Friday, February 15, 2019

Monarchists and Philatelists

The post office clerk said people had been telephoning, wanting to know when the new Canadian stamp bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II would be available. And it is now.

It is a particularly attractive picture of Her Majesty, taken on her 2010 Canadian tour by Chris Jackson. The camera has always been fond of the Queen, but this photograph--light purple ensemble, maple leaf brooch, rather sly smile--may be the best in years.

The portraits of British monarchs have appeared on postage stamps since 1840, when the world's first stamp was issued. It bore the crowned profile of Queen Victoria, and is known to collectors as the Penny Black.

Stamps that followed have carried the images of both Edwards, VII and VIII, and both Georges, V and VI. There was even one stamp, during the rein of George VI, showing the family--King and Queen and young princesses--on a palace balcony.

The value of these stamps among philatelists varies widely, and is surprising. The famous Penny Black, depending on its condition, can bring anything from $20 to $7,000. The Edward stamps, seldom seen, are not as valuable as one might think. The exception is a set of three intended to mark the coronation of Edward VIII. As the coronation never took place, the stamps were never issued. If you can turn them up, they're worth $332.99.

The most valuable of the British Royal stamps is the 1841 Penny Red. Estimated current price: $9.5 million.

But you can own one of the new Canadian stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth II for $1.05.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Presidential Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all--
I'm giving you a great big wall!

Time to cuddle and get cosy--
But I'm sending bricks to Ms. Pelosi.

Hearts and flowers, that's the law,
And a six-pack for Brett Kavanaugh.

And one from the Prime Minister:

Some say that I must hit the roady,
Please say we're still okay, Ms. Jody!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rams win at Hop & Vine

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Hop & Vine Taphouse, located a convenient crawling distance from the Pointless Digressions headquarters, offered patrons Team Burgers.

The Patriot Burgers came with bacon and blue cheese; the Ram Burgers, in a nod to Southern California, came with avocado, sun-dried tomato, onion and feta.

Following the game, your correspondent checked to see which Team Burger had triumphed. "It was close," a server told us, "but in my section, the Ram Burgers won."

This may not be a great comfort to Sean McVay, but one takes what one can get.

Pass the ketchup.

--Slap Maxwell.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Grooming Tips from the White House

Tune in tonight for the State of the Union message and hear Make-Up Secrets and Hairstyling Tips from the President.

Bonus follow-up feature: Sarah Huckabee Sanders's Fitness Routine.

Make America Gorgeous Again!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Diction Lesson

The hardest word in the dictionary
To pronounce is February.

Yes, it's here again, the month feared by radio announcers everywhere, except those on CBC's French network--Fevrier is much easier.

But we're here to help, and to show that with a little practice, you can beat the February jinx.

Just try mouthing this: Feb-roo-AIR-ee. Now do it again. And once more.

You've got it! By George, I think you've got it!

Next we're going to provide remedial instruction to all those who believe "route" rhymes with "gout," that "basil" rhymes with "nasal," and that the accent is on the first syllable in "research."

Friday, February 1, 2019

DeVone picks the Rams

DeVone Claybrooks, who has both Super Bowl and Grey Cup rings, has picked the Los Angeles Rams to win Sunday's Super Bowl. "Rams by three," Claybrooks said on CBC's "Early Edition," predicting a field goal victory in Atlanta. Place your bets.

Claybrooks is the new head coach of the BC Lions, succeeding Wally Buono. Talk about a tough act to follow. This year's Super Bowl coaches are Sean McVay for the Rams and Bill Belichick for the seemingly invincible New England Patriots. It is interesting that McVay, at thirty-three, is half the age of Belichick.

Asked about differences between the NFL Super Bowl and the CFL Grey Cup, Claybrooks said the big wins are similar. But while you might see a CFL star like Mike Reilly or Bo Levi Mitchell having lunch and go to their table to get an autograph, you would have to get through twenty lines of security to get near the Patriots' Tom Brady.

Slap Maxwell says he has never been awed or blown off his feet by a superstar quarterback, but he has been overwhelmed by a couple of cheerleaders.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Adieu, Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand has departed this world for whatever paradise awaits.

Almost everyone knows at least one Michel Legrand song--"The Summer Knows," "Windmills of Your Mind," "Watch What Happens," "Pieces of Dreams"--a gorgeous bouquet. One of the most interesting collections of these was recorded by Jessye Norman, with Legrand at the keyboard, Ron Carter, bass, and Grady Tate, drums. Norman sings many of the lyrics in French, which is good, because it means avoiding some English lyrics that have done a disservice to the melodies.

Not as many, perhaps, know what a fine pianist and composer Legrand was in jazz. The album we'll play today is "Michel Legrand: After the Rain," recorded in New York in 1982 with Zoot Sims, Joe Wilder, Phil Woods, Gene Bertoncini, Carter and Tate, and Legrand on keyboards, acoustic and electric pianos, and organ.

All of the pieces on the disc were composed by Legrand (like so many, a student of Nadia Boulanger), and all were recorded in one morning, in the brief time Legrand had between flights from Los Angeles to Paris. The liner notes say there were no formal charts, only lead lines, but another account has Legrand saying he wanted musicians who could sight read instantly, and as the pieces are so well structured, it would seem he had arrangements in mind. However it was done, it is a remarkable achievement, which rewards listening after listening (declares the old deejay).

Adieu, Michel Legrand. May the music continue thru eternity.