Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Everything's fine. Just fine.

In the world of sports, every thing's fine. Just fine. Fine, fine, fine.

Everything is especially fine with Jim Devellano, senior vice-president of the Detroit Red Wings. Despite an NHL ruling demanding that everyone please just shut up, Jim Dee opened up to compare the league to a ranch and the players to cattle. Said Jim: "The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there." That cost Jim a cool $250,000 in a league-imposed fine. If the league really is a ranch, someone may be thinking of putting Jim out to pasture.

In football, BC Lions defensive star Khalif Mitchell was fined for making a throat-slashing gesture when lined up against the Edmonton Eskimos. Some believed this was a religious act, a vigorously devout sign of the cross. The CFL judges didn't buy that. Fine two, for Khalif so far this season. The Lions are hoping for a two and out.

Still with football, Jon Cornish of the Calgary Stampeders, the league's leading rusher, also became the league's leading mooner while playing against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina's Mosaic Stadium. It was a classic example of what is termed in television a wardrobe malfunction, although Cornish called it an "equipment slippage." News media are calling it Moon over Mosaic. Coach John Huffnagel was not amused, and Cornish was brought forward to intone a public apology and fork over some bucks as a fine. Some fans, standing by Cornish, called the penalty a bum rap.

Finally, some Saskatchewan Roughriders fans, known for their imaginative use of watermelons as helmets, have found a new use: watermelon halves as brassieres. Several of the Riders' bosom buddies were spotted on TSN wearing the new watermelon bras. We are relieved to report there was no wardrobe malfunction.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Play it again, Sam

The word "iconic" has become over used, and often ineptly used, but it is a descriptive most fitting for Sam the Record Man.

Sam and Sid Sniderman opened their first record store in 1937. They began in Toronto, and ultimately had 140 stores across Canada. Over more than sixty years in business, they moved from 78 rpm recordings ("platters" in old deejay talk) to LPs (33 1/3 rpm) and 45s and cassette tapes to compact discs.

We remember many hours spent in Sam's three-level store on Vancouver's Seymour Street, pawing through shelves of CDs, trolling in trays of bargain tapes. It was always a treasure hunt, with always some prizes waiting to be found.

Sam's shellac and acetate and vinyl empire began to come apart in 2000, when record stores and book shops and art house cinemas joined men's hat shops and corner candy stores in the dust of history. (No fine writing, please.)

So we bid adieu to Sam Sniderman, who departed this world this week at age 92. A good life, well lived, and our regret is largely for those who will never find themselves happily lost amid the wonders of a shop bearing the name of Sam the Record Man.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Curmudgeonly Monday

It has long been known that Monday is the grumpiest day of the week. In keeping with that, we present a few of the petty issues that have been causing us to edge ever closer to the liquor cabinet.

1. Pas des cravates. A friend of ours once sent out dinner invitations with that notation. He did so, we believe, because one or two of the invited guests did not know how to knot neckties. This was acceptable. But what is boring is seeing powerful politicians and titans of industry turn up without neckties and their shirt collars open, under the impression that this makes them look like regular guys, pals you might go bowling with, despite their $2,000 suits.

2. Now--the new "eh." Broadcast news persons have taken to punctuating their reports with the word "now," no matter how inappropriate the context. "Now" can be employed properly as a noun, adjective, adverb and conjunction. As currently used by many broadcasters, the word is taking the place of the discredited "eh."

3. Lottery commercials in which the glamorous make-believe winners look nothing at all like the people who actually win lotteries. Except for Barry Deley.

Okay, we feel better now.  And tomorrow is Tuesday. As Ira Gershwin once wrote, "Maybe Tuesday will be our good news day."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Like Ike

When General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower was the Republican nominee for US President, Irving Berlin composed a campaign song. He called it "I Like Ike." Here is a slight paraphrase of the first chorus:

"I like Ike
I'll shout it over a mike
Or a phone
Or from the highest steeple
Ike the choice of the people."

Farley Filby of the current Republican campaign committee says there have been attempts to come up with a similar song for nominees Romney and Ryan. So far, this is all they have:

"I like Mitt
Although he's a bit of a twit.
We want Romney
'Cause he will fix the econ'my.
We know that he won't quit,
So we like Mitt."

"We like Paul
'Cause he's got a whole lot of gall.
We like Ryan,
Even when he's lyin'.
Yes, there is no denyin',
We like Paul."

Finally, the Democrats are poised to counter with this:

"We like Obama.
With Barrack, there is no trauma.
And with Michelle,
The White House has lots of glama.
So don't let the country be sunk,
Vote for Mr. Slam Dunk,
Go with the guy that you know
And vote B.O.!"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This Just In

Bending, if not quite breaking, news from PD News Central:

The lockout of NHL players by the league owners now appears inevitable. Several players have already signed to play in other hockey-mad countries; e.g., Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Fiji. Disc jockeys are dusting off copies of Jeff Hamilton's "Split Season Blues" (okay, it's about baseball, but the feelings are similar) and there has been a rush of hockey fans to buy Gary Bettman voodoo dolls.

In the Excited States, the Democratic party has chosen its 2012 campaign song. It's Bruce Springsteen's "We Look After Our Own." The Republicans might have chosen the same song, although the people they look after are Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, et al.

Finally, England has been rocked yet again by photos of Royals en deshabille. Cyril Thogwort-Smythe, leader of an anti-monarchist group, said, "See--that's what it's always about with the upper class: a naked grab for power."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lights! Action! Charcuterie!

Our Hollywood correspondent, Vance Bindlemyer, reports that Gwyneth Paltrow will play Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of Manhattan's Prune restaurant, in a film adaptation of Ms. Hamilton's memoir, "Blood, Bones and Butter."

This will be the second filming, in the past few years, of the life and career of a famous chef, the first, as you all know, being Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child.

This led us to think that there are movies waiting to be made about many chefs. We can see them on the big screen now--Dolly Parton as Paula Deen, Robert Downey, Jr. as Bobby Flay, Anne Hathaway as Rachael Ray, Will Ferrell as Emeril, Stompin' Tom Connors as Michael Smith, John Cleese as Keith Floyd, Dustin Hoffman as Jamie Oliver, and, as Gordon Ramsay, that wild guy who swears at people, Jack Nicholson, in his best hyper-anger mode.

And to play Anthony Bourdain? Anthony Bourdain.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Don't Improvise, Just Plagiarize!

A new film called "The Words" tells the story of a blocked writer who finds an old manuscript and passes it off as his own. An appropriate, if not exactly riveting, topic, for plagiarism is much in the air at present.

We were reminded of a story Helen Lawrenson tells in her memoir "Stranger At the Party." While traveling in Europe as a young woman, Lawrenson sent amusing letters to her Aunt Grace. When she returned, she discovered that Aunt Grace had published the letters, calling them "Travel Diary of a Sub-Deb," under her own name.

More fun with words: Philip Roth recently addressed an open letter to Wikipedia, saying that when he informed it that there was an error in its account of Roth's novel "The Human Stain," Wikipedia responded that while the author might be the leading authority on his own work, it required "secondary sources."

Then there was Romain Gary, only writer to win the Prix Goncourt twice--once under that name, once under a nom de plume.

And finally, this story from Graham Greene. Finding that some publication was running a contest for the best imitation of Graham Greene's style, Greene entered the contest under an assumed name. When the judging was done, he came in second.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Making Book on the Nobel

English bookmakers will give you odds on anything, and right now they're ranking possible winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. You will notice that Pointless Digressions is not on the list.  But here are some that are:

Coming in at 16 to 1: Philip Roth, Amoz Oz and Cormac MacCarthy. At 20 to 1: Alice Munro, Thomas Pynchon and Bob Dylan (yes!). Umberto Eco comes in at 25 to 1, followed by Don DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates and E.L. Doctorow, all more or less unreadable, at 33 to 1. Margaret Atwood is listed at 50 to 1, along with Michel Tournier (our choice) and Maya Angelou. At 56 to 1 we find a lot of names: Ursula LeGuin, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard (not bad), Colm Tolbin, A.S. Byatt, Milan Kundera, William H. Gass, Yevgeni Yevtushenko (whose day, when he was the cool young Russian poet, seems to have passed), Julian Barnes, and John Ashberry (could take it). Michael Ondaatje ("The English Patient") is listed at 100 to 1.

The front runner (runner is an appropriate designation here): Haruki Murakami, one-time Tokyo jazz bar owner and marathon runner, born in Kyoto in 1949. Among his books: "The Thieving Magpie," "Norwegian Wood," "South of the Border" (he is a music buff) and "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running." Odds on Murakami: 7 to 1.

And for all you breathless fans of "Fifty Shades of Grey," this news: E.L. James is listed at 500 to 1.

Place your bets.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Page for Cage

The gazillions of worldwide followers of this blog have been asking: "Where is it?" "What is not happening?"

We have answers.  Choose the one you like:

* The PD team was rehearsing the chair for Clint Eastwood
* The PD team was showing the BC Lions offensive line how to become really offensive
* The Internet rejected our blogs on the grounds of incomprehensibility

Okay, now that we've cleared that up, let us turn to the birthday of John Cage, who, were he still with us, would have turned 100 September 5. Cage, perhaps the most striking of the US  avant-garde post-World War Two composers, was a proponent of the prepared piano, in which all sorts of objects--paper clips, bobby pins, rubber bands--are attached to the piano strings or hampers or dampers. It produces an unusual but not unattractive sound. Patrick Wedd, in Vancouver in the 1970s, experimented with a prepared piano.

Cage wrote some quite lovely works, but what everyone remembers are his more audacious presentations, including several radios all tuned to different stations at the same time, and especially "Four Minutes and 33 Seconds," a work of total silence.

One critic said, "We look forward to longer works in this style by Mr. Cage."

Cage was into "The Sounds of Silence" decades before Paul Simon.

Okay, gotta go--Bill Clinton is calling.