Thursday, November 30, 2023

Shame on Rogers for firing Ben Wagner

In firing Ben Wagner, Rogers Communications has shown utter disdain for radio broadcasting and for the  legions of  Toronto Blue Jay fans who grew up listening to the Jays on radio.  In a statement yesterday, Rogers confirmed that the company had declined to renew Ben Wagner's contract.  How disappointing!

The Blue Jays were built on radio.  Fans will never forget the easy on-air banter and the chemistry between the late great Tom Cheek and his partner Jerry Howarth.  In February 2018, Jerry retired from broadcasting for health reasons after 36 years of calling games for the team.  Jerry has strongly criticized Rogers' decision to dismiss Ben, which he described as "embarrassing."

Ben has been the voice of the Blue Jays since Jerry's retirement, including during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Like all broadcasters at the time, he had to deal with COVID restrictions.  Sportsnet said that the decision to streamline production was made to minimize travel during the pandemic, and to follow league and government protocols.

Ben remined with the broadcast team during this difficult time by providing live hits from the Blue Jays' temporary home at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida.  He also served as a live contributor to radio and television segments.  Unfortunately, Sportsnet continued to scale back the radio coverage of the Blue Jays, even after the pandemic eased.  Frankly, Ben has not been treated fairly, or with much respect.  Rogers has never given  him a real chance.  The writing has been on the wall for some time now.

In 2022, Sportsnet covered road games remotely.  Ben Wagner called the games from a a screen at the the studio in Toronto, before returning to traditional in-person broadcasts for the second half of the season.

In 2023, however, remote coverage returned,  Sportsnet was one of  only two MLB franchises to not send radio personnel to road games. - the other being the Los Angles Angels.  Jerry Howarth was "very disappointed" with that decision.  He stated, "You don't get any kind of picture of what's happening regarding a ripple effect of a play, a call, emotions, people that are involved in the call one way or another because you are not there.  You can't see that.  So you can't fully appreciate what is happening at that very moment."

During the 2023 season, Ben  usually worked Toronto games solo, without being accompanied by a regular colour commentator, as is customary across the major league. A rapport between announcer and colour commentator is a necessary ingredient for baseball broadcasting.  Rogers did not allowed that to happen for Ben Wagner.

We don't yet know what is being planned for the radio broadcast.  Sportsnet does not intend  to announce its plans until "prior to the start of the 2024 season," according to an email from a network spokesman.  However, I wouldn't be the least surprised if the games are simulcast with the feed on television. 

Baseball is made for radio description.  Doesn't Roges understand that the television feed is not the same.  Dan Shulman describes what viewers can see on their TV screen .  Radio requires a different type of description because the visuals aren't there.

It seems to me that Rogers has too much of a monopoly on ownership.  According to Adam Seaborn, head of partnerships at the Toronto-based media company Playmaker Capital, having a team owner that also owns the TV and radio network and the stadium "creates a culture of cost-cutting as opposed to competition."  Seaborn went on to say that "if the team was owned by a random billionaire, the radio rights would go up for bid every five to ten years, and the highest bidder would be forced to put a guy on the road and put together a top-notch broadcast."

Rogers has made some cruel, bonehead moves in recent years.  The corporation is penny wise and pound foolish.  In September of 2022, they sent popular TV commentator and former Blue Jay Pat Tabler packing.  He is now a colour commentator for selected Cleveland Guardians games.  Back in 2020, Sportsnet suddenly cut ties with longtime radio personality Mike Wilner, a Toronto native.  Mike is now a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star.

Then there was the Roger's messy handling of former Blue Jays president Paul Beaston at the end of his tenure with the club.  He never complained, but he also deserved better,  Ben Wagner also deserved better.  I wish him well.  I hope he finds another broadcasting job soon, where is appreciated by his employees.

- Joanne

Monday, November 27, 2023

Language Corner: What happened to the Latin language?

"In an importance sense, Latin never died. So learning Latin today is less like resurrecting the dead and more like looking at an old photo of modern Indo-European languages."

- Blake Adams, author, editor, educator, Latin tutor, and a scholar of Early Christian Studies - From the Ancient Language Institute website

I have always wondered why Latin "died" as a spoken language.  After all, the Roman Empire was so pervasive and far-reaching. So, what happened?  After doing some research, I learned that it is more accurate to say that Latin evolved, rather than to say it died.  

Latin was originally spoken by small groups who lived along the lower Tiber River.  The language spread along with the growth of Roman political power.  It spread throughout most of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean coastal regions of Africa.

The language of the ancient Romans began to decline in the 6th century, shortly after the fall of Rome in 676 A.D.  The fall of Rome led to the fragmentation of the empire, causing distinct Latin dialects to develop across the Western Empire, which  eventually transformed into the five Romance languages - Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian.  

According to Adams, you could still find writers who wrote classical Latin.  However this changed gradually as writing the language became less common.  Latin schools slowly disappeared except in a few Italian towns .This was another factor in the decline of classical Latin. "Putting a language to writing, and consulting prior works in the same language, tends to slow a language's rate of change," points out Blake Adams in his article "When Did Latin Die?"  For example, modern English speakers use many world that would have been understood in Shakespeare's day.  However, the English language would have changed a great deal more if students didn't study Shakespeare in high school.  

Classical Latin, the language of great Roman writers such ss Cicero  and Virgil, became "dead/" after its form became fixed.  Vulgar Latin, the language ordinarily used by Romans, continued to evolve as the Roman Empire spread.  During medieval times, however, Latin was still the most widely used language among scholars and writers.  

It is important to note that languages don't die like organisms.  Latin is still studied and it is the official language of the Holy See, the central governing body of the Roman Catholic Church (Italian is the official language of Vatican City and is used in all official matters).  Until the changes brought about by Vatican II in the 1960s,, Latin was required in the liturgy of the Church.

SOURCES: Encyclpaedia Britannica; Ancient Language Institute website (, "When Did Latin Die?" Blake Adams, Wikipedia

- Joanne

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A Tale of Two American Thanksgiving Day Messages


Bidens ask Americans to 'stop the rancor' and treat each other with 'decency' in Thanksgiving message

Trump's mug shot

Trump knocks prosecutor, ‘Radical Left Lunatics’ in Thanksgiving message

Ask yourself this, America!  Who is more presidential and more stable, Joe Biden or Donald Trump?  If your answer isn't Joe Biden, you are truly missing something.  

There is nothing amusing about Donald Trump.  As The Economist pointed out, he is the most dangerous person in the world.  He is poised to make America a fascist state.

Trump is full of hate and vengeance.  His rhetoric is violent.  He behaves like a mob boss.  Is that who you want leading the United States?  Is that who you want as commander-in-chief of your armed forces?  Think about it.

Trump has made no secret of the fact that he admires dictators such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Kim Jong Un of North Korea.  Is that who you want leading the United States?  Think about it.

You have the power to stop Donald Trump with your vote on November 5, 2024.  If he is returned to power, you may never be able to vote in a free election again.  He may never leave office once his term is over.  By the election of 2028, Trump may be an unhinged 82-year-old dictator.  Think about it.

Your loyalty should be to your country and to the Constitution.  Trump wants you to be loyal only to him.  As an authoritarian, he believes that he alone represents America.  Anyone who disagrees with him or criticizes him is an enemy.  He has referred to his opponents as "vermin," using the language of Hitler and Mussolini.

Donald Trump doesn't represent America and you should let him know that next November, if he is allowed to be the Republican nominee for president.  He shouldn't be the nominee after his actions on January 6, 2021.

- Joanne

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

60 Years Since the Assassination of JFK, too many questions linger

6O years have passed since that dreadful day in Dallas and we still don't know the truth about what happened.  I am definitely not one for conspiracy theories, but I am certain there was much more to the Kennedy assassination than we know.  I very much doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

I am a baby boomer.  On November 22, 1963, I was seven years old.  On that fateful Friday afternoon, I was home from school with a cold.  It was one of the few days I was absent from the classroom due to illness.  On that momentous afternoon, I was lying on the living room sofa, watching television.  My mother, who followed the soap opera As The World Turns, asked me to watch the show for her and fill her in.  In the meantime, she went upstairs to speak to my aunt (her sister) on the phone,  I dutifully watched the soap for her and I was ready to report on all the happenings.  

Suddenly, As The World Turns was interrupted by a sombre Walter Cronkite.  President Kennedy, he said,, had been shot in Dallas, Texas.  Soon after, Cronkite sadly announced that the 35th President of the United States was dead   The seemingly unflappable news anchor choaked back tears and he kept putting his glasses on and taking them off.  I ran upstairs to inform my mother the horrible news.  I will never forget that day.

That fateful day in Dallas

Lee Harvey Oswald, a U.S. Marine Veteran and Marxist, shot and killed Kennedy from a sixth-floor of the Texas School Book Depository as JFK's motorcade travelled through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.  About 45 minutes after the assassination of the president, Oswald also shot and killed a Dallas police officer on a local street.  He then hid in a movie theatre, where he was arrested for the police officer's murder.  Oswald was charged with the assassination of JFK, although he denied responsibility, referring to himself as a "patsy."  Two days later, on November 24th, Oswald was shot dead by local nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.  The shooting of Oswald happened live on television.  

On November 29, 1963, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, popularly known as the Warren Commission, was established by executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Chief Justice Earl Warren chaired the commission, which consisted of a panel of seven men.  The panel was comprised of Democrats and Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, among them future president, Gerald R. Ford, a Republican.  It also included diplomat John  J. McCloy and Allen Dulles, former president of the World Bank and former CIA director.  Dulles had been fired by John F. Kennedy in November of 1961, following the Bay of Pigs fiasco in April of that year.

The Warren Commission in August 1964

On September 24, 1964, the Warren Commission presented its 888-page final report to President Johnson.  It was released to the public three days later.  The commission reached the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, firing three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository for reasons unknown.  It also concluded that Jack Ruby acted alone when he murdered Oswald two days later.

Its conclusions turned out to be very controversial and have been both challenged and supported by further studies.  Man still cannot believe that Oswald acted alone.  However, the findings of the Warren Commission were supported by the Dallas Police Department, the FBI, the United States Secret Service, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), although the HSCA found that Oswald's role in the assassination was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."  The  HSCA asserted that acoustic evidence from a Dallas police officer's radio showed that that two shooters had probably fired on JFK's limousine.  Although further investigations have cast doubt on the radio evidence, the HSCA's added to public dissatisfaction with the work of the Warren Commission.  

Robert Tanenbaum, the original deputy chief counsel for the HSCA, resigned from his post shortly after being named.  Tanenbaum has been vocal about his belief that the CIA thwarted the official probe of President Kennedy's assassination. He  does not believe that the assassination was adequately investigated.

Members of the Warren Commission even expressed doubts about its findings.  Democrat Richard Russel reluctantly consented to sign the Warren Report, despite the fact that he could not rule out the possibility of a conspiracy,  Russell later confessed that he had "lingering dissatisfaction" with many of it findings.  Congressman Hale Boggs, also a Democrat, had similar doubts about the report, especially the "single bullet theory" that one shot had struck both JFK and Texas Governor John Connally.

It is clear that almost 60 years after JFK's assassination, the American public is not fully convinced that Oswald acted alone.  There are too many unanswered questions, too many missing pieces of the puzzle. One person who believed there was more to the story was journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, who was investigating the JFK assassination when she died under mysterious circumstances on November 8, 1965.  She considered the Warren Commission's conclusion, that Oswald killed Kennedy alone, "laughable."  She spent 18 months probing the assassination.  During Jack Ruby's trial, Dorothy was the only reporter who was able to interview Jack Ruby.  In his 2016 book, During Jack Ruby's trial, Dorothy was the only reporter who was able to interview Ruby. 

According to Mark Shaw, in his 2016 book The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Dorothy Kilgallen left Rugy's trial more certain than ever that JFK's assassination had been the result of a conspiracy.  In her column of March 20, 1965, Dorothy wrote: "The point to be remembered in this historic case is that the whole truth has not been told.  Neither the state of Texas nor the defense put on al l its evidence before the jury.  Perhaps it was not necessary, but it would have been desirable from the viewpoint of all the American people."

Dorothy was determined that the American people deserved to know the truth.  Sadly, before she could publish anything, was found dead in her Manhattan home on November 8, 1965.  The New York Times reported that she died from an overdose of alcohol and barbituates, and that police had found no evidence of violence or suicide.  However, James L. Luke, the assistant Medical Examiner stated, "It could have simply been an extra pill.  Luke admitted that the circumstances of Dorothy's death were "undetermined."  "We really don't know," he told the New York Times.  Furthermore, Dorothy's pages and pages of research were missing.

In his book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Mark Shaw makes the case that Dorothy was murdered to end her investigation.  She was not shy about publicly expressing her doubts about the Kennedy assassination,  She doggedly continued to investigate JFK's death, and as the New York Post reported, she conducted interviews and chased leads in Dallas and New Orleans.  By the fall of 1965, Dorothy may have been on the verge of a breakthrough.  In fact, according to Shaw, she had scheduled another visit to New Orleans for a clandestine meeting with an unnamed source.

Unfortunately, we may never know the truth about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, especially since the CIA is unwilling to disclose everything it knows.  Here is what Jefferson Morley, vice president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation and editor of the JFK Facts Newsletter on Substack wrote in an article in the Washington Post:

Was the CIA merely incompetent in dealing with the itinerant Marxist Marine, or did it use him for some still-classified purpose? Or is there another explanation for its unwillingness to share all it knows? The clandestine service is no longer under any obligation to answer such questions. When it comes to the Kennedy assassination files, the CIA has won the battle over full disclosure.  

Sis decades have passed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  As popular as JFK was, some had reason to want him dead, including the Mafia.  It appears that the truth has been covered up.  The American public deserves full disclosure.  If the conclusion of the Warren Commission, is correct, what does the CIA and others have to hide?  Why the secrecy after all these years?  Something really smells  rotten.  It leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

Note: For more insight into the JFK assassination, I suggest you listen to Who Killed  JFK?,  Rob Reiner's investigative podcast on iHeart radio.  It is hosted by Rob and journalist Soledad O'Brien.

- Joanne  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Again I say, wake up America!

You won't recognize America if Donald Trump returns to the White House.  In fact, he won't ever leave the White House if  he becomes president again.  Trump has spelled out exactly what he intends to do if he is returned to power.  The man is unhinged.  He is violent.  He is an authoritarian.  He spreads lies along with his MAGA followers.  The Republican party has been taken over by morally corrupt and spineless politicians.  They want to hang on to power and they are afraid of mob boss Trump.

There is a moral bankruptcy in America right now.  Otherwise, Trump would never have been able to run for president in 2016 after he bragged about groping women.  He wouldn't be allowed to run for president in 2024 after he led an insurrection on January 6, 2021.   

Here is exactly what Trump intends to do:

Donald Trump and far-right conservatives have some  some big plans for his second term should he be reelected, and they would be devastating for American democracy.

Trump’s plan is called Project 2025 and it would involve replacing more than 50,000 career civil servants in the federal government with Trump loyalists. Established in 2022, the project's aim is to replace existing federal civil service workers, those  it regards as "the deep state," with conservatives who would further the goals of the next Republican president.  It’s a project being headed by the Heritage Foundation, and it’s so far backed by more than $20 million in funding.  With those loyalists installed, Trump would be able to increase his power and abuse that power as much as he desires.

Below is a photo of Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, which established Project 2025. 

Project 2025 would reshape the executive the executive branch of the United States government.  Although participants in the project cannot promote a specific presidential candidate, many are closely associated with Trump.  It would mean that the president of the United States would have complete control of the executive branch upon inauguration.

If Donald Trump had absolute power of the executive branch, he would continue to strengthen his grip on government.  He would try to control the media, which he has called "the enemy of the people."  That's the first thing an authoritarian does.

Is this quasi-fascist America what you want?  It happened to Italy in 1922 and in Germany in 1933.  Heed the lessons of history.  Don't think it can't happen to the United States!  Pay attention!  The Economist named Donald Trump the biggest danger in the world, with good reason.

- Joanne

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Whatever happened to the Atlantic Schooners?

Tomorrow the 110th edition of the Grey Cup will take place at Tim Horton Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. The Montreal Alouettes will be representing the East, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be representing the West.  The Grey Cup is not as glitzy as the Superbowl.  How could it be?  No one does glitz like the Americans.  However, it does have its own style, a more homey style, steeped in history and tradition. T he trophy is named after Albert Grey, the Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911.

I had hoped that the Toronto Argonauts would represent the East in the big game.  The Argos had a splendid season, winning 16 games and losing only 2  They were led by quarterback Chad Kelly and they seemed to be steamrolling toward a second consecutive appearance in the CFL's championship game.  That is until something happened on the way to the Grey Cup.  The Argos were soundly beaten by the Montreal Alouettes in the Eastern Division final in Toronto, and Kelly did not have a good game.  Perhaps the Argos were rusty and complacent, having sewn up first place so early.

Yesterday, my husband and I visited Hamilton to partake in some of the Grey Cup festivities.  There were various activities and booths along James Street.  There were pavilions and entertainment at the Hamilton Convention Centre.  All of the Western Division teams, except for the B.C. Lions had their own pavilion.  The only pavilion from the East was that of a team that doesn't exist yet - the Atlantic Schooners.  

We enjoyed ourselves in the Schooners' pavilion, eating lobster rolls and watching a Newfoundland band called Screeched In.  We also listened to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Pep Band and we chatted with people from all over Canada.  Screeched In conducted a fun tradition by which one becomes an official Newfoundlander by kissing a fish (in this case, "Jimmy the Fish" and drinking some dark rum known as Screech.  Below are two photos of the Screech ceremony.

My husband and I love Atlantic Canada.  Maritimers and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the salt of the earth. and we fervently hope that the Schooners become a reality soon.  The Canadian Football League (CFL) currently has nine teams, five in the Western Division and four in the Eastern Division.  A team based in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, or in Moncton, New Brunswick, would even things up.  The CFL would truly represent Canada from coast to coast and sea to sea.

The Atlantic Schooner were originally a conditional expansion team that was set to begin play in Dartmouth, Nova back in 1984.  Unfortunately. ownership was unable to secure enough funding for a stadium.  As a result, the application for a franchise was withdrawn 13 months after it was submitted.  It's now 2023 and the dream is still alive.  I hope to see it come to fruition.  I was told that there is going to be a meeting about the situation next month.

- Joanne

Bye Bye, Twitter! No Antisemitism for me


I have disassociated myself from Twitter,  (I refuse to call it "X.")  I have had a Twitter account for many years.  When I worked in the library of the Toronto Star, our staff attended a seminar about Social Media.2.0, which included Twitter.  Twitter was very new at the time and we were asked to open an account on it.  I can not in good conscience continue writing messages on this platform, nor read it.

I am not a fan of Elon Musk.  He spent $44 billion to acquire Twitter and he has run it down to the ground.  Advertisers are fleeing after Musk agreed with a tweet accusing Jewish people of "hatred against whites."  I was not pleased when Musk change the name of the platform to "X" and allowed Donald Trump to once again spew his hatred and lies on the social medium.  

When I saw how Twitter was becoming a forum for hate messages, I unsuccessfully attempted to remove my account from Twitter.  I wrote a final message saying that I was through with Twitter as long as Musk owned it.  I have not tweeted anything since. 

We now know, without a doubt, that Musk stands with the supporters of Trump.  He stands with the far right.  His endorsement of Antisemitism sickens me.  I would feel the same way if he had endorsed Islamophobia, anti-Black or Asian sentiment or any other form of hatred.  Hatred is hatred, no matter the target.  It is not a legitimate expression of free speech.  It should not be tolerated.

It's a shame that Elon Musk's $44 million wasn't spent on alleviating poverty or illness.

- Joanne

Friday, November 17, 2023

Why Donald Trump is not mentally fit to be President of the United States

 The Economist names Trump #1 'biggest danger' in the world: 'Will wage war on any institution'

Keep in mind that The Economist is a respected British newspaper.  It has been published for almost two hundred years.  Hence, there is every reason to pay attention to the news that Economist staff has stated that, heading into 2024, it is deeply concerned about the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House.  The paper waned that Trump's return would be viewed as a go-ahead for Russian President Putin to "fight on" in Ukraine and expand his conquest to other former Eastern Bloc countries.  The paper also warned that if Trump were returned to the Oval Office, China might invade Taiwan  "with catastrophic consequences."  It expressed a fear that Trump would mishandle the situation in the Middle East, as Iran and its proxy miliary force find increased support.  

The clock is ticking.  There is less than a year until the 2024 presidential election in the United States.  Much could change in that time, but I am extremely concerned that not enough Americans realize how serious a threat Trump is to their democracy.  So many people are getting false information from Fox News and other far-right media.  So, I will continue to write periodic warnings to my friends in the United States from my perch here in Toronto, Canada.  I don't have a vote in the American election, so it's up to you to decide the fate of your country.  It will be a decision that with profoundly affect Canada and the rest of the world.

Every day, Trump's rhetoric becomes increasingly cruel and violent.  He is using fascist language, reminiscent of Hitler and Mussolini.  He has called his political opponents "vermin." and he has mocked the beating given to Nancy Pelosi's octogenarian husband, Paul.  He has called the media the enemy of the people.  Is this the kind of person Americans want in the Oval Office?

I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, but it is becoming clear that Donald Trump is becoming more and more unhinged with each passing day.  My hope is that will not be permitted to run for public office via the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which forbids anyone who has engaged n insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United from holding public office (Remember January 6, 2021).

In a column for the Washington Monthly, attorney James Zirin, a former federal prosecutor in New York's Southern District, noted Donald Trump's growing problem with facts, his confusion when giving speeches as well as pronounced slurring when speaking.

Cutting right to the chase, Zirin asked: "Has Donald Trump gone nuts?"

Admitting, "This is obviously a difficult question to raise about any person, let alone a candidate, who has demonstrated vicious, paranoid, and violent behavior," he added, "Still, all the armchair gerontologists parsing every utterance from President Joe Biden, trying to distinguish his congenital stutter from his natural aging, should look at Trump, whose behavior has gone from bad to weird to bizarre."

Taking great pains to point out he's not a medical professional, Zirin asked if the former president might be "suffering from a palpable form of dementia."

- Tom Biggiani, Microsoft (, November 25, 2023

I am passionately concerned about the survival of democracy in the country next to mine.

- Joanne

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

What do the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody mean?

"I was green with envy when I heard ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It was a piece of sheer originality that took rock and pop away from the normal path.”

Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA 

One of my favourite songs is "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.  The song was released on October 31, 1975 as the lead single on Queen's fourth album, A Night at the Opera.  Written by lead singer Freddie Mercury, it is almost six minutes long. Elton John was reported to have said that the song was too long and too weird.   

Freddie Mercury began writing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1968, when he was a student at Ealing Art College in London, England.  The song was not originally titled "Bohemian Rhapsody."  In May of 2023, a collection of Mercury's personal belongings were being prepared for an auction at Sotheby's.  A copy of his handwritten lyrics revealed that he had intended to call it "Mongolian Rhapsody."  According to The New York Times, he crossed out the first word and changed it to "Bohemian,"  

I never really understood the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody until I read the following.  It was posted by Brice Forest, a member of the band Balearic Burger.  I would like to share it with the readers of Number 16.

- Joanne


Why is the song called 'Bohemian Rhapsody'?
Why does it last exactly 5 minutes and 55 seconds?
What is this song really about?
Why did the Queen movie premiere on October 31?
The movie premiered on October 31 because the single was first heard on October 31, 1975. It's titled that way because a 'Rhapsody' is a free-form musical piece composed of different parts and themes that seem unrelated to each other.
The word 'rhapsody' comes from Greek and means 'assembled parts of a song.'
The word 'bohemian' refers to a region in the Czech Republic called Bohemia, where Faust, the protagonist of Goethe's work of the same name, was born. In Goethe's work, Faust was an elderly and intelligent man who knew everything except the mystery of life. Unable to comprehend it, he decides to poison himself.
At that moment, church bells ring, and he goes outside. When he returns to his room, he finds a dog that transforms into a kind of man. It's the devil, Mephistopheles. He promises Faust a full life without misery in exchange for his soul. Faust agrees, rejuvenates, and becomes arrogant. He meets Gretchen and has a child. His wife and child die. Faust travels through time and space and feels powerful. When he becomes old again, he feels miserable once more. Since he didn't break the pact with the devil, angels contend for his soul.
This work is essential to understanding 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'
The song is about Freddie Mercury himself. Being a rhapsody, it has 7 different parts:
1st and 2nd acts - A Capella
3rd act - Ballad
4th act - Guitar solo
5th act - Opera
6th act - Rock
7th act - 'Coda' or final act
The song talks about a poor boy questioning if this life is real or if his distorted imagination is living another reality. He says that even if he stops living, the wind will keep blowing without his existence. So, he makes a deal with the devil and sells his soul.
Upon making this decision, he rushes to tell his mother and says...
"Mama, I just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he's dead. Threw my life away. If I'm not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters..."
The man he kills is himself, Freddie Mercury.
If he doesn't fulfill the pact with the devil, he will die immediately.
He says goodbye to his loved ones, and his mother breaks into tears, tears and desperate crying that comes from Brian May's guitar notes. Freddie, terrified, cries out, "Mama, I don't want to die," and the operatic part begins. Freddie finds himself in an astral plane where he sees himself: "I see a little silhouetto of a man"... "Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"
Scaramouche is an "escaramuza," a skirmish between armies with horseback riders (4 horsemen of the Apocalypse of evil fighting against the forces of good for Freddie's soul), and he continues, saying, "Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me."
This phrase appears in the Bible, specifically in Job 37 when it says, "the thunder and lightning frighten me: my heart pounds in my chest." Seeing his son so scared by the decision he has made, Freddie's mother begs to save him from the pact with Mephistopheles. "He's just a poor boy..." "Spare him his life from this monstrosity." "Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?" Her pleas are heard, and angels descend to battle the forces of evil. "Bismillah" (an Arabic word meaning "In the name of God") is the first word in the holy book of Muslims, the Quran. So, God Himself appears and shouts, "We will not let you go."
In the face of such a confrontation between good and evil, Freddie fears for his mother's life and says, "Mama mia, mama mia, let me go." They shout again from the sky that they won't abandon him, and Freddie cries, "No, no, no, no, no," and says, "Beelzebub (the Lord of Darkness) has a devil put aside for me." Freddie pays homage here to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach when he sings... "Figaro, Magnifico," referring to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," considered the greatest opera of all time, and to Bach's "Magnificat."
The operatic part ends, and the rockier part bursts in. The devil, angry and betrayed by Freddie not keeping the pact, says, "So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die?"
It's chilling how the Lord of Evil feels powerless against a human being, against repentance and love.
Having lost the battle, the devil departs, and we reach the final act or 'coda' where Freddie is free, and that feeling comforts him. The gong that closes the song sounds. The gong is an instrument used in China and East Asian cultures to heal people under the influence of evil spirits.
It lasts for 5:55 minutes. Freddie liked astrology, and in numerology, 555 is associated with death, not physical but spiritual, the end of something where angels will safeguard you. 555 is related to God and the divine, an ending that will lead to a new beginning.
And the song plays on Halloween eve for the first time. A holiday called 'Samhain' by the Celts to celebrate the transition and opening to the other world.
The Celts believed that the world of the living and the dead were closely connected, and on the Day of the Dead, both worlds would unite, allowing spirits to cross over.
Nothing in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is coincidental.
Everything is carefully crafted and has a meaning that goes beyond being just a song.
It has been voted worldwide as the greatest song of all time.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Reflections on war and peace

Yesterday was Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the United States).  That day was chosen to mark the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, at the 11th hour on the 11'th day of the 11th month.  World War I was originally called the Great War.  It was the war that was supposed to end all wars - until World War II came along.  With all that's going on in the world right now, I have given the concepts of war and peace a great deal of thought.

At the moment, there are two dominant wars raging in the world - the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the Middle East war between Hamas and Israel.  People are suffering enormously.  It is truly sickening and heartbreaking.  Innocent children are being slaughtered.  Atrocities are being committed daily.  With regard to the Middle East conflict, so many people are pointing fingers and taking sides, but everything is not black and white.  It's far more complex and far more profound.  

Extremists and terrorists do not want peace.  They are unwilling and unable to concede anything or compromise on anything.  They do not have a balanced view of the world.  They are "true believers" and those who don't believe what they believe are enemies or heretics.  Brutal dictators such as Vladimir Putin lust for more and more power.  They will gladly send soldiers to die in an attempt to fulfill their delusions of grandeur.  Putin, for example, sees himself as Russia's modern-day Peter the Great.

Greedy arms dealers make more and more more money by selling there weapons of war.  They profit financially while children and the poor pay the price.  Peace is not in their interest.  They don't care about those who suffer from war.       

This is not to demean the sacrifice made by those who gave their lives to rid the world of the scourge of Nazism.  However, maybe World War II wouldn't have happened if the settlement of World War I hadn't caused some much economic hardship for the German people.  Perhaps Hitler wouldn't have attained power if conditions in Germany had been different.

There is no Utopia, no heaven on earth.  This is an imperfect world and people are imperfect.  There will always be war and conflict.  However, we can choose to work toward a more peaceful world, especially by preventing wars from happening in the first place.  When a society is more equitable, when there is hope, then there is more chance for peace.  The proliferation of weapons, especially nuclear weapons, does not help, nor does ideological, political or religious extremism.  

The most dangerous individuals are those who see the world in black and white, with no shades of gray. The far left and the far right are both threatening.  Democracy is not perfect, but it is the best system of government possible.  Communism, fascism and theocracies result in authoritarianism and dictatorships.  There can be too much government or not enough government.  In communist countries, the inner circle of the Communist Party live a much more lavish lifestyle than others.  The extreme right wing. including Donald Trump and his most ardent supporter, is hateful and violent toward immigrants, no-whites and non-Christians. 

Beware of movements using the word "freedom" in their names, such as the "Freedom Convoy" that shutdown the city of Ottawa and the "Freedom Caucus" of the Republican Party in the United States.  They don't seem to understand the true definition of the word.  They don't seem to understand that there is no absolute freedom and that their "freedom" ends when it interferes with the freedom of others.

We have to be proactive.  We have to try harder to prevent war.  If Egypt and Israel were able to make peace with the 1979 Camp David Accord, why can't the Israelis and the Palestinians do the same?  Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter showed remarkable courage.  We need leaders with the courage to make peace, not war.  It requires more courage to work for peace than to promote war.  

Unfortunately, sometimes war is necessary, but only as a last resort, when every last attempt at peace has been exhausted.  It should never be provoked.  It must be kept in mind that the stakes are higher than ever before.  Modern warfare does not just consist of soldiers on a battle field.  There are drones and all sorts of bombs.  Innocent civilians are often the victims.

There is no glory in war, only horror, death and destruction.

Here are some thoughtful reflections on war and peace from a variety of sources.

We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.

- Omar Bradley (1893-1981), senior officer of the United States Army during and after World War II, rising to the rank of General of the Army, first chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Armistice Day speech (November 11, 1948), published in Omar Bradley's Collected Writings, Volume 1 (1967)


Wars have never made peace or preserved it or fostered its ideals
. To have peace you must make peace with your enemies. To make peace only with your friends is to avoid the issue, and to permit a great principle to become absurd. Far from making peace, wars invariably serve as classrooms and laboratories where men and techniques and states of mind are prepared for the next war.

- Wendell Berry (1934- ) , American poet, philosopher, novelist, farmer and social and environmental activist, "A Statement against the War in Vietnam," The Long-Legged House (1969)


What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Indian statesman, Non-violence in Peace and War (1942)   


have never met anyone who wasn't against war.  Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.

- David Low (1891-1963), British political cartoonist in New York Times Magazine, February 10, 1946  


Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.

 - Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), Italian diplomat, author, philosopher, historian, History of Florence

The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants and for peace like retarded pygmies.

- Lester B. Pearson (1897-1972), Canadian diplomat, politician, statesman, 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968, winner of 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, Speech in Toronto, March 14, 1955

- Joanne

Monday, November 6, 2023

Wake up, America, before it's too late!

"Trump allies proposing deploying military to the streets if he wins in 2024: report"

Frankly, I'm sick and tired of writing about Donald Trump.  I am sick and tired of his rantings and his childish antics.  However, exactly one year from now, on November 5, 2024, Americans go to the polls.  If Trump is still the Republican nominee for president, the United States will be in grave danger of losing its democracy.  I can't ignore the catastrophe that awaits my neighbours to the south if Trump attains power again.  He is one of the most dangerous men in the world.

I am extremely worried . As a Canadian, I will not be voting in the 2024 presidential election, but I just can't sit back and do nothing.  What happens in the U.S. affects my country and the whole world.  That's why I am issuing this waring to any American who reads this.  Donald Trump is planning some king of miliary coup.  He has made no secret of the fact that he admires dictators such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.  If you want democracy to survive in America, do not support him,  He has made no secret of the fact that he wants to expand the powers of the presidency.  He has been relentless and ruthless in attempting to achieve his goals.

I can't believe that the United States is so morally to allow such a person as Donald Trump to sit in the Oval Office again.  It is distressing that so many support Donald Trump, a man who on January 6, 2021, tried to overthrow the elected government of the United States.  Trump spews hatred and he is a racist.  It's about time that he was held accountable for his actions.  He has gotten away with too much for too long. He is not above the law.  He should be held responsible for his misdeeds if found guilty by a criminal court of law.  

It is my hope that, due to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, he will not me permitted to run for public office because of his involvement with the January 6th insurrection.  I feel I have no choice but to continue to write about this present threat to democracy in the United States.

Democracies can be fragile under certain circumstances.  Those circumstances exist in the United States right now.  Donald Trump and his cohorts have taken control of the Republican Party.  They party of Lincoln is now a far-right cult with extremists such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, Jim Jordan and the current Speak of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson.   

Don't say you haven't been warned, America.  Donald Trump has made no secret of who he is and what he wants to do.  Your country will never be the same if he becomes president again.  Trump poses an extreme danger to the United States and to the world. 

- Joanne