Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ready--or not

Apparently not.

But all is not lost in the BCTF-Liberal government dispute. Education Minister Peter Fassbender has promised to visit your home and provide tuition for your children (up to the short division level) for two hours a week, if the BCTF's Jim Iker will agree to get a haircut.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Vince ("Always") Ready Show

Vince Ready, widely regarded as the Rainmaker in labor disputes, has now placed himself in the middle of the BCTF-Liberal government impasse. Watching Mr. Ready on television, we noted a strong resemblance to Lou Grant, and thought, "There's a movie in his story!" Someone call Ed Asner.

The premiers of Saskatchewan and British Columbia have reached an agreement on inter-provincial free trade of wines and spirits. This means residents of Saskatchewan will be able to drink Burrowing Owl and Township 7, and British Columbians will get #1 Hard Rye. The deal was reached during Happy Hour at a Charlottetown bar.

Our Hollywood insider reports that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have married, surprising those of us who thought they had been married for years. It is not known if George Clooney was on hand to give the groom away.

And back to Vince Ready: Looking ahead to the inevitable 2015 debate among Canada's Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green Party leaders, we believe the proceedings would be more focused and more civil if Mr. Ready were to act as mediator. Failing that, the networks will have to bring in Whitey Dropko to referee a tag team match.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Ice Bucket Cometh

Lindsay Lohan has issued an ice bucket challenge to Prince Harry. Royal watchers and entertainment reporters are wondering if this might lead to a pairing of the two. "I do hope so," the Queen is reported to have said. "Harry needs to settle down a bit, and Miss Lohan may be the responsible one to do it."

Agata Andrzejczak, an analyst with London's International Wine and Spirit Research, has declared "Vodka is really passe." She believes vodka is being replaced by cider. Don't tell Putin. Don't tell Bond.

Back to the ice bucket challenge. Prime Minister Harper, traveling through the far north addressing crowds of seals and penguins, considered issuing a challenge to Justin Trudeau. He decided against it when told that the ice has to be in chips; he could not drop an iceberg on the Liberal leader's head.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dog Days--arf! arf!

We are in the midst of what are called the dog days, although by tradition they fall usually in July.

Many of us imagined the term "dog days" to have originated with Shakespeare, as almost every expression did, but in fact it goes back to our old pals, the ancient Romans.

Caesar and his buddies believed that Sirius, brightest star in the constellation of Alpha Canus Majoris, rising with the sun, pushed up the summer heat. Alpha Canus Majoris is, of course, the Big Dog, and Sirius was--and is--the dog-star. So, the Romans called this time of year caniculares dies--dog days.

Dog days--arf! arf!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Quick CFL Quiz

Although it's early in the CFL season, Slap Maxwell, who has fallen out of more press boxes than any other sports reporter in history, has come up with some conclusions. Here are Slap's questions, which he would call rhetorical if he knew what that meant:

Is Mike Reilly the best quarterback currently playing in the CFL?

Are the Edmonton Eskimos the comeback team of the year?

Is Chris Jones the early first choice for Coach of the Year?

Is Jon Cornish the best non-running running back in the country?

Now that Shea Emry has gone to the Argos, is Chip Cox the entire Montreal Alouettes defence?

Has Mike Benevides stopped changing his socks? (A few seasons ago, Benevides, then the Lions defensive coordinator, credited the team's winning streak to his continuing to wear the same socks, game after game. Asked by a sports reporter if he washed the socks between games, Benevides said, "Next question." Now that the Lions are winning again, Mike may have brought the sock strategy back into play.)

Slap says the answer to the first five questions is yes. He doesn't know about Mike Benevides's socks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Few Hot Tunes

Okay, we've already talked about Irving Berlin's "Heat Wave;" here are a few more songs suitable for a sizzling summer (stop me, as Jurgen Gothe once said, from alliterating again).

First, Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot," delivered by Bianca in "Kiss Me, Kate." "I'd like to coo with my baby tonight/And pitch the woo with my baby tonight/But it's too darn hot."

Then there's "Steam Heat"--sisss--from "Pyjama Game," and Duke Ellington's great "Harlem Air-Shaft," which he described as a picture of apartment life in the summer: "You hear fights, you smell dinner, you hear people making love."

But our favorite, perhaps, is "Ain't It Awful, the Heat?"--lyrics by Langston Hughes, set to music by Kurt Weill, and sung by two weary women sitting on tenement steps in Elmer Rice's "Street Scene."

And finally, for a splendidly surreal scene, there is this number, written by Edgar Leslie and Walter Donaldson, but best known, probably, from the Tom Waits recording:

"When it gets too hot for comfort
And you can't get ice cream cones
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around in your bones."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Warm Weather Records

As British Columbia continues its unusual stretch of hot summer weather, many records are being set. Expect to see these in the next Guinness Book of Records:

Fletchley Armbruster, British Properties--record for number of showers in one day: 32. "As soon as I step out of the shower and towel off," says Mr. Armbruster, "I turn on the cold water and hop right back in. I do this continuously from 6:00 a.m. to 10 p.m., when I retire to my bed, wrinkled and happy."

Armand Giroux of Maillardville--record for time spent in bathtub filled with ice cubes: 14 hours. "When they start to melt," he says, "I ring a little bell, and ma cherie dumps some more trays in. When I begin to turn blue, she pulls me out."

Vern Delilly, Vancouver--record for number of popsicles consumed in a 12-hour period: 56. "My favorite," said Mr Delilly, speaking with some difficulty over a frozen tongue, "is watermelon. But I am working on a recipe for gin and tonic popsicles. I think they could be a big hit. I have a slogan ready: Keep on Lickin' and Keep on Tickin'."

Finally, Marvin Scranley of Port Moody is trying to beat Howard Hughes's record for number of times watching "Ice Station Zebra"--the elusive industrialist's favorite film while hiding out at the Bayshore Inn. "It's a challenge," admits Mr. Scranley, "but I'm ready for it. Bring on the ice."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chance of a Ghost

Canada Post has issued a set of stamps honoring the country's fabled spectral presences. We could now call the corporation Canada Ghost.

Among the spirits saluted: the Ghost Train of St. Louis, Saskatchewan; the Phantom Ship of the Northumberland Strait; and the Ghost Bride of the Banff Springs Hotel. Still waiting to be seen, although often heard, is the Ghost Piper of Sauble Beach.

Ghosts like to hang out in hotels. Kingsley Amis's "The Green Man" opens with the appearance of a ghost in the manager's quarters: "I came out of our apartment on the upper storey to find somebody standing, back turned to me, near the stairhead. I took this person for a woman in an evening dress rather heavy for a humid August evening. Without a sound the figure turned to face me. I vaguely saw a pale, thin-lipped face, heavy auburn ringlets and some kind of large bluish pendant at the throat. I sensed a surprise and alarm that seemed disproportionate."

There are ghosts haunting Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, the Sylvia Hotel on English Bay, and--most famous locally--Hotel Vancouver, where a woman in a 1930s red gown has been spotted flitting thru elevator doors from the first floor to the fourteenth. The fourteenth seems to be her favorite. The hotel is so fond of her the bar has created a cocktail in her honor: The Lady in Red.

It has gotten to the point where no self-respecting hotel can get by without a haunting or two. Next time you call for a hotel reservation, ask first about the resident ghost.