.

Maria stayed with Nat during his illness and remained with him until his death in Santa Monica, California at the age of 45.  After Nat's passing, she married writer and producer Gary DeVore on October 17, 1969.  They divorced in 1976 and Gary died in 1997.  Maria is now 79 years old.

Click on the link below to watch an excerpt from the 1957 film Istanbul in which Nat "King" Cole sings "When I Fall in Love."

- Joanne

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Thoughts


It's easy to fall in love.  It's considerably more difficult to build and maintain a healthy relationship.  That, of course, takes time and patience.  There was a recent story in the news about an American couple from Wisconsin who celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary.  Their names are Dorothy and Roy Fleming and they were married on February 6, 1932.  Roy, who was a spry 20-years-old on their wedding day is now 100.  His 15-year-old bride, Dorothy, is now a feisty 95-year-old. 

Ray is a long-retired tool-and-dye maker with an easy-going personality.  He and Dorothy met at an ice- skating rink in Milwaukee.  Her father had some misgivings about his daughter getting married at such a young age.  Yet, the marriage certainly did endure.  Dorothy and Ray have two sons, Earl and Allan, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

What is their secret?  Well, Dorothy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it's compromise, knowing when to give in.


Real love is a pilgrimage.  It happens when there is no strategy, but it is very rare because most people are strategists.

- Anita Brookner (1928-  British novelist and art historian
From Women Writer Talk [1989]

Love - is anterior to Life -
Posterior to Death -
Initial of Creation, and
The Exponent of Earth -

- Emily Dickinson (1804-1881), American poet
Love - is anterior to Life

Love is mutually feeding each other, not one living on another like a ghoul.

- Bessie Head (1937-1986), South African-born writer
From A Question of Power [1973]

To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity.

- Soren Kerkegaard (1813-1855), Danish philosopher and theologian
From Works of Love, Hong & Hong translation

Once when I was very young and true,
Someone left me sad -
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that was very bad.
Love is for unlucky folk.
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that I think is worse.

- Dorothy Parker
A Very Short Song

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

- Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), American writer
From A Farewell to Arms

I never knew any more beautiful than you: 
I have hunted you under my thoughts,
I have broken down under the wind
And into the roses looking for you.
I shall never find any
greater than you.

- Carl Sandburg, American poet
From The Great Hunt

Let's finish with some quotes from a couple of Frenchmen since the French like to talk about "l'amour."

People who are not in love fail to understand how an intelligent man can suffer because of a very ordinary woman.  This is like being surprised that anyone should be stricken with cholera because of a creature so insignificant as the comma bacillus.

- Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922), French novelist and critic


Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing loftier nothing grander, nothing pleasanter, nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven or on earth.

- Henri Matisse French artist (1869-1954)



- Joanne

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The death of Whitney Houston - so many questions


On the eve of the Grammy Awards, fans around the world are mourning the death of singer Whitney Houston.  I was at a movie theatre last night when I heard the sad news.  Given Houston's struggle with substance abuse, my first thought was that she had died of a drug overdose.  The circumstances of her death, however, remain unclear pending a coroner's investigation.  An autopsy has been scheduled.

All we know for certain is that Whitney was found unconscious in a bathtub in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.  Paramedics were called to the scene, but efforts to revive her failed.  She was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. on February 11, 2012.  Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen declared that there "were no obvious signs of criminal intent." 

Until more information comes to light, the star's tragic demise will be shrouded in mystery.  There are just too many questions.  On the surface, things were looking brighter for the troubled songstress.  She was in the midst of a comeback and she had an ABC television movie in the works.  CNN reported that a music executive who was staying on the floor above Houston's suite had seen Whitney swimming in the hotel pool with her 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.  The music exec said that mother and daughter looked very happy.  Other news sources, however, tell a different story.  They report that two days prior to her death Whitney appeared dishevelled and confused.  She was sweating profusely and she smelt of alcohol. 

Whitney Houston was only 48 years old and she will be missed.  Born in Newark, New Jersey on August 9, 1963, she was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.  What a pedigree!  No wonder she had such a magnificent voice.  Imagine being able to say that your godmother is "Lady Soul" herself. 

After learning of Whitney's passing, a distraught Aretha said in a brief statement, "It's so stunning and unbelievable.  I couldn't believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen."  Many others are shocked and saddened.  Through the years, we watched the painful decline of a great talent.  It was a decline that began with her disastrous involvement and abusive marriage to Bobby Brown.  She was swept into the whirlwind of his drug-addled world and she could not escape from it.

I went to a Whitney Houston concert here in Toronto back in the 1980s when she was in her prime.  It was at the old CNE stadium and I will never forget it.  What a voice!  How beautiful she was!  It's a shame that someone with so much talent had to end up in such a terrible state!  Rest in peace, Whitney.  You'll be singing with the angels.

- Joanne

Mitt Romney and The Donald


Real estate tycoon Donald Trump is supporting Mitt Romey in his bid to win the Republican nomination for president.  I've tried to imagine a phone conversation between the two men,  Maybe it would sound something like this . . .

TRUMP:  Hey, Mitt, how are you doing?  Donald Trump here.  I called to congratulate you on your win in the Maine caucuses yesterday.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Donald.  That was a much-needed win.  Santorum was gaining momentum.  Last Tuesday, he won in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

TRUMP:  Don't worry, my friend. You're gonna be the next president.  With me on your side, you can't miss.  I'm backing you one hundred per cent, Mitt, and Donald Trump doesn't put his money on a loser.  That's not how I became a billionaire.  Santorum's having his moment right now, just as Gingrich had his.  He'll fade away.  You'll be the one still standing when it's all over.

ROMNEY:  I sure hope so!  Thanks for the words of encouragement, Donald.

TRUMP:  My pleasure.  Just think of me as your Trump card.  Now let's repeat our favourite phrase again!

ROMNEY:  Oh, I'm so excited!  I just love repeating that phrase.  It makes me tingle all over.

TRUMP:  Okay, then.  Together now. (Romney joins in) YOU'RE FIRED!  YOUR FIRED!  YOU'RE FIRED1)

ROMNEY (sighs contentedly): Aren't those the most beautiful words in the English language?  Boy, I really feel good now.  I'm pumped!  I can't wait to take on Obama!

TRUMP:  That's what I like to hear - enthusiasm.  So what is your first priority, Mitt?  The economy?  Making war on Iran?  More tax breaks for the wealthy?  What are you thinking about?

ROMNEY:  My first priority is making sure Barack Obama doesn't get a second term.  My chances of defeating him are better if the economy doesn't do so well.  He'll get blamed and I won't.  Once I'm president, of course, my policies will improve America's economy.  I'll cut jobs in order to create jobs.  That's what I'll do!  No pain, no gain.  That's what I always say.

TRUMP:  Good for you!  This is war!  That pinko is ruining this country.  We have to return to free enterprise and fiscal restraint.

ROMNEY:  That's for sure!  The free market always works best.  We shouldn't let anything interfere with it.  That's why we have to stop Obama.  He even stole one of my ideas (ahem) - that is - before I realized how wrong I was.  I'm afraid it was a lapse in judgement on my part.

TRUMP:  Oh, you must mean the health care law you enacted when you were governor of Massachusetts.  I'm glad you've seen the light. 

ROMNEY:  Don't worry, Donald.  Once I'm president, ObamaCare will be history!  Pronto!  The sooner the better!

TRUMP:  Now you're talking!   That's the spirit!  Well, I have to go now.  I've got another business deal to work on.  But before I go, I have to make a comment about your hair.  You are so lucky to have such a full head of hair and that touch of grey on your temples looks so distinguished and presidential.  But if you start to develop some bald spots, I'll be happy to send you to my personal hair stylist.  He'll give you a great comb over.

ROMNEY:  Well, my hair is still pretty thick, Donald.  If I should start losing it, I may take you up on your offer.

TRUMP:  All right, then, Mitt.  Goodbye.

ROMNEY:  Oh Donald, one more thing before you go.

TRUMP:  What's that?

ROMNEY:  Can we say "you're fired" together one more time?


- Joanne

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let's talk about mental illness


It isn’t easy to talk about mental illness. It’s a subject many people feel uncomfortable discussing and prefer to avoid. Talking about it reminds us of our vulnerabilities and evokes some of our deepest fears and prejudices. Frankly, it makes us squirm. We would like to sweep the problem under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exit – but we can’t!

The mentally ill are with us every day, suffering a torment that is just as real and just as painful as physical illness. The difference is that it is not as visible as a physical disease or a disability. Although you can clearly see a cane or a wheelchair or a prosthetic device, you cannot see the anguish that goes on inside someone’s head. This is the brutal reality that the mentally ill and their families have to live with constantly. This is why mental illness is the cruellest of illnesses and extremely stressful for all concerned.

The late Christopher Reeve was a passionate champion for those suffering with spinal cord injuries and Michael J. Fox is a tireless advocate on behalf of the victims of Parkinson’s disease. Although these two actors have been courageous and outspoken, it must be remembered that non-celebrities have also stepped up to the plate. Think of Canada’s Terry Fox and his run for cancer research or Canada’s Rick Hansen and his support of spinal cord injury research.  The aforementioned heroes have all raised awareness and collected funds to combat debilitating physical illnesses, but what about mental illnesses? Who will be the champion of the mentally ill?

Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby, when it comes to mental illness. We have better medication to control mental disease and better facilities for the mentally ill. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go and the main obstacle remains society’s attitude toward mental disease. Just as the physically disabled continue to face prejudice and misunderstanding, so do the mentally disabled. There is still a stigma attached to both illnesses.

Nevertheless, public attitudes have improved, particularly toward the physically disabled. Gone are the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States. When Roosevelt became paralyzed after contracting polio in 1921, his disability was considered an embarrassment, a sign of weakness. Photographs of FDR in his wheelchair are rare because he was careful not to appear publicly in it. In fact, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library has only three photos of the former president in a wheelchair.

Rare photo of FDR in wheelchair with his granddaughter and dog Fala

In public, Roosevelt wore heavy leg braces and supported himself with a cane. Many people were unaware during his lifetime that FDR used a wheelchair in private. Such deception would not be necessary if Roosevelt were alive today. On the surface, we are much more enlightened. Prejudice and unenlightened attitudes toward the physically disabled still exist, of course, but they are far more subtle and more insidious. In the case of mental illness, great deal of fear and misconception remains. For example, some people erroneously believe that schizophrenics have a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde split personality.

It is easier to cheer for someone with a physical disability. You can visualize it. You can see a valiant Terry Fox limping bravely with one leg. You can see Michael J. Fox speaking out about Parkinson’s disease as his body shakes. Their struggle is clearly and overtly visible. The mentally ill face a constant inner struggle that is often nightmarish and tortuous.  It must be emphasized, however, that mental illness is different from the usual stress and difficulties that everyone encounters for time to time.

Some celebrities and well-known personalities have been open about their struggles with mental illness. Actress Patty Duke and Margaret Trudeau, ex-wife of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, come to mind. Catherine Zeta-Jones has also revealed that she is battling bipolar disorder.

Yet when was last time you saw a mentally ill person portrayed in a positive way on a television program or in a film? At the moment, I cannot think of an example. That is why I have written this. I want to raise awareness to the plight of the mentally ill because 20% of Canadians will experience mental illness during their lifetime - regardless of ethnic background, education and socioeconomic status.  It's time we talked about it and this is my way of stepping up to the plate. 

- Joanne