Thursday, September 12, 2019

When to use "every day" and "everyday?"

Sly and the Family Stone

Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I'm in

I am everyday people, yeah yeah . . . 

- Lyrics from the song "Everyday People"
By Sly Stone

Back in 1969, Sly and the Family Stone had a big hit with the song "Everyday People."  They proclaimed loudly that they were part of the whole of humanity.  In reference to the song title, "everyday" is single word and an adjective.  It modifies a noun, and it is used to describe something as normal and commonplace.  "Everyday" people are ordinary people.  Your ordinary routine is your "everyday routine."

Does that mean that "everyday" as a single word is always correct?  No, it does not.  "Every day" (two words) is a noun phrase, consisting of the adjective "every" PLUS a noun "day." as in "The athlete runs every day between 10 and 11 a.m."  "Every day" provides information about time.
When it describes time, it usually appears at the beginning or end of a clause.

So, what is a quick way to remember whether to use "every day" or "everyday?"  Well, keep in mind that "every day" is synonymous with "each day."  If you can replace "each day" with "every day" and it makes sense, then you are on the right track.  If it doesn't look right, then use "everyday."

Here are some sentences in which "everyday" and "every day" are used correctly.

I get up early in the morning and jog.  That is my everyday routine.

I eat a healthy breakfast every day.

Those are just my everyday shoes.  I don't wear them on special occasions.

That's an everyday occurrence in our house. (meaning "daily")

Every day, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. (meaning "each day")

Note: A hyphen between "every" and "day" should not be used.

Literary Quote of the Day

From:  The Scarlet Letter

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), American novelist and short story writer
Published: 1850 
Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Joanne

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fun with words: Malapropisms are amusing

Definition of malapropism from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

malapropism (noun): the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase especially : the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context 

Example of a malapropism: "Don't is a contraption." (rather than "a contraction")

According to teacher Gay Miller of North Carolina on the website Book Units Teacher: Educational Material for Upper Elementary, the definition of "malapropism" has been clarified.  A malapropism must contain the following three features:

1.  The new word replacing the original must have a different meaning.

2.  The substituted word must have a similar sound to the original word.

3.  The word must be recognized in the speaker's native language.

Origin of malapropism

The word comes from a character named Mrs. Malaprop in the play The Rivals (1775) by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), an Irish satirist, playwright and poet.  Mrs. Malaprop is a humorous aunt who becomes involved in the schemes and dreams of young lovers.  Throughout the play, she.  uses incorrect words to express herself.  Mrs. Malaprop's name is derived from the French term malapros, meaning "inappropriate."  The popularity of The Rivals led to the creation of the literary term "malapropism," meaning the use of an incorrect word, whether by accident or design, that sounds similar to the appropriate word.  The character committing the malapropism is usually somewhat silly or uneducated.

Richard Brimsley Sheridan

Here are some examples of Mrs. Malaprop's malapropisms:

". . . promise to forget this fellow. - to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory." (obliterate)

". . . she's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of Nile." (alligator)

"He is the very pine-apple of politeness." (pinnacle)

". . . behold this very day, I have interceded another letter from the fellow." (intercepted)

Malapropism is also referred to as Dogberryism, after the constable Dogberry, a comical character in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  In the play, he is the leader of a group of bumbling police watchmen and he frequently uses malapropisms.  For example  Dogberry says, "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons."  He means to say "apprehended two suspicious persons."

Below is a depiction of Dogberry by English artist Henry Stacy Marks.(1829-1898).

Other examples of malapropisms:

"For all intensive purposes" instead of "For all intense and purposes"

"Texas has a lot of electrical votes," - Attributed to baseball great Yogi Berra.(1925-2015)
(Although Yogi is given credit for many errors of the English language, he is also credited with many remarks that he never uttered.  He allegedly made the comment about Texas to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, who was running for president and was throwing out the first pitch at a Houston Astros game (Yogi was then a coach for the Astros).  According to the story, Bush told Berra  that Texas is very important. and Berra replied, "I know, Texas has a lot of electrical votes," mistaking "electrical" for "electoral."  However, this conversation was never recorded in the Houston Chronicle or in any other newspaper.  The accuracy of the quotation remains uncertain and unverified).

Yogi is credited with the following malapropisms:

"He hits from both sides of the plate.  He's amphibious," rather than "ambidextrous."

"Take it with a grin of salt," rather than "grain of salt."

"He had to use a fire distinguisher," instead of "extinguisher."

"He's a wolf in cheap clothing," rather than "sheep's clothing."

"My friend has extra-century perception," rather than "extra-sensory perception."

"I need five more to make my quotation for the month," instead of "quota."

"Michelangelo painted the Sixteenth Chapel," instead of "Sistine Chapel."

"My brother takes me for granite," rather than "takes me for granted."

"Isn't that an expensive pendulum around that woman's neck?" rather than "expensive pendant around that woman's neck."

"Jesus healed the leopards," rather than "lepers."

"The doctor administered the anecdote," rather than "antidote."

"The computer was invested with viruses," rather than "infested with viruses."

Here is a selection of malapropisms from George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

"We are making steadfast progress," instead of "steady progress."

"It will take time to restore chaos and order," rather than "law and order."

"The law I sign today directs new funds . . . to the task of collecting vital intelligence . . . on weapons of mass production," rather than 'weapons of mass destruction."

In the 1933 film, Sons of the Desert, comedian Stan Laurel refers to a "nervous shakedown," rather than "nervous breakdown."  He also calls "the exalted ruler, "the exhausted ruler." 

Oliver Hardy (left) and Stan Laurel in "Sons of the Desert"

Archie Bunker, as played by Carroll O'Connor, on TV's All in the Family, was in the habit of using malapropisms.  Here are some sample's of Archie's way with words:

An "ivory shower" (rather than an ivory tower)

A house of "ill refute" (rather than ill repute)

A "pig's eye" (rather than a pig sty)

"Nectarines of he god" (rather than nectar of the gods)

- Joanne

Friday, September 6, 2019

Is there a difference between "crucial" and "critical?"


The words "crucial" and "critical" are used interchangeably.  Yet there is an important distinction between them.  One of the meanings of "criticaL," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is "TURNING POINT," as in the following:

CRITICAL: of relating to or being a turning point or specially important juncture

a critical phase such as
relating to or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be expected..

also: being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger or death.
critical care

a patient listed in critical condition

Crucial and critical are adjectives relating to something important, significant or vital.  However "critical" implies something much more serious.  We say that after a heart attack, a person is in "critical condition" NOT "crucial condition."  The outcome of a particular basketball game is "crucial" for a team's chances of making the playoffs, but it is NOT "critical."  It is not a matter of life or death.

The difference betwen "crucial" and "critical" is a matter of degree, but there is a distinction.


From: On The Road

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Author: Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), American novelist and poet
Published: 1957

Jack Kerouac

From: Invisible Man

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat."

Author: Ralph Ellison (1914-1994), American novelist, literary critic and scholar
Published: 1952

Ralph Ellison

- Joanne

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Vocabulary Quiz #3

Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #3

Ten words beginning with the Letter "A"

Number 16 presents a multiple choice vocabulary quiz.  Choose the correct definition of each word listed.  There are ten words for you to define.  Ready, set, go!

1.  angling (verb)

A.  Teasing

B.  Struggling, having difficulty

C.  The action or sport of fishing with hook and line

D.  Marching in a parade

E.  Munching on food

2.  abstruse (adjective)

A.   illegal, criminal

B.   Poverty-stricken, down and out

C.   A description for a kind of triangle

D.  Sharp, biting, acerbic

E.  Difficult to comprehend

3.  avuncular (adjective)

A.  Round, circular

B.  Suggestive of an uncle, especially in kindness or geniality

C.  Heavy, a burden, difficult to transport

D.  Uninformed, lacking knowledge

E.   Happy-go-lucky, jovial, personable, easy to get along with

4.  apostasy (noun)

A.  An act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith

B.   An act of abandoning a ship or crew, mutiny

C.   Paganism

D.  The act of betraying one's country by accepting bribery for personal and financial gain

E.  Voting in an election under false pretenses.

5.  ascertain (verb)

A.  To ignore the truth or that which is certain

B.  To conceal the truth

C.  To find out or learn with certainty

D.  To accidentally discover

E.   To argue that something is absolutely certain or true

6.  abstemious (adjective)

A.  Fasting often and for long periods

B.  Completely abstaining from drinking alcohol, as of a teetotaller

C.  Consuming a great deal of food and alcohol

D.  Marked by restraint, especially in the eating of food or the drinking of alcohol

E.  As of a person who has quit drinking due to alcoholism

7.  adherent (noun)

A.  A particular glue or sticky substance

B.  A follower of a leader, party or profession; a believer in a particular idea or church

C.  A frequent churchgoer

D.  A political protester

E.   One has always lived in the same city

8.  affront (verb)

A.  To insult especially to the face by behaviour or language, to cause offence to

B.  To shun someone by avoiding them or not responding to their phone calls or messages

C.  To become involved in a cause or a project

D.  To face someone after an awkward or embarrassing incident

E.  To imitate someone

9.  apocalyptic (adjective)

A.  Relating to an unpleasant time in one's life

B.  In sports, relating to a great contest, game or competition

C.  The performance of magic to prevent a disaster

D.  Foreboding imminent disaster or final doom

E.   The fulfilling of a great prophecy

10.  apoplexy (noun)

A.  A state of fearfulness and extreme anxiety

B.  A state of deep depression

C.  A state of intense and almost uncontrollable anger

D.  Severe acne

E.   A state of being very energetic

(Note:  The definitions for the correct answers have been taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary or thesaurus)

1.  C
angling (verb): The action or sport of fishing with hook and line

2.  E
abstruse (adjective): Difficult to comprehend, as in "an abstruse theory or idea."

3.  B
avuncular (adjective): Suggestive of an uncle, especially in kindness or geniality

4.  A.
apostasy: An act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith

5.  C
ascertain (verb): To find out or learn with certainty, as in "ascertain the truth."

6.  D
abstemious (adjective): Marked by restraint, especially in the eating of food or the drinking of alcohol
as in "an abstemious drinker" or "an abstemious diet."

7.  B
adherent (noun): A follower of a leader, party or profession; a believer in a particular idea or church, as in "adherents of Sigmund Freud," "adherents of conservatism," "adherents of Christianity."

8.  A
affront (verb):
To insult especially to the face by behaviour or language as in He was affronted by her rudeness.  To cause offence to, as in "laws that affront society"

9.  D
apocalyptic (adjective): Foreboding imminent disaster or final doom, as in "apocalyptic warnings," PROPHETIC

10.  C
apoplexy (noun): A state of intense and almost uncontrollable anger, as in The politician's speech caused apoplexy among the members of the audience.

- Joanne 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Do "convince" and "persuade" mean the same thing?


Welcome to our new format!  Number 16 is changing.  As of today (September 1, 2019),  its focus will be narrower.  It will become a site devoted to language, including vocabulary, quotations, grammar and literature.  I started this website back in 2010 and I have enjoyed writing it immensely.  It has dealt with a wide variety of topics over the years, but the time has come to concentrate on one major area of interest.

All my writings will remain archived as well as the material on the tabs.  I will continue with my monthly quotes and there will be vocabulary quizzes.

- Joanne


Are "convince" and "persuade" synonyms?  Should they be used interchangeably?  Although people commonly do so, the answer is no.  There is a distinction.  They are not exactly the same.  The best way to understand the difference between the two words is to remember the following rhyme:


I can "convince" you of something based on facts and reason.  I can persuade you to do something.  "Persuade" has to do with action., while "convince" has to do with the mind.


I convinced him of my sincerity.
I persuaded her to walk to the park with me.

The infinitive is used with persuade - "to walk."

It is extremely common to use "convince" and "persuade" interchangeably.  In fact, most people do.  It t is still preferable, however, to make the distinction.


"No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be."

- Bram Stoker, (1847-1912), Irish author
From Dracula [1897]

"Reducing inequality should be a primary goal of public policy.  The measure of a society is the quality of life throughout the pyramid, not just at the top, and a growing body of research shows that those born at the bottom today have less chance than in earlier generations to achieve prosperity or to contribute to society's general welfare 

This is not just bad for those who suffer, it is bad for the affluent too.  When wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few, studies show, total consumption declines and investment lags."

- Benjamin Applebaum
The New York Times, September 1, 2019


Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author of science fiction and adventure.  He was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 1, 1875 (144 years ago today).  He is best known as the creator of the jungle hero, Tarzan.  Another of his characters was John Carter, a heroic Mars adventurer.

Burroughs died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950 at the age of 74. 

- Joanne

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

If Leafs lose Mitch Marner, it's their own fault

Mitch Marner
If the Toronto Maple Leafs lose Mitch Marner, they have only themselves to blame.  Marner isn't saying much, only that he is trying to enjoy the summer.  In July, however, the 22-year-old restricted free agent indicated that he would refuse to go to training camp without a contract.  Well, July has turned into late August.  September and Labour Day are fast approaching.  As of this writing, there is still no agreement between Mitch and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If negotiations continue to stall, the talented right winger may practise with the Zurich Lions of the Swiss League  According to the Lions, an agent has inquired about the possibility of Marner training with the team if contract talks with the Maple Leafs do not progress.  So, there is a very real chance that Mitch may be heading to Switzerland this fall, although the Zurich Lions tweeted that whether and when Mitch will train with them, "is not decided yet."

It appears that Marner is ready to play hardball and hold out for what he wants, otherwise he'll walk.  Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has stated that if Mitch Marner or any other Toronto free agent signs an offer sheet with another team, the Leafs might let the player go.  Of course, this may be just posturing on the part of both parties in order to speed up the process.

Even so, Marner may not back down on his demands and the Leafs have a cap limit.  This is all too reminiscent of last year's dispute with William Nylander.  The Swedish forward held out, but eventually acquiesced to a six-year $45-million contract in December of 2018.  The Nylander agreement carries a salary cap hit of just over $6.96 mullion for the next five seasons.

My question is this: Why did the Maple Leafs agree to invest so much in William Nylander, especially when they knew they would have to deal with Auston Matthews and then Marner?  In February of  2019, the Leafs signed Matthews to a five-year contract extension with an annual average value of $11.634 million.  At least Matthews had proven something.  In 2016-17, for example, he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.  He played 82 games and established Maple Leaf rookie records for goals (40) and points (69) in a season.  In 2017-2018, he played 62 games and recorded 34 goals, and 29 assists for 63 points. In 2018-19, Matthews appeared in 68 games, scored 37 goals and registered 73 points.

Mitch Marner has also proven his value,  Last season, he played 82 games, scored 26 goals and recorded a whopping 68 assists for 94 points.  William Nylander, on the other hand, demanded a great deal before he had even proven his worth.  The Leafs actually played well during the time he sat out.  When Nylander finally returned, his play was laclustre and mediocre.  He certainly has potential and will most likely have a better season this year.  Still, I don't think he'll ever have the skill and finesse of a Mitch Marner.  If the Leafs hadn't made that lucrative deal with Nylander, they would have enough cap to afford Mitch Marner.  I hope they haven't lost Marner for Nylander's sake.  If Toronto had to give up one of those three young players due to the salary cap, it should have been William Nylander.

EDITOR'S UPDATE:  Fortunately, the Maple Leafs were able to reach an agreement with Mitch Marner on Friday, September 13, 2019.  He signed a six-year contract with an average annual value of $10.893 million.  It will be good to see Number 16 in a Leafs uniform again.  I am also pleased that the Leafs will finally select a captain.

- Joanne

Monday, August 19, 2019

America and guns

Here's how President Donald Trump has responded to recent questions about gun control:

"So, Congress is working on that. They have bipartisan committees working on background checks and various other things. And we'll see. I don't want people to forget that this is a mental health problem. I don't want them to forget that, because it is. It's a mental health problem. And as I say -- and I said the other night in New Hampshire; we had an incredible evening -- I said: It's the people that pull the trigger. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger."

"I'm also very, very concerned with the Second Amendment, more so than most Presidents would be. People don't realize we have very strong background checks right now."

- Donald Trump
August 18, 20119

Does that sound like a president who is going to get serious about gun control?  Does that sound like a man who is going to stop all the gun violence and mass shooting in the United States? Just days after a mass shooting at a garlic Festival in Gilroy, California,, a 21-year-old white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.  The El Paso massacre left 20 dead and 20 injured.  Hours later, it happened again, another mass shooting at a bar in Dayton, Ohio.

President Donald Trump's response to this gun violence and shedding of innocent blood is woefully inadequate.  It is especially galling since Trump has been stoking the flames of white nationalism.  He is also a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The president's reaction to mass shootings is always the same.  He offers his support and prayers to the grieving families.  However, he and his Republican lackeys will never do what really needs to be done in order to protect innocent lives.  They won't do it because they need the support of the NRA and right-wing conservatives to win re-election in 2020.  Trump and the Republicans have to save their political skins, which seems to be more important to them than protecting Americans from gun violence.

This can't go on.  It is a scourge and it has to stop.  Most Americans know it.  Still, Trump and his cohorts refuse to address the problem.  They refuse to do what must be done.  Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have no place on the streets of America or on any city streets.  They should be banned PERIOD.

Trump stated that the U.S. already has strong background checks now.  If so, why are there so many incidents of gun violence?  Why are so many weapons falling into the hands of mentally ill people and white supremacists?  Why are so many Americans, young and old alike, rich and poor alike, living in fear of mass shootings?

Donald Trump has blamed video games and mental health for the shootings.  Yet, he refuses to take any measures to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who are mentally unstable.  He and the Republican-controlled Senate refuse to back legislation allowing stringent background checks.  Of course, Trump will never acknowledge his own complicity in the mass shootings, nor will the Republicans, nor will the NRA.  They just keep on repeating the specious argument that "guns don't kill people" ad nauseum.  Yes, people pull the trigger, but people also allow guns to be sold to the mentally ill and to  militant white supremacists.  More guns always equals more gun violence.  That's why countries with stricter gun laws have fewer shootings.  People who have to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  Guns can't do that.

The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows that:

89% of Americans favour expanded background checks for gun purchases.

76% favour "red flag laws" to identify dangerous persons and deny them guns

75% favour a voluntary buyback program in which the government would purchase firearms from current owners.

62% of Americans favour a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons.  (Why isn't that number higher?)

Only 25% favour the banning of handguns and 46% of Americans say someone in their household owns a gun.

For comparison, here a recent poll on gun control and gun ownership in Canada.  According to an Angus Reid poll (released May 24, 2019), found the following.:

* Half of Canadians (50%) consider gun violence a serious problem for the country, while half say political and media coverage of this has been overblown.

* 75% of Canadians would support a complete ban on assault weapons.

* 61% wanted to see a complete ban on handguns in Canada (support for the ban is considerably higher in rural areas than urban areas).

* Of those surveyed, 77% said they've never owned a gun, while 14% currently owned a gun.  9% had owned a gun in the past.

* Two-thirds of Canadians (65%) said they would support a tax
funded buy-back program for gun owners if the government banned handguns, assault weapons or both.

 - Joanne

Vocabulary Quiz #2

Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #2

Number 16 presents a multiple choice vocabulary quiz.  Choose the correct definition of each word listed.  There are ten words for you to define.  Ready, set, go!

1.  umbrage (noun)

A.  A large mound of garbage or refuse

B.  Leftover residue from a fire, such as ashes and burnt items

C.  Offense or annoyance, a feeling of pique or resentment at some fancied slight or insult

D.  A secret or hidden room in a mansion

E.  A leafy vegetable, most commonly found in tropical and Caribbean countries

2.  countermand (verb)

A.  To attack unexpectedly in battle

B.  To revoke a command by contrary order

C.  To spy on an other country as a double agent

D.  To unlawfully seize private property

E.   To withdraw support from a candidate during an election

3.  piscatory (adjective)

A.  of, related to a blood vessels

B.  of, related to, or dependent on pigs or pig farming

C.  of, related to animals that have fur

D.  of, related to, or dependent on fish or fishing

E.  of, related to swimming or swimming pools

4.  incontrovertible (adjective)

A.  not open to question: INDISPUTABLE

B.  that which is impossible to forget  UNFORGETTABLE

C.  that which can be changed easily

D.  that which is not portable and can not be carried around

E.   of cars, relating to sedans, not convertibles

5.  distended (adjective)

A.  postponed, delayed (as a decision)

B.  enlarged, expanded, or stretched out (as from internal pressure)

C.  shortened in length

D.  chopped up into smaller parts

E.  alone and abandoned

6.  inculcate (verb)

A.  to trespass on someone's property

B.  to invade

C.  to plunder and rob

D.  to teach by example

E.  to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions

7.  renal (adjective)

A.  relating to the lower body

B.  of relating to, involving, or located in the region of the liver

C.  of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the kidneys: NEPHRIC

D.  of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the intestines or the intestines

E.   of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the pancreas

8.  obfuscate (verb)

A.  to make obscure, to confuse

B.  to be obedient

C.  to protest loudly

D.  to be controlling

E.   to demand strongly

9.  scurrilous (adjective)

A.  unreasonable, not logical

B.  not accurate

C.  very aggressive or violent

D.  containing obscenities, abuse, or slander

E.   ridiculous

10.  autophobia (noun)

A.  morbid fear of automobiles

B.  morbid fear of robots

C.  morbid fear of movable objects

D.  morbid fear of being lost

E.   morbid fear of solitude

(Note:  The definitions for the correct answers have been taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary or thesaurus)

1.  C
umbrage (noun): Offense or annoyance, a feeling of pique or resentment at some fancied slight or insult  as in I took umbrage at the speaker's remarks

2.  B
countermand (verb): To revoke a command by contrary order: OVERRIDE, OVERRULE, VETO

3.  D
piscatory (adjective): Of, related to, or dependent on fish or fishing

4.  A
incontrovertible (adjective): Not open to question: INDISPUTABLE as in incontrovertible facts

5.  B
distended (adjective): Enlarged, expanded, or stretched out (as from internal pressure)

6.  E
inculcate (verb): To teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions as to inculcate in him high moral standards

7.  C
renal (adjective): Of, relating to, involving, or located in the region of the kidneys: NEPHRIC, as renal disease

8.  A
obfuscate (verb): To make obscure, as to obfuscate the issue; to confuse, as to obfuscate the reader

9.  D
scurrilous (adjective): Containing obscenities, abuse, or slander as in scurrilous accusations

10.  E
autophobia (noun): Morbid fear of solitude, as in the fear of being alone

- Joanne

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Blockbuster Baddies: Who is the Most Villainous Actress of All Time?

Here is a great infographic for film buffs.  Have you ever wondered about who is the most villainous actress of all time?  Here are some statistics and graphics to provide you with the answer.  I hope that you find this informative and entertaining.

- Joanne

Villainous Actress of All Time?

Bellatrix Lestrange, Mystique and Cruella de Vil.  All familiar names with movie buffs and filmgoers alike due to their cunning, cruelty and villainousness.  One of the greatest female baddies, Maleficent, is due to return to cinema screens in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  Played by Angelina Jolie, her character is a powerful fairy who curses the King's daughter.

Casino Kings have trawled through almost 1,000 movie bios to find the most villainous actress of all time and which villainous role they're most likely to portray.  Hare are the results.

Top Five Most Villainous Actresses

- Glenn Close
- Helena Bonham Carter
- Sigourney Weaver
- Charlize Theron
- Jessica Lange

Glenn Close is the most villainous actress of all time, playing villains in 29% of her movies. She is perhaps most recognisable in her role as cruel dalmatian owner and fur enthusiast Cruella de Vil in the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians.  Close is closely followed by British actress Helena Bonham Carter, who famously portrays Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter franchise.

Unsurprisingly a cheating partner takes the lead for the most villainous role, with a slippery thief and corrupt authority coming in close seconds.

The USA tops the charts for the most villainous as 8 of the 10 actresses are American.

Top Five Villainous Roles

- Cheating Partner
- Slippery Thief
- Corrupt Authority
- Cold Murderess
- Evil Witch


Thursday, August 8, 2019

"My Country, Right or Wrong": Thoughts on Blind Loyalty

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
From a letter by Roosevelt, written in May 1918 and published in The Kansas City Star (as quoted in The Nation at War by James Scherer).

"'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case,  It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober."'

- G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), British author
From The Defendant [1901]

"Burt you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile."

- Patrick O'Brian (1914-2000), English novelist
From Master and Commander [1969]


Lindsey Graham
The day after Donald Trump's infamous July 17, 2019 rally in North Carolina, when Trump stirred up hatred against four progressive Democratic congresswomen (all women of colour, all American citizens), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham made the following comment to reporters.

“for President Trump, if you embrace his policies, doesn’t matter where you come from, he probably likes you.”

- Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican, South Carolina)

There is some truth in what Senator Graham's said regarding Donald Trump.  As long as you agree with the president and wears a red MAGA hat, you are a patriotic American.  However, if your skin is brown or black and if you do not agree with the president's policies, if you are (horrors) a card-carrying Democrat, then you are characterized is an enemy, an alien, a communist, "the other."  That's why there are few African-Americans or Latinos at Donald Trump's hate rallies.

As a Trump supporter and enabler, the senator is horribly misguided.  If he truly agrees with Trump's views on loyalty and patriotism, then he is not fit to be a member of the United States Senate.  He does not comprehend the essence of democratic dissent and free speech.

"My country, right or wrong" is the philosophy of the Archie Bunkers of this world.  That's why I subscribe to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, G.K. Chesterton and Patrick O'Brian.  I believe it is incumbent upon a true patriot to criticize his or her own country, to point out what is wrong and what can be improved.  The true patriot cannot sit back and allow injustice to happen without protesting.  It is a civic duty and a responsibility.  I also believe it is dangerous and undemocratic to equate loyalty to one's country with loyalty to one's leader.  That is exactly what the dictators and authoritarian strongmen do.  That's the reason why Donald Trump admires Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin so greatly.  They don't have to tolerate criticism.  They can do what they want.

For Donald Trump, loyalty to the United States means loyalty to him. If one does not agree with him, then one is unpatriotic. This president doesn't seem to grasp the essence of democracy.  He doesn't realize that blind loyalty is not true patriotism.

- Joanne

Monday, July 29, 2019

Another mass shooting in the USA

Ho Hum!  It's a sunny summer day.  There's another mass shooting in the US of A.

According to CNN, a six-year-old boy, a 13 year-old girl and a man in his twenties were killed last night when a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California.  The 19-year-old gunman purchased his AK-47 style rifle legally in Nevada on July 9.  At least 12 others were injured before the killer was shot to death by three police officers.  The victims, whose conditions ranged from fair to serious, were taken to taken to nearby hospitals.  Seven patients with gunshot wounds were transported to Santa Clara County Health System.  Their ages ranged from 12 to 69.  One was in critical condition.  Authorities are searching for a second suspect whom some witnesses claim was involved in the shooting.

It's worth noting that an Instragram post bearing the suspect's name referred to a white supremacist book.   Of course, white supremacists by Trump crowds shouting "Send her back!"

The whole incident absolutely sickens me.  Assault rifles should be banned.  These mass murders have become routine in America.  Innocent people (including children), enjoying a food festival on a summer day, should not have to fear for their lives.  Is this what America has become?  Donald Trump and his Republican lackeys will offer their thoughts and prayers.  Thoughts and prayers are good, but they are not good enough.  Much more is needed.  There must be tighter gun control and more background checks or these shootings will continue unabated.  They'll be more Parklands and Sandy Hooks and Las Vegas shootings.  Don't accept this.  Push for gun control legislation.

America, it's time for action.  Do you want to live this way, fearing for yourselves and your children?  It's time to stop this insanity by voting Trump and his Republicans lackeys out of office in November of 2020.  Tune out the National Rifle Association.  The NRA has blood on its hands.

I am disgusted and saddened beyond words by what happened in Gilroy, California on Sunday, July 28, 2019.  Don't be numb to gun violence.  Don't meekly accept that this is the new reality.


- Joanne

The 10 Most Bankable British Actors

Here is an infographic on the most bankable (and least bankable) British actors.  If you are a fan of British cinema, its facts and statistics should be of great interest to you.  I hope that all film lovers find it useful, informative and entertaining.  

- Joanne


Using data from the 50 highest grossing films, spanning from 1993 to present day, price comparison experts Money Guru analysed which British actors offer the best Return On Investment (ROI) based on their Box Office sales as a leading actor and the respective film budgets. They uncovered that Dame Julie Andrews is the most bankable British actor, offering a staggering 785% ROI and £6.85 for every £1 spent ($8.53 for every $1 spent). 

Here are the 10 most bankable British actors.

Dame Julie Andrews has claimed the title for the most bankable British star, offering a staggering 785% ROI (and £6.85 for every £1 spent) when looking at her worldwide box office sales as a leading actress in nine films. Andrews boasts a career that guarantees sales, with notable films including Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.
The second British film star that drives cinema sales is another actress, Dame Julie Walters, with her huge 737% ROI generated over two Blockbusters. Throughout her career, she has been nominated for two Academy Awards and won a Golden Globe, while also boasting an extensive TV portfolio. While she is a household name within the British film industry, most of her popularity is generated as a supporting star. Yet, compared to Daniel Radcliffe’s 11 films, Walters will get you £6.36 for every £1 spent in just two films.

In third place is another actress, Dame Maggie Smith, with an ROI of 712%. Her ROI was calculated from her starring in seven notable films as the lead, such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Lady in the Van. Additionally, she also offers £6.11 for every £1.

Female British film stars are a better investment than their male counterparts

Surprisingly, it’s the British actresses that offer 15% more value than the British male actors.
In the past few years, there have been high-profile salary discrepancies in the film industry - particularly between male and female stars. It has previously been reported that the world’s 10 highest paid actresses make less than half of the 10 highest paid male actors, when totalling their combined salaries. While gender pay discrepancies are still very much a hot topic, Money Guru’s research suggests that female stars are more likely to produce a hit than their male counterparts.
Only two male actors make the top five list of actors offering the most value, Daniel Radcliffe and Rowan Atkinson. Whereas, Dame Julie Andrews, Dame Julie Walters and Dame Maggie Smith are the top three British film stars that guarantee Box Office success (based on their previous performances).
Previous reports have found that actresses played only 32% of the characters in the world’s top-grossing films of the 21st century, with fewer subsequently cast in lead roles.

Similarly, according to Forbes, the 10 highest paid actresses in 2018 earned a staggering £443 million less than the highest-paid actors. A notable example of the pay discrepancies occurred in 2018, when Michelle Williams received $1,500 for the reshoots of her role in All the Money in the World, compared to the $1.5 million salary of her male co-star, Mark Wahlberg.

‘Mr Bean’ is one of Britain’s most successful actors

Closely following suit to the most valuable actresses are Daniel Radcliffe and Rowan Atkinson.
Daniel Radcliffe is Britain’s ‘Chosen One’ when it comes to male actors with an ROI of 665%. Starring in 11 films, including the Harry Potter film series and The Woman in Black, Radcliffe guarantees Box Office hits and £5.56 for every £1.
However, closely following suit is Rowan Atkinson - otherwise known as the country’s lovable, Mr Bean. Despite stiff competition from Oscar winners, Atkinson is the fifth most bankable actor. His ROI sits at 628%, based on Box Office sales of five films, also offering £5.28 for every £1.
Atkinson’s combined Box Office sales total nearly £1 billion and he has starred in a number of popular TV shows and films, including the Mr Bean and Johnny English franchises.
Other stars making an appearance in the top 10 most bankable include the aforementioned Kate Winslet - boasting 12 films in the lead role - and Sam Worthington, starring in five blockbuster films.

Oscar wins do not guarantee Box Office triumph

The Academy Awards (otherwise known as the Oscars) are considered to be the most prestigious film awards for actors. While the awards are an honour, they do not ultimately spell Box Office success, according to Money Guru’s study. 
When analysing the Box Office success of British actors, Money Guru found that Russell Brand is more likely to bring in sales and provide a better ROI than Oscar winners, with lead roles in the likes of Get Him to the Greek and a supporting role in the hugely popular franchise, Minions. 
Brand’s ROI stands at 226% from just three films, compared to Academy Award winner, Sir Ben Kingsley, who offers an ROI of 208% from eight lead roles.

The 10 Least Bankable British Actors

Steve Coogan is Britain’s least bankable actor

According to the Money Guru study, TV and film star Steve Coogan is Britain’s least bankable actor, based on his Box Office success when cast in the lead role. While his career spans almost 40 years - with four leading roles, including Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa - his average ROI sits at 86%. While Coogan provides £0.13 for every £1, he is well known for his supporting roles in Minions, the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise and Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Surprisingly, Ewan McGregor and Jude Law are the second and third least bankable Brit actors, with ROIs of 144% (£0.44 for every £1) and 149% (£0.49 for every £1) respectively. McGregor has starred in 25 films as the lead, including Oscar winner, Moulin Rouge, and Trainspotting.
Similarly, Jude Law boasts 10 lead roles and has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for Cold Mountain.
Notably, only one actress, Helena Bonham Carter, made the Money Guru list of Britain’s least bankable actors, further reinforcing that actresses offer a better ROI than male actors, and should be considered for more leading roles.

So, the results are in. If you are looking to create a future Box Office hit, it’s worth noting that the top 10 British actresses offer 15% more value than the top 10 male actors - despite making less than half the money and starring in 68% less leading roles.

Standout Stats

  • Dame Julie Andrews is the British actor most likely to guarantee Box Office success, with an ROI of 785% on films with her cast at the lead.
  • Daniel Radcliffe is the British male actor that will guarantee Box Office success (664% ROI) - largely 
  • due to the success of the Harry Potter franchise - closely followed by Rowan Atkinson (628% ROI) and Sam Worthington (622% ROI).
  • ‘Mr Bean’ is one of Britain’s most successful actors. Rowan Atkinson is the fifth most bankable actor. His ROI sits at 628%, based on Box Office sales of five films, also offering £5.28 for every £1 spent ($6.58 for every $1 spent).
  • Surprisingly, women are most likely to ensure a Box Office hit, with Dame Julie Andrews (785% ROI), Dame Julie Walters (737% ROI) and Dame Maggie Smith (712% ROI) in the top three. Kate Winslet (583% ROI) also features in the top 10. 
  • The top three actors most likely to guarantee Box Office sales are women, which is surprising as women are only cast in 32% of leading roles in the film industry.
  • Steve Coogan (86% ROI) is the British actor least likely to guarantee Box Office success, followed by Ewan McGregor (144% ROI ) and Jude Law (149% ROI).
  • Russell Brand (226% ROI) offers a better chance for bigger Box Office sales than Oscar winner, Sir Ben Kingsley (208% ROI) and Oscar-nominated, Jude Law (149% ROI).
  • Oscars wins do not guarantee Box Office triumph. Russell Brand with an ROI of 226% is more likely to bring in sales and provide a better ROI than Oscar winners. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why Canada needs high-speed trains

Why is it so expensive and onerous to travel within Canada?.  It should be much easier for Canadians to explore Canada and enjoy the beauty of their own country.  From sea to shining sea, the Canadian landscape is a panoramic spectacle, but it's often less costly to hop on a flight to Europe than to to fly to other Canadian cities and provinces.

Furthermore, why doesn't our country have a network of high-speed trains.  After all, Canada was built on the promise of a railroad from east to west.  The late author/historian Pierre Berton referred to it as our "National Dream."  So, it is ironic that there is a lack of modern high-speed rail service in this country.  We are in dire need of a high speed train service like the ones overseas, especially in areas such as the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor and in Western Canada, particularly between Calgary and Edmonton.

Unfortunately, plans for a high-speed train from Toronto to Windsor were cancelled by Premier Doug Ford's government.  The project had been approved by Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government in 2018 with an initial budget of $11 billion dollars.  By the year 2025, the trains would have run along the 401 corridor from the GTA to London, Ontario in just two hours, at speeds of up to 250 km/hr.  Then, along came Ford (Groan!), whose budget cuts deprived the people of Southwestern Ontario and the Toronto area of the convenience of using high-speed rail for family visits and commuting to work..  As a result of this penny-pinching foolishness, Ontarians were robbed of benefits of decreased travel time, the creation of new economic opportunities and the reduction of congestion and greenhouse gases.  The service along the Toronto-Windsor corridor would have attracted visitors and business to a growing region with a population of 7 million.

It hasn't always been this way.  From October 31, 1965 until October 29, 1978 (about 13 years), the Canadian National Railway (CN)) provided express passenger train service in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.   The brand name for the service was Rapido.  It began with a Montreal-Toronto route, which was extended to Montreal-Quebec City and later to Toronto-Windsor, Toronto-Sarnia, Toronto-Ottawa and Montreal-Ottawa.  The service ended when CN transferred its passenger service to a government-owned company, Via Rail Canada.

On that Halloween day in 1965.the brand new Rapido, rolled out with much fanfare  Every seat was filled on the inaugural run for what was advertised as North America's fastest inter-city passenger express service.  CN promoted the service with the slogan "From downtown to downtown in just four hours and 59 minutes."  Travel time was decreased from the Toronto-Montreal route by one hour and 16 minutes.

In a CBC radio interview, Rapido conductor Harold Watkins proudly declared, "There's no comparison between the Rapido and our older trains.  The older trains are just like the horse and buggy.  They've had their day."  In a November 8, 1965 article in The Globe and Mail, Bruce West gushed over the Rapido.  He wrote: "The Rapido is more comfortable than most airliners and with a running time of 4 hours and 59 minutes between Canada's largest cities, it doesn't fall a great deal behind the downtown-to-down elapsed time of traveling by air.  From now on, I'm quite sure, the tortoise is going to give the high-flying hare a good run for its money."

In 1965, the price of a one-way coach ticket on the Rapido was $8.  On Fridays and Sundays, the fare jumped to $9.50.  The cost of parlour car tickets ranged from $15 to $19 with a meal included.  "Bistro" cars were sometimes featured in Rapido service trains.  These cars were festooned with red bulbs.  There was piano-based entertainment and alcoholic beverages were served.

Below is a photo of CN Rapido service at Pickering, Ontario in 1968.


So, what went wrong?  Why was high-speed railway travel abandoned in Canada?  Why did we revert to what conductor Harold Watkins compared to a horse and buggy?  Not surprisingly, it was a matter of economics.  CN tried to maintain its passenger service but continued to lose money during the 1970s.

During the 1974 federal election campaign, then-prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau promised a Canadian version of Amtrak, so that passenger rail could be saved from the competitive juggernaut of cars and airplanes.  That was the reasoning behind the formation of Via Rail Canada, first as a division of CN and later as an independent Crown Corporation.  As it turned out, Trudeau's Liberal party was reduced from a majority to a minority in 1974 and Via failed to live up to his lofty expectations.

With such a huge country geographically, it's imperative that Canadians become more familiar with regions other than their own.  High-speed rail is a fixture throughout Europe, Japan and the east coast of the United States.  Why is it that Canada is the only G7 country without a high speed rail system?  Japan has its Shinkansen network, first built in 1964, while France boasts its extensive intercity state-owned Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV).

Below is a 2014 photo of a TGV train leaving Nice, France.


A 2017 article in VICE magazine was headlined "High-Speed Rail is One of Canada's Biggest Failures."  Anthony Perl, a professor of urban studies and political science at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, called Canada "the word's leading laggard when it comes to high-speed rail."  "Even Kazakhstan, I don't mean to pick on them," he said, "has a very successful high-speed rail service."

It seems that governments in Canada are too afraid to take on the costs and the debts incurred.  Canadians are paying the price for this short-sightedness and cowardliness.  Ryan Katz, a political science professor at the University of Ottawa, told VICE: "When governments in the '60s and '70s were more likely to see an expense like that as a big public benefit that was tied into the national interest or other types of modernist objectives, those costs seem justifiable."

It's a pity that Canada has not invested in high-speed trains.  They are more environment-friendly than planes and more economical.  Furthermore, much of the the hassle of airport security can be avoided by travelling by train,.  All aboard!


* CN introduced a Turbo train between Toronto and Montreal in 1968.  It was given that name because it was power-driven by a jet turbo.  On its maiden run, however, the train crashed into a truck near Kiingston, Ontario.  It continually experienced technical problems and was cancelled in 1982.  The Turbo train was expected to reach speeds of 200 km/hr as compared to the Rapido's top speed of
143 k/hr.

* In the United States, the state of California is well on its way to having a clean and green high-speed railway network.  The publicly funded California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR or CHSR) is under construction.  It was established by the California State Legislature and approved by voters in 2008.
Construction began in 2015 after a groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno.

* China has built about 20,000 kilometres of high-speed tracks.

SOURCESVICE, "High-Speed Rail Is One of Canada's Biggest Failures,' by James Wilt, June 26, 2017; CBC Archives, "1965: All aboard the Rapido!"; blogTO, "High speed train between Toronto and Windsor has been cancelled," by Lauren O'Neil; Wikipedia

- Joanne