Saturday, December 31, 2022

My 2023 New Year's Wish List

Last year I posted my personal wish list for 2022.  I promised to let you know which of my wishes came true and to write another wish list for 2023.  

Here's how my 2022 wish list turned out:

In 2022, I wished for COVID-19 to fade away like a bad dream.  That was unrealistic.  It's going to take time and patience,  The right-wingers and anti-vaxxers have held back progress.  Every day, however, scientists are working to find ways to deal with the mutations and variants of this terrible affliction.

Doug Ford

I hoped that Doug Ford's Progressive? Conservatives would lose the Ontario provincial election, on June 2, 2022.  Well, that didn't come true.  Unfortunately, Ford won a majority government, with a 40.8 per cent share of the popular vote. Ford is planning to build Highway 413, 

Ford's folly will be an environmental disaster.  Here's why:

* It will add millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, resulting in over a billion in damages from pollution.

*  Highway 413 would pave over many hectares of Ontario's prized Green Belt, including some of the province's most productive farmland.  

* According to an expert panel study, Highway 413 would only save drivers in the area a mere 30 to 60 seconds a trip.

* Highway 403 is expensive.  It will cost taxpayers billions of dollars and divert money needed for public transit.  It will destroy heritage sites and Indigenous land.

Benjamin Netanyahu 
Back in  2021, I wished that Benjamin Netanyahu would be ousted from power in Israel.  That wish came true, but only temporarily.  After continual political deadlock in Israel, Netanyahu was returned to power in 2022.  On December 29, 2022, he was again sworn in as Prime Minister, leading a hardline right-wing coalition. 

Netanyahu, 73, has been charged with one count of bribery and three counts of breach of trust in three long-running corruption casers.  Of course, he denies any wrongdoing and claims that he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch hunt."  Where have we heard that before?  Kind of sounds like his old friend, a former president who likes cheese burgers and diet coke.

On a happier note, Netanyahu's other friend, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, was voted out of office in an election held on October 30, 2022.  He will leave office on January 1, 2023.  During his presidency, Bolsonaro rolled back protections for Indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest.

Pope Francis
I hoped that Pope Francis would have a successful visit to Canada and that he would issue an apology to the Indigenous peoples regarding the residential schools.  Yes, Pope Francis did visit Canada and he apologized many times.  He travelled a long distance despite serious health issues, and he addressed the Indigenous people on their own territory.  Some were touched and gratified by the pontiff's visit.  Others did not think he said enough, that he should have apologized for the Church as an institution, not only for the actions of members of the clergy.

I wrote, "For the sake of democracy, it is imperative that former president Donald Trump be held accountable for his alleged criminal actions and for his involvement in the January 6, 2001 attempt to overthrow the duly and legitimately elected government of the United State.   I will not say "lock him up."  That's Trump jargon.  I will only say that once he is found guilty in a criminal court of law, he should serve a prison sentence, just like any American citizen.  The rule of law matters."  So far, Trump has not been held accountable, although he is in considerable legal trouble and the January 6th Committee has exposed his wrongdoing.  He may soon be indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

I hoped that the Democrats do well in the 2022  U.S. midterm elections in November.  I hoped that Stacey Abrams would become governor of Georgia and that Beto O'Rourke would become governor of Texas.  Well, the Democrats did better than expected.  They won a majority in the Senate, but they lost control of the House of Representatives by a narrow margin.  Stacey Abrams and Beto O'Rourke were defeated in their bids to be governors of Georgia and Texas respectively.  However, I was pleased that Dr. Oz was defeated in his attempt to become a U.S. senator representing Pennsylvania.  I was also pleased that Herschel Walker lost a runoff election for a senate seat in Georgia.

I hoped that the Toronto Blue Jays make the post-season  in 2022 and that the Toronto Maple Leafs would finally get  past the first round of the playoffs.  The Blue Jays did compete in post-season play, but they were eliminated in their first series against the Seattle Mariners.  They lost the second game of the best-of three-game series to Seattle.

I hoped that whatever happens with regard to COVID-19, the world will take stronger measures to protect our environment.  Some progress has been made, but far more has to be done.

I wished for more peace and harmony in the world in 2022.  Sadly, however, Russia invaded Ukraine in February of this year.

Here is my 2023 wish list:

Like most people, I hope for an end to the horrible conflict in Ukraine, which has caused untold suffering and destruction.  I also hope for further waning of the pandemic.  It is still with us, unfortunately, and will not disappear overnight.  However, I hope that that scientific advances will eventually put an end to the nightmare.

When it comes to sports, I an a homer all the way.  I hope that the Toronto Maple Leafs will advance further than the first round of the playoffs.  If not, big changes should be adopted.  Another ouster in the first round cannot and should not be tolerated by the Leafs or their patient fans.  As for the Blue Jays, they must go deeper into post-season.  Nothing less should be acceptable.  I was pleased that the Toronto Argos won the 2022 Grey Cup and I wish the Toronto Raptors and all the other Toronto teams the best of fortune in 2023. 

Danielle Smith

I hope Premier Danielle Smith's United Conservative Party (UCP) is defeated in the next provincial election in Alberta.  The election is scheduled for May 29, 2023.  I am opposed to Smith's policies and I don't like her Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Elon Musk
I am not a fan of Elon Musk.  He has driven Twitter to the ground/  A majority of Twitter users even voted to remove him as CEO of the company/  In the spirit of democracy, Musk should abide by their wishes, but it doesn't appear that he will.  My wish for 2023 is that Elon Musk will resign as CEO of Twitter or sell it.

I hope that 2023 will be the year that Donald Trump will finally be held accountable for his wrongdoings and for leading an assault on democracy on January 6, 2021.  At the very least, he should not be permitted to run for public office in the United States under the 14th Amendment, Section 3:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

My final wish is that there will be more civility in the world in 2023, and less political and social polarization.  I hope that there will be a greater connection between people and less isolation.

All the best to you and yours in 2023.  I wish you happiness and good health.  In January of, 2024, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of my 2022 wishes came true.

- Joanne

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Reflections on Christmas 2022


"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Today is Christmas Day 2022.  I seek hope in a world that seems to be spinning our of control, with a war in Ukraine, an ongoing pandemic, a lack of civility, and the rise of extremism.  Stability is desperately needed.  That's why the Christmas message is so special.  It never changes.  Peace and goodwill to all is the message that has been sent down through the ages.  It resonates during turbulent times such as these.

Take note that Christmas and Hanukkah are being celebrated at the same time this year.  Christians and  Jews celebrate these two beautiful festivals of light, hope and freedom.  Indeed, people of all faiths hold festivals of light, hope and freedom.  Let us focus on that which we have in common, not on what tears us apart.

I would  like to send a message of hope and support to the people of Ukraine this Christmas.  I am thinking of you in your hour of need, not only today but every day.  I am also thinking of those who are suffering mental or physical anguish, or both.  I am thinking of the marginalized, the poor and destitute, those who suffer from addiction, discrimination and persecution.  I am thinking of those who are suffering from the effects of flooding, hurricanes and all manner of climate change.  Know that you are in my thoughts today and every day.

To readers around the world, I send greetings and best wishes, whatever language you speak, whether you are a person of faith or no faith.  

- Joanne

Friday, December 23, 2022

Hey, Rsss Atkins: The Blue Jays still don't have starting pitching depth

Ross Atkins

The Toronto Blue Jays needed a hard-hitting, left-handed batter.  I've just heard the news that the team has acquired slugger Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks.  That's all well and good, but I fear they may have paid too high a price.  In return for Varsho, an outfielder who has the ability to play catcher, the Jays sent top prospect Moreno to Arizona, along with outfielder Lourdes Guerriel, Jr.   No one knows how good Moreno, a catcher, will turn out to be, but he could be a real star.   It's unfortunate that the Jays did not acquire a starting pitcher in the deal.

Hey Ross Atkins, you must realize how little depth you have in starting pitching.  You have Alex Manoah, Ken Gausman, José Barrios and Chris Bassitt.  But who is the fifth starter.  Are you going to trot out Mitch White or Yusei Kikuchi?  Hyun-Jin Ryu?  Ryu has undergone Tommy John surgery and no one know if he will ever be able to pitch well again.  Mitch White hasn't been able to do the job.  Kikuchi is only effective for a few innings.  He is more suited to the bullpen.  I realize the Jays want to win now, but they need more pitching in order to win regular season games and to contend in post[season play.

Without a decent fifth starter, the Jays will wear out their bullpen.  What will happen if one of the four starters gets injured?  That's a virtual certainty over a long 162-game season.  The Jays are still really thin on starting pitching.  It could be disastrous.

Yes, Atkins has filled a void by acquiring a left-handed outfield slugger.  But what about a fifth starter? That is what is really need.  I'm sure you're well aware of the old adage, Ross.  You can never have enough pitching.  It's too bad you couldn't find a way to keep Ross Stripling.

Atkins has made some moves.  There's still time to get some more pitching.  

- Joanne

Monday, December 19, 2022

Twitter has been ruined by Elon Musk

I will be blunt.  Elon Musk is ruining Twitter, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. I n a Twiiter poll, Musk put his future as CEO of the company on the line.  He asked Twitter users if he should step down and vowed to "abide by the results."  Well, the results are in and 57.6% of the more than 17.5 million voters said they wanted Musk to go. That's a sizeable number, almost 60%.  

The people have spoken and now we will see whether Elon Musk is a man of his word.  He should demonstrate that he has integrity by keeping his promise.  Although I am obviously not a fan of the billionaire business mogul, I will happily give him credit if he abides by his promise.  As Musk himself said after the results of a Twitter poll reversed Donald Trump's ban from Twitter, "Vox Populi, Vox Dei." (Latin for "The voice of the people is the voice of God."  We will soon find out if Musk really meant those words, or will he adhere to a double standard when he himself is involved?

We have witnessed the decline of Twitter since Elon Musk took the helm of the social media site,  It has been infused with Trumpism and censorship of legitimate journalists for being critical of Musk. In fact, I have been receiving many tweets in my email that I am definitely not interested in.  They include videos of fights.

Elon Musk, it's time to listen to your own words and give up being CEO of Twitter.

- Joanne

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Mental health distress line: 988


                                           Call 988 if you are in mental health distress
Please spread the word. 988 is a new phone number (in Canada) that recently went live to help people get help in a mental health crisis. Similar to 911, this suicide and crisis lifeline is dedicated for anyone in need of mental health assistance of any kind. It has already been available in the U.S.

The pandemic has caused an untold amount of mental distress. That's why more attention than ever has to be paid to metal illness and distress. Please be aware of this 988 number. It can save lives. Help is just three numbers away on your phone.

Take care,


Friday, December 2, 2022

New author's webpage for Joanne Madden - The Missing Reporter


To readers of Number 16

I have a brand new author's webpage and I encourage you to check it out.  Please click the link below.

Joanne Madden – Author

Thank you so much for your support.  It is much appreciated.  I value your feedback and I welcome your comments, both praise and criticism - provided that you are respectful. 

 - Joanne

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Congratulations to a championship Toronto team!


The Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup on Sunday, but there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm in their home city.  I didn't hear any horns honking or people cheering loudly. What a shame!  Who knows when the Leafs or the Blue Jays will win a Stanley Cup or a World Series again, maybe not in our lifetimes. 

In a very entertaining game at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, the Argos defeated the highly favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers by a score of 24 to 23.  Winnipeg was denied its third successive Grey Cup victory and the Argos notched the franchise's 18th championship.

 We have a winning team in the Argos and we should relish this Grey Cup championship.  I certainly do, and I will continue to support the Toronto Argonauts and the CFL  Congratulations to the 2022 Grey Cup champions!

- Joanne

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Seven Riddles for a November Day


It's November.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the leaves have fallen off the trees and their branches are bare.  Unfortunately, in many places, the clocks have been changed and it becomes dark very early.  This is the Death Month.  It's the twilight zone between late fall and the bright lights of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year.  That's why a little humour is in order to brighten your day.  So, riddle me this:     

1. The more you take, the more you leave behind.  What am I?

2. What four-letter word can be written forward, backward, or upside down, and can still be read from left to right?

3. What room do ghosts avoid?

4. Which word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

5. I can be hot.  I can be cold.  I can run and I can be still.  I can be hard and I can be soft.  What am I?

6. What is the thing you must give before you keep?

7. What do you call an evergreen that knows karate?


1. Footsteps
3. The Living Room
4. Short
5. Water
6. Your word
7. Spruce Lee    

- Joanne

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Argos are in the Grey Cup!


The Toronto Argonauts don't get much media attention in the city they call home.  You don't hear a great deal of  chatter about them in this town. They may not be the most popular team in T.O., but they are arguably the most successful and prestigious franchise.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967.  It's been 30 years since the Toronto Blue won the first of their back-to-back World Series victories.

The Toronto Argonauts have an illustrious history.  Founded in 1871, the Argos are the oldest existing sports team in North America still using its original name.  The Argos have won 17 Grey Cups, the most recent in 2017.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have won 13 Stanley Cup Championships, the last one being 55 years ago.  The NBA's Toronto Raptors are the new kids in town.  They were founded as an expansion team in 1995 and they won the NBA Championship in 2019,

I strongly support the Canadian Football League.  Its players our more down to earth, because they are nowhere near as wealthy as those in the NHL, NBA,  MLB.  The CFL is ours.  It is uniquely Canadian and its headquarters are not in New York City.   The Grey Cup may not be as glitzy as the Superbowl, but how could it be?  Nobody does glitz like the Americans.  However, they Grey Cup has it own charms and it is more down-home.  It has more history and tradition.  It was first awarded annually in 1909 by Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada, to represent the amateur football championship.  Also, the CFL is the home of the beloved Michael "Pinball" Clemons, a class act in the world of sports.

Congratulations, Argos and best of luck in the 109th Grey Cup.  Bring on those Winnipeg Blue Bombers!  You can be sure that on Sunday, November 20th,  I will be cheering for the Boatmen to win the Canadian professional football championship at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Let's go Double Blue!

- Joanne

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Reflections on the U.S. midterm election results

Well, I feel better after the results of the U.S. midterms.  The Red Wave did not materialize.  Yet, although Democrats had a good night, it seems likely that the Republicans will have control of the House.  If so, that means that a lot of progress will be blocked as the Republicans try to obstruct Joe Biden at every turn, rather than work with him to build a better country.  They will waste time and energy trying to impeach him and undermine his policies.

However, the good news is that the Dems have won a majority of the Senate.  They have fifty Senate seats, regardless of what happens in the runoff in Georgia on December 6th.  Still, if Raphael Warnock defeats Herschel Walker, it will give the Democrats some breathing space and free them somewhat from the influence of Joe Manchin.  It would also be gratifying to see Walker lose. 

I am please that Dr. Oz lost his bid for a Pennsylvania senate seat.  It's unfortunate that Beto O'Rourke lost in Texas.  The Lone Star State has to do something about gun control.  It's a hotbed of mass shootings.  O'Rourke would have saved lives.

The results of  the midterms are heartening.  J. Michael Luttig, a retired conservative judge, described the midterm results as a "resounding victory for American democracy."  Luttig claimed that he did not view the results through a partisan lens.  "I don't think of the mid-term elections in the partisan political terms of whether the Democrats or the Republicans won or lost.'  I think of these midterm elections only in the 'constitutional' terms of whether American Democracy won or lost," he stated.  He went on to say that the American electorate decided to "dispossess those politicians who have betrayed them."

It appears that democracy still has a heart beat in the United States.  Nevertheless, right-wing extremism is not dead, and  Americans must remain vigilant if they wish to preserve their precious democracy.

- Joanne   

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Democracy on the line in the USA


l had to write this letter because I am profoundly disturbed by what is transpiring in the country right next door to mine.  From my perch here in Canada, I've been watching events unfold south of the border.  It seems to me that the American union is in greater peril than at any time since the Civil War of 1861 to 1865.  Sadly, Senator Lindsey Graham warned of "riots in the streets" if Donald Trump is prosecuted for his latest misdeed - taking boxes of classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, some designated "Top Secret."  He put the security of Americans in jeopardy.

Even if Donald Trump is finally held to account for his actions, Trumpism will remain alive.  The Trump agenda will continue to be supported by Republicans in Congress and by many Republican voters.  The former president is the most notorious bully in the world and he behaves like a mob boss. He refuses to accept responsibility.  If he finds himself in hot water, he has two plans ready and waiting.  Plan A is to blame someone else.  It's always someone else's fault  - Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden or all those left-wing Democrats.  Trump's Plan 2 is to take the spotlight off his wrongdoings and accuse others of crimes - Hunter Biden and his laptop, Hillary Clinton and her emails.

There is a moral sickness in America, a lack of civility and empathy.  Frankly, I have difficulty understanding the mentality of some of my American neighbours.  I realize that dyed-in-the-wool Trumpers don't care what Donald Trump does.  As Trump himself famously declared, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and "not lose any voters."  They are just interested in turning the clock back to some kind of Leave it to Beaver era.  Many fear sharing any power with African Americans, Latinos, Asians-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, woman etc.  "Male America Great Again" is a a dog whistle for "Make America White Again."

These stalwart Trump supporters can't go back in time, though.  They will have to give up some of the pie, but they will be kick and scream about it constantly.  

After all Trump has done, he should not be considered a viable candidate for commander and chief of the United States of America.  At the very least, he should not be permitted to run for public office in the United States.  In another era, Trump would not be considered acceptable as a presidential candidate.  Allow me to remind you of a few other incidents in American political history.

* In 1972, Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine was the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Muskie had been Hubert Humphrey's vice-residential running mate in a losing campaign against Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.  During the New Hampshire primary, a letter came to light alleging that Muskie had approved and made light of the term "Canuck" for  French-speaking Canadians.  There were reports that Muskie had shed tears over the accusation.  Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, the aptly named CREEP, was behind the letter.  

* In 1987, Colorado Senator Gary Hart was a leading candidate for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.  During the campaign, Hart, who had a wife and daughter, was linked to a woman named Donna Rice.  , On May 8, 1987, a week after the scandal broke, Hart suspended his campaign when the Washington Post threatened to publish a story about a woman Hart had dated while separated from his wife.

Fast forward to 2016.  On October 6th of that year, a month before the American presidential election, the Washington Post published a video and an article about a very lewd conversation about women between then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and television host Billy Bush.  They were on their way to a taping of Access Hollywood.  During the conversation, Trump described his attempt to seduce a married woman and indicated the possibility that he would start kissing a woman that he and Bush were about to meet.  "I don't even wait," Trump bragged.  "And when you're a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything . . ."  

Trump bragged about groping women, but that did not prevent him from running for president.  News about the recording was made public just two days before the second presidential debate between Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.  Trump issued a statement in which he apologized for the content of the video. but of course he remarked that Bill Clinton had "said far worse on the golf course."  He also dismissed his Access Hollywood remarks as "locker room talk."

It appears that Donald Trump is a Harry Houdini when it comes to escaping from the rule of law and from accountability for his actions.  He may be a master escape artist, but he is not invincible.  He can't and won't evade justice forever.  He will eventually meet his Waterloo.  He must be held accountable in order to demonstrate that no person is above the law, where king or commoner, prince or pauper, Donald J. Trump or John Q. Public.  It is ingrained in the American Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal."

The belief that anyone is above the law is a dangerous and undemocratic concept.  It's something that Richard Nixon believed and it led to the Watergate scandal.  Nixon was a choir boy in comparison to Donald Trump.  He resigned rather than face an impeachment trial.  Nothing would make Trump resign.  He is shameless.  If he should win the presidency again, he will become the autocrat he has always wanted to be.  

The midterm elections are being held today.  If the polls are correct, the Republicans will most likely take both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The sad thing is that the Republican Party is no longer a real political party.  It is a cult, controlled by the autocratic Donald Trump and is only interested in obtaining power.  It want to supress voters from exercising their franchise.  It blames the Democrats for inflation, when inflation is a world-wide problem.  Republicans have no viable solution other than to reduce Medicare and lower taxes for the rich.

The Republican Party is controlled by a man who behaves like a Mafia leader.  He refused to accept defeat in the 2020 election and sparked a volent insurrection against the turnover of power to Joe Biden.  He identifies with hard-right neo-Nazis such as the Proud Boys.  If Republicans do well today, it will be another blow for American democracy.  What next?  Trump running for president again with Marjorie Taylor Greene as his VP running mate?  



  • The Career of Brenda Lee

    In a 2014 interview with Hellenic New of America, Brenda Lee defined her success as "the realization of a dream I had when I was just a little girl.  That dream was to sing, so I had fulfilled that dream along with the fans that have allowed me to do that."

    The song "Dynamite" led tp Bremda's lifelong nickname, "Little Miss Dynamite."  At approximately 145 metres (4 ft. 9 inches) tall, the petite singer is a ball of fire and she has a powerhouse voice. She was a child prodigy who became the most successful female artist of the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Her 47 U.S. chart hits during the 1960s is only surpassed by Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Ray Charles.  She is best known for the hit single "I'm Sorry" and the perennial Yuletide favourite "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."

    Brenda singing "Dynamite" in 1957

    Brenda Lee was born Brenda Mae Tarpley on December 11, 1944 in the charity ward of a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.  Her birth came during World War II and she had an impoverished childhood.  Her family lived in a series of three-room houses without indoor plumbing.  According to Biography, Brenda's father, Reuben Lindsey Tarpley, was a caring dad, but he was an alcoholic and he was killed in a construction accident when Brenda was 6 (some sources, such as Rolling Stone, claim she was 8).  

    After Reuben's death, Brenda's mother, Annie Grace (née Yarbrough), was left to work long hours in a cotton mill in order to support Brenda and her siblings, a younger brother and older sister.  The family came to depend on Brenda's earnings as a singer at local events and on radio and television.  In an interview with the Women of Rock Oral History Project, Brenda explained that once she  earned her first $20, she was pleased to give it to her family.   "Even at that young age, I saw that helped our life," she said. "It put some food on the table. It helped, and I loved it."

    Annie Grace eventually remarried.  Her new husband, Jay Rainwater, was a record store owner and Brenda would sing at stepfather's store on weekends.  At the same time, a local disc jockey helped the young singer get air time.  The DJ also encouraged  her to shorten her last name from Tarpley to Lee.

    Brenda displayed her singing talent early in life.  At the age of five, she won a talent show.  In 1956, at the age of 11,, she was hired by a Missouri-based variety show called "Ozark Jubilee."   In July of that same year. she signed a contract with Decca Records.  Her first Decca single was a cover of  a Hank Williams composition called "Jambalaya (On the Bayou),"

    In December of 1956, Brenda spent her 12th birthday in Las Vegas.  She told the Lass Vegas Review-Journal that she was at the Flamingo Hotel with the Ink Spots.  "As I remember it," she said, "I was kind of weaved in and out of the show as a kind of little hostess.  And I also sang - so we co-billed."

    By 1957, Brenda's name appeared on the music charts.  Her first single, :"One Step at a Time,went as far as No, 43 on the Billboard Hot 100.  but it reached No. 15 on the country chart.  

    "I'm Sorry" is Brenda's signature song, but her biggest selling track is "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,"  She recorded the song in July of 1958  when she was only 12 years old.  It was written by Johnny Marks, the composer of  "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas."  As Brenda told Billboard, the record was cut in the heat of the summer at the Quonset Hut, the legendary studio in Nashville, Tennessee.  When she walked into the studio, producer Owen Bradley "had it all decked out like Christmas.  I was only 12 going on 13, so that was a biggie to me.  Everybody was dressed Christmassy and the lights were low.  He had a Christmas tree.  It was wonderful.?"    

    "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was released by Decca Records for the holiday season of 1958 and again in 1959.  It really gained popularity in 1960 when Brenda had a huge hit with "I'm Sorry."  The song reached No 14 on the Billboard Hot 100  that year and became a Christmas standard, appearing on a variety of charts for over 50 years.  According to SoundScan, it is one of the top five best-selling digital singles.

    In 1960, Brenda Lee  recorded "I'm Sorry," which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in July of that year.,  It was Brenda's first gold single and it was nominated for a Grammy Award.  According to Fred Bronson's Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Brenda recorded "I'm Sorry" in early 1960, but Decca Records delayed its release for several months due to its concern that a 15-year-old was not mature enough to sing about unrequited love.

    Brenda in 1965

    During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Brenda enjoyed greatest success on the pop charts.  By the late 1960s. however, Brenda's popularity had waned and her career had taken a downward turn.  In the  early 1970s, she re-established herself as a country music artist with a string of country hits such as "Nobody Wins" (1973) and "Sunday Sunrise." (1973).

    Brenda in 1977

    Brenda Lee is an international star.  Early in her career, she was particularly popular in the U.K.  She has recorded in four different languages.  

    In November of 1962, Brenda Lee met Ronnie Shacklett at a Bo Didley and Jackie Wilson concert in Nashville, Tennessee.  They were married less than six months later, on April 24, 1963, when Brenda was 18 years old.  She and Ronnie have two daughters, Jolie and Julie.  Julie was named after the daughter of  country music star Patsy Cline (Patsy died in a plain crash in March of 1963),

    More recent photo of Brenda Lee


    * In December of 1957, 13-year-old Brenda made her debut at the Grand Old Opry.  A photo was taken of her and 22-year-old Elvis Presley backstage at the Ryman Auditorium.  Elvis later gifted her wit a "Tender Loving Care" necklace, which he occasionally gave to female friends.  Brenda treasures that necklace.

    * In 1962, while touring West Germany, Brenda Lee appeared at the famous Star Club in Hamburg. The opening act for her show was an up-and-coming band from Liverpool, England called the Beatles. 

    * Brenda appears in a 1961 a episode of The Danny Thomas Show, entitled "Teenage Thrush" (Season 8, Episode 31, Air Date: May 15, 1961).  Brenda's character is a talented young singer whom Danny thinks could make a big name for herself.  However, the girl's mother wants her to finish her education first.

    Below is a photo of Brenda on The Danny Thomas Show in 1961.     

    * Brenda recorded a duet with American singer-songwriter Willy DeVille in 1992 for his album Loup Garou.

    * Brenda's autobiography, Little Miss Dynamite: The Life and Times of Brenda Lee, was published in 2002 by Hyperion.

    * In 1997, Brenda Lee was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  In September of 2006, Brenda celebrated over 50 years of being a recording artist.  She received the Jo Meador-Walker Lifetime Achievement award from the Source Foundation in Nashville.  She is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.  

    In 2002, Brenda was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  She became first woman to be inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    SOURCES Hellenic News of America, "Interview with Brenda Lee: 'Little Miss Dynamite','" by Markos Papadatos, January 14, 2014; Grunge, "The Untold Truth of Brenda Lee," by Debra Kelly, August 18, 2022;, "Brenda Lee's 'Jambalaya': Little Miss Dynamite Debuts On The Bayou," by Paul Sexton, July 30, 2022; Billboard, "Brenda Lee Shares Memories of 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' on 60th Anniversary," by Deborah Evans Prince, December 23, 2018; Wikipedia, Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

    - Joanne

    Sunday, November 6, 2022

    New novel by Joanne Madden: The Missing Reporter

    I am pleased to announce that my second novel, The Missing Reporter, has been published.  The Missing Reporter is a story of intrigue and suspense, set in 1989.  What happened to TV crime reporter Sandra McKay?  Why did she suddenly vanish after starting a new job?  Is her disappearance linked to the death of prominent dental surgeon Lawrence Somerville., whose brother works for a mob boss?  Intrepid private detective Norm Trapper is on the case and he is looking for answers.

    If you are interested in reading The Missing Reporter, it is available in softcover print form on Amazon.

    Here is the link to Amazon Canada (

    The Missing Reporter : Madden, Joanne: Books

    It is also available in the United States on in the United Kingdom in Australia

    It is also available in print from Barnes and Noble.

    and Book Depository


    The Missing Reporter is available in ebook form and print form at 

    Indigo Chapters


    ebook form


    - Joanne

    Friday, November 4, 2022

    Why did Harry write a book?

    So, Prince Harry has written a tell-all book called Spare.  The book was actually ghost written by J.R. Moehringer, the pen name of John Joseph Moehringer, an American novelist and journalist.  Moehringer is an accomplished writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for newspaper feature writing in 2000.

    Harry's memoir will be released  on January 10, 2023 and it will fly off the shelves.  It will certainly be a runaway bestseller, but was it really necessary for Harry to write it.  I scratch my head and wonder what prompted him to make such a move.  Was it money?  It has been reported that the book's publisher, Penguin Random House, will pay Harry $20 million upfront for his story.  The money will be donated to charity, although it is unclear whether he is donating the proceeds of the book, in addition to  the initial payment.  Still, $20 million an extremely large charitable contribution, which is  highly commendable.  It will undoubtably do a lot of  good.

    Here is what puzzles me, though.  Prince Harry obviously doesn't need any money for himself.  If he truly has altruistic intentions, could he not find other outlets for raising money for charity?  Has he really chosen to write a memoir for fundraising purposes?  Somehow, I don't think so.  Maybe donating the money to charity eases his conscious about the damage his book will do to his family and to he British monarchy.  

    Is Harry vengeful?  Is he bitter about how he and his wife, Meaghan Markle, have been treated?  Is this his way of getting back at those whom he considers to have wronged him  and Meaghan?  Does he want the public to know that they were mistreated?

    Harry is well aware that the book will put further strain on his already strained relationship with his family.  It will certainly not help improve the image of the British royal family and the U.K., which is still reeling over the Queen's recent death.  Let's face it.  The  book's publisher, Penguin Random House, is not paying all that money for a bland account of Harry's life.  They want dirt.  Some of revelations will hurt members of his family, and the public will only read Harry's side of the story.  

    Prince Harry certainly has grievances and it wasn't easy for him to face the death of his mother, Diana, when he was only 12 years old.  It is surprising that he has put himself in the public spotlight by appearing in an interview with Oprah Winfrey and writing a tell-all memoir.  After, all Diana was killed in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi.  I was under the impression that Harry wished to avoid the media and protect his privacy. He has expressed concern about the safety of his two children.

    Yes, the British monarchy needs to shake off its stuffy colonial past.  It definitely needs to modernize.  However, in a world that desperately needs stability, The Firm should avoid appearing like just another celebrity family.  The more that its members behave like celebrities, writing books and appearing on talk shows, the more the constitutional purpose of the monarchy fades.  What next?  Royal family members on Dancing With the Stars?  A new reality show called Keeping Up With the Windsors?

    - Joanne

    Friday, October 21, 2022

    Is Toronto in decline?

    "I think there's a feeling that the city doesn't care anymore and it's not doing the core cervices that it used to provide but we've come to rely on.  That slow decline is making neighbourhoods look run down."

    - Denzil Minnan-Wong to the Toronto Star- Denzil Minnan-Wong to the Toronto Star

    Is Toronto deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong right?  Is it true that the city doesn't care anymore?  I regret to say that it seems that way.  The evidence is everywhere.  Toronto appears shoddy and run down.  Many repairs are badly needed.

    I know we've been suffering though a long and terrible pandemic.  However, that's no excuse for apathy. What about our civic pride?  More than ever, we should want our city to thrive and prosper.  We should want it to look and feel good.  Instead, we are sleepwalking through a municipal election on October 24th.  Mayor John Tory is expected to win reelection easily, but that is still no excuse for apathy.  There won't be another election for another four years.  Unfortunately, however, the portents do not look good for a decent voter turnout  this year.  Advance voting turnout for the Toronto election fell nearly 30 per cent from 2014.

    Minnan-Wong's remarks have to be taken very  seriously.  After all, as Toronto deputy mayor, he has been a key member of John Tory's administration for the past eight years.  He is not seeking re-election this time around, so he probably feels more free to speak his mind.  That's exactly what he did in an interview with the Toronto Star.  He called to congratulate he Star on its "Can't We Do Better" series and warned of a "slow decline in the quality and maintenance and repair of our neghbourhoods" due to:  '"neglect.'"

    Why is this happening to Canada's largest city, and what can we do about it?  On October 24th, we have a chance to let our voices be heard.  It is our democratic right and we should cherish it.  Voters shouldn't have to be persuaded to exercise their franchise.  We citizens should vote willingly and happily, especially in municipal elections, where the issues are much closer to home and right in our neighbourhood.  All I can say is if you don't bother to vote, you shouldn't criticize.  If you can't take some time to learn about the candidates and the issues, then you are shirking your civic responsibility.  The choice is yours.

    - Joanne

    Friday, October 14, 2022

    Niagara Escarpment and Queenston Heights Photos

    The most beautiful towns in Canada are Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and Banff, Alberta.  Since I live in Ontario, I can rarely visit Banff.  However, I do visit the  Niagara Region at least once a year.  I didn't go in 2020 because of COVID. 

    I really love the Niagara wine country and Niagara peaches.  The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is magnificent.  There are no box stores, tawdry souvenir shops or strings of fast food restaurants.  The flowers and gardens are beautiful.  The drive along the Niagara Parkway is a feast for the eyes and the Niagara Escarpment is gorgeous.

    My husband and I stay at a bed and breakfast and go to a Shaw Festival play.  We were there last week and we enjoyed the musical Damn Yankees.  

    Below is a beautiful lookout point on the Niagara Escarpment (October 5, 2022)

    Below is a photo of the Niagara River at Queenston Heights.(October 5, 2022)

    Below is a photo of some fall colours at Queesnton Heights.(October 5, 2022)

    By the way, I'd like to recommend a bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake to you.  It's called Ranger's Retreat and it is hosted by Brian Carberry and Jan Van Haren.  The breakfasts there are out of this world.

    - Joanne

    Wednesday, September 14, 2022

    How I missed Paul Henderson's goal in 1972

    Paul Henderson's goal at the 1972 Canada-Soviet hockey summit is arguably the most iconic moment in Canadian sports history,  Fifty years have gone by since that momentous event.  A half century has passed since that goal electrified a nation - and I missed it.  Let me tell you how and why.

    I am a baby boomer.  I was attending my high school classes on September 28, 1972, when Henderson scored his famous goal in the deciding game of the eight-game summit series.  I remember the atmosphere surrounding that series.  Younger Canadians will never truly understand the significance of that victory.  You had to be there.  It was a different era and the Soviets were an unknown entity.  They were a novelty to Canadian hockey fans.  At the time, there were no Soviet players in the NHL and the Cold War was raging.  The mysterious Soviets emerged from behind the Iron Curtain to challenge Canadian hockey supremacy. No one was certain how good they really were. 

    For much of the first four games in Canada, the Soviets outplayed Team Canada.  We soon learned how good the Soviets were and any smugness we had soon changed into concern that Canada would lose the series to the upstart Soviets.  What a blow to Canadian pride!  Everything hinged on the final four games in Moscow.

    Right in front of me, in the office where I sit typing this post, hangs a painted portrait of the well-known photograph of Henderson and Yvan Cournoyer in celebration.  It was Toronto Star photographer Frank Lennon who captured that joyful moment (Lennon passed away in August of 2006)  The photo shows Henderson lifting his hands in triumph as Cournoyer wraps his arms around him.

    I recall sitting in a classroom watching the final game of the series on a little black and white television, which sat on a high stand with wheels.  Team Canada was losing 5-3 entering the third period and the prospects didn't look good.  I was watching the game anxiously when the bell rang. We were told we had to leave the classroom because school was over for the day.  Disappointed, I hurried home to catch the remainder of the game.  

    Although I rushed to the bus stop and hopped on the first bus I could get, I did not get home in time.  When  I arrived, the game was already over and I was told what had happened.  I heard the cheers and joined in the celebrations.  Since then, I have seen Henderson's goal replayed countless times and I always enjoy it.  However, it does not compensate for having missed it live.  Alas, I can't change what happened, but at I can still revel in the triumph of Henderson's goal. 

    Paul Henderson is 79 years old now.  He turn 80 years old on January 28th.  In 2009, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  As a result, he was unable to attend the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series in Moscow.  However, he responded well to experimental treatment as part of a clinical trial he underwent in the United States.

    Here we are in 2022.  The Russians have invaded Ukraine and they have been banned from international hockey tournaments.  The more things change . . .

    - Joanne 

    Monday, September 12, 2022

    The dangerous Pierre Poilievre

    Pierre Poilievre is the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the official opposition in the House of Commons.  He is the darling of the hard right in Canada and he will undoubtedly swing the country sharply in that direction if his party forms a government.  I sincerely hope that he never becomes prime minister, especially with a majority government.  Conservative media outlets, such as the National Post, think he is fantastic, although his policies would be disastrous for Canada.

    The Conservative party has been drifting further and further to the right.  It has dropped the word "Progressive" from its name and it is no longer resembles the party of Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark, David Crombie or even Brian Mulroney.  With Pierre Poilievre as leader, the pace of the party's shift to right will only quicken.  It is well on its way to becoming the Republican Party of the North.

    The landslide victory of Pierre Poilievre over Jean Charest has energized and united most of the Conservative Party, at least for now.  Poilievre is in a honeymoon period right now.  Who knows how long that will last.  Who knows what mistakes and blunders he will make in the future.  Still, he could very well come to power in the next federal election.  I fear for Canada if its leadership is in his hands.  I do not want my country to go in the direction of the United States under Donald Trump.

    Poilievre is a populist, the kind of politician whose rhetoric resonates with people who feel frustrated and disenfranchised.  Some populists are dangerous because they appeal to the strongest of emotions.  They play on the anger and fears of their supporters.  That's what Trump did south of the border.  The key for that kind of populist is to rile the people up.  It's to fuel feelings of alienation and resentment, especially via social media.

    Here is why Pierre Poilievre is so dangerous: Poilievre argues that government is too big and must be slimmed down.  He will slash and cut government spending if he becomes PM.  What will this mean for Canadians?  It will mean more misery for people with lower incomes and fewer public services.  It will mean an even greater gap between haves and have-nots.  The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  

    Canadians are still suffering from the effects of terrible pandemic.  Medium and lower income families have, of course, struggled the most.  For over two years, their lives have been turned inside-out and upside-down by COVID-19.  Many have lost their small businesses and inflation is eating away at their income.  Still, they won't see the forest for the trees.  They will blame "out of touch elites" for the rise in the cost of living, not the impact of the pandemic with its supply-chain issues, high consumer demand and worker shortages.  They won't ask why banks and large companies seem to be doing just fine.  They won't ask why they haven't seen an increase in salary, even though prices have increased.  

    Nobody enjoys paying taxes and governments should not indulge in irresponsible spending.  However, taxes provide the services and quality of life we enjoy. I don't think anyone returns government cheques because they believe government is too big.  How many Canadians would voluntarily give up their health cards and old age pensions?  Did anyone return their carbon tax refund from the federal government?  

    This is a time when action on climate change is of great importance.  Yet, even as temperature's rise, wildfire's rage and rivers overflow, Poilievre has promised to cancel Ottawa's carbon price on consumer goods and build more pipelines.  So, how would he deal with greenhouse-gas emissions?  He hasn't said.  It doesn't seem like a priority with him.

    In a September 11th article in the Toronto Star, Stephanie Levitz wrote that "Poilievre's attacks on the Bank of Canada, his tilt toward conspiracy theories around the World Economic Forum and his support of the anti-vaccine-mandate movement unsettled some centrist Conservatives."  I hope they remain unsettled.

    - Joanne