Friday, July 31, 2015

Canine Etiquette

Strolling thru the neighborhood the other day, we encountered a woman walking a very large dog. Or a very large dog walking a woman.

As we edged to one side to let them pass, the woman said. "Just keep going." And then, "Good boy! Good boy!"

We're still unsure whether the woman was talking to the dog or to us.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Where Have All the Lyrics Gone?

The day of the song lyricist--Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams, Dorothy Fields, Comden and Green, The Beatles--seems under a cloud. Temporarily, we hope.

Current pop songs, as featured on the deconstructed CBC, often have only one line; e.g., "Tell me what you want from me," "She's makin' me hot" and "Take your clothes off" repeated vigorously over three painful minutes.

We hope there soon will be a revival of the wordsmith's art. Meanwhile, we note that Dal Richards is once again working the summer circuit. We look forward to hearing Canada's favourite nonagenarian bandleader singing "Take your clothes off."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No Figs

Pasquale Cusano said to me, "How can you have a fig tree? You're not Italian."

If I had thought quickly, I could have said, "Signor, considering the number of times fig trees are mentioned in the Bible, the fig tree is probably more Israeli than Italian."

But yes, there was a fig tree in the yard, purchased and planted by son Christopher. It joined other fruit-bearing trees and bushes--peach, apple, pear, plum, raspberry and bramble berry. A very elderly Italian gentleman used to come down the lane and gather pears that had fallen. A neighbor made a lovely rose-tinted wine from the plums.

And now in the midst of our near Mediterranean summer, the figs are ripe, and it is time to enjoy them with honey-drizzled ricotta and mint leaves, or grilled, splashed with pomegranate syrup and served with chèvre on the side.

And "No Figs"? That's the title of a classic recording made around 1950 by the Metronome All-Stars. Good jazz, but we have, happily, plenty of figs.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stupid Political Tricks

Two contenders for the Republican Party's nomination for US President--Senators Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul--have posted videos showing themselves in action. Senator Graham is shown crushing, juicing and toasting his cell phone (after the Donald revealed its number) and Senator Paul may be seen burning and otherwise trashing, with wood chopper and chain saw, the US tax code. David Letterman, where are you when we need you?

Meanwhile, on our home and native turf, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared he will appoint no new Senators, allowing the current residents of the Red Chamber to age, wither, and fall comatose in their well-upholstered chairs. This is a great departure from PM Steve's record appointment of fifty-nine senators, when the rallying cry was "Buy my CD and win a seat in the Senate!"

Finally, born again Liberal Eve Adams failed to win her Toronto riding's nomination to run for Parliament against Joe Oliver in the upcoming October election. "Gee," said Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, "I'm shocked. I thought after her work in 'American Hustle' the nomination would be a walk-in for Eve Adams."

Liberal aide: "That was Amy Adams, Mr. Trudeau."

Trudeau: "Oh. Well, can we get her to run for us?"

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Clear Thinking, in Politics and Radio

The report that serfs in Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs have been instructed to provide Minister Rob Nicholson with three items per week on terrorism reminded us of a time when CKLG issued a similar order.

LG, then the banana republic of Vancouver radio stations, called for "Special Events" to be logged every twenty minutes. The unfortunate directed to produce these "special events" was Ron Morrier. Frequently he was reduced to reading road reports and announcements of community muffin sales.

It was in this period that the "society dance band" music of Lester Lanin and others had a brief flurry of popularity. John Hunt, then station manager (second of five to hold the job over three or four years) told music librarian Terry Clarke to program nothing but society dance band music over six midday hours.

"But John," Terry protested, "do you think the listeners want six hours of society dance band music?"

"To hell with the listeners," said Hunt. "What I want are ratings."

Friday, July 17, 2015

No Ice Cream for Bernie

The proprietors of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream have drawn strong criticism for providing frozen treats to a crowd attending a rally for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. (Senator Sanders is one of the handful of contenders for the Democratic Party's nomination for US President, compared to the cast of thousands hoping for the Republican nod.)

Here's the sort of attack the ice cream makers have been facing, rendered in verse by Republican poet laureate Milton Entwistle:

On this issue, we make no bones--
Don't give Bernie ice cream cones!
If this continues, we'll have cause
To move our trade to Haagen Dazs.

Anyone for a Tequila Trumpsicle?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Don & Ted Show

Despite or because of inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants, Donald Trump is neck and neck (or hair-do and hair-do) with Jeb Bush in polls tracking Republicans scrambling for the party's nomination for US president.

Most of the other Republican candidates have distanced themselves from Trump's comments, or even criticized them, but not Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz, the only person born in Canada ever to have a run at the White House (he is now a born again Texan) has supported Mr. Trump. This has led some to imagine a dream team going into the 2016 election--Trump and Cruz!

With this in mind, supporters have already prepared a campaign song. Pointless Digressions is proud to present its first public airing:

Hey America, lose your blues--
Cast your vote for Trump and Cruz!
We can get out of this slump
With the team of Cruz and Trump!
Pull together and move on
With the mighty Ted and Don!

In other interstellar news, NASA has successfully produced up close and personal images of Pluto. Next on the space agency's list: Goofy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kenny G & Mother Canada

Notes from our Summer Trivia Issue:

Saxophonist Kenny G gives perhaps his most memorable performance in a Snickers TV commercial, playing his horn at a poker table. However, we do not get the scene where Sonny Rollins comes in and says, "I'll raise you three riffs."

Meanwhile, residents of Cape Breton are preparing themselves for the erection of a 24-metre statue in Highlands National Park. The statue, dubbed "Mother Canada," will be accompanied by a gift shop, where, one guesses, visitors will be able to buy John Diefenbaker tee shirts and CDs of Stephen Harper's greatest hits.

Finally, a line from jazz musician Bob Brookmeyer: "Saxophonists get all the girls, trumpet players make all the money, and trombone players develop an interior life."

Brookmeyer plays the trombone.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Post-Game Haiku

Downcast eleven
Fly across the sea so blue
In silver sorrow.

Haiku and Soccer

This is the day for the 2015 Championship Match in FIFA Women's World Soccer, with Japan and the USA meeting on the pitch at BC Place.

The leading booster for the American team will be Vice-President Joe Biden, but the Japanese--current world champions--are not without stellar boosters, for in the stands today will be Kato Yamaguchi, Poet Laureate of Sam's Sake & Sushi Bar, and his companion, the still lovely Miss Cherry Blossom 1996.

"For the occasion," said Kato, "I have composed a haiku which I believe will help bring victory to our noble ladies. I will recite it for you now:

"Sun bright on the pitch
Fleet young figures dart with grace
Suddenly, they strike!"

See you at BC Place. Don't forget the sun screen.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Okay, so it's just the start of the season...

...but even so, can we see a pattern developing? In recent years the Canadian Football League seemed to belong to the West (once Calvillo and Cahoon were out of the picture); but this year, the Eastern teams are coming up with surprises.

First the Montreal Alouettes humbling the Calgary Stampeders, last year's Grey Cup winners. And then consider this weekend's BC Lions-Ottawa Redblacks game. What we saw was new Lions coach Jeff Tedford chewing a lot of gum while Henry Burris and Brad Sinopoli chewed up a lot of turf.

Looking at the lineups this season, one wonders what GMs were thinking when they traded Nick Lewis, Mo Price, Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams, Greg Ellingson, Sinopoli, et al. for younger possibilities. Some dream of the future? Maybe the 2018 season?

Meanwhile, in Calgary, political leaders gathered, as they must, for the Stampede. Somebody has to tell Stephen Harper that good guys do not wear the black hat.

For PD Sports, this is Slap Maxwell.

The Glorious Fourth

Here it is, the Glorious Fourth of July--light the fireworks, wave the flag, give the downbeat to the marching bands!

The Fourth of July, celebrated throughout the fifty states, although with less enthusiasm in Texas.

The Fourth of July, claimed as their birthday by Louis Armstrong and George M. Cohan. Fact checkers may quibble, but as the newspaper editor says in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Ah, yes, the Glorious Fourth, full of meaning for those of us with Bad Axe roots!

So let us sing:

I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy
Yankee Doodle, do or die!
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam,
Born on the Fourth of July!

I've a Yankee Doodle sweetheart,
She's my Yankee Doodle joy.
Yankee Doodle came to London,
Riding on a pony--
I am that Yankee Doodle boy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Politics and Ice Cream

Political scraps of the week:

Donald Trump has cancelled his plans for a vacation in Mazatlan.

Following the resounding "No" vote on the transportation referendum, several Lower Mainland mayors were seen on the TransCanada Highway trying to thumb a ride.

And as ice cream wagons patrolled neighbourhoods, with Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" drawing mobs of children, one perspiring father said, "When does the frozen daiquiri wagon come around?"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Snow Dreams

It's played usually in December, but "White Christmas" is really a warm weather song.

No, wait, hear me out. Here's the situation: the Crosby character is sitting on the steps of his dressing room in the middle of what passes for winter in Southern California, and trying to cool off. So this is the verse he sings:

The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and the palm trees sway.

There's never been such a day
in Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December twenty-fourth

And I am longing to be up North.

Okay, now pour yourself a Slushie and come in on the chorus.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oh! Canada!

Here it is Canada Day, 148 years after the big Charlottetown clambake.  Gosh--148 years--where did the time go?

Many celebrations, of course, and none bigger than the day's events on Parliament Hill. Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his Sir Elton John mode ("We don't agree on everything, of course") is scheduled to perform "With a Little Help from My (Rapidly Disappearing) Friends," backed by the Stevettes: Rona Ambrose, Lisa Raitt and Leona Aglukkaq.

Meanwhile, on another stage, Elizabeth May and the May-Bees will sing "Hit the Road, Steve!"

Face painting will be offered, in all the national party colors. Orange and black are the current favourites, and, noting their leadership in the polls, NDP organizers will present a demonstration of poll dancing.

Challengers are lining up for the John A. Macdonald Chug-a-Lug Contest, and ticket sales are booming for the "Win a Seat in the Senate" lottery.

And for relaxation from all this busting patriotic activity, Alberta energy producers invite celebrants to their hospitality suite. "C'mon in," they say, "and get oiled."

"O Canada," said a First Nations chief, "our home and native land. Emphasis on 'our'."