Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No Letter Today

"No Letter Today" was the title of a once popular country and western lament. And that's what they're singing now at Canada Post. With the arrival of e-mail, texting, and other modes of instant electronic communication, the lovely old-fashioned custom of writing letters, sealing them in envelopes, adding stamps, and sending them by post may be following the flight plan of the dodo.

And this is a shame. On our shelves we have the collected letters of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Cheever, O'Hara, Thurber, Ogden Nash, Edna St. Vincent Millay, et al. And there is one wonderful book called "The World's Great Letters" that deserves the title, containing between its covers letters of, among others, Alexander the Great, Columbus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Napoleon, Beethoven, Poe, Lincoln, Byron, Darwin, and Sarah Bernhardt. There are also tributes to letters: William James said "As long as there are postmen, life will have zest."

So we have all these wonderful letters of the past, but who is going to collect e-mail correspondence? Okay, Steve Martin has published a collection of his tweets, but that has to be an anomaly. So while we brood on the vanishing art of letter writing, I know what I'm going to do: taking Fats Waller's advice, "I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Bow to the Bard

Peter Togni, on CBC Radio 2's "Choral Concert," has declared this Bach Month, and while we're all for that, sitting here whistling Air on the G String, we also must note that this is Shakespeare Month. As Cole Porter advised in "Kiss Me Kate," "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Richard Burton, performing in "Hamlet," was disconcerted to find an elderly party in the front row reciting the soliloquies with him, word for word, line for line. He couldn't, peering into the darkness, see this person, but he could hear the rumbling voice, which sounded somehow familiar.

Post-performance, sitting in his dressing room, Burton was informed that a member of the audience wished to see him. Hearing the voice outside the door, the actor knew it was his front row mimic. "Send him in," said Burton, prepared to vent his outrage.

But he didn't. For when the door was opened, in stepped, in a cloud of cigar smoke, Sir Winston Churchill.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Dix and Clark Show

Provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix has suggested that his government, if elected, might sell BC Place. Not only that, Pointless Digressions has learned, he might also sell BC's Legislative Buildings. "They'd make a charmingly quaint B&B," said Mr. Dix, "with a lovely view of the harbor and a few ghosts of premiers past. A wonderful tourist attraction." And to show there were no post-election hard feelings, he said, "We'd bring in Christy as concierge."

Meanwhile, Premier-for-now Christy Clark has shown herself ever ready to don hard hat and safety vest and operate everything from a nail gun to a forklift. It is rumored that for Monday's all-leader television debate she may bring a jackhammer. "And," said Ms. Clark, "you know who I'd like to hammer."

"That's 'whom'," said Mr. Dix.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

St. George, St. Will, St. Vlad, St. Roy

April 23: St. George's Day. Take a dragon to lunch.

Also the birthday of William Shakespeare, Vladimir Nabokov and Roy Orbison.

Now let's get this straight: Roy Orbison wrote "Hamlet" ("To be or not to be, ol' fella, that there is the dang question"), Shakespeare wrote "Pretty Woman" (originally "Pretty Dark Lady") and Nabokov toured with the Traveling Wilburys (penning their number one hit, "Lolita, My Nymphet Sweeta").

Tonight's special for St. George's Day: Dragon Stew flambe (courtesy of the fiery dragon).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Septuagenarian Superman

Superman turned 75 last week.

Yes, it was 1938 when the Man of Steel arrived from the planet Krypton to battle evil (with a little help from two teenage cartoonists named Siegel and Shuster).

Our Roving Reporter thought it was time to check in with Septuagenarian Superguy. Portions of the interview follow.

R.R.: So, Soup--is it okay if I call you that?--how has life changed for you now that you're into your senior years?

S'man:  Well, the X-ray vision isn't what it used to be. I'm now wearing trifocals and carrying a very large magnifying glass.

R.R.: But you're still out there foiling evildoers, right?

S'man: I am, but a little slower off the mark. Takes me longer to find a telephone booth to change in. Ever try changing in a cell phone?

R.R.: Would be tough. Unless you have the right app.

S'man: ..and I've had to have my tights let out. Put on a bit of weight.

R.R.: Happens to us all.

S'man: ..and a couple of times I've been picked up by the police for disrobing in a telephone booth.

R.R.: But I bet Lois Lane still finds you a most attractive guy.

S'man: Lois who? Could you speak into my good ear? Oh yeah, Lois--she's joined a group called the Angry Grannies. And things aren't quite the same for Clark Kent since Rupert Murdoch bought the Daily Planet. Poor old Clark is now in Classified Ads.

R.R.: Just one more question, Superguy. Are you..

S'man; Hold on, young fella--got a call that I'm needed on the other side of town. Could you give me a shove, to get me aloft?

And soon, astonished spectators called out:

"Look--up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's an old guy with a cape and a walker!"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Steve and Bibi Show

It was reported that following the service for Baroness Thatcher, Israel's Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu and Canada's Stephen Harper were to meet for a private lunch. This may have been their conversation:

BY: Wonderful service, eh, Steve? All those great guys there--Cheney, Kissinger.

SH: Yeah. (sigh) I'll never get one like that.

BY: Don't worry, Stevie. Remember what Josh Logan told Eli Wallach.

SH: And that was?

BY: We'll paper the house. Listen, let's order. I think I'll have the PLO.

SH: The what?

BY: The PLO. Parsley Lentil Omelet. And a bottle of California Shiraz. Steve, how about you?

SH: Maybe just a Velveeta sandwich. On white bread. Lite mayo. And a Diet Pepsi.

BY: I see you took a swing at young Trudeau for posing with his shirt off for the Lung Association.

SH: Indeed. I will never be seen with my shirt off.

BY: Wise move. So, it's the end of an era. I'll miss Margaret Thatcher.

SH: Me too.

BY: I used to dream of dating her. Well, on to today. Pity Mitt didn't get elected president.

SH: You're right, Benjamin. Obama comes to Ottawa, he gets more cheers than I do. Is that right?

BY: Romney, I could have done business with. Obama,  he drives me meshugana.

SH: How about this North Korea thing?

BY: I gotta say, that Kim Jong-un needs a new barber. And if he messes with the US, he may get one. They'd turn him into chopped liver. Speaking of which, how about we order some more? I could go a few cheese blintzes, maybe some schmaltz herring, more Shiraz...

Server: Another blini, Bini?

BY: That's Bibi, but sure.

SH: I think--well, what the heck! Let's go for it! I'll have another Diet Pepsi!

BY: You know how to live, Steve. Listen, I thought we might go to a synagogue later. Do you have a yarmulke?

SH: No, but I do have my cub scout beanie.

BY: Mazel tov, Steve.

SH: Have a nice day, Bibi.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oh no--not more politics

The BC Liberals (or, as they like to be known, "Today's Liberals") aired a 30-minute infomercial on television Sunday evening. It did well in audience ratings, placing just slightly behind "Family Guy" and "All-Star Bowling." The part of Premier Christy Clark was played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The federal NDP convention voted to eliminate the dreaded word "socialism" from its constitution, apparently under the belief that people actually read it. In any event, the S word will be uttered no more.

Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau has taken leadership of the federal Liberals, and is looking forward to the 2015 election, "so I can get my old room at 24 Sussex Drive back."

In his acceptance speech, Trudeau vowed there would be no negative campaigning, no attack ads coming from the Liberals. British Columbia's NDP leader, Adrian Dix, has declared the same thing, promising only positive, respectful advertising. Hearing this, John Baird lamented, "It's a sad day for democracy. Without distortions, character assassination, and spewings of virulent hatred, where would politics be?"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Further Political Persuasion

The Royal Bank of Canada today ran full-page, nation-wide advertisements apologizing for outsourcing jobs to Pago Pago and Ulan Bator. Executives of Canada's largest bank were said to have panicked at the threat of Marvin Freeble of Horsefly, BC, to withdraw his full $14.10 from his savings account.

Television commercials placed by groups presumed to be opposed to British Columbia's long-running (twelve years) Liberal government have shown both humor and subtlety. The commercial aired by BC teachers, for example, mentions neither the Liberals or NDP, or any other political party, but the message is quite clear. Advertising by the "Concerned Citizens for BC", meanwhile, shows neither humor nor subtlety. But then, the Concerned Citizens are said to be led by a former CEO of Finning International, and we all know that tractors seldom display humor or subtlety.

Finally, this item from the wonderful world of real estate: a waterfront dwelling in North Vancouver is up for sale at a price of $3,388,000. We were interested to note that this home is described as having "all the amenities of the Dollarton area." This reminded us that Malcolm Lowry once lived in a squatter's shack on the Dollarton flats, enjoying all the amenities of the Dollarton area. Cost him less than $3,388,000.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Politics of Persuasion

It is unfortunate, for the British Columbia Liberals and their supporters, that despite the massive amounts of money they continue to pour into their pre-election campaign, the advertising isn't working.

The Liberals have their earnest commercials built around Premier Christy Clark, and the group calling themselves "Concerned Citizens for B.C." has its ham-handed one-note screed, but none of it so far has had an impact on voter polls. It is true the Liberals' commercials have better production values than the official NDP TV spot, but in this case, it's the message, not the medium, that is winning.

Meanwhile, in contrast to the Concerned Citizens' funereal approach, a consortium of anti-Liberals has produced the very clever "Twelve Years" commercial. The Concerned Citizens pitch calls for fast action with the mute, but the "Twelve Years" spot is right up there with Superbowl commercials.

The old Ad Guy, a sometimes contributor to this site, believes it is still possible for the Liberals to rethink their advertising strategy and come up with a smarter sell. "But," he says, "don't call me."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Moose Jaw from Space

Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station, has tweeted a picture of Moose Jaw, "The Friendly City," as seen from space. His twitter reads, in part, "Moose Jaw, SK, and the airport where I truly learned how to fly."

That airport would be 15 Wing, which has been training pilots since the 1940s, and is the base of the RCAF Snowbirds.

And while you can see Wing 15--sort of--if you look very closely and concentrate you will also see The Milk Bar next to the Capitol Theatre, Otis Bowes standing in front of the Orpheum, Principal Max Ballard exhorting the Central Collegiate football team ("Play up, Sirs!"), couples arriving at Temple Gardens to dance to the music of Bill Smail's Belbeck Hillbilly Band, Dick Lillico running down Main Street to CHAB before they play his theme a third time, and the student nurses at Moose Jaw General in their starched white uniforms and navy capes.

Thanks to Commander Hadfield (and A. Einstein) time and space come together again.